Theme time!

Alright! I've been discovering that one of the best ways to deal with sadness (while simultaneously working on coping, of course) is by distracting yourself with doing something you love. So, I've decided to blog about my wedding :)

I feel the need to share something with you. Something that gets me excited, and a little happy in the pants.

We're going to have a carnival-esque themed wedding!!!

I absolutely *adore* going to fairs and carnivals. There is something about walking around on a nice, breezy summer night, listening to music, eating foods you didn't even know came fried, licking cotton candy off of your fingers, dancing under both the strings of lights and the stars- it's romantic to me. It's romantic, and it feels timeless and youthful and just plain, old fun- which is what we're going for. My relationship with Mikey has always been about how much fun we have when we're together. We've celebrated "monthiversaries" (more on those later) at carnivals, the Renaissance fair, town fairs, the Wisconsin state fair, etc. It's an atmosphere that really fits our 'couple personality' and the idea that our reception will be able to have that kind of energy excites me to no end!

When we first got engaged, I mentioned the idea of a carnival themed wedding to Mikey, and he kind of shot it down. He wasn't cruel about it, but at that point, he was only marginally familiar with different kinds of weddings, and his main idea of a wedding is what he saw in movies, and on the cover of wedding magazines my mom bought me. Since I'm all about compromise, I shelved the idea of a carnival wedding and went to look for a more conventional theme we would both be happy with.

As I've mentioned before, our wedding has morphed a lot over the past year and a half. We've always wanted an outdoor wedding (or at the very least, a wedding with an outdoor option) and we decided very early on that our number one main color would be cobalt blue. Over the last two months, we've been talking a lot about more details of the wedding, and I tentatively brought up the idea of a carnival wedding again. This time, Mikey was much more accepting in terms of the idea, and with a few parameters set (no clowns, no carnival music, etc-- all those things I wouldn't have done anyway) he happily agreed.

So Mikey's agreed, but he's not one hundred percent sure exactly what I'm envisioning. I was explaining it to him, the other day, and I got the, "But babe- isn't that kind of what we were planning before?"

In a way...yes? We always wanted the lights, the music, the contagious atmosphere- but we've changed the menu, and some of the deserts, and our tentative designs for the invites will have to be scrapped completely. I plan on adding a popcorn machine and cotton candy machine, and a lot of other fun little details-- but enough typing, I'll share a few pictures (not mine-- YET) of projects I hope to tackle to make my wedding a tastefully fun romp through carnival-wedding fun land. Enjoy!

I love the way these invites look- cobalt blue is our main color, but we're also going to have different shades of blue as accents. I'm not the biggest red/pink fan, but these next two invites do it so well- I love them!

I am *definitely* having these at my wedding- I love these (what would you call them?) wood-cut-out-stick-your-faces-through things. They amuse me to no end, and Mikey and I have pictures in a few. They're so vintage carnival, and I can't wait to paint my own! (That's right, you heard me! I love a fun, artistic challenge!)
I think having a kissing booth at the wedding could be a lot of fun- I know we have a few groomsman who would just love to hop behind the (hopefully!) well constructed counter and dole out kisses for a twenty-five cent piece! Plus, just like the cardboard cut outs, it looks so vintage- and I adore vintage.

Any other carnival elements you think I should incorporate into our wedding? :)



Everyone experiences loss and difficulties; this is not something limited to just myself, my family, or those I know. Grief is a universal language.

Mikey and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We ate at both my parents' house, as well as his sister's house, with his family. It was delicious, and we ended the day full of food, drink, and happiness.

On Saturday, however, we experienced a tragedy. Since some of the details are still fresh in everyone's mind, and I know that my family (who, on occasion, read my blog) are still struggling for a way to deal with the loss we experienced, I won't go into many details. We lost a furry member of our family, and the way that it happened was unbelievably heartbreaking. Even if I were to give a detailed account, there is no way to explain to anyone who was not in the room the magnitude of anguish felt by those who were present. There was a lot of pain on Saturday, and everyone is still working on healing.

We had originally planned on playing D and D (I know, we're nerds) on Saturday, and just relaxing as a family over the Thanksgiving weekend. However, after we lost our little buddy, we were all in kind of a daze for a while. There was guilt all around. There was a lot of crying and sobbing, and no-one was quite sure how to respond to the death.

We had just lost our family dog of 11 years last month, so losing another friend so soon really opened a fresh wound (especially for my younger siblings), and instead of the laughter-filled weekend we had all anticipated, the afternoon on Saturday was spent digging a grave out by a tree on my parent's property and holding a funeral.

Afterward, we went inside, and Sam and I decided the best way to deal with a situation such as this was to celebrate the life of the friend, rather than grieve over the loss- not that the grieving process isn't important. In order to deal with death, you really need to let yourself feel the pain and process all of the emotions that come with it. However, it was feeling as if my family was kind of crumbling, from the inside out, and we knew we had to do something.

We drank, we ate, we attempted to be merry.

We played our game, and as we all gathered around the table, a laugh would catch one of my siblings off guard, and for a while, everything was ok again. Everyone played, and so we sat in the dining room, cozy and squished next to one another (there are a lot of us) and it felt...safer, somehow. We all knew of what happened that day- no one was ignoring it- but it seemed that we all knew that if we were all doing something together, we could heal together. Occasionally, one of us would have to take a break, and so the rest of us would sit around, making jokes- or two of us would split off into another room to cry, and let some of the emotion out. When we were done, we'd head back in, and keep playing.

Today, things were better. Christmas lights were hung, a TV show was watched together, and we all ate, drank, and let ourselves be merry. There was still a bit of reserve in the air, and a little sadness- but since we were all together, it was easier.

I've been very fortunate in my life- up until this point, I haven't had to deal with much loss, and not nearly as much as those close to me have. I'm an extremely emotional person, and I know that if I let myself, a single emotion can take over me. When my friends experience loss, it hurts me, too. I'm a sensitive person when it comes to death, and I'm not sure how easy it'll be for me to deal with it on an even grander scale when that day comes.

I learned, however, that family is important. That to surround yourself with the people who love and support you, who let you lean on them when you can't hold yourself up anymore, who will let you express how you're feeling unabashedly- those are the people who are important.

My family will always be there for me. I know we may not always get along swimmingly well, but in the hard times, down in the trenches- I know they've got my back, and they know I've got theirs.

This year, I'm thankful, more than ever, for my family.


Little Details

...in a literal sense. Figuratively, it's a bit of a bigger deal.

I'm talking cake toppers.

I've had a hard time deciding exactly what I want to top our (cup)cake.

It's not that I don't know what I want- it's just that I want so many different things! There's the whole bird-cake-topper craze that's going on right now. I think they're super beautiful, but I don't have the best relationship with birds. We've never really gotten along. We send each other Christmas cards, birds and I, but we don't really hang out or ever get coffee together.

There are those adorable little wooden people you can find on etsy, where the artist takes elements of your wedding dress, colors, and personality and makes you and your SO (significant other) into these tiny, little wooden replicas of your wedding-day-selves. For a while, I considered going to Hobby Lobby (a *huge* craft store with all of your crafting needs, and then some) and getting some wood for myself to paint/decorate.

However, today, on a break at work, I came up with what I want to do-well, at least the general idea.

I want to do a salt and pepper shaker wedding cake topper.

You see, I love salt and pepper shakers- not the normal, boring, cylindrical ones that you shove to the back of cabinets, but the intricately designed, vintage, totally off-the-wall shakers. I think it stems partially for my love of all things mini- my two favorite salt and pepper shakers right now are the ones that look like mini pumpkins, and the ones that look like mini teapots (I also love teapots, but that's really quite irrelevant to this post). I love the idea of shrinking something down and slapping a seasoning inside of it.

"Oh, is that a mini rollerskate with rosemary?"
"A mini tophat with thyme??"
"A mini cupcake with cumen???"

I think you get the picture.

So, as I was sitting at work, I was looking at an article in a magazine on how women were taking parts of their centerpieces, and incorporating them into decorations for their house: reusing vases, drying out flowers to use as potpourri- just tons of wonderful ideas. I love the idea of having little memories of our wedding around the house, becoming a part of who we are, the background of our daily lives. I also love the idea that so many of the details I spent hours upon hours and days upon days ruminating over wouldn't be a one-time-use deal.

On the next page of the magazine, there were a bunch of pictures of cake toppers, and I got to thinking that it would be wonderful if I could use our toppers as something after the wedding- and it just clicked.

I want salt and pepper cake toppers.

Let me rephrase that: I desperately want salt and pepper cake toppers.

I started looking at shakers today, and I found some that just melted my heart a little bit. I'm still not sure quite which kind I'm looking for, but I think I'll know it when I see it.

I'm excited at the idea of being able to bring out our 'special' shakers on certain days (holidays, anniversaries, birthdays) and have a flood of memories. I talked to Mikey, and he's completely on board.

Even though I haven't picked a favorite, yet, here are some notable finds that make me smile.
I know, I said birds and I don't get along (and we don't)- but aren't these so endearing? I would totally go to coffee with these guys.

One of the things I say sometimes (and I could not, for the life of me, tell you why) is "I am a robop". I don't know. But these guys are precious!

Cutest. Ninjas. Ever.

What do you think? Do you have a unique idea for a cake topper? Do you like birds, or do you have a lukewarm relationship with them, like me?


Teeth Whitening (finally!)

I know my ovaries hijacked the last post, so I figured I'd try again. I have my cervix keeping a watch on those pesky buggers, so they shouldn't interfere.

(Ok, I know that was weird, but I'm jacked up on coffee and final projects)

When we started planning the wedding, we looked a lot at big picture stuff: the theme, the colors, the food, all of those super important details that the wedding can't move forward without.

Probably about six months into being engaged, I was looking at some of the smaller details, like whether or not we're going to have cake or cupcakes, what color shoes, who the people in the bridal party are going to be, if we want a DJ vs iPod wedding, etc.

So, now that we're a little over seven months out, I know we have lots of little details we could be focusing on- napkin colors/shades, favor manufacturing (tying ribbons, punching out holes, etc), finding gifts for bridesmaids/groomsmen...you get the idea.

However, what do I find myself thinking about?

Teeth. In particular, my teeth.

I just want to point out that those are not my teeth. And, ok, so my teeth aren't this yellow, but I'm really afraid that- because I'm going to be wearing white on my wedding day- that my teeth aren't going to look pearly fabulous, like this:

I'm sure that people aren't going to necessarily staring at my teeth during my wedding (hopefully), but I don't want to look back at my photos and stare at my teeth and think, "Why didn't I do anything about my that?"

So, I think I'm going to start trying to whiten my pearly off-whites up a bit. I do plan on taking before and after pictures of my teeth, but since I'm a bit self-conscious, I'll only post those after I can show some improvement- but I will post them. My roommate has some Rembrandt toothpaste, which I've used a few times (Thanks, Sam!) and I've been able to see a bit of a difference. I plan on buying my own tube of Rembrandt, along with either the Rembrandt teeth whitening gel (it really works, but it's a bit pricey) or crest white strips (less expensive, but possibly also less effective?). We also have a pre-brushing whitening mouth-rinse that is supposed to help, which I need to remind myself to start using more frequently.

Now, I know that I might get some flack for wanting to whiten my teeth just for my wedding, but that's not that case. I've been trying to whiten my teeth for a while, but it hasn't been on the forefront of my mind. Having the wedding looming in the future is lighting a flame under my ass to do a whole bunch of things that I've been wanting to do, but that I haven't had the ambition to do.

Skin care, for instance.

Now, I was my face everyday. However, I don't always wash my face every night before I go to bed (tsk, tsk!) and I hardly ever use my toner. If I can remind myself, though, that I am getting married in less than a year, it makes me want to push myself to look the absolute best I can. It serves as a really nice reminder to use my toner, and even when I'm not in the mood to really do the whole "wash-my-face" routine, it's a nice nudge in the right direction.

I've worked on making myself a healthier, happier person before I was engaged as well, but I always set a goal for myself- tone up before going to the water park, make my hair healthier before the summer to help prevent it from drying out so much, improve my posture for job interview, etc.

The wedding is my next big event, and I think that using it as a goal-setter is nothing I should be ashamed about. I think that if someone plans to get thinner just for their wedding, and then gain back 15, 20, 40 pounds after they get married- that is ridiculous to me. If you're using it, however, as a stepping-stone, or a motivator- well, then there is nothing wrong with that.

Anyone have some great tips for making my whites whiter?

P.S.- A few blog posts ago, (this one) I talked about how we were going to drive to meet a possible new puppy- I haven't posted anything up until this point, because I wanted to make sure it was a for sure thing, that Bandit and the new dog would get along- and they do! She's still getting used to us and the house, but I'm happy to introduce, new to our family, Nyxie!

Look for her in future blog posts, once she's gotten a little more used to our house and being a part of our family-- I'm sure it won't take long :)


Those Damn, Pesky Ovaries

I was going to write a post today about teeth whitening.

I got up, grabbed myself a cup of coffee, pushed away the manuscript I had spent last night editing, and then it happened.

My damn ovaries took over.
Don't be fooled by the sweet appearance, this group of ladies here (ovaries and uterus) can be unbelievably ruthless.

I'm talking about the syndrome known as: baby rabies (the Latin term is, I believe, babius rabius).

Trying to explain to someone the sensation, when that person has never experienced baby rabies before, is extremely difficult, and bordering on impossible. However, after the mind-numbing work yesterday of checking and rechecking en dash and em dash length, sentence structure, and minute grammar imperfections, my brain is up for something different. And so, I shall try.

It's kind of like a deep hunger-- a mania, too. It's constantly on my mind, like men with sex-- I don't think I go more than three minutes without a passing though that has to do with babies. Seeing pictures of babies only fuels the flame. It doesn't hit me every month, but it does most months. Sometimes, I only have baby rabies for a few days. Other times, it's lasted a few weeks. The longest one I've experienced (which has been in the past year) was two months long. That's a long, long time to be obsessed about babies.

When people talk about the biological clock, I've seen others roll their eyes-- mainly men. I think they just don't understand. Maybe if we say, "You know how when the game is on, you have an undeniable urge to have a beer and chips? It just kind of happens? It's kind of like that"-- which, of course, is a crude, under-statement of the pull, but maybe it'd help them gain a little perspective.

(I know I just gender-stereotyped so hard in that last paragraph, forgive me- My ovaries are writing this post, not me, and I don't think they're very PC)

But, continuing on with my gender-stereotypical analogy, when we get baby rabies, we just want babies. And, much like how the need for beer and chips comes with a game that is on once a week or month or however often those sports teams play (ovaries don't care much for organized sports, dontcha know...), my baby rabies follow a pattern, too. It normally occurs right before my period.

This isn't something I've developed just since I've become engaged, either. I'd had the gentle pullings of pre-baby rabies for a long time, probably beginning when I was around 15 or so. I knew I wanted to be a mom, and have babies, but the rabies then were much kinder. Instead of the burning desire to have a kid, I just wanted to be near a kid, or hold a kid.

I'm not quite sure when it turned into full-blown baby rabies, but once it did, there was no going back-- and now that I'm engaged, it's about ten times worse: because now, it's actually an option.

I'm not saying that Mikey and I are actually trying for babies right now, or plan to in the next few months, but if we did get pregnant now, it wouldn't be the end of the world. We'd be married by the time the baby came, Mikey's well on his way to a fireman position, and I'll have graduated by then, too. I'm not saying that there wouldn't be a lot of rough obstacles to overcome. I know that-- but my ovaries kind of brush those worries aside during my bought of baby rabies. It fades away harsh realities and fills up that space with the idea of soft, fuzzy baby blankets, and lullabies and pacifiers.

I thought I was developing baby rabies last night, but I knew for sure when I woke up this morning and realized I had, last night, had an extremely realistic dream about taking a pregnancy test. I even remember watching the little 'plus' form on the stick, and I remember counting- it took less than fifteen seconds to develop to a full plus. I showed dream Mikey the stick, and he said, "Are you sure? This part of it looks a little pale," pointing to the very left side of the plus. "I'm sure," I said. We smiled. We hugged. We kissed.

I woke up.

I know our plan is to wait until we're married, then (when I'm under his insurance) we will go, and have a TTC (trying to conceive) visit with our doctor, get on prenatal vitamins, and attempt to wait at least one year before we start trying.

However, if my ovaries are successful in their evil plotting, I won't make it that long.

There are ways to combat baby rabies, by the way.

I read stories about epidurals (I HATE needles), the pains of giving birth, the costs, all the bodily fluids I didn't even know I had, etc- and that helps. Also, a good night out on the town, along with the mental reminder that once I have a kid, nights like these will be few and far between, help. I try to subdue the rabies, so that I can go on and keep living my everyday life, without staring at onesies on-line for half an hour (done that) or spent countless hours searching out adorable baby room themes (definitely done that)-- but it's still hard.

So yeah, my ovaries got me hurtin' bad for a baby today. I'm going to try to redirect with doing wedding things, like looking up alternative invites (I think I've picked ours out, but I like to shop around) or re-writing our guest list.

I just have a feeling I'm going to fail today.

Damn you, ovaries!

Anyone else have a bad case of baby rabies?


And speaking of that whole engagement thing...

...when you decide to have a long one, you're setting yourself up to hear a lot of questions, from a bunch of people who you'd think, frankly, should just mind their own business.

When we first got engaged and people would, of course, ask when we were getting married, and we'd reply with "in two years", we got a variety of different responses.

"Why not just get engaged next year, then?"

"If you're so ready to get married, why have a long engagement?"

"Are you guys trying to see if you wanna be married or something?"

"Two years? Why, what's wrong?"

Now, all of these irk me, but the last one was the very worst- I only got it once, from a not-too-close school mate. Now, I understand that movies and books all portray the whole engagement-wedding process as: girl and boy fall in love, boy proposes, girl has four months to prepare the perfect weddings (turning into a bridezilla at one point along the way, or else her dad falls into financial ruin) and that's that.

However, Mikey and I don't fall into the normal stereotypical wedding planning mold. I'm not saying that it's bad to plan a wedding in that amount of time- in fact, I'm always incredibly impressed by those ladies who plan a wedding in a year or less and it looks fantastic! Mikey and I just knew that wasn't what we wanted to do, and for several reasons.

First, we wanted me to graduate first. This isn't a necessity, but my parents, parents' friends and gramma have all drilled it into me to do so. They know how much I'd love to get married and pop out a baby, and so their line of thinking is that if i graduate and then get pregnant on the honeymoon (common theme in our family) I will at least have a degree- otherwise, they don't know that I'd finish school. I'm also going to be the third person in our whole family who has graduated (including cousins and such) and the second in our immediate family, so this is really important to them, and me as well. I haven't gone to school for *mumble* years to not graduate now. Although I'd like to think that once I was married, my priorities wouldn't change so much that my education wasn't as important to me anymore, but I know that if I do accidentally get pregnant on our honeymoon*, I'm not sure how pregnant me would feel about writing 15-page papers and attending three hour lectures. I get pretty hormonal when I'm pms-ing, and I can't imagine what it'll be like when I'm pregnant.

*Just a quick note- we do plan on using protection until we're READY ready for kids, but my parents used protection on their honeymoon as well, and yet my sister is proof that sometimes life has different plans...

Second, we knew that we weren't going to have a whole lot of money to throw around for the wedding. Mikey and I are going to be the primary source of money for the wedding, and so we figured that with a two year goal set, we could save, start to buy things early on, and spread out the spending over 24 months, rather than 8. So far, we have. I recently was asked what our budget was, and I put it at around three-thousand dollars. However, I did not include the honeymoon (we're using a stock Mikey's mom had set up for him before she passed- I felt uneasy about this, but Mikey is positive she would have approved), or anything we've already purchased. And, I have to tell you, this was a great idea. I've already bought my dress, shoes, half of the favors, and various other items we're going to use. We're making the mead (instead of doing a champagne toast) and are purchasing our own alcohol, one bottle at a time, which is going to save us-- literally-- around (at least) a thousand of dollars. We're doing the wedding in our backyard, which means no venue fees- only tent rental, and tables, chairs, etc- and we've found a wonderful vendor for that, and it's going to cost us under a thousand dollars.

Now, I know these are all solutions that we'd probably been able to come up with in under a years time, but having this past year, and the 8 months still left, has really helped. We can approach an idea, see if we like it, and back away and chew on the thought for a few weeks-or months- before deciding one thing or another. I get stressed really easily, and so this has been fantastic. I've been able to play around with so many different elements, and take breaks for school and life in between planning (not to say that I don't think about it frequently...) and it has really worked for me. I've been able to rework the design of our wedding several times, and we're finally settling into something we're both extremely happy with. I think the long engagement has really prevented me from obsessing too much over any little detail, and has really allowed me to look at what is important to us.

I'm not saying this is for everybody- tons of people work great under pressure (I do too, but then I end up pulling my hair out) and love the fast-paced, whirlwind wedding planning. I can understand the appeal, but to keep my sanity, and to really enjoy the whole process of getting married, this was the right choice for us. Which leads me to my last reason...

(Number three-) I really, really wanted to enjoy being engaged. Mikey and I, before we were engaged, were almost on a wedding show. We had heard from a friend (who knew we were moving in that direction) told us about a wedding show contest, and how they'd throw us a free themed wedding. Well, as you learned in my last post, I love anything free. So, when we had the chance to have a themed wedding at no cost to us, we jumped at it. We went through the initial interviewing process, and got up to a meeting with the studio producer, when we learned that the wedding wouldn't actually be free- we'd get a free wedding planner, and they could help out with certain elements, but the majority of the cost would be ours-- also, we'd have to get married in the next three months.

We sat down with my parents and talked it out, and decided it wasn't the right move for us. We probably could have pulled it off, but with only three months warning, and not a whole lot of assistance, it wouldn't have been the wedding we wanted. It would have been fun, for sure, but we decided we didn't want to sacrifice the kind of control we could have for a TV show and free wedding planner.

After we decided not too, I really thought about how it would have felt to be engaged for three months or less, and I wasn't crazy about the idea. I'd been reading a lot of wedding blogs, like weddingbee.com, and I loved reading about every step the ladies on there went through to arrive at their wedding day. There was so much excitement, and anticipation, and I really didn't want to miss out on that. Plus, I plan on being married for forever, but being engaged was something I'd only be for such a short time, and I didn't really want to make that an even smaller part of my life.

I think being engaged is important to a wedding and marriage- it's a transitory period, and even though I know Mikey and I would have been fine if we had been married then, we've done a lot of growing and learning about one another while planning the wedding. We've dealt with money issues, family issues, and about any other issue that you can imagine- and have come through every one with shining colors, and our communication skills are so much better for it. Again, I'm not knocking short (or no) engagements. There is a sort of romanticism to deciding you want to be married, and then flying somewhere and doing it within the week (like Mikey's brother and his wife did- and they're some of the happiest married people I know!). Had the wedding been completely free from the show, we probably would have done it, and I know I'd be just as happy with Mikey. But I'm glad we decided not to. I've loved being engaged, but I think I'm really ready to move to the next step. I've really treasured the time I've had as an engaged woman (even though I think saying 'fiance' is weird, but that's for another post), but I think I'm ready.

I'm ready to become a wife.

And as for all of those people who asked all of those invasive questions?

It's really easy to get them off your back. A nice, "Because that's what we decided we want for ourselves" works nicely, and if it doesn't, you can always throw out a half-joking, "Good point- you seem to know so much about our relationship and life together- any other mistakes we're making you'd like to point out?" really shuts up those persistent people who don't know you and are sticking their nose where it doesn't belong.

Any snarky comments about your engagement, or about how you're doing the whole wedding thing? Also, any additional come backs are always appreciated.


Picatures* of the Engagement Kind

*I did indeed mean to write it that way. It's so much fun to say!

For my birthday this year, Mikey and Sam asked me what I wanted to do- we had a pow wow about it, sitting around in our living room, drinking coffee. Chicago is pretty much my favorite place in the world, and so I told them I'd love to spend the day in Chicago with them both. We all had off the day before my birthday, and requested off for my birthday. We got all dolled up- Sam's present to me was to have my hair dyed and styled (yes!)- and headed down to the windy city. We brought along a bunch of alcohol, parked our car, filled our cups with mixed drinks, and started walking around. We had planned on going to the Field Museum (it was free that day) but we ended up getting there too late.

Instead, we walked over to the aquarium. They weren't having a free day, but since there was about an hour left for them to be open, they let us come in and wander, free of charge!*

*Note: free is one of my two favorite words. The other is mini. So anything that is free and mini? Hoooo boy, you better believe I'm in love with it.

We also had talked about possibly taking some engagement pictures that day- we were going to be in Chicago, after all, and if you read my engagement story (starts here, if you're interested on catching up what you missed!) you'll remember that Mikey actually proposed to me after a very long, special day in Chicago. So, amidst all the amazing drinking, free aquarium, random Mexican restaurant with *amazing* salsa, and before the comedy shows, we managed to do a mini engagement shoot. We plan on doing another one, too (oh, the benefits of having a friend who is a pro with a camera) but I think I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for these photos. Not only do they do a great job of showing my and Mikey's love for one another, they also help me remember the great day we all had in the city together.

Without further ado, here they are: the engagement photos.

Ok, so this last one is a joke, but it might be the picture that really expresses us the best.

Ever mix holidays or other special days with wedding stuff?


Ahh, Disappointment, we meet again.

In case you haven't already gathered from the title of this post, we did not succeed today in getting Bandit a girlfriend. We called this morning to make sure the people we were meeting up with were still ready to meet with us, and they informed us that they had given the dog away. Just that morning. Without calling us, first.

Good thing we called them, before Mikey and Sam took a two hour drive down to meet them, huh?

Well, the search isn't over- Mikey and Sam still went to Chicago to look for another dog, and although there were no winners today, we'll keep looking. Bandit deserves a lady friend, and we'd love to give a loving home to another dog.

However, dealing with this disappointment made me really think about disappointment in general. I kind of sort of don't do very well with disappointment. If I get my hopes up for something, and it gets dashed, I get rather upset. It's easy for me to slip into a day (or few) of sad-sack mopey-ness. It's not as if I get horribly depressed or anything, there's just a little raincloud following me around, and usually a little gift or really good hug or something to look forward to can break me out of it.

What's really, really strange about this, though, is that it's not really the same with our wedding. We've had to change our venue and our original idea of what we were going to do for the wedding, aren't able to pull off certain aspects, and it's weird- but I haven't suffered too much disappointment.

When we first got engaged (and, ok, you got me- a bit before, as well) I started reading a ton of literature (web-sites, magazines, books, you name it!) on weddings. There was a lot of good advice in all of them, but one piece of advice that really just got stuck in my head, I guess, was that you need to be flexible. Not everything is going to work out just the way you plan, and so it's good to not get too stuck on the details.

I think that's been both a blessing and a curse. It keeps me from getting too stuck on any detail, and missing out on the big picture. We've had to change from our first, nearly-ideal venue, and I'm really proud of myself for not lamenting over the loss- we've simply changed the venue. It's been nice, to let myself be flexible with this wedding, because so far, it's served me well. It's forced me to think of creative solutions to problems that come up, and more often than not, I like the second plan better than the original!

However, it's also been a bit of a curse- I'm flexible to the point where I've gone back and forth on menus and music and flowers, etc. I'll pick something, and then something pretty comes along and I change my mind. It's not bad to find something else that I love and want to incorporate into the wedding, but at this rate, I'm going to have one month to my wedding and re-doing the guest list and buying a fog machine and disco ball for our new disco-themed wedding (ok, I'm exaggerating this a bit, but you get my idea).

I think the best way to be is to really stick to your guns on a few important issues, and then if the rest doesn't work out quite as you plan, don't worry about it!

I believe I'm on my way to that mindset- for example, I am adamant about serving mead at our wedding, and I *will*, no matter what else I have to adjust to have that. The mead is very important to me, and I've dug my heels in for this issue. However, I do need to start buckling down and really making some decisions that will stick. It's alright if I am willing to go with the flow, but I need to start making more steady decisions.

So, I'm going to make a point to become more steadfast on my decisions- but if it doesn't work out how I've planned, that's ok too. It's going to be beautiful, no matter what.

Oh, and about that sad-sack mopey-ness? Well, we're going to look at puppies tonight :)

Do you have any great advice you've read/heard? Please share! I *love* getting advice.


New Addition to the Family!

Not a baby, of course. I had to say that, though, to catch your immediate and intense interest! However, although I have misled you, it's not by that much. Tomorrow we are hopefully getting a girlfriend for this guy:
Who has no thumbs and wants a playmate? This guy!

We love our dog, Bandit- he's a total sweetheart, and we wouldn't give him up for anything. He a beautiful, beautiful dog, and he wouldn't hurt a fly (well, I think he ate one, once- but I think it was a quick and merciful death). He's unbelievably well-behaved...when we're home.

He has a funny little quirk about him (common in most huskies) called separation anxiety.

When he is left alone, he freaks out. We once put him in a room we made for him in our basement (our "doggie" room), only to come home and find out he tunneled through the wood door. Yep, clean through it. He's also torn molding off of a door frame, scratched up carpet, and even once jumped through a screen window.

We tried to crate train him, but he tends to freak out and rub his nose on the bars, or claw at the cage, and he ends up hurting himself-which, of course, we don't want. Mikey's dad suggested getting doggie sedatives, but if we can help it, we'd rather not drug him.

Generally, one of us is home during the day, and most days when he's left alone, it's only for around three hours. Also, whenever we know we're all going to be gone a majority of the day, we have my brother come over and watch Bandit, in exchange for driving lessons. However, there are days we can't get him here, and so we resort to caging Bandit, and providing him with a myriad of distractions, in hopes he'll play with toys and peanut-butter filled treats rather than claw or bite at his cage.

So remember that time he jumped out of the screen window? Huskies have a tendency to run, and get lost for days, weeks, or forever.

Where did Bandit go? Over to a neighbor's house, to play with a dog. Bandit *adores* going to the dog park, and lately, he's been sighing in doggie discontent when he hears all the neighborhood dogs barking about how great it is to have friends.*

*This may not be an accurate translation-I'm not the most accurate barking translator-but I try.

We recently spoke to a few dog trainers who've had huskies before, and they've said the best way to cure a husky's separation anxiety is to get them a friend.

So, the roomies and I have decided we need to get him a one, and, preferably, a lady friend.

(Ok, so that's just Bandit in a bandana, but isn't he adorable? He looks like he's heading to the market to get a fresh loaf of bread and a dozen eggs.)

Aaaaaaand, we may have found one. Tomorrow, Mikey and Sam are dropping me off at school and heading to meet with a potential puppy pal. I'll definitely keep you updated if we do get a new friend (*crosses fingers*) and post pictures (of course!) of what will hopefully be a happy, new couple!

Because, really, this guy deserves to have whatever he wants :)

Do you have a furbaby you just adore? Do they have a furry pal to keep them company?


DIY: Bookmark save-the-dates!

So far, I've written about how we're going to be doing a lot of crafting, and how much I adore DIY activities- buuuut, I haven't written any posts on crafts! So, today, I figured I'd share with you how I make our photobooth save-the-date bookmark inserts we're going to be sending out with our invites.

You don't actually need a photobooth picture to do this- as long as you either have a willing friend, or a camera with a self- timer (and a little computer/photoshop know-how) you can make these pretty quickly and easily! The first thing to do is get that friend (or self-timed camera!) to take four pictures of you and your SO in different poses. Mikey and I made a few std bookmarks before, but then my computer crashed and I lost all of those photos, so we decided to take some new ones today, before we headed off to work/school. We took a bunch, and then narrowed it down to our four favorites.

All of these poses were fun to do, but the heart one was SOOO difficult! It took forever to perfect- we had the camera set for a 10-second timer, so we kept hitting the button, rushing back into place, trying to get our heads to be right behind our hands, and kissing. I also kept having to fix Mikey's hand, because that man just doesn't know how to make shapes with his hands. We did get it eventually, though, and I think that one is one of my top two favorites! If I ever want to attempt this again, however, I'm definitely having a friend assist us.

Next, edit the photos however you'd like- I tend to go with black and white, because I love the vintage photo look. You can really use whatever editing program you'd like, but I really enjoy picasa3- which is download-able online for free- you can download your copy here, if you're interested :)

Next, you want to re-size the pictures so that they're not *huge*. I re-sized them to about 40% of their original size, but this is going to differ for every different computer and original size- the best way to do this is just using trial and error. It may take a while, but the end result is worth it. You want the pictures small enough to fit on the width of a regular bookmark, with a little bit of room on either side.

After you re-size the pictures, open up paint (or any other equivalent program) and color the background whatever color you'd like- I chose black, again, to work with that whole vintage photo thing. Then I simply opened the pictures, one at a time, and put them on the black background, added our names, wedding date, and "save the date!" on the bottom, and our photobooth strip was done!

It's ok if you have an extra bit of background on one of the sides of the photos, just make sure the text on the bookmark is centered on the photos, not the width of the bookmark if you plan on fixing the extra. You can see on my photo, I have extra black on the right side, but I'll be chopping that off later, so I made sure our information was centered with the bottom photo.

Next, we come to the construction of the actual bookmark! Here are some supplies you need:

  • Cardstock
  • Mod podge
  • A paintbrush for the mod podge
  • A ruler
  • Scissors (or a neat razor/ruler thingy, as shown above)
Once you have all of your materials gathered, go ahead and print out the photobooth strip you made- you can do this either on regular paper, or on glossy. I find it works just fine on regular paper, but it's just a preference thing.

I've printed out this bookmark bigger than normal so it's easier for you to see what it's going to look like when it's done.

Go ahead and cut it out! This is the time to get rid of any extra background (like the stuff to the right of my pictures).

Next, line up the picture on the piece of cardstock that you want to use as the base of your bookmark- use the ruler to get an accurate distance all along the side of the photo strip.

Next, use the mod podge and put a thin layer on the underside of the photo strip, and put a book (or something heavy) on top so that it dries evenly.

Once you've let the photo dry (for about ten minutes), cut out your book mark to your desired width! Use a ruler or a a razor thingy like I have pictured above- I accidentally spilled mod podge on mine, so I used scissors-- and you can tell, the right side is a bit uneven.
When you're done, you have an adorable bookmark save-the-date! They're light, fast to make, and depending on how big you make them, you can easily generate 5-6 per page of printer paper as well as cardstock!

Do you have any great DIY save-the-date tips?

Getting down to business: The Venue

I've always said that I would marry Mikey in a parking lot, in a courthouse, on top of a mountain, wherever we could. And, although it's true, I'm glad to say that it won't come down to that.

The search for a venue was fun, but also extremely stressful at the same time. One of the most important characteristic we were looking for in a venue was that Mikey and I were looking for a venue that would let us serve our own alcohol. We'd be willing to pay for a bartender, but we wanted to be able to serve our own- partially because we've thrown quite a few parties over time, and it is so much cheaper to purchase your own alcohol in bulk- but more importantly, for our wedding we're doing a mead toast instead of a champagne toast. You might remember from this blog here that the first night Mikey and I met, he attempted to seduce me with some homemade mead. It was delicious! Mikey has a talent (and all the equipment) for making mead, and one of our 100% completely fixed plans for the wedding (we're flexible people, things get changed all the time) is the idea that we're going to provide a mead toast rather than a champagne toast, and the mead we serve is going to be our own, homemade mead.

As you might imagine, this eliminated a LOT of possibilities.

Which brings me to this little place on the lake front:

A beautiful view of Lake Michigan (he and I both love water), flowers blooming everywhere, and an amazing vintage school gym to celebrate in after. The price was right, we were ok with their caterers (we were originally planning on doing a picnic kind of dinner, but the caterer had mini soups- and I LOVE anything mini) and we really liked the owner of the building.

Unfortunately (you knew it was coming, didn't you?) they were very fixed on their alcohol policy. They had to provide all of the alcohol. And although renting the place was a super great deal, it was easy to see how they were doing it- their liquor prices were insane. Don't get me wrong, if we had over thirty thousand to spend on this wedding, we would have rented this place out in a second and payed the *ridiculous* amount for their alcohol.

For a while, we were sure we could make it work. We brainstormed over a variety of options:

-We just do open bar for one hour, and cash bar for the rest! (We vetoed this, because I really want to treat everyone who comes to our wedding, and that includes getting them as drunk as their pretty little hearts desire!)

-We could have a dry wedding (HA! No way in hell.)

-We could have an earlier reception there, and head to a different venue later on, for adult drinks (So much work...)

-And finally, the very ridiculous-- but considered at length-- solution: We have a pre-wedding picnic at a forest preserve nearby, and then have a one-hour open bar at the wedding. This seemed to work for a bit- we just do the desserts, dancing, and one-hour of free drinking at the venue, and we all eat together ahead of time.

We *really* loved this venue.

However, as time wore on, and we thought about how we would get people to the venue (we didn't want people driving drunk, but they couldn't leave their cars at the forest preserve), the little bit of ridiculousness of having a pre-wedding picnic just to have a certain venue that wouldn't give us everything we wanted, and the stress of having to prepare two different receptions. We sadly tabled the idea of our venue, and dove back into research.

After a few weeks of exasperation, surrounded by pamphlets of beautiful buildings and lake-front properties that all said "No Mead Allowed" (or any oustide alcohol, for that matter). One day, we were sitting in our own disappointing snowfall of pamphlets, when Mikey looked at me and said, "Why don't we just get married here?"

I looked at him, looked around us, and said, lifting up a bunch of pamphlets and letting them fall to the floor, "Right here?"

"Not in the living room, but here, in the backyard- at the house."


At first, I thought he was nuts. I was envisioning people crowding our driveways, abusing our bathrooms, heels digging up our tulips (ok, we don't have tulips, but it's the principal of the thing!), trashing the house, all of those horrible things that happen in a party movie where the parents leave town and the teenagers throw a party.

For a while, I said, "No way, that'd be horrible."

Then it turned into, "No way."

Then it turned into, "But really, isn't that a bit unrealistic?"

To "Well...maybe."

After a while though, we (mostly I- he was on board with that idea from the beginning) imagined some of the good parts: getting married in one of the last places that Mikey's mother was alive- plus, his mother has a little memorial on the property, as well, that we'd like to involve in the ceremony. We'd be able to control exactly what the venue looks like- no surprise wallpapering a week before our ceremony, or any construction we can't anticipate-- we can do whatever decorations we'd like. We have the next 8 months to prepare the site, instead of having to rush in the night before, and we don't have to limit our partying to certain hours. No-one else will be getting married on the same day at our venue (at least, I hope not!) and although there is still the possibility that someone could crash the wedding, there are about 12 people in our town, so we could afford to feed them. People can stay the night if they drink too much- or just want to keep the party going- so we can have a big camping, tent-pitching after party, with our friends right there in the morning to eat breakfast with and then send us off on our honeymoon.

And, best of all, we get to serve our homemade mead. :)

It's going to be hectic, and a little crazy, but I've come to love the idea. So yes- we're getting married right in our backyard. And I couldn't be happier about it.

Here are a few pics of the yard where the magic will be happening:

Where are you tying the knot? Is there anything keeping you from going with your dream venue?

Engagement: The third

Ahhh, the ending. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, and would like to catch up on the two posts before this one, look here and here. However, if you're not into the idea of clicking on those links, or scrolling down on my page, here's a quick blurb to sum up what's going on:

A romantic trio of blog posts about a man who proposes to a woman, and the incredible journey along the way. Join our hero and heroine as they brave the streets of Chicago, enjoying delectable food, and have their bodies slicked down in oil and rubbed by strangers! It's a non-stop, fun-filled action adventure that will have you eager to say "I do!" to the next installation.

So we last ended with Mikey and I, strolling along the lake front, when suddenly Mikey looks up from his watch and asks me if I'm up for running with him. Luckily for him, he packed me a nice pair of flats that day, along with heels, in case my feet got tired (good thinking, Mikey! Ten points to you!). I slipped them on, and off we went, him pulling me by the hand, dodging pedestrians through the streets of Chicago. It was a bit of a work-out, but it was a blast. His energy was contagious, and I knew that the big event had to be coming. We had to make a small pit stop along the way, but before I knew it, we had run all the way to the base of the Sears Tower.*

(*side note: I know it's now called the Willis Tower, or something along those lines, but that is just ridiculous, and I refuse)

Mikey was in a rush, and I didn't quite understand why- we had arrived, they weren't closing for a few hours, and it didn't seem like that bad of a line. Plus, Mikey had purchased the express passes, which let us bypass a ton of the line. Once we got to the top, Mikey pulled me by my hand, and we made it over to the windows that face Lake Michigan and Navy Pier. We stood there for a bit, just enjoying the scenery, but I could tell Mikey was nervous- he was kind of moving non-stop, and seemed a bit anxious.

The sun started to set, and Navy Pier began it's firework show.

Mikey moved behind me, got down on one knee, and pulled out a ring box.

He said to me, "Keighley- you are the most beautiful, incredible, intelligent, funny, loving, incredible woman I have ever met. Will you marry me?"
[yes, he said incredible twice- it was adorable]

I was super excited, and I cried a little. I said yes.

Mikey then told me that the ring had belonged to his mom, who passed away. It was such a touching moment, and I told him how much I loved the ring.

And this girl next to us FREAKED OUT. It was so amusing to both Mikey and I- once he got down on one knee, she started hitting her friends and telling them how he was proposing. All throughout the proposal, she kept saying "ohmigod that man is pro-posing right now", "that's so sweet, he's pro-posing", "that's so romantic, he's pro-posing!", etc- the whole time- almost as if we didn't know what he was doing. It was hilarious.

We've told people that before, and they've said things along the lines of, "How obnoxious/rude"- but we got engaged in a public place. It wasn't as if we had a secret picnic, and she popped out of the bushes and started telling us that he was proposing while he was doing it. It was on the Sears Tower!

On the fourth of July.

During the fireworks show.

Exactly a year from the day we first said I love you, during a fireworks show.

And it was perfect.

Us, standing on the ledge over Chicago after the proposal

What it looked like from where we were- it was so cool!

Mikey and I in the photobooth right after it happened :)

We were walking over the Chicago river on our way back to the train station, and we must have been just beaming with happiness, because this older couple asked us what we were doing. We told them that we just got engaged, and they offered to take a picture of us. They were older, so we were pretty sure we could run them down if they stole our camera, so we said yes-- and I'm so glad we did. This is one of my favorite pictures of that day, because it really captures how happy we were.


Did you have a funny moment on your engagement day?


Engagement: The second

In case you've joined us in the middle of our little venture, I'm doing a chronicled saga of the day known as: The Engagement. If you'd like to catch up on what you've missed, feel free to hop on down and check out this post.

Quick recap, in case you'd rather not do any more reading than you've planned to: Mikey picked out my outfit, fed me breakfast in bed, brought me to Starbucks to get a delicious drink, fake proposed with a bottle of mead from the same batch of mead that we drank the night we met, and we've hopped on a train, heads all giddy (with excitement AND mead).

So, would you like to know where we went?

While we were on the train, Mikey bought out another little ring box. I wasn't as gullible this time around, but he still went through with the whole charade, and said something along the lines of,
"Keighley, I love you very much, will you............(extended super dramatic pause).......go to Chicago with me?"

Of course, I said yes.

I adore Chicago. I used to hop on the train all the time as a high school-er, ride down to the windy city, and either just hang out in a coffee shop, or walk to the art museum and poke around. It's pretty much one of my favorite places in the entire world, and we went there. It was drizzly that day, so we brought an umbrella, and took some goofy umbrella shots while walking to our (unknown to me) destination.

As it turns out, Mikey had done his research! The day we went down, there was a special little event going on. Maybe (if you're from the midwest) you've heard of it?

That's right- for all of you out there who enjoy gorging on deliciousness, it was the Taste of Chicago!

We walked around and sampled a ton of food- unfortunately, after two of the dishes we tried, the camera batteries died! We ended up buying more batteries later, but we got a few candid shots of the food and us enjoying it.

Here's the Italian meatball sandwich- doesn't it look delicious?
(See the yellow-gold ring on my finger? That's the 'chicago' proposal ring)

Mikey LOVED that sandwich, so I think he ended up eating a bit more of it than I did.

That's ok, though, because I had my shrimp! I love eating shrimp-can't you tell from my face?

It was like an egg-roll shrimp with some sort of magical sauce that makes you forget about anything bad that's ever happened. Needless to say, it was incredible.

After a while of walking around the lake front, drinking, and stuffing our faces (heaven!) Mikey looked at his watch and told us we had somewhere to be. So, we walked to a train station and got on. I had no idea where we were going, but I was pretty excited.

When we stopped, we got off and walked to an unassuming brown brick building about five blocks away. Inside, we found Allyu spa (check them out here). It was such a great atmosphere While we waited for our treatment (still had no idea what we were doing) we had some refreshing cucumber water and our choice of teas. Mikey and I reclined on comfortable benches (which was nice, since we were doing a lot of walking that day-- not that I'm complaining!) and talked about our favorites so far from the Taste. We finally were called in to change into our robes, and Mikey reached into his magical bag he was carrying around (normally my school bag) and pulled out a ring box. He got down on one knee, and so I started to get a bit nervous. He looked up at me, doe-eyed and all, and asked, "Keighley, will you enjoy this couples massage with me?"

This time, though, it wasn't a 25 cent ring- it was my nice claddaugh ring that he had given me for our one year anniversary. The band has broken a few months before, and there were always things we had to buy instead of repairing it. Well, he had sneakily taken it out of its case, and had gotten it fixed without me knowing it was even gone!

We enjoyed our couples massage (his first massage ever, and my second), thanked the wonderful staff there, and headed back to the train to go back to the Taste. Mikey had gone online ahead of time (I know I keep obsessing about how he did things beforehand, but really- it's quite a feat for him) and found out where the single gyro stand was in the entire place. Gyros are our romantic food (yeah, we're bizarre, but it just kind of...happened?) and so we had a gyro dinner (we split one- it was huge and super yummy) and then walked to the wine/dessert area for chocolate covered strawberries and Moscato, and then enjoyed a small ferris-wheel ride.

It was just starting to turn to dusk, and we were still light-headed from all of the fun (and wine), walking by the shoreline, when Mikey looked at his watch, looked up at me, and said, "Ummm, we gotta go. Do you think you could do a bit of running with me?"

Want to find out where we ran to? Tune in next time, for the continuing adventure!

But first, one last picture: Here's Mikey, looking all smug while digging into his magic bag, before the massage. He's a sneaky one, alright!

Share your theories of where we ran to, below!

Also, share your favorite food- this post has me hungry :)