Farewell for Now

Hi all. It’s been a little while since I’ve posted, so I thought I should write an “official” post about my absence.

When I started this blog a few years ago, I was exploring different outlets of creativity in my free time. I had just started doing more crafts, and my day job was pretty settled and structured, enabling me to dedicate more hours to this place. Having a blog was something I always wanted to do, so I jumped right in and did it. It was also dead in the heart of winter, and let’s face it, everyone’s bored then. A blog seemed like a great idea.

I’ve changed a little bit since then, and quite honestly, I am not sure how this blog should change with me. What I was interested in then doesn’t hold my interest as much now, and I feel that I’ve gotten away from the creative outlets that I truly love with a passion (writing and photography). This blog became a chore instead of something I enjoy, and that’s where I put my foot down.

This means that I’ve decided to take a break from Life Is Sweet As A Peach. I won’t delete it just yet – there is a lot of content here that I spent hours creating, and I like having a place to keep my work. But I don’t think I will be updating much (if at all) in the future. Maybe I’ll come back once I figure out what direction I’d like to take it. I’ll never be a food blogger or a fashion blogger; and I don’t feel that I can be as personal as I want to be here, because of the way I originally set everything up.  I need a new vision and who knows when (if) that will come.

So thank you for your support over the past few years, for commenting and sharing posts, and reading up on this little corner of the world. Life Is Sweet As A Peach was a fun experiment for me to take on in my 20s, and I did truly enjoy it. I think, though, that my 30s are going to be about something a little different. I’m feeling more like living life than posting about it, and that private moments are sometimes the best of all.

Thank you again for sticking with me this long. I’ve appreciated every single person who I’ve come into contact with over this time, and I won’t forget y’all.

Be good to one another. Spread love instead of hate, and plant rosemary by your garden gate.

All my love –

Aubrey

 

Balloons Over Morgantown 2016 | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

Wild & Wonderful Weekend

Almost heaven, West Virginia…Russ and I are both Mountaineers at heart, and this weekend we spent some time in the good ‘ol mountain state, hiking and chasing hot air balloons.

When we were in college, one of our favorite fall traditions was the Mountaineer Balloon Festival. Sadly, the festival hasn’t been put on for a number of years now. The community is trying to bring it back, starting small with Balloons Over Morgantown. It’s not a full festival with arts and crafts, vendors, food, rides, etc., but it was great to see hot air balloons rise over the hills again. I was happy!

Balloons Over Morgantown 2016 | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

Russ and I woke up early and were out of the house by 6:30 Saturday morning to make the trek to Morgantown for a 8 a.m. balloon lift off. Just as we were getting close to the launch site, the balloons rose up over the hills right in front of us. We couldn’t have timed it better. We stopped the car, I hopped out, snapped some photographs, and then we chased the balloons all over the area for about an hour.

Balloons Over Morgantown 2016 | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

It was freaking awesome. We both had a blast and it brought back a lot of memories.

After the balloon adventure, we went to Coopers Rock State Forest for a bit of hiking. We ended up taking a trail that I don’t think either of us were really prepared for, and I’m pretty sure I pulled my groin while trying to save an ankle on a loose rock. It wasn’t the best end to an otherwise grand adventure, but my sore body today didn’t take away from the beauty of the forest.

Coopers Rock State Forest | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

We talked at length yesterday about how much we miss the mountain state – it’s just not the same living in the city. I think one day (sooner than we probably realize) we’re going to end up selling our house and moving into a cabin in the mountains. Of course, then I’ll be complaining that I can’t get to Target in 10 minutes, so you know, rose tinted glasses, green grass and all that. Regardless, it was nice to go back for a day and spend some time in the fresh air. Plus, we got Black Bear on the way home, so triple win?

Coopers Rock State Forest | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

Now if only I could get my hands on a flying WV cookie, I’d have my fill of West Virginia for the next year or so…

Balloons Over Morgantown 2016 Photo Gallery

I put together a Flickr gallery of all of the hot air balloon photos I took, so if you’re interested in seeing more, check it out. Below are my favorites from the day. I hope the festival makes a full reappearance next year!

 

Happy Anniversary To Us

Yesterday was our 4th wedding anniversary – yay! We didn’t kill each other yet!

We celebrated by getting takeout from our favorite restaurant and having a quiet dinner at home. And we also decided to plan a special trip for our 5th anniversary next year – we hope to go to Europe!

anniversary-dinner

Getting to use my wedding china…candlelight…ol’ Blue Eyes = winner winner chicken dinner. (Though…neither of us had chicken, haha). Seriously though, staying in was better than going out. We were able to talk – and actually hear each other – for hours. I like going out, but forgot how nice a night in can be.

europe-trip-planning

We bought a few maps from Barnes and Noble –  do you have any idea how hard it is to find a paper map these days?! B&N had a bunch though, just FYI.

europe-planning

After dinner, we laid out a map on our dining room table and started putting flags next to places we wanted to go. I don’t know if we’ll end up going at all but it’s nice to daydream and have a place to start.

And finally, each year on/around our anniversary, we take a photo together. I like seeing how we’ve changed over time and imagine it’ll only get cooler as we get older.

aubrey-russell-4th-anniversary

Happy anniversary, toots. Wouldn’t have it any other way.❤

 

Cheers & Beers Surprise Birthday Party | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

Cheers & Beers to 30 Years Surprise Birthday Party

I told y’all about the surprise summer dates that I had planned for Russell throughout the summer…what I didn’t tell you is that they were my cover story! The entire time, I was planning a surprise 30th birthday party for Russ and didn’t want him to know. I set up a bunch of other surprise dates so when the time came for the party, he wasn’t suspicious.

With the help of my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and a bunch of really good friends and family members, we threw an epic surprise party. Seriously, I’m just going to toot away at the horn here for a second, because it was so much fun. I had more fun at his party than I did at our wedding!

The Theme: Cheers & Beers to 30 Years

Cheers & Beers Surprise Birthday Party | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

Russell is an outdoorsy type, who really likes hiking, camping, and…beer. One of his fave brews is Sierra Nevada and the branding is perfect for what Russ likes – mountainous scenery. I took this as a theme and ran with it. His cake and the decorations were coordinated with both the outdoor theme and beer theme. We used chalkboard accents such as food/menu signs throughout the party, too. Then I used chalk on our deck to create a happy birthday banner.

I also found an awesome six-pack-themed party suite on Etsy (by LyonsPrints). We had the invites printed and a poster made, and then picked all of the other party decorations (like plates and streamers) by color scheme to match.

How To Plan A Surprise Party (when you live with the guest of honor!)

How to Throw Cheers & Beers Surprise Party | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

  1. Start early. I began planning in April and had the save the date out by early May for an August party. It helped to avoid the last-minute crunch of planning freakouts.
  2. Create a secret event on Facebook. Did you know you can do this? I made a private event, did not invite Russ, and he never saw all of his friends/family accepting and chatting. Private events don’t appear in the newsfeed unless you’ve been invited to them.
  3. Enlist help. I couldn’t have done the planning without my mother and sister-in-law. They made the food I couldn’t, helped mail the invites so Russell didn’t see, and helped set up the day of. One of Russell’s co-workers snuck invites to others. All of our family and friends helped in some way; every guest to the party brought a six pack. I never would have pulled it off without help.
  4. Buy/rent where you can, don’t DIY. The only reason this party actually worked is because I had it catered by a local grocery store chain. I didn’t even attempt to make food for 50+ people. Obviously, I had the budget to do this, so it was ok. But if you do have to make the food yourself, find a good friend who will let you use their kitchen and freezer prior to the party. It would have been too much to do the food myself since I live with Russ; he would have seen the food. I rented tables and chairs and paid a delivery fee, because even though I have a truck, I couldn’t load and unload alone.
  5. Have a cover story. And a back-up cover story. Here’s how the weekend went: Friday night, I took Russ to the drive-in, which is by the airport. After the first movie ended, I told him we had another surprise and to drive to the airport. Once there, we picked up his best friend from out of town. I then surprised Russ with a pedal-paddle adventure for him and Shayne to get them out of the house the next day. When they came home from that, the surprise party was on. So if you count, I had 3 surprises lined up just to cover up the actual surprise, which was the party! It was worth the extra effort.
  6. Scale it back. Russ doesn’t care about decorations; I do. I had a massive DIY list of crafts I wanted to tackle and in the end, I chose two or three and that was it. The people, the food, and the fun were the important parts. I had to talk myself off the ledge a few times and I’m glad I did. Russ loved everything I did, but what we both loved most was spending time with our friends and family. Sanity and time were both saved!
  7. Hide things in plain sight. I worked on a few crafty things right in front of Russell and told him that they were for other people’s parties – like an upcoming baptism. He believed me without question. (It helps if you don’t usually fib to your spouse and they trust you, ha).
  8. Enlist someone to take photos. I was on my feet all day, running around like a chicken with its head cut off.  I asked a friend to be in charge of photos and video and am so grateful – they caught moments I missed (we forgot to take photos; so did everyone else). These photos ended up being the only ones I have of the party!
  9. Buy thank you cards for the guest of honor. You just threw a party for someone, and now they have to write out a bunch of hand-written notes (which, let’s be honest, everyone hates doing) – oops. Make it easier by having thank you cards and stamps ready to go. Help fill them out. Do it as early as possible while you are still smiling at the memories you made and mean what you write in the card. It keeps the love going.
  10. Don’t forget the day after. Have food in the house, cold drinks, and a place to kick your feet up. We were exhausted the next day and didn’t want to do a single adult thing, like laundry. It kept the happy feeling going to have built-in, much needed R&R time. Also, there may be hangovers. Have Advil ready.

Cheers & Beers to 30 Years Surprise Party Gallery

Even though planning a surprise party for months while keeping it a secret from the person I live with was pretty hard to do, it somehow worked and was worth every stressful second. We had the most fun with ours friends and family…more fun than we had at our wedding, more fun than we’ve had in a long time. I was on a quest to recreate our #hssweetheartsummer and this party was the highlight. I feel closer to my family and friends, and closer to my husband. I wish I could do things like this for him all of the time, every day of the year. He deserves it. Every day should be a party!

Fall Decor Tour

I love fall for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to: the weather; sweater season; Halloween(!!); caramel apples everywhere; cinnamon candles; football (!!); and last, but in no way least…my orange couch looking like it finally belongs in all of its festive glory, haha.

Most of all, I love decorating for fall. I probably own more fall decorations than Christmas decorations, and my house smells like pumpkin and cinnamon continuously through December. Walking in the door from a long day at work and being greeted by that scent automatically makes me feel all cozy and relaxed inside.

I decorated two weeks ago and then redecorated this weekend because I wasn’t happy with my first round of choices. (I know, I know, type A). But I think I’ve finally settled on this year’s layout, so here we go – my fall 2016 decor tour.

(I like saying that because it rhymes).

Dining Room Fall Decorations

Dining Room Buffet

Fall Decor Tour | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

Fall Decor Tour | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

Our dining room is pretty neutral, but I have a few blue accents in the form of dishes and pottery. It’s rare to find autumn decorations that aren’t purely orange, so when I saw these cute little floral buckets at Michael’s, I picked up two. The cake stand was a bridal shower gift from my friend Laura…I love it so much that I keep it out all year round. The white pumpkin dish is from the Martha Stewart collection at Macy’s. I use it to hide candy and for gravy at Thanksgiving, haha. Russ calls it my gravy pumpkin. We’re a strange bunch.

Dining Room Table

Fall Decor Tour | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

Fall Decor Tour | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

The copper-colored glass pumpkin I bought recently at Pier1 Imports. The two silver mercury glass pumpkins I purchased last year at TJ Maxx. I’ll have to move these if I want to serve Thanksgiving dinner, but they’re pretty for now.

Fall Decor Tour | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

I went on a HomeGoods adventure over the weekend, where I found the above tablecloth (again, there’s blue in it! Winner winner, chicken dinner!) and table runner. I could freaking live in HomeGoods, man, it’s a dangerous place. I’m not really one for pure paisleys, so I have a hard time finding tablecloths that I really like. This one was folksy in my eyes, kind of woodsy, so even though it’s too long, I bought it anyways.

Fall Decor Tour | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

My favorite fall decorations are the glass pumpkins scattered throughout my house. I buy one or two every year. It started with our wedding and my quest to buy as many mercury glass things as I could find, but now it’s a thing. I plan on having a massive collection to donate to some poor unsuspecting soul once I’m dead.

The large, orange swirly glass pumpkin and the copper colored pumpkin came from Pier1 Imports; the silver mercury glass pumpkin came from TJ Maxx. The above picture was before I decorated…I just put everything I own on the dining room table and then decided which room of the house it should go in. I have a system. haha.

Living Room Fall Decorations

Fall Decor Tour | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

The above purple-looking (ok, it’s almost black here, but in real life, it’s purple)  pumpkin I made last year in a glass-blowing workshop. It was probably the neatest thing I’ve ever done in the city. The name of the studio is Vessel Glass, and they do all sorts of workshops throughout the year, including one for Christmas ornaments. I recommend going if you’re ever planning a trip to Pittsburgh. I bought the wreath at HomeGoods a few years ago and the other mercury glass items are my mantle decorations throughout the year.

I guess my taste is sort of spooky no matter the season.

Fall Decor Tour | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

And finally, this is where I’m sitting right now…on my orange couch, snuggling up to my two brand new Pottery Barn pumpkin pillows. The one on the right is actually a pillow cover, which I’ve recently discovered is the best of both worlds. I don’t get in trouble for adding more pillows to the couch, AND I get to swap out decorations seasonally.

There you have it! My cozy, little, pumpkin-everything fall decor tour. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to continue binge watching Longmire on Netflix before season 5 starts, while snuggled up in a blanket, with a candle burning nearby, eating autumn-colored peanut m&ms and pumpkin-shaped frozen Reese cups. #fallftw

2016 Ornament Wreaths

Custom Ornament Wreaths | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

It may only be September, but I am already getting started on the holiday crafting bonanza! I took inventory this past weekend; I have glittery gold, hot pink, blue, purple, and more ornaments in stock, just waiting to be put together for a custom ornament wreath.

The most popular request I receive is for rainbow ornament wreaths, which I consider my trademark. But I also get a lot of messages from folks who aren’t sure what they’d like. Keeping this in mind, when I took inventory I decided to put together a few ideas based on requests I’ve received.

This list is by no means comprehensive; as long as I have the colors, I’ll make you any custom ornament wreath you want!

Custom Ornament Wreaths | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

Rustic Woodlands: Mocha brown, gold, and copper are used to create a warm and cozy wreath. Sugarplum Fairy: Frosty purples and shiny silver imitate the classic holiday ballet.

Custom Ornament Wreaths | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

Whoville: A little Dr. Seuss inspiration – green, blue, and silver are used to create a happy winter wreath. Merry & Bright: A cheerful rainbow wreath, with sparkly blue, green, purple, pink, orange, and silver. You can substitute red for orange for a more traditional holiday feel.

Custom Ornament Wreaths | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

Traditional: Rich red and warm gold are used to create a timeless and classic wreath. Candy Cane: Calling Santa! Red and silver are used for a twist on the traditional Christmas wreath.

If you’re interested, get your orders in early. I always try to have the orders completed by Thanksgiving so that I have time to enjoy the holidays, too. If you do place a custom order and let me know that you found my Etsy shop via this blog, I’ll give you a coupon code for 10% off!

Check out my Etsy shop to get started. It’s never too early to start celebrating the holidays!

Saying Goodbye to My Roaring 20s with (subtle) Sunset Hair

I’ve wanted colorful hair my entire life. When I was a little kid, I used to hoard those Halloween colored-hair-spray-in-a-can contraptions that would turn your whole head (and your brush, bathroom, clothes, and lungs) hot pink. Arguably, the best time to experiment with wild hair color would have been high school or college, but I didn’t have a normal or easy experience with either of those due to one thing or another. Then I got my first corporate job where there was a strict dress code, so my dream of fun hair was put on hold – perhaps indefinitely.

But something has been happening to me and my mind lately…and it’s that my 30th birthday is looming. It’s got me feeling as old as the crypt keeper and also more confident in my own skin than I think I’ve ever been.

I didn’t have an easy childhood, so college should have been a blessing for me. I got away from the small town I grew up in and had a chance to start over, make my own name worth something. I worked my butt off and didn’t have nearly as much fun as I could have, because I didn’t really know how to – survival mode and all that.

And then…I got sick.

I was 20 when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease; 23 when I started my first full-time professional job and had my first chemotherapy infusion (the same week…don’t know how I ever did that); 24 when Russ and I got married and I was able to stop taking chemo treatments (woot!); 27 when I started my current job and then had my gallbladder out a week later (wow, what is it with me and starting jobs?!)…you get the picture.

My roaring 20s had nothing to do with finding myself, soul-searching, traveling the world, or anything else you’ll read about in self-help books and on lifestyle blogs – no, my 20s roared for entirely different, much more traumatizing reasons.

But I’m ok with that. Because I’m healthy now, and damn it, I’m not going to let a big birthday stop me from having a little bit of fun. Which is why I decided to finally take the plunge and have purple highlights placed in my very dark hair:

Brunette Purple Highlights | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

Ahhhhh!!!

I also had my stylist add bronzy/auburn, natural-toned peekaboo highlights throughout my hair to add more dimension. The purple streaks are only under my top layer of hair, allowing the color to peek through but not always be seen. I like the combined contrast of the purple and bronze – in some places, it looks like I have slightly pink highlights, too.

Placing Purple Highlights in Dark Hair | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

1st photo: This was my hair, post-bleach. The golden brown was about as light as we went. 2nd photo: It took 3 shampoos to get all of the purple dye out! See the purple suds? 3rd photo: My new purple highlighted hair in a car selfie, in low-light. You can see the tint of purple toward the bottom but it’s not as vibrant as it is in the sun.

I was at the salon for about 5 1/2 hours total, to have my hair bleached, washed, dried, toned with the bronze dye, toned with the purple dye, then washed (3 more times), dried, and styled. I have very dark, very thick, very course hair that takes a long time to process and dry, period, so your time in the chair will mostly likely be different. It was worth it for me. I love it!

Purple Peekaboo Highlights in Dark Hair | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

These pictures were taken in direct sunlight, and were not edited in any way.

Most of the pictures on Pinterest of purple highlighted hair are photoshopped. I wanted to show the fresh color in its un-edited form so anyone else out there can see real results. It’s hell for my poor stylist to have someone like me, with black hair, walk in asking for a pastel lavender that can only be achieved if I make my hair Elsa-levels of white first, thus destroying it in the process. The color looks vibrant and sparkly in natural sunlight, but you can barely see the purple when I’m indoors. It’s the exact kind of subtle I wanted – fun underneath for the weekends, but what I believe to still be professional enough for work.

I truly love it and feel that…maybe if my 20s weren’t the greatest, my 30s could be even better. I know it’s silly and maybe a little immature, but I’m not sure that I care. I wanted to do this for so long and I love the results. My hair turned out prettier than I ever thought it could, and I feel pretty with it.

Thank you to my stylist Alayna, who has always made my hair come out looking better than I could ever imagine, and to Be.Salon for making my sunset hair dreams come true. Thank you for helping me to feel…proud and happy to be me. I love my hair, and I like me. That’s a pretty cool thing to feel before 30.  :-)

Homemade Georgia Peach Jam

Do y’all remember about two months ago, when Russell and I bought 50 pounds of sweet Georgia peaches from The Peach Truck? We…erhm…severely overestimated our love for the fruit. And we had to do something with all of those peaches…

I made peach pies and took them to parties. We made peach pie filling and froze it by the gallon bagful. I gave away peaches by the dozen. I ate them straight up. But what I really wanted to do was make homemade jam.

Homemade Peach Jam | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

…And jam we made. Everyone, meet your Christmas stocking stuffers.

Russell and I enjoy canning – especially tomatoes from our garden because nothing makes a winter chili taste better than homegrown summer tomatoes. It’s an unexpected delight when it’s freezing outside. But I’ve never canned jam. As it turns out, it’s much harder to can tomatoes because of the whole nasty botulism thing; sugary-sweet jam is less terrifying to make, in my opinion.

I love my Ball Canning Cookbook, but I didn’t want to make jam with pectin as all of the recipes in the cookbook called for. These peaches were too delicious on their own to go adding more than the necessary ingredients. In the process of researching, I found my absolute favorite new food blog: Taste of Southern. If you love good old fashioned comfort food like I do, you must follow Steve.

I followed his step-by-step peach jam recipe to a T and we ended up with the best tasting peach jam I’ve ever had. Go on and check it out. You won’t regret it.

Homemade Peach Jam | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

As for me, I’m going to be eating peach jam until I turn into a peach. Which let’s face it, is my life goal anyways.

Summer Lovin: Peach Tasting Surprise Date

Bistro19 Peach Tasting | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

A few weeks ago, the hubs and I had another surprise summer date at my favorite local restaurant. Bistro19 is where my bridal shower was held, and where Russ and I celebrate every special occasion – each anniversary, birthday, even a good day at work because I don’t believe in looking very hard for reasons to celebrate, haha. The restaurant puts together special tasting menus throughout the year and we’ve always wanted to go, but never quite made it.

This time I put reservations in two months in advance and off we went on a Tuesday evening after work. I thought it was a proper way to spend an August night, eating four delicious courses of peach this and that. The food was incredible. Like an absolute idiot, I forgot to take pictures before we chowed down. But hey, I choose to live first and document life second. I won’t beat myself up too bad for that.

So here’s a cheesy picture of us, instead:

Summer Surprise Date | Life Is Sweet As A Peach

And holy cannoli, does that forsythia need to be trimmed. *le sigh*. Add it to “the list.”

Life has been pretty busy lately (there is a post coming soon about the ultimate summer surprise date – Russell’s surprise 30th party), so I suck at blogging, again. For example, I started this post…three weeks ago. It’s been sitting in the draft queue. I swear this happens every few months, then in my downtime, I get super inspired and start doing blog spirit fingers everywhere.

In retrospect, since summer is pretty much over now, I’m glad I put together these surprise dates. It really made us take pause and see each other in a new light. You have to date your spouse. You absolutely have to make time for it. It was worth the effort of secret planning and then of course, acting out all of the secret plans. There was something charming and silly and dare I say, puppy-love-esque about it all. High school sweetheart summer, indeed.

We are heading off for another adventure this weekend, in what was supposed to be the final surprise of the summer – and a farewell to the season, at that. Here’s to more feet on the dashboard and lovin’ all summer long.