Friday, December 23, 2011

2011: A Year to Remember

It would be an understatement to say that 2011 was a great year! Seriously it has been one of the best that I can remember to date! So many wonderful things have happened this year (and a few not so wonderful too) and I thought it might make sense to take a few minutes to reflect on all that we did and were blessed with over this crazy, awesome, amazing year!

January - We started the year off ramping up on wedding planning, we found our venue and began talking to vendors. Sadly though, we lost one of the sweetest ladies I've ever met, Kevin's Grandma T, so he flew home to be with the family for her services. She is greatly missed by all.

Later in the month, I attended my lovely little sister Tanya's Bridal Shower. Her friends did a really great job pulling everything together and she was beautiful as ever.

by Emily Faulknor Photographers
February - We had the most fun having our Engagement photos taken with our super-awesome photographers, The Faulknors of Emily Faulknor Photography. It was a total blast and we felt like celebrities for a couple of hours! We also took a little time to play and headed east of San Diego for a couple of hours to see some snow!
My snow art!

March - March was dedicated to the wedding of a really amazing couple! My sister Tanya Thomas and her sweetheart Terence DeBeer. They had a beautiful ceremony at Chapman University, Tanya's alma mater and we had a wonderful time getting to know his South African family and dancing it up with their friends at their reception! (Gorgeous couple - inside and out!)

April - The month of April brought us three weeks of my best friend April and her sweet daughter Eva! They came to San Diego for a visit and spent the weekends at our house. It was so much fun to spend some time with these two. We even got to take Eva to her first Easter egg hunt!

May - By May I was really feeling the love! My amazing mom and fantastic girlfriends came together to throw me the ultimate girlie weekend, fondly referred to as the "Triple B!" We had a Bachelorette Party with scavenger hunt (something old, new, borrowed and even a special blue cocktail menu with a drink named just for me! - "The Elektraelena!").

Next, we had a glorious 30th-Birthday Wine Tasting Tour followed by a good ol' fashion slumber party with spa baths, pedicures and cupcakes to boot!

Finally, on Sunday we were joined by more friends and family for a quaint Bridal Shower Brunch in my mom's backyard!  It was so much more than I could've ever hoped for!

May also brought some more sad news on Kevin's side with the loss of his cousin Jon. He was a sweet kid and we were so sad to see his life cut short.

We ended the month with exciting news for my brother Nick and aunt Chely, with the publication of their first children's book, "Freddie D. Teddy Goes Camping!" This adorable little story can be found in Barnes and Noble and What an exciting accomplishment for the two of them.

June -  The 1st was my actual birthday and I turned the big 3-0! This birthday will forever be dubbed my "Balloon Birthday" because not only did my mom and wonderful husband both have the same idea of sending me balloons at work, they turned out to be almost identical bouquets of awesomeness! (Great minds think alike!)

Next, Kevin took me up in a hot air balloon which was scary but totally thrilling all at the same time!
Then, my mom threw me another Bridal Shower, this time it was a High Tea here in San Diego at Tea Upon Chatsworth. A bunch of friends and family from So Cal wore cute hats and joined us for a traditional English Tea!

Finally, Kevin had his Bachelor Party weekend in Las Vegas with a bunch of buddies! (Strangely there are no pictures for this one...hmmmm!)

July - Probably don't have to remind you about what happened in July! But just in case you forgot, Kevin and I celebrated with all of our family and friends in the most special, magical and fun day of our lives! The final prep leading up to the wedding kept us very busy, but it was oh-so-worth-it when the big day came.

by Emily Faulknor Photographers
August - Funny, I'm having a hard time remembering August! Perhaps that's because we spent the majority of that month in haze trying to recover from the wedding and all of the other amazing events of the year!

September - September was also quiet for us, however my sister Tanya released her first album and had a CD Release Party where she preformed live with a band (sadly we were unable to attend). All of her hard work and perseverance paid off and we couldn't be more proud of her!

photo by Leonard Jonathon Photo

October - October started off another slew of busy months for us. It was finally time for our honeymoon in Jamaica, but first we went to Dallas, TX to celebrate with a bunch of Kevin's Navy friends at the wedding of Branden and Francis Barron. We had so much fun not only at their wedding, but at all of the other fun events they had planned surrounding their big day. While there, we got to catch up with another Navy buddy of Kevin's, Steve Smith and his wife Natalie who we hadn't seen since their wedding in Kauai 4 years ago!

Francis and Branden were a beautiful bride and groom!
Our little buddies Asher and Moss were the life of the party!

Then, we were off to Whitehouse, Jamaica and the Sandals Whitehouse Resort where we had some serious R & R for an entire week! It was truly our own little slice of heaven!


November - Turkey Day was upon us before we knew it and we decided to stick around town and lay low. On Thanksgiving Day we participated in a nation-wide telephone and Skype anniversary call for the 50th wedding anniversary of my dear, great-aunt and uncle Leo and Orlando Abreu. This was amazing! They had people calling in on 5 different phone lines and 6 or 7 on Skype from all over the country! Then we hit World Famous Restaurant with a few local friends for a Thanksgiving dinner buffet.

Friday, we braved the sales at the mall for some great deals and then back home where I made day-after Thanksgiving dinner! It turned out quite good if I do say so myself (and by the looks of his face below, I'd say that Kevin agreed!).

We finished the month with some awesome news, our wedding was published on Style Me Pretty, the amazing blog all about weddings! It was so much fun to see it online for the world to view and hopefully be inspired by.

December - The last month of a great year! This month is always so busy for us, not just because of Christmas, but because my wonderful hubby was born in December. This year I wanted to spoil him a little since it was our first year being married, so first I threw him off track with a trip to Julian for lunch and a visit to the California Wolf Center.

That's an Alaskan Grey Wolf in the background!

Then, just when he thought he had had all of his birthday fun, I gave him two tickets to the Chargers v. Ravens football game. We met up with some friends for a little tail-gate party (complete with his favorite Funfetti cupcakes) and then into the game where the Chargers kicked some butt!

Now, we're off to the lovely city of San Francisco where we will have a couple of days to celebrate Christmas with my mom and Chuck complete with a tour of Alcatraz Island on Christmas Eve, before heading up to Santa Rosa for a little holiday break.

What can I say, 2011 has been an amazing year for The Donnelly's and it will be with bitter-sweetness when we toast in the new year in one short week!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a very Happy New Year to you all!


  1. Great work guys! It's been a joy being your friend! Hope 2012's just as great for ya!

  2. This is great, Elena! Miss you guys!! xoxo