“Guess what I got” I gleefully exclaimed as I fell through the front door. “Toilet paperrrrrrr”, I sang out. I danced around my suitcase eager to show off my treasures. The Mr. looked at me… More
How exactly does one sleep the night before their wedding? I specifically woke up early Thursday and did as many exhausting things in order to ensure a good nights sleep, and yet at 1AM I was smiling in bed to myself envisioning Mr. H in his dress blues with a ring on his left hand.
To say 5AM came quickly is an understatement. But to have the ability to sit and have coffee with my father as the first thing I did on my wedding day was exactly what I had always dreamed of and definitely worth the early wake-up.
I wish I could say that I delicately trotted up the stairs to go and fix my hair and makeup, but the reality was I sounded like a herd of cattle as I raced back and forth between my parents bedroom and my childhood bedroom trying to finish getting ready in time.
I swiped on my red lipstick and tried not to drool as it dried. Maybelline 24 Hour wear… I swear by it. And my mom zipped me up into my dress. Thank goodness it fit because the whole “I’ll only eat air the week of my wedding” hadn’t really gone to plan. Chickfila, I’m looking at you!
I threw everything I owned into my suitcase and thundered down the stairs and then stopped.
This is my wedding day.
This is the moment Mr. H will see me in my wedding dress.
My heart started pounding.
Would he love the dress? What will he think of my hair?
I nervously went to the door where my parents were outside waiting with cameras and looked for Mr. H.
You know the scene from Pride and Prejudice when Mr. Darcy emerges from the mist? When the music soars and it’s singlehandedly the most romantic moment in cinematic history?
That was this moment.
With the mist still faintly whisping in the air, Mr. H walked towards me down the driveway. My breathe caught as I saw him. The man I would spend the rest of my life with looked glorious. I tried to delicately walk towards him, but due to an unforeseen problem of panty hose making my feet to small for my shoes, it was more like a snail shuffling along. But the moment was perfect. My darling man even got misty eyed. Say it with me, “every girl wants a man to cry when they see her on their wedding day”. Every dream was coming true.
We kissed and I showed him the bracelet my mom gave me to wear. One that my grandma had worn on her wedding day, my mother on her wedding day and now it was my turn. I gleefully stuttered over my words as I pointed out the blue earrings my mom had also given to me to wear. Every part of the saying, “something old (my wedding dress), something new (the coat Mr. H had bought me) something borrowed (the bracelet) and something blue (my earrings) and a sixpence in your shoe (thank you Jamie for sending me a sixpence for my shoe) was fulfilled.
We bundled up, loaded up the car and set out for Pittsboro.
We got the marriage license and then had just enough time to take some pictures before the rest of the family met up with us for the ceremony.
Let me paint the picture for you. Pittsboro has this beautifull historic courthouse right in the middle of town with a roundabout around it. You want to feel like a celebrity on your wedding day? Marry a military guy in the South and trot around in the middle of town in a wedding dress during morning rush hour. The honks, waves, people coming out on balconies and cheering for us… it truly felt like a dream. The town was dazzling with it’s Christmas decorations and little shops glistening with twinkle lights. My father, who really should be a wedding photographer, graciously took hundreds of pictures of us twirling, kissing, and glowing. Mr. H and I felt like we were walking on cloud 9.
Then it was off to the Magistrates Office.
Now the lady on the phone assured me that it was a government building down the road, but that there was a detention center on the property. No big deal. It’s not like I’m getting married in a jail.
I did in fact get married in a jail.
I am crying laughing imagining your face as you read this.
When I say I’m not a detailed person, I really mean it.
My mom tried to assure me that it was okay and informed me that it used to be a landfill. Ah, so I’m getting married in a jail on top of a landfill.
I looked at my dad and asked him how bad it was on a scale of 1-hysterically crying. He said it would be a 9 for me.
How do you know you’re getting married for the right reasons? When the thought of getting married in a jail, with my mom perhaps singing “Les Miserables’, Look Down” song in the parking lot is the funniest thing you’ve ever heard.
We pulled up to the “Detention Center” and I lost it. I started crying laughing at the irony that Miss Sparkles and Rainbows is getting married in a jail. And beyond that, I didn’t even care. I was so gleeful to get married to Mr. H that who the heck cares where we get married.
After some jokes about this being the perfect location for the ‘ol ball and chain and it being a good thing that there’s police around in case Mr. H gets cold feet, we trotted into the Magistrates Office. We were so blessed to have Mr. H’s parents be able to fly in and also have my family plus my Pappa be able to be there too. Because of Covid we were only allowed to have our two witnesses in with us so we Facetimed the rest of the group so that they could watch.
As I held Mr. H’s hands and looked into his crystal blue eyes, everything was right. I always wondered how a bride and groom could look into each others eyes for so long, but I just got lost in those baby blues as we said our vows. I cried. Something I surprisingly didn’t think I would do. He slipped my grandmother’s wedding band (which was handed down to my mom who then handed it down to me) on me and I put his father’s wedding band on him. And then it was done. We were married. Husband and Wife.
Let the celebration begin.
I didn’t know what being married would feel like. Is it like a lightening bolt that hits you and suddenly you feel different? Yes. Yes. Yes. It felt/feels different and new and perfect. We floated, I mean drove, back to the historic courthouse with our families for some family pictures.
And then out of nowhere a man dressed in 1700’s garb pops out from the Courthouse.
I am smiling so big as I type this. The whole day was just filled with so many fun little God moments and this was by and large one of the best ones. We of course asked if we could take pictures with him and he was gracious enough to agree. After we got a few pictures with him he looked at us and said, “do you want to go up to the balcony?” Que me dying, fainting and squealing. I have always wanted to be like the Royals in England who, after getting married go out to the balcony at Buckingham Palace and wave. But, I’m not a princess unfortunately, so that would never happen.
That is, until I got married in Pittsboro, North Carolina.
We walked out onto the balcony like a royal couple and as cars honked and people cheered we waved.
Then my Pappa walked up and yelled at Danny, “You gotta salute young man. You gotta solute the flag”. And what Pappa wants, Pappa gets.
Lunch reservations at S&T’s was at 12:30PM so we floated down from the balcony and bustled into the cutest soda shop you’ve ever seen in your LIFE. I said Hallmark movie set before and I’ll say it again… it was unreal. The whole place was decorated for Christmas with old Christmas music playing. We laughed, ate more than we should and the famous Banana Split became our “wedding cake”.
As the day winded down and Danny and I prepared to go to our glamorous honeymoon hotel, we wanted to do one final thing. Pictures at the pond on my Pappa’s farm. Unbeknownst to me, my dad grabbed the first fishing pole he ever bought me and we headed down to the dock.
I might have said something along the lines of, “first person to catch a fish buys dinner” and while that’s not a good deal at all, Mr. H heard “first person to catch a fish” and proceeded to entirely forget we were there to take pictures. Haha!
With some sentimental photos that I’ll cherish forever and my dress getting tighter and tighter (note to self: inhaling 4 scoops of ice-cream makes for a tight dress) we departed for our honeymoon. We’ll have a big and nauseatingly glamorous honeymoon this Fall when the world opens up again, but this was perfect for us.
And while the rest of the day will forever remain privately treasured in Mr. H’s and I’s hearts… I did want to share one thing. Since I was 13 I’ve had a little journal that I’ve written in. I called it my “Dear Future Husband” journal. Filled with prayers for this mystery man, life updates and a lot of “what did my hair look like on our wedding day”. It spanned almost 15 years of my life and the night before our wedding I wrote one final entry. While all of the other entires had been addressed to my “future husband”, I could finally write, “Dear Mr. H, It is you! It has always been you”. And in the cover of it where I wrote “Christena Rose Brooks and __________” so many years ago, I could finally write his name in it. In sharpie… because this is forever okay? Haha! It was the richest blessing, the most sacred gift and reading it together will always and forever be the most special moment of my life.
The weather was glorious, the dress was magical, the day was impeccable. Having my favorite people be there was everything to me and having a wedding that was just about the two of us and nothing else was everything I ever dreamed of and so much more. I still feel like I’m floating on Cloud 9 and find myself staring at my wedding ring throughout the day. We finally get to live together and waking up to a note in my coffee cup that said, “Good morning wife” was the cherry on top.
Mr. H did propose before the wedding so I’ll definitely need to write about the perfectness of that day and of course once the engagement ring gets finished (he waited to get it set until we could do it together so that we could make sure the setting went perfectly with my wedding band) I’ll be dying to post pictures of that, but until then I think my hands have completely gone numb from typing and I want to go float around my apartment and sign lots of letters as Mrs. H. Hehe!
P.S. A wedding of some sort in the Fall is still on the books… what could be more perfect than one magical wedding? Two!
I looked in horror at the broken thread in my hands.
My breath caught as I held back the tears that were welling in my eyes.
“How are you so stupid Christena”, I muttered under my breath as I slowly put down the thread and made a new resolution.
I would never ever ever, under any circumstances sew ruffled pillows again.
But let’s rewind to the beginning of this sewing saga shall we?
It was the beginning of the summer… the world had all but collapsed and in a panic, I threw everything I owned into my car and drove down to North Carolina.
When I say everything, I do in fact mean everything. Espresso maker, entire wardrobe, spin bike, home decor… you name it, I had it.
To be honest, I didn’t initially plan on spending the entire summer living with my family. However, with my options being, “Fulfill every bucket list dream with my family” or “Spend the summer crying and alone in my Detroit apartment”… it’s not exactly hard to see why things unfolded the way they did.
At the top of my bucket list?
-Learn how to sew-
Now I wasn’t a complete beginner, I had done a few little projects in my life with my momma. I’ve always had this innate desire to do everything a 19th century woman could do and of COURSE sewing is a must in that regard. But I don’t think I realized what a mountain of life lessons awaited me.
It started off great. My parents gave me my Grandma’s sewing machine which I was told by the sewing machine guy who serviced it, that it’s the “Roll’s Royce of Sewing Machines and they just don’t make them like that anymore”.
What could be more fun?
Talk about fun.
Did you know you can just walk into any craft store and open up GIANT books filled with patterns for almost any type of clothing you want to make. Legitimately, it’s like an entire world of creativity just opened it’s doors to me and I was positively intoxicated with glee. I ran up and down the fabric aisles like an insane person. Touching, analyzing, having in depth discussions about pattern matching… it was all exhilarating.
Then came the actual sewing part. Aka the part where personalities differences are highlighted to the ‘nth degree. I had no idea I was such a free spirit until my mom told me that I had to lay the pattern on the fabric a certain way and that was the only way to do it. I felt like my inner artist *said with a French accent* was slowly dying.
“What do you mean I have to follow the exact directions?”
I had imagined channeling my inner Italian atelier worker and throwing fabrics about as the sunlight dazzled through the windows. Beautiful chaos and somehow my stunning, sculptural and artistic visions for clothes would just magically come to life.
An alternate title for the circle skirt that my mom and I made could be, “Do you want to die on this hill?”
It was a painful process. I wish I didn’t have to admit that I cried a couple times over something as simple as a skirt. But even that pales in comparison to the saga that was making ruffled pillows.
Did you know you can’t just make things up as you go when doing ruffles? If you miss one small step such as, I don’t know, setting the machine to the right tension, your thread will snap in the middle of you painstakingly gathering the fabric. At 1am. When you’re hungry. And tired. And sick of making pillows. That’s actually the scientific formula by the way.
You’d think I had put my poor mom through enough trauma for one year. But no, after somehow managing to make the skirt, make 2 1/2 pillows (mom graciously finished the last 1/2 after I curled up into the fetal position and declared that I would rather die than look at the sewing machine again), I decided, “Let’s make a dress”.
“Let’s make a dress”
Those words might as well go on my tombstone as the perfect encapsulation of my personality. “Here lies the girl that decided to tackle a sewing feat meant for advanced sewers after barely being able to finish 2 ruffled pillows”
But wait, there’s more.
Let’s wait to do it until I’m back in Michigan, far away from the sewing master, aka my mom.
And also, let’s decide that one pattern isn’t enough. Let’s combine 3.
With my mind made up, my mom graciously flew up to visit me to help me start the dress.
We did the now familiar traipsing though the craft stores, discussing pattern placements, but somewhere along the way my sewing skills… nay, life skills shifted.
No longer was I trying to pretend that I was a moody and creative genius, I decided to accept the fact that if I could just follow the directions and acknowledge the areas in which I needed help in, it would probably go a lot easier for me. (Insert how this is also insanely applicable to life in general)
I began to find my groove. I’d put on podcasts after my mom had returned to NC and would just spend my evenings sewing. It was wonderful. Not only did it give me something to look forward to when I came home from work, but it also gave me something to achieve, to accomplish, to feel proud of. Sometimes that’s all you need, something to hold in your hands and feel proud of.
With a lot of virtual help from my mom via FaceTime and just the tiniest amount of my inner Italian atelier worker, I finished the dress.
The feeling I felt when I slipped it on and it fit perfectly, it’s hard to put into words.
I looked in the mirror and saw not just a lot of hard work, but a ton of growing up, an enormous amount of love and guidance from my family, but especially my mom and the perfect combination of creativity and following the rules.
The grand total for this dress? Under $50. And it was only that much because one of my coupons wouldn’t work. To have a custom dress that I will cherish forever for that price tag? I mean TALK ABOUT #ThriftyAndGlamorous.
If you’re looking for a way to create beautiful pieces for a fraction of the cost of a designer item, why not give sewing a try? If you’re a detail oriented person you will thrive. And if you’re a creative soul like me, you’ll definitely learn some life lessons along the way.
Stay tuned for another sewing saga as I just started on a making a beautiful blue summer dress.
I don’t know what I was thinking when I chose this coffee shop to write in. Well, actually, I lied. I know exactly what I was thinking. I envisioned myself perched at a corner table, wistfully gazing out the window and then turning to my computer and letting the words flow out of my fingertips.
All I really want is for my life to closely resemble a Jane Austen novel mixed with a 90’s rom-com. Is that too much to ask for?
Instead my current situation is me being incredibly overstimulated by the floor to ceiling windows which are open and letting in the most gorgeous breeze and the soft hum of traffic. It’s not the open windows, but the ability to see every single person walking by and I can’t NOT look ya know?
If you notice a spelling error or a grammatical mistake… I’m not going to lie, it’s most likely because someone walked by the coffee shop. We’re just going to roll with it okay.
So today I want to talk to y’all about thrift shopping. When I initially had the idea to share with y’all how to be #ThriftyAndGlamorous – “How to Thrift Shop” was right on up there in the top posts I wanted to write. Mostly because I think most people envision themselves being able to tell when something has been bought at a thrift shop… but that’s only if you don’t do it properly *wink*. So today I’m going to walk you through how to do it properly and honestly, no one will ever know if you don’t want them too.
Take a sip of your coffee, I just took a sip of mine and let’s talk all things thrift stores.
To make this a little more fun and into a little challenge for myself, I decided to see if I could find one full outfit for $20 or less.
I headed to my favorite Salvation Army (a thrift store in a nicer area is usually going to be your best bet) armed with $20 and less than an hour. Time management is admittedly not my forte. Now let’s talk about what we’re not trying to do. We’re not trying to get crazy and find a Gucci jacket for $10. Now a similar jacket? Maybe. That would be quite the find. But more than that I look for classic cuts that even though the item might be 5-10 years old, it’s still relevant and if made well, a good addition to your curated wardrobe.
I also look for color families that I know work well with my complexion. Blues are a big love for me right now.
Here’s some items I saw while shopping that caught my eye.
This is a Talbots button down and if I worked in a business environment I would have snatched this up. They retail for around $60-$80
This would be amazing for a layover outfit with some leggings and a chunky scarf. Just the outfit to go grocery shopping in Amsterdam haha.
Now White Stag is a Walmart brand (another thing that helps you with thrift shopping is knowing your brands and how each brand fits you). I saw a similar shirt at Banana Republic for $50 and this was $2. Not a hard choice.
This had the most darling chiffon flutter cap sleeves and with some sleek black trousers and sky high stilettos… all you need is a Christmas party invite.
I almost got this one because it was a Calia by Carrie Underwood piece and I adore her athletic attire. This would usually retail for $55 and it was marked for $5.
This A-line piece was incredible. I typically look for A-line pieces over incredibly tailored options like a pencil skirt or a tapered suiting pant, just because you want a cut that is a bit more versatile especially if you don’t know the brand and in my case, can’t try on anything.
Are you ready to see what I got?
Okay, don’t faint.
But I bought the jeans for $2 off the rack without trying them on. I KNOW! IT’S INSANE. Because of COVID most dressing rooms are closed… so how exactly did I do this?
One word – STRETCH.
This applies to everything I bought. I’m not going to find a “looks like it was made for me item” without it having some give to it. That way, even if I buy the wrong size, it’ll most likely stretch to the size I need it to be.
The shirt is a simple tunic by Ann Taylor for $3. I picked it because I knew it would fit me because of the flowy-ness. I also envision it tucked into a super high waisted pencil skirt with some big blingy earrings.
Now I thought I would just buy the one outfit and then realized I had only spent $5 so I found another outfit.
Couldn’t you just die?
I think I did. And y’all… this IS the norm for thrift stores. I find amazing stuff EVERY. TIME. I. GO.
Remember what I said all pieces need to have? STRETCH. This piece is no exception. I was able to do the pencil skirt because of the elastic waist and the material being a cotton tweed made it more forgiving. It was $5.
The t-shirt – well the minute I saw the Karl Lagerfeld letters shaped into the Eiffel Tour I knew it was the one. At $5 it compliments the skirt, but could also be just as cute with some ripped jeans and a messy bun.
The piece de resistance *insert an Italian kiss exclamation* was this leather purse I snagged for $5. I couldn’t find a brand in the interior, but it’s luxe y’all. You can never never go wrong with a black or brown leather purse. It’s a classic. To say I was floating on cloud nine out of that store is an understatement.
So let’s recap shall we?
- Look for thrift stores in nicer areas of town
- Classic cuts are the way to go – avoid trendy
- Know your brands and what cuts you like on your body. Stick to that.
- If dressing rooms are closed – STRETCH is the name of the game
- You can never go wrong with a brown or black leather bag or really any simple, but elegant accessory.
So with that, my meter is about up for my car which means I simply must dash. I hope you enjoyed this installment of #ThriftyAndGlamorous. Please let me know if you have any questions and be sure to tag me if you find something fabulous at your local thrift store. Have a dreamy weekend.
You know how some people just love numbers, love plotting out things on plain graph paper and punching things into calculators. They probably/definitely have a pencil behind their ear. Those are the kind of people who (I assume) budget. Continue reading “Budgeting, But Make It Sparkly”
The sweat slid down the side of my face and intermingled with the faint residue of Sauve hairspray. My bun high and tight as I gazed at my reflection floating across the room. The sheer black ballet skirt floated softly as my toes pounded the floor silently. My worn and supple pointe shoes like a second skin.
Dancing was like breathing. I had put in so many years of work into it that there were magical moments where I would loose myself in the music and no longer have to tell my muscles what to do. It was magic. Pure unadulterated magic. Continue reading “Just Keep Spinning: Peloton Dupe”
I hesitated… then slowly hovered my finger over the key.
“Total account balance is…”
And then I looked with horror at the dollar amount I was seeing on my credit card.
How did this happen?
This morning I woke up and somehow I had turned 25. Continue reading “25 Things I’ve Learned In 25 Years”
“I haven’t felt this out of it in awhile! Like today I didn’t want to move… I wanted to stay in bed all day and not do anything, but then I hated the fact that we didn’t do anything which is silly”
I jumped in my swivel chair as the curling iron I was holding exploded in my hands. Sparks flew into my lap as the lights suddenly switched off.
“Oh come ON”
I whispered to myself as I surveyed the damage. Clearly the converter didn’t exactly convert and I was now faced with the grim reality that my hair was only halfway done and I would have to go to the opera with half straight/half curly hair.
They say hindsight is 20/20. Well, when I was blow-drying my hair I really should have taken note of the fact that it was WAY hotter than normal, BUT at the time I counted it as a blessing for someone with thick and unruly hair.
Fast forward to my call to the concierge.
“Yes, hi! So I think I accidentally blew up my room with my curling iron….” *concierge replies* “… no I already tried the lights and they just don’t work! I’m SO so sorry, but I really have to leave for the opera. Can you just let yourself in?”
If there was ever a definition of a Flight Attendant it would 100% be the above sentence. “Sorry I have to catch the opera but please do hurry and fix the room that I just completely destroyed in this 4 star hotel – ta ta now”
The person that replies to your message saying, “Let’s go to the opera in London… by the way I’m going to wear a vintage fur coat” with… “I just so happen to have my vintage leopard coat with me and my opera gloves – it’s a date”.
And with that we crawled into a taxi and were whisked through the brightly lit streets of London to “The Balcon”. A truly magical place that has a cocktail list based on fairy tales.
There are certain moments where reality becomes blurred with a dream. It’s the moment you find yourself sipping on a pink cocktail called “Satine’s Dilemma” based on “The Moulin Rouge” and you look out the window and see the Christmas lights twinkling over the streets of London.
I find it really hard sometimes to do what makes me happy. It can feel so selfish. Yes I love my job, yes I love my life, but so often I find that it’s been months since I’ve consciously set out to do something that’s uniquely “Christena”.
Something that simply brings my soul joy. It can be as simple as getting an overpriced Starbucks drink just because or listening to the “Cinderella” soundtrack over and over because let’s face it, it’s my favorite music of all time. But in this case it was wearing my favorite dress and heels even if I was impossibly overdressed, spending an evening with a friend who became even more dear as we discovered so many similarities and swooning over the awe-inspiring talent of “Phantom of the Opera”.
Perhaps this is all sounding so cliche to you, but stepping into my hotel room tonight I can’t help but smile thinking about how magical it felt to just chase after what my heart loves. I hope this week you chase after something, no matter the size, that your heart and soul loves. I just pray that it doesn’t involve you blowing up your curling iron.
It’s absolutely crazy to think I started writing a blog almost 10 years ago. Continue reading “A Lady In Ireland: Part 2”