31 January, 2013

Here I Go Again {A Book Review}

Ever wonder what a Back-to-the-Future meets A Christmas Carol meets A Disney Channel Original Movie would look like? (Okay, I'm the only one?)

 Well, look no further, Here I Go Again by Jen Lancaster hit a homerun for that niche read. No seriously, it's hilarious and amazing, especially if you lived through the 90s at all.

Admittedly I did not like the first few chapters of the book.  When I first met the main character / narrator, Lissy, I thought she was too self absorbed to the point of boredom on my end.  And I was insulted by the way she described her SAHM friends and their children.

However, the authors witty writing kept me captivated enough to finish the book and I’m glad I did.

In the story, we find the main character at her 20 year high school reunion.  She quickly realizes that no one likes her because she was so mean, like Mean Girls mean, to them in high school.  

She wakes up on a hippy classmate’s couch the morning after the reunion. Her husband having left her.

That hippy girl just happened to be her key to the future. Or should I say past?

Without knowing what she was getting herself into, Lissy drank a potion and suddenly found herself in her 17 year old body facing her high school days all over again. Will she? Won't she? Who does she marry?

With several opportunities for a do-overs Lissy finds the right balance of being amiable and belittling.

This lighthearted hilarious read turned out to be soul food.  It made me stop to think how my words and actions affect those around me making this book worth the read!

Join me over at Blogher.com for additional discussions on Here I Go Again.
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"This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own." 

24 January, 2013

Katie and Sam's Enchanted Evening

Welcome to Katie and Sam's couple's wedding shower.

As a groomsman and the matron of honor (ew) / best-ish friend of the groom and sister of the bride, Eric and I wanted to honor Sam and Katie with a couple's shower.  I knew Katie's girlfriends would love to throw girlie-girl showers for the ladies.  Since that's not my thing, and since Eric and I are both in the wedding party we decided a couple's shower for our families, family friends, and Sam's friends would be perfect.
As little girls Katie and I's late grandfather used to sing "Some Enchanted Evening" to us at random whispered into our ears.  It's such a special memory of him that Katie and I share so I chose the theme to remember him.  With both families being Italian, an Italian menu was the perfect fit.

As guests arrived they were instructed to fill out a "recipe card".  The directions said, "Leave Katie and Sam a recipe for an enchanted evening".  (I collected these for another project for them down the road)

 I had a great time putting together the wine, wedding, and Italian themed decorations.  It took two weeks of Evie's afternoon naps and a few late nights to get everything done (it's really hard to spray paint when it rains for 6 days straight!).  But it was so fun and SO worth it!
See my inspiration for the decorations here.

Coming up with the menu was rather challenging but it worked out really well!  In our combined families we have 2 gluten sensitivities, 1 vegetarian, 2 primal and 1 lactose intolerant.  Oy. We made a gluten-free corner of the kitchen so the guests would not dip pasta or breads in the gluten-free dips. Everything else was obvious.
  • Bow-tie crunchies
  • Fried ravioli
  • Spinach Artichoke dip (the guest who was supposed to make this got sick. Trader Joe's to the rescue!)
  • caprese salad skewers (we've made these before they were Pinterest-ing)
  • pizza dip with trader joes pizza dough fried on cast iron for dipping
  • antipasto (traditional)
  • bake ziti (my dad's secret recipe)
  • meatballs (sam's dad's secret recipe)
  • veggie tray with 3 home made dips from Primal Blueprint Healthy Sauces, Dressings and Toppings 
  • baked brie (guest)
  • blue cheese & caramelized onion filo cups (guest)
  • homemade pesto bites (guest)
  • GF lettuce wraps with a PF Changs copy cat recipe (guest)
  • sangria (guest)
  • Dessert: assorted Italian pastries from a local bakery

What's a wedding shower without a game?  I hear you grumbling already.  No cliche shower games at my house. That's a rule. Instead Eric and I found 16 video clips of "enchanted evenings" and made a 8 minute montage.  The guests were given an answer sheet to guess all 16 video clips.  

We chose romantic videos from almost every decade since the 40s.  We wanted everyone to have a fair chance...even the older crowd.  Not one guest answered all 16 correctly! (You can view the video challenge here)

Then it was on to presents!  Katie and Sam received seriously good loot. They registered and Crate & Barrel and Macy's like we did so a lot of the gifts looked rather familier (as in, we were using ours for the party that night!)

 (Katie was rather pleased with herself that she broke a single ribbon twice while opening the gift.  As she did everyone yelled "TWINS" -- according to the old tale for every ribbon you break you have a baby. Also, Sam is terrified of children and Katie wants a dozen.  This made it even better!)

If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you know our family can't get together without a series of awkward hilarious family photos.  This party did not disappoint.  

You might also know that all of us on my mom's side of the family have really squinty eyes when we smile...this is us keeping our eyes open.  I think I win.

To the beautiful Bride and Groom -- Eric and I hope you had even half as much fun as we did putting together and hosting this party for you.  It's so great to see the two of you together, as you're two peas in a pod.  Absolutely perfect for each other.  Cheers!  Manga!

20 January, 2013

Do whatever He tells you

I have always been intrigued by and related to the story of the Wedding Feast at Cana. So much so that when I saw it was one of the Mass readings today, despite my child having a case of deafening screams & tandrums, I pulled myself together enough to make it to Mass.  And I am glad I did.

There was nothing out of the ordinary at Mass that knocked me off my pew, but there is the little pericope "Do whatever He tells you."

This line has stood out to me since college.  I went to a Marianist University. I took a class on Marianist  spirituality.  We spent an entire class session learning about and reflecting on that little nugget of Scripture.

I have since taken it to heart and prayer many times.

Just before Christmas, I had a post-Bible study discussion with a friend about her and her husband's financial situation and how it's been affecting their marriage. Not so much the dollar amount but the spirit of handling money.  Long story short, I had a light bulb moment (aka the Holy Spirit) to order a copy of the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University CDs for this couple so they could listen to them together.

When I got home I had an email from Dave Ramsey's Christmas of Giving (oh the Holy Spirit, you're a clever one). The email was advertising a HUGE sale on the FPU CD set+Book+Budget Software bundle.  On top of that if I bought a second set I earned free shipping.  Quick math said that the discounted bundle minus shipping was a huge bargain.

But then I remembered it was Christmas and we were on a budget.  I really shouldn't spend the extra money to get the second set just to have it around. We'd learned so much about little impulses like this that I felt I was being tempted.

But then...I had a wave of peace come over me as a little voice said, "Buy two and I will tell you who the second one is for"

A quick prayer said that it was indeed how we were being called to bless another family, even though we didn't yet know who it was.

What does this have to do with my attending Mass tonight?  And particularly the 5pm one after wrangling a decidedly difficult child all day?

After Mass I saw a woman who I haven't seen in a few months.  She and I grew close during my three years in Middle School ministry but our paths haven't crossed much lately.  She asked if she could speak with me in a few minutes.

Evie and I headed downstairs to have dinner with the High school youth group and the woman met me there.

She asked me the name of "the financial guy" that Eric and I are always talking about.  She explain that she and her husband are just having a difficult time getting on the same page financially; that they just need help.

I replied to her, "I can do more than give you his name.  I have a full set of CDs, a book, and the budgeting software that I bought before Christmas and was waiting for the Lord to reveal who I was supposed to give it to."  

She offered to pay for it.

I replied, "No, no. When I was a set for a friend the second set was just a few dollar more. I was just waiting for a sign of who to give it to.  It's YOU!"

I tell this story not to brag on myself, but to remind you and me that God is alive and speaking to us and  is living through us.  We just need to take a moment to see the signs and listen to Him. And most importantly to "Do whatever He tells you"

04 January, 2013

Top 12 of 2012

Each year our little blog grows and grows. So exciting!  It's been an incredible way to keep up with family, friends who have moved, and also to make new friends (yes, mom, I have Internet friends).

Our readership has just about doubled.  We had almost 6,000 unique visitors this year!  In addition to regular readers, I get a lot of traffic from Pinterest (looking at party decorations, cookies, or cakes), Rebecca's blog, and from my bit on the Mormon website over a year ago.

I am considering this list to be the most popular read in 2012, not necessarily written in 2012

Well, without further ado, the top 12 of 2012:

Project Simplify: The Laundry Room
Cleaned out All The Things for Lent and blogged about it

Miscellany Monday: On the State of Me: My Life Four Months Postpartum
Depression, work and a baby!

What I am Loving {5}
A lot of random things including this awesome Draw Something picture

Catholic on a Mormon Temple Tour
I toured the Atlanta Mormon Temple and blogged about it.  The LDS website thought it was so cool they published it!

Debt Story Part II - Our past mistakes
One of a series of posts about getting out of debt. This was the story of how we got in this mess!

Wedding ABCs
A fun link up on the details of our wedding. LOVE having this post documented especially since I'd never blogged about the details of our wedding before!

To Bring or Not to Bring the Baby
My debate about bringing Evie to a weekend retreat.

We're Debt Free
Good news travels fast!

Pregnancy Label
People love pregnant ladies, what can I say?

Baby Shower for David and Paige
Monkey Cookies
A near tie with the details of a fun baby shower!

Top 11 of 2011
This version of last year was highly popular for some reason...robots?
Picture is unrelated but awesome.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Party
Must have been a popular idea this last year.
Thanks Pottery Barn Kids for the inspiration!

01 January, 2013

2012: I just wanna live while I'm alive {A Year In Review}

2012 brought with it many changes in our life style, but we love each and every day more than the last. With a two month old demanding every ounce of Elizabeth's attention she signed up for two week-night classes, photography and post-natal yoga, to get out of the house. Elizabeth and Evie signed up for a playgroup through the Church, a blessing in so many ways.  Eric took 100+ teens on the Winter Retreat.  Evie shared her Baptism day with her cousin Zachary.  Eric and Elizabeth became Godparents for the first time.

February was low-key as it usually is.  We watched the Superbowl at our friend Chris's house with old friends.  Evie and Elizabeth celebrated Valentine's Day with new friends.  Eric and Elizabeth renewed their wedding vows at a Valentine's dinner social with the Mom's Group.  At the end of the month we took Evie on her first plane ride to Eric's cousin's wedding in Minnesota.  For Lent we participated in Project Simplify and cleaned cabinets and closets for the next 40 Days.

In March Elizabeth started easing back in to the work routine while navigating the waters of Post-Partum Depression.  Dan and Leeann invited us to watch Wake Forrest beat Georgia Tech in basketball.  Elizabeth joined a monthly Bible Study with a group of girlfriends from neighboring parishes. Eric attended the annual Life Teen Men's Retreat at Covecrest.

It was a difficult Holy Week for Elizabeth and her brother David as their high school and college friend, John Purvis, passed away after a five year battle with glioblastoma.  But God is good, and the funeral served as a beautiful time to reconnect with old friends.   We celebrated a peaceful Easter with the family, and went on egg hunts as twenty-somethings. The following weekend we drove to Savannah to spend the weekend with David, Paige and Zachary.  We also spent the day in Beaufort, SC visiting Eric's great Aunt Jo and Uncle Jim. On the drive home from the long weekend we got a call that Sam proposed to Elizabeth's sister, Katie. A day later Elizabeth and Evie came down with a wretched flu virus canceling Elizabeth's annual Women's Retreat weekend.  Many thanks to steroids and antibiotics the two were better in about 10 days and we were off to Nashville for another long weekend.  Evie had an epic poop-splosion and both Eric and Elizabeth had opportunities to catch up with friends before and after we finished another half-marathon.  Somewhere in there, Evie and Elizabeth went to the zoo!
A sucker for Airports and Flashmobs, Elizabeth signed up to "test drive" the new airport terminal with Evie. Our nephew Zach came to visit for a week.  We spent a day going to six graduation parties and a Confirmation.  Cabin season began.  My mother retired from 15 years of teaching. Elizabeth's close friend, Dennis was ordained a transitional deacon. The same day we went to our very first Indian wedding, a co-worker of Eric's.
In June the guys started brewing regularly again. We had a few more graduation parties, but Elizabeth skipped them in favor of a long weekend at the cabin, and Eric hosted a guys night...or two.  We celebrated an early Father's Day at the Dillard House, Tim and Eric's favorite.  The parent's of Evie's playgroup started a couple's dinner and Bible study group -- a source of many laughs and tears. Elizabeth babysat nephew Connor on Tuesdays, they often went out for ice cream.  All the Corsetti kids, spouses, and kids spent a long weekend in Highlands with our Grandparents.  One of the best weekends, ever. Elizabeth's college friends Jessica and Jay visited for a few days, as did her cousin's Hope and Will. The last weekend in June we left Evie with the grandparents and took off to Asheville for a weekend of wining and dining and hot air balloon riding!

 Eric and the Buergler clan celebrated our Nation's Independance by running the Peachtree Road Race. Evie and Elizabeth joined in for the post-race Waffle House tradition.  We celebrated with a cookout at Dan and Leeann's and then with fireworks viewed from the 33rd floor of One Atlantic Station. Eric's friend Stephen came to visit.  Eric and Elizabeth missed Greg and Lizzie's wedding in New Orleans in favor of Sam and Katie's engagement party on the roof top of The Manhattan. Elizabeth spent a 100+ hour week building a website for work, and Eric started working from home full time.  Together we led the 15 teen leaders on a retreat at a lake house. Elizabeth took the month off from blogging mostly because Eric was glued to the computer watching the Olympics.

Eric did one last mountain bike race with cousin Steven before he left for Duke. Elizabeth and Katie did lots of wedding and bride's maid dress shopping. We had a belated Mother's Day celebration with a boating day on Lake Lanier with all the Corsettis.  Evie went to the cabin for a long weekend with Nana and Grandpa so Elizabeth could put the finishing touches on the school year and Eric could attend the Core Team retreat. And then...we took off for Ireland
 We toured Northern Ireland with Elizabeth's college roommate Amanda, and met up with Sam, Katie, Sam's family and Eric and Sam's dorm-mates for a crazy weekend in Dublin cheering on the Fighting Irish.  Elizabeth kicked off the Confirmation season and developed adult torticolis, for which she is still receiving treatment. Eric started interviewing for (and got!) a new job, but he finished out his job contract through November. On a whim we started looking a houses.  We took a day trip to the Botanical Gardens, and while we were there got word that we a had a showing at the house that would soon be ours.  A day later we put in a formal offer and another day later were in a contract.  Elizabeth bought her Maid of Honor dress for Katie's wedding. Elizabeth turned the big 3-0 (but didn't finish her 30x30 list. Boo!)!

Things were winding down for Eric with his old job, and picked up a lot of slack at home while Elizabeth's busy season picked up. We celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary. Elizabeth did her first photoshoot.  Aunt Leeann made Evie a beautiful Bee costume, and she paraded it around at their neighborhood Fall Festival. Everything else was quiet as Eric held down the fort and Elizabeth led the Confirmation retreat for 170 10th graders. Evie celebrated her first Halloween with a small party with both sets of grandparents, and her great-grandparents! We started packing the apartment for the move.
We threw Evie a Madeline themed birthday brunch.  Eric started his new job and found out he needed major surgery as soon as possible.  Evie and Elizabeth stood in line for an hour on a cold, windy, rainy day to vote in the presidential election. Later that day Evie had her picture taken with Santa at Phipps Plaza.  Elizabeth closed on the house, Eric had surgery, and Evie threw up...basically ruining Thanksgiving.  Elizabeth packed, moved and unpacked the house while Eric recovered. Our friends showered us with blessings of homemade dinners, babysitting, delivering a Christmas tree, and hauling boxes.

Early December was our final inspection and we closed the apartment for the last time, but not with out tears. We celebrated the usual Gingerbread party.  Advent came and went, but felt more like Lent with all the trials of major life changes.  Christmas break was a very welcomed treat.  Parties, cookies, and family time. And lots and lots of sleeping in. We're finally feeling settled with work and the house, and Eric is fully recovered.  Evie is on the brink of walking.  We rang in the New Year with a date night courtesy of babysitters, Dan and Leeann...followed by a late night game of Scrabble.

2013 is going to be full of so many blessings!  We cannot wait to share them with you!

Incase you missed it:  2009 | 2010 | 2011Top 11 of 2011