Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wedding Idea Board

Lots of wedding magazines say that you should cut pictures out of magazines, ads, or other documents and create an idea board that shows all the different things you want to include in your wedding.

That plan didn't work very well for me, because I've been doing all of my wedding planning electronically. Instead, I created an electronic idea board - it's got pictures of almost all of the things we've already picked out (the venue, guys' tuxes, bridesmaid dresses, decorations, etc.) and some pictures of things we're still considering. I'm really happy with the way it looks!

The blank space in the middle is because I had to hide my wedding dress, since Jeff reads this blog. :)

Apartment Update: We got our stuff back... and then got rid of (most of) it!

Last week Jeff and I got access to the things in our old apartment. We brought down all sorts of plastic bags and boxes full of our old things. Our apartment was really messy.

It's crazy to think that we haven't had these things for five months. We've basically adjusted to living without them. Some things - like our pens, scissors, and post-its got organized and put away in the desk. Other things - like almost all of our old dishes and pots and pans - we decided to give away to Goodwill.

It took quite a few days, but by this morning our apartment was looking nice again! And since we had our drill back, we could even hang the photos we'd gotten framed! (All of the photos are ones we took - except for the one of the two of us, which my mom took.)

Top row (left to right): A gateway on an island on Lake Titicaca, Peru; the Charles bridge in Prague; Boston Public Garden; Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis; and Lake Titicaca, Peru.
Bottom row (left to right): Jeff and I in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden; a city street in Seoul, Korea; Some castle ruins in Ireland; Beach in Honduras; and old buildings reflected in glass in Prague

Today Jeff went in and got our old furniture and brought it down - and pretty much all of that is up on craigslist now, since we replaced basically all of our major furniture over the past five years. Once we get all of that taken away, it will just be odds and ends left! (And hopefully someday soon we'll get our clothes back and we'll have closets with more than five items of clothing...)

Jeff's Bachelor Party in San Francisco - Guest Blog

A couple weekends ago, I went to the San Francisco Bay Area to have a bachelor party with my brother Dave and my friends from college John Gardner, and Kurt Stiehl.  It was really a great time.  I got in to San Francisco on Wednesday night and Dave and his fiance Taylor picked me up at the airport.  I spent Wednesday and Thursday nights at Dave's house.  Taylor had just finished final exams, so when Dave went off to work, I was able to hang out with Taylor for part of the day on Thursday and Friday.  

Dave and I went to from his house in Mountain View down to San Francisco on Friday night.  We saw Juggo in an improv comedy show.  His group had 5 members, 3 of whom were in his college improv group, Road Kill Buffet.  They were really good.  It's possible that my appreciation of improv has waned since college, but they seemed every bit as good as the Second City show that I saw with my parents in December.  After the show, John (Juggo), Kurt, Dave and I went to a nearby bar with Juggo's girlfriend Kelly, as well as Joy, and Irene.  Then we went back to Juggo and Kurt's apartment where Dave and I crashed.  

The next day was the beginning of my bachelor party.  Dave had planned a day full of very Jeff-friendly activities for me.  We woke up, and thanks to being on the West coast, turned on the NCAA tournament while everyone was getting ready.  Dave had planned some "sweatpants time", in honor of the fact that for years one of my favorite things to do was lounge around in sweats.  Though I never actually had any "sweatpants time," I did get to watch some basketball in my pajamas: pretty good!

The four of us went to brunch nearby, and then started an afternoon of coffee shops.  This is definitely one of my favorite things to do!  First we went to Ritual Coffee.  They had a whole bunch of the special brewed coffee, where they grind and drip brew you an individual cup.  Dave, Juggo and I all had super delicious but different kinds whose names I now forget.  Kurt had a hot chocolate because he doesn't like coffee but is a good sport.  

At the coffee shop (and really at brunch, hanging at the house, and the night before, I caught up with everyone.  Kurt is working 1203921 hours at Apple, making all your favorite little iPod accessories.  Juggo is still designing circuits and is driving a lot to and from work East of the Bay Kelly's house in Berkeley.  Dave is working at Google.  He also rented a ski house in Tahoe for the season, and has been going up there a whole lot.

After Ritual, we went to Philz, another big San Francisco coffee place.  I had another delicious cup of coffee, bizarelly titled Anesthesia to the Upside.  Since the place was filled with San Francisco denizens on their Macs and we couldn't get a seat, we went back to Juggo and Kurts to have our coffee and watch more basketball.  

We headed out to dinner at Ponzu, where Dave had made reservations.  It was BYOB, so Kurt brought our own wine from his super impressive collection.  The restaurant was Asian fusion with a whole bunch of small plates.  There were some delicious little spicy fried chickpeas.  We got a good sized bowl of them, and started to eat them with chopsticks.  I said I thought it'd take forever to eat them all with our chopsticks, but we sure managed. 

From there, we went to Bourbon and Branch, a speakeasy-type bar where Dave had made reservations.  I really like this type of bar: it's fairly quiet, so you can hear your friends talk, and they bring you interesting and delicious old-style cocktails.  No pictures were allowed: you'll have to go yourself to see what it looked like :).  We stayed there for several drinks.  It was really an amazing time, hanging out with my brother and two of my best friends.

Afterwards, went to another bar down the street.  I remember less about this bar, but we do have more pictures from it since pictures were allowed there.

When the bar closed, we went back to Juggo and Kurt's for a post-night-out card game.  We played UNO, which I've played millions of times in my life.  This game was super bizarre for a number of reasons.  First, Juggo and Kurt play with different house rules than I do.  If someone plays a Draw 2 on you, they say you still get to play, but I've always played that you lose your turn.  Since I've mostly played UNO as a family game, it was super crazy that I was playing it with Dave, who had the exact same UNO experience.  It's funny to have one of these culture clashes, but to have your brother come down, naturally, on your side.  The other thing that was crazy was that I (and prolly everyone else) was cheating.  I've also never cheated at UNO before, but Kurt made a comment about it beforehand, so I gave it a go.   Trying to pull one over on my slightly intoxicated friends was strangely exhilarating (and easy!).   I also wore a silly hat and we ate Cheez-Its and tortillas with salsa, naturally.

It was a really fantastic and memorable bachelor party.  Thanks so much guys!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

DC Bridal Shower and Bachelorette Party!

Last weekend my sister (and maid of honor!), Katie, with help from my friend (and bridesmaid!) Stephanie, threw me a bridal shower and bachelorette party in DC with all of my friends from this area! They did an amazing job planning - it was such a fun day (and night)!

The day started around 9:30am, when Katie and I headed over to Stephanie's for brunch. (Actually, it started a bit earlier, since Katie put together an outfit for me and did my hair and make-up before we left.) We went a little bit early, so Katie could help set up. She had shopped for candies from all different parts of the world (round-the-world was the theme of the day), and tied them up in really cute little gift bags.

Stephanie had prepared all of the breakfast foods. She had a great looking spread - bagels and cream cheese, fruit, a coffee cake, quiche, and a really tasty egg bake (which she apparently semi-invented herself).

The girls arrived, and we all had food and mimosa's. I was so happy that so many people could make it - Stephanie and Katie, of course, but also Beth, Emma, Jaisha, Noelle, Lindsey, Liz, and even my friend Jackie (who lives in California, but happened to be visiting her family in Maryland that weekend). I've been to a few bridal showers before (and even co-hosted one for my sister-in-law, Emily), but it's such a crazy feeling to actually be the bride!

After we had some food and mimosa's, Stephanie and Katie gave each girl a cute little note card and had them write out their favorite story about Jeff and me, and then collected them all in a little box. The idea is that Jeff and I can open and read one whenever we are in the mood for a fun pick-me-up. Very cute!

After that we opened gifts - it's kind of crazy how much gift-giving there is related to weddings - it really seems like a lot to me, but I have to admit it is really fun to have a collection of brightly wrapped presents to open. And everybody gave really sweet things. There were a lot of really creative, cute things, and some really great things from the registry. It's funny, you'd think when you have a registry it'd be less exciting to open gifts, but actually it's so fun because it's sort of like getting the pieces that you're going to use to build your new life - and each one is so exciting to add in. (Yikes, that sounded really sappy, but it really is true!)

Beth gave me a card that was wrapped around a bottle of wine - so cute! The gift was a wok set from Crate and Barrel that Jeff and I were really excited about - that she had sent directly to our house (convenient!).

Stephanie got me a really cute hanger (from etsy.com!) that says Mrs. Borowitz. I can use it to hang up my wedding dress before I wear it on my wedding day!

Noelle gave me a wine chiller with a bottle of champagne (which was still really chilly when I opened it, so I know it works!). Jaisha gave me some travel books for places we're going during the honeymoon - St. Petersburg, Istanbul, and Bangkok. Lindsey also gave me travel-related things - two types of travel power adapters (essential for our honeymoon trip!), a set of luggage tags - Mr. Right and Mrs. Always Right, two eye-mask and earplug sets, and also a really sweet card and a print out of "Song of Solomon," which is a song she really likes and feels captures the feelings in marriage. Jackie's gift was dinner in Istanbul (from our Honeymoon registery!) - she's been there, and gave us some recommendations on what to try. Emma gave me a pair of pearl earrings - so pretty! And Liz gave me a really pretty pitcher from crate and barrel, and a cute "toast to the bride" coaster with a little poem on the back that says:

Here's to the bride
To her tears and her laughter
To the man whom she loves
And to happily ever after

After that we relaxed at Stephanie's for a while longer, sipping mimosas and chatting.

In the early afternoon, we headed out to Ivy Spa - a cute nail salon near Stephanie's house. I had my first-ever professional manicure and pedicure! I'm not sure how I missed out on this for so long - I really like the idea of it! And after actually trying it, I know I like it! Pedicures, especially, are really relaxing and nice - I feel like I could have stayed and soaked my feet and read magazines for hours. (Also, as a somewhat crazy aside, there were TV's in the salon, and as I was getting my nails done there was a special report on TV where the news anchor broke in to say that the U.S. was now involved in military action in Libya. Talk about crazy juxtaposition.)

After everyone had finished getting manicures and/or pedicures, we went for a little walk through Clarendon and stopped to do a little shoe shopping, and Katie and I got some really good coffee. Then it was back to Stephanie's house to change and get ready for the bachelorette party!

I still don't have most of my clothes back, and I don't have any dresses in my closet at all, but luckily for me, Katie had made me a dress! It was really cute - black and white with yellow accents - which is sort of like the wedding!

After getting ready, Jackie drove Stephanie, Liz, Katie, and I into DC (the other girls had headed home to change). We went to Vinotecca for dinner. Some of the girls from Baltimore - Jen, Cara, Sam Sydney, and Sam Armacost - met up with us there. We started out with wine (since the restaurant is sort-of known for that) - I had a flight of sparking wines that was really good. Then we ordered food - Katie, Jaisha, Noelle, and I shared a bunch of tapas, which were all very good. The flatbread and the potato gnocci was especially great. Stephanie and the girls bought me a champagne cocktail for with dessert.

During dinner, Katie explained the first game. Everyone got two bead necklaces, and anytime you heard someone say the word "Jeff," you can take a necklace from them. The Baltimore girls were not very good at the game - but it was a bit unfair that three out of four of them are dating or married to a Jeff. :) I wasn't very good at the game either. :)

After dinner, we headed to Chi Cha Lounge on U Street. Chi Cha Lounge is a great after-dinner place - trendy but relaxed, busy but not overly crowded or loud - we could all relax and chat. We got a strawberry-flavored hookah and some really great cocktails. Beth ordered the one with St. Germain for me before I even got there, since she knew I love anything with St. Germain - I'm so predictable. :) Katie also got me a really tasty mango mojito - another drink favorite of mine.

While we were at Chi Cha Lounge, Katie gave me the veil that she had made for me to wear - pretty cute. I had a few people come up and congratulate me, which was really nice. It was really cool that the bars we went to were really fun, but a little trendy/ upscale, so even though it was exciting and really fun, it wasn't like we were constantly being bothered by creepy guys.

At Chi Cha Lounge, Katie also explained and passed out cards for the "That Guy" game - which was the main side-activity for the rest of the night. We had three teams, and each team had about six or eight pieces of paper with a description of a guy - like "Bald Guy" or "Harry Potter Look-Alike Guy." The idea was to find the guy, snap a picture with him, and then the first team to have all the photos would win. (Jaisha's team won, which I have to say in retrospect is not surprising at all - she's the least shy person I know!)

After a while at Chi Cha Lounge, we headed to Policy, where Stephanie had arranged to get us the VIP treatment. We skipped the line, had our names on a list, and just headed upstairs to a private area in the corner of the dance floor with benches and tables and room to dance. There was champagne (which was brought over with sparklers attached) and other drinks. Having our own area was so great, because it wasn't crowded, we could dance or sit, and we didn't have to go to the bar for drinks.

The area was called the "Obama" area, I'm assuming because it had pictures of Obama and other presidents painted on the walls. We took tons of fun photos!

It seemed like everyone had a really good time at Policy - the Baltimore girls stayed until about 1am (when Todd came to pick them up - super nice of them to drive out to DC just for the night!). The rest of stayed until the lights came on (which was around 2 or 2:30am). From there, we mostly parted ways as people grabbed cabs. Since Policy is really close to my house, Stephanie, Katie, Liz, and I decided to just walk back and all stay at my place. We made a pit-stop at Yum's for some late-night Chinese food, and then went to my apartment, only to find that I had left my keys in my other purse at Stephanie's house. We called the lock-out line and hung out in the hallway, eventually giving up and having our Chinese food there. After about 30 or 40 minutes, we decided waiting may not be that productive (the lock-out people still hadn't gotten in touch with the guy in our building with the keys). So instead, we caught a cab and went back to Stephanie's to stay there.

It was actually ok, partly because I think it's fun to have some unexpected adventure, and also because when we woke up at Stephanie's, we had tons of left-over bagels and cream cheese to eat!

Overall, the party (which if you count having bagels at Stephanie's the next day really lasted more than 24 hours) was really amazing! It had all of the fun and girl-y elements that I imagine when I think of bridal showers and bachelorette parties! Thanks so much to Katie and to Stephanie for all their work putting everything together!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Talking to Girl Scouts about Outer Space

At Christmas, my cousin Stacie asked me if I wanted to come and speak to her daughters' girl scout troupes as part of a career-day type meeting. I was really excited about it, and got together a bunch of fun space stuff from NASA (they were really nice about giving me things for the girls!).

The two other presenters were a nurse practitioner and a police officer - they both gave good presentations. The girls seemed pretty interested in the police officer - she was in uniform and told them about all the things on her belt, including her baton, taser, and everything else.

I went last, and told the girls about some of the work I had done as an aerospace engineer - working on space suit design and learning about human factors issues on the International Space Station. I also told them about my work as a space policy analyst - I told them about the disease early warning paper, about the current debate over the future of human spaceflight, and about The Space Report. I also brought astronaut icecream. The girls all listened really attentively to the presentation, asked questions, and provided input when I asked them things. One of my cousin's daughters - Caitlyn - apparently really loved the presentation. Her mom said she was practicing her own space presentation later that night, and I gave her extra pins to bring to school the next day. There is actually a space exploration badge for the girl scouts, so maybe I'll be able to go again some time and work with them to get that badge.

It was a really fun night - I was so glad my cousin asked me to come! And, for reasons unrelated to the content of the meeting, the local news came and filmed some of my talk (it's background in a story about the current girl scout cookie controversy) - so I was on the news! (And another really funny thing - after the meeting was over, one of the cameramen came over and asked if he could have a NASA sticker, too. Awesome.)