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Happy 50th birthday, Dad!

50 years ago today, my dad entered this world. Nanni and Papa-Pete were moving to St. Louis from Corpus Christi, but even then, my dad knew he wanted to be born in Texas. He arrived before they could fly to STL, and his first days were spent in a tiny motel, using a dresser drawer as a crib. When he arrived in STL, he must have felt like royalty sleeping in the Culver family crib. These fifty years have been full of adventure, wonder, trials, and triumphs.  In my 23 years in his life, I have learned many things from him. Dad, you have been a great role model and inspiration to me, and I wanted to share some fond memories I have with you!

1- You always know how to laugh and how to make others laugh.

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2- You took reading very seriously as a child, and read stories to us when we were little!

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3- You instilled faith and morals into our lives from the start.

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4- You gave Matt and I some good looking genes.

5-You taught me to be brave. This family photo was taken right after I wiped out on my bike when I tried to ride no handed like you were.

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6- You demonstrated that when you find a jacket you like, you should never get rid of it…

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7- You were always willing to go the extra mile for us, especially by driving us to sport events all across Texas and Illinois and driving to watch games when we were older.

8- You had tea parties with me and my stuffed animals.

9- You taught us how to play tennis!

10- You taught us how to drive… and demonstrated how not to drive ;)

11- You gave us the Pelton sarcasm!

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12- You reminded me that I am beautiful, smart, and funny when I needed to hear it.

13-I remember the time you made me a frame for the mirror full of adjectives that describe me.

14- You showed me that hard work and dedication pay off.

15- You gave us the opportunity to travel and see the world from other perspectives.

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16- And… you taught us a plethora of choice words while trying to drive on the opposite side of the car and road. Thankfully, you raised us to know not to say those words!

17- I remember swimming in the Irish hotel with swim caps and eating duck and rabbit for the first time in a fancy restaurant.

18- You taught us how to play cards, Oh hell at reunions, Gin Rummy, etc.

19- You always cooked extravagant breakfasts and desserts. I remember the time you made bananas fosters, and I thought the house was going to burn down.

20- You always threw big celebrations for birthdays and accomplishments.

21- You taught us to be loyal sports fans.

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22- You passed on the gene for doing the dishes. I remember waking up early to empty the dishwasher for you and mom, and now, I am still the dishwashing queen.

23- We built the coolest igloo one Christmas in Bloomington.

24- When we went fishing, you would always unhook the fish for me because I thought they were so gross.

25- You took us skiing and camping many times.

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26- You and Joe set the example of food photography….now, I can barely eat without taking a picture of a delicious meal!

27- You gave us the opportunity to attend Culver and experience family tradition.

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28- I am so thankful for all the family reunions we went on together!

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29- You are the king of shaped pancakes!

30- Every Halloween, you carved pumpkins for us!

31- You have your unique sayings, like “As you wish my dish,” which I catch myself saying now and then.

32- I remember one night in high school you came home to “make coffee” because I was alone with a boy.

33- You allowed me to become an Aggie, after raising me as a Longhorn.

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34- You dropped me off at Fish Camp my freshman year, and I was so sad to see you leave.

35- You gave me the gift of education and encouraged me to follow my dreams!

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36- Thanks to Alex, you are never to old to wear wolf onesie footed pajamas…

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37- You are patient.

38- You are a great uncle.

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39- You introduced Bob and I to the St. Louis City Museum… it was so much fun!

40-  You accepted Bob’s request to marry me and gave me a wonderful wedding to mark the beginning of my future with Bob.

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41- You taught me to be myself and to love unconditionally.

42- You encouraged me to go to nursing school, and I am so glad I did!

43- You passed on your love for spicy foods.

44- We helped Matt organize and pack up for his move to Africa in St. Louis.

45– We celebrated Bob and I’s first married thanksgiving with you, Ann, and Nanni in College Station!

46- You cherish moments spent with our family.

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This year, we celebrated your birthday early… a Colorado vacation in July when Matt, Bob and I were free from school and work. We went to Crested Butte, courtesy of Ann, who won a condo for a week’s stay during a raffle!  I’m so glad we had the chance to celebrate this big occasion together in a beautiful city.

47- We went rafting!

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49- Our most extreme activity was mountain biking!

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50- Dad, I hope you have the best birthday ever. May these memories live on as we create more. Cheers to a happy and healthy future! Just remember, you are fifty years young. :)

Love, Kerry <3

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Dog Fever

Last week, Bob and I had the opportunity to dogsit my mom’s dog, Bleubelle. We had watched her before, but this time, it was especially fun. We did not have any Fourth of July plans because we wanted to stay at home and relax for the holiday weekend, plus I had an exam coming up.

Bleubelle went with me to get snowcones… and coffee… She’s such a great trip pal.

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I was busy studying for a complicated pregnancy and newborn exam, but she did not mind at all. She’s a great study buddy!

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Sometimes, she looks like a running reindeer.

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Every morning, she would wait patiently for me to wake up and take her on her walk. We have a low bed frame, so she placed her nose on the mattress and stared at me until I woke up. It was too cute to handle. She’s a nice alternative to an alarm clock.

Bob and I miss her, but we are glad we had the chance to spend time with her. My mom did a great job training her. We went to the park to play frisbee and didn’t have to worry about her bugging other people or running off. One day, we will have our own pup… I just hope we can train that dog well, too!

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Congrats to Mr. and Mrs. Throop!

Bob and I had the pleasure to stand next to two of our very best friends as they said their wedding vows this weekend! Austin and Caitlin have been great friends to us throughout our college years. I met Caitlin at the beginning of my junior year of college when she transferred to A&M. Austin had talked up how much we would get along from the start, but at first, it was scary because we were both so shy! From then on, our friendships blossomed.

The wedding celebrations began on Thursday. The groom and his men went out for their bachelor festivities, and the girls had their bachelorette party.

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Then, on Friday, it was time to get our nails done before the rehearsal. The rehearsal dinner was an “I do BBQ”!

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Pictured above: Alissa (bride’s sister), Brooke, Sam, Tiff, Britt, Caitlin (the bride), Kristen (bride’s cousin), Jess, Sarah, Kerry, Jenna (other sister)

We even got to play on an amazing playground after the dinner!

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I had so much getting to know Caitlin’s friends from Buffalo. She has the sweetest friends, which makes sense since she is so sweet herself! Most of her bridesmaids she has known since childhood, and I am amazed by their strong friendships that have endured the distance between Texas and New York. The first night was the ice-breaker between all the girls, but by the end of the weekend, I did not want to say goodbye to the other bridesmaids.

Saturday came and went too quickly! I arrived at Caitlin’s house at 9 am. She was ready in her bride t-shirt, and her dog, Buddy, was wearing his wedding bow tie. First, we ate some of grandma’s amazing cinnamon roll casserole and fruit. Then, we had hair appointments at Wen Chic Image Bar- Katy, TX. This was a blow dry bar that offered hair styling and makeup services!

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After attempting to nap without ruining our hair, we headed to the wedding venue to put on our makeup and dresses. The chapel was freezing cold because it’s summer in Texas, so we spent the next two hours before the ceremony shivering and huddling to stay warm! Everyone looked stunning in their bridesmaid dresses, and Caitlin was more beautiful than usual! I was excited to see her in her finished wedding dress because I was with her the day she said yes to the dress! The ceremony was beautiful, and I tried not to cry! Here’s a picture as the minister announced them as Mr. and Mrs. Austin Throop (I found this on Facebook from a family friend of theirs!).

 

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Next, we took lots of pictures of the bride and groom with their families and the wedding party!

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I was so lucky to walk down the aisle with my husband! What a handsome groomsman to share the day with :)

We arrived at the reception just in time for the wedding party and bride and groom to be announced. The table assignments were posted on this old window pane… so cute!

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The dinner was delicious, and we all had a blast dancing the night away. They looked adorable on the dance floor and cutting the cake!

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In addition to spending the night dancing with Bob, I was happy to be reunited with many college friends who we do not see very often, including Michael and Dana, Kevin and Chelsea, and Daniel and Eden! We tried to take some good pics….

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But…we couldn’t stop dancing, and the camera had a mind of its own!

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I can’t express how much fun it was to share this day with Caitlin and her bridesmaids! After Austin and Caitlin’s grand exit, Bob and I went to a bar with all of our friends. We still had much catching up to do, since most of our night was spent dancing! I am so thankful for the blessing of great friends, and I loved being a part of the Throop’s special day!

<3 Kerry

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Sexy Sugar Cookies

Last Thursday, I headed to Houston for Caitlin’s Bachelorette party. Another bridesmaid and I planned the evening, and we decided all the girls could decorate their own sexy sugar cookies! I made the cookies in advance, and we set aside some time during the party for decorating. Here is a photo from Pinterest that inspired me to try out Lingerie sugar cookies!

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Mrs. Fields sugar cookies

(Recipe source: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/mrs-fields-sugar-cookies/)

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

1) In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the salt.

2) Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until evenly distributed.

3) Add the egg and the vanilla. Beat until well blended. Pause and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl periodically.

4) On low speed, add the flour in increments. Do not over mix.

5) Form the dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

6) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

7) On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Use any cookie cutters to cut the dough and place shapes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

8) Bake for 12-15 minutes. I baked mine for 13 minutes. Keep a watchful eye on the cookies to prevent browning.

9) Place cookies on a cooling rack. Make sure they have completely cooled before decorating.

I have been using this sugar cookie recipe for years now, and the cookies never fail to please the crowd. You can use this recipe as your starting point for any sugar cookie project!

To make the sexy sugar cookies, I used a heart cookie cutter. By cutting off the tip of the heart, I created cookie boobs and butts to be decorated! I had trouble locating a heart cookie cutter, but finally, I found a set of hearts at Michael’s.

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The girls expressed their creativity by decorating unique panties and bras. It was pretty tedious work spreading the icing carefully over the cookies! I tried my best to create a masterpiece similar to the inspiration photo posted in the beginning.

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Overall, sexy sugar cookies were a hit, but after a long day of celebrating, it was tempting to just eat the cookies plain!

<3 Kerry

 

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Double-Stuffed Pop Tarts

Yesterday, I took on the task of making some flaky, buttery homemade pop tarts. Eagerly, I went to the store in the morning to purchase some last minute ingredients. I picked up some strawberry preserves for me, blueberry preserves for Bob, and orange juice for mimosas! I had not studied the recipe very much, so I was surprised to find out how many steps there were to complete!

I found this recipe from Cooking Classy (http://www.cookingclassy.com/2014/05/homemade-pop-tarts/) via Pinterest. Use this website to retrieve the recipe from the source. It seemed like a recipe that needed to be tried at least once….

Here’s my brief summary of the recipe:

1: Make the dough. I used my Cuisinart food processor to cut the cold butter into the flour mixture just until it resembled coarse meal. Then, I added 5 tbsp of cold water while pulsing the processor several times. This caused the dough to begin forming a ball. (You can also use a handheld pastry blender.) Pictured is the dough’s consistency when I transferred it to my floured surface to shape it.

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2: Using my pastry mat, I divided the dough into two balls and shaped them into 5-inch discs. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.

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Hint: I have a Martha Stewart Pastry Mat (sold at Macy’s) that is perfect for making pastries, biscuits, etc. It has helpful tips for working with dough, and it has inches and centimeter measurements along the border as well.

3: Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove one disc of dough from the fridge. Each 5-inch disc makes 4 tarts.  Begin rolling the dough into a 13 x 11 inch rectangle. This is recommended in the source’s recipe so you can then cut straight edges at 12 x 10 inches. Now, cut the dough in half horizontally. Then, make three vertical cuts every 3-inches. This will give you eight 5-inch by 3-inch rectangles.

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4: After cutting the dough into the appropriate dimensions, move the bottom 4 pieces to the lined cookie sheet. Place 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp of preferred preserves onto the bottom piece of dough, and then cover with the top piece of dough. You can use your fingers or a fork to seal the tarts together. I used my fingers, followed by the fork. Inevitably, some preserves leaked out while cooking. Poke the top of each tart with a fork about 4 times.

**These pop tarts were double-stuffed. Use as little or as much preserves as you desire, but not so much that it can’t seal shut!

5: Repeat steps 3 & 4 with the other disc of dough.

6: Place the prepared pop tarts in the freezer. Allow to chill for at least 2 hours.

7: Bake the tarts in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on them, so they don’t burn. I removed mine when they reached a golden brown color. Allow to cool on the pan for 5 minutes. Then, transfer to a cooling rack.

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8: When the pop tarts are completely cooled, frost them in any color that appeals to you. Then, top with sprinkles!

**Frosting the pop tarts was the hardest part for me. The white icing was hard to see on the dough, so I added a few drops of red food coloring to make a pink. My double-stuffed tarts were causing the frosting to roll down the sides. Possibly, I needed thicker frosting. Either way, they turned out great! In the future, I may skip the frosting all together and enjoy the naked tarts.

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9: Store the pop tarts in a sealed-container. Freeze the extras and re-toast them on a busy morning.

I hope some of you will take on this challenge of baking homemade pop tarts! If you do, let me know how it goes and good luck! Remember, you will need several hours to finish the project, so do it on a lazy day. I’d recommend getting some quality blueberry preserves because those tasted the best to us!

Until next time! -Kerry

 

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Fredericksburg: A Texas Hill Country Vacation

Bob and I just returned from a mini vacation to Fredericksburg, TX. This was the first time we traveled to Fredericksburg together. I had been to the area as a child to camp with my family at the surrounding state parks, Perdenales and Enchanted Rock. This area of the hill country is so beautiful. I did not mind the driving one bit. With three days of rain at the beginning of the week, we were blessed with perfect sunny weather that wasn’t unbearably hot.

Our first stop was Hondo’s on Main. This restaurant is known for its burgers, beer, and live music. The portions were large and the atmosphere was very Texan. It was a delicious way to start our vacation. I ordered the BBQ bacon burger. I thought it was good, but Bob did not like their BBQ sauce. I guess it depends on your BBQ preference! The side order of homemade chips was tasty, but heavy on Parmesan topping, so make sure that’s your thing before ordering.

 

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After Hondo’s, we headed to the ranch. My grandmother, we call her Nanni, is an interior designer. Our family friends, also her clients, own a beautiful ranch at the top of a mountain. Their property overlooks other farmland…windmills, livestock, and green grass. I’m always amazed by Nanni’s sense of design and passion for her work. While she and her crew worked on the houses, Bob and I had a great time driving around on the “mule” and trying to disturb the longhorn without being attacked.

 

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We wanted to saw its horns off…

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The next morning, we slept in and headed to Perdenales Cellars to experience a 290 winery. This is one of Andrea’s (my aunt/friend) favorites. Bob and I felt a little out of place because they ramble on about the wine and wait for you to finish one glass to give you the next taste. We like drinking wine, but we’re not wine snobs yet. Fortunately, we were able to head outside to enjoy a glass of our favorite wine from the tasting. We sat on a rocking swing and enjoyed the day.

 

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After the winery, we headed back to town to run an errand for Nanni. We decided to grab a bite to eat. We discovered the most delicious deli! It is called Woerner Warehouse- Country Market and Cafe. This unique find had one of the best ratings in the city. The cafe is located right next door to the Woerner Feed and Garden Supply, so don’t think you are in the wrong place. We parked behind the cafe and found a chicken coop with chicks and two baby ducks. Bob’s sandwich was so amazing, named the Don Juan. It was a ham sandwich with havarti, bacon, dijon mayo, and texas slaw warmed on a panini press. Bob says it was the BEST sandwich he has had to date. I wish I had ordered it too! I ordered a standard turkey club, which was also top notch. (My phone was dead, so you’ll have to trust my word that it is worth the visit!) http://woernerwarehouse.com

For dinner, we ate at the Auslander restaurant and biergarten to have some necessary German fixings while in town. The spatzle was one of their most noteworthy dishes. Also, the spicy bratwurst was delicious. We enjoyed some quality time in the biergarten with Nanni.

After dinner, we returned to the ranch, which is so serene at night. Christmas lights are hung to light up the pathways and outline the houses, and the stars shine so bright. Our final day was spent removing old lights from the windmill and putting up new Christmas lights to make it even more appealing to the night eye. Bob volunteered to climb the windmill and do the manly work! He had a lot of fun. I wished he had a harness, but he was very cautious… (except for when he drank a beer while on the ladder!) I was his grounded helper.

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Here he is after a long day of work!

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And here’s a peek at the interior design! I love doors on tracks. Nanni always finds the best decor.

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I enjoyed the chance to get away with Bob for a short vacation before summer school and work begin again. We had a blast exploring a new area. I loved waking up to the ranch scenery. I was even able to lounge around in the carriage house bed while drinking coffee and watching Food Network, so it doesn’t get much better than that.

I look forward to blogging about more trips in the future!

-Kerry

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Here comes the bride!

The month of May is a popular time to get married in Texas. It’s common for couples to get married younger in the south. I can’t disagree with this statement as Bob and I approach 1.5 years of marriage! Woah, time certainly has flown and we’ve made many new memories together. This month, we attended two beautiful weddings, and we have two more coming up in June. I love weddings because of the chance to experience the couple’s style (or maybe just the brides..) and their happiness first hand. Every wedding I have attended has been so unique that it really highlights the bride and groom’s story. The sailing team has been known to foster lasting relationships, and there have been some notable sailing team couples who have tied the knot: Bob and Kerry (that’s me!), Matthew and Katie, Travis and Jenny, and others from before our time! Who’s next? Image Travis and Jenny’s wedding was held at Tuscan Courtyards in Texas City. The weekend was rainy, and thunder was heard during the ceremony, but we all stayed beautiful and dry. This was the first wedding where I was a bridesmaid. I had a lot of fun helping Jenny get ready for the big day. I especially enjoyed being in charge of fixing the train on her dress. I got really good a fluffing it. I even got over my fear of mispronouncing “lattices”, and I successfully read my bible passage in front of the crowd. I keep telling my friends I need some heart rate reduction (beta blockers) or anti-anxiety meds for public speaking! Jenny and I have been great friends for four years now. I met her my freshman year on the sailing team. We’ve been through a lot together: regattas all over the country, a road trip from New Orleans to San Diego, many themed parties, the Austin Marathon, my wedding & hers. I look forward to many more memories. Here’s the bridesmaids pictured at the rehearsal dinner: Image Another sweet deal about Trenny’s wedding was the after party in the Hampton Inn pool. Needless to say, they were very considerate of our need to continue celebrating. Image Also this weekend, Chris Thorp married Meagan Jackson. Although Meagan was not a member of the sailing team, she was quickly accepted as an honorary member because of her love for sailing and Texas A&M. She is especially cool to me because she went to Culver Girls Academy! Chris will always hold a special place in my heart because he introduced me to the A&M sailing team the summer before I began college. We had been campers together at Culver, and then, we worked together Summer 2009. I even went to a party at his house before the first day of school, which was the night I met Bob, Conner, and Jeff. Small world. Sailing team alumni pictured below: John, Chelsea, Katie, Matthew, Bob, Kerry, & Conner at Meagan and Chris’ wedding reception Image Shortly after this photo, I had to change into Katie’s cowboy boots because my wedges broke. Fortunately, the boots looked really cute at this adorable barn reception. Meagan did a great job with decorations! Image Image Stay tuned for more wedding posts in the future! I can’t wait for the next reunion of friends & family at the next union of a new Mr. & Mrs.!