Saturday, December 31, 2011

this was plan b for the holiday card

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Love Annie and Victor,

Who felt awkward in the making of this greeting card.
But luckily we were in Times Square, where nobody judges.

Are you getting a New Year's kiss? Now that I'm married, it's not that big of a deal anymore. Oh well.
Love you all. See you in 2012.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Best of 2011

2011 was a great year---one that I will always remember. It was also my first entire calendar year of blogging, so I have it all documented here! Let's look back, shall we? Presenting one year in the life of Andrea/Annie Ostler/Castro. (My name has changed a lot this year as well, apparently)

In January I announced my engagement to the interweb: everyone was so sweet and supportive. That's a great way to start the year! We both had to go back to school, and then I visited him in NYC where we saw Mary Poppins with my new fiance's sister.
i'm still in love with this sparkle

February was ok, but winters at BYU are rough. Good thing we had Jimmer to cheer us up. I also visited fiance in NYC again: obsessed much?
eurotrash 2011

March involved lots of wedding planning, lots of school, and some fun on the side with my besties. I got to present my senior capstone paper at an English symposium at BYU, which made me feel like a real scholar. That was fun.  My fiance came for spring break, and we took engagement photos. It was tricky to get nice pictures when it's so ugly in March, but somehow we made it work!

We also planned on running a half marathon in Moab, but chickened out and ran the five mile race, except for my hard-core bestie, Kimmy. I had never been to Moab, so that was sweet.

In April, I finally bought a wedding dress, and, of course, did more wedding planning. Fiance came to Utah again to see me fake-graduate from college, and we also took bridals/groomals in St. George. We got to go to Zion's Nat'l Park (one of my fav places on the planet), and hang out with my sister. And the weather was wonderful. I also started my very last school term as an undergrad, which was very exciting.

May was mostly stressful and emotional: you know, the typical bride stuff. But I got to meet Tim Gunn, so that made it better. And then, me and my parents went to Annapolis together to see my homie graduate. It was a really, really good weekend. And what made it even better is that for the first time in a year of long distance dating, there were no more good-byes, because Victor came back to Utah with me to get ready for the wedding.

Oh, June. You were the best month of them all!! We went to St. George again and visit my old stomping grounds at Tuacahn.

photo used without permission from Sarah

And then, I finished school for real. The night of my last final was the night of my rehearsal dinner, which was such a wonderful night. It calmed me down after so much school and wedding stress, and at that point I realized that all the planning was over, and it was just time to sit back and take in every minute.

My wedding day was such a happy day. It was full of my favorite people, beautiful weather, and a brand new husband.

We then spent one wonderful honeymoon week in the Dominican Republic and it wasn't enough. I can't wait to go back. Then we finished the month moving to the land of Virginia.

July was one hot month on the east coast. We headed back to NYC for the 4th of July and saw "Anything Goes" on broadway. We also walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. We had lots of fun that month. It included my parents visiting for a day, celebrating my b-day in D.C. with friends, and then celebrating Victor's birthday in beautiful Williamsburg.

The rest of the summer involved exploring Washington D.C., going to Civil War reenactments, crafting, decorating my apartment, and enduring a hurricane.  We celebrated Labor Day in NYC, of course. It's the best! We saw "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" with Daniel Radcliffe, aka Harry Potter, and we loved it.

My friend Lindsay came at the end of September and it was so fun showing her around. And right after that, my parents came. It was awesome.

In October/November, I went to Arizona to see my other sister, and we had a great time. I got to see my first mission companion, and we also went to see Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home, Taliesin West. During all of this, my poor hubby was camping out in the woods.

November in Virginia was beautiful. The fall colors were so pretty. And we went to the Marine Corps Birthday Ball and explored Richmond. We also went out of town for Thanksgiving, guessed it, NYC! Our good friends Megan and Alicia came with us, and we also met up with Victor's bestie Zach and his girlfriend, who both came down from Boston. It was a fabulous weekend, and my husband got some much needed rest from work.

December kicked off with Christmas parties and holiday decorating, and Victor had to endure one week in the woods (I re-read The Hunger Games during this time and imagined Victor's time in the woods to be something like this: hungry, tired, and war---minus all the killing) before we could finally head off to Utah for Christmas!
christmas pajama party

If you made it through this post, good job. I really enjoyed putting all of this together, because it was a great way to remember all the awesome things that have happened this year, and all the great people they happened with. I have a pretty wonderful life. I'm so thankful for all the experiences I have had this year, and for all the things I've learned. Thanks for being a part of it.

Let's see what next year brings!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

you can't be taken seriously as a married couple without a christmas card, so says sarah

Sarah Holden guilted me into making a Christmas card.

I made this card without the approval of my husband, since he was camping in the woods. I really don't think this photo would have been his first choice!

That being said, we hope you have a wonderful Christmas. We love you all! Thanks for being our friends!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

my favorites tubes of 2011

I rarely, if ever, post a bunch of youtube videos in one post on my blog. You're in for a treat. In my opinion, these were the best youtube videos of 2011. Feel free to share what your favorites were. After all, exchanging youtube videos is one of my favorite past-times!

Oh, Adele. How amazing would she be in concert---not only that, but in Royal Albert Hall?? Awesome.

I would put this video, which is hilarious, but it actually came out last year. So this one takes the spot instead. It's pretty dang accurate. So funny.

Those brits always have the best youtube videos. Case in point: Charlie! This is another one. Don't watch unless you want Super Bass stuck in your head all day.

I love the caption for this one: Ain't no party like a Pyongyang party, 'cause a Pyongyang party is ABSOLUTELY MANDATORY! This video is comical and sad at the same time.

This one is great. A sweet explanation of the Book of Mormon.

And the winner in my book is this one. Classic. Especially the last minute and a half. (The Christmas one is pretty funny too)

There are still 17 days left of the year, so there might still be some more epic youtube videos. If there are, return and report.

Love, Annie

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Adventures in Dyeing

A few months ago, I bought this little dress during one of my thrifting outings with Holli. I loved a lot of things about this dress, but the color was NOT one of them! I just couldn't see myself wearing this silly pepto bismol pink.

Then Holli had a brilliant idea. Dyeing!

We met up yesterday to embark on this new adventure. I dyed this dress, and Holli dyed a pair of jeans.  We were very meticulous because we didn't want to screw up, but dyeing is actually pretty easy. I was most worried about how the color would mix with the pink.
But, I was pleasantly surprised with the turn out. A nice red/burnt orange, which I think is great for all seasons.

Here is the finished product! (the belt and shoes are Holli's--cute huh?)
i hope my white legs don't blind you
A close up of the pattern:
Now that I've learned that dyeing really isn't that hard, it really opens up ways to change up my wardrobe, or a way to fix up some thrifting finds that I may not be crazy about. And it only cost like 2 bucks, so it was worth it.

I am very pleased. The end!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

utah to-do list

food to eat:
sweet tooth fairy
the pie
midget hot chocolate
my favorite greek place in st. george
chinese hot pot and dumplings

people to see:
kelsy, kimmy, grimmius, tawnya, shelley
my family, duh!
and anyone else who is going to still be in utah. text me!

things to buy:
root-beer extract for these yummy cookies I want to make. I can't find it anywhere here. Are we not in America???

play and snuggle with:
my sister's dog.

chores to do:
legally change my name. what's in a name anyway? but husband really wants me to, so I guess I will.

Am I forgetting anything? Did I mention that I can't wait? The countdown has begun: 6 days!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

useless picture series

You know those photos that you love for some reason, but that you'll never really do anything with, because they're basically useless? here is one of them.
The reason why I love this picture is because I really like the way the back of my hair looked that day. How's that for shallow. But what good is a picture of the back of my head??

Also, that's Toni Morrison in the picture---that is another reason why I like this useless photo. I got to meet her! But she didn't have time to take an "official" photo---thus the useless back of the head picture.

Here's another one I came across the other day
I'm going to be shallow again. I look at this picture and go, "man, my hair and rear end looked good!" Don't tell me you don't do this either with pictures of yourself. I just love this side shot of my dress huggin' my bum, so sue me. But my face looks silly, and Victor's kind of does too. So what can we do with this picture? Nothing, I'm afraid. Just look at it years down the road and admire my young figure.

Anyway, thanks for indulging me. If you have any photos like this you should share.
Happy weekend!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Watching the Kardashians makes me feel better about my own relationships

The fact that the Kardashian family is cashing in on letting millions of people watch Kim's marriage fall apart on national tv is pretty sad. But it's good for something. It's teaching me and confirming to me how to handle my relationships. First and foremost with my husband, but also with my family. It's kind of like a weekly therapy session of what not to do.

Case in point:

If you didn't feel like watching it, I understand. Here's the 2 minute video shortened into less than 100 words: Kim calls her sister a nasty troll b**** who has no respect for her and is just jealous of her life: all because said sister wakes her up early to say goodbye. Other sister says that Kim is just pissed because she is married to a barking dog.  Wow. Even if this is all just made up for tv, why not make it something actually worth getting mad about? (The barking dog comment was kind of funny, though)

Anyway, you can judge me for watching this crap. I judge myself. But it reminds me that treating people like this is not cool. And it makes me appreciate my own siblings for never being this ridiculous, even in our worst fights. This weekend, me and my husband got into a couple of different argument sessions. Looking back, they mostly originated in the fact that I was being tired and impatient, but that's besides the point. I have only been married shy of six months, so I'm no marriage expert, but as I watch this show, it confirms to me that "oh, yeah, that's NOT the way to handle this kind of situation with your spouse," and "ok, I'm on the right track with my husband."

Before the weekend was over, we had pretty much resolved our little spats. Victor doesn't hold grudges, but I'm a girl, and so sometimes I tend to take longer to get over things. But as I watched my weekly dosage of the Kardashian/Humphries marriage mess with my sleeping husband next to me, I went to bed feeling much more content about my life. Content that even though fights and arguments happen, I'm learning how to deal with them in a relatively mature way. Also content to have a different view on marriage and family than most of the world, which makes it worth working on and fighting for. And content that my husband believes in the same thing.

And content that he's not a barking dog. Poor Kris Humphries, bless his heart.

Monday, December 5, 2011

that time I drove across the state for a concert

I haven't been to a concert in a looong time. And it's sad, because I used to go to concerts all the time. But the truth is, there's not much around here, and when there is something like up in D.C. or something, it's always too expensive.

So when I got an email from Ingrid Michaelson Friday morning (ok, it probably wasn't from her personally, but her name is in the sender line, so I like to think that is was---like we're real friends or something) that she was performing at James Madison University in Virginia that night, I immediately looked it up to see how far away it was: approximately 100 miles away. Dang. Victor probably won't even get home from work before the concert starts, I thought.

But what if he did? My mind started evaluating the possible scenarios. At least a two hour drive for a concert? That's silly. But it's Ingrid!! You've seen her before and you know how happy she makes you! Ok, if Victor gets home by five, it's meant to be.

And then a Christmas miracle happened. Victor got home at 4:45. And being the wonderful husband that he is, he agreed to come with me even though he was tired from waking up at 5 and he had a headache. I drove us while Victor slept.

The whole drive I was kind of paranoid. What if we get there and it's sold out? Victor would prob be maaad. Or what if we don't have time to get something to eat? Once again, Victor would prob be maaad. Add that to the fact that the drive was dark and creepy because there was no freeway attaching point A to point B. I really was scared we would see Sasquatch. Or a murderer. Or, more realistically, that we would hit a deer.
But we made it. We hardly had time to eat some chik-fil-a and unfortunately no time to get the poor husband some aspirin. But Ingrid was wonderful. She puts on great show and makes you feel like you're long time friends. Those are the best kind of concerts.

The moral of the story is that it was so nice being there with my husband. Because we dated long distance, he never came to any concert with me. So being able to listen to Ingrid sing about love and friendship in her catchy Ingrid way next to the guy who I always thought about when I heard those songs originally was great. (Except I felt like a failure when she sang, "if your head is achey, I'll make it better," considering I was in too much of a hurry to get to the concert than to get the poor guy some aspirin for his headache. I hope he forgives me for that.)

And note to self--make sure to make that drive again in the spring when the sun is up. Because it looked like it was gorgeous. And I really want to see the Shenandoah National Park when it's not pitch black.

Anyway, I love Ingrid. And my husband. And you too.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Thanksgiving highlights, a week late

The night before Thanksgiving, we went out to a club in Jersey to see some of Victor's friends. And SERIOUSLY, it was a scene straight out of Jersey Shore. Me and my friend Megan were the whitest girls there: Megan stood out even more because she has blond hair and fair skin. Good times! Unfortunately, there is no photographic evidence.

On Thanksgiving, we took a stroll at Liberty State Park. The weather was incredibly beautiful.

On Friday, we headed into the city to go to the Manhattan temple, and it was nuts (the city, that is. the temple was wonderful). We decided to drive since we were short on time, but consequently had to face the parking nightmare. But other Friday highlights included: the sunshine, the food in Little Italy, hot dogs and papaya juice, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, cheesecake at Juniors, and a late night showing of the Radio City Rockettes. Basically, seeing the Rockettes was the movie "Annie" coming to life for me, so that was pretty sweet. And who would have thought that watching girls kick up their legs and synchronize their walking would be so inspiring?!

Radio City Music Hall is legit. That's a live organ player before the show.

And Saturday involved pizza in Hoboken, and a swell time at the Romanian restaurant in Queens. And now I'm just realizing that most of these highlights were food.

Sunday was a massive mess in traffic. It took us twice the amount of time that it usually does to get home. That wasn't fun. Dressing up my husband helped to pass the time.

The fact that he doesn't get annoyed by me is something that I will never understand.

The end!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How to decorate for Christmas on a budget

This year I finally get to decorate my own place how I want for Christmas, and this year I am also a poor newlywed. The more money I spend to decorate is less money to buy gifts for people, so therefore, the decorating had to be done for cheap. It also helps that my apartment is small, so there's not much space to decorate! Anyway, here are some tips and ideas.

--Paper snowflakes. These are my favorite! I love cutting snowflakes, so it was more fun than it was tedious. And I think they just look so pretty. You may think they look like an elementary school class, but I disagree. And the cost: FREE.
 Also, I thought about putting a garland on the curtain rod, but they were like $20! The ribbon was one dolla.

--The front door: I love Christmas wreaths, but all the good looking ones were starting at like $30. I thought about making my own, but even that would have cost a minimum of 15. So I decided to decorate my door with this big big bow. What else could I use a bow that big for? So this look cost me like $8.
Simple, but festive!

Then the rest of the stuff is stuff I already had, with the exception of the Christmas tree, the darling winter pillow from Homegoods (a splurge compared to how much I spent on the other stuff), the lanterns from Ikea, and the placemats and ornaments on the table. The ornaments were $3 from the dollar store. Oh, and the kitchen tins are from Ikea. I like the international Santas.
btw, I finally got something for the entryway instead of the mini fridge! 

My nativity scenes: on the left is the one from the Dominican Republic, and the other two are from Romania. The table runner is also from Romania. Love.

So, I really wanted these little Christmas trees from Ikea that looked like these felt cut out placemats. I saw them way back in October but didn't buy them because I thought it was nonsense to buy Christmas decorations in October. Well, I have learned my lesson. So I settled for the lanterns instead.

Anyway, let the Christmas season begin!

Monday, November 28, 2011

conversations with my husband

scene: in the car selecting music for the long drive

me: "I thought you would want to listen to the children's songbook (the songs we play in nursery) since you don't know any of them and you need to learn."
husband: "whenever I listen to those songs now, I'll only get stressed out. I only think, "hey [so and so], don't hit and push! [so and so], quit digging in the garbage!, [so and so], leave the lights on!"
*names have been removed to protect the innocent

scene: 2:30am, saying a prayer together after a very long (and fun) day in the citay (new york city)

husband: "we're grateful for the wonderful weather and food."
amen! Have I mentioned how amazing the food is in Little Italy?!

scene: the night before leaving for NYC for Thanksgiving
me: "Victor, this time we go to your mom's you need to help a little more. You always end up chilling while your mom cooks for you all day in the kitchen."
husband: "But I like being pampered by my mom. And I'm pretty sure she likes pampering me too."

And pamper him, she did.
It was a great Thanksgiving weekend.
victor's step-dad cuttin' the turkey
victor cuttin' his piece of the turkey

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The month of gratitude: A Love Story

image from here

It was three years ago this week that I met the boy that would become my husband. And now as I contemplate this first Thanksgiving as a married woman, I can't help but think about that Thanksgiving week three years ago, and how much has changed since then.

I had just arrived in Romania as a missionary and had no clue what I was doing. I was tired and jet-lagged, and after being assigned a trainer and a city that I would go to after I took care of some visa stuff, I found myself at the home of a member in Bucharest for dinner . Tons of other missionaries were there, all of them were there for a good meal, as well as some socializing, before heading back to various parts of the country later that evening.

One elder sitting by me said, "hey! I'm your district leader and we're going to be in Cluj together!" I smiled and nodded, but quickly disregarded it because I was too much in a haze to register what he meant. Then the time came to eat: a traditional Romanian meal that I would later come to appreciate, but at the time, my queezy stomach could not handle it. I was so worried because I didn't want to offend my hostess--but there was no way I was going to eat that greasy sarmale.

Then that same elder came to my rescue. He willingly volunteered to eat ALL of my sarmale. I thought he was being so noble! So heroic to help me! I didn't realize at the time that this is just how he is ALL of the time. He eats like a horse. And he has been my personal garbage disposal ever since. Doesn't that sound so romantic.

My other first thoughts about him went something like this: "your name is Castro? Hmm, just like Fidel."
one of our first photos together. castro is the one on the left.

Yep, that was about it. Like I said, I was really out of it. But I came to know this Elder Castro over the next eight months, and it was a unique situation because I wasn't in Romania to have any love interests. Therefore, I simply was myself with my fellow missionaries. I wasn't trying to woo them and I wasn't self-conscious of whether I was showing only my "good" qualities. When Elder Castro did something that irritated me, he knew it!

The months went by, and we were friends, if you can call it that. It was kind of a love hate relationship. When I still had eight months left in Romania, he went home and began to live a normal, non-missionary life, and once in a while I would hear from him. One day he sent me a letter telling me that he kind of liked me, and he kind of wanted to see if there was something between us. He wanted to invite me to come to his fancy schmancy Naval Academy dance, and hey, while I was in the area, why don't we go see the Broadway revival of South Pacific? That sneaky guy. He knew I just couldn't resist two of my favorite things: NYC, and Rogers and Hammerstein!

I was hesitant. I had a few reservations about it, but I think deep down I knew I would end up going. And I knew that perhaps it really might go somewhere.

So I went, and from the get go, I knew that this relationship was going to be different from any of my others. He knew exactly what he was signing up for. He already knew me: the good, the bad, the ugly! And yet he was still interested. It was so nice starting in a relationship where I wasn't worrying if he would still like me after finding out just how spazzy and ridiculous I can be sometimes. It was oh so nice to just be myself and be loved. And it's still like that. Honestly, that's my favorite part of it all.

our first dates

It was also one year ago this week that this same "Elder Castro" was asking my parents for permission to marry me. So considering all that has happened, I can't help but be grateful at this time of year for the relationship that has changed my life and for what a great year it has been.

Happy Thanksgiving!