Sunday, April 28, 2013

Greatest Hits: My Wedding Day

Read the introduction to this series HERE as well as #1 and #2 if you wish. :)

"Always remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name." - The Avett Brothers // Murder in the City

I am soon approaching the one year anniversary of one of the best days of my life, the day I married Brandon. I'd like to say that right off the bat I feel that weddings are highly influenced by the media + popular culture and that in general they've become something not very much about a marriage, but about a party. And not much about the bride + groom but about everyone else. For those reasons, Brandon and I took a minimalist approach. Here's the story of how we went against all most influences for our big day:

We were married in front of our immediate families, grandparents, and my two best friends. That's it. It was a simple ceremony (less than 10 minutes!) with a nice dinner at a local restaurant afterwards. It was just what we wanted and all that we needed.

Do I knock brides who decide to have big weddings? Absolutely not. I love weddings. I have a wedding board on Pinterest just like everyone else...  full of gorgeous dresses, pretty bouquets, stationery, and reception ideas. Though I am completely happy with the wedding that I had, I certainly wouldn't mind renewing my vows again someday with a large crowd and a fun reception. It just wasn't right for May 9, 2012.

Growing up attending various weddings, seeing them in movies, in magazines, and on television, I knew there were a few things that I had to do for our wedding:

  • Be careful with the guest list
  • Have bridesmaids + groomsmen
  • Dance
  • Wear something old, new, borrowed, blue
  • Wear a fancy white dress

Just trying to establish a guest list catapulted me to a freakout only comparable to Steve Martin in Father of the Bride. Remember the hot dog bun scene? We swiftly nixed the idea of a normal sized wedding, thus alienating many of our friends + family. I would like to publicly thank those who were gracious towards me about our decision to keep it small. For those who didn't understand, who didn't bother to talk to me about it, or who spoke out against our decision, I am sorry. I don't regret our decision, I only regret that it brought some pain.

With an entire wedding for only 20 people, we obviously didn't need to worry about a wedding party. Or worry about dancing. I like to think that I did my dad a favor by avoiding the overly-sappy father/daughter dance.  ;) We also avoided another dance, a first dance for the newlyweds. I was a little sad to go against pop culture and not have a dance, because it meant that we didn't have a song. My friends have had some great first dance songs and I sadly don't have one to add to that list. The lyrics you see at the top of the post were used in our wedding stationary, so I like to think of that song and this one as our wedding songs.

My wedding dress came from Macy's, where I purchased it about two weeks before the wedding. It didn't cost much more than my wedding shoes. I didn't exactly say YES to the dress. I bought it on a shopping trip alone and took it home to show mom. I actually almost wore a grey sundress, but decided I needed to stick to white to be a little bit traditional. The point is: my dress was not fancy. Side note, I even ripped it on our wedding day! Read the story here.

The one bit of pop cultural (some would call it tradition) that I did cling to was something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. I made sure that I had these 4 items for my day so it would bring me good luck in my marriage.

By most accounts, my wedding was small, simple, and unimportant. It didn't involve friends and family that we care deeply about. It didn't have a ring bearer, a dj, a huge wedding cake, a sparkler send off, or a guest book. It's not what you would call a pop culture success. But it meant a lot to me and to Brandon and in the end, isn't that what really matters?

I've been a bit long winded here and could write even more on this subject, but I'd like to hear from you. Did you go against the norm for your wedding? Anything you would change about your big day? Which wedding magazines did you read beforehand? Watch any wedding movies? Leave a comment below and let's talk!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Greatest Hits: Appalachian Graduation

Before continuing, you may want to read the introduction to my Greatest Hits series HERE and  #1 HERE. An important note: this series is not in order of importance.

"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other." - Abraham Lincoln

After five years in college, I graduated on Saturday, May 7, 2011. I imagine that a lot of young professionals would include the day they received their degree on a list of greatest hits. Finishing college is certainly an accomplishment by any standard, but it was more important to me.

I had a rough time in college, which was something that I didn't expect. I assumed I'd make lots of friends, get involved on campus, love my major, and graduate in 4 years on my way to a shiny new job. That's what they do in the movies, right? I had plenty of friends and had fun outside of class, but not in the way that the media portrays college. I didn't stay out late. I didn't go to parties. I've never been drunk to this day. I wasn't having a rough time because I was showing up hungover to class, which is what many would assume. Nope.

I was having a rough time because I was lost. I started as an English major, something that I was truly passionate about in high school. But it didn't quite fit. I dropped classes, quit going to classes, took pointless classes, etc. I wasted my time and I was a bad student. A lot of my college friends didn't even know this (surprise, guys!).

I came to a point where I had to make some important decisions about my education. I found the faculty and staff, as a whole, very difficult to work with. I felt unsupported. I literally took pen to paper and mapped out everything I needed to do to graduate on May 7, 2011. And then I made it happen. Myself. I applied to a new degree program, was accepted, and completed all of my major requirements in 3 semesters. Along the way, I decided to pursue graduate education. I applied to 4 schools and was accepted to 4 schools. I'm thankful to say that I'll soon be celebrating another graduation day.

My experience in college was abnormal compared to most (or at least that is my assumption). I went in assuming that things would be peachy and when they weren't, I didn't know what to do. It took me a little longer to reach graduation, but it's a day that I will never, ever forget. After a long journey I finally felt proud and successful.

Did you have a rough time in college? What did television/movies teach you about college life? Comment below!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Greatest Hits: The Day I Met Cheryl

Before continuing, you may want to read the introduction to my Greatest Hits series HERE.

"I woke up this morning with a feeling inside me that I can't explain, like a weight that I've carried, been carried away... And it feels like today, I know. It feels like today, I'm sure. It's the one thing that's missing, the one thing I'm wishing, the last sacred blessing and hey, it feels like today." - Rascal Flatts // Feels Like Today

On January 23, 2006 I met my mother. Is that surprising to you? I am adopted. Adoption is something I feel completely comfortable discussing but haven't addressed on Flamingos in Raincoats until now. The day I met Cheryl was one of the best days of my life- one of my greatest hits. So much anticipation, so many tears, so many answers to questions I'd been harboring for years. I had almost met Cheryl once before (that's a long story for another day), but this meeting was no mistake. I remember arriving at the adoption agency with my parents and worrying about accidentally running into Cheryl in the parking lot. Our meeting was mediated by the adoption counselor who had worked with Cheryl and my parents nearly 18 years before.

When I think about this moment and the many moments leading up to it, I have to remind myself that my adoption story is now atypical. The media tells me that most adoptions are now open, meaning that the child has constant interactions with the birthmother and/or birthfather throughout their entire lives. I had to wait until I was nearly a legal adult to share identifying information with Cheryl (last name, address, phone number, etc.). Before meeting Cheryl, I certainly didn't have the experiences that most of society envisions adopted children having:

  • Did you live in an orphanage?
  • Do you hate your birthparents?
  • Do you hate your adoptive parents?
  • What country are you from?
  • Was your face on a milk carton?
  • How do you feel knowing that your mom didn't want you?

Where are people getting these questions? I believe that each adopted child's experience is completely different, contrary to popular belief. We didn't all come from Asia. We don't hate everyone! Many of us grew up understanding our adoption story and embracing it. At least I'm happy to say that I did.

Pop culture tells us that a moment like this is extremely important for an adopted child and on that note, they are correct. Though I had communicated with Cheryl through letters since I learned to write, seeing her in front of me was overwhelming in all of the best ways. Though the media leads us to believe that many adoptions are tragic, created out of depressing or harmful situations, my story is simple: Cheryl loves me and my adoptive parents (or as I like to call them, "parents") love me and I love all of them. Nothing has to be sad. The day I met Cheryl, in fact, was one of the happiest and most positive days of my life. And that's why it earned a place on my greatest hits list.

Do you think we look alike? What are your assumptions about adoption? Do you have questions about my adoption experience? Comment below!

**A note on the song: On the day that I met Cheryl I posted lyrics from Rascal Flatts' Feels Like Today on my LiveJournal, my blog of choice at the time. I felt it appropriate to share them again here.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Let's Go Thrift Shopping

Maybe it's just me, but I can't get this song out of my head. It's been out for a while now, so maybe I'm a little behind the times. At any rate, I was listening to it in my car this morning and was reminded that I have a story to share with you. It's actually the opposite of thrift shopping:

Yesterday when I got home from work I spent my entire evening sorting through my wardrobe. Brandon and I live in a very small apartment with a very small closet. I can't fit my winter wardrobe and my summer wardrobe in there at the same time, so I switch them out each season and store the clothes i'm not currently wearing at my parents' house. Even at that, I take up more than 90% of our closet space. Does anyone else have this problem? It's a good thing Brandon doesn't have a whole lot of clothes! On top of the closet space, we each have our own dressers. Let's just be honest here: I'm a bit of a shopaholic.

When I switch out my seasonal wardrobes I always decide carefully what to put away and what to get rid of. If I haven't worn it more than one or twice or if it doesn't fit, it's time to say goodbye. I went through my winter clothes and found a lot of things that I could part with. With a semi-clear closet, I moved on to unpacking my summer clothes.

As I sorted through skirts, dresses, shorts and blouses I found a lot of things that didn't need to stick around. I had 8 or so pairs of shorts that I literally hadn't worn in 2 summers. I found lots of dresses that are too short to wear to work and so on and so forth. I initially threw these in the 'Goodwill' pile but soon realized I was getting rid of some good stuff: J.Crew, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Gap, etc. Maybe I should take them to Plato's Closet? I gathered an entire tote-full of clothes and drove over to the store.

If you've been to Plato's Closet or a similar place where you can sell your clothes, you know that it's often hit or miss on whether or not they want your items. You also have to stay in the store while they go through your clothes, meaning that you're tempted to spend more money than you get back. If they're busy, sometimes you're stuck in the store for over an hour. I handed my tote over and browsed the racks. I tried on a few things, but put them back. If my goal is to clear out my closet, I certainly don't need to bring more clothes home.

When they wrote my name on the board (I only had to wait 20 minutes or so!) I went over to the register where they paid me $91 in cash for the items they were purchasing. BOOM. They handed back my tote of the items they didn't want and I left, happy to add some extra money to our cruise fund. All of the rest of my castaways are going to Goodwill today where someone else can find them while they're thrift shopping.

What do you do with unwanted clothes + accessories? Do you shop at Goodwill or Plato's Closet?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sometimes They Come Back

Something has been on my heart and mind lately that I feel compelled to write about, so bear with me:

In late 2011/early 2012 I lost two of my good friends. They didn't pass away (so thankful for that!), but they both chose to remove themselves from my life for two separate, very different reasons. To say I didn't handle it well would be a gross understatement, just ask my husband. I dwelled on what happened and what I may have done wrong for months. I would put it aside for a while and then come back to one of the situations and get depressed all over again.

I spent far too much time wondering if they were thinking about me as much as I thought about them. I shed many tears. I talked to other friends who assured me that I hadn't done anything wrong, that said I should just let it go. But no matter what I did, I couldn't get over it.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to see one of these friends for the first time in a year and a half. We met up for pizza at the Mellow Mushroom in town and I left so happy and thankful for a renewed friendship. Sometimes they come back. My advice to anyone reading is to be thankful for friends that come and respect those who go. And don't let dwelling on the past dictate your future.

I wanted to take a photo at lunch the other day, but it was pouring rain and freezing cold, so an old photo will have to do. Here's me + Hannah (yes, her name is Hannah, too!) at Universal Studios 8 years ago:

Hannah, if you're reading, thanks for the pizza date. And for being my friend.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

If You're Dying to Snoop Inside my Purse

When I read that two of my favorite blogs Lipgloss and Crayons and Pink on the Cheek were hosting a link-up this week, I knew I wanted to be involved! The topic at hand? What's in your purse.

I've gotta say, after spreading out the contents of my purse on my bed tonight I have found that I'm a pretty boring person. Oh well, I'm going to share anyway:

1. First of all, my purse is a mint green Merona crossbody I purchased at Target at the beginning of the year. I've been a fan of this style purse for about a year now. So easy to carry!

2. To be honest, my iPhone 4s rarely goes in my purse. It's usually in my hand or in my back pocket!

3. Not entirely sure why I carry my checkbook with me. I don't write any many checks.

4. My friend told me I was crazy when I paid over $50 for a leather Fossil wallet, but that was 4 years ago and I still love it just as much now as I did then. Great investment!

5. I find it hard carrying sunglasses back and forth from my car, so I keep a pair in my purse at all times! This particular pair came from Maurices.

6. I have a terrible habit of crumpling up receipts and throwing them in my purse. These two are from Qdoba and Petsmart.

7. Hand sanitizer is always a good idea, especially if it's pink and smells good (Pink Chiffon from Bath & Body Works).

8. My favorite lip balm is from Motives Cosmetics, a collection my company sells. They did not ask me to write about it... I'm genuinely obsessed! Find it here.

9. A sharpie is a necessity, right? I can't believe I have a permanent marker and not a pen!

10. I recently purchased my first DSLR camera, but still keep my Nikon point & shoot on me at all times. :)

If there was one thing I could add to my purse it would be a hair tie. Actually, make that 5 hair ties. I never can find a hair tie when I need it.

Okay, I'm done talking about my purse for the day. Riveting, wasn't it?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

RECIPE: Vegetarian Enchiladas

I saw this recipe recently on one of my favorite blogs, Carolina Charm. It was only a matter of days before I made it myself and I'm so glad I did! There's not much more to say, so I'm going to get right to the point!

15 oz package yellow rice
1 pkg baby portabella mushrooms
2 zucchinis
1 white onion
1 green bell pepper
2 medium tomatoes
green onions
2 15 oz cans black beans, drained
12 oz can red enchilada sauce
2 c mexican cheddar cheese
1 pkg flour tortillas (10ish count)

Dice mushrooms, zucchinis, onion, and green pepper. Sauté over medium heat for 25 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, prepare rice as directed and chop tomatoes.

Pour rice into a large glass casserole dish. Once veggies are tender, add in black beans and tomatoes. Fill tortillas (I used 8) with veggie mixture, roll tightly, and lay in dish over rice seam side down. Pour entire can of enchilada sauce over tortillas and top with shredded cheese.

Cover dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until cheese begins to brown. Top with chopped green onions before serving. I also served sour cream with mine. :)

Monday, April 1, 2013

My April Playlist

I used to write about music. Regularly. Of course nothing has been regular on this blog for a while. Thanks, work. Thanks, grad school.

Anyway, I burned a new playlist for April and was listening to it over the weekend when I started laughing out loud, all alone in my car. Read on and see if you agree with me: My musical taste is all over the place!

1. Girl on Fire Alicia Keys
2. Whiskey Jana Kramer
3. Skyfall Adele
4. 99 Problems Jay-Z
5. I Knew You Were Trouble Taylor Swift
6. Closer Tegan and Sara
7. Daylight Maroon 5
8. Looking for Paradise Alejandro Sanz + Alicia Keys
9. Wide Awake Katy Perry
10. Love Comes Tumbling Down Matt Nathanson
11. Teenage Dream Glee Cast
12. My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light em Up) Fall Out Boy
13. Whistle Glee Cast
14. Thrift Shop Macklemore + Ryan Lewis + Wanz
15. Tongue Tied Grouplove
16. Just Give Me a Reason P!nk + Nate Ruess
17. Homeward Bound/Home Glee Cast
18. Sweetest Thing U2
19. Catch my Breath Kelly Clarkson
20. Inside These Lines Trent Dabbs

From Tegan and Sara to Jay-Z, Kelly Clarkson and the cast of Glee... I really do love it all. What a nut. That's all for today, folks! How was your Easter weekend?