Thursday, March 26, 2015

The countdown continues

We are just inside the seven-weeks-to-go mark for our wedding, and every time my brain so thoughtfully reminds itself of that, I feel kind of like throwing up.

Don't get me wrong; I'm looking forward to this day so much it hurts. But I might be looking forward even more to the days following, when everything will be calm and I'll be relaxing on a beach, secure in the knowledge that I'll (hopefully) never have to plan such a massive event ever again and that our cat is being kept company by some good friends who will be kind enough to house-sit. (Hear that potential thieves? Our house will still be occupied, thanks.)

I'm sure you all are sick of hearing about wedding things. I know I'm sick of hearing myself talk about it. My friends, family members and future in-laws have started making gentle comments about how every single Facebook status I post is somehow related to the wedding or wedding activities. Part of me feels bad about being so word-vomit-y about the whole thing, but the other part of me is just too excited to care. Because in just under seven weeks (cue stomach turning), my time-sensitive projects will be complete and I can luxuriously tackle some neglected house projects at my leisure. Oh, it's Saturday and I feel like sleeping in until 11, brunching, taking a nap, then watching Netflix for six hours? Yeah, not a problem. After May, anyway. Until then, my life consists of crafts, a photo project that I probably should have passed on, and trying to squeeze in time for a run or climb to keep all my stress-eating weight off.

It's not all stress, though. This weekend my mom and sisters threw a bridal shower for me, and my bridesmaid Hayley threw another. (The first was family and in-laws-to-be, the second was friends.) It was so great to sit back and let someone else do the planning...though I have to admit, guilt got the better of me for some strange reason and I kept insisting that they let me help with stuff.

I'm sure most of us ladies have been to at least one bridal (or baby) shower; I myself have been to a dozen or more at this point. But it was so awkward for me to be the one at the center of attention! It's funny, because I'm usually a ham at parties; I love cracking jokes and generally being incredibly outgoing. Apparently, this is not the case when I'm the planned center of attention. I did manage to relax, though, and wound up having a great time at both parties. Didn't my mom, my sisters and Hayley do fantastic jobs? (These photos are deceiving; I forgot my camera for the family shower, and we had to rely on my mom's ancient point-and-shoot, which we later found out only took blurry photos, and my sister's iPhone. Super bummed at myself, but at least we got a few snaps!)

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Clockwise from top: The mantle; Anna tied figure eight knots on the jars as decorations (did I mention the shower was rock/climbing themed?) | My mom, Ellen, me and Anna; sadly this photo is super blurry so the only way it looks halfway decent is if it's really tiny | White-chocolate-covered Oreos, YUM | Guests wrote advice for "rocky" times on rocks that Anna gathered at Ohio University, my alma mater and her current school | The cake!

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Clockwise from top-left: Matt's family and on the end, my friend/bridesmaid Tiffany | My mom's side of the family | Me and my mom :)

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I wish I remembered what was so uproariously funny in that shot on the right...

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Wine and an apron, what more does a girl need? (Not pictured: The games! My sisters did a mad libs-style game with advice for the couple, which included the sentence, "Matt, always remember to hide Emma's baby." Ha! We also played a celebrity couple matchup game and my personal favorite, "who said it?" Anna grabbed Facebook status from Matt's and my profiles over the last few years and we had to guess who's status it was. She picked hard ones! Of the 15 questions, even I missed three.)

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Clockwise from bottom-left: Me with my friend/bridesmaid Emily | Me with my friend/bridesmaid Hayley, who threw the shower | Beautiful decorations that Hayley made | Some kickass sangria that I drank wayyyy too much of because it was delicious ;)

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Clockwise from bottom-left: A bunch of us gals | Playing the "how well do you know the bride?" game; I made the questions WAY too hard, and Hayley scolded me for saying "well, if you put this instead of that, we'll take it." | Hayley did this really cute "underwear to last your whole marriage" gift. It started with a white pair to wear on the wedding night, and ended with a ginormous pair of granny panties for when I'm an old lady, haha!

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Opening gifts. Gotta love those wine accessories; the one in the bottom-left corner is a Corkcicle | On the right: Can we just appreciate my face for a second? Tape is hard when you have short nails.

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Clockwise from bottom-left: While bragging about how good I am at not breaking ribbons, I broke a ribbon! (It wound up being my fifth between the two showers; I broke three on purpose at the first just to appease everyone, then accidentally broke a fourth. Guess Matt and I will have a big family after all, haha!) | The "lifetime of underwear" from Hayley. She gave me the gift receipt and insisted I pick out something that I might actually wear :) | It's hard to see, but that potholder has Ohio on it. I love my state!

Are you married? Did you feel as awkward at your shower(s) as I did, or did you just bask in the glow of the event (like I should have)?

Friday, March 13, 2015

An outfit and new social media handle alert!

So the last few weeks have been something of a whirlwind. I was completely overwhelmed with the task of finishing and mailing our wedding invitations; I left a few things (like getting the dang things printed, ahem) to the last minute and found myself scrambling to get them sent out in time. Granted, they still technically went out "early" — eight weeks instead of four to six — but our hotel block's cutoff is in about a week and I wanted to make sure everyone who wanted a room could get one.

Anyway, I designed them, fretted until the last minute about said design, said "screw it" and just sent them to be printed, was disappointed to see that they turned out purple instead of navy blue, said "screw it" again and started stuffing, stamping, addressing and sealing. The addressing took forever; I wanted them to look fancy, so I bought a calligraphy pen and promptly regretted that decision. After much trial and error, they turned out okay. I ordered 25 more envelopes than I needed and with mistakes, I ended up with one to spare. That's what I call luck. I then proceeded to stay up until 2 a.m. last Friday, stuffing, licking and stamping 125 envelopes. Have you ever licked 125 envelopes by yourself? It sucks.

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But aren't they pretty?

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A little obsessed with the lettering on this one. For some reason, I just love it. You can see my secret, too: Write it in pencil first, trace over with the calligraphy pen and India ink, then erase the pencil when the ink dries.

On top of all that, Matt was gone for two weeks to do a training in Colorado. I wasn't jealous or lonely at all. He came back on Saturday, and I'm still trying to get back into some semblance of a schedule. I kind of devolved into bachelorettehood while he was gone. I didn't hate it, but I much prefer having him around ;)

I've also been SERIOUSLY slacking on the outfit photo front lately. Something about the frigid temps and the snow lately have just crushed my motivation. I'm dressing for comfort, not style, which has meant leggings under slacks, three layers of shirts, big sweaters and generally shapeless silhouettes.

I did manage to dress nicely on a semi-warm (read: temps in the 20s instead of single digits) day last month. I straight-up copied this pin, but honestly, I was just glad to bust out my beloved maxi skirt and look somewhat pulled together again.

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sweater: H&M
oxford: thrifted
maxi skirt, kitten heels: Target
necklace: giveaway win (originally from Nordstrom)

Just realized you can see my remote in the last photo. The illusion is shattered! Womp womp. Anyway, there's my secret to wearing skirts in winter: Wear long ones so you can rock some bomb-ass fleece-lined leggings underneath. I was so toasty, you don't even know. But you could. If you got a maxi skirt and fleece leggings.

Anyway, this was the first outfit I've worn in a long time that I really put effort into and liked. I hate how winter just saps all of my energy and creativity. Oh well, at least it's almost over!

And finally, in other news, if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, my usernames have changed! They're easy to remember: @verbalmelange. Hooray, brand alignment!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sisterhood of the Traveling Boxing Gloves

Last year, my friend and blog buddy Ally "battled back" when life knocked her down by styling a cute outfit around some pink boxing gloves she'd found. It was adorable and her incredible readers clamored to follow suit. Ally shipped the gloves around the world, from Canada and the U.S. to Europe and Australia. When they arrived on my doorstep, I felt somewhat humbled.

The idea of the gloves, as Ally puts it, is to celebrate female strength. Bloggers have posed with them in fighting stances, on motorcycles, duking it out with themselves and surfing Pinterest. Female strength means so many things to so many people, and to try to encapsulate my vision of strength in a single shot — while living up to the awesome ladies worldwide who have come before me — was daunting. Of course, the number one thing that empowers me and makes me feel strong is climbing...but you can't really hold on to ANYTHING while you're wearing boxing gloves, so that was out.

What, then, could I draw my strength from? What imagery could encapsulate the power I feel inside me every day? The question plagued me, and it delayed my participation in the project by months. Then, it hit me.

I don't have to draw my strength from anything. It just is; it's a part of me. It's one of the many quirks and traits that make me the person I am, along with stubbornness, whimsy, a love for making things right and a million other things. So I took that idea and ran with it.

To me, strength can be as simple as "doing you." Being the person you are and never apologizing for it. If that means doing a handstand against a wall before a dance class, then so be it. If it means something else entirely, that's fine too. It's more than fine — it's incredible.

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Make sure you check out the other glove-wearing badasses who've come before me! And before I forget, a special thanks to my friend and dance instructor guru, Nicole, who took this photo for me.

So there you have it: my vision of strength. Where do you draw yours from?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Eats: Breakfast poutine

Well hey there guys! Yes, I'm still here and still blogging. I've been a little overwhelmed with getting our wedding invitations ready to send on Saturday; I kind of waited too long to print my designs and order my envelopes, and now I'm scrambling to address, stuff, stamp and seal everything. After spending most of my weekend on that project, I think I've finally caught up. Hand-calligraphing 130 invites is no small feat!

But this isn't a wedding post; this is a post about some freaking awesome food I made a couple of weekends ago. I was inspired by something Sydney got for breakfast a while back: breakfast poutine. I've been wanting to tackle a poutine recipe for a LONG time now, and combining it with my favorite meal--breakfast--was just too good to pass up.

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I don't like to toot my own horn, but it. was. incredible. This was mostly because I used the best cheese I've ever eaten in my life. Traditional poutine uses cheese curds, but I had this incredible black truffle white cheddar cheese I picked up on my way back from my parents' house in February. Between Columbus and my parents' town, there's this place called Grandpa's Cheesebarn. I've been passing this establishment regularly for the past eight years, and only recently decided to stop in. Those eight years may have been one of the biggest wastes of my life. If you like cheese and are anywhere near Ashland, Ohio, you have to go. No question; it must be done.

Anyway, the dish itself was easy. I used some frozen hash brown potato cube things in lieu of french fries, topped them with the cheese and some brown gravy, then threw an over-medium egg on top of that and served with a side of bacon. I could straight-up eat that dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The truffle cheese is gone, sadly, but I'll be venturing up past Ashland later this month so I'm sure I will stop in again and I may or may not drop a good $40 on cheese. Again.

Have you made any epic meals lately?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hey Elsa, the cold bothers some of us

It's official: If I'm not at work or working on an assignment, I am in full-on hibernation mode. I had yesterday off for President's Day, but took today off as well thanks to either a stomach bug or something I ate yesterday. And with the frigid temps outside, all I want is to hide under 18 thousand layers of blankets and sleep until it's spring. Heck, I'd take temps in the 30s if I could get 'em; it's 17 right now (4 with the wind chill) and we're not supposed to see anything above freezing until the weekend...when we're supposed to get another dump of snow before the temps plummet down to highs in the 20s again. I don't know if this is winter's last dying gasps or if things are gonna stay this crappy until after Daylight Savings kicks back in, but I sure hope it's the first.

But enough about how much I hate the cold and the snow.

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t-shirt: H&M
cardi: Forever 21
jeans and flats: Target
necklace: Jane.com

I'm fairly sure I've blogged an outfit like this before, but I have this lovely new, unshrunk mustard cardigan and I went to a trusty ol' standby for styling it. Honestly, I've been doing a lot of repeats lately; this weather just saps all the energy out of me and makes it hard to style an outfit creatively. But I said I was done complaining about the weather, right?

I guess it could be worse. Now I have an excuse to stay in and work on projects in the evenings and on weekends; I don't feel like such a recluse for spending my Friday nights with a hot glue gun when everyone else I know is doing the same with Netflix or what have you. And the central Ohio area has been spared a lot; we've received nothing compared to the feet of snow that's been dumped on New England this year. Still, I find myself daydreaming more and more about the Mexican beach where Matt and I will be spending our honeymoon. We're inside the three-month mark now, and I couldn't be more excited!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I'm guest posting today!

Howdy folks! Today I have a guest post up on Work Clothes, I Suppose, while the lovely blog owner Bri is on her honeymoon. On an African safari. As you do. Anyway, check out the post (and the rest of Bri's awesome blog) here!

Monday, February 9, 2015

It's the final countdoooooown

Well, kind of. Today is February 9, so in three months — on May 9 — all my hard work over the last year and a half will culminate in me marrying the love of my life. Sorrynotsorry if that's cheesy and you're gagging over your screen right now; the fact is, it's probably the most exciting event of my life thus far. And I'm not about to downplay that!

Three months left also means that it's starting to be crunch time. Plans are being finalized, crafts are being finished (or in some cases, started), and general panic is beginning to ensue. Don't get me wrong, it's really great to be this close to The Big Day. Matt and I were just talking last week about how nice it is to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. But there's still so much to do! Planning a largely DIY wedding for 250 people (heyyy, giant families!) is no easy feat.

Because I've had little time for outfit photos or any other kind of content generation, here are some wedding-related snaps from the last several months...including a sneak peak of my dress ;)

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Any married readers out there have any advice for me in the last couple of weeks and months? I feel like I need all the help I can get :)