My big fat Greek reality. 


Many of you have heard of the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and the trailer for the second movie came out very recently. My (Greek) dad refuses to watch the first movie because he says it is a bunch of bull, but  my mom and I have both discussed that we could be millionaires if we knew a movie about Greek life could be so entertaining… because most of the movie’s content is for real.

If you haven’t seen the movie, go watch it really quick. The movie is really well done. It has family drama, a love story, obstacles that the lovers have to overcome, and comedy along the way.This film sticks out to me though because of the Greekness. While you laugh at the situations, I live them.

Before we begin, here’s  a very brief history of my Greek heritage. My dad was born in Sparta, Greece (wait while someone screams, ‘THIS…IS…SPARTA!!’). He was moved to the United States with his parents when he was not even two years old. He learned English by watching Seasame Street as my grandparents ran their dry cleaning business. My maiden name is GORANITIS. Yes, I know it sounds like a disease, yes it’s hard to say and spell- welcome to my life. I am half Greek, have a name that oozes Greekness, and could’ve made so much money if my family made it into a movie first.

Here is a list of things seen in the movie, and I will give you the scoop on whether they are fluff , or if it applies to my Greek life

  1. Greeks live in Chicago: TRUE. My dad’s family moved to Chicago when he was in high school, and there is definitely a Greek community there. They even have Greek fast food places!  My grandparents live on a street with other Greeks- they stick together.
  2. Greeks always own their own business: TRUE. While this may not be the case for ALL Greeks, it seems to be a trend for those who immigrated here with their families. Notice that in the movie, Voula’s family owns a dry cleaning service- so did my grandparents until they retired. And Voula’s family also owned a travel agency- the only travel agent I know is Greek… not sure why this is a thing.
  3. The kids have to go to Greek school: TRUE. I WAS THAT KID. For about 2 years, my dad would drive us to Greek school every Tuesday night at the Greek Orthodox church. While I did learn a few things, class was mostly the Greek school teacher trying to discipline the troublesome kid, who happened to be the priest’s son…
  4. Greek women are always  cooking: TRUE. This one is 100% true for all of the full Greek yiayias (Greek for ‘grandmas’) out there. Every time I visit my yiayia, she has a massive Greek meal ready to go. Every. Time.
  5. Greeks’ homes are modeled after the Parthenon: FALSE. While there are many Greek statues/flags/pottery inside Greek houses, I have never seen any gaudy Greek things outside of the house. Of course this is just with MY family…
  6. Greeks use Windex to fix everything: FALSE. I feel like this staple in the movie had to do with 2 things. First of all, Windex probably gave them a lot of money to make this movie. However, I have noticed my dad goes through.. let’s call them “phases” where he is obsessed with something and tries to convince everyone else that this is the ONLY  way to go. I think this concept was grasped through the Windex.
  7. Greeks will tell you “Give me a word, ANY word, and I will give you the Greek root”: TRUE. My dad is 100% guilty of this one. Especially when we were in Greek school, EVERYTHING came from a Greek word. The funny thing is, most words DO have a Greek root so…
  8. There is a scary old lady in black that hates people from Turkey: KINDA TRUE. There is always a grandma dressed in all black (a sign of mourning a lost spouse, but they wear black the rest of their life), who does not understand ONE word in English. She probably hates people from Turkey, but can’t tell you because again, no English.
  9. Most Greeks are named Nick: TRUE. I have an Uncle Nick. I have a cousin Nicki… everyone is Nick.
  10. Greeks cover their living room furniture in plastic: TRUE. You may not believe me on this one, but I’m not joking. The main living area in my grandparents house has 2 couches and 2 chairs- all covered in plastic. It’s not as uncomfortable as you would expect.
  11. Greeks have over 20 cousins: FALSE. I have 4 first cousins, so this one doesn’t match with my family. However I think most of the time this one is true for Greek families.
  12. Greeks only want their kids to marry other Greeks: TRUE. You remember the part in the movie where Gus is upset that Toula is going to marry a “xeno”? Xeno is Greek for ‘foreigner’. I know what you’re thinking- wait, he’s from Greece and is in America, so he would be the foreigner, right? Not to them! My grandparents called my mom a “xeni”, feminine version of ‘xeno’ for YEARS after my parents got married. This one is so real that it hurts.
  13. Greeks say weird things like “Nobody talk to me about nothing no more!”: TRUE. There are a few things that get mixed up in translation and leave Greeks putting a bunch of negatives together in a sentence. Also, I didn’t know it was weird to say “close the light” until my husband looked at me like I was crazy one day when I said it. In translation, it’s “close the light”, not “turn off the light”, so my dad learned it that way and it rubbed off on my mom. I am hoping I will rub off on Ryan so I don’t seem as crazy when I say it.
  14. A Greek orthodox baptism has a kiddie pool for adults: FALSE. The church scene is pretty legit, from the priest to the ornate walls… however there is no kiddie pool. Adult baptisms have a large gold basin looking thing. And no, getting baptized in the Greek church does NOT make you Greek.
  15. Greek grandpas came to this country with only $8 in their pocket: TRUE. I get the same story from my grandpa every time I see him. But it’s kind of cool how this one is true.. he literally came to this country with his wife and 1 year old (my dad), had almost no money to his name, and started a new life in a new place. How many of us would have the guts to do that today?
  16. Greeks spit on you for good luck: TRUE. This is also a true thing. Although, we usually don’t really spit, we just go through the motions of it. No one wants to hock a loogie onto a bride.
  17. Greeks yell OPA when they dance: TRUE. We yell ‘OPA’ a lot, even when we are not dancing!
  18. Greeks accept their foreigner in laws and buy their kids a house for their wedding: I WISH.
So there you go! That is a list of the things that stand out to me during the movie. However there are a few more things that I feel need to be further explained in order to appreciate the movie:
  • That instrument playing throughout the whole movie is called a bouzouki. It’s like a Greek banjo.
  • The “moussaka” (pronounced MOO SAH KAH, emphasis on the KAH) that a young Toula is eating is a Greek version of lasagna, with layers of eggplant instead of noodles- DELICIOUS.
  • When Athena says a priest is coming to ‘bless her house’- when Greeks move, they have the priest come sprinkle holy water in each room in order to ward off demons. I have seen this happen, it’s interesting.
  • Ian’s parents confuse Armenian with Greek.. I have heard people think the Kardashians are Greek… GREECE IS NOT ARMENIA.
  • We do eats lots of lamb and drink some ouzo.
  • Spanakopita is mentioned at the engagement party (where it is pronounced correctly- take note!), and it s a delicious spinach pie with spinach and feta wrapped in phyllo (pronounced FEE-LO). If you don’t like spinach, don’t worry- we have a ‘just cheese’ version called tiropita (pronounced TEE RO PEE TA)
In closing, being Greek has its perks. I feel a great connection to my Greek heritage and would never trade it. But as Gus so finely puts it at Toula’s wedding:
We all different, but in the end- we all fruit.
~Ἑλένη   (Eleni)
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Choosing a bridal party. 

 

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Photobooth fun with my bridesmaids!

 

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My husband Ryan with his groomsmen, Dad , and some uncles!

Fiancée? Check. Engagement ring? Check. Wedding date? Check. Bridal party? Uh…

Choosing a bridal party can be an unexpected challenge once a couple gets engaged. For some, they have known for a while who will be standing by their side during their wedding day. However there are others- like my husband and I – who are very indecisive. We knew for sure who we wanted to be the maid of honor and best man, and we knew we wanted our siblings involved. At first, we decided to leave it at that! Five people total, sounded nice enough. But in the end, we had…(*takes in a huge breath*)… seven bridesmaids, seven groomsmen, a flower girl, a ring bearer, 2 ‘ring security’, 2 guest book attendants, and one singer. Whew! In the end we are so happy with everyone we included and would not change a thing. Here are some things to consider while choosing a party.

  1. Don’t be afraid to have a large party. Even though we initially wanted a small party, Ryan and I don’t regret having a bigger one. We started to consider adding more people once we began to look for a photographer. There were so many pictures of big groups laughing, smiling, enjoying the day with all their friends. That’s when we decided to not leave ANYONE out. Even though there were family members who questioned our decision (‘How are you going to fit that many at the front of the church!’ … ‘The procession will last an eternity!’), I am glad we stuck to our gut. We got to enjoy the day with all of our closest friends.
  2. Consider the personalities you are inviting. If you are thinking about including people that may make your wedding process a little more difficult, think about whether they NEED to be in your wedding. Wedding planning is hard, and the wedding day can be very stressful. Adding personalities that are selfish, dramatic, or bridesmaidzilla-esque may only bring you sorrows. If it’s not a close friend or a family member, maybe just make them the guest book attendant or an usher. If you chose to include them, try having a conversation early on about your expectations so they can be set up for success, rather than causing problems along the way.
  3. Think about your expenses. It is important to keep your budget in mind while picking the number of people to involve. Remember that is it customary to buy gifts for the bridal party. If you are dead set on getting a nice gift for each member, think about how much gifts will cost. Also if you NEED to have everyone to ride together, a party bus vs. a stretch limo can be a big difference in money. You may need to expand your budget or make cuts in certain areas to accomate the bridal party.
  4. Think about THEIR expenses! The truth is, it’s expensive to be in a wedding. There are tuxes, dresses, shoes, accessories, money for gifts, bachelor party, bachelorette party… It can all add up quickly. If you want someone to be in your wedding, but you know they are tight on money, it’s important to realize that they may not be able to participate. Be sure you aren’t putting them in a tough spot, and understand their situation before guilting them into anything outside of their financial means.
  5. Location, location, location. While there are friends you always pictured being in your wedding, real life can happen and put distance in the way. It’s also difficult (but still possible) to have a long distance friend be a part of your wedding. It is also much more expensive for them, because there may be a lot more traveling involved. They also may miss a lot of pre wedding events due to the distance. While it’s entirely possible for a long distance friend to be in your wedding, keep in mind the extra struggles that may occur along the way.

Remember, if someone truly cares about you, they won’t complain about what job you did or didn’t give them for your wedding day. It’s YOUR DAY, so be kind but stick to your guns. And if someone complains about not being included, but they didn’t ever ask you to have a part in THEIR wedding…walk away. The less negativity during the wedding process, the better. You do you!

~Eleni

Tequila Lime Jello Shots

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Arrrrrriba!  Spice up your New Year with this crowd favorite.  Don’t be fooled, these aren’t lime wedges!  They’re jello shots!  Eat them like you would a lime wedge, but don’t worry, you won’t need a chaser after these shots!  They’re delicious!  I like to dip then I’m sugar, but then again, I’ve got a mean sweet tooth.

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Tequila Lime Jello Shots

Prep time:  The limes can be a pain in the butt and the jello will need to harden for several hours/overnight, so make sure you allow ample time to make these shots.  You’ve been warned.

Serves:  24 lime “wedge” shots

-6-8 limes (find some that are kind of stiff, as if the peel is a little thicker, this will make your life easier)

-3 oz fresh squeezed lime juice (or 6 tablespoons)

-1 oz water (or 2 tablespoons)

-1/4 cup sugar

-1 envelope  (2 tsp) of Knox unflavored gelatin

-3 oz tequila (or 6 tablespoons) **El Jimador silver tequila is pretty good quality at a decent price**

-1 oz orange liqueur (2 tablespoons) **I used Grand Marnier.**

-large crystal sugar or salt to make them look all pretty

  1. Hollow out the lime peels.  Easy.
  2. I was kidding about step 1… this part actually really sucks.  There’s no shortcut, really.  You might think it would be easier to juice the limes before you hollow them out.  It’s not.  Here’s what I did that made things a little bit easier:  Don’t mess with the limes, just cut them in half.  Slice through the white core part (as shown in picture 1 in the graphic above).  Then take a spoon (even better if you have a serrated grapefruit spoon!  I didn’t 😦 ) and scoop along the peel until the fruit portion pops out.  But just so you know, it’s not going to just “pop out”, it may take some fight.  Don’t give up!
  3. Place the hollowed out lime halves in a muffin tin.  You’ll only need 6 limes to fill the muffin tin, but you’ll need a few extra for juice.
  4. Squeeze the lime fruit and collect 6 tablespoons of juice.
  5. Combine the lime juice, water, and sugar in a small saucepan with the burner off.
  6. Sprinkle in the gelatin powder and stir.
  7. Warm over medium heat.  Stir until completely dissolved.
  8. Stir in the tequila and orange liqueur.
  9. Pour into a container that has a pouring spout.
  10. Pour into all 12 lime halves until full.  It won’t expand much.
  11. Carefully place the muffin tin in the fridge and allow to cool for at least 4 hours.  I would just let it sit in there overnight.
  12. Once completely hardened, cut each in half to form wedges!

And there you have it!  It’s a little bit of effort, but it’s worth it if you’re up to the challenge!  Enjoy responsibly :-).

~Megan

Things I Wish I Knew About Wedding Dress Shopping

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Happy Engagement Season!  Did you get engaged over the holidays?? Congratulations!  Enjoy every minute, because your wedding day will come faster than you think!  And yes, I know you CAN’T WAIT for that day to FINALLY come.  But relax and take it in right now, you’ll treasure this special time.

Okay, enough with the sappy stuff.  Let’s get down to business.  WE HAVE A WEDDING DRESS TO FIND!  I’m going to be honest, wedding dress shopping maaaaay have been one of my favorite parts of wedding planning (you know, except for the marrying the love of my life part)..  I’ve never been so consumed by any article of clothing in my whole life.  I’ve also never felt more like a lunatic.  Have you ever seen the show  ‘Bridezillas’?  You don’t want to go there.  So before you go out and start searching, read these tips first!

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Bring the right underwear.

Imagine stepping into a dressing room with a lady you just met five minutes ago and she says, “Okay, take your clothes off.”  That’s wedding dress shopping.  You’re going to get real comfortable being in your underwear around people, because chances are, you won’t be able to get into your dress by yourself.  You’re going to need a hand (or a few) to get that puppy on.  Do yourself a favor and wear some decent underwear.  I’m talking full-coverage.  The acrobatics required to get into a wedding dress are not the kind of moves you want to be doing in a G-string.  I don’t care what you wear on your wedding day, but at least for the shopping phase… just consider it.

While we’re talking about undergarments…

Consider finding the bra you want to wear on your wedding day first.  The right bra changes everything.  The way a dress fits and feels is very much dependent  on your bra.  I would  recommend getting yourself measured and investing in good quality.  You want unwavering support and comfort! You’re going to wear this thing on the longest (and BEST!) day of your life.   I opted for a strapless, nude-colored bra.  Your dress will shift during the day (lots of moving, hugging, dancing, etc.) and if your bra happens to peek out the top a bit, chances are nobody will notice (until a trustworthy bridesmaid swoops in to save the day).  

Keep an open mind.

I went in thinking I knew exactly what I wanted and no one could tell me otherwise.  I wanted a fit-and-flare, lace-sleeved, flashy gown.  And what happened?  I ended up falling in love with an old-fashioned, lace ball gown that I absolutely adored.  So when Mom wants you to try on a hideous, 80’s prom queen wedding gown, just do it.  What’s the worst  that could happen?  You may find out that you love white satin.  Okay, probably not, but you get the point.  Your perfect gown may be the one you never considered before!

Bring the right people.

I cannot stress this enough.  Only bring the people who absolutely have to be there.  I’m not saying you don’t love every single one of your 27 bridesmaids, but do they all need to be there?  Consider making it a special day with just you and those you are closest to, whether that be Mom, Grandma, your sister, your best friend…  More is not always merrier, especially when it comes to opinions.  Remember, this is YOUR day.  Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it!

Have a budget.

Step away from the dresses until you decide how much you’re willing to spend.  The biggest mistake you could make is to go in without any budget at all and fall in love with a dress you can’t afford.  I know it is your wedding day, but do keep in mind, it is one dress that you will wear one time.  (Check out these other wedding budget tips!) There are plenty of beautiful dresses in your price range.  I would recommend calling dress shops  ahead of time to make sure they have a decent amount of dresses within your budget.

Be patient and bring loose fitting clothing.

If you want to get lean before your big day, go try on some wedding dresses.  You’ll be sweating in no  time!  Not only are you doing bends and twists you haven’t done since first grade, once you’re finally in, you’ll realize they do not breathe.  And sometimes you can’t even breathe in them.  Bring a water bottle and take a break.  And please, oh please, don’t wear your tightest skinny jeans and wool knit sweater.  After trying on about 13 dresses, the LAST thing you’re going to want to do is squeeze yourself into skin-tight denim.  Opt for a loose fitting shirt and leggings.  You won’t regret it.

And last but not least, HAVE FUN!

Just ENJOY it!  When I finally found my dress, paid for it and got in the car, my heart sank.  “It’s over??  I never get to try on wedding dresses ever again?? “  I was devastated.  I even started questioning my dress decision.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Just enjoy the process and make some great memories that will last a lifetime.  When you finally find the dress, CELEBRATE!  You did it!  And now you’re one step closer to marrying your best friend!  😉

~Megan

“Is butter a carb?”

 

mean girls coverMean Girls is a classic that gave us oh-so-many T-shirt quotes.

Boo, you whore!

Whatever, I’m getting cheese fries.

I’m a mouse, duh!

I’m not a regular mom, I’m a cool mom!

There’s a 30% chance it’s already raining!

…I could go on forever…

Tina Fey blessed us with this comedy back in 2004, and I remember thinking it was so risqué. It made me feel like a real teenage girl when I watched it. I watched it today, over a decade later, and it’s still the best. However, there are many fashion trends I noticed that are thankfully GONE. Here’s a list of things you forgot about, prepare to be embarrassed.

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Skirts and bellybuttons. Admit it, we all had the pleated mini skirts, plaid skirts, denim minis…why did this seem cute? Keep your butt to yourself, ya’ll.

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Hair clips. They were so obnoxious, and sometimes would come in obnoxious colors! I honestly still have some of these hiding in my hair drawer…

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Hoop earrings. Hoop earring were THE THING. A slicked back pony tail with some big hoops were the coolest. Of course, my parents wouldn’t let me wear too big of hoops. At that time I didn’t know why, but now I think it’s so I didn’t look like a stripper.

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Track suits. These usually had “Juicy” written on the butt. How classy.

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LIP GLOSS. This one is a biggie. Everyone had lip gloss, all the time. It was especially cool if you had the little squeeze ones from Victoria’s Secret, which were super over priced.

There you go! If you want to take a walk down memory lane, pop in the movie. It’s an easy hour and 36 minutes long, full of drama that literally doesn’t matter when you’re over the age of 18. Ah, back when radios were used for music instead of Spotify, you could 3-way call your besties, and there were physical books for burning your classmates instead of a facebook.

~Eleni

5 Netflix shows for every mood

5 Netflix Shows for Every Mood

Christmas is over (*whimpers*). It’s time to move into the most BORING months of the whole year. January, February, and March.  Except for Eleni’s and my birthday, these months really don’t have much going for them, IMO.  They’re the worst.  There are no days off work, more than likely it’s cold…. the days just draaaag.  I guess it makes Spring’s arrival just that much sweeter.  But for now, it’s time to settle into a Netflix lifestyle (unless you want to get a hobby – that’s fine, too, I guess).  As for the rest of you, my fellow binge-watchers, let’s go over a few of the must watch shows on Netflix right now.  (Caveat:  I’m not including any movies on this list because, let’s be honest, the selection sucks)  So, what are you in the mood for??

 

Something dark, mysterious, and downright creepy?

Netflix Original Series, Marvel's Jessica Jones

Marvel’s Jessica Jones:  This isn’t the Marvel you know.  A welcome break from your typical weeknight show, Jessica Jones is a noir-esque escape from reality that tells the story of a very… special private investigator.  It’ll leave you saying, “WHAT?!” more than a few times.  You’ll never want to stop watching – you’ll HAVE to know what happens.  Since this is a Netflix Original Series, they drop one season at a time.  Enjoy Season 1.  Then you can join me in not-so-patiently waiting for Season 2.

Binge-ability:  8/10

An unconventional fantasy world?

ABC, Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time:  You don’t have to be a Disney fanatic to love this one.  OUAT is more like Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  While at times a bit cheesy, this show will never bore you.  The story is always changing and you’re always getting introduced to new, yet familiar characters.  It’s interesting, it’s spontaneous, and it’s certainly different from your average show.  Even my husband likes it, and he’s not really one for Disney stuff.  Plus, there are 5 whole season to watch!  That should last you a while.

Binge-ability:  6/10

 

Maybe something light-hearted, witty, and easy to watch?

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Parks and Recreation:  Eleni and I like to say we are the Ann Perkins and Leslie Knope of the chemical industry.  While it may be a spin-off of The Office, Parks and Rec is even more hilarious and impulsive.  You don’t know humor until you’ve met Ron Swanson and April Ludgate.  This show was my obsession in college.  It’s so quotable it’s ridiculous.  The series ended after Season 7.  You’ll kind of have to get through the first few episodes before it picks up, but you’ll be hooked in no time.

Binge-ability:  9/10

 

Need thought-provoking intensity with just enough plot?

FOX, House, M.D.

House, M.D.:  Now this is an old one, but worthy of your time.  The series ended on Season 8 in 2012, but if you haven’t watched it yet, give it a try!  Dr. House is so deeply twisted, you will never stop wondering if you love him or if you hate him.  His approach to diagnostic medicine is nothing short of unethical, but you know you’d die to be his patient (pun intended).  Every episode is a different story, with an interesting underlying plot.  You’ll find yourself sucked in by the compelling, and sometimes comical, stories of Dr. House’s patients.  Happy binging!

Binge-ability:  8/10

 

Want ridiculous with equal parts drama and comedy?

The CW, Jane the Virgin

 

Jane the Virgin:  Oh. My. Gosh.  This has become my new favorite show.  It’s about a young woman who gets (accidentally) artificially inseminated and becomes pregnant with a super rich, and super hot, hotel owner’s baby.  Obviously a self-proclaiming farce, the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet you’ll be seriously sucked into the characters’ stories.  The never ending twists and turns are riveting, with just the right balance of comic relief.  You’ll find yourself adopting a telenovela mindset.  Let’s just say, you’ll NEVER STOP WATCHING.  I NEED MORE EPISODES.

Binge-ability:  10/10 (I watched the whole season in a shorter time frame than I’m willing to admit.)

 

Proceed to your nearest Netflix viewing station and get to watching!

Enjoy!

~Megan