My First Shower

No...I haven't been taking baths for the past 21 years. I'm talking about a bridal shower! I figure I've been putting this off long enough. It's time to unveil all the wedding madness from almost a year ago! We got engaged on December 25th and sent out shower invitations January 7th, so when 50 people showed up for the shower I was blown away! January 29th, 2011 (seems like so long ago) was my first bridal shower and it could not have been more perfect. :)

**Sorry for the dark pictures. The lighting in the room wasn't very conducive to picture taking.**

This gorgeous balloon set the theme for the shower.
My best friend/maid of honor, Megan, and her mother/my second mother, Lori, threw me a beautiful shower. It was held at the golf club that Megan's dad works at and all of my (female) family, friends, and Josh's family were invited. It was so interesting to see everyone interacting. Kinda weird, but interesting.

Cute lipstick and make-up tissues were given as favors.
The delicious cake!
Me with my bridesmaid, Julie and Maid of Honor, Megan.
Megan calling Bridal Bingo.
We played Bridal Bingo where everyone had to answer questions about Josh and I. Some of the questions were:
1. Where did Josh propose?
2. What is the color of the bridesmaids dresses?
3. Where was Josh born?
4. What is the couple's favorite restaurant?
5. When is the couple's anniversary?

It was so funny to see what people thought the answers were! There was one question, Where did Meagan and Josh meet? and someone guessed HAWAII! Yep...sure...we met in Hawaii. By the way, that's where we went on our honeymoon (more on that later)!

My MIL, Cindy (center), her best friend, Nancy, and my SIL, Sarah.
Listening to Lori's devotional.
My mom (center) with two of her sisters, Dawn (L) and Connie (R).
Mommy and Lori. BFFs. :)
Mom and all of her friends from our church's small group.
Me opening presents.
I heart serving dishes.
My mom's friends thought it'd be hilarious to buy me lingerie! Needless to say, it was pretty awkward opening that in front of my mom and mother-in-law!
Then we ate delicious food, mingled for a little bit, listened to Lori's encouraging devotional, ate my FAVORITE cake (white cake with fresh strawberry filling and whipped cream frosting), and then opened presents. Let me tell you, hearing Lori's devotional and opening gifts for our new place together made me realize I just how blessed I am to have amazing family and to be married to such a wonderful man. :)


Let The Wedding Madness Begin...FINALLY!

So, I know I've been putting it off for a long time (we've been married for almost 10 months, for goodness sake!), but I've finally sorted through pictures and organized posts to show off OUR WEDDING!!!!! EEEEEEK!  I'm so excited to share our special day with you and I hope you enjoy the posts.

***Be sure to check out the "Our Wedding" tab up top to see more wedding posts!***

Right after Joshua and I got engaged, my mom and I made an appointment at David's Bridal to try on dresses. :) On January 10th, 2011, she and I spent the afternoon dress shopping.

When we got there, the staff was so sweet and helpful. My consultant's name was Megan and she was so bubbly and fun! She listened to my rambling about how I was picky, but had no idea what I wanted all at the same time and just picked out things that she thought would work for my body type. She was awesome and not pushy at all, which made the experience easy and enjoyable.

Time for pictures!

This was the very first wedding dress I tried on. It was a NO from the start. I loved the way it looked on the hanger, but the fabric was too shiny and the style was too drape-y for my body type.
This is the 2nd dress I tried on. I HATED it. I thought I'd love the fabric and the flouncy-ness, but the way it looked on me was just bad, bad, bad. This dress was OUT.
Dress 2 again. See? Way too much aimless fluff.
Now we're getting to the good stuff! I know I don't look happy, but I actually loved this dress to pieces. The small ruffles and the style of the dress were exactly what I was looking for and I loved the unique detailing on the short train. But again, the fabric was too shiny, so unfortunately, this dress was out.
The adorable short train with ruffled flower details.
This was the fourth dress I tried on. I absolutely LOVED this dress. The fabric was gentler, the detailing had the lovely vintage feel I was going for, and the fit was just right for my big tatas and wide hips.
The gorgeous train. Unfortunately, this dress didn't make the cut for one reason. The price tag. This dress was about $300 over what my mom and I had budgeted for, so unfortunately, this beautiful dress was out.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, the unveiling (pun definitely intended) of THE DRESS!

Here I am trying on THE dress for the first time. :) I was immediately in love.

The back. Please ignore the black bra. ;)

Noticeably happier in this dress than the others. :)

Practicing sitting in the dress? Very important.

My mommy and I after I said "YES!" to the dress! :)
*Sigh* While my dress shopping experience wasn't "magical" like most brides hope for, it was definitely enjoyable and I'm so glad my mom and I got to have that wonderful experience together. We both left feeling great about the dress and were so excited to be able to show it off at our wedding in just a few short months. :)

Stay tuned for more wedding posts this week!


Christmas Quiz

Hello, lovelies!
Have you seen this quick, little Christmas quiz floating around Blogland lately? I think it's the perfect thing to kick off the weekend and to get me even MORE excited for the holiday season than I already am. :)

Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? 
Hot chocolate, all the way. Make it with milk (not water), toss in a mini peppermint candy cane, and sprinkle with a little cinnamon. Mmm. :) I'm warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.

Colored lights on tree/house or white?
I've always thought that colored lights were a little cheesy, but when done right they can be beautiful. Otherwise, I love classic white lights.

Do you hang mistletoe?
We didn't this year, but I'd love to add some mistletoe to our Christmas decor in coming years. Not that we need an excuse to kiss, but it's always a little fun to kiss under the mistletoe. ;)

When do you put your decorations up? 
Like most people, we put ours up the weekend after Thanksgiving. Simple tradition.

What is your favorite holiday dish?  
It's not really for Christmas, but my favorite holiday dish is green bean casserole. Mmm.

Favorite holiday memory as a child?
I don't have a favorite memory that sticks out, but I do remember seeing Santa at the Burnsville Mall when I was about 6 and my brother was 2. I must have freaked him out about sitting on Santa's lap because the 3 pictures we attempted to take that day are of me smiling while Ian screams in terror. Muahahaha!

When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I never really learned about Santa. I've always just known he didn't exist. Kinda like I've always known I'm adopted (random fact about Meagan?).

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
YES! It wasn't always a tradition at my parents' house, but in our teenage years my parents let us open one gift each on Christmas Eve. I always loved sitting next to the tree all decorated and lit when it was dark outside. :)

How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
This year, just with ornaments, considering we have an 8" tall tree. Haha!

Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Growing up all over the Midwest (MI, IN, MN, IL) I'm no stranger to the White Devil. I love the way it looks freshly fallen, but once everyone's played in it and driven all over it...it's gross. I don't mind driving in it though --- I actually got my license in the middle of a Chicago winter!

Do you remember your favorite gift?
My favorite gift was last year's gift from Joshua. :) 

What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Again, I don't know if it only applies to holidays, but I love cookies. Chocolate chip, peanut butter, snickerdoodle. Cookies. Delish.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Decorating the weekend after Thanksgiving, watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, shopping for presents...I love all of it. But one tradition we haven't started that I can't wait to start with our future child is Elf on the Shelf. :)

Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum?
I only like peppermint candy canes in hot cocoa, but I LOVE the Starburst, Jolly Rancher, etc. candy canes too.

Favorite Christmas movie?
I love Elf, It's A Wonderful Life, A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Santa Claus, and Home Alone. :)

Saddest Christmas Song? 
"Christmas Shoes" by Newsong always makes me sad. I do my best not to listen to it.

What is your favorite Christmas song?           
"The Christmas Song" by Nat King Cole. "Chestnuts roasting on an open fiiiiire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose..."


Well, that was fun! Now on to some more Christmas cheer. :)

In 5, yes, FIVE days we'll be on our way home to good ol' Chicagoland. Wanna know our plans? No? Well, you're going to find out anyway!

On our way home we'll stop in Champaign, IL for a day of apartment hunting. Wanna know why? Because Joshua got ACCEPTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS!

BOOYA! We're officially Fighting Illini and in 7 months time we'll be finished with this enlistment and be residents of Champaign/Urbana/Savoy. It's so exciting to see this next stage of our life come together.

Anywho, next on the agenda? Head home and spend some much needed quality time with our families for two weeks. In that time we'll be enjoying a Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve, Christmas with our families, hosting a game night with our friends, spending New Year's Eve downtown Chicago,  traveling to Michigan for a New Year's Day get-together with my extended family, and shoving lots of local foods into our mouth holes to hold us off for the next 7 months.

We're so excited to be able to spend the holidays with our families and we hope you'll have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with yours. :)


Ornament Swap!

Today's the day to link-up your ornament swap via Mackey Madness!

I was so glad I got to participate in this swap and Christy sent me an adorable Santa ornament. So cute! Thanks Christy!


Shaklee Love

*Disclaimer: I was not paid or perked to share my opinion on these Shaklee products. These are just my honest opinions on creating a healthier home.*

I love Shaklee products. I just do. There are a million and one reasons why, but maybe I can come up with a few that explain my captivation by these products. 

First things first --- These are the Shaklee products I currently use and why I use them.

Basic H Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate

This stuff is pretty much the best thing ever created. It's super concentrated, so a 16 ounce bottle can make up to 48 GALLONS worth of cleaning products for your entire home!  I love that I can use one product (just add water) to clean my entire home. AND I don't have to worry about the nasty chemical smell or setting food on my counters to avoid filmy cleaners because all Shaklee products are non-toxic!

Basic H is also amazing because it can be used by itself (remove stains, clean muddy shoes, erase crayon from the wall, etc.) but it's so concentrated that you can dilute it with water in different amounts for different purposes around your home! Shaklee makes 3 spray bottles (Windows, Degreaser, All-Purpose) already labeled with it's purpose and directions for diluting so that you never have to worry about leaving behind residue or ruining your furnishings because you've used too much.


Germ Off Disinfecting Wipes

I love these wipes. Not only are they fragrance-free, but they don't leave behind sticky residue like Clorox's disinfecting wipes.

Example: A few weekends ago, my friend Cortney and I made some drinks and some Amaretto spilled on the counter. First, I wiped it up with a paper towel. Then I pulled out the Clorox wipes (thinking they'd be a little more high-power than Germ Off) and wiped down the counter. It was STILL sticky with chemicals and liqueur 5 minutes later! Needless to say, I whipped out my Germ Off wipes and they did the trick. No more sticky counters for me!

I mostly use my Germ Off wipes to clean the toilet (2 wipes will clean the entire john!) and around the ledges on the tub. For everything else I use my Basic H concoctions and a few paper towels.

Scour Off Heavy Duty Paste

I must confess, I haven't actually used my Scour Off yet! And I'm even more ashamed to say that I FORGOT I had it and when I went to clean our oven last week I bought...Easy Off. Worst. Idea. Ever. If you don't know what Easy Off is, good for you. It's the worst product ever made. You have to wear rubber gloves when you use it (first sign of danger!) and when I sprayed it I literally could not breathe without choking. Josh and I had to open every window and leave the apartment. That's how toxic this stuff is to your body. Our lungs were literally burning for a few hours afterward and I regretted ever spending $6 on it.

My friend, Moyra suggested that I use my Scour Off next time I clean the oven and I can't wait to do so. Wanna know why?

"Here’s an exclusive scouring cleanser that sets a new standard. It’s a paste, so it doesn’t form dust clouds. It cleans stuck-on messes. It even cleans burnt-on food in your oven. And it doesn’t burn off your nose hairs in the process." - Shaklee's website

'Nuf said.


Christmastime Is Here

Can you believe it's already December?!? 
It seems like just last week we were unpacking boxes in our new apartment, but alas, that was MAY. 
It's incredible how quickly time flies. 

Anywho, I'm here to talk about some amazing things going on that have me bubbling with excitement about this Christmas season!

1. Chambanachik's Christmas Giveaways!

Christmas Giveaways

My dear blog friend, Erika, is hosting a series of amazing Christmas giveaways thru December 20th. So far, the giveaways have been of a wonderful selection, from Bravo Tango Tees to InspiriBody Soaps. Each day is a surprise and I'm always excited to see what's next on the menu! Hop on over to enter (and while you're there, you might as well check out her adorable, bouncing daughter, Millie). :)

2. Mackey Madness/The Smitten Mintons Ornament Swap!

A few weeks ago I signed up for this adorable Blogger Ornament Swap hosted by Megan Mackey and her blog friend, Julie Minton. I think this was the best Christmas swap around, people! Not only are these two bloggers super sweet and hilarious, but who doesn't like getting a surprise Christmas ornament to add to the tree? :) It's too late to enter (sorry), but I was a last-minute addition and was teamed up with Christy from Life As A New Mrs. We've exchanged a few emails and I'm so excited for her to receive her ornament next week. Be on the lookout, Christy! ;)

3. And last, but not least, Lisha of One House, One Couple and the rest of my amazing readers.

I know this one isn't really Christmas related, but I felt I should share this. Lisha is a brand new blogger friend and has already been so encouraging. Earlier this week she discovered my blog and encouraged me to keep blogging (since I hadn't written a post in ages!). The reminder that people were actually still reading my little ol' blog is exactly what I needed to get my butt in gear. Since then, I've discovered her budding blog about how she and her husband bought and completely transformed a house in 2 years. So far, the tour of how the house USED to look has me itching to see the big reveal! Definitely check her out.

I also wanted to thank those of you who commented on my posts from earlier this week with encouragement and grace. Even though I only have 30 followers, the 30 of you have blessed my life and created a community that I'm so happy I get to be a part of. :) Thank you.

I can't wait to share a few more posts I've got lined up, but they'll have to wait until next week. :) 
I hope you all enjoy this lovely first weekend of December!