Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We have entered the "All Wedding Prep, All The Time" era of this blogging experience

Because, yes, that is ALL I EVER DO anymore. More or less. In a good way!

I'm the kind of person who likes to be over-prepared for things. I have a tendency to work myself up and worry (especially when BIG THINGS are concerned), but I find if I'm OVERLY prepared (like, STUPIDLY prepared) then there's less to worry about and I can enjoy the build up to a big event more. As such, I've already drafted a color-coded Excel spreadsheet of everything I'm packing to take to Wales with me. Please don't look at me like that.

The spreadsheet has made me calmer. For example, when Boy and I discussed going to The Witchery in Edinburgh this morning, I didn't have to stress out over what I would pack to wear because I ALREADY KNOW (with my brass octopus necklace, black belt, black cashmere cardigan, tights and Dolce Vita pumps). And yes, now that you ask, I suppose the spreadsheet IS quite detailed.

Lest you think I've merely been pandering to my psychosis these last few days, I assure you I have accomplished a few REAL objectives as well. Boy and I are well into preparing our ceremony . . . dare I say we're almost DONE! We have a wonderful officiant who we've been corresponding with via email and I think we've collectively managed to come up with something that really suits us. It is personal, and incorporates aspects of things that are important to us. It is not mushy or over the top. It is honest and loving. It will likely make one or all of our parents cry, but thats to be expected, really.

My final dress fitting is on Saturday, as is Boy's first suit tailoring appointment. I believe I've settled on my hair and makeup, although that is subject to change at any moment (see above re: my insanity). I've reserved a few tables for our pre-wedding pub party at The Albion in East Molesey.

I have a few items left on my list . . . I need to book a tour of Conwy Castle for our families the morning of the wedding, although I do have the phone number of a guide. I need to check back in with our photographer and the castle custodian a few weeks before we depart. I need to ponder whether I'll actually need a fresh manicure the day of the wedding or whether I think I'll be able to salvage whats left of my Thursday manicure on Tuesday. I need to figure out how Boy and I should get our rings to Wales. Certainly not CHECK them, but wear them on the plane? Wear them on a chain? The idea of hundreds of dollars worth of platinum in an overhead luggage bin for 10 hours freaks me out.

As I've been planning these last few weeks, I've had many moments to remind myself that I'm SO HAPPY we opted against having a big wedding. Paul and I are making a huge step, and we want our immediate families to be there to witness it. I think, if we were to have 150 guests to worry about, the point of the occasion might get lost among a myriad of details . . . the flowers, the bridesmaids, the invites, the food. Having our ceremony with just parents and siblings looking on, in a quiet, special place, and without most of the trappings just feels right to us.

And, lets be real for a second, our pictures are going to kick ass.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What to bring

I've been coveting silver hard sided luggage for most of my life now and last weekend, boy and I finally bought me a set to use for our upcoming wedding trip and honeymoon. Even though I bought it at what professed to be a heavy discount at Marshalls, I thought at the time $100 was pretty steep for one suitcase. Not to mention that my carryon size case (for my WEDDING DRESS!) was $80. I'm looking around online now though and thinking I actually got a pretty good deal.

Also, in the DEALS! department: I'm trying to get my trip wardrobe squared away, and while I've taken the whole England/Scotland/Wales trip SEVERAL times, I've never actually had to pack a dress. Jeans usually suffice for stomping through medieval ruins. However, when a WEDDING is concerned, let alone MY wedding, I think a dress or two are probably in order. Any dress making into my suitcase for this trip had to look good with a) tights, b) boots, c) a coat or d) any combination of the above. I have one that fits the bill, which I wore to my office holiday party with a red cardigan and a wide belt (both of which would be great items to pack and wear with other outfits).

I went shopping yesterday with the intention of finding one more dress to bring and man, did I SCORE! I found the dress pictured at Banana Republic. It was originally $150, but marked down to $28.99. It was missing the belt (but whatevs, I'm bringing a nicer belt anyways, right?) and one belt loop was detached (again, no biggie, I'm going to remove them regardless, so one less thread to snip) and so, for the damage, the store gave me FORTY PERCENT OFF! So, let's review: that's a perfect silk dress that I'm going to take on my honeymoon for $17.39. I know!

I hope your weekend shopping expeditions were as fruitful :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

The $100 Invasion*

I recently went on a polenta kick. Which means I bought a box of cornmeal. Which the Nasty Ass Ralphs I bought it from sold to me pre-infested with FUCKING WEEVILS.

The fucking weevils proceeded to make themselves at home in my flour, my sugar, my SODDING COUS COUS. It was not pleasant.

Boy and I cleaned out the cupboards, washed everything down with bleach and Simple Green, because OH MY FUCKING GOD THERE WERE BUGS IN OUR FOOD. (If I seem to be dropping an unusually high number of F-bombs in this post, trust me, they are warranted.) After the panicked, icked out cleaning and subsequent tossing of pretty much every dry food item we owned, I decided IMMEDIATELY would be a good time to finally invest in some Hermetic Storage Jars from The Container Store. After the weevils, it feels damn good to say my lentils are HERMETICALLY SEALED, thankyouverymuch.

So, this is what our pantry now looks like (click the link for an annotated Flickr version of the photo). All happy and bug-free and whatnot.

I had an incredibly geeked out fun time photographing and noting the pantry. Too much fun, if you ask me. And it got me thinking that it could be REALLY FUN to see the insides of other people's pantries, fridges and kitchen cupboards. So, just to gauge interest here, would anyone join and post to a Flickr group on the subject? Or at least lurkingly stalk one?

*Because $100 is what I spent on glass jars and new peas.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Dad vs. The Flaming Oven of Death

I am absolutely capable of cooking dinner for 7 people. I have done it on NUMEROUS occasions. As such I didn't think twice about inviting a slew of family over for Sunday dinner this week to celebrate the fact that Boy and I are (sort of) married. I planned a menu of veggie meatloaf, lemon and parsley potatoes and roasted carrots. All things which, clearly, are cooked in the oven. Which should have been a no-brainer since I have TWO ovens.

My lower oven, however, decided to be not so cooperative.

I had the potatoes going in the upper oven and the lower one preheating to 350 for the carrots and meatloaf. My dad was knelt down by my fridge, across from the oven. I said "Dad, don't lean back!" (worrying that he might hit his head on the oven door, little did I know!), I opened the lower oven for the carrots . . . then WHOOOSHHHH! Blue flames shot out almost up to the ceiling.

Not. Kidding.

I managed to slam the oven shut pretty quickly and then ascertained that a) my dad still had (most) of his hair and b) I still had my eyebrows. Oh, and also, c) WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?

I think there's something sketchy going on with the oven starter, and fortunately we've got two and one is in perfect working order, but SERIOUSLY, DUDE. That was a NOT FUN way to find out we had oven troubles. Not to mention the whole "new wife almost sets fire to home whilst cooking dinner, hardy-har" thing which is pretty damn near infuriating to me since I CAN COOK A SODDING DINNER, okay?!

Right. Moving on.

Boy and I worked our respective arses off AGAIN this weekend, getting lots of condo and pre wedding things done. We wrote most of our ceremony! We bought luggage! I finally found a bra that I think will fit under my wedding dress! We ripped out the second to last set of (GAH! AWFUL!) blinds in our condo and I sewed up new black linen curtains to take their place! Much was accomplished! And, you know, nothing burnt down. So, hooray for that.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Vegas Rules

I've been getting a lot of "I've never been to Vegas!" and "I'm not sure I'd like Vegas!" over the last 24 hours and allow me to confess, I TOTALLY AGREE. However, having gone together a grand total of three times, Boy and I have compiled a list of helpful tips and hints to ensure that we have fun, whilst avoiding arrest, vomiting in public, financial ruin, etc.

1) NEVER stay at the cheapest hotel you can find. Because it probably smells really funky.

2) Likewise, NEVER buy the cheapest meal you can find. This one should be painfully obvious, but in Vegas I think it bears repeating: nothing you can buy for 99 cents is a good thing for you to eat. Especially if it is shrimp cocktail.

3) NEVER, and I mean N.E.V.E.R. drink anything that is served in a yard long container. Or from a slurpee machine.

4) Stay no longer than 2-3 days. You will be over it by then, I promise.

5) Play the penny slots. They're just as fun as the quarter ones and you're not likely to bankrupt yourself. Unless your self only has, like, $20 in the bank. In which case you probably shouldn't be taking a vacation.

6) Go on a weekday, if you can get away for one. Your hotel room will be 1/2 the price. Honestly.

7) Use the Monorail! It is wonderful and cheap and air conditioned.

8) Drink a TOONNNN of water and slather yourself with body lotion at least twice a day. No matter the season, Vegas is ARID. No moisture + bad food + lots of drinking is a recipe for disaster. So do some damage control, even if its only on the water drinking front.

Just for kicks . . . here's a photo of another wedding that happened in Vegas, 34 years ago: Behold, my 22 year old parents :). And YES, they're still married.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Only if you ask "The Man"

Boy and I are now legally husband and wife! We had a fantastic trip. Our room was in the MGM Grand's West Wing, which I cannot recommend enough. The room was gorgeous; very modern and clean. The closet might have been my favorite part: A mirrored panel in the wall hiding a HUGE space, big enough for both of our suitcases. A hotel room feels much more like home to me when I don't have piles of luggage lying around. All of the lights were on dimmers, there was a flat screen TV embedded in the bathroom mirror, and the bed, SO COMFORTABLE! We actually considered stealing the pillows. Maybe best of all, the West Wing is tucked away in a quiet corner of the hotel and can be accessed via a hidden little lounge. Quiet! In Vegas! How novel and wonderful!

We gambled a little and shopped a bit more. On our first night we had dinner at Trevi in Caesar's Palace, one of our Vegas favorites. The following morning we got up early to catch breakfast at the Las Vegas Hilton, followed by playing of the Nerd Machines (ie: Star Trek and Star Wars). Then we took a cab downtown to the Marriage License Bureau (!). And that evening we got married at the Excalibur Wedding Chapel (!!!).

While neither of us consider this to have been our "real" wedding, it was as perfect as we could have hoped it would be. We had a chance to talk with our pastor before the ceremony, and he did a beautiful job of designing a really personal civil ceremony for us, entirely on the fly. And he neatly left out the ring exchange, which we're saving for our wedding in Wales. Boy and I, being music geeks of the highest order, had brought along several CDs of possible "down the aisle" music. The chapel, however, had a sound system with only 10 choices of built in music. So . . . we walked down the aisle (yep, together) to Rod Stewart, which was adequate, we think ;) After the ceremony, we went back to our room to enjoy the champagne and strawberries that Boy's family sent for us. Then, on to dinner! We chose Circo at The Bellagio. The food was amazing, and the setting was GORGEOUS! They reserved us a table right at the window, overlooking Bellagio's famous fountains.

And since I'm sure you're all dying to hear what I did on the perfume front, I changed my mind at the last minute (I'm sure regular readers could've predicted that one!). On Saturday afternoon Boy and I went to Sephora and found a far more "bridal" perfume for me . . . Bvlgari's Jasmine Noir. I still love the Bergamot Lemon, but its more for everyday (as in right now, since I'm wearing it :)). Jasmine Noir is headier, more formal and absolutely delicious!

As for the question I keep getting: Nope! Don't feel any different! While this ceremony is important for legal reasons, Boy and I honestly don't consider it to have been our real wedding. It was a chance for us to get away before all of the real craziness starts, and a nice little break considering all the work we've been doing on our condo. As for nerves, I had none. We were happy, a little giddy, and excited. I had worried that I might cry during the ceremony, but I was so elated that I didn't even come close. I almost giggled at one point, but I held it together pretty well . . . which was good practice for Wales, methinks!

Friday, January 9, 2009

I should know never to do anything with a gun to my head* (*the perfume, I mean)

Whilst stalking SLynnRo on Tuesday I read that she wore a special perfume for her wedding, and that now every time she wears it, it reminds her of her wedding day. I thought: "FUCKING FANTASTIC IDEA!" However SOME OF US happen to be having two weddings, one of which is in THREE DAYS. And so those particular parties amongst us had to get their respective asses moving to the perfume counter STAT in order to have the perfume to wear for both weddings.

Oh, I didn't mention the two weddings thing? Well, yeah. We're getting pre-married in three days. SURPRISE!

For various reasons relating to our nationality and atheism, our wedding in Wales isn't going to be legal. We knew this from the start and honestly, the wedding we want to have we are totally having: In Wales, at Conwy Castle with just our parents and siblings attending. It really couldn't be more perfect for us, and if it can't be legal, SO WHAT. We're going to take the opportunity to have a prior, alternate-reality wedding: in Vegas wherein which I will wear a black dress and goth eyeliner. It's win-win, really.

So, ANYWAYS. I started my perfume search at Sephora, natch, where I narrowed my selection to only perfumes that came in mini bottles, for travel. I thought Fracas would be perfect since its such a classic, but after putting on just the tiniest bit I developed the headache from HELL and was henceforth dead to all other perfumes for the rest of the day.

Which left TODAY and today alone for shopping. I started at Jo Malone and picked two fragrances which I thought might work: 154 and Amber & Lavender. I sprayed one on each arm and walked away to run another errand. Promptly thereafter I smelled fish & chips. Let me rephrase that: I smelled fish & chips, ON MY LEFT ARM. Jo Malone 154 smells LIKE FISH & CHIPS on me. Which is, you know, all sorts of wonderful.

Fortunately by this point my mom had met up with me to help in the shopping. We went back to Bloomingdales and proceeded to douse me with approximately half a zillion fragrances, all of which I hated (and one of which smelled EXACTLY like Love's Baby Soft). I had all but given up, which was sad since I REALLY love the idea of having a special perfume to wear to both weddings. But we decided to make one final stop at Fresh.

I thought I wouldn't find anything appropriate there. I like their perfumes in general, but I was looking for something woodsy or herbal or heady for the wedding and, as the name would indicate, their scents tend towards the clean and citrusy. We had the sweetest salesman though . . . he pulled out a jar of coffee beans for me to smell which REALLY cleared my head (neat trick!) and I managed to re-find a fragrance I'd tried on and liked several months ago: Citrus Bergamot. It starts of citrusy but mellows into herby bergamot with a few floral and mossy notes tossed in. Its clean, but interesting.

So, relieved to have found something, I bought the perfume and as I was signing the receipt, the salesman *clap, clap-ed and announced to the entire store "Ladies! This is Holly and she's getting maaarrrriiieeeeddddd this weekend!", which I guess in a sense I am.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Curtains I have sewn and loved . . .

As promised! One thing I love about our condo is that the windows are HUGE! We get lots of natural light. On the downside, our windows are HUGE! And any standard window treatments seriously need not apply. And since standard, off-the-rack window treatments cost like 80% less than customs, we're sort of screwed.

Boy and I spent an hour at Home Depot over the weekend mulling over our options and decided it would be worth the arm and leg they want to have interior shutters installed on one window (in the kitchen), so long as we could come up with inexpensive, DIY solutions for the remaining windows. (Incidentally, we were measured for the shutters this morning and towards the end of the appointment (which we had waited ALL WEEK for!) we realized that Home Depot butchered the whole operation and sent the MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE shutter company to our home instead of the budget company we had chosen. So, in addition to costing an obscene amount of money, this whole shutter thing is turning out to be cluster-fuckity as well. FAIL!!!)

Happily, on the non-FAIL side of things, I did manage to handle two windows on my own over the weekend. Our smaller upstairs window and our smaller living room window. The living room one came out cuter, so thats the one you'll get to see!

I bought tension rods at Home Depot (under $4 for the one I used in the living room) and found a great cross-hatch black and white linen at Joann's ($3.63 per yard, about 2 yards used in the living room). The linen is perfect for shades since it lets a lot of light through, while still cutting down on glare. At night, the color reads deep grey, which goes great with our new sofas.

I did simple, fitted shades for each window (which involved more measuring and ironing than I care to recount). Boy and I decided once they were up that the living room window could use some sort of a tieback. We searched around for options and, since the shade was fitted inside the window frame, all the tiebacks we found would've looked really bizarre when not in use. Like weird, huge alien hooks coming out of our window sills . . .EUGH!

I thought we could use some sort of ring mounted inside the window sill but all the rings I found were made for bath towels, thus were huge. FINALLY it occurred to me to use a DRAWER PULL. I went to Restoration Hardware and bought one. Before I'd even left the store, I realized it mounted from the BACK which, since we weren't planning to knock down any walls, wasn't going to work. I sulked my way back over to the counter to exchange it and I managed to find ONE! (just one!) drawer pull that had screw mounts from the front.

I was immensely proud of my little drawer pull idea (and of the fact that I hadn't actually come home with the back mounting pull), but Boy was a little wary. I managed to convince him put it up anyways though and LOOK! Even Boy admits, it worked :)

Grand project total: $21.24. Take THAT, Home Depot, and your $800 shutters. PFT!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Meet The Abbess

I mentioned yesterday that Boy and I spent much of the weekend working on our condo, which included putting up lots of our favorite pictures and travel artifacts. One of my most favorite pieces is The Abbess. I bought her at York Minster about 3 years ago at the chapter house shop (where, apparently, she is being sold as "The Prior" which I find outrageous because to me, she is CLEARLY a woman). In medieval cathedrals, the chapter house served as a meeting place for the clerics (the "chapter") and was off limits to local townspeople and worshipers. Thus, the masons often had a bit of fun at the townspeople's expense, carving silly, rude or even grotesque caricatures of them for use in the chapter house, where they would only be seen by the chapter.

I decided to hide The Abbess somewhere she might not be noticed at first. In general she's sort of bizarre and startling, so I wanted to give her an opportunity to take people unawares! I put her in a corner, on a little bit of wall by the window, partially shielded by a plant (which Boy keeps alive for us).

Some of my other favorite items went up over the weekend as well: such as my beloved Wanker Plate, from Trixiedelicious on Etsy:

My Knight and Monk misericords flanking a big, black framed mirror:

And, hot button topic here, my Jack the Ripper Pub Sign, which I hung over our video entry system. Boy isn't so down with the sign. He asked me last night if "we could move the rapist knifing guy somewhere OTHER than over the video monitor." because, apparently, every time the doorbell rings he thinks "Shit, it could be a rapist knifing guy." What do you guys think? Should we move it?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Among the many things Boy and I have slaved over . . .

So I've mentioned once or twice that Boy and I are in the process of outfitting our first home together. We have a GORGEOUS condo in Los Angeles, very loft like, lots of light. I really genuinely do love it, so don't get me wrong, but the condo (in a vacuum without any furniture) is way more his style than mine. And yes, "my style" would be cave like with lots of black damask wall hangings. So?

Its a bit of a challenge decorating together since I find myself so drawn to the aforesaid black damask and Boy is WAY into modern design. Its also been hard for me to relinquish any of the decorating control since, prior to Boy, I lived alone for almost the entirety of the previous 7 years. I am used to having FULL AUTHORITY on the decorating front and, frankly, I think most married girls get away with at least 99% authority as well. Boy and I were out looking at window treatments the other day and, after the 100th option he turned down, I explained to him that "Most men just let their wives pick out the draperies and DEAL WITH IT." To which he replied "Then you should've married a guy who was into football." Which is not to say anything snarky about guys who like football, but just to highlight that Boy has a subscription to Dwell magazine, not Sports Illustrated. Not only does he CARE, he's pretty committed to his modernism.

Given all that I'm shocked that we've managed to find middle ground at all . . . but somehow Boy and I figured out that while I'm adamantly NOT INTO minimalist design, I do quite fancy all this mid-century business. And then we figured out that if I like something for being "vaguely medieval looking", Boy will often like the same object for being "industrial". And somehow, seriously shocking, we've managed to collaborate in making our condo look like it belongs to US and not one or the other.

It isn't QUITE done yet . . . so I'm holding back a little on the picture front. We're still working on the window treatments and a few bits of framing. But its getting there . . . and I'm happy with how it looks. Happy enough that I'm already mentally planning dinner party menus so I can invite friends over to see it. I'm also really pleased that Boy and I have been able to incorporate objects that are meaningful to each of us. In the living room, behind the sofa, there is a painting of a biplane by Boy's uncle, placed next to a framed record by a band my dad was in.

The condo doesn't look 100% the way it would look if it were only mine, or 100% the way it would look if it were only Boy's; but we both care SO MUCH and we have such vastly different aesthetics and we've still managed to come up with something that suits both of us. Its a gorgeous, constant reminder of the fact that we really are capable of merging our lives without losing our individuality.

* Photo with me in it was for The Working Closet but, incidentally, is also the best photo I have so far of our living room. Just squint and pretend I'm not in it, k?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Oh, hey! I've got one of these BLOG thinggies!

HELLO!!! I'm back!

I've been back, in all fairness. For DAYS now. But I've been trying to avoid the internet, a/k/a "The Great Timesuck", since boy and I have been working our arses off on the wedding and our condo.

RECAPS! There will need to be lots of recaps. Lets start with a nice, low-impact one. Involving lots of photos.

Boy and I spent Christmas eve and day with my parents in LA. Of this there are no photos, just imagine lots of mashed potatoes.

Late in the evening on Christmas day we took the red-eye to New Hampshire to visit boy's mom. Boy's siblings and their girl/boyfriends were there as well, so we had quite the full house! We celebrated Christmas on the 26th then spent several days antiquing, outlet shopping, cooking and related face-stuffing, and we even managed to squeeze in a super fun (although FRIGID) daytrip to Boston.

Snow. What can I even say? This is clearly not something I'm accustomed to. New Hampshire did me the courtesy of not actually DROPPING snow until the day we left, which was nice. There was quite a lot of it on the ground though, and I learned pretty early on NOT TO STEP IN IT. The cold was abominable. One day, I wore two pairs of pants! It was an interesting change of pace though, to say the least . . . and an excellent opportunity to drag of a few of my winter coats!

Promised upcoming recaps: What I got for Christmas! Condo nesting fun! Curtains I have sewn and loved!