|Sarah's Wedding, 2008|
Things you should know about my very best group of girlfriends:
- We refer to ourselves as Ese Jota (long story)
- We went to high school together (some went to middle school together, and even PRE-SCHOOL, but we all came together in high school) in Manassas, Virginia
- We (some of us, I'm looking at you Courtney, Abby, Tressa & Rachel) have matching tattoos of compasses (there's a story there, too)
- We are currently located in 8 cities across 5 states and span two coasts
- The foundation of our friendship is rooted in celebrating Secret Santa
|Secret Santa 2007|
Eventually, when we all started getting married and having in-laws and our parents moved away from the town we grew up in, it became harder and harder to get together every Christmas to do Secret Santa. Someone had the brilliant idea to switch it to the summer time, and move the location to the beach, and the natural progression of things was to change the name to Secret Seashell. So each year, the nine of us and our "playthings" (read: dates, boyfriends, fiances or husbands) get together at a beach house somewhere on the east coast and exchange gifts but mostly get drunk.
|Secret Seashell 2008|
From May 2011-May 2012, we have four weddings in our group of nine. FOUR. Plus four bachelorette parties, and 27 bridal showers (23 of them were for Kelly). That might be an exaggeration, but regardless, it's an expensive year for Ese Jota. Our solution was to forego the traditional beach trip for a "Raleigh Weekend", and replace our traditional $50-$75 spending limit for gifts with the mandate that they must be homemade. For some of the girls, this is no problem; namely, the one who sews & crafts for a living. But for others of us (cough, Tressa) it was a challenge.
Everyone put so much love and effort into their gifts, and the results were awesome. So many cute ideas that you will likely see me re-use for gifts in the upcoming future. Here are the highlights (until I get more pictures):
Clemson-colored Bath salts and Soaps from Jenny to Kelly (she's gonna love me for this photo) - one even had a tiger in it!
Skirt Apron and Reversible purse from Abby (the aforementioned professional seamstress) to Rachel; the matching wine coasters are pictured below
A very long-awaited "Edward, Size Large" (in t-shirt form) - look how enamored she is! The quote reads "Look After My Heart ... I've Left It With You". I never got into the whole vampire thing, so it's just creepy to me, but whatever.
Personalized stationary from Aubrey Hale to Sarah
Really adorable Map-Frames from Kelly to Tressa (again, probably gonna kill me for this pic). One is of Hilton Head, SC (where Tressa & Greg are getting married in October) and one is of the Arlington, VA area (where they live). Expect to see these again, I love-love-love this idea (found on pinterest).
A garden stone, complete with all of our pictures incorporated, made by Tressa for me. This is such a huge accomplishment for Tressa, you have no idea, and I LOVE it! Adorable.
And finally, the gifts I'm obviously most proud of, hand-painted monogrammed wine glasses and wine-cork wall hanging, from me to Aubrey Hale. Inspiration taken from Whitney for the glasses (which are showcasing Abby's wine glass coasters, made for Rachel, to match the apron) and The Elephant's Trunk, via Caroline, for the wall hanging. Expect to see these again, too.
Let me know if you want step by step instructions for any of these, I'll try to hook it up!