4 Lessons I’ve Learned in 4 Years of Marriage

It’s hard for me to believe that 4 years ago today I walked down the aisle in my church to marry my best friend: a man who I met so very randomly on a free dating website due to him just happening to search what kind of women might be in the Chicagoland area because maybe someday he plans to go to grad school there (spoiler alert: he didn’t).

Under no logical circumstances should mister and I have Found each other, and I’m sure if it wasn’t for the internet, this Chicago gal and Florida boy would have never crossed paths, but God clearly had another plan. When I received a message from him in my OKCupid inbox, I decide to write back simply because he took the time to write a legitimate message and show he read my profile rather than just sending a “wanna hook up?” message, which I got far too many of. Little did I know that writing back would be the beginning of my relationship with the man I would marry. It’s crazy how things like that work out, isn’t it?

Even though we’ve only known each other since summer of 2011, it feels like no time and a lifetime all at once. I can barely comprehend life before him and I can’t imagine what life would be without my husband by my side. I guess that’s a sign that things are going pretty well, huh?

In these 4 years of marriage, through crazy adventures, moves, job changes, and challenges there are a few things I’ve learned about marriage and the relationship I have with my husband. Read more

7 Tips for a Wonderful Wedding Experience from a Newlywed

 

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  If you already haven’t figured it out by magazine articles and Facebook status updates, it’s wedding season!  As a newlywed who had, in my opinion, the absolutely perfect wedding day (I’m not even exaggerating, it was amazing), I thought I’d offer my two cents on some wedding advice, not just for the wedding day, but in general.  Do with this what you will.  Some of it might sound like common sense, some of it you might think is just not for you.  Whatever your thoughts, it was tips like this that made my wedding planning experience and my big day pretty low stress and very enjoyable.

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1. Don’t be a totally crazy “everything has to be PERFECT” bridezilla!  Seriously ladies.. I think my sisters thought I’d really be a bit more of a bridezilla than I was, but I am proud to say that apparently I was a rather easy bride to please.  My situation was a tad unique with my wedding being in Illinois and my being in North Carolina, so I was not there to monitor every move, but I learned that it was okay.  Between my team of my sister and mom running the physical errands for me, and my coming home once or twice to do things like our tasting, it was pretty easy to let the little details go.  For example, I had a friend of the family design our centerpieces, gave her a few ideas and let her run wild.  She’s the pro.  When my mom went to pick a color for the chair sashes, I told her just pick the purple that was closest to the centerpieces.  It took her a whole two seconds to clearly see which swatch that was, and the choosing was done. Our wedding coordinator at the Hyatt was beyond stunned.  She said some people will take weeks to decide which color and fabric to choose for the chairs.  I said that was ridiculous and what does it matter as long as it matches right?  Same went for the flowers.  I told the woman my ideas and the color scheme, but since she was the professional florist I knew she’d know best.  Guess what?  Everything in the wedding and the reception was beautiful and I didn’t have to micromanage any of it!  AND the easier I was to work with the more people were willing to work with me and gave Erik and I an outstanding experience.  It’s amazing what a little kindness and calm will do for people.  Just relax and let go, ladies.  Your wedding day will be beautiful.

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2.  Let your photographer get all up in your business on your wedding day.  Seriously, allow your photographers to get up close and personal.  I had my (male) photographer in the room and inches from my body while I was getting my corset undergarments and wedding dress on.  He definitely saw me in very little clothing, but I got some beautiful shots out of those moments.  I had two photographers and two videographers there the entire day( one of each followed Erik and I around separately until we were at the church), and the memories I have on film because of it are amazing.  Granted, I happened to know my photographer personally (not well, but I at least knew him), but still.  You eventually learn to just ignore the fact they’re there all the time and just start living in the moment.  Let them capture everything.  You want these moments to last a lifetime.  I still get all romantic and happy feeling whenever I look at those photos.

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3. Eat food!  I’m being dead serious.  Eat before you put the dress on (it doesn’t have to be much…I had a muffin, fruit and a skinny latte) and make sure you get the chance to eat at your reception.  Erik said from the beginning of our engagement that he didn’t care if it was rude or whatever, he would tell guests that he and his wife would be taking time to eat.  Turns out we didn’t have to.  Right after we got in (and danced, and had toasts, etc) we started heading to the tables to greet guests until the soup came out.  The wait staff was amazing nd kept an eye on us and would serve us when we sat back down.  Amazing soup: check!  Off to talk to a few more tables before salad.  We got to enjoy every course of our meal in a relaxed manner and we still managed to hit every table before the cake cutting.

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4.  Have someone pack up food for you to take to your wedding suite.  This is also really important.  Your day is  go go go from the minute you wake up and by the time the night is over and you and your new hubby are headed up to your room for the night you will realize you’re hungry and exhausted.  We had someone pack up fruit from our dessert table (although we really should have had the desserts packed up!) and we took it to the room with us so we had something to eat.  Some of our friends (who we allowed to have the privileged information as to where our wedding night room was) went up before us and set up our gifts, lit candles, and laid out granola bars for us too so we had something else to munch on.  No matter what other plans you have for your wedding night, make sure having a snack is on the to do list. 5. Accept that something WILL go wrong.  It’s inevitable.  This was a piece of advice I got from my good friend Katie, and it was.  I can’t tell you what it will be, but something will go wrong.  We kind of built our something in to the ceremony by asking Erik’s nephew to be the ring bearer.  At the time of the wedding he was a week or so shy of turning 2.  We knew this was risky, and we didn’t care.  What was the worst thing that could happen?  People get a good laugh (which they did) and he needs a little help.  We also had a small sound issue, but whatever.  Just relax and know that there are people to help solve any issue that comes your way on wedding day.  When you expect something to go wrong right from the start, it’s not a huge stressor when it actually does.

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6. Enjoy the day! Remember, a wedding is a celebration and a party.  Don’t sit and worry about what comes next or if things will go as smoothly as you planned them in your head.  Enjoy the moment and party just like your guests are doing.  I didn’t just enjoy my wedding day because it was my wedding; I actually had an amazing time!  It was seriously one of the most fun parties I’ve ever been to.  We were surrounded by our closest family and friends and we had a blast.  I didn’t think I’d dance much, but it turns out I danced the entire night (except for a few minute break to sit and eat our cake).  I remember when my mom, Erik and I went and picked up our guest book Thursday afternoon (we were married on Saturday) I looked at her and was like: “That was the LAST thing!  I don’t have to think about the wedding anymore!”  Because I took that approach and on the day of the wedding I decided to just go with the flow and let the whirlwind roar around me rather than be caught up in it, it was the best day.  Relax and celebrate.  You just made a life changing decision, successfully went through all the crazy planning and made it to your day and you still got up there and said “I do.”  I say that deserves a celebration!  Enjoy the fun.  If you have fun, odds are your guests will have more fun too.

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(One of my favorite pictures that my sister took.  Right after the ceremony we went back to the bridal hangout area and Erik and I were so wrapped up in each other since we hadn’t seen each other all day that, at least for a moment, nothing else mattered.  We just needed to be together.  Kristina caught that:-) )

7. It’s not about the wedding, it’s about your love.  Remember, the wedding is only one day.  People get so overwhelmed and stressed over having the perfect wedding (and I’m not saying it shouldn’t be an amazing day), but remember, it is one day out of the rest of your days.  It’s the first day of you uniting with the person you love and starting your own family unit whether you plan on having kids, a dog, or remaining just the two of you, the wedding is about committing yourself to your love as you vow to protect and care for him through thick and thin and putting your trust, faith and your whole heart into one another.  Its okay to try and get all the details worked out for your ideal and perfect wedding day, but in the midst of all the wedding planning don’t forget to do some marriage planning too.  So what if your wedding day has a blip or two?  Make sure your heart’s true focus is on the bigger picture: not the wedding, but the marriage.

 

 

Photos were all done by Marcin Tomaszczyk and his amazing crew.

Happy 2014!!

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Hello friends-

 

This is just a quick note to wish you all a very Happy New Year!  I’ve been MIA for a few weeks, but I have a good reason: Erik and I get married in 3 days.  3 DAYS!!  We’re currently getting covered in snow in Illinois spending time with my family and getting final things done before the big day.  We have our marriage license ready to go and the to do list is almost complete.  This is such an exciting time.  Unfortunately, all of the running around, celebrating, planning and spending time with family (we were in Florida last week to be with Erik’s family) means that Diva and the Divine had to take a backseat.  Once we’re back from our little one day mini-moon things will start to run smoothly again.

One thing that will be happening is a whole series on New Year’s Resolutions.  I love the new year, as it’s always a chance to start over, set goals and get re-motivated to accomplish things.  I plan on talking about my goals and resolutions as well as some of the books and tools I plan on using to accomplish them.  I have high hopes for 2014.  I’ll be starting the year as a newlywed with a whole new chapter of my life unfolding and ready to be written, and I can’t wait to share my journey with all of you.

 

Until then, I hope all of you had a very happy and blessed holiday season full of love and joy.  Get ready to be excited about all that 2014 has to offer each one of us.

 

Love, the soon to be Mrs. E!  🙂

Happy Birthday to Me: A thought on being 27

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If you asked me a year ago (my 26th birthday) where I’d be on my 27th birthday, my answer would probably not be where I actually ended up.  Last year I was living in my grandfather’s house, so while I was technically living alone, I was not on my own.  I look back on the last year..well really on the last 6 months, and can’t believe what a whirlwind it has been.  Out of nowhere my best friend put a ring on my finger and whisked me away from Illinois to actually be on my own (well, on our own, as I’m only out here because of him), I found a voice teaching job and am now less than two months away from marrying the love of my life.  At this time last year did I think I’d end up here by now?  Not at all.

Erik and I were regularly talking about rings and someday getting engaged, but he had this “rule” about how we needed to live in the same state before we got engaged, just to make sure we worked as well no-distance as we did long distance.  As irritated as I was by this (as I didn’t see any way I was getting to where he was anytime in the future), I understood, and after much emotional fighting with myself, I decided to let go and let God choose the timing of things.  Man, do things get easier when you decide to do that.  Somehow, that rule got changed, my surprise proposal happened and the tornado happened, and now I’m definitely over the rainbow (yeah, I went there.  People who know me understand my Oz obsession).

I’m regularly blown away by how I got here: the dramatic and romantic way it happened, how it feels like we’ve always been together like this, and how baffled I am every time Erik and I tell our story to new people when we’re at socials and parties.  The way people regularly respond (shock, amazement, etc) reminds me of how awesomely blessed I am for having this relationship work the way it has.  Thank God for all of his blessings.

This is my first birthday away from my family (unless you count college, which was an hour away, so it doesn’t count in my mind), and it’s kind of weird knowing I’m not doing anything.  Not that we have done anything that spectacular the past few years (two years ago, right before we started dating, Erik was actually in town to see me and took me out for my birthday), but I’m still getting used to the whole not being around for normal life things that I’ve been around for the last 26 years.  Christmas will be even weirder. I’ve done the exact same thing every single year, and this year I’ll be in Florida with Erik’s family.  I’ll be able to wear a sundress if I want to.. that’s mind blowing.

I haven’t made a big deal about my birthday for awhile now.  I don’t really think it’s necessary.  I love getting a few nice presents and having an occasion to get the family to get together and go out, but I don’t need anything spectacular.  Even for my 21st birthday my friends and I went out to a bar, those of us that could drink had a drink, and I went back to the dorm to do homework.

Every year I do think about how big of a deal birthdays used to be, with themed parties and cakes and a wish list full of toys that get played with for a month or so before becoming another forgotten thing in the playroom. I vaguely remember these huge birthday parties.  I remember various Disney princess themed cakes (Belle and Ariel) and a Power Rangers birthday party (yeah, I was that girl), a spa sleepover party when I was 13, and after that I don’t recall what exactly was done for my birthdays.  One year in high school I had two friends spend the night and we watched movies.  I can’t even recall if I did anything for my 18th birthday.  Is that sad?

Instead, I use my birthday as an excuse to treat myself a little.  I’m expecting my Erin Condren Life Planner by the end of the week, and that was my big gift this year (thanks to my aunt), because I wanted it.  A planner!  Man that makes me feel old.  Tonight’s big exciting birthday plans: curl up on the couch with my wonderful fiancé and make him sit through “The Proposal” starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Renolds.  One of my all time favorite feel good chick flicks.  Maybe we will even go out to dinner so I don’t have to cook..and you know what? That is enough.

The Lord has blessed me in SO many ways throughout my life, that merely getting to another birthday some days feels like a miracle in and of itself.  The fact that I am here, less than two months away from marrying my best friend, living life the way it has turned out is the icing on top of a pretty epic birthday cake.  I’ve always felt so far behind on things, and now I feel like I’m finally catching up.

I can’t wait to see what blessings the next year will bring.  Whatever they happen to be, I know they will be amazing with Erik by my side and our new life together ahead. God is good.

To those of you who have taken the time to read this and/or to wish me a happy birthday, thank you.  It is because of the friends and family I have that I am the woman I am today.

 

Be happy, my friends.

Bridal Shower: Countdown to “I Do!”- 2 Months

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Only two months to go until the big day!  TWO MONTHS!  That’s insane.

Today, rather than talk about what is done or what is left to do, I thought I’d talk a little bit about the bridal shower that was thrown for me (well, US, but Erik was only able to attend via Skype for a bit of it).

A special shout out to those who hosted this awesome party: My Aunt Norene (mom’s sister), my Aunt Julie (dad’s sister-in-law) and Eileen (Aunt Norene’s best friend for as long as I can remember, and basically my non-blood related aunt).  Shout out to my sisters for their help as well (and everyone else, as I know many were involved).

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The shower was held at Trinity, which was appropriate since that place is my second home anyway.  I walked in to Fellowship Hall covered in purple (and the prettiest lighting setup on the stage).  There were tons of tiny details that didn’t go unnoticed.  White gift sachems filled with purple M&Ms, customized napkins, personalized pencils, and more.  Everything fit together perfectly.  Both of my aunts even wore purple.

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(from left to right: Deanna (my youngest sister (21), Me!, Kristina (my MOH and other sister (24), and Kristin (Erik’s sister and my almost sister-in-law (21))   )

Kristina crowned me with a “Bride to Be” rhinestone tiara and the pink BRIDE sash (originally meant just for the bachelorette party) before the guests arrived.  During this time we were also trying to get Eileen’s nifty hot spot internet contraption to give my laptop internet so we could get Erik in on the party, but the cement hole we were in was making it impossible.

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There was a nice spread of lunchtime foods, including sandwiches, a veggie tray, and various pasta salads and jello creations.  Delightful!

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Kristina and Deanna worked hard the day before to make and decorate these lovely sugar cookies for the dessert tables.

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The dessert options were wonderful!  First, there was a beautiful cake from the bakery we have gotten special cakes from my entire life, Jarosch’s, which is to be expected at a Voss family function. If it wasn’t for our cake coming with the reception package, odds are the wedding cake would be from there as well.  Then the cute cookies that my sisters slaved over the oven for were available, and on a separate table was a chocolate fountain!  You could tell the people that planned this have known me my entire life.  The array of sweet treats was just incredible, delicious, and SO not on plan.  As you might have guessed, I wasn’t to worried about counting Points Plus last weekend 😉

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(Marilyn (Grandpa’s Girlfriend) and Aunt Julie (in purple)

While eating was happening there were a few games being played.  A Mad-lib was going around entitled “Write Brianna’s Wedding Vows.”  While none of them were read at the shower, Tina (aka Kristina, but I’m the only one “allowed” (read: tolerated because I won’t change) to call her that) made sure I had the papers for those and the “Give Brianna Marriage Advice” activities so Erik and I could read them when I got home.  The mad libs were definitely good for more than a few laughs. 🙂

Another game that was played was “How Well Do You Know the Bride?”  Everyone got a form with questions like:

  • When is the bride’s birthday?
  • Favorite Food?
  • Eye Color?
  • Actress?
  • When is the wedding? (which everyone should have gotten by looking at their napkin or pencil)
  • etc

I also had to answer those questions, and I’m such an indecisive person that even I couldn’t come up with a single answer for some of them.  When it came time to reveal my answers, I made the guests tell me their guesses first, and my friend Megan sacrificed herself to read her answers aloud to get the ball rolling.  It was a good time and a lot of laughs.  Then we had Erik on his mom’s phone via Skype (iPhone 5S win) and I had to play “How well do you know the groom?” with him watching.  He submitted answers to Kristina earlier in the week.  Again, a fun thing, especially when the answers matched up, or caused me to give amusing answers while searching for the right one.

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Then it was time to conquer the mound of presents that people so generously brought.  All 3 sisters were on duty making sure everything kept flowing.  Dee was making my ribbon bouquet, Kristin was swapping out the gifts I’d opened for ones I hadn’t, and Kristina was recording who gave what and was around for hand strength purposes when I couldn’t get things opened.  We got the ball rolling with the gift from my parents and sisters: boxes with a bunch of littler things individually wrapped and taped into oblivion, just to make it really difficult for me to open.  My family likes to torture me like that.  Erik was watching (we had the iPhone propped up on the table) and said he felt so bad he wasn’t there to help me.  Present unwrapping struggles and other silly struggles like that are the stories of my life.  Everyone in the room knew why and was amused :-p

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Erik and I got some wonderful things that has helped upgrade our kitchen a bit (and new towels for the bathroom, but we are waiting until we shower in the same bathroom to use them).  I even got a few sexy nighttime things from my Aunt Norene and Eileen that were opened in front of the crowd. Every gift is SO appreciated and has been helping us turn our apartment randomly merged belongings into our home that contains OUR belongings.  Your generosity has not gone unnoticed and we are so thankful to everyone who attended and for the wonderful gifts we were given.  It’s been fun being able to get rid of some of the old and make room for the new this past week.

The absolute best part about this shower was not the presents, or the food or the chocolate fountain; the BEST part was seeing many of the most important people in my life there.

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(me and my parents)

I felt so loved by everyone who attended, and it makes me feel so special and that this time in Erik’s and my life together is blessed and loved.

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(Me and my hostesses: Aunt Julie (left), Aunt Norene (middle) and Eileen (right))

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(Members of Trinity who were there, some family by blood, some family by friendship)

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My best friends from college reunited (Megan, Laura (bridesmaid), Me, Allie, Betsy, and Dana (my AXO Little sis)

Having my girls from college back together was one of the best parts.  I miss having those girls just a room, a hall or a dorm away.  This reunion was very much needed, and between the shower and the bachelorette party, I got a lot of girl time in.  These girls are amazing.

100_5692This guy has been my best friend since age 5 and he’s still around for the most important days of my life to come.

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law to be were able to fly up from Florida to be there, and of course both of my parents and my grandfather were there too.  Seeing family and friends was such a blessing, especially now that I live so far away from them.

It was a beautiful shower, and the only thing that would have made it better would have been if Erik could have physically been there with me.  Thank you everyone who was involved in this most special day!

The Friday 5: October 25, 2013

Good morning, friends.  It’s currently 6:00 am and I’m settled into a seat at the RDU United terminal.  Why??

 

Illinois, Here I Come!

I’m headed back to the lovely Northwest suburbs of Chicago to see family, friends, and my puppies (this is a big deal.  I miss them SO much) because it is my bridal shower/bachelorette party weekend!  A few gifts have already been sent to our apartment, so that’s just kind of geared me up with an “OMG this whole thing is ACTUALLY HAPPENING” mentality.  You would think that after 4 months of being around Erik on a daily basis, my mind would click that this wedding thing is actually happening, but when it’s all talking and I don’t see anything that makes it real, it’s hard to believe.  At home there are things for the wedding tables, and other odds and ends that I haven’t seen yet.  After this weekend we are just about at 2 months to go, and it will definitely feel more real.

 

What’s the Plan?

A 7 am flight, which should start boarding momentarily (type fast, Bri, type fast!), followed by a reunion with my dogs!!  If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m kind of missing the love of my puppies.  I was a good girl and made an eye doctor appointment for today, and this evening I head over to the salon that my sister’s best friend works at, and she is my beauty-fyer for the wedding day.  Today I get a trial run of hair and makeup.  Ah, a glimpse of how I’ll look on my wedding day!

Tomorrow is the big day.  Meeting with my aunt’s friend, Eileen (who is basically family), who is designing our centerpieces, our florist is visiting the church, then Bridal Shower time!  I have no idea what to expect at either party happening tomorrow, which is kind of fun and a bit scary.  Tomorrow night is my bachelorette party!  My almost mother and sister in-law are flying in this evening. I’m so glad they can come and be a part of this time with me.  Sadly, Erik won’t be joining me on this journey due to school conflicts, but we are going to try and Skype him in.

Sunday I fly home, but not until I go to church (yes, the morning after my bachelorette party) and sing in choir.  That completes the feeling of home 🙂

 

CHSMA

That’s the abbreviation for the music school I teach at.  Last night I taught my first studio class; a rhythm lesson and masterclass.  My rhythm section used the Cup song made famous by the movie Pitch Perfect.  Expect the video to be on youtube soon, as our admin recorded several parts of my class.  I also have 22 students now.  22!!!  I am so blessed to be able to earn money by passing my love of singing on to kids.

 

This week was also my last week at Kohls 🙂 🙂

 

Wicked Week!

This next week is what I call “Wicked Week,” as the 30th lands in this week.  On that day my favorite musical will celebrate 10 years since the day it opened on Broadway.  It is still performing strong every single night.  I knew that show was something special.

 

Popular Song

And now, a video from a pop singer who is enough of a Wicked fan to put a piece of it in his song.  LOVE this.  Can you tell where it is?

Sorry this post feels rushed.  I board in 3 minutes, and wanted to get this up before I’m bombarded by the 4 fuzzy dogs waiting for me in IL.   Have an AMAZING weekend.  I know I will.

Don’t worry, you’ll hear all about it 😉

 

Friday 5: 2 Part Edition

Because I ended up having to be up at 6:30 and off to work some Weight Watchers meetings last Friday morning, I completely forgot to do a Friday 5 post, so this week is the special Friday 10 edition to make up for it.

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Wedding Rings

Erik picked out a wedding ring! After repeatedly telling him he doesn’t have an option when it comes to wearing one (business man who wants to be traveling every week?  Come on..I’m no dummy..) We went back to a high end jeweler we visited once before and after a lot of back and forth, trying different rings on, he narrowed it down to two.  It took me taking one away and saying “what if I told you this was your ring?” to discover that the one I hid was really the one he wanted.  The smile on his face gave away that he was actually excited by the idea of having a ring, and as the bride-to-be, it’s nice to see the occasional bit of excitement show through, even when he’s not putting forth the effort to show it.  It’s those moments that mean the most.

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Rekindling a LUSH-ious Love

My face has been terribly unkind to me lately, so being on my last nerve I decided to make the 30 minute drive to a different mall that contained one of my favorite beauty stores, LUSH, to get my skin some TLC.  I haven’t gone in quite some time because it is a tad pricy, but after making two trips (in one week…I get bored on my days off sometimes) I quickly remembered that it was worth the money, and have found myself falling back in love with a brand that I had ignored for almost a year.  The fresh face masks work wonders on the skin, and my Fresh Pharmacy face soap is trying to rescue my face from disaster.  I picked up a good haul from there, but I will be writing about the products later.  I’m just glad that I rediscovered this cult favorite.  Thank goodness my birthday is coming..

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The Perks of Being A Wallflower

I am a Bath and Body Works addict, and have been since age 11 or so.  I have a strong loyalty to this brand, always have, always will.  That being said, I really disliked their wall flowers for the longest time.  I just felt like they didn’t work. Well, something this time around inspired me to get a fall themed one (Halloween wasn’t out yet) and a few scents I knew I loved just to add a little something to my bedroom.  10 minutes after plugging this baby in my room smelled like their Leaves fragrance like you wouldn’t believe (or maybe you would, if you’re smart unlike me and have been using the wall flowers).  I don’t know why I haven’t been using these, but I promise you this: I will become a collector of seasonal wall flowers to use year round.  These are WONDERFUL.  I’m sorry that I ever doubted you, Bath and Body Works.  It won’t happen again.

Two Week’s Notice

I gave my two week’s notice to Kohls on Tuesday!  It has gotten to the point that going to work for them 4 or 8 hours a week has turned into one of the less productive things i could be doing with my time.  With my studio and Weight Watchers picking up I have really lost the ability to take time to enjoy things like working out, cooking healthy things and blogging.  They have all turned into a chore because of this lack of time, and when the things you do for fun start to not be fun, something has to go.  I’m willing to take the rather tiny hit to my bank account (which won’t be a hit at all if work picks up like it has been) to increase the quality of my day.  Happiness is more important. Bye Bye retail, God willing, forever!

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Saturday at a Dairy Farm

Last Saturday the MBA program had a nice evening planned for the students and their families at a dairy farm about 25 minutes away.  We got to go on a hayride around the farm, where the tour guide stopped along the way and told us about how things work.  They have about 350 cows on the farm, each of which eats 100lbs of food a day!  Craziness.  We even got to see a cow who was expected to have her baby by morning and all of the little newborns.  Major cow cuteness.  Pictured above is a ring of pregnant cows.  The mamas must feel the need to support each other.

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Real Southern Pig Picking BBQ

Guess what else was at this farm??  A real Southern style BBQ, complete with the whole pig on the grill.  I must admit, this is some of the most delicious meat I have ever eaten.  Down South I guess the thing is a vinegar based sauce that gets injected right in.  This meant was tender, juicy, and unlike any BBQ I’ve ever had before. Take a look at that plate: The pig picked pulled pork, mac n cheese, a sweet potato casserole that was decadently delicious, green bean and 3 bean salads and southern potato salad.  Needless to say, I was NOT counting PointsPlus that night.  SO good!

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0 Calorie Cake?!

Product find: Limited edition Chapstick in Velvet Cake and Cake batter flavors.  Surprisingly I like the cake batter one better than the velvet one (shocker, I know!), but they both taste yummy.  I got mine for under $1 at Wal-Mart.  Look for them in the check out line. I will be going to get more.

Mod 1 Finals!

Yesterday Erik finished up his last final of his first module of business school!  Translation: total chaos is part way over.  I refuse to believe it gets better until next year, but many have said once he makes it past interviews for his internship in January he will have more time and more of a life (to spend with his new wife, maybe??).  Finals here are odd, as they all take place in the evening.  All week he has gotten up to go to a review session, most of which he left early, and then came back home only to go take his exam from 6:30-9:30pm!  By the end of the day I would not be motivated to take exams at all.  I give props to you UNC MBA students.  Congrats on getting through Mod 1.  Added bonus: Erik has a day completely off today, which means we get to spend the whole day together shopping, cleaning, making dinner together, and watching a movie.  I think I’m going to make him sit through Hunger Games 😉

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Trader Joe’s Find: BODY Butter??

Yup, you read that right.  There’s this little section in Trader Joe’s that had bath and body products.  I read they had pumpkin body butter and had to check it out.  Turns out this stuff is pretty awesome.  Made with shea butter, coconut oil and pumpkin seed oil, this a nice moisturizing  butter, and the scent is very subtle.  It’s a barely there pumpkin smell so I still get the gratification of wearing a pumpkin flavored product while not having to worry about carrying around an overwhelming scent of food.  The best part: it’s only $4.99 for a big container.  Way to go, Trader Joe’s!

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Make the most of your small accomplishments.

Happy Friday!

September 2013: Favorite Things and Other Things

I can’t even believe that September had come to a close already!  With the postings of my weekly “Friday 5” I don’t know how much “life stuff” there is to discuss, but lets recap, and I do have some favorites this month (happy day!)

 

Work: The music school has opened up 2 additional days for me to teach.  I originally started with Mondays and Thursdays and quite quickly they threw Wednesday in the mix, and as of a few days ago we agreed to open up my Tuesdays as well.  The Tuesday lessons will take a little bit to get moving because it requires another teacher potentially moving her studio, but the initial planning is out there, which means I can be teaching up to 4 full nights a week.  Good news for my bank account, good news for keeping me busy while Erik is so busy, bad news for actually wanting to do things before 9pm on weeknights.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some, and this is definitely a win.

 

Wedding planning is still in full swing.  The end of October I fly home for my bridal shower and bachelorette party, we purchases Erik’s wedding ring, and I’m starting to look into the smaller details now while RSVP cards show up on a daily basis.  I would say more, but the 4th of October means a wedding post is coming (3 months!)

 

Life at home gets very stressful for us both and that makes it very easy for us to get aggressive and defensive with each other.  Despite all of the stress in the air, we still manage to be in love and looking forward to the wedding.  Once we moved to NC people kept asking us “so, are you still engaged” because it’s the first time we’ve lived in the same state.  While sometimes the stress gets to us, we both are good at trying to take care of each other emotionally when the other is on the verge of breaking down.  Ultimately we rest peacefully knowing that we’re actually surviving the hell of the first half of year one MBA and all that implies and we’re looking forward to just being married and allowing that at home dynamic to change.  If we can survive this period of stressed out chaos, we can survive anything…and we know we’ll survive with flying colors.

 

And now, some favorites things!

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Trader Joe’s Rainbow Macaroons ($4.99 for box of 12)

I am completely obsessed with these delicious cookies!  You might be thinking that $5 for a dozen seems like a steep price, but have you looked for these cookies in bakeries (aka the only other place you can find them)??  They’re $2+ a piece!! Now, they’re good cookies, but that means I’d be paying almost $25 for my box of 12.  So, thanks to TJ’s this is a bargain box for the best cookies around.  They have the light, crisp outside with the soft chewiness as soon as you bite into it.  The flavors in this box are great!  You get 2 of each flavor (espresso, salted caramel, cassias (i think?), raspberry, pistachio, and orange) and they’re simply delicious.  Want to know the best part?  1 point each!! OR 14 Points Plus if you choose to binge on the entire box! Those stats are beyond amazing.  Go to Trader Joe’s and get a box of these right now!  Actually, get two…then send one to me 🙂

 

Pitch Perfect

I FINALLY saw Pitch Perfect.  It was amazing.  The music in this movie was fantastic and listening to it left me very emotionally satisfied.  Being someone who did musical groups my entire life, this was a great way to satisfy the itch of not currently being in one.  A capella music is one of my all time favorite types of music, and that’s all Pitch Perfect consisted of.  If you like music at all and enjoy a good laugh, please go rent this DVD.  It made my voice and my heart sing.

 

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Pumpkin Flavored ANYTHING

I’ve been on a HUGE pumpkin and pumpkin spice kick this month, and I anticipate that flowing right into October as well.  This is just one photo of a few of the pumpkin things I have gotten my hands on (you’ll notice this is clearly a Trader Joe’s haul) but the list goes on, and I intend on finding more.  Tell me what I need to be on the lookout for this season or try making this season.  I’m all ears.  Comment below and make my pumpkin flavored (and scented) day even better!

 

That’s about all I’ve got to wrap up this month.  Look for many more posts come October, as one of my goals is to really get my act together with this blogging business.  I hope everyone had a great September.  See you tomorrow with a post about what’s up this next month! Until then, be happy, my friends.

Countdown to “I Do”- 100 Days!

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100 days from today I will be walking down the aisle, saying “I do” and changing my last name by marrying my best friend.  Wow! Time flies when you’re as stressed out as we are right now.

It’s not even entirely wedding stuff that we’re stressed about, but life in general has gotten crazy busy and turned this apartment upside down. That being said, there is still a wedding coming and we still have a lot of little things to finish.

Invitations are out! We can check that bad boy off of our list.  I actually was more stressed about it than I needed to be, but while the process of the job took a significant amount of time, it still wasn’t so bad.  The small tasks like stamping the envelope with one stamp and the RSVP envelope with another, then making sure a registry card and RSVP envelope was in every invite, return address, address, etc etc.  All of the tasks weren’t daunting (except getting guest labels printed..that took the most time), but they added up to quite a few hours of Sex and the City while I did this job alone.  Now that the invites are behind me, I now can get excited ((sarcasm..) about  collecting RSVPs and turning them into seating charts and “who is eating what” lists.  Joy..

We think Erik found a ring he likes.  Since I am not a wife-to-be that is okay with the idea of her businessman, traveling all the time husband not wearing a ring, he’s finally come to terms with this fact and I think we found a great one.  It hasn’t been purchased yet, but hopefully this weekend we can check that one off of our list.  My wedding band was purchased a week or so after we were engaged, since Erik cleverly got an engagement ring that has a band available for its unique shape.

We booked a DJ!! We were given a good deal (again, thanks to my friend and wedding planner Mike) on an amazing company called Okyne MediaLab.  We did a Skype meeting with the owner late one night and he was incredible: very kind, very knowledgeable and made us very excited at the idea of having them at our wedding.  We are given access to online tools where we can not only choose songs for “must play,” “can play,”  and “DON’T play” lists, but we can write out and choose the musical details of every piece of the reception right from our online account.  This is a great tool, as we can also listen to clips of songs, and view suggested lists for various dances like first dance and the father and bride dance.  Erik and I haven’t really gotten the chance to sit and play with it yet (when have we had the time?) but we are really looking forward to using this tool to get our music organized and begin to truly envision our reception.  

I’ve now entered the stage where I’m having mild freak outs about the little details.  I have the dress, but I need undies/shape wear, shoes, and jewelry.  Ahh!  My bridesmaids need shoes and jewelry, but no one is here to come out shopping with me to browse.. AHH!  Do we have a guest book? Do I wait until after my shower to buy one?Little things like that.  On top of the stress of my jobs (which are blessings, don’t get me wrong), playing housewife because nothing would be clean if I didn’t because of my fiancé who is never around because he’s off doing some sort of school/business/networking activity until Heaven knows when every night, and emotionally coping with that situation (seeing how now would be a great time to have friends and family around, and while I do have friends, when preparing for your wedding day you want the people who have known you more than a few months) I’m finding that the littlest stress can sometimes sent me reeling, which sucks.  I never used to be like that.  I’m actually really looking forward to January, not only because of the wedding, but because the wedding will be over and there will be a lot fewer “little things” to turn me into a crazy person.  It’s hard when both of us are so stressed at the same time and we barely have time for one another.

So, 100 days to go!  At the end of October I fly home for my bridal shower and bachelorette party (what can I do when I live so far away from everyone else? Make the most of my time at home), since I’m pretty sure I won’t be back in Illinois until Wedding time!  Other than that, we keep on trucking along with all of the big pieces in place and all of the little pieces looming over my head waiting for me to accomplish them and/or crack under the pressure.

Until tomorrow (for my Friday 5 post), happy almost Friday from your trying-not-to-get-too-stressed Bride 🙂

Countdown to “I Do” – 4 Months

4 Months from today I will wake up laying next to my husband.  Wow.  Typing that feels so strange, and yet so very right.  4 months from yesterday will be the biggest, most exciting day of our lives.  While I sit here and think that it’s still such a long time to wait emotionally (we have been more than halfway tempted to elope several times so far),  I know that realistically it is no time at all.  The checklist of major wedding planning things has gotten a lot smaller, but that has all of the little tedious things still undone.

So far we have accomplished:

  • Flowers
  • Wedding dress
  • Bridesmaids dresses
  • Church and Venue
  • Invites (are printed and on there way to me as I type)
  • Cake
  • Menu/tasting
  • 99% sure on the DJ (just need to officially deposit and book it
  • Mom has a mother of the bride dress
  • Shower/bachelorette dates
  • Groom and Groomsmen attire chosen
  • My wedding ring purchased (just over a week after we got engaged..)
  • 90% on Erik’s wedding ring choice (big step forward)
  • Registries at 3 places
  • Photographer/videographer
  • Salon for getting beautified chosen

I’d say…I hope we’re doing pretty well.   Up until this point I have a been a pretty easy, stress free bride, and I really hope I can manage to stay that way.  Addressing the invitations has been stressing me out a bit, but we are using clear, classing looking labels (don’t judge, all of you “invites should be hand written” people…You have no idea how my handwriting looks..) which makes it easier….until the excel sheet doesn’t import correctly and you are stuck using copy/paste for last names and addresses of around 110 people.  That’s how I spent several hours yesterday, and even then I had about a dozen and a half that printed oddly because I originally tried mail merge first.

Technology is great until it fails you… *sigh*

 

Now is the time I start thinking about favors and place cards (I think we are using cute coasters, which knocks out two birds with one stone), what jewelry and shoes I’m going to wear (and what I want my girls to wear), bridesmaid gifts, a gift for my soon to be hubby on the big day, and fretting about organizing life when RSVP cards start to come in.  It’s all so much fun and yet I find myself easily overwhelmed as well.  I hope I get some leeway with my stress level because I have no help in Chapel Hill with me.  Erik helps when he can, but it’s more about knowing I have help available when I ask for it, which I know I won’t always have here (as proven by the fact he didn’t get home until after 2am last night..).  Despite all of that, I know that when I get stressed out about any of it, he will take the two seconds he has to give me a hug, a kiss and tell me it’s going to be fine.  If he has more than two seconds and I’m stressing about a task I’m actually doing rather than the thought of something (believe me, my thoughts stress me out 50 times harder than my actual tasks), I know he’ll offer to help when he can.  I’m reminded every day how lucky I am to be marrying this man, and I can’t wait to call him my husband.

 

While the little tasks are starting to pile up I still have a hard time believing what an easy process this has been so far.  I have an amazing fiancé, connections back home that are helping with everything: (Thank you again, Mike for EVERYTHING.), a friend from church doing invites, my aunt’s best friend doing my centerpieces (don’t worry, she’s a multi million dollar contracted architect and designer..I trust her), my sister’s bff for hooking us up with a great media team, and my mom (and future in-laws) being so wonderful throughout the whole process.

I am such a blessed woman.

 

4-months to go 🙂