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blog favorites from 2012

it's hard to believe that this is the last day of 2012!


before i get ready to ring in the new year, i want to take a moment to reflect on this one that is very rapidly coming to an end..

i wrote a post about old friendships and what happened when i tried to revisit some of mine. i'm glad i reconnected, even if just for a moment in time.

finishing my rooster tattoo. even though it turned out i wasn't finished..
*disclaimer: i admit, i finished my tattoo in december 2011, but i didn't share until 2012!

finding out that our godchild was going to be a godson! even though carmella knew it was a boy like 4 days into her pregnancy..

picking our wedding venue and setting a date. nothing will make getting married feel more real than deciding on these two details. wedding planning in general has been so wonderfully stressful and rewarding. thankfully i only have a couple more months left of it..

deciding to scale back on blogging so i could concentrate on wedding planning, spending time with family and friends, and living outside of

the arrival of noah on june 25. watching him grow has been such a blessing for randy and i. not to be biased, but he is one of the cutest babies i have ever known, and i can't wait to see what life has in store for him!

seeing jason mraz with randy. this was such a great date night! randy and i haven't been to a concert that we've both really enjoyed since probably 2007 or 8.

taking a santa barbara trip with my dad and grandparents. i will always cherish this trip to sb! spending time with your family when you're an adult is seriously the best thing ever (if you have a good family, that is).

celebrating a year of being engaged.

randy and i did an 8-week weight-loss challenge and lost (combined) 25 pounds! it's been a couple of week since it ended, but we've been maintaining the lifestyle changes and are continuing to be a healthier couple!

so there you have it, folks - my favorite blog moments from 2012! i hope you all have a wonderful (and very safe) new years celebration, and i'll be seeing you on the other side :)


merry christmas!

our holiday card 2012 (from vistaprint)
wishing you all a very merry and bright christmas day! i hope you get everything on your list and more importantly, i hope you get to spend this special season with your loved ones.


wedding wednesday

the bridal shower: an excuse for ladies to get together and gab all morning/afternoon while sipping on some type of fruity alcoholic drink and tell the bride how fabulous she looks and how amazing her wedding is going to be.

umm, yes please!!!!?!?!

here are some cute shower ideas i've found:

how disgustingly adorable are these mini wedding cake molds??!! we already know anything mini is to die for, but for a bridal shower, these are practically a must-have! you can find yours here on amazon.

while we're talking about things that are small and made of cake, these mini cupcakes are also very sweet. the secret: use ketchup cups. my local in n out better watch their ketchup stations very closely when i'm around..

technically, this game was designed for a baby shower (my bridal shower will not be animal themed..), but i think this would be a hoot for the bridal shower guests to play! we all know us ladies keep tons of (mostly unnecessary) crap in our purse, so why not get points for it?

do i even have to explain why these are amazing?

i lovelovelove this idea! the whole reason for the shower is to celebrate the wedding, so why not let your guests know exactly how many days are left 'til the big event?

this is probably my favorite thing ever. have your guests put their lip print on a large piece of paper and everyone can sign it. a super fun and girly guest book!

yes, yes, & yes!

last, but certainly not least. this is so ridiculous that it's pretty much amazing :)

for more fun things, you can always follow me on pinterest!

image sources: mini cake molds, mini cupcakes, what's in your purse game, donut rings, wedding count down, lipstick guest book, mimosa bar, bride & groom tp.


how to handle the holiday blues

christmas is going to be very light in the chauran/joe household this year. because we're still saving money for our wedding, randy and i decided to not get christmas gifts for each other. not that i have a problem with the no gifts part (ok, not a big problem..), it's just that being so 'practical' about the holidays is kind of bumming me out. becoming a reasonable adult really takes the magic out of christmas! so, sadly, i have a case of the holiday blues :(

since the economy is also pretty grim right now, i figure a lot of people are feeling the same way i am. or what if you're away at college and can't afford to fly home for the holidays? or if you and your significant other just broke up, and now you're all alone (i told you i'm not my usual ball-of-cheer self right now)?

so i thought, what will make me feel better? and i came up with a few ideas..

on a cold night, get all bundled up and walk around your neighborhood to look at all the christmas decorations. the more lights, the better! all that christmas cheer is bound to rub off on you!

bake some delicious holiday treats. or, if you suck at baking, go buy yourself some delicious holiday treats. the more cinnamon you use, the more your house will smell like a winter wonderland! plus, it's sweater season, so you can hide the pooch you'll get from eating so many holiday cookies.

do some cheap and easy holiday crafts. this is sure to get you in the holiday mood, and you can even give some of your creations as gifts!

put on some christmas music. you'll be singing along in no time!

definitely buy some christmas-themed scented candles. if it doesn't look or feel like christmas to you, it sure will smell like it!

and if you can, go play in the snow! build a snowman, ride down a huge hill on a trash can lid, have a snowball fight. enjoy the weather of the season!

i hope these tips and tricks help if you're having a case of the holiday blues. and even if you don't, you should do this stuff anyway :)

photo sources: mean santa, christmas lights, gingerbread cookies, gingerbread man and hot chocolate, snowflake ornament,  peppermint trees, christmas cds, christmas candles, snowman


how i lost 9 pounds in 8 weeks

i'm a girl, and i'm getting married. so obviously i'm trying to lose weight for my wedding.

after scouring pinterest for diet and workout tips to pin to my 'wedding fitness' board, i somehow came across something fantastic: the 8-week weight-loss challenge.

i've done diets before, so i'm no stranger to trying different methods of weight-loss in terms of the food aspect. but, i'm not very good when it comes to will power, and an extra helping of pasta or buying a fastbreak after work always won out over an apple a day. the thing that usually makes me quit diets is they always seem to focus on what you can't have and not on what you can have. but the 8-week challenge is completely different from anything i've ever tried before.

the gist is that it works on a points system, so it's definitely better to do this with a group of people (and for money!). you get points for certain tasks each week (like eating 2 servings of fruits or keeping a food journal), and then points based on how many pounds you have lost. the thing i love about the challenge is that each person can do this diet in their own way, on their own terms. the rules are very broad and can be adapted to any type of lifestyle. here are the things that earn you weekly points:

contact with teammate
64 oz water
stop eating before 9 pm
2 fruit servings*
3 vegetable servings*
no sweets/surgary treats (only 6 days a week)
keep a food journal
30 min/45 minutes exercise (only 5 days a week)
*1/2 cup or 1 whole fruit/vegetable is 1 serving

drinking 64 ounces of water every day has made such a difference for me. while i do visit the ladies room more often, i also feel generally better because my body is much more hydrated than it was before. also not eating as late (when randy closes at work, he would pick up food on the way home and we wouldn't eat until 10 or 10:30 pm some nights) has freed up the entire evening for me and not only do i get more things done, i make it to bed earlier. but it's so great because each person can do this challenge in their own way. you have to eat 3 servings of vegetables each day, but not any specific vegetable. you need to work out 5 days a week, but you get to pick the exercise you like, and you get 2 rest days. my favorite is the one treat day each week, which i sometimes stretch to two days, but i'm not too ashamed about that.

myself and 5 others decided to try out the challenge. randy even did it with me! at first, it was annoying because i had to prepare twice as much food, but it ended up being a really great experience for us to go through together. making meals in the actual kitchen has made me feel more "wife-ly" and we both feel better from well-rounded, portion-controlled meals. we have also started jogging together when our schedules permit, and trying something new has been so much fun. i know losing 9 pounds in 2 months isn't super impressive (that's a loss of 1.125 pounds per week), but these lifestyle changes will help me to both continue to lose weight and to maintain my weight-loss going forward. also, randy lost 16 pounds overall, so if you need something impressive, there ya go!

as per the challenge's directions, there are 2 winners at the end of 8 weeks (any money that was contributed to the challenge is split between the winners): the person with the most total points, and the person who lost the largest percentage of weight. our group decided not to play for money afterall, but everyone involved lost weight!

in case you are curious, here are the typical meals i ate during the challenge:

breakfast: egg bake or greek yogurt
10 am snack: fruit
lunch: turkey sandwich w/ cheese on thin bread OR vegetable soup
always a side of carrots, green beans, or some other veggie
4:30 pm snack: granola bar or small veggie side or small fruit side
dinner: varied based on what i needed for points (but some
although there were technically no limits involving carbs, i tried to eat them earlier in the day so i could burn them off. and if for some reason i needed to include carbs in my dinners, i always chose whole wheats.
my typical workouts were either my wedding workout DVD coupled with some exercises found on pinterest, or a 2 - 2.5 mile jog with randy, or a 45-minute walk with lilly. (a mix of weight training and cardio is really good because you will lose inches as well as gaining muscle tone).

start your own challenge! print out your 8-week challenge guide here.

i've also tried the slow-carb diet, from which i got pretty good results in terms of pounds lost. however, the diet itself is pretty torturous. i also don't remember feeling as good as i do now when i was on the slow-carb diet. i can tell a big difference in my body physically, my clothes are fitting better, and i haven't had a problem with low-energy or feeling deprived because of the food i'm eating. the stringency of the slow-carb diet is part of the reason i fell off of it, but if that's something that works for you, i would recommend it.

if you decide to try the 8-week challenge, i would love to know! remember, the best way to achieve your fitness goals is to keep your eye on the prize and build a good support system for yourself.

happy losing!


wedding wednesday

not that i've ever had to notice before, but i feel like this year i'm seeing so many cute newly-married christmas cards! it's too bad randy and i aren't getting married before the holidays. maybe i'll send out a newly-married happy easter card?

married & merry! by minted

kraft ribbon new year's by minted

mr. & mrs. by magnet street
elegent union holiday flat card by smitten on paper

classic love decorative cut by smitten on paper


a year ago today..

a year ago today, randy edward joe proposed to me <3

it totally blows my mind that we have been engaged for a whole year! i would say i remember it like it was yesterday, but soooo many things have happened in the past year, not to mention a crap load of wedding planning, that on one hand, it totally feels like an entire year has already gone by. the part i can't believe is how close the wedding is getting!

so here we are - randy and alaina :) getting married in 3 and a half months, and so much in love. i will tell you, i can definitely see how so many couples break up because of wedding planning - it is so much stress, there's so much to do, and if it's your first time, planning a wedding is nothing like you could ever imagine, regardless of how many times you've seen bride wars or 27 dresses.

but luckily for us, i think this engagement has brought us much closer together. i can't wait to see what the next few months bring, i definitely cannot wait to see what our wedding day is like, and of course, can't wait to spend the rest of my life being mrs. joe <3