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Posted on Apr 9, 2013 in Dear Diary | 9 comments

Bridesday Weekend, Part II


Happy Tuesday to you all. I’m back with another installment of Bridesday Weekend, the weekend in which I used all 3 days to attend three separate bridal events for my dear friends. And also in which my brain (and ring finger) exploded. Poor Sean.

So as you learned yesterday, my Saturday was spent at Aileen’s amazing Mad Hatter bridal shower (she posted her own recap on her blog, btw, which is much, much funnier than mine, so you should check it out). But Friday and Sunday were reserved for Taylor, my soon-to-be sister-in-law (wow, that’s a lot of hyphenation)!

Friday was spent all all sorts of bachelorette activities… of which I will NOT be showing you photos. This is a family-friendly blog, after all. But Sunday was my second bridal shower of the weekend, and while not Mad Hatter-themed, was still absolutely, positively wonderful. Yet again, I fulfilled my roll as unofficial event photographer, so FEAST YOUR EYES!






Mother & daughter šŸ™‚

Present overload!

Present overload!


Taylor, her twin sister, Kate, and their Mom.




Mini pecan pies… SO DELICIOUS.


There were actually like 100 more photos, but I’m sparing your corneas and just showing you a li’l snippet. šŸ™‚ It’s a little hard to believe that my big brother is getting MARRIED in a little over one month. And then there will be one… heheh.

Whew! So that pretty much wraps up my weekend! So much fun, so exhausting. And there’s no rest for the wicked, since this upcoming weekend is going to be JUST AS AWESOME. I haven’t been doing my customary birthday countdown (what is happening to me?!) but my big 2-5 is this Thursday (as in, the day after tomorrow, squeeee!) and I’ve got activities planned up and out the wazoo!! Allow me to ‘splain:

It all starts with my actual birthday, when Sean is allegedly taking me somewhere he will only refer to as “Taco Bell” whenever I ask him where we’re going. Which, I mean, if he DOES end up taking me to Taco Bell for my birthday… actually, I wouldn’t be that upset. I’ve really been wanting to try the new Cool Ranch Doritos taco.

Friday will be legen–wait for it–DAIRY, because my wonderful friend Ai Rei is coming back to visit me. And the “dairy” is NOT, in fact, a typo, because that night we’re meeting Aileen at The Melting Pot. Worlds will collide with melted cheese present and it shall be glorious!

And then Saturday, of course, is my Quarter Quell: my Hunger Games-themed birthday party. You have been warned.

Bridal stuff. Birthday. Friends. Cheese. Hunger Games. Yep, pretty sure this is the best week ever.

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Posted on Apr 8, 2013 in Dear Diary | 6 comments

Bridesday Weekend, Part I


3 days. 3 wedding-related events, 1 exhaaaausted Gretchen.

Even for someone as openly in love with anything that has to do with weddings, admittedly, two bridal showers and a bachelorette was a lot for a single weekend. That said, it was obviously completely worth it! I adore celebrating my friends being in love! I took about 80,000 pictures throughout the weekend, but still need to finishing editing all of them, so for today I’ve got a little glimpse into Aileen’s awesome Mad Hatter Tea Party bridal shower!





There was a headband making station. SO creative and so much fun.



I ended up wearing mine the entire rest of the day (including out to dinner, haha).



There were more photos than this, of course, but I imagine that Aileen’s eventual recap of the event will end up being far more entertaining. Seriously, if you guys aren’t already reading her blog, you need to start. Especially if you enjoy laughing out loud and/or animal-shaped kitchenware.

Hopefully I’ll have more fun photos for you to tomorrow — I also finished editing baby Mia‘s newborn shoot so ready your “Aww” face, cause there’s gonna be a heckuva lot of cute up in here.

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Posted on Jun 11, 2012 in Dear Diary | 9 comments

Weekend Update: Kristin Chenoweth Edition

Good Monday, e’rrybody! How was your weekend? Mine was filled with a lot of lounging, laughing, and Ms. Kristin Chenoweth herself.


She is so utterly fantastic I can’t stand it. Her show was AMAZING. She’s a firecracker, is so hilarious, and I don’t really even need to get started on her voice. Oh, that voice… how does such incredible sound come out of such a little body? (She’s 4’11”!) My dad got the tickets for my mom, my sister, and me as a birthday present back in April (thanks Daddy!!), and it was so, so enjoyable.


Her show was a variety of songs, home-bred Oklahoma stories, and a few sketch comedy acts thrown in. There was an especially hilarious little skit utilizing Lucy T. Slut and the Bad Idea Bears from Avenue Q. As for the songs themselves, she sang a selection of Broadway tunes, popular songs, and a few songs from her various albums. The song list included “Popular” and “For Good” from Wicked (duh), “Bring Him Home” from Les Mis (freaking amazing), “One Less Bell To Answer/A House is Not a Home” (you might recognize it from Glee), “Enough is Enough (is Enough)”, “I Will Always Love You” (the Doll Parton version, natch, which was her encore song), and “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret, which she also sang on Glee. After performing that last one, she went on to say the following:

“I sang that song on a show called Glee. It’s a good show… it’s a better song. (Laughs) That just slipped out.”

And in doing so, she made me fall in love with her even more. Nothing like a star who can poke a little bit of fun. She also had quite a few things to say about the recent cancellation of her show “GCB”, which were kind of hilarious.


The only teeny, tiny, most insignificantly unfortunate note of the whole evening was that apparently it is a known fact (that was unbeknownst by me) that Kristin calls up an audience member to sing “For Good” from Wicked with her. I know. I KNOW. Well, had I known this ahead of time, I too would have jumped out of my chair as soon as possible so as to get the opportunity to sing with Kristin Chenoweth. As it was, however, a girl in the 4th row who DID know this ahead of time beat me far and wide to the punch. By the time Kristin had sang the last note of “Popular” (the song that preceded “For Good”), the girl was already out of her chair, jumping up and down like a maniac. So of course, Kristin picked her right away.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I recognize that it was very sweet, having this 16-year-old girl totally freak out: she was asking her friend to make sure he was taping it, she got a picture on stage with Kristin on her iPhone, and she hugged her like a zillion times. She was super nervous and endearingly off-key (well, in hindsight I can say it was endearing, haha). Yes, yes, yes, adorable. Sigh. I know it’s not very attractive of me, but I just can’t help feeling slightly bitter. I know there was like a 1/500 chance that I would have been chosen anyway, I know that. I just wish I had gotten the *chance* to volunteer, you know? Because holy Moses, getting to sing a duet with her is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I would most definitely have liked to been able to try for. I even know that song (and the necessary harmonies!) like the back of my hand: I sang Idina’s part of the duet for my 11th grade talent show, hahaha.

Ah well, like I said, it was still an utterly wonderful night. Admittedly, the late-night drive home from Baltimore afterward was less wonderful, but still totally worth it. I didn’t actually end up seeing Snow White & The Huntsman the night before, so the concert ended up being my big thing for the weekend. Sunday mostly involved a lot of this:


Also, pie.


Have a great day, friends!

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Posted on Apr 30, 2012 in Dear Diary, Food, Reviews | 11 comments

Hikaru Sushi

Hi-dee-ho there, neighborinos! Happy Monday! Or, as I usually say instead, “It’s Monday.” I hope that everyone had a great, relaxing weekend. Mine was a little more low-key than they have been lately, which was actually pretty wonderful. I spent some time with the fam, Sean got me thoroughly engrossed in an amazing video game (Heavy Rain, I know I’m late to the party), and I got to spend Sunday afternoon with FOUR doggies at the Shirlington Dog Park (Harry, Daxter, their cousin Oreo, AND his friend Casey that my sister is dogsitting!). My boys even ventured into the stream next to the park for the first time. I was very proud.

My weekend kicked off, however, with a new (to me) restaurant and some wonderful company. I met up with my Freshman year roommate, Joanna, and her twin sister Aileen (you might recognize them from my Harry Potter birthday party a couple weeks ago) for dinner at Hikaru Sushi!


Me & Jo


Since you know I am ALWAYS game to test out new sushi places (and size them up against my beloved Koi Koi, hehe), I was really excited when Aileen suggested this place. Hikaru is a cute little place located in Arlington right near the Courthouse AMC Movie Theatre.

IMG_6705.jpg IMG_6710.jpg

I think there was a little bit of a mix-up about who our server was supposed to be at first, but eventually we ordered some sake and all was right in the world, hehe.


We also shared an order of edamame (which was a HUGE plate — great value, IMO!) to start, and Jo and I got seaweed salads as well. Nom.


As for the sushi list itself, I had a really hard time deciding! They definitely had a lot of really interesting specialty rolls. The pricing for their specialty rolls was a little bit higher than Koi Koi, but other than that I thought that their offerings were really comparable.


I ended up going with the Eel Cucumber roll (love me some unagi!) and the Fruity Maki roll, which had mango, apple, and avocado inside (as well as being wrapped in avocado). It was SUPER delicious! The fruity roll was really refreshing, almost like dessert sushi. Now that is something I can CERTAINLY get on board with!


One touch that I really loved about this place is that when they brought out our check, they gave us each a little box of this Asian gum. This was hugely nostalgic for me, because I used to get this gum all the time whenever I would accompany my mom to the Asian grocery store. I would always beg for it when we got to the register, as I did with all the other crap I had thrown into the cart as we went down each ridiculously tiny aisle. Pocky sticks, strawberry koalas, these little candy discs that my sister and I called “pepperonis”, and VitaSoy boxes were my jam. (Hmm, I think I need to take a trip to Great Wall soon…)

Is there any particular food or candy that is particularly nostalgic for you? In addition to my strange (read: awesome!) Asian candy obsessions, I also have a very special place in my heart for Kinder Eggs, which remind of my elementary school days in Warsaw, Poland. I would bike down our cobblestone street to the convenience shop on the corner, spend my allowance on an egg or two, and kept a whole little collection of the toys you find inside.

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Posted on Mar 30, 2012 in Dear Diary | 16 comments

Feelgood Friday: The Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! For those of you who will be playing the Mega Millions Lottery tonight (estimated jackpot of $540 million!), good luck! I’m playing with a pool started by my office, hehe. I mean, who knows? SOMEBODY’s gotta win eventually, right? Also good luck to those of you who are running the Cherry Blossom Race on Sunday! As you know, I dropped down from the 10 Miler to the 5K, so if you see me chugging along at some point, be sure to come say hi!

Though I have a feeling the race course will be unfortunately blossom-less this year.

I’m actually in a pretty good mood this morning, which is rather novel for this week. Hopefully it hasn’t shown TOO much here, but I’ve been doldrum-dwelling for the better part of this past week. I guess that with all the mental power I’ve been devoting to my career path, I was feeling a little burdened at the end of the day. So I figured that today I should capitalize on this feel-goodery and take a departure from all the big, life-changing decisions I’ve been contemplating and celebrate the little things that have me in such a stellar mood instead!

I took some of your advice from yesterday’s post and whipped up a large batch of awesomeness last night. I made a light pasta salad out of whole wheat angel hair with red peppers, onion, green onion, celery, and just a wee bit o’ bacon. I tossed it all together in a large bowl, then portioned some out and added balsamic vinaigrette to it separately. It was delicious, packed in a bunch of veggies, and was very satisfying. And now, I have a huge bowl of it in the fridge, where it should definitely keep for a little while, and for variety I can simply add whatever dressing or additional toppings to it that I want! I’m thinking I can try peanut sauce for an Asian twist, shake in a little parmesan cheese, or even just do a simple toss with oil and vinegar. I’m excited about the possibilities!

Daxter has been putting the “terror” in “terrier” lately by reigniting his chewing phase. I’ve lost a sports bra, pair of flip flops, and a camera tripod to the little monster so far, and he utterly destroyed Erin’s copy of “A Game of Thrones” (everybody’s a critic). Hopefully he is coming out of this phase though (Please… please let it be over…) with the help of chewable toys and treats that he’s actually ALLOWED to destroy. I submitted a picture of him for a contest by Embrace Pet Insurance (they’re the BEST if you’re thinking about getting pet insurance — and you really should!) and won a little package of stuff including an edible card! Hopefully it will help stave off the little mongrel from attacking any more of my footwear. He’s lucky he’s so cute.

I’ve been getting in some supplies for the EPIC AMAZINGNESS that will be my 24th birthday party. And yes, the rumors are true: It is going to be Harry Potter themed. (NO JUDGING!) I’m trying very hard not to go too-too overboard with the planning, but let’s just say that there most DEFINITELY be some adult Butterbeers served… and if people are really lucky, they might just get their hands on a vial of Felix Felicis as well.

What’s a little thing that’s making you happy today?

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