From the desk of: Veronica

In honor of the partners behind Sean Purcell Photography, Sean and Amanda, moving across the country from their respective states to the state of Virginia, I found this article to be very timely.

This TIME article offers a test to see which state fits your personality and some interesting facts about the prevailing personality traits of the majority of the citizens of many states.

Click here to read the article. First, scroll down to where it says “Take the Test.”

Now read your results and the rest of the article.

Some of my favorite facts:

  • The study spanned 13 years and included 1.6 million survey respondents
  • The most ebullient state – Wisconsin
  • Most agreeable state – Utah
  • Least agreeable state – Washington, D.C.
  • Most conscientious state – South Carolina
  • Most neurotic state – West Virginia
  • Alaska and Hawaii were excluded because not enough people would respond to the survey. Heh.

So what were the results? Did you get the state in which you currently live? If you got a different state, is it a place you’d like to live? And what about your state – do you think the perceived traits fit you?

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), and on TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest. Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.


More Modern Wedding Trends

From the desk of: Veronica

Have you ever noticed that people always urge you to “do what you want” for your wedding because “it’s your day!” yet there are so many elements of the ceremony and reception that remain because they are almost sacred? Walking down the aisle, cutting the cake, having a first dance – most weddings you attend will have some variations of these elements, right?

However, there are a few “sacred” elements of weddings that might be on the way out. A few months ago I talked about bridesmaid attire, headgear, footwear, giving away the bride, and ceremony seating. I have a few more for you to ponder:

1. Bouquet & Garter Toss

Only two of the last ten weddings I’ve attended have included this tradition. My husband and I had no strong opinions either way about it, so when the DJ asked if we wanted to do it, we just said “meh” and did it, because why not. However, some people find it a bit too risqué or cheesy or pointless, and they might have a point, of course.

I mean, there was the time I caught the bouquet and the garter was caught by the ELEVEN YEAR OLD younger brother of one of my high school friends and they forced me to sit in a chair and have him put it on my leg. Ahem.

2. Ringbearer Holding the Rings

Traditionally the ringbearer carries the bride and groom’s rings on a dainty little pillow and supplies them when needed. Adorable? Yes. Memorable for the young boy in question? Yes. Gut-wrenchingly stressful for the bride and groom? Probably.

I mean, it’s not like I didn’t trust my adorable nephew, but he was six and would be holding thousands of dollars attached by two delicate ribbons. The potential for the ribbons to fail or him to get distracted was too much for me to handle.

I bought fake rings at Claire’s and gave the real rings to the maid of honor and best man. Easy peasy.

3. Reception Seating Plan

Another recent change to pick up steam is the no-chart reception. I’m not saying it’s never been done before this decade, but it appears to be gaining popularity, and sigs like THIS and THIS are all over Pinterest.

The sentiment behind this one is very nice – sit wherever you like! Have fun! – but it definitely depends on the venue and crowd. If you have small tables and know that you have a lot of large groups attending the wedding, it might not be the best idea, especially if you keep twenty families after the ceremony for group pictures and then they arrive at the reception to find every table only has one or two open seats left and they will have to separate. Of course, it will work out nicely for the parent who thinks to call “not it!” and race for a single seat, leaving the other to wrangle the kids (muahahaha!)

As long as you are keeping your guests in mind, then have at it. Fun, casual, and more like a party than a formal event, so if that’s what you aim to create, then this will certainly help the atmosphere.

What do you think? Are these on track to be the new norm or just a flash in the pan? Would you use any of these in your own wedding?

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), on TwitterInstagram, (and Pinterest!). Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.

Book Review: Into the Darkest Corner

From the desk of: Veronica

Once this lovely fall weather hits and Halloween approaches, I really like to read a creepy book or two, so I thought I’d share a book review with you in case you’re the same way and need a recommendation.

Into the Darkest Corner, by Elizabeth Haynes (2012)

When I first started reading Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes, what jumped out at me was the way the book is narrated: there is a dated entry from 2003, then a dated entry from 2007 … and back and forth and back and forth for the rest of the book. I was like NO. I just can’t do this. Set-ups like this generally give me intense rage and make me give up on books. Shockingly, by the third page, I didn’t mind anymore, which is a true testament to the story.

The back-and-forth follows the same character, Cathy. In 2003, Cathy is leading up to a traumatic event, and in 2007, she is living post-trauma. Since you already have a general idea of what happened to Cathy in 2003, reading the story of her increasingly abusive stalker boyfriend is very tense — you know something terrible is about to happen, but you don’t know when and you don’t know how crazy things will get before it happens. In the “post-attack” timeline, you see a shattered woman trying to rebuild her life, but something tells you that you are not just reading a story of overcoming PTSD and OCD — something else is going to happen to Cathy. But what? It’s a nail-biter, to say the least.

It’s more than just a suspenseful novel, however. It touches on tough subjects, like abusive relationships, stalkers, and mental illness. It’s uncomfortable to read at times, and you will find yourself screaming at Cathy in your head, but you will also put yourself in her shoes and wonder how you would find a way to escape and what you would have the strength to do. At one point the character tackles this idea head-on, saying she always thought women who didn’t leave abusive relationships were lying to themselves when they said it wasn’t as easy as it seemed to just leave.  

This book is certainly well-written (I often found myself stopping to think how she actually wrote the two separate but complimentary storylines and got everything to match up so well!), it is different, and it is definitely a page-turner.

So how about you? Any creepy fall reads to recommend?

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), on TwitterInstagram, (and Pinterest!). Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.

Pumpkin Décor: Beyond Carving

From the desk of: Veronica

I think we’ve all gotten that e-mail forward full of pictures of insanely amazing carved pumpkins. Sure, they’re out of this world, but what do you think would happen if you tried to replicate one of those pumpkins? Bandages all over your fingers and many many pumpkins hacked to tiny bits to toss in the compost pile is my guess. Pro: You’ll have at least six months’ worth of pumpkin seeds to roast. Con: The rage and frustration may have caused you to punch a few pumpkins.

While I’m a minimalist when it comes to decorating for holidays, I’ve become obsessed with unique ways to decorate pumpkins. If you want some fun, adorable, interesting, original ways to decorate with pumpkins that don’t necessarily involve a knife or insane talent, have I got the list for you.

Lacy Pumpkin

Monogram Pumpkin

Fanged Pumpkin

Mummy Pumpkin

Scaredy Cat Pumpkins

Chevron Pumpkins

Metallic Pumpkins

Pumpkin Mums

Blinged-Out Pumpkins

Glitter Pumpkins

Candy Corn Pumpkin

Fairy House Pumpkin

Okay, so that last one involved a little carving, but I had to include it.

I hope your autumn is going well and your Halloween is lovely! Enjoy!

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), on TwitterInstagram, (and Pinterest!). Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.

A Few Simple Changes to Your Eating Habits Can Make a World of Difference

From the desk of: Amanda

I recently found myself in the passenger seat on a three hour car ride. I wasn’t too sure what to do with myself, since there were three teenage boys in the back, making a TON of noise. Looking out the window and contemplating life wasn’t about to happen. So I cracked open a copy of the DC, Maryland and Virginia edition of The Knot magazine. What better way to spend three hours in the car than to read about bridal trends? Who am I kidding? It allowed me to ignore the punching, hollering and shrieking coming from the back of the van, and that’s what is REALLY important here, people. Three. Teenage. Boys.

While reading, I came across an awesome article that I think is beneficial to everyone, not just brides. It gives you some very simple diet changes that you can make to help smooth out your beauty concerns. I tried desperately to find the article online since there is no reason to reinvent the wheel, but I was out of luck. So, here is my recap of the article “Eat to Be Pretty”.

Issue: Acne
Beauty Food: Cold-water Fish

Eating cold-water fish like mackerel, tuna, trout, sardines, or anchovies at least twice a week will help banish blemishes. Recent research shows that people who eat fish at least once a day have less acne than those who don’t. Dr. Jessica Wu says that she’s seen results in 2-3 months. Why does this help with acne? Fish is high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, which can clear up broken-out skin. If you happen to be allergic to fish, or just don’t like the taste, don’t worry. You can just snack on walnuts or take an algae-oil supplement. Both of these contain the omega-3 fatty acids, so you should be all set. As always, remember to speak with your doctor if you’re taking any prescription medications.

Issue: Under-eye Circles
Beauty Food: Cut the salt

Any stress, including wedding stress, can keep you up at night and leave you with raccoon-like eyes. These annoying circles are caused by two things: the thinning of the under-eye skin; the puffiness that comes with not sleeping creates darkness under your eyes. Avoiding salt can help minimize these circles. If you’re eating out, ask for light salt, since restaurants tend to over-salt everything. Read labels, and try to use herbs in place of salt when cooking. Try to limit your salt intake to no more than 1,800mg per day.

Issue: Sunburn
Beauty Food: Tomatoes (or any other red fruit/veggies)

Red foods, such as tomatoes, watermelon, or pink grapefruit, are high in lycopene which helps reduce free radicals and are very effective in blocking the effects of UV rays. It’s much easier for your body to absorb lycopene from tomatoes that have been cooked or processed, so tomato paste, marinara sauce, tomato juice and sundried tomatoes are awesome ways to add lycopene to your system. Throw in some healthy fat like an avocado, and your body will absorb it even faster. That salsa and guacamole on low-salt chips? Perfect!!

Issue: Fine lines or wrinkles
Beauty Food: A mix of green and yellow vegetables

Those who eat more yellow and green veggies have been shown to have fewer wrinkles, especially crow’s feet, than those who don’t. Super foods like peppers, leafy greens, squash and green beans fight the free radicals that break down collagen, and I don’t know about you, but I adore those little peppers, they make the perfect snack!

Issue: Thinning hair
Beauty Food: Beef

Low iron levels (anemia) have been linked to hair thinning, especially in women. Eating iron-rich food like lean beef as often as twice a week will lead to lush, thick locks. Plus.. it’s the perfect excuse for a date night at your favorite steakhouse! If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, opt for lentils, kidney beans, or spinach to build up your iron supply.

Issue: Dry, damaged or over-processed hair
Beauty Food: Avocado

Because the hair is already dead, your diet alone won’t actually repair it. But using avocado or mayonnaise as an all-natural hair mask (leave it on your hair for 15 minutes) will help to seal split ends, and reduce the frizzy appearance. New hair growth, however, will be affected by your diet, so try eating foods rich in cysteine (egg yolks, pork, poultry, red peppers, garlic, onions, Brussels sprouts, oats, wheat germ, and broccoli), silicon (green beans, whole grains and cereals, spinach and lentils), and iron and zinc (beef, lamb, kidney beans, raw oysters and spinach).

Issue: Dandruff
Beauty Food: Yogurt

Dandruff and dry or itchy scalp are actually caused by an overgrowth of yeast, which feeds on your skin’s oils. It’s not caused by dry skin, which is typically what people assume. Eating low-fat, low-sugar yogurt (especially Greek yogurt) will help reduce your dandruff in as little as four weeks. If you’re not a fan of the taste, you can easily take an oral probiotic once a day. But I’d prefer to mix the yogurt with some of the foods mentioned in other sections and make a yummy breakfast smoothie, and knock out several of these items in one shot.

Issue: Weak or brittle nails
Beauty Food: Swiss Chard

Include foods that are rich in biotin, a B vitamin that’s been shown to strengthen and heal nails. Swiss chard is a top choice, but salmon, kidney or liver, egg yolks, whole grains, cabbage or broccoli are also helpful. Foods high in silicon (see the list in the hair section) have also been linked to higher bone density and sturdier hair and nails.

Issue: Dry skin or eczema
Beauty Food: Salmon

Eating fish, especially salmon, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids will help to heal eczema and heal dehydrated skin. Fresh fish is typically higher than canned in omega-3, but canned certainly won’t hurt. If you’re a vegetarian or have a fish allergy, you can always take a supplement.

A big beauty no-no is the pre-wedding crash diet. Instead, a few months (6-8 for best results) beforehand, start implementing these diet changes, and by the big day, not only will you fit into your gown, but your skin will glow and hair will be glossy. A bonus? A lot of these issues are resolved by eating the same foods. Changing a few simple diet habits can make a world of difference, and it will save you a LOT of time and money compared to all of the gimmicks you see on TV and in magazines. Always try to do it the natural way.. and chances are, you’ll become accustomed to your new eating habits, and continue them long after the wedding.

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How Well Do You See Color?

From the desk of: Veronica

Let’s say – hypothetically speaking – that you and your spouse often have spirited disagreements about what color something is. Let’s just say you KNOW you’re right but can’t prove it. It’s not like you’re anal or anything, but that is LILAC, not lavender, or definitely CRANBERRY, not maroon.

How’s a tightly-wound color-lover to see if she is actually seeing colors the way others see them?

Solution: The Online Color Challenge.

All you have to do is drag the color tiles so they are arranged by hue order and click submit.

I seriously cannot get over how cool this is. Sure, you feel like your eyes are made of sandpaper and they are about to fall out of your head when you’re done, but it’s well worth it to hold your perfect score up high in the air and do a little dance – hypothetically speaking.

Seriously. Take the color challenge.

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), on TwitterInstagram, (and Pinterest!). Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.