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The Bridal Shower

It’s shower time folks! The pictures have been trickling back to me and even though I don’t have all of them yet, I figured I’ve kept you waiting long enough.

Green Bay has lots of little towns surrounding it and one of those towns had a brand new town hall. We rented out the meeting room which was absolutely perfect for the shower. There was a nice sized kitchen just off the room and sparkling bathrooms. Plus, it was just a gorgeous day.

We had a lot of professional work done too – and it showed! Everything was just beautiful. My Mom came by to pick me up 30 minutes before the shower was set to begin and I got to say hi to the planners and take a few “before” pictures. One of Ben’s aunts used to have her own catering business. She volunteered to handle all of the food – doesn’t it all look so fancy?

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There was an incredible chicken salad which several people said was the best they’d ever tasted. I asked for the recipe and she told me it was from Costco with a few additions. Hahahaha!! Love it

My maid of honor’s father owns a bakery and made me three little bridal cakes. We had strawberry swirl, amaretto, and butter cheese. The butter cheese was so addictive I could have eaten the entire cake myself!!

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And finally, one of my friends works in a floral shop and made me these gorgeous centerpieces which we gave out as prizes. I love flowers – and they were in all my wedding colors too. :) She’s doing the centerpieces for my wedding too and I know they’ll be beautiful as well.

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I’ll readily admit I was a complete bundle of nerves before I got there. It’s definitely outside of my comfort zone to be the center of attention – plus you feel a certain pressure to live up to people’s expectations (whatever they may be) and, of course, represent Ben well to his family.

All of which can be difficult as you try to quickly and thoughtfully navigate through a mountain of presents. At first I thought there must have been some wedding wrapping paper sale at Walmart until people told me that Bed, Bath, and Beyond provides a wrapping station for people. hand, don’t you think? I never know about these things. :)

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We ate our food and my mother led everyone in a few cute bridal games. I didn’t want anything where people would have to run around and do crazy things, so she did a cute multiple choice game about wedding traditions in other cultures and then a fun take on the “Newlywed Game”. Mom had asked ben 30 questions and I had to match his answers. I actually was super confident I was going to knock this out of the park (I know Ben really well) but… I only got 13 out of the 30 right!! Re-count, re-count!!! :)

Me and my MoH:

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As people finished their cake, I got started unwrapping gifts. It felt like Christmas – in July. I ended up, oddly enough, with a few duplicate gifts off my registry. No problem though – I have tons of stuff left on there that we really want so we’ll swap out for anything we end up not getting.

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We had bridal bingo for the guests where they crossed off items that I unwrapped. We had three almost immediate winners… and found out they used their smart phones to sneak a peek at my registry. Girls!!!

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With 15 minutes or so left, the man of the hour showed up to a round of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. One of the trivia questions asked was my favorite Christmas song and I explained how Ben hates it when I bellow carols in the car – in October. So we thought we’d freak him out with a Christmas tune. It worked. :)

He was all smiles though when he discovered one of the gifts had HIS name on it and not mine!

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We made quick work of taking things down after the shower and Ben helped me load the goods into the car so we could drop them off before heading to my bachelorette party.

I won’t lie, it’s awkward because I’m not that great at this sort of thing but boy does it make you feel special that so many people show up to wish you well and be there to help you celebrate. :) I had several friends able to attend as well and that made it even more wonderful. So I’m hoping now that I survived this with a cracked smile on my face that I can survive the wedding too.

I just keep telling myself that with Ben there, no one will focus on me at all – they’ll all be staring at him… right? right

100 Miles Done

Yesterday I submitted my final week of steps for the 100 mile, 28 day challenge. I logged a little over 60,000 steps last week bringing my grand step total to 254,175 or roughly 127 miles. I remember when I did the challenge two years ago and hit 200 miles, everything hurt all over my body and I didn’t lose any weight. This time around I haven’t been sore much at all, but I’m exhausted. Seriously, the second my head hits the pillow I am out cold – and remain oblivious to everything until morning. Bottom line, if you’re looking to sleep better: exercise.

Last night Ben got home a little early so we would have time to get ready for 5pm Body Pump. We’d basically thrown the last 3 months of our gym memberships out the window while we were at boot camp, but it was so worth it. It was funny, as we were setting up our bar bells for class, I caught Ben’s eye and we both grimaced a little bit. We miss boot camp already! Pump is fun but it’s very monotonous and that was what we liked so much about our hiatus – each workout was different from the last one.

We did Pump workout #90 – which was lots of 4-series exercises (4 low squats followed by 4 high squats, 4 low lunges followed by 4 high lunges, etc…). Our favorite teacher was there, which helped a lot too. What was amusing was how quickly the climate changes. I think I only recognized one person in the entire class! Usually I’ll recognize at least 3/4 of the group. Summer vacations maybe?

When we got home, it was time to make some dinner. I had Ben get started on hamburger patties while I went to harvest another crop of green beans.

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I had one random potato lying around so I peeled and diced him and cooked the potato and beans together. A quick drain and then I added chopped garlic onions and cilantro from the garden.

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I tossed it all with a little shredded cheese and ended up with this awesome cheesy potato side.

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I could definitely see making it again – it was surprisingly good and the onions and cilantro thrown in at the end really added something interesting and exciting to it.

I whipped through another 10 thank-yous last night and only have 4 more to go! I’m cruising. A big wind front pushed through around 9pm and swept away all that nasty 90 degree weather. Today the high is a Ali-approved 75 degrees. Sounded like someone will be taking a long walk tonight and whipping through her final thank-yous. Perfect evening. I can’t wait. :)

Have a great day!

Checking it Off the List

Now that I have the bachelorette party and shower behind me (which I still need to recap), it’s time to buckle down and get working on knocking more things off the wedding to-do list. I have resorted to using theknot’s checklist because I have no idea what I’m supposed to do. Ok, I know a lot of what I’m supposed to do, but it’s nice to have a double-check.

Ben has had the task of researching possible honeymoon locations. We discussed budget and then I let him take care of it all… so I was amused when the travel agent proposed all these super-pricey locations. I guess Ben doubled our budget just to “see what was out there”. He got back down to realistic business and we’re officially booked for a lovely week in Punta Cana. I’d always assumed we’d be in Jamaica or Mexico but a resort popped up that was even a bit below budget (when does that happen?) so we went for it. I don’t usually like to leave in the early Fall because it’s my favorite time of year, but we also didn’t want to wait until Jan/Feb to take our honeymoon.

I have a good chunk of my shower thank-yous done and sitting in a pile on the kitchen table. Last night I found out that the place I wanted to order my wedding programs from is having a 50% off sale that ends TODAY – so I’ll be switching gears tonight to see if I can get the programs finished and ordered. Back to thank-yous tomorrow!

We’re on the 2nd day of a 2-day heat wave. It’s been in the high 80s with plenty of humidity. I think the plants are enjoying the sunshine (but maybe not the lack of overall water – there’s only so much water lugging a girl can do).

Goliath is still looking big and beautiful. I’m hoping he’ll turn yellow and then I’ll pick him.

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My cilantro has gotten so high it’s now flowering…

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I also learned my lesson about planting lots of spinach and butter lettuce. We just don’t eat it quickly enough. Now I have ridiculously far-gone plants that need to be ripped out. Maybe I’ll re-plant 1/4 of the area with new stuff. Maybe.

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(My toes are in there for perspective)

The whole garden is looking jam-packed with greenery but not a lot of food production. I’m really hoping for a lot of pepper growth – I planted a lot more this year in the hopes of getting enough for a good freezer bag full.

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Back in the world of wedding prep, my RSVP count is up to 70 people. There’s a little over a month before they are due back and I have a feeling we’ll be getting a bunch more in a few weeks. Still budgeting for around 150 people. Now I’m left pondering odd questions: do I go for a round of teeth whitening? do I fake-bake for a bit of a tan or just try and get outside a little more? Do I buy all the wedding favors at once or just little packs as people RSVP?

So still plenty to do but things are getting done too, which is awesome. I think the next couple of weeks will feel a bit like a transition as Ben and I work out a new exercise schedule too. Tonight we’re heading back to Body Pump. I already miss boot camp, but we knew it was too pricey for something we’d consider long-term. Plus now we have lots of workout ideas to do at home.

Well, time to head out into the heat. Hopefully that colder front pushes through tonight and cools things down!

Bachelorette Partying

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Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Was it total craziness like mine??

I spent ALL day Friday hunting through stores looking for something suitable to wear to my bridal shower. I temporarily gave up, went to get a pedicure so I’d at least have cute toes, and went home to wait for Ben. Sensing I could use a little support, Ben volunteered to come along with me so we could find something together. It was a lot more fun having him along but in the end I went home completely empty-handed. How does that happen!

Feeling a little defeated, I went to show Ben my cute new nails only to find out that the polish had smudged when it was still a little wet – so then I had a crazy looking toe too. Oh well! Sometimes, that’s how it goes. :)

Boot camp

We got up early on Saturday for our FINAL boot camp class. I think I miss it already just typing that. There were three stations with 3 exercises per station. You had 5 minutes at a station and then a minute of transition with two rounds. The tricky part was that at the top of each minute you had to stop wherever you were and start over from the top. So the incentive was to go quickly through your exercises so that you’d have a bit of a rest before starting it over again.

The stations:

  • 5 burpees, 10 skull crushers, 15 jumps (jumping as far across the room as you can)
  • 5 tuck jumps, 10 ring rows, 15 banded upright rows
  • 5 weighted sit-ups, 10 spiderman planks, 15 squat jumps

The skull crushers definitely get me. I’m still feeling those today! Now that we’re done with boot camp, the trick will be to find a schedule for our old gym and then get into a new pattern of exercise so we can keep up with the progress we’ve made.

We went home, watered the garden and took showers. Then it was time for my shower! I’m waiting to get some pictures back from friends/family so I’ll recap that later. After the shower I went home to unload the goods and change, and then we went over to my MoH’s house for the bachelorette party.

There was quite the array of party items – from the amusing to the NSFB (not safe for blog).

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Every person got a new name for the night!

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It’s such a weird dichotomy for all of this shower/party/wedding stuff. I’m not used to being the center of attention or for people really doing things like this for me – so it’s semi uncomfortable but at the same time so wonderfully sweet to have people who are excited for me and want to celebrate. :)

So, you go with it and just have a good time, right?

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That is me, so stylish!!

We invited the men-folk so it would be more casual and laid-back. We all mingled and got our first round of drinks and then the boys headed downstairs for Rock Band while the girls hung out upstairs chatting and listening to music.

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Even the downstairs was decorated!

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Of course – everyone loves Ben, especially animals. Our friends’ dog absolutely adores Ben and loves to get attention whenever Ben comes over. I thought this was the sweetest picture…

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We did a LOT of karaoke and there were some pretty drunk people by the end of the night. I’ve never been big into excessive drinking and from the time we arrived (4pm) to the time we left (1:30am), I had just 3 drinks. I was surprised I managed to stay awake that long too – it was a very long day with the emotional build-up before the shower. I don’t know how people are not somewhat nervous for stuff like that, but in the end it all turned out just fine. :)

And now there’s just about 8 weeks left to go before the big day! I’m starting to wonder what I’ll do with myself once it’s all over with. lol

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53 days to go!!

 

Raise Your Hand – TGIF?

I don’t know about all of you, but I am so thrilled it’s Friday. I woke up 2 hours before my alarm went off, couldn’t really fall back to sleep, and then ended up groggily waking up after Ben started poking my lifeless body wondering why I wasn’t already downstairs working on packing lunches. :) Maybe I need a nap?

My beautiful lily has bit the bunny dust…

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It had been so gorgeous before the rabbit damage – but I’m fortunate I got to enjoy it for a while this year. I hope one day it can grow and spread so I’ll have a nice cluster.

Before:

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Last night we went and tried out a new restaurant/winery. It was “interesting”. I forgot to upload the pictures so except an amusing recap later. I also didn’t have luck finding a dress or skirt to wear to the shower tomorrow – so I’ll be back out today hunting something down.

Oh yeah, and Mom is making me a peach pie. I may face-plant into my slice and fall asleep amid the delight of  homemade double crust, fresh peaches, and whipped cream. Mmmm

Meanwhile – I’m running late so need to scurry off to work! Shower tomorrow – eeeek!! :) :)

Pushing it to the limit!

Woo – look at me work it! Last night was competition Wednesday at the gym. It’s been a while since we’ve gone to a Wednesday class and I’d forgotten how much I enjoy the motivation to go the extra mile. In the beginning of boot camp, I dreaded competition day because I was slow and worried I would let my team down. Last night there were just 4 of us in class and it was an individual competition called “1000 Reps”

Competition Rules:

30 minute countdown – each person to complete as many of the 1000 reps as possible. They can break it up any way they want. After 30 minutes, record either the time you finished or how many reps you were able to complete during the timeframe:

100 of each:

  • Kettle bell thrusters
  • Mountain climbers
  • Sit ups
  • Dips
  • Push-ups
  • Ball slams
  • Wall balls
  • Banded curls
  • Banded upright rows
  • Jumping jacks

Looking at all the results on the board, I could tell this was a tough challenge. Only TWO people actually finished all of this in the allotted timeframe. I started out thinking I’d tackle everything in 4 rounds of 25 reps each. I quickly learned that the sit ups were going to be my downfall – they are hard for me and take a long time. I tackled 15 of them, went to the dips, went back and did the remaining 10 and then carried on with the rest. I tackled 50 mountain climbers right off the bat and 50 jumping jacks. Both are quick and easy to cruise on if you are already doing them. It takes more time switching from exercise to exercise.

I was tuckering out quite a bit after the first round, but on pace, so I decided to do just 15 reps in the second round – but got to skip over the climbers and jacks. From there I just marked with chalk where I was and grouped similar things together so it was easier to go back and forth. For example, I would do 10 ball slams, then 10 wall balls, and then back to 10 ball slams again. Since I was already holding the medicine ball, the transitions were quicker and I didn’t tucker out as quickly because I was switching exercises. I did have to stop a few times to get some extra air and sip water.

Finishing was the 50 quickest jumping jacks of my life. Guess who became the THIRD person to finish before time ran out? :) I did it in 28:01 – the second fastest time. Woooooooo! Ben was so close – he had just 3 jumping jacks left to do before time. I think he wishes he’d hustled just a touch more so he would have made it too. It was rough and I felt like I wanted to pass out after, lol. I’m also noticing that nasty tightness in my shoulder blade once again. Hopefully that isn’t here to stay for long.

We got home, Ben hopped into the shower, and I got started on dinner. We had bought this awesome-looking tri-colored quinoa from Trader Joe’s and I wanted to try it out. Rinse and drain to start!

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We thought we’d make the Mexican rice dish we love but use the quinoa instead of the brown rice and add some grilled chicken to beef it up on the protein. The end result was a bright and colorful dinner!

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We ate ours with a handful of red hot blues corn chips. They were spicy chips though and I think next time we’d probably go back to the usual tortilla chip. Also, as delicious as this always is, it definitely tastes better the longer it sits. The flavors have a chance to develop and if you eat it right after you prepare it (like we did) then it’s almost a little bland. Luckily we have leftovers for either tonight or tomorrow.

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Tonight I need to start hunting around looking for something to wear to my shower. Nothing like waiting till the last minute but I wasn’t interested in shopping. So I’ll start tonight and then if I need to venture out again tomorrow, I can.

Here’s something exciting – we got some engagement photos back! This shot is grainy because I blew it up from a link. I need to download my favorites tonight so I can get some ordered and then I’ll re-size and show you all what we came up with.

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On that note – it’s time for work. Friday is on the horizon!

Rocking the 40lb kettle bell

Hello blog world. My name is Ali and I’m a kettle swinging bad-a$$. ;) Last night’s boot camp included kettle bell swings and normally I use the popular 20lb bell but Ben reached for the 30 and I decided to as well. Let me tell you, 10 pounds makes a huge difference. On the final round I was feeling like I wanted to go all-out, and I picked up the whopping 40lb bell. Oh boy! Ha ha it was heavy! Let me tell you, you can definitely cheat exercises with light weights but if you don’t have proper form on heavier stuff, you learn to correct immediately!

Last night we had 4 stations, 5 rounds, 2 min on and 1 min transition. Those two minutes seemed awfully long on some of the stations!

  • 5 crunches & 5 leg raises
  • 5 wall balls & 5 burpees
  • jumping rope
  • 5 kettle bell swings & 5 pushups

I used to be a really good jump-roper (in second grade, lol) but now it’s hard to keep that going for 2 minutes. My calves were in danger of ripping. Eeep!

My first peach was ripe enough to eat last night. It was absolutely wonderful. I’m thinking about getting another bushel in a few weeks when the truck comes back and then slicing them all up and freezing them so I can use them throughout the year.

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Weird thing, at some point between June and July, all the photos on my blog started loading 1/4 smaller than in the past. I wonder if I accidentally hit a setting on my camera that changed something. It’s annoying so I need to find a way to fix it.

It’s restaurant week here in Green Bay, which means many of the local restaurants offer special menus at lower price points. Sometimes it’s a great deal, sometimes it’s not. We hit an earlier boot camp class last night, got home, showered, and realized dinner was still frozen – so we went out for Mexican!

I went with the 3-course $10 special. My appetizer was a chicken quesadilla. Ben opted for a spicy pepperjack queso dip, so I ended up giving him half of my quesadilla and he slathered some of his dip on it.

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We each got the queso burrito as our main course:

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It was actually a small burrito compared to most restaurants but neither of us made much headway. We ate half and packaged the rest up. Lunch today!

For the dessert round I picked the fried ice cream and Ben went with the warm apple chimi. Ben’s dessert won hands down – delicious!

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We have boot camp again tonight. Since it’s our last week we’re trying to get in a couple additional workout sessions. Might as well go all out in the end! If it weren’t so expensive, we’d definitely keep going. We’re considering doing another 3 months over the winter when we need more motivation to work out. We’ll see…

Still working with the photographers to get my engagement photos. Not sure why it’s taking so long. :( Shower is just a few days away and I want to have a picture by then! :)

Time to hit the road for work. Have a great day!

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