Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cabinets are tricky

We spent this past weekend with my parents in Tucson. We left after work on Friday, dropped off the dogs, and then got dropped off by my mommy (like a kid at school) at the bar to meet up with some of my business frat bros. We - make that I - had decided it would be better to get dropped off and then cab it home because Homecoming weekend in Tucson is a nightmare parking-wise. Not to mention, we could have our fun and not worry about our dreams and jobs being stolen away from us by a DUI. As it turns out, we each had one drink and then were treated to a hella expensive cab ride home. Ah well.

I don't know if you noticed in the pictures from my parents' anniversary party, but the kitchen used to look like a Mexican fiesta threw up all over it. The original oven was this turquoise color and my mom and cousin matched the color and then added pink, orange, and yellow for walls and trim. On Labor Day of this year, my parentals got to work remodeling. They took out the cabinets, bought stainless steel appliances, and created a half wall that will serve as a breakfast bar. Pretty cool stuff. So on Saturday, my dad and Dan had the wonderful task of installing the new cabinets (excellent Craig's List find!). Things went well for a while... then not so well. I think they made 5 trips to Home Depot and it took about 14 hours to hang 6 cabinets. Cabinets are tricky. My mom and I - and a friend from across the street - found it all very amusing. In the end, the kitchen got put together and is now just awaiting its brand new granite counter tops. I can't wait to see how it comes together! The best part is, the walls are now elephant grey, a huge improvement over the vertigo-inducing colors of yesteryear.

Here's a crappy cell phone pic of the kitchen pre-granite. My parents actually ended up moving the appliances (after we placed them in their spot Sunday morning) and cabinets (I know, after all that work!) to the wall opposite the sink, but you get the idea.

Now I'm in my last 4 hours before our vacation begins and I almost can't handle the anticipation. I can't believe I'm going to be off work for SIX WHOLE DAYS!! Oh, and meet Salt. Yep, I get to meet Salt. Wicked awesome, right? And something about my brother-in-law and his fiancee. I think they might live there, too :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Bit Swisher

Through complete random awesomeness today, The Twitter gave me a gift: a reminder of something absolutely and incredibly hilarious. Because laughter is meant to be shared, I present to you the story of The Bit Swisher.

Back when I was in college, I was in a business fraternity. Yes, I, a girl was in a business fraternity. Co-ed of course. I met some of my most awesome friends through my involvement. I also met some serious characters, one of whom was named C. He was all sorts of special, but very sweet. And smart, funny, and giving. We met and clicked mentally, but I was never very physically attracted to him. As sweet as he was, I honestly wanted to be. He'd have been a great boyfriend. But he came on faaaar too strong. Like, he bought me an iPod and had engraved on it, "The sweetest song I ever heard was your voice." Yeah, cheese. He made the mistake of introducing me to a friend and the friend and I started dating. C was understandably upset and we didn't talk for a while.

When my last relationship before Dan was unraveling, C and I reconnected after commenting on a friend's wall for his birthday. Ah, how social networking makes the world turn. It was totally friendly "hey how've you been?" stuff. However, after my relationship ended, we started talking more and more about our lives and other things. We started to feel mentally and emotionally connected again. He was a genuinely good guy. We decided he was going to come visit for a weekend and see if we clicked as well in person as we did on the phone and via email. I told him I was fine with him visiting and spending the weekend together, but I wasn't okay with him staying with me, and he said okay. He made plans to stay at his uncle's vacation home and we set a weekend agenda.

The night he flew in, we went for dinner and hung out and talked. It was really nice to see him again, but I just didn't get a physical spark with him. I decided pretty early on that even though we would have a fun weekend, we wouldn't carry on more than a friendship after Sunday. I dropped him off at his uncle's and said good night and drove home. He seemed bummed but I wasn't about to lead him on when I felt so lukewarm. I was, however, open to the possibility that the rest of the weekend would blow me away - it just remained to be seen.

The next day, we planned to go to Sedona for the day and do a Pink Jeep tour. On my way to his uncle's house, I texted him for his Starbucks order and stopped to get coffee. He answered back, "I'm going to go for a swim. I'll leave the door open." Sure, okay, whatever. So I get to the house and walk in with camera bag in one hand, lattes and muffins in the other and walk out onto the patio. I stopped dead in my tracks.

He was butt-ass naked, people. Completely naked. Swimming around. Naked. When he was expecting me to be coming in any minute. And then he got out like it was nothing and started to walk toward me (sans towel) for a hug before he realized how much I was freaked out. I just thought it was so weird. I mean really!? A girl is coming with coffee and you're going to greet her with your naked jollies hanging out? Who.does.that?! As it turned out, he didn't even bring any swim trunks, so it wasn't like it was a mistake. I asked him what he would have done if I'd wanted to go swimming at some point during the weekend and he seemed to think that him being naked was a perfectly acceptable situation. Naked. Ugh.

Needless to say, any glimmer of hope for anything amorous between us was completely gone as far as I was concerned. I seriously considered cancelling the day's plans, I was so weirded out. But I sacked up and we went to Sedona. Can you say awwwkward? Eventually the weekend was over and he went back home. I felt relief, unfortunately, which made me feel really bad. When I told me awesome friend Rachel about it, she just about died laughing. In describing the situation, I told her that he was just all nonchalantly swimming around with his man bits swishing in the pool. Always one for nicknames (Rachel and I call each other Nerd), she dubbed him The Bit Swisher.

Not surprisingly, we had a major falling out not long after. It's a little hard to be friends with someone when they try to hug you with their junk out. Not to mention, I met Dan and well, we got married and stuff. But today, the #FF (for you Tweetheads) of a mutual followee brought him up on my Blackberry screen. Life is just plain random sometimes.

Moral of the story, boys out there: wear swimming attire.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I must forgive myself

30 Days of Truth 03: Something you have to forgive yourself for

It's hard for me to admit fault or wrong-doing. I don't think I'm alone in that. It's never easy to say, "I screwed up," or "I hurt you." But the truth is, I've caused some deep hurt, and it's something I regret every day.

Growing up, my sister and I didn't get along very well. That's probably a huge understatement. For probably the first 15 years of my sister's life, we didn't have much of a bond. I was probably a very jealous little girl when Megan was born. I liked being the only child and having all of my parents' attention. But that doesn't forgive me the sins I committed in regard to my sister. I was rude, mean, and pushed her away for years. I wasn't the big sister she deserved to have - someone to play with her, protect her, and tell her how wonderful she was. I don't want to get into all of it, because I know it's painful for both of us. No matter what went down, I can't take back things that were said, or things that were done.

We've talked about it, hashed over the past, cried angry new tears. There are times when our tension turns even simple arguments into heated emotional tirades. Sometimes the past comes up when our discussions blow out of proportion, but most times it doesn't. She says she forgives me for it, but I don't think I've forgiven myself. I still have guilt and shame for how I treated my sister for all those years. I worry that things from way back when she was six still affect her at nearly-twenty-six. I fear she questions how things would have been different if we'd been different.

I'm thankful that my sister is a forgiving person. I'm thankful that we have been able to form a bond that should have started 26 years ago. I'm thankful that life experiences have become our great denominator and that we continually have new grounds on which to understand each other and to base our friendship. I just hope that someday I can be as forgiving of myself as she has been, and that the guilt can fade away and allow us to be closer.

I love you, Megan, and I'm proud to be your sister.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In a good place

30 Days of Truth, Day 02: Something you love about yourself

What I love about myself lately is that everything in my life is in a good place. Dan and I have a year of marriage under our belts. We are happy and in love, and have exciting things in our future. We're working on getting a pre-approval on our first home. We just bought our second vehicle together, and we are refinancing our first for a significant savings - and working together like pro's I might add!

My job, though not glamorous and often tedious and monotonous, is stable and my income is good. My boss appreciates my work and worked to get me a small raise recently. I feel like I really know what I'm doing and I'm confident in my skill set. I like (most of) my coworkers, and have a good little group of friends here at the office.

There really isn't anything in my life right now that isn't positive. I'm truly happy with how things are and excited about where things are going and for what's next in my life. It's honestly very nice to be me right now, and that's what I love about myself lately.

Giveaway #3 Winner

The random winner of the third and final giveaway - the $30 gift card to Sissy's Pretties - of Anniversary Week is.... #13...

Mrs. ESPN! Congratulations! Please email me at kingstonsqueen@gmail.com and I will get you set up with Sissy's Pretties.

Thank you again to everyone for reading, entering the giveaways, and celebrating Anniversary Week with me! Thank you also to the awesome Etsy sellers, Michaelangela, Designs by Tami and Sissy's Pretties for sponsoring and supporting the giveaways!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Costly Truth

If you've been surfing around the blog world, you've seen the "30 Days of Truth" that's going around. I think it could be a very introspective and fun project, so here goes

Day 01: Something You Hate About Yourself

I hate that when I was younger, I was financially irresponsible. Like very irresponsible. I was one of the kids who went to college, was mailed my very first credit card, and things went down hill from there for the next 5 years. I racked up quite a bit of debt in a short period of time. It's not that my parents didn't warn me about credit cards, but I don't think they didn't realized what I was doing or the extent of it. When I had to come clean, I was bailed out, then did it again. It was embarrassing and stressful when creditors started calling.

Right before the end, I owed $1,200 in 10 days on two cards. I didn't know what to do. I turned to one of those credit counselors you see on TV. In hindsight, big mistake. But it I got on track. I settled my debts with the credit card companies, and faithfully made my monthly payment to the consolidator. I even paid it off a year and a half early.

Unfortunately, my past continues to follow me. The delinquent accounts are still on my credit report, still affecting my scores, and may inhibit me from buying the house we want. Even though I've been nothing but responsible for the last five years - I have to be, I have nothing but my paycheck to live off of - I am still paying for my mistakes as a 20-year-old. I've worked hard to build a safety net so that I don't have to fear something going wrong. Five years after my consolidation and with not a single new derogatory item on my report, I still can't get a major credit card company to have faith in me. It's a vicious cycle: I can't raise my score because I don't have the confidence of a major creditor, but I can't obtain credit without a higher score.

It affects how I see myself and how others see me. Not just potential creditors, but I feel like I get the side-eye when I buy something I've saved hard for and have budgeted for. I feel like I'm always under the microscope, and my purchases and expenditures are being tallied. In reality, I have a healthy amount of savings, an account I contribute 10% of my income to every month (not to mention my 401K contribution), and my husband and I live comfortably. We're clothed, fed, healthy, and happy.

I just wish I could tell my younger self to slow down, that the mistakes made will continue to have an impact for at least the next 10 years. I think it would be awesome to someday help young people obtain and keep healthy credit and not make my mistakes. I wish I could wash away this skeleton in my closet.

Giveaway #2 Winner

The winner of the gift certificate from Designs by Tami is....
Entry number 6...

Jenni! Congratulations, Jenni! Please email me at kingstonsqueen@gmail.com and I'll get you set up with Tami.

Thanks all for entering and for reading. If you haven't yet, you can still enter Giveaway #3 here

Monday, October 18, 2010

Giveaway #1 Winner and the Anniversary Weekend

Thank you all for participating in the Michaelangela gift certificate giveaway - there were only entrants, so everyone had great chances. The lucky random winner of the Michaelangela is...

JMJE of Making Stuff is Fun! Congratulations, JMJE! Please email me at kingstonsqueen@gmail.com and I'll get you set up with Michaelangela. Tomorrow, I'll announce the winner of the Designs by Tami giveaway so get entered if you haven't already.

Our anniversary and Dan's birthday weekend was awesome. We celebrated his birthday with dinner Friday night. We went to Macayo's Mexican Grill where we had our rehearsal dinner exactly a year ago. We stayed up late and watched movies and hung out. Saturday was busy, busy, busy! I got up early and cleaned and organized and wrapped up cookies. Dan got up and packed up the car and took our stuff and the dogs to his parents' house. I went to my friend, Mrs. ESPN's daughter's soccer game. She played so well and it was fun to watch. I'm surprised I didn't lose my voice screaming and cheering for her. After the game, I picked up the anniversary cake and head to my in-law's house, where we ran last minute errands and picked up the rest of the food and drinks.

My parents and some of our friends came to my in-law's house to celebrate with us and it was such a fun night. It's always nice to see everyone, and yummy food and beverages always make for a good time. Somehow we managed to not take any pictures, though. Hrmph. But I gave Dan a gift card to get a helmet so he can ride the mountain bike he bought, along with the tiniest bike shorts you've ever seen. His reaction was awesome. And! We got... get this, I'm so excited about this... we got a CRICUT CAKE! As a gift from my parents! I'm so excited to use it to cut fondant and play with designs and stuff. It's going to be rad.

Yesterday, we hung out at my in-law's until the early afternoon, then packed all our stuff and the dogs back up and went home to go car shopping. Because, you know, Dan's old car got totaled in a hail storm so he needed something else. He got himself a really good deal on a Lexus IS300. The Altima gets hauled away today. It's been good to both of us, and I'm a little sad to see it go, but I think with the high mileage on it and some front-end work that it needed, the storm may have been a blessing in disguise.

So, yep, the banniverthday weekend is over, and it's back to the grind. Only 9 days to go until our Baltimore trip!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wedding recap: Details and DIY

As I said, I had a lot of fun playing with the details of our wedding, and I love how everything came together. Here are some of the fun details of our wedding:

My purple shoes from Chinese Laundry and garter from Etsy seller Creative Bridal Solutions. The seller custom ordered the motorycle charm for me and added it to the garter.

Our champagne glasses from One Haute Hostess. She also made the candy scoops that went on our centerpieces. You can't actually see the scoop in this picture, but they were on the table to get the jordan almonds out of the over sized wine glass.

We collected and saved wine bottles from the time we got engaged. We made sure the labels were distinct and could be read from a distance. The table names were the name on the label. Our head table was Wild Horse, the Pinot Noir the night we got engaged.

I made the giant monogram letters from paper mache-ish letters I bought from Joann Fabrics. The topper on the cake was my parents'. We also used their cake knife.

Our birdcage cardholder that I customized by adding ribbon and a DIY sign. Easy peasy. Bonus: it now doubles as decoration in our home.

I also made our favors. The adults got rock candy in our colors with "You Rock! Thanks for celebrating with us" tags. I made cookies for the kids - wedding cakes and big green hearts. Kids also got a little scavenger hunt that I titled "I Spy With My Little Wedding Eye."

Lastly, my jewelry and handbag. I ordered the earrings and hair combs from White Aisle and my bracelet was my grandmother's. The blue handbag was made by my grandmother for a family friend for her wedding in 1968. The friend sent the handbag to me as a shower gift.

Unique weddings are all about personal touches. They don't have to be expensive or flashy. They just have to be meaningful.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wedding recap: the reception

After we were announced husband and wife, we walked back down the aisle and did a sort of receiving line. We had intended to just visit tables at the reception (which was also did), but I'm glad the impromptu receiving line happened because it was nice to say hello to everyone in the immediate after-glow of the ceremony. Then we signed our marriage license.

We took pictures with the bridal party and our families while the guests enjoyed a cocktail hour and simple appetizers.

Some of my favorite pictures from the whole wedding during the cocktail hour.

Once pictures were done, it was finally time to go into the reception. On the left side of this picture, you can see our amazing wedding coordinator, Erin. I honestly don't know how the day would have gone without her. The thought in my head in this moment was, "oh my gosh, it's my wedding!"

We decided to go straight into our first dance to get it out of the way. We danced to an acoustic recording of Stellar by Incubus. We discovered that first dances are awkward. It's really weird to have everyone watch you. We were pretty much over the whole thing in about a minute. We even looked at the DJ at one point to wrap it up. Despite having gotten engaged while dancing, we are not good dancers and don't like the spotlight, and I honestly think the first dance was the most uncomfortable part of the day for me.

After our first dance, we invited everyone to join in on the buffet. Instead of a traditional head table or a sweetheart table, we elected to sit with our siblings and their significant others. So we were at the table with Megan and Daniel and David and Alex. The rest of the bridal party sat amongst the other guests. This way, we didn't have a huge head table, didn't split up couples (ick), and weren't on show at a sweetheart table. Win-win-win.

After we visited the tables and said hello to everyone again, my dad and I did our father-daughter dance. We danced to Elvis Presley's Love Me Tender. When I was little, my dad bought me a music box with a daddy and baby panda that played that song, and I always think of my dad when I hear it. I cried some while we were dancing, and thanked him for the wonderful father he's been and for giving me a beautiful wedding. My mom said she looked around the room and many people were crying.

Dan and his mom danced to It's a Wonderful World.

After dancing and mingling with our guests for what felt like 10 minutes (but was actually an hour and a half), it was time to cut the cake. Dan knew I'd ordered a groom's cake, but didn't know anything about it. His family loves to play Yahtzee. Like, all the time. And he usually wins, because he's awesome. So the cake was a Yahtzee box with 5 dice each showing a 5 (5x5=someone's 25th birthday!).

Our cake was 3 tiers of amazingness. We cut into the cookies and cream tier, but we also had a lemon tier and a chocolate mocha tier. We were nice and didn't shove cake in each other's faces.

Of course there were toasts and our moms presented us with a homemade photo display of pictures of each of us through the years. We had an amazing time and enjoyed hanging out with our guests and having some drinks. When it was all over, we went upstairs for our first moments alone together all day. I gave him his birthday gift and we had a couple of chocolate strawberries the hotel had brought up. We changed into comfy clothes and went to our favorite place, Dave & Buster's to party our little booties off.

All in all, our day was perfect. I wouldn't have changed a single thing about any of it. I truly married the man of my dreams, and I can't believe it's almost been a year. Cheers to many many more happy anniversaries!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wedding recap: the ceremony

Our wedding ceremony was at 11:30am on Friday, October 16, 2009. I know, I'm a bad bride and made everyone take time off. But it's what worked out best for us on the day we wanted. Amazingly, I didn't have to get up all that early. I had hair and makeup done in my hotel room with my mom. My bridesmaids and mother-in-law went to a salon nearby for hair and then came back to the hotel for makeup. We were ready to go by 11:15, and just about everything went perfectly.

I was so excited to walk down the aisle. I remember standing with my dad in the hotel lobby, waiting to see Dan and feeling butterflies throwing up in my stomach. As each person ahead of me walked out the door to the aisle, the anticipation grew and grew.

Finally, it was my turn to exit the doors and I walked out onto the patio to the sound of Apocalyptica's cover of Metallica's Nothing Else Matters. In that moment the nerves were gone and the world fell away. I remember being aware of walking with my dad, but I don't remember seeing anyone but Dan, and it felt like I flew down the aisle.

The first thing I said to Dan was a whispered "happy birthday." My friend Andrew, who officiated, did an awesome job throughout. Dan was hot (as was everyone - who knew it would be almost 100 degrees that day) and giddy, and being in front of everyone was nerve-wracking.

We had written our own ceremony (or really, I wrote our ceremony) from bits and pieces of others I had found in my internet searching. I loved how heartfelt and personal I was able to make it. Exchanging my vows and rings with Dan is something I'll never forget, now matter how nervous I was.

Long-time friends read a beautiful poem by Pablo Neruda.

Dan and I did a wine and love letters ceremony. We put a bottle of wine and letters written to each other in a box made by my grandmother. The idea is that if we're ever in hard times and struggling in our marriage, we'll open the box, read the letters and drink the wine to remember why we vowed to love each other forever. The hope, however is that we wouldn't struggle and that we would open the box and enjoy its contents in celebration of our 10th anniversary.

The funny thing about that picture is that we don't remember the photographer being there. We were both surprised to see that Kyle got that shot. It literally felt like we were the only ones there in that moment. Finally, we were pronounced husband and wife and I got to kiss Dan for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. Kingston.

And that is the story of how me+he=we.