Tuesday, December 31, 2013

TO 2013, WITH LOVE


It may be because I'm an emotional person to begin with, but I love New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Don't get me wrong, I love to wear sparkles and curl my hair and dance the night away, but to me, that's not the part that is the most special. I love these two days of the year because they are a turning point - a new beginning. 

Today, on December 31, 2013, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I have a beautiful life and 2013 has graced me with more blessings than I can count. I distinctly remember last year on this day feeling like 2013 was going to be the best year yet, and it really was. I have so much love in my life and I cannot express my gratitude enough. 

With this sense of peace and contentment, I want to take a moment to look back on this wonderful year and relive all of the gifts I was given, the struggles I muddled through, and the tears I cried from laughing so hard. 

Tomorrow will be a day for new beginnings.

Today is a day for sweet memories.

Thank you 2013 for a wonderful year. You surprised me in ways I couldn't have predicted and brought me more love than I thought I deserved. What a beautiful year you were!

January
With an amazing new roommate
Purchased myself a new laptop (first since college!)
Said goodbye to 1997 and bought a new car (HUUUGE 'big girl' purchase for me)

February


March

April

May

June
Had a Summer BBQ


July

August
Found a yoga studio I love


September
Went back to zumba
Grandpa moved into his new apartment

October
Attended Daniel's Christening


November
Took film editing training in NYC
Met my soon-to-be extended family in Florida for Thanksgiving
Had Fakesgiving at home

December
Booked a venue
Celebrated Christmas with Mom
And Christmas with Dad
Joyfully relived 2013



2013 you were a delight. Thank you.

Monday, December 23, 2013

TWAS TWO DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS



Twas two days before Christmas and stuck here at work,
Maureen was still stewing, she felt like a jerk.

"How could I be so behind this year?" she was thinking.
"No wrapping, no boxes, no labels with inking!
I've been so busy shopping but not ready yet,
For each present is purchased but, wrapped... man, forget!"

There she sat and she scowled while her muffin she chewed,
Loading the car in the rain, now she looked like a dude.
"Why bother?!" said she as she muscled her hair.
With the rain and the wind, she no longer cared.

But just then as she stared blankly right into space,
God put a thought in her heart and a smile on her face.
"My presents are ballin' that can't be denied,
But Christmas is really about what's inside!"

Newly committed to the thought of spreading good cheer,
Maureen found the love she'd been craving all year.
Her thoughts drifted to her brand new fiancé,
He made her laugh so hard when he danced like Beyonce.

And Mom, Kev, Kathy, Mr. Lee, Grandpa to boot,
They were all more exciting than any Christmas loot.
The Delahuntys and Goldmans would all share a meal,
And Maureen would stuff herself silly, she already could feel

A food baby starting in anticipatory joy,
And heck, after Christmas she'd see Rachels' new baby boy.
She'd hug Dad and Patti and kiss Julia's sweet cheeks.
Her heart would be so full, she'd feel love for weeks.

Coming back to reality, she felt a soft tear
And realized with gratitude Who had brought her here.
"Thank you Lord," she prayed (quite softly while crying),
"For reminding me that Christmas is not about buying

All the gifts in the world but rather to remember
The people you hold dear through your life in December.
Thank you for Your son, and the promise of heaven,
For my family and friends, and Lord even for Kevin.

Just kidding, he knows that I love him, don't worry.
But seriously, thank you for calming my flurry.
I am blessed beyond measure and I'll strive to make clear
That each day is a blessing and year upon year,

I will cherish each Christmas and while I give presents,
I'll make sure I don't get so stressed I turn into a menace."
Blessing herself, she looked and saw the rain shimmer
And she felt with her gratitude the most subtle glimmer

Of hope that her loved ones would feel this joy too.
Merry Christmas to all, may your love for mankind be ever made new.

Friday, December 20, 2013

THE BEST PUMPKIN BREAD


Today is the day! Pumpkin muffins day in the office! 

Can you tell that I'm a little excited?

Every year at Christmas I like to do something nice for my colleagues at work. After all, I spend 40+ hours a week with them... they are a huge part of my daily life. Because it's crazy to think about buying presents for my whole office, I opt to bake. I love this tradition I've created for myself because it is one of the main things that puts me in the holiday spirit. 

Baking to me is personal. With each gift I whip up in the kitchen I get to say, "I spent time making this just for you." And that makes me super happy. The holidays are about people more so than about presents and for me, this is a great way to remember that. 

When I was planning my baking extravaganza this year, I decided to make my favorite FAVORITE pumpkin bread recipe in the form of muffins to hand out at work. I mentioned that I earned the name Pumpkin Girl from this recipe, so it seemed like the obvious choice. 

After turning my beloved pumpkin into fresh pumpkin puree, I turned on some One Tree Hill and set to work in the kitchen last night making each muffin with love (and green sprinkles!).


To make the muffins even more special. I used these adorable, personalized labels from Tiny Prints on each muffin. It was so easy to design them on the Tiny Prints site and even easier to stick them on each baggie. I will definitely be using this idea again as I'm already getting compliments around the office on my gift. It was easy as pie to make them and they totally boost up the level of holiday cheer. Eeee!

So that brings me to you my dear readers. 2013 has blessed me beyond measure and one of my greatest accomplishments this year has been starting this blog. She is Moments is my home away from home and I love sharing my life, joys, and even my struggles with you. Thank you for reading and for each and every comment. I love hearing from you and your support means so much. 

I really wanted to give you something this Christmas too and after spending some time thinking about a possible giveaway, I came up with an even better idea: I will give you my favorite recipe.


I have not shared this pumpkin bread recipe before - and how silly! If I love it so much, I should share it with everyone I know.

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this recipe and I wish you a very merry Christmas.



Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread (or muffins)
Makes 4-5 dozen muffins (depending on how large you want them) or 2 loaves
Adapted from this recipe.
Labels c/o Tiny Prints

Ingredients
1 cup real butter (salted)
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
4 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2/3 cup water
2 cups real pumpkin (from a pumpkin... this is my secret ingredient!)
1 regular-sized bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions
1. Mix wet ingredients with electric beaters in a large bowl - butter, sugar, and eggs. Note: The other ingredients will eventually be added to this bowl, so this one is the biggest you'll need.
2. Put all the dry ingredients into a separate, large-ish bowl and mix lightly with a spoon - flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves.
3. Add half of the dry ingredients, 1/3 cup water and 1 cup of the pumpkin to the wet mixture and beat it together.
4. When that is mixed, add the rest of the dry ingredients, the last 1/3 cup of water and the remaining 1 cup of pumpkin and beat till completely combined.
5. Stir in the chocolate chips (whole bag!) with a spoon.
6. Pour into lined muffin tins or greased loaf pans and bake at 350.
7. Bake muffins for 15-18 minutes. Bake loaves for 45min to an hour. 



And for the gluten-free in the office. :)
Don't worry, I ate their muffins!



Monday, December 16, 2013

PUMPKIN FROM SCRATCH

Ok everyone, it's time to share my MOST FAVORITE RECIPE OF ALL TIME. Seriously. I love it. I even garnered a nickname from making this recipe. When I was still working in consulting, my senior manager dubbed me Pumpkin Girl and to this day my old work team still calls me that.

Pumpkin Girl is a badge of honor I was given for my pumpkin chocolate chip muffins made from a real pumpkin and I wear it proudly. So, when I was invited to my old team's holiday party, I knew immediately what I had to make. 

The muffins were a hit and I was so elated when my former coworkers (turned friends) scarfed them down with joy!

After two years of making these little babies, I'm so excited to share the recipe with you. As it's a process to turn a pumpkin into a delicious treat, this post will be a two-parter. So let's start at the very beginning shall we?

So you've got yourself a pumpkin...


Josh bought this little (read: not so little) guy for me just before Halloween but since we were too lazy to carve him this year, I saved him to be muffins. 

You may be wondering (like my roommate and fiance) if the pumpkin would be bad after two months. The answer is no - he was just fine! The trick is that I kept the pumpkin inside and never cut it. So no animals chewed on it, it was in a temperate location, and no air permeated the skin. If you are ever worried if it's bad, when you cut it open, you will know. If you see mold, throw it out. If it looks funny, throw it out. But it won't, so you won't have to. :)

Step 1: Wash the outside of the pumpkin.

Step 2: Pre-heat the oven to 420.

Step 3: Cut up the pumpkin.



Step 4: Scoop out the insides and throw away. (Or save to bake seeds later.)


Step 5: Line baking sheets with foil or parchment paper.

Step 6: Plop on the pumpkin pieces and bake for roughly 30-45 minutes. (This is not an exact science, you can flip them over if they are getting to crispy but you want them to be able to be soft when you test it with a fork. If it's mushy, it's done.)


Step 7: Let them cool. (Do this. I almost never do. And I almost always burn myself.)


Step 8. Scoop out the insides and toss the skins.


Step 9. Beat it. 


Step 10: Use in your recipe or freeze. (It will stay good for freakin ever in the freezer. I like to freeze mine in specific measurements so next time I bake I can take out exactly what I need.)


Happy Pumpkining!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

SANTA, I KNOW HIM


I haven't watched Elf yet this holiday season, but for those of you who got the reference from the post title - A+. 

I haven't wrapped a single present yet, the part of the tree that made it too tall is still awkwardly in my living room, I haven't done laundry in weeks (don't worry I have a lot of clothes), I don't even know what the word 'gym' means, and I don't care! I'm so excited for this holiday season and Christmas is almost here!

This year is going to be an exciting one as Josh and I will be able to start really celebrating as a couple. We are sending joint Christmas cards, and we are going to try to go to mass together on Christmas Eve in the chapel where we will be married next year. It's crazy town. But it's awesome. 

In years past I've become very stressed out about presents and wrapping and 'getting it all done.' But I am here to remind you (and myself) that it always gets done. There hasn't been a year that Christmas didn't come. So just remember that and try to enjoy the frenzy of holiday parties, baked goods, and wrapping paper. Because it's fun. 

Last week, Josh, my mom, Aunt Celeste, Liam and I went to Grandpa's Christmas party at his retirement home. If you can't tell from the pictures, we had a blast. And we certainly gave Santa a workout. ;)

To me, this is what Christmas is about - making memories with the people you love. 




Thursday, December 12, 2013

I JUST KNOW

Everyone stop what you are doing and watch this video immediately. This is my littlest cousin and he is a wise, wise sage. Also, let's talk about how he is now a vlogger... :)

Just some wise words of his below. I'm thinking they are my new life anthem. Although I guess I missed the boat about getting married in college. haha. 
Ok. 

This is me here again
I just know.
I'm gonna get married.
Ok. When I'm in college, I'm just gonna get married. 
...
When I get married, it's gonna be awesome.
Nope it's not gonna be awesome actually.
Because when I get married I'm going to have to do lots of stuff and make kisses all the time.
... 
But when I get kissed, 
It's gonna be hard work.
Hard haaaaard work.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE CHILI

Guys, the holidays are here in D.C.!




Right now, I'm on my lunch break from work, my roommate and I are sitting in pjs at our kitchen table. Picture laptops, christmas music, evergreen candles, our pretty little tree, and soft snow falling outside of the window. Yep that's right, it's lovely in here.

Now that it's finally feeling like Christmas and snow is dusting everything I can see, I wanted to share my new favorite chili recipe with you.

Josh and I made this stunner for our parents when we hosted them for dinner a few weeks ago to talk about wedding venues. It was SO EASY and SO GOOD. And even better, you can put it all into a crockpot and then call it a day, watch Love Actually + White Christmas for a movie marathon and when you're done it's done. Winning.

Before I get into the recipe I also wanted to share a little love update. Josh and I are happily progressing in our wedding planning and now that we have the date and the venue other wonderful things are starting to fall into place. We have a DJ, photographer and florist that we are really excited about and I'm starting to really build my vision for our wedding over here too.

Now I just need Josh to create his own Pinterest board. :)

ALSO our engagement (I'm crying just thinking about it) was featured on Traci J. Brooks Photography as well as Capitol Romance! I cannot even begin to thank Bree and Traci for this wonderful honor. It still feels like a bit of a dream in these parts so seeing our story reach others makes it more real and if you can imagine it, even more happy.

Stay warm out there and as always, please feel free to share wedding, cooking, and holiday tips.

Baby It's Cold Outside Chili
(based on this recipe)
Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 giant onion, diced
  • 1 normal-sized red pepper, diced
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef (we got the good stuff at Whole Foods and it made a huge difference)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (to top)
  • Sour cream (to top)

Instructions:
  • Throw the oil, onions, pepper, salt, and garlic into a frying pan and simmer until they are soft. ~10min.
  • Then throw in the chili powder and cumin and mix for a minute or two.
  • Add the ground beef and cook until it's no longer pink at all. ~10 min.
  • Pour the frying pan mixture into the slow cooker. 
  • Add everything else except the toppings (cheese, sour cream)
  • Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.
  • Add toppings if you want.
  • Eat it and sing Christmas carols. But not with your mouth full. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

WHITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in my apartment! Katie and I put up our Christmas tree last week and could not love it more. My Dad and Patti let us use their tree and all of their ornaments. It's just so pretty.



And what better to go with a Christmas tree then some delicious white chocolate mousse for dessert?!

This week I'll be sharing some delicious recipes that would be perfect for any holiday party. This white chocolate mousse is one of my favorite things to make. 

Josh and I had dinner and game night with our friends Maggie and Elijah on Friday and this dessert was requested. :)

It's super easy and tastes great!


White Chocolate Mousse
(adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients:
  • 7oz white chocolate chips
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsps sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Blackberries and Raspberries to serve on top
Instructions:
  • Put the chocolate chips in a large glass bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, whip 1 cup of the heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks and set aside.
  • Mix the egg yolks and sugar in a small bowl
  • In a pot, heat 1/4 cup of the cream until it simmers. 
  • Pour the hot cream into the yolk/sugar mixture, mix, and then pour everything back into the pot. 
  • Stirring continuously, heat the mixture until it becomes thick enough to stick to your spoon.
  • Pour the hot mixture directly onto the white chocolate chips and stir stir stir. (This should be a melty, goopy mixture when it's ready.)
  • Fold the whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture with a large wooden spoon. 
  • Top with berries and put into the fridge to set for an hour. 
  • You can also always add the berries later after the mousse has set.
  • Enjoy!






Tuesday, December 3, 2013

SARAH BAREILLES


Sometimes you just need some music that really makes your soul feel something. Today is one of those days. It's chilly out, I have a head cold and life seems a bit more stressful than usual. 

But you know what? That's life. And life is beautiful and messy and it's all part of the dance. 

So I leave you with my new favorite pump-me-up song from Sara Bareilles and some gorgeous pictures from her concert this fall that Josh and I attended in DC. She is just amazing and I really connect to her music. Enjoy!








Monday, December 2, 2013

BACK IN ACTION



Everyone, big news. I'm back!

I'm so sorry that I didn't post for about a week. Things got a tad bit crazy around here. But now I'm breathing again, so I thought I would update you. I really missed posting and am very happy to be back. Isn't it always a lovely feeling when you are joyful to come back to something from which you've taken a break? 

So what has been happening? Many big and exciting things having to do with our wedding. 

In a nutshell, I freaked out about how large our families are and how many people we have to invite. Then I got excited about including our families and just accepted that we need to prioritize a large wedding. 

Then Josh and I started to do intense research on venues. We are looking in the Northern VA area and there are myriad options, but after talking to 25-ish places, it became apparent what we liked and what kind of place would be able to fit all 200 of our guests. 

Last weekend we visited 5 venues in person and we think that we found our wedding venue! It was quite an exhausting process and I think we made it more complicated by having multiple dates as a possibility. I don't recommend that. :)

At this point, we think we have a venue and we just need to make sure there is a church near by that can accomodate us for the ceremony. We would like to get married in a church that means something to us and we are on the waiting list for two. Please say a prayer that it works out!

The other truly wonderful thing that happened last weekend is that we got to share our home parish with our parents. My Dad was in town from Iowa so we had my mom, my dad, and Josh's parents come to mass with us on Sunday night to witness our priest give us a blessing as we prepare for marriage. 

It was such a surreal and wonderful experience to be at mass with my parents and get to stand in front of the congregation with Josh and receive a blessing. 

After mass we had our parents over to my apartment for dinner and we went through the venues we'd visited and answered questions and explained our thoughts. By the end of the evening I was exhausted but the good news is that we think we have a venue!

Josh and I are planning to get married in Northern Virginia next September. Eeeee! I can't believe it's actually real. 

We know we have a lot of work to do to plan and get ready but we are excited. I hope you are too!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

PUMPKIN BEER TASTING PART V

Part V is here! See Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV here if you missed them.

This is likely the last installment of my pumpkin beer tasting series. I think it's appropriate that the pumpkin goodness ends right before Thanksgiving. Pumpkins are still appropriate people. Christmas trees... not so much, not until Friday anyway.

I am a firm believer (likely because my mom is this way) that Christmas doesn't start until after Thanksgiving. We have to give each holiday it's time to shine.

This year for Thanksgiving, I'm away from home. It's an odd feeling but also an exciting one as I'm in Naples, Florida meeting my soon-to-be family. Josh's Grandaddy is turning 80 and so his Dad's entire family is here to celebrate. Last night I met everyone for the first time and while I am still quizzing myself on names, It was really exciting.

I love people. I get such joy from meeting new face and learning new stories that I am in pig heaven meeting the Goldman clan. There is such a sense of warmth and familiarity when you are around a big family and even though I'm the newcomer they are giving me such a warm welcome.

I am thankful for many things this season, and my ever-growing family is one of them. :)

Fifteen

Tasting notes:
-Oh Sam, always so easy to drink
-Very pumpkin-y but not sweet pumpkin
-Lite and smooth, not bitter or too hoppy
-Tastes of squash and more savory than sweet
-I like it, nothing special but very pleasant
6/10

Sixteen

Tasting Notes
-Really nice flavor
-Very smooth and easy to drink
-Flavors of pumpkin but not too sweet
-Ginger and wheat on the aftertaste
-Nice flavors of pumpkin but very subtle
-I really like this one
8.5/10

Seventeen

Pumpkin Ale
Blue Point Brewing Company
Long Island, NY

Tasting Notes
-First taste was delicious
-Not too much pumpkin on the taste but very light and easy to drink
-Don't get me wrong, it's no Miller Lite, it's got flavor, but it won't fill you up
-More pumpkin and molasses on the finish
-Not saccharine sweet
-Hints of ginger and cinnamon
-Overall easy to drink and yummy
7.5/10

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

UPPER WEST SIDE



This past Saturday, Josh and I had one of those rare and wonderful perfect days. This was before we got engaged so we were just chillin in with nothing to plan. 

We woke up early and walked up to the local movie theatre to see About Time. I picked this movie because it looked lovely. Josh picked this movie because Rachel McAdams looked lovely. And because he loves me.

This movie changed my life.

I know, I know... you are thinking, "Maureen, it's a chick flick. Simmer." But seriously, I would say that this movie may have stolen number one spot from Titanic and that is saying something!

The movie is adorable and you should all see it. I wept for the last 45 minutes of the movie, steadily. I just loved it. For whatever reason the film struck a chord in my soul as life sometimes randomly does and I just could not control my emotions. We sat in the theatre for about 15 minutes after the movie ended with me crying and Josh trying to figure out why. The best explanation I could give him was that I was just uncontrollably happy.

I felt this sense of calm and peace that I haven't really felt before. The moral of the movie is to make sure you enjoy each moment of your life because each one is a gift. And I guess I just felt it all at once; it was all coming full circle. I felt 100% sure that it was right to be dating Josh and not be in a rush (ironic since he proposed the next day). I felt happy with my job and grateful for my family and just really excited about life.

This week, I'm in Manhattan for three days of training to learn Final Cut Pro X for work. I've been seeing my friends and family while I'm here, and this morning as I was walking to the 2/3 train on the Upper West Side, I just felt really happy.

New York and I haven't always gotten along. Let's be honest, the day I moved out of the city a homeless man spit on me. ON ME. Inside of a Starbucks.

Right.

But today, I just couldn't help but notice the beauty of everything. As I walked along W. 70th street the buildings seemed friendly. A old man eating a breakfast sandwich waved at a little baby girl in a stroller and she waved back. I had a delightful conversation about the weather in DC v. NY with two men on the subway.

I don't know if NY has changed, or if I have changed but today there is joy. People are nice. Babies wave back. And the world is good.

Go see About Time and smile really big at the next person you see on the street. Because life is good.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

BE MINDFUL

It is with deepest gratitude that I want to thank everyone for their warm wishes about our engagement.  I am overwhelmed with love and am so happy to be celebrating such a happy occasion.

It's pretty much awesome.

Now because I strive to be authentic, I will also let you all in on a little secret: It's also really stressful. Good stressful for the most part but man oh man I wasn't prepared haha. We have barely begun!

Josh and I are still trying to take a week before we start planning but that is hard. Our loved ones want to know when we are setting the date and as a Type A, planner-loving nerdsicle the idea that I don't know yet is driving me crazy.

There are many things that will need to be sorted before we can set a date. And I keep reminding myself that they will come in time, but this post is a reminder to myself not to forget why I'm so excited to get married.


This is why I am happy about being engaged. This face of the adorable man carving a pumpkin (the Halloween before we started dating) because he knew how much I loved the holiday and wanted to make it special for me. I get to marry the thoughtful man who left work early to drive through rush hour to buy me Hocus Pocus so I could watch it while we carved. And that is just one sweet memory out of countless.

And there it is, I'm swooning again. Phew!

I asked Josh to think of the five things that are the most important to him when it comes to our wedding. I am going to take some time to reflect and do the same. I want to make sure that before we get lost in both the joy and the stress of wedding logistics that we set intentions and priorities for ourselves. 

I don't want to miss this season of our life. I want to remember each moment. 

That sounds harder than planning a wedding. ;)

Thank you again for all of your kind words of congratulations. As I type this, I'm still staring at the ring.  Sorry I'm not sorry. It's just so pretty!

For those of you who are married already, please feel free to leave a comment with your words of advice. What was your favorite part about being engaged?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE

Forgive me if I have any typos in this post. I am wearing a gorgeous diamond ring that I can't stop looking at so I may get distracted and mistype. Yep, you heard me right... I'M ENGAGED!!!!!!!


It's so new that it doesn't even feel real. I am going to tell you the entire, long, beautiful story, so if that's more than you bargained for, feel free to just scroll down and look at the pictures. They're pretty good too. :)

My friends and family know how much Josh means to me but for those of you who weren't aware let me start with a few facts:

The Truth:
1. I had NO IDEA this was coming.
2. I was totally surprised.
3. I cried through practically the entire engagement (read: night).
4. I never really believed that I could be this happy.
5. I am so very blessed. I cannot thank God enough for working a miracle on my heart and in my life. This is exactly as it is supposed to be. This is perfect. And I am SO HAPPY.

Ok, let's start at the very beginning.

The Back Story (Abridged)
About a month or so ago, Josh and I got letters in the mail from The Little Theatre of Alexandria (LTA). I've done three shows with LTA and this is where Josh and I met while doing a production of Oliver! in October 2010.

The letter was from our friend Rachel, who produced Oliver! and heads the marketing department at the theatre. Let's just say the letter made me super excited - LTA was doing a focus group on the evening of November 10th with a few select participants to discuss the direction of the theatre next season. The gist was, they wanted me to come to the theatre, have a catered dinner, and discuss what shows LTA should do in the coming years to ensure it was staying current and artistically sound. It was right up my alley. I RSVP'd yes, crossed it off my to-do list, put it on my calendar, and threw out the letter.

A month went by and I didn’t think much of the focus group event. Josh brought it up a couple of times but it was always in passing. I continued to go about my life, go to work and eat delicious food. Business as usual.

The Big Day
Sunday, November 10th came and it seemed like any other day. We went to church, ran some errands, I got the new iPhone, and we watched some TV while we ate a late breakfast. I had a bunch of things to do in the afternoon and evening and Josh was going to watch football with his dad, so he left and I rushed to get ready. I’m usually behind and Sunday was no exception.

For this next part, I want to be careful to paint this mental picture so it's accurate. Picture me, standing on a chair in my hall closet, running late and trying to find an iPhone case that I bought a few months ago (read: buried somewhere). I was stressed and rummaging. Additionally, since I had just gotten the phone and didn’t have a case on it, I was keeping it in the box at all times (read: thank goodness I’m a girl and carry a purse so my phone in a box wasn’t as awkward as it could have been). As I was deep into the closet, my box phone started ringing (it was Josh). As I balanced on the chair, I took the box out of my purse, took the lid off the box and put the box with the phone (on speaker) sitting in it on the shelf in the closet while I continued to rummage.

The conversation went a little like this (note: I am fussy and Josh is super sweet in this conversation. Also, my cursing has been edited. Whoops.):

M: Hi. What is it? I'm running late and I can't talk right now.
J: Hi honey, I just got a text from Rachel and she said since LTA is catering dinner tonight that we probably shouldn't wear jeans.
M: What? Are you freaking kidding me?
J: It's ok just we--
M: (interrupting) Honey, no. I’m already wearing jeans. This is ridiculous. I can't believe how unprofessional this is. They didn’t put anything about a dress code in the letter.
J: Take a deep breath. I know you’re stressed. Can you just grab a dress and you can change later?
M: I don't want to wear a dress!

I will spare you the rest of this conversation because it's embarrassing for me how hilariously upset I got about jeans. I eventually I grabbed a dress, got in the car, and called Josh to apologize for being so upset at him when he didn't do anything wrong.

That afternoon, dress in tow, I went to see my mom, went to see my Grandpa (where I put on the rando dress I grabbed and my make-up), and went to have drinks with my friend Maria before the meeting at LTA.

After we finished dinner / drinks and I walked back to my car to put my leftovers in it (I had only eaten half a sandwich because I knew LTA was catering dinner) and then continued walking the few blocks to the theatre.

About thirty seconds before walking into the door I had this thought: "What if this is all a big joke and Josh is proposing?" NO JOKE! I have no idea why this popped into my mind when it did but then (because I had been thinking this thought every time something romantic happened for the past few months) I thought, "No Maureen. It's a meeting. He said he needed more time. Six months to a year."

Right as I walked up to the door, I had one last thought of, "Well if the door is locked I will know something is up and maybe is Josh proposing." Again, I should emphasize, I don't know where these thoughts even came from. They were completely out of the blue!

But I walked right up to the door of the theatre and it was open. So, I went inside to get to my meeting. Or so I thought…

The Proposal
When I walked into the building Rachel was standing in the lobby. She gave me a big hug, said she was running a bit late, and told me to head into the main theatre and that we would get started in a second.

I opened the doors from the lobby and stepped into the theatre. It was completely empty. No people, no noise, no nothing. The house lights were out. The stage was lit. There were candles in mason jars lining the aisle in front of me. And I knew. I knew what was happening. I immediately burst into tears.

To try to explain what I was feeling is almost impossible. I was so caught off guard that I didn't know what I was feeling. My adrenaline started racing, I was crying and I just wanted to see Josh. But he wasn't anywhere that I could see.

Right at the entrance where I was standing was a music stand with a letter on it. It said "Read me. Use this flashlight." So I picked up the flashlight and read the letter from Josh. In it, he reassured me that everything was ok and that it was ok that I was probably crying and overwhelmed. He told me to take a deep breath, that he loved me, and that when I was ready to walk down to the front row. There was something for me to watch. He also had a pack of tissues there for me. Let's just say, I needed those.

I eventually gathered myself and walked to the front row of the theatre. I took off my coat and scarf so that I wouldn't look like a homeless woman and sat in a seat in the front row that said, "Sit here". Next to the seat was an iPad and headphones with instructions on what to do next. So I sat and watched the short film Josh had made for me about our life together.

There were clips and pictures of us meeting, us becoming friends, and us dating. I cried and laughed through the whole thing. It’s hard to describe so I want to share it with you here!


Also, during the entire proposal our friend Traci was photographing everything. I've worked with Traci before and Josh hired her to capture the event. Because he is perfect.


When the film finished, I looked up and Josh was standing on stage in front of me. At this point I started to cry harder. Josh said something like, "Honey, it's ok. Come here," and brought me on stage with him. This is where it all gets a little fuzzier because I was shaking so much. Josh was starting to cry and his hands were shaking. He told me he loved me and that he wanted to take care of me, spend his life with me and make me happy even when it was hard. Because we know it will be tough sometimes and that’s ok because he wants to do it with me.

Then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.


He was so cute. He started to go down on his right knee and then switched to his left. When he looked up at me I couldn't see the ring or his shaking hands or anything except his beautiful face.

I said, "yes!", cried more (typical!), he put the ring on my finger, we kissed, took pictures, kissed some more and drank champagne on the stage. Where we met. Three years ago.

It was perfect.


The State of Shock
After we started to calm down I cried on Rachel and Traci for a bit and kept talking about how shocked I was and how grateful I am for Josh in my life. Then we packed up the candles and the champagne and the flowers, dropped them off in my car and then Josh told me he had made dinner reservations for us at Columbia Firehouse.

This little pub is where Josh and I used to go almost every night after rehearsals for Oliver! When we were first getting to know each other and becoming friends, we would sit in their booths and share some beer and fries and talk for hours.

It was perfect that he wanted to go there so we headed over. When he opened the door for me and I walked in some of our parents and some friends who live in the area were there screaming congratulations. I burst into tears all over again (are you sensing a trend?).

I. Am. So. Blessed.

The rest of the night was spent drinking champagne, hugging loved ones who who were there, calling loved ones who were at home and generally squealing and staring at my beautiful ring (which Josh designed himself).

And when we finally left, he called me his fiancée for the first time and I couldn't help but laugh with how excited that makes me and how surreal it sounds.

Life is not a fairytale. I will be the first to tell you that. Sometimes things happen to us that hurt or test or challenge.

Life is better than a fairytale. Because life is real. I can reach out and touch Josh's face. He is really in my life. I would go through the entire prologue of hurts and tests and challenges again just to get to this moment. This perfect, real moment that we will share for the rest of our lives. 

I am marrying the man I love. And I am so excited to savor each and every moment of our journey together.


And because I can't stop staring at it, here's one more of the ring. You know, just for good measure. :)

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