Thursday, May 21, 2015

#BaaBaaBachelorette Welcome Bags

My bachelorette party was a few weeks ago, and it's safe to say it was absolutely the most fun I've ever had. EVER. I'll be sharing a few of my favorite photos this week, and you can find (almost) all of the shenanigans on Instagram. #BaaBaaBachelorette -- you know, as in the noise that little lambs make? As in I'm going to be a Lamb soon? Lindy, my Maid of Honor, thought of it and it's one of the 1 million reasons I'm obsessed with her. SO. FUNNY.

I felt really honored that my bridesmaids would even be bridesmaids in the first place, let alone travel somewhere for me, so I wanted to make sure it would be a fun event. (The girls live all over - Boise, Seattle, SF, and Austin.) Having spent many a weekend in Vegas in my early twenties, I felt like that was the wrong choice for me. (Been there, done that.) Napa - and a limo to take us to 100 wineries - could be great, but I felt too much guilt making them all come to me when I would just be driving a short distance over the bridge. I realized that Palm Springs would be the perfect locale. Warm weather, good food, and a relaxing pool day. (Leave it to me to choose the one hotel with a Vegas-style pool party, but more on that later.)

To thank everyone for their travels AND welcome them to the party, Lindy and I worked together to create some welcome bags for everyone. I remembered to snap a few photos to share here. (Though they're only iPhone and it was getting dark, so... ugh!) Hopefully this post will offer up a few ideas for your next girls' getaway!


1. A CUTE TOTE: I got one that has my mantra on it. Because pizza IS cheaper than therapy and it fixes EVERYTHING. I snagged it at Forever21 and it has since sold out, but this one is pretty similar. These are essential to hold all the goodies, but can also be used for the pool later in the weekend.

2. SUNGLASSES + CASE: Since we'd be in the sun, I knew sunglasses were a must. And the heart ones were perfect! Those have ALSO sold out (rats!!) but this pair or this pair are just as cute. As for the case? It's still available and totally fabulous. (Click here to purchase!)

3. BEAUTY SUPPLIES: I included a few things in this department - it is my speciality after all! A cute comb to conquer pool hair, and hair ties from my all-time favorite line - Mane Message. (I loved the pop of color they added to the bags!) I also was sure to include sunscreen and aloe vera, as well as an aloe vera sheet mask because a long day in the desert always calls for some light rejuvenation. For the evening, I made sure each girl had a Bare Minerals lip gloss. I tossed it all in a PALM print beauty bag (duh!) which might be my favorite ever. I'll be using it for years to come!

4. TEQUILA: This speaks for itself. I added a cute straw and made sure that we had Squirt to make little margs in the room. (If we had been driving somewhere, I would have made it into a little gift box with a lime and mini marg mix. Blame TSA and luggage restrictions!!) And it's not a party unless someone invites Patron... though if you'd asked us on Sunday, we might have disagreed. Which leads me to...

5. A RECOVERY KIT: I found these little "I Regret Nothing" bags on Etsy and knew I HAD to include them. First of all, adorable. Second of all, necessary. Advil and Alka Seltzer were a saving grace after a long weekend.

Tune in tomorrow for my favorite pics from the weekend!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Our Engagement Photos (Pt. 2)

As promised, here are a few more pics from the second half of our engagement photos.

We headed to Lands' End, one of the prettiest places probably in the world. It always blows my mind that we live in such a busy, noisy, crazy city - but we're 15 minutes from the ocean.

Walking along the path, there's this wall/barrier to keep the earth from falling into the ocean (or something). It's a little industrial looking and ended up being the perfect backdrop. You'd never know that on the other side of the camera is the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. The color is pretty and the lighting was perfect, so these ended up being some of our favorite photos from the session:

Then we headed down to the lookout and Erin made photo MAGIC. I did my absolute best to choose like 2 or 3 photos to post, but I couldn't. I love them all SO much:

At the end of the session, we were both freezing and a little exhausted. I looked out at the water and saw dolphins playing in the waves. (Erin captured that moment too, and it really shows off my inner nerd.) I am totally obsessed with marine life and am always searching for dolphins and whales. (I would say this is a pretty tragic obsession to have, since I get very seasick and can't go on whale watching tours.) Staring out at the "dolphin infested" water as the sun set was surreal, and was the perfect end to the day. It made me feel so relieved and thankful that after my dramatic temper tantrum, we still made engagement photos a priority.

I'll be forever grateful that we'll have these photos to mark this time in our lives. Someday, when we have been married for 30+ years and live somewhere a little slower, we'll look back at these pictures and remember when we lived in the most beautiful city on earth and our only priority was to enjoy it.

[All images by the talented Erin Conger. My hair & makeup by Katie Nash. See the first batch of photos here.]

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Our Engagement Photos (Pt. 1)

I'm a few months late on sharing these, which I can't believe... because I AM SO EXCITED about them. Call it the curse of Instagram... I post everything there and neglect this space where I'm allowed to write as long of "captions" as I want and share 900 photos if I feel like it.

And FYI, I sort of feel like sharing 900 photos. Call it vain, but I am so happy with our engagement photos that I want to post every last one. I'll refrain, but I will definitely be falling into the "oversharing" category. I'm breaking it into two posts to soften the blow, and will share a few more tomorrow.

Engagement photos were a tricky thing for us. Long story short, I really procrastinated and suddenly it was the deadline for sending out Save the Dates and I had my heart SET on including a professional photo of us. I would call it my "major wedding mental breakdown moment," and I was quoted saying "THEY EITHER HAVE A PHOTO ON THEM OR THEY ARE USELESS!!" probably 30 times. (Ok, you can call THAT vain.) I guess I just got hooked on a vision in my mind and was really pissed off at myself when I felt like the ship had sailed. It took a few days to be reminded that all wedding timelines were basically invented by Martha Stewart and at the end of the day, you can do whatever the heck you want. But more on that sentiment later.

Our friends at Western Editions (who printed our invites!!) suggested I reach out to Erin Conger - a SF photographer who has the exact style we were looking for. I was a little nervous, so I called on Katie Nash for my hair and makeup needs. She did an amazing job and, consequently, I felt much more comfortable being in front of the camera all day.

Tim and I are cheesy, but not cheesy in the sense that we wanted the pictures to be really over the top and staged. So, we told Erin that we wanted to go to a few of our favorite places - the places we've spent the most time and have the most memories.

First stop, we met Erin in Golden Gate Park. We live close to the park and have spent more Saturdays than I can count there. It's heaven on earth. (To put it lightly.)

Then, we went to the Conservatory of Flowers. This is one of our favorite places in the world. It was where we had our first official date in San Francisco. It was where we walked on our first Christmas away from our families. It was where we had our engagement party. It's where I've gone every time I feel like this city is too noisy and I need a moment. We love it:

Our final stop in the park was Strawberry Hill. On one of our many walks through GGP, I was rambling on about how I'd read about this "weird island hill thing" in the park, and I wondered where it was. A few minutes later, we saw a path we'd never been on and opted to take it. Voila, Strawberry Hill - the very spot I'd read about. We had so much fun exploring and ended up at the rope swing at the top which yields a view of the Pacific. Though these pics aren't from that day specifically, that's the memory I'll always think of when I see them:

Then we were sick of smiling and making googly eyes at each other, so we broke for refreshments and headed to the ocean. I'll share my favorite of those pics tomorrow!

[All images by the talented Erin Conger. My hair & makeup by Katie Nash.]

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Life Lately...

**This post is a little different than my typical fashion or design stuff, but has been weighing on my heart and I wanted to share in case it helps someone in a similar boat. It's a long, fairly whiny way to say - I don't have cancer. Which, right now, is pretty rad:

So, I've been the worst kind of Instagrammer lately. I know there's nothing worse than vague posts that hint at something being wrong, but never actually say what is wrong. So yeah, guilty as charged! My life has been in a total state of flux lately and as it turns out, I (mentally) don't handle it that well. I'll be sharing a lot of big news in the weeks to come (I promise I'm not click baiting. Just waiting for a few things to be official.), but in the meantime - I figured I could at least write about the most recent stuff.

As I've mentioned in the past, I have BRCA2. Long story short, this means I have a genetic mutation that puts me at a higher risk for breast cancer. This is a pretty big bummer, but who can complain? It doesn't mean I HAVE cancer. Instead, it just requires me to be more active with my screenings and vigilant with preventative care. And it means if there ever IS anything even close to cancer, I can catch it early.

My preventative care program requires yearly MRI screenings. (Mammograms have been proven risky for women under the age of 30. A screening that CAUSES cancer. What a hoot, right?) I scheduled an appointment for February and prepared to "check another item off the list." I have a lot of checklist items each year. You show up, and then it's over! Easy enough, right? I had never had an MRI before, and was surprised at how TERRIFYING it was. I had trouble breathing the entire hour. Funny how someone telling you to "breathe normal" prompts the exact opposite reaction. I was anxious, uncomfortable, and ready to get out of there. Another word to describe it could be "traumatized." I was so relieved it was over, and felt really thankful that my appointments would be done with for awhile.

A few days later, I received a call from my doctor. She told me that the results showed an abnormal spot, and that I'd need to go in for a follow-up ultrasound. I promptly began to "ugly cry," and basically went to bed at like 3pm.

The problem with having BRCA is that you sort of just wait for the day that they'll find something. You're essentially told "OKAY, you're going to get cancer. We're going to just do what we can to make sure you catch it early and don't die." So, every appointment might be a "checklist item," but they all foster the same underlying fear that it will be the time something is actually wrong. I hadn't yet had a phone call that indicated something was wrong. Instead, I've always had the calls that affirm I'm perfectly healthy and tell me to live my life normally. I would say I did NOT properly prepare my emotions.

The following weeks required a few more appointments - an ultrasound and an in-person exam, both of which didn't show the spot. I began to believe that the MRI had made a mistake (something that is actually quite common) and this was all a waste of my time. I think, for me, this is actually the toughest part of BRCA. You begin to feel an annoyance that accompanies all of this preventative care. Like, you guys - let me just go on with my life, right? It's easy to lose sight of the fact that you've got a team of very talented medical professionals watching you like a hawk to make sure you're healthy.

Even though they weren't able to locate the abnormality again, they said I needed to go for ANOTHER MRI to make sure. If they found it, they would biopsy it then. I started the eternal battle between annoyance and worry, usually residing somewhere in the middle. After a REALLY frustrating scheduling mishap (I would call being on a hospital bed in a hospital gown only to be told you had to come back in a week THE WORST), I made it back to South San Francisco for my MRI/potential biopsy. I had been doing my best to think positive, and kept making jokes about how I wasn't technically there for a biopsy. You know, because there would be nothing to biopsy.

I had taken notes from my last MRI and came prepared this time. I wore cashmere socks, dabbed lavender oil under my nose, and did breathing exercises beforehand. I was going to make this as luxurious as possible. And at the extremely wise suggestion of my doctor, I also took a Valium. The MRI began, and I was casually counting the minutes (or in this case, incredibly loud thumps) until they would wheel me out and let me go home. However, they instead said "we found it again, we're going to begin the biopsy now."

Without any control, tears started falling from my eyes. Being the vain person I am, I wore mascara to the appointment. I could see the little paper pillow turning black and I couldn't move my arms to wipe my eyes. I was SO certain there would be no biopsy. I was SO certain it was all a mistake. The fact it was real hit me like a semi truck. The biopsy itself went quickly, but was more invasive - mentally and physically - than I was prepared for.

(SIDE NOTE: at this time, the MRI technician went above and beyond her job. She came over and held my hand as the doctor got to work. This is for sure not something she's required or even expected to do. It was just a nice thing to do. I am going to be forever grateful for having a really nice human nearby in such a vulnerable moment.)

The recovery was much more painful than I anticipated, and I cursed the days I ever said I was totally down for a boob job. One tiny biopsy incision was ruining my life. Or, I just have a very low pain threshold. Either way, it was misery. And with the physical pain comes the worry. It's like having a constant, throbbing reminder that something could be very wrong with you. Something VERY wrong and it's right before a wedding, honeymoon, marriage... I hadn't been sleeping well since the first appointment in February, but this was true insomnia. Every worst-case scenario played out detail by ever-exhausting detail. I wondered about every facet of my life and what it would mean if this was, in fact, worst-case scenario.

I did my best to keep up with work and social obligations, but I just couldn't. Like I said, BRCA preps you for this moment. You KNOW that someday, someone is going to tell you that something is really wrong. It's easy to lose that eternally-sunny perspective when this might be that instance. As with all medical things, you expect to wait. I was guessing I'd be waiting until Wednesday, maybe Thursday, before I had any news. And then yesterday, on maybe the best Monday of my life, the doctor called, said it was nothing at all, and told me to have a nice day.

Voila. Poof. "It's nothing." In a one minute phone call, all of my fears evaporated and the entire ordeal was just over. (It's worth noting, I ugly cried at this point as well.)

I know that this will certainly not be my last biopsy or breast cancer scare. With BRCA, any slight abnormality will require these tests. And that by the time I go through the next one, I should probably toughen up. But since it was the first one, I wanted to write about it. I always say I want to share these things because maybe somewhere out there, there's a girl just like me who is in the same boat and has the same issues and fears. And life really isn't ALWAYS pretty, no matter how many perfectly filtered Instagram pictures we post. I think it's important to keep it real on the off chance that someone out there needs your realness right now. That's why we have the internet right?? Oh, that and cute cats. 

Anyways, that was a lot longer and more detailed than I ever planned on writing. But hey. I don't have cancer! And that's the point of this post. I do not have cancer! Pretty rad, right? I mean, 2 months ago it didn't even occur to me to worry about that. So to suddenly realize I don't have to worry anymore, and I can just go back to work and wedding planning and whole-heartedly laughing with friends, is pretty much the best feeling ever.

In addition to NOT having cancer, I DO have some really wonderful people in my life. Thank you to everyone who offered support (even the "strangers" who simply noticed something was up via my social media posts). And thank you to people who went out of their way to do nice things, like my thoughtful boss or my friend Tina who sent the most beautiful tulips (above). And most of all, thank you to my family and Tim's family and to Tim for being my support system and making every day sunny even WITH a dark looming cloud overhead. <3