And resulted in an engagement.

Vaccines are on the rise and masks are coming off - is it safe to talk about this touchy subject yet? Quarantine.

It's almost hard to believe that last year for months at a time, we were all in our homes with no where to go and no one to see. Every single evening consisted of playing The Sims on my tablet and drinking too much Grist House beer, all while my boyfriend was on the other couch playing online poker.

At the end of the day, I'm INCREDIBLY grateful everyone that's close to me is safe and healthy, and I am not angry by any means that this is what we had to do to stop the spread and to protect ourselves and others. But it was - weird. The human psyche isn't intended to be cooped up in one place every day, all day, without any in-person interaction with the outside world.

The only in-person interaction most of us had was with the people we lived with.

For me, that was my boyfriend. My boyfriend of four years.

Quarantine either made or broke your relationship, am I right? If you were in a relationship during quarantine, I salute you. It sure as hell wasn't easy. Maybe it helped you realize that you don't want to be with that person anymore. Or maybe you realized the exact opposite - that they're your everything. I am very happy to say that for Jason and I, it only brought us closer together.

This forced time together sparked even more deeper conversations between the two of us. We enjoyed each other's company (almost) the entire time. I barely remember ever being annoyed or angry with him. I was just so happy to be home from work and to be able to see him more.

At the time, I worked for an orthopedic surgeon as his admin assistant. I had to alternate weeks at home and weeks in the clinic so he could treat patients. But from March until June - I only worked about 20 hours a week. And half of that time I was working from home. Those hours when I was home, I separated myself and worked upstairs in our office. Sometimes I went to the back porch and had lengthy phone calls. Giving ourselves some space during the day was healthy and necessary.

June 2020 rolled around and I had to go back to the office full-time. That very first day I was back in the office, I received a "Miss You" Bitmoji text from Jason. And man, did I miss him too! "Wow - this kind of sucks!," I thought to myself. I honestly asked myself if I was pathetic for feeling that way. For missing him just cause I had to be away from him for 8 hours. But then I snapped out of that negative self-talk and reminded myself - we are in a global pandemic! I just spent three months straight with a single human being and didn't see anyone else. And I loved every second of it. This is normal to feel this way!

So - how did we not want to strangle each other the whole time?

  1. First and foremost - we love each other. Duh Jade, what kind of advice is that? In other words, if you feel yourself being constantly annoyed or angry with your S.O., it may be time to reevaluate your relationship.

  2. Secondly, we gave ourselves space when we could. When I worked from home, I spent a lot of the day upstairs or on the back porch. I also claimed our office space as my own so I had my own personal space, and Jason respectfully let me be so I could get my work done.

  3. Thirdly, we still did our own thing. I'll admit, it wasn't the healthiest - but what else we were supposed to do?? Like I mentioned earlier, he had fun playing online poker & I created my own world in The Sims. We entertained ourselves the best we could without constantly needing the other person's attention.

  4. Group FaceTime's with our own friends. These FaceTime's occurred away from the other person, so again, we could have our own space.

  5. Gratitude. Appreciation. I just felt so grateful I had him to hunker down with and that I wasn't alone.

Fast forward to our five year anniversary in February of this year, and my sweet man got down on one knee and asked to make me his wife.

We joke and say a COVID year is like five years in a relationship, but we're also kind of serious when we say that. It put so much in perspective for us. We are very blessed to be safe & healthy, there's no doubt about that. But I feel even more blessed that we found each other. I can't wait to spend the rest of my life as Mrs. Jade Granda.

photo by: Danielle Durbin Film & Photo

Okay, you caught me. I'm a wine-o. SHAMELESSLY. There are plenty of reasons to pop the cork on a great bottle of wine, and "A Year of Firsts" provides you with numerous occasions to do exactly that.

If you're stumped on what to get your fellow bride-to-be for her bridal shower gift, look no further. If she loves wine, you can't go wrong with a wine basket (or crate, or box, or... whatever it is you put the wine in).

The first year of a marriage is extra special for a a newlywed couple. Whether it's a fight or a joyous occasion, they will encounter a year filled with first milestones together, and this wine basket will help them conquer it all.

Before purchasing the wine, you're going to need a basket, or your version of one.

I chose to use a wooden crate to store my wine. Other options include a galvanized tub or a wicker basket.

You can purchase the same 18 x 12.5 x 9.5 wooden pallet crate at any craft store (@Michaels, @HobbyLobby), as well as @Walmart for $10.

I spay painted the crate to match the bachelorette's bridal theme. @Michaels has a lock box filled with different colored spray paints you can choose from. I suggest you prime the wood first, because your colored paint will soak into the wood without it.

Use newspaper and/or tissue paper to add height to your basket. For a basket that's extra deep like the crate, use a small box or other object to add height first, then cover the box with tissue paper.

Wedding Night: Monogamy

It's almost scary how many wines exist that fit into these categories perfectly. My first example, Monogamy.

We all know what monogamy is, but in case you don't, it's "the practice or state of being married to one person at a time."

Purchase this wine so the newlyweds can celebrate their first night together as husband and wife.

Monogamy is a dry Cabernet Sauvignon.

First Fight: Clean Slate

Fights are bound to happen. The newlywed bliss will settle, and no two people will always agree with each other.

No matter how big or small, this perfectly named bottle of German Riesling will help the couple wipe the "slate clean."

First Home: House Wine

Yes, a house wine called "House Wine," with an actual house on the label. TOO perfect - this wine needs to be opened when the couple celebrates purchasing their first home as a new family.

My go-to for bridal shower basket is their Original Red Blend, but they have plenty more to offer.

Visit their website HERE.

First Dinner Party: Bread & Butter

The perfectly named wines to fit every occasion continues with "Bread & Butter."

May the newlyweds break bread and open this wine for the first dinner party they host in their new home with friends and family.

In addition to this chardonnay, "Bread & Butter" also has a Pinot Noir.

First Anniversary: Better Half

One year of marriage down, forever to go!

Wish the happy couple a Happy First Anniversary with this Sauvignon Blanc. When they clink their glasses together, they'll be reminded that they're each other's better halves in life.

You gifted them this wine on her bridal shower day, and they'll still be thanking you over a year later.

"Better Half" overs a variety of different wines in their collection in addition to their Sauvignon Blanc.

First Baby: Barefoot

This family just got a little bigger.

Use any bottle of Barefoot to congratulate the couple on expecting their first child. From champagne to pink moscato, it all fits the theme with the little footprint on the label.

The only issue about this milestone is the mother-to-be can't dive into this bottle, but at least dad & family can!

First Valentine's Day: Love Drunk

Beyoncé & Jay-Z said it first - purchase this wine so the couple can get "Drunk in Love" on their First Valentine's Day together.

This lovely Rosé is by Mouton Noir.

There are several valentine related wines out there, so if you can't find this one, you can also look for:

Terra Valentine Marriage

Chateau Julien French Kiss

Inspire Moore Love Riesling

First Christmas Eve: Santa Margherita

Don't be intimated by this bottle's label, it's not as expensive as you may think.

Santa Margherita's Cabernet Sauvignon is around $30. The deep red is a perfect Christmas wine, but even more perfect is how "Santa" is in the name.

Christmas is a special time for family, especially for the couple to celebrate it the first time as husband & wife.

If you'd like to add additional bottle of wines to your basket, here are a few more ideas:


First New Years

First Thanksgiving

First Big Purchase

If you're crafty, you can create your own tags personalized directly for the couple, or you can purchase a package of them on Etsy.

Taylor Hill wanted something special for her baby shower. We brainstormed together what theme would work best for a summer, July baby shower. After a lot of thought, she wanted the theme "You Are My Sunshine" to celebrate her soon-to-be baby girl.

I decided to melt down unscented white soap and add yellow dye & lemon fragrance to it. The melted soap was then poured into smiling sun silicone molds. Once hardened, each soap was individually wrapped in a clear bag, then finished tied yellow yarn and a hand designed label.

40 molds later, and my dining room table was full of "sunshine."

Designer & Creator: @JoyfulEventsbyJade

Silicone Mold: @Amazon

Soap Supplies, Clear Bags, Yarn: @Michaels