Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bridesmaid 101: Bachelorette Party

It's HERE.

Everytime I load my Facebook feed (which is a lot more often than I care to admit), another person has changed their relationship status to engaged. I love it! For a while it was people I knew, but wasn't close to, but now that is changing as well and people I am close to, people I have shared countless memories with, are making plans to tie the knot!

I am not the first or last person to offer advice on wedding gifting and party throwing, but every penny counts right?

This post is going to focus on the bachelorette party, but I'm planning to do follow-up posts on everything else that we (the bridesmaids/friends of the bride) put together in an attempt to make the year before our sweet friend says "I do" a memorable one!

When planning the bachelorette party, we very quickly determined who would and would not be able to attend based on age. 3 of the bridesmaids were under 21, so we immediately counted them out for the big shebang. (We did, however, make plans for a "Mini-bachelorette" that would include everyone closer to the wedding).

The next step was figuring out where to host the party. The majority of the attendees lived in Atlanta, and while it sounded inexpensive, it also sounded a little...boring. I think we all also knew it would be challenging to stay on our home turf and not get very distracted running into friends, boys, etc. We contemplated coming up with a set of rules for if we stayed in Atlanta, but that basically turned the Bachelorette Party into a Follow-My-Rules Party and who wants to play by the rules? Not us!

We started tossing around destination ideas, including Texas (where one of the other bridesmaids lives), Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and the beach - Destin, Myrtle Beach, and Jekyll Island, to be exact. Ultimately we landed on Destin. Why?

1. Proximity to Atlanta
2. Great beaches
3. Party town
4. Inexpensive

I made a few phone calls, got in touch with someone at Dale E. Peterson Rentals - they were SO helpful and the condo we rented was seriously wonderful. I only had a few complaints - one, the pool was far away from the beach and not very nice, and two, the beach was reallly narrow in this area and there were tons of reserved chairs put out which made it dififcult to find a spot for our own things. In the grand scheme of things, not a big deal, but things to think about.

We arrived on Thursday evening and spent that night settling in, drinking wine, and catching up as only girlfriends know how to do. Somehow we stayed up until 3am on our "take it easy" night. Oops? I blame the champagne.

As resident party planner, I had little giftbags made up for all the bridesmaids. Little did I know, so did the bride!

Neither of the gifts were anything fancy - probably didn't cost more than $10, but it was the thought that counts! The sand bucket had names on the outside, plus animal crackers, aloe, glowsticks, and some other random goodies I can't remember. The party bags had sparklers, mini-liquor bottles, and customized wine glasses. So much fun!

Friday night was our big night out - matching outfits, sashes, paraphernalia, the whole nine yards. We planned to go to dinner, and then go straight from dinner to whatever bar was close by and had large groups of the opposite gender. Mission freaking accomplished.

We made a list of things for the Bride-to-Be to check off, and before heading out, we all agreed it was going to be a challenge to cross them all off. We could not have been more wrong. The second we walked into the first (and only) bar we stopped at, it was non-stop "let me check something off the list!" I can't believe I am going to admit this on the internet, but we came home with bras on the outside of our clothing, a pair of men's underwear, a condom, a photo of a bald man and a kiss, and a list that was used and abused. We also met more dudes claiming to be "Adam" than I ever could have imagined. (One of the items on the checklist was to kiss a man with the same first name as the groom).

We stayed up all night Friday night, watching the sunrise and generally enjoying each other's company. The rest of the weekend was a little more low-key, but we still managed to have a blast. I'd say grand total we each spent about $400, which for a weekend at the beach combined with a bachelorette party isn't all that bad in my book.

The bride had a blast, the bridesmaids in attendance had a blast, and I think it was one of those weekends I'll remember forever. There is just something to be said about the magic of drinking out of a straw shaped in the form of a male sex organ...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Daddys Girl

I wrote a post about my mom so it's only fitting that I dedicate a little corner of the internet to my dad!

If there were ever a child to belong to my father, it is me. I look like my dad, I act like my dad, I talk like my dad, I am built like my short, I am basically the female version of my obstinate, opinionated, pain in the ass father.

My dad also happens to be the first person I call for business advice, the first person to tell me how proud he is of me, the first person to help me before I ask for it, and the first one to give me his undying love and support.

My dad has pushed me further than I ever thought I could go. And trust me, I have pushed back. I have fought with my dad countless more times than I have agreed with him. I have gone weeks without speaking to him. (I don't think he was disappointed). When I make a mistake, my dad is the first person to point it out. It's maddening sometimes.

My dad is a fighter - not only did he kick cancer to the curb once, but he did it twice. He's battled for 10+ years and never once let it get him down or let it stop him. He may work himself into an early grave, but never will I say that my father is a quitter.

My dad may not be the handiest guy on the planet, and he may not be able to run a marathon, and he definitely can't spell any words with more than 4 letters without asking for help, but he is the reason I am who I am. Everything I do is so that I don't disappoint my dad, so that I can make him proud, and he never forgets to tell me that I have done exactly that.

From 2007 - June

And in case you didn't know, my dad has a fantastic sense of style...

My dad has shown me in so many ways what it means to love someone without words. He is my biggest fan, my biggest critic, and my best friend.

I love you Daddy, and happy late father's day.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

First Dates

So I've admitted to online dating. My feelings about it still haven't changed, in case you are wondering.

Here's what I want to know though.

Ladies: When you go out on a date with a guy, what do you do when the bill comes (assuming you were at dinner)? 

Dudes: When you take a lady out on a date, what do you expect her to do when the bill comes? 

I've kind of discussed this before, but not necessarily in this context (and it was a long while ago).

Here is what I do, and I think based on a brief Twitter poll it is incorrect. Can you believe I am publicly admitting I might be wrong?

If I met the dude via online dating, my expectation is that he is going to pay and I do not offer. I do not reach for my wallet, I do not pretend to reach for the bill when it gets to the table. I simply let him take the check and make sure I say thank you more than once. I had to explain this to a friend last night and my thought was this. When you are participating in online dating, especially on a site where you pay to use it, it's kind of like the first date has already happened. When you actually meet with someone, you really have gone through all the first date crap. You know where they are from, a few things they like to've done the basics. I see it as online dating skips straight to a second date. Am I making sense? How snobby and bratty does that make me sound? Don't be honest.

But, if I met a guy out at a bar and he got my number and we're going on a date, I think I'd assess the situation a little differently. I might even offer to leave the tip (if I have cash and if it's appropriate) or pay for the valet. Whatever will work.

But really, I think I am old fashioned. I think it's stupid that girls (my friends) reach for their wallets with no intention of actually paying. And really, if I'm going out on a first or second date with a guy who wanted to go dutch, we probably shouldn't be going out in the first place.

So back to my original questions.

Ladies: When you go out on a date with a guy, what do you do when the bill comes (assuming you were at dinner)? 

Dudes: When you take a lady out on a date, what do you expect her to do when the bill comes? 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday, My Old Friend

Were you wondering if I forgot I had a blog?

Oh right, you know me better than that. You probably assumed I had nothing to say.

I know, I know, let's be real, when is the last time that happened?

I can hear my mom from 600+ miles away shouting, "You haven't shut up since the day you started talking!"

Pipe down, mom. Some people don't know me the way you do, and I've got to keep the facade!

But just in case you were wondering where I've been, here's, quite literally, a snapshot view of what I've been doing.

I've been at weddings,

(where my best friend caught the bouquet)

visiting friends in Washington DC,

(where it was a whole hell of a lot warmer than in this picture)

floating down questionably contaminated rivers,

reading books,

(I might have liked it better from the mom's point of view),


(this is Sugar's internet debut)

perpetuating my leopard print obsession,

and basically pretending to be footloose and fancy free.

The thing is, I'm still busy. But if you noticed, that list was not consumed with things that require me to leave my house, or things that even require me to get out of my pajamas. This is a win-win for everyone, because if I had to do things that required me to leave my pajamas, it would be really awkward when I showed up in XXXL sweatpants and a "Rush Pike 2001" tshirt. Just sayin'.

What have you been doing?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Roasting a Chicken

Yep, I'm about to write ~300 words about roasting a chicken.

You start out with this:

You unwrap it. You wash your hands of chicken juice 9843920 times. Gross.

You pull all the really really gross stuff out and put it down the drain as quickly as humanly possible.

Confession: I bought a chicken and then froze it, and it was about 95% defrosted when I wanted to put it in the oven, and the innards were the part still frozen. Let me tell you - frozen innards are SO MUCH MORE PLEASANT than slimy, thick, thawed innards. Gross.

After the innards have been removed, place the chicken on a plate. (I'm kicking myself for not photographing this entire process, but at the time I was consumed with the thought of chicken juices getting on my brand freaking new, hasn't even left my house camera).

I haven't tried this method yet, but I basically have become obsessed with How Sweet It Is, so I took all of her chicken roasting recipes and combined them into one and went to town. Here's to hoping it turns out.

So first you cut up an onion and put it on the bottom of a pan. Then you shove a lemon & a head of garlic up where the chicken's sun don't shine. I didn't have a lemon & I peeled my garlic and put a bunch of individual cloves in. I also didn't have a whole onion, so I cut my onions a little...thin. Again, we'll see what happens.

Then, I returned to the chicken on a plate and drenched the chicken in olive oil on one side. Then sea salt, then black pepper. Then I flipped the chicken over and repeated.

Place chicken on top of onions. Wash hands. Then wash hands again. Place chicken, on top of onions, in pan, in the oven which was preheating to 425 degrees this whole time.

Leave it there for 90 minutes or so and don't mess with it unless you are in the middle of writing a blog post and decide it's absolutely vital that you take pictures of the dang  bird. Then and only then may you open the oven.

The end. The chicken turned out fantastically. My absolute favorite part about roasting a chicken is all the leftovers - you can do anything with them! Chicken Tortilla soup, chicken & egg burritos, chicken tacos, chicken salad...the options are endless!

So don't be afraid of roasting a chicken - just do it! It's a piece of cake!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Mom

This morning I decided that I am going to text my mom every day and tell her what I am thankful for. I figured this would come as no surprise to her, because I've also called her out of the blue with instructions for what to do should she find out I've been in a horrific car accident and also what to do if anything else happens to me where I can't communicate for myself. I need to revamp those plans, because my go-to people now live further away than my parents. CRAP.

Anyway, I didn't tell her I was going to tell her what I was thankful for every day, all I did was send her a text that said:

Today I am thankful for new friends. What you thankful for?

My mom texted me back a few hours later and said:

I am thankful for a good doctor report for your uncle.

This made me happy for so many reasons.

1. The fact that I randomly texted my mom and told her what I was thankful for and she responded back without batting an eyelash.
2. The fact that my uncle received a good doctor report. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer 18 months ago and has been kicking cancer's ass ever since.
3. That my mom is so selfless that she is not thankful for something for herself, but rather something for someone else (and what that means for his family/my 14 and 17 year old cousins).

There are so many things I am thankful for, new friends included, but you know what I realized? I am so thankful for my giving, loving, caring mom.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Tunes

I was listening to the radio last night on my way home from seeing Bridesmaids and I heard a song that I loved. It sounded really familiar. When it was over, the radio DJ annouced that it was Gloriana's new single, Wanna Take You Home.

I love it! This morning I got to work and promptly turned on my iPod. Typically I just turn on a playlist and let it run for the day, but today I carefully selected an Artist to listen to: Gloriana.

The band holds a special place in my heart. The spring after I graduated from college, their first single kind of became a theme song of sorts for my 4 best friends and I. We listened to it on repeat during roadtrips, on our way out to the bar, while we were getting ready for graduation, and so many other times. And by repeat, I mean 100+ times in a row. Seriously.

Some mornings I wake up to an email from one of those girls with the song lyrics and a simple "miss you, love you" and it warms my heart. No other words - just song lyrics. It kind of reminds me of that movie "Raising Helen" where the oldest sister gets so mad when the sister who passes away leaves Helen a note and all it has is song lyrics. That's how I feel about Wild at Heart - I just get it, and if any of my friends send me an email with just lyrics, I know exactly what they are trying to say.

To say that song brings me back to a place in time is a huge understatement.

I've been listening to their album on repeat all day (why I haven't done this before, I'm not sure) but I love it! All the songs are great, catchy, the singing is phenomenal...I highly recommend! And I hope you all enjoyed my little walk down memory lane.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

How To Fight the Afternoon Blues

In case you were unaware, it's Thursday. It's approximately 2pm and I could fall asleep with my eyes open it feels like. I have been staying up way too late this week between basketball games (I am obligated to say Go Heat!) & a coworker's last night in town, and today I am paying for it dearly. I am generally pretty good at keeping myself awake when the afternoon sleepies hit and I thought I'd share some of the ways I manage that with you guys. Despite my recent discovery of a delicious coffee concoction, I really make efforts to stay away from caffeine & soda. Honestly, it really messes with me! So here are my "au natural" ways to not fall asleep at your desk get through the afternoon.

1. Get up and walk around! This is probably my #1 go to cure. A lap around the office can work wonders, and extra bonus if you make a new friend in the office or combine it with a "work" conversation!

2. Grab a glass of water. It requires me to move away from my desk and then when I sit back down I have something to do (duh, drink the water).

3. Turn on some music! I have an iPod docking station at my desk and I'm lucky enough to typically have my office to myself, so I can play my music as loud as I want. Even when my officemate is here, we have the same taste in music so we have sing alongs! Even if you are working in cramped quarters or in cubes, you can still rock out with your headphones! (Don't forget to be mindful of your coworkers though!)

4. Do a brain dump. Getting everything on your probably endless to-do list down on paper will make your afternoon seem less daunting and more manageable, and will probably help you increase productivity and the more productive you are, the less tired you are!
5. Mentally check out for a minute! Check your Twitter feed, read, write an email to a friend, catch up on your favorite blogs...whatever you enjoy, take 5 and do that (as long as company policy allows!)

I wish I could come up with more, but I'm fresh out of ideas. What do you do to rejuvenate in the middle of the afternoon?