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Monday, September 30, 2013

1st Blogiversary! Amazed and Confused

Wow it is incredible to think that it has been ONE YEAR since I began blogging! (Ok technically it's tomorrow.)

I never thought that my little blog would be where it is today. And I never thought I'd enjoy blogging as much as I do either!

Blogging has become this amazing journey of discovering my desire to write and share my thoughts with others, connect with people across the country (and world!) and learn more about myself in the process. It has inspired me to cook more, grow more, create more, adventure more, and overall live a better life.

Gracious, how did I even get here?

A drive to share my experiences with others and YOU.

The main thing that makes blogging incredible is YOU. My beautiful, sweet and smart readers! Ok and you fellas are handsome, caring and intelligent ;-) Can't leave out the guys!

Blogging would be pointless if it weren't for the readers. Whether you're simply looking for a delicious and healthy recipe or you're a die-hard blog reader or a blogger yourself, you're so important.

So to kick off my 1st blogiversary week, I want to say THANK YOU to my lovely readers and now, I want to learn a little more about you!

For fun I'll post my answers down below the poll! I look forward to reading your responses and I'll work on making fun graphs (did I just call graphs "fun"?) later in the week!

  • I am in my 20s (25 to be precise).
  • I am a lady.
  • I am a veterinary receptionist.
  • I rent a townhouse.
  • I live in Virginia, USA.
  • In my spare time I do all of the above except sing (I try, but fail) and shop.
  • My life would not be complete without my spouse and my pets mostly.
  • My least favorite social media site is a a 6-way tie. I like Facebook and that's about it.  Ok Pinterest is super addicting too.

Speaking of Facebook, have you "liked" my Facebook page yet? If not you can click HERE to do so!

You can also follow me on Pinterest HERE.

No question today, just fill out the poll if you have a moment, please and thank you!

Till next time,

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

{Wedding Wednesday} How to Survive a Wedding Expo

Welcome to another Wedding Wednesday! It's quickly become my favorite day of the week! I absolutely LOVE going back through my wedding planning materials and reliving it all!

Today I want to go over my advice for surviving a wedding expo. Bridal show, wedding showcase, bridal expo, wedding expo, whatever it's called, it can be extremely overwhelming. Depending on the size of the show, you could be faced with anywhere from 20 to 200 vendors! And all of them want your business. 

So without further ado, here's my advice for how to make the most of your bridal show experience!

Go to several and go early!

I went to 3 different bridal shows way before my wedding date. You want to go pretty much as early as you can. Even if you're on the verge of engaged and there's a show coming up, go to it! I went to the 2nd Forever Yours Dream Wedding Showcase on February 21, 2010, the Richmond Bridal Showcase on January 9, 2011 and the Richmond Wedding Expo on June 26, 2011. We didn't get married until March 24, 2012! Each time it was just my mom and I that went. Bringing more than 1-2 other people can just get crazy. Bringing your fiance is not required and he will probably thank you for not dragging him along. If he wants to be involved, by all means, he can come! But honestly, it's more of a bride/girl thing and chances are he won't have much fun. 

Also, "go early" means to get to the show early. If it's on from 12pn-4pm, don't wait until 2pm! You want to get there early so you have enough time to go through the booths at least once, preferably twice. It's a lot to take in, a lot to see, do and there are tons of vendors to talk to. Plus, many expos will have exhibitions going on throughout the day. It could be a runway show of bridal party attire, wedding dresses, photographer slideshows or even a DJ or band performing. Check the schedule on the expo's website ahead of time to get an idea of who and what you want to be sure to see! 

If you like a vendor then take their info!

Don't assume you'll remember the company name or website. Even if they're out of business cards, write. it. down. Even if it's a service you're not sure you'll use (like a limo company or a wedding planner), err on the side of caution and take the info. Later on you can filter through and decide what you'll need and what you won't.

Take your time

Like I said before, give yourself plenty of time to visit every booth. You don't want to miss anything. Go early and plan to stay for a few hours. It can be exhausting but you want to be thorough. Plus, if the door prizes are must-be-present-to-win, you don't want to miss out!

Be prepared

Bring your planner, a pen or pencil, a tote bag and a water bottle. Sometimes vendors or the show will have these things for attendants but don't count on it. Be ready to write your name, fiance's name, phone number and e-mail address about a hundred times. Oh and don't eat a big meal before going, but do eat something. Very often, caterers and bakers will have samples available to try so you don't want to be too full to try them! And don't stress about your "wedding diet," just eat the tiny square of cake and be happy.

Enter any and all giveaways

Unless the prize is something you know you'd never use or couldn't give to a friend, enter them all! The show will most likely be hosting some giveaways/door prizes as well as many of the vendors. Vendors will also do their own giveaways. Some will have raffles, some will have spinner wheels and some will just be offering discounts for anyone who books with them at the show. Think carefully before signing up for those, though. You don't want to get stuck with a vendor you're not sure about.

Get Organized

When you get home from the show, kick back and take a breather. Then, get yourself organized. If you haven't already, get a 3 ring binder and sort all of your goodies. Creating a wedding organizer will be a whole separate post but it's something you should definitely do! Sort your brochures, pamphlets, business cards and price lists by category and make an initial "toss" pile. Again, there will probably be some info you take from vendors you really don't think you'll use so feel free to toss them. If there's a photographer you liked but is waaay out of your budget, toss it. There's no need to bum yourself out over something you can't have. 

Budget it

If you've already established a wedding budget, factor in the bridal shows. It counts. 

Enjoy it!

Last but not least, as always, enjoy it! Breathe, smile, eat, laugh. Meet other brides, meet vendors, don't stress. 

And there you have it, my advice for making the most of wedding expos! If you are in the Virginia/D.C./Maryland area, then keep an eye out for expos all the time. Richmond and D.C. have multiple shows each year and they are top notch! To find wedding expos near you, simply Google it. Don't exclude nearby large cities, that's probably where most will be held. 

Have you been to a wedding expo yet? If you have, what was your favorite part about it?

Till next time,

If you're a fellow blogger and are interested in guest posting for this series, shoot me an e-mail at CatherinePageWood@gmail.com! Or, even if you're not a blogger and would like to share your wedding story or advice, send me an e-mail! I would LOVE to share your stories!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out the other editions of Wedding Wednesday!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ivy Creek Park with the Pups

Took the pups to Ivy Creek Park tonight for a little stroll around.

It was a lovely warm evening. Perfect for a walk!

Thought I'd share the few pictures I took on the way :-)

This is how you walk with two hound breeds. Noses to the ground!

Crossing the bridge. 

Pretty wooded paths.

Focus, guys! Focus! They insisted on snorting every single smell of every single person, plant, and animal that has ever been through here.

I recently learned that this is jewelweed. It's small but pretty and has a lovely citrus smell if you walk by enough of it.

Momentary pause where they lifted their faces from the ground. Well, sort of for Jill, she's always at ground level. 

Poor old Jill needed a break so we sat down on a bench in front of the lake to rest.

"Hey guys...hey! Come here, sit pretty for a picture."

"Look cute and stuff."

"Both of you look at me!"

"Oh for crying out loud." 

I took probably a dozen more trying to get one where they were both looking at me. It never happened. 

Oh well.

It was a nice evening and now they are thoroughly tired...even though it wasn't a very long walk! They're just old!

How do you enjoy the outdoors when the weather is nice?

Till next time,

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

{Wedding Wednesday} Choosing a Photographer

Choosing a photographer for your wedding can be extremely nerve wracking! I mean, who you choose will be documenting the most important day of your life and you definitely don't want to miss anything! I've already been through that mess so here are my tips so you have an easier time! 

These cherry blossoms had bloomed just in time for our wedding. Beautiful!

Be Picky!

Man oh man I can't stress this one enough. I wish I had been more picky because I definitely learned the hard way. I met countless photographers at bridal shows and looked through countless more online. We only ended up meeting with two of them but after we got our photos back, I regretted not being pickier. "Why?" you ask? For starters, and this is a doozy, there is not ONE posed formal or creative formal photo of Brian and I! Not one!! Sure there are pictures of us saying our vows and dancing but not one of just the two of us after the ceremony. It was something very obvious that should have been done but my photographer insisted on rushing the posed formals so we could get to the reception quickly. He also neglected to get any pictures of my family and I together. In the very beginning I wanted to do a "reveal" with Brian and I so we could do our posed/creative formals BEFORE the ceremony (we had more than enough time for it!) but our photographer basically told us no. 

Gracious...I need an entire post to rant about all this mess! 

Me getting my dress out!

Meet With Multiple Photographers

As I mentioned before, I wish we had met with more than just two. I thought that would be enough. I would recommend talking to (whether meeting in person, phone conversation or e-mail) as many photographers as you can. When you go to bridal shows (and go to several of those!) try and speak with every photographer and take business cards, price lists, and brochures. If you just plain don't like their style, then move on. If you meet with multiple photographers, you'll be able to see how well you get along with them and if your styles mesh together. This is important! You want to have a good working relationship with them.

I can tell you right now these pictures were my idea!

My traditional photographer would have never thought to highlight our TOMS! 

Pick Your Style - Traditional vs Artistic vs Blend

Usually photographers are one or the other. There are several different styles but usually photographers tend to be traditional or artistic. Traditional style is very posed and formal. There's not a lot of room for creativity. It's more rigid and planned than anything else. A photographer that is more artistic will do cool angles, soft focus, creative poses and more. I must've thought that was too "yuppie" for me at the time or maybe I just wasn't paying attention. I wanted more of a blend but my photographer ended up being very traditional. We literally took three photos outside. Everything else was under the unforgiving sanctuary lights standing up straight and smiling pretty. There were actually three photographers shooting our wedding and I can always tell when one of the two younger, creative interns took the shot! Either that or it was something creative that I suggested. 
Check out this article for the other styles and their descriptions.

Brian, his groomsmen and our pastor who officiated.

Have Multiple Photographers

Like I said, I had three photographers shooting our wedding. My original plan was to have at least two. The third was no extra charge because she was an intern in training. The way I saw/see it is that one photographer won't be able to capture every moment. Case in point: When the bride walks down the isle, you want a picture of the groom's face as he sees his bride and the bride's face as she sees her groom. (Yet another thing my photographers didn't catch even though I specified wanting it.) 
Another example is that maybe a friend starts break dancing at the reception but the photographer is capturing you hugging your Great Aunt Edna. You want to capture every moment! Multiple photographers can be expensive though so keep that in mind. But don't nix the idea simply because of money. Keep your eye out for things like "free second photographer with 8 hours of shooting" or maybe a more novice photographer that will be willing to be a second shooter for free. It's best if they've worked together before though. That way they know how the other works and everything will go smoothly.

Oh and a male/female team works great too. The male photographer can shoot the men getting ready pre-ceremony and the female can shoot the ladies getting ready and no one feels awkward or embarrassed! It's easy to overlook something like that too.

The bridal party being goofy. This picture ALWAYS makes me smile!

Make a List

Make a list of the shots you want. Everything from creative to posed formals. If you really want a picture with Great Aunt Edna then write that down. And don't just wright "Bride and aunt," be sure to write down names and titles. Your photographer won't know that "Jenny" is your 5th bridesmaid. This is also another area where Pinterest comes in handy. Make a pinboard for poses and shots you like. Change the caption so that it's specific to you. You can give the url to your photographer ahead of time so they will have a good idea of what you want and don't want your wedding photos to look like. 

First dance - one of my favorites

Plan Plenty of Time

When you're making your wedding day timeline, estimate the time for pictures, then add 30 minutes. I promise it will take longer than you think. I know many people still want to stick with tradition and not have the bride and groom see each other until she walks down the isle but if you're OK with breaking tradition, do it! I so wish that we had. I wish we had planned a reveal before the ceremony. We ended up having so much extra time, it would have been perfect. I think it would have helped with jitters walking down the isle too. And it still would have been special! I don't think it would have taken away from seeing each other from down the isle at all. Plus, we would've had more beautiful pictures together! We could have also done all of our bridal photos together. The way we did it, we had us girls go into the sanctuary and take pictures and then swapped with the guys. So at least we had a good amount of formals done beforehand. If you want to stick with tradition, that's totally fine! Just be sure you plan extra time for posed formals after the ceremony and before the reception. You don't want to keep your guests waiting, bored, and hungry so keep that in mind as well. 

I'm so glad my photographer caught this moment! I didn't even know it happened until I looked through the pictures!

And remember: The photographer runs the ceremony...the DJ/band/MC runs the reception.

All in all, the wedding photographer that you choose will be very important but as I've said before and I will say again, it doesn't HAVE to be a stressful thing! Hopefully Wedding Wednesdays will help you plan your wedding with ease!

What's your favorite wedding photography style? What are some of your wedding photographer questions that need answers?

Till next time,

If you're a fellow blogger and are interested in guest posting for this series, shoot me an e-mail at CatherinePageWood@gmail.com! Or, even if you're not a blogger and would like to share your wedding story or advice, send me an e-mail! I would LOVE to share your stories!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out the other editions of Wedding Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My first 5k - Rachael's Paws and Purrs

I did it! I did my very first 5k! 

Ok I definitely didn't run the whole thing, most people didn't...but I completed a 5k! 

Pre-race smile in the chilly morning. Still felt fairly confident at this point!

And we're off! Runners first, run/walker combos in the middle (that was us) and walkers in the back.

Speaking of walkers...who's excited for The Walking Dead to come back on in October?! This girl!

The course was on the Blackwater Creek Trail in downtown Lynchburg. It was a beautiful day with no humidity and cool temperatures on this gorgeous trail hiding just next to the busy downtown life.

"Quick, act like you're running hardcore!" 

The bridge over the water was so pretty! Here's another "action" shot. That's my husband and a friend of mine in the picture. 

We ran a handful of times but none of us were fully prepared to run the entire thing. We power walked the rest of the time. Most importantly we had a great time! It was so much fun and all the pups that came had a great time too. 

Most of the finishers waiting for the last walkers.

Giving out trophies and medals to human winners and dog winners! Not to mention they had great prizes for the raffle portion!

Here's us as we were leaving. I'd like to title this photo "We finished!" but I think "Look at this mondo bag of fruit we got!" fits better. They had tons of food leftover and just told us to take it...so we did! We've got enough bananas and apples to last a couple weeks! Runner up title: "Oh joy the sun is right in my eyes."

And I'll call this one "We did it! Now let's celebrate with some Chic-Fil-A."

Up next...the Ashland Berry Farm Pumpkin Run that benefits the Hanover Safe Place! Saturday, October 5th in Hanover, Virginia. Come join me!! 

I'm thinking to keep myself motivated and to have a new goal always ready, that signing up for one 5k a month might be a good idea. Or insane? I haven't decided yet. 

We're deciding on our November 5k now. It's between the Glowstick 5k on Sunday, November 3rd in Fredericksburg, Bottom to Tap 5k on Saturday, November 9th in Richmond or the Children of Our Hearts 5k on Saturday, November 9th in Lynchburg. 

I couldn't find any nearby 5ks for December, though. Too cold?

Tell me about your first 5k! If you've never done one, what's holding you back? If I can do it, so can you! Know of any good Richmond/central Virginia 5ks? What's the most fun 5k to do?

Till next time,

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

{Wedding Wednesday} My Tips for Less Stressful Wedding Planning

First of all, today on 9/11 I want to pause for a moment for us all to think about that day, where we were, what it meant to our country and of all those beautiful lives lost. It was a tragic day that none of us will ever forget.

For the second edition of Wedding Wednesday, I want to run through my personal tips on wedding planning with less stress. It can get very overwhelming very quickly so from the get go I want you to remember these things! It doesn't have to be stressful! These are all tips that I *tried* to remember and stick with throughout planning my own wedding.


First you need to remember to breathe. Wedding planning CAN be stressful but it doesn't HAVE to be. When things get a little rocky, just remember to breathe and think logically about the situation.

Be Organized

Whether you are an organized person or not, you must be organized during wedding planning. If you're not it will stress you out and can even cost you money. Being organized will keep everything in the same place and you won't be stressing out looking for receipts, invoices, business cards and more. I used a 2" 3-ring binder with tab dividers. It was a lifesaver! Be sure to use Pinterest to your advantage as well but stay realistic. Don't pin everything you see. Pin with purpose!

Don't Procrastinate

Start planning pretty much right away. You don't want to take too much time then end up not getting your venue or photographer because they were already booked. Don't waste any time at all especially if you want your wedding on a Saturday in a peak month (May-September and near holidays) because companies will book FAST during those times.

It's One Day

I know you've probably heard this a hundred times but seriously, once it's all over it was just one day of your lives together. Granted it is one of the biggest days of your life but it is still one day. It's not worth fighting over or freaking out over. If you are married at the end of the day, that is truly what matters. 

Determine a Budget and Stick With It!

This one is extremely important! Now if you are fortunate enough to have no budget, go ahead and skip this part. But for most of us, a budget is important. Talk with your fiance, your family and his family and decide who is willing/able to pay for what. I know money talk is no fun but it's best to hash it out in the beginning. You don't want to guess at these numbers later. Check out this website for a good list of who traditionally pays for what. 

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

I've told this to so many of my friends during their wedding planning. If you can't find napkins that match the flowers then don't freak out! If they're not the same exact color, guess what...no one but you will notice. I can almost guarantee you that no one will notice. Or if at your wedding if something is there that shouldn't be or isn't that should be, no one's going to know but you. 

See that beautiful centerpiece picture? That's from my wedding. After discussing it multiple times, my florist didn't get it right. The vases were supposed to be filled with water, the lilies being completely submerged and there should be a floating candle on top. But, you know what? It's not that big of a deal. Yes I was frustrated but I let it go because it was my wedding reception and it wasn't worth being upset over. I was finally married to the love of my life! Some water and candles was not going to get me down! My mom and I were the only ones who knew the centerpieces weren't right. My guests had nothing but lovely things to say about them! If something similar (or even worse) happens at your wedding, your guests won't even notice, they will only see how happy and beautiful you and your spouse are!

Don't Be a Bridezilla

This one should be pretty self explanatory. If you're questioning how to not be a bridezilla, reference the three points above titled "Breathe," "It's One Day," and "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff." Your wedding is an extremely important day in your life but don't let it turn you into someone you're not. It's not worth it!

Have Fun! Enjoy It! 

And finally, remember to enjoy it! Wedding planning can also be so much fun. You'll get more congratulations and smiles than you know what to do with. You'll get lots of freebies and hugs, it's fantastic! Also keep in mind companies often charge more for anything labeled "wedding," but that's another topic entirely!

But enjoy this time! Savor your final moments as a bachelor/ette. Spend time with friends and family and enjoy yourself. Don't forget to go on a date night now and then with your honey and make it  a point to not talk about wedding stuff. 

Do you get stressed easily or are you cool as a cucumber? What was/is the most stressful part of wedding planning for you?

Till next time,

If you're a fellow blogger and are interested in guest posting for this series, shoot me an e-mail at CatherinePageWood@gmail.com! Or, even if you're not a blogger and would like to share your wedding story or advice, send me an e-mail! I would LOVE to share your stories!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out the other editions of Wedding Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Birthday Boy

Just wanted to wish my husband a very wonderful birthday even in the blogging world! 

He's such an incredible provider and is always working hard for us. He's caring, compassionate, loving, loyal, honest and never ceases to make me laugh. Better yet, he laughs at all of my "jokes." 

Ok maybe I'm a little biased. 

Too bad.

So a HUMUNGOUS happy birthday to my love, my forever, my best friend, my husband, Brian :)

P.S. He's a [amazing] graphic designer/videographer/animator if anyone is looking for help in those areas. Plus he's learning web design. Such a smarty pants.

Till next time,

Monday, September 9, 2013

Couch to 5k - Week 4


That's all I can really say about Week 4 of the Couch to 5k program.

Now to be totally honest, I'm not the most out of shape person but I'm definitely no athlete. I've always been overweight but have always been used to hard work. My teenage years (and then some) were spent throwing hay and scooping poop at the barn. So I can keep up with hard work.


Running, though...is a different story.

And it always has been. I've always thought it was the coolest thing to be able to run but always relented to the fact that I "wasn't a born runner," "didn't have the drive to run," and "couldn't become a runner." This past couple of years I've become really determined to change that. Who says I should listen to those detrimental voices telling me "You can't do it."?! Not anymore. Even if takes me an entire year to be able to run a 5k, I'm committed this time.

Though I hope I can do it by my second 5k on October 5th! (A month from the date of this post.)


Later this week I'll try and write a more in depth post about the Couch to 5k program and my experiences with it so far. But for now I wanted to publicly declare that running will NOT get the best of me and it will be one thing I conquer.

And if I can do it...so can you!!!

Let's encourage each other and reach our goals!

What's your favorite motivational quote? How do you push through eating healthy/working out when you plain old just don't feel like it? What are your weight loss/health goals? Share with us! 

Till next time,

Friday, September 6, 2013

Lynchburg Virginia Blogger Meetup

Last night we had our meet-up for Lynchburg bloggers at Mangia Wine Bar!


I was so excited to meet other bloggers near me! In our little town of Lynchburg, Virginia there were 5 of us that met for dinner from Virginia Bloggers

  • Then there's Cait from Cait Makes Things which is all about sewing and upcycling thrifted finds. She also shares another fashion based blog called Two Little Bells with a friend. Check out her easy project for making cheap (and adorable) boot trees! My only tall boots are from my horse showing days but I'd love to make this project for a friend!

  • And finally there's Megan from Rappsody in Rooms, another fantastic blog about renovating a 1960s rancher into a space that reflects her personality along blogging about life in general. Ever wondered what a year's supply of toilet paper looks like? Wonder no more

We sat on the patio during the beautiful evening and had a great time chatting and eating and discussing all kinds of things. We brought up one of our favorite bloggers, Young House Love multiple times, talked about networking, our families, jobs, and some silly giveaways. We talked about Haven Conference and got some awesome insight from Megan and Paula who were fortunate enough to go! Megan almost got pooped on by a bird, our waiter forgot about us and overall we had a fantastic time! We ended up having such a good time that we completely forgot to get any pictures! I'm a little bummed but I'm sure we'll get together again soon! 

If there are any other local bloggers in the area we'd love to meet with you too! 

Be sure to check out their awesome blogs and tell them Catherine sent you! 

Till next time,