Happy Birthday to Me: A thought on being 27


If you asked me a year ago (my 26th birthday) where I’d be on my 27th birthday, my answer would probably not be where I actually ended up.  Last year I was living in my grandfather’s house, so while I was technically living alone, I was not on my own.  I look back on the last year..well really on the last 6 months, and can’t believe what a whirlwind it has been.  Out of nowhere my best friend put a ring on my finger and whisked me away from Illinois to actually be on my own (well, on our own, as I’m only out here because of him), I found a voice teaching job and am now less than two months away from marrying the love of my life.  At this time last year did I think I’d end up here by now?  Not at all.

Erik and I were regularly talking about rings and someday getting engaged, but he had this “rule” about how we needed to live in the same state before we got engaged, just to make sure we worked as well no-distance as we did long distance.  As irritated as I was by this (as I didn’t see any way I was getting to where he was anytime in the future), I understood, and after much emotional fighting with myself, I decided to let go and let God choose the timing of things.  Man, do things get easier when you decide to do that.  Somehow, that rule got changed, my surprise proposal happened and the tornado happened, and now I’m definitely over the rainbow (yeah, I went there.  People who know me understand my Oz obsession).

I’m regularly blown away by how I got here: the dramatic and romantic way it happened, how it feels like we’ve always been together like this, and how baffled I am every time Erik and I tell our story to new people when we’re at socials and parties.  The way people regularly respond (shock, amazement, etc) reminds me of how awesomely blessed I am for having this relationship work the way it has.  Thank God for all of his blessings.

This is my first birthday away from my family (unless you count college, which was an hour away, so it doesn’t count in my mind), and it’s kind of weird knowing I’m not doing anything.  Not that we have done anything that spectacular the past few years (two years ago, right before we started dating, Erik was actually in town to see me and took me out for my birthday), but I’m still getting used to the whole not being around for normal life things that I’ve been around for the last 26 years.  Christmas will be even weirder. I’ve done the exact same thing every single year, and this year I’ll be in Florida with Erik’s family.  I’ll be able to wear a sundress if I want to.. that’s mind blowing.

I haven’t made a big deal about my birthday for awhile now.  I don’t really think it’s necessary.  I love getting a few nice presents and having an occasion to get the family to get together and go out, but I don’t need anything spectacular.  Even for my 21st birthday my friends and I went out to a bar, those of us that could drink had a drink, and I went back to the dorm to do homework.

Every year I do think about how big of a deal birthdays used to be, with themed parties and cakes and a wish list full of toys that get played with for a month or so before becoming another forgotten thing in the playroom. I vaguely remember these huge birthday parties.  I remember various Disney princess themed cakes (Belle and Ariel) and a Power Rangers birthday party (yeah, I was that girl), a spa sleepover party when I was 13, and after that I don’t recall what exactly was done for my birthdays.  One year in high school I had two friends spend the night and we watched movies.  I can’t even recall if I did anything for my 18th birthday.  Is that sad?

Instead, I use my birthday as an excuse to treat myself a little.  I’m expecting my Erin Condren Life Planner by the end of the week, and that was my big gift this year (thanks to my aunt), because I wanted it.  A planner!  Man that makes me feel old.  Tonight’s big exciting birthday plans: curl up on the couch with my wonderful fiancé and make him sit through “The Proposal” starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Renolds.  One of my all time favorite feel good chick flicks.  Maybe we will even go out to dinner so I don’t have to cook..and you know what? That is enough.

The Lord has blessed me in SO many ways throughout my life, that merely getting to another birthday some days feels like a miracle in and of itself.  The fact that I am here, less than two months away from marrying my best friend, living life the way it has turned out is the icing on top of a pretty epic birthday cake.  I’ve always felt so far behind on things, and now I feel like I’m finally catching up.

I can’t wait to see what blessings the next year will bring.  Whatever they happen to be, I know they will be amazing with Erik by my side and our new life together ahead. God is good.

To those of you who have taken the time to read this and/or to wish me a happy birthday, thank you.  It is because of the friends and family I have that I am the woman I am today.


Be happy, my friends.

Bridal Shower: Countdown to “I Do!”- 2 Months


Only two months to go until the big day!  TWO MONTHS!  That’s insane.

Today, rather than talk about what is done or what is left to do, I thought I’d talk a little bit about the bridal shower that was thrown for me (well, US, but Erik was only able to attend via Skype for a bit of it).

A special shout out to those who hosted this awesome party: My Aunt Norene (mom’s sister), my Aunt Julie (dad’s sister-in-law) and Eileen (Aunt Norene’s best friend for as long as I can remember, and basically my non-blood related aunt).  Shout out to my sisters for their help as well (and everyone else, as I know many were involved).



The shower was held at Trinity, which was appropriate since that place is my second home anyway.  I walked in to Fellowship Hall covered in purple (and the prettiest lighting setup on the stage).  There were tons of tiny details that didn’t go unnoticed.  White gift sachems filled with purple M&Ms, customized napkins, personalized pencils, and more.  Everything fit together perfectly.  Both of my aunts even wore purple.


(from left to right: Deanna (my youngest sister (21), Me!, Kristina (my MOH and other sister (24), and Kristin (Erik’s sister and my almost sister-in-law (21))   )

Kristina crowned me with a “Bride to Be” rhinestone tiara and the pink BRIDE sash (originally meant just for the bachelorette party) before the guests arrived.  During this time we were also trying to get Eileen’s nifty hot spot internet contraption to give my laptop internet so we could get Erik in on the party, but the cement hole we were in was making it impossible.


There was a nice spread of lunchtime foods, including sandwiches, a veggie tray, and various pasta salads and jello creations.  Delightful!



Kristina and Deanna worked hard the day before to make and decorate these lovely sugar cookies for the dessert tables.



The dessert options were wonderful!  First, there was a beautiful cake from the bakery we have gotten special cakes from my entire life, Jarosch’s, which is to be expected at a Voss family function. If it wasn’t for our cake coming with the reception package, odds are the wedding cake would be from there as well.  Then the cute cookies that my sisters slaved over the oven for were available, and on a separate table was a chocolate fountain!  You could tell the people that planned this have known me my entire life.  The array of sweet treats was just incredible, delicious, and SO not on plan.  As you might have guessed, I wasn’t to worried about counting Points Plus last weekend 😉


(Marilyn (Grandpa’s Girlfriend) and Aunt Julie (in purple)

While eating was happening there were a few games being played.  A Mad-lib was going around entitled “Write Brianna’s Wedding Vows.”  While none of them were read at the shower, Tina (aka Kristina, but I’m the only one “allowed” (read: tolerated because I won’t change) to call her that) made sure I had the papers for those and the “Give Brianna Marriage Advice” activities so Erik and I could read them when I got home.  The mad libs were definitely good for more than a few laughs. 🙂

Another game that was played was “How Well Do You Know the Bride?”  Everyone got a form with questions like:

  • When is the bride’s birthday?
  • Favorite Food?
  • Eye Color?
  • Actress?
  • When is the wedding? (which everyone should have gotten by looking at their napkin or pencil)
  • etc

I also had to answer those questions, and I’m such an indecisive person that even I couldn’t come up with a single answer for some of them.  When it came time to reveal my answers, I made the guests tell me their guesses first, and my friend Megan sacrificed herself to read her answers aloud to get the ball rolling.  It was a good time and a lot of laughs.  Then we had Erik on his mom’s phone via Skype (iPhone 5S win) and I had to play “How well do you know the groom?” with him watching.  He submitted answers to Kristina earlier in the week.  Again, a fun thing, especially when the answers matched up, or caused me to give amusing answers while searching for the right one.



Then it was time to conquer the mound of presents that people so generously brought.  All 3 sisters were on duty making sure everything kept flowing.  Dee was making my ribbon bouquet, Kristin was swapping out the gifts I’d opened for ones I hadn’t, and Kristina was recording who gave what and was around for hand strength purposes when I couldn’t get things opened.  We got the ball rolling with the gift from my parents and sisters: boxes with a bunch of littler things individually wrapped and taped into oblivion, just to make it really difficult for me to open.  My family likes to torture me like that.  Erik was watching (we had the iPhone propped up on the table) and said he felt so bad he wasn’t there to help me.  Present unwrapping struggles and other silly struggles like that are the stories of my life.  Everyone in the room knew why and was amused :-p



Erik and I got some wonderful things that has helped upgrade our kitchen a bit (and new towels for the bathroom, but we are waiting until we shower in the same bathroom to use them).  I even got a few sexy nighttime things from my Aunt Norene and Eileen that were opened in front of the crowd. Every gift is SO appreciated and has been helping us turn our apartment randomly merged belongings into our home that contains OUR belongings.  Your generosity has not gone unnoticed and we are so thankful to everyone who attended and for the wonderful gifts we were given.  It’s been fun being able to get rid of some of the old and make room for the new this past week.

The absolute best part about this shower was not the presents, or the food or the chocolate fountain; the BEST part was seeing many of the most important people in my life there.


(me and my parents)

I felt so loved by everyone who attended, and it makes me feel so special and that this time in Erik’s and my life together is blessed and loved.


(Me and my hostesses: Aunt Julie (left), Aunt Norene (middle) and Eileen (right))


(Members of Trinity who were there, some family by blood, some family by friendship)


My best friends from college reunited (Megan, Laura (bridesmaid), Me, Allie, Betsy, and Dana (my AXO Little sis)

Having my girls from college back together was one of the best parts.  I miss having those girls just a room, a hall or a dorm away.  This reunion was very much needed, and between the shower and the bachelorette party, I got a lot of girl time in.  These girls are amazing.

100_5692This guy has been my best friend since age 5 and he’s still around for the most important days of my life to come.

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law to be were able to fly up from Florida to be there, and of course both of my parents and my grandfather were there too.  Seeing family and friends was such a blessing, especially now that I live so far away from them.

It was a beautiful shower, and the only thing that would have made it better would have been if Erik could have physically been there with me.  Thank you everyone who was involved in this most special day!

Friday 5: September 27, 2013


Happy Friday my friends!  Fall is starting to actually feel like it’s in the air, keeping the mornings crisp, the nights cool and allowing me to pick up a hot latte without feeling totally ridiculous (like in the 95 degree heat of summer).    I’ve always loved the changing of seasons, even in the winter, at least for a week or two.  New seasons offer new beginnings and exciting seasonal traditions to make the little things in life (like the first Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte of fall) fill hearts with happiness.  I find this happens the most in the fall and winter months.    Enjoy the changes that autumn brings.   Be happy.

and now for your regularly scheduled program: the Friday 5

TV Shows are Back!

Speaking of regularly scheduled programming, TV shows are starting to come back in full swing.  As I’m sitting here typing I am streaming HuluPlus on my Apple TV watching last night’s season premiere of Glee.  Last night I got home from teaching just in time to turn on the Grey’s Anatomy premiere..never mind the fact I didn’t watch any of last season except the finale..  Sunday starts Once Upon a Time, and the show Erik and I have sort of watched together (and by together we mean wait until we both have had time to watch it and discuss.)Bones, has been back for a couple of weeks now.  Even though it is a rare occasion that I am actually home to watch new episodes of anything when it is actually airing, I feel like it’s a special treat to have a handful of shows I can tackle when I have time throughout the week.  Biggest Loser (can’t wait for that to start!) keeps me inspired and motivated, while other shows help me escape from reality for a whole 40 something minutes (because even on Hulu you’re stuck with commercials).  Whatever the case may be, one of the joys of fall for me is having my TV shows come back.  On this years to watch list: Biggest Loser, Bones, Grey’s (if I can keep up), Glee, and that new Michael J Fox show.  I loved him in my favorite trilogy (Back to the Future) and applaud him for being bold enough to star in a show while his Parkinson’s is in full swing.  Mad props for McFly.

Pumpkin Spice Madness

I seem to have made it an unspoken challenge to try anything pumpkin spice flavored that I can get my hands on this fall.  Currently sitting in my apartment I have:

  • Pepperidge Farms Pumpkin Spice Loaf
  • Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin cheesecake cookies
  • Cans of pure pumpkin
  • Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Spice Coffee
  • International Delights coffee creamer
  • An array of Pumpkin scented soaps and candles from Bath and Body Works

I’ve also had a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte, and thanks to the cupcakes our main office got us for resident appreciation week, I had an epic Pumpkin Spice cupcake from GiGi’s cupcakes (pictured above).

I’m still waiting to get my hands on a few things if I can find them:

  • Thomas’s Pumpkin Spice Bagel thins (if they made them this season) or bagels
  • Planters Pumpkin Spice Almonds
  • Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice granola
  • Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • Pumpkin Spice M&Ms

I can’t seem to find the nuts, bagels, or M&Ms anywhere.  What are some pumpkin Spice flavored things htat I’m missing?  lease share your favorites, as I’d love to try them.


Plant Nanny

I treated myself to a silly little $0.99 app yesterday called Plant Nanny.  It’s a cute little health and wellness app that encourages you to drink water.  Based on your weight and activity level it decides how many ounces of water you should have in a day, and then when you drink, you water your plant.  I guess the plant will grow if you give it the water it needs and will wither if you don’t.  You can pick your cup sizes and it tracks your water intake.  I only drink out of my water bottle so I fill my “cup” for the plant once I’ve had a full bottle.  It’s a bit dorky, yes, but I’ve been lacking in the water intake lately, so this will just help make sure I’m on track.  You can find Plant Nanny on the App Store.


Bad News, Boofie

Boofie is what we call one of our dogs ( “our” dogs are the dogs at home in IL. My babies that I still claim even though I’m not there anymore).  Why Boofie?  Well, simple really.  I tend to start calling animals things and their nicknames stick. His actual name is Rufus, then Kristina (in an effort to be cute) started nicknaming him Roofie..yeah, I couldn’t call a dog roofie, so I simply changed one letter and started calling him Boofie.  Anyway, Boofie stuck.  This week Kristina found out that Rufus has Lymphoma…cancer.  This is sad for us all, but especially for Kristina, as he is her dog and has been a support for her through some tough physical and emotional times.  She’s heartbroken, and I’m sad about it.  I always joke that he’s a devil dog (because he really is a jerk sometimes), but he’s one of my babies and I still love him.  According to my mom there were two treatment options: Steroids to kind of ease things and give him a few months to live, or chemo which has an 80% chance of remissions and would probably get 3+ more years on this Earth.  Call us crazy, but he starts chemo next week.  He’s family, so mom said the chemo can be given a try.  If it doesn’t work then who knows, but for now please add Rufus to your prayers for healing.



Show Me Something Beautiful

In the midst of the stressful chaos that seems to be our lives right now I am trying to do my best to stop and notice the beauty of God’s creation when I can.  Taking just a few seconds to look at the sky when the clouds and the sun look particularly glorious (I took that picture walking back from the gym), or smiling at the dogs that I see around the apartment complex, or noticing the tiny little moments of awesome really helps to make the day better, if only for a second.  Despite all of the chaos in everyone’s lives it is important to take at least a second to notice God’s glory around you and thank him for it.  I try to remind myself of this daily.  Don’t take your blessings for granted (it’s really hard sometimes, trust me, I know).   Pray to have your heart and eyes opened to the beauty in this world, today and every day.



Happy Friday!