Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Something(s) Blue

My excitement about our engagement has not faded one ounce since it became official on July 4th. And although we still have no date or place that doesn’t mean the wedding planning process is on hold. I have made some important moves in the last month. I got my little brother to agree to make my dress and the bridesmaid dresses and I opened a wedding savings account! These are big moves.

One of the first fun decisions Evan and I have made is that we want to incorporate the Bluebird of Happiness into our d├ęcor/theme. We collected these figurines when we lived in Arkansas and took Evan’s sister, Jessica, and my friend, Sarah, to the shop when they came to visit. We sent bluebirds to our family as gifts and came to find out that Evan’s Grandparents were already collectors. We are not sure how we will include the birds in to our day, but it will be nice to use them to tribute family that won’t be with us and the place where we became a couple.

With this trend in mind, today, I was doing some eBay browsing and came across this cobalt blue cake stand. I realize that I am doing things way out of order, but I couldn’t help myself. I bid on it and the bidding just happened to be closing. Needless to say, I won the bid. If I don’t end up using it for the wedding, that is ok, it is a beautiful stand.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wish List

I know it is not christmas time, but lately, I have been accumulating a list of "toys" that I am dreaming about buying. I've been a good girl this year. I'm sure I am on the "nice" list, but with a wedding on the horizon, I will force myself to hold out and wait for a visit from Santa.

The first item I am drooling over is a Mini Notebook Computer. I don't have an iPone, so I feel like this would be my mobile device. After researching, I have found this notebook that is less than 3 pounds and would be perfect to tuck in my bag in the event that I have a party planning epiphany that I need to document immediately. I am also looking for a computer I can use on my lap on the couch so that I am not stuck at my desk. It would be nice to be able to keep all of my wedding stuff in one place, but I'm not sure the memory on this little guy could hold all my inspirations.

The second item on my wish list is a Scoother like this Vespa. My Mom's next door neighbor has a little scooter and I think it would be so much fun to ride around the neighborhood and downtown Annapolis. I need to do some more research before I consider this purchase because I think you have to have a motorcycle license to drive one of these in Maryland. Also, the prices go up considerable when you get a scooter that can be driven over 40 mph. Maybe I should try to find a place that I can rent one rather than buying.

The final "toy" I am coveting is the Cricut craft machine. I saw an infomercial the other morning and I've been dreaming about it ever since. I've been thinking of all the DIY projects I'd like to do for upcoming parties and of course the big day. The Cricut would be the perfect thing to have. I do realize that the infomercial glamorizes how easy it is to use and the machine is quite expensive. I also know myself and I have purchased many a craft accessory that is all the rage for a few weeks and then finds its place in my craft closet.

I will continue to adore these things from afar since I know that I don't really "need" them. I do find it funny that my wish list is full of a bunch of gadgets instead of shoes and handbags. Maybe my tastes are changing...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mini Planters

This weekend Evan and I were inspired to bring some “green” in to our apartment. While Evan worked on potting some house plants, I went to work on these little guys. If you look a little closer, you will see that these are actually cupcakes! I don’t have what you would call a green thumb, but I have been in a baking mood. I found these on marthastewart.com and thought they looked like the right amount of challenge for a Sunday baking session. I used her cupcake recipe, but used canned frosting and they turned out adorable and delicious. The green “plants” are mint sprigs, but beware if you make these, they wilt pretty quickly, so don’t put them in until the last minute.

The Martha directions can be found here, but just for fun, this was my process:

1. First, I prepped my 6 oz. unglazed terra cotta pots by soaking them in soapy water in the sink and then rinsing and drying them. I then cut little circles of parchment paper to put in the bottom of the pots so that the batter wouldn’t drip through the bottom. Then I brushed the inside of each pot with vegetable oil and dusted with cocoa powder.

2. I prepared by batter and then evenly divided it in each pot and set them on my baking sheet. I had a little batter left over, so I filled 6 regular cupcakes and stuck them all in the oven at 350. The regular cupcakes were done in 20 minutes, but the pots had to stay about 10 minutes longer. I opened the oven a bunch of times to look at them because I don’t have an oven light, so you probably won’t have to bake them this long if your oven stays at 350.

3. After the cupcakes were baked and cooled, I crushed up a bunch of Tuxedo Penguins Safeway brand chocolate cookies (they were on sale for $1.99). I frosted each cupcake with chocolate frosting from a can. Then I sprinkled the crushed cookies to cover the frosting and inserted my mint sprig.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Gift Cards and Exchanges

I read somewhere that most people have at least $20 of unused gift cards in their possession. I know I am guilty of keeping gift cards with tiny balances, in my wallet at all times. My mother must do the same thing because last week when she was cleaning out her spare bedroom she came across a Banana Republic gift card. She immediately went to the store and bought a dress for me, so that the gift card wouldn’t sit in her wallet. She didn’t specifically pick out a dress for me, but just got something so that I could return it and get something that I like. She is one smart Mama. I went this weekend to exchange the dress and found this little number on clearance. I absolutely love it and can’t wait to wear it to my meeting on Monday.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mustaches and Non-Matching Bridesmaids

I have been on a million and a half bride/wedding/party planning websites and have found a couple trends that I absolutely love!!!

The first being mustache pictures. I have come across pictures from all different kinds of sites, alternative bride sites, traditional bride sites and party sites all featuring these adorable mustache pictures. Martha Stewart has this mustache template on her website and calls it “Party Mustache”. I first came across this mustache on Party Perfect blog featuring a yellow party by Simply Radiant. (I am also going to be using this yellow theme for an upcoming get together.) I can see how this has become a trend. People don’t want to take themselves too seriously. Taking wedding portraits (in my experience) can be forced and uncomfortable. It’s nice to see how much fun these bring to the wedding photos.

The other trend that I have for a while decided I’d like to follow is bridesmaids in all different dresses. My bridesmaids do not all have the same figure and I want them to all look and feel beautiful. I couldn’t decide if they should be a version of the same dress in the same color or completely different dresses. I think I am leaning towards completely different dresses in a similar color palette.

Brother, are you reading this? You may have a busy season coming up, but plan to squeeze in some fittings. xox

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Uniform Project

I just came across this site and am totally inspired. This fashionista has challenged herself to wear just one dress for a year and to accessorize daily in order to raise awareness for the Akanksha Foundation. This organization funds education developments in India. Not only does this generate some buzz for this great organization, you can donate right on the site. So far she has raised almost $6,000 and she is only in day 76. Here is the quick synopsis from her site:

“Starting May 2009, I have pledged to wear one dress for one year as an exercise in sustainable fashion. Here’s how it works: There are 7 identical dresses, one for each day of the week. Every day I will reinvent the dress with layers, accessories and all kinds of accouterments, the majority of which will be vintage, hand-made, or hand-me-down goodies. Think of it as wearing a daily uniform with enough creative license to make it look like I just crawled out of the Marquis de Sade's boudoir.”

I am extremely impressed with her accessorizing skills and will be checking in daily to see what she does. A lot of her accessories come from etsy, ebay and other second hand type of retailers. Her statement with this site is also about sustainable fashion. I have to admit that although moved by her efforts to promote some wonderful issues, I am just excited to see what she is wearing each day. And in the end, I guess that really is the point. If I’m on this site 289 more times (checking in daily), that is a lot of opportunity to learn more about and possibly donate to this Foundation.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Server Inspired Cupcakes

It is not often that a chef’s food is inspired by their serving pieces. I am in no way calling myself a chef, but in this case my cupcakes were totally inspired by the dish on which they would be displayed. During her visit last week, Evan’s Mom, Jane, brought us this Pink Etched Depression Glass server that belonged to Evan’s Grandparents. It goes beautifully with my Great Grandmother’s china that we recently unpacked. It just happened to work out that I had a can of Strawberry Mist frosting sitting in my cabinet that I was planning to try out. I just used my box mix of white cake and then frosted the cupcakes in a manor inspired by a post I recently saw on Bakerella. Her cupcakes (below) were from Retro Bakery, a professional cupcake bakery in Vegas. My cupcakes are store bought mix and frosting, so they do not compare, but they sure are adorable.

Wedding (Web) Sites

Now that we are officially engaged there are magazines pilling up on the coffee table, new folders on my desktop and new favorite sites adding up like crazy. It has been a lot of fun researching and reading wedding stories of do it yourself brides. At first, Evan and I were having anxiety about the cost of a wedding, but after a week of research I think we can get creative, have the wedding we want and not go into debt. Still no date, place or anything really, but it has been a lot of fun looking for inspirations and new crafty projects. I am going to use my side bars to keep track of my wedding finds and crafty projects, but here is a list of the favorites so far:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Moving Again

In what feels like a former life, I used to be a dancer. I danced ballet with the Ballet Theatre of Annapolis (now the Ballet Theatre of Maryland) until high school. Once I got to high school I participated in my high school’s dance company, expanding into modern dance and contemporary styles. In college, I joined the Dance Team and performed at football and basketball games where I learned to do Russian jumps and switch leaps. I took ballet class my freshman year, but then dropped it because it was at 8:40am and once in a while I was lucky enough to be invited to dance in a piece for one of my dance major friends. I thought about changing my major to dance a few times, but never had the courage to do it. And after college, I started working and stopped dancing.

Yesterday, I took a dance class with a local dance company, Dragonfly Dance Experiment. The director of the company is a girl I went to high school with, Megan. I ran into her at the performance last week and she graciously invited me to come to her class. I couldn’t believe how strange it felt to move again. I knew it would be hard to get back in to dancing, but I had no idea how foreign the movements would feel. I had a wonderful time, even though my feet were cramping and I couldn’t pick up the combinations as quickly as I used to. All of her dancers were so nice and welcoming. I think that I faked it pretty good, but it was a struggle not to look like a complete fool.

Megan kindly told me that I have an open invitation to keep coming to class and watch their rehearsal. I will definitely take her up on her offer. I loved watching her dancers rehearse for their upcoming performance and I would love to just be part of their warm up as long as I don’t get in the way. It feels good (and a little sore) to be moving again.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Engagement Story

I didn’t know how I felt about putting the very personal story of Evan and my engagement up on the internet for all to see, but I am being harassed by most of the people I know…so here is the story.

Last week was a very hectic week for me and Evan. We had my Grandfather’s birthday Monday, my Mom’s birthday Tuesday, the birth of my nephew, Owen, on Wednesday, a performance on Wednesday night, Evan’s birthday on Friday and Evan’s Mom visiting us for the 4th of July weekend. We both had a four day week last week, so we were trying to fit 5 days worth of work in to 4 days. That’s a lot of stuff going on. We have both been exhausted and stressed, so I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary when Evan said he’d been nauseous and anxious.

On the 4th of July, Evan, his mother and I went to Bay Ridge to watch the neighborhood parade with my Mom, Michael, Miah, Eric, Debbie and their two kids, Alena and Aiden. It was quite a family affair. The highlight of the day (up to that point) was the Bay Ridge races. We had family in all the speed races and the egg toss. Evan ran the 25 and over race (with my ring in his pocket.) The kids won some of the speed races. Eric won 1st place in the 50 and over men’s race and my mother won 2nd place in the 50 and older women’s race. She competed against one other woman and they both were given 1st, 2nd and 3rd place ribbons! It was a hysterical event.

After the races, we all went back to our next door neighbor, Rick’s house as he was having a party with tons of food. We ate and drank and relaxed in his backyard, then moved to our backyard and were just resting up for another party and fireworks that evening. Evan asked me if I wanted to walk down to the end of the street. This is nothing out of the ordinary because we always walk down to the end of the street to look at the water and get a moment away from the family. We got to the end of the street and Evan asked if I wanted to walk down on the beach and I said, “No, I don’t want to get all sandy.” Then he said ok, let’s just walk a little ways down the road. Then on a grassy spot overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, Evan fished in his pocket and pulled out a ring box. When he pulled it out of his pocket something else fell out with it and I saw panic on his face, but it wasn’t the ring that fell. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I kissed him and said yes!

After our engagement was official, we went back to my Mom’s house and the family freaked out for a few hours. Debbie went and got a bottle of Champagne and we toasted in the backyard. Then all the girls told the stories of their engagements and we got ready to go to the next party.

The last party of the day was at a beautiful mansion overlooking the point of the Chesapeake Bay. They had a band, a bar and delicious appetizers. They house is located in the perfect spot to see fireworks. We ran into neighbors and were excited to share our news with anyone who would listen. We danced the night away and then spent the night at my Mom’s house.

I am pretty amazed how excited I feel. We have been dating for 3 years and have lived in 3 different states in 6 different apartment/houses. We have been through a lot and I always knew we would eventually get married, but now it is really real.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Evening of Artistry

This past week was jammed packed with exciting events and Wednesday night was no exception. My good friend, Graham was in town doing a dance workshop and a performance in Takoma Park. Graham and I danced together in high school and became close friends, but I hadn’t seen him in years. We had a quick visit in Philadelphia 6 years ago and his wedding in Salt Lake City the year before that. It was so nice to get to pick up right where we left off and hear about all the “where are they nows” of his family and people we knew from high school. I went to the performance with my friend, Jill, who teaches dance at Annapolis high school. Graham performed with his brother, Joel, a series of improv pieces, choreographed works and music. Graham performed a solo improv piece, a dance with his brother and a choreographed work in a modern style. Graham has always had a very unique movement and it was really fun to recognize it right away as something familiar. His brother’s story is a pretty amazing one. Joel was in a car accident with Graham and the rest of their siblings when we were in high school and Joel was 9. As a result of the accident, Joel is paraplegic. Joel performed a dance with Graham and did three of his songs from his band, Seriously Evan. Joel has grown up to be a very cool guy and it was fun to see how he has found to express himself in this family of dancer artists. It was a pretty emotional display of art followed up by dinner at an Olive Garden in a rough part of town, but it was a really great night.

On an unrelated note, Evan proposed to me this weekend and I said yes. I am going to try very hard not to turn this into a bride blog, but we are very excited. More details to come soon.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Birthday Dinner Round II

Tuesday night, Evan and I went to dinner with my Mom and Michael to celebrate my Mom’s birthday. Yes, this is the second celebration of the birthday and there will be more celebration this weekend for Evan’s birthday. (We like birthdays in this family.) My Mom decided that she wanted a proper steak dinner, so we did dinner at Lewnes’ Steakhouse and drinks and dessert at the Chart House, both in Eastport. Lewnes’ is rumored to be one of the best steak houses in Annapolis. Mom and I both ordered the petit filet. It was by far the best steak that I have ever had. I ate the entire filet before anyone else could finish their plate and that says a lot. Evan had the prime rib and Michael had the rib eye. Both pretty impressive to look at, but it was voted unanimously that the filet was by far the best. The sides were very good as well. We had the hash browns and mushrooms. The quote of the night was “This is out of this world!” After the steaks we headed over to the Chart House and ordered the famous lava cake and a piece of key lime pie. For cocktails, I had a glass of Moet & Chandon, Mom had a Granny Smith Apply Martini and Evan a Grand Marnier Snifter. It was a fancy party! After the cocktail, the conversation got fun. Mom told Michael that he was delightful; Michael announced that the key lime pie was “out of this world” and we all had a good laugh about Dale’s brother’s house in Bay Ridge, which famously has a pool in the back. At the end of our cocktail hour it started to pour buckets of rain, so the boys did the gentlemanly thing and went to get the cars. On our way out, another couple was leaving and the women waited with us for her man to get their car. While we were standing on the deck under cover, she told us that this was her third anniversary and she was planning to be proposed to and because he did not pop the question, she would have a headache once they got home. A lot of information to share with two strangers, but it was a funny end to the evening.

In even more exciting news…yesterday, Michael’s daughter Melody gave birth to my new nephew, Owen. I haven’t gotten to see him in person yet, but this picture is absolutely precious. I might be a little bias, but I think he is out of this world.