Sorry!!!

Let’s be honest – I suck. I have been so insanely busy! After the holidays, life exploded. I have less than 3 months until my wedding now and things are in high gear! I think about you guys a lot and there have been things that I wanted to say, not limited to (but including):

  • A recent health scare
  • Cupcakegate 2012
  • Wedding accessories
  • Jeans of a certain size
  • DIY Madness

I promise that sometime, though I can’t attest to when, I will tell you about all those wonderful, insane tales. Until then, please accept this apology in the form of a picture of kitties getting married.

“I may now pronounce you Man and Cat.”

Thanks for reading! – A

 

 

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February 9, 2012. Tags: , . 2012. Leave a comment.

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.

Six? Seis? Sechs? Sei?

I am getting married in six months. According to Real Simple Weddings, here’s what I should be doing:

  1. Select and purchase invitations. Hire a calligrapher, if desired. Addressing cards is time-consuming, so you need to budget accordingly.
  2. Start planning a honeymoon. Make sure that your passports are up-to-date, and schedule doctors’ appointments for any shots you may need.
  3. Shop for bridesmaids’ dresses. Allow at least six months for the dresses to be ordered and sized.
  4. Meet with the officiant. Map out the ceremony and confirm that you have all the official documents for the wedding (these vary by county and religion).
  5. Send save-the-date cards. 
  6. Reserve structural and electrical necessities. Book portable toilets for outdoor events, extra chairs if you need them, lighting components, and so on.
  7. Book a florist. Florists can serve multiple clients on one day, which is why you can wait a little longer to engage one. Plus, at this point, you’ll be firm on what your wedding palette will be.
  8. Arrange transportation. Consider limos, minibuses, trolleys, and town cars. (But know that low-to-the-ground limos can make entries and exists dicey if you’re wearing a fitted gown.)
  9. Start composing a day-of timeline. Draw up a schedule of the event and slot in each component (the cake-cutting, the first dance).

I’m pretty tight on 1,3,6,7, & 8. # 4, meeting with the officiant, will probably happen in January after the hooplah of the holidays is over. Besides, now that band is almost done I will finally be able to peel myself out of bed on Sundays to attend church and I’d like to get that going again before I waltz in like a deadbeat and tell him how to marry us. #5, the Save the Dates, are in process. I, being a perfectionist, sent myself a test one just this morning. As soon as it arrives, unscathed, I think I’ll be shipping them off to my guests. #9, the day-of-timeline, has been on my mind for months. I have been thinking about the logistics of carefully orchestrating the moments of my big day. I still have nothing on paper, so I guess I should hit that up.

But the big whammy, #2, the honeymoon, is breaking my heart. We had such grand dreams. We thought it was possible. I’m pretty sure it is not. 😦 I want so much for our big day and the more I think about it, I would rather spend my money on that moment instead of a vacation. Plus, M is busting his buns to pitch in and I don’t want to over-tax him. I think we’ll probably end up finding a last-minute 4-night tropical thing a few weeks after the wedding, and will maybe plan a big trip for our 6 month or 1 year anniversary. But I’m not going to lie, there’s a little bit of sting knowing that I won’t be jetting off immediately following my ceremony to lands afar. But then again, who can do that anymore if they’re paying for their wedding themselves?

Either way, I am happy that I only have 6 months left. Yes, it’s stressful, but I’m ready for it to happen. I’m ready for my planning to end and just let the chips fall where they may. A constant worrier, I know I will be in knots up until the moment I walk down the aisle, but I’m still psyched for its end. Correction: I’m excited for our real life to begin. In the interim, if you know of any cheap last-minute travel sites or you’re willing to lend us your awesome cabana/timeshare/ grandma’s house in a cool location, hook a sister up! We’re not picky, we just require wifi and a big tub. 🙂

Thanks for reading! – A

November 7, 2011. Tags: , , , , . 2011. Leave a comment.

The Chicken Challenge

Lately, I’m feeling a bit pissy about my food habits. Yeah, I said pissy, so what? It’s true. I have been a mess since my schedule has really kicked my buns. Snacking after dinner is an issue for me. I’m also finding on Saturdays when I have REALLY long days teaching that I am making bad food choices. I’m selecting foods that just aren’t right for me, and I’m also subject to the constraints not being able to cook or refrigerate my choices at school. Enter Wawa.

Wawa is this glorious chain we have on the east coast that makes the most incredible food that you will ever get at a gas station. Yes, I said gas station. They have the best sandwiches, soups, and salads. And although they have some healthier options, temptation is hard core in that place. I may get a healthy sandwich and apple, then I find myself putting baked chips or starburst next to it on the counter. Sure, treating yourself now and again is good. But it should be just that – a now and again thing. Like Tom and Donna from Parks and Recreation, they take the time to say “Treat yo self!” once a year. 

Ok, so back to it. I have noticed a slow in my weight loss and have been hovering in the same 5 pound range for about a month. I am only 25 pounds away from my “dream” weight and although I’m not SO stuck on numbers, it would be a nice milestone to reach, especially for my wedding. So I have decided the only option is to focus in on what I can control. Right now I still have about two weeks left of band which means a few more bad Saturdays. I have resigned myself to the fact that these are circumstantial and will come to an end when band ends. 

That leaves after dinner snacking. I think perhaps I don’t eat well enough at dinner and then allow myself to go nuts later. But I am also a busy chick and don’t really feel like cooking a Norman Rockwell-worthy dinner by the time I walk in the door. I did, however, recall a sorority sister I will call B. She is a mother to a very rambunctious 2-year-old boy, a nurse, and a wife. Pretty much a superwoman, right? What’s more, she’s just recently relocated, because moving is so easy, and I’m pretty convinced her husband, a doctor, works nutso hours. Yet she is always posting awesome recipes and comments on Facebook about her food for the week. Turns out, she cooks big once a week or so and eats well the entire week. I asked her for a few sites that she frequents and she recommended Smitten Kitchen and The Pioneer Woman. The recipes looked great and inspired me to see if I could take it a step further. I started perusing my local store ads and I found roasting chickens on sale for 99 cents a pound, and so the Chicken Challenge was born!

So here are the rules:

  1. I will cook 4-5 pounds of chicken each Sunday. We will have a dinner of roasted chicken on Sundays only.
  2.  I will make the leftover chicken into 5 meals, one for each week night, in the categories of soup, sandwich, salad, pasta and general meal.
  3. I will prepare as many of the components as reasonable to the week night recipes on Sunday.
  4. No genre of food will be repeated back to back, so I will not make tacos one night and then mexican lasagna the next night.
  5. All week night meals will require 15 minutes or less prep time and 45 minutes or less heating/cooking time.

For our purposes, I ended up purchasing chicken breasts since we’re not big dark meat fans in my house. Not only that, but they were also on sale for 99 cents a pound, so we made out like bandits! I also bought a bunch of other stuff that I thought I would need based on the recipes I dug up and wanted to try. I spent about $130 at the store late last night with creepy late-night cashier guy – I was shopping at 11 PM because I didn’t want to miss such a good price on the chicken that expired at midnight. Anyway, the meal plan I put together in Excel calls for Sunday dinners of roasted chicken and then 5 weeknight meals for 4 weeks, or 24 meals total. I assume will probably pick up another $20 or so in extra stuff I forgot, but that comes out to $6.25 a meal, where there will undoubtedly be leftovers for lunch the next day. So as it turns out the Chicken Challenge will most likely be cost-effective as well as healthy.

This will all begin on Sunday, so we’ll have an entire month of chicken. I’m looking forward to putting the final touches on the plan and seeing how it goes. M is just happy that I’m happy, and though I’m sure he would prefer it to be red meat, I think he will survive. And who knows, if this goes well we could change this to ground turkey next month. Wish us luck!

Thanks for reading! – A

November 4, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . 2011. 3 comments.

I Feel Naked!

In preparation for our engagement photos I decided it was time to get the ole’ ring spiffed up. It’s been too big since I received it, which is funny since the fiancée was smart enough to get it sized a bit smaller when he bought it knowing that I would lose weight. Even still, the day he presented it to me it was a little loose, and has since gotten much looser. We’re talking a full two sizes smaller. So, with much sadness I went to the jeweler to have it sized along with our wedding bands. As you can see by the rockin’ tan line I’ve got going, I only take the ring off to sleep and wash myself or my hands.

I am having major withdrawal. Therefore, I am wearing a placebo ring so that I don’t have a mini-coronary each time I touch my thumb to my ring finger and realize that a ring isn’t there before I remember where it’s at. But it’s not the same. 😦

I can’t wait to get my baby back! Thursday can’t come quick enough.

Thanks for reading. – A

September 19, 2011. Tags: , . 2011. 1 comment.

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