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Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye, 2007...

Here we are. It's the last day of 2007. I think I'm sort of in denial about it, actually. It doesn't quite seem real yet. It passed all too quickly.

Last week, Michael and I had dinner with a friend that lives in Washington, D.C. He was up visiting his family for the holiday, so we managed to schedule some time in to visit with him as well. During our discussions over dinner, we realized that we had not seen each other since we had been in OBX together for vacation. In JUNE. It just didn't seem possible that it had been six months since we had seen him. Or even that our Outer Banks trip had been that long ago. As we're getting older, time is really flying by and at an alarming rate.

On our vacation, Michael and I were celebrating our new engagement. Our wedding date had yet to be set; vendors yet to be booked. Now, as we bid farewell to 2007, we are less than six months away from getting hitched. And I can only assume that these next six months will pass just as quickly (if not MORE quickly) than the last six. So our wedding day? Yeah, that'll be here before we know it. And as exciting and wonderful as that is (it also means our Hawaiian honeymoon will be here, too... woohoo!), it's also quite frightening.

All in all, 2007 was a great year for us. I was baptized, confirmed, and received my first communion in the Catholic church in April. This was in preparation for our marriage, which we knew would be coming up sooner or later... and sure enough, the engagement was not far behind.

I had successful LASIK eye surgery in October. My vision is better than ever, and I've recovered almost completely. My use of eye drops is at a minimum. At a post-op appointment about six weeks after the surgery, my vision was 20/15 and my doctor told me it was the best possible case scenario--really, the best results I could hope for. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared out of my mind at the potential risks. Even after the surgery, I was super excited, but in a way, was waiting for something unexpected to happen:

My cousin gave birth in July to her first child, a girl (Mia), who the whole family absolutely adores:

And Michael's sister, Melissa, gave us our baby nephew, Brendan. It was not without scaring the shit out of all of us... that is certainly one experience I can do without repeating in my life. But with that, we also have much to be thankful for. For one, the health of everyone we love. Melissa and Brendan came out of it unscathed, and we have counted our blessings that Melissa is OK, and subsequently have completely fallen in love with little Brendan.

My granddaddy (my dad's father), whom I share a birthday with, suffered a heart attack less than a week before Christmas. At the age of 78, he underwent double bypass surgery in which they also replaced one of his heart valves. At first, it seemed as if everything went really well, but things declined day by day, and by Christmas night, I had actually almost convinced myself that we might lose him. He had a raging infection and treatment wasn't working; his kidneys had shut down and they were talking about starting dialysis. But 24 hours later, by some kind of miracle, things were looking up tremendously. And two days ago, he was moved out of ICU. So things are good. And I'm thankful.

There are so many other things I could mention... I've been more than fortunate.

So here's hoping for continued blessings in 2008... which I'm affectionately nicknaming (insert big announcer voice here) "THE YEAR OF THE WEDDING"... life is sure to get crazy in these next several months.

Next year at this time, we'll be six months into a new marriage. That'll surely be nice, won't it? And I'll be looking back on 2008 as one of the best years of our lives.

Enjoy your New Year's Eves. Eat, drink, and be merry with all the ones you love.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Door-to-door service

We woke up this late this morning (ahhh, the joy of vacation!), had some breakfast... and then I randomly asked Michael if maybe he wanted to take a ride out to look at some limousines for the wedding. I figured we might as well take the opportunity and get something else checked off of the list.

I started my research for limos a couple of months ago, and had called a number of companies. The best prices with the best product, I found, were seemingly through Excel Limousine Service. I actually know one of the drivers (Dave) that works for them, so I called him to ask what he could get us for pricing. He came back with $1,084 for an 18-passenger limo coach, with a five-hour wedding package--and that price includes the tip for the driver and any taxes.

It's expensive (I mean, really... holy shit!), but it was the best price I found from a company I felt was reputable. The only thing was that we didn't want to book it without actually looking at the limo in person. We just wanted to make sure it was as good as it looked on the website. So Michael agreed and we drove the 20-25 minutes to the place to check it out.

And it looked great. Very comfortable, roomy, and "plush" looking. Cushy leather seats, it was very clean, etc. Here are a few photos from the company's website:

Nice, huh? Looks like it'll be very easy to get into and out of, even while wearing a huge dress. I hate getting into and out of regular limos in normal clothes, I can't imagine doing it with a wedding dress.

The people at Excel were helpful and friendly. Oh, and Dave gets to be our driver.

So that was that. We signed a contract. We were required to put down a $250 deposit, which is refundable if we decide we want to cancel (as long as it is more than 60 days from our wedding date). I thought that was nice--if we run into some trouble with budgeting, we can always cut out the limo as a last resort. I don't anticipate such troubles, but it's nice to know that cushion is there since it's not with so many other vendors (understandably so).

This was a very low-priority item for us. We actually could have done without it if we needed to, but we decided it would be a nice way to have the bridal party travel to/from the church, around for photos, and to the reception. It'll keep everyone together and will give us some time to enjoy some champagne and beer with our closest friends right after the ceremony.

I'm not sure we really have too many more things to book--we're almost done. Now if I could just make some more progress on my DIY projects...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

With this ring...

We went and picked up our wedding bands today. We ordered them on December 8, so they didn't take too long to come in at all. The wedding is less than six months away, and this definitely made it that much more real!

When we got home, I took photos of the bands, and finally got a good picture of my engagement ring, too.

Here is my engagement ring by itself. It is a platinum solitaire with sidestones (three on each side). I love it! Michael did such a good job picking it out. It has six prongs, which is more secure than four prongs. If one of them bends/breaks, the diamond is usually still pretty snugly in there so it likely won't fall out. With four-prong rings, it's more of a risk. I didn't know anything about this, but Michael's mom gave him that one piece of info to take with him when he went ring shopping!

Here are both of our wedding bands. Michael got a platinum band with
a brushed finished with polished edges. I really like the look of it; I think he made a good choice. As you may have read in my previous blog entries, the band decision was a difficult one for me. I ultimately ended up going with the plain platinum comfort-fit band (3mm). It is the same width as my engagement ring band.

Here is Michael's band, on my thumb. We have to decide exactly what we want engraved on them and take them back to the store within the next month or so (so that we don't have to pay for it--we were technically supposed to have it done at the time of purchase).

Here is my band on my hand, by itself. After we purchased the rings, I realized that I had never even tried on the band by itself (yeah, I'm an idiot). I was so concerned with choosing something that looked nice with my engagement ring that I didn't even think about what it would look like alone. Thankfully, now that it's here, I like how it looks alone! Plain and simple, yes, but it's nice. And honestly, I don't plan on wearing it alone all that often anyway.

Here is the whole "set"--my engagement ring with my wedding band. I can't wait to wear them together. Now that we have the bands in the house, I keep wanting to go and "try it on" again. Hopefully I get over that... otherwise, I might have to have Michael hide it from me somewhere!

177 more days!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Both of our families really do the big celebrating on Christmas Eve. So last night, Michael went to his parents' for dinner and to hang out, while I went to my cousin Lindsay's (who is a bridesmaid) to hang out with my mom's side of the family. As usual, the children were the stars of the show. After things started to wind down with my family, I drove over to Michael's parents' to exchange gifts with his family.

A few photos from last night:

She may only be 5 months old, but she was really good at opening her own presents.

My little cousin, Kiara. She had the cutest little outfit on, and her hair was straightened (it's normally curly). She looked so grown up!

Little Mia sucking her thumb and watching the family craziness.

Jada and Kiara, so excited about their Hannah Montana dolls.

Mia had a little Santa suit. I forgot to take a picture of her earlier in the night, when she was also sporting a Santa hat!

Lindsay's husband, Jeff, dressed up as Santa Claus. We had him hidden in the garage. Lindsay sent him into the backyard just to walk around back there. I then went into the living room and told the kids, "Hey! I just saw Santa walking around in the backyard! Come see, hurry!"

The kids were all so damn cute about it. They were all looking out the windows and couldn't believe their eyes. A few minutes after Santa disappeared, little Kiara (in the red dress) turned to her grandmother and said "Mimi, did you see Santa out there?" and then she turned to her aunt and said, "That was the REAL Santa!" A magical and memorable moment for us all. :)

Me, completely stuffed (I don't think I could have eaten another single morsel), and at Michael's parents' house to open gifts.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Early Christmas

Michael's sister and her husband have to work on Christmas Eve, so in order to come up (from three hours away) and celebrate Christmas with the family, they had to come up early. They came yesterday and we had an early Christmas get-together. We also exchanged gifts with them. It was also an opportunity to see our baby nephew, Brendan, again... he's growing so fast now that we love to see him whenever possible.

A few photos from yesterday:

He's a thumb-sucker. Too cute with his Santa hat.

Sleeping Santa

Cristina (Michael's sister, bridesmaid) and me

Is he not the cutest baby ever? Toothless smile! Uncle Michael was making him laugh.

He's showing an early interest. No, no, Brendan... you still have 20.5 more years to wait for that!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ten days later: Not even half done

I posted back on December 9 that I had started making the pocketfolds for my invitations, and I was planning on doing at least 10 of them a night.

Well, as it turns out--it's 10 days later and what do I have? 41 of them done (only 30 completed in 10 days). Oops. Oh well, progress is progress... right?

At least I believe I have now figured out a solution to the adhesive problems I was having. I went back to the knottie who had recommended the Super Tape in the first place to ask her if there was something I was doing wrong. At first, she was completely baffled as to why I was having such problems. The next morning, I got another e-mail with a lovely little piece of info. She remembered. She had used the tape on BOTH SIDES of the pocket. So tape is sticking to tape in the middle, and there is not as much strain on the pocket when the inserts are inside because the extra layer of tape adds a little bit more depth to the pocket.

Needless to say, I'm ecstatic to have the problem solved. I've been making the pocketfolds and then putting them under heavy weight for at least 24 hours to help bind the adhesive and pockets together, before placing them in a box for storage.

One thing that sort of sucks about this solution--it means I needed to place another order for Super Tape. I'll need twice as much as I thought. Which equals more $$$. But if it means the pockets are going to stay together, it's worth it. I just hope that when I add up all of the costs at the end of this process, I still find that I've saved money over buying them pre-made.

I have my week+ off of work coming up for the holidays, so I'm hoping I'll be able to be really productive and get some things crossed off the "to do" list. After the pocketfolds, I'm planning to begin printing the invitation component, and then the inserts. I'm still trying to finalize the design/layout of all that, and then figure out where I'm going to take them to get them cut.

Let's see where I stand in another 10 days.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Marcy's Plans for New Year's Eve

She's getting married! And she'll be walking down the aisle on this:

The holiday season has been super busy for me. I've been trying to balance work, the activities associated with Christmas (shopping, parties, etc.), my own DIY projects for our wedding, and projects for other brides--such as aisle runners, banners, and monograms. The projects for other brides have suffered the most. With that, I just mean I have not completed many of them.

Marcy's aisle runner, however, was a huge priority because she is getting married in two weeks! So this will be shipping out to her tomorrow. A lovely little holiday gift that should be there (in Florida--I'm so jealous) within a few days. :)

For those of you still waiting on a project... have no fear! They'll get done, I promise. And for those of you thinking about placing an order... the sooner you get on my order list, the better. I've been trying to plan out how I'm going to handle the projects when my own wedding gets closer. I imagine I'm going to have to take a hiatus at some point. Hopefully I'll at least be good to complete other projects through March or early April. But stay tuned for details on that...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Flying the "friendly" skies

I've been obsessing over and stalking airfare for months waiting for a decent fare to Hawaii for our honeymoon. Yesterday, for the heck of it, I decided to log onto my favorite travel search engine, sidestep.com, and see what the latest fares were like. I always check them out of both Rochester and Buffalo.

To my surprise, there was a $600 (yes, $600--you read that right) fare out of Rochester. I was ecstatic and immediately began e-mailing a travel agent in Hawaii that I've been working with. Well, when I clicked through to actually try to purchase the $600 fare--surprise, surprise, it was no longer available. The next cheapest fare was $735. Not bad, but still not $600. Bummed, I decided to check the situation out of Buffalo.

Round-trip airfare from Buffalo to Maui--$615 each. Ummm, yeah. I wasn't about to let this one get away from us! So I e-mailed the travel agent again. She got back to me and expressed concern about the "short" layovers (for our trip out there--2 hour layover in Detroit; then 1 hour, 4 minutes in Phoenix). She told me to try to look for a flight schedule that allowed for more cushion in between. Well, I did that... and big shocker--flights like that were well over $1,000. And not only that, but the layovers weren't really that much longer.

So of course, being that I am who I am, I'm in a panicked "What do I do? What do I do?" state about whether or not we should book the flights. I had my hand ready to click "purchase" before I had that response from the travel agent. Her concern made me scared to book it. I looked into the other available flights from Detroit to Phoenix and from Phoenix to Maui to see what our options would be if we missed either of the flights--well, the outlook is truly not good. Maui is not exactly an airline hub, so daily flights there are limited. If we do miss one of the connections, chances are we'll either have to be completely re-routed in order to get to Maui, or we won't get there until the following day.

This was all happening in like the last 10 minutes at work, and I couldn't make a decision, so I shut down my computer without doing anything and headed home.

On my drive home, I started thinking about this whole layover business. I started reflecting back on my previous travel experiences. I've done a decent amount of personal traveling over the years, and with my first job, I used to travel somewhat frequently.

One of my worst traveling experiences EVER involved a flight from Rochester to Seattle for work. I was supposed to have a 2.5-hour layover in Chicago. Well, I got to the airport in the morning to find my flight from Rochester to Chicago was delayed 3+ hours. This was JUNE, and it was a beautiful summer day. Why was it delayed, you ask? Well, because they didn't have a crew. Yeah... they had the plane, they had the great weather, they just didn't have people to fly it. Gotta love the airline business. Seriously. Needless to say, this caused me to miss my connection in Chicago, so I had to be rescheduled on another flight from Chicago to Seattle.

Once I did get to Chicago, I STILL managed to have a 3-hour layover, and then we sat on the runway for an additional hour, in 90+ degree heat without air circulating through the plane. I ended up having a panic attack (not exaggerating). I was so tired, so frustrated, and so HOT... it was just too much for me to handle. Of course the panic attack occurred right as we were finally taking off. Once we were cruising at altitude and I was still breathing like I was having an asthma attack, one of my lovely row-mates ended up pressing the call button. It was shortly after that, as I remember it, when I heard "Do we have a doctor on board?" being broadcast over the intercom to the whole plane. Ummmm... yeah. I was that person.

Anyway, my whole point to this is... even when you have a long layover built in, it doesn't mean that things are going to go smoothly. So why on earth would Michael and I pay an extra $400+ per ticket for a slightly longer layover when nothing is ever guaranteed when it comes to airlines??

Michael and I discussed it, and then we called my mom to ask her opinion since she travels for business every single week. She said to book it, and then she called her work travel agent to ask his opinion. And he said to book it, too. So you know what we did?

We booked it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Psssst... (whispers)... it's here!

Chrissy O's called me on Thursday to tell me they were shipping my dress out that day. They told me it was coming via USPS, and that it shouldn't take any more than 5 days. Since Chrissy's is only in NJ, I couldn't imagine it taking a full 5 days to arrive, so I had a sneaking suspicion yesterday before I left work that it was here. I asked my boss to leave work a few minutes early. The dress can't be left on the doorstep (it requires a signature), so I knew that if it was here, I would find a note on my door from USPS saying that I needed to go pick it up at the post office. Since the post office closes at 5:00 p.m., I knew I had to get home quickly if I was going to pick up the note/form and get over to the post office in time.

I pulled up to our house and didn't bother to pull into the garage, thinking that I'd be going back out again. I walked up to our door and pulled open the storm door. To my surprise (and disappointment), there wasn't a note on the door. Booooo... I assumed my dress didn't arrive after all. I walked over to the mailbox to get our mail, and when I pulled it open, I immediately became excited again. On top of our mail was the little note/slip/form informing me that my dress was waiting for me at the post office!

I ran inside, took Tessa out to pee, gave her food, and grabbed a bunch of stuff--camera, wedding day shoes, necklace, garment bag--and headed out the door to the post office. Once there, I signed for it and they handed it over.

I had a hard time believing it fit into this box. It seemed too small and not nearly heavy enough. But anyway, I took the box, threw it into my car, and drove immediately to my mom's.

Once there, we opened up the box to find the dress, neatly folded and wrapped in plastic, as well as the Maggie Sottero certificate of authenticity. The dress itself was actually inside out.

My mom and I laid a clean sheet down on her bedroom floor, unwrapped the dress, pulled it right-side out, and managed to get it on me.

I ordered a petite length dress because the sample was so long. At the time, the saleswoman suspected that I might not have to have a hem if I got the petite length. The entire four months I was waiting for my dress, I was paranoid it was going to come in and be too short. Well, the good news is--it's definitely not too short. The bad news? It's still too long. It's soooo close to being perfect, but it is dragging, which it's not supposed to do. I'm going to give a hoop skirt or a crinoline a try and see if it picks it up a little bit. If not, oh well, I'll just have to get the hem done. At least now they'll only have to chop off an inch or less... not FOUR inches like they would have had to do had I ordered the regular length.

Other than that little hiccup... I LOVE my dress! And there it is, nestled safely for storage in my mom's closet. It's a good thing I'm not storing it at my house. I'd be way too tempted to go unzip it all of the time, just to look at it!

And that's all she wrote, folks. No other photos allowed here, because Michael reads this blog. :)

Only 6.5 months to go!

Monday, December 10, 2007

DIY Lariat Necklace

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about how I planned to take on DIY jewelry. Well, I did it. And I'm quite pleased with the results.

Here it is! I handmade each and every little chain link. It was a lot of work, but after several of them, I started to really get the hang of it. I think it probably took me a total of 5 or 6 hours (over two nights) to complete the whole thing. It's certainly not perfect, but unless you're looking for its imperfections, you can't really tell.

Here is the back. One of my teardrops (the bead on the ends) was accidentally tucked behind my tanktop for the photo. I might have to tweak the length of the chains down the back because they might be a little too long. We'll see how it works with my dress when it comes in (which could be TODAY!).

So, how do you make your own? Well, I'll provide the list of supplies I bought, and point you in the direction of the instructions I used to make the chain links. Other than that, I had a little bit of help from L&R070707 in terms of how many links should make up each strand, but I ended up having to modify it to my own style/preferences anyway.

Here is the list of supplies:

- Round nose pliers
- Chain nose/bent nose pliers
- Side cutters
- Bead board
- Sterling silver half hard round wire, 24 or 26 gauge
- Swarovski Crystal Pearls, 4mm (any color) - I bought a strand of 50
- Swarovski 4mm bicone beads (any color) - One pack of 50
- Swarovski 3mm bicone beads (any color) - Two packs of 50
- Swarovski 10.5x7mm faceted teardrop beads - One pair
- Sterling silver headpins (24 or 26 gauge) - only need two, but I bought a package
- Sterling silver oval jumprings, 4x3mm
- Sterling silver round jumprings, 3.5mm (for the clasp) - I bought these, but didn't use them. I found the oval jumprings worked better for me.

I'll share the other info Lauren (L&R070707) gave me, but like I said, I had to modify it anyway.

For the two strands down the back, Lauren used 6 pearl links and 6 crystal links for the shorter strand, and 8 links of each for the longer strand. Her main necklace strand had 21 pearl links and 20 crystal links. Her shorter necklace strand had 16 pearl links and 15 crystal links and was attached to the main strand three links before the clasp on each side (using the oval jumprings).

Here is my bead board, some of my supplies, and the main strand of my necklace (which I ultimately ended up shortening a bit). You can see my Swarovski Crystal beads in the lower left corner, my silver half hard wire in the middle, and my strand of Swarovski Crystal pearls at the upper right.

Here is a close-up of that first main strand. As you can see, I used one pearl for each of the pearl links, and one 4mm bicone crystal with two 3mm bicone crystals (one on each side) for the crystal links. I'm pretty sure that Lauren used TWO crystals on EACH SIDE of her 4mm bicone crystals for each of her crystal links. Only change there is that the crystal links will be a little bit longer.

If you look closely, you can see the little loops at the ends of each link. You have to form each and every one of those by clipping the wire to the right length, and then rounding it with the round-nose pliers. Then you gently pinch it closed (after you've hooked them together) using the bent-nose pliers.

Click here for the instructions that I found really helpful in terms of demonstrating how to make each link. The only difference between the instructions there and what Lauren and I did... those instructions use eyepins (instead of the regular wire), which already have one of the loops done for you. You simply slip your beads onto it, clip the excess wire, and then loop the clipped end. I checked into the eyepins, but they are more expensive, and probably don't really provide that much time savings, so I decided to just make each and every one from scratch with the wire, like Lauren did.

If all of this sounds a bit overwhelming to you, I suggest doing some googling for DIY jewelry instructions and examples. Or you can check with your local craft stores--many of them offer a jewelry-making class (just a one-time class where they teach you the basics). One of Lauren's suggestions for practicing your loops was to buy cheap floral wire. I ultimately did not end up doing that, and wasted very little wire. But if you think the loops might be a challenge for you, it would be worth it to do some practicing on something cheap. The wire is sterling silver, so it's not the most inexpensive stuff to be throwing away!

I bought all of my supplies at Fire Mountain Gems online, but all of this stuff is also available in your local craft stores. I did buy my pliers locally at a Michael's--I used coupons (they were regularly $6.99 each) for each of them. I made the BRILLIANT decision to go with the pliers that have springs in them--meaning you squeeze them and they spring right back into the starting position when you let go. It made the repetitive task of clipping, rounding loops, and squeezing them closed much more bearable for my hands and fingers.

Anyway... now I'm planning on doing the bridesmaids' jewelry, too! :)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

11 down, 119 to go - Invitations in progress

I've finally started the pocketfolds for the invitations. I did a whopping 11 of them tonight. It took me probably a little more than an hour. I started getting more speedy with them at the end because I got into the groove and became more comfortable with them, but I know now that I am definitely in for a long haul. I'm going to try to do at least 10 of them a night, which will mean I'll have them done in 12 days or less. We'll see how that goes. I'm sure I'll keep you updated. That is... if I'm not committed to an institution in the middle of the process.

On to how the invitations now look... this afternoon, I made an updated mock-up of the entire invitation.

My original mock-up can be seen here. I was not happy with the color of the Stardream Lagoon. It was a little too green, while I was looking for a true blue aqua.

I refused to give up in my search for the perfect color paper, and eventually found it in Astrobright Glisten Lunar Blue. I found it online through my numerous google searches, and then went back to Tom at Anchor Paper to ask if, by any chance, they carry it (it wasn't listed on their website). To my surprise (and relief!), he e-mailed me back and said that they did, in fact, carry it. I ordered samples, and when it came to me, I knew it was exactly what i had been searching for! It is the perfect color. For more information on what I ordered, and how much, click here.

Another time-consuming obsession was finding the perfect stamp. After my original mock-up, I was convinced that it was too "plain." I saw knottie b2blewis's invitations in her bio and saw that she had made good use of a floral stamp. I went on the hunt for that particular stamp, but ultimately came up empty-handed. So instead, I started searching for something else that I liked. There are so many floral stamps, but I wasn't fond of any of them. After a lot of searching, I finally found my stamp on ebay.

Here is my updated "mock-up" (I'm thisclose to finalizing everything):

Here is the outside. It's hard to take photos of paper without washing out the colors. I might try to take better pics in daylight some day, without a flash. Anyway, the pocketfold is that Lunar Blue, the ribbon is a light aquamarine (satin edges, sheer center--purchased at Save on Crafts), and then the seal itself is made of the linen cardstock and the Stardream Aquamarine cardstock that I am using for the invitation backing (inside of the pocketfold). I'm still undecided whether I will include our monogram on the seal (as pictured), or if I'll instead include the names of the people invited, essentially using it as our inner envelope.

This is one of our Stardream Quartz A7 envelopes, which we'll address with an aqua pen.

Here is the pocketfold when its opened. I'm still playing around and finalizing fonts.

Here is a close-up of the invitation. Our names are in the font "Majestic," and the rest is in "Californian" in small caps. I screwed up the stamp on the left of the invitation, but I was too lazy to redo it for the mock-up. I embossed the stamp (which you can't really see in the photo) using sparkly metallic clear embossing powder. For the actual invitations, I might do away with the sparkly metallic and just use regular clear embossing powder. The sparkles are really obvious when they are where they're not supposed to be. It looks like stray glitter, which annoys me. Plus, with the metallic paper, it might be just a little too much sparkle.

These are all of our inserts--Accommodations and Directions, Reception, and Sunday Brunch. The font for the headings is "Ambiance BT Swash," and the rest is Californian again. I alslo screwed up the stamp on the Sunday Brunch card for the mock-up.

Finally, here is our response card, with its Stardream Aquamarine envelope.

I can't wait until this whole project can be checked off of my list!

Stay tuned for that. But don't hold your breath.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Symbols of Eternity

We went to The Source today and officially ordered our wedding rings. I ended up going with the plain platinum wedding band. The one with the channel set diamonds (that matched my engagement ring) was too much for me. I think I'm going to be happy with my choice. Michael went with his favorite from back in October, too. He got a platinum band with a brushed finish with polished edges.

We thought we were going to be able to get a discount on them with a coupon we received in the mail, but wouldn't you know--"special orders" aren't eligible, and given that you have to order a ring in your size, pretty much everything is a special order. Bastards.

Oh well, we never expected to get that coupon in the mail in the first place, so we ended up paying what we budgeted for them. And based on a tip from one of the best negotiators I know (a guy I work with, Jose)--we took cash with us to the store to hopefully be able to negotiate a slightly lower price, just based on the fact that they wouldn't have to process our credit card.

It worked--we got 5% off the total just for paying for them right then and there. It's not much nof a discount, but it's something!

And now that's one more thing off the to-do list and paid for. We expect them to be delivered to the store within three weeks. We have until then to decide what we want to have engraved on them. Interestingly enough, we hadn't even thought about that prior to going in there. It is just one of those details that has managed to completely slip my mind.

To have the date engraved is free, but if we want to add something else, it is $12. After what we paid for the rings, $12 (or $24 for the two of them) is really not a big deal, haha. At first, we couldn't really think of anything meaningful to put on there, but tonight I thought maybe it would be cool to do "I'll Always Be Right There." It's the title of the song we're going to use for our first dance. Not only that, but it's a nice message to carry with us throughout our marriage, eh?

Friday, December 7, 2007

O Christmas Tree

I finally got around to taking a few photos of our Christmas tree. I *love* Christmas lights!

And the big news here is that "The Griswolds" have their lights up again this year. There is this house in the neighborhood across the way from us, and they seriously have the most Christmas lights I have ever seen on a house. Well, I've seen more--but in a truly gaudy fashion. This is actually pretty tastefully done, considering the amount of lights are on the house. We absolutely love it and get a huge kick out of driving past the house several times throughout the Christmas season. I'm pretty sure they only put them up every other year. They weren't up last year and we were really disappointed, but we decided to take a drive by them earlier tonight to check it out, and sure enough--we could see them from like a mile away. :) We're going to take our camera up there some night to take a few photos of it.

Only 16 more days until Christmas! (And I have yet to do ANY shopping)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


As of today, we have 200 days left until our wedding day. Tomorrow, it will be 100-and-something. Wow. Time is really starting to fly now. Probably no more than a month ago, I was bitching about how it was still so far away--not anymore.

At least not at the moment.

Right now, I'm drowning in DIY projects--both for myself, and for others. It's nice to be busy, but it can also be overwhelming. I just have to take one thing at a time. I know I have enough time to take care of everything, but it just seems that with the holidays, things seem that much more hectic all around. I haven't even done any Christmas shopping yet.

I was really hoping for a snow day this morning so I would have a day to work on nothing but my own projects. But alas, even though it snowed all night and day, and the roads were pretty terrible... we still had work. Oh well... hopefully soon.

Michael and I plan to go add onto our registry at Bed Bath & Beyond this week. Some of our family members are looking to buy us gifts off of the registry, so we wanted to add a bit more variety.

Yesterday, I came home to a really lovely piece of direct mail. It's not very often I say something like that. I mean, c'mon, it's junk mail 99% of the time. But this was from The Source, the jewelry store at which Michael bought my ring. In it was a 20% off coupon for a $600+ purchase. Well, it just so happens we have a relatively big purchase to make there--our wedding rings. So we plan to go this weekend to purchase/order them. That'll be one more check off the list. It's not something I planned to do this early, but we might as well take advantage of the 20% off!

Today, I came home to a package on my porch (love when there are packages!). My supplies for my DIY jewelry came in from Fire Mountain Gems. Yayyyy.... but now there is just another DIY project staring me in the face. I'm actually really excited about starting this one, though, since it's something different. I'm sort of sick of paper, fabric, and paint at this point, so it'll be nice to spend some time on something else for a change.

My main problem is that I've been so busy with work, errands, holiday functions, etc. that when I'm home, I just want to collapse on the couch and relax. But I also have to be productive, or I'm never going to get this stuff done.

I'm off to channel my inner Martha Stewart.

Or my inner Al Bundy.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Tanya & Jalal

I finished painting a monogram aisle runner for Tanya and Jalal tonight. They are getting married next September.

This project was a bit of a challenge. I was painting on a new brand of aisle runner that I haven't used before, and it wasn't taking the paint as well as the other ones I've used. I had to go over everything with the paint three times, but it is done, and it looks really nice.

Tanya and Jalal have a shorter aisle, so I custom cut this runner to 50 ft. before I painted it. I also designed this monogram for them.

I hope you like it, Tanya... we'll get everything finalized and I'll get it off in the mail to you later this week!

I'm running a bit behind (by my standards) on orders at the moment. I apologize to anyone who is waiting for something, but the holiday season has been really busy for me so far. Luckily, I only have one client whose order is kind of urgent (getting married 12/31), and all of you others are being patient, which I appreciate. Since I do these projects in my spare time, and my spare time has been lacking, you can understand why I'm not cranking them out as quickly as I'd like. But I'm working on it, and you should have your products very soon. I promise!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

DIY Unity Candle? Wayyyy Easy.

Finally, a DIY project that didn't cause any stress. I didn't run into any problems. It was straight-forward as a project can be.
I bought a 3" x 9" white pillar candle at AC Moore on Friday. It was $5.99, but I had a coupon, so it was only $3.20, I believe. Today, I printed our monogram on vellum paper, cut the paper down to size, then wrapped it around the candle. I secured one end of the vellum to the candle with rubber cement, wrapped the paper around, then stuck the end on top of the other end with small glue dots. I then secured 5/8" aqua ribbon to the edges of the vellum (also using glue dots).

And tada.... done.

That was way too easy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Well, I started making my invitations--and I've already hit a giant snag.

When I began last week, I made just a few of them because I wanted to test out the adhesive. I didn't want to spend a lot of time making the things only to have all of the pockets come apart.

My mock-up never stuck together correctly. I figured it was because I put too much stress on the adhesive with the inserts. So I tried the "tent method" of putting together the pockets when I made a few last week. It involves cutting and folding a tiny piece of paper and using it as sort of a "hinge" that holds together both sides of the pocket. At first, I thought it was working.

Fast forward to a week later... I pull my two pocketfolds I made out of the box. And sure enough, they're coming apart at the pocket.

What a pain in the ass!

I'm using Super Tape, which I bought from Paper Source. I ordered like 6 or 7 rolls of it because it was recommended to me by another knottie who made her pocketfolds. I don't understand why it worked so well for her and it isn't working for me!

My paper is a different brand metallic than she used, so I started thinking tonight that maybe my paper is a little glossier than hers was, which is causing the adhesive tape not to stick like it should. So tonight, I took out a scrap piece and put it together like I hope to do my pocket. Except this time, I scored (scratched) the edges of the paper where I planned to place the adhesive tape. I thought maybe if I could "roughen up" the paper a little bit, it might help the adhesive to bond better.

We shall see. So far, so good, but we'll see how it holds up over the next few days. If this doesn't work, I don't know what the heck I'm going to do. It needs to be a really strong bond in order to withstand the stress the inserts put on the pocket when they are inside of it. In addition, it needs to hold up for several months--I want to have these things done with plenty of lead time, and be able to just store them in a box until we're ready to send them out.

I was not planning on this obstacle! The invitations are a big enough project; I don't need additional problems.

If this thing doesn't stay put, it's not the only thing that is going to come unglued.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New Project: Jewelry

Well, I've decided to take on yet another DIY project. I'm going to attempt to make my own wedding day jewelry.

Am I insane? I don't know. Maybe.

Well, we'll find out, won't we?

Jewelry has been one of those things I'm not quite sure what to do about. The simpler things, like a strand of pearls, don't go with my dress. I'm not crazy about some of the fancier stuff I've seen. The things I've seen that I do like... it's either too cheap looking, or too expensive.

Then I saw the necklace of knottie L&R070707. I asked her where she bought it, because it was exactly what I was looking for. And what is the answer I got? Well, of course... she made it herself. The style of necklace is called a lariat, because it hangs down in the back. Here is her necklace, front and back (I LOVE the back):

So I'm now adding "jewelry maker" to my list of projects that I'm hoping my crafty alternate ego will be able to pull off. Lauren (L&R070707) was nice enough to make a list of all of her supplies, and answer any questions I have had so far about the mechanics of it all. She's also pointed me in the direction of some really helpful websites.

I'm planning on ordering the supplies tomorrow, and then we'll see how it goes from there. I'd also like to make a pair of matching earrings.

Here is more inspiration, a necklace from knottie demafia. She also made her own, and she was the inspiration for Lauren.

She didn't really have any photos of herself close up, but you can sorta see the necklace from the front in this pic. It has two strands, just like Lauren's.

Anyway, I'll be sure to post info up about my necklace and earrings project once I get the supplies in and give it a shot.

Wish me luck!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Snuggle Bug

On Saturday, Michael's sister, Melissa, and her husband came for a visit (they obviously brought the baby, too!). It was our "Thanksgiving" together. Both Melissa and Andy had to work on Friday after Thanksgiving, so we weren't able to celebrate the holiday with them until the weekend. It actually worked out, since both Michael and I got to spend time with both families for the holiday.

As usual, I was drinking in little Brendan as much as possible. I absolutely LOVE him (duh). He's already grown so much already, but he's still tiny and perfect. Michael was getting a big kick out of him, too. As long as I've known him (and before I did), Michael's always liked babies and kids, and he's always good with them--he likes to hold babies and play with kids and stuff. I'm always so grateful for that, because I know a lot of guys aren't into that. He shares my love of kids, so I know he'll be a great daddy some day.

Brendan was so snuggly all day... I actually rocked/jiggled him to sleep twice while we were there. And I was perfectly content to let him sleep in my arms as long as he pleased.

I mean, really... is there anything cuter than a snuggly baby?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I don't have too much to add in the way of wedding-related things at the moment, since we're just trying to enjoy the holiday weekend. But I did want to post some photos from yesterday's festivities at my mom's house.

My mom just moved into her new house (officially) less than a week ago (we moved her all day on Saturday and Sunday), and on Thursday, for Thanksgiving, she had 18 people over for the holiday dinner. She's insane, but it all worked out. The house looked great (with exception of her office and the basement, which were not essential!), and we all had a very happy Thanksgiving.

My mom making the gravy

Michael and me
My matron of honor/cousin, Lindsay, and me
My mom's boyfriend, Dirk, showing off the fabulous job he did carving the turkey
The whole fam damily
Baby cousin, Mia, and me
Smiley little Mia (4.5 months old)
And then a pout (LOVE the lower lip sticking out!)
Another little cousin, Jada (5 years old) -- I couldn't get her to smile for the camera all night. But she underestimated my stealth photography skills. This was actually a candid!
Tummy time for Mia
Who needs turkey when you have such yummy feet??
Possibly one of the most beautiful babies EVER
Yet another little cousin (Jada's little sister), Kiara (3 years old)

These are just a few of the moments and people that I am most thankful for. I'm so glad that our entire family was able to get together for the holiday this year. We were definitely missing my brother, Trevor, however... he's in Texas right now for advanced training with the National Guard. Luckily, local families in San Antonio were generous enough to "adopt" soldiers for the holidays, and he was able to get off base and enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner with a family. I am thankful for the generosity of others! Since we were unable to have him with us, it makes such a big difference knowing that he was at least able to experience the holiday with a family with big hearts! We look forward to having him home for Christmas, though!

I hope you all enjoyed your holiday as much as I did.