Wedding Planning Weekend: Part 2


Friday we had a leisurely morning and then headed to the Hyatt where our reception is going to be. This was the day of our tasting (a few months earlier than usual).  Lauri, our wedding consultant, has been amazing with accommodating the issue of distance and Erik’s lack of availability.  Since this was the last weekend before orientation and full blown wedding craziness started, she allowed us to take full advantage of it and managed to pull off planning our tasting in advance.  When Erik and I arrived at the hotel, I showed him around to the room where cocktail hour will be and where the reception will be (two different places).  Before you knew it it mom and sister were there and Erik’s mom and sister, Kristin, were 5 minutes away.  It was time to get the wedding planning ball rolling.

We sat down at a table in the restaurant and were immediately served wine; white wine to start.  Throughout our meal we would taste 4 different wines and have to pick one red and one white to be served with dinner.  We also would be discussing the meal as a whole.  We get to choose soup or salad, and were trying two of each, and then 3 entrees.  First up were the soups.  We had opted for a tomato soup with pesto with an asiago bread and a chicken soup with tortellini in it.  Both were good, but the unanimous winner was the tomato soup, so if we decided to go with soup, we had our answer.  Then came salads.  One was your basic dinner salad with a choice of a vinaigrette or ranch dressing.  The other one was a risk we decided to take as it is for our special day: a dark green salad with pears, brie, walnuts and a white basalmic dressing.  The high class decadence was flowing in this salad.  This was the clear choice in the salad route.  We ended up deciding on salad over soup, although Erik wanted the soup, which is no problem since the bride and groom can basically have whatever they want (according to Lauri). She’s had a groom order a burger on his big day.  I decided against soup personally simply because I’ll be wearing white.  Red soup, expensive white dress..bad combination.  Maybe I can get some to go up to the wedding night suite with me for later…. hmm.. 😉

App tasting

Then came the main courses.  Course 1: steak.  I wish I could remember all of the descriptive words in the preparation but chef vocabulary aside, it was fantastic.  Topped with garlic, a side of what I lovingly called the “potato ball” the rest of the meal, ratatouille, and cooked to perfection.  I later came to find out (from Chef himself, as he came to talk to us when we were finished) that the potato ball was improvised, as he realized we didn’t have a carb on the plate.  I expected it to be a ball with mashed potatoes inside, but no.  It was a delicious scalloped potato ball.  I loved it.  Next up we had a chicken breast in a thyme reduction with broccolini and herb roasted potatoes.  Again, delicious.  Chef was treating us really well.  Our final dish (3 wines in) was a salmon with a sauce I can’t remember, roasted potatoes and green beans.  While it was the least favored dish at the table, I enjoyed it simply because it had been awhile since I had eaten salmon, and I love fish.  Throughout the entire meal Lauri kept us busy with discussing details about the reception: time, receiving line, chair covers, when to cut the cake, what time we want to make our exit.. the list goes on.  We ultimately decided on offering the beef or chicken for dinner, but changed the sides.  I was so obsessed with the potato ball that I wanted it on every plate, and we decided to put broccolini there with it.  I’m excited, although I know I won’t be spending much time enjoying  my food that day anyway.  With tummies full, a list of things to think about, decisions on the food made, we were off to continue our day of eating with the cake tasting at the Baking Institute.


(I had to throw in the pic of Erik enjoying his soup.  Sorry babe.)

At the baking institute we also preselected what we were going to taste.  Red velvet with cream cheese (my all time favorite), dual yellow/chocolate with vanilla buttercream, and white with a hazelnut custard cream.  There was also a delightful arrangement of sweets for us to try if we planned on getting a sweets table.  Each of us (the whole tasting party came) tried the cakes and we all agreed (much to my delight) that the red velvet was the winner.  Now we had a little visual dilemma: bright red cake, purple themed wedding..  After thinking about a suggestion I believe Erik gave me earlier (I can’t remember if it was my idea or his), I asked our consultant, Igor (again, someone Mike, my wedding planner friend, knew and called to say I was coming) if there was any way that the red velvet cake could be dyed purple instead.  Thankfully he said this would not be a problem.  SO, I get awesome purple velvet cake on my wedding day.  The color loving girly girl in me is beyond psyched.  It’s going to be beautiful.  I won’t tell you what it is going to look like, so you’ll just have to come back here after my wedding in January.

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After that we had a bit of a break, so Kristina (my sister and MOH), Erik and I journeyed back to grandpa’s to relax for a bit while Erik’s mom took care of getting rid of the rental car.  The other stop we had before dinner was to Starbuck to meet with our photographer, Marcin.  This man is my sister’s, best friend’s boyfriend, and his work is stunning.  He’s had photo’s in Vogue and regularly shoots for Chicago’s fashion brand Akira.  I am honored that he is willing to give Erik and I the celebrity treatment (2 photographers and two videographers, all amazingly professional and his top choices for a very reasonable price) on our big day.  He’s a sweet guy who is very put together.  We had a great time talking with him (again, the whole crew went along).  He plans on coming to our rehearsal with his team just to make sure he can get his plans lined up so we don’t ave to worry about a thing on our day.  I’m so excited to have all of this documented, as I know it’s going to feel like a total blur to me on the wedding day.

After Starbucks it was time to head to dinner back at grandpa’s house for the meeting of the families.  Grandpa, Marilyn, Deanna (my other sister) and my dad were there to meet Erik’s mom (my dad accomplished this on our move) and sister.  The menu: Portillo’s!  Chicago food for the Chicagoland visitors, complete with the best chocolate cake in the entire world.  Marilyn just purchased a whole cake from them, so we even had some for the ride home 🙂  It was an awesome evening full of good food and great company.  I feel so blessed knowing how well our families get along.


Erik got the luxury of sleeping in while I headed out to David’s Bridal. It was bridesmaids dress day.  My best friend from high school and college, Laura, is the 4th and final bridesmaid.  Luckily she was free to come down so I had my whole group of girls there, which was great because I have a variety of body types and wanted to see what everyone looked like.  I knew the color I wanted, so we started right away with dresses that came in that color.  I had the girls try on 4 or 5 different dresses.  Eventually I put on my wedding dress so I could stand next to them and decide what looked best.  It took us awhile and a bit of talking it out, but we said yes to the dress 🙂  My mom also managed to find her “mother of the bride” dress at the same outing.  It was nice to have all of the girls and both moms there for all of this.  After our fittings and decisions Erik joined us for lunch at Panera so he could see Laura before she headed out for the day.

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(Deanna and Kristin on the left are in the winning dress, only they will be in the color Kristina has on second from the left.)

Then it was off to church to talk to Pastor George about the ceremony.  This part was always my biggest worry, as Erik and I come from different churches (I’m Lutheran, he’s Nazarene), but it will be no problem.  I then got to go to Praise Team rehearsal to sing for the service that night.  That definitely felt like home to me.  We told Erik to sing with us as we rehearsed, and he did, but then when service time rolled around he did something unexpected:  Erik got up in front of the congregation with me and sang with Praise Team the whole service.  I never thought he’d do something like that, and it meant so much to me that he did.  Baby, if you’re reading this and you had any doubt about how much I valued that, don’t.  It meant the world to me <3  It was nice to have Erik’s mom and sister (who rocked out to all of our songs) join us for worship so they could see where I grew up (and see the wedding venue of course).  What a nice treat.

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(Sorry Dan, you got stuck in the picture too)

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Grandpa and Marilyn came to church that night 🙂

After church we went to my parents house for another gathering, this time with my aunt Norene and her best friend Eileen (who will be designing my center pieces).  Tonight’s menu: Lou Malniti’s pizza, more food I can’t get in NC.  There was puppy bonding, more talking, more family members meeting (Eileen counts as family too) and a great time.  We talked centerpieces and invitations (Pam came over) and were sufficiently wiped out by the time we went to bed.  When we got back to Grandpa’s Erik’s dad had just gotten into town (he was left behind in WI) so he stopped by to say hi.  Then we collapsed into bed and slept in preparation for the long drive we had coming.


Sunday morning rolled around, we packed up the car and were ready to head out.  Erik’s amily stopped by the house on their way to the airport to say our goodbyes and my mom came to drop off my hairbrush, which I managed to leave at her hpuse the night before.  Grandpa gave us coffee, we thanked him for letting us stay and off we went on our 14 hour drive back to Chapel Hill.

It was a lovely weekend.  I am so blessed to have amazing people in my life.  I’m beyond thrilled that I have  a family that seems to mix perfectly with Erik’s, and I am grateful that Erik got to participate in some of the major wedding planning details.  There’s still a lot to do, but given the 3 days we were in town we accomplished quite a bit.  I won’t be in Illinois again until my bridal shower/bachelorette party weekend in October, so I was also very thankful for the time just to be home and in familiar territory.

Lots of wedding planning down, yet still so much left to do.

The Next Chapter Pt 3: Life in Chapel Hill

I feel like the whole moving story deserved at least one more post that lets me tell you a bit about the area I now call home.

The weekend that Erik’s parents were with us (my parents stayed until Tuesday), his Dad took it upon himself to show us some of the sites.  That started Saturday morning with a trip to Franklin Street.  Franklin street is the main drag for Chapel Hill.  It’s covered in cute shops, bars all over, and it’s a foodie’s dream.  There’s everything there.  You can find chains like Chipotle and Noodles and Company, as well as delicious sweet treats including several frozen yogurt shops (Sweet Frog seems to be the main chain around here) and Krispie Kreme Doughnuts (they took ours back home away), and little shops and bars all over this street.  There is this bakery/ice cream parlor that Erik and I walked by one night when we were out for a stroll that has cupcakes (my favorite!) and gelato, but what’s unique about this place is they make adult gelato treats.  You can get vodka and other liquor based gelato creations served in a martini glass right along with your cupcake.  We haven’t gone there yet, but you better believe we will!

Anyway, Saturday morning:  We were taken to Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe on Franklin Street.  It’s this narrow little place (much like most of the shops along Franklin) with the best breakfast food ever.  We walked in and god smacked in the face with the scent of syrup, bacon, and sweet, sweet pancake and waffle batter.  I was in Heaven and we weren’t even seated yet.  We managed to get countertop seating, which was awesome because we got to sit and watch the pro breakfast cooks work their magic.  I had a cinnamon apple waffle with bacon and Egg Beaters and sugar free syrup (while enjoying a food I still I have to feel like I made at least one Weight Watchers conscious decision..) and it was lovely.  I feel compelled to go back and try their signature M&M pancakes.  Just the sound of those words makes my taste buds giddy.  After an amazing breakfast with super friendly service we were ready to face our day of unpacking.

(My parents, Erik, and I enjoying breakfast at Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe.  His parents are behind the camera)

As we were walking up Franklin St I noticed that everyone, and I mean everyone had something Tar Heels related on (UNC mascot).  I have never lived in a University town before, so I never realized how much of a “thing” showing your university’s colors was.  I knew that Erik and I had to hop on the Tar Heels bandwagon when I saw this little old man walking down the street in a Tar Heels baseball cap.  I expressed my desire to get “in” with the Chapel Hill way of life, and Erik’s mom wasted no time leading us a few stores down to “The Shrunken Head” which is one of the best known shops for all things Tar Heel (although I later learn that Kohls, Walmart, Target and basically anywhere I go will have Tar Heels gear for purchase).  After some browsing and trying things on I managed to walk out of there with a cute long sleeved shirt (thanks to the clearance rack), some super soft sweatpants and a windbreaker jacket with hood, thanks to my parents, and an amazingly cute hoodie thanks to Erik’s parents.  As we were talking to the store owners (it’s been a family owned business for years) they learned of our move and our engagement so as a little housewarming gift they threw in these big plastic cups, one in Tar Heels blue and a pink one for me.  I was now satisfied with owning some Tar Heels gear.  I was officially a Chapel Hill resident, and now I could look the part 🙂

(In the Shrunken Head, me sporting my new sweatshirt, and Erik being a real man and not being afraid to hold my purse;-)  )

Saturday night the group of us (Erik and I plus all parents) went out to an epic dinner at the Carolina Inn.  Built in 1924 by a UNC alum, this place is actually listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  When you walk in you can just stand in awe at it’s elegance.  It’s very classy with an eclectic collection of furniture making the visual experience truly unique.  There are long halls and many rooms, and that’s just on the main floor.  Never mind the fact that somewhere there are actual hotel rooms that probably cost several hundred dollars a night to stay in.   We walked into the dining room which was very quiet and had brightly colored upholstery on the chairs. The menu reminded me of something you would see on a cruise ship; there weren’t a whole lot of choices, but each choice was unique and decadent.  We started with some bread (as always) and they brought us a cold beet soup in a little cylindrical glass, meant to be sipped.  It was an interesting flavor which I happily tried a few sips of before my tummy decided it wasn’t for me.  That’s fine, onto the main course: steak.  We are talking enough steak for 3 meals for me sitting on top of delicious mashed potatoes.  I ate the top piece, and ended up taking the bigger piece home along with the leftovers from a parent who had the same thing.  Then we looked at the dessert menu… Oh. my. goodness!   We each ordered something different: peanut butter/pretzel/chocolate mousse pie, berry cobbler, pecan bread pudding, chai creme brûlée, and for me: red velvet mousse cake.  We all played pass the plate, as we wanted to get our hands on all of dessert awesomeness spread out in front of us.  The meal was amazing, we were all in good company, Saturday was a success.

(My steak and red velvet dessert)

Erik’s parents left on Sunday.  The adventure of unpacking continued with target runs and working through things box by box.  I met up with my parents one morning at a local cafe called Cafe Carolina.  They have great french toast, yummy sandwiches (Erik and I learned that later) and yummy baked goods, including Tar Heel colored cupcakes.  I would expect nothing less from a Chapel Hill eatery 🙂

(The Cafe Carolina Cupcakes)

My last adventure with my mom was to David’s Bridal, seeing how on top of everything I have a wedding to plan.  We figured we should at least start looking for a dress, as I had no idea what I wanted.  Looking at them all hanging there was totally overwhelming, so I decided maybe I should just try some on for fun.  5 dresses and one awesome consultant later, I actually bought my wedding dress.  Say What?!?!?  Yup!  Done and done!  Obviously no pictures or details will be posted until Erik has seen me.  It was an awesome impromptu adventure.

Since our parents left Erik and I have discovered other places as well.  The first MBA event took place at a bar called “Top of the Hill” where the main area is actually 3 floors up at the top of the building and you can look out over Franklin street.  It’s another local landmark.   I also was taken over to the business school one day for a BBQ and Erik gave me the grand tour of the place he will be spending so much of his time.  I found several local Weight Watchers stores and all of the stores I’m used to having access to back in Illinois.  There is even a really decent mall only 15 minutes away, compete with a Sephora and with an Ulta across the street. Win! Erik and I have spent Saturdays registering for our wedding at Bed Bath and Beyond and Macys, so we got to explore the mall together.  We really know how to spend an entire day out shopping..  I also have a Trader Joe’s and a Whole Foods right by the music school I am teaching at, which is great, except I don’t have the money to shop there.  Still, it’s nice to know they’re around as well.

It has been and continues to be quite an adventure discovering places around my new home.  I know there have been more places we’ve explored over the last month or so, but I don’t need this post to go on forever.  Chapel Hill is a nice place full of kind people.  I keep hearing I am going to love the winters since I’m from Chicagoland, so I am actually looking forward (at least a little bit) to winter this year.

There’s still a lot to work on and a lot of things to accomplish and the craziness of the fall season has yet to start for either of us, but getting the chance to settle in over the summer was a great choice.  Life is good 🙂

Top 10 Summer Must Haves


I figured since I initially intended for this blog to be a branch of of my youtube channel, which is beauty related, I should probably get a post going that isn’t about my life and all of it’s changing glory.

Everyone has their list of summer beauty essentials to get through the hot summer months, and I thought I should share mine.

1: Clinique CC cream

Summer means time to bust out the less intense face makeup.  Translation: lose the full coverage foundation for something a little more giving.  I have been exploring the world of BB creams for a while now, and on a recent trip to Sephora I was recommended Clinique’s CC cream.  For those new to the products, a BB cream is a beauty balm; it has anti aging, SPF, light coverage to blur out imperfections and all sorts of good for the skin things.  Well, CC cream (color correcting) is taking BB to the next level.  I consider this product quite a find for several reasons.  SPF 30 is built right in, making it impossible for me to forget to protect.  It’s a hydrating formula yet oil free, meaning my skin doesn’t get thirsty but won’t get clogged up either.   It’s a great lighter summer alternative to foundation.  I’m not confident enough with my skin to go bare-faced, but this CC cream offers the right amount of coverage without weighing me down.

2. Crocheted TOMS

After seeing TOMS on many feet I finally managed to get a pair of my own (two actually), and my cream colored crocheted pairs very rapidly turned into my favorite pair of summer shoes.  With MD (see my post about MD for more information) sandals and shoes of the like that are comfortable enough to walk in are nearly impossible to find.  These shoes are wondrously comfortable and SO cute.  These shoes cover your entire foot, but because they are crocheted they breathe everywhere.  It’s like wearing no shoes at all.  High comfort and adorable.  What more could you ask for?  They also come in a wide range of colors: neutrals, blue, purple, neon green, and beyond. Click here to see the complete line

3. Lip Balms with Color

I am never seen without a lip balm of some sort in my pocket or in my purse.  Having to apply a separate balm to moisturize and then reapply your color throughout the day is a two step process that you don’t need to spend time on this summer.  Enter the colored lip balms.  I have 3 favorites: Maybelline Baby LipsRevelon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain, and Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter.  I was going to try and pick a favorite, but I couldn’t decide which of these I liked the best.  They all offer exceptional moisture and a nice burst of color.  The Maybelline Baby Lips has less color than the other two, so if you’re a minimalist girl, these will give you a subtle bit of color and a lot of lip moisturizing nutrients.  The Revlon stain balm is more about the color.  It does a nice job of staining your lips with a semi-matte finish.  While it goes on like a balm, it leaves the least glossy feel of the three.  The Revlon butters are a great payout of color and moisture.  You can go subtle baby pink all the way to a bright splash of hot pink (one of my summer faves for the days your makeup needs a bit more spice).  These are a one step must for a splash of color and kissable lips this summer.  Pop one in your purse or pocket and go.

4. Naked Eye Palettes

Urban Decay is hands down my favorite brand for eye shadows and liners.  The color payout is awesome, the staying power is great and the colors themselves are to die for.  My favorites for summer (well, lets me honest.  These are my favorites, period.) are the Naked Eye Palettes.  The entire collection offers a fun play with neutral colors: shimmers, a few glitters, mattes.  They’re all in one place and ready for action.  Naked and Naked 2 are the larger collections, and for the minimalist girl there is the Naked Basics Palette, which has all matte shades  except for a subtle highlight.  Again, I can’t pick a favorite because the entire collection is incredible.  Perfect to keep it beachy and natural while still looking a bit glam.  What more could a girl ask for this summer?

5. SPF

Let’s be honest, SPF might be the most important summer accessory.  Personally, I need to get a lot better at this.  Sunscreen is essential to healthy summer skin.  Let’s do everything we can to stay skin cancer free, my friends.  For the body I recommend Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration.  SPF and moisture all in one bottle.  I tend to notice that well hydrated skin tans better in the sun, so while protecting you this stuff offers a bit of soft and silky help too.  For the face you need to take a different approach.  Neutrogena Clear Face offers a nice coverage of SPF and the promise that it won’t clog your pores.  For trouble skin like mine this is a God send.  Now there’s no excuse to not protect your face while laying out catching rays.

6. A favorite water bottle

I know this sounds like an odd summer essential, but a water bottle could be the most important thing you keep with you this summer.  Water is SO important for so many reasons; Your skin stays clearer and more moist, your body functions better, it keeps you feeling fuller, it’s great for your diet, it will keep you a bit more tolerant of the summer heat; the reasons water is essential to your life are many and all are important.  Find yourself a cute water bottle that can double as a fashion accessory and keep yourself hydrated.  I am proudly sporting a cute purple one that ran me a whole $10 at Target.

7. Skinny cow ice cream treats

Ice cream is one of my favorite things about summer.  Skinny Cow is a brand that the Weight Watcher in me absolutely adores.  The ice cream treats this brand offers taste outstanding and have a PointsPlus value that doesn’t do the taste justice.  Amazing ice cream bars in flavors like chocolate, cookies and cream and pink velvet (my favorite, and pictured above) are only 3 points.  There are ice cream sandwiches and new bars (cookie dough and caramel pretzel OMG!) that offer sweet tooth satisfaction at only 4 PointsPlus.  Check out their site for all of your flavor options and then hurry to your grocery store to stock up.  Ice cream is an essential part of summer.  Feel free to enjoy and not feel one calorie of guilt!

8. Waterproof mascara

Whatever your favorite mascara is, I suggest getting the water proof version for summer.  Raccoon eyes are not hot, ladies.  Between pools and spending time outside (inevitably getting a bit sweaty) mascara is bound to get a bit runny.  Keep your pretty eyes together with some water proof mascara.  I use the Cover Girl Clump Crusher in the water resistant formula.  I use this simply because I found this mascara to make my lashes look the best, but I know every glamour girl has her favorite mascara.

9.  Urban Decay De-Slick Spray

I probably should have put this product at number 1.  This is one of my holy grail products and will be a continuous repurchase.  This is a makeup setting spray that also controls shine.  In the summer it is easy for your makeup to melt right off, and we don’t have time for that.  This spray will keep your products right where you put them, they’ll last a lot longer AND it will help keep shine at bay.  I have never had any breaking out from this product (added bonus!) and my makeup stays looking fresh.  To ensure this staying power I start my makeup routine with a splash of the spray before anything else as well as spraying it liberally after all is said and done.

10. Bright Nail Polish

Summer is about bright colors, and the easiest fashion accessory to change up and get noticed comes in a bottle.  There are amazingly bold nail polishes out there, and summer is a chance to try colors you normally wouldn’t.  Give the neons a go.  Try a hot pink or a peach, or go really bold with summer blues.  Pictured above are just a few of my summer faves.

I’m sure my list could have gone on for another 10, but there you have it!