Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: The Flowers

Today's wedding detail I wanted to share is one of my favorites. The flowers!

Peonies are my favorite flowers and I've wanted to use them in my wedding for years. They were the reason I wanted to get married in June. I had to get married while they were in season!

After meeting with several local florists, I went with MichaelAngelo's. They run a full-service event company. The planner that I worked with was very friendly and enthusiastic. She was excited about my ideas and offered suggestions that went with my ideas. I was confident that they would pull off my ideas well.

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I LOVED my bouquet. It was everything I hoped for. The flowers were beautiful and fluffy. They were the perfect shades of pink and they smelled WONDERFUL! I seriously could not stop smelling it all day. I also carried it around all day. I didn't want to put it down.

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I had a special attachment to my bouquet. My mother-in-law bought this rosary for me to carry on our wedding day. I hope to be able to pass it down to my future daughter for her wedding.

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As much as I loved my bouquet, I was disappointed in the bridesmaids bouquets. One of the reasons that I booked my florist was that they let me see all the flowers the day before the wedding. When my mom and I arrived for our appointment however, they only had my bouquet done. Apparently, they did not like the peonies that first arrived for my bridesmaids bouquets, so they had to get others and the bouquets were not done yet.

I liked that they were being picky for me, but when the bouquets arrived the next day, I was disappointed in the color. The bridesmaids bouquets were supposed to be fuschia, but instead they were a darker pink.The bouquets themselves were very nice, just the wrong color. Which, if I had been able to see them, I would have at least been prepared for even if it was too late to get the right color.

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After the wedding, I kept my bouquet in a vase on top of our fridge (to protect it from cats.) We went on our honeymoon and I forgot about it. I expected to come back and find a bouquet of dead flowers, but it was actually dried, so I've kept it. It's very fragile though so I haven't been able to move it from on top of our fridge.

All photos by Amanda Fales Photography.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Washington DC Vacation Recap Day 1

I wanted to start recapping our vacation to DC back in September. I did posts while we were there, but I wanted to share the pictures I took and more details about what we did.

We decided to go to DC because my husband had never been there before and I knew this would be a place he'd enjoy. Also, it was a budget friendly vacation because so many things are free in DC.

To stay under budget, we stayed outside DC in Alexandria, VA. We booked through Priceline and got a great hotel for cheaper than the budget hotels I was pricing. Fortunately our hotel had free parking and free breakfast, so we had one free meal everyday. We tried not to eat in DC because the food was expensive, especially in the museums. We ate dinners in the suburbs and used some gift cards that we'd been collecting.

We used the Metro to get into DC every day. Our hotel provided a free shuttle to the local station and was actually in walking distance (for us, anyway.) Once in the city, we pretty much walked everywhere. We used my phone for directions a lot. I love my smartphone!

Our first day of vacation was spent driving straight through to Alexandria. The trip was only supposed to take 11 hours, but we ended up hitting a traffic jam in Pennsylvania We sat there for a couple hours and then there was no explanation of why exactly. Why does that always seem to happen on road trips?

We finally got to our hotel 3 hours late and we pretty much just crashed. We had to get a good night's sleep for our first day of touring DC!

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Weekend Round-Up: Thanksgiving and Black Friday

I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving and a good weekend. We ended up having 2 Thanksgivings this year, which was actually quite fun.

Thanksgiving #1 happened on Thursday. We had dinner at my mom's with her and my youngest brother's family. My brother deep fried the turkey, which I've never tried before, so I was looking forward to that. It was very tasty! The turkey was moist and the skin was crispy, which I love.

After dinner, we shared Christmas lists and talked to my other brother who called from Washington. He's an air traffic controller, so he was working later that day.

M and I also had my mom take some pictures of us. I wasn't going to do picture Christmas cards because we don't have any pictures together from this year. (We seriously fail at taking pictures together.) But, I got a code for some free cards and I couldn't pass that up!

Here's an outtake from our little photo shoot. I really need to teach my mom how to take pictures.

I did love my outfit though, it was very preppy and bright. And I was having a good hair day. I did the no heat curls the night before and they turned out really well this time.

Of course, we had to head home and get to bed early on Thursday. We ended up sleeping from 6pm to 10pm, so it was really more of a nap than actually going to bed.

We both worked from 11:30 pm Thursday to 11:30am Friday. It was long and by the end, I was tired, but it was fun. I am definitely ready to be done working Black Friday though. Most of the customers were great and I think everything went pretty smoothly at our store.

I did pick up a few things before we left. I couldn't pass up a great deal on flannel sheets and I got a couple Christmas presents for a good deal.

We then headed up to M's sister's for Thanksgiving #2 with his family. I ended up sleeping the whole way there even though I swear I had just closed my eyes and we were there. I also wound up napping on the couch while dinner was being made...oops!

Dinner #2 was pretty traditional and tasty. We played some games and watched The King's Speech afterwards (I LOVE that movie!) and had some pumpkin pie before heading home.

Over the weekend, M and I took it easy and stayed home. We were both feeling sick so we slept a lot and managed to put out most of the Christmas decor and get the tree up. I'm still on the hunt for the perfect tree skirt and topper.

How was your weekend? Score any good deals on Black Friday or Cyber Monday?



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Friday, November 25, 2011

The Truly Awesome Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies



I'm a BzzAgent, so I sometimes get to try products and review them. This time, I was asked to try Kroger's The Truly Awesome Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies. I was sent two boxes of the cookies and that night, my husband and I opened the first box.

The sweet we most often have in our house is chocolate chip cookies and we're pretty picky about our cookies. The first thing I noticed when I opened the package was that the cookies were bigger than other packaged chocolate chip cookies. In fact, they are almost 2x the size of other cookies.

The second thing I noticed was how many chocolate chips were in the cookies. They were chock full of chocolate. Chocolate chips are the #1 ingredient in these cookies,which in my opinion, is exactly how it should be.

Normally, we prefer soft chocolate chip cookies, but I love crunchy cookies if they are full of chocolate, which these are. Plus, there are no added preservatives or artificial colors, so they're just like homemade.

And the taste? They are delicious! Full of chocolate, both my husband and I enjoyed them thoroughly. They taste great dunked in a glass of cold milk.

Want to try them? They are available for the suggested retail price of $2.79 at the Kroger Family of Stores, including Fred Meyer and Ralphs. Check them out today! 

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As a BzzAgent, I was given free product and coupons to try. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everybody is having a great day today filled with lots of delicious food. I'll be spending the day with my family enjoying dinner before heading to bed at 4pm. And then it's Black Friday! My store is one of the many opening at Midnight and it's sure to be interesting.


Here are some free printable place cards for your Thanksgiving table.


And here's a free Thanksgiving subway art printable for your home.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: The Rings

Up next on my list of wedding details to share with you are our rings. I told you previously how we picked out my engagement ring, but I never shared how we got our wedding bands.

Since the store we bought my engagement ring closed, we had to look elsewhere for our wedding bands. We wanted to support a local business and were interested in some custom work, so we shopped around. We ended up doing business with a small local chain of jewelry stores called Athens Jewelers.

We worked with the manager of the store and had great customer service. I wanted a thin band with diamonds like the middle part of engagement ring. She was able to show me several different styles and even ordered some so that I could see them before buying. We ended up getting a great deal on my wedding band.

M really wanted a wedding band that mimicked my engagement ring. Athens does custom work in-house, so we were able to describe what we wanted and they made it for us. This is where the customer service started to lack. M's band was supposed to be done a couple weeks before our wedding (we procrastinated due to some budget issues.) We didn't end up getting the band until a few days before our wedding. I was not happy.

Then, we go to pick up the ring and it's not right. The diamonds were not set the way M wanted them AND they were crooked! The jeweler couldn't even set them straight! I was livid. There was no time to fix it before the wedding, so we took it. The manager promised that we could bring it back after the wedding, and it would be fixed.

Which we did and it was, but that never should have happened. We told them when our wedding was and they promised it could be done with plenty of time to spare. A couple days is not plenty of time to spare! And now, my wedding pictures are wrong! M's ring looks better than the pictures. This is why I didn't want a lot of ring pictures in our album. I didn't tell our photographers this story and they ended up using a picture of our rings on our pictured DVDs, so now I see them every time I want to look at our pictures. Not our photographers' fault, they didn't know.

Anyway, the pictures are pretty and my rings are nice, so here they are.

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The rings came in these little boxes which were pretty cute.

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See the diamonds on M's ring? He wanted them set into the ring and they are on top of the ring. They would have been damaged  like crazy in his line of work.

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These are the pictures I like the most because you can't tell how crooked M's diamonds were. The rock that the rings are on in this picture is actually part of my mom's driveway. It's amazing how pretty good and creative photographers can make anything look!

Next week, pretty pretty flowers! Expect lots of pictures!

All photos by Amanda Fales Photography.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Vera Bradley Bright Friday

Friday is Black Friday at most retailers, but at Vera Bradley it's Bright Friday! They will be opening early and having a new sale and some great deals.

It's time for the new retiring colors and styles to go on sale in preparation for the new Spring releases. Still no official word on when they will be released, but if history is any indicator, it will be in January just after Christmas. EDIT - They will be released January 19, 2012!

As I predicted earlier, the colors being retired are:

Symphony in Hue
Buttercup
Twirly Birds Pink
English Meadow
Night and Day
These colors will all be 25% off starting tomorrow, November 23. Along with those colors, Vera Bradley will also be retiring some styles. Some of these are just being restyled for the spring and some will be retired for good. The styles are:

Have a Ball Keychain
Wristlet (probably being restyled)
Kiss and Make Up
Brush and Pencil (probably being restyled)
Alice
Bowler
Betsy
Gabby
Cooler
Little Betsy
Emma
One for the Money

I have a hunch we'll be seeing these styles in all available colors at the Outlet Sale in April.

Plus, if you spend $100 or more in-store, you'll get a Holiday Tote free and $10 towards a future purchase.

Black Friday Deals: Large Duffel for $49.99, Weekender for $59.99 and Vera for $39.99! Valid 11/24-11/27/2011

Plus, Free Shipping on orders of $75 or more at verabradley.com! Valid November 20-29, 2011


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Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekend Round-Up

I can't believe it's Monday already, but at least it's a holiday week! I'm looking forward to having 2 Thanksgivings this year and working Black Friday. I know, I'm crazy, but it's my favorite day to work.

Saturday I did some cleaning around the house. We've lived here for over a year and we still have boxes in our office, so I worked on getting some of those emptied and out of here. The office is our smallest bedroom, so it's nice to have some more room in here.

Sunday I saw that Old Navy was having sale - 75% off all adult sweaters from 12 to 5. When I worked retail, I always missed out on these great sales because I had to work. So, I decided that since I could do it, I'd be brave and head over there. The crowd actually wasn't too bad and they did have a few sweaters left in my size. I tried on four different ones and ended up buying one. I paid less than $10 for it and used a gift card, so no money out of my pocket! 

This is the sweater I got. It's originally $36. I think it looks great with jeans or khakis for work.

Speaking of work, this week there are only 2 school days so I'm not planning on being called. (Obviously I didn't get called today.) So I asked the store if there was any chance of getting some hours and I get to work tomorrow. I'm excited by this because I could use the money and I really have missed some of my coworkers so it'll be nice to see them again.

Plus, the store is near the grocery store so I can kill 2 birds with 1 stone and do my grocery shopping tomorrow. I just need to pick up a few supplies for the Thanksgiving dishes I'm making. We're doing Thursday with my mom and my brother's family and then Friday after work we're doing it with my in-laws.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving?
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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pinterest Sunday

Time for my weekly Pinterest roundup! Every Sunday, I share with you a few of my favorite finds from the previous week.

Sorry I'm late this week. I was out shopping this afternoon. Christmas shopping is turning out to be extra hard this year.

Source: fossil.com via Jenn on Pinterest

Speaking of Christmas, I wouldn't mind finding this coin purse under the tree this year. Do I need it? No, but look how cute that owl is!

Source: trashydiva.com via Jenn on Pinterest

I also wouldn't mind finding this black dress under the tree. I already have a little black dress, but it's pretty basic and this one is much cuter. Every girls needs a little black dress, right?


And every girls deserves a cute closet, no matter what age. I love how organized this nursery closet is and I'm definitely keeping it in mind for the future.




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Friday, November 18, 2011

Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Chicago

Whenever the husband and I spend the night in Chicago, we book a hotel through Priceline. We like being able to book a 4 star hotel for a night or two at a much cheaper price.

Because we take the train to Chicago, we need to stay some place local to the sites we'll be visiting. And since those sites are usually the museums, we like to stay downtown near the Museum Campus. On Priceline, we always chose the .

On a previous trip to Chicago, we won the Hilton Chicago, which we loved. It was very close to the Museum Campus and the train. We had a nice room with 2 full bathrooms. It was so cool to have 2 bathrooms! So naturally, I was hoping to score the same hotel for our 1st anniversary trip to Chicago in June. (We never could have afforded the Hilton Chicago without Priceline's help.)

However, we didn't get our wish and instead ended up with a room at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. The Hyatt is at the northernmost limit of our Priceline area which was disappointing because it meant we were either going to do a lot of walking or have pay for transportation in Chicago. It's also the largest hotel in Chicago and therefore home to lots of conferences and conventions.

We arrived at the hotel before the check-in time of 3:00 PM, but we were able to check-in and get into our room, which was nice because I did not want to carry my bag around Chicago. We ended up being in a double room on a higher floor. So high in fact, that my ears popped the first time we took the elevator to our room.

Here are some pictures of our room, which I forgot to take until our last day.

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The view from the door. I promise the beds normally look much neater, but this was our last day and maid service hadn't been in the room yet.

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Here are the beds. They were comfortable, but I've come to the conclusion that no hotel has good pillows. Clearly, I need to just travel with my own.

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Here's the other side of the room. Desk, coffee maker, TV. The minibar was in those middle cabinets.

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The lighting made it tricky to get a good picture of the bathroom. It was a nice spacious bathroom with nice toiletries and a hair dryer.

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Here's a better shot of the sink.

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This was our view. Not the greatest, but we actually enjoyed looking into those condos across the way. It was fun to see all the different decorating styles.

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A seating area next to the window.

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The room from the window.

So, would we chose to stay here again? Probably not. It's a bit far from our usual Chicago sites, although we did walk everyday. It is a good location for walking to shopping along Michigan Ave. though.

The room as a whole was nice. However, I did find some small issues that I didn't think I should find in such a nice hotel.

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That's a stained comforter from one of the beds in our rooms. It appears to be coffee. (I really hope that was coffee!) I found it while taking the bed apart to go to sleep. How did a maid miss that while making the bed? And shouldn't the room have fresh bedding since we were checking in that day? So this comforter went through the laundry and it still made its way back to a guest room? Not something I expect to see in a 4 star hotel.

Other issues?
  • The bathmat in the bathroom had a hole in it. Again, not the quality I expect from a nice hotel. A motel, sure. A Hyatt, no.
  • Used coffee grounds in the coffee maker. We don't drink coffee, but I'm nosy and I was checking out the coffee maker. Nice to know that the maids don't clean it.
  • The full-length mirror in the room was dirty. Minor, but it looked as if a child had been playing with it and left hand prints all over the bottom. It only bothered me because it made me wonder what else the maid had skipped cleaning. (I found out when I opened the coffee maker.)
  • The water in Chicago is terrible. We were next to the river and I started to suspect that the water came straight from the river. Definitely bring bottled water if you want to drink any.
  • The channels available on the TV were very male oriented. Several different ESPNs and other sports related channels. No food or home channels.
  • It was a $1 to make any kind of call on the phone. Even a local call or a 1-800#. I have never seen that before!
  • We tried to check-out on the TV, but it didn't work, so we had to go downstairs and wait in line at the counter to check out.
Also fun, there was a conference going on at the hotel on our last day for Rwanda Day. This included a visit from the current president of Rwanda, who is not exactly a popular guy. I found this out when I had to walk through protesters in front of the hotel when we left. Exciting.

Overall, the Hyatt Regency Chicago is an OK hotel to stay at, especially if you are attending a conference there. Just make sure you look over your room first.

As for me, I'd rather be at the Hilton Chicago .
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