Tag Archives: Ruth

Positively Productive

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Boy, do I have a lot to share with you! This weekend was absolutely, positively, perfectly productive! So, let’s start at the beginning.

[Bear with me — this is gonna be a long one.]

Friday afternoon, Ian’s parents came into town from Roanoke to do a little rehearsal dinner venue-shopping with us. Because Bonnie has two sons and won’t get to do the fun girly stuff involved in wedding-planning and because she lives three hours away, Ian and I are making as concerted an effort as possible for her to feel included in the decision-making and the planning. Due to extensive research, sight-seeing, visiting, and Q & A, we had narrowed our choices down to three locations… which Ian planned for us to see all in one evening. (Insert obligatory and overly dramatic groan here.)

I won’t deny that I was exhausted, hangry, and irritable. Nevertheless, we set out for our first destination across town. Even Ian hadn’t seen the space, so I was excited when he and Bonnie and Jimmy liked it!

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Quickly, we were on to our next destination. Ian had seen our second location, but I was thrilled when he and his parents were smitten. We still went to our third destination, but our minds were already made up. Before we set out, I had thought I would’ve been happy with any of the three, but after having seen them all in succession I realized that my mind was made up before we ever left 😉

(In the spirit of full disclosure and because I am loving planning this wedding, I will share with you honestly the locations we chose for everything and our opinions of our experiences post-shindig.)

We dined deliciously at Capital Ale House, which has become Ian’s and my favorite Friday night destination for beer and burgers. Their lamb burger, orange chive vinaigrette mixed greens, and Rauchbier cheese dip are to die for.

We dropped Bonnie and Jimmy off at their hotel and turned in early at my house. As much as we would have loved to sleep in…

…we were up bright and early Saturday morning. My mom, my sister, Bonnie and I had a 10:00 bridal fitting appointment at my fifth — yes, fifth — bridal gown shoppe. I may have found The Dress. I said this before, and the dress turned out not to be The Dress. I have a different feeling about this one, though… I keep looking at the pictures on my phone, complete with veil and bouquet, and thinking, I sure would love for Ian to see me walking down the aisle in this!

I tried on dress after dress after dress (which I desperately wish I could share with you!!) until Caroline and I declared we were starving and required sustenance before we wasted away to nothing. Hey, when you have hypoglycemia, you can be as dramatic about food as you want 😉

We met Ian and his dad at Olive Garden, my “alma mater.” Man, have I gotten some strange looks when I jokingly tell people that…

We left in a bit of a food coma, but the jolliness of the weekend was perfectly fitting for the lazy evening that followed. We finally got to relax, so relax we did. Caroline and Ian and I gathered a random assortment of beer and settled in for 21 and Over. Despite its abysmal approval rating, we found it to be absolutely hilarious — the perfect movie to cap off such a great day!

We hit the hay early again, which I don’t hate. [I’m starting to realize at two years post-undergrad just how elderly my tendencies are.]

After church this afternoon, we wandered around in Carytown for the annual Watermelon Festival. Well, first there was brunch at Baker’s Crust, which involved mimosas…

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…and literally the best frittata I have ever had!

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After brunch, we browsed the vendors’ booths for a few hours. I even picked up a couple of really unique jewelry pieces! I love festivals like this with local businesses and all kinds of live entertainment. I hadn’t been in several years, partially because the festival always seems to fall on the hottest weekend of the entire year. It was great to be back, even though it rained a bit and then got incredibly steamy and humid.

I capped off my perfect weekend with a cheesecake milkshake, awkward photo courtesy of Ian:

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Unfortunately, this evening was full of back-to-the-real-world activities in preparation for my last week of work, and the start of my third year of graduate school in just 11 days. No matter: it was a perfectly productive weekend with my one and only, my family, and my future in-laws! 🙂

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In other news, Ian and I issued for ourselves a Zero Negativity Challenge beginning August 5th. We have recognized that in our relationship, negativity exists in the form of sarcasm, making fun, little jabs, silly name-calling, etc. As our wedding date approaches, we are doing everything we can to improve upon our relationship in preparation. As we have chosen not to live together until after we are married, I am referring to this time as “the things after the rings.”

Our Zero Negativity Challenge has caused me to realize just how often we poke fun at each other and use just a little too much sarcasm. When I told Ian about several occasions I had marked on my calender as days with “negativity,” he was like, “When?!” I told him that I’m erring on the side of caution in keeping track on my calender; as such, I am becoming enlightened.

I think this challenge is going to be good for us on so many levels: awareness, change, preparation, compassion, empathy, and kindness, to name but a few. On or around September 5th, I’ll update you about how our challenge went.

Thanks for bearing with me through yet another lengthy post! I hope y’all had a wonderful weekend!

Simone France: Update

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Blends, it is truly a treat that I am here with you in the middle of the week — even if it is 9:30 on Wednesday night. These days, while blogging is always a mental priority, my mental to-do lists don’t always transcend my realistic to-do lists. My day looks pretty much like this: wake up at 6:30, be out the door by 7:20, work from 7:45-3:00, hit the gym, shower, study, pack lunch, eat dinner, spend a little bit of leisure time with my family, crash by 10:30, lather, rinse, repeat. Pretty blasé, if I do say so myself, but this routine ends August 16 and a new one begins! [More exciting things are coming, and I can’t wait to share them with you on SWASOV!] Other bloggers manage to work longer days, fit in perkier routines, juggle babies and husbands, blog daily, and somehow smile through it all. But I’m not “other bloggers,” and I’m trying not to play the comparison game as much these days. As Judy Garland would advise, I’m trying my best to be a first-rate version of myself.

Anyway…

I wanted to check in with you and update you on my experience with Simone France! I won Colleen’s giveaway over at The Lunchbox Diaries June 21, and I received my SF travel kit goodies July 6. I checked in after one week of using Simone France, when I could already see noticeable results in the tone, texture, and appearance of my skin. I’ve been a bit absent on the update front, but who wants to read about somebody else’s giveaway goodies, anyway? 😉

The point is, I have absolutely L.O.V.E.D. using Simone France for the past month! However, using the travel kit as a full-time kit meant that I ran out of a number of supplies very quickly. I don’t know exactly when I ran out of the Signature Cleansing Cloths, but I have been substituting clean washcloths or just plain old tap water as part of the Sandwich routine. I have exactly one towelette left, and I’m saving it. For what, exactly, I couldn’t tell you. Maybe Luke Bryan will stop by one evening and be so grateful that I let him use my very last Simone France Signature Cleansing Cloth. Hey, you never know! 😉

So I’m out of those, as well as the moisturizer I have come to love so much. The SF moisturizer made my skin feel light, clean, and moisturized, without feeling oily or greasy. I have been substituting another quality moisturizer I purchased through my mom’s consultant in December, but being that the weather is hot and humid here in Virginia, things aren’t peachy in the skin department. I thought I loved my other-brand moisturizer, until two things happened: (1) the weather changed from cold and dry to hot and sticky, and (2) I fell in love with Simone France. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those lucky ducks who can simply go without, so over-moisturized it is. I try to use as little as possible, but the SF routine just isn’t the same without the SF moisturizer to complete it.

So, that’s pretty much where I stand. Out of two key components of my Simone France travel kit collection, and unable to afford to replenish them. I am certain that SF products are of high quality and good value; however, I wish they weren’t so darn expensive that they cost your unborn first child to replace! Perhaps Ruth (my mom) or Ian will feel generous come birthday time! 😉

It’s been brief, but it’s been great stopping in. See y’all later!

Quick question: Have you ever tried SF products? If not, would you?

Meltdown No. 1: Achieved

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Welp, it’s official: yesterday I had my first wedding-related meltdown.

A full-on, panic-attack, freaking-out, waterworks-and-a-snotty nose, the-world-is-coming-to-an-end-today meltdown.

It was not pretty. In fact, I’m quite sure that if anyone had been a fly on the wall during that event, they wouldn’t have known whether to feel sorry for me or to grab some popcorn and settle in for the entertainment. Ian caught the worst of it on the phone, bless his heart…

On the other hand, I’m giving myself props for making it 47 days before said meltdown 😉 That’s gotta mean something, right?

Thoughts post-meltdown:
I know that I need to “let go and let God.” I’m just such a damn control freak!

I’ve become an expert at micromanaging — not the best way to work with those who are trying to help me plan this shindig.

I should’ve called Lauren…

If our roles were reversed:

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The way I imagine my mom and my best friends to be feeling presently:

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Why are floral arrangements so freaking expensive?!

Will I still have friends after this is all said and done? (Please?)

A girl whose parents live on my parents’ street called her mom just a few weeks before her wedding, sobbing because her fiance didn’t have a belt that matched the golf shoes he was planning to wear that afternoon to play a round with the girl’s dad. Hey, I could be that girl!

WHY are floral arrangements so freaking expensive??

[Miles for the Month: 35.71. Last January, I “traveled” 25.01 miles. If I were adhering strictly to my challenge, I would’ve traveled 170.96 miles this month. Of course, mileage doesn’t account for strength training, beginning a new semester of graduate school, or starting my Practicum… 😉 I know, I know — “no excuses, play like a champion!”]

Groupon + Cupcake-Tasting

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This afternoon, my wonderful mother surprised me by bringing home a half-dozen Carytown Cupcakes! Maybe it was because she knows I have an insatiable sweet tooth, maybe it’s because she thought I might like a sweet treat after my power-walk and doing a trillion loads of laundry, or maybe she was just being my mom 😉 Either way, her surprise totally hit the spot! We split a cookie dough cupcake after lunch. Full disclosure: we’ll probably split another one after dinner.

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She selected red velvet, carrot, cookie dough, raspberry lemonade (vice-versa cake and frosting), and an adorable Hershey-bar-adorned flavor she can’t remember for us to taste-test. Ian and I haven’t made any decisions regarding cupcakes vs. a traditional cake for the wedding, but hey, I’ll taste-test anything that has the word “cake” in it.

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Part of the reason she splurged on Carytown Cupcakes was due to Groupon. She had been hoarding holding on to some sort of fantastic deal I didn’t know about, and she decided to use it for the greater good… (a.k.a. me). She got 6 cupcakes, normally priced at $16 for a half-dozen, for just eight bucks!

Another reason is because we got caught up looking at bakery websites last night — Carytown Cupcakes, Sweetly Smitten, Ukrop’s Bakery, Baker’s Kitchen, Pearl’s Cupcake Shoppe… — until well after our bedtimes. I gotta say, all of the promos, offers, packages, and decisions (decisions, decisions!) are overwhelming. Maybe my taste buds can help me choose, eh? [Sorry, honey, but this is one taste-test I’ll be conducting without you.]

Thankfully for Ian and me, a lot of the research I’ve done indicates that most bakeries will schedule tasting consultations with couples and let them sample several flavors gratis. [Guess I’ll have to kick up my workout regimen…] We’ve scheduled one such consultation for next month, and I am beyond excited! Right now, I feel like things are still in the “discussion” phase, and with the advent of upcoming appointments, I feel like we’ll transition into the “planning” phase.

I hope you all have a *sweet* evening, my blends!

Disclaimer: I don’t promise that the blog won’t be flooded with far-too-much wedding-planning info, but I do promise that the blog won’t be all wedding, all the time. I’m just really excited to share everything with you!

Is This Real Life?

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Shit’s getting real, my blends. The bridezilla-mania hath begun. Hence my absence from Le Blogge over the past week.

I told Ian this afternoon that I don’t think I’m going to be the kind of bridezilla who cries and screams and throws a hissy because things aren’t going her way; I think I’m going to be the kind who gets easily overwhelmed and shuts down. I told him this as we were exiting the Richmond Bridal Expo. There’s nothing like hours of breathing flower fumes, attempting to converse with vendors at an unreasonable decibel, and sampling overly sugary treats to make you feel like you’re losing your mind.

We walked around the downtown Richmond Marriott for well over three hours, poring over photography samples, analyzing invitation fonts, tasting miniature cupcakes, smelling perfumey seasonal bouquets, and asking rapid-fire reception venue questions — all while dodging thousands of other brides and grinning like fools. There is so much to think about — and this isn’t even the half of it!

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This is just a smattering of the information I attempted to cram into my handy-dandy bag I was given as we walked in. It should have contained a calculator, tissues, a shot of whiskey, and a tiny TV for the grooms to watch the championship game. My guy earned major Bonus Points for missing Ray Lewis’s last game 😉 Mom also earned Bonus Points for coming downtown to help me ask all the right questions and gather critical information. Go Ruth!

Of course, we slipped in for the obligatory goofy photo booth shots:

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We attended a wedding in June 2011 of one of Ian’s fraternity brothers; he and his wife had a photo booth, and we thought it was just adorable! Couples and friends could take as many photos as they liked during the reception, and both the newlyweds and their guests got a copy of their silly pics for keepsakes.

When we finally stepped away from the chaos, my head was buzzing: Cupcakes or traditional cake? Bowties or ties? Indoor or outdoor? Church and then reception site or all-in-one? Plated dinner or buffet? Seasonal flowers or personalized bouquet? Richmond or out-of-town? Photographer or videographer? Tuxes or suits? Plantation or ballroom?

[Don’t mind me. I’m just slowly suffocating. Carry on!]

The one thing we do know? We (hopefully) love each other enough to make it through this planning nightmare together and alive 😉

PLEASE — If you are married or engaged, give me any and all advice or recommendations you have for wedding-planning! We are such total novices in this department!

Veggie Delight Dinner

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This morning, Mom and I were trying to decide what we should have for dinner tonight before she and Dad headed out to VCU’s winter concert. Oh, what am I up to, you ask? Well, I stayed home tonight to complete my very last assignment of the semester — a take-home exam. It enthralls me to no end to miss family events in order to complete schoolwork. Please note my sarcasm here. Truth be told, the exam will be available today through next Friday; I’m just that type-A nerd who can’t wait to get it over with!

Anywho…

We decided on roasted brussels sprouts, baked sweet potato “chips,” and popcorn shrimp! The shrimp required zero effort, but I’m excited to tell you about the special way we prepared the sprouts and the sweet potatoes.

Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1. Rinse brussels sprouts and remove tough stems.
2. Slice “thinly.”
3. Toss sprouts with 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1/8 tsp. thyme, 1 clove minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Spread the sprouts evenly throughout a large glass baking dish.
5. Roast for 20 minutes on 450°.
6. Toss with 2 tsp. red wine vinegar and coarsely grated Parmesan cheese.
7. Serve!
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Baked Sweet Potato Chips
1. Rinse and peel two large sweet potatoes.
2. Slice thinly.
3. Melt margarine and whisk thoroughly with brown sugar to form a thin sauce.
4. Drizzle potatoes with sauce.
5. Bake on 425° for 20 minutes.
6. Serve!
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As my mom and I were meandering through Ukrop’s today, I said to her, “You know, I think I’m more interested in vegetables now than when I was a vegetarian.” Thankfully, my immediate family is very into eating well. One of my cardinal meal rules is to try to fill my plate with fifty percent veggies. I’d say tonight’s dinner fit the bill 🙂 Man, am I stuffed!

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Iris’s Chicken Casserole

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Whenever I mention my godparents, there’s always someone who goes, “What are GODparents?” (Don’t even get me started on trying to explain godsiblings.) My sister, Caroline, and I are fortunate enough to have two sets of godparents: Kathy and Dave, and Iris and Bill-Bill. Dave is a long-time friend of my dad’s; they met at University of Richmond and were frat bros. They’re godparents to each other’s children, hence my godsister and -brother, Mallory and Taylor. Mallory and I were even fortunate enough to go to Longwood together! Iris passed away before I graduated high school, but she and Bill-Bill were long-time members of our church. Bill-Bill still comes as regularly as possible, but he’s in his 90s now and he lives about 30 minutes from our church. It’s truly a blessing to live as close as we do to both sets of godparents, and to be able to spend time with them regularly.

Both Kathy and Iris were/are magnificent cooks. One of my favorite recipes Iris used to make was a chicken casserole. My mom adapted it for me when I became a vegetarian, but last night, I made it for myself for the first time with real chicken. I’m partially recycling this post. Check it out:

Iris’s Chicken Casserole
1 large chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 C olive oil mayonnaise (or plain fat-free yogurt — note: doesn’t make casserole as creamy)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 can condensed cream of mushroom (or cream of chicken) soup
1/2 C chopped celery
1-2 tbsp diced vidalia onion
1/3 C slivered or sliced almonds
1 small can of mushrooms (pieces and stems fine)
1 C Pepperidge Farm herb seasoned stuffing crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1 C brown rice

1. Mix all ingredients except stuffing crumbs and rice.
2. Put in casserole dish that has been coated with cooking spray.
3. Top with crumbs (may need to be crushed more finely).
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
5. Serve over rice.
Serves two people heartily, or one with plenty of leftovers.

I’m a pretty sentimental person. Whenever I make this casserole — which isn’t very often, because it’s so filling and it requires a fair number of ingredients — I feel like I’m paying tribute to Iris’s memory. Like I said, this recipe isn’t hers exactly, but it still reminds me of her when I eat it. It’s one of my favorite cold weather recipes (even though yesterday could practically have been described as warm) because it “sticks to your ribs,” as my mom would say.

P.S. My apologies for the lack of photographic evidence. I was wayyy too hungry when I started cooking, and I don’t like handling my camera while I’m preparing food. I *may* have a new toy come Christmas time, so there *may* be pictures galore! 😉

Question: Do you have a favorite cold weather recipe? I’m always looking to expand my horizons!