Saturday, January 29, 2011


One year ago today Mike and I found ourselves in the midst of the panda exhibit at the National Zoo, snow falling gently on us.  He knew something I didn't... as did our friends surrounding us.

Flashback: The first time we ever visited the zoo, happened to be the day Thai Shan the panda was born!  We frequented the exhibit when at the zoo and waved, said our hellos. However all panda bears are on loan from China, even those born here in the states.  As Thai Shan's time in DC came to an end, Mike and I started down a new road.

And then he got down on one knee....
You can read the whole proposal story, AND the watch live video footage of Mike popping the question!
I do :)

I love you Mike!!! I can't wait to marry you!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


A storm brought icky sleet followed by snow, around the evening commute Wednesday night.  Stories of people abandoning their cars on highways followed by ohs and ahs of the elusive thundersnow clogged the interwebs.

And me? I wore my PJs inside-out and backwards, following the advice of my 7 and 8 year-old students.  Did you also know to flush ice down the toilet and spit as it goes down? Oh and put a spoon in a sock under your pillow, for good measure.
Or just open a bottle of wine and watch the flakes fall.
And frequently jump when your phone gives the tell tale signal of an email or text received, because you, like those darling children, also hope it contains the words "Snow" and "Day," consecutively of course.

By 11pm my wish came true!  My heart did a little dance, mostly because a day off is golden, but also since I knew 21 other little hearts similarly skipped a beat.  A Snow Day! A day to play! A day to finish working on report cards that are due soon.  A chance to email wedding vendors and figure out wedding invitation verbiage.
Another day to work, but not for the man.

In the early afternoon Mike and I ventured out with our dog, Nora.  Plows visited most of the side streets and most neighbors shoveled several sidewalks, but the world looked slushy and puddle-wonderful.  We dodged ice covered intersections and greeted the scarce sighting of neighbors warmly.

I snapped happily, excited for the chance to use City of Blackbird's Photoshop tutorial later. (her textures are shared, free!)

And so I bring you my favorite neighborhood spots, snow covered:

A good walk was had by all.

Stay Warm!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wedding Cake Inspiration

In about two weeks we meet with our caterer again to finalize our menu! To be determined are hors d' oeuvres, our vegetarian entree, and most importantly THE CAKE!

I scoured the internet for cakes I love.
And boy, are there a LOT of pretty cakes out there. Here are some of my favs:

Credit due: (from left to right)
Top row:  The Cake List, Wedding Cakes by Jim SmealCake Central
Middle: The Icing on the Cake, Unknown Artist, Pastry Girl Cakes
Bottom: Unknown Artist, Wedding Cake Pictures, My Friend's Wedding!

If you can't tell, I'm in love with the clean lines of square cakes with simple horizontal lines.   I also enjoy the disproportionate sizes, when one layer is much larger than another.
Cakes are so pretty, and yummy!

What did your cake look and taste like? Or what do you envision it to look like?!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wedding Invitation Inspiration

It's about time for us to settle in on an invite!

Here are a few of my favs from the internet:

Credit where due:
(from left to right)

Top: Miss Print Design, The Inspired Note

Middle: Peacock Invitations, Lauren Alexa

Bottom: Peacock Invitations, DIYva Designs

I can't wait to incorporate the peacock color scheme into our invites!
What do yours look like? Or what do you envision them to look like?

Peeaaa Essssss: One of the invites pictured above is ours.  Don't try to guess which one, because they are all fabulous... just wait for the surprise to be revealed! 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Details, details

To me, a wedding becomes truly fancy with a personalized match-box.

And to really top it off? You need personalized napkins.

I waited for The Knot to have their semi-annual favors sale and then pounced.
I'm excited to incorporate these two details into our big day!

Against teal tablecloths these will really pop!

What do you think?
Are you a fan of personalized items?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

5 Months Away!


So yesterday marked 5 months away from the big day, and I didn't even notice until The Knot sent me a reminder.


Instead of posting an update, I will link up my two latest posts that basically summarize what's going on right now:

The Checklist


An Open Letter to Myself

Thanks for all the lovely comments and emails of support.  You really made me smile and remember what it's all about!
{Cue the Hokey-Pokey}

I figured we decided on way too much great things this month to leave it solely up to the links above!

We are working on:
  • invitations! (I have a sample in hand!)
  • tuxedo rentals
  • hair options
  • The cake!
  • choosing a wedding day perfume
  • finalizing the rehearsal dinner menu and location
  • picking our ketuba
  • pretty  much everything :)
Stay tuned for all the fun!!!!  (and I am really starting to buy into the "fun")

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

An Open Letter to Myself

Dear Vicki,

Hi, Darling.  I hear the wedding planning is coming along.  You and Mike work together as a great team, when you remember to tell him things and not try to take on everything by yourself.  I know we're really excited about the sessions with personal trainers and getting those arms in shape.  Things are really starting to shape up and honestly you are starting to loose it, and not pounds.  Enough of the small talk.  I staged an intervention. I brought along myself (you) and all your readers and lurkers (the non-commenting readers) and we're here today to tell you to breathe.

See, I noticed recently that you're doing that thing you do, ya know - get all worked up when you can't control a situation.  In trying to defy gravity you forget anxiety will come knocking down your walls if you continue to establish huge expectations.  Do you really think that on June 19th everything will smoothly play out? While I can tell you are desperately trying now to do everything in your power to make sure it will, you are building up those expectations to the point where no one can avoid dashing them.  The planning is all well and good.  The over planning and perfection seeking is not.

If you allow yourself to rev-up 5 months out, what will your status be in June?

Listen to Kathryn, who recognizes this behavior creeping in has no place in your heart. Take a breath.  Your yoga practice goes far beyond the studio practice space.

If you must be such a damn realist who tries to prepare for the worst, remember your wedding day will still happen regardless of the weather, the decor layout, or even family feuds.  Listen to Joey, she told you about her ice sculpture with the wrong monogram on her wedding day.  She still had fun and others had fun.
Some things are inevitable and they don't shut down the show.

If you continue to persist like this, well shut. the. front. door.  I'm not having it anymore.
Listen to Shana, who said the time passes so quickly, to savor every moment.  A negative attitude with a Nervous-Nelly clouds all possibility of enjoying this time.

You are a strong, beautiful woman who will shine no matter what your hair, nails, or arm flab look like on your wedding day.

You are creative, smart, and capable of accepting.  Everything will look lovely because weddings are like that, and everyone will have a good time celebrating.

You are young, in love, and excited.  Remember the point of all this and remember Mike's love for you.

Now, listen to yourself and not to any nonsensical fears.  Don't allow nonproductive thoughts (including David Tuttera and his seemingly perfect wedding show) get to you.   Dust yourself off, put on your big-girl panties, and blast the Glee Soundtrack, or whatever bad music you're currently listening to, and repeat after me:
I. Am. Enough.

Yours (literally),
Victoria Ann Elizabeth

PS: Stop faking. Start believing yourself.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Working Out with Liz DiAlto!

Recently, Liz of Fit, Healthy, And Beautiful contacted me to sponsor my wedding beautification endeavors.  Liz is a Metabolic Effect Certified Instructor and personal trainer.  She trains not only brides, but anyone virtually or in person.  That's right, I said virtually!  She's has some awesome telecasts that guide you through effective workouts.
Personally, I've learned through experience, that if I'm not guided through a workout (or grad school level class) I will not see results!

But I digress.
Liz's training philosophy captures the belief that "there is a Superwoman inside all of us."  She not only trains your body but also your brain, through healthy eating tips and positive thinking.
Plus? She's a normal person.  She's down to earth, easy to talk to, and very likable.

I met with Liz for the first time last week.  After a discussion about my goals for my body and nutrition, we headed to the gym for a Rest Based workout.  Yes, REST Based. Sounds awesome, right?

Taken from the Metabolic Effect site, "Rest and exercise are usually thought of as opposites, but they are actually complimentary and dependent upon one another. Just as night can only be defined in the context of day, exercise and rest are similarly connected. Rest is the single biggest determinant of exercise intensity. Without intense workouts, fitness results will be lacking and without rest, intensity will be compromised...Push hard, rest hard and then do it again. That's how you achieve the Metabolic Effect."

Basically you workout to the point of resting.  You listen to what your body needs and when it says rest, you talk to Liz about your wedding for a couple minutes, then it's back to sweating.

We started off the thirty-minute period with jogging in place and jumping-jacks, to get my heart going.  We  moved on to leg work with squats and lunges.  While doing some of these activities I also used 5lb. hand-weights for arm work. 
Liz explained to me that doing these two things at once more effectively tones.  "Engaging more muscles simultaneously obviously burns more calories because it requires more energy.  It also challenges your balance, increases core and overall strength and again, is more efficient."

In between activities I ran more in place (high-knees) and did more jumping jacks.  I also tried my best at push-ups, even if my knees were on the ground.  I hope to do a "real" push-up soon, but Liz is realistic and allows me to modify.

Towards the end of my 30 minute session was ab-work.  Oh abs, how I would love my tummy to be flatter but I detest working towards it.  Your abs are used with everything, so certainly breathing, standing, and sneezing would be compromised the next day!  While doing sit ups, I again used the 5lb. weights to do arm work.  Talk about hard! Not only did I need to be coordinated, but make my abs lift ten extra pounds!  By this point I was ready for more of that Rest.

We ended with a cool down and great pep talk.  I'm actually excited to go back and do it again this week!

I asked Liz about the thought behind an intense 30 minute workout regiment and the effectiveness. She shared, "Because you're a busy bride who doesn't have a ton of weight to lose, just trying to tone and build some strength.  These workouts are designed to boost your metabolism and help you burn fat specifically, rather than just burn calories in general."

Rock. On!

This workout was something I felt totally capable of doing and good doing so!
Liz got me excited about exercising (I know, right?!) and made it fun, too!
Update after session 4 to come! Stay tuned (and toned!)

"Liz DiAlto is a health and fitness expert currently based out of Washington DC. From personal, virtual and small group training, to Spinning, Zumba and Total Body Bootcamp classes, Liz’s super power is teaching really busy women how to ditch the guilt and start living Fit, Healthy & Beautiful lives. "
You can follow Liz on Twitter and check out her site, Fit, Healthy, and Beautiful for more blog posts & tips!

Disclosure:  I  received four thirty-minute training sessions with Liz to properly review her technique and approach, and become a Fit, Healthy, and (already) Beautiful bride! I received no payment  for this post.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What's left to do?

Thanks to this here blog I have a pretty good framework of how much we planned for our upcoming wedding and what we still need to accomplish.

However I have quite the "to-do" list in my head.
And few people really understand this, because I'm often asked "What's left to do?" and then told "You've done it all!"

No. no. no!
There is still so much left to do!
How can anyone possibly think I can walk down the aisle tomorrow and everything will be roses and lace?!

So here.
Here's my psycho-bride to-do list:
(Volunteers accepted, but know that you're dealing with a bride...)
  • bridesmaids gifts to be decided upon and purchased
  • groomsmens gifts to be decided and purchased
  • parents gifts to decide on and purchase 
  • buy new perfume
  • buy earrings and bracelet (I bought a necklace!) 
  • create a preferred song list for the band
  • meet with the band at the venue, to determine spacing
  • meet with our planner to create a time-line
  • purchase wedding insurance (for the site)
  • create a photo-list (of specific shots we desire) for our photog
  • finish my dress fittings
  • research and reserve a make-up artist for myself
  • practice walking in my 4" heels (I'm crazy)
  • sign the florist contract
  • have a cake tasting, determine cake design
  • finalize hors d' oeuvres
  • decide on invitations and finalize verbage
  • ship invites to calligrapher
  • send out invites
  • finalize a rehearsal dinner location and menu
  • purchase a ketuba (Jewish wedding contract)
  • research and purchase kepote (yarmulkes)
  • create a wedding program (mom's got this one)
  • decide who will participate in our ceremony
  • write our vows
  • purchase Mike's wedding band
  • decide on honeymoon location and purchase plane tickets, reserve rooms 
  • prenuptial counseling
  • make a reception seating plan (after RSVP's come in)
  • visit tux store and get Mike measured
    • decide on vests for groom & groomsmen
  • welcome bags in their ENTIRETY
    • decide on bags (canvas? paper? handles? personalized?)
    • purchase the bags
    • buy things to put IN the bags
    • collect metro maps and DC maps to put in the bags
    • decorate the bags 

I think I've successfully gotten myself all worked up.
Now who's doing what for me?  And remember, you must run all decisions by me first.
::sheepish smile::

Do you make to-do lists? Do they help or drive you crazy?

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Before Christmas, Macy's ran a kick-arse sale.  Not only were items discounted, but then my Macy's card earned me an additional 25% off.  That is how I shop!

I  noticed their designer ties were part of this lovely discount.
And in that selection I found some handsome, purple paisley ties.
My brain started turning as I thought about our groomsmen.

The ties were originally $69.
They were now 40% off.
Then I get my additional 25% off.
AND on top of that because I was a part of their Share program, I get 10% back during the holidays.

For more than half the price we purchased these ties, with pocket squares, for our groomsmen!

Let's just hope the color matches up to the bridesmaids dresses!

(They will also be receiving a personalized gift)
What do you think?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pretty Pearls

When my friend and bridesmaid, Kathryn, visited China recently I asked her pick up four pearl necklaces.  Since China is known for its pearls, she purchased these necklaces for $20 total. Wowsers, eh?
I knew I wanted her to buy these to then gift to my bridesmaids (even though she is one of them).

Then it came time to think about my necklace.  With the shape of my dress (nuh uh! not telling!) I knew my necklace needed to be simple but with... oh nevermind. It's too hard to explain.
However I found a wonderful pearl necklace on Etsy (duh, of course) that really spoke to me.  The seller is from China and ships for free (amazing!).  She also has great reviews (600 positive) so I figured why not take a chance.  If this necklace doesn't work out with my dress, I'll wear it on any other fancy day!

Here's a lovely picture of my necklace:

I'm excited. Hopefully it will arrive before my next dress fitting!

Are you a fan of pearls?
What else can I gift my bmaids?!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Great Videographer Debate

This is pretty simple:

We didn't budget for a videographer and they are not cheap, so that means we don't get one, right?


So many of our friends strongly recommended having one to remember the day, but to also remember those near and dear to you,
to capture voices and faces that fade with memory.

Well, when you put it like that?
Guilt wins over and we contact a videographer.
I can't stand the thought of a random cousin walking around with a camcorder taking some shaky video footage that makes you want to puke when watching it playback
(And that lacks cheesy playback music. I like the corny background songs)

We will be hiring a videographer.

Even if we only watch the video once a year,
Even if we subject our friends to the flim by luring them over with promises of beer and burgers,
Even if it becomes a superior paperweight,
We'll have it - which is more than you can say if you decide not to.

Anyone else have this similar debate?
What did you decide?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bridesmaid's Dresses - a Decision!

For some reason I firmly straddled the line between caring too much and not caring enough about my bridesmaids' dresses.

In my crazy head, it went something like this:
-I want them to be able to wear the dress again.
-I want the dress to suit their different body types and needs.
-I want my sister (Maid of Honor) to not feel like the dress is too cutesy.
-I want my friends to feel like the dress is cute/stylish.

with a side of:
-I really don't care what the dress looks like because I'm not the one who has to wear it.
-There's no way to meet everyone's needs.
-If I'm not wearing it how can I choose it?
-They won't like anything I pick.
-I have no idea what color.

You can easily see how this became a dilemma, and thus something I avoided.

Then I found the designer Alfred Sung, in the Dessy Group.  I liked all his designs and options.  There was one particular dress that Diana fell in love with, and in turn Kathryn, too.  But of course they were different dresses.  Then it dawned on me: all my girls are different, why not have them all wear a different dress by the same designer, in the same color?
It was almost too easy.

Requirements: must be by Alfred Sung, in the Peau de Soie fabric, color: majestic (aka dark purple), & cocktail length.

And so I bring you the possibilities of bridesmaids' dresses you might see at my wedding (sorry the pics are so small):

Finally, piece of mind for me!

What did your bridesmaids' dresses look like?
or What was the best dress you wore as a bridesmaid?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Eau du Wha?

When first engaged a friend recommended I do some "scent-memory-association" thing where I wear a perfume while wedding planning, to always associate the two.  I immediately turned it down because not all wedding planning is fluff and unicorns. 
The idea of connecting something potentially hazardous with a purdy scent - well, the two lacked connection.

But now? Now that I can see the horizon and might be freaking out a little bit? 
Well in true Vicki fashion, instead of addressing what might be bothering me (you know, the fact that my wedding is creeping up on me) I tackle another issue instead:
What perfume will I wear on my wedding day?

This is important, but could probably wait.
So let's go ahead and discuss this today!

But the stupid internet lacks scent options, so hopefully you know what these smell like.
In my current collection I own:
Ralph Lauren's Blue (light, gardenia-eque)
Tommy Girl (light, flowery)
Chloe Narcisse (musky, reminds me of my mom - she wears it)
Versace's Red Jeans (light, musky)
Givenchy's Amarige (heavier, smells like everything, my fav)

Of all those, I heart Amarige the most.  Like tons.  But I'm all out. 
None left to spray.

I recently smelled a new one by Prada and LOVED it but forget the name.
I also am a fan of Cartier's eau du something or other.

I'm open to suggestions.  I'm ready to hit up the fragrance section of Macy's and let them spray pieces of paper for me (but not ON me because I have allergy issues, which is a whole 'nother problem)

So, what your scent suggestion?!

{image source}

Monday, January 3, 2011

Prenuptial Counseling

We met with our Rabbi recently for round 1 of 3 of Prenuptial Counseling. This is the same Rabbi who converted me, so I feel completely comfortable with him. Because I studied extensively with him, many of the things he normally talks about with couples we already covered (like what it means to live in a Jewish home, & belonging to a synagogue).  So we brought up tons of questions we have about the ceremony.
And after only 30 minutes we ran out of things to talk about.  I'm not kidding.
He suggested that for next time we write down things we think of, and bring that list with us.

Here are a few main things we discussed:

The Sheva Berakhot (literally "the seven blessings")
This is the real meat of the Jewish marriage ceremony.  These seven blessings praise G-d and wish joy upon the bride and groom.  They are said under the Chuppah and again after dinner.  What we need to decide is who will say these blessings. We are considering how to give the honor of saying this blessings to friends and family while not taking forever.  These blessings can be said and given out in a number of ways.

Way 1) Allow 7 different Jewish people to say the blessings in Hebrew followed by 7 people (of any religion) saying the translation in English.  This way takes a long time and adds about 20 minutes on to the ceremony, considering everyone has to get up from their seat, go up to the front, say their bit, then sit down again.  It's nice, but is it practical?

Way 2) Allow 7 Jewish people to say the blessings in Hebrew, with the translation following - OR the Rabbi says the translations

Way 3) The Rabbi says it all, along with the traslations.

Remember, the Sheva Berakhot are said at two different moments.  It is possible to do it one way (have the Rabbi say it all) during the ceremony and then after dinner allow for more participation.

The Wedding Rings
As you know, I already designed and purchased my wedding ring.  But it's not kosher. Literally.
See, the ring needs to be plain, without engraving, frills, or stones.  This is to show that the ring has no perceivable ending point. It is round and unending, just as the love between husband and wife. Also Mike needs to own the ring, so that when the rabbi asks "who owns this ring" which is about to be put on my hand, Mike can without a doubt say "I do."  So my ring has stones and I own it.  Mike is going to buy me a plain, pretty band.  Interestingly there is no need for Mike to have a ring, but we're modern and want to roll like that, so he's getting one.  Plus we need a way for him to fend off the ladies once we're married, right?!

My Shoulders
Without saying too much about my dress, I was worried my shoulders needed to be covered while under the Chuppah... or that I needed to be wrapped head to toe in fabric. (to be slightly more conservative, ya know?) Our Rabbi said so long as I am comfortable and not falling out of my dress, I am fine. 

Anyone have more questions for us to bring to the rabbi for Session Two of Prenuptial Counseling?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Best Resolution

New Year's Resolutions can really bite you in the butt. 
You start off the year all happy and gung-ho to really do something better.  My favorite resolutions are the "eat healthier" or "loose weight" ones, because, like the attendance in my yoga studio in January, you resolve to really follow through.  Then, similar to that attendance rate, March comes along (if you're lucky) and "just one glass of wine" turns into the normal routine.  Old habits die hard.

The best resolutions are ones that easily come without trying, like "breathing more regularly" (so long as your healthy lungs comply) or even "read more" (hopefully you set aside time, or count reading my blog and dietary information on the back of the sale-holiday candy boxes towards that goal).

But really, when it comes to making a decision to change, radical thoughts seem to lead to huge expectations which ultimately lead to failure. (too harsh?)  I advise you to go ahead and do something you already planned to do, just on New Year's Day, instead of say, March or November.  Can't wait? Then call it a delayed New Year's Resolution.
Trust me, it adds an awesome feeling to it.

Two years ago today Mike and I made the best resolution, ever.  Weighty statement?
Here's proof that choice continues to make us happy:

On January 1, 2009, we went to the Humane Society of Washington DC and signed the paperwork, giving sweet Eleanor Rigby her forever home.
Nora, as we call her, suffered from abuse through neglect.  She was an Animal Control confiscation case.  Someone called the hot line, reported seeing a dog malnourished, and the owners handed over the dog without even taking the 30 day challenge to improve this dog's life.  Full grown and about 2 years old, she weighed thirty pounds when she first arrived at the shelter and thirty-five pounds when we took her home.  Now? She healthily weights fifty-five pounds, and resolves not to eat too many biscuit bones.

But luckily, this unfortunate time in Nora's life brought her into ours.
And lucky for us, it happened on New Year's Day, two years ago.

I resolve not to make a New Year's Resolution this year.  I want to keep doing what I'm doing happily, and continue to improve my quality of life, by improving Nora's quality of life.

Happy New Year, all! May your resolutions be sound and firm, or nonexistent.
Either way, may you be happy as our dog!

Disclaimer: this post was in no way sponsored by the Humane Society, or Sarah Mclachlan.  Just a friendly reminder to do what you're doing without putting unnecessary pressure on  yourself.  Unless of course you need to loose weight for health reasons. Happy New Year!
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