Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Halloween: Inspiring Tricks & Tasty Treats

Happy Halloween weekend, everyone! Though the holiday itself falls on a Monday this year, I hope you’ll have a chance to sneak in a little celebrating over the next couple days. Stephen and I got into the spirit a bit early last Saturday when we attended our friends’ annual party for a night of costumes, spooky d├ęcor, and my personal favorite, tasty themed treats.

Stephen's creation, these Oreo brownie mice have almond ears, Red Vine tails and candy eyes.
Mummy cupcakes my mom sent us via Swiss Colony. Yum! 
Sugar cookie skeletons.
Doughnut holes with eyeball frosting in a pail of Halloween sweet and sour candies. 
Ghost and zombie brownies. 
Bottles of poison and other "potions," including vampire-themed wines, added to the spooky vibe.

Not only was the party a great way to take a quick break from everything we have going on, but it also gave me a chance to bust out the old baseball uniform I wore when I played on a congressional team my very first summer in DC. Though I was never all that good at the actual “playing” part, being the Liberal Agenda's catcher is something I’ll never forget. Paired with a silly donkey mask I acquired one bygone election night, the jersey made for a quick and easy outfit. (Both Stephen and I were just too burnt out to get quite as creative as we did last year, when we went as Rick and Ilsa from Casablanca.)

Going Casablanca in 2010. 
"Liberal Agenda" jersey and donkey mask. 

#17 -- Welfare Recipient. 

Jack Sparrow pirate hat and beads.

As you can see, Stephen also kept things simple with a pirate hat and beads, and even our kitties got into the action before we left, with Molly honoring her ancestors by posing as a baby tiger, and Twix embracing her wild side with a cowgirl hat and red bandanna. 

Tiger Molly. 

Cowgirl Twix. 

Have a great weekend! My mother-in-law is here in town visiting, and we've got a few fun museum and winery tours planned, so long as we don't get hit with an early snowstorm (crazy, huh?!). Are you dressing up this year, and how will you celebrate Halloween? 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Living Apart as a Married Couple

It’s no secret that my husband and I would eventually love to move back to the West Coast, or at least somewhere that’s hopefully closer to our families and friends in California. Initially, our plan was to consider heading back last year after we got married, which would have allowed Stephen to take advantage of some great career opportunities in the state we both know and love.

But after I applied and was accepted to my publishing master’s program, we knew we’d definitely need to delay a big move for at least another couple years. Though I sometimes question whether we made the right decision, all in all, I know we’re both happy to have stayed right here in the DC area for the time being.

Why? Well, among other things, being here has allowed us to adopt our beautiful kitties Molly and Twix, work together to coordinate weddings for several amazing clients, spend time with my sister-in-law following her move from NYC, and most importantly, enjoy our first year of married life together in a place we’re growing to love more and more as time goes on.

It may not be California, but there's still plenty to love about the DC area. 
That’s why I didn’t hesitate to give an emphatic “no” when a couple friends asked whether we’d ever consider living apart for a year or two so that I could complete my degree while he began taking advantage of opportunities elsewhere. The question again came up when a professor recently shared details about a fellowship program that certainly sounds intriguing but would require me to be “geographically mobile” throughout the various rotations required.

The truth is that although this arrangement might work for some people – and some may simply have no choice, such as those with military spouses or career and training opportunities that can’t be adjusted – in my eyes, willingly choosing this type of arrangement in our situation would fly in the face of what it means to be married and share a life with one another.

While it may not always be easy to make our dreams and goals fit neatly and compatibly together, I simply did not get married to live apart from my husband for an extended period of time. After all, if I wanted to live singly and maintain a long-distance cross-country relationship, I would not have taken the step of getting married at this point in my life. Career goals and aspirations are incredibly important, no doubt, but not as important as being there for one another day in and day out, through the good times and the bad. That’s what I promised on June 4, 2010, and that’s the way I plan to live, understanding that it’s definitely never going to be all about what either one of us might individually want, but rather about finding the right path together, whatever that might be.

Married and together for life. 
In the end, we’ve made the best decisions we can thus far and will continue to do so "all the days of our lives," without any regrets, just as we promised we would. There will always be other and better opportunities to come, but none more important than the opportunity to support and care for one another each and every day. 

What do you think? Have you ever lived apart from your spouse or significant other for an extended period of time, and is it something you'd consider? 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Beat Down Bullying TODAY!

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

-- Eleanor Roosevelt

Today, I’m proud to link up with bloggers Jillian and Jessie to take a stand against the bullying epidemic that has damaged and destroyed far too many children's lives here in the U.S. and around the world.

Though I did face instances of teasing and bullying when I was in school, I was “lucky” that it was in no way as severe as what so many kids endure today. Even so, as I shared in my previous post announcing this movement, being teased about everything from having a high voice to suffering from incurable acne to not being able to afford the designer clothes the popular girls wore did affect me over time, making me afraid to speak up in class, meet new people and be the center of attention. Still, as hard as it may have been back then, things have gotten so much better since.

Now, I want kids to know that as hopeless as life may feel at times, the future really is worth believing in and waiting for. Though I didn’t truly enjoy middle school or high school, I went on to have a great time in college. I regained my confidence and, 10 years later, am proud to have been successful in reaching many of my career goals, building strong friendships and falling in love with the kindest and most sincere man I could ever have hoped to meet. 

If someone had shown me a snapshot during those tough years of what my life would be like today, I honestly would never have believed them. I may have skipped my 10-year high school reunion this summer and will never be able to look back on those days with especially fond memories, but my life today more than makes up for it, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Pleas share your story, and help us take a stand TODAY! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fabulous Fall Flats

After enjoying several beautiful weeks of “second summer” here in the DC area, temperatures are now holding steady in the lower 60s, and I think it’s fair to say that fall is definitely in the air at last. While that means the weather will be perfect for our friends' Halloween party this weekend, it also means bidding adieu to my trusty flip-flops in preparation for the frigid months ahead. Instead, I'll be making the transition to boots and flats, which I also happen to love.   

You may recall that just a few weeks ago, I blogged about Banana Republic’s intriguing new Mad Men-inspired line, including the two styles below that capture one of my favorite fall trends – animal print. But when I recently went to check out the collection in person, I must admit that I was, well, not so intrigued.

Image Source: Banana Republic

Image Source: Banana Republic 

Not only did the quality of the items strike me as being out-of-synch with the cost, but I was sad to find that some of the clothes looked and fit quite differently than I'd hoped. So, instead of splurging, I’ve decided to save my money and instead get my animal print fix in a subtle and much more affordable way with a couple new pairs of flats to carry me through the season.

Here, a few styles I’m considering from some of my favorite cheap-chic places – Target, Khol’s and JCPenney. 

Image Source: Target -- $12.99
Image Source: JCPenney -- $24.99
Image Source: Target -- $12.99
Image Source: Khol's -- $40
Image Source: JCPenney -- $24.99
Do you like to shop at bargain retailers for shoes and other essentials, and do you love or hate the animal print trend? 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Smart Phone Frenzy

So, how exactly did it get to be Wednesday already?! Things have been crazy busy in my world – hence the slightly reduced blogging schedule – but I’m definitely still here reading and writing posts whenever I can squeeze a few free moments into my day. Though I was majorly bummed to miss Bridal Fashion Week in NYC over the weekend, the good news is that I’m making tons of progress with classes and am still taking enough time for myself to keep the stress at bay.   

I’m also excited to be the proud owner of a new iPhone 4S, which I absolutely love! Getting the phone the very day it was released definitely felt out-of-the-ordinary for me, since I’m typically not one to demand the newest technology as soon as it comes out and would never, ever spend hours waiting in line for just about anything. But in this case, the timing worked out perfectly, as my two-year-old iPhone 3GS was undoubtedly on its last legs. Plus, our local AT&T store, while a bit crowded, didn’t have lines running out the door or a long wait time at all, allowing me to get in and out in less than 15 minutes. Awesome? Absolutely!  

Image Source: Apple

Without a doubt, the 4S is head-and-shoulders above the older version, with a better camera, clearer screen, and fabulous "personal assistant" voice function that I’m quickly becoming addicted to. It's strange to think that as much as I used to at times despise the Blackberry I used at work (Emails at 6 a.m. while I’m on vacation? And what do you mean you dropped your ID down the elevator shaft on a Sunday?!), I’ve become a complete smart phone junkie ever since I got my first one. 

Although I’m trying to get better about “unplugging” from time to time, the honest truth is that I just couldn’t be as productive or accomplish all that I want to without the help of my phone, whether I need to stay connected with a client, get directions to an appointment, schedule a reminder or look up just about anything. And after one of my classmates showed me her new iPad last week, I’m honestly thinking about springing for one of those at some point to more easily manage and access documents when I'm on the floor coordinating a wedding, on the train making last minute changes to a paper or doing any number of other things.  

What do you think? Do you use a smart phone or rely on technology to make your life easier? Do you think we as a society have become too reliant on our gadgets, or do feel, like me, that they’re a necessity in order to stay up to speed? 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Baby Talk

Lately, it seems that so many of my fellow bloggers, former classmates and plenty of others we know, including those who got married around the same time we did in 2010, are starting their families. I couldn’t be more thrilled for everyone who's announced the good news, and I'm incredibly excited to share their happiness, plus gather ideas and inspiration for the day we’ll welcome children into own our lives.

And though plenty of others are now starting to ask more and more frequently when that day will come, I’m happy to say it likely won’t be for at least another couple years. The truth is that as much as I want to someday have children, I also want a few years to simply enjoy being married – traveling, planning, saving and dreaming with my husband – along with pursuing other goals we’d like to accomplish before babies enter the picture, like completing grad school and hopefully buying our first home together.

Seeing so many beautiful babies and families does at times make me wish that it was already our turn. But then I stop to think about all the other adventures still waiting for us, and I know there's more than enough time to take on that big adventure once we're ready. 

So, for now, I feel more than content to simply continue raising my fur children (aka the most spoiled kitties ever) and perusing Pinterest, where my "Baby" inspiration board is growing all the time. And since I'm getting such an early start, I can only imagine how many different ideas I'll have gathered within a couple years' time! Here, a few faves I've clipped to kick off my collection. 

Image Source:
Image Source: Rainbow 11
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Image Source: Julie Parker Photography 
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Image Source: Shayla McLaughlin 
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Do you get asked a lot whether and when you plan to start a family, or did you in the past? Even if you’re not planning to have kids right away, do you still enjoy gathering inspiration and ideas, the way I do?   

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Greek & Roman Holiday

Happy Tuesday! I hope those of you who had a long weekend enjoyed every minute of it, and I hope those who didn’t at least had a stress-free start to your workweek. Here in DC, we enjoyed a gorgeous couple days with sunny skies and temps in the mid-70s – absolutely perfect!

Though my classes are definitely getting more intense right now with papers, projects and tests, things are going very well overall after a somewhat rocky start to the semester. This week, I can happily see a light at the end of the tunnel on a couple big assignments, and as you can imagine, I’m already counting down the weeks until our November trip to Seattle to coordinate our friends’ wedding, and to the Christmas season, when we’ll once again head out to California for a holiday visit.

While our last trip out West a few weeks ago was definitely short, it was awesome to see everyone and be there to celebrate my sister’s 21st and Stephen’s grandpa’s 90th. Along with all the celebrating, we also managed to squeeze in a day trip to one of my favorite So Cal museums, the seaside Getty Villa in Malibu, which features stunning ancient Greek and Roman artwork and artifacts, along with period-appropriate architecture and themed gardens.

So, while I continue to plug away at my ever-growing to-do list, please enjoy a few highlights of our recent visit that help keep me smiling, no matter how busy or stressed I might feel.

If you're ever in Southern California, be sure to make a reservation to check this place out! Though there is a $15 fee for parking, admission is free, and the exhibits, along with panoramic views of the Pacific, simply can't be beat! Special thanks to my husband and sister Kellie for snapping these photos, some of which can also be seen on her fashion and style blog, Morning Ophelia

Do photos or mementos from trips and fun occasions help you unwind when things start to get stressful?