3 Ways to Be Financially Responsible In Your Marriage

So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? – Luke 16:11

Financially_Responsible
Photo by Derek Couts Photography

Before the vows are said and the rings are exchanged, many couples like to prepare for the transition from dating to married life by discussing a variety of topics.

Where do we want to live? How many kids do we want to have? What church will we attend? What lifelong goals do we want to achieve?

Financial goals and expectations are topics that need to be discussed as well! Money is a large component of marriage, whether we like it or not, that has the ability to help or harm it. I’m not saying that money is everything, but when we steward our finances with intentionality and consistency, we add a level of comfort and convenience to our marriages that makes them more fun and enjoyable for both you and your spouse!

Here are a few things to help you do just that:

1. Keep a budget
I’ve hit on this topic before in a previous post, but it’s so important and I think bringing it up again is worthwhile. Setting a budget and sticking to it is how you and your spouse are going to reach your financial goals later on down the road. It might not be very fun when you first get into it, but you will thank yourself later for paying off debts and not overspending.

Being financially responsible by keeping a budget is just a better way to live. You will be able to do more things, go more places, and when unexpected events come your way, like an emergency room visit, you won’t be sent into a panic wondering whether or not you can foot the bill.

2. Make financial decisions together
Daniel and I have only lived in our apartment for a few months and we are just starting out. There are a few things that we’d like to have for our home, but we know that it’s not in our best financial interest to purchase these things just yet. However, there are several big ticket items I’ve had my eye on for a while now that I just know would make our little abode more homey and inviting. How easy would it be for me to hop on Wayfair and buy all the fancy rugs I’ve been ogling for months or go to Home Goods and buy everything in the store? Super easy!! But I have a feeling that my husband wouldn’t be very pleased with me if he were to check our bank account at the end of the day and discover that I had spent hundreds of dollars without consulting him first. So, we make our financial decisions together, no matter how big or small they are.

It might seem a bit trivial, but even when I plan on buying something small for our apartment, like a lamp or a pillow, or go searching for a new work outfit, I always let Daniel know what I intend to buy and how much I expect it to cost so that it doesn’t come as a surprise to him when he checks our account.

Communicating your purchases to your spouse can prevent a lot of arguments and ensures that you are both aware of your current financial status.

3. Have a joint bank account
I know this can be a wishy washy subject for some couples, but hear me out on this. When we commit to spending the rest of our lives with someone, why would we exclude our finances from that commitment? That’s like saying, “I promise to spend the rest of my life with you, through sickness and in health, till death do us apart … buuuuut I’m gonna need to keep my bank account separate from yours, ok?” It doesn’t work that way!

Having separate bank accounts can potentially lead to bad spending habits and a point of contention between you and your spouse.

Having separate bank accounts can potentially lead to bad spending habits and a point of contention between you and your spouse.

Let me clear this up a bit: If you and your spouse share a bank account, your husband or wife has the ability to check the account whenever they wish. They can see every penny coming in and going out of the account. This holds each of you accountable. This is good!

On the flip side, if you and your spouse have separate accounts, you can spend as much money as you want without having to disclose that information to anyone other than yourself. So when you know you’ve spent more money than you should have and you don’t want your spouse to know, you might find yourself lying about how much you’ve actually spent. When lies and deceit begin to enter our marriages, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem at first, we are setting ourselves up for a long and bumpy road that can easily be avoided.

When lies and deceit begin to enter our marriages, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem at first, we are setting ourselves up for a long and bumpy road that can easily been avoided.

By keeping a budget, making financial decisions together and having a joint bank account, you and your spouse will set yourselves up for financial and marital success, and be able to fully enjoy the fruits of your labor “as long as you both shall live”!

3 Ways To Survive Your First Job After College

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When I was about to graduate college and searching for full time employment, a lot of people said to me, “Don’t snatch up the first job that comes your way!”.

I repeated these words over and over in my head and told myself, promised myself, that I would follow this advice.

But after I filled out a couple applications, talked my way through some phone interviews and was offered a job at a hotel a few weeks later, it was as if I had never heard that advice in the first place.

You see, after making nearly nothing at all in college, I jumped at the first job I was offered because it sounded like a million dollar deal at the time! Mind you, my starting salary wasn’t much, but for a fresh-outta-college gal like myself, it was enough to reel me in.

My start date was a week and a half after graduation and although I wished I had more of a summer break before I started working, I was ready to make some money. Donned in my new work clothes with my lunch box in hand, I headed out the door to sit in traffic alongside thousands of other working adults.

It didn’t take me long to realize what a big fat mistake I had made.

And I don’t say that because I didn’t want to work or that I was a lazy college grad.

Have you ever had a job that you knew you just weren’t cut out for? This was the exact thought that entered my mind after two short weeks at my new job.

Every day I dreaded going in and I practically sprinted out the door when my shift was over. I dealt with grumpy guests during my 10+ hour days which only added to my misery. Thankfully, I was transferred to another hotel once the summer came to a close, and my situation drastically improved.

But the good thing about going through tough times is that you come out on the other side having learned something. And maybe that something learned can help out someone else in the long run. Although I was very unhappy at my first job after college, I learned a few ways to cope with my less than idyllic situation that I hope you can put to use if you ever find yourself in similar shoes.

1. Find a mentor(s)
My parents were and are my best mentors. They didn’t let me take the easy way out by quitting my job, but they did help me see the good side of things. For example, they kept reminding me that I was able to save up money so that Daniel and I would have a nice little cushion once we got married. And my mom would always tell me, “At least you know now what you don’t want to do, which is just as important as figuring out what you do want to do!”. Keep this in mind when you are searching for a new job and steer clear of positions that are similar to the one you are trying to get out of.

Figuring out what you don’t want to do is just as important as figuring out what you do want to do. Keep this in mind when you are searching for a new job and steer clear of positions that are similar to the one you are trying to get out of.

Along with my parents, a few supervisors at the hotel I was transferred to after the summer took me under their wing. They made it fun to come to work, they taught me new things every day, and they listened to me when I needed to rant. Sometimes all it takes to feel valued and appreciated at your job is for someone to listen to what you have to say.

Sometimes all it takes to feel valued and appreciated at your job is for someone to listen to what you have to say.

2. Be a positivity sponge 
Most days at my job, the only thing that kept me going was listening to the Christian radio station, K-Love, during my morning and afternoon commutes. If it weren’t for those songs pouring out encouragement through the speakers and lifting my spirits before and after work, I wouldn’t have had the mental strength to go in each day. We can’t control what will happen to us at work, but we can control what we fill our minds with outside of it.

We can’t control what will happen to us at work, but we can control what we fill our minds with outside of it.

2. Have an end date in mind 
I knew I didn’t want to be at this job for much longer, but I didn’t want to quit either. The only way I could keep going was to dangle a carrot in front my nose. I told myself, “Just make it through the summer”. So I did. Then I told myself, “Just make it until the end of the year”. So I did that too. And around this time, Daniel told me that he had been offered a job back in Knoxville. With his new job lined up and our wedding right around the corner, I knew I only had 2-3 months left at my job. I was ecstatic! Finally, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. With an end date in sight, my outlook completely shifted.

Now, I don’t encourage you to up and quit your job without seriously thinking it through and consulting with your family and mentors first, but the truth of the matter is, if you aren’t happy at your job, nothing is going to change if you don’t have a plan in place to improve your situation. Whether that’s applying for five new jobs every week or making a deal with yourself to only stay put at your current job for one year and then move on, having an end date in mind with a plan to meet it will keep you motivated and determined to reach your goal.

If you aren’t happy at your job, nothing is going to change if you don’t have a plan in place to improve your situation.

With guidance from your mentors, staying focused on the positive, and reminding yourself that this season of life won’t last forever, I am confident that you will not only survive your first job after college, but that you will set yourself up for success for your next job as well!

16 Free and Cheap Couples Activities in Knoxville

Like many newlywed couples just starting out, Daniel and are on a budget. Although we are only four months into our marriage, we have established some financial goals that we want to achieve within the year that won’t be possible without a little sacrifice.

In addition to our monthly bills, we have another financial obligation that currently requires a healthy bit of attention from our bank account. As a result, we are left with a limited budget to spend on “the fun stuff”. However, this has made us better at making do with what we have when it comes to date nights and weekend outings.

Some of our favorite free or cheap activities are too good to keep to ourselves, so I want to share them with you in hopes that you and your significant other will give them a try! Not only are all of these activities extremely forgiving on your budget, but they will make you feel like you still have a social life.

1. Hiking
One of our favorite recreational activities since we are only a 45 minute drive from the Smoky Mountains. Pack your lunch with food from home rather than eating out along the way. You’ll have lunch with a view once you reach the top! Mountain views are priceless, literally.

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2. Buy cheap floats at the Dollar Store and have a lazy day floating on the quarry, lake, or down a river
We bought these floats at the beginning of the summer for $3 and I’d say we’ve gotten our money’s worth out of them! Floating at Mead’s Quarry a few miles down the road from our apartment is our favorite spot.

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3. Go to a minor league baseball game
Tickets to the Smokies game cost us around $20 and we were pleasantly surprised by how much fun we had! The fireworks at the end of the game were an added bonus.

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 4. Keep an eye out for festivals and events in your city
Our city has a biweekly Farmer’s Market during the warmer months and a festival for just about anything you can think of. This year, Knoxville hosted the USA Cycling Pro Road and Time Trial Championships in June. We spent the whole day walking around the city and stopping at different spots to watch the group of cyclists race past us.

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5. Take a walk or trail run at Ijams or ride your bike along the greenway
We live a few miles away from Ijams Nature Center where we like to go for evening runs. Every time we go, we always find a new trail or feature that we’ve never stumbled upon before. This year, we got to run alongside fields full of bright yellow sunflowers that popped up in July at Forks of the River!

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6. Free or cheap concerts at your local honky tonk or bar
Music is just better live, don’t ya think? Songs are brought to life when you see a band or artist perform them in person. Cotton Eyed Joe brings in new artists each month, often for free or usually less than $20 per ticket. This month we saw Midland, and tickets to see Joe Nichols in August are only $10!

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7. Happy Hour
If you are the kind of person who would rather sip on an adult beverage at a bar with your friends than at home by yourself, happy hour is for you. Our favorite downtown bar, Scruffy City Hall, has $2.50 beers during happy hour, and that makes us, well, happy.

8. Line dancing lessons
When I was in college, a couple friends and I would go to Cotton Eyed Joe to learn how to line dance. We go on ‘college night’, so we’d get in for free and attempt to learn the complicated steps to songs. More often than not, we’d fumble through the steps, but we still had a blast every time!

20120989_10155632659886600_1887081229_n9. Hang out at your apartment or neighborhood pool
Relaxing, close to home and free! I’ve never met anyone who’s said “no” to a day at the pool.

10. ENO at a park
Bring a book to read while you swing from the trees at Sequoyah Hills.

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11. Get a library card
This may seem super old fashioned to some people, but library cards are free if you live in the county that the library is located. You can rent an endless supply of books and return them when you’re finished instead of holding onto books you probably won’t read again and take up space on your shelves.

12. Bowling
Strike & Spare bowling alleys always have specials during the weekdays for $1.10 games, and they do cosmic bowling on Friday and Saturday after 10 p.m. which is sUpEr FuN.

13. $2.50 theater
Knoxville has an old school theater that sells movie tickets for $2.50, and there’s a Big Lots next door that you can stop in for a quick candy run if you forgot your snacks at home.

14. Camping
In my experience, you can rent most tent campsites for less than $30. Besides, eating dinner by candlelight is way more magical than at the kitchen table.

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15. Have friends over for dinner
Eating out gets really expensive and if you don’t monitor how much you’re forking out at restaurants (or forking into your mouth), you’ll start to see those dollars dwindle pretty quickly. This was, and still is, our biggest recreational expense. It’s especially hard during the summer months when all you want to do is get ice cream after dinner, but even that can add up if you make it a weekly habit. We’ve started eating in a lot more lately and although it’s sometimes a pain to come home after work and cook every night, it’s worth the money that we saved by not eating out, and healthier too!

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16. Go sight-seeing in your own city 
You’ll never know how much your city has to offer unless you get out an explore it for yourself!

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What are your favorite free or cheap things to do with your significant other? Have any suggestions for us that you’d like to share? E-mail us at hello.ataleoftwothompsons@gmail.com!

A Thrifty Gal’s Guide to Knoxville’s Best Antique & Vintage Stores

What is it about old, rusty antiques that we find so endearing? Maybe it’s the stories that they carry with them from owner to owner. Or perhaps we think that the older something is, the more character it has. Whatever the reason, you can’t deny that feeling of excitement when you stumble upon a souvenir from yesteryear. Whether it’s an old red lantern or a mint green typewriter with delicate little keys, knowing that you can’t find that item at the local Hobby Lobby or Target thrills you even more.

Now that I’m an official Knoxvillian and because I don’t like to keep a juicy deal all to myself, I’ve decided to share with you several of my favorite antique/vintage/thrift/bargain (All fancy words for ‘old stuff’) stores in the area.

Before we jump in, I think it’s best that you know the back story. The reason for my fascination with things not from my time.

So, here’s where it all began:

Goodwill Industries – Knoxville, Kingston Pike 

Website: http://www.gwiktn.org/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GWIKTN/

A couple of years ago, while I was on my Goodwill kick (Let’s be honest, I’m still on my Goodwill kick), I was rummaging through the shelves at my favorite Goodwill location. As my eyes scanned the various knick knacks, they came to a screeching halt when I spotted a large, mint green object that was tossed haphazardly onto the middle shelf.

“Is that what I think it is?”,  I thought to myself as I reached for it quickly.

I grabbed the cover handle and, with quite the effort, due to the unexpected weight of the thing, flipped it right side up so that I could get a better look at this forgotten treasure. As I lifted up the cover, rows and rows of square, mint green keys stared back at me. It WAS what I thought it was after all — a typewriter! I had been wanting one since high school, but could never bring myself to dish out the dollars for it when I knew I would find one for the right price at the right time. All of my waiting had finally paid off. For $30, I was able to take home my 1958 Hermes 3000. When I got home, I discovered that my thrifted trinket would not only make a charming addition to my room, but it was also functional, and had the most delightful swirly girly font. Fast forward two years, Herman the Hermes has typed many letters to friends and family and was even displayed at our wedding this past March. My typewriter not only holds the history of its past owners, but now mine as well.

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If you’ve been searching endlessly for a particular item to embellish your home, like my hunt for a typewriter, these shops might just be your best bet.

Nostalgia

Website: http://www.nostalgiamarket.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NostalgiaKnoxville/

Nostalgia has some of the neatest little baubles I’ve ever seen, and many of them are in great condition, including some typewriters. However, be prepared to spend a little more on these items since they are in such great shape. They also have boxes of old postcards worth thumbing through and a great collection of reasonably priced records that are conveniently alphabetized if I’m remembering correctly. In addition to their plethora of vintage pieces, they carry handmade cards and coasters from local Knoxville artisans. Nostalgia is located in The District in Bearden off of Kingston Pike and I would definitely recommend carving out an hour during a rainy afternoon to make a visit.

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Knox Heritage Salvage Shop

Website: http://knoxheritage.org/salvage/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheKnoxHeritageSalvageRoom/?ref=br_rs

I cannot do this shop justice with my own words, so here’s what they have to say for themselves:

“The Salvage Shop is a program of Knox Heritage, accepting donated historic building materials to prevent these valuable items from going to the landfill. These items are re-sold to benefit Knox Heritage. The Salvage Shop’s inventory is stocked with items to help restore historic homes or serve as the base materials for new projects. The shop’s Facebook page is constantly updated with new additions to the inventory, as well as inspiration for up-cycled projects and customers sharing their own work with the community. The shop also rents studio space to local artists”

WOW, how cool is that? It’s not every day that you find a group of people dedicated to preserving the bits and pieces that add character to an old home instead of trading it out for all things new. If you consider yourself a creative person who has vision and the ability to see the potential in an item even in its beginning stages, start Salvaging! I stopped in this shop recently and they had some really unique pieces that could be HGTV worthy if the right person comes along and gives them a little time, effort and a fresh coat of paint!

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This piano was only selling for $150! *googly eyes*

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Tons of old wooden window panes and doors waiting for someone to pick them up for their next DIY project!

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Vintage Treasures

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Vintage-Treasures-414928118714136/

Vintage Treasures is on Kingston Pike, located in the same strip mall as Four Seasons. I visited Vintage Treasures with my mom a couple of years ago when it went by a different name and was under different ownership, and to be honest, I wasn’t crazy about what they had to offer. However, I visited recently and they have new owners who are so sweet and friendly and have really done the place up right! It’s clean and organized and the store goes on for miles. They have an extensive collection of old books, super cheap records, and typewriters to boot! I got a Hall & Oates record for $3.50 which I would have gotten for five times that amount at another record store that I visit from time to time.

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Retrospect Vintage Store

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Retrospect-Vintage-Store-189142077953204/

If your taste is a bit old school like mine and 60s/70s era doodads strike your fancy (I’m talkin’ macrame plant hangers, plaid couches and matching Pyrex sets), this place is especially for you. Retrospect looks like a scene straight out of That 70s Show. When I stopped in for the first time, it was a gorgeous sunny day and I could hear their 60s tunes spilling through the open doors. They have a large selection of vintage clothing and funky dishware that would make Austin Powers himself green with envy.

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If these mushroom cookie jars and baby blue tuxedo don’t make you want to visit the shop, I don’t know what will.

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Does anyone else remember these macrame owls hanging in your grandparent’s houses?

Tea & Treasures

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/teatreasures/?ref=br_rs

Daniel, my mom and I passed by Tea & Treasures on our way back from a BBQ lunch in Maryville and we immediately turned the car around because we were intrigued by this big, white Victorian and what might be inside. We were greeted by a little red cart stacked high with books parked by the sidewalk that winds its way up to the front porch. Once inside, we grabbed some refreshments while we browsed the upstairs and downstairs of the old house. The shop sells mostly local artisan crafts such as the coasters I mentioned earlier, that are made by Set in Stone Sisters. The coasters feature historic buildings and landmarks in Knoxville such as the Tennessee Theater, the big JFG coffee sign in South Knoxville and the Sunsphere. We have two of them sitting on our own coffee table at home. The shop is located in Vestal off Martin Mill Pike.

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Bearden Antique Mall

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BeardenAntiques/

This is a great place for anyone who has a little extra dough to spend on big ticket items such as a dining room set, living room furniture or a solid wood headboard. However, they do have some smaller items for sale on the first floor like these two typewriters. Even if you’re just there to browse, the Bearden Antique Mall is worth checking out simply to walk on the creeky wooden floorboards on the second floor. Nostalgia and Vintage Treasures are just a short drive from here, so you can visit all three if you’ve got a free afternoon on your hands.

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You’ll want to follow these shops on Instagram as well so that you can see their most recent items for sale. The majority of these shops post new things every day and following them on social media will give you a good idea of what they each carry in store as well as some cool events that they take part in every year!

What are your favorite antique stores? If there are any I didn’t mentioned who should have been, recommend them in the comments below for future exploration!

Island Smilin’ // Honeymooning in the Dominican

Scavenging for coconuts on the beach, kayaking out to the reef, swimming alongside colorful sea critters and swooning hundreds of foreigners with the sweet melodies of Garth Brooks on karaoke night made for an unforgettable honeymoon and Daniel’s first time out of the country!

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We enjoyed eating all of our meals by the pool!

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I wouldn’t have minded a bigger cup 😉

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My knight in shining orange!

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How can you be mad about frizzy beach hair when you’re in paradise?

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We had some luck at the casino a couple nights in a row and then it went all downhill after that…

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We’re all a little coconutty.

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We found the Magic Conch!img_4994img_4991img_4795img_4796img_4797img_4808img_4810img_4811img_4812img_4815img_4816img_4817img_4818img_4820img_4821img_4822img_4997img_4998img_4995img_5004img_5008img_5007

I felt it was only appropriate to eat my daily pound of pineapple while wearing my pineapple romper.17820917_10155268008196600_1575792020_n

Setting out on our Snuba / Snorkeling / Speedboat adventure!img_5011img_5010img_5012img_5013

It’s really hard to look cool when you’ve got a huge snorkel mask attached to your face!img_501417813921_10155268008226600_578108862_nDSC_1523

They strapped weights around our waists to keep us from floating to the surface!DSC_1513DSC_1510img_5017img_5016img_5015img_5025img_5024img_4910

Looking forward to many more trips with my favorite travel partner & this little book.img_5023

Our wedding photographer gave us this leather bound travel journal with lots of cool stamps to mark each place we’ve visited together and included several Polaroid pictures  he took of us at our wedding.17797866_10155268008216600_2001390343_oWe’ll be back, Punta Cana!

Great Smoky Mountain Engagement Shoot

When your photographer hikes 8 miles in the cold, wind and rain while carrying all of his equipment and climbs up cliffs just to get the perfect shot of you and your fiancé, you know you picked the right person to share this sweet season of life with.

He not only conquered his fear of heights on our trip, but he also woke up at 4a.m. so we could start our hike by sunrise for good lighting. From the very beginning, he kept us laughing and made Daniel and I feel so at ease in front of the camera. He brought our vision to life and related our engagement photos back to something that is a huge part of Daniel’s and my relationship. We are absolutely blown away by the moments he captured and we cannot say enough good things about our talented friend and photographer, Derek Couts.

Here are just a few of our very favorite photos from this shoot. After scrolling through, please take some time to check out Derek’s work on his website and contact him for your wedding photography needs. I guarantee that he will exceed all of your expectations!

Photos: Derek Couts Nashville Wedding Photographer

Derek’s Website:  http://derekcouts.com/

Derek’s Blog: Charlie’s Bunion Engagement: Jill & Daniel

Engagement Shoot Video: Charlie’s Bunion: Jill and Daniel

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We cannot put our gratitude to Derek into words and we are still marveling over how he perfectly captured our relationship with each click of the shutter.

The Company You Keep

It’s hard to think that just a few weeks ago I was line dancing at sunset on the beach with two of the greatest friends I’ve ever had just days after we all graduated from the University of Tennessee. This week I’m working full time in the hustle and bustle of Nashville and I can’t help but reminisce on the simpler times of that last-minute beach trip of ours.

The day before we drove 8 hours down to Panama City Beach in Florida, we had no idea where we were going to stay or what we were going to do–something that I was completely not used to, being the big planner that I am. But everything went surprisingly smooth and we kept commenting on how easy the trip had been even though we hadn’t planned anything before we left!

We hunted for crabs and screamed when they fought back with their tiny pinchers, inhaled countless scoops of homemade ice cream, snorkeled around the jettys at St. Andrews State Park, took a ferry over to Shell Island and caught starfish, fed a crazy raccoon on the beach, marveled at hermit crabs who tried to escape us by burying themselves beneath the sand, snuck onto the back porch and dipped our toes into the pool of an uninhabited beachfront mansion, watched dolphins and ate home cooked meals from our balcony, made Southern Momma and Spongebob jokes while crashing into the waves, sang along to the same CD for the entire trip with our favorite country crooners, drove along Front Beach Road searching for the perfect seafood joint to get our shrimp fix, bought tacky matching shirts to wear on our way back home and made a pit stop in Alabama to take pictures with a giant peanut.

But even if our trip hadn’t gone quite as smooth as it had or if we hadn’t been able to do half of the things we got to do, the experience would have been more than worth it because of the company that was kept.

In the words of the Waters sisters, “You never forget who you go to the beach with”.

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