I have been thinking about this post for WEEKS. Maybe even months. Since we last spoke there has been a slew of news. Every moment I sat down to write or send an update something happened that took me away from it.
Four years ago, doctors told us her days were numbered because of an aneurysm in her stomach. And with that warning, we treated every day as if it were her last; extra dessert, more kisses and hugs! But the Lord above gave us four years with my grandmother before her took her home.
The last 4 years weren’t particularly easy. With her mobility decreasing and her strength weakening- she was still fighting, I began to think the doctors didn’t know what they were talking about. Almost 2 years ago, grannie took a fall. And then another fall. And with each fall it became more and more difficult to get back up. It was then that the family made the decision to place grannie in an assisted living facility. A place where she would be independent but have the safety net of 24 hour assistance, should she fall or need immediate medical care. Oh boy was grannie upset. But our family decided together that this was the best decision for her and if she opened up to it, she would have a great time.
In the last year, she has fallen several times breaking a hip and even cracking her head to need staples! But every time, she pulled through.
My grandmother was so strong. With her 87th birthday just weeks away, I never once thought “this is the end”. But I saw her the day after thanksgiving with my fiancé, mother and father. We brought her leftovers and she went to town on them even after saying she wasn’t hungry. She kept telling us she saw my grandfather who has been passed away for over 15 years now and even then it still didn’t sink in.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, grannie got to speak to ALL of her children and grandchildren. And on December 4th, she took her last breath. She woke up at the crack of dawn like she always did. Got dressed, brushed her hair, put on her perfume and lipstick and made her way to breakfast but she wasn’t feeling well. She complained of a stomach ache and said she was going to lay down for a little while. She laid down and never woke up.
To sit here and cry over the loss of my grandmother is selfish. Her life was long and full of love. I am so grateful for the time that I have had with her- 31 years of love! And there were times where she forgot what day of the week it was or whether or not she had lunch but she always knew my name and asked how my dog was, how my fiancé was, how my new job was. She always put others and their needs before her own.
Her heart was physically unhealthy but spiritually, it was pure and filled with love. It saddens me she didn’t live to see Brent and I walk down the aisle but I am comforted by knowing she gave us her blessing and loved him as if he were her own grandson.
This year has been filled with challenges but one thing is certain, I feel closer to my family more than ever before. Brent is not my husband yet but he FEELS like my husband and he has been my ROCK through all of this. We have come together and are connecting on deeper levels.
Just goes to show you that, grandma is bringing us all together in the name of love, even after her passing.
Rest in Peace, Grannie!
My Bridal Shower was two weeks ago.
The fact that I am a bride has not fully sunk in.
My wedding is in 3 months! THREE!
Building up to the Shower, my lovely mother and amazing bridesmaids made the executive decision that I wear a “white” dress to my shower. As a plus sized woman, white is probably the one color that I would NEVER EVER wear (wedding day doesn’t count). And as the all showed me their gorgeous black and lace dresses, I was trying on sheets, tents, and even potato sacks. Of course, I’m exaggerating. But after weeks of online ordering and returning, I finally found a dress that was comfortable, stylish and not at all like a potato sack.
Thank you Modcloth.com. The dress was named White Haute Cocoa. Very appropriate.
The one thing I got to decide for my shower was WHERE. We had all toyed around with different ideas but jeez NYC is an expensive place.
Speaking with recently wed Sarah, she inspired me with her lovely dim sum bridal shower to have just that. A Dim Sum Bridal Shower. I love dim sum and I love something different.
I gave the tip to my planners and they went with it. My job was to wear something white and arrive.
On November 9th, Brent escorted me to the bustling area of Chinatown where I entered Jing Fong for several hours of delicious dishes. I wish I had pictures of the food but being the honorary guest made me feel obligated to bounce from table to table to speak to my dear friends. Some highlights: Bacon wrapped shrimp, dumplings, steamed broccoli, shrimp fried rice, sweet and sour pork, walnut shrimp, beef with broccoli and roasted chicken. (took home leftovers for days!)
We played a few bridal shower games. Toilet paper bride. Whats in your purse. Etc.
And my cake. Oh Me, Oh My. I requested a Dominican Cake and boy did they deliver. A huge cake with strawberry filling and meringue icing. Dominican cake can be pretty hit or miss but this was awesome. The cake was dense but not dry or overly moist. The frosting was sweet but over powering at all. Score to the girls for choosing a bakery in my hood that sells the cake by the slice ($1.25 for a slab!!!)
We had some extra time to kill so I opened presents! Yay Presents! I got 2 ninja blenders (!!!!!!!) 2 cake plates, an awesome wine basket for the first year of marriage, and a beautiful spa basket (from my bridesmaids!) I also received monetary contributions to my honeymoon registry. ^.^
This really happened.
I hear there is a bachelorette party in the works.
Pray for me.
Such an appropriate title.
First and foremost, it’s been way too long. My sincerest apologies. In the past few
weeks months a lot has changed. My steady city job, the one I had held for nearly ten years is no more. Fear not, the decision to move on was mine- albeit hard, but now as a woman in my 30’s about to be someone’s wife, I felt a change was in order.
And boy did everything change.
I battled for weeks with the idea of leaving the office where I felt like I grew up; up until the very last day. With the lovely gifts and cards my now-former colleagues left me with great memories which I will surely cherish. And now as I have been reporting to my new assignment in a different part of the city, in an office that is completely different from everything I have ever known, I finally feel- for lack of a better term- grown up.
What a year 2014 has been. Got engaged. Got a new apartment. And got a new job. Sure, the wedding venue fiasco was a disaster- but all in all, I have really truly been blessed.
While the learning curve at my new position is steep, I am trying to get back into a blogging rotation. I miss my platform. I miss uploading photos of my latest dishes- we are still eating well in the MR/BR household.
Before I end this post, I wanted to give you all a sneak peak into our engagement shoot on the most gorgeous September day in Central Park.
The shoot was a nice taste of what the wedding day will be like.
Gah, I’m getting married in 4 months!
Over 4th of July weekend, Brent was offered a new job. So many changes happening so fast. We were so ecstatic! In light of this new and much more demanding job, Brent thought it would be best to take a few days off together before he started to spend some quality time together. A month shy of our two year anniversary, he made reservations for lunch and told me to dress up.
Playing hooky AND getting to dress up?
We summoned our personal driver (jk, we used UBER) and he told the driver to deliver us to The Palm Court at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. My face flushed and my tummy was filled with butterflies. When Brent wants to impress me, he doesn’t hold back.
We arrived to the nearly empty but very beautiful Palm Court midday on a Friday. He, dressed in his best suit, and me, dressed in the dress I wore to my college graduation (it fits!!!).
Diets be damned today as we ordered glasses of champagne. To Brent’s new career, and to our 2nd year together. Our last anniversary as unmarried folk.
Our server, named Ruggero (also the name of our wedding coordinator), was impressive. His service was impeccable and his demeanor was professional and friendly.
For starters, I ordered the strachietella mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes and crisp romaine lettuce drizzled with a thick balsamic glaze. He ordered the calamari. One of his favorites.
That appetizer was amazing. I craved burrata for days and possibly weeks after!
The halibut was good but I was still thinking about the strachietella. Lol.
We ended the meal with a strong and foamy cappuccino and some dessert. I ordered the chocolate tart that was too rich to finish and Brent ordered the mille crepe which was outstanding and quite perfect for such a large lunch.
The lunch lasted 2.5 hours. We rolled out of lunch, satisfied and sleepy.
A beautiful lunch!
A once in a lifetime experience.
A lunch that cost more than dinner at my favorite steak house.
Going to play lotto so I can one day eat strachietella every day at the Palm Court.
Next on our list. Afternoon Tea Service at the Palm Court!
Hey party people.
Looks like we last spoke almost 2 months ago. Yikes.
Change is good. Between Brent starting a new job, wedding planning, and moving- finding ME time is difficult. We have been having a great summer though. Barbecues. Parties. Baby Showers. Weddings. It feels like we are officially adults.
Just the other day, I said yes to the dress. As I stood in front of the mirror on the pedestal at RK Bridal with my bridal party giving enthusiastic applause, I realized this was happening. It’s not just a ring on my finger or a day dream from when I was kid. I am literally getting married. Even at 30 years old, I still don’t feel old enough for this rite of passage. Being someone’s wife. Having a husband. I am officially a grown up.
I know this probably doesn’t make much sense but it’s a beautiful realization that I feel blessed to experience.
This summer has also allowed me to reconnect with friends. My old roommate, Diana, is really killing it in her culinary career. She’s climbed the ladder and is now a sous chef at a celebrity chef restaurant. Considering how hard this girl works, this promotion is so well-deserved! Can’t wait to see her own her own restaurant!
One of our favorite past times is eating Filipino food. Don’t know what it is or how it started but every time we go out, we go out for Filipino food.
On this occasion, we went to East Village’s Maharlika. Makarlika has been on our list for more than a year. And when we FINALLY got there, there were no holds barred. I had purposefully eaten a bowl of lettuce for the day just so I could enjoy every single morsel.
Spoiler Alert: Maharlika is AMAZING. And we cannot wait to go back for Fried Adobo Chicken and Ube Waffles.
When we sat down for dinner on a Wednesday evening, we were presented with a bowl of chicken skin chips. These were awesome dipped in a chili sauce. Much like the bread basket that you get at your favorite Italian restaurant, these chicken skins were addicting. Not too greasy and super crunchy!
The next item we ordered is a MUST at every Filipino restaurant we go to. Sizzling Sisig. A delicious cast iron skillet of crispy pork skin, pig ear, pig snout and some meat from the head. Not for everyone, for sure. But once it arrives sizzling in the pan, a raw egg is added to it and quickly mixed for a creamy texture.
We enjoyed it with a side of garlic fried white. Another must on Filipino food adventures- sadly, not all the places we have been to have had this dish. We were really happy with it.
We snacked on a grilled octopus that was the perfect texture. While it was delicious, among the other dishes was a kind of forgettable.
Lechon Kawali is closest to my Puerto Rican roots and is a definite favorite for me. A fried pork shoulder that has crispy crunchy skin with succulent meat underneath. Amazing when paired with a chili sauce and some garlic rice.
The prawns over vermicelli were a first for me. The prawns were nice and meaty but the vermicelli were a little salty. Pretty much cooked in soy sauce. Good but not stellar.
The thing I can’t stop thinking about is the Filipino pork sausage. I can still recall the sweetness from the sausage. It was unlike anything I have ever tried. They have an entrée featuring this sausage and you better believe it will be mine!
Just for fun, we ordered a vegetable. It’s all about balance, right? We opted for the grilled baby bok choy. I think we each ate 2 hearts. We were so full. They had a delicious char to them and a nice crunch.
We considered getting dessert but were too full to continue. The skies opened up and a downpour came out of nowhere and we found ourselves seeking shelter in a nearby pub digesting over two beers.
I loved hanging out with Diana and I loved our feast at Maharlika. Can’t wait to go back for that chicken and waffle dish!!!
I remember on New Year’s Eve sitting with my now Fiance and my parents talking about the fresh start the New Year brings. We didn’t have any resolutions so to speak but we did have goals. Brent and I both agreed that we wanted to get the ball rolling on making that whole marriage thing more than just talk. The news elated my parents. And it elated me too. All my life I dreamed of the moment I realized I was going to marry someone. I knew it was Brent from the moment we started dating but saying it out loud was a powerful affirmation.
As soon as the new year began I started doing some research. I wanted to elope. He wanted an actual wedding. With talks of Vegas or Destination Weddings in the Caribbean, I started to go in every direction with my search. One day I searched destination weddings. The next Bed and Breakfast weddings in Vermont and Connecticut. My groom to be suggested we look at some New York weddings too. With a tiny budget in mind, I did some looking around. I crunched numbers after getting quotes from highly rated venues.
The one thing I wanted was a stress free wedding. When I found ReBar, I fell in love. The exposed brick, wrought iron fences, eclectic tastes and tons of local art and upcycled décor sold me. I found tons of GORGEOUS wedding photos from reputable photographers and when they replied to my email asking me to come in and see the space, I knew the way I knew when I fell in love with Brent.
I was going to be married here!
The food was incredible. The vibe was so relaxed. Everything about it was so different. And after tasting the food, seeing the space and even meeting the staff, we decided this was the place. We returned two weeks later to sign our contract securing our date for February 2015 and left a 50% deposit.
Brent and I proceeded to put our monies aside so that when 2015 comes, we could put the final balance down in cash. We were celebrating our fantastic achievement. Our wedding venue was throwing it all in. Open Bar, DJ, Floral arrangements, Appetizers, buffet dinner and even cupcakes. Essentially, all we had to do was show up! We told few people about it until two weeks ago when we were officially engaged.
We told everyone! ReBar! We are getting married at ReBar!
We even set up a few friends with meetings with the event coordinator to have their own ReBar wedding!
Last Friday, on May 9th, I was out celebrating my engagement with two of my closest friends. I received a text from another friend who knew I was getting Married at ReBar.
“Dude, have you heard from ReBar recently? Big article in Gothamist and it’s not good news…”
What happened next sent everything into disarray.
I thought ReBar got a bad review or something… but this was far far worse.
I immediately called Brent. Then my mother. And the story was still fresh so we all thought ReBar just went bankrupt. I tried to shake it off. But the idea of starting over with my wedding planning was nauseating. The thought of losing the 50% deposit I had just given them 2 months ago made me sick.
I tried to be optimistic and after so many phone calls with my photographer and a few recently married friends, I found out more bad news.
And aside from the shit storm of so many couples giving ReBar THOUSANDS of dollars in cash for weddings happening this month, all the way through 2016, there are some really hardworking people- former rebar employees- who are now jobless. Employees who love their clients so much have been working tirelessly to help all of us displaced by reBar to find new places to get married! h
The community of local businesses have been amazing. The support from other couples screwed over by Jason Stevens has been a tremendous help.
I am spending the first few weeks of my engagement, panicking over finding a venue we can afford now that our already small budget has been slashed. I considered changing the date but with my photographer already paid for and his business being in the wedding industry, there is a good chance I can lose him- and he’s been amazing during this tough time!
If anyone here is reading this and looking to get married, please take away from this experience knowing the importance of INSURANCE! A very small number of brides in this big disaster purchased wedding insurance and will get back every cent they ever gave this douche-nozzle.
I am spending a lot of time researching and visiting venues and praying by some miracle I get the deposit back.
Thank you all so much for reading and for your support. I hope to have good news soon! And insurance on whatever route Brent and I decide to go!
If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram or are friends with me on Facebook, you might know I had some big news on Friday night.
What started out as girls’ night with my mother and best friend, turned into a night that I will never forget.
Spoiler Alert: I’m engaged.
My mother and Danielle were actually scouting locations for my Bridal Shower on Friday night… because Brent and I set a wedding date at the beginning of the year. We certainly didn’t intend to go out of order that way but when we were “just looking” at potential wedding venues, the first place we saw was absolutely perfect! And when we said we wanted to think about it some more, the site manager handed us a calendar of all their available dates for 2015. Our hearts sank when we realized our top three choices were solidly booked. We decided, based on how fast this chart seemed to fill up, that we would be wise to pick a date right on the spot.
So we did.
I was on cloud nine! We were technically engaged! But since we were just looking, we hadn’t made any other arrangements, like, you know an engagement ring. We are old fashioned at heart, and planned to have a proper engagement- sometime in the near future. As a couple, we decided to just tell our family about the big news plus a few of our closest friends. If anyone knows me personally, they know that keeping secrets is not really my strength. Sure, I can keep a secret about something scandalous you told me I must never repeat…but having to keep this awesome secret drove me NUTS! I was reading Style Me Pretty and other wedding blogs at the office and when I sensed someone nearby, I minimized the screen. I created private wedding boards on Pinterest. And saved a ton of potential dresses on David’s Bridal.
Must. Not. Tell. Secret.
Brent is and has always been the type of guy that just doesn’t lie very well. That’s not a flaw in my eyes but a very admirable trait since he is always honest with me. Sometime around Easter, my boyfriend sprung out of bed and jet out of the apartment in a hurry without many details as to where he was going and why… When I asked where he was going, he replied “to run some errands”. My mother also happened to call me that same morning telling me something along the lines of “I’m going out with a friend today so I won’t be able to go to the gym with you…” Turns out, those two were shopping.
When I knew what those two were up to, I seized every opportunity to gussy up and have my nails done and in the back of my mind I would wonder “Is this it?!?”
Fast forward to Friday, May 2nd. My mother and Danielle were going to check out a possible location for my bridal shower and invited me to come along. Since it had been so long since I had a girls’ night, I wore a summery dress, had my nails done and put some make up on. We all met up for drinks at my favorite bar in Chinatown. The plan was for ONE DRINK. But one downtown tea turned into three. I kept texting Brent to tell him we were getting tipsy. My mother kept telling me to put my phone away. We talked about how Brent and I met. The funny moments in our relationship and even talked about how I think he will propose. (for the record, I desperately wanted an intimate proposal with just the two of us. The 23 year old version of me is somewhere dying to be proposed to at a Yankee game… lol)
Suddenly, my mother suggests we forgo the bridal shower hunt in favor of grabbing a quick bite and heading back home. For the first time EVER I said “fine, whatever you ladies want to do”. We had a quick bite and made our way home.
I live right across the street from my mom. When she was saying goodbye to me, she asked me what I thought Brent was doing. I laughed and said “probably cuddled up with the dog watching a movie”. She laughed and asked me to take a pic and send it to her when I got home and then she gave me the biggest hug ever.
When I walked into my apartment, it was quiet and dimly lit. There was a strong scent of my sugar cookie candle. The absence of sound wasn’t really alarming but as soon as I walked in, I saw Brent seated at our dining room table with Mickey sitting at his feet. There was a bouquet of red roses on the table and a bottle of champagne chilling. The moment I saw him, I knew. And I immediately started sobbing. Like, my puppy just died kind of sobbing. He told me to sit down because he had a very important question to ask me. I had my cell phone ready to snap a picture and without thinking, I just closed the phone and ran up to kiss him.
“Will you marry me?”
Through sobs, I said yes. I sat down across from him. Just crying. He pulled out a small box and gave it to me. I opened the box to reveal a beautiful round solitaire engagement ring.. And, you guessed it, I cried some more as I hugged my fiancé.
Despite having a wedding date before getting engaged, it didn’t feel real. Hearing him ask me and having him present me with this ring, I actually FEEL engaged now. I am so in awe of how much that question moved me and so excited to start my journey of wedding planning and all that wonderful stuff.
It was just the two of us. And the dog. It was everything I hoped it would be and more!
Just as I was starting to get into a groove with exercising and eating healthy, I started to feel really tired. Like, BEAT tired. I noticed several people at the office were coming down with something and 5-7 people out sick at a time. I doubled up on my vitamins and water intake because it was a solid 16 months since I was last sick with anything other than a runny nose.
That tiredness was followed by a sore throat. A sore throat that wanted nothing but bread-like things to feel better. Does that make sense? It wasn’t the need for bread, but the need for texture. I hopped into the local bakery near the office for a post work dessert date with my love. He had just started his new job and we were celebrating his first week of work. I ordered a slab of carrot cake. This is not like me, especially since I have been so committed to not cheating.
I went home and scraped off all the frosting (WHAT?) and went to town on the cake. The following day I felt a little worse but chalked it up to allergies since I could still taste things. I made a huge loaf of Irish soda bread and took it to work. That soda bread was calling my name all day and night.
I had not one, not two, but THREE slabs of soda bread with a thick layer of butter that evening.
At the office, everyone went wild for the soda bread. I made it with raisins. But as my throat continued to ache, my craving for the dry bread slathered in cold butter grew. And by the end of the day, I had eaten two more slices of bread and had a boozy St. Paddy’s day cupcake in my in my bag for later that evening…. when all hell broke loose.
I will spare you the details but I was completely destroyed when two days later I was being diagnosed with Bronchitis at the ENT’s office. My healthy streak was over and I was taking a hefty dose of antibiotics and steroids.
And if that wasn’t enough, My germy ass got Brent sick during his 2nd week of work. We were both miserable with fevers, achy bodies, dry heaving coughs and sore throats. His boss along with his colleagues begged him to stay home.
We consumed tons of soup.
And while he bounced back quickly, it took me about a week to feel like a human being again.
I am feeling much better now and happy to report that I have not had any irish soda bread or boozy cupcakes since… the pizza I just ate is unrelated.
Sometime around Christmas, my friend Danielle and I planned a night in with a home cooked meal, wine, cheese and Christmas tree decorating. We wanted to start some kind of tradition since we were decorating my tree. What ended up happening was we sang Mariah Carey Christmas songs on Pandora at the top of our lungs, consumed every drop of wine in the apartment and polished off several pieces of cheese along with crackers and salami leaving ZERO room for the dinner I planned to serve us after our “appetizers”.
But a new tradition was born. Our monthly wine and cheese night. While creating our lineup I remembered the cheese slate Brent got me for Christmas the year before. I felt bad having never used it but now that we have a monthly wine and cheese night, the slate is my favorite thing ever.
Recently, Danielle came over with some new cheeses she discovered at Trader Joes. Bacon Cheddar, Smoked Gouda (Hands Down, Brents all-time favorite cheese), Gorgonzola, quince paste, and salami with crackers. I provided a crisp white wine for Brent and Danielle while I sipped a fruity malbec.
I absolutely love our wine and cheese nights. We get really creative with our combinations. That gorgonzola with the quince paste was a surprise winner for us. And have since added a spicy raspberry jam to the fruit spread.
I will admit that at the last wine and cheese party we had, Brent and Danielle got into a spirited game of who could blow out the candle from far away. Despite hot candle wax being blown all over the table, we had a good laugh. And Danielle kicked Brent’s butt every time!
Brent is a good sport.
MOAR CHEESE!!! PLEASE!