minus & plus

I went back to work today.
& the poinsettia plant I had in my office upped & DIED while I was away.
didn't even consider watering itself.
completely rude.
but. as if my little office home knew that I'd need a pick-me-up,
I had zero LETMESAYTHATAGAIN ZERO voicemails.
I hate voicemails. oh, I hate them so much.
so, this was a nice gift.

I bought a really sparkly card case wallet for a friend at work
& had to give it to her with her christmas gift today.
I was really enjoying pretending that shiny piece of wonderful was mine.
friend shares the same affinity for sparkles & got me a SPARKLY TRAVEL MUG.
fun fact: nearly bought her the same one. like, so close to buying it for her.

my cousin was in town for christmas & had to fly back to missouri this morning.
airport goodbyes aren't a fun way to start your day.
but! our home will soon be filled with friends joining us for the new year's weekend!

we went out to a vietnamese restaurant last night.
bad news, folks. not a pho fan.
I know it's the bomb dot com & what not but...
please pass the burgers.
however, I am a long time lover of bubble tea.
so, all my hipster pho-lovin' friends... we can still hang out.

I took out the christmas cd's from my car today. christmas is really over.
babies babies babies! & engagements! & spring weddings!
I may just survive this winter, after all.

but I am totally ashamed to admit that I'm a little bit over the giant tree in our family room.
I know. I know. never thought the day would come.
but it's so stinkin' big.
& the couch is in the middle of the room.
& it's shedding.
but it smells GOOOOOD these days!
probably because it's really truly officially dying.
can someone verify that?

my parents & little sisters are in missouri visiting my grandparents, & aunts & uncles & cousins.
& eating white castle. & playing in snow.
& we are not.
they're taking pictures of my grandparents' retro furniture
that I've staked a claim on since I was 8 & all about some 50's & 60's.
jared will finally get to see his future furniture!

speaking of jared.
he's been working. A LOT. 
& mostly closing shifts, which means he gets home at 11.
but I'm grateful for his job, & the fact that he still manages to stay up
& talk & laugh with me until we fall asleep.
it's just simply the best part of my day.

I need to clean this house. top to bottom.
& I'm determined to be in bed in 5 hours.
wish me luck ;)

xo, kelsey


lately: phone photos

1. some pretty december sunsets
2. my no-heat curl succes. I know I'm late to this party, but I'm a believer!
3. my man in wedding attire & his tree-picking-out ensemble
4. a rainy day & its effect on my work's outdoor ornament display.

[comical, really, that my follow up post after I got a big fancy camera is phone photos.
whateeeevs. my little phone certainly is not the best, but it gets the job done.]

xo, kelsey


as the wrapping paper settles...

... I've been getting acquainted with this beauty.
jared & my parents completely took me by surprise when I opened this christmas morning,
& I cried like a little baby.
while it's not a necessity, it is truly a blessing.
& a huge motivation to actually start printing photos.
oo! is that a new year's resolution I smell?

xo, kelsey


day after christmas

this is a pretty perfect example of what we've done today.
well, except jared. who's back at work. 
(so you enjoy that latte you're drinking while you return your christmas presents.
chances are that someone is wishing that the barista who made it was at home snuggling on the couch with them.)

ellie (my parents' golden doodle) was pretty much exhausted after an afternoon of present opening yesterday.
how the santa hat ended up on her head, I'll never know,
but she's preeeetty stinkin' cute.

xo, kelsey


christmas eve

there's a tradition in my family that aaaaall the present wrapping takes place on christmas eve.
& I love it & will continue zee tradition with essmann pride. ja.

santa kelsey's little elf helper konked out on me at 8 p.m., when nary a present had been wrapped.
but will I wake him? when my fingers are bleeding from tape slicing and ribbon curling?
no. because sweet husby is working his patooty off these days so that he can have important days off,
like days to spend with his family at the beach house this past week,
& new year's eve when all our wonderful friends are in town.
he is giving, of time & sleep & love.
& I could not be happier to be spending our 2nd married christmas eve with him & his snores.

& with that being said,
I'm off do to some serious present wrapping. & present rapping.
what whaaaat santa kelsey in daaa houuuuseee...

xo, (santa) kelsey



some photos from our long awaited trip to Christmastown in williamsburg with our dearest friends, 
amelia, andrew & allison. (we're the consonants of the crew.)
not even kidding, I woke up with grapefruit tonsils & clogged ears,
but neither rain nor sleet nor inflamed throat was keeping me from this outing.
& oh, what a fantastically holiday-licious outing it was.
these are our "it's snowing fake snow!!!" faces:
the ladies love gloves & mittens, the gents love Bear.
christmastown prettiness - it really is so so magical.
enjoying the christmas show in the festhaus over two kids meals & red velvet cake. keeping it classy.
I won't tell you how many times we took advantage of the dollar refills on the peppermint hot chocolate... 
but amelia's face MAY give it away.
not pictured: the impromptu caroling we led on the train ride.
what is there not to love about these people?
they are completely precious to us. such wonderful friends.
we just got home today from a couple days on the beach with jared's family, so now I have to start thinking about all the things I've told myself I'd do AFTER the beach house. the house is cluttered & there's still more shopping to do, & so many Christmas hymns to practice for the Christmas Eve & Christmas services at church this weekend! (the absolute best sort of piano practicing) but I am fulfilled. so much family all around. & friends home from their out of state jobs.

& lastly, my right side eyelashes have absolutely had a growth spurt in the last month. JUST the right side. but I'll take it. I don't understand it. but I'll take it.

xo, kelsey


noel, noel

our first Christmas card hit the mailboxes this past week!
I've always felt like you need a child or at least a pet to merit a Christmas card,
but clearly, weakened in my beliefs because it's fun. & Christmas cheer-y.
& by golly, it was a good excuse to buy a neon green scarf.

xo, kelsey


merry & bright

this is a little bit of what Christmas looks like around these here parts.
our faux mantle is serving it's best purpose as it now hosts our stockings,
& good news! so far, we've kept the tree alive!
we're also winning the wreath competition on our apartment floor, 
although our neighbors have no clue there is a competition.
but there is, & I'd totally fill that trophy with eggnog faster
than you can wash your hands, your face, your hair with snow.

just kidding. eggnog is pretty much completely gross.

I'm coordinating a wedding this weekend, & trying to mentally prepare, thusly.
Pretty stoked to be exhausted, but we're heading to Christmastown with friends on Sunday,
which will not only help me forget my exhaustion, but just might send me into a Christmas coma.


xo, kelsey


the first day of Christmas

when Jared called me on his way home from work today,
he told me he & his brother were going on an adventure to get a Christmas present for me.
I said, but Jared, haven't you already gotten my present??
genuinely surprised, but still a little twitterpated because haaaay... preseeeents.

so when I got home from work & found this sitting on the counter,
I was overjoyed & dangled it over my head,
walking around the house looking for my true love with the hottest fish-kiss face a girl can muster.

I love mistletoe. & this is year 5 that Jared has climbed a tree to get me some.
which, in turn, gets him some.
so everyone wins.

& I, the Christmas queen bee, didn't even realize that today
was the beginning of the 12 days of Christmas.
husby earned gryffindor like 6,000 points on that one.
he is thoughtful. & wonderful.

oh, & done with all his finals.
smarty pants.

xo, kelsey


wedding - after session

some polaroids from our bridal shoot with korie lynn photography...
can't get enough.
we just got the package with ALL the photos on it in the mail today,
& I'll be posting some of our favorites as soon as possible.
which mean, yes, I haven't even peeked at the full set yet.
in the mean time, you can spy on the photos korie posted here.

& while you do that, I'm going to light about 46 more candles
to get rid of the smell I created tonight when I almost burned down our apartment
just for a dang grilled cheese sammich. 

xo, kelsey

ps. thanks to this beauty for snapping the behind-the-scenes polaroids!


the elliphant

I went over to my parents' on saturday night for some QT with the baby seester,
& someone decided to join me on the couch.
this little girl pup must know that I'm completely in love with her,
because she got a photo sesh instead of a reprimand.
whatever. she's completely precious & omgahhhh I want a puppy sooo baaaddddd-duh.

not just yet.
we need a yard.
& one of us to be home a little more often.
*sigh* someday.

in the meantime,
I'll be cuddling with ellie & pretending that she remembers that december day 
when just barely engaged jared & kelsey picked her up from the farm in maryland
& brought her to her new home.
through 9 hours of traffic on a should-be 5 hour drive, she sat in my lap & laid by my feet,
disappearing into the snow every time we stopped to let her out.
so precious. & had I a scanner, I'd share the polaroids.

oh hey!
speaking of sharing photos...
Korie posted some of our photoshoot that we had with her last month & they do not disappoint.
in fact, they've sent me a little bit over the moon.
I'm completely smitten.
we're totally thrilled.
& there's more pictures on the way! wahhhh!

the cranberries are chilling & the corn pudding is prepped for the holiday party at work tomorrow.
now it's time to shower off the sparkles that I may or may not have sprinkled all over myself 
while decorating the office christmas tree today. 

because I'm a little bit magical.

xo, kelsey


minus & plus

- working out at our creepy complex gym on friday night.
+ husby joining me because it gives me the skeevies.

- no parking at the williamsburg grand illumination last night
+  precious & impromptu time with amelia & allison & jared watching fireworks & eating toffee.

-  leaving my nsync christmas c.d. at work over the weekend. this was a big deal. & a bad one, too.
+  remembering that andrew burned me the elf soundtrack & it was in my car!!!
(+) working in an office where I can listen to nsync christmas & break for sing-a-longs with my boss every now & then.

-  meanies in traffic on the drive in to work this morning.
+  sitting at a stoplight next to a car with a big ol' scruffy dog staring at me from the passenger seat.

-  our tree doesn't smell nearly as christmas tree-y as I'd like it to when I walk in the door...
+  but it sure is pretty. & jared had all the christmas lights on when I got home. christmas cheer!

-  I've been given a less than simple piano accompaniment to play at our church's christmas program. it's sorta kicking my butt, actually.
+  it's so great to have a piece to PRACTICE. butt kicking an' e'rything.

- cramps.
+  ibuprofen. x3.

- giving myself a curling iron hickey this morning in my cramp-induced fog
+ letting people think it's a real one, high-school styyyyle. (or whatever aged kids do that? errr...)

-  the wind tunnel I have to walk through to get into our office every day. totes did not miss that this spring/summer.
+  having all of 1 voicemail once I was blown through the wind tunnel & into my office today. welcome back, off-season.

- addressing christmas cards. boo hiss.
+ our first christmas cards! even if it's just the two of us, we're still a little family.

- office holiday gift exchange.
+ office holiday gift exchange.

- remembering just now that I have to cook food for that tomorrow night.
+ at least I remembered?

husband just jumped off the couch & plopped down on the floor so that I can't see his computer screen.
pretty sure that means some christmas purchasing is going doooowwwwnnnnnn.
he's wearing his new reading glasses = yummmmm.
I'd absolutely risk ruining a christmas present surprise to get a smackaroo from clark kent bethune.

xo, kelsey


it's emily's turn!

see that lady up there?
that's emily, my childhood-next-door-neighbor-turned-maid-of-honor.
this is us dancing to "the luckiest" at my wedding,
something we promised we'd do waaaay before we had someones to make us lucky girls.
as of today, the hand I'm holding is now wearing a big (really, BIG) diamond ring,
& soon, she'll be wearing the white dress.
[HUGE fan of december engagements, by the way... ;)]

I am so thrilled for her & trent.
for the engagement whirlwind they've just begun,
for the beautiful wedding they'll dance their way through,
& for the wedded bliss they'll enter into.

okay, & a little thrilled for an excuse to see a whole ton of emily next year.

you are such a sweet soul, & a beautiful friend.
I haven't met trent yet, but I know that God has given you a true love in him
that somehow, miraculously, makes you an even better you.
I am so excited for you to jump into this utterly dreamy part of your relationship & your life.
you will be such a stunning bride.

& I will be bringing the popcorn bowl with me. oh yes, I will.

oh, love.
you are a wondrous thing.

xo, kelsey


mustaches & snores

had to laugh, going through the outtakes from our christmas card fauxto shoot.
this photo pretty accurately describes this week, really.
me climbing barbed wire fences into property that I don't own...
& jared giving me a smile & a helping hand to get me back where I belong.

he's snoring next to me right now, as I sit in bed finishing some music stuff for church.
the foot twitch is in full effect, so I know he's toooootally out.
cutie pie.
he shaved his november 'stache today & I kinda just wanna kiss that soft-as-a-baby's-bottom face...
but you don't disturb a man in foot twitch mode.

it's not going to be much of a weekend.
my first full saturday off since march is booked up until the afternoon...
when he goes in to work until close.
stupid work. 

as annoying as the snoring is, it sounds like deep sleep, & I want in on that action.
happy weekend!

xo, kelsey


first anniversary

wanna jump back to october? good, me too.
it's my favorite.

I was so grateful that we'd taken our big anniversary trip to new york city back at the beginning of the month.
our anniversary snuck up so fast, just like we knew it would.
miraculously, october 23rd was event-free at work,
which allowed us to frolic in the beautiful weather & enjoy each other ... + some friends ;)

we spent the morning at church,
& where I felt obligated to sloooowly walk down the aisle.
after church, we went home & ate lunch on our back patio,
where we listened to our reception playlist
(still too emotionally fragile to listen to the ceremony music, thank-you)
& made our first "23 Things I Love about You" lists,
which we hope to continue every year for, well, forever.

the lovely allison came over, & our plan was an afternoon in colonial williamsburg,
but the first stop was our reception site, where I mostly just wanted to ooo & ahh & reminisce.
we quickly realized that the women's club was occupied by another wedding,
deterring my hope of dreamily traipsing around the property on the husby's arm.
don't worry - we definitely thought about crashing the wedding & bestowing some wisdom as an old married couple of a whole year...
but in the end, allison convinced us to get back on the road.
[but not before snappin' some photos - preview of the reception post still to come!]

we made it to williamsburg & met up with logan.
oh, such glorious weather.
good thing we live in southern virginia where it can be 63 degress on december 1st, right??
[wrong. it should be snowing. I digress.]

we enjoyed a tasty dinner & headed home for some year old cake & honeymoon wine.
I've heard from so many people that their cake was delicious even after it had been frozen for a year,
so we were pretty excited to taste it.
the catch? I'm really not a cake person.
like, had the bite that jared shoved in my mouth at the wedding, & that was it.
but if I liked cake, I'd like this cake.
the good news was that I was on a diet for the entire month of october,
& this was my big binge
all that I was thinking was hello, sweet cake. welcome to my mouth, tasty wine.
it was nearly impossible to disappoint taste buds that had been eating veggies & grilled chicken for 23 days straight.

we were given our bottle of wine by the restaurant we frequented while on our honeymoon in st. croix,
& I all but demanded that we keep it for our first anniversary.
it was delicious. but again - easily impressed at that point...
[this just in: jared says that they were both delicious, forrealz. so it wasn't just the diet talking.]

it was a sweet day.
& a lovely memory.
I'm so glad we were able to spend the day free from responsibilities & to-do lists,
& I have jared to thank for that.
he knows when to slow me down & shower me with sweet love.
he's pretty perfect.
& by God's grace, our love just keeps getting bigger. & better. 

& love-ier.

xo, kelsey

our second thanksgivin'

i'm a little amazed that it's 15 minutes into december as i type.
i'm not sure where november went, but it certainly didn't lend itself to internet activity.
but let's pretend that it's still november so that it makes sense for me to share thanksgiving photos.

baby sisters spent the night at our place on thanksgiving eve, & it may very well be the best new tradition yet.
chinese food, pie baking & star wars - can't really beat that ;)
by the time we got to my parents the next morning,
(after the mr. made breakfast with mimosas for the big kids. winnnnn)
most of the food was already up & going, so i set to decorating.
momma's backyard lends itself nicely to table decor, so i didn't spend a dime...
well, except on a gold paint pen & paper for the place cards.
it was such a joyful dinner, spent with friends from church... followed by watching Elf to ring in the Christmas season, of course.

there's so much to be grateful for.
life has slowed down enough to process all the wonders that have been sent our way this year.
the growth, the lessons, the strengthening, the hard times.
second married thanksgiving was just as great as first married thanksgiving,
with a billion trillion bagillion wonderful moments in between.

i spent my evening decorating our apartment with christmas here & there...
& it's somehow midnight thirty.
oh, christmas. you fiend. 
just kidding. i'm not even mad.

xo, kelsey