Saturday, January 28, 2012

Shopping in the laundry

Ah Laundry Day! Is it weird that I love to do laundry? I love doing laundry because it feels so good to have clean clothes and, because it takes a good chunk of the day, it forces me to do other stuff around the house while I wait to change a load. Our washer is a little possessed and you have to watch it like a hawk because it will just randomly turn off and stop running. Crazy washer aside, I love a good laundry day.


(Sweater: Thrifted; Tank Top: Ragstock; Jeans: Old Navy Socks: ??; House shoes: Gift (thanks, mom Newman!) headband: Ulta(?); scarf: found)

Laundry day always reminds me of how much clothing I actually own. It’s absurd. Due to our gazelle intensity, we have decided to seriously limit our clothes budget. So every time I do laundry it feels a little bit like I went shopping. Scratches the itch, if you will. Except for shoes. That itch will never be scratch.


One of the best Christmas/wedding presents I received were these house shoes. Our floor is linoleum so footwear feels like a must. These house shoes are so comfy and warm. J also has a pair. They go particularly well with our matching flannel pants. Which we wear pretty much all the time at home. Yep, we are weird.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Preparing for THE CHANGE part 2: The “Less is More” Wedding

(photo by April Holtan)

I’m not sure if it was insanity or genius that was at play when J and I decided to have our wedding in December: exactly six months after our engagement, the weekend before a major holiday, outside of Chicago, the day after I was to finish my master’s program and only three months after J had started working in D.C. (spending most of the six months before our wedding not residing in the same city, state, or even region of the country for that matter!) After all was said and done, I do believe pure genius was at play with our timing and location of our union.


(photo by April Holtan)

Let start with time to prepare. Six months leaves just enough time to plan a lovely occasion and no extra time to do things that ultimately will increase stress and money spent. For instance, we did not have time to do “save the dates” because by the time we got the (emailed) invites out, we were half-way there! Emailed invites that linked to our (very basic) wedding website also cut time in half (and they were free, thanks to some amazing friends!) because in this day and age, it is a whole lot easier to get an email then an address. We did not have time to plan/buy/create elaborate decorations and instead used what we already had: vintage books and newspapers, mason jars, branches and candles for the tables, and white holiday lights hung around the hall: easy and free!

(our emailed wedding invitations c/o Alyssa and Kyle Trulen)

Six months also meant we had to find a venue right away and eliminated places that had year-long waiting lists (and would have cost more than what we were budgeting for). Since Chicago-land is known for being a pricey place to rent wedding space, we got creative, and found what turned out to be the best venue for a wedding ever! We found (under “creative spaces for family events” on the Lake County website) and booked The Libertyville Civic Center on the same day and we even got a discount because a family member was a resident! They could not have been more accommodating. No hidden fees and we were able to hire our own caterer and bring in our own alcohol. And with the help of John’s entire family they staged a “barn-raising” the weekend of the wedding and made it look amazing!


Like I said before, J and I spent the majority of the six months leading up to the wedding apart. Being apart was no good but it also reminded us daily that the wedding was the beginning of our life together, thus, giving us perspective about what was really necessary. When we only had half an hour a night to talk, we didn’t want it taken up with wedding details. Instead, we decided on essentials back in August and pretty much stuck to those essentials through out the process (meaning no adding things on a whim like party favors, chalk board with menus on them, photo booths, or variations on the guest book because we felt inspired). It was great because rather than spending hours, say, creating a seating chart, we just didn’t have one because it wasn’t an essential (though I will say, it’s good to have a reserved table for both sides of the family…oops!) Those essentials were put into written form and were then transferred to a shared google document that we could both view and edit. We had google docs for our budget, guest list and to-do list. Even at a distance we could check off things on our to-do list together. But more importantly, it gave us a chance to talk about things that had nothing to do with the wedding.


(a personalized batch of wine from J's dad's winery!)

Since we had adopted the “less is more” mentality (and thanks to all the people who pitched in to help) the weekend of the actual wedding was fun. I mean it. I had a blast all weekend and it would not have been possible if I was worrying about the non-essentials. J and I even got the chance to go out for coffee Friday morning just the two of us and again for breakfast the morning of the wedding (read: no hair appointment of some ungodly hour). This was by far the most wonderful treat we could have given ourselves. After so much time apart, J and I worried that the wedding weekend would feel like one more hurdle instead a joyous time. Getting to spend time just the two of us washed that worry away and remind us of what we were committing to.

John & Rachel from a simple expression on Vimeo.

Here is little peak into our wonderful day. Thanks to Alyssa and Kyle Trulen for capturing these moments.

Happy Hour


I wore this outfit the other night to meet up with J and some of his friends for a happy hour. I found it challenging to dress for the occasion, knowing that I would be out numbered by professional wear. I also had an unreasonable urge to wear this little jacket. I have had for probably six years and I love wearing it but always have trouble knowing what to wear it with. I finally settled on this.


I found the top a thrift store a while ago and I love the material. It’s light and for a girl who sweats standing still, this is crucial. And with just a little pop of color I felt like it gave this outfit some needed energy.


The happy hour was fun, though, it was much later than the usual happy hour so it was basically like going out on a Wednesday night, which for us old farts who have traveled on the metro for half an hour to get home, it felt late. We will most likely save happy hours during the week the early evening to allow us that extra happy hour of sleep.

top: Thrifted
Tank top: Express
Jacket: Old Navy
pants, scarf: Target
Boots: Kohls

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Planning for "The Change": Gazelle Intensity

Top (with personal edits), Sweater Scarf: Target
Pants: Revival (Originally Express)
Boots: Kohls
In the months leading up to our wedding, J and I joked about "the change". This refers to all the things that happen after people get married: the weight gain, the laziness, the full on crazy, the skeletons coming out of the closet to play, the squirreling of food, money or small objects, the realization that the other person has weird quirky habits, sounds, smells and ways of communicating - basically all the things you desperately try to hide from one another when you are not committed for life. I am happy to report that only a few of these have popped up and its usually in hilarious circumstances.
The one change we spent a lot of time planning for was finances. It started with the wedding and very consciously choosing a "less is more" mentality. In the very early stages of the wedding planning we sat down and (attempted) to make a budget. It was a bit of a debacle but we tried again and came up with a budget that we both were committed to. My parents had offered us a finite amount of money to work with and from there we were able to really focus on the essentials: people, food, drinks, dancing. Making a wedding budget was a small window into what we would need to do when we were married. And it was great. It kept us honest, humble and happy to focus less on the millions of ideas out there for weddings and focus on other things: our ceremony, our relationship and our future.
(still getting dressed everyday...trying to ward off THE CHANGE!)
Another way we started planning our finance was by getting advice from others. One such person is a certain Dave Ramsey. We both were pretty skeptical because he seemed a bit hokey on the outset but after rave reviews from friends (and my father), we took the plunge. On a trip from IL to IA we listened to several of his audio lectures and let me just say - it changed us. Not in a life altering way but definitely in a perspective kind of way. Ramsey talks about "Gazelle -Like Intensity" when paying off debt and after hearing this, we got excited about paying our debt off and have made life choices that will allow us to do this sooner. Rather than live in a more hip area of DC, we chose to live farther out because of what we can save in rent equals the ability to pay off our loans faster - like four years faster. And it's been good. Really good.
(mmmm coffee)
Gazelle Intensity has continued into our marriage. Bi-monthly budgeting is still keeping us honest, humble but also incredible grateful for what we have. And the only squirreling away of money we've encountered is toward those pesky loans.
(close up of scarf)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Attempts at new beginnings

Top: Revival
Sweater: Target
Jeans: Target
Shoes: Payless
Scarf: F21
Necklace: F21
Earrings: Swapped
I have a back log of outfits so some of these (including this one) are from several days ago. I absolutely loved this outfit and wore it with the hopes of it ended of my new driver's license. Alas, the driver's license gods are definitely against me and I left the Motor Vehicle Administration with nothing but a big does of disappointment. Things had been going so well with the "changes". Getting my new social security card was pretty easy, changing banks - no problem. But transferring my name on a new state license?! You would think I was applying for citizenship of the Almighty State of Maryland! Needless to say it was a bit of a blow to be rejected by the State of Maryland via the MVA.
Back to the clothes. I love this outfit for its functionality It came together because of a system of clothes organization I have in our new place. We have one, sad, little closet and since John has to look more professional than I do daily, his clothes seemed better suited (ha!) in that closet. I don't mind, because it means I now get full use out of my awesome stand alone clothes rack that lives next to our futon (yep, you read the right). Because my clothes are on display every time I'm in our kitchen/living area the ideas for outfits flow like the wine (mmm wine...).
The rests of my clothes are in drawers that are easy to access (and keep organized). This top has normally been buried under other tops along with this sweater but now, thanks to better organization, they are easily found which = easier to wear. My scarves are also on display so I don't forget about them and my jewelry hangs neatly in the bathroom on little hooks ( a lifesaver for place with limited or strange storage). In other words, creative organization creates more fun getting dressed!
Proud of myself? Yes, even if the MVA doesn't think I'm so great.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Everything but the hair color

My silence over the last few months (eek!) has been abominable. I feel this way because so many great things have happened in my life and so many great outfits have been worn and I have neglected to document both. My apologies.

Here's a bit of a recap:

Ten Things (in Chronological Order) that have happened since I last wrote:

1.) Finish my master's program
2.) Finished supervising student teachers
3.) Packed (again)
4.) Got married
5.) Moved half-way across the country (the following day)
6.) Settled in to our place right outside of D.C.
7.) Began my new role as "Life Facilitator"
8.) Officially changed my name
9.) Went on a wonderful honeymoon
10.) Chopped off my hair

I will write more in upcoming posts about some of these (mostly 4 and 7) but today I am going to focus on the most recent happening.
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After hemming and hawing for what seemed like months (ask J) I finally decided to go ahead and get the locks chopped. I have sported short do's many times in my life and have generally come to the realization that I like my hair more when it's not dangling in straggly strands down my back. I was extremely nervous but was so happy with the results.

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The hardest part was picking a salon. For years, I went to the same salon and had the same hair stylist cut my hair. She was someone I felt who knew me, knew my hair and knew (when I used to get shortcuts) could give it the wow factor. That's a lot to live up to, if you ask me. But I went in with an open mind and remembered: it's just hair. It will, in fact, grow out. I did a little research but ultimately went with convenience.There is a salon on the the way to the metro where I drop off/pick up J so I went with that one. At to my surprise, I loved it. I was just going in to schedule an appointment when they told me they had one opening so I took it. So happy with the results. It was a wonderful experience and I will definitely go back there again.
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These pictures were taken the day I got it cut. Since then, I have been playing with how I style it. I love actually having style to my hair again. I think my hair thanks me too.

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Sweater: Revival
Polka Dot Tee: Old Navy
Jeans: Stuff Etc.
Wedges: Old Navy

I had a friend ask me how did it feel to have everything in my life change but my hair color. Seems pretty accurate, don't you think?
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