12 pieces of advice for newlyweds

Will and I are on the cusp of having been married for an entire year.  This basically means that we know all of the things!  (That’s a joke)

After five months of marriage we wrote about 5 things we learned in five months of marriage.  I figure it’s about time that we share our 12 tips for those of you about to embark on the adventure of marriage.  I reached out to my Instagram friends for help.  Peep their advice below!

Before I get ahead of myself though, if you want to follow along with our adventures of newlywed life, turning a house into a home, and all of the highs and lows of everyday life, click the subscribe button on the right (or at the bottom if you’re on mobile).  It doesn’t send you crazy stuff or give your information to anyone—it just sends blog updates directly to you!

Without further ado, sit down, grab a pen, your BFF (aka soon-to-be or brand new spouse) and take this advice to heart.  We obviously know what we’re talking about.

(DISCLAIMER: I feel like I will have to be married about ten million years before actually offering advice on big subjects.  Let’s just have some fun together today.)

#1. You WILL adjust.

Times of transition can be difficult, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself.  I’ve had girlfriends who cried their eyes out on their first night home from the honeymoon because they were afraid of change.  I’ve known couples who have gone to counseling in their first year of marriage.  I even once had a boyfriend exclaim that “marriage isn’t that hard!” to a couple struggling through their early years and a woman going through a divorce.

Embrace the transition.  Recognize things are going to change and try not to fight it.  

#2. You will find your own habits and routines as a couple.

This is a great thing!  But it does take time.  One of the biggest areas of adjustment in a new marriage can be learning that your time is shared now.  

#3. “Don’t compare.

“Don’t compare your relationship/marriage to anyone else’s.  Learn from others but never compare.”-Kristina

#4. “Always give your spouse the best of yourself.

“Don’t give your best to everyone else and then give your spouse the leftovers.” -Kristina

#5.  “Grow together and embrace the changes in one another.

“Love each other for who you are today, not who you were or who you could be.” -Phillip

Related post: 13 Things to do Unplugged with your Spouse

#6. “Laugh a lot!

“Don’t take life too seriously.”-Caroline

#7.  “Prioritize time together.” -Will

Thanks for the contribution, husband.  ❤  I absolutely agree!  Determine your marriage priorities together and then stick to them.  If you have your priorities in line, decisions become more clear.

#8. “Learn to communicate now, even over the smallest things!”-Marly

Amen, sister!  Communication is key.  

#9. Unmet expectations are a trap.

We often have expectations of each other, of ourselves, of our circumstances, etc.  Unmet expectations can create problems unless you realize what is happening and how to manage it.  

#10.  Be honest.

If you are upset, be honest.  Don’t be afraid to ask each other questions to understand wants, needs, and expectations.

#11.  Don’t expect your spouse to change overnight.

First of all, if you don’t express a need for change (in a loving way) but instead keep your feelings to yourself, everything will stay the same.  And once you do express a need for change, don’t expect your spouse to get everything right from then on out.  They’re still human.  Which brings me to my last piece of advice.

#12. Allow your spouse to be human.

Just as you give yourself grace on a bad day, or after a frustrating experience, you need to extend the same courtesy to your spouse.  Don’t hold them on a pedestal OR expect them to always fall short.  They have bad days, feelings of anxiety, and other human tendencies just like you.

BONUS!  Never stop being friends.

Congratulations on being a newlywed or an almost-newlywed!  Praying God’s blessings over your marriage, that you will have patience with one another, that you will LOVE each other in every season (even when you don’t like each other all that much), and that you embrace becoming one whole heartedly.

Until next time,
Jamie out.

our day date to a super old house

About a week or so ago, Will took me on a fantastic day date to a place I had been dying to visit.  I’m a sucker for dates and romance.  This one just tugged at my heart strings and was a perfect morning spent reflecting on history, how people used to live, and the things we take for granted now.  Like freezers, freedom, and air conditioning in the south.

The 1897 Poe House is located near downtown Fayetteville.  No, it was not owned by the poet, but by a prominent family that made and sold bricks.  In fact, much of the foundation of this home is made out of bricks made by Mr. Poe, although the deeds to everything they owned, including the company were in his wife’s name, per the prenup.  

The Poe’s apparently ordered this home out of a Sears catalog, which was not uncommon.  Everything was sent to a local carpenter who built it for them.  

We got to tour pretty much everything in the home and our tour guide explained how North Carolina had obtained the property, how much it cost to restore it, and what things the Poe’s daughter had renovated and converted from what it was originally.  It was interesting to see how a well off family lived, with their ice box, grocers delivering goods, cook and maids, and two stair cases.

Actual dishes that the Poe family owned.

I’m super into this dating thing.  If you couldn’t tell.

Until next time,

Jamie out

10 Creative Winter Date Ideas

I have a confession to make.  I LOVE going on dates with my husband.  When we have one planned, I literally look forward to it all week.  I think about what I’m going to wear and what we might do, but mostly I’m just excited to spend that quality time with my best friend.

Anyone else’s love language quality time?  Getting to spend time together just the two of us is worth so much more to me than any other display of affection.  

Will is really great at planning dates.  He usually doesn’t even tell me what we’re doing.  He gives me as little information as possible and then surprises me as we go along.  It’s fantastic.  

You would think that because we love hiking and exploring that winter might be a little bit of a downer for us.  But really, we just get to enjoy a whole different realm of the dating world.  So without further ado, here are our top 10 winter date ideas.

Take a cooking class together

Or if you don’t want to go to a class, you could find a recipe you want to try and then make it together in your kitchen.  But if you cook all the time in your own kitchen and you want to be inspired by someone else’s genius, Google the most recommended cooking classes in your area and sign up!  

This is such a unique date idea that you will definitely make some memories.  Instead of all the dinner and a movie dates that begin to blend together, this one will stand out among the rest.  So take a chance and get cooking!

Have a game night with a prize for the winner

You could even turn this into a double date, winner take all!  Will and I registered for some games when we were getting married, and I also got a really good one for Christmas.  Our favorite game lately has been a Harry Potter deck building card game that has consumed our most recent date nights.  You don’t have to know much of anything about Harry Potter to enjoy the strategy of the game, but if you do it will make it that much more fun.  

Other favorites for game nights include Catan, Sequence, and Nertz.

Go to a hockey game

We have a local hockey team here in Fayetteville.  I also went to university in Canada and went to the rec hockey games almost every week.  It was a blast.  

Get bundled up for the ice rink for your hockey date and prepare to eat classic sporting event cuisine like nachos and hot-dogs.  Try to snap a photo with the mascot and catch a free t-shirt that you know they will be launching into the stands.   

Go on a winter hike

Why should a little cold weather stop you from exploring the great outdoors?  Put on your good hiking boots and find a trail you’ve been dying to try.  Ask around with locals to find the perfect wintery spot and set out in your adventuremobile for some great exploring together.  Winter doesn’t have to be enjoyed solely from your very cozy couch.  

Go to a local museum neither of you have been to before

I’ll be honest, this one is high on my list.  Is there a mansion-turned-museum where you live?  Those are my favorite.  What about a cool transportation museum that really tells the story of where you live?  Or how about an art museum with a cool new exhibit?  Try something new—maybe an interest you haven’t explored together yet—and get to know each other a little more as you spend some time with culture.

Go to a trivia night

This is super fun, whether you know the answers or not!  Will and I recently went to a Christmas movie trivia night with my sister and brother-in-law and had a blast!  I only knew like two of the answers and my family carried us all the way to second or third place, but we still had so much fun.  We ate tasty appetizers and tried different drinks, and all just had a really good time together.  

Take a look on Facebook events or ask some local restaurants if they know of any trivia nights around you.  The host at our trivia night knew a slew of others around town we could try out in the future.

Catch a play

I grew up going to a lot of plays with my mom and sister.  I think it is something that I look a little for granted, to be honest.  Now that I am an adult I hardly ever get to go to plays and shows.  I took my sister on a sister date once to see Avenue Q when it was in town and it was every bit as hilarious and inappropriate as I thought it would be.

Even if plays aren’t necessarily your thing, give it a try to do something a little different.  It will definitely create a more lasting memory for you two!

Try indoor rock climbing

I’ll be honest, this one intimidates me because I often feel out of shape, and I also have bad wrists.  However, if you are fit and adventurous and down for trying something new and different, this is a fantastic winter option!  First of all, it’s indoors.  Secondly, it is active.  Thirdly, it is DIFFERENT!  And if you can’t tell by now, I’m a sucker for different date ideas because I’m all about lasting memories and trying creative things that are out of the norm.

See a movie at the fanciest theatre in town

Okay, so I know this may sound normal and routine to you, but trust me.  Especially if you can somehow pull off the surprise date.  Does your significant other really want to see a specific movie that’s out?  Do they know that a small theatre downtown recently renovated and upgraded to heated reclining seats in all of the auditoriums?  Do they enjoy a little wine with their movie?  Pull out all the stops—don’t make this just any other dinner and a movie date.  Make this a reclining seat and wine movie date with Jason Momoa in Aquaman.

(Disclaimer: Will, I don’t actually want to see Aquaman so don’t take me to that one.  Haha.)

All right, friend, my job of inspiring you is over!  Now it’s your turn to plan and execute!  Good luck and happy dating!

Until next time,
Jamie out.

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.

#1

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.

#2

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.

#3

#4

#wamieswedding

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.

#5

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.

#6

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.

#7

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.

#8

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.

#9

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.

Puppy’s first holidays

Blue update #3—3 Months Old!

Our girl Blue is three months old, growing like her life depends on it, and loves spending time with us and her toys.

My favorite things about the past month:

  • Blue’s explosive growth
  • How she is finally learning that her crate isn’t a negative place
  • Watching her run behind a grown dog and how cute and clumsy she looks
  • Watching her with my 10 month old nephew and how quickly she has learned to be gentle with him

My least favorite thing:

  • How she won’t stop chewing on my bathroom rug

Things I have learned:

  • She looooves learning
  • She notices when one of us is gone
  • She is still a puppy and new to this world

Blue turned three months old on her 13 week birthday!  She has changed so much since we brought her home just a few weeks ago.  She weighs over twenty-five pounds now and her paws are ginormous.  She got her rabies shot and has only one set of shots left in her puppy vaccines.

Around week thirteen, she began to become a little more aware.  She recognized that things can be scary, or that she can get hurt, or that some things are unknown.  She would get nervous and distrusting of things she didn’t know or understand, and if there was a loud startling noise, she reacted more dramatically than she would have just a week before.

Blue has gotten better since then and is growing in confidence in her own home and den.  She got too big to ride on my lap in the car, so she is relearning about car rides by riding in the back and isn’t the biggest fan.  She started playing with my sister’s dog, a five year old chocolate lab named Coco, and has so much fun with her in her fenced backyard.  Coco is really good with her, being gentle enough but still having fun rough housing and being pups together.

She is growing like a crazy pup!  She is super playful, but her eyes will suddenly droop and she absolutely must take a nap.  The other day when we were wrapping presents, she couldn’t sleep through the noise so she went to our bedroom to take a nap by herself.  That’s the first time she has done that!  She always loves being underfoot or napping with her head on our feet.

We are excited to start taking her on walks, to dog parks, and to keep teaching her more things.  She loves sitting and laying down, and her new chew toys she got for Christmas are her favorite toys still.  She loves her big fluffy bed, but isn’t so sure about baths or being brushed.  The last time I had to give her medicine, she did great and ate the whole thing.  

Over the next month we expect her to continue growing quickly and hope that we can accomplish more leash training.  We hope to get her a fenced backyard ASAP so that she can explore and enjoy, as well as become comfortable outside on her own.

Until next time,
Jamie out.

our puppy is a genius

Blue update #2—Weeks 10 & 11

In the past two weeks we dog sat another puppy, marveled at Blue’s genius, and had a potty training regression.  

My favorite things about the past two weeks:

  • Transitioning to only getting up with Blue once every night.
  • Getting lots of good puppy snuggles and kisses.
  • Watching tiny Blue climb up and down our stairs.

My least favorite things about the past two weeks:

  • The great potty training regression of 2018.
  • Hand bruises from sharp puppy teeth.

Things I have learned:

  • That Blue is really really smart.
  • That Blue is already great at posing.
  • That Blue loves to please us.

Blue has gained over five pounds since we brought her home.  At her eight week vet visit she weighed 10.8 pounds and at her 11 week vet visit, she weighed 15.8 pounds.  We feel pretty good about her size and are hoping she is right in the sweet spot when she is an adult, which should be between fifty-five and sixty-five pounds.  She is happy and healthy and still learning daily.  It is amazing to watch her pick up on things.

For the most part, things got easier for us as a family these weeks compared to the first two.  I have definitely grown more attached to our high energy fur ball and absolutely love her snuggles and puppy kisses.  She is really good at hugs and snuggles, especially when she is tuckered out after playing with a puppy friend.

On the weekend Blue turned 11 weeks, we dog sat our friend’s puppy who is one month older than Blue and twice her size.  He is a shepherd mix—a herding breed—and is much more calm and less high energy than our girl Blue.  He is also better at sleeping through the night than she is.  And while they were both mostly house trained in their own homes, this weekend turned into utter chaos that caused both dogs to regress a little bit.

Our visiting pup wasn’t sure how or where to potty at our house, so he decided that inside was the perfect spot.  We had a lot of accidents the first couple days, especially because he refused to go outside.  At first Blue just observed this, but eventually she started to go inside as well.  As you can imagine, this got pretty frustrating.   

The short story is, we got the dogs on a strict schedule for going outside.  If they weren’t in their crates, they were going outside every twenty minutes, whether or not we thought they had to go.  This cut down on the accidents dramatically, and improved our relationship with them as well.

Dog sitting also emphasized repeatedly how intelligent our Blue is.  Not in comparison to the other dog, but just in the way that she would help him when he didn’t understand.  For example, he was terrified of going down our stairs, so Blue got right next to him and went down every step with him one at a time.  He also kept chewing my carpet, so Blue finally laid a chew toy across his paws and showed him to chew on that instead.  I have never been more proud in my life.

We are growing closer daily, and as Blue learns more and more, Will and I enjoy her more and more.  Often times before bed you will find the three of us sitting on the floor and playing with a ball or rough housing.  By the end of week eleven Blue weighed in at almost 19 pounds.  It’s safe to say she is heading into a big growth spurt!  She is still fearless and resilient.  We didn’t go a lot of places during these two weeks and she is definitely learning that the house is her den.  We still keep doors to a couple rooms closed to avoid temptation for her, but in the rooms she is comfortable, she is great at only chewing on her own toys.

Until next time,
Jamie out

Read more: 
Weeks 8 & 9Bringing Blue Home

#everydaymoments

A Thursday in December.

#everydaymoments December #everydaymoments December #everydaymoments December #everydaymoments December #everydaymoments December #everydaymoments December #everydaymoments December #everydaymoments December #everydaymoments December #everydaymoments December #everydaymoments December #everydaymoments December
  1. Breakfast.  The last time I went grocery shopping I was hungry and therefore couldn’t resist the two for four Poptarts.  I always eat them without frosting.
  2. My wakeup has been around six am now that we have a puppy.  It’s kind of nice.  I get to see the frost on the grass and the sun rise on my house.  I enjoy not being in a huge rush every morning.
  3. I work part time as a digital marketing manager, and the rest of the time as a photographer.  This day I took photos of a house for a real estate agent.
  4. Blue was very excited when I got home.
  5. She wasn’t very interested in going potty.  Mostly she just wanted to play.
  6. Reality.  Sometimes we don’t get to the dishes for a couple days and things pile up.  There’s just two of us, but in a tiny kitchen it can get out of hand pretty quickly.
  7. Blue doesn’t understand chores.
  8. A lot of her non nap time is spent playing, or her asking to play.  It’s pretty cute.
  9. She loves rough housing and we try to teach her to chew on toys, not on people.  Clearly it’s working well.
  10. I spent over four hours editing photos and watching Grey’s Anatomy in the afternoon.  So much so that I forgot to feed and take care of myself (even though I remembered to take care of my pup) and got super sick and nauseous by evening time.
  11. Which was great because Will’s work had an ugly sweater Christmas shindig downtown that evening.
  12. After eating some food and spending the evening with good people, I felt much better and we snapped a cute pic in the chilly weather on the walk back to our car.

Until next time,
Jamie out.