lifestyle, Personal, Uncategorized

2021 Goal Check!

Today is February 1st, and a Monday! There is extra “fresh start” energy in the air!

Last night I sat down with a journal and touched base on my 2021 “resolutions”/goals to see where I’m at. I think it’s super easy to set these goals with the “New Year New Me” vibes at the beginning of January, but for many people, they taper off by the end of the first month. I felt like I did a lot of sporadic things this month that generally were on track with my goals, but felt like they were scattered and I couldn’t visualize the totality of my progress unless I sat down and wrote it out.

I HIGHLY encourage you to take some time today and list out the things you did in January that aligned with your 2021 goals. Don’t leave anything out! For me, my list included things like:

  • Took care of my body by attending overdue doctor appointments
  • Bought an exercise bike and hit 150 miles in January
  • Cleaned up my eating habits
  • Made time for skincare
  • Made time for spirituality
  • Read more books
  • Hit one large life goal! (dream car)
  • Worked on budgeting/saving

Next – I challenge you to list the things you did in January that did NOT align with your 2021 goals, so you can see what to eliminate for February. For me, this included things like:

  • Ate fast food when I shouldn’t have
  • Ordered too many sugary drinks from Starbucks (this hurt my money and health goals)
  • Skipped workouts when I didn’t need to
  • Compromised valuable sleep time scrolling on my phone

Lastly, take a moment to journal out what you want your February to look like. Are you going to be more consistent with your workouts? Are you going to reach a specific goal at your job? Are you going to focus more time on family?

Don’t let your New Year energy fizzle out. It’s a new month, a new work week, a new day, and a new opportunity to show up as the person you want to be!

February, be kind to us all!

Feel free to share some reflections on your new year goals below!

lifestyle, Uncategorized

Shopping Small & Local – A Holiday Guide for my Genoa/Sycamore/DeKalb Friends

Prairie State Winery (Genoa/Sycamore)

Prairie State is a yearly stop for me – and it’s easy to snag from their Genoa location, or in the “local wines” section of Hyvee (Sycamore). The thing about Prairie State wine is they are ALL good. Even people who don’t typically like Reds (like me) will love their holiday hit – Holiday Red. They also have other holiday wines including Merry Berry (my favorite), Winter White and Winter Warmth. Whether you’re looking for a table wine to bring for your Christmas host, or for a small gift for a friend, boss or family member, a craftily-wrapped bottle from Prairie State will make the perfect gesture. They run about $15 and under per bottle.

The Enchanted Valley Farm (Genoa/Kingston)

This the cutest little hidden gem in Kingston and they’re doing a special four-days-only Holiday Gift Shop event! The gift shop will be open 11/28, 11/29, 12/5 and 12/6 and they are only allowing 2 people, or a private group, in at a time with masks for a safe, anxiety-free shopping experience for all. You can also shop by private appointment, or do curbside pickup or free local delivery! A perk of shopping here is they offer a boutique shopping experience with select goods from several crafters and other local small businesses as well.

Herb/o/logy (Genoa/Kingston)

One of the featured available local brands at Enchanted Valley is Herb/o/logy. My mom actually introduced me to their products in our Christmas stockings a year or two ago! Herb/o/logy is a plant-based, natural skin-care collection with lotions, lip butters, soaps and more. I personally recommend the lip butter balms!

Genoa Guest House (Genoa)

Genoa Guest House is another hidden gem that I’ve been dying to check out since I first discovered it earlier this year. The Genoa Guest House is a fully-remodeled, eco-friendly home built in 1888 that offers a unique and charming Bed & Breakfast deal. Get your parents a two-day stay and give them a mini-vacation after a year of travel bans. You can also purchase a gift certificate, or try their “Pick Up On The Porch” this holiday season!

Cassie’s Popcorn (Sycamore)

Don’t forget about our iconic little popcorn stand in downtown Sycamore! Don’t know what to do for a grab bag gift? Swing by for some gourmet popcorn, throw in a good movie or streaming gift card with some candy. Or, sub some of that Christmas candy for your kids with some yummy popcorn under the tree or in their stockings! It would also make the perfect little treat to put out at your Christmas gathering.

Mardi Gras Lanes (Sycamore/DeKalb)

Fun fact – I’ve been a bowler since I was in the third grade. I grew up at Mardi Gras Lanes and it’s still owned and operated by the same wonderful people. As you can imagine, Covid is making it difficult to operate an indoor sport facility. Luckily, you can get an e-gift card here for a perfect stocking-stuffer for your family bowler, or for a promised future date night or family night to look forward to!

Rustic Roots Sycamore (Sycamore)

Rustic Roots is the cutest home decor shop located in downtown Sycamore. You can shop in-person or online here.

Coroco Coffee Roaster Collective (Sycamore)

For the coffee lover in your life. Grab a bag (or more!) of their unique roasts and pair with a cute mug, and maybe a gift card! This would also make a great grab-bag or co-worker/boss gift. For your SO, purchase one of their coffee subscriptions for 3 months, 6 months or a year for delicious, carefully-crafted roasts delivered to their doorstep.

Sweet De-Lights (Genoa)

Need a dessert to pass at your (Covid-safe and ~small~) Holiday gathering? Reach out to Sweet De-lights in Genoa for a custom dessert. You could also order some sweet stocking stuffers (think cookies, cake pops, chocolate suckers…) AND – she makes the super-popular hot chocolate bombs! (Seriously – look at how awesome her Thanksgiving hot chocolate bombs were!)

Bleu Palette Art Studio (Sycamore)

Bleu Palette is woman-owned and operated by a long-time family friend! It’s one of Sycamore’s hidden gems, located on 23 a little north of State Street. Bleu Pallete usually hosts in-person group painting classes but is temporarily doing online-only events, artist consulting and commission work, and ART KITS! She sells art kits for only $22 which would make a perfect gift to keep your kids busy during our Covid Christmas. Kits are being re-stocked December 1st!

Blumen Gardens (Sycamore)

If you haven’t been to Blumen Gardens yet, wyd?! Their warehouse shop is loaded with unique finds that would make great gifts for anyone. They are having a Small Business Weekend Sale this weekend through Monday (11/30), featuring 20% off fresh greens, wreaths, porch accessories, poinsettias and more!

Sara Jennings Photography (Sycamore)

Know of someone who will need family photos or maternity photos soon? Purchase a gift certificate from Sara Jennings Photography! She is currently offering 20% off sessions AND gift certificates through 11:59 pm on 11/29 (but only for the first ten clients to purchase!)

Cracker Jax (DeKalb)

Cracker Jax is loaded with fun finds. A new and vintage boutique in downtown DeKalb, Cracker Jax has SO MUCH to look at, I just know you’ll find at least one gift while you peruse the beautiful rooms. My favorites are their crystals, incense, sage and aromatherapy collections!

Studio One Salon & Spa (DeKalb)

This goes without saying, but this year has been incredibly stressful for everyone. A gift card to Studio One would make a perfect gift for your loved one to de-stress with a massage, facial, mani/pedis, you name it.

The Forge of Sycamore (Sycamore)

Perfect for a gift or for your small Christmas gathering. Pick up some cans (or growler!) of The Forge’s craft beer and give as a gift with a gift card, or order some of their amazing pizzas and apps for your ~covid-friendly~ holiday get-together.

OpenDoor Coffee (Genoa)

OpenDoor Coffee is the cutest family-owned coffee business in Genoa. Pair one or two bags of their coffee beans with their cute mug and a gift card and you have the perfect gift! A gift card would also make a great stocking-stuffer.

OutMatched Gaming (Sycamore)

Stop into OutMatched Gaming on Small Business Saturday to check out their sale! They offer board games, sports cards, figurines, Magic the Gathering cards, Pokemon cards, New Release Comics, graphic novels & more!

Sugar on Top Bake Shop (Genoa)

Sugar on Top is a Genoa favorite and offers so many treats, including cakes, pies, cupcakes, cookies and more. Think stocking-stuffers or a dessert gift for your host! They are currently utilizing curbside pick-up too!

Uncategorized

Vegan GF Mediterranean Salad

Fun fact: when I first started my blog, it was called “FoodFashionChaos.” Why? I wanted to share a bit of fashion, a bit of my chaotic life (which was law school at the time) and a LOT of recipes!

As a life-long vegetarian with Celiac disease (no gluten allowed!) I get asked alllllll the time what I eat. But, it’s usually like “OMG! WHAT DO YOU EAT??? LETTUCE?!” I also have met several people who are discovering they have gluten sensitivities or are trying to limit their gluten intake for general health reasons. I was getting asked to share recipes all the time, so I started a blog to make it easier to share and help people trying to go vegetarian or gluten-free!

I want to start sharing some basic, everyday recipes that don’t break the bank. One of the most common misconceptions with going vegetarian and/or gluten free is that you have to spend a ton more money at the grocery store. That’s simply not true! The trick? Getting back to basics – not spending a fortune on prepackaged, overpriced gluten-free food.

Today, I’m sharing my favorite vegan, gluten-free mediterranean salad that is super cheap and quick and easy to make! No overpriced gluten-free salad dressing, no overpriced manufactured gluten-free croutons – just the basics.

What you need:

  • Chard, Kale, Spinach Greens Mix
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Pitted Kalamata Olives
  • 1 Can Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
  • Pepperoncinis (optional)
  • Olive Oil
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Garlic Powder
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Pink Himalayan Salt or Sea Salt
  • Oregano

Start by heating about 2 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add one can drained chickpeas. Cook until browned and slightly crispy with garlic powder, crushed red pepper, salt, and oregano. In a bowl, combine greens, sliced cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, pitted kalamata olives and top with the hot, crispy seasoned chickpeas (the perfect GF crouton replacement!). In a small bowl, stir one part olive oil and one part red wine vinegar with garlic powder, oregano and salt. Drizzle on top for your dressing. Add a couple pepperoncinis if you like a little spice! Enjoy!

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Now I’m Drippin’ in Jewels…

I’ve just recently fallen in love with the tassels and baubles trend for this spring, and I was over the moon when I found a few pairs on clearance at my local TJ Maxx. (Suprise, surprise, that’s where I find literally all my favorite shopping steals LOL).

I decided to put together a little compilation of my favorite spring earrings for you guys to shop online and join me in the tassels and baubles obsession! Bright pops of color on these unique earrings can really turn a plain outfit into spring fashion goals!

  1. Monday Dress

“A Ball of Fun” Earrings in Blush – on sale right now for $9.99!

“Tiered Tassel Earrings” in Blue – $24.99 (They also come in pink!)

“Wait for Love” Pink Tassel Earrings – On Sale for $9.99!

2. Francesca’s

“Dorothy Lavender Earrings” – $18.00

Dorothy Lavender Earrings- Lavender

“Sina Beaded Chandelier” in Turquoise – $24.00

These are just like my earrings in my post! They also come in fuchsia, red, and yellow!

Sina Beaded Chandelier in Turquoise- Turquoise

3. Kendra Scott

If you’re looking to splurge a bit, maybe on a Mother’s Day gift or a graduation gift to yourself, check out Kendra Scott’s Spring line and Summer line! I am obsessed – she takes the tassel trend to a new level!

“Justyne Gold Statement Earrings” in Blush Mix Mother of Pearl – $250.00, Spring 2018 Collection

Justyne Gold Statement Earrings in Blush Mix Mother of Pearl

“Misha Statement Earrings” in Blush Pearl, Teal Amazonite, Bronze Veined Turqoise, and Navy Dusted Glass – $125, from Spring 2018 Collection

“Christina Rose Gold Statement Earrings” in Lilac Mother of Pearl, Pink Unbanded Agate, and Aqua Howlite – $195, Summer 2018 Collection

 

Happy Shopping!

-T

Uncategorized

Natural Home Remedy for Your Pup’s Ear Infection

Seeing your pup hurt or sick is one of the WORST things to go through as a furmama. Recently, Chase ended up at the vet because of what we thought was an injured paw/leg. He wasn’t eating, going outside or playing at all. Anytime we would pick him up or try to move him, he would yelp in pain. We took him to Bethany Animal Hospital right away, and they told us he probably was starting to have back issues, which is common for pomeranians and other small dogs. He was given the dog version of Aleve and within a few days was back to his hyper self – thank goodness.

Soon after, Chase started shaking his head a lot more than usual. This turned into pawing at his ears, scratching them, and walking around tilting his head to one side. When I noticed it was getting worse, I looked up the signs of dogs with ear infections. Sure enough, it seemed like Chase had one.

My first instinct was to rush him to the vet (because I’m a super anxious person), but I came across a few articles on how to treat your dog’s ear infection at home. I was a little skeptical, but because I didn’t see any blood or discharge coming from his ears yet, I decided to give one of the remedies a try. Surprisingly, within three days of using this natural remedy – Chase had stopped shaking his head and pawing at his ears, and was back to his normal self!

Here’s how I did it:

  • Take a few tablespoons of coconut oil and heat it in a pan with a few cloves of garlic
  • Allow the oil mixture to cool enough so it doesn’t hurt your pup (but don’t let it  solidify)
  • Use an ear dropper or syringe and drop 1-2 drops in each ear 2-3 times a day for one week.

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Amazingly, coconut oil and garlic act act as potent antibiotics, which are said to cure and prevent bacterial infections even better than a medicinal antibiotic. As such, you can use this natural drop mix to prevent ear infections as well! As soon as this actually worked for my pup, I knew I had to share it with my fellow dog moms.

Do you have any natural home remedies for your furbabies? Drop a comment to share!

 

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10 Winter Self-Care Essentials

Hey everyone!

It has been quite a brutal winter up here in the Chicago ‘burbs, and I’ve been focusing a lot of my spare time during this winter break on self-care (when I’m not working). It is always important for me to go back to school after a break feeling refreshed, healthy, and like I generally took some time off to take care of myself (because I’ll inevitably forget to do this when the semester starts again). I thought I’d share with all of you some of my winter self-care essentials that I’ve been using religiously this winter break:

  1. Bath & Body Works Stress Relief Eucalyptus & Spearmint Body Wash & Foam Bath – $13.50 I recently featured this BBW Aromatherapy lifesaver in an insta post – but I’m sharing again because it’s definitely one of my winter essentials! Dealing with the freezing Chicago temps and dreary weather always gets me a little down (and cold, and ill, and kinda depressed, and… well, you get it). I cure some of that dreariness by taking an excessive amount of hot bubble baths! I use my this stress relief foam bath when I’m feeling a little anxious, and I use my Bodycology bath bombs (see below) every other time.
  2. Bath & Body Works PocketBac Hand Sanitizers – 5 for $6 The flu is going around up here like crazy!! Everyone in my office has been on edge and using Germex constantly! I keep these handy PocketBacs everywhere – one at my desk, two in my purse, in my car, around the house… basically in reach at all times. Not to mention, they smell WAY better than Germex.
  3. Lip Scrub I’ve admittedly been struggling this winter with extreeeemely dry lips. They’ve been so bad, that I’ve created a whole skincare routine just for my lips! Lol! For anyone else who struggles with their lips in the winter, try starting with a lip scrub like the one listed here, and then use a lip mask followed by Ulta’s amazing juice-infused lip oil, and EOS balm throughout the day! See my products linked below
  4. Lip Mask
  5. Ulta Juice Infused Lip Oil – $9 or Buy Two Get Two
  6. EOS Smooth Smear Lip Balm – $3.29
  7. Living Proof Perfect Hair Day (PhD) Dry Shampoo – $22 Okay, who else wakes up in the morning freezing cold and fighting just to get out of bed?! Chicago winters definitely take a toll on your daily life, and sometimes, it’s just damn hard to get out of bed and spend an hour washing, drying, and styling your hair. The best dry shampoo I’ve ever used is this guy right here! Personally recommended by my best friend and beauty guru, Danielle, who works at Sephora so her recommendation means more than mine!
  8. Feeling Beautiful Charcoal & Black Sugar Mask – $4.29 for 6 oz. or $1.99 for individual mask I love the mud version of this mask, but it also comes in a gel version! It’s focused on detoxifying the skin, which is ahmazing and all, but I just use face masks during my excessive “self-care and relaxation” days in these brutal winters lol! Just be careful not to overuse any kind of face mask, as your skin will definitely dry out.
  9. Bodycology Bath Fizzies – $4.97 in-store at Walmart 
  10. Finishing Touch Flawless – Instant and Painless Facial Hair Remover – $19.99 I cannot get over this product! It was actually given to me in my Christmas stocking from my mom (she still gives us stockings from “Santa” and probably will til I’m 50). Using a razor on your face when it’s THIS cold and dry is terrible – your skin is already dry, and using your razor to get rid of pesky facial hair just makes your face more dry and irritated. This amazing tool does what it promises – it doesn’t even feel like it’s removing hair, but it gets it ALL and leaves your skin feeling warm and smooth! ZERO irritation. I will never use anything else on my face!

What are YOUR winter self-care essentials?

xo – lawandlooks

 

Uncategorized

Gluten-free Vegan Minestrone Soup

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It’s only January 2nd and I’m already sick and feeling run-down thanks to the horribly cold temps we’ve been having in Chicago (combined with my autoimmune disease). NYE was almost -30 with the windchill! The cold combined with being sick inspired me to share (and make for myself!) a family recipe of mine that’s been passed down for generations – our Italian vegetable minestrone soup!

This recipe has had some modifications recently, as my mom, then me, then my sister all found out we have Celiac disease. But, as you’ve seen from prior posts, you can’t keep Italians from eating pizza, bread and pasta! It just needs to be modified.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • One large green bell pepper
  • One medium red onion
  • Two bulbs of garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 large (28 oz.) can crushed tomato with basil (the Hunt’s cans I feature on this post is gluten-free!)
  • 1 regular (14.5 oz.) can diced tomato
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) red kidney beans
  • 1 8 oz. box of Banza brand gluten-free shells made from chickpeas (you can use any gluten-free shells from an 8 oz. box to 12 oz. box. If your local store does not have gluten-free shells, try gluten-free bow-tie pasta or macaroni in its place).
  • Spices (basil, italian seasoning, garlic powder, black pepper, sea salt, pink himalayan salt, parsley, thyme, cayenne pepper).

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First, you will chop the the red onion and green pepper. Finely chop the garlic.

 

Saute the green pepper and onion in the olive oil on medium heat until softened – then, add the garlic and continue to saute. Add black pepper and sea salt/himalayan salt and saute until you start to see a subtle browning.

At this point, add the large can of crushed tomato, the can of diced tomatoes, the *drained* can of red kidney beans, and the 6 cups of water. Add spices to taste (be generous! It’s a big pot of soup!). The spices you use can vary depending on what you have in your kitchen. My mom relies on Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic powder for the most part. I used what I had in my kitchen, which was a mix of sea salt, pink himalayan salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper (be careful, this is HOT!), thyme, and parsley.

After the soup mixture has been boiling for about ten minutes, add the box of uncooked pasta into the same pot. When the noodles are softened (but are still al dente – approximately 10 minutes) remove from heat and serve!

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I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! This recipe will make you enough soup to last at least a few days.

 

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Ten Cyber Monday Gifts for Him

Hubby Gift GuideI’m doing something a little different and posting a guide for last-minute Cyber Monday shopping for your man. I’ve been keeping my eye on most of these goodies for a bit and they are ALL on sale. Fossil’s sale is particularly impressive – check out the killer deals before today ends!

  1. Bath and Body Works Stress Relief line

BBW isn’t just your go-to gift for women – their Aromatherapy line is neutral and my husband lives and swears by the Stress Relief line! Their Cyber Monday deal is 40% off with free shipping on $40 with the code CYBERMON. These also make perfect stocking stuffers!

2. Olivina Men Bourbon Vanilla Organic Lip Balm

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Another perfect stocking stuffer to add to your Target order for only a few bucks! Target’s Cyber Monday deal is 15% off online purchases!

3. Hearth & Hand with Magnolia Portable Beverage Mug

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If you haven’t checked out Chip & Joanna Gaines’ new line at Target – you’re missing out! This travel mug is $24.99 before your 15% Cyber Monday discount.

4. Men’s Soho Cobbler Kason Tan Cap To Chukka Boot 

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These babies are already on sale from their original price of $44.99 for $31.49 BEFORE the 15% Cyber Monday discount!

5. Bodum Pour-Over Coffee Maker

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Everyone could use this portable pour-over coffee maker! And it’s only $20 before the 15% Cyber Monday discount!

6. Men’s Lightweight Puffer Vest – C9 Champion

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This is a cheaper alternative to the high-dollar puffer vests! $44.99 before the 15% discount. Every guy needs this in their lives – especially because they all seem to have a strong aversion to wearing winter coats… @my husband.

7. Qualo Silicone Wedding Band

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For when your hubby is being a handy-man, is working out, doing outdoorsy activities, etc. this ring is perfect so his actual wedding band stays safe and put away. Today, in honor of Cyber Monday, they’re having 20% off their silicone rings.

8. Fossil – Rhett Three-Hand Date Brown Leather Watch

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Originally $115, this beaut is on sale today for only $46.00! This is just one of many of their gorgeous watches at a huge discount today.

9. Fossil – Flynn Pilot Chronograph Interchangeable Strap Gift Set

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You can’t go wrong when you give the guy three different wristbands – it’s basically like three different watches. Originally $225.00, this easy gift set is on sale today for only $79.00!

10. Fossil – Estate EW Messenger in Cognac

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Every guy needs a nice messenger bag for the occasional interview, or the day-to-day hustle. This $300 bag is on sale today for only $120, along with so many other of Fossil’s sturdy leather bags.

Uncategorized

Simple Turmeric Latte (Vegan!)

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted. My 3L year of law school is in full swing and I’m probably (definitely) only blogging at this moment to procrastinate…

Chicago winters are brutal. Throw in the stress and chaos of the holidays, losing sleep over finals, and an autoimmune disease (Celiac), it’s difficult to stay healthy. Whenever I feel like I haven’t been taking care of myself, I whip up one of my super simple vegan turmeric lattes!

I’m not going to rattle off all the UNREAL health benefits of this simple spice, but if you’re curious, check out this article.

Here’s my recipe:

  • A coffee mug of almond milk or soymilk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp (or a little more if you’d like!) turmeric
  • Organic Honey to taste

You can microwave a full-ish coffee mug of almond/soy milk and whisk to get the latte foam, or you can use a milk frother like I do. I have the Verismo milk frother from Starbucks, and I fill the frother to the max fill line with almond milk and add the cinnamon and turmeric to begin frothing. I then add the frothy turmeric milk to the microwaved milk and add honey to taste.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Best Day Ever

On August 5, 2017, I married my best friend. How lucky am I to be able to say that? It’s been about two months and I still get butterflies when I hear a song from our wedding or look through our pictures. It was truly a perfect day – and I’d like to share it with you!

The night before, we had our rehearsal dinner and Matt and I went our separate ways for the night. He went to his parents – I stayed home with my high school best friend and beautiful bridesmaid, Danielle. When we woke up on the day of, I still had to write my vows. Funny enough, I had had a nightmare about two months prior to this that I woke up on my wedding day and hadn’t written my vows yet. I promised myself I would have them (and everything else) done before then. BUT, I didn’t. However, I’m glad I waited, because writing them with the wedding day butterflies brought out my deepest feelings for my husband-to-be. My nerves started to hit me shortly after this.

The day started with getting ready (of course – we needed hours). I did my own hair and luckily finished early, because we immediately hit our first crisis of the day. Mom called me FREAKING out, because her hair dresser made her look like, and I quote, “An 80’s Prom Queen.” She made the hair dresser do her hair TWICE and she still hated it it. So, Mom needed bride to do her hair. I had emotionally prepared for things to go wrong, so we handled the hair, mom was happy, Danielle did my makeup, and we went to Noodles for a quick grab and go lunch.

Next was our arrival to the venue. I’ll tell you, that feeling is something else. Walking into your venue with your best girls, seeing the day starting to come together, cake arriving, bartenders getting ready… That’s when the nerves amped up a little bit. In that moment, it started to feel real. Like, WHAT? I’m getting married today!

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My wishbone pin was a family heirloom my mom let me use for my something old and blue, and my necklace was my something borrowed, also from my mom, brought from Italy. The pin belonged to my now guardian angel… Adding these touches brought me a sense of comfort that day – I knew she was watching over. And I give her all the credit for our absolutely perfect weather that day!

Once we were all in our dresses, it was time for pictures with my parents, sister/MOH, and beautiful bridesmaids!

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As soon as we were done, we had to rush back and hide in the bridal room so Matt didn’t catch a glimpse of me as they were arriving! I was SO anxious that Matt was going to come walking into the bridal room. But, then it was time for his pictures with his groomsmen and family…

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Right after this is when the nerves REALLY hit for the first time. I made the mistake of peeking out the doors and saw all our friends and family starting to arrive and instantly started panicking. Like, panic panic. My bridesmaids had to coach my breathing. I was about to really do this. I think I said this to myself 500 times that day. “THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING.”

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That half-hour was hands-down the longest of my life.

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And then, it was finally time. *Cue piano version of Thousand Years and my stomach dropping to my feet*

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My good friend from undergrad, Joel, agreed to officiate our ceremony. This meant the world to us!

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Maid of Honor and my sister, Taryn, with Best Man and brother of the groom, Mike, walking our Chase.

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Groomsmen Mike with Bridesmaid Danielle…

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Groomsmen Nick with Bridesmaid Lindsey…

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Groomsmen Jake with Bridesmaid Raquel…

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My cousin Talon, our Ring Bearer…

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Our lovely flower girl, my cousin Mazy…

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Peep my sister sobbing on the Left.

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We opted for a short, nontraditional ceremony, with Joel speaking some words of his own, followed by my sister doing a ceremony reading.

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“I will love you forever; whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again… I’ll be looking for you, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me.” – The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman

We each wrote our own vows, which we almost decided not to do in the stress of finalizing everything for the big day. Looking back, I’m so glad we did.

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“People often say that home is not a place, it’s a person. And I’ve found my home in you.”

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The big ring exchange…

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“It is my great honor and privilege to be the first to present to you Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Muntner!”

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*Cue Come to Me by Goo Goo Dolls* The songs are necessary for context, guys. Gotta get the whole effect!

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Almost party time, but first: more pictures, of course!

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And just like that, two families became one!

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Our reception was perfect. My sister and Danielle gave incredible, heartfelt speeches. Mike, the best man, had everyone near peeing themselves with his speech. The food was great, and the open bar had everyone feelin’ pretty good! I’ll keep the reception pics short, you all know how these things go!

And there you have it! The best day ever. And also, probably the longest blog post you’ll ever see from me, even though it’s mostly pictures. I’ll cherish every moment of this day for the rest of my life, but for now, I’ll keep reveling in the newlywed bliss 🙂

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

– Tiana