2013 in Review

2013 was an AMAZING year! This week, I’ve seen some of my favorite bloggers writing their year in review, and I really liked that idea. 2013 was full of weddings, and parties, changes and trips, and overall it was a wonderful year! So without further adieu, here are some of my favorite moments from 2013!

  • In February I started my new blog, Our Little Ivory Tower! I wrote 47 posts in 2013, and I’m excited to see how I can grow my blog in 2014. I absolutely love having a writing outlet and a way to keep in touch with my family and friends. It has also been a great way for me to document my life and it serves as a “live” scrapbook.
  • In March my sissy moved to Colorado, which was incredibly sad, but also so exciting for her! She got a promotion working for Victoria Secret, and shortly after moving she got ANOTHER promotion and was given her OWN STORE to manage. She is doing an awesome job and loving being out in Denver!

Mar  VS

  • Also in March, G & I did some fundraising for the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight. So many of our family and friends helped by donating and we were able to raise $250 for the local organization to help send veterans to Washington D.C. to see the WWII Memorial.
  • In April my bestie Megan invited me to be her +1 for a work trip she earned to Austin, TX! All expenses paid, we spend a long weekend exploring Austin with an awesome group of people, as well as a couple days at an amazing resort. We were pampered, ate like queens, and had an awesome #palsweekend overall. The trip was definitely a top highlight of 2013!

TX

  • At the end of April, I helped to host my dear friend Tiffany’s bachelorette party in Des Moines, which was a blast with old and new friends.

bachelorette party

  • In May I celebrated another bachelorette, my roommate from college Katie, in Nashville! It was my first time to ‘Music City’ and I loved every minute of it. We danced to country music, bought cowboy boots, and drank till the sun came up. It was another amazing girlfriends trip!

Nashvegas

  • In June I got to stand up as a bridesmaid in Tiffany and Nick’s wedding. It was one of the most fun bridal parties I’ve ever been a part of and the wedding was beautiful and classy and SO much fun.

Malcom Wedding

  • In July G & I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary! He posted this on Facebook which absolutely melted my heart 🙂 He’s not a big “sharer” on Facebook, so that made it all the more special. It’s good to be me, too!

Facebook

Anniversary

  • Also in July, I was a bridesmaid in Katie and Sean’s wedding in the Quad Cities. It was a gorgeous wedding and incredibly special and truly a wedding I will never forget.

Laird Sisters

  • In August we attended my 10 year class reunion. I rode in our class float, watched old class videos from elementary and high school days, and enjoyed catching up with my classmates, some of whom I hadn’t seen in 10 years!

Class of 2003

  • In September we went out to Colorado with my parents to visit Marlee and Andrew. We went to a Reds/Rockies game, hiking in the mountains, exploring Denver and Boulder, and had a lot of family fun time.

Mountains Family

  • Also in September, we traveled to Missouri for our friends Stephanie and Horacio’s wedding. So many of our friends who G grew up with were there, and we had a great time dancing the night away and catching up with old friends.

Wedding fun

  • In October I got to go to Las Vegas for work to exhibit at the NBWA Tradeshow. Not only was it beautiful weather while we were there, I learned a lot and even had some time to explore the city.

Las Vegas

  • In November I participated in NaBloPoMo and blogged {almost} every day in the month of November. We also spent Thanksgiving in Fort Dodge with the Ivorys, and went to G’s cousin’s wedding.

Ivorys

  • In December my sister got engaged!!! Her fiance Andrew took her up into the mountains for a relaxing weekend, and ended it by putting a beautiful ring on her finger. We are looking forward to the wedding planning to come in 2014, and a wedding in 2015! I’m so excited for them and excited for Andrew to become a part of our family.

Future Newbergs

  • Also in December, I decorated for Christmas  and we went to Chicago to celebrate the holiday with my mom’s side of the family. We also got together in Cedar Falls with G’s family to open presents and enjoy a really fun lunch at a Japanese steakhouse.

Christmas Tree

As you can see, 2013 was a really exciting and eventful year. We’re expecting another fun and and crazy year in 2014, and I can’t wait to share it all with you again. My goal for 2013 is to take one picture everyday to document the year {thanks for the idea, Mix and Match Mama!}, and to take time to enjoy my family and friends, because life is too short to not be around those you love.

Tonight G & I are going to ring in the New Year together by going out for a fancy dinner at 350 First and possibly to a movie, then probably home to watch the ball drop on TV. I’m really looking forward to it! Tomorrow we will spend Jan 1 relaxing and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes play LSU in the Outback Bowl! GOOOOO HAWKS!

I hope you all have a safe and happy new year, and look forward to seeing you all in 2014!

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Summer Catch Up

Wow, I have sure been a terrible blogger this summer! I blame it on how busy we’ve been, but should have been updating the site more often to keep everyone in the loop of our crazy life. Here is a quick recap of our busy but exciting summer–full of weddings, bachelorette parties, vacations and fun.

In May I took my first trip to Nashville for my college roommate Katie’s bachelorette party. I absolutely fell in LOVE with the city of Nashville and can’t wait to go back some day to see more. We toured the Ryman Auditorium and spend our time on the strip listening to live bands, drinking cold beers, and buying cowboy boots.

Katie's Nashville Weekend

Nashville Boots

In June I was honored to be a bridesmaid in my beautiful friend Tiffany Rohret’s wedding in Des Moines to her now husband Nick Malcom. Wow–let me say, what a FUN wedding and awesome wedding party. I had such a great time and it couldn’t have been any more amazing of a day. Congrats Nick and Tiffy!

Photo Booth Pictures

Bus Cheers

In July I got to be a bridesmaid again in the Quad Cities as my college roommate and long time bestie Katie Laird married Sean Allen. Another beautiful wedding and perfect day. And it was so much fun seeing so many friends who I don’t get to see as often as I’d like.

Laird-Allen Wedding

Laird Sisters

We also celebrated our 2nd anniversary and went to Okoboji, Iowa with Greg’s family for a little get away. We took our annual anniversary picture on the dock. I love this tradition we’ve started!

2nd Anniversary Tradition

In August I had my 10 year class reunion and loved going back to Traer to see so many family and friends. We had a 10 year reunion float in the Winding Stairs Days parade and watched old VHS tapes from elementary and high school at a party at the Traer Country Club. It was a blast catching up with high school friends, and I even found myself doing a shot of Blueberry Moonshine with old friends who I hadn’t seen in forever. It was a blast!

North Tama Class of 2003 10 Year Reunion

For Labor Day weekend we took our big trip of the summer out to Denver to see my sister and her boyfriend in their new home! We traveled with my parents and had SUCH an amazing time. It was G’s first trip to Colorado and he loved the mountains and especially our first time white water rafting. We also went to a Reds/Rockies game, Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park, Boulder, and of course found time to check out the adorable neighborhood my sister lives in (near City Park). We had an absolute blast and cannot wait to find time to go visit again.

Denver View

One Up Bar

Reds/Rockies Game

Mountain Man

Colorado View

Stream

And last in the highlights we traveled to St. Joseph Missouri in September to go to our friends Steph and Horacio’s wedding. Another beautiful wedding and fun weekend road trip.

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Bride and Groom

This weekend I went tailgating in Iowa City for my other college roommate, Kim Franz’ bachelorette party and got to watch the Hawkeyes smoke Western Michigan (thank goodness!) Another wonderful weekend in the books with good friends, and can’t wait for Kim and Brandon’s wedding in February.

Kim's Bachelorette Party

There were plenty of other weekend funs throughout the summer, but way too many to recap. Now we’re slowing down for awhile…done with weddings for the year except G’s cousin Thanksgiving weekend. The fall weather has arrived and we’re enjoying our Sundays filled with football and relaxing.

Next I will have to catch you up on the crafts I’ve been making, house projects we’ve completed and ones we hope to finish soon, and more Pinterest bests and worsts, which I’ve found plenty of lately! Hope everyone else is enjoying this beautiful fall and harvest!

Nationwide was on Our Side….With a free trip to Texas!

Welcome back for part 2 of my vaca to Texas recap! You can read part one here if you haven’t already and get caught up!

After we left Austin, we headed to Horseshoe Bay, Texas where we stayed at a really fancy resort. As Megan’s guest, Nationwide paid for my flight and hotel, and also all my food and drinks at the resort, which was awesome! And I promise you we got our money’s worth on the drinks part! Plus we had an amazing gift basket in our room when we checked in filled with delicious snacks {including BOMB chips and salsa}, and Megs left with an iPad mini and freakin’ $50 gift card!! Seriously–great company!

It was about a 60 minute drive from Austin to Horseshoe Bay, but it was a gorgeous ride. I thought for sure Texas would be flat and brown, but it was hilly and green, which totally surprised me. We also drove right past Willie Nelson‘s house–and although all we could see was the gate {obviously adorned with music notes and cowboy boots!}, it was still pretty cool knowing we’d seen it. Once we got to the resort we checked in and headed straight to the pool in our swim suits. At a hot 80+ degrees, we didn’t want to waste ANY time not soakin’ up the sun.

Gorgeous fountains at the resort

Gorgeous fountains at the resort

There was even a real grass mini golf course at the resort!

There was even a real grass mini golf course at the resort!

Gorgeous flowers

Gorgeous flowers

After several hours, it was time to get ready for dinner.

girls at dinnerFun fact–My dress was one I bought as a $14.98 “final sale” item at Loft a couple years ago as a possible bachelorette party or rehearsal dinner dress, and HAD NEVER WORN IT. Literally, I probably bought it in 2010 or 2011, and I packed it with the tags still on it. But I threw a cardigan over it and added a belt and I thought it turned out looking pretty cute! I’ll have to wear it again soon! 🙂

Dinner & cocktails were served outside over looking the lake at sunset. Hellooooo amazing Texas! After dinner we went back to the hotel where the party continued well into the night. It was an absolute blast–and I can’t say it enough, but such fun people!

Saturday morning Megs had work obligations, but as her lucky guest, I had the morning free to relax. My new friend Emily and I spent the morning at the spa since it was overcast outside, and went from the relaxation pool, to the hot tub, to the sauna, to the steam room, and back around again. It was the perfect way to relax and nurse my {slight} hangover.

Spa day

That afternoon Megs and I had our spa day. We had chosen to get manis and pedis, but unfortunately were not scheduled for the same time. We had the cutest lady ever doing our services, Penni. She was pure Texan through and through–and we loved her fun energy and of course Texas accent–and drinking wine didn’t hurt make it a great time, too. While we were getting our nails done, a group of about 6 guys and a barber walked in. They were in a wedding at the resort, and the barber had been hired to pamper the guys before the wedding. I’m not sure how they got put in the same little room as we were getting our nails done in, but Megs and I were sure glad they did–they were VERY attractive men {aka, delicious eye candy}. AND we came to find out they were FIRE FIGHTERS from Austin. I think poor Megs about passed out when she found that out! And it was hilarious how many of the ladies who worked in the salon kept coming in, giggling, asking them if they needed anything. Needless to say, we were especially disappointed when Penni told us it was time to go. If Megan ever goes missing, and people are wondering where she could be, I’m heading down to Austin and will start looking in every fire department I can find.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have much more time to lay out after our spa day, but we went back to our room and took a little snooze before getting ready for the Nationwide awards dinner and reception.

girls outside

 

Horseshoe BayDinner was outside, and a 5 course meal at that. UNFORTUNATELY the beginning of the dinner it was sprinkling, so it was funny actually sitting outside eating in the rain….{literally rain drops were splashing in my glass of chard}. It was hilarious to look over and see most of the people with their napkins on their heads for protection. LUCKILY it didn’t last real long. So we survived. Phew!

They gave out awards, which MEGS WAS A ROCK STAR and got one of the top awards! I was so proud to be her “date!” After awards, they had a DJ and dance–and let me tell you this–the group of ladies from Nationwide in San Antonio KNEW HOW TO GET DOWN. They knew basically every dance from every music video….ever. I was incredibly impressed with this considering I never really watch music videos, let alone watch them enough to know the dances {except Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies” dance–obviously I know the hand move part from that…and I rocked that right along with them} But everyone dance and sang, and the DJ was totally into it. SUCH A BLAST!

Lady Friends!

Lady Friends!

A special request for a 2-Step

A special request for a 2-Step

Dancing

And last, but not least--someone tell me how you have more fun than these guys?

And last, but not least–someone tell me how you have more fun than these guys?

I really wish I would have taken more dancing pictures and crowd pictures as more and more people joined in. But I was having too much fun! We were super sad to see the night end. When we got back to our room, we had to pack our bags and head to bed since we had to be up to catch a shuttle at 7 am the next morning. BOOOOOOO for vacation ending.

We got home without any trouble, and as bummed as I was to leave the sunshine, I was pretty excited to get home to G and of course Dory. How could I not miss this cutie?!?

DoryDog

I cannot wait to go back to Austin sometime and take G with me, as I know he would love it as much as I did. A HUGE thank you to my friend Megs for asking me to go with her….what a memorable vaca and I can’t wait to do it again someday!

Any suggestions for our next vacation!?!? I’m ready to start saving and planning!!!

 

 

We Kept Austin Weird…And Then Some!

Seriously, friends. If you need a new job, go apply to be in sales at Nationwide RIGHT NOW! My amazing GF Megs won an incentive trip through her job at Nationwide and was kind enough to take me as her +1. Boy did I luck out! We traveled a day early to Austin so we could spend a full day and night checking out the city with some of her work peeps. {Check out my travel shenanigans here.} I cannot tell you enough about how fun these cats she works with were, though. Megs is lucky to work with such a nice and fun bunch of people–and I was lucky to spend a long weekend and my first trip to Texas with them all!!

When we got to Austin we walked around 6th Street and immediate chose The Jackalope for our first beer and lunch. I had a Jalapeno Honey Bacon Burger, and it was freakin’ delish. Plus, we learned that in Texas you drink Lone Star Beers and there was a GIANT JACKALOPE THAT YOU COULD RIDE at the entrance. Enough said!

Megs riding the Jackalope!

Megs riding the Jackalope!

From there we pretty much bar hopped and walked around 6th Street and the Industrial District. {Waterloo Records was a pretty sweet spot, and we even got ice cream at Texas’ own Amy’s Ice Cream} Oh, and we took this awesome group photo. Yah…it was a pretty good day!

Austin Group

That night we got dressed up and we to an AMAZING dinner at La Condesa…a restaurant that I recommend 200%. It was AH-MAZ-ING. The ONLY thing I negative I can say was that I didn’t really think the marg I had there was the best. But the food more than made up for it. Plus we started with this rock star guac and salsas mix. You really cannot go wrong with this appetizer. Get to Austin, and eat there NOW!!

Salsa

I looked for more pics from our night in Austin–dancing to live music, drinking, laughing–but I guess I was having too much fun to document it. Oh well….lets just say it was a blast! There were roof top patios on many of the bars and the Iowas were lovin’ it in the Texas heat! My only negative comment I could say about 6th Street was that pretty much every bathroom I went into made me want to gag, and several of the bars reeked of vom. BUT we were definitely in a “college town” area and we weren’t going to fancy places, so I shouldn’t really complain. I’ve seen Iowa City bars look worse on a football Saturday!!!

Early the next morning we got up and walked to the capital to do some site seeing and I played photographer for Megan’s fashion blog. I wore my adorable new dress my mom had given me from Loft that she’d picked up while working her one weekend day a month job {helllloooo employee discount!}.

austin 563576_10101135441498100_456513320_n

Then we walked, and walked, and walked looking for a little coffee shop to eat some brunch, but when we got to where we thought we were going, we were disappointed to know it had closed. Ugh, so we went into this little dive bar looking place to ask where we should go. They convinced us to stay, and we sat at the bar chatting with the manager while we waited for our lunch. Turns out, the Texas Chili Parlor is actually a kind of famous place. Watch this video to see it featured on the Travel Channel!

TX Chili Parlor

It was too hot out for chili, but we were sure glad we literally stumbled into the restaurant, because the food was great, the beer was cold, and turns out we hit a landmark without even trying! AND I was able to get my dad and G a sweet souvenir t-shirt there, which I really think they’ll like {sorry for the spoiler, Dad!} We crammed a LOT into our short 24 hours in Austin, but I think we did a great job seeing as much as possible and getting {a piece of} the full experience. And I am DEFINITELY making a trip back sometime. G would love it there, and I’m sure there’s plenty more to see! The weather is pretty much to die for, too–at least this time of year.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the rest of our weekend at the incredible Horseshoe Bay resort and how much Nationwide hooked us up. I’ll also share the story of Megan meeting her dream man while we were getting our nails done at the salon!

Oh, and before I go I wanted to give a shout out to one of my favorite bloggers —Sheaffer over at Pinterest Told Me To–because she JUST HIT 1 million views on her blog {ummm, I was REALLY PUMPED when I hit 1 THOUSAND views}, AND she was really sweet to comment on my blog about what to wear in Texas. Her advice about the cardigans came in handy and was spot on, and it was just awesome to hear from someone I think is pretty cool!  So congrats on your milestone, Sheaffer!! Can’t wait to see where you’ll go from here!!