Tying the Knot: Engagement Photos


Let’s talk about how this engagement has been flying by.

When Ryan proposed to me we had a little over 7 months until the date we set for the wedding. It seemed quick, but I am a pretty organized person and knew I would be somewhat wedding crazy until the date, so I figured it would be plenty of time. Sitting less than 3 months out, I cannot believe that in 80 days I will be a wife and all this planning will be executed. In the midst of all the planning, I realized my goal to document the process was not being fulfilled. As a result, I am working on a bunch of catch up posts for major tasks we have accomplished and will be posting those over the next few days.

One of the most exciting tasks I accomplished last weekend was finally having engagement photos taken. Our search for a photographer was probably one of the most challenging parts of wedding planning. I am a very “laissez faire” bride in many facets of the wedding, in that I just don’t care enough to get worked up over a lot of the little things – the important part is marrying the man I love. However, good photography, that also matched both Ryan and my standards was one thing I DID care about.

One of my best friends, Becca, was recently married and I LOVED the photographers she used. Not only were they super friendly and fun, they also produced beautiful pictures. She also told me they were very reasonably priced. When I met with them, I was all set to go and use them, but unfortunately their prices had risen significantly in the year and a half since Becca had booked them. I was still considering using them, but was not happy with the idea of going 500+ over budget. Ryan and I talked and decided to shop around a bit and if we still didn’t find anyone that compared we would come back to them and cross our fingers they were still available.

I emailed a TON of photographers and most were very expensive. We narrowed it down to 2 of the responses that were close to budget. We ended up meeting first with Amy Mullarkey of Amy Mullarkey Photography. She had recently moved to St. Petersburg, so while she had a lot of experience and great photos to show, she was building her business locally, and as a result had very reasonable prices. We ended up getting both 6 hours of wedding day coverage and our engagement shoot for only $100 over our budget! Additionally, our personalities clicked, and she lived very close to both our home and wedding venue, so I felt she had a good feel of the area we’d be taking photos.

We talked about the engagement photos when we first signed a contract with her, and all had lots of ideas, but nothing was really clicking with us. I did some poking around Pinterest and decided I liked the idea of a picnic style engagement shoot. I was on the hunt for a number of props that would reflect the feel of the wedding. I thrifted, bought , and scavenged from around the house items that would be useful for both the photos and the wedding itself. At the last minute, I asked if we could include our cats, which are like our children. She thought it was a great idea, and so we decided to have a backyard picnic, and some shots inside the house so we could easily wrangle kitties.

Later that evening, Amy sent us some of the first shots she took. I was immediately in love, and can’t wait to see the rest of them!

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Tying the Knot: The Proposal

There are so many exciting wedding posts I would like to do, but I think it makes sense to start at the beginning and discuss the proposal.

Several months ago, toward the end of July, Ryan asked me if I would like to go look at rings with him. I was super excited that he seemed to finally be taking seriously my not so subtle hints that I was ready to “take the next step”. We have been together almost 4 years, live together 3 of those, bought a house together…you get the idea. We had all the elements of commitment to one another, just not the ring.

So we went to a local jewelry store, and I looked at a number of rings. I didn’t know what I wanted excepts I liked wider bands and either round or princess cut stones. I described this to the sales lady and gave her an idea of budget. She picked up this ring with 10 round channel cut stones in the band and a center stone that was 4 princess cut diamonds put together. The band was gorgeous, but I don’t like the small stones put together, and wanted just one center stone. I tried several other rings on, but the first kept capturing my eye. I kept seeing it on my finger, if only it had a different center stone.

The sales person could tell it was the one I truly loved, so she brought out 2 stones, a princess and round stone to replace the 4 small diamond in the center. As soon as she held the round stone up and showed me what it would look like, I was sold. I could only hope Ryan was as well. They asked me to go wait on the other side of the store so Ryan could do some negotiating. I proceeded to text all my close friends that OMG we were RING shopping!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As Ryan came back over to where I was, the sales person sized my finger and told Ryan he could pick up the new ring with the center stone I picked, and sized for my finger tomorrow. At that point, the cat was out of the bag and I knew he had bought me a ring.

Now, I am not exactly known for my patient nature, and that following week was one of the longest waits of my life. I knew he had a ring, just didn’t know when the proposal would come. It was extra hard to wait since I was on summer break, and had little to do with my time. I thought surely I would be able to see the proposal coming when he finally did, because Ryan usually can’t keep a secret. I also assumed it would be on the weekend so he could do something special and not just a boring weeknight.

Friday comes around, and Ryan and my brother made plans for us to see The Dark Knight Rises. I was disappointed because, although I wanted to see the movie, I was hoping for a proposal to start the weekend, and was losing my patience waiting. A part of me was still hoping it was a ruse, but when my brother called to confirm the time with me, I accepted there would be no life changing ringtasticness that evening. I decided to drown my boredom in episodes of The Real Housewives, and lounge around in my summer “uniform”- yoga pants and a tank top.

At some point during the day, Ryan sent me a picture of a kitten that they found near his work playing with a ball they had. It was absolutely adorable and I jokingly told him to bring it home. He called me later in the day and told me he had a surprise for me, but it wasn’t the surprise I’ve been waiting for so not to get my hopes up. I immediately thought he was bringing the kitten home. I got super excited and nervous all at once. We were in the process of moving into our new house, and were cat sitting for my mom while she was on vacation. This did not seem like the ideal time to take in a stray cat.

As soon as he got home, he walks in the door with a squeakily meowing sound coming from a small cat carrier. I could not believe he’d brought the kitten home! Immediately I got excited and was like oooooo I want to see it! As I walked closer though, I saw Ryan’s iPhone was in the cat carrier. I became suspicious and asked, “Why is your iPhone in the carrier?” I also wasn’t seeing the cat. Ryan bent down and said, “Here, let me show you.” As he bent down, he got on one knee, and it clicked what was happening. He pulled out the ring from the cat carrier and asked me to marry him. I was in shock and could not believe he had pulled one over on me and still completely took me by surprise, even though I knew the ring was coming. My first response was “You douche, you tricked me!”, followed by an immediate “YES!!”

I asked are we still seeing the batman movie, and thankfully was told no. Instead, Ryan surprised me with a night at the nicest hotel downtown, the Vinoy, and dinner at one of their restaurants. I was so excited to go celebrate our engagement. We quckly packed our bags and headed to the hotel, which was only about 15 mins away. I could not stop looking at my sparkly ring. I of course texted about everyone I knew, called my mom, called my grandma, posted to Facebook, all but shouting it from the rooftops.

At the hotel, we told them we got engaged and were upgraded to a room with a hot tub. My brother came to the hotel with a bottle of champagne to celebrate and the three of us enjoyed a glass together in the room. When Blake left, Ryan and I headed down to the health club at the hotel to say hi to some of Ryan’s former coworkers and share the news (he had worked there about a year before.) They were all very excited for us. After, we went to dinner. We each had a celebratory cocktail before dinner, one of my favorite little indulgences, and enjoyed a tasty meal together. At the end of dinner, the waited brought us complementary champagne and a chocolate dessert. It was so fun being treated with little extras and having others recognize what a special night it was for Ryan and I.

After dinner, we decided to go for a walk downtown to enjoy the summer evening and stop in at our favorite bar, The Ale and the Witch. We played Jenga, and enjoyed a craft beer together. After a while, be both were feeling tired and walked back to the hotel. Ryan’s friends in the health club had sent up amazing cupcakes as a congratulatory surprise. We took a dip in the hot tub before calling it bedtime.

He takes his Jenga VERY seriously.

The next morning, we decided to have brunch before heading home, and went to Ceviche’s which has become one of our favorite brunch spots since then. Ryan had french toast and I had a breakfast sandwich on a croissant. As a lover of all things brunch, it was the perfect end to a wonderful engagement celebration. I couldn’t wait to begin the wedding planning, but most of all, I was so excited to finally marry my best friend. ❤









So many fun things!

Well, its certainly been a while since I have posted. In my defense, numerous major life changes, along with the regular monotony came together to make for a very busy end of summer, and fall. Some of them include:

1. Buying a House.

My last post was venting some of the stress and frustration of trying to purchase a home, which I suspect has become even more difficult after the whole housing bubble bursting/financial crisis business of 2008. The good news is, it was all worth the time, effort, stress, tears, excessive wine, etc. We moved into our new house August 3 of this year, and have spent the last couple of months since then doing projects around the house/yard. I can’t wait to share some of the things we have done and be able to document projects to come!

2. I got a new job.

While I am still teaching history, and actually one of the same subjects, I transferred to a new school in the same county. There were numerous reasons for wanting to leave my previous school, and it was a good time to be able to move on. I am very thankful that I found a position that I am greatly enjoying, which is much closer to home, less stressful because I am only teaching (and therefore preparing for) one subject, as opposed to 3, teaching higher level kids, and making more money in. Its a win all around!

3. Ryan proposed.

I plan to post separately on this one, as I think it deems a special post, but I was very excited that my boyfriend of 3+ years proposed, and in a way very suitable to us.

4. I’m planning a wedding!

Obviously now that Ryan proposed, I have been in full on wedding planning mode. That is actually part of why I have been itching to start posting again: there are a lot of fun projects and events coming up, that would be fun to chronicle, and have a way to remember and look back upon. We are getting married in March 2013, and therefore having a relatively short engagement. I knew I would probably get a little wedding crazy and figured it would be best to limit that by forcing myself to just plan quickly. So far so good. Famous last words, right?

Buying a House is Hard

You may have noticed I’ve been basically MIA for the past month or so. This is due to multiple things, end of the school year, moving classrooms, and mostly looking at and now trying to buy a house. I’ve read other bloggers who just go off the map for months at a time when buying a home, and def did not understand it until going through the process myself.

I’ve spent hours writing up contracts with my realtor, and anxiously awaiting responses. I’ve put in 3 separate offers on different homes before getting an acceptance. Spent tons of time each day looking for, scanning, emailing documents to get approved for my loan- made no easier by the 3 or so moves from different places in the last 2 years and feeling my organizational systems go by the wayside in the process. Of course the home I finally found is at the top of my budget so now I’m nervously awaiting loan approval. I’ve been on the phone with student loan lenders, on the phone with my loan officer, on the phone with insurance companies. On hold for hours collectively.

I keep telling myself that our apartment is too small, that they will continue to raise our rent each year significantly. I keep telling myself that the thousands of dollars up front will be worth it with a nice tax return at the end of the year. It will be worth it to have my own home that I can improve and have friends over to and be proud of. It will be worth it to not have to deal with annoyingly anal apartment stipulations (like bikes being a fire hazard- really?!?) It will be worth it to finally be able to settle. To stay in one place for more than a year at a time. To put down roots.

But right now, in the midst of it all, its really really hard.

Catching Up, Winding Down

May is always a busy month for me. My students’ AP exams are during the month of May, so teaching-wise I am frantically trying to wrap up any loose ends, end up holding numerous after school review sessions, and generally feel stressed far more so than usual. It also is the last full month of the school year, so its a lot of random wrap-up stuff before final exams the first week of June. Its also when summer is just on the horizon, and motivation begins waning BIIIIIG time at work.

Additionally, my birthday is in May, as well as Mothers Day and my mom’s birthday, so there are lots of fun events going on.

Some of the fun stuff that’s been going on:

May 4th: Chaperone at Universal Studios Grad Bash

A few months back, I signed up to chaperone for Grad Bash at Universal Studios. This is an event where the park is set up especially for high school seniors, and get the park to themselves until 2 am, with special music areas, performers, and all the rides open for business. As a chaperone, we didn’t have to stay with the kids, just had to be there for emergencies, which meant a free ticket to Universal hanging out with my gang of work friends. In short- AWESOME!

Some of my favorite parts:

1. The Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit: this roller coaster lets you pick your own music, and takes up upward at a 90 degree angle, before wooshing you off onto a traditional steel coaster. It was awesome at night, and I like the element of choice.

2. Front of the Line Passes: Chaperones were given front of the line passes, so the longest we waited for anything was about 10 minutes. This was amazing because we got to do everything we wanted to do and more, and didn’t have to wait in close contact with all the teenagers.

3. Midnight Breakfast: Chaperones were served free breakfast. While it wasn’t a breakfast to write home about, it was still nice to have food provided, and breakfast is ALWAYS good.

Overall, it was awesome to not spend a dime and have so much fun. It didn’t come without some ehh parts, such as not getting home til after 4 am, and getting hella motion sick on a few rides, but all in all, total win.

May 6th: My 23rd Birthday

I can’t believe my utter lack of pictures from my birthday, but I think this speaks to how fun and relaxing it was. Ryan bought me a bike for my birthday, which is definitely one of the best birthday presents I have gotten in years. We rode our bikes along the waterfront and went to Taste of Pinellas, which my mom gave us tickets to. This was just ehh, as it was overpriced tiny samples of stuff, super duper hot outside, and not enough covered seating. But we grabbed a spot on the seawall, and got to look at this awesome view.

The view of the pier and bay on my birthday.

After we rode our bikes back, a friend of mine came over and we had margaritas by the pool and ordered pizza for dinner. A lovely, laid back birthday was just what I was wanting.

Ryan and I on my Bday:

May Movies in the Park on Thursdays

A coworker of Ryan told us that they show movies in the park at Straub Park next to the Vinoy hotel on Thursdays in May. The movies are put on by a local organization St Pete Preservation, who seek to “Preserve the ‘Burg” and maintain many of our historical districts and increase a sense of community. We have gone 2 weeks in a row, and plan to go the next 2. May 10th we watched Dirty Dancing, and May 17th, we saw one of my personal favorites, Hitchcock’s “Rear Window“. Both movies have been awesome. Something about getting outside, under the stars in the beautiful weather with my toes in the grass really does it for me. I’m finding I’m becoming way more of a hippie as I get older.

There’s been more fun stuff like discovering a new bar hangout, biking along the beach and we’re going to Disney tomorrow, but I’ll save those for the next post.

Have any of you ever seen movies outdoors? Do you dig them, or prefer coziness on your couch?

Happy Mothers Day

I haven’t been around to post much because of the craziness of my students final exams last week and this, and me being uber busy as a result. Fortunately, the home stretch is in sight- they take them Thursday- so hopefully I can get back onto a more regular posting schedule after that.

Anyways, I wanted to take a moment out of my day to wish a very happy mothers day to my own beautiful mother. She has always been there to support me and my brother, and taught me so many things, from how to cook to how to succeed in school, career, and so many other aspects of life. I love her immensely, and she is by far my best friend.

Happy Mothers Day mom, and thanks for all you have done, and continue to do! ❤

Cute Cat Monday

Its been a very busy weekend and I’m exhausted so an update on the fun activities will have to wait. My students’ big exam is also coming up in less than 2 weeks, so I’ll be very busy reviewing and probably won’t be posting much. In the meantime, I figured I would bring you another edition of Cute Cat Monday.


Cute Cat Monday…a day late

Yesterday was the start of several very stressful weeks I have preparing my students for their big final exam. Somehow, in the midst of feeling frustrated, grouchy, and basically had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Sadly this meant I missed Cute Cat Monday. My coworker posted this on my Facebook today, which reminded me of my omission, so I thought I’d pass it along to you fine folks!


Jello and Toast Par-tay

I originally was going to title this post “How to Get Over the Stomach Flu” but I wasn’t sure how exciting that might seem to read, so instead I thought I’d jazz it up with a fun description of what I’ve been doing for a few days.

Last Friday, a student of mine got violently ill. All over my classroom. Yes, it is as bad as whatever you are imagining- possibly worse. Whatever is was is apparently ridiculously contagious since at least 50% of my students have caught it so far. I had the fun pleasure of being stricken down by the plague Saturday night, and spent a sleepless night unable to keep anything down. Sunday morning I set off for the Urgent Care, feeling so wretched I was willing to fork over the pricey copay just for the hope of relief. The doctor diagnosed me with some sort of bacterial gastroenteritis – regular ole’ stomach flu. Fortunately I was given some antibiotics, anti-nausea meds, and a fun fact sheet about how to recover more quickly.

Despite being a very independent, twentysomething woman, I felt like I had very little idea how to make myself feel any better. Sinus infections, allergies, I got those downpat. But stomach flu….shooooot I was stumped. I remember always drinking 7Up, and Gatorade, and something about the BRAT diet, but beyond that…psssh

So, for future reference (and hopefully you will never have to use these tips)

5 Tips to Recover from a Stomach Flu

1. DON’T drink water while actively throwing up.

I kept feeling so dehydrated and drinking after getting sick, but then it would all come back up. Logic was clearly not prevailing though at 3 in the morning, and time and again I’d sneak a little sip of water only to be back in that rodeo. Apparently ice is the way to go, so you feel some relief from the thirst, but aren’t flooding yo’ tummy

2. Follow the BRAT diet once you are able to keep something down.

As a reminder, Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast. Broth based soups are also okay. I ate a couple of non-bratty things too soon, and boy did I pay the hard way. Clear liquids are all good too, hence the gatorade, water, 7Up BUT you are supposed to let the soda go flat before you drink because the bubbles can be uncomfortable. Also, Jell-o is a clear liquid- makes sense! But after a sleepless night, I totally would not have thought of it, thanks info sheet from the dr!

3. REST as much as possible. 

And for this, I will also include taking anti-nausea medication. Maybe an OTC, maybe a prescription if you end up at the Dr. Cool thing is, most make you sleepy, win win! I cannot describe how much of a relief it was to finally stop the madness, and be able to stay in bed for more than a few mins at a time, and take a long, restful nap. If possible, make sure you take work off and milk it as long as you can. My logic is the more rest you can frontload in, the more quickly you will bounce back. I could only take 1 day off due to it being a very busy time of the year right before my students exams, and still feel thrown off. I’m pretty sure if I could have taken it easy another day I’d be doing better.

4. Don’t be afraid of the heating pad and some Tylenol

I had really bad stomach pains for a couple of days, and felt achy all over my body. It was very soothing to put a heating pad on my stomach and alternate that with other muscles and joints that were spent. The doc also recommended Tylenol, as its supposed to be less harsh on the stomach than ibuprofen.

5. Never underestimate the power of jammies, Netflix and some kitteh snuggles

Once my stomach had mostly settled it was so nice to just lay in bed, with my wiimote in hand, watching American Dad, and other random shows. The two cats were at my feel, knowing their momma was not feeling too fab at the moment, and understood that their job was to snuggle in and with their sweet faces imply, its okay mom. You’re gonna be alright

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or nurse or anything close to it, I just followed the advice on a pamphlet about the stomach flu my dr gave me, and wanted to present the tips that most helped me.

Bloody Mary

Did you know about the legend of Bloody Mary being some child killer ghost people tell campfire ghost stories about? I didn’t until I just googled it. Thanks Google, enlightening people one search at a time.

Today a friend of mine told me she and her girlfriend happened to be on my side of the bridge.

Geography Lesson: In the Tampa area, Tampa is to the east of Tampa Bay, and St. Petersburg is to the west of the bay, so in order to get to St. Pete  you have to “cross the bridge”. A lot of people around here seem to think St. Pete is like traveling to another state or something, when in reality its only a 15-20 min drive depending on where you are going to/from. I happen to make this drive daily to get to work, so maybe I’m just used to it.

Anyways, so we decided to hit up the Saturday Morning Market, which is downtown and has all sorts of artisan crafts, food items, fresh produce, cheeses and plants to buy. They also have a bunch of food trucks so you can eat there, and live bands each week, which makes it a very fun and festive event. I ended up buying a blackberry bush (think they are considered bushes?) to plant in our Earth Box, which has been sitting empty for months- post to come on how it ends up  working out.

After a stroll around the market, we decided to go to Red Mesa Cantina, which turns into a club at night, but also offers a nice brunch menu. Evyan and Lindsay decided on pomegranate mimosas, and after having an epic rap battle between mimosas and bloody marys in my brain, decided to go with a bloody mary.

My mom turned me onto the marys because she would usually have one when flying. I didn’t exactly feel like a fancy-schmancy pantsy today, so no mimosa. Let me tell you, I took a lot of flack for that “tomato soup in a glass”, but it was well worth the $3.50…times a few.


 So what do you prefer for a brunch drink: mimosas or bloody marys?

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