Happy Valentines Day!

I had fun last night taking these photos with my flashlight and slow shutter speeds :)

Happy Valentines Day WordPress friends and family! I hope you have a wonderful day.

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A Strange Tradition

Weddings are strange. Amazing, but strange. Two old and strange traditions that come to mind are when the bride chucks a bouquet of beautiful flowers at all of her un-married friends while “all the single ladies” blares in the background, and then shows a little too much leg to her friends and family while her new husband takes off her garter and throws it to all of his un-married friends, who in most cases run away and let it fall sadly to the ground. Oh, that didn’t happen at your wedding?

But I think the strangest wedding tradition of them all is eating your frozen-for-a-year wedding cake. Who’s idea was it to wrap up a perishable sweet in plastic wrap and let it take up valuable space in your freezer for an entire YEAR before eating it? I like to think we took great care in wrapping up our cake to avoid damage or freezer burn, but sadly, when we pulled it out of the freezer we could see ice crystals forming. Yet, we still moved it from the freezer to the refrigerator 24 hours before we planned to eat it, then set it out on a cake stand a few hours before dinner and expected it to taste like it did when we fed it to each other in front of 100 people (again with the strange traditions) exactly one year ago. 

We sliced open the cake with our engraved cake cutter and server, and served ourselves a slice each (on paper plates..hey, who wants to do dishes on their anniversary?). We took the first bite, after a year of anticipation (not really, I forgot about our cake a week after our wedding) and we were both pretty disappointed. Why would we think this was going to taste good? After twelve months in the freezer? Who knows. Maybe because it was our wedding cake. And it tasted so good that night, and wishful thinking never hurt anyone, right? The upside to this story is the cake still looked gorgeous after all that time! And it helped remind us of how truly wonderful that night was.

We paired it with a little pink bubbly that our friends brought us home from Champagne, France. Not too shabby.

Would I do it again? Can’t say I would. One bite of that grainy, stale, soggy, old cake was enough for me. Sadly, the rest went in the trash.

This is what our cake looked like in all its glory on September 18th, 2010…When it still tasted good..

Wedding Details

Since I am on the wedding topic already…here are some of the details from our day that I really loved. All photos were taken by the same photographers listed in Steal my Heart Away.

I bought all the girls champagne glasses and wrote their initials on them with pearl letters I bought at Michael’s. I did MOB for Mother of the Bride,  MOH for Maid of Honor, and Mrs. for me. The MOH is the one pouring the drinks in the photo.

The guest tables had centerpieces of floating purple orchids topped with white floating candles.Our sweetheart table had a different centerpiece than the rest of the guest tables. We had white and purple floating orchids, as well as purple and white calla lilies and tons of purple and white candles. All the tables were sprinkled with purple rose petals.

We used wine corks for the name cards and our favors were wine stoppers with purple grapes made of Murano glass. We chose those favors because years earlier when we visited Venice together, we fell in love with the beautiful Italian glass, called Murano glass. These reminded us of our time in Italy together, and went with our wine theme of the name cards. We also had a candy bar where people could fill up small, to-go containers with their favorite candy. The kids loved this table! The seating chart was framed and placed on a table covered in orchids. Our cake was beautiful and simple. The cake was made by the Forest House Lodge, and our florist added beautiful orchids and greenery to match the rest of the wedding. She also added a few feathers to the top to match the ones in my bouquet. We had an amazing florist, who I would recommend to anyone in the Sacramento area- Design with Florae.

My bouquet from Design with Florae was gorgeous. Full of calla lilies, orchids, roses, berries, and a few feathers. She did an amazing job.

She also created beautiful bridesmaid’s bouquets and groomsmen’s boutonnieres as well.

She did flowers on our Chuppah, on the backs of some of the chairs, and sprinkled rose petals down the aisle.

She used hydrangeas in the chuppah flowers as well as on the chair bows to match the theme of our Ketubah (Jewish marriage contract).

Here are our programs, which we placed on every other chair.

 Cheers!

Steal My Heart Away

This Sunday marks exactly one year since I walked down the aisle to Van Morrison’s Steal My Heart Away (only the best wedding song on the planet). 

For some reason this year has gone by faster than any other year I can remember.  Much faster than the year we spent engaged, planning the wedding. Much faster than any year I spent in high school, or college, and definitely faster than every year I spent waiting for my 21st birthday to come. This has been one of the best, worst, and hardest years of my life, yet it seems to have flown by.

The site above is from the Forest House Lodge in Foresthill where we got married. This venue was AMAZING, from the ceremony site, to the game room, to the food, and the exceptional service.

Over the past 12 months we have parted ways with old friends we grew apart from, and have made a few new friends. We sadly watched  some of our closest friends move to a different city, but were lucky to have my parents move back to the city we live in. We became an aunt and uncle (my husband has been an uncle for 10 years already) to the most adorable twin baby girls you’ve ever seen. We’ve traveled to New Orleans, Hawaii (twice), and taken many short trips to the Coast, Lake Tahoe, LA, and the Lake. We both had some-what major birthdays last year (I think major birthdays are ages ending in either zero or five). We have watched half of our bridal party get engaged in the last year, went to weddings and wedding events/parties and even threw some of those parties. We have both taken up new hobbies and interests (photography, blogging, and gardening to name a few) and have had fun pursuing them.

Although it may be obvious as to why this year has been the best (being newlyweds can be pretty great) it may sound weird to hear that my first year of marriage was also one of the hardest and worst years of my life. The reason is that my husband and I grieved three deaths of people extremely important in our lives. His grandfather, his aunt, and my friend of 20 years. Neither one of us had experienced very much death in our lives so this was really difficult for us. Without each other I don’t know how we would have gotten through the really tough days.

Despite the sadness we both experienced, I can still say it was one of the best years of my life . I love being married. I love my husband, and I love that we made such a huge commitment to each other. After what we’ve gone through together this year, I know that no matter how hard things get we will be there to get each other through whatever comes our way.

Now, I usually refrain from telling people this next part because I like to think of myself as a strong, independent woman, and I think it makes me sound sort of cheesy and sappy and like the only thing important in my life is being my husband’s wife. And although I do value that role, it is not my sole reason for living, regardless of what the next statement makes you believe.

So here goes…. Walking down the aisle was the happiest moment I think I have ever experienced to date. There was just something about it. Having my family and closest friends there was part of the excitement, walking down to (like I said before) the best wedding song on the planet, seeing the smile on my soon-to-be husband’s face and knowing we were about to make this statement together made that moment more special than any other time in my life. I’d like to say graduating high school, or college, or getting my driver’s license, or meeting the president (haven’t done that one yet) would top the list, but they don’t. And if that makes me pathetic, so be it. If I could relive one moment of the entire wedding (which was amazingly awesome and fun from beginning to end) it would be walking out of my little “holding tent,” and down the cobblestone pathway toward my husband. When I have bad days I sometimes think about that moment (again, please don’t judge me for my cheesy/sappiness) and when I listen to that song it can literally turn my mood around.

I am just happy I found the person I am going to spend my life with, through the good times and the bad.

What song did you walk down the aisle to?

All photos were taken by John Decker and Anne Chadwick Williams.

What’s In a Name?

I got married last September and when I said “I do” to my husband,  I also said “I don’t” to changing my last name. Before the wedding I did go back and forth a little on the idea of having two last names. I remember thinking, “Well I want people to know we’re married,” and “Wouldn’t it be easier if we had the same last name?”  Ultimately I decided I didn’t care if people thought we were married, because we knew we were married. And having two last names on top of my already long middle name was just too much.

Photography by John the Photographer

Most people I tell this to don’t understand my reasoning. Some people (mostly older women) are shocked and even offended that I didn’t make the “full commitment” to my husband and take his name. Yes, that has actually been said to me before. Other people think I did it because I’m lazy and didn’t want to go to the DMV (this one could be partially true), and a “friend” recently told me in front of all her friends that I only did it because my mom didn’t change her name when she got married, therefore it must be a tradition. Cause you know, I can’t think or make decisions for myself.

So here’s why I didn’t do it-  It wasn’t because I am already established in my career with my maiden name and don’t want to confuse people, it wasn’t because I felt like it was something I had to do, or I had pressure from my family. I kept it for me, and me only. It is my name after all. My name is a part of me, and it always has been. I have had it since I was born, so why change it now? I also have a sort of love/hate relationship with my name. It isn’t the most beautiful sounding name or the easiest to spell, and I often get sick of people misplacing the ‘h’ or mispronouncing it all together, but once again, it is mine. It reminds me of that side of my family who although they’re kind of crazy, I absolutely love and wouldn’t trade for anything. I like being a part of that group, I like the connection we have by having the same name that was given to all of us as newborns.  My name also reminds me of my heritage. It is a Jewish name that has been shortened over the years, but I know where it came from.

Now, as much as I love my husband (and his last name isn’t too shabby either) I didn’t feel right losing my independent identity just because I married him. Because he is the kind of man he is, he didn’t care either way. When I was discussing it with him before we got married he even once said “Why change your name? Who cares? We’re still going to be married. If you don’t want to change it, don’t.” This is one of the many reasons why I know I married the right guy.

So, when we walked down the aisle after we said our vows, the officiant announced us and said “Amanda and Troy as husband and wife!” instead of “Mr. and Mrs. Troy____” I loved this announcement. That is what we were—husband and wife. I was not just the “Mrs” version of my husband, I was a part of a marriage and a commitment, but I didn’t need to lose myself to be in that commitment. I have always hated when women agree to be announced or even addressed as “Mrs. John Smith.” “Mrs. Smith” is one thing if you decide to change your name, but why in the world is it okay for your FIRST name to be replaced by your husband’s? As if you are no longer your own entity, and only his first name is important enough to be announced to all your friends and family.

* Disclaimer-  I am not saying every woman should keep her last name. That is a choice each woman needs to make for herself. It wasn’t right for me, but I don’t judge anyone who follows the tradition of taking on her spouse’s name. But why don’t the men take our names? Okay, okay, even I know that would never fly, but then why should we be judged if we don’t take theirs?

The End of a Love Affair

I have a love other than my husband. A love that is so strong, we cannot be away from each other for one day or I have withdrawals. Oh…that isn’t love? That’s an addiction?

I'll even drink whatever this is... (These were actually really delicious candy covered cappuccinos)

Okay then, I have an addiction. I am absolutely, completely, utterly addicted and in love with …coffee. I drink it all day, everyday. I love black coffee, coffee with soymilk, iced coffee, hot coffee, latte’s, macchiatos, cappuccinos, espressos, and even frappuchinos on occasion. I love it all. I love the taste, the smell, of course the wake-me-up affect, and just the process of walking into a loud coffee shop and yelling out my drink. After I pick up my drink, before I even take my first sip, I am happy. Whatever is going on in my day, my life, it goes away for a split second and is replaced with pure bliss because I know that I am about to drink happiness.

My mom bought me this magnet when I got my first apartment.... Enough said.

I am a coffee fiend. When I wake up in the morning, my first thought is, “coffee? coffee? where’s my coffee?” My biggest nightmare is waking up and hearing my husband say “Oh, yeah, we’re out of coffee,” because then I will have to wait until I am showered and ready to go out the door before I can have my first sip. And on those days, I’m moody. Extremely moody. On days where I’ve had to wait 2, 3, 4 hours before having my coffee, most people in my life know to steer clear until we can go through a starbucks drive-through.

My daily routine is as follows, I get the coffee pot ready the night before every workday. I put the freshly ground coffee in the filter and the water in the coffee pot, so all I have to do in the morning is press “on.” Five minutes later I’m sipping happy. Then, I shower, get ready and head to work. Once I’m at work, I head downstairs to meet a friend for…wait for it…coffee. We head to the starbucks located inside my building and depending on how I’m feeling I order either a grande or a venti coffee beverage of some sort.

The "Gold Card"

I have a starbucks rewards card that I continually re-fill so I can get a free drink after every 15 purchases and the baristas all know me by name. I once added up how much money I’ve spent on Starbucks in the past year based on how many free drink coupons I’ve received in the mail. The amount was astonishing and I vowed to never count that number again.

If I’m really having a rough day, I head down to starbucks for a second time around 2:30. Usually for a sweet drink that is loaded with sugar and empty calories, but it. tastes.so.good.

So, last Wednesday when I woke up not feeling well enough to go to work, I called in sick to the office and crawled back into bed. I slept for a few more hours and woke up around 9:00. I went out to the living room to rest on the couch and stared longingly at the coffee pot. I thought to myself “coffee probably won’t help my stomach ache/exhaustion so I guess I’ll pass today.” Not to mention I felt too tired to get up and push the ‘on’ button anyway. My plan was to stay in bed/on the couch for the remainder of the day and get some rest. I fell back asleep again around 1:00. I woke up an hour later with a pounding headache. I am not prone to migraines but to me, this was a migraine. I was miserable. “I must be dying,” I thought to myself. Then I realized, I was having withdrawals. Over the years I have come to recognize what a “caffeine headache” feels like, but I always know just how to fix them. Drink a cup of coffee, duh! In this case, I didn’t want to. I wanted the headache to go away, but I also wanted to feel better and be able to sleep as much so I refrained. I tried advil, lots and lots of water, and sleep. Nothing worked. Basically, I went to sleep that night with the same headache I had at 2:00pm that afternoon.

Thursday morning I woke up headache free, and decided to skip the caffeine again because I thought “maybe this is good for me.” Not to mention I’ve been under a little stress lately and thought the caffeine would only make me more high-strung. So I went another day. And by noon the headache was back and I was on to the advil and massaging my temples as I worked.

Then it was day 3. I thought..”Okay, it’s been 2 days already, why not keep this up. The headaches are gone..I can do this. Bring.It.On.”  But they weren’t gone. They came back each day, just later and later in the days. I took my advil and went on with my day.

I am now on day 5, which is a day I never thought I’d see. I felt good this morning. I woke up, jumped out of bed and didn’t look back. I had energy…without drinking coffee. I think that means I had real engery. Not that simulated, fake energy that caffeine makes you think you have. But real energy. I’ve kept it up all day long and despite a slight pain that is lingering in the back of my head, I feel damn good. Soon the headaches will completely subside and I will no longer be a prisoner to this addiction that I believed was true love. Yes, I will miss all the wonderful things I listed above, but I won’t miss being addicted to something that made me moody and unpleasant in it’s absence. Nor will I miss the afternoon headaches when I haven’t had enough,the stained teeth, or the coffee breath!

My good friend and fellow blogger Britt Hedin has decided to quit with me and is slowly weaning herself off of coffee and energy drinks too. Click here to check out her blog- she might even post about quitting coffee!

I believe this could be the end of a love affair….