Monday, August 10, 2015

#HappilyEmreyAfter: The Bachelorette Party Edition

aka #SweatingfortheWedding.

This past weekend was my bachelorette party and I almost couldn't write this post because I had the hardest damn time putting words to it.

On Monday, before the party, I had written an email to the lovely ladies on the invite list telling them how ooey gooey I was already getting inside thinking about how much this weekend meant to me. I have been repeatedly blessed over and over and over again with what can only be described as a bunch of baller ass women. And when I thought about what it would be like when the majority of those baller ass women were all under the same roof for a weekend celebrating the fact that I found the love of my life...whoa, the waterworks were on and there was no sign of them stopping.

 Friday I picked up my favorite Texan from the airport and we piled into a car and made the trek north to Door County. The group's timing couldn't have been more perfect as the entire caravan of vehicles all arrived within minutes of each other. A car full of Internet Friends, a car full of Minnesotans pulled in shortly after we did. We stayed in an adorable house with enough space for 14 of us to sprawl and enough counter space for the plethora of booze and snacks that accompany a group of well planned drinkers/eaters.

Amy handed me a "Future Mrs. Clay Matthews" wine glass for drinking. Mel and Rachel handed me a gun holster beer coozy. My MOH Gina was turning our kitchen into a Chipotle so I could recreate one of my favorite meals ever for dinner. (Seriously, right down to the salsa options, she NAILED it.) We cued up the playlist, poured drinks and it was happening... MY Bachelorette party. It started to feel a little surreal. (BUT, I had locked it up and hadn't cried, NOT EVEN ONCE!) Here's where the locking failed and I cried, but only a little! 13 of the coolest people I know, my closest friends all gathered around a table and talked about how they met me, funny stories we had together and how they met/know/got to know Tom.

Now, I know these people pretty well so I had a pretty good idea of how the weekend was going to play out. I know there would be a lot of fun. I was certain there would be music and dancing. I even had a pretty good inkling that there would be delicious food and hella planning that would turn into the most well executed bachelorette party ever. What I could not have possibly imagined or prepared for was the overwhelming feeling of awesome that happened over and over throughout the weekend. I would be going along, talking and hanging out and all of a sudden it would hit me like a ton of bricks. Individually I have known each of them and we have forged a friendship, built memories and connected. But to see those individuals connected was one of the coolest things EVER.

I also could have cried (and did when I got home--you're welcome ladies) over the thought and consideration that went into this weekend. They thought of EVERYTHING. Meals, snacks, drinks, coozies, bride accessories that didn't include penises, EVERYTHING was exactly me. And every time I turned around, someone was doing something thoughtful. I have never felt so spoiled in my entire life. 

I am so incredibly lucky to have found my partner for life. I'm even luckier that he's also my best friend. But lucky doesn't do justice to the fact that I was carried by this incredible group of women until I found him. I am so unbelievably thankful for the planning, hard work and thought that went into this weekend. Every single detail was perfect and I'm just so freaking lucky to have you all.

Monday, July 6, 2015


365* days ago, I met Tom. 383 days ago, I wrote this post. One year later, all of it is still true. He made me smile bigger and laugh harder. He has more than won my heart. He's kept my heart happy, my tummy full of butterflies and forever in his hands. A lot has happened in 365 days. We've moved in together, we've met each others families and we've gotten engaged. In 13
0ish days we'll be getting married.

Much like the post I first wrote about him, he still leaves me pretty wordless. Sometimes when I think about it too much it kind of blows my mind. He's my very best friend. He keeps me on my toes. He challenges me in a way I've never been challenged. 

One of my good friends got to meet him for the first time this past weekend. She's seen other boyfriends come and go and has a pretty good gauge of ghosts of Angie's dating past. She said to me, "Ang, Tom is really funny. And he challenges you. In a totally different way than the others have. And you put up with it way more than you ever did. 366 days ago, if you could have asked me "How would you like your friends to describe the man you're going to marry?" I may not have been able to give you that exact answer but that is so much of what I had hoped for during all those single days. Someone to make me laugh and make me better. 

He encourages me, supports me, tolerates me and loves me. He has a calming way about him when I've gotten maybe a little too high strung. He rolls with the punches when I'm planning to the minute. He even knows when I'm about to get cranky and forgives what I might say when I'm hangry. 

We haven't been together all that long, we haven't even known each other all that long. But in 365 days we've navigated our way through living under one roof, planning a wedding, death, job changes and so much more. He's my best friend, my love and my everything. 
I can't wait for the rest of our lives. 

*Disclaimer: I wrote this post on Saturday but didn't post it until today because blogging is hard... 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Adventure, Round 2.

Ok, better late than never on this. The last few weeks have been a little crazy. (As evidenced by the THREE different suitcases we have in the bedroom right now that have been used over the course of the last 3 weeks and not yet unpacked but more or less redistributed to the next one. I swear, this weekend I am doing laundry.)

My future sister-in-law had this waiting for me when we arrived. We're both becoming Mrs. Emrey in 2015!

There was a second part to this vacation story, which was really the entire cause of the vacation story. Tom's brother Troy and his (now wife) Chelsea got married! We arrived in Paso Robles, CA Saturday afternoon and as we drove through the quaint "Main St." downtown area, I knew I'd be just fine settling in here for the next 36 ish hours. (Note: when the entire vacation covers 3 cities in only 96ish hours total, no stop lasts for too long!) It reminded me of a smaller version of the Napa Valley/Sonoma area--but more of a well kept secret. There were vineyards and wineries everywhere you turned, adorable antique stores, cute little restaurants and when I saw the barbershop (called a barbershop) complete with the red, white and blue spinny thing? I was sold. This girl LOVES Small Town, USA. 

Fortunately on this leg of the trip we had little to worry about as the schedule and lodging were all figured out. The bride and groom rented an adorable brick house just off Main St. for their bridal party and families to stay at. It was really nice for everyone to be all in one place, specifically for me who knew NO ONE upon arrival. I met Tom's family (including 2 brothers, a soon-to-be sister in law, a stepmom, her fiance and a handful of complicatedly related relatives). Thankfully, everyone was awesome and we got along right off the bat. We changed clothes and ran off to the rehearsal dinner. The wedding was held a favorite winery of Troy & Chelsea's and we weren't on premise for more than 10 minutes before we were offered wine. That's my kinda place! 

Saturday we took the groom and his men (thankfully they allowed a female to tag along) out to breakfast at Cowgirl Cafe (me, still in heaven). We leisurely ate and I realized just how lucky men have it on the day of a wedding. Following breakfast we took care of a couple necessary errands including a hair cut (thanks to a text from Grammy insisting Tommy get his hair cut for the big day) and a stop to meet Mother of the Groom at a vineyard. Look, when mother of the groom says she needs a wine drinking buddy, you're not just going to let her drink alone!

The wedding was beautiful, relaxed and clearly Troy and Chelsea - which I could already tell, even in only really knowing them for about 24 hours at that point. By the time the reception hit, I felt like I had made best friends with at least half of the guests...and probably also the bartender who knew my order before I was even within reaching distance of the bar.
My fiance was the life of the party and I beamed the entire time to be the lucky girl on his arm.
When in wine country...

Managed to snag myself a seat at the head table with the other Emreys.

First dance: Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud" (you KNOW there were tears).

Tommy gave a hell of a Best Man speech (there was laughter and tears--despite him not recalling anything he said). There was dancing. There was drinking. There were even bats for a brief period of time.

Apparently there was an afterparty at the house we were staying the dining room which shared a wall and was right outside our bedroom door. Tom and I, being basically professional old people at this point, popped in our ear plugs and were out like lights before midnight.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Adventure, Round 1.

As I mentioned yesterday, Tom and I just got back from our first real vacation and adventure away together. That alone could give you a little set of nerves. Will we travel well together? Can we hit some road bumps and work through them together as a team instead of against each other? Will he still love me after a potential travel related meltdown?! (I've been known to have them on occasion. Last minute travel plan changes don't really go over all that well with my Type A, control freak tendencies. Go figure.)

Well, we passed with flying colors. We were traveling rockstars and handled everything together and in stride. Our flight arrived at LAX at 5:00, also known as rush hour, in a city known for slow moving traffic at any time of day. We shuttled to our rental car where we experienced our first little win of the trip. Tom had been talking about getting a really cool car since the wedding location took us four hours north of LA and there were some scenic routes to be traveled. Specfically, he wanted a convertible. Financially Responsible and Practical Angie (or Buzkill Angie, depending on who you asked) had reserved a "premium" sedan for the comfort and price. As we walked out on the lot, Chad, our friendly Enterprise associate, asked if we'd be interested in an upgrade. I hesitated, Tom responded with a resounding, "YES!" (One I'm certain he had been holding in since we went wheels up in Milwaukee.) Then Chad asked THE question, "Would you be at all interested in a convertible?" Before I could ask about cost, Tom asked if he could hug Chad. We were clearly not Chad's first good cop/bad cop duo because before I could even form words, good ol' Chad informed us the "premium" inventory was low, so the convertible would be ours at no additional charge. You win, Chad, you win.

From this moment on, when Tom mentioned "his girl" this is what he was referring to.

So we climbed into our new ride for the weekend, me beaming for not spending extra money and Tom proudly behind the wheel of a Camaro.

Our trip had us doing more than a flight there and back. We spent Friday night outside of LA in Glendale where Tom is originally from. I got to see where he lived growing up, where his family lived and his favorite spots in the area. Having only ever dated people who lived near where I was from, it's been a LONG time coming for me to get to see his life pre-Wisconsin. We swung through his old neighborhood and snapped this quick pic from the view outside his grandparents former house on the appropriately named Wonderview Dr.

View from Wonderview Drive.

We had dinner with his brother (only the 2nd family member I had ever met!) and second dinner (which because of our short time frame actually IN Glendale was required in order for him to consume all of his favorite meals) at Tommy's. Note: He still loves me even though I denounced the chili on top of his burger from Tommy's, something he's been raving about since our very first date. He'll keep me around, even if I order chili-less burgers from Tommy's. #TrueLove

Saturday morning we stopped for an all to brief visit with Grammy before we were on the move again. Traveling about four hours north to Paso Robles, CA where the wedding festivities would be held. We also made a stop for lunch at Del Taco, another of Tom's MUST HAVES while in CA. (I was again not as impressed as he was hoping and yet he didn't kick me out of the car!)

He's only smiling because this is before I mentioned I didn't care for Del Taco.

Time constraints meant we couldn't travel up the coast which bummed Tom out quite a bit, but I thought the drive was stunning. We saw mountains, valleys, hills, flat lands and vineyards. My most frequent long commute is from Milwaukee to Minneapolis, so as long as there's SOMETHING to look, it's a more scenic route than I'm used to!


More mountains!

Prairies AND mountains!

We also learned the harsh reality that in May in CA those overcast skies will open WIDE up in no time at all and it will go from 55 to 85 in a matter of hours. Also, you will be in a car without sunscreen and NOT A SINGLE gas station will have any for purchase. Which is how we both ended up with some less than ideal... burn lines? We're too red to even think of calling these tan lines. Fortunately, at the 3rd stop, my forward-thinking fiance thought to grab aloe vera. Because despite not having a DROP of SPF anything, that gas station did have aloe vera, which was beyond appreciated later that night.

More to come in Round 2. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"I Wasn't Done."

This weekend Tom and I took our first official vacation to see his family out in California and attend his brother's wedding. It's a trip I've been looking forward to for a while, for many reasons. And it was every bit as amazing as I thought it would be.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was getting to see him interact with his family and meet the people he's been talking about for the 10 months we've been dating. It's strange that I'm just meeting them now because I feel like I knew them all already. One of our stops included visiting his Grammy, who I had already decided I would very much so enjoy. We talk to her often and she texts me regularly (yes, you read that right, Grammy works an iphone and texts with the best of them!) so I feel like I've gotten to know her, but it was so nice to BE there with her. We talked about Tommy as a kid, about the places she's lived in Glendale and where she lived before that.

It's clear when you talk to Grammy she considers herself quite fortunate. She's had two great loves, three children, and a handful of grandchildren. She's sharp as a tack and still living life after all this. My favorite part about our visit was listening to her talk about her relationships. With our wedding being a short 170ish days away, I love hearing people's experiences and advice about marriage and getting married. Grammy and I have already bonded about being cougars and finding younger men to date and marry. While we were visiting she showed me pictures of Dana, her second love. She considers herself quite lucky to have found two great loves in life and I admire her for her willingness to let it happen again after her first husband, Gramps, passed away.

She talked about how special it was that her and Dana were able to share life during the retirement phase, that they were able to spend every moment together, every day. She showed pictures of trips they had taken, birthdays they had celebrated and of their wedding day. She pointed out how, in every picture, Dana always had his arm around her. She remembers the first day he ever put his arm around her, June 11th. It was all so special.

She was beaming in those pictures. I commented to her, "You look so incredibly happy." And more than anything I'll take away from that visit and her marriage advice was how she responded... she grabbed my hand and said, "Oh Angie, I wasn't done loving him."

I hope to have many of the same blessings Grammy has had over her life, more than anything I hope I'm never finished loving that Grandson of hers. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

So You're Getting Married, Part II

Earlier this year I wrote "So You're Getting Married" with a list of a few things I learned while starting the process of planning my wedding.

Today I bring you part II in that series. This is a more focused post, specifically when it comes to vendors.

When I got my first tattoo (I was 16 and had parents who agreed a small flower was fine and being 16 I was too shocked my parents said yes to give it much additional thought. Thankfully I still like it 15 years later!) the man who wielded the needle was a kind older man who looked a lot like Santa Claus. If Santa Claus had a spider web tattoo on his elbow and ink over more than 50% of his body. Maybe he was just an old man with a beer and a bowl full of jelly. Whatever, he was really nice. And I remember thinking, "huh, that's so nice that he's a big bad biker dude (which I, at the time, assumed anyone with that many tattoos had to be) and he's still so sweet to me." Looking back, Santattoo (I just came up with that, right now. That's hysterical.) was probably more terrified of a panicked 16 year old chick with her two parents in tow getting a tattoo than I should have been of him ... Perspective and whatnot. He helped me tweak the design a little bit. Choose a color that wouldn't fade. Even took a break (in the midst of the TINY design that took 15 minutes TOTAL) when I thought I was going to pass out because I saw blood and waited while my dad ran to the gas station next door to get me a Snickers so I could bring my blood sugar back up. (I had NO business getting a tattoo, NONE.)

When I got my second tattoo, the guy was an ass. Told me the design I chose was too small, he couldn't do it in more than one color and he barely spoke to me the entire time. Rushed through the whole thing. And I remember thinking that time, "Huh, I don't think that's how you're supposed to be. Santatto should teach lessons or something." Years later, when I was no longer 18 and (somehow even more) stupid, I realized that should have been a red flag and I should have taken my money and hightailed it out of that place because someone who can't treat a customer with respect has no business leaving permanent markings on them. #LifeLessons.

Now at this point you may be wondering what the hell I'm talking about. Did I get a wedding related tattoo? (No, but now that's a thing I'm thinking about wanting.) Did I ask Santattoo to marry us? (Nope, that's probably slightly outside of the feel we're going for with this wedding.)

Here's where it ties in to the wedding. That lesson was true and extends far beyond just the "ink world". When you have a business that involves some sort of service, you should not be an asshole to people. You just shouldn't. But there are a lot of people, place and companies that stop JUST short of that. I would highly recommend, when it comes to getting married, you avoid those people/places/companies at all costs. Because here's another thing I've learned: weddings are expensive. You are spending a lot of your hard earned money (or if you're lucky, someone else's hard earned money) on one of the biggest days of your life. There is NO place, in ANY of that for someone who isn't nice or helpful.

Thankfully, that is not the experience we have had. For as much as I gush about how awesome our wedding is going to be, I gush *almost* as hard about how incredible our vendors are. They are smart and helpful and encouraging and funny and OH MY GOSH CAN WE ALL JUST GET MARRIED?! (Kidding, I'm all set with just the one fiance.) They have helped me think of the little details I maybe would have never thought of. They tolerate my long lists of questions. They gladly (or at least in front of me) draft up version number 7 of a contract after I change my mind one last time. They take time and sit with Tom and I to make sure our day will be perfect. They've bought us lunch and given marriage advice and made us feel so damn good about the day we're planning.

Basically, my wedding day will be as amazing as it's going to be, due in LARGE part to the incredible team of people we've chosen to work with. And I would like to strongly recommend that you either work with these people or make absolutely certain that whatever vendors you choose, make you feel that same way.

Laura Zastrow Photography - I met Laura 2 1/2 years ago when she photographed another friend's wedding. Before I even saw a SINGLE picture she had taken, I told her she was going to be my photographer if I ever got married. Since then, she's become THE BEST photographer in Madison, according to Madison Magazine. She takes ridiculously incredible pictures (like some of my very favorites below) and she's managed to stay every bit as awesome.

Source: Laura Zastrow Photography

Source: Laura Zastrow Photography

Source: Laura Zastrow Photography

Smoke Shack (Hospitality Democracy) - Specifically Ryan, who's been our catering/wedding planning extraordinaire. Ryan has not only helped us figure out a menu and all of the catering related logistics, but EVERY time I get an email or have a conversation with that man I learn something new/think of something I never would have on my own. (For instance, always include your last names and wedding date in an email signature to vendors to help them keep organized.) He has helped us coordinate details with other vendors, helped craft the most delicious menu and does it all with patience and a smile. Had the BBQ not been enough, Ryan sealed the deal on Smoke Shack.

Anodyne Coffee - Lindsay, the event coordinator at Anodyne, had her wedding there before she started working there. This girl knows the ins and outs of the place from both sides and is willing to share every last detail she can think of. And, AND, after our first meeting, she sent me a SEVENTEEN page PDF master document that contained every single detail she had for her own wedding. Be still my detail loving, organization needing, Type A control freak heart. Honestly, besides being nice, friendly and patient (sensing a theme here? I ask a lot of questions) a woman who has a master document like that is MY PEOPLE.

Amelishan Bridal Shop -  Jane was the sweetest woman. She couldn't have been more than 5' tall with arms of steel. Seriously, bridal gowns are stupidly heavy for the most part and she would walk through that store with a few on each side, held far above her head (because she's so tiny) getting all the dresses that me, mom and Siobhan would ask for. But, beyond being sweet and incredibly helpful, Jane would say things like, "now remember, when it's altered to fit you, you won't have that bra fat in the back" or "when it's your size you'll have just the right amount of appropriate cleavage" and THAT is the stuff a bride-to-be needs to hear!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Goals, resolutions or just getting sh*t done.

Way back in January I decided instead of haphazardly setting resolutions or goals for the year I was going to spend the month figuring out what it was exactly that I wanted to happen this year. I researched how to successfully set goals. What others were focusing on. Whether it should be small actions with combined larger results, or one big giant goal that takes the whole year, or a word to use as a mantra... there's options. And everyone has a reason for their own.

Then, the threat all Type A, control freak personalities face came knocking. I had possibly overanalyzed the decision and became overwhelmed by the information at hand and decided I should just ease up and let it come to me.

Fast forward to present day and it's March and I haven't set any sort of specific goal. (Sometimes I amaze even myself at how quickly I can go from too much control and planning to absolutely none at all. It's truly a talent.) I mean, to be fair, I did totally redirect all control and logistical focus towards planning a wedding, so it's not like I was just sitting on my ass...but still.

So I decided this past weekend to spend a little bit of time figuring out what I wanted out of 2015. I mean, it's shaping up to be a pretty big year for me (did you hear I'm getting married?!) and I know there will be a lot of external situations brining change. I also, for the most part, hate change. So I'm trying to figure out how I might balance the chaos, encourage positive internally driven change and end 2015 feeling like I've actually accomplished what I set out to do.

I've kind of decided on a hybrid of things to focus on but ultimately the come together and work with each other for the greater good of... me.

My first major focus came from a quiz I took from a "Commit to You" yoga challenge through Gaiam TV. My mantra that resulted from this challenge quiz was "I am here."

I have always struggled with being in the present. See: being 4 years old and asking for a briefcase for Christmas so I could play pretend "go to work" which was just me announcing "I'm going to work!" and then standing between the storm door and the front door holding my briefcase. I've always been too excited by what's next to truly focus on what's currently happening. I need to be more present in all that I do. Quit tweeting while I'm composing an email while listening to a podcast.  Eat your dinner. Not eat your dinner while you snapchat as you watch Gilmore Girls. Actually BE in the current pose of yoga instead of anticipating the next cue. Truly listen to people when they're talking instead of thinking what my response will be. There's little moments in every single day that make up our day, our week, our year and our life. I need more moments, less milestones.

So, for 2015, I will be present. I am here. Wherever the hell here may be.

Truly assess EVERY SINGLE aspect I allow into my life. Every task I fill my time with. If I'm going to choose to be in a moment, I must want to be there - either because it's brining me joy or value. For example, I will spend time with people who make me happy, instead of negative forces. That brings me joy. I will workout more. Despite it possibly not making me happy at all in the present moment, it brings a necessary value to my life. That value might be toned arms for a wedding dress. Or preventing an ass so fat it doesn't fit in pants. It can vary from day-to-day. This applies to people, activities, things and even food. (Sweet baby Jesus does it apply to food... It's tough to intentionally eat and find value in a big mac - I mean, I CAN do it, but it's harder than broccoli.)

In order to truly be present and intentional, there must be less clutter. Less noise. Less distraction. My second focus of this year is to be minimalistic. I have more stuff than I need. Side note: while I was procrastinating on setting a goal, and after being motivated by my friend Gina who's currently decluttering while raising a toddler, I stumbled upon this decluttering challenge and decided that was a good start. I've been throwing away sh*t regularly and it's pretty freeing! At first, I was all, "But this champagne flute from Alpha Chi Omega formal circa 2007 is VERY special." But then, I was all, "NIKOLAS. You have 17 champagne flutes and have never ONCE had a toast of any kind in this home. Pick 4 and ditch the rest." Unfortunately, the AXO flute wasn't part of a matching foursome and will soon belong to some random person seeking fanciness at Good Will. I have lived in my house for 9 years, have barely had to consolidate a single closet or cupboard. I have things I've forgotten I owned TWICE. 

There are some other little goals I'm working on... eating better, working out more, getting up earlier in the morning, being on time... but they all ladder up to these mantras, intentions, whatever you want to call them. I'm still figuring out how the all come to life in the every day kind of way...but it's working for me. Sometimes I'll intentionally eat some pizza. I'm still going to multi-task because that's a sickness I can't kick. And I'm sure I'll become a nostalgic sucker and keep a damn t-shirt form 1997 because I've convinced myself it's important. But, I'll seek improvement in these areas and that'll be a big fat win. Plus, now it exists on the internet so it's real and I have to stick to it. That's how cyberspace works, you know?