November 18, 2014

My Special Talent: Writing Thank You Notes

Filed under: Personal — Emily Reeves @ 12:01 pm
Stationery from Minted.

Stationery from Minted.

I’ve been told I write a good thank you note. I take pride in the thank you notes that I write. I make them personal and heartfelt. I try to write them in the three days following a the event that deserves a thank you (I don’t always make that deadline, but I try).  I think my secret is that I don’t write a thank you note just to check it off my to-do list and seem polite. I write thank you notes to show appreciation for that person in my life.

Here are my tips for writing a great thank you note:

  • Nice stationery. It doesn’t have to be customized for you, but it should not be on notebook paper. Find something that is meant to be used a mailable note card.
  • Good pen. It could be a fountain pen or a gel ink pen or even a fine tip Sharpie. But avoid pencil, ball points and fat markers.
  • A writing space. Sitting down at a table or desk gives your writing purpose and makes it seem more formal in tone (it is a psychological thing).
  • Readable handwriting. Handwriting is the important thing here. Please don’t type your thank you notes. If you have bad handwriting, simply slow down as you write to help make it more legible.
  • Personal touch. Share a piece of your life and/or acknowledge a piece of his or her life. Go beyond the “thank you for the gift” and show appreciation for the person.

My other special talent: folding my tongue into three parts.

Taken at the Made by Few conference in 2013.

Taken at the Made by Few conference in 2013.

November 17, 2014

“Life Is Short. Enjoy The Butter.”

Filed under: Personal,Personal Branding — Emily Reeves @ 11:23 am
My Waffle House waffle at breakfast on Sunday.

My Waffle House waffle at breakfast on Sunday.

Consider it trademarked, I am adding it to my life mottos (currently consisting of only “Always Be Prepared”): “Life is short. Enjoy the butter.”

I love butter. When I was growing up, my parents used to ask me if I wanted bread with my butter since I considered the bread just a vehicle for the butter. As an adult, I know that I shouldn’t slather my food with delicious, real, creamy butter. But I do it anyway. Because I love butter.

There are many unhealthy and fatty foods that I have cut from my diet, and there are many things I can cut from my diet and be okay with (I just haven’t yet, because wine and cheese dip are awesome). But I will never give up butter. I have had a lot of happiness and sadness in my life. I don’t live in fear of death, but I recognize death can happen at any moment, having lost both my mom and my brother. Life can be short. We shouldn’t waste days arguing, being mad, worried about the small stuff or missing butter.

November 16, 2014

Wedding Vows

Filed under: Married Life,Personal — Emily Reeves @ 12:16 pm

The wedding reception was fun, but the ceremony was the most special part. It will be one of the memories I hold dear in my heart forever.

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Matthew and I decided to write our own wedding vows. The hard part wasn’t the writing of the vows. We knew exactly how we felt about each other and we were each able to articulate those feelings. The hard part was saying them, in front of an audience while crying because we were so emotional. But that made the moment just that much more special.

With this marriage, I became a mother: Matthew has a seven-year old daughter. Throughout our engagement, I came to understand that it was not just Matthew and me getting married; Sophie and I were getting married, too. So we made Sophie an integral part of the ceremony, made vows to her and even gave a tiny version of my engagement ring. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room by the time we said “I do.”

My Vows to Matthew

Matthew, you have been my best friend, playmate, sounding board, cheerleader and confidant. But most importantly, you are the love of my life and you make me happier than I could ever imagine. And most the people here can attest to that.

You know me better than anyone else in this world and somehow still you manage to love me. I feel so lucky to be standing with you here right now.

Matthew, today and always I take you to be my best friend, my faithful partner, and my one true love.

I promise to be your partner in parenthood,
Your comrade in adventure,
Your student and your teacher,
Your accomplice in mischief,
And forever member in our own two-person book club.

I promise to be supportive and to always make our family’s love and happiness my priority. I will dream with you, celebrate with you and walk beside you through whatever our lives may bring. Even if that means the three of us sharing one bathroom.

I see these vows as privileges: I get to laugh with you and cry with you; care for you and share with you. I get to run with you and walk with you; build with you and live with you.

In sickness and in health: I promise to take care of you, even when you’ve over indulged the night before. For richer or for poorer: I promise not to spend all our money on shoes. For better or worse: I promise to always find your “lost” wallet, keys, sunglasses, shoes…

I promise to love and to cherish, from this day forward until death do us part.

My Vows to Sophie

To Sophie, I want you to know that I dearly love your father. As you have so graciously shared this wonderful man with me, so will I share the love I feel for him with you. Together, we will learn much more about each other.

I promise also to be fair and to be honest, to be available for you as I am for your dad, and to earn your love, respect and true friendship. I will not attempt to replace anyone, but to make a place in your hearts that is for me alone. I will be mother and friend, and I will cherish my life with both of you. On this day when I marry your dad, I marry you, and I promise to love and support you as my own. And I promise to indulge your sweet-tooth as often as I indulge mine.

Photo by: Whitney Bower

Photo by: Whitney Bower

 

November 15, 2014

Wedding Reflections

Filed under: Married Life,Personal — Emily Reeves @ 12:08 pm
Photo by: Whitney Bower

Photo by: Whitney Bower

It has been six weeks since our wedding. I have had time to relax, reflect and review all the photos. Through my eyes, every detail was perfect. I know that not everything was truly perfect, but I did not notice.

What I Wish I Had Done

  • Started planning earlier. I thought the wedding would be simple. I didn’t want a lot of pomp and circumstance; I wanted a casual and fun atmosphere. I achieved the atmosphere, but it turns out that no wedding is simple. I wish I had accepted this as fact earlier and started working on the details sooner.
  • Taken the vendor recommendations. The people I hired are the best at what they do. I loved them all and would hire them again in a second. For the most part, I took their advice for the way things should be executed. My photographer said a sparkler departure makes for great pictures; we did that and she was right! The floral designer thought of all the things that I would have never thought: boutonnieres, a small bouquet for Matthew’s daughter, backdrops for the ceremony and a beautiful petal runner to walk and stand on for the ceremony. One recommendation I didn’t take was from the restaurant. They recommended waitstaff-passed food on small trays. Instead, I wanted the food on buffet tables. The food was hand-prepared and delightful, but the buffet tables were pretty much noticeably empty throughout the entire reception. They knew what would be best for their chef and their venue. I should have listened.
  • Put a tiny bit of structure into the day-of plans. I wanted the day to be relaxing and free-form. And it was both of those things. But it seemed that I had nothing to do and everyone else was busy doing their own thing. So the day started out a bit lonely. Activity and visitors picked up in the afternoon and I had a great time with out-of-town friends who hung out in pajamas with me all day. But specific events — in-room manicure/pedicure, organized snacks and beverages, formal invitations — would have made the day a little easier without overbooking myself.
  • Gotten a few posed pictures with my friends. The photography is wonderful. There are great candid shots of dancing, posed shots with family, shots that capture the emotion of the ceremony and shots that capture the absolute joy we had at the reception. I didn’t have bridesmaids, but I consider all my girlfriends that were there to have been honorary bridesmaids and wish that I had gotten some organized photos with all of them.
  • Hired a day-of assistant/coordinator. I didn’t hire a wedding planner, but I wish that I had hired someone whose job it was to see to the details of the day. Family members were tied up and were not able to help as much as they thought they would. Same thing for friends. Each vendor partner was on their own to manage what they needed to do without knowing exactly how it fit in to the big picture. A point person in charge for the evening (and to make sure I didn’t forget any of the traditions!) would have been fantastic.

What I Am So Glad I Did

  • Hired vendors I liked. The temptation to do everything “on the cheap” was definitely present. But doing that may have meant that I hired a team that I didn’t LOVE and just settled with due to budget. My budget was still limited, but I was able to work with a team that I really admired and make some compromises on budget. They didn’t feel as distant as the word “vendor” implies; I felt like they were my partners and team for this event.
  • Finished my “checklist” on Thursday. Starting on Friday, I did not have anything left on my to-do list. I was just enjoying the days and moments and showing up where I needed to, when I needed to. As a result, I didn’t get frustrated or stressed. I officially decided not to worry about any of the details and to just say “it is what it is” at that point forward. And I smiled all day and into the night.
  • Booked a hotel room for the weekend. Matthew and I were already living together before the wedding and we got married in town. It would have been less expensive to get ready at home and stay at home. But it made the weekend more relaxing and special to be away from the chaos of the house where it would be easy to get distracted by home-stuff.
  • Let loose and danced. I am a terrible dancer. I know this. And I have always kept myself from dancing around others for fear of embarrassment (plenty of home dance parties though!). But I wanted to dance at my wedding. The one day when not only would I be dancing around others, but I would likely be the center of attention. So I did. I danced a lot. I know I looked silly and I got sweaty, but I had so much fun.

Photography: Whitney Bower
Flowers: Dale Wallace, About Vase
Venue: South on Main
Cake: Lindsey Ingram
Cupcakes: Cupcakes on Kavanaugh
DJ: Mike Poe

October 29, 2014

My Secret Recipe

Filed under: In the Kitchen,Married Life — Emily Reeves @ 7:56 am
#platedpics Asian Duck Tacos

#platedpics Asian Duck Tacos

I have always enjoyed cooking, but never did much of it. Cooking for one hardly seemed worth the effort or the leftovers. Finding recipes that were varied without having to buy the entire grocery store to make them, food going bad, too many leftovers — the list goes on for reasons not to cook. The bottom line: cooking wasn’t important to me.*

There must be some “nesting” chemical that was released in my brain after I said “I do” almost a month ago. Seemingly suddenly, I had a desire to have a home-cooked meal on the table each night. I’ve made lasagna, baked a turkey, made turkey gumbo. We have also made Asian Duck Tacos, Beef Moussaka, Curried Redfish Roti, Brown Butter Chicken with Apple Celery Root Slaw and Redfish with Harissa. On the menu for later this week: Turkey Sausage with Squash and Squid Ink Pasta with Calamari.

#platedpics

#platedpics  Curried Redfish Roti

Yes, we have made all of those complicated-sounding dishes on weeknights at our house. I think I have found the perfect solution to meal preparation that addresses all the issues that have kept me from cooking in the past: Plated.

I fell victim to Plated after seeing it as a “suggested page” in my Facebook feed many times over. It looked promising: complete meals for two with all the ingredients pre-measured and ready to cook. Two plates worth for $24. Going to the grocery store to buy ingredients to make a meal for two comes in close to that amount. I pick the dishes from a menu, a box arrives at my door (on either Wednesday or Saturday for my zip code),  and I order two meals at a time. I am addicted. The recipes are easy to follow. The food is good. And my friends are jealous of my dinner photos and have even asked “where are you?” as if I had ordered from a restaurant. So at least two nights a week for the last three weeks, we have been eating Plated meals. We are now planning our meals around Plated deliveries and our schedule each week. Planned home-cooked meals may not last forever — we are still newlyweds, after all — but Plated will continue to be a delivery if I am in charge of meals.

*It should be noted that my husband is a fantastic cook and has been cooking for me; I have not been eating fast food every night. 

#platedpics

#platedpics Brown Butter Chicken with Apple Celery Root Slaw

October 9, 2014

Newly Married: To Change My Name Or Not?

Filed under: Married Life,Personal — Emily Reeves @ 12:53 pm

monogram_2014-10-09_12-32-20

I just got married. Again. This one is forever, of that I am sure. I could not be happier. But, it has been eight years now that I have been using my maiden name again, and those eight years were critical growth years for my career. I feel like I would be discarding my professional brand identity if I were to change my name to my newly married name.

On the flip side, I am so happy to be married. And so proud of being “Mrs.” I want the world to know and I want to represent us as a family. Then, of course, there is the three-letter monogram that I have been craving for years! (My parents did not give me a middle name on the premise that when I married, my last name would become my middle name and I wouldn’t have to drop any part of my identity.)

Professionally, I want to use my maiden name. Personally, I want to use my married name. The question is: what do I do legally? Change it or keep it the same?

Legally changing a name is a painful process – social security card first, then driver’s license, then passport. Then credit cards, bank accounts and mortgage. I know the process — I’ve done it twice now. After my divorce, I swore I would never change my name again regardless of love and marriage that might be in my future.

But now that I have met the true love of my life and know we will be together forever, I think the hassle is worth it. And I will be legally adding that third letter to my monogram. It might be old-fashioned of me, but after weighing all the options I am ready to jump in and claim my married name.

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September 8, 2014

Are Clothes and Shoes Taking Over My House?

Filed under: Home,Married Life,Style — Emily Reeves @ 8:43 pm

I have noticed patterns in my life when multiple changes happen in a short period of time. In 2001, I moved to Little Rock, started a new job, bought a new car, got a dog and got married all within in a six month period. In 2007, my mom died, I got divorced and withdrew from law school within a three month period. The 2011/2012 years were a period of significant emotional transformation for me as I adjusted to the death of my brother and a new role at the agency where I’ve worked since 2001. My year of “yes” was 2013 when I over-committed to volunteer opportunities, travel opportunities and career growth opportunities; it was a fulfilling but exhausting year and I don’t regret a minute of it. Now it is 2014 and in a six month period, I have added a third dog to my family, gotten engaged and am planning my wedding, am preparing to become a step-mom and am working through plans for an addition to the house.

And it is the addition to the house that is the subject of my thoughts this evening. The plans have been drawn and the contractor has completed his estimate. Enter the bank. Of course our tastes are more expensive than our credit line can handle. So my we had a serious conversation about what we really needed and why. The conversation landed squarely on the need for more closet space. To be fair, we need more space in general and we are about to be a family of three in a one bathroom house. But the closet has been our biggest pain point.

Approximately six months before my soon-to-be husband moved in full time and his seven-year-old daughter moved in part-time, I turned the guest bedroom in my house into my closet/office. When they moved in, I changed the room back to a bedroom — this time a little girl’s bedroom — and my closet moved to temporary quarters in the garage and free-standing clothes racks in the master bedroom, knowing that we were planning an addition to the house soon. Here are some pictures of my guest room turned closet:

2013-10-20 10.59.53

{a closet dedicated to boots}

2013-10-20 11.00.24

{bedroom turned closet/office}

2013-10-20 11.00.34

{bedroom turned closet/office}

2013-10-20 11.00.43

{bedroom turned closet/office}

I was disappointed to give up this bedroom-sized closet and have to walk to my garage each morning to “shop”  for the day’s shoes. But it was okay because I was (and still am!) in love and knew it was only temporary. Now as we discuss the needs vs. wants for the house addition, when the closet comes up as a “need” for the addition, I am questioning my addiction for clothes, shoes and bags. I love style and fashion, and really do believe that “presentation is vital and how you say it can be just as important as what you say.” But can I do it with less? I am already working to slim my collection by selling select items on Threadflip (shop my closet!). To that end, I am contemplating a “uniform.” Vera Wang does it (and argues that Jackie O did it), Steve Jobs did it — as have many others considered creative “geniuses.”

I haven’t found my “uniform” yet, but I know that too much time and energy and frustration have been going into my morning dressing routine. It is time for a change. Not only for my morning sanity, but because I don’t like the idea of my life decisions being dictated by the load of my clothes.

July 30, 2014

Today In Shoes: Happy and Powerful

Filed under: Daily Highlights,Style — Emily Reeves @ 6:55 pm

Tall, bright and pointy.

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