August 7, 2014

To Being Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving


Happy 30th birthday to me!!!!! 

(Totally kidding about all of those exclamation points...)

Ugh, you guys, I'm sort of grossed out that I celebrated my 26th birthday shortly after starting this blog, and, apparently, thought I had the wisdom of the world. You'll notice that in my prophetic blog post celebrating the big 2-6, I vowed to never drink brightly-colored alcoholic beverages, wear fraternity date party tshirts around town, or return borrowed clothes un-drycleaned...

(I currently hate twenty-somethings...including my former self.)

People keep asking me how I feel about turning 30...if I'm depressed, excited, etc. The thing is, it's not depressing at all...it's just weird. It's feels like it's supposed to be an age where you reflect on the milestones you've accomplished....and those you haven't. Talk about pressure, people!

I will say, it's the first age that I feel like you can maybe start to see the direction of other people's lives...and even perhaps start to compare lives with them. Careers, relationships, money, social groups, appearances...it's all so stupid to compare, really. I mean, no one is going to "have it all" ever, so why is there all this pressure to re-evaluate our lives at milestone ages? 

I was telling a bunch of co-workers yesterday at lunch, that I honestly believed that by age 30, I would be just like Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30 and be Editor-in-Chief of a fabulous magazine, live in a gigantic New York apartment, and have a driver pick me up for work every day (is that really too much to ask?).

But, chauffeur or not...I'm happy. And that's the most important thing. There have been times in my life when I was doing exactly what I had always pictured...but felt so unhappy and restless. Those times have made me really appreciate moments when I feel peaceful and content.

So, originally, I was going to make this Toast something like "30 Things I Learned Before Thirty" or like "30 Milestones I'm Proud Of" but, quite frankly, I feel like I have zero advice to give anyone and I'm not sure I'm not sure I've achieved 30 remarkable accomplishments.

(I did, however, learn how to flat iron my hair sometime in my early twenties, and am proud to say that decade was mostly frizz-free. So, yay for that milestone!)

In lieu of providing wisdom you already know or forcing you to read my accomplishments that you've probably accomplished too, instead, I thought I'd give you a glimpse into what I did instead of writing this blog entry. 

And if these are some of the things that are what 30-somethings do, then I am VERY excited to be entering this decade. 


30 Things I Did to Put Off Writing This Blog Post

Researched how to make homemade, organic cat food. I'm not sure how Brendon would feel about me spending more time making food for the cat than I do for him. Also, it involves buying a meat grinder. Eh. Maybe not. 

 Folded laundry. Yep, even the underwear. 

Drank raspberry tea that claims to reduce water retention. 

 Took a RealAge.com test. Googled "Are RealAge.com tests correct??" 

 Watched 60 Minutes. My new Sunday Funday. 

 Online shopped for napkin rings. 

Took selfies with my cat. 

 Wakeboarded for approximately six minutes and was sore for the next five days. 

 Googled "Am I too old to wear a crop top?" (Answer? Yes. And much too pale.) 

 Replaced broken, dollar store picture frames with MUCH more sophisticated, sturdy decor...frames from TJ Maxx. 

 Wrote a recommendation for a young woman going through sorority recruitment this fall. Noticed what year she was born. 1995. Cried. 

 Skipped this season of The Bachelorette, because I was too busy watching House of Cards and The Newsroom. Who am I and WHERE IS WHITNEY??? 

 Went out for dinner and drinks until 10:30 on a weeknight. Was exhausted for the next week. 

 Bought high heels that were a mere 3 inches high. No more tottering around on 2 inch platforms and 5.5 inch heels for me. 

 Looked up voting locations in a county election. Googled "Why is my kitten trying to nurse on me??" 

 Noticed a targeted ad in my email for "lactation specialists." 

 Took two Tums for heartburn, following a glass of red wine. 

 Tried to remember my Twitter password. 

 Gchatted with my friend Anna about her weekend plans. Sympathized with her decision about whether to go to the beach with friends or sit at home and clean. 

Went to bed at 9 p.m. on a Saturday. 

 Researched if there is an online e-course to become Catholic. (There's not....I may have to reneg on the Catholic conversion with Brendon.) 

 Paid the lawn bill. 

 Offered to host a baby shower. 

 Looked up the LinkedIn profiles of former Laguna Beach castmates. Andrea was involved in this research as well, obviously. 

 Brainstormed with Brendon about how we could redo our closet. 

 Posted a Facebook status about being in the last days of my twenties. Received little to no sympathy.

 Facetimed with my Mom and Dad. 

 Fell asleep last night in my favorite Ole Miss shirt and running shorts, cuddled between my handsome, snoring husband and my purring, gassy cat. 

 ******************************

As you can tell, I was unofficially inducted into the semi-boring, thirty-something spirit long before actually turning the big 3-0. 

Today, the morning of my 30th birthday, I awoke to the cat pouncing on my face. I can only take this to mean that my 30s will be full of surprises. 

And maybe even a little lactation.

#toastingthirty


Me, with my first cat, O'Malley. She hated everyone.
Me, with Cooper. He hates everyone but me.

July 20, 2014

To Cooper the Kitten


Okay, so remember like two and a half years ago when Brendon promised me a puppy if I supervised the remodel of his bathroom???

Yeah. Me too. Still no puppy.

And no one's bitter, I swear.

Well, flash forward two years and an engagement and wedding later, and it turns out that neither of us would have even have had time to raise a dog over the past couple of years. I traveled like an insane woman for work, and then everyone we've ever known got married, and then so did we.

So yeah. We were just too busy.

Brendon's LUCKY that all worked out for him...

However, as it turns out, we DO have time and interest to raise a cat these days.

I know some people lean completely one way or the other when it comes to begin a cat or dog person. But it just so happens that we love both.

As a gift for my big birthday that is rapidly approaching, Brendon swore up and down that he would get me a cat, and last Friday, we went to the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County to look at ze kitties. 

And that's where we met our new son....Cooper.
Yes, our son. Totally normal to call a cat your "son," right?

Cooper (the cat formerly known at the Humane Society as "Cuba") is four months old and was rescued as a kitten, along with his six sisters. Apparently, Cooper became the runt of the litter because his sisters bullied him and kept him from eating. 

To quote Stephanie Tanner: How RUDE!

The Humane Society even had to put him in a separate cage from his sisters so precious little Coopy Poopy could eat! Even with a couple weeks of eating on his own, he only weighs two pounds, though he should probably weigh about four. 

While Brendon and I liked lots of the kittens and cats we met, there was just something special about Cuba-now-Cooper. He was calm, thoughtful, and purred nonstop when we held him.

We. Were. Sold.

As it turned out, the Humane Society had a $20 adoption special this weekend (adoptions usually run between $100-$150), so, in an effort to save money but still ensure we got Cuba, I arrived at the Humane Society bright and early Saturday morning, while Brendon wished me luck in the kitty-free-for-all, and headed out to his pre-scheduled golf tee time.

Whose birthday is it anyway???

Alas, I was the first one in line, and got to adopt our now-beloved son.

And I've officially turned into a crazy cat lady.

(I mean, I haven't even blogged in full about my wedding day yet, and it's been three months since then, but I've already made blogging about my cat/son a priority....)
Cooper and I arrived at home, and he immediately began to scope out his new laundry room palace. 
We bonded in there for about four hours, playing with his one and only tickle-y, feather toy.
And then he got back in the box, just for kicks.
I introduced him to his carrier, and, thanks to an egg crate mattress and Sponge Bob Squarepants towel, he likes it even better than a bed. What cats actually LIKE their carrier??

Answer: Cooper.
Those eyes. Do you SEE why he's not just a cat, but my SON?!?!?
Brendon and I let him out of his laundry room palace when we got home later that night from a friend's BBQ. 

Let's just call Brendon "The Cat Whisperer," because, despite bonding with me all day, all Coops wanted to do was be with Brendon when we got home.

Every kid likes sitting on their dad's shoulders, right?
Scoping out his reflection in the window.
DON'T EVEN. That cuteness is KILLING me!!!
He slept in his laundry room palace on Saturday night, completely without incident. When Brendon woke up this morning, he made both Cooper and me breakfast.

 (But left litter box duty for me...so far, I love being a mom.)

Today, we've spent the whole day giving Cooper crazy amounts of attention. But, for the most part, he did exactly what kittens do. He chewed things he shouldn't chew, like the magazine basket above.

(Fine by me, I hate that basket.)
He explored every nook, cranny, and couch cushion.
He watched me eat my scrambled eggs with much interest, then pounced on me, causing me to spill shredded cheese all over myself.

(Also, he likes cheese.)
He scratched at chairs that shouldn't be scratched.

But who could stay mad at his "Who, me?" face??
And cuddled a little more with Dad.
And, of course, he also got his first real dose of nature (meaning, he went on the screened-in sun porch) and was mesmerized, understandably, by the bird sounds. 

I pray I will be there when he sees our squirrel family scamper up tree.
This evening, when I asked Brendon if he loved Cooper, he replied "I might love him just as much as I love you."

I can't tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but what I do know is....I don't get head scratches like that from Brendon. 

Welcome to the family, Cooper!!!!! 

#hangingwithmrcooper

May 21, 2014

To Wedding Planning: The Bridal Portraits

Good morning, Toasties! If you are like the majority of my family and friends (and husband) you are probably sick of hearing about our wedding, especially if you follow me on Instagram

So if you're totally over it, my feelings will not be hurt if you want to abandon my blog completely.

If not, then let me tell you about getting my bridal portraits taken.

Prior to wedding planning, I sometimes forgot that I was from Texas. Born and raised in the heartland of everything that is bigger, better, glitzier...and full of itself.

My Texas blood, combined with my newfound status as a resident of the Deep South, led to my transformation into perhaps the scariest type of bride:

A narcissistic, Mariah Carey-esque diva, with no sense of shame regarding continuous self-promotion.

(Puh-lease, like you all didn't expect this from me.)

One of my favorite Texas wedding traditions is that of the bridal portraits. Most of my friends from other parts of the country were a little confused as to why I was getting pictures of just me taken in advance of the wedding.

Wouldn't I rather save wearing the dress for the day-of? 

Wouldn't I rather have my pictures taken with Brendon??

The answer?

Heck. No.
You see, in Texas, it's customary for wedding guests to enter the reception and be greeted by a humongous, professional portrait of the bride in her dress.

Again...no, not the bride AND groom.

Just. The. Bride.

(Whose day is it, anyway??)

In my opinion, this makes complete sense, as the wedding guests have just seen the bride at the ceremony, but haven't had a chance to fully judge every wedding dress detail up close and personal-- and heaven forbid these cherished loved ones and friends be forced to wait and withhold judgment until the bride and groom enter the reception.
So anyway, about a month before the wedding, I had our wedding photographer take my bridal portraits. Brendon and I did our engagement photos at the Brooks Museum, the site of our wedding, so I wanted to take these photos somewhere different...somewhere special.

For a brief moment, I considered flying my photographer to my parents' new house in Charleston, SC to take the photos, but that seemed excessive, even for me. 

So, I chose my next most-special spot.

My workplace.

Listen, before you think I'm a crazy person, let me tell you -- I work at the prettiest place on earth. It's a sorority headquarters, and considering I moved to Memphis and met Brendon because of this job, it only made sense to have my bridals taken there.
It was fun to get to do a "dress rehearsal" (literally) with my hair, makeup, and gown, for the big day. Most importantly, it allowed us to get a lot of the "detail shots" of stuff that I otherwise may not have had time or even remembered to get on the big day.

Okay, so we actually got tons of photos of the flowers and rings on the wedding day, but this was just a pretty picture.

Ah, but here is a detail shot that I would have never gotten on the wedding day. For Christmas, my mom and grandmother gave me something old, new, borrowed, and blue.
  • An old handkerchief, carried by my great grandmother on her wedding day.
  • New wedding jewelry, including earrings and a bracelet.
  • A borrowed, lace Bible from...er....oh, nuts, now I forget who let me borrow it. Doesn't this make you want to loan me stuff??? Well, it was borrowed from someone very special, I'm sure. If this is your Bible, let me know
  • And, finally, a hanger from my family South Africa with blue stitching. 

I am so glad I got several of these photographs during my bridal portraits, because, as it turned out, the hanger wasn't strong enough to hold my wedding dress, so I had to forsake it the day of the wedding, and, to make this Borrowed Bible Situation even worse, I must have just completely forgotten to bring it with me on the wedding day. 

And I have no idea where it is now. 

Luckily, my bridesmaid Kate led a prayer the day of the wedding, so I was not without spiritual guidance!
A warning to petite brides who are considering trumpet-shaped dresses: I am 5'2'' and when I purchased my trumpet-shaped dress, they told me hemming it would be no problem, as the alterations person would merely need to lift the skirt to be higher on the dress, rather than hem the trumpet skirt and have the trumpet start around my ankles.

THIS WAS NOT TRUE. Because my dress was asymmetrical, the only thing my alterations lady could do was hem the bottom of the skirt. She told me if I wanted the dress to look even a semblance of proportional, I had to make myself at LEAST 5'8''.

Which, for those of you doing the math, meant I needed 6-inch heels.

Let's just say my feet are still writhing in pain from the wedding.
Here is one more detail shot of the bouquet....
And, voila! The complete look. As you may have seen in photos when I was shopping for the dress, or even the photos above, my dress had a removable, shoulder-pouf, thingie. I ended up only wearing it for the reception, as I had a cathedral-length veil for the ceremony.

My dream was to have a veil even longer than Princess Kate's but unfortunately it doesn't seem those come standard. Or cheap.

Who would have thought?
However, while we are on the topic of Princess Kate, I do think it's important to note that she did her own make up for her wedding day, which inspired me to do my own, as well.

As I've mentioned before, I can have a bit of a heavy hand when it comes to applying make up (again, I can't help it....I'm from Texas) so doing my own make up made sense for me.
I also did my own hair for my bridal portraits and wedding day. And that decision had nothing to do with Kate Middleton, and everything to do with the fact that I hate when other people do my hair. I know some people love that feeling when they leave the hairdresser but, for me, I never look like myself. I always hate it.

So, in all honesty, while my hair could have looked better, at least doing it myself kept my sanity in check.
Isn't my photographer just the best? Love Christen Jones.
While my workplace is just as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside (and even has a beautiful gazebo and garden) unfortunately it was raining on the day of my portraits, so these were the extent of my "outdoor" pictures.
You may not believe it by the looks of me, but I really did get a spray tan for these portraits.
Just imagine how ghostly white I was before (::shudder::).
A lovely, artistic shot from the second floor, looking down on the first floor.
You know. Eyelashes and such.
Here's a shoulder-pouf moment!
...Aaaaaand back to veil. Also, see why I couldn't have the skirt simply "lifted"????
Here's a shot I love, of my bouquet in my workplace's museum. 

I love working in a sorority world.
And a pretty shot to conclude the portraits! I will be back next week with more wedding photos, but for now, have a great Memorial Day Weekend, Toasties!! XOXO

April 27, 2014

To Wedding Planning: Saying "Yes" to the Dress

Christen Jones Photography
Ohmigosh. 

It's hard to believe I've been a married woman for three weeks. 

Scratch that. 

It's hard to believe I've been a married woman for three weeks...and have not blogged a single picture of the dress. 

Like most women, I've spent the better part of my 29 years fantasizing about the "perfect" wedding dress.  My mom and I have spent decades glued to shows like A Wedding Story, Say Yes to the Dress, and I Found the Gown. Up until my own wedding gown-shopping experience, I assumed the level of drama portrayed in these shows was standard for most brides. 

Which is why I was kind of disappointed that it didn't take me very long at all to find my wedding dress. Less than an hour and a half, in fact. Literally, it will take me longer to write this blog post than it did for me to find my wedding dress. 

Further, I didn't have any sort of dramatic, "Say Yes to the Dress" moment where I'm sobbing hysterically into a puff of tulle, vascillating between an A-line or princess gown.

In fact, the whole wedding dress-buying process was so serene and relatively normal -- both bizarrely out of character for me -- that even now, 11 months later post-wedding, I'm still waiting for buyers remorse or some sort of PTDD (Post-Traumatic Dress Disorder) to set in. 

Now, future brides, let me warn you -- people told me that I shouldn't go into wedding dress shopping with an exact dress or exact style that I had to have...but of course I didn't listen. 

And you won't either, I'm sure. 

Like you will as well, I went in with a very particular vision, tried on a few of those dresses  -- and unfortunately I realized that "people" are right. If you've never wedding dress shopped before, you are going to have no idea what looks good on you. 

Here's the story:

Last June, my mom and I went to Low's Bridal, a huge bridal superstore in middle-of-nowhere-Arkansas, to do my wedding dress shopping, with absolutely no expectation to find THE dress on our first appointment.
Laura Orr Interiors
I started off dress shopping completely "wedded" (ha!) to the idea of a lace dress. I LOOOOOVE lace dresses. In fact, I still look at lace wedding dresses today, and am so in love. S0, after sharing this vision with Karen, my bridal consultant, we set off on a lace-filled journey.

I tried on about five lace dresses in a row, none of which were worthy of pictures. I think Karen was really taken aback by the fact that my mom and I could literally blink at each other, with a dress only half on, and know that it wasn't worth zipping or buttoning fully. 

(Shopping prowess is a dominant trait passed down among the generations of women in my family.)

Finally, Karen insisted I come out of the dressing room into the mirrored area, so I could have a better idea of what these lace dresses were looking like.

Check out my body language in the picture below and tell me if you think I was happy with how the appointment was going.
My clenched fists and pursed lips say "no" louder than my voice ever could.

The three of us went back into the racks of dresses to continue the quest for my perfect lace dress. 

Then, among the hundreds of dresses, I found one. A lace dress that looked exactly like what I had envisioned.
Forgive my bra strap.
I really, really, REALLY liked this dress. I spent a fair bit of time in it, trying on different belts, veils, jewelry, etc. I really thought this dress was "The One." I just loved it. It was simple, elegant, and looked like what I thought people would expect to see me in.

But...there was just something nagging at me, though...I couldn't pinpoint it, but I knew I wasn't ready to commit to that dress that day. We were down to the last 20 minutes or so of my appointment, and I just knew I couldn't buy it right then.

That "nagging feeling" was definitely God intervening, as one month later, one of my best friends, Rachel, walked down the aisle in a dress that was so similar, it could have been the twin of my almost-dress. 

Rachel, being a tall, tan, supermodel-looking woman, looked one million times more gorgeous in that style than I ever could have. That dress was hers all along -- not mine. 


Rachel, in a similar lace dress, looking stunning on her wedding day.
Feeling slightly discouraged, as I think my mom and I both wanted "that feeling" about the previous lace dress, we asked Karen if there was any other section of the store we could browse in before the end of our appointment.

"Well, there's a couture section upstairs -- "

Karen could barely finish her sentence before my mom and I were knocking into each other as we dashed up the stairs. The couture section was everything I imagined it to be. Nearly every dress was displayed on a mannequin. There were velour couches. Runways. Gigantic mirrors. Soft lighting.

Arkansas Bride
I've never felt so at home.

However, despite being in a new area of the store with a mere 15 minutes left in the appointment, I was still stuck on the lace concept. I tried on a lace dress by the famed wedding dress designer, Pronovias. 

Lace had not proven to be my friend.
My mom said she really liked it, except that I would need to get a boob job for the dress to look right. 

And people wonder where I inherited my vanity.

I changed back into my boring, old, non-couture clothes, ready for lunch and feeling optimistic about other bridal appointments I had in my back pocket. I took one last look down the mannequin-filled hallway.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a flash of pink (yes, pink). I hurried down the hallway to get a closer look, and saw the most fun dress I had ever seen. I knew it was "The One" before I even tried it on.

I hurled the mannequin over my shoulder and tumbled back to the room where my mom and Karen were saying their goodbyes. 

Breathless and out of time, I begged Karen to let me try on this one, last dress. She said that dress had just come in and she hadn't seen anyone try it on yet, and so she acquiesced.

Fluffy, silk, one-shouldered, covered in blush accents....and no lace at all...no one was more shocked than I was that this was the dress. What made the selection all the better was that my mom couldn't have agreed more. We both just KNEW.

(I like to think Karen, "just knew" too, though she wasn't quite as wild about me spending 30 minutes in front of the mirror, admiring myself.)

I walked out of there with a dress that was 100%, totally different than anything my mom and I had ever envisioned. But, then again, I had never really imagined I would marry a Canadian either, so, clearly, life is somewhat out of my control.

And that was that -- I said yes to the dress.

On our the way out of the store, we noticed a giant sign that said "Absolutely NO photos allowed."

Oh. Oops. 

Sorry, Karen.
Christen Jones Photography