Thursday, December 29, 2011
I'm looking forward to the new year with a sense of gratitude for all my wonderful memories from 2011, and a sense of hope that 2012 will prove to be lovely as well.
Of course, I have a few resolutions:
First, to make the most of the time I have. I think that I waste time in a lot of ways. I sit around watching movies I don't even like. I goof off way too much on the internet. I waste time and energy hating the way I look. I get mad about stupid things and waste time holding onto that anger when I should just let it go. So my first and biggest resolution is to live my life with more intention and to gently remind myself of this goal when I stray off course.
Secondly, I resolve to write fiction (in novel, short story, or play form) or poetry at least 4 days a week. I have several stories floating around in my head and I need to get them down. I'd love to write another novel but that seems restrictive, given that at least one of the stories is in play form. Mind you, it's completely ripping Wes Anderson off in tone so I doubt it will see the light of day, but that's not why I'm resolving to write. I'm always afraid to tell the stories I imagine because I think people will recognize themselves in them and be offended if they ever happen to read them or on the off chance that I were to be published. So I'm telling myself that no one has to see what I write and repeating it over and over until the day when pigs fly and I miraculously stop caring what other people think. I just hate that I have neglected my writing for so long because it's something that I've always loved to do- I've just become too self conscious to let myself do it. I'd like to remedy that this year.
Finally, my last resolution is a carry over from 2010- I resolve to go to the dentist in 2012. I finally met my other 2010 resolution to go to the eye Dr. this year, so there's hope yet.
What are your resolutions this year?
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Here's what I'm considering for my menu:
A few favorites from years past: Rotel Dip (I've taken to calling this Cardiology Dip b/c it's sure to keep your Cardiologist in business!), Cranberry and Blue Cheese Stuffed Endives, Meringues, Fig and Prosciutto Crostini, and Baked Brie.
And a few new ideas: Chicken Salad Bites (serving my favorite recipe on crackers or toast), Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs (time to actually use my egg tray!), Ice Box Cream Cakes, and Crack Dip (a favorite from my friend Jon's mom- it's mainly Cheddar and Red Pepper Jelly)
Of course, there's also the drink menu to consider.
New Year's Eve obviously calls for a Champagne Cocktail. I'm debating between the classic, a bellini, my favorite: the Poinsettia Cocktail, or just Champagne + Vanilla Vodka garnished with a strawberry. I also think Martha's Champagne Punch looks divine.
I think that we should definitely revisit the Brandied Port (recipe for this and lots of other tasty holiday beverages in this post) and Brandy Milk Punch. But I'm still on the lookout for more drink recipes. The Bittercup sounds like something the hubby would LOVE but I tend to hate Campari.
I'm also going to offer some sparkling lemonade for a non-alchoholic option this year.
So, two questions today:
1) Which champagne drink should I serve?
2) What's your favorite NYE cocktail? I need ideas!
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
My marathon helped me drive for three days straight when I moved to Maine. It helped me climb Katahdin. It's been there through numerous travel days spent sprinting through airports desperately trying to make my flights. This accomplishment has given me a wellspring of strength and confidence to draw on whenever things get tough.
My marathon isn't the only challenge I've met that makes me feel this way. Climbing Katahdin and writing a novel (during NANOWRIMO a few years ago) give me similar feelings of strength and accomplishment. And it's not about being really good at something or having fun the entire time. My marathon time wasn't that fast, Katahdin isn't that high of a peak, and my novel is terrible. Writing my novel was at times tedious and frustrating, Katahdin was exhausting, painful, and sometimes scary, and parts of my marathon were incredibly painful. The reason that these experiences are important to me is that I chose to do something that I knew would be really hard and I stuck with it until the end. From that I gained a better awareness of my own capabilities and the confidence that comes with toughing something out.
I've had to endure bad situations in my life in the past (high school, grad school, divorce...) and I am definitely proud of how strong I had to be to get through those times. But I have so many negative emotions tied up with those experiences that it's not a good idea for me to give myself a pep talk that goes "You can do this! This isn't nearly as bad as being bullied in high school!" If I thought about stuff like that when I was already tired and miserable, I'd probably just start crying.
But having ready examples of times when I faced challenges head on and came out smiling makes all the difference. This is one of the many reasons I love to challenge myself. I'm thankful for my lousy flight this weekend because it reminded me of this benefit of choosing to challenge myself. Now I just need to decide what my next challenge will be!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
P.S. How awesome is this picture?
Sunday, November 6, 2011
First, roast a chicken. I'm actually not kidding at all. I really think that using homemade broth elevated my soup to a whole new level. I make my broth by saving the carcass and skin from a roast chicken, then baking them in a dutch oven full of water with the juice of half a lemon at 200-220F for 12 hours. I think you could also stick the same ingredients in a crock pot on low for the same amount of time. If you don't have your own stock, then use a good organic chicken stock (in all fairness you can also use any combination of chicken, veggie or beef stock and red or white or no wine). Once you procure your stock, here is the rest of the recipe.
2.5 red onions, chopped
1T balsamic vinegar
3 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 t salt
2 cups of white wine
1 quart chicken broth
2 T flour
3 T brandy
1 t pepper
2 bay leaves
Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the olive oil, then the chopped onions. Splash on the vinegar and sprinkle with salt. Cook covered on medium for 15 minutes. Stir. Continue cooking, stirring frequently for 30 more minutes. The onions should become dark and jammy.
Add 1 cup of the white wine. The wine should boil off quickly but leave everything with a bit more moisture than before.Sprinkle on the 2 T flour and stir for about 1 minute. Add the additional cup of wine, the broth, the brandy, and the bay leaves and pepper and bring everything to a boil. Boil for 30 to 45 minutes. If the soup looks to thick, add 1/2 cup of water.
When the soup is almost done, toast a slice or two of bread, and top with muenster or mozzarella cheese. Melt the cheese in a toaster oven or under your oven's broiler. Spoon the soup into a bowl and stir in a bit of grated cheese. Float the bread in the soup and enjoy!
What time consuming recipe do you think is totally worth it?
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
I definitely let blogging inertia get the better of me, to the point that I've done so many cool things in Maine that I should blog about, that the backlog is absolutely paralyzing. So I'm just going to ignore all the stuff I should be writing aboutand say in short that Maine is awesome, the food and outdoor opportunities are amazing, and I've been taking full advantage of them. This summer was temperate and beautiful and with the exception of a few gross cold rainy days (like today) this fall has also been gorgeous so far. Whew! Glad to have that out of the way!
Now I'm going to blog about something that has been weighing heavily on my mind. Sweatpants. You see, I don't own any. And on gross, rainy days like today, it's proving to be a problem. I own tons of hooded sweatshirts and fleeces, but aside from a pair of oversized trackpants from New Zealand (courtesy of the husband, who is objecting to the title "Dr. Hubby") and a pair of fleece pants (also slightly too big) I got on super sale at the North Face Outlet in Freeport (how can I pass up anything North Face for $20?)- I have nothing to keep my bottom half warm.
I was looking online for sweatpants and I realized exactly why I don't have sweatpants. They are ridiculous nowdays. The most striking example of this is, of course, the Victoria Secret Pink line of sweatpants. For $42 you can wrap your butt in $2 worth of jersey fleece, decorated with enough hearts to make cupid say "That's a bit much." There's also an $80 dollar option for all you One Percenters who'd like to add $5 worth of sequins to one of your legs.
I thought that this was the height of misplaced vanity until I realized that Abercrombie and Fitch have an entire page devoted to detailing the 6 different fits of women's sweatpants that they offer. I'm sorry, "super skinny" sweatpants aren't sweatpants- they're really ugly leggings that you can't wear with anything b/c they've got a freaking drawstring messing up the line at the waist. And for a mere $40 to $70 (depending on cut), they can be yours. They don't even look warm.
Look, I'm basically giving up by even shopping online for sweatpants. My google search history makes me look fat right now. I don't care how flattering you try to make an inherently unflattering style of pants- I'm still not ever going to wear them in public. And chances are, if I'm in sweatpants I'm also going to be under a blanket and therefore not worried about how my butt looks- I just want it to be warm! I just want plain grey or black pants that don't have any writing on them, don't cost an arm and a leg, have an elastic waist and banded legs, and keep me reasonably warm. I've resigned myself to the fact that they'll make me look like my grandmother. I'm okay with that.
I considered ordering a pair of Cabela's sweatpants. The logo is fairly non-annoying, the brand loyalty would appeal to the husband and at $30 they're comparitively a steal- but I really want some truly hideous old fashioned banded sweatpants. If I'm going to give up, I'm going to do it with flair! (More practically, I'm ruining the hems on all of my pants b/c they're too long- curse my shortness!)
And then it occurred to me that the problem was that I just hadn't sunk low enough to find the perfect pair of sweatpants. So I googled "Walmart" and there they are- exactly what I'm looking for. A 2 pack of boys XL Hanes Sweatpants for $9. I seriously think I'm going to have to make a trip out to South Portland to get them this weekend.
Do you like the fancy pants sweatpants, or are you, like myself, a sweatpants purist?
Friday, August 26, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
And yes, I know, I've been gone for a month. (And it was a fun, momentous, month- full of all sorts of bloggable things!) All I can say is that I'll try to catch up eventually. Sorry!
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
In other news, my weekend of camping was absolutely perfect. It was much cooler in Acadia National Park (I'm sure being in a well ventilated tent in a shady campground had something to do with that as well) and we were very happy with the Seawall campsite in general. You hike in up to 300 ft. to get to your campsite- which is far enough in that you don't feel like you're sleeping in a parking lot. The sites are close together, but wooded enough that you feel like you have a little bit of privacy. The facilities are clean and although there aren't showers, there are plenty of bathrooms and plenty of running water.
We ate ridiculously well on this trip- we had steaks planned for dinner the first night and impulsively stopped at the Trenton Lobster Pound on the way in and picked up a lobster to have Surf and Turf for dinner. Dessert, of course, was s'mores. Breakfast the next morning was bacon, eggs, and leftover steak. Lunch and dinner on Saturday were pretty unremarkable camping fare, but for dessert I stuffed bananas with chocolate, peanut butter and marshmallows, wrapped them in tin-foil and set them in the coals for 5 minutes. The result was delicious, messy, and decadent!
We did a few short hikes that didn't make up for the delicious calories we consumed but did provide us with some amazing views. All and all it was great to spend some time relaxing and enjoying being outside! These pictures are of Dr. Hubby on the Wonderland Trail which takes you down to a granite rock lined shore, and of me on the Ocean Path which winds along seacliffs overlooking the ocean.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
I've also realized that when you live in a place that doesn't have year round 100% humidity, bread dries up instead of getting moldy within a day or two. As a result, I know have at least a year's supply of bread crumbs as well.
Of course the catch is that I need to actually use all this stuff before I completely fill up my freezer!
Still, it feels good to be a little less wasteful.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
This was a housewarming gift. The only reason it's still alive is I don't touch it. (Although I did move it outside so it could get some sun today- so it's days may be numbered!)
Rosemary. Most people grow so much rosemary that they can't use it all. In the past mine has lasted up to a week.
Lavender. You can't grow lavender in the south because it's too hot, so I'm really hoping that my lavender will actually grow because I love the stuff. Best smell on the planet!
The nice farmer at the Farmer's Market told me I can grow strawberries in a regular pot if I pinch off the creepers that grow. We'll see if it works!
Mint #1. He's way too big for this pot so we'll see what happens. He'll probably eat me a la Little Shop of Horrors in a couple of weeks.
Mint #2 is more pot plant sized- for now at least.
All together now. You can't see it but over by the rosemary in the far left of this picture there's a wooden rocking chair.
Friday, July 8, 2011
I always feel very intimidated when I pack for Europe because I don't want to look too much like a touristy American and I feel a similar sense of intimidation regarding NYC. I definitely don't want to look like a bumpkin!
We're going to be there for 2 nights/3 days in mid-August. What should I wear? I'm thinking casual-ish dresses with sandals would be comfortable during the day and not to hot and then maybe a couple of nicer dresses with heels for dinner...
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
We landed in Madrid on the first day of our honeymoon and spent the first day traveling to Cordoba and exploring the city. Cordoba is known for its Mezquita (a mosque that was later turned into a Catholic Cathedral) and La Juderia (a historic Jewish neighborhood full of winding cobblestone streets). Unfortunately due to Semana Santa (Holy Week) festivities we were unable to go inside the Mezquita. Instead we wandered around the city taking pictures, watched part of the Semana Santa procession in the courtyard of the Mezquita, and ate a delicious huntsman's paella which featured, as I recall, what was probably lamb or goat, asparagus, and white beans in saffron flavored rice.
Staying up for dinner, which is famously late (like 10 or 11) in Spain was a battle against jet lag, and after dinner we opted not to partake of the famed Spanish night life. The next morning we woke up early and caught a bus to Sevilla where we would experience Semana Santa in all it's glory.
It also has some lovely plazas- this one would have been more lively had it not just stopped raining
Our drive up to Portland was exhausting but went really well, in that everything made it up in 1 piece and we didn't have any significant Penske-truck-pulling-a-trailer mishaps, but Dr. Hubby swears that he will never drive a moving truck again!
Our apartment is wonderful and nearly done- once I hang up our pictures and figure out where to store the colony of computer related cords living in the corner of our front room I'll post a bunch of pictures. :) I love it because we actually managed to avoid cramming every inch of it with furniture. Having a bit of space makes it feel very peaceful. That being said, we still feel like we have too much stuff and took another car load of things to goodwill once we got here. I also love our location- Munjoy Hill feels a lot like the Marigny in New Orleans and we are close to the water, a gorgeous park, tons of restaurants, a coffee shop, and a gourmet/healthy food market.
Portland is amazing. Living here right now really does feel like being on vacation. My "office" is a sunroom that had a great view of Casco Bay and I walk my dogs in the Eastern Promenade (a big park leading down to the bay) every day. I've taken them down to the beach a few times but they are horrified by the fact that the water moves! They really love being in the park though and when it's not crowded we take them off their leashes and let them run back and forth between us. Bernie, lazy creature that he is, kind of gamely trots along until he gets too tired, but Hereaux SPRINTS with this big doggie grin on his face. He is in doggie heaven here!
I've found a lot of things I love about Portland already- The weather, of course, is perfect. I've also joined a yoga studio that I really love, I run a weekly 5K race (and have plans to run many more races), I've gone to to Farmer's Market and tried every strange veggie I found (fiddleheads! kohlrabi! salad greens with edible flowers! garlic scapes!), I've done a First Friday Art Walk, I watched the 4th of July Fireworks over the Prom from my porch, I've eaten at a lot of great restaurants, and I've cooked some pretty good meals here as well. And of course, the only pictures I've taken have been of dogs and food. :)
Fiddleheads! (and grilled chicken)
Periwinkles- aka snails! I basically pulled these out of a tide pool and boiled them- they were tasted like clams!
Speaking of clams- this guy was the size of my palm. Divine paired with fresh bread from the Standard Baking Co.
I also really like how environmentally friendly Portland is. Gone are the days of having to drive to find a place to recycle (and only being able to recycle newspapers). We have free curbside recycling and we definitely generate more recycling than actual trash because they take everything. It's awesome. Less awesome is having to pay $1 per special trash bag to get rid of our trash, but in all honesty, I appreciate the incentive to not just throw away stuff. Because we are total cheapos, we've also started a compost bin (despite the fact that I have a black thumb and kill every plant I try to grow) and I have been saving a bag of veggie scraps in the freezer for stock. I actually made my first veggie stock on Monday and plan to make chicken stock from the bones of last night's roast chicken tomorrow.
Working at home is going pretty well- I've been able to meet or exceed all of my deadlines so far and I really enjoy wearing yoga pants all the time, eating omelets whenever I want to, and painting my nails unprofessional colors. :) It can feel a little isolating but I'm making a point to actually leave the house every day (and walking the dogs doesn't count) which helps me feel more connected to the outside world.
In the next few weeks I'm looking forward to camping in Acadia National Park (Dr. Hubby talked me into getting us new tent and me a sleeping bag), running more races, going to the Farmer's Market more regularly (I've missed the past 2 weeks), doing a walking tour of the Hidden Gardens of Munjoy Hill, and taking a trip back to New Orleans for work (I need my boudin fix!). I'll also be going to D.C. soon to visit friends, and will be celebrating my 30th birthday in NYC with my inlaws since my brother-in-law is turning 3o three days after I do!
There are a lot of things I want to do but don't have concrete plans for too- trail running, getting out on the water (be it in a kayak, paddle board or real boat, I'm not picky!), skiing and snowshoeing this winter, and making friends and workout buddies.
Overall, I miss my family and friends but am incredibly thrilled to finally living in Portland. I still walk around and think to myself- I can't believe I actually live here. :) So far, the adventure is going well!
Thursday, June 9, 2011
I think a lot of this angst is coming from the fact that we went out of town for a wedding this weekend and lost Monday because of flight delays- so we didn't end up having as much time as we hoped for. I'm also kind of bummed because I had to say goodbye to my dear friend Stephanie and my awesome running buddy Margee this week. This is tempered somewhat by the fact that I'm returning to Nola for a work trip in 2 weeks.
On the bright side, I'm looking forward to seeing my friend Meg and my brother-in-law Tyler and his girlfriend Kate on the way up to Maine. I'm also looking forward to cooler weather (it should be in the 60's when we get there on Sunday) and to finally seeing our awesome apartment! This move is a big adventure and I've always wanted to live somewhere other than the Deep South, so I'm definitely ready for this new and exciting period of my life to begin. I just wish I could fast forward through the physical move itself! It's going to be a loooong 3 days of driving!
And I haven't forgotten that I still need to write about Spain. I'll get to it, I promise!
What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
However, I promise I'll post several posts about my honeymoon in Spain because it was wonderful and I don't think that one post would do it justice. (Also, it would be book length.)
On top of all that, the move to Portland is rapidly approaching! Last week, Dr. Hubby flew up to Portland and found us the most amazing apartment! It's 2 blocks away from the Eastern Promenade (a big park) with a view of Casco Bay. The neighborhood is called Munjoy Hill and is full of coffee shops and good restaurants. Best of all, the apartment itself is beautiful! There is a built-in teak desk and a built-in leather couch in the living room, there are stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops in the kitchen, and a great sunroom that I am planning to turn into an office because, luckily for me, my company is going to let me work remotely! (Holy run-on sentence, Batman!) Our big move is scheduled for the second week in June!
So that's a very brief update on what's been going on with me these days! More to come, I promise!
Sunday, April 17, 2011
I think I've thanked Meg a dozen times by now but she keeps sending me things that are more and more beautiful and I feel like I just can't thank her enough. I'm completely blown away!
I just want to record a few loosely connected things so excuse me if this blog isn't entirely coherent.
This weekend has definitely felt like the start of our honeymoon, despite being fairly chore laden- mainly because Dr. Hubby has insisted on serving me coffee ice cream topped with pralines for breakfast.
Yesterday we picked up a bunch of used books to take on the honeymoon and leave when we finish them. I love that Dr. Hubby agrees with me that once needs at least 4 books for a 2.5 week vacation.
We decided at the last minute to go to Buffalo Exchange to get Dr. Hubby a new jacket today. He walked out with an navy Eli Tahari linen suit for $32. Some people have all the luck!
I think I've finally succeeded in packing light for a trip. Of course, the key is to plan to re-wear everything and to not travel in the winter. :) I also realized that if I ironed things like pajamas and underwear, they folded up much smaller than they otherwise would. I'm perhaps overly proud of this fact.
Overall I'm taking 2 pairs of jeans, 3 dresses, 1 skirt, and 9 shirts for 18 days. I also have a trench coat, a cardigan, a pair of leggings, 2 light scarves, a thin pullover sweater, a black tank top, 1 pair of PJ's, and a raincoat. My extravagance is that I'm taking 3 pairs of shoes- I'm bringing the Pumas and Birkenstocks I originally planned to bring, but wearing my Naturalizers on the plane. They're not very pretty shoes, but I think they'll come in handy, especially with the dresses when it's too cold for the Birkenstocks. (Temperatures range from a high of 80 in Andalusia to a low of 45 in Barcelona.) Dr. Hubby is bringing the suit, two pairs of pants, 2 pairs of shoes, a raincoat and 6 shirts. So once again, he's beating me in the packing light department. I still think i did pretty well this time, and my clothes fold up into smaller pieces than his do anyway. :) My color palette for the trip is mostly black and charcoal with accents of purple and green- so hopefully I'm successfully walking the line between completely drab and "look at the clownish American!" :)
I think we're just about ready to go- we still have to clean the house so we don't horrify our cat sitter with all of the post wedding clutter that is currently filling up every nook and cranny. (I'm procrastinating at the moment.) So I hope everyone has a lovely 2.5 weeks! I'm sure I'll have a ton to write about when I get back!
Saturday, April 16, 2011
I can't believe it's been a week since I got married! Since we're leaving for our honeymoon in Spain on Monday I thought I should blog while I had a chance!
The short story is that despite having a somewhat non-traditional wedding with different events ALL throughout the day- everything was absolutely perfect and beautiful. The day exceeded my expectations in every way and I hope that everyone there had at least as good of a time as I did.
I want to blog about all the little details in part so I'll remember it and in part so that anyone looking for New Orleans wedding ideas can hopefully find this and get some inspiration. I think that many of my vendors aren't your standard wedding vendors- but they really should be because so many of them were so wonderful! (I seriously hugged all of my vendors.)
Events started on Saturday night with our rehearsal dinner at Calcasieu. I joke that my bridezilla moment was when I decided a week prior to the wedding that needed flowers for the rehearsal dinner because I was worried that it would be too "plain". I ended up adding flowers to my order with the florist at the last minute (more on that later) but I shouldn't have worried because the quality of the food overshadowed everything else about that evening.
I sat at the table with all of my very picky relatives from Mississippi and really enjoyed watching them be blown away by the food. We started with Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, then had Smothered Greens, Shrimp and Eggplant Dressing with Roast Pork with Onion Jus, and Andouille Sausage with Green Chiles and Creole Cream Cheese Grits as entrees, then finished with Brown Sugar Lemon Meringue Pie and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie for dessert. My relatives all said that it was the best gumbo they'd ever had and the best meal they'd had in New Orleans- and I caught most of them going back for seconds. I think that most of them planned to go eat at Cochon again before leaving town. My biggest worry at that point was that the food at Calcasieu would outshine the rest of the weekend- it was unbelievably good!
Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early since the wedding itself was at 10:30. My photographer (and dear friend), the ridiculously talented Meghan Campbell, did double duty as my makeup artist. She arrived bright and early, along with Diem Lu from the Keith Noonan Salon- to help me get gorgeous! Again, I can only say wonderful things about both my makeup and hair- they lasted from 7:45 am to 12 am- amazing! If you live in New Orleans and need an updo- go see Diem! She's a miracle worker!
My flowers were also delivered Saturday morning. I used Harkins the Florist for the flowers for my rehearsal and wedding and my MIL used them for a family brunch she hosted the next day and we were both extremely pleased with how easy Harkins was to work with and how well our flowers turned out. I honestly couldn't stop looking at my bouquets because I was obsessed with how beautiful they were. I also have to point out that they were incredibly accommodating when I decided to expand my order a week prior to the wedding.
I really loved my wedding ceremony. We hired a violinist- Stephanie Screen, and I'm really glad that we did. Beautiful music added so much nuance to our ceremony.
Our ceremony was performed by Benjy's good friend who is a Methodist Preacher. I loved his sermon because he told a really funny story that involved him and Benjy trying to cook a live lobster and being terrified of it until his vegetarian girlfriend (now wife) showed them how ridiculous they were being by picking up the lobster! I loved that he had a personal story to tell!
I didn't anticipate being very emotional, but I found myself with tears streaming down my face during our wedding vows. This is just further proof that I'm a total sap. :) (And I have to say that despite my tears, my makeup didn't budge!)
Ralph's on the Park for brunch. We started with turtle soup, then had a choice of shrimp and grits or cochon du lait over poached eggs and biscuits. Dessert was chocolate and Kahlua mousse in pecan crisp cups. Everything was to die for, and Ralph's is just a beautiful restaurant.
After brunch, Benjy and I went with Meg and her husband Eric to take pictures in City Park. I really enjoyed having Meg take my pictures. It's always interesting to see how you are seen by your friends, and of course it helps to have friends who are *really* talented photographers. I really enjoyed watching Meg and Eric play with light and just enjoy the amazing backdrop that City Park provides- but I also really enjoyed watching them work as a team. Seeing another couple work so well together is a great way to start off one's marriage!
I've seen a few of the pictures they took so far and I am incredibly impressed- I'm so happy that they were there to capture my wedding day! If you live in Chattanooga you should really check out Soliphoto- they are outstanding!
After we took our wedding photos, we went back to the Peristyle to have a picnic with all of our guests. (I told you we held events ALL DAY!)
We had the Peristyle all day, and so we decided to have a picnic there between the wedding and the reception and invite everyone who would also be going to the reception. This was the biggest logistical difficulty but I was fairly shielded from that because Benjy did all the work for the picnic.
We chose to self-cater it because City Park charges you $3 per person if you bring in a non-city park caterer (for that and power washing related reasons, I'd give the Peristyle an A- overall), but cooking food yourself is free. We grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and turkey burgers; and had baked beans and Zapp's chips as sides. I also made sure that the picnic fit into the theme of the rest of the day by making sure that there were pretty beverage dispensers with lemonade and tea; flowers (hydrangeas in mason jars) and white table clothes on the tables.
Self catering was difficult because we had to figure out who would bring the food and beverages and cook the burgers. It worked out perfectly, but only because some good friend stepped in to start grilling when all of our groomsmen got stuck in traffic. I'm glad we had the picnic though because we've gotten some feedback from people saying that they were glad to have something to do during the day and prior to the reception so they didn't feel bored or lonely.
The final event of the night was our wedding reception. We held our reception at the Lemieux Art Gallery on Julia Street. Lemieux was such a cool place for our reception! We didn't have to do much in the way of decorating because there was lots of beautiful art- and the space itself is just really beautiful and unique. They were also really easy to work with.
Food at the reception was provided by Michael's catering, which is the catering branch of Matt and Naddie's. It was outstanding. Our good friend Jon chose to have his last meal in New Orleans before he moved to DC for his residency at Matt and Naddie's because the food at our reception was so wonderful. We also chose to have Haydels king cakes instead of a wedding cake, and I think that the king cakes were a big hit! I don't like "regular" cake, so this was an easy decision for me. :)
Debauche: The Russian Mafia Band played and absolutely brought down the house. Benjy and I were both in favor of getting a band we love rather than a "wedding band" and it really ended up making the reception. They were so much fun! Our reception was pretty non-traditional- we didn't cut the cake or throw bouquets or garters but I think that the great music more than made up for that!
Pearl's Place for my wedding dress (which was actually a pretty inexpensive Bridesmaid's dress ordered in white), wedding bands were from Symmetry, and had my nails done at Rose's Nails on Carrollton and Oak (and I have to say that manicure lasted a full week without chipping- amazing!). I booked a block of rooms at the Embassy Suites on Julia. While the location was perfect, I have to say that I was a little disappointed with my dealings with them. They were supposed to expand the block after our initial 20 spots (10 on Friday and 10 on Sat.) filled up, but they were unable to because they were booked. I understand that, but I wish they had let us know. Finding that out when my mother in law was suddenly unable to get a room on our block was fairly unpleasant. Overall I'd give them a B compared to the giant A++ I'm giving almost everyone else.
I know this post is dragging on forever, but here is my little bit of wedding planning advice. First, choose a photographer whose work you love because your wedding memories are precious things that you want to preserve. After that, spend the majority of your money on food/beverages and music; and choose beautiful settings that don't need very much in the way of decoration so you can save money that way. Overall, try to focus on what makes you feel joyful about your wedding day. Even if things don't go exactly as planned- only you know that plan! So if you don't sweat the small stuff, your guests will never know there was anything to sweat about at all! That being said, the more you can do in advance, the better! Like I said, the only challenging part of the day was dealing with the picnic logistics because everything else had already been taken care of.
I'm currently wound up in packing for my honeymoon, but hopefully once I get back I'll remember to write a post all about what I packed and how well it did or didn't work out. (Hint: 18 days, 9 shirts- will I make it?)
My last bit of news is that it's time to retire Benjy's last nickname (my darling fiance). I'm thinking that since he's graduating from Med School the week after we get return from Spain, I'll go ahead and promote him to Dr. Hubby. :)
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Wedding preparations are going great and I am so grateful to my darling fiance because he he has been incredibly involved and helpful throughout this entire process, but especially this week- he's been working his butt off to get everything ready. A girl couldn't ask for a more responsible, considerate or hard working fiance! I appreciate him so much and I'm so happy and excited that we're getting married this weekend! I don't want to get too sappy, but I can honestly say that before I met my darling fiance I couldn't have imagined that someone so perfect for me even existed. It was more than I even thought to hope for. I thank my lucky stars that I was able to meet and fall in love with him. :)
When I'm not busy stressing myself out over a million little details (because let's face it, it's kind of inevitable the week before your wedding), I'm really aware of how lucky I am and I feel so happy. I'm overwhelmed by the love and help and support that we've received from our families and friends and I feel so lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life!
I'm also really thrilled that we have so many people who care enough about us to come in from out of town for our wedding. I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of people I haven't seen in quite some time (and some of my darling fiance's family I haven't gotten a chance to meet) and I'm so flattered that they've chosen to travel to share our day with us!
I can't wait for Saturday! I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, enjoying the celebration, and most of all, getting married!
I'll leave you with the music that will be played when I walk down the isle- Bach's Wachet Auf. Enjoy!
Friday, April 1, 2011
My favorite thing to buy at thrift stores and used clothing stores is jeans. In general, I'm never completely happy with the jeans I own and am always on the lookout for the perfect pair. I've found that a good way to get designer jeans on the cheap is to look at used clothing stores. I think they have more name brand jeans than Salvation Army type stores do these days because people know they can sell them. The other benefit of shopping for second hand jeans is that they're perfectly worn in!
On this particular shopping trip, I found a pair of DKNY jeans for $16. Sweet! Less sweet was the logo in cursive on the back pocket, surrounded by tiny rhinestones. Personally, I don't like my jeans to scream "Hey! Look directly at my right butt cheek!"
Fortunately, I know from experience (I'm looking at you, Michael Kors. Put down the bedazzler and walk slowly away.) that it's not all that difficult to remove rhinestones and logos that aren't embroidered from your jeans. Rhinestones tend to pop right off if you use your fingernails and I had good luck shaving the logo off of these jeans with a knife blade. (Mine was pretty dull so I didn't have to worry about cutting myself- if you're going to try this at home, use a cutting board!) Sometimes when I do this, I can see a little bit of an indentation where the rhinestones and logo were, but a couple runs through the washer take care of it. Of course, I didn't think to take a picture of the jeans until I was done so you'll have to take my word for it. Sorry!
As I was scraping her name off the butt of my new jeans today, I wondered who would be more dismayed by my anti-brand attitude- Donna Karan or the 6th grade version of myself who would have killed for a pair of brand name jeans (specifically, Girbaud, since it was the early 90's)?
Do you buy used clothing? If so, what are your fix it up tricks?
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
On Saturday, we attended Hogs for a Cause and ate lots of Barbecue while helping to support pediatric brain cancer research. I had pulled pork macaroni, boudin balls, brisket sliders, and a salted fudge brownie. Stephanie and Brandon gave him a confederate flag belt buckle/beer opener for his birthday. I'm sure the people in Maine will love it. :P
That night, we went to the LPO and saw Sir James Galway. Sir James Galway was awesome- incredibly talented, very Irish, and really quite adorable. I told my darling fiance that I want to take him home and keep him in a shoe box under my bed. (For the record, I also feel this way about Danny Devito.)
Sunday was my darling fiance's 31st birthday. Of course, I chose to celebrate this momentous occasion with lots of food. In the morning, I made him eggs with black truffle butter, and for dinner I bought a pheasant from Rare Cuts for him to cook on the grill. The pheasant turned out really well- I butterflied it, rubbed it with honey and olive oil, and then he weighed it down on the grill with several cast iron skillets and cooked it for 30 minutes, turning it every 10 minutes (then every 5 minutes for the last 10, so it would be even). I served it with a side salad and mashed celery root with cranberry wensleydale cheese.
Dessert was a double peanut butter iced cake with chocolate ganache. It was a hit. :)
Hopefully, we'll have at least as much fun next year for my darling fiance's first birhtday as a married man! :)
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
I came to value my name as something that was mine because I worked so hard to get it back and I'm not really psyched about the idea of changing it again. I've used my name professionally for a number of years and it is also on both of my diplomas- I think it would be especially difficult to try to go by a new name when potentially applying for jobs because all of my references know me by my maiden name.
On the other hand, it kind of goes against my sense of fairness not to change my name this time. My darling fiance doesn't care one way or the other, as long as our children have his name rather than a hyphen (which is fine by me). So he, at least, isn't concerned with the fairness of the act. (He does joke that the people at our kids' school won't let me pick up the children without calling him-haha.)
I've been putting off making a decision because I can't change it until after the honeymoon anyway due to my passport being in my maiden name. I'm kind of leaning towards not legally changing my name and using it professionally but not minding if people address me socially with my darling fiance's last name. Hopefully this won't cause undue confusion.
What I really would like is advice from other women who haven't taken their husband's names. Did you have any complications dealing with things like signing loans together, getting on each other's insurance, etc....?