My Best Birthday Yet

Today is my 29th birthday! Which, since Baby Foxlet will be making its way into the world before my next turn ’round the sun, basically means it’s the last birthday I’m planning on celebrating, uh, ever. I pretty much plan on just staying this age for the rest of my life if that’s cool, ahahahaha.

I spent the weekend celebrating, and oooooooh man, WHAT a weekend! It was full of family, fun, and feasting… and a little something extra special, which obviously means it was pretty much the best.

My sister, Jenny, was up for a visit from the ATL, so I got a lot of QT in with my little nieces. We also spent some sister-sister bonding time Saturday morning by heading to the salon for a little beautification. Since chopping off my hair, I’d just been letting it grow kinda wild… and it was heading dangerously into mullet-territory.

 

 

I was in desperate need for a little shape-up as it grows out, and I’m feeling much happier now that my locks have been tamed! Jenny lightened up for summer with some refreshed highlights, too. Huzzah!

 

 

Before Jenny and the girls had to skidaddle back to Atlanta yesterday, we had an early family birthday celebration for meeeeee! We headed to one of my favorite restaurants, Chasin’ Tails, and had a regular ol’ seafood feast. I was ecstatic for many reasons (y’all know how much I love my birthday!), but in particular because I was actually able to eat a good amount at dinner! I finally seem to be getting my appetite back (at certain times of day, at least), which after 4 straight months of nausea has been straight-up amazing.

 

 
 

After dinner, we headed back to my parents’ house for presents, dessert, and an extra fun bonus surprise… finding out the sex of the baby!

 

 

Yep, as what I’m sure comes as a surprise to absolutely no one, I totally caved, and ended up getting an elective ultrasound to find out early. I just couldn’t take not knowing any longer! Don’t judge me.

 

 

I had my ultrasound on Friday, just one day before the big reveal, and amazing bakery agreed to whip up some reveal cakepops on super short notice for me. the ultrasound tech called them to tell them the result, so I genuinely found out along with everyone else! And, well… just watch the video below to see! (My brother has a super cool 360-degree cam so we were able to capture everybody’s reactions all at once!)

 

 

Ooooor, if you ain’t got time for that, this oughta do the trick:

 

 

It’s a GIRL!!!!!!!!

 

 

I’d had a total of four separate and different dreams that the baby was a girl, but I wasn’t sure if that was just my own wishful thinking, since I’d always said I really wanted a girl, hehe. Turns out, it must have been my mother’s intuition!

Sean and I are both SO excited to be welcoming a baby girl into the world this September! I feel like I haven’t stopped smiling since Saturday evening (well, except for the hour I spent bent over the toilet around midnight that same night. Apparently baby girl does NOT like it when I take my prenatal vitamin on an empty stomach.) And I’ve already gotten to work adding lots of pink, fluff, and bows to my baby registry, ahahaha.

I know, I know, it’s not hip to be so gender-normative these days, but c’mon. It’s not like I wouldn’t love it if she ends up being all about trains, sports, and rocket ships instead of dancing, princesses, and tea parties! Okay, maybe not sports because I literally don’t care about one iota about sports, but how awesome would it be if she wants to be an astronaut when she grows up?! I just know myself, and know that I’m an annoyingly girly girl at heart. So are we really that surprised that I’m looking forward to filling my world with lots of pink, purple, and polka dots for the time being?

I will say, it is crazy how suddenly REAL things feel now that I know the sex of this little one. I mean, aside from learning this one little fact, nothing else has really changed all that much since my last update. And yet, when I think about the future, the picture is now all that much clearer! Trying to come up with her name suddenly has a real purpose, I can actually envision what it’ll be like to change her diaper, etc.

All of which is exciting, of course, but also mildly terrifying. In my excitement (and impatience) to learn the sex, I didn’t really think about how doing so would sharpen my image of the future, and thus make it all the more real that I am going to be responsible for an actual human life very, very soon. Like, responsible for her not dying on a daily basis. And when you think about it like that, 29 really just doesn’t seem all that old.

28 Years Young

So, I know it’s been a minute since I’ve been back in these parts, and I don’t even have a single excuse (other than, well, y’know, life). I truly, honestly, genuinely meant to get back to blogging much sooner than this, what with all the wedding DIY projects I want to share, various trips I’ve taken, and additional hair colors I’ve gone through.

So I apologize for taking so long to get back to my blogging roots. But today I make my triumphant return to the interwebs and we begin again!

First off, some updates:

  • I chopped off my hair basically the minute I returned from my honeymoon, and have proceeded to dye it varying shades of purple and also shave designs into the back of my head. I’m kind of loving it.

  • I got a new tattoo about a month ago. It’s a vial of Felix Felicis, the liquid luck potion from Harry Potter, and I think it’s pretty rad. I got it done at Patriots Tattoo in Fairfax.

  • Sean’s grandfather sadly passed away at the end of February, so we took a quick trip down to San Antonio to be with his family. We are so grateful that he was able to be at the wedding and that we got as much time with him as we did. <3

  • We had our annual Yelp regional conference a few weeks ago, which not only gave me the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by my coworkers (our team spans from PA to NC), but also to bust out my trusty Pikachu onesie. (#bestjobever)

  • My niece/goddaughter Mia also turned 3 at the end of March! Unghhhh, look how little she used to be…

  • And finally, speaking of birthdays…

Today is mine! Huzzah! I am 28 years young today which means it’s time to update my bio and start thinking about what to put on my before-I-turn-30 bucket list, heh. Fun fact: I don’t know if I’ve already shared this, but Sean’s mom and I actually have the same birthday! So did he luck out or what? He only has to remember the one date for both of us! 😉

I spent this past weekend in Macon, GA with my family for my baby niece Kira’s baptism, but we also snuck in an early birthday celebration while we were all together. We went to Dovetail, this awesome hyper-local farm-to-table concept — my kinda place.

I know I probably say this every year, but I think that 28 is shaping up to be my best year yet! I mean, I’ve already got a blizzard wedding under my belt, so pretty much everything in life seems easy breezy in comparison. I’m still loving my kickass job with Yelp, I’ve got a rad family, a home into which I can pour all my post-wedding extracurricular energy (a post on my obsession with my new bar cart is forthcoming), and my awesome grumpy old man pups (plus I basically timeshare my brother’s dog Pixel).

And as a perfect birthday present, I just received my wedding video! So please, feast your eyes on the wonderful video that the wonderful Doug Stanford created, which really showcases just how awesome and crazy and sentimental and special our wedding day really was.

Those last shots at the end are my favorite. 🙂

With that, I leave you for now — with the promise that much more is to come soon. (Although, I realize that my promises mean essentially nothing to you, since I’ve been promising to blog more for like, a year. Hahahaha…haha…ha.) I fly back to DC tonight (still in Macon for the day), so I’ll catch you on the flip!

Off to Ottawa + Some Updates!

Aloha!

I know, many more weeks have passed since my last update, and I’m pretty much the worst blogger ever. But let’s just go ahead and breeze on past that, because I’m making a point to get this post up today!

Why today? A Sunday of all days? Well, because by the time you are reading this, I am likely many miles above, flying on my merry way up to Ottawa, Ontario!

For those of you who don’t know, I actually graduated from high school in merry Canada, and I still have some very good friends who live there — one of whom is a bridesmaid in my wedding! They are such good friends, in fact, that they have come to visit me more than I’ve been back to visit them! The last time I was in Ottawa was back in 2011… yipes!

Anyway, needless to say, I’m more than overdue for a return “home.” I have to put the word home in quotation marks, of course, because I have like six “homes” — the result of being the daughter of a diplomat and moving every 3 – 4 years throughout childhood. Regardless, I’m super excited to check out my old stomping grounds and reflect on exactly how old I’ve gotten, hahaha.

Actually, I’ll be out and about for quite a while, as I’m going directly from my Ottawa vacation to San Francisco for our annual Yelp Community Manager Conference! #CMWeek15 I’ll be gone for about 12 days, which is a whole lot of time to be on the road for someone who’s got a job that’s totally locally-focused. But I’m excited to see old friends and catch up with my coworkers from around the globe, so it’s all good in the ‘hood.

Now, to catch you up quickly on what’s been a-going on ’round these here parts lately, first off, I had the pleasure of another wonderful visit from my sister, Jenny, and niece, Mia! Having Mia here for her first “real” Fourth of July was pretty fun! She did like the fireworks… for about five minutes. And then got scared. And then got over being scared, but got bored. Oh well, maybe next year she’ll be more into the spectacle?

 
I know it probably seems like I am spoiled because between their trips up here and my trips to Georgia (I luckily have a work obligation that brings me to Savannah every once in a while, which is only 2 hours from Macon, where they live), I actually see them a lot. But hey, I’m like weirdly obsessed with being an aunt, so it really works for me, ahaha! And it’s like extra bad right now, because I’m about to be an aunt x2, as Jenny is due with baby #2 at the end of August! Wheeeeee!

Anyway, Jenny was in town to attend the wedding of her best friend Lara, whose hair & makeup I was honored to be able to do for the big day. And with Taylor & Ben doing the wedding photography, it was a real Powell family affair, hehe!

It was a beautiful wedding, and the rain held off juuuust long enough, which was perfect (it’s been a really wet summer around here this year!) I will say, attending weddings as an engaged person is even more fun than it was before, btw. And I really liked going to weddings as a non-engaged person, hehehe.

Oh, also, my hair is blue as of Friday:

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Finally, we’ve been making some progress on the wedding planning progress! Here’s where the “Big List” stands right now:

Date: ☑

Venue: ☑

Dress: ☑ (no spoilers!)

Caterer: ☑

Photographer: ☑

Videographer: ☑

Flowers: ☐ (halfway there!)

Centerpieces: ☐ (Done in that we figured out exactly what they’ll be, not done in that much crafting is still to take place)

Ceremony Musicians: ☑

DJ: ☐

Cake: ☑

Day-of Coordinator: ☑

Save the Dates: ☑

Invitations: ☐

We officially have our caterer chosen and locked down, and after having our final cake tasting today, I think we’ve settled on a baker as well! Just need to do some paperwork on that front. And now I’m just waiting on getting a quote for DJ/lighting, getting some more floral quotes, and working my crafty little DIY-fingers to the bone on centerpiece elements and our ceremony backdrop. I am also starting to look at invitation options. And unfortunately, I don’t think that Sean is going to jump at my Marauder’s Map Invitation Suite suggestion, haha.

Although I do solemnly swear I am up to no good when it comes to my wedding shoes…

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Kekekekekeke. 😀

Anyway, jumping back to flowers for a hot sec, as you may remember, I was quite torn on whether we should attempt to DIY our flowers, or hire a professional like most sane people do. Well, because I like to think I exist in that space in-between insanity and sanity, we have decided to do at least half of the flowers ourselves. Our centerpiece flowers, that is!

See, I’ve never envisioned having big floral centerpieces — like, one vase with dozens of carefully and artfully arranged flowers. I think they’re beautiful, and if I had a dream wedding budget, I’m sure I’d want ’em, but as it stands… well, anyway, our centerpieces are going to mainly consist of some crafted wine bottles and glasses that will be used as vases.

So I took a trip to a local floral wholesaler last week with my sister and mom to pick up some flowers and play around, and this is what we came up with (as a mockup):

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The lighting isn’t the best (we took these pics late at night), but considering it’s my first time dealing with floral centerpiece stuff, it’s not half bad, right? This isn’t exactly what they’ll look like on the day, of course, but it definitely gives us an idea!

I’m planning for the flowers will all be a variety of whites, creams, blushes, and maybe some peach (that bright pink hydrangea is just an extra one my mom had for us to play around with). And I do plan on going into more detail on how I crafted the bottles and glasses (with some better pics of those), so stay tuned for that.

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I also played around with making a bouquet, and while I actually think my practice one turned out pretty nice (I mean, it was my first bouquet ever!), it also ended up being more difficult than I actually anticipated. (Guess watching all those Youtube tutorials really isn’t the same as having, you know, like, experience, hahaha.) So, at this point I am thinking that I’ll probably want to leave the bouquets, bouts, and corsages to the professionals.

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If it doesn’t sound too pompous to say so, however, I do think I did a pretty boss job of making a floral crown for myself my flower girl, though! All it took was some floral wire, floral tape, and wax flowers, and maybe like 40 minutes (much of which was spent being distracted watching Sophia the First with Mia, hahaha.) And since I got quoted $110 from a florist for a floral crown made by them, I think I feel pretty confident gifting Mia with a crown of my own creation, hahaha.

So there you have the latest & the greatest in terms of wedding updates and what’s been going on in the Life of Gretchen. I mean, not including the various Yelp events I’ve been planning (I’m doing a SUPER fun dog-friendly series of events in August — check it out, local peeps!), wedding hair trials, spending time with friends (also, Jenny and I went to see Book of Mormon and it was ridiculous and awesome), spending time with my betrothed (well, duh), and trying to decide between a Royal Caribbean cruise and a Norwegian cruise for our honeymoon. Anyone have opinions on that last one? 🙂

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Alas, but for now, I must bid you adieu! As I am headed to Canada, I shall now utilize as much French as I know… which is, admittedly, extremely limited and mosty picked up from one-liners in The Devil Wears Prada. (“Je suis très, très désolé.” “Oh, you’re not désolé at all.”)

Ahem, anyway! À bientôt and au revoir!

Babies, Black Eyes, and Bobs

Hello!

I know, another week+ long blogging hiatus has occurred. My only defense is that I was pretty much permanently camped out at my parents’ house the entire time my sister and niece were visiting, which meant zero access to my desktop, which is where I edit all my DSLR photos.

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The good news there, however, is that this means I actually took a lot of REAL photos over the past week! Which really worked out since, as you already know, Mia is pretty much the best thing to take pictures of ever.

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I rest my case.

Although, I do have to admit now that I have an iPhone 6, my phone photo game has stepped up significantly anyway. Guess that means my excuse really doesn’t fly, ahaha.

So, as tends to happen when life is, well, being lived, lots of stuff happened over the past week. First and most importantly, as you already know,  Jen and Mia came up for a visit. This meant lots of time spent hanging with my family, listening to baby babble (it’s the bessssst!), and emotionally reverting to my sixteen-year-old self. (Oh, and if you were wondering, Mia LOVED the Elsa doll I got her!)

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Also, I managed to slam my eye socket into the corner of a chair and give myself a black eye.

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I actually think it makes a much better story if I just say that Mia punched me in the face, so let’s pretend that’s what happened. You know, instead of me getting into fisticuffs with an inanimate object, mmkay?

All kidding aside, it actually was pretty awful. I’ll spare you some of the much uglier, nastier pictures I took, but suffice it to say that my whole eye was hugely swollen for a couple of days, and the bruise on my eyelid is just finally starting to lighten up now. (Thankfully, it just kinda looks like I’m wearing purple eyeshadow, and also that I must be reeeeeeeeally tired… in one eye.) I definitely realize how lucky I am not to have damaged my actual eye or vision though, especially given the $4K I spent on LASIK not too long ago.

Aaaaanyway, self-inflicted injuries aside, we all tried to cram in lots of hometown nostalgia for my sister while she was here, but I couldn’t let her leave without introducing her to something new, too. Specifically, my absolutely wonderful hair stylist, Linh at Be Scene Studios. I booked her an appointment so Linh and I could both try to convince her to do something fun and fashionable with her hair. And the result of our persuasive effort?

A fabulous, chic bob — Linh’s specialty! And it looks even better in person, and is nice and low-maintenance for someone who doesn’t even own a blowdryer… like Jen.

Sadly, though, ultimately my sister and my beautiful niece did have to return home. How did I soften the blow of their departure?

Why, by volunteering to groom Sully from Monsters, Inc, of course.

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Er, I mean, by hunting down a unicorn and cutting off its tail.

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Jk, jk. Obviously, I went ahead and let my own hair go under the knife, as it were. Yes, merely days after Jen got her rad new ‘do, I headed straight back to Be Scene for some new locks of my own. I guess seeing my sister’s stylin’ new haircut just made me crave one too badly to wait!

For good measure, here are a few final pics to remember my (faded) hair as it once was:

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The during:

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And, the after:

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As it turns out, it is actually really easy being green!

It’s funny, every time I’ve gone to see Linh in the past, I’ve always been that girl, all “Keep the length! Not too much off the bottom!” even though I was more than game for pretty much any color on the rainbow spectrum. Also, it’s a little weird that I was so stubborn about the length for so long, since it’s not like my hair has never been short, right? I mean, my hair’s been everything from pixie-short blonde to super-long rainbow. Oh well, at least I finally got to a place where I was willing to shed more than an inch or two, ’cause I’m loving it!

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Plus, this color, man. It’s beautiful! It’s like a super vibrant emerald green, and I am having SO much fun with it! We’ll have to see how it ends up fading (hopefully it’ll still be pretty), but for now it is so bright, so flouncy, and it actually shimmers in the right light! I’m thinking… Elphaba for Halloween?

Wellps, that about catches us up with what’s been a-going on over the past week or so. While camping at my parents’ place, I did get to do a lot of fun cooking, including a sous vide dinner with Sean that I actually managed to document in photos for once! So keep an (unbruised, unblackened) eye out for that, amongst other things, and I’ll see you on the flip side!

My Little Pony: Hair Dye is Magic

First things first, let’s all remind ourselves that I’m actually a small child inside. Which means that not only should you not judge me for the alarming number of stuffed animals that still reside on my bed, it should also come as absolutely NO surprise to you that I have watched every episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic on Netflix. Now, not only is this show adorable and home to the catchiest damn songs on the entire planet, I maintain that it’s also totally legitimate viewing material for adults because of all the Easter Eggs they slip in on a regular basis that kids could not possibly be meant to get.

I mean, HELLO, there is a DOCTOR WHO PONY. I rest my case.

Anywho(oves), I bring this up because yesterday I went to see the ultimate master of all things hair color, Linh at Be Scene Studios, and he transformed my formerly faded mermaid-hair into something about 20% cooler

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Just call me Unicorn Gretchen.

Now, I know I already walked you through what it’s like dyeing my own hair, but I thought it might also be interesting for those of you who are less inclined to play with fire bleach to see what it’s like for a professional to get his hands on my hair (literally!). I actually had planned on just taking some progress pics throughout the dyeing process to show you, but as luck would have it, Linh had a photographer visiting the salon yesterday, so I convinced him to snap a few shots!

I think you all know how this story begins. BRING ON THE BLEACH!

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Linh started by bleaching my roots, as those had a good 1/4-inch or so of dark regrowth, and then sat me under a dryer to torture me help the bleach process faster.

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After a while (I’m not sure how long it was exactly), I emerged from underneath the dryer and Linh’s beautiful fairy assistant Ara gave me a “silk bath” (I *think* that’s what they called it?) to help take out the rest of the green color in my hair. Basically, she mixed some bleach with clarifying shampoo to help remove my color in a much more gentler way than straight-up bleaching over it… because that part of my hair is already super bleached. Unfortunately, as it turns out, green is a damn hard color to remove, so all I really ended up with was white-blonde roots and mint green lengths.

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I was pretty paranoid about not damaging my ends any more than we had to, so we went just went with it, drying my hair to an almost-dry-but-not-quite level of dampness. Then we crossed our fingers and hoped that the colors Linh chose for my new ‘do would be bold enough and bright enough to be unaffected by the green…

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… and off he went!

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Linh crafted a colorful cocktail of purple, blue, turquoise, magenta, and pink, painting each color onto different pieces of my hair, using foil to keep colors from bleeding onto one another.

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And I waited for a liiiiitle while longer until, at last, after one final rinse, some conditioner (oh, blessed conditioner!), and Ara’s awesome styling, I was reborn with beautiful rainbow hair:

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Ta-da! I feel like a beautiful unicorn and I am so, so happy with deciding to go for multiple colors this time around. Of course, this being my very first time with multicolored hair, I have absolutely no idea what subsequent washes might do to the color distribution and how it fades, and my trick of making my color last by putting some hair dye into my conditioner won’t really work since, well, you know. But, given how pretty the colors all look together right now, I have no doubt that they’ll continue to look pretty even if they mix and match and fade together even more.

Another successful adventure in hairdom, I’d say! And my new rainbow hair will hopefully go pretty perfectly with another new something that I’m planning on getting today… So stay tuned for that, have an awesome weekend, and see you on the flipside!