Introducing Mr and Mrs Marrvelous

Not a lot of time to write but just had to post a little "Yippee! We're hitched!"
The weekend was perfect - mishaps occurred and it was still the most perfect 72 hours of celebrations. Better than we imagined and so full of laughter, tears and joy. We're off to Florida in the morning with family for the holidays (not the real honeymoon but man am I looking forward to sleeping in, reading my book in the sunshine, eating a lot of cheese and drinking a lot of wine, and not having to coordinate anything!). When I'm back I'll definitely do recaps because not only do I really want to share but I want to preserve all of our memories and feelings before they escape.

I also really wanted to send a huge Thank You to the many wonderful women who comment here from around the blog world ... to say thank you for all the support in getting to this day - during those "oh my I'm so overwhelmed and if I have to be responsible for one more thing I might shout and storm out" moments, I simply thought back on the many emails, comments, posts exchanged back and forth. That's all it took most of the time to remind myself to take a deep breath and ... smile. So thank you.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with one of my favorite (non pro) photos:


I Caved...


and totally gave into the "but it's your special weekend so you deserve to have new shiny, fun clothes". I got to a point where I kept looking through the closet and dresser and couldn't think of anything I wanted to have immortalized in photos for the rest of my life.

(No, this isn't actually my closet, but true story - my best friend/matron of honor and I did buy matching tiger t-shirts that look surprisingly like this one while backpacking in Brazil. Hot.)

I didn't go overboard, but originally I had told myself that with a smaller, more laid back weekend planned, I really didn't need to go over the top with new clothes. It would be kind of silly to show up in a fancy (even if super cute) new dress for the "rehearsal" if said rehearsal was at our house and I was chowing down on cheesesteaks.

And then this weekend I was in and out of shops doing some holiday gift buying and then I came home with a few new items for me. It was inevitable.


Philly Represent!

I've mentioned on here once or twice the deep love Marrv has for Philadelphia, his "adopted" home. He started coming to the suburbs of Philly back when he was still in university. He'd come for the summers to coach golf at a rather prestigious summer camp. Upon finishing Uni back in the UK, the same camp offered to employ him full time here as director of the golf coaches. So he packed his bags and set off by himself to move to a new country. He's been here ever since (2005). We could have an entirely different and long discussion about what it takes to even make that move - but suffice to say, those same necessary characteristics are some of the ones I admire and respect about him and make me love him every day.

I grew up outside of Philly and have lived in the city on and off for the past 10 years (wow. nothing like putting it down on "paper" to make yourself feel old!). And although I wander away every few years, and plan to wander away together in our future, it will always be home.

It's funny because we've been calling the night before the wedding 'International Night' as it is when both sides are meeting for the first time. But we thought our "rehearsal" dinner would actually be the perfect place to highlight our city - through its food. As a way to maximize mingling (and keep costs down!), we are having everyone to our home the Saturday night before the wedding. Now, with a small guest list (35 in total) it makes it a little more doable, even with a city apartment!

We made our calls over the past few days to order the food and we're both so psyched. The menu is Philly to the core.


The Calm Before the Storm

We're in the final stretch. Yesterday was the 2 week mark until my in-laws (teehee, I love having in-laws. I know, who says that? But mine are awesome...more on them to come in another post) arrive. Marrv woke up yesterday and did a little jig on his way to the shower, calling back to me over his shoulder "Two weeks! Two weeks babe 'til mum and dad arrive". Talk about one super excited guy - going a whole year without seeing family will do that to you for sure.

I feel like there is just so much left to do tho I've been able to stay rather calm. I get comments daily from random people about how calm I am. I definitely take it as a compliment, but it also makes me a bit sad that it seems so odd to people that they feel the need to comment. That the "normal" bride is always so frazzled and crazed that anything less than shouting and sobbing is considered "different". I do fear that I still have a few sobs left in me though, like I said - still a bunch to get done and as much as I want to have it all out of the way before I pick up my in-laws (happy face again) I know there are some things that just can't be done until the wedding weekend - cake pick ups, taking said cakes and other decor to the restaurant, flowers (I've decided I'm going neighborhood market day of route because I can't be bothered trying to find a reasonably priced florist who doesn't drop their jaw when I say I need just two bouquets and a wrist corsage in less than 2 wks - lord help me). And I'm a bit fearful of who I may turn into smack dab in the middle of 15 errands on Saturday morning. But I'll deal with that when and if it happens.

We took care of our seating arrangement the other night while laying in bed. It got heated quickly which I knew it would and which is why I tried to suggest not doing this just before bed. I think it shocked Marrv though that who sits next to who actually matters or that someone may actually be upset by not sitting with another particular person. After several deep breaths, we scribbled it out and everyone is going to have a seat and plenty of booze so hopefully they're all happy.

And of course, walking around the city the past few blustery, chilly days it has finally hit me - I'm going to be one COLD bride! Eek. We were hoping to walk from ceremony location to reception restaurant as it's only about 6 blocks and you have to walk through our favorite city park to get there (pictures!). Now besides the fact that I'm a bit terrified of my 4.5 inch heels (they're so gorgeous tho) I'm thinking I'm just going to use my normal winter dress jacket. Um, tell me that's ok, right?!

Well, hasn't this ended up as one rambling post? I started with the idea of expressing how I feel calm even with a ton to do and knowing that we'll just keep plugging away day by day. And even with the fear of the potential (and most likely, inevitable) stress... I'm still so freaking excited! Excited for the in-laws, family and friends to get here! Excited for the dinners, showing off my dress, for people to see our guest book (yes, tiny bit victim of the 'pretty details') and excited to stand up with Marrv and say I Do !

(an early photo of the two of us...on a pretty fun special night. someone may have said I love you. and someone may have said it back. and of course we may have happened to be our local pub.)


Giving Thanks

Sunday night, lying on one section of our L shaped couch with book in hand, snuggled under big fluffy blanket. Marrv lying on the other section of the L shaped couch intently watching football, snuggled under really plush blanket with both kitties snuggled right in there with him.

He turns to me and asks "What are you thankful for this year?" - just a hint of a smile on his face.

I say nothing, and simply point at him, then at his chest where Reina is curled in between her papa and the couch, then lower at his feet where Sammy J lies comfortable in his position as king of the house.

The moments of stress - wedding related, career related, finance (or lack thereof) related all fade out of mind as I think about our family (not solely by blood).

The family on one side that has instantly welcomed me and accepted me as one of their own. Made me feel comfortable and loved like they've known me forever. The family on the other side that has supported me through some devastating lows and a lot of really wonderful highs for the past 30+ years and make me who I am today.

And this year...for my baby family that's just really starting to take hold and blossom and grow. I'm a happy, and deeply thankful, girl.


Eye on the Prize

The prize is a loving, healthy, challenging marriage and life together right?

Wrong! It's the honeymoon! (ok, no. I don't really think that a vacation is more of a prize than our loving, healthy, and challenging - as in challenge each other to be better people - marriage and baby family BUT I do really like vacation too)

And even though we're only 5 weeks away from the big day and there are still plenty of wedding-related chores and decisions to be made....we've been overly focused on the whole 'let's take a trip' part of it.

As I've mentioned before, immediately following the wedding we are jetting off for a week of sunshine in Florida with my in-laws (yay!), my sister (another yay!) and my aunt (the final yay!). This was always the original Christmas 2010 plan and then we decided to throw the wedding onto the beginning of all that - and we're pumped for this (I keep working on my facial and full fist pump/knee on the ground reaction so that I'm totally prepared when I get my wand from the Wizarding World of HP!). However, it is NOT the "honeymoon".



We've been cranking through our to-do list. Still on the high of being so close and feeling productive (I'm sure it'll crash and burn soon and I'll be near hysterics and screaming "but what about stickers for the out of town boxes" at a high pitch squeal and hopefully I'll remember to just let it all go...but anyway....)

There's just this one small issue I've been avoiding - avoiding thinking about, avoiding creating a plan, and even avoiding writing about here. But then today's A Practical Wedding post happened. And I realized, I have to start confronting it.

The "IT" you ask? The IT is that on a day when Marrv and I will be surrounded by the most important people in our lives and to show our commitment in building our family together, three of the most important people in my life won't be there. My mother went first. She passed away when I was 15. Next was my brother, the second oldest in the family, bringing my siblings count from four to three when I was just 27 years old. Then, about two weeks after I turned 30, and just before he turned 72, my dad died.

I make jokes that the wedding isn't that large because my family keeps getting smaller. We're all dying off. I won't go into great detail about the impact this has had on my relationship with Marrv (I'll save that for another post), but I have noticed that now that I have my partner, he is certainly the target of a lot of my worry, concern and fear. He and I both know that every time I nag about how much red meat he eats and how it's bad for his heart (usually as I am also trying to sneak a bite of the very same bacon cheeseburger..) that it's really my fear of losing him, my need to control the relationships in my life that is the cause. Every day when I harp on the need to take daily vitamins, we know why.


Oh Snap...

Did someone say two months? TWO MONTHS!

And where is my mind currently? Pretty much in that "Throw some cash at it and hope it gets done!" crazy state of holy moly in two months exactly we're getting married in front of our family and friends!

There is still so much to do but right now, we're dealing with it and I'm feeling ok. I'm picking invites up from printers tonight, my wedding band is being cast as I type and should be finished shortly, kilts are practically ordered, and we've agreed on table top decor. Now, you know, to write the ceremony, figure out the whole flower situation (I am so lost on that one that I've barely thought about it), pick piper songs, and create our iPod playlist for the restaurant (oh yes - when I went to the reception restaurant to drop off contract and deposit they let me know that our floor has its own sound system and we can bring our iPod to play whatever music we want!!! It was just one more bit to make me love the wedding we've chosen/created).

And more than all this - I think both Marrv and I are so excited it's only 2 months away because it means only 2 months until we see all of our best friends (both those coming to the wedding and those incredible individuals helping us out even if they're not attending...our magic wedding fairies). And most importantly - only 2 months until Marrv's parents arrive from Scotland! Fortunately, I've got pretty outstanding In-laws. Unfortunately they live across a big fat ocean. It's hard only seeing them once, maybe twice, a year. We skype most Sundays, but it's not the same and this time each year is when Marrv gets especially cranky/antsy -- he knows he sees them soon which is good because he is basically at the point where he can't take seeing them much longer. And now that I've been so lovingly wrapped into this family, I feel the same way.

So yeah -- Two Months! Bring it!



I think I've talked on here before about me and surprises. I love to give them but have a horrible time pulling it off. I always seem to buy something special for Marrv as a little surprise, and then have IM'd him on our blackberries before the day is even over to tell him what it is. I buy Christmas gifts and then ask if someone wants it early. Even planning his birthday party this year was so hard because there were times I just wanted to say "Guess what is going to happen!!" And I think I've been rubbing off on him because he seems to have a hard time keeping things from me anymore as well.

Except this time he did!

As I mentioned in my last post, I was up in Boston a few weeks ago for a big work conference that took up a lot of my (and my department's) energy and focus for the past few months. So in our debrief meeting, when our director told us that we were having a pizza lunch Thursday the 7th as a "thank you" for all the hard work - I simply thought "awesome, free lunch". Which in my world, free lunch is pretty sweet and especially when it's good gourmet pizza from the shop down the road. and it's free - did I mention that?

So when I walked up to the conference room yesterday to find a closed door, I wondered if I was in the wrong place - until I opened the door to a loud chorus of "Surprise" and saw bridal shower decorations and gifts everywhere.


Bad Blogger

So the last time we were here, we saw the heroine of this story in the middle of a melt down and feeling as if she was sinking into the many demands of life and so scared she would continue sinking until smothered her.

Well I'm here to tell you....I'm baaaack. (you know, until the next time it all becomes too much that is!)

It was certainly strange there for a bit. I'm not sure I can even adequately put into words how "overwhelmed" I was feeling. And it wasn't just the wedding. It was life. The wedding simply was that final straw that always seemed to push and push and push on everything else. It just fully dawned on me how much was going on with work, keeping up with my friendships, travels and then the wedding too. And one day it really hit me - both of my parents are deceased, my in-laws live in Scotland, my matron of honor lives in California and as much as Marrv may want to be involved, he works 8am to 9pm most days - making for a not overly involved groom. That leaves little ol' me. But Marrv was there through it all, took the brunt of my harsh reactions and emotional melt downs (had a few of his own) and here we are, on the other side of it and feeling way more excited and happier.

And I had a birthday this week! We celebrated by jetting off to the mountains with friends for a few nights. We kicked ass in a "sangria-off" among the group(Or maybe it was the sangria that kicked our ass....) and partook in hilarious games of Cranium where there are no other words to describe my ability other than "On Fire! Huzzah!" (Yes, I may have shouted that a few times. And again, I blame the sangria). Marrv spoiled me rotten, and I probably got the best gift from the in-laws...in the card they mailed over, they included a photo of little Marrv on his tricycle, with a little red rain slicker, little blue wellies (this was Scotland after all) and just the cutest little look on his face. It now resides on the table next to the bed - something for me to glance over and help to put a smile on my face at times when I may need a reminder of what it's all about.

To wrap up this long ramble ... tomorrow I'm taking a lunch time trip to a jeweler! To discuss wedding bands and other possible new fun jewelry! And I am SOOOO excited. There are so many bits and pieces to the wedding and some of them are cool but honestly, you could probably go 10 different ways on the decision and be ok with it. Or some things that you do because you "have" to - for whatever reason. Then there are the things that you can't stop thinking about because to you, they're the things that really matter. And for me, this is one of those things. I know objectively that a ring doesn't make a marriage. But I cannot wait to slip on that band. When I think of it, to me, all I think of is the commitment and family that we are busy creating and building.

Fingers crossed these jewelers are "the one"!


Mini Melt Downs

I have been quite remiss in blogging lately. I feel like I have a lot of things to talk about (is it possible to have TOO many things to talk about?) but just don't feel like I have a minute to myself lately, let alone to write. I've been traveling every weekend, work is uber busy at the moment with a conference in Boston coming up at the end of the month, trying to fit in happy hours/dinners/drinks/walks by the river with friends who I haven't seen in weeks, not to mention that football is about to start so there go our Sundays. I admit it, tailgating Eagles' games is way more fun for me than debating the value of wedding favors. true.

But in any case, there's just been so much going on that I feel like I'm losing myself a bit.

We are officially, today, 100 days out from the wedding! (people are always astonished I know the exact number, and then I remind them I have a countdown on my blog - which right now is helpful but I think when it hits 50 I may have to put a big black censor bar over it) I am so freakingly excited for being so close - 100 days out means 97 days until Marrvelous's marvelous parents arrive, 99 days until we're sipping on cocktails and local cuisine with family and friends at our house watching most of them meet for the first time, it means 102 days until we take off with the in-laws, my sis and my aunt for a week in Florida and it means 108 days until Wizarding World of Harry Potter!! (comes a close second behind big days I'm excited for in the next few months :)

I've started working on the invites. A bit of a DIY endeavor with the help of a good friend. And thank god for her because if not, let's just say I would have had the printer and the computer (along with the blasted Illustrator software) out the window and on the curb out front within 10 minutes. Then quickly followed by a drain on my wallet as I whipped out the credit card to pay several hundreds of dollars for invitation suites made off-site. We made progress though, and hopefully finishing the deal next week - and will certainly share after they go out.

Still debating about having them printed professionally -- could use some help, is this something Kinkos/Staples could do? Or should I find a little mom and pop printing shop in Philly? It's probably no more than 80 pieces all together so I'm hoping the fee wouldn't be too bad. Thoughts?


Off to North Cackalacky

Off to Pinehurst, North Carolina for a nice four day vacation with a few of Marrvelous's friends - including our best man! Yay, I get to meet our best man. finally. I know, strange that I haven't met such an integral part of our extended family, isn't it?

Two of Marrv's best friends from Scotland live here in the States as well (Pinehurst and West Palm, FL), both are golf pros as well and are married to American women. The friends from FL will be there (as well as the Florida Scotsman's parents ... from Scotland. And yes, the father is a golf pro in Scotland. Over there they just put golf clubs in their hands as wee boys!)

I'm really looking forward to a long weekend with a group of people Marrv considers family. We spend so much time with my friends or friends he has made here in Philly since moving to the US, but these are the friends who have known him since he was a youngin' and will be the ones with the truly obnoxious, yet hilarious toasts at the wedding.

Needless to say I'm looking forward to it - but the best part has been the look on Marrv's face every day this week. He's like a child at Christmas, so excited to be on vacation, play golf and more than anything - spend time with his best mates. It makes me so happy to see him so happy.

Enjoy your weekend y'all!


A Place to Celebrate!

As mentioned previously, a few weekends ago, Marrvelous and I checked out yet another restaurant location as possibility for hosting our brunch reception. We had a long list of places to consider (Philly really is a great food town), but I think we were holding this one out for last just to be able to confirm to ourselves that this was the right choice.

From the get-go, the owner has been brilliant to work with - quick replies, creating multiple personalized proposals for menus, and just an overall attitude of being sincerely happy to host our celebration.

I knew I needed a place that had good food. Our city has too many fabulous restaurants to settle for anything less than deliciousness. Although I admit, I was a bit worried that even though we are going the brunch route, some restaurants may be out of our budget. But with those personalized proposals, the owner has also provided us several different pricing options as well. And as far as the food goes, all I have to say is that the menu will have jumbo lumb crab eggs benedict on it and so this going to be one happy little bride!

Finally, not only is the location perfect (just about 6 blocks from our ceremony venue and those 6 blocks take us straight through our favorite park which will be perfect for photos) but the look of the restaurant is spot on. We are taking over the 2nd floor, and the ceiling is made up of three extra-large skylights - so we'll have tons of light (fingers crossed for a bright wintery day - or even snow!) and you can also see the restaurant's gardens atop the skylights (from which they pull their vegetables and herbs).

So without further ado...please meet the restaurant where we will be toasting, laughing, and basking in the love and support from our family and friends...


Weighed down with Guilt

Ok, so now that we're only roughly four months away I've been putting more thought into the logistics for our guests. Wondering when they'll arrive, where they'll stay, what meals we should provide, all of that. And now this huge weight of guilt has fallen on top of my shoulders and I can't seem to shrug it off.

Our wedding may be on the more intimate side, but there is still a group of out of towners and we're asking them to travel the weekend before the Christmas holidays. And with a Sunday morning wedding, I wonder if they'll have to stay over night until Monday as well.

I start thinking about how much it will cost them for flights. For hotels. For drinks and meals that they may need other than the two "times" we're providing. Taking time off work. Some of these younger couples have babies or infants and may even be leaving them with grandparents so they can travel a little lighter.

And all for our little, tiny, insignificant marriage celebration.


Look Out Oprah!!

(And yes. There will be Cheezborger! Cheezborger! involved. And no pepsi, coke!)

I'm coming to your house! Or rather, one of your bajillion houses all over the world.

Heading to Chicago tomorrow morning for a quick mini girls' weekend away! My group of girl friends from college, who I've talked about on here before - see here and here - are spread out all over the country (and actually world...we've got one who currently resides in India with hubby and baby). Close friends for over 10 years now and I feel so lucky every day that these 5 fabulous women are still in my life.

With age though comes a)being spread out all over the world b)marriages c)real jobs that require us to actually work and not take as much time adventuring as we'd like d) multiple babies (!). We all decided at the beginning of this year that we could use a girls only weekend - it's been so long since we've done something like this and then it became a question of where. Since there is a west coaster and many east coasters, we settled on Chicago. And just as it took forever to find a weekend that worked for all of us, well, what started as a 6 person trip is now down to 3. Oh well, life happens.

But us 3 are planning on totally living it up with deep dish pizza, booze, bike tours (Oprah's house!), dinner at one of Rick Bayless's restaurants (I'm counting down the minutees), plenty of good old fashioned mid-western charm and more booze.

Enjoy the weekend!


Lovefest Weekend Recap


After a rather terrifying wedding-related nightmare last week, followed by high levels of anxiety for the rest of the day, I managed to have one of the loveliest weekends with Marrvelous in a long time. It was the kind of weekend that helps to remind us crazy kids why we are doing this in the first place!

In addition to what feels like entering crunch time of wedding planning, Marrv works some pretty crazy hours. Not only does he work Saturdays (as a golf pro, I'm just happy he has Sundays off), but he doesn't get home until close to 9pm on most nights. And then throw in that he's had juniors' camp added on top of his normal set of client lessons over the past few weeks - well, he's been a bit of a grump working on limited sleep. Pretty sure this weekend was what we both needed.


The Horror


Alright everyone, it's happened. I had my first wedding nightmare.

The dream opened with me in a locker room style setting surrounded by several girl friends and it was time to get ready. Why it was a locker room with benches and tall lockers rather than the pretty bridal suite at the Colonial Dames, I have no idea. Maybe I was drawing on my many years of competitive sports. But that definitely set the tone - something in the milk ain't clean.

Instantly I realize that it's the morning of the wedding and I don't have a slip or any proper undergarments for my dress. Cut to me breaking and entering into some lingerie store (and for some reason I now realize it's still dark out...which perhaps is because we're having a morning ceremony in the winter...) I was instantly caught by the shop attendants, but they decided to take pity on me and gave me the one extra large full body girdle apparatus left in the store. I say thank you, grab it and race back to my locker room where there are now 20 more people that aren't suppose to be there or even invited to the wedding. Some young girl I don't know comes up to me and tells me that somehow she's managed to soak the bottom half of my dress. (Yes, now my dress has become detachable. Which seemed oddly normal in the dream). I start screaming bloody murder at the trollop who has appeared out of nowhere and destroyed my "skirt".

This is when my friend, who is a make up artist and will be prettying me up on the real morning, shows up and tells me it'll be ok. She can fix the dress. But let's get my hair done so she can start the make up. And it hits me. I don't have anyone to do my hair. And in the middle of this horror, it just feels like the worst thing I could have forgotten. I mean, how can I possibly walk down the aisle with my thin, stick straight hair?

The end of the dream was the absolute worst. All of a sudden it's the next morning, I'm standing with Marrvelous and I turn to him and say "I can't remember any of it". And I realize that I went from locker room debacle straight to the next morning. And I try and try and try to envision the ceremony, the reception, anything, and realize I can't.

The wedding happened and Marrv is showing me photos and I don't remember any of it and now it's done and I have no memory of the day with our family and friends.

It was a horrible, horrible feeling. And when I woke up, I instantly rolled over to get a hug from Marrv and remind myself that it was only a nightmare. The first one; hopefully the last one! But if I happened to spend a few hours today trying to sort out a few more of the items on the "To-do List", that's not necessarily a bad thing. Right?!


Random Dress Musings

I got the call. My dress has arrived at the shop. I was told it would take 6 weeks and it took 2. And now I have what feels like 1000 thoughts running through my mind as I get ready to go pick it up Saturday.

1. Where the heck do I store it? Besides the fact that we only have one closet that is full-length and that happens to be the coat closet under the stairs (our clothes are stored in a wall to wall custom built wardrobe style thingy), I don't want Marrv seeing it pre-wedding. I know more and more couples are doing things differently, but this is probably that one small tradition I'm choosing to hold on to.

2. With that said, I immediately thought to take it to my aunt's home (the aunt I went shopping with) out in the 'burbs. She just also happens to be out on the west coast for the next month visiting my sister. So then I started to wonder, will it be ok in a closet in her home with no air condition going on for another month? I don't even know if that's a ridiculous thing to be concerned about or not. But I am. So what do you think - does a home with no air condition turned off for the next month and a much warmer than average summer happening have the possibility of destroying my newly purchased dress?

3. Is it wrong to be eyeing shoes that cost almost as much as the dress? How soon did people then buy their shoes? Should I definitely have "the pair" ready for when I go for alterations?

4. And alterations! Is it just easiest/best to do it at the store where I bought the dress? (the thought of scary Russian alteration lady fussing on me again certainly doesn't have a calming effect)

5. Alterations also means I need to get my act in gear related to the bits that will go on first, underneath the dress. All those fancy pull, lift, squeeze, smooth bits. (and that's as far as I go discussing that since I know the in-laws read this from time to time - Hello Marrvelouses!)

6. What else do I need to consider, think about, stress over, freak out on?


Summer 2010 Girls Getaway #1 (or the weekend I got heatstroke)

Every summer for the past 5 years, a group of girlfriends and I pick a weekend to get out of the city and go camping. The campsites have varied over the years from middle PA to the past two years when we were in Henlopen State Park in Delaware. This was the ideal spot because it also had beach access! Not sure how many of you have camped before (and no, we're not badass and doing backwoods camping - I'm talking car camping where you drive up to your spot and pitch up your tent), but it's always ideal to have something to spend your day doing so that it's not just 48 hours of sitting by your tents. So Henlopen was great - we could be on the beach during the day, it's a state park so there was some hiking around too, cook our dinner over the fire back at the site, sometimes they'd have nightly ranger talks (though we pretty much got kicked out of the one we went to) and then a little midnight moonlight beach trip as well. Good times.


20 Random Facts

So I saw this on other local Philly bride Dana's Lover's Waltz: Our Low-Key Philadelphia Wedding site, and I thought - hmm, we're not all about our weddings and our honeymoons. Why not talk a little bit about all the other stuff that helps to make me who I am. Both of those ladies wrote 25 facts, but I had to weed it down to 20 so as not to bore myself to sleep!

1. I love surveys. I'm a sucker for them. Exhibit A: this blog post

2. I have been an aunt since I was 13 and now have 6 nephews and 1 niece - all of whom I adore. Here I am, about to get schooled in Guitar Hero by my 7 year old niece!

3. I have a ridiculous, insane fear of birds. I typically clench up as I walk by pigeons on the sidewalk and have been close to hyperventilating in places like St. Mark's and Trafalgar Square.

4. I really love watching pelicans soar in a line, dipping over the waves though.

5. I have been to 6 of the 7 continents. Antarctica anyone?

6. My Africa, Asia and Australia continent exposure could use some boosting tho!

7. I could read every book by Jane Austen over and over without getting bored. The same goes for Harry Potter 1-7, for sure.

8. I'm 50% Lebanese, have studied Arabic in classes, workbooks and cds. And can still only say a minimal amount like "hello", "Yes", "my name is", "I'm lebanese" and "Kiss my ass". You know, the basics.

9. Losing my mother at 15 is the event in my life that has had the most impact - both good and bad - on me. And it's something I still deal with 17 years later.

10. I could eat Mexican food every day for the rest of my life and be happy. Marrvelous has frequently asked me if I'm totally positive that I don't have some Mexican ancestry and noted that he has eaten more tacos, flautas and tortas in the 17 months we've been together than in his whole life.

11. Madonna Like a Prayer is my go-to karaoke song.

12. I insist on seeing all Oscar nominated films and those that have the actors/actresses nominated before the Oscars - even if it means seeing two movies back to back to fit them all in before the big night.

13. I am the biggest texter you'll ever meet. I know several people who have had to up their monthly texting capacity since meeting me. If you want an immediate response, text me. If you call, I'll probably screen it and just text you later. Sorry, nothing personal.

14. I played competitive sports growing up, including Division I lacrosse in college and really miss playing competitively. It tends to come out instead in any other sport-related activity in which I participate. As seen here in a wicked game of water balloon toss (look at that form, that determination...)

15. I love a sporty guy - so it's a good thing Marrvelous is also competitive and athletic. He is currently helping me with my golf game. He's a professional golfer and a great coach. And I admit, the first time we went together and he hit the ball 300 yards long and straight...my knees got weak.

16. I really want to live overseas again at some point. I'm hoping to use Marrv's golf career as a means to end up at some fancy beachy resort in Central America. He can be the golf pro while I lounge beach side. A girl can dream.

17. I've recently (like the last 6-9 months) become a lot more conscientious about my eating habits. I don't know if it has to do with reading Michael Pollan's works, getting older and starting to think about my health differently, or consciously thinking about someone else's health as much as mine...but I now frequent the farmers' markets regularly, look for the grass-fed, no anti-biotics, organic labels, and ask about where my food is coming from.

18. If I could have anyone's job in the world it would be Anthony Bourdain. I always do extensive research on local food and top restaurants when I plan for a trip. Mmmm, chowder bowls in SF! Look at that expressiveness - I'd be a natural on camera!

19. Introducing Marrvelous to National Lampoon's Animal House may be one of my proudest moments.

20. I can never seem to choose in the "beach house" or "mountain home" debate. I love an early morning walk along the beach, followed by a few hours on the beach cruiser, drinks with the sound of the ocean in the background, and wearing your favorite hoodie at night while you sit on the balcony watching the stars. But I love long hikes, and getting out on lakes to kayak or canoe. And I love building a good fire and being bundled up with great big trees all around. Soooo, I'll just take both. Thank you very much.


How It All Started

After meeting Marrvelous, I have become a firm believer in the idea that things happen for a reason. I know a lot of the time people cling to that little phrase in order to justify or alleviate the confusion they feel after something bad or upsetting has happened. But the situation with Marrvelous and me at the very early stages of our relationship just made us both realize that when one door closes, it's because another one is going to open and help you continue on the right path. (sidenote: I think that will be the last cliche in the post...maybe)

It was a Thursday night in late February 2009. I was exhausted from work, and to be honest, exhausted from life. Or rather, the romantic life. A month earlier I had finally, officially ended a two year relationship that had been teetering on the edge of destruction from almost the beginning. Two people who wanted different things and yet took (way too) long time to determine that once and for all.

So back to the Thursday evening when I went home from work debating whether I would actually go to the happy hour/night out for a newish friend's birthday. I told myself I'd nap, skip the happy hour part, and see if I felt up for the festivities a bit later in the night. I awoke to several messages from friends who were already out celebrating, encouraging me (and harassing me) to get out and get some drinks. So I did.


The One You Always Dreamed About...

Just about three weeks ago, I did it. I went dress shopping.

Since getting engaged, I definitely had spent a good chunk of time over the past 6 months or so looking at dresses online and in magazines. I was also well aware of my limited budget, plus honestly, there is a part of me that just screams "you only wear it once, for one day" over and over inside my head. Don't get me wrong, I fell instantly in love with every Monique Lhuillier, one or two Jim Hjelm and quite a few Melissa Sweet. I also incorporated many hours on the Weddingbee classifieds, Recycled Bride pages and PreOwned Wedding Dresses. But then I always got freaked out about sizing and what the dress really looked like in person, the feel of the fabric, the weight of it...and I could never bring myself to buy one.

I had it in my head that I would visit Nordstroms (for the customer service alone it makes me want to open my wallet), Saks, Bloomies, etc and see what I could find off the rack. Not only did I think these would fit in my budget, but I have a confession. As much as I love buying new clothes, and I thought the dress part could be fun and really pretty and all of that -- I get a little antsy about being the sole center of some salesperson's attention. I don't think it's just that sometimes salesclerks can be pushy, or that you walk away buying 5 more products or articles of clothing you didn't even need (and jeez, 1 hour in Target lets me know I'm capable of overbuying all on my own, I don't need a trained salesperson to help). I think it's also because I just like the independence and having that quiet moment with your own thoughts before having several people flock around you and tell you 'get this' or 'try this'.

So with all of these different thoughts running through my head, I made an appointment at a local shop with the intention of a Nordstroms' visit immediately after, called up my aunt who I'm super close with and said "Um, do you want to go with me while I look at dresses?". She was pretty touched that I asked her, of course I wanted her there, but my thinking also involved the following:
1. My mother passed away when I was 15
2. My mother in law lives in Scotland
3. The one person, my MOH, that I've asked to "stand up" for us lives on the other side of the country
4. How could I possibly subject other friends to the horror of sitting in a bridal shop for hours while I walked in and out of the dressing room huffing and puffing my way through a ton of dresses!


Viva Espana!

Felicidades, Espana! The 2010 World Cup Champions.

Yesterday was insane - we watched the final at an outdoor block party at our local Irish pub and by the end, I had lost my voice, was waving my red belt over my head and dancing my tush off to the Gypsy Kings along with the other Spanish fans clogging the street (honestly, I was surprised by the number of Orange Crush supporters, who knew so many Dutch lived in Philly!).

I've been rooting for Spain from day 1 (sorry, USA) so even though Marrvelous had chosen to support the Dutch - he was happy for me.

If you haven't seen it already, please find the video of Spanish keeper Iker Casillas's post game interview with his girlfriend Sara Carbonero (a reporter for Telecinco) - even if you don't speak Spanish, it'll make you weak in the knees!

A bit tired today, struggling to get through work. So I leave you with these pictures via Fifa.com. You're welcome.


Save the Date Y'all!

Save the Dates designed and sent - check!

Ok, I know, that seems like a relatively short time between when we decided upon our *new* December wedding date and Save the Dates dispatched. Let me introduce you to a little friend of mine: Paperless Post

Paperless Post is an online invitation service that I stumbled upon over the past 6 months of wedding blog addiction. I wish I could remember the first blog where I spotted information on it, but to be honest, I had even forgotten about the site until a few weeks ago when my bestie brought it up randomly as something we might want to consider. After playing around for awhile on it, and talking more with Marrv, we decided we wanted to go the paperless route - at least for the Save the Dates. It's definitely economical, it was easy for us to play with the designs and personalize them without having to be a graphic designer or be a photoshop expert.

This was my first time using Paperless Post, but so far so good. Or rather, so far SO Amazing! Honestly, it was so easy and they have so many cute designs to choose from. They have so much more than Wedding Invites/Save the Dates (and even more than just wedding related parties) - I have a feeling this will be an account I use for years to come.


Ceremony Venue - Check!

It's all falling into place...and I love it! With less than 6 months to plan a wedding, and planning a wedding that is so much more "us" ... well, it's been a lot easier for both of us to get excited and also to cross things off the list.

Like today for example. Ceremony location? Done! Marrvelous and I took a quick visit to one of the two locations we had it narrowed down to (and I visited last week without him and we agreed felt more right). After I took him through the house and gardens, we sat down with the estate manager and signed our contract (and opened the checkbook - ouch! but in a good way :)

Let me introduce you to the gorgeous building where Marrvelous and I will say our vows in front of family and friends this December ...


4 Hours...

and counting.

Til Marrvelous walks in the door, drops his bags, brushes his teeth and crawls into bed.

I am a happy, happy girl. I really would rather not go 10 nights apart ever again.

(AND Pretty in Pink is on TV right now...um, Otis Redding's Try a Little Tenderness? Perfection in a song)

Happy Wednesday night everyone!


175 Days

I wanted to wait and share this news on the blog after we spoke to our families and made them aware of our plans first.

Originally Marrvelous and I had envisioned a wedding celebration next summer (either Memorial or Labor Day to capitalize on the long weekend), in the city, with roughly 130 guests. We thought if we waited until next year, it would give us more time to save and plan, as well as give the Scottish guests a lot more time to prepare. As months went by (and as witnessed here) we were struggling with what we wanted to do, what we wanted our wedding to look like, feel like, etc. I admit, I definitely got caught up in a lot of the blogs - I mean, have you seen Style Me Pretty? And during that time, we felt so stressed, so confused, there was definitely a bit more bickering...all of the emotions that neither one of us wanted to associate with our celebration.


Ceremony Venue

This morning I'm going to visit the final two venues in contention for the ceremony.

With checkbook in hand.

And Marrvelous in Denver.

Eeek! We may have a place to get hitched by the end of the day - scary and exciting all at the same time!


Father's Day...

Just wanted to wish all the dads out there a happy day. And send a special happy thought out in the universe to my pops - This is my 3rd Father's Day without him, it's gone by so fast. It wasn't always a smooth relationship, and not always rosy. But I know that he loved me, and tried his best, and I miss him.

[Bob, otherwise known as Moose]

[Christmas 2004 - although a bit blurry]

Day 1

Dropped Marrvelous at the airport at 3:30 this afternoon for a 10 night work trip to Denver. After parking the car back in the city, I immediately walked to our favorite special treat spot - yogorino. We always go together, it's like a mini-date night...get our favorite toppings, walk back towards the house, stop off in Rittenhouse Square to eat the yumminess. It almost felt like cheating by going by myself tonight. But I needed the pick me up. I then came home, got in comfy clothes and promptly ordered Young Victoria off the tv - a movie I was positive he wouldn't be upset to have missed (but I thought it was great). Now I'll finish the evening by flipping through InStyle in bed.


Only 9 more nights to go.



I casually mentioned to Marrvelous last week that I had read an article on one of my favorite home design sites that talked about outdoor spaces suitable for cats. And how all of the people in the comments provided a dozen or so different ideas on how they made a space safe for their kitties to play in the fresh air. Most of them were screened in patios or sun rooms, and well, that's not going to be happening anytime soon at our center city apartment.

We were instantly intrigued though. Our two cuties, Samson and Reina, love lying by our glass doors that lead from the top floor loft out to the start of the roof deck. They are mesmerized by the leaves blowing, birds hopping along, and other general outdoorsy activities. Marrvelous and I have also discussed the fact that with the amount of times we like to have people over to sit up on the deck, it could be slightly dangerous with all those same people opening and closing those doors. We've tried sitting in the loft (where our computer is) and keeping the doors open. There is a hanging mesh screen in place to help keep out flying bugs and it deterred Sammy and Rei at the beginning. But slowly they've been creeping out and trying to inspect the great outdoors. In comes...Kitty Leash!


Writer's Workshop: 30 Things I vow to do this Summer

I came across this make up your own list of "30 Things I Vow to do This Summer" on Mama's Losin' It blog by way of You Just Can't Google Everything, which by the way is an awesome blog name though I do Google everything.

So I thought, what better way to get in gear and produce a to-do list (with hopefully some fun things thrown in it) than distract myself at work with another blog post!

1. Thoroughly enjoy myself on all-girls' Chicago weekend trip
2. Finally try a quinoa recipe
3. Go to the beach
4. Go to the beach (repeat performance hopefully!)
5. Thoroughly enjoy myself on my all-girls' camping weekend trip
6. Eat minimum 6 smores on said camping trip
7. Take our engagement photos
8. Buy at least one new bathing suit for above beach trips, camping trips, etc...
9. Buy a racket and proceed to allow Marrvelous to school me in the ways of tennis
10. Select/Confirm/Pay for wedding ceremony venue
11. Get out on the golf course at least 3 times to better my game
12. Thoroughly enjoy myself with Marrvelous and his two best mates on our North Carolina weekend getaway
13. Read a new book every two weeks
14. Hang family/friend photos on our wall
15. Continue to school Marrvelous in the ways of lacrosse
16. Be better about blogging
17. Host more bbqs on our glorious roof deck
18. Right after I regarden and plant more greenery up there!
19. Buy a wedding dress - or at least go and try some on!
20. Enjoy lazy nights on the deck with Marrvelous and a 6 pack
21. Scheme more ways to work in vegetarian only meals or days in our life
22. Take the annual goals from my upcoming work evaluation and really start making a name for myself at my Org.
23. Spend more time with my aunt helping her around her house
24. Start working on our housing arrangements in Florida for the holidays
25. Save, save, save
26. Right after I get a couple of cute summer dresses that is
27. and cute sandals
28. Experiment with homemade pizzas
29. Take more time to call friends (and skype with the little one in San Diego!)
30. Snuggle with my family and continue to be amazed at how great my life is!

Honeymoons (Part I)

So as it has become increasingly clear around here - I heart travel. To me, the honeymoon is where it's at! And recently there's been a lot of chatter in the interwebs about honeymoons - where to go, when to go, how long to go, how much to spend, and more. It got me thinking.

I feel like you often hear about these couples who go to Bora Bora, Fiji or some other far-off tropical locale. Do you realize how expensive it is to go to any of these amazing places? And this, after they've just typically spent a good deal on the wedding itself. Pretty astounding. Don't get me wrong, I am counting down until the day Marrvelous and I can jet off to the Maldives and shack up in a bad ass bungalow propped out over the water, where I can stare at the fishies swimming underneath through the glass floor and then just jump off from my own personal dock to go for a dip. I am ALL ABOUT IT. Trust me on that.


Work Schmork

It's a pain in the rear when work and other life responsibilities get in the way of blogging. I've had a much longer post on the drafting board for way too long. Thank goodness for the weekend!

Although...it is Philly Beer Week so we'll see how much coherent, sober writing I end up doing.

I'll be thinking of y'all while I tip back a few (or more)!

Ben with the Hammer of Glory (used by our mayor to tap the opening keg tonight...man I heart this city)



I'm feeling the inner rage and frustration at the oil spill down in the Gulf start to boil and about to spill out onto paper (or blog as it is in this case). Just giving a bit of a heads up that a longer post, with many not-so-nice things, is on its way....


Wild Nights = Extreme Exhaustion

Pulled off a rather amazing surprise 30th birthday party for Marrvelous last night. Was ridiculously difficult keeping mum about it as I'm always the one who ends up saying "Want to know what I got you?" about 5 minutes after I make a purchase and even when the holiday may still be a month away.

Will definitely blog about the entire planning process and actual celebration, but for the next 24 hours I'm going to relax, and bask in the glory of pulling off one hell of a good time. And allow Marrvelous to continue telling me how I'm the best thing that has ever happened in his life - that's a pretty damn good thank you.

As a little teaser, I'll leave you with this:


Heeeeee's Thirty!

Happy Birthday Marrvelous

May your bottle(s) always be full - love you to pieces.


Sad Face

Home from another wickedly awesome trip out west. It was a quick four days but those days were filled with fish tacos, ocean breezes, baby giggles, more fish tacos, good old fashioned drunkery, helping my best friend's amazing hubby surprise her with a new car on her very first mama's day, and even more fish tacos (seriously, I dream about the fish tacos every day between my trips).

I've loved San Diego for a long time and always in the back of my mind toyed with the idea of testing it out for myself. When I was younger, I jumped at the chance to spend a few months working in Toronto, quickly followed by working in Madrid, quickly followed by a move to DC, quickly followed...you get the picture. As I've gotten older, I admit - making a big move becomes so much more difficult. I've built up a tremendous circle of support here in Philly. The majority (not all - missing a vital person..my big sis) of my immediate family lives within an hour's drive. [Not to mention that Marrvelous's parents would have to then add on a 5 hour flight over the whole of the USA to their already 7 hour flight over the whole of the Atlantic Ocean. Or reverse, for us when we fly back for visits and holidays. That's long.] And then there's the stress of career path - how to find the right job in San Diego that is a step forward, a step up. One that is also engaging and fulfills me, and one that is open to hiring someone from across the country. Gone are the days where I feel comfortable moving to a new city with nothing in place.

Fortunately, my partner in life is on the same page with me. I can't tell you how relieved, excited, happy (and a number of other positive emotions) I feel at the thought that I have found someone who sees life in a similar way. That I have a partner in crime and someone with whom I can I take these big leaps. Marrvelous and I have similar attitudes and ideas on what is important to us, to make our lives feel full, and to make our lives more complete. He too is all aboard the San Diego train.


Home Away From Home

I believe life is marked by the relationships one cultivates. The people we surround ourselves with are so important in shaping the life we live and influence how rich a life can be. Some people come into your life for only a short moment (or in some cases, when you look back and see the toxicity with open eyes, maybe it was for too long a moment), though they all serve a purpose. There are the few individuals, however, that are always there and standing by you through your ups and your downs. Months can go by without seeing one another, but when you get together it's like no time has passed. You slip into that familiar and comfortable exchange and you realize, you are home.

J Train (not my nickname for her, but I'm not sure she would appreciate me revealing on the wide world web any of the hundreds of names I've called her along the way) and I met when I was eighteen and over 300 miles away from home - our freshman year of college. We have lived together (both in and after college), as well as traveled everywhere from Dewey Beach to spring breaks in Italy to backpacking around South America. We have spent numerous joyous occasions together - New Years Eves, birthdays, and weddings. As well as many of the more challenging moments of life: break ups, deaths, cross country moves to name a few.


Deck Life

As I mentioned a few posts ago, we've been making a real effort to make our roof decks an ideal outdoor living space. Slowly but surely, we're getting there. Last night we chose to stay home and instead sit together on the deck - enjoying each other's company, a few drinks, the beautiful weather and our awesome city view. At one point, I became rather overwhelmed with happiness. It was just such a lovely evening - I was planting some flowers by candlelight, sitting together in our new comfy deck chairs, talking about future plans. It felt like family; it felt like home.

Just wanted to share a few pictures to mark progress on the deck!

My little garden center of flowers!

Planting the New Guinea Impatients

Marrvelous enjoying his favorite local brew in one of our new chairs

The view from our deck! Love that this is my "backyard"

Family. Happy Face


Making it Us

Marrvelous and I have now been planning our marriage celebration for four months. And let's just say it's been quite a ride. The ideas and thoughts that came spilling out of our mouths at lightening speed while we enjoyed our newly-minted engagement in Scotland aren't necessarily the same plans that we discuss now. In the past several months there have been numerous ideas regarding venue, location, caterers, size, timing, you name it. At one point it was a laid back traditional Memorial Day BBQ (that just happened to star a glorious white dress). At other times it was a backyard hippie love fest (this also included for a brief moment, a backyard hippie love fest in Scotland. I do love the idea of our entire US family - which includes our amazing friends - visiting Troon and coming down from their room at the Anchor Bar for a pint before a late night session at Pebbles. A girl can dream).

There was a brief moment when it was a rager in Vegas. The date has changed a few times, the venue has been up in the air, and the ideas just keep pouring in ... and out. Admittedly, a lot of this has to do with our financial restraints. We are paying for this celebration ourselves, maybe a little bit of help here and there. Ultimately we are ok with this. We always had a rough number that was our budget, and I do believe we'll be able to stick with it. You'd be stunned by the world of wedding bloggers out there now that have the most fabulous ideas for DIY.


Rainy Mondays

It's bad enough that it's Monday. Does it really have to rain and bring spirits even lower? Here is where I wish I was lounging with Marrvelous instead of sitting in front of a computer in my little nook at work in rainy, dreary Philadelphia ....


Scratched from the List

So by now, we're all aware of my ever growing list of "Places to Go, See, Be, Explore". Two days ago that list just got one line shorter when Arizona decided to go racist. See here

Before I begin, I'll give fair warning - this is going to be long. With a Master of Arts in Political Science, heavily focused on Latin American/US Relations and several school papers written on this same issue, mixed with my affection for all people and things south of the border....I have a lot to say about this one.

Now, admittedly, I've been to Arizona before and have been to the big tourist draw - the Grand Canyon - several times. So it was not high on the list, but it was there. Mainly because Marrvelous has not been there and the Canyon, IMHO, is one of those places you should see. As soon as you walk up to the ledge you are struck by how small we are and how young; how this planet we live on has so many delicious secrets and has been creating beauty for so much longer than most of us can fathom. And I find pride in showing off these landmarks to my foreign-born fiance. A sort of Rah Rah America moment (which don't happen too often - that's an entirely other discussion, however).

Arizona is also located in a different part of the country than Marrvelous has seen before, the Southwest. It was fun to show him the Northwest last year and again, tied with that whole feeling of pride in showing off my home country, I liked the idea of helping him see what the geography, the history, and the food of that region was like. And of course Arizona is a piece of golf heaven. So it's been on the list for those reasons as well. No longer.


Creating our Little Slice of Heaven

Ever since moving in with Marrvelous, I have been itching to turn our roof deck into something a bit more spectacular...a place we both want to sip our morning coffee (or tea in his case) and read the paper on Sundays, a place to grill up new recipes and eat our dinner together in the fading light during the week, and a place to have guests over for drinks and fun. As any city dweller can tell you, outdoor space is precious and always in high demand. The fact that we have a two-level roof deck, with one of the best views of the Philly skyline is something we both really value. I saw the value in it the night we met, when Marrvelous used the infamous line, "Want to come see the view from my roof deck?" (Spoiler Alert: It worked)

Now that the weather is slowly turning in the right direction, I can officially say that the deck is on its way as well.


New York City Recap (otherwise known as - Why Girlfriends are so Important)

The weekend in Hoboken (with smidges of Manhattan thrown in) was fun, debaucherous, and much needed. Other than neighborhood walks (everywhere from the Village to Battery Park and all over Hoboken's waterfront) and massive wine consumption, there wasn't much to the weekend, but yet it was still so good for my soul.

It was spent with two very dear girl friends. I have known them since I was 18 from the days down in Williamsburg; our friendship has lasted and continued to grow through travels, marriages, break ups, new jobs, new cities and so much more. These aren't the friends I've known the longest, but I think the fact that these are some of my closest comes from the fact that we began our journey during such an important stage in life. Out on our own for the first time, our friendships began at the same time that we were really learning about ourselves as individuals.

The bond has only been cemented by all of the other experiences we've gone through together. I'd rehash some stories here for all of you out in the interwebs, but honestly, we've learned by now that the stories that still make us laugh so hard we can barely breathe and tears stream down the side of our faces (I'm talking DA Roadtrip 2000, English wedding antics and of course several New Year's Eve extravangazas) are never quite as appreciated by those who weren't involved or didn't know us then. But I think it's something special that even after fourteen years, those stories still make us double over. This is what life and relationships is all about.


The Big Apple

Headed to New York tonight after work to spend the weekend with two very dear friends. Growing up only two hours from New York, I tend to forget how in so many people's eyes this is city of all cities. To me, it's where my friends live, where I've spent many fall weekends walking through Central Park or doing holiday shopping, where I've spent time exploring Brooklyn and Queens.

During our trip to Scotland for the holidays, I was reminded how amazing New York City is - friends' eyes lit up when talking about their upcoming holiday this summer, or the longing in others' eyes, with hopes of some day being able to get there. Then I remember that it's not only people all over the world, but people right here in the States. There are people that will live and die in the US and never make it there because it's too far and too expensive of a trip for them. They can't just jump on a bus and pay $10 and be in the Big Apple in two hours flat.

And I love Philly, this is my town. But I get it, I do - New York City, well, it really is that amazing. You may not want to live there, but it's hard not to have a ridiculously fabulous time even on a mini trip.

So I'm looking forward to a weekend just walking the city- popping in shops on 5th Ave (to drool and then move on with wallet still firmly in bag), conducting taste tests of all the fabulous cupcakes, avoiding Times Square like the plague, wearing my Phillies' hat with pride, and of course, lounging in Central Park and people watching.


Vacation, all I ever wanted

The first time I ever got on a plane, I was headed to California. A five-hour, cross country flight is a rather big one for your very first, and as a 10 year old. My second time flying, we took a month long trip to England and Australia. I was 12 on that trip.

People without passports astound me. Perhaps it's unfair, but I instantly judge those people (sorry for those reading who fall into this category - but consider this an offer, get your passport and I will plan you one hell of a trip and show you exactly why it is so important and so fun to see the world!).

I have learned that I'm happiest when planning a trip - whether it's a quick two day stay or a 10 night trip to a brand new spot. I really enjoy researching places to stay, where and what to eat, how to get from one spot to the next and also to learn, in general, the history and background of wherever we're going. I like finding the hidden spots and going where locals go, getting a real sense of how people live their daily life.


Flaunt Your Rock!

As most already know...Andy and I are entered into a fabulous contest to win an engagement shoot!

In order to enter, we had to submit a picture of ourselves as well as a picture of my e-ring. At the very least, I have to thank this contest for getting me off my butt and taking pictures of my ring that I will now always have. After speaking with a few more photography-inclined friends, as well as scouring the internet for pictures of rings and how they are framed, I finally ended up with a few that I liked.

The picture of us I took from our trip out west last fall - more specifically from a really wonderful wine dinner we went to in Sonoma at Balleto Vinyards with my sister and cousin. It was a delicious meal, amazing wine, gorgeous views and great company. I felt it really captured what Andy and I strive for in life; enjoying what the world has to offer surrounded by people we care about.

If we win this contest, not only do we get free engagement photos with pretty fantastic photographer April (I already have about 20 different ideas for the shoot, plus several others that incorporate Sam and Rei), but we are then entered into a national contest where we could win custom invites, cake topper, and other fun wedding goodies. It's not only super fun to win, but obviously as we're paying for this big party ourselves, free things help too!

So if you haven't already, or if you are just stumbling across this now, please go to: http://www.aprilziegler.com/?p=3509 and vote for Couple Number 6! (and check out my handiwork at ring photography!)


Home Cooking

I consider myself a foodie. I'm always up for trying the dishes that other people wrinkle their noses at on the menu. I still remember Marrvelous's shock when he found out that not only had I tried black pudding, but that I love it. Although at the time, I referred to it as morcilla (which was what it's called in Spain). For those of you not in the know, I'd tell you to google it, but then you might not try it...

Before heading to Scotland for the holidays, everyone asked me if I was up for trying haggis. I admit, the first time Marrvelous sent me a picture of haggis he certainly didn't do a good job in selecting one that looked remotely appetizing. But I could honestly tell people that I was excited to try it and wasn't going to be hesitant either about the sausage suppers, scotch pies, or deep fried mars bars.


Craft Beer - I Like

I love beer.

I've spent many a night reading about beer, talking about beer, and most importantly - tasting beer. It certainly helps to live in one of the top three beer cities in all of America. Next week should have been the third annual Philly Beer Week, but the powers that be thought hosting it in June would be better for all involved. Before you start thinking Beer Week is simply pulling up a stool at a bar and drinking, you should check out: www.phillybeerweek.org

You'll see there are so many fun and creative events. Brewers from all over the country and world come to Philly to host events from karaoke (My personal fave) to meal pairings to contests and games.

However, since it's not until June this year, I will have to satisfy my March beer cravings with tonight's Philly Craft Beer Fest! There's a big group going (including my dear friend, Ms. Liz from our nation's capital) and will be Marrvelous's first true beer fest experience. This is a young man, who when I met him 1 short year ago, though Miller Lite was nectar of the Gods. I worked on him, educated him, forced him to test out new beers and I'm proud to say that today he agonizes over what bar to go to in case they only carry Miller Lite. That might be my finest beer accomplishment in life.

So tonight we will toast each other, our good friends, and our good city as we throw back a few of Butternuts Pork Slap Pale Ale.


Real Men Wear Skirts

After when? and where?, pretty much everyone follows up with the same number 3 question: "Will Andy wear a kilt?".

At first I was actually shocked that so many people were asking; I just thought everyone would know that yes, of course he would be. He's Scottish. But then I stopped and remembered that I'm always harping on what people just seem to expect about weddings, and so I should be happy that everyone is curious and aren't making any assumptions. This is perhaps the one aspect of the wedding though that is set, for sure.

So to answer everyone, yes - the groom will be in his kilt. As will his father, the best man and any other Scotsman in attendance.

As a quick tutorial: the kilt each man wears is based on his family surname and the clan they belong to. This will determine the tartan (basically, the plaid pattern of the kilt). There are informal as well as formal ("Dress") versions of the tartans and so the Mr will be sporting his Dress Gordon. Here is what he'll look like (minus the steamy, good looking model) ...


The First Test?

Ok, I think I've figured out why people have weddings. If you can make it through the planning process as a couple, you can make it through anything.

Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. But I have found myself several times in this process (and we're only two months into it!) thinking "Why don't we just run off somewhere to do this". The thing is - I want the party. And I want my family, his family, our friends to be there to help us celebrate and watch us make that commitment.


What a Difference a Year Makes...

Tomorrow marks the day I met my partner (in life and for life) and I am one giddy girl! Thinking back to this day last year, I can safely say I wasn't expecting to be planning a wedding only one year later. Hell, I can safely say I didn't even think I was going to meet a guy the very next day that was able to see straight into me while singing every Cher song imaginable with Lisa Lisa (the girl so nice they named her twice! Is it wrong that I want to find a way to incorporate B&Bs into the wedding celebrations? Engagement photo shoot perhaps?!)

I walked away that night knowing I had met someone so special, someone that was going to make a huge difference in my life. Within 45 minutes of knowing each other, we had covered so many life stories that it's no wonder, one year later, it feels like we've known each other forever.


Aunt Sue in the house!

One of my favorite roles in life is the one of "aunt". I adore all 6 nephews and my one very special princess (aka niece). They all rock and are incredibly fun, smart and super cute (even the 19 year old though he'd yell at me for saying he was "cute").

Marrvelous and I are off today to my brother and sis-in-law's house in Quakertown for a celebratory engagement dinner consisting of steak, copious amount of vino and perhaps a ridiculous amount of drunken guitar hero or Wii bowling. We haven't seen the munchkins' since before the holidays so pretty pumped to do crafts and play mario kart.

This is what we're headed into...


Working 'round the clock

So I saw this quote today "Love is a feeling, Marriage is a contract, and a Relationship is work." and it stuck with me. I've often said that the wedding - it's just a legality. I honestly believe if you plan to commit yourself to someone, you do - a piece of paper isn't going to force someone to make it happen. That has a larger influence on insurance and taxes, or as it will be in our case - your residency status. The bigger reward lies in the relationship and in the work that makes that relationship so great that you want the contract, and you want to continue that feeling of love each day forward.
As I've gotten older and gone through other relationships, as well as watched friends enter into marriages (and out...), the importance of the word "work" becomes much clearer. For the first time though, I really feel like I not only understand it, but truly accept what lies ahead.
Just like my day job, there are days when the "work" will feel like a breeze and I'll be proud of what I've accomplished and feel like I was made to do this - who wouldn't want to hire me?! And then there will be the days that end in near-tears, wondering am I going crazy and am I any good at anything.
Those will be the days I remember that feeling - Love. And those will also be the days I focus on the contract - the Marriage. And through the good days and the bad, I hope to always smile at the choices we've made and at my co-worker in all this. Because it's been a true blessing to find a partner who is as committed to the work and excited for our shared days ahead!


And so it begins...

I've thought about it for awhile. And always stepped back and put it off for another day. But a new year has brought a new resolve (and a serious push by the Mr.). So here I am, on the interwebs to inundate everyone with random thoughts on the meals I eat (there will be a lot of bacon discussion), places I travel, and continuous ideas on how to become independently wealthy and leave the world of work behind (huzzah!). And of course it will be a forum for the life Marrvelous and I are building together so our family and friends, near and far, can keep tabs on us ... beginning with that whole wedding thingy. Let's do this!