Friday, December 30, 2011

A Short Cut

Exactly one week from today is my birthday. It's kind of a big one. (It rhymes with dirty.) I've been dreading this birthday and waiting impatiently for it at the same time. I really have no desire to turn that evil age, but I decided awhile ago that I would grow my hair until that day and then I could finally cut it off and donate it.

I've been growing my hair for 3 years now and it is finally long enough to donate. Since I've had my hair long for so long, I think it will be a little emotional to cut so much off at once, but I think I'll get over it. I've been enjoying actually being able to do things with my long hair and trying new styles and I'll miss that flexibity, but then I remember all the hassle long hair is for me and I'm eager to cut it.

So why do I want to get rid of my long hair?

  • It takes forever to wash and dry. My hair is thick and it soaks up water. My showers have been getting longer and longer over the years and I use more and more water. And drying my hair is ridiculous. I try to let it air dry as much as possible, but now that it's winter it's cold and uncomfortable. 
  • Breakage and split ends - No matter what I do, I can't seem to get rid of the breakage and split ends. I even use shampoo and conditioner especially for long hair. I didn't have these issues with shorter hair.
  • It's a tangled mess. My long hair gets tangled and ratty so easily. If I wear it down for work, by the end of the day it needs combed. I comb my hair before I wash it and I can't get a comb through it when I'm done. I have to use detangling spray just to comb my wet hair.  I never have this issue with short hair.
  • If I don't actively style it, it just looks blah. Sure I can do some cute things with long hair, but I usually don't have time in the mornings to do those things, so I just brush it and go. And while I do have layers and it lays nicely, it gets boring and feel like I look lazy. 
So with my big appointment set for next Saturday, I need to find some inspiration for my new style. Of course, I turned to my favorite, Pinterest.

I'm not sure what the length will be because it will ultimately depend on where I need to cut to make the 8 inch donation. I'm hoping to end up somewhere between my chin and shoulders. That way I can go chin length later if I don't think it's short enough.

Source: google.com via Jenn on Pinterest


Source: hair2009.info via Jenn on Pinterest

Source: celebuzz.com via Jenn on Pinterest


Source: google.com via Jenn on Pinterest



In the end, I'll probably just show these pictures to my stylist and let her do her thing. She always has good ideas about what to do with my hair. In the meantime, I'll keep pinning ideas and getting brave for the big cut. I can't wait to show you what I end up with!

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: The Randomizer

When I was wedding planning, Weddingbee was my favorite wedding blog and message boards. I got a lot of inspiration there and I enjoyed reading it everyday. In fact, I still like to read it even though our wedding has long been over.

So when Weddingbee introduced their Randomizer series, I knew I had to participate. It's a simple idea: a random number generator picks 10 numbers and I found the corresponding pictures to those numbers. Then I share them here with a little explanation of each pictures. And even though I have shared a lot of wedding pictures, the Randomizer managed to pick mostly pictures I haven't shared here before.

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First is a picture from the family pictures we took after the ceremony. This is just my immediate family - dad, mom, and youngest brother. My other brother couldn't make it as he had just started his government job the year before and couldn't get vacation time for that week.

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This one was taken outside the church. It was hot and sticky and you can certainly tell that we were less than comfortable here.

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The end of the ceremony. Our best man had just announced us as Mr. & Mrs. and we went for another kiss.

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One of my favorite pictures. M and his groomsmen taken while the girls and I were taking pictures. I'm guessing M1 in the middle there said something amusing because they're all genuinely smiling and laughing. We have a copy of this picture on our mantle.

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Those gorgeous peonies. I'm so glad I went with all peonies in the bouquets. They are just so pretty and fluffy.

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This was taken after our crossing the street picture. We were headed to the courthouse in the middle of downtown to take more pictures. It was so humid and I had about eleventy billion layers of tulle around my legs, so I hiked them up in an attempt to get cooler. Not exactly lady-like, but at least I was somewhat more comfortable.

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M's sister giving our first reading. That really tall head to the left is my youngest brother and he's sitting down. He's a giant.

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Our priest invited anyone who wanted to come up and recieve a blessing during Communion if they weren't Catholic. This is M's family's old neighbors with our priest. They are missionaries in Africa and just happened to be home during our wedding.

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Our big exit from the church shot from the back. I love that you can see the crowd that waited for us and just how close to the street we were. We got lots of honks while we took pictures outside.

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My beautiful wedding dress on my mother's front porch looking over her front yard. I'm so glad I got ready at the house I grew up in.

That was fun! And I'm glad I got a chance to share some pictures I didn't post before. I love all our wedding pictures, so it was nice to have an excuse to go back and look through them again.

Want to see more pictures from our wedding, including a look at our professional photo album that I didn't post here? Check out the Argyle Love Facebook Page!

All photos by Amanda Fales Photography
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Washington DC Vacation Recap Day 5

After spending the past couple days mostly inside at museums, it was time for a change. On our fifth day of vacation, we headed to the National Zoo to spend the day outdoors.

I love going to zoos, so I was excited about our destination for the day. We took the Metro to the Zoo stop and then it's a short walk a couple of blocks. It's uphill though so it wasn't the easiest walk, but we saw lots of interesting buildings and homes and it was a nice day.

Once we arrived at the zoo, we dove right in. The National Zoo is the only Smithsonian facility we visited that did not provide free paper maps. You could buy one for $2, but we elected to skip that option. They do have signs with maps posted around the zoo, so you don't get lost, but it would have been nice to know where we were all the time.

The National Zoo has a nice variety of animals and we took our time walking around and visiting all of them. As I said, the weather was nice that day and it wasn't crowded at all.

Here are just a few of the animals we saw that day...

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Elephants

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Pandas! I was very excited about the pandas since this is only 1 of 4 zoos in the United States to have pandas. They were very cute and I took lots of pictures. Sadly, most of them didn't turn out well due to the poor lighting and the fact that pandas don't like to pose for pictures. We spent a lot of time watching this guy eat and we even made a second trip back to the pandas after we saw all the other animals.

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Owls! The zoo actually has several different breeds of owls which was exciting because our local zoo only has one barn owl.

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Orangutans - These guys were being very playful and entertaining.

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Lots of lizards and other reptiles and amphibians

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Lions and other big cats

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And of course, Red Pandas! I took tons of pictures of this baby red panda and his parents. But again, poor lighting and movement meant not so great pictures. I spent a long time watching him explore and play. The red pandas are in a temporary exhibit in the Giant Panda's building while the Red Panda home is remodeled.

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Sadly, this is probably the closest I'll ever get to touching a Red Panda.

I mentioned before that we tried to avoid buying food at the museums because it was horribly overpriced. We did get lunch at the zoo because we needed to keep our strength up for all the walking we were doing and there wasn't any place outside of the zoo to eat. (That we knew of anyway.) The food was typical zoo food, but it was what we needed and we got souvenir cups to take home.

After the zoo, we took the Metro to Dupont Circle in DC. Prior to our trip, I had been researching places to eat and I looked into some cupcake shops. One of them was called Hello Cupcake and it sounded good. My friend Tricia had been to DC a couple weeks before our trip and she checked it out. She recommended them, so we decided to visit and pick up some cupcakes to enjoy later.

The shop was really cute and they had a good assortment of flavors. We got 4 different flavors to try. It was really hard not to eat them right then, but I did manage to get them back to the hotel safely.

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Our flavors were...

Peanut Butter Blossom - Chocolate cupcake topped with peanut butter frosting and a chocolate kiss. M picked this one. The cupcake had a great chocolate flavor and was very moist, but the peanut butter frosting was a bit rich for my tastes. I did like them together, but it was a good thing we split this one!

Heart of Darkness - Devil's food cupcake topped with chocolate ganache-based frosting and real chocolate chip sprinkles. OMG, this was good! I LOVE chocolate and this delivered. The frosting was thick and rich. Luckily I had snagged some bottles of milk from the free breakfast and stored them in our fridge. I definitely needed milk to help wash this one down. Only eat this one if you are serious about your chocolate.

Prima Donna - Chocolate cupcake topped with strawberry buttercream frosting. M's pick. This one was all M's. I tried it, but the strawberry buttercream frosting was too sweet for me.

You Tart! - Lemon cupcake topped with lemon cream cheese frosting. My favorite! As much as I liked the Heart of Darkness, this one was tops for me. The fresh lemon taste was refreshing and not overpowering at all. The frosting was delicious. I savored every bite of this one and I crave it all the time. This made me realize just how much I love a good lemon cupcake.

We only have one day left in DC, what will we do next?

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up

I hope everybody had a great Christmas or just a great weekend. It's hard to believe that next weekend it will be a new year already!

I'm writing this so late because I've been gone all day. I had to work at the store at 6 am to help with those pesky holiday returns.

Saturday, we headed up to my sister-in-law's house to do Christmas with M's family. We ended up spending the afternoon playing a game called, Arkham Horror. Have you heard of it? It's a bit weird, but once I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed it. We had a delicious dinner and then opened a few presents. We made it back to town in time for Midnight Mass (which is actually at 11:00.)

On Christmas, M and I exchanged presents in the morning and then headed over to my mom's house. We spent the day with her, my grandma, and my youngest brother's family. We had another delicious meal, opened presents, and then worked on a puzzle for the afternoon. It was a great day.

I took my cookies to both gatherings and they were enjoyed by all. I took the leftovers to work today and they were quickly gobbled up. I think I'm done with cookies for awhile now.

I have some pictures to share, but they're still on my camera, so they'll have to wait. I'll also try to get some pictures of Christmas gifts to share with you all.

Today I did returns all day at the store, which actually went really well. I had lots of great customers and it was easy to be in a good mood for all of them. After work, I picked up my mom and we hit up some after Christmas sales. I scored a bunch of gift bags at Target and some wrapping paper at Meijer. I love to stock up!

How was your Christmas?
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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

He was born in an obscure village,
The child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in still another village,
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty.

Then for three years
He was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book.
He never held an office.
He never had a family or owned a house.
He didn't go to college.
He never visited a big city.
He never traveled two hundred miles
From the place where he was born.
He did none of the things
One usually associates with greatness.
He had no credentials but himself.

He was only thirty-three
When the tide of public opinion turned against him.
His friends ran away.
He was turned over to his enemies.
And went through the mockery of a trial.

He was nailed to a cross
Between two thieves.
While he was dying,
His executioners gambled for his clothing,
The only property he had on Earth.
When he was dead,
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend.

Twenty centuries have come and gone,
And today he is the central figure
Of the human race,
And the leader of mankind's progress.

All the armies that ever marched,
All the navies that ever sailed,
All the parliament that ever sat,
All the kings that ever reigned,
Put together have not affected
The life of man on Earth
As much as that

One Solitary Life.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Card 2011

With this weekend full of Christmas celebrations, I'm working like a madwoman today to finish everything. But, I thought I'd take a minute and share with you our Christmas cards for the year.

I originally wasn't going to do a picture card because we actually don't have any pictures of us together this year. We suck at asking people to take pictures of us on our trips. But, I ended up getting a code for 10 free cards from Shutterfly and a free shipping code, so I had to do it!

We just had my mom take some pictures of us on Thanksgiving in front of a pine tree on her property. This is actually my pine tree. I got it as a sapling back in the fourth grade and it's really grown since then!

Since I only got 10 free cards, this card only went to family. Our friends and coworkers got a cute penguin card I bought after Christmas one year at Target. 

Vintage Ribbon Christmas Card
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We used the inside of the card to document some of our milestones of 2011.

And I added a little fun to the back of the card for anybody that turns it over.

Well, I'm off to finish some baking and I really must get those presents wrapped! I hope everybody has a great weekend and a Merry Christmas!

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Meijer Gallery Wrapped Canvas Print Review

I love photos on canvas and have been wanting one for somewhere in our house for awhile. Sadly, they seem to cost more than I'm willing or able to spend and anytime a Groupon for one pops up, I just can't justify the cost.

But it turns out there's now a more affordable option closer to home. Meijer nows offers Gallery Wrapped Canvas Prints at their photo center. And the best part? They are available next day!

Seriously, you go to Meijer, upload your picture on their easy to use kiosk or from the comfort of your own home, select the size you want, approve your image, and order. The next day, you pick it up! No waiting for it to ship from a state clear across the country.

And they're pretty affordable. They start at $39.99, but Meijer often runs sales and specials, so you could easily get it for less. In fact, right now, there is an mPerks coupon for 50% off one canvas and it's good until January 9.

Because I'm a BzzAgent, I got an 11x14 canvas for free. The hardest part was deciding what photo I wanted to use. Our dining room is sorely lacking in decor, so I decided to print something for that room.

We're trying for a vintage safari theme in there, so I decided to print one of my many giraffe pictures. I went with one I took on our honeymoon at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.

I took my memory stick to Meijer during my weekly grocery shopping trip and used the kiosk to order it. 24 hours later, I had this...


I showed if off to my mom and my husband and they were both impressed. It looks very professional and it's hard to believe that's a picture I took with my point and shoot from our hotel room balcony.


Here you can see how the canvas is wrapped. And it came all ready to hang. One nail in the wall and it was done!


I love it! And I'm keeping Meijer in mind next time I want a canvas for our house or a gift.

As a BzzAgent, I received a free 11x14 canvas, but all opinions are my own.
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Registries

I wanted to talk a little bit today about our registries and just what gifts we got. I know the point of a wedding is not the gifts, but it does become a confusing issue for many, so I thought this might help others when it's time to register for gifts.

We only registered at two stores, Kohl's and Target. I told you previously about my experience with the Target registry. Our Kohl's registry was pretty much the opposite of that and I highly recommend registering there.

Since our wedding was in June, we registered in January, just after Christmas. I recommend waiting until after Christmas because stores put a lot of stuff on clearance in the days after Christmas and you don't want to register for stuff that's going to be clearanced right away.

We also registered for a lot of stuff because we were in the process of buying our house and we didn't have much of our own. I had a few things from my apartment, but they were cheap things that I wanted to upgrade.

We registered at Kohl's first since I knew most of our items would be from there. Let's look at what we registered for.

Dining
  • Potholders/oven mitts
  • Dishcloths
  • Kitchen towels
  • Everyday flatware
  • Special occasion flatware
We got most of these items except the special occasion flatware.  You'll notice I did not register for china. This was for 2 reasons: 1. I inherited a set of Christmas china from my grandma and that's pretty much only occasion we would use china. 2. We really don't have a place to store one set of china, let alone two sets.

Kitchen
  • Knives
  • Pyrex baking dishes
  • Cutting Boards
  • Kitchen gadgets
  • Cake pans
  • Cookie Sheets
We got some of the Pyrex, the cutting boards, most of the gadgets, the cake pans, and cookie sheets. I think we only got one of the knife sets. For some reason, nobody wants to buy newlyweds sharp knives.

Kitchen Electrics
  • Chef's chopper
  • Deep Fryer
  • George Foreman Grill
  • Waffle Maker
  • Electric Griddle
  • KitchenAid Stand Mixer
  • Hot Air Popcorn Popper
We didn't get the Chef's chopper (I got it for Christmas from my mom), the waffle maker, or the the stand mixer (my husband bought me it for Christmas.) We still don't have a waffle maker and frankly, we probably don't really need it.

Bath

  • Towels
  • Washcloths
  • Bath rugs
We got a lot of our towels and bath rugs. These were pretty popular.

Bedding
I registered for bedding for our guest room, but we didn't get any of it. I had also put some sheet sets for our master bedroom, but didn't get those either. I guess nobody wants to buy bedding?

Misc.
  • Dyson vacuum
  • Kitchen rugs
  • Doormats
  • candles
  • decorative items
I didn't expect to get the Dyson, I put it on there for the registry completion discount, but we never found a good enough deal to get it. We got one of the kitchen rugs and some of the candles, but none of the doormats or decorative items.

Here's what we registered for at Target.

Bath
  • Bath rugs
  • Shower hooks
  • Towels 
  • Shower curtain
  • Shower caddy
  • Rain Showerhead
We may have gotten a few of the towels, but nothing else. I actually ended up buying the shower curtain because it went limited availability and I really wanted it for my bathroom. The towels I wanted went clearance after our wedding, so I picked some up then.

Kitchen
  • Kitchen towels
  • Dish cloths
  • Pot holders/Oven Mitts
  • paring knives
  • Cake carrier
  • Tongs
  • Canister set
  • Breadbox
We got towels, dish clothes, pot holders, and the paring knives.

Small Appliances
  • Dyson Vacuum
  • Iron
  • Toaster
  • Crock Pot
  • Hand Vacuum
Again, I didn't expect to get the Dyson, but it was actually cheaper at Target. The toaster I picked out disappeared after I registered, so I ended up putting one on the Kohl's registry and we got it. We did get the Crock Pot.

Misc.
  • TV Trays
  • Bicycles
  • Board Games
  • Lamp
  • Wall Clock
  • Coolers
  • Shredder
  • Fire Safe
  • Ironing board
  • DVD player
We got some of the board games we asked for. My mom bought me the clock for my birthday later.

We actually did get quite a few things off our registries. I was surprised that we got most of our appliances. We also got quite a few gift cards to both Target and Kohl's as well as cash and checks from a few guests.

One thing we got that we didn't register for? A set of pots and pans. It was a really nice and thoughtful gift, but we have a glass top stove, so we can only use certain kinds of pots. So my grandma bought me a set for my birthday back in January. Luckily, we were able to return the pots and get store credit.

And of course, I had to write thank you notes for all these wonderful gifts. I used a picture from the wedding for the front and ordered them through Kodak because they were having a sale. They turned out really nice. I hand wrote a personal note for everybody and got them sent out a few months after the wedding.

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This is the picture I used for our thank you cards. Photo by Amanda Fales Photography.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Washington DC Vacation Recap Day 4

On our fourth day of vacation, we headed back to the Smithsonian. This time, we were checking out the National Museum of American History. (Can you tell we're history nerds?)

Our first stop was the Star Spangled Banner display. It was a really great exhibit full of history of the time and of the flag itself. I'm sure I saw the flag when I visited D.C. as a teen, but I had forgotten how massive it is. We spent quite a bit of time just standing there looking at it. It's pretty amazing to think how many people have seen it and just what all it inspired. Pictures are not allowed in this exhibit, so I borrowed this picture from the Smithsonian to show you how the flag is displayed now.

Source
We visited most of the exhibits in the museum, but there a few that I was excited about seeing prior to our visit.

First was Julia Child's kitchen. I used to love watching her cooking shows on PBS on Saturdays as a teen. She was very entertaining and her food always looked so good.

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Have you seen Julie & Julia? It's a good movie and Julie even visits Julia's kitchen at the end of the movie.

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The other exhibit I was excited to see was the First Ladies. I love the First Ladies and all the history that goes with them. So of course, I loved the rooms filled with their clothes and personal items.

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 This dress was worn by Helen Taft to the inaugural ball. The beading was amazing.

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This was Mamie Eisenhower's inaugural gown. It's one of my favorite dresses.

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The dress on the left is Hilary Clinton's and the dress on the right is Laura Bush's.

After looking at the pretty dresses, we had to go see some pretty shoes!

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The ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz! I think they've faded quite a bit with age, but they're still sparkly!

Really funny story: I happened to check my phone after we had seen the ruby slippers and noticed that my wedding photographer had posted a picture of them that day. I left a comment and we figured out that we had been in the same building at the same time, but never saw each other! We kept an eye out for them, but never did see them. What are the chances of that happening?

After the museum, we decided to take a walk and go see the monuments. Most of them are in a pretty straight line right there at the Mall, so we started walking.

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The Washington Monument was actually first, but I showed you that the other day and we still couldn't go in it. The next monument was the World War II Monument. This is 3/4 of it. Behind me were more of those pillars you see across the way. Each one represents a state.

We then saw the Vietnam Memorial. We walked along it and looked, but luckily for us, we don't know any of the names on the wall. We are very fortunate that both our fathers came back from the war.

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Here's the Lincoln Memorial. I don't think I went into this one last time. The stairs are a bit scary as there's no handrail and that always makes me nervous since I'm clumsy.

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But I made it and it was worth it. I was really amazed at how big Abe was. You really can't tell just how big he is in pictures.

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There's the Washington Monument. As you can see, the Reflecting Pool was totally gone. They are redoing it, so it was just a bunch of dirt and equipment. Not the prettiest picture, but oh well.

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On our way back to the Metro, we spied the Jefferson Memorial. It was actually a bit farther out, so we decided not to walk to it. This was about the closest we go to it the whole trip.

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