2013: What a Year!

Seriously. WHAT A YEAR. 2013 was crazy. It was without a doubt, the busiest, biggest year for me, probably ever. So far anyway.

To start with, I got married, had amazing bridal showers and a bach party, honeymooned in ‘Nawlins, had a second reception in my hometown in Indiana, and did all sorts of exhausting yet fulfilling tasks the whole way, from changing my name (post coming soon just about that process!) to planning the whole darn thing.

Thumbs up for my bridal showers

Thumbs up for my bridal showers

I got married! Whee!

I got married! Whee!

Honeymoonin' 'Nawlins style

Honeymoonin’ ‘Nawlins style

And that was just the wedding-related stuff! Yes, there’s more! Much more!

I also changed jobs. Twice. In a year. While I don’t like job-hopping, it really was all for the best. In March I left a job that I loved but had been at for many years, and for various reasons, I needed to leave. I took another job doing social media for about 7 months, where I learned so many cool new skill sets and had tons of fun going to free concerts, but my heart was longing to be a writer again, and so just before Thanksgiving, I started as an Internet Copywriter and Proofreader at a vitamin and health food company. Which I LOVE by the way. I really think this is where I was meant to end up, and I hope to be here for many moons to come.

Outside of the full-time work, I also took on freelance blog writing for a local custom dog products company, which gave me so much fulfillment in those months doing social media when I just had to be writing more. But even though I do that for work now again, I love it too and have no plans to give it up. (Shameless plug: Read my blogs here if you so wish!)

Oh, and you know, I also started THIS BLOG! Best decision ever!

My Ups (Besides getting married and starting new jobs, of course!)

-I became a bridesmaid for my bestie in Fargo who got proposed to in an epic way (flash mob in the park!), and we’re now planning her wedding and shower, which is so much more fun than planning your own wedding, dontchaknow.

-I became an official aunt to four nieces, one nephew, and now one more on the way! I also gained some new sibs, which is totes cool since I’m an only.

My new family! Photo courtesy Lori Anne Photography.

My new family! Photo courtesy Lori Anne Photography.

-We vacationed several times. In February, we celebrated our 8-year dating anniversary with a trip to St. Cloud and dined so much we waddled around uncomfortably full but so happy. In August, we met another couple at a campground for a weekend retreat of grilling, beach time, campfire hanging and general laziness. In September, we visited friends who had just moved to Canada and had a housewarming/board game playing/eating lots of food party. And in October, we went to our first professional sports game and saw the Vikings play the Panthers.

-Book club continued and we gained one new member. In all, I think we read four books this year (hey, don’t judge, we’re all busy people) — Malala, Gone Girl, Lean In, and the Snow Child.

-We combined car insurance and saved so much money!

-I couponed much more, watched sales more, started using money-saving apps like Cartwheel and ShopKick, made weekly meal plans, donated old stuff and decluttered the house. That makes me feel like such a good wife.

-I was interviewed in the paper about my extreme phobia of needles.

My Downs

I wrecked my car. Three times, technically, according to my insurance claims, though none were my fault! The first time was right when I started my first new job, and we had a big blizzard the day before, so roads were awful. I slid and my brakes locked up as I came up on the car in front of me at a stop sign, so rather than hit them, I turned into the snow drift, which turned out to be more of an ice cap than soft stop that dented Leslie good (yes, I name my car! Leslie the Legacy – she’s a champ). Then a month later, the day before my bridal shower, some jerkwad plowed into me going around a corner because he was too busy texting to look and see me coming and caused almost $5,000 worth of damage! Thank God I had good insurance, though I still had to pay my deductible and over a week’s worth of car rentals because said jerkwad didn’t have his own insurance (grumble grumble). Then lastly, on the interstate a semi truck in front of me kicked up a nice-sized rock, which hit my windshield, cracking it and nearly giving me a heart attack. Again, thank God for insurance because that time I didn’t have to pay a dime. Progressive, I am so thankful for you this year.

Leslie got a little beat up this year, poor girl.

Leslie got a little beat up this year, poor girl.

My Firsts

-With my upcoming wedding as an excuse, I treated myself to some new beauty treatments for the first time. I got my first brow wax, facial and professional dermabrasion. The facial was relaxing and amazing. The microdermabrasion was kind of terrifying. It was like one of those rollerball perfumes where the ball was sandpaper and was rigorously pushed into and around my face like a jackhammer. Ouch.

-I did one of those restaurant tours, both of which were themed around bacon, so I ate some amazing baconified dishes around town with my foodie friend.

Baco, aka taco with a bacon shell

Baco, aka taco with a bacon shell

Maple bacon cupcake

Maple bacon cupcake

-I went to the county fair in Fargo for the first time and saw another free concert (Hinder, which was just like listening to them on the radio. meh!) and ate so much fried food on a stick.

Fried mac and cheese.

Fried mac and cheese.

Deep fried banana with sugar and caramel. The highlight of the fair, for sure.

Deep fried banana with sugar and caramel. The highlight of the fair, for sure.

-We started our home search and took a homebuyer’s education course, met with a realtor and looked at two houses.

-I joined a professional group that meets now and then to talk ab0ut our trade. I went to a few Meetups so far and find it so inspiring and helpful, and it makes me feel grown up and connected.

-I took control of our finances and made a real financial plan to tackle our debt and save for that first house. Thanks to Amberly for the inspiration! Blog post about this coming soon too. What a process, but so worthwhile. Wish I had done it sooner.

-I became more conscious of my style and finally took to heart that looking good makes you feel good, so I try harder now at having a nice appearance. This included buying into some trends and purchasing my first fashion scarf (cat print, of course), cool yet practical boots and skinny pants. Having a friend that’s a Lia Sophia advisor helps a lot too since I get awesome jewelries from her.

New Fave Things I Discovered

-Belvita dunked in coffee. I had been eating Belvitas for awhile, but one time this year I dunked it in my coffee on a whim, and my world changed. It’s been my breakfast at least three times a week now ever since.

-Quinoa. How had I missed out on this for so long? I think I thought it was “hipster” or “healthy” so never bothered, but now with my new job that’s made me more health-conscious, I gave it a whirl, and it is just so amazing.

-HGTV. Again, how did I missed out on this so long?! I’ve never been inclined to tune to this channel before, but once we started talking about getting a house, I thought what the heck and recorded some House Hunters and My First Home. I was hooked. Apparantly my husband is too because he discovered Property Brothers just recently and we watched about five episodes of that in a row.

Things I Learned

-It’s important to be open and honest with your feelings to those you love. When you hold back, all it does is enforce poor communication and unclear expectations. I learned this during wedding planning, my wedding itself, and many times after. It’s something I have to try hard at, but I’ve found it makes a world of difference and makes you closer to those you love and enforces bonds.

-I don’t like tea. I have been trying to like tea for awhile now, and gave it another shot very recently, but I find myself choking it down every time. The bigger moral of the story is it’s OK to admit something isn’t working. Give up and move on so you can focus energy on the more important things. This means I need to bring my new box of tea to a friend who does sincerely like it. Present coming your way, Jenna!

Wrap Up

Again, what a year. I have no clue how I made it through. I’ve never felt so busy in my whole life. But, I did it, and that makes me feel good. I can tackle anything now, right? We’ll see, because I have some lofty resolutions for 2014, which I shall reveal soon!

I Never Believed in Santa. So What?

I’m going to air some grievances here. While reading my digest of newlywed blogs this morning, I came across one that I will respectfully not name, that for the first time, offended me. Everyone is entitled to their own feelings and beliefs, but what I don’t like is when it feels like someone is telling me that mine are not as good.

Here’s the deal: I never believed in Santa. As a child, my mom told me that Santa wasn’t real, but that lots of my friends and other kids believe in him, so I shouldn’t ruin anything for them, but it was important to her that I knew the truth. It was nothing against the jolly fake man. I think it was mostly because she just didn’t want to build this guy up so much then leave me crushed when I found out the truth later. It also may have had something to do with knowing that the presents I received were from my family members and friends, not some dude from the North Pole. I don’t really know her real reasons though, but that’s my guess. I should ask her some day.

The thing is, I don’t feel like it affected my childhood in any way. I still got photos at the mall on Santa’s lap, watched Christmas movies, we still did plenty of other Christmas traditions like making cookies, singing and decorating the tree. So I had plenty of other magical, fun things to believe in and give the holiday some spirit. Santa did not take anything away from my childhood.

So I did take offense to this blog post today that ranted and raved about how awful it is for parents to ruin Christmas by telling their kids Santa wasn’t real. She went on and on and was so worked up over it. To each their own I say. You belived in him, a lot of people did, but that doesn’t give reason to place your judgments on others who had a different experience. Maybe I think it’s weird that you DO believe in him, but I’m not going to make a big deal out of it.

A comment the author made later on another comment explained that she wrote in a heat-of-the-moment emotion fest, but that she still stuck to her feelings that she thinks it’s sad that kids wouldn’t believe in Santa and that she thinks it’s out of our society’s trying to be politically correct. I think that it has nothing to do with that. It just wasn’t a big deal. And it’s certainly not sad.

I’m not sure if I will tell my own kids about Santa. I don’t think there’s much harm either way, so we’ll see I guess. But Santa aside, isn’t the most important part of Christmas spending time with those you love, making memories and remembering the true meaning of Christmas? I think so. Whatever your beliefs are.

My Personality Style

For work, I got to take a personality assessment to evaluate what type of worker I am and what traits I have. The point is to use it to see how different personality types can work together, understand each other and get results for the good of the company.

I know there’s many different assessments out there, but the one we used have four personality types – dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness, standing for DISC. I tested as a C, with S a close second. This meant that I am analytical, reserved, precise, private and systematic. Secondly, even-tempered, accommodating, patient, humble and tactful. The opposite of the other two types that were dominant, outgoing, lively, direct, forceful, firm and strongwilled.

It’s really not surprising, but then the report went on and things got eerie. It went on to describe my work style and what I do well with and what aggravates me. It said that I want a sense of security, want clearly defined expectations, work in a calm manner, avoid high pressure situations, am diplomatic, dislike conflict, but can get bogged down in the minor details and specifics. Accuracy is most important to me, which makes sense as an editor. That’s pretty much my job to be accurate and consistent, detail oriented. My stressors were listed as making decisions without time for analysis, dealing with chaos, being unprepared and taking risks.

Then one statement the report made hit me hard. It said: “You have a strong need for harmony in your relationships, so you tend to be considerate of others’ needs. You’re unlikely to display anger or impatience, so people are comfortable asking you for help. In fact, you’re often willing to put your own needs aside to give the support that’s needed.”

Dead on. All of it.

Who knew answering 20 or so questions would tell me exactly what I’m like. Even in ways that I kind of knew, but didn’t really acknowledge till it hit me in the face.

The thing that struck me was how similar all of those statements were when it came to my wedding. I made SO MANY lists, I overanalyzed every single minor detail, I triple checked everything, I made sure all details were outlined and planned for. And when things did get stressful and chaotic, I couldn’t handle it. Hence my meltdown in the apartment over ice cream. But I tried so hard to never show any of it. I wanted to appear calm and collected through it all. I wanted to handle every detail and not ask for help so I wouldn’t bother anyone else.

But, just like this report said, I need those other personality styles in my life to give me balance and help me out. I couldn’t have made it in the end without my husband, friends or family. I do tend to surround myself with people who are far more outgoing than I am. Probably because I like balance. Also, I’m a Libra. I live on trying to be balanced and fair.

Put two shy people in a room alone and neither will say much. I need to lean on those different than myself to bring out those less dominant traits in myself. That’s one thing I love most about my husband. He says without hesitation the things that I’m thinking, but am too nervous or shy to say aloud for fear of judgment. And I like that. I wish I were more like that. I can be passive-aggressive, because it’s easier than being direct and to the point, which I think made me a bad manager at my old job. But in the new enlightened and aware me, I should try more to push myself to say what I’m thinking, because it’s OK to give my opinion and share what I’m feeling. And if someone doesn’t like it, oh well. That’s the part I struggle with. I want to be liked. But I know that if someone doesn’t like me for some silly reason, then it’s their loss. It’s something I have to remind myself. To “Lean In” more. Speaking of, have any of you read “Lean In?” If not, do it. Best book for women in the workplace, or anywhere.

I’m not saying I need to change my personality, because I know we’re all unique and should embrace it. But I do think it’s healthy to be aware of your traits and sometimes push yourself to go outside of your comfort zone to challenge yourself, because it’s a great way to grow as a human being.

That’s part of what this blog is for me. A public space to air my thoughts and feelings. Don’t like it? Stop reading! I’ve found the strength finally to take that attitude here, so let’s see if I can do it in other aspects of my life too. Phew!

Meal Planning and Eating Better

Growing up, I have no clue if my mom planned out our meals or if she just winged it. I just ate whatever was in front of me. And it was always a well balanced meal. Then in college, bad habits started. I snacked. A lot. Like, almost all the time, often skipping real meals to instead chow down on Cheetos. If I did eat real food, it was likely microwaved mac and cheese or cold cereal, with or without milk.

When I visited my cousin’s family throughout college (they were the closest family members to me there), Keisha would often have written out meals for the week. I didn’t think much about it besides “neat” at the the time.

Then I started getting older and could no longer use the college excuse for eating poorly. But I still did anyway. I ate slightly better when I got my first apartment, cooking maybe one real meal a week … like with veggies and stuff! I enjoyed cooking, but I was suffering from laziness and making excuses. I ate terribly for a long time, and it never really bothered me.

When I became engaged, my senses sort of became heightened. I was more aware of my choices in many aspects of my life. One of the things I vowed to do was cook more, dine and take out less, (for financial reasons too) and be healthier. Not that I need to lose weight, because I was blessed with a pretty good metabolism, but just for overall good health.

I recalled Keisha’s weekly meal plans and went out to buy a weekly meal list planner that sticks to our fridge and set out to do the same. So far, I’ve actually been sticking to it, and it’s one of the best things I’ve done. I’m saving money on groceries because my purchases are thought out and based on the food I actually plan to use (rather than buying junk food just because, and throwing half of it away too), and it’s making us eat better, more balanced meals with leftovers for the next day.

I was too embarassed of the fridge clutter to take a picture of the magentic planner, but here’s a post-it instead of our meal plan for this week. 2013-12-17_12.01.29

The chowder I made on Sunday was SO GOOD. Thank God for Pinterest. I use it all the time to find recipes. Here’s how it turned out:

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I’m couponing more too and using money-saving apps like Shopkick and Cartwheel, which is such a great addition to the new me, a wife. At the store, I had coupons for buy one get one free bags of meatballs and packages of chicken thighs, so I saved like $15 just one those things, and will incorporate them into our meals this week. I love this feeling.

I also tried quinoa for the first time a bit ago, and it was so good. So, I’m being brave and trying my own first attempt and making it into some chili. Wish me luck!

In addition to my meal planning, I’ve been more aware of my snacking too. It’s easier to make better choices now that I work for a health food and vitamin company, so I found some snacks that are really yummy and good for me. Win win! Here’s my new favorite item:

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I also have some dried mango slices that are incredibly tasty. I even got myself some supplements to round out my diet:

2013-12-17_12.05.28

Anyone who knows me probably thinks I’ve gone crazy or got abducted by aliens because I’ve been so unhealthy for so long. But now I have more motivation because I have a husband, and maybe some day, will have kids, so I have to learn better habits and make better choices. Another reason is I thought that healthy things tasted bad or were hard work. Seriously, they don’t and it’s not. Who knew!

TV wives and moms I admire

I know that TV and movies often don’t portray the real world…even reality TV isn’t so realistic. But maybe that’s why I like it so much. Regardless, there are some people on TV that I absolutely love for various reasons. A small handful of women on TV I really admire. Some are actual people and some are just characters, but each of them have qualities that I wish I could embody. And even though some of the shows and situations are fake, I think each woman is genuinely a good person and a good mom/wife.

-Linda Belcher, aka the mom from Bob’s Burgers. I love stupid, crude humor, and that’s why I love this show. Every single episode makes me genuinely laugh. The characters are simply fantastic. Tina is my favorite of them all, but I also really love Linda because I kinda wanna be like her. One, because of her random outbreaks of song. Two, because she loves her husband and loves her kids and would do anything to protect them, but she also has her own life and realizes that she has to let them screw up in order for them to grow.

-Claire Dunphy, aka the mom on Modern Family. Phil, Claire’s husband is my favorite character, but again, Claire is the kind of mom I hope to be. She’s kind of like the more frazzled version of Linda Belcher. She’s trying so desperately to balance parenting and being in her kids’ lives while re-entering the workforce, dealing with her accident-prone, well intentioned but kind of ditzy husband, and so many other family dynamics. Despite her overstressed and trying-too-hard exterior, she really cares about her family and admits that even she has a lot to learn about it all. And she’s deeply in love with her husband, despite his sometimes obvious flaws.

-Roseanne Conner, aka the mom from Roseanne. Again, I really feel like Roseanne is a very similar mom to Linda and Claire. She loves her family so much, but lets them screw up. I don’t want to call it a hands-off approach because it’s not, but it’s also not micromanaging. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t worry about them, because she does, but she also has to be a parent while working a job she doesn’t really love but tries to make the most of it, and with a husband who has his own issues, and they have their struggles, but they always make it work. I also like how she admits to her struggles, and they’re worked out in a more accurate way than in other TV shows. It seems far more real to me than how it is on shows like Family Matters and Full House (albeit great shows as well, but just not very representative of how real people deal with real life).

-Tia and Tamera Mowry. This will likely not be the first post in which I gush about these girls. I absolutely adore them. I liked their show Sister Sister growing up, but it’s their new reality show, Tia & Tamera, that made me fall in love with them. They are both just so genuine. They are kind and nice and friendly and down to earth and just awesome women. They don’t seem like they’ve let fame define them, and they’re still real people, and very relatable. I admire how open they are with their lives, the decisions they’ve made, their insecurities, their careers and their relationships. They have struggles too, but the deal with them the best way they can. But even when they’re down, they always maintain their sense of humor. They love to laugh, and they love to love. I think they’re great moms and great wives (though in very different ways from each other). They just make me so happy, and I want to be their friend. When I watch their show, I feel like it’s an hour I get to hang out with my girlfriends. They make me laugh and they make me cry.

What famous women (real or characters) do you admire?

My Weekend

Well, I had the best intentions of writing this on Monday … but then TV happened. I get sucked in every time.

Anyway, what a great weekend I had! I love those weekends when you feel super accomplished and actually cross some things off your to-do list.

I made homemade bath salts for a few friends’ Christmas presents from a post I found on Pinterest. I had set aside about an hour of time to do it … and it only took 5 minutes tops! I was astounded how easy it was! Seriously, ridiculously easy. All I did was mix together Epsom salts, sea salt, peppermint essential oil and some red food coloring, then divided it into a few different jars and wrote my own labels. Of course it’s not nearly as cute as the pin itself, but I still feel super proud of it. I’m putting the salts into a “spa day” basket along with some fizzy bath bombs, lotions, lip and eye masks, lip balm, etc. This is the first year I had the desire to make my own DIY gifts, and now that I know how fun and easy it is, next year I’ll do even more!

I also did some major house cleaning. There was a nice layer of dust forming along the register and in the crack between the dresser and wall in the bedroom, and it was really grossing me out. We ended up pulling the bed all the furniture out and vaccuming along the entire wall and in between every crevice we could find, and dusting every ledge that was icky. I reorganized the top of my dresser where I keep my jewelry, deodorant, perfume, etc., and just those few touches made the bedroom feel so nice and new again.

Then there was the kitchen table. The table that daunts me every time I come in. I seriously stare at that table and just feel dread. It was piled high with pieces of mail, magazines, stamps, books, coupons, bills, phone books, gloves, keys, pamphlets, folders, to-do lists, and who knows what else. The dumping ground every time we come in the door. Pretty much ever since we got married 6 months ago, I’ve been meaning to clear it off and clean it up, and I just kept saying “next weekend.” Finally, I had it, and I had some motivation from cleaning the bedroom, so I said, “today’s the day!” It wasn’t even that bad once I started. Less than an hour later, the table was clear and oh so pretty again. I do want to go buy a cute mail sorter some day to prevent that from happening again. Now I look at that table and smile. Ahhh.

At my company's holiday party

At my company’s holiday party

Then Saturday night was the holiday party for my new work. Man, was this an affair! They rented a big venue (we had 500 employees plus their plus-ones to accommodate, after all), had an open bar, giant buffet line of awesome food, DJ and dancing, and giveaways every half an hour. They gave away stuff like iPads and KitchenAid mixers, and I even won a portable grill! Woohoo! This was far more than any other Christmas party I had ever been to. It. Was. So. Cool.

We took a coupley photo to remember the night, but I wish we had taken it right away when we were fresher instead of halfway through, but oh well.

Then, my best friends’ parents were visiting from Maine, so we met them for brunch, and it was so good. It was a buffet brunch, and everything was delicious. Even the coffee was so good. And they brought it out on a cute little platter with a mug, teeny stirring spoon and a little creamer pourer thingy. Made me feel fancy schmancy.

Then we went back home, putzed around the house some more, watched some TV and called it a night.

What’s the coolest Christmas party you’ve been to?

Wedding Day Confessions and Regrets

(Sorry, really long post ahead)

Just yesterday I read this amazing and honest blog post from The Florkens about how she did not enjoy her wedding. In short, she enjoyed PARTS of her wedding, but was frustrated, stressed and disappointed looking back on it as a whole. (Read the whole post here.) I can’t blame her. She had some major mishaps.

The post really resonated with me, and I so appreciated her openness. Because honestly, I’m not 100% sure I did either. Now, hear me out. Overall, I think I am far happier with my own day than she was hers, but I definitely have lots of regrets. I often wish I had a time machine to go back and redo that day, and many days leading up to it, but then again, I do believe that you have to live and learn. A wedding is something you’ll probably only have one of, so I do feel a little sad that I can’t redo it like I could a birthday party or something. But, we can’t live a life full of regrets. So I try to move on and accept that in the end, the important part of that day, and its entire purpose in the first place, was to marry the man I love. I may not be able to redo it personally, but I can share some of the lessons I learned with bloggy land, and my best friend who is currently planning her own wedding. I’m inundating her with tons of advice, and maybe it’s too much, but she hasn’t told me to back off yet, and seems to want to hear it, so I keep giving it. I figure that hopefully she can learn from my mistakes anyway.

But then again, even if someone had told me everything that I’m telling her, I don’t know how much of it I would actually would have taken. It’s one of those things where you have to learn it on your own. You have to do it your own way, hope for the best, and deal with whatever comes up.

Just some of my lessons learned/reflections from/thoughts/regrets are:

-Not having a photo booth. I don’t have nearly as many photos of my guests as I’d like, and now I’m having a hard time remembering who was there for what parts.

-Investing so much in so much. I intended to have my entire wedding for under $10k. I know I went over that, but I purposely haven’t calculated how far over I went because I’m afraid to find out how bad it was. Instead of outlining and sticking to every expense within a budget, I just haphazardly bought things I liked whenever I found them. “Oh, this ribbon is cute. I’ll buy it. Hopefully I can use it somewhere.” I didn’t. That scenario happened a lot.

I also spent a lot on my bridesmaids gifts. Probably too much. I really wanted each girl to feel super special and to know how much she meant to me, so I showered them with stuff. No, not like all-expense paid trips to Hawaii or anything, but a lot for me and my budget. I bought personalized tote bags (which alone were my entire budget for their gifts), but instead of stopping there, I filled the tote. They each got a pair of flipflops, a necklace and earring set, a DIY survival kit that included items like sewing kits, gum, mints, chocolate, hair spray, body spray, nail files, nail polish, eyeshadows, combs, safety pins, bobby pins, and even more stuff that I just can’t remember, plus my maid of honor and matron of honor also got personalized compacts. They loved their gifts, which warmed my heart and made me think it was all worth it. But, now I’m questioning if it was. Because it made me max out my credit cards (yes, plural cards), I’m far in debt and ruined my credit score and chances of getting a house as soon as I wanted. So while I’m glad I got them so much stuff and they loved it, was it really worth it? Cal got his groomsmen engraved beer steins. That’s it. He spent on those what I spent on the tote bags alone. And they loved them just as much as my girls loved their stuff. So, was it quantity or the thought that counted? I’m torn on that one. Mostly because right now I hate how irresponsible I was with my money. I spent a lot that I did not have.

But it wasn’t just on our wedding party gifts. I overspent in every area that wasn’t big. See, I rationalized it by thinking I could get more little stuff because I got really good deals on the big stuff. My photographer was a good friend who gave me an incredible rate. My caterer also shaved off some of the price just because he was 5 minutes late to our consultation. My dress was from David’s Bridal and my budget was $1,000, but my actual dress was only $650. Win! I ordered nice but fake flowers on Etsy instead of using real flowers. So since I saved in those areas, I could spend a little extra elsewhere, right? Yeah, if I didn’t go overboard. But I did. I bought pretty much everything brand-new when I could have rented or bought used. I didn’t coupon and watch sales nearly as much as I should have. UGH. I am literally still paying the price for those decisions.

-I was too worried about everyone else having a good time that I didn’t allow myself to. By the reception, I caved, and man did it feel good. After the meal, I just sat at our empty table for a long time, acting like I was picking at my food so no one would think I was being anti-social, but really, that was my time to breathe. I tried to look kind of busy, but I really just needed to sit and not talk to anyone. I had been talking and smiling and hugging all day.

-During photos, we were a little rushed on time (not as much as the Florkens – they had only 20 minutes!). We did all the posed shots with family members first so that they could leave and have a small break before the reception, but I truly regret that now. Because I don’t have nearly as many photos as I’d like of the wedding party, and mostly, of Cal and myself. We have some, but I wanted tons. I really really want so many more of just us. Too late now. We had to end before I felt done so we could stay on schedule. I should have put my foot down and demanded we finish, because in that moment I knew we didn’t have everything I wanted, but everyone else was eager to leave, so I wanted to make them shut up happy. Was it their wedding day? No, it was ours. But I lost sight of that.

-I didn’t stalk my husband during the reception dancing. After my much-needed moment alone “poking at my food,” I really wanted to spend lots of time dancing with and talking to Cal. But, he ran off to the upstairs hotel bar, and was outside with his family probably about half of the entire reception. I was not happy about it, but instead of going to get him, I just complained about it and danced with my girls. Which I enjoyed too, but I really wanted my new husband! Where was he?!?! Someone grabbed him for the crucial moments like the cake cutting, garter toss and first dance, but those aside, I barely saw him. I knew he wanted time to catch up with his family and relax too, but he missed a lot of moments inside where I was. Some of the songs he had requested and that we were looking forward to he completely missed. I should have hunted him down and told him he will NOT leave me again. I had envisioned us spending that entire evening side by side, but I never really conveyed that to him. After my table moment alone, I went back to caring about everyone else but myself and let him do what he wanted. Maybe I should have joined him, but I didn’t want to leave the people that were still in the ballroom. What would they have thought if neither of us were there? But who cares? It was OUR day. The one day we had full right to do whatever we wanted. But I didn’t capitalize on that. Sighs.

-I wasn’t in the moment. I didn’t take time outs to just sit and breathe. It started like right away, too. My makeup took longer than I had planned for, so I had to ditch my mom and leave right away to rush to the other salon to get my hair done. Which made me feel really frantic. During my hair, I was delivered an Edible Arrangement from my friends who weren’t able to make it that day, and while I ate it, that’s the last moment I remember feeling any kind of calm. As soon as I finished it, I started freaking out that my videographers weren’t at the salon yet, and they were supposed to be filming me getting my hair did. Then, afterward, I ran to the hotel/reception site to drop off my overnight bag and pick up a bridesmaid so we could drive to the ceremony together. We were behind, but still needed to eat, so ran to get some fast food, and I sped on the interstate to make it to the ceremony site and finish getting ready. That is when the day really starts getting fuzzy. It may have been an entire hour, I really don’t know, but I swear, it felt like not even 5 minutes. I felt more frantic than I ever had in my life. At one point, I was trying to put my shoes on, and I was falling over, and I was yelling for help, but my girls were running around panicking just as much as I was (I think?) and I got upset that no one was helping me, even though I know they had to get ready too. When Cal’s sister was putting my necklace on, I remember feeling so overwhelmed that I was making this awful face that actually made it onto the video. Then, my mom never showed up to our dressing room. She was nowhere in sight. I hadn’t seen her since like 9 am at the makeup place. I had her corsage and was upset she wasn’t there. Granted I had never told her to be there, but I assumed she would be. So I made a bridesmaid literally run across the museum grounds to hunt her down so she could wear her corsage. I was actually really upset she wasn’t with me getting ready. Again, I had always envisioned she’d be there, but never told her to be. The next time I saw her was in the church as I walked in to Halo, my version of Here Comes the Bride.

I don’t remember much of the ceremony either. I know stuff happened, but the thing that stands out the most was Cal’s pocket square was crooked, and I kept staring at it. I think I actually tried to fix it while we were standing up there. I don’t recall the vows much if at all, and I have no clue what message the pastor gave. Something about cats was in there and that we met at Perkin’s to discuss the ceremony earlier. That’s seriously all I remember. Then all of a sudden we were skipping down the aisle, and next thing I know, I’m hugging 130 people in the receiving line and we’re walking through bubbles. Then photos, which were rushed, and the groomsmen were complaining about everything, which made me furious, but I let it go. In the party bus to the reception, I remember a little more, probably because I was forced to sit down. But I was worrying about the reception and how we’d do the grand entrance, wondering if everything was decorated properly, if the food was there yet, etc.

So in short, I was rushed, stressed, overwhelmed, worried and tired. And I should have not worried about anything that day. Who cares if the ceremony started a little late? It would have been worth it to take 5 minutes to just sit and savor the moment while we got ready. I had intended on finding a moment before the reception to just sit alone with Cal, but that never happened because we were rushing to coordinate the grand entrance.

Anyone else out there reading this who has yet to get married, I hope you can learn from my mistakes. I know I have even more regrets than I listed here, but I have to stop writing this novel sometime. If you are already married, what lessons did you learn? What would you do differently?

Ten favorite things about the holidays

Welcome to December, eh?! Here in Fargo, we have a storm on the way. The HIGH in a couple days is 8 below. Sigh. The less than ideal weather here aside, the holidays are pretty awesome. So, here’s my 10 favie things about the holidays. Part of Brianna from Endlessly Beloved‘s linkup!

Endlessly BeLoved

1-The food. Always. Specifically, my pumpkin cheesecake recipe, courtesy of Miss. Paula Deen.

2-The lights. Come on, Christmas lights just make you so happy.

3-Decorations. I love making my home look festive, from stockings on the wall till we have a proper mantel, and cute little figurines. One of these days I hope to get a nice Nativity set to display. For now, my cute little glittery snowman from Pier 1 will do.

4-Spending more time with family and friends!

5-Presents. I actually love the list making process every year, writing down everyone I need and want to buy gifts for, and what I plan to get them, then, going out and finding something for everyone. It makes me feel so fulfilled.

6-Receiving some prezzies too. Unwrapping a mystery is so fun!

7-Costumes for the pets. Captain has a reindeer antler hat, and Little Girl has a Santa beard. Better bring those out soon and take some pics, eh?

8-Holidays parties and treat sharing at work!

9-Doing all of the above things now as a wife! Wheee!

10-Sharing all my holiday related experiences on my new bloggy!

Candles, Christmas & Paul

I really want to keep on publishing thoughtful blog posts about married life, but in this job transition, and the holidays, I just feel far to busy to write something intelligent. So … here’s what I’ve been up to! Thoughtful posts to come again soon.

I found this super awesome project on Pinterest to upcycle old candles. You know after your old ones finish burning, there’s still a good amount of wax left there in the bottom and it seems like such a waste to just throw them away? (And we go through a lot of candles.) This project was perfect. So, I took some of my old candles and got ’em ready to turn ’em into a pretty new one.

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It was so easy. All I needed was to buy some new wicks (found a small pack at Michaels) and one new clean jar. Place the wick in the new jar. Put one of the old candles in a pot of boiling water, and shortly the wax will melt again. Pour it into the new jar. When that layer has hardened, boil the next candle and pour on top. Repeat till the new jar is full or you’ve emptied all old candles. Voila!

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I’m so excited for my new candle. Isn’t it so pretty, especially knowing it came from stuff that otherwise would have been thrown away?! Now I can keep doing this over and over and be less wasteful. I’m not much of a natural crafter, but this project seemed practical and easy, so I went for it. So glad I did!

On another note, I’ve never been much for celebrating Christmas till after Thanksgiving. It only seems fair. Plus, since I worked retail for years, I’ve heard far more Christmas music than I ever wanted to, starting all the way in October. Not even kidding. Penney’s played the same about 6 songs over and over. And over and over. And over. And for three months, several hours a day … Sucked all the joy right out of me. But, when the time is proper (aka, after Thanksgiving), I am all for getting festive. You won’t catch me listening to Christmas music if I have a choice, but I do love decorations and getting the lights out. And so the tree came out (granted a small one since we live in an apartment), lights were placed and lit, stockings hung on the wall, and my cute little Pier 1 snowman came out from the closet. I love that feeling.

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We also got some Christmas shopping done, and I am proud to say we are about 75% finished. We even wrapped what we had so far just to keep the momentum going.

Cal gave me a list of some things he’d like to receive, and while he’ll get some of them, I still want to give a thoughtful, unexpected gift. This can be hard sometimes, especially now that we got so much stuff we needed from the wedding, and I used up a lot of my clever ideas in past birthdays, anniversaries, etc. I like to go for humorous things most of the time, like shirts with witty sayings or a coffee mug in the shape of a toilet. Buying for men can be tough though. Any of you readers have some good ideas? What are you getting for your guys?

Speaking of gifts, it brings me to the last point for today. This weekend was Cal’s birthday. My present was a t-shirt that said, “Big gulps, huh? Well, see you later!” It was a perfect gift because he always needs more shirts, and Dumb & Dumber is probably his favorite movie. The other one is Good Will Hunting, which we previously only dad on VHS, so I also got him the DVD of that. We’re trying to replace all our old VHS’ since our player doesn’t work. I do wonder though how long till those are near extinct too. Oh well, things will always keep changing.

Wow, ramble much? Anyway … Paul Walker died. And it is soo sad. I feel like I need to stop having celebrity crushes because they keep dying. Not even kidding, years ago, Heath Ledger was my No. 1 droolworthy celeb man crush. His hair, his accent, his mouth, his movies, gosh I loved him. Then he died. Paul Walker had been my No. 2 man crush right after Heath. After Heath died, it didn’t seem right to keep him in my No. 1 spot, so I moved Paul up. Then he just kept getting more and more good looking anyway, and oh my gosh, his eyes. I watch all the “Fast & Furious” movies for Paul and Tyrese. But now, Paul is gone too. And it is awful. I will admit, I don’t think he was the best actor. But that didn’t matter. He seemed like a truly great guy. Plus, he was oh so pretty. The details of his crash are so hard to read. It’s truly awful. I actually teared up hearing about it. Then I saw Tyrese at the crash site, and oh my gosh. How touching. I loved seeing that. It was heartwarming. In the midst of the sadness. Seeing young guys die far too soon is awful. They had so much life ahead of them and so much more to contribute to the world. And they both leave behind a daughter. I can’t imagine losing a parent so young. And their families! Ugh.

I just don’t know what more to say about that. And it’s really late, so it’s off to bed. Wow. Didn’t mean to have such an up and down post. Sorry guys. Again, I promise thoughtful posts are coming again soon.