Be Our Guest

I’ve been a little behind on the blogging this weekend and am likely to fall behind this week…We have guests, guests and more guests. Big surprise, right? We have more people stay with us than anyone I know. I’m pretty sure my neighbors think we are running a brothel. It’s also been suggested to us that we open a hostel. Not a bad idea, actually. We also had friends staying with us all of last weekend. It’s just been so busy, that I haven’t had more time to blog about it.

My friend Sara came into town. She’s been mentioned on the blog a number of times. We met her while working in Albania, she came to stay with us in NYC and has now been to Nashville a handful of times (although her boyfriend may have a lot to do with that). We love our Sara and could not wait for her to meet Luna.

meeting tia

Our weekend was a little less adventurous than it normally is when Sara comes to town, but we had a really nice time going on walks in this finally beautiful spring weather.

saraandsteve shrooms

look at those adorable baby feet!
look at those adorable baby feet!
big tree
woah, big tree

bridge blossom

We ate tons of great food, bought lemonade from the cutest little lemonade stand ever (buy 4 get one free!), got ice cream from Jeni’s (heck yeah!) and some more walking through parks. lemonade jeni's dandelion yellowleaves

 

We love having our friends come to stay. Good thing too because we will have people with us until next week. Hope we get to catch up soon…I’ve got more reviews, giveaways, anxiety attacks and adventures coming your way!

meandluna

 

Cheers!

Weekend Update

I keep swearing to myself that I am going to get onto a schedule, get more productive blah blah blah…and then all of a sudden the weekend is here and I somehow only scratched 3 things off my to-do list. Sigh… Guess I’ll start over again tomorrow. Anyhow, we had quite a busy weekend.

I mean, really...how could I possibly get up and write when these two cuties are fast asleep on me? (Not to mention the cat sleeping behind my head.)
I mean, really…how could I possibly get up and write when these two cuties are fast asleep on me? (Not to mention the cat sleeping behind my head.)
She makes the best faces.
She makes the best faces.

We had guests over every single day and quite a few of them were meeting Luna for the first time. One of which was my Husband’s Nanny from his childhood. She is now 94 years old and still as lively as ever. Luna immediately loved her. She’s like the baby whisperer. We had lots of friends come by too. Including, a good friend of mine who I haven’t seen in FOREVER. A few years (well more than a few…) ago we were hittin’the dance floors in downtown Nashville regularly and also teaching together at a magnet school for the arts. Now, we’ve both moved on to new ventures and both have baby girls. My, how things have changed.

Me, my friend Marsha and our two baby girls!
Me, my friend Marsha and our two baby girls!

We had lunch out, went grocery shopping, cleaned the house and got constant updates on my Dad. Who, BTW, will hopefully be going home tomorrow! Yay! It’s pretty impressive that someone can have brain surgery, have titanium mesh put in their skull and be up and walking around the next day.

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Tomorrow, I am seriously getting down to business…my workout routine is starting as well as my healthy eating habits. I’ll also do my damndest to get Luna on some sort of routine. Come back and see me this week to see my “getting back in shape” plan. Also, if you’ve got any tips for getting a 6 week old on a somewhat normal schedule PLEASE send them my way!

Cheers!

The Past Week

Today is the first day, The VERY First Day, that we have our house all to ourselves in about two months. It’s glorious. I have spent much of the day doing fantastic things like washing sheets, paying bills, cleaning counters and writing thank you cards, but it still feels like a small vacation. We LOVE having guests, we really do, but ooooooh is it nice when the house is quiet. And, let’s face it…it won’t be quiet for long.

We will probably have more friends visit soon and even more once Luna arrives, but until then here are some snippets from our friends and family the last week…

We had a late family Christmas with our family who came to visit from Pittsburgh and we ate and ate and ate and ate and ate and ate…

family dinner

After driving all day then stuffing my belly/baby I need to lie down… I love this photo someone caught of my big belly with Husband in the background.

34 weeks bump

We celebrated Zoey’s birthday at Sky High – Trampoline Park!

zoey and heidi

I couldn’t jump so I made my own fun by snapping photos of everyone else.

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All the girl cousins in a group hug before we say goodbye.

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And, we just had to stop for ice cream when it was only 8 degrees outside.

ice cream

Until next time…

Cheers!

Lost Adventures

I was scrolling through iPhoto recently and came across the album from when my friends visited back in December. While looking through and reminiscing I realized I hardly blogged about any of our adventures that week.  I don’t know how I left some of them, and their corresponding stories, off the blog. It may be a month late, but here’s a glimpse of their week in the city.

Let me start with this photo of us eating Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches at the Holiday Market in Bryant Park. I got a toasted peanut butter sandwich with chili pepper jam….It was the BEST pb&j I have ever had. Yes, even better than the sandwiches at The Peanut Butter Company. The sandwiches were made by Jammin’ Nut, which apparently can only be found at the Holiday Market…not fair.

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The next pic is of an obese squirrel at Washington Square Park. One afternoon, we took our friends for a quick walk through the park where a chunky squirrel not only ran right in front of us, but basically stopped, put out his hand and then pointed to his mouth. Obviously, we dug out the only snacks we could find and offered it our new friend. Within seconds dozens of overweight squirrels were scurrying down the tree to beg for our food.

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I don’t know what is being discussed in this photo, but our expressions are hilarious.

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While walking through Chelsea Market, my friend told us how much she loves the Food Network and Mark Dacascos. Since we were in the home of the Food Network, we decided to take the elevator up to its headquarters, sneak around a bit and search for a chef or two. We made it to the doors of “Kitchen Stadium” and a few other studios, but the place was deserted for the weekend. Boo.

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Here is a photo from my fav-o-rite book store, The Strand.

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Then, there’s the shot of  us dancing on the famous FAO Schwartz giant piano. It was 11pm, the store was about to close and we were virtually the only people in the store. Perfect timing.

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Finally, is the best photo of them all! After work one day, I rushed to Time Square to meet up with everyone at Toys R’ Us. I found Husband and Friend’s Husband on the 2nd floor next to a giant stuffed animal display. We talked for a minute…I asked where my friend was (“walking around”)…I mentioned the giant pile of stuffed animals on the floor (“How did all of these animals fall off the shelf??”). Just as I was about to sit on top of the giant stuffed animal pile, my friend burst out of them screaming “surprise”!

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I am laughing in this picture, but I have never been more shocked. When she popped out, I screamed and almost lost my $h!t. I cannot believe I did not put 2 and 2 together before she came jumping out. Hilarious.

I love my friends! Who is coming to visit next??

Cheers!

The Positively Panicked Hostel

Two of our good friends from Tennessee stayed with us a couple of weeks ago. As many visitors as we have had over the last year our super might think we are running a hostel. My co-workers are starting to think I am making it up. Every weekend that someone plans a employees night out I seem to turn it down with a “Sorry, we have visitors this weekend!”. We don’t run a hostel, and I have yet to make up a visitor… we just love having friends over, and our friends apparently love sleeping on our couch.

In an effort to take our guests somewhere new (We are trying to add more restaurants to our guided tours.) we went to The Burger Joint, also known as New York City’s worst kept secret. The teeny tiny dirty burger dive is hidden inside of one of Manhattan’s finest hotels, the Parker Meridian.

As you enter the lobby of the Prime Meridian you will find a long line wrapping around a few dark walls and leading down a dark hallway to a supposedly “hidden” restaurant….if only it weren’t so popular. We waited for about twenty minutes before we were standing inside the graffiti covered, greasy smelling, and very crowded Burger Joint.

I love to find a delicious hole-in-the-wall type of restaurant, and the fact that this hole is in a 4-star hotel just makes it that much better. I could only eat the fries, just as good a McDonald’s – and I mean that as a compliment. Everyone else told me the burgers were great, so you’ll have to take their word for it.  They certainly smelled great.

After eating, we took the elevator up to the penthouse because Husband’s number one goal in NY is to make it to the roof of every tall building. Luckily the top floor did indeed have a large deck, perfect for viewing the city.

So, if any of you are interested in finding the best rooftops in the city, you know who to contact! We should really consider opening up that hostel…

Cheers!

Unique New York

I recently wrote about taking Cousin around New York and opening my eyes and my mind in order to continue to enjoy the tourists’ spots around the city. I wrote about enjoying some of the places I’d seen a dozen times, and I’d already tired of visiting. I did not, however; get a chance to describe some of the new or never-before mentioned places. This post is dedicated to those people looking for something unique to do in Manhattan.

In Chelsea Market there is a really great venue called The Filling Station. The Filling Station is a shop full of extra virgin olive oils, various specialty oils, balsamic vinegars, and exotic salts. They provide an endless supply of tiny paper cups for all the visitors to use for tasting. It’s so much fun to choose one of each filling, and create your own delicious combination. You could do chipotle olive oil, honey ginger vinegar, and Spanish rosemary salt or even Persian lime olive oil, coconut vinegar, and Hawaiian Hiwakai salt. It’s the most fun!

 

When you are tired of tasting dozens of oils and salts, just walk around the corner to People’s Pops for a Popsicle made from sustainable grown fruits and herbs.

 

Even in Time Square, which I must have visited a thousand times this year, we came across a few places we’ve never ventured.

There is a visitors’ center in Time Square that has an old New Year’s Eve ball. It’s covered in crystals, lights up, and they even have a countdown every 20 minutes that finishes in cheering crowds and Auld Lang Syne. The center is lined with Broadway memorabilia, and loads of historical information about the square. One wall is covered with pieces of confetti that have people’s wishes written on them. Apparently, anyone can write a wish on a piece of confetti, pin it on the wall, and on New Year’s Eve it will be released upon the crowd gathered in the middle of Time Square.

 

In the enormous Toys R’ Us store in the middle of Time Square is a four-story high Ferris wheel. Cousin decided she wanted to go for a ride, which was great, because this was one ride Husband and I had never ridden. It must have been our lucky day too because we got the best ride on the whole wheel.

 

Turn onto West 47th St in the Square and you’ll find Baked by Melissa. Melissa makes the teeniest cutest cupcakes I’ve ever seen. They are as wide as a quarter and about an inch thick. She makes the best flavor combinations! There’s peanut butter and jelly, chocolate mint chip, red velvet, peanut butter cup, and several more. It’s the best bite-sized baked good you’ll ever have.

 

A few blocks southeast of Time Square is New York’s Public Library on 5th Avenue. Husband and I have only been here once before and we spent all of our time in the “Lunch Hour NYC” exhibit on the first floor. (Excellent exhibit BTW) This visit, I decided to explore the rest of this crazy big library. I walked down the marble covered halls, and up the giant Sex and The City-wedding staircases to find room after room of beautiful books and long wooden tables. Studious people and tourists littered the chairs, floors, and aisles.

I sat in a chair for a few minutes to watch and reflect. There were so many people working around me, on what? I don’t know, but I know I want to go back with my laptop and write and write and write. With an iced latte in hand I just know it will be the perfect place of inspiration to focus and be productive.

I have exactly 2 more weeks of summer left to enjoy these great places before full-time hours come crashing down on me, better make the most of it!

Cheers!

The People-Watching Train

One of the best things about living in a really big city is the people. I am a people watcher, and there is no better place to people-watch than NYC, except maybe Disney World. In any case, NY is full of interesting characters, enough to inspire thousands of hit movies, TV shows, and books, which is saying something.

Spend one day walking through the city and you are likely to find a celebrity, a lesbian, a Mickey Mouse, a dog-walker, a homeless person, a private school kid, an Italian, a Priest, a Hasidic Jew, a drug-dealer, a guitar player, a psychic, a police officer, a tourist, a nanny, and soooo many more!

When Cousin was visiting us last week, we were lucky enough to catch some crazy (and some not-so-crazy, but equally entertaining) people at their best. It was a people-watcher’s paradise, and I’m taking you along for the trip.

First stop on the people-watcher train: Central Park.

We ran into a group of people playing some intense Frisbee. They were throwing the discs under their legs, catching them upside down, and bouncing them off every part of their body. We watched for a little while and found out that two of them are the Frisbee-throwing world champions! They had just come from Italy, and were stopping in New York for a couple days. I guess they’re doing a Frisbee throwing tour? Maybe you’ll see them at a park in your own neighborhood.

In Battery Park, we (minus Husband) were excited to find that a free dance production was happening! This free performance gives a chance for young dancers to perform and practice in front of hundreds of people. It’s a really great idea, and we stayed for the first two numbers.  We got good seats and sat down right as the show started. The first act was mostly 14-year-old girls. They were not great dancers, but it was interesting, and I still appreciated the idea behind the whole recital. I could have watched a while longer, but we were on a tight schedule.

While walking around Time Square (where there area ALWAYS a plethora of crazy/entertaining people) we ran into this van.

That’s me in the pink skirt and heels standing by the window…I was trying to ask if this was real or some sort of gimmick, but I ended up eavesdropping on the boys next to me who were buying 3 weed-induced lolly pops for $10. Then, I chickened out and decided not to ask for fear of being persuaded to make a purchase, and then get arrested by one of the hundred police officers around me.

We also spotted a chipmunk making a purchase in one of the sandwich shops in Time Square.

Just down the street, near Rockefeller Center, we got stuck in a ton of human traffic, which turned out to be a parade for the Dominican Republic. There always seems to be some sort of parade happening in Manhattan. None of them, with the exception of the Macy’s Day Parade, are impressive. Impressive or not, the Dominicans were VERY excited.

A few blocks North of 30 Rock is FAO Schwarz, where we saw this adorable Dad and his daughter. This girl has got her Daddy wrapped around her little finger for sure.

So sweet.

Finally, my people-watching train is coming to it’s final destination: Washing Square Park. Upon entering the park, we saw the original bird lady from Mary Poppins. I tried my best to convince Husband to give her his toppin’s (I obviously wasn’t about to go over there), but he had no interest in feeding the birds.

Even though I am a bird-aphobic, I loved this scene and could not stop singing “Feed the Birds”. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, we ran into this guy…

This man, who made sure to tell us he is NOT crazy, LOVES pigeons, and spend lots of time educating park goers, much like myself, about the history of pigeons. I stood as safe 30 feet away from him and his birds while he explained all of this to Husband, Zoey, and Cousin, for a good long 15 minutes.

His “pets”.

We almost left the park, when a crowd at the large fountain caught my eye. We ran over to find the fountain full of people swimming (literally swimming!) and splashing around in the shallow murky water. It was so hot out that before we could even consider the sanitary condition of the fountain, we’d already pulled our shoes off and hopped in with the crowd.

Still loving my Nook.

The best part was catching this sign as we exited the fountain…guess this rule isn’t actually enforced.

That brings our people-watching trip to a conclusion. Hope you all enjoyed the ride. Please watch your head and step as you exit, and if you don’t watch your head and your step, then watch your language. This is a family ride! Thank you, thank you, come again!

Cheers!

I Like NY as a Friend

Once again, we successfully guided a new visitor all over Manhattan. Husband’s cousin just left us after her first trip to the Big Apple, and I think it was a success. Before her visit even started, I was already thinking about how I’d have nothing to blog about because once again we would be repeating ourselves and doing the same ol’ tourist trap after tourist trap routine.

We have been so busy doing everything NYC has to offer this year that I think we have prematurely become jaded New Yorkers. New York is starting to look dirty, too crowded, rude, greedy, and egocentric.  I find myself dreading popular areas, avoiding people with cameras and backpacks, and even judging everyone by their shoes. I knew I’d have to act as a tourist this last week, so I had to figure out a way to get un-jaded quickly.

I decided to be extra opened minded during each day. My plan was to really look for that special story, and that blog quality adventure lurking around the corner. I kept my eyes peeled and searched for the beauty, the excitement, and the quirkiness hiding in the subways, crowded stores, and tiny restaurants. It worked too, even better than what I thought, because what I found was beautiful!

I remembered that some of New York’s most popular spots are perfect for people watching, sight seeing, and great memories. If I could ignore the crowds and try to forget the smells of the sewers and the trash, I could appreciate the views. Thanks to Husband’s camera skills, he was able to capture the beauty in most of these moments, the moment of pure New York bliss.

Take Grand Central Station for instance; the place is full of people in a hurry, tourists taking pictures, or me trying desperately to start a flash mob. (I start dancing each and every time I walk through here and NO ONE has yet to join me… except my Mom and Dad when they were visiting, but that doesn’t count.) After walking through here 50 times, it just looks dirty and the people all look annoyed.

In order to get a fresh look at this landmark, I simply walked up the steps of the new Apple Store (which I’d previously avoided), and peered over the large room to people watch for a while. I took the time to notice the stories happening around me. There was a Dad taking pictures of his two little girls, two men excited to see each other and greeting one another with a big hug. There was young couple, obviously visiting and trying to navigate around the station. There were even a couple soldiers that could have been coming or going, and hundreds of other people rushing around like busy bees. I tried to imagine each story as they walked by, and really began to appreciate the “welcome home’s” and the “farewell’s happening at the famous train station.

Another stop was the Staten Island Ferry. I have only ridden this free ferry, which gives a nice view of the Statue of Liberty, one other time. Still, I was not looking forward to my second trip. The Ferry is crammed, most people are packed like sardines on the right side to get a view of Lady Liberty, and the inside is full of the unfortunate people who have to commute back and forth from Staten Island to Manhattan each day; and they all look pissed and cranky.

Because I have already had the chance to see Miss Liberty so many times before, I did not care about fighting a crowd for a view. Instead, I bought an iced coffee, found an empty seat next to Zoey, and spent the boat ride chatting about important political facts. For example, did you know that the Republican vice president candidate, Paul Ryan, does P90X? Even the guy next to us joined the conversation to inform us that he went to high school with Paul Ryan. At this point the crowd around us had dispersed a little ,and we could take in the beautiful day. Given the right attitude, and a good seat, the ride across the river isn’t so bad.

Next, is Roosevelt Island. Roosevelt Island is a skinny little two-mile island in the middle of the East River. There is a tram that goes from the Upper East Side, across the water, and over the island. We often take our guests on the tram because it’s a really nice view, and something besides a train ride, but once the tram lands in Roosevelt Island there is little else to do.

However, we recently learned of a park at the very Northern tip of the Island. We decided to give it a shot, and took the .25-cent bus to the top of the island and began walking around the little park full of birthday and family gatherings.

Isn’t this a lovely way to see the city? It’s such a rare view of the East Side. I guess this little island does have a little to offer after all.

Right after Roosevelt Island, we trekked over to Rockefeller Center to go up to the Top of the Rock. The “top of the rock” is the observation deck at the top of Rockefeller Center, AKA 30 Rock. It is 70 stories high, (competing with the Empire State Building observation deck at 86 floors high). Surprisingly, Husband and I have never done this before. We’d already done the Empire State Building, and just never felt compelled to pay the $25 to go to another observation deck.

Now, that I’ve done both I can tell you that Top of the Rock is soooooo much better! There is tons more space, 3 different levels for viewing, comfy couches for relaxing, and it looks cleaner and better than the Empire State Building. Not to mention, you get a great view of the Empire State Building, which you obviously cannot see from their own observation deck.

Can you spot my apartment from here? I’ll give you a hint…it’s to the right of the park.

We were all surprised to see that the top of St. Patrick’s Cathedral makes a cross, how thoughtful of the architects.

Lastly, we went to the 9/11 Memorial. To visit this memorial you have to make a reservation and go through lots of security; it’s quite a hassle. Lucky for me, Zoey did not make me a reservation; she was not aware that I would be off of work by the time that they went. So, as the three of them went into the Memorial, I took my Nook and went into the fancy W Hotel across the street.

I wasn’t sure if there was anywhere for me to actually sit and wait here, but I took a chance and followed the signs by the elevator that said “Living Room Bar and Terrace- 5th Floor”. I confidently walked through this swanky bar full of oversized couches, multiple throw pillows, and floor to ceiling windows, picked up a free cucumber water and found a comfy seat. The view was gorgeous and no one seemed to care that I cuddled up in a window seat, read, and never ordered a drink. It was, in my opinion, the best way to view the 9/11 Memorial.

So, there you have it, a fresh look at the city that never sleeps. Like people, if you take the time to get to know the places you dislike, there’s a good chance you’ll find bits and pieces of that place (or person) that you love, or at least appreciate.

Cheers!

Not Ready Yet

Our wedding invitation…drawn from a photo by our very talented friend Trent.


I’m home.

No longer a bride. Just a dumb wife. Wedding is over. Honeymoon is over.  Back to the real world.

Boo.

JK…I’m not really so glum. Just sad about the fact that this very wonderful 3 week vacation is over and I have to actually put on real clothes and go to work tomorrow, and I just have a need to be a little over dramatic when trying to express myself.

Before leaving you and the concrete jungle 3 weeks ago, I made a promise to myself that I would be “technology free”, give myself a real break, and take in all of the special moments awaiting me.

If you are a Facebook Friend you know that I kept that promise for about 3 minutes. I was just so excited to share our joy and our MANY many photos, and EVERYONE around me conveniently had a laptop. It was like the universe was begging me to upload photos, write excited status updates, and “check-in” all over Costa Rica.

Please forgive the obnoxious amount of pictures I’ve been posting…if you haven’t already deleted me.

I have no self-control. But, I did not write a blog, so I should get some points for that.

The down side of not working or writing is that I am not sure how to jump back into it. I mean after a fairy tale wedding, a magical Disney vacation, an adventurous trip to Costa Rica,  and lots of panicky moments, where do I even begin?!? Also, I have only had 2 hours of sleep in the last 40 hours so it’s hard for me to even tell if I’m typing or just dreaming that I am being productive.

I guess I should start from the beginning…the preparations.

After flying to Florida at the crack of dawn with Zoey, we immediately went to her old house, (wonderful and generous roommate still lives there), to open up the bazillion packages I’d sent myself and start putting all the pieces of the wedding together.

Thanks for being my storage center Liz!

Husband (I need a better name than that…) and I have been determined to make our wedding very personal and unique. We really wanted each guest to feel like they are not only special to us, but to also be a part of our story. Each detail was carefully planned to relate to some part of our relationship.

The inside of our invitation for example…the left side has traditional Disney stars under my picture…and the right side has Nintendo stars under Peter’s picture.

(Right after getting engaged, I read an article about a girl who went to a wedding as a “plus one”, meaning she had never even met the couple getting married. She wrote about all the personal touches the couple had at their ceremony, and how by the time the reception was over she felt as if she’d known the couple for years. That is exactly how I wanted our guests to feel.)

Part of our plan was to prepare a “Welcome bag” for each guest or family. Everyone had traveled and spent a pretty penny to attend our wedding, and we wanted to show our appreciation. In each bag we put our favorite snacks (twizlers, hot fries, snickers, gushers, etc), gum, personalized water bottles, door hangers, and of course there own pair of Mouse Ears!

I hand-wrote a note to attach to each bag. We spent hours upon hours organizing bags and individualizing them for each group, but by far the most difficult part of this task was finding out where each person was staying.

Please ignore my sloppy hand writing.

I had to contact every single guest and ask them what hotel they were staying in and what day they were arriving…I am POSITIVE most people thought I was being obsessive, crazy, and way over controlling. All of which are qualities I possess…so I guess they were not too far off.

After all of this organizing Zoey drove me to each resort, and waited patiently as I went in and spoke to at least a hundred bellmen, receptionists, managers, and coordinators. Luckily, every hotel was pretty accommodating and gladly handed out the bags as our guests checked in. Whew.

Another personal touch was our theme: Traveling! Obviously we love to travel and consider it a necessary part of our lives. To express our love of exploring the world with everyone at the wedding we created luggage tag favors that doubled as escort cards. (These luggage tags were placed in little suitcases for each person to pick up before finding their seat.) Hand-writing and putting together all of these was the most tedious of our task. Mr. Panic and I completed this chore by ordering lots of Mexican food and watching a full-day marathon of Gilmore Girls.

The longest task, but not the worst, was our decision to write a personal letter to each and every guest. Again, we wanted to let everyone know how much we appreciate them, love them, blah blah blah. Although time consuming, it was nice to sit down and write to so many people I care about, decorate the envelope with vintage stamps, and tie them up with twine. We even used airmail stationary to tie into our travel theme.

Mom and Dad reading their letter

And, to complete the travel touches, our table numbers. Each table number was actually a different country that we had traveled too. AND each postcard was actually created from a photo that we have from said countries/states. (My other half made 13 of the postcards…I made 1.)

The final bits of preparations were the little gray and yellow boxes full of lemon drops that we placed at each seat. (Thanks Mom!) And THANK YOU to all my friends who stayed up in my hotel room and helped me put all the boxes together, and then celebrated by having a dance party with me.

After months of tedious chores, and a few very full busy days in Florida, we did it. We were completely ready for our Disney Wedding.

To be continued…

I have to get ready for bed…boo.

Cheers!