Sunday, June 26, 2011

on New York

Friday night, Scott and I were walking through Boystown on our way home from date night. Boystown was abuzz - not only is it Pride weekend, but the battle for gay marriage made significant step in the right direction.

Scott and I were talking as we walked home, and we couldn't agree over which states allowed gay marriage. Iowa (yeah!) and Massachusetts, but what else? Who else?

(New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, DC).

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm so ready for all American's to be able to enjoy marriage. So, so ready.

My wedding day was truly the happiest day of my life, and I'm so happy that all New Yorkers can now choose that experience. Go NY!

Photo of the Day: Statue Edition

Michigan and Illinois, downtown Chicago.

Quote of the Day: Courage Edition

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear" - Ambrose Redmoon, courtesy of Melissa

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Photo of the Day: Delicious Snack Edition

Wasabi & Soy Sauce Almonds: Delicious (and very spicy) mid-afternoon snack.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Photo of the Day: Wrigleyville View

This picture really doesn't do it justice, but one of my favorite parts about our new condo is our westward view. We see Wrigley Field, and a horizon full of city-living. I love Chicago.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

No Chip Manicure: A Review

Recently I was introduced to the newest manicure trend - a "no chip" manicure (also known as shellac). This kind is twice the cost of a traditional mani, which, admittedly, means it's not cheap.

But - it's also fantastic. I got one two weeks ago today, and it's still nearly perfect. I have one (small) chip in one nail, but otherwise it looks just as fresh as the day I got it. (Some of that is definitely helped by the fact that it's a French no-chip manicure - so regrowth is camouflaged). For twice the cost, you get more than twice the benefits. I would highly recommend it for someone wanting nice nails for 2 consecutive weeks or weekends (which is why it was perfect for my wedding - I had amazing nails through my honeymoon and beyond). Tip: request that your nails are filed slightly shorter than you would normally want them. The only thing that's bothering me about my two-week-old shellac manicure is that my nails are getting long. They are definitely file-able, but in order to keep the French manicure looking crisp, I'm trying to avoid it.

Photo of the Day: Lake Shore View

One of my favorite things about summer is living close to the Lake. This picture isn't even good (a blurry phone picture), but it shows so many summer favorites: a sunny day, sailboats, and blue water spanning the horizon. Welcome summer!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Photo of the Day: Iowa/Marquette

I have a Marquette reader or two, so I couldn't resist snapping this photo the other day. It has the newest addition to the Chicago bar scene - an Iowa/Marquette bar. Fun!

What's in a name (part 2)

As I mentioned, I am taking Scott's last name.

Today, I got the ball rolling and legally changed my name. I've heard that it's an intense process, so I am committed to going all out and getting it completed - once and for all. I now have the driver's license updated, and I'm working on my Social Security card and bank accounts. My Facebook name is changed, and my email address is changed.

Though I've heard horror stories, I must admit that it's been significantly easier than I thought, with two exceptions:

1) Facebook doesn't believe that "Special" is a legit last name. Well, Facebook, it I'm not lyin'. In order to change my name on FB, I needed to submit a scanned copy of my marriage certificate. Annoying, but an easy and quick fix. (And, I gotta admit - Facebook made the change on my behalf within 90 minutes of receiving my scanned marriage certificate).

2) Blogger. By a LONG shot, Blogger (the host of this blog) was the biggest challenge to get revised. When I signed up for my blog 22 months ago, I had it linked to my old (maiden name) email address. Since I'm forwarding that email to my new account, I wanted to take the middle man out of it, and remove my old email address, and add my new one. Easy right? Wrong. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that it took hours (literally) and was a huge pain. Much, much more stressful and obnoxious than any other part of the process. (Shame on you, Blogger - you're way worse than the DMV!)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Photo of the Day: Homemade Pesto Edition

Since I'm now a wife (!!!!) I figure it's time to learn to cook, no? (Actually, that's all a lie... Scott does all the cooking in our house and I just prance around and "help").

Regardless, I made helped make homemade pesto spread this weekend. Delicious, easy and fun.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Review: Two Kisses for Maddy

In 2008, Matt Logelin was happily married to his high school sweetheart, Liz, who was pregnant with their first baby, an eagerly anticipated baby girl. On March 24, Liz gave birth to Madeline Elizabeth, and on March 25, Liz died, victim to a pulmonary embolism.

The book Two Kisses for Maddy is Matt's story of heartbreak and loss, resilience and hope.

I read it over the first 24 hours of my honeymoon, and while it wasn't traditional honeymoon beach reading, there was something special about it - about Matt's unwavering devotion to and love for his wife and daughter - that made me so appreciative of what I have today. (Matt's cool - and raw - way of writing was another reason I finished it so quickly - it was tough to put down).

The book is not easy reading - there was an especially tough-to-read scene when Liz dies that had me sobbing on American Airlines - but the book is good- really, really good and I'd highly recommend it.

The Script - If You Ever Come Back

My favorite song by my (new) favorite band. It's sort of like three songs in one - take a listen and see what I mean.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Book Review: Choice

I just finished reading Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, & Abortion.

I put it on my library queue several months ago, and had forgotten about it by the time I got the email that it was available for me to pick it up.

I loved it.

It was a series of non-fiction essays, from some really interesting and diverse women (Jacquelyn Mitchard, Katie Allison Granju).

The editors explained that they "called for these essays believing that a woman's right to choose must be preserved; we wanted to illustrate the spectrum of possibilities in a woman's reproductive life" (page 13). The essays covered a huge variety of reproductive situations: women who wanted to get pregnant but couldn't, women who didn't want to be pregnant but were, adoption-by-choice (for lack of a better phrase), pregnancy complications, abortion complications, surrogacy, adoption.

I'll admit - even though I am pro-choice, I did have a hard time reading the essays about abortion. ("In my own life, I have had two abortions, which feels like at least one too many", page 70). And yet, even when I had a hard time with those, it made me happy to be a 20-something woman in a time where we do have reproductive choices. While fertility is often not a choice ("three days later, Mama had a miscarriage. She cried on the couch for several days", page 151), we do get to decide where to go from there - a relatively new privilege right.

There were also really happy stories - a lesbian couple that had to jump through a whole list of hoops to have a child, a so-right international adoption ("I met my daughter Flora in the lobby of the Westin Camino Real, the grandest hotel in Guatemala City", page 221).

Overall, I highly recommend this collection of essays. It's very different from anything that I've read before, but it was interesting and enjoyable.

I'm "publishing" this blog post today, because Father's Day is a day that I love to celebrate the choice aspect of families - we may not get to deal the cards, but we get to decide how to play what we're dealt. I love you dad - I'm glad we chose each other.

Brad Paisley - He Didn't Have To Be

Every time I hear this song, I cry. Our situation wasn't exactly the same, but darn near.

I love you, Dad. I'm lucky to be your girl. Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Top 6 Wedding Day Moments

It goes without saying that my two favorite things about my wedding day were marrying Scott, and celebrating with my friends and family. (Truly!) Beyond that, there were lots of other special moments throughout the day that I want to be sure to remember.

How loving, interested and attentive Scott was on the wedding morning. The morning of the wedding, I woke up to a sweet text from Scott saying how excited he was for the day to begin. Then, he had a bouquet of beautiful white roses sent to me at the salon where I was getting my hair done. The note said "To my beautiful bride. Love, Scott". There's so much nervous energy floating around the morning of a wedding, that it was really soothing and comforting to know that Scott was as eager - and excited - as I was.

Primping in the church basement with my bridesmaids and mom. I got dressed in the basement of the church along with my bridesmaids and the MOB, and that time was some of my favorite during the day. There was this level of excitement, anticipation and support that was absolutely amazing.
The first look. After I got engaged, one of the first decisions I made was that I wanted Scott to see me in my wedding dress only once I was walking down the aisle to him in the church. My original vision was for it to be during the actual wedding ceremony, but as we began planning the logistics around the wedding day, I realized that it was made more sense for us to do some photos in advance of the ceremony, so I tweaked my vision. I still walked down the aisle to Scott for our "first look" but we did it in advance of the wedding ceremony. After I was dressed, I went up to the sanctuary, and there was a small group of wedding participants gathered (immediate family, bridal party, etc). When my brothers saw me for the first time, they clapped. It was spontaneous, supportive and just... one of those moments I've smiled about a lot in the past few weeks. After that, I kept walking down the aisle for my "first look" with Scott. It was even better than I'd pictured.

Final moments before walking down the aisle. In the half hour before the wedding started, I had our bridal party and parents gather in the basement of the church to avoid being seen by wedding guests. I wanted our guests to first see us as we were walking down the aisle. A few moments before we lined up to proceed in, I heard the trumpet playing. I don't know how to explain it except that it was really special and exciting. Since we couldn't see guests filing in to the church, hearing the trumpet made it real - it was starting.

As the bridesmaids filed down the aisle, I waited at the back of the line for my turn to go down. My cousin Jenifer was with me, personal attending like crazy and making sure that my train and veil looked perfect before I walked out. As the other bridesmaids walked down the aisle, I realized the last three of us at the back of the church were my cousins Christine and Jenifer and me. I'm having trouble describing it - but the three of us had a moment. I honestly don't think I can describe it in words. Emotional? Connecting? Spiritual? All of those words seem wrong, but it was special and personal and I will remember it forever.

Walking down the aisle. When I grabbed my dad's arm and we began the slow walk down the aisle, everything kind of sped up and didn't stop for two days. My dad and I have a really special relationship, and having him walk me up the aisle was exactly what I wanted. It was emotional by itself, but to have all of my family and closest friends to be in that room (and to see them for the first time) elevated that walk to something I think about every day. Honestly, the walk down the aisle was SO special, that even if the rest of the day would have been botched, I would have considered it a great day.

Speeches. This one's not really limited to the wedding day, because we had awesome speeches at the wedding and rehearsal dinner. The speeches were some of the highlights of the weekend. There were amazing speeches from my dad, all four of my brothers, my two maids-of-honor/cousins, an uncle, two aunts, and a blessing by my Grandfather. We had a videographer for the wedding, and I can't wait to get the footage back on the speeches. I loved hearing them - LOVED - and I can't wait to watch them again.
The weekend was perfect: emotional, a few antics, sweet, funny. It was joyful, pure and simple. Thinking of these things - reminding myself of them - is helping me to relive the best moments.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Photo of the Day: 10,000 Maniacs

Remember 10,000 Maniacs? They performed a free concert last weekend at the Old Town Art Fair. I only really recognized one song, but I belted it out with the rest of 'em.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Things to think about: Edition 1

If your commute does not involve a delayed, Northbound bus to Wrigleyville during a rainy Cubs game... well, lucky you.

7) Go to a state or unique place that I've never been

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico!

Monday, June 13, 2011

8 things I wish I would have known before my wedding

I'm certainly no wedding planner, but planning my wedding was one of the highlights of my life (and I'm not being dramatic here). I loved how the wedding weekend played out - I truly wouldn't really change a thing. If I was asked for tips, the below is what I would suggest:

1) Have a bustle contingency plan This is absolutely the most important piece of advice that came about after my own wedding. If your dress has a train, an alterations person will make the necessary adjustments so that it bustles (folds-up securely) after the ceremony. I had that (obviously), but the material of my dress was so heavy that the bustle didn't stay. In hindsight, I should have gotten it double-bustled. Another word on this: bring safety pins, and even a sewing kit along for day-of blunders. By 6p, I literally had a wedding guest sew my train to the rest of my dress. (This was after the train fell for the 47th time).

2) Have a hair and make-up trial Whether or not you're getting your hair and make-up professionally done, I'd suggest doing a run through of exactly how you're wearing your hair and make-up before your wedding day. I wore more make-up and different hair than in regular life, and this allowed me to test how it would photograph, how the hair would look after 12 hours, etc. 3) Spray Tan Early If you're going to spray tan, do it three days prior to the wedding day, not two. (In all my rehearsal dinner photos I look like orange jelly on burnt toast. Not a good look).

4) Write EVERYTHING down on a master calendar With many weddings having many events over several days, it can be a challenge to remember all the details. ("Am I bringing the hard copies of the wedding readings to the rehearsal or to the church the morning of the wedding?" or "What's the rehearsal dinner address?") It saves a lot of headache, especially once the wedding-week arrives and you're trying to remember lots of little details.

5) Two words: Google Docs We had everything from the master guest list with addresses, to food choices, to table arrangements in Google Docs, and this helped so much. In the early days of wedding planning, we were constantly sending documents to each other titled "Guest List v3 Nov 21" or whatever. That gets confusing fast. Google docs allows everyone (the bride in Chicago, the MOB in Iowa... for instance) to see the same document and be sure it's the most up-to-date version.

6) Choose your bridal party - and people in your wedding ceremony - carefully After the wedding, I realized that one of the best decisions I made was who to have in my bridal party. I couldn't have picked better maids-of-honor, bridesmaids and personal attendants. The wedding would truly have not been the same - or wedding planning as fun for me - without them being beside me. Further, sitting on the alter watching an aunt walk up to do a reading, or an uncle and aunt walk down the aisle with the Communion gifts.... it added something to the ceremony that I hadn't full realized until I lived it. It was really special cool.

7) Scout cool locations for wedding photos Although Scott and I got married in a beautiful church, I knew I didn't want all of my wedding photos to be with the same background - a mishmash of people on the church alter. The week before the wedding, my parents scouted out 10+ locations around CR that they thought would be nice for photos (and took photos of themselves in each location so that I could see how each spot photographed) and then a few days before the wedding, we drove to all of them. This allowed me to have a list of 3 places I wanted our trolley to stop for wedding party photos. (My mom then printed up driving directions for me to give to the trolley driver so that I could enjoy the trolley and not be tied to him giving him driving directions).

8) Enjoy your wedding (weekend) By the morning of your rehearsal dinner, stop making changes or decisions. Have a goal of rehearsal dinner morning to STOP wedding planning, and start enjoying the weekend. By the time Friday rolled around, my mom and I were in wedding-zen. No more decisions, no more checks to write, just wedding fun. It was one of the best - and intentional- decisions we made. We were able to be of-the-moment, and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

22) Face a Fear

(Duh, photo is not me, but thirty seconds after this photo was taken it WAS me hurtling across those flimsy wires)

Cave swimming:


Take that, fear(s)!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Honeymoon Recap: Food Edition

As I mentioned in my last post, we ate like kings in Mexico, and since it was "free" (not really, but since we pre-paid for the trip it sure felt that way!) we ate whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted.

This was my favorite meal of the trip. Grilled salmon, green beans, and corn on the cob (not quite as good as Iowa sweetcorn, but it was still delish!)

We typically started out each day with a healthy breakfast - fruit, yogurt, a little waffle or omelette and a variety of juices (that green juice was a spinach, mint and orange blend... sounds strange, but it was fabulous).

We often drank cappucinos with dinner:

We never actually ate this monster, but I couldn't resist a photo:

Twice during the trip we ordered room service breakfast (see that green juice again!):

I ate guacomole almost every day. It was the largest thing of guac I have ever seen:

We went "off campus" to Playa Del Carmen one night, and had the best salsa I've ever had:

Of course, we had a lot of "Mexican Water":

On Saturday June 4th, we had champagne to celebrate our one-week anniversary, and watched a beach-front wedding from our balcony (see them to the right of the champagne glasses):

Margaritas in Mexico are practically required:

And, what's a trip to Mexico without a little tequila?

I thought I'd taken more food photos, but apparently I was too busy eating and drinking. Yum!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Honeymoon Recap: Resort Edition 2

A few more pictures of our resort:

(The next two were taken from our balcony)

Honeymoon Recap: Resort Edition

As promised, a recap of the eight lovely days spent in Mexican paradise. I had intended to do just one post, but when I realized the amount of photos I'd need to upload... well, I decided to break it out.

We left Chicago really early on Monday (May 30th) morning. Scott handled the travel arrangements, and told me that he'd arranged a 4:00a pick-up time for a cab, so imagine my surprise when the elevator doors opened in my condo lobby and this was waiting for me:

A black limo! It was a very fun surprise (and a great way to start of a honeymoon).

Our flight was pleasantly uneventful. Scott and I were seated in the second row of the plane (which was fabulous when we deplaned - we were 2nd in line at customs) and both napped and read throughout the flight. It was a direct flight, so by 9:30am we had landed in sunny Cancun. A short shuttle (car) ride later, and we'd arrived at our resort. It was beautiful:

I can't say enough good things about the resort. It was beautiful, clean, safe and luxurious (what more could you want?) It had ocean and pool, and it was an all-inclusive resort, so you could eat and drink as much as you wanted.

(... and eat and drink did we EVER! Honeymoon food recap coming tomorrow).

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Year of the Kate (Special)

Well, it's official... I'm married!

Scott and I were married about 10 days ago, and so far, so good great.

I've been home about 2 hours, so obviously there are a million things to unpack, laundry to do, thank yous to write... but in the meantime, thanks for sticking with my blog during these past few (non-blogging) weeks. I promise a deluge of new posts in the coming weeks, complete with a wedding recap, honeymoon recap, and photos galore.