Friyay!

Happy Friday from these three greenpawed beardfaces!

Sigh… guess that’s what I get for walking them on wet grass after it’s been mowed. I’ve got my brother’s dog Pixel with me for the week while Ben and Taylor are in Florida (I mean, I actually steal him pretty regularly, but this time it’s for a legit reason, ahaha) so it’s all schnauzers all the time at the Fox household right now. Heeee — oh man, it is fun to say “the Fox household” guys. I have an actual household! ::grin::

Aaaanyway, the rest of the week has been pretty chill. Yesterday I spent most of the day in my pajamas working (heh), and I went up to the Baltimore area on Wednesday to help out at my coworker’s rad 90s-themed Yelper Party. Oh man, best theme EVER. I was in Heaven: we’re talking Beanie Babies, slap bracelets, Doc Martens, and rocking out to Bell Biv Divoe… the only downside to the party was how acutely aware it made me of the fact that the 90s was TWENTY YEARS AGO. Which, of course, made me feel old. And also made me want to see if I have any Beanie Babies left.

As for this weekend, Sean and I have big plans to get our nerd on bright and early tomorrow. I cannot WAIT to see Avengers 2.5 Captain America: Civil War! We have tickets to see it tomorrow morning, and all the early buzz I’ve heard from critics as well as friends who have gotten sneak peeks of the film (lucky bastards) has been amaaaaazing! Are you #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan?

Unnngh, between Civil War this weekend and X-Men: Apocalypse at the end of the month, my comic nerd flag is waving hiiiiiiigh right now. And I am totally, 100% okay with it.

Hope everyone has a rockin’ weekend! See you on the flip.

Pups & Mezze

Well, I hope that you’re all caught up with Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, and if you’re not, what in the Seven Kingdoms are you doing on the internet?! Get out of here! No, but seriously, GoT is pretty much the one show where you just cannot afford not to watch it live if you really care about spoilers. To be clear, I’m not putting any spoilers out there myself rn, I’m just offering this as a general observation and Game of Thrones fangirl. I just feel like I’ve read so many interweb comments today about how spoilers have ruined folks’ lives, and well, shouldn’t they know better?

Anyway, now that I’ve dived headfirst into this post with a random non sequitur (hey, I’m still getting my blogging legs back, okay?), let’s talk Monday! Yesterday started off with a vet visit for Harry & Daxter to give away all my money get their annual checkups, shots, and whatnot. They’re both still healthy as, well, as miniature schnauzers, since that’s what they are. And despite Harry getting on in years and Daxter being literally the most accident-prone dog to ever exist, they both passed with flying colors. High five!

Sidenote: Anyone living in the Burke/Springfield area who might be looking for a vet, I highly, HIGHLY recommend Dr. Alt at Burke Veterinary Clinic. He’s the bee’s knees. Second sidenote: are you impressed that I finally figured out how to make my own gifs? Let’s hope Daxter gets internet-famous! 😉

After the vet it was back home to do some work, then off for some blissful “me time” as I went and got a massage. Then back to the house again to cuddle with my vaccine-booster-laden animals and work some more, before heading out into what ended up being a ridonkulous thunderstorm to meet the lovely Anne for dinner!

We went to Yayla Bistro for dinner, which had been on my bookmarks list for-freaking-ever (4.5 star average on Yelp!) and it did not disappoint. It’s a Turkish/Lebanese mezze-style restaurant, and everything we ordered was seriously delicious.

We got a smorgasbord of Mediterranean treats, including hummus (duh), dolmas (huge and outstanding!), a beet & orange salad (served over potato salad mmmm), and grilled squid (SO good.) We also got kofte, which was super flavorful ,and Anne ordered an arugala salad. Plus they brought out bread with house-made olive tapenade. We did a pretty good job tackling the feast, though I do have a small box of leftovers to dig into tomorrow, hehe.

In an exciting turn of events (if “exciting” really means “awkwarrrrrrd”), we get to the end of the meal and… turns out I’d forgotten my wallet at home. Not. Kidding. It was literally the first time this had ever happened to me, and I felt terrible! Thank goodness for Anne being a far more responsible adult than me, or I’d have had to ask if this adorable little locally-owned restaurant accepted Apple Pay. I mean, obviously I shot Anne some digital cashola on the spot to pay her back for my half of the meal, but still, ::cringe::

I was also super paranoid driving home from the restaurant because I was suddenly so aware that I didn’t have my license on me! Guess that’ll teach me to leave my wallet lying around at home. Sorry again, Annie Bananie, but thanks for the great evening! I should have given you my leftovers as penance. <3

Aaaaand, that catches us up to today! As you’re reading this, I’m probably at the dermatologist’s office getting a bump on my noggin looked at. I suspect it’s a pilar cyst, but hopefully I’ll find out more tomorrow! And with that, I’ll stop talking about it, because we’re probably pretty close to venturing into TMI territory. And as I suspect most of you are not as interested in dermatological issues as I am (I actually watch Dr. Pimple Popper’s videos on Youtube like, all the time. She is awesome and the human body is weeeeeeird), I’ll keep the rest of the dermo-chatter to a minimum for now.

Have an awesome Tuesday, and I’ll be back tomorrow with my first “official” weigh-in of the (weight loss) season. Yipes!

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:

 
 

Hehehe.

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!

From Harry Potter to Harry Powell

So, last I left you, I had just finished detailing my massively amazing Harry Potter World vacation (with Disney and a cruise and Sean’s birthday and other stuff thrown in there, too). Of course, since it’s been a couple of weeks since returning from said vacation, there are other things to catch you up on as well!

So, let’s talk the last day of vacation and the days that came directly after, shall we? Having just finished an epic, practically tailor-made-for-Gretchen vacation, you’d think that I would be flying high on good feelings and vacation happiness for quiiiiite a long time. My internal happiness meter was damn near bursting on that last day in Florida! So what happened next?

Murphy’s Law. That’s what.

See, on our last day in sunny Orlando, as I lounged around in my new Hufflepuff robes in our hotel room, I received a text from my parents. My dog Harry wasn’t feeling too well, they said. Turns out that he got his little paws on a cooked pork bone (cooked bones of any kind are big no-nos for your dogs, FYI, because of their compromised hardness and potential to splinter) and completely obliterated it.

Now, I’ve been a dog owner for a fairly significant portion of my life, so I’m no stranger to my dogs eating stuff they ain’t supposed to. There was Daxter’s Fizzing Whizbee betrayal of 2012 (which somewhat ironically also happened right after I had returned from Harry Potter World, hmmm…) and the sugar-free gum incident of 2013 (xylitol, a main ingredient in sugar-free gum, is extremely toxic to animals), not to mention all the half-eaten sandwiches and leftover chicken wings that Harry has pilfered from coffee tables in days past. You know, just to name a few.

All of these previous incidents ended up having relatively little impact, thankfully. We got the dogs’ stomachs pumped after the sugar-free gum thing just to be safe, but otherwise all other bad-dog situations luckily passed without incident. So when my parents explained what had happened and that he had thrown up a couple of times, I honestly didn’t think too much of it… until I Facetimed with them later that morning and saw what was going on for myself.

Most vets will tell you that the #1 way to tell if something is wrong with your pet is if there are any sudden changes in personality or energy level. Harry, despite his years, is quite a spry little guy. He’s always excited to see you, he’s always a little TOO excited to see other dogs, he loves to go outside and play and snuggle and, well, you get the picture.

Happy Harry, pre-incident.

So when Harry, whom I had been separated from for a week, didn’t even seem to register the sound of my voice, I started to get worried. He was thoroughly down and listless, I could observe that much through the Facetime screen alone. He was completely uninterested in food and water, and he didn’t even flinch when my dad tempted him with the question, “Outside?” which is usually a foolproof way to trick him into coming to you getting him to move his tookus. That’s really when the panic set in.

I told my family to go ahead and take him to the vet, and they immediately went to work on the most imminent issues. Namely, the fact that he was majorly dehydrated from vomiting without taking in any additional water. The vet did a stomach x-ray to see the cause of the problem, and identified one large piece of bone that was stuck in his stomach (it actually ended up being two pieces.) If it didn’t pass on its own, Harry would need a procedure — either via endoscopy or surgery — to remove it. And that’s pretty much when the tears began.

Over the next several hours I would reach a level of hysteria that caused me to cry all the way through the movie John Wick, which Sean and I had tickets to go see before we left town. (In retrospect, John Wick is a TERRIBLE MOVIE to watch while your dog is in the hospital, since the basic premise involves mobsters killing an ex-hitman’s dog at the beginning of the movie.) Now, I know that to some of you, incessant, unstoppable tears seems like a bit of an overreaction to your dog getting sick, but let’s look at the facts, shall we?

1. I am a crazy dog lady whose pups are her children. Let’s just get that out of the way.

2. At 10 1/2, Harry is no longer what I think anyone could consider a spring chicken. Plus, he was really, really sick. He was so sick that my vet couldn’t even give me reassurances that he would make it at first. Worst. Feeling. Ever.

3. I was out of town, out of state, and getting a lot of my information secondhand from multiple sources. Not being able to be there in person made things 1,000x more stressful!

4. And let’s face it. Even without life-threatening illnesses, my natural state at any given point in time hovers somewhere between a 6 and a 9 on the emotional spectrum. I just have a lot of feelings, ok?

Harry was still very dehydrated at the vet, with regular bouts of, well, let’s just say stuff was coming out both ends, and he was in a lot of pain. Since any kind of invasive procedure would have been risky given his state, they wanted to wait and see if there was a chance Harry could pass the larger bone pieces out on his own. Thus, Harry definitely needed to stay overnight, and I was given the option of leaving him at my regular vet’s office or having him transferred to a 24-hour emergency pet hospital.

Because my vet doesn’t have overnight staff, this was a no-brainer for me. But it also meant that essentially from the time we got out of the movie until we boarded our plane, I was on my phone making arrangements for Harry’s transfer, including getting all my payment information and pet insurance forms to the hospital.

Harry ended up needing to be hospitalized for four days, and during that time we did ultimately decide to move forward with the endoscopic procedure to try and remove the bone once his condition stabilized.

Thankfully, it worked! He was discharged 24 hours after the procedure was complete, and when I picked him up from the hospital I could already see a marked difference. That said, he had definitely gone through a lot, so his recovery was of the slow-and-steady sort, with lots and lots of various meds to give him. He also was still very iffy about eating and drinking, so we had some good bonding as I handfed him all of his meals.

I can officially report that he seems to be 100% back to his jolly old self, and the only real reminders of this horrible experience are his single shaved poodle leg (where the put his IV) and my credit card bill.

Speaking of which… I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again now, and I’ll keep saying it from now until eternity: If you are a pet owner, you NEED to have pet insurance. Thanks to my policy with Embrace Pet Insurance, I should be getting about 80% back of all Harry’s expenses. Without pet insurance, this “little” incident would have set me back almost $4,000. And between both of my accident- and illness-prone dogs, we’re talking tens of thousands of overall savings in their lifetimes. Just think on that.

So yes, unfortunately my magical vacation did have a bit of a sour note to it towards the end, but the most important thing is that the Harry Powell train is back in business! Also, I learned a lot about what 12-straight hours of crying does to my body, so I guess that’s good to know? I’m not really sure what’s going to happen when I have human kids one day…

Let’s Rock and Roll

Tomorrow, I’m leaving on a jet (yet again) to visit my beautiful sister, Jen, and even beautifuller niece, Mia! (“I mean, not FULLER, you don’t look fuller, but more beautiful…”) in Macon, GA. And the reason for this trip? Well, there is no real specific reason, actually! It’s a visit for the sake of visiting. And yes, I did just see them a month ago in Cabo, but hey, when it comes to little minions like this, can you really ever get enough?

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So this is kind of a random visit, but it’s also a visit that came at almost no personal expense because of the ridiculous deal that I got on my planet ticket. See, when Frontier Airlines launched their service to and from IAD, they had a crazy 12-hour flash sale where flights were as low as $15 each way. So I spent like three hair-pullingly frustrating hours on Frontier’s constantly crashing website, refreshing, refreshing, and refreshing some more, until I finally succeeded in securing a $30 roundtrip flight to Atlanta to visit Jenny.

That is not a typo.

THIRTY DOLLARS.

So yeah, it’s pretty sweet. Alas, Frontier is one of those nickel-and-diming airlines that charges for EVERYTHING, including in-flight beverages, choosing your seat assignment, and putting your carry-on bag in the overhead bin. Not just checking your bag, but actually putting it overhead. Womp womp. So I’ve decided that I’m going to try to fit everything I need for my entire trip in my single duffel bag and squish it under the seat.

I mean, if I’m not successful in cramming it under there, of course I’ll just pay the extra $25 or whatever to put it up top since all things considered, it’s still waaaaaayyyyy cheaper than a regular plane ticket anyway, but who doesn’t love a challenge, amiright?

So let’s discuss my action plan to fit all of this:

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Into this:

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There are a few different packing ideologies out there — traditional stacking, bundle wrapping, stuff ‘n’ go — but the one I personally subscribe to is rolling.

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Rolling not only makes your clothing super compact and easy to arrange, but also leaves you with far fewer creases than traditional packing. Somewhat ironically, the t-shirt I used in the example above was actually already kinda wrinkly to start with (oops), so it’ll actually end up coming out of my suitcase nicer than when it went in, haha!

And how is this space-saving packing mastery achieved, you ask? Here are the easy-peasy steps, as demonstrated in the photos above.

  1. Lay out your clothing item flat, then fold the bottom hem over about two inches.
  2. Fold the item into even thirds.
  3. From the opposite end, begin tightly rolling the t-shirt.
  4. Pull the folded part of the hem over the roll to lock it into place. Done!

The last bit’s a little bit hard to explain in words, but when you actually do it it makes perfect sense. Just make sure that the folded-over band is wide enough.

Rolling’s not just for t-shirts, of course. You can roll up everything from maxi skirts to workout shorts…

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…and even underwear! Although since they already take up so little room, I don’t bother with the fold-over band part when doing my undies.

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Sidenote: these eBags Slim Packing Cubes are the bomb.com. They make compartmentalizing your packing and keeping all your littler items together soooo easy. I use them for my delicates, for makeup/toiletries/brushes, for electronics, all that good stuff.

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So that’s how I roll (pun intended) when it comes to packing! As you can see, things are generally more compact, and it’s organized, too! Another plus for rolling is that each item is still clearly identifiable, even when wrapped (provided you actually know what your clothes look like), so if you really needed to grab something out at the last minute, it’d be easy enough to do so.

Some items, like my long maxi dress and romper I just kept folded, since they are made out of that thin, non-wrinkle material and I haven’t decided if I’m going to wear one or the other on the plane there.

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I’m happy to report that once I loaded all my clothing (shoes included!) into the duffel, there was still plenty of room to move and jive and squishhhhh. I maintain high hopes that this will indeed be underseat-crammable.

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Of course, this is excluding one more packing cube of makeup and toiletries, as well as the fact that I need to fit my purse in here as well, but I’m sure I can make it work. And, again, if not, I’ll suck up the bag fee, no big deal. Either way, hopefully at least one person will have found this tutorial on clothes rolling informative!

To finish out this post, here are some shots of my packing helpers (you might have already noticed Harry chilling in one of the photos above, hehe.) If only I could roll these fuzzballs up into my bag and bring them with me, too!

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