My pets, what do you and your significant other bicker about the most? I would say hands down, A.P. and I bicker the most over cleaning. We bicker a lot. Note I'm using the word bicker, and not fight, because I feel like fighting is feelings getting hurt and saying things you can't take back, whereas nagging at each other in one minute spurts about something mundane, and then in the next breath kissing and eating dinner together and talking as if two minutes ago never happened falls more under the heading of bickering. That being said, we bicker all the time about housework. Two years of living together and it's still an issue.

Lately, I've been hardcore cleaning and redecorating the place and everything's a hot jumble of a mess, but it's coming together slowly. I pitch in some effort a bit at a time, so really the place has been a hot mess all summer, but is improving over time. Still, the place looking like this has led to some serious bickering. I keep waiting for the bickering to end, and the cleaning to be equally divided, and all these problems to stop so that we can just be, but it seems they never do. So I ask, do you all bicker about cleaning? How did you all figure it out?


The Best Part About Wedding Planning

Hands down, the best part about wedding planning was our tasting. It was the least stressful, most romantic thing ever. From the very beginning of our engagement, having good food at our reception was a high priority. It was very important to us to find a venue that allowed us the option of bringing in whatever caterer we wanted. When we found Lovely, who not only let us bring in any caterer we wanted, but let us do pretty much anything we wanted, we thought we were the luckiest people on the planet.

When it came down to food, we decided we wanted our menu to reflect our tastes, and settled on French food pretty early on. We met with Lovely to discuss some early preliminaries and also discussed having them cater our wedding. We decided to do a tasting with them, figuring that if we hated it or it wasn't what we had in mind, we could choose another caterer. They designed a menu for us which would probably best be described as rustic French cuisine, with Alsatian-specific fare. When I was very young, I studied abroad in France, specifically in a tiny little town in the Vosges mountains. I am obsessed with Alsatian cuisine, and one of the things we realized early on in talking to Brooke, one of the owners of Lovely, was that she and the other owner, Gina, both loved this particular Alsatian specialty that not everyone has always heard of: tarte flambée. Cheesy as it may sound, I'm a big believer in signs, and the fact that she knew about this dish was a sign. This was the dish I made for A.P. the night we got engaged, and it's one of my favorite things in the world. I might even put it on a last meal list! Suffice it to say, we were sufficiently pumped for our tasting.

Back in January, on a cold day, we went to Lovely after they had closed and had, basically, a private dinner for two, complete with champagne, which Lovely provided! It was so awesome, and by the end, it was decided that they would cater our wedding. And apparently we made a good decision, because everyone has told us how good the food was.

They set up the table to somewhat mimic the way it would look at the event itself. We decided we would cover the tables in this brown craft paper, that we would stamp with the images of the two birds from the front of the RSVP cards. Since we thrifted all the dinner plates, Lovely had us bring in a few so that we could properly see how our dinner would be plated. So really the only thing missing was a centerpiece.

A.P. was ready to eat before we even got there. We both starved ourselves all day in anticipation of the night's big meal.

Lovely's version of tarte flambée was prepared on a puff pastry, but was just as delicious!

The salad they put on the menu was composed of mixed greens, apples, gruyere, and brioche croutons, topped with a mustard vinaigrette. A.P. is not a fan of veggies, but he downed this salad with gusto.

The napkins were going to be a mix of white and blue cloth napkins held together with clothespins. So cute!

The main course was Coq au Riesling, served in individual crocks. The coq au riesling had a combination of leeks, celery, carrots, potatoes, and the chicken. It was so yummy...and hot! The glazed carrots plated here with the crock was the side dish we ended up picking, though they offered us several options.

They plated the main course on some of the thrifted china we had been collecting. It was nice to see how the dishes would look with the plated entree.

Finally, the meal concluded with dessert. Having a wedding in a bakery definitely puts some high expectations on the desserts, but Lovely exceeded our expectations with their spread. It included mini apple pies, mini peanut butter fluff pies with a meringue top, coconut macaroons, and vanilla macarons with a chocolate ganache filling.

They also brought us a plate of various cupcakes, including carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, red velvet, chocolate filled with raspberry and topped with chocolate buttercream, vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream, chocolate with vanilla buttercream, and my personal favorite, lemon cupcakes filled with lemon curd, and topped with a lemon buttercream. So yummy!

By the end, A.P. wasn't even sure that he could try a dessert, he was so full. We split a cupcake, had a cookie each, and called it a night. Lovely was kind enough to box the rest up for us.

All in all, it was one of the best moments of planning the wedding, and a night to remember. It also made us look forward to the wedding itself, and the slew of desserts we would have in our dessert buffet. Our final decision included: mini apple pies, mini peanut butter fluff pies, mini lemon meringue pies, the almond based macarons, and the coconut macaroons, vanilla/vanilla cupcakes, raspberry filled chocolate cupcakes, lemon curd filled lemon cupcakes, and the red velvet cupcakes. Plus, we had a small cake for cutting that we decided to make vanilla/vanilla. Too much, but sooooo good!!


A Dress, A Dress, To Find a Dress (Prt. 2)

Hello, my lovelies! I'm so sorry I didn't post the rest of this last Friday. I was, instead, violently ill all weekend. It was such a blast! We had plans to rent a Zipcar and go to IKEA and other fun stores Saturday, and I still had to do it (I'm the driver on record for our Zipcar account) and I felt like poop. I carried Gatorade and Pepto with me the whole time. So lame. Anyway, I'm feeling somewhat better today and figured I better get cracking on the rest of this post!

When last we left off, I had found a solution to my wedding dress dilemma, in that my best friend from high school, B-Mac, had told me her mother would be willing to make the dress. So awesome! I knew that B-Mac's mother was talented because in high school she made B-Mac's prom dress. I remember scoffing when B-Mac told me her mom was making her wedding dress, too. I remember thinking, "How lame! To have your mother make your prom dress!" But then B-Mac showed up, and the dress was stunning! I ate my thoughts, and filed away the information that B-Mac's mother made a mean dress.

B-Mac's mother and I looking over patterns at Fishman's

After talking to B-Mac's mother about what I wanted in a dress (the J. Crew Daphne dress, basically), we decided to meet at a Chicago fixture, Fishman's Fabrics shortly after Christmas. Now, I had done some online research and managed to scrounge up a couple of patterns that had features of the Daphne dress, so when we met, I brought those to the table. We decided she would combine the top from one pattern, the bottom from another, and use the waist height and some other details from a third. B-Mac's mother took my measurements, we looked at some fabric, and she explained to me about fabric weight, and type, and we did some looking around. Then we went to JoAnn Fabric, and she bought some practice material. The plan was that over the next month or so, she would make a practice dress for me to try on, so that we could ensure fit. Then, she would make any adjustments necessary, and make the final version of the dress in the final fabric we bought. I was to purchase the patterns and have them shipped directly to her. The wedding was about three months away. Sounds like great plan, right?

Measuring for the skirt length

Here's what went right about this plan: nothing. First, she received the patterns, but realized that she wouldn't be able to piece them together the way we had discussed. While I was blissfully thinking about the hilarious pictures B-Mac and I would take of me trying on my black and gold fabric practice dress, B-Mac's mother was waiting to hear from me...but I didn't know that. She had told me she would call me in a few weeks when the dress was done. When I started to not hear back from her, I called B-Mac and gently asked her if she had heard anything. She said no, but told me that she would talk to her mom and get back to me. Finally I heard from B-Mac's mother directly, and she told me she really believed there was a pattern out there, that it was just a matter of finding it. So, we decided she would go pattern hunting, email me some options, and I would re-choose/order a new pattern. She would make the practice dress, and then we would continue as previously discussed. We were now down to about two months.

More measurements at Fishman's

B-Mac's mother sent me the patterns she found, but I hated all of them. Instead, we decided that I would go with one of my original choices, which is picture below. I would use the short-sleeved version, and we would use a lighter weight fabric to avoid such a full skirt. Instead of lace, we decided we would use a chiffon layer over the dress material. My sash, which would help give this dress the look of the empire waist that the Daphne has, would be in a green material. I had found my shoes, so matching the green fabric was my only concern. B-Mac's mother was to work on the practice dress, and in the mean time, I was to either find my final dress fabric on my own, or with her after the practice dress was made. Still about two months remaining.

The pattern we ended up choosing...my dress would look
like the one in the lower right corner

My mother ended up finding out about a fabric outlet on the southwest side that is supposedly famous for its low prices and massive selection. We decided to go there, and then we would pick out the fabric. That didn't happen. I could tell my mother didn't want to pick out the fabric, that she felt uncomfortable about making a decision without really knowing what the pattern looked like/required. We did narrow it down to a few options, though, and matched some green fabric to my shoes. The trip was also uncomfortable because I could tell my mother did not approve of me having my dress made. She was really pushing me to go try on some dresses. She kept saying, "The pattern always looks one way and the dress another. Nine times out of ten, you put the thing on and you hate it." Just what I needed to hear, right? After all how much time was remaining? Just six weeks. Had the practice dress been fitted? Nope. Was the practice dress even done? Nope. Was I worried? I'll admit now that I was worried. I bit my tongue and the next weekend I purchased my final fabric with B-Mac's mother. We did an off-white crepe back satin for the dress, a nice chiffon for the layer on top, and green crepe back satin for the sash. We bought some nice material for the lining and called it a day. B-Mac's mother was to use the matte, soft side of the crepe back satin for the dress, so it would both appear soft and hang softly around me, making the skirt not as full, and the sash would be the shiny side of the green crepe back satin. I hoped it would be beautiful, and not as my mother predicted, not at all what I wanted.

Gotta make sure to write this shit down!

The only one I would really admit my concerns to then was A.P. I was also worried about what he would wear, too. He hadn't gone and tried on any type of suit yet. He hadn't even thought about it really. I pictured us marrying in jeans and t-shirts. I swallowed my fears, and moved on with planning. A.P. decided I should come up with a backup plan...just in case. I yelled at A.P. about finding what he was going to wear.

Then, more bad luck. A.P. finally found a place where he could get a suit custom made, but even an expedited suit would still need about six weeks. He was cutting it close. We took his measurements and sent them off to the company. Then, B-Mac's mother got really sick. I still hadn't tried on a practice top, and had pretty much stopped nagging her. I didn't want to be a Bridezilla, and I decided that she knew when the wedding was and either the dress would be done, or it wouldn't, and we'd figure out the money stuff later. About three weeks before the wedding, B-Mac's mother came to my workplace, and in the public women's bathroom, I tried on a practice top...that didn't fit. At this point, we were down to about three weeks. Can you handle it??

So...when did I get my dress? The day before my wedding. That's right people. THE DAY BEFORE MY WEDDING. I have to admit that I was pretty calm about all of this. I know that's easy to say, but people actually told me they were amazed at how cool I was. The secret was that I had a backup plan. During the cocktail hour before the ceremony, I was to wear a black cocktail dress, and I loved it. I loved the way it fit, the way it looked, and the style of the dress. So I decided that if the wedding dress was not done in time, I would just get married in my LBD. Many of my female friends were shocked that I would deign to possibly get married in black, but I really didn't care. At one point, I was eyeballing a green vintage number, so I wasn't obsessed with wearing white or anything. Plus I figured what else could I do? I had zero time, and few options. I just had to be okay with it.

In the end, the dress was beautiful. While I would have loved another fitting to fix a few, small details, overall the dress was everything I imagined. It wasn't exactly the J. Crew Daphne, but it was definitely my own version, and I loved it. It had a vintage look to it that reflected the overall wedding, and you could wear it very simply. It was effortless, elegant, and arrived just in the nick of time. As did A.P.'s suit, which arrived the week before the wedding, and also fit perfectly. All in all, though stressful as hell, it all worked out for the best. Phew la la!

First and final fitting!


A Dress, A Dress, To Find a Dress (Prt. 1)

So...I am not too interested in going all the way back through all of my old posts and seeing if I ever talked about the J. Crew Daphne dress. I know I had it in my inspiration boards, but I'm not sure if I talked about it being my favorite dress out of ALL THE DRESSES. I've been watching a lot of Say Yes to the Dress on the old Roku lately while I dick around on the computer, and I totally understand all these girls who look at every dress and hate it. I looked through so many dresses in magazines and online, and never once saw a dress I wanted to maybe try on. My issues with picking a wedding dress were:
  1. I don't particularly like white dresses. I've only ever owned one in my whole life, and it only looks good when I'm mega-tan.
  2. I don't particularly like 90% of the wedding dresses out there.
  3. I tend to daydream about what's beautiful, not necessarily what looks beautiful on me.
Keeping all of those things in mind, I finally happened onto a few different posts about the J. Crew Daphne dress:

Image via here

I fell in love. It was effortlessly beautiful. I loved that it had pockets, I loved that it looked like something you didn't have to wear complicated undergarments with, it didn't have some crazy train that would have to be bustled and shoved into a taxi at the end of the night. I knew it would be figure flattering because empire waisted dresses and things look good on me, plus they're universally figure flattering. It was simple, classic and lovely. Given that we married at a bakery called Lovely, it made sense to have such a dress. Only one problem...they stopped making it years ago. I scoured the internet, but of course *when* I was able to maybe, kind of, not really find this highly sought after dress, I, of course, only found sample sizes. Ladies, I present to you my non-sample size ass:

photo by me!

I became disheartened. I couldn't even bring myself to consider other dresses. I had looked through many, and had been blogging about and therefore seeing a lot of weddings, and I just didn't like my options. Plus, I couldn't afford to spend a ton of cash on a wedding dress. I wasn't one of those Kleinfeld's Brides who busts outs with a "I absolutely cannot go above $10,000," as if that kind of money is just no big deal. It is a big deal. Whether, in terms of wedding planning or not, we want to admit it, $10K is a lot of money. And I didn't have it to blow on some dress that matched the dress of my dreams that was universally sold out.

Not being able to find the Daphne dress left me without any real ideas for what to do about a wedding dress. Whereas most girls get their dress first, I seemed to be doing everything BUT the dress. Everyone would ask me if I had picked out my dress yet, and I would always sheepishly respond that no, I hadn't. I finally decided that I had two options: have a replica of the Daphne made OR find a vintage dress. The vintage dress idea was really my preference, and what I would have wanted. It made sense given our location and the look of our wedding, as well as my personal taste. But shopping vintage is a tough deal for me. I'm tall, large chested, wide-shouldered, and though I have big hips, I do not have a big butt or big thighs. I know I'm describing a clown right now, but really, the point I'm trying to convey is that vintage sizes do not always match up with my body, and so buying vintage clothes is always a pain in the ass...and now (or then, rather), I'm only heavier, so I can only imagine how much harder it's going to be. That's when my friend B-Mac told me her mother would be willing to make my dress...

...And that's also where I end this post. Tomorrow, I will post the rest of the story. That's right, I'm annoying like that. Seriously though, this post will go on and on forever, and you will get bored. I must break it up. Check back for the rest of the dress story. You'll appreciate the ending (I should be sainted for what I went through with my wedding dress).


Another Montreal Wedding and the Baby Brigade

Hello readers...I know you're out there, even if there are only a handful of you...leave me a comment (or two)...I'm lonely. No, really, though, I'm feeling the pressure to rebuild my readership. It's tough. I don't know how I did it before.

Anywho...we are back from Montreal. I loved it. I loved it so much I want to live there, but alas, I think that will sadly never happen. Oh well! We'll just have to take more trips there, I suppose. We got back early Monday and I've been going, going ever since. I started a life drawing class I'm taking, which goes all night every Wednesday. So needless to say my eye has been twitching from fatigue all week. I do have today off, though (summer hours, baby!), and I plan on relaxing, and doing more redecorating. I'm also in the middle of creating a new blog for our friends and family that posts pictures of, you know, our life and stuff, as well as posting the candids from our wedding on Picasa for our family. Oi! It's too much! Plus, believe it or not, we still have thank you cards to do! It just seems like every weekend we have nothing planned, and then two days before the weekend, the whole damn thing books up! So insane.

Anyway, would you believe that on our last day in Montreal, we saw another wedding?

Another wedding in Montreal...the bride was making weird poses in the middle of the street

The bride consults with her photographers post-middle of the street shot

So insane...that makes three total!

Besides the wedding though, I've been feeling a bit of post-wedding ennui lately. I'm also a bit depressed. The ennui-pression (that's my combo word for a bored depression) seems to be the result of two major things:
  1. The fact that all these bloggers I read before the wedding all have babies now.
  2. The loss of my job.
The loss of my job has hit me especially hard because I've come to the realization that I've been busting my ass for ten years and it never seems to work out. A.P. and I were lying in bed last night, and all of a sudden I broke down crying. Not because I am sad about being jobless, though that is part of it. But moreso because I am tired. I'm tired of working so hard and never getting a break. And I'm tired of being broke. I thought I was finally going to be stable and it turns out, not so much. I don't know if anyone can really understand this, but it's how I feel. And it makes my desire to look for another job and have to go through all of that business all over again nil.

The other thing that has me feeling strange these days is the sense that everyone is having babies. And even though I said up there that it was partially due to fact that all these bloggers seem to have babies so soon after getting married (e.g. A Cup of Jo's Joanna Goddard, A Lovely Morning's Kristina), I also have friends who are having babies, and other friends who are so much more certain that's what they want. I'm not. Even a little. I know I would love a child if I had one and that I would be a good mother, and that A.P. would be a good father. No one has any doubts about any of that. I just don't know if I want to be pregnant, if I want to have children crying, if I want my life permanently altered by the inclusion of children. There is so much I want to do before I have kids: be more successful in my career, pursue my talents, travel, own a home, hell I'd like to own a freaking car. Children seemed closer when I had permanent employment, but now, they seem so far away. As does permanent housing, permanent transportation, fleeting travel, and all the rest of it.

I don't know, maybe my ennui-pression is all a result of my deep-seated disappointment that nothing in my life has really changed. And I know some of you might think, "But you're married! You got married!" But all that really does for me is remind me that I blew a bunch of cash on a wedding, and that I now occasionally get weird mail addressed to a person I'm not (I kept my name...and I googled the alternative, and that girl is a crazy party girl who is friends with Miley Cyrus...seriously not me). Don't get me wrong, I don't regret getting married at all, but I just can't help but think I probably could have waited another year or two...money-wise.

A little Montreal French/English Humor

Ugh...any advice for how to get out of this funk??


Montreal Saturdays: A Day for Weddings

We are still in Montreal, and are having a great time. I'm getting wiped after walking around for just a few hours, though, and I'm wondering how, in my younger traveling days, I could walk all day and night and not be tired! Anyway, just a quick post (because it seemed apropos of the blog) to show you some snapshots of the TWO weddings we saw today. First, we went to go to the Basilique Notre-Dame, only to find out they weren't admitting tourists because of the wedding that was occurring there today. Just as we were about to leave, the bells started chiming and the usher at the entrance pushed us all to the side, and out came the bride and groom! So beautiful! All these tourists started cheering and taking pictures, and it made me think that it wasn't too long ago that we were in the same boat. I love that sense of community you feel when you witness a newly married couple, and everyone smiling and being kind. It's so beautiful.

The happy couple exiting Basilique Notre-Dame

Center of attention

The second wedding was literally a hop, skip and jump away at the Palais de Justice, where another newly married couple were having photos taken. So fun! Later, we saw the first couple again in a horse and buggy sipping champagne. They were smiling, speaking French, and having a great time. Their horse had pink hair! I, unfortunately, couldn't pull out my camera fast enough to snap a picture of that, but still, seeing all those brides and grooms wandering around Vieux-Montreal really added a sense of romance to this weekend.

Limos awaiting their bride and groom in front of the Palais de Justice

Close-up of the bride and groom being photographed

I hope everyone is enjoying their 4th of July weekend! Joyeux fete d'independence!


The Invitation

A.P. and I are getting ready to jet off to Montreal for the weekend. Seriously. One of our wedding gifts was a free round trip ticket to anywhere in Canada, and A.P. and I decided to take a quick weekend trip to French Canada! Yay! We leave at the ass crack of dawn tomorrow morning and return Monday afternoon. It should be fun, and I'm looking forward to speaking French. I studied the language for sixteen and a half years, and I haven't really had the opportunity to speak it in action in about eight years. I'm terrified of sounding like a total dumbass, misconjugating verbs and whatnot. However, I'm hoping that by the end of the weekend, it will all come flooding back to me. Right in time for the trip home!

Anyway, as promised, I'm trying to get back into the blog of things, and I figure that the easiest place to start was our invitation. The invitation itself was based on a design I made. I would scan that in and show you, but our designer still has it! Yikes! Anyway, the scroll around the wording, the two birds and the initials at the top were all featured in my sketch. I also picked the font and style of the wording, having done a mockup in Word to go with my sketch. Then, the rest is just good collaboration.

Growing up I was a huge babysitter. I worked for so many families, and made a ton of money. I pretty much worked every weekend from 4th-8th grade for one family, C. Blonde. She was like my cool aunt (though she would argue mother number two), and I was not only really close to her, but I learned a lot from her. She also happens to be a graphic designer by trade. So when I was done living in la la land and thinking I was going to silkscreen all those invitations (seriously...what planet was I on?), I went to her with my sketch in hand. She took that and designed this suite for us:


RSVP Card - Front

RSVP Card - Back

The invitation was printed on uncoated card stock, and was actually 11x17. The RSVP cards were large postcard size. What we did was center and clip the RSVP cards to the bottom of the invitation with gold paperclips, then rolled up the invitations, clipping both ends with gold paperclips. We then mailed them out in tubes with the labels affixed to the front. My mother, who has the most beautiful penmanship, did any and all writing for the wedding, including addressing 70 invitations. In the end, though, all the hard work was worth it. The end result was simply beautiful. We have a ton of invites, labels, and RSVP cards left over, all of which I plan on incorporating into a shadow box with some of the photos from the wedding. My mother is also going to write out one last label with our current address on it, which will go on a tube and also be put in the shadow box. But, as all you already marrieds out there know, this will probably happen in five years when I get around to it.

Anyway, here are some photos of us laboring to get our invitations sent out to play you out. Have a great 4th of July weekend!

All the stuffed tubes waiting to be labeled

A.P. readying the completed tubes for stamps

Me, stamping the tubes...3 $.64 stamps per tube! Oy!
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