Posted in pop-culture perhapswith No Comments →

Maybe Build?07.24.15

construction building house clipart

construction building house clipart

I have been talking to various builders lately because I’m still curious about building a house.

Maybe because the housing market is dead right now, and all my favorite homes have already sold (they were gone in a week!) and I’m just antsy and stressed… I’ve only been seriously looking for about 2 weeks (LOL I am so impatient). I’m feeling kind of lost trying to find a house within my price range, in a neighborhood that’s both fun and close to work… (wat is that too much to ask!?) There were really nice homes and tons of options earlier in the spring… but not anymore.

So, my mind has wandered to building my own house. I’ve built before, in 2002 out in Calvert County (now an investment property)… It was fun, easy, and came out to be a great investment.

The thing with builders now, is that they really need to learn how to deal with millennials. This means:
1) Having a website
2) Answering email
3) Returning phone calls
4) Not being patronizing to a client because they “sound young”.

One builder I met with (after their website was basically empty) started talking down to me as if I couldn’t afford something. He was an older man, an architect, and im sure used to dealing with a much older clientele. I asked him hard questions, about his building methods, warranties, customization options, existing floor plans, references, homes we could look at that he’s already built, and standardized specs. He talked to me like I didn’t even know what building a house involved. I’m like- CONGRATS, I’m Not PICKING YOU. I guess he forgot he’s in the DC area and people tend to make more money here… young people tend to make a good salaries here and can afford things like houses. He was a complete waste of time.

Then there was another builder who said he was “too busy” to get back to me “this week”. He actually told me that I wasn’t worth his time. IN an EMAIL! I was like- really- you’re going to put that in writing? Well, good to know up front that I’m not worth it. I’m glad that you have eliminated yourself from this search bc you’re saving me some time. We hadn’t even discussed what house I wanted to build. Was he getting too many inquiries? Maybe. But the guy was a total jerk. So if he’s pushing away every inquiry before they even say what they want to build, like he did to me, then I doubt he’s going to have any long term business. Since he was referred to by another home builder (who didn’t have an office in the area), I circled back to that builder and forwarded the guy’s rude dismissive email. The next day, the rude builder accidentally called my phone and left this long message about a house that he was working on and all the problems! He thought he was talking to the house engineer or something. Glad he’s off my list.

So really, home builders need to get up to speed on communicating and get ORGANIZED.

On another note- finding a lot is HARD. There’s so many messed up lots that you can’t build on. And they’re FOR SALE. Some even say – lot for sale, “not build-able” on the listing. I wonder who would buy a lot that you can’t build on. 😀

I keep circling back to just buying an existing home. Thinking… why am I making this so complicated. Why cant I just be normal… Then i remember, as I said in another post… there’s just so many OLD houses around here. And the renovated ones tend to disappear before I even get the chance to go see them. We saw one house last weekend that had been renovated—4 bedrooms, beautiful kitchen, walk out to a big, fenced in flat back yard… I was optimistic despite the high price point. It was in a cute neighborhood and I thought it might be worth it.

— but the bedrooms were so small they hardly fit a bed in them, one room definitely did not have enough room for a bed… And- there was NO basement. None. I mean, not even an unfinished basement. And one thing I definitely need is a driveway. If it doesn’t have a garage, FINE, but at least some sort of parking. This house had created a ‘drive way’ with pebbles… and there was an electrical pole blocking half of it, and a huge tree on the edge, so it would be very precarious to get on it. Let alone the fact that it was barely big enough to fit one car. The house had nice finishings throughout… it all looked very fancy in the pictures. I thought -for sure- they just forgot to mention the basement and there was something there. They must have spent too much money on the reno because the house is almost $500k and the neighborhood sales have been in the $300s. LOL. With 4 unusable bedrooms? And the Master was barely big enough for a queen sized bed and hardly no room for a dresser.. two closets that would barely fit my shoe collection. SIGH. Pretty though. Its been sitting for almost a month now. They just lowered the price $10k but I dont think I would buy that house for over $310… it would need a whole new addition just to deal with the bedroom issue! Maybe would be good for 1 person. That 4th bedroom may fit a dog’s bed in it! I’m not going to post the listing here, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings 😉

Posted in Local Lifewith 1 Comment →


house in shopping cart - no property release

house in shopping cart – no property release

As per the typical ‘next step’ of a married person… we have been house hunting.

Since I work in Rockville, MD, its come to my attention that the traffic SUCKS… we might actually have to move to Maryland. WHAT… cross the BRIDGE??? I know.

And I want a house with a yard, because of course I have Sparkee… and ‘walking’ him leads to a series of arguments and negotiations with my husband…

The houses in Fairfax County are not only small rickety townhouses or split levels, but also old. Really. Old. And not cute.

I know you’re like- what about Arlington or Alexandria. It just seems so far from Rockville, it’s a no-win situation.

So, my mind has wandered to the other side of the bridge and has found some nice options in MoCo and PGC. The thing is… so those houses are kind of old too. Really Old! Especially in Rockville. Im like—this house was built 30 years ago and its being listed for $495… when is that ROOF going to need replacing??

So then, I started looking at new construction.

I’m kind of familiar with new construction. There is a lot of new construction going on in MoCo and PG counties. There’s townhouses and single family homes. So here’s a rundown about what I think about the new construction.

There are 2 ways to go with new construction: find your own builder and buy your own lot, or use a corporate builder that’s building a neighborhood/community of homes.

I’ve looked into both, so heres what I know:

1) Corporate builders
These are the main builders: NVHomes, Ryan Homes, Ryland Homes, Beazer and DRHorton. There are others but these are the most visible ones and the ones I’ve worked with and spoken to.
NVHomes and Ryan Homes are actually the same company!!
– NV Homes is the more ‘upscale’ version of Ryan. So basically, NVHOmes has all the typical upgrades people want: stainless steel, hardwood floors, nice finishings, crown moulding, as standard—and charges you for it. Ryan homes start with really basic features (carpet, not even granite in some cases), smaller sized homes, and lets you upgrade if you want.
NVHomes has houses and townhouses next to all of the Ryan Homes in the same communities usually- and I’ve found them in Laurel, Silver Spring, Greenbelt, and Clarksburg (Clarksburg is so cute!!). Ryan Homes are also in the same communities.
It took me a while to see that there is no major difference between NV and Ryan except space that is or is not added in the base price, so this was a painful and frustrating going around in circles time.

Coming from the perspective that I don’t even like TH’s bc of all the stairs, I still considered them … bc sometimes it seemed as if they could be a good value. (COULD). I have found that there are really only about 2 different models for TH’s, regardless on the builder: Small, and Large.

A) Small

TThese are the ones that typically range in the 1900 sq ft range. You can add the 4th floor which is not standard and runs around $40k, (they get you in with the base price of @$350k!), or, get an end unit, which is typically around $17,000 … all which end up bringing the price of the larger unit. So, what is the point of that? (I’ve been quoted $40k by NV and Ryan Homes)

B) Large –
They tend to have a good lay-out but I struggle with the notion of having the kitchen be smack in the middle of the room flanking the dining and living room on each side without any where else to go… you’ll be stuck with that ‘after dinner food smell’ every time. It makes me wonder if you always feel like you’re ‘in’ the kitchen. I dont know…

I particularly liked the NVHomes in Greenbelt. But jeeze- the price is $440k base… which means that you can buy a house with an entire yard for that price… so… depends if you actually want a TH. And hardwood floors were only standard in the kitchen and to upgrade to all hardwood was over $6k. On the plus side, these THs are big (@ 2900 sq ft) and they have a small yard. (big enough for sparkee).

In the end, I am gravitating towards ‘walkable’ friendly communities. So, there’s that. Maybe its going to be back to older homes… maybe renovated ones. We wont get into the logistics of a renovation… 😉

3) Custom Builders
Custom- of course- why not?? Well, they’re nice because they dont have ‘pre-set’ plans that have already been approved by the county so they are able to arrange the floor plan the way you want it! If you want 2 huge walk in closets, no problem! You want a side entrance? YAS! You want a finished attic… definitely! And they wont even charge you extra for ‘modifications’.

The Cons: They typically don’t build with their own money, they build with yours. So, you have to get a “construction loan”, which is not available at all banks (particularly not FCUs). You might have to pay the ongoing spending/mortgage on your un-finished house while you also pay rent on where you are temporarily living. Lenders may give you the option to allow the loan to make its own payments, like drawing funds from the total loan to make your monthly payment, but this of course will only result in more spending on your part in the end. You should watch this. Construction loans that I’ve seen so far have been typically requiring 10-20% down, which is unlike a lot of the traditional mortgage loans with smaller down payments. Also, any builder can inform you that there are extra costs for the lot, driveway, connecting to water systems, sewer, landscaping/clearing treas, building wells, as well as “impact fees”, which are $25k in Montgomery County.

Here’s a quick video on construction loans!

If you want a custom builder, you’ll have to interview them one by one to be sure you’ll be working with someone you can trust and understands what you want. I talked to a builder the other day who was being really snarky with me because I didn’t want to build a house over 3,000 square feet. Of course the builder didnt have any of that information on their rudimentary website (annoying). They said they typically don’t build homes that are under 5,000 sq ft! Im like, that’s too big. Annoying because they didn’t have any information on their website that could have saved me some time. Many custom builders are very small businesses, so you should be weary of that. You can check the registration of any builder in your state with your state’s builder registration office. Builders need to be registered with the state.

So, if you do go this way, check out lots for sale online and in the newspaper. There is a surprising amount of land available in the DC-metro area. Not saying its cheap, but its there. 😀

Posted in Local Lifewith No Comments →

Mad for Monograms05.20.15

I love Monograms. Maybe my obsession for all things personalized got released like a pandora’s box during all my wedding planning, but now I just want everything monogram!! My initials actually stayed the same when I got married so, now I get to keep every monogram I ever had and it still works!! (I call that good planning… 😉 )

We’ve all seen the necklaces, the sheets, the clutches… love those! Lately I have found the best place to buy monogramed stuff is on Etsy. Why? Probably bc they would have the latest, most different up to date things since its so easy for new artists to just post their latest creation. I also love that I can search on my phone… in bed… and I don’t even have to get up to find my credit card, I can just type in my paypal password. Dangerous! But I love it! Here’s some of my latest Etsy monogram finds:

1. I love this jacket!! Its all rainy and cold today… so I wish I had one of these right now! 😀
Get it here: monogrammadness12

2. HOW adorable would this be in your kitchen? Pick your kitchen colors… perfect match! ALso great house-warming gift…
Get it here: JorgaPorga

3. Another gorgeous kitchen find… how perfect would this be for your next party? If you’re anything like me, you’re cooking dinner and you get half of it on you! You can wear on apron and be sure you look fabulous!
Get it here: SomethingYouAprons

4. Love this tote bag! Its durable and it has your cute initial? Goes with everything, winter, spring, summer, and fall… Its going to be hard for me to pick a color. This is something I might have gotten my bridesmaids too. I was always wanting to give them gifts that would be useful even after the wedding…
Get it here: SimplyStephsMonogram

5. Also love this totebag! (so many bags, so little time…) Love the fact that its canvas and I know the ‘actual brand’ people love, but hey- I just love the utility not the pricetag! So, this could not be more perfect in terms of price and the fact that it would have my initials! :)
Get it here: PersonalThreads

6. Absolutely MELTING over these mason jars. They’re plastic so they’re great for outdoor parties, and personalizing them makes them so much more fun!
Get them here: MSMudPieBoutique

7. These make a great present! Bring them to your next friend’s party with your favorite bottle of wine!
Get them here: MSMudPieBoutique

8. And of course, its beach season, whats better than a cute monogram towel?
Get it here: CreationsforEleanor

9. The minute I saw these I wanted one and wanted to buy one for each of my girlfriends!! I wish I had seen them before bc I would have bought them for all my bridesmaids, heeeee…
Get it here: MSMudPieBoutique

Well these are just a few of the many adorable monogram things you can order on Etsy. To follow all my Etsy favorites, you can find me here:

Posted in pop-culture perhaps, shopping, Weddingwith 1 Comment →

Virginia Losing an All-Womens College is a Loss for Us All03.03.15

Shocking news in Virginia: one of the only women’s colleges left in the state, has claimed extreme financial hardships and is closing down at the end of the 2015 school year. Current students and students who were applying for the call will be moved to four other partner single-sex colleges and their applications will be expedited.

On March 3, 2015, Sweet Briar College announced it will close at the end of the current semester, citing financial reasons. The announcement below was made on the college’s Facebook page just before 2:00 p.m.: “With a heavy heart we are announcing that the Board of Directors has voted to close Sweet Briar College as a result of insurmountable financial challenges. The current semester will be our last, and the Class of 2015 will be our final graduating class. We know you may have questions. Please visit our transition site for answers and more information. You can also watch the video message from President Jimmy Jones.”

I attended Sweet Briar College freshman year. It was the only college I applied to. Having been at an all-girls high school and not being comfortable being too far away from home, it was the only school that I could see myself attending. Sweet Briar offered a sense of security and safety, strikingly different from all of the huge state colleges in the DC area; an opportunity to learn in a peaceful environment, and a marked priority of ensuring women have all the opportunities to study math, science, liberal arts, without the competition and social implications of learning in a co-ed environment…. it was just what I needed at the time.

I didn’t expect to make the kinds of friends I made there, and I didn’t expect to figure out a part of myself I never knew about me…. I left after freshman year due to family commitments, but my friends stayed. They all are very successful now, having gone on to law school and scientific advanced degrees.

Sweet Briar and all-women’s colleges are a huge deal for women who have not had the opportunity to learn in a single-sex environment. It was and continues to be a revelation to women everywhere who experience it for the first time, how impactful learning in that type of supportive environment can be to their mindset and future. I was lucky enough to have gotten a single-sex, all-girls learning environment through high school. But not everyone has that opportunity, due to costs and distance.

I never knew I loved the single-sex educational experience until I attended an all-girls high school and then when I got there, I never wanted it to end. Now as I read women’s powerful stories of learning in an all-girls environment in college, it reminds me – women were relishing in that single-sex environment because they had never gotten that before…. they totally needed it, and college was their first opportunity to access it.

Now with what potentially could be one less women’s college on the East Coast, there will be one less opportunity for girls who were getting lost in a co-ed educational environment to find their voice, themselves. We should rise to recognize and move—react— there should be more opportunities for women and girls to learn in a supportive, comfortable environment. Why aren’t there single-sex educational opportunities in public schools? What if we had the opportunity to learn science, math, and literature, in the college we currently attend… but in an all-girls classroom?

Should single-sex education be recognized as a priority and a norm?

I’m pretty sure my single sex education directly resulted in me dedicating my career for advocating for the lives of women and children nationally and internationally. At least, given me the perspective, diligence, and self-awareness to pursue my intellectual interests no matter what the barriers.

Sweet Briar is located about 30 minutes South of Charlottesville, VA in the heart of VA’s rolling countryside and bucolic landscapes. It has a beautiful campus with over 21 of their buildings registered in the National Historic Registrar. (source)



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Posted in in the news, Local Lifewith 62 Comments →

Is Christmas OVER…?01.12.15

The christmas tree got taken down last night… I wasn’t READY!!!! It looked so pretty over these last several weeks, all lit up with white twinkly lights, glistening red and gold bulbs, and this year we added glittery leaves that sat on the tree branches and just added a new level of sparkle. The dog had grown accustomed to hanging out under the tree, we’d been placing all of his new toys in a line, on the tree skirt… and he has just started hanging out under there. It was SO CUTE.

But last night, out of now where… my husband comes with a box and starts taking down the bulbs. There’s no way he’s going to finish taking those down tonight, I thought to myself…. Especially since I refused to help him. I just sat on the couch, knitting, hoping he would give up soon and at least get tired before he had to take down the lights… so I could still turn the tree on in the morning…


I cant believe he did the whole thing. In the morning, I looked over at the tree corner. The tree was replaced by the tree box, all tightly packed and taped up… The ultimate symbol that Christmas is OVER. He didnt even carelessly leave the tree skirt or boxes of bulbs laying around. Everything was GONE.

Now we have to face winter with NOTHING to look forward to for the next 4 MONTHS…

I know, way to bring everyone down. But im not lying… this is so depressing lol. The only thing worse than the beginning of Christmas season starting in October (yes, thank you retail) is the END of Christmas!!

I am in my
— Mourning Christmas —-


Posted in pop-culture perhapswith 82 Comments →

Wedding Day10.05.14

I know that there is a missing post in here. Between ‘wedding: 2 weeks away’ and ‘now that I’m married’… yea. That would be my wedding day.


It was a gorgeous day. I loved being the center of attention, contrary to my deepest fears. I could get used to being a bride. In fact, I want to do it all again next year! 😉

Everyone who came said they had not been to a more beautiful wedding.

I believe them. I mean, they just saw what happened, they dont know what didnt happen, what was planned, etc. And for starters, I did have one vendor who absolutely saved the day and made my day and is worth thanking over and over. I cant get into that story but ‘Something Vintage‘ is just as wonderful and reliable as everyone says they are. They are great. Highly Recommend them.

However, I cant re-hash everything yet.

I. Just. Cant.

I am just so pissed at some of my vendors, I cant even put it into words yet.

Like- how about FLORIST– who switched ALL of my flowers the day of the wedding with NO NOTICE?!?! And gave me LAME-ASS bouquets for me and my bridesmaids?!?! They were AWFUL. Of course, guests probably thought I had stayed “Under Budget” or something for them… and thats why they were so tiny and pathetic. THATS how bad they looked.

Or: how about PLANNER– who didn’t get anything right, including the ACTUAL FLOWERS – for WHICH I GAVE HER THE INVOICE WITH ALL THE DETAILS?!?!

Or: how about PLANNER – AGAIN— for taking away the guest book (aka vintage window) after cocktail hour so NOBODY SIGNED IT!!!!

Or: how about the SHUTTLE company who showed up at the wrong hotel, because the PLANNER didnt give them the right information?!?!

Or: how about the LIMO company (same as shuttle company, of course!) who got lost WITH US IN THE CAR on the way to the ceremony because he was clearly SENILE?!?!


I. Cant.

Maybe in like, 12…20… months or so…

I’m waiting for my pictures. Those have been really pretty so far.

Focus on the pictures… Like the one, at the top? love it. Love Photographer.

And the cake was perfect…, everything I asked for. And, so delicious that friends want to drive 3 hours to Charlotteville just to get some more! :)

I’m supposed to get the rest of the pictures in 2 more months. She sent me a handful and they’re gorgeous so I cant wait to see the rest!

I KNOW most people get them in like, 1 or 2 months but her contract said 3-4 months and I just loved her artistry so I’m waiting. You know, I’ll post them on my walls in my house… bc by the time I get them everyone will be sick of my wedding on facebook.

I guess they’ll have to just come to my house warming party (with a gift!) to see them…. and sign the wedding vintage window guest book….

It just hurts my brain to think about how awful some of my vendors were. How could they do that, with ZERO explanation… To This Day.



Posted in pop-culture perhapswith 276 Comments →

So, now that I’m married….09.28.14

They couldn’t just let you be married and enjoy THAT for 2 weeks….

As everyone who is newly married encounters, the next question comes up from all your friends and family is:

When are you having kids? … Can’t you just wait until you have kids?

I’m in my mid-30s and if I wanted kids, then I would have gotten married and had them a long time ago. That’s what girls did in their 20s.

I don’t fall for the hype of women who claim it is “so worth it!”. I look at them and think… umm….I don’t see your shirt filled with puke stains, having to cook for 5, and having all your spare time taken up by little critters who always need something, and never being able to just watch TV or work on a project that doesn’t involve them as “worth it”! But hey, I guess someone has to, so, have at it if you already have them.

The irony is that my master’s degree is in ‘maternal and child health’. Maybe studying about maternal mortality and infant mortality and all of the diseases and poverty … has made me a little uneasy to want kids too LOL.

But lets be honest, its RUDE to ask someone ‘when’ they are having kids. As if they should have kids. Its a sensitive subject. Some couples cant have kids, others cant AFFORD to have kids, others just are scared to be pregnant and havent worked through that yet in their heads.

SO. In the spirit of ensuring people never ask me again whether or when I’m having kids, and arming OTHER WOMEN who also have no interest in having kids at the moment, I have come up with a few really good responses. You’re welcome, women who aren’t rushing to populate the world:

Response 1:
Female Friend (child at her ankles…): So, when are YOU going to have kids?
Me: So, when are YOU going to finish college? (I admit, this is aimed at one of my cousins… 😉 )

Response 2:
Female Friend: I’m SO glad I had kids early, they’re so rewarding, it’s all been worth it. I can’t imagine my life without them! I can’t WAIT till you can have kids too!

Me: I’m so glad I went to two of the top ten universities in the world, it’s all been worth it. I cant imagine my life without my training! Do you remember when we were 19 and you said you wanted to be an attorney? I can’t WAIT till you do that!

Response 3:
Mom: I can’t wait till we have a little one of YOU running around!
Me: I can’t wait till I get another puppy next spring! I’m going to name her Ashleigh… Because, you know, you can choose a boy or a girl dog. Her nursery will be pink and green. I’m registered at Crate and Dog. 😉


Response 4:
Friend: So, are you guys planning to have kids in the next year or two?
Me: I’m planning go to Disney world, and laugh at all those sucker parents who have to deal with screaming children who are hot and tired, while I sip wine in epcot’s ‘paris’, and plan my next vacation…

Response 5:
Friend: We should plan to have our kids together!
Me: You cant even plan to have drinks together!

Friend: Do you want kids?
Me: Do you want sleepless nights, and to fall asleep at important meetings, while someone throws balled up paper at you, or whispers about how sorry they feel for you to the person they’re sitting next to? (because I’ve seen both scenarios at work, LOL)

Any more questions? :)

In all seriousness, I might want kids eventually, but I don’t have a ticking clock despite being in my mid-30s. So, I REALLY Hate these questions and don’t feel compelled to have any patience with the stupid people who are oblivious enough to ask them. Women don’t always want kids, it is not a big deal. I don’t care about planning on it and frankly, am assuming if I do want a kid, I’ll adopt so as not not have to go through the horrors of childbirth. And, you know, save an actual child in need?! Or, get accidentally pregnant and try not to die of misery in the following 9 months.



Posted in doggy, pop-culture perhapswith 144 Comments →

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 :)


A millin pics of your gorgeous bouquet… probably wont be enough!! 😉

My girls are so special to me, I will always be so greatful that they were part of my wedding day.


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


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 :)


There are so many picture opportunities! So excited!

Posted in pop-culture perhapswith 139 Comments →

Favorite Wedding Vendors: Charlottesville, VA06.04.14

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)

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!!

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!

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 400 Comments →

Cranky phase01.20.14


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 439 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 414 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:


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!


You can buy this paper puncher right here:


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:



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


Owl Crochet in Grey and Yellow! :)

You can also find these printables to bring everything together. I found these on etsy:


You can find the etsy listing here:

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

You can find the template and rules here:

For more yellow chevron babyshower ideas, check out my pinterest board:

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 411 Comments →

Government ShutDown: Day 310.03.13

Day 3 of the Government Shut Down


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.


:O :O :O

Posted in government, in the news, Local Life, pop-culture perhapswith 5,636 Comments →

How was YOUR summer??09.15.13


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!

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.

😛 😛 😛 😛

Posted in doggy, Healthcarewith 527 Comments →

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