Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Choose Your Own Ending.

(I'm "borrowing" this idea for a post)
Generally speaking, I'm not an Obama fan. I feel as though he's too young in the political world, both in experience and connections, to be as effective as he could be, and those are two aspects that are crucial to any politician. I feel as though he makes promises he will never be able to come through on - I'm not a fan because I think that, one day, he would be a truly great president. But not now.

Anyways. Regardless of my opinions, there is one thing that few can argue about Barack Obama. He is a great speaker. He is one of the few people in this world who truly have a gift with words, and he's incredible at it. Seriously, this man will make a killing as an inspirational speaker after his days in politics (a la Bill Clinton). He honestly believes in himself, and you've got to give the man credit. Given the opportunity and time, he could probably convince Israel to make pork their national meat.

There's one quote from Obama that I particularly like, and it's rang particularly true for me here lately:

"Our future is what we build it to be."
- Barack Obama, March 23rd, 2009

I like it. We're not given our future. We create it. We imagine it. We build it.

There's so many possibilities and opportunities that one can have in life. Whether it's in love, careers, family, education, or friends - there's always choices that can be made to affect the outcome of your life. Little choices, big choices, they're always there. A decision that one doesn't put any thought into could be life changing - it could open doors, and it could slam them shut. Honestly, most of the time, we don't even notice the change has occurred.

I say this rings true to me, because I'm in a point of building in my life. I feel like my life is a skyscraper. I've finished the floors that harbor college - but I'm continuing to add stories. There are plans laid out - some that I've created and some that destiny has laid - but only I get to choose the ones I want to utilize. Like a choose your own ending book, each choice I make opens opportunities and shuts down others. It's...empowering.

I'm choosing to stay in Columbia for another few months. Sean and I are choosing to stay long distance because he makes more money in StP. We're choosing to move far away, because we want the independence. I don't know if I'll ever be back in St. Louis - I'd like to be, but I don't know. I don't know what opportunities are going to open up for us. As much as we love our families, we'll go where our opportunities lead us, simple as that.

But I tell you this - my future will be good, because I want it to be. And I will strive for that.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Winter Wedding, or Christmas Wedding?

There are a lot of fantasy dreams that little girls have about their wedding. I didn't have many of these dreams - I was never a girl who really thought about her dream wedding. But as soon as Sean and I started talking about getting married, I knew that I wanted to get married in my childhood church, All Saints.

(All Saints Catholic Church)
By Catholic standards, it's actually pretty small. It only seats about 500 people, which means we have to have seven different masses a weekend in order to fit everyone (and that's just counting the regulars...). Thankfully, I only have about 230 guests - I don't think there will be a problem. I have a history of the church back home, but unfortunately it's not here. Our parish was the first one established on this side of the river, originally called St. Peters of Dardenne Creek, back in 1815. The name was changed to All Saints in 1823, though the current church wasn't built at least the 1850's (I actually think it was 1874, but I'll check on that this weekend). Much of the church is in its original, gothic state. Thankfully, they did a little remodeling this winter, which included new carpet, new AC and heat, and a LOT of fixed stuff. But the integrity of the church is the same. Needless to say, I love my church.

Sean and I are getting married on January 8th. We chose this date because, honestly, we really wanted the Christmas decorations (and didn't want to spend a whole lot of money on church decorations). Because January 6th marks Epiphany, or the end of Christmas, we weren't sure if we were going to get the decorations. Thankfully, the decorations will be taken down the Sunday after our wedding, less than 24 hours after we get full use of them! At first, I wanted to get rid of some of the red - making it more winter, and less Christmas. Since then however, I think I'm willing to embrace the least in the ceremony. And now, for some photos!

This is the back of the church, from where I'll be walking in. There are pews in the overhead balcony (it's where my family sits every Sunday), and you can see the pipes of the organ over top also.

This is the front of the church. The main altar has both red and white poinsettias, plus a few Christmas trees. I love how bright the stained glass windows are, especially knowing it wasn't bright on this day - barring a thunderstorm, the church will be nice and bright! The nativity set is original to the church, and sits on a side altar (so it won't be obtrusive) with many sad Christmas trees that my parents are slowly replacing :D

I know the banners are a little much, but unfortunately, they're about 10-15 feet up. While we could drag out the extension ladder to take them down, I'm not sure if it'd be worth it. Plus, they do add a little punch to the aisle, don't they?

I'm thinking about adding some wreaths on the pews, but I'd only put them on every other pew I think. I'm thinking about these paper pew wreaths, except maybe with a few green ornaments rather than all white. Instead of hooking the wreaths around the back of the pew, I'll have to tie a ribbon to hang them off pew (because of the pew shape). I can't decide if it'll be a good touch, or too much.

Paper Pew Wreaths

All in all, I'm excited about the church. I think it will be lovely blend of holiday cheer and old world charm, without too much of a cost.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wedding Time Capsule?

I've become an avid blogger, in every sense of the word. I use pictures, I have a customized layout and header, and I follow other blogs religiously. One of the blogs I follow, which always has neat, inexpensive (because I feel like saying "cheap" makes them tacky) ideas, is 2000 Dollar Budget Wedding. It started as a blog for a couple who planned a wedding for less than $2000, an admirable feat, but doable if you throw all the "traditional wedding images" out the window. These weddings have actually become really popular in recent years, so really, their wedding turned out rather quaint and cute.

Anyways. Their wedding happened less than 6 months ago, and while I found the blog after the wedding had taken place, they continue to update. A lot of the updates answer questions that readers have, but they also post budget-friendly ideas for other weddings. It's a great blog, even though a lot of times the stuff is too earthy or kitschy for Sean and I's persona (mostly mine - I'm not a garden wedding kinda gal). But occasionally, even the most organic blogs posts something that I can get behind - today, was one of those days.

At their wedding, they had a Wedding Time Capsule. They had their guests fill out sheets of paper with messages to the bride and groom and predictions for them in ten years (how many kids, where they'll be living, etc). The bride and groom won't open the capsule until their 10 year wedding anniversary.

How cool is that? I'd love to do something like this. It looks like they simply took a wine tube or something similar, and decorated it - it wouldn't cost much, so if guests didn't do it, they didn't do it. Not much of a lost cost, though probably disappointing. I'm still torn as to whether or not my guests will participate, but I think I want to give it a shot.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Back home.

Going back to Columbia is always bittersweet, as Sean doesn't live here. But it is definitely my home. It's where I'm comfortable, where I can be myself. It where my room is, for Pete's sake!

But Clueless, Frosted Animal Crackers, peach rings, and popcorn?

What a perfect evening.

I must say though, I can't wait to find a home for both Sean and me. A place that we can find our own way, our own church, ourselves.

Oh transitions.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Flowers, Flowers Everywhere!

Like I said, this was the week of wedding planning. Not only did we (pretty much) decide on a bakery, we also picked out a florist. We've been to a couple of different ones, but we weren't exactly thrilled with any of them, other than one.

We went to both Walter Knoll (whom we made an appointment with on whim) and Mexico Road Florist (whom Moni went with). The first was great with customer service, but it just didn't seem to be what we wanted (though, a car did go through their wall a few days before). Though I must say, they've sent us coupons and done follow up calls since, and are incredibly nice. The second seemed to get what we wanted, but they kept trying to persuade us to use one flower everywhere. While we're under a budget, this is one area that Sean's parents are paying for - and Sean's mom is all about the flowers. (As far as I understand) his parents have essentially set aside a set amount of money for us, which is to cover flowers and the rehearsal dinner, and anything left over we get for a honeymoon fund. We were at a loss. My mom wasn't being any help (she was upset that we went to Walter Knoll in the first place, apparently she doesn't like them, and then refused to talk to us about anything), so we asked Sean's family. Mama and Katie (my future sister-in-law) both suggested The Flower Stop.

The Flower Stop is located across from St. Joe's (Sean's family's church), and Mama, Katie, Lyndsey (one of my 'maids), and I went in last Tuesday. The place was awesome. They're a small shop, and they helped us so much. We talked about the visions I had, that I wanted to use as much seasonal flora as possible, and the amount of flowers I wanted. I'm still a little concerned about the size my bouquet might end up to be, but I can always call and address that later. We put a deposit down, but we can change our order at any time. I had a really hard time figuring out colors, seeing as my 'maids are in a dark green. I didn't want red, because let's face it, it's going to be Christmasy enough without the help of flowers. So we decided on an all-white bouquet for me, and pink and white bouquets for my 'maids.

At first I thought the flowers sounded ridiculously expensive, but after talking to my aunts, it seems like it's about right. I mean, we are getting married in January, which isn't exactly flower friendly as far as costs go. Mama insisted that we get "full-service," which means that the florists will pin all the bouts on the guys and everything. We're ordering a lot of flowers too...1 bridal bouquet, 6 'maids bouquets, 1 jr 'maid, 1 groom's bout, 6 groomsmen's bouts, 2 dads, 2 moms, 2 grandpas, 4 grandmothers, 2 ushers, and then another corsage for my godmother. Whew! 

So here's a look at our flower combinations:
My Bouquet:

The Stargazer/Oriental lily (I think the different is that the Oriental is a lighter pink) is my favorite flower. They're huge though, so it'll definitely be the star of my bouquet

White lisianthus, gardenia, and stephanotis flowers round out my bouquet
My 'maids:

The 'maids will have a lily, with pink lisianthus and stephanotis flowers, though Shanon won't have a lily (it would make her bouquet way too big for her.

The guys:

Sean and the Dads will have stephanotis bouts, each with a white rose (though I might call and switch this to lisianthius). The groomsmen's bouts will look exactly like the pic, while the ushers will only have 2 stephanotis flowers instead of 3.

The grandmothers and my godmother will all have gardenia corsages, and the moms will have lisianthius ones. The grandfathers will have the same bouts as the ushers (which works out well, because our brothers will be ushers).

I had no clue about anything to do with flowers until I started planning this wedding, and now I'm acting like a pro at this! The flowers have definitely been the most stressful part of the wedding thus far though, that's for sure.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Groom's Favorite Part - Cake.

This week we've been big into doing wedding stuff. We've finally hit the year mark, and so it's much more "kosher" for us to start doing some heavy duty planning - plus vendors will actually talk to us now (apparently, there aren't many people who plan this far in advance). So naturally, we did the most important (in Sean's eyes at least) part of the wedding first:

As far as wedding cake vendors go, we've narrowed it down to 4 choices - all with pros and cons.

First up is Susie G's Specialty Cakes. We've had her cake on several occasions - Moni had this cake at her wedding, and we've tested it at wedding shows. Plus, my Maid of Honor, Rachel, actually knows Susie (though, this doesn't guarantee a discount). It's delicious cake. Problem? The wedding cake would have to be all one flavor, and the most interesting flavor available is carrot cake. Whoop-dee-doo-dah-day. They also require appointments for cake tasting, and it seems as though the taste-and-look-for-someone-else method isn't exactly encouraged - (from the website) "During your consultation, you can browse through our wedding portfolio, taste cake samples, and discuss details. You may also bring in your own pictures and ideas." I don't want to be discussing details - I just want to taste cake. We still might stop in to see if they'll let us taste though...

Second is Tie the Knot Cakes. This is run by the small, family-owned, Ozenkoski's Bakery. It's right by the church (and my parent's home), so I see it all the time. We stopped in, hoping to taste a sample of cake or two. One of the bakers told us the owner wasn't in, took down our name and number, and said the owner would call us back to set up an appointment. This was Tuesday. As in, a week ago tomorrow. They've been crossed off the list - we don't want to deal with vendors who don't want to give us the time of day.

Third in the cake vendors is Sweets to Remember. They're located farther north, in Troy, but are one of the "preferred vendors" of our reception hall. They offer plenty of flavors and fillings, but the last time someone we know has used them was back in 1998. They don't offer prices or anything on their website either, so it's hard to judge them on, well, anything. It's frustrating, to say the least.

Fourth, and the top runner so far (and admittedly, the only cake we've had the chance to try), is Wedding Wonderland Cakeshop. They're cheaper than Susie G's, and offer walk-in tastings. And the cake was ah-maz-ing. Have I mentioned they're recommended by Ace of Cakes? You know, the fantastic, hilarious, television show on Food Network? Yea. So we went and tasted them on Wednesday, and it was good. The only problem is that they're located out in Florrisant, while our reception hall is in O'Fallon - roughly 25 minutes away. We don't know if there will be delivery charges, but that's definitely something we'll need to ask.

We were given three samples of cake with our chosen icing/fillings. We got to sit at a cute little table for deux, and enjoy amazing, mouth-water cake samples. We chose to have traditional cake icing on all of them, and then each flavor has its own filling delicately globbed (a technical term) on top. We could have purchased more samples, but at $4.00 a piece, we didn't think it was necessary.

 (from the left, Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese filling, Spice Cake with Chocolate Fudge filling, and Spice Cake with Bavarian Creme filling)

The marble cake, unfortuantely, lacked the punch of the other two. The fudge filling was delicious and rich, and maybe it overshadowed the normalcy of a marble cake. Nonetheless, the other two were delicious.

(Sean's favorite, the Spice Cake with Bavarian Creme, and my favorite, the Red Velvet with Cream Cheese)
(This is Sean's "Really? You're taking pictures of me eating delicious cake?" face - he's not so sure about my new-found blogging love)

So we've (essentially) picked out a bakery. One of the greatest things about this bakery is that you can have a different flavor of cake on each layer. This is a huge plus in my book, especially considering that with the size of our guest list, there's a chance we'll have a 5-6 tier cake. Read: HUGE. So while partaking in a game of Super Mario Bros for the Wii (which I'm terrible at), we discussed possibilities for flavors. We came up with a total of six, with four of them being absolute must-haves.

Spice Cake with Bavarian Creme
Lemon Cake with Fudge
Yellow Cake with Strawberry
Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese
German Chocolate Cake with German Chocolate Icing
Chocolate Cake with Raspberry

The first four are must haves. The strawberry icing is a win for me, cause Mr. Sean hates anything and everything strawberry (actually, red fruit in general), but I gave him German Chocolate (I don't like coconut) for it. Neither of us are big fans of the chocolate-raspberry combination, but we do know that some of our guests would like it. And no one ever said that we have to eat or even love every layer (I've heard of brides not even eating the cake - that is NOT an option here).

We haven't bought the cake yet, or even made an appointment to discuss designs. But we do have several ideas for designs:


I love the ribbon on the bottoms of the first two cakes, and the intricacies of the designs in all three of them. I love love love the hexagonal cake (the second one) - I think it's just so interesting and novel. I'm also a fan of the third cake, and how each tier is a little bit different. Sean's not a fan of the square cakes, so those are out. We also don't want anything too busy. Or anything with flowers. Or split tiers/plastic columns/fountains. 

Though, I'm sure our baker (whomever we choose) will be able to get us to narrow our ideas further as well. Hopefully they'll be able to include our scroll design (part of it can be seen on our one year post) too.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Countdown.

That's right folks. One year from today, I will be married. To be more exact, one year from 2:00 pm today. *squeals with excitement* This also means there's a new, lovely counter on the blog. It might change locations (especially if you give me feedback on it), so bear with me on it.

I know there's been a lot of questions as to why Sean and I decided to wait over two years from getting engaged (and over five years after starting dating, and 7 years after first meeting). Truth be told, there are a lot of reasons:

1. We were young, and we wanted to finish school with Bachelor degrees. I've seen so many of my friends get married while still in school, or before school, and they never finish school (or go to a community college and get an Associates degree). We didn't want to be one of those people, especially because he wants to be a lawyer, and he needs that education. But we're done now (can you believe it yet?).
2. We needed the time. We're throwing a big, Catholic wedding (our choice, not our parents'), and they take time to put together. We've taken pre-marital classes, we've booked our hall, and found a florist and baker (oh. right. need to post on that.), but there's still so much to do. We're putting together a wedding celebration for over two hundred people.
3. My parents needed the time. My parents aren't the richest people in the world. And they needed the time to help save money, because they insist on helping pay for the wedding (which is good, because we can't afford it on our own).
4. We're long-distance. Do you know how that affects a relationship? Everything happens slower. While we know more about each other than many married couples (communicate is all we do!), the stages of our relationship have taken longer simply because we don't have the physical nearness to each other. Plus, you have no idea how hard it is to plan a wedding from a different city. It's such a pain. Sure, Sean could (and would be willing) to do most of the planning, but I'm only getting married once, and I want to be there for all of it.

In order to celebrate our one year mark, I thought I'd give everyone a sneak peek of something I did over dress!! I refuse to post the dress in its entirety, because I want it to be a surprise to everyone, not just Sean (well, my 'maids are allowed to see it, cause they're awesome like that).

Ahem. Drum roll, please.

(embroidery detailing on my dress! *squeal*)
I can't help but to squeal when I look at's gorgeous, and gives me butterflies just thinking about the day that I get to wear it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Texas and a Bum Ankle

I started to write a Texas Bowl post, but I gave up. Sorry folks. What do you need to know about it?

I sprained my ankle on December 27th, which severely limited my bowl adventures. My girls helped me gimp around on crutches (it was so frustrating to not even be able to carry my own plate!) for three days, which was a lifesaver. I got a wheelchair in order to see a bit of town (which unfortunately, only consisted of the Aquarium). We spent 34 hours on a bus, and 32 in Houston. We lost miserably, but c'est la vie. It was the meanest football game I have ever been to, as evidenced here (the issue has been resolved, it truly was a misunderstanding).

All of us at the Aquarium!
(notice the sweet wheels)

However, the Guard performed AMAZINGLY. They were excellent (despite the fact it was only like 50 degrees and they were in sleeveless uniforms). They couldn't hear me, but I was hollering and clapping in the stands - I'm so proud of all of those girls (and guy). I can't possibly explain how awesome it was to sit in the stands and watch the show - the hard work, sweat, and tears that we put into this show - it was, for lack of any other term, magical. Normally I'm on the field with them, and while I can see the show, it's not the same. It was just, spectacular. Goose bump worthy.

We celebrated the New Year on the bus! It was about as classy as you can get with plastic champagne flutes, $4 champagne, and dollar store party headbands. :)

Celebrating the New Year on the bus!

It was my last bowl trip, and hopefully one of my last long trips on a bus in a long time. I've definitely gotten older, and it's rough on me - in every way. For anyone who's never ridden long distance on a bus before, here's a rough idea of how it goes:
      Coach buses fit somewhere around 50 people, give or take a few seats depending on the set-up of the seats. When the buses arrive at 6:00 pm, there's a mad dash for the bus, because everyone knows that first come, first serve. Generally, seniority ranks when it comes to seating - everyone wants their own seat. A few movies will be watched (usually bawdy, hilarious ones). Our bus settled down around 2:00 am, and movies went off and people began the awkward sleep. Of those that share seats, one usually moves to the floor in order to gain a few more inches of room. You sleep scrunched up in the seat, a pillow barely masking the uncomfort of either armrest or the window, depending on which way you choose to face, and a blanket keeping you warm from the unusual cold of the bus. You'll fall asleep for an hour or two, before someone inevitably needs to use the tiny bathroom on the bus (and hopefully, not #2). In order to do this, they'll have to climb on the seats (so they don't step on those sleeping on the floor), shaking the seat just enough that you awake, and then of course you'll need to find a new, more comfortable spot. Because you're driving through the night, you won't stop for the entire drive...until you reach the hotel around 10:00 am. And then comes the mad scramble off the bus - longing for a bed. The life of a band kid.

Anyways, enough bus talk. Want to see pictures of my ankle?!
(be forewarned, this could be slightly graphic, depending on your tolerance levels)

On the 27th, right after I sprained my ankle. You can see the bruise starting on the left, and the swelling on the right! I couldn't put any weight on my foot at all, but luckily Katie (my future sister-in-law), saved the day and brought me crutches.

On the 1st. My foot is super swollen, and you can see the bruises moving up my leg (on the left) and in my toes (on the right). You can't see very well, but my entire left foot is a slightly green, bruised color. I can finally put a little weight on my foot, though I still need crutches for distances.

Today (January 7th). The bruises are wicked sweet now. My foot isn't very swollen anymore (just a little poofy by my ankle), but the colors are much more vivid. On the plus side, my bruise isn't all over my foot anymore...just in my toes, on my ankle, and at the bottom of my calf. I borrowed a boot from Emily, so I can pretty much ditch the crutches, but the ankle is still sore.

Christmas break was definitely eventful for me, to say the least. Band is officially over, and hopefully my ankle heals soon. *fingers crossed*

Monday, January 4, 2010

2009 Recap.

I'm terrible about recap posts. I have a horrible memory (which is why I like to blog about important things), so to remember important things that happen over an entire year is an incredibly difficult feat for me. But I'll do a basic recap, though not month-by-month.

2009 was a big soul-searching year for me. Huge in fact. As I started to realize that the end of my college career was coming, I started thinking about who I was. About who I am. While I've enjoyed college, I've had a bit of a rough time as well. I've been surrounded by people trying to discover themselves (in many different ways), and for a while, it really upset me that I hadn't had a big "self-revelation" phase in my college years. Then, over the summer, I discovered something. I already knew who I was. I didn't have a self-discovery moment because I didn't need one. I realized that I am comfortable with every aspect of myself: my education, my religion, my love life, my body, everything. I am who I am. I suppose I've always had this belief, but I think with everyone around me being concerned about what they needed to change about themselves, I had lost track of it. It was an interesting revelation, which came over a pitcher of Bud Light and nachos one evening at the church picnic. And it made this past semester a lot easier.

I started going to church more in 2009 too. I went away to school, and consequently, away from my church. I stopped going in the beginning of school, simply because there wasn't the pressure to go - it was liberating. But I slowly came to realize that I actually enjoy church. I love the sense of community, even though I'm not actually a member of any of the churches in Columbia. It's the sense of worshiping together. In 2010, I'd like to go even more regularly, especially since I won't have the stress of homework.

I partied the most I've ever partied in college. I also came to truly dislike ridiculously drunk people. I learned what my "perfectly intoxicated" point was, and learned how to not pass that point, and because of this, started to get incredibly annoyed by people who do. I avoid people who are incredibly drunk now, even my own roommates. I don't like how they (drunk people in general) act, I don't like how they treat others, and I definitely don't like how, because they don't remember anything the next morning, it's as if anything they said or did doesn't matter the next day.

In 2009, I started coming to terms with death. I know this is a strange thing to recap, but it's true. The anniversary of a good friend's death came on my 21st birthday, and I couldn't do anything for it. I didn't have a sip of alcohol (or even leave my house for that matter). It's a hard thing to come to grips with, but the healing process has started. I can actually talk about Patty without crying (though I'm having a difficult time writing this without doing so), and I've been out to her grave site for some Oberweis tea (it was our thing). I've learned that another good friend (and another member of our beloved youth group) has a terminal illness, so I expect the cycle of grieving will start again in the next year or two, which is something I really can't think about right now. It's tough to think about.

I started wedding planning this year. While Sean and I got engaged at the end of 2008, we truly started the planning ordeal in 2009. We've found and secured our church and reception hall (which includes our caterer), we've finalized our ideas for invites (and reception card) and save the dates, we've done all of our pre-cana and NFP classes, and we've passed the 700, 600, 500, and 400 day marks. Actually as of today, we're at 369 (as in, we're getting married a year from Friday!). I'm so excited for the day to actually be here, but we have a lot to do in the next 369 days.

Finally, we graduated!!! I'd talk about this, but I already covered it in my last post.

Overall though, it's been a good year. 2010 will surely bring changes, such as moving in together, moving away from home, my first career job (hopefully), the start of graduate schooling for Sean, and even more wedding planning. But I can't wait! It'll surely be a good year. I rang in the New Year on a bus for our bowl trip (er, blog coming on that I swear), and unfortunately, without Sean (though with champagne and party hats!), but here's a lovely picture (excuse our looks, we were on a 16 hour bus ride!):