Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

This is just a quick post to wish everyone a very

Happy Halloween!

And to share in the Halloween festivities with some fun photos and some post-Halloween goodness.

Me and Nick at the Halloween party we threw earlier this week.
[See more party pics on my Facebook page.]

Jade in her costume this year: a beautiful butterfly.

After Halloween is over, make leftover candy work for you--and get a jump on holiday baking--with these Halloween candy recipes I collected on Pinterest. This list includes the directions for a Kit Kat cake, which I made for a birthday party last year. I can vouch for it, it's yummy and popular! :)

My homemade Kit Kat cake, before and after it was enjoyed
by a group of high school students!

P.S. - Check out some past Halloween costumes in this post!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Honeymoon Planning: Packing + Traveling Tips

In case you've missed every wedding planning post I've written up to now, you should know, I love to pass on wedding advice to my bride friends. That, of course, includes advice on honeymoon planning! I haven't blogged much about that yet (save for a guest post), but what better time to start than now?

Getting ready to travel is one of the most stressful parts of honeymoon planning, especially if you're planning it yourself. There's the hassle of figuring out what to pack and the stress of arranging transportation. Help ease the stress with these honeymoon planning tips.

Packing Tips

1. Create a packing list in advance. As soon as you know where you're traveling to, start making a list of the things you want to pack. The more time you give yourself to make your list, the less likely you'll be to forget something. (And to help with that, check out my packing list suggestions below!)

2. Include outfits on your packing list. Don't wait until the last minute to plan your attire or you'll end up either over-packing or, worse, under-packing. Use down time before your wedding to take an inventory of pieces you have and items you'll need to buy. Also look for ways to make multiple outfits with the same pieces by mixing and matching coordinating clothes.

3. Trim your packing list. Okay, this is me preaching to the choir because I always over-pack. However, it's a really good idea to eliminate some of the non-necessities, like that extra dress or unnecessary pair of shoes. You won't want to be bogged down by a heavy suitcase or run out of room for any souvenirs you may find.

4. Pack as early as possible. Whatever you do, don't leave packing to the night before you leave, it will only add to the stress and cause you to pack more than you need. I recommend starting packing the week before if possible. Obviously you can't pack anything you'll need to wear, but you should at least start filling your suitcase with whatever you can. You can always throw in a few things last-minute, like your phone charger, camera, and some clothes.

5. Bag your liquids. Protect your clothes and accessories from potential spills by putting all your liquids in zip-top bags. Even if you're not flying to your destination, you always run the risk of something leaking. Save yourself the trouble of having to clean up your suitcase and bag up anything that could leak!

Travel Tips

1. Shop around. Always compare prices on anything for your wedding before you buy, and that includes your honeymoon travel. Don't settle on the first thing you find as there could be a money-saving alternative.

2. Consider an all-inclusive option. When we were planning our honeymoon, we mapped out prices and found that the best deal was an all-inclusive resort. It covered our room, all meals and drinks, transportation, and entertainment. Depending on where you are going and what you want to do, an all-inclusive could be the best option for you.

3. Check out RelayRides. If you need to rent a car when you reach your domestic travel destination, look into RelayRides, a peer-to-peer sharing car rental service. They have cars available at airports across the country and can help renters save money with great, low-price options. Check out their site or download their app, available in the App Store or on Google Play.

My Packing List

Honeymoon Packing List

Some things to consider putting on your list:
scarf / bobby pins / facial cleansing wipes / bronzer / spray-able sunscreen / headphones
a catch-all bag / flip-flops / phone charger / camera / wide-brimmed hat / skin-nourishing spray / lip balm
sparkly earrings / cardigan / reading material / sunglasses / wide-tooth comb / journal / pen
card game / hair ties / necklace / passport / sleep mask / beach cover-up

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sorority Photo Shoot with Alpha Epsilon Phi

Last weekend I had the pleasure of shooting photos for sorority members of Alpha Epsilon Phi at the University of Iowa. It was my first time taking pictures for a sorority and it was so much fun! We met up at Wilson's Apple Orchard in Iowa City, which is quickly becoming my favorite place to take photos. Most of the day was cloudy, but the sun decided to come out a few times. :)

If you're looking for a photographer in the Iowa City area for portraits of any kind, I'd love to hear from you! Thanks for checking out my photos and thanks to AEP for letting me take their pictures!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Getting to Know Nora: My Blue Heaven

Last week I wrote about a new project I'm starting, "Getting to Know Nora," a look at the films Nora Ephron wrote and/or directed. This week I watched the first film of the project, "My Blue Heaven."

I hadn't seen "My Blue Heaven" (MBH) before, and my past experience with Nora Ephron films has been limited to the romantic comedy genre. While this was definitely a comedy, and somewhat romantic, it felt different from Nora's films I've fallen in love with. (Think "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail.")

Initially I wasn't sure what to make of this cast of characters. Steve Martin as an over-the-top Italian mobster, Rick Moranis as a vanilla FBI agent. How was this going to work? But as the film went on, I started to appreciate it more and more.

Nora Ephron had a knack for finding humor in real life situations that real people could and do find themselves in. As I watched MBH, I couldn't help but picture this story happening somewhere, sometime, in real life. I could imagine that these characters, although slightly embellished, had really existed in Nora's life, and that she drew from them to make this movie.

Nora also calls her actors to commit 100 percent to their characters. There's no half-way, it's all or nothing. Sometimes actors seem like the same character in movie after movie. Nora's actors have to evolve, they have to buy into their character and then sell the story so well that the viewer forgets who they are and sees only the character. And then as the viewer, you once again start to believe that this character could actually exist.

I also appreciate that Nora paints a picture of people who fully embrace their lives and the situations they experience. It's a great challenge for us as viewers. Would we embrace our lives like these characters? Would we grab life with both hands and merengue our way through it? Would we be willing to take chances for something amazing? I love that her characters are sold on where they are.

Nora wasn't only a writing genius, she was also a comic genius. She knew what would make viewers laugh, whether it was a humorous quote, a relatable blunder, or a ridiculous conversation. This movie made both Nick and I laugh out loud.

I think this was a great place to start with the project. I'm thinking for the next film I'll go with one I own, just to give me time to find one I don't. Next up I'll be re-watching and note-taking on "Sleepless in Seattle." Usually I like to watch it around Christmas time, but I think it will be good to go with that next. I hope you'll join me! In the mean time, if you've seen MBH, what are your thoughts on the writing/characters/storyline? Do you agree with my thoughts or think they're totally crazy? Leave me a comment! :)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Getting to Know Nora: A Project

When people used to ask me what my favorite movie was, I had a hard time picking. There was my "Black Stallion" phase, my "Lord of the Rings" obsession, and my "Never Been Kissed" addiction. There are so many good films, it's difficult to pick just one favorite. But lately, I think I've got it pretty narrowed down.

My favorite movie is "You've Got Mail," hands down. It hasn't always been the top favorite, but it's grown on me over time as I've come to appreciate its excellence in casting, setting, and most of all, in its writing.

"You've Got Mail" was written and directed by the late, talented Nora Ephron, who I am convinced was a writing genius. The dialogue in the movie is perfect--witty, quotable, thoughtful, melodious, and carefully crafted. I've always sort of marveled at it because writing dialogue is, at times, a struggle for me. At least dialogue that flows and feels natural. Nora makes it seem easy and at the same time, it feels like she spent time carefully choosing each word.

So the other night I was watching a different Nora Ephron film, "Julie and Julia," and I got to thinking about a couple things. First, I was thinking about Nora's writing skills again and how I have seen a shamefully small number of her movies. I decided I needed to work on that. Then, I got an idea from the premise of the movie, in which the main character Julie blogs about her experiences in cooking her way through Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" cookbook.

I decided I should blog my way through each of the movies Nora wrote and/or directed. This will force me to do more than sit there and think about her writing, but to also write about it. I want to look for her style, what makes her writing memorable, and what we as a movie-loving culture lost when she passed away. I won't be looking to review the movies themselves as none are new. (I also cannot vouch for or be held responsible for the content or ratings of the movies.)

If this project sounds utterly ridiculous, feel free to skip these entries. But if it sounds interesting, or if you share an appreciation for Nora Ephron flicks, I would love it if you joined me. I'll be watching each of the movies from the list below in no particular order because I don't know how long it will take me to acquire some of them. (Others I own, bet you can guess at least one!) For the films I've seen, or practically memorized, I will be re-watching them with the intent of pulling new observations from them.

I'll be starting off with "My Blue Heaven," which Nick rented for me after I shared this idea with him. When I post my response to it, I'll share the next movie I'll be watching. That way if you're really excited and want to watch along, you'll have some forewarning. ;)

Films I'll be watching include the following [check mark indicates the film has been viewed/blogged about]:

When Harry Met Sally
This is My Life
Sleepless in Seattle
Mixed Nuts
You've Got Mail
Hanging Up
Lucky Numbers
Julie and Julia

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, now or in the future. Lame idea? Kind of cool? Agree Nora's kind of a genius? Or maybe just think I'm crazy? Whatever it is, leave it in the comments and I'll get back with you. :)
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