Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I'm a 2 dress, 2 ceremony... kind of bride?

The other day was full of excitement for two reasons...

I found a dress that is so me for the city hall ceremony and I also found out that we may not need the ceremony.

First the less exciting...  the not needing a second ceremony.  Apparently, PA is one of the states where you can get what is called a self-uniting marriage license.  The idea behind it is that the couple does not need a legit officiant (clergy, judge, otherwise ordained...) to marry them.  They just need the specific type of license and two witnesses.  If we got such a license, we could do away with the city hall marriage.  But I was a bit excited for it now.  I'm close to getting Josh to wear his Class A's (once he's sure he's allowed as retired military) and I got excited for meaningful photos rather than the standard engagements after the union.  Also, it would be better for us financially to marry sooner.  This way he can get the military paperwork adjusted and maybe it will lead to an increase in his retirement or housing allowance in the not too distance future.  At this point with him needing books soon and us not having any free cash, we'll take either.  Plus... I now crave the city hall ceremony after I came across an amazing dress for the ceremony!  I'm not a fashion guru but I have butterflies for this dress...  I'm literally drooling for it.  If we opt out of the ceremony, then I won't get said beauty and I crave her.

But before getting into the dress.  Let me show you the vintage hat that inspired the dress hunt and will hopefully be worn that day.  I'd also like to show the dresses that came along before her.

As I desire a dress that would compliment this hat, I had to go with dresses with the vintage look.

I found this little beauty at ModCloth first...  It's classy and city hall-esque.  It was perfectly priced at $65 and produced locally by a really cool company.  But sadly, she was out of stock.  =(

I then found this doll at Blue Velvet Vintage.  It was simple and sophisticated.  But despite her being lovely, she just didn't call to me as the one from modcloth.

So I continued my search for something that just screamed me...  This lead me to Unique Vintage and the following dress.  But still, she wasn't speaking to me...  Close but not the one.

I then began to grab straws and was looking for anything that could go with the hat...  I found this little sweetheart at Daddy O's that screams Dick Tracy's chick!  And while she would be perfect for the hat, she didn't completely come off as "bridal".  Plus I don't think she would be re-wearable to the rehearsal dinner as it's a bit too much.  I love it but the grandparents may not.

My friend Betsy who's a rather retro chic girl herself found this little gem from Stop Staring Clothing.  It's a bit more wedding that DT's girl.  But while it would work with the wasn't the one yet.

Feeling a bit lost and hopeless, I jumped back onto Unique Vintage's site.  And I came across another possible dress.  It's a bit fitted and off white plus has that vintage style that would support the hat.  Sadly, As the junk in my trunk is rather voluptuous, form fitted is not necessarily the best.  Unless the dress has a good bit of give, anything that fits my chest is too tight on my rear.  And if it fits the behind, it's loose and baggy for the girls.  Plus as any girl who is attempting to tone and loose weight, this dress may pose a problem in the tummy pooch area.

Then while wandering around Unique vintage...  I found her!  I knew it from first glance and then after checking out the additional photos, I was sold.

She's formal, yet flirty.  She's vintage and depending on how off white the color is, she may work well with the hat.  But love comes with the additional pictures.  The bodice is cute and rather appealing with the cut out.  But the lace up back is to die for and perfect for the girl who buys for the butt but has to cinch for the chest.

Then we come to the bolero...  Until I saw this dress, I had no idea what a bolero was.  Heck, I had never heard of one before.  But once I saw this one, it just made the dress slightly more sophisticated.  It's city hall wedding but still Alice in wonderland playful.  I fell in love instantly.  

Now the only drawback is finding the cash for the dress...  I haven't reworked the wedding budget since we talked to the catering company or since I decided to do my own flowers and spent money on makeup.  I need to get a firmer fix on the budget before I lay down $ for her.  But I just have this feeling that once I do, I won't regret it!  Anyone else find themselves becoming a 2 dress, 2 ceremony bride as well?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Now while I don't share the same love of fashion as Rebecca in the movie, I do have an issue with shopping...

Anything that is on sale and for which I might like, I tend to buy.  Often times they are items that I really don't need, like 3 random dresses on clearance for $5 each from a gallery turned used clothing shop.  Or how about 2 books on calligraphy from Barnes and Noble clearance when the whim to start writing script again caught me.  I tend to venture towards the clearance section in Starbucks each time I visit despite the fact that our cabinets are overflowing with ceramic mugs.  This propensity to buy led to my 1 month craft store ban as I easily drop $50 each time I visit.  But despite knowing this I can't help myself...  If it's on sale or I strongly desire an item or if future hubs doesn't act like a voice of reason... I purchase.  On a side note...FH is just as bad as I am.  We are like kids in a candy shop when out together.  For instance, a visit to Home Depot for soil and turf builder turned into us also buying a topsy-turvy strawberry pot when I have a real strawberry pot somewhere around here.  =(

Sadly it took watching a movie about a fashionista shopaholic to make me realize I need to ban myself from all purchases but the necessities.  That is until the wedding...  No more random books or random cute objects.  No more dishes, pens, art supplies or kits.  No more kawaii toys, pretty plants or random clothing finds.  The only items I am allowed to buy are wedding related necessities.   Such items would include a smartly priced dress for our city hall wedding to go with my vintage hat that will then be re-worn for the rehearsal dinner.  I need to be a smart shopper... That is at least until FH begins to get the GI bill housing money (hopefully by the wedding) and can pull a little more weight financially so things aren't so tight.  And with any luck while we wait for the government to give FH the GI bill, I might become a little better at not buying those cute objects from the sale sections.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The City Hall Dilema

All along we were planning a city hall wedding to make things easier on us.  It's purpose was so that we didn't have to get a legitimate officiant when it came to the wedding ceremony in September.  I was given more ideas for the civil ceremony after seeing a bride (Miss Jellyfish) from Weddingbee's city hall marriage.  Two things in particular stuck out about her ceremony that I just adored.

First, her hubs was in his dress blues.  I myself wanted future hubs to wear his Class A's for our September wedding.  But as always, he doesn't want to be seen as a soldier.  He wants to be known and loved for who he is rather than his 8yrs of service to the country.  Despite turning down the idea of wearing the Class A's for the wedding, he was open to the idea of wearing them for the civil ceremony.  I've been overjoyed by this compromise as I just love seeing him dressed in uniform with his salad on his chest...  yes, the mix of ribbons and metals are nicknamed a salad.  =)  Plus this is one of the few times he will be allowed to wear them as retired military.

  Miss Jelly and her hubs in his blues                   Only photo I have of future hubs
                                                                                       in his Class A's from when he 
                                                                                      was active duty

Second, Miss Jellyfish had pro photographers (the elly's friends Andrew and Amy) there as well.  This gave me yet another lightbulb moment during my week of wonder.  We are due to have my friend Kelly take our engagement photos in May.  But in all honesty we don't need engagement photos.  They are nice, lovely and traditional but nothing about us is traditional.  And while we may like such photos, I think we would be better served having someone document our city hall marriage.  So I proposed to future hubs that we get married in May rather than mid-summer.  We would work around Kelly's schedule to find the date and as my sister/mother work in downtown, we could call them to come out during their lunch break to witness.  After the wedding, we could get some photos at Point state Park/Ft. Pitt then walk across the bridge to a neat little art installation for more pictures.  As long as it's the same amount of photos and time as an engagement shoot would be, I don't think Kelly would object.  Heck, I don't think she'd object either way as she's such a sweetie.

Josh was fine with all of this but then brought up that he should invite his mom up as if he didn't, he would never hear the end of it.  ***Instant panic attack***  His mom...  not that I didn't adore her when we first got engaged and don't want to like her now...  but she's gone a bit nuts over the last year and has caused a lot of unnecessary drama.  The only reason I first thought to invite my sister and mom was out of convenience.  We could easily have any of our friends come to witness but those two are in the city and could come at a moments notice.  If his mom is invited and she can't make the chosen day, I can see it turning into her trying to get us to move the date to suit her.  Also if we invite her, that means we need to invite our entire family who also might have day conflicts.  Inviting the dads, moms, step-moms and all the sibs turning a small city hall union involving 5 people into a huge event.

It's not that I don't want our family there, I do.  But by inviting the family to this, we invite chaos as well.  I want his mom to have the opportunity to come, but I also don't want this to turn into the huge chaotic cluster f@#& that our wedding in September is going to be.  This city hall wedding is for us...  it's our simple ceremony with meaning.  It's our legal union because we want to be with each other for the rest of our lives in the rough and patchy moments along with the moments of joy.  The big ceremony looses all of that because it is just that... A big ceremony.  It's full of pomp and circumstance.  It's full of being friendly with relatives and friends you haven't seen in years.  It's being pulled 5 different ways and not being able to take a breath.  I love our families but don't want the small ceremony, initially hidden from family as it was to be just for legal purposes, turned into a 3 ring circus.  I want it to be a day about us with just us and not a whole entourage.  If there's a whole entourage then the simple pictures in the parks are out and then it's not just basking in the moment but dealing with ALL the relatives.

Anyone else have your simple dreams somewhat complicated in a pinch?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Rice Cooker

When we originally set out to plan dinner, I had no idea of what adventure lie ahead of us.  Our first meal choice was some kind of chicken with rice.  In an attempt to get away from fried greasy foods, this seemed to be a winner.  Hubs was to take care of the chicken as he has a fetish for the charcoal grill and I was to do the rice.  At first I was just going to boil up some instant rice then I struck on my second light bulb moment of the week that went like this...

Me ~ "Sweety, what do you think of using the rice cooker for dinner?"

Hubs ~ "That's a brilliant idea!"

Me ~ "Yea!!!  Um...  *pause*  How do I use it?  I just throw rice and water in then press the button, right?"

Hubs ~ "I think it's a little more complex than that.  You better look it up on your mac!"

I walked off grumpy thinking it's a rice cooker, a substitute for the stove... it can't be that hard to use.  But I had no owners manual and never used the cooker before (I scored this little gem along with my end table turned coffee table turned night stand and our kitchen table from the basement of my old apartment building).  So I set off searching the web for how to use a rice cooker.  I was intrigued to find there were more steps than rice + water + heat = sticky rice.

Here's my little journey I embarked on just to make rice...

1.  You need to rinse the rice.  (Apparently rice gets rice dust on it and if that is not rinsed off, it will cause the rice to stick to the cooker making a burned on mess.)  But you just don't rinse the rice once.  You keep rinsing till the rice water is clear or mostly clear.  This led to me with a strainer in one hand and a pot of water/rice in the other.  At the end, there were bits of uncooked rice flung all over the sink, counter top and the floor.

2.  Spray the rice cooker pot with non-stick spray (highly recommended but not necessary).  If there's enough water in the pot, the rice ought to not burn.  But if you do leave it to warm long enough, it could dry to the point of burning.  So this is a good step that I forgot to use.  Opps!

3.  Next you measure out the water to go with the number of cups of rice you just rinsed.  The cooker I "rescued" did a three cup minimum, which is 6 cups of cooked rice.  Yikes!  (Wedding registry idea...put on a 3 cup cooker so don't need to make a whole bag of rice at once.)  Under stove conditions, three cups of rice usually equals three cups of water but in rice cooker land, it's three and a half.  Or so says the manual for the cooker.

4.  Cook the rice!  This was as simple as pushing the lever down and walking away for 15-20 minutes.  The online manual said if you wanted softer rice, you can let it soak for 15 minutes before cooking but I was hungry and there was no waiting.

5.  Eat cooked rice.  Yum!  Yum!

The rice was amazing...  tasted like the sticky rice I get from the chinese restaurant just down the street from the lab.  It was not too watery and not too dry.  It stuck together just right.  I <3 the rice cooker!

Any other new lovers of rice cookers out there too?

Friday, April 23, 2010


Today I got the response to my Weddingbee application...  It wasn't a full out, you don't fit response but more of we don't have enough slots rejection.  (Yet I was still in slight sad, panic attack, pre-Mother Nature hormone week, want to tear up a little mode)  Unless it was a form letter, which I hope wasn't, I was told they really enjoyed my blog.  *bonus*  But I know there are bits that need adjusted to the blog and the application for Bee approval.

First, I tend to ramble.  On the application, I was... sorta... incoherent on the last section.  I knew I should have just went with one paragraph about him and me.  But I got so excited that I began to ramble.  And as I loved small bits of each ramble, I didn't want to toss away any of the gushing written word vomit.  Application Mistake #1 but fixable.   I also rambled in the "describe your wedding" section along with not having enough solid details.  More incoherence = Application Mistake 2, likewise fixable.

Second, we aren't far enough along with the planning.  Despite all these ideas bouncing like racquet balls in my head, we haven't made any huge firm decisions.  We have the venues but other aspects such as flowers and catering are on a teeter totter.  If all I'm writing about is the random little planning aspects or my brainstorming, it may inspire some but not all.  As Cathy (Mrs. Penguin) mentioned in her response to my "how do I better my blog over the next few months once we get more wedding detail" email, the committee likes to see evidence of the wedding to date.  So just spewing ideas out, is not as helpful to other brides as showing what we are doing would be.  I totally agree!  And spewing out ideas/not acting on what we have decided on is not helping me or hubs get things off the checklist.

Third, I don't post 3 to 4 wedding posts a week.  I do average about 5 posts but 1-3 are random little delightful rants.  Despite having around 4 wedding posts per week at first, these were not posts about my wedding but me scrambling to find interesting possible wedding ideas to post about so that my posts weren't a bride ranting.  This rolls back to me needing to get more wedding details down.  Once the details are down and begun to be made, then I can write about them and the process to that decision including all the maybe ideas.  =)

So my future action plan involves creating coherent organized thoughts about wedding related topics at least 3 to 4 times a week on firm wedding plans that we have made.  =)  I'm also going to revamp and restyle my application so that it's more professional like the resume that it actually is.  And I'll work on styling up the layout of my blog with a bit of watercolor!  ;)

In the meantime, I will continue my blogging and putting ideas in here and there without the focus to make it 4 per week.  Future hubs and I will now be pinning down some of those fly away ideas (eg. He's calling the catering companies today to get pricing) and making things more solid for the wedding.  At the T - 2.5 to 3 months time, I'll try again with the Bee.  As at that time, I ought to have more fodder for the blog!

How many other Bees out there felt the "sting" ( I'm practicing my lame jokes for future hubs) of rejection to only find themselves motivated and put back on track with the overall wedding goals?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mason Donations

This weekend while washing off a Classico Pasta Sauce jar to save for random crafts (buttons, beads, labels, etc) I had a light bulb moment.  Normally, I just rinse the jar out and recycle it.  But as I was planning to reuse this jar, I decided to give it a complete scrub down.  After sitting in a sink of hot water, I was in awe to find that it wasn't just a plain glass jar as most of the other sauces I've experienced came in.

It's a full on mason jar made with volume indentations on the one side and Atlas mason on two of the others.  As I've been playing with the idea of some kind of mason jars as table decorations for the reception, this diamond in the rough gave me a brilliant idea.  "Why buy separate mason jars if I can just save our pasta sauce jars!"

***Small but short happy dance!***

Sadly, if we used at least one jar of pasta sauce each week until the wedding, we would be able to collect around 20 jars (almost half of the tables if I only did one jar per table)...  But that's not going to happen as I don't see us being able to eat that much sauce.  So the next best thing is to invite friends and family to help in our collecting.  Not only will they be able to be a guest at our wedding but now they get to play a personal role in it.  But how to ask everyone quickly, effectively and in such a way to sell them saving us their jars...  For those online, a facebook event!  I'm going to set up an event page asking for them to start collecting jars whenever they they happen to pick up this brand or any other with honest to goodness mason jars.  

Is it weird of us to ask my friends and family to save old pasta sauce jars?  Of course not!  =)  Because it will save this bride and groom some $$$$ on an already uber tight budget.  

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Art of De-stressing

By no means am I buddist monk nor do I lack stress.  If anything I'm a high anxiety person.  Recently a good deal of anxiety was wedding, future MIL and grad school related.  Wedding related woes range from being 5 months out and still not having a caterer to not wanting to spend $500 on bouquets but worried I don't have the time to make our own.  As for lab, the work for my PhD dissertation seems to keep having small issues that then need weeks to months of troubleshooting throwing me behind schedule.  The lab stress has gotten to the point where I started to get an eye twitch during weekdays.  It would disappear during weekends and be right back again monday morning a few hours after entering lab.  The twitch I am choosing to blame on scrunching my face every time something else has seemed to fail.  Yes, I know it's science and it's never as dramatic as in the movies...  But I like seeing the light at the end of the scientific tunnel.  =)

In response to the twitch, I've decided to put together a list of ways to de-stress myself.

1.  Exercise
Serves to
~ Drop those extra pounds and tone before the wedding
~ Use up extra energy/wear me down so I don't feel like thinking (no thinking = no anxiety)
~ Release of happy endorphens

I will be setting up a routine as that's the only way I'll make it to the gym without a buddy or a class...
~ M, W, F will be crunches and free weights at home as I feel like a slob around all the trim undergrads at the Peterson attempting to do free weights alone on the mats.
~ T and Th will be cardio involving 30 mins on the elliptical and another 30 on the bike.

2.  Relaxing scents
Certain scents have been deemed relaxing and from my days as an undergrad, the smell of my old roommates incence had a calming effect.
~ Jasmine scent therapy via candles, incense and oils.  ;)

3.  Mood Changing Tunes
I need to pull out the itunes and rewrite my Blues playlists (all lost when I got the new computer).  There's something about hearing someone sing with a soulful force in your voice that just pulls you from reality... almost like you can feel the music.  A combo Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Bessie Smith, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, etc just makes me as happy as can be.

4.  A Good Read
"The art of happiness" by the Dali Lama.  Not that I have the time to read but I plan on incorporating 30min of reading each night to relax me before bed.  I'm hoping that will reduce the stress dreams.  =)  The art of happiness should work well to calm me as well.  During my last read, it put things into perspective and also served to draw me away from the funky mood I was in at the time.

5.  Cup of Tea
Future hubs recommends tea to relax.  I agree as long as it's low on caffeine.  Whenever I'm antsy and anxious, caffeine just makes it worse.  So a nice cup of camomile or peppermint rose before bed or even during the day in our cold lab should do the trick.

6.  More lists
I'm the type that if I don't make a list of To-Do's, I tend to worry about them or else they become forgotten.  So I need to make more lists to decrease the worry and still remember!  =)

So those are just a few of my future de-stress methods...  hopefully I can stick to each of them.  And I hope it might help a few of you out when trying to de-stress.  Anybody out there have any other suggestions?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Easter Antics...

Every Easter my mother wants pictures of us kids.  This year was no different than the others except it was warm enough to play in my Gram's front yard and I got more dressed up (a dress and makeup).  These are just a few of the pictures from that day.

Baby Sis and I playing around the tree

I love to annoy the little one... 


No, she wasn't climbing the tree to get away.  =)  And my monkey wanted to climb it too!

Smiling pretty for the camera...  And a cute moment my sister caught

They both felt it was necessary to stick their tongues out at me...  neither knew of it until picture review.

I was hiding....  Sadie was doing circus bear.

Josh fell in love with sadie and I just love my lil bro...

Our momma and the flowers we got her...  <3

The rest of the photos can be found on my flickr...  Anybody else out there ham it up for Easter pictures?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Punch Sharp! DIY...

While on the subject of punches this week, I figured I'd share this gem of advice...  Last Christmas I pulled out the festive holiday punches and went nuts on stacks of green and red cardstock.

Sadly after only using my tag punch to make 200 tags, it had began to become dull.  And when a punch becomes dull it no longer cuts the design out but begins to miss sections leaving a ripped paper halo.  Then as an good crafter that you are, you come back with your scissors and trip the overhangs.  Eventually you find yourself trimming so much that it seems more sensible to have cut the tags out by hand in the first place.  Epic Fail!  *super huge frownie face*  =(

My first thought was to have the hubs sharpen the punch.  He's excellent with sharpening knives so why not my punch.  Then I realized, a punch sharpened by him would be as sharp as a butcher's knife in chef Ramsey's kitchen...I would surely loose a finger while making tags!  So I sulked for a bit in thinking I would have to purchase a new punch.  That was until I happened upon a Martha Stewart gem of wisdom.  From

Tip: Tool can be sharpened by punching through aluminum foil or lubricated by punching through wax paper.

So I set out to sharpen and lubricate my punch.

Objective one:  Sharpen!
     But what type of foil to use?  The cheapest store brands are as thin as tissue paper while the highest quality name brands are as thick as the cardstock I had been punching through.  hmmm...  Too thin and it might get stuck in the punch but too thick and I won't be able to get the punch through it.  I chose a medium weight recycled aluminum made by Reynolds Wrap.

And as Martha said I punched through the aluminum.  I went with 5 times to be safe.  =)

Objective two:  Lubricate!
     For this I just used any old wax paper lying around the house.  As wax papers tend to be relatively similar in thickness, I didn't think that I had to worry about choosing the right type.  Sadly my paper was thinner than copy paper which led to messy punches and a wax paper nightmare.  So using a sturdy wax paper is also key.  (On a side note, did you know you can use wax paper to lubricate wood knitting needles?  You just take and rub the wood needles in the wax to keep them nice and moisturized)  OCD nature made me punch this 5 times as well.  =)

Now to test the punch...

Good as New!

Anybody else find any quirky little tips from Martha that you would have never thought to do on your own?
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