The Year In Review

Every year, for the past 4 years or so, I have been doing a "year in review" post which catalogues all of my first of the month posts with the first sentence from each of those posts. Here is a look at the busy year Justin and I have had as we got married, moved in together, and experienced some of our biggest life changes ever.

January - I am beyond excited to have had one more day of vacation with the lovely and awe inspiring maid of honor Marion. Unfortunately the day was fun-filled invitation creating and anxiety producing.
February - This week I have been working on the music for the wedding (among other things). After talking with the reception site, Justin and I decided to have music put on cds to play during the reception.
March - This week has been crazy stressful as Justin and I try to finish the final touches. Justin is still working on bridesmaid dresses and I am trying to finish all of the paper "products" that will be found at the wedding including the programs.
April - Last night Justin and I started moving things into our new rental house.
May - Justin and I are still busy setting up house, but I wanted to give you a glimpse of where we now live.
June - Obviously when you move into an older house, you get the remnants of whatever the last owner/renter had. Given that the landlord pays for an exterminator, we weren't expecting a big bug problem. Maybe we should have been.
July - It had been far too long, so Justin and I (and my mom) made our way up to the North Georgia mountains to visit with my grandparents. It was a nice getaway and gave us plenty of time to think.
August - One of the BIG things Justin and I share is that we love to try new restaurants.
September - I wasn't going to post about this, but we made French bread!!! Julia Child's French bread!!
October - The scare last Thursday (and Friday) have resulted in some changes that Justin and I are taking to make our house feel more like a home (as well as add some additional security).
November - Instead of celebrating Halloween on Wednesday like any normal person, Justin and I decided to go out and do something different.
December - Justin and I were super busy this past weekend. I came up with a list of things that needed to happen over the weekend, things we could do to save money rather than spending it.

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String

Since yesterday was Christmas, I thought I would share a few of my favorite things about the holiday season.

1. Packages tied with REAL ribbon (not the fake plasticy stuff). Unfortunately, the box above used a WHOLE spool of ribbon. (At least it was pretty?! I must admit I am also in love with the candy cane wrapping paper! Always looks sooo amazing when you stick a candy cane on it!)

2. I couldn't decide on one favorite Christmas cd. I really like Point of Grace's cd "When Love Came Down", Michael W. Smith's "Christmastime", and Enya's "And Winter Came". I've only listened to Enya's album this year, so far, but I have been known to listen to these albums all year long. They are very calming. Don't get me wrong though -- I totally love more upbeat Christmas music as well! Give me Bing Crosby or Burl Ives any day!

3. One of my favorite seasonal movies is The Family Stone. LOVE that movie! Home Alone and Miracle on 34th Street always remind me of Christmas... even if I don't watch them every year. It's a tie between Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas as to which animated movie is my favorite.

4. As to my favorite Christmas foods? French chocolate truffles and blood oranges top my list! I can get everything else all year 'round. :) Also loving eggnog thinned out with skim milk topped with nutmeg. Mmmm... :)

5. I don't really have a favorite thing to do at Christmastime, but I am hoping in the future to go to New York one Christmas and ice skate at the Rockefeller Center and shop on Times Square. (I also want to get a really good hot chocolate and people-watch from a cafe. :) Until that becomes a reality, I will be quite happy to enjoy Christmas with both my own and Justin's families as we navigate between at a minimum of two houses on Christmas day.

What are your favorite things at Christmas time? Do you stay super busy or do you have a chance to relax?

Christmas Eve!

image by Robert Hill of Eyeon Media; edited by me

I can hardly believe it is the day before Christmas!

After a fun-filled weekend with baking, spending time with extended family, grocery shopping, and going on a hike to a waterfall, unfortunately, Justin and I both ended up sick... AGAIN! Coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, the inability to breath, so on and so forth. The worst part is that my cameras batteries were dead when we went on that hike, so inevitably I missed the opportunity to get either a family shot or a shot of the beautiful waterfall. It almost makes me feel like it was not worthwhile.

Today, we commence on more baking... along with house cleaning and present wrapping/finishing. This has been a crazy December! (Oh, I may have forgotten medicine taking.)

I hope you all are having a fantastic Christmas eve spending time with those you love, and I wish you all a very merry Christmas! :)

Smashcake Studio

Guess what we received in the mail this week?

Justin and I had won it in a contest from Anders Ruff. Approximately 3 days after deciding on what we were getting, Smashcake Studio had this beauty on our doorstep very well packaged in gorgeous, brightly colored packaging including a few pieces of candy!

The biggest surprise with this cake stand is how tall it is! The quality of the cake stand is amazing! But the cake stand is much taller than I was expecting. I'm a little bit worried about putting Justin's huge cakes on there. :/ With the cakes on there, it will practically rise up to being as tall as me when on the table... but, then again, I'm pretty short.

So now on to putting together a party to celebrate and use our gorgeous cake stand! Thank you Anders Ruff and Smashcake Studio! :)

The Kiss

After watching The Bachelorette: Ashley and J.P.'s Wedding (Yes, I watched it. Yes, that makes me a sad, sad person. lol.) I was inspired to write a post about the importance of the kiss, the first one you make as husband and wife at the altar.

If you haven't discussed this with your future husband, you need to. Or maybe you don't. I'm not you or him... I'm not in your relationship, and I can't tell you what you need to do.

Justin and I had to have this discussion.

When we first started dating, Justin told me that he wanted to save his first kiss for his wife. This was kind of a big deal for me since he had dated others, but I had never dated anyone other than him.

Then later into our relationship (much later... as in 4 years later...), he changed his mind and decided to kiss me.

Can you imagine dating 4 years without kissing... and then kissing? I'm not sure many people can. The one positive I think that we really got from this period of waiting was that we had become superb friends. We had discussed everything... our relationship had been up and down... There were tears, there were smiles, funerals, weddings... graduations, family arguments, friend arguments, dinners, breakfasts, winters, summers, periods of work and periods of play... We had met one another's families...

I think what held us together is that Justin was very affectionate in other ways making me feel like an absolute princess. He held my hand nearly everywhere we went. He hugged me all of the time for no apparent reason. He kissed my forehead when I wasn't feeling good, kissed my hand just to be cute... He rubbed my feet after a day of walking in the mall... He put his arm around me when we were sitting out in the cold winter looking up at the stars...

(I say he was the affectionate one, because I am not. I don't like making people feel excluded or like they are a third wheel, so hand holding was out of the question when friends were around...  I'm weird, I know.)

So anyway, that first kiss at the altar was a HUGE deal for us. I wanted to skip over it. I had read online that others would just skip over that part during the mass and no one would be the wiser. Or maybe a kiss on the cheek? I wanted to save the first married kiss for in private. Justin did not.

We glossed over this discussion by not discussing it. I hoped I would get some bravery by the time the priest said those fateful (dreadful) words. I was prepared to kiss and be done with it so that my husband would be happy. Y'know, nothing crazy... just a peck on the lips.

By not discussing it, Justin and I were in completely different thought processes. During the "you may kiss the bride" part, he managed to turn me in such a way with his hand up to my cheek so that no one would see. lol. I was soooo mad at the time. I was thinking "You wanted a kiss, so we may as well get a good picture of it!" Now, looking back I can laugh and think that he was... protecting me in his own special way, if that makes any sense. He was loving me, thinking about me, considering my thoughts and feelings.

Unfortunately though, in the aftermath, we got to hear things from family members like "Why didn't you let him kiss you?!?" and so on and so forth. Turns out the priest and the singer were the only ones to see the actual kiss. lol. We also heard things like "We're practicing our kiss before we get married." lol.

My opinion on the matter? Think about it, talk about it, and plan it. If you want a special kiss picture at the altar, make sure you are on the same page with your significant other. If you are shy like me, at least talk to and consider what will happen when you are up in front of all of your family and friends rather than avoiding it and hoping it goes away. It won't.

I know most people are not like me... I know most people cannot wait for that moment when they get to kiss their significant other at the altar. I think that is wonderful.

As an aside, I do think it is funny that Justin once suggested that we practice kissing in public. After being married for nearly a year, that still hasn't happened. Maybe next year? ;)

Christmas Movies

Over the weekend, Justin went with me to babysit a few little gremlins as we watched Steven Spielberg's The Gremlins and ate some homemade popcorn. Apparently the movie, despite being quite scary for children, actually takes place at Christmas time. I had never seen it before, but it was quite amusing between explaining what was happening to a three year old ("Someone gave him a shot!" in a high-pitched overly-happy voice), enjoying popcorn, and playing bejeweled on my iphone.

This got me to thinking... what is your favorite Christmas movie? Is it something surprising like The Gremlins? Or what about something more traditional like It's a Wonderful Life or A Miracle on 34th Street?

It's so hard to believe Christmas eve is a week from today! Are you ready?

Finally Friday!

I'm sorry for the lack of updates this week, friends. I've been sick, and I haven't really felt like doing much. I hope you all are looking forward to the weekend as much as I am!

Justin and I have some Christmas present crafts to finish as well as addressing and sending all of our Christmas cards that came in the mail yesterday!! Yay!

I'm also going to be watching the movie Gremlins with the little rugrats I babysit! :)

What all are you up to this weekend? Finishing Christmas presents? Seeing lights? Something else?

Bouquet Pendants

One idea I absolutely love that we used when planning our wedding was the idea of using pendants to make each bridesmaid and flower girl's bouquet unique and special. We didn't actually get a picture of the pendants in the bouquets, but we bought little picture frames from Michaels ($3 for a set of 5) and printed initials that we put into each frame.

For my bouquet, we placed a rosary into the bouquet that we got from an antique shop. My dad had a rosary that he was going to let me borrow, but I felt like a black rosary just wasn't as pretty.

Other pendant ideas I've seen or heard of often include lockets with pictures of loved ones, jewelry from another female in the family, something blue... etc...

What do you think about the idea of using pendants to personalize a bouquet?

If you like the idea, it may be good to know that Anthropologie is offering 30% off charms today!

Through the Woods

image by Robert Hill of Eyeonline Media; enhanced by me

As the days get shorter, Justin and I seem to get busier. Over the course of the last week, as mentioned in last Tuesday's post, Justin and I managed to go from having one or two things to do... to having a full week of activity! Birthdays, babysitting, family outings, photo shoots, and parties... On top of it all, Justin was sick! :( Oh the joy of Christmas!

Florrie Mitton

Forever Lace Garter with Rhinestone Trim

So you have your dress, the venue is picked, and now it is time to decide on the small details that you may or may not remember about your day. You have to pick out the decorations, the rental company for plates, and... the garter. Are you doing a garter toss?

I have to admit that I had absolutely no interest in having my husband pull my garter off with his teeth or through any other method. Probably a good idea since, on the day of, I completely forgot to put mine on! (Just goes to show that even when you have a gazillion lists you will still likely forget something! Especially when you are as forgetful as me!)

Aphrodite Beaded Garter

When I was researching garters, the garter I most wanted (but did not get) was a Florrie Mitton.

If you are not considering wearing a garter, you probably will after seeing these. Just keep in mind that these garters are expensive. They are handmade in England using vintage findings, beautiful crystals, fine laces, and silk.

So what do you think? Would you splurge for a Florrie Mitton garter?


ChicWish Review (Follow Up)

Back before Thanksgiving, I discovered ChicWish and ordered a few things. Now that the dress I ordered, the Got a Date Lace Dress in Mint, is finally in, I thought I would review my experience.

First off, I used free shipping right before Thanksgiving. When using free shipping, ChicWish will not monitor where the item is in the shipping process for you, so I was sitting on pins and needles waiting for my dress to come in. They said it would be at my house between 8-12 days but really it came in 13 days. As you can imagine, I was nervous that the package would not come in.

When I opened the Got a Date dress, it had been folded up, but luckily the wrinkles came out within 2 or 3 hours of being hung on a hanger. The lace on the dress has not all come unfolded though. There weren't any care instructions, so I am not really sure if I can iron the lace out or not?

The dress is cute and stretches, but because the lace around the waist does not go fully around the back, I would definitely recommend you make sure to order the dress in the correct size, whether small, medium, or large. If you receive a size too small, I can imagine that the lace around the waist would not fit around you if you ordered too small even if the dress actually stretched around you anyway.

The positive is that I received compliments all night about my dress the first night I wore it... from every woman I ran into. They all liked the color and the vintage style.

So my take on ChicWish is that while the items may be cheaper than others, more cheaply made as well as cheaper in price than stores like Anthropologie, items purchased are still gorgeous and likely to get lots of compliments anyway. However do not order using free shipping if you intend on having the item by a certain time. If I had needed the dress within 12 days, I wouldn't have had it.

Would I order from ChicWish again? Yes. When you read the little notification about them having "this many" in stock, they don't let you know that they frequently get more back in stock. :)

The Got a Date lace dress is gorgeous, and I definitely would recommend buying it on sale. It is a fun dress to wear whether dressed up or down in the summer or in the winter.

Have you bought from ChicWish before? Would you consider buying from them in the future?

A Busy Weekend

Justin and I were super busy this past weekend. I came up with a list of things that needed to happen over the weekend, things we could do to save money rather than spending it... but things that needed to happen anyway. One of those things was getting a chandelier we had previously bought (as in before getting married) from my parents house to hang in our dining room. It ended up taking all day Saturday and Sunday to actually get it hung since we had to go looking for brown chain (Who knew it was so hard to find?!?) and driving the hour (plus spending time with my family) when getting the chandelier. The chandelier looks soooooo much better than the previous chandelier we had hanging in our dining room.

While we were driving around looking for chandelier parts, we came across some chairs at Home Depot that we had previously decided against purchasing. The price for the chairs was down by approximately $60, so we bit the bullet and bought not at all certain that the chairs were exactly what we wanted for our dining room. They were. YAY! They are soooo much more comfortable than the stools we had before. It's actually nice to have dinner in our dining room now. :) Plus, we think the stools look awesome with the table... 

We also had the joy of finishing our Christmas decorations! Yay!!! My parents let us borrow some garland to put on our staircase and a wreath... while one of the ladies I babysit for decided to decorate our mailbox. We are feeling all Christmasy now!

It's good that we got as much done over the weekend as we did, because we are about to get busy with Christmas parties and events! It always surprises me how busy you can find yourself at this time of year. This week, for example, Justin and I have gone from having very little to do to having something to do every night. (As if we didn't have enough to do already!)

Are you surprised at how busy you become during the holiday season?