Thursday, April 25, 2013

An Emotional Roller Coaster

I've been doing a lot of my wedding planning lately while watching The Office , my current television obsession. (I may have actually dreamed that I was Jim Halpert the other night. It was like "The Office, Detroit Edition.") I started from the beginning a couple weeks ago and have cruised through episodes while crafting and organizing like crazy.

*Office spoilers in this next section*

Image via Buddy TV

I got to the end of Season 2 where Michael hosts casino night and Roy heads home early—leaving Jim and Pam in the office together. In that episode, Jim kisses Pam and confesses his love for her, even though Pam doesn't feel the same way. I cried.

Finally, at the end of Season 3 Jim breaks up with Karen and asks Pam to coffee in the conference room. She agrees. I cried.

In Season 4 when Jim encourages Pam to pursue her dream of going to art school in New York? Cried.

I'm now on Season 5, and last night I watched the episode where Jim buys Pam a house. Yeah, no doubt there—I definitely cried.

My sudden heightened emotions are not just limited to crying over sappy television romances, either. Unfortunately, I also get upset more easily and snap over little things. I'm pretty sure Mr. Lemur and I actually argued over how to arrange the furniture in our new living room yesterday. We've barely started moving stuff in, and I haven't even seen it!

On the bright side, I'm also experiencing a huge sense of love and anticipation. I'm overwhelmed by the support shown to us by so many family and friends and how willing they are to help us. I love how many texts and messages I've gotten about people being excited to come to our wedding—and others who are leaving soon to make the long trek down to celebrate with us.

It's a roller coaster. Sometimes I'm on a top-of-the-world high—like two nights ago when I tried on my wedding dress for one of the last times before the wedding. Other times I'm pretty discouraged—like when I was struggling with the decision of how many tables to set up for the reception. I know it's a combination of stress, lack of sleep, and excitement, and to be honest I just want to embrace it! Our wedding is almost here, and these are my last few days as a single woman. So if I cry over Jim and Pam again tonight while finishing the centerpieces, so be it.

Anyone else experience this kind of range of emotions?

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Books & Numbers Bridal Shower

First of all, there is no way for me to express how much gratitude I have toward everyone who planned and attended my shower! Mr. Lemur's church is incredibly generous and I am so thankful for all the effort and time that went into this. I want to share some of the pictures from the day to show what a wonderful event it was—they did a great job!

The theme was books and numbers—ahem, two of my favorite things. The tables were decorated with piles of books wrapped in ribbon and surrounded with paper numbers for the game that we played. The napkins were held with coral tissue paper napkin rings. Basically, a very similar vision to what I'm looking for at the wedding! These ladies nailed it.

All photos personal—from my mother and a friend of the family.

Remember when I wrote a post about the bunting we had worked on? Well, it looked amazing! There were four lengths hung across the front of the room and several more along the back by the food table. The backdrop to the bunting is cardboard panels covered in book pages. (Interesting note: The room used for showers at the church is a classroom and chapel for the school, so there was a whiteboard all along the front of the room. The ladies have to come up with creative ways to cover it for showers they hold there!)

I love the cozy chairs and pile of books. It's like you're in someone's living room—except you're on a platform in front of a room of 70 people. Just go back to pretending you're in someone's living room.

Next up is the incredible food! The tables for the food were also covered in book pages.

Looking back on this, I'm not sure I actually tried any of the punch! I was a little busy the whole time, but I did have some of the yogurt with the fruit and granola toppings and it was delicious.

Left to right, this is my future grandmother-in-law, mother, sister E, sister A, future grandmother-in-law again, and mother-in-law getting food. Besides the punch and yogurt with toppings, there were mini cinnamon rolls (in the cupcake stand) that were AMAZING, sliders with ham or sausage, and roasted potatoes. Perfect for a brunch!

And no section about the food is complete with a huge thank you to the cooks who prepared food for this many people. Thank you ladies!

Next up was opening all of the gifts. Another big thank you goes to these two girls—both friends of Mr. Lemur's from high school!

The girl on the left wrote down all my gifts for me—she was trying to be really specific so I would know exactly what she was referring to, and some of her descriptions made me laugh. For example "baby measuring cup" for seriously the smallest measuring cup I've ever seen, or "cooking trays (like for cookies)" for the cooling racks I got. The girl on the right handed me gifts and organized the piles of tissue paper and gift bags that added up. Fun fact: She was Mr. Lemur's date to their school junior/senior and got married last Saturday! Just for fun, I had to include this picture...

Awh, Mr. Lemur in high school—now both he and she are getting married two weeks apart. Congratulations to her and her new husband!

I opened gifts for a long time, and got seriously almost everything on my registry, as well as some sweet personalized gifts. For example, this adorable sun tea pitcher filled with brightly colored towels and Kool-Aid packets. I had registered for and got two of the pillows on the right. I thought they were adorable!

I also received a gift full of ornaments and Christmas items—like Christmas cookie cutters and travel mugs. It also included this personalized ornament, which I can't wait to use for our first Christmas!

I want to say a huge thank you to these three women for hosting the shower, giving a devotional, and planning the decorations. You ladies were amazing!

I am also super thankful my family was able to be there. My parents drove over from Wisconsin and my sisters drove up with me from South Carolina. My future grandmother-in-law drove up from Ohio and of course my future mother-in-law was there!

I have individual pictures of each of the tables, but this post is incredibly long so I'll just post a room shot and say thank you again to everyone who attended!

With my mother and sisters—they're beautiful!

When we finally got home, we still had to unload all of the furniture from my parents—not only my bedroom set, but also a table from my grandparents.

Way to help out, Mr. Lemur. You're working really hard there.

After sorting all of the gifts, I was exhausted. No more pictures, please.

Did any of you have a large shower?

Friday, April 19, 2013

We Still Need Wedding Bands

So. We're just over two weeks out from the wedding (whoa), and we don't exactly have wedding bands yet. This is kind of weird for me because usually I'm really on top of these things—but I delegated this to Mr. Lemur who delegated it to our officiant/jeweler, and we're still waiting on a decision.

We did finally go try on rings last weekend. I've known all along what I wanted—just a simple band matching the band of my engagement ring.

Personal photo

As soon as I tried on rings, I knew I was right, and quickly landed on a 2mm band in 14K white gold, just like my engagement ring band. Granted, I wouldn't be opposed to getting an eternity band to wear between the wedding band and engagement ring someday—but I can wait! The ring I'm getting looks something like this. Pretty self explanatory.

Image via Azzi Jewelers

Now it was Mr. Lemur's turn, and his ring was...not as easy. We knew going in that we didn't want to spend a ton of money on his ring. He's going into law enforcement and isn't much of a jewelry guy—so we weren't sure how much he would be wearing his ring anyway. (Which is fine with me. My dad works in construction and I don't think I've ever seen him wear his ring!) He tried on a few rings that looked something like this—and to be honest I really did like them. They looked nice on his hand and were very classy.

Image via Azzi Jewelers

Ok, so what was not nice was the price on these. Umm, $1,095? No. I knew we'd be getting a discount for going through our jeweler, but I don't think any kind of discount will put the ring into the range we were thinking—and we're not going to spend over five times what my band cost on his! Next we tried on some titanium and tungsten bands, which were cheaper but still in the $300–$400 range.

Image via Azzi Jewelers

Am I being irrational for not wanting to spend that much on Mr. Lemur's ring? We're still waiting to hear back from our jeweler for sure, but to be honest I'm thinking we may go a different route. Except, umm, we only have two weeks. I'm getting a little nervous here, you guys!

Advice on ring buying? How did you pick out a ring?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Best Wedding Gift I Received

And my wedding isn't even here yet—but I guarantee nothing can top this one!

I had a shower at Mr. Lemur's church over the weekend, which I plan to recap once I get pictures. I totally planned to take pictures myself but between opening gifts and meeting people I kinda failed in that department. (I have exactly one focused picture, and it's of my sister staring into the camera creepily. Oops.) Fortunately my mom and a friend of the family took plenty of pictures which I'm super excited to share with you because my shower was lovely. I was very thankful to have so many people there!

After the shower we brought all the gifts back to the house and were sorting through them with both sets of parents—my parents had driven over from Wisconsin for the weekend. They had brought with them what was I thought was the bedroom set I grew up with. Since I've been living in a furnished apartment, we didn't have a bedroom set and my parents graciously offered to give me the one in my room at home.

I was sitting on the couch and my dad handed me a card with three pictures in it. The first was a picture of a hallway with wooden trim. The second was this:

Personal photo

Umm, that's not the bedroom set that was in my room. In fact, I've never seen that bedroom set before.

The note on the back of the first picture told the story of how my dad was working at a jobsite (Actually, he was renovating an old Catholic convent!) and they were throwing all the beautiful oak wood from the hallway away. On January 12, 2008 my dad picked up the wood and brought it home to store it in the garage. I was a senior in high school then—no idea I would be getting married five years later!

In August of last year Mr. Lemur and I took a trip with my family. After that trip my dad went home and decided it was time to start working on the bedroom set because he knew we would be getting married soon. Nine months and over 200 hours of labor later, the set was done and I was so so surprised.

My dad built my parents' bedroom set and I've admired it ever since I was a little girl. Their set has the same four pieces (five if you count the removable shelving unit on top of the medium-sized dresser), but is made out of a different kind of wood with a slightly different style. I love that this one is customized to us!

I know this post doesn't have a whole lot to do with wedding planning—but I wanted to share the awesome wedding gift I received! I was overwhelmed with beautiful gifts, but nothing is better than this handcrafted set from my dad.

Thank you, dad. I love you.

Did you receive any special wedding gifts? What is the best wedding gift you received?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Staying Fit for a Lifetime

When I got engaged, I was in pretty good shape. Several weeks after our engagement I ran a sub-22:00 5K for the first time ever and had high ambitions of cutting a minute off that time in my spring 5K. I was working out consistently, eating well, and really happy with my weight—honestly, for one of the first times in my life.

Personal photo / After the race

I bought my wedding dress and was super happy with the way it fit. It was snug but comfortable and flattering. In a conceited way, I thought "Ha, I have this in the bag! All I have to do is stay my current weight!" Of course, I also had visions of getting more toned and looking incredible on my wedding day.

Then real life happened.

Mr. Lemur moved to Michigan and I lost my exercise partner and eating buddy. At dinners I didn't have him to keep me accountable for how much I was eating—and he wasn't there to push me a little harder on runs or push me to run at all. At the same time, class, work, and wedding planning got really stressful. I started eating more and running less. And predictably, I gained a few pounds. I'm not exactly sure how many, but it was enough to make me uncomfortable and less confident about the way I looked.

When I went to my dress fitting, I was so nervous that it wouldn't zip. Thankfully, my dress is super forgiving. You couldn't tell, and I actually felt beautiful.

Personal photo / Dress fitting

But that doesn't mean I didn't try to make some changes. I honestly don't have time to get in an hour at the gym every night—and even if I did, I'm exhausted! But instead, I started walking to work every day. It's two to three miles round trip, and I feel so much better on days that I walk for fifteen minutes instead of hop in my car for two minutes! I've gone back to the basics that I love so much—cereal for breakfast, a salad with some chicken for lunch, a wrap or pasta for dinner, and lots of fruit.

So here's my advice for those who are soon-to-be engaged or newly engaged:

1. Don't put more stress on yourself to lose weight on top of everything else! The engagement period is awesome, but very stressful. If you have any other big life changes on top of getting married coming up—for me it's moving to a new state, finishing grad school, and starting a new job—the pressure will build up.

2. Focus on positive life changes. Instead of adopting a crazy diet or exercising two hours a day, add in little exercise, like walking to work or taking a lunch break walk instead of eating out. Eat more fruits and vegetables and replace stress-reducing chocolate with stress-reducing smoothies. (It actually works. Another benefit: Your skin will look better.)

3. Realize that this is one day versus the rest of your life. Yes, I want to look great on my wedding day. But I also want to be healthy for the rest of my life. That means that I need to make changes that I'm willing to stick with. For me that means no diet that involves not eating something—umm, I love carbs.

I know this is all super common sense information, but to me this is also personal! Anyone else struggle with their weight before their wedding? What advice do you have?

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Project I'm Dreading

Hive, we're three weeks out from the wedding tomorrow, and I have something really, really big I haven't done. Something really important. That I really shouldn't be putting off.

That thing is to figure out who all is coming to this party.

I haven't gotten a ton of RSVPs—maybe 30%? Plus another 20% or so who I know are coming or who have said they're coming. That leaves... a lot of people.

Part of this may be my fault. Remember my invitation with the online RSVP on the back of the card? There have been a fair amount of people who have left the picture on the card and not slid it off to see that there's a back side. What I don't understand is the people who ask questions, I refer them to the website, they're like "Oh, there's a back to the card!" and then they still don't RSVP.

I promise to always RSVP to every single event from here forward.

I know Miss Otter just posted about her RSVP drama so... I'll just add to that post by saying &@*(@^#^. (That's as close to swearing as I'll get... but seriously!)

This is the part where I need to suck it up and call/text/Facebook people. And it needs to be done in the next week because my caterer needs a number. I decided not to do assigned seating a long time ago—so at least I don't have to worry about a seating chart.

Come on, Miss Lemur, just do it. This weekend.


Anyone else with RSVP drama? What did you find was the best way to approach people about RSVPing?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

All I Need is Something to Put on My Feet

I like shoes and all, but finding the perfect shoes for my wedding outfit has never been at the top of my to-do list. I know a lot of girls are super interested in the search for the perfect shoe—check out Miss Airplane's posts on her shoe search if you feel like this post leaves you lacking in enough shoe envy for the day! This post is keeping it simple, so consider yourself warned.

I decided awhile back to wear flats for the wedding. It's less of a height issue than a comfort issue—but I don't mind not having to worry about pictures making me look taller than Mr. Lemur (I'm not!) or towering over anyone (Which I wouldn't, since I'm only 5'5"...). But flats it was, and since it's a late spring/early summer wedding, I was leaning towards wearing sandals. The casual vibe of the wedding lends itself towards dressy sandals, I think, and I happen to be very partial to that style.

I actually know exactly what shoe I want. I owned it once. It was a flat gray sandal from New York & Company with ruffled flowers down the front of the strap. I bought the pair two years ago for less than ten dollars on sale and wore them four times a week for the rest of the summer—no joke. They fit perfectly, were flattering, went with everything, and were super comfortable. I frequently would walk to work (three miles round trip) without blisters or sore feet.

Not surprisingly, given how much I wore them and the fact that I didn't pay much for them to begin with, they wore out by the end of the year. I went back to New York & Company the next summer to find another pair, but I couldn't even find anything similar.

Now it comes to the wedding, and I wish I had bought two pairs of the sandals and kept one in a glass box until now. (Kidding... kind of.) I'm not willing to pay an extravagant amount for my wedding shoes, although I suppose I can spend more than the ten dollars I spent on

I found this pair on eBay and like them well enough.

Image via eBay

They're not exactly what I want though. I'm sitting here debating whether or not to pull the trigger and I actually think I like this pair from Payless better, despite the slight wedge. Two and a half inches might be too much for my dress though...

Image via Payless

So I guess we're back where we started! I would wear either of these pairs of shoes in real life, so I'm tempted to just buy them—they're both less than twenty dollars—and wear them for the summer. And if they look good with my dress that's an added bonus. Don't worry, I'll update you on my full bridal look eventually. Shoes, veil, jewelry, and all. We're getting close!

Anyone else choose flats or sandals over heels for their wedding shoes? Which shoe should I buy? Any other recommendations?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Too Many Self-Portraits

All my life when people have said I was a blonde I've quickly come back with "My hair is not blonde! I am definitely a brunette." And that's true... sort of. I have kind of "in between" hair. It's not really blonde, but it's also not brown—I guess a lot of people would call it a dirty blonde. In the summer my hair lightens to a golden blonde with almost pure white streaks, while in the winter it grows out to a light brown.

I just posted this picture the other day, but in our engagement pictures you can see the progression from darker brown to golden blonde to ash blonde. Clearly my hair had grown out several inches since the summer blonde!

I didn't realize how dark my hair had gotten until I saw this picture from the marathon my sister ran several weeks ago. Ignore the part where I look like I've been up since 4:30 AM... I'd been up since 4:30 AM driving around a marathon course cheering "Way to go! Keep it up!" at every runner that passed by. Marathon spectating is hard work, you guys. (My sister rocked it!)

Personal photo

A week later I was in Walmart staring at a massive row of hair dyes, texting my sister (my other sister) "How the heck am I supposed to choose a dye??" I wanted something subtle that would give my hair some summer color without turning me into this.

Image via Woo Hair

Platinum blonde is not for me. Instead I went with a hair lightener that I spray on right before blow drying my hair. I figured at worst it was a waste of $3 and my hair doesn't look any different—at best I'll have hair two shades lighter. Because I'm an awesome blogger, I documented it by taking nightly self-portraits in the bathroom after drying my hair. (I shower at night, dry my hair, and style it the next morning. Ain't nobody got time to get up early to do all of that in the morning.)

Personal photo / Don't mock the tie-dye shirt I made in 11th grade Chemistry and still wear to bed every night.

Can you tell it's lighter? After seven days of use, people started to ask me if I've dyed my hair, and after ten days of use I was getting compliments on dyeing my hair—so I'm guessing yes. These pictures really don't show the subtle highlights in person, which I actually really like. My dad has red hair, and sometimes the red actually shows up a little with the golden blonde, as well as streaks of whiter blonde.

I think this is the color I want my hair to be for the wedding. I promised Mr. Lemur I wouldn't change the color anymore until he could see it anyway—which will be this weekend. But I think this is it! Of course I'm always open to suggestions...

Anyone dye their hair right before the wedding? Should I go lighter? Back to the darker brown? Anyone else feel really awkward taking self-portraits?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Today's the Big Day

No, not that big day.

Today I finish the requirements for my masters degree in business administration. Although I won't be officially conferred with my degree for another four weeks, I'm done.

I know this is nothing for those bees who are finishing up a doctorate, but this is big for me. All those days of trying to simultaneously plan a wedding and somehow write a 50-page business plan while working 40 hours a week are over. If I do decide to go on and get another degree, I swear to you it will not be while going through another huge life event—so no kids or home buying at the same time as studying.

(I say that now, but knowing us Mr. Lemur and I will decide to move across the country or remodel a house while I'm writing my dissertation.)

Personal photo / With my sweet parents at my college graduation

While I'm excited to be done with school, this also marks less than a month till we get married—and as awesome as that is, it's also crazy overwhelming! In the next month and a half, I will:
  • Walk across the stage and receive my degree.
  • Get married!
  • Move to a new city 500+ miles from where I've ever lived before.
  • Start a new job, attend a new church, and make new friends (hopefully).
Whenever I get stressed (ahem, all the time...), Mr. Lemur tries to get me to focus on little steps. What do I need to get done now? What can I get done now? What can wait until later? What doesn't have to get done at all? 

So that's where we are right now. Little steps.

I'm really excited about getting into planning more little things for the wedding, and I can't wait to share them with you! It's going to be an exciting last four weeks.

Anyone else tackle more than one career/school/life milestones at once? Fellow May brides, what do you have left on your planning list? We're getting married next month!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Doing Your Own Makeup

I actually really enjoy doing my own makeup. I'm not particularly good at it—but over the years I've gotten into a routine that I really like. It takes less than ten minutes for me to wash my face and put on my daily makeup, and only slightly more than that if I'm trying to "dress it up" for a special occasion. It's a good way to start the day—I find it calming before I head out to work.

That being said, I considered how nice it would be to have someone do my makeup for the wedding. I wouldn't have to worry about it at all and I'm sure they would do a better job than I could! Unfortunately, it's also expensive and really not practical given the time constraints on the morning of the wedding. 

I decided that instead of paying a makeup artist for one day, I would invest a smaller amount of money in makeup that I could wear repeatedly for nice occasions. I'm looking to spend less than $100 on some staples I can have for awhile—a basic primer, a nicer concealer/foundation, and a subtle yet polished lipstick. I'm also thinking about trying out some different eyeliners, but I like my mascara and eyeshadow.

Oh, but first, here's my current makeup look.

Sorry for awkwardly cropping most of Mr. Lemur's face out of the picture. It's the best shot I could find of what my makeup usually looks like! Also, it was so windy that day and my hair went everywhere.

First, the primer. The wedding will be in May in South Carolina, so it will be humid. Actually, it doesn't matter what time of year it is in South Carolina—it will be humid no matter what! Usually my makeup melts off within a few hours and I am constantly reapplying and powdering throughout the day. One blog I read—Capitol Hill Style—swears by Nars Pro-Prime Oil Free to hold makeup even in the humidity. It's a little expensive, but if it works consistently I'm not opposed to spending $34 on primer to hold my makeup in place for my wedding day, unless someone has a less expensive option they would like to share!

Image via Nordstrom

I have had awful skin my entire life. I've been to the dermatologist more times than I'd like to remember and tried several kinds of oral medications and creams, gels, and face washes. Just keeping it real here, folks. Maybe it's because I'm finally getting a little older, but my skin has stabilized somewhat. Of course, I still have terrible days and some scars and flaws from years of struggling with it, so a good concealer and foundation is a must. I've heard good things about both of these—the Laura Mercier ($30) and the Revlon ($9). Is it true that you get what you pay for?

Image via Bloomingdale's

Image via Target

There is only one thing I regret about doing my own makeup for my engagement photo shoot—and that is that I didn't wear any kind of lip gloss or lipstick. I don't on a normal basis, but I do feel like my lips look washed out in some of the pictures. Besides, the New York Times tells us that wearing lipstick actually may make people see women as more competent as opposed to non-lipstick wearing peers. Either way, I'm looking for a basic lipstick in a pink or coral color (no dark burgundy or red). Maybe this basic CoverGirl, which comes in many shades? Or I could stick with a lip gloss (baby steps here).

Image via Walgreens

Image via Nordstrom

That was kind of a marathon post, but this is the part I'm really interested in. What makeup do you wear? Do you have suggestions for me? Did anyone else do their own makeup and love it? Regret it?

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Secret Life of Bees: Lemur Edition

As a break on a Monday, let's talk about something non-wedding related. (Sometimes you just get burnt out on wedding stuff, you know?) I love these Secret Life of Bees posts, so I thought I would contribute—even though I have a very boring life, so how about we just make this a "Things You Don't Know About Me" post? Maybe I'll have to post about Mr. Lemur later.

1. I am a huge Packers fan.

Personal photo

I grew up less than thirty minutes from Lambeau Field as an ardent Packers fan. (Umm, that's pretty much a requirement if you live in Wisconsin.) I am now moving less than thirty minutes from Ford Field—that's where the Detroit Lions play, for those of you who aren't as interested in football—and marrying a Lions fan. Trust me, this rivalry only works because the Packers keep winning. If the Lions were ever better than the Packers (not going to happen), we might have severe marital problems.

Bonus secret life: I had bangs and cut my hair short my freshman year of college. This is several months grown out. Looking back, I'm not sure if I miss it or not.

2. I'm a nerd.

Personal photo

As a math undergrad, I think it's pretty much a requirement to carve your pumpkin with a pi symbol. Wait, it's not? Anyone? And yes, my best friend Melissa is a huge Phillies fan. How did you guess?

3. I ran a triathlon and my race number was 666.

Personal photo

My two sisters conned me into running a sprint triathlon with them. It was short—just a quarter mile swim, 27 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run. It was a competition, and I still take pride in the fact that I finished more than fifteen minutes before either of them. By the way, it was a cold, cold morning. I still remember how cold that water was. It was a great experience and I'd love to do another triathlon. It takes a lot of time to train though!

When I finished and walked up to the station to hand off my timing chip (the yellow boxes my sisters and I are wearing around our ankles), the timer crossed himself and asked if this was a sign. No, but somehow out of all 1,000+ people running, I ended up with the mark of the beast!

Well, that's all I have. Tell me something random about yourself! Or, share your team affiliations! Anyone else compete in a triathlon?