Merry Christmas from the Houghs!

Wishing you and your family a very, Merry Christmas!

And CHEERS to exciting adventures ahead in 2017!

Love, Anna & Houston


Christmas Cookie Exchange

This year, I hosted my second annual Christmas Cookie Exchange.
For 25 years, my mom hosted her own cookie exchange for friends and she has passed the tradition along to me! 
My mom and sister Betsy flew up from Orlando to come to the party which was so special to me to have them here with me.

I used Postable to mail out invitations for the party making it super easy!
(Also used Postable to send our Christmas cards this year)

I asked friends to bring 3 dozen cookies to share. I made homemade Nutmeg Cookie Logs which are a family staple for us at Christmas. They certainly take some time to make but are SO worth it!

It was also helpful to have ladies bring some food to help me, which was a lesson I learned last time.
I had some Christmas music playing in the background from a Spotify playlist I created. When ladies arrived, I had them sign the guestbook (I'm hoping to keep the guest list going each year), then we mingled in the kitchen for a while. My sister helped me make 

Then we took our food and sat in the living room while I read the Christmas story out of the Bible in Luke Chapter 2. I enjoy getting to read it at the Cookie Exchange with friends, I rarely get to hear it myself except during church on Christmas Eve so I loved sharing it.

Here are a few pictures from our fun night together!

So special to have my mom and sister Betsy fly up from Orlando just for the Cookie Exchange

Champagne cocktail recipe here

I love hosting and enjoyed having such special friends over!!

xox, A


Christmas Champagne Cocktail Recipe

Last night was my 2nd Annual Christmas Cookie Exchange and I knew I could count on WhitneyA for a brilliant and simple cocktail idea and she didn't disappoint!

Check out the recipe and video below for instructions on how to replicate:

2 bottles champagne/sparkling wine
2 cups pear nectar/juice
2 cups cranberry juice

Garnish with mint leaves and frozen cranberries

Have you had any fun, holiday cocktails recently you'd like to share? 
Please add them in the comments section!

xox, A

PS - I'll share more on the Cookie Exchange later, but wanted to share this cocktail recipe since there were a few requests via Instagram πŸŽ„πŸΎπŸͺ


The Easiest Way to Mail Christmas Cards

One thing I love - and certainly got from my amazing mother - is the love of Christmas cards! 
But as a working young professional, I don't always have the time to address and mail them myself. 
That's why I love Postable.com

This company makes it super easy to collect addresses from your friends and family to create your own address book, then you can use their website to send all kinds of cards (not just Christmas cards) like birthday, anniversary, thank you notes, invitations, the list goes on and on.

So for the past two years, I've uploaded a picture of Houston and I and picked out a Christmas card design I liked. Then selected who to send cards to from my address book and the best part...
they address and mail them for you!!!!!

Seriously, I wish I came up with this idea. Jump on over to Postable.com and check out their cute Christmas cards to choose from!

Here are our Christmas cards from the past 2 years that we ordered from Postable.com:

2014 Christmas Card

2015 Christmas Card

Trying to decide which adorable card to use this year from their Christmas card designs!

xox, A

PS - This is not a sponsored post, but Postable.com if you want to pay me I would happily accept πŸ˜‰
I love to tell others about your company!


30 Before 30

I recently turned 25 and I think it's time to retire my "25 before 25" list 
and work on some new goals for the next 5 years!

I blogged a few months ago with some goals for the 2016 calendar year,
but this goes beyond just this calendar year!

So here we go, here are 30 goals I hope to accomplish before I turn 30 on May 19. 2021:

1. Write a list of 30 goals and encourage others to do so (Please comment me a link to your own list!)
2. Read my Bible more, as well as faith-based devotionals
3. Start our own company
4. Attend a blogging conference
5. Send my mom flowers out of the blue
6. Learn calligraphy and use it!
7. Have a picnic with Houston in an Atlanta park
8. Get a puppy!!!! We just need to agree on a breed we like first... stay tuned!
9. Read 5 books cover to cover
10. Work at meal planning... so we stop making 5 trips to the grocery store each week ;)
11. Have friends over for a blind wine tasting
12. Successfully plant herbs (and keep them alive) in our backyard
13. Consistently workout and more importantly be content and happy with how I look
14. Get our porch updated and hang Edison lights outside
15. Run (and walk) a half marathon
16. Travel abroad with Houston
17. Cook a big meal and host a dinner party for friends
18. Watch a meteor shower
19. Go on a couples vacation
20. This is a stretch - learn to speak another language. Hopefully French! Oui oui
21. Then we should probably travel to France to use that French language ;)
22. Join Junior League of Atlanta
23. Spend time serving the homeless in Atlanta
24. Take a golf lesson. How proud will Houston be of me?!
25. Unplug for an entire weekend. I should do this at least once a year.
26. Invest in real sunglasses. No more $5 sunnies.
27. Get better at budgeting, especially when it comes to groceries
28. Become a Pure Barre instructor - I have fallen in love with Pure Barre and would love to teach classes if the opportunity is available!
29With our recent interest of wine the last few years, go to Napa Valley with Houston
(Maybe for our 3rd wedding anniversary trip?? Yes please!)
30. Throw a huge birthday bash for Houston's and my 30th birthdays!

There it is! I'll keep you all posted on how my goals are coming along by posting to a separate page as well. You can find it at the top of my blog under the "30 Before 30" page.

Thank you Business Insider for some inspiration!

It's fun to think about where Houston's and my life will be five years from now. Where do you see yourself in five years? And what do you hope to accomplish?

xox, A


Favorite Workout Tanks

There are so many cute workout tanks these days that I thought it would be fun to share some of my recent favorites!

I Can't. I Have Barre.
Simply Workout $36
This one cracks me up, in Pure Barre they always talk about the "Pure Barre ledge"
Got Ledge?
Simply Workout $39
Killing It
Everfitte Etsy Shop $27
Happy Hour at the Barre
Everfitte Etsy Shop $26
Everfitte Etsy Shop $26
Straight Outta Platform
Sweatyselfie Etsy Shop $20

I want all of these for Pure Barre!! Which one do you like best?
Any suggestions for other favorite workout tanks?

xox, A


Sister Bridal Shoot

The other weekend my sister, Betsy, and I had such a fun time putting our wedding dresses on and modeling for our fabulous, bridal boutique Solutions Bridal in Orlando, FL. We posted some fun pictures this weekend, but in case you missed it you can look up the hashtag #SBsistershoot on Instagram.

We woke up bright and early Sunday morning and drove to Oviedo to Kristen Weaver's studio (she shot both of our weddings!) so it was so much fun to see her again! She's amazingly talented!

LeJeune Artistry did our hair and makeup for the shoot. We were lucky enough to have Patricia and her team at Betsy and Michael's wedding this past November. I can't say enough about how sweet Patricia is! Loved getting to see her again.

And Jeffrey Stoner was the videographer for Betsy and Michael's wedding and joined the fun for our sister shoot. He interviewed us after the photoshoot to talk about being sisters and special memories from each of our wedding days. Jeffrey kept us laughing all morning and is also incredibly talented!!
I can't wait to share the video he made from our sister photoshoot.

Tali from Solutions Bridal was our stylist and put the whole thing together! Tali and her team are amazing. Betsy and I can't say enough about our amazing experience with buying our dresses from Solutions. From start to finish the process and customer service they provide is exceptional.

Mom, Betsy and I were just saying that Solutions is the "Ritz Carlton" of wedding dress boutiques. As little girls, Betsy and I dreamt of what our wedding dresses would look like one day when we met our own Prince Charmings. They were never pushy or made me feel pressured to buy anything on the spot. They made me WANT to buy my dress from Solutions, not just because I was obsessed with my Marisa Bridals dress, but because the ladies working there made me feel so comfortable and like I was their only customer. 

The customer service at Solutions is unlike any other experience I had wedding dress shopping. They greeted us warmly at the door, offered us water, wine, mimosas or champagne, then took the time to get to know me. They asked about Houston and my relationship, how we met, and then about our wedding plans so far. Then the shopping began! They encouraged me to try styles I wouldn't have picked for myself and we found my dream gown! It was an easy "Yes to the Dress!" for me and we popped champagne to celebrate! Many pictures and happy tears later we dreamed how to personalize my dress by adding some dainty, lace straps with the talented seamstress Holly of Tears of Joy Seamstress. 

The months to follow, I would stop by unannounced to Solutions if I was in town and in the neighborhood and they were so sweet to let me pop in and say hi and see my dress :) 
And the women at Solutions were so sweet to keep up with me on social media to see pictures from our wedding and sharing some of our pictures. 

I know my mom and Betsy would agree with me that the relationships you make with all your vendors during the wedding planning process is unlike anything I've ever experienced.
You share one of the biggest days of your and your husbands lives with the people that make your wedding dreams come to fruition.

And major shoutout to Brandee from Blush (our wedding planner for each of our weddings) for introducing us to our amazing vendors!! Brandee is the BEST and we can't say enough wonderful things about Brandee!!

It was so much fun to put my wedding dress on again this past weekend. 
(Thank you Pure Barre workouts for helping me squeeze back in 2+ years later!!)
Here are a few pictures from our sister shoot!

Fun morning with momma!
Our amazing stylist, Tali from Solutions Bridal
And some special sister memories from Betsy and Michael's and Houston and my wedding days below, 
I sure am lucky to have you as my sister Betsy πŸ‘―πŸ’•
| Photos from Kristen Weaver Photography |

xox. A

P.S. Can't leave my awesome big bro out of the fun... so here's a picture from such a fun memory from Houston's and my wedding when Michael and I did a brother/sister surprise dance!


July Journal

I can't believe it's already the last day of July! This summer is flying by, but we've been able to do a lot of fun things with family and friends this month. So I thought I'd share a little journal of all the things we've been up to this month and of course some pictures.

4th of July Weekend in Highlands, NC
We drove up to Highlands, North Carolina for the 4th of July weekend to meet up with my family who came from Orlando. The first night, we got dinner at one of my all time favorite restaurants Canyon Kitchen in Lonesome Valley. The view is breathtaking (especially in the fall when the leaves change!) and the food is amazing and creative.
A lot of the food coming straight from their garden out back.

High Hampton Inn is an adorable place to stay that we like to visit while we're there. We went for lunch the next day and the guys played golf while the girls went shopping in Cashiers, the nearby town to Highlands. 

High Hampton has llamas that golfers can use to carry their golf bags!!
I'm not kidding. How cute are they?!

The next morning we went hiking at Whiteside Mountain. I think it's a nice level of challenging but not overly exhausting - my kind of hiking! It was a little foggy when we got to the top, but still beautiful! 

One night we went to this precious church for a hymnal sing, it can't seat more than 40-50 people. It was a wonderful and much needed vacation with family and nice to get away for a few days. And the drive from Atlanta is so easy - I highly recommend it! The main street in Highlands is so cute and I love that there is hardly any cell phone reception in the town. The perfect getaway!

Wine Tasting at Savi
We went to a fun Pinot Noir wine tasting with our friends Kristin, Colin and Jules at the beginning of the month for a little "Wine Down Wednesday," hosted by Georgia's only Master Sommelier, Michael McNeil. We got to taste 6 amazing pinots and they had fruit, meats, cheeses and crackers to compliment the wine as well.

This is the list of delicious Pinot Noir wines we tasted. My favorite was the second on the list,
2008 Domaine Serene "Evenstad" Reserve from Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Savi Provisions in Buckhead hosts several events a week in their wine tasting room. Some are free and others have a cost. If you're in the area, I'd highly recommend giving them a try. We've enjoyed trying a few so far, and have learned a lot more about wine from the ones we've gone to. Savi does a really impressive job! Great balance of education and great wine! Here is a link to their upcoming events calendar.

Wedding Weekend in Naperville, IL
Houston and I flew up for a fun weekend with friends to Naperville, outside of Chicago, earlier this month. Houston was a groomsman in the wedding, one of his best friends from college married the love of his life and the wedding was stunning. One of the most fun weddings I've ever been to! 

Several of our friends from college were there - the boys were in the wedding so us girls had a mini girls weekend and we enjoyed exploring around! Ashley and I tried Bar Method to sneak in a barre workout one morning and met up with the other girls to get our nails done afterwards. I liked trying a new barre workout, lots of similarities but always interesting to see how different studios work. 
Then we got ready for the rehearsal.

On Saturday, us girls got some breakfast while the boys got ready for the wedding. We laid out by the pool to get some sun before the wedding and headed to the church. The reception was stunning. There were so many little things throughout that night that were extra special - the father of the bride, best man and MOH speeches were all so heartfelt (and tear-jerking!), the first dance was super sweet, the food and music were amazing and the evening was complete with a flash mob!
We loved celebrating our sweet friends!

Hillsong United Concert
I surprised Houston and took him to a Hillsong United concert at Lakewood Amphitheatre. Hillsong is a Christian band that has written countless of the popular contemporary songs we sing at church so it was really cool to get to see them sing live. They are so talented and it was an inexplainable feeling to get to worship with nearly 20,000 other believers.
Absolutely amazing and I hope we get to see them perform again someday!

Tybee Island Weekend
Last weekend, I went to Tybee Island with the girls in my Bible study. I had never been to Tybee Island so I enjoyed visiting after hearing about Tybee for so long. I loved getting to know the girls in my group better and always love a beach weekend. I'm so thankful for these new friends of mine and growing in our relationships with the Lord through our friendships.

We stopped in Savannah on our way home for brunch at Huey's. Has anyone had those beignets before?? I hadn't been back to Savannah since my bachelorette 2 1/2 years ago, so it was fun to be back even for a few hours. Would love to spend a weekend with Houston there soon!

Wrapping up the month of July, we had a blast at a wedding last night for some great friends of ours here in Atlanta. Great friends, great food, great music, it was an absolutely honor to be included this weekend to celebrate such sweet friends! 

It was a formal wedding and I wasn't sure what to wear so I rented a dress from Rent the Runway, which was a great experience. I've rented from them twice before and I think it's the best business idea. Get $30 off your first order and I'll get $30 off my next one if you use my link here.

I went with some of my closest friends to get our hair done at DryBar beforehand for an updo. After getting all dolled up we headed to The Georgian Terrace Hotel for the ceremony and reception. It was absolutely stunning! We are so thankful for our special friends we've made in Atlanta.

It's been a busy but memorable month! Ready or not.. here comes August!
xox, A