Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gender Reveal

Will you find out the gender of your baby or wait to be surprised the day he / she is born?

That is one question I've been asked that I didn't expect would stir up as many strong opinions and reactions as it has!

I was prepared for the name thing, and have been doing my best to be pretty vague about our name ideas for Baby Torok.  (Although I think most of people already knew what our favorites were, and those I've shared with have thankfully not offered opinions one way or another...)

I was prepared for the "natural vs. drugs" delivery debate. 

And I was even prepared for the very personal question of "are you planning on breastfeeding?"

But I never thought that telling people whether or not we were going to find out the sex of our baby would stir up such controversy!  I (naively) thought people just wanted to know, not because they thought one way was better or worse! 

To be honest, I've always wanted to know beforehand (which I'm sure is not very surprising to most).  I can't help it, I'm a planner...I want the "right" stuff...and I hate surprises!  But I can see the fun and romance in waiting until the baby is born...  In my opinion, you can't go wrong either way, it's just a matter of preference! 

Any guesses on how / when Nate wants to find out?

Anyways, peoples' reactions to our decision have made me so curious:  Do you feel strongly one way or the other?  Or have you encountered the same reactions (or either side) when asked if you will find out the gender?  Do you want to know beforehand or wait until the birth day? 

Don't be shy on posting your thoughts - I've heard just about every argument in the book already :) and we've already made up our minds!

Check back tomorrow to see when we will have our gender reveal - in a few weeks or a few months!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Emily's a College Graduate!

On Saturday, my baby sister, Emily, graduated from college!  FROM COLLEGE! 

(Man, I feel old!)

And I was equally as impressed with her degree in Accounting as I was with her beautifully decorated graduation cap (above)!!  I mean, who else could transform a royal blue cap and gown into her own Lilly Pulitzer-inspired masterpiece?!  Only Emily!

I'm curious, did you decorate your cap when you graduated?  It made it so easy to spot her in the sea of royal blue graduates on her big day!  I think she should frame it next to her diploma as a memento!

P.S. One of Emily's roommate's also hand painted the flowers on a thank you sign that they hung on their house.  These sorority girls are quite creative, don't ya think?!

P.P.S. And a photo of my adorable niece, Emma (wearing her first Lilly dress!) just because she's so cute...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What gives?!

Summer officially starts this weekend (in my book), yet work seems to be busier than ever!  What gives?!

P.S. How cute is that cookie from our Annual Shareholder's Meeting?  They were so pretty I ate 3! :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Magic Mike

I know I just squealed about my excited to see a certain movie, but has anyone else heard about the upcoming flick called Magic Mike

The film is loosely based on Channing Tatum's experiences as an exotic dancer - dear lord where was I and the rest of the female population when this was his profession?!! - and features Tatum, Matthew McConaughy, Alex Petyfer, Matt Bromer, Joe Manganiello and Adam Rodriguez in various states of undress...!

Check out the trailer below and let me know what you think!  Will you be going to see it this summer?!

P.S. Even though the beginning screams bachelorette party and then there's an apparent transition to a love story, I still don't think it's going to be a total chick flick.  I know I won't have any problems asking Nate to go see it with me (ahem, McConaughy)!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Our New House Update #4

I can't believe it's been nearly a month since my last House Update!  Let's just say a lot has happened since then...we're just about finished with the second major milestone of the project: Framing!

We officially started framing on Wednesday 4/25...


 ...and by the time we got home from work on Thursday, the framing crew had finished the entire first floor!  It was amazing! 


We left the next day (Friday) for Kathryn's wedding...but our guys kept working...and when Nate got back to Ocean City on Sunday they were already up to the second floor!

I spent the entire next week in Yardley, PA watching Patrick, so I had to rely on Nate to send me picture updates of the house while I was gone...  Unfortunately, he didn't send one (!!!)

Buuttttttttttttt, this is what the house looked like when I got home to Ocean City the following weekend!!  I was so excited to get home to see it, and I couldn't believe how much got done while I was gone!


View from the 3rd floor...

Then we had some rain...and our framers lost some steam (aka didn't show up a few days...) as they began working on the 3rd floor and roof...  But Nate laid down the law and told those framers to be there, rain or shine!


Last week, the front of the house really began to take shape.  It's starting to look a lot more like the architectural plans, dont ya think?!

Our windows went in on Friday...

5/18/12 well as the first floor stairs (but not the second floor stairs...see below)!

And on Saturday, I got to play foreman in the morning and went with the framers to the lumberyard to buy some extra supplies to start our front decks! 


Of course Nate took over when he got home...that's him in the black t-shirt on top of that crane!  (So brave!)


And him again giving instructions to the head of the framing crew....


As I mentioned, the second floor stairs (that lead up to the top floor) have yet to be installed.  This wasn't a problem at first because we just used ladders.  But since they finished framing the roofs are ceilings, I haven't been able to get up to the third floor (and enjoy the amazing view)!

Yesterday, we really needed to finish laying out our master bedroom...and drop of some more materials.  So, guess who got her first ride up on the big yellow machine?!  ME!  I think this is a testament as to how much I trust my husband...and how much my husband trusts himself! 

Driver Nate!

He is yelling at me to hold on and stop taking pictures...

Made it safely to the 3rd floor

This is how Nate got upstairs...


For me, this has been the most exciting part of building so far as we have literally watched our lot transform from a pile of dirt with some pilings / concrete into the shape of an actual house!  I was really having a hard time visualizing the house (even with the architectural drawings) based off of the foundation only...  And it looked so small!!!  Even though Nate kept assuring me "houses look bigger and bigger as they are built", I didn't believe him until I saw the house all framed up for myself.

Our roof will be going on this week - pushed back from an initial time frame of last week...but such is construction!  And then the exterior - siding, decks, columns, stucco, etc. should be started next week!

Meanwhile, we're busy designing the kitchen (!!!) but having a hard time deciding compromising on the right cabinet!  Wish us luck!


Friday, May 18, 2012

What to Expect When You're Expecting

I've been excited to see this movie since before it was even made I first saw the trailer back in January...  

...and today it finally hits theaters!!!

Ladies / Nate, when are we going to see it?!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Magic Dress

At work, we call the Bailey 44 column dresses sold by Anthropologie every season "magic dresses".  They are super flattering no matter what your shape or size, and they are sooo soft and comfortable you'd think you're wearing a cozy t-shirt and not actually a dress! 

Although it's been recommended to me about 100 times and I've seen style after style on all my pretty coworkers, I only finally hopped on the bandwagon this season.  I ordered this dress:

Cap Sleeve Column Dress - $178

...and wore it for the first time yesterday.  All I can say is WOW!  The dress really does live up to its hype...even with the little baby bump I'm starting to grow!  The diagonal stripes are soooooo slimming! 

While the price tag is definitely more than I'd usually spend on an every day dress (and thank goodness for the 40% employee discount), I'd say this is pretty much the perfect dress for any season.  I wore it like the model above yesterday (ok, i wish!) and probably will all summer, but I envision pairing with some brown boots and a long cardi this fall / winter...

Anyways, they are usually best sellers, so if you're interested I'd recommend heading to your nearest Anthro or ordering online sooner rather than later :)

Are you a fan of Bailey 44?  Or have any recent dress purchases you are raving about?!

P.S. If you're in between two sizes, I'd recommend ordering down!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


So did you think I'd announce news like that last week and leave ya hanging without any details?  :)

Well I'm here to let you know that yes, I will be sharing some of the details of our pregnancy and baby (and all the crafts and party planning that go along with it)...but also want to assure you that I intend for this blog to remain what it is - a DIY craft blog with some wedding / home / baby inspirations, party planning, gift giving ideas and recipes too - and what it is not - my personal life diary with detailed accounts of what I do every day / parenting blog. Let's leave those things for the hard cover book you hide under your mattress / the experts (and especially not first time parents)!!  Sure, I may share a few stories or tips / tricks I learn along the way but if it gets too much...just let me know!  :)  And if I'm under-sharing, it's because I want to respect the privacy of my husband, myself and our life together.

Anyways, for those of you wondering, I am in my 17th week (I am 4 months!) and due October 29, 2012...which happens to be my mother-in-law's birthday!!  So far, the pregnancy has been wonderful - I am feeling great (no morning sickness) and the baby is healthy and growing - I really couldn't ask for much more. (Except maybe to gain a lb or two less...haha) 

I'm sure many of you were not surprised by the announcement - perhaps you picked up on some clues in my recent blog posts or noticed I look a little different (sorry, I have removed the word fat from my vocabulary) in pictures on Facebook.  But aside from our immediate families, we really didn't tell anyone until about 2 weeks ago after our 15 week ultrasound.  Getting through the first trimester was scary, and we really wanted to savor the moment just between the two of us for as long as possible.

How did we find out?

I found out at work, the day before this post (which is the real reason I didn't blog!).  I was very "late" but still testing negative on home pregnancy tests (which was so disheartening) so I went to the doctors for a blood test.  The doctor called a day earlier than expected with my results and I was ecstatic!!!  I wanted to tell Nate in person, so waited ALL day until I got home (well not really home, we were staying at Urban's Bed & Breakfast that night) from work (at 10pm!! I wasn't lying when I said I was busy at work!).  And it was truly an unforgettable night!

How did we tell our parents?

We told our parents at dinner on this night, and they were completely surprised, especially because they thought going out to dinner together was their idea and not because we had some big announcement!  While waiting for our table, the discussion of what they'd want to be called as grandparents came up - this was three weeks before my brother and sister-in-law were due with Emma - and I nearly died.  I was a nervous / anxious mess until we sat down at our table (I even yelled at Nate to "just order the sushi already!")...and then finally Nate just came out and said it!  I pulled it together and we gave them both a letter and a wrapped copy of Father of the Bride, Part II.

(Don't worry, I didn't eat any sushi that night!  I had the chicken teriyaki with grilled veggies.)

How did we tell our siblings?

We were both looking for meaningful and special ways to share the news with our siblings, which proved to be a bit challenging due to the fact that none of them live in the same area.  I decided to send each of my siblings a letter with a copy of FOTB, Part II, just as we did with our parents.  They received them the day after we told our parents. 

Nate couldn't wait for a silly package to arrive at his brother's apartment in he called to tell him on the phone instead! (#boys!)

How did we tell everyone else?

If there is anything I learned with news like this, is that it travels fast!  Sometimes faster than you can even get to the next person.  Or, sometimes it comes out sooner than you had planned (i.e. my sister Ashley bullied it out of me when I dropped her off at the train station two weeks after I found out and before we even told our parents!!) So, while we tried to tell our extended family members and close friends in person / on the phone before it hit the gossip didn't always happen.  But, such is life!  Regardless, the experience of sharing such exciting news with all the important people in our lives has been so very memorable!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Nurse Ashley, MSN

Nurse Ashley caring for Emma at her 1 month appointment

I'm heading out of work shortly to go watch Nurse Ashley graduate with her Masters of Science in Nursing degree and I could not be more proud of my little sister! 

For the past 2 years, Ashley has been working full time in NYC at New York Presbyterian Hospital on a PICU floor...while also attending UPENN full time in Philadelphia to obtain her masters.  Crazy girl took buses and trains, couch surfed at friends' apartments and crashed in Yardley to literally make sure she could be in two places at once.  And she did it!

Ashley - congratulations on your graduation! You seriously amaze me girl! And I speak for the whole family when I say thank you, in advance, for all the prescription you will write for us!


P.S. Since it is graduation season, an interesting article from the WSJ: 10 Thing Your Commencement Speaker Won't Tell You.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Father of the Bride, Part II

If the ending "To be continued" in my last post left you hanging...I didn't leave you in suspense for very long!

The only movie that makes me think of my parents, both Mom and Dad, more than Father of the Bride is Father of the Bride, Part II.  And here's why...

In the winter of 1995-96, while on our annual winter trip to New York City, my Mom and Dad announced at breakfast that they were expecting another baby - we were going to have a fourth sibling...a baby brother!!  And to celebrate the news, they took us to see Father of the Bride, Part II that afternoon!

I was 11 at the time, right smack in the middle of the 5th grade, and utterly ecstatic!  I couldn't wait to get my hands on the little guy!!  I could be his babysitter!  Teach him everything I know!  And I will never, ever forget the excitement I felt that day sitting in the dark movie theater thinking of the possibilities of one day having my own babies, and designing the most amazing nursery, and sharing that incredible experience with my Mom (and Dad). 

And, just as I took cues from the first movie as we planned our wedding last year...I again found myself at the intersection of real life events and the fairytale that is Father of the Bride, Part II.

So, although I can not physically take you all "to the movies" this afternoon, I wanted to keep this tradition alive by sharing this most everlasting memory of my mom with you as Nate and I announce some very exciting news: we're expecting!

I thank all of you readers from the bottom of my heart for all of your love and support, and for allowing me the opportunity to share my memories, stories, crafts and life events with all of you!  We are sooooo excited!!!!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Father of the Bride, Part I

I used to think a wedding was a simple affair. Boy and girl meet, they fall in love, he buys a ring, she buys a dress, they say I do. I was wrong. That's getting married. A wedding is an entirely different proposition. I know. I've just been through one.

There's no mistaking that the entire Rowley family has a thing for the movie, Father of the Bride.  My siblings and I can recite almost every line, my Dad thinks he's the real Steve Martin...  It's the movie that not only stamped our childhood but now, in our adult lives, has taken on a whole new meaning. 

Call me cheesy, but taking cues from the movie only seemed natural and appropriate when planning my own wedding...and I started by giving my parents an anniversary addition copy of the movie when I got engaged.  My dad and I then chose our father-daughter dance song (which was a classic in its own right) from the movie.  I also gave my dad a pair of decorated high tops to wear on the big day.  We did not serve our guests the "chipper chicken".  My dad even had a minor breakdown in the grocery store over hot dog buns and my mom had to bail him out of jail!

Ok that last part I am 100% joking!!  (Sorry, Dad!)

But, some girls want princess carriages and tiaras; I wanted my own version of a fairytale that places as much importance on the joining together of husband and wife as the merging of our two families, and that significant and everlasting father-daughter (and mother-daughter) relationships.  One that truly captures all those crazy nuances of planning a wedding!  And ours most definitely did.  (Although my Dad handled the "giving me away" part a bit better than his alter ego, George Banks!)

Though my chapter in playing the leading lady in Father of the Bride has come to and end, I know it continues and will continue to hold a special meaning for our entire family.  Particularly as my dad is already up at bat again as the Father of the Bride as my sister Ashley plans her wedding...and will have one final turn one day with Emily!  :)

But what's most remarkable (in my opinion) is that this 20+ year old remake of a 1950s movie has transcended generations and still remains very relevant today

And I honestly can't think of a movie that reminds me more of my parents, both Mom and Dad, than Father of the Bride...

Except maybe one. 

(To be continued).

Monday, May 7, 2012

Wedding Gift Ideas

Attending a wedding this spring / summer season and not thrilled about the idea of giving money or another registry item? 

That was me a few months ago when I started my search for a unique gift idea for a couple that is one of my nearest and dearest.  The pressure was one...not only because I was in the wedding, but because they outdid themselves with their wedding gift to us! 

I wanted something personalized and sentimental, which can be tricky since people's tastes are so different.  I also wanted something of lasting value; it is their wedding gift, of course!

We went back and forth with idea after idea, but ultimately this is what we came up with!  Would love to know what you think...or if you've given or received a great wedding / engagement gift lately!

1. Wine Box. Not just any wine box, a gorgeous, personalized wine box from Wine for a Wedding with wine to toast their 1 year, 5 year and 10 year anniversaries!

First, you select the style box you want from a variety of creative designs.  Then you personalize the front with the anniversaries you want to celebrate and add an engraved toast on the inside of each lid!  You can even select one of their wine packages that are assembled to age for future anniversaries!

I think this will be my new go-to gift idea for my friends' weddings!

2. Engraved Door Knocker. A friend of mine had told me one of the best gifts she received (not on her registry) was an engraved door knocker with her new last name.  Since the couple we were buying for had recently purchased their first home, we thought this would be a cute idea.  Plus, I know firsthand the thrill of seeing your new last name on wedding presents - so exciting!   This Baldwin door knocker is from Things Remembered and comes in polished brass and satin nickel.

3. Personalized Door Mat. One of my favorite wedding presents was this personalized door mat from Williams Sonoma.  It was on my registry, and I was crossing my fingers someone would get it for us!  It is both gorgeous and sturdy - we have had ours out on our front porch for the past year and it still looks brand new - and went perfectly with the new house / new last name theme!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Happy Friday!

Lake Afton
Yardley, PA

Happy Friday! How was your week?

I've been in Yardley, PA since Sunday "watching" my little brother Patrick while my Dad was on a fishing trip with some friends.  He got back late last night, just in time to get ready for Ashley and John's big engagement party tomorrow!  I am so excited to celebrate these two lovebirds, see our extended family and friends, and of course my baby niece, Emma! 

Although I've had so much fun getting some quality big sister / little brother time in this week - we've gone for runs, bike rides, out to dinner, out for frozen yogurt and I've driven him to school every day (lucky kid!) - I'm pretty anxious to get home on Sunday and see all the progress on the new house / hang out with my husband!  Oh, and sleep in our king sized bed...oh how I've missed thee!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  And please say an extra prayer to the weather Gods for Saturday! :)  xoxo

Can't believe it was 5 years ago (tomorrow) that I graduated from here!

What I sent Emma for Easter

My favorite headbands and hair ties

P.S. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Best Friends DIY Wedding!

I still can't get over how amazing Luis and Kathryn's wedding was! 

(I also can't believe I'm still recovering!  Weddings have such a wonderful way of knocking you on your ass and reminding you can't hang like you used to, don't ya think?!)  :)

The church and reception venue were both pitch perfect.  That dress - breathtaking!  And the couple?  Absolutely, positively the happiest I have ever seen them!

But guess what else really caught my eye?  All those little DIY details!  I was sooo impressed with both Kathryn's inspiration and execution that I just had to share with all of you!  I of course was along for the ride in the brainstorming process, but seeing as we live a couple hundred miles apart, it wasn't until her wedding day that I got to see her vision become a reality!  And all I can really say is, WOW!

Wedding Sign
I can not think of a more appropriate wedding venue than Kathryn's to have such a beautiful, rustic wedding sign.

Pinned Image
I would have loved to see Kathryn in action with a hammer and nails!!

Place Cards / Seating Chart
Chalkboard paint at its finest!  Key requirement: nice handwriting!

Pinned Image

Can you believe one of our college friends found a pair of french doors in the trash on her way home from work?!  Or that she was thoughtful enough to trash pick in high heels? 

This definitely was one of the highlights of the reception because everyone HAD to look at it in order to find their seat for dinner! I think I'd save this forever...

Card Box
I love the idea of alternative card boxes.  How clever to use an old fashioned suitcase!

Pinned Image

What a lovely little sign in table!

Chalkboard Details
Kathryn had so much fun with chalkboard paint, she painted the glass of two picture frames to display the dinner menu and signature cocktails. (And her table numbers, below)

Mmm I could go for a Luis right now!

Floral Arrangements
How simple yet gorgeous are those twine wrapped vases with white flowers...

Pinned Image

Kathryn's tablescapes were stunning!!  And I was lucky enough to snag myself one of the small twine wrapped vases (sans peonies or hyndrangeas, unfortunately!  who just takes home the flowers?).  Perhaps someone will bring me home fresh flowers soon...or perhaps we could fill it with sand and a votive to put out on our front deck?

Favors / Drinks
I love that mason jars are coming back in a huge way.  Who even uses them for canning / jarring anymore?!

Pinned Image

Kathryn invited a bunch of girlfriends over a few weeks before the wedding to help put together these adorable mason jar water glasses / favors!

Personal Flowers / Bouquet
All white peony bouquet.  Gorgeous.

Pinned Image

Here comes the bride!

This DIY bride gets an A+ in my book!!