transforming Edna – a year in the making

This post is quite simple. I am long overdue sharing the transformation of Edna I started last winter, which mostly included a painting face lift and breathing a little more Cosentino/Robinson life into her. So without further adieu….may I present to you…Edna.

OFFICE:

The Old Faithful

Office Before

The New Faithful

Office Before

Office

Office After

LIVING ROOM:

Family Room

Living Room Before

Family Room Entrance

Living Room Before

Living Room

Living Room After

Living Room

Living Room After

A cozy magazine corner

A cozy magazine corner

DINING ROOM:

Dining room looking into family room

Dining Room Before

Dining room looking into bedroom and kitchen

Dining Room Before

Dining room

Dining Room After

BATHROOM

Bathroom

Bathroom

MASTER BEDROOM:

Looking into Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom Before

Looking out of Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom After

Master Bedroom After

KITCHEN:

The kitchen of queens

Kitchen Before

Kitchen

Kitchen After

Kitchen

Kitchen After

THE AWKWARD AREA:

The awkward area

The Awkward Area Before

The Awkward Area After

The Awkward Area After

I only have a little over four months left with her! It has been a perfect first place for me and I will miss our quality alone time. I truly believe every woman should live alone at least once in her life. It’s liberating. However,  I am very excited to make a new home with my future husband in Georgia. It will be here before I know it. But in the mean time I plan on celebrating my favorite seasons spring/summer with Edna in her full glory!

Until next time…

winter doldrums

Cleveland Winters

Cleveland Winters

Here I sip my brown sugar cinnamon latte from the Dunkin down the block – strangely tasting a lot like the pumpkin number you do in October, Dunkin – and am trying to keep the chill away from my bones. This winter has been especially brutal on the nation and if you are anything like me…you are totally over it.

Now maybe it was because it was my first one back north and in my new position at work that last winter seemed to fly by without issue. Or maybe I just ‘men in blacked’ it out of my mind – either way it didn’t seem to be doing the number on me that it has this year.

Beyond the SAD that everyone runs about blaming I am thinking I am also getting affected by the severe lack of vitamin D coupled with a severe lack of fiancé. For those of you that were not in the know…soon after our engagement my love was called back into duty in Afghanistan for what we thought would be a short deployment. But to recall what Andrew said when I first met him “Don’t worry…if the Army gives it to you…it will surely get it back from you!” And boy did I learn that lesson.

About two weeks before Andrew was set to return to the US we found that the Army had other plans for him and needed our service a bit longer. So long story short, although Andrew got to come home four months earlier this summer, Uncle Sam prevailed and took the time right back from us. Thus eating into our lovely engagement time period and leaving us with three fun packed months in the spring to get our acts together before the wedding. Yep. America.

This past year has taught me patience. Patience and unselfish support beyond any reason I can begin to place on paper. I am so grateful for these lessons as it has brought out strengths I didn’t know I had in myself and in our relationship. But much like this winter weather….I am over it and ready for the spring, new beginnings, and my man to be safely back on US soil.

But I also know that for every struggle I have, someone else may be going through more trying times. Facing life or death. Loss. Heartache. So I try to remember to be thankful for my life each day. You never know what the person behind you at the coffee shop is walking through. The best thing anyone can do is be kind and listen generously to each other.

So it is safe to say I have been fighting my own battles over these past two and half months, but I have been doing so with a little help from my friends. And boy am I glad for them! So let’s recap the adventures…

Me and my running shoes have been hanging out per the usual documenting my antics on Instagram at #261daysofrun. I have actually crazily braved some outdoor runs in the snow. What I adore about Lakewood is that we are all loony toons here. I can go out running in the snow and I will see at least five other joggers and at least three individuals riding their bike through snow drifts in a four block radius. I love the camaraderie. For all those days where I can’t brave the cold, I head to the gym for interval training and lip syncing to my iTunes. If you ever see me at the gym (Lee & Kristen T.)… I apologize. I am that girl pretending to hit drums when I am really feeling the music. Running is my sanity. Absolutely.

[Running Jams currently on the IPod: Ke$sha – Timber, Ellie Goulding – Figure 8, The Killers – Shot at the Night]

I found my wedding shoes. A great find on a Saturday spent shopping with my Mom at Nordstrom rack. They are amazing. I want to describe them here so bad, but Andrew reads my blog so that’s out of the question. Just know this…they are awesome.

I ventured to Houston on an impromptu work trip and turned
it into another perfect weekend spent with Katy. We actually wound up running a 5K Glow Run with some other friends Saturday evening. We brunched. We rocked out. We ran. And we used the clothing steamer she asked her parents for Christmas for the first time. And we reunited with Norman the Gnome. Yup. Then we both cried as she dropped me at the airport. You would have thought that we were never going to see each other again. Tears everywhere. Turns out…might see her again sooner than I thought as I have another work trip to Houston in the pipeline! And then moving to Georgia will place us substantially closer in proximity. Mwahaha – stroking my whiskers.

Before the 5K glow run. Those glasses were epic. We ate Nerds why we ran and threw the remaining up in the air as we crossed the finish line during our victory dance.

Before the 5K glow run. Those glasses were epic. We ate Nerds why we ran and threw the remaining up in the air as we crossed the finish line during our victory dance.

Norman the Gnome makes his comeback.

Norman the Gnome makes his comeback.

I have hung out with my brother and cousins a ton. Just grabbing some drinks at a local watering hole. Or having family dinners. A few weeks ago we had a family dinner at my parent’s house and busted out a very intense game of rummy. Have not played in a while, but I definitely remembered how competitive my brother and I are. At least we are past the point where one or the other (or both) doesn’t leave the table in tears. Well…kind of.

Family game night getting competitive.

Family game night getting competitive.

My kitchen and I are still best buddies and I am teaching myself all kind of cookery. I have found a spaghetti squash recipe that is my favorite. Also I have been keen on mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes this winter. I feel less guilty when I have thirds, ya know? I keep looking in magazines and writing down gadgets that I want to register for. You will laugh, but the first things on my list right now is a juicer… and get this…a wine opener! Yep. Don’t even have one that works. Dismal.

Attended a Brian Day concert with some lovelies. As part of our support the group started the night off with a rousing game of Heads Up. The App is amazing. It’s catch phrase for anywhere and probably the funniest thing to watch as an observer or participator. A ton of flailing arms. If you don’t have, I suggest a download. When you are waiting in line at the DMV feel free to see if you can get the stranger sitting next to you to play. Makes that wait time more interesting.

I had another impromptu work trip, but this time to New York the week of the Super Bowl. Was doing some testing on some new systems for my firm, but while I was there I was able to go out to a nice dinner with colleagues in Times Square. I called an old friend who I had lived/studied in China with who lives in the city and she and her friend were able to come meet us. There is NOTHING in the world like reconnecting with a friend you haven’t seen in six years.

Times Square on the way to dinner with some colleagues.

Times Square on the way to dinner with some colleagues.

And to top it off, when I returned home from the trip I had already had dinner plans in place with another old friend whom I had studied in China with. She and I graced Humble with our presence and it was like no time had passed at all. Don’t you just love those kind of relationships? I exited that week feeling so warm and fulfilled.

I spent one epic Saturday with my friend, Ali whom is getting married on Memorial Day this year! We met to try on bridesmaid dresses then followed up with a brunch at Sweet Melissa’s. The crab & eggs with mimosas were perfection. We then went to Crocker Park for a little shopping and met my mother for afternoon ‘tea’ and to show her all our finds at Brio. We then ventured down to the salon for an indulgent pedicure. We followed up our pedicures with dinner at the Parkview and then popcorn at Capitol Theater for a screening of the five Oscar nominated short films. They were fantastic! After a brief stop at local coffee shop for espresso, we then met up with our friend Liz at a local establishment called the Treehouse. There is literally a tree in the middle of the room. The atmosphere was perfect and the day was obviously followed up with a stop at a local pizza shop for Ali, some pho for Jillian and a screening of a Girls episode cuddled up on the couch for a sleepover. It was the ultimate girlfriend day. I need more days like this in my life.

Brunch with Ali! She wore a heart shirt just for me...and she knows how I feel about blue and white striped shirts.

Brunch with Ali! She wore a heart shirt just for me…and she knows how I feel about blue and white striped shirts.

A few weekends ago though was another type of amazing. It was the third annual (my second in attendance) Winter Bonanza. A group of us take half days on Friday and leave work early to make the three hour drive to Holiday Valley in New York. We rent a house and spend the weekend cooking, jamming, laughing, and having FUN. Oh…we also ski/snowboard somewhere in there too. We spend all day Saturday on the slopes and only stop for a few beers in the lodge with some hot dogs and fries – or oatmeal if your name is Tony – before heading back out again. The conditions were perfect this year as the weather was finally cooperating. Not too cold, clear skies, and fresh powder. I think I only had one major wipeout which I consider pretty well for not boarding in over a year. We spent our nights dancing away at Balloons! And left Sunday feeling completely satisfied and sore.

Snowboarding with the crew. (minus a few)

Snowboarding with the crew. (minus a few) (L-R: Anna, Nick, Digs, Stacy, Tony, Maureen, Me)

Flannel Night

Flannel Night (L-R: Carrie, Stacy, Me, Maureen, Anna)

Reading through these past few paragraphs makes me so grateful to have such wonderful people in my life. Although the past few months have been pretty dark for me, these little adventures have been shining moments in a very bleak winter.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day with their sweetie. I spent mine with my dad – two years running – where we went for wings, burgers, and beers at Red Stone then linked up (Andrew that was for you) with Mom & Mike for some cosmic bowling. My Dad and I were unaware we were at an establishment that was celebrating an anti-Valentine’s Day party. A news station came into the joint interviewing patrons about the ritual of burning your ex’s picture stopped to talk to my Dad. As the camera pointed to him, he laughed when the reporter told him about the story and his response was…”well uhm no… I didn’t know about that….but…I have a Valentine right here…my daughter!” What a gem, right!?

With Dad at Red Stone on Valentine's Day. He had the burger and I had wings. We then shared!

With Dad at Red Stone on Valentine’s Day. He had the burger and I had wings. We then shared!

cosmicbowling

Clevelanders…I hope you are staying well and praying that after yet again another storm…this “warm” weather holds up! There is so much to look forward to!

Until next time…

Because...giraffes. Currently the background to my phone and it makes me smile every time I look at it.

Because…giraffes. Currently the background to my phone and it makes me smile every time I look at it.

 

this is the new year

Christmas Edna

Christmas Edna

Happy New Year, beautiful people! I write to you sitting in my living room with the Christmas tree lit for the last day, the Yule Log channel playing on the TV, and sipping a glass of Prosecco. I’m drinking in the last few moments of the magic of this time of year, and then it’s out with the cheer and in with the three months of the winter slush of Cleveland. Ah…can you feel it!? Dance it out.

For many people, the New Year is a time for new beginnings and the excitement of year ahead filled with unknown adventure. While, I agree that the start to every year gives one a sense of infinite opportunity, I also look at it as a chance to just keeping living life awesomely. Every year has been a gift and the reason I am the person I am today is because of all the wonderful years behind me. 2014 is already going to be a special year for me in many ways, but I do not discount the amazing year I have had.

2013 brought me further than I ever expected. I rang in the new year in Breckenridge with dear friends. I suffered the heartbreak of my first deployment and then the unencumbered joy of our reunion. I put in paint, the all-mighty dollar, mimosas, and good ole fashioned hard work into my very first place living alone. And then threw a wonderful housewarming party to celebrate Edna’s coming out and the return of my solider. I visited Houston, Charlotte, Minneapolis, Omaha, Dallas, Wilmington, Holden Beach, Raleigh, Carolina Beach, Boise and Nashville – amongst many other locations. I witnessed some cherished friends become husband and wife and even celebrated as more loved ones got engaged. I sat for my GRE and made the decision to start the process of going back to school. I threw a surprise party for my parents 35th. I discovered I’m super into bubbly drinks and karaoke at Eddy & Iggys. I visited Chicago 1,239,830,945,897,345 times for work and play. I spent Thanksgiving in Idaho with my future in-laws in their entirety and loved every second of it. I taught myself how to cook an egg every way an egg can be cooked. I found out that it is possible to make dinner for one – I just will always have leftovers. I read a ton of really great books like The Paris Wife, The Twelve, City of Women, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Night Circus, & The Unwinding. I even picked up some old classics to re-read like Interview with the Vampire & The Great Gatsby. I fell in love with some new TV series like Hell on Wheels, Breaking Bad, SOA, & House of Cards. I mastered the art of living alone.  I suffered the heartbreak of a second deployment. I built a fort in my childhood bedroom with my brother on Christmas Eve. I started my own workout movement/motivation on Instagram called #261daysofrun. Oh…and of course… Andrew asked me to marry him!!

poached eggs on and english muffin

Poached eggs on an english muffin

a view from a run while in Idaho

A view from a run while in Idaho

Michael & me in Christmas sweaters on Christmas morning. I am aware I look 14.

Michael & me in Christmas sweaters on Christmas morning. I am aware I look 14.

The fort we built in my childhood bedroom Christmas Eve.

The fort we built in my childhood bedroom Christmas Eve.

#261daysofrun is a project I am attempting. To me, health is not just about mileage or minutes. It is about where you take yourself. Every day should be an adventure. (261 days is because I don't run on weekends. 52*2 - you do the math). Follow my journey on Instagram at #261daysofrun @jilato

#261daysofrun is a project I am attempting. To me, health is not just about mileage or minutes. It is about where you take yourself. Every day should be an adventure. (261 days is because I don’t run on weekends. 52*2 – you do the math). Follow my journey on Instagram at #261daysofrun @jilato

These items only skim the surface of the adventures of 2013 past, but they are moments that I am so grateful for. I know the year ahead will be exciting, but man have we done one heck of a job so far.

I rang in 2014 in my pajamas. Yup! You read that right. Now I rented a dress from Rent the Runway and was pretty pumped to rock the pink Nicole Miller at a friend’s house party. But when the day came, I just wasn’t feeling up to it. Not only was I exhausted from the holidaying I partook in over the past week – which included but was not limited to Secret Santa with the girls, Christmas, celebrating a friend’s 30th surprise birthday party in Pittsburgh, & dinners with friends from out of state – but I was also feeling a little holiday shade of blue. Yes, it does happen. With Andrew overseas this time of year, I have felt a piece (okay who is kidding who here…a whole chunk) of my heart missing and just didn’t have the harrumph in me to ring in the new year in some extravagant way. Not to say I didn’t wind up having a blast with my own agenda. After a grocery store trip – that was insane…don’t ever go shopping on New Year’s Eve at 5PM – I cooked a meal of tilapia and butter-basil spaghetti squash. After dinner, I felt I needed clear some space and cleaned the closets. Literally my thought was “out with the old and in with the new.” My closets are now prepared for a 2014 wardrobe and I am DEFINITELY cool with that.

I then proceeded to watch five episodes of Sons of Anarchy. Thanks Netflix for creating a new reason for me to procrastinate. At around 11:30 I heard a knocking on the front porch. Knowing that all of my friends have plans and my neighbor has people come and go at strange hours I just ignored it. I heard the noise again, looked up, and in what did my window appear? The two heads of Mo & John bringing New Year’s cheer. Adorned with a bottle of champagne, we turned on the TV and watched Ryan Seacrist’s attempt to be Dick Clark and rang in 2014 on the comforts of the couch. What a heartwarming and lovely surprise to remind me that I am never alone. Tears.

saying goodbye as Andrew boarded before he left. tears are streaming down my face and people just looked at me awkwardly in the waiting area. nobody knows what to do with a crying twenty something in public.

Saying goodbye as Andrew boarded before he left. Tears are streaming down my face and people just looked at me awkwardly in the waiting area. Nobody knows what to do with a crying twenty something in public. So I just called my Mom.

my quiet evenings in often look like this now

My quiet evenings in often look like this now

 

I cannot wait to see what 2014 brings. I definitely know it is bringing me the start of my own family and a big move, but the possibilities seem endless at this point. All I know though now is that I am so grateful for a tremendous 2013 filled with love, family, friendship, and wine! Thank you to each of you that impacted me in ways either great or small. Every moment mattered!

Here is to your 2014. May it be as awesome as you are!

Until next time…

grateful

snow, snow, snow....SNOW

snow, snow, snow….SNOW

Glad tidings to you my dearest readers! Given the snow that occurred in Cleveland this week, it’s safe to say we are about to enter that magical time of year where we all turn into holiday sweets & turkey eating junkies! Ho! Ho! Ho!

With two weeks to go until Thanksgiving I have been ruminating on the past year and how quickly the time flew by. It has been such a blessing to spend time with the people that are closest to me. I have even been able to rekindle some friendships from the college & high school years that have given me the warm and fuzzies!

why yes i was a troll doll for halloween. carrie was a minion.

why yes i was a troll doll for halloween. carrie was a minion.

So I have been running around like a mad woman to appointment after appointment for the wedding. I have to say this stuff is so much fun! I had no idea it was supposed to be like this. Tip to anyone booking a DJ in Cleveland definitely check out Jerry Bruno Productions. I have never had so much fun in an appointment ever. We got to listen to so many songs, see videos of the DJs to see their style, and even play with lighting. I was in heaven. Andrew & I care the most about the music at the wedding, so investing the time and money for an awesome one was priority on the list. I will be the bride that doesn’t leave the dance floor. Fabulous!

I also found the dress! There is really nothing that compares to stepping into the gown and envisioning yourself on that day walking towards the rest of your life. I took just my mother with me to my dress appointments because she was the only one I could imagine sharing that experience with. Obviously there were tons of tears when I found the one, but I have to give her some credit because she was pretty stoic with her facial features to let me form my own opinions. However, when it came to the dreamy number I found, we both lost ourselves. Winning.

My favorite parts of all these appointments is the after. My mom and I have engaged in the ritual of going to get drinks and dinner after each appointment to simply gush about the wonderful/awful things we encountered. There is something so heartwarming about sharing this process with her that it makes me tear up to know that I won’t get these opportunities as often after the move. But anyways…on these cozy occasions to beat the cold I have found a new Malbec that is divine – yea I said divine – called Trapiche. You can get it at Trader Joes. It’s phenomenal.

My travel schedule for work has been so light and lovely that I have been able to do my daily walks for coffee and to the YMCA for some gym time! Gotta get that wedding dress bod. Just kidding… I love Oreos. Anyways…I have found love at Dunkin and more specifically their Pumpkin White Chocolate Latte and their Red Velvet Latte. A little skim milk and $2.79 for a medium. Those bad boys get me through my afternoons. Speaking of afternoons…remember when it gets dark at 4PM? Great.

for a run

for a run

red pea coat season

red pea coat season

Next week Andrew and I are meeting each other in Idaho! This trip is very special for all of us for multiple reasons. Do you want to hear them? No? Too bad…

  1. This is the first time I will ever be in the same place as the entire Robinson Family. I have been with them individually, but never all together as a unit. In fact, Andrew hasn’t even been with all of his family at once in a VERY long time. Andrew’s oldest brother, sister-n-law, and nephew will be meeting me in Chicago and we will fly out to Idaho together. Andrew is coming in from Ft. Lewis in Washington (the state) and Andrew’s middle brother, sister-n-law, and four kids live about ten minutes away from his parents. Gangs All Here!
  2. We will be celebrating Andrew’s kind of sister’s wedding the Saturday before Thanksgiving!
  3. Andrew and I are getting our engagement pictures taken in his hometown. Sigh….it is so dreamy out west. The sky is so much bigger and the foothills and mountains are the perfect backdrop. Drool.
  4. Andrew’s dad is going to get to do our marriage counseling. Since he is marrying us, we actually started the process a few weeks ago by filling out these surveys about ourselves and each other separately. We had to send them to his Dad independently and we will go over them together the next few weeks. I know this sounds so dorky, but when I was taking the “test” filling in the answers was so completely easy and made me realize how perfectly in love I am with my handsome mate. I felt like we would both ace that portion of the counseling. Boom! Nerds…
  5. Mrs. Robinson’s cooking. I will gain at least 7 pounds on this trip. So pumped. It’s delicious.

Last year I went on a rant about being present during the holidays and making the most of your time with your family. This still holds true and I am a firm believer in putting your devices away and sitting around the table and engaging in the art of conversation. Call me crazy, but I believe there is more to life than updating my status on Thanksgiving. But I will spare you the soap box speech today and focus on something that I think we should all do. So in a new tradition I am going to compile a list of those things I am grateful for in my life and for each thing I list I will donate five dollars to a charity of Andrew’s & my choosing.

I am so ever grateful for…

Andrew. I am so blessed that God gave me you to rock out life to. We have had so many adventures and we will have so many more. I can’t wait to call you my husband!

My family. They have supported me through all life’s journeys…mentally and physically. This included moving me a total of twelve times from the ages of 18-26. My brother is super pumped about that. My extended family is counted in this too. There are about a bazillion of them.

My friends. I don’t want to brag but I believe I truly have the best group of people that I barrel through life with. Between dinners, parties, phone calls, & travel shenanigans, I am so lucky to have friends like you all around the nation.

My job. I know that some people are not fortunate enough to have one and I am thankful every day that I am employed and am able to provide. I graduated in the peak of the recession, so I count myself lucky to have been able to find a company I am proud to work for and that has provided me with the means to live a life well-traveled

Wine. All colors & flavors. Jesus turned water into it, so you know this wonderful substance is a gift we should all be grateful for.

Airplanes. I want to thank Orville & Wilbur for hooking this lady up with a means to travel to all those that I love. And especially to getting me to Nashville which is a trip I will remember FOREVER.

Indoor Plumbing & Heating. I live in Cleveland so that’s cold. Also I would not like to trek outside to utilize a port o potty in the middle of the night. Nope. Nope. Nope. Noping out of that situation.

Our Armed Forces. Freedom is not free. There are many soldiers that do not get to be with their families this time of year. Be thankful for their sacrifice so we can eat our stuffing and watch our football.

The Hump Day Commercial. It’s still funny even after the 1,000,000th view.

Etsy & Pinterest. These companies are single handedly ruining and making our wedding.

My Legs. God gave me a healthy body and strong legs so I can get up every day and hit the pavement. I am so thankful for my running time each day.

This Blog & You, my readers. This place has become a safe haven to me and I thank you for hearing what I have to say. Even if it is nonsense!

Sixty dollars folks. That’s more money than we started with here today.

dad and Magnolia (my cousin's daughter) at her first birthday party

dad and Magnolia (my cousin’s daughter) at her first birthday party

thanks etsy

thanks etsy

it's that time of year for grilled cheese and tomato soup

it’s that time of year for grilled cheese and tomato soup

I hope that you and your families have a wonderful Thanksgiving. And if you aren’t by or can’t get to your family…organize a Friendsgiving. My dear friend, Anna is holding her first Friendsgiving this year and I am very sad that I won’t be able to make it. However, my mom’s stuffing is said to be making an appearance. Lucky.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Until next time…

seasons of love

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!! Spooky!

So I almost got side swiped by a car today when out for my daily run. I’m not really sure how he missed me in my lime green shoes and shirt…but apparently the vehicular citizens of Lakewood do not believe in approaching a cross walk with caution in a neighborhood notorious for its high pedestrian traffic. Safe travels out there my fellow runners. Safe travels.

Edna in her fall attire.

Edna in her fall attire.

A daily trip to Dunkin Donuts on the end of my street for a Pumpkin White Latte. Perfection.

A daily trip to Dunkin Donuts on the end of my street for a Pumpkin White Latte. Perfection.

In early October, my brother & I threw a surprise party for my parent's 35th weddings anniversary. They were completely shocked and grateful. We invited family and friends to share in the celebration. My mom was moved to tears when we pulled in the driveway and everyone was standing outside the house! A beautiful night filled with love.

In early October, my brother & I threw a surprise party for my parent’s 35th weddings anniversary. They were completely shocked and grateful. We invited family and friends to share in the celebration. My mom was moved to tears when we pulled in the driveway and everyone was standing outside the house! A beautiful night filled with love.

It’s nice to be back to a normal rhythm again. I actually was able to dress up Edna for the autumn time this month. She looks fabulous by the way. We celebrated our one year anniversary together by lighting some candles and having a glass or four of wine. This past few months has been a whirlwind of travel for work. I facilitated the new hires in my firm again for a week in Dallas. But more importantly I took my inaugural trip to the future home of the future Robinsons. Andrew has been posted in Ft. Benning, GA and pending any other extreme changes should be there for the next two plus years. This means it will be our home for our married selves. Yes I said married!!

Andrew asked me to be his wife! To spare you of any gushing I will only say this…it was one of the most precious moments of my life. I was overwhelmed with so much joy and love that day that I didn’t even cry! And these days I tend to cry at everything….commercials, grandpas playing chess at the farmer’s market, puppies…you name it…I’m tearing up. I acknowledge that I am one very lucky girl in getting to grow old with the person whom knows all my deep dark corners, whom I can laugh with, and whom gives the most amazing hugs ever.

Andrew’s cleverness ceases to amaze me and he captured our gemstone of a moment on his phone. He proposed to me where we had our first date. We went to B Spot for some brats and then down the Memorial Park on the lake in my hometown. We have already shared this with our family and friends, but I thought I would share our joy with you my fellow readers. But please don’t pain yourself after 2:30. It gets just ick.

Proposal Video

Beyond being busy with the start of wedding planning and work, Andrew and I are also looking at homes down in Georgia. A ton of change for this lady within the next year and it has hit me like a bag of bricks. I apologize for my absence, but I have had some trouble finding my voice as well as some time to just sit down and write. But the minute I get into the rhythm, it’s like being with a long lost friend that I missed oh so much. For those that pretend to word vomit and call it writing like I do here…you can level with this feeling. It brings a tiny piece of my soul back into place. And just like the changing seasons (apparently it’s almost close to winter – CHRISTMAS ALE SEASON – in Cleveland), I feel the slight change in season of my life.

May I introduce to you Andrew & my first home in Columbus, GA. We signed the lease Monday. Andrew will move in now and I will join him after the wedding.

May I introduce to you Andrew’s & my first home together in Columbus, GA. We signed the lease Monday. Andrew will move in now and I will join him after the wedding.

John Mayer told me that I was supposed to have a quarter life crises. Well year twenty-five was freaking awesome so my thought was “What are you even talking about, John? This is great! I support myself, I have awesome friends, my job lets me go on sweet trips, Edna is a babe, I have a sexy boyfriend, and my family lives within ten minutes of me….aka dinnnnnnnnnnnnner!” Then twenty-six hit and all of a sudden I felt a click and another shift.

Not a bad shift, just the start down a path that is unknown to me. A path that involves creating a new family, looking for new opportunities… be it school or work, making new friends, making some sacrifices, and uprooting again. A time in my life where it can’t just be all about me. And I did twenty-five years of me – I was really good at it. Not that I have to stop reaching for my dreams, but life is not just about me anymore. And that is so wonderful and scary at the same time. For those that have walked down the aisle before me, I am sure you may be familiar with this change and whether you were gung-ho or hesitant for it, for most of us it inevitably just comes.

Life is a wonderfully absolutely beautifully tricky thing. And I am ready for the next chapter finally! I am excited to be able to come home every night and hang out with my best friend. I’m ready to watch series of television shows in excess with him on a rainy weekend. I am ready to cook dinner with or even for him. And I am shockingly considering doing some yard work. Some of you might be laughing but for us in those things called “long-distance relationships,” these mundane tasks are the ones we are most envious of.

A few weekends ago I watched one of the closer people to me get married to the man she has been dating since they were sophomores in high school. She is twenty five now. My heart melted as they read their vows to each other because these two have been through so many seasons of life together and weathered all the changes that came with that time period. Their love story is so unique to most I know and it was so special to be able to see them make a commitment to each other under God and in front of all those they cared most for. To see them you would think they are best friends. And they are. But you can also see the love they have created over the past ten years where they chose to go through the changes of life together. Also…their wedding was a huge dance party. I attempted to sleep in the hotel lobby bag-o-Doritos in hand. Classy.

Sara, Laura (the bride), and me at the bar after the wedding. Party won't stop.

Sara, Laura (the bride), and me at the bar after the wedding. Party won’t stop.

Me, Kate, Anna, Erin, Danielle, & Audrea at the Petty's wedding.

Me, Kate, Anna, Erin, Danielle, & Audrea at the Petty’s wedding.

I finally had a date to a wedding. At Mike & Lesley's wedding in September.

I finally had a date to a wedding. At Mike & Lesley’s wedding in September.

Love was very present that day. Not the fleeting lustful love, but the withstanding, enduring, and forgiving love that only time and life’s seasons can bring. It made me even more excited for my future with the man that I thanked for his service that hot July night in Charlotte over two years ago. Our life has not been so intertwined together for as long as my dear friends have, however that doesn’t make it any less of the quality withstanding love. Andrew and I have gone through much of our young adult life alone or with others, but that time shaped us to be exactly the people we are supposed to be together. We have weathered our own storms, plane trips, rides to the airport, goodbyes, worries, deployments, and Jillian drama – ha. We have shared in joys, promotions, moving days, reunions, holidays, vacation, and meeting each other’s family. There is good stuff here and the point I am trying to make is that I am thrilled at the thought of becoming a Mrs. Robinson and it feels so wonderful to know it is the real deal.

The next few months have me wedding dress shopping and heading to Idaho to hang with my future in-laws for a wedding and Thanksgiving. Andrew’s Dad is marrying us (he is a retired Chaplain Colonel in the US Army) and we are going to do our marriage counseling while we are out there. We are even getting our engagement photos taken while we are there to bring some of the western sky into this special time. I am even looking forward to the many nights ahead sitting at a kitchen table with Maureen drinking wine and spinning fanciful wedding dreams on to paper. Oh! And we actually just set a date not too long ago. I will officially become a Robinson at a military wedding on July 4, 2014! Heck ya there will be fireworks and sparklers.

Wine & weddings magazines have made for perfect autumn evenings.

Wine & weddings magazines have made for perfect autumn evenings.

How I popped the question to my bridemaids.

How I popped the question to my bridemaids.

I also want to take a moment and congratulate my college roommate Julie on her marriage to Graham Winch. The two lovebirds tied the knot the same weekend as my dear friends I discussed above. They followed their nuptials with a fabulous trip to Seville, Spain and rocked the trip as only those two could. Looked amazing and was terrible sad I couldn’t celebrate with them.

I hope everyone has a fun Halloween and that it is as spooky or not spooky as you want it to be. Tonight finds me sitting on my front porch with a Target $1 bin witch hat and a glass of wine handing out candy to the brave trick-or-treaters. I am thrilled for this as I have never passed out Halloween candy or had a house to do so in! What are your Halloween plans?

Until next time…

nashville…nashvegas

Hey friends! If you are from Cleveland I hope you are outside hitting the pavement right now. It is a perfectly beautiful night for a run and in fact it will be the opportune weather for physical fitness outside all week. So get your rear off the couch!

I knew I definitely had to after the long libation filled holiday. I am always a fan of the long weekend – and for me this one was extra-long because I also had Friday off – but I sincerely feel the effects on my awesome decisions come Tuesday. Ergo… no voice and an obscenely upset stomach. Yay for water and plain food! Me on conference calls this morning was quite hilarious. “Jillian are you catching a cold?” ….yeah…something like that.

So not only was this weekend a bachelorette celebration for my dear friend, Laura, but it was also the start of football season, national bacon day, AND my 26th birthday!!!!!!!!!! And of all the places I could celebrate these momentous occasions the best choice seemed to be…Nashville!

Fun Bun & Ready for Nashville!

Fun bun & ready for Nashville!

Laura, the bachelorette so excited!

Laura, the bachelorette so excited!

 

This was the first time I had ever been and we went with a fabulous group of Laura’s closest whom just happen to be some my nearest and dearests as well! We stayed on a lake about 20 miles or so outside Nashville in this gorgeous lake house. (Nice find, Sara) I mean if we were being honest here, this thing was created for grown-ups. Super classy and definitely a step up from most bachelorette party accommodations. I usually wind up sleeping on a deflated air mattress or on the floor at the foot of a bed with 12 girls in it – this weekend I actually slept in a bed. Well kind of. I don’t think closing my eyes for 3 hours counts as sleep…but we’ll go with it.

Hanging in the basement about the start a dance party the first night.

Hanging in the basement about the start a dance party the first night.

Playing superlatives. There's a story to this photo...but that's for another time another place. Notice Anna and me in the bottom left corner cracking up.

Playing superlatives. There’s a story to this photo…but that’s for another time another place. Notice Anna and me in the bottom left corner cracking up.

 

Recommendations to future bachelorette party goers…find a house that comes with:

  • A pontoon boat that you can sit on and listen to country music without leaving the dock…because you realize you aren’t licensed to drive any sort of watercraft AND you have been drinking since 8:30 AM and are in no shape to drive.
  • Massive sound system that includes an iPod dock so you can plug in that throwback playlist and dance to N*Sync and XTina all night long.
  • Moms to cook you breakfast, remind you how much they love you when you are eating street meat at 3AM, make sure you don’t get kidnapped by a cowboy, and just be generally the awesome Mom’s that they are
  • Bear Fights…also known as brass monkeys but you liked the sound of bear fights better
  • At least three bathrooms with a shower. Man that shower line was long.

Recommendations for Nashville:

  • Kareoke Kab. Get it. Use it. Sing Johnny Cash and Country Grammar. All are acceptable in Nashville.
  • The Stage. One of Nashville’s famous establishments. This place gets crowded though and sometimes you must resort to creating a circle of bachelorettes so the bride has proper room to bust a move. Author’s Notes: I did not really know the name of any place we walked into at the time. I am looking at my credit card receipts to get these names. Yep.
  • Use the back alleyway. While we were at dinner at Hard Rock, a woman gave us two little tips that saved our lives. There is a back alleyway behind the establishments on the main drag. The line to get in is a heck of a lot shorter. Additionally, one side of the street has no cover charge and the other side does. I wouldn’t say neglect the side that has cover charges, but if you are cowgirl on a budget stay on the North side of Broadway. But then again…you are in Nashville…spend that money, honey!
  • Do not go to Margaritaville in the afternoon. If you want to wait three hours for drinks and food, then definitely go there. If not…I’d steer clear.
  • Do not be afraid to talk to the band. We saw some pretty great bands play at almost every place we went to. After all it is the country music capital. But the musicians are so friendly and love interacting with the crowd. They also love talking the general public in the bar into buying the bachelorette seven shots of Fireball whisky.
  • Day drink in Nashville. No really, do it. The bars are less crowded and you get more opportunity to hear some original music from the musicians.
  • Silver Dollar Saloon, The Second Fiddle, Tootsies, & Legends. Great places. Go there.
  • There is also this Vienna Beef hotdog stand on Broadway that makes a ridiculously fabulous hot dog. Get the jalapeños, relish, and stadium mustard situation happening. Your mouth will be on fire but you will have less of a headache the next morning. Don’t ask me how….those things are magical.
  • Go with girls that don’t suck. Nashville rocks so you don’t want to be with a group of Debbie Downers. Lucky for me this group was filled with the most awesome ladies ever. I think my cheeks hurt from laughing.
Me and Mama Mo (my lovely mother)

Me and Mama Mo (my lovely mother)

She found her way on stage under the Nashville lights

She found her way on stage under the Nashville lights

On stage again...

On stage again…

 

Playing for us obviously...

Playing for us obviously…

 

That’s really all I got on Nashville right now. Pretty awesome weekend that left all of us feeling immediately nostalgic and ready to go back. Hope that your Labor Day was perfectly amazing too!

This week takes me down to Ohio University for a speaking engagement. Yes, someone actually asked me to represent my firm and speak to all those young college hopefuls about their aspiring careers. I am actually looking forward to seeing some old professors and being on campus in “fall” – it’s really not fall yet, but the pumpkin spice latte is officially out now so obviously Pinteresters, Instagramers, and Facebookers are going bananas about how “we are so excited that fall is here!” It really isn’t fall yet, but fine.

And I get to round out my week with that favorite man of mine! I will finally have an uninterrupted three weeks with him that starts with a visit to good ole Windsor, Canada for get this…..THE KILLERS CONCERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OHHHHHHHHHHH MAN!!!!! This girl is excited.

Have a lovely week all. Tomorrow is already Hump Day. Mike, Mike, Mike….what day is it, Mike!?

Until next time…

how do you do it

Bon soir my fair friends! I sincerely hope that this post on this fine Friday evening finds you out sitting on a patio amongst good company, lots of wine, and fabulous food. In fact…if you are a Clevelander I am recommending Humble…the new hot spot wine bar in Lakewood on Detroit for this exact combination of awesome. The food is fantastic, the wine is perfect, and there are built-in troughs into the family style tables to keep your favorite Pinot Grigio chilled while you nibble on tuna tar-tar crostinis. Oh yes…the patio boasts some excellent people watching and the restaurant is chic and relaxed.

The wine chiller at the table on the patio at Hunble.

The wine chiller at the table on the patio at Humble.

To my dismay I am not one of those lucky ones on a patio this evening. I am an invalid laid up recovering from a small procedure I had this morning. So yes…I may be loopy and probably shouldn’t post this. But I am a rebel so I will post anyways.

I have spoken to many a woman whom have hit their mid twenties and found that their stomachs no longer support the abrasive eating habits they were used to in the past. Long gone are the days of eating anything you want with an iron stomach. I have come to find…I am more delicate and highly sensitive to food these days. I have joined you, my friends. Aging is stupid. I’m about seven days away from 26 and by no means am I saying I am old here. I still get carded everywhere I go…and sometimes even asked for a second form. Trust me good sir, that is me in this photo and this is my credit card. I would happily refute my identity if it means I don’t have to the pay the balance on that card, but alas…it is me.

I digress…my bad. I have been traveling per the usual for work to Chicago and Detroit…and spent my last three weekends in either Charlotte, Wilmington, Pittsburgh, or Cleveland for one or multiple of the follow: wedding, bridal shower, and/or bachelorette party – it really is wedding season in my book. Over this crazy time period my stomach went bananas on me which led me to a lovely appointment with the neighborhood gastroenterologist. One colonoscopy/endoscopy later… I feel like a 50-year-old man, but am now as clean as a whistle. TMI? Yea, I know…but I share this with you because I am a huge supporter of taking care of your body. However and whenever you need to do it. If something feels off, do something about! Get it checked out.

Also something really awesome/hilarious happened at the hospital today. Besides me being totally looped out from the anesthetics, I went in for my pre-op procedures and my PA happened to be one of my friends from childhood! Out of all the hospitals and all the nurses….I got her. It was so nice to have a familiar face to talk to while I peed into a cup and put on those awkward/awful gowns made for 300 pound men. Seriously I felt like Jack Nicholson in Something’s Gotta Give. You know the scene I’m talking about. But what was so awesome about having her there was realizing that the people I used to do homework and attend football games with are now real grown-ups in society. I mean we all have friends out there and if we don’t work with them on a daily basis, how often do you really get to see someone you know at their place of employment in action? Uhm…that’s pretty much a never to me.

Author Note: The hospital socks are awesome. No really…I’m serious.

So like I said, my travel schedule has been insane, but absolutely fabulously fun. I have been able to spend some time in Charlotte with some dear friends and a few days sunning and bar hopping on a beach in Wilmington to celebrate some more lovely friend’s matrimony. I got to take an architecture boat tour in Chicago with my work colleagues during a large conference and even got to meet up with a close girlfriend who just moved to the city for some sushi. Went to Pittsburgh to partake in bridal and bachelorette celebrations for my closest friend from college, Julie and was able to spend some much-needed time with that crew. This past weekend included another fun-filled bachelorette evening for my girlfriend, Lesley gallivanting around downtown Cleveland. By the way…Pickwick & Frolic is delicious and just down the stairs in the same restaurant is a fabulous champagne bar! Hidden gem!

Hanging on the beach in Wilmington

Hanging on the beach in Wilmington

With lory at the beach bars in Wilmington, NC.

With Lory at the beach bars in Wilmington, NC.

Matt & Lisa Hinson

Matt & Lisa Hinson

At the White Sox vs. Yankees game in Chicago

At the White Sox vs. Yankees game in Chicago

On the Architecture Boat Tour with some colleagues

On the Architecture Boat Tour with some colleagues in Chicago

With the bachelorette, Julie!

With the bachelorette, Julie!

All the girls at the Perle the champange bar in Pittsburgh for Julie's bachelorette

All the girls at the Perle the champagne bar in Pittsburgh for Julie’s bachelorette

Lesley's bachelorette at dinner at Pickwick & Frolics

Lesley’s bachelorette at dinner at Pickwick & Frolics

Along for the ride, Andrew is re-joining me this evening so my parent’s can pass the “take care of Jillian” torch over to him. He’s so lucky. For those of you that do not know, after Andrew returned from Afghanistan and we had our lovely time together, he had to report to Ft. Benning for three weeks of training to see if he would make it into the Ranger Regiment. Andrew is a Ranger already, but we found out two Tuesdays ago that he has been selected to serve with the 75th Ranger Regiment (a regiment of all Rangers) in Ft. Benning, GA! Another adventure in our future. Can’t stop, won’t stop! What have I said before? Get comfortable being uncomfortable? Oh yes…we both take this to the next level. Ha! Anyways if you see him give him a high-five. It’s been a dream for him and it has made my heart so warm to watch him work so hard to achieve this goal. Super proud! Gush gush gush………

We will have a month or so together before he heads back down to Ft. Benning for good. It will be very magical month because something awesome is gonna happen. We got tickets to the Killers concert in Windsor, CANADA! Yay for international travel. Remember when you didn’t need a passport to go to Canada? And because we are obsessed  – rock it out – we got some really great seats…like hoping the sweat drips off Brandon Flowers onto us good seats. Woot woot! I also have to go to Chicago again for business this week, so I decided to take a day off and introduce my man to the windy city that I have come to spend so much time in. He has never been so I am super excited to be able to show him all my favorite spots and just walk the city with him. Perhaps a trip down Michigan Ave. is in order?

I will be spending my birthday weekend in Nashville celebrating my friend Laura’s last hoorah as a single chick. I have never been to Nashville before and am super excited to check this new scene out. The group rented a house not far from the city on the river for the long labor day weekends. My best friend, Sara (and MOH) said we might be playing beer olympics?!? I mean…………………..yea!

Obviously I am a person who tends to wander. I have never lived in one place longer than a year minus childhood. When I lived in Charlotte I moved three times in three years! I enjoy being planted somewhere firmly, but the other half of my heart is drawn to new places and what could be around the next corner. I love this life. I want to be able to see all I can when I can. But sometimes I need to slow down and take care of myself. But I am thankful for all the opportunities I have been given and will explore for as long as I possibly can…or at least until that one little test turns out positive.

On another note, I have met so many followers of this blog out and about and I have to say I am so flabbergasted that you tolerate me…or even find me remotely amusing! Honestly this is just a bunch of rambling bs that comes out of my brain unfiltered. I really should get an editor….or at least have Julie give each post a read through before I upload it. Julie used to proof all my papers in college. Yep. She’s a dream.  But I have digressed again. It is really so great to hear from you and have your support!

So in that spirit I wanted to answer a question that I have received so many times from readers:

Person: “How do you do it?”

Me: “Do what?”

Person:  A long-distance relationship?”

Disclaimer: I am not an expert…I’m just a woman in love.

A: Let me set the stage. I have had three hard-core relationships in my life. Defining hard-core to me means we were together for over a year. I say this because anything under a year and you are still honey-mooning, especially in long distance. It takes time for the mundane demons to surface and to really settle into each other. Two os those relationships were three years with one of them long distance. And then my current relationship is a little over two years old and hopefully the last hard-core relationship I will ever have to be in! 😉

So the simple answer is…I just do it. It’s all in the frame of mind and your perspective and attitude. Personally, I don’t really see the distance as a challenge. Does it suck? Sure. But not all the time. Are there nights when I get sad and cry? Sure. Are there nights where I get mad at Andrew? Sure. But for most days I am just happy to know I have someone out there that loves me and would do anything for me. I’m stealing something Andrew always tells me, but “every day you have to choose to get up and make it work.” And I mean every day. Some days it will be so easy it’s not even a choice. Other days it may be more difficult. Love is easy and hard whether you are a thousand miles or two feet apart. Commitment is something to work for and work at everyday. If you see the bigger picture and he/she is the one that’s supposed to be your constant in the bigger picture…then you just do it.

The one piece of advice I do have is to communicate. I am much better at this than my counterpart (sorry, hon), but I know that my effort helps his effort. Don’t let feelings fester. It is easy to get jealous when you are surrounded by “normal couples” who get to see each other every day and go for movie dates and don’t have to jam pack all their fun into multiple weekends. While you may think that the grass is greener on the other side…the truth is the grass is greener where you water it. So if you have an issue with the current status quo, talk about it. If neither of you are willing to make the necessary sacrifice of your own personal goals to be closer together, then you have to work with what you got or make a change.

What I have found to be helpful is to make as many plans for the future as you can. I don’t mean grandiose plans, but little things like “I would like to go pumpkin picking with you in October, let’s make a date to do that.” And when you do have that precious time together…for goodness sake…BE PRESENT! I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH…BE PRESENT!!! Try as hard has you can to put the iPhone and the gadgets away. Touch, cuddle, talk, watch terrible television, cook together. Not every time you see each other do you need to be climbing Mt. Everest. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit still and be a “normal couple.” And as funny as this sounds…give each other hugs and kisses and look each other in the eyes! Those tiny connections help you stay centered when you have those weeks or months apart.

Being in a long-distance relationship isn’t easy, but it isn’t the worst thing in the world either. Many couples over all walks of life manage to do it. Your heart will know if you aren’t built for it, so just stay true to who you are and don’t let your head rationalize you out of something that could be amazing. Do I want to be in a LDR my whole life? No definitely not. But would I if I had to? If it was for the man I loved…absolutely.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend friends. It was so nice catching up with you! I will now spend the rest of my night on my couch with Breaking Bad and day dreaming about getting a little golden for my own. (Thanks for the video, Mom!)

Until next time…

homecoming

I am writing to you with bangs. Not like real bangs…but kind of bangs. Like side sweeping bangs. They are semi new to me. Actually if I recall the last time I actually had bangs… it was fifth grade and I was secretly cutting them down to the base of my scalp because I wanted to get rid of them. I would then tell people…that my hair was just naturally that way. Yes…naturally sleeked back in a high pony tail with a butterfly clip and short spiked hairs framing my forehead. I looked awesome.

Sorry for my way tardiness…but without further ado…the homecoming story:

It was the last full day down in Holden Beach, NC. There were about thirty people split between two different beach houses and we had been down there for a week of beachy type things. When my family vacation…we actually vacation. We don’t go and explore…we literally plop ourselves down on towels or chairs and drink, eat, sunbathe, and talk each others ears off. It. Is. Fabulous.

Asami, Me, Ashley, & Cattin at the Beach House Sugar & Spice.

Asami, Me, Ashley, & Cattin at the Beach House Sugar & Spice.

Adam, Bryan, Michael (brother), Jimmy, Eric at the Beach House Sugar & Spice

Adam, Bryan, Michael (brother), Jimmy, Eric at the Beach House Sugar & Spice

Anywho…end of the week and I about five pounds heavier, tan, and super happy. I am days away from seeing Andrew for the first time in six months. While he was starting the coming home process, we – and by we I mean I – thought it would be best to go on a complete blackout. Obviously I was feeling horribly guilty that he was scheduled to land on american soil sometime over my only vacation a year if everything went according to plan. But you have to remember…not everything goes according to plan…especially in the military. So even if I would have not gone on the trip that has already been paid for and waited for him like a “good Army girlfriend” there would be a good chance I would be waiting a long time. For example…random volcanic eruptions in Europe during 2010 grounded many flights abroad and delayed many military homecomings. Just a factoid for ya.

So to actually enjoy my vacation I literally went primitive and didn’t look at a cell phone or a website for an entire week. Author Note: I recommend doing this for as long as you can on a vacation because it was a truly freeing and relaxing feeling. I was completely incommunicado.

So now…it’s the end of the day and everyone is starting to gather their items that have been strewn about the house in the chaos that is living with 18 people. Oh but not me. After some obligatory family photos on the steps leading down to the beach, I bee-lined to the kitchen to make some toast.

So there I stand talking with my Uncle Art about the housewarming party coming up and the tables I need to borrow all the while my bread turns into toast. I’m yapping away not realizing that the house full of 18 people is eerily quiet for 8PM on a Friday night. I turn slightly to my left as a commotion enters the kitchen. And there he stands in front of me in his ACUs (Army Combat Uniform) – basically the uniform we see all the soldier travel in – with about 12 of my family member’s happy/weepy faces behind him.

What it looked like when I first saw him. Typical.

What it looked like when I first saw him. Typical.

So very happy and blessed he is safe and home.

So very happy and blessed he is safe and home.

Honestly it took me a minute to actually figure out this wasnt a mirage that I was stunned silent. Imagine me….mute. It wasn’t until my Uncle Art broke the silence about two beats later with “So…………………this must be Andrew?” that I snapped back to reality and started bawling/screaming/laughing/gurgling/running/wobbling into his arms. Yay for clapping. It was a total movie moment. I would also love to share the video with you guys……

Just kidding…my mom never hit record so she walked around the whole time “filming” the reunion through her iPhone. Thanks, Mom!

Turns out though her and Michael were in cahoots the entire time with Andrew and had known for days that he was coming. They are the ultimate secret keepers. And honestly that is definitely a moment that will stay with my as long as I live. No video necessary…however we did recreate the pictures the next morning in the same spot for visual effect. You are so welcome.

I burnt the toast.

After the initial mess of reunion, I was definitely shaky for a few moments. I was kind of awkward like a deer trying to stand for the first time. I didn’t know what to do with my hands. Ha. But after a walk on the beach to talk and some pizza and shows with the rest of the fam, we were back to our old selves rather quickly. A seamless and very welcome transition.

On top of the surprise homecoming, Andrew extended our stay at the beach with two extra nights at Carolina Beach. After his six months living with hundreds of men and staying in a house with 18 members of my family we definitely welcomed the alone time. We had two days to ourselves to hang on the beach and reconnect. We even got to pay a visit to my godmother and her family (my cousins) in Raleigh during our leisurely trip back up to Ohio.

Before our seafood dinner at Carolina Beach the second night.

Before our seafood dinner at Carolina Beach the second night.

We had two weeks of solid adventures after that. But those are for the next posts. I am so happy to have him home even if he will now be based in Georgia. If you follow my life at all…remember when I lived in North Carolina two minutes ago???…and he lived in New York?? Now I am in Cleveland..closer to New York…and he is going to Georgia. Long distance epic fail.

I felt I needed to have a proper welcome home ceremony for him. So I decked out the house.

I felt I needed to have a proper welcome home ceremony for him. So I decked out the house.

Thats a sheet. And paint. Thank you EJ for rehanging it for us.

Thats a sheet. And paint. Thank you EJ for rehanging it for us.

Decked out the living room too. Yep - got light headed filling the balloons.

Decked out the living room too. Yep – got light headed filling the balloons.

Thank you again my fine friends for all your love and support through my first deployment. Your encouragement has helped me a ton and I am so thankful for you all.

Posts to follow within the next few weeks include: Summer Adventures & the Housewarming Party with photos of the new digs!!! It’s a cooler summer day in Cleveland today. Not digging it…take me back to the 90 degree days please. I love the heat. That’s a lowercase h. I would never support that ridiculous team in the south.

Until next time…

stump

My friend E told me last night that all his favorite bloggers haven’t posted in a while. And that he has me on a blogger App on his phone which automatically updates him when his favorite bloggers add a new post. There were two things I was thinking when he said this….”This is good…I don’t feel so guilty that I haven’t written in a while..clearly its summatime and I am just trying to live my life instead of write about it. Plus clearly other bloggerites are doing this as well.” And two…”He has an App for his favorite bloggers? I’m one of his favorite bloggers? I feel famous. For a minute. Okay…feeling has passed.”

So I have forgiven myself for not blogging…I hope that you can forgive me too! Let’s just keep it real here…the weather has been absolutely fantastic in Clevelandtown as of late…and there were lot’s of patios that needed my assistance in establishing summer happy hour. It’s all about giving back to your community, ya know?

I spent my Memorial Day with some very awesome people down in Lansing, WV for a white water rafting trip extravaganza. Google that…it’s in the middle of the back country wilderness of West Virginia. Wild and wonderful friends…wild and wonderful. Six of us spent a weekend fit for yuppies who want to feel like they are actually roughing it…but still want indoor plumbing and a nice cozy bed to lay their heads on. Ladies and gentelemen…may i introduce you to the “Sportsmen Cabins” at Adventures on the Gorge. They were awesome.

Roughing it...

Roughing it…

Before I wade knee-deep into this let me set the scene. It obviously made sense to leave on Saturday morning given we all have real jobs now and are tired on Fridays. And by Saturday morning…we mean 11 AM. It’s Saturday and I cruise on over to Jim and Alis…and about 12:15 we manage to get on the road. One quick stop at the car dealership to get Ali’s car some maintenance while we are away and we are on our way. Wait…we have to stop at the cigar shop…then we are on our way. Time out…we need gas…and some magazines. Okay…now we are making progress. Waiiiiiiiiiit….whats that? Your stomach is rumbling….let’s find Chik-Fil-A. Where is the closest one to the highway? Five miles off the highway. Totally worth it. Okay back on track.

Trail mix, naps, grapes, gossip in magazines, singalongs. Thirty miles of gorgeous road away….we need groceries. We are about to enter the middle of no service land. We need groceries. Beer…hot dogs…beer…burgers…chips…plates?…pickles from the refrigerator…beer. Yep I think we are all set. Back on road….destination within sight. Wait…we need a giant stump…to play stump of course.

Shopping

Shopping

Pause for side tangent.

Side Tangent: Stump is the absolutely fabulous red neck (sorry) game that Jim & Ali introduced me to. Why yes it is exactly what it sounds like. You get a giant tree stump and make sure it’s about at waist height. Then you get some nails and a hammer. For each player of stump you hammer a nail into the stump in front of you just enough so it stands upright with a firm base. Now comes the fun part. Hold your beer in your non dominant hand. With your dominant hand…in one motion throw the hammer into the air spinning once clockwise and catch it. In that same motion bring the hammer down on a nail. Preferably not your nail. Pass hammer around circle after one attempt per person. When your nail is hit further into stump you must drink that proportion of beer. When your nail is all the way in the stump…finish your beer…you are out. Take a step back and watch your friends look like complete spazzes. One rule in this game….NOBODY GETS HURT. Anyone breaks the rule…game is over. There you go friends…you are so welcome.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for anything attempted by people who clearly cannot handle this game. Play at own risk. And sorry to the parents that follow this blog…don’t let your children read this. ha. No really…don’t.

Playing stump

Playing stump

We now return to our regular scheduled programming.

So we needed a stump. About to enter the winding roads into the mountain. The perfect stump sighting. Jim veers off and the procurement of stump commences intertwined with some positive interaction with the locals who owned the establishment stump resided. After some Macgyvering…we were FINALLY on our way to the cabin with stump on Farm’s lap in the front seat. Visual provided.

Stump on Farm's lap

Stump on Farm’s lap

We arrived at the cabin early evening. Men made fire…only after we hooked up the stereo system of course. Naturally we were the most annoying crew at the “campground.” Hot dogs were cooked, stump was played, whiskey was passed around, and stories were told. We spent the entire next day in wet suits rafting the white water of the New River. The sun was warm enough that we were not frigid, but it was too early in the season to go without a wet suit. The water was perfect. We rafted everything from class II to class V white water. And on one of the class II we actually got permission from our raft guide to get out of the boat and swim the white water. On purpose. It was probably one of the coolest experiences to go through the river free-floating and not in a panic. We were able to stop for a sandwich lunch and a ridiculously funny bathroom break in an eddy. Ever try to get a wet wetsuit back on your wet body? Ya…that’s fun.

Not a bad view...

Not a bad view…

Jim, Ali, Sean, Me, Chelsea, Adam

Jim, Ali, Sean, Me, Chelsea, Adam

The day was long and after some celebratory beers on the bus right back to the camp, we were ready for dinner and a low-key night watching the sunset and chilling around the campfire. It was pretty perfect. We packed up the next morning and after stopping for the longest breakfast of my life at a Cracker Barrel, we finally made it home. Perfect Memorial Day complete. To top this…my next Memorial Day will be spent with these same folks celebrating the marriage of Ali and Jim. Man…these weekends just keep getting better.

I hope that you had a fantastical Memorial Day weekend.

I have been out on the road per usual for the j-o-b. With a more recent trip to Chicago I was able to find some time to take myself on a solo date to Fultons for some fish, prosecco, and a table with a view of the river. I also was able to meet up with my REAL cousin (I have fake cousins) Connor for some most excellent mahi fish tacos at Mercadito and a subway ride to some hipster bars in Logan Square (Boiler Room)…cause I am trying to be cool too. This place’s bathrooms actually made you feel like you were urinating in a Subway car. I didn’t know if I should feel homeless…or just drunk. They also served a special here called the PB&J. You get a slice of pizza, a PBR, and a shot of watered down Jameson. Get it?????? PB&J???

Solo date on the river in Chicago

Solo date on the river in Chicago

This is a stall...

This is a stall…

I’ve also been upping the running game now that the weather is more conducive to my pavement routes. I have been able to pursue the neighborhoods again and have been into some pretty long runs coupled with more intense interval and incline training in the gym. Wanted to get your thoughts on something fellow runners. With exception to throwing my back out cleaning the bathtub, I have been relatively injury free (knocking on wood right now). I have had my running shoes since college. In fact there are holes in them. I adore them. They are fabulous. I feel like I can run like the wind in them, however, I get yelled at every which direction about the fact that I need to replace my shoes. My mom. My chiropractor. The neighbor. My thought is bah-humbug to that. If you recall in my post here I am of the school of thought that our bodies are naturally conditioned to run regardless of what footwear we wear. In fact the footwear is irrelevant and we only need to simply use it for barriers between rocks and pebbles on the pavement. So my thought is…if it ain’t broke…don’t fix it. Am I right? or Am I wrong? Would love to get your insight on this!

In other random nonsense…if you have seen me out and about lately it is likely I gave you some huge goofy grin and jumped up and down like an idiot while exclaiming “Andrew is coming home soon!” For that I apologize. But HE IS COMING HOME SOON! I know this because a trunk of his belongings will be arriving at mi casa shortly. And when that happens….it means he follows suit. Buh Bam!

I am also about two weeks out from a GREATLY anticipated vacation to Holden Beach, NC. I go here every year with my family and my “family.” THIS, THIS, and sometimes THIS are my pieces of heaven for a week. There are a lot of us so we usually need anywhere from two to three homes. This place and time is sacred to me and I can only ever remember missing one year. I haven’t taken any personal time yet this year since I was stock-piling for my soldier’s return..so this girl is getting ANNNNNNNNNTSY.

I finally sent the invitations for my housewarming and welcome home Andrew party. I even put them on nice paper and everything. I addressed envelopes and put stickers on too. Thanks Mom! So this means after Edna’s debut to the real people…she will debut to the blog people. Don’t worry I think you are real too.

Before I leave you tonight with a random assortment of “things that are SO AWESOME”… I want to say Happy Birthday to one of the nearest and dearest to me, Katy Wilson! Her birthday is on June 9 so if you are in the Houston area and you track her down (which can be hard to do!) could you please give her a GIANT hug from me. Can’t wait to celebrate love when you return to the homeland in July. I am eagerly anticipating your arrival my dear friend!

Stay fly friends! Enjoy your weekend…in fact I think you should start it right now…with a glass of wine. Cheers!

THINGS THAT ARE SO AWESOME

Making me smell like summer: Sea Island Cotton from Bath & Body Works

On my playlist to rock out/in to:

1) I watched the end of George of the Jungle one morning and discovered this song…puts me in a fabulous mood

2) Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes know what they are doing with Janglin

3) When I am missing North Carolina…and my road trip out west with my bestie..there is always Eric Church

4) Love the video. I want to run down a hill in my wedding dress. Beyonce is fierce.

5) Love this song and this show and this version gives me goosebumps. I can see it being part of a big moment in my life if ya know what I mean!!!?

6) A great song from a great movie. To prep you for the next thing that is SO AWESOME

The things I am about to watch: Man of Steel, Master Chef, oh an I already saw Iron Man 3. That was SO AWESOME.

Things that are making me laugh out loud: Dinosaur humor, more dinosaur humor, and more dinosaur humor…(id be the one smiling)

Things I am reading or that are gonna get read: City of Women, Insurgent (sequel to Divergent), Dark Places, & Sharp Objects

Until next time…

some news…

patio 2

Greetings from my brand spanking new patio furniture. Does it make me an official blogger now that i am writing in a random location on an Ultrabook two glasses of champagne in – yes I have been on a champagne kick these past few months – ? Oh yes…I think that does qualify me.

The past few weeks have been completely question mark. I utilize this statement because I had to pause and assess my surroundings multiple times. I don’t want to particularly discuss the crazy travel schedule with you but more importantly highlight one hilarious story from my tra-la-laing.

I rounded out one extensive travel work week in Minneapolis. The lab I was facilitating finished up a bit early – mostly I am thinking this is because it was Friday and people in my industry or any industry for that matter hate working afternoons on a Friday – so I was able to get to the airport way early! Score!

I checked my itinerary through work and my flight was scheduled for 7:30PM. Checked my watch 5:45PM. Fabulous. Time to grab some dinner and drinks at the airport bar. I am well aware what I am about to divulge is completely my fault but it also speaks to the amount of air travel I do. I checked in…barely glanced at my ticket…just to get the gate number…and bee-lined to the nearest watering hole. About 7PM I wander over to my gate when everyone should be boarding.

Ghost town. Crickets. Minus the gate agent shaking her head at me. She says verbatim “Let me guess, honey, Jillian Cosentino 5B?” I glance at my ticket…she knows my seat number she is so psychic. Then another number grabs my attention…board time: 6PM. So I am about an hour late for my flight sitting mere gates away from the boarding action. That’s a win. So for those of you who havent done the math here yet…Minneapolis is an hour behind our eastern time zone. They are in fact central. My computer is eastern…cause I didn’t adjust. And I didn’t look at my ticket cause well I travel like a boss. Result: ONE MORE NIGHT IN MINNEAPOLIS.

Gate Lady (with a stern look): Can I please have your ticket, ma’am? We were calling your name over the loud-speaker for 10 minutes.”

Me: “Oh I am so sorry I thought my flight was at 7PM. Are there any more flights out tonight?”

Gate Lady: “No”

Me staring blankly for a moment

Gate Lady: let’s name her Verna…Verna…hands me a ticket “You are on the 8:50 tomorrow morning. Should I repeat that a few times to you?”

Me staring blankly…and slightly buzzed from my champagne.

Verna: “You know honey, there are lots of fun things to do in Minneapolis. Don’t be so glum. Just make sure you make the next one.” Walks away.

I took her advice and made the best out of the situation. Plopped myself back at the airport bar. Called everyone in my phonebook I could. Chatted with complete strangers. One of whom turned out to be a professional hockey player. Score if Andrew and I ever wanted to go to a game. Learned how the airport bar keep “shuts down” for the night. Then meandered back into the city via Uber to a random night out. Minneapolis rocks by the way.

Arrived early in the AM to a cancelled flight. “Technical Issues.” I arrived home eventually…

Morale of story…don’t be an idiot and look at your boarding pass.

So I am finally back in wonderous Ohio. I have attended an Indians game (finally!) #ROLLTRIBE!!!  Got an iPhone 5 so I can enter the 21st century and “ichat?” with friends??? Whatever I am totally new to this. I just want to be a part of a group chat and have it not go away. Does anyone want to group chat? My mom actually had the five before me. I may as well be my Dad and utilize the flip phone as the acceptable device at all stages of life. Next up…..the Jitter Bug.

Slider!!!! Found him!

Slider!!!! Found him!

I also enlisted some slave labor…aka MOM to help me feverishly finish up the house. This included a forray into painting kitchen cabinets with ENAMEL paint. Also the use of power tools. More specifically a Black and Decker Power Drill. I learned a little something about myself…I love power tools. I also paid for and assembled a five piece patio set ALL ON MY OWN. I think I told Andrew after I finished the project that I should now be considered “Army Strong.”

The before

The before

The after

The after

I also have back tracked about oh five years to senior year of college. Edna does not have AC. And get this (for my non Clevelander followers) Cleveland has been HOT. Ergo…so has Jillian. This chick is learning how to survive again without AC for the most part. Have a unit in my bedroom though. Don’t know about you  but I have to be frigid when I sleep. I crank that baby up and shut the door. Cool air in the mauve dungeon!!!! However you will hear no complaints from me. It’s patio and porch season and this girl is it’s number one fan.

So my incessant beahvior to finish my house admist a ridiculous work schedule is not without reason. I am trying to prepare for my housewarming party which will also double as…a welcome home party.

Yes you have correctly read that. I have been sitting on the news for some time and am finally completely excited to share with you. Ask anyone I am terrible at keeping secrets so this has been painfully hard not to share with my readers.

Andrew will be coming home!

There were some extremely amazing opportunities that were presented to him and have changed some circumstances..cause that is the Army. He is expected home some time in the nearer rather than later future! I finally asked him if it was okay for me to share and he gave me the thumbs up. Honestly I was trying to keep it to myself because you are never sure what decisions can happen, but I am just  too excited to keep it in.

So handsome

So handsome

I don’t know how to convey the feeling this brings out in me. I think about my good friend Megan who has been going on these gratitude walks to simply take a moment to appreciate her now and give thanks for the life she leads. And that is how I can best convey it. I am so grateful. I am thankful for his past, present, and continued service. I am thankful that he tells me I am beautiful every day even thousands of miles away. I am thankful that he was brought into my life. To be my other half, my better 3/4s, my friend, my confident and my heart. The moment he is back on American soil I know I will feel peace again. I will breathe a bit easier and my body will ACTUALLY relax.

I am also so grateful for my family and friends who have been my welcome distractions and gave me the nod and the confidence to just live my life. These past five months have been some of the most enriching of my life. I feel grounded but exponentially lifted. It is a wonderous thing to actually know who you are and be completely cool with it.

So with that raise your glass of champagne!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and toast to a safe return to that man of mine and a HAPPY 26TH BIRTHDAY to my girl who introduced me to the blogosphere and who is very dear to me….Megan Marley Fleiner.

Megs is in the middle!

Megs is in the middle!

I hope you are on a porch somewhere right now with friends. And feeling that warm sunshine on your face. It is almost summer my dears!!! Happy Memorial Day Weekend. Make sure you take a moment and hug a service member. This weekend was not established for you to enjoy a long break from work and eat hot dogs. But it is still okay if you do that!

Until next time…