Sometimes You've Just Gotta Brag
Luke is a massive part of my life. And when I say "massive" I basically mean he is my whole life, and there's nothing wrong with that. I have my work, my family, maybe one friend (lol), my hobbies, etc. But he's the person that's always there for me unconditionally and I never get sick of him. I'm missing him a whole bunch today while he's at work so I'm just going to write a little bit about what's on my mind. Ps; Sorry about the 3 year old photo, we haven't taken new pictures in forever.
Luke and I just celebrated our 7th anniversary, and our 1st anniversary of being married is coming up in a little less than a month. The past 7 years of my life have been the best, better than I could have ever imagined. We've grown up together, learned from one another, and I have learned to love someone more than I ever knew was possible. I'm not always good at showing it - I'm not too touchy-feely, it's hard for me to express emotions sometimes, and I'm really sassy and sarcastic so I tend to pick on the people I love the most. Luke is the absolute opposite, and I think that's why we work perfectly together. Relationships are nothing but compromise, and it's good to have someone balance you out. I am not exaggerating when I say that I would not be okay with being on this planet without him. It's just not an option for me, and I know in other people's minds that probably sounds insane, but it's true. He is that important to me.
I have watched him grow into the most amazing person over the past 7 years, the last three especially. Luke is a person who knows what he wants, what he's capable of, and how to make things happen. People have tried to bring him down and it has never, ever stopped him. I think I admire that the most. He has been told that he was throwing his life away by leaving college early. He has been called the most horrible names you could ever imagine by people who were supposed to be there for him. He has been told that he owes people for the life he was given - yes, that he actually owes someone for being born (it blew my mind too). Yet all of those things only pushed him further towards his goals and I am nothing but thankful for it. He is strong, smart, caring, honest, and accomplished. This year alone he has been promoted three times, how amazing is that? He's now a Senior Software Engineer at 23 years old.
My family has never had a lot of money. My Grandparents had 5 children and they grew up with the basics in life, but nothing more. My Mom was a single mother and my Dad always paid his child support, but it was never enough to fully support a child. I was always aware of our financial situation, I knew what we could afford and what we couldn't. Since Luke started working, I haven't had to worry about money and I only work because I choose to. He is amazing, and I don't think I'll ever get used to not having financial worries at the back of my mind 24/7. The company he works for is generous and forward-thinking and I am forever grateful to them, they have been such a blessing to our lives. I don't know anyone who loves their job more than Luke does, and I don't know anyone who deserves it more than him. Don't get me wrong, I know that absolutely anything can be taken away in an instant. But we are happy, healthy, thinking of the future, and enjoying our lives together. I couldn't ask for anything better.
Sending Photos Back Home
I spend a lot of time in antique stores, it's something Luke and I do for fun on the weekends (not something you hear often from 20-somethings). We're always on the hunt for cool finds! I had never collected anything in particular until recently when I started a cabinet card/antique photo collection. I've always been drawn to these little pieces of the past, wondering who the people in the photo were and what their lives must have been like. It's rare that the photos are labeled with names, most of them are blank with forever anonymous faces staring back out at you.
A couple of weeks ago Luke and I were at one of our favorite antique stores, the Antique Marketplace in Downtown Hammonton, New Jersey. I had never found old photos there before, but Luke spotted a box with a bunch them so I stood there for a while looking through them all. I found a few that were labeled with names that grabbed my attention. Someone long ago had carefully labeled the names of her aunts, uncles, parents, and grandparents on these turn of the century photos. They were of the Keith family who lived in Vineland, New Jersey in the late 1800s through the early/mid 1900s. A little idea hit me, so I bought three of them and took them home to research. After a quick search on Ancestry, I was able to find a living relative of this family who had passed such a long time ago. I decided to reach out thinking it was a long shot and it's likely the person would think I'm a scammer or a stalker, but maybe this person would like to know what some of their ancestors looked like. That's when I connected with Paula! She lives in Georgia, and she was pleasantly surprised by my message. I sent her some pictures of the photos I purchased and she expressed to me that she'd like to have them, so off they went! I went back to the same antique store the following weekend and bought the rest of them, nine more in total. Paula is absolutely thrilled to have these photos returned to her family, and I'm so happy I was able to find her and send them her way.
I've grown oddly attached to this little family. Amasa Keith (pictured with the big mustache), the head of the family, was married to Henrietta Wells. They came to Vineland from New York along with their six children, four of which made it to adulthood. Amasa was a shoe shop clerk, a grocery store clerk, and a book keeper at a bank in his later years. He had three beautiful daughters named Minnie, Joanna, and Florence. The girls are in most of the photos, all very well dressed. I can't get over the fashion of these days! I believe that Minnie was the only one of the children that didn't marry, I found her on 30 years worth of census records working and living with a family as their servant. Florence lived the longest out of everyone, she passed away in 1968 at 88 years old. Most of the family is buried here in New Jersey.
Paula's most recent message to me was so kind, she said "you probably don't even know how special the acts of kindness that you display are, keep being who you are because it's people like you that shape the world into a better place, one act at a time." How sweet is that?! I didn't go into this expecting anything. I wasn't even sure I'd get a response, but I'm glad I was able to do a good little deed for someone purely because if the roles were flipped, I would want someone to do the same for me. Whenever I go antiquing from now on I'm going to keep an eye out for more photos with names written on them. Hopefully I'll be able to reunite more people with these long lost treasures.
Wait, it's 2017? Already? HOW?! This past year has flown by. Do you remember being little when the length of a year felt like an eternity? I remember the feeling of Christmastime lasting for a couple of months, now I'm lucky if I'm in that spirit for a week. It's definitely something I miss the most about being a child, that warm Christmas feeling that swallowed you up. I remember making a Christmas countdown with my childhood best friend and I swear that countdown never went fast enough. Every year I try to commit to enjoying the season rather than speeding through it, but it never happens. Maybe next year. ;)
Saying "2016" out loud sends a lot of people into a rage or it sends them running in fear. It was a scary year, there were a lot of deaths, a lot of destruction, elections all over the world were big 'ol shit show, but I was one of the lucky ones who had a good year.
My 2016 highlights:
1. I got married! Luke and I had a super small backyard wedding at my Aunt Michelle's house on June 11th. We invited the people closest to us and kept it as small as possible. I don't even think we spent more than a couple of hundred dollars on the wedding (dress and cake included). I don't like being the center of attention (hello, anxiety) and having a big fancy wedding was never something I dreamed about. None of that cliche "my childhood dream wedding" business over here. If it weren't for the guilt of not giving my mom the chance to have a wedding for her ONLY child, we wouldn't have done anything at all.
2. I traveled to the UK twice and discovered my new favorite city, Edinburgh. The first time we went we traveled up and down England and Scotland. We visited London, Nottingham, Bath, the Cotswolds, Lacock, Sheffield, Edinburgh, parts of the Highlands, Luss, and Glasgow. It was a Christmas gift to my mom (and to us) and it was one of the most amazing and exhausting trips of my life. That trip cost probably around $10k but it was worth every penny. Luke and I planned a second trip to Scotland for our honeymoon, we went in September. We booked a lovely Airbnb in the Old Town of Edinburgh right on The Royal Mile and spent a little over a week there. We took a couple of day trips to the Highlands again and we even visited Loch Ness! One of our day trips took us across the border of Scotland/England, and we visited Alnwick Castle that was used for a lot of the Harry Potter films. Edinburgh will always be my favorite though, I'm constantly trying to talk Luke into booking another trip there (ps: I think we'll end up going again this year). We've even talked about moving there one day - if MM (Luke's company) ever opens a UK office, we're already signed up to go.
3. We met up with a lot of friends! We always see Luke's best friend Atwood, but we got to meet his girlfriend Ruby last year. She's super sweet and she's from Canada, so we got the opportunity to take a road trip to Montreal for a weekend. Not only did I meet Luke on Tumblr back in 2009, but I also met a lot of other great people who I still consider friends today. In England we met up with our friend George (Twikki) for the second time, and we got to see one of my best friends, Naomi, and her boyfriend Ollie and their little son Eric. Naomi and I have been close friends since we were 14/15 and I've visited her three times now. When we were in Scotland we met up with our friend Pete and his girlfriend Ayden of Little Blog of Horrors. On our second Scotland trip we met up with Lauren in Stirling, another old Tumblr friend. I see the faces of these people on social media nearly every day so it didn't feel like our first time meeting a lot of them, it was lovely! I'm hoping to see some of them again this year.
4. I discovered my love for genealogy while researching my family history through Ancestry.com. I've helped solve a couple of family mysteries for people and even been in contact with previously unknown family members! These people have helped me through some ancestry road blocks and I'm so grateful for them. Through Ancestry I discovered the Find-A-Grave and World Archives Project volunteering programs which I am now a proud member of.
5. Luke got promoted this year! He has so much passion for what he does, I really admire it. He started working for a company called MM.Lafleur in 2015, it's a professional women's clothing company in NYC. Luke is an engineer for their website, and he LOVES his job. I never pass up the opportunity to brag about him, I'm just so proud I can't help it! There wasn't really schooling for what he does, and since we've been together he has taught himself almost everything with the help of some of his friends and coworkers and has been working his way up professionally. I won't let anyone take credit for his achievements, they are ALL his own.
6. I hit 10,000 Etsy sales this year and my little business turned five! 10,000 sales in five years sounds like it's not much, but the first three or so years of having my business I had only made it to 1,000 sales. Two years on and I've passed 10,000, not counting duplicate items that Etsy doesn't count towards the total or items sold at craft fairs. I think the total might be up to at least 40,000 items I've made. That's INSANE for one person! My little hands are weary but busy, and that's all I could ever ask for.
I get a bit bored while I'm working, making things you already know how to make or have made hundreds of times before can get a bit dull. To keep me busy I spend a lot of quality time with Netflix, and binge watching TV shows is my favorite thing to do during my work day.
Some shows I've completed this year:
- Making A Murderer
- Gilmore Girls - LOVE, Luke is also obsessed.
- Penny Dreadful
- Scream (MTV's version)
- Shameless - This show is insane but I love it.
- The Carrie Diaries - Not normally my thing, but I oddly enjoyed this.
- Black Mirror
- The Crown
- Medici: Masters of Florence - A good chunk of the Game of Thrones cast is in this, amazing show if you love historical stuff.
- The OA - AMAZING, go watch it. 20x better than Stranger Things.
- The Last Kingdom - Luke and I just finished this together, we're going to finish watching Vikings next.
- Versailles - Another historical drama favorite, I'm bringing this one to Luke next. I'm his show tester and only bring him the best ones.
We've also seen a good amount of movies this year. Some of my favorites were The Hateful Eight, The Revenant, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, The Girl On The Train, and Fantastic Beasts. I love Eddie Redmayne so damn much. What were some TV shows or movies you enjoyed last year?
1. Glencoe, Scotland // 2. My new rings from Luke // 3. Alnwick Castle, England // 4. Apples we picked // 5. Last selfie of 2016!
Overall, I had a pretty wonderful 2016. I don't expect anything from 2017, I don't have any set goals but I do have some things I'd like to do/get done this year. I hope everyone reading has a lovely year. <3