Friday, December 31, 2010

Merry Christmas! (Part 2)

More presents! Oh, and general merriment J 

One of my big ticket items was a Nook from my sister! Up until now, I have been purposefully avoiding eReaders because I just love books and don’t want to contribute to their obsolescence. But as Mike and Beef pointed out, I can do both. I buy all my books and keep them- it’s my prize collection. But I sometimes read what is commonly referred to as ‘chick Lit’- you know, Bridget Jones, Jennifer Weiner, Jane Green, those types. They are great subway books- light enough to be able to follow while someone is drunkenly serenading me or playing a brass drum practically in my lap. (Both of which have happened in the last month. Shout out to the 6 train!) Anyway, I don’t feel the need to ‘own’ those. And I have to admit, I love that I can just download some books when I need a one in time for the next morning’s commute instead of trudging to the bookstore every time.

Not that I won’t keep trudging to the bookstores! There are so many great bookstores just in Brooklyn I want to give my patronage to, and I made a vow to myself that this year I would buy, if not exclusively, at least primarily from them. I let my Barnes & Noble membership lapse. Generally I go there because the smaller, ‘better’ book stores don’t carry as much chick lit, but if I’m downloading that instead- win/win!

Not that I shouldn't be proud of this...

{By the way, I kind of hate the term Chick Lit, but it’s just easier to use in this case. Please don’t stone me.}

My sister called Mike to make sure that he wasn’t getting me a Nook and to find out whether I wanted one, and even though I’d told him not to get me one, he gave my sister the go ahead. And I’m glad he did, although I know his motive was to get me to stop buying so many physical books- one of our recurring disagreements is over clutter. I’m a pack rat, and he seems to be getting increasingly neat as he ages. We’re a regular Odd Couple, it’s true.

Anyway, I also got a beautiful coat that I desperately needed from Michael’s mother, as well as new sheets and pillowcases- also desperately needed. I was going to wait for any household items, since we’ll be registering sometime in the next year, but we really did need those sheets now. Our current 'collection' forces us to mix and match brick red, hot pink, navy blue and this hideous primary colored stripe and polka dot patterned sheet. Oh, and every single one is ripped. Classy. I also got some stemless champagne glasses and a NY Giants apron. Guess which one is my favorite and which is Mike’s?

Christmas dinner was at Mike’s parents’ house and my sister came too. Highlights: I ate some of a piece of cheesecake-topped red velvet cake that was later revealed to contain 630 calories per slice, went a little nuts with the after dinner spirits (at one point I was chasing Courvoisier with Godiva chocolate liqueur and then chasing that with pink champagne- surprisingly, not the best combo!), lost every beer pong game I played, and stayed up drinking and talking with one of Mike’s step-sisters until 3:30 am. The good times were worth the killer hangover the next day!

We also did stockings and presents with my sister at her apartment with her dog and roommates’ puppy on Christmas Eve, who tore every piece of wrapping paper to shreds.


Remy in her Christmas sweater from her godparents! ;)

Then we got snowed in by the Blizzard the day after Christmas.

That was a fun drive.

Now, finally, we are home, ready to spend a quiet New Years weekend playing with our new toys. Happy Holidays to all!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Merry Christmas! (Part 1)

Our first Christmas as an engaged couple! I knew it was going to be a difficult Christmas for me this year, but I was determined to be cheerful, and we had a nice time. Now let’s get down to the important part- the presents!

Mike and I put a spending limit on ourselves that was half what we spent last year, since we’re saving up for the wedding. It was also a good idea to put the brakes on our spending, as it’s been escalating- last year I bought him a flat screen TV. I just couldn’t top that this year!

Every year I try to make a keepsake from a part of our tree. Aw.

And from champagne corks! Jessica started it!

Mike thinks it's really cute. (No.)

So I got him a few things he asked for- a subscription to Gamefly ($12 instead of $100 for the two games he wanted- score!), some accessories for his phone (discount from sister, score again!), some clothes, shoes, a cable for the computer and some things for his guitar, which included his ‘big’ present- some type of noise eliminator thing that cost half of his total.

I did pretty good, for him. Not only did I get some good deals, some of his presents benefited me again this year (see big screen TV above). The cable was so we could watch movies from the computer on the TV (already put to use when I made him watch The Best of Amy Poehler last night) and one of the phone accessories is a car charger for our twin Blackberries. Not to mention I picked out his new clothes myself at Brooklyn Industries, a nice compromise of casual clothes I wouldn’t mind seeing him in, that he doesn’t mind wearing. Wardrobe crisis solved! (i.e. I win.)

Now for me! I got a few things I specifically asked for, like a watering can and a dance DVD. I got about 40 Ferrero Rochers (little joke of ours), a memory card to put music on my phone (plus a promise to help me load it up), 2 books plus a Borders gift card, an electronic photo frame (and something else I can't remember but I;m sure I just loooved!) Unfortunately Mike had a medical issue pop up and was unable to finish shopping, so he ‘owes me’ a few more things, which I doubt I’m going to ask him to follow through on. I’m quite happy.

Although he did flake out on one thing- for four years now I’ve been asking him to get me stuff at Victoria’s Secret, and he is just too intimidated. This year I literally spelled out exactly what kind of underwear I wanted, and reminded him again how the VS salesgirls are used to talking to husbands, fianc├ęs and boyfriends (and girlfriends) and won’t even blink if he asks for assistance. Trust me- years ago I was one! I saw a lot of boobs, a lot of nervous significant others and my fair share of sleezoids and snickering teenagers. Everybody loved waiting on the nervous boyfriends- not least of all because you could usually up-sell the bejeezus out of them. Hell, I thought Mike might even get a little kick out of having some pretty little thing pick out panties for him (er, for him to buy, for me, of course).

But once again, Mikey was too shy. I promised not to embarrass him too much on this blog, but he swore he was going to go through with it this year, so I am calling him out!

Mike's worst nightmare!

So that’s our Christmas together. More to come on things other than gifts- if anyone's interested in that.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snowed In

Well, I wanted to post some Christmas updates, but we're snowed in in NJ! The Christmas Blizzard of 2010 trapped us at my future in-laws, who are probably up to here with family togetherness by now.

Hopefully by mid-afternoon the State of Emergency will be over and we can start inching our way up the parkway- speed limits are around 25 mph right now, and the BQE is closed along our route, so we'll have to improvise.

As antsy as i am to get home, I'm very lucky to have a warm place stocked with food and Christmas present books (more on that soon!) and the day off from work. Trying to keep positive for now- when we get home, we'll have to dig a parking spot out on our street- and Mike is on bedrest for a health issue, so the shoveling is all on me! Flexing my muscles as we speak...

Here's a picture I took of the beach in Long Branch yesterday when the snow was just starting. Happy shoveling to all my Northeastern friends!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Grand Chic Art-tastic Museum Wedding

Today, we finally made it to the Montclair Art Museum, a place that’s been high on my list for weeks. (Excuse my inflated post title- I'm pretty excited about this place!)

The Museum has a large hall with a huge skylight, lots of custom lighting, and a stage area for the band or DJ. A screen can be lowered for a video montage, and raised again to show the windows from the galleries above. For a lower fee, you can rent the hall alone, but the higher fee gives you and your guests access to the whole museum- you can have your cocktail hour in the beautiful entrance hall, and roam the many galleries. There are many pretty rooms, a variety of different exhibits and nooks to explore. It will give our guests something to look at, and provide tons of great photo opps.  

There’s a great prep kitchen for our caterer, and they can provide tables and chairs, which cuts down on rentals- most of the places we’ve seen don’t. A circular drive pulls up to the columned entrance- valet parking is optional. There is an elevator but the stair case from cocktail hour to the main hall isn't bad and has art of its own.

What can I say? We love it. It’s on the higher side of the budget spectrum, of course. But I can clearly envision it- to be honest, this is the place that’s been in my head for weeks. Over the course of the next few weeks we’ll continue to look at venues, and as spring approaches we’ll have to sit down and finally hammer out an exact budget. As far as the bigger budget scenario goes, though- ladies and gentleman, we have a front runner.
Here are some photos of the galleries and hall (some mine, the night time/better looking ones from the website):

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Inspiration Board/Blog- Lavender

I’ve found a tutorial for making an Inspiration board on my computer, which, I’m going to try to do soon. I’m also working on setting up something in my house, like a cork board. In the meantime, I’ll post inspirations here as they come.
Since I signed up for some wedding sites I’ve been getting mailings from businesses across the tri-state area. Something arrived a few weeks ago that struck me- a post card from Pleasant Valley Lavender in Morganville, NJ.
How pretty is that?

So, first, I haven’t chosen colors yet. I don’t know if I’m even going to. And a lot will depend on the venue, of course. But when I sat down to make this blog, I chose the color combo of purple, turquoise and dark gray. I just like the way it looks. And then this purple and turquoise post card shows up… hm. 
Also, pick your own lavender! Very affordable! I’ve toyed with the idea of arranging my own flowers, but I’m afraid of how they’ll turn out, seeing as my flower arranging skills are pretty amateur. And I don’t want to be worrying about anything on the day of or day before the wedding;  I’m enough of a worrier as it is. I just want to focus on the ceremony. But simply picking lavender and making bunches doesn’t sound too taxing! And I can probably get my bridesmaids to help (thanks girls!).
I’ve seen images of single-flower and/or color bouquets and I think it looks very sophisticated. I can envision everything black and white with just a splash of purple. I like it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wedding Therapy

I don’t mean Wedding Therapy as in couples therapy or Pre-Cana. I’m not referring to needing therapy to deal with the stress of planning it and negotiating with relatives and caterers and the like. In fact, just the opposite.

Planning my wedding is helping me, in a way that seems far too simplistic for someone who’s done the whole therapy and medication route a few times over. I’ve always hated when those who were depressed or grieving were advised to ‘get a hobby’. So it’s a little unnerving to find that in this case, it’s actually working.

I’ve been meaning to write about what I’m grieving over, in case someone is reading this blog and doesn’t know the events of the past year, but every time I try I get overwhelmed. I’m going to make one last attempt.

My mom died this summer. She got very sick, very fast; it was a harrowing, confusing case of a rare cancer. As with any loss, especially one in which you are forced to watch the person who means the most to you suffer, it has ripped me apart. I’ve had a hard time moving forward with my life.

While my mom was sick, I insisted on staying calm and cheerful when speaking to others as much as possible. I even managed to give her eulogy. This required reserves of strength I didn’t know I possessed. Once it was over, I collapsed in on myself. I still insist on ‘keeping it up’ for the sake of others. But privately, I was depleted. Food lost its flavor, former interests lost their shine. The only thing that kept me going was Michael. I couldn’t muster enthusiasm for anything else.

Until now. We got engaged in October, and if Michael had asked me if I was ready before he actually asked me to marry him, I would have said I wasn’t. As it is, I did have to secretly lock myself in my bedroom and cry a little the day of our engagement. I’m still really sad. I’m still angry.

But planning this wedding has been a godsend. I realized it could be a time of sorrow, always thinking of how my mother should be here so we could do this together. Every girl wants her mother with her at her wedding- I know I do. It is hard when I come across advice for Mothers of the Bride in magazines and on blogs, and sometimes I cry thinking about doing it without my mom with me. But I know that my mother would not want to be the source of sadness. I know that. Mike and I were planning to get engaged when my mom got sick, then I put it off indefinitely. I’m glad he didn’t wait for me to say I was okay and ready again, because he would have been waiting a long time. He did what he thought was best for me and for us, and he was right. This is exactly what I need right now.

So I am trying to plan a joyous celebration. Because I am still a very, very lucky girl. I have an amazing person in my life who loves me, whom I love too, who wants to spend the rest of his life with me. Michael is the reason I got through this year. He was incredible; I cannot praise him enough. I don’t know what I would’ve done without him. I really, really don’t.

Sometimes I freak out about the budget and the cost of everything. Sometimes I think having a wedding at all is silly, or disrespectful, and I was self conscious about coming across as yet another obsessed bride blathering on about her wedding on this blog. In the past I’ve fretted over finding a balance between what was ‘typical’ and what was original and unique to us. I’ve been afraid that people will see my wedding as too stereotypical, or not traditional enough, or both. But I’m freeing myself of both of those expectations- the Big Jersey Wedding and the Super Offbeat Wedding. I’m just going to put together something that Michael and I like, that people can have fun at. Basically, I’m giving myself the freedom to make it what I want, the indulgence of planning, and permission to get excited about it on this blog. I’m giving to myself the gift of my wedding.

Thanks to the saturation of weddings in entertainment and media, I can easily lose myself for hours in blogs, magazines, venue websites and TV shows. It’s a welcome distraction and focus for my scattered mind. Finally, something positive to obsess over! The thing is, a wedding is a momentous occasion, but I now have a perspective on life that can only be learned by experience. I know that ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that Michael and I love each other. And I am really happy to be marrying him. It’s nice to be happy about something.

Also, I’m glad my family and friends will be getting together soon to celebrate something happy. I almost feel guilty for feeling bad, because my mom wouldn’t want me to be sad. Which is why I’m letting my wedding help me heal.

If I could tell my mom anything one more time I’d tell her I love her. If I could tell her one thing reassuring, I’d tell her that I’m going to be okay. And I’m going to try to make sure my younger sister is okay too. Towards the end, hospice advised us to tell her we would be alright. I told my mom that I would take care of my sister. And I told her not to worry, because Michael will take care of me. I think she knew it was true.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bouquet Alternatives

I’m pretty sure I’m going to have a bouquet of fresh cut flowers. I already have a couple different ideas that I’ll be mulling over for the next year. However, I’ve been checking out some flower alternatives and there are so many creative ideas out there! (Warning- this is a very picture heavy post!)
Now this is original!

A lot of girls are choosing silk or fabric flowers as a fresh cut alternative, for a variety of reasons- environmental, sentimental or budgetary. Some find fresh flowers to be wasteful, or just too expensive, while others like the idea of creating a bouquet they can keep forever. There are some really pretty and crafty ways to make silk, fabric, felt, paper and even leather flowers. It’s the even more non-traditional bouquets that are blowing me away, though.
I'm lucky to be a part of the Offbeat Bride Tribe, so I have access to all their unique ideas, and get to share my own with them. Some of these pics are from the Offbeat Bride site as well as Etsy, Google Images, etc. I didn;t get hoto credits for them but I hope they don't mind my sharing them with you all! This blog is basically my online inspiration board.

A very popular theme I’m seeing is button bouquets. They look so fun! You can buy them on Etsy but a lot of girls are creating the bouquets themselves.
Buttons and felt by the OBB infamous Princess Lasertron

Here’s an idea I love- book pages and maps! I have maps all over my apartment, and I have been a huge book nerd since I was little.

I think this is a sweet idea. I would definitely consider it for a beach wedding. Plus my mom has vases of shells I might be able to use to make it even more personalized and special, so that’s something to consider.

Speaking of sweet ideas: 

For Christmas time or otherwise- ornaments! 

(Isn't she adorable? I first got this image off Google Images but more info on her wedding is at OBB.)

These are gorgeous- they’re made of brooches that girls either already owned or borrowed, or sourced at flea markets and costume jewelry stores.

 And here’s a bunch of cool, creative ideas:




Coffee Filters!!

Duct Tape!!!

Also, flowers made of :      



I see a lot of girls also carrying fans, parasols, crocheted flowers, crocheted purses, origami, feathers, stuffed animals, lanterns, books- so many awesome ideas.


Muffs (winter adorable and joke ready)

Whatever this is

Some bouquets even light up! Again, I already have two solid ideas for fresh cut flowers I’d like to carry- I have always loved flowers, and so did my mom. And I’m looking into non-floral centerpieces, which should bring down costs, so I’m happy to spend a little on my bouquet (and the flowers for the bridesmaids and moms/grandmas). I can save the ribbons and a special charm I'm planning to make. Still… it’s pretty fun to look!