Tuesday, May 31

Venue Twins

My new hobby as I count RSVPs and contemplate seating charts and rental items: stalking my venue's Facebook photo albums. Here are some photos from receptions at my venue.  Some of them have been sources of inspiration have made me even more confused.

1.  White tablecloths or colored tablecloths?

There's also the option of a white tablecloth with a colored overlay...

Or pintuck linens...

2.  Chair covers or no chair covers?  In other words, which is uglier, the venue's chairs, or the venues chairs covered with what is basically a big pillowcase?

If I won the lottery right now, I'd rent Chiavari chairs for the wedding.  Look at these photos.  The fancy chairs do make a difference.  I'd also rent a man in a chef's hat.

3.  Where to locate the buffet, cake table, etc.

I like this setup, with the cake being spotlighted against the green wall (we'll be projecting a monogram, too) and the food on a serpentine table (which is really just two curved tables).

Another option for food setup... obviously (unfortunately?) there will be no palm trees at my wedding.

Monday, May 30

Honeymoon Plans?

Our honeymoon is very much dictated by our budget.  Our criteria for the honeymoon location were that it should have a beach and be somewhere we'd never traveled.

States I've visited are highlighted in green.  That's a lot of America left to discover.  I've also been to the airport in Puerto Rico :)

In college, I did a January Term course in Ireland.  We spent one week in Galway and one in Dublin.  I'd love to go back there someday, but international travel would be WAY over budget for us right now.

Mr. Spin and I traveled to St. Lucia last year for a friend's destination wedding at the Sandals Regency La Toc, which is in Castries.  It was an amazing trip, but since we've done the all-inclusive-tropical-resort thing (which I recommend 100%) we wanted to do something completely different!

So where are we going on our honeymoon? 

Memorial Day - Red, White and Blue Cookout-Inspired picks

Striped bunting from Etsy seller Betty and Barclay

Geranium boutonniere from Once Wed

Strawberry-trimmed buttercream cake from the Knot

Red wagon geranium arrangement from Real Simple

Peanut butter cup s'mores from Delia Creates

I hope that all of you have a relaxing Memorial Day, whether you're spending time with family, or, like me and many other teachers, doing all of the grading you put off until today :)

Friday, May 27

Signature Cocktails?

We haven't decided yet whether to have an open bar or signature cocktails, wine and beer.  Or perhaps signature cocktails for the cocktail hour and open bar for the reception?  We'll be crunching our budget numbers once we order our cake and find a videographer.  If we do a signature cocktail, here are two ideas I think would suit us perfectly.

Mixed Berry Mojito (from My Life as a Mrs.):

Mixed Berry Puree
1 cup blueberries, whole, 1 cup strawberries, caps removed and rough chopped

Mixed Berry Mojito
4 oz club soda, 2 ½ oz light rum, 1 ½ fresh lime juice, 1 oz simple syrup, 2 TBS mixed berry puree, 6-8 mint leaves, ½ strawberry, cap removed and sliced thin for garnish (optional), 5-6 blueberries, whole for garnish (optional), 1 small mint sprig, for garnish (optional)

Mixed Berry Puree
1.  Combine berries and blend until smooth (food processor, blender, hand blender, etc.; really what ever is easiest to clean)
2.  Pour puree into a fine strainer over a container and press puree through the strainer with a spatula to remove seeds and skins from puree. Store puree in the refrigerator.

Mixed Berry Mojito
1.  In a tall glass, combine mint leaves, lime juice and simple syrup and gently muddle together (only bruise the leaves, not shred).
2.  Add ice (about 1 cup) and pour in rum and club soda.
3.  Spoon berry puree into drink and stir to incorporate all ingredients and lift mint leaves up from the bottom of the glass.
4.  Top with sliced strawberries, blueberries and mint sprig.

Here's a link to a similar recipe for a blue cocktail, and a link to a "Wild Berry Mojito" that includes blackberries and raspberries.

Spiked Arnold Palmer (from The Bridal Bar):

Ingredients (Serves 8):
1 cup packed mint leaves, chopped, 2/3-cup sugar, 1 cup fresh lemon juice, 1 cup freshly brewed tea, chilled, 1 1/2 cups vodka, Crushed ice for serving, Fresh mint springs, optional for garnish

1.  Combine chopped mint and sugar in a large bowl or pitcher.
2.  Stir in lemon juice, iced tea, and vodka.
3.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
4.  Fill six 6-8 ounce glasses with crushed ice. Pour mixture over.
5.  Garnish with mint and lemon springs.

Here's another spiked Arnold Palmer recipe that uses Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka.

Wednesday, May 18

Surprise work shower!

This Monday, one of my co-workers informed me that we were having an English department meeting after school.  My reaction was something like "Ugggghhhh."  It's a stressful time of year.  When I got to the classroom where our meetings are always held, I was one of the first ones to arrive.  Our department chair asked me and the 3 other teachers who'd apparently arrived early to "help her carry some boxes."  The boxes were, apparently, in the Family and Consumer Sciences (back in the day, we called it Home Ec) room.

Here's what was actually in the home ec room:

That's right, it was a surprise bridal shower!  There are FOUR English teachers with upcoming weddings, so our faculty threw us a combined party.  Look at all of this yummy food:

There were ham biscuits, Mexican dip, chips, cheese and crackers, nuts, and of course party mints.


Sunday, May 8

mother's day and a little family history

One of the unique (although not that unique) things about our wedding is that my mom will be escorting me down the aisle.  In this post, I'm going to share some family history that explains why there is no better choice than my mom for an aisle escort and how I realized Mr. Spin was "the one," as well as some of my favorite images of brides being escorted by their mothers.

I am the only child of older parents who had already lived a very full life when I came along.  My parents were married for twenty years before they had me, and for twenty-one years afterward. They were high school sweethearts before marriage, lived in Europe together as newlyweds when my dad was in the Army Corps of Engineers during the Vietnam War, raised my older cousin after her parents' tough divorce, and survived life's ups and downs together.  When I was in kindergarten, my dad became a long distance truck driver.  During the week, he drove to California and back, and my mom was basically a single mom until Saturday, making sure that I was fed and did my homework and got to dance class, and caring for her own mom who was often ill.

My dad had type B diabetes since we was a young man, and being a truck driver was not really a compatible career with that illness because often his only food choices were really unhealthy.  During my third year of college, he "retired" from his job.  He was old enough to retire, so I didn't think much of it, but the reality was that his kidneys were failing and he had to begin regular dialysis treatments.  Dialysis was a truly horrifying thing to me when I saw it for the first time- my father's blood being pumped out of his body through tubes that wound through a loud machine, clarified, and pumped back into his body.  It made him tired and weak.

I became very depressed because I knew kidney failure was a serious thing and I couldn't deal with the idea of losing my dad.  I wanted to drop out of college to move back home and spend time with him, but I was also very angry at him for having had a job that took him away from us for so many years, and for mistreating his body.  I started to worry that something was wrong with me, because I was having mood swings (I was worried I might have bipolar disorder, which runs in my family) and couldn't shake the feelings of anger and sadness.  I had trouble getting out of bed and sometimes didn't see the point of doing so, and missed over a month of a course that was required for my English degree.  Eventually a girl in my Bible study convinced me to seek counseling - it was the fact that she herself was being treated for depression at our college's student health center that gave me the courage to get over the stigma of mental illness and seek help.  She offered to go with me, but I went alone.  Under "reason for visit" on the form I filled out, I said for the first time, in writing: "my father is terminally ill."

The psychologist I worked with at student health was helpful, and our meetings evolved from her listening to me complain and cry for thirty minutes to her helping me learn to deal with my depression and still live my life.  I wasn't bipolar, but I was depressed, and had a reason to be.  She also recommended that I meet with a psychiatrist, and he prescribed an antidepressant and a sleeping medicine to help me get back into a normal lifestyle.

When I met Mr. Spin, I'd been in treatment for depression for about six months.  When Mr. Spin met my father, he was already on dialysis, so Mr. Spin never really knew him healthy, but he did get to know his personality and they got along well.  Mr. Spin and I were really into each other, but I was having trouble experiencing real emotions because the medication made me feel like I was just going through the motions instead.

Immediately after my last final that fall semester (which was for the class I'd skipped for all of November), my mom called and told me a truth she and my father had been keeping from me.  My dad had a brain tumor, and he was going to begin radiation treatments.  Instead of losing him to kidney failure, we could lose him to cancer.  I needed to come home as soon as possible.  I spent a night and a morning being completely broken, with my two best friends force-feeding me and helping me pack.

My life back at home during that winter break became a routine that evolved around the hospital, and Mr. Spin was there every day.  The day I realized I loved Mr. Spin was when I arrived at the hospital one day and my father was not in his bed.  I was freaking out until I realized that the bathroom light was on.  My father came out, with Mr. Spin holding his arm and helping him walk.  I knew he was the one at that moment-- the man I would someday marry.  When a guy helps your sick dad pee, it's as simple as that- he has become part of your team for life.  My dad passed away that Christmas day, and Mr. Spin stayed by my side through the funeral, through my grief and repair stage, and even as I weaned myself off of the antidepressant and sleeping pills.  That emotional rollercoaster is one of the reasons it's taken us so long to get married- there were times that Mr. Spin could not comprehend what I was going through.  My mom always could, because she was going through it with me.  I can't even fathom how difficult the loss was for her.

I am a combination of both of my parents' personalities, but I have my dad's emotional nature, and from time to time my mom's stoicism has been a bit hard for me to handle.  She is truly the strongest woman I know, but her strength is so quiet that many people do not see it. She is hilarious at home, but quiet and reserved in public, so I know that I am lucky to see the side of her that bursts into song and watches TMZ every night.  She is my best friend, and we share everything. My depression makes it impossible for me to live alone, and I have been so blessed to live with her for the past three years while I got my career started and adjusted to post-college life.  I will be so happy to have her by my side as I walk toward Mr. Spin on our wedding day.

Sunday Simplicity #17

Monday, May 2

DIY Flower Girl Basket

My original plan for a flower girl basket was to snag a cheapo basket after Easter and call it a day.  Then, while purging my closet in my ongoing quest to throw away anything I will not need as a married woman, I stumbled across not one, but two flower girl baskets I'd carried in weddings as a little girl.  One was the perfect size and shape, but definitely stuck in 1988 with its bright white color and peach ribbon-and-rose trim.  My solution:  rip off the old trim and give the basket a makeover.

Basket Makeover Materials:
- Small basket
- Spray paint in the neutral color of your choice (I used ivory gloss)
- Glue gun (I use a mini lo temp glue gun)
- Thin ribbon in wedding colors
- Silk flowers in wedding colors

First, the basket got a coat of Krylon ivory gloss spray paint:

As you can see, I was having a spraypaint-fest (chalkboard DIY still to come!).  Next. I measured enough lavender ribbon to wrap around the handle an even number of times on each side (4, because I'm OCD like that) and glued the ribbon in place with my Mini Lo Temp Glue Gun.  Then, I put a gob of glue at each end of the ribbon wrap and stuck a bundle of silk flowers in place (I used hydrangeas and just popped the little bud ends off the stems).  Finally, I tied a nice bow around each handle and flower bundle.

Voila!  The finished product along with the other fruits of this weekend's crafty labor.