Engagement story: A trip to California to remember

I had an editor once that told me never to bury the lead - so, J and I are engaged! 10411367_10155116288720304_7680980004882738491_n

J has a training in Bakersfield this week, so months ago he invited me to go on to Los Angeles with him the weekend before.

Unfortunately, a couple of days before the trip I got ill. But it was nothing that a little (a lot) of Mucinex D couldn't tackle, so Thursday morning I boarded the plane.

I arrived at LAX just in time for J to pull up in the new Mustang convertible he rented for us for the weekend. We were going to the filming of the Jimmy Kimmel show, so we quickly headed into town to grab something to eat and go wait in line for the show.


We ate at Hard Rock Cafe and were served by a waiter named Elvis who had long painted, pointed black nails.

Back on Hollywood Blvd. we went to find the long line waiting to get into the show. I love this picture of Jarrod.


The show took us into the evening and we were both so exhausted that we skipped the post-show Neo concert and went to the home that we'd rented on Airbnb (Thanks Mary Nevaire for turning us on to Airbnb. We can't stop using it.)

The home is owned by a couple and their love of fine art is apparent. Every wall, including the laundry room and bathrooms, has original art hung on it. Gosh, the house was just beautiful. Both of the guys are in the entertainment/television/movie business so they had really interesting stories to share. One of the guys had a cousin and his friends in town from Denmark, so they were also staying at the house. I think Jarrod's favorite part of the trip may have been talking politics and healthcare with the guests.

Here's a picture of their backyard. Mark described it as "English garden meets drought-proof."


Friday we slept in and enjoyed a vegan breakfast provided by our hosts. We then headed out to the beach and took a small walk, ate at El Coyote and visited a vintage store called It's a Wrap. The store sells castoff clothing items from movie and television sets. I got a jacket from True Blood! We finished out the day with a hike up to the Hollywood sign (after napping in the car post Mexican food in a random rain shower)(Don't tell Jarrod, he "didn't" fall asleep).


Saturday (big day!), Jarrod planned on us driving up the coast on the PCH. We made it through Malibu and suddenly hit a block in the road. Apparently there was a mudslide a few months ago and the highway is shut down. So, we stopped for lunch and were advised to head to Santa Barbara.


The drive was amazing. Because we were circumnavigating the mudslide we drove through beautiful tree-covered mountains, all the time with the top down in the convertible. Sorry for the crappy car window pic:


We made it to Santa Barbara and very quickly had to turn around and head back to Malibu for our 5:30 dinner reservations. I had a hint that something was up because Jarrod usually doesn't make reservations days in advance and we never eat while the sun was still up, but I thought he was just trying to do something special and didn't think much more of it. I was convinced that since he hadn't asked up until this point that he was not going to ask on the trip at all.

Well, the drive back took longer than expected and we were literally racing against the sun.


We got to the restaurant and were disappointed to find out that the table J had requested along the railing was not available. Usually we're go with the flow kind of people, but J asked me several times if the table we were put in was really ok. I thought his persistence was odd, but again, didn't think much of it.

We had drinks and a fine dinner. Our waiter was lovely and attentive. As the dinner was winding down I was certain that nothing was going to happen - we were about to order dessert! So, I got up to go to the bathroom and give myself a pep talk.

On my return, I launched into a conversation with J about the inside of the restaurant and, I'm horrified to admit, the shape of the doors to the restrooms. They were round. It was weird.  J interrupted me and said, in a very serious tone, "I love you."

I was like, "Yea, yea I love you too. But I'm mean those restroom doors..."

And Jarrod started fishing around in his pocket and pulled out the little black box.

I was shocked. And the rest of the evening is guessing because it was a blur. He asked me to marry him. I kissed him. He said, "Is that a 'yes?'" I said, "Yes!"

People were clapping. (I now know that the waiter had gone around and told everyone that J was about to pop the question. Major pressure.) I finally looked around and saw that the waiter had filmed the whole thing on J's phone, including my opinions on the bathroom doors.

The waiter then led in a series of poses to take photographs - again, all a blur.


The next couple of hours passed texting and phoning friends and family. There were some questionable gifs exchanged between Kyle, Jarrod and Layne...

The next morning was a hard goodbye. We said goodbye to our new LA friends and headed to In-and-Out Burger where we ate double cheeseburgers and well-done animal fries.

I'm back home now and still recovering from California-time. I've yet to start blowing up J's phone with wedding ideas, but that's coming soon. He's already busy with all of my home renovation emails.

Mexico Unlimited

October 22nd marked the departure of Todd and myself from Baton Rouge to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on our very first international trip together. Our flight into Puerto Vallarta most definitely had either a drunk pilot or a super rookie in the cockpit the evidence was in the multiple attempts at landing. IMG_2070

October 23rd was our first full day and we found the tigers and parrots. We also went boogie boarding until we burned from both sun and board. That night we planned a dinner with all 16 family members that were present for 8pm. While the family was getting that together I shook Todd off my tail and ordered wine and roses to be sent to the room for 10pm. Quickly after that I gathered my cousins and asked that they take the ring and our camera to the gazebo on the pier and wait for me to bring Todd. At 7:30pm sharp the sun was setting and I had Todd in hand as we marched down the rocky jetty stopping to stare at every creature along the way, but we finally arrived in the Gazebo where I knelt to one knee and asked for Todd's hand. As quickly as I did that Todd snatched the ring from my grasp and thrust a ring toward me with a big smile and a YES!


October 24th was my quarter century birthday, which was spent with my new fiancé. We had four new arrivals bringing our group number to 20 people.

October 25th we were approached by my father to help in his proposal. Everyone in the group was given a card that told his soon to be fiancé, Tina Kelley, one thing he loved about her. My fiancé and I were the first card where Todd was the photographer and I was the navigator to get Tina around the resort to all the people and cards she was supposed to receive. The last person Tina saw was my father surrounded by everyone in the group with a rose in the sand and a ring in the hand.


October 27th Our entire crew of 20 piled into a little boat and headed across the bay to downtown Puerta Vallarta. On our arrival we noted that bathrooms cost 5 pesos to get into and everything was "almost free" according to the merchants. We also noted that everything for sale everywhere looked oddly similar to every other stands' merchandise even though each claimed to have hand made everything.


October 29th: Twelve of the bravest in our bunch headed out to the renowned Hidden Beach. We sorta snorkeled around for a bit until we hunted down and mercilessly ravaged by jellyfish. After a brief recovery onboard the vessel dubbed the "Mexican Titanic" by the crew, we jumped back into the water and were guided through a treacherous rocky water filled tunnel which served as the passageway to the beach. After we enjoyed our time on the beach the rising tide forced us out. For our return voyage we were given tequila and cervesa and watched the crew force passengers to striptease each other for entertainment...I should have filmed it.


Halloween: Ten of the best dressed including my adorable Peter pan went to Puerto Vallarta in search of a righteous good time. We managed to find ourselves in an overpriced club with table service which we then were escorted out of for our debauchery. After a few clubs/bars later we survived the night with only one casualty.


November 1st: We went on our last little excursion with a boat ride around the area in search of crocodiles. We found every shape, size, and color of iguanas in trees and rich peoples yard everywhere as if they are the Mexican squirrel. Pelicans flew overhead alongside blue footed boobies and we did run across a few crocodiles. More importantly many hours after our tour completed we went on a night beach walk. On this walk Todd stepped on a little fresh baby turtle and amidst that discovery we noticed several dozen baby turtles were covering the beach. We quickly gathered every one of them we could find and brought them all to the safety of the sea.


November 2nd we returned home completely satiated and ready to get back to normal life.


He asked for her hand. You won't believe what happened next...

This weekend, J and I went to Atlanta (Hot-lanta, Wedding-lanta) for my dear friend Mary Nevaire's wedding. Mary and I met in college through Kappa Delta and bonded over Piggy Wiggly and collared greens. Mary is Southern through and through and I think found comfort in my 1-drop Sourthern-ness that I claim from having family immediate family from below the Mason-Dixon.

Mary and Austin's Wedding Story

Mary is a close friend that I could tell many stories that time...well the Internet doesn't need to know about any of that. Seeing Mary and Austin get married was a long time coming. When I met Mary in school, she was "single." She and Austin made the decision together before they left for college that when they were not in the same state, that they were able to see other people at their choosing. Austin was going to Georgia Tech. I think that for a lot of people that would spell disaster, jealousy, whatever, but for Mary and Austin it worked. And Mary did date other people, but throughout college Austin remained a constant.

After school, Mary moved back to the South and was able to finally live near Austin and really give dating a-go. They lived in Nashville a while, and I think it was sometime around then that Mary started to think more seriously about getting married. Then, as life happens, her grandmother and grandfather who she was very close with, passed. And something about that BIG LIFE MOMENT propelled the pair toward marriage. It may have also had something to do with Austin getting assigned to Hong Kong for work, but you never can tell, right?

So during their engagement, Mary moved back home to Atlanta to plan her wedding and prepare for the big move across the world and Austin went on to Hong Kong. Six months later, on a warm summer day in June, Mary and Austin got married in a beautiful ceremony in her parents' backyard.

I should also add that Mary is a fantastic writer. You might even call her a feminist, locavore blogger. Her writing can be found at

Other Pictures of Our Atlanta Adventures