weekend trip: charlotte

earlier this month, g and i took a road trip down to charlotte, nc. it was our first road trip together – and we now know that i have serious driving anxiety and i should always pack a pillow to sit on for long drives. i’m a super fun wife.

the weather in charlotte happened to drop as soon as we arrived – from like 70 degree sunshine to 50 something gloom. but the sun did manage to peek out for the clouds on our last full day of exploring for which we were quite thankful.

friday was spent traveling to charlotte, checking into our hotel which happened to be hosting many nascar fans for the big race that weekend, and showering before lights out.

saturday morning we woke up refreshed and ready to find some good local acai bowls for breakfast to feel like we were truly living the dream. only to find out that every trendy cutesy place i had bookmarked was about 20 minutes in the wrong direction of where we needed to be at 9am. so bob evans it was! this was surprisingly g’s first time eating at bob evans, yet for me this was a chidlhood favorite. it was delicious and fast.

the whole purpose of being in charlotte for the weekend was for a conference I was attending. you can read all about it in this post. while i learned about all the things, g went exploring the town. he found mcdowell nature perserve and hiked around a bit until the wind just was too cold to bear. on his way back to the hotel he found the billy graham historical library and stopped in for a visit. he came out with a new book and a cute wooden sign for me. he’s so thoughtful and sweet, seriously.

after the conference, we tried to do the cool hip thing and visit the cool hip part of town – but we just weren’t feeling it after walking around and having an hour long wait for a table – or maybe it’s that we just weren’t cool and hip enough? so we ended up a few blocks down at ruru’s tacos & tequila. it was loud yet adorable – we really liked the atmosphere and the food! seemed like it’s definitely a local date night spot for many!

sunday morning was exciting! we had plans to meet up with brittany (longtime childhood friend) at elevation church. it was such a sweet expeiernce to get a behind the scenes look at prep for the service, while meeting some really awesome team members/staff. brittany was such a great host to us and we really enjoyed the experience. elevation is the kinda church you can learn so much from.

the rest of sunday afternoon was spent exploring 7th street market. we had pizza at a local spot and then took the train to southend. g and i discovered were not much of the exploring type – we need a plan, a destination, a purpose. so after walking around aimlessly for a few hours, the hotel was calling our names. lame, we know.

we chilled in the hotel, i probably took a nap, and then we awoke to grumbling stomachs, ready for the next meal. isn’t that just how it goes on vacation? hurrying up to the next time you’ll eat? haha

we stumbled out of the hotel to a beautiful pond with people paddle boating. so cute.

g and i are obsessed with mexican food and even though we had just had it the night before for dinner, we easily said yes to trying out zapata’s. and good glory we are so glad. this was hands down the best mexican food we have ever had. each of our dishes had amazing flavor. we now hold zapata’s at the top of the list, and like i said, we have frequented many a mexican restaurant since our trip, and nothing compares. so delicious.

monday morning, ironically, the weather in charlotte shot right back up to the usual sunny and 70 degrees – but alas we had to hit the road back home around 7AM.

it was fun to get away for the first time since being married. g had really been looking forward to our charlotte trip and would remind me often during the snowy maryland months that we were only xx days away. he’s always so encouraging and hopeful. i love him. would love to return to charlotte for a longer stay with a tad bit more of a purpose – maybe an itinerary created by some of the locals. that’s more my cup of tea. enjoy the pics, y’all!
















lately, i’ve been in the winter funk and ain’t nobody gonna change that. i’ve been trying though – really trying to be grateful through this season. it happens every year, so i really shouldn’t surprised. my husband? well, he’s learning. i keep telling him: “you married me. all of me. even this season of me.”

he’s so sweet and reminds me that “yes, he did marry me.”

this kinda stuff just doesn’t phase him.

god knew i need a man unfazed by my craziness. ha. that made me laugh. bc it’s so true.

here are some pictures from last weekend. not sure the reputation maryland has throughout the country (or even the world!) but we are basically a four-season kinda state with water & woods everywhere you turn. i love it here. it’s so dang beautiful. enjoy!

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blizzard jonas

grant & i have spent 54 consecutive hours together (friday @12:30pm to sunday @6pm) & we are still going strong! we have watched plenty of netflix, i’ve learned a few games (sequence & speed) & crushed grant at both. we’ve baked cookies, made homemade pizza, homemade pesto, homemade alfredo, boiled rice, boiled pasta, baked potato chips, done hours of homework (grant), danced in the living room, spent morning devotionals together, watched tons of youtube, prayed for the power to stay on, laughed with delirium, went tubing down our front yard into the woods, went for a walk to the beach, almost fell into the icy bay (alicia). it’s been a memorable blizzard. i’m thankful we didn’t lose power & went kept morale high at camp cardwell. please enjoy our blizzard tubing fun from today. xo


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the perfect wife


“there is literally nothing in nature that blooms all year long, so do not expect yourself to do so.”


the other day i was talking to grant about my fear of failing as a wife & how overwhelmed i was at the thought.

i used to have the messiest bedroom growing up; for days – weeks – & my mom would tolerate it. i’m sure she would chat about my messy room with her gal pals at work, & when she would get home, i would have to finally clean my room before i could do anything else. & of course, another couple of weeks would go by & the bedroom would be a wreck again – & thus the same cycle goes round. how exhausting. for us both. my mom – just wanting order – & for the respect of keeping a clean bedroom – & me – who works much better in a messier environment – my thoughts are scattered like my clothes – finding comfort in the chaos – only wanting to take a nap on my pile of clothes. & yet not a day went by that my mom loved me any less because of my many flaws – weaknesses. if anything, she loved me more.

i look at my habits now – & the vulnerability that has suddenly become a requirement in our newlywed household. i’m still messy – i’m still scattered. & now my husband is my audience to this well-known show. my parents & brother were my audience for 18 years & now the audience has shifted. to my one & only. my husband.

it’s hard. they said it would be hard. & they were right. now, grant & i don’t struggle with sharing our space – that’s no problem. it’s vulnerability that i struggle with. but it has nothing to do with grant. that’s the beautiful part. he has created a safe, trusting environment where i can be myself, where i can relax, where i can be comfortable – as a husband should. i struggle with allowing myself the right to truly soak in the freedom. trusting that grant isn’t going anywhere. he isn’t going to suddenly notice a habit or see the messy room & leave me. am i the only one who has feared this?

i can’t be. i know i’m not the only one.


this is the same vulnerability that i have been steadily working on with god for years. for him to see & know me in ways i’ve never allowed anyone to see. to know & S T I L L. still be my God. still pursue me. still love me. still.

i guess what i’m getting at is that during this learning – i may not bloom like i expect. i want to bloom, y’all. i want to immediately have a wife routine, a chore chart, a grocery list, a budget. i want it all – all at once. i want to be the perfect wife.

yikes. i said it. i’ll let those words soak in for a few days. weeks. it’s real & i shouldn’t just sweep it under the rug. i’ve never been the perfect daughter, sister, friend . . . and yet now i want to be perfect at being a wife. i pray this will pass. that i will feel the freedom & the trust of letting go – learning through the mess. maybe even pick up some of the mess along the way.

i’m so thankful for grant – he lets me vent these thoughts and frustrations with open ears – – i love his support for the girl who seems to always be surrounded by a mess. he sees through it all. it doesn’t scare him off – and that is one of the many reasons i fall in love even more each & every day.

it’s ok that right now i’m not in a season of blooming. i will continue to plant & sow into our marriage – into this new role – and see beautiful blooms in their timing.


thanks for reading.

remember: “there is literally nothing in nature that blooms all year long, so do not expect yourself to do so.”

last glance: christmas 2015

we packed up all the decor today. the christmas decor that is. it’s funny because we willingly decorated this year-  but with everything packed up & out of sight, it feels like i got my house back. it’s back to it’s natural state.


yesterday it was 70 degrees. it was like a summer day. AND. AND THE SUN CAME OUT. i haven’t seen the sun it what feels like a week & for my undiagnosed seasonal depression – that’s no good. no good i tell you. we spent the morning at church – it was inspiring & the perfect way to end the year.

we weren’t able to join the annual christmas family gathering at my grandparent’s on saturday because i had work (& honestly grant was too sick to do anything) so we made plans to visit my grandparents on sunday. we spent the afternoon catching up & laughing (totally forgot to take pictures. grr.)

then it was off to the next family gathering at my dad’s house. we picked up my other grandmom & headed south. i usually go to my dad’s christmas day but we decided to wait until the whole family could visit & join them.

the gang was all there. plus four dogs.

i’m so grateful for my family. after all they’ve done for us, they continue to do more. christmas was beautifully unexpected & relaxed & one that i will forever remember.













a cardwell christmas: 2015

welp, today went nothing like we thought.


not that we had a ton of plans or anything. as it is our very first christmas together as a couple – we wanted to try to make traditions of our own. this time last year i was spending christmas bouncing from my mom’s house to my dad’s house, texting grant the whole time. he was visiting his family in texas. we hadn’t even been on our first date yet. it’s crazy how much can happen in one short year.


yesterday we celebrated the end of grant’s first semester in college (yes, he’s working full time & taking classes = my hero!) by going to the matinee of creed. it was an intense movie – he loved it. i’ve never been able to stomach fighting (especially boxing) but the storyline was great. then we headed over to outback for a yummy dinner. it was around this time that grant started to feel like major poo. we headed home, in the pouring rain, made our beds on the couch, tried to find it’s a wonderful life on youtube (unsuccessful) & settled on the morrocan christmas episode of the office. why did i just say settle? that was silly. i love every christmas episode of the office – but it’s not as cute & traditional to post all over ig & snapchat – so i’ll reveal it in my blog (shhh don’t tell anyone!)

we had plans to catch the sunrise christmas day. i had done this last year & it was so peaceful & refreshing to start the day at the beach with the sun.

well, as it has been all week, we woke up to a mild, humid, foggy morning. but my champion husband mustered the strength to get outta bed couch & head down to the beach. it was beautiful.

then we opened our gifts – i got him some beard balm, a beard comb & a shirt (the rest of his awesome gifts are still on a truck from new york #wifeoftheyear) & he got us matching qalo rings & A CANON CAMERA. yasssssss my hero got me what i’ve dreaming about for YEARS.


we took the camera out for her very first adventure. i also went hiking last christmas so i thought – hey it’s 70 degrees & i just saw the sun peeking out from the clouds – & grant had been sleeping the day away from the moment we finished opening presents – so i convinced him this was the best idea.

the hike ended up being about 4 miles (#wifeoftheyear) & by the end of it we had sweaty foreheads & wet shoes. i had a great time – the verdict is still out on grant.

we rushed home & i made a delicious curry lentil soup from oh she glows for bae & then we headed over to my mom’s. we had a good time catching up, opening gifts & playing with the crazy cats.

& now we are sitting on the couch while i figure out my new camera & it’s a wonderful life (borrowed from my mom!) plays on the tv as background noise.

my favorite part of the day was reading the christmas story & praying with my husband first thing this morning. it’s not very often we can slow down like we did today & truly enjoy each other & what we’ve been blessed with.


i hope you enjoy my very first canon pictures. i’m so excited about this camera. my blogs will be loaded with pics & my vlog will be fancy & creative.

merry christmas! what was a highlight of your day?












i made grant cry. (wedding gifts)

grant is actually pretty easy to shop for. he’s a manly man who likes the usual things.


i knew i wanted to get him something he could forever keep for his wedding present. i enlisted the help of my friend dan to help me find a classic watch for my man.


grant has a black watch & has been wanting something brown – & so our search began.


dan did all the research & helped me pick out this hamilton beauty & i bought two extra watch straps that grant can swap out at his leisure.






isn’t he so handsome. i melt.

the second part of his gift actually was not planned. i woke up wedding day (november 1, 2015) with no intentions of a second gift, but my oh my did plans change.

you see – the second part of his gift was a page from my journal. i know – super exhilarating. the story behind this particular journal & this particular page is coming soon – you don’t want to miss it.










grant went with the sentimental gift for me. first of all – can we talk about how he bought those letters (ac= alicia cardwell) & painted them himself? he’s so dang cute.




inside the box was a journal filled with grant’s excitement & honesty the days leading up to our wedding day. i love reading through this journal every few days – remembering how faithful God is.









our gifts to each other were just a simple reminder that the greatest gift is our marriage . . . but to do something so sweet & simple for each other meant the world to us.

remember – tomorrow i’ll fill you in on the journal entry that made grant cry. you might cry too! i did!



grant’s watch: hamilton men’s: H69419933 Khaki Field Black Dial Watch

alicia’s journal: shutterfly

photography: L.A. Birdie Photography