Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry Christmas!


I'm sitting here at the computer today working through a software upgrade for work.  If you've never done a major software upgrade it's a lot of sitting and waiting and then spending five minutes testing something until you find the next thing that didn't work like it was supposed to and you then wait until that's fixed and start the cycle all over again.  Boring drudgery is what we call that.  Luckily, I'm not the poor person who has to fix all the stuff that's not quite working as anticipated so I'm getting to clean my desk, now I'm working on cleaning up my office area and I got my Christmas pictures processed! So, I'm sharing them with all of you.


Let's start with the story of these first two pictures - which won't be nearly as funny as it was to me in real life.  Dinner was over so we all headed to the living room for Lucas to unwrap his gifts and everyone else to get their gift cards (we're not much of a present family unless you are under about the age of six.)  He opened his gifts - which I'll show you in a second and then his Nana and I wanted to get a picture of him in front of the tree.  We told him to stand by the tree and he backed his little tush right up and just posed bigger than life...big cheesy cheese and all.  The first photo was from the first time he did it - at which point I laughed so hard because this boy is just so cute - that I wasn't sure when I looked at the picture if I actually got a good shot so we had him do it again - which he did.  I tried not to shake too hard while I laughed and snapped and ended up getting a good shot from each round!  I love that he enjoys making us laugh.


This is the other photo I'm most excited about - I've been trying to get a good picture of Lucas with his Great Grandma for - well nearly two years now.  Mom doesn't love having her picture taken and since Great Grandma is typically sitting still and Lucas is usually moving, getting the two in the same frame can be a challenge.  But, luckily, I went in the living room and grabbed a spot in the corner right after dinner.  As everyone came in mom took Lucas's hand to walk over to the Christmas tree and show him the Snoopy motorcycle toy that was in the tree for him.  I clicked off about 10 frames and got three good shots.  I'll keep trying for some great ones but happy to have at least a few with them in the same frame!


Lucas got snatched up by Auntie Ashley and snuggled for about 10 seconds before he was back off and running again.  Love the big smiles on all their faces. Ash and Matt got him a set of bib overalls which I can't wait to see him in.  

Lucas did great opening everything - from gift bags to presents.  I got him the toys to go with his train mat.  Great Grandma and Great Grandpa hit the kid pleasing jackpot though because they got him a tractor which definitely got the most love and attention.




Lucas has definitely mastered present unwrapping.  He had no hesitation with it at all.  He even helped me open my gift - a Lynn and Friends CD featuring Mrs. J! (Thanks for grabbing the shot Donna!)

As all the present unwrapping was winding up and everyone else went back to the kitchen to clean up dinner, Lucas and I grabbed a few more minutes to get some shots of him just being a silly almost two year old.  



Our whole Christmas Day was a wonderful day of family and friends so even though I didn't catch pictures of more than these few minutes, the whole day was joyful and a great opportunity to just relax and spend time together. I certainly hope you also had a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

FitBit Charge HR - 24 Hour Review

Hi everybody!  I got my new FitBit Charge HR yesterday morning and couldn't wait to get it out of the box and see how it looked and how it worked.  I thought I'd share my first impressions with you.

So, those of you that know me, know that I'm a gadget girl.  These last few months I've also been working super hard at healthy eating and getting plenty of exercise. One of the things I've realized I wanted was a heart rate monitor.  I've had a Fitbit Flex ever since they came out after killing not one, but two Fitbit One's with water/moisture damage.  I actually liked the One a little better than the Flex since the One recorded stairs climbed and in my opinion did a little better job tracking sleep.  That said, my Flex has been a durable power horse and using it has helped me hit my goal of 10,000 steps many days for the past couple of months.  However, when Fitbit announced they were adding a line of wearables that included Heart Rate monitoring I knew that would be my Christmas present to myself.

Officially, the Charge HR isn't available yet but I get on email on Sunday inviting me to order one early and get it really quickly.  Of course - I took them up on the offer and after a little weather induced delay for FedEx, the Charge HR arrived yesterday morning.  It came packaged as you see above and the "bit" itself is on a little plastic stand.

The first difference I noticed after taking it out of the box was the change in the format on the wristband.  The flex has two little plastic prongs that you push into holes on the band.  I always thought that looked a little stupid, but it was comfortable and the band didn't flop around.  The Charge HR has a much more traditional watch band style.  I have some more thoughts on the band and on sizing I'll share below.

Also in the box is the charging cable and the USB wireless sync gizmo (yes - that's the technical term) that you put in your computer to let it sync.

The charging cable is actually one of the things I am most excited about.  If the Charge is like my Flex, it will need to charge for a couple of hours once a week.  The way the Flex (my current fits in the charger has never been tight in any way and a couple of times I've put it on the charger before going to bed and come out the next morning to a dead Fitbit (womp, womp).  The Charge HR has a click in charger that actually locks tightly into the back of the Fitbit so - way to go Fitbit on fixing that design issue!

The charging cable plugs into that area with the two little dots close together on the back of the wristband.

Just like this. (I know - riveting product review - right!)

And you can see a little read out on the front showing you that it's charging!  Honestly - this is the very best part for me because charging my Flex has become far more stressful than recharging the battery on a device should be - hence my excitement.

If you have a Fitbit account already you have to set up this Fitbit with your account - or if you don't have a Fitbit yet you create your account.  It's simple and easy, but there was a note in the Fitbit Charge HR setup that I wish I would have known about before I ordered - and that's where you're supposed to wear the Fitbit - which is actually about a finger width back from your wrist bone (see the photo below for the diagram that comes up on the screen during setup).

My wrist is right at 6" at the wrist bone - which is in the sweet spot that is covered by both the small size band and the large size band.  If I'd known about where it was supposed to be worn (which is a little wider on me), I might have opted for the larger band.  That said, I've got more weight to lose so hopefully this will just get more comfortable and it's not uncomfortable to wear now - there just isn't much slack in it.

Okay, so we unpacked it, gave it a little go juice, set it up with our Fitbit account - now we get to use it.  I shot a quick little video to show you how it works - it's my first ever video product review.  I'll put some text below to tell you what the different features are in case you can't listen to the video at work and - of course - I'll give a little more detail about some of them.

There is just one little button on the side that you use to activate and toggle through the different views.  In order, they are:
  • Clock
  • Steps walked
  • Heart rate
  • Distance traveled
  • Calories burned
  • Stairs climbed
The Heart Rate takes about a half second to register each time that you activate it.  Once during my workout this morning (I'll talk about workout mode below) it actually didn't show my heart rate so I'll have to see if that trend continues.

The Fitbit family has always tracked sleep, although it's not one of those things I tend to stress about tracking too much.  That said, I wondered how this one would track that since I didn't know how to "activate" sleep mode - and it appears - you don't have to.  I woke up this morning to an IFTTT alert on my phone that it had logged three and a half hours of sleep! (Darn you NCIS:LA for keeping me up so late - but you were an excellent episode!)

Sleep also gets recorded in the app (or on the web site) just like normal.  This was my sleep graph from last night.

One last note on sleep - while I was sitting here writing this - my Fitbit was just laying on my desk (from post video filming) and it logged that time as sleep - so there are some bugs in that feature.  I'm guessing it's going to look like I take a nap every day about this time since I'll remove the Fitbit to shower.  So...perhaps more work to do there for their designers and engineers.

Personally, I'm so excited to have stairs climbed back again!  Seriously - I'm shooting for 20 flights today!  I heard today (at Jazzercise this morning since that's the only place I've been so early today) that you burn 15 calories every time you walk up a flight of stairs. Hi - my name is Kara - I will climb stairs for chocolate!  I didn't realize just how much I missed having that feature until I got it back.

Let's talk about workout mode for a few minutes which is also quite awesome - and made me actually notice all the info hidden about exercise in the app.  I used it this morning in my Jazzercise class.  To activate workout mode on the Charge HR, just hold in the little button for three seconds until a little clock appears.  When you finish your workout just hold it in again for three seconds until the little finish line flag appears.  During the workout you only have to click once to get elapsed time and a second time to get Heart Rate.  I got really comfortable just double clicking the little button this morning to go right to heart rate.

At the end of the workout  I checked the Exercise area of the app.  Here's what you get.

The first screen is the calendar screen showing all your workouts.  You can see I've been recording my classes using the default Jazzercise in MyFitnessPal but today's workout recorded automatically from the Charge HR! (And never mind what happened to my workouts during Thanksgiving week - ugh!  I did work out last Friday though so I'll have to figure out why that's not appearing.

Notice the five little dots under the calendar - that means there are more screens so a quick swipe to the left gives you workout duration by day.

The next swipe over gives you distance by day - obviously doing Jazzercise I wasn't logging this and don't know that this one is particularly useful for me.  

This is a good place to point out the little stop watch icon in the upper right corner.  I'll be honest - I had never clicked over to the Exercise graphs before today so I don't know if this has always been there and I just didn't realize it or if the app has updated recently since they've come out with these new devices.  Anyway, in the exercise graphs there is another "hidden" feature of the app.  Tapping the stopwatch icon takes you into a route tracker!  Here's a quick screen grab of that. Notice that you can choose between run, walk, or hike.  There are also audio cues.  I've used RunKeeper before when I'm doing a 5K but may have to try this one out the next time to see how it works.

Going back to our exercise screens - because we've got two more (!!!) - and they saved the best for last (okay - really for fourth because this one is the one I'm most excited about).  This one shows you exercise by Heart Rate Zone and total minutes in each zone by day.  I've not dug into all the best rates for this and what's good and what's great, etc - but I know this is super useful and I'm excited to see this.  I also apparently need to push myself a little harder and get my heart rate into that peak zone a bit.

The last screen is calories burned by day.  I'll be interested to see what this pattern looks like after a consistent month of classes because I know the days I think I work harder in class (and the instructors that push you harder) but it will be interesting to see if that's really true.

So, there you have it - the Fitbit Charge HR!  There are also use and care tips that you get a link to when you do the set up. I did switch it to my other arm to sleep last night and will probably keep doing that.  It is quite an investment so do make sure you read these and take good care of your device if you choose to buy one.

There is one other feature which I didn't demo or grab a picture of but I have tested it once and it does work - and in fact all three of the new Fitbits - the Charge, the Charge HR (the one I got) and the Surge have this feature - and that's caller ID if you sync it with your phone.  I wasn't sure I cared about this feature but my phone is always on either vibrate or silent and if it's in my bag when I'm shopping or running errands this may come in handy as the wristband vibrates and displays the name of the caller.  I'll put this one in the heated seats category.  I didn't think I needed it until I got it - now that I have it I'll probably never be able to go back. Darn you Fitbit!

The Charge HR's aren't available to everyone yet but you can sign up on Fitbit's web site to get notified when they are available.  They have the Charge available now as well as the Flex, One, and Zip.  If you want Heart Rate monitoring though - wait for the Charge HR.

One last note - I'm doing Cathy Zielske's awesome class Move More, Eat Well Jumpstart over at Big Picture Classes again in January. This is my fourth time through one of Cathy's Move More, Eat Well classes and I can honestly tell you that for me - that has been the secret sauce to finally getting my act together with health and fitness (well that and accountability partners).  I have a post planned for later this month to talk about my progress, but I am amazed at how deflated people are when they ask me what I'm doing to get fit and I say moving more and eating well - that is the magic bullet - there isn't a pill or something else that will do it - and I think that depresses people.  Anyway...that's for another post...back to Cathy's class.  The class mixes a bit of scrapbooking with a huge dose of inspiration and encouragement from Cathy - and honestly - I've never completed the album projects but I always get more out of this class than any other I've taken at BPC so I highly recommend it.  There is an awesome private Facebook group as well that's already providing loads of encouragement to get through the holidays without giving up all these good habits.  

Do you use a Fitness tracker?  Which one?  Share in the comments what you think about these cool little gadgets - is it overkill or access to good data that helps you get even healthier?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Stenciled Mugs!

Today I'm honored to be doing a Guest Post over on Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's Blog.  Julie is featuring different artists and crafters and how they use stencils in all sorts of different ways.  This was my contribution! I've been a fan of Julie's for several years now and her work has inspired several posts here on my blog like this one about my color wheel, these two (#1 and #2) about rubber stamping and several posts about my time in her 30 Days In Your Journal class. If you're a regular reader of my blog (Hi Dad!) please check out Julie's site.  If you're a regular reader of Julie's site - welcome.  Pop back on 12/12 when I'll have an exciting winter project announcement!

Hi everyone.  I’m Kara Monroe.  I’m so excited to be here – thanks to Julie for allowing me and all of the other guest bloggers to be here – I’ve loved reading about and seeing all the amazing ways folks use their stencils and all the gorgeous art that’s being created.  I have a super simple crafty art project to share with you that if you’ve been on Pinterest (who isn’t these days?) you’ve probably seen – and I’m adding a stencil-y twist.  We’re going to stencil mugs!

I love projects that are quick and that allow you to customize something to perfectly meet your needs. These make a great gift and can also be used as decoration/home d├ęcor.  For Christmas, you might drop in a Starbucks gift card or add a jar of hot chocolate mix in a small basket. 

So, the first thing you need to do is gather supplies.  The great thing about this project is that the cheaper the mug you use – the better!  After you draw/stencil on the mug you’re going to bake the mug.  The glaze on the mug “melts” during that process and the ink or paint from your pen melds with it.  So, head to the dollar store or Wal-Mart and find their open stock ceramic mugs and grab a couple – or 10! You could also do this on bowls, plates, etc. but Sharpies are NOT food safe so keep that in mind – don’t decorate an area that will later hold food or liquid. 

In addition to your mug (or other vessel), you’re going to need the stencils or masks that you want to use, some rubbing alcohol (I used little prep wipes), some masking tape to hold the stencil in place, and your Sharpie paint pens – oil based ones, the water based tend to wash right off in my experience.  While it’s not required, I also think it’s easiest to also have regular sharpies in the same colors as your paint pens – I’ll explain why in a minute. I also keep a piece of scrap paper nearby so I can get my paint pen flowing smoothly before I touch my mug.

Figure out where and how you want to place your design.  If you’re designing a mug for a lefty and you’re a righty – don’t forget that they may want the handle on the opposite side that you do – and vice versa! Clean the area you plan to decorate with the rubbing alcohol and let it dry. 

Next, you want to tape your stencil in position on the mug.  I usually find this to be the step that can be the most challenging – especially if you’re using a mug that has a rounded surface.  Use masking tape to adhere the mug to the surface.  Take the extra time to get the stencil positioned exactly where you want it and make sure it’s as straight or as crooked as you want!  I used Julie’s Mini Flower Quarter stencil for this one.    

The hard part’s over – and now it’s time for fun – and my first tip.  Don’t trace your design with the paint marker.  Trace around the design with a regular Sharpie in the same color as the paint marker(s) you’re going to use.  If you try to trace the stencil with the paint pen the paint will just bleed everywhere.  After you’ve traced the design you can remove the tape and the stencil.  Your mug should now have clear lines you can color in. 

And now – color! This is where your creativity can really take flight.  For this mug I really just wanted sparkle so the more silver the better.  If you want to vary the thickness of lines you can use regular sharpies to give you thinner lines and then the paint markers to fill in larger sections – that would give you a lot of different design options – and the regular sharpies will hold right along with the paint pen – I just find they don’t hold up to a dishwasher as well.  I’ve also done a couple where I filled areas with dots, hashes, and other pattern so you don’t have to use all solid color.  This is the part where you get to get creative.  Just be sure to get your paint pen flowing well on your scrap paper before you start to draw on your mug.

You can also add lettering if you want.  I chose just to add the simple word Joy to this mug for the holiday season.  You could add different colors, add other little doodles or drawings of your own – anything you want.  Be a minimalist or go crazy – it’s up to you!  Just don’t forget to sign your work (I tend to sign on the bottom.)

Let the paint dry – I tend to let it dry overnight but you certainly don’t have to wait that long – 20 minutes is probably more than enough. Put your mug or mugs on a baking sheet and place in a cold oven.  Turn the oven on to 425 degrees.  Once the oven reaches 425 you need to let the mugs bake for about 30 minutes.  Watch them and if they start to brown on you, turn off the oven immediately.  Otherwise, you can let them back for up to 40 minutes but 30 works for me.  I turn the oven off at 30 minutes and then let them cool for several hours (or overnight – which is what I usually do).  Ovens vary a lot and if you read all the different versions of this project on Pinterest you’ll find loads of different instructions for baking so if my instructions don’t work for you it may be that you need to adjust and use a lower temperature for a longer time.

An additional tip – if you make a mistake, both regular Sharpies and the Sharpie paint markers will wipe off with rubbing alcohol if you get to them quickly.  That’s one of the reasons I like those little prep pads – I can work in a smaller space with those.  A Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol would also be great if you wanted to get super detailed.  You can see below that the mistake inside the S is cleaned up.

What a great way to celebrate the weekend than drinking out of a mug commemorating it!

Ceramic Mug
Your favorite Balzer stencil
Sharpies in desired colors
Sharpie Paint Markers in desired colors
Masking Tape
Rubbing Alcohol
Scrap Paper

I hope this inspired you to do some of those cool projects that you’ve seen – whether on Pinterest or something else.  It’s great to see the inspiration but it’s even better to act on it.  My friends regularly send me pins to make for them because I don’t just Pin – I do!


My name is Kara Monroe.  I started my blog – I Wanna Be Me When I Grow Up – to share all about how I explore and enjoy life.  I love sharing about what I’m cooking, crafting, and photographing online.  I’ve been crafting since I was a little girl – sitting in my grandma’s sewing room making things with pins and beads or left over fabric scraps.  That early start fed over into a love of crochet and cross stitch.  I added in scrapbooking and photography somewhere in the middle and continue to cultivate a lifelong passion for cooking that I got from my mom.  In the last few years I’ve started trying my hand at more artistic things like drawing and painting.  I regularly share on Instagram and my Blog.  When I’m not working or crafting I’m hanging with family and friends or writing about technology or traveling to far off places!  I’d love to connect with you.
Online Links:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


I spent the week of Thanksgiving with mom and dad.  We had our family dinner on Wednesday night this year which meant I spent all day on Thursday in pajamas, watching the parade and eating leftovers!!!

There were a lot of highlights in the week like spending time with dad each morning as we drove Lindsay to the vet (a little problem with her paw - nothing major), cooking with mom, lunch with my friend Diana, and breakfast with my Aunt Idris - but of course family dinner was the biggest highlight. That meant time with all the kids (except Matt who had to work).  I even got to feel baby Lauren kick!

I managed to grab a few photos of Lucas that I loved.  He's talking so much and so social - he interacted with anyone who asked for a few minutes of his time! He walked right up to his Great Grandpa and shared some obviously serious information about his tractor.

Check it out Great Grandpa

Uncle Aaron (or just Uncle if you're Lucas) is always good for laughs, tickles, and lots of giggles.  Not sure what they were being so serious about here though - especially since everyone else seems to be laughing and smiling.

All Business

Auntie Ashley and I both got some time with him watching Minnie Mouse as well as learning all about tractors on YouTube (seriously...type in Tractors for Toddlers on YouTube - hours of entertainment if you're 22 months old - who knew?!)

Watching Tractors for Toddlers on YouTube

Lucas and his beautiful mama blowing on dinner to make sure it's cool enough for little mouths to enjoy.  He's going through a "dip everything in sour cream" phase - which I think might have something to do with his adoration of his Uncle Aaron.  The sweetest part of dinner was Amanda singing wheels on the bus while Lucas helps with all the motions.  He especially likes the "click-click-click" of the seat belt buckle.


He continues to be the most amazing little boy.  It was great to get to share a meal and more importantly, conversation and laughter, with all of the family.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Give Me My Flowers...

Give me my flowers before I die.
Say all those things you've been meaning to say but you're holding inside.
Don't wait till it's too late and the parade has gone by.
- Opening Lyrics of Give Me My Flowers by Pat Murphy and Tim Clark
which I had the privilege of hearing sung by "Up with People" in Richmond, IN, Fall 1991

When I was in high school, we had the opportunity to host a student traveling with the musical group "Up With People" for a few days.  We saw their show and I still remember part of the lyrics to their opening song - and the song quoted above.  

I don't know why that song stuck with me.  The words might not seem uplifting to some people - but to me - they always have been.  The words are, to me, about showing gratitude and kindness and telling people what they mean to you and saying the things to them that you want to make sure they know and hear - directly from you.  

I have a lot of flowers in the house right now - between Ashley's wedding centerpieces - a few of which made it home with me, the flowers I got from my friend Jill on my birthday or my orchids - of which two are currently blooming nicely - so I knew last night was going to have to include a floral photo shoot.

But then yesterday afternoon I was working on my brainstorming list for Me: The Abridged Version - a memory keeping class I'm taking (and vowing to complete) over at Big Picture Classes - and something came to me.  Before I can tell you what that was, I should tell you a little about the class.  The goal of the class is to create a scrapbook with entries about yourself for every letter of the alphabet. You can also do the album about another person or a couple...the themes are Me, You, and Us...I just decided it would be a good marker here as I start my 40th year to create, as our teacher - the amazing Cathy Zielske calls it - "a time capsule of who I am right now".  

So, if I'm creating a time capsule of who I am right now, that should include one or two - or ten - or twenty stories from my friends, my family, or perhaps a friend I haven't yet met who happens to stumble on and read my blog.  So - and if you've made it this far - you must love me - what came to me is to ask you for input. I'm asking you my readers to share a quote, a word, a phrase, a story, or a moment that makes you think of me  or that you think describes me - starting with any letter of the alsphabet.  In short - what would you put in a time capsule about me right now?  If you have something to share you can put it in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram - or you can even drop a note in email - or dare I even say snail mail still gets delivered to my house nearly every day.

If you don't know me well enough to offer me insight - or just can't think of anything you want to share - that's okay too.  I encourage you instead to take this as a nudge from the universe to share something special with someone else who isn't expecting it (or asking in a public plea for inspiration ;-)  I always think of fall as a time for gratitude and kindness so give someone the flowers (literal or figurative) you've been thinking about giving them!

Big Picture Classes

P.S: If you want to join me in Cathy's class the link in the text above is a referral link. You can also use referral code 49E317F3 at check out.  If you do - we both get 10% off our next class after you sign up.  If you don't like referral links that's completely okay - just head over to - the class is called Me: The Abridged Version.  Registration is open until October 15.  If now isn't a good time, the great thing about Big Picture is you get forever access so you can purchase the class now while it's available and then come back and do the album at any time that works for you.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I have a new nephew!

I have a new nephew!  He's in his 30's and is now, officially, the tallest member of our family.  But, as of yesterday afternoon at about 4:15, Matt Bailey is now officially a member of the family.  "My babies" now number 8 in total (Taylor and Dustin aren't pictured).  From left, Steve and Amanda, Andrew, Matt, Ashley, and Aaron.

I've never been blessed with kids of my own, but being an Aunt is the next best thing - and may be the very best thing - since I didn't have to pay for their tuition and I could hype them up on sugar and send them home (You're welcome siblings!)  I can't tell you how much I love each and every one of them.  Each of you holds a little piece of my heart - and Matt that now includes you too.

And now for a wedding story...

I had the privilege of serving as rehearsal day photographer and, as Matt's aunts from New York called it, the "day of" coordinator.  No wedding run up or day of is perfect, but Ashley and Matt's came blissfully close.

Several of the girls got their nails done in Richmond on Friday afternoon.  Ashley and her lifetime BFF (and by lifetime...I mean literally as they share a birthday) Audrey Alice shared a few laughs as Ashley got some of the last stress and tension out.

That evening we had the rehearsal followed by a beautiful dinner hosted by Matt's parents Cliff and Dianne at Olde Richmond Inn.

One of those "not so perfects" - we have no idea where Ashley's bow bouquet went so she's carrying a flower from her mama.  My guess...we'll find that bow bouquet about midweek ;-)  As I reminded Ashley a couple of times - the only thing that really mattered was that she and Matt actually got married and that they made their flight for their honeymoon.  Both were accomplished absolutely successfully!

She cried her first time down the aisle with her dad but held it together for their brief second run through.  Wedding day - there were a few more tears.

Amanda did a beautiful job reading 1 Corinthians 13 and Andrew read a beautiful poem.

A pic of Ashley's new family and their friends - it was great to get to know the Bailey's better.  What a wonderful family!

Another of my favorite shots from my camera this weekend - Ashley with her Grandma and Grandpa.

And, of course, the Lewis family.

After the dinner, we all slept for a few minutes (or at least that's what it felt like) and then it was time for wedding day. Their reception was held at beautiful J & J Winery in Richmond. And, for nearly mid October, it was an absolutely perfect day! I had the pleasure of setting up with much of Ashley's new family and a few of the guys and remembered to grab a few shots before I left.

All done and just waiting for the "twig vases".

Ash's father-in-law, Cliff, made awesome place card holders for the receiving table as well as cornhole games (which were set out in the photo below, but I forgot to get a close up of) and her cupcake stands.


A coworker of Matt's produced the honey that served as their guest favors - so cute!

One of my favorite parts of weddings - and all the family time they provide - are the little things that each person does to make them special.  Some of the twigs for the vases were gathered one Saturday by me and several friends at a volunteer event here in Indy and then several more were just picked up at random from mom and dad's yard at the Meadow.

And the little baby pumpkins were grown by Ashley's grandpa Frank from seeds I bought the day they moved into their new house all the way back in March when Ashley and Matt were talking about their fall themed wedding which seemed so far away then.  Takes a while to grow sweet little pumpkins to sit all around the reception - as well as some bigger white pumpkins that added even more decoration.

How cute! (The table number pumpkins were provided by the florist since they were all a standard size and a little easier for her to work with - cute! - and we had the privilege today of sharing many of those with a local nursing home to help brighten it up and bring in some pretty fall colors!)

After all the setup - it was time for the wedding and the reception.  Ashley and Matt had a wonderful photographer and videographer for the wedding so I just grabbed a few shots with my cell phone. Can't wait to see the thousands of frames they shot!

The rings!

Lucas was an absolute angel during the ceremony and seemed to love both flipping through the hymnal and watching all the happenings at the front of the church.  He's been feeling under the weather all week so it was so good to get to see him - even if only for a little while as he went off to his Grandma and Grandpa Stout following the ceremony so his mommy and daddy could relax at the reception.

The kiss! 

The reception "guest book" - a tree hand drawn by Ashley's dad Jim - that folks stamped their thumb print on and then signed.  So cute.

Weddings aren't completely about the bride and groom - they are also about all the family time and time to reconnect with friends.  My nephew Aaron grabbed this three generation selfie - which I think is adorable!

What a beautiful day!  This group keeps getting bigger and they're having babies of their own now. I still love them more every single second that they are in my life.

Ashley and Matt - I hope your wedding day was everything you dreamed.  I'm so happy for you!
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