Wedding: 2 weeks away07.23.14

As I put together the final touches on the plans for the wedding, I am thinking about what are those must-have pictures. Over the last year of festivities and celebrations, I have to admit, I realized that I am terrible at stopping and remembering to take a picture with the friends and family I am there enjoying the day with. I’m always just in the moment and not thinking, we should save this moment. So then later, I am sad because I didn’t have a picture with every friend or family member, and maybe I needed more pictures…

So for the wedding day, I’ve got the photographer booked for almost 10 hours strait and have already given her a multi-page list of pictures posted through the day-of schedule. (lol!) Controlling much?? Well, its one of the most important days of our lives together and I want to be sure we capture every last moment, and moments with our closest friends and family. Everyone will look so beautiful, and some of these people will never be in the same room again. As I am sure all brides have these sentiments, wanting to capture every special moment.

What are your must-have pictures? How much will you plan for every moment? As I have mentioned previously, I booked my photographer with a 2nd photographer and an assistant. To be sure!! And I have a pinterest board full of those classic and unique pictures that look like great ideas!

Here are a few (not posted on pinterest), that I think are definitely classic:

How adorable is this?! You can snap a pic on your phone and text it to him :)

wedding-day-1

A millin pics of your gorgeous bouquet… probably wont be enough!! ;)
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My girls are so special to me, I will always be so greatful that they were part of my wedding day.

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Of course, there will be all the details from my cake and desert table and cake topper!

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Get-away car! We actually have booked a white vintage limo, but I just saw this with the trunk full of pretty gifts.. how adorable! How hard was it to get all those boxes with matching wrapping paper and ribbon??- this is LIKELY thanks to a genius planner :)

wedding-day-2

There are so many picture opportunities! So excited!

Posted in pop-culture perhapswith No Comments →

Favorite Wedding Vendors: Charlottesville, VA06.04.14

blushwedding

My wedding is at a vineyard and since we’re in the middle of historical Charlottesville, I have chosen a country-vintage theme. This ‘theme’ has been very popular lately so its been easy to gather all the perfect accessories and personal touches.

Charlottesville is a small town and most of the vendors, from venues to cakes, all know each other. Sometimes it seems they are getting a little tired of all the crazy brides. I feel for them, definitely. Some vendors have been really sweet but then give me the hugest estimates I’ve ever seen. Others have been completely dismissive for even asking for prices before booking with them. Well, none-the-less, I have most of my vendors picked and I am completely thrilled with all of them. Each of the vendors I chose have been friendly, flexible, and low and behold… reasonably priced!

If you are planning a wedding in Charlottesville and would like some advice, feel free to email me: sylvia (at) va-girl.com.

My Vendors:

Planning services: Since I am such a hands-on person, I couldn’t imagine having a full service planner. I just didn’t know what I would use them for, since I like to examine all my options myself. However I knew that I would definitely need a coordinator to ensure no one, including me and my bridesmaids, have to stress out and help manage the guests during the day, when they should be enjoying themselves. I talked to various planners but I found one who was not only welcoming but also really flexible and her website photos matched my style of what I was envisioning for my wedding. She even provided some free preliminary advice and handles her coordination through an online portal! brilliant! Love a vendor who uses technology! (which, is rare in Charlottesville, by the way). I highly recommend: Events with Panache, Jennifer Hamlin has been so nice and helpful this whole year, even though I only officially have her hired as a coordinator which means she starts 6 weeks out.

Photography: I chose a wonderfully artistic photographer who likes to ‘stylize’ photographs. Her pictures are romantic with soft lighting and gorgeous pastel colors. She will set up shots of all the details too with her 2nd photographer who specializes in this. This sounded perfect to me, I think we are both the same kind of neurotic who freaks unless it is all perfect. :) I mean, photographs can be pretty perfect, if you set them up right. She brings an assistant and a 2nd photographer: Amber Flynn Photography.

Catering: I chose a restaurant who has had decades of catering experience. Not only is their food amazing but it also smells amazing every time I walk into the restaurant! They are listed as one of the top 5 caterers in Charlottesville and have over 40 years catering experience. I negotiated the same low price per person regardless of which entrees we chose. We will have 4 entree choices, hor d’oeuvres, and desert. We have also been told that they provide the most food (on the plate) of all the caterers! They are even doing pre-ceremony drinks like lemonade and citrus punch, and the tasting was so delicious, I am sure the food will be wonderful: C&O Restaurant and Catering.

Flowers: I went around and around with florists. Flowers are so gorgeous and are essential in overflowing quantities. Although I am planning this vintage, country wedding and I don’t want to over-do it. I wanted an elegant vintage, sweet look that has been pretty popular in other country-vintage vineyard weddings. I found a florist who also has vintage rentals and also was incredibly reasonably priced! He has his own store in Cozet and buys wholesale from local farms. He also has been in business for a long time so he has great relationships with farms and maybe thats why his prices are so great. Our initial consultation was great too, he was calm, and just listened to what I wanted, and was right next to his computer looking up my Flowerzzz Board Pinterest page so that he could see exactly what I wanted! He was really nice and him and his assistant have been responsive, flexible, accommodating, just great to work with: Ken at Couture Design Events in Crozet, VA, a short drive from Charlottesville.

Music: I grew up studying classical voice and being a huge fan of sinatra and big band music. Mostly because I loved their authentic, rich sound and talented classic vocals. So I had to get good music right?? Yes. Well, I was debating between a string quartet and a harpist and I finally just started polling people. Everyone said they’d prefer the harpist! I loved the harpist I chose, she plucks the chords so quickly you’d think she was playing the piano. She is so talented, I cant wait to hear her in person!! http://www.virginiasharp.com/

China: Since I am at a vineyard (instead of a hotel), I have to bring in every single piece of everything we need. The only thing the vineyard has is tables and chairs – which, at least they have that! So this was fun because I could scour the end of the earth for the perfect china. Luckiy I found one in DC. ;) I decided on the ‘something vintage’ company, which has gorgeous mis-matched china, along with other vintage rentals. I opted to have them select china settings with gold rim, so it will have some congruency throughout. I also chose their beautiful mis-matched vintage tea cups for every place setting, and gold flatware. I cant wait to see it all on the table! http://my.somethingvintagerentals.com/

Venue: I don’t know if a ‘venue’ is a ‘vendor’ but in any case, I have had a wonderful experience with Trump Winery. The one thing I grappled with, as I am sure many brides do, is realizing that you’re going to be working with the staff and contacts at your venue for the entire time you’re planning. Responsiveness, creativity, welcomeness, flexibility, were all things I watched out for while touring venues. After all, if a venue staff can’t be nice and welcoming at the very beginning, how will they be down the road during minor and major issues pop up, when you email them various questions, and coordination details get complicated?

The winery is stunning from all angles and from the time I contacted Trump Winery, the venue manager Patrick Butler was quick to respond, helpful, and completely great. The event space is in a private section of the winery, so there won’t be random people walking through your venue tour, or when you go back to envision the flow of your day, or when you go back for the millionth time to see where the trees are located. There wont be wine tastings going on 15 minutes up to your wedding like in other winery venues either; its an incredibly peaceful setting. This private event space also means vendors have flexibility when setting up and picking up their supplies, which you don’t quite realize what a load off your mind this can be. As the bride, you can get ready in their spacious bridal suite, and there are several rooms for your wedding party to hang out before the ceremony. There are so many picturesque photo opportunities, I can’t even count them all. I chose August for their peak wine season and can’t wait to see it all come together but no only that, since the coordination is so good at the venue, I am confident everything will come together perfectly.

If you’re considering Charlottesville for your wedding, check out those amazing vendors, I’ve had a great experience with all of them.

:)

Posted in pop-culture perhaps, Weddingwith 86 Comments →

Cranky phase01.20.14

cranky

Ive been cranky for a while now. Is my job is annoying me…? Well, that’s basically the question. Is it because I am tired of the same dumb problems at work happening over and over again, the same subjects, the same problems?? Am I bored of public health?? LOL! These aren’t like, administrative mundane issues… its like, actual health care topics that I think I might just be SO BORED OF.

People go around in circles over and over- well what about this, what can this program do, blah blah blah… and I’m like…. Really, is this really going to be a long term issue? Isn’t EVERYONE doing the SAME THING right now? Isn’t EVERYTHING going to be different in a few years when all the states change their plans, AGAIN?!

How about we calm down and stop running around in circles. How about we focus our resources, make an impact where it matters.

But… sometimes I’m wrong. I am wrong… but I’m in a cranky mood, so this is what I am thinking.
How do I get out of this cranky rut?? WHY… why do smoking cessation programs make my eyes roll? Because- I was there, in the field, trying to get teen pregnant girls to stop smoking and guess what—they could give a RATS @SS about what I had to say to them, or what the facts were. But, I stay silent as my brain just turns over and I roll my eyes at smoking cessation. My boss is like, hmmm, you’re jaded. I’m like, hmmm…. Maybe. Or, what I’m secretly thinking… I AM BORED, this is a STUPID WASTE OF RESOURCES.

So when bureaucrats sit around a room and say—‘hey, these field people should do this, do that, lets throw some money at it’. I am thinking… um, no, that’s not going to work. I have seen it pushed down to the field level and it doesn’t work. But so, my mind is like, they don’t have the resources, blah blah. But someone else, who isn’t jaded, will say something smart like: well, if they have the proper training and we give them extra training funds then they may be motivated to do that. But I am too stuck in my cranky head to say anything very constructive.

There are… new techniques, new ways of doing things, cooperative, collaborative, (BS) approaches where people come together, learn, etc., but I don’t know about them,,…. Because I’m stuck here sitting in front of a computer all day.

Is that it? Is that why I’m cranky…? Because I’m in an office all day instead of being out there, talking to people and implementing programs?? I don’t knowwwwwww….

Sometimes I wonder if its this limbo phase I have with my home life. I know we have to move eventually and move in with my fiancé… such as- buy a house, buy an apt… soon, eventually,…. Where, when…

So, that could be annoying me. But, I don’t think so. Because, when I go home, I pick up my knitting project, make some dinner, play with the dog(s)… fall asleep… I am pretty content…

So, maybe its work…?

I wonder if I will ever figure it out.

Posted in government, pop-culture perhapswith 136 Comments →

To be or Not to Be10.19.13

wedding planner
(photo courtesy)

To Be or Not To Be
A Government Employee… ?
A… wedding planner?
A… part-time realtor?

With the government shut down finally over, I feel as though I can resume wedding planning. Not that the plans were ever put on ‘hold’, but just felt as if I were ‘hold’-ing my breath, waiting, in case this didn’t all end well. As if this ongoing stalemate was signaling something worse in the economy, or as if congress would actually deem all programs for women and children no longer worth funding. So I held my breath and considered optional career plans….

I’ve always liked real estate. Its fun to look at houses and having grown up in NVa, I have seen how drastically the real estate- homes, neighborhoods, and commercial properties have changed the landscape of the DC suburbs. There are now expensive condos and tall office buildings where there used to be dilapidated houses. There are now multi million dollar homes where there used to be section-8 (low income) housing.

In the end, if the economy is not so good… i.e. if the government were to have default on their debt, then, the housing market would plummet, as would my real estate career! Lol! ;)

So then I thought… well, I have all this new-found knowledge on the wedding industry. I now have a 45-row spreadsheet with the details, costs, specifications, packages, and deposit structures for dozens of venues between Charlottesvile and Baltimore. Not only that, I also have lists of preferred and highly preferred florists, musicians, etc for the area along with their cost structures.

So, I actually have a lot of interesting info that would lend to me being a wedding planner. :)
But then the government re-opened, and as I realized I was going to go back to my wonderful job (which I do love) but also back to the daily grind (which I don’t like), a part of the whimsical, creative side of my brain went back down into the back of my mind to hibernate with everything that lies dormant when you’re a government employee.

It would be so fun to at least be a part-time wedding planner… or set up a side business that would be part time… or find a planner company who would be willing to put up with my limited hours in exchange for my knowledge, organizational and social media skills…

If I were to set up my own business, I’d charge half as much as other planners (because I know how much most of them charge in the area) just to get some experience and only take a few clients here and there so as to maintain my part time status. Luckily most weddings happen on the weekends so, wouldn’t conflict with work in most instances.

So, we will see how it goes. If I get promoted again next year then I may forget about all of this. Lets forget the fact that I have been studying public health and policy for the last 10 years and attended two of the top universities in the world all to dedicate my life to improving the livelyhoods of low income women and children… sometimes I just want to play with flowers and pretty things. Having started to plan my wedding has opened my eyes to a world of amazingly beautiful things!! So, sometimes you just have to enjoy it…

So, I probably need to finish planning my own wedding first. I did find a lovely planner for my Charlottesville wedding finally – Events with Panache. Jennifer will be helping me with day-of coordination, I selected the ‘Amanda’ package. I just love her, she is the nicest planner I spoke with, she totally ‘got’ me. I didn’t feel like I was ‘just another client’ with her, she listened to all my rambling thoughts and concerns and has been so supportive! :)

:)

Posted in government, pop-culture perhaps, Weddingwith 161 Comments →

Baby Shower Planning10.08.13

I am posting the inspiration I used to plan my sister in law’s baby shower held in August. The baby shower turned out great! I don’t have a ton of pictures, but here are a few, and more pinterest images.

The nursery colors she chose were yellow & gray chevron. So, I used this pinterest image as a general inspiration:

babyshower-square-pic

I loved this napkin ring idea! I went to Michael’s and found some chevron grey paper and cut stripes for napkin rings. I made them even prettier by using a martha stewart boarder paper cutter to cut flowers along the edge! After you cut them out with the edge maker, just wrap a ribbon around it for a finishing touch!

babyshower-napkins

You can buy this paper puncher right here: http://shop.marthastewart.com/Martha-Stewart-Crafts-Punch-Around-The/A/B00455VGNQ.htm

babyshower-MSpaperpunch

Then I found a cute pattern for an owl to crochet, and I made a set to hang over the cake! This is how it all turned out:

babyshower-pic3

babyshower-pic1

I made this ‘its a girl’ sign using felt and chevron yellow paper for the letters! :)

babyshower-pic2

Owl Crochet in Grey and Yellow! :)
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You can also find these printables to bring everything together. I found these on etsy:

babyshower-printables

You can find the etsy listing here: http://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/127928586/yellow-and-gray-polka-dot-chevron-baby?ref=br_feed_21

We played ‘baby shower bingo’… everyone loved it!! :) :)

You can find the template and rules here: http://www.parents.com/baby/shower/games/fun-baby-shower-games/

For more yellow chevron babyshower ideas, check out my pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/VAGirlBlog/baby-shower-planning/

For food, we provided a buffet with chicken, salad, fish, and a few other things, and cupcakes and a cake for desert. :)

Posted in pop-culture perhaps, shoppingwith 147 Comments →

Government ShutDown: Day 310.03.13

Day 3 of the Government Shut Down

work-end

The latest article from GoogleNews is:

Analysis: U.S. government shutdown fight could morph into debt limit superstorm

I thought at first this would last a week at the most. The government would be up and running by Monday…

Maybe not!!

Maybe I should consider alternative career options.

Federal employees are blocked from seeking other employment while they are furloughed. This is according to ethics laws and policies at each federal department. So, that means that federal staff who have dedicated their entire careers to their public service jobs are now entirely dependent on their own savings. People across the country are suffering from government services being shut down or their own salaries being put on hold. There is no guarantee that federal employees will be paid after the furlough ends. A separate bill has to be passed through congress in order for that to happen.

I can imagine that people who love their jobs are left feeling that they are not sure what to do now. There is no ability to plan for even a short trip for feds who have the money to travel, since everyone is just waiting around, hoping the next day will be better.

For now, some feds are at least enjoying a little bit of sunshine and trying to stay positive. But they are glued to the news and holding their breath, putting plans on hold for trips and even weddings… unsure of how long they will have to fare without a paycheck.

Feds who are working are guaranteed a paycheck but are not getting paid during the furlough and will only receive a paycheck after the furlough ends.

FurloughCartoon

:O :O :O

Posted in government, in the news, Local Life, pop-culture perhapswith 74 Comments →

How was YOUR summer??09.15.13

summer-is-over

Apparently I’m not having the best summer ever. So, I am not that sad that it is over.

First… The dentist replaces one of my caps in July and then tells me, after the fact, that cold foods for 6-8 weeks might be painful. I ask him, “You Mean I can’t have ICE CREAM for the rest of the summer?” I am shocked. He could have mentioned this before.

He responds… “uhhhh… yea, I guess SO. sorry.”

WOW. Dentists need to think about what they’re saying.

And it was true, it was so strange how much it hurt every time I accidentally had something cold… not even cold water was okay. I felt like such an old lady asking for water with no ice at restaurants. Not to mention I haven’t had frozen yogurt since JUNE!

Now, Its mid-September and I just had yogurt 2 days ago for the first time without noticing any pain!! finally.

So then, in early August, of course, someone stole my wallet right from under my nose. That was dumb. I think there’s a post about it right before this one.

In late august…. – I broke my nose….

My little adorable jack russell terrier jumped up while I was bending over to pick him up… and slammed right into my nose! It was the loudest crack and the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. I went black and really blurry for a while… I mean, my vision. My fiancee went to get ice and I kept it on ice and couldn’t stop cryyyying from the pain… but also laughing bc I felt so dumb about the freak accident.

I was in disbelief that it was actually broken. It didnt look too bad after I iced it. This was two thursdays ago, so I stayed home friday and kept it on ice.

On friday I also went to the dr. he said he thought it was broken. I still didn’t believe it, even though he jiggled my nose (yea that felt weird) and looked at it. He sent me downstairs to get ex-rays. My primary care dr is absolutely the best, and practices at VA Medical Alliance, in Springfield, VA. If you are looking for a highly experienced, thoughtful and caring doctor, go there!! He is great. I got ex-rays right away since conveniently, the ex-ray place is in the same building and so you just take your ‘order’ right downstairs and they see you right away!!

So, then my Dr. called me on Monday himself!! Did I say how nice he is?? I really didn’t realize Drs dont always call themselves, when my fiancee needed an ex-ray, he got a letter in the mail 2 weeks later that he needed surgery – from his lame dr.- I thought all Drs. just called you directly. heee

So, my dr. told me that I needed to go see a specialist … my nose was broken!! He sounded serious, but I still thought I could go to the beach and I would be fine with going to the Drs. after I got back. It would suck if the only vacation I had taken in 2 years got foiled by a broken nose!!

At that point, i was taking like, 800 mg of advil, advised by him, so I wasn’t in any pain, and didnt think it was a huge deal. When I looked at my nose, it looked fine. I didn’ realize it was still swollen so you couldn’t tell how bad it was by just looking in the mirror. I set up a specialist appt for late the following week. I would have preferred to stay at the beach (labor day week) the full week but knew I should at least listen to my dr…. since he is so nice. :)

Went to a specialist who also had a specialty plastic surgery (just in case!). I really thought this would be a quick appointment and we’d have the rest of the week and weekend to relax. I hadn’t looked in the mirror much since We had just gotten home late the night before. As I sat in the examining chair, he shined the light on my nose while he held up a mirror. My nose was completely caved in on one side and the top part was completely crooked. With the light shining down, there was a clear zig-zag where my regular strait nose bone used to be. I was horrified… gross !!The Dr. said that the side that got hit crashed into the other side pushing it out on the other side, when Sparkee slammed into me. (wow)

And, he said I needed surgery Right Away! I was like, what, this ruins everything! He scheduled me in for surgery the very next morning.

What transpired following the surgery was the most painful experience of my life. And I’ve had pancreatitis (whereby I drove myself to the hospital, lol!)

There was a cast on the outside and on the inside of my nose. I couldnt breathe through my nose. The minute the pain killers started wearing off,… i felt like DYING. Some would call me a wimp… I would agree. But, it definitely was worse than when sparkee broke it 2 weeks ago!

Definition
By Mayo Clinic staff
A broken nose, also called a nasal fracture, is a break or crack in a bone in your nose — often the bone over the bridge of your nose.

Common causes of a broken nose include contact sports, physical fights, falls and motor vehicle accidents that result in facial trauma.

Signs and symptoms of a broken nose include pain, swelling and bruising around your nose and under your eyes. Your nose may look crooked, and you may have difficulty breathing.

Treatment for a broken nose may include procedures to realign your nose. Surgery usually isn’t necessary for a broken nose.

:P :P :P :P

Posted in doggy, Healthcarewith 186 Comments →

Union Station: Watch your Wallet !08.02.13

Union-Station-Washington-D.C.

I was in union station, grabbing a coffee, taking a breather… It was a weekday morning and I had been at a conference at a nearby hotel. I bought some coffee at Le Pain Quoditien, located right by the door of the entrance to the main level.. by the flowers-door… and as I got up to grab some sugar,… someone lifted my wallet!!!!

I just got up, turned around for 3 seconds, to grab some sugar for my coffee.. and I never saw my wallet again. The thief worked fast, he/she charged a $60 metro card, a $10 something at one of the nearby gift shops, and over $200 at a DC – Marshalls!!!

Marshalls?? Really? That’s where you go with a stolen credit card??
Okay… what – ever.

It wasn’t two hours later that the bank was mad at me that I had waited until I was feeling safe at home before I called them. What with my metro card and ALL my cash gone, I had to take a cab to my mom’s office (luckily she works downtown), she paid for my cab, and set me on my way with a metro card and additional cash, and a bottle of water (to cheer me up…:) )

On my way back to my office… I look through my purse… my badge is gone. It was in my Wallet…. I either need my badge or my driver’s license to get into my building… I was completely SOL. Despite my fiancée and his parents working in my building… there was no way in without some form of identification.

So, I shamefully get off the train going towards work and take it in the opposite direction… Vienna. Luckily I still had my car keys. I walked to the metro parking lot after getting off that long-ass metro ride and felt completely safe again once I got in my car.

Then I got locked out of my house an hour later….

I’m having a week.

I haven’t mentioned how I started doing squats this past Sunday and did… 25 of them… all at the same time. Apparently you’re not supposed to do that. I just saw a video on you-tube about it and it looked so easy. So, I thought I would just incorporate them into my lazy sit-up work out routine. And, so when I say “walked to the metro” or anywhere else for that matter… I really mean HOBBLED.

I filed a report about my stolen wallet at union station’s security desk website. I called security and they said I had to file a “lost and found” report online. AS IF its “lost”? But I did it anyway. I would be shocked if someone ever calls me back.

I have traveled all across Europe and all over the US and even Latin America and have never lost my wallet… and yet it gets stolen 15 miles from my house! That’s DC for you. And I was considering actually buying a condo in the Union Station area. NOT ANYMORE !

Its sad. This is why Virginia is the best place to live… its SO SAFE HERE! :)

Posted in Local Life, pop-culture perhapswith 680 Comments →

A little busy…07.11.13

busy

Its been forever since I’ve posted. I was just reminded that I have a lot going on right now. I didnt even realize it. I guess when you are busy, someone else needs to point out how busy you are.

Its like when you forget to eat because you have a ton of papers to write…? grad school…? I know im not the only one who lost 20 pounds bc they forgot to eat in grad school… right ??

Okay, so first, I have been buried at work. People think that just because you can leave at 5 or 5:30 you’re lucky… no. You get home and you’re exhausted from the long day you’ve had. Being a fed is tiring, it drains your soul… lol.

The only think I want to do when I get home is lay down in bed! I have high plans to go to the pool, the gym… walk the dog… make dinner… but… No. None of those things happen very often. I am just glad I have a dog walker who takes Sparkee out in the afternoon so I dont have to rush home and take him out right when I get there. I do have to remember to feed him…. luckily he reminds me ;)

So then, I also happen to be attempting to plan a wedding! WAAAAAAT. You know whats fun about it…….. pinterest, and twitter. Everything else is just WORK! So, I actually havent gotten very far beyond making too many pinterest boards and perusing and following wedding vendors on twitter.

I need a planner !!!

But you know what comes with hiring a planner…..? FINDING A PLANNER.

There are tons of planners in the DC area, but you have to interview them, peruse their former weddings and their blogs and websites to make sure they they match your style, understand you, and then you have to figure out if you can afford them… LOL!

Okay… so I go around in circles with wedding planning: first from local to away wedding… it just popped in my head last night (as i was reviewing the Georgetown westin venue) that there is a westin in ST. JOHNS that IS ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL… WHY DONT WE JUST FREAKING HAVE THE WEDDING THERE!!! ??????

So, there’s that.

Then, there’s the planner vs. day-of coordinator debate. SOME VENUES have their own very helpful planners!! So, why would I spend an extra $$$$ to hire a planner for a venue which hasnt been selected so that I will then have 2 PLANNERS to deal with ?!?!?!

Am I over thinking it? Whats wrong with me…. Why am I worried about everything? lol.

ANY-way

Then in the midst of all this wedding planning I am just avoiding…. I GOT PROMOTED!!

Because work is more fun than wedding planning. THERE. I SAID IT. Its TRUE. Ive spent the last year focusing on getting promoted and have not done any wedding planning. :O :O

I’d rather review medicaid waivers than conduct a logistical analysis for which venue has the best value while still being close enough to my church…

heheeeeeeee

Okay then… I got addicted to crocheting. Because… when youre too tied to moove, nothing says brain relax more than wrapping beautiful colors around your fingers and twisting htem around in knots.

I kid not. (haha no punn intended)

I even wrote a blog article about it!! HERE: http://thedcladies.com/author/sylvia-sosa/

So that comes to the other reason I’ve been kind of busy… not only am I addicted to crochet but I also signed up to be a blogger on “The DCLadies” blog… which is really cute!! (thedcladies.com)

Anyway. So I forgot my cousin was pregnant, I just found out bc apparently she is scheduled for a c-section later this month and it conflicts with the baby shower I am planning my sister in law. (yes i will post a blog on baby shower planning later)

So, i asked my mom and she was like- uh, yea you might have forgotten, you have a lot going on.

And thats when I was like… I DO ?????

Maybe I do….

Maybe I shouldnt feel so bad…

;)

;)

;)

Posted in pop-culture perhapswith 1,004 Comments →

Doggy Birthday Party04.14.13

9

Sparkee, my Jack Russel Terrier has turned 10 years old! This is a major celebratory event, since, its a freaking miracle I have kept him ALIVE this long… or anything ALIVE for that happens to be completely dependent on me remembering to feed, clothe, feed him. Luckily he is a brilliant jack russell terrier! So, that means he learned quickly that he has to remind me to feed him, take him out, come home.. etc… ;)

Luckily, I also had considerable help. < < it takes a village >> Particularly when I left him to go to London, Rome, Prague, Athens, Boston, …. etc etc. Luckily is from a good family. My mom, his ex-daddy, my mom… yes. Who knows where he would be without his family!!

So, I felt the need to celebrate that he has managed to stay alive for this long Despite, having ME as a mother.

Well, generally, I shower him with love, kisses, and all the praise a doggy could ever want, and teach him new things every day… and take him to the vet. It just the little things, like, ongoing maintenence. Dogs are creatures that need constant attention!! If I had to do it all again… i would. I love this breed too. I had two jack russells growing up so, I knew I wanted another one once I left home.

Sparkee has also been quite the sickly doggy, especially the first few years of his life. First he had the most sensitive tummy, so I had to make him customized meals of boiled chicken and rice. Then he got lyme disease and had to receive a series of anti-biotics and I was so scared he wasn’t going to make it! But now, he is as healthy as ev-er! He eats a high protein low grain diet (“Call of the Wild” dog food is amazing) and I spare no expense on all his wonderful treats and healthy food. He plays outside and has so much strength and stamina, he doesn’t seem a day over nine…

Sparkee has also been the most consistent man in my life over the last 10 years (hehe!) and is always there to keep me company, a shoulder to cry on when ‘boys’ have been less than wonderful, a source of entertainment, and love, and keeps my feet warm at nights…. In fact he is lying right next to me as I type this. He is such a sweetheart. I can only hope my * future * children can be as perfect as him!!

Yes… future children, you have a lot to live up to!! :)

CIMG1303

GMmonument1

sparkee-1-bday

sparkee-3-bday

Posted in doggywith 1,228 Comments →

Too sad for Chick-Lit ?04.14.13

Update 4/14/13: I am still waiting for a new Mariam Keys book!! She’s one of those writers that will have you laughing and crying the whole time and you’ll have to finish the whole book in one night. Come to think of it, I haven’t found any good chick-lit in a long time. Maybe since this last post lol…

Posted originally on March 28th, 2010:

I just finished reading Marian Keyes “Is there Anybody Out There”. It was so good, I resorted to downloading the book online from Kobobooks.com because I kept leaving it at home and it was all I could do to keep myself from thinking about it all day long. I know, its just chick-lit… or so I thought, when I bought the mindless (expectantly) book from the book store in Union Station when I was waiting for my train to come for my terrible trip to the boonies: Danville, VA. (Ugh, so annoying I can’t discuss it).

So, the first part of the book was just as I expected: girl heartbroken, hates guy who won’t call her back, is living at home, which is far far away from where she lived before (which was in this case, she’s now in Ireland), and she gets wrapped up in her family life so much that her parents drive her nuts and she decides to finally just go back home to “find” her boyfriend. (I say that in quotes ominously… )

The book opens up describing the main character, Anna, as being all beat up- she has to stay in bed, and the bed is on the ground level because she can’t walk; she has a broken knee, scars on her face, and all you can do is guess there was a terrible event. (no details yet) (chick-lit analysis: her physical wounds perhaps parallel her mental wounds; she can feel her physical pain, and yet we don’t know the source of her mental pain… ;) She is stunted physically, and emotionally, though it is just forshadowing the extent of emotional pain at the begining of the book).

The charachter, ‘Anna’ is from New York City, so, I assumed she had been attacked. I also assumed that the reason her boyfriend didn’t return her calls (she called him every day and left him messages on his cell phone) is because he is also either (1) even more banged up than her and can’t return calls or (2) feels so terrible he couldn’t protect her that he can’t face her or (3) is the One who beat her up… and is actually in jail but she is in denial about it so far…

These all seemed like a normal chick-lit. Well, except for the violence in the plot, but still- girl, girl’s boyfriend won’t call her, etc….

This was all perfectly fine. She sulks about the ex-boyfriend and then discuss her crazy family. Sounds about right. But then, the story turns.

In part 2- [I am reading while sitting at a booth in a deserted conference…] it starts describing the couple’s life together, how they met, how they fell in love instantly… got married… and lived in NYC. She was a publicist and it never says what kind of job he had. Then, it describes, later on in the story…. that they were in a car accident, and the guy dies!

So, the whole time, while she is calling his cell and emailing him and you’re used to hating the guy and reveling in her misery—you discover HE IS DEAD!!

Then the story changes, it gets all depressing… but now you’re hooked and you keep reading. You realize you’re reading through her entire grief cycle, she is going to séances where she is trying to talk to her dead husband, how she goes through days and weeks without smiling, knowing what time it is, or talking to other people. How she buries herself in work and does well at work and basically never comes home, and how she tries to ‘talk’ to him every way she can…

It’s all so sad yet I couldn’t put the book down… I just have to hear more… and, I guess, wallow in her misery…

SO it gets me thinking, is misery contagious? Can you just be miserable or love the misery that someone else is in? Why was this book so addictive, so much that I literally had to buy the online version so I could read it during lunch at work? I mean, there are so many movies and stories that are full of misery and they always win the awards…

Or, is it Marian Keyes? I love her books. I mean, give her all the credit, all her books are completely addictive; I can’t put one down when I start reading it. I discovered her at the airport in 2005 when I was flying to London. I was at BWI in the lounge area for British Airways. Since then, I have loved her books. Ironically, all the characters are from London and Ireland!

I don’t know, but there was this immense compassion I felt, and brought me to realize, about mourning the death of someone. The character in the book realized at the end, that she didn’t feel better until she experienced the full year without him; an entire cycle with every birthday and every anniversary, without him. And on the day after the anniversary of their accident (taxi car crash), she realized that he wasn’t coming back.

Nobody close to me has ever died so its hard for me to imagine that kind of pain. I was, I guess, amazed and drawn into it. I was sad while reading the book, holding on to every detail and wanting everything to be better, resolved. And yet, her ‘feeling better’ a year later, that really didn’t do it for me. The character’s sister jokes that it was better that ‘Adien’ died rarther than cheated on her and left her. I don’t know. I’d rather my ex’s be dead if they’d hurt me that much. ;)

The character said finally, her husband’s life had been ‘completed’, not ‘cut short’.

I’m still sad.

Posted in pop-culture perhapswith 2,712 Comments →

Mama said…03.14.13

KeepCalm

Its another drama filled day and I stumbled across a similar poster – so I made this one myself! :)

You can create your own ‘Keep Calm’ right here: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/

And for your entertainment (because you now have the song in your head…)

Posted in pop-culture perhapswith 1,178 Comments →

Wedding Style03.03.13

bridalsalon3

(photo courtesy of OneWed.com: Nordstrom Wedding Suite)

I am starting to realize why all my friends go to NYC to shop for a bridal gown. The selection here is sad, few, and far between. The only fighting chance you have for getting the ‘dress’ in the DC area is if you go to a trunk show. (more later on pros and cons of trunk shows)

It is fun to flip through bridal magazines, or in my case, swipe through– all of the key bridal mags now have digital versions and I easily download on my iPad to save trees. :)

But what happens… when you see an amazing dress and you say to yourself… I WANT THAT DRESS…. And…. You live in the DC area.

DC: The land of posh restaurants, overpaid everything, expensive homes: Still Not a fashion capital.

So. This is what you do: You look up the dress online (never-mind trying to find a price), look up the stores in your area that have the dress… and then CALL the store to see if they * actually * have the dress.

9 times out of 10: No they do not have the dress. They still have dresses from 2011 that they are trying to sell.

The thing with wedding dress style is… you may not notice the details of the bride’s dress, but there are certainly trends. The trend in 2012 was lace. The trend in 2013 is more of a ballgown style with lace and/or crystals, and a ribbon tied around your waist. What will be the trend in 2014?? Hard to imagine… but it will be different. And 2011 dresses are still pushing that ‘big shelf’ dress with the side hemming. That is so over.

So anyway. Today I felt compelled to write about my frustration because I love several dresses and NONE of them are ANYWHERE.

What happened: I fell in love with the entire Rosa Clara bridal gown line months ago. I downloaded the ipad app (it is like heaven for your wedding planning eyes). Soon to discover: Rosa Clara has like 6 different ‘lines’! It is annoying. I have to re-flip thru all the dresses on my app I had ‘favorited’ and then go back to the original lists to see what brand they are. Turns out, I lean towards regular Rosa Clara, and the ‘Two’ line.

No one in DC carries the regular Rosa Clara line. Except, Chevy Chase Bridals used to carry it. They are now out of business. (go figure)

Rosa Clara Two- carried by at least 3 stores in the DC-VA area. I have been calling these stores for weeks. No call backs. That means they probably don’t have the dresses. TODAY I call Hannelore’s, which is a wonderful (wonderful really) bridal gown store in Old Town Alexandria. I was there for their Ian Stewart trunk show in January; they have great staff who are really nice and helpful. So, nothing against them. But I ask them—- do you have The Rosa Clara Two collection (it says they do on their website). YES the sales person says. I ask: How about the following dresses: Danfgelo, Dance, Dalia… NO. Says the Sales Person. “We don’t have any dresses that start with ‘D’.”

THAT’S Rosa Clara Two’s entire 2013 LINE.

They have none of the boleros either. (I was looking for them when I went to the trunk show). She confirmed on the phone. The sales lady explained that the boleros come with that line of dresses. (keep in mind they are sold separately but not too pricey, comparatively)

Nordstrom’s Tysons (McLean, VA) Bridal Suite had the bolero #704 (lace jacket) but not the corresponding dress, but they do have other ‘Two’ ‘D’- name (2013) dresses.

So there you have it. Hannelore’s… they have a lot of OTHER great stuff. They have a huge store. So this is a huge disappointment.

Unfortunately Rosa Clara’s flagship stores are only in Dallas and Miami.

Sales lady was nice enough to also let me know that they could (maybe) order a sample for me but it would cost around $150 to have the dress shipped to try on. Gee…. Okay. Maybe. I guess its less expensive than traveling to one of their flagship stores.

Hannelore’s does have a lot of other nice dresses. I almost picked an Ian Stewart dress during their trunk show in January. But I just kept thinking to myself… What About that Rosa Clara Dress.. how do THEY LOOK ON ME… I bet it would look AMAZING… Maybe we will never know.

It seems you are better off being anywhere else in the COUNTRY other than the DC area to find a designer dress. Key designer bridal gowns are all over Texas, California, Michigan, Chicago, WI, etc… And so are their trunk shows. Rarely does a trunk show pass thru DC.

While I was on the phone, I asked the Hannelore’s sales lady if they had Martina Liana dresses. She said YES. I asked if she had any of the ones I LIKED (I read off the style numbers.) Hannelore’s only had 1 of the 4 dresses I liked.

Below is a spreadsheet of all the larger bridal stores with some of the more popular gowns. The chart doesn’t have every designer, just the designers where I liked more than one dress. Another thing to keep in mind: DC has a 9 or 10% sales tax. In VA it is about 4.5%

Bridal Salon list- per designer

I recently came across an article on the Harriet Kassman Bridal Salon, located in DC on Wisconsin Avenue. I’m going to take a little ‘dress shopping’ break and then maybe I’ll go again. This was an interesting article on the bridal salon. It sounds perfect… The Washingtonian: Harriet Kassman Bridal Salon.

On Trunk Shows:

The thing with the trunk show is that they get a majority of the new collection in the bridal salon. But, it’s only there for 2 days. You usually get about a 10% discount on a dress if you purchase it during the trunk show. But, who can decide on a dress right away?? I always have to sleep on it… and then usually I’m busy the next day so I can’t think about it until the following day. So, I tell myself, despite the 10% discount and maybe ‘free customization’… I will wait to find the perfect dress… on my time.

;)

;)

Posted in Local Life, shopping, Weddingwith 947 Comments →

National Marguerita Day!!02.22.13

Truly a day to commemorate:


Fast Tube by Casper

:)

Posted in pop-culture perhapswith 4,948 Comments →

Sequestration #GetReady02.20.13

Sequestration

(Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/morning_call/2013/02/3-reasons-why-congress-wont-stop.html)

DESPITE being a fed on the “inside” (as it were), the sequestration is a bit intangible to me. Being a regular fed is not much different from being a non-fed. I have no idea what is getting cut, when, where… etc. Even though I know what is going on in each program in the bureau, see how bad it could get, it is all as vague to me as it probably is to you. Maybe I’m stuck in my own head about it. Maybe it is because I am not in senior management, or not privy to widespread budget plans, but I haven’t heard anyone utter the word sequestration.

If anything, the only question that comes up in general is ‘budget cuts’. What gets asked: What about budget cuts? Should we be worried? We have been told that contracts may get cut by 50%. Sux for contractors… but this hasn’t come to fruition yet, at least not with any of the contracts I’m aware of. Maybe its part of the ‘sequestration’.

Everyone likes to criticize the feds. Overpaid, underworked… no… wrong about the getting overpaid part- that’s people who have been here FOREVER. And I just feel sorry for them most of the time. They just keep working and getting their salary. They’re not out enjoying their retirement with their family, or getting sunshine in the Caribbean. No- they’re working. We don’t even get 6 week vacations like they do over at the UN! So, if you’ve been here 50 years or you started your federal job when you were 20 (translation you spent your 20’s working instead of traveling Europe, you poor poor soul), then I guess you might be considered “overpaid”. But you also have way more responsibility than most people. So… they can have [a tiny bit] of fun with that.

But I digress. Sequestration. The topic was on the radio today, which reminded me I should give it some thought or at least figure out what sequestration means.

Today, on the Huffington Post: “Conventional wisdom currently is that the sequester deadline will pass and then Washington will come up with some sort of compromise solution. Perhaps just in time for the next self-inflicted crisis, the threat of a federal government shutdown on March 27 if Congress does not approve funding.” {Oh good. How optimistic. ;) ] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joe-peyronnin/sequester-insanity_b_2721620.html

According to POLITICO: “President Barack Obama’s sequester strategy is all about one word: shame. With the parties at an impasse on stopping across-the-board budget cuts set to hit March 1, the White House is prepping another multimedia, cross-country drive to stoke public outrage against congressional Republicans.” (ps I editorialized the bold on the word Shame. You’re welcome.) http://www.politico.com/story/2013/02/obamas-sequestration-strategy-shame-87829.html

Wikipedia provides a 1-sentence explanation of Sequestration, and their page was last updated on Valentine’s Day of this year! ;) U.S. legal procedure in which automatic spending cuts are triggered, notably implemented in the Budget Control Act of 2011. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sequestration)

CBS News asked this morning if Sequestration “really be that bad”. Their answer provided in the article: “In addition to forcing reductions of 13 percent for defense programs and 9 percent for other programs, the White House Budget Office reports sequestration would also mean, among other things, reduced unemployment benefits for over 3.8 million people jobless for six months or longer; 70,000 Head Start students removed from the pre-kindergarten program; layoffs of 10,000 teachers and other school staffers; and fewer border security agents and facilities for detained illegal immigrants.” [That sounds bad. ] http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57570191/will-sequestration-really-be-that-bad/

And Inquiring minds want to know: What will happen in the stock market?

Forbes says: “The positive payoff is the reduction of the federal budget deficit by 5% a year. This is called being between a rock and a hard place. … Add that cut to the renewed charge of a 2% payroll tax on individuals earning up to $114,000 a year– and you reduce GDP by another 0.6% according to estimates I’ve seen. That adds up to a combined drag on economic activity of possibly 1.1% at a time where the nation’s economy is growing modestly at a rate of 1.7% to 2.00%. When you subtract 1.1% from 2 % you get growth at best of 0.9%– definitely not enough to drive the unemployment rate down to the 6.5% level. It’s a dangerous time for President Obama and for investors, who have enjoyed the rise back to very nearly the historic peak for the Dow of 14,100.” (http://goo.gl/0LXNs)

Look on the bright side: if you are under 35, you could watch the market plummet. (if this all happens). You should have minimal debt (being under 35, you better.) while making enough income (provided you don’t get laid off and you have a college/graduate degree with a good job). SO, when this all passes in a year or so, you will be ready to take the stock market at its helm in its lower dip and ride it back up the bull!

#GetReady

bullmarket

;)

Posted in government, in the news, Local Lifewith 1,140 Comments →

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