Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas ornament shower recap

On Saturday evening, my closest girlfriends from high school gathered over at my friend Mary Jacob's place to shower me with Christmas ornaments. It was so much fun! If you are at all a festive, holiday-loving person, I heartily recommend this sort of shower.

I blogged before that I hoped my friends would have fun with the theme, and they definitely did! Not surprising. The ornaments I got ran the gamut, from classy blown-glass Santas, to a ginormous hula-flamingo with a grass skirt made of Koosh ball material, to a large pink Disney Princess ornament. I also got a fair amount of winter-themed dishtowels and other housewares, and I took home enough packaging to last me through the next couple of Chrismases!

before

I don't have a ton of pictures from the party -- normally I'm one who always has her camera out, so it was sort of strange to have to refrain from documenting everything. One of my friends has most of the pictures of me opening things on her camera, so when I get those from her, I'll share a few. (I am sure Josephine, the resident photographer among my friends, captured some amazingly awkward and funny-looking moments!) I did, however, take a few pictures of my haul once I got home and laid it out for Jon to see. Check it out! My friends done good :)

after

Friday, November 27, 2009

weekend happenings

What the hell day is it, anyway? I am all kinds of disoriented due to the mid-week holiday, not to mention the fact that December starts next Tuesday. Today was especially strange because I actually slept in. These days, sadly, sleeping late really throws me off.

At any rate, tomorrow begins the actual weekend, bringing with it my first pre-wedding party -- a Christmas ornament shower! I'm super excited about it -- though I admit the notion of a party just for me, just because I'm getting married, remains a strange one to grasp. Anyway, Jon and I got our Christmas tree today and it's already up and (sorta) decorated. It will be so lovely to fill out my ornament collection with gifts from some of my best girlfriends!

In other wedding-related news, Jon's younger brother (and best man) Matthew is visiting us for Thanksgiving, so tomorrow morning the three of us are going to hit up Men's Wearhouse/Savvi Formalwear to see what sort of penguin suits look best on these fellows. That should be an interesting experience -- we'll see how much they want to listen to my opinions. I'll be sure to report back on that one!

I hope you've had a good, lazy Black Friday, and that you found some sweet deals if you braved the crowds. Happy weekend, all!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gobble gobble gobble

Having run a 10K this morning with my sister, I'm happy to say that the rest of my day will look a lot like this:

whomp biscuits (you know, the kind in the can that you
whomp on the counter to open) cooking in the post-fried-turkey oil



sugared, cinnamoned, and ready to eat!
whomp biscuits = best appetizer ever



smoked, fried, and roast turkey


an array of tasty, home-cooked sides!


and last but not least, about one-third of the dessert offerings. NOM.


And with that, I'm off to Tennessee for the family feed. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Old-Timey Tuednesday: the pretty pretty bride


As many Southern brides do, young Laura had a bridal portrait session at some point before her wedding. I don't know if the photo was displayed at the reception (I find this an odd tradition -- I don't think Mom did it, but it's possible), but they obviously sent the picture along to the paper so her portrait could run alongside the announcement in the Kingsport Times-News the day after the wedding. Here's the clip:


What a headline, huh? These small-town wedding announcements are serious stuff! Here's a better look at Mom's pretty portrait:


Isn't my mama lovely?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

BRILLIANT

This is totally not related to weddings in any way, shape or form, but I had to share this because it absolutely made my day. Check back tomorrow for your regularly scheduled old-timey programming. ENJOY:



For the record, Muppets + Queen = mind-boggling awesomeness!! Is there no limit to the genius of the Jim Henson Workshop?

Monday, November 23, 2009

I feel pretty...

So, not only was yesterday the six-month mark -- it was also the first time I got to try on my wedding dress! I decided to go in and pay it a visit before I have to start fittings so I could see how the shoes I bought looked with it (awesome!) and get an idea for what sort of accessories I should keep an eye out for. I was also curious as to how well we did on choosing what size to order. My mama, my sister, and two of my bridesmaids/best friends from high school accompanied me to Bridals by Lori to check it out.

I'm glad to say I didn't have one of those bizarro Say-Yes-to-the-Dress moments of not remembering what my dress looked like -- it was exactly as I recalled, and as pictured in countless photos from the Christos runway. (Seriously, how does that happen to those people? So odd.) This time, though, it zipped up! We ordered the dress to fit my largest measurement (bust) and it seemed to be about right in that area -- it will need to come in a bit around the waist, but that should be it in terms of alterations. I'm thinking that I probably won't get a bra sewn in and will instead buy something unattached that I can use for other occasions as well, but that may change. Otherwise, they'll just have to hack off about a foot so I don't walk all over the skirt, and I'll be good to go.

In terms of accessories, we all concurred that pearls would be the way to go. Mama said I could borrow her mother's pearls, so now I'm on the lookout for some nice, not-ginormous pearl drop earrings, which shouldn't be too hard to find. The gang also decided that a mid-length (elbow- or waist-ish) simple veil with an embroidered edge looked best. If my mom or my bridesmaid's mom can't replicate it, the one I tried on at the store wasn't terribly expensive, as these things go, so that's settled as well.

In short, it was a seriously productive 30 minutes! Want to see pictures? If your name is not Jon, you are welcome to click here and check me out... what do you think?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

six months!

Do you believe it? Six months from right now I'll be a married lady...

Weird!

Friday, November 20, 2009

All I want for Christmas

...is a smilebooth! I've mentioned before that I am saving up my dollars to get us a more comprehensive wedding photography package, but unfortunately the smilebooth does not come included. If I should retain a smilebooth a la carte, I have a promotional discount from attending the NOT wedding earlier this year, so that helps. But Santa, if you wanted to drop a check for a couple hundred bucks in my stocking, I would not complain!

While I'm sure a smilebooth is an awesome addition to any party, I'm not sure which way to go on the backdrop. The possibilities are endless! Here are some awesome ones I've found on the interwebs:



muppety (kitty not included)

In a different category of smilebooths, we have the photo-wall backgrounds...



Of course, there is always the very viable DIY option of buying fabric or sheets and rigging one up ourselves... What sort of smilebooth backdrop would you go for?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Attention, Atlanta readers!


For any of y'all in or around ATL this weekend, the Indie Craft Experience Holiday Shopping Spectacular 2009 is coming to town! It's open Saturday only, from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., at Ambient Plus Studio in southwest Atlanta. It costs $5 to get in, but it's a great opportunity to get a jump on buying presents for everyone on your list. Total bonus because everything is handmade, and you can meet the people behind the products! Click here for a list of all the excellent vendors who will be there this year.

If you can't make this one, be sure to hit up the next Kraftwork market of local indie craftspeople at Young Blood Gallery & Boutique on December 3 from 7 to 10 p.m. (It takes place the first Thursday of every month, same time, same place.) Young Blood is pretty much my favorite shop these days, and my go-to for any gifting needs, so you should check it out if you haven't!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

To garter or not to garter?

Among the traditional happenings that will not be taking place at my wedding is the tossing of the garter. For that reason, I've been sort of meh on getting one -- like, what's the point? Until yesterday, when The Inspired Bride put up a post about a new-to-me Etsy vendor: Florrie Mitton, a designer who recently got into the garter trade because she couldn't find anything she liked for her own wedding. These garters are like works of art compared to the bright polka-dotted/college-colors ribbon ones more commonly featured by various wedding media. Behold!






How stunning are these? The best part is, they're totally reasonable in terms of cost (remember, it's all relative): the simple, sweet ones I like best are less than $30! By contrast, the aforementioned grosgrain scrunchy-looking ones cost $42. Hmm, tough call there...

These garters are definitely not made to be tossed, but to be worn as a secret luxury for the bride (if an elastic band around one's thigh can be counted as such) and handed down to daughters and granddaughters... at least that's how it seems to me. That is definitely something I can get behind. Now, the real question is, which one should I get?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Old-Timey Tuesday: the getaway!

At the end of their church-basement reception, young Laura and Jimmy changed into something more comfortable for their big post-wedding exit. Mom made her bright pink suit herself. I always think of this picture whenever I drive by the church where they got married in Kingsport, Tenn., even though I don't have occasion to pass that way much anymore. This is probably my favorite picture from their wedding:


When I was going through their wedding album, I hadn't remembered what was waiting for them at the end of the sidewalk: Grandpa Jim in the family station wagon! This is really the way to do it, especially if you're not going far. (I think they were just headed up the hill to Mom's folks' house.)


Classic.

Wedding blog 101

This actually isn't a how-to post, as the title might suggest... it's my 101st post! I was all paying attention when I got up around no. 96, but apparently neglected to watch thereafter to make sure I could mark the 100 milestone appropriately. Ah well. I blame the weekend.

Anyway, I just wanted to take a moment to pat myself on the back. With the exception of the blog about my mother's emergency surgery, this is the only blog I've managed to maintain with such regularity. Hooray!

Monday, November 16, 2009

shredded

Shit, y'all. I had a little extra time today before Jon got home from work, so I thought I'd try out one of my long-neglected exercise DVDs. I just finished my first 20-min workout with Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred, and MAN am I out of shape. That's not really a surprise, but I was feeling not so hot way sooner than I expected to. Jillian tells me that I'm now well on my way, and that I should notice a big difference in my endurance by day 6 or 7. We shall see.

I haven't ever watched the Biggest Loser, where Jillian gained her fame, but I read about this DVD on pretty much every wedding blog whenever fitness was discussed... so I guess that makes me a bandwagon-jumper. (Of course, it was like $13 and the workouts are quick, so it's practical.) A lot of people said they saw good results, so as long as I stick with it (which seems to be my main problem) I should notice some changes for the better. A little less squishy in the middle, a little less jiggly in the arms, that's what I'm aiming for.

Probably the funniest thing about doing workout DVDs at home is that my cat, Little Man, always decides he wants to get involved. No matter if he's been bathing in a sun-spot all the day long, when I decide to exercise some sort of radar goes off and he comes and huddles right next to my feet as I warm up. Time for push-ups? He parks it right under my nose so I get a mouthful of fur each time I sink down. This afternoon I knocked him down, and he proceeded to gnaw on my wrist while I attempted to continue with my girly push-ups. Crunches seem to be his favorite, though: whenever I'm on my back on the floor, he climbs onto my chest and settles in, never minding the jostling going on beneath him. Such a helpful pet.

Anyway, even though it was only 20 minutes, it sort of kicked my ass. It's sort of embarrassing, but it also feels good to have done something. Maybe next time I'll try out my New York City Ballet DVD. For some reason I think I'll feel less incompetent and weak doing ballet exercises, since I have more of a background in dance than in, uh, shredding.

Friday, November 13, 2009

My first shower!

The other day -- the same day I got the call about my dress arriving in Atlanta -- I found in my mailbox an invitation to my very first wedding shower. Wahoo! Also, talk about a serious wallop of holy-shit-I'm-getting-married reality all in one day. Here's the cute invitation (with the details removed -- stay away, stalkers!):


As you can see from the invitation, it's an ornament shower! My family loves Christmas and we do it in pretty excellent style if I do say so myself, so this is a fitting shower to kick things off for me. The guest list is pretty small -- just the high-school girls who are on my guest list -- and since it's over Thanksgiving weekend I hope most everyone who is normally out of town should be able to make it. At first I had suggested a larger list, then I thought better of inviting many dozens of new Christmas ornaments upon myself: I've got a trip to Germany coming up this December and I'm sure I'll pick up a few at the famed Christmas markets, so I don't want to overload! I definitely don't have room for a big tree yet. I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with! I'll be sure to let y'all know how it turns out...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

confession

I love wedding cake toppers, and I kind of really want one. There, I said it.

Unfortunately, there aren't any charming vintage ones in the family that I can use for free, at least to my knowledge. I don't want a giant monogram or initial, I don't want a heart or a swan, and I can't think of an animal that both Jon and I like enough to have represent us atop our wedding cake, so that leaves me with mostly realistic, people-based options. I've found that I especially like arches, and they may or may not involve a bride and a groom.

A lot of the mass-market toppers that are readily available today are pretty cheesy/weird and awful. (*WARNING: this post is long, but it's mostly pictures!) Observe:

This, apparently, is what "modern" brides like to wear on their wedding days... methinks no.


A runaway bride cake-topper? Really?


And of course, the ol' ball and chain. Poor groom.


For the more sentimental or religious types, you can always give a nod to your blonde, blue-eyed guardian angel and add her to the mix.


If the figurines aren't doing it for you, you could go for a REALLY CREEPY set of disembodied hands...


But why use creepy hands when you could cross She-ra and Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" in a 3-D version of a romance novel cover?


OK, one more then I'll get to the nice toppers. This one is included not only because of the ridiculous bridalwear and beribboned, lacy base, but for its name: "Parasol Splendor." If that doesn't make you want to cough up $50 immediately, I don't know what will!

(all images from justcaketoppers.com, except for the ball and chain
and runaway bride, which came from That's My Topper.)


In all seriousness, I've found quite a few on the blogs that I like. The main problem is that they can be SO DAMN EXPENSIVE. Let's have a look-see, shall we?




this is the only palatable figurine I've seen on a topper website so far -- it
even has the right hair colors and a not-old-timey dress!
Dude needs glasses, though. (source)


this one is also by Haylie Bird Waring, made for Ginny's sister (source)

I love the banner with their names! Ok, and I kinda like the bunnies, too, I admit.
See more amazingness from Jennifer Murphy here. (source)



source

So, yeah. I like arches, I favor people over animals, but that one with the bells and pink ribbons? $135. The little wooden people with a tiny cat? On sale for $75. The bunnies under the name-banner? Probably upwards of $300 based on the artist's etsy shop.

I've been scouring eBay to see what charming things pop up, and I reckon I'll do that for a while longer. I do like the custom idea though, and I reckon I could customize something myself -- add some glasses to a generic brown-haired groom and glue some extra fabric from my wedding dress onto a blonde bride-figure's skirt and call it a day. The more I think about it, the more I believe I can make an excellent cake topper myself, with the right supplies.

What do you think -- are cake toppers lame and outdated, or a fun, slightly cheesy keepsake?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Extra-Old-Timey Tuednesday

I bet you thought I had forgotten, didn't you? In truth, I have a special post for you and I wanted to save it for today. Today would have been my Grandma Dot's 92nd birthday. (I mistakenly thought that Grandma Dot's birthday was also her and Grandpa Jim's anniversary, but they got married on Grandpa's birthday, October 29. I knew it was one of the two!) Anyway, having just passed what would have been their 65th wedding anniversary, and seeing as how today is Grandma Dot's birthday, I thought I would go extra-old-timey today and take a look at my paternal grandparents' wedding.

In his retirement, Grandpa Jim wrote an autobiography, so I'll let him tell it in his words. This may get long, but I think it's pretty fascinating.

Quick background -- Ralph Wilkening, my grandmother's brother, was the cousin of Grandpa Jim's college roommate. That's where we pick up...

"Ralph took me home with him in September 1938 to get acquainted with his folks. It was the week-end of Homecomers at Jackson and Dot [pictured at right] went with her regular boy friend to that. So I didn't get well acquainted with her on that first visit to the Henry Wilkening family. Again, what a wonderful experience, such hospitality and what good eating! That was only exceeded by a visit I made with Ralph the following spring when the strawberries were ripe. Dot was home too and I got a very good impression of my future wife who could not only cook but was very pretty as well. I filed all those good impressions for future reference."

Skipping ahead, it's now 1943, when Grandpa was training as a radar specialist in the U.S. Navy in Princeton, N.J.

"We were given a 72-hour pass in late April and I elected to go home on the Pennsylvania, taking a bus from St. Louis to Cape Girardeau, for the sole purpose of dating Dot. We spent a day together and then I had to reverse the journey and get back to Princeton on the third day of leave.

"Dot and I had a great time together and I made a few mental notes that we needed to see each other longer and more often. Shortly after I completed my training at Princeton and went by train under orders to MIT in Boston, Dot went to Washington to work for the Navy Department and we were able to arrange a number of dates on weekends. At first I took the train (9 hours by train) from Boston to Washington and then we arranged to meet in New York which is 4 hours by train from Washington and 5 hours from Boston. We stayed at Hotel New Yorker [in separate rooms, as later detailed] and, since it was hot weather, went out to Jones Beach on Long Island. On one of those trips I gave her a diamond engagement ring and we began to talk of getting married. The best chance to get married was to wait until my training was finished at MIT which would be around the first of October. So we planned for it then.

"Our wedding plans were built around the extra four days I expected to have as 'proceed' time inherent in a change of duty station. But the Navy crossed us up by losing everyone's orders! So the whole class had to wait until new orders were written; which took about a week. Dot worked for an officer in the Navy Department who, when he learned of our problem, went over to the Bureau of Naval Personal and asked where I was to be sent... That evening, when I called her, she was able to tell me where I was being sent days before the substitute orders were issued. ...We had expected to receive 'proceed' orders but didn't until the orders came, ultimately assigning me to a permanent duty station. ...We put the wedding plans on hold until we got more definite dates to go on.

"In the meantime we had more training given us at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station, and we stayed in their BOQ (bachelor officers quarters) which was absolutely spectacular, especially the food. My buddy and I agreed that being in naval aviation was an especially good assignment. We were entitled to wear the uniform of officers assigned to that branch of the Navy so I bought a green uniform to surprise Dot with. It became my wedding suit.

"Finally, on October 28 I received 'proceed' orders to report to the Naval Air Station at Oceana Virginia (right next to Norfolk). I caught the next train for Washington and called Dot. The next morning was Sunday and we went to Mt. Vernon Methodist Church where Dot had been attending and heard the usual excellent sermon given by Dr. Rustin. Earlier, when we had hoped to get married in early October, we had complied with D.C. requirements which required a license which named the minister. The license, luckily, was still good an we decided to get married that day if Dr. Rustin could do it. It was my 27th birthday, (Dot claims that I wanted the anniversary to fall on my birthday so I could remember it.) We called Dr. Rustin about 2:00 p.m. and he said he was to fly to the West Coast about 5:30 that afternoon but he could do it about 4:00. He said he had another wedding to hold in the chapel around 4:30 and if we came at 4:00 he could marry us right there before the other wedding party showed up.

"So, we had a church wedding of sorts. We never did know who had the chapel so beautifully decorated but we appreciated it all the same. We went by the historic Hotel Mayflower and I dashed in and twisted the arm of the desk clerk to give us a room. I told him I needed the room for a three-day honeymoon and really would appreciate it if he could help me out. That did it and so we spent our three days in the most luxurious and best hotel in Washington. It is still the finest. We had a wonderful wedding dinner for two in the Presidential Dining Room."

Dot and Jim in 1945, about a year after they got married

Times certainly are different, aren't they? No wedding photos, no wedding dress, no guests, no cake, no anything that all of us planning traditional weddings today obsess over. Though I imagine this type of story was not all that unusual in those days. I hope you enjoyed Grandpa's account -- if you made it all the way to the end of this post, thanks for sticking with me!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I love dahlias

How glorious are these flowers? (from an equally glorious wedding captured by Feather Love Photography) Alas, dahlias are just barely out of season for me... sad panda. I should see if I inherited the Poe green thumb and grow some of my own!

excitement! (dread?)

I just got a call from the "bridal consultant" I worked with at Bridals by Lori saying that my dress has arrived. Huzzah! Sooner than expected, for sure. Apparently they will hang onto it until I set up my alterations appointments, which should begin no later than early February given my May wedding date.

Now that they have it in, I can go to the store at any time to try on my dress before alterations begin as long as I call ahead. But... I'm pretty sure I have lost no weight at all since purchasing the dress. Maybe three pounds, tops, but I probably put that back on in candy corn over the past few weeks. I need more time! What's a girl to do?

The good news is that I ordered the dress to my measurements at the time of purchase, despite my insistence that I would lose some weight. Clearly, I have not done that, but at least my dress shouldn't be too small if I go try it on. What if it looks awful, though? I honestly doubt that will be the case, because I got a dress in a cut that is flattering to my curvy figure, but the little nagging thought is there in the back of my mind nonetheless. But then what if I decide WOOOWEE I look GOOOD, and proceed to pork out over the holidays in victorious celebration? The ideal situation here is that I go try it on and it looks fantastic now, but I somehow manage to scrape together some willpower and motivation to get in gear over the next three months and look even better by the time alterations roll around.

Readers, help me out -- what gets you in a good frame of mind to eat right and exercise? Any favorite workout DVDs or training plans or anything? Also, what would you do -- rush in to try on the dress, or wait it out until after the holidays?

photo by Our Labor of Love (klar)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

home improvement

This weekend Jon and I finally got around to painting the dining room in our apartment -- and only about three weekends after we originally planned! Not bad. The room has two doorways on opposite sides and two windows on a third wall, so it involved a LOT of painters tape, which was no fun. In the end, though, it came out great! Check out the before and after:

BEFORE
AFTER
We used Benjamin Moore's Yarmouth Blue, from the historical colors collection, at the recommendation of our architect/designer landlord. That's really just a yuppie name for light blue. Jon's already taken to calling the dining room the Carolina Room (as in, "Dinner will be served in the Carolina Room...") in honor of his favorite college basketball team.

The next step, maybe, will be to get my grandparents' old hutch out of storage in my parents' basement so that we'll have a home for weddingy stuff like china and other things that require cabinet space. Jon is very anti-clutter, I've learned, so we'll probably hold off on hauling in more furniture until it's actually needed -- but proper storage, as I've pointed out, helps avert clutter!