Sunday, February 26, 2012

The "Lily" in Stephorrine Lily

Celebrating one year since Stephy proposed to Cori 
&
Madison’s 4th birthday!!

Birthday Girl!!

"Let them eat cake!" -Marie Antoinette

During the winter of 2007 and 2008, right as Cori and I were defining our relationship, we decided to adopt a puppy together.  We’ve spent most of our free time engaging in research on reliable breeders, shelters, and proper dog care. During Christmas, we fell in love with a boxer puppy that we named Rylee Noelle. Unfortunately, on February 25th, 2008, our Rylee unexpectedly passed away at age 5 months due to a genetic heart failure. Cori and I were devastated. We remember sitting in our college library and getting the heartbreaking phone call from my mother. We mourned for months following her death. One way we were able to cope with our grief was by holding on to hope that we would eventually adopt another beautiful dog. During our intense research, we found a litter of puppies that were born on February 26th, 2008. We knew, in that instant, that we were meant to have one of those puppies. We felt as if Rylee’s spirit was guiding us and she was part of the litter that was born one day after her departure. We sent e-mails back and forth to the breeder and she would send us pictures, as well as health and development updates every week. We were even invited to visit when the puppies were approximately 3 weeks so we can meet the litter and choose our future baby girl. We traveled 6 hours from my house just to meet her. We knew our puppy was the one when I picked her up and she kissed my nose! On April 26, 2008, when our chosen puppy was 9 weeks of age, we were able to take her home. We decided to name her Madison Lily.  

Madison Lily

5 Fun Facts about Lady Madison Lily:
  1. She enjoys road trips and her favorite place to travel to is the Outer Banks, North Carolina.  
  2. Her favorite trick to perform is BOOM (a.k.a playing dead).
  3. Her favorite toys include tennis balls, Octo-Teddy, Pink Dragon, and Giant Red Snake.
  4. She absolutely enjoys snow, sand, as well as swimming at the beach and hiking.  
  5. She dines on a freeze dried and raw diet, no kibble, and visits a holistic vet every year. 

Newborn Maddy
Choosing our baby at 3 weeks of age
Taking Maddy home at 9 weeks
Loving her new home
Hiking at 1 years old
Beach Bums in Cape Cod
Snuggling with Octo-Teddy

Thinking about adopting a furry friend? Visit Petfinder or Blue Cross (outside the U.S.) for adoption opportunity. Thinking about adopting a pet from a responsible breeder? Make sure you use the following guidelines, which outline best practices for responsible breeders, as advocated by the ASPCA:
  • Screens breeding stock for heritable diseases; removes affected animals from breeding program. Affected animals are altered; may be placed as pets as long as health issues are disclosed to buyers/adopters.
  • Has working knowledge of genetics and generally avoids inbreeding.
  • Removes aggressive animals from breeding program; alters or euthanizes them.
  • Keeps breeding stock healthy and well socialized.
  • Never keeps more dogs or cats than they can provide with the highest level of care, including quality food, clean water, proper shelter from heat or cold, exercise and socialization and professional veterinary care.
  • Bases breeding frequency on mother’s health, age, condition and recuperative abilities.
  • Does not breed extremely young or old animals.
  • Breeds and rears dogs or cats in their home as they are considered part of the family.
  • Ensures neonates are kept clean, warm, fed, vetted and with the mother until weaned; begins socialization of neonates at three weeks of age.
  • Screens and counsels potential guardians; discusses positive and negative aspects of animal/breed.
  • Ensures animals are weaned before placement (eight to ten weeks of age for dogs and cats).
  • Complies with all applicable laws regulating breeders in their jurisdiction.
  • Never sells puppies to a dealer or pet shop.
  • Offers guidance and support to new guardians.
  • Provides an adoption/purchase contract in plain English that spells out breeder’s responsibilities, adopter’s responsibilities, health guarantees and return policy.
  • Provides accurate and reliable health, vaccination and pedigree information.
  • Makes sure pet quality animals are sold on a limited registration (dogs only), spay/neuter contract or are altered before placement.
  • Will take back any animal of their breeding, at any time and for any reason.   

Thank you for reading! xox

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award


We’ve received our first award! Yay!! 

It is such a lovely honor to be nominated for the Versatile Blogger award. Cori and I appreciate all the support from our readers and we are utterly grateful to have met some amazing people. The Versatile Blogger award is our first award, which we received from our wonderful blogger friends, Laura and Sarah, at http://sprezzaturaourway.blogspot.com. Thank you girls!! xox


 So these are the rules...
  1. Nominate 15 fellow bloggers
  2. Inform the bloggers of their nomination.
  3. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
  4. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  5. Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your blog post.  
 And I nominate...
7 Random Facts About Stephanie & Corrine
  1. We love tattoos and we have matching maple leaf tattoos, autumn colored, with the word “HOPE” written on the stem.
  2. We have an entire kitchen cabinet that is devoted to tea.
  3. We own a number of journals and often write poetry.  
  4. We own an obnoxious amount of Glamour Kills shirts and Hollister jeans.
  5. We are obsessed with vegan Thai food.
  6. Our perfect date night would include tickets to an epic rock concert or a Broadway play.
  7. We share a GPS, who we’ve named Cindy, and we often yell at her because she is not very good at her job.

Dates, Themes, and Colors! Oh, My!

The Date... 
Cori and I always wanted to have a fall wedding. Autumn is our favorite season because it symbolizes change and it is just a beautiful time of year, especially in the New England and Tri-State area. The green leaves begin to fade into beautiful colors of red, yellow, and orange and the autumn breeze isn’t too hot or cold. We chose October as our wedding month because it is the start of the foliage and it is also the month of Halloween, which is our favorite Holiday. We then decided to get married on the thirteenth of October for the opportunity to celebrate future anniversaries on Friday the 13th in the month of October. We thought about getting married on Halloween, but we wanted to keep the Holiday separate from our anniversary. Moreover, in the year 2012, Halloween falls on a Wednesday, while the thirteenth falls on as Saturday. We wanted to celebrate our wedding on a weekend because it would be difficult for our friends and families take off from school or work. Lastly, we chose the year 2012 because it gave us approximately 1.5 years, from February 2011, to plan the wedding of our dreams. We were able to reserve vendors early and pay them off without having to worry about so many big bills.  

Autumn Love

The Theme and Colors...
Once a date was chosen, Cori and I had to decide on a theme and colors. First and foremost, we knew that we wanted have an Eco-friendly and animal-friendly wedding. Secondly, we knew we wanted to have an autumn wedding. We were initially torn between getting married in New England or New York. We ultimately decided on a NYC wedding because we felt that it gave us the best of both worlds. We will have our wedding photos captured among the autumn scenery in Central Park and we will share our first married kiss as we overlook the city of Manhattan. Not to mention, Manhattan is and has always been our city. Along with our autumn theme, we decided to incorporate the essence from the Victorian era. I absolutely adore the modishness and sophistication of the Victorian period and Cori developed a passionate appreciation for the feminine qualities of the era. We also found ourselves inspired by Marie Antoinette’s bedroom during our summer trip to Paris and Versaille. Granted, the late queen of France wore her crown during the Georgian era, but both historical periods are fairly similar in feminine elegance.  

Marie Antoinette’s Bedroom
 
As for our colors, we decided to go with pink and red for a few reasons:
  1. We became engaged in the February, the month of Valentine’s Day, in which the Holiday colors are typically red and pink
  2. They are authentically feminine.
  3. Each color represents our chosen theme (Red for autumn and Pink for Victorian).
Cori and I are wearing traditional white dresses and our maids will be wearing our chosen wedding colors. Cori’s maids will be dressed in a raspberry pink, while my maids will be dressed in an apple red. The next step in our wedding planning journey is to choose centerpieces, decorations, and rentals that reflect our wedding theme, which will be decided during the summer. This is where we need the most inspiration. The lovely Emily, creator of the For Real Equality Weddings website, generously offered to design an inspiration board for our wedding. She created a stunning inspiration board that Cori and I found to be flawless and provided us with much needed direction.

Inspiration Board









We love everything from the lace to the teacups, and how the pinks and reds compliment each other. We especially love the vegan/vegetarian menu written on the old glass window! Emily is a wonderful and talented individual. You can visit her HERE and read featured wedding stories, as well as access brilliant ideas for wedding planning!

Inspiration Board Photo Credits
Cupcakes: Nadine's Cakes
Menu Board: Style Me Pretty 
Wedding Cake: Martha Stewart
"Just Married" & Champagne: Martha Stewart
Red Rose On Back Of Chair: The Knot
Happy Tears: Freckled Nest 
Luminaries: Merci 
Gloves: Romantic Rona on Etsy

Monday, February 20, 2012

Religious or Secular Ceremony?

Cori and I spent our long weekend revising our ceremonial draft, which was sent to us by our chosen officiant. There are many significant decisions that need to be made when planning a wedding. Couples need to decide on a venue, a caterer, color schemes, center pieces, wedding attire, and the list goes on and on. Choosing someone to marry us was one of the biggest decisions we had to make thus far, and not just because we are two girls getting married, but because we don’t want to have a religious ceremony or an common ceremony performed by a Justice of the Peace. We knew choosing the right officiant was crucial because he or she will have a colossal influence on the tone of our ceremony.
  
Who will marry us?

I was raised Catholic as decided by my mother. Catholicism, however, was not my only exposure. My father is a non-practicing Protestant and I have a Jewish Godfather. I even have extended family members who practice Paganism. Ever since I was a little girl, I knew Catholicism wasn’t my spiritual destiny. I remember asking my church questions about reincarnation and being told that those thoughts were considered sinful. When I finally turned 13 years old, my mother and I made the deal that as long as I completed my conformation, a Catholic sacrament, then I can explore my own beliefs and spirituality. During my exploration, I discovered that organized religion was something that I did not want in my life. I began to focus more on spirituality and felt a strong connection to the Pagan traditions. 
 
Cori, on the other hand, was only exposed to Catholicism as a child. She recalls being taught Catholic traditions by her strict Catholic grandmother and completing her sacraments. Cori began to question her beliefs upon entering middle school when she began making friends in different religious backgrounds, including Paganism, Jehovah Witness and Atheist. As Cori grew older, she lost interest in organized religion and embarked on her own spiritual journey. She does not currently practice anything specific, but she does have a strong sense of spirituality. Since being together, Cori took a genuine interest in Paganism, but she does not fully practice the tradition on her own.
 
After much discussion, Cori and I decided to search for a humanistic minister. We found, thanks to my lovely Cousin, Ms. Marie April Gismondi who specializes in couple centered wedding ceremonies, which means she will include all the aspects of a traditional ceremony that are important and leave out the things that are not as important. She will perform any kind of ceremony, depending on the needs of the couple, and she is also able to perform ceremonies for same-sex couples. Cori and I learned that when booking vendors, it is crucial to find a photographer and officiant who have experience working with same-sex couples. This is to help avoid awkward posing for pictures and awkward wording during the ceremony.

During our initial meeting with April, Cori and I were asked about our pronouncement preference.  This is a big decision for gay and lesbian couples.  How should the officiant declare a couple at the conclusion of the ceremony? This choice is a blessing more than anything because we are able to have a legal pronouncement due to the mere fact that New York recognizes marriage equality. We were provided with a few ideas:

I now pronounce you...

  •     legally married
  •     lawfully married
  •     partners for life
  •     married partners
  •     husbands/wives to one another
 
Language is a funny thing. While Cori and I were dating, we always referred to each other as “girlfriend” or cute little pet names (i.e. penguin or soulie, which is short for soulmate). We never liked the idea of referring to each other as “partners” because it didn’t seem intimate enough for us. With that being said, we figured that once we were married, I would be her wife and she will be mine. Right before we share our first kiss as a married couple, April will pronounce us as wife and wife. We have nothing against the other choices; it’s just a matter of personal preference.
 
Cori and I chose to have a non-religious ceremony, but there will be a couple Pagan undertones. First, we opted to conclude our ceremony with a traditional hand-fasting, which is a symbolic binding of the hands. Throughout history, in various different parts of the world, the hands of the bride and groom were bound as a sign of their commitment to one another. The cords, which are used to bind the hands, serve as a reminder that all things of the material eventually return to the earth, unlike the bond and the connection that is love, which is eternal and destined to ascend to the heavens. Secondly, Cori and I will have a beautiful, hand-crafted broom placed at the top of the aisle and ask our gusts to tie a ribbon on the handle. As our loved ones tie a ribbon, they are to bestow upon us their best wishes and blessings.

Hand-fasting

Corrine and I are planning to keep some wedding traditions, such personal vows, which we are writing ourselves, and ring vows. We also decided to say our “we dos (our promises to each other) and they are typically preformed directly after the processional. The “we dos” are beautifully honest and really capture the true essence of marriage. The "we dos" will go as follows:

Do you pledge to one another your openness and honesty, that the love for one another shall be in the foreground of your thoughts always, guiding your actions, and that you shall leave no parts of self unknowable to one another?

    Stephanie and Corrine: We do.

Do you pledge to continue to love one another wholly and fearlessly, that you will share each other’s laughter and work together to spark creativity and inspire passion in all aspects of your life together?

    Stephanie and Corrine: We do.

Do you pledge that you will always be there to comfort, soothe, and heal one another, and that you will stand together when the future is unclear, proving that times may change but your love is constant?

    Stephanie and Corrine: We do.

 Do you pledge that your home will always be a place of warmth and welcome, a safe haven and sanctuary to body, mind, and spirit that shall sustain and nourish your roots as you grow into all that is and shall be your life together?

    Stephanie and Corrine: We do.

Another creative twist to our ceremony will be the section where April briefly speaks about the love that Cori and I share. Here is a little excerpt:

    ...They have come a long way since those early days and attribute the success of their relationship to the openness and honesty of their communication, to their desire to always go to one another first with all the large and small happenings and decisions that the day brings, and to their ability to compliment and balance one another. Where Corrine is logical and reasonable, Stephanie has a more whimsical nature. This allows them to dream and to plan, to go and do, and achieve more than either would alone...

We are utterly grateful to have found an officiant who is not only knowledgeable in same-sex marriages, but who also caters to our spiritual values. As an added bonus, she is able to create a customized ceremony that showcases who we are as a couple, allowing our friends and relatives to fully witness, in its entirety, the love that Corrine and I encompass for one another.

Future Wife and Wife

Visit our officiant's site:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Celebration of Love

  Happy Valentine's Day from the wintery streets of New York!


This Valentine's Day is extra wonderful because the state of Washington became the seventh state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriages! On February 13, 2012, Governor Christine Gregoire signed the bill, marking a huge victory for marriage equality. Couples of the LGBT community will be able to marry, legally, in Washington state as early as June 7, 2012. Opponents, however, are already seeking its repeal through the ballots in the November polls,which could put the law on hold pending the outcome. Hopefully, this glorious step towards marriage equality will not be hindered due to close-mindedness and intolerance .
 
On February 13, 2012, Cori and I celebrated our Valentine's Day, as well as our one year since Cori proposed to me at the Aquarium. Even more, this date marked an official eight months until our wedding date! We will be celebrating our one year since I proposed to Cori at Grand Central Station on February 26, 2012, which is also our boxer pup's birthday. So much happiness and celebration filled in a twenty-nine day period!

Corrine and I weren't planning on getting each other "big" gifts because of all of the wedding planning, but we couldn't help ourselves. Cori bought me a piece of jewelery because I am a sucker for anything sparkly and I bought her tickets to an acrobatic show that she's been wanting to see since she's heard about it.

Diamond Tennis Bracelet

Dralion: Cirque Du Soleil

Wishing everyone a day filled with love, happiness, compassion, and kindness, and remember, Valentine's Day is not just for lovers! xoxo

One of our favorite love quotes:

Originally humans were combined of 4 arms, 4 legs, and a single head made of 2 faces, but Zeus feared their power and split them all in half, condemning them to spending their lives searching for the other half to complete them.






Friday, February 10, 2012

Sing You Home: Corrine’s Perspective

Last year, I bought my lovely fiancée a book entitled Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult. Corrine has always been a fan of Jodi Picoult’s writing, but she showed a vast desire to read this particular story because it explores what it means to be gay, lesbian, and bisexual in today's world, as well as what happens when religion and sexual orientation enter the courtroom. What makes this story even more powerful is the notion that Jodi Picoult’s son, Kyle, seventeen years of age at the time, came out to both Jodi and her husband while Jodi was researching and writing her novel, Sing You Home. Corrine is halfway finished with the book and wanted to share her raw thoughts and emotions towards the powerful literature.  

Corrine

Where do I begin when this book has evoked so many different emotions from me? I can’t wait to finish reading while at the same time I don’t want the story to end. Jodi Picoult writes with such realism that her characters are more than characters; they are my friends, my enemies, and my family. Within the story I can see my struggles within my past, present, and future. Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors and not only because she is able to write about the struggles a same sex couple may face or because she is able to write about issues that are easily relatable and congruent with reality, but also because she is able to make her readers, including myself, become emotionally invested in her stories. She makes me angry and she makes me smile, but most importantly, she makes me want to keep reading as if I’m watching it all unfold right in front of my eyes. Jodi Picoult’s writing flows effortlessly and she leaves her story open for interpretation, depending on your own perspective.


I have discussed this book with my best friend, Yvonne, and with my fiancée thus far. Yvonne has read the book and my fiancée plans on reading it as soon as I am finished. Both my best friend and I found ourselves strongly impacted by the story, but in varying ways. Yvonne is in a heterosexual relationship, married for several years, and has been unable to get pregnant. The book had a strong meaning to her due to the infertility issues the main characters had to face. For me, the book had a strong meaning due to the fact that I am in a same sex relationship and facing the possibility of enduring similar struggles. It begins with a struggle to keep the love in a relationship that has lost so much as far as infertility. It continues with a break-up and divorce, and during a dark time there is a light. That light was something I could completely relate to. That light was Zoe, the main character, finding security in a new friend, whom she later falls in love with. The book explores those first feelings of not only falling in love with your best friend, but falling in love with a woman, someone of the same gender, and the ways in which that differs from society’s norm. The book doesn’t exploit same sex relationships or love, but instead, the book embraces it. Jodi Picoult writes about the range of emotions beautifully, from the friendship that develops into a hidden crush to the very first kiss that melts the room away, and to the charming wedding detailed in simplicity. She explores the more private moments of the characters’ lives, as well as the struggles they face in their personal life, their professional lives, and when their lives are dragged through the public eye from a court battle laced with religious propaganda. Minus the court room and I have yet to experience the wedding, I can relate to these feelings, to those struggles.

 
Me and Yvonne

As much as this book shares the story of love, it also explores the adversity that same sex couples may face in their relationships, challenged by those who use their religion or the bible to promote hate. I have both wanted to throw the book and not put it down at the same time because it has made me so angry. One of the main characters, Max, who divorces Zoe, finds himself at the mercy of the Lord as he attempts to recover from alcoholism and his downward spiral lifestyle, which is fueled by the guilt that he couldn’t father a baby or stand by his wife when she was broken from their lose. While Max finds solace within the church, the church uses him as a platform to stand on to promote their message of ‘traditional’ families. I’ve tried to keep my mind open about those who chose to practice religion as long as this practice doesn’t interfere with my life. The characters in the book are purposely designed to bring these interferences to light. The characters are shown quoting the bible and even showcasing a “reformed lesbian” who found her place in God and religion, and was able to cast away the sinful thoughts of wanting to be with the same sex. 

While I enjoyed reading the chapters from Max’s point of view, I can’t help but feel my blood boil when reading such hateful words. Without straying too far from the topic of this book, how can certain religious groups within the Christian faith be so blind when using the bible? These groups choose one passage to follow, lead insupportable protests, as well as televised programs to promote hate against their own brothers and sisters. How can humans carry such hatred towards one another? I’ve heard this quote more times than I can count, “do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; this is detestable.” Conversely, those scriptures that speak of divorce and men’s ownership of women or how those who are not virgins when married should be stoned are not followed. These points are considered barbaric and aged; however, in the land of the free, we are not all free and the home of the brave often make or forces young children to be brave as they are bullied for who they love. Some religious leaders of the Christian faith act as if it is their duty to speak the word of the Lord when they are in fact preying on the weak and manipulating the minds of those who are only looking for guidance. These groups of religious leaders are spreading the word of hate, rather than teaching tolerance, love, and acceptance. If they believed in these three attributes, then they would not feel threatened if same sex couples wish to marry or they would be the frontrunners in lobbying for a marriage equality bill to pass on a state and federal level. I am all for standing up for what your beliefs and values, but I also don’t understand how the love I share with my fiancée can be something to be hated by groups of people that I’ve never even met.
 
Tolerance, Love, and Acceptance

I haven’t finished the book yet, but regardless of the ending, I’d recommend it. The book Sing You Home is a story about love, lost, and fight, which is something I think everyone can relate to and appreciate. Even more, I hope current and future readers will be able find a familiar face in one of the characters as I have and find the strength to allow this story to challenge their emotions, beliefs, and values.

xo Stephorrine Lily

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Engagement Rings: Our Choice

Almost every girl dreams about receiving an engagement ring from her very own Prince Charming. If you are woman who happens to be in love with another woman, then your dream involves a Cinderella.


A Fairytale Moment

Before Cori and I decided to get engaged in February of 2012, we spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of rings we wanted to purchase for each other. We always figured that we would get traditional diamond rings. Corrine fancied a princess cut diamond with two smaller diamonds on each side, while I had my heart set on a princess cut diamond with two sapphire stones on each side. We even visited Tiffany & Co. on 5th avenue because who wouldn’t want to say “yes” to a question that involved a little blue box?

During our research, we stumbled upon a website called Brilliant Earth. We learned that they are a humane jewelry store based out of downtown San Francisco and sold conflict-free diamond jewelry, which meant that both humanity and the environment were not treated callously in order for these stones to be obtained and sold. Brilliant Earth also uses recycled metals and they packaged their products in an Eco-friendly Rimu wood box. We were drawn to Brilliant Earth for their unwavering compassion. While casually discussing wedding ideas, Cori and I wholeheartedly agreed that we wanted our ceremony and reception to be both animal-friendly and Eco-friendly. Purchasing conflict-free engagement rings seemed like the perfect way to commence our environmentally conscious wedding. Tiffany’s was always the dream, but Brilliant Earth seemed to be the better match for us. 

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but that isn’t true for everyone. Diamond engagement rings are beautiful. They represent a traditional symbol of love, especially in Western cultures. Historically and presently, the woman's ring is offered as a betrothal gift by a man, who is asking a potential spouse for her hand in marriage.  The use of rings as a symbol of commitment dates back to ancient Rome, while the use of diamonds as the centerpiece of many engagement rings dates back to the 15th century. Diamond engagement rings were made popular by Archduke Maximilian of Austria who proposed marriage to Mary of Burgundy with a diamond ring. During this time, diamonds were a considered to be rare and were reserved for royalty and the wealthy. 

Side Note: Stephanie is a HUGE history nerd, but Corrine loves her anyway. xo

Traditions are lovely and important in most cultures. They help to provide a sense of community and a sense of self. Corrine and I are planning to keep some wedding traditions (i.e. white wedding dresses), but we are advocates for creating our own traditions as well. We made the mutual decision to stray from diamonds, which led us to idea of using sapphires as the center stone for our engagement rings. Sapphire stones rate a 9.0 on the hardness scale (diamonds rate a 10) and they are equally as beautiful. Sapphire rings did, however, become increasingly popular thanks to the lovely Kate Middleton who sported the late Princess Diana’s sapphire engagement ring.

Cori chose a platinum violet sapphire delicate antique scroll ring, while I chose platinum blue sapphire tiara ring. Each of our rings is set with a round blue 6mm sapphire stone. Cori’s center stone is surrounded by six small diamonds, while my stone is surrounded by eight small diamonds. These rings aren’t traditional by western culture standards, but they symbolize our eternal love for each other and they sparkle just as bright as diamonds. Our engagements rings were just the start to our fabulous wedding adventure and the gateway to our exciting future.


Stephanie's Engagement Ring

Corrine's Engagement Rings

Our Choice: Brilliant Earth