wedding planning update

I can’t believe we’ve been engaged for almost 5 months! The time has flown by and we have made some really big, exciting decisions.

What we’ve checked off the list:
– Venue (beautiful garden in Monterey, CA)
– Photographer
– Videographer
– DJ / MC
– Wedding party and Officiant
– Wedding website
– Registry
– Save the Dates

What’s up next:
– Finalizing our caterer (this week!)
– Dress shopping (November)
– Booking our flowers
– Choosing wedding party outfits
– Booking hair stylist and makeup artist

So far, we have had a pretty easy time making decisions and getting things booked! We aim to make about one big decision each month which keeps it from getting stressful. 🙂 Our wedding is less than 9 months away now, and on one hand that feels like an eternity but on the other I know it will be here before we know it!

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i said yes!

Last weekend was the best of my life. Scott planned what he called a “Spoil Mal” weekend full of surprises, and man did it exceed my wildest expectations!

On Friday (May 11, 2018), after work, Scott took me to dinner at the Top of the Mark. It’s a restaurant at the top of the historic Mark Hopkins Hotel with amazing views of the city. We shared a few delicious small plates and listened to a live jazz band as the San Francisco city lights sparkled through the panoramic windows.

On Saturday, we went to brunch in Sausalito, and then on to Tiburon for a tandem electric bike ride! The weather was beautiful—sunny but breezy—and the battery on the bike made climbing hills much easier. We poked around some of the cute (but pricey) stores in Tiburon before returning back to San Francisco.

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I was going to a Taylor Swift concert that night, and was really wanting to get a fresh manicure beforehand. (THANK GOODNESS I did this and had nice looking nails for the next day!) Luckily, we got back to the city with plenty of time and I was able to get some fresh polish before my girlfriends (Kasey, Savannah, and Claire) came over! I drove us all down to Santa Clara to Levi’s Stadium, where the 49ers play, for the Taylor Swift show. We had such an amazing time and the production, props, and overall show quality was insane!

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After I got back to the city, Scott told me to be ready the next morning at 9 am to go to breakfast. He let me know that I could wear sporty clothes (phew). We ate breakfast at Bartlett Hall before walking around the corner to a spa for an hour-long couples’ massage! The massage was absolutely awesome and we both left feeling more relaxed than ever.

We went home and showered / changed / etc. and then Scotty took me to Alamo Square for a picnic. Alamo Square is actually the park (adjacent to the Painted Ladies of Full House fame) where we went for a walk the second night we ever hung out, back on February 19, 2016. So it’s a pretty special place to us! We’ve gone there for a picnic once before, which came to an abrupt end when I slipped and fell into a mud bog…so I was really hoping this one would go better.

We set up a picnic blanket in Alamo Square and Scott began to pull out the most lavish spread EVER. He had three kinds of cheese, multiple kinds of crackers, fruit, meats, etc. He had a package of Oreos and a candy bar. He had a Diet Coke for me and a bottle of champagne for us…it was crazy! Then, as his last act, he pulled out a box from Nothing Bundt Cakes (my favorite cake ever). I actually freaked. There isn’t even a Nothing Bundt Cakes in the city, and he’d Ubered down to a suburb the night before while I was at Taylor Swift to pick up this cake he’d ordered!

The next 10-15 minutes, Scott was basically trying to get me to open that cake box. (Of course, I didn’t realize that at the time!) He was making comments like, “What flavor do you think I got?” to which I responded, “Chocolate Chocolate Chip, it says so on that sticker!” And then a few minutes later, “You’re going to love the decorations I picked for this cake,” to which I said, “I bet! When Irin (my boss) got me a cake for National Recruiters Day, she got birthday decorations because they were the best she could do!” Honestly, Scott must have been so anxious that I just would not open the box! But finally, he said, “I say we open up one of these treats. Which do you want?” And he pointed to the Oreos, chocolate bar, and cake box. “The cake, duh!” I said. He told me to open it up. I did, and I saw, right in the middle of the bundt cake, a RING BOX!

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Re-enactment of how the ring box was placed inside!

I of course got the biggest grin on my face as Scotty picked up the ring box and shifted his weight onto one knee. “I think this is the part where you stand up,” he teased me. I stood up and he proceeded to say some of the sweetest, most heartfelt things I could ever dream of hearing. Finally, after asking me to marry him and me shouting YES, he opened the ring box and got the ring out. His hands were shaking as he put it on my own shaking hand. We celebrated, hugged, I cried, and it was perfect. Then, I finally got a good look at the ring—OMG! It was so perfect!

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At this time, Scott pointed out one of our friends, Ezra, standing nearby, being a sneaky ninja capturing candid photos of this whole event. I couldn’t believe it!

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We took a bunch of pictures, the entire park cheered and clapped for us (two random girls even ran over with cups of champagne) and we never, ever stopped smiling. A little while later, we packed up our picnic to go home and share the good news with our families! (Those were some fun phone calls to make! Telling our moms, Happy Mother’s Day—you’re getting a new kid!)

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That evening, Scott took me on a boat ride all around the San Francisco Bay. We drank wine, ate appetizers, took a bunch of pictures and just snuggled up and enjoyed the views and our newly engaged-ness. May 13, 2018 was the perfect day and the whole weekend was honestly perfect. I still kind of can’t believe it all happened!

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We’re hoping to get married Summer 2019 and we could not be more thrilled. I’m so lucky to have the love of a kind, thoughtful man who goes out of his was to plan such special surprises for me. I can’t wait to spend my whole life with him!

 

scott’s birthday in san diego

This past weekend, Scott turned 28 and I took him on a surprise getaway to San Diego to celebrate! He knew that we were going on a long weekend trip but he didn’t know where we were going, what we were doing, where we were staying, etc. It was so fun to pack the weekend full of surprises!

We left on Friday night after work and flew down to San Diego. We went to San Diego last year as well (for Memorial Day) and I knew I wanted us to see a different part of the city this time, even though we loved having Ocean Beach as our home base last time. So, we stayed at an Airbnb in South Park which turned out to be a lovely, walkable neighborhood not too far from anything we wanted to see or do!

IMG_1931On Saturday, we woke up and went to brunch at Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro. This spot was yummy but we agreed most of what we ordered was way too rich. After this, we had “Scotty’s Choice” time (time I built into the trip with options for him to choose from)…and we wound up doing a bit of shopping at the Westfield UTC and then scootering and eating in Bird Rock! The weather was amazing and we loved Bird Rock—riding motorized scooters around multimillion dollar waterfront mansions is not something you get to do every day! That night, we went to dinner at a delicious Italian spot called Piacere Mio. It was clear this place was a neighborhood favorite—it was full of locals who knew the staff by name (a good sign)!

IMG_1944On Sunday (Scott’s birthday), I surprised him with the Bluegrass Brunch at Urban Solace. Holy wow—so delicious! We split a cinnamon roll (complete with a candle to blow out and a birthday tune by yours truly) and enjoyed bluegrass tunes by a live band on the heated patio. Scotty got steak and eggs and I presented him with his birthday cards: one from his parents (with cash to cover the brunch!) and one from me, revealing that we’d be spending the day at the San Diego Zoo! To say he was excited is an understatement.

IMG_2046IMG_1988IMG_1963We had the best time seeing the zoo. We went last year, but many exhibits were under renovation, so it was great to see the space in its prime this time around! Again, we were blessed with great weather. Our favorite animals were the baboons, orangutans, gorillas, and pandas. (Though all the animals were amazing!) There was one orangutan named Karen that had me crying laughing because she was putting on a show for us, rolling around on the ground carrying on right in front of us.

That night, after a much-needed nap, we went to the South Park Brewing Company for dinner and some board games. I crushed Scott in Boggle! Then we headed back to the Airbnb for some ice cream and Netflix.

IMG_2076On Monday, our last day of the trip, we kicked things off with a visit to Nomad Donuts. We once again rode some motorized scooters (so nice we did it twice) and enjoyed Vanilla Bean donuts. From there, we headed to Coronado to check out the famous Hotel del Coronado and dip our toes in the water. We took a drive around the island and had a good laugh looking up home prices on Zillow. (Fun fact: the house of my dreams was more than $6 million!) We started to get hungry for lunch, so we headed to SEA180 for an amazing, waterfront bite. We had the heated patio to ourselves and it was so serene and honestly, a perfect end to our weekend. We soaked in that time before heading back toward San Diego (we were only .5 miles from the Mexico border…). Since our airline sent us a notification of a flight delay while we were on the way, we had time for a quick stop at the Ballast Point Brewing.

IMG_2122A flight of beers later, our time in San Diego had come to an end. We headed to the airport, returned our rental car, and flew back to the land of fog and $5 toast…aka San Francisco!

march in monterey

This past weekend, Scott and I took a little one night getaway to Monterey! We woke up early Saturday morning to hit the road and it was so worth it—we made it to Monterey before lunchtime and were able to spend the whole day and night exploring. We saw lots of gorgeous gardens and of course we ate and shopped on Cannery Row.IMG_9298One of the highlights was eating at The Fish Hopper. It is a waterfront (more like water-top…it’s literally on stilts over the water) restaurant right in the heart of Cannery Row and it was awesome! The food was delicious and the views from our table were spectacular. Even though it was a bit noisy for us, it was so special to have a fancy dinner together and watch the sunset over the Pacific right outside our window!IMG_4274IMG_6858Monterey is only about 2-ish hours from San Francisco, so the drive is really easy and doable. With that said, we knew we wanted to spend one night to really make the trip worth it. We stayed near the beach Saturday night and ate a delicious brunch Sunday morning at Wave Street Cafe. I’ve told Scott that we have to eat at this place every single time we come to Monterey in the future—it was that good! The french toast was the hit of the morning, though the eggs benedict was delicious too.IMG_5231We did a little more shopping and sightseeing on Sunday afternoon before heading back in the evening to San Francisco. It’s amazing how a little time away together out of the city makes us feel so renewed and upbeat! I’m already wondering when we can go back to beautiful Monterey…Scott and I agree June might be the perfect time, and I can’t wait!IMG_1459IMG_2908

tulips in golden gate park

IMG_1342One thing I didn’t realize until I moved to San Francisco is that sunshine is really important to me. I can’t believe I had to move to a city covered in grey clouds and fog (during June and July, no less) to realize this, but I guess I just took it for granted living in Florida and Tennessee. So, when sunshine strikes in San Francisco, I try to take advantage!

This weekend, Scott and I popped over to the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden in Golden Gate Park! We spent a lot of time indoors (seeing The Book of Mormon at the Orpheum and seeing Black Panther at our neighborhood movie theater) so the dose of Vitamin D was much needed.

The tulips were so vibrant and beautiful—I thought I’d share some photos here!IMG_1340

IMG_5070Golden Gate Park is one of those places that we always show to visitors when they’re in town. There is a main park entrance two blocks from my house! The park is full of so many different unique spots, including polo fields, an archery range, multiple gardens and windmills, several museums, a lake for canoeing, and several ponds. (Plus much more!) Golden Gate Park is actually larger than Central Park (fun fact) so naturally there’s always something to do.IMG_6616We are looking forward to many more Sundays to come in Golden Gate Park this spring!

thanksgiving in denver

Scott and I just returned from a wonderful Thanksgiving in Denver! It was bittersweet to be apart from my family in Atlanta, but it was special to spend the holiday with him for the first time and get to meet so many more of his family members and friends.

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Spending Thanksgiving Day together! 11/23/17

We flew from San Francisco to Denver extremely early on Wednesday morning (November 22), and much to my pleasant surprise, had no delays! We met up with Cindy (Scott’s brother’s mother-in-law) at the airport, and Eric and Dave picked the three of us up to head home.

The days that followed were full of lots of Rummikub, Bang, college football, and food! Lori and Dave hosted Thanksgiving at their house for a whopping 14 people—Scott + me, Lori + Dave, Kalley + Eric, Kalley’s mom Cindy, Cate + Justin, Erin + Cesar, Amy + Jim, and Scott’s BFF Jeff. (I’m exhausted just typing all that…I don’t know how Lori does it!)

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My favorite tree cutter!

On Black Friday, I got to participate in the 13-year-old Anderson tradition of going to a national forest to cut down a Christmas tree. Lori and Dave made a big pot of chili and bought permits for the whole group—there must have been 20 of us there to cut down trees and have lunch in Buffalo Creek! While I was hoping for some Colorado snowflakes this trip, it was actually in the 70s most of the time (warmer than San Francisco).

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Ready to cut down the Andersons’ tree! 11/24/17

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We didn’t stay this bundled up for long.

We did a little shopping on Saturday and I got to eat Chick-fil-A for the first time in 6 months. (I was more than a little bit excited.) We ate at an awesome restaurant on Saturday night called Hop Alley. It was so neat to have Scott’s whole family (and everyone’s partners) around the table. And Kalley’s mom joining us was a great addition—she is hilarious and a true extrovert after my own heart!

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The whole crew around the table at Hop Alley! 11/25/17

All in all, I feel so lucky to have a better half whose family is fun, easygoing, and kind to each other. They’re a joy to be around and I can’t wait to ring in the new year in Denver. But before that, we’re joining my family in Florida for Christmas!

my favorite year to date

One year ago today, Scott asked me to make our relationship official. We had spent more than six months getting to know each other—slowly at first, through text messages and Snapchats. The casual conversations soon turned to sporadic phone calls, and those soon turned much more routine. Eventually, we were talking every day. We would FaceTime, text, talk on the phone…whatever we could make work with a two-hour time difference and 2,300 miles between us. When the time finally came that Scott visited me in Nashville, it felt like we’d known each other forever!

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Though I didn’t know it at the time, all of those months building a friendship (following a serendipitous weekend spent hanging out in SF when we first met on my vacation) were laying a foundation for a love that I’d come to give thanks for every day.

Scott encourages me to be vulnerable. I share my biggest insecurities, fears, hopes, and dreams with him, and he meets me with empathy and understanding.

Scott makes me more vibrant. I feel empowered to be my truest, most bubbly self in his company. He laughs at my jokes and makes me laugh even harder at his.

Scott makes the sun’s rays shine brighter. He lightens up my darkest days and makes my sunny days even sunnier. He reminds me to practice gratitude and never stop seeking out adventures.

Scott brings joy to my life. He is always willing to drive to that nearby town, kiss in that photo booth, or sing that karaoke song. I savor my weekends with him.

Scott makes me a better person—I want to love harder and give more generously. He continually serves me in a way I never imagined anyone would, and he inspires me to do the same.

The magic I’ve found in falling in love has made the last year the best one of my life.

I usually pride myself on being good with words, but when I try to convey to Scott just how meaningful he is to me and how much I love him, I always come up short. My words just don’t seem to carry the weight that my heart feels for this man. However, I’m hoping to spend a really long time trying to find the words that will do him justice.

My Scotty—happy anniversary. I love you past the moon!

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gator gals (plus a seminole) in napa

I had my first Napa experience this past weekend, and it did not disappoint! My friend Jordan (from UF) and her sister Riley came out for a visit. They were staying with our friend Christina, who lives in Berkeley (just across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco). Another Gator, Natalie, came up from San Jose, and we all spent a fabulous day in Napa!

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We started the day at Darioush, which was basically a Persian castle. We explored the grounds and the tasting room but sadly didn’t make the cut for a walk-in tasting. No problem—we went on our merry way to Silver Oak!

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Silver Oak only makes Cabernet Sauvignon, so our flight of three was a whole lot of that. But they were delicious, and we enjoyed strolling around the vineyard (as you can see above)!

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By this point, it was lunchtime and we were HUNGRY! We headed to V. Sattui for a picnic lunch and bottle of rosé. A note to those visiting Napa—V. Sattui (on a weekend day) is CROWDED. They have a marketplace where you can buy fresh cheese, bread, deli meat, etc. as well as their wines—but being inside that marketplace made me feel like a toddler in the middle of Magic Kingdom. In June. Separated from my mom.

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Once we got out of the market, we were able to take advantage of the huge V. Sattui property and find some benches and a table to feast on our purchases. The grounds were honestly so gorgeous—full of vine-clad walls, fountains, and rose bushes!

Once we were stuffed full of charcuterie, we headed to Napa Valley Olive Oil for a tasting. This place was unlike the rest of Napa in that it was small, cluttered, and not immaculately kept. There was none of the flashy marble and elaborate gardens from the surrounding wineries to be found. But I liked it because of this—we were treated like family and we loved this little hole in the wall!

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Our last stop was at the Grgich Hills Estate. I was too full of wine, cheese, and chocolate to continue, so just Christina and Jordan did one final tasting here while Riley, Natalie and I read all about the winery’s history and sat in the garden outside. (We were tired!) Turns out, Mike Grgich is the oldest winemaker in Napa, at age 94!

After Grgich Hills, it was time to head back to Berkeley. I had to catch BART back to San Francisco, so I could meet Scott and friends for a concert! (It was a really ambitious and long—but fun!—day.)

Now that I’ve been to both Sonoma and Napa, I have to say—I think I’m team Sonoma. I tasted great wines in both areas, and Sonoma’s price tags were a lot more 25-year-old friendly. They also had a slightly more approachable, laid-back spirit whereas Napa felt pretty high end. Don’t get me wrong, Napa is beautiful and I’ll be back, but I just felt slightly more at home in Sonoma!

summer of love

I’ve been in San Francisco for nearly three weeks already! I started my job as a Recruiting Coordinator for a tech company on June 26 and the first two weeks have gone great. I even added my Florida Gators to the company alma mater wall already!

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For this first month and a half, I’ve been subleasing right near Haight – Ashbury. It’s been a blast to live close to good restaurants, supermarkets, and parks.

But, I needed to find something more long-term, and I finalized an apartment this week! I’ll be moving in with two girls in the Outer Richmond, super close to the beach and Golden Gate Park. It’s going to be quite a hike downtown for my commute, but luckily I will be super close to public transportation (and being just 8 blocks from Scott’s house will be really nice and convenient).

Speaking of Scott, we have loved our newfound ability to spend time together (instead of just FaceTiming) and we have already done some super fun things.

We’ve visited restaurants like Sakesan, Brenda’s, Barrel Head, and Sunset Reservoir. I also had the best cinnamon toast of my life at Trouble Coffee Company, an amazing milkshake at Calibur, and insanely delicious pastries at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.

A couple weekends ago, we went up to Sebastopol (in Sonoma County) with two of our friends, Eric and Kasey. They’re wine club members at Moondance Cellars and we had a great time visiting the winery with them. It was a gorgeous property and they even had horses!

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For the 4th of July, we drove down to Capitola (a cute little beach town in the Santa Cruz area). We left gray and dreary San Francisco only to arrive to gray and dreary Capitola—bummer! But luckily an hour or so later (after some shopping and walking around town), it was in the 70’s and brilliant sunshine. It was so hot, in fact, that I had to go buy a tank top because my light sweater was no longer comfortable!

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Capitola was super cute and family friendly. It reminded me a lot of the beaches along 30A back home. Scott and I will definitely be visiting this spot again in the future!

Looking forward, we’re visiting a restaurant this weekend (State Bird Provisions) that we’ve been wanting to try for a long time. We’re visiting Scott’s family in Denver the first week of August (and we’re seeing The Head and the Heart at Red Rocks). We also hope to venture north to a swimming hole, and go see Wonder Woman. (We saw The Big Sick last weekend and loved it!)

All in all I am loving San Francisco so far. I am still getting used to the weather and public transportation, but aside from that—California is being good to me!

i left my heart in san francisco

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The cat’s out of the bag—I’m moving to San Francisco in just a few weeks! Considering the fact that I visited the Golden State 7 times in the last 18 months, it’s probably no surprise that I’m making the leap.

There are so many exciting things about this move.

  1. It’s San Francisco.
  2. I’ll finally get to live in the same place as Scott.
  3. I’ll get to start a new job with new challenges and coworkers and projects.
  4. I’ll get to explore a part of the country I didn’t get to in my first 25 years living in the South.
  5. I’m going to get really, really good at dressing in layers.
  6. I’m going to eat so much good Chinese food. (And all kinds of food.)
  7. I’m fulfilling my goal for my 20s of living in different kinds of places and experiencing adventure!

I’ll be totally honest and say that there are a few scary parts about this move, too.

  1. I’m leaving behind a lot of wonderful friends and coworkers in Nashville.
  2. I’m moving ~2,500 miles from my family.
  3. I don’t have a job lined up yet, and it’s scary to leave behind a job without having a new one secured.
  4. The cost of living in San Francisco is high. You don’t have to tell me this—I’m aware!

Ultimately, I’m just so pumped to start this new chapter. Scott and I have been doing the long distance thing for about a year now, and while I love FaceTiming him at the end of each day, I’d much rather see his face in person! While eating Chinese food, wearing layers, and living in San Francisco.

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PS – I’m applying and interviewing for jobs now—if you work at a great company with an SF location, please give me a shout! Also, if you ever find yourself in the Bay area, you now have one more friend to call.