The Happiness Project: January


A couple of months ago I was listening to my girl Oprah’s podcast (a post coming shortly on podcasts but this is a must listen!) and I was immediately intrigued by her interview with Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project. If you know me, I love a good challenge or project. I’m always up for a month of whole 30, a new gym class, etc. I thrive off of the completion of projects and the accomplished feeling that comes with it. As I was listening to her interview, I couldn’t help but wonder…could I be happier? I am extremely confident in saying that everyone’s answer is “yes”. Now, I am fortunate to have a steady job, a loving husband, a kickass family, a beautiful home, some pretty amazing friends, etc. Overall, I live a fabulous life and I’m very happy. But, like many of you, I easily get bogged down with worry, stress and anxiety – about my future, about finances, about my body, about having kids, about my job. I think this is pretty normal and it’s important to not only be aware of these flaws, but to address them head on and always work on being the best version of ourselves that we can be. Not only for us, but for those around us. Thus, was born, my happiness project. So, for the next 12 months, once a month, I’ll be recapping my focus of the previous month – my goals, my achievements, my shortcomings and what I learned. I hope you’ll follow along in my journey!


When I decided to start this project, it was pretty difficult to organize all of the areas in my life that I thought either needed improvement, I should be working on, are lacking, or are flourishing. I want to not only identify areas that I desire improvement in, but also recognize what is working in those areas that I’m happiest in. As a 30-something woman, newly married with no kids, I realize that my goals may look different than someone else’s and that they certainly will change along as time moves along. With new life stages come new challenges and new thrills, but I think that the 12 different topics I decided on are a good fit for me and for where I am in life. I figured I would start off my yearlong happiness project with an area that I’m somewhat decent at: vitality.  I’m breaking this down into two parts: health + clutter. That may seem like an odd combo, but let me explain.

Part 1: Health + Wellness

I think it’s fair to say that we could all use a “reset” in the health department every January. The post- holiday slump usually comes with a few added pounds and some poor habits to boot. We traveled so much July – December that I was definitely out of my ordinary routine. I used January as the perfect excuse to get back to it. Lucky for me, I really enjoy working out and my husband is the director of fitness at a gym, so I had no excuse. I quickly got back into the habit of working out 5-6 days per week. Naturally, with increased exercise comes better sleep (my body is tired), less stress (hello endorphins) and healthier eating (am I the only one whose eating habits are cleaner when on a high exercise plan?). There are two areas I tried hard to work on, but I’ll admit there are a few elements that could use improvement. First is going to bed earlier – I would ideally love to be asleep 11pm-7am but sometimes I stay up too late reading/working/watching Netflix. I’ve been a night owl my whole life so this is no easy task. Second is drinking more water. I love water and typically drink at least 4-5 of my large green Gatorade water bottles per day; however, my goal is 8. Hydration is key for sleep, skin, hair, appetite, workouts, etc. The benefits of being properly hydrated are truly never ending.

The Verdict: I feel really good about my health in January. Sure, I could hit the sack earlier, drink more water and indulge a bit less, but I’m about 80/20 right now and that’s okay with me.

Part 2: Clutter

Alright, so to me there are 3 types of clutter: physical, emotional and mental. I’m working on all 3 as I feel that you’re truly not at your healthiest without all 3 being addresed.

Physical Clutter: The obvious “junk drawer”, the storage unit, the overstuffed closets…everyone has areas in their home to de-clutter. I thoroughly enjoyed decluttering as much of my home as I could. I was ruthless while cleaning out closets (let’s be honest…that dress was never cute) and it was such a weight off my shoulders when I donated two large bags of home décor and three large bags of clothing to my local Goodwill. These items weren’t bringing me joy anymore, but hopefully they will to someone else. A few key takeaways that you can incorporate in your everyday de-cluttering: make the bed every morning and spend about 10 minutes cleaning up before bed at night. Also I created a weekly “power hour” where I spent one hour (11am-12pm for me) on Fridays doing those pesky, annoying tasks I procrastinated on all week: writing thank you notes, paying parking tickets, picking up dry cleaning, etc. I set aside this hour and at the end, I felt a HUGE sense of relief. I’m telling you, this is a good one!

Emotional Clutter: To me, this is working on “letting go” of emotional weight. For example, the friend who treated you poorly, the silly fight with your husband, the promotion you didn’t get at work, etc. It is stuff (typically in the past) that is emotionally weighing you down. Let. It. Go.

Mental Clutter: While similar to emotional, this is more chatter in the brain. Worrying about the 25 tasks I need to do, my mile long to do list, etc. Staying organized and focused was key here.

Emotional + Mental clutter had a lot of interchanging features so I treated them similar. For the past month, I’ve been using the “headspace” app every single morning. It only takes 5 minutes but with those 5 minutes of meditation and focus, I start my day grounded and calm. This turns off both the chatter in my brain (mental) and helps me focus on what’s important (emotional). It is an excellent tool and I hope to continue to use mediation on a daily basis going forward. Also, I’ve been trying hard to eliminate useless media intake – especially television & social media. I’ve shifted more toward reading and podcasts. It’s amazing how much your daily happiness can increase when you don’t give yourself time to play the comparison game.

The Verdict: The removal of physical clutter has had an immediate, direct impact on my overall happiness. Less is more to me, without a doubt. The emotional & mental clutter are going to be an ongoing exercise for me but I have already seen a shift in my daily outlook.

February for me is “marriage”. I figured that with Valentine’s Day, love is a good topic to address. No matter how happily married you are (and I am!), there is always room for improvement. Always a way to be a better partner. I look forward to sharing my February results with you in a few short weeks!


Have you read The Happiness Project? What’s a good monthly topic?


10 Valentines Day Ideas for Anyone

Happy 1st day of February everyone! Finally, January is over (was that the longest month or what?!)

So, I’m a pretty firm believer that Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark holiday with minimal value. It puts way too much pressure on couples and makes singles feel bad about themselves. It’s insane to spend $50 on red roses (my least favorite flower, FYI) and who says that you should show all this love on one random day…shouldn’t you show your partner love every day? Anyways, you get my point. So, while I won’t be doing anything extravagant or accepting any big gifts, I want to share a few ideas that anyone can do on Valentine’s Day, if you want a fun way to celebrate the holiday.

Valentines Day Ideas for Anyone.jpg

Send flowers to someone without a significant other: whether it’s your widowed grandmother or recently single friend, this small gesture will really brighten what could be a sad for them day.

Have a day date: forego the overpriced, fancy dinner and grab brunch. Or spend the day doing something you love together – for me, it would be hiking or skiing. Between work, school, kids, etc. – it’s so rare these days that we get to spend a full day with those we love so why not block off the day and enjoy it together!

Mail cards to friends & family: who says that only kids can exchange Valentine cards? Have some fun with this and use it as a way to reconnect with those who you don’t see on a regular basis.

Cook dinner for someone special: husband, fiancé, friend, parent…use this day as an excuse to show off your culinary skills. A homemade meal will always trump a restaurant one in my book!

Treat yourself: Spa. Mani/Pedi. You name it. While I am always a fan of pampering, this day is a great excuse to treat yo’self! Head to Chinatown (only $35 for 1 hour of reflexology – done!) Better yet, take along your mom/sis/bestie.

Bake something yummy for your coworkers: since v-day falls on a week day this year, whip up a batch of red velvet cupcakes or heart shaped cookies for your coworkers. Everyone loves a humpday treat to help get through the week.

Buy something pretty and pink (or red!): any day that’s an excuse for shopping is a good day in my book. Treat yourself to a cute new pink sweater (link jcrew x back), a cute maroon crossbody (link TB), or some cute pink hair bows (jcrew).

Find a girl’s workout: it’s always fun to have a workout buddy and I would choose a workout over drinks with friends most days. Check out a new yoga class, barre class or spin sesh that you’ve been wanting to try.

In a relationship? Instead of a gift, opt for an experience: sure, we all enjoy receiving gifts but isn’t an experience always more fun than a tangible item in the long run? You could spend $500 on an overpriced restaurant dinner and a watch, or you could spend $500 on a weekend getaway…you choose!

Single? Host a girl’s night- bring wine, order in your favorite dinner and watch a fun movie together (bonus, this year it’s on #winesdaywednesday)


6 Months of Marriage

I can’t believe that it has been since months since Terry & I said “I do”. To say that the time has flown by quickly would be a huge understatement. Granted we’ve had a lot of big changes within the past six months (moving, new jobs, etc), I still can’t believe it – our newlywed year is halfway over (and I hear the time flies by even faster when kids are in the mix!). Though I’m no expert on marriage yet, I thought it would be fun to share my six favorite moment of marriage thus far…

My 6 favorite moments.jpg

one of my favorite shots from our fabulous photographer

Our Trip to Africa

I’m sure that you are sick of me talking about how Africa was the best trip of my life, but it was that good for many reasons. Of course, I loved the culinary, the scenery, the people, the safari, the wine country, the hotels, etc. That was all fabulous and unlike any other vacation I’ve ever had by itself. However, without a doubt, the best part of the trip was being able to experience it together, as husband and wife. We were still on the blissful high of the wedding and we felt so incredibly special everywhere we went. We were both checking off our number one bucket list item, and we were doing it together. We will always have an unattainable memory from Africa – one that we know will never be matched. We learned so much about ourselves and were so humbled by the people and animals of Africa that there really was no better way for us to start our marriage.

Moving Into “Our” Home

This has probably been the biggest change for us, and in the best possible way. When we were engaged, I moved into Terry’s place and while he allowed me to throw out all of his stuff redecorate, it never truly felt like our home. Moving back to the South End has made our life infinitely more enjoyable (hello parking spot, in unit laundry, outdoor space and dishwasher!) and it allowed us to create a warm, loving, comfortable home environment that is ours. Oh, and Mela loves it too!

Hearing “My Wife”

I just was getting used to “fiance” when all of the sudden I’m supposed to say “husband” (still so weird and I catch myself saying fiance or even boyfriend sometimes haha). On the flip side, it’s so exciting to hear him say “my wife” with such pride and joy. It still makes me swoon and it is not something I am used to yet (I mean, I haven’t even changed my name). It’s a silly thing, I know, but it’s one of those exciting moments that will fade with time so I want to enjoy it while it’s still new :-).

Becoming A True Team

One thing I’ve always loved most about Terry is that from day one of dating, I have always felt like we are partners, we are equals, and he both respects and values my opinion. We’ve always felt like partners. But something about being husband + wife has made it feel more real and more meaningful. We make decisions together, we take the ups and downs together, and we plan for our future together. It’s so comforting to know that he is the person I am creating this life with and we’re truly each others’ #1 fans.

Reliving Our Special Day

This is a fun thing that we have been doing recently, as our wedding albums are being put together, our video is being edited and we’re seeing some family & friends again for the first time since our wedding. We watched our entire wedding ceremony and it was such a bizarre, emotional experience to hear us reading our vows. Both Terry and I feel that the wedding was a huge blur and that it flew by way too fast! Being about to recap fun stories with friends, discussing favorite moments with family and reliving the best day of our lives through picture and video has been so special.

Having “Firsts” Together

A lot of the aforementioned favorite memories are indeed firsts for us. Visiting Africa together, moving into our new home, watching Terry start a new job – they’re all new and exciting. It’s hard to think of what “firsts” you’ll have with someone after you’ve been dating a while. Sure, kids are the obvious answer but I’m trying to really soak in all of the smaller moments. While they may not be major life milestones, they’re important to us and it is so wonderful to experience these together. Like our first Christmas as a married couple. It doesn’t get much more special than that.


cheers to many, many, MANY more months with this stud!



My Top 10 Wedding Planning Tips

I’ve spent the past five weeks reminiscing about the best day of my life and it has been an absolute joy to share it with y’all. As a quick recap, I shared our wedding vision, the hotel we chose, our day at the track, our “I Do BBQ” rehearsal dinner and finally, the big day. This eight month engagement process was a true mix of emotions – at times I was stressed or anxious (mostly about the weather! ha) but the vast majority of the days I was excited and eager to plan the wedding of my dreams. And that it was.


Without a doubt, the best money you can spend is when you hire a coordinator. Whether that means a day of coordinator (like I had) or a full fledged wedding planner, you’ll need someone by your side that you can count on. And I don’t mean a friend or your mom (they have enough to worry about). The actual wedding day flies by so it’s critical to have a person in place that is checking every detail for you. Your job that day is to relax, have fun, and live in the moment!

If there is one word you need to remember it is this: organization. Let me say it again…organization, organization, organization. Lucky for me, I have a super duper case of OCD and I just loved carrying my wedding binder around with me and having every contract and timeline perfectly color coded. If you’re not organized, get a wedding binder and do your best. Better yet, find a wedding planner who is & follow their lead.

The initial stages of planning can be very overwhelming so it’s important to know your priorities. For my fiance and I, we know that we wanted a destination wedding with (a) open bar (b) good music and (c) an outside venue. Those were the three factors that were non-negotiables for us and we stuck to it. For some, it may be a designer dress and for others it may be a certain meal. Whatever you & your soon-to-be-hubby really want on your big day is what you should prioritize.

Which brings me to my next piece of advice: make it your own. I can’t even tell you how many people are going to give their (unsolicited) advice and let you know loud & clear what’s important to them. Guess what? Who cares! This day is about the bride + groom and the day should reflect what y’all want it to, not what your wedding planner or maid of honor or mother in law want. What you want. Now is the one phase in your life where it’s okay to be selfish- in fact, I suggest it!

A good way to stay within budget and to kick off the weekend is to keep the rehearsal dinner low key. Now I know many will disagree with me, but I can’t recommend it enough. There was nothing better than having guests show up, feeling calm & comfortable, and enjoying a BBQ dinner outside, under the stars! We ate good food, we drank good beer, we danced to live music, we told funny stories, etc. This vibe carried over into the wedding day and everyone really felt that they could be themselves – too many weddings are stuffy these days. Where’s the fun in that?!

A piece of advice that is applicable to really anything in life, but especially on your big day is to trust your gut. If you’re feeling pressure to do one thing but don’t really want to, speak up. If this whole wedding planning thing is just way too expensive and overwhelming and an elopement is what you want deep down, do it! Remember what I said about being selfish?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…negotiate everything. Maybe it’s the salesperson in me or maybe it’s the insane inflated prices that come with weddings these days but oh my goodness, please negotiate! I cannot tell you how much money I saved by negotiating with vendors. You want flowers? Sure they’re $100/centerpiece. Oh, they’re for your wedding? I meant $500/centerpiece. True. Story. There will be vendors you have to walk away from and there will be vendors that will work within your budget. Find them.

As you get closer to the big day, it’s important to delegate where possible. If asking for help isn’t your strong suit (or you’re type A like me) now is the time to get over that and let others help you! Your friends, family & bridal party are there to be supportive in every way, even if that means your dad is super gluing together ceremony fans 72 hours before the wedding (sorry dad!). Most everyone has something they’re good at so put them to work – y’all know the saying…together we achieve more!

Everyone told us to prepare that something will go wrong. And so we did. We had our mentality that “it is what it is” and if Mother Nature decides to unleash her fury on our wedding day, so be it. If one of the groomsmen ends up being that guy and making an ass of himself all night, so be it. We were prepared. Thankfully, we had the best luck one can have on our wedding day and everything went right. In fact, it went better than planned. That, or I was too much in complete bliss all day to notice any different 🙂

Lastly, remember this moment. The best thing Terry and I did at our wedding was, about 2/3 of the way through the reception, we snuck away to take a moment for just us. We were in the field looking back on our tent full of our 120 most loved ones in the world. It wasn’t lost on us that all of these people were here to celebrate our love and that there likely won’t be another moment where my 85 year old grandmother is dancing next to Terry’s childhood best friend. This day will be the absolute best day of your life and one that will be in your heart forever. Do your best to soak. it. all. in.

What’s your best wedding planning tip?!

Our Wedding, Part 5: Ceremony + Reception

SO…now that you’ve see our vision, our hotel, our day at the track & our rehearsal dinner, let’s talk about the big day! In fact, I think I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves. All I’ll say is this: the day was absolutely perfect – better than I even dreamed – and I was so sad for it to end. The food, the drink, the music, the flowers, the people, the weather, the clothes…everything was perfect. Terry & I were on cloud nine the entire day and looking through these pictures takes us right back there. The day flew by (as everyone said it would) but we did our best to soak it all up. So, without further adieu, here is our wedding day:

View More:




Fine Art Wedding Photographer Matthew Moore


T&I wedding

View More:

A special thank you to our fabulous vendors: Venue, Saratoga Polo Club; Catering + Cake, Old Daley Catering; Florist, Blooms for Rooms; Musicians, All Seasons Trio; DJ, Cool Hand Luke; Chairs, Total Events; Photography, Matthew Moore; Videography, The Pros; Invitations, Wedding Paper Divas; Dress, Sweet Elegance Bridal; Tuxedos, Ludlow; Event Design, BellWether Theory; Accommodations, Pavilion Grand Hotel + Hilton Garden Inn.


Our Wedding Part 4: I Do BBQ

Welcome back to the 4th installment of our wedding weekend! You can catch up reading about our hotel, our vision, and our day at the track. I’ve got to say, the energy on that Friday was amazing – the track really kicked off the weekend and allowed everyone to mingle and get to know each other (since 105 out of 112 guests attended!). By the time our Friday night rehearsal dinner rolled around, it felt like new friends were old friends. Is there any better feeling?!


Last picture as an engaged couple 🙂

Terry & I had one goal for Friday night: a relaxed, fun backyard BBQ. Given that the track day was fancy & our wedding was black tie optional, we wanted everyone to be able to have a laid back evening and simply enjoy each other’s company. The weather was 70 and slightly overcast so it was absolutely perfect for an evening outside. Here are a few things we did to create this vibe:

Our venue, The Museum of Dance, was a private, indoor/outdoor space where we could bring in any vendors of our choice. We set up round dining tables in the large foyer which had high ceilings, large white columns, floor to ceiling windows and french doors opening to a huge courtyard set up with live music, lawn games, a self serve bar and plenty of additional seating. The museum was also conveniently located two doors down from the hotel that 90% of our guests were staying at, so everyone was able to walk over which made it so easy.


The front of the museum

We opted to rent some items from Rustic Robin, a local company who kindly dropped off the items & picked them back up the day after. It made the process so much easier – I was going for a rustic theme so we opted for bride & groom cornhole, adult jenga & a few assorted frames with twine. We used these to display our travel pictures and to help our guests build our “bucket list” by suggesting places we should travel together. We kept the table decor to a minimum, simply grouping some old wine bottles, baby pictures & candles together. Everyone had fun seeing pictures of Terry & I throughout the years – I love personal touches like this for a rehearsal dinner.


Our bucket list table, filled with pictures & suggestion cards


Simply yet pretty table settings – see adorable baby T’s picture?!

Our musician, Rob Pulsifer, provided hours of live music with his guitar & vocals – he stuck to mainly country, rock & classics. Think Tom Petty, Darius Rucker & Lynard Skynard. You could dance, sing along, or just enjoy the tunes. Having live music was a huge plus.

We hired Dinosaur BBQ for our catering. The smells alone drew people in. They set up a huge smoker on the property about 5 hours before the event and they handled every single piece of the dinner, from setup to service to break down. Their barbecue was outstanding – and this is coming from a Southerner! We still hear friends talking about how delicious it was. (If you’re ever in the upstate NY area you must go there for a meal!) Our guests dined on pulled pork, beef brisket, bbq chicken and all of the fixins- mac ‘n cheese, collards, coleslaw & cornbread. We had white wine, rosé, red wine, IPAs, Corona light and, of course, sweet tea. We made sure no guest left hungry, that’s for sure!

Also, we also had some delicious, beautiful cupcakes from Gregg’s (our dear friends are the owners) but we didn’t snap any photos – I think we were all too busy eating them!


Dino bbq food

This food was to die for (pic via)

Lastly, we kept the formality to a minimum. My matron of honor, Christen, gave a beautiful speech about friendship & love. Terry’s best man, Edward, gave a funny, loving speech regarding Terry’s “pre-Alexis” days & offered some marriage advice. We all spent about four hours eating BBQ, swapping stories, dancing & laughing together.


My UGA girlfriends, beautiful as always


Some of Terry’s group of friends that he’s grown up with


My Atlanta girls enjoying our Polaroid + props table


(Y’all know Mela had to make an appearance…jockey outfit and all!)

We ended the night feeling so much love & support from our wedding guests and it was the absolute best feeling to have the day before you’re saying ” I do”. We couldn’t have asked for a better rehearsal dinner and I would do it exactly the same way all over again!

Next up…our wedding ceremony + reception!


Our Wedding, Part 3: A Day at the Track

Track area

So if you’re just tuning in to this special 5 part series about our wedding, you can read my previous posts about our wedding weekend hotel and our vision. Long story short, our overall “theme” (for lack of a better word) was a lively, loving, all-inclusive weekend where our friends & families could truly get to know each other.

In lieu of a bridesmaids brunch or a groomsmen lunch the day before our wedding, we chose to take all of our guests to the Saratoga Race Track to enjoy a day of eating, drinking, mingling and, of course, horse racing! The city of Saratoga Springs thrives off of this long-standing tradition and during the 6 weeks of the year that the track is open, the charm & beauty is amplified.


the “paddock” area of the race track

View More:

We loved seeing our old friends becoming new friends

With over 100 guests in tow, we rented the Big Red Spring Tent and stocked it full of beer, wine, water, snacks, etc. We had decorated picnic tables, flat screen tvs and plenty of seating (and shade!). Guests were able to roam between our tent and the track, stopping to view the beautiful horses in between. We spent about 6 hours there and everyone had a ball – we even had a few big winners!

View More:

Photo Jul 21, 1 56 37 PM

decorative details…


all eyes on the t.v. when the race goes off!

It was so fun to see the excitement and surprise on our guests’ faces when they walked into track – it feels like you’ve gone back in time in the absolute best way.

Sear sucker suits, big poofy dresses, floppy hats, mint juleps – you name it, we had it! Loved ones were laughing, high fiving & loving every moment.


University of Georgia best friends!

View More:

with my best girl friends from childhood…30+ years of friendship here!

View More:

the beautiful women of my family

 We felt so lucky that the vast majority of our guests were able to attend. I think they were all very appreciative that this was a different type of pre-wedding activity – it was relaxed, interesting & fun!

All in all, the day at the track was an absolute success, even more than we’d hoped! It’s a very unique, special event and one that most of our guests had never attended.

View More:

almost Mr. & Mrs…

We love that everyone is still talking about the day and we are so glad that we opted to do it. While it may have been nontraditional, it was the best way for us to blend our two sets of families & friends. It was perfectly “us”!