a well traveled cardigan.

Yes. I am rocking baby's breath. It feels so awesomely 1990's.

Last summer, I picked out this very, very green Anthropologie cardigan for my trip to Ireland...where, as I've said many times, I met my husband-to-be and wore it on one of our first dates. A few months ago my friends, who are also my wedding photographers, borrowed the cardi and my little globe collection for a stylized library themed wedding shoot.

When I made my daily stop by Style Me Pretty yesterday, I started screaming, ""That's my CARDIGAN! ON STYLE ME PRETTY! THAT'S MY CARDIGAN!! EEK!" Then I realized how silly + self-absorbed I sounded, and changed my shouts to, "Those are my FRIENDS! On Style Me Pretty!! Those are my wedding photographers!!!"

Sure enough, there was Jeff and Jess's little creative baby, a geek-chic library wedding, on the biggest wedding blog known to brides! My self-absorbed cardigan squealing aside, I am beyond jazzed for them. As friends and now as my wedding photographers, I cannot stop glowing with happiness over their creative successes--they're the most inspired, kind, creative couple you could ever meet. And I know this creative baby was an overhaul--counting the number of hours Jess put into folding little paper airplanes, collecting funky books + hunting down the perfect chairs would leave me dizzy.

After seeing their images posted to Style Me Pretty, I immediately changed into my green cardi in honor of their success and danced a little happy dance. You must go have a peek--it's beyond inspired and such a welcome bold depart from the usual pastel wedding look. (Ahem. My wedding. Pastel overload. Ahem.)


say bonjour to the new office.

Morning, girls! Thanks for all your feedback on the  marital name change...after reading the comments, I hope I didn't leave anyone feeling miffed because you kept your name, or plan to do so! I believe a girl can do whatever she chooses with her last name when she weds! Perhaps I'll write up a little something to explain my thought process and emotions on the subject, but for now...

On to more visually stimulating things! Remember this sad, sad mess of an office?

Oh it's so sad. I'm cringing even more at the root beer bottle and wine glass--I promise I'm not a frat boy. But no fear! Because, it's officially become this happy, happy office.

As my before picture illustrates, the walls were a drab beige. And not even a well-kept beige...there were patch marks and old nails dotting the entire wall. Trickily enough, I'm not allowed to paint the walls...so I knew I'd have to come up with something sneaky + punchy if I really wanted to jazz this space up.

So, I took my little tush down to the hardware store, where I wound up with beige contact paper, a small test pot of pink paint and electrical tape. I signed nothing that said I couldn't put contact paper on my walls...and then paint it. It was a madly inspired moment. After a 24 hour test, I could tell that the contact paper wouldn't ruin the walls, and the paint wouldn't soak through. So, up it all went! One roll and my small test pot of paint was sufficient for this little office backsplash. The black electrical tape framed the space...and covered up the small border that I didn't paint lest I it wind up on the wall. It was perfect.

I'm crushing hardcore on my desktop--it reflects exactly who I am, and is pretty gosh durn functional! This little gold-swan-turned-pencil-cup was peering out at me from a pile of antiques while I shopped in Stillwater, MN this weekend...and we were meant to be together. Forever. Also, I laid down some patterned paper and covered it with clear contact paper...I'm always leaving craft messes, coffee rings and so forth...and protecting my desktop is probably a wise choice.

The wallspace behind the desk now has a ton of DIY pieces--the silhouettes, the to do whiteboard, the framed "Bonjour" and so forth. I just couldn't find anything in the stores that I loved...so I did it my own durn self. The chair was another DIY moment. It originated from my gal pal Jess, and eagerly accepted it...how could I not? I loved its silhouette. A little fabric + spray paint does a new chair make! :)

To the left of my desk space, I created a little craft nook covered with a fabric curtain because...let's get real: craft shelves aren't always pretty. Unless you're Martha and can afford to install amazing shelves + matching containers. And elves to keep it all pretty. I'm 100% elf-free...so craft curtain it was.

Just a few antique store shelves down from the golden swan, I spotted four aqua flour, sugar and tea containers. They needed a little scrubbing, but I knew they'd mesh with my space once the bore some uber-femme labels. Now they hold craft items used most often, the items I like to carry to other spaces for some sprawled out crafting!

High atop a shelf in the antique store, I spied this dusty golden shadow box. It, too, needed some clean up and lovin'...and a little painting. At $45 it was a pricey splurge, but in the store I had faith. Then I did a 180. When I got it in the space...and for first few hours of my project...I thought it might have been an expensive misstep. But, once it found the right nook it worked perfectly...holding tape dispenser, stapler and a few other bits and bobbles.

I suppose I didn't intend to go so French-kitsch, or even as frilly and feminine, when I started this lil' makeover...but oh, I went there. And I'm loving it. It's surprising how inspired I feel sitting in this space. Now that it expresses my taste and what inspires me, sitting here feels less like a chore and more like a treat! :)

Where's your most inspired place to work?


i believe in mondays.

I happened upon the perfect candle for my new desk set-up, deliciously scented and an impeccable mix of gold, black and white. But they were out of  the letter B and W. There were lots of the letter C, though.

"Darn. It's too bad I'm not a C," I thought.

And then it hit me: in 10 months I will be a C. Bethany Contreras. And I just smiled while I typed that.

Those "I'm getting married!" moments have started to happen--and they're at the strangest times. Like while buying a candle. Getting a wedding planning CD mix from my friend Jamie. Or a handpainted wedding parasol from my girl Lizzie Beth. A wedding invitation for "The Future Mr. and Mrs. Contreras".

But, I've struggled with the name change. Romantic as a new last name is, my sis and I are the end of the line for our surname and I'm sentimental about leaving it behind, odd a name as it is. After a long, thoughtful process of considering various name-change options, I'm firm.

I believe in taking his name. Bethany Contreras I shall be. And this little candle is warming me up to the idea. (Pun not intended.)

P.S. I'll be back tomorrow with my office remodel! It's been a fun task and I'm seriously lovin' how it turned out. But, I'm working on fixing up a desk chair and taking a tad longer than I hoped. :)


keepin' it real: weekend project.

I love a blown out photo, vintage collection and fussed over space like every other girl. But let's face it: Real life ain't no Pinterest board, and curating a fabulous space is a little more than just a click away. And lest I ever be accused of editing out who I really am...I like to throw a little scary reality into this blog o' mine from time to time. So, welcome to my dirty little secret: the office. There are so many frightening things about this space + picture. Let's skip right past my turquoise sports bra, makeupless face and unbrushed hair (!!!), and head straight for the big ones:

1. There is little to no decorative effort made in my work area. This is where I write, edit photos and troll for inspiration. Yet, it's seriously under inspiring. Buzzkill.

2. Last night's wine glass + root beer bottle are just chillin' on my desk. Clearly I was drinking away my creative troubles...while that's easily changed by a trip to the kitchen sink, I still feel the need to point out that this happens frequently. And it likely won't change.

3. This space sometimes functions as a vanity. And a craft desk. And a regular desk. A homework space. Hence the unrelated, various items strewn about.

I'm giving myself one hour of Pinterest scheming...and am then determined to tackle this blush-worthy workspace this weekend. Hopefully, I'll be back Monday with photos of a transformed space that will leave me inspired, ready to get down to brass tacks in my creative digs. Wish me luck! :)

Do you have a dirty little secret space in your home? Someplace less than inspired and photoworthy?


how to: make award ribbons.

Alright! You asked for it...and here it is: a little Award Ribbon Tutorial. I'm certain this has been shared before, but I was plum out of luck when I tried searching for instructions this week. These instructions are for a 5 inch award ribbon, but you can play with the size of your paper to make badges of all sizes!

You will need:

Glue gun (not pictured, as it was plugged in and oozing fiery glue)
5 strips of paper, cut to 2 1/2" X 10" (this is variable depending on the size you're after!)
Double sided tape
Bits of cardboard

one : : : Accordion fold. Fold each strip accordion style, with your folds along the short (2 1/2" width) side. I usually place a fold every 3/4", but you can play with different widths. The point is that you keep your folds a consistent width apart!

two: : : Create one large, seamless accordion piece. Connect the five strips with double sided tape, placing the tape on  an "upward fold" and then connecting underneath the a "downward fold". In short, create a nonstop accordion fold using all five of your folded strips.

three: : : Make a circle. Fan out your accordion to create a near-circle. Then, replicate what you did in step two...placing tape on the upward fold, and attaching underneath the downward fold to close your circle. If the circle is a little too tight for your liking, cut and fold an extra piece of paper and add that in.

four: : : Secure your circle. Cut out any size circle from your cardboard. I just traced the nearest round thing...which was about 2". Then, hot glue the cardboard circle to the back of your badge. Turn it over and make sure that all the folds are well attached. If anything is lose, just sneak in and add some more hot glue.

five : : : Go crazy! The front of this bad boy is pretty much fair game. I created circles in word using this font, then just cut and pasted them to the front of the badge. I opted to forego adding a pin to the back, but that could easily be done. You can add ribbon, glitter...you name it. Or just handwrite something if you haven't got the time to get fancy. It's like a second grade art project. Go wild.

Ta-da! Hope you'll use and enjoy. :)


state fair care package.

Hey friends! Sorry to go MIA yesterday. I've had a few ultra exciting, unexpected things happen recently, and my time has slipped away! But! There were requests for a ribbon/badge tutorial, and I'll happily be sharing that tomorrow...be sure to check back in!

Shortly after meeting last August, Gabe and I took a little trip to the Minnesota State Fair, where we frolicked about in search of a gol' durn deep fried Snickers stand for at least an hour. Along the way we made sure to bump into a few other delicacies...like onion rings and hot dogs and cotton candy. Fancy travels aside, it was one of my favorite dates ever. State fairs are charming beyond belief: the lights, the cute 4H barn + loads of ribbons, the food, the stolen kisses atop ferris wheels.

Since Gabe can't be home to make this an annual tradition...I thought it best to send the state fair to him. Unfortunately for his waistline...State Fair Package = Loads of Junk Food. Whoops!

old school bottled root beer. snickers (sadly, not deep fried!). adorable flat taffy + saltwater taffy. mini ice cream cone candies. gummy hot dogs. caramel corn. funyuns (oh to send real onion rings!). cotton candy.

I wrapped those suckers up in state fair reds, whites, blues and golds...pronto. As in: before I could eat anything. Then I cranked out a few 1st Place Ribbons for my dude. You know, if life were a 4-H competition and I were the judge, he would have won:

Best Hugs
Best Kisser (saucy.)
Best Heart
Best Gun Show (boy's got muscles!)
Best Brain
Best Buns (double. saucy.)

I'm 100% certain these will make him blush. And if so? Mission accomplished.

Have you ever visited your state fair? Got a favorite fair food or ride? If it's Pickle on a Stick or the Tomahak ride...you have my respect.


i believe in mondays. (and tickets to the gun show.)

(Yeah, Best Buns. And Best Gun Show.)

Hello, dear friends! It's Monday once again and I can't believe an entire week has spun by. I have so very much on my To Do List this week and am hoping a past week of friendly visits have super charged my creative batteries...leaving my heart full of warmth and my belly full of laughs...inspired enough to get it all done!

This week, I believe...

...in crafting over-the-top care packages for my guy. And in getting to the MN State Fair this year if it kills me. These two beliefs have joined forces. More on this to come.

...in bumming because my Italian Renaissance Art class was cancelled. I may have gotten teary...

...in looking at D$%& You Autocorrect as many times a day as needed to feel jolly.

...in Gnome Birthday Parties. Check out my girl Shannon's. I'm jealous I wasn't present.

...in anticipating the nourishing brain activity which school shall bring, yet dreading the commitments and structure.

...in week-long visits from old friends, and how very "right" it can make you feel once again. Especially when they involve a giggle-inducing candlelight poetry reading for a group of old co-workers. Still chuckling...

...in falling temps! This morning I spent a little time on my balcony without breaking into a manic sweat. Hurrah! 

How's your Monday...and what's on your To Do List? Is it lovely where you are?


what a difference a year makes.

One year ago today, I flew into Shannon, Ireland with this boy. We were jetlagged. We were giddy. We were awkward. We were pen pals who had stolen each other's hearts before meeting, and our week on the Emerald Isle would only confirm it.

I'm not one to buy souvenirs, often I lose them within days of returning, so written words and photos are my keepsakes. But, while in Ireland with that boy I spotted this necklace--"Love from Ireland" it was inscribed. Surely it was meant to be sent to a loved one, but I couldn't resist purchasing it. Love is what I'd found in Ireland...and as I packed my bags, love was the souvenir I was bringing home. It was chancy, and I was unsure of how the next year of life would play out: I had school to attend and he returned to work in Iraq. There was no certainty of what the future would bring. But we dove in--our year of unknown twists and turns...of learning to be apart and yet still together.

The truth is this: We're still unsure. Not of our love, but unsure of where life will take us in exactly a year. He might still be contracted in the middle east. I might still be in school in Wisconsin. We might luck out right away, get a post in Germany or Italy and spend time together exploring the world. But hopes and dreams aside, we will be married--that's all we know. 

And I'm slowly learning to let go of my planning, my incessant need to know...learning to snuggle up next to uncertainty and embrace whatever comes. Because regardless of oceans, careers and education, in one year our biggest dream will already have come true, with two little words:

I do.


the dress that almost wasn't.

I almost didn't buy--heck, I almost didn't leave the fitting room in this dress. My hips felt hippier and my knees felt more exposed than ever. But, my friend Stephanie coerced me out, and then worked with a sales associate to sway my vote.

"Wear it with a belt! Wear it on your honeymoon in Greece!", Stephanie exclaimed. Hmm...wear it in Greece, and a lot before than, I shall!

The strangest thing is this: Even though this dress screams Anthropologie to me, I found this cute little number at a sporting goods store. Of course this means there's absolutely no information about the designer online, however if you're in the midwest you might find this dress at your local Scheels. But, you know a good purchase is in the making when taxidermy deer overlooks you at the register. Also, today shirtless hippie told me it was "very pretty". 

So, wildlife experts and hippies agree: This dress is cute. Uh, yay?

P.S. In regards to the requests to visit my living room: Come anytime! Send me a fav snack list in advance, too. Truly! :) Well, just not this week. While my pal Stephanie is a very friendly gal, I'm sure she doesn't want to share the air mattress. So, hold off til next week. ;)


how to: turn a living room into a guest room.

Casa de la Bethany isn't fancy enough to have a guest bedroom. So in the past, when guests came a-callin' I pumped up the double-high air mattress (definitely recommend the double-high!), rustled up an extra blanket and plopped it all in my living room. And that's fine! No one complained. But, I knew I could do better. I had an upcoming week-long guest, and the time to figure out a better option. So, I went to work at creating a Living Room Sleeping Sanctuary. 

I started by uncovering this wooden crate in my craft closet--it would work beautifully as a makeshift night stand, and a place to stash guest bed linens post-visit---so I slathered it with a few coats of white paint. Then, I swapped out my mismatched sheet + blanket set for this IKEA duvet set, and stole an excess throw pillow from my bed. A few other little touches and it looks worlds better than my old guest set-up!

Here are a few extra tips I learned along the way:

Shed some light: There's nothing worse than trying to turn off the ceiling light and navigate back to your bed in a strange, dark room. Stubbed toes waiting to happen! Pick up a cheap lamp for the nightstand and jazz it up with some leftover burlap, using this Anthro Lamp Shade tutorial.

Keep 'em charged: Make sure your guest has access to an electrical outlet near the nightstand, so she can keep her phone + tech accessories charged up. This can be tricky in older homes (like mine!) where outlets aren't exactly abundant, but a little wise room arrangement goes a long way.

Cater to their snacky side: Some guests will welcome your invitation to dig through the cupboards should they wake up hungry. Many are much too shy to do so! Stash a few little snacks in a basket next to the bed just to be safe. Also, it can be difficult to sleep in a new environment--especially if your guest's schedule is off due to jetlag or driving exhaustion--so stack a few good books or magazines on a shelf near their bed.

Throw in some cheer: Even a small bouquet can really spruce up a bare sleeping space. These blooms cost $4.20, and I threw them in a simple drinking glass. Blamo--instant spruce-up!

Ta-da! Just a few swaps and a little DIY work, and I'm feeling much better about my hostessing capabilities. Sure, it lacks the total comfort of a guest bedroom...but I'm sure my future guests will still snag a some decent sleep and be just a tad more comfortable during their stay.

Do you do anything special to make your guests feel welcome?


i believe in mondays.

(My embarrassingly under-used kitchen countertop.)

Hello, girls! I'm back from another weekend out of town (that's three in a row!), and I cannot believe it's Monday again. Summer is flying, no? School is quickly sneaking up on me, and I just won't have it. I'm throwing my fingers in my ears and screaming "Lalalalalala!" as I pretend it will always be summer. That's a lovely dream. But as for the present, it's time for another I Believe in Mondays!

This week, I believe...

...in making dinner for my houseguest...and therefore cooking for the first time in my new apartment...(Blushing.)

...in naming my bicycle Millieestellefernstelladaphniepenelopeevianapearlaliceessiemyrtle
daisyelodielilyhazelvictoria. All lovely names from you! But, since that's a mouthful, I shall call her Millie for short.

...in a father who changes your oil without being asked. So lucky.

...in cussing when stuck in construction. Good heavens, Minneapolis detours are beastly.

...the joy of a drizzly summer day.

...in unpacking as infrequently as possible. If I've only a week or two between trips, I often just remove the dirty clothes, wash and place back in suitcase. Not-so-glam, but true.

...in never leaving IKEA empty-handed. Ever. 

I've been loving your additions in the comment section to I Believe in Mondays. So, as always, what are you believin' in this Monday?


a cup of cheer.

(Yes. I drank this entire cup. And more.)

When we were in Paris, I became hopelessly addicted to hot chocolate. That French stuff ain't no Swiss Miss! Gabe likens it to chocolate soup, an impeccable ratio of melted chocolate to pure cream...so thick that my spoon practically stood up in it. And yet their women don't get fat. How is that fair?!

Since returning home from our trip I've thought about it daily, but haven't dared replicate it. Nothing could hold a candle to it, so why try? 

But, I have recently become a coffee drinker, an interest that blossomed a little more each morning last week when my best friend or her hubbie made this ta-die-for chocolate coffee--french press style--with fat free vanilla creamer. Upon returning home last Sunday, I ran out and bought my own french press and am now a believer.

Are you a coffee drinker? Starbucks girl? Drip coffee? French press? Do tell. I've so much to learn!

And holy smokes, girls! In a few years, when Gabe and I have babies I shall bequeath you the duty of naming our little bundles. Way to bust out some fabulous names for my bike! I'm taking the weekend to ponder which seems most fitting. But I'll be sure to share next week. :)


brand new wheels.

"Would you like to wait a few weeks, and I can assemble it while I'm in town?"

He knows me too well. I'd just asked my then-boyfriend, now fiancee, if I could invest in an adorable retro bicycle. His response was the kindest way he knew to sidestep one of my biggest flaws: Follow through. I hop on an idea and drill, drill, drill it to the ground. I need to do this! This will vastly improve my life! My life is not complete unless I do 
thiiiiiiis! Right! Now! And within 15 days, I'm off it. Over it. Done.

But, this was different, and I knew it. It was June, I'd just moved closer into downtown...now was the perfect time to break in a bicycle! He obliged, teasing me that within a week I'd be over it, and he could say I-told-you-so.

Yet, I'm here two months later to gloat. Because I'm so utterly in love that
 I've ridden it almost every day. And it helped me lose some weight...which is odd, because I'm usually cycling to Dairy Queen for a chocolate waffle cone. The math doesn't add up, but I'm not complaining!

We booked THE most amazing wedding photographers--Jeff Loves Jessica, I bet you know Jess from her blog--and I know they could find such a fun way to incorporate these wheels into our engagement photos...but, our engagement session won't be until this winter. And something tells me this babe might not work so well in three feet of snow. Could I ship it to California to use for playful photos on our wedding day? Pure ridiculousness? Hmm.

But for now, I've got to tick off the essentials: This beaut needs a name. Obviously I'm feeling the need to go retro in the name department...and incase you're wondering, it's a she.

Any suggestions?


vlogging 2.0: the brunchspiration winner!

I used to waitress at a family diner, often the early 6am weekend shift. My boss told me that I wasn't allowed to talk to him before 11am, when he'd downed two cups of coffee.

I'd advise you to follow the same rule for any of my vlogs. What I'm saying is this: My perkiness can be a little intense, although it did profit me some nice tips in those waitressing days. But, I have a hard time shutting it off...I talk fast, I giggle and I fidget like crazy. And sometimes my voice goes wayupthere...you know, where only the dogs can hear it.

Regardless, here it is. The winner of the Brunchspiration package, plus a full three minutes of me in my glittering, rambling, awkward glory!! Thanks to all who entered...let's do this again soon! :)

*P.S. My email is on ----->>> side. Whoops! 
I dare you to count how many times I say "really" or "super". Really! Really! Super! Super! I'm off to purchase a thesaurus...

*P.P.S. Incase this video doesn't work for you, here's the blog of the lucky girl...is it you? Click to see if you're the winner!

the wedding diaries: elusive dress search.

When I was a wee one, I always imagined the dress search to be the most exciting part of getting married. Luxurious fabrics! Princess silhouettes! Rooms of gowns just for me! I flipped through a fair share of bridal magazines and couldn't wait for my time to come. Oh, silly little Bethany. I've now spent two months searching and I'm done tiptoeing:  

I. Dislike. Dress. Shopping. Of all the wedding planning, the things that could possibly make you want to elope...I rank dress shopping as Enemy Numero Uno.***

This loathing is a two part issue:

Issue 1: There is nothing more panic inducing than a room full of potentially too-small and whacked-sized dresses...just waiting to unflatter you. And even worse, there's usually a brood of women looking at you in all your awkward, ill-fitted glory. Grand.

Issue 2: I'm a specific gal. I need a trumpet shape...something that hugs my curves, lest I look like The Blob (I'm lookin' at you A-line dresses!!). But my biggest problem is finding the curvy shape in a fabric like organza or swiss dot, because I'm after some whimsy! Also, bonus points will be awarded for a dress already bearing a sweatheart neckline.

Last week, I bumped into a beautiful silk mikado Jenny Yoo gown. It was a sample size being cleared out, marked down to $385. It was simple, and beyond elegant. The original price was $1200, but since the designer stopped producing this pricier fabric option, they couldn't have the dress on the floor.

(Nothing flatters like being shot from below. Eek. On left: The dress as purchased. On right: Just the start of the changes I'd make...)

My bod looked bangin' in that thing...and I've never, ever said that before. Although a sweetheart neckline would have to be added, I truly felt rather hot! It was a Dangerous Curves Ahead situation and for seven minutes, I was a confident bride. In those moments, I loved me and my bod...I said yes to the dress...plunked down my $385 and was on my merry way. Dress in hand.

My best friend and her hubby agreed that it was a gorgeous gown and incredible price, a good choice. But as the day slipped by I started to doubt myself. Sure, it was a pretty gown. But was it me?

In a sleepless 3am panic, I emailed a photo of myself in the dress to Gabe. Cause there's nothing like blowing ALL the mystery out of the park! But I was desperate. I needed to know if this was a terrible idea. While Gabe commented on enjoying the curvaceous view, he backed up my fears: The dress wasn't my style. At all. He was right. Emotionally exhausted with dress shopping, I'd committed the cardinal sin: I lunged at one of the few dresses that made me feel foxy...at a price that couldn't be beat...but had completely forgotten my softer style.

My mind has played with various options--overlays or additions that might bring it closer to "me" and further from "accidental ego-boosted purchase". Perhaps we could edge toward to a softer look, like this breezy Ivy and Aster gown...perhaps it could be salvaged rather than resold? I just fear hiring someone to overhaul the thing, only to be out $800-$1000 more...and still not in love with it.

So, it's not the dress. Or at least not yet, and is hanging in my closet...awaiting the determination of its fate.

Am I alone in the accidental dress purchase? Surely others have made a similar misstep, yes? And my biggest fear: could there possibly be a bride who doesn't find "the dress" and just feels kind of "meh" on the big day?

***That was a lot of negativity in one paragraph, and I apologize. But I had to put it out there. 


on forever goodbyes.

(Our sleepy kitten the night he came to us: Christmas Eve.)

There was a day last week when something felt off. It was looming over me. I checked the news to make sure nothing had happened in Iraq, thinking of Gabe--the first thing I always do when that feeling starts creeping in. No news of note. My phone, which rests carefully in the front pocket of my purse, had been quiet all day save a few texts from my best friend asking me to pick up some chocolate cake. Trying to put the feeling behind me, I reminded myself that I was in California and should enjoy it. I checked out the beach. Drove around Santa Cruz. But the feeling stayed.

And then, late in the afternoon my phone rang. It was my dad.

"We're not doing so well," his voice quivering a bit. I could hear my mom and sister in the background. "We're at the vet with Rudy."

"Aww...oh no! What does he have?" I asked sympathetically. For a moment, I was relieved. That's what was wrong. Rudy, our little 10 month old kitten, probably had a respiratory infection or a kitty virus.

"He's pretty sick, B," my dad paused for a moment. "They found a cancerous tumor in his lungs...and he can't breathe on his own. It came on so fast. There really aren't any options...even with expensive treatment he's not going to...we have to let him go."

He trailed off. We stayed on the phone for several minutes, neither of us able to get more than a few words out at a time. My phone grew soggy, tears catching between my face and the screen...I tried to dam the tears as they ran rivers down my cheeks, but there was no catching to be done. There were simply too many.

"Okay," I squeaked, sobbing so hard I could barely speak. "Give him a little kiss and tell him I love him."

Our little Christmas kitten. Gone. Just like that.

I've said before that I'm not good at goodbyes, I'm even worse at forever goodbyes. Although I've felt silly grieving over a kitten while others in the world bury loved ones, I cannot help it. Not a day has passed in which I didn't curl up and cry a little over missing our kitty, my heart aching to think of how long he'd been in pain without being able to tell us. For now I've framed his photo and look at it often...remembering all the giggles and sweetness he brought to our family in only seven months. As family that hadn't welcomed a pet in 15 years, we couldn't have been more in love.

He may have lived a short life, but he certainly left behind the best memories that I'll never forget.


i believe in mondays.

(These are not my stunning legs...rather they belong to a gorgeous girlie whose portraits I shot this weekend!)

Today I'm continuing my I Believe in Mondays series, a weekly creative jumpstart in which I share the silly + serious things I've embraced throughout the past seven days. Ready? Here we go!

This week, I believe....

...in giveaways! Make sure you enter.

...in the use of sparklers after July 4th. They're charming, no matter the month.

...in buying a wedding dress off the sample rack, and waking up at 3am to realize that you might hate it. A lot. Then sending a panicked email + photo of yourself wearing said dress to your fiancee. Whoops.

...in missing your best friend the very moment you drive away from her.

...in the beauty of sleeping in your own bed after a long trip.

...in only drinking water if there's a packet of Crystal Light involved. I'm addicted. Hopelessly, helplessly addicted.

...in appreciating your hometown for the memories, but longing for a new vibe. Perhaps one with less humidity.

...in becoming pathetically obsessed with Mad Men four years after the rest of the world. Love it so much it hurts my brain.

What do you believe in today? Everything? Nothing?


wedding chicks + a formal hello

Oh my, girls. On Monday I awoke to an email from THE Wedding Chicks, my fav huuuge-o wedding blog, asking to post the bridesmaid boxes I shared a few weeks ago. I geeked out hardcore. As you can imagine, it took me a few hours to formulate a response that wasn't burgeoning with an obnoxious amount of smiley faces and exclamation marks. They responded sweetly and quickly, saying it would post on Wednesday. I held my breath...hoping they wouldn't suddenly decide my boxes were lame-o and kick them to the curb.

Wednesday came...and hooray! There my bridesmaid boxes were on Wedding Chicks! (Click here to check it out.) If that wasn't exciting enough, the kind comments on their post, the words left on my blog + the emails sent directly to me from those who'd seen the project were overwhelming. It's been a super amazing few days. And since a fair number of new ladies popped over after reading the post at The Wedding Chicks, I thought it only polite to introduce myself + my wedding details!

Sooo...hello there, I'm Bethany, and:

I'm a 25 year old Wisconsinite, a late-blooming college student, studying Art History. But I'm not " just a student", as I've recently committed myself to saying. (More here.)

Last August, I went on a trip to Ireland with a boy I'd never met. We were introduced at-a-distance by our friends and began as simply pen pals...who grew into flirty pen pals...who grew into two people planning a dream trip together, although we'd never met face to face. (More here.)

We fell in love on that trip to Ireland. This was mildly inconvenient given that he was (and still is) contracted in Iraq, living on base in Baghdad...and ten years older than me. (More here.)

In June, I threw caution to the wind and got engaged to that boy, who loves me more than life. The feeling is mutual. (More here.)

Our official hitchin' date is June 30, 2012, and we're exchanging vows in a very small ceremony on a ranch + vineyard, underneath a gorgeous tree in Annapolis, CA. (More here.)

Gabe will remain overseas until shortly before our wedding. We're determined to force a geographical merge shortly after we say, "I do." In my wildest dreams, he'll be transferred to Europe and we can live in some Italian villa for a few years. Dream on, right? :)

There's a lot more, but if you're looking for the bullet-pointed version of the last few months of my life...there you go! I'm so happy to have you around, and thank you oodles for stopping by. I do hope you will drop a comment or email so I can get to know you, too!

If you're looking to blog-hop: I'm guest posting over at Shannanigans today while Shannon is on vacay. She's got the whole marriage thing in the bag...and has already moved on to starting a family. I never cease to be amazed + jollied at her anecdotes, and am flattered to flap my gums over there! Hop on over.


giveaway for new and old friends: if we could brunch.

It's been an exceptionally exciting summer around here at Rinse. Repeat. And whether we're blogosphere buds or you just read along quietly from your desk at work...it doesn't matter. In a perfect world, I'd invite you over for Saturday brunch to thank you for following along on this little journey. A fancy Saturday brunch, complete with handwritten invitations and a few decorations...I'd cross my heart that we wouldn't talk about my wedding, but I'll be honest: I'd weasel it in there somewhere. Sorry 'bout that. 

Unfortunately, distance and finances keep us from such fantastic Saturday brunchery. But! Never fear. I've something even better in mind.

Today, I'm giving away a box of brunchspiration. A little invitation, decoration and wardrobe inspiration. A few things that make me want to get crafty and social with my best gal pals...and I'm hoping the winner of this box will feel the same! Here's what is bundled up in this box:

to invite: There's nothing quite like these Rifle Paper Company cards, set of 8, to invite your best gals over for a feast. Rifle's wedding invitations have been on my Pinterest board for weeks. I'm so in love with their style!

to decorate: This ain't just a wedding planning book, girls. Handmade Weddings is a stellar resource for party decor...from inspired centerpieces that would work for the teeniest dinner party to sweet favors one could whip up for a birthday party, this book has lots of creative mileage in it!

to wear: I'm that girl. The one who buys a new accessory for every occasion. And this adorable, breezy scarf from Urban Outfitters is a sweet go-to for a little daytime party. Cheery polka dot perfection!

Are you itching to throw your name in the hat? (Or at least mildly interested?) This giveaway is open to old and new readers alike...and entering is super-duper easy. Here's how:

first entry : : : Be or become a follower of Rinse. Repeat., and drop a comment letting me know that you follow.

bonus entry: : : Leave another comment riddling me this: What is your absolute party must have? (Is it wrong if I say alcohol? Hmm.)

Ready? Get to gettin', girls! Or guys. I'm keeping this all inclusive.

This giveaway is open to the US and beyond! All are warmly welcome to enter through Tuesday, August 9th and I'll announce the winner on Wednesday, August 10th.

the wedding diaries: where we'll tie the knot.

My bestest gal, Becky, checking out the ceremony site.

On Sunday, the best friend and I made the four hour trek from Santa Cruz to Annapolis, California...to finally check out the wedding location. I spent several hundred miles nervously crossing my fingers, hoping it would be all I dreamed of...especially given that we'd already plopped down $1500 to reserve the ultra-hidden spot, sight unseen.

Ultra-hidden is totallythe word. The drive in is beautiful--past miles of Sonoma wineries, an hour of winding dirt roads. Beautiful vistas. Although my best friend was about to be sick from the loopy roads, and I've never white-knuckled a steering wheel quite that badly...we both agreed that this was seriously awesome. Like a secret wedding hideaway. You'd never, ever find it without seriously specific directions + a gate code.

But, it's perfect. The Anvil Vineyard and Ranch has completely delivered. We've opted for a small wedding...likely around forty guests, and our dream was to find a place that offered lodging for every last one of our guests...and we did. This place is a dream come true. The perfect place for a wedding weekend, a retreat for our nearest and dearest.

Enough blathering. Want to see photos? Mmkay.

Our guests can arrive a few days early, and stay in the three adorable homes on the property...

Including an old horse stable, converted into The Carriage House, which sleeps ten and offers a rec room...

And a gorgeous outdoor breakfast nook, just steps from the hot tub...

Gabe and I will exchange vows under this beautiful old tree, overlooking the valley...

(Becky took this photo. I love it.)

And then we shall party! We'll serve food and plenty of desserts in this little courtyard...

And our guests will spill out to sit at tables on the front lawn, to enjoy the view once again... 

(Full disclosure: I stole this photo from Anvil's website, because my camera died onsite. Creative gal FAIL.)

It is not at all the wedding I thought for years I'd have...the 200 -guest social fete, the lace dress, six bridesmaids + church wedding. It's nothing like that. But, it mirrors my life: not at all what I planned. So much smaller in some ways, and yet so much deeper in others. It's been a twisty, windy, sometimes nauseating, exhaustive search...and in reaching this point, I realize it is everything I always needed...and nothing I ever thought I'd have.

It will be endlessly beautiful. Endlessly us.

And that is all that matters.


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