Friday, April 29, 2011

A Modern Day Fairytale

Oh, the wedding of Wills and Kate Catherine. Where to begin?

I woke up just a little bit before 5am, just in time to see Kate's ride with her father and sister/maid of honor, Pippa, from her hotel to Westminster Abbey. I immediately thought she looked so calm and collected, and it was easy to see that she was just enjoying the moment. She wasn't fussing with her hair or her veil. She was just waving and smiling like the poised princess she always has been (it's just a little more official now).

Like the rest of the world, I held my breath as Kate stepped out of the car. Oh, the dress. What can I even say? Stunning, elegant, timeless, naturally gorgeous all come to mind. She looked so modest and appropriate, but showed off her amazing figure in the best way possible. She looked like she could have stepped out of a magazine from decades ago, but it's clear that her dress will still be beautiful 50 years from now.

I love that Kate did her own makeup (I mean, really?!) and that she kept her hair down and somewhat natural. It's been said that she just wanted to be the girl that Wills fell in love with and knows so well, and I think that's just what she did.

Her entrance and (very long) walk down the aisle with her father was so sweet. She just looked so happy to be walking towards her prince charming. Sorry, I couldn't resist. :]

The little whispers in the ceremony were priceless. It's unclear what Harry whispered to Wills as Kate was walking towards him, but a lip-reading expert believes it was something along the lines of "just wait until you see her." As cute as that is, William telling Kate just how beautiful she looked when she finally reached his side just made me melt. He then leaned over to Kate's father and joked that they "were just supposed to have a small family affair."

It's obvious how comfortable the pair are with each other, although their feelings were obviously stifled during the very traditional and God-heavy ceremony. While I wish there had been a few more shots of the couple and their family members during the ceremony coverage, I understand that the cameras tried to be respectful of private moments.

I love that the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose to omit the word "obey" from their vows, replacing it with "keep." It's just one of the many examples as to why they are a new kind of royal couple. The betrayal of one marriage tradition didn't sit well with me, however. I don't like the fact that William has opted not to wear a wedding band. Yes, everyone knows he is married, but I think it's odd, and somewhat sad, that he is refusing to wear this outward symbol of his marriage. I've heard several reasons behind his decision: he wants to be thought of as married to his country, he says he's "just not a jewelry guy," and that there is already some sort of "royal ring" he is supposed to inherit and he feels that both rings will be too much. He's the future King of England, and he can do what he wants, but I would be hurt if I was Kate.

Princess Diana's funeral was the last large event to be held in Westminster Abbey, yet she wasn't really on my mind as I watched the ceremony. It wasn't until Kate and William and their families left to sign their marriage certificate that I realized Diana wasn't there. How sad for William to not have his beloved mother there on the most important day of his life.

The sadness was quickly pushed aside as Kate and Wills reemerged at the alter (I personally hope they stole a kiss...or 5...while they were back there) before making their way out of the abbey as husband and wife. The crowd roared when they got a fist glimpse of the new couple and watched them get into their carriage for their procession through the city to Buckingham Palace.

Once settled into the carriage, Kate very clearly whispered "I'm so happy" to William. Talk about a modern day fairytale. Sigh.

And those two kisses they dared to share on the balcony at Buckingham Palace? So sweet! Their first kiss was just a quick peck and far too short. Their second kiss-a total surprise-was just a little longer, but obviously more loving and heartfelt.

I think my favorite thing about the wedding is just that Kate and William are so...normal. They met in college, went through the trials and tribulations of young love, lived together as "roommates" prior to graduation (isn't that weird to think about?), and have lived together in a small town with NO servants or hired help for the past few years. They are a very modern, real, normal couple, and they know that they are perfect for each other, as they have been together for 9 years. They are returning to a small town in Wales to live, while William will continue to fly for the British military forces. No fuss for these two, and I love it.

A few other things about the wedding heard round the world:
  • Holy moly Pippa's dress- talk about GORGEOUS and dang, does that girl have a body on her!
  • William should have kept the hat on. Homeboy is B-A-L-D.
  • I'm still not a fan of Camilla, and I don't think I ever will be. She's just...blegh.
  • Kate invited her hometown butcher, pub tender, and boutique owner to the wedding, proving even more just how down-to-earth she is.
  • I was struck by how poised and natural Kate seemed in the situation. It's as if she was born to do this.
  • There needed to be a few more shots of Harry. He's just soooooooo hot. (Also, Chelsy Davy was at the wedding. Does that mean Harry's off the market again?)
  • We should totally adopt the fabulous hat trend. Just saying.
  • It's rumored that padding was put into the hip area of Kate's dress to make her waist look even smaller than it already is. Mission accomplished: she looked tiny.
  • Could Posh crack a smile? I mean, she's pregnant, at the wedding of the decade, and on David Beckham's arm.
  • "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire."-St. Catherine of Siena

Thursday, April 28, 2011

España, Part 3

España, Part 1
España, Part 2

We spent most of Tuesday in the city of Màlaga, which is about half an hour from where we were staying in Estepona. Màlaga is one of the larger cities in the Andalucia region of Spain, so I was excited to get to experience a typical Spanish urban scene.

We walked around the downtown area for a while, just wandering in and out of stores and taking in the sights. I seriously think I could have shopped all day there. The shopping was amazing! This region is known for its leather goods, so we searched through every leather store we found looking for the perfect find, but nothing was quite right (and everything was really expensive).

Màlaga is the perfect combination of old and new. We walked through modern streets bustling with people and would then turn a corner to find a beautiful, old cathedral. I enjoyed seeing the contrast. It really shows just how much the city and the culture have progressed over hundreds of years.

It started to downpour while we were walking around, so we ducked into a local cafe to wait out the rain. It was only about 11am, but the cafe was packed with locals of all ages, and everyone was smoking and drinking! I know that drinking and smoking in Europe are much more wide-spread and acceptable activities than they are in the U.S., but it was still surprising to so many people enjoying a beer before lunch. We decided to play it a little safer and ordered some delicious ham and cheese tapas, bread, and coffee. I usually can't drink black coffee because it's too strong for me, but this was delicious! I think it was seriously the best coffee I've ever had in my life.

After the rain stopped, we headed over to the Museo Picasso de Màlaga. Pablo Picasso was born in Màlaga, so his memory is very honored and prominent throughout the city. Now, I know next-to-nothing about art, so I wasn't jumping up and down to go to the museum, but when in Spain, do as the Spaniards do, and I'm so glad I did. Seeing the work of such a famous artist in his hometown was such a valuable cultural experience. I even found a few of his topsy-turvy paintings to be quite beautiful.

After we left the museum, we wandered around the city and just took it all in. My family never misses a meal, so we decided to stop in at a local tapas restaurant. Màlaga is famous for their ham and cheese tapas dishes, so that's exactly what we got! We also tried a few bread and fish plates. Lunch was an interesting experience and, by-far, the largest language barrier we faced throughout our entire trip. Though my Spanish skills are limited, I understand and know enough to communicate in a very simple, caveman-like way. My Spanish got me nowhere at the restaurant, but we managed to come up with a nice little game of charades that allowed us to communicate with our waiter and vice-versa.

After lunch, we crossed the street and entered the Alcazaba Teatro Romano. The Alcazaba is an ancient Roman amphitheater, and it is amazing. It was so interesting to see this beautiful ancient structure right smack-dab in the middle of modern, and expanding, Màlaga. Besides the amphitheater, the Alcazaba is a group of old palaces. We toured the grounds and got to see some incredible views!

We spent the rest of the day walking around in downtown Màlaga, and then went back to our hotel and called it a night.

Next stop: Gibraltar

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Just to be clear

I am a big fan of this little wedding coming up in just a few short days. You know which one I'm talking about. The wedding of Wills and Kate, obviously.

In fact, I'm so excited that I have been glued to TLC all week watching (and rewatching) the shows about the royal family, speculation about what the big day will be like, and, of course, the amazing wedding of Charles and Diana almost 30 years ago.

I love the hype surrounding this wedding. I mean, what's not to love? The royal family, although they've had their ups and downs over the past few decades, is just fabulous and they remind me of a completely different time period. As a modern American, a royal family just seems so far out of grasp. Plus, it's obvious how in love William and Kate are. They've been together for years, live together, and it's totally apparent that they are a team, rather than her taking a back seat to the future king of England.

Plus, what's more like a fairytale than a beautiful "commoner" marrying her prince and becoming a princess? Sigh.

I know that everyone isn't a fan of all the hoopla, and I'm sure our founding fathers are rolling over in their graves knowing that so many Americans are going gaga over a British event, but I don't care. I'm excited.

And I'm pretty sure I'll be waking up at 4am on Friday to catch the live coverage.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

On Repeat

"Turning Tables"-Adele

"For the First Time"-The Script

"Marry You"-Bruno Mars

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

21 was lots of fun!

Okay, so that rhyme was lame, but my 21st birthday was anything but.

Let me preface this by saying that I'm a big fan of birthdays. I love going all out for the birthdays of the people I love, and, honestly, I expect the same in return. I like the idea of a birthday week, rather than a birthday day. With 21 being a very important birthday, I had big plans for my birthday celebration!

My friend Chelsea kicked off my birthday by taking me out at midnight. It was my first time going out in Denton, and we had a lot of fun! I couldn't believe I was finally allowed to order a drink!

Unfortunately, I had a few tests on my birthday, but I went out to dinner that night with Chelsea at Outback, where my best friend Travis works. We just sat and had yummy drinks while we talked and enjoyed each other's company! Chelsea and I took full advantage of my 21-ness and went out again in Denton that night.

I worked the next day, but my bosses surprised me around 4pm by taking me out for margaritas! Then I headed home to Carrollton to meet my mom, stepdad, brother, and sister for my birthday dinner at Macaroni Grill. Dinner was so yummy, and I got this beautiful Fossil watch! After dinner, we headed home for cake and more presents!

I went out to dinner with my dad, stepmom, and brother to celebrate my birthday the next night. We went to Roy's, one of our favorite restaurants, and I had a delicious Hawaiian martini. It was a great compliment to my Hawaiian-inspired birthday dessert!

I spent the rest of the weekend just hanging out, worked Monday and Tuesday, met my friends Emily and Alex for drinks, and hit the road with some friends early Wednesday morning for Columbia, Missouri. It was our Spring Break, so it was the perfect opportunity for me to celebrate my birthday with all of my friends in CoMo. After 10 hours on the road, we finally made it to the Mizzou campus and headed straight for the Phi Mu house. We were welcomed by big hugs and screams, and I was SO happy to see my beautiful sisters! We spent some time hanging out with them before we headed over to the rec center to pick Tom up from work before going to dinner.

As many times as we have done this, I always get so nervous before I see Tom for the first time after we've been apart for a while. As always, jumping into his arms was the best feeling ever. I don't think it will ever get old. After we picked Tom up, we made our way to HuHot, and Jill, Sherbs, Whitney, Josh, Tom, and I had a great dinner together. I love that my friends and I can always just pick up where we left off. It's like we never spent any time apart.

After dinner, I was greeted at Tom's house with a beautiful bouquet of pink roses. :]

We spent most of the next day on campus and in downtown Columbia. We hung out at the sorority house, checked out the awesome new student center, and got some ice cream at Sparky's. Even after visiting campus a few times since I've transferred, being on campus and among students is still a little odd to me. It's like I know I used to belong, but I don't quite belong there anymore. Regardless, it's still one of my favorite places in the world.

Tom surprised me that night by taking me on my birthday date! I had no idea what he had planned, but I was so excited. He's been a pretty sneaky planner over the past few months. We got ready, had a yummy dinner at a Mexican restaurant, and were on our way to our mystery activity. I had no idea what we were doing when we pulled up to a campus building that I had never been to. We walked inside, and I realized that he was taking me to see a play! It was a really simple gesture, but it was so thoughtful and I loved it! I love doing things together to celebrate special occasions, so this was totally right up my alley. The play was "Proof," which is based on a best-selling novel about a mathematician that suspects she's crazy, but is actually a genius. It was a really good show, and the entire night was very special.

After lunch with friends at Noodles & Co. on Friday, I went to class with Tom. The class was Mindful Writing and it's all about meditation and being mindful about the writing process. It was really interesting! Then, we ran some errands before heading home to get ready for my birthday celebration with my pledge daughter and best friend, Whitney. In true sorority fashion, we headed to The Heidelberg to attempt to take 21 birthday shots each. I was so excited to get my shot book, paddle, and celebrate with all of my friends! I have to say that I didn't make it all the way to 21 shots, but it was such a fun night and the perfect 21st birthday celebration!

I finally got to sleep in a little bit the next day before going to lunch with some of my favorite people. I just love catching up with my girls! I miss them so much! After lunch, I attempted to take a nap before getting ready for the Engineer Ball that night. I went over to Anna and Lindsay's to get ready and enjoyed catching up with them. Then, Tom picked me up and we went back to his house to finish getting ready for the big night. The Engineer Ball is the finale event of Mizzou's annual E-Week. The ball celebrates St. Patrick's Day, so everything is green and shamrock-clad, and "St. Patrick" even makes an appearance. This was my second time at the Engineer Ball and it was so fun to celebrate Tom's senior year. I was definitely with the best (and most handsome) engineer at the ball!

Whitney, Josh, Kelsey, and I hit the road early Sunday morning to come home. As always, I had a really hard time saying goodbye to Tom. I hate saying goodbye, and it never gets easier. Luckily, we will be seeing each other in just a little over a month!

Obviously, this visit to CoMo was crazy! It was definitely more hectic than my visits usually are, but it was the perfect way to celebrate my 21st birthday, and I feel so lucky that I have so many people that wanted to celebrate with me and make it special. As of right now, I'm convinced that 21 was the last exciting birthday and that it's all downhill from here, but I'm sure that I'll change my mind when my birthday week rolls around next year.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

So official

It's official. I'm a full-fledged writer for USA Today College. I even have my own writer profile and everything. Check it out!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

España, Part 2

España, Part 1

Monday, December 27, was the first day of our trip. It was also my brother's 17th birthday!

We woke up early, had some breakfast, and hit the road for Granada, which is about an hour away from our hotel in Estepona.

Granada is the biggest city in the Andalucia region of Spain, so I was very excited to go. Once we drove through the winding streets, figured out where to park and how to pay for it, we got in the incredibly long line to get into Granada's most popular tourist attraction: La Alhambra.

La Alhambra is a group of beautiful Muslim and Moorish palaces that were built primarily between 1300 and 1500. The grounds are kind of like an arboretum, so there are flowers and orange trees everywhere and everything is blooming and very well taken care of. There are also little cafes and gift shops scattered throughout, which are great places for the multitude of stray cats to weave in and out of.

We walked around for several hours and just wandered through the palaces. They were stunning! Every detail was so ornate and elegant and just beautiful. I can't imagine how long it took to build and decorate each of these magnificent buildings. The views weren't too shabby either. :]
My dad and I in the rotunda: Photobucket
I managed to spot a few quatrefoils!: Photobucket
My favorite picture from La Alhambra: PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket
Looking out at gorgeous Granada: Photobucket

Once we finished at La Alhambra, we went across the street to a tiny neighborhood cafe for lunch. We didn't recognize much on the menu, so my limited Spanish allowed me to tell our waitress that we each wanted the daily special and a Coke. The meal was delicious! My dad got a huge plate of spaghetti as an appetizer, and we each had the main course of fish with a onion, tomato, and caper sauce with rice and vegetables. I enjoyed being in a place that was obviously authentic and a regular spot for the people who live in Granada. I can't think of a better way to experience a culture than to do what the locals do.

Once we were finished with lunch, we headed back to Estepona, where we walked around the downtown area. The town is so cute! It was incredibly busy and still decorated for Christmas, so I enjoyed walking in and out of the shops and picking out places we wanted to go when we came back to town.

Once we were back at the hotel, we stopped in at the restaurant for yummy desserts and drinks to celebrate my brother's birthday!

Next stop: Màlaga
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