DIY Wedding Arbor

Johnny completely led this DIY wedding project! The idea of having a handmade wedding arbor to be married under then transferred to our backyard garden was super precious, and that quickly became the goal.

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Since Johnny is handy, loves to build things, and is a great problem solver, this wedding DIY project had his name written all over it.

My only job was to find an arbor style that I liked and help him find plans to recreate it. Hello, pinterest! This arbor kept coming up in all my searches and I loved everything about it. So, I showed this to Johnny, and we got all of the materials.


He built most of it while I was away on my admissions travels, so it was exciting to come home from a 14-day trip to this in our garage:


Johnny roughly followed these building plans to create our own wedding arbor. The description list of materials needed and building plans is pretty solid and I think we spent just under $200 to build and then eventually set this arbor in our garden.

The hardest part was getting it into the truck to transport 30 miles to our wedding site! It took 4 of us to get it correctly positioned in Johnny’s truck, but it actually fit pretty nicely, and didn’t get damaged en route!

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I love, love, loved the way everything looked for our wedding day with this arbor. It’s beautiful, and I love that my husband built it!

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It’s even more special now that I can look out my kitchen window every day and see it in the garden.

We had quite the adventure getting it into the ground. We first had to use a post-hole digger (a first for me!) to dig 4 20-inch deep holes in the ground. Then we added a support block to each of the legs, overlapping the block and each of the legs by 4 or 5 inches. Then we had to place the very heavy arbor into the four holes, and level the whole thing. Johnny has way more patience than I do with these back-and-forth test-as-you-go projects, and between the two of us we have some pretty amazing strength!

Gravel and concrete were poured to stabilize it, and after that dried, Johnny placed some soil around the legs to make everything even with the ground. It’s there!


While I recently traveled to Texas, Johnny also build a second garden box, for the other side of the arbor. I’m so excited to have things growing on the arbor next spring!  IMG_7241

If you have the interest and skill set, DIY wedding projects can be so special. Every single time I look at this arbor, I remember marrying my husband, the beautiful words and sentiments, and the feeling of excitement and complete happiness in those moments. Such a treasure!

Check out more of our Wedding DIY projects on the Wedding Page!

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Fitness Friday #41: Fuel Your Life

Usually, when I talk about ‘fuel’ I’m referring to post-workout recovery. Like, bananas.

But it takes more than bananas (or insert whatever you like to eat after a workout here) to keep your fit. It takes attitude. It takes focus. It takes time (and the effort to MAKE time). It takes mental stability, to a point. It takes…happiness?

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I stumbled upon this article about 7 Habits of Happy People this week, and it got me thinking about fitness as it relates to happiness.

Do you need to be happy to find success in your fitness/wellness world? Is happiness a piece of the puzzle needed to fuel fitness and wellness?

I often see happiness listed as a benefit of physical activity. But does it work the other way around, too? Does happiness cause you to find success in physical activity?

I don’t have the answers to any of these, but I have my personal experiences to help flesh out the ideas.

The year that I ‘rewrote my script’, ended a 6+ year ‘relationship’, and finally started allowing myself to see the truth of my unhappiness, I ran 15 road races, broke all of my race PRs, and totaled 1,000 miles. I also taught 9-11 fitness classes regularly. All of this, I think, was because of the pursuit of happiness. I was unhappy, and looking to fitness to fuel my life, to find my happiness.

Fast forward to this past year, 29, and you’ll find me at my favorite year. I’m stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally. I got to marry the most loyal, sincere, sweet person. I don’t second guess myself. I’m nowhere near the same dedicated ‘shape’ I mentioned in the above paragraph. But I’m chasing bigger fitness dreams, moving toward additional certifications, options, a new path. I say no to things that shift my focus from the things and people I love. I feel ok saying no, too, which is just as important. Things don’t seem out of my reach. I’m fueled to chase these passions because I feel happy. Happiness fuels my life, which includes physical activity as a chosen path of interest. And as a way of life.

So, what do you think? Does happiness fuel physical activity like physical activity leads to happiness? Does it all work together? Tell me your thoughts!

Just to keep the world balanced, I also loved this article about Clueless in 2015, too. It was super fetch. Or, wait.

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Hiking to McAfee Knob

As part of our Mini-Moon Adventure (we took a few days off work after the wedding to explore Roanoke, VA!), we knew we wanted to hike McAfee Knob.

McAfee Knob is the one of the most photographed points along the Appalachian Trail. Recognize it?

IMG_6753 It feels super awesome to stand on the edge of a cliff overlooking the mountains in VA. Not scary at all!

We started 3.9 miles away, at the Route 311 crossing. This seemed like the best point of entry for us to day hike – 8 miles total. This website was super helpful for us – there’s a small parking lot where 311 intersects the AT, so it was easy to spot.

IMG_6702 When we decided to take a mini-moon adventure after our wedding, postponing the full honeymoon trip (to the Florida Keys), my mind immediately jumped to Roanoke. McAfee Knob is one of the places on the AT I wanted to visit next.

My ultimate plan is to hike ALL of the AT, but in sections. I don’t know that I’ll have or give myself the ability to create a plan to hike the whole thing in one go (but you never know), so I’m planning to hike different sections at a time.

Virginia or Massachusetts were top on my list for the next pieces, and since VA is warmer than Mass in November…


IMG_6759  (hello wearing a tank top in November!!!)

We definitely gained elevation as we climbed toward McAfee Knob. Check out this elevation map:

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We took our time, especially since there were a few smaller lookout places along the way. It was a gorgeous day to hike!


I love that we got to share this view as husband and wife. This was the first time for both of us being in this area and hiking to McAfee.

It was one of the harder hikes I’ve experienced. It’s neighbor, Dragon’s Tooth, we heard is even more difficult. It’s hard to imagine — there were some steep climbs and tall steps on the way to McAfee.

IMG_6704 I love that Johnny wants to continue my AT dream with me — I’ve hiked 70/2,100 miles so far and want to keep going! This also falls into my 30 by 30 plan to hike more of the AT. Huzzah!

On to the next walk in the woods.

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Fitness Friday #40: {More} Favorite Workout Gear

I’ve already shared a few of my favorite workout gear items, but there’s always more! Here’s a list of what I’m currently loving for workouts:

  1. The Foam Roller. This particular move is my favorite jam:

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My hips get so tight from all the workout action during the week, and the foam roller helps relieve it. Here are my 5 favorite ways to use the foam roller.

2. Compression pants. I’m definitely more of a capri vs. pants fan for classes (I get hot, yo), but capri pants come in the compression variety, too! I prefer activewear that is fitted, not loose. Compression adds a whole new level of feel-good.

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I don’t recommend wearing them every day, but I love wearing my compression capris on days when I’m teaching 2 classes and have 1 or 2 of my own workouts planned. The extra compression helps my legs recover faster, so I can feel good to teach the next day.

My current favorite brand is Old Navy, but I’ve scored some awesome compression pants/leggings at both Under Armour and Target as well.

3. Feetures! socks. These guys are awesome – I love the way they feel. Feetures! socks are hands-down the best sock I’ve found yet for the crazy fitness classes I teach. They are meant for running, but I love them for Zumba and Insanity classes. They have minimal to perfect-amount padding in the toe and heel areas, they are no show, and they come in a variety of fun colors.

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4. Nike Free shoes. Nike Free shoes are my favorite. They’re all I’ve purchased for running for the past 3 years or so. I like a lighter athletic shoe for running, and I’ve even started wearing this pair for Zumba classes, since we move and bounce a lot. I love them!

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5. Reflective running vest. Safety first! As an early-morning person, I find myself stuck in the dark after Daylight Saving Time in the fall. The areas I choose to run are lit, but it’s still pretty dark here on the Eastern Shore.

Enter: reflective vest! This is the one I have. It’s lightweight, doesn’t add any extra layers, and is super easy to wear. I highly recommend this to early morning or late-evening outdoor athletes!

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Are there any fitness or wellness gear items you want to share? Put them in the comments below!


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Wedding Ring Box

One of my favorite DIY wedding crafts (other than the signs we built and painted) was staining and painting this custom ring box!

IMG_6561 When we decided to have two ‘ring bearers’ in the wedding I thought it would be cute to craft a small ring box for one of them to carry.

I saw a similar project on Pinterest, and spent some time looking for the right box. I actually visited a Michael’s store (in person!! shock!!) but didn’t find exactly what I wanted. I ended up finding this card box online (amazon).

I wanted a box with a divider in the middle, a ‘his & hers’ style box.


I loved that this one was unfinished, so I could stain it the color of my choice. I ended up using the stain we purchased for our dresser project, a beautiful pecan shade.

I ended up staining the box with two coats. Though I started with the wrong type of brush for this project, I ended up using a small sponge brush to evenly coat the layers of stain (thanks to my husband’s helpful tips).

IMG_5913 After the second coat dried,  I cut a large jewelry cotton insert in half and stuffed each side. I didn’t plan to do this, but after seeing the box stained, I decided it needed more color, so I grabbed the ‘A’ stencil I used for the signage and painted it in wedding blue! IMG_6562 For fun, I added a J & A on the inside as well. I only took a photo of our rings in the box — the day of the ceremony, they were in the pocket of one of Johnny’s groomsmen, just in case.

I loved this little DIY project. As an added bonus, now we will have this special box for any mementos we collect as husband and wife! It’s currently living on a shelf in our master bedroom.

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The Dress

I have so much to share about our awesome wedding day, but I thought I’d start with THE DRESS!


I wrote a little about the dress shopping experience back in March, but didn’t want to share any photos of the dress at that point. It was the first dress I tried on (I did try a few others that day) — I tried in on 5 times, it fit like a glove, it fit my personality, and I took it home with me that same day. No alterations were required. I proceeded to ‘try on’ the dress about a dozen different times at home.

In early September, when I had my hair & make-up trial, my photographer Chelsea Fluharty met me at the wedding location so I could do full bridal photos. I’m SO glad we did this, even though I felt a little silly being all dressed up 6 weeks before my wedding AT the wedding spot.

The location was perfect — for the bridal photos and for our wedding. I’m SO excited to finally be able to share a few of these photos:

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 9.12.27 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 9.12.37 PM I wore a crinoline slip under the dress to give it an even fuller look. I LOVED that. It swished with my movements and felt full for a tea-length dress.

I found the shoes first, so naturally I had to find a dress that would SHOW them.

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I love the belt with the flower detail. This was one of the selling points for me with this dress. It also has a delicate floral overlay which makes it super feminine.

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The dress fit me comfortably, I was able to move around in it, go to the bathroom by myself (TMI?), and I never tugged at it or had to pull it up (a usual concern with strapless dresses).

If I had to choose a dress again, this would be it. That’s how I know it was the one!!

I will say — to future brides — PLEASE do a hair and make-up trial! If you can, get some photos like this, too — it helped me understand how the whole look would come together, and on my actual wedding day, we weren’t fussing with “well how would you like this done” it was just hi again, let’s get to it. I was SUPER calm during the getting ready process on my big day, and I attribute a lot of that to having done a full look trial.

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30 by 30 Progress

Since 29 1/2 is on the immediate horizon, I thought this would be a good time to ‘check-in’ and see progress on my 30 by 30 list!


Aundra’s 30 by 30 List

  1. get married. totally counts. YAY! October 31, 2015.
  2. visit 2 new states. No new states are in the plans, maybe this one gets bumped.
  3. read 30 books I’ve read maybe 4 this year, needs some work!
  4. hike part of the AT We hiked to McAfee Knob during our mini-moon
  5. go zip lining Still want to do this!
  6. take a new-to-me fitness class. acro yoga? belly dance? I’m thinking a barre class would be fun.
  7. complete our kitchen project (oh man that’s a challenge!!) We’re saving and planning!
  8. make a backyard planting plan We’re building a new box at the very least and ‘planting’ our marriage arbor that Johnny built.
  9. plant more flowers by the mailbox!
  10. knit a scarf. maybe I can just knit all my bookmarks together… Ugh. Winter project.
  11. run 1,000 miles. I did it during my 27th year! Working on this. Now that wedding is over, I’m itching to run a short race!
  12. host a backyard dinner party We had most of our wedding party over for a backyard dinner this summer!
  13. take a pottery class
  14. take yoga classes – I dropped in on a PiYo class, but I want to try more!
  15. host a month-long fitness challenge The push-up challenge
  16. visit a vineyard in another state We visited Blue Ridge Vineyard in Eagle Rock, VA
  17. get a pet. puppy. kitty. puppy. PUPPY! KITTY! We talked about a birthday search. Stay tuned.
  18. see a Ballet performance
  19. plant a fruit tree
  20. run a race in a new state
  21. send birthday cards
  22. get a new fitness certification Working on an AFAA certification at home!
  23. make and share kombucha. My SCOBY needs some action.
  24. host a tea & cupcakes party. So I didn’t host it, but my ladies gave me a tea party as a bridal shower. Counts.
  25. host online challenge fitness groups Hosted my first group in Sept/Oct while I traveled for work!
  26. teach or team teach a fitness class in a new area Got to teach some Zumba while I traveled to CO!
  27. publish an article
  28. host a photo a day challenge
  29. visit every local store in my town
  30. plan a fabulous 30th birthday trip

Quite a few have been checked off the list! But I also have a little way to go with some of the items. Looking forward to many more adventures before I hit 30!

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Meet the Andersons

WE DID IT! We’re officially a married couple!

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Everything went so well for our outdoor Halloween day wedding. More to come! I have so many wonderful details to share — more on the dress, the location, the DIY projects, the awesome vendors, my fabulous wedding party, the music, and all the photos! I’ll post every last detail on the Wedding page.


We’re heading for a 5-day mini-moon trip to southern VA — we plan to hike, relax, explore, and enjoy our Newlywed status!

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Things I want to remember on my wedding day

Almost one year ago, we got engaged (epic trip to Yellowstone!). Since then, we’ve been moving full-steam ahead with wedding and life plans.

We figured out the BIG wedding pieces in late winter/early spring: venue, photographer, dress, food, and wedding party. We spent a lot of the middle-to-late summer working on DIY pieces.

A lot of our wedding planning had to wait until the month of our big day — we decided to make the wedding cupcakes, favors, centerpieces, etc. So the past month, few weeks, and especially the past week have been hectic.

In the middle of all the craziness, I’m forcing myself to sit down and write this post, because the MAIN reason we are having a wedding is to be married.

With that in mind, I wanted to make a list of things I absolutely want to remember on my wedding day:

Seeing Johnny for the first time. We’re getting ready separately, and then coming together before the ceremony for a ‘First Look’ — I get goosebumps thinking about this first moment!

Walking down the aisle. My ceremony site has a dramatic, long, walkway, and I’m going to love every moment of walking towards my future husband, surrounded by our friends and family. I have to remember to take it slowly and take lots of mental snapshots. Grab the kleenex!

Saying our vows. This is one of the parts of the wedding I’m most looking forward to — I am beyond excited to become Johnny’s wife, and I love the tradition of the ceremony, filled with sweet sentiments and beautiful words to start our lives together as husband and wife.

The moment right after being named husband and wife. This part, next to seeing Johnny for the first time, gives me chills thinking about it! The moment when we are announced, turn and walk down the aisle, surrounded by family and friends — that moment — I want to remember it the most.

Visiting with family. This will be the first time meeting for many of our family members, and I’m excited to see both of our families interact.

Dancing and hanging out with friends. It’s a rare occasion that my friends and I get to see each other all dolled up and in one room at the same time! I also have friends trekking from all over the country to be here for this day — I love that and I can’t wait to squeeze all of them!

Entrance during the reception. This will be the first time we ‘enter’ somewhere as husband and wife together and I want to cherish that moment!

So, even though I’m still making lists, finalizing a few details, and hoping that everything runs smoothly, these are the moments I want to see, feel, and remember.

Here’s to the start of WEDDING WEEKEND!

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Fitness Friday #39: 5 Tips for Joining a Fitness Class

As a fitness instructor, I can forget what it’s like to join a new fitness class. It can be a hard decision to put yourself out there! During my recent travels to Colorado for work, I had the opportunity to jump into two fitness classes. While the formats–Zumba and PiYo–were not new to me, the experience reminded me what it’s like to be new in class.

5 tips

With that in mind, I’ve put together a few tips for joining a new-to-you class or format!

  1. Show up. On time, or a little early if that’s possible. Showing up is half the battle…bite the bullet and give it a try.
  2. Breathe. It sounds simple, but sometimes the thought of trying something new is enough to make you anxious or get you all tense. Relax! Everyone in class was new at one point, and experienced the same thoughts and emotions as you. This works in another way, too — remember to breathe during class!
  3. Introduce yourself to the instructor. Don’t hide in the back corner! As a group fitness instructor, I can honestly tell you that I love when new people come up to me before or after class. I love seeing new faces, and it means so much when those new faces come up and say hello. Feel free to also ask about different moves, “How can I improve this” etc. – we’re here to help!
  4. Go at your own pace. You don’t have to try to reach the level of every other person in class. Be safe — you know your abilities, your medical history, etc. – do what’s right for you. Everyone approaches the moves in class a little differently, and I love that aspect of group training. As the instructor, I learn from you, too!
  5. Drink water. And take a break if you need to. You will not be judged for slowing down or stopping…think of the class as a big family!
  6. And, a bonus tip… Have fun. Because fitness is fun! Especially in a group setting. Everyone there wants to workout, have fun, and learn from one another. It’s the neatest environment!

I hope to see you in a class soon!

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