Snippet of conversation between me and a random woman after she took our picture in front of the Bodie Island Lighthouse on Sunday at 2:00:
Me: Thanks so much! Now we have a picture in front of all four of the Outer Banks lighthouses!
Random Philly Lady: Oh man! We didn’t have time to do all that! We were only here a week! How long have you guys been here?
Me: Since Friday.

That just about sums up our Outer Banks experience: we were busy! We left our quaint, oceanfront hotel in the morning and crawled into bed at night. Other than that, we didn’t see it. We also spent zero time on towels laying in the sand. There wasn’t even sitting in the sand! We did, however, do some standing in the sand. We’ve decided that the next time we go, we’ll definitely roll out our beach towels, slap on some sunscreen and do some relaxing. But this trip was all about seeing and doing, and we did a lot!

For those of you unfamiliar with the enchanting Outer Banks of North Carolina, I’ll attach some links…
On Friday we arrived around 1:00, went to the Wright Brothers Memorial, drove up to Corolla and went to the top of the Currituck Lighthouse, got some of the tastiest fudge I’ve ever had (my treat for overcoming my fears and climbing to the top of the lighthouse), ate dinner on the sound and watched the sunset, went to Jocky’s Ridge State Park, then went to the hotel, sat on the balcony and struggled to stay awake.

On Saturday I set the alarm to wake-up before sunset, hoping to see something gorgeous, and it was totally boring and uneventful. And we snapped a few photos and quickly went back to bed. Our trip for the day involved driving the length of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, hopping on a ferry to Ocracroke Island, renting bikes and peddling all around the village, hopping back on the ferry, stopping at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and park, driving back up the Seashore, peeking in fun little shops, then moseying on back to our room.

Sunday – the day of rest – was our most uneventful day of the trip. We shopped in the outlet malls – yay J. Crew at the beach! – drove down to the head of Pea Island to watch some massive waves, stopped at the under-renovation Bodie Island Light Station, and headed back to Raleigh.

See, jam-packed with goodness! Okay, so, I’ve decided I’ll never climb another lighthouse, and Allan’s hoping that by the time we get back to the Outer Banks, I’ll have forgotten how TERRIFIED I was at Currituck and want to climb Hatteras. Um, I don’t think so. The open stairs are too much for me to handle.

Riding bikes all over Ocracoke Village was such a treat! I haven’t ridden a bike since I was like 10 years old – it’s true, apparently you never forget! – and it was such a carefree experience. I think I had a silly smile plastered to my face the entire time. It was similar to being at Jockey’s Ridge – it was so much fun running up and down massive sand dunes. I felt like a kid again, which was a welcome feeling in my super-stressful life.

And no matter how many pictures I tried to take yesterday, I couldn’t capture the size, strength or amount of waves battering the islands. There are two hurricanes churning in the Atlantic, and although neither are anywhere near North Carolina (yet), they’re already affecting the waves. In Nags Head, where we stayed, there were bright red NO SWIMMING signs all over the beach. They were so big and relentless, multiple waves cresting and slamming into each other continuously. I’m used to seeing one, maybe two, at a time. But this was like 10 or 12 at once. Completely crazy and mesmerizing. We kept saying, ok, after this batch, we’ll leave. But we stood at the edge of Pea Island for probably 30 minutes watching the waves roll and crash.

As we were leaving, I had to fight back tears. I’m so stressed out, Internet, I can’t even put it into words. And being there, I had no stress. I had salty air, big, beautiful waves, sunshine and my best friend. It was really wonderful and peaceful and I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to come home to the sometimes sucky reality of my life.

But now it’s crunch time! So much still to do for the wedding – little things, but lots of ‘em! – so little time. Allan and I are both ready to get this whole she-bang done and over with. We’re ready to be married with our wedding a distant and happy memory.

Wedding Countdown: 19 days

It’s raining like a son of a bean today. Constant, steady, heavy rain. The temperatures are hovering in the 70′s with high humidity. It’s really crappy. And I’m terrified that this is what my wedding day is going to be like. I’m getting married outside in a garden, so beautiful (decent, even) weather is mandatory for a successful event. If you haven’t noticed, I have terrible, awful, craptastic luck. At one point during this wedding planning process, my friend Kate said: Allie! You officially have the worst luck ever! So today, the day of our final venue walk-through with our wedding planner AND coordinator (yeah, I have both… but they were buy one get one free!), I’m going to experience my wedding nightmare. Unless, of course, we reschedule for a non-rain soaked day. Unfortunately I don’t have that option for the wedding itself.

So, Internet, and all users of it, please keep your fingers, toes and whatever else you can think of crossed for a day of nice weather in Raleigh on September 18, okay?

Last night Allan and I filled-out our DJ’s form. Which song do you want for this, which song do you want for that? I thought it’d take us maybe 20 minutes. But no, it took us close to two hours. And we ended up with the songs I originally suggested – we made a total loop around cheezy and tacky music to get back to where we started. We decided to actually dance to our first dance song in the bedroom. You know, give it a whirl and see if the rhythm worked for us. It worked and I ended up stepping all over Allan’s toes, which he assured me was fine because on the day of the wedding, he’ll be wearing shoes.

I’ll be able to submit my form to the DJ once I get the info from my dad that he’s been keeping a secret since August, when we got engaged: the father/daughter dance song. I think his evasiveness is kind of touching and cute.

In other news, I baked a cake yesterday, which is something I haven’t attempted since my teenage years when I tried to make my dad his birthday cake. My mother said it looked like a ski slope. But yesterday’s attempt was successful! Allan was very surprised by how well it turned out and I didn’t know whether to laugh or be offended. Like, seriously, you’re surprised? I cook meals for you five days a week and you’re surprised I can make something as simple as a Betty Crocker cake? (but I was kinda surprised, too…)

I also went to the gym yesterday (the cake and the gym cancel each other out, you see. it might not be the case in real life, but that’s how it works in my little world) to exercise and balance out my tan. I have awful tan lines right now. Like, hello! I’m Farmer Allie! They’re bad. My gym is awesome in that it has classes, machines AND tanning beds I get to use fo free anytime I want. But when I go in there to use the beds (I tan pre-workout), I feel bad about myself. I want to be like, yes, I know I’m putting myself in an ultraviolet tube and I’m running the risk of getting cancer and my skin falling off. I know, I know. But I have a farmer’s tan and a strapless wedding dress and you see the dilemma, don’t you? I’m trading a few minutes in the tube for a lifetime of no regrets when looking at those pictures. So you’re not going to judge me, right?

Wedding Countdown: 25 days

I’m on a Killers/Brandon Flowers kick right now. While in Virginia Beach (this is going to be a Virginia Beach centric post, you’ll see) we were driving around and I heard this song on the radio. I was completely mesmerized and waited and hoped the station would say the song they just played. And they did! And it was Brandon Flowers! And I was like, “Hey! It’s the guy from The Killers! I love the Killers!” I kinda forgot about it, and then it popped into my head yesterday and I’m currently obsessed.

The Killers (apparently BF writes all their songs) have some of my favorite songs; I love the lyrics and the unexpected sounds their instruments make. It’s not what you typically hear on the radio. Mr. Brightside. All These Things That I’ve Done. And one of my all-time, top 20 EVER favorites, Read My Mind.

So, anyway, back to Virginia Beach. While there, Allan and I were celebrating one year of being engaged, so we went out to a nice dinner, had a great date, then went to The Melting Pot for dessert. Mmmm… chocolate covered bananas! But I digress… In the madness that overtook that week (was the week we had to officially change wedding venues), I forgot to pack a nice little dress to wear. So while driving back from a soccer game, we passed a Ross Dress for Less and I requested to go in so I could buy a cute, cheap little dress for our date. Ross Dress for Less, cheapest of the cheap, right? While in there I found a fantastic, bright orange ruffly dress. Allan was shocked when I came out of the dressing room because I was wearing – gasp! – color! I thought it was fantastic and at $29 it was a little more than I wanted to pay for my quick, cheap dress, but it made me happy so I got it, wore it, and received oodles of compliments from strangers in Virginia Beach.

Which brings me to yesterday. After having lunch with my webmaster extraordinaire, Shel, I roamed around the mall and went into the Saks Fifth Avenue outlet store. I was looking for a gift for someone and thought I might be able to score something great at a super low price. (I don’t call myself Super Shopper Allie for nothing!) While flipping through the racks of Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani, I stumbled across my orange dress. The exact dress I bought at Ross Dress for Less for $29 was on clearance sale for $95. NO JOKE. Sigh. If only you had any idea how happy that made me!

My happiness was abruptly ended by a huge fight with my mother, which came to a close when she hung up on me. My mother and I have been in an ongoing, lifelong war in regard to my appearance. She feels my weight is open for discussion, but it’s not. For example, although I wear a size 10 dress, she suggested I go on diet pills. You know, because I’m obese. And she’s said some nasty things about my wedding dress and the way I look in it after I sent her pictures of my fittings. So yesterday I tried as nicely as I could to tell her to please say nothing but positive things to me on my wedding day so as to not hurt my feelings, and she flew off the handle. Denies being anything but supportive and saying nothing less than that I will look beautiful on my wedding day. I guess she forgot about the time she told the attendant at the bridal boutique that the reason she didn’t like any dress I came out in because I was so fat I was borderline diabetic.

Wedding Countdown: 29 days

Yes, I’ve reached the final countdown until my wedding. In exactly one month – 31 days – I’ll be a married lady. So, to mark the occasion, my Cousin Bob sent me the following video. It’s one of the most ridiculous and amusing things I’ve ever seen, and I’m afraid that every time I think of how many days I have left till the wedding, that music will be swirling around in my head.

Thanks, Cousin Bob!

Something good happened with my wedding! You’re totally shocked, I know! I’m shocked, too! It’s nothing big, but our florist was willing to beat the price of BJ’s for bulk flowers to be used at our reception. See, at the other location, we were able to use candles. Lots and lots of candles. They were going to be the focus of our tables. My mother bought all of them, has NO receipts, and none of them can be used at the new venue. Total bummer. I think it kind of broke her heart. Because I already had a million things going on, I gave her free reign of the tables and she was having a lot of fun with it. But now that we’re at Page-Walker and they don’t allow candles, I’ve decided to just use blue hydrangeas in a simple vase as our centerpieces. When I was explaining all this stuff to the wedding planner – how I didn’t want this, didn’t want that, just fresh flowers on the tables, no bows, no ribbons – she was like, “WOW! You really are going simple, aren’t you??” Yes, I really AM going simple! That’s what happens when you have 90 minutes to set-up for your wedding.

I flip through bridal magazines and see them loaded with tables covered in flowers, frilly table cloths, coordinating menus and dishes and napkins and of course I wish I could have that. But it’s not financially feasible, and even if it was, we simply don’t have time to do it. The tables at Timberlake were going to be a little more ornate, but hey, Page-Walker has toilets! And walls!

At the end of the day, my favorite flowers are going to be on every table and in every bouquet, and that makes me happy.

I woke up at around 4:15 this morning and didn’t fall back asleep until after 7:00. My mind was flooded with wedding-ness, much of it unpleasant. I was trying to crunch numbers, sort out family dramas, deal with emotions, etc… And when Allan’s alarm eventually went off, I rolled over, emotionally vomited all over him, and was finally able to fall back asleep. I guess I just needed to get it out.

So, I have some bad news. Truly sad for me. Painful to reveal. Yes, I’m being overly dramatic, but you have no idea how much I love our Nikon. Our busted little Nikon. The one whose shutter sticks and had to be sent for a five-week journey to Nikon-Land to be repaired. The most sad part? We’re going to the Outer Banks, to one of the most beautiful landscapes in this state – if not the whole country – and all we have are our crappy point and click cameras. The pictures are going to suck and we’re going to look at them and dream of what could have been. Sigh.

Wedding Countdown: One month from today