80 Days Around the Blogosphere

UHHHHHHH, how did I go from 129 days to 80 days until my wedding?! I mean, I know how, like, time works, of course, and I hate to sound cliche, but these weeks are seriously FLYING by. Oyyyyy.

All right, so, given that it’s been over a month since my last post, I probably have a lot to catch you up on (especially if you don’t follow me on Instagram, hahaha.) Basically, my life is just one big mashup of modpodge, glitter, events, and schnauzers. On the event front, Sean and I recently got to attend two friends’ weddings (on back to back weekends! October is obvs the new May when it comes to weddings), and they gave me serious #weddinggoals to aspire to.

And last week I had the opportunity to travel up to Pittsburgh for work to help out at my coworker’s big Halloween event. They had this awesome makeup artist at the event who transformed me into Zombie Pirate Gretchen, and it was, well, see for yourself:



Today is actually Sean’s birthday, (my old man is 31 today!), and we went out for an early birthday dinner to celebrate with his parents on Sunday. I would have a photo of my amazing steak from Ray’s the Steaks, but I ate it too fast. I’ve been working out more lately with the goal of looking less squishy in my beautiful yet strapless wedding dress, and apparently it has turned me into an even more ravenous version of myself. Or maybe it’s just a testament to how awesome my steak was — if you’re in the DC area and haven’t been to Ray’s yet, you are missing out on life!

Anyway, the most exciting development on the wedding front is that the invitations went into the mail yesterday! Squee! I can’t wait to show them to you guys. I know I’m sending them out a little on the early side (according to traditional ettiquette, invitations should go out 6 – 8 weeks before the wedding), but with Christmas and everything, I figured that sending them out earlier (with an earlier RSVP deadline) would lessen the chances of the invites getting lost in folks’ holiday mail.


In other developments, after lots of hemming and hawing over whether or not I should do my own makeup for the wedding, I had finally decided that I was, in fact, going to do it myself. After all, I know my own face, I do my makeup a lot, it would save money, etc. But then, because apparently making final decisions is NOT my strong suit, I decided to go in for a makeup trial anyway, just to be really sure that’s what I wanted to do. I figured, if anything, it would help solidify my decision to do my own makeup, since every other time I’ve gotten my makeup done by someone else, I haven’t really loved it.

So I went in for a makeup trial with Marquia of Blend Makeup Artistry, and this happened:


I L-O-V-E-D it.

I felt so beautiful! Marquia used airbrush foundation, which felt like air on my skin and gave me amazing, flawless coverage. Plus everything she did was beyond waterproof — and believe me, I put it through the ringer when I got home. I watched the first 5 minutes of Up, read back through the most heart-wrenching parts The Fault in Our Stars, AND watched the ending of Moulin Rouge. It didn’t budge! Marquia also used individual false lashes on me instead of a lash strip and they felt absolutely amazing.

So, long story short, I reneged on my original decision to do my own makeup and opted to book Marquia instead, lulz. I ended up asking if we could do a little bit of a stronger brow and slightly darker eyeshadow on the actual day of (gotta go big for the camera!), but overall I was so surprised at how much I loved the way I looked.

I gotta say, airbrush makeup is clearly the way to go. It didn’t come off on anything, which gives me a lot more confidence too, since my veil is gonna be right up on my skin, hehe. Once I decide which veil I’m actually going to be wearing, that is! I made several, hehe:

Turns out that making a birdcage veil is ridiculously easy (I’ll post a tutorial later!), but even so, I’m still pretty proud of myself for pulling these puppies off. I made an ivory veil in both traditional comb and bandeau styles, as well as a gold one. I’ve got my first dress fitting in a couple of weeks, so I’ll bring them to figure out which one I want to go with (although I think I already have a pretty good idea.) I’ve gotten a few of my other wedding accessories too, and can’t wait to finally see my whole look come together!


Speaking of things coming together, I am having so much fun working on the nitty gritty stuff for the wedding! I joke about having nightmares of being attacked by giant bottles of Mod Podge, but in reality, you guys know I love this crafty crap, hehe. That said, I still have a lot to do, and it does stress me out a bit when I start thinking about it all at once.


But as long as I take it a little bit at a time, I’m thinking I’m still in pretty good shape! After all, even though it feels like time is speeding up the closer we get to the end of the year, I know I still have almost three months until the big day, which is more than enough time to get all this done… right? RIGHT?!

Well, as long as we’re starting to spiral out of control, we might as well get to the part where I post the ridiculously long checklist of wedding-related stuff. Hopefully this list is of moderate interest to any other future brides (or just folks who are really invested in my wedding planning process), but even if it not, I’m gonna keep updating it since I keep misplacing any pen-and-paper checklists I make. So here’s where the ever-growing wedding checklist stands as of right now:

Date: ☑

Venue: ☑

Dress: ☑

Caterer: ☑

Photographer: ☑

Videographer: ☑

Flowers: ☑

Ceremony Musicians: ☑

DJ: ☑

Cake: ☑

Day-of Coordinator: ☑

Save the Dates: ☑

Invitations: ☑

Bridesmaid Dresses: ☑

Bridal Accessories: ☑

Wedding Rings: ☑

Groomsmen Tuxes: ☐

Dress Fittings: ☐

Registry: ☑

Hotel room blocks: ☑

Shuttle/Transportation: ☐ (Still trying to determine if we have the budget for this. Are we jerks if we don’t provide transporation to/from the venue?)

Welcome Bags: ☐

Wedding Signage: ☑

Program & Menu: ☐

Seating Chart: ☐

Alcohol: ☐

Honeymoon: ☑ (Yassss!)

Centerpiece Bottles: ☐

Ceremony Backdrop: ☐

Card Box: ☐ (I’m making something very special and annoying to make for this, heh.)

Additional Random DIY Projects: ☐

Eventually this list is going to get so long you guys are all just going to stop reading, hahaha. I mean, this doesn’t even include all the super specific stuff we have yet to figure out, like who our ceremony readers are going to be, the ceremony music, writing our vows, our final menu choices, our first dance song (I already know what I want it to be, but I guess I should confer with Sean about it ;)), and more. And so we press forward!

For now though, let’s put all that aside and finish on a non-whiney note, shall we? I’m extra excited about wedding stuff this week because my bridal shower is happening this weekend! My sister and sister-in-law are keeping all the details under wraps, so I have no idea what to expect, but I’m just so excited to have the first official wedding event take place! This ish is gonna get REAL starting on Sunday! I promise I will try really hard not to wait another six weeks before updating you on it all. :)

And, finally, let’s go ahead and give an update on the schnauzer part of my life, which, even with all the other exciting stuff going on, is obviously still the very best part:


Yeah, they’re still pretty great. My little schmoopiees. I love them. (And as a reminder for those who might be confused as to why there are three little bearded faces, Pixel is technically my brother’s dog.)

Well, I think that pretty much catches us up to now. Things definitely aren’t slowing down this week: I’m seeing Joshua Radin in concert on Wednesday, my sister and nieces come into town on Friday (yay!), I’ve got the bridal shower this weekend, plus a couple more Yelp events scattered throughout the next couple weeks.

And in two weeks, my whole family is heading to Houston so Sean and I can participate in a traditional Chinese tea ceremony for my grandmother who can’t travel and won’t be able to attend the wedding. We’ll also be spending a couple of days in New Orleans with my brother and sister-in-law on the way back! I’ve never been to NOLA, so I’m excited to try some authentic beignets, hehe. If you have any recommendations for must-visit places in New Orleans, let me know!

Okay, I feel like if I don’t cut myself off now, I’m just going to keep prattling on forever, so I’ll say goodbye for now. Guess this just goes to show that I really need to blog more frequently — apparently I still do have a lot to say, hahahaha. See you guys on the flipside!

129 Days and Counting!

Howdy, folks! It’s been yet another while since my last update, I know, but things have been moving along pretty swimmingly! Between work, wedding planning, and family stuff, I’ve definitely been keeping busy. In fact, I just came back from spending some time down in Macon getting to meet (and take photos of) my new niece, Kira!

Coming back home after spending some time with my adorable nieces meant jumping right back into wedding planning and work stuff. I’m actually hosting an Elite Event tonight, another one on Monday, and another one on the 27th. Whew! And next month brings another three events, three weddings (one of which I’m shooting with Ben & Taylor!), AND a trip up to Pittsburgh to help out at my coworker’s Yelper Party. WHEW.

But, hey, no rest for the wicked, right? And all this work craziness does come at a pretty good time, since I’m sure that as soon as I enter November, the wedding insanity will start to REALLY set in. November brings my bridal shower (squee!), a trip to Houston to visit my grandmother (she won’t be able to attend my wedding, so we’re going to perform the traditional Chinese tea ceremony for her), and, then, of course, the beginning of the Holiday Season! Double whew.

Luckily, I think I’m in pretty good shape with things right now. As far as most of the wedding planning timelines and to-do lists that I’m able to find online, it looks like we’re pretty much on target! Here’s where things stand:

Date: ☑

Venue: ☑

Dress: ☑

Caterer: ☑

Photographer: ☑

Videographer: ☑



Ceremony Musicians: ☑

DJ: ☑

Cake: ☑

Day-of Coordinator: ☑

Save the Dates: ☑

Invitations: ☐

Wait a second… are you seeing what I’m seeing? That’s a lot of checked boxes! Like, almost all of them! And while some of the checks are really more like, half-checks, since I can’t actually complete them juuuust yet, the decisions have been made. So I’m counting it!

After all, we’ve figured out the exact configuration of the centerpieces, the flower count is being calculated, the invitations are being designed, and, best of all, my real, ACTUAL dress came in!

No spoilers for you (that isn’t even my real veil!) BUT, I’m pretty darn excited. And miracle of miracles, it actually fits really well! It will still need some alterations, of course, but those don’t need to start until November.

All of which means that, um, the big things on my wedding checklist are basically complete! CRAZY!

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the planning is over by a long shot.the majority of what I have left to work on right now falls under the whole Death by DIY heading that I’ve already mentioned. You know, making the ceremony backdrop, painting the rest of the centerpiece items, finishing up the dessert bar decor (turns out that making cake stands from thrift store plates and glasses is pretty much the easiest thing ever!), and getting my bridal accessories. And I know that as we get closer to the date of the wedding I’m sure more and more things are sure to pop up.

In fact, here are just a few additional things that weren’t originally included on the “main” list that I think I should probably start keeping track of, even if the deadlines are still a ways off:

Bridesmaid Dresses: ☑

Bridal Accessories: ☐

Wedding Rings: ☐

Groomsmen Tuxes: ☐

Registry: ☑ (Thanks to everyone who told me about Zola, it’s really cool!)

Hotel room blocks: ☑

Shuttle/Transportation: ☐ (The hotels are technically walkable to the GW Masonic Memorial, but it’s January, so I’m trying to figure out is providing transportation is still a good idea.)

Welcome Bags: ☐

Wedding Signage: ☐

Program & Menu: ☐

Seating Chart: ☐ (Obviously this won’t be doable until after the invitations have gone out and RSVPs have come back, but it’s still good to keep in mind, as it’s a pretty important to-do.)

Alcohol: ☐ (We are able to purchase our own for the wedding — yay! — so I need to figure out amounts/types.)

Honeymoon: ☑ (Wheeeee!)

Oh boy. The list just keeps on growing. Heh. Oh well, whatever, you guys know I love this ish.

Speaking of the honeymoon, we finally decided on escaping the winter weather on a cruise out of Miami! It’s a 7-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary on Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Escape! I’ve never cruised Norwegian before, but am a big fan of cruising in general, and am super excited about the prospect of a brand spankin’ new boat (seriously, the ship hasn’t even started sailing yet. Eee!)

We are also going to spend a few days beforehand touring the Florida Keys, which neither Sean nor I have been to before. So if any of you have any tips about which cities in the Keys to visit, where to stay, or honeymoon-y things to do, please let me know!

Okay, I think that just about catches us up. I’m sure that the secondary list will just keep growing and growing, but I am super excited! We are 129 days out, and I am definitely already getting antsy, hehe. Onward we go!

Back on the Wagon

For those of you who may have been unaquainted with this blog in its earlier inception, I began my life on the interwebs as a weight loss blogger. My blog was named “Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!” was completely, utterly, 100% meant to help me lose weight.

I began this blog in August 2010 at 246 pounds, and through diligent(ish) calorie counting, forcing myself to work out, and the support gained from readers just like you, whittled my way down to a glorious 186 pounds by October 2011. Sixty pounds gone in just over a year! Sometimes I don’t really think I’d believe it were it not for the photographic evidence that I used to look like this:

God, I miss those arms.

Anyway. Through the course of the years that followed my initial weight loss, I found out a lot about myself. I found out how to be kinder to myself, how to love myself better, and how to start going after what I want in life, but primarily, I found out that weight loss is really hard for me to maintain. I experienced first-hand the reality of how easy it is to gain it back. And ultimately, I found myself right back where I started, more or less.

It wasn’t a linear process, re-gaining my weight. It’s not like I just suddenly hit 186 pounds and immediately started sliding backwards. It happened in small increments. I maintained my complete sixty pound weight loss for a while… until I didn’t. It happened slowly and completely unintentionally. It seemed so innocuous at first. You know, just a few pounds gained here, a couple pounds lost there. Up and down, back and forth. It all balanced out.

But then… a few more were gained, but not lost. And so it went, until one day, the clothes that I was once so excited to wear didn’t fit anymore. And I found myself untagging myself from more and more photos on Facebook. And I was reaching for cardigans to cover up even when it was 90 degrees out.

The weight, well, it all came back.

So here I am, five years later and pretty much back where I started. Well, when it comes to the number on the scale, that is. Life-wise, I’m in a much, much better place, and I can chalk it up to these three major differences:

First, I am happy. I mean, man, I’m so happy. I’m engaged to a great guy. I have literally THE best job in the entire world. I have two awesome pups, a wonderful family (which has just grown by one more — my sister had her second baby last week!), and generally, life is pretty sweet. Five years ago, I was depressed, in a not-so-great relationship (hindsight really is 20/20), had a boring, unfulfilling job, and felt generally aimless.

Secondly, I really do like myself a lot more. I know, most of that can probably be chalked up to being a 27-year-old versus a 23-year-old (aaaand now I feel old), but I really did go through a nice, big, cliche journey of self-acceptance. Sure, I still have a lot of annoying qualities, but I dunno, I guess I’m growing on myself.

In fact, the whole reason for rebranding this blog came out of this idea of me liking myself better. Because I didn’t want to be known as the girl always trying to lose weight. I just wanted to be me, and being me meant being able to love myself at any weight. And I truly believe I’ve taken a lot of strides in making that happen. But just because I love myself regardless of how I look, doesn’t mean I can’t want to change the way I look, right?

The third difference is one of those love-hate things. Because I love that I can say that my weight gain this time around isn’t the result of binge eating and a toxic relationship with food. It has been very liberating for me to live my life without the shackles of disordered eating. But, I also kind of hate that I don’t have that as an excuse this time. I know that probably sounds super messed up, but it’s just so much less embarassing to say “I got to 246 pounds because I had a binge eating disorder,” than “I got to 242 pounds because donuts are pretty much the perfect food and also I am lazy as fuck.”

I mean, it probably doesn’t help that the aforementioned most perfect job ever has me like

Food and Drank

all the freaking time. But, still, I know, it’s not an excuse.

Anyway, I think you can all pretty clearly see where this is all heading (in case the title wasn’t a dead giveaway, hahaha.) I am actively trying to lose weight… again. I don’t think that the fact that this is happening is a huge surprise to most of you — I made it pretty clear when I rebranded this blog that I probably would get to a point where I wanted to lose weight again. So the question instead is: why now?

And well, I’ll be honest. It’d be pretty easy to chalk me up as another wedding cliche — a bride-to-be trying to lose weight for her big day — because that is definitely a contributing factor. I can’t say that the fact that I’m getting married in five months has absolutely nothing to do with it. I mean, I’m only human! Of course I want to look and feel as beautiful as possible on my wedding day. BUT. That really, honestly, truly is only part of the reason.

I mean, let’s face facts. You can’t say that being at the weight that I am is healthy, because it’s not. I definitely don’t feel healthy. And I can’t say that I look good at this weight, because I don’t think that I do (and believe me, I think very highly of myself, so it must really mean something when I say that, hahahaha.) But while I’ve been at this weight for a while now, just like the first time around, it’s just taken me a while to get to the point where I actively want to do something about it.

So you’ll probably see me throw around the term “wedding diet” a lot in coming months, partially because it’s a convenient way of hashtagging the overabundance of food photos that tend to grace my Instagram, and partially because I am, indeed, trying to lose weight before my wedding. But I’m also going to try to continue losing weight after my wedding, until I get to a weight that I feel good at again (I’m not going to put a number to that just yet). And generally, I do hope that this time I’ll figure out the magic formula that allows me to keep it off for the long term.

The thing is, weight loss wasn’t exactly easy the first time around, but it wasn’t really that hard. I mean, hell, I lost sixty pounds in like, what, sixteen months? That’s really not a lot of time for a pretty significant amount of weight. This time around, however, it has been legitimately difficult. It’s like my body doesn’t want to let go of the weight again. “C’mon,” it’s saying, “we already did this once, that’s all you get!”

So despite going through the same process — counting calories, trying to clean up my diet, increasing my activity — the scale barely seems to budge. I’ve lost about four pounds since restarting my “weight loss journey” (barf at that phrase, but whatevs, it’s apt) but each ounce feels like pulling teeth, especially because I can’t help but compare it to the first time around. I lost something like eleven pounds the FIRST WEEK back then, and here it’s taking me weeks and weeks to see any progress at all.

I really hope that my decision to lose weight again doesn’t undermine what I’ve said in the past about body positivity, body-acceptance, and self-love, because I still truly believe in all of that. I still think that there’s far too much societal pressure for women to conform to one standard of beauty, and I don’t want to propagate the idea that you have to be thin(ner) to be worthy.

But, that being said, if I wanna lose a little weight, I think I should be free to do so, and that’s exactly what I’m attempting to do. Again.

Here we go.

Death by DIY

Ughghhghnghgh, where is this year going?! It is T-5 months to Sean’s and my wedding day (give or take), we’re halfway through August, almost at the end of the summer, and I know how cliche it sounds, but time is really FLYING.

This may partly because I’ve been doing so much traveling and throwing so many events for work lately that time has very little meaning to me anymore. Maybe.

Thankfully, due to a month-long period wherein I do not have to travel (huzzah!), I’ve finally been able to dip my toes back into planning for this whole wedding thing that’s happening in a mere five months. Actually, when I say it like “five months,” it still seems pretty far away, but when I factor in the impact that the holidays will have on my timeline (effectively taking an entire month out), in addition to the sheer amount of stuff I have set out to do (too much), the date seems a whole lot closer, haha.

I like to think of myself as a crafty person. Not crafty in the sense of being shrewd or cunning, but in the sense that I enjoy doing crafts. I’m all about that DIY life, yo. I mean, in theory, of course (my Pinterest is full of projects that I’ll never, ever actually do, but it’s still fun to pretend.)

Regardless, give me a bottle of Mod Podge and a jar of glitter, and I’m a happy camper. So it just makes sense that I’d want to craft it up when it comes to our big day, right? Well, due to my proclivity for being too ambitious, I need to be proactive about my DIY projects… lest I get to the one month countdown and suddenly realize I’ve only made 100 of my 1000 cranes for my ceremony backdrop, only spraypainted 10 of the 100 cups and bottles for my centerpieces, and… well, you get the idea.

So anyway, my life during this short stint while I’m actually in one place (I’m heading back to Macon over Labor Day weekend to meet my soon-to-come second niece! My sister is due August 31st, hehe) is basically comprised of nothing but gold spray paint and glitter.

In case you’re trying to keep track of my insanity, my DIY project list currently includes (but is not limited to) making the centerpieces, making a ceremony backdrop, making signage, making cake stands and dessert table decor, desperately attempting to make our bouquets (results of our trial run below)…

…and even glitterizing my shoes. 😉

I know. I’m a crazy person. But, I mean, I’ve got time, right? Or rather, I’ve got time and (thankfully) some equally crafty and helpful bridesmaids, hehe. I do plan on putting together tutorials for all my various craft projects once they’re, you know, complete, and whatnot, so stay tuned for those!

I know I have a lot of additional stuff to update you all on, since I’ve been AWAL for the past month, but since I don’t really know where to start, I think I’ll just end this post here, and come back to blog another day.

Jet Set Life

Um, can we just talk for a minute about how it’s basically already August? I know people say stuff all the time like, “This month has just flown by!” and “I can’t believe it’s already _____!” but this time it really is true — I am actually having trouble believing that as much time has passed as it has. It feels like the Fourth of July was like, last weekend! Oyyyy.

But I guess that’s what seven days in Ottawa, half-a-day in Montreal, one day in Toronto, and five days in San Francisco will do to you!

Yep, the past couple of weeks have been awesome, if not exhausting, haha. First was a trip down memory lane back in Canada, where I graduated from high school.

My week in Canada was pretty low key aside from all the driving we did between Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto, haha. I saw friends (including one of my bridesmaids, Holly!), ate lots of poutine, got my souvenirs in the form of ketchup chips, and all was well.

Then came the epic once-a-year Community Manager conference at Yelp HQ in San Francisco — what we call CM Week. This year, CM Week was superhero-themed, which really tells you all that you need to know.

I loveloveloved getting the chance to see my fellow Community Managers from around the globe (Yelp is in 32 countries!) and getting to brainstorm and get fired up for more projects to come! But try to imagine what it’s like when you basically put like 160+ Gretchens together in a room — all that energy! All that enthusiasm! I love it, but it is a lot to handle. And these folks really embody the idea of work hard, play hard, so even after a long day of sessions, so many of them were all up for going out all night, too. I tried to keep up, but I also knew that I had to take it relatively easy since…

The travel’s not over yet! As you read this, I am probably waiting in line at security to board yet another flight. I’m on my way back to Savannah, GA, for work. Yep, after being home for like, I dunno, three days? And after an Elite Event last night, to boot!

Don’t worry, the event was awesome. It was at local Falls Church eatery Pizzeria Orso, and there was a whole lot of selfie stick action happening, and I loved it. Buttttt, again, exhausting. Are you noticing a theme here? Hahaha.

So, alas, I’m on my way south and I am already tired of traveling. I don’t mean to sound whiney or ungrateful, don’t get me wrong!  It’s not that I’m not looking forward to GOING to Savannah. It’s a seriously boss city, and I love the Yelp Community Ambassador that I hired there, and it’s awesome that my job sends me there at all. Plus, because Savannah is so close to Macon, GA, I also will get to see my favorite niece (okay, my only niece… for another month or so!) and my sister.

But as much as I love all of those things, and as much as I know I’ll have a great time once I’m there, I just really, really, really don’t want to have to get on another plane.

Now, I’m no stranger to flying. I was on my first airplane at just a few months old. It’s not that flying bothers me or is scary to me or anything, I just am tired of doing it. I don’t know how people who travel all the time for work do it — I guess it just becomes the new normal? Because as much as I love travel and visiting new places (and old places!), visiting this many places in such a relatively short amount of time is exhaaaausting to me.

I just want to lie in my bed with Harry and Daxter for like, three days straight. I want to catch up on my DVR and be able to actually answer an email about my wedding (wedding stuff has taken a definite pause as I’ve been jet-setting around the continent), and I want to sleeeeeep.

It probably doesn’t help that I’m totally one of those people that gets sick basically every time she travels. Last year after CM Week, I got hit with what we call the CM Week Plague. I was basically bedridden for an entire week afterwards. So this year, I took it easy and tried to go to bed early(ish) most nights, and drank a LOT of beverages with extra Vitamin C… but I can still feel it coming. Pretty sure once I get back from this trip, I’ll be in a sad state.

The silver lining there, though, is that I think I will get to do all the aforementioned schnauzer snuggling and TV-watching I’ve been craving! In between the multitude of events I have lined up for August, that is, haahahaha…ha…ha.

Okay, anyway, no point dwelling on all that. C’est la vie, and regardless of whether I whine about it the whole time, I am gonna be plane-bound for just a little bit longer! I should be grateful (and I am!) that I’m afforded the opportunities to get to see old friends (in addition to seeing my Canadian buddies, I caught up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in ELEVEN years while I was in San Francisco!), go to sweet events (which is the reason I’m headed to Savannah in the first place), and eat lots of awesome food (which is really what I’m in all this for, after all.)

So, until next time, my friends!