Sunday, January 31, 2010

blessing of the hands

I can't remember if I've shared this here before or not - but its so beautiful, it worth repeating anyhow. This is a reading I'm almost positive I'd like to incorporate into our wedding. I think it would be nice to do this reading right before the exchanging of the rings. What do you think? 

Blessing of the Hands
These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other. These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy. These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children. These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

shoes shoes shoes

i am not a shoe person. perfume? yes. jewelry? oh god yes. scarves? yes. but not shoes. i pretty much avoid buying new shoes whenever possible. so, i've gathered quite a random assortment of shoes over the years.

I've got . . .

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

have you heard?

like every bride to be, i'm trying to drop a few pounds before the wedding. well - it was a few pounds. and then i gained some weight my first semester of grad school. so, now i'm trying to lose a few pounds times two. (in case anyone is wondering, a few pounds times two = about ten pounds).

i've never been very good at dieting, but i'm more committed than i've been in a long long while. so, while researching some low calorie dinner options i ran across a recipe for pasta alfredo that boasted to be under 400 calories a serving. now i was always under the impression that alfredo sauce has like a million and one calories in every drop, so i was intrigued. The trick to keeping the calories down?

is it weird that

i feel obligated to shave my legs for my doctor? does she really even notice or care?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

i want to be a super model

While browsing oncewed, one of my favorite wedding blogs, I discovered that our wonderfully fabulous wedding photographer - Alix Klingenberg - is a featured sponsor! And you know what? She included a picture of Neill and I in her bio. Check it out here! I feel famous!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

a toast!

A Toast of Thankfulness to Us

to where we've each come from
to where we're going and how we're changing
to being where we are and who we are

to what we can share
to what we can't share  . . . yet

to our joys and our struggles
which in full times we know are connected
which in hard times isolate us

to process, and to the times when we lose sight of process
to pain, to growth
to painless growth, to painful growth

to our efforts, our faith, our determination
to our fears, tears, laughter, hugs, and kisses

to wisdom, to study, alone and in groups
to our books and tools, and toys
to materials, raw and fine
to work, to meetings, to sleep
to our eyes, which fortunately read
and see mountains
and faces
and flowers and bodies
and occasionally sunshine

to our ears, hands, noses, mouths, toes, breasts
to caresses, to touch, to our senses
to our knees
to the times we fall down and pick ourself up
and the times friend help us up

to the shoulders we cry on
to the arms that hold us
to the strength in each of us, alone

to our work
to our play
to our loving
to our growth
to life itself . . . l'chaim

-from the haggadah of liberation complied by the new jewish agenda

Friday, January 22, 2010

love songs

currently, i'm a tad preoccupied with trying to figure out our ceremony music. while we hired a (hopefully) rockin DJ for the reception (cage & aquarium), we decided to diy our ceremony music. originally, we asked a friend of ours to play the violin for our trips up and down the aisle, but he has since dropped off the face of the world. (a whole other issue, really. i mean - who does that?) so now it looks like we are probably going the ipod route. i'm actually excited about this because i think it will be fun to go the nontraditional route and handpick our favorite lovey dovey songs. the problem? well umm there is sort of a lot of pressure to pick the *perfect* songs.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Alix Klingenberg Photography

I've had Alix bookmarked to review for months now. I've breezed through my other wedding related reviews, so I'm not sure why I've been procrastinating on this one. I think it has something to do with the fact that I highly doubt my unartistic self can adequately describe just  how awesomely wonderfully beautiful Alix's pictures are. Seriously wonderful. We received SO many compliments  on our engagement pictures and two friends actually booked her after seeing them! She took us - a normal looking couple - and made us look . . . .magazine worthy. But in a totally cool way - not stuffy magazine.

Not only does she have mad skills - but she is incredibly friendly. You have to be around your photographer ALL DAY for your wedding and so we really wanted someone with positive energy. Bless her soul, because Alix basically radiates positive vibes.

Plus, her prices are super competitive. While this definitely factored into our decision to choose Alix as our wedding photographer, after seeing our pictures I truly believe the work she does is priceless.

as in just do it. make it happen any way you can.

no fillers

So I've been missing in action. oops. I went to Florida to visit my grandfather. You can read about where I ate and shopped on the West Palm Beach list I did for yelp - here. Then I got home and started freaking out about starting school. I'm taking an extra class this semester! What was I thinking?! I've also been dieting (for real), which just makes me a little cranky and boring. Although, I am looking forward to our delicious Valentine's Day plans! We have reservations at Le Bouchon. I'm psyched for two reasons - firstly, I've always wanted to try this restaurant and we've just never made it there. Secondly, and more importantly, Neill and I haven't been out for V Day in (what feels like) a long time. I'm so excited for our romantic date!

Anyhoo I hope everyone is doing lovely! I'm off to plan dinner <3

Monday, January 18, 2010

Native Sun

Native Sun
209 E Atlantic Ave
Delray Beach, FL 33444

I really like this store. I've got to agree with Andrea R though - a lot of the clothes are a bit too mature for me. But, my mom and aunt love this store so I always end up browsing around and I usually find something I "need". On the most recent trip, I got an awesome cardigan that was definitely not made for the older ladies. If you're around the area, Native Sun is definitely worth a browse.

Carnival Flea Market at Delray

A trip to Florida has always meant a trip to the Flea Market. We used to go to one in Lake Worth, but it closed down. So, now we come here. There is one really nice Jewelry stand here that sells all sorts of stones and they will custom make things for you. Also, a few different places sell discounted perfume. Pretty much everything else isn't really stuff you buy while on vacation. At least I don't go on vacation to buy packages of socks :) But, it's fun to walk around and see all the random stuff being sold. Plus, this flea market has slot machines and a food court!

Sloan's Ice-Cream

What a fun place! The pink. The glitz. The ice-cream! This is the sort of place that I would probably never go into at home, but its the perfect dessert spot when you are on vacation! The decor is over the top and it makes getting a scoop of ice-cream something to celebrate!

Il Bellagio

I'm probably a little biased because we originally went to CityPlace to eat at Legal Seafood and only ended up at Il Bellagio when we found out our original destination had closed down.

That being said, our experience at Il Bellagio was pretty decent. My risotto with shrimp was rich and creamy and my fiance's homemade Italian sausage was also very good. My grandfather ordered the linguine with clams and the number of canned clams in the sauce far outweighed the fresh clams that came with it, but it still had a lot of flavor.

Il Bellagio has standard Italian food. Nothing was stand out, but it certainly was good. I would eat here again if I happened to be at CityPlace for dinner - but I wouldn't go to CityPlace just to eat here.

City Place

Now, here is a place to SHOP. This is a wonderful outdoor shopping center that has every store you could ever imagine. This place caters to the serious shoppers or those who just want to enjoy the weather and stroll. Unfortunately, it did seem like a lot of the nicer restaurants have closed down and been replaced by bars. In fact, we came to CityPlace to eat at Legal Seafood (yum) - only to discover an obnoxious martini lounge in its place. But, no place is perfect and the wonderful stores at CityPlace deserve 5 stars!

Paradiso Restaurant

This is one of my grandfather's favorite restaurants and he has been coming here for years. Decades probably. So, whenever I visit him he always wants to go here. And I happily oblige :) I've never had a bad meal here and the ambiance is beautiful. It is definitely more fancy (and expensive!) than I do on my own, but its always a treat when we come here. On my last visit here I noticed a lot of people ordering the salt crusted fish and so I hope to try that on my next visit. My only complaint is that the whole table felt the dessert we ordered (pear tart) did not live up to our expectations. But, I would still recommend this restaurant to people for a special occasion!

Prime Catch

After another visit to Prime Catch I knew I had to revise my previous review. I must have been having a bad day or something, because I've completely changed my mind about Prime Catch. We came for dinner this time, not for lunch, and the food was excellent. I had Chilean sea bass on a shrimp cake in sweet corn chowder and it was delicious. like for real delicious. Everyone at the table loved their dishes and they all looked beautiful.

So here is the deal. The food is very good and it is worth coming to Prime Catch, even if you don't get a table outside. I wasn't as impressed with my lunch experience at Prime Catch, but dinner was wonderful.

I stand corrected.

Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach

This review is only for lunch at the four seasons.

To cap off our visit to Florida, my grandfather took us out to lunch at the Ocean Bistro at the Four Seasons. It is a casual lunch spot with, quite honestly, spotty service and (just) okay food. But, the atmosphere is beautiful. Coming from a Chicago winter, there is nothing better than sitting outside and being able to feel the breeze off the water. Plus, the Four Seasons is such a gorgeous hotel that the okay food is elevated to be something a bit more special than it probably is. While normally I deem having to wait half an hour for some sandwiches unforgivable, the Ocean Bistro somehow managed to turn it into an enjoyable experience.

Chico's

Chico's
266 S Ocean Blvd
Lantana, FL 33462

You might be wondering why a 23 year old is reviewing Chicos. And if this is what you are thinking, I don't blame you. I have no business shopping here. BUT my mom and aunt LOVE Chicos so we always stop here.  And what do you expect me to do, stand around and not look? That's just not my style. If I'm in a store, I will shop. And I shop to buy.

So - that is why Chico's get's four stars from me. I can always find something to buy and mix into my clothing rotation.

Eventually, I'm sure I will end up buying more and more of my clothing here as I plan to be a stylish older lady :) I guess I'm just starting a bit earlier than most.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Portillo's Hot Dogs

I love a chicago hot dog just as much as the next girl - but portillos is just okay in my book. IMO they are lacking in flavor and character. My friend's italian beef did look pretty delicious, so maybe I'm just ordering the wrong thing. I suppose they should get extra points for having a drive through, but on the downside I'm pretty sure it encourages driving under the influence. Who doesn't want to satisfy the munchies with fries and a dog?

Bin Wine Care

This is more of a "Yay! I'm a fan . . I think". I feel Bin Wine Cafe deserves another trip before I make my final final judgment. Some thoughts:

Showed up unannounced with a group of 7ish around 7 on a Saturday night with no reservations. After some hemming and hawing and waiting at the bar, they graciously sat us.

Menu is surprisingly small and clustered in two price categories. On the low end, there are hamburgers (11) and pizza (11 or 12). On the high end, there were entrees for 20ish. I wasn't feeling either and so I got olives (5), a beet salad (8), and the tempura green beans. The serving of olives was extremely generous and the beet salad was delicious. The tempura green beans were snooze. Tasted my fiance's burger - it was wonderful. (Note to self: go back to bin on a tuesday for 5 dollar hamburgers).

Atmosphere was warm and jovial. I'd really like to go back with a smaller group and eat a full dinner. I have a feeling I'll really enjoy it :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

dolla dolla bill

In my last few posts I've been hyper aware of how much I have mentioned money. money and the difficult decision of spending money versus saving money. as i was writing, i couldn't help but think about how my words made me look. will people think i'm a penny pincher? will people think i'm broke? will people think its boring to hear about money problems dilemmas?

I found myself asking these same questions on saturday night when I went out with some of my classmates.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Honeymoon Part III

I'm sure everyone has been on the edge or their seat waiting to find out what Neill and I decided to do about our honeymoon. We based our decisions on a few basic ideas:

1. Taking a honeymoon was important to us as a couple. We want time after the wedding to revel in being a Mr and Mrs! While I think this could take many different shapes and forms for different couples, for us a honeymoon was a perfect fit.

2. Saving money is important, but we also want to be able to spend our money on things that are important to us. Let's face it - there will always be a million things to save for. But, that doesn't mean that there aren't things that are worth spending money on either. For us, saving money for the future shouldn't be about denying yourself important things in the present. (key word here is "important". Creating a value system of what is important and what isn't may be the most important financial task a couple can take on)

Once these were articulated, it was a pretty easy decision for us. And the winner is . . .

Thursday, January 7, 2010

the death of a . . . fish

our lovely beta fish, dawson, passed away today :( I'll never forget the day Neill brought him home. The night before we had a huge blowout about getting a dog. I really wanted a dog (and still do) and neill - the dog hater that he is - refused to budge on his no dog rule. come the next day, i get home from work and he surprises us with a fish. i was beyond livid and yelled a lot about how unfair it was for him to be able to have a fish when I couldn't have a dog. I was so mad, I told neill he had to fry dawson up and eat him. what can i say? i've got a temper. while i did hate dawson originally, my feelings have grown to luke warm regard. most of the time i completely forgot we owned him as neill took charge of his care. one week when neill was out of town dawson completely slipped my mind and i didn't feed him once. oops. this is making me sound like a very negligent and thoughtless person. don't judge me. i cared for dawson in my own way. for example, as he declined over the last few months I've urged neill to put him out of his misery so he did not suffer. while no one wants to kill a fish, it was so sad seeing him unable to swim around. i can only hope that he wasn't in too much pain. neill and i just flushed him and the last thing neill said to him was "she never liked you that much anyways". i think we are going to sell our fish supplies. neill says he wants to take a break from being a fish owner. i guess he is really broken up about it. or he doesnt want to have to clean out the nasty fish tank anymore. thats probably what it is. but seriously. bye, dawson. you were conceived under less than perfect circumstances and you had a negligent mother, but somehow you still turned out to be an awesome fish.

Subterranean

I can't believe I've neglected to review SubT for so long! It's my favorite place to see music in the city! The set-up makes you feel like you are in some awesome, vintage house party and they always have good sound guys working. Whether you want to be close to the action on the first floor or hang back a bit more on the balcony, you'll always have a good view. All around great venue!

Double Door Night Club

Another great Chicago music venue that I've somehow missed reviewing. tsk tsk.

Most recently, I was at Double Door for Window Licker's Holiday Hangover Show. There was a good crowd going and the sound was good. My only complaint is that beer here is expensive. 4 dollars for a pbr?!? ugh. But, the fact that there is a downstairs bar you can escape to when you'd rather hold a conversation than be drowned out by just okay music is priceless. seriously. there is nothing worse than having to stand through loud crappy music. I love that you can hang downstairs for bands you dont like and then go back up to rock out when you want. I also once saw an awesome acoustic show down there.

double door is double the fun!

The Metro

This is another really good venue to see music in Chicago, but I've got to agree with julie e  - there are better. Yes, the sound is good. Yes, the stage is awesome. Yes, they book a lot of great bands. Yes, it is in a convenient location. But damn, it seems like you've got to be a douche to work here. Plus, a sold out show here is so uncomfortably packed to the gills  that unless you're really in to being pushed around and full body contact with strangers it is super unpleasant.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Honeymoon Part II

Neill and I struggled with our decision of whether or not we should go on a honeymoon. We both knew we wanted to go, but it was hard to commit to going. Finances wasn't the only obstacle, either. Planning a honeymoon is hard work! I think sometimes we would get so overwhelmed with our choices that it was easier to just say no to everything.

One question we faced is when. Neill liked the idea of leaving for our honeymoon right after the wedding, but that would conflict with my class schedule. While I don't technically have to take classes this summer, it would help me stay on track in the program. If we didn't go right after the wedding, there was the option of going later in the summer or just waiting until winter came around. This was an attractive option because we both really liked the idea of going to Jamaica for our honeymoon and the winter months is the perfect time to head for warmer weather. The downside of this option is that we would have nothing planned for right after our wedding. The idea of going back to class the Monday after getting married just seemed so . . . ugh. We wanted the magic to last as long as possible! This is when we started thinking of maybe doing a small minimoon somewhere in the States right after our wedding and planning our real honeymoon for the winter or even our one year anniversary. We both have been wanting to plan a trip to Portland so that seemed like a possibility. But, when we started crunching numbers we realized that we wouldn't be able to afford both trips. And, if we were going to go somewhere right after the wedding, we might as well just do the honeymoon we truly wanted!

Another major question is where. As I said, Neill and I have always talked about going to Jamaica for our honeymoon. We have always wanted to go to an all inclusive resort and Jamaica is the logical place for us given Neill's background. But, I was hesitant to plan a trip to Jamaica during June. It's their rainy season! While on the plus side that did mean we could afford a beautiful resort with a beautiful room, I didn't want to deal with 24/7 rain. Also, part of me was still interested in that wonderfully lavish European trip. While it would be so fun to explore new places and learn about new cultures, it is daunting to plan something like that! Plus, Neill really didn't want to spend the honeymoon touristing around to museums and historical sites. We started thinking that maybe a cruise would meet both of our needs! It has all inclusive meals and we could spend the days on the ship lazing around the pools. Plus, we could stop at some awesome ports and go on mini day long adventures! We started looking into Mediterranean cruises and they really did seem wonderful. The main cons of cruising is that it isn't truly all inclusive because you have to pay for drinks (not to mention anything you want to purchase when off ship) and only having eight hours to explore a city made me nervous.

Whew! You can see why planning a honeymoon is so overwhelming! Stay tuned for Honeymoon Part III to see what we decided!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Honeymoon Part I

I think most people would agree that wedding and honeymoon go together like . . . salt and pepper. It's a package deal, right?

That's what I always thought. I might not have had many dreams or ideas of what my dream wedding would be like, but I always assumed there would be a wildly romantic European honeymoon. But, when you are planning a wedding during a tough economic time for your family (and yourself and everyone else), you start questioning whether or not a honeymoon is really necessary. At least, that's what I'm doing.

In my fantasies, I don't think I ever thought about who would foot the bill for two weeks in the South of France or the Greek Islands or both! But in the real world, that's probably the most vital question. You can daydream and plan all you want, but unless you have some credit card numbers to supply you aint going nowhere. And let's be honest - we aren't talking in hundreds here. Even though the dream trips sounded wonderful, I knew I couldn't ask anyone else to pay for something like that. I am already carrying around enough guilt about the money my family is spending on the wedding. I could never bring myself to ask for something so . . . luxuriously selfish.

So, that really only leaves two people to look to. Me and Neill. If we are going to go on a honeymoon, we'll have to pay for it ourselves. And it will have to go on our credit card or be paid for out of our savings. Faced with this reality, I'm sure you can understand why we have found ourselves questioning whether or not we should go on a honeymoon. Of course we want to go, but our practical sides tell us to not waste our money on a week or two of vacationing when we have so many things we need to save for.

So, what do you think? How important are honeymoons? What is your dream honeymoon?