Articles & Opinions, Updates

6 Things Nobody Tells You About Getting Married

Aerin & Andrew - Molly Anne Photography

Our first wedding anniversary came and went without a lot of fanfare. (It might have been more of an event, but I was super pregnant at the time.) We had a delicious dinner at J. Gilberts, shared a (non-alcoholic!) toast and reflected on the year that had passed. After some discussion, we agreed that getting married was nothing like we’d imagined.

“Things will never be the same!”

“You’ll never have time to yourself again!”

“You’ll act totally differently!”

“You’ll fight more since you won’t have to be on your best behavior anymore!”

That was the advice we’d get from people with even the best of intentions. It’s all really weird advice to give an engaged couple, when you think about it. And as it turns out – none of it has been true for us. Things are almost exactly the same as they were before our nuptials, except now I have a new last name, and we get to call each other husband and wife. Here are 8 things people didn’t tell us about getting married that are totally true:

1. You probably won’t feel any different
Literally exactly the same the next day. Granted we already owned a house together, but we woke up in our bedroom of our house and did the same things we always do on a Sunday, except we had WAY too much leftover food in the fridge. I may or may not have had cake for breakfast – I guess that was different?

2. Who you pick to participate in the planning and the big day really, really matters
Your wedding party, your cake decorator, even the officiant – they all matter a lot when it comes to making sure your day goes off without a hitch. I’d like to think I was more like a bride-chill-a even when things went wrong (see below), but you have a better chance of that highly sought after perfect day if you choose wisely and do your vendor research.

3. Pick an officiant you know and trust
We had a lovely small wedding at a local inn, and our officiant came with the ‘wedding package’ we purchased. Despite having written the ceremony and having delivered the speech to her nearly three weeks in advance – even after being corrected once – our JP got my husbands first name wrong three times during the ceremony. We all laugh about it now, and it doesn’t make our ceremony any less important or our marriage any less official, but oh man do I wish we had been able to choose the person who was going to marry us.

4. A lot of it is a total scam… that you have to take part in 
Take anything you might buy and tack on the word “wedding” and it very well may double in price. There are some things you may not be able to avoid this with – say a wedding dress for example – but here’s a tip: whenever possible, don’t tell them it’s a wedding. We had a reception for my family up in Maine, and we told the place we rented we were having a family reunion. Technically that wasn’t a lie, and I’m sure it saved us a bundle on the price.

5. It’s as complicated and as expensive as you make it
A lot of people do DIY when it comes to weddings – favors, decorations, even bridesmaid dresses. I chose to take the less hands-on approach, and I don’t regret it for a second. Neither did my stress level (or lack-there-of) that day. I didn’t do favors, I didn’t make decorations (thank you Oriental Trading!), and I told my maid of honor to find a dress in one of two colors that she felt comfortable in and buy it. And you know what? Nobody remembers that there weren’t any favors or a lot of decorations. What they do remember is the insane amount of delicious food, and the goat. As they should.

6. If you do it right, you’ll wish you could do it all over again tomorrow
We had an amazing wedding day that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. Our guests probably will, too. I was nearly stress-free, I felt like a princess, and I married a kind, handsome fellow. Every day since then, I can safely say all the pre-wedding advice we got has been misguided. Getting married – and the rest of your life – is exactly what you make of it.

6 Things Nobody Tells You About Getting Married - Andrew & Aerin

Updates

Savannah, Fare You Well – Honeymoon Recap

It’s been over a year since I posted. There isn’t a good excuse for it, but we HAVE been busy! We got married in May, partied until June, I started a new job in May, we went on adventures all summer, and finally went on our honeymoon. Phew!

When we were deciding on our honeymoon, we knew we wanted to stay within the states, and to have a short flight, but we weren’t settled on much else. I had this romantic notion of southern hospitality and old architecture, so we ended up traveling to Savannah, Georgia for a week in October. You’ll note two things about the recap below – it’s a bit scatterbrained (yay!) , and we had a who-had-the-best-food contest going on.  (We tied)

Forsyth Park, Savannah, GA

Saturday

We flew out about 5PM and had a layover in Charlotte. We arrived in Savannah after 9PM, at which point we met our awesome cab driver whose name we did not catch. It was an educational 15 minute ride to our hotel, during which we learned the following:
– The world spins on an axle powered by oil
– The Everglades are melting
– If we take too much water from the ocean, an electric shock will send giant tidal waves from all the oceans, and that ain’t good.

Sunday

We took a walk down to the river front, which was one block over and down a flight of historic, beautiful, treacherous stone stairs. We walked along visiting multiple gift shops and boutiques. We had lunch at Spanky’s, home of the Original Chicken Finger. We, of course, had the chicken fingers. I’m not sure how original they are, but they were delicious. (We both won)

We then began wandering around the various squares and blocks on the other side of the Andaz, checking out all the awesome shops and gorgeous southern homes and architecture. We stopped for homemade ice cream at Lombardo’s (Honey Almond Cream was best), and continued walking until dinner.

We stopped to eat at The Old Pink House. We ordered an amazing shrimp and grits appetizer, Andy had a fried pork chop, and I had sweet potato and caramelized onion ravioli with pecan cream sauce and sweet potatoes with pecan vanilla butter. (I won)

Monday

We went out exploring more squares and blocks. Savannah is laid out in a grid with 13 beautiful squares featuring statues, water fixtures, greenery and gorgeous live oaks with Spanish moss (which, as we found out, is neither Spanish nor a moss.) We stopped at an english meat pie place for lunch. Andrew had a Cornish Pasty and a sausage roll and, and I had a cranberry almond scone (thanks, morning sickness!). (Andrew won)

After lunch, we hopped on an open-air trolley that took us on a 90 minute the historic district. We then went back to the riverfront to buy more pralines (they’re AMAZING fresh and warm) and to make a stop at Savannah Bee Co. so Andrew could sample free honeycomb and buy some honey-related goodies.

Just about then I was beginning to feel not-so-hot, so we headed back to the hotel and watched Leprechaun In The Hood (F+), Are You Afraid Of The Dark (C), and Goosebumps (C+). When I was finally feeling better, we made a reservation at Paula Deen’s Lady and Sons. They served cheddar biscuits and ho cakes as an appetizer, I had crab cakes, and Andy had shrimp and grits. We split a dessert sampler of banana pudding, butter cake, and peach cobbler. The butter cake. OH MY GOD the butter cake. (Butter cake won)

Tuesday

We took a walk to Civvies consignment shop, a place we’d passed twice in the previous days and had yet to stop in. They had a huge selection of PanAm stuff, vintage clothes and accessories. Andrew bought an old American Tourist suitcase for us to check and carry our extra goodies home in.

We ate lunch at The District Cafe. Andy had a chicken, avocado, bacon, and pimento cheese melt and red pepper and tomato bisque, Aerin had a a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant. (Andy won)

We continued walking through a number of parks and a cemetery to the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, which was absolutely breathtaking. Since it was in the 80s the whole week, we were hot and thirsty, we headed across the street from the Cathedral to the Mirabelle Cafe. I had sweet tea, and Andrew ordered a liege waffle with lemon curd and raspberry sauce (titled “The Southern Belle”). (Andrew won) The Mirabelle was also attached to an adorable inn – kind of wish we’d stayed there. Next time!

After resting up at the hotel, we made a reservation at Garibaldi for dinner. We started with Fried Green Tomato Parmigan appetizer, Andy had grouper stuffed with blue crab over parmesan risotto, and I had diamond scored crusted flounder with apricot shallot glaze. For dessert, I had cinnamon ice cream with fresh berries in a caramelized almond basket, and Andy had pecan Kentucky pie with vanilla ice cream and delicious coffee. (Aerin won)

After dinner, in the twilight, we found a bench in City Market and listened to Chuck Courtenay (who was playing country music and running lights off his truck), and enjoyed the warm evening breeze.

Wednesday

We took a (fairly long) walk toward Forsyth Park, and ate lunch at Maxwell’s on the way. I had a grilled chicken salad sandwich with broccolini. Andy had a cuban sandwich with roast potato wedges. (Andy won)

We also stopped off at the Art’s Cafe on SCAD campus, which had a double decker bus inside that you could sit and eat in.

When we finally arrived at Forsyth Park, we walked around for a while. Similar to the historic district squares I mentioned earlier, but much, much larger.

Since it was our last night in town and we were having trouble making a decision as to where to eat, we noticed in our search that the farm to table restaurant in the hotel, 22 Square, had amazing ratings. In fact, it was so booked that we had to eat at 4:30 like a couple of old folks. We started with chorizo stuffed calamari, Andy had Bison Ribeye with Pimento Cheese Gratin. I had Flounder with Roasted Cauliflower, Bacon Brussels Sprouts, and Leek Fondue. (Aerin won)

We finished the night with some gift shopping and bought a bunch of candy at River Street Sweets.

We highly recommend a visit to Savannah. You can check out the photos I took here.We plan to go back once the tiny human is old enough to come with us. On to our next adventure!

Lists, Music

The 12 Best Songs For A Mini Dance Party

Do you know what it’s like to uncontrollably tap your foot to that pop hit on the radio? Can you visualize the sweet dance routine you’d totally come up with and show of at gatherings if only you had a partner? Then you’ve come to the right place! Here, my friends, is a list of past and present songs – killer dance tunes, if you will – during which I cannot control my feet.

Ode To The Bouncer // Studio Killers

This Head That I Hold // Electric Guest

Let Me Clear My Throat (Live) // DJ Kool

Rather Be // Clean Bandit Ft Jess Glynne

Jealous (I Ain’t With It) // Chromeo

I Look To You // Miami Horror Ft. Kimbra

The Hood Internet // Genesis VS Justice

Don’t Stop // Junior Senior

Hush Boy // Basement Jaxx

Hands Are Clever // Alex Clare

Last Time // Gnarls Barkley

Articles & Opinions, Weight Watchers

My Best Dieting Advice? Don’t.

I participate in a wonderful and supportive online community of ladies (and gentlemen) that tend toward geek culture. Recently, a forum user asked for dieting advice as she was about to embark on a new, healthier regiment.

So, what’s my best dieting advice?

1) Don’t diet. Diets are not sustainable, are often very lofty (cut out all white foods? good! I’ll just add more brown sugar. TO EVERYTHING), and more often than not, you’ll end up back where you started. To be successful, it has to be a lifestyle change. As crazy as it sounds, it really is as simple as ‘Eat less, move more’.
2) Small goals work best. If your goal is “I want to lose 80 lbs” you’ll feel like it’s impossible and to achieve and you’ll have a hard time getting there. Planning for between .5 and 2lbs per week to lose, knowing that 1lb is a healthy average. (Note – if you see a diet that suggests you can lose more than this in a week, say FAR away. And see #1.) Other small goals can include double my water intake or take 40,000 steps this week. Keep it achievable and dependent on your fitness level and nutrition needs.
3) Measure everything. When you’re starting out, measure it all. Even down to the creamer in your coffee. You truthfully won’t get the hang of ‘eyeballing’ things until you’ve made a conscious effort to measure. And even then, if you have the time, measure anyway. More often than not, you’ll be surprised to see what a serving actually looks like compared to what you’ve been serving yourself.
4) Find support. It can be your BF, it can be your parents, a friend, or even me! Someone you can talk to when you’re struggling who can get you back on track. Ideally, someone who’s struggled with their weight or had similar struggles so they can offer sage advice, or at least understand where you’re coming from.
5) Cook for yourself. It’s the easiest way to control what and how much you eat of something. Check out this post about my favorite recipes.
5.5) If your recipe makes multiple servings, pack the additional servings up immediately after cooking and put them away (before you sit down to eat). Out of sight, out of mind. I invested in a bunch of Pyrex containers and LOVE them.
6) Prepare prepare prepare. Make shopping lists and stick to them. Keep your fridge stocked with good choice snacks and meals and watch out for foods you know you have trouble controlling yourself with. If you know you’re going out to eat, look at the menu ahead of time so you can make a good decision.
7) All that being said, eat what you want. The minute you deprive yourself of food you love, you’re on a diet. (See #1) Focus on portion control. Love pizza? Have it a couple times a month and order a small. Load it with veggies. Candy? Buy dark chocolate squares or the mini candy bars and make sure you account for each one you eat.
8) Exercise ≠ Gym. Find a way to move more that you don’t despise and you’ll do it more. Walks, Zumba, Dancing, Wii Fit, Cleaning – whatever floats your boat!
9) Find an anchor. Could be a person, could be a trinket, could be your “fat pants.” Pick something that brings you back to the core reason you’ve decided to make this lifestyle change and keep it where you can access it. When you’re struggling, remember why you started, look at how far you’ve come.
10) Restart. We all have bad days. Bad weeks. Bad months, even. Give yourself a break, give in to the occasional indulgence – but don’t forget to restart tomorrow. Better yet, restart at your next meal, or even right now.

Optional:
I can’t recommend Weight Watchers enough. It’s the only thing that has worked for me, and I spent 28 years of my life yo-yo dieting or just not giving a flying you-know-what. I’ve maintained a 50lb loss for more than a year now thanks to WW and my amazing leader, Betsy. Leave me a comment if you want to know more.

Updates

On Blogging & Procrastination

Blogging is something I strive to be better at, and what better way to get better than to actually blog about something, amirite?!

I can’t say what makes bloggers procrastinate instead of posting more blogs. It’s not that there’s nothing to write about – there are a thousand things at any given time one could post about. The problem for me, as I’m sure a lot of other bloggers can attest, is that I over-curate my content. I come up with a great idea for a post in the shower. I get out of the shower and write it down. I re-write the idea another way. Then another. Then I think of a reason it might not work. Then multiple reasons why it won’t work. Then I don’t post. Rinse, repeat.

Additionally, having  a day job where you spend 95% of your day in front of a computer screen tends to make it difficult to want to spend more time in front of one in your off-hours, even if it is for a leisure activity.

So what do you do to give yourself a push when you need it? For anything – not just blogging. Where do you find creative inspiration?

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Recipes, Updates

Recipe Roundup

Since the season of mayonnaise and grilling is upon us, I wanted to share some of the recipes that have kept us sane (and healthier) over the past year. Andy and I have collectively lost just shy of 100lbs since starting Weight Watchers in January of 2013. It’s been a long, slow road, but we’re both feeling a lot better in pretty much every respect. I can’t recommend it enough – if you want to lose weight based on actual science and no fad diets, leave me a comment. I’m happy to talk to anyone about it.

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken – Skinny Taste | 4 PPV

Put this  on top of toast, in taco shells or – our favorite – inside Arepas pockets.

Spinach Tortellini Soup – Food Network | 4 PPV

The more crushed tomatoes, the thicker this soup is. It’s surprisingly filling.

Not Butter Chicken – Budget Bytes | 10 PPV

Similar to chicken tikka masala, but with a spicier flavor.

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower – AllRecipes | 3 PPV
This is now our go-to side dish. Super creamy, cheesy and delicious. Use Laughing Cow Cream Cheese Wedges to make it even lower calorie.
German Spaetzle – Adapted from Smitten Kitchen | 8 PPV

We have a spaetzle maker ($10 on amazon) but you can also use a large hole colander or a ziplock bag with a small hole cut on the end (see instructables version). Our Spaetzle always features the holy trio (bacon, garlic and onions).

Baked Chicken Parm – Skinny Taste | 10 PPV (with pasta)

We pound the chicken with a meat tenderizer and pan fry it – it cooks faster and you feel like you get more.

Chicken & Lime Soup – Budget Bytes | 4 PPV

The lime and avocado make a delicious combination in this Mexican dish.

Skinny Cheddar Bay Biscuits – Skinny Taste | 3 PPV

A healthier (yet still delicious) version of Cheddar Bay Biscuits.

And the newest addition, Pastina Risotto! It was originally posted on Reddit by Argle. Below is our adaptation of the delicious recipe!
PastinaRisotto

Pastina Risotto

Makes 3 servings | 6 PPV per serving

1 celery stalk, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 small onion, diced
salt + pepper to taste
2 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
6 oz Pastina (half a box)
1 tsp Better than Bouillon, Chicken

3 c Water

Sweat celery, carrot, and onion in 2 tbsp of butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. When veggie mixture has softened (onions translucent), add 6 oz Pastina and chopped garlic, lightly toasting the Pastina and stirring often.

Add Better than Bouillon to 1 cup water, and add to pan. Stir constantly until water is absorbed.  Add another cup of plain water and repeat – approximately 3 total cups, or until Pastina is a consistency you like. Finish with your favorite grated cheese.

I’d love to hear from you if you try any of these!

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Updates

On Birthdays, Houses & Scavenger Hunts

As usual, I have an amazing excuse explanation for the radio silence. As some of you know, we bought a house! And we should be [finally] closing on it in the next couple of weeks. Anyone who has gone through the home buying process recently will give me a pass. The rest of you – just trust me. Not much time for blogging.

I also turned the big three-oh a few weeks ago. I don’t feel any different. In fact I feel more and more like I’m getting away with something – as if each night I should be thinking, “muahaha! I’ve fooled them all for another day! They all think I’m an adult!” I’m so devious.

That being said, it was a great birthday. Saturday afternoon Andrew put together my very first P. Family Scavenger Hunt. He, Katie and I set out around 11 with the first of many clues that lead us all around town and then finally ended back at Andrew’s office where he’d hidden gifts. He made the hunt in three stages so I could get the true experience – Stage 1, hunts as he and his sister experienced them as teenagers. Stage 2 included simple four line poems that resembled hunts from their grade school years. And finally, Stage 3, he used traditional scavenger hunt features like, “Hey! Find everything on this list.” I needed help on a few of them (you would not believe that there was more than one goose in a software office), but eventually we got to the final step, where I had to answer Newly-Wed-Game-style questions, and for each one I got right, I got to open a gift. All in all it was a really entertaining day, and a really solid first birthday scavenger hunt. I can see this as a tradition we’ll carry on, if not with each other, at least with our kids.

The night of my actual birthday, we went out to eat with friends, and came home early to bum around together like the old married couple we pretty much already are. Later in the week, Andy’s parents took us all out to Shady Glen so I could celebrate with them, and they got me a sewing machine! I can’t wait to start learning to make stuff. And shortly I’ll have a house with room to make sewing messes in!

I’m sure we’ll do some belated celebrating as well once we’re settled in the new place. I’m hoping that we can host Friendsgiving this year, and of course we’ll be gettin’ hitched next year! So lots of excitement to come. I apologize in advance if (and when) it all effects my blogging.

Updates

Spring Sproi-ee-oi-ee-oinnngg

For those of you that have, at any time, considered yourself a writer – you understand. You have ideas that swirl in your head. You take notes, you record your thoughts, and you think, yeah, I could write about that for hours! So you sit down at your computer and stare blankly at the screen.  The cursor blinks and taunts you. What was once hours is now two sentences, and not very good ones at that. And the cycle begins again. We are our own worst critics.

A few holidays have come and gone since I’ve updated the blog. Christmas went well – I stayed in Maine with the family and drank lots of tea, ate lots of Raymond household staples (crepes and dynamites and spaghetti – oh my!), and got to see a lot of dear friends. I arrived back in Connecticut refreshed and ready for a new year.

In March, we met with our Realtor to truly start the house hunt. And thus begins the learn-on-the-go part of growing up. Some houses are gorgeous, but in a crappy school district with taxes that would make a sane person close their wallet and head for the hills. Some houses are more in mortgage (with a 20% downpayment) than we pay now in rent, but less square footage than we have. Some are exactly what I would have been looking for if we were doing the same hunt in Maine – but they were built in the 1900’s, and with CT prices, plus a new  boiler, roof, and windows – the total would be way more than we could afford. So we’ve spent the past few weeks looking through hundreds of MLS listings and deciding what our wants, needs and dealbreakers are. And this week, we visit our first round of potential homes. It’s all very exciting, and very surreal.

When did I become an adult? Who in their right mind gave me loan approvals and cars and bills to pay? I’m barely 30! Kate and I have this discussion a lot.  We say, “if I’m really an adult, I can do anything I want. I can have any food I want, as many pets as I want and as much soda as I want and nobody can stop me!” Which is pretty much true.

However, being an adult also comes with this heightened sense of good vs bad, right vs wrong, and worth it vs not worth it. Could I subsist on coffee and cookies and chips? For a while. Do I want to? Yeah, kinda. Is it a good idea? Absolutely not. Would I have tried anyway less than 10 years ago? You betchyer ass.

I’m hoping the new house will happen in 2014, which means, with any luck, the wedding will be in 2015. But that’s a whole other blog post. Until next time!

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