Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day


Don't you just love Opening Day? I don't know if I'm partial to the sport and times because my mom went into labor with me at a Cards' game (yet, since they had good seats, they didn't leave), but baseball season brings so many special memories:
Opening weekend games in the very last row and a temperature just barely above freezing
Enjoying College Night Happy Hour before the game
Taking my little cousins to their first professional baseball game (They weren't too happy about it. Quote of the Day by the 5-year-old: "This is not a real baseball game. The players are tiny. They look like mice.")

Although they did enjoy the kiddie area
90 minute rain delays
95-degree weather after the rain delay
Fireworks Fridays
 One of the many reasons I love living in KC is the cheap-as-dirt baseball tickets. Ten dollar, or even $5, tickets are easy to come by, for just about any game except the Cardinals or possibly the Yankees. This makes for easy, spur-of-the-moment date nights, especially when we also score free parking from B's dad (his company has season tickets).
 My favorite party of a baseball game is about the 6th or 7th inning when the sun has sunk below the bleachers, the lights illuminate the field, and the crowd is fully-enraptured in the game. There's something magical--romantic, even--about this time of the game, and it's this feeling that I love about baseball season.
Opening Day is more than just the start of baseball season, though. It means that the winter nastiness is finally over. Barbecues, pool parties, outside-run season, vacations, and more are not far now. This particular season will bring all sorts of excitement; by the World Series, I'll be married, living in a new apartment, with my own classroom (hopefully).

Take me out to the ballgame...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Alone-Together Time

It seems to surprise people when they find out I'm an introvert. I often get a, "Nooooooo..." in response, as a matter of fact. People at work always say, "But you're so happy all the time!" As though they would know better than I do. And as though all introverts walk around in a cloudy, gray bubble of depression. But I think the real discrepancy comes in the fact that these people don't understand what being an introvert or an extrovert really means.

Shy people are often described as "introverted" and outgoing people as "extroverted." This is the definition I myself knew, until a couple of years ago in a graduate class when we took the Meyers-Briggs Personality Test. No matter your feelings on the accuracy of the test, it was helpful for me to understand the different characteristics listed, and examine the actions of myself and others within that perspective.

This professor of mine explained that introverts are energized by being alone and drained of energy by being around other people. Extroverts, on the other hand, is a person who is energized by being around other people. (I verified this information just now on about.com. That's right--find a more credible source. I dare you.)

This new information just clicked with me (actually, since we're on a psychology path here, I assimilated this information easily into my existing schemata). I had always wondered why, after a looooong, stressful week of school and work, I craved a night in with my Instant Netflix, but my roommate was ready to party.
The times that I did join in with the festivities left me feeling even more exhausted and counting down the minutes until 11pm, which I deemed the earliest point at which I could go home.

It also helped explain why, after a weekend trip with the family, I absolutely had to remove myself to my bedroom and spend an evening painting my nails and listening to music instead of watching a movie with my parents. (On this particular night, my dad actually barged into my room at about 10pm because he was "worried" about me--I think he thought my introversion was a suicidal sign. I assured him it was not.)

This isn't to say I don't enjoy myself around other people. I do, and I am outgoing and social--as long as I've already had that time to myself to recharge my batteries.

This revelation wasn't long after B and I had become serious, and I started to worry about what this meant for me in a relationship. How could I ever live with somebody? How could I ever have someone else around 24/7 and avoid snapping at them and being downright rude like I'd been to my parents when I lived in their house?


Although it took some time, those worries have finally abated. As I got to know B better, I realized that he, too, was an introvert. Although he's never taken the Meyers-Briggs test that I took, I've observed (and we've discussed) that he, too, energizes with alone time. What's even more fantastic, is that over the past four years, I've come to the point where time that is spent with B relaxing together at home, whether that's reading, watching Netflix, or playing a video game, can also be re-charging for me. I call it our "alone-together" time. I think that's one of the ways I really knew that B and I could make this commitment to be married. As an introvert, I'd finally found someone that I could energize with--or, at least, that didn't drain my energy source.
"Alone-together" time is still something we have to work at. Since I'm still living at my parents' house, our time in the evenings is limited, and we sometimes find ourselves feeling pressured to "do something" during those times--go out for a drink, watch a movie, have ice cream, etc. We've talked about how in order for two introverts to successfully live with one another, we'll have to practice our "alone-together" time even more--those times when we're both at home, but B is vegging out in front of the TV watching basketball while I'm catching up on my favorite blogs on my computer.


Lastly, I've been pondering this: Do couples work best if their introvert-introvert or extrovert-extrovert? How does an extrovert-introvert couple both maintain their sanity as well as their relationship? What do you think?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Snack Attack!

It's 8:45pm and I just had strawberry yogurt with a few chocolate chips stirred in. (Okay, a few more than a few.)

It's not a terrible snack choice. But after three fun-sized candy bars throughout the day (leftovers from our bridal shower over the weekend), I probably didn't need the extra chocolate.

Somehow, though, I just couldn't resist. It's a habit I've created over the past 23 years. It doesn't matter that I had a very filling, very nutritious dinner at 7:00. It doesn't matter that I'll be getting up to have a protein-packed breakfast in less than nine hours. The before-bed snack is one habit I just can't seem to break.

I do so well throughout the day--an hour long workout, pre-planned meals and snacks, loaded with fruits, veggies, protein, and whole grains. But when B and I settle in for the evening with an episode of Dexter on Netflix, all I can think about is my evening snack. And just the yogurt wouldn't do--the chocolate chips are a must.

Katie, you're not even hungry, I tell myself. That backfires, though, as I spend the next thirty to forty minutes convincing myself that I am, in fact, hungry. However, as my spoon scrapes the empty plastic of another defeated yogurt container, I think to myself, Dang it.

Do you have a vice? A habit you just can't seem to break? Any suggestions for how to calm the urge?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

You know the story of how we met.

And you know the story of our first date.

And you know the story of our proposal... oh, wait, I actually haven't told you that one yet, but no worries, it's coming.

But I haven't told you the in-between. And a lot happens between a first date and a proposal. Well, a lot happened for us between a first date and a proposal, anyway. If you're like my parents, who were engaged within six weeks, or some friends of ours, who were engaged within three months, maybe that part of your story isn't as long. But for us it was.

I'd like to tell you that everything was smooth-sailing between May 23, 2007 (our first date) and December 23, 2009 (our engagement), but that would be a lie. We didn't have any ground-breaking fights or do any of that back-and-forth "we're together, now we're not" stuff. But we did have our differences. If it weren't for the advice of my older cousin Jenny, who told me that "All guys have quirks," I'm not sure we'd still be together.


After the big Shrek the Third night, B didn't call for three days. On day one, I figured he was living by the old adage of waiting at least 24 hours. On day two, I started to get a little disappointed. By day three, I was convinced I was never going to hear from him again. And, actually, this continued for the rest of the summer. Each time I'd reach the point when I was sure he'd lost interest and moved on, my phone would ring. Why didn't I call him myself? You'll remember I was living by a new philosophy; I was trying to prove to B (and to myself) that I could be a GWTFEG (go-with-the-flow-easy-going) kind of gal. And in my mind, waiting for his call was part of that game.

Quirk #2 was a little problem that B seemed to have with time. It wasn't rare for him to say he'd "stop by after work," (which, to me, meant 5:30 or 6:00pm), then not show up until 8 or 9pm. Looking back, I'm honestly surprised I put up with that. Anyone who knows me is probably pretty surprised themselves. Maybe it was because of my GWTFEG strategy, maybe it was all the build-up of dating Blockbuster Boy, or maybe I was just allowing myself to be a doormat--but either way, I'm glad I stuck it out.


As we neared the fateful day in August, when I'd be moving back to Kirksville for another year of school, and he'd remain in KC, I knew we were going to have to have The Conversation. Somehow, we'd gone the whole summer without ever actually defining our relationship. Oh, believe me, I wanted to. I wanted to baaaaaad. But, GWTFEG girls don't worry about that sort of thing, so I pretended I wasn't worried either.

However, another wise woman I know helped me to realize that this wasn't really fair to myself. "You have a right to know," she said. "You have a right to lay down some ground rules and establish some guidelines. It's only fair, and it's only safe." 


It finally came down to three days before I was moving. Just as we were parting after an evening spent watching Dave Chappelle's stand-up comedy (B's choice, not mine), I decided I needed to brave the topic. It went something like this:


Me: "So, you know I'm leaving for Kirksville in three days."
B: "Yeah, I know. I'm really going to miss you."
Me: "So, what do you wanna do when I leave?"
B: "Well, I'll see you whenever you come home."
Me: "Okay."
B: "I really like you, I just don't want you to miss out on anything at school." (Sounds like a line from He's Just Not That Into You, right?)
Me: "Okay."


B left that night, and I went upstairs to get ready for bed, a little upset, but not really all that surprised. For some reason, this was my luck with guys. I never seemed to have a shortage of guys wanting to hang out, go on dates, etc., but when it came time to actually commit? Not interested.


I was brushing my teeth, wallowing in my despair at losing Blockbuster Boy, when my cell phone rang.


B: "Can I take it back?"
Me: "What?"
B: "Can I take it back?"
Me: "Okay."
B: "I don't know what I was thinking. I really like you."
Me: "I really like you, too."
B: "But if we're going to do this, we have to really do it. We both have to be in it 100%. I just don't want to mess around."
Me: "Me either."
B: "So, we're going to do this?"
Me: "Sounds like it."

At this point, we hung up the phone, and I tore down the stairs, toothbrush still in hand. "We're staying together!!!!" I shrieked as I felt into my parents' room.

After that phone call, it was honestly like a switch was flipped. B resolved both Quirk #1 and Quirk #2 without me even having to ask. It was like dating a whole new guy--Mr. Committed. (Not that he doesn't have quirks now. It's still true that all guys have quirks. It's all about whether or not those quirks are dealbreakers.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Two Cooks in the Kitchen

One thing B and I love to do is try a new recipe. When I was living in Kirksville and he'd drive up to visit for a weekend, we'd almost always try a new recipe. That's how we discovered one of our all time faves--a de-calorified version of Chicken Pot Pie from Hungry Girl (P.S. If you try this one, I use canned chicken to make it even easier). Hungry Girl is an old standby recipe source, but recently we've been turning to the Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet cookbook. My best friend gave it to me for Christmas, swearing that I'd love it, and she's right. So far, we've tried seven or eight of the recipes and they've all been a huge hit. The new Family Classics Collection is definitely on my wish list, as well.

We've had less opportunities to cook for ourselves recently, as I'm living with my parents (and if my mom's going to cook, we might as well eat her food!), and B stocks his fridge like any 26-year-old bachelor (the last time I opened his fridge he had beer, bagels, and barbecue sauce). But last Sunday night, my parents were eating with friends, and the weather was 75-degrees, so we treated ourselves to a new recipe enjoyed on the screened-in porch.


The meal was Roasted Vegetable Linguine with Torn Fresh Basil from Vegetarian Times magazine (no, neither of us are vegetarians, but we love lots of veggies, so I scope their website for recipes!). It calls for white wine, and since Rachel Ray says she would never cook with a wine she wouldn't drink, we enjoyed opening a bottle and sipping a glass while we roasted the veggies.






One thing that I've come to learn about myself is that I definitely have some difficulty surrendering control. But, B has convinced me that he is capable of helping me in the kitchen. And, although I like to give him a hard time about how long it takes him to do simple cooking tasks, I not only have learned to appreciate the help, but I really enjoy the time we spend cooking together. Plus, it meshes with my resolution of being GWTFEG.

See? I let him cut vegetables.

And what a fine job he did! Don't you just love the look of fresh vegetables? All those bright colors. What a great summery dish :-)
 I loved our Sunday night dinner. And it was the perfect way to spend an evening together before B's business trip.



Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Realm of Harry Potter Dorkitude

I mentioned that B and I had spent part of our Arts and Crafts Night working on our costumes for a Harry Potter-themed party we were attending in the near future. Well, the near future came and went last Friday night. The party was hosted by some good friends (and fellow blogger), one of whom decided to ring in her 26th year HP-style.

B and I are both long-time HP fans. Actually, the summer we started dating, I knew B really cared about me when he read the entire newly-released seventh book in one weekend. (I read it in one night... but it's not a competition...) Since then, we've seen every movie the day it came out, and have each re-read the books (and then dissected them together) multiple times. So, this HP party was right up our alley. And we were able to hold our own in a night of trivia games amongst other die-hard fans (even though Charades is not B's forte).

After much deliberation (B really wanted to go as Dobby), we chose to go as Gryffindor Quidditch players--Katie Bell and Oliver Wood, to be specific.


I designed a little sumpthin'-sumpthin' on Photoshop, and we printed two copies onto transfer paper:


Imagine this is rotated 90-degrees clockwise--long story short, my free Photoshop trial ran out and I'm waiting for my shipment of the real thing to get here before I can edit photos again.
Take note of the little "Quidditch League" emblem we included--they ended up on the sleeves like a jersey :-)

After two failed attempts on my part (1. forgetting to remove the backing from the iron-on, and basically ironing the design to a piece of paper, and 2. choosing to iron on a cutting board that we only thought was heat-resistant, and thereby fusing one T-shirt to a white plastic cutting board), we successfully created the following:








Quick, easy, and painless (well, except for the two fails mentioned above), and we had attire for our HP party. Not to mention that any party that allows me to attend in stretchy pants and tennis shoes is OK by me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Lonely Me, A Lonely You

This week feels like a throwback to my college years. Not because I'm staying up until 2am, sleeping 'til 10am, or spending the day in my sweatpants (I wish!), but because B and I are, once again, separated by a three-hour drive.

I've mentioned before that B and I did the long-distance thing from 2007-2010, while I went to school in Kirksville, MO and B resided at home in KC. I spent those three years dreading Sundays (when we'd go to our separate states) and living for Fridays (when we were finally reunited). Last night felt like one of the old Sundays. I made us dinner, we watched a couple episodes of Dexter... it was a nice night except for the omnipresence of dread for our goodbye.

I remember when I traveled abroad in Spain for an entire summer in 2008. 







(Oh, oops! Those just slipped right in there.)
 
B and I had been dating a year at this time, and although we both knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I couldn't pass up, the distance was horrible. I'd never missed somebody so badly that it physically hurt, but I remember moments when the feeling was almost unbearable. It was the little things I missed. One day, after a month or so of being abroad, I realized I hadn't been hugged since B dropped me off at the airport in KC. I don't think another person had intentionally touched me in all that time--and don't make this gross, I don't even just mean in a sexual way. There's something just sad about that.

It's just a four-day conference in Wichita, KS. But my evenings don't felt right without him. I'm just grateful he only travels once a year. I look at these young couples whose job require monthly travel (or even more often!) and I don't know how they do it. Without B around, I just don't feel right. He's my "other half". Heck, I even miss him when we're both at work for the day!

Looking forward to Thursday...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Quotes: Be Gone!

Scroll through my first twenty-ish posts so far, and you'll notice that I established a routine of heading each entry with a quote. Specifically, a quote about marriage, relationships, etc. (A quote about the theme of my blog! Go figure.) However, I've decided this tradition needs to be cut short.

I've been pretty disappointed with the overwhelmingly negative quotes I've been finding on the subject of marriage. Sarcasm, bitterness, and all around anti-matrimony prevail in any Google search for "quotes about marriage" or "marriage quotes". Some of the most common search returns?

"I love being married. It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life." ~ Rita Rudner

"Divorce: The past tense of marriage." ~ Author unknown

"Valentine's Day is when a lot of married men are reminded what a poor shot Cupid really is." ~ Author unknown

"Three rings of marriage are the engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering." ~ Author unknown

"Bigamy is having one husband or wife too many. Monogamy is the same." ~ Oscar Wilde

"Marriage means commitment. Of course, so does insanity." ~ Author unknown

"I never knew what real happiness was until I got married. And by then it was too late." ~ Max Kauffman

"Wedding rings: the world's smallest handcuffs." ~ Author unknown

Okay, don't think I have no sense of humor. But reading these every day while scrolling through looking for a quote applicable to my most recent blog entry was beginning to be quite a downer for a bride-to-be less than three months away from her wedding. I know that there might be some truth to some of the statements. And I know that a marriage needs some humor in it to succeed. But I'm just not sure these "jokes" are what I want my marriage based on. (I found it ironic that so many of these negative thoughts were from unknown authors--maybe somebody would be a little embarrassed if their spouse found out what they were saying behind their back?!)

Here are some of the few I found that I hope someday do describe my marriage:

"What a happy and holy fashion it is that those who love one another should rest on the same pillow." ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Newlyweds become oldyweds, and oldyweds are the reasons that families work."

"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person." ~ Mignon McLaughlin

"In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage." ~ Robert Anderson

"There is no such cozy combination as man and wife." ~ Menander

"In the opinion of the world, marriage ends all, as it does in comedy. The truth is precisely the opposite: it begins all." ~ Anne Sophie Swetchine

"In a time when nothing is more certain than change, the commitment of two people to one another has become difficult and rare. Yet, by its scarcity, the beauty and value of this exchange have only been enhanced." ~ Robert Sexton

"There is no substitute for the comfort supplied by the utterly taken-for-granted relationship." ~ Iris Murdoch


And, lastly, one of my favorite bloggers sums it up well in this letter to her boyfriend (You should really take a second to read the whole letter. It's adorable.): 

"In today’s society people choose a spouse and a have a lawn guy (or a physical trainer or a pool boy) on the side. But you see, I want my cake and wanna eat it too. Sure you are my legal spouse. But people don’t understand that you are also my boytoy. You are the guy that I chose almost one year ago. And you are the guy that I will choose tomorrow. But let’s be honest, we live in a society that says husbands are not the same as being one’s boyfriend."
~ Katie Bower
 
I don't plan to have a stereotypical marriage where I complain because he doesn't do anything and he feels secretly bitter towards me. I'm sure that nobody goes into a marriage expecting a relationship such as that (or maybe they do?), but from the looks of what society feels is a funny--or even an okay--portrayal of marriage, we have accepted marriage as a constant state of bitterness. Sitcoms, movies, books, magazines--single and free is fun and exciting. Marriage? Blech. Leave it for the bitter old people who are sneaking around behind their spouses backs getting it on with the neighbor's out-of-town guests.

When B and I decided that we wanted to be together for the rest of our lives, we agreed to enter into a partnership. We agreed to support each other through thick and thin, and to me, that means something.

I was relieved to see a quote in my browsing from the philosopher whom B reads, quotes, and values endlessly:

"Marriage: that I call the will of two to create the one who is more than those who created it." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche 

So, to sum up my incessant ramblings, I will no longer be subscribing to the format I originally created. I will be supporting a positive viewpoint of marriage; one that reinforces the vows I'll be pledging in 84 days. And, although you might see a quote pop up here and there, I'll be retiring my Quote Garden bookmark from my Firefox toolbar.








Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cookies, and Centerpieces, and Banners, Oh My!

When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.
~ G. B. Shaw
(Is it bad that all the quotes I find on marriage are extremely cynical? That is, if they're not incredibly corny.)

With less than three months to go, we're officially neck deep in wedding projects (hence Arts and Crafts Night earlier this week). I've spent the last year and three months or so with DIY wedding projects flying around in my head. I even have a "Wedding" tab on my bookmarks toolbar with various inspirations, and spent countless hours pondering: do I like these favor boxes, these favor cookies, these favor cookies, these centerpieces, or these centerpieces? (You can see that I spent an awful lot of time on marthastewartweddings.com. I even started referring to her as my friend, Martha.)


Although I didn't end up replicating any of those models exactly (Martha doesn't seem as concerned about budget as those of us in the real wedding-planning world), I did use some of my friend Martha's ideas.


For example, from this banner, I'm creating these banners (they're a work in progress--see ribbon order details below!):





I have yet to add the ribbon, but it's coming--actually, more than 175 yds. of ribbon are currently in transit to our doorstep. Mom found some awesome bulk-ordering websites this week, and for less than $40 we scored all the ribbon we need for the entire wedding.

Instead of cutting or punching out each of the circles individually (like Martha suggests), I paid a visit to our neighborhood Paper Source (my latest obsession!) where they sell pre-cut circles and circular labels in coordinating colors. I was able to download a template from their website, then easily print the labels right on my home printer. Honestly, I usually avoid anything printed at home with a template--but these were so easy! I just wish I had found Paper Source earlier in the wedding planning stages...


And, from this centerpiece and this one, we created our reception centerpieces, replacing the lemons/limes with oranges:





The actual ribbon for these pieces are expected in the tremendous ribbon shipment later this week. Also, the drooping flowers are not in the plan--we were playing with these arrangements so much that these daisies were a few days old.


In order to cut costs, we've decided to order our own reception flowers from Sam's. Even though our florist is incredibly reasonably-priced and easy-to-work-with, flower arrangements just plain add up. So, we're going the DIY route on this one. Hopefully we won't regret it the day before the wedding when we're slicing bushels of oranges and defrosting packaged Gerbera daisies.


We had planned to go DIY in one other area of the big day--our favors. We decided awhile ago to give decorated sugar cookies to our guests at the reception. And, at the time, my mom, future-MIL and I had fond images of time spent happily baking the afternoon away. But now, with a to-do list a mile long, we're all about delegating. After some price shopping and time-managing, we decided to send this project out to the pros. We were referred to Shari at Smart Cookies Bakery, who was able to offer us a fantastic price for 260 heart-shaped, pink-glazed sugar cookies. And, the icing on the cake cookie was that she individually wraps each cookie, complete with ribbon in our colors. (This ribbon is separate from the 175 yd. shipment.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Our Big Night Out

"I think we are a product of all our experiences."
~ Sanford I. Weill
 
(And I think relationships are a product of all our shared experiences.) 


One thing B and I have always been really good about is treating ourselves to a night out. (Not that it's really that big of a sacrifice!) Our most recent Big Night Out was to see Rascal Flatts this past Sunday night at the Sprint Center in KC (where ungodly ticket prices prevail). B gifted me the tickets for graduation back in December. We'd been to see the Flatts once before, and even though country music is definitely more my thing than B's, we both had really enjoyed the show.

So, we donned our concert apparel, and headed downtown.

B sporting his new blazer and me in my ever-so-fashionable tuxedo vest

We had planned on eating at McFadden's (their club sandwich on wheatberry bread is one of my faves), but it turned out to be crazy-busy for a Sunday night. Plus, they don't have a waiting list; you're just expected to hover around people eating their food, ready to pounce on whatever seat becomes available. Not really our style on a Big Night Out.

So, we headed off to Gordon Biersch instead, where we shared a scrumptious Hawaiian pizza.


When we made our way over to the Sprint Center, we stopped to pose with the lighted Flatts displays before venturing inside.


Besides just wanting to share fun pictures of our Big Night Out, I'm writing this post because I think it's so important to take time as a couple and do something that feels like a real treat. There are so many things that I value about our relationship, and this is one of them. I love that B and I often spend money on "experiential" gifts. (No, not experimental gifts.) A gift of an evening spent dressed up and out on the town creates a shared experience--a memory that we can look back to in the future.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Arts and Crafts Night

"The other kids did drugs; I did crafts. I never knew where I fit in."
~ Kathie Lee Gifford

(Okay, I was really reaching for a quote there. Give me a break!) 

According to an advertising poster up in the window of JoAnn's, March is National Crafts Month. B and I decided to celebrate by holding our first crafts night of the almost-wedding season. Tonight, we tackled three projects:

1. Tags for our Welcome Bags


2. A paper flower wreath


3. Shirts for a Harry Potter-themed party we're attending this weekend... You'll have to wait for pictures of these. I don't want to spoil the Big Reveal at the party. Just be excited.


We got the idea for welcome bags when we attended a family wedding in Minnesota a couple summers ago. When we checked into our hotel room, there was a bag on the dresser with bottles of water, salty snacks, chocolate, and a little note from the bride and groom. We loved the personal touch, and knew we wanted to do the same for our guests.


As of know, B's mom has pink and orange gift bags ready to be filled with snacks and sweets. I'll include a note, as well as maps to areas of interest in KC. Then, the staff member at the front desk will hand the bags out as our guests check into their rooms. These tags will adorn the outside.


B hard at work gluing the white cardstock to the colored cardstock




B did all the stamp and glue work, while I did most of the cutting and trimming. If we find ourselves invested in paper-crafting in the near future, we may have to spring for a paper cutter. My hand is pretty steady with the scissors, but you can definitely tell these babies were handcut! I kinda like it though--makes it more personal for our guests that way :-)
 
The rubber stamp is one we purchased at Michaels. I've also seen it at a couple of other craft stores. We love it, and used it on our Save-the-Date envelopes, as well.


The paper flower wreath was made from a simple kit I found at Paper Source today. (Bah! I could buy out their whole store, I love it so!) I have to be honest--I am not a huge fan of crafty projects. 



But this one was easy and quick--and the end result is definitely satisfying.


I'm picturing it hung on the front door of our new apartment. It'll be a cheerful greeting to whoever comes to our door.

So, that was crafts night. Well, minus the shirts that you're going to have to wait for :-)




To-Do List--Check!

Alright, we did it! Phew! Wedding stress over.

Haha. I wish.

But we did get the to-do list made, and I'm feeling good about that. Seeing the list on paper as opposed to a running marquee through my head makes it all feel a lot more manageable.



View the running to-do list (and see me (hopefully) rapidly crossing things off!) under the "To-Do List" tab at the top of the page.



Saturday, March 12, 2011

To-Do or Not To-Do, That is the Question

"The more you invest in a marriage, the more valuable it becomes."
~ Amy Grant

(The only trouble with this quote is that I don't think she was talking about the actual cost of a wedding...)

I've come to the conclusion that no one really knows how to plan a wedding. Okay, maybe professional wedding planners have a clue. But, for those of us normal people who can't afford to pay an extra ten grand on top of the ridiculous sums required for a traditional wedding hullabaloo, it's pretty much all guesswork.


I started out really on top of things. I opened an account on theknot.com, made a detailed budget, collected names and addresses for the guest list, etc. But, as the time quickly approaches (three months from yesterday!), and I've crossed all the big things off my list, I find myself suddenly at a stand still. I know there are things to do. But what are they? And when should I do them? Is it too early to buy the unity candle? to make the ringbearer pillow? to choose the reception menu? to weave the ribbon through the flower girl basket? When should I buy the candy for our favor bags? When should we order the flowers we're doing ourselves? Do I need to contact the florist just to check in? 

I'm finding that this time--this not-to-close, not-to-far time--is the most stressful yet. By the time I become an expert at this wedding planning stuff, the day will have come and gone, and I'll never have a chance to use these acquired skills. Well, not for a loooooong time until my own daughter gets married, that is. And heck, by that time, she'll probably want to get married in a floating hover-church and my knowledge of weddings will be 100% obsolete.


So, this afternoon, I'm sitting down with my mom to create a master To-Do list. I'll share with you when I'm done...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shrek the Third

"If you think there are no new frontiers, watch a boy ring the front doorbell on his first date."
- Olin Miller

I left you hanging. Did it work? Was it suspenseful?

Do you have any idea what I'm talking about?

A few weeks ago, I wrote an absolute heart-stopping cliffhanger. Remember now?

a REAL cliffhanger!


Okay, maybe I'm giving myself a little too much credit. But I did promise you the story of my first date with B, and I'm here to deliver.

We left off with B asking me out at the Blockbuster cash register. It was a couple of days later, but I still remember the moment when he called me. I'd had quite the day--my car had broken down on the side of the road, and I had spent the better part of a half-hour pushing with all my might while dressed in white capris with 4-in. wedge sandals. But by this point in my day, my car had been towed, and I was actually pouncing around on my parents' bed, making hissing and growling noises trying to rile up the cat. I'm certain my face turned beet red when I answered the phone and Blockbuster Boy was on the other end. I was sure that, through phone osmosis, he knew the activity he had interrupted, would quickly make an excuse about having the wrong number, and I would never heard from him again. 

Luckily, though, I managed to hold up my end up a decent (but brief) conversation, during which he asked me to a movie a few days later. When he asked where he should pick me up, I resisted the urge of telling him I knew exactly where he lived (whoa, stalker...), therefore knew where he'd be coming from (plus, little did I know that his family had actually moved just two weeks prior!). Again, I kept my cool and refrained from shrieking with excitement until I had safely flipped shut my phone.


The next few days flew by in a haze. I daydreamed (daydreamt?) about what we'd talk about, what I'd wear, what he'd wear, what kind of car he'd drive (I'm not going to lie--an old Ford Focus with moldy seats and a missing gas cap never popped into my mind). My dad, chiming in with his opinion, said, "Gosh, I hope this guy doesn't turn out to be a dud!" He and mom had, of course, witnessed the entire Blockbuster Boy journey. I think they were as invested as I was.

But, amid all the girly thoughts and hopeful ideas, I had to admit that I kept things in perspective.


I think the downfall of my previous relationships (besides the fact that I was 18, naive, inexperienced, unfocused, etc.) was that I always went in with high expectations. Okay, not just high expectations, like, astronomical expectations. I wanted labels, I wanted commitments, I wanted follow-through. Basically, I wanted perfection. I made a conscious decision before my first day with B that this time, I was going to play a role. I was going to take on the character of a go-with-the-flow, easy-going sort of gal. I say "take on the character" because, if you know me, you know that is not me. I am a plan-it-out worrier. Now, I know what you're thinking. People always say you should "be yourself" on a date. And I was myself. I wasn't trying to put up a front, I was adjusting my own perspective on the situation.

My new dating philosophy influenced a lot of decisions (more about that later). But first, it steered my choice in an outfit. After much deliberation, I decided to go against my usual short skirt/tank top first date uniform. Instead, I opted for my favorite jeans and a simple fitted pink T-shirt. I accessorized with a pair of fun earrings, but I left it pretty plain. My goal was, again, GWTFEG (go-with-the-flow-easy-going).


Taking the risk of sounding overly-cheesy, I can clearly picture the moment when B picked me up that evening. I was watching for him out the garage door, and as I walked out, he got out of his car and stood by the driver's door (sort of in a "should I go greet her? stay here? open her door?" kind of way). He was wearing khaki shorts and a button-up short-sleeved plaid shirt. I could tell he had taken the time to put gel in his hair (something that I know now he saves for special occasions). 

I don't remember much about what we talked about that evening, although I do remember B whipping out his cell phone to show me pictures of his basset hound (which now does not surprise me in the least). I couldn't tell you the plot of the movie (Shrek the Third)--not because we were doing anything inappropriate, but because my mind was occupied with that awkward sharing-the-armrest position, when you know you're about to hold hands, but both people are too shy to make the first move. By the end of the movie, though, we'd bridged that gap. 

He didn't kiss me that night, but I laid in bed that night with my head in the clouds. I had just been on a date with Blockbuster Boy. And, although I stuck with my GWTFEG philosophy, I knew. Really. I just knew.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sticking with the Plan

"Unfortunately, everything the experts tell us about diet is aimed at the whole population, and we are not all the same."
~ The Scientist magazine
 
I thought I'd give you a quick update on my new fitness plan. Since my original blog post, I've met with my trainer twice more, and attended two more small group training sessions. Although I can definitely see an impact on my bank account, I've decided that trading two random clothing purchases for two personal training sessions is probably a pretty good swap--and definitely a healthier one.


I always thought that if I hired a personal trainer just once, then I could use the workout they created, well... forever. But, besides getting just plain bored, I would now insist that variation and progression is the key. Every time I do a workout, I try to tweak one thing--at least one thing--to make it a little more difficult. Maybe squeak out an extra push-up on every set, or increase the weight on a machine by five pounds. Or maybe I do an extra minute or five of cardio. This is all well and good, but it gets to a point where you're cranking out 5,000 reps of each exercise and running for 3 hours. And, personally, I like to change it up before getting to that point. That's exactly why I'm continuing to work with my trainer. Every two weeks, I get a brand new workout to try--and, again, one created for me, with my goals (wedding arms and Hawaii abs) in mind.

I've also tracked my food in my own food journal fairly regularly. If you're not a fan of calorie counting and tedious number crunching, I challenge you to just keep a food journal. It can be as simple as jotting down what you eat each day on a Post-It note. Or, you could keep it in a Word document. Or, heck, create a private blog and record your feasting. Somehow, just writing it down holds me enough accountable that when I spy a plate of Oreos in the teachers' lounge, I can pass it up.


Another thing that's helped me a lot is to set a goal each week (P.S., I don't think you should ever make your goal weight loss related, i.e. "Lose 2 pounds." Our bodies do crazy things when it comes to weight. You don't want a little water weight or salt retention to kill your motivation. Your goal should be something you control, not a little electronic box). Two weeks ago, my goal was to plan ahead. I actually went through my food journal and wrote in my "splurges" for the week ahead of time. Then, I could keep in mind when a certain event, occasion, or trip to Orange Leaf was coming up, and it would help me keep focus. Last week, my goal was to get my eight servings of fruits and veggies in each day. Alongside my journaling, I just numbered each serving to keep track. Plain and simple.


This week, my goal is back to plan ahead. That's one I have trouble with. I'm always happy to splurge, so if I work them out ahead of time, I have an easier time turning down other tempting goodies.


So far, I'm loving this easy-going plan. The scale is showing good news (I've lost about four pounds since the beginning of the year) and I've shrunk by a few inches (about 1.5 from my waist and hips at last measurement).


I'm not going to lie to you. I do have weight goal in mind for the wedding day. But, even more so, I want to feel like I'm at my best. So, if I'm not quite down to my secret number, I know that by continuing to be health-conscious and do what I know is right for my body, I'll feel strong, sexy, and confident as we start our married life.