After 14 loooong months of crazy bride planning, the wedding week is here!!  I have just a few things left to cross off of my dwindling list (thank the Lord) and after that, all I have to do is sit back and let my meticulously planned schedule do its thing while I marry the love of my life-- it sounds so nice and easy and SO SO WORTH IT when I think of it like that!  

My parents flew in on Saturday afternoon and we met up with them at their hotel to plan our attack for the evening.  We ventured out in the crazy windy rain to BJs to stock up on the items for the out-of-town gift bags, then went for a much-needed relaxing dinner and a few drinks before heading home for the night.  We were all up bright and early yesterday morning, only to be greeted by SNOW.  Seriously-- the weather was insane and I was so glad that we opted for a November 8th wedding instead of November 1st!  My mom and I ventured out to wrap up a few last minute details and hit the grocery store, then came back to our apartment to watch football with the boys.  

I dragged out all of my wedding stuff to show my mom everything since she really hasn't seen all that much of the final product for my DIY projects and such, and we got it organized and sorted into big containers for the rehearsal dinner/cocktail hour/reception so we can drop them off on Wednesday.  While I wrapped that up while enjoying a lovely glass of wine, my mom made Italian Wedding Soup.  It was the perfect way to kick off our wedding week-- at home with my favorite people!

Now all I have left to do is pick-up our bands from the jeweler, pick-up our marriage license, and pack for the honeymoon!  Also, after literally months of debate, we finally chose our first dance song.  I never thought it would be an issue, but Brian and I are very different when it comes to music-- I listen to the lyrics and he listens to the tune.  So all of the sentimental songs that I liked he didn't, and vice versa.  We finally agreed but good grief, it about did me in getting there.

What did you choose for your first dance song?  Was it a song you'd always known you would pick, or did you compromise?

Wedding Wednesday: What the eff is with these dreams?

On Monday night I dreamed that all of my teeth fell out.  Not like one or two wiggly teeth-- no, all of my teeth just up and crumbled out of my mouth.  So there's that.

Last night I dreamed that I was back home in Texas and when I opened up the back door to my dad's truck, bags and bags of chips started pouring out.  All of my favorites were there-- Fritos Scoops, blue tortilla chips from Trader Joe's, Cheetos, the thin homemade chips from my favorite taqueria (what can I say?  I love a good chip).  I'm going to mark this one up to not having a single chip for the past month.  And it's not like I eat chips on the daily, but I guess when you miss something that you really enjoy, you miss it mind, body and spirit.

One night last week I dreamed a dream that I actually remembered having had before.  I was at the church (only it was the church I grew up in, not the church we'll be married in) and I could see everyone seated inside.  My hair and makeup weren't done and I was in pajamas and everyone kept telling me that I couldn't go inside the church and that I only had twenty minutes to get ready.  So I ran around crazy, trying to run through doors but the doors kept leading to nowhere.  I threw some makeup on, put my hair in a done-bun, and put on my wedding dress (but not really my wedding dress-- my dress trumped my dream dress).  And then I woke up.

Kindly do not analyze my dreams-- I am 17 days away from walking down the aisle and do not need to hear "Well those doors leading to nowhere mean that your marriage is DOOMED!" so just send over a note if this brand of crazy visits you on the regular too.

On the bright side, I've hit the downhill slope of planning.  This is my remaining list:

Final dress fitting (tomorrow) 
Hair/makeup trials (next Wednesday and Friday) 
Print ceremony programs and menus (tomorrow)
Package favors once delivered (Wednesday before the wedding)
Welcome Bags (putting together with my parents when they fly in next weekend)
Finalizing entrance songs and play/do not play with the DJ
Finalizing must-take photo list with photographer 
Seating arrangements (sweet Jesus, this one is a gigantic pain in my ass)
Wrap bridal party and attendant gifts
Finalize day-of itinerary for everyone
Pack for the HONEYMOON!

Reading that makes me feel a bit better-- it's all stuff that we're finalizing in the next couple of days, which is good!  I've definitely hit the point of just wanting the planning done, the day to be here, and to be MARRIED.  Oh yes, and to spend a week on the beach in Mexico, please.  Off to run more wedding errands on my lunch break, in a downpour no less.  At least it's Wednesday!

five on friday!

one. pure barre
Tomorrow morning will mark two weeks of me attending Pure Barre and I can honestly say that I'm completely addicted.  It's the first time I've ever really worked out in any way beside from cardio/weights and it just FEELS good.  After all of the running I've done in the past few years, my left hip and my left knee have been killing me and trust me-- there's nothing that makes an almost-30 year old feel REAL old than having achy hips and knees.  I don't know if it's the deep stretching, or just the stretching every day, or the 55 minutes of non-impact constant movement, but I feel better than I have in a long time.  

I was previously working out consistently with the wedding coming up fast, but I was burning out on the same old daily routine.  I've been 5-6 times both last week and this week and it's become my "me time."  This is big.  If you know me, my "me time" used to be me wandering the aisles of Target with Starbucks in my hand.  Now, if I'm feeling tired or not 100% wanting to get there, I tell myself that I mentally need class and get myself there.  The best part about it, aside from all of the LTBing, is that the class is intense enough where you have to focus on your movements from start to finish, so you really can just forget everything else on your mind for that hour.  It's saved my sanity these last couple of weeks!

two. christmas cheer
I'm all about enjoying each holiday to the fullest before moving on to the next (I'm looking at you, Target, with your Christmas lights and wreaths currently bordering the aisle with candy corn and Halloween costumes), but I stopped into HomeGoods on my lunch break yesterday and absolutely HAD to take this sign home with me!  Elf is one of my favorite movies ever, and I can't help but smile every time that I peek at it in our apartment.  Check your HomeGoods but I also found the sign on this website... which I will be scouring later this morning.  The Jolly Christmas Shop?  Sign me up!

three. wedding hair and makeup
I have a general idea of how I would like for my wedding hair and makeup to look, but after lots of searching and Pinning, I keep coming back to the lovely Duchess Kate.  The woman is flawless and just always looks so classic and elegant yet young and not too fussy.  I'm wondering if I can just take these pictures to my salon and say "Make me the Duchess, please." 

four. singin' in the store
This makes me laugh every time I read it.  There are more and more trips to the store these days, may it be the grocery store, Target, or the mall, where I find myself singing along (to myself, promise) and thinking "They are spot. on. with this music today!"  It's so true though-- it's music I love because it always seems to be from my high school days... TEN years ago.

five. CARBS
I've cut out carbs, dairy and sugar these last few weeks leading up to The Big Day and while it's gone pretty smoothly, I am definitely finding myself craving pasta, pizza, potatoes... ya know, the good stuff.  This Browned Butter Alfredo Pasta would do just fine to satisfy my carb cravings.  Oh yes, this will do.

Have a happy Friday, lovelies!  I have a busy weekend of finalizing wedding details and my second dress fitting tomorrow morning, then a good ol' date night at home tomorrow night.  Sounds like a good one to me-- enjoy yours as well!


I'm getting married one month from today!!  I think that I have finally hit the point of being undeniably excited and READY, so stinking ready.  For so much of the engagement, I've been stressed and consumed by the planning since I did it all completely on my own, but now that we're down to the little things (getting all of the finalized signage, menus, programs, etc. printed off, putting together out of town bags, having my hair and makeup trials), I feel like I can finally relax and just enjoy and soak up every minute of this last month of being engaged.

It sounds kind of silly, but I'm feeling a little bit sentimental about not being engaged anymore.  I feel like the last 13 months have positively flown by-- wasn't I just buying my first wedding magazine and folding down pages of ideas for my dream wedding?  Weren't we just looking at venues and making my list of things to do (which has exponentially grown-- my brother recently saw it and said it gave him anxiety just looking at it)?  When we first got engaged, so many people told me to just relax and enjoy it because we'll be married before we know it.  This, I have to admit, is true.  I was a girlfriend for 7 years, and I'll be a wife forever, but I was a fiancee for such a short time, and it was fun while it lasted.  In retrospect, I think that the generally short period of time to be a fiancee is limited because it is bound to drive you batshit crazy, either from planning or from sheer anticipation of getting to marry your best friend.

In case you're wondering, I'm borderline crazy from both.

With my mom being so far away in Texas, I just kind of shouldered the responsibility of planning and ran with it.  At times, it was a lot, almost too much.  We certainly have had wonderful support from both sides of our families, but when it came time to make a decision, the simple act of choosing a font could send me into tears.  I would debate for DAYS over what looked best, and I would have these thoughts that made this color versus that seem like an end of the world decision.  It was obnoxious and intense and there were times when Brian would ask me "Are you sure things will go back to normal after the wedding?  Because I like non-wedding planning Katie a lot more..."  Agree, my dear.  I like her better, too.

So while I know the next four weeks are going to fly by, I also want to remember them and treasure them and really focus on our relationship and how big what we're about to do is.  I think that I've let that slide a little bit here and there, focusing too much on the wedding instead of the marriage.  The wedding is one day but that marriage is forever, and I feel so incredibly lucky to be embarking on this journey with the love of my life, and I want to remember that and I want him to know that.

What advice would you give to someone the month before their wedding? 
What did you most look forward to once you hit the final countdown?

my favorite season.... and dress drama.

There is just something about the calendar changing over to October 1st that always makes me so happy.  It's the month that kicks off my favorite three months of the year, and it never grows old-- I still get excited when I start to see Halloween decorations at Target and front porches decorated with pumpkins.  And, I can't forget to mention, that I look way better in fall/winter clothes than I do spring/summer.  My pale skin was made for jewel tones, not sundresses, and my hair thrives in the cool, autumn air (I kid you not, it's like I have a new head of hair these last few days).  

The change of seasons in New England certainly played a large part in my motivation to move here from Texas, and I try to soak up every little bit.  The cool weather, changing colors of the leaves, that crisp bite in the air... I love it.

This October is undoubtedly going to fly by because... I'm getting married in 37 days.  THIRTY-SEVEN DAYS!!  I don't know how on earth that happened, how I'm already in the thirties for my countdown, but it's happening.  I posted an obnoxious list several months ago and I've honestly been too busy checking things off to keep anyone updated on its progress.  I can safely say that all of the big things are done, and I'm checking off the little minutiae that are left, like table assignments that can't be completed until we get our RSVPs in, ordering our favors, etc.

There was an enormous snafu with my wedding dress that I feel like I should share.  My dear friend Caitlin and I made the hour-long drive to the bridal salon the first Saturday in September.  I had my shoes, my jewelry... everything they had told me to bring for my first fitting.  We were taken back to a fitting room and I was told to go in, get into the dress, and the seamstress would start her thing.  WELL.  I pulled the dress on, had a flouncy moment with myself (and may have twirled a bit), and then I went to hold the back together to try to zip.  Um... there was no zipping.  There was no zipping because the left side of the zipper was by one shoulder blade and the right side was by the other shoulder blade, a good six inches in between.  I started to panic a bit (ok, a lot) and opened the curtain for Caitlin to come in and assess the situation.  When we ordered my dress I ordered one size down from my measurements and had lost enough weight and toned up enough to easily fit into the size that I ordered, so when I couldn't zip the dress my first thought was of course "Oh my God, I'm too fat to fit into my dress!"... which is exactly what every bride wants to think when she puts on her dress for the first time.

SO, the seamstress comes in, starts trying to pull the sides together as I tell her  that my ribs are there and there is no way the dress will close.  I knew things were bad when she sprinted out of the room to find the owner, who came in super calm (honestly, a little too calm for my panicked state) and said "Well, let's see here."  She looked at the tag on my hanger (which was correct), the tag on the dress (which was the size I had ordered), and then got out her measuring tape.  She measured the waist of the dress, and hurried out of the room "to make a quick phone call."

Apparently, the manufacturer of my dress had stitched the right tag... onto the wrong dress.  The dress was half the size that I had ordered for myself.  PERFECT, right?  The owner said that there was nothing to worry about, all would be fine, blah blah, but all that I could think was "My wedding is two months away.  You told me coming in early September would be plenty of time.  I now basically don't have a dress."  Over the next few days, and a lot of rage from both me and my mom, the owner determined that they could either offer me the sample dress from the salon at a discount (no thanks) or a dress in a color that I didn't want (again, no thanks).  If I opted out of both of those options, then they would have to order a new dress and wait a month to have it shipped to me.  So that's where I am today.  My dress is on its way to the salon, and I have to fit multiple 2-hour roundtrip drives in this month for fittings.  At this point, I just want my dress.  They offered to cover my alterations, which I'm going to take them up on, but it just put a bad taste in my mouth overall.  What really gets me is my dress came in to them in APRIL.  It sat in their salon for 5 months and they never noticed that the size didn't match the actual dress.  Shouldn't that be someone's job, to check those things?

So in the next few days I'm off to Southborough for Fitting 1, Take 2.  Aside from that, things are just peachy, thank the Lord.  I just want everything done so we can relax and enjoy this last month of being engaged, because I have a feeling it's going to fly by.

Ladies, for anyone out there who's been through the wedding dress fittings, how many alterations were required?  They initially told me I'd need four appointments, plus the pick-up date, and with the 2-hour round trip, that's too much for me this last month before the big day.  I know it differs based on the dress, but having an idea of what you girls have experienced would be so helpful!

weekend rewind.

We had a very relaxing weekend which was SO needed.  Brian's oldest sister was in town with her little ones for the past two weeks, so we were there all of the last two weekends, plus most weeknights after work (they live in Baltimore so we had to soak up as much nephew and niece time as possible!).  Once it hit Wednesday of last week, we made a joint decision to do absolutely nothing that we didn't want to do come Friday at 5pm... and that's exactly what we did.

Considering that I live two minutes from my office, I'm always home before Brian and have made it my little Friday routine to come home and do a quick once-over of straightening up the apartment.  With it being only one bedroom and one bathroom, it takes all of one hour from top to bottom to clean, and then I shower, open a bottle of wine, and catch up on the DVR until Brian walks in the door.  It's honestly therapeutic to have that "me time" and I love going into the weekend with a clean apartment.  We both decided we were too tired to cook anything, so it was takeout won ton soup and spring rolls for the win!

Saturday morning I woke up and headed to the gym and then out to Target and Trader Joe's, per usual.  Call me crazy, but it's this time of year when I (sort of) wish that I could be going back to school again-- how can you not after seeing aisle after aisle of fresh paper, pens, Crayola everything everywhere?  And I kind of love seeing kids pick out their new school supplies with their parents, mainly because I can remember digging through stack after stack of spiral notebooks until I found JUST the right color that I absolutely had to have.  Full disclosure, I do indulge in a new planner and colored pens every September-- who wouldn't?! 

After stocking up for the week, I headed home only to be greeted by delish homemade breakfast sandwiches made courtesy of the fiance-- I'm willing to cook during the week if he sticks with breakfast on the weekends!  We had an appointment at 11am to finalize our limo for the wedding party, so we were off and running out the door pretty quickly.  I've been emailing with the owner of the company for months now and just couldn't find time to get by to see the vehicle, which I definitely wanted to do prior to putting down a deposit.  It turned out to be absolutely perfect, and we put our names down and checked that off of our list!  

I had REALLY wanted a trolley for the wedding party transportation, but after lots of debate and considering the fact that it might look a little more fitting for a spring/summer/early fall wedding versus a November wedding when there could potentially be snow (hey, it's November 8th in New England-- I'm mentally preparing for all weather extremes), I agreed to entertain Brian's suggestions and look at a larger SUV limo.  We've both been in weddings where things were a bit too cramped inside once you have everyone decked out in wedding duds, but I don't think that will be an issue with this baby: 

It's super roomy inside, and there's even a designated seat for the bride.  I mean, yes please!

Once that was all set, I dropped Brian back at the apartment and decided to check out HomeGoods for any wedding-related additions for the rehearsal dinner or cocktail hour.  While I unfortunately did not find anything worth justifying (I've had to learn to stop saying "How could we use this?" and instead only buy when I KNOW how I can use it), I did find a new mode of transportation for me to enter the wedding reception:

I texted my dad to inform him that he would no longer be walking me down the aisle, but rather pushing me as I rode in on Ella the Elephant.  How insane is that thing?  For a mere $1400, Ella can be yours!  And if you have a room large enough to comfortably house that thing, let me know because I'm moving in.

The next couple of weeks are crazy, so we decided we owed ourselves a Saturday night date night out on the town.  I poured myself a glass of chard and sat down to watch Carrie and Big while putting my makeup on.  He went all the way to Paris to kick some Russian ass, and she was the one.  I always always stop to watch this episode when it airs!

It was one of those nights when I felt like a million bucks-- my hair was working with me, the makeup was spot-on, and I wore a top that I haven't worn in months (thanks, wedding diet!).  Brian's not one for selfies, but I did manage to snag this on our way out the door-- 

Love him!  

We went to a cute little Italian restaurant which we'd never been to before and all in all it was pretty good, but we weren't blown away which stinks-- always on the lookout for good new restaurants.  Brian had some kind of asparagus ravioli with scallops and I went for a major indulgence with pasta bolognese.  I'd show you a picture, but I only snapped one of the drinks and it was super dark in the room.

Sunday morning I was off to the gym and the grocery store, only to return home for the second day in a row to breakfast!  Homemade waffles and blueberry syrup-- I think he's a keeper!  

We went out to see a couple of open houses (blah) and I spent the rest of the afternoon writing out thank you notes and prepping meals for the week.  We ate a super late dinner while watching the VMAs and I can only say that you know you're getting old when you don't recognize a good amount of the performers or artists nominated.  I'm pretty sure I'm with the rest of America in saying that while Beyonce absolutely blew us away with that epic performance (and encouraged me to amp-up my squats on leg days!), Blue Ivy stole the show!  She danced in her daddy's lap and knew the words and I honest to goodness got completely teary when Jay Z and Blue Ivy came up on stage because the look on Beyonce's face was one of absolute happiness and love.  

Seriously-- shut the front door with that cuteness.  Can't blame the sweet girl-- with that mama and daddy, she's born to be a natural entertainer!

Well, back to the Monday grind.  I hope you had a fantastic weekend as well!

Heavy on my heart.

Most mornings on my drive to work, I call my mom for a quick chat.  Sometimes it's lengthy, sometimes it's brief, but regardless of the length of our conversation, it's always nice to start my morning having talked with one of my favorite people.

This morning was no different-- I dropped Brian at the train and as I pulled out of the T parking lot, I dialed her up.  We had our regular small talk about what we did the evening before, how could it only be Tuesday morning, how busy work has been, etc.  And then she mentioned her friend, Lorenzo.  

My mom works with veterans in a hospital setting and her place of employment also aims to provide jobs for veterans, which is wonderful in my eyes.  To know my mom is to understand that she is one of the most kindhearted and warm people that you will ever meet.  She truly has a heart of gold and will go out of her way to do just about anything for anyone.  She doesn't hold grudges and is big on forgiveness, and if someone asks my mom to say a prayer for them, you can absolutely bet that she's going to do just that.  I've heard many of her work stories over the year, and I've gathered that working in the environment that she does can be challenging-- unless you've been to war, there's no way that you could ever comprehend what veterans have experienced, and often times employees choose to not take a personal interest in the patients of the hospital, versus just getting their job done.  Unfortunately there aren't enough people like my mom because she's the one who the patients seek out, knowing that my mom will take the time to listen to their stories, to give them a tissue through their tears, to offer comforting words and assurance that she will do absolutely everything that she can to find a solution to their problem while getting her job done.

Which brings me back to Lorenzo.  Lorenzo is a veteran, and a wonderfully nice man.  I've met him several times when going to visit my mom at work when I'm home, and he is so kind and takes a genuine interest in whatever you're saying-- the last time that I saw him was right after Brian and I got engaged and I stopped by to see my mom's coworkers.  My mom told him the news and he gave me the biggest hug then hugged my mom and said "Mrs. Janice, I know you are so happy and blessed with this pretty girl and her lucky man" and it could honestly make me cry right now just thinking about it again-- he hardly knows me personally and was so genuinely happy for me.  I know that he has struggled with various issues over the years, both mentally and physically, but he has maintained his job at the hospital and seemed to be doing okay.  He has the most positive and happy disposition, but from what I've gathered he really doesn't have much support in his life-- no family to speak off, no wife and no children.  So my mom has kind of stepped in and filled that little missing piece for him where she can.

Lorenzo walks to and from work every day, and when it's too hot or freezing cold, my mom insists on driving him home.  His house is only a few blocks from the hospital, but, just the same as me, my mom can't stand to see anyone struggle or suffer, and he knows that Mrs. Janice is relentless (also like me), so on occasion he'll graciously accept the offer.  She always makes sure to remember his birthday and brings him a little something at Christmas that he can use.  My mom does this out of the goodness of her heart, and he knows that and is so beyond thankful to be remembered.

Recently, Lorenzo has been struggling a little bit and he missed a few days of work over the last couple of weeks.  Due to the missed days, his pay was cut short, and things are very tight for him.  My mom knows him well enough to know when something is wrong, and when she asked him yesterday if everything was okay, he confided in her that he's had to pay all of his bills but that he hasn't had much to eat the last few days.  She immediately told him that she would like to help him, but his pride is far too great for that, and he politely declined and just asked her to pray for him.  She promised him that she would, and she did.  

Again, to know my mama is to know that if she can do more than pray, then she's going to.  When she walked through the door after work, she had barely put her purse down before telling my dad that she needed to put a care package together for her friend.  My dad has certainly heard of Lorenzo over the years and told my mom to absolutely go ahead and round up what she needed.  So my mom went through their cabinets and refrigerator and filled two boxes of food for him, recruited my brother to accompany her, and off they drove, my mom still in her work clothes and my brother unaware that even at 25 he was still eligible for Teachable Moments from Mama.

They pulled up to Lorenzo's house and rang his doorbell, each holding a box of food.  My brother told me this morning that when Lorenzo opened the door, he broke down in tears and thanked them over and over and over again.  My mom walked in and put the boxes down, hugged him, and told him that she knew that he would do it for someone else in that situation, and that he was to think nothing of it, and that's what friends are for.  

As my mom told me all of this as I drove to work, I was fighting back an ugly cry.  

I was overwhelmed at the generosity of my mom, of hearing her say so matter-of-factly "I helped him because it's what you do for someone in need.  I know that he would do it for someone else if he could.  And I would do it for anyone else out there."

I was sad for Lorenzo to be struggling after an already challenging life.

I was embarrassed at myself for being annoyed that I might not have time to buy a coffee. 

I was helpless thinking of how many other people are out there in the same position who we just don't hear about.

And so my heart feels a little heavy this morning.  My mom asked me to pray for Lorenzo, and every time I think of him I send up a few words, but I wish that there were more than can be done.  I know that there are people out there who are so very much worse off than our friend, people who don't have a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, a stable job to go to every day.  But for some reason knowing that Lorenzo has these things and is still struggling to get by, to know that a good, honest, hardworking man who has already been through so much in his life now has to worry about where his meals will come from...  that's what hurts my heart

If you think about it and it's your thing, maybe send up a prayer for Lorenzo.  If praying isn't your thing, maybe a few words of encouragement could help.  My mom assured me that he's going to be okay and that he has a wonderful support system in his manager and team at work, and I believe that, especially with my mom on his side.

Wedding Wednesday: THE SHOES!!

I feel like I might be in the minority here, but when it came time to start seriously considering wedding shoes, I just could not get excited.  I'm not a huge shoe girl to begin with.  It's not for lack of lusting, but while I could gaze at gorgeous heels all day long, the thought of actually pulling the trigger and making the purchase is hard for me to justify, so I end up buying one great pair each of heels, flats, riding boots and sandals, and I wear them to death.

However, I also could not help but entertain the knowledge that these would be my wedding shoes. inducing teary thoughts of tucking them away into my closet for safe-keeping until I potentially have a little girl someday and she wants to see what mommy wore on the day she married daddy (that just gave me giddy chills and "Holy shit, not there yet..." chills, for what it's worth).  With that in mind, I knew I wanted to splurge the tiniest bit.  I've been saving shoe ideas for quite a while now, and really thought that I wanted my "something blue" to be a great pair of cobalt blue heels... but maybe let's just stick with traditional white/ivory or GLITTER!  What about glitter?  Maybe with gold?  (Hi, I'm the most indecisive person you'll ever meet, nice to meet you).

These Kate Spade beauties have been saved for quite a while, but I knew I didn't really want a strappy shoe.

I'm fairly certain that at one time or another, the majority of women who saw these lovelies on Carrie Bradshaw added them to their "I must make room in my wedding budget for them!"

The Kate Spade Charm Heel sat in my Zappos cart for a good two months before I started reading reviews from past brides who struggled with the glittery exterior of the shoe getting stuck in the tulle of their dress-- goodbye, my pretties!

Pretty much everything Badgley Mischka was included in my wish list too, including the "Goodie," but then I remembered that I would not only die in a 4-inch heel but likely tower over Brian.

At that point I started to get really, stupidly stressed about finding the perfect shoe, because everything that I really REALLY loved was close to $300.  I fawned and favorited practically every pair of Kate Spades from the Zappos site, and really wanted a way to make them work.  But as much as I wanted a special pair of wedding shoes, I couldn't justify spending that much-- I want new Hunters this fall!  But every time I would scroll through my to-do list spreadsheet, "Buy wedding shoes!" would stare me down, taunting me, convincing me I was probably going to walk down the aisle barefoot because I wanted a designer shoe at a non-designer price.  

I had pretty much given up hope on the search for My Perfect Wedding Shoe until one day last week when I was on a supreme coffee high.  I was sitting at my desk on my lunch break and had powered through two cups of coffee at home plus a large DD iced, and I was racing through my spreadsheet checking things off left and right.  As I scanned over "Buy wedding shoes!" something inside of me said "Wedding shoes, you are my bitch-- it is ON." and in a stroke of genius moment, I went to The Google and typed in "Amazon Kate Spade shoes."  Lo and behold, a result popped up for the Kate Spade store which is a part of Amazon.  Now, I've ordered Kate Spade phone cases from Amazon before, but they're more like Kate Spode-- definite fakes.  I was a little apprehensive, thinking it wasn't legit, but I sent the link to Brian and he assured me that it was an actual Kate Spade store being sold through Amazon (if any of you know differently, please do not tell me because it may break this bride's brain to process anything of the sort).  As I typed in "Kate Spade wedding shoe" I felt butterflies of terror in my stomach-- could I seriously find my wedding shoes on AMAZON?  I mean, I find basically everything else on Amazon, but my shoes?!

As the search results populated on the page, I stared in disbelief as one of the shoes that I kept going back to time and time again stared right back at me... priced at nearly a third LESS than Zappos!  I was in shock.  I went to the bathroom, filled my water bottle in the kitchen, sat back down, refreshed the page... and it was still there!  There may have been a happy dance as I checked to make sure my size was there-- oh yes it most certainly was!  I had added the shoes to my cart, applied a $5 gift card that I had in my Amazon account, and placed my order with FREE 2-DAY PRIME SHIPPING before I even really knew what I was doing.

Ladies and friends, allow me to introduce you to my lovely, fantastic designer wedding shoes that I bought for a non-designer price!  As per Kate Spade, you may call them "Clarice." 

I seriously sigh every time that I look at them.  They were shipped Friday and I tracked them like a crazy woman all day yesterday and waited for the UPS man for a good two hours last night before I had to pick Brian up.  We were out and about until 9 or so, and I was bummed that they hadn't come earlier, and was nervous because our apartment complex has been known to not do great with deliveries in the past, and this was one they could not screw up!  Brian beat me up the stairs and I took my time coming in, putting my stuff down, washing my face, basically moping around because My shoes!  Amazon Prime!  They failed me!

When I finally headed to bed, there, tucked behind my pillow, was the best looking box I could have ever seen (well, aside from that pretty little blue ring box I love so much).  I opted to not waste my time threatening Brian with his life for grabbing them and hiding them when he walked in before me, and instead tore into the box to find the most perfect little shoes.  I love them.  I plan to wear them as much as humanly possible over the next 87 days to make sure they're nice and comfortable.  I also tried them on next to Brian, and I don't tower at all!  

The breakdown?  They were originally priced on Zappos for $328.  They're currently marked down on Zappos to $197.99.  Amazon Prime had these babies priced at $127.  I just checked and they're back up to $176, so I must have made the right choice at the right time!  
So, so excited to have this checked off of my list!


Up until this point, I don't believe that there has been a celebrity death that has struck me quite as significantly as the loss of Robin Williams.  James Gandolfini hit close to home because I was an absolute diehard fan of "The Sopranos" and felt that I was therefore familiar with a huge portion of his work as an actor, and Philip Seymour Hoffman was most certainly a tragic loss of talent as well.  I always cry during the "In Memoriam" part of the Emmys, the Grammys, the Oscars.  You seem to always recognize a face or two as they flash on the screen, you remember a movie that you once saw them in, feel a pang of "That's so sad!" and then they're gone, the memory is gone, and you move on, not out of lack of caring, but moreso because while they're a part of your memory somewhere deep, they didn't leave an indelible mark on your memories.  

Not this one.  Not for me.  Maybe it's because the face of Mr. Williams played the part of so many fantastically beloved cinematic characters.  From kids movies to award winning drama, he could take on any single character and bring that character to life, and in my eyes, that is what makes a truly fantastic actor.  To never be typecast into one specific genre of film, one particular type of script and characters, but to instead have such a vast array of talent that you can absolutely nail any part thrown your way... that's what leaves your mark.  That is what makes you truly great.

Same as so many of you, the first time I ever "met" Mr. Williams was as our beloved Ge-nie of the LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMP in "Aladdin."  He was blue.  He changed shapes and imitated Jack Nicholson.  He was hilarious and he lived in a lamp.  Even then, he had his young, absolutely obsessed audience in the palm of his hand.

My first encounter with Robin Williams as an actor was when he played Dr. Malcolm Sayer in the film "Awakenings."  I was young, probably too young, and I vividly remember watching the movie and being absolutely beside myself with tears.  Robin Williams as Dr. Sayer, DeNiro as Leonard Lowe, and a hospital in the Bronx where seemingly catatonic patients are brought back to life, if only for a little while.  Absolutely phenomenal.

I remember going to my aunt and uncle's house when I was little and I absolutely couldn't wait to get there because my older cousin had "Mrs. Doubtfire" on VHS.  It was the highlight of every trip, and I would laugh laugh laugh at Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire.  There were few better highlights at that age than the cake-to-the-face scene, followed by that unmistakable "Hellooooooooo!"

To this day, if I'm flipping through the channels and I see that "Hook" is on, I will stop and watch it in its entirety.  I loved Peter Banning, the Lost Boys, Julia as Tink... and I have always loved one of the last lines of the movie, when Tootles gets his bag of marbles back-- he really did lose his marbles.

The Birdcage was one of those movies that I saw when I was, again, probably too young, and I didn't quite get the humor for the majority of the movie.  Truthfully, I don't think I even understood the concept.  But today?  Today, this movie can make me laugh until I cry every single damn time.  How can we forget Armand Goldman dancing across the stage in rehearsals as he explains to the TOO interpretive dancer "You do an eclectic celebration of the dance! You do Fosse, Fosse, Fosse! You do Martha Graham, Martha Graham, Martha Graham! Or Twyla, Twyla, Twyla! Or Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd! Or Madonna, Madonna, Madonna!... but you keep it all inside."

For as long as I live, I will never forget watching "Good Will Hunting" for the first time, sitting on the couch absolutely frozen as the credits rolled.  It was one of the first movies that struck me to my core, that reached inside, stirred things around, and made me think that there was more out there for me.  Up until that point, I was quite the connossiur of crummy teen movies, so it was probably the first time that I also saw superb acting.  There was certainly the appeal of Ben, Matt and their friends, and Will's line "Well I got her number.  How 'bout them apples?" to the douchey Harvard guy with the ponytail.  And, they were in Boston, my dream city.  Robin as Sean Maguire absolutely made the movie.  I could list my favorite scenes but I would be better off showing a link to by the movie, because there are too many to list here.  This clip has been circulating the web since last night, and it absolutely encompasses why Sean, played by Robin, made this movie so fantastic.

Last, but so certainly not least, is the my beloved "Dead Poets Society," the movie that led me to pursue an English major.  Yes, it was just a movie, but it encapsulated my passion for the written word.  I would dream to have a teacher like John Keating, wishing that just maybe he could step through the movie screen and teach my AP English class.  No such luck.  I never had him as a teacher, but I'll always have his performance as the English teacher who pushed his students to think big, to be individuals, to step outside of the box and live for themselves, not for the expectations others have of them.

"O Captain, my Captain. Who knows where that comes from? Anybody? Not a clue? It's from a poem by Walt Whitman about Mr. Abraham Lincoln. Now in this class you can either call me Mr. Keating, or if you're slightly more daring, ‘O Captain my Captain’."

Rest peacefully now, Mr. Williams.  You will be so tremendously missed, but I can only hope that you are at peace.

A quarter of my life.

Seven years ago today, this naive little girl from Texas made her way across Boston to the courtyard at Government Center.  I had spent hours choosing my outfit, applying my makeup, making sure that my hair looked just right.  I had three different transportation options written down and tucked away into my purse in case the train broke down, I couldn't find a cab or I needed directions to walk (these were even pre-iPhone days), and I made sure to set out on my adventure with plenty of time to spare so that I didn't break a sweat in the sticky August heat. 

It was no problem finding the train station, and I caught my train quickly.  There's no telling what the passengers around me must have been thinking because I could neither stop smiling or checking my hair against my reflection in the window.  I vividly remember the stops flying by, people getting on and off of the train, and me watching as we grew closer and closer to my own stop.  I thought my heart might beat out of my chest as I rode the escalator to the top of the Government Center station and stepped out into the sunshine of City Hall Plaza... and immediately reached for my phone.

"Where are you?"
"Just got off the boat-- I'm walking towards the train.  Where are you?"
"I just got off the train and am walking towards the boat... I think.  I can't tell.  There are so many people!  What are you wearing?" 
"Well, stop walking and look for my green hat."

That next moment was one that I hope that I remember for all of the rest of my days.  I don't even have to close my eyes to see it right this very second.  City Hall Plaza is a huge, open space and I was giddy with excitement, looking at every person my eyes could catch and then, I looked up and my Brian was just... there.  We had talked for months and months, me in Texas, him in Massachusetts at home or while he was at school in New York, but to finally have him there in front of me, walking towards me, right into my arms for the most anticipated hug of my life... Yes, that still gives me butterflies and makes me teary.  

And that was the beginning of us.  We spent the day walking around Boston, and we laughed and talked for hours, sneaking glances and flirting, not wanting our day to end.  When it finally came time for him to catch the commuter boat home, we made plans to see each other again the very next day, and I'll never forget the text that popped up on my faithful old Razr as I made my way back to the train-- "I can't stop smiling."  Considering my own silly smile hadn't left my face, I knew that this was something special.  There was something about every single minute of being with him that just clicked, and I knew in my heart of hearts that there wasn't a single other soul out there in the world for me, and that I didn't want for there to be.

2,555 days later, a quarter of my life spent with this man, and here we are.  We've had fantastic days and days that almost ended us as a couple.  We've seen our families expand to welcome little ones and have been each others support as we've mourned the losses of our loved ones.  We've learned what makes each other tick and what drives each other absolutely up the frigging wall crazy.  We've endured years of long distance dating, living with relatives, functioning in a tiny apartment and (if we survive) hunting for our first home together.  We've learned to trust, to praise, to communicate, to manage expectations, and to accept each other for who we are.  We've learned that we both need "me time" and that it's good, no, it's essential to get out every once in awhile with just our friends.  We've been each others biggest cheerleaders and biggest fans.  We've made each other laugh until we cry with that humor that only a couple truly "gets" the full hysteria of-- nobody else is going to know why you're laughing so hard you can't speak because of a cat commercial on the TV, because nobody else knows the infamous cat imitation (See? Couple humor).  We've become Uncle Bri and Aunt Kiki, and godparents to our niece.  We've come to love our families for who they are-- enough said.  

Seven years of laughter and arguments, cheers and tears, lots of love and (almost) marriage.  Ninety-four days from now, we'll be dancing the night away at our wedding reception, as husband and wife.  That makes me so unspeakably happy and excited, but even more than that, I can't wait to have my best friend by my side as we face whatever life may deal us.  I know that in him I have neverending love, support, encouragement, direction, and more laughter than I could possibly know what to do with.  Seven years as a couple and so many, many more to go, and I'm so happy that it's with him.

brian-- love you so very much.  

99 Day Countdown = ENGAGEMENT PICTURES!!

Friends, we are officially in the double-digits!!  99 days from today, I get to marry my absolute best friend and the love of my life.  I would say "Let's just fast forward to The Big Day" but I've been so stressed over so many silly little things the past couple of months that I'm making a conscious effort these last three months to soak up every minute of being engaged.  I absolutely cannot wait to be a wife, and to be Brian's wife at that, but I'll never be a "fiancee" again, and I want to revel in this little bit of time in between dating and marriage.  
To top off that exciting little countdown, our photographer (the fantastic CoCo from Krista Photography here in Boston) sent back our edited engagement pictures today (squeee!!!).  So, to go out on Friday with a bang, here are a few of my favorites!

the spot of our very first date

...AND the spot we Brian proposed!

boat shoes and boots :)

love these.

I was nervous about the misty, foggy morning, but it actually worked in our favor for the pictures!  It was perfect, and I highly recommend taking engagement pictures sort of as a trial run to the big day.  It's nice to get a feel for how you'll interact with your photographer, and gives you an idea of what to expect with a camera in your face constantly.  We were pretty awkward at first but once we got more comfortable, it was a piece of cake!  It was hard to pick favorites because CoCo just did THAT amazing of a job.  We definitely have a great connection with her and know that she'll be a perfect fit with us on the wedding day!

Have a fantastic weekend!!

Our hou-- oh wait, just kidding.

I had this big exciting blog post planned for today saying "We found a house!  It's lovely and perfect for us and we are completely thrilled!"  

I knew how I was going to tell my friends at work and my parents over the phone.  

I've watched so many episodes of House Hunters that I'd even figured out how I was going to react when our agent called to tell us the great news-- I would of course hurry over to Brian and put the phone on speakerphone so we could hear the news together.  

And just like that, our house hunt would be over and ending on the most wonderful note.

That's how it was supposed to happen.  

In reality, we submitted an offer on the most adorable little cape yesterday morning, heard back from our realtor around 5:30pm that the sellers wanted our best and highest because there was a competing offer... and then called at 10:30pm to let us know that they went with the other offer over ours.  And I was devastated.  I am still devastated.  I know that sounds a little bit silly and over the top and dramatic, but it's true.  This was the first house, in all of our months and months of searching, that we both agreed that we could see ourselves starting our life together.

As we walked from room to room, we realized that we didn't have a negative thought about anything, aside from cosmetic updates here and there.  The kitchen and bathrooms needed updating, but the house was priced fairly enough that we could do a full renovation to the kitchen and open it up into the dining room, while putting my countless Pinterest boards to use and personalizing the kitchen to exactly what we wanted and needed.  The house was built in the 1950s and had wonderfully charming "bones," and aside from updates in those rooms, lots of pulling down wallpaper and paint would have made the home shine.  We were already picturing ourselves coming home from work in the evening and working through each room to give it our own little touch with colors and decor to make it ours.  The neighborhood was our dream area and full of young families-- I was imagining answering the door for trick-or-treaters while Hocus Pocus played in the background because isn't that what houses are for?  I had our pictures on the mantle and our first married Christmas tree in the perfect bay window, our brand new china styled in the built-in china cabinet.  

We tried really hard to not get ahead of ourselves but our agent kept telling us that our offer was very strong, and the listing agent came back and told her that our offer was very strong.  Who wouldn't get excited and hopeful?  We were on cloud 9 all afternoon yesterday, thinking "Yes!  No more open houses on the weekends.  We can make plans to move and sort out the details and finally, finally look forward to moving into our first house!"  I checked my email one last time before turning my bedside light off and I saw an email from our realtor-- "Are you up?"  I sat straight up in bed and read it to Brian as I emailed back that "Yes, of cours!" we were awake.

The phone rang and I made Brian accept the call and put it on speaker, and as soon as we heard her voice, we both knew.  The offers were very good and very close, but they went with the other one.  I did hold it together until we hung up the phone, and then I had myself the cry of the century and tossed and turned all night-- sleep was hardly in the cards for me.

It's so very frustrating to be in this position.  We feel so lucky to have great jobs, to be in a wonderful relationship together, to have good backgrounds and credit and to be pre-approved to even start the process of owning our own home.  But the market is so intense right now that as soon as something comes on, if you don't jump and get in to see it, it's gone.  This house came on Friday morning, I emailed our agent at 5am when I got up for the gym, and she had made us an appointment to get in by 9am that morning.  And it still had a competing offer to ours, both over asking price.  We have all of the pieces here to put the "let's buy a house" puzzle together, but there are so many more buyers than sellers, that there's just no inventory left.  I think, to make it worse, our price range is the popular price range too.  Homes $50k below where we're looking and $50k higher sit on the market, but anything from our safe to max zone is gone.  And everything happens so fast, if you see something and you love it, you have to move.  If you like it, you have to decide if you love it, because whether you move on it or not, someone else is going to.  

So today I needed to vent.  Because last night just plain sucked.  And that's about as eloquently as I can sum it up.  I can only hope that our search looks up from here, and that we find the house that's right for us soon, because there's not enough wine in Boston to keep me sane with this mess for much longer.

Wedding Wednesday: My Texas Bridal Shower!!

I'm so behind in posting this, but better late than never!

After attending bridal shower after bridal shower, there was definitely a part of me that thought "Well I can't wait until it's me in that chair, surrounded by all of these fabulous people to celebrate me getting married!"  So once Brian and I were engaged and getting married became real, I had a little obstacle to face in regards to showers.  With Brian being from Massachusetts and me being from Texas, our people were spread all over the place, including my bridesmaids.  Knowing that I would never expect anyone to travel anywhere for a shower, considering they're already traveling for the wedding, I broached the topic of possibly having a shower in Texas and a shower in Boston, and everyone was completely on board (whew!).  So half of my girls planned one and the other have planned the other, and I just felt so lucky to get to celebrate with two different groups of my people twice!

Brian and I flew home late June for a whirlwind trip of lots of family, lots of food, and my Texas bridal shower!  It honestly could not have been any more perfect and still makes me teary thinking about all of the effort and planning that went in to that day.  The girls made sure that I had zero idea of the plans, aside from the location and who would be there.  Decorations, details... I didn't know a thing and I loved being surprised!

There was a very southern/Texan feeling, which was fabulous.  My mom brought my dad's cowboy boots and they filled them with hydrangea (one of my favorites) and had that on the gift table when you first walked in.  (And that would be a sneak peek of one of our engagement pictures in the bottom right of the picture!  Our photographer says our gallery should be ready next week!!)

Our family and friends were so beyond generous and gifted us with such wonderful things from our registries!  One of my oldest friends in the world, Carol, knows me through and through-- she showed up with a fantastic wine basket!  There were two bottles of Texas wine, a bottle tote that said "Keep Calm and Pour More Wine," a fun little sign that read "Wine improves with age; I improve with wine" which I promptly hung up once we were home... it was so cute.  And because we couldn't take the wine in our carry-on bags, we of course just HAD to open the bottles once we were back at my parents house and sorting through everything. 

Everyone of course knew that we would have to take our gifts back to Boston with us, so we received lots of gift cards to our stores, and several cards with the gift receipt for an item that had been shipped to our apartment!  So considerate and genius of everyone to consider the traveling when they chose what to bring to the shower.  

And because I know there are lots of y'all who have either planned or will be the bride-to-be at a shower where you'll have to travel back to your home with gifts, I have a suggestion for you.  We received a few items that were a bit too large/heavy to fly back home, so our solution was to return them to the store they were purchased from, take the gift card that we were given from the store, and repurchase the item once we were back in Boston.  It worked out perfectly, and since we registered at Macy's, Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn, it was easy enough to find a local store to make the swap.  

A gift that I want to remember specifically was from my mom's friend and coworker, Lisa.  Her daughter and only child, Lindsay, was killed in a horrifically tragic accident several years ago, and I had told my mom that I beyond understood if Lisa was unable to attend, if it would just be too hard to be at that kind of event.  Well, Lisa came and hugged me tight and it made my heart happy to see her there.  When I started opening gifts and came to hers, I unwrapped it and immediately noticed that the Pampered Chef cardboard box had "Lindsay" written in black marker on the top.  Inside was a cupcake pan, just like the one that I had registered for.  I started to tear up as Lisa explained that she had purchased the pan as a gift for Lindsay before the accident, and how when she was looking through my registry and came across the cupcake pan, it was as if Lindsay was telling her "You've got the perfect thing for that, Mom!"  By then we were all in tears and I love with all of my heart how I will think of her sweet girl every single time I use that pan.

The day just wouldn't have happened without these two wonderful ladies.  My mom and my Aunt Linda took over lots of the big planning after a little wedding party snafu early on, and they did such a good job with everything, from the food to the pictures to the centerpieces that they handmade (and I have to say, they are not known for their crafting skills).  They just kept saying that they wanted the day to be perfect for me, and IT WAS.  Love them so much! 

Me and my Keegan!  One of my amazing bridesmaids and one of the best friends a girl could possibly have.  And at the time she had a two month old at home-- she looked amazing!  She is that friend who I hadn't seen in FOREVER but as soon as I saw her and hugged her neck, it was like we were right back where we left off.  She added so many fun details to the shower, and gets major points for doing it all with a newborn! 

Two of my oldest friends in the world, Carol (l) and Amanda, my maid of honor!  They have known me since my supremely awkward middle school days of wearing khaki shorts and my dark brown Doc Marten sandals (and I've always been this pale-- picture it and know the unfortunateness of that pairing) and love me anyways.  From high school graduation to college graduation, to weddings and grown up jobs, we've been together through it all, and it's the best feeling in the world to be around people who know YOU, not the pretend you who sometimes has to come out to play to socialize and be social when you really want to be home in yoga pants.  They're the friends who I shared my very first drink with (Smirnoff Ice for the win!) and who I have been more drunkity-drunk with than I care to remember but will hopefully never ever forget because THE LAUGHS.  The laughs that we've shared, drunk and sober, happy and sad, good times and bad, just make friendship what it is supposed to be.  So these two faces made me so very happy that day.

There were a million little details that I know are recorded in pictures somewhere,  I just have to track them down!  My cake was actually two small cakes, one with Texas drawn on and the other with Massachusetts, and a trail of hearts connecting the two, similar to our save the date!  The favors were mini succulents that my mom's best friend had individually potted for everyone, as well as pairs of red socks for the guests to take home :)  

I honestly couldn't have asked for a more perfect shower.  At the end I thanked everyone for coming and nearly fell out in tears as I talked about how they're my people, the ones who have known me from the very beginning, and who I feel so blessed and lucky to have in my life and so grateful for them to have welcomed Brian into the big circle of crazy as well.  It's a wonderful thing to be surrounded by those who are closest to you, and I just love that they're all a part of such a big next step in my life!