November & December Catch Up!

Can you believe it’s been MONTHS since I’ve posted a real post? I’m talking meat & potatoes, not just some cute link or something? I have been a busy gal and time has flown by! I apologize for neglecting you, but I promise that this project has been in my mind. So, let’s catch up, shall we?

November

Chicken Challenge Shepherds Pie. SOOO yummy!

So remember when I began my Chicken Challenge? It was a month of planned meals that would happen based on cooking big on one day, then minimal prep throughout the week. Well, I made it two weeks. It was not the brightest idea to get excited about something like this during a month where eating is a national holiday. However, it was an awesome experience for the two weeks I did it, and I had many more leftovers than I planned. I think perhaps doing something like this every other week would be more suitable for our lifestyle, given that we go to dinner with friends and when we do follow the cooking plan, we are more apt to have leftovers because I eat like a fricken’ bird. Oh, and I also need to incorporate supplemental proteins. I love chicken, but it gets to be too much. After my surgery, I ate so much of it that I reached a point where, like a baby eating something it didn’t like, I found myself unconsciously spitting it out when it was in a mouthful of Lean Cuisine pasta or something. It was like an unintentional aversion. The addition of other meats will probably help the chicken go down a little easier.

We’re kind of a big deal….

So speaking of poultry, let’s talk Thanksgiving. I had it planned to the T, and it was great. The night before, we began the drive to Grandmother’s house, knowing that we’d stop near Allentown for a gig with my new band, Fake MacKenzie. I was actually really excited to start playing with a new Irish group, and what’s great is that we actually get booked (read: paid) often. We have 5 gigs lined up for St. Pat’s weekend, so come check us out. 🙂 Anyway, the traffic was nuts, the gig was awesome, and I got the Gram’s at 2:30 in the morning. The next day I was up and cooking, and it didn’t stop until we ate. But it was wonderful. I got to spend time with my niece and nephews, and even took her and my young cousin to see The Muppet Movie with M. It was amazing!

My cousin, niece and M at the movies

December

Me, in the big box our sofa was delivered in.

As soon as we got home from Thanksgiving, it was right into Christmas mode. First up was planning our annual Ugly Sweater Party! This year, there was a lot of sprucing up of the house because I’m just in super nesty mode, so we bought some new furniture. As you can see, the couch box was pretty huge. The party went off without a hitch, and we had a lot of fun. There were insane amounts of food, but it wasn’t too hard to keep things in check because we had a nice balance of healthy and totally bad-for-you food.

Most people eat cookies at Christmas. My nephew prefers his hand.

Christmas was spent with my family. It was great to see the babies again, because they are adorable. My youngest nephew, Keimani, is just about 6 months old, and he is changing every day. He’s a little flirt, and I love him to bits! M is still a little apprehensive to hold him, but we’ll get there soon. I cooked a lot over Christmas, but we had lasagna on Christmas Eve which is not a tradition, just something my grandmother always threatens after the big hoopla of Thanksgiving. This year, it actually came to fruition and it was really great. We had a lot of time to prepare, so I had extra time to build a gingerbread house with my sister and niece. On Christmas day we had Jewish Christmas with M, who was raised Jewish, and we went to a Chinese buffet for lunch. I got great presents, I gave stuff that people loved, and it was a wonderful occasion.

Rudolph noses with my girls 🙂

New Years was spent with a few friends at a bar in Old City. No drinks for this girl, since a charming perk of having this surgery is that alcohol is absorbed like 20 times faster than before. So basically in the course of sips I am way tipsy, but then because it took so little to get me there I sober up super fast. All this equates to not being worth trying to get drunk. But I’m always a reliable DD, so that works out. 🙂 We rang in the new year, and now it’s the year that we’re getting married! I can’t wait, and neither can M, as illustrated below:

"I'm marrying you this year, so that makes you MINE!" ❤

So now we are 4 months away from the wedding. FOUR MONTHS! How does that happen so quickly? We are putting together the invitations this weekend since my MOH will be in town. They have been a true labor of love, but I’ve also ended up with an invitation that looks like it costs much more than it really did, thanks to imagination, and a lot of man hours in MS Word. We are still battling out what to do with our wedding cupcakes, as the first vendor we considered thought 8 weeks was a reasonable time frame to wait on getting a quote to us. Our second vendor is still a little lax on the response time, but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt since it was the holidays.

Past that, we are now entering crunch time to get everything settled, so my stress is amped. So to alleviate that stress, I’m trying to put some new year’s resolutions in place. Here they are, in no particular order.

  1. This year, I will run a 5k. I know I’ve said this before, but I regularly (read: pre-Fall) run 5 miles or so at a clip, so 3 shouldn’t be a problem. But I need to just sign up for one and do it. I’d really like to get this knocked off the list before the wedding, because I feel like the accomplishment would be a nice self esteem boost.
  2. I want to wear a size 8. I am currently a 10 that is getting a little loose. I can, most likely, wear some things in an 8 that would look just fine, but I’m talking size 8 boot cut jeans from the Gap. This is my goal, and should I begin working at #1, I believe this will be attainable.
  3. I will stop drinking soda at home. I am trying to phase soda out all together. I drink diet, so it’s non-caloric, but I just think it’s not good to have. Also, I’ve read studies that say the chemicals in diet drinks may be counterproductive to weight loss, so I’d like to nix it all together. By not allowing myself to drink it at home, I think I will hopefully wean myself from a 30-year habit.
  4. I will pay off my credit cards. This is a big one. I have been working pretty steadily toward paying off the balance I have on two of my cards. When I was unemployed in 2010, I relied on the cards a little more than I should have and I have been chipping away at that debt since. I’m pretty sure this will be paid of soon anyway, but I would love to have this done before the wedding.
  5. I will take care of myself more. I don’t make a lot of time for myself for stupid stuff, like painting my nails. I get a pedi like every other month, and that’s about it. And it’s not about the expense of having someone else do it, it’s just the time commitment of going and the upkeep. But I’ve decided, I will make time to do a face mask, or paint my nails, or do a hair conditioning treatment or teeth whitening – basically, non-essentials that I keep putting off. I will do these things not only for the outcome of having done them, but to just spend a little time with myself and to allow me to shut my mind off from work, wedding and stress, and just enjoy where I am.

    My attempt at festive nails for NYE. It's like champagne and fireworks had a baby.

I’ve thought a lot about where I am right now. I try not to mention it a lot, but the relationship I had before M was one that I wanted to go somewhere. When I realized it wouldn’t end where I’d wanted it to go I had to leave. In retrospect ending that relationship was sad, not so much because of the loss of the guy, but more because of the loss of the life I was so close to having: the house, the cars, the friends. Things vanished when it ended, and I just missed that life because it was one that I’d always wanted. But just the other day, I came home and sat on my new couch. I stared at my wood floors that we’ll refinish together after the wedding. I looked at the end table I’d rehabbed from Craigslist. And as my kitties jumped up next to me to snuggle, I realized that I had that life, the one that I mourned. The difference was that this time, it was all 100% real, complete with a man who wants the same things that I do. It was a really humbling experience to realize that, though the road didn’t look like I thought it might, it still got me to my destination.

We're getting married this year!

I’m really happy for everything that 2011 brought me. I got a new job. I planned an amazing wedding. I made a home with M. And now, in 2012, we will begin our life together. I couldn’t be more blessed, and I can’t wait to continue to share the blessings, both obvious and in disguise, with you this year.

Happy New Year! – A

January 3, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , . 2011. Leave a comment.

Incredibly Engaging – How I Saved on Engagement Photos

It may come as no shock to anyone who has read at least one post on this blog that I am a busy girl. It may also not be absurd to say that this is because I am working several jobs to pay for my wedding. Why, you may ask, would someone run themselves ragged for one day? Because it’s supposed to be the best day of your life! That being said, I am also a bargain hunter and have often considered the financial repercussions of what I’m doing. Some things I consider “must-haves” while others are “nice-to-haves”.  Admittedly, the line between the two is noticably blurry anymore.

Anyway, one of our original “must-haves” of save the date cards that included photos of us was running into the “nice-to-have” category when I realized that our amazing wedding photographer charged so much for engagement photography. The services for the big day are mainly covered by Mama M’s generosity, but the remainder, including engagement pics, are on us. When I sat down to look at the dollars and cents, I really started to assign value to these photos. Yes, it would be amazing to have these pictures but are they necessary?

Though they weren’t necessary, I had done a lot of hoop jumping to try to get prepared for them, particularly with my braces coming off. I had appointments scheduled back to back in an attempt to get my chompers ready for their close up. I felt committed, but I really couldn’t mentally justify the big expense on something unnecessary when I still hadn’t paid for my gown alterations. So what’s a gal to do?

Que Craigslist. I posted the following ad:

Build Your Photography Portfolio –
Free Dinner/Modest Honorarium Barter (Philadelphia)

We are looking to help you build your artistic portfolio and serve as models for a fun engagement photo shoot. Our idea is that we’ll shoot at two locations. One is a beautiful old stone church with rolling grounds and beautiful landscaping that will serve as a great backdrop to capture that wonderful Fall afternoon lighting. The other is a classic chrome diner where the waitresses are 100 years old and the milkshakes come in tall glasses with whipped cream and a cherry. We’re looking for an artistic eye that can see the beauty in something as simple as a piece of pie with ice cream melting on top.

We are moderately attractive people who photograph fairly well and we think our ideas can certainly serve as promo material for your budding photography business. We’d like a DVD of the raw digital images in an agreed upon format. In exchange, we’re willing to offer you the finest in diner cuisine after the shoot and also a small honorarium that we can negotiate. Obviously we understand that you are not working for peanuts, but you have to understand that we are also on a crazy strict budget. But don’t worry, we’ll let you get pie. 🙂 Also, we have a wedding blog in the Philadelphia area that we would mention you on/ post a few example pics, so it wouldn’t be too shabby of a plug. Our florist has actually booked 3 clients from the kind words we’ve said about her! 

Would you believe this ad in the “Creative Gigs” section got me 20+ emails from photographers? It was like Christmas! I emailed them and asked for sample photos and info about themselves. Ultimately, we settled on a really talented and ambitious duo from Benjamin Lackey Multimedia.   Please feel free to check out their growing portfolio, or ‘like’ them on Facebook. As college students at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia these guys are building a business from the ground up. They were SO great to work with, super personable, and they have also helped us out in getting what we’re looking for in terms of affordable video coverage for the big day. I can’t say enough about Ben and his partner Mike, but they REALLY saved the day. Our shoot with them was so comfortable and honestly as close to ideal as possible. We were all on the same page and the pictures came out wonderfully, don’t you think? Huge thanks to them for their help!

 

 

So please feel free to utilize Benjamin Lackey Multimedia. Good guys, affordable prices, and fantastic results. They may not always work for pie, but they are worth the $, I promise. 🙂 And if worse comes to worst and you can’t afford engagement photography, feel free to use my idea and see what photographers you can round-up in your area. By the way, I ordered my post cards from Vistaprint for free, so the savings just keep coming! Keep an eye out for those deals and you can save a ton on your save the dates too.

Thanks for reading! – A

November 2, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . 2011. 1 comment.

525,600 Minutes

The clock started ticking at midnight: I am officially getting married in one year. Ok, we’ll call it a year and a day, since next year has a little leap in it. I’m starting to feel the pressure, even as I type this, because I feel that now the heat is on. Yes, it can be done in much less time. But I have a full-time job, a few side jobs, and way too many cute DIY ideas to pass up.

Here’s what I’m asking of you: every now and then, just put some good thoughts out into the universe so that I don’t snap. 🙂

Thanks for reading! – A

May 6, 2011. Tags: , , , . 2011. Leave a comment.

Planning an Interfaith Wedding: The Ceremony

Crafting. I’ve been super busy with it lately, but I’ve stepped it up even more because I’m thinking about getting a part-time job to help finance this shindig and am worried that I won’t have enough time to add all those thoughtful touches if I don’t knock them out while I have the time. That being said, I’ve been doing a lot of pre-crafting so that when the time comes for some of this stuff that is time sensitive (like programs and place cards) a lot of the heavy-lifting (read: tedious details) will have been done.

Today I set off on tentatively designing a program since work has calmed down a little and I remembered that I have some super cute custom (and free!) monograms and crests from WeddingChicks.com. As I’m pulling this together, I get to the page where I have to list the order of the proceedings and it made me stop. I get down the aisle, but then what? What do we say? What do we do? Typically there are vows and I do’s. There’s a kiss. But isn’t M Jewish? What about the wine, and don’t they break a glass at some point?

I began furiously googling the specifics of the Jewish wedding. I was raised Christian, and we are getting married in our Unitarian Universalist church, so there’s 3 religions right there. Can we fit them all in? And what do we WANT to fit in? I knew that although we plan to continue attending the UU church and that we plan to raise our kids there, we want them to know the major principals of both the religions we were raised with. I know that I want my kids to respect the tradition and heritage or religion, especially when it comes to M’s Judaism. It became a little clearer that we wanted to include many of the Jewish wedding traditions so that our children would know that we upheld specific traditions by choice because they were what meant most to us. Now for the messy part – figuring out HOW to include this stuff.

I took to facebook and asked my friends what they thought on some of my ideas, particularly reordering a few things so that M would NOT see me before the walk down the aisle, something that typically doesn’t happen in Christian weddings but does in Jewish ones. Their general consensus was this: do what you want. Nobody thinks that we’ll be stepping on toes or dishonoring the traditions. M even commented that he thought his mother would be pleased that I am so open to including so much Jewish ceremony.

Once I accepted the fact that God (or my future mother-in-law) wasn’t going to strike me down for switching some things up, the program went much smoother. I still need to put in some notes to explain some of the traditions to guests, but things are looking up. Now if I can only find a place that will sell me a gross of yarmulkes for under $40. Oh wait..here we go. And no, our kitties will not be decked out in yarmulkes!

Thanks for reading! – A

March 30, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . 2011. Leave a comment.

Overwhelmed, Exhausted and Overdue: Mid-March Catch-Up

I know these posts have become less frequent, and for that I am sorry. My goal is to post 3-4 times a week, and I’ve been falling short. I’m going to try to keep up with the demand, but thanks for hanging in there with me. So what’s been keeping me from my blogging duties and all you lovely folks? Everything!

I am finding that work is super busy lately so I’ve been coming home, doing a few chores and then passing out. (Thanks, daylight savings!) I’ve reached a point in my weight loss where it’s a little slow, dare I say plateau?, so I’m trying to step it up at the gym. Also, now that we are just about 13 months from the wedding, the grace period is over.

It’s starting to feel real, where I really need to put pen to paper and make some decisions on all the silly ideas and thoughts about details that I’ve been casual about up to this point. As decisions have been made, projects have piling onto my plate so M suggested I make a project list for all the DIY wedding stuff we are doing. Since I’m an Excel junkie, I threw it in there. 34 rows later, I felt overwhelmed because I knew there were things I totally forgot about.  What’s more, it seemed like 15 of the rows have to wait until the month before the wedding. Result? Some robot in my head screaming “Danger, Will Robinson, danger!”.

So what’s a girl to do? I have been crafting like whoa right now to hopefully free some time and offset some stress later. Right now, I’ve been making custom treat bags. I’ll post the step by step DIY in a few days, but it’s been fun. I’m also on the hunt for good containers (read: pretty but inexpensive) for our candy buffet, but my taste far exceeds our purse strings. The result? I am going to attempt this tutorial on making your own pedestal glass containers using some glue and glass from the Dollar Store. Best case scenario? Great glassware. Worst? I wasted $2.

In the end, I’m excited that we are getting closer even though we need to kick it into gear. I will work my fingers to the bone to make this wedding awesome! Let’s just hope I have some band-aids handy. 🙂

Thanks for reading! – A

March 20, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . 2011. 1 comment.

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