Happy Halloween

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Halloween!

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Donate Your Extra Halloween Candy To A Soldier This Year

Halloween Candy

Whether your kids are being visited by the “switch witch” this year or you overestimated the amount of trick-or-treaters, you may be looking for a way out of the candy overload that’s about to rain down on your house.

Every year I collect people’s extra candy and send it off to my adopted soldiers. There are plenty of men and women overseas that would kill for the Snickers that our waistline really doesn’t even need. Last year I sent about 10 lbs of Halloween candy to my adopted sailor and her shipmates. While it is incredibly difficult to peel candy from Josh’s hands, we both know he can at least give some of it up to his brothers in arms. Here are a couple of questions I have gotten from donors in the past:

Won’t the chocolate melt?
I send chocolate year round to places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, sometimes it melts, but individually wrapped snack sized chocolates are fine. I’m sure you’ve had candy melt in its wrapper and when you open it up it’s just ugly looking. Tastes the same, just not pretty. Usually in the cooler months, like now, the chocolate fairs just fine. Although you would think the desert is blazing hot year round that’s not true. Afghanistan gets surprisingly cold, especially at night. Blankets and hand warmers are actually common requests around now. Moral of the story is the chocolate makes it just fine and even if it’s a little melted, for people who don’t have any luxuries, they are still incredibly grateful.

What will a soldier do with that much candy?
I may be sending it to one person but overseas they all share with one another. Every soldier I’ve ever had that I got a chance to speak with either asks for multiples to share or they mention that they handout what they get so everyone gets some love from back home. I promise I won’t be sending my soldier into a diabetic coma on 10 lbs of Halloween candy. His entire platoon will be enjoying it together.

What about soldiers with allergies?
You know what you can and cannot eat right? Well my soldiers are smart enough to avoid the things they can’t have too. If someone would like me to send allergen friendly candy in a separate box I can absolutely do that, but I have never felt there was a need to do so. Candy being individually wrapped is usually enough for most people.

Can I send it myself?
To protect my soldier and his unit I am unable to give out his address information. Yes, I know I know most of you reading this, but it is a promise I make. I have to go through a verification and validation process to be given access to a military member’s personal information and I do not want to jeopardize my clearance with my organization or the safety of my adoptees.

If anyone would like to donate their extra candy please let me know and I would be happy to come pick it up and get it out to them on your behalf. You are also welcome to write a letter or note to them, I know they love to hear from other people too. They appreciate the support that extends beyond their adopting angel. If anyone is interested in making a different donation please let me know, I send out at least one package a month.

-AB

Doggie Academia: Week 5 Recap – She Only Listens to Mom

Dog training

Because dog training is best done in stilettos

When we started classes both Josh and I would switch on and off working with Mara. We realized that wasn’t the best idea so I let Josh work with her during class and I would just hang out and take in the training tips. Since discovering Mara’s doggie ADD we give her the frequent breaks she needs to relax and refocus. We started out with the usual routine and she really just wasn’t having any part of Josh this time. She did not want to listen worth of anything and he was just getting really frustrated. The last straw was when Mara jumped on the kid who kept running to the bathroom past her. Just before Josh hit his breaking point I took over and tried working with her. Clearly she was all about working with mommy today, because she was doing well with me.

Dog training

I’d like to think she was listening to me and not just wanting the hotdogs

Fortunately Cain and Able weren’t both there this week, but even having one of them was still annoying. Dad came and picked up the other little brat, who of course didn’t go without a big temper tantrum. After some kid drama dad left with him to get burritos so we only had to deal with one. During the class he was rolling around on the floor laughing and reading a book, talking over the trainer at the beginning of the class and running past the dogs trying to work. After class I told the trainer that the kids needed to go, but since we only have one week left he said he’s going to let it go. I considered taking the next set of classes at the doggie academy, but I found out that they will be taking them too so I made an about-face on that decision really quick. I’m not going to pay $200 to be annoyed by those damn kids again. The mother is very nice and the dog is great but I’m not taking the chance of having to deal with dad and the kids again.

Dog training

Learning to only come when she’s called.

One of the dogs was sick this time so it was only down to three pups. We moved around the room a lot more this time, training the dogs on some loose leash walking. Mara was having a really tough time with this today so that ended pretty quickly for us. The trainer strongly suggested doing more focus training with her to teach her to focus on us instead of everything else. Hand targets, name games, and find it games he said will be the best way for her to learn. I wish someone gave me treats every time they called my name and I looked at them.

The big one we need to work on is Mara’s stay with Josh specifically. I am able to take a step or two back before she follows, but Josh can’t even move and she’s up. Apparently he is fostering a needy dog. I blame the fact that he is never home so when he tries to leave she gets clingy. I get it, I’m the same way.

The big kicker in all of this is she is a totally different dog at home. She listens so much better and is an angel (most days). Last night Josh and I were putting clean sheets on the bed so we sent her to the crate and didn’t even have to close the door. She sat in there, waited until we were done, got into bed and then she came up when she was invited. I really wish she would act like this during classes. Oh well, she’s a work in progress.

-AB

How Not To Get The Girl

Gentlemen, there are a lot of tips out there on how to get the girl, but what you really should be looking for is how not to get a girl. Articles that tell a guy what to do, rather than what not to do, limits them and makes them just like the other guy who read the same advice. A lot of those lists I read are also tough because every woman is different. We tend to like different things, but 9 times out of 10 we will agree on the few things we hate. Here are my personal list of not to-dos that I know a lot of my lady friends will agree on.

Do not be a better version of yourself on your first date.
It’s all well and good to go out of your way to be a gentlemen on the first date if that is who you are a year and a half later. I met a lot of guys who were total gentlemen on the first date, opening the doors, walking on the outside of the sidewalk and saying all of the things a girl would hope to hear from a potential suitor. What really sucks is wasting my time on the first couple of dates thinking you are one guy, come to find out you’re really a total jackass. The one thing I loved about my boyfriend is he wasn’t on his best behavior when we first met. He was his real, rough around the edges self. The same man he was a year and a half ago is the same man he is today. A gentleman, but a brat. Guys, a girl should love you for who you are anyway so don’t waste either of your time by being on your best behavior.

Do not under-estimate a girl’s knowledge base.
Two of my favorite stories to tell are these. I was chatting with a guy one day and we got on the topic of cars, specifically classic cars. My uncle builds and restores classic cars as a hobby, so I grew up going to his car show BBQs and listening to the guys in the family talk shop about their classic cars. I grew up immersed in American Muscle. My uncle’s sweet spot is the Mustang so of course that’s what I know the most about. I didn’t really say much at that point when the guy decided he was going to brag about his ’61 Mustang. For those of you who don’t know, the first year of the Mustang was ’64. If you really wanted to show off the first year of the Mustang was actually ’64 and a half. Being the sarcastic brat I am I was like “OMG, I would LOVE to see it!” I honestly didn’t have to the heart to tell him he was an idiot, but that was the last time I ever talked to him. My other favorite story, I was working at Victoria’s Secret when two guys came up to the cash wrap to check out. Apparently they were there getting stuff for one of their sisters’ birthdays. One of the guys drops his keys on the counter and decides he’s going to flirt with me. He asked if he could come back and pick me up after work. He said he would take me out now but he was driving his Corvette and being that its only a two seater he had to drop his buddy off first. Stupid him dropped the keys on the counter and at one quick glance I saw a key chain, what looked like two house keys or room keys and one car key. That car key was a Nissan key. Unless NISSAN keys start-up his CHEVY Corvette someone is lying. Unlike the last guy with the ’61 Mustang I decided to call this guy’s bluff. I told him I had never seen a car like that before. He gave me the response I was banking on, “like what?” I told “like the kind of Chevy that starts up with a Nissan key.” His friend starting laughing his ass off and the kid left in a real hurry. So guys, moral of the story here is don’t underestimate a girl’s knowledge. Not all of us are car stupid. If you are going to lie to try to impress us, make sure we don’t know more than you.

Do not grill her like you’re interrogating a terrorist.
I am all about getting to know a person to determine if you’re compatible. I don’t want to spend six months with a person and then find out they are a transgender crack addict with daddy issues and a prison record or something outrageous because we never asked personal questions. There is a line however. I’ve met guys who wanted to know everything that happened over the course of my 24 years on this Earth, when I get my period, my mother’s maiden name, my bank account numbers, how many times I go to the bathroom a day and if I’ve found Jesus all in the first 20 minutes of meeting them. I’m pretty sure Homeland Security isn’t as bad as some of my dates have been. I love when people ask questions about me and show an interest, just please do not go overboard.

Do not drink too much.
Nothing good ever comes from consuming alcohol. It’s a slippery slope of regret. A glass of wine, a mixed drink or a beer or two isn’t going to hurt but more than that might be bad news. Alcohol tends to calm the nerves on a date but too many guys don’t know when to stop. They end up drinking more than the would on any other night and things just take a turn. I met this one guy at a small restaurant turned night club on Friday and Saturday nights. I went with a girlfriend and we met this guy who was really into me. He was a really nice guy and I definitely wanted to see him again. We went back the next weekend and, long story short, he ended up getting into a bar fight all because of drunken stupidity. He also managed to get me in trouble with the guys girlfriend and I had to take care of my own business. I left and never talked to him again. That was that. Too much booze turns into bar fights which turns into losing the girl. I’ve also had guys just get drunk and ramble on for hours and then try to get me in bed. Yea, no. Not cool, not attractive, not how you get the girl.

Do not get too handsy.
Unless you are both going in knowing this date is purely sexual and the end goal of the night for both parties is to get in bed with one another, don’t be overly handsy. Violating your date from the start will not get you anything long-term. I am a very touchy-feely kind of person. I connect with people I am comfortable with by engaging in physical contact. This is both true for romantic connections and platonic ones. I have no problem giving hugs, touching someones arm, putting my arm around someone in an innocent way. Josh is the same way as me and when I met him he was very cognizant of what I was like and how much was acceptable. Where everything starts to go south is when you start putting your hands where they don’t belong or you start touching too much. Until you are in a stable and comfortable place in a relationship do not get too handsy, that won’t get you more. As a girl with a large backside, take it from me – moves like that are more likely to get you punched or slapped way before it gets you a second date. But, if your end game is a fling then by all means do you honey.

As a woman I’m allowed to admit to that fact that females are crazy, but love us and treat us the right way and we are worth it, I promise. If kicked plenty of guys to the curb because of the stupid things they do. Don’t insult a girl’s intelligence or underestimate her, do not pretend to be someone you are not, do not interrogate her like she’s on trial, do not drink too much and do not get overly handsy. If you can handle that you should be fine. No promises on the girl being the one, but I hope these tips will help to make sure you don’t screw it up if she is.

-AB

“You sound like mom…” and I’m damn proud of it!

My brother moved in with me while he goes to school at New England Tech for the next couple of years. He is in the works of transferring over to the BJs right down the road from my house so he can make money to pay for his food, books, gas and anything he might need outside of the basic I can provide. When I asked him if he called BJs to check in with them he told me I “sound[ed] like mom.” I usually also get that line when I bug his to do his laundry, or clean up after himself. Now, at first you would want to take this as an insult, especially with his tone, but my reply was “good, I’m glad.”

Every girl dreads the day they turn into their mother. Most kids will butt heads growing up, and claim they never want to be like that. I am not one of those girls. I took my brother’s attempt at an insult as a compliment. I am damn proud to be just like my mom. Sometimes I scare people because on some days we could be twins. We are incredibly feisty, stubborn, controlling and demanding. But we are also loving, caring, motivated and determined. If I am half the woman my mom is I will be all set in life.

Some people look at me and say wow. I have a house, a career, an amazing man, a loving puppy and I am independent to a fault at the young age of 24. I know a lot of people in their 30’s that still don’t have their act together and aren’t even remotely close to being an adult. Whatever the reason for that, that is their business, I don’t judge, but I would like to agree with the people out there that tell me I’m successful. As much as I’d like to take a bow and say it was all me, it wasn’t. I have two of the greatest parents that ever lived. Since I came to be on this Earth they have loved and supported me, always putting me (and my brother) first, but never sheltered us from the reality that is life. No kid ever likes being told what to do or nagged about things, but everything my parents made me do early on built up an incredible motivation and determination to achieve great things in life. They gave me the knowledge and wisdom of real life, never sugar-coating things that didn’t need to be. I grew up doing home improvements with my family, crafting and making things on my own, learning basic life skills like laundry so I wouldn’t panic at the sight of a washer and dryer at college and cooking so that I wouldn’t live off of microwave pizzas for the rest of my life (although some days Josh will argue that’s all I ever eat).

I knew what I wanted to be since I was in elementary school. In the 5th grade year book they asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. All of the other kids wanted to be athletes, rock stars, astronauts and ballerinas. I wanted to be a computer technician. Almost 15 years later and 2 1/2 years into my career I am an IT project manager who works very closely with an awesome team of computer techs. Pretty damn close. I set goals at 10 years old and worked my ass off to get what I wanted in life. What 10-year-old is that awesome? One’s who has awesome parents.

I do a lot of networking for my job and on multiple occasions I found myself chatting up people about random things that something someone with some life experience would relate to and they had to stop and ask how old I am. Most with an apology knowing you never ask a woman her age. When I told them 22, 23 or 24 they were shocked and said I spoke as if I was in my 30’s. They told me that the things I spoke about and related to their own adult kids couldn’t or wouldn’t even understand. I surprise a lot of people and I am very mature for my age. I was encouraged my whole life to speak like an adult, learn like an adult and take responsibility like an adult. My parents are the ones to thank for that.

Sadly, I see a lot of “kids” my age lost and spinning in the world after college. Sometimes it’s not the parents fault, but sometimes it is. Parents, handing your kids everything and not teaching them the value of what they are getting is not helping them. Please stop. I don’t care if you have the money, make them do it themselves, make them work for it. You are not doing them any favors by handing everything to them on a silver platter. I see a lot of people complain that their kids come back and live with them after college. Stop making them want to. The job market is tough right now, so sometimes it’s not an option, but letting them take their sweet time finding the “perfect job,” making them three square meals a day, doing their laundry, making their bed, waking them up in the mornings and babying them isn’t going to transition them into the reality that is life. Make them cook, do their own laundry, pay rent and make them get a job at McDonald’s until they find the right one. That’s what will help them.

Kudos to my parents for making me the thick-headed, stubborn, determined, go-getter I am today. They planted the seeds that got me to where I am and they are the ones who gave me the determination to succeed. Thanks mom and dad for all you have done and all that you continue to do. I hope that one day I am a great parent like you and raise my kids to be just as successful and appreciative, if not more. Love you!

-AB

I can see the light at the end of the heating system tunnel!

Yesterday my heating crew finished all of the work in my house. I now have a fully functional heating system, an empty basement and a house that still has displaced furniture and clutter. Two out of three isn’t bad – I’ll be working on getting the house back together this weekend. I am so excited to have gotten the job done after all of the drama in getting the work done. The last piece is having the engineering company and the town in to inspect the job. Once I get the green light the heating guys get their check from the bank. I’m sure they are waiting on edge for their $11,000 because they damn well earned it.

Gas Tankless Heating and Hot Water SystemThe company that did my heating system conversion was Sensible Heating and Air Conditioning. I would HIGHLY recommend them to anyone looking for either maintenance on a current system or bigger work like the conversion or replacement like I did. We dealt with Mike, one of the two brothers that did the job. They were both incredibly friendly, neat and clean, and worked quickly. They went out of our way and went above and beyond what we ever could have expected. I had asked them to leave off the toe kick heater in the kitchen to bring the cost down $400, which allowed me to get the loan approval. They ended up installing a small section of baseboards anyway for no extra cost because he told my dad he didn’t feel right leaving me with nothing in the kitchen. On their website their tagline is “Quality Means Doing it Right When No One is Looking!” They definitely exemplified this through their work and the decisions they made while completing my upgrade. I am not an HVAC expert by any means, so I was honest with Mike telling him I know enough to know what I don’t know. This was one of those things. I told him I would rely on their expert decisions to do the right thing and that I wanted to trust them to tell me what I needed to do.

They were great. They confused the hell out of all of us because Mike is a twin, so Josh had to do a double take the first time since they were identical. The true test will be when the engineer comes to approve the work. As long as it looks good they get two thumbs up and will be highly recommended to everyone to meet needing work in this area of expertise. Fingers crossed!

-AB

Doggie Academia: Week 4 Recap – Making Progress

This week we came armed and ready with our hot dogs, clicker and an understanding that Mara’s attention span was minimal. As soon as we got in we got to our spot and started playing the basic games with her that we learned in previous weeks. She was nailing the name game, downs, sits, cookies in the corner, hand targets and all of the other things we learned. We were so excited! I was incredibly impressed that her focus and attention was much better this week. I am not sure if she was getting used to being at this new place and the smells were starting to become familiar, but I’ll take it. We were also down a dog in the class since they were referred to private training lessons. They were an elderly couple who had difficulties following the trainer’s directions and asked so many random questions they ate up all of the class time. It was actually really nice without them this week, as we seemed to have accomplished a lot more. They just needed more one on one attention so it was definitely best for everyone.

The one issue I did have this week was with the one lady who brings her young children. Usually her husband takes the youngest one and leaves at the start of class, but this time all four of them decided to stay. The older one, who is 7 years old, can sort of behave when it is just him and his mother. He fidgets a bit but isn’t disruptive. This time he has a partner in crime, who I would suspect to be about 5 years old, so they were climbing all over the chairs like a jungle gym, running to the bathroom every five minutes, talking while the instructor was trying to talk, running out onto the floor interfering with other dogs and just being pains in the asses. Of course we were right next to the bathroom so keeping Mara’s attention to start is a chore, but having a kid running by to the bathroom every five minutes made it more difficult. The point of her training is to learn to listen around big distractions such as this but the trainer said we need to minimize them in the beginning to give her the basic understanding of what he needs to do. Slowly adding in the distractions will be next steps. Given her issues focusing already, he said she has a lot of work to do before adding in anything else so having the kids disrupting us was getting tiresome. The new place and other dogs was more than enough for her to handle without them. Since this was also dad’s first week he kept walking their dog too close to Mara, into our space and the trainer kept having to make him move back. I could see the trainer was even getting irritated.

Despite the family being a nuisance, Mara was still doing really well. I am also really proud of Josh and how much he has also learned from all of this. The new exercises we learned this time were to help with impulse control. We would hold out a hand of treats and as soon as she stopped trying to take them out of our hand it would be a click and a treat. She actually did really well with this considering she likes to steal the ice cubes from my water on the end table as soon as I walk into the other room. Once she got the handle on the hand, we moved to leaving the treats on the floor. She did even better with that.

Once she started checking out the trainer brought her some water and told us to give her a break. Stop the commands. He compared an hour of training for a dog to a three hour advanced calculus class for a human. Eventually your brain is just fried and you check out. Dogs best learn when training for only a few minutes at a time and then breaking. The trainer said a good idea is to train during a commercial break while watching TV. This is especially true for Mara.  We worked a little more on the loose leash walking and she did much better than she did last week. She is better understanding what she needs to do. A couple of times during that she stopped to check in with the other dogs and inventory her surroundings, but otherwise she did really well. She is my little social butterfly so any chance to play she will take it.

We sat out the sit/stay exercises since we needed a long break, so she entertained the other dog parents by laying in our laps on her back getting belly rubs. She is such a spoiled little dog and a total cuddle bug. We love her to the moon and back.

Overall this was an extremely positive session and Mara rocked it. We celebrated with a doggie ice cream at home and some snuggles in bed. For the first time, I am actually looking forward to next class to see how much more progress she can make.

-AB

True love is buying you Sudafed at 3am

So this is a post just to brag about how amazing my boyfriend is. Continue to read at your own risk.

The last 3 days I’ve been sick and dying with a real nasty sinus infection. On Sunday I finally hit a wall just in time to go back to work on Monday. I dragged Josh out to the store to get a cool mist machine, figuring I could try and stop this from happening. He gave me some Mucinex out of his bag of medic tricks and we went to bed. About 3:30 am I woke up in tears from all of the pain and pressure in my face and my head. I woke Josh up and asked him to take me to the store to get medicine. Through my hysterics and groggy, stuffed up, delusional mind, I kept asking if he was mad at me and hated me. He kept assuring me he wasn’t mad and that he loved me very much. He tried to leave without me and insisted I stay in bed and rest while he went to get me meds, but me being the stubborn body that I am had to go. I felt bad enough that I woke him up at 3 am to make him drive to the store, I wasn’t going to make him go alone. Plus I knew the 30 degree air would make me feel better.

The whole way there I just kept apologizing about making him wake up and drive. He reminded me that this is what he does when he works the overnight shifts at the ambulance company, except this time it was for me so he didn’t mind. We made it to the store, talked to the pharmacist, got the Sudafed and hit the road. I did consider Denny’s for a hot minute since it was right in the parking lot but I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy any part of it so we went home. When I lived in my apartment in Cranston Josh and I frequented the Denny’s down in Warwick on late nights, so much so that the waitresses knew our order when we sat down.

We got back home, let Mara out to pee, Josh gave me my drugs and we went back to bed. He held my hand, gave me my favorite forehead kisses and told me how much he loved me and that he could never hate me for 3 am trips to the drug store. When we woke up he made me breakfast, which I couldn’t taste at all. Since my back was hurting really bad from all of my coughing, I went back to lay in bed. He came upstairs to rub my back for me before he left for work. As he usually does, he wanted to make sure I ate before he left so he made me a grilled cheese and some ginger ale and chocolate syrup. A few more kisses, and he left. When he got home he picked up right where he left off, making sure I had my next dose of medicine, making sure I ate, making sure I had plenty of fluids and that I was comfortable.

I have never met someone who bends over backwards and then doesn’t complain about it. I have met too many people who will help you, but then turn and around and whine or complain or you end up owing them one. Josh is never like that and that’s one of the million reasons why I love him so much. Unfortunately I needed a second day of recovery so I am home again. Josh works a 16 hour shift today so he left at 3:30 am. He’s been texting me every so often to check on me and make sure I am doing ok. I am the luckiest girl in world to have someone so loving and sweet to take care of me when I’m happy and well and when I’m miserable and sick.

-AB

16 Things Your Bridal Consultant Hates

Aside from working for an IT company, I am also a part-time bridal consultant for David’s Bridal. This is my fun job that I work nights and weekends for extra money. It’s not much, but it helps build my emergency reserve fund that I tend to need more often than I’d like. I worked the closing shift yesterday. I tend to do a lot of closing shifts with my availability. I typically work Tuesday and Thursday nights 6-9:30 pm and the weekends, any shift. during our slow times May-December I work one or two days a week, but during our busy season January-April I can work every available day I have. One of the perks of the job is closing at 7 pm on the weekends. It allows me to continue to have a social life on the weekends. Just kidding. I don’t actually have one of those.

After the day I had yesterday I knew I needed to write this post today. I think every one should be forced to work retail at least once in their life to appreciate what a retail worker goes through. Here are 16 things your bridal consultant absolutely hates, but will never tell you.

  1. When you say “I’m not actually planning on buying today.”
    Bridal consultants work on commission so our time is more valuable than you think. Immediately saying you don’t plan on buying means we know that we are wasting our time. We have a productivity goal that we must reach and if we do not consistently make that goal we can lose our jobs. Fortunately this is a second job for me, but some consultants rely on this job to put food on their table and take care of their families. If you don’t have the right person with you to make the decision today, please wait. If you are trying to get ideas on price, browse our website first. If your wedding is two years away and your starting to get ideas, just wait, these dresses won’t be around when you’re actually looking to buy anyway. Please come in with an open mind and don’t tell us you’re not going to buy.
  2. When you only want dresses with corsets or buttons.
    This might seem like a silly one, but the corsets and buttons are incredibly tedious and take forever. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE buttons and corsets are gorgeous, but we dread the woman who only wants dresses with one or both.
  3. When you walk in half an hour before closing.
    Please do not walk in with half an hour left before closing and expect a full session. Bridal appointments are typically an hour and a half. It make thinks very stressful for your consultant and you. Rushing is not the way you should be buying your bridal gown. This is a big decision and requires time. It will also almost guarantee that the store staff has to stay late to clean up from your visit. After a long day the last thing we want to do is stay any later than we need to.
  4. When you argue with us on size.
    My job is to make sure you look good in your dress. Size is just a number and does not define who you are. David’s Bridal runs small, I’m not just trying to make you feel better so don’t be offended when I tell you that. I do this for a living and I’m really good at it. If I say you are a 10, don’t insist on trying on a 6. You’re only going to frustrate yourself and your consultant.
  5. When you show up with a huge entourage.
    Everyone has an opinion and the more people you bring the more opinions there will be. Leave your brother’s friend’s sister’s cousin home. Does it really matter what they think? Are they paying for the dress? Didn’t think so. As consultants we see this a lot and it never goes well. You will either end up trying on 40 extra dresses you hate, your voice gets lost in the noise, you will leave without a dress or all of the above.
  6. Pinterest.
    Now I am a Pinterest girl through and through. I have a wedding board and spend hours pinning ideas. Coming in saying “I want this one” is not realistic. They are usually $30,000 dresses from Paris shown on a -3 sized photoshopped model. I encourage using Pinterest to find ideas on elements and silhouettes you like. Open back, lace, buttons, corsets, mermaid, ballgown, tulle, satin, etc. Do not come in with a dress and say that is exactly what you want. Odds are we are all going to be disappointed at the end of the appointment. As long as you understand you will never find a Pinterest gown we will be ok.
  7. Say Yes To The Dress.
    Again, I am a HUGE fan. Just ask Josh. We watch religiously every Sunday morning while he makes breakfast. I am even watching it as I write this. It is a great show but also paints an unrealistic picture about the experience. At David’s Bridal we try to make the day as special as possible but we do not have Monty or Randy, we don’t have large beautiful dressing rooms,  there are no camera crews, I don’t have thousands of dresses, there are no comfy couches, it can be a little crowded at times and I may have to help multiple people at the same time. I will do my best to make the experience everything you could hope for but please do not come in thinking you will be starring in the next episode of Say Yes To the Dress.
  8. When you are closed-minded. 
    Probably 9 times out of 10 my bride’s walk out with something they never thought they would get. You will come in with a slew of ideas on what you want but that usually changes once you see it on yourself. Things look great on photoshopped models. When you immediately come in and say you will NOT try on anything with_____, and start listing different elements, you really start to limit the options I have for you. With brides that know what they want (or think they do) I will start with their picks. My job is to watch your body language, listen to the things you say you like that the ones you don’t like and build you the perfect dress. I am limited by the dresses I have in my showroom. If I could run in the back and whip up a custom dress for you I would, but I can’t. Be open-minded. I do this for a living and I’ve been told I’m really good at my job. Try on something you normally wouldn’t try. I can almost guarantee that you will be pleasantly surprised.
  9. When you let someone tell you what to do or what to get.
    Who’s wearing the dress? Who’s day is it? Who needs to be comfortable in it? You. Not mom, not dad, not your bridemaids, maid of honor, sister, brother, friends, cousins, aunts, grandparents, cousins’ friend’s brother’s mother’s dog. You do. Make sure you are happy. I know the opinions of your friends and family matter, but in the end you need to love it.
  10. When you have an unrealistic budget.
    Having a beer budget and champagne taste always causes issues. It is ok to have a small budget, just please understand that you cannot get a $1,000 look for $200. Sometimes we will have a kickass sale and you may get lucky, but probably not. We have some great options to help afford a higher priced dress like the David’s Bridal Credit Card with 6 or 12 months of no interest, layaway and special order reserve. Consider your options. You will look back on these wedding photos for the rest of your life, make sure you get the dress you really want. I’ve even had brides cut back on centerpieces or other parts of the wedding to get the dress they want. We will do our best to work with any budget we are given but sometimes its unrealistic based on what you are asking for in a dress.
  11. When you come in less than 6 months before your wedding.
    We work miracles everyday, but sometimes we are limited to what we can do. That includes ordering a dress. Unfortunately some dresses are cut to order and can take 27 weeks to come in. Alterations need to be done at least 2 months before the wedding so you cut your time by that much right off the bat. Some people choose to buy a sample dress which is fine, but having a nice new dress is definitely better. I’ve fitted brides for a dress with two hours to the “I dos.” Some days my team just rocks. But when you fall in love with dresses I can’t get delivered in time everyone is disappointed. Don’t wait! You should be picking your dress out at least 1 year in advance. I might sound like such a long time but it really isn’t if you fall in love with a cut to order dress. Same goes for bridesmaids. These dresses can take even longer to come in than wedding gowns so order those asap too.
  12. When you and your family start pulling a million dresses off the racks.
    I like to let my brides look through the racks themselves. David’s Bridal does not recommend it for this very reason. If you have 3 other people with you and they all pull gowns, between you, me and all of them you might have 15-20 dresses. Statistics show that brides who try on five or few dresses are much more satisfied. The experience can be overwhelming to start, so trying on 15-20 dresses can make things much more confusing. Anytime the family pulls dresses, they also pull the wrong sizes or dresses out of price range. So go ahead and look. If you see one or two you absolutely love, that’s great, otherwise please let your consultant pull them.
  13. When you bring children that can’t behave.
    I’m sure any retail associate will agree with me on this one. I understand that sometimes you can’t get a babysitter, or you want to also fit the flower girl, but bored children can be the worst. I’ve had children knock over racks and mannequins, run face first into the mirrors, fall off the platforms, break things, knock over chairs, trip people, step on dresses and give the consultants and other customers one hell of a headache. If your children can’t behave for an hour and a half, please do not bring them with you. The bride should be the center of attention during the appointment, and children will take that away. It is incredibly hard to make such an important decision when you are too busy wrangling and roping children. Sometimes we have some great kids in there. Give them an iPad and they are set for hours. Sadly, most kids are little hell raisers and ruin appointments.
  14. When come in as a self-proclaimed “Bridezilla.”
    There is nothing funny or amusing about that. The bridal consultants, your family and your friends are not your slaves or your punching bags. We are here to help you and support you so do not be rude, nasty and demanding. Without my help and theirs you probably wouldn’t be having such a special day. Be nice, please.
  15. When you have no idea what you want.
    It is ok to come in and say you are not sure what you want, but please have some sort of ideas on stuff you might like to try. We need a place to start. Brides who have 0 ideas are just as bad as brides who have too many ideas. Give us just a little bit of help.
  16. The know-it-all friend or family member.
    There is usually always one person in the group that thinks they know everything there is to know about wedding gowns. They are usually the ones rattling off the types of fabrics, silhouettes, grabbing veils, sashes, accessories and shoes. On the incredibly rare occasion they actually know what they are talking about, but usually they are wrong about everything. They are pulling veils that don’t match, putting sashes on dresses that shouldn’t have them, and just spouting of things that don’t make sense. A good consultant will be nice and let them talk nd do but always make the right recommendation without offending anyone.

I have had some of the most amazing brides, and some of the worst. If you and your entourage are nice, fun and understand you are the center of attention I will go above and beyond to make sure you have the most amazing bridal appointment. I will do everything in my power to make sure you walk out of there with a beautiful dress and a big smile. I am a bridal consultant because I love it, not because I need the money. I genuinely want you to find the perfect dress, whether or not that is at David’s Bridal. I will not try to talk you in to something because I will make more money, I talk everything very personal and if I can’t make you happy I will be disappointed in myself. For those of you that are going to be wedding dress shopping soon or anytime in the future, whether as a bride, bridesmaid or supporter, please take into consideration your bridal consultant and her time as well as yours.

Recipe: 3 Ingredient Nutella Brownies

As I was trolling Facebook last night I found a Buzzfeed video on 3 ingredient Nutella brownies. Um yes please! Who doesn’t love a nice warm, fudgey, gooey brownies on a cool fall night. Considering it was almost 10 o’clock at night and god forbid I disturb Mara’s beauty sleep on Josh’s pillow, I vowed to make it today. Usually I have this huge problem with following through on things I promise myself I’m going to do. Usually my thoughts range from “it wasn’t important anyway” to “I need to make sure I’m well rested so I can procrastinate again tomorrow.” This time I stuck to my guns and hit the kitchen right after work. Just kidding. I moved my furniture back into place, played with the dog, talked to my neighbor, tried to make a few excuses and then got my butt into the kitchen.

So the recipe stands as this:

1/2 cup of flour
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups of Nutella

Mix well, pour into a greased pan and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Nutella BrowniesSince Josh lives the primal lifestyle I decided I wanted him to be able to enjoy brownies for the first time in god knows how long. I took the original recipe and changed things up just a little bit. First, I substituted the regular flour for coconut flour. Because coconut flour is very different from regular flour a 1:1 substitution wasn’t going to work. If I did a 1:1 sub I would have had brownies drier than the Sahara desert. Rule of thumb is the substitute half of the called measurement. Since this recipe called for 1/2 cup of regular flour, I did 1/4 cup of coconut flour. My second adjustment was adding two extra egg to make sure the brownies would be nice and moist. Coconut flour is extremely dry, so usually recipes using coconut flour require a lot of extra moisture from other ingredients. Eggs are commonly used to achieve this. For this particular recipe, the Nutella also has a lot of oil in it that helps the extra eggs.

My recommendation to make this a primal friendly 3 ingredient Nutella brownie:

1/4 cup of coconut flour
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups of Nutella

Mix well, pour into a greased pan and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Hot tips:

  • Don’t be afraid to “over mix” as coconut flour doesn’t have the same issues regular flour does. It’s actually necessary for smooth, non-clumpy batter.
  • Don’t overcook. Coconut flour is extremely dry already so over cooking will kill the brownies.

Nutella Brownies

I guess you can argue that mine aren’t exactly 3 ingredients because I also added chocolate chips. I mean, what’s better than chocolate? More chocolate! I find that they are not a sweet as regular brownies, but they are still good. They seem to be more bitter like a 85% dark cocoa chocolate. Josh said to him they are sweet. I guess it depends on the person’s taste. All I know is they passed the Josh taste test AND the Eric taste test so I’d say these are definitely a win.

-AB