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6.21.2016

Gone fishin'.







Happy Father's Day to all the beloved dads out there! I'm a little behind in saying that, but I spent the weekend fishing with my own father and lots of wonderful family members, and it was really nice to unplug for a day or two.

Here's to starting the summer off right. 
6.20.2016

Nine months ago...

We got hitched. And this is how it all went down:



A HUGE thank you to Casey and Ashley Culver for putting this lovely video together for us! It makes my heart so happy to be able to relive those wonderful moments in Spicewood last September.

That weekend was everything and more.
6.05.2016

Touring Europe: Florence.


I'm going to be straight-up honest. I didn't enjoy Florence as much as I could have. Not because it wasn't particularly beautiful or interesting, or even because we got rained on for about an hour as we were making our way down the winding path from Michelangelo Square.




Unfortunately, my 36-hour stint in Tuscany wasn't exactly the Diane Lane induced dream I had hoped for, only because I was fighting a terrible cold that made my entire upper body feel as if I was slowly suffocating to death. (This is what I texted everyone back home, on the off chance I wasn't going to make it. Yes, I can be a world-class drama queen. Sorry, Mom.) Like I was saying, Florence wasn't my finest moment.



And for that reason, I feel as if I owe Florence an apology. Because it was such a wonderful part of Italy to explore, with gorgeous churches and amazing statues and cute English bookstores and doughy pizza that I devoured with blissful abandon. Every artsy fartsy bone in my body fell in love with its old-world charm and renaissancial opulence, a playground of history and culture at my fingertips. But you probably wouldn't've guessed it then, because I imagine I must have resembled a disinterested zombie for the better part of our stay. 


To what did I owe the bodily suffering that was causing my lack of zeal? Maybe it was whitewater rafting in the mountains of Austria on a very damp and chilly morning, and then jumping in Munich's freezing stream only a few days before. Cue the violent cough that would not subside. Am I complaining? Not even a little bit. It was all so worth it. And actually quite funny, because in the videos that Kristen took while wandering around Florence, all you can hear is me coughing in the background. It makes us giggle every time. 



Florence, you were lovely. In rain or shine. Not crowded with tourists like Venice or confusingly large like Rome. A glorious Tuscan city that stands all on its own.



Luckily, we made it to the top of the city right on time to take in the best views before the heavens opened up and soaked us from head to foot. It was a really hot day, though, so the rain wasn't totally unwelcome. Just a little inconvenient...


We managed to survive the torrential downpour on the way down, but sadly my pigtails did not. Thank goodness for my scarf, which was used to cover up the damage. Taking refuge in the beautiful Basilica of Santa Croce, the two of us sat in silence and said a few prayers before heading back to the hotel to change clothes. Then it was off to a fancy dinner and a technicolor nightclub with the rest of the gang. If there's anything Europe taught me, it's that life is all about balance.



Music was blasting and the lights were blinding. Shots of who knows what were passed around. Declining drink after drink and feeling exclusively lame, I sat nursing a cup of chocolate gelato and taking pictures from the sidelines as the girls grooved on down to the dance floor alongside an outgoing group of Italian men. By this point, I felt slightly feverish, embarrassingly loopy (regardless of my sober state), and a little like my throat was closing up.


But I'll never forget watching Kristen show off her moves like it was her last night on earth. Even though I wish I would have had the strength to join her, looking back, it was probably one of the highlights of my trip. 

Thank you, Florence. Despite my relentless dry hacking and brief but severe bout of hypochondria, you were oodles of fun.

5.26.2016

Hi world. I'm still here.


Currently, I am...

Drinking: red wine because it's Thursday night and my Memorial Day weekend starts now.

Loving: the new Beauty and the Beast teaser trailer that came out a few days ago. Watch it and be amazed. (The music is enough to make me cry. Gah.)

Reading: Always Emily by Michaela MacColl. I found this YA novel on my bookshelf when I was looking for something to read this week and thought why not. I'm about 50 pages in and honestly, not crazy about it. I remember it originally sparked my interest because the main characters are the Bronte sisters, and although they're 17 and 19 in the book, it reads a little young. I might have enjoyed it more ten years ago. In other news, I just finished The Book of Lost and Found by Lucy Foley, a novel that is 100% worth sharing. (If you want to borrow my copy, shoot me an email!)

Stressing over: nothing, really. I think that's the first time I've ever been able to say that, and it feels so good. 

Thankful for: the means to turn my hobby into a career that I love. I'm very lucky.

Listening to: the new Beauty and the Beast teaser trailer. It's playing on repeat in the background.

Learning: to take better photos, and to edit them using Affinity Photo and Photoshop. Working on those photography skillz, y'all.

And a little bonus fun fact: This past weekend, I experienced the magic that is Reve Coffee Roasters in Lafayette for the first time, thanks to my uncle. It's kind of the coolest coffee shop ever. (And yes, I will be replicating that Coffee Belt map in my own kitchen one day...) Mmkay, bye.
4.17.2016

Get lost.


Seven months ago, my life changed in a major, major way. I got married, moved into my husband's apartment, and started working a new job -- all within a few weeks.

Since then, everything has felt like a turning point, as I've endeavored to find the balance between working, being married, maintaining somewhat of a social life, and living as well (read: healthfully) as I can. A maze of small challenges and accomplishments make up a solid routine, each blessed day unfolding into another.

And it's all been so wonderful.



But this life is a curious thing, and just when you finally start to feel halfway settled, it begins to shift again. As if to say, don't get too comfortable.

And sometimes, your priorities will shift with it. You begin to realize what's most important to you, and what -- after all these years of desperately trying to figure it out -- you truly want. And if you're lucky, you have a family (in my case, a husband) who believes in you enough to say, "Go for it, girl." Even if it's a risk. Hell, even if it makes absolutely no sense.



Because life is a journey, and it's the only one we get. At 24 years old, I'm not quite ready to settle in, or to get comfortable just yet. What is that popular saying, the one about reaching a destination being only half the fun of getting there? Something along those lines.

Our lives are changing once again, slowly but surely. And just like last time, I'm welcoming it. Because what else do you do when you're along for the ride? You lean into the turn, take every moment as it comes, and let yourself get lost.

2.28.2016

Oscar hotties.


It's Oscar Sunday! Who else is rooting for Leo? (I haven't yet seen The Revenant, but I have a feeling things might finally turn out in his favor. We shall see!) Regardless of who takes home an award, these five stunning looks are my absolute favorites from the star-studded evening. (Not surprisingly, Charlize makes my list every time.)

Rachel McAdams in that emerald gown though. Have you guys seen the back (or lack thereof)? Completely breathtaking. Of course, McAdams can never go wrong in my book. And Cate Blanchett's seafoam green number made me think of a fairytale. She pulls off ethereal better than anyone.

Let me know who you think rocked the Red Carpet, and who didn't... I'm all ears. :) Happy watching, friends! (And good luck, Leo!)

UPDATE: LEO WON! Congrats to Mr. DiCaprio and Brie Larson for best actor and actress in a leading role.

|| Rachel McAdams in August Getty Atelier, Charlize Theron in Dior, Alicia Vikander in Louis Vuitton, Priyanka Chopra in Zuhair Murad, & Cate Blanchett in Armani PrivĂ© + photos by Getty Images ||
2.27.2016

And so it begins.

and so it begins.

I just wanted to stop by and say hey. Because it's been a while, and something exciting is upon us. The best friend and I are laying the groundwork for a joint project we've been talking/dreaming about for months, and we can't wait to share it! I won't go into too much detail just yet, because our brainchild is only a newborn right now (all in due time), but I can finally say that this is happening. And it's going to be beautiful.

In other news, I'm feeling awfully under the weather today (sore throat, coughing, chills) but better to be sick on a weekend when you can stay in bed and read under the covers all day, am I right? Anyway, #countingmyblessings.

Have a wonderful weekend, loves!

P.S. Has anyone tried Enlightened Ice Cream? I ate nearly a full pint of the Caramel Oatmeal Cookie Crunch flavor last night, it was THAT good. And it has way less sugar than regular ice cream! For some reason, the pints aren't featured on their website yet, but I found a whole bunch of them at our local Sprouts. (Score.) Here's a not-so-great photo for reference (just look at that creamy, caramel-y goodness!).
2.15.2016

Give it up.



Every single year, this holy season of repentance sneaks up on me without fair warning.

>>> Okay, I guess Mardi Gras is the epitome of "fair warning," but besides being offered embarrassingly large portions of King Cake (and eating every single one), the infamous Cajun tradition is somewhat lost on my fellow Houstonians. As in, not properly celebrated. Not really. (Exhibit A: WHY do I still have to wake up and get my ass to work on Fat Tuesday...?)

But I digress.

No matter how many pieces of gooey purple-and-green bavarian cream-filled donuts I eat the day before, Ash Wednesday always comes as a shock. It hits me like a train going full-speed ahead, and I'm usually trying to scramble together a Lenten game plan the morning of. Or while in line to receive my ashes. You know how it goes.

So, yes, this blog post is coming to you five days after the fact. But it just so happens that these past five days were critical in pinning down the spiritual crisis I currently face.

As I sat before the priest yesterday, my head bowed in reconciliation and my mouth awkwardly stumbling over unprepared words, the one thing I kept coming back to was my lack of trust in Him. It was the giant elephant in the confessional, each and every personal defeat a result of my deep-rooted doubt that He could truly love me, knowing full well all that I am -- and, even worse, all that I'm not.

Only a few days earlier, after a minuscule argument with a loved one left me feeling awfully fragile and on the verge of tears (even hours later), I began to wonder what exactly it is that drives my sense of self-worth. While the better part of my identity is wrapped up in being a good wife, daughter, sister, and friend -- all the wonderful parts I play on a day-to-day basis -- I can't understand why my self-esteem plummets whenever I feel remotely lacking in any of these roles. It's exhausting, quite frankly, this whole living-in-fear-of-letting-people-down thing. And also completely unnecessary. (No one's perfect, after all; meaning, no one expects perfection. Unless, of course, they're crazy -- and therefore absolutely not worth the extra effort.) So WHY do I let my insecurities consume me?

It's a build, of course. Always a build of small things and itchy words that seem to say you're not good enough. 

And it was in conversation with the kind priest, engulfed by God's grace, that I was met with a major wake-up call. Here I was trying to bring our Savior down to my level, to place Him within the parameters of my basic comprehension of human love. But God is not human. He does not love me like my husband or my parents or my best friend, unconditionally yet imperfectly. He is the very definition of love, and I am the apple of His eye. Me, a sinner. Selfish one day and indifferent the next. Striving and failing, again and again.

I am dust and unto dust I will return. 
But now, thus says the LORD,
who created you, and formed you:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name: you are mine.

All this to say, I'm giving up doubt for Lent. Doubting His love, yes, but also doubting myself. For the first time, I'm opening my eyes to who I really am -- who God says I am -- and all that I'm worth. Imperfections, weaknesses and flaws included. Because if I can't see the real me, the best me... How can I expect anyone else to?

|| photo by Athena Grace, via Dainty Jewell's Blog + bible verse from Isaiah 43 ||
2.12.2016

I can't even.



Has anyone else read this beautiful yet heartrending novel? The film adaptation looks absolutely perfect. Emilia Clarke is beautiful. Slam Claflin is charming. The whole thing is glorious.

Catch it in theaters in June! I might die. Happy Valentine's Day.
2.06.2016

Touring Europe: Rome.






touring europe: rome






I'm pretty sure I was in Rome when I got the call. Or maybe it was Florence. Either way, we were in the middle of a group tour somewhere in Italy, and for the first time since I'd left the United States, my cell phone buzzed from my back pocket. Ever so subtly, lest the tour guide think me rude, I pulled the warm iPhone out of its cozy home and snuck a glance. The caller was from New York City. Strange, I thought. Must be a wrong number. But there was a part of me that knew better.

◊ ◊ ◊

The beginning of 2014 saw me antsy to rebuild my life from the ground up, preferably somewhere new. I had just graduated from college, moved back in with my parents, and started working part-time in a corporate office -- something I finally convinced myself was the smartest thing to do while I planned out my next big step. Over the course of six months, I sent out job application after application, only to find the rejections roll in. VSCO, Verily, Kinfolk, Popsugar. Denver, NYC, Portland, San Francisco. No, no, and -- you guessed it -- no. Exhausted from trying and failing, I decided to focus on what I knew would make me happy. I decided to travel.

◊ ◊ ◊

I would find out only a few days after the Italian city tour who tried to get ahold of me that afternoon. The second time my phone rang in three weeks, I was sitting in a hotel bar in Paris. Despite being nervous about racking up a hefty phone bill, my curiosity won out.

"Hello?"

"Hi, may I please speak to Emily Almon?"

>>> Seriously, why is it that everyone overlooks the "e" in Alleman?

"This is she."

"Good morning, Emily. My name is [...] and I'm a recruiter with Oxford University Press. We’ve reviewed your application for the Marketing Assistant position, and if you’re still interested in the job, I'd love to set up a Skype interview with you sometime this week."

I hung up only a short few minutes later feeling more hopeful about my future than I had in months. And yet, I never made the interview.

◊ ◊ ◊

On a warm July evening in Rome, after a long day on foot, Kristen and I shared dinner and dessert in one of the quieter corners of the city. Outside of the Italian cafe, at a little two-person table, we rehashed once again all of our wonders, fears, and hopes for the years ahead while strangers filtered through unnoticed. Three hours into our conversation, in between sips of my lukewarm cappuccino, I blithely expressed a simple yet powerful intention that would ultimately change the course of my life.

"I'm going to marry him someday."

◊ ◊ ◊

Turns out, this particular job I had applied for back in April or May (and then somehow forgot about) was in the publishing company’s East Coast office. North Carolina, to be specific, the same state to which I'd felt some sort of random calling since my junior year of high school.

It suddenly felt like everything I had worked for throughout my three and a half years of college all boiled down to that one moment, sitting in a hotel bar in the middle of Paris. Determining my entire future over a glass of white wine. This kind of rare opportunity -- a fresh start, a change of scenery -- was what I had been praying for all along.

And yet.

Given the choice between staying and going, most people will tell you to just go. Do what you've always dreamed of. Take a risk. Don't look back. And nine times out of ten, their genuinely kickass advice will be worth following. But every once in a long while will come a wild chance at something that, if taken, might mean losing something indescribably better.

◊ ◊ ◊

Back in the States, after the dust had settled, it became all too clear the reasons I wanted to run away in the first place. Curiosity, sure. But also, validation. To gain the approval of a society that values ambition over love. And to convince myself I was strong enough to do it all on my own.

When the "dream" you've been chasing becomes more about everyone else's perception of you than it is about your own aspirations, the whole idea begins to lose its luster. And it seems so obvious, the choice you need want to make. The choice to stay. Because the timing just isn't quite right, and your reasoning is shockingly flawed. Factors that can turn even the best decision into a wrong one.

If only I could have seen the truth when it mattered most, when the long, pregnant pause on his end of the line sounded an awful lot like a silent plea to stay by his side for good. If only I could have realized right then: Rome held the answer all along.
1.25.2016

Felicity.





I guess I'm learning, little by little, that we decide what our lives are going to be. Things happen to us, but it is our reactions that matter. | Felicity Porter

I'm about 13 years late in saying this, but I think I've found my one true love in the form of a television show. Felicity entered my life in my third summer of college (when it was acceptable to stay up until 5am binge-watching Netflix), and as you can imagine, many sleepless nights ensued. It seemed at the time that the show's heroine -- a hopeless romantic on the cusp of adulthood -- was going through some of the same things that I (and every other twenty-one year old female on the planet) was, and watching her deal with a dramatized version of university life's challenges served as my own personal form of therapy.

I sadly finished the last episode a few days ago. (Tears may or may not have been involved.) It never ceases to amaze me how much of a sap I can still be about my favorite onscreen narratives, and how attached I grow to fictional characters. But fictional or not, their impactful stories are undeniably rooted in -- or at least inspired by -- someone's reality, right? Which means, when given a name and a face, we can surely relate to, feel for, and yes, even learn from these imagined personas.

So I'm taking a page from Felicity's book this year. New phase, new mantra. From 2016 onward, no matter what the circumstances, I choose to take complete ownership of my words and (re)actions. I decide what my life becomes.

{SPOILER/SIDEBAR} Even though Felicity totally should have ended up with Noel, I'll find it in my heart to forgive her (and the writers). But that's another conversation for another time.

|| more wise words by Felicity here + photo by Touchstone Television, via Happy Hands Project ||

1.09.2016

Rewind: 2015.




You can usually tell how my new year is going by how long it takes me to post my "year in review." January 9th isn't too horrible, right? It could be worse.

Anyhow, cutting to the chase... Two thousand fifteen was pretty extraordinary. (And if I say that about every year, well, I really mean it this time. In fact, 2015 put the year before it to shame.)

For starters, Scott asked me to be his wife last January. Eight months later, we got married in the beautiful Texas hill country, with 150 of our nearest and dearest as witnesses. September 19th, as clichĂ© as it sounds, was the best day of my life thus far -- and our honeymoon in Canoe Bay, Wisconsin was the sweetest cherry on top of the whole experience.

After a year and a half of working as an Engineering Technician, July offered me a blessing in disguise when I lost my job at a rather unstable oil company. What does one do when jobless? Travel, of course! My mom and I joined our best friends in a girls' trip to Charleston, where we ate our way through downtown and drank our weight in red wine and coffee.

Other travels throughout the year included a four-day trip to New York City to visit a beloved friend, a long weekend in New Orleans with the siblings, a beach vacay in Florida, and a family reunion in Fredericksburg.

In August, to my relief and elation, I was hired on at Weddings in Houston Magazine, an award-winning regional publication (and the first company I ever interned with in college). The last quarter of 2015 was spent getting to know my amazing team members and learning the ins and outs of my industry of choice. Four months later, I'm still excited to go to work every day.

Needless to say, the close of 2015 marks the beginning of a long journey ahead. The dawn of married life with my best friend, and the start of a career I'm passionate about. Good as 2015 was, I dreaded the end as it drew near. Too many exciting changes and good memories are wrapped up in that one year, and it was tough to leave it all behind.

Two thousand sixteen will be about settling into this new life of mine, growing comfortable in my surroundings, and finding joy in the little things. A beautiful unfolding.

Honestly, I have a feeling 2016 will be my favorite year yet.

|| photo by Chelsi Johnston ||

12.11.2015

The art of being a woman.

A few years back, during my last semester of college, I discovered a women's magazine that didn't adhere to what modern society deems the "norm." On the front cover, instead of a scantily clad supermodel, was a girl who looked like me -- wearing a sundress and riding a bicycle, with a giant smile on her face. Within its pages, instead of "Ten Sex Tips to Please Your Man" or "Lose Five Pounds with This Fat Blasting Workout," I found uplifting stories and insightful articles written by both men and women whose mission was clear: to inspire women to be the best versions of themselves. Verily Magazine was unique in its celebration of real, un-photoshopped women, as well as in its motto: "less of who you should be, more of who you are."

Which is why, only a few months later, when I learned that Verily was no longer being printed, I was crestfallen. If this relatable and empowering publication couldn't survive, was there any hope for a different type of women's magazine to thrive?

Two years later, I (finally) stumbled upon the website of Darling Magazine, a quarterly publication that was first printed in 2012 and whose mission statement closely resembles that of Verily's. Out of curiosity and excitement, I ordered their Winter 2015 issue.

I received the 174-page ad-free magazine in the mail on Wednesday, and nearly squealed as I ran my fingers along the fancily-embossed logo. It was even better than I expected. Besides being just plain beautiful, the book itself is a collection of art in its many forms: mesmerizing photography, meaningful pieces of journalism, and a clean, minimalist design combined with snippets of poetry and scattered illustrations, divided into sections by persona: the dreamer, the intellectual, the achiever, the confidant, the stylist, the beautician, the explorer, and the hostess. The timeless and utterly feminine aesthetic sent my heart aflutter. If Audrey Hepburn started a magazine, says the creators, it would be Darling.

And if you're anything like me (a sucker for all things lovely), you'll want Darling on your coffee table this holiday season. It would also make a thoughtful Christmas gift for a best friend or sister! Click here to subscribe or browse their shop.

I have yet to sit down and indulge in a few uninterrupted hours of reading, but I'm carrying the magazine with me wherever I go, just in case life offers me a little bit of down time. I guess you could say I'm a little obsessed. 
12.07.2015

Inspiration for your December.


Out of all the months in the year, I find December to be the most inspiring. There's something about the holiday season that makes me want to do more. I dream of spending these winter days baking cookies, decorating the apartment, photographing every little outing, reading stacks of magazines, writing blog posts, shopping for gifts, attempting new hairstyles, volunteering, and hosting extravagant dinner parties. But if I've learned anything from these last few years of living in the "real world," it's that there are not nearly enough hours in the day. So... I do what I can, when I can. And the rest? Well, let's just say I'm slowly discovering how to let go: life is meant to be spent in the moment, after all, and not worrying about the details of the future.

But that doesn't mean I can't admire from afar those who have got this hectic-holiday-productivity thing down. The internet is chock-full of creative ideas for the colder months, and I personally get so much satisfaction from browsing through the best of them. In fact, since I'm feeling so inspired, I thought I'd share some of my favorite links this week, just in case you're in need of a little December inspiration yourself. :-)

Happy reading!


Yummy Stuff

Eggnog + hot chocolate = Eggnog Hot Chocolate. Yes, please!

I've never made gingerbread cookies from scratch before, but after seeing this fun tutorial, I definitely want to start...

Scott and I are obsessed with anything s'more-flavored. Which is why I'm obsessed with this mouthwatering Christmas-themed s'more.


Fashion + Beauty

I just bought this awesome sweater in red, and I can't wait to wear it to my family's Tacky Christmas Sweater party this year!

Speaking of sweaters, these look so darn cozy -- and fabulously chic.

I recently stumbled across this tutorial for "Mermaid Curls," and I am in LOVE. Thinking of attempting the super curly 'do for Christmas Day or New Year's Eve.

What a smokin' dress, you guys. I'm all about the sequins on holidays (and berry shades are my fave).


Parties + Decor

Don't enjoy wrapping gifts? Make it fun by hosting a Ladies' Wrap Party with your girlfriends. Cocktails and pajamas included.

I'd love to decorate our dining room table like this for dinner with friends. So simple and pretty.

A party is incomplete without the perfect playlist, and Zoella's Ultimate Christmas Playlist is on point. 

A minimalist Christmas tree display for tiny-apartment dwellers.


Lifestyle

Holiday traditions are what make this time of year so much fun, and this sweet family of six has a few great ones.

"Wherever you are, be all there." This article encompasses how many of us (including me!) can't help but feel during the beautiful-but-busy month of December. Let it be a reminder to slow down and simply enjoy what is supposed to be the happiest time of the year. 


|| photo by Annie Spratt ||
11.28.2015

Turkey Day for two.

Thanksgiving is America's favorite holiday for so many reasons, but I love it first and foremost because it lends itself to tradition yet is steeped in simplicity. On this glorious Thursday of all Thursdays, costumes are irrelevant, gifts are unnecessary, and even decorations are optional. In fact, all you need to have an incredible Thanksgiving Day is loving family by your side, delicious food to enjoy, and a sense of gratitude for both.

But when traveling to see said family is simply not an option (because you're on-call to work the next day), and it's up to you to provide all of the delicious food for your tiny family... Well, you have to learn to make do. Which is why, based on my recent experience of trial-and-error, I've come up with a simple seven-step guide to creating a successful Thanksgiving meal -- and overall, a happy Turkey Day -- for two.

Step 1: Draw out a Turkey Day menu and timeline.


Even though I'm not all that great of a cook, when it came to preparing for the Thanksgiving feast, I had time on my side: long before November arrived, I knew would be in charge of my own family's (read: mine and Scott's) holiday meal, so I planned accordingly. First on my to-do list, of course, was to draw up a solid menu. This was the fun part. While my typical Thanksgiving dinner of previous years consisted of comfort food with a Cajun twist, Scott grew up eating the traditional Thanksgiving dishes -- roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, bread stuffing -- which seemed like an obvious starting point. But, if I was going to do this right, I would need instructions to follow every step of the way. That's where Pinterest came in handy. Within ten minutes, I had chosen a recipe for the turkey and one for each side I planned to make. After skimming them all, I then came up with a strict timeline for the big day. (I've been known to spend hours on end putzing around in the kitchen, so having something to keep me on track was a lifesaver; it eliminated any potential stress from cooking so many things at once, and it helped ensure we ate before 8 PM.)

Step 2: Bake dessert ahead of time.

Expecting to be in the kitchen for the better part of Thursday, I decided to cut my future self some slack by whipping up a scrumptious dessert the day before. Pumpkin pie seemed like a great choice because 1) unlike a cherry crisp or apple pie, it keeps well in the fridge overnight and is best served cold, and 2) it makes for a delicious Thanksgiving Day breakfast. Don't judge, mine was paleo. (Which brings me to another lesson learned... skip the paleo desserts on Thanksgiving. They may save you a few calories, but nothing beats the real thing.)

Step 3: Delegate responsibility. 

| Scott happily basting our roast turkey. |
Just because you've volunteered to be in charge of the Thanksgiving cuisine this year doesn't mean you have to do it all single-handedly. The key to also enjoying your day is recruiting assistance when you need it. For example, don't be afraid to nicely ask your husband to de-giblet and rinse the turkey as you prepare the stuffing. Because as much as you want to impress him with your mad kitchen skills, putting your hand up a giant bird's butt and pulling out loose body parts is not your idea of fun. Let's be real, that's what husbands are for. Plus, if he's anything like mine, he'll be happy to pitch in.

Step 4: Clean as you go.

classic bread stuffing. |
This one's self-explanatory. The more dishes you wash before sitting down to dinner, the less you'll have to clean up afterwards, when you find yourself teetering on the edge of a massive food coma. Do yourself a favor and clean as you go. (I may have learned this the hard way...)

Step 5: Resist the urge to drink alcohol on an empty stomach.


Around 2:00 PM, while the turkey was roasting in the oven, the stuffing was cooking in the crockpot, and the potatoes were boiling on the stove, I figured it was the perfect time to throw together my version of this refreshing Holiday Sangria and take a break from the heat of the kitchen. Probably my biggest mistake of the day. A glass (or two) later of the bubbly drink, and I was not feeling my best. (Even though, I must say, it was absolutely delicious.) While I was more than able to finish up the last of the cooking -- I had come thus far, and nothing was going to stop me now -- the mess I made trying to light-headedly handle turkey gravy, mashed potatoes, and veggies was so overwhelmingly huge that I almost had a mental breakdown trying to clean it all up. (Thank God for my super accommodating, completely sober, and mentally stable Scotty, who did a wonderful job calming me down.) The moral of the story: don't drink on an empty stomach, even if it is a holiday.

Step 6: Fill up your plate... And go back for seconds.


This is the one day a year that you can eat all the carbs you want without feeling guilty. Why stop at one plate?

Step 7: Wind down with a movie, your beloved, and (finally) a drink.


By now, chances are you're pretty tired, painfully stuffed, and nursing a few battle wounds from the day's events (thanks to the new set of very sharp kitchen knives you received as a wedding gift). Once the leftovers are safely stowed away in the fridge and the dishes are washed and dried, feel free to take a load off by snuggling on the couch with your man and sipping on a glass of sangria. Because there's simply nothing better than relaxing after a rewardingly busy day. And, let's be honest, you've earned it. :-)

Happy belated Thanksgiving, my friends. Hope it was splendid!