my Instagram Top 9 2018

This is my official “top nine.”  The one the app pulls up for you and says, “Here!  This was your year!”  And these were my most liked posts on mrsjamieshugart from 2018.

While I actually think this Top 9 did a pretty dang good job, I still stare at it and think, “How on earth can my 2018 ever fit into nine little photographs?”  

According to this photo, 2018 was our Golden Retriever Blue (who is quite important, don’t get me wrong), our new furniture, our NEW HOUSE (first time home buyers—holla!), us, and adventures.  Not a bad representation, but probably not exactly what I would choose.

2018 in a nutshell:

  • Will and I spent the first three months apart.  We took our engagement photos and then he was whisked away.  
  • Just as soon as he got back, we got married, honeymooned in Maine, lived a few more weeks in North Carolina, and then packed all of our possessions into a storage unit for safe keeping.  
  • We drove over two thousand miles away to Arizona to spend four months with each other, with work, and with the desert.  
  • I launched my blog, we road tripped to Utah, explored several national parks (including the Grand Canyon), spent a weekend in San Diego, and ate all of the tacos we could stand.
  • After four months of desert living, we began our trek back to North Carolina and I got rear ended on the first day of our drive.  My trusty little car was a total loss.
  • Just a few days later we arrived in North Carolina and closed on our house.  
  • The next day we emptied our storage unit (that had flooded in our absence) and discovered that basically all of our furniture was toast.
  • Within 5 days, we bought a house, lost all of our furniture, picked out our puppy, and bought a new (to us) Toyota.  
  • Just two weeks later we brought our Golden girl Blue home.  The first month was extremely overwhelming and all of the emotions of the car accident and storage flood caught up with us during our lack of sleep during puppy and potty training.
  • Will started his new job with a much busier schedule that will demand a lot from us in 2019.
  • I started working almost full time as a photographer, being self employed and working a lot from home.

WHAT.  A.  CRAZY.  YEAR.  WE.  HAD.  If I could choose my own top nine for this crazy year, these photos would be it.


My baby nephew was born and adopted in February.  This is what I had to say at the time:

For this child I have prayed.

Little baby Harkni, how we have prayed. And we know now, why it all happened the way it did. Because you were absolutely always His plan, and without the years of waiting and praying and sadness, we wouldn’t get to love you the way we get to love you. We wouldn’t have YOU, and what a beautiful and miraculous thing that there is now this precious new person in the world. And that precious new person is ours to love.

We are so blessed. We are so happy. We are so in love. Our family is growing this year, and 2018 is The Best Year Ever.

With all of our hearts, baby Harkni.


My bridal shower!

This was a crazy season for me.  I was stressed beyond measure (planning is NOT my thing) with the wedding, Will was far far away from me, and I was working all hours of the night and day with my full time job, photography on the side, and worship team shenanigans.  My amazing work family threw me a surprise bridal shower that was extremely generous and made me feel so loved.  My bridesmaid/bestie and her mama also threw me this shower on the day I got my hair done for the wedding (conveniently) at this adorable and delicious restaurant downtown with some of my very favorite ladies.

May you all feel loved the way I was blessed to feel so loved.




In April, we got married in my parents’ backyard under sunny blue skies.  I wore lace and tule and we didn’t have a first look.  I watched all the guests arrive through a slit in the blinds of my parents’ master bedroom and ogled my fiancé in his tux from afar.  Will cried when he saw me and we said sweet simple vows.  We snapped a couple pictures and then spent the reception with our loved ones before we jumped in a very decorated car that told passersby to honk, JUST MARRIED! and drove to Raleigh to stay the night in a fancy hotel before setting off the next morning for our honeymoon.


On our honeymoon, we went to the beach, but in coats.  We didn’t get tan, or drink cocktails, or go snorkeling.  We flew to Maine—my dream vacation—and stayed in a little cottage outside Bar Harbor on an island called Mount Desert.  We drank wine and ate blueberry preserves.  Our first little breakfast, I got crepes with Maine blueberries and we drank our way through the island’s coffee supply that week.  We wore activewear and fleece and hiked up mountains to see the views.  We looked off into the distance of the Atlantic on a very clear day and had lobster multiple times at fancy restaurants on the bay.  Will tried a glass of twenty dollar scotch and we did a Marvel marathon to prepare for the release of Infinity War.

We even went to see a lighthouse that I had been ogling pictures of for years.  I had saved a photo of the very lighthouse to my phone exactly two years prior.  To the day.


Our Arizona adventures!

After packing up and moving, discovering hotel and desert life, and launching our blog, we began to realize our dream of visiting as many National Parks as possible, beginning with the Coronado National Memorial.  We love hiking, camping, and exploring.  We were stoked when we found out that Coronado has a cave that you can explore without a guide!  We hiked the half mile trail up the mountainside and then spent a long time exploring the depths of the cave with one headlamp and one sort of okay flashlight.

We then drove up a windy, dirt road to a view point.  If you turn around, you can see well into Mexico.  It was beautiful and green because of monsoon season, and we were so blessed to experience it.


The Grand Canyon

Another dream of mine!  And a culmination of all of my goals and aspirations in Arizona.  I did a work out program called 80 Day Obsession specifically to be able to keep up with my super fit husband on all of our adventuring in the desert.  At the Grand Canyon, we got up around 3am to make it to the rim in time to watch the sun rise.  We then hiked the rim trail for over twelve miles and spent over 13 hours in the presence of the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life.


A Cacti Goodbye to Arizona

This photo is a great representation of our Arizona adventure.  On our last weekend, we drove up to Saguaro National Park to catch the sunset among some of the biggest cacti I have ever laid eyes on.  We had a mini photo shoot with my camera on a tripod and the remote in my hand.  It gave us a moment to slow down and cherish every adventure we had been on, the four months we had gone through just the two of us, and this incredible way to start our marriage.  It was a bitter sweet last adventure in the desert, but it was probably one of the best ideas we have had to date.


All of our last two months of 2018 wrapped into one photo, with our new house and our new furniture and our new pup.  What a whirlwind the last 70 days of 2018 were!  I’ll be honest, I hope we don’t go through any more of those, but WHEN we do I will be grateful to do it with Will by my side.

Last year was a blast!  (Most of it!)  I was a little sad to see it go, to be honest.  2018 was very very good for my soul.  For our marriage.  For our future as the Shugarts.  We are so blessed to have had 2018.  

Now here we head into the unknown of a new year.  Our bags are unpacked.  We are setting down roots.  We have plans and adventures and explorations to do.  The world is a big place, so let’s hop to it, shall we?

Until next time,
Jamie out.

the end | Arizona Part IV

Arizona.  We came, we saw, we loved.  

Our fourth month in the desert flew by.  We weren’t exactly sure what to expect when we left the south in June, but I don’t know that we knew what a fantastic experience our four month extended honeymoon would be.

The #SuiteLifeofWillandJamie

To our little hotel suite, with its tiny kitchenette, huge desk, desert themed photos, and ever failing internet.  You were just what we needed and more.  Despite the hotel turning off the AC half way through October so that our room became boiling at 80 degrees (really, we can’t be happy because without the heater is was 59 degrees), and despite the monsoons through the summer that curbed our camping exploits, we really could not have had a better time.

the end | arizona part IV

We had a whole crew that went to the same church every Sunday.  The church was a great little place with good people and a good culture and great taste in music.  This one Sunday the boys all dressed alike.

the end | arizona part IV

We went to see Smallfoot!  Guys.  It is such a cute movie.  Will and I really enjoyed ourselves.  It is funny and feel-good and we left much happier than when we went in.  This was also our first time at this tiny theater and Will discovered that I love the candy “Dots.”  Anyone else with me?  They’re delicious!

the end | arizona part IV

I finished the seventh Harry Potter book and had intentions to read the following “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” when we got to North Carolina, but our storage unit flooded and that book was one of the casualties.  

(Don’t worry I will blog about the storage unit catastrophe later.)

Book seven was way better than I remember it being and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

I also almost killed us one night while making spaghetti.  I (accidentally) poured almost this entire thing of garlic powder into the sauce.  Let’s just say, we will be safe from vampires for quite a while.

the end | arizona part IV

I ran out of contacts right before moving home so I popped into an eye doctor to update my prescription.  The doctor was probably the nicest eye doctor I have ever had and was super awesome.  If you are ever in need of an optometrist in Sierra Vista, Arizona, head on over to the Walmart vision center.  You know I wouldn’t steer you wrong!

the end | arizona part IV


Our months in Arizona were packed with adventures, and October was no different.  We began the month with a trip out to San Diego to visit Will’s family (blog post linked here), and over Will’s birthday weekend we explored Bisbee a little more with some friends.  

the end | arizona part IV

The Queen Mine Tour was so much fun!  If you are in the area and have the chance to go, you definitely should!  It is on our list of favorite things we did while in Arizona.   

the end | arizona part IV

We wore our warm clothes, got decked out in fluorescent vests, hard hats and flashlights, and set out underground with a hilarious and informed tour guide.  We told him we were from North Carolina and he decided to use the two of us for examples on the tour a couple times.

the end | arizona part IV

After the tour we drove into the historic part of town for an incredible steak dinner at Cafe Roka.  Another place we would highly recommend!  Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time.  They are only open three days a week and serve some absolutely exquisite food.  The friend we went with was born in Bisbee so she knew everyone and we were treated very well.  It was a blast!

the end | arizona part IV

Our very last hurrah was to visit Saguaro National Park.  It was the perfect bookend to our incredible Arizona experience.  

the end | arizona part IV

If you want to see more photos of Saguaro, check out the blog post here.  To be honest, when I think of the desert I definitely think of these cacti, which are actually called Saguaros.  They are the universal symbol of the American West, can live up to 200 years, weigh more than a ton, and will probably grow to be more than forty feet tall.  If there was one thing we did not want to miss before heading back to the east coast, it was spending a sunset with this incredible plant life.

the end | arizona part IV

Saying Goodbye

I’m not going to lie.  Writing this blog post has been hard!  We had SO much fun in Arizona and made so many great memories.  Saying goodbye has definitely been bitter sweet.  We miss our people, our mountains, and our animal style In-N-Out burgers.  The authentic Mexican food is making my mouth water as we speak.

Really, I am just so grateful that we had such an amazing time.  I am grateful that we had the opportunity to call Arizona home for a few months.  That we got to explore so many amazing National Parks.  That we got a little bit of time, just the two of us, to established our marriage.  And that we had so many amazing people championing and supporting us through all of it.

Thank you all so much for everything. 

Don’t worry—now that we are back in North Carolina, the exploring is not ending!  It might change a little bit, but if there is one thing I have learned in my thirty years (UGH I still hate saying that.  Thirty.) it is that life is always an adventure.

Until next time,
Jamie out.

the end | arizona part IV

living it up in arizona—part I | learning to live in & love a new home

Will and I have been in Arizona for a little over a month now, and let me tell you—the adventuring is real.  In this month we have tried three churches and settled on one.   We have visited three neighboring towns and road tripped to Utah.  We have climbed a couple mountains, watched some 4th of July fireworks in a park while munching on shave ice, started a Bible study group going through Colossians, and explored local staples like the farmer’s market and La Casitas Mexican restaurant.  

living it up in arizona | part I

The #SuiteLifeofWillandJamie

We have met a lot of new people, through work and through the community, and have found that this temporary home is pretty great.  We have been put up in a hotel for the four months we anticipate being in Arizona, and while there have been some sacrifices made for hotel life, it isn’t all bad.  

living it up in arizona | part I

The rooms were first come, first serve, so we arrived a few days early and were able to snag a suite.  We have a tiny kitchenette, but unlike other rooms, we actually have a stove top, large working desk, a couple couches, and a separate bedroom with in-suite bathroom.  As I spend many of the week days at home, I’m grateful for the extra room.

living it up in arizona | part I

Not only am I grateful to not have to use the communal kitchen, but I am also grateful for coffee and tea in the lobby, complimentary breakfasts every morning, and the sweet staff who clean our room and supply me with anything we need.  Even though the laundry is upstairs, most people here work during the day, so I don’t have any issues with snagging a washer or dryer during the week.  I could get used to this!

living it up in arizona | part I

Among other highlights, I got to take a quick visit to urgent care early on to talk to a doctor about fluid that has been hanging out behind my eardrum.  We also arrived in Arizona just in time for monsoon season.  The rain and lightning storms are intense, and as a girl who loves to watch the wind whip through the trees, I’m all about it.

living it up in arizona | part I

Getting out of the hotel often looks like a run to the grocery store or Target.  Maybe a dash to the gas station Red Box.  We’ve already seen at least three movies in theaters.  These are all great things, but my favorite thing we have started making a habit of is going on evening walks together.  Will works all day, and I’m at home a lot, so getting outside and moving our bodies is super healthy.  We also get to climb mountains, explore the area, and learn more about one another.  It isn’t exactly date night, but I’m not knocking it—I really enjoy it!


The 4th of July

On the 4th of July, Will had the day off from work.  We drove up to Tucson for the day where we hit the mall and took advantage of holiday sales.

living it up in arizona | part I

Really we were just there to get our annual festive shirts from Old Navy, but ended up discovering a universal truth—there will always be great sales on or around holidays and to pass up $4 shirts and $10 jeans is just lunacy.  

living it up in arizona | part I

After purchasing more than the intended 4th of July tank tops, we found ourselves at (aka intentionally headed for) REI, which is an outdoors recreational equipment and clothing store.  From water filtration systems to maps of all the areas one could possibly adventure to in the great outdoors, we wandered around drooling over Osprey backpacking packs and Yeti coolers.  We marveled at a map comparing the west coast to the east coast (#westcoastbestcoast) and how many parks and trails we haven’t seen yet.

I then explained to Will that everyone in my family loves their Yeti Rambler Tumblers and that they brag about their Yetis to me all the time.  I mean, they all bought each other the Yetis as gifts.  So one might say, “Jamie, if your family bought each other Yetis as gifts, you must have one as well!”  Aha, that’s where you would be wrong.  As my family brags about their coffee never getting cold or their iced tea never getting warm, I sit in sorrow as my run-of-the-mill tumblers just can’t measure up.  And no, I am not bitter at all that they gifted each other Yetis.

I gifted my own dang self a Yeti while we were at REI.

living it up in arizona | part I

The biggest reason we drove to Tucson, believe it or not, was not for Old Navy tank tops or REI adventures.  It was, in fact, to reunite these two West Coast lovers with a staple that we pine over while living our lives in the east.  It is none other than the delectable delights of one In-N-Out Burger.

living it up in arizona | part I

No visit is complete without an animal style burger and a chocolate shake, in my opinion.  If you have ever seen the drive-through line at a North Carolina Chick-Fil-A, then you know exactly the kind of love and dedication that we are talking about here.  The double lanes at the drive-through, the efficiency of the workers, and at peak hours, the brave souls who stand outside to take everyone’s orders because it’s just that much faster.  That is what In-N-Out on the west coast is like.  It is LIFE.

And side note, I also picked up a 49ers hat at the mall because no fan apparel life is complete without a ball cap on game day.  #49ersFaithful

living it up in arizona | part I

We came, we saw, we devoured our burgers, and then drove home to change into our new appropriately festive Independence Day attire.  We headed to a park in town to meet up with some new friends who had been whiling away the afternoon by playing Spike Ball (it’s legit, follow this link to find it on Amazon).  After Will and I BARELY lost, we headed over to peruse the food truck selection and chose to cool off with some authentic Hawaiian shave ice.  

living it up in arizona | part I

Pineapple, blue raspberry, and mango.  It was a monstrosity, and super soul satisfying.  You can tell because Will appears to be having a great time.  Just look at that smile.

living it up in arizona | part I

Will and I were the old farts who remembered to bring camp chairs to the shindig.  We set up on a grassy spot by a tree, but then discovered we couldn’t see a thing so we all moved to the other side of the tree.  The fireworks got going… or so we thought.  We’re not sure just what happened but the show seemed to be missing a middle, so we spent most of the evening talking to people instead of watching fireworks.  Meh—you win some, you lose some.

living it up in arizona | part I

The rest of the month we spent adventuring, or I spent holed up in our room constructing this blog.  I picked up a side gig to be a Digital Marketing Manager and will be doing that part time.  I have also been disciplining myself to get serious about fitness.  My main goal is to reach a level of fitness that allows for hiking and other active exploits on the weekends with Will.  

Will, who works out for more than an hour most days.  Will, who runs a 6 minute mile.  Will, who could crush me with his pinky.  

Yo, I’m just trying not to huff and puff in his wake as we climb a simple mountain trail.  So I’m dedicated to making it through 80 Day Obsession (a Beach Body program) while we’re in Arizona.  I am doing great!  I just finished phase one this week and started on phase two.  Booty day is my favorite day!  

In an effort not to inundate you with information about our lives, I will end Part I here and instead treat you to some bonus posts this month.  If you liked this post, let me know by liking or commenting, and don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already!

Until next time,
Jamie out 

More posts
Moving to Arizona Month 2 in Arizona

living it up in arizona | part I