Weekend Retreat

A couple of our friends invited a group of us to join them camping for a weekend, and having never been before, I was excited to try it out! We settled on renting a small campsite at Black Rock Mountain State Park (which we later found out was where Killing Season was filmed), and I was pleasantly surprised. There was a small cabin with a refrigerator and wood-burning stove, which was wonderful for Saturday morning breakfast. (No indoor plumbing though, darn.) We all set up camp and spent the weekend hiking and hanging out around the fire. Check out a few photos from the weekend below!

campsite

The campsite included a few of these strange, open-air buildings with built-in bunk beds to sleep 8 people each, but we opted for the privacy and semi-security of our own tents. 

Home sweet home for the weekend! Complete with a "foyer" ;)

We drove up from our campsite to the visitor's center to start our hike on the trails, and enjoyed the view from the overlook before starting off.

jump

We started with a short trail down to see Ada-Hi Falls...

...and this is what we found. A rock wall with some trickling water, ha!

(Still as inseparable as always :))

I had the most handsome trail buddy!

It was quite a climb (especially with my bad back, thanks for being patient J!), but we made it to the summit :) We enjoyed another amazing view at the Tennessee Rock Overlook, too.

That night we cooked dinner and roasted marshmallows around the fire, and then moved the party to the cabin for an intense game of Battle of the Sexes (which is totally rigged in favor of the males, just saying).

Enzo was all fun-ed out by the end of the day.

We spent Sunday morning huddled around the fire before packing up to head out. 

We all tried to gather for a group picture (above are my favorite test shots from when I was setting up the camera! :)), but then my lens went rogue and this is what I got:

It's blurry, but I still love it. We will definitely be doing this again, you guys.

Our Proposal Story

It's been a couple months since Jason asked me to marry him, and now that the craziness of moving and a new job and initial wedding-planning has subsided a little, I thought I'd write down the story of how he asked. I've told it countless times to friends and family already, and I know it's something I'll never forget, but I want to make sure to get all the little details written down so I can come back and read it and be sappy anytime I want ;)


While Jason and I will both be living in Atlanta soon, we've spent the last couple years of our relationship dating long-distance. This past April, our four year anniversary was coming up, so J bought me a ticket to come up and spend the weekend with him in Pittsburgh. Since that was something we did every month or two, I didn't think anything suspicious of it. 

I'd complained to him a few weeks earlier that as the "photographer" in the relationship, I had a ton of photos of him but was never really in any of the pictures myself (I don't count our 2-person selfies). So, I purchased a small phone tripod and bluetooth remote, and asked if we could snap a few photos together throughout the weekend. He agreed.

He met me at the airport Friday afternoon with flowers (which he'd done a few times before, so nothing suspicious there either :), and told me we were going to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens to walk around and take some photos to kill time before our dinner reservation. We started our tour off with a snack (someone had missed lunch and was grumpy. ok, me.) and then made our way around the conservatory, talking and laughing and snapping photos as we went.

At this point, I have zero inclination that he's going to propose. I mean, we had gone to look at rings together a couple months before, so I knew it would probably be happening this year, but we were planning to have a big birthday/memorial day celebration with both of our families a couple months later, so I suspected he'd do it then. Boy was I wrong.

We walked into a particularly gorgeous room, full of tropical plants and a waterfall, and set up the tripod to take a couple more photos. After snapping a few, we walked over to look at them, and J said "I look silly, let's take one more." 

last moment

We walked over and posed for the photo, but then he pulled away. And, well, this happened:

proposal

I wish I could tell you what he said (something about making happy memories of the long distance I think?). But honestly, in that moment, everything went silent and all I could see was his face looking up at me with that adorable, hopeful smile. And of course I said yes.

put a ring on it
first moments
happy couple

I can't believe he got pictures of the whole thing! There were a few tears during the proposal, but a couple minutes later when we were sitting there (and I had finished saying "oh my god" six hundred times), it really sunk in and the waterworks started, ha! We sort of half-finished our tour, mostly hugging and taking photos together and stopping every so often to admire the ring and burst into tears again ;) On our way out, we stopped in the gift shop and bought a hand-blown glass ornament with the shape of a small bonsai tree inside to commemorate the day.

To end the night, Jason had made us dinner reservations at Altius, on the top of Mount Washington. We rode the incline up to the top and enjoyed the views, the food, and each other. It was absolutely the most perfect day. 

And there you have it! Jason couldn't have planned it any better; I felt so special and so loved. I will love him forever for capturing it all in photos. It's hard to believe this is just the beginning, and that I still have a whole wonderful life ahead of me with this guy. He's the best.

Happy birthday, Mom!

Today is my mom's 50th birthday! (Sorry for announcing that, mom.) To celebrate such a significant, amazing milestone and woman, I orchestrated a fun little surprise party last weekend, complete with friends and family from near and far. Thank you so much to every who came to celebrate with us; you are what made it so special! Here are a few photos:

My sister, Kayla, took mom out for a lunch date and day of shopping "for mom's birthday, just the two of them," while Kelsi, our extended family, and I drove into town and started setting up at home. Dad and Grandpa set up the new patio set (her present), and did the grocery shopping while the rest of us ran errands and got the cakes and picked up the catering and decorated the house--phew!

When they got to our street, Kayla pulled over and made mom put on a blindfold, telling her that dad had built her a present and set it up in the yard as a surprise. He led her to the back patio, where everyone was waiting (silently) in anticipation.

When she peeked out from under the blindfold and everyone yelled SURPRISE!, she immediately pulled it back down over her eyes! Ha!

Who knew Kayla could juggle? ;)

We're professionals. Just look at these forms:

Okay, so maybe Uncle Kevin is the only one who looks professional, ha! But we still had fun trying. 

Thank you, everyone, for a fun night!