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Thanks to Hip2Save, I’m discovering all sorts of fun sites lately.  Yesterday, I saw a notice about House Party on the Facebook feed.  After some exploration of Hip2Save’s blog post and the House Party site, I thought it would be a fun site to share.

The concept is pretty cool:  House Party lists a number of different events sponsored by various brands that are looking to get the word out about their products.  As a member of the House Party site, you apply online to act as host for the various events.  If you are chosen, you get some free stuff and great products to use.  All you have to do is host the party!

So what’s the catch?  Parties do have to be hosted on a specific day, so if you’re booked for like months on end like we always seem to be, it might be hard to find something cool to host.  Also, there is no guarantee you’ll be chosen.  Basically, it seems as if you have to meet certain requirements, and there are only so many party packages to go around.  Also, you are expected to be an active part of the community, sharing photos and information from your party.  Fun for a blogger like me, but probably not a real incentive for most other people.

I’m super into this concept.  Number one, because I like free things, and number two, because it’s a great excuse to get people together.  My only concern is not getting enough people to attend!  While most of the upcoming parties are on dates that I wouldn’t be able to host, I’ll be on the look out for some fun ones.

Who’s in??  Would anyone come to something like this, or is it annoying?  Feedback, please!  Otherwise, I’ll update once I have my first party 🙂

As I’ve mentioned before, there’s more that goes into maintaining a healthy lifestyle beyond eating right and exercising.  Relationship health is a major contributing factor to staying on the right path.  If you’re not happy in your relationship, a lot of other areas of your life can suffer as well.

I recently came across an article that described the 6 habits that keep couples happy, and was happy to see #3 on the list:  Nurture your separate selves.  I’ve found through various message boards and other couple related sites that we can be a bit cruel to one another when it comes to desiring independence.  We often accuse those that desire to remain slightly independent from their partner of being selfish.  In fact, there are a lot of people that believe that in order to maintain a healthy relationship, all interests must be shared 24/7.  Forget going off alone for a girls weekend-if you’re not bonding with your partner over every turn, something must be wrong.

I’ve always been a big advocate for having individual interests and activities.  As the article states, taking “couple breaks” relieves your partner from having to “provide” happiness and enhances your relationship, allowing you a deeper appreciation of one another and your talents.  Imagine that…

I’m not going to pretend it’s easy to take time for yourself.  Since I’m away at the office for 10-12 hours a day 5 days a week, it can be tough to justify running off to a  solo shopping adventure or drinks with the girls.  However, it’s important to let go of that guilt and remember how refreshing independence can be.  In fact, I feel most refreshed in my relationship and personal life after a girls weekend or any other independent activity.  And that doesn’t make me a bad wife, or mean that Jared and I are drifting apart.  In fact, in the end, it only serves to bring us together. Even just an hour or so once a week spent doing separate activities can make a big impact on how you feel about one another, and ultimately, yourself.

If you know anything about the changing social landscape, it will come as no surprise to you that the 55+ demographic on Facebook has become one of the fastest growing segments, followed closely by the 35-54 audience.  While Facebook originally began as a way for college students to connect and was only open to these users, the growth and expansion of Facebook has served as a blessing and a curse to those in their late teens and twenties.

Countless news articles have run stories focused on the fact that many teenagers are leaving Facebook because their parents are now joining and “embarrassing” them with comments and photos.  Teenagers have been up in arms about parents being able to join, as they feel it causes a loss of privacy and doesn’t allow them to interact with friends in the way they’d like to without being “policed” by over eager parents.

In my opinion, the teenagers can leave.  I personally am friends with both my parents as well as countless aunts and uncles and have never felt as if my privacy was being invaded.  Now, I’m about 10 or more years older than any teenager these articles have interviewed, but for me, the opening of Facebook to varying demographics has been a godsend.

I’m not much of a phone person.  I would certainly never call relatives just to see how they were doing.  It’s just not my style.  In fact, I have a hard time calling close friends just to chat.  Facebook allows me to connect with family members I previously lost touch with and stay involved in their lives.  This has been such a blessing to me, that I can’t imagine not having them in my life.  If it wasn’t for their presence on Facebook, I’m embarrassed to say these connections never would have taken place.  Imagine everything I would have missed out on!

Additionally, I’ve found as I get a bit older, I reflect often on friendships that carried me through my younger days.  In college, it’s easy to keep in touch with the people around you, but as people move, get married, have children, etc., it’s so easy to lose touch.  Without Facebook, I never would have been able to reconnect easily with some very dear high school friends, or college friends, for that matter.  Being able to stay in touch virtually has allowed me to foster so many more relationships than simply emailing or picking up the phone.  If the doors to Facebook had closed to me after college, I can’t imagine the types of relationships I would be missing out on.

The argument made about people like me is that Facebook and other social networks hinder our ability to make in person connections.  I completely disagree with this, and believe Facebook is the mechanism that brings us together in person.  The connections I’ve re-established virtually have allowed me to take these connections offline through lunch/dinner dates as well as invitations to my wedding.  Without the means to get in touch, these in person meetings never would have happened.

In turn, many are leaving Facebook over privacy issues.  In my opinion, if you’re smart about the way you set up your profile, this is a non-issue.  If you don’t have the “geotracking” feature enabled, who cares if it’s really there?  If you’re smart, privacy isn’t really an issue at all, and is certainly no reason to miss out on connecting with friends and family.

Does the older demographic sometimes post messages that would be better suited as novels all over our walls?  Yes, there is no question about that.  However, in turn, teenagers certainly could use a lesson in appropriate online posting from time to time.  I’d rather have long, mushy messages from my relatives than curse filled diatribes about how awful a teenagers life is for no reason at all.

If the teenagers want to leave, let them leave. They can go back to MySpace, or some other spammy, teen focused site.  Leave Facebook for those of us that truly want to connect with family and friends of all ages.  We’re getting way more out of this than you’ll ever appreciate.  Until you become our age.  😉


Since I’m WAY too lazy to upload all of these photos to Facebook (actually, I never turn my home computer on long enough to do that) I figured I’d share them through my blog.

We went to Bermuda after our wedding for a 7 day cruise with Celebrity!  I’m wishing I was still on the ship!

Enjoy!
Click here to view photos

There are a lot of things people tell you about weddings.  Anyone who has been a bride or groom can back me up on that.  In fact, that was probably the most annoying part about planning a wedding-everyone who had already been there, done that always thought they knew the best way to do things.  When you’re dealing with someone like me who doesn’t ever leave the house without her trusty planners and binders, the advice thing got a bit annoying after awhile.  After all, every wedding is different.  For that reason, I’m not really too keen on dishing out advice unless someone specifically asks for it.

So, this is not my post-wedding advice write-up.  This is a summary of the things I liked most about our day.  Yes, they do have to do with details we had planned and it’s possible other people could use this as advice, but everyone is different!

1.)  Just Say No to Bridal Isolation: I don’t really believe in the old fashioned way of running the wedding day.  Well, I shouldn’t say that.  I knew I didn’t want Jared to see me until I walked down the aisle.  But, that didn’t mean I didn’t want anyone else but the bridal party and the moms to see me either.  We booked a room at the hotel downstairs for hair and makeup, and I wanted as many of my close friends and family in and out as possible.  Not only did it keep me calm, but it also allowed me to spend some wonderful time with the people I love most before the day got too crazy.  I truly cherish everyone who stopped by to see me that morning and made the day peaceful through their presence.

2.)  Non-Bridal Party Helpers: Where would we be without Sharon and Owen??  I’m a control freak.  For that reason, I needed to know that someone other than my girls and Jared’s guys could be out there helping us in the event I needed something and couldn’t leave the room.  Sharon and Owen were invaluable in that regard.  They had a strong pulse on what was going on for the wedding, but were far enough removed that they could see things we might be missing.  Without them behind the scenes organizing things that I couldn’t do that day, I don’t think I would have gotten compliments like “you were the calmest bride I’ve ever seen.”  Appointing people to help you out on the day of the wedding that are outside the direct bridal party was probably the best decision I made!

3.)  Bride and Groom Quiet Time: As everyone knows the wedding day is a whirlwind.  Jared and I were so crazy busy the night before that we didn’t even get to say goodbye to each other after the rehearsal dinner!  Since I wasn’t seeing him until we stood together at the front of the ceremony room, we obviously had a lot to catch up on.  I don’t know who orchestrated this, but someone put us in a meeting room in the hotel alone while the bridal party and parents attended the end of the cocktail hour and just let us catch up.  It was very refreshing to have that time alone to catch our breaths and share our thoughts on how beautiful everything was.

I have a lot of catching up to do with reviewing vendors and our honeymoon experience, so you haven’t seen the end of the wedding posts from me quite yet!

Well, the wedding is over.  No longer will I need to spend my weeks pouring through bridal sites trying to uncover the secrets for a successful wedding.  I am working on a series of posts to wrap up our wedding journey, but we can’t forget about the long-neglected Features Friday, can we???  So, without further ado, Features Friday will now just focus on great sites around the Web, whether they’re related to weddings, marriage or just cool stuff in general.

I can’t think of a better transitionary site than The Nest.  Run by our friends at The Knot.com, The Nest helps those of us brides going through The Knot withdrawal by providing us with resources we can use for our new married lives.  After all, what will I do now that I don’t have a checklist or budget sheet to fill out obsessively?

From Home Buying Help to Money Management to fun sex tips, The Nest continues the Knot.com’s mission to provide useful and fun content.  Although I haven’t spent too much time looking around yet, I’m sure The Nest will provide plenty of content to amuse me on those slow days.  Since the real estate search is our next fish to fry, I expect to be turning to The Nest for a quick read on what we should and shouldn’t be doing!

When was the last time you went on a date?  For some of us, it’s easier to remember this than others.  If you’re in a long-term relationship or married, you might have to dig back into the brain archives to remember the last time you and your partner had a night out alone.

I have to admit that although I’ve been in a fair amount of relationships, I’ve never really been on that many dates.  When you’re with someone for a long time and living together, the concept of going out for a date becomes a foreign concept pretty quickly.  And forget about when you’re planning a wedding like Jared and I are.  Between my work schedule and all of the activities we have to check off the list, quality time is few and far between.  And when it comes to keeping a relationship healthy, that’s just not a good thing.

My sister and Owen started doing date night once a week, and I have to admit, after several weeks of me coming home crying over how busy we were and making myself crazy that I wasn’t paying enough attention to Jared, the idea became appealing to me.

The deal was this:  each week, no matter how busy we are, one of us will plan a date night.  We’ll alternate weeks so each person ends up planning 2 per month.  The best part is, there are no other rules.  Date night can be as simple as cooking  a new meal together or as lavish as going to see a show.

So far, we’ve each had the opportunity to plan 2 date nights.   Here’s what we’ve done so far:

Jared:  Dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant I’ve been wanting to try with a stop on the way home at a great bakery; honey kabobs on the grill eaten outside next to our fire pit, finished with s’mores

Me:  Picnic at a local park, complete with a Nalgene full of wine ;); Somerset Patriots minor league baseball game

Date night has helped us to stay grounded and remember that no matter what else is going on around us, it’s crucial to make time for each other, no matter how busy things get.  And keeping the spark alive and keeping each other happy is just as important to our health as all those crunches I do!