Last week, Mike and I officially clocked four years as a ball and chain, seven years as a couple. In that time, we've traveled the world, built a house, launched a business, had a baby, and moved back to the mountains. Lots of big stuff. Yet we still appreciate and practice the small things, like our ritualistic "good morning" texts and kisses hello and goodbye. Our nightly song and dance with Harlow before her bath is a new favorite. We call it "Tonkus Time."
In this season of life, our bodies, hearts, and minds take a beating between all the demands put on them. These small daily observances may sound simple, maybe even pedestrian, but they center us amidst the chaos, providing an oasis of familiarity. For me, they're the foundation, the glue, of family.
So. On to the celebration! Tradition says you're supposed to give fruit and flowers as gifts on year four, so Mike greeted me with coffee and a giant bouquet that he and Harlow picked out together. I arranged them in a beautiful crystal vase that belonged to Mike's grandmother, an anniversary gift from his dad and stepmother. Then we grabbed our bags, dropped Harlow off at my parents' house, and away we went!
My daytime anny ensem. I've gotten so much wear out of this tie-front Theory blouse. It's slightly cropped with a loose fit, so it looks bananas with higher-rise pants or shorts. As much as we (I) love the trendy, flashy stuff, good outfits are really built upon good basics. This concludes today's style PSA.
We went to the Grove Park Inn per tradition and holy moly, did they treat us like royalty right from the get-go. They upgraded us to a mountain view room in the historic section of the hotel...you know, the place where all the famous people stayed, like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Margaret Mitchell. We were next door to Gatsby's suite he lived in while poor Zelda was in-residence at Highland Hospital. Though I wouldn't say his time in Asheville was very happy, it's still neat to think of walking the same halls as such an iconic writer.
The lovely receptionist who checked us in even sent up a delicious bottle of Chardonnay and a cheese plate wishing us a happy four years!
We eased into things with al fresco cocktails and lunch on the Sunset Terrace. I ordered the Lobster Cobb Salad because A) I knew I'd be wearing a swimsuit later on at the spa, and B) it came with five whopping ounces of lobster meat! And really, aren't you supposed to eat things like lobster on your anniversary?
Then they sent us the sweetest dessert. Pun intended. How'd they know we have a thing for macarons? Mike and I agreed the toffee flavor (far right) was the best.
Next we got ready to hit the spa. Whether you live in town or across the country, you neeeed to go to the Grove Park spa. It's incredible. They designed it to feel like you're in an underground grotto, surrounded by waterfalls and cave-like rock walls. You can hear music playing underwater in the swimming pools. The waterfalls in the hot tubs are meant to massage your neck and shoulders. When you've had your fill of tubs and pools, you can head outdoors for a fireside nosh and cocktail with mountain views. This is all in addition to any service you may get, so imagine all of that on top of an hour-long massage on a heated table littered with rose petals.
You're not allowed to bring a cell phone or camera into the spa, so unfortunately I don't have any photos to share. It's actually nice though. Sometimes you need a strict policy to force you to unplug...but we couldn't resist a quick selfie snap before we went in!
Although I don't have pictures to support my claim, I can tell you we soaked in every tub and soaked up every minute. The manager even brought us complimentary champagne to say congratulations! There are few things better in life than sipping champs in a hot tub under a waterfall.
We had a couples massage later that evening, something we'd never done before. Mike upgraded to the deep tissue massage while I stayed with the traditional Swedish version. While I would've liked more attention paid to my neck and shoulders (who wouldn't?), we left feeling so relaxed and refreshed. Of course we accepted another round of champagne on the house to enjoy while we lounged post-massage and pre-dinner.
One of the best parts about staying in the historic section is getting to ride the old-timey elevator built into the giant stone fireplaces. I just love the stained glass ceiling. (Sorry for the Snapchat finger art). The history nerd in me enjoys perusing the old photos and learning more about the Grove Park Inn's past. For instance, we learned it was the founder's son-in-law who, with no prior experience, submitted the design for the Inn to his father-in-law after every other concept was rejected.
You may recall that the dress I ordered for the occasion didn't arrive on time. I landed on this emerald green fitted midi dress and gold necklace as my back-up, and I felt really good about it! Maybe even better than my original plan.
For those with inquiring minds, here's the original dress. It didn't show up until Monday. Color me unimpressed with the lax shipping policy, Goodnight Macaroon. I do like the dress, though!
After ALL that worrying, planning, and packing, I was too tired to get glammed up. I know, I'm surprised, too. The spa (and let's be honest, the champagne) lulled me right into some jeans and an off-the-shoulder top. I did at least wear my Chloé dupe wedges, and carry my non-fruit/non-floral anniversary gift to dinner at the Edison. They sent out a surprise appetizer with the biggest scallop I've ever seen served over a farro salad. Definitely my favorite part of the meal!
The next morning we solemnly packed up because we were NOT ready to leave! Every time we go we always wish we were staying an extra day to actually relax instead of running around like a couple of crazy overworked, overtired parents enjoying a night off. Plus, why would you not want to wake up to this every day?!
We picked up Harlow and went home to repack our bags for our trip to Charlotte the next day. My brother turned 29 on Sunday, and as life will do, we all hadn't been together as a family to celebrate his birthday since...honestly, I don't know. Before we left, our friend, Monica, came over to meet Harlow and introduce us to her newest treasure, Miss Anna Grace. Harlow loves other babies and children, and was happy to play hostess to her new friend Anna.
After her play date, Harlow and I went upstairs to finish packing. When going to a city as chic as Charlotte, one cannot bring too many hair bows.
As soon as we rolled into town we went to Reid's Fine Foods at Southpark. It's a high-end market with an attached restaurant, and they just so happen to serve my current favorite buttery Chardonnay, Walt. We had a drink then picked up steaks and veggies for dinner, plus some wine and cheese for happy hour. Also of note: how gorgeous is this magnolia wallpaper?
If you're into charcuterie, cheese, or just truly enjoy trying new foods and flavors, Reid's is a must! It also makes for a great place to grab a sip and a snack after getting down on some Southpark shopping.
We went back to Trey's apartment in South End to start cooking and get the birthday party rolling! The guest of honor got in some good LoLo QT while opening gifts. I gave him the Game of Thrones Monopoly collector's edition. We're both GoT fanatics. See this year's birthday cake.
If you know your Westerosi houses, you're probably thinking this Stark sigil is a bit janky. Turns out the copyright police don't mess around when it comes to using any GoT trademark, even on birthday cakes. At the end of the day, it was a cookie cake, which is always a win. Nobody really cared what color the icing was, just that there was icing, period, on top of a giant chocolate chip cookie. Because priorities.
The season of pumpkin flavored everything is just around the corner, and apparently the folks at NoDa Brewing wanted to get a leg up on things. I can't blame them, though. Their Gordgeous Pumpkin Ale really is a home run. Anyone know of any bars or stores that carry NoDa beers in Asheville?
We took our time Sunday morning, strolling around South End while we drank our coffee and ate birthday doughnuts. (Do calories count when it's someone else's birthday? Wait -- I don't care!). After Harlow's nap we walked down to Futo Buta for a nourishing bowl of broth. I wound up choosing the Shoyu ramen and drained my bowl dry. SO. GOOD. Then I got SO sleepy! Not getting in those clutch Sunday naps is one of the more challenging parts of parenthood.
What more can you ask for than a long weekend so clearly filled with love? I do want to pause and take time to recognize that one of my very closest friends lost her father last week. While it is not for me to discuss such personal matters, especially on this forum, I'm awed (though not surprised) by the love, gratitude, and respect attributed to his life. He raised one of the most beautiful people I know, inside and out. Love to my friend, her mom, and their entire family.
Wishing you and yours happiness, health, and prosperity...
Wedding photography by Two Ring Studios