Friday, November 5, 2010

Holiday traditions

The holiday season is upon us. Literally. Thanksgiving is only weeks away, and Christmas is right around the corner.

For John and I, this time of the year is always hectic. I know it's hectic for everyone, but I feel it's doubly, or even triple-y, hectic for us. Not only do we have Thanksgiving and Christmas, but November 11 is our "dating anniversary", December 11 is my birthday and December 8 is my nephew's birthday. Plus, John's sister and brother-in-law also have birthdays in December.

Regardless of the craziness the holidays bring, I cannot wait for this time of year. It always seems to arrive quicker and pass faster with each year, but I still count down the days like a small child.

This year, especially, is going to be a special holiday season. For John and I, it's our last "single" Christmas. This time next year, we'll be preparing for our own holiday season in our own home. When I think about how we'll decorate our future home, what kind of traditions we'll do, I get really excited. There is so much to look forward to.

John and I will have been together four years next week. This Christmas will mark our fifth together. So far, we have mostly participated in my family's traditions. When we first met, John was amazed at the "togetherness" of my family. We have a lot of traditions, and we take them seriously. John's childhood, while still very good, was very different. When I asked him "How would you describe your family's holiday traditions?" his response was, "MY family's traditions? Nonexistent." I think you get the picture.

We generally eat Thanksgiving dinner at my parent's house, where there is, naturally, turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green bean casserole, and of course my mom's French Apple Pie.

In the days before Christmas, my mom and I make our traditional Christmas dinner: Tortellini. We make the pasta and filling (pork) from scratch, and we spend a day listening to Christmas music and drinking pink wine while we assemble quart after quart of tortellini. We also, of course, decorate the tree and the house to the nines.

We (usually) spend Christmas Eve with my family. For as long as I can remember, my family has gone to church and then either hosted or gone to Christmas Eve dinner with the same family we have been friends with forever. My dad (still) reads Twas the Night Before Christmas. Cookies are put out for Santa (what, he still doesn't come to your house?), stockings are filled, and we all go off to bed buzzed on our cocktails of choice and full from a great meal.

Christmas morning is spent leisurely opening presents. We have always opened presents together, taking turns, so everyone can see what everyone else got. We have an order, usually youngest to oldest. We have breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, raisin and oatmeal toast, juice and coffee. The rest of the day is spent rocking out to Christmas music, playing with new toys, taking a walk around the neighborhood, and just being together. For dinner, the tortellini is cooked in chicken broth and served like a soup, best eaten with a little Parmesan cheese, homemade bread and a good wine.

These are just a few of my favorite holiday traditions John and I have been participating in that I hope to carry over into our family. I love these traditions, and I hope (I think) John does too. With that said, I definitely want to create some traditions unique to us and our family.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? How did you blend your family's and his family's traditions? Did you create any of your own, and if so, what are they?

(All this talking about the holidays has me super ready for them. Although, Christmas cookies and fudge and all the other goodies aren't going to help me look good in my wedding dress. Maybe I should ask Santa for willpower this year.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

#20, or where has Pinot Noir been all my life?

This blog, for those who care, was originally about more than just my wedding. It was about something bigger, something more potentially life changing. Well, I seem to have fallen off the bandwagon (as I am wont to do, really), but I'm putting my foot down now. Let me just have a glass of wine.

But not just any wine. Red wine. Something that, up until a couple days ago, I hated. First of all, it's served room temperature, and I really hate that. I like my drinks hot or cold, depending on what it is, i.e. coffee or tea either way, water cold, hot chocolate, well hot. Second, the taste. For me, red wine always looks really good. I mean, it's a gorgeous drink, a really beautiful color, and god knows I love the look of wine glasses. So all in all, very pretty. It looks like it should taste fantastic, and I suppose to many people it is. But you know when you see something that looks really good, and you are really excited about until you actually take a bite, and you find it's nothing like you expected, and you really don't like it? You know that face you make when that happens? That's the face I make when I drink red wine.

But there is something so romantic about it to me. I've always thought it was a really adult thing to do, to go to a restaurant and drink red wine. I don't know why I think this, but it's something I associate with being an adult (I know, there are teenagers across the globe drinking cheap Merlot out of plastic cups who are definitely not adults). It's a sophisticated drink. To me, it says, "I'm an adult who knows what I'm talking about." Even if you really don't (and I know most probably don't, but bear with me).

Most of the time I feel like I'm just pretending to be an adult. I'm 23, almost 24. I have two degrees. I manage to make some money freelancing while job hunting. I can do my own laundry without losing socks (a real triumph), and I'm getting married, but I still feel like a kid. Whenever I go out with John's friends, who are all slightly older than me, I feel like I'm masquerading as one of them.

Which, in some ways, is kind of funny, because I don't know I've ever seen any of them drinking red wine. I'm pretty sure I've seen more of my age friends drinking red wine than his, but still, this is how I perceive it.

So, the other night, I decided to go out on a limb and give it another try. While at the grocery store, I purchased a bottle of Pinot Noir.

The (Illustrated) Story of Us: Pinot Noir & Me

I chose this specific type of red wine because I really like Pinot Grigio, so it seemed like a good place to start. I chose this brand because I really like its Pinot Grigio. And it was seven bucks, and that's about all I was willing to spend.

I carefully read the bottle. As you do. Well, at least as I do.

And then I took a sip.

And another.

And another.

The verdict?

I liked it. Even better, I really liked it. I might even say I love it. I could go as far to see it might be my new favorite drink, but my love for vodka tonics is long and strong, so I don't know about that. But I definitely enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.

I was honestly I little surprised it was as easy as this. I don't know if it was the kind of wine, the brand, the fact that no one is breathing down my neck asking, "Did you like it?" or what. But regardless, I like it. Maybe it's psychosomatic, but I really don't care. Even if I never find another kind of red wine I enjoy, I'll always have Bella Sera Pinot Noir.

And no, I don't automatically feel like an adult, but I do feel a little more sophisticated, a little more exciting, and adult-ish. Which is better than pseudo adult any day.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An uphill battle

I never thought planning this wedding would go according to plan. Everyone told me it would be stressful, and I've watched enough of Bridezillas to know there has to be something that makes these women insane.

For some, it may be flowers. For others, it's the dress. Maybe the cake, photographer, or caterer.

For me, it's the officiant.

When we first starting planning the wedding, I knew one thing for certain: Where the ceremony would take place. My mom is/was hell bent on having a Catholic mass ceremony, and I knew if we were going to do that, we had to have it at the same church my parents were married in. It was the only place I would even entertain to get married at.

We are not parishioners of this church, but actually getting married there wasn't going to be a problem, as long as we paid twice the amount we would have paid elsewhere, they'd marry us. Great.

"But you'll need to find an officiant."

Okay. How hard can it be?

Oh, how naive I was! I really thought this would be a cinch. But the pastor from my church was going to be in Europe during June 2011. And deacons can't say a mass. That left the other church. But wait, even though it isn't my church and we're paying buttloads of money to use it for one hour, I still had to contact their priests! Okay! I can do that!

Except their priest? Really bad at getting back to people. Like, awful. I mean, for someone who has to talk to people all the time, you'd think he'd be better at interpersonal communication.

After multiple attempts by both myself and the wedding coordinator of the church, the priest FINALLY called me back. Except I was in class at the time and couldn't answer. So he had to leave a message. And when I went to call him back not even 15 minutes later, he was out of the office. So I had to leave a message.

And I never heard back from him. Apparently a few phone messages was enough, because the church let us book, and we paid a deposit. But, a couple months later, the wedding coordinator contacted me to let me know our officiant had left that church. He left us one way of getting in touch with him: A single, solitary email address.

And this brings us back to where we are now. A couple weeks ago, I sent our officiant an email to we could set up a time to meet. Given his track record, I figured I should start early. But when I didn't hear back from him after several attempts over a month period, I started to get nervous. I broke down and emailed the wedding coordinator, who so gracefully informed me she hadn't heard from him either, and I better get to lookin' for a new one.

So now we are officiantless, as we were several months ago. I'm trying not to panic, but I can finally understand why so many brides lose it. When you spend so much time, energy, and money into organizing one day, it's easy to get pretty upset when someone messes with it.

If it were anything else, I think I might react better. You can always get a new dress, flowers can be fixed, and the cake isn't that important. But the officiant? He actually marries you. Pretty important.

So, hey, Archdiocese of New Orleans? I need a new officiant, over here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Oh, I have a blog?

So, I've really dropped the ball on my little project over here. At least, I've dropped the ball on the blogging part of it.

Anyway, I have been up to things, both project related, wedding related and otherwise:

I've taught someone something. I've watched a scary movie (I would even say it was two scary movies, but John would probably argue neither were than scary. I beg to differ on this. My game, my rules). I've added to my fitness routine by doing power yoga and pilates. And I've been working on a few other things, as well.

Wedding related, I ordered my save-the-dates yesterday (so, so, so cute!), picked out my invitations

In the otherwise department, we went on a small vacation to Florida for Labor Day, where we celebrated John's birthday and my mom's birthday. I went to Lafayette to visit my brother, SIL and nephew. I went to Baton Rouge (a lot) to visit John. I've also been trying my hardest to get a job, which is almost like a job in and of itself (albeit an extremely unrewarding, crappy paying one).

So, what I'm saying here is, no I haven't forgotten about this. I've just been busy. And if I'm being an entirely honest, I little uninspired, but I'm working on that. I've got a few entries outlined, so hopefully I'll be back to our regularly scheduled blog posts shortly.

Toodles! (For today only! I promise!)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wedding dress success

I went wedding dress shopping yesterday, and it was an experience.

If you remember, I had some qualms about going wedding dress shopping. Yesterday morning, I had a case a nerves similar to those I would get on the first day of school. Not entirely sure what to expect, but still excited for the experience.

I had made an appointment at Southern Bridal, a boutique in Mandeville, Louisiana, where I live. Overall, I had a great experience. Here are 5 things I learned about wedding gowns while shopping for wedding gowns:

1. There is no such thing as a standard sample size.
Southern Bridal, though small, had a lot of dresses, and several designers. I found myself confined to only two or three designers because they had samples in "larger" sizes (and my larger I mean 10, 12, or 14). If it was any smaller than a 10, as they say, fuggedaboutit. My maid of honor brought me in a beautiful dress that was a size 8, and I couldn't even get it on.

2. Forget standard sample size, there is no such thing as a standard sizing system. Period.
A 12 in one designer would fit, but be too snug in another. Also? I learned I could fit in a size 14 in certain dresses, if they were a certain style. I didn't really want a mermaid style dress, but in the interest of being open-minded, I decided to try on some. Well, once we were in the dressing room with them, I couldn't even get them on. Clearly, the sample sizes were not meant for someone with hips. They could have been beautiful on me, but we'll never know. Oh well.

3. Those bitches can be heavy.
You just don't realize how much tonnage beading, lace and embroidery can hold until you are trying to get a dress with a fully beaded bodice and train on.

4. A dress might be gorgeous, but breathing is never overrated.
I tried on a discontinued dress that was breathtaking...literally. I mean, it fit, but it was TIGHT. The people at the store "thought" there was enough fabric to let out, but really, on a purchase like this, I'm going to need a more positive answer then "I think." Also, some of the beading was loose, and in general, my mom and I were hesitant about buying a sample dress, even if it was 50% off (for the record, the dress was pretty pricey to begin with so, the discounted price was okay, but with alteration fees I'm not sure it would have been that much of a steal).

5. In the end, you may pick out a dress you never envisioned yourself in.
Needless to say, I've thought about John and my wedding day a lot. Of all the factors involved in a wedding, my wedding dress has been the one that has changed the most. I guess it's because I hadn't tried any on yet, but every time I envisioned our wedding day, I saw something different. With that said, the dress I picked yesterday is nothing like I ever thought I would wear. It's absolutely beautiful, of course, (I can't describe it here, but if you want to know more about it, email me at secretbrideblog (at) gmail (dot) com) and it was the only dress that when I put it on, I felt like a bride in. Not just any bride, but John's bride. This was the dress, that when I wore it, I could see myself walking down the aisle in. This was the dress I wanted to marry John in.

I just re-read that, oh my, is it ever sappy. But I guess weddings are sappy affairs.

Also, on Twitter the other day I asked what undergarments to wear while trying on dresses. Thanks for all the replies! I ended up going in a bustier and Spanx, and both made the dresses fit really well (when I could get in to them!).

In the interest of entertainment, here is a photo I posted on twitpic yesterday, of the aforementioned size 8 dress I couldn't get into.

Wedding dress fail:

ETA: I still can't believe I found a dress so...easily. I honestly thought it would be much more difficult, but I am relieved it's over, and so happy I found the perfect dress for me. (Granted, it was the first dress I tried on, but of course I tried on about a dozen or so after, just to be sure. What can I say? I like to be extra positive :P.)

Thursday, August 19, 2010


#30 Accept the fact I will never join a gym and find a fitness program that works for me.

I often tell people I'm allergic to the gym, and I'm not lying when I say it. I have real, legitimate, visceral reactions when I am in, near, or around a gym. I start to sweat, itch and shake. I get a pit in my stomach. Every fiber in my being is screaming, "GET AWAY GET AWAY." Sometimes, I break out in a rash.

I've been told, by people with "medical degrees" and "knowledge", that this is less of an "allergic reaction" to the gym itself, but probably a "reaction to the anxiety I associate with the gym". Pffft. Whatever, doctors. I'm allergic to those bitches, and that's all there is to it.

Regardless of whether trained, medical professionals are correct or I am, one thing is undeniable: I really hate the mother effing gym.

As I have admitted in previous posts, I am not one of those stick thin girls. I'm not one of those in shape girls. Hell, I'm not even one of those average girls (all though, on a good day, I can pass for it). I am, as my noni so fondly calls it, a "big" girl. Slightly overweight. Big boned. I will never be thin. At my absolute smallest, I squeezed into a size 8, but if I'm being entirely honest, I was more comfortable in a 10. I am currently in a size 12. Sometimes, I wear a size 14.

And this, gentle readers, is why I hate the gym.

When you are a un-fit size 12/14, things don't always look good in motion. I believe Bridget Jones said it best: You know, wobbly bits. I have them. And, they, well, wobble when I try to do active things. Like, say, run. Or bike. Or whatever. I have no control over the direction certain body parts lumber off in. Things bounce without permission. Objects may make sudden, unexpected, uncontrollable movements. What I am saying is, I cannot control "the motion in the ocean" (Isn't that a pleasant image? I apologize). And there's nothing I can about it short of lubing myself up and shoving my whole body into a spandex suit, and you know, I'm not even sure that would do anything for my appropriately named thunder thighs.

So, when I run on the treadmill next to those stick thin, really fit guys and gals, I am super aware of what my own body looks like.

In addition to the body image dimorphism, I often feel like going to the gym is a competition against those around me. I see Pretty Blond Girl running, and I feel like I have to run as long as she does. If you haven't figured it out yet, I hate running and am not in shape, so this is delusional at best and down-right crazy at worst. I can never run as long as someone else at the gym.

Unless I find someone in worst shape than I am to compare myself to, I will always feel inadequate at the gym. And that's unlikely. How many overweight people do you see at the gym? Exactly. Few, if any. They avoid it for the same reasons I avoid it. Look it up. It's called gym intimidation. Seriously, you can Google it.

Anyway, long story short, the gym and I are not friends, and we never will be.

With that said, I want to look stunning on my wedding day, and I would love to put forth the effort to lose some weight. Just not at the gym. Enter my father (this is a good story, I promise). My dad walks every morning. Walking is something I can do. It's actually better on your joints than running, and brisk walking burns about the same calories per minute as running does .

So, every morning at about 6:30, I've been walking a few miles with my dad and other people from the neighborhood. It's actually, dare I say it, fun, because there's good company for gossiping, and I don't feel like anyone is judging me. I actually feel superior than people. I feel like I am exuding a very "Look at me! I'm up and at 'em and sweatin' and burnin' some fat! You all wish you were as awesome as me!" attitude. It's very liberating.

Anyhoo, so I'm walking. And I've added crunches to the routine, too. And soon, I'll start P90 with John. Between all of this, here's to hoping I'll see some results.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wedding gown shopping, and why I'm losing sleep over it.

NOTE: Thanks to Andrea and Ace for commenting on the previous post! I appreciate the advice!

In a couple of weeks, I get to do one of the things I've looked forward to for most of my life. I'd say it's something most girls look forward: Trying on wedding dresses.

The funny thing is, I'm terrified.

Like most women, I've struggled with my weight for most of my life, and I'm sure the rest of it will likely be the same. I am not obese by any measure, but I am somewhat overweight, something I'm highly uncomfortable with due to the fact it's pointed out to me constantly by certain people. I blame my love of food, tasty, fattening food, usually, for my "tubbiness". I'd probably weigh a whole lot less if I had a little more will power, but I just can't deny myself that extra cookie/cake/brownie/french fry/what have you. What I'm saying is, food and I are BFFs.

I've always been this way, so it's not anything I'm not used to, but for some unexplained reason, I've gained a few pounds in the last few months. I say unexplained because I have been exercising more and watching what I eat more, so I'm truly perplexed. I know it isn't muscle gain, well, maybe some, but I honestly just feel flabbier.

(And if any of you wise cracks even for a moment suggest that I am pregnant, I assure you I am not.)

So, obviously, the last thing you want to do when you are feeling fat is try on clothes. You especially don't want to try on an article of clothing as important as a wedding dress. Add in the fact that I know most dresses run small, and I already wear a size 12 regularly, so I'll probably end up ordering a size 20 or something, and I'm breaking out into a sweat just thinking about it.

I've read all the crap about not concentrating on the number, just think of how you look in the dress, and while I can do this with jeans (I cut the tags out of all my jeans so no one else knows their size), I don't think I'll be able to do it with a wedding dress. Also, 12 is much easier to swallow than 20. I blame the media on this skewed body perception, but doesn't everybody?

Also, I am taking along my mother, who has always been more petite than I, and my skinniest MOH. This probably means nothing to you, but my MOH and I went on a diet together my senior year of HS. We both lost a lot of weight, but I gained it all back in college, and she was able to keep it all off. I have always felt a little upset with myself over this, because I figured, "well, everyone gains weight in college," but clearly not.

I know it's all mental, but my mind is my worst enemy. I'm hoping it will be more pleasant than I expect, as I am sure I'm overreacting, but still. Worrying is, unfortunately, what I do best.