last weekend i came home for a few days to celebrate with my dear friend kelly as she prepares to welcome two little gentlemen into this world. with all of my traveling and her struggles throughout her pregnancy, we have not had near enough time together. we sipped on lemonade, snacked on sweets and fawned over precious baby things. i am so happy that i got to spend an afternoon celebrating not only the wonderful person she is but the incredible mother she will be as well. 


i've been spending a lot of time in east tennessee lately. carter had a break inbetween jobs and is working out of the office, so we are enjoying time with family, catching up with friends, and eating our way through this town. yesterday, we experienced slightly warmer weather before the second poler vortex rolled in. we packed a picnic and set off to the smoky mountains national park. for years, this has been a special place to us. one of our favorite spots to visit is cade's cove. we put on our mountain playlist, rolled the windows down, turned the heat up and admired the scenery. we ended up parking at a big field near the middle of the loop. we grabbed a blanket and hiked until it was just us and the mountains. we laughed about how we've started doing little traditions that go back a few generations in his family and how we will one day bring our children here and do the same thing. as we are in the midst of planning our wedding, the thought of "this time, next year we will be husband and wife" just fills my heart with joy. there is so much for us to look forward to. not only this year but all of our lives.


 my favorite memories from a trip to the upper peninsula a few years ago. 

+ taking the ferry across the puget sound
+ driving through the sea of green
+ seeing crescent lake for the first time
+ hiking through the hoh national rainforest
+ visiting the indian reservation in la push
+ putting my toes in the pacific ocean at first beach


this afternoon i found myself alone for the first time in over two weeks. i sat down and responded to emails, finished editing photos from the holidays and read through all of the comments we received after the news of our engagement. my heart is so full after hearing from our friends and family all over the world. we've begun the planning process with countless lists being made and a possible venue picked out. while part of me wishes we could elope somewhere in the pacific northwest, the other part really wants our family and friends to celebrate this long awaited ceremony with us. i'm already enjoying the possibilities of finding the perfect dress, gathering a playlist of our favorite songs and planning a wedding that truly represents us. i've taken a few days to rest. let this all sink in. enjoy the calm and spend a few hours here and there gathering ideas from pinterest. there is so much to do in very little time. but all i know is, i can not wait to marry this man... 


a few photos from our afternoon hike overlooking the blue ridge mountains. these past two weeks have quite possibly been the busiest of my life. we celebrated not only our engagement but my 26th birthday, too. we also barely made it to midnight on new year's eve. we made a list of goals for the new year, like trying not to act like an old married couple on future new year's eves...  he flew back to missouri a few days ago to finish up some work while i stay home in nashville to begin planning our wedding!!! i can only pray that we enjoy this new season of our lives and take every day as it comes. 

the details of our story will forever remain sacred to us. but it's safe to say this was our best hike yet.