So…this is where things stand.

Just in case you had any doubts about whether or not I really wear this old gal. Or about whether or not it’s really as unflattering as I claimed.

Yup, a photo of me. In the world’s ugliest sweater. In a public restroom. At my office. With the tampon machine clearly visible in the background.

In case you hadn’t guessed, I am a bit checked-the-h out this week. (I mean really, I could have tried harder with that Photoshopped text.)(COULD HAVE BUT WON’T.) I have, ya know, two vacations right around the bend. And really the only thing I can focus on is that I’m going shopping over lunch for a couple of cheap summer dresses. So…yeah. Don’t expect much over the next couple of days.

But the fact remains. It’s freezing in my office. And I am not a liar.

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Going places.

So, try not to be too jealous, but I have two out-of-state trips in the next five days.

I know, you guys. Who do I think I am?

Answer: Awesome. I think I am awesome.

Both trips were decided within the last 12 hours, too, so you can’t even be mad that I haven’t told you before then. I share information as it hits me, folks.

First up, I’m hopping in the newly oil-changed Benny on Saturday for a road trip to visit the ever lovely Susan in DC. I haven’t seen her since my Chicago trip last April, and it has been far too long.

Sue and her boyfriend (who, incidentally is my good friend from college…totally taking all the credit) are in DC for the summer on legal internships. Plus, I have quite a few friends from college and past internships who have settled there, so it will be a big reunion all around.

It’s kind of nice re-visit a place you’ve been to several times. I feel zero obligation to see any monuments since I’ve done that repeatedly, so I can just focus on the people. And the Jumbo Slice, of course.

I’m only staying over one night, so then it’s back to New York on Sunday afternoon.

Then I go to work on Monday. Snore.

THEN. Joey picks me up from work and whisks me to the airport because we’re going to…Las Vegas!

I’m pretty stoked. I’ve never been and always wanted to see it. We’re going for two nights. JetBlue has this amazing deal going on where you can get the flights and two nights at a hotel over July 4th, so we snapped it up. It’s going to be over 100 degrees, and there’s a pool. Sorry I’m not sorry I’m going to finally stop being translucent.

I think I already have our dinner place locked down in Vegas, but any other recommendations are highly appreciated. (Assuming I don’t just turn into the laziest person alive and hang out by the pool all day. Which could happen. Just saying.)

Anyone else have fun plans for the holiday? Or recommendations for me?

What Working at a Wedding Planning Website Taught Me About Planning a Wedding

I spent the first two years after graduating from college working for a wedding planning website. It’s not really important which one, but it’s worth noting that it’s the “#1 online wedding destination.” So…yeah. The people who work there know quite a bit about this whole wedding-planning thing.

I was even working there while I was planning my own wedding. (Weddings were my life for a while.) And I like to think that I was able to go into that process a little better prepared than I would have been if I had gone in cold because a large portion of my job was to, well, plan weddings. Plus, I managed our message boards, where brides from around the world aired their complaints, bragged about their details, and begged advice from their more experienced peers.

And now I want to pass the lessons I learned on to you. Here are 7 things working at a wedding planning website taught me about planning a wedding.

{father-daughter dance}

1. If they pay, they get a (very large) say.
In short, the only way to have complete control over your big day is to pay for every single thing yourself. And, honestly, even then you’ll have to deal with a lot of opinions. If I had a dollar for every bride who went on our message boards to whine about over-bearing parents (who also happened to be footing the bill), well, I could have covered all my own wedding costs. Knowing this fact, it’s important to enter wedding planning with a lot of communication up front. Make sure you and your parents or future-in-laws are on the same page about what you want. And if you just don’t want to deal with it, scale back your wedding and pay for it yourself. You’ll be saving yourself a lot of headaches (and possibly a wedding you hate) down the line.

{man of honor & bridesmaids}

2. Be nice to your bridesmaids.
It should be an honor to be asked to be in someone’s wedding. You should be asking people you love and who have been a big part of your relationship to be part of one of the most important decisions of your life. You shouldn’t think that the second they agree they have signed a contract to be your personal slaves.

Your bridesmaids really don’t have to do anything except wear the agreed-upon dress and show up on-time and relatively sober. So no, they don’t have to plan or attend every pre-wedding party, they don’t have to construct your bouquets the night before the wedding, and they don’t have buy you a lavish gift. But if you’re as nice to them as you were before you got a ring on your finger, they might actually want to do those things for you.

{bridal party}

3. Don’t be a burden.
Speaking of that bridesmaid dress, you really don’t need to have the $500 brand name to have a beautiful wedding. Either consult with your girls (one-on-one) before making a choice so you know what everyone’s budget is or give them a choice based on a color palette or style. And don’t demand an exotic bachelorette party or that they stay in an expensive hotel the night before (unless you’re buying…and even then, ask nicely). They’ll have a lot more fun at your wedding (and helping you plan) if they’re not tormented by a credit card bill along the way.

{my dress}

4. Once you buy a dress, you really need to stop looking at dresses.
You know why? Because there are always going to be more/prettier/trendier dresses out there. Trust me. Bridal Fashion Week happens twice a year, every year, and that fact isn’t going anywhere. You will only drive yourself crazy if you keep scoping out your options after you’ve made a purchase. The same is true for reception halls, color palettes, and, well, spouses.

5. Engagement season lasts from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day.
Wedding season is technically from June to October, but even that’s broadening every year. Translation: You are not allowed to get upset when someone else gets engaged or is getting married around the same time you are. Prepare for the onslaught of “We’re getting married!” Facebook updates and back-to-back save-the-dates, and don’t expect your friends’ lives to stop for a full month or year just because you’re hitting a major milestone. Because, trust me, they won’t.

{one of my favorite photos of my mom and me before the wedding}

6. You are not the first or the only person to deal with that issue.
So stop the pity party. I promise you that no matter what your story is, I have heard crazier. There are people out there with truly insane (and sometimes dangerous) family situations, horrible diseases and financial burdens, and virtually any other issue you can think of. The second you start letting your problems be your excuse to misbehave or treat others poorly is the second you become a bad bride.

Don’t be a bad bride.

7. Sometimes, even those really pretty weddings fall apart.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time I got an email from a bride who had been featured on our website asking me to take her wedding down. Her husband had cheated on her only three years after they said “I do,” they were now divorced, and she would prefer if every Google search of her name didn’t bring up that pretty little reminder of the happy day they had shared.

The fact is, you can get every detail exactly right. Your color palette can be exactly on trend, you can be exactly the weight you want to be, your bridesmaids’ shoes can complement their dresses exactly, your flowers can never wilt, and you can even provide favors people actually want. But that doesn’t mean life is going to be perfect when the last of the confetti is swept away.

In turn, not everyone will love their wedding. Sometimes weddings just aren’t the fairy wonderland of perfection and joy that the wedding industry makes them out to be. Sometimes they’re just a big, complicated event that bring out the worst in people you thought you knew and you’re just happy the day is finally over. So if the cake is knocked over and the DJ plays the songs on your do-not-play list and your mom gets drunk and throws a temper tantrum, it’s important to remember that the wedding isn’t the important part; the marriage is.

{the walk down the aisle}

The rest? Well, the rest is just cake.

{all photos by Lime Green Photography}

On the education system

Joe:
*sigh* a teacher sent this email:
“Good morning guys,

The printer in my office is low on toner and is not printing good.

[named removed to protect the poor at grammar]”

me:
haha
It’s printing bad things, Joey.
Pictures of wars and rapists.

Joe:
well, say that..
lol
A TEACHER THOUGH, Justine!

me:
what KIND of teacher?

Joe:
responsible for raising and training our youths!
…Math, but STILL!

me:
haha

I’m rubbing off on him so nicely, aren’t I?

How to: Shrimp Fajitas & Michelob ULTRA Light Cider

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For whatever reason, summer seems to have hit New York with a fiery passion this last week. It’s supposed to rain sometime Friday, so hopefully we’ll get some relief, but as of last night, things were a bit, shall we say, steamy.

And not in a sexy way. There’s nothing sexy about the backs of your legs sticking to whatever you’re sitting on from the sweat. Just sayin.

The point is, the hubs and I were looking for some refreshment.

I’ve never been a huge beer drinker, and since my favorite brew isn’t even available in New York, I’m more inclined to order a cocktail, wine, or cider out at bars. The first drink I legally purchased (just moments after turning 21 my first summer in New York) actually happened to be cider.

Don’t believe me? Check it.

Photo taken by my darling friend Susan. Yes, I had short hair. Yes, I was fatter. Let’s move along, shall we?

The point is, I really love cider, especially in the summer. What I don’t love? The extra calories. Which is why I was really excited when I heard about Michelob ULTRA Light Cider.

In case you haven’t heard of it, Michelob ULTRA Light Cider is a less sweet, lower calorie alternative to traditional ciders. In fact, it has one third fewer calories than the average cider. Well played, Michelob ULTRA. Well played indeed.

We enjoyed our cider with homemade shrimp fajitas, which is quite possibly the easiest dinner ever.

Simply saute sliced peppers and onions for about seven minutes whilst lightly sauteing the shrimp in another pan.

I added a few dashes of paprika, cumin, and cayenne to each while cooking for a little kick. Once the onions and peppers are soft and the shrimp are pink and curled, you’re done with the cooking portion.

Add chopped veggies (like tomatoes and lettuce), freshly grated cheese, and some non-fat plain Greek Chobani in place of sour cream, and you’re done!

And I have to admit, Michelob ULTRA Light Cider made a pretty great pairing with the fajitas. It’s really refreshing (ideal for heat waves) and will appeal to anyone who likes traditional cider. (Translation: It doesn’t even taste like alcohol. Proceed with caution.)

Want to try it for yourself? Michelob ULTRA Light Cider will be available nationwide (excluding CO, UT, WY and OK) beginning May 7, 2012, and will be available in six-packs of 12-ounce clear glass bottles. And in case you like your drinks really cold, it can also be served over ice. Just got a little chill, didn’t you?

Have you tried this cider? Which favorite summer meal do you think would go best with Michelob ULTRA Light Cider?

Nothing special about it.

Before I tell you this story, I want to make one thing clear: I have always hated when delis and other eating establishments give their sandwiches or meals “clever” names.

Why, you ask? Because undoubtedly I’m going to want the thing on the menu with the most ridiculous sounding name. In my head, I’m ordering the spinach, brie, and turkey wrap. But on the menu, I’m ordering Laverne’s Dream Wrap. In my head, I want the chicken cutlet sandwich. On the menu, I’m ordering the Cousin Ed.

Awkwardness is unavoidable, and I hate it.

But you know what else is unavoidable? Delis with awkwardly named sandwiches. Or so I’ve learned.

Case-in-point, a certain deli caters our cafeteria. It’s fine. Rumor has it they’re being replaced soon, but none of the employees are supposed to mention it. Lest we spend a couple of weeks choking down spit sammies. But I digress. It’s fine.

EXCEPT FOR ONE THING. All of the wraps and sandwiches have funny names.

And sure, I could list out every ingredient I want in my sandwich just to avoid saying the name, but that’s not efficient. And when there’s a line of people behind me, I’m bound to panic and say something wrong. (THERE’S JUST SO MUCH PRESSURE TO HURRY UP.)

So instead, I’ll do what they want me to do. I’ll order the Samson Swinger. Or Carla’s Favorite.

But here’s where the real trouble begins. Because apparently the deli that caters our cafeteria has no idea what is on their menu.

A few weeks ago a little sign appeared on the counter advertising Karen’s Special. It sounded delicious: turkey, gouda, spinach, sauteed onions, and Russian dressing on a roll. What’s not to like? I noticed the sign when it went up (obviously this must be something new), but didn’t have a chance to try it until, well, today.

As I approached the counter, already dreading having to order some other woman’s special, I bit the bullet and ordered.

And the guy behind the counter stared at me blankly.

“What’s that?” he asked me, as if I was just some chump making up sandwich names.

I gestured at the placard and giggled nervously.

“Um…that.” He looked where I was pointing, but apparently had never noticed the sign before.

That had been there for weeks.

I turned it around to face him and he spent a solid thirty seconds staring at it.

“I don’t know if we have that cheese.”

Um…ok? I’m mean, it’s fine for you not to have every kind of cheese, but then why would you make a special sign for the sandwich you cannot make?

“Oh…that’s fine. Provolone is fine.”

He and the other cook conferred for a minute about the ingredients. They both looked stumped. They both gave me weird looks. Like I had made this weird! Like I had somehow tricked them by smuggling in my own sandwich sign when they weren’t looking.

“Really, provolone is fine!” I chirped, eyeing the line behind me uneasily. They both shrugged, made the sandwich. I took it, paid, and fled.

I mean, the sandwich was delicious. So it’s not all bad. But I’ll probably never order it again. Because lunch should not be that stressful.

And, you know, they’re getting replaced soon.

On local laws

Annie: I’m doing video lectures right now
in FL I can kill ANYONE I don’t know that comes into my house
they don’t have to threaten me or anything

Me: wow

Annie: you’re in my house – dead

Me: hahaha

Annie: OR my car!

Me: well, not ME. You know me.
I can barge in.
right?

Annie: true

Me: yessss

Ann: well – if you unlawfully enter my home i could probs kill you

Me: good to know
no barging

Annie: seriously
I’m gonna do so much killin