Friday, May 31, 2013

On My Favorite Things

Happy Friday, y'all!  We survived the week and lived to tell the story.

In the spirit of randomness and sharing, I'd like to talk about people/products/songs/stuff that I really like.  Nobody is sponsoring this post (I'm just a little baby blog), so I'm just writing about these things because they're awesome.

~ Extra creamy iced coffee. It's getting hot in the DC area, so I just had my first iced coffee for the season. I only like iced coffee during the warm weather months, and I like it really creamy.  As I pour the cream, I know just the shade of tan I'm looking for that lets me know it's going to taste just right.

~ Oyin Juices & Berries leave-in conditioner.  I'd been using their original Greg Juice formula for a while, and then they created this formula.  It smells amazing! It's for all hair types, and I've used it every single day for years, no matter what style I'm wearing.

Oyin is the coolest company. It was founded by a husband and wife team who have a great story. Read about them here. Knowing that I'm buying products that are made with love by a loving couple, just makes me happy. They have the coolest store in Baltimore, and my husband and I love to visit from time to time to buy products and to soak up some good energy.

~ Weight Watchers. I'm not a dieter, but my post-wedding chub was getting out of control, so I gave it a try. I mentioned that I'd lost most of my post-wedding weight in an earlier post, but I never talked about how I did it. In addition to exercising, I joined WW. I only do the online version, but it works for me. I'm a numbers girl, so I'm fascinated by the tracking system.  I like to go back and look at the data for my really successful weeks.  It's flexible. I still follow my dietary rules, and I can splurge from time to time.  I'm a big fruit and vegetable eater anyway, so I'm winning on WW. 15 pounds down and counting. I'm about to be fine this summer. I'll blog more about this on another day.

~ Taborah. She's Tyson's trainer at PetSmart. You can tell that she really has a passion for what she does, and I love watching passionate people at work.  Tyson LOVES her, and she's really patient with him, even when he is rambunctious and tries to take over the class.
My hubby trying out some of Taborah's training tips with Tyson during a training session. 
~ Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

If you want baby-soft skin, then you should try this. It's super affordable and is sold online (Amazon, health/wholistic websites).  I've also seen it in my local health food store. I mix it with some apple cider vinegar and apply it as a face mask. It may hurt a little because when it dries, you can feel it pulsating. I like to think it's pulling out the toxins. This product gets rave reviews online. I rinse it off and moisturize with a little coconut oil. I'm about to be fine and have great skin this summer. Go on and make your face happy!

~ Budding romances. I'm watching a friend of mine become quite smitten with a new suitor.  It makes me all giddy. Listening to her makes me all nostalgic.  It makes me think about my early dates and adventures with my husband. I just love love!

~ Car washes.  I don't think I've washed my car since 2012. Maybe once, but I can't remember. I took my car to the car wash today, and I realized that my car still looks good!  My husband used to take my car to the car wash for me, but he stopped because he said that I didn't do a good job of keeping it clean.  I commute. The car is my rolling office. I also have a bad habit of just leaving things in the car with the intention of bringing them in the house at a later time.  I had 6 coats in the car last week before I broke down and brought them in to hang in the closet.  I've decided to take matters into my own hands. I am vowing to wash my car on a regular basis.  Keeping it clean will hopefully keep my desire for a new car at bay for a little while.

~ All for Love by Bilal. It's not a new son, but it still gets to me every time I hear it. Besides admiring his amazing vocals, take in the lyrics to the song. Uh-mazing.

"I am a seeker in search of a dreamer. She dreams . . . " Go 'head and saaaaang the song, Bilal! 

~ Weekends. I love weekends. I love being up late on Fridays because you can sleep in on Saturday mornings. I love weekend brunches filled with long conversations and mimosas. I enjoy weekends in the spring and summer because we usually grill and spend time on our patio. This weekend my husband and I are going to see Kim Burrell, and I can't wait. I've told y'all about her in this post.  Just do a search for her on YouTube and enjoy. She's a singer's singer. So many great vocalists cite her as their inspiration

Enjoy your weekend. Make the most of it!

Until next time . . . I need to get my favorite dress of the moment out of the cleaners. I want to get fancy to see Kim Burrell this Sunday!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Support My Friend!

Hey everybody!

I've shared with you all that I'm a church girl.  I started going to church in the womb.  Growing up, I sang in the church choir and even participated in a singing group.

If this pic doesn't scream 90's, I don't know what does. Yes to those flying saucer hair cuts! 
Well, if you look closely, you just might recognize the guy in the picture.  That's Robert Glasper, jazz pianist extraordinaire, who also happened to be our church piano player back in the day.  He's like family.  So humble. So funny! He's not just brilliant; he's a great person.  Do your ears a favor, and pick up his music if you don't have it.

I was perusing Facebook the other day, and saw that Robert and filmmaker J. Kevin Swain have a launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary project that will detail Robert's music and life behind the scenes.  Check it out:

Support, support, support!

Until next time . . . go over to Kickstarter and donate!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

On Choppa Style: My Hair Story (Pt 2)

Happy hump day, good people.

So yesterday, I talked a little bit about my big chop, and today I'm back with part 2, reminiscing about my past hairstyles.

I'm still loving my new haircut.  Just like in my last post, I'm still grooving to "Choppa Style" in celebration of my big chop!

I told a few of my friends that this cut takes me back to 1999 when I was a recent transplant to the DC area.  I had worn my hair short for years. I cut it off during my freshman year in college.

College TJ
The pic above is what I looked like when I moved to the DC area. Sometimes the bangs were shorter; other times they were longer, but for the most part, I wore it short. One night I decided to shampoo while exhausted. Well, I didn't quite get around to wrapping, getting under the dryer, curling, styling, etc. My then-relaxed hair sorta curled up post-shampoo. Bam! I had a new curly style. I just decided to keep going with this look, and I didn't look back.

Looking back on my story, I guess I went natural on accident. Most of my family didn't get it. My boyfriend at the moment was mortified.  He took me home to meet his folks, and they weren't the kindest. Upon reflection, I laugh at how women with hard, outdated, colored fingerwaves found room to judge. Ha!

I didn't cut my relaxer off right away back then, so I had some straight ends with all the curls living below. Then I started coloring. Pics of my orangey-brown hair should probably stay hidden, but I pulled one out just for y'all. Keep in mind I went natural before natural hair blogs, meetups, YouTube channels, etc., so I just did what I thought was best.

I eventually found my way, and my styles got cuter and my hair got healthier. I grew out that orangey-brown.
Um. . . what was I doing? 
I then started wearing my infamous afro puff.
At my cousin's wedding, 2006
Another cousin's wedding, 2008
Houston, 2009
I was queen of the afro puff, like the one pictured above. My husband (boyfriend at the time) affectionately called it "Poofy."
Hubby (then boyfriend) and poofy at a De La Soul concert
I'd even press it from time to time.
Poofy pressed out for my students' prom
All pressed out on one of our early dates. 
Finally one day in 2009, I decided that it was time for change. Against pretty much everyone's opinions, especially my mama's, I decided to lock my hair. It was a little tough in the beginning, but I grew to love them.

This was the first day I had them done. This was a WTF moment.
I initially pinned them into updos.

I strategically started them in the fall so that I could wear hats - and boy did I wear lots of them!
Headed to class
NYC, winter 2009
Then I learned to style them.
Headed to a lunch date
Easter 2010
Eventually, my elder family members became fans of my locs. They grew, and grew, and grew.  I curled them, and styled them. Y'all have seen plenty of pics of my locs. Just look around the blog. Wore them in lots of top knots, buns, and crimps, and then
I got tired of them. 
I began to grow tired of them after the wedding.  They were taking hours to twist. My arms were sore.  I knew I wanted a change, but I wasn't sure where to go next. I watched videos of people picking out their locs and ending up with big bushes of beautiful hair, but I decided I wanted to go back to the beginning. I knew it was time for a big chop!

So, after only telling my husband, sister, and my bestie, I got up Friday morning and went to a hair stylist. I visited Indigenous Beauty Salon Concepts in Woodbridge, VA.

Hubs' opinion on my big chop as we both headed out of the door that morning:

On a serious note, my husband was supportive.  As a matter of fact, he encouraged the big chop.  I chuckle when people ask things like, "He let you cut your hair?" Girl, bye! Thank goodness for a loving husband who just watches me dance to the beat of my own drum.

With my hubby's love and support, I made my way to Woodbridge.  When I first got there, I was certain about cutting my hair, but still a bit anxious.

Checking out my length in the mirror behind me right before the big chop started.  
The "Oh sh!t. I'm really doing this!!!" face. 
Jackie, the stylist was great. She was a bit quiet at first, but then she opened up and told me that she'd recently cut her locs. We talked about what our hair meant to us. I only saved about 5 locs. I was ready to release them. They had served me well, and their work was done.  Jackie started clipping without warning. She was a little uncomfortable with me recording or taking pics, so just know that I was calm, but a little chatty. She was laughing at my deep breaths.

Right after the cut, I was a little uneasy.  I'm glad I didn't have an accident from staring at my TWA (teeny weeny afro) in the rearview mirror.  After a quick trip to Target for some styling products, taking a shower, and running a little gel through my hair and styling it, and I was in love! I think this TWA is much better than the orangy-brown 1999 version. I'm enjoying TWA 2.0.

Having a freakout in Target
My hubby didn't want to see any pics.  He wanted to experience the cut in person. I went to happy hour to show my girlfriend my new 'do.  After happy hour, I went home to meet up with my hubby.  Before getting out of the car, I powdered my nose, applied a little lipstick and went inside for the verdict.  He liked it! He liked it! He was in a bit of shock, though.  It was shorter than we both had anticipated, but you know what Hubs said: "It just shows how beautiful your face is." That guy is the best!  I'm about to go smooch him! Oh yeah, Tyson approves, too!

I can't wait to see what my hair grows into. Jackie cut my hair to grow into a sorta faux hawk. Can't wait to see how it looks! I feel lighter. I feel freer. I miss my locs a little bit, but I'm ready for the next phase!

My hubby finally got around to taking some good pics with his fancy camera, so I'll leave you guys with some fun pics that Tyson and I took the other day.

Until next time . . . go cut all your hair off! LOL!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On Choppa Style: A Hair Story (Pt. 1)

Happy Tuesday, y'all!  I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend. We did. We grilled and had lots of fun and lots of homemade sangria.  I should post the recipe.  It was so good, my girl Nic went by the store and picked up 2 more bottles of wine so I could make another batch.

Anyway .  . I digress.

I kicked it off on Friday with a big change! I cut off my hair - all of it! This post was so long, that I had to break it into 2 parts, so I'll set up my hair story today and share the rest tomorrow.

I thought that I would start this post with "I Am Not My Hair" by India Arie, but I don't know if I fully agree with the chorus . . .
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am the soul that lies within
Arie's sentiments sounds great, but I think those lines are only partially true in my case. I'll explain why in a bit.

First, to make sure we're all on the same page, let's have an educational moment for readers who are unfamiliar with the amazing, creative, and sometimes complicated world of African-American women and their hair.  Hit 'em Dr. Perry: 

Ok. Now that we are all on the same page, I'd like to talk a little bit about how I AM my hair.

I'm not one of those folks who downplays hair like, "My hair is "just hair."  Nope. I'm emotionally attached to mine. My hair holds meaning for me. Going natural when it wasn't in style, before it was "in," before YouTube and natural hair blogs, was tough.  It taught me about individuality, patience, and doing what I believed in.  I had to learn how to go to a beauty salon with my head held high even though I was ashamed because the beauticians were stumped with how to help me.  I had to learn how to style my hair without any YouTube tutorials.  Then when I made the decision to loc, they became special to me, too.  Again, I had naysayers, and I had to stick to my guns.  As I cut my locs off  last Friday, I thought about how my locs had seen me through most of graduate school and my wedding.  As the hairdresser cut away the hair, I thought about how much lighter, both physically and emotionally, I felt. So I disagree a bit with India Arie.  I am my hair; well, my hair is part of who I am.  It grows and changes just like I do.

I'm committed to natural hair.  There's nothing better than soft, spongy, freshly washed natural hair in my opinion.  Plus, going natural did wonders for my scalp.  I have been natural almost all of my adult life, but I don't really care what other people do with their hair.  Actually in the next post, I'll talk about how I went natural on accident in a way.  Most of my friends are permies (lol).  I had my sister crying laughing on the phone because I was talking about getting a perm and some tracks the other day.  I don't belong to the Natural Hair Police Brigade.  I don't do anybody else's hair but mine, so I let grown people do what they want to do.  I just appreciate when others let me do the same.  I've grown used to elders weighing in with their unsolicited opinions, but everyone else should fall back.  You don't have to have a certain face or hair texture to wear natural hair, so when people run up on me saying that kind of stuff, I just give a half smile and silently judge them.  Great natural hair, like ALL hair, is all about flattering styling and good products that work for YOU.

On the other hand, I'm not an avid naturalista. I don't go to natural hair fairs, read a bunch of blogs, or comment on hair forums.  I'm not a product junkie.
I cried laughing the first time I saw this. Been there, done that.
Do y'all see that ranch dressing off to the side?  Tears. 
I don't knock anyone who goes hard for #TeamNatural. I think the natural hair community is awesome, especially for newbies. When I decided to cut my locs last week, I did a little research to find haircuts. I shared some pics and websites with my hubby, and he was floored by all of the sites, blogs, and vlogs about natural hair.  Styling and maintenance for natural hair has come a long way!  It's really cool. I didn't have anyone to help me transition from a relaxer, so the idea of a like-minded community sounds great.  I'm just getting old and crotchety over needing a support group for loving the hair that sprouts out of my head.  I've been natural for almost 14 years.  My hair is kinda kinky and kinda curly, and I let it do what it does. I'm not trying to classify my hair type or malign my hair because it won't lay like Tracee Ellis Ross (whose hair is LAID btw, and it CRANKS!!!!!). That's not what my hair does, and I made peace with that a long time ago.

So instead of India Arie, my song of the moment is "Choppa Style" by Choppa, in honor of what natural girls call a "big chop."  You can take me out the South, but y'all know the rest. Y'all excuse me while I go bounce wit' it and drop it like it's hot. LOL!  

I chopped it all off, and I LOVE IT! My hair is laid like "I don't have a single regret."

I'll be back with part 2 of my hair story tomorrow, so hang on! 

Until next time . . . I'll be walking past mirrors and shocking myself. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

On: Loving our Pets

I am a serious dog lover.  If you read regularly, you've probably picked up on this.  Here's a little video I ran across the other day that completely melted my heart.  Grab your tissues and enjoy!

Happy Saturday! Have a great weekend.

Until next time . . . I'm off to take Tyson to obedience class.  He's doing well.  He's the teacher's pet.  He loves Ms. Taborah at PetSmart so much that he marked her last class. SMH.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Come on over to Bloglovin'!

I love Google Reader, and when it goes away on July 1, I'll be sad.  I won't fret too long, however. I've started using Bloglovin' as a way to keep track of the blogs that I read, and I read a ton. Guess what? You can follow me via Bloglovin' once Google Reader says good bye!

Click the icon below to follow!

Follow on Bloglovin

You can also use the link on the right hand side of the screen. 

I'm sure I'll post this again, but I just wanted to give folks a head's up.


On: Breaking Down

Happy Wednesday!

Here's a little something to get us all over "the hump"
"That Hump" by Erykah Badu

I feel like I'm breaking down, y'all!!! I need to get over this bad health habit "hump." 

So I failed to mention that we never made our little wine country, bed & breakfast excursion that I mentioned in one of my wedding planning and recap posts. Nope. I woke up in all kinds of pain the morning that we were supposed to leave. My sweet hubby ended up taking me to a nearby urgent care center.  Thank goodness nothing was seriously wrong - just a little dehydration.  We ended up staying home, getting some much needed rest, and celebrating our 1st year together watching a Dog Whisperer marathon in lieu of sipping wine & enjoying a great weekend in the countryside.  Maybe being home for the marathon was a blessing in disguise:

Tyson decided to help himself to some of our anniversary cake.  He's usually kinda loud and clumsy, but he operated like a smooth criminal that night.  Yup, snuck right into the dining room and went to work while we were watching TV.  Note the uniformity of his bites. It looks like he methodically nibbled. Bamma. 

Anyway, I thought I was all better by Sunday night, but I woke up Monday morning feeling lethargic and out of it.  I woke up Tuesday morning, full of hope and feeling productive. I started the day strong - listened to recordings of my dissertation participants, ran to the grocery store, put dinner in the Crockpot, recoded some data, read a colleague's paper, made some appointments, etc. Then, at around 2pm, I was out of it again.  My hubby had to come home and nurse me back to health. Tyson sorta redeemed himself, too. He provided lots of hugs and snuggles until Hubs got home.  I finally started feeling better this evening. I was able to finish dinner and tackle a little dissertation writing. 

As I was on my way upstairs to work on this post - OUCH!!! I felt a little "pinch" in my back.  I thought that maybe I made a wrong move and that the pain would go away, but about an hour later I'm still hurting. What is wrong with me?!?!?

I speculate that this is a temporary bodybreak down brought on by a few bad habits.  I'm writing this post to remind myself (and y'all) to make self-care a priority.  I need y'all to hold me to a couple of things:
  1. Going to the gym: I'm a faithful exerciser, but I haven't been able to get it right since my big job talk/interview last month. I walk Tyson faithfully, and I've jogged a few times here and there, but I need to really burn some calories. I need to sweat. I notice that when I exercise regularly, I always feel better - less headaches, milder cramps, more energy, etc. 
  2. Being mindful about my eating: My husband calls me a "food Nazi" because I have a pretty clean philosophy on eating - very little processed food, low sugar, low carb. I've mentioned that I use the mantra "protein and produce" as my philosophy to eating well. Well, lately I've been a little off of my eating plan. Maybe Tyson helping himself to some cake wasn't such a bad thing after all. I need to get back on the juicing bandwagon. All of the stuff is in the kitchen. 
  3. Going to bed earlier: I'm an insomniac. I became one when I enrolled in this doctoral program. For some reason, at about 11pm, all the issues that are weighing me down start to float around in my head.  As an avoidance mechanism, I start to read (this is when I catch up on reading blogs!). I know the light from my computer/iPad isn't helping my insomnia, so I need to cut it and go to bed. 
  4. Drinking more water: I have been slacking on my water intake, so I'm back to keeping track of how much water I'm consuming.  There is nothing cute about dehydration and chapped lips. Ew! 
I think these are the 4 keys to getting myself back together.  I'd been priding myself on being in my mid-30s, but still feeling like I'm in my 20's. Not so much these days, so I'm back on my wellness grind.  I know better, and I typically do better.  It's time to just get back into the swing of things.  Here's the great thing about a healthy body, it will typically repair itself.  I know that when I get back to good self-care, I'll be feeling better in no time. 

What about you? How are you feeling these days? Are you trying to get over a bad health habit hump, or do you have some advice for the rest of us? 

Until next time . . . get over your hump! Lord knows I'll be trying. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

On: A Man, His Shorts, and "Guy-Clean"

A conversation that recently occurred in our house.

Hubby: (Yelling from the laundry room basement) Hey, babe! I need a laundry basket to bring some clean clothes upstairs!

Me: (Yelling downstairs to him) Well, just add the clothes in the dryer to a basket of clean clothes in the laundry room. 

Hubby: Which basket of clothes is clean? 

Me: (Agitated) Just smell them!!!

Hubby: (Bringing the basket upstairs to me) Here, you tak a whiff. You know my nose is off.  I use the "guy-clean" rules. 

Me: (Sniffing the clothes) These clothes are clean - girl-clean, whatever that means. (I roll my eyes in disgust)

Ummmm . . . WTF is guy clean?!?!

Sadly, my hubby's friends have cosigned on the fact that girls and guys use different metrics for determining when a piece of clothing is clean.  Here's the crazy thing, my husband is meticulous about the way he styles his clothes, so to hear him talk about guy vs. girl clean was a total shocker.  I believe guy clean means that there are no visible stains and/or they do not reek (too badly). Ew. That's gross.

The episode above is the most recent episode of girl- vs. guy- clean. Our never-ending battle over clean clothes usually happens about one particular item of clothes, my husband's beloved camouflage shorts, which he affectionately calls Camo:

Shawn and Camo in Portugal on our honeymoon. 
My husband takes these shorts wherever we go. They've been to Costa Rica, Portugal, and Spain.  They also travel stateside, having made appearances in LA, Vegas, and numerous trips to NYC.  They go to lots of concerts, museums, and outdoor events in the summer.  These shorts are well-traveled and cultured.  I think they get jealous when they get left at home, but that rarely happens.  My husband loves clothes, probably has more than me, but it just doesn't matter. He'd wear these shorts everyday if he could.

Whenever I'm doing laundry, and I see Mr. Camo lying around, we usually have the guy- vs. girl-clean debate.  I believe one day the shorts are going to march themselves over to the laundry machine and just take the plunge.

Do you all know about guy-clean? You and your significant other have any never-ending debates?  Am I making a big fuss over nothing?  Feel free to weigh in below in the comment section.

Until next time, I'll be sneaking Mr. Camo into the washer.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

One Last Thing on the Wedding. . .

I said I wouldn't be back until next week, but I had to share one last thing regarding all of my wedding posts.  I realized that there was one important thing that I failed to mention. It's regarding our wedding location.  We opted to get married in DC for one important reason:

My husband and I wanted to be married in a place where everyone has the right to be married.

We are LGBT allies and marriage equality supporters.  Having LGBT family members and friends makes this issue important to us.  Yes, I am Christian.  Yes, we support marriage equality.  Nope, the two aren't mutually exclusive. Nope, I'm not here for a debate.  I just felt compelled to share.

Until next time . . . I'm off to relish in God's love for EVERYBODY!  Stand for what you believe in!

Happy Sunday.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ceremony, Reception, & Afterparty (Our Wedding, Part 8, Final Post)

All of my previous wedding posts have been leading up to this one - Our Big Day!!!! I'm a DIY bride, so y'all bear with me. I think every detail is important.

I could write about the wedding forever.  Hey, I'm a DIY bride!  Instead of trying to tell you all about it, I'll share our trailer.

Shawn + Toya Wedding Trailer from Christian Villatoro on Vimeo.

We figured the ceremony would be pretty emotional, so we wanted the reception to be all about fun.  We planned a fun, music-filled party for the reception. My husband's friend from high school drove in from New Jersey to DJ for us. We both attended HBCUs in the mid to late-90’s, and used this as our music inspiration. Thanks to my hubby and our awesome DJ, the evening was filled with old-school hip hop and R&B. Being the hip-hop lovers that we are, we chose “Bonita Applebum” by A Tribe Called Quest as our first dance

"I like to tell you things some brothers won't" ~ QTip, Bonita Applebum
In addition to all of the high-energy music, we had a photobooth with lots of fun props. Shawn and his Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc. fraternity brothers serenaded me and stepped a little for our guests. We also had an anniversary dance in lieu of tossing the bouquet and garter. 

Winners of the anniversary dance. 40+ years, and still going! 

Go, hubby! 
Standing at the center of the Alpha sweetheart circle

When I think about our wedding, I think about:
  • How special it was to have my father marry us.  I stood over him in a hospital bed 5 months before the wedding as he had a heart attack around Christmastime.  Not only was he there, but he married us, and he cut a rug to Stevie Wonder's Isn't She Lovely, y'all. Click the link to watch him out dance me.  Really, he did. 

  • How happy I was to watch my husband dance with his mother. She'd suffered a stroke in January  so to see her wind it up to Bob Marley's Three Little Birds absolutely touched my heart. 

  • How our guests appreciated the little touches at our wedding, like our welcome bags and favors I talked about in an earlier post, and other touches like
Dancing shoes: 

We wanted to end the night with a fast-paced, dance-the-night-away party. We provided flip flops in our wedding colors for the ladies, and they were greatly appreciated.  We also had a cool Groom's cake: 
We are HUGE Lost fans. This was my nod to the Dharma Initiative. 
And the awesome string quartet that played everything from 2001 Space Odyssey, to Coldplay's Vida La Viva and Yellow, to Kanye West's Good Life.  Yeah, the music was pretty eclectic  but the strings made it all come together nicely. 
  • How my college classmates from FAMU (#goRattlers #BleedOrangeAndGreen) flew in from all over the country to share my special day with me

We're giving y'all the Rattler Strike in this pic.
  • How good, no, GREAT venders make all the difference.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, my day-of coordinator left much to be desired, but the rest of my vendors stepped in, and made my day amazing! 
    • Catering/bartending: Better Events Catering : There aren't enough kinds words I can say about Mr. Torres and his staff. They had worked the Carnegie before, so they had lots of great suggestions. People still tell us how great the food was. Mr. Torres and his staff are five-star. 
    • Photography: Marlo Herring Photography: Marlo was flexible and patient. He and his assistant Shane were amazing. I have so many great photos, so I really struggled with which ones to post. 
    • Floral arrangements/bouquets: Scentsational Events: Susan Songy at Scentsational Events was incredibly helpful. Because she was experienced with working in the Carnegie, she had great suggestions and ideas. Her rates were amazing! 
    • Videography: Fine HD Memories: Christian Villatoro and his crew were awesome.  They captured so many intimate moments without being intrusive. They worked with us until we got the video and the trailer just the way that we wanted it. 
    • Cake: Be a Cake Star: Kelly the baker is great! She had an awesome cake-tasting presentation, and the cake . . . no words for how delicious it was.  We couldn't just choose one flavor, so we chose 4 - one for each tier! 
    • Hotel: Rouge Hotel: The staff was helpful and courteous.  The Rouge is a gorgeous space with a great events contact person. Plus, it's about 2 doors down from the Carnegie, so we saved costs on transportation. They made my elegant, swanky, city wedding come to life. 
    • Venue: Carnegie Institution of Science: The ladies who work the events at the Carnegie are really knowledgeable and helpful.  They always welcomed me when I wanted to stop by to take measurements or try out some decor or just stalk the building.  They coordinated with all of the vendors and were very helpful with set up and break down. 
    • Stationary: All That Jazz on I talked all about Sophie and her gorgeous stationary here.  She was so patient with me.  She's so talented! 
    • Music: St. Charles Strings: I mentioned above how everybody loved the music during the ceremony. Neil and his colleagues were flexible and knowledgable. Their repertoire was amazing! My soloist came down  with strep throat just days before the wedding, so they performed The Lord's Prayer with just a few days notice. 
    • Makeup: La'T Makeup Services: I told you all in my earlier post just how great it was to work with LaTanya. She created 11 different makeup looks on the day of the wedding. She was also just a great spirit to have around as I prepped to go down the aisle. 
Whew! Y'all still with me.  After the wedding, we made our way back to the Rouge Hotel, where they had reserved a special room near the bar for an afterparty. 

Well, Hubs and I took a detour on our way to the afterparty.
We continued the celebration with cocktails and cake, and my favorite DJ, my hubby, provided the sounds.

Thank you for taking this long a$$ journey with me.  Planning my own wedding was, by far, one of the most stressful things I've done in my life, but it was so worth it.  I wanted to share so many details as a way of letting brides-to-be know that wedding planning can be hectic. Hell, it can even manic at times, but it all works out in the end.  I still get a little feeling in my heart when we drive by the Carnegie.  I love to drive by when there are weddings taking place. I can feel the energy!  

I will say this, though, when it was over, it was OVER!  I'm just at the point where I can watch wedding shows on TV again.  I stopped following wedding blogs.  I detoxed, and now I'm excited about weddings again.  Like, I'd love to plan someone else's (I think!).  I can't think of a better way to feed my creative side than using my talents as two people pledge their lives to one another. 

Whew! Y'all tired? I am. These posts took forever to write!!! I'm writing this post on the eve of our anniversary.  Hubs is all tucked away and in a food coma from our pre-anniversary dinner, and I think I'm gonna join him.  Though I probably won't talk about wedding stuff in this detail EVER again, I'll probably come back from time to time with some wedding tips and ideas.  Blogs were the best thing that ever happened to my wedding in terms of being inspired. Maybe I can do the same.  I know for sure I'll write a post for brides-to-be.  After losing sleep, losing hair, and getting a stye two days before the wedding, I think I can offer a few encouraging words.  I crossed over, y'all!  

Until next time . . . I'm off to the country to a bed & breakfast with my husband to celebrate! See y'all next week!