Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving weekend knocked me flat. I'm still recovering.

The actual day? That was wonderful. I did so much cooking on Wednesday that I found myself oddly at loose ends on Thursday midday. I showered, leisurely. I fiddled with the table, which we'd set the night before. It was lovely. There was the inevitable chaos when the hour to eat approached and we attempted to figure out how to keep ten different things hot when our oven will only hold two things at once. The answer? Have another glass of champagne and accept the reality of lukewarm side dishes.

the table, set
{the table, set}

rolls rising
{rolls rising}

sage
{sage}

setting up
{setting up}

waiting
{waiting}

the meal
{the meal}

We had a cobbled together table to seat twelve, family, good food and lots of chatter. The heirloom lace tablecloth was spotted with cranberry sauce and candle wax. I like to think that the ancestor who painstakingly crocheted it would appreciate that. The use it gets, the love it sees. Things are for using. Period. (And for carefully laundering and mending post use, of course - boiling water takes cranberry stains right out. A quick freeze lets you pop the wax off easily).

the aftermath, dining room
{the aftermath, dining room}

the next morning
{the next morning}

the aftermath, kitchen
{the aftermath, kitchen}

Post-Thanksgiving, when I prefer to be napping and eating leftover turkey sandwiches, simply refused to cooperate. Unexpected, urgent chores popped up. We were in bed late and up early every day. Our car suddenly developed an unnerving tendency to stall for no apparent reason, and the actual reason ended up being two unrelated problems, one of which was the alternator (ouch), so we were at the shop twice over the course of one day. I've never been so grateful that I've been going to the same mechanic since I learned to drive. Even if he does make me watch a slideshow of process photos after every service visit.

Even in the chaos there are so many things to be grateful for - a family (and a mechanic) who loves you, a bounty of leftover cheese and crackers, a husband (!) who will push a stalled car through a left turn at an intersection with you, a wiry fox terrier who trustingly allows you to groom her unruly fur and doesn't even try to bite you once. I don't have photos of those things, but they exist.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Preparing

planning
{lists}

Thanksgiving is mostly about prep, I think. Okay, it's mostly about family. But it benefits from some serious planning.

Honestly, at this point I can pull together a passable Thanksgiving with a decent grocery list and 5 hours in the kitchen. But I like to enjoy the process. So I pull out my magazines and my notes and start making lists. I make a schedule, for the week long lead up and for the day of. It's more critical this year, because my kitchen has only one, normal sized oven. I know. First world problems.

Currently, I've completed 3 out of 4 of my grocery store trips. I laid in a supply of cheese last week (and notified D that we need to keep each other accountable and not eat the Thanksgiving cheese no matter how good it sounds after a 10 hour work day) and located the elusive Pippin apple, which we require for pie.

And since we're hosting, I'm washing linens and D is building a bench and a table extension (seating solutions for under $20!). It's good. I like the holiday scheming and planning and dreaming.

Monday, November 21, 2011

And a little follow up ...

Okay, so you should send thank you notes.

But what do you do if you can't figure out who to send them to? I'm giving my advice on the anonymous wedding gift dilemma over at esb's place this morning. Naturally, I couldn't match her clever brevity so I didn't even try.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Wedding, thankful

I send thank you notes for lots of things, because they are pretty and it was drilled into my head at a young age, but even if you don't normally, you MUST for your wedding. For weddings, you are almost never opening the gifts in front of the giver. That means the giver who doesn't receive a timely thank you note has to sit around wondering if their gift arrived. Then they worry that maybe it didn't arrive and you are thinking they (the givers) are jerks for not sending a gift. Then they think they should call and check but if you did receive it and just haven't sent a thank you note then everything is awkward. It's a bad place.

thank yous
{thank yous}

You should really have a thank you note system in place as early on as possible. We combined it with our guest list, making a spreadsheet that had everyone's names, addresses and response along with columns for "gift" and "TY sent". D and I have it as a shared Google document, so either of us can access it from anywhere. We made our thank you notes as soon as we set up our registries (D printed them on the gocco and I love them).

As gifts came in, we never separated a gift from the gift card/invoice until the thank you note was written. The pile of boxes cluttering up our apartment really provided an extra push.

As we opened gifts, we noted them in the gift column and then checked off the TY column only after the note was written, addressed and stamped. I also stapled the gift note to the invoice and then noted the date the thank you was sent in the upper right hand corner. Then I filed all the invoices together.

It was a little obsessive, but I feel fairly confident that we didn't miss any thank you notes. Except for one be-ribboned bundle of spatulas that must have gotten separated from its card at the wedding. That still haunts me.

If you need a little tutorial on writing your notes, Mouse has a great one. I do differ a little in that I don't mind saying "thank you" directly but I whole-heartedly agree about referencing the gift in a personal way and she provides some excellent templates.

I love that the timing worked out so that this post will take us on into Thanksgiving week. It's my favorite holiday, we announced our engagement over the meal last year, and this year we're hosting for the first time. I'll probably be posting about prep next week. I take it seriously.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wedding, the dessert buffet!

On to happier food topics!

We decided on our cakes months before the wedding. Vanilla Bake Shop is our favorite LA bakery (I'm sure I just managed to offend 90% of my LA readers - bakeries are a divisive topic) and their custom wedding cakes are gorgeous, but way out of our price range ($800 minimum!). Their standard cakes are amazing and we figured out that 6 cakes (two 12" wide and four 9" wide) would easily serve our 140ish guests. They did.

We settled on flavors, I measured all my cake stands (this forced me to take inventory and it was embarrassing - let's just say what you see here is less than half of what I own) and picked out 6 that would work well together and then we did nothing until the week before the wedding, when we ordered the cakes. It came out to $420 total.

To fill it out (and because D is very much a cookie person rather than a cake person) I made 4 batches each of 4 different types of cookies, plus brownies, and spent about $80 on ingredients. I knocked out the dough in a few hours (I have a KitchenAid and an affinity for speedy assembly line baking). Baking the actual cookies sucked a bit, because it was so dang hot the week before the wedding. In light of our food disaster, I was so, so grateful that I didn't blow off the cookies, as tempting as it was at the time.

I knew that I could trust our wedding planners to set up our dessert buffet, but I was secretly hoping I'd find time to do it myself. You guys know how I feel about cake stands. While our friends hung our streamers on Saturday morning, I arranged the table, leaving notes so that it would be clear which cakes and cookies were going where. It was totally OCD. I loved it.

And of course, Michelle and Anna executed it perfectly. Michelle picked up the cakes for me (which eliminated a big logistical hurdle!) and drove them to the venue and then put everything out. I slipped out to see the final product just as guests were starting to arrive and nearly cried. I mean, the cookies were arranged in swirls. It was a work of art.

dessert buffet
{dessert buffet - photos by melissa of fresh in love}

It didn't last for very long, of course. In lieu of appetizers, lots of guests decided to start on cookies prior to dinner, and I could only applaud their wise decision. I would have joined in, eagerly, had I not been sequestered in the bridal suite.

We bought bakery boxes so that people could take home leftovers and it was a great move. There is always cake left at weddings and it kills me to see it get thrown away. We offered up the boxes at the end of the night and there was barely a scrap leftover. We smuggled out a couple bags of cookies and a piece of cake for our honeymoon.

For desserts, we spent $420 on cake + $80 on cookie ingredients + $30 on bakery boxes (I bought 80 boxes and we could have gone with 40 and it would have been fine - it seemed to be about one box per family and not everyone took anything home) + $40 on vintage cake servers + $15 on industrial cake knives. That was calculated to feed 150 people and it was more than enough.

It got a little chaotic after we cut the cake. Having six different cakes is a little tricky. In retrospect, I should have picked out one person to cut and serve each cake and then had an empty table nearby for the cut slices to go on. This would have made it much smoother. Heads up to anyone planning a dessert buffet sans caterer. I finally get the cupcakes at weddings craze.

And I know it is so cliche, but the only taste of cake I got that night was the ceremonial photo op bite. Sad.

cake cutting
{cake cutting - photo by melissa of fresh in love}

Right after I typed that I realized that it isn't true. I did get to eat some of the leftovers back in our hotel room at 3 am with my bare hands, and was joined enthusiastically by several of our friends. So that works too. Just make sure you get someone to package something for you. And maybe remember to include forks.

And because I'm still obsessed with our cake topper ...

cake topper
{by day - photo by melissa of fresh in love}

cake topper at night
{by night - photo by melissa of fresh in love}

It lives on our bookshelf currently, and I think it's probably the one piece of the wedding decor that we'll keep forever.

Just because it fits in here ...

I was digging through my archives for something else, and stumbled on this post from last year. It's relevant to wedding stuff, and since I've ended up making this a wedding week, I'll add it in here.

If you'd like a (mostly) unedited rant about the insanity that can occur leading up to a DIY wedding, it's here.

Wedding, the food

So, this is the part I've sort of been dreading telling you about.

We looked at so many catering options. The food was very important to us. We had hoped that a restaurant wedding might be cheaper, but our group size was awkward – too big for any of the regular group rooms and not quite big enough to justify the cost of a Saturday night buy out. It came down to a close race between my favorite local barbecue place and our beloved Border Grill in truck form. We did a tasting at the truck and it was amazing. They are so responsive and pleasant to work with and we made the call easily. Throughout all the sucky parts of wedding planning, we kept reminding ourselves of how excited we were about the food choice. It felt like it was us, something from our lives in LA that we would be able to share with our families and friends. And it was affordable!

BG truck
{BG truck - photo by melissa of fresh in love}

And this is the sad part, the part of our wedding that still kills me. The BG truck didn’t come through for us. It was just a perfect storm - they had a couple of staffing issues on a single day and it ended up making them late and short staffed. As in, half the staff we were supposed to have. The food was amazing, but it was painfully slow. People were waiting for well over one hour once they decided to brave the line. My dad didn’t even eat until close to 10 pm. As we walked through the reception, greeting people and smiling and chatting, I kept seeing all those people waiting for food and it was incredibly stressful. We pushed the schedule back and then eventually ended up just doing the toasts and first dance while people were still waiting in line for food, because it became clear that it wasn’t going to get any better.

This was hard – I love the Border Grill and I’d made it clear in all our emails that my top priority was to have really great tasting food, plenty of it, and quickly. I paid for 160 people instead of the 140 + vendors that we actually expected, just to be absolutely sure that we would be fully staffed and not run out of food. We went over time estimates of how long it would take for orders to get out and D designed check off menus specifically to make the food service run more smoothly.

check off menu!
{check off menu! - photo by melissa of fresh in love}

I didn’t sleep the night of the wedding and it was mostly because of the food situation. Extreme? Maybe, but for me, food is a huge part of every gathering. As a hostess, I always worry about having enough food and usually end up with twice as much as I need. Providing an ample and timely meal is a sign of respect and appreciation for people that have traveled to be with you. I was ready for things to go wrong at the wedding and I was ready to shrug them off. But this was something I couldn’t let go of and there wasn’t any way to fix it. I’m still upset by it when I think about it, although I no longer feel like I’m going to start crying if I talk about it.

I thought for a long time about posting this, because the BG staff have always been wonderful to us and they were genuinely dismayed with the staffing situation at our wedding. I don’t want to slam them. Becca used them for her wedding and it was wonderful. I think they got hit with more staffing issues than they could handle and this wouldn’t normally happen. But I can’t do my wedding over again and I can’t apologize adequately to all the guests who had to wait in line for food instead of dancing. And this was a huge part of my wedding. So there it is. A big thing that went wrong that I probably won’t ever be over entirely.

I should note that our guests were almost universally awesome about the situation. They used the line as a social area and took early advantage of the cookie buffet and reassured me that they were fine. But I’ll just say it – I would not have been fine waiting for hours for food when I expected to have it at 7 pm. So either our guests are more patient (or less prone to low blood sugar) than I, or they are just incredibly nice. I’m going with the later.


Oh, and a side note - Our wedding had all disposable plates and glassware. Yes, this killed me a little, both aesthetically and environmentally. I probably would have been willing to suck up the cost of the rentals, but I didn't want to have to handle the logistics. When you rent plates, everything has to get rinsed off and then re-packed at the end of the night. This would have meant hiring a lot more staff, at which point it would have made sense to consider just hiring a more expensive caterer and renting plates directly from them. It ended up being a spiral of costs and decisions and we went the easy route – figuring out how many plates and cups we needed (the truck supplied the food trays for their food) and buying them (and later returning the unused ones). AND IT WAS FINE.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wedding, my favorite thing

If you are worried that the whole photobooth thing is played out, please stop yourself. Things that are genuinely awesome CANNOT be played out. And the awesomeness of the photobooth long pre-dates wedding blogs anyways. I have shoeboxes full of photo strips to prove that.

The photobooth was the best discretionary money we spent at our wedding, hands down. We considered DIYing it, to save a bit of money, but honestly? I'm so glad we didn't. We put it right by the dance floor and shelled out for an extra hour so that it would be there the entire night and it was in use nonstop.

The week before the wedding we bought a basic photo album and left it out so that people could put photos in there and leave notes. Flipping through that book the next morning (at 5 am, because I couldn't sleep) was the best.

photobooth shots

A fact: photobooths inevitably devolve over the course of the night, in the best way possible.

Photobooth - Wheeler, Korn, Ip and Us

I looked at all the local photobooth companies I could find and the rates vary a lot, as do the services. We ended up going with Red Cheese Photobooth, mostly because they were the best about responding to my emails quickly. Our total came out to $1024, which is off putting at first, but when you consider what we might have spent trying to set one up ourselves (and the inevitable trouble shooting it would have involved) we have no regrets. We knew we wanted the instant gratification of prints for our guests as well as digital copies for ourselves later and this was perfect.


* As with everything wedding-related, I didn't get any discounts related to the blog and any review I give you is only because I think it might be useful to some of you. *

Wedding, logistics + budget

I have a looong post up over on 100 Layer Cake right now, giving my take on wedding planning/budgeting. We ended up not really having a wedding budget. Yep. Hop over and check it out and feel free to ask questions in the comments. If you like, I can expand on the budget stuff over here sometime in the future. We did put a lot of thought into our non-budget, as weird as that sounds.

Watercolor paper flowers

watercolor paper flower tutorial

Finally. I did promise. I'll be honest here - these flowers are time consuming and if you want lots of them, you'll want to start several months ahead and work steadily. This is the method I used for most of our wedding flowers. (The spiral flowers were made using this tutorial that I've linked to before.) I was trying to figure out how to do the tutorial and realized that it's probably easiest just to send you straight to the photoset on Flickr. You can click through or watch as a slideshow, and I've included notes. It's easier to show than explain, with this. So click here and then you can come back if you need more notes.

You can make the flowers look vastly different, just by tweaking a little. Change from squares to rectangles to make tall narrow flowers. Change the sizes to whatever you want. Adjust how much you trim off the edge, trim in different shapes. But this should give you a nice solid foundation.

Boiled down process:

1. Purchase your paper. I used these exact pads of watercolor paper (I bought the 18x24" size) and they worked well. I spent about $85 on paper, but didn't have enough time to use all of it.

2. Paint your paper, let it dry, press it flat if necessary. I bought a bunch of watercolors, diluted them as I painted. I was originally hoping for a gradient effect, but that would have required a lot more forethought! I ended up with a nice variation in colors, though.

3. Cut your paper. I cut into 3", 2" and 1" strips, using a cutting mat and a rotary cutter. Then I continued on, cutting into squares. The 3" and 2" squares were most easily done with the rotary cutter, but I preferred free handing the 1" squares as they're a bit fiddly.

4. Working a few squares at a time, fold them in half and then trim the edges to round them.

5. When the edges are all trimmed, roll each petal between your fingers to make it into a cylinder. Set aside.

6. Start assembling. Place a dot of glue on one of the base corners of the first petal, then roll it back up and hold it to set.

7. Add a second petal by spreading it out, dotting both base corners with glue and then wrapping it around the first petal.

8. Continue to add more petals. You'll want the petals to flare out more and more as you work your way along. Eventually, you'll end up with a nice full flower.

And, creating the arrangements ...

cocktail table centerpiece, with vase
{cocktail table centerpiece, with vase}

I just laid down sheets of white cardstock, plopped a vase on them and then started gluing the paper flowers to the paper, making a carpet. There was no real rhyme or reason to this and it actually goes pretty quickly. You just want to work with a nice mix of sizes and create a full effect. When you're happy, remove the vase, trim the edges away so that you can't see them and then tuck the centerpiece in a box, ready for transport. This is actually the easiest (and most fun) part of the entire process.

P.S. - If you're looking for more wedding (or party) tutorials, the streamer backdrop and painted tablecloths and hand dyed napkin tutorials are up on 100 Layer Cake!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wedding, make up

getting ready
{getting ready - photo by melissa of fresh in love}

I did my own hair and make up for the wedding, mostly because I was too lazy to figure out any other arrangement (I don't live near my wedding venue, so I couldn't just enlist my regular hairdresser) and partially because I was too cheap to want to pay for it.

If you don't own any make up, I think it probably works out to be cheaper for you to get it done. If I had bought everything fresh it would have cost waaaaay more than paying for the service. Instead, I just used my own modest stash with some very minimal additions.

My secret weapon was samples. I went to Sephora and Nordstrom and asked for samples of primer and foundation (neither of which I normally wear, so it didn't seem to make sense to buy them). They'll give you little pots of samples that last for quite a few applications.

Moisturizer - Neutrogena Healthy Defense (my usual)
Foundation primer - Hourglass Veil mineral primer (sample)
Foundation - Chanel Vitalumiere (sample, but it was so good I ended up buying some later)
Concealer - Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage (my usual)
Setting powder - Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder (my usual)
Highlighter powder - Make Up Forever Star Powder in pale peach (sample)
Cheeks + lips - Benetint (my usual)
Fake lashes - $10 kit from the drugstore with lots of individual lashes + glue
Eyeshadow + smudgy liner - kit from Smashbox (my usual, kind of like this one)
Mascara - L'Oreal Voluminous (my current usual - I switch whenever I run out)

So I basically spent $10 on my make up. I did re-up my Benetint at Sephora, because I was almost out and I felt bad about making the salesgirl give me all those samples. But I would have done that without the wedding, so I'm not counting it.

Using your own products has a triple advantage - it's cheap, it's easy (other than the false lashes, which had me a little stressed - I would recommend practicing in advance or putting them on way early in the morning before crunch time) and you know you'll look like yourself.

hair + makeup
{hair + makeup - photo by melissa of fresh in love}

I don't think my hair was quite as successful. I dithered between down and up and finally decided on a low side ponytail. I had my hair blown out on Friday morning ($35 + $10 tip at Dry Bar) so I wouldn't have to deal with it on Saturday. But I'm not great at doing hair. I wanted it a little looser and with more volume but I couldn't make that happen and I ran out of time to keep fussing with it. It was perfectly fine, just not magical. I still don't know that I would have paid to have it done, because that always seems like a crapshoot as well, if you don't have your usual stylist. At least I didn't look like I was going to prom.

I had planned on having a full two hours to get ready, which is an insane amount of time, for me. But it was lucky because we ended up behind schedule so we actually had less than an hour. I had a few of my close girl friends with me and we drank mimosas and made ourselves up, and everyone helped each other out as needed. It made me wish we'd had more time to luxuriate in it all. That's really what you need for a wedding - a 40 hour day so that you can do everything you want to do, slooooowly. Someone get on that.


The wedding, morning

The night before the wedding we'd stayed up late with our officiant and witness, rehearsing the ceremony and laughing while I obsessively ironed tablecloths.

The wedding morning dawned and we immediately decided to order room service. I adore room service. It was heavenly. We lay around and talked and then ate and then finally decided to get moving. I got up to finish the tablecloths, D ran out to pick up coffee and creamer for the reception.

Around 10 am D called me to tell me that it was raining. Being So Cal natives, we're used to early morning gloom that clears up, but this was real rain, pouring. And then I talked to my family and found out it was hailing. Sweeeet.

Our rental company told us that yes, they could tent the space but it would mean squashing things together and it would cost an extra $1000 and we'd have to let them know in the next 45 minutes, please.

We spent 45 minutes panicking a bit and checking the hourly forecast and soliciting reluctant opinions and we finally decided to cross our fingers and wait. It was still raining. We were supposed to arrive at the venue to set up our streamers at 11 am, which would have left us an hour to work before heading back for a leisurely getting ready time. I actually had "12 - 1 pm - RGS takes a bath" as a line item on our schedule. Ha.

Eventually the rain cleared, although the skies didn't, and we headed over to the venue to set up a bit. Just an hour and a half behind schedule. Luckily our schedule was fairly well padded.

D and our friends hung the streamers and I fussed with the dessert table and then we all ended up hanging out there for longer than we should have. At 2 pm I realized we better make it back to the hotel because we were supposed to be ready at 3 pm. I am pretty fast at getting ready, but 45 minutes didn't quite cut it, due to those darn false eyelashes.

And that is how I ended up attending my own wedding without shaving my legs. Not exactly how I pictured it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The week before the wedding, moments

There was some family time, some alone time (and then together time!) in the kitchen, craft projects to finish, an impromptu night out with my ladies and time with our beloved out of town friends who served as our officiant and witness.

succulents, short and stout
{succulents, short and stout}

wedding cookie baking
{wedding cookie baking}

napkins packed
{napkins packed}

instrument of destruction
{instrument of destruction}

girls night
{girls night}

mandatory lunch break
{mandatory lunch break}

My goal all along was to finish everything by Monday evening. Our house guests would arrive on Wednesday, so I would have all day Tuesday to relax and regroup.

Uh, no. Life totally took over.

I realized we were a little behind on Saturday and decided to beg a friend's cleaning lady to come take care of our apartment. Best decision ever. I know that our friends wouldn't judge my unscrubbed bathtub, but it was so nice to have everything cleaned much more thoroughly than I would have done.

I made 12 batches of cookie dough on Monday afternoon and then the weather promptly heated up and I couldn't bear to turn on the oven. I was finally forced to do so (and finagle my officiant into helping me shape cookies) on Thursday when I realized that we'd already printed the dessert menus and it would be a huge pain if I just decided to forget about the cookies altogether. Yes, I realize that people would have been able to figure it out even if the menus were inaccurate, but I couldn't stand that. And it seemed sort of wasteful to just leave my fridge filled up with unused cookie dough.

We were definitely working right up until Thursday evening, although not too frantically, until I gave myself my second horrible glue gun burn of the week. It was disgusting and took a huge chunk of skin off my middle finger. I still had a massive hangover from Wednesday night which I finally realized was probably partially genuine hangover and partially a low level panic attack. At 9 pm we realized we hadn't eaten (or, more importantly, fed our guests) so we took a break and went out for sushi.

I was fairly stressed out on Friday just because there was so much stuff to remember and I was so worried I would forget something. Something clicked after the rehearsal on Friday afternoon and I let go a lot. I mean, I still obsessively decided to hand iron all our painted tablecloths on Friday night, but I at least prioritized and spent the most time on the ones I cared the most about. Progress, right?

The week before the wedding, family work day

I had high hopes for the week before the wedding, despite having been involved in several weddings and theoretically understanding that those days are almost always chaotic, despite the best laid plans. Ours would be different! I would get massages and go out to dinner with friends!

All in all, we didn't do so badly. The weekend before the wedding was crazy, but we had planned for that. We had tons of last minute errands, I had a bridal shower, we had an entire day blocked out for our families to help us with wedding tasks.

So on Sunday, we packed my mom's house full with people and set to working. We pocket folded 150 napkins. We sorted succulents gleaned from friends and family over the last few weeks. We cleaned and filled nearly 150 glass cylinders for centerpieces. All we had to do was keep it organized and shell out $70 for pizza. It was a pretty good deal.

succulent prep
{succulent prep}

succulents to be arranged
{succulents to be arranged}

succulent prep
{succulent prep}

We chose succulents specifically because we could arrange them a full week before and then keep them neatly in boxes which would transport easily. It made things sooo much easier in the days before the wedding and they held up perfectly.

Selling!

Okay, now that the wedding is up and you can see everything, we're ready to clear it out of our apartment.

I've listed a bunch of it over on the 100 Layer Cake Marketplace (such a great resource). If you're getting married soon and possibly need anything, check it out. And feel free to ask me any questions you might have. I'm basically selling everything for materials costs + a little bit of labor added in. Nothing like what these projects would cost if they were commissioned, but if you'd prefer to save money and make them yourself, stay tuned for the tutorials all week.

Streamer backdrops. These were used in the ceremony space and behind the dessert table and I think they gave us the biggest bang for our buck, impact wise.

Hand dyed napkins. 132 are left - they've all been washed well and I've weeded through them to make sure that there aren't any stains.

My beloved paper flowers. There are lots of little arrangements that we used for the dining tables, as well as a few large show stoppers and the cocktail table centerpieces. Some of these have spaces in them for the vases we used.

The painted tablecloths we made for our accent tables. We have several sizes and patterns.

The painted picture frames. We had two large ones that we used for the dessert menu and the seating chart and some smaller ones that we used for bar menus and signage. I love the large ones in particular, because we had to do some hunting to find ones that were slightly ornate and they look gorgeous painted.

Our kraft paper table numbers. We have 1 - 21, I have no idea what happened to 22.

Loads of glass cylinders that we used all over our venue + lots of candles in straight sided glass cylinders. We were so lucky with these - we found an event planner on CL that was retiring, so we got a great deal on these vases and we're looking forward to passing that savings along. Cheaper than wholesale, guys!

A lot of these items are either heavy or bulky, so they won't necessarily ship well. I'm happy to look into shipping for you, but in several cases it would make the items prohibitively expensive. I can arrange for pick up in either LA or OC.


The wedding

entrance
{entrance - photo by melissa of fresh in love}

Our wedding is up over on 100 Layer Cake. There'll be posts up over there this week (including a few tutorials!) and I have posts lined up here, for the wordy bits that wouldn't quite fit. Feel free to settle down and hang out for a while. It's going to be a busy week.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Three years ago, yesterday

And this year I feel quiet. Not as prone to public weeping, but filled with a sort of bone deep sadness. Reflecting on the losses we've undergone and continue to live with.

Two years is the magic mark in traumatic brain injury, the window of time when you can expect to see the most improvements. Three years feels a bit more resigned, a settling in, an attempt to accept, to figure out solutions, to find a way to reknit our lives, to come to terms with the person Dave is now while still loving and mourning the person we lost. Dave still needs full time care, will always need it, and the burden falls almost entirely on my mom, which concerns me more than I know how to say. This is the year we need to regroup and make plans for the present and the future.

The part I don't like to admit, even to myself, is that it's easy for me to resent the new Dave, to feel as if he has somehow stolen away the person I loved so dearly. I imagine that if I threw a big enough tantrum he would stop pretending to be this new person and come back to us the way he was. I revert to being a child, stamping my foot over an uncooperative parent, angry in the futile way of children.

And then I feel guilty, because we are lucky and I can see glimpses of the old Dave and sometimes he remembers to tell me he loves me, and he means it. We love each other, not because we are a family. We are a family because we love each other, because we share these years and moments and experiences.

And within it all, still, there are moments of joy, bursts of the kind of love that make you want to squeeze someone so tightly that your jaw clenches up.


dance with dave
{dancing with dave at my wedding - photo from melissa}

We are complicated beings.


I'm taking a few days away, back next week with piles of wedding stuff. It's time.


11/14 - ETA - I can't thank you guys enough for your comments and emails and general support last week. It means so much to me and my family. My heart goes out to all of you dealing with similar situations, truly.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday flowers

Orange dahlias, from the farmer's market last weekend.

orange dahlias
{orange dahlias}

I think the season is starting to wrap up, because one of these didn't even survive the trip home, but I still love them.

dahlias
{dahlias}

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reading, lately

I'm a little torn on this book. It's beautifully written, for sure. I devoured it. But there isn't really the normal build up you expect to see in a novel, especially one about a family. Instead, you get isolated moments within the family history, and you have to guess at the gaps, wondering why people's motivations and relationships have changed since you saw them last.

{the pleasure seekers}

At first this drove me a little crazy, but then I decided to look at it as a series of snapshots, and it made sense to me that way. We made peace. It probably helps that I'm a huge sucker for gorgeous writing.

I have been tearing through books lately. I need to remember to start writing down what I'm reading, because I'm losing track.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Break

We were running errands on Saturday and needed to pick up a bottle of wine, so we stopped in at the new-ish Venokado location. Their selection is nicely curated and not too overwhelming and you have at least some assurance that you won't accidentally buy something horribly embarrassing.

As she wrapped our gift, the lady behind the counter mentioned that they do wine tastings on the patio. I instinctively said no, we'd love to but we don't have the time.

I've felt so short on time lately. We've been overwhelmed and end up with very little unscheduled time. I have a hard time relaxing even when I block time out for it, because I'm thinking of people and tasks that are going neglected.

But the day was so unexpectedly gorgeous that I decided it was a sign. A sign that we should sit down outside and taste a flight and eat some cheese and spend an hour talking about nothing important.

tasting - venokado
{tasting - venokado}

And so we did. Because those unimportant things are sometimes the most important.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The weekend, briefly

bacon sandwhich
{bacon sandwich}

palms
{palms}

afternoon break
{afternoon break}

afternoon light
{afternoon light}

farmers market haul
{farmers market haul}

beet greens, swishing
{beet greens, swishing}

apple + peanut butter
{apple + peanut butter}

Not pictured - back to back Halloween parties on Friday and Saturday nights, an under the wire trip to finally see the Tim Burton exhibit at LACMA, tons of cleaning.