Celebrating 2 Years Married: A Day Full of Surprises in SF!

While reading, listen to our #ReednTori Mixtape over on Spotify.

In a blink of an eye, Reed and I have officially begun our third year of marriage.


How did this happen? It feels like since we said “I do!” on July 10th, 2015, time has gone into hyperdrive! Yet, as I look back across these last two years, so much has happened, and we have grown and changed in countless ways. From college graduations, to trips to Hawaii and NYC, to becoming licensed pastors, to experiencing a new community of friends and family, to getting our first Bay Area apartment...our first couple of years have been filled to the brim! I feel overwhelmed by the goodness and grace of God, to give Reed and I such wonderful lives, and such loving and committed partners in one another. Of all the people in the world, God gave me Reed, and we have been in love since the Spring of 2012. I knew it would be love from the start. But man, it feels like forever ago when we first met...we were just kids! Those people feel like strangers! And here are we are today, daily being renewed and healed by our Creator, experiencing life in places we never dreamt were possible, and leaning into the refining and changing work marriage offers.

I would not trade our life together for anything, and I know that in so many ways, we are just getting started! There is always more to discover, and I love learning new things about Reed and God’s heart for our marriage every day. What a joy! We are incredibly grateful.

As you know, Reed and I celebrated our anniversary a little early, by enjoying a week in NYC last month! (If you missed it, see snapshots of our trip and a NYC guide here!) Since we had that trip, I assumed Reed and I would not be doing anything extra or out of the ordinary on the actual day of our anniversary. I knew that our special day fell on our day off, so I thought we would just spend time together doing Monday errands. Well, I was wrong. Reed told me with a few days notice, that he had a whole day of special surprises planned in SF! I was so excited! As a recovering control-freak, one of the many lessons Reed has taught me in two years is how to embrace surprises. I am very proud of myself for not begging to know this one! ;)

Surprise #1 - The San Francisco Zoo!

The day started with a delivery of a dozen long-stem red roses (is there a better way to start a day?!), and after we got all ready, we set off to our favorite city. (Reed and I live in Foster City, which is right on the Bay and about a twenty minute drive from San Francisco - we love being so close!) On the road, I held in all my guesses about what our first surprise may be (I’m still learning!), and we arrived at the San Francisco Zoo. The zoo!! Reed and I are quite obsessive when it comes to animals, and we nerded out at EVERY exhibit in this gorgeous zoo. For us, being around animals brings out the inner-child and fills us with wonder. My line for the day was, “Reed, God MADE that!” I just couldn’t believe it, and I’m sure I was really annoying. Thankfully, he loves me anyway. ;)

Surprise #2 - Trouble Coffee and The General Store!

After the zoo, Reed took me to my favorite coffee shop and boutique duo on Judah Street - Trouble Coffee and The General Store! Trouble Coffee serves amazing brews, kill-you-dead-it’s-so-good cinnamon toast, and more. It’s the tiniest little shop (the Oakland location is much bigger and a totally different aesthetic), but I love the SF location best. We enjoyed our decadent toast, and then I “ooh’d and ahh’d” at everything in The General Store. This shop has basically everything I would want a store to have: quality, local, gorgeous, handmade goods. It’s really a little emporium, with an eclectic inventory including books, clothing, artisanal housewares, and furniture. Plus - their back garden is positively dreamy.

Surprise #3 - Grace Cathedral, Huntington Park, and Top of the Mark!

From there, we took off to our next surprise: Grace Cathedral in Nob Hill! Something Reed and I bonded over when we first met, was our mutual love for Christian liturgical practice. I love inserting meditative and reflective practices into my otherwise contemporary expression of faith and church participation. I appreciate the reverence and grandeur found in old cathedrals, and how their doors are open all day to the public. Reed and I spent some time walking the grounds, and prayed for those who would walk in, that they would experience God and feel loved. We thanked Him for our marriage and prayed a blessing over the years to come.

After enjoying the Cathedral, we walked across the street to spend some time in Huntington Park. My favorite thing about Huntington Park is the amount of unleashed dogs you can expect to see running around, playing with each other. And yes, Reed and I were absolutely the creepy non-dog owners, walking around, petting every dog we saw. I personally had a special moment with two French bulldogs, I will never forget. ;) After that, we walked a couple of blocks down and grabbed drinks and an appetizer to share at Top of the Mark, a rooftop bar in the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel. Our view was breathtaking, and we took the time to set some goals for year three of our marriage. (Spoilers: take a trip to Tulum, Mexico, build relationships with our neighbors, sell our car/buy a new one...and a few more!)

Surprise #4 - Waterbar and an unexpected moment for both of us!

The last surprise of the day was our dinner reservations. This was was the most magical part of our entire day! Reed took me to Waterbar, a gorgeous restaurant on the Embarcadero, made complete with a glittering view of the Bay Bridge. I had seen this restaurant countless times and have always wanted to try it! We savored every bite of our delicious meals and enjoyed hilarious/deep/teary-eyed/fun conversation. At the end of the night, our kind waiter treated us to a complimentary chocolate mousse dessert and my favorite...champagne! Here is where I lost it. Here is the moment I will never forget. As soon as the waiter placed our beautiful dessert and bubbly in front of us, I heard a song playing. Mind you, I had not been paying attention to the music playing in the restaurant all night, but I absolutely could not ignore the song that had just started playing. Like something out of a movie, my favorite song of all time, the very song we walked down the aisle to two years ago as Mr. and Mrs. Reed Sowell, Wake Up by Arcade Fire, started playing in the restaurant. This song did NOT fit the ambience of the classy restaurant whatsoever, and I started freaking out, “Reed, do you hear it? It’s my song! It’s our recessional song!” He started laughing and said, “Tori, I swear to you, I had nothing to do with this. This was not me! I wish I could take credit for this!” We shook our heads in disbelief...of all the songs, of all the nights, and of all the moments, my favorite song, started playing as we said “Cheers to many more!” and clinked our champagne glasses together! I laughed with tears in my eyes, and could only say, “I can’t believe this! Life is pure magic, a real miracle!” Dramatic as that response may seem, I just could not fathom how all the blessings in the world had aligned for us that day, but really, how God had blessed us with each other and the life we get to live every day.


Yesterday was special, a day I will NEVER forget! (Quite frankly Reed, you are an angel!) Writing about our anniversary was (admittedly), a little more for me than it was for you. But I will say this: every life and every day is full of opportunities to be surprised by God’s goodness. We all have things and people we don’t deserve! We all have privileges and opportunities that are really gifts and miracles. Your life doesn't look exactly like mine, and mine doesn't match yours...but every life is bursting with beauty and value! Look around you! It's there! Don’t miss it. Tell people you love them, and tell them why. Order the champagne. Listen to that song as the sun goes down and illuminates the sky. Eat the cinnamon sugar toast that has too much butter on it. Don’t forget, don’t overlook. Live...just live. Choose to be here today, eyes wide open and heart ready, to take in the magic. It’s all around you, ready to change you.

A Mini Guide to NYC!

While reading, listen to Ever Since New York by Harry Styles.

Hello friends!


It’s been almost a month since I’ve been in this space, writing, and sharing stuff with you. In part, my reason is I’ve been working on some side projects. This is always exciting and I’m thankful for opportunities to share creatively in other ways, but I do miss this blog terribly in the meantime. I’ve decided to take a little break from freelance to focus more on this space, and become more consistent with my content. My other reason for being away is Reed and I have been doing some traveling! We were blessed to travel with our church staff to Washington D.C. for our annual Foursquare convention. Foursquare is the denomination of our church, and every year, our entire movement gathers for a week to connect, learn, grow, and reflect on what God has done nationally and globally! We heard from amazing speakers (Mark Batterson, Danielle Strickland, and Matthew Barnett to name a few), and enjoyed having the incredible Elevation Worship lead us in worship. Our staff LOVED exploring Washington D.C. and we left the convention feeling so refreshed and inspired. (If you are interested in a D.C. guide, comment below! I wasn’t sure how many of you would be just as interested in that as you would a NYC one, but I’d be happy to oblige if it is something you’re interested in.)

Since we were already on the East Coast, Reed and I planned to spend a few days in New York following the convention. This would be an early anniversary trip and it is a place we have always wanted to visit! Man, it is AMAZING what just a few days together in a beautiful place will do for your marriage! Reed and I decided early on that seeing the world and celebrating milestones were going to be priorities for us. We saved for NYC, made it happen (with cash only, shoutout to Dave Ramsey, and lots of praise hands), and felt wildly blessed the whole time! During our trip, as I posted to Instagram and Twitter, I got so many messages about where we ate, what we saw, and what we did. We really did have the time of our lives, and a very well-rounded experience in NYC. So I thought, why not give YOU some tips and tricks for your next trip to the Big Apple? Here it is, my mini guide to NYC!


A Mini Guide to NYC!
(I have linked every restaurant/coffeeshop to make them easier to find!)

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK...

  • Irving Farm Coffee Roasters (When it comes to coffee, I always get an almond milk vanilla latte, hot or iced. I know, so boring! Reed usually gets cold brew, and all of the below coffee shops had DELICIOUS renditions of both.)
  • Birch Coffee
  • Parliament Coffee
  • Regular Visitors Coffee House
  • Sarabeth’s (Order the crab eggs benedict...if you’re into that sort of thing. Craving it right now!)
  • Orowasher’s Bakery (Perfect place for a NY bagel.)
  • Bien Cuit (Their almond cream and poppy-seed croissant will change you.)
  • Levain Bakery (Okay, their chocolate chip cookies are unbelievable...but Reed and I also loved their sourdough baguettes w/ butter and jam. So simple and so delicious!)
  • Patsy’s Pizza (We got the white pie and added prosciutto...and holy crap people...so good.)
  • Juliana’s Pizza (The perfect classic margherita pizza!)
  • Hot dogs on the Brooklyn Promenade (This was one of our favorite lunch experiences. With a perfect view and NY hotdogs, you just can’t get any better than that!)
  • Luke’s Lobster (There’s no other option...get the lobster roll.)
  • The Smith (Our dinner was wonderful, but the smore’s in a jar dessert is something I want to try and recreate at home. It was so delicious and creative!)
  • Serafina (This is where we went to dinner after we saw Miss Saigon on Broadway. It was just a couple minutes from our theatre, and their filet mignon burger was incredible!)
  • The Grey Dog (This place is a coffee shop and lunch spot by day, but a fun place for dinner and small bites by night! Reed and I shared the spicy kale caesar salad w/ chicken and a bottle of wine...it was perfect!)
  • The Loeb Boathouse (This restaurant is lakeside in Central Park. The view and food are impeccable. Need I say more?)

WHAT TO SEE AND WHAT TO DO...

  • St. John’s Cathedral (This cathedral is breathtaking!)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (I won’t lie...I just wanted my Gossip Girl moment. If you relate, visit!)
  • The New York Public Library (The library of my dreams with beautiful architecture.)
  • Central Park (Central Park is hands down one of our favorite things we experienced in NYC. There is so much to see, it is like visiting a new park every day! We found ourselves returning here every evening.)
  • Strand Bookstore (A famous multi-level bookstore...the perfect place to grab a book for your Subway rides or flight home! I picked up Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and I’m loving it so far!)
  • Time Square (Even if crowds and big lights aren’t your thing, the spectacle of Times Square at night is a must-see!)
  • Brooklyn Bridge & Brooklyn Heights Promenade (A great place for a view, and the bridge itself is just so pretty!)
  • Empire State Building (Reed and I did not spend the $70 to catch the top floor view, but it was fun to walk the lobby and just see the historic building.)
  • Ground Zero 9/11 Memorial (A very moving memorial for lives lost in 9/11. It is wild to think of how many lives were lost there in such recent history, and it is definitely worth the visit to remember and reflect.)
  • Fifth Avenue (Reed and I did not spend a lot of money shopping, but being on 5th Avenue was fun! One of our highlights was the extremely impressive Adidas Store. It is three stories and the setup is really creative!)
  • DO Cookie Dough Confectionery (You will stand in line for an hour to eat this edible cookie dough, but it so worth it! Warning: in the midst of the hype and wait-time, Reed and I bit off more than we could chew and ordered WAY too much cookie dough. We got a little too excited! Believe me, one scoop is enough for you and to share with a friend! Get the classic chocolate chip, you won’t be disappointed.)
  • A Broadway Show (The best thing we did in NYC was fork out the money for a Broadway show. We originally wanted to see Dear Evan Hansen but the tickets were absurdly expensive. We went with Miss Saigon and I was a crying mess the whole time! The vocals and stage production were unlike anything I have ever experienced. I now completely understand the hype surrounding Broadway!)

ON GETTING FROM POINT A TO POINT B...

  • Walking (Whatever you do, do not trade in comfort for style. Wear really comfortable shoes, because if you’re smart, you’ll save money on Uber's and Lyft’s and just walk to where you want to go. With the help of the Subway and other forms of public transit, the walking is a small price to pay to see NYC.)
  • Subway (Taking the Subway everywhere was so much easier than expected. Reed and I are used to Bart in the Bay Area, but the Subway has such a stigma of being complicated. Simply use the transit option in your Maps on your iPhone, pay attention to the stops, don’t lose your Metro card, and you’ll be fine!)

A quick note: I won’t be sharing about our hotel. Simply put, we would not recommend where we stayed, and would encourage you to look into a nice hotel or an Air BnB. We made the best of it and the positive thing about our hotel was its location: Central Manhattan. This put us within quick walking distance of several Subway stations and Central Park! I would just encourage you to do your research, save up more than you think, and read reviews!

Seriously...Reed and I loved every minute in NYC and cannot wait to get back there soon! It is such a magical city! Have you ever been to NYC? What are your favorite things to do/eat/see? Share in the comments below, I’d love to hear!

Homepage photo by Mark Ruaix

 
 


 

For My Brothers: A Men's Style Board

While reading, listen to Hard Times by Paramore. 

Since I started this blog last August, my three younger brothers have given me one request: "Please do a men's style post!"

The stylish men in my life: Jackson (16), Keaton (21), Max (19), and Reed (26).


I've hesitated to put one out, because though I do appreciate great style, and keep up on fashion trends, I am no men's fashion expert. Additionally, this space isn't really a fashion blog. But then, as I thought about the few reasons why I shouldn't dive into the world of men's fashion, I thought about a better reason why I SHOULD: I want to. Many social media and blogging experts would say there are rules, but here, you won't find any. Victoria, Truthfully is an online cork board filled with various kinds of inspiration. It's a platform for things of the heart to spring up and shine, and my heart cares about a myriad of things. I think it's cool that men and women find their creative voice in how they dress, and I think that caring about the exterior doesn't have to take anything away from our valuable interior. What makes you come alive? What adds value to your life and to the lives of others? Where do you discover God? Do that, thrive there, and do it with all of your heart!

I'm not going to get so caught up in nailing down a singular "brand" that I miss out on sharing what is really me. Maybe coming to this blog will feel like looking over a friend's shoulder to see what they're scrolling through, what is inspiring them, and what they are learning. And today? I'm inspired by men's street style from the fashion weeks across the globe. Life and people are beautiful and creative and amazing, and this style board only reinforces that belief for me.

So dear, fashionable brothers and friends of mine, here is your men's style post...I hope it gets those fiery wheels turning! (Images are linked for source/more inspiration)


What is inspiring you? What is moving your creativity forward? Share in the comments below!

Also, if you'd like to see MORE on Men's Style, let me know in the comments...