February 15, 2017

Why I Decided to Take My Husband's Name

This is a hotly debated topic in the world of wedding planning and femininity. Whether or not you, as a bride, should change your name when you get married. Should you take your husband's name? Should you keep your maiden name? What about a hyphenated surname?

This is an INCREDIBLY personal decision. Your name is your identity. Everyone has their own reasons why they want to, or don't want to change their name when they get married. I love reading and hearing about why women made the choice they did, so I decided to share mine with you.

I never thought about keeping my maiden name until I was in my 20s. I had just always been "Alex Stacey," and marriage wasn't really on the horizon yet. I didn't have to think about it.

When Dave and I got more serious and knew that marriage was in the future, I started to think about it. I thought it would be hard to transition to a new name, and I liked how my name sounded with my maiden name in it.

But then I started to really notice something. Since I had a first name as a surname, people would often get confused and call me "Stacey." Even if they were reading it. A couple of times when asked my last name and answered accordingly, I got "No I said your LAST name."

Guys, that is really freaking annoying. Yes, I do know what my last name is actually. I'm not the one who is confused here.

Very quickly I started thinking about taking Dave's last name. It's kind of a tough one to pronounce, but it is INFINITELY better than someone just assuming your name is what it isn't.

As I thought more and more about it, I really started to get attached to the idea. We always joke around about how we are #teamwhy, and I wanted to be part of that team. I wanted us to be a family unit, not just in feel, but in name too.

I have so much respect for those of you who choose to keep your surname when you get married. I don't think I could have done it. For me, that was really the biggest change when we got married. Although I did keep my maiden name as my middle name, so I think that counts a little bit!

Speaking of changing your name... I have a great giveaway on my Instagram for anyone looking to change theirs! I'm giving one lucky winner credit for a print-at-home package from HitchSwitch! I had a great experience with HitchSwitch (which you can check out here), and I am so excited to offer this to one lucky person. Go check it out!

February 13, 2017

The Best Books I've Read in 2016

By now you all know that I read a ton last year, and I pretty much talked about all the books on this blog. You can check those out here. I thought it would be fun to round up my favorite and highest rated books. I am always looking for suggestions about what to read, so I thought I'd share. 

If you aren't on Goodreads, you totally should be. I love that I can keep track of what I've read, rate books, and get recommendations based on those ratings. I recommend creating an account to every book lover I come across.

These are all books that I rated either four or five stars. I hope this list helps you pick your next read, or possibly even the next read for a book club!

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Illustrated Edition) by J.K. Rowling

Honolulu by Alan Brennert
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
Room by Emma Donoghue
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
11/22/63 by Stephen King
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
'Salem's Lot by Stephen King
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner
The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy
The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig
Victoria by Daisy Goodman
The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown
Moonlight over Paris by Jennifer Robson
The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

What were the best books you read last year? Share the titles in the comments!

February 10, 2017

The Numbers Game

Happy Friday Friends! The past few weeks have been killer, and I am so ready for the weekend. I mentioned on my Instagram that I've had a never-ending headache the past few weeks, but hopefully, after a really bad couple of days, I've turned the corner. Say a prayer for me.

I have seen this post in a couple of different places and had it on my list of posts for a while now. This cold Friday seems like the perfect time to get to know this blogger.

Me at about age 6, before I learned to keep my eyes open when I smile.
500 - Posts have been published on Always, Al! I can't even believe that!

3 - How many states I've lived in.

50 - Number of books I read last year.

6 - Books read so far in 2017.

27 - How old I am.

8 - Salads get prepped every week for lunches.

1 - Kitty calls me mom.

200 - The number of guests at our July 2016 wedding.

3 - Average loads of laundry washed per week.

90 - Ounces of water that I try to drink per day

1,700 - Steps in my morning commute.

7,000 - Average number of steps taken per day.

112 - Books currently on my bookshelf, which is organized in rainbow order.

13 - Orders from Amazon so far in 2017.

52 - Orders from Amazon in 2016.

2 - On average, how many rolls of toilet paper ruby ruins in one week.

5 - (Unfortunately) empty growlers sitting on top of my fridge.

45 - The number of minutes it takes me to get ready in the morning.

12 - How many house guests we have had while living in Pittsburgh.

4 - My favorite number, and always the number on my jersey when I played sports.

February 8, 2017

DIY Dried Herb Boutonnieres

I already showed you guys the freaking amazing floral arrangements that our wedding florist was able to create WITHIN our budget. Well, part of the reason why we were able to stay in budget is that I did a few of the things we needed myself.

For those long time blog readers, you might remember when Elsie from A Beautiful Mess got married. She did a ton of DIY stuff for her wedding, including some really awesome feather boutonnieres.

When I was pinning inspiration for the flowers, I kept coming up with the combination of rosemary and dried lavender for the guys. I always like when the boutonnieres are somewhat masculine, and not too flowery.

Using Elsie's tutorial, I created all the boutonnieres for Dave, the groomsmen, the dads and grandpas, and the officiant. And it probably took me 2 hours one weekend.

I ordered the dried lavender from September Tree, and the lace tape from DubuDumo, which are both on Etsy. A coworker gave me a ton of rosemary from her yard.

The ONLY thing I would do differently in the future would be to make them smaller. I think shorter bunches would look better on the lapel.

These turned out great and smelled SO good. You can pretty much use any dried herbs, but I suggest using a contrasting combination. Since the lavender was purple and had blossoms, I went with the rosemary which is green and has a spiky texture.

If you have a special event coming up, I highly suggest this DIY! It is so easy, and if you use dried herbs, you can keep the boutonniere as a special heirloom!

February 6, 2017

Back to School, Back to School...

Happy Monday my friends! I am ready for a new week. This weekend was just what the doctor ordered--quiet, relaxing, and I got a TON of stuff done. We have another two weekends of guests coming up, and I feel like we are in a good place for that. Let me tell ya, I have so much fun hosting our family and friends, but it makes this introvert tired.

I've mentioned a couple of times that I just started working on my Master's degree--specifically an MBA in Sports, Arts, and Entertainment Management (SAEM). This is something I have wanted to do for a while, and it feels SO good to get back into the classroom and flex those learning muscles!

Ever since I graduated with my Bachelor's degree, I knew that I wasn't done with school. I love to learn, and I always dreamed of adding letters to the end of my name. When we lived in Norfolk, life was just way too crazy to commit to classes, and honestly, we couldn't afford it.

But when I started my job in Pittsburgh, part of the reason why I accepted was because of their awesome tuition remission program. I can take 6 credits per semester, and only need to pay the fees (about $160 for 3 credits). How could I not take advantage of that?

So I applied, was accepted and registered for classes. I started in the beginning of January with just one class, Accounting for Managers.

I felt really self-conscious about taking classes after a few years in the workforce. I was pretty nervous about it actually. Would it be too hard? Would I remember how to study, etc? Am I smart enough to go to school for an MBA?

But you know what? I am smart enough. And I am a hard worker.

Nothing ever gets accomplished by staying where you are comfortable. If you want something, go get it. Make it happen.

I am the first one to use an excuse to stay in my comfort zone, but I am SO glad that I took the leap and started my Master's. I am absolutely loving my class and guys...I understand the material!

If this bookish introvert can do it, you certainly can. Whatever it might be that you want to accomplish, GO DO IT. I'll be right here rooting for you (after I finish my homework).