Runway & Heartbreak

Haaaaappy Monday! Well, you know, not really. But it’s the thought that counts, right? I hope you all had amazing weekends! Mine started off with a bang and then eased into glorious lazydom. It was very nice, and super fun. And also a little bit heartbreaking. Which, granted, are things that don’t generally seem like they should be plausibly connected, but you will see what I mean in just a bit, I pwomise.


So Friday night kicked off with me meeting the loverly Anne P. in downtown DC! Anne invited me to go with her to this LivingSocial/Rent the Runway mash up event. I love fashion, and I love Anne (uh, duh), so I was totally down!


For those of you who are unfamiliar, Rent the Runway is an online service where you can rent expensive designer gowns for a fraction of the price they actually cost. So, for someone who didn’t want to shell out hundreds on a new dress for your second cousin Delia’s wedding, you can shell out like, $50 instead and get the dress for 4 days (there’s also an 8-day option). This particular event was a kind of pop-up Rent the Runway studio, where you could go and try on an offering of the dresses that the company offers on their website. Very cool, actually, since ordering things sight unseen is always kind of a risk.


Since Anne had gotten invited as “press” (heh, a term I use loosely as a blogger, admittedly) we also got access to the press room where we were served adorable miniature pies, as well as champagne (win!). We chatted with some of the Rent the Runway folks for a little while, and then it was time to go get our dress-up on!


I had a lot of fun fawning over and pawing at the various dresses that were there. They had dresses of all lengths and fanciness there–from long, floor-sweeping ballgowns to cute cocktail attire. I tried on a super cute Kate Spade number that I would easily have bought then and there, had it been for sale (thank goodness they only do rentals, haha!) as well as an absolutely GORGEOUS Rebecca Taylor strapless evening gown. I mean when else am I going to get the opportunity to try on a ballgown for funsies, eh?


Just pretend my bra is part of the dress, mmkay? But seriously, if I had an extra $925 laying around, I would buy that dress in a heartbeat and just keep it hidden in my closet until someday I had an opportunity to wear it (you know, when I’m accepting my Oscar or something). It was soooo beautiful, and it skimmed over my curves in all the right ways and a bunch of complete strangers even told me how amazing it looked on me. *Sigh*

Somewhat disappointingly, the largest size that I came across was 12 (that I saw, at any rate), which luckily happens to be my size now. But considering me wearing this size is only a relatively recent occurrence, I do wish they had offered larger sizes than that. I mean, I don’t know if maybe they specified what the sample sizes were on the LivingSocial deal or something, but I just hate to think of someone buying a ticket to go to that event and then not even being able to try anything on. I know that a lot of high-end designers only make up to a certain size anyway (and a lot of times they’re not even gracious enough to go up to 12!), but still. Ah well, at least there were a zillion things for gorgeous Anne to try on! πŸ™‚


Anne and I did manage to get one blurry picture together at the event, haha. They were offering a 20% discount if you rented something at the event, but since I, sadly, do not have any debutante balls or inaugural dinners to attend in the next week, I didn’t end up renting anything. But I actually think I have a Rent the Runway credit thing I got in one of my Birchboxes (or maybe my sister gave it to me, I can’t remember), so now that I know the quality of the dresses, I absolutely think I’ll give it a try! Maybe for a wedding or something? Man, what I wouldn’t give to have a long evening gown-appropriate event to attend…


So after we left the event, the two of us headed deeper into Chinatown and ended up at Matchbox for dinner. I was super excited, because I’d actually never been before, and had always heard such wonderful things about it. It did not disappoint!


I’d had two little pies (one was this, like, pico de gallo-filled pie, and the other was chocolate pecan, haha. Balanced?) at the event, so I wasn’t crazy hungry. I ended up opting for a soup & salad combo–definitely one of my more brilliant ideas.


The salad had mixed greens, pears, blue cheese, and candied pecans. Droooool. The soup was a cream of crab with soooo much crabmeat I was in Heaven. Om nom nom. Anne got a different salad that looked equally scrumptious, and a tuna tartare dish to go with it. I hear Matchbox is particularly famous for their pizzas though, so I definitely need to go back!

Obviously, a very fun (and girly, heeee) way to kick off the weekend. The rest of the weekend was pretty much made up of somewhat lazy hangouttery (Sean and I saw Django Unchained, which was AWESOME) and tears. Lemme ‘splain.

While I was writing Terra I put myself on a bit of a self-imposed reading ban. At least insofar as young adult novels went. But now that I’ve actually gone ahead and written a book of my own, I’m finally allowing myself to go through the giant pile of books I had been purposefully putting aside. And I’m not kidding when I say it’s a big pile.


Plus add three four seven more books that I have loaded onto my Kindle. (Also, publishers, STOP PRICING KINDLE BOOKS AS HIGH AS HARDCOVERS. Seriously. My bookshelves are already too full.

I didn’t want to be unduly influenced by other works, and since the books I love to read tend to fall into a similar (if not the same) genre as the book I wrote, I figured it was better to be safe than sorry. So I’ve been plowing through my ridiculous to-read pile at a pretty good rate (already crossed Delirium off my list and am like 25% of the way through Uglies), and my latest accomplishment was…

THIS BOOK OF UTTER AND EPIC BEAUTY. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. God, I loved it so much, I just, I just, I just…

AUUUUGH IT WAS SO GOOD AND HEARTBREAKING. (Sidenote: Community comes back next month! HUZZAH!)

I mean, right off the bat (from the blurb on the inside cover, mind you, so no blaming me for spoilers) you know it’s a book about teenagers with cancer, so the fact that it’s a tearjerker should come as a surprise to no one. But, my God, is it beautiful. I loved everything about it: the writing, the teenaged characters who talk more like they’re forty and are so ridiculously witty and well-read it’s, well, ridiculous… even the I-can’t-even-call-this-bittersweet-it’s-too-sad storyline. I hate myself for waiting so long to read it. I finished it in 10 hours. Actually it was more like 6, since 4 of the hours in the middle were spent sleeping, but I swear, I was THISCLOSE to taping my eyelids open so I could keep reading straight through the night. As it was, I gave up just before 3 and started reading again around 7. Hours 8 and 9 were pretty much just spent sobbing.

Sooooo anyway, yes, I spent a good deal of yesterday morning in tears, but they were the good kind, even though they’re also the sad kind. Surely you must know what I mean.

And, thus, my weekend was.

I know, most profound ending to a blog post ever. You are welcome.

F(Anne)tasy Wedding

Holy schmoly. You guys. This wedding.

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It was amazing, surreal, beautiful… oh gosh. I don’t even know how to properly describe it. I don’t even know where to begin!

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But I’ll try. (Warning: your eyeballs may implode from the sheer number of photos you are about to see. Not that you’re shocked at this point, I’m sure. But still.)

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So, as some of you already knew from previous posts, I spent the weekend celebrating the wedding (and, you know, subsequent marriage) of my friend Anne and her now-husband Matt! Some of you may know her as Anne P., blogger extraordinaire, but long before she started fANNEtastic Food — and before she and I became friends in our own right — she was simply my older sister’s BFF(FFFFF).

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The two of them were so inseparable during high school that they were collectively known as “Janny” (Anne + Jenny). Fortunately, as I’ve grown up and out of the “annoying younger sister” phase, Anne and I have grown quite close. We were both bridesmaids in my sister’s wedding, where I was the MOH, and my sister was Anne’s MOH this past weekend. Full circle!

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Anne’s wedding was a true family affair for us. Not only was Jenny her maid (er, matron?) of honor, but my brother Ben and his fiancee Taylor were the photographers AND I did the makeup for the bridesmaids! And as if that weren’t enough of a Powell overload, my parents were also in attendance. It was so much fun for all of us to get to celebrate Anne and Matt’s big day together!

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Things started on the early side for me Saturday, as I headed over to the estate where the wedding was taking place at around 10 AM. The wedding location was about an hour+ outside of Northern Virginia, and I had actually gone down Friday night since Anne’s parents hosted a post-rehearsal dinner reception. Since I was on makeup artist duty for the four bridesmaids, I came well equipped.

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Uh, yeah. The next time I complain about how I don’t have any money? Please remind me of this. Kthx.

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Things were already underway in terms of beautifying the bridal party, so I didn’t waste any time getting down to work.

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Can I just tell you how much fun it was to get my big sister, who didn’t start wearing mascara until like 6 months ago, into a makeup chair? Hehehe.

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Jenny, Turner, Jessica, and Kris!

My handiwork. What do you guys think? This was my first time doing “real” makeup for someone else. I think it turned out pretty great! Of course, it helped that I had some pretty great faces to work with in the first place. πŸ™‚

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Meanwhile, the bride was getting totally beautified herself, and the bro was there to capture it all on (official) camera. I may or may not have taken the time to do my own face up while I was waiting for the girls to finish with their hair, too. Hehehe.

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Before long, it was time to hightail it over to wardrobe so everyone could get dressed! I stuck around for a little while to be able to touch up makeup before bridal portraits began. It’s no secret that I absolutely, totally, completely LOVE weddings, so I really enjoyed getting to stick around for the “backstage” stuff.

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Anne was SUCH a beautiful bride. I know that everyone says that about all weddings, but seriously. Her dress was incredibly beautiful. Simple, but breathtaking. She looked classic and elegant, an absolute dream.

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After the dresses were fully on and the lip gloss was triple-checked, I made my way back to the hotel to meet up with Sean (who was bromancing it up with my brother-in-law by watching football in some pub far away from the dresses and makeup, hahaha) and get ready. We moseyed back to the wedding site and I took advantage of the fact that we were all fancied up to take some portraits of our own.

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And before you knew it, it was time for the ceremony! It was beautiful, funny, and moving. I’ll let the following pictures speak for themselves.

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Mr. & Mrs.!!!

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While the bride & groom were whisked away to take their newlywed photos together, the rest of us enjoyed cocktail hour and eventually made our way down to the tent where dinner was being served.

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Hello, lover.

Look who I found at our table! πŸ™‚

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I was seated with fellow bloggers Theodora, Meghann, and Heather! Ben and Taylor also got to take a few minutes to breathe and get a bite to eat at our table (since Anne didn’t particularly want photo after photo of her wedding guests stuffing their faces anyway, I’m assuming). As Anne put it, she was grouping all the cameras together, ahahaha.

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The food was, as I expected, specatular. Anne had blogged about the menu for the wedding quite some time ago, and I’d been salivating ever since! We all started out with a plated salad that included greens, cherry tomatoes, candied pecans, and an herbed goat cheese medallion. Absolutely tremendous.

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There was bread on the table (whole grain, of course) and dinner was served buffet style. I apologize for the definitely-doesn’t-do-it-justice photos. By this time, the sun had completely set and the uplighting inside the tent was blue so they lost a little something in editing. Still, rest assured that it was absolutely delicious!

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There was quinoa salad, a tofu & bean dish, roast chicken, and prime rib, as well as a whole slew of roasted veggies. The chicken and quinoa salad in particular were delectable. Love, love, loved it. I actually didn’t even get to eat as much as I probably would have otherwise, because I was saving myself (as I always do) for cake. Before we could dig into that frosted bad boy, though there were speeches to hear and dances to watch!

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My sister gave a moving and heartful homage to her friendship with Anne, as well as to how perfect Matt & Anne are for each other. It was beautiful, and I was a bit of a mess by the end. I wasn’t the only one, either! Of course, this can mostly be blamed on Jenny, who also started to cry before she finished her speech. C’mon, you can’t put a crying pregnant woman in front of a crowd and expect us to keep our eyes dry!

In addition to Jenny’s MOH speech and Matt’s brother’s Best Man speech, there was also a pre-recorded speech from Anne’s younger brother (who was also my middle school classmate!) because he wasn’t able to attend the wedding as he’s currently overseas. It was so touching and meaningful and I did not tear up and start crying all over again. Nope, definitely didn’t. Not one bit.

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Anne and Matt had a great first dance routine, too. Matt is QUITE the dancer! They were spinning and twirling all over the dance floor — it actually made it hard to get a photo, haha. It was such a great deviance from the standard slowly-turn-in-a-circle first dances that you usually see. Though I will admit, I did get a little misty during the father-daughter dance.

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As soon as the dances were done, plates of cake began making their way past me. I wasted NO TIME in snagging a slice in each flavor: lemon raspberry and napoleon! Sean and I shared our slices and they were a literally sweet ending to an even sweeter evening. We spent the rest of the night dancing and partying and photoboothing it up. Like I said, an amaaaaaazing wedding!

Anne & Matt are on their mini-moon right now, and I seriously wish them every happiness as they embark on this next phase of their relationship together. As my sister said in her speech: to love, laughter, and happily ever after!

Man, I love weddings.

B&B (& B… & B)

Saturday, 17 ladies climbed into a bus to celebrate the bachelorette AND birthday of the loverly Miss Anne P. B & B. Get it? (The second and third “B”s come into play later in the story…)

The bride to be!

My older sister, Jenny, is Anne’s maid (matron?) of honor, and so is the one who organized the whole thing. The plan was to take in a couple of wineries as a group o’ ladies, and then head back to the house we met up at for a birthday barbecue that Anne’s fiance Matt was hosting!


And SPEAKING OF MY SISTER… guess what?

Preggo Jenny!

I’m going to be an aunt!!! I shot this pic of her this weekend (after crying — er, twice — upon seeing her newly popped li’l baby bump) and then our brother worked some of his Photoshop magic to edit the sign. Her husband Dan wasn’t able to make the trip back to DC with her this time (they recently moved to Houston), so mentally I just superimpose him somewhere in the frame, hahaha. Little Baby Robinson (or, as Jenny so dotingly refers to him/her, “Blob”) is coming to the world in March!! Eeeeeep!!!!! πŸ˜€ So there you have it: the 2nd “B” stands for… BABY!

Oh, and remember this post about the birthday wine tour that we all went on for Jenny’s own 30th birthday? Well, as it turned out, the little minx tricked us all. She had JUST found out she was pregnant and didn’t want to tell anyone yet… so she FAKED all her wine tastings! None of us suspected a thing — we even caught her “drinking” on video! Tricksy, tricksy hobbitses sister. Deception must run in the Powell blood. Haha!

Nope, I’m not excited to be an aunt. Not at all. I’m not going to spoil that baby rotten or anything. πŸ˜‰

Okay, okay, back to the post at hand (I say as I wipe yet another round of happiness tears from my cheeks, keke). Unfortunately, we got off to a little bit of a late start, as the bus that was coming to pick us up broke down on the way to us (womp womp) and they had to send another one. So, the 1 PM kickoff got pushed to 2 PM, but eventually we were off!

There was wine drinkage on the way to the wineries, obvi.

The first winery we hit up was called La Grange, in Haymarket, VA.


The wines were good but the experience was kind of blah. There was a wedding going on at the same time, so the group-organizer-lady-person didn’t have a lot of time to pay attention to our group (which is understandable!). The wine was delicious though, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous.

The woman of the hour(s) and me

After La Grange, we piled back into the bus and headed over to Pearmund Cellars in Broad Run, VA. Now, here we definitely got our money’s worth!


They gave us a private group tasting back in the fermenting room. Our tasting guide was super friendly and really knowledgeable AND we got to try unfiltered wines straight from the steel vats! They tasted like grape juice. Delicious, slightly fizzy, cloudy, amazing-tasting grape juice. Mmmmm.


Several bottles of wine were purchased post-tasting, and eventually it was time to head home. We had a party to get back to, after all! Unfortunately, however, that’s when the night hit a bit of a snag…

Believe it or not, the bus that we had been riding on (the SECOND bus that the transportation company — Access Limousine, I do NOT recommend — had sent, let me remind you) BROKE DOWN. Right on the road outside the winery. We had to wait over 90 minutes for them to send another bus out to us (since we were almost an hour outside of DC) and take us back. It was definitely a huge bummer and a big break in the momentum of the day. Of course, we all tried to make the best of it!

At least the scenery was beautiful!

So the third and final “B” stands for “bus”. Or “breakdown”. Or “bus breakdown”. The Pearmund Cellars people were SO nice and sympathetic to our plight. They gave use free crudite platters and let us chill on their porch until the rescue bus came. Sadly, we weren’t allowed to drink any of the wine we had just purchased due to county laws, but they were still very hospitable. The poor employees stayed until we left, sacrificing part of their own Saturday night so that we could have bathroom access!


Finally, around 8 PM, the third (oy!) bus came to get us, and we arrived back at the BBQ just before 9. Granted, it was about 3 hours later than we had originalyl planned but all’s well that ends well! Hopefully Anne still had an amazing time — I know I was certainly thrilled to have been able to celebrate with her! We will all be reuniting at the wedding in less than 3 weeks, too. SO MANY THINGS HAPPENING!

A fANNEtastic Bridal Shower

Oh hai! I hope you all had fun and/or relaxing weekends. Mine was definitely a bit of both! My sister (who recently moved to Houston) was back in town to fulfill one of her sacred Maid of Honor duties for Anne: the bridal shower!

The bride making sure the details go on Instagram, hehe.

Anne and her bridesmaids

I’ve mentioned a few times that my older sister (in pink above) is BFFs with fellow healthy living/food blogger, Anne P. The two of them went to high school together, so I’ve actually known Anne for a huge chunk of my life! In fact, her blog is the very one that inspired me to create my own! Knowing her in real life is what led me to start reading her blog, and then I asked my older brother (who helped Anne set hers up in the beginning) to help me get one started too!

Flash forward a couple of years, and Anne and I have gotten close in our own right: we’ve gone to several blogging conferences together and will be both rocking the Healthy Living Summit together in a week and a half, too!

Me, Anne, and my sister!

The bridal shower was honestly one of the nicest ones I’ve ever been to. It was super classy and actually really fun, even though I only knew three other people who were there. It gave me a lot of confidence for my sister’s planning abilities when it comes to my own future, someday bridal shower. πŸ˜‰

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I was happy to volunteer as photographer for the day so that Anne could enjoy the festivities and not have to worry about getting photos in for her own blog. Be sure to check out her own recap post, too!

Antique china and tea set

Lara, Jenny, and Gena


The spread was awesome. The bridesmaids (plus Anne’s mom) did it like a fancy tea party, which meant finger sandwiches (love!), cheese plates, fruit, and tiny desserts.


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My personal favorites of the bunch were these:


Jenny and I made up these mini peach and cherry pies the night before the shower. Making things in miniature is definitely a lot more work, but the result is approximately 83% cuter so I think it’s worth it.


After we had all stuffed ourselves on teeny tiny sandwiches, it was time for PRESENTS!


The bridesmaids incorporated a couple of fun games into the present-opening. One of them was a game of Bridal Shower Bingo, where we were given blank bingo sheets and told to fill it out with all the gifts we THOUGHT Anne would receive. Then, we could cross them off as she opened them!


I guess I must have a knack for guessing housewares, because I won one of the two prizes!


I got these sweet reusable cup with a Starbucks giftcard tucked inside. Score!


The other game was a kind of play on the Newlyweds Game. The bridesmaids had asked Matt (the groom) a bunch of questions before the shower, and Anne had to guess what his answers were. For every answer she got wrong, she had to stuff a huge gumball in her mouth. In the photo above, she’s celebrating getting an answer right, but by the end she must have had 5 or 6 gumballs swirling around in there!

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Totally hilarious.

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I’m not going to lie, I was hit with a serious case of gift-envy as Anne opened her presents. Among them was a Vitamix (jealous!), adorable mugs from Anthropologie, and a gorgeous glass serving bowl from Tiffany! I can’t wait until I have my own reason for my friends to shower me with kitchenwares someday. You’d think that’s a sarcastic statement, but I’m 100% serious. I mean, you guys saw how I reacted when Sean got me a french oven for my birthday. Can you even imagine the sheer amount of glee that will spew forth when I’m in Anne’s position one day? Oh, the dream… πŸ˜€


No present could really top what the bridesmaids all went in on together for the bride-to-be, though. They crafted a cookbook for Anne out of all the recipes from her blog!

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It’s so, so neat. The recipes are printed out with a photo from her blog, and are organized in sections. It is such a perfect and thoughtful present for her.

The brightest sisters EVER

Like I said, it was a really wonderful (dare I say, fANNEtastic? Hyuk, hyuk.) shower, and I was so happy to be able to be a part of it. Congratulations again, Anne!

Have a great Monday everyone!