Sunday, June 28, 2015

My (retro) bridal shower!!!


Where to begin...

I have a lot of photos to share; I vow to (mostly) let them speak for themselves.

Then again, I do treat this as an online journal of sorts... 

Get ready for a long one ;-)


Let me start by saying: this was one of my favourite days of my whole life.


My beautiful bridesmaids (Sam, Laura, Sandra and Cara) planned the most wonderful afternoon I could ever imagine.

All of my girls know just what I love: vintage clothes, retro hair, cocktails (bonus if they come in a vintage glass!), great food, personal details and COLOR.


My bridal shower just happened to encompass all of these things.

Enjoy!

Thirty of my closest friends and family gathered together yesterday afternoon to celebrate my bridal shower.

This was our table. Isn't it lovely? It felt so whimsical and sweet with the wind.

Centrepieces included pink and yellow roses, retro candy, and coloured markers for the upcoming games. 
Our table also included prizes! My girls added sweet little quotes to the wrapping paper of each gift to make them more special.

This green wrapping paper was my favourite. I wish I could have taken it home... Not the prize... Just the paper...

#addictedtostationery
Then again... You all know that yellow has my heart. 
Now let's talk about our meal... which was out of this world!

My mom completely outdid herself. Lasagna, risotto, seafood. My dad barbecued all morning. My future mother-in-law brought side dishes, like potato salad. 

We also had four types of desert...

There was no shortage of food. And it was all fantastic! 

Thank you mama for working so hard yesterday. 

Are these not the cutest cupcakes you have ever seen?!

They look like milkshakes. I'm dead.

Bring me back to the 50s. Preferably to a 50s diner.
And these straws!

I am going to dream about this retro theme (complimented by so much fruit) forever!
My daddy served cocktails and wine. He refused to have his picture taken ("I'm too busy!"), so this was the result... Hehe.

After the party was over, he brought my girls on a tour of the barn. He is so proud of it.

I love my dad so much.
Now let's talk games!

Food, drinks and details aside, our afternoon was so much fun.

Each of my bridesmaids hosted one or more games, and they were absolutely hilarious. 

A *little* embarrassing for Graham... Good thing he wasn't there ;-).

Here are some pictures:

Laura's game: everyone had to guess who said what (bride vs. groom).

Sam had a perfect score. My aunt failed miserably. This one was absolutely hilarious
For one of Sam's games, everyone tried to memorize the (crazy) contents of my apron. My cousin won; she had remembered 23 items!!!

Bonus: once everything was removed, I fell in love with my apron! It's yellow and adorable.

Sam had it made for me. The heart-shaped pocket says "Mrs. Nesbitt"

I'm serious.

Guess I'm changing my last name to match my apron...

I'm kidding...
Chatting with my daddy and cousin. They served us all day, and made us laugh all the while.

(I mostly posted this picture because Laura looks so, so cute!)
Happy lady.
Another one of Sam's games: everyone had to guess how old I was in each photo.

Funny enough, I couldn't remember my age in a single one...


Now, before we wrap up, let's talk about my favourite part. 

The people. 

My amazing mama, my hilarious aunt, my incredibly generous, outgoing cousins. My sweet, future mother-in-law:


And finally, these amazing ladies:

Laura, the sweetest (also cutest) human being I have ever known. You inspire me daily to be better than I am.
My bestie and her mama, Linda. They are among the strongest I have ever met. I love you both so much!

Tina, the most sentimental, sweet and generous person. So many special memories with you. So many more to come.
Mel, one of the most stunning, talented and creative ladies I know.
Em, the most fun, intelligent, independent woman. I love you to pieces!
Sandra, an incredibly special mama and friend. You teach me every single day.

(My face looks this way because I had two giant wads of bubble gum in my mouth: a result of answering questions about Graham wrong. Oops...)
And Sandra's sweet daughter, Isla. Our adorable flower girl. I love her so much.
Jessica and her girlies. Another one of the strongest women I know. A huge inspiration to me. 
Ok. 

I inadvertently described my friends in one-liners above (and this doesn't include my amazing family!)... I'm a tad emotional. But that wasn't fair.

There is so much more I could write about you ladies. It would never be enough.

I feel blessed beyond words to have so many kind, generous, intelligent, fun and impossibly hilarious ladies in my life. You make my life so happy and full. I am so grateful.


Here's to you lovelies.
Despite its excessive length, I can't wrap up this post without a special, final mention:

My best friend and maid of honour, Sam.

She dreamt up a theme near and dear to my heart. She spent hour upon hour shopping on Etsy, chatting with my mom, and making crafts. She arranged each detail, supported by my lovely bridesmaids.

She did all of this while battling breast cancer: going through chemo, a major surgery and radiation.

She was very sick up until about a week ago, when she began suddenly feeling better. She was able to not only partake in, but plan and execute the most beautiful bridal shower I could ever imagine.

I can't express the joy I felt as I watched her sip a cocktail, chat with everyone, and be the most outgoing girl at the party.

I would never discount her strength and spirit - because they are beyond anything I have ever seen - but I can only imagine this was God working.

Thank you Sammy, from the bottom of my heart. You are so much more special to me than this blog post could ever do justice.

The only thing more happy and fun than vintage clothes, beehives, and great food is having you safe and healthy by my side.


I love you all, my lovely girls. A special thank you to my friends and family who made it out yesterday. We missed you so much Diana and Cara.

xoxo,
Kristina 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Turn the page (and chill out)

After signing up for a library card, goal-setting, and choosing books on goodreads, I decided to take a month off of reading.

Makes sense... 

I had a new routine. I was adapting very well. I would read during my entire commute to work. This was my new norm and it would always set a wonderful tone for my day. Finally: a plus side to taking the bus! 

 This is not to say that my favourite mornings are anything but when Graham drives me to work: I arrive at the office, my make-up ruined from laughing and crying (which are synonymous... right). 

All that to say, I was happy to have rekindled my passion for novels. My writing had suffered as a result of not having read the past few years.

Everything about my renewed hobby made me feel inspired!

My best friends, close colleagues, and favourite bloggers are all readers, and they do so without exception. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to learn about new authors, discuss vibrant characters, and debate plot lines and twists, all while enjoying the company of others.

Some background:

Despite the upcoming wedding, I was able to stay grounded (and reasonably sane) for most of the winter. I didn't have much time to think about it. My best friend was fighting cancer and inspiring the world in the process. She had chemo and a major surgery to get through. Graham and I wished for nothing more than her health and happiness (and to go on a variety of strange dates, the three of us, in the process). We love you Sammy. 

Come Spring, things were looking up. My warrior of a best friend was strong as ever. All wedding vendors were secure.

So why did I stop reading in April? What was I thinking?

Oh I was thinking. Just too much, and about the wrong thing. 

I have spent the past month completely besotted with our upcoming wedding (and all of the details that surround it). Come end of April, I found myself drunk. With decisions required, outstanding contracts, and a spiralling Visa bill...

I began to spend each and every bus ride home drafting unnecessary e-mails, re-visiting - or at times, irresponsibly ignoring (no happy medium here) - our online banking, browsing mindlessly through wedding boards on Pinterest...

I found myself so completely overpowered (by myself) that even the smallest of decisions felt overwhelming to me. This is inevitable when you have over-thought, over-researched and worried your way through an entire month. 

This past weekend, while struggling to approach a wedding-related decision, a close friend said to me:
It's strange that you're struggling! Because you normally want your way. 
This hurt my feelings. A lot. So much so that I didn't say a word.

The truth is, it took a consolidated effort - one that extended several years - for me to become more laid back. A planner. A go-getter. That's me! Not achieving success was something I struggled with a great deal while growing up. Things not going as planned meant that I had failed. I was imperfect.

Bla bla bla. You've heard my story.

It took a long time for me to chill out. Go with the flow. Roll with the punches as they say.

I hate to admit it, but I had to practice.

So when someone close to me described me as wanting my way, and invariably so (okay, I added the invariable part), I kind of lost my sh*t (internally).

I have worked hard to not only accept, but to love, living a B+ life.

And to let one day in our future, one that is fiercely and unduly over-planned, take away from my ability to be flexible and cool:
Simmer down self.
(That's right. I said "simmer down"...)

I am so lucky. I am so blessed in my life. I have an intensely romantic, good-humoured fiancé. I have an incredible family. My friends (particularly my girls!) are saints for putting up with my scatterbrained, overly apologetic April self. And the funniest part of all:
I don't actually care what this wedding looks like.
It's true! I really, really don't. Everyone who knows me knows firsthand how crazy I am about Graham. And how sacred I believe our wedding will be, regardless of the details that surround it. The only reason I have become obsessive - even dizzy! - is because:
There happens to be something to be dizzy about.
That's my life as a perfectionist. Give me details, options, an array of decisions to be made, and a long waiting period (hello...? Wedding!). And you can watch my eyes start to glaze over. I might as well be staring into empty oblivion. Because I can no longer function.

When I plan a dinner party, I become similarly overwhelmed. My perfectionism takes over: Try ten new recipes! Make your own cocktails syrups! Stock your bar cart. What about desert? Decorate the house accordingly (because that's necessary...).

Am I looking to impress my guests? Of course not. They love me. They're simple. They would be happy if I ordered pizza (they may even prefer it). But as a result of my personality, if there is planning to be done and a creative outlet to be explored, I do it all on imaginary steroids. I take things too far. I always have.

I guess that's the crazy part about all of this... Ultimately, I don't care what people think of the end result. It's living with myself during the planning process that I struggle with. There, in the middle of research and decision-making, I find discomfort.

This happened to me regularly during University. The longer I had to write a paper, the more I would struggle. I would get lost in the research.

I do much better on tight deadlines. Seriously.

Thankfully, when it comes to a dinner party or a research paper, I'm normally only preparing for a few days in advance (you know... living on the fly...). Inevitably, the day will arrive. This comforts me. My conscious mind can process this. I am able to reason with my inner-perfectionist:
Try two recipes instead of ten. You don't have that much time.  
But this wedding has always felt so far away.

More power to you if you planned your wedding two years in advance. I could never do this. Maybe I would chill out during the second year. But I doubt it.
I would almost certainly convince Graham to elope in the woods after 9 months. 
This process has been especially difficult because I didn't expect the stress. I love details. For our engagement session, everything came together so naturally. The couple nights before, we chose a few vintage trinkets in our home, pulled a record from our collection, thrifted some lace, etc. It was fun and easy. I guess I expected our wedding planning process to feel the same: natural. But there has been so much time. And as we've learned, for me, sometimes time = opportunity to get lost in the details.

In a nutshell, I have slowly come to the following realization: I quit reading to allow my inner-perfectionist to foster. It didn't feel intentional at the time, but it probably was.

As I was in the middle of reading a boring book, I thought to myself: this is time that could be better spent brainstorming. Alas, I spent two months fatiguing myself. Only to land back exactly where I was:
A happy place, where my perfectionism has laryngitis.
I share this because I hope my closest friends will learn from my foolishness. Particularly the perfectionists that are both indecisive and detailed. Like myself, you may find yourself on the verge of flying off the handle when faced with yet another decision.

But calm down. It doesn't matter. You don't even care! There is no perfect way to do this. Take a break. Enjoy the process.

Today, on my bus ride home, I pulled out a novel. I felt the greatest sense of calm. Now, I plan on spending my entire evening curled up reading The Girl on The Train.

I also declare myself free of wedding planning related madness!

I'll show up on the day of. See you then.

Bridesmaids, you're on your own!

Jk. Sort of.

To learning to enjoy (survive... I'm kidding!) the process.

xoxo,
Kristina

Friday, April 17, 2015

This is my (boring) scrapbook.


For the past two months, I haven't felt inspired to write.

Difficult to admit, but I guess I haven't had much to say.

Things have been busy. Between working a full-time job (plus overtime), Graham's schedule (long hours at work, excessive amounts of playing hockey - no offence babe), planning a wedding, trying to organize and maintain our home, training Eggnog, spending time with close friends...

There hasn't been a whole lot of extra time to focus in on what I normally do to stay inspired:

Open all of the windows in our home; light a candle and listen to music
Look through old photos
Play with my Polaroid
Dream up a vacation
Practice yoga
Scroll through my Pinterest boards (what can I say? It works for me)
Read the archives of my favourite blogs
Watch wedding videos (this is embarrassing; Graham is laughing as he reads this. It is a regular occurrence for him to return home from work and find me (happy) sobbing in bed, watching complete strangers share their vows...)

It must sound a little silly, because these aren't necessarily things you should need to "make time for." But when you have spent the majority of your bus ride home (after a long, busy day) sending e-mails to wedding vendors, only to walk in the door and find a very excited puppy (major highlight, don't get me wrong!) who wants nothing more than to play for hours... The idea of anything other than Netflix once you're settled is kind of... unfathomable.

Okay, more than just Netflix:

Netflix and food. Netflix and food and washing my face. But that's all for real.

Given that I haven't been able to muster up the creative energy to write (and still can't), I certainly have not been investing any time or effort into my scrapbook.

I should however mention that I recently (and thoughtlessly) signed myself up for a new type of craft. Hand-writing envelopes:
"No, I do not want our address + the addresses of our guests typed on each RSVP + invitation envelope. It will be much more personal if I write them myself."
I wish I could punch this Kristina flat in the face. But I can't. Because my hands are too blistered from addressing so many envelopes.

All this to say: I know it has only been two months, but I haven't been writing (blogging or journaling). And I haven't been scrapbooking either. I'm concerned.

I really don't want to rely on Instagram for memory keeping.

When I look back, I would like to remember these past couple months for: wedding planning, praying for and spending time with our best friends (one of whom is in recovery!!!), making great strides at work, completing marriage courses, etc. But I would also like to remember: despite how busy we were, we were having the time of our lives!

Sure, I haven't been as creative as I normally am (and I wish I had more time to get into the swing of this whole... "owning a house" thing) but I'm happy. And I have been trying my best.

Alas, I present to you - you being me... later... when I revisit this - my scrapbook for the past two months (minus the creative writing, washi tape, and pretty paper):
Sam's last chemo (1/2)! A very special day. She looked so beautiful and strong as she rang that bell. Pictures are on her blog :)
Sam's last chemo (2/2)! I take everything too far... But I definitely received a lot of laughs.

One hilarious moment: Cara and I walked to Tim Hortons to pick a bagel up for Sam. The man working behind the counter asked: "Is that you on your shirt? Is that what you actually look like under that beard?!"

"No sir. I did not wear a shirt of myself today." Lol. 
El Camino with childhood besties: Laura, Vicki and Tina! 
Merrickville for Sunday dinner with Graham, Sam and Mr. Nogs. We laughed ALL day and managed to make some wedding related decisions. My brother, of all people, made the most romantic recommendation to us. We are SO taking it.

Corrado also insisted on taking 100 pictures with Sam. Only Sam (see below). 

Thanks dad. 

Date night (1/2): Getting dolled up for my babe!
Date night (2/2): One of the best date nights we've ever had. And it was so simple! I can't describe it.

It was our second time at the King Eddy, followed by late night drinks at Trio*... It was just really good...

*I drank all of the whiskey, as usual.
Funny story (1/2): These are my new glasses! What do you think? I ordered them online from BonLook and am *obsessed*... Partially because I waited for them for SO long (they were on backorder).

My fave bloggers (Elsie & Emma) made them in collaboration with BL.

Graham loves them too! Which makes me pretty happy :)
Funny story (2/2): These are the glasses that arrived in the mail... (not exactly what I had expected to find on my doorstep).

But I admit it... I kind of liked them! They are Keiko Lynn for BonLook. When I e-mailed BL to say: "Uh... these are not my glasses!" I received the most incredible service. They let me keep them since they were my prescription anyways! My actual glasses were on their way :)

Next on my list: SkunkBoy - Larissa Lake! So cute! Sparkly blue is perfect. They remind me of... (see picture and creepy caption below)

Ps. Graham is "working on" loving these big white cat eyes... 
Painting Easter eggs before Good Friday mass. I named the one sitting front and centre "Little Blue". She was my favourite. Can you tell my favourite colours are yellow and blue?

But instead of blowing them out, these eggs were hard boiled. So... after a day or two, they needed to be thrown out. I was kind of devastated...

I think Graham is vaguely concerned that I want to name our future daughter "Little Blue"... 
Easter Sunday mass was so special to us. When the priest read the verse: "But I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy," I felt blessed and so close to God.
Lazy Friday night in with beautiful Laura: This lovely lady always inspires me to put God first. We listened to Christian music for hours... and laughed at Eggnog (who I have never seen love anyone - other than Graham - the way he loves Laura).
I think that's all for now!

Let's dedicate the rest of April to getting inspired (or Netflix... still up in the air).

xoxo,
Kristina

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February is for freezing...

I am guilty of having said, on multiple occasions this winter:
When will this be over?
Followed shortly by:
Why do we live here?
 To which Graham responds a variation of:
The healthcare: I'm a kidney transplant patient. Our families. Our friends. Kris, you work for the Federal Government... No we cannot move to California tomorrow. 
I know. I know.

Cue guilt as I zip up my parka.

But we are all (at least those of us in Ottawa) guilty of having laughed at this image while dreaming of snow that is actually not snow, but in fact sand...
All of that said, we are incredibly fortunate to live the life we do; and we are incredibly fortunate to live it here.

I thought I would share a few highlights from February.
Valentine's cake for our wedding party :)
The night before Valentine's Day, we decided to plan a little get-together for our wedding party. I thought it would feel special to spend some quality time together before I transform, Animorphs-style, into a fire-breathing dragon (bridezilla)...

Kidding aside, I am much more easygoing than I imagined I would be. It just so happens that I am harder on myself about an unmade bed than I am about an unknown centrepiece. Thank goodness.

My patient bridesmaids have also made this process feel easy. They have been honest with me about colours they like, if they feel my timelines are slipping, etc., which has softened the decision-making process.

One is more candid than the others ;)...
"You cannot wear Swedish Hasbeens to your wedding. Maybe to your bridal shower. Not to your wedding."
The truth is, because we are getting married on my parent's property, I woke up one morning and was suddenly faced with 1001 decisions. Not my strong point. At first, it felt daunting to choose between one hundred types of everything imaginable.

Just when you think you've found your "dream chair", you are faced with a decision on colour. Gold vs. white vs. cognac.

It feels a little... stupid.

As a result, throughout this entire process, I have quietly reassured myself:
None of these decisions matter.
Saying yes (like there was ever any doubt) to my then-boyfriend, on bended knee, was a decision that mattered. Saying "I do" will be a decision that matters.

The rest... The rest is just fluff. And while I am a self-proclaimed perfectionist - particular to a fault! - I will not allow small details to drive me bananas.

All of that to say: we have been having a lot of fun planning. It has been both challenging and rewarding. And we wanted to thank our wedding party for supporting us.

So we brought them to laser tag...

As we entered the maze-like arena, I immediately began jogging around the black-lit space (they only said "no running" after all - yes, I am that child all grown up).

Later in the game, while running full-speed up a ramp, I came to understand the prohibition: I crashed into a wall, bashing my head and falling backwards.

But because I have lived my entire life both competitively and clumsily, I forgot the incident as soon as it happened. After all, I needed to find (hunt) Graham and try and tag him as many times as humanly possible before the end of the game.

After laser tag, we returned to our house for pizza, snacks and cake. I made a heart-shaped dessert (pictured above) and glued pictures of our wedding party to toothpicks, scattering them about.

I absent-mindedly poured an entire bottle of wine into Laura's glass... I think my collision was beginning to rear its ugly head... 

My head was pounding for most of the night, but I blamed "not having had a glass of wine in a few weeks," and continued chatting. We laughed for hours and it was a lot of fun!

But as the hours passed, the pain became increasingly worse. Before I could object, I was laying in Sam's lap as she rubbed my hair. After our guests had left, I ran upstairs and jumped into bed. Soon enough, my headache had entered territory I can only describe as "blinding."

I could not open my eyes. Graham was downstairs cleaning up the mess, and I found myself yelling at the top of my lungs (but apparently not as loud as Metallica, vibrating my skull) for him to come upstairs.

The moment I began feeling sick to my stomach, I remembered: I pictured myself crashing into a windowed-wall at laser tag.

Great. I have a concussion.

I am particularly vulnerable to head injuries on account of an accident several years ago. The pain I felt was eerily similar. Not a good sign.

Graham drove me to the hospital immediately, where we remained from 1 o'clock until 5 o'clock in the morning. I cannot imagine I could have appeared less responsible. There I sat, in my pyjamas, crying while I admitted:
I hit my head then drank a bottle of wine.
She is a picture of grace and poise... 

Graham held my hand. He carried me into the hospital. He covered me with blankets, but made sure I didn't fall asleep. He made me laugh hysterically even though it hurt to. He never left my side.

Suddenly, I was reliving that first accident: I was transported back in time to our first apartment, looking into worried eyes, my face all stitched up and fighting to heal.

We have both changed in so many ways over the past five years, but Graham's desire to protect and take care of me is exactly as it always was. I am so lucky!

Once we arrived at home, it was early morning. While he finished cleaning up downstairs, I ate slices of white bread in bed (lol).

We woke up past noon on Valentine's Day, and all of our plans appeared "ruined" at first glance.

But I was fortunate. I felt only minor mental fog. My headache was gone.

So we relieved ourselves of all Valentine's Day-associated pressure, and enjoyed our afternoon together.
I made Graham a breakfast of heart-shaped chocolate chip pancakes, eggs, bacon and toast. He was so happy. And I was thrilled he ate all of the pancakes that sat in a bowl (outside of this picture) but looked more like blobs and less like hearts.

Next we returned to the hospital to pick up my forgotten wallet. In my concussion-induced oblivion, I had left it behind.

Graham picked up my favourite sushi as a surprise. Who wouldn't want to eat dinner on conversation heart themed plates?!
In complete honesty, I ended up feeling grateful for our quiet Valentine's Day in. And we more than made up for it this past weekend. 

We spent Saturday morning in Westboro, playing outside. We had so much fun. We trekked across the beach until we were exhausted, chasing each other with fists full for snow. 
Graham face-washed me (badly). So mid-race to a tree, I collapsed with a "twisted ankle" to try and get him back. 

Normal... 

Once we had deemed ourselves soaked and frozen, we went out for brunch. Graham bought me a discounted Valentine's Day candy stick... He's a keeper.

We also visited the library! Last week, I set 23 books as my goal for 2015 on Goodreads. The public library is quickly becoming one of our favourite places, which is surprising, because Graham wasn't convinced he'd enjoy it!

Later that afternoon, Graham brought me to a shady arena (sorry babe, but it was) where he played 3-on-3 hockey while I read.

Then - the highlight! - we went out for dinner at The King Eddy, which we have designated our new favourite "date night spot" and "need a cocktail spot" and... "it's Wednesday spot."

You get it. It was that good. We became a little obsessed and took it upon ourselves to make friends with the staff. 

We both commented after dinner how wonderful it felt to be "pleasantly full" instead of completely stuffed. 

So naturally we headed to Oh So Good afterwards to eat cake. Failures... 
Footlong hotdog bliss. 
Weirdly happy about my hotdog.
Bailey's cappuccino. Isn't it pretty?!
It's easy to lose sight of how lucky you are when you're amidst the daily grind (and daily cold). But this past Saturday made me pause, multiple times throughout the day and look at Graham: 
I can't believe I get to marry you. I can't believe how much you make me laugh. I can't believe we're best friends. I can't believe you make doing normal, every day things feel life-changing. I can't believe this is our life. 
Life doesn't always - or sometimes, it feels like: ever - go as planned. And sometimes there's a reason.

xoxo,
Kristina