Casual Friday – It’s Our Anniversary!

November 8, 2019

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Today is our 11th anniversary, and after several months of sickness, crazy deadlines, and living in a construction zone, we are taking a much needed break. We’ll be jet-setting to New Orleans for a few days (Chris served a mission for our church there 15 years ago and it’s his first time back since!) and disconnecting as much as possible. Chris just raves about the beautiful architecture and the rich culture and history (as well as the food, of course). We can’t wait to slow down for a few days, recharge our batteries, and (for me) experience a new place with so much inspiration to give.

So as we head out the door, we thought it would be fun to share 11 things about us that maybe some of you don’t know – 1 fact for each year of our marriage. And what better place to start than the very beginning!?

1. Chris and I knew each other for over 3 years before we became serious.
Sure, we went on dates here and there, but the timing was just always off. I was dating someone and he was single; he was dating someone and I was single. We both were single but working around the clock. The most interesting part of this is that it took me moving across the country for us to connect.

2. We fell in love through hand-written letters.
If you saw yesterday’s postyesterday’s post, you may have noticed the scene in the video where I hang a framed envelope on the wall, addressed to Chris, from me. This was one of nearly 100 letters sent between the two of us while I was living in Illinois (also on a mission for our church). Chris first told me he loved me through one of these letters, and when I returned home we set a wedding date and were engaged in less than 3 weeks.

3. We don’t buy gifts for each other on our anniversary.
About 2 years into our marriage we decided that nothing was more important to our relationship than experiencing things together. Cutting out the gifts and taking trips instead was our way of broadening the things we get to experience, and it’s our favorite tradition.

4. We have at least one argument during any given project.
Of course these aren’t Earth-shattering, heated arguments. They’re usually very short-lived but they definitely happen. Chris can become very attached to how he envisions the function of a space, and I have a tendency to push us to the brink of insanity with all the things I’d like to do. But we’ve learned to work through the arguments and even appreciate them, because we balance each other out and our projects always turn out better by challenging each other.

5. Our favorite vacation together, hands down, was Bora Bora.
That’s of course a bit like saying, “My favorite meal was that time Gordon Ramsey came to my home and cooked for me and he brought Eric Clapton with him who just sang while Phoebe Buffay gave me a massage.” Like, of course that would be your favorite meal, and of course Bora Bora would be the best vacation ever. But I think it’s important to say that it definitely lived up to the hype (we went last year for our 10 year), and if you ever have the chance to go, go!

6. Our wedding song was I’m Yours, by Jason Mraz.
Two days after I came home from Illinois, Chris and I were in American Eagle (I needed a major wardrobe refresh). “I’m Yours” came on over the speaker, and Chris began to sing it to me. We knew it was our song right then, and our friend Preston Pugmire even sang it at our reception while we had our first dance.

7. I used to be the cook.
It’s no secret that Chris is an exceptional cook, but when we were first married I went all in with the domestic wife bit. I cooked dinner for our little family of two every night for six months. When I became pregnant with Greta I became so sick, and Chris (who had studied culinary arts in college) volunteered to “temporarily” take over the cooking duties. He never gave them back and thank heavens for that!

8. We planned on having five kids.
That was our number when we started out. But after struggling to become pregnant with Faye, and then again with Polly (and not to mention how sick I get during pregnancy), we gradually moved that number down. Once Polly was here, we both just felt like our family was complete.

9. We always have a series we’re watching.
Right now it’s Survivor (we were super slow to hop on that train). 24 was the first series we binge-watched (on DVD, mind you). Lost, Prison Break, The Good Place, Parenthood, Friday Night Lights, Friends, with healthy doses of The Office mixed all throughout.

10. We have very different music selection practices
While I enjoy Chris’s music, he is a “deep tracks only” kind of guy. I prefer something I can sing along to, a good podcast, or silence interspersed with conversation. Chris loves having something in the background almost always.

11. If we didn’t already love our job, our second choice dream jobs would be…
Chris would want to work in a test kitchen somewhere, writing recipes for cookbooks, restaurants, TV shows and all that. He wouldn’t want to be the name on any of those things, but loves making delicious food and sharing it with others. I would want to be a high school art teacher. Or maybe something in the medical field. Those are very different, but I studied art and exercise science, so there is something to that. But either way I’m glad I love what I do so much and don’t have to worry about it.

Chime in with any Must-Dos in New Orleans! And we’ll report back with our favorites. Happy Weekend!

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What do you think?

  1. allison says:

    If you haven’t booked a hotel yet I highly recommend the Eliza Jane. Definitely stop by to check out the decor, its beautiful!

  2. Nicole says:

    I have a funny story for you about one of the cast members of Survivor. I was friends with Erik Reichenbach in high school. Had the biggest crush on him. Eventually I got him to go to the movies with me and he was quite the prankster. Before the movie he told me a story that he had been out earlier running along a lake near our hometown and spotted this black bag at the edge of the water. He built it up like it looked like a body bag, etc. I remember thinking this is crazy (we live in a small town) and then he tells me he took it and put it in his trunk! So after the movie we go out to the parking lot and he wants to show me this “body bag” he found, sure enough he opens the trunk and there is a black looking body bag there. I remember thinking omg what is going on, is Erik not the guy I though he was, am I in trouble? He then proceeds to open the bag slowly…….and of course there is a skeleton inside. I freak out and he laughs because it’s a fake skeleton and was all a prank and I fell for it. I will absolutely never forget that and to this day I still get a good laugh out of it.

  3. Jill Hall says:

    I have always loved your style and how you inspire others to be creative within their own personal tastes/budget. Thanks so much for sharing your journey and bringing light and joy to this world. God bless you guys and your path!

  4. Mary Lund says:

    Okay. Now I’m so curious. I was a missionary in the Chicago north mission June 2006-decembee2007. Which mission were you in?

  5. Happy anniversary! BRB planning a trip to Bora Bora

  6. sherry says:

    You must have a Po Boy at Mother’s. My fav is the ‘debris’ which is roast beef with the debris from the bottom of the pan spooned over. This place is a NOLA institution where locals go.

  7. Kathryn says:

    If you can swing it definitely take a swamp and plantation tour! Take a street car through the Garden District. Do a cemetery tour. And eat!

  8. Valerie says:

    Happy Anniversary! I enjoyed learning 11 new things about you. Cafe Du Monde is a must for Beignets and hot chocolate! Enjoy a super weekend.

  9. Danielle says:

    Never been but loved reading all these facts about you two! We got married on the 24th of September bc our first show we binge watched together was 24 too! haha.

  10. Gina says:

    If you do nothing else while in town, go to Shaya!!! Get as many different things to share as possible. You will not be disappointed. I promise! One of my all time favorite meal experiences in any city. Just do it. Happy anniversary!

  11. Sarah Gibbs says:

    Loved this! My in-laws live in New Orleans. I enjoy the tours (Ghost, Swamp, Food) and riding the street car down St. Charles Ave. I like to eat at the regular places (Johnny’s Po Boys, Brennan’s, and Cafe du Monde), but have really liked restaurants like Cochon, Peche, and Herbsaint). Enjoy your time there and Happy Anniversary

  12. Sinead says:

    The Country Club is a fun brunch spot w v beautiful aesthetic!

    For casual and fun lunch spot– check out Dat Dog!

    And say YES to all the chargrilled oysters.

  13. Randi Puccio says:

    Happy Anniversary, my hubby and I are also celebrating 16 years married! Enjoy your New Orleans trip, heard its a great city to explore.

  14. Stephanie says:

    Congratulations on 11 happy years! See the WWII Museum. Also go for a bayou ride to see the gators.

  15. Renee says:

    Happy Anniversary, you guys are adorable! Random weird question- do you workout? If so, what is your workout of choice? I also have hashimotos and have a hard time finding workouts that aren’t too taxing. Thanks & have fun in NOLA!

  16. Brittany D says:

    Breakfast at Brennan’s is a must! Tour one of the cemeteries. We also really loved the swamp tours. Happy Anniversary!

  17. René Kelly says:

    You must try Cochon-a Donald Link restaurant. It’s Cajun Southern. For po-boys, Acme or Felix’s. And you must go to Cafe’ du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait! Happy Anniversary!

  18. Mary Lou says:

    Go read Smitten Kitchen’s blog post from this week. Deb and her husband just spent a weekend there and she did a great blog post with all the places they ate.

  19. Angela sewell says:

    Can we get a full length wedding photo?! If being a stay at home mom wasn’t working out, I would totally be in the wedding business! 18 years after I got married, I’m still obsessed with all things wedding!

  20. Lu says:

    Happy Anniversary???????????????????????? If you guys like breakfast and or brunch go to Willa Jean… and if you do have a chance let me know your thoughts…. safe travels????

  21. Kirsten says:

    Love this! Didn’t realized we shared and anniversary. My husband and I are celebrating our 5 year today! We went to New Orleans for our 3 year and had so much eating multiple small meals a day so we could get it all in! Enjoy!!

  22. Martha says:

    Congratulations on your 11 years! You both are obviously very good together…a breath of fresh air. Have fun in NOLA! I hear the food is fabulous!

  23. Kelsey says:

    I LOVED this post! Always so fun getting to know y’all better. Happy anniversary! Thanks for sharing your lives with us.

  24. Amanda says:

    No tips for your trip but great post! Enjoy your vacation together.

  25. Yira says:

    Happy Anniversary guys!!
    Love your posts & stories
    To many more 11 years!!!!!

  26. Marina says:

    If you have time and enjoy history, I cannot recommend the WWII Museum enough. It’s incredible and you can spend an entire day there. Breads on Oak is a phenomenal vegan bakery with some gluten-free options.

  27. Kristina says:

    Bachannal in the Bywater is a MUST!

    • stephanie scherer says:

      I enthusiastically second this!! delicious food and amazing jazz in the coolest little backyard. Its heaven!

  28. Victoria says:

    Best burger in NOLA – Port of Call
    Also go to the WWII museum!

  29. Mary E says:

    Happy Anniversary!
    I live in Illinois. What town did you live in while you were here?

  30. Tara says:

    Aww happy anniversary! Can’t wait to read all the NO recs soon!

  31. Carrie says:

    Ha! We are headed to New Orleans for our anniversary this weekend too! Maybe we will see you guys there :)

  32. Erica says:

    Go check out a nearby plantation! There’s lots to choose from that are relatively close to NOLA. We loved seeing Oak Alley with its iconic massive Live Oak trees!

  33. Erin N. says:

    You must eat at Jacques-Imo’s Cafe! Any local will tell you this. It is a hole in the wall unique colorful place with inspiration for both of you I PROMISE!

  34. Leigh says:

    A plug for Capulet for a meal if you are in the area. They are creative and make adjustments for food issues. And the owner is about one of the greatest people ever (though I might be biased since he’s a friend of my husband’s).

  35. Chantal says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen you look more related to your sister Victoria than the first picture in this post! Like that is her!!

  36. Rachel M says:

    1000 Figs in Mid City has the BEST Mediterranean food! Super cute small place with a great vibe.

  37. Carrie Puffinbarger says:

    Happy Anniversary!
    Thanks for sharing!
    My NOLA recommendation is Euclid Records. 2 stories of vinyl, amazing selection, new and used. I spent half of my fun money there! They have moved locations since I went (13 years ago! almost as long Chris!) but it’s still the same vibe. You will love it!

    And also, a more serious attraction, the National WWII Museum is an incredible experience that I honestly can’t put into words.

  38. Rose says:

    Go to Drago’s for fried oysters!

  39. Tracey says:

    Do a ghost tour at night! It’s cheesy but fun and you learn a bit of history about the city.

    • Carrie says:

      I second the ghost tour. Great way to see a bit of the city. All of my best architecture photos are from our ghost tour!

  40. Amber says:

    Middendorfs In Manchac for catfish is worth the drive for sure! Also Mothers for Poboys on Poydras St.- yum!! And all though it’s usually overcrowded with tourists, Cafe duMonde for beignets is worth the wait! Welcome to the the south!! My family is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and I have lived within a few hours from NO most my life!

  41. Coleen says:

    My husband and I lived there when we went to medical school. You have to visit the Garden District and Magazine street. There used to be a gelato place called La Divina Cafe but I just read that it closed and moved to Baton Rouge so if you visit the temple, try and find it! And for dairy free it had creative sorbet flavors! Also off the beaten path was Cristiano’s in Houma, LA, 45 minutes south of New Orleans. It is the best Italian in the most unexpected place. Houma also has the best swamp tours. Have so much fun. We had such good times there. And the people are the friendliest. Sha bebe! Favorite saying ever!

  42. Jeannine520 says:

    Happy Anniversary you two. Last trip to N.O. we really enjoyed a trip out to The Oaks plantation, walking the Garden District and antique shopping. There’s a florist/antique shop called Dunn & Sonnier, if you’re nearby pop in and try their “Dunn and Sonnier” candle. It’s exclusive to their shop and is seriously the best smell ever. I’ve been having them shipped to me ever since my visit.

  43. Yvonne T says:

    My husband and I went to New Orleans almost 10 years ago, and we STILL reminisce about the Grouper with Ocean Sauce at Adolfo’s ( Omg it’s so, so good. Our other must-go to is The Camellia Grill ( It’s touristy, but popular for a reason! Also, when we went, we ended up sitting 2 seats away from Lenny Kravitz. Happy anniversary!

  44. Cici Haus says:

    Happy anniversary! I’ve been following along since the floating credenza in your…apartment? It’s been so fun to watch you and your family grow. I hope you have the most wonderful week away!

  45. Kimmy says:

    I thought you were your sister in your wedding photo!!!

  46. Liz says:

    Happy Anniversary! Have a great trip! And oh my gosh Bora Bora was a year ago??

  47. Kdd says:

    If you are looking for evening activities, try “Escape My Room” (we did the Jazz Parlor, needed the other family to solve) or a movie at Cinebarre Canal. Reserved tickets at Preservation Jazz Hall. Buy Muffalettas at Central Market and take a picnic somewhere. Gator swamp airboat ride. Homas House, Oak Alley, Laura Plantation. Emeril’s Restaurant.

  48. Linda M. says:

    You have to try Cochon Restaurant in the warehouse district. SOOO GOOD! I’m not a big rabbit fan but their rabbit & dumplings are to die for! The WWII museum is close by and is a must! Happy Anniversary to you both! May you have many more happy years and blessings:-)

  49. Noel says:

    For NOLA: If you do Commanders Palace, hit it for lunch instead of dinner. Less expensive AND twenty-five cent martinis! Jacques Imo’s for dinner, and loved Port Of Call for burgers. Definitely do a guided cemetary tour. And the shopping along Magazine St of course :) We stayed in the Bywater neighborhood, which I LOVED! Oh, and see a show at Preservation Hall.

    I just got back from Bora Bora 2 weeks ago!! Well, mostly we were in Moorea, which was incredible too, but splurged on Bora Bora for 2 nights at the Le Meridien. Agree, it is as spectacular as everyone says it is. Such beauty!

  50. Happy anniversary! I love Musical Legends Park on Bourbon St. There’s always live music and you can sit and relax in the courtyard while you eat beignets. Cafe Amelie was pretty life changing though! Soo gorgeous.

  51. Amanda says:

    Commanders Palace for a nicer lunch/dinner. Tour the Garden District, great architecture! And finally the All That Jazz Po Boy at Verti Marte – soooo good.

  52. Meghan says:

    Happy Anniversary! Enjoy your time away!

  53. mockginger says:

    It might not fit with your dietary needs, but Dat Dog was the best meal we had in NoLa, aside from the beignets, of course!

  54. Haley says:

    New Orleans is where my whole family is from and my favorite city in America. If you are renting a car, I highly suggest a drive out to Middendorf around the lake. It’s about 45 minutes, but you go through the wildlife preserves and it’s the best fried catfish of your life (looking at you Chris, don’t order anything else, fried catfish or bust). Julia, I know you have some eating restrictions, so it may not be a fit for you, but tossing it out there. There’s also a ghost tour that kicks off at the Voodoo Lounge that’s really fun (definitely best ghost tour I’ve ever gone on, but obviously a lot depends on the guide). Frenchman St for live music (but it definitely is crowded) and Coop’s place for seafood gumbo. Oh and EAT nola, that’s one of my faves. Also, last time I was there we went to Emeril’s on Tchoupitoulas, which I did not expect to live up to the hype, but it was delicious. Cemetery tours can also be really interesting if you enjoy history (and eccentric modern celebrities who have already purchased their plots). Mardi Gras world is also super cool and it’s probably a good time for it since Carnival season is coming up. You’re going at a good time weather-wise. Oh and if someone comes up to you on the street and starts doing kind of a performative bit, they are definitely taking you for a ride, keep moving. And don’t touch the carriage horses!

  55. Maggie L says:

    New Orleans?!!!! You guys are so close (I’m in Lafayette, about 2 hours west). Have fun and I know you guys will enjoy all the delicious food! One of my favorites is BBQ shrimp from Deanie’s. Happy anniversary!

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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