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.

My Christmas Gift to You!

Merry Christmas. As an early gift, I’ve decided to share my recent obsession with you as a “thank you” for reading. Please dial 719-266-2837 for more details. Don’t worry, it’s not porn or anything. Just awesome. 🙂

Thanks for reading! – A

December 21, 2011. 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.

Unexpected Happiness

I have 3 drafts of posts that I’ve started and gotten distracted from in the past two weeks because life is complicated. I apologize that it’s been so long! But something happened yesterday that I must share with you.

I have been stressed beyond belief, feeling the pinch of how far I’ve extended myself. Four jobs, 200ish linear feet of beading (yes, I’m beading my own veil. I am a masochist.), eating salad while trying to avoid chocolate, and sleeping far less than I should finally took its toll. My face had literally exploded with stress-related acne. So when I finally had enough, I booked a salicylic acid chemical peel.

As I laid there yesterday and the aesthetician began to put the solution on my face I thought, “This isn’t too bad, it barely tingles.” Then about .07 seconds later, the burning began and lasted for 4 minutes. After all was said and done I would –  and plan on having another acne peel again. My skin looks fricken amazing this morning and I’m told it will only be better in the coming few days.

I decided that I needed a reward so I splurged with the new salted caramel mocha frapuccino from Starbucks. Got mine with non-fat milk, and requested to not have whipped cream but it came with it anyway and since there was a huge line I decided it wasn’t a big deal and didn’t mention the oversight. It was worth the calories! So skin care and slushy coffee turned to shopping, where I found great outfits for our upcoming engagement shoot. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that though it was tight on the girls, I fit into an 8 in this cute coat at H&M. Wahoo!

When I came home, I was happy that I had finally taken some “me” time, and I was just generally more relaxed. I felt like I could actually breathe a sigh of relief and that gave me a second wind, so I completed two smaller but lingering wedding projects. As I settled down for the night, satisfied that I’d finally put some things to rest, I saw an email from an old college friend. She said this:

I can’t believe its been 10 yrs since freshman year… pretty crazy. Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I’ve been reading your blog and have just been amazed with what you’ve accomplished. You are honestly and truly an amazing person and are so strong to make a lifestyle change like this and share it with everyone.

Since college, I’ve put on close to 60 lbs, both because of poor food choices and some deep stuff. For some time now, I’ve been trying to convince myself to drop the weight, but have just recently realized that it’s really all about changing the way I live. I wanted to thank you because I feel that your blog has helped me come to this realization and has also inspired me to make a change to be a better, healthier me. So congrats and thanks for sharing your continuing story! And good luck with all of the wedding prep… how exciting! 

I was so touched by what she said. I’ve gotten bunches of emails from people who have had the surgery or are planning a wedding and can understand where I’m coming from. And maybe I’ve been writing to them a lot of the time. But mainly I’ve just been writing for myself as some sort of catharsis, sort of like my facial/frap/retail therapy session yesterday. I genuinely had no idea that other people who aren’t really in my boat are getting something from this.

So this is for you, the reader who isn’t dealing with a surgical intervention or stressing themselves out over one day. I’m really glad that you can  find inspiration in my babblings. I’m also really psyched to see that, though we aren’t always the best at it, we can find happiness and motivation in unanticipated places. I didn’t think a facial could turn around the funk that I’ve been in for the past 3 weeks, but apparently a controlled chemical burn just gets my juices flowing – masochist, like I said. 🙂

Anyway, I hope you can keep pressing forward and making strides. Your kind words and thoughts have added to a momentum of good mojo that I’m collecting, so I’m doing my best to put it back out to the universe and I hope it finds you again. You deserve it.

Thanks for reading. – A

September 15, 2011. Tags: , , , . 2011. Leave a comment.

Just a Little Housekeeping

Hi everyone! I know you’re interested in knowing what happened with Overeaters Anonymous, and I promise I’ll put something up soon regarding that experience. Also, some of you may know that I went to a florist at the suggestion of my mother-in-law. There’s definitely a post in that too, so keep your eyes peeled. 🙂

But I just wanted to say, I’ve noticed a pretty good spike in my stats which means that you are reading this far more often than I imagined you would! I’m really psyched (pardon the 90’s term) that you’re enjoying what I’m putting out there. Though I would love to write more often, it appears that life won’t let me – but I’m really excited that you’re sticking through my crazy schedule with me. It means a lot to know that clicking on MY link is something that you enjoy. 🙂

That being said, you can feel free to subscribe to my blog via email by entering your address in the navigation bar on the right hand side. You’ll receive email notifications whenever I post. 🙂

Thanks again for reading, and I promise – flowers and fatty updates are coming soon! – A

April 13, 2011. Tags: . 2011. Leave a comment.

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