Tag Archives: engagement

A Second Engagement!!!

Congratulations to my amazing sister and her long-time boyfriend who just got engaged!!!

I’m so excited that we’re both in the fiance-stage together.  We can conspire and plan and laugh and read wedding mags.  We can do all sorts of stereotypical weddingy things and be super annoying to everyone with constant wedding talk.  Excellent!

Maybe we can even have a double wedding?!?!?

Just kidding.  That would be weird.

Here’s a pic of the lovebirds from our Texas vacation in January:


This ring (which was our grandmother Honey’s) looks amazing all polished up and fitted!

ring pic

I can’t believe she didn’t see it coming.  Her fiance called me back in December to conspire about getting to Baltimore to ask our parents’ permission formally and to discuss when he was going to pop the question.  Good thing our parents were on vacation for much of January so that they didn’t have to keep the secret in frequent phone conversations.

I felt like I was giving it away left right and center.  When we went to the bridal expo in January, I signed us both up as brides saying we could both get the bride-swag (which was disappointingly none).  When we were out at dinner, I mentioned that I had recently watched our grandparents’ wedding video, and when my sister asked why she’d never seen it, I said, Are you sure? I know your boyfriend’s seen it.  He gave me the death stare across the table, knowing that he had seen it when he made the secret trip to Baltimore to speak with our parents.  Oops I had forgotten those circumstances.  We quickly covered it up by saying that we were mistaken, that it was actually her Bat Mitzvah video he had seen.  She got up to use the restroom and he just about strangled me (good-naturedly of course…I hope).  When she got back, I think it was forgotten.

I was also suspicious that she may have been anticipating the proposal because it seemed like she was getting her nails done an awful lot recently.  Maybe that’s typical and I just don’t know.  Or maybe she was sprucing them up to gear up for showing off her hand constantly.  😉  No, it does sound like she didn’t see it coming, at least not in the moment, so that’s super cute and exciting.


I’m so so so so happy for her, I can’t stop grinning 😀


Oh Man…I Forgot About Vacuuming!

Oh Man! I Forgot About Vacuuming and Other Moving Trials

I’ve been remiss in posting on a weekly basis due to spending lots of time working and reworking our new apartment set up, coupled with a weekend trip home to Baltimore. For being unemployed, I certainly am keeping myself quite busy with rewashing all the dishes, laundering all the sheets and towels, cleaning and generally getting things in working order here in A2 (as we locals calls Ann Arbor 😉 because I’m now counting myself as a local).

All forces are combining to make this new living arrangement 180 degrees different than any other living arrangement I’ve ever had. Take for instance that over the past five years, I’ve been living in a one-story apartment and working full, or more than full, time.  Spoiled as it may seem, we had a cleaning lady come every other week.  I learned right off the bat that living with a boy is not always as tidy as living alone (and Mark is very tidy by boy standards as far as I can tell).  While I wanted to think that I would be working, plus cleaning and doing dishes and changing bed sheets, it quickly became apparent if that arrangement ensued, it was going to be the source of lots of me yelling and being frustrated.  So the cleaning lady entered the picture and it was the best decision ever.  No fights about who’s doing what chores.  Dirty dishes?  Oh well, cleaning lady’s coming on Monday, leave ’em.  Toilet rings?  Yes, I have left over toilet scrubbers from when I lived alone, but they saw the inside of zero toilet bowls in five years.  Cleaning lady’s got it under control.

Before living with Mark, I lived in a one-bedroom, one-story apartment in Federal Hill that I cleaned myself. But let’s be honest, it was incredibly sparsely furnished with parents’ hand-me-downs, I never dusted the blinds and I barely made any messes since I spent most all of my time at Mark’s apartment. Sorry Paul for always being there! (Although we did have fun with some crazy debates and good Sunday night HBO and football watching.)

Back to now: I’m not working, living in a fairly large two-story apartment with LOTS of stairs (because there are stairs from the garage to the front door, and then more stairs to get to the living room/kitchen, and then MORE stairs to get to the loft/bedroom). I have purchased all the requisite supplies that I never had: Swiffer sweeper, Swiffer duster, Windex wipes, Pledge wood cleaning spray, Pledge multi-surface spray, Clorox toilet scrubbers and dish soap. As the movers were carrying in boxes around me, I was up and down scrubbing the tubs and showers, dusting the baseboards and fan blades, cleaning the tops of paintings and tables and lamps as they brought each one in.

Once they left, Mark and I spent most of the day unpacking boxes and sorting out where items were going to go (our version of Upstairs/Downstairs). The day after that, Mark went to work and I unpacked the rest of the boxes…good thing we have two stories because the pile of boxes rose all the way up to the second floor.  It just became easier to throw them over the railing onto the pile, rather than trying to stack them up from below.

All the boxes unpacked, we couldn’t find a few minor items, such as the harp for one table lamp. So we went through ALL the boxes again: pulling out the packing papers, shaking them out, stuffing them back into the boxes. Mark schlepped everything out to the garage and that was the end of the day.

I came back to the new apartment over the next few days to start arranging things in their proper places and generally clean up. This is where my lack of experience cleaning large areas of real estate really shone. Hard wood floors upstairs require moleskin padding on the feet of each piece of furniture. Luckily we had purchased a rug for underneath the bed, so I didn’t have to clip snippets of felt for that, but for the dresser, chairs, desk, bookcases and tables, I hacked away chunks of padding for each. Apparently my scissoring technique is poor because I quickly developed this thumb knuckle blister. Look away if you’re squeamish.  Ouch.

cutting blister

The upstairs in working order, I quickly vacuumed the hardwood and started making my way down the stairs.  Oy!  Vacuuming stairs!  I haven’t done this since childhood!  Torture!  Our vacuum (also a parents’ hand-me-down) doesn’t have a hose attachment, so I’m dragging the whole upright apparatus across each step, trying to get in the crevices.  I thought I had a pretty good method going: swipe across, finish with a perpendicular pull at the end, go next step down.  Then I realized that the vacuum was just pushing the bits of leaves and dirt brought in by the movers’ shoes from step to step and not actually picking it up.  I went back over the steps on my hands and knees, pulling up any leftover bits of debris with my fingers and putting them in the trash.

Then I went on to the living room (photo at the top of the post).  I vacuumed it prior to putting down the couches and the area rug, then I lay the area rug down and vacuumed that too.  That was the filthiest because we always ate on the couch at our old place, so you can imagine the crumbs and food particles that got on this rug.  And of course the movers don’t care about that; they just roll up the rug, food crumbs and all.  In this way, we brought even more pieces of home with us – literally – in the rug.  Again, I don’t know if I’m rusty with a vacuum or this vacuum is just terrible, but I swear it wasn’t picking up anything – just pushing around fuzz balls.

Pulling the vacuum seemed to be easy enough but pushing it back across the carpet was sweat-inducing.  The handle is broken so it only stays very short, therefore I was hunched over, pushing and pulling the big lug across high pile carpet.  I will never again disparage the cleaning lady for knocking the vacuum in to the sofa feet, or the base of the bed, or the dresser, or every other piece of furniture, and leaving marks.  It is inevitable an I was trying SO hard not to bump things.  Second blister of the move:

vacuum blister

The culprit:


Thanks to the generosity of our friends and family who gave us many Target gift cards for our engagement, I was able to purchase a new vacuum!  I haven’t tried it out yet, but it was only $40 so I’m not expecting miracles.  It does, however, have a hose attachment, so at least I can really get into those stairs.

We also received this awesome Giada knife as an engagement present.  I love it!  But I hate packages like this that you literally cannot get open and are probably going to cut yourself on the hard plastic trying.  Here is my feeble attempt at cutting this open:


Notice the pathetic crack in the lower right-hand corner.  Nothing’s getting out of that small hole.  Does anyone else find it funny that I can’t cut open the packaging to get to a knife? Can’t it slice its way out?  It was really hot in the apartment that day and I hadn’t eaten anything yet, so perhaps my amusement was beyond rational.  Okay, I finally got it open.


Do I keep that white plastic bit on there for protection?

Nevermind answering, I already threw it away.  But I did have an internal debate and may have texted my sister.

The reality of getting a job is starting to sink in now that we’re back in A2 for a good chunk of time before our next trip home.  I’ll write more about the job hunt and the time consumption of wedding planning in the weeks to come, but right now, keeping up with housework is a mild consideration.  I think if I went back to work full time at this point, we would definitely need some help around the house from time to time…maybe just once a month to really dust (mini-blinds are the worst invention ever).

So enough of my tsuris….I thought you’d like to see how I’ve gone about putting our place together!  In the photo at the top of the post of our living room, see if you can spot the stuffed cayman that my great-grandparents brought back from their honeymoon.  My cousin has the dad cayman and I have the baby one.


Here are a few close-ups of the bar I set up in the living room.  This is my grandmother Honey’s credenza from the beach house.  Parents’ hand-me-down mirror, and stocked with The Glenlivet 12.  Thank you to friends and family for all of the great glassware pictured here.



And thanks to my sister for getting those cute H & M napkins printed up.  Thanks to my mom to the authentic Scotch Whiskey recipe booklet!

Here is the guest room with my Maryland Testudo pillow on the blanket chest.  (It’s a Testudo stuffed animal that turns into its shell to become a pillow!)  That blanket chest is full by the way, so if you come to visit in the winter, don’t worry, no one will go cold!


We spent our first overnight in the new apartment last night.  It was weird and I couldn’t fall asleep, so I took this picture of the light coming in the window to occupy the time.

night light

It was nice to fall asleep with the windows open, listening to the sound of crickets once again.  I haven’t had that since college, living downtown all these years.

Okay, off for my first grocery shopping trip! xoxoxo




Michigan Second Impressions, an Official Engagement, and More Pizza!

Last Thursday, I went to visit Mark in Ann Arbor for the second time ever.  The weather was nice, if not fall-like, which is making me concerned for how cold it’s going to be when fall actually gets here.  Maybe we’ll be going to fewer UMich football games and more Detroit Lions football games (since they have a dome).

For some reason I thought it might be a good idea to take a 6am flight out of BWI that landed at DTW at 7:30.  I must’ve still been in work mode when I booked it, since I did a lot of 6am flying over the past two years.  I also must’ve forgotten how miserable it is to set your alarm for 3:30am, and how even a few cups of coffee can’t keep you from falling asleep on the plane with your mouth open, head jerking side to side every few minutes like a possessed marionette.

Upon landing ridiculously early, I took a cab to the Residence Inn and had plenty of time to work out, check emails, Yelp some good Ann Arbor hair places and book an appointment for Friday, before meeting Mark for lunch at 11:30.

We ate at Biercamp, a BBQ and artisan jerky restaurant/deli counter in a small house on the southern part of State Street near the hotel.  The pulled pork sandwich was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, if slightly buttery for my taste.  Mark liked how they actually seemed to have cooked the meat in the BBQ sauce so that each piece was coated, rather than making you put your own sauce on top of dry pork, where you really can’t get the sauce distributed evenly.  The small things in life.  We wanted to try some of the homemade dill pickles, but they were currently out.

After lunch, I went to the local mall to find a cover for my new iPhone.  I was thinking I wanted a cutesy artsy case, but my sister reminded me that those probably aren’t the best damage control if you actually drop the phone (which I’m definitely prone to do). So I got a hearty case at the Apple store (ugh I’m not into the Apple store Kool-Aid – it tastes like conformity) and will go about my klutzy life hopefully a bit better prepared.  The mall there is pretty nifty.  It’s sort of smallish – all on one level – with not the best anchor stores (Penny’s, Macy’s and Sears) but all the rest of the stores are great!  There’s the usual Banana, J. Crew, etc., but then there’s also Michael Kors, Vera Bradley, L’Occitane and Lush.  Alright!  Mom would love it, as those last two are some of her faves!

I then decided I needed a “wedding vision book.”  Actually I had no idea it was called a vision book until someone else called it that….I just wanted an old school photo album with the peel back sticky pages so I could conglomerate all the scraps of magazines that are currently lying on the coffee table, and the bedside table, and the dining room table, and stuffed in corners of my purse.  I tear scraps out of all magazines – it’s really getting to be a problem – recipes, yoga poses, inspiring color combos, etc.  I have a shoebox full of yoga-related magazine bits that I’ve NEVER looked at again.  Maybe I should make an album for those too, so at least they are arranged in some semblance of order.

Well back to the photo album quest: it’s really hard to find photo albums these days since everyone keeps their photos online.  And when you do find an album, it’s of the newer, slip the photo into this perfectly sized slot, kind.  I tried to find a Wal-Mart near Ann Arbor on the car GPS but it kept telling me that the closest one was about 450 miles away.  That GPS is terrible for that kind of search.  I reluctantly went for the iPhone.  I know that’s what it’s there for – to look up every last bit of information that you could ever want – but it sort of feels like cheating, like I should just be able to find these things without it, and I don’t want to waste the data! LOL

Well, as far as I could tell, there isn’t a Wal-Mart close by to Ann Arbor, so I looked for a KMart.  See, my thinking was that Target might be too classy to carry such things as tacky photo albums with sticky paper, which is why I was sticking to the lower end big box stores.  Just in luck – a KMart not too far away that did indeed carry TWO fly paper photo albums!  Perf!

I got Mark from work and we went up to the new apartment to do the owner’s punch list before dinner.  And that’s when IT happened!!  I was taking an initial walk-through when Mark got down on one knee and did the “official” proposal!!  Here is a glamor-shot of the bling.


And then we cracked a bottle of wine and did the punch list.

For a celebratory dinner we went to Mani, a modern Italian restaurant downtown.  I may have been laughing a little too loudly and was certainly very animated.  The people at the table next to us kept giving us the eye.  Ooops.  Just happy.

We each got appetizers and split a margherita pizza.  The pizza wasn’t amazing.  A bit too dry and cheese that fell off in clumps when you bit into it.  BUT the burrata appetizer I had was SO GOOD!!  Fresh, cool and creamy burrata cheese with macerated sour cherries, mint, fennel, micro greens and salty olive oil crostini.  I could’ve eaten two of these and skipped the pizza altogether.  It was perfectly sweet, salty, sour, crunchy and creamy all together.  Best burrata of the season (and I’ve had at least 3 others at various restaurants).

Friday I got my hair cut (not bad and reasonably priced) and started piecing together the photo album.  It took a lot longer than anticipated given I didn’t have any scissors!  That evening, we drove out to Grand Haven, about 2.5 hours west of Ann Arbor on Lake Michigan to visit a former co-worker at her summer home there.  Grand Haven is also called Coast Guard City, USA, as dubbed first by the locals, then officially by President Clinton.  There didn’t seem to be a great story behind the name that I could glean, other than there is a coast guard station there.  We stayed at the Holiday Inn in Spring Lake about 2 miles from downtown Grand Haven because the city was packed with 250,000 people for Coast Guard Week which culminated Saturday with a 2 hour parade.  Friday night we walked around and ate a yummy dinner of steak and salads at Kirby House.  There were lots of teeny boppers out at the street fair dressed in their summer cutoffs (I was feeling old and cold in full-length jeans) and lots of campers lining the parking lots with their grills going.  Different tents held various bands – everything from Beatles to 80s hair band covers.  There was definitely that beach town vibe going on.  Also, we noticed that people had already staked out patches of grass with blankets or bits of string to rope off seating for the fireworks display – Saturday night.  We were told later that you weren’t allowed to start saving spots until Thursday night….2 days in advance!  These must be some good fireworks we thought!

Saturday, we walked the 2 miles into town to set up at our friend’s house for the parade.  She has an awesome house on an elevated corner lot right along the parade route.  There were marching bands, old and new cars and various floats in the street.  And out back there were great summer drinks, including Bloody Mary’s made with dill juice and a pickle (yum!) and amazingly juicy pork tenderloin and half chickens grilled up by her husband’s high school friend who’s a butcher.  You know it had to be good since the man deals with meat all day everyday.

After taking an afternoon siesta, we went downstairs to watch the fireworks across the river from the hotel lawn, where the mosquitos were buzzing and humming all over.  We didn’t stay too long out there for fear of giant bites, so we only saw a bit of the show.  It was odd because about 10 fireworks went off and then it stopped.  We thought, hm I’m sure that can’t be the end of it.  And then a woman behind us said, “Was there another fire?”  We said, “Huh? Was there a fire earlier?”  And she said, “Oh a few years ago the fireworks caused a fire and they had to put it out before they could resume.  Ya know, it’s Grand Haven,” shrugging.  And we said, “Oh hm.”  And she said, “I guess you’re not from around here.”  Nope.  So we went back upstairs and heard the fireworks resume a bit later.  Oh well, I’ve seen ’em before.  I subsequently found a YouTube video of the 2005 fireworks fire – it looked pretty massive, like the whole hillside was on fire.  I’m not sure they could’ve resumed the show after that!

All in all we had an excellent time visiting Grand Haven and thank you to our wonderful hosts for having us!  I’m liking our Michigan explorations, from Traverse City to Grand Haven.  We still need to see downtown Detroit, Mackinac Island and perhaps some other small towns along the way.

Sunday we grabbed some fresh salad, local Michigan cherries and a Michigan hard cider at Produce Station – a boutique grocery, garden center and cafe near the hotel.  I loved this place – it has a lot of gourmet-y type food products that you wouldn’t find at the regular grocery store, as well as very fresh produce (as the name suggests) and locally-made products, like the cider, ice cream, bread and desserts.

Monday I flew back to Baltimore at the more reasonable hour of 2pm.  This week I’ve really got to buckle down and sort through things I want to take with me or give away.  I’ve also got to create an area for items that we will move ourselves, since once the movers take our stuff next week, it will be 2-9 days before we get it in Michigan.  I can’t believe the move is almost here.  I can’t believe I’ve been out of work for almost 2 months.  I’m done volunteering, which was a great experience, and now I’m on the farewell tour of lunch dates with various friends.  My friend Graham and I are going to hit the pool and work on our blogs.  Graham is leaving Bmore to travel the world for a year or two and has started cataloguing his planning and future travel at exploringsevencontinents.com – check it out to see where he’s going – I’m jealous of that adventure!

Next time I’m in Ann Arbor it will be for real, and that’s going to be an adventure all its own!