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Jul 30, 2020

The Guys Behind the Blog // July Edition

It's so hard to believe that yet another month has come and gone!  I'm a little bit saddened that the bulk of summer is behind us, but I can't lie, I'm so excited because it means that our wedding is less than a month away!  Just four weeks from tomorrow, I'll be walking down the aisle toward AJ.  

(Confession time:  I've always had this thing where I get sad at the end of vacation or a holiday.  Not just like "oh, that's sad that it's coming to an end," but a deep ache where I really feel saddened by it being over...I've been that way since I was little and I'm already feeling that a little bit about our wedding!  That is, until I think about the fact that the marriage part is what I'm really excited for, and then I just can't wait all over again!)

Next time AJ is on the blog will be our next Guys Behind the Blog August 27, the last day of him being a single guy...but for this month, we're talking about the way to our guys' hearts....through their stomachs!  We're getting into the details of what makes our men swoon and what makes them squeamish when it comes to food...so check out AJ's answers below, and then link up with Laura and I for The Guys Behind the Blog, July edition!

1 // What is your all time favorite food?
My favorite food kind of depends on the day… But right now my favorite food is Blueberry pie as made by my lovely fiancé. It’s really the best and probably the main reason that I decided to propose way back when!

2 // Who is the cook between you and your significant other?
We are both the cook.She can do everything, and I choose not to do anything the way that you’re supposed to do it… So I think we make a pretty good team. And also she is ok with cooking by my main rule which is “If you don’t make a mess, You’re not doing it right”.

3 // What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?
I ate alligator once, Which is super weird for me but I think some people in the south would disagree.  I also ate Zebra once at some weird event… The alligator was like tough chicken and the zebra was really good. This confirms my suspicion that we only eat cows and chickens because they don’t bite the way that alligators do and zebras are way faster than cows!

4 // Are there any foods that you absolutely detest?
There is only really one food that I detest I think… I should clarify, I don’t WANT to detest it … I have tried really hard to be friends with it … But every time I try I feel like the relationship just leaves a bad taste in my mouth (HA! GET IT??) … That food is green beans. And Green Beans, If you’re reading this I want you to know that I still have the upmost respect for you.

5 // What is your favorite local, little-known, or hole in the wall place to eat?
It runs in my family to love what most people would consider awful little hole in the wall diner’s and restaurants so this is a great question. One of my favorite little places back home in Reading would be the West Reading Diner. It’s not really that bad in terms of being a hole.. But It is small and holds a lot of memories for me of being in a band and going to get diner food late at night after shows. Also, I ate there with Betsy and some friends a few years ago…. We weren’t even dating yet!! ;) In Boston I think my favorite little place to eat is this place called the “Hidyan Cafe”. It’s just a tiny little sandwich shop on the corner of a street in my neighborhood and they make food just like another sandwich shop called “May’s” that’s on the corner in the neighborhood that I grew up in back home! They also make the BEST froyo at the Hidyan Cafe and I want it right now……. So I’m gonna go……

(I don't often comment on his answers, but I feel like I need to say two things:  when we cook together, he is very messy, and he likes it that way. (And I follow him around cleaning up behind him, but we'll just let him think that I'm "ok" with his little rule.)  And secondly, I would have to disagree with him on the West Reading Diner...it is definitely a hole and I've never had worse home fries than the ones I had the night we ate there with some friends before we were dating.)  

Well, that wraps up July!  The link-up will be open below through next Friday,  so join in on the fun!  Interview your guy and then link up below!  And make note of the following questions for next month's link-up, which will open on Thursday, August 27!

August Link-Up Questions: 
1 // Share a funny wedding story with us - it could be from your own or one you attended.
2 // On the topic of love, who was your childhood crush?
3 // What is your top love language? What is your significant other's love language? 
4 // How did you meet your significant other? 
5 // If you're engaged or married, how did you propose? If you're not, how did you ask your girl out? 

Jul 29, 2020

My Summer Skincare Routine

My skincare routine changes with the seasons. Throughout the fall and winter, my skin often needs a little bit more moisture-care, but come summer, I'm all about going light and free, which mostly means minimizing the amount of makeup I wear. I love the sun-kissed glow that summer brings, but if my skin isn't in great shape, I feel super self-conscious not wearing anything.

I've always struggled with having really large pores and in middle and high school, I had bad acne. In fact, it still rears its ugly head now and again, and I always think that I must be too old for this! I went through so many different prescription skin-care treatments during high school and know how hard it is to struggle to feel confident in your skin. Now that my acne is (mostly) gone, I realize that taking care of my skin is even more important to keep it in good shape. I'm not afraid to invest in good products and find the right routine for me.

Like I said, my skincare routine changes with the seasons. Not all makeup is created equal, and my skin has different needs depending on the weather. It gets pretty humid in PA during the summer, so often, my winter makeup routine ends up feeling a little sticky when I follow it in the summer months. When it comes to summer skin care, my typical routine includes keeping it light with some BB cream, blush, and mascara.

The most important thing, in my opinion, is to not get stuck in a makeup rut! It's ok to break up with your makeup routine if it's just not working for you! Maybe you're like me and you just need to adjust and tweak with the seasons, or maybe your makeup routine is due for a complete overhaul.

Remember that makeup is meant to enhance your natural beauty, not to cover up issues you're having with your skin! If you're having more serious issues like rosacea or acne, then I really encourage you to find products that work to treat the root of the problem and not just cover them up. Think of it this way: your skin is the one thing that you wear every day. So why not invest in taking care of it? That means investing time into making sure your skincare routine is right for you!  Whether you have acne or rosacea, or another skin issue, it's incredibly important to treat your skin well and take care of it!

Rosacea, in particular, is one condition that is important to treat and not just cover. Rosacea can often affect your confidence.  Galderma is on a quest to help people break up with their makeup, and if you have rosacea, then I encourage you to check out their products that are specifically designed to treat rosacea! One of those treatments is their Soolantra® (ivermectin) Cream, 1%, which is FDA-approved for once-daily topical treatment of inflammatory lesions, or the bumps and pimples, associated with rosacea.

Learn more about rosacea and other treatments offered by Galderma on the Break Up With Your Makeup page. While you’re there, be sure to vote for your favorite no-makeup selfie and story, and you could win one of three $500 gift cards.

Important Safety Information - Soolantra® Cream
Indication: SOOLANTRA® (ivermectin) Cream, 1%, is indicated for the treatment of inflammatory lesions of rosacea. Adverse Events: In clinical trials with SOOLANTRA Cream, the most common adverse reactions (incidence ≤1%) included skin burning sensation and skin irritation. Warnings / Precautions: Not for oral, ophthalmic or intravaginal use.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Jul 28, 2020

A Beautiful Bridal Shower

A few Saturdays ago, things got real.  My mom, mother-in-law, and bridesmaids threw the most beautiful bridal shower and all of a sudden, the reality of this is actually happening sort of hit.  (Did anyone else experience this?  it didn't feel real until your shower?)

My shower was a gorgeous surprise.  Despite the fact that I found out about it about a week before, it was still filled with so many sweet details and touches.  The entire theme of the shower was such a surprise and nothing like what I expected (though apparently, all the inspiration was drawn from my Pinterest!).  They went with a black, white, and pink theme and it was really just perfect.  From the floral centerpieces to the games to the food, everything was handpicked and thought out.  

The menu included croissant sandwiches, chilled strawberry soup, and my favorite, a replica of Magnolia Bakery's banana pudding, among other treats!  Everything was delicious and made by my mom, who put so much thought into every menu item and tried to craft it around things I love...needless to say, she did a great job!  

My bridesmaids planned out some games that were a ton of fun.  They asked AJ a bunch of questions ahead of time and then we played a game where I tried to guess his answers.  If I didn't get the answer right, I had to stick a piece of bubble gum in my mouth (and they didn't choose small sticks either!).  They also had some printed games for people to fill out while I opened gifts and even had people leave me advice and date night ideas.  It was so much fun to read through those later that evening and we will definitely be keeping all of those on hand!

I was so blessed by my bridal shower.  The expert planning that went into it, all of the people that attended, and all of the gifts that AJ and I were given all made us both feel so so loved.  I think my favorite part of the day was just being surrounded by so many women who have spoken into my life and have watched AJ and I fall in love.  I'm not sure what it is about it, but it feels like this whole wedding thing is actually happening now, and not just some distant event we've been planning!

The girls put together a cupcake decorating station.  Once everyone had decorated their cupcake, I chose which one I thought was the best and that person won a prize.  Then, everyone was able to take their cupcake home as a favor!

Some of the decor included photos of AJ and I from our relationship and engagement session.  It was so special and fun to see those photos displayed around the party!  

My mom's friend has a daughter who likes to bake, and my mom knew how smitten I am with naked cakes, so she called her up and asked if she'd be willing to try making one...it was such a hit!  Filled with raspberry and frosting, it was delicious, and it looked absolutely gorgeous with all of the berries and flowers on it!

When I walked into the party, everyone was lined up to throw glitter on me...I definitely ended up with some down my dress, but I thought it was a fun and unique idea and it was a special start to a special day!

This is my grandmother and I...she just had her knee replaced in June, so I was so happy that she was able to make it to the shower!

While I opened a few gifts, Amanda (AJ's sister) called him so that he could "be there" with us.  His two aunts gave him a drill, so he was able to be on the phone while I opened that gift, and our moms gave us a gorgeous set of Calphalon cookware, so we called him while that one was being opened.  I can't wait to decorate and set up our future home!  We are definitely blessed with so many generous friends and family!

I made sure to take photos with each of my bridesmaids...this is Jen, my Matron of Honor (and our little ring bearer in her tummy!).  I had the joy of being her Maid of Honor, so it's so fun to have her by my side through all of this!

This is Chelsea.  She's my cousin's wife and she's also pregnant with a little girl (yay!).  Her husband, Matt, and I are only a few months apart and were best friends as kids (and are still close today).  I was able to be in her wedding as well, so it's really fun to have her as a bridesmaid in our wedding!

This is Natalie, another one of my lovely bridesmaids!  Many of you know her as the girl behind A Tiny Traveler, but she's also about to be my sister-in-law!  She'll be marrying my brother at the end of September, so AJ and I are excited to be in their wedding while they're in ours!  

This is Amanda, AJ's sister.  She was one of the masterminds behind the decor for the shower, and came up with the idea that the shower should be unexpected and different than what our wedding will look like, which was a terrific idea!  Amanda is headed to law school in just a few weeks, but luckily will be flying home for the wedding. 

This is my dear friend Courtney.  She sadly won't be at the wedding, as she lives in Argentina, where she's a teacher, but she was able to be at the shower while she was home for the summer and she and her mom, Sherry, did all of the beautiful florals!

And here are my moms...my mom (on the left), and AJ's mom (on the right), played a HUGE role in making my shower absolutely perfect.  They are both so great and I'm so excited and blessed to be marrying into such a solid family.  Just last night, these two ladies got a head start in tackling our seating chart and they handled it like a boss!  I couldn't ask for better women to be by my side during this planning process.

And last but not least, this is my Aunt Chrissy.  She's my mom's sister and also my godmother and we've been close my entire life.  She was a big help to my mom in prepping all of the food for the party and I'm so grateful to have her in my life! 

I loved everything about my shower and wish I could do it all over again!  It was so much fun and AJ and I are totally blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives!

Jul 24, 2020

Orange Mint Shirley Temples

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WaterOnlyBetter #CollectiveBias

There's nothing better than a girls' night in, in my opinion.  I've always loved hanging out with my friends at one of our homes, wearing comfy clothing and enjoying an evening of fun and laughter and chatting with your besties.  In a season where the stress of wedding planning or pregnancy is hitting nearly all of my friends, sometimes, a night in with the girls is just what the doctor ordered.  

This summer has been crazy, to say the least.  It sort of felt like it never started and yet here we are on the brink of August and I'm not sure where it all went.  Between my brother graduating from college and the discovery of lesions on my dad's brain and AJ heading back to Boston for Berklee's summer semester, May was crazy enough, and then June hit with the accident and our church being catapulted into the hardest season we've ever faced.  

With all of that happening on top of planning our wedding, there's been little time for true relaxation. No beach trips or days spent lounging by the pool.  Heck, except for that one day trip to Rehoboth, DE, where AJ and I took a walk along the beach, my toes haven't even touched the water, and that is pretty much the saddest thing ever!

But in the midst of all of this craziness, I've learned time and again how important it is to carve out time to take care of yourself or spend time with your friends.  I'm such a DIY bride that I've had countless evenings of painting, staining, and putting together the bouquets and boutonnieres for the wedding, and my Matron of Honor, Jen, has been there to help me so many times!  A few weeks ago, she spent a few hours with me just hanging out while we put together some florals and she's offered her help so often since.  

While DIY work nights are great, I really think it's also important to just have some time to relax and enjoy time with your girls.  Because this is such an exciting season for so many of us, it's also fun to glam things up a little when the girls come over.  At-home pedicures or manicures are made even more special when you add some sparkle!  And that sparkle can come in the form of a great atmosphere, delicious snacks, or, in this case, fun drinks!

I love a good Shirley Temple (who doesn't?!), and this one is made unique by the inclusion of orange and mint.  It's a great (easy) option for your next girls' night or solo night in!  So mix some up, light a few candles, put on a record, and break out the nail polish for a great spa night at home!

+ Canada Dry Sparkling Seltzer Water, Madarin Orange flavor
+ Fresh Oranges
+ Fresh Mint leaves
+ Maraschino Cherries
+ Grenadine
+ Ice
+ Granulated Sugar

To make this fun sparkling drink, start off by rimming a few glasses with granulated sugar (might as well go all out, right?!).  Then, fill the glass with ice.  Personally, I go for crushed, but it's totally your preference!  Pour a can of the Mandarin Orange sparkling water over ice, and toss in a couple of cherries, a spoonful of the juice from the maraschino cherries, and two spoonfuls of grenadine.  Top the drink with a few mint leaves and a slice of fresh orange, and you're ready to go!

The great thing about this drink is that you can totally customize it however you'd like.  The mandarin orange version is delicious, but you can do a lemon-lime version with the Canada Dry Lemon-Lime Sparkling Water, or choose one of the other yummy flavors.  All of the varieties of the Canada Dry Sparkling Water have zero sodium, zero calories, and natural flavoring, and are available at Wal Mart!  And right now, you can save 50¢ on one (1) 12-pack cans of any flavor of Canada Dry Sparkling Seltzer Water with this coupon.  


Jul 23, 2020

Romper Life

Back in April, AJ's mom offered to take me shopping for some clothing for our honeymoon as an early birthday present.  Her theory (and one that I totally love), was that it's just fun to have some new clothing when you go on a trip, so we set out on a few little shopping excursions to find some "resort clothing" for me that is fit for a week on an island!  

We hit some of the usual spots, like Old Navy, and then, a few weeks ago, we headed to Lancaster to grab some other pieces before all of the summer stuff is replaced by fall clothing.  Despite trying time and again, I haven't found a romper I liked until now.  I think it's mostly because my hips are on the wide side and most rompers aren't made for that...if I find something that fits my bottom half, it's huge on top.  But when we found this one, I knew I had to try it on!

This piece restored my faith in rompers (to be totally honest, I'm not sure how much faith I had to begin with....but let's just go with it).  It's pretty, a great color, and unique...I don't think I've seen one that's so swingy before!  And because of that swingy-ness, it's so comfortable. 

And apparently, it makes me look like a dancer.  The day I took these photos, my best friend and I went to get manicures, and halfway through mine, the lady doing my nails looked at me and said "You're a dancer?"  (which, I think is a strange, rather matter-of-fact way to ask someone that sort of question)  I replied "Nope, not really" (I figured I couldn't exactly count the year of ballet I did as a 4 year old...), and she went on to tell me that my outfit, hair, and makeup made me look like a dancer.  I'm going to blame it on the outfit, because I wear my hair and makeup like this almost daily and I've never had anyone tell me that I look like a dancer before.  

Romper:  H&M
Necklace:  Target
Sunglasses:  Target
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