Goodbye to this blog – hello to my new website! After an unintentional six-month long break from blogging, I’m back! But at a new location – I’m starting a new venture as an independent public relations consultant (ah!), and I also started an interior design program from home last Fall. I brought several posts from this blog with me, so I have a short history over there already. This blog will stay here (at least for a while), but I won’t be back to write. Please come see me at my new site!



Dear Murphy,

You’re the cutest, sweetest puppy ever. This Monday you’ll be 12 weeks old, meaning we’ll have had you home with us for a month now! We kind-of can’t wait until you’re 4 months old and have had all your shots so we can take you out to more places, but we also don’t want you to get big too fast! You’ve already grown so much in just one month. Here’s what you looked like when we picked you out at 6 weeks:



Two weeks later, we came to take you home with us! You were pretty good for your first long car ride!

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The same day we brought you home daddy’s extended family was in town, so you met 12 new people, including a baby, plus two new dogs all at once!! We were so impressed with how well you did! You were so sweet to everyone, and even though the other dogs didn’t want to play with you, you kept following them around trying to be their friends! Here you are sleeping with daddy’s cousin Kyre:


We brought you back over to Aunt Ashley’s the next day, and you fell asleep in your crate:


Your cousin Lucas thought the crate looked like the right size for him, too, so he climbed in with you!


He tried to copy you by lying down to sleep, too. The only problem was he couldn’t remember that he was too tall to stand up in the crate, so he bumped his head every time he wanted to get out :/


The next week you did one of my favorite things ever when I was changing clothes after work! Every time I open this drawer you want to put your front paws on it and see what’s inside 🙂


You also like to see if you can fit in some odd, small places:


Sometimes you just freeze or sleep in funny positions like this:


Later that week at Aunt Ashley’s you were barking too much inside so I took you out to the front porch swing with me.


We only had you for a week at this point, and look how much bigger you already look!


Your second week with us we took you to the vet. You were so good! The vet told us we could feed you a little more at each meal, which we knew you would be REALLY happy about. You LOVE food and it was taking you less than 30 seconds to eat your meals!

You also met our friend Joel this week (who just got engaged last night, by the way!). Joel has lots of experience with puppies, so we talked to him about your behavior problems. Yes, you have lots of what are called “undesirable behaviors.” You don’t like to go on walks. You don’t mind going outside to go to the bathroom, but when we try to get you to actually go on a walk, you usually sit down or stand still and won’t move! You also want to eat every single thing on the ground outside! Bark, grass, bugs, rocks, trash – anything. The bigger the better. You haven’t picked up on the “drop it” command yet, so we’re constantly prying your mouth open and pulling things out. This could be why you don’t like going on walks, or maybe you just hate being on a leash??

You also like to nip or bite us when we’re playing with you. You don’t mean to hurt us, but your teeth are really sharp! Your nails are sharp too, so you’ve given us both lots of ugly scratches on our legs 😦 We’re working on teaching you that your teeth hurt us and not to jump up. Here you are giving Joel lots of kisses:


And here he is talking to you about your bad behavior:


You weren’t a huge fan of your first bath, but after several attempts on your part to make a run for it, I fed you treats to keep you in the tub, and I think that made it okay!


You actually let me use the blow-dryer on you for a little bit after your bath! Here you are afterward looking at me thinking “what in the world did you just do to me??”


This is how you always look when you’re waiting expectantly for a treat. You’re pretty good at the “sit” command…most of the time.


You LOVE rawhides! Silly me waited a week to give you the rawhide your aunt Ellie had gotten you. It kept you distracted for a solid hour and a half!! Which immediately made me realize I’ll be buying a lot of rawhides in the near future, as it’s pretty hard to get anything done at home when you’re out and about!


This is by far your favorite place to lie down and take a nap! We think it’s because the bottom of the fridge is cool and with all your fur, and you’re probably pretty hot most of the time. Is this also why you want to go inside so quickly when we take you outside?? We’re really stumped by that one.


Then your great-grandmother sent you a card! (birthday is crossed out with arrival to K&J instead!) You were very confused as to why I wanted you to sit here with this card on the floor and not touch it.


You got to meet my friend Melissa a couple weeks ago, and she thought you were just the cutest thing ever!


Last week daddy was out of town all week and I had a very trying week with you! You met your grandmother (nanna, nan-nan, mimi?? she still can’t decide what to be called!), and she helped me take care of you for half of it, but for some reason you were on your worst behavior that week! I sent daddy this picture to show him how you had grown just in the few days he had been gone…look how long your legs are!


I accidentally got you a rawhide very inferior to the one aunt Ellie got you, and all the flavor was gone in about 20 minutes, so you’re not very interested in it anymore 😦


Daddy is still waking up to take you out once in the middle of the night, but we’ve pushed the time back to 5 hours now, so we might be able to stop doing that soon. You’re also good at being in your crate when we’re gone, but it’s still sad to me to put you in there so often. As soon as you stop trying to chew everything within reach you won’t have to go in your crate when we’re gone!

Tonight you get to meet your aunt Ellie for the first time! We’re gonna keep taking lots of pictures so we never forget you looking this cute!





Raleigh move-in

I’ve been meaning to blog ever since we moved at the beginning of June, but due to the long list of things we’ve been busy with since then (i.e. moving in, starting two new jobs, going to the beach, seeing family, reuniting with friends and getting a puppy!!) it was pushed to the back-burner quite a few times. I did take lots of pictures (not on the real camera, whoops!) of the projects we worked on for our apartment the week after we moved in, though.

First of all, we moved to Raleigh! Moving was quick and relatively painless with all the help we had. We left Pittsburgh on a Friday morning and drove all day. Jon’s parents met us in Raleigh that night, and the next day we got the keys to our apartment. The movers came with all of our things on Sunday, so we spent that whole day supervising the move-in and then unpacking and organizing. Below is my Instagram post from that day of all the chaos in the midst of unpacking!

IMG_2992We also painted our bedroom. Jon, his dad and I did this in a few hours on Saturday before the moving van came the next day. Before & After pictures are below!










We did one wall this darker color (a very bold decision made by me that some people were a little unsure of!) and the other three walls are a lighter shade of the same color. If the corner line of the wall looks crooked to you, it really is! So strange. I promise we didn’t paint it like that!

Next we made an upholstered headboard! This was a really big, challenging project, but we are so, so happy with the final result! And I just need to say, there is no way we could’ve done it without Jon’s parents’ help! Besides Jon’s dad’s building expertise, just having lots of hands to help was essential at times. After moving in on Sunday, we spent the whole day and late into the evening Monday going shopping for supplies and coming up with a design/construction plan (with helpful info gathered from a couple blogs), building it and covering it. I have lots of step-by-step photos so maybe I will find the time to do an instructional post on this, but for now here are my first and final photos:



My mom and I made curtain valances and (she!) made a pillow for our bedroom. When Jon’s parents left, she came to stay with us for a few days to help me organize and do these projects for our bedroom. A room is not really complete, at least in my mind, without something on the windows. I never loved the panels we had in our bedroom in Pittsburgh, so finding something that worked better this time was a top priority. I finally found this fabric that really worked at Joann in Pittsburgh, and because it was special order (expensive!) I was determined to use only one yard of it. I saved on fabric by using a secondary fabric to add several inches of length to the valances. We also put plain white fabric on the back of the pillow instead of covering both sides in it.

The valances were completely no-sew – we just used Stitch Witchery and hot glue! Below: mom laying out the two fabrics (with my sister-in-law’s dog in the background, haha).


We added trim to the valances to tie the two fabrics together and layered them over our waffle-weave cream panels on a double curtain rod.


I love that we have more color on our bed now with this little lumbar pillow. The sewing machine was required for the pillow, but my mom did it all because I don’t know a thing about sewing! Need to work on that…thanks, mom!


After a lot of indecision about what piece of furniture to use or buy to put our TV on, I decided to repaint the dresser we had been using in our guest room (my girly dresser from high school) and use it as a TV stand (plus still use it for winter clothes storage!) Before:


& After:


Jon drilled holes for wires in the back of the second drawer which now holds the xbox, our Time Capsule, modem and a power strip. When cords are hidden I am so much happier!!

Let’s see…our new Pottery Barn sofa was also delivered this week! The slipcover was surprisingly so easy to put on. Yes, it’s white – well, cream – and no, I’m not crazy. So far so good!


I’ve still been pretty good about trying one new recipe each week for my #52weeks deal, so hopefully I’ll get some time soon to post more of those soon, and of course some puppy pictures!! Until then, though… 🙂


moving begins!

This is it – the week of our move is finally here! It’s been a crazy past couple of weeks, as we were in Chapel Hill for one of my good friend’s weddings this past weekend, and we went to Niagara Falls for one night the weekend before. Thankfully we don’t have to pack ourselves – we have movers coming Thursday to pack everything up – literally everything, drawer-by-drawer, other than things we want to move ourselves. Jon and I will be driving one car down to Raleigh on Friday and having the other car shipped. Everyone says they absolutely hate moving, and I might too if we had to do everything ourselves, but when it’s mostly done for you like this, I actually kind-of like it. I like going through my things to purge and clean often, so I don’t mind that part of it!

Last night we dismantled our living room/dining room to start priming over the yellow color, so it looks like this right now:


My friend Jamie is so kindly going to help me prime more this afternoon! Other than that, we need to finish taking things off the walls, organize our things a little more, and pack up the things we want to move ourselves, plus what we need for a few days in Raleigh. Our things will be delivered early next week, but I still haven’t heard the exact day…

We’re so thankful to have lots of help moving in from both of our parents this time! We have plans to paint the master bedroom, build a headboard for our bed, and repaint some  furniture. My mom is also going to help me make valances for our bedroom windows, a lumbar pillow for our bed, and possibly find a piece of furniture to repurpose. Jon and I will both have all of next week to move-in and work on these things before starting our jobs, which is awesome.

With all the change that’s about to take place, along with some other emotion-triggering circumstances recently, I’ve felt like a basket case of emotions. This morning I was needing some extra encouragement to start the day, and I just happened to be on the last chapter in Luke. This is the chapter on Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. I was struck by the disappointment and discouragement the apostles and those with them felt at the time of Jesus’ resurrection when they still did not fully understand all that had happened. Jesus appeared to two men who had been with the apostles and had heard that Jesus had risen. Their faces were “downcast” (Luke 24: 17). Jesus asked them what they were talking about, and part of their response was: “The chief priests and our rulers handed [Jesus] over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who he was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:20-21). In Spanish, this last phrase is “pero nosotros abrigábamos la esperanza de que era él quien redimiría a Israel.” Abrigar means “to cherish,” “to take shelter,” or “to wrap oneself up.” It literally says, “but we were taking shelter in the hope that he was the one who would redeem Israel.” I like how the Spanish version emphasizes how much they were hanging onto this hope. They were discouraged because they did not understand that what they were hoping for HAD come true. They were basically living in denial of the truth.

At the end of the chapter, after Jesus opens their minds to fully understand, they are overcome with joy. “They stayed continually at the temple, praising God” after Jesus was taken up to heaven (Luke 24:53). I love how Scripture so simply portrays truths like this: when you don’t know the truth of the gospel, or aren’t living in light of it, you will be downcast, confused, discouraged. When you know the truth of the gospel and live in that truth, you can have joy. The joy of the gospel is part of our inheritance as receivers of the gospel, and it can never be taken away. Even with the knowledge that this joy is ours, sometimes we need to specifically ask God to fill us with it. And in reference to asking for good gifts like this, Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7).

the 52 weeks: winter and spring meatless pastas

       Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes and Olives

I’m calling this a pasta for the winter because of the spaghetti squash, but you should be able to find it as early as fall and possibly into spring. I know up here in Pittsburgh it didn’t appear in my grocery store until January/February, though, and was gone soon after. I had never even tried spaghetti squash before this and am not a huge fan of yellow summer squash, but I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t taste anything like summer squash. And I like that this recipe still includes actual spaghetti, too, so it’s not as overwhelming.

I found it was super helpful to microwave the squash for 3-5 minutes before trying to cut it in half. The recipe doesn’t tell you, but you can remove the seeds by scooping them out with a spoon. You can scrape a lot of the strings out with a spoon or fork as well, but probably need to use your hands as well. Here’s the Youtube video I watched to learn these things!

For anyone who doesn’t like olives, I left them out and it still tasted great. This recipe is labeled as a “pantry raid” in the BHG mag because it uses things you might have leftover in your pantry. This is usually never true for me, but I did happen to have the golden raisins because I used them in an amazing salmon recipe I’ll post later! They’re also good just plain, so if you like raisins, don’t leave them out! Overall, I thought this recipe was very easy and pretty cheap, too. Here it is on our table!


Skillet Bucatini with Spring Vegetables

This meal is cooked differently – pretty much all on the skillet, other than the pasta itself – but has similar ingredients. I left the olives out of this one too, and it was still full of flavor! We actually started eating before remembering to sprinkle on the parmesan cheese, and it was really good without it! Of course even beter with it…

We used more than 4 oz. of pasta and it was hard to get 4 full servings out of it, so I would recommend using at least 6 oz. of pasta or more.

I thought the lemons in the picture above were slices of squash before I looked at the recipe, and was really unsure about the instructions to “pass with lemon wedges, if desired.” I saw last minute in my magazine that it suggests caramelizing the lemons, so we did that really quickly and tossed them with the pasta. They went well with everything and weren’t too sour – just don’t take a big bite of one!

You really have to prepare the ingredients in advance for this one because you have less than 4 minutes to get everything cooked in the skillet once you start. Other than that, it’s super easy! Here’s ours…




Since the beginning of 2013 I’ve been challenging myself to try something new every week for a year. I got the idea from a book called The 52 Weeks: Three Drinks, Two Friends, One Year. Disclaimer: I didn’t actually read this book, so I have no idea if it’s a good read or not. It was featured in my Better Homes and Gardens January 2013 issue as one of three books written by authors who each dedicated a year to trying something new. I liked the idea of stretching myself to do something new, even if very simple, every week.

It isn’t the premise of the book or my intention, but about three months into the year I realized that every one of my new things so far had involved food or drink! And I had no problem with that. It just means my repertoire will be that much bigger at the end of 2013. I’ve instragrammed all but a few of these things using the hashtag #the52weeks, which has been a great way to keep track of the new dishes.

Some recipes have been time-consuming and some have tasted just okay, but for the most part Jon and I have agreed that they’ve been really, really good. This is due in large part to my most-used recipe source, Better Homes and Gardens. Every issue has lots of practical weeknight meals (as well as more involved dishes if you have the time). We also have several staple recipes we found before I started this 52 weeks thing that we keep going back to. You can find most of these on my Pinterest board. My plan is to go back through these photos and feeds and post my favorites here, so stay tuned if you love food or want some new recipes that have been tested for practicality by an inexperienced cook 🙂 First up: two easy meatless pastas, one for the winter and one for the spring!

March & April visits

Back at the end of March and beginning of April, we had three back-to-back weeks of visits with family/friends – the first two were visits here, and then the first week of April we went on our home-finding trip in Raleigh. I didn’t have time to re-cap those weekends, but just wanted to put a few pictures up here…

First my parents came up for my and Jon’s birthdays (which are one day apart!). They got here on my birthday and we did some thrift store shopping, walked around Sewickley, and then had our birthday dinner at Hofbrauhaus, a German restaurant in South Side. The next day we went to the Strip District, Market Square, and then up to Mt. Washington for the famous view of downtown. It was sadly still very cold that weekend, as you can see from our winter coats, which I’m SO glad are out of my closet now!



(haha, self-timer pic!)

The next weekend, our super awesome friends Crystal and Jason came up to see us! We did a lot of the same things as with my parents, like the Strip District and Mt. Washington, although we stopped for a whiskey tasting at the Strip and took the incline up to the top of Mt. Washington this time (mostly so Crystal could conquer her fear of riding it). We took a tour of Ikea, which is right down the road from us, shopped in Shadyside, walked around the Point, and had dinner at Hofbrauhaus (again)!

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Just half a week later we were down in Raleigh for our home-finding trip and a bridal shower I helped throw. We had a list of like 15ish places we were hoping to see in two days – it was crazy! We only ended up seeing about half of those places, and it was still really hard to decide which one we wanted to commit to. It’s kind-of funny how it worked out – we ended up choosing the one place we had already considered. Jon found it online last Christmas and we drove there when we were in town for New Year’s. We were hoping we’d find better options closer to central Raleigh, but this place ended up being the best fit overall.

We settled on this place the morning of my friend Emily’s bridal shower. I think we were still saying “Are you sure?” in the car on the drive to the shower. It felt like a lot of pressure to decide where to live (even for just a year) after looking for only two days, when we know the city and have a lot of preferences. But at that point we also felt the pressure of losing the options we had if we didn’t claim something while we were in town. So while I was setting up for the shower, Jon signed the paperwork for the apartment!

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The shower was so, so fun! (Me and the beautiful bride, Emily, above.)

We stayed at Jon’s sister’s when we were in town, so we got some good time with little Lucas, and Jon’s parents came in for the weekend, too! We tried so hard to get a family picture with the self-timer with Lucas looking AND smiling, but both things just didn’t happen…

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still pretty cute though 🙂

That’s all for now, more news on the move to come!

apartment tour


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This post – pictures of our apartment here in Pittsburgh – has been forever in the making, it seems. Finally I’m posting the photos, now weeks after I took them, and only a couple months before we move away! I’m mostly doing this so that we will always have photos of what our first place looked like. This is where we will have spent the majority of our first year of marriage, so I don’t want to forget it!

Welcome to little apartment in Moon Township, PA! We’re on the ground level, so no walking up or down stairs to get there – so wonderful. Enter our living room…


We painted the walls this yellow color. In some of the photos it looks true to life (a peachy undertone), but in others it looks super bright and harsh…I promise you it’s not! This is the only room we painted because we have to paint it back when we move out.


Here’s the front door on the opposite wall:


I love this little white chair we got from Ikea!


Our place is filled with gifts and handmade things from family & friends, which I love. My sister Ellie made this shape of North Carolina (with a heart in Raleigh, where we met!) to remind us of our homestate all year long 🙂


Jon’s aunt made this for us – three heart-shaped maps of Raleigh, where we met, Charlotte, where we got married, and Pittsburgh, where we live now! We have to figure out what to do with it so it still applies even after we move back to Raleigh because I don’t want to put it away!


My aunt gave us this awesome Pittsburgh painting that she found at the Southern Christmas show. It’s extra special because the artist painted our names and the year we got married into the picture! It was hard to get photos of it without huge reflections in the glass, but I tried:


Below is the portion that contains my name, our last name, and “2012.” Can you find them?? My name is really hard to see…it’s in the bushes!


Do you see “Jon” below??


I love our huge window in the den, which is the sliding door to the balcony…the sky actually looks kind-of blue in this picture! Up until December we had lots of pretty blue skies, but since ever since then the majority of the time it’s been grey 😦 It’s a pretty view when it snows, though, and we get to see some gorgeous sunsets over the mountains in the distance.


Now to the other side of the front door…


My mom painted this plate with our last name on it and gave it to us when we got engaged! She also made the cute tray behind the column…as you can see in the photo above, it’s normally covered up with papers, haha. It’s a great place to put our incoming/outgoing mail.


Love this print from Emily Ley that says “I will hold myself to a standard of GRACE not perfection” – a necessary reminder for my perfectionism 🙂


This cabinet below is what we’ve been making do with in lieu of a pantry since we don’t have one here. We found it on Craigslist for less than it was at Ikea, and it was only a year old. I painted the backing a coral-ish color. Pretty things on the top shelves and all our food stored on the three shelves below!


Love the salad-serving spoon & fork my friend Olivia got me in Siena, Italy!


I’m keeping this adorable “Just Married” dishtowel, a wedding present from Anthropologie, out for as long as possible! When are we not “just married” anymore??


This is my little organization corner in the kitchen…a wipe-off calendar board (and you can see it was February when I took the pictures! or febrero – I like to write the months in Spanish), a “what to eat” notepad, where I keep track of what we’re having for dinner each day, and a “things to do around the house” notepad, where I write those things I really need to get done or might otherwise forget about, along with a shopping list at the bottom!


This half-wall in the kitchen allows a nice view outside (or of the TV) while cooking/washing dishes. Look, Carolina is playing basketball on TV and Jon is watching it!


Now down the hallway off the living room…


Jon’s sister gave us the framed prints of each of our alma mater’s next to our diplomas:


This apartment doesn’t have a whole lot of storage, so after we moved in and put all the big things away, I was left with a bunch of small things and important papers and no place to put them. We thought we would have room for a desk in our guest bedroom, but it was too cramped with Jon’s huge desk from college, so we got rid of the desk and didn’t have anywhere to keep office supplies or file papers. We had this built-in countertop below, though, and a big blank wall above it, so we decided to install these shelves:


I bought baskets and some magazine file boxes for our financial and insurance paperwork. The colorful alphabet divider you can see is one of many labeled with other important paper categories, like taxes, paperwork for each of our jobs, lease information, utilities, etc.


At the end of the hallway is our bedroom…


My huge armoire from Pottery Barn (a gift from Jon’s parents) is by far my favorite piece of furniture so far!




Ha, there’s me! I also love the mahogany wood of Jon’s dresser, which matches our bedside tables (also a gift from Jon’s parents from PB!)


A little hallway with our closests on either side leads to our bathroom…


Back-to-back with our bedroom and bathroom is our guest bed and bath. Here’s our little guest bedroom below…if you knew me in college, this looks very similar to my room at the Glendie! Same comforter, pillows, chair, curtains…I moved all the girly stuff to this room since I couldn’t have it in my own bedroom anymore, haha.


This is the dresser from my room at my parents’ house…I bought and painted it myself in high school and couldn’t let go of it!


I had so many wedding mementos I didn’t want to just store away right after the wedding, plus this great basket I bought to display the ceremony programs at our wedding. So I decided to put it all together to make a wedding montage for the year! Jon calls it our wedding shrine, haha.


The end! 🙂

wedding highlight video

I’m finally sharing our wedding highlight video! A couple weeks ago was our six-month anniversary and Valentine’s Day, so I was reminiscing about the wedding day a lot that week, and I realized that we never even shared it with our wedding party! So I figured my small blog is a private enough place to post it  🙂

I’m so glad we decided to invest in videography so that we will always have these in-action moments to re-watch and remember and eventually show our kids. And yes, we have more than this highlight video. We have the entire ceremony, some “interviews”with friends, and our first dance plus the father/daughter & mother/son dances. But that would be a little much to share!

The amazing videographer behind the camera here is Peyton Lea of Peyton Lea Productions!

P.S. Change the resolution to HD with the settings button for the best quality!


Raleighwood, here we come!


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Yes, that’s right! Come June we are “headed down South to the land of the Pine,” in the words of one of our favorite songs! (see below) 🙂

This post is a bit anti-climatic, as we found out that we’re moving back to Raleigh a week-and-a-half ago – oops! I was just too excited telling friends and family and getting used to the idea that we finally know for sure where we’re going to blog about it, I guess. If you read my previous post, you know that the decision about where to go was quite the dilemma for us for a little while. But by the time I was writing that post, we had both agreed that Raleigh should be our first choice. And we also knew, though I didn’t say this, that the job in Raleigh was “unofficially” Jon’s if he wanted it. We were kept in suspense for another week-and-a-half, though, being about 90% sure we would get to go to Raleigh, but not counting on it 100% yet. Thank you so much to all our friends and family who were praying fervently for us in this decision! We definitely felt the power of your prayers.

Oh, how glad we are to be going back to the wonderful land of the South! The beautiful state of North Carolina, more specifically…and the magical city of Raleigh, precisely 🙂  Raleigh is a special place for me & Jon because it’s where we met, went on our first few dates, and saw each other about half the time while we were dating. I’m excited to really live there for the first time, as I was only ever visiting while living in Chapel Hill, about 40 minutes away. (And I’m also so happy to be close enough to visit Chapel Hill when I get sick of seeing so much Wolfpack red – gross!) We are really looking forward to going back to the church Jon went to while he was in school, too.

In honor of this nostalgia, below are three awesome Carolina/Raleigh songs. Beware, if you’re from Raleigh, you may feel an extreme urge to dance – meaning shag – when you hear the first one 🙂

With all this talk of leaving, I need to say that we are going to be so sad to leave our friends here when we move, and we’re just trying not thinking about it yet. Pittsburgh will always have a special place in our hearts as our first home for our first year of marriage. How can we ever forget the huge blessing we’ve received this year in the group of godly, young married couples who accepted us into their circle from the beginning and the close-knit church that binds them together? I’m sure we won’t!