Wednesday, February 24, 2010

wedding wednesday: the ceremony begins

I'm pretty particular. And slightly obsessive. And totally notice the little things. I wanted our wedding to be our wedding. You've maybe realized this already?

I also love music. It can help dictate the mood and help you express your emotions and help encourage those emotions in others. And it can surprise you. I had music class starting in Kindergarten and continued on with band until graduation. So, yeah, this was an important part of the day for me. The Hubby really enjoys music, too. He has opinions (which are often different from mine). But we did well making the selections together. (I'm not gonna lie--I think he gave me more say than he had. In this and in everything about the day.)

Our prelude music (aka the music that only the early birds got to hear--hopefully--I don't know for sure since I wasn't there), was very standard classical, wedding-type music. We were in a museum. I wanted people to think things were going to be fairly standard and traditional and then knock their socks off. Or something.

Then we started straying a bit from tradition. So, to help set your mood, play this:

I would like to point out that this song was selected solely by the groom. I just agreed to it. Grandma was seated during this song as well as the Mother of the Groom:

Followed by the Father of the Groom (aka the King):

And our religious figure:

And finally, the groom:

He was, of course, followed by his groomsmen but I'll spare you five pictures of strangers. You've seen them all before. They all did a lovely job making it down the aisle without falling or screaming or making strange faces.

Might I add again and totally randomly how lovely the light is in all these photos?

Ok, meanwhile the ladies and I were making our way through the maze that is the underground portion of the museum. We made it to concealed area and the rear of these photos just about the time our first reader was finishing up.

Remember the memory candle? Remember how there are lots of dead folks in both our families? Remember how it was my wedding day and I was sure to be filled with crazy emotions? Yeah, so I wanted the reading to occur before I was standing in front of all those people. Worked well.

My friend who was supposed to do the reading called in sick at the last minute. One of my lovely "fake" moms filled in.

What did she read? i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) by ee cummings:

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

The boys even paid attention (or at least stood there quietly):

And then it was time for the ladies!

(All pics by Monique Montoya.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

spring cleaning

I know, I know. Everyone is tired of winter. The 10-day forecast doesn't even call for anything closely resembling spring. So sad. But we did have a nice weekend and were very productive.

The new annuals (dianthus) on the porch:

Those ranunculus bulbs I bought and planted in October/November have survived the multiple freezes and are still growing. No flowers yet. Just in case they never come, I did buy one white one. Sigh, I love them.

And my MIL gave us two pots of hyacinths for Valentine's Day so I went ahead and divided them and put them in the ground. Wasn't sure if they'd like the spot I picked for them but they have grown! And are starting to bloom. There are 4 pink bulbs and 4 bluish purple.

And just a random picture of the bird. This bird survived the hurricane (only for me to drop it while cleaning up afterwards and humpty dumpty it back together) and then broke irreparably in that crazy storm that followed. I found a replacement a few months back and it sits happily on the porch.

We've also snuck in some work on the beds here and there and made a lot of progress this weekend. It's starting to look like a nice place to come home to...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

problem solving

We have a fence around our yard and it has two entry points. One is a small, people-sized gate that could lead you to the mailbox if there weren't a giant ditch between the two. The other is a pair of giant swinging gates that allow you to drive your car down the driveway.

Now, I never closed those gates ever before Maggie came along. When it's nice weather, we've been throwing her outside during part of the day so she can get some sun and explore her yard. She hadn't been too adventurous (until today).

When the Rescue folks came to evaluate our home (to see if it were fit for a dog), they said we had to have locks on all our gates. The people-sized gate always remains locked now. The big gate has a chain and lock on it but generally it's not locked even if the gates are closed. If we're not out there with Maggie, one of us is in the office with a view of said gates. Feel pretty sure we'd notice if someone were to break in.

But today! Lo! The gates were both locked when I returned home from work. I assumed the gate wouldn't be locked and was most concerned about having to leave my car on the side of the road, effectively blocking the mailbox from the mailwoman. Yeah, no. The gates were both locked. And could I remember the combination? Um, no. Did I mention I was carrying my purse, laptop bag, coat, fast food bag, and cup o' tea? Did I mention locked?

I try to call Hubby on his cell for him to come out to let me in (or at least tell me the combination). He doesn't answer. I yell for Maggie. Why? I don't know. I guess to see if she's outside. She doesn't come. Hubby doesn't hear me yelling for her either. So finally I either put my stuff on the fence or inside it and climb over.

It is then that I hear Maggie's collar jingling. "Where is she?" you ask. "Why didn't she come?" Because she was watching me from UNDER the house...

It was all very entertaining.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

wedding wednesday: ceremony location and details

When we left off, all the ladies and all the gents had been beautified and were ready to go. While we were doing that, some really nice folks were putting the finishing touches on the ceremony site.

If you'll remember, it took quite some doing to find our venues. Even though it was stressful and I thought the search would never end, I think it turned out fabulously. We got married where we met, two years (almost to the day) later. We were indoors--since I didn't want to worry about rain or heatstroke in August in Texas. But, man! There were so many windows and such great natural light. And when you add in the huge butterfly habitat behind us, we might have been outside. With air conditioning.

The area we were in is just a lobby. I had to rent the chairs and have them set up by nice friends. There's a large sculpture hanging above our "altar" that happened to go perfectly with our colors.

Since there are such high ceilings, I wanted to pull down the eye a little and had The Brother build a simple arbor-type structure. When I say simple, I'm referring to the materials and lines. It caused a few problems of it's own but turned out great. You'll see it a bit more in future photos but here's one of the bases (that caused problems of their own as the flowers were all dead the morning of the wedding).

Because it really is a lovely space, we did minimal decorations. Some of my lovely friends and family helped me make these paper flower decorations for the aisle chairs:

There was a table behind the rows of chairs that held our formal guestbook.

It also held our programs, maps to the reception, and parking passes. By far the most exciting item on the table, however, was the memory candle. I wanted to do something to honor the many people who weren't there that day. My SIL had done the same thing and I really liked it. Since the venue didn't allow open flames, I purchased a really cool fake candle online. The outside is wax and inside is a bulb, of course. But! It has a little sensor that allows you to blow the light on and off.
You'd think that candle was exciting enough (for dorks like me) but instead of a traditional candle stand, we placed it on a cake plate that belongs to my MIL's mother. It's crazy old and has been used in 4 or 5 generations of weddings in their family. I was honored to use it and couldn't have been more relieved when it made it through the day intact.

Up next? The ceremony begins!

(All photos by Monique Montoya.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

just another maggie monday

(It's Maggie. We'll start off with a gratuitous shot of her. She's still doing really well and has put on a lot of weight. Yea!)

I turned 33 on Friday. Can I still say I'm in my early 30s or must I switch to mid? I'd prefer the former. I celebrated with some presents (some I knew about but some I did not). And Hubby and I went to dinner at a fancy restaurant. Then we headed back home for some movie rental/couch cuddling time. It had been a long week and I knew it would be a busy weekend so I chose to be lame. And I'm not ashamed.

Yes, I cut my own bangs. No, they don't really look this bad in real life. We also ate cake. Hubby's decorating skilz:

On Saturday, we took a photography class from Leisure Learning. Even though I love photography, I just have the ol' point-n-shoot. We took a class on SLR cameras and borrowed the SIL's. I didn't want to buy one before I knew a bit more about them. What if I got one and never learned how to use it? What if I had hundreds of blurry/dark/insert-bad-adjective-here vacation photos? Do I really have time to learn this right now? I can get reasonably good photos out of the dinky camera and can fix things with post-processing. Turns out, it's not as hard as I was expecting. It will take some practice but perhaps we'll make the trip to fancy camera land. Here are some pictures I took after class (as well as the Maggie one above):

After class, The Brother and SIL came over to watch another movie and have dinner. Dinner? Good. Company? Good. Presents? Good. Movie? Not so good (Couples Retreat).

And Sunday was the most gorgeous day we've had in awhile. Every day has been miserable, dreary, cold, and wet. Then suddenly yesterday was sunny and 70 degrees. We took Maggie on a long walk and then met the in-laws for lunch. We were celebrating Valentine's Day, my birthday, and the in-laws' 40th anniversary. When we made it home, I was finally able to do a little yard work. You know, just in time for it to get cold again today (but at least there's sun!).

All in all, it was a very busy but great weekend.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

wedding wednesday: posers

I realize it's Thursday. I had a long day yesterday, traveling back home and whatnot. It's time to reveal some of my favorite formals. The guys did such a great job posing and working with props (you'll see a bit more of that in the post-ceremony shots). First, a semi-traditional pose:

Now, with props. You remember how the girls got parasols? I couldn't leave the guys hangin'! A little back story...the groom is known for having some weird facial hair moments during our courtship. I like scruffy best, then clean-shaven, then a normal beard. Everything else? The cowboy mustache and chops? Really any of his various stages of shaving off the beard? Yeah, not so much. So to let him have wacky facial hair for a bit, we made mustachios!

Seriously. Awesome.

The guys posed for individual shots with the groom:

Best man (from grad school, great guy, super subtle sense of humor):

Groomsman (from childhood)

Groomsman (from childhood, both of these childhood guys live in-state--we should totally go visit them)

Groomsman (from undergrad, he and his wife are expecting their first baby!, flew in from Cali for our wedding)

Groomsman (from grad school, flew in from Boston for our wedding and we returned the favor (out to Cali for their wedding the weekend after our honeymoon))

Let me take this opportunity to give props to these guys. To cut down on expenses and kind of match the mismatched look of the ladies, I told them they just needed to wear any black suit. Having only met one of them prior to the wedding, I wasn't sure what to expect but they all looked great!
And my favorite picture of the groom... It cracks me up every time. We call it the tough, smart lawyer pose.

Hmm, what's next? Let's get the ceremony started!

(Again, all pics by Monique Montoya.)

Monday, February 08, 2010

life list: throw beads off a mardi gras float

First, let me admit that we forgot our camera for this one but I'm sure we'll get pictures forwarded to us. Stay tuned for photographic evidence...

Second? If you ever get the opportunity to throw beads during a Mardi Gras parade, do it. It's really freakin' fun.

No matter how much preparation you have for an event like this, there will still be last-minute craziness. The FIL forgot his cell phone charger (pretty important when you're the King/contact person) and The MIL forgot her camera at home. Hubby picked those up before we headed down to the island. We me the in-laws at their hotel and frantically get dressed to head to the float. Did we remember to take MIL's camera? Nope. The King and I (ha ha) stayed at the float while MIL and Hubby went back to the hotel so at least someone would have a camera...

While they were off doing that, I was prepping beads. Each rider got 75 POUNDS of beads to throw. That translates into 2 giant bags. The floats are lined with nails and dowels and hooks on about every interior surface so that you can open your giant bag, remove a dozen beads from an individual plastic bag, and hang them. Each twelve are packaged together with a little piece of brown paper that you break right before throwing. This way you don't get all the beads tangled together. That becomes a giant mess and you miss perfectly good opportunities to throw some.

Last year, each person only threw about one giant bag's worth. We did MUCH better this year. We had less than one bag left over from the eight total (between the four of us). That's a lot of beads, people.

We have parades on two weekends for Mardi Gras. The first is more family-oriented and the second is more show-your-goods traditional. The was, of course, the first weekend. While I've never done the second weekend, I can pretty much be certain that I like the family weekend better. Only saw one boob but lots of kids (and probably only maimed a few with crazily flying beads). And let me tell you, people are CRAZY for beads. CRAZY.

So, yes, it was a great time. Do it if given the opportunity. You'll smile the entire time.

(Unrelated? Today is our 6-month-iversary.)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

wedding wednesday: the gents

Ah, guys preparing for a wedding. It doesn't really take all that long--no day chocked full of appointments to get beautified. Since The Hubby doesn't get to see these guys very often as they're pretty scattered across the country, I wanted him to have a nice hang out place the day of the wedding. We booked a room at a nearby hotel that they would use to get dressed in during the day and that we would spend the night in that night. The hotel ended up upgrading us so the room was NICE.

Too bad I can't show you any more pictures... Due to some lack of communication and then some miscommunication, the guys didn't really take many pictures there. Oh, well. Bygones. Regardless, I think they enjoyed hanging out and playing the Wii.

To give the guys equal time, I'll show you their formals in the next post. A few informal boutonniere pics. First the parents, then the groom. While most of the flowers held up reasonably well in the Texas heat, the groom's white rose barely made it past the ceremony. At least there's photographic proof that I didn't make him a measly little bout.

We wrote our own vows (more on that later). Here he is posing with them and his best man.

And finally, gifts. One of the things I did for my ladies was embroider handkerchiefs for each of them. I used an antique pattern and monogrammed their first initial along with some flowers that went with our color scheme. They turned out really well (although I have no photographic proof) so I embroidered one for the groom as well.

What? You can't read that? It's an excerpt from our upcoming ceremony postlude (by Ray LaMontagne):
Baby, we've come a long way, baby
You know, I hope and I pray that you believe me
When I say this love will never fade away
Oh, because you are the best thing
Ever happened to me

And he got a pair of cuff links to wear for the big day. I have to admit that these were one of my first wedding purchases (I may have even picked them out prior to our engagement):

And here they are close up so you can admire their wittiness (courtesy of weddingbee):

And there was a third, private gift given. Some artfully done and nicely post-processed boudoir shots... No pics of those for the blog. It's a family program...
Up next? The guys work it for the camera.
(Pics from Monique Montoya unless otherwise noted.)

Monday, February 01, 2010

homemade oreos

Hey, it's blog post #500! We should celebrate with cookies. Really fattening cookies...

(I sure wish we had sunshine again. Good lighting really helps make better pictures.)

It was a good weekend. On Friday, we took Maggie to the vet to have her staples removed. She did so good! There were two badly placed staples that were a bit of a struggle to get out and those were the only two that caused her discomfort. She was a real trooper.

Now, I'm about to make a confession. One of those really bad, I'm-a-1950s-housewife confessions. I love my husband. He's done a really fantastic job being a househusband in these sad economic times (aka while he's looking for his next job opportunity). But (here's the confession part) I kind of miss the housekeeping tasks. So on Friday, I went to the grocery store and made dinner and on Saturday I cleaned the entire house. I mean really cleaned. I even did a little laundry. It felt oddly satisfying. He bathed the dog (again, she did great).

Saturday night we had a dinner party with his parents' Mardi Gras Krewe. Nice people, great food, beautiful house, good times.

Yesterday we invited The Brother and SIL over for dinner and to meet Maggie. I was in the mood for comfort food, and I've been in the mood to try new recipes. I settled on chicken fried steak with a few jalapenos thrown into the cream gravy, a new mac and cheese recipe (a la Luby's), spinach salad (homemade dressing), garlic bread (the only store-bought item), and homemade oreos. The meat was good. Not surprising--this ain't my first rodeo, people. I didn't want to overpower the gravy with jalapenos and it ended up going the other way. I think instead of chopping them up, it would work better to puree them and then add them in. Who knows... The spinach salad was also good (made that one before, too) and the garlic bread was ok. Oddly not the best. The mac and cheese? I don't know yet. It was good and creamy, so many have been dry. But I'm just not sure what I'm looking for in a recipe anymore. Maybe I should wait and see how the leftovers are before I make a decision.

And the oreos... I thought they were quite good but boy are they bad for you. Recipe here. I think I'll hang on to that recipe for awhile. I think they would be popular at parties. And I'm betting you can use the cookies to make some mean ice cream sandwiches.