Thursday, September 30, 2010

One Big Dilemma

Today I have opted to blog about something other than what we did last weekend or last night (we went the Giants game, just in case you were curious).  

Today, I blog about my hair.  Yes, the truly exciting topic of whether or not to cut my hair.  You see, I have worked very hard to get my hair where it is today!  Ok, so it hasn't actually been "work" but I did go through the stress of the awkward length, resisting the temptation to chop it regularly, and just generally dealing with this mane of hair I have.  
Now that I have made it through the wedding, up-do complete, I can do anything I want.  Before the wedding I swore I would chop it off at the first chance I got.  Well, I have had plenty of time and can't seem to pull the trigger.  

I love my hair short.  I actually think it looks better on me and my face but I also love blow drying my nice long hair and watching it fall to my back.  I think it is pretty.  Plus, if I cut it, I can't use this fabulous new invention! 
These are incredible.  Just twirl them in and your bun stays better than any amount of hair spray/bobby pin combo!

Let's play the pros and cons game...

Keep Long Hair:
Can shower at night and pull it back in the morning (i.e.-more sleep)
More hair style options
I haven't cut my hair in about a year! 

Looks like a mane (or pile of hay) sometimes
Makes me lazy about actually styling my hair

Chop Hair:
Looks better on my face
Can wear tiny pony on top of my head 
In a hair disaster can scrunch it and it will hold
I am pretty sure Scott likes it short better (Scott?)

Can't just throw it in a pony tail
Little pony on top of my head makes me look like I'm 5 
No shower at night option
Maintenance haircuts

Yep, pretty sure I just ended up right back where I started.  No idea what to do.  HELP ME!!!

The cute short hair
More short hair...sorry about the accessory in the picture, it was a birthday gag gift (and not even for us)
Pretty long hair
Again, pretty long hair
The previously mentioned mane (this long hair is really hit or miss)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Working for the weekend

I used to be working for the wedding, but now that my wonderful three week vacation is over I work for the weekends once again.

I will have to say it is nice to have our weekends back to get out and explore our city and other nearby areas (aka Napa). It is also nice to see our friends again without having to fit in napkin selection, card stock selection, printing, shipping, etc... into our weekends.  

Our first weekend back we headed to Robert and Karina's to celebrate Catharina's 2nd birthday.  Sorry, no pictures...we were still very jetlagged and I was incapable of remembering anything, including the camera.  The rest of the weekend was filled with laundry, cleaning (two dogs+3 weeks=VERY dirty house), and football watching.  Once again, so nice to just be able to kick back and relax.  And, yes, cleaning falls in the relaxing category for me.  Don't get me wrong, I am spent afterwards but I find some crazy joy in cleaning the house.  

This past weekend started a bit early with an EC1 Summer Party on the Bay.  We sailed out for the afternoon and enjoyed the beautiful fall weather while dressed as pirates.  The night continued and Scott met us for some fun out on the town.
Out on the boat...Arrrrrrrrrrr....
 My mustache.

Saturday Scott ventured out to watch the Razorbacks game with Kyle and his Dad, David.  The poms and I joined the Strand Fam for a trip down to the marina, dinner, and some delicious wine.  We even got some additional visitors at the Strand household, the Hylands.  
 Didn't I look nice for dinner?

Why stop there?  I mean, we don't have anything we have to do anymore but why should that stop us from trying to jam in as much as possible during the weekends?

Sunday we packed up our "kids" and headed up to Sonoma.  You have to give us credit for at least switching it up from Napa to Sonoma!  You see, we had to pick up our wine at Gloria and then we had to pay a visit to Maya.  Maya is a Mexican restaurant in Sonoma that has the "best margarita ever".  This according to Steve & Eilene Koon anyway.  Funny little side note, I have been to Maya once before this weekend and it was the weekend that I met Scott.  Now you all say, "Awwwwwwwwwww"!  Anyway, we felt like we needed to evaluate said margaritas and they definitely lived up to the hype.  We had a wonderful meal outside in the shade with the poms (it was 98 degrees) and then strolled over to the park to meet the Strand Fam.

 AP relaxing at Gloria
 Scott, too!
 At Maya (yes, Lola was there too, she just wouldn't stop moving long enough for a picture)

You see, by coincidence they were up in Sonoma at Train Town and then heading into the Square for lunch.  Lucky us, there was a fair going on so there was some great people watching and the kids got some ice cream cones!  
 Miss K
Tanner stopping in for a bite.

After getting close enough to heat stroke for one day we all piled back in the car, turned the A/C on full blast and headed back to the city.  

As you can tell, we are back to our regular habits.  Not sure whether that means the blog will be more or less entertaining.  I am going to try to make an effort to not just make this blog weekend recaps moving forward.  I might start giving unsolicited opinions about products I use or just general point of view updates.  Or, you can tell me what you want to hear about...I am up for making this blog moderately more interesting!  I can't commit to a lot more interesting just yet!  ;-)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Last but not least!

Our final day in Rome, we set off in the morning for the Coliseum. Albeit, moving a little slow after the birthday festivities!

We arrived and decided to take one of the 20 people, selling tours without standing in line, up on their offer. Maybe it was the hangover, but our tour guide was TOO informative. We came to learn about the Coliseum and Gladiators and ended up with a 40 minute history lesson on all of Rome. So, as soon as we made it inside, we decided to defect from our group and explore on our own. While I am sure he had some great stories and information, we enjoyed envisioning the seats packed with people and Russell Crowe emerging from below!
The only thing we had a time frame for in Rome was the Vatican. After all, we had to get there to thank the Pope for Scott's annulment. Honestly, it probably would have been easier to just fly it to him ourselves! But, he was busy (probably signing annulments since this apparently takes quite a long time) so we headed on to the Vatican Museum.

Holy art! Once again, we skipped the tour and opted to decipher everything for ourselves. Maybe not the brightest idea but I am not sure I could have stood to be one of the tour groups clogging up every hallway in the place! We did see some incredible things, including the embalmed mummy. Oh, and the Sistine Chapel. You'll have to Google it to see it, no pictures allowed. Ok, in all seriousness, it was incredible. We just stood and stared for a good 20 minutes. It is hard to wrap your mind around the vision that it took and then the time it took to paint such a masterpiece.
After finding our way out of the museum (this is harder than it sounds), we wondered back to St. Peter's Square where we pondered whether to try and get into the Basilica. We were under the impression that once again you needed tickets and it might just be a lost cause so late in the day. We decided it was worth a shot and jumped in line.

Quick sidebar...after leaving the museum we were on a mission to get another suitcase. We had officially purchased too much wine to fit into our luggage and under weight limits. So, we bartered with a street vendor and walked away with a souvenir roller bag for 15 euro.

As we stood in line with our newly claimed piece of luggage, sweating in our long pants (necessary to get into the museums and Basilica), we came to realize that all it took to get in was a trip through security. SO glad we decided to get in line. The Basilica is beyond unbelievable. It is hard to even know where to look it is so breathtaking and elaborate. We thought St. Ignatius was massive and gorgeous...the Basilica makes it look like a baby church.
The entire Vatican experience was a favorite of mine. I would love to go back and make it to a mass. I can't imagine anything could be more impressive.

Our final day concluded with a quick nap (in our incredible beds which adjust so you can raise your feet after a long day of walking) and a final delicious Italian dinner.

While leaving clearly doesn't make me happy, coming home to our little poms made returning to reality bearable! Can't wait for our next visit!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Happy 40th!

...and we're back.

The day we headed to Rome from Tuscany was also Scott's 40th birthday. While it is never a bad deal to celebrate your birthday in Italy, I definitely qualify for worst wife of the year by doing nothing to prep for the big day. Between the wedding and last minute honeymoon planning I didn't manage to do anything for my new husband. Luckily, he more than understood and we took Rome by storm to celebrate!

Our day began by checking into our phenomenal hotel. Robert and Karina made the recommendation and surprised us with a few extras! THANK YOU! Once again, it was hard to leave our room! However, after drinking our celebratory champagne we managed to head out to begin our sightseeing.
Yep, there were bellinis, gorgeous views, an amazing room, and my purse even got a special seat ;-)!

We also managed to squeeze in the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon! With only a day and half in Rome we used every possible moment.
Make a wish!
Dinner was fairly entertaining...we asked for a lively, good restaurant and were able to get a reservation nearby. We got all gussied up, but when we arrived we were the only two people in sight. The poor kid waiting on us was so nice that we got suckered into a drink and appetizer before feigning fullness and quickly finding another restaurant. The food wasn't tremendous at our new place but there was great people watching and celebrating to be had.
All in all, I think Scott had a great birthday. He was even able to get some football on TV!
Happy Birthday, Lovey! Can't wait to celebrate a lifetime more with you!

I had a mission to finish this tonight but I have to throw in the towel and catch some zzzzz's. Only one day to go, stay tuned!


As most of my readers know, we selected Italy for our honeymoon. We spent two full weeks of bliss around the country and are excited to plan a return trip.

On Tuesday we woke up before the sun and headed to the airport to begin our journey. The next 24 hours are a bit of a blur but went like this: San Francisco-Chicago-Rome-Train to Rome Termini-Train to Naples-Ferry to Capri-Funicolare to the top of the island-short walk to hotel.

And we're off!

Scott and I tried or best to get an upgrade to first class (or, heck, even business) on the way to Rome. We made it our goal to tell everyone it was our honeymoon until we got something. Unfortunately, we never got an upgrade, but after broadcasting our nuptials to anyone who would listen, we got a couple of glasses of champagne smuggled back to economy from first class!

Back to the trip...Capri is unbelievable. It really is surreal. The sky and water are the most incredible colors of blue and the island itself is some kind of fairy tale. I have not photoshopped a single photo that I will post on here, the colors are just that amazing.

A few notes about Capri:

1. Spend more than a day here. In our opinion it would be hard to really experience Capri in a day. It is nice to be able to relax and explore the island on your time schedule. AND, rent a boat for a day or half day. Worth every penny!
Yes, that would be me floating in a rescue tube. Even though I swam competitively for 10 years I never warmed (no pun intended) to the idea of getting into cold water. I was always the last one in as the "just jump" technique is out of the question. So, our boat driver gave me this floaty to ease into the water! Actually, I really believe he didn't think I knew how to swim!

2. It is definitely the lifestyle of the rich and famous. Ferragamo, Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, etc... Needless to say, we bought nothing except wine and food!

3. Do the walk/hike to La Fontelina. The sangria alone is worth the walk (not to mention the views)

4. Our hotel had the most incredible shades/curtains ever. Our room could become a cave with the push of a button (which led to a few, "oops, it's 1pm, time to get up!" moments). The hotel itself was also tremendous. Great rooms, the most helpful staff, special treats by the pool in the afternoon, and gorgeous views!

A few other Capri collages:
Come on, tell me you can eat Pringles without wanting to make the duck bill?! The drinks above were Prosecco with Aperol. Our server that day was loving the Aperol. Not bad but I think I still prefer Prosecco straight.

One theme that emerged throughout our honeymoon (other than eating and drinking) was taking pictures across the table of one another. I think we came back with all of about 5 pictures together but about 100 of us individually. Something to work on...

Speaking of eating and drinking...just a small look at what our meals for two weeks looked like.

The one item I didn't get a picture of was the Caprese salad on Capri. The BEST mozzarella I have ever had in my life. It is worth visiting the island for this alone.

After 4 full amazing days on the island it was time for another day of travel. Pretty much reverse our earlier travel (minus the flights) and we were back at the airport to pick up our rental car. Thank goodness this husband of mine can drive a stick or we would be stuck.
Our driver, "Flo" the lifesaving GPS, and the co-pilot!

We made it safely into Tuscany and to our hotel/villa in Sinalunga. It really is hard to leave this place...gorgeous grounds, amazing buildings, Osteria, restaurant, and beautiful pool. But, we managed to pull ourselves away and explore Italian wine country.

Day 1: Siena: Siena is an amazing town. This is where we learned the parking lesson of all of these towns, though. Pretty much everywhere you went you had to park "outside" of the town and walk or take a bus in. It is all a little unclear where to park (plus, we don't speak Italian so signs are a bit of a challenge) but eventually we figured it out and made our way into the town.
When we arrived (conveniently right where we were supposed to eat) and found out we couldn't eat for 2 hours I might have become a bit cranky (see bottom left picture). Honeymoon's over? I THINK NOT! Scott puts up with my "I am so hungry I might eat your head if you keep talking or taking pictures of me" attitude and we made it without anyone suffering bodily harm to an amazing lunch!

Day 2: Radda: Oh, what a day. There is a restaurant in Boulder called Radda, which I love and took Scott to early in our relationship, so naturally when the town was recommended I jumped on the chance to go.
Unfortunately, it was the one day of rain we had our entire visit and we didn't have umbrellas. It was raining harder than anything I have ever seen (driving anyway) and there were definitely moments where we said, "should we pull over?". But, we pressed on and made it to Radda ready to find lunch. After a sprint in the downpour into town we stumbled into a restaurant soaking wet. Lucky pasta EVER! The wine and food were so incredible and by the time we finished the rain was gone and we were able to explore this wonderful little town!

Day 3: Montelpulciano: We made a valiant effort to travel to a very small village for lunch, unfortunately, it was closed. We took pictures anyway as the scenery was amazing and got in the car and headed back to our original destination. Many people might say, "I have seen this place before!" about the wonderful town of Montepulciano. Well, if you are a Twilight fan, you have. They filmed the most recent movie there. Can't say I have seen it but they sure are proud of it! Same story: amazing food and wine! It never gets old!

Day 4: Montalcino: Food, wine, getting lost on back country roads...a typical day in Italy. We had a special stop this day at Poggio Antico. It was a wonderful winery with delicious wine and also the information that legally we are only supposed to bring 2.5 bottles back each. Oops. We were planning on way more (and ended up checking 9 total). Problem solved: buy a case and ship it back! Italian wine galore at the Retchless household!

Back to Montalcino...this was a great stop. Enoteca after enoteca and the town perched far up on a hilltop!

Two other Montalcino highlights...1-I found FroYo! Yes, gelato is great, but I do love my FroYo! 2-Spumante. While Prosecco is delicious...7 days of it can get to be a bit much. Spumante will have to make a regular appearance here at our house!

Day 5: Pool Day: I am not sure how much actual sun we got, but we sure did enjoy our day by the pool after all the driving around we did in Tuscany. We also got out and explored the rest of the property, including Scott's favorite, the vineyards! He sure does love his grapes!
This is also the only day of the entire trip that we ordered a meal in. Pizza from Sinalunga. Nothing to write home about but having dinner in our PJs for a change was quite nice.

Random notes (aka, the bitching and moaning portion of the blog):
1. Validation: a little known fact (well, to us anyway) is that when you buy train tickets in Italy you have to get them validated before traveling. It seems that they are good for a certain amount of time and you must validate on the day you travel. Where was the GIANT sign announcing this (or, why didn't the person who sold us our tickets mention this?). We learned the hard way, having to pay 50 euro to a very grumpy train ticket official. Lesson learned, we validated EVERYTHING from then on!
The tickets that got us in trouble.
Validating on our next trip!

2. Iron: The ONLY place we were able to get an iron was in Capri. Otherwise, you pay and wait 1-2 days for your laundry to return. We opted out of said service and just wore repeats or wrinkly clothes. Next time we will be bringing wrinkle free items!

3. Wine Opener: The Amorosa wasn't exactly thrilled with us wanting to stop buying wine from them and paying their service fee (it seemed). So, obtaining a wine opener from them wasn't a possibility. After meeting a wonderful family and getting a few tips, we opened our wine courtesy of a tree. It is the same idea as the shoe trick, and worked like a charm.
At least when you did get wine from the Osteria it was a nice big glass, "Look this wine glass is as big as my head!"

4. Italian radio: If you visit Italy, bring CDs. There was not a handy place to plug in an iPod so we drove for 5 days with Italian radio. There was plenty of American music (however, apparently "Like a Virgin" is just hitting airwaves there) but the number of commercials was PAINFUL. Every song they broke for at least two minutes. A little tiring after awhile!

5. Balsamico!: Ok, not exactly a gripe but a very funny story. Quick back story: my parents were in Rio and my mom was trying to find the bathroom:

Mom: "Where is the bathroom?"
-confused look from someone who doesn't speak English
Mom: (much louder): "Bathroom?!"
-confused look...
Mom: "Bathroom-o!?"

**They finally got what they needed when my dad said, "toilet".

Ah, the magical "o".

We were in a similar situation in Sinalunga at dinner where no one spoke English. We ordered just fine by pointing at the menu but I wanted a little balsamic and a plate for my bread. They were not understanding what I needed so Scott suggested I ask for a "plate-o" and "balsamic-o". I told above story. Well, Dad/Steph-1, Scott/Mom-1. I had to tap the plate to get across that piece of information but alas...

Next up...Scott turns 40 in Rome!

The Wedding

**Currently the best place to find pictures is on our photographer's blog. I will post my favorites at some point but I am still sorting through all of them. And, let me take this opportunity to say how amazed, impressed, and happy we are with Mike and Lauren. The photos are absolutely incredible and captured everything perfectly. If you are looking for amazing pictures, professionalism, timely responses, and pretty much the complete package, hire Mike!


If you want to see a million pictures, email me (or leave a comment) and I will give you the login to get to the full wedding album from our photographer. You can also order prints from this site.

Saturday. Wedding Day. Bliss. Perfection. Married. I don't even really know how to put this day on the blog. I think I can sum it up with HAPPY! It was the happiest day of my life and I wouldn't change anything. It went exactly how I hoped and I feel like I was really able to take it all in as it happened. A few favorite moments:

-Panera Bread for lunch with my Dad. It didn't really occur to us to have lunch until we were on our way to the hotel to get ready. My mom had already eaten, there was no parking, so my mom sat in the car while my dad and I had some pre-wedding food (broccoli cheddar in a bread bowl...YUM!).

-The whole getting ready process. It was wonderful to just relax with my bridesmaids and get all gussied up. It was a little funny because it didn't really register this was MY wedding (although there were cameras pointing at me all day) until I put on my dress. I felt like I was a bridesmaid and was getting ready for some other day!

-Waiting. If I had gotten to the church any earlier I might have gone crazy. I just wanted to get down that aisle!!

-The walk. I tried so hard to look at the church and the guests and everything that was going on but I was locked in on Scott. I couldn't stop smiling and looking at him. It was the best feeling on earth. Of course my dad and I were having our fair share of fun chatting on the way down and reminding one another to slow down! Walking slow is not something we are used to!

-Maybe my favorite...Scott trying to kiss me before we headed up to the alter. I had to pull back and say, "not yet!"

-Pictures at Crissy Field. It was freezing and crazy windy. I felt really bad for my bridesmaids but with all the adrenaline pumping from the day I didn't really get cold and enjoyed the crazy conditions down there.

-The entire reception (I know this is not a moment, but it was all so great). The speeches, the guests, the dancing, the wine, the hot dogs, the photo booth...all of it. Perfect.

As I said above, I am having trouble putting this day in words. I could list every moment of the day but I will leave you with some pictures others have posted on Facebook and such until I get the rest sorted out and some favorites up.
Saying our vows
My veil, I am pretty much in love with it.
After the freezing pictures. As Greg said, "It looks like you were crying"...nope, just freezing wind in the eyes!
Mom and Dad
Gab, Jordan, me and Lauren. Love these girls!
Oh, the bustle. This was the first time we did this (of about 10!). I ended up with about 20 safety pins in my dress by the end of the night.
First dance
Visiting with Grandma
Everybody cut, everybody cut...
The happy dance!
I loved our flowers

I will end this admittedly lame post with a huge thank you to everyone who came out to support us and celebrate with us. We couldn't ask for better friends and family and the day wouldn't have been what it was without you all!