Sunday, August 31, 2014

Friends with Babies [Weekend in Beaufort]

I haven't visited Beaufort this much since I lived there! Living in Florida is making visits "home" so much easier and more frequent! This past weekend, I went up for a very special friend's special day, and got to spend time with another very dear friend. I'm thankful that the friendships begun while in Beaufort haven't tapered off even though I haven't lived there in six years. Both of the ladies I got to spend time with have moved around as well and our lives don't look quite as they did way back when, but somehow, we still find ourselves picking up where we left off and enjoying time together, no matter how much time has passed.

Brooke has been my friend since we were eight years old. We planned our weddings when we were ten (I wanted pastel butterflies to be released at mine... a fact which she shared in her speech at my decidedly butterfly-free wedding eleven years later), expecting then that we would be each other's maid-of-honor. We were, and we got married the same summer, only ten weeks apart (her wedding, more pictures). Suffice it to say, we'd discussed marriage and babies for years and years. On my birthday this year, I got a little envelope in my birthday gift from her with a picture of a positive pregnancy test and a note to "Aunt Lindsay". Over the following months, Brooke kept me updated on her pregnancy, but I didn't get to see her in person until recently. At the end of August, there was a baby shower for her in Beaufort and I was able to drive up for the weekend to be there. 

It was incredibly crazy to feel baby Kauffman kicking around in there, and to see my friend of eighteen years with that mysterious pregnancy glow. 

We had dinner that night after the shower in downtown Beaufort (at Plums) and took our "year" picture there (previous year pictures here).

We finished out the evening by sitting on one of the swings, enjoying the summer breeze over the water and talking about life.

Jillian is my only friend who still lives in the Beaufort area. She lives in Savannah, which is about 45 minutes away, and is close enough to see whenever we're up there. I got together with Jillian and her sweet little daughter Graceanna downtown after church the next day. We walked around talking and laughing at Gracie's antics. Jillian and I have been friends for ten years now, and though we weren't friends as children, she's been a significant part of my life for a long time. We started off in writing class together my sophomore year of high school; I drove everyone there since I was the only one old enough (my two-door Civic was named "the bus" because of that), and that class launched some great friendships. She and I have been to China and Ukraine together, taught a junior high Sunday School class together, spent the entire summer before we were married hanging out, and were in each other's weddings. She's visited me in Spokane and in Cleveland, I've visited her in Virginia, she is planning to visit me in Tallahassee, and no matter where we've lived, she has been a great encouragement. I love that she lives close to Beaufort now and is easier to see on a regular basis. 

Gracie and Jillian in front of the house where Jillian had her wedding reception four and a half years ago.

With a baby asleep in the backseat, we hit the McDonalds drive-thru for some ice cream - I was happy to accommodate my pregnant friend's craving.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back in Cleveland!

Back to Cleveland so soon? It's been two months since we moved but feels like much longer. We've kept in decent contact with our friends in Ohio, but it felt like so much had happened and that it was a different time since we'd seen them. 
So we went back!
Actually, we returned for Lana and Mark's wedding, but it was certainly good to see our friends again, even though it hasn't been very long.
Carson was assigned the window seat on both our flights there, but he CLOSES the window, so I took over because the window seat is my favorite; I love looking out and trying to figure out where we are (never with much success). Here we are over Cleveland suburbs!

On Thursday, we stopped by my old store to say hello, had lunch, ran a couple of wedding-related errands, and then parted ways. Carson dropped me off at Claire's for a girl's night that turned into a sleepover with Claire. Meanwhile Carson hung out with his friends John, Chris and Evan. This is the only picture I took of girl's night, because I am an idiot. But doesn't Claire look thrilled to be getting things ready for a little party?

On Friday morning, Claire and I had a nail painting party with just the two of us. I used that bright color in the middle, "Splash of Grenadine", which I have since added to my Amazon wish list (hint).

After doing nothing, we decided to go to the mall and walk around because we are very cool. We met Carson there and had lunch before smelling everything in Bath and Body Works and spraying random perfumes in Sephora (I swear we aren't in middle school but I guess actions speak louder than words...).

After our exciting mall adventure, I got ready at Claire's house and she went to boxing class. Carson picked me up and we went to the rehearsal dinner, held at the Tudor Arms Hotel. I'd never been inside but it was just gorgeous! We practiced three times before we were declared adequate aisle-walkers and headed to Ohio City for dinner. Here's a great-quality selfie of Carson and I.

The rehearsal dinner venue was so neat! It was in the vault at Crop Bistro, right across from the West Side Market. We ate inside a real safe, complete with a (so I'm told; how would I know) 33ton door. Absolutely the neatest venue ever. We had to walk through the kitchen to get there, so that was fun too.

The first course was a tasty salad, which we enjoyed after a short word from the groom. The waitstaff then came around to take our dinner orders. There were three options for dinner: Beef, Chicken or Vegetarian. Carson had Korean BBQ Short Ribs (I didn't try because he said they were spicy) and I had the chicken. I'm not sure what it was called exactly, and I didn't see it on the menu when I googled it, but it was excellent. The sauce was lemony with capers in it and everything was amazing.

I can't remember what dessert was exactly, but I chose the chocolate and it was also excellent. The other option was a berry something.

We had a little photo shoot after dinner with the safe. Here I am with the bride!

Lana and her siblings.

Carson and I, and a photoshop from the groom. Thanks, Mark.

And of course the bride and groom.

The next morning, my friend Emily came over to Claire's and did my hair. I did my makeup quickly and headed to the hotel, where we had to meet at noon. The room we got ready in was called the "Juliette" room and looked over the ballroom where the reception was to be held. Things were already set up there when I arrived on Saturday and it was stunning.

We arrived early enough to take our time getting ready and munching on the lunch spread the hotel had set out for us. We bridesmaids got dressed so that we could get the main event started: getting that dress on Lana. I'd seen a picture of the dress beforehand, but it was much more amazing seeing it on her for real. What a perfect dress for Lana and such a neat dramatic dress. I can't wait to see how her photographer captured it.

This is unedited. I KNOW.

As pictures were being taken, our bouquets arrived, and Lana proved that not only can she pick the perfect dress, but also a great florist. This is probably the prettiest bouquet I've seen!

We hopped on the hotel shuttle to go take pictures, only to discover that the groomsmen were nowhere to be found. They had apparently been told to stay in the getting ready room (the "Romeo" room) and were listening to orders, instead of abiding by the schedule, so that made us 30 minutes late for pictures, which turned out fine because we were really close to our destination, Wade Oval.
While the groomsmen were getting photographed, we bridesmaids snapped pictures on our phones. There were four other wedding parties getting pictures taken down there, so we had fun observing them as well.

As they tend to do, the pictures took longer than planned, so we were rushing to get back to the hotel in time. I was surprised by how quickly we were able to tame flyaways, hairspray, powder, fluff and rest our feet (those shoes!). In fact we were ready and lined up early, and then I think the wedding started late, because we waited lined up in the hallway for a very long time.

We walked down, which Carson did photograph, but I didn't feel the need to add that many more pictures to this post.
Mark's daughter Claire was the flowergirl. She was so happy and so sweet and you could hear "awww" running through the guests.

When Lana appeared, everyone rose and people started to crane their necks to get a glimpse of the dress. And the dress is all we could hear everyone talking about. While their attention was on her, we bridesmaids noted how many comments on "That DRESS!" could be heard.

Fairy Tale shot.
Mr and Mrs!

The bridal party immediately retired to the balcony overlooking the ceremony room, where we immediately kicked off our shoes. I don't know what it is about standing up there, but it was murder on our feet. One bridesmaid actually had blue toes from the lack of circulation. Yikes. 
Trays of food circulated amongst the guests downstairs, while the same trays were set on tables upstairs for us to attack like we were eating our last meals. Any time the trays got low, they were refreshed, which no one complained about. Amazing. 
Meanwhile, Carson and company explored secret passageways and ended up on the roof of the Tudor Arms! He boasted great views of the city and an overall neat adventure. I personally enjoyed sitting and eating more.

We returned to the Juliette room to freshen up again, and to grab our purses and phones for the reception. Here's a picture the bride asked me to take, unaware that I have a camera on my phone that's sad at best.

There was a receiving line into the ballroom for the reception after pictures had finished. While we were waiting for that to finish and for the bridal party to be announced, we hung out in the reading room and one of the bridesmaids suggested a picture of Carson and I. Don't mind if we do.

We were announced with our spouses (the entire bridal party was married), and sat down after a prayer by Lana's dad to eat our salads. The bridal party sat at the head table;  husbands of bridesmaids sat together at a table nearby. I waved at Carson, but he was mostly in deep conversation.

Here was my view (the Juliette room where we were is through the two sets of mirrored doors to the far left. The Romeo room is the third from the left, with the door open).

The bride instagramming her dinner. So appropriate for Lana.

My dinner. Chicken again. It's just so gooooood.

Toasts were next, and this wedding had two of the best ones I've heard. Lana's twin sister gave a hilarious speech all about being identical twins that was also really sweet, and Mark's best man gave a great one as well.

They cut the cake next. I've never seen such a beautiful cake in a non-Pinterest environment and it was lovely. The camera doesn't capture that without a flash, but trust me. It was made by White Flower Cake Shop, and I believe the owner is a cousin to Lana. Not a bad connection. It was equally tasty.

Mark and Lana's first dance happened next.

Then the bridal party danced with significant others (just a slow dance; it it had been one of those choreographed ones it would have been much more stressful.). Dancing for everyone opened up next. Carson loves dancing,so here he is with all the ladies on the dance floor. I took this from a safe distance.

A picture with friends from Gateway. I'm so bummed this came out blurry and that the non-blurry one isn't perfect. But it will do. I LOVED seeing these ladies over the weekend.

Carson begged me to dance again, so I finally did. Danielle took this, and I'm glad she didn't get our feet because I kept stepping on Carson.

Next we took a Community Group picture with Mark and Lana. Bryce and Ben were also there, but had left early. I miss this group so much and love these pictures.

Next is the tale of trying to get a picture of Carson and Lindsay. There are about seven more, with different photobombers, etc.

As the party was winding down, one of the bridesmaids looked down and noticed that we all had changed shoes (actually, Lana never took the flip flops off - she ditched the heels before she put them on). So Carson obliged and took a picture of our post-wedding footwear.

I got a few moments to talk to Lana before heading out.

On Sunday morning, Malea picked me up and we had breakfast at the Original Pancake House in Chagrin. We both wanted bacon and eggs, but felt that we should have pancakes as well since we were at a pancake house so we got the same thing, and it was great. Neither of us had been to breakfast in Cleveland, so this was a first, and while not a bucket list item, it should have been!

We went to Gateway for church and while I knew I'd been missing it, being there made me miss it more! It was great to see people, great to worship together, and great to hear the gospel. So refreshing.

After church, we met up with Carrie and Abe and went to Little Italy for The Feast of the Assumption. Everyone just calls it The Feast, and I'm so glad it happened to be the weekend we were there! We moved to Cleveland on the weekend of the feast two years ago so we didn't even know about it then, and then I can't remember why we didn't make it last year, but finally we did and now we can cross it off our bucket list for Cleveland! All the restaurants in Little Italy have tents in front of their businesses where you can buy food. Carrie and I had homemade Cavatelli and Carson had a stromboli. I can't recall what Abe had, but it all looked delicious and smelled wonderful. All around us, people were walking and eating.  We sat in a park to enjoy our lunches, and got to catch up.

We couldn't resist dessert, so Carrie and I split cassata cake (if you have the chance, try it), and Carson and I shared a lemon ice. YUM.

After our Italian adventure, we returned to the Wilson's where we stayed (I didn't even see them until Sunday because I was gone so much) and spent a couple hours there before hitting the road again to return the rental car and catch our flight home. I wasn't ready to leave, but it was a great and very full weekend. So thankful that we got to go and be a part of Lana's wedding day, and that we got to hang out with great friends in the process. Miss you already, Cleveland!
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