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Adventures in Wedding Planning {2}

June 12, 2015

Adventures in Wedding Planning


Want to know what happens when you’re planning a destination wedding to your hometown and you travel from where you live to where you grew up for your sister’s wedding?

You get her good and married, then start planning your own wedding as if you’re some kind of frenetic wedding obsessed tornado.

Chris and I saw every venue in Northwest Arkansas in the span of a couple days.

That isn’t exactly true. We saw seven venues. But it felt like all of them.

And here’s the deal: there was no bad option. All the venues were gorgeous and cool and very, very different from each other. This was partially because I, er, haven’t quite chosen colors or a theme other than “I want it to be super fun.” I tend to like what I like and sometimes what I like are things that don’t go together. So I smash them together and say I LIKE IT, DEAL.

Anyway, we could have put all the venue names in a hat, closed our eyes, and randomly drawn a venue name and it would have been great.

But, when we really sat down and started nit-picking the venues—and we really, really had to nit-pick. We were literally saying things like, “I mean, is it too perfect? Does that mean that something else will be destined to go wrong if we go with something that is too perfect?” For real.

What did we see you ask?

    • Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
      If you live in or near Arkansas and you haven’t been to Crystal Bridges yet, you’re doing it wrong. It is a small, accessible collection of American art ranging from pre-Colonial to contemporary art in a variety of mediums and styles. Yes, they have Hudson River School pieces. Yes, there’s a Rothko. There’s John Singer Sargent and Norman Rockwell (They have freaking Rosie the Riveter) and Andy Warhol and Georgia O’Keefe and all of the abstract expressionists and Jasper Johns. It is a cool spot. And, y’all. They do weddings. It’s pricey, but for a museum, it’s a steal.


    • Magnolia Gardens
      This spot is so charming. It’s a garden that still has a bit of country flair. And there’s a gazebo for all my swoony Stars Hollow needs.


    • Pratt Place Inn & Barn
      If you’re interested in a barn venue, this place is it. It’s big, it’s red, it’s renovated on the inside, and it is glorious. And the inn is quaint and lovely and available for a discounted rental with the rental of the barn. And, on top of that, there’s a two bedroom cottage that will fulfill all your English countryside dreams. But in Arkansas. Yes.


    • Autumns Ridge Plantation
      This is a very new venue that is actually someone’s extremely gorgeous residence with a spectacular view of the Boston Mountains. They actually got married in their backyard and realized that they were living on top of a goldmine. The space for the wedding parties to get ready are probably the nicest accommodations we saw and the backyard event space is made for those of you who want an outdoor wedding with a view.


    • Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks
      I grew up in Northwest Arkansas and had somehow never been to the botanical gardens before. I don’t know how this happened, but it’s true. Verdict? The gardens are lush and lovely and the reception space is killer.


    • Sassafras Springs Vineyard
      This is a super cool vineyard that comes with chapel ruins and a reception space that is a converted horse barn. Also: vineyard.


    • St. Catherine’s at Bell Gable
      When we pulled up to St. Catherine’s, the sun was beaming down onto the chapel and there were—I kid you not—two white horses grazing in front of it. It looked like we’d stepped into some sort of ethereal, medieval fantasy world instead of being just outside of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a shot without a golf cart in it.

So, what’s the verdict?

Sassafras Springs Vineyard!

Photo from Sassafras Springs Vineyard website


Photo from Sassafras Springs Vineyard website.


Ultimately, we wanted a space for both the ceremony and reception, that was scenic and interesting, that could be dressed up but still feel casual enough that people won’t feel stuffy, and that, more than anything, we felt comfortable with and knew would be a fun spot for us and our guests.

So, venue acquired! Everything else to go!

What I’m Reading {1}

May 14, 2015

What I'm Reading

A lot of great fantasy, lately!

Golden Son by Pierce Brown 

The second in the Red Rising trilogy, this sucker was such a gut punch. Brown is an author who doesn’t go easy on his protagonist, Darrow, and the entire book will have you hungrily flipping the pages, needing to more as you read more. The action is intense, the plotting is tight, the motivations are ever-changing, and the end of the book will leave you gasping and counting down the days until the third book comes out.

The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta

As my friend Michelle (whose debut novel you can add on Goodreads now!) put it: “I could read three more books of these characters sitting around having breakfast together.” And it is so true. Over the course of three books, you get to know a very large cast of characters in a way that feels personal—and you love all of these characters. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where I legitimately enjoyed every single character and was rooting for all of them. The writing is masterful, the world-building is lush and thorough, the characters are incredibly complex, and the trilogy is just so wonderful. There’s mystery action and delicious romance and political machinations and rich histories and backstories and JUST READ THESE BOOKS, OKAY.

Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

The first book of the Grisha series, this sucker weaves Russian folklore and mythology into an easily digestible, completely addicting YA fantasy novel. It’s dark and moody and beautifully rendered—it’s a world of magic that makes you feel like if you could just get to Russia you could find this place.

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Be warned: this book is erotic fantasy. It centers on a Phedre, who lives in a world where sex isn’t taboo or something to be ashamed of, and serving as a courtesan is a way to act as an instrument of the gods. Read: there is a lot of sex in this book. But! The sex is actually sort of running in the background of the narrative and isn’t truly what the book is about. Really, it’s a murder mystery. A really long, really intense murder mystery. And it’s AWESOME. If you aren’t the type to be easily embarrassed or offended, definitely pick it up.

A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab

The concept of this book is really cool—in it, there are four Londons in parallel universes, all of which exist in the same location, with the same time, but are vastly different places. Three of the Londons have magic, and the one that doesn’t (our world, basically) still has doors that universe travelers can go through to pass between the Londons. All in all, this is an adventure story wherein a very atypical YA female main character meets a traveler and basically forces him to let her travel with him. And yes, adventures ensues. I honestly didn’t love this one the way I wanted to, but the characters in this are vastly different than YA archetypes, which, in and of itself, makes it worth your while.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

It’s a Sarah J. Maas boooooook! Considering how obsessed I am (and everyone who has ever read those books are) with her Throne of Glass series, it’s no surprise that I really liked this, although it inherently had some issues because it’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which is just a story of manipulative Stockholm Syndrome. But that doesn’t mean I dislike it. I just have some issues with it and those issues can’t be resolved, sadly. But, issues aside, this is one hell of a Beauty and the Beast retelling. It’s very dark and twisty and once you hit the mid-point of the book you will not be able to put it down. You’ll think you need to run errands, and that you’ll get up and around when you finish the chapter, but you won’t. You’ll keep reading until you’re finished with it. Because you are Sarah J. Maas’s bitch and there ain’t nothin’ any of us can do about that.

So those are the things I’ve been reading lately. Feel free to share what you’ve been digging into in comments!

Adventures in Wedding Planning {1}

April 15, 2015

Adventures in Wedding Planning

So, uh, I’m engaged.

It’s still really weird to say that. I mean, the engagement is still new—Chris proposed on March 30th, so it’s only been a couple weeks, so of course the word “engaged” is still weird.

Not to mention “fiancé.”

But once you get engaged, people ask you a) for the proposal story and b) when/where you’re getting married.

So, I’ll take this opportunity to do that now.

Chris and I headed to Bali for a long weekend the week of my birthday. We like trips and tend to travel when we have the opportunity/whim to do so, so planning a trip to Bali wasn’t necessarily a “sign.”

In fact, nothing about the weekend tipped me off. We ate, we went to the Monkey Forest, we rented a motorbike and road it around the island, seeing what we could see. Chris mentioned that he really wanted to go on a sunrise hike, and as he hadn’t asked or suggested anything else, I agreed to go, despite the fact that we had to wake up at 2:30am to be picked up, driven an hour away, and then begin a two hour hike at 4:00am in the dark with headlamps.

We get to the volcano—Mt. Batur—and meet our guide, who was approximately 15. About an hour into the hike, it becomes extremely clear that the hike is actually a climb. A very, very steep climb over lava-rocky terrain.

I was not amused. In fact, I told Chris about twenty minutes from the summit that I was so exhausted I was going to cry, as well as some other choice words that I will not write down.

By the time we get to the top, we’re tired and sweaty and oddly cold. So we eat our breakfast and wait for the sunrise, which was really, truly gorgeous. Then we start the climb down.

Unbeknownst to me, Chris hike-climbed up that freaking volcano with a diamond ring in his backpack, planning to propose on top of the volcano, at sunrise.

But because I was kind of being the worst, he decided that it wasn’t the right time.

So instead, Chris suggested we go to a swanky restaurant at a very fancy resort on our last day in Bali. I figured he just wanted to go somewhere nice and when we pulled up on our motorbike to the Samaya Hotel, we were both shocked at exactly how fancy it was—so fancy that they took us to the restaurant, which is really, actually named Swept Away (because it’s by a river), by way of golf cart instead of pointing us in the direction of the restaurant and letting us walk.

Anyway, we get to the restaurant and it’s just us. This wasn’t on purpose, just coincidence. We order, have a couple cocktails, eat, and then order dessert. Then, before the desserts come out, Chris says, “So, I got something for you.”

And then puts a miniature Tardis on the table in front of me. I open the Tardis, which contains the ring and then Chris gets down on one knee, at which point I yelled, “Oh my God, what are you doing?”

I sort of blacked out/went into shock, so I’m not 100% about what was actually said, but I think he said, “Will you be my companion?” (a Doctor Who thing—since, you know, Tardis) and then I stared at him and finally said yes (or maybe it was “Sure, okay” because I’m an unromantic jerk) and then said something along the lines of, “Except I want to be The Doctor.”

After I giggled like a maniac and the restaurant staff congratulated us and brought over our ice creams—which they did not comp, in case you were wondering—Chris told me about the volcano plan.


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Got down on the knee #blochparty2016

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So yeah. That’s the proposal story!

Which now leads to part b of the question everyone asks: when/where are we getting married?

The when is probably late summer/early fall of 2016. There isn’t an exact date because there isn’t an exact venue yet. And there isn’t an exact venue because, well, we got engaged two weeks ago, and, uh, we live in Singapore and have to get married in the U.S. for it to be legal in the U.S.

“But, Bethany, booking a venue, even from abroad, can’t be that hard. You have the Internet.”

This is true. I do have the Internet. The problem is that we’re not sure where we want to get married, meaning the state, not the venue.

We’re considering both Arkansas, where I’m from, and New York, where we met. There are a lot of pros/cons for both places, which doesn’t make the whole figuring out the where any easier. But, we’ll be in the U.S. in about a month and are going to be looking at venues in both places.

Fingers crossed that seeing the venues will help us make a decision.

But that will be another story for another time.


January 20, 2015

I will be back in the U.S. for a few days on Thursday and, y’all. I. Am. So. Excited.

So I made a list of all the things I’m excited about.

(It’s in no particular order.)

1. Seeing family and friends

2. New York City & Northwest Arkansas

3. Coats & sweaters & scarves & hats & gloves & hot beverages

4. Skiing

5. Pizza

6. Super Bowl

7. Decent beer selection at basically everywhere

8. Trader Joe’s

9. Target

10. Buying skin products and not worrying if they have bleach in them

11. Chick-fil-A

12. Sonic

13. Trader Joe’s chocolate lava cakes

14. People who know how to walk in crowds and/or crowded areas

15. Stocking up on Burt’s Bees chapstick. (It’s $8 a tube here.)

16. BEN AND JERRY’S (It’s $20 a pint here.)

17.  IP addresses that Netflix and streaming services don’t reject

18. Getting a haircut so that my hair no longer looks like straw.

19. Affordable boozy brunch

20. Good Mexican food


2015, You Are Mine.

January 1, 2015

I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions.

I always felt it a little strange to set some sort of overarching goal or intention for an entire year. I have no idea what’s going to happen. As long as I’m growing and trying to be the best person I can be, shouldn’t that be enough?

And though I still don’t really buy into the whole New Year, New You business, I sort of let 2014 happen to me.

I want to tell 2015 what I want. I want to make it my year.

So I’m going to voice some of the things I’d like to achieve this year. Most of them are small lifestyle changes, and one is a thing that I have very little control over, but can at least try really hard to make happen. So, here’s hoping that telling the Internet about them will somehow make them more real and/or come true.

Because we all know that the Internet is basically a fairy godmother. And, you know, there’s a slim chance Taylor Swift will see this and end up sending me a present or inviting me to her house or something.

1. Land a literary agent.

2. Do more yoga more regularly.

3. Drink more water.

4. Answer emails from friends and family faster.

5. Focus on joy and positivity.

6. Tone the arms and thighs.

7. Cook more.

8. Read a larger variety of books.

9. Finish writing the manuscript that makes me nervous.

10. Begin writing the book that terrifies me.

I already know 2015 is going to have some great things in store: Boyfriend and I are moving into our first very fancy, very adult apartment in just a few days, I have plans for more books this year, and will be in the States seeing family and skiing and eating all of the chimichangas and pizza that I can fit in my mouth in just a few weeks!

So, here’s to 2015—the year that I want to shape and mold and make mine.

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