Harry Potter and the Epic Party (Part 1)

Ahoy-hoy, friends! I hope you all had a MAGICAL weekend, because I know I sure did! My 24th birthday party took place on Saturday and as you are all more than aware, it was Harry Potter-themed! Since I’d been touting my excitement for this party for far too long, there was always a chance that the build-up would outdo the actual party itself. Luckily, I’m glad to report that I had a smashing time! And hopefully my party guests — Muggles and Wizards and House Elves alike — did as well.


An amazing shot that Ben got of Dobby/Taylor and Harry/me before the party.

My wonderful brother graciously played the role of photographer for most of the night, so you’ll have to wait just a little longer for photos from the party itself (the costumes that some people came up with were amazing!). Before things got kicking, however, I did make sure to capture detail shots of the decorations, food, drinks, and whatnot. Prepare yourselves for a photo schmorgasbord of Potteriffic proportions! (Consider this your official nerd alert!)

IMG_6581
IMG_6515 IMG_6517
The foyer, all done up.

IMG_6477 Dumbledax!
Dumbledax!

IMG_6466
Order of Merlin: First Class & Chief Wizard of the Wizengamot

Gryffindor
Harry the Gryffindor Lion!

Common Room IMG_6488
Stanley the Pygmy Puff kept watch over the Common Room.

Dungeons
The basement became the Dungeons, naturally!

Astronomy Tower
While Hedwig guarded the entrance to the Astronomy Tower upstairs.

Chamber of Secrets Basilisk
Guests who dared enter the Chamber of Secrets had to avoid the stare of our baby basilisk…

Potions Lab
… if they hoped to make it to the Potions Lab, where the real fun began!

Potions Lab
Cauldrons Brewing
There was a Butterbeer station as well as a batch of Polyjuice Potion (Vodka Lemonade + Blue Curacao) all brewed up!

Veritaserum
Felix Felicis
The Felix Felicis (Goldschlager) and Veritaserum (Pinnacle Whipped) shots ended up being quite popular!

Liquid Luck

Butterbeer Bites Butterbeer Jelly Shot
As were these DELICIOUS Butterbeer Jelly Shots (thanks for the tip, Dani!!)

The Lost Diadem
Can you spot the Lost Diadem of Ravenclaw?

Georgetown Cupcakes! Bernie Bott's Every Flavour Beans
And of course, we can’t forget about the food…!

Chocolate Frogs
Chocolate Frogs I made using this mold, some stuffed with Maple Almond Butter, some with cookie dough!

Golden Snitches
Golden Snitch cakepops

Snitch Cake Pops

Muggle Munchies
Mandrake Roots
Muggle Munchies, Mandrake Roots, and the piece de resistance…

Hogwarts Cupcakes
Georgetown, I mean, Hogwarts Cupcakes!!

Ravenclaw - Coconut Gryffindor - Red Velvet
Hufflepuff - Vanilla and Chocolate Slytherin - Key Lime
Ravenclaw: Coconut; Gryffindor: Red Velvet; Slytherin: Key Lime; Hufflepuff: Vanilla with Chocolate Frosting

So yes, maybe to some this seems like a dork gone overboard. But to me, it was the makings of an awesome party atmosphere! And judging by the way I felt Sunday morning, it was a rockin’ party, too. Stay tuned for Part 2!

Happy Monday!

Bioluminescence

First things first, let me take a hot sec to say CONGRATULATIONS to my friend Holly, who got married yesterday! I unfortunately couldn’t go back to Ottawa to attend the wedding, but hopefully she felt the good vibes I was sending her way all yesterday. πŸ™‚

But okay, back to us non-married folk. Traditionally (er, in college), Thursday were known as a pretty hoppin’ night of the week. It would give Friday a run for its money. And since I’ll be spending the majority of tonight quivering in fear at the thought of tomorrow’s 15K race, I coerced my roommate into doing something fun last night instead!

Roomies

And what are two gals-about-town to do on a Thursday night?

Olephant!

Why, head to the Museum of Natural History for food, wine, and an awesome exhibit, of course! I felt so classy, getting all dolled up for a nighttime viewing of the new deep sea-inspired light installation exhibit, “The Bright Beneath“. When my dad suggested this event to me (it’s part of the Smithsonian’s “Mingle at the Museum” series), my roommate Erin and I took one look at each other before declaring that these are exactly the kinds of grown up events we are dying to take part in!

The Bright Beneath

After a bit of a Metro adventure (aren’t they all?) and a museum mix-up (NATURAL history, not AMERICAN history, Gretchen!) we made our way there. I was so excited at the prospect of getting to tour a museum after hours! It felt very elite, hahaha.

Rock LobsterSea SpiderLearning is Fun!

We got to walk around the entire Oceans section of the museum, which the exhibit was part of (the other areas were unfortunately, but understandably, closed off). There were only maybe 40 or 50 people in attendance at the event, so it was very private. As Erin pointed out while we were there, it was extra awesome getting to check out all the displays without worrying about running over (or being run over by) little kids.

Ocean Planet

The event also had little carts set up where we got to talk to field experts about various ocean life and bioluminescence-related things. One of the carts had a (dead) anglerfish for us to check out. Remember what that is?

Yep, it’s the huge scary deep-sea fish monster from Finding Nemo! Well, as it turns out…

In real life? Not so huge. I think they did some serious proportion-tweaking for the sake of the movie, haha. But admittedly, it was still pretty scary. And pretty cool. There really was something for everyone at this event, including specially-themed noms!

Yum?

Bahahahaha. Just kidding. The food was not weird, not themed, but still delicious.

AppsVelvet

There was a selection of apps, which included mini chicken cordon bleu bites and an awesome saffron (!) shrimp cocktail, as well as mini cupcakes. Erin got a carrot cake one while I opted for a red velvet. I also got one of their specialty cocktails (a drink ticket was included with admission to the event), which had orange juice, ginger-flavored vodka, and sparkling wine. Delicious!

Tubed

In the same room where they were serving the food and drinks, they had this crazy plastic bag snake-tube thing. We got there too late to hear the schpiel on exactly what it was supposed to represent, but it didn’t take long to figure out how much fun it was!

Whee!
MazeBagged
Halp?Ack!

A little too much fun, perhaps. What was all that about feeling all classy and grown up? Keke.

Bagged 2.

On to the main event: the actual exhibit we were there to see!

Deep Sea

The artist constructed these awesome mechanical, moving light installations that were equipped with plastic bag “tentacles” to represent the kinds of creatures that are found at deep sea level. The lights simulated the bioluminescence that those creatures use — like in the lure of the anglerfish above!

1.
2.3.

The installations spun and rotated as they hung from the ceiling, and displayed different colors and light patterns. They were really very neat! Though the ones that had digital eyes as part of their video display were a little bit creepy. Didn’t get really any photos of those though… possibly on purpose.

I would say that it definitely qualified as a fun and unique way to spend my Thursday. For those of you in the area, I definitely recommend getting down to the Natural History Museum and checking out the exhibit! It runs until January 8th. And, in case you needed a reminder, it’s FREEEEE! Gotta love that Smithsonian!

What’s your favorite kind of museum? Erin is a self-proclaimed lover of art museums (bo-ring!), while I’m an Air & Space gal all the way. Last night’s visit only confirmed that I need to revisit the Natural History museum though. Another thing to add to the list!

Oh Heyyyy, Ottawa!

So I had promised myself that I wouldn’t do a big long recap of my Ottawa trip, since I did exactly that after my last trip back in February. Buuuut, we all know how good I am at sticking to my convictions, hahaha.

IMG_2461 IMG_2466

My parents happened to be in town at the same time as me (as part of a big Canadian road trip), so I spent most of Friday hanging out with them and gambling my dad’s money away at the Casino du Lac-Leamy. But the following day, as you may already know from yesterday’s vlog, my friend Ai Rei took me to The Works, my most favoritest burger joint with the most creative topping combinations I’ve seen to this day!

IMG_2462

We started out with some small shakes – chocolate almond for me, and avocado (!!) for her. Both were uhhhhmazing. Unfortunately, the waiter didn’t ask how we wanted our burgers cooked, and I forgot to offer the information voluntarily, so they came out well-done. SOB.

IMG_2468

Luckily, the patty was covered in approximately 6.3 pounds of cheese, so it still tasted pretty good!

IMG_2470
Proof.

Aaaaand, sweet potato fries on the side. I know, I know. But this was pretty much the only heinously unhealthy meal I had while in Ottawa, so take that as you will.

IMG_2477

All of downtown Ottawa is very reasonably walkable, and we needed to get some movement in after that lunch anyway. So we traipsed down to Glitz Cupcakes and Company and split a few mini cupcakes. Then we just wandered around the Byward Market area for a while, taking in the shops and fun Fall sights!

IMG_2482

I am saddened by the fact that I never paid attention to all the amazing fresh produce stands and local butchers and fishmongers back when I lived here! Oh hindsight, you rose-colored devil.

IMG_2490
IMG_2489IMG_2493

Oddly enough, I have yet to find a bubble milk tea place down here that matches the kind that I can get up in Ottawa (though, of course, even that is NOTHING compared to the real stuff from Taipei!) And though our wandering probably seemed pretty aimless, we did have an eventual goal.

IMG_2498
BEAVERTAIL TIME!!!

My beloved beavertail (fried dough smothered in cinnamon sugar, gwahaha) was waiting for me! But, because I really am trying to be “good”, we split this sucker in half. You can even see the line down the middle, hehe.

IMG_2497

If ever there were an appropriate time for this: NOMNOMNOM. So much deliciousness. And more was to come, since that same night was the Halloween-themed wedding shower for my friend Holly and her fiance Scott!

IMG_2501
Lovebirds.

IMG_2537

I spent the night catching up with old friends, drinking wine poured from bottles labeled “Spider Venom” and “Toxic Waste” (mmm, so deliciously deadly…), and eating my fill of strange Canadian candy.

IMG_2511IMG_2512

Smarties down here are NOT the same as Smarties up there! (Fact: theirs are better.)

IMG_2509

There was a pumpkin carving competition too. Our team (Rei, Michael, Lucas, and moi) brought our A-game, and did NOT produce a vomiting pumpkin.

IMG_2517 Carving

Nope, instead we ended up with…

Whasian Pumpkin
A Whasian Pumpkin!

Bahahaha, and can you believe we didn’t WIN?! It was rigged! Rigged, I tell you!

Team Whasian

I also took pity on a poor, uncarved pumpkin (there ended up being more pumpkins than teams) and made a sad (literally!) attempt at carving it on my own.

Sad Pumpkin is Sad
Sad pumpkin is sad.

Other festivities included a toilet paper ZOMBIE-bride game, and the most inventive themed dinner EVER.

IMG_2534 IMG_2535

Seriously, however they came up with this dinner concept, I was impressed. It took a lot of effort for the hosts to coordinate, that’s for sure!

>IMG_2525

Let me try to explain how it worked. We were each given a list of spooky dishes, then told to number them in the order we would want to receive our courses. Then we had to trade lists with the person across from us. THEN we find out that our napkin and cutlery were included in the list!

IMG_2539IMG_2541
IMG_2540IMG_2542

What this meant, of course, is that not only did most of us end up receiving pumpkin pie as our appetizer, many of us didn’t have anything to eat it with but our hands! I ate my main course with just a knife. Skillz, I tell you. Everything was actually quite manageable and hilarious until it was time for the “dessert course”.

IMG_2544

Which, for me, ended up being a fork, a spoon, and my napkin. Womp wommmmmp. Ah well, at least everyone else thought it was funny. So I ate up their attention for dessert instead. Also, popcorn that I stole from the living room.

IMG_2548IMG_2549

The trip ended with Lucas, Ai Rei, Michael and me back together and brunching it up at the Mayflower Pub with an incredibly healthy and not-at-all artery-clogging eggs florentine. Then before long, it was time to say goodbye yet again! These trips always seem to go by so fast. I attribute that to having had so much fun with my friends, as well as to The Hunger Games books. Which I started on the plane up to Ottawa, and had finished by the time the plane back had touched down. So, yeah. Another thing meant for teenagers that I am now inappropriately obsessed with. We’ll have to talk about that.

When you visit home (or college, or just a place you’ve lived before), what are your priorities? See old friends? Eat at your favorite restaurants? Check out the changes that have been made in your absence? I tried to do all of these things, but as a result felt like there wasn’t a lot of time to enjoy each thing. Guess that just means I’ll have to go back soon. πŸ™‚

The Book of Love

Please prepare yourself for the wedding-picture smorgasbord that you are about to witness. It’s even worse than normal this time. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Love in bloom

Saturday, I went to a wedding. A beautiful, love-filled wedding. It was an absolutely perfect tribute to two of my very good friends, John-Paul and Abby. But before there was a wedding, there was a rehearsal! And following that was the rehearsal dinner, complete with good food…

IMG_1738 (2).jpgIMG_1742 (2).jpgIMG_1745 (2).jpg

Good friends…

RehearsalIMG_1753 (2)IMG_1774 (2)

And great photobomb attempts.

IMG_1765 (2)IMG_1766 (2)

But the preliminaries could only last for so long. This was just the precursor to something even better, remember?

IMG_1789
IMG_1803

Since Steve was a groomsman in the wedding, I got to tag along for the entire thing!

Photog at Large

And even though I wasn’t an official part of the wedding, Ben was the videographer so I was also there to help him out (which I did a little, when I wasn’t forcing him to take pictures of me instead, hahaha.)

IMG_1815IMG_1816IMG_1817IMG_1828

What can I say? Vanity, thy name is blogger. πŸ˜‰

The gang's all here

The two of them decided to take a shuttle around Baltimore to take photos at some scenic spots before the wedding. If the whole “can’t see each other before the ceremony” thing isn’t an issue for you, I highly recommend this! It was fun because the whole wedding party was going around together, but also really special because they had lots of time to take the photos they wanted. Ben and I both snuck in a few shots (hopefully not pissing off the awesome photographer, haha) of our own.

IMG_1882
First steps
RingbearerSteve
IMG_1856

Turns out Baltimore? Kinda beautiful despite everything I’ve learned from The Wire, hahaha.

PrepIMG_1858Maids
BouquetCallaBrooch'd

The wedding was really beautiful, and was just so completely THEM. The unique venue, the colors, the nods to Halloween (their favorite holiday, of course!), the vows… all of it spoke to their personalities perfectly, as well as their combined efforts to make the wedding meaningful and personal. Both the ceremony and reception were held at Westminster Hall, a former church (now special event venue) that also happens to be where Edgar Allen Poe was buried! Neat, right?

Some pipes!FloralIMG_1905
ChivariIMG_1942
IMG_19072nd BestMrs.?
Err, Mrs.? Hahahaha.

Of course, what kind of weight loss/food/whatever-I-am blogger would I be if I didn’t take a beat to talk about the food? Oh man, the appetizers being passed during cocktail hour were INcredible. Warm crab dip? Why thank you, Baltimore!

IMG_1995.jpgIMG_2001.jpg
IMG_2016.jpg

Also, cupcake cake. ‘Nuff said.

IMG_1947IMG_1953
Punkin BrideIMG_1925.jpgCut the Cupcake

The real marker of the wedding being thoroughly and totally THEIRS though, was the music. You can tell they put so much thought and consideration into the pieces they used. It didn’t hurt that it was all music I loved already – Joshua Radin, the theme from Friday Night Lights (amazing!)… pretty much the kind of music you’d hear on Scrubs. They even put the words to one of my favorite love songs on the back of the program… which was also the series finale song on Scrubs.

Primp

The book of love is long and boring
No one can lift the damn thing
It’s full of charts and facts and figures
And instructions for dancing
But I, I love it when you read to me
And you, you can read me anything

IMG_1961IMG_1963IMG_1964IMG_1968

The book of love has music in it
In fact, that’s where music comes from
Some of it is just transcendental
Some of it is just really dumb, but I,
I love it when you sing to me, and
You, you can sing me anything

With this ringFirst Kiss
First Dance

The book of love is long and boring
And written very long ago
It’s full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
And things we’re all too young to know, but
I, I love it when you give me things
And you, you ought to give me wedding rings

Picturesque

A Beach Wedding

Friday, I went to the beach.

FootprintsSeeeeeagullIMG_1215.jpg

And although I did stick my toes in the sand (not that there was much of a choice) there was another reason behind the trip.

Pre-Wedding Posing

Steve and I had a wedding to attend! My first beach wedding ever, in fact.

IMG_1204.jpg

The festivities couldn’t commence without self-taken pictures in the bathroom mirror of my wedding outfit though, natch.

IMG_1209.jpg

Hahahaha, I’m such a dork. I even got my nails “Shellac’d” for this gig. It’s nail polish that’s supposed to last 2+ weeks!

IMG_1205.jpg

With my track record with manicures, however, we’ll have to see how things go, haha.

IMG_1213.jpg

Steve was a groomsman in this beautiful beach wedding that took place in (or rather, on!) Rehoboth Beach, DE.

Charge
Studly.

I accompanied his parents and played the role of that obnoxious person that nobody knows who is taking too many pictures. Heehee.

Dapper
Groomsmen in Wait

The boyf performed his duties beautifully, of course.

Parents

And I only have one thing to say when it comes to the Whasian (!!!!) ring bearer and flower girl in the ceremony.

Bearer of the RingsPinwheel
O.M.G.

Let’s just get a closer look of that adorbs-ness:

Flower Girl
I die.

But of course, there was really only one star of this show.

Father of the Bride
From daughter…

Rory & Jen!
… to wife!

And with a kiss (that I failed to get a good picture of, haha) Rory and Jen were married. Congratulations, guys!

Take your seat

Time to celebrate!

Cake on the BeachSheashells

First with cocktail hour, of course. Vodka soda for me!

IMG_1270.jpgIMG_1271.jpg

In lieu of traditional throw-away favors, Rory & Jen made a donation to a no-kill animal shelter, which I loved! They have a dog, so I thought this was a fantastic way to include her in the wedding (of course, I have all sorts of plans to literally include my dogs in my someday wedding, haha. Are you surprised?)

Dedication

There was a great spread, too! The weddings I’ve been to lately have REALLY been on the ball when it comes to the eats! Let’s hope the trend continues for the next three I’ll be attending…

IMG_1259.jpg

Cocktail hour included a fruit & cheese platter, plus passed hors d’oeuvre (including the AMAZING bacon-wrapped scallop below!)

IMG_1261.jpg

And dinner started off with a spinach salad with dried cranberries, crumbled bacon, blue cheese, and a super garlicky dressing.

Ensalata

Before hitting us with a full-scale buffet of deliciousness!

IMG_1272.jpg

Prime rib AND chicken AND crab cakes, OH MY! I couldn’t even make it through my plate, there was so much food. Nommmm.

First danceTwirl
I love weddings.

The sweetest part of the whole thing (other than the cake)? Rory took dance lessons to prepare for the big day! Not to worry, though. He wasn’t the only one showing off on the dance floor:

Dance Party!
Rave on.

I even managed to get Steve to cut a rug with me for a dance or two. πŸ™‚

We stayed late to help with the clean up and whatnot, which led to its own silliness, haha.

Flowers. So hot right now.
Flowers. So hot right now. Flowers.

As you can see, it was a gorgeous wedding. 2011 Weddings: two down, three to go!

So after some deliberation, and the 249,892,348 words that made up this way-too-long post, I have made the executive decision to switch my weigh-in day. I recently received a comment on an older post suggesting I switch days from Monday to later in the week. The reasoning is that it might change my mentality about how I treat the weekends (in which I usually go balls-to-the-wall… oops.) Plus, I have to admit that it does feels weird tacking on my weigh-in to these huge weekend catch-up posts each week. We’ll see how it goes!

Purely for the alliteration, I’ve picked Wednesday as my new weigh-in day. Hopefully by then I’ll have actually kicked this cold (it has been holding on with a DEATH GRIP) and will have some happy news to report. I can’t lie, it’s been kind of nice not worrying about my weight for the past 2 weeks… but hopefully this little weigh-cation won’t end miserably… bum bum bum.

Are you a yay-weddings or nay-weddings kind of person? In case you couldn’t tell, I LOVE WEDDINGS. I fully realize I’m nowhere near getting married anytime soon, but that doesn’t stop me from watching marathons of “Say Yes to the Dress” and keeping a “Someday” board on Pinterest. You know. Just in case. πŸ˜‰

PS: Thanks so much for the kind words and amazing experiences shared through your comments on Friday’s post. If you’re ever in need of an ally in this weight-loss battle we fight, you’ll find about 25 of them there.