It’s Wedding Season!

I’m not sure what season everyone else is in, but for the Harpers, it’s officially Wedding Season.  Last weekend Michael traveled to NY to celebrate his good friend from Boston College, Dan Ferguson, marry Christine Burke.  Congratulations Dan & Christine!!

Tomorrow I am heading to North Carolina to celebrate my sweet friend from Wofford, Elizabeth Frazier, as she marries fellow Wofford alum Jason O’Quinn.  Woohooo!

This Friday while I’m in North Carolina, Michael will be attending the wedding of Christie Miranda & Troy Bienemann, two San Francisco friends who have quickly become very dear to both of us.  I’ll miss you guys — know it will be a fabulous wedding!!!

Also getting married this weekend are two of my coworkers — Devon O’Donnell and Mark Chu Cheong.  But not to each other.  🙂  Congrats to both beautiful couples!

Then, next weekend, Michael and I will both head to Chicago for Mark Norcini & Elise Linden’s wedding!  Mark is another very close friend of Michael’s from Boston College.

Whew!  I’m exhausted AND excited just thinking about it all.  We are so blessed to have so many friends who have such wonderful things happening in their lives — I love love.  🙂  Expect lots of fun photos and posts to come!

LOVE,
ash

Surprise! Happy Birthday Michael!

On Friday, September 9, Michael turned 29!  Michael loves a good surprise so this year I kept all plans a secret.  I found it incredibly stressful but I think that Michael found it incredibly fun, which makes it alllll worth it.

Friday morning started with breakfast-in-bed.  This is a long-standing Harper tradition so it wasn’t a total shock, but what I made was the surprise.  Swedish Pancakes!  Although this was Michael’s favorite breakfast growing up, we have never made it at home so he was totally surprised.  They weren’t the prettiest in the world, but they tasted good.

Swedish pancakes, fruit, coffee, juice

Later in the day we met up for lunch at San Francisco’s “hottest” new restaurant (#1 on the Eater SF “heat map”), Cotogna.

We had both been eager to check it out and it did not disappoint.  The pasta dishes were a-mazing.  Definitely want to go back.

   

After work I rushed home and decorated the house with streamers and balloons.  When Michael got home he had a gift on the coffee table and inside was a Giants t-shirt and 2 tickets to the game that night.  I said, “Surprise!  We’re going to the Giants game!”  We’re a 5 minute walk to the stadium so we headed over to the game.  As we were walking up to our seats I kept talking to Michael so that he was distracted.  Then, once we were closer, the whole group of friends who met us there jumped up and shouted “Happy Birthday!” as they threw confetti and blew party horns.  That was one of my favorite moments of the night.

The next surprise of the night came right after the 5th inning.  The Harper family got Michael a “Happy Birthday” scoreboard message WITH a photo!  It was awesome!

We celebrated and sang to him over Julie’s AMAZING brownies and as we sang the entire section joined in.  All in all, we had such a great time — thank you to all the friends who came!  And BIG thank you to Dr. and Mrs. Harper who treated the crew to a round of food & drinks!

After the game a group of us headed over to 21st Amendment for some post-game beers.  (Funny enough, 21st Amendment was on the Bar-Crawl agenda for Michael’s 28th birthday last year.)

Next up was a little bit of a wildcard…we went to a club called “Harlet.”  Harlet turned out to be pretty hilarious and really fun as we took over their VIP section and had an amazing dance party. (I’m still not sure why they didn’t throw us out.)

Needless to say it was an incredible night celebrating the most incredible man on earth.  🙂

Monday in Pt. Reyes!

This is the final post in my 4 part series of Labor Day Weekend posts.  ha.  But picking up where we left off…

On late Sunday afternoon Michael and I headed from lunch at Bottega in Napa to check out Pt. Reyes.  It was a beautiful drive full of rolling hills filled with lots of cows (no wonder they make such great cheese in Pt. Reyes!) so we took a few detours along the way.  When we finally arrived we headed straight for hotel and I fell asleep for a good 30 minutes.  Wine throughout the day can make one sleepy.  Then we headed out for dinner.  We were a little late and most of the town was closing up, but luckily we found a funny little Czech place that was still open so we enjoyed a unique, authentic meal at Vladimir’s.

The next morning we got up and headed straight for breakfast at The Station House.  Once we were fully stuffed, Michael and I explored the town a little and then headed out for a hike.  Julie & Brendon Manwaring are Pt. Reyes experts (I think they love Pt. Reyes like I love Napa) so they tipped us off to a fantastic hiking trail.
The hike was about 2 miles each way and was beyond beautiful, taking us through forests to rolling hills and eventually it spit us out on the beach!  It was awesome!

Michael is a skilled jumper.

I am not so skilled...

By then we were exhausted and just made one final stop at the famous Cowgirl Creamery to pick up some cheese, then headed home sweet home.  🙂

Sunday in Napa

So this is part 3 of 4 of my Labor Day Weekend series of posts.  🙂  In true Harper style, we packed a lot in!

On Sunday we headed up to one of my FAVORITE places in the entire world…Napa Valley.  My heart is just happy in Napa.  My entire being is happy in Napa.  Part of the reason I have such a love for Napa mightbe because this is where Michael and I honeymooned.  But honestly, it is so incredible I think I would feel this way no matter what.

Our first stop was for a tasting at Duckhorn Vineyard.  The setting was gorgeous and all of the wine was amazing, but one Cab stood out to us among the rest so we took home a bottle of the Monitor Ledge for a special occasion.

Next stop was at Alpha Omega.  They had a delicious and very unique rosé that we picked up but possibly their most memorable wine was a chardonnay that seriously tasted like cream soda.  Wine is so funny.

After Alpha Omega we headed to our FAVORITE restaurant in all the world…Bottega!  Michael and I first went to Bottega on the first night on our honeymoon.  Two of Michael’s friends had gotten us dinner there as a wedding gift (thank you Mike & Matty!) and it turned out to be so incredible that we go back as often as we can.  (We even ordered those cups you see in the photo – ha!)

Then we were off to Pt. Reyes!  More on that in the next post.  Cheers!

Yoga & A Shrimp Dump

Sitting here at the close of another Labor Day weekend and I’m wondering if it isn’t one of my favorite holidays.  There is never anything that you have to do over Labor Day, so you have tons of freedom to fill it with whatever your heart desires.  We filled ours with a lot – starting with the Friday night fun I already posted about – so let me tell you about Saturday.

Saturday started with a major adventure — my first EVER Yoga class!!  Somewhere between the drinks and the Super Mario Brothers on Friday night, Leah and I decided that we should go to a yoga class on Saturday morning.  Now, I am not much for working out, I’ve never done yoga, and my typical Saturdays include sleeping in and staying in bed until 10am, then slowly moving to the couch to enjoy some coffee and breakfast (likely that Michael prepared after he completed a jog or some other workout) and watching Saturday TV until 2pm.  And you know what?  I LIKE that!  But this Saturday was different.  Leah and I had made a commitment and so we went.  We checked out a spot not too far from us – Satori Yoga – and took an hour and a half general yoga class.

Now, I’m still trying to figure out if I like Yoga or not, but  I can tell you a couple things: 1) an hour and a half is too long – especially for your first time!  2) it was much more difficult than I expected, and  3) I’m still sore!  What I really like about yoga though, is that it is a workout that kind of sneaks itself in.  I want to be healthy but I don’t like to feel like I’m working out, so yoga seems like a great solution.

OK, so back to the Saturday fun.  Yoga was followed up with an amazing night of filled with fabulous friends and a Shrimp Dump!  I grew up calling this a “Shrimp Boil” or a “Low Country Boil,” but “Shrimp Dump” is fun, and pretty accurate, so we’re going with that.

Julie & Nathan Aleman’s have the CUTEST little back yard/garden area which was perfect for the dump so they were gracious enough to host 4 other couples over.  All of the girls are in my Bible study group but it was fun to get to hang out with their spouses too.  Attendees included (in order from Left to Right): Julie & Brendon Manwaring (front), Sean & Courtney Cox (it’s her married name),  me & Michael Harper, Laura & Daniel Zimmerman and Julie & Nathan Aleman!

The food was DELICIOUS — shrimp, potatoes, sweet corn on the cob, sausage and great spices.  Cooked together then dumped on newspaper.

YUM!

Friday Fun in SoMa

Michael and I went out last night in our neighborhood, SOMA, which stands for South of Market (Street).  We went out with Leah, a good friend and former classmate of Michael’s at Georgetown who is now also practicing law in San Francisco.  Leah also lives in SOMA so it was fun to grab dinner and drinks in the neighborhood, all within a 20 minute walk from our apartment.

The night started at Orson for a cocktail.  The chef at Orson, Elizabeth Faulkner, was on Top Chef!  The restaurant space is a newly renovated old warehouse and they project old movies on the wall behind the bar!

Then we headed to Zuppa for a fabulous meal of prosciutto, muscles, deep pasta dishes and beautiful pizza!  Finally, we ended the evening at Bar Baisc with a final beverage and a little 1987 style Mario Brothers Nintendo!

 

Bolted Down

One of our pastors was recently preaching on “The Wise & Foolish Builders” (Matthew 7:24-29 and Luke 6:46-49), talking about how we build our lives on the foundation of Christ and the Gospel.  He gave the analogy of how any buildings that are constructed in San Francisco literally have their foundations bolted into the ground, hundreds of feet below the surface, and how the ones that are bolted down to a firm foundation are much stronger than even those that are just built on top of a good foundation.

It made me think to times in my life when my faith was really bolted down and to the people who influenced that.  I thought back to Wofford College and to Kelli Kirkland Mayfield, to all of the hours upon hours she spent with me, bolting me down.  To all of the fun times and to all of the hard conversations that we had as she walked with me and helped guide me.  I thought back to the days and nights that she spent on her knees beside me on the floor in my dorm room praying, often through tears, for me and loved ones in my life.  And what an eternal impact all of that made on me.

It’s challenging to think — what am I doing to help secure and solidify others in their faith in Christ?  I pray that I will be used in this way throughout my life.  And I pray that even in passing, I would live in such a way to at least encourage others towards Him.

Love you KKM!

Sophomore year at Wofford