Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ace of Plates

B and I did our first "walk-through" at Bed, Bath, & Beyond today. It started innocently enough--he had sheets to return and, well, I like following him wherever he goes. So in we went and, after a quick exchange, we were just browsing around and I asked if he wouldn't mind a detour through the china department, "just to get an idea."
I have a pretty big inkling that B isn't going to be huge in picking a lot of the detail stuff, but not for lack of interest. For one, he's pretty stinkin busy with law school summer internship call backs, taking care of me, and, of course, actually doing his work so he can stay in law school. Plus, after five years, we know each other pretty well. I can look at something and see the flaw he'll notice or the quality issue that will irk him. He can look at something and know that I'd call it "wonky"... Let's just say I'm less discerning in my reasoning behind likes and dislikes.

So we wandered around, mostly because I keep thinking we'll clash on some of this stuff, and sure enough we crinkled our nose at the same uber-flowery stuff and actually reached for the same flatware.

Am I lucky? I think so. B's pretty close to perfect (she types as he swiffers the kitchen in preparation for her birthday party that he's hosting for their friends). Then again, all you "Smug Marrieds," as Bridgett Jones once named you, out there might be shaking your head and saying "Just you wait, A. You'll see." Do me a favor.. leave me to my delusions. For all you know, I could be right. I'll be sure to let you know when I find out...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Self-Reflection in Terminal B

The last few times I've flown through Atlanta have been a nightmare. After booking my ticket, I've realized that I have 42 minutes to connect and will likely have to change terminals. So I start stressing right when I wake up. I get to the airport super early and then feel that knot in my stomach tighten as the arriving flight is late and the agents are slow to turn the plane around for our trip. 30 minutes left in my layover. Then we board and I get frustrated at the guy who won't just. put. his. bag. in. the. overhead. compartment. and. sit. down. 26 minutes left in my layover.
We often make up a little time, but by the time our plane arrives and taxis to the gate (I swear, it's in the county somewhere), that knot in my stomach has turned into the realization that I'm going to have to run. 19 minutes left in my layover.

In February, I sprinted, running all the way to the train, riding for 3 stops, and still made it. Even my bag made it. Granted, I was a little sweaty mess, but I was relived. In March, I turned on my phone while we taxied around the airport and already had a voicemail from Delta rebooking my flight.

"Hell no," I thought, and I ran. Ran to the train, then ran beside the train and the train was "temporarily out of service." To add insult the injury, Atlanta's airport gives you too much information. At each terminal stop point, you're greeted with a sign that says "You're in Terminal A. Terminal B: 200 Yards. Terminal C: 400 Meters. Terminal D: 600 Meters. Terminal E: 800 Meters. The Terminal You Need to Be At Right Now: 1600 Meters."

I've run track, so I know the easy math there. 400 Meters = one-quarter mile. In heels. With a rolley bag. Luckily, I tend to leave dignity at home.

So the March flight, I paused to ask the gate agent to let my gate agent know I was coming. "We aren't allowed to call between gates." Right. I believe that. Gr. I made it that time, too, but in a coughing fit, and my bag ended up lost for about 3 days.

So, after three chances, that 42 minute layover flight is out. For the same price, I opted for the two hour layover and, you know what, I had a great day. I was relaxed getting to the airport. I read Money Magazine on the flight to Atlanta, and actually caught some of the Democratic Convention during the layover. Instead of stressing over making the flight, I was just excited to see B.

I've always known I don't deal with stressful situations well, and I hate, hate, hate things that are out of my control. I know worrying about the flight won't make it more likely that I'll make the plane, but I somehow feel like it's my fault for missing it, and that I'm messing up my pretty precious time with B. He, for the record, thinks I'm crazy. That's why, however, we're flying out of Atlanta for our honeymoon, and only direct. The last thing I want to be thinking about that day is about whether or not the terminal train is working in Atlanta.

For the record, despite our super-late arrival into Atlanta, I could've made the earlier flight. I know because I walked to the gate which, for once, was about six gates down. And I learned a lesson. The guy I was walking with was on that short-layover flight and he actually stopped in the bathroom en route to the gate. Cool cucumber. Lesson learned...but I'm still taking the longer layover. Unless it's on the way back to Birmingham. Somehow, with B, I'm in NO rush to get home.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Durham Bound!

It feels like forever since I've seen B. When in reality it's been (checks calendar)... 2 weeks! Not even that, really. Oh goodness.
For the last three and some odd years, B and I have been long distance. We met at Princeton our freshman year and, after one date to a frat-tastic formal, he fell head-over-hells in love. Ok, not exactly, but it was our first date. I had no idea he like me, so I played an Oscar-worthy portrayal of "Hard to Get." Seriously, he walks me to my door to say goodnight and I wave and let the door slam as I head to bed. I didn't know! How was I suppose to?

He started calling me that summer at home but for a while I wasn't sure who it was (seriously, that clueless) and then, when I did know it was B, I figured, "Why's he calling me now? I'll see him in like three weeks?" Take notes ladies: we were serving up big old plates of Hard to Get, with a side of ditsy.

So sophomore year started and we "hung out," as college kids tend to do (God forbid anyone actually have a real date). Around fall break, I had a little break of my own and freaked out, telling B I didn't think we could date, that we weren't a good fit. The good guy that he is, B took my crazies in stride. Then, over Thanksgiving, after a heartfelt talk with K, I knew he was it. I had to date him and why, WHY had I told him we wouldn't work because let me tell you, nothing is more attractive than talking with the guy who wants to date you about all the reasons he shouldn't. Seriously, I've got great game.

The night I returned from Thanksgiving break, I promised I'd go see B and tell him that I was crazy and that we had to date. I even knew which outfit I'd change into as soon as I got to my dorm, but then, in the arrivals concourse of Newark airport, there he was. All his cute self with a little big and my bumbling, rumpled self flustered and definitely not wearing the previously-chosen outfit. He helped me get my stuff on the train and then talked for the full 45 minutes about his crazy Thanksgivings of the past. I still love hearing those stories, but they always remind me of just wanting to bust open right there and tell him I was so wrong and so crazy. Oh, ok. And to kiss him. (Can you blame me?)

He walked me to my dorm, then I asked him if I could come by his room later (you know, after I changed...obviously). He looked confused but said yes, so I sprinted inside, threw on my outfit (which, as I recall, was a white button down and jeans. Whaa?) and tore up to his room where I told him I was wrong (and crazy) and that whenever, if ever he was ready, I'd be there. Then he dropped the hammer. "I'm dating someone."

It's a small campus, so I knew this, but still. I told him, "I know. Just saying the ball's in your court." And, as if by stage direction, his new girl (grrrr..) walked into his room and I excused myself.

Long story short, we started dating after Christmas and became a couple that March. College flew by and then both of us went to Europe with our friends on separate trips. By the time I got back, B had been signed by the Mariners and would spend the next three years playing in Wisconsin, California, Arizona, and Seattle while I flew around trying to catch as much of the action as I could.

The point is, we know distance. Long-distance should be renamed for us, we've done it so much. We're the poster children for the post office, Pro-Flowers, and Verizon's In-Network. But now it's different. I never thought being engaged would make it harder to be away from him. If anything, I figured I'd feel this strong confidence, like the warranty had kicked in. But no. I mean confidence, yes, but I'm dying here! Get me to May 9! If I had an Easy Button, I'd install the "fast forward" upgrade (only not really, because I'm loving the planning).

I miss B, but not today, because I'll see him tonight for a much-awaited long weekend of doing nothing but watching Alabama football, seeing my nieces, and hanging out with some old friends from college. Thank you, holiday weekend!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday Wake-Up Call

This morning, at the unconscionable hour of 7:30 a.m., my phone began blaring whatever tinkly music I have it set to. Usually I'd be able to remember what the song is, but, when it's that early, I'm useless. Anyway, I draw myself up from my abyss of pillows (they are some GOOD pillows, thanks B) and peering at my phone. "K Cell."

Now I love my sister (see post below), but I have no idea why she's calling so early. Granted, it could've been an emergency, but because she has two adorable daughters, E (2 years) and A (7 months), I figured it was probably just "I've been awake since 5 a.m. with two munchkins, so really it's almost lunchtime so get out of bed you lazy sister" syndrome. I'm not one for early morning lectures, so I silence it and roll over.

A minute or so goes by and no voicemail ding. Hm. Curious. Another minute passes and then I get the voicemail ding signifying what might be the longest message ever left in the history of Verizon wireless.

Curiosity killed my sleepiness and I woke up enough to check the message and this is what I heard.

"Nana? It's E. Ok. Ok, ok, ok, ok. Ok. Ok, ok, ok, ok. Nana. Ok. Ok, ok, ok, ok. E."

I died laughing and of course saved the message (which means I have three voicemails saved...1) My three-year-old nephew saying "Congratulations! I'm going to eat all your birthday cake. I mean wedding cake." 2) Same nephew at age two singing me "Happy Birthday," then pausing half-way through to say "I tink she hanged up." 3) The above conversation with Nana (my mom, E's grandma).

I'm not sure how to interpret the message. Clearly E loooooves playing with mommy's phone and has figured out that if you hit the green button enough (Send), then, eventually, someone answers! But her conversation cracked me up. She obviously gets that you ask for the person you're calling, the identify yourself, then, apparently, agree with every single thing the person is saying or asking you to do. At least if it's your Nana. I'd say that's a pretty good lesson to learn so early.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I have the best sister ever.  I really do.  She's a big sister in almost every sense of the word, save that she's petite (in size, not in height.  Feel the need to clarify because we always called her a "runt" despite her 5'8" stature and, well, it wasn't a good thing to do.  So.  Definitely. Not Height.).
For most of my life, I wanted to be K.  She was running around the world doing amazing things.  She went to medical school, did Teach for America, attended Harvard grad school, and is getting her PhD at UNC...and somehow still found time to live out West, volunteer her summers at soup kitchens, and make it to my high school state championship track meet.  She is, in a (hyphenated) word, Super-Sister.
I love her for lots of reasons, but mostly because she's always been where I'm going before (whaa? Stick with me.)  Being older, she was naturally the first to dabble in make-up (ooooh), play sports, attend college at Princeton, follow her dream, backtrack and follow another dream, find the man of her dreams, get married, and have two of the cutest kids in the world.  I'm trying to keep up, really I am!  So I love her for a lot of reasons, but, for today, because she has already gone through the wedding-planning process.
Not having a sister would be hard.  Who do you call?  Who can say they understand during a family fight or even life situation.  I mean, she's been there.  She's from where I'm from, knows me to my heart, and, well, just gets it.
B and I don't have a wedding party just yet, but we've definitely nailed down (and asked!) our two most important players to join the team.  K is my Matron of Honor (but we'll call her Maid of Honor, because I'm bound to forget), and B picked his dad to stand by his side for our big day.  I can honestly say that I've never been happier, or had such an easy choice.  
PS...I promise this obsession with my sister isn't insane, but I won't promise that it's passing.  Expect to see much more about her fabulousness (and her super-cute husband and adorable kids) on here in the next few months.

Savvy Auntie

I like to think of myself as a savvy aunt(ie), but I had no idea that there was a whole support system for other aunties out there just looking to help their nieces and nephews. I'm not going to lie--it's a little freaky to me that aunties, and not moms, dads, etc, are writing for back to school advice, etc, but some topics do make sense, such as "how to keep in touch from long distances," "good gifts for kids," and "helping kids deal with loss," presumably of a mom or dad.
The weird part is the message boards. "Find people just like you!" it says. I think of myself as having a lot in common with various people around the world through different qualities and characteristics: sports fan, Alabama fan, Princeton grad, Nicholas Sparks fan, chick-flick lover, Christian, journal collector, food writer, blogger, and so on, but it would never occur to me to seek out a network of other daughters. Or sisters. So why would "aunt" be any different? Stranger still, the message boards are password protected. You have to join! What super-secret aunt stuff am I missing out on?

The page was started by Melanie Notkin, an "Auntrepreneur." Indeed. This is all very odd to me. Can't quite figure out how to join. Oh well. I'm kind-hearted and genuine and sweet, just another unique forum on the web!

PS... I need this tank top. In mass quantities.

Wedding Planning Moment of the Day

Early morning phone call from B...

B: I had a dream about the wedding last night.

Me: No way! Tell me about it.

B: I'll have to tell you more later--it was really funny. I remember everything leading up to the wedding and everything after the wedding, but I think I must've blacked out during the wedding, because it's just not there. I think I was just really excited.

Me: Did post-wedding me fill you in on the vows you promised, like the one to buy me lots of pretty things or to always snuggle during football games?

B: No.

Me: Man, dream me is way nicer than real-life me.

Things I'm sad I didn't ask my soothsayer fiance:

1) What color are the bridesmaid dresses?
2) Did we do photos before or after the ceremony?
3) What band was playing at the reception?

Seriously. Gotta put these dreams to work.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bathroom Exegesis

Overheard at the YMCA. Seriously, I'm walking into wash my hands and I hear this soft voice from the trio of stalls in the corner. I washed my hands for about 2 minutes while I listened to this...

"Well it's all Eve. I mean, imagine wondering which of your childrens its going to be. I mean, we're all fruit. And she knew it was coming. Just imagine being her. But at the end of the day, we're all fruit. All God's fruit."

A vision of Jesus and the Fruit of the Loom dancers did the two-step in the back of my mind.
Do I need to reiterate that this conversation was happening in a stall? I imagine she was talking to a friend about a child who had done something bad, and why couldn't her "bad" child be more like her "good" child. My inner monologue stopped with the fifty-something woman ambled out, still spreading her good word on her hands-free headset. At least I can be thankful for that.

How to Cook a Whole Chicken (On a Beer Can!)

We're about to embark on a very long, tedious, trying, tiring kitchen journey that follows a young chicken's path from vacuumed-sealed naked bird to fully-cooked deliciousness. Are you ready? I hope so.
So that's a lie. While we will follow the path from grocer's freezer to my dinner plate, the whole "woe is me, cooking is hard" lament is false as false can be. Did you know cooking whole chickens is easy? Scary easy. And scary cheap. My chicken was about $6 and, so far, it has fed both myself and J (originator of the whole chicken recipe!) dinner, me one lunch, and probably about three more meals over this week. Stick with me, kids. This is going to be a great one. Oh, and if B asks, this is very, very hard.

It all started when J and I were tooling around the mall wondering what to do for dinner. She threw out there, "Oh, I mean we can just make a whole chicken." To which I responded in a mix of silent awe and squawking disbelief. Then I let her lead me to Publix and get started.

We decided on roasted potatoes (simmered in chicken broth, garlic, and a little dill) with a sour cream-horseradish sauce, green beans, and (obviously) one whole chicken. I already had the potatoes at home, so we just had to pick up a little guy, aptly labeled "young chicken." I didn't see any "old chickens," so I wonder if they even exist.

J swings by her house to pick up the spices: onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, Old Bay, salt, pepper, and cayenne, for a little heat. I'm forgetting one. I know because there were six bottles of spices in my purse and that's only five, plus salt and pepper. Consider this slip intentional. Make your own rub, dang it!

So J shows me how to get the bag 'o innards out, then she loosened the skin slightly and proceeded to smear the young chicken with the spicy, fragrant blend. Then she set it up on a half-full can of beer in the oven and stuffed the whole thing with rosemary sprigs, just to show off a little. (Did I say I made this dinner? Ha.)

We popped this bad boy in the oven and let him cook for just over an hour while we made the green beans and roasted potatoes and, oh goodness, let me just say this will totally be a repeat recipe. It's so easy and makes soooo much meat. I'm planning on making sandwiches tonight on some homemade sourdough with a little olive tapenade and maybe some roasted red bell pepper strips, but I could just as easily throw it in pasta or on a pizza.

Seriously, try it. And remember to tell your dates, partners, spouses, friends, and co-workers that it's really, really hard. Otherwise, the secret will be out.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bridal Bonanza

Sunday started out like any routine Sunday.  Slept in.  Woke up late.  Rushed to Mass.  Enjoyed the peace and solitude (but missed B.  Way more fun on the kneelers when he's there.). Then I gathered my things and headed toward The Southern Bridal Show at the Civic Center. And that, dear friends, is where the fun began.
I headed inside with my ticket (bypassing the $7 parking lot. Hello!  Free Sunday metered parking.) and walked a gauntlet of models dressed in bridesmaid apparel.  (Rule #1: Don't have models wearing the gowns; get real people.  Model people piss real people bridesmaids off.  What are the odds you'll look like that in a floor-length backless silk gown?  Not likely.)  
The models-turned-"real people" actors slapped me with a pink heart-shaped "BRIDE" sticker and off I went into the magical land of white-curtained booths, thumping DJ remixes, and shot glasses of cake.  
The crowd was mobbing the front booths, so I headed to the back corner to work my way forward.  A lot of the booths were helpful; I was able to check out St. Lucia hotels, get info on registering at certain stores, and snag a few demos of local videographers.  But the real fun was the people watching and I am so so SO beyond sad that photography was "NOT ALLOWED," as stipulated by the massive signs outside by the bridesmodels, because there were some real classic catches.  
My favorite?  The herds, literal herds, of people that came in wearing matching shirts: I'm the Bride.  I'm the Bride's Maid (yes, spelled like that).  I'm the Mother of the Bride.  I'm the Soon-to-Be Mother-In-Law.  And two, yes two, I'm the Maid of Honor shirts sporting the same lilac floral design.  I resisted the urge to point out that their shirts should say "I'm One Of The Maids Of Honor," or suggest that they look into their unique spelling of "bridesmaids."  Ah, another day.
Instead, I went booth to booth sampling catering fare, tiny cake bites, and admiring the tux selection as modeled by the crew from JCPenny's 1998 formals catalogue.  All-in-all I got my $9 worth in people watching and chocolate dipped strawberries alone, so really any "inspiration" I got (my actual intention of going) was pure bonus material.
I'll leave you with one parting factoid and a few rules, so you'll know what to do the next time you stumble into a Bridal Expo.  The rep for David's Bridal told me now was a "good time" to get looking for my dress as they'd already had "387 of their 2010 brides purchase gowns so far this year," and wouldn't I like a $50 off coupon for my gown?  Bridal peer pressure!  Who knew?
Rules for Visiting (and Surviving!) a Bridal Expo:
1) Leave future husband at home, or at least let him chill by the catering booth. I promise, he doesn't care to be there and won't enjoy the booths as much as you will.  Unless you tell him you're going for free lunch and people watching, then you'll both be super happy.
2) Don't actually try to get any work done there.  Does future husband really want to get his measurements taken on the Civic Center's main floor? Doubtful.
3) Resist the urge to compare, unless you can win.  Girls are wandering around showing off rings, comparing bridal party sizes, and talking about honeymoon budgets.  Who wins here? Certainly not the guys (responsible for two of the three above topics), who have to listen to their own sizing-up, again, on the Civic Center's main floor.
4) Don't accept the offer to sit in the backseat of the rental vintage cars.  Really, what good can come of that?
5) Know when to leave the party. When the sugar rush settles in between your eyes and the pamphlets you're carrying in your big plastic bags start to cut into your arm, grab a few to-go samples of cake and head for the hills.  You're done here anyway.
6) Don't look at options for things you've already inked contracts for.  Really?  Recipe for disaster.

And enjoy it.  After all, it's "your day."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday... Check.

Today... was a day. Dark and stormy, thanks to Hurricane Fay, and also thanks to my mysteriously malfunctioning oven. Let me explain.
Today, a bunch of the high school girls took a day trip to Montgomery to see K & B's new house, so I decided to spread the bread baby love and take a loaf of sourdough down there. I got up early, turned on the oven and, within minutes, smoke was pouring out my range.
Panicked, I called the maintenance guy and then my mom. I had a flash-baked loaf of bread, a smoke-filled kitchen, and a maintenance guy asking me about the last time I cleaned my oven. Like I remember this. Seriously. (Don't tell B. Far as he knows, I clean my oven every night, right after I floss.)
I looked at the sad loaf and said, "Screw it." Smoke be damned, I was baking this bread. I "cleaned" what I could from the oven, even leaving it a little offering of part of my hand in the processes (only a slight second-degree burn at most, I'm sure). Tossed the loaf in and let it bask in its smoky flavor. I'm calling it Artisan Bread and optioning the secret recipe to Panera next week.
Post-carb fiasco, I headed to meet the girls and their guys and one baby and the eight of us headed down to Montgomery, where we had lunch then spent the day avoiding the rain inside watching K&B's wedding video, making dinner, looking through old pictures, and just catching up. Perfect day. Fay wailed away outside, but we didn't mind too much.
When it came time to leave, we packed up and headed home. I got out in the pouring rain and couldn't get in my car--It has an automatic sensor lock/unlock mechanism, so I thought I might've left my key in H's car. Ran back, checked. Nope. Found key in purse. Popped actual key in door, got door open only to realize that my car was, well, dead. Dead dead. Not even pretending to crank dead.
So I did what any respectable almost 25-year-old girl would do. I ran flailing into the rain to flag down my friend and her boyfriend, who graciously came back, graciously took me to Wal-Mart, and graciously jumped my battery in the pouring rain. For my birthday, I want jumper cables. Seriously.
It all worked out. I got my car started and got home and my friend's boyfriend, well, he not only got my undying love and devotion (seriously C. Never been so attractive to me as tonight.), but also the excuse to buy a 93-piece auto roadside assistance kit. No kidding, the tiny dop-sized bag has ponchos, traffic cones, a flash light, a cone to turn your flashlight into a traffic-directing flare, a fire-smothering blanket, a host of tools, jumper cables (obviously), and about 83 other things. I wouldn't be surprised if one was a t-shirt with a name patch you could custom design. I think C might just be getting a second job with AAA.
What a day. So good to see friends and remember what's important in life. Also good to be humbled and reminded that I am still very much in need and connected to those around me, be it by circumstance or, in this instance, jumper cables.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I Heart Alabama Stuff

Victoria's Secret's Pink line has started a Collegiate Collection and I am in love with this super cute hoodie.  Granted, also in love with the plain Alabama tee.  How comfy does this look?  Countdown to game day is on with the first game being a week from today in Atlanta vs Clemson.  I'm missing that one to visit B in Durham (eee!), but I'll be cheering from the comfy green couch.  
It may be cliche, but nothing beats game day.  Despite the traffic in, the even worse traffic out, and the over-the-top terrible-for-you food served all day long, it's the best part of the year.  Plus I get to spend lots of time with my daddy on his turf seeing his old haunts from his Alabama days.  What could be better?

I hate I'm missing the first game, but I'm getting excited for all the ones I will make.  As for me, this weekend is total indulgence: dinner and shopping with J tonight, visiting K at her new home in Montgomery tomorrow, and then Sunday is Mass, bridal show, and movie night with the girls.  Ah lazy weekends that are packed with all the best in life.  If only I could get B here, all would be perfect.

Hmmm.. despite my best intentions and paid work on a website, I can't figure out how to embed a link from a mac, so here's the hook-up.  Enjoy!

Wedding Planning Moment of the Day

B: So I signed up on The Knot so I could look at their honeymoon stuff.

Me: Oh, no...

B: And now they're emailing me asking what city our wedding is in.

Me: Run. Run away. Run away now.

For those of you who don't know, The Knot (.com) is a great wedding resource. You can look up tons of cakes, dresses, etc and chat on message boards. Sounds peachy, right? Except that two boards have just been stripped clean due to their over-aggressive (read: m.e.a.n.) content, namely "Advice from Brides" (now named "Snarky Brides") and "Not (Yet) Engaged".

But the real kicker is that in order to see any image larger than thumbnail size, you have to sign in, which is how they got B. But then they start asking you innocent questions, sizing up your location, budget, wedding party, etc, and start emailing you every day with reminders, countdowns, to-do lists, etc. Marriage? What marriage? Today is MY day. There is no tomorrow! Sheesh.

...I do love that he was on The Knot for honeymoon planning. Well done, B. We're nothing if not well researched.

Cookie Basket Goes Corporate

Nom nom nom. I like repeating myself on my work blog (making this blog... research), so check out my cookie bouquet crisis over on You've Got To Taste This.
As for the Cookie Monster cupcakes hanging out over there (um, how freakin cute are those guys??), I was trying to think of a way to make me eat the cookies, rather than just look at them, and Cookie Monster's tried-and-true method came to mind.

I may have to make these cupcakes. Now.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pre-Cana 101

Before B and I could actually set a date in the Catholic church, we had to meet with someone from his home parish and get our homework, which includes a) proof of our baptisms dated between now and May 9, 2009 (so ensure we haven't been married before), b) signed affidavits by our parents stating that we haven't been married before and aren't entering into this union due to force, coercion, or under contract (helllllo prenup), and c) complete Pre-Cana.
Pre-Cana, or premarital counseling to all you protestants out there, is named as such in reference to Christ's presence at the wedding of friends in the village of (ding ding ding!) Cana. So basically, attending Pre-Cana is one way of trying to enter marriage with God's blessing. Plus they'll give us financial training, conflict management tools, and lots of Natural Family Planning advice. Two of those three things will be greatly appreciated!

Our three options are:

1. Engaged Encounter-A weekend-long retreat at a "mid-level hotel" where you "talk about talking." Check. Not the Deacon's favorite.

2. One-Day Workshop-A (surprise!) day-long marathon of all the topics from the weekend-long event compressed into one day. Great if you're pressed for time, but not ideal for deep evaluation. Let's not kid ourselves though, you need more than a weekend, but three days has got to be better than one, right?

3. Three to Get Married-Same amount of time as the engaged encounter, only you get to sleep at home and they have set times for you to discuss their topics as a couple.

So we're going with #3, and I think it'll be really great. I'm already a little nervous because, well, that's what I do: get nervous about things I have no control over. This weekend is about us and our marriage, not the what the other couples or even the group leaders think about us. Granted, we do need them to sign our certificate at the end so we can complete our "homework," but still.

I'm actually excited about going (our session is in November) because already I feel like we're working pretty steadily on the wedding weekend itself, and on enjoying our pretty fabulous engagement, so it's a nice time to be working on marriage. On us.

That said, we're welcoming any and all engagement/marriage/counseling advice. Lay it on us! I feel like I already know so much about my fiance (five years of dating will do that to you!), but I'm looking forward to getting to know him more and more everyday.

As his mom said, "I mean, there are things you'll never think of, like what brand of mayonnaise you like." Granted, neither of us even likes mayo, but I get her point: you don't know what you don't know until you know that you know it. I'm looking forward to the surprises...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

International Male = National Disaster

Ever missed the 80's? Now there's a cure for that. Simply take a nice, hard look at this 1986 issue of International Male. I promise never to long for spandex and poofy bangs again. (Wait, do I ever long for that? Doubtful.)
Angel tops. Fanny packs. Short short SHORT shorts with wanna-be Timberlands. Plus check out the guys. I know humans don't evolve this much in less than 20 years. Is it the style? Does style actually alter jawline? Plus everyone is looking left. Very awkward.

Love the author. Best comment yet:

It takes me back to when, as a wee lass, I found out Rolfe was a Nazi in the Sound Of Music. Sniff.

There are no words. Thanks to J (again!) for the fabulous find.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wedding Planning Moment of the Day

Me: Sweetie? What do you want people to throw at us as we leave."
B: (horrified face over video phone)
Me: I mean, they can blow bubbles or throw rice. Or rose petals. Or hold sparklers. Or really anything we want.
B: Doves.
Me: Doves?
B: Yeah! People could hold them and let them go. Who wouldn't love that?
Me: (raising hand over video phone)
B: Ok, ok. Let's compromise [Editor's Note: SEE? Them premaritals is going good.] How about kittens? They're cute. People can throw them at us, and they don't have wrists, so they always land on their feet. Softly.
Me: Ooh, or maybe small children! People could throw their kids at us.
B: Now that would just be weird.

I Met the Deacon and the (beat) Deacon Won

This past weekend proved to be adventuresome. I knew I'd be going to Atlanta to help B pack up for his 2nd year at Duke Law (wah!), but when his mom called on Friday morning, it was not anything I ever expected."You know, you'll be in town," she said. "You could just call and see if the church would meet with you."
The logical half of my brain understood this. We'll have to have this meeting anyway, it said. Now's perfect! The other, larger half said, Are you kidding? What are we going to wear?
So I called Holy Spirit in Atlanta (not to be confused with the Holy Spirit who, far as I know, doesn't have a 1-800 number), got the wedding planner on the phone and in a matter of minutes had left a sweet message for Deacon Bill. Who called me right back. And agreed to meet the next day. At 11am. Eek!
I'm not catholic (nor have I ever been a nun, see post below), so I wasn't sure what I was in for. Would they ask if we were living together? Sleeping together? Secretly killing kittens on the weekend for fun? None of which, by the way, are true. Funny how churches get the guilt going even when there's no guilt to be had!
We met Deacon Bill (I in my polo dress, B sans baseball cap) and he asked us the usual questions about how we met, how long we'd been dating. Then he split us up. SPLIT US UP. Again, my mind began racing. What would B lie about? What do I need to lie about? What if I lie and he doesn't and Deacon Bill turns us in for the kitten killings? Forget the fact that I had nothing to lie about, just waiting in that big church lobby propelled me right back to the grade school Principal's office (ok, I never got sent there either).
So what did he ask? Two questions: How do you plan to manage money? How will you divide the housework? Do you know that "housework" is listed as the most common cause (at least to Deacon Bill's parish) for divorce? I guess it leads to other things... feelings of under-appreciation, etc. Seriously though, if it was really that easy, couldn't we save a lot of marriages by hiring Merry Maids?
I don't mean to belittle our session (pleeeeease still marry us, Deacon Bill). It was just a little more eye-opening than I expected.
So we left with our homework. They're very interested in our not having been married before, so we have to prove that a couple ways, plus swear that we don't have a prenup. I'll leave you with the dialogue B and I had en route to the church that morning.
"I know what I'm going to say. I'll tell him I stayed up all night on my prayer mat bowing toward mecca."
"Baby, that's Islam."
"..that I kissed my first husband and my sister-wives goodbye before leaving the compound?"
"Baby, that's the Mormons."
"Well I definitely rubbed some guy's belly."
"Can I at least ask him if our second reading can be from the prenup?"

...I realize that B loves me very much. He must. For the record, we're both Christians. Some of us just like to push the buttons of others. Frequently.

Wedding Planning Moment of the Day

Me: Ok sweetie, let's talk about something that's just fun.  Have you thought about how you'd like to leave the reception?
B: Well... car would be nice.  Or we could have a cheesy limo out front and people would think we were going to leave in that, when out of nowhere a Monster Truck could barrel over the limo and pick us up and drive off.
Me:  (dead air)

I love you, B.

McDreamy: The Boy

In honor of the upcoming start of the new season of Grey's Anatomy, a few friends and I watched McDreamy's 1989 "hit" Loverboy. Basic plot? A bleach-blond spikey-haired McDreamy needs to make $9,000 fast so that he can get back to college and see his sweetheart before she breaks up with him for good. He starts turning tricks (I kid you not) as a pizza delivery boy. Code name? Extra Anchovies. (Seriously, you can't make the 80's up.)
Aside from being hilarious in its own right, the movie was packed with high-cut bikinis, shoulder pads, and rolled socks...basically a two hour homage to Aqua Net. So start your Grey's Nights a week early and rent this gem. It's a refreshing look at how preteen boys are suppose to look shirtless: like boys, not these over-built herculean studs you see wandering around now. Then again, McDreamy could've used a little peer pressure. He styled his spiked hair by pressing it in between pages of a dictionary. Enough said.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bad Cake. Baaaad Cake.

The only anxiety dream I've had so far was the night before we met with the Priest, and that was about me trying to get my contacts in, only my contacts were gray rubber squares the size of place mats. I either need a little Ambien or a new pair of contacts. Needless to say, I'm not so much stressing.

But this blog is scary. It's "professional" cakes gone terribly wrong. We've got wedding cakes modeled after brides, freaky "push cakes" for baby showers (see image), and a slew of verbal mis-hearings that look like a 5th grade game of Telephone.

It's worth your time. Check it out. And remind me not to have anything written in icing at the wedding.

My Worst Nightmare

If hell had an alarm clock, this is what it would look like. The product description says: When the alarm goes off, the pieces go flying! Quickly assemble the puzzle by matching the colors and shapes to turn the alarm off.

Do not expect to see this on any registry bearing my name.

Wedding Planning Moment of the Day

Actual question from our meeting with the Priest:

"Ashley, have you ever been a nun?"

"Flying, or otherwise?"

B says I'm no longer allowed to speak to the Priest.

Keep That Secret

"Your bridesmaids dresses are just lovely! Wherever did you find them?"
"Thanks Auntie! They're from Victoria's Secret. Sexy, right?"

This is a conversation I do not want to have at my wedding, or anytime thereafter. I'll admit that I would definitely love to have received a sexy little black dress during some point in my bridesmaid service, but I'm not sure I want my ladies flashing their goodies to God, my grandma, and all other church witnesses. It just feels like a bad idea.
I haven't chosen bridesmaid dresses (or, um, bridesmaids, for that matter), but I'm betting that, when I do, they won't come on a page with a product description that says "Encourages lingering goodbyes," even if they are on sale for $85.
You should check on a new trend that I've seen in a few places and has now found a home on Victoria's Secret's website: the 7-in-1 bridesmaid dress. You get one mid-calf dress made from the luxurious fabric of imported polyester/spandex matte jersey in either Sour Cherry, Paradise Pink, Ultra Teal, or Black. (What, no "Luscious Black"?) The dress fits right underneath the bust line with a flowing skirt. From the bust up, it has two large swaths of fabric that be can arranged/worn/draped as either a tube top dress, a halter, cross back (where it, shockingly, crosses in the back), one-shoulder, tie-waist (topless? Ah, no it's over the shoulder and then tied around the waist, so it looks drape-sleeved. Ironically, the most modest version), back-braided (racer-back), or twist-around (square-necked cap sleeve version).
I have enough trouble getting into a regular bridesmaid dress, what with the special "underpinnings," interior hooks, zipper, shawl, sash, and bow. Now I have to figure out how to tie my drapy fabric to look like everyone else's? And I have to tell everyone it's "Sour Cherry Red?" What if I'm a bitter bridesmaid? Or maybe that's the ironic part.
Either way, I've learned my lesson. Bridesmaid dresses are a tough market. You're fitting various levels of modesty, body types, and personality styles. I like Ann Taylor's take on the fashion, but at around $198 for the ones I like (or up to $228 for the ones that are also nice. Oh wait, $328. Eek!), that might be a little pricey. Afterall, if I'm going to ask my friends to help dress me, they may as well be happy with how they've already dressed themselves.

Friday, August 15, 2008

2008 Worst Writing Award

Every year, would-be writers submit the first line from their non-existent novels to the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest to see who will claim the title as the year's Worst Writing.
I love it--the contest is named for Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, who began one of his novels with the infamous (and useless) line "It was a dark and stormy night." Ironically, it's likely the most memorable opening line. How many writers (good or bad) can say they've been spoofed or referenced by Charlie Brown?

Anyway, the 2008 winner has been announced and it is a doozey. The winner, a 41-year-old communications director, won by likening a deep love to the streets of New York...

"Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped 'Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.'"

My hat's off to you, Garrison Spik. Congrats on your win!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Disney Does Bridal?

The world is ending. Disney has realized that their most captive audience (obviously pre-Pixar) is growing up, but isn't quite old enough to start re-purchasing all those classics for their own babies just yet. So instead, they've introduced a "be your own princess" line of Bridal dresses fit for, well, a queen?
Take a peek and tell me if you don't think it's odd that a) Jasmine's name is the only princess that's qualified with "Disney's Princess Jasmine" title, like we might forget her, b) that Snow White's bridesmaids line looks just like the poison apple (very cheery for my big day, thanks), and c) that the dresses that are gorgeous are on the rotating tout and no where in the bridal line. What gives, Disney?

I do love a few key things about it.

1) If I were a flower girl, I'd KILL to wear those swingy, puffy dresses. Seriously, you could have all my pogs, or whatever they were.

2) I love that, with each platinum gown (??) sold, the designer donates $125 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The cynic in my wonders how much they cost. The realist acknowledges they aren't sold in Alabama. Hm... but they are in Georgia. B will be thrilled.

The Legend of Harvey Hundo

In May of 2007, I visited B in High Dessert, California where he was playing minor league ball with the Mariners. It was a great trip packed with free t-shirts, a classy Red Roof Inn, and all the hot dogs, nachos, and cotton candy I could eat at the ballpark. Just before departing for the Sunshine State, we realized that B had an off-day while I was there. A miracle! We quickly planned a trip across the Southern California dessert to Las Vegas for two nights of gambling, wandering, and just plain fun.
Neither of us had been before, and I think we expected a little more, well, cheese. Instead, we LOVED it. Loved it! We trekked to every hotel, checked out all the pools, gambled by the canals of Venice, and ate food, food, and more food on the streets of New York, New York.

The most amazing this is, we won. I mean, really won. And be "we," I mean B, because every time I sat down, I lost my $20 in about two minutes, so the dealers would wink at B and split his wins (which came early and often) with me. Roulette, blackjack, valet... he won everything!

We finished up the night around 3 a.m. at the Craps table with a bachelor party that was clearly having a good time. When they found out I'd never played, they insisted on having me go for at least one round. I believe their actual words used to sway me were "VIRGIN ROLLER!" screamed at the top of their lungs through the casino. No one even looked twice.

In craps, you roll until you Crap out, or something like that, so I just kept rolling and kept winning, for B and for most of the guys at the table. Every time I won for them, they'd tip B. I know deep down I should've been offended by the whole tipping, exchange, "virgin roller" thing, but it was just too much fun. I loved every second.

B and I walked away with enough money to take care of the rest of our meals, a little more gambling, and even a trip through the wax museum at the Venetian. We had $200 left, so we each took a Franklin and went about our merry way home.

I have no idea what B did with his, though I imagine it had something to do with eating, orders, or his Eastbay obsession. I, naturally, put mine in my wallet and basically forgot all about it. I tend to hoard things, and I'm disorganized, which is a deadly combination.

This summer, we decided we'd spend it on ourselves doing something fun to celebrate us. A few weeks ago, pre engagement, I suggested we treat ourselves to a night at the most upscale restaurant in town: Highlands. Little did I know we'd have so much to toast to that night!

We arrived at the restaurant last night, Harvey Hundo in tow, and treated ourselves to cocktails, wine, appetizers, dinners, and desserts, emphasis on the "s"s. When it came time to pay the check, our waitress told us that the bill had been taken care of. Turns out, several of B's coworkers were in the restaurant that night, saw us and knew we were celebrating, and decided to basically make our night extra special.

So now we still have Harvey Hundo and have decided to do something good with him for someone else. Kind of a "pay it forward", because after last night, we certainly don't need another meal, and I can only hope that we'd be able to pass that kind of happy feeling on to someone else that we love. I'll keep you posted...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wedding Planning Moment of the Day

I just returned my (unread) copy of Walter Cronkite: A Reporter's Life to the library in exchange for the May/June issue of BRIDES Magazine.

The journalist inside me cringes as the bride-to-be does the cha-cha.

I Heart My Friends

So I had a few minutes last night at the gym (after being AWOL for about two weeks) to think about how blessed my life is because of my friends and, since I was on the treadmill for an hour, that thought spiraled into how freakin cool all my friends are. My closest Birmingham friends are all female, and all about my age. In the past three months, they've (individually) bought a house, moved into a house, rented a big-girl apartment in a very cool district, and finished a Master's thesis. I think I have smart friends.
As much time as I spend with these friends (cocktails once a week, gchats far more often), I'm sure (and hopeful!) that their fabulousness will rub off on me. Just feeling lucky today, that's all. And don't even get me started on my college friends. I'd be here all day!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

1 Fiance and a Truck

This weekend, B and I flew to Durham to get him moved back into his law school digs to start is 2L year. He's living in the same apartment complex as last year, but he's "upgraded" to a 1 bedroom, 1 office. Top things I'm excited about? Double sinks, extra closet space, and ground-level pool access. Sign me up to work from home!
We met his parents there (and a few very nice movers) and really enjoyed a weekend of arranging furniture, hanging curtains, and picking out pillows (nothing like a good Aisle 5 test in Target).

While in Durham, we got to visit my favorite sister, K, her husband, and their two little girls. They hosted us for an amazing dinner of beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, salad, wine, and Champagne, to celebrate. But the best part of all was something that I didn't get a picture of.

My niece E, age two, is picking up fun phrases left and right, including some gems like "E IS AWAKE!" and "Daddy's at work. He playin golf." They worked with her all week and, while we were there, she went up to B and said "B is family." So K got a "big cookie" as E calls it and had the bakery write "B Is Family!" in red and yellow icing. Best feeling yet.

That little girl just loves B. She's only recently started saying his name. Up until this point, it was always and open-armed shout as she ran or pointed excitedly. He's fun because he can pick her up, throw her around, and (with a little instruction) put her hair bow back in place.

I'm so excited they live in Durham, so he has a warm place to go where he will be smothered with hugs and kisses every time he shows up. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it!

So the countdown is on. B leaves on Friday, or maybe Saturday, to head back to school and start classes, journal work, and next summer's interviews. Where did the time go?

Wedding Planning Moment of the Day

B and I have been engaged one week and two days. So far, thanks to our (amazing!) mothers, we have:

3 rehearsal dinner sites

2 churches

1 reception site

2 bands

1 florist

1 coordinator

1 photographer

3 videographers (with 2-3 cameras each)

3 blocks of rooms at hotels

Think they're excited? Granted, most of these are "penciled in" so that we've got time to narrow and decide in the next month, but it still got me tickled. How great and amazing is it that our parents are so excited that they're both gunning to get planning? We're so lucky and blessed. It could easily be a different situation...

"Mom, I'm engaged!"

(2 weeks pass)

"Mom, shouldn't we check on churches or reception sites?"

"Yeah, hon, we'll, uh, get around to it. Soon."

No feed dragging in either camp, which is the best "we're happy for you!" of all.

Incredible, Edible Us

B and I got our first engagement present this weekend. Ok, that's not true. Really, B's parents got their first present, but I loved it so much that I begged to take it home and set it up in my apartment. It's a cookie bouquet from a family friend of theirs featuring me as the "Southern Bride," B as the groom in white tails and a top hat, his mom and dad in formal wear, a ring with our engagement on it, two doves with "Love" written on them, and his two brothers sporting college colors and baseball caps...all in sugar cookie wonderfulness.
These family friends have sent bouquets before, but this is the first time I've ever been included in the family and I'm super excited (see hands sneaking into picture).

The real debate is about eating it. I know the cookies are good, but I want to look at them forever! But I also know that B's leaving on Friday, so we want to celebrate all we can before that, and that there's no way he'll let me move that basket out of my apartment. May as well indulge now, right? We'll see. At least I've got a great picture (thanks, B!).
PS. When it rains, it pours (in a great way... see Malachi 3:10). We got another gift yesterday morning. B's coworkers had us over for dinner and we raved about the cookbook they used so much that they sent us one as an engagement present! The book it Frank Stitt's Southern Table. It's extra special to us because it's a Birmingham-based restaurant with local dishes. I know it'll be wonderful to have for years to come! And no, this is not the official thank you note for either.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Written in the Stars

B had an "astrological conversation" with some coworkers and decided to prove, once and for all, that Capricorns and Virgo are an excellent match and was surprised to find "proof" online. It appears, according to B, that scientists have "proven what we know all along."

I think B is hilarious. Who has "astrological conversations" at work? I wonder if these were "billable hours."
Virgo and Capricorn:

Both share an amazing ability to communicate and understand one another. Their conversations get better over time and so does the relationship. They will understand each other's goals and hopes for the future. These two will support each other through good times and bad. They will provide each other with what the other person instinctively needs and desires. Romantic compatibility will be explosive. You can't go wrong with this astrological combination, period. Strong feelings and loyalty will keep these two together. The prognosis for a long-term involvement is excellent.

Happy Birthday, Lilybug!

Today is Lily's second birthday. Two years ago today, I was racing home to meet dear, sweet Lily in the hospital. Granted, I wasn't racing home to meet her. I knew she'd be there 20 minutes later. The lady at the DMV that needed to renew my license, however, might not be. So I raced home and went straight to the DMV, then to the hospital to meet this little cutie. It always amazes me how babies grow up and just become more and more themselves. You saw this grin in her eye from Day 1, even though we didn't actually get a glimpse of it until a few weeks later.
Favorite Lilyisms include:

"I waaaant it."

"I neeeeed it."

"GO GO GO!" (when Daddy's games are on)


"I gonna pinch."

Happy Birthday, Lilybug!

"The Day You Changed My Life"

After a week of sporting some new jewelry, a markedly higher vocal register, and a seriously contagious smile, I think I'm finally ready to write down the story of the engagement. Thing is, I feel like it's mine, but I also want to make sure I "have" it forever, so I need to put it up here. Another part of me believes it didn't happen. It couldn't have! Did this great guy really propose? To me? And I get to have him forever? (Ok, I'll stop.)

A few weeks ago, B mentioned going up to Vulcan. "We've never been," he said. "It could be fun." Super low-key. Obviously he knows me. I go into uber planning mode. "Perfect!" I said. "We'll pack a picnic dinner and maybe get some wine?" Little did I know.

The first weekend of August was a pretty perfect weekend. B helped me (and a few girlfriends) throw our friend J a birthday party at the apartment (see Barbie cake), and then Saturday was just a low-key day. We planned to do a lot outside, but it was 142 degrees, so we limited it to a quick hour at the driving range. As we were finishing, a guy yelled (seriously, yelled. In 24 back swings.) "My hat's off to you man. I buy my wife the clothes, the shoes, the clubs, everything and she still won't even come to the range with me." Sometimes it's not worth correcting strangers, so I let the "wife" comment go, but got a few warm fuzzies knowing that lots of the guys out there were envious of B just because we shared something we both enjoyed.

Sunday was great, so great in fact that B kept calling it "a perfect day," though I may have started that. We went to Mass, then grabbed lunch and avoided the heat by watching law and order for a little while that afternoon. A coworker of B's called, asking him (again) to play golf. B had to turn down this guy's last two offers because we were legitimately out of town or busy, so he said he couldn't play a whole round, but could hit a few at the range, if it was ok with me.

Camera left: see me sitting on my couch in PJs with a people magazine, a glass of apple juice, and the remote (not that I'm going to click away from an SVU marathon). I told him I'd be more than fine hanging out in the cool AC and that he should go.

So he went. Leaving his bag of clothes for that night in my room. For two hours. All by itself. Granted, I'm not a snooper, so I didn't look, but what if I had? Eek!

I start making our dinner (antipasto sandwiches from when he gets home around 7, so we throw our sandwich, chips, black bean and corn salsa, wine, camera, and blanket into a picnic basket (along with a few cupcakes for good measure) and head out at 7:30.

We park at Vulcan and start walking in. "You need to buy tickets!" said the security guard. To a park? A public park? I balked, but B pressed on, happy to pay the fee, which turned out to be something like $3.30 a piece, including tax.

We found a table around back of Vulcan that overlooked all of downtown Birmingham and set up shop, opening the wine and toasting a great and long-awaited summer together. We ate, well, everything in the basket except the cupcakes, then went on a little walk around the park, looking at the cool features, then returned to devour the cupcakes and finish the wine.

B's been a cool cat up to this point, though now he says he doesn't really remember anything before the big question. He suggested we go up in Vulcan to the overlook, which was a great idea, because we could look out over where he worked, where I worked, a few places we've had parties, and generally all the lights of downtown.

I'm a little afraid of heights, but I'm doing ok thanks to the four ft high railings, though the perforated flooring was causing a little trouble. I noticed B getting antsy. "There are so many people up here!" he kept saying, despite the fact there were literally four of us, two of whom were on a second date at best and were just talking shop about space flight. We hung around until about 9:30, knowing the park closed at 10, when B suggested we go back down to the ground level.

We went down, grabbed the picnic basket and then walked around to the park side of Vulcan and sat on the lawn looking at the stars. B later told me he panicked when I sat down too. Wasn't I suppose to be standing? We began talking about Christmas and how we'd have to come back here and see if they decorated the trees that line the walk. For some reason, I decided to run over and see if it was a Christmas tree (they looked like them!), and turned around holding a big chunk I'd torn from the branch for B to feel.

When I turned back around, he was on both knees. Undeterred (what is wrong with me?) I ask him if he thinks it's a fir tree, which he quickly confirms and tosses my random clipping aside. "I need to ask you something," he said, shifting so that he's now on one knee. A black velvety box appears from behind his back and he opens it. "Will you marry me?" We're not crying people, we're more huggers, so I instantly sit on that one knee and do my best to deprive B of air with a huge hug, saying (as best I can recall) "yes yes yes" over and over again for at least 2 minutes. After I let him get some air and put the gorgeous ring on my finger (perfect fit!).

Then I went back to covering him with kisses until he somehow untangled himself enough to tell me that there were a lot of things he wanted to say, but in the end, the question was what mattered most and that he picked Vulcan knowing we'd be apart for the next year, so he wanted me to have a place I could "see anywhere in the city, look up and remember the night you changed my life."

We ran down to the ticket booth (now closed) and I banged on the Plexiglas windows until the 70+ volunteer looked up from her money counting, a bit startled. I pointed at my ring, then made the international sign for camera, and yelled "WE JUST GOT ENGAGED!"

Jan, as her named turned out to be, came outside and gave me a big hug and took several pictures before telling us how lucky we were. Apparently, B and I are now "Spear" members at Vulcan, meaning we can go anytime free of charge, with one guest each. Best $6.60 we ever spent! I tried to convince B to propose to me all over town so I could get free things. Zoo admission, Ann Taylor outfits, appetizers at Hot and Hot, but no dice. I think he's glad he asked, but thankful he only has to ask once.

Love you B!

Barbie Cake Goes Corporate

Posted a polished look at my Barbie cake experience on my work blog. Check it out. It's like you've had a backstage pass (what with my &$%* swearing on here) to the experience, and can now see how I'm convincing bakers of the world to unite in Barbie creations. :) Maybe not... but still. Work blog!

Wedding Planning Moment of the Day

B and I were hanging out in Durham's airport, awaiting our flight back to Birmingham, when I made a little list of things I wanted to do with him during his last week in town. We've already covered all the places we want to eat (Highlands, baby!), but this was in the wedding-planning genre. I mentioned that I didn't need his guest list for awhile, but I'd be happy to help him go through his "circles" when he was ready, which I how we ended up calling out names for the better part of an hour in the RDU terminal, gate C-15.

Most of his list was perfect--he even spelled people's names as he went (love you B!). But a few got me really tickled...

A few names I have so far:

2 Coaches to be Named

Mr. Barry (Bible Teacher)

Pitcher from WV

Shortstop from Stanford

Hebrew Hammer

I relish the day I ask my mother to write "Hebrew Hammer" on an inner envelope.

Wedding Planning Moment of the Day

With one week of engaged life under my belt, I can safely say that the things that crop up around this wedding planning/marriage prep stuff are wonderful, intense, and, often, hilarious. I decided I'd keep a running commentary of funny questions I get, advice I encounter, or just general conversations that make me smile.
Oh yeah, and that "of the day" thing above? Should me more of a "whenever I feel like posting it." Don't be alarmed if you see more in one day. It doesn't mean I'm in uber-planning mode, just that I've remembered some gems.

Three days after we got engaged, my mother had already tackled a large heap of planning (to be covered in another post). But I wasn't expecting this question quite so early in the timeline:

does B's apartment have W & D hookups. What will you do with yours if not. Mom

Love it! Beneath vows, pre-marital Catholic classes, and cake tasting, I will add this to my list. :)
PS--Mom, I love you. If it weren't for you, I'd have nothing done.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

All By My Lonesome

Last night we helped K move out of our apartment. I'd been dreading this day for a few weeks now, but I have to say that after B's big question, it's like my life suddenly took a side road turnoff. I'm going to miss her so much... late night Gilmore Girls marathons, bagged salad in a shared bowl, and lots of red wine... but these days I just feel like there's so much for me to look forward to. I get to live by myself for a while, and get used to taking care of myself without having someone else there as a sounding board all the time. That's got to be a good thing!
The move went off without a hitch. K had been packing for days, so when the time came, it took about 3 hours start to finish to load the caravan of cars (and the reward cooler of beer), drive the 5 miles across town, and unload all the boxes, drawers, and clothes into the main room of her house.

Her house, by the way, is super cute. Porch swing! Back deck! Lawn with real plants! My heart flip-flopped a little.

B was such a champ. He and C, K's boy(friend), moved all the heavy stuff and even got the mattress and box springs set up while the rest of us hustled the little boxes marked "Shoes" or "Decor" inside. (Gotta love a girl's filing system!)

I went through this morning and started cleaning out the leftover odds and ends and dumping the trash bags. K still has to come get a few things for Good Will, but mom and dad come tomorrow so I've got to get the place ready for them!

Things never slow down, do they?

By Request... The Bling

I've had lots of Facebook requests for a photo of my ring, but I just feel so weird posting it up there, especially because I'd have to make a new album for it. So it would be like "My Ring," which I may as well title "Compliment Me, Dang it!" Granted, I do LOVE my ring, which makes me want to brag about it, run around showing it off, and only pick up, move, or adjust things with my left hand. 5,000 times a day.
So I thought it'd be a little more private to post it here, in my own little world, where I can be giddy and happy about how pretty it is and how much it means to me.

B picked it out himself (go B!) and, it's crazy, but I think my favorite part is the little side diamonds. Not the ones on the band, but the ones on either side of the stone that really only I can see (when I look down at my hand from above) and he can see (when he kisses my hand, which he often does). He had the ring created based on another ring, but then added these two little guys so I'd have something special to look at. It's amazing how much I appreciate how he thinks of the little things. He could've put a smiley face there and it'd make me grin just the same. Just so long as it sparkled. :)

So here's the best present I've ever gotten and the biggest promise I've ever made, so far, all wrapped up in a neat package that sits on my left hand.

Question for you... I keep finding my ring on my right hand (twice now), which I think means I play with it a lot (and have only ever worn rings on my right hand until now). How long until it feels normal? Currently my showers are averaging about 30 minutes because I'm afraid to open my fingers, so it's like washing with one fork (right hand) and one spoon (left hand). Ah, engaged life.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Poem from My First Husband

Before I start getting crazy questions, let me explain. In 10th grade Bible class, we had to pair up with a "husband" and basically do marriage-prep. I honestly can't remember what that entailed, but I do know who my husband was: Jeffrey Pannell. He was (and is!) a sweet, amazing guy that turned out to be one of my best friends from high school. And here are his fabulous words about our upcoming divorce:

Ashley Johnson, my first love
Sent to me from Heaven above
We married in ye ole' high school days
I was hooked in that first gaze

We were so happy, we were so free
Together forever, I thought we'd be
But I knew I was in trouble when she saw other men
All those lunches in the cafeteria were all for pretend

We sat by each other in chapel
I knew she was looking around"
Ha," she would think
"I don't want to be with this clown"

She left me, deserted me for those other guys
Two "Deans" and a track star caught her eyes
Then in college, she met the man for her life
I knew I was in trouble of losing my first wife

So now I hear she's getting married
Can't wait for the day
Guess I'll sign those divorce papers
Right away

Truth is I can't be more happy for her
I know that she's excited
I guess I may even go to the wedding
That is, if I'm invited

My Favorite

The Night.

I'm Engaged!

I have 1,001 things to write but the problem is that I'm feeling each and every one at once, so it's making it really hard. So, while I process, I'll just leave this photo of B and myself at Vulcan park, right after we got engaged. Engaged! Story to follow... And please don't tell my mother that you can see my green panties in this picture. Seriously. I'm a mess. And she'd kill me.

PS--This is one of my favorite blogs, and can you believe that today she updated her retrospective love story with her thoughts about planning a wedding? So timely!

I Hate Crocs

I have 2,000 more important things that I need to post on here, but I can't resist posting this hilarious croc-hating rant from Newsweek first. Here's a snippet:
I've been following the good work of Web sites like I Hate Crocs Dot Com for some time, even going so far as to submit a photograph of a stuffed skunk spraying a pair of pink Crocs. The fantastic Best Page In The Universe posted a hilarious rant a while back joking that people who bought Crocs on also bought frozen corn dogs, Pabst Blue Ribbon Light and trucker balls, as well as the CD single "Hey There, Delilah" by the Plain White T's. The rant's author, Maddox, writes: "People who wear Crocs go on and on about how comfortable they are, and how it's supposedly odor resistant because it's made out of some kind of anti-bacterial foam … You know what else it's resistant to? You getting laid."

Friday, August 1, 2008

Barbie Cake Day 2: Icing

Decorating commenced last night after work, starting with the making of a double batch of Swiss Buttercream, which I'd been told was easier to work with and didn't crust like traditional buttercream does. The ingredients are simple: 1 cup sugar, 4 egg whites, 3 sticks of butter (plus 2 Tablespoons), and a teaspoon of vanilla. Surprise! It tastes like butter.
To be fair, I hate icing, so I'm the last person you want when judging the quality of the sweet stuff. I prefer, if forced to select one, that really fluffy whipped icing that really isn't icing at all, but more like cool whip. Anything that starts tasting sweet is a huge sweets turn-off for me. Good thing I was in charge of sweets for the party. (Planning Tip: Pick something you won't be tempted to nibble on!)
So I got my buttery basin of icing and then began dying it pink, because white barbie is wedding barbie and nobody wants that. First she was Tums pink. Then cotton candy. Then Pepto Bismal. Then Bubble Yum. I finally stopped somewhere between Bubble Yum and Laffy Taffy, and started decorating.
Now, I have zero decorating tools that I need. No icing spatula or piping bags. I have a regular rubbery scraper and Ziploc bags with one corner snipped off. (Planning Tip: Spring for the icing spatula and pipings bags.) So first I put white icing between the layers (3 layers total), then covered the entire mound with pink icing. Next, I added barbie, who remained naked for the next hour or so, I'm not ashamed to tell you, as I worked on the details. I'm actually pretty ok with the finished product, though I'd love to get better at working with icing. Maybe I'll take a class. The only thing I know for sure is that my (nonexistent) daughter will be staying far, far away from anything from the offices of Matel, at least in her desserts. And that I may never get the pink stains out of my cuticles...