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Because as fun as they are, weddings are still a project!  In honor of one of the last Fridays of summer, let’s take time to pay tribute to all the hard work that goes into planning a wedding by taking a look at a site that acknowledges those details!

Project Wedding was started by Joe and Margaret, who, as they were planning their own wedding, found that they didn’t have too many great places to turn to when researching vendors and other critical information.  In today’s economy, we all need to be careful with who we’re entrusting our money to, and for that reason, Project Wedding was created-to take the stress and worry out of some of those decisions!

What I love about this site is the functionality for REAL brides to write REAL, unbiased  reviews about vendors they have used.  Working in the search space, I’m very familiar with online advertising on sites like TheKnot-just because something is listed there does not mean it’s great, it simply means that vendor had budget for advertising!  I wish I had found this site when I was in the early planning stages, as I certainly think it gives people peace of mind to read real reviews.

The photo collections on this site are also massive.  Like, MASSIVE.  Almost a little too massive.  No one needs to look at 9,672 pictures of flowers, for instance.  However, it’s still nice ot get a cross section of pictures from different brides.  And it takes up a lot of time.  🙂

Another unique feature of this site?  Anyone can contribute! A lot of the articles are written in Wiki fashion, meaning anyone can add content as long as they are a registered user.  For me, the best part of this is seeing how brides did things themselves without a million dollar budget and wedding planner.  What a great way to share realistic ideas-letting real people contribute!

The Project Wedding blog is also a fun collection of images and information.  My favorite features are the wedding palettes they showcase using different possible color combinations.  SUPER helpful for getting a vision.  Love this black and white one.

Overall, while I don’t see myself using this site on a daily basis, I think it will definitely come in handy as I plan our smaller details, like flowers, centerpieces, etc.  Great visuals, very easy navigation, and just overall a fun site to use!

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Due to some personal issues this week, Tuesday Truths will be on hiatus until next week.

Thanks for checking in!

Happy Friday!  It’s been a rough week, and when things get tough, I don’t know about anyone else, but I personally long for simplicity.  In weddings, simplicity is, to me, doing the things that you want that fit your budget, whether people agree with you or not.

I’ve written about A Practical Wedding before, and now it’s time to feature this site in the fashion it deserves!  Hands down, this is the best wedding blog out there.  Meg writes about brides that do creatively, sanely and within their budget.  As her post yesterday said, she appreciates the thriftiness about these weddings, but also, the joy that each wedding radiates.  I agree with her that that is MUCH more important than keeping everything color coordinated!

Here are some great quotes from some of my favorite posts.  Read away, and remember, the purpose of a wedding is to celebrate the love you and your groom have, not ANYTHING or ANYONE else!!

Julie & Guy’s Handmade Canadian Wedding: “I kept reminding myself that it was just a party, and that my marriage was a heck of a lot more important than any one party, any one dress, or any one cake. I was excited to marry the man I love and focus on building a meaningful life together, and a lot less interested in table linens, guest books, butterfly/dove/unicorn releases and all that fuss.'”

Real Wedding:  {cypress and oak}: “We sat down together, decided what was most important to us (being absolutely surrounded by loved ones, creating a sense of inclusion for our families, even the bits that were estranged from each other due to divorce) and what was least important to us (having flowers flown in from the far side of the moon, a bedazzled dress), and made plans from there.”

Reporting Live from the Inside of Wedding Weekend: “Because here is the thing – when you get all of your friends and relations together in one place for an event that feels high stakes – people will get stressed out, things will not always go as expected, though wonderful things will happen to. That’s human, that’s normal. But most of the time, when stressful things happen, we can give in to being annoyed. We can let the crappy bits of life stand larger than the joyful bits. But for your wedding you can’t get thrown by little things. You have to pull yourself back to a core of calm that you’ve created for yourself, over and over again. You have to remember that a wedding is about love, and people stand still for love. You have to remember what wise wedding graduate Christina told me: ‘It is not your business what other people think of you.” Because it’s your wedding. You can’t leave a bit of you behind gnawing over that little thing that went wrong, or that weird comment someone made. You have to show up with all of yourself.'”

There are SO many more posts I could quote for you, but I think you get the point.  For all my fellow brides, just remember this as you’re going through the planning process:  No one can shape your happiness.  No matter who is paying, no matter what people think about your choice of shoes/dresses/jewelry/flowers etc., this is your day, your moment, your love.  While it’s nice to have so many people supporting you, your wedding is a celebration of the love that you found in your fiance:  not of the money you may or may not have, not of the cake you did or didn’t like, not of the party you threw or the music you played but of the life that you are building together.  Don’t let ANYTHING get in the way of stealing that joy from you, particularly the silly little details that go along with wedding planning.

Meg was recently married herself.  Congratulations, Meg, and thanks for being an inspiration to all of us brides!  (And I hope you don’t mind that I excessively quoted you…)

Happy planning!

In light of the release of Jennifer Weiner‘s latest book, “Best Friends Forever”, my mom and sister and myself have really been ramping up on our book-swapping and buying of all things Jennifer Weiner!  Previously, I had read “In her Shoes” as well as “The Guy Not Taken” and found myself identifying with a lot of themes Ms. Weiner covers.  So far, “Good in Bed” has been my favorite!  (But I’m not done yet with all of her stories!)

Personally, I appreciate stories where I feel as if I can identify with the character over at least one facet of their life.  For instance, if I’m reading a book about motherhood, I need to find another area to connect with the character.  I found a true connection in Cannie Shapiro.  From her struggles with her weight to her deep-rooted issues with her father to her boyfriend troubles to her job, I think at least every woman can read this book and think, “Yup, I’ve been there!”

I have to admit there were a few things that surprised me about “Good in Bed.”  I remember seeing the book on shelves several times before I was familiar with Jennifer Weiner and thinking that it would be a great guilty pleasure beach read without too much depth.  I really can’t tell you how wrong I was about that.  Admittedly, it was the title that threw me off, but the moment you read the first page, it’s very obvious that this is not a simple story line.  There were a few moments in the book where I found myself wishing that what was happening wasn’t happening.

“Good in Bed” is not your typical predictable story.  I’m not a huge fan of books that have obvious outcomes, and Ms. Weiner didn’t dissapoint in that regard.  There were a lot of moments when I thought I had guessed what was about to happen, and I was pleasantly surprised to be corrected on the next page!  Furthermore, Ms. Weiner’s way with words really touched me during certain moments of the book, particular when Cannie would write about her relationship with her father.  Powerful stuff for all of us that have struggled with similar issues!

If you like to “try before you buy”, you can preview the first chapter of “Good in Bed” on Jennifer Weiner’s Web site.  For those that have read the book, any thoughts?

In 2008, according to Science Daily, sixty-five percent of American women between the ages of 25 and 45 reported having disordered eating behaviors.  Disordered eating is a precursor to  eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia and includes such tactics as banishing carbohydrates, skipping meals and in some cases extreme dieting.  Disordered eating is almost always a result of emotional and physical distress, and I can only imagine that this percentage has climbed in the past year.

All of us have suffered from a form of disordered eating.  Whether it’s skipping breakfast to ensure you don’t surpass your already low calorie goal of the day or working out for 3 hours at a time, females have long struggled to balance healthy lifestyle with losing weight.  What makes women more susceptible to this kind of behavior?  Some reports claim the messaging the media distributes affects women’s body image more than men’s, some reports claim that disordered eating is a result of genetic influencers.  Whatever the cause, when disordered eating crosses the line to anorexia and other serious eating disorders, it can sometimes become life threatening.

In college, I became a victim of disordered eating.  In a college environment, where everyone around me was, in my opinion, much thinner and prettier and wealthier than I was, my survival tactic became starving myself to achieve what I thought they all had:  happiness with their bodies and lives.  However, I think my own issues with disordered eating began long before that, as they often do begin in adolescent girls.  From only eating a pretzel at lunch in middle school to working out outside at noon in the dead of summer to “sweat more and lose more weight”, my own struggles with self-image were deep-seated and certainly not going away anytime soon, regardless of who I surrounded myself with.

As a result of my unhealthy disordered eating patterns, I managed to lose 30 pounds in less than a month’s time.  Many people, myself included, thought this was a good thing.  It’s not like I didn’t have extra bulk to lose.  However, any drastic weight loss of this nature has an incredible and lasting impact on your body.  Drastic weight loss in an unhealthy fashion can lead to a disruption of a female’s menstrual cycle, skin discoloration, lack of energy and enthusiasm, restlessness and insomnia, dizziness, fainting and headaches, none of which are pleasant experiences.  Although these seem like they might be no big deal, additional side effects of crash dieting and unhealthy patterns include nutritional deficiencies as well as vital organ damage.

The most unfortunate thing I found when I was struggling through my own period of disordered eating was the praise I would get over how “good” I looked from people that may or may not have known what was going on.  Since those of us that struggle with these issues don’t think the same way most other people do, you immediately begin to think, “How can everyone I love think this is a bad thing?  Look at all the positive attention my body is receiving for once in my life.  No one has EVER talked to me like this before-if I keep doing this, imagine how many more people will think I’m beautiful.”

As women, we need to watch what we say around our female and male friends, and make sure we’re not encouraging behaviors that can become dangerous for our bodies and our overall health.  I think what bothers me the most as I struggle through these issues and think back to my own battles with disordered eating are the comments people make.  Comments from a skinny friend or acquaintance like, “Oh, I can’t possibly finish this huge salad” (when my meal is much larger, and I’m practically done), really cut deep for those of us that struggle with food.   I’ve even been hurt on shopping trips where someone will pick up a shirt or a dress, not realizing it’s my size, and say, “Wow, I like this, but it’s WAY too big for me.”

What we say has the power to really hurt one another.  For those of us suffering through disordered eating issues, these comments take a different shape in our head.  My advice for all women is to watch what you say around your friends and family.  We truly want to celebrate your body with you, but sometimes, we just can’t get past our own hang-ups to take your words for what they are to you and not what we think they mean about us.   There are a lot of issues we all deal with internally, and by being a bit more sensitive to how we’re handling them in our groups of friends, we might be able to save someone from continuing unhealthy habits.  We can’t save everyone, but by being a supportive and positive female friend, we might just be able to convince one another that there are healthy ways to achieve our goals.

For more information on eating disorders, please visit the National Eating Disorders Association.  Also, if you or someone you know struggles with an eating disorder, please reach out for help by calling 1-800-931-2237.

If you’ve ever taken the NJ Transit through Bernardsville, you may have seen The Station Pub & Grub through your little train window.  Jared and I have driven by it a few times, and started to become interested in it in the summer, when we saw how crowded the outside patio was.  So, we decided to make it a local night after the book sale in Bernardsville and try The Station for ourselves.

I have to admit, my first impression was not positive.  I had read that the indoor dining room was noisy due to the fact that there was nothing separating it from the bar, and this was definitely the case when we arrived.  We practically had to shout to hear one another.  Our waitress was NOT knowledgeable about the beer list and could barely tell us what was available.  She also didn’t understand what I meant by “White Zin” and then carded me almost immediately before she even wrote down what I wanted.  I may not look 25, but at least I understand that names of wines!!   I ordered the Proccuito Wrapped Chicken and hoped for the best.

In the area of food, The Station did not dissapoint.  The chicken was fantastic, and the port wine sauce was one of the best I’ve ever had.  Sometimes, I find chicken sauces are a bit too runny, but this was thick in the best way possible.  The roasted potatoes were a nice treat too, and something I don’t see very often as a dinner option.  Jared got the classic pizza with onion, which tasted a lot like onion soup in the best way possible!

For dessert, I had the chocolate cake, which was pretty good, but had clearly spent a lot of time in a fridge or freezer, as it was a bit cold in the middle.  Jared had the coconut carrot cake, which he liked, but he said he could tell it was likely from a box and not homemade.  The dessert selection in general was pretty decent, with two different kinds of cheesecake and carrot cake and a tiramisu as well.  And who can resist the dessert tray??

Overall, I’m not sure how often I would return to The Station, but I do have to admit, that chicken is definitely something I could see myself eating again and again!

My rating:  7/10

The Station Pub & Grub
45 Mine Brook Rd.
Bernardsville, NJ 07924
908-766-5198

For some different insights, check out the reviews on Yelp (including mine!).

Just wanted to share my excitement over an event I’m participating in as a blogger!  I found information on Twitter about Atria Books and Epicurious’ “Great American Taste Test” and  received an “America’s Most Wanted Recipes” cookbook yesterday so that Adventure Ales and Trails can be part of this!

As the contest notes, I will be choosing a recipe from the cookbook and recruiting Jared (along with any other local, willing friends :)) to join me in eating the dish I choose at the restaurant where it originated.  Then, I myself will make the dish using the America’s Most Wanted Recipes cookbook.  My taste testers will compare, and I will be sharing the results on September 14th via a blog post!

I’m super excited to be able to participate in this contest.  Being an Internet Marketer myself, I’m used to seeing contests like this circulate among the blogging networks, but have never had the chance to participate in one myself.  Keep them coming, I love doing stuff like this!

Stay tuned for our taste test results!

I actually came across this site a long time ago when I was doing some research for a client, but it fell off my radar until I was combing the blogging world yesterday.  Get Married is actually a show on Lifetime as well, that I personally have never seen.  No offense to the show, I just literally have no interest in wedding television.  🙂  The Web site claims to be the only multi-channel wedding planning resource and, in addition to the Web and TV, is launching a magazine in October, which I promptly signed up to receive a free copy of.  You know how I feel about magazines….

So, how does the only multi-channel wedding planning resource stack up?  Pretty well, I have to say. While the wedding tools are very similar to what you’d find on the more popular sites like The Knot and Brides Magazine, I was able to pull some value out of this site that I don’t find with the others.  Some highlights for me are:

The Wedding Shop. I have not really been a true fan of these features on some of the other sites I’m on.  To be honest, I find some of the product listings to be pretty short and not very versatile.  I really enjoyed browsing the bridal party gifts and bridal shower favors section of this site. I even passed some links on to my mom and sister!  Even if we don’t buy anything from here, I felt like the ideas were more varied than some that I’ve seen before.

Blogger Brides. Although this could be considered information overload, I like the idea of this sort of community.  The community bloggers gives you a wider perspective on all things wedding related, rather than the opinion of one person that could potentially be influenced by vendor partnerships and larger budgets than most of us can blink an eye at.  The forums are laid out much easier than The Knot’s, and the overall layout just makes the community more inviting and less intimidating.

Inspiration Galleries. As mentioned, now that we have a lot of our vendor information figured out, I’m way more interested in the advice and detailed decor information found on these sites.  Although it’s tough to get to without narrowing down exactly what you want, I always find the pictures from “real weddings” to be a great source of ideas and inspiration.  I’m a big fan of the way the photos load, too. Instead of taking you to a new page, they basically pop up on the page you’re currently on.  My biggest gripe with TheKnot is navigation, so I like this feature of Get Married.  Some of the galleries don’t feature a ton of images, but I’ll take what I can get.

From a layout perspective, I’m much more into the easy navigation and quick load time of this site.  However, when it comes to finding articles instead of blog posts, Get Married has some serious Web site structural issues that make finding the articles a bit difficult.  Unfortunately, once I found them, they were not even that insightful.  Furthermore, this site is very ad-heavy and the local vendor resources are not as robust as some of the other sites have been.

Overall, this is a great site to browse.  Not sure I would use it for much else, but it certainly kept me occupied for a few hours!

Happy shopping, brides!

In response to yesterday’s post, my mom left this comment, that I felt was better suited for a blog post.  She’s a smart lady!  So, in the words of my very wise mother…..

“How well I remember that day, when 2 average sized children crossed the bridge from having a positive self-image to a negative one! How well I remember asking the doctor to call me on the phone, but alas, her goal was not to support and encourage but rather to tear down …

My struggles came at the beginning of 7th grade. I had left 6th grade as a “normal” size, and began 7th with pretty much the body that I have now. To say that the change was drastic is an understatement. Never did I fit into a teensy size, never could I wear strapless or halter tops. And yet, there I was, a girl who rode her bike and played outside daily, and in high school walked home (about a mile) each day. So, now fast forward to 2009, when, at age 51, I work out each day with Leslie Sansone or I walk briskly outside. Over 100 miles in July! That, in combination with eating correctly, should be earning me lower numbers on the scale, correct? Well, incorrect! I have even taken to jogging at intervals on one mile of the trail …. I work with weights and resistance bands ….. and I’ll return to school in September same as always, longing to be the one who has lost all the weight over the summer. But wait just a minute! Is my value reduced to a number on a scale? Is my value reduced to a size tag in an article of clothing? NO! We, as women are so much more than that! When I am working out, the war cry in my mind says, “there, skinny girls, take this! Can you do this? Do you have the stamina?”

When will we, as American women, stop the madness and rally for good health and fitness as opposed to a dress size or a number on the scale? When we will realize that a gracious, comfortable attitude is what others find so attractive? So, here are some ideas I have had this summer to counteract such thinking.

1. Celebrate the figure you are. We were not created as “one size fits all” – we were not created to have the same hair color, eye color and so forth, so why should we all be the same size?

2. Read the magazines with caution. Even women’s ‘home’ magazines often offer conflicting ideas – “bake the best brownies ever” on one page and “how I lost 57 pounds” on the next …. In addition, if one reads carefully from one magazine to another, there are really no foods that one can eat and enjoy, not even the so-called “healthy foods!”. I have come to embrace magazines such as Country Woman, Taste of Home, and Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade as they point is not about perfect figures, but about celebrating the uniqueness of women’s skills.

3. And this one, I have failed at miserably over the years – just ask my daughters about my own dressing room break-downs – Be a good role model to your daughters and to your sons! Eat in a healthy way, exercise as a part of life, look in the mirror and say something positive OUT LOUD! Our sons as well as our daughters need to know that women are to be loved and respected for who they are, not for their dress size.

There is so much more that I could say – but one last piece of advice for today – go ahead and make the “best brownies ever” for your next family gathering. They’ll remember the warmth of your hospitality, not your waist size!”

Thanks, Mom!

I remember the first time someone told me I was fat.  And for me, that’s saying something.  As those close to me will tell you, my memory is pretty poor when it comes to everything, specifically my early childhood years.  Yet there are some memories that stick with you for all the wrong reasons.  This is one of them.

My sister and I had gone to our pediatrician for a physical so that we could attend church camp, I guess.  We couldn’t have been more than 7-9 years old.  After the exam was complete, I specifically remember the harsh female doctor looking straight at my sister and I and telling my mom we were fat and should lay off the sandwich meat at lunch time.

Now, let me clarify something here for all those going, “well, she was probably right, it’s her job to point out childhood obesity.”  I am the first to admit that I am not in the BMI range that one would consider average.  However, at the tender age of 7, I can assure you I was far from overweight.  In fact, that was the only time in my life I probably have been the proper weight.

I’m not saying the doctor shouldn’t have shared her opinions with my mom about our health.  That’s what doctors are for.  However, when you have two seven year-old twins standing in the room, I think there are better ways to handle it, such as, “Mrs. Bastek, can I speak with you in private?”.  Every time I drive by the place where that doctor’s office used to be, those words hang in the air as if it were yesterday:  “You’re fat.  Change.”  Needless to say, my mom was enraged about how the doctor handled that situation and never took us back to her again.

I’ve struggled with body image all of my life, most likely ever since that moment.  All of us have a memory like that, one that causes us to stop in our tracks and say, “There.  That’s when I started behaving like this.”  All those times I’ve sat alone, crying over the scale, I think about that moment, trying to use it as an impulse to change.  However, for some of us, it just isn’t that simple.

Our society is obsessed with how women look.  It’s part of our nature to behave like this, and it’s part of others’ nature to think that if we are overweight we are therefore lazy and don’t care about our appearance.  In a series of posts every Tuesday, I’ll be chronicling some honest insights I’ve learned from my own struggles with food and weight.  These insights will be real, shocking, and may surprise a lot of people.  These posts are not meant to be a pity party so everyone can tell me how “good” I look.  That’s not the point.  The point is to be honest about the way we, as women, talk about our bodies, and to find solutions that are healthy and help us improve our self-image.

I know that not too many people may read this, but I hope that some of these insights will speak to those that do.  The only way we can stop ourselves from the hatred we attach to our bodies is by talking honestly with others that do the same.

Stay tuned for next week’s Tuesday Truth!

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