March 21, 2010

On decisions and ineptitudes

Posted in Boudoir, Photography at 10:27 am by Andrea

The other day I mentioned that I’d gone ahead and chosen a photographer to take my boudoir pics. Since then, I’ve sent in the contract and my deposit…I think that means there’s no turning back now!

After seeing their gorgeous photos and feeling confident in their ability to make even me look sexy, I booked The Last Forty Percent Photography to take my b-pics.

Okay, so seriously, I am a total dweeb in front of the camera. I don’t know how to do anything other than smile. and I have the world’s least pouty lips. So, although my shoot isn’t until late June, I’ve decided I should start practicing now. I need to take Remedial Photo Posing 101. I’m not even joking.

Here are some of the tips I’ve compiled to date:

  • Nobody’s arms look pretty and their thinnest when pressed against one’s side. Bend your arms slightly to keep them away from your body, or put your hands on your hips.
  • Rest most of your weight on one foot. This makes poses look less like poses, more like real life and, most importantly, has a slimming effect.
  • Stick your chest and bum out. Other than just showing off your assets, this will also put a sexy curve in your back and help flatten your tummy.
  • Create shapes and angles with your body — especially triangles.
  • Don’t wear a bra/underwear before your shoot, as they will leave lines on your skin.
  • Make sure you’ve waxed, shaved or otherwise removed facial and body hair, which can be very distracting in photos.
  • Wine. That is all.
  • Relax!
  • And, I think this one is obvious, but you’re going to want to whip out your best Blue Steel or, if you’re feeling really daring, Le Tigre.

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I would be remiss in this post if I weren’t to provide you with some more drool-worthy examples of The Last Forty Percent’s work.Source

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I have until June 23 to get my pose on and perfect my “smeyes”. Surely a liberal dollop of Photoshop will have me well on my way to sexy.

I’m desperate for photo posing tips…so if you have experience in this area or are just innately fierce, do let me in on your secret!


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March 18, 2010

Your Best Bridal Body: Part 2 — Turning up the volume on your cardio

Posted in Your Best Bridal Body at 11:00 am by Andrea

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So we’ve all heard, ad nauseum, about the importance of cardiovascular health. So we go to the gym. We become slaves to the elliptical or the treadmill. We pump out mile after mile. But, for me at least, traditional, endurance-based cardio doesn’t seem to provide the results I feel it should. Actually, other than improved endurance and cardiovascular health (which obviously aren’t to be overlooked, but let’s be honest, I’m talking about vanity and health here!) I saw very few physical benefits from cardio once I got settled into a routine.

What has worked for me has been a good mix of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and weightlifting (more on that in Part 3).

HIIT is basically interval training on steroids. I do my HIIT on a 2:1 ratio of high intensity to lower intensity. What does that look like? I do mine on the treadmill (HIIT is best done on an outdoor track. But I live in Canada. And it’s March. So…yeah) with the following process: two minutes of walking at 3.5, one minute of running at 8.5, two minutes of walking at 3.5, one minute of running at 8.6, rinse, repeat until you reach the 20 minute mark (you can always start with 15 minutes and work your way up). You want your top speed to be whatever “all out” is for you. Basically, at the end of the minute of high intensity work you should feel totally spent. By the end of your workout you should pretty much feel like death (I know, I’m like so inspirational, right?!).

Quick (kind of) side note — I used to do HIIT going from a jog (5.5) to a sprint (8.5+), but I’ve recently changed to walking at 3.5 for the low intensity portions of my workout and this has been WAY more effective, because it means that I can really go all out when I get to the sprinting portions.

Not sure what the heck I’m on about? Check out this video for a great how-to on HIIT:

So the bottom line is this: HIIT is more effective for fat loss than steady state cardio. Why, you ask? Excellent question! Studies have shown a significant after-burn that goes along with HIIT. When you do steady state cardio you log your, say, 2.5 miles and burn 250 calories; the second you step off the treadmill, you cease burning calories at that higher level. HIIT, on the other hand, keeps your body burning calories well after your workout, so ultimately the burn is higher and your thighs/bum/tummy are smaller.

Get it? Got it? Good.

Next time we’ll talk about lifting some serious weights and why big weights can equal a smaller body.

Have your incorporated HIIT into your fitness routine? What kind of results have you seen?

March 16, 2010

I hope they are capable of miracles

Posted in Boudoir, Photography at 9:36 am by Andrea

GAH! I am SO excited! After months of thinking about it, yesterday I actually did some serious research on boudoir photographers in my area. I narrowed the pool down to three candidates and contacted all of them for more information.

(FYI – The rest of this post contains some NSFW content!)

Tara McMullen is based on Toronto and takes beautiful boudoir photos. I love the softness and the lighting in her work.

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Tara’s work is gorgeous, isn’t it? She’s based in Toronto, so I did some searching to see if I could find some local photographers who do boudoir work as well.

I quickly came across two (thank you Google).

The first was HRM Photography, which has recently set up a studio right here in my city.

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And finally I came across Last Forty Percent Photography. I have no idea how I’d never seen their work before (um, this may have something to do with the fact that I didn’t even research any photographers after we got engaged..I knew immediately who I wanted to book). They’re based here in my city and have awesome style.

Check out these stunning shots:

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I’ve contacted all three, gotten their information and made a decision. I’m just finalizing the paper work now, so stay tuned to see who I chose.

As for the title of this post, I do hope they are capable of miracles. I’m not nearly as concerned about being half-naked as I am about how my face will look in the photos. I haven’t an ounce of posing prowess. I don’t know how to “smeyes” and I certainly don’t know how to look sexy/get all “bedroom eyes” on command. I have one look in photos: looking at the camera and smiling. That is all. Hopefully the photographers will be able to get me beyond the awkwardness. Regardless, I have a feeling The Guy might be focusing on other things when he see the photos 😉

March 14, 2010

Bad Bridesmaid

Posted in General wedding, Vent at 5:13 pm by Andrea

A couple weeks ago, I was chatting with my coworkers about how guilty I felt over asking my best friends to shell out $200+ for dresses for my wedding. I mean, I know this is the way it happens, but I just couldn’t seem to keep the guilt at bay. One of my colleagues assured me that she had something that could assuage my guilt. She returned from lunch triumphantly clutching a book, which she thrust into my hands and encouraged me to read, “This will definitely make you feel better!” she said.

The book? Bad Bridesmaid: Bachelorette Brawls & Taffeta Tantrums — What We Go Through for Her Big Day by Siri Agrell.

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I started the book a couple days later (it made for a good bit of fluff between a couple of nail biters: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire). And sure enough, I felt better.

Agrell tells the story of when she wrote a somewhat sarcastic column about being a bridesmaid and was subsequently kicked out of her close friend’s bridal party. Intrigued by this incident of bridal megalomania, Agrell talked to women across North America about the travesties they’d faced as bridesmaids — frankly, some of it was appalling, and it goes beyond ugly dresses.

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Yes, believe it or not, it can get worse than those.

Examples, you say? Sure, how about the bride who offered to pick up the bridesmaid dress and courier it to her bridemaid’s home…only she wrote the address incorrectly on the package. When the wedding day rolled around and the bridesmaid was without anything to wear (due to the bride’s error), the bride wasn’t sympathetic. No. Instead she kicked her friend out of the bridal party.

Or, my personal favourite, the bride who decided she wanted to give every single guest at her wedding a one-of-a-kind hand painted rock (because that sounds like SUCH a fun favour, no?!) so she enlisted her bridemaids to sit in the sweltering heat of her backyard and paint 150 rocks with very specific design instructions for each one.

Another good one? the bride who, virtually seconds after the engagement ring was on her finger, sent her bridemaids a six page long list of their “duties,” which included picking her dress up from the dry cleaner’s the day after the wedding and addressing her thank you cards while she lazed on a beach on her honeymoon.

Suddenly the $200 dresses didn’t seem so bad to me!

Why is it that these women think their bridesmaids are their personal slaves? I invited my ladies (and bridesman) to be in my bridal party because I wanted to share a very important day with them. I want them to stand beside me when The Guy and I exchange our vows. But I certainly never banked on them doing chores for me (I’m pretty sure if I asked them to they’d tell me to snap out of it and get over myself).

Do you have a horror story from a time you were a bridesmaid? From the sounds of Bad Bridesmaid, most of us do!

March 10, 2010

Your Best Bridal Body: Part 1

Posted in Your Best Bridal Body at 9:44 pm by Andrea


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In the last two years, getting in shape, staying in shape and constantly trying to push myself just that little bit further (I’m a Type A personality, can you tell?!) has become a really meaningful part of my life. I’m not sure how it all started, I think I just got fed up with my lazy, increasingly soft self, so I decided to do something about it. Two years and 15 lbs later, I thought maybe some of the knowledge (okay, I’m an official exercise and nutrition nerd) I’ve gleaned through some trial, and a lot of error, might be helpful to some other brides-to-be out there.

It all started with Jillian Michaels. In the spring of 2008, I started hearing endless buzz about the 30 Day Shred. I thought I’d give it a try. How hard could it be? It was only half an hour after all. Yeah, I ate my words pretty quickly on that one. After my first attempt at level one I couldn’t walk for about three days. This wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. I stuck with it though. I made it through levels one, two and three, and even started doing two levels back-to-back when I was feeling really motivated. I was getting stronger and my lung capacity was definitely improving, but I didn’t seem to be getting that much smaller.

That’s when the truth about weight loss became clear to me: it doesn’t matter how much you work out if you aren’t watching what you eat.

Best Bridal Body Tip #1: You are what (and how much) you eat.

I started to read more and more (The Nest’s Health and Fitness Board became my daily reading. Those ladies seriously know their stuff!) and discovered that within the fitness community, it seems to be a well-known fact that weight loss is 80%-90% diet, and only 10%-20% exercise.

I know that right now you’re all like, “Thanks for nothing! Everyone knows that.” But I can tell you that people sabotage their own weight loss efforts ALL the time. I know, because I was one of them.

Here’s the thing: You’ve just started working out regularly. You’re doing 30 Day Shred. Those workouts are freaking HARD. You were sweating BUCKETS. So obviously you burned a lot of calories and can have those two cookies after dinner, right? Wrong. 30 Day Shred, for most people, only burns about 150 to 200 calories. That’s about a half cup of ice cream…not very much at all.

I watched what I ate, got my recommended intake of fruits and veggies and ate primarily whole, healthy foods. But I was eating too much of them so the weight wasn’t coming off.

What the best way to overcome this? I know it sounds old school and oh-so-1970s grapefruit diety, but you’ve gotta count calories. It’s easier now than it used to be. I use sparkpeople.com, which is free and a great way to track your food intake. Another stumbling block though: the only way to actually know how much food you’re eating is to weigh it. Measuring spoons and cups are less standardized than we’d like to believe.

Bottomlines:

-Weight loss = calories in vs. calories out. There’s no other “secret'” to it.

– Need to know how much to eat? Find out your Basal Metabolic Rate, then use the Harris Benedict Equation to estimate the number of calories you need to eat to lose weight.

-You can still occasionally treat yourself, just make sure those treats are included in (and not above and beyond) your daily caloric limit

-Give it time! It can take up to six weeks before you start seeing changes in your body..and you may not see them on the scale, trying measuring instead of weighing.

-Don’t just do it for your wedding. Make it a permanent lifestyle change.

In the next installment of Your Best Bridal Body: Stepping up your workouts

March 7, 2010

Beautiful, intelligent and….resourceful?

Posted in General wedding, Uncategorized at 9:08 am by Andrea

You may remember that two weekends ago (the weekend before Canada took home our most important gold medal!), The Guy and I attended a marriage prep course at our church. We spent a lot of the day doing exercises as couples, or in small groups. Sound totally like something would make you want to scratch your eyeballs out? I thought that too (kind of, I was also kind of excited) at the outset, never one for cheesy icebreakers and silly team building exercises (Team Building Exercise ’99!), but it actually turned out to be a lot of fun.

In one such exercise, we were divided into groups of three couples. In our package of materials, we had a list of 70+ character traits. We were instructed to choose three that we thought our partner possessed; along with the answers we were to provide examples of situations when we had noticed these characteristics in action.

For The Guy, I chose affectionate, totally silly and committed. We went around the group and everyone shared one of the characteristics they’d written down. Things like loving, creative, fun and kind came up. I shared with the group how The Guy can be totally silly and I, in turn, can be totally silly when I’m around him. Despite, by all outward appearances, being a responsible, professional couple, we really are a couple of kids at heart and we take constant joy in joking around with one another and making up silly songs. Do you know which characteristic The Guy chose to share about me? Resourceful.

You’re probably asking, “Gee, Andrea, how did you manage to get yourself engaged to such a dreamy romantic?” Well girls, it’s not easy! Oh, wait, it’s probably because I’m soooo resourceful, no?!

Yes, The Guy, apparently, prizes my resourcefulness and, from a list of more than 70 traits, thought that this was one of the top three. The example he provided? I’m good at planning trips and researching hotels. Okay, well, he’s got a point there.

I shared this story with a coworker and her boyfriend a couple days later. Her boyfriend said something like, “Every guy wants a resourceful girlfriend. You must be like MacGyver! Like, if you guys got stuck in a locked room that was about to explode you could craft something with a drinking straw and a piece of lint that would help you escape just in time! That’s awesome!” I shared this anecdote with The Guy. He confirmed that this, in fact, was not what he meant by resourceful. So what did he mean, “You’re just like, really good at finding websites and stuff.”

Be still my beating heart!

P.S. Another guy in our group told his fiancée that one of her top three traits is the fact that she’s organized. I think that may just beat resourceful 😉

March 2, 2010

Conversations with my mother

Posted in Attire, Reception, Vent at 9:09 am by Andrea

I love my mum. She and I are incredibly close. We share the same sense of humour (quirky), the same sense of style (classic elegance) and the same “shapely” thighs (you win some, you lose some). We also differ in some areas, one of these being our thresholds for stress. My mother has had more sleepless nights due to the wedding than I have (well, I haven’t had any…I excel at sleeping).

Actual phone conversation that occurred last night:

Mum: MOH’s mum [my mum’s best friend] called and MOH is going to order her dress tomorrow.
Me: Great!
Mum: Wait! Don’t you think there are some things you should do before she goes ahead and orders the dress?
Me: *thinking* Um….no.
Mum: Don’t you think you need to get a sample fabric swatch?
Me: No, I think I’m good to go.
Mum: But Andrea, how are you going to know what the fabric looks like in different light?
Me: Um, I’m not. I imagine it will just look like chocolate brown taffeta….
Mum: [increasingly frantic] And what about the tablecloths?!
Me: What about them?
Mum: Well don’t you want to get a fabric swatch and bring it to the decorator’s appointment on Saturday to make sure the bridesmaids’ dresses match the tablecloths?
Me: Why in heaven’s name would I want them to match the tablecloths?! No one’s going to check to make sure that they’re the same colour. I’m not planning to use the bridemaids as centerpieces. Why would they have to match?! I don’t understand!
Mum: [exasperated] Forget it. I’ll tell MOH’s mum that MOH can just order the dress. And I’ll tell her you don’t care about the tablecloths. She won’t be happy to hear that.

Can anyone explain this to me?! Why would I want everything to match EXACTLY?! I can see how it might have its uses if we needed to camouflage right into the tablecloths…but other than that…what would the utility be?!

[I apologize for the over-use of exclamation points above, but….seriously?]

In the words of the sulla tips (wise words I always try to heed while planning the wedding), “[N]obody ever leaves a wedding saying, “Yeah, it was soooo great! The mother of the groom’s dress was the SAME EXACT SHADE as the bridesmaids’ shoes and the writing on the matchbooks!” People leave a wedding thinking it was great because it felt great – because the bride and groom were in love and happy, and the party felt appropriately joyous, even if there’s not a single Martha Stewart-ish detail anywhere in sight.”

That is all.

March 1, 2010

Etsy Find – Timeless Paper

Posted in Etsy at 10:08 am by Andrea

I have been in love with Etsy for ages.

It started with the purchase of a simple necklace (that I still wear all the time) in 2007, and has spiralled out of control since then! We even got our save the dates on Etsy from the same vendor who’d created beautiful shower invites for the bridal shower I hosted for my MOH last year.

I’ve tagged a lot of favourites in the hours I’ve spent sucked into the Etsy vortex. But today let’s talk about Timeless Paper.

At some point PP (pre-proposal) I stumbled on Timeless Paper while looking for interesting place card ideas. They offer really pretty and unique place cards and menus that look so beautifully delicate and could tie in so well with any theme you are planning to carry throughout all the wedding details.

Source for all photos

February 25, 2010

The solidity of life

Posted in Reception at 5:06 pm by Andrea

“Compromise, if not the spice of life, is its solidity. It is what makes nations great and marriages happy.” – Phyllis McGinley

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m sure we all learned early on that compromise is the stuff that relationships are made of. This isn’t exactly a revelation. I was definitely reminded of this fact though last night when a certain nasty topic reared its ugly head again: the first dance song.

Long have I hoped that we would use one of my favourite songs, Lost Together, by Canadian band Blue Rodeo for our first dance. The lyrics just seem so…us *swoon*.

Give it a listen:

So shortly after we started all this wedding planning rigmarole, The Guy, out of nowhere, decided that ALL the reception music needed to be his domain (His words, “I don’t want all the music at the reception to be Norah Jones!” My response: “The only Norah Jones music we have is the music YOU downloaded on YOUR computer!” Hilarious!). I was cool with that, thinking I’d still get to collaborate a little. Then he went further and said, no, in fact, he wanted to be 100% in charge of it because I was in charge of everything else. HA! Yes, I’m in charge of pretty much everything else, but only because he said, up front, “I want you to be in charge of everything.”

You can imagine the eye-rolling that ensued after he raised that bone of contention.

So, dear The Guy, what first song then would you like? He said he had three in mind, but he only told me two before the whole conversation devolved into something that wasn’t going anywhere.

Here were his two choices:

Read My Mind, The Killers

Rebellion (Lies), The Arcade Fire

Le sigh.

While I totally appreciated The Guy’s sentiment (both these songs have special meaning for us in the context of our relationship) and understood where he was coming from (he clearly wanted to use a song with which we had some history), I really didn’t want the lyrics of my first dance song to include, “People say that you’ll die/Faster than without water/But we know it’s just a lie/Scare you son, scare your daughter.” Not to mention neither song has a tempo conducive to a slow dance. Gah!

But. Well. Here’s the compromise part:

Last night we were discussing the ceremony. And forever and ever I’ve dreamed of including the Blessing of the Hands in our ceremony. I finally showed it to The Guy. He read it. And he didn’t like it! He thought it was “too much.” (I hastened to point out that a wedding ceremony is SUPPOSED to be sentimental)

So, dear readers, I made a compromise that I may come to regret: I traded any say in the first dance song for the right to include the Blessing of the Hands in our ceremony!

In fact, I even told The Guy to keep the first dance song a secret and surprise me at the reception. His response? “I chose a good ring, right? So I’ll choose a good song.” Um, right, prior evidence to the contrary (The Killers and The Arcade Fire songs) notwithstanding. My ring is lovely though….so maybe he has a point?

If not, I’m thinking it will at least be worth a laugh.

February 24, 2010

Making marriage work

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:27 pm by Andrea

First I was sick, sick, sick. Then I had what may have been the busiest work week of all time. And then I celebrated with a weeklong tropical vacation with The Guy. I’m back though. Feeling relaxed. With a tan. After seven days of total relaxation it’s hard to remember where you left off in your “real life’!

It was a pretty quick reentry to reality though. We got home (well, to my parents’ home, as we were staying at their place this weekend) from the airport at 3:00 a.m. and started Marriage Prep at our church promptly at 9:15 the following morning. After about 4.5 hours of sleep I felt strangely awake. That, kids, is what we call adrenaline!

I think we had both been viewing the Marriage Prep course as a bit of a hoop that we needed to jump through to get where we wanted to go. In reality though? It was awesome! Both The Guy and I really enjoyed the weekend and the opportunities it provided to get to know eight other couples, learn more about making marriage work (more on that in a second), and learn about the structure of our ceremony (*happy dance*).

I love researching. So, it cams as no surprise when, shortly after the ring was on my finger, I started researching marriage. After much searching on Amazon, I finally settled on The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by Dr. John Gottman.

It was an easy read and I have been (secretly!) applying some of the strategies from the book in my day-to-day life with The Guy for the past several months. Dr. Gottman is the foremost academic researcher in the area of what leads to successful marriages. He flouts a lot of the conventional wisdom that’s out there (e.g. Happy couples can have enduring disagreements. They just handle them well.) and provides really practical strategies. It’s basically common sense, but sometimes we forget to use our common sense…especially in emotional situations like relationships.

Anyhow, it turns out that the majority of the Marriage Prep course was based on this book. For two days, we worked together as couples, or in small groups, to complete many of the exercises in the book and share with the group. It was a lot of fun and, I think, a hugely important step on the path to marriage. Even The Guy liked it.

Are you going to do any sort of marriage preparation? Through your church? Independently?

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