On the Brink of a New Decade...

Right now, it's 6pm Chicago time on New Year's Eve. I'm sitting on our couch, surrounded by the stacks of work I've been busting my butt over for the past three days, and I'm trying to figure out what to eat, and it seems like this is what I've been doing all year.

It's been a heck of a year, and for me the end of so many things: my single status, my 20s, being completely broke. So it feels interesting that I'm on the brink of a this brand, spanking new decade of being married, possibly a parent some day, of being in my 30's, and so much more.

The thing that's riding my ass right now is how much work I have left to do. My goal was to start off 2011 with no work on my plate, and it's proving IMPOSSIBLE. I almost don't want to go to the New Year's Eve party my friend B-Mac is having, just so that I can finish all this work and enter 2011 with a nice, clean slate. Alas, I don't think that's a realistic option.

So, instead, I'm going to enter 2011 with a better attitude. I'm going to work on getting things done, but also making sure to make more time for me. So with that said, I'm going to go back to watching the Food Network's marathon of Next Food Network Star, and figure out what to eat, go get ready, and have a fun time at the party. The work will get done. It always does.

Have a fabulous NYE, people! Talk to you next year!


Merry, Merry, Merry

Merry Christmas, everyone! It's been a busy, busy week. I'm off this week and next, and I can't seem to even relax long enough to sleep in! I've been running around getting Christmas shopping done, and hanging out with people I've blown off for the past few months because I've been so insanely busy with work.

A.P. took off Monday and Tuesday of next week. We were initially going to try to get out of town, but decided instead to take a staycation. We're going to go out to brunch, dinner, the movies, and we're going to go see this super awesome exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, here in Chicago. We're also going to do a day in bed, which we came up with a few years ago, but haven't had a chance to do in a long, long time. It's awesome. We make the bed, and just spend the whole day in bed. We read, watch DVDs, cuddle, and do a whole lot of nothing. It's awesome. But this staycation also means that I won't be blogging again until Wednesday of next week. We need the time together, and as much as I hate to go silent for a few days, this is more important.

I hope you all have a wonderful, joyous Christmas! Stay warm if you're someplace cold, stay sane if you're with crazy family, and stay happy! Happy holidays, peeps!

(Photo of my mother and brother with Santa, 1968)


Nice Globes

I've always dreamed of owning a library with a study. Not an office with some books in it, but a true library/study with sixteen foot tall dark wood walls stacked to the gills with beautiful, delicious books. I want a little ladder that I can swing around on to get from book A to book B, and now, now my pets, I want this to light the way:

The real question is why would you NOT want this in your house?

(Photo via Unruly Things)


If Only...

If only this company was in Chicago...

If only this company had existed when I was planning my wedding...

Green Wedding Shoes recently posted about the amazing Ribbons & Rust, a company in Southern California that rents vintage decor for weddings and other events. How awesome is that? Imagine all the time I could have spent on things other than eBay and etsy!

(Photo via Green Wedding Shoes)


War Does Funny Things to Men*

I love these pencils so much I can't even fully describe how much my heart swelled when I saw them on A Cup of Jo. The etsy store is sold out, but it seems like an easy enough project to have some made somewhere else, if you are so inclined. Behold I give you Max Fischer's extracurricular pencil set!

(Photo via A Cup of Jo)

* one of my favorite lines from Rushmore


Why I Heart Being Married

Being married, is in so many ways, a giant security blanket. And I don't mean financially, or anything at all like that. I'm talking about the smaller things. Like this:

I have hyperhidrosis. It doesn't act up all the time, but it is kind of gross, and it does mean that I sometimes have sweaty palms and feet. I have weird ways of controlling it (thick white socks are a must...warm, dry feet = warm, dry hands, underarms, etc.), but occasionally there are social situations where it acts up. Like any time I have to wear pantyhose or trouser type socks. Anytime I wear a skirt, my hands sweat and sweat and sweat, and then swell up from all the sweating. They're also clammy. (You're really learning strange things about me today, huh?)

So what does me having hyperhidrosis have to do with being married? Well, today I got home from work, and I'm wearing trouser type socks, so my hands are nice and sweaty. Normally I would go in the other room and just switch socks, but I'm being particularly lazy while I watch Law & Order and de-stress. I wanted to snack on these Twizzlers I bought (a recent obsession...I could eat them all day, every day), and I went to go open the bag, and my stupid sweaty, swollen hands made it hard. A.P. isn't home from work yet, so I had to dick around with the package for a while. And it made me think.

If A.P. were home, I wouldn't even have to ask, I would hand him the package and he would just open it. I wouldn't have to explain that my hands are clammy and swollen, and I wouldn't have to justify opening and digging in to a big ol' bag of candy. Why? Because I'm married. Not really, but kind of. I would argue that any loving, lasting relationship could provide this same sense of routine and security, but marriage adds an extra layer of warmth (yes, I'm sticking to my security blanket metaphor...deal with it).

I love knowing that A.P. loves me so much that sweaty palms don't bother him (even though he thinks it's totally weird). I love that he accepts that I have a sweet tooth and sometimes candy eating is the norm. I love knowing that what I sometimes can't do (open a bag of candy, open a jar, figure out insurance policies), he's a whiz at. And I love knowing that no matter what I do, all he sees are my awesome qualities. All of those things come from the loving, lasting nature of our relationship. But us being married means that we're not going anywhere, and I get to enjoy this sense of having a PIC (partner in crime, for those not in the know) forever after.


Giving Greenery

We never got the tree up the other night. It snowed in Chicago. Our first big snow. Then, as per usual, it got cold. Very cold. Today was a whopping 16 degrees! Suffice it to say, we never felt like dragging the tree and the boxes of ornaments and decor up three flights of stairs. So instead of looking at a Christmas tree in my living room and getting into the holiday spirit, I've been surfing the internerd. What else is new?

Anyway, check out this awesome find! What better gift to give than a little bit of green to cheer up the joint during the dull, white winters (like the one I'm currently trudging through)? Postcarden is a UK company offering a small assortment of postcards that the receiver can plant a small garden in using the enclosed seeds. That's right...you can plant a mini-garden in the postcard. How freaking rad is that?? What a fabulous idea, and what a clever name for a company!

(Found via Oh Joy!)

(Photo via Postcarden)


Just Gorgeous!

I'm so thrilled for one of my readers/bloggers I like to read, Kiara, who got married a couple of weeks ago. Look at the beautiful sneak peek photos her photographer, Emma Case (who is totally one of my favorite wedding photographers now) posted:

Absolutely gorgeous! Congrats, Kiara!

(Photos via Emma Case Photography)



Another Reader Wedding

Another reader/blogger I like to read, Anna, from Anna and The Ring, also got married recently! She recently posted this lovely bit about feeling nervous before the wedding, and what a wedding means to her (complete with adorable childhood photo). Here's a sneak peek of of her wedding photos (again by the amazing Emma Case):

Check out that giant sky of possibility! You can check out a couple more photos here. Congrats to her and her Bean!

(Photo via Emma Case Photography)

Christmas Time Is Here

This week, the temperature dropped to 30 degrees, some days below that. Yikes! I still haven't even figured out where I'm buying a new winter coat (though I'm leaning towards this bad boy)! But, whether I like it or not, it's December, and that means less than a month until Christmas!

This weekend, we are putting up our tree and staying warm inside. Since we met, we have had a tradition of drinking cocoa, eating a big meal, listening to Christmas music, and decorating the tree. Some years, we throw in some ornament making, or a good gingerbread house, but usually it's all about relaxing, being warm, eating well and spending time together.

The other day, I saw this Target commercial, and thought, "What a catchy freaking Christmas song! I wish there was an indie Christmas album." Still, I figured I could at least track down the one song. So I googled the lyrics, and guess what I found out thanks to this lovely blogger? Target had all these indie bands record Christmas songs, which they are using in their commercials this holiday season. And the best part is that you can download the whole album for free right here. I'm particularly fond of Blackalicious's "Toy Jackpot."

So, go! Download! Get into the holidays! And if you don't celebrate Christmas, consider this a free gift you can give your Christmas celebrating friends!

Have a great weekend!


Everybody's Changing

The other day I had a sobering dream about an old friend, who we will call Michael O'Neal. This old friend was the object of my affection for many years (not to mix movie metaphors). We met to date, and it just never happened between us, and we ended up friends. But here's the secret...I always had feelings for him. The whole friendship was really just a sham, but there were good moments there, and sometimes I miss laughing with him, because we did always really have a good time together. Anyway, the friendship ended rather badly, and we never spoke again. For a while, I missed him, I don't anymore. A.P. would ask me occasionally if I thought about him, and I used to reply that sometimes I did. I missed the ability to watch stupid tv, and monologue over it and make each other cry laughing. I don't have anyone I can do that with now.

Anyway, I hadn't thought about this old friend for a long, long time, it having been about three years since we ended our friendship. Then, the other day, I had this dream. I'm not a big person to describe my dreams, but this one was rather lucid and so I'll give some brief details. We were hanging out together and he saw a wedding magazine on my floor. The magazine had a cover article about having kids. When Michael O'Neal saw it, he asked me if A.P. and I had had kids. The way he asked me this suggested that we hadn't spoken for a long time. I laughed, and told him that no, we hadn't jumped into that pool, yet. I paused, and then said, "But we did get married." He reacted surprised, and then, wouldn't you know it, I woke up!

Anyway, this dream got me thinking about Michael O'Neal, and what he was doing. Five quick Google searches later, I discovered that Michael married his Kimmy, a woman he was dating around the time we stopped being friends. And of course, we know I married my guy.

Here's the thing, I always like to picture my life in layers or chunks of time that seem to lump themselves together based on the friends, jobs, and/or experiences I have. I'm approaching 30 now, but in my mind there have only been about seven layers of my life: Under the age of 5, kindergarten through 4th grade, 5th through 8th grade, high school, college, ages 22-25, and 26 to the present. In each of those layers, I had a lot of people I was very close to in, and yet whenever I think of these people, I don't picture what they're doing now, I picture what they did then.

It is a universal truth that nobody really likes growing up. It means more lost innocence, more memories and moments gone, and more failing body parts. We hang on to our memories of a specific time in order for us be more anchored in our past. Google ruins that completely! I don't want to see Michael O'Neal married! I want to see Michael O'Neal on my old couch, in my old apartment, laughing with me.

Plus! Googling Michael O'Neal only makes me Google other old friends: HoJo and Austin from the ad agency I used to work at, Jenny-O from college, etc. Some I find, and learn that they are married and have kids, or that they've moved out of the area. Some I don't, and I forever wonder what has happened to them. And then I feel...strange. I feel this strange sensation of emptiness that everyone is changing, me included, but we are no longer able to share this news with each other. We can only search for the other from one end of a brightly lit screen.


Autumn Place Cards

Before autumn fades and winter starts bogging us down, I figured I'd better get this post up. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! My arms hurt so much from all the chopping and peeling and carving, but the end result was worth it. I will post pictures soon, but until then, chew on this.

Planning an autumn wedding? Why not use these beautiful miniature topiaries to let your guests know where to plant themselves come reception time!

These lovely topiaries were made by Olivia at Field Journal for Project Wed. You can find full instructions for how to make some of your own here.

(Photo via Field Journal)


Happy Turkey Day!

This year, I am thankful for my wonderful husband. I am thankful for him every day, even if he still hasn't finished the damn thank you cards (that's a post for another time). I appreciate that he listens to me every day, that he loves me, that he loves our little life.

I am thankful for my family, and friends who supported me during my terrible, awful, no good summer.

I am thankful for my job, which I love (even if I work six days a week, 16 hours a day...).

I am thankful for Law & Order, which I watch to de-stress every day (and am watching right now between cooking...TNT marathon, y'all!).

And I am thankful for this little blog, and my wonderful readers.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and that your bellies are full, and your day is happy! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


On the Cusp on a New Decade

Soon, my pets, soon, I will be 30. It's not for a few more months, but it's coming, so I'm thinking about it. I don't actually care that I'm turning 30. My one goal, the only one that really matters to me, is that my credit card is paid off. It will be. It almost already is. So, other than that, my only goal is to have an awesome birthday. Because the last four birthdays have been terrible. One year, my water got turned off, and nobody called me. So basically, I spent the day unloved and dirty. Kickass.

I feel bad, though, because I'm thinking about having a party, and last year, I super big time let A.P. down on his 30th. It was right at the height of wedding planning and stress, and I just couldn't plan a big to do for his birthday, too. So we went out to dinner, and I bought him a really expensive gift to make up for my ineptitude at multi-tasking.

Anyway, the party I'm thinking about having would feature all the music I listened to and loved in my 20s. How awesome would that be? Throw in these record platters, and you've got yourself a kickass party!

(Photo via Gangsta Bride)


The Future

Sometimes I like to picture what our future will be like. For some reason I especially like to do this around the holidays. I always picture warm winters, snuggled up in cozy flannel pajamas, next to a big tree, with hot cups of cocoa and presents and kids, and visiting relatives. Basically, I picture a Folger's commercial, except replace the Folger's with cocoa since I'm not a coffee drinker. Now, I think I'm going to add these yummy homemade pumpkin pop tarts with buttermilk glaze to the fantasy. How delicious do these sound?

Dawn at Vanilla Sugar provides detailed instructions for how to prepare what she refers to as crack tarts here. Go. Explore. Make. (Then email me for my address to send me my batch!)

(Photo via Vanilla Sugar)


A Real Wedding

Happy Friday! This has been a crazy week. On the one hand, my phone was stolen by someone at my job. On the other hand, I found out I won this grant I was working on for a long time! So...you win some, you lose some.

Anyway, It's been a while since I featured a real wedding on this blog. This is mostly because after my own wedding, I was sick to death of weddings. I still can't quite bring myself to even look at wedding blogs that I used to love, but still, some weddings are too good to pass up.

For instance, this gorgeous wedding shot by Tec Petaja. Catherine and Erik had a beautiful, rustic wedding in La Colle sur Loup, France. I've never seen a couple kissing in so many pictures and looking so stunning doing so. I don't know about you guys, but A.P. and I are not big into the PDA. Kissing so much in front of the camera at our wedding felt...strange. Guess I'll never be an actress, huh? But this couple makes all that PDA look...necessary.

(Photos via Tec Petaja)


The Shift

There seems to come a point after you get married when you stop being boyfriend and girlfriend and start being husband and wife. And it's not when you say, "I do." Shortly after we married, everyone would ask A.P. and I if it felt different. "It" being that we were married now, and no longer living in sin. For the most part, I always responded with the joke, "No, it feels like the same boring sh*t." And I meant it, because at the time, it did feel like the same boring sh*t. But now...now it feels different.

I have never posted about this, which is a bit surprising, since many people seem to discuss this topic after they marry. My caution to broach the subject is steeped in the sense that I haven't been a member of the club long enough to know whether what I'm feeling is actually "the shift" or not. But lately, I've been feeling as if this awkward period A.P. and I have been going through is because we're experiencing this shift in both our relationship, and our attitudes towards one another.

I've made no secret that the past few months have been hard for us. We went from happy newlyweds to contemplating going to therapy. That's not a positive step forward for most married couples. In fact, I think most would argue that's a sign we'll become part of the statistic we're so desperately trying to avoid. You know the one...half of all marriages end in divorce. But the thing is, I don't want to divorce A.P. Even when things are terrible and we're at each other's throats, I don't want to divorce him. Heck, I don't even want to think about divorcing him.

So why aren't things going swimmingly? Well, I think it's because I am finally starting to understand what it means to be married. It means...forever. I always knew that, but now I for real know it. I started really thinking about the problems I have with A.P. and our relationship, and I realized that a lot of the fights I have with A.P. these days center around how I can't tolerate certain behaviors forever. It's interesting because part of me feels like I'm having these fights as if I'm trying to work out the kinks now so that the rest of the marriage is mostly smooth sailing. I constantly remember my friend who got married years before my other friends telling me that if she weren't legally married to her husband when they first started out, she would have left him a million times. It's only now, years later, that there's a routine, a comfort. There's an understanding there, one that only comes with the comfort of knowing your partner so well you can predict their every move. That comfort comes from years of being and growing with a loved one.

I don't have years of marriage under my belt, but I do have years of knowing I love A.P. under my belt, and years of knowing he is the one for me. Those prove to be useful things in times like these. It makes me remember why I married him, and why I'm not going anywhere, even if this isn't what I expected or planned for in my first year of marriage. And I also try to remember that we won't always be having these fights. One day, our finances will be in order and work like a well-oiled machine, and we won't have to argue about sitting down and getting our finances in order. One day, we'll have a cleaning routine down, and we won't have to argue about who is going to do what. Those days might not be tomorrow, but they're not far off, either.

In the end, I feel like all this turmoil that we've been enduring as of late is really just the groan of our relationship shifting. I feel like I'm starting to understand what it means to be a wife. I'm starting to understand that a marriage is more work than a regular relationship, though I honestly can't pinpoint what it is that has changed. I'm starting to understand that it's not just about being with one another anymore, but is instead about building a life together. We're figuring out what works for us, and perhaps our learning curve is a little steeper than others.

A funny thing just happened when I was writing this, too. I wanted to verify that a steeper learning curve meant that it was harder to for us to learn. I asked A.P. whether that would be the correct expression, and he told me to google it since he wasn't sure. When I did, I found this answer, which states, "The steeper the learning curve, the progressively more difficult the concepts to be mastered are." And if saying that we have a steep learning curve when it comes to marriage isn't the most appropriate thing ever, I don't know what is! After all, the only "masters" of marriage tend to be those who've been married for fifty or more years, which means that A.P. and I have another good forty-nine and a half years to master this concept.


Tattoo You

I don't have a tattoo. When I turned 18, I wanted to do everything that you can do when you turn 18, including getting a tattoo. My brother offered to get it for me as a birthday present, but for the life of me, I could never commit to anything that I wanted on my body for an eternity. Instead, I opted to be tattoo-free, which I totally am happy about. BUT...but, if I had to have a tattoo, if the world suddenly changed and we were required to tattoo ourselves, I would totally get a tattoo like this:

How cool are these paintbrush tattoos?

(Photos via Gangsta Bride)


A Woman's Right to Shoes

I heart A.P. so, so much. Here's why:

As I've mentioned before, I have a strong addiction to shopping these days. I've been trying to stop, but it seems that now that I have money, it wants to be spent. That being said, I've been trying to update my wardrobe, including winter shoes, of which I have very, very few. Last year, A.P. got me a beautiful pair of Uggs for Christmas, which I adore and wear all the time. More recently, I purchased a pair of Hunter rain boots, something I'd been talking about buying for two years! Then last night, out of boredom, I was searching Zappos for a pair of leather boots. I'd found the perfect pair. I liked them so much, I even thought about them today a bunch of times.

After my stressful day of work, I went to Michael's and bought a bunch of art supplies for an upcoming project. I was exhausted. I got ONE hour of sleep last night because I worked through the night. Then I was in meetings all day today, and ended up staying two hours late at work. Needless to say, I was stressed, exhausted and running on empty. So imagine my surprise when I got up the stairs to our apartment, and saw these bad boys waiting outside the door:

Turns out, after I found them, he sat right next to me on the couch and ordered them without me knowing! He rushed the delivery and there they were, waiting for me by the door. How can you not love a man who buys you beautiful, wonderful shoes??

(Picture via Zappos)


Up Inspired Party

Screw the kids...I want an Up-inspired birthday party!! Check out this awesome Up-themed 7th birthday party (btw, since when do kids have such fancy parties??? I was lucky if I got to have a few friends over for cake or a sleepover!). And of course the photos are amazing since the mother is a photographer. So jealous!

And of course you know I loved the favors the kids got (though I think A.P. pulls it off better than a 7 year old!)

(Photos via Hostess with the Mostess)


I [Anatomically] Heart You

What better way to tell someone you love them than with an anatomical heart? I'm super into all these great etsy finds! (Meanwhile, I'm swamped with work...will post more soon!)

Beautiful Silver Anatomical Heart Necklace from etsy shop House That Crow Built

Simple Anatomical Heart Stationary Set from etsy shop The Craft Pantry

Bold, Fantastic I Anatomically Heart You Note Cards from the etsy shop Sweet Dee

Adorable Matchbook Mini-Notebooks Stamped with an Anatomical Heart from etsy shop The Little Bird Told Me

And one of the best for last...I Anatomically Heart You Note Card from etsy shop Letter Happy


A.P., The Halloweenie

A.P. and I were invited to a Halloween party, which A.P. does NOT want to go to. (He's the Halloweenie...get it?) Alas, he's going anyway...assuming we can find a costume. We went to this awesome, gigantic Halloween store this past weekend, but walked out empty-handed. I have come up with many, many ideas for what we could be, but A.P. can't get on board with any. Here are my top choices:

  • Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein - He wears a white t-shirt, suit jacket and we do up his makeup like Frankenstein. I wear a white dress, and do my hair in a giant beehive with white on the sides.
  • King Kong and Anne Darrow - A.P. really wants to wear a gorilla costume, so this was my compromise. He could wear his gorilla costume and carry around a small Empire State Building, and I could wear a white dress and style my hair with finger waves, wear red lipstick, etc.
  • The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men - This is my number one pick because it's clever but requires very little "costume." I wear a gray t-shirt with mice all over it, slick back my hair, and carry around one of my mustaches on a stick (recycled from our wedding!). A.P. wears a purple shirt covered in purple balloons and carries around a sword.

That's all I got. Do you guys have any ideas? What are you all dressing up as this year?


Officially Fall...Sort Of

It's finally officially fall...or so it seems. It's been unseasonably warm lately, and frankly even yesterday felt like the end of summer, but today's crisp, cool temperature, and the rain and wind made it feel like real fall weather. I always know it's fall when I'm wearing sweaters and am walking down the street and simultaneously sweating from wearing so many layers and getting an earache from the cold wind.

A wee while back I decided that fall was my favorite season. Until then, I had always said my favorite seasons were the in-between ones: spring and fall. But it was this year that made me decide that I've been lying to myself. Fall is my real favorite. Everything about it is awesome:

  • Apple picking
  • The 1st day of school, and that "fresh, new start" feeling (Not that I'm a student anymore, but you know...I still get that excited feeling when I see school supplies lining the aisles.)
  • Beautiful, round orange pumpkins
  • Gorgeous deep red Indian corn
  • Beautiful, unique gourds
  • Pumpkin flavored ANYTHING (So far this season, I've had pumpkin butter, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, and I'm making a pumpkin pudding pie for dessert tonight!)
  • Gold, russet, and orange mums
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Pilgrims, and Puritanism in general (I know that sounds weird, but it's one of my favorite periods of American Literature!)
  • Layering clothes
  • I get to wear my Uggs again! So comfy...like working in slippers!
  • Knee socks
  • Corduroy
  • Pretty sweaters
And I swear, the list could go on and on.

It's around this year that I always remember the quote from You've Got Mail where Meg Ryan's characters tells Tom Hanks's character, "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address." I don't live in New York, and while I'm sure New York in the fall is lovely, there's nothing I love more than fall in Chicago. I love walking down the street and kicking the leaves about. The tree lined lake and the way the waves begin to thrash about as it gets colder? Who could ask for anything more beautiful! But otherwise, that line always makes me smile. I would love nothing more in this world than for someone to give me a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils! How weirdly wonderful! Or wonderfully weird!

This year we were lucky enough to go apple picking. Sadly it was on one of the least fall days of the season...it was 80 degrees out. Plus, A.P. didn't tell me that it was that warm out, and the days before, it had been rather chilly. So my dumb ass wears my Uggs and a cardigan! I was sweating like an animal out there picking apples in the hot sun! Still, it was a lot of fun. It was our second time going to this orchard, too, so in some ways it's become a tradition. Maybe one day, if we're still going there, we can take our future bebes. Who knows? Until then, enjoy some of the photos from this year!

We had never eaten Culver's before, so on the way, we made a pit stop for gas, and got some Culver's. It was...meh.

Go Hawks!

It was so hot and we were so thirsty that we each drank TWO cold ciders! And a caramel apple!

Let's get another closeup on that caramel apple!

One of the other things we didn't take pictures of were the cider donuts! OMG! Soooo delicious! You wait in this line, and then they hand you your bag with steaming hot cider donuts. I also bought a bag to freeze! So kickass!

A.P. picks out the perfect pumpkin

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