Wedding Wednesday: Short, Sweet, and to the Point

There's so much pressure to go traditional and wear the long dresses on your wedding day. But the more I think about it, the more I think a short dress would be so sweet, too. Check out this sweet, little ensemble. It's romantic, but without a lot of fuss. Wouldn't it be perfect for a late summer wedding??

Short and Sweet Bride

Would you wear a short dress for your wedding?

(Fashion board made on Polyvore)


Some Pictures from Leland

I would love to share some pictures of my weekend camping trip with you. Leland was beautiful and except for the rain on Friday, we had great weather. I was so happy to be able to share this special place with some new friends and make another memory with A.P. We cooked a bunch of great meals, laughed, ate s'mores, walked around town a bit, and most of all, relaxed. Most of all, though, we enjoyed the amazing scenery! I love the city but it always is nice to be able to see stars and gorgeous sunsets. Enjoy!

(Photos by me and Rev/Rach)


Be Right Back

Hi everyone! I hope you didn't miss me too much! We got back rather early yesterday evening from our camping vacation. We spent a wonderful weekend in Leland, Michigan enjoying great company, good food, and some beautiful scenery. I'm beat and still unpacking the bazillion bags we took with us (camping involves packing so much stuff!). I'll be posting regularly again starting tomorrow.

In the mean time, did you know that you can submit a guest post for Marriage Mondays? It's true! Check out the details here.

See you soon! : )

(Photo via here)


A Bit of Magic: Leland, Michigan

Growing up, I babysat the son of a family friend, C. Blonde. Each summer, she would vacation in Leland, Michigan. I was always included on these trips in the capacity of a babysitter. But these trips were so much more. They were magical trips where I got to get away from my family and spend my time at a vacation home, in a beautiful part of Michigan where everything seemed a bit greener and a bit sunnier. Even though I was the help, I was always treated by the mom like I was one of her kids, just the older one who babysat the younger one a lot.

The family owned a large piece of property with three houses on it, two on the water. There was the cabin, the Big House, and the beach house. We stayed in the Big House, but would walk down this little path each day to the beach house, where we spent the whole day playing in the sand, swimming in the lake, and walking the shore, looking for Petoskey Stones. Once summer, I found one in the shape of a perfect heart. When I was in 7th or 8th grade, I took it with me to school to show my science teacher. Later, I was changing for basketball practice (a team I stayed on for not even a whole season) and the rock fell out of my pocket and chipped. For years, I believed that I was destined never to find my true love because of that broken heart.

I loved going to Leland. We would do something new or fun almost every day: canoe trips, day trips to Manitou Island, boat trips around Lake Leelanau, water skiing. The weather there is near perfect: hot during the day, cool at night. I would always bring stacks of books and fly through them. I loved it! Plus, C. Blonde has a big family, so there was never a shortage of fun, interesting people to meet and hang out with. My favorite thing to do, though, was to drive about 10 miles or so to her father's property on Lake Michigan. He never developed it, so it was just a patch of woods right on the lake. We would go swimming up there and stay late and build a fire. It was the best place to swim since the water dips down and it gets deep fast. Plus, I loved that there was this little stream that came out of the woods and onto the beach. And if you swam out far enough, there was a sandbar you could stand on. One summer C. Blonde swam all the way out there. She got so close, but couldn't find it and turned around. We were trying to scream to her to keep going, but she was so far away she couldn't hear us.

When C. Blonde's grandmother passed away (the owner of the property), the family hung on to the property for a while. Inevitably, though, it was sold, the land was broken up, and the homes sold separately. And summers in Leland stopped. That was probably when I was in 9th or 10th grade.

When I was in my early twenties, I was talking to C. Blonde and she was telling me how she used to go camping up in Leland on her dad's property. I got it in my head that maybe I could relive my Leland youth a bit and go camping up there. Growing up, we were not campers. I think my mother would have died if she had to camp. She can't go get the mail downstairs without reapplying her lipstick. So, I went into this fairly rough camping trip with no experience. After all, where we camp has no showers, no toilets, no anything. I persuaded a friend from work who had camped a little, but not really, to go with me. I remember our coworker laughing at us, telling us he, "smelled a sitcom." We'd never put together a tent, we'd never cooked our food all day on a grill. It was hilarious! But we survived. It even rained the day we laughed. I remember sitting in the tent not really knowing what to do. I had to pee so bad, but it was pouring down rain. Plus, the thought of packing everything up in the rain was, well, not good. I can't believe I ever went again, to be honest.

Proud of myself for putting together the tent

Sitting in the tent while it poured down rain. That's the look of reallllllly having to pee, people.

But go again, we did. I returned the next year with the same friend, then the year after that with a different friend. That friend was a camper. He'd grown up camping with his family. I learned so much on that trip. I learned how to really keep food cool and make it so that you could really cook your own food the whole weekend. It was great. In 2007 and 2008, I went with A.P. He wasn't a camper. In fact, I joke he only does camping for princesses (the first year he almost killed me because we didn't have a mattress to sleep on). Still, he enjoyed taking the dog on a trip and getting to be outside.

This was the summer I learned how to really camp

Burying the dog on our first trip to Leland

A.P., the Camping Princess

Then, we sort of stopped going. In 2009, we went on our Smoky Mountain trip, and last summer we went to Montreal. Every year, I want to go, but every year, it becomes harder and harder. Then this summer, C. Blonde dropped the bomb that she was selling the property. A few days later, she emailed me the listing and told me I better get down there before it's too late. So, the planning began.

I always wanted to take a group of friends up there and this weekend, we are going to. In fact, we leave today. A.P., myself, and three of our close friends are all heading up north to the waters of Leland for a camping adventure. I'm the only really experienced camper (that's what I am now!) going besides A.P. Our friends are all camping virgins. I'm so excited to share Leland with them and we're excited to hang out, eat good food, and create some new and sadly, final, memories in a place I've cherished for a good chunk of my life.

The actual property. So, so beautiful, no?

(Photos by me; Photo of actual property via Trulia)


Wedding Wednesday: The Perfect (Reasonably Priced) Suit

In case you haven't noticed, A.P. is rather thin. I wish I could tell you he was a health nut who ate a raw diet and works hard to maintain his super svelte figure. Alas, the bastard was born with good genes (and yes, I know I just called my husband a bastard, but he knows I'm not serious. Do you? Good. Let's move on.). The guy can eat and eat and eat and gain an ounce at best. Nine times out of ten he gains nothing. What this means is that it's incredibly difficult to find him clothes that don't hang off him.

When it came time to find A.P.'s suit, we didn't know what to do. He couldn't wear anything off the rack, which really left us with either a vintage suit or a bespoke suit. We looked hard for a great vintage suit and found a couple, but getting them didn't work out. So, in the end, we had no choice but to order him up a bespoke suit. We debated whether to find someone here in Chicago to take on the task or to outsource it to the internet. I left the research to A.P., but in the end, we found a great option with Duchess Clothier.

Located in Portland, Oregon, Duchess Clothier asks you to look at several suit types and then email in your measurements and several photos of yourself. They then make you a suit and ship it to you in a lovely box. It is not a bespoke suit, but rather made to measure, which makes it a bit more affordable. And unlike many places that ship out suits to Hong Kong, Thailand, or some other foreign land that specializes in tailoring suits, Duchess Clothier actually makes their clothes in Portland.

In looking at their website now, it would seem that their prices have risen a bit. Still, a custom fit suit is under $1000. You really can't beat that price. And let me tell you: that suit fit A.P. perfectly! And he's worn it a couple more times since.

If you are debating what kind of suit to get the groom or groomsmen, I highly recommend Duchess Clothier.

A.P. in his Duchess Clothier 8 1/2 Suit

Here are a couple more options...

...in the NYC area? Check out Alton Lane.

...while I'm sure this ships out, the prices sure seem good. If you're on a tight budget, this might be a good option for a custom fit, made to measure suit. Check out The San Francisco Tailor. (And you don't have to live in San Francisco to get a suit from here!)

(Photo by Theresa Scarbrough)


Just Call Me Joanie

I'm going to give you a full update on my list next week, but one of the things I wanted to do this year was catch up on a lot of old shows. I watch a lot of TV shows, but until last year, I didn't have cable, so many of them I would watch on DVD whenever I got the chance. Last year, though, we got cable and it occurred to me that many of the shows I watch on DVD I can now watch on TV. So I began to slink my way through catching up on some of my favorites.

This summer, since work has been slow, I've been able to catch up on Big Love, Rescue Me, and most recently, Mad Men. And as I mentioned before, I've fallen in love all over again. Big Love is blowing my mind, too (I'm finishing up season 4, and unlike many, I'm loving the new opening credits), but Mad Men has me realizing that I should have been born in a different time.

I've always felt that I had the perfect body...for the 1950's/1960's. The pin thin girls of today with their tiny hips and boobs? That's soooo not me. I have an hourglass figure when I'm slim and a large ribcage, which always made me think when I was a kid that if I was super skinny, I'd resemble Jayne Mansfield. My mother and sister are both pretty average when it comes to bra size, but for whatever reason, the good Lord blessed me a big ol' rack. And I'm an amazon. I'm 5'10, over 6'0 in heels. And I'm more than half leg. If that doesn't describe the body of those great 1950's pinups, I don't know what does.

In addition, I've been obsessed with vintage and 1950's and 60's fashion since I was a kid. (Hello? Did you see my wedding? All that 50's/60's nostalgia floating around?) But my obsession with this time goes way, way beyond vintage decor and my curves. My mother is in her early 70's and my father is in his early 80's. I didn't grow up with music from the late 60's and 70's like my friends. Nope, my mom blasted Robert Goulet in the car (one of the many reasons I find Will Ferrell's impersonation funny and "get" it more than some of my friends...I actually grew up listening to his music!). I grew up rocking out to...Edith Piaf. And Nat King Cole. My parents didn't really listen to the Beatles or even Elvis Presley. But they sure made sure I was all caught up on my Irving Berlin and Cole Porter.

I mean, if I haven't convinced you yet that I grew up differently than most, maybe this will do the trick. When my sister and I were young teenagers, our mother would always try to force us to wear girdles underneath our dresses and skirts. I don't know about my sister, but for a long time, I felt like I *needed* to wear a girdle (since nowadays we associate those with sucking in stomachs and looking thinner). Later I realized that back then, it didn't matter if you were thin or fat, you wore a girdle. It's what ladies did. It's not that my mother thought I was fat, it's that I wasn't dressing like a lady. (She also was a big proponent of slips.)

I also grew up watching old movies with both my mom. Some of my favorite movies growing up were The Best of Everything, An Affair to Remember, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It's a Wonderful Life, Breakfast at Tiffany's (I still remember the first time I saw this sitting on my grandmother's mustard colored rug), Roman Holiday, and Sabrina. Can you tell I'm a huge Audrey Hepburn fan? I loved the fashion, the etiquette that everyone displayed. One of my biggest pet peeves nowadays is bad etiquette. I still believe men should hold doors open for women, take their hats off inside a building, and give up their seat for a woman on the train or bus. See? I'm totally old fashioned.

The point is, all of this has made me fall in love all over again with Mad Men. And so, when we attended our friend's annual pool party/ice cream social, I put on my best Joan Holloway attitude and my best Betty Draper outfit and pool partied it up. Everyone commented on my retro outfit and I explained to them that I was Betty Draper. But we all agreed, when it comes to bodies, I'm much more Joan Holloway. I say, just call me Joanie!

Do you ever feel like you should have been born in another time? Or, more importantly, do you watch Mad Men???? (Don't give me any spoilers, I'm only in the beginning of season three!)

(Ladies of Mad Men Photo via here; Other photo by me!)


Marriage Mondays: The Importance of Dating When You're Married

When you are dating and single, you always think, "Man, I can't wait to settle down and not date anymore." After all, dating is stressful and filled with a million decisions: what to wear, what to do, what to talk about, etc. You long for someone you can loaf around the house with, read the paper on the weekends in bed with, and cozy up next to while you watch a DVD. The ironic thing about getting married is that at some point you realize you need to date again in order to keep your marriage fresh.

A.P. and I had this realization this summer. We've always led a pretty active life, usually doing something each weekend. But we also like our couch time. We like to relax on the weekends, watch a movie and chill out. Getting married made us more insular in some ways; we stay in more now. It didn't seem like a bad thing until I realized that we never really go on dates anymore. We never leave the house and all the distractions it contains anymore just to focus on each other. Don't get me wrong, we leave the house. But when we do, it's to run errands or go out with friends or family. A while back I realized that we needed to be more proactive about things. That we'd both gotten lazy in the date making department. Plus, when you get married, I'm going to tell you the truth that nobody says sometimes: it gets boring. Sometimes you need awesome, old fashioned dates to keep it fancy and fun. You need to connect in that way.

At the beginning of the summer, I came up with an awesome plan. We would go on at least four dates a month, each of us planning two. Since we're now on a budget, I figured it wouldn't be the best idea to have all of those dates cost us an arm and a leg at a restaurant or on some kind of outing. So the plan was to each plan one date in the house (rent a movie, play a game, make dinner for the other person, etc.) and one date out (dinner, movie, daytrip, etc.).

I haven't done my dates for this month yet (we've been BUSY), but last month I did our trip to Long Grove and we rented a movie/made dinner one night, which I think counted as both of our in the house dates. A.P. kind of forgot, so this month he made more of a priority to remember. This past Saturday, he took me out to dinner at Glenn's Diner in the Ravenswood area. We feasted on a seafood dinner and I had some vodka gimlets and got slightly tipsy, which I so rarely do. Fun! Plus, we talked about all kinds of things and had a sweet little time being all flirty!

We need to get better about planning the in the house dates, though, as those can totally be the ones you skip actually planning. But other than that, we're excited to keep moving forward with our new plan.

Do you have date nights? If so, are they structured or spontaneous?

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Super Sonic Dance

This week has been all about getting stuff done. I've been cleaning and reorganizing rather lazily all summer. I think I tweet more about it than I actually do it. But this week, I've actually been doing it. I picked up a lot of stuff and cleared out some stuff, too. I think my biggest problem right now is that I have a lot of stuff I'm storing here instead of work (I was still so nervous about being laid off again, I think I was afraid to take a lot of stuff into my new job) and I have a TON of projects laying around. So my goal is to bite the bullet and take stuff into work and consolidate the rest. I've always envisioned the den being a craft/art/music/hobby room and we never spend time in there. My goal is to try to make it more inviting and try to spruce it up a bit so that we do spend time in there. I figure we're stuck in this stupid apartment for another year, we might as well try to make the best of it. And when it's all done, I'm going to do a home tour for you guys. Then you can see where I spend my lazy days. Not really, but you know.

Today, though, I have the most awesome wedding to share with you guys. A.P. and I are gearing up for another wedding in San Diego next year. Anyway, I was looking at weddings in San Diego, trying to see if I could find one in their venue, but when I happened onto this wedding, I couldn't resist posting it. I was so taken with it, in fact, that I never even got to look for a wedding in their venue! It's so awesome guys! It's FILLED with glorious, SUPER details and beautifully captured by Jagger Photography. I give you...a superhero wedding!

Is that not amazing, guys? I can't get over all the awesome details! And are their converse sneakers not the cutest? So perfect! Love, love, love.

This weekend, my girlfriends and I are kicking things off with a raclette and fondue party and we're watching the season six, part two of Sex and the City (we've been re-watching the series this summer for fun!). I'm super psyched to have some drinks, relax, and spend some time with some good friends. I'm still healing from my NYC trip (Emotionally, not physically. I didn't like fall from a tall building or anything.), so I'm looking forward to spending time with good friends. Saturday, we aim to relax to the max and finish up some house projects. And Sunday, my friends are having their annual pool party! It should be a fun weekend filled with good friends, good food, and lots of memories! What are you all planning on doing this weekend?

In the mean time, here are your dance moves for the week:

Vintage cigar box centerpieces

DIY Pie Pop Favors=Total Yumminess!

You MUST check out this amazing CMYK themed wedding! So, so clever.

I've been catching up on Mad Men lately (seasons 1-4 arevavailable on Netflix instant watch) and I'm in love...again. There are many, many days in my life when I really believe I was born in the wrong generation. I should have been a 1950's housewife.

Everybody should have an affordable ruffled top.

Marion Cotillard has the best short and curly hair ever. Seriously.

Simple and classic autumn.

What I wish my NYC eye makeup had looked like.

(Friday Dance Photo via here; Alex & James's Superhero Wedding Photography by Jagger Photography via Green Wedding Shoes)
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