Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Respect the Beach

The beach has always been my happy place.  My earliest memories of childhood were spent at the Jersey Shore (before Snooki and the gang swooped in) building sandcastles, splashing in the waves and eating soft serve vanilla ice cream cones.

As the years passed, the beach has always been a constant for me.  A day spent in the sand and sea has extremely healing powers for both my mind and body (sun and saltwater are great for my psoriasis, too, so BONUS!).

I see the beach as holy.  It is full of miracles, big and small.  A place where water, land and sky meet.  It is mysterious and huge, but it still feels safe to me.  The beach is the place where I make wishes and feel most connected to life beyond this world.

One of my favorite things to do in a time of despair is to send a letter out to sea (to the universe) asking  for love, forgiveness and clarity.  I did this when I was desperately seeking love and Crush came to me only two months later.  Recently, I write letters and send them to sea when old issues (my weight, Awful, nasty clients) sneak up to bother me from time to time.  I have discovered that if I identify the issue, go to the beach and wish on it, the problems just melt away.  I can actually feel the stress and worry leaving my body (as weird as it sounds).  Mind over matter.

I highly recommend heading to the beach in a time of need.

Lately, I have been heading to the beach often.  It is chilly here, but nothing like Chicago, so I slap on a few layers and take a walk in the afternoon sun.

Sometimes, Crush even joins me, too!

I am to the left, my shadow curves give me away!

I love the walk from the car to the beach.  The anticipation gets me super excited.  It's been the same since I was little, I remember getting in big trouble for running right to the beach without waiting for my family.  For real, how scary must it be to have an almost lost five year at the beach....

Carolina coast! Wheeeee.....I am at the beach!!!!!!!!

A little gem we found:

A perfect starfish!  He actually found it, so less we and more he in terms of the discovery.

Charleston has many beaches and I like them all for different reasons.  Folly Beach (where these photos are from) can be very loud and hopping in the summer which isn't always my scene as I become grumpier older.  But, it is perfect for long winter walks because there is a lot of beach!

I made the mistake of heading up there to see the fish they catch right off the pier (my dad made me go see) and let's just say that they are NOT cute little fish like Nemo.  I am fine swimming with marine life all around me, but if nothing ever brushed my legs, I would be VERY okay with that, too! 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

What I Read Twice A Day

Two years ago, in the height of my depression, my mom and I would often Marshall & Max (wander Marshalls and T.J. Maxx) to buy things we didn't need.  My mom finds the best stuff during these hunts.  She is a designer label bloodhound.

On one of our regular Fridays night runs, I wandered into the home goods section, tears streaming down my bloated cheeks, crying that I no longer had an apartment or home (Awful did own a pretty cute single family home in Lincoln Park) to decorate.  My life had all of a sudden boiled down to 20/20 and bargain hunting on Fridays with my mom (whom I LOVE to INFINITY AND BEYOND TIMES A TRILLION MILLION, but nonetheless, it wasn't all ideal) instead of seeing friends, attending parties and chowing down at restaurant openings. As I strolled by the wroght iron mirrors, mismatched candle stick holders and half eaten gourmet treats (WHY DO PEOPLE ALWAYS PARTIALLY MUNCH AT MARSHALLS AND TJ MAXX?!?!?), my peepers landed on this:

This is your life.  Find a passion and pursue it.  Fall in love.  Dream big.  Drink wine, eat great food and spend quality time with good friends.  Laugh everyday.  Believe in magic.  Tell stories.  Reminisce about the good old days, but look with optimism to the future.  Travel often.  Learn more.  Be creative.  Spend time with people you admire.  Seize opportunities when they reveal themselves.  Love with all of your heart.  Never give up.  Do what you love.  Be true to who you are.  Make time to enjoy simple things in life..  Spend time with family.  Forgive even when it's hard.  Smile often.  Be grateful.  Be the change you wish to see in the world.  Follow your dreams.  Try new things.  Work hard.  Don't count the minutes could the laughs.  Embrace change,  Trust in yourself.  Be thankful.  Be nice to everyone.  Be happy.  Live for today.  And about all.....make every moment count. 

My heart skipped a beat.  It was a sign.  A sign, sign.  This was everything I needed to tell myself.  So many of my favorite mantras all rolled into one.  I had to have it.   I found my mom across the store and showed it to her.  She read it aloud and her eyes filled with tears.   Mom told me, "Read this everyday.  Follow the advice and I know good things will come in due time." 

I brought it home and set it on my childhood dresser, so I could read it everyday.  It reminded me to work on my weaknesses and cultivate my strengths.   

When I moved to Charleston, I hung it in my bathroom.  It's the place I spend way too much time in and head to right when I wake up and right before I go to bed.  Now, every morning and night, I read my magic sign and find peace.  I strongly recommend finding a sign like this or a quote you love and displaying it in your personal space.  It will remind you of the person you truly are every time you pass by.  Take the time to read it and watch the positivity come your way. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Being Good to the Girls....Best Sports Bra EVER!

My boobs have given me a lot of joy over the years.  I was lucky for quite some time.  I had full perky B melons that didn't even require a bra.  They had a life of their own, my darling twins.  I looked great in a strappy tank sans support.  Sometimes they would even pop out of the tops of my shirts, they were just so bouncy.

Don't be a hater cause those days are over.

Last week, I was changing to go to the gym and I caught a glance of my breasts in the mirror.  They were no longer standing straight up and staring right at me....they were beginning to point down.  Sag.  Whaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

I am 32.  I can handle this.  I had great bazookas for 14 years (I got my chest friends rather late).  I enjoyed them. My lady lumps still look cute in a bra.  Since I have gained weight, I have bigger girls.  I am actually a full C now and I do enjoy the way my cups runneth over.  I can now create cleavage in lingerie.  As I have mentioned before, my hooters are pretty far apart, so the extra padding gives me extra teats to work with.  No one knows that it may just be extra fat when it's poured into a sexy bit of lace.

I workout a lot.  Lately, in exercise class, specifically spinning, I started to feel my assets bouncing around in an out of control manner.  Not in a sexy way like they used to.  I am no longer sporting the Baywatch slow run when I am working it.

I started on a quest to find the perfect sports bra.  It'a not like I have a job taking me away from these important tasks.  And I found this (first photo of me....well, of my sweater pets, coming to you!!!!):

It's awesome!  I went everywhere and where did I find this little gem....only the classiest of places, Neimans, Walmart.  Danskin Now.  It has an underwire and makes me look very perky and full in all of my workout tops.  Best $11.00 I have spent in quite some time (way better than those medium pizzas I was ordering door side).  If you want in, here you go.  Your jugs will thank you!

PS: I tried to use all of the synonyms for breasts that I could think of....

Friday, January 17, 2014

Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder

I have a beautiful friend.  She is stunning actually.  Inside and out.  She has gorgeous hair and porcelain skin.  A beautiful smile.  Sparkling eyes and a rocking bod.  Last week while we were catching up, she mentioned that she has an insecurity about her beauty.  I get this more than anyone, I have complexes about my body for days.  Years, really.  

My dear friend was told by a man that he wasn't feeling attracted to her.  Now, this is on him, not her.  My friend puts the "s" is sexy.  But, I get the damage that one comment can do.  Something that hits below the belt and cuts the very soul of your insecurities.  Deeply.  I have been there.  I can be complimented a million times and I won't remember a single nice thing.  But, tell me something negative and I will never forget it.  It will haunt me for years sometimes.  I will roll around my bed sleepless repeating the bad.  I will wake up exhausted and resentful that a single comment has the ability to make me feel so empty that it affects the quality of my life.

Up until Crush, every one of my boyfriends has said horrible things to me about my body.  Asked me directly about my scars and stretch marks.  Made me feel bad about having a soft belly and long vagina lips.  And I let these comments swallow me up whole.  I thought, "Omg, R&F, your body is bad.  It is too ugly to satisfy men.  You are lucky that anyone can look at you naked.  You are a disaster."

And in my heart and soul.  I kinda really knew that my body was not a problem.  In moments of clarity, I reasoned it was that I was broken inside and I was attracting broken men.  I am healthy for the most part.  Yes, I have some psoriasis and I can be depressed from time to time, but my body can do so many things.  I knew that I had to love myself more to bring love to my body.  I am still struggling with this, but I am trying.  I make an effort each and every day to treat my body kindly.

I met Crush.  A man that cannot get enough of me.  A man that will get aroused by simply smelling the shampoo on my hair.  He told me that he is scared that he may get a boner when I walk down the aisle on our wedding day.  I have never had a man attracted to me the way he is.  I am also super attracted to him.  I lacked carnal attraction in every relationship that I have had up to this point.  I am glad I am finally getting to experience it.

I remember going to therapy a few years ago and sharing that I was really angry that I allowed Awful to tell me that he wanted me, "skinny and hot!", that my stomach looked ripply and roly like "the stormy sea" and that he "wasn't as attracted to me anymore" because I had put on weight.  What made me irate was that I found him to be super unattractive and I felt like I was being so open minded and kind by dating him and he couldn't even appreciate my beauty.  My therapist asked me who I would want to look like if I could look like anyone.  "Giselle."  She looked me dead in the eye and said, "there are people in this world who tell Gisele that she is too ugly and too fat.  You cannot be adored by everyone."  Or shall I say, haters gonna hate.

Since I have moved to Charleston, I have been trying to get back in touch with my soul.  I want to love myself freely.  Not because I fit into my old jeans or dresses, but because I am a wonderful, kind and good person.  I try to look in the mirror at least once a day and tell myself that I am beautiful.  The more you tell yourself, the more you will believe.  Beauty comes from the inside.  The people I find most stunning are content with themselves and are at peace in their lives.  I aspire to be this gorgeous one day. 

I know that soon, my friend will find what she is looking for.  She is doing the work to bring whole love to her.  She will never have to worry about feeling beautiful because someone will make her feel like the most gorgeous gal in the world just the way she is.  

It isn't you, darling. It's them.  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dress Inspiration

Okay, before I get all wedding on you, I will explain that this is NOT going to turn into a wedding blog.  I do not plan on posting photos of all of the details I like/want for my wedding.  I actually don't care that much about all that anyway.  So, I won't be showing you chevron detailed paper straws in my wedding colors and envision how cute they will look in my signature drink also in my wedding colors.  I am not even having a signature drink.  I still need to figure out my wedding colors.

BUT.......A few months ago, before I even got engaged, I started looking at wedding dresses online.  I know, I know.  I was that girl.  I just couldn't help it.

You see, I have seen a lot of wedding dresses in my day.  I have sold them.  I have dressed (and undressed!) brides on their big days.  I even tried a few on years ago when the bridal shop I worked for asked me to (they wanted to figure out what dresses look best on specific body types....I was the curvy example).

I started to become a bit obsessed with finding the right dress for me because I am still struggling with the mixed feelings I have about my body.  I know it is just a number on the scale and I know that I have made huge strides in confronting my food addiction.  I just feel like I let myself go body-wise when I became very depressed.  It is something I think about all too often.  Before I dated Awful, my body was on point and it was something I had worked very hard for.  I just don't want to keep doing all the work if it isn't going to stick.  That's why I am getting to the root of my issues.  Yo-yo weight loss/gain is exhausting.

I love strapless wedding gowns.  They look good on most everyone, but me.  My shoulders are very broad and my boobs are a bit far apart.  Essentially, a strapless dress makes me look like a linebacker.  I have happily worn them when I have been asked (like as a bridesmaid), but if I had my choice about what looks best on me, it would be something v-neck that opens up my chest area.

The other issue I personally have with strapless is the bra issue. As I mentioned above, my boobs live in the same development, but they aren't exactly neighbors.  A strapless bra gives me no cleavage, so when I wear them, all I am left with is a deflated chest and a pile of back fat....strapless bras give me the worst back fat!!!!

Okay, there is one more thing.  Strapless dresses never seem to stay in place.  I have planned countless weddings where the bride had to yank up her gown constantly and the only thing I could do to help involved a few stitches and some double sided tape.  Nothing makes me more self-conscious than when I feel like I have to tug at my clothes.  It is one of the reasons why I often avoid things that tie around my waist.  I love the look, but it makes me constantly fidget....I am always seeking just the right place on my waist.  And no, I will not be wearing a bridal belt on my big day, even though I know they are in right now and are quite adorable.

So, what I wanted was specific.  I decided I wanted some sleeves (to cover up my psoriasis in case I have an outbreak and help me avoid any dress pulling up) and that I liked the look of lace when it came to a more full coverage style dress.  Lace is a bit delicate and also offers a very close fit.   The issue is that since I am a real women with real curves and lumps and bumps...I needed lace with structure.  That is hard to find!  So much of the lace with sleeves styles that I found were either super matronly, very sheer and nightie-like, or very boho which works great for beachy and outdoor weddings, but not at all for me....SIDENOTE: I would love to be a chill gal who crunches organic granola all day because I often have girl crushes on chickies like this, but I am a control freak and thus I will never be a boho bride.

I searched and searched and searched for example photos of what I wanted and I couldn't find anything....then I came across this:

It was everything I wanted and more.....OMG, this is also my first photo ever on this blog!!!  Exciting! This stunning bride customized her dress and added those sleeves on and it gave me a great idea.  I could easily add the sleeves if I couldn't find the exact dress I wanted.  It was more important to choose a flattering neckline and shape than worry about something specifically with sleeves.  Duh.

I am happy to report that even though my dress isn't exactly like this (mine has a bit less skirt) is pretty close.  It could be cousins.  I am VERY excited about it!  Sometimes I hate on technology, but inspiration photos aren't always a bad idea.  I mean, without this photo, I would have never found the lacey number that I can't wait to wear.

And this concludes the wedding jazz for a while.   I have lots of other things to worry finding a job.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Daily Treat

The only way that I can avoid binging is by allowing myself to have 1 treat per day.  This treat is usually something I like to savor mid-afternoon.  Currently, I have been losing about 1 pound per week.  I work out 5-6 times a week and try not to eat back the calories I burn at the gym.  I aim for 1,800 calories a day.  After a bit of adjusting, it hasn't been too bad.  It took just a little getting used since prior to tracking calories, I guestimated I was eating between 2,500-3,000 calories some days and over 5,000 on others when I binged.  Not pretty, but at least I know why I was consistently gaining weight.  Science is a bitch.  Calories in.  Calories out.

A few months ago, I cut out most gluten in my diet to help my psoriasis (and it's currently 70 percent better and constantly improving).  Most of my binging was triggered by pizza, pretzels or crackers anyway, so I am feeling way more in control without the gluten regardless of my skin status.  Win-win. I don't think I will ever go back to bread (it used to be at least half of my daily calories) since without it, I do feel WAY better.  I am still eating rice and potatoes, so I am getting my precious carbs in, I would be lost without sushi and french fries and I make exceptions for pizza.  I have deep needs. Pizza is one of them, but it is more of a once a month thing now and not a daily habit like it may have been for me not even that long again.....

Out of those 1,800 daily calories, I leave 300 for something that is junk.  One day, I would love to not have to rely on this little crutch, but I am taking it for what it is and it is actually huge progress.  The truth is, that prior to getting help for my eating issues and coming to terms with my food addiction, I was eating entire large pizzas, jumbo bags of Cheetos (both crunchy and puff varieties, I don't discriminate) and pints of ice cream.  To be able to just limit my empty calories to 300 a day is a hopeful step in the right direction for me.  I am super happy about this.

The rules for this treat is that it has to be a single portion and it can not be kept in the house.  If I bring something into the house, it has to be eaten and the calories must be allotted for that same day. This helps me as I really have to want my treat in order to go out and buy it. Sadly, most days, I do cave and head to the gas station for something sweet.  I have been working my way through the candy racks.

Even though I am trying to eat better and less, the reality is that the lifestyle I aim to lead will always have some junk in it.  I know that since I am an all or nothing kind of person, I need some moderation in my life.  The one glass of wine savored instead of glugging the entire bottle.  The 2 pieces of pizza that I nibble on instead of inhaling the whole pie.  The Milky Bar eaten slowly and mindfully instead of attacking a family sized bag of fun-sized Snickers.

Since I have been in Charleston, I have lost 15 pounds.  I am really pleased by this news.  I have been worrying less about my weight than I ever did in Chicago and the scale is finally starting to consistently move.  I don't know how much more I want to lose, but I would love to have some of my wardrobe back, so I will let you know when I get there.  The good news is that my wedding dress looks great as is and I need some of my curves to make it look va-va-voom.  At least I don't have the pressure of needing to turn into a stick figure in order to walk down the aisle.  I have seen that all too often and starvation and no candy bars would be the end of me.....

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I Won't Grow Up!!!

Peter Pan Syndrome.

This notion of never really having to grow up.

Awful was textbook this.  At 38, he thought it was completely normal to drink 7 nights a week, impulsively buy motorcycles and scooters he couldn't really afford and put himself into wild and dangerous situations: sailing in severe weather, riding a scooter drunk in a storm, keeping several weapons in his home without storing them safety and discreetly.  This one really irked me, especially because he always wanted to have people over.

Over the last few years, I have witnessed too many grown men act like 15 year old boys with their first case of Natural Light.  I have dealt with man-child grooms.  Lost little best men.  Even fathers of the brides or grooms who act like the wedding they are attending may be a frat party.  I sometimes have to take a moment NOT to laugh.  Getting obscenely drunk (and oh how many times I have seem rampant cocaine use) in public at a formal event is a personal choice, but I can't say I think it is the best look, ESPECIALLY if you are the groom.......

Well, this little rant takes me to a wedding that I planned a few months ago.  For a couple that I knew vaguely.  This couple (who were actually super sweet and lovely) knew many people who attended my same high school.  When I initially saw their guest list, I gagged, sneered and then took a xanax and laid down.  I knew it was going to be an unruly crowd.  I have to remember this when I feel judged by other people.  Yikes, I judge, too.  Bad, when it comes to these folks. 

I wasn't wrong.  See, the second I graduated from high school, the first thing I thought was, "I AM FREE!"  Free to get away from the vapid, empty, moronic and ridiculous people that I had to share halls and pretend to like for 4 years.  I never looked back.  I rarely returned their phone calls.  This was before Facebook.  You could escape your past.  I didn't like anyone enough to keep in touch, so I didn't.

But, I am the minority.  Most people from my high school stay together like a pack of wolves.  They go to college together, join the same frats and sororities.  They have all of their firsts together: sex, booze, drugs.  They move to the same neighborhoods and even live in the same condo buildings post graduation.  They marry each other.  They divorce each other.  They cheat with each other's spouses.  People that also went to the same high school.  To me, it all seems too closed.  Suffocating.  They have no close friends other than the people they shared a 6th grade cafeteria table with.  It makes me itch.  The world is bigger than this.

When the high school wedding rolled around, it was everything I knew it would be.  A bunch of people who have known each other for 20+ years all dressed up, trying to impress and shock one another.  See, this is what happens when the only new blood may be a spouse that gets sucked into the mix.  Everyone competes.  The competition is so personal.  No one can escape.  It becomes an incestuous rat race. The girls starve themselves and wear micro mini dresses intended for those under 25 and NOT over 35.  The guys wear custom suits and show off about whose family business (many work for their Dads) allow them to work the least amount possible.  They take shots.  They run to the bathroom and then ask me inane questions with coke literally hanging out of their nostrils.  They grind on one another.  At this particular event, I witnessed a man kissing someone other than his wife.  But, I have heard for years (even from my mom) that swinging in my old neighborhood exists, so why wouldn't they do exactly what their parents did 30 years ago?  The truth is that they traveled down the same path, so it all makes sense.  History repeats itself. 

And yet, part of me feels left out.  Not like I would want to part of this madness, but they have so many memories ALL together.  They knew each other as children, teenagers, young adults and now middle aged.  They have history.  My best friendships were made in college and right after.  Aside from one friend from junior high that I still keep in touch with, all of my other buds are not from a continuous phase in my life and sometimes I get a bit sad because I love memories....yet, the ones I try to block tend to be the ones that involved these kinds of people.

The best part of the high school wedding was that Crush was there to help me.  He had come into town with me to do a few wedding tasks for our own celebration coming up next fall, so he got to see the people from my high school in action.  He went to boarding school, so he doesn't have a sense of what I went through and how annoying I think 99% of the people I grew up with really are.  He has questioned me about them and about my high school experience and I always just sum it up by saying..."Ugh, think about having to hang out with the most annoying people for 4 years and pretending you liked them.  It sucked." 

As we lay in bed after working all day getting a great (with super annoying friends) couple married, my beloved turned over and stroked my face and said, "R&F, no wonder why you aren't friends with people from your high school.  I have never witnessed such inappropriate behavior in my life.  Grown men with children acting like drunk little wild boys.  It actually grossed me out.  How old were these people anyway, like 35?  Do they ever grow up?  7 guys at 1 point were all in the handicap stall doing coke when I went to use the restroom.  And let's not even talk about what all of those ladies were wearing.  I don't think if you were born in the 70's that I should be able to see your thong underwear when you dance."

And as I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep, I smiled.  The person I will marry "gets it."  

Few really do.  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Shit Happens (In My Pants!)

DISCLAIMER: This post may gross you out!

It's times like these that I am glad that I am still veiled under anonymity.  If not, how could I share with  you this little gem...?

I pooped my pants this weekend.  For the first time since I was 3.  Does this give me street cred?

My personal mortification about this is suffocating me.  I am coming clean and no one has to read any further if I am making you gag.

Late Friday night, I started feeling awful.  Feverish, achy, tummy pains, just terrible.

I was rolling all over the bed, so I decided to get up and sleep on my couch and let Crush rest in the bed.  I had tons of Bravo shows to catch up on to distract me from my symptoms.

Well, after a night of restless couch sleep peppered with the sounds of Reza, Nene, Pascale and Lisa, I woke up mid-morning, covered in sweat.  Stiff, crampy and alone.  I guess in the midst of my zonked out state, Crush left to catch up on work.  I was taking an inventory of my condition when I felt a stomach pain like no other wash over me.  It doubled me over.  I got up as soon as my feverish self allowed me so I could get to the restroom ASAP,  but it was too late.  Very Charlotte-like in Sex and The City (the movie).    If the ladies of SATC poop in their trousers, everyone must, right?! It's quite fashionable and fabulous so I have heard.

If anyone out there has ever thought (I am sure none of you have), wow, Ready and Fading is cool.  Well, please consider that I poop my pants sometimes, too.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Perfect House Guest

Crush and I just returned from Chicago.  As I mentioned in my last post, I had the final wedding of my Chicago career, a super awesome New Year's Eve bash.  The wedding went off without a hitch, but the weather....OY OY OY.  I am super glad that at the last minute, I decided to save the airline tickets (Southwest, you rock my world) and drive.  Crush and I make quite a road trip pair and Chicago airports are always highly messed up when it comes to terrible weather since Chicago is the major middle city (location middle) in the country and local and far away weather causes an epic domino effect of flight cancellations.  True story, I have had flights delayed for nearly 3 days.  I always feel awful for the people who can't go back home to wait out their departures.

Instead of the little 8 day Chicago trip Crush and I planned, we ended up in Chicago for just about 2 weeks because the weather made it impossible to leave.  First snow.  Then arctic cold.  Then some more snow.  By the time we got the pass to go (one of the major highways we needed to use in Indiana was closed for 2 days), I nearly flew out the door.  Being cooped up in a house for days on end will do that to you even though I loved my company (former roomies aka the folks and the man I am marrying in 9 months).

My mom couldn't stop gushing about how much she enjoyed having Crush for the visit.  This is a women who secretly HATES company.  My mom is very particular about how she keeps her home (super clean and tidy and sanitary at all times) and having people over (and having her adult daughter live with her....) causes her stress beyond belief.  My mom likes to say that her own grandmother died of hospitality because people were always stopping by her apartment in New York because she was such a wonderful hostess and cook, but inside she hated it.  The verdict is out on this theory, my dad said she died of a stroke, may she rest in peace.

So, why was Crush such a great guest?  What did he do that made my mom so comfortable that she invited us to watch movies in her bed?  Why did his presence help my mom calm down enough that she stayed in her pajamas (as she should have) on our snow days?  Most importantly, what was it about Crush that helped her avoid having a public guest related meltdown that I was secretly expecting and even warned Crush about?

I asked my dear mommy and this is what she had to say about why Crush was such a great guest:

1.  Bring a gift.  As I get older, I think this is a given.  If you are planning to stay at someone's house, even for dinner, bring a little something.  A bottle of wine or champagne, a little treat from your city (I like to bring Carol's cookies or Garrett's popcorn sometimes, they are both Chicago yummies), a cute knickknack for the home, or even treat your hosts to a dinner out on the town at one of their favorite restaurants.  Here are a few cute gift ideas for under $30.00.  If you are on a budget, a simple thank you note for your hosts as soon as you arrive shows appreciation.  And that is the point of a hostess gift.  It shows that you appreciate the hospitality being bestowed upon you.  My mom loved the Charleston pecan sampler Crush gifted her with as soon as he walked through the door.  She said it set the tone for a sweet (ahhhh) visit.  Just remember, that you still need to send a thank you note after you leave. Put it in the mail the day you get home, so you won't forget! PLEASE NOTE: My mom would have been fine without any gift, truly.  Or a used tissue or a popsicle stick.  But, the nuts made her feel special and thought of and that is the point!

2. Follow the flow of the house.  The is a super important one.  Do as your hosts do.  If you hosts retire to bed early, do the same.  If you aren't ready to sleep, head to your quarters and read a book or watch some TV or your laptop, remember to bring headphones in the instance that you don't have a private room, so you don't bother everyone with the bitch fights from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  Before bed, inquire about what time your hosts plan to start their day and what the plans for the next day are.  One of the worst things about having guests, can be that the hosts get their routine interrupted.  Be aware that your presence is a treat, but also sometimes a bit of an inconvenience and be sensitive to that.  If you are staying in a place that doesn't have many bathrooms, coordinate shower schedules in advance.  If your hosts have to work during the duration of your stay, make yourself scarce when they are trying to make it out to the office or even wake up early and make your hosts coffee.  If your hosts are retired like my parents, wake up when they do and join them for a long breakfast and many cups of coffee!

3.  Be easy going about about food.  Crush eats everything and loves food, so cooking for him is simple. I told my mom the things he won't eat (fish and shellfish because he hates the taste), so she knew what not to prepare while he visited.  As someone who is always watching calories and now tries to avoid gluten when possible, I bring my own food when I can.  I also fund my own grocery shops away from home when I have access, but I loosen up my own particular needs when I can.  If a food won't kill me or cause me great physical pain, I try to go with the flow as it is just a meal and I am getting food and shelter for free.  If you cannot eat certain things, make it known in advance.  If you need to cook for yourself, be clear about it.  I think the less surprises you spring on your hosts right when you arrive, the better.  You want to be the least annoying guest as possible and the world doesn't revolve solely around you.

4.  Keep your room and bathroom clean and tidy.  This is a given, but I have seen this one abused  many times.  I admittedly had to help Crush with this because as I have mentioned, he is a slob, though he is getting tons better.... Make you bed in the morning, keep your clothes neatly in your suitcase or hung in the closet in your room (if you have one), wipe down the bathroom vanity, hang up your damp towels, don't leave your toiletries all over the place.  Bring a laundry bag for your dirty laundry and don't assume that you have full access to the washer and dryer unless the host in question is someone you feel comfortable asking to either do your laundry or allow you to use their appliances (I only feel comfortable doing my own laundry at my folks or sister's).  Be respectful to your hosts machines especially if they have babies or small children as they will be doing laundry constantly and often have a system going.  I like to keep my room viewing ready.  This means that once you get up and dressed, you should leave your room looking almost exactly like it looked like when you arrived minus your personal belongings.

5.  Be a part of the group.  Crush is always down for whatever, so he aced this one!  If your hosts like to play board games or cards and ask you, join in.  Even if you don't know the rules, be open to learn them.  If your hosts ask you to watch a movie or TV show, be a good sport.  If they want to make you a special meal or snack, accept graciously (same rules go for the dietary jazz above....don't eat shellfish if shrimp can kill you, but you get the idea).  If your hosts want to take you to a historic site in their town or city that they think you will enjoy, be a pal and experience it.  One thing that makes you a bad house guest is if you use your hosts place only as a hotel and don't plan to spend any time with them.  If you want a total solo or couple trip, then you should save and stay at private accommodations, so you can come and go exactly as you please!

Remember as I said, send a thank you in a timely fashion after you depart.   I wish you many happy visits in the future with repeat invitations to come and stay again!

Friday, January 10, 2014


I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and Happy New Year!

I worked my last event ever in Chicago and boy does it feel good.  Calm.  It was a wedding for an incredible couple that I am obsessed with and their big celebration turned out just as it should have.  A true reflection of who they are as people and fun, fun, fun!  It was a New Years Eve wedding after all.

Throughout the planning process with this particular bride, I admired her outlook about her wedding.  She was excited beyond belief, but she was also calm and realistic.  She knew that some things were clearly out of her budget and that some people (family at very limited blips) were causing drama because they wanted to be heard.  This little lady kept her poise and focused on the one thing that would always be constant, the love she has for her fiance now husband.  Many times while working with her, I thought to myself, "Ready and Fading, when you get engaged, be like her.  Promise yourself.  She has the right attitude."

Well.  I must report, I have been chill.  Checking things off of my wedding list 1 item at a time.

Last Saturday, I bought a wedding dress!  I made this decision after trying on 4 dresses total.  Yup, you read that right.  Not 40 or 400.  4.

I knew what I wanted and I didn't feel like trying on a million dresses to get there.  I am not the kind of gal that needs to see every single option when 1 works well.

I also have to add that I have been to this particular store dozens of times, they know me and I had sent them inspiration photos of dresses I liked before I came in for my dress appointment.  Also, I worked in bridal retail for a while early in my career, so I am familiar with what designers and styles work best for a tall and curvy lady like myself.

The place where I purchased was also a little surprised at how the appointment progressed.  I am an easy bride after all!  It can go both ways with people in the wedding industry.  To show their appreciation, they are doing all alterations and customizations for me complimentary.  In addition, they gave me a veil as a gift, but lets not forget that I brought in many brides to buy their own dresses, so that gesture was probably more of a thank you for business than a thank you for not being a difficult bitch.  It was extremely kind of them and I must put a thank you in the mail for them ASAP.

One of the questions my clients often ask me is how to get discounts.  Chicago people have this notion (and most likely people in other places, too, I am just most familiar with Chicago) that their wedding makes them entitled to recieve free things and if they are difficult, mean, hateful and scary that they will get these things.


The answer is really quite simple.  Be kind, decisive, gracious and do your research before you commit to something.  You will see, 9 times out of 10, you will be rewarded with something grand for free because the vendor and venue are used to people being entitled assholes.  Kindness is recognized and appreciated.

The dress is so me, just want I wanted.  A bit sexy, yet sweet.  Shows off my shape but not inappropriate (I don't love tons of bridal cleavage, just my personal taste).  I am also adding some 3/4 sleeves to it, so the designer is customizing the dress for me and I will be the only with it, so that is pretty cool if you are into that sort of thing.

Hope everyone is staying warm out there and Happy 2014!!!!!!