Saturday, February 28, 2009


We've passed B's football number (77) and are heading toward his baseball number (37) as fast as we can get there. Today marks 70 days until the wedding, which is huge when I think that we started in the 200s!
This week has been great, planning-wise. I've ordered (and received!) shoes for the wedding, sent off our information for the engagement announcement, booked my first fitting, met with the florist, caterer, and hair people, met with some of the people for the rehearsal dinner, and made an appointment with the priest to go over the ceremony. Ok, B did that last one, but it counts to the overall "done" list, which I love!
What does the next week hold? The engagement announcement hits the paper, the invitations go out, and get started on the rehearsal dinner guest list (our side, anyway). Mom and Dad are out of town for the week, so it's somewhat of a catch-up week for me. Catch-up, bills, and taxes. Oh yes, it is a wild and crazy weekend.
70 days. Come on, May!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Wedding Planning Moment of the Day

I am very happy to say that this was definitely NOT B, who was actually super helpful in picking out our invitations. In fact, he picked the ones we're sending all on his own and I completely agree that they're beautiful and perfect.

However, that doesn't stop this ecard from being funny. Two of my coworkers are also getting married in May (we're considering just grinding the presses to a halt for a month or so), so we're sharing all the wedding-related funnies we get.

B, thanks for helping with the little things, including paper picking...

Orange is My Favorite Color least for today. In honor of our six (SIX!) year anniversary on Sunday, B sent orange roses to my office, meaning he knows me well enough to know that half the fun of getting flowers delivered is having them to brighten your desk for a little while before taking them home. Currently they're just hanging out, brightening my rainy-Friday spirit and making the whole office smell like a flower shop. Makes me think of the wedding...

B's a champ when it comes to flowers. While he regularly goes with roses (or tulips or a mixed bouquet, when the occasion calls for it), he always keeps me guessing color-wise. I've had everything from classic red to red-and-white hybrids to yellow to last year's lime green (seriously!) to this year's orange. It's fun and makes me happy to think of him sitting there pondering the color options. I'm sure these are actually called "Sunset" or something like that, but orange works for me.

So thank you, B, for once again brightening my day with the prettiest flowers and the sweetest note to celebrate our "last anniversary." I can't wait to marry you either.

Wedding Planning Moment of the Day

The number of hotel rooms reserved for our wedding weekend has jumped from 17 to 42 in the past week, and the invitations haven't even gone out yet. How exciting is that? I think it's hilarious that I'm so excited about making the gift bags that I don't see it as "42 rooms with guests" but rather "42 rooms that get gift bags." This wedding stuff might be a disease.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Freaky (Almost) Friday

Part of my job is planning calendar lineups, including what's running on the homepage and when, which means I'm pretty familiar with random dates and obscure holidays, but am also pretty good at telling you what day of the week the 5th lands on during any given month.

This afternoon, I just noticed that 2009 has three Friday the 13ths in it: February, March, and November. Doesn't that seem odd? Either 2009 has a little curse hanging over it (a priest-shaped one, perhaps?), or this Friday the 13th thing is more common than I remember it being. Either way, be careful out there!

Things I Could Never Give Up For Lent

1. Salt

2. Cell phone

3. Orange juice in the mornings

4. Law & Order... well, maybe

5. Grapes

6. Magazines

7. This blog

8. Email... my Mom, among others, might kill me!

9. Conditioner... both the rinse-out and leave-in kinds

10. The rubber band I wear around my wrist. I only pray I remember to take it off before the wedding, and also to put it back on before I leave for the honeymoon.

11. Skype... sometimes I just need to see B!

Lent(en) Ponderings

I'm hesitant to write about Lent, mainly due to a nasty run-in I had with a lady with the AOL handle "Buttercup" after the publication of a column in my college newspaper, but I'm getting over it and writing anyway.

Lent, according to my college column (nothing like citing yourself!), is "a forty-day period, not counting Sundays, beginning today and culminating with the celebration of Easter, a commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ. Traditionally, Lent's purpose rests in soul searching and reflection. At its earliest, Lent allowed the Christians to prepare for Easter, rededicating themselves and remembering Jesus' withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days."

In my house, we never really observed Lent, though Mom, to this day, always gives up candy, which is particularly hard on my Dad the years that Lent overlaps with Valentine's Day, and therefore his standard generously-sized heart-shaped box of chocolates. Even if Mom was already on her candy fast, she still got them. Dad and I just helped her a little more than the other years.

Lent seemed to be a bigger thing in college, so I got on board and tried to think of what to give up. One year, I gave up instant messaging (which was HUGE because that was before the dawn of cell phones), another year I gave up needless worrying. Intangible, yes, but it gave my entire spring a Scarlett-like quality of "I'll worry about that later."

In the past year, I've become more aware of what I eat, mostly because now that I live alone, I buy everything and eat everything. There's no more "sharing" with roommates where I can pretend that it wasn't me that ate the entire bag of gingersnaps in three days. But because of that, I've learned that if I try to eliminate something from my diet or shopping list, even if it's something I'm not particularly prone to crave, I will instantly feel a maddening obsession with the item, digging it out from the recesses of my pantry, sneaking it from my common workspace kitchen, and visiting the communal candy bowl far more often than on a usual day. In that case, it was chocolate. Maybe I should try giving up calcium instead.

So in light of maintaining the true spirit of Lent and focusing not on self but on Christ's sacrifice, I've decided not to cut something out of my diet or life, but to add something in. This year, I'll be sending letters, one each day, to friends and family, and also spending a little time in prayer for that person on their assigned day. I guess, technically, what I'm giving up is spare time, as it will take some to make this happen, but really it just feels like a nice excuse to tell the people I love that I love them and to hopefully make their days a little lighter through a little prayer.

Not everyone does Lent, and not everyone that does Lent does it for religious reasons. I'm fine with however anyone does Lent-- to each his own. But if you are giving up/taking on/exploring something for Lent, let me know. I'm always curious, and I promise not to tell Buttercup.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


The gods have smiled and my Zappos order has been processed. Five pairs of lovely white/ivory satin shoes are en route to my house... starting tomorrow at 1pm. Feeling very luxurious after ordering so many shoes, but much better knowing that all but one pair will go right back!

PS-- This calendar image is super appropriate. Check out the month!

Wedding Planning Moment of the Day

After casually browsing for a few weeks on Zappos for wedding shoes (hello free shipping both ways!) and selecting the same shoes every time, I finally decided to pull the trigger and place the order. I'm order five different shoes that I can take to the fitting and see which heel height goes best and necessitates the fewest alterations. Yes please!

So I put all the lovelies in my shopping cart and proceed to check out, only Zappos does not let me pass go or give them $200+. Error on the site! I think this is God's way of telling me to go to DSW.

Wedding Planning Moment of the Day

File this one under "Ha!"

David's Bridal sent me an email this morning with the subject, "Three Months to Go!"

First of all, they have my wedding date, so they should know that we're actually at 2.5 months, so the extra two weeks they're throwing in there is kind of a tease. But then, check out what the email said:

Schedule your first least 3-6 months prior to your wedding or portrait date.

Whaaa? First of all, I don't have three months. (And I actually already have my first fitting scheduled, but that's beside the point.) Second, why would you send me an email, knowing it's only three months to my wedding, and mention anything that I should've done three months prior? Seems like bad business. Didn't anyone ever tell them that brides-to-be are touchy?

Tsk tsk, David's Bridal. Tsk tsk.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wedding Planning Moment of the Day

B: I called and talked to the priest to set up our time to meet over spring break.

Me: Great! What did he say?

B: He said that sounded good, but he's in constant flux, so he'd have to get back to us and make sure that date still worked closer to the time and reminded me that he's an old man and could easily become incapacitated, so we should have a back-up plan.

Me: (Silence). Seriously?

B: Seriously.

Me: So he basically told you he could die?

B: It sounded like it.

Me: Seriously?

B: Yeah, seriously.

Roses & Thorns: Cleaning Edition

Me: B! Good news! I killed a bug! By myself! Aren't you proud of me?

B: I am proud of you, baby. What happened?

Me: I was cleaning and this bug was sitting on my first aid kit under the sink, so I went and got a shoe to kill it, but it ran toward the cleaning bottles, so instead of using the shoe, I had to just smush it with a thing of drain cleaner.

B: Oh, (pause) well that's still great.

Me: Except I don't know if the bottom of the cleaner bottle is flat, so there may be a groove where it's still alive and living, but the bottle's really heavy, so I figure that when you visit in March, you can check.

B: You want me to check in March and see if the bug is trapped under there or actually dead.

Me: Yes, and get rid of it.

B: But it could just crawl out.

Me: No, the bottle's really heavy and there's no space for it to get out. So it might just starve, which I'm totally ok with.

B: So really you don't know if you killed a bug at all.

Me: No, not really. And I need a new bottle of drain cleaner.

Losing My Mind

Hitting the "less than 3 months" mark has done a number on my poor mind. I've gotten a form of mommy brain, as it's known, only without having produced a kid. It started mildly with a few forgotten notes in my calendar, which I caught before they caused any trouble, but then progressed last night to full-blown crazy.

My dear friend M and I decided to have dinner together last night. She emailed a few weeks ago, then we touched base again to invite another good friend, reconfirming the time and everything.

So last night, I arrive at PF Chang's and notice that, despite being 10 minutes late, I'm the first one there. This isn't a normal thing for M-- she's a punctual Patty for sure. But it was 5:30 and the restaurant is just off one of the busiest roads in town. I grab a table and order a glass of wine. A few minutes, my phone rings.

M: Hi!
Me: Hi!
(Pause. Both of us too polite to say what we're thinking, which is "Where the hell are you?")
M: Um, am I at the right California Pizza Kitchen?
Me: CPK? I thought we were meeting at PF Chang's?
M: No, I think we said CPK.
Me: Well I think Shelley thinks it's PF Chang's, too.
M: No, Shelley's right here with me.

So I grab the waitress and cancel the wine, then dash across the street, where CPK is (thankfully!) located, to find a table full of girls happily waiting my harried self.

When I got home, I checked my calendar. "PF Chang's, 5:30." Hm... So I went back to M's original email, which clearly said:

How about 5:30 Monday at CPK@ the Summit?

Which clenches it--I've lost my mind. With so many details floating around in my mind (flowers, food, cleaning out the apartment, mailing invitations, taxes, buying shoes, the announcement for the paper, and the rehearsal dinner guest list), the social part of my brain has been reassigned, and is now exclusively freelancing for the planning part of my brain.

I tell you this not to embarrass myself totally, but to warn you. If we make plans, and I seemingly don't show, call me. I'm probably sitting in a diner across town drinking a glass of wine and happily waiting for you to show up. And I'm so happy having a moment to sit and relax, that I'll probably wait a really long time before calling you to verify where we're meeting.

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's My Sunday

...and I'll cry if I want to. Three times if I want to. Before my Mom buzzes on speed dial, let me explain. I'm a pretty solid person. I don't cry unless I'm really mad, really sick, or really tired. However, give me a good feature story, in print or on-screen, and I'm a goner. Case in point.

Cry #1 started at 9:30 am, in my bed in Florence, where I was curled up with Oprah Magazine reading a story about a couple that donated nearly 2,000 ounces of breast milk to a milk bank after losing their child after a six-month battle with illness in the hospital. The Mom had pumped the entire time her baby was too sick to eat the milk, saving it in her freezer, two spare deep freezers, and her brother's freezer (now that's family love). When her sweet baby died, she called a milk bank and said, "My baby died. I have all this milk. What do I do?" They told her to ship it and they'd cover her costs (standard procedure), but shipping that milk away felt too final for the family, so they packed up a truck and drove those deep freezers, plus extra coolers to hold the spares from the normal freezers, and drove 200 miles to deliver their special package, and say a final goodbye to their sweet baby.

See? I can cry at that! Justified. But picture me in a pile of pillows with curlers in my hair, waiting to get ready for church... ah yes, "pitiful" comes to mind.

Cry #2 happened later, back in my apartment in Birmingham, when I insanely decided to watch Taking Chance on HBO. Have you seen this movie? It's about a Marine (Kevin Bacon) taking the body of a fallen comrade home to his family. Over the course of eight days, he travels with him on planes and in trucks, even sleeping in an empty warehouse with him so he wouldn't be alone. I came close to tears several times, but the tipping point was watching him salute the Styrofoam casket as it rolled down a conveyor belt off an airplane, causing all the grounds crew and passengers to stop and pay respects. Blubber blubber blubber.

Cry #3 was not to far later. Right after Taking Chance finished, Big Love began on HBO. It seemed happier than the Law & Order Marathon on FX, so I watched the big, complicated family road trip across the country and remembered my family's days in the big blue van and, at times, an RV. Happy times, yes? Then the teenage daughter (SPOILER ALERT) miscarried in the middle of the trip, losing a baby that no one even knew she had. I have no idea who this character is, or who the baby's father was, but she cried and I cried right along with her. Then I took my puffy-faced self to bed and hoped for a better tomorrow.

The funny thing is, my tears don't really mean I'm sad. I didn't go to bed depressed or hold onto any anger or sadness. They just signify emotion. Maybe it was therapeutic? Either way, I'm upping my salt intake today for sure.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"Get the Windex, the Bride is Coming!"

It's no coincidence that today's countdown number (lucky 77!) is the same as B's football number in high school and it turned out to be an excellent day for wedding planning.  B's parents came over yesterday morning just as Mom and I were embarking on a marathon planning day.  We'd told them to come on over, as we'd both be busy and we'd just regroup for dinner.  Little did we know!

Mom and I started the day meeting with the florist who was and is a hoot.  Hilarious.  Brilliant, creative, talented, yada yada yada.. he's also just plain funny.  He got me so tickled when he was telling a story about realizing the venue hadn't cleaned the windows before the reception.  He ran into the space yelling, "GET THE WINDEX! THE BRIDE IS COMING!" Now if you don't get tickled picturing a middle aged man yelling that out to a room of staffers, then you're not awake, and certainly not welcome at the wedding.  

Apparently he's very big into windows, as he cleans the ones at his shop every morning because, as he puts it, "Do you think Neiman Marcus opens without cleaning its windows?" Touche, my floral friend.  Add him to my cake man, who was distinctly overwhelmed with purchasing his first baseball ever for B's groom's cake, and you can see the fun starting to shape in my collection of vendors alone.

After meeting with the florist for several hours (very productive hours, indeed), Mom and I worked to nail down the reception menu, starting with the martini bar and ending with the poached salmon.  I can honestly say that I can't wait.  I feel like I'm on a roller coaster at the point where you're still climbing but you're just about to cruise over the top and start flying down the other side.  Come on dress fitting!  Walking down the aisle!  Mini crab cake!

B's parents did their own running around all day, meeting with their caterer (who fed them for 3.5 hours), then the same florist.  His Mom was nervous going in, so I told her the florist could show her any of our selections or information, to which he yelled out, "But then they'll see the helicopter exit that you tacked onto their bill!"  For the record, there will be no helicopter, but it sure made me happy to hear them giggling on the way into another epic meeting.

We grabbed dinner last night at the country club where we'll have the reception and toasted a day well done, and a weekend well planned, then headed to bed before starting epic day number two.

Today, I had my hair trial and B's Mom met with the stylist that will be doing her hair, then we both hustled off to meet one of their rehearsal dinner vendors.  I have to say, having a Steel Magnolias moment with both your Mom and your soon-to-be Mother-in-law in the local salon is pretty classic.  The three of us reading OK! and US magazines while I'm under a dryer and B's Mom has her wedding "set" in... it's a pretty great memory.

After meeting with their vendors, we hustled to the tux store, where we learned that not all vests come with backs (Whaa?? Isn't that the point of a vest verses a cumberbun?), several of the groomsmen's measurements didn't make numerical sense, and ring bearer tuxes, though half the size, are the same in cost when renting from a tuxedo establishment.  Oh the things you learn!

We finished their visit with a trip to the local catfish restaurant, where we loaded them down with deep-fried fish, fries, hushpuppies, and cole slaw (the only thing not brown on the whole table, especially when you factor in the super-sweet tea).  Full and content, they ran two more errands before heading home.  At least I think they're heading home.  For all I know, they're back at the catfish place for seconds and might just show up on the doorstep for a place to sleep tonight.  

We'd love to have them back.  And we might even give BBQ a try tomorrow.  I know a great place in the back of a gas station...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Waist Not

I'm curious.  How can jeans claim to fit a certain inch waist when, in reality, they come a full eight inches shy of that natural waist line?  Do they use reflection to figure out where the pants would hit if they came anywhere close to the waist?  Who would've thought that jean designers (or at least the people that make the labels) would need their high school geometry?  Seems like they should just have hip measurements instead.  All jeans cover hips (so far as I know), but it's rare to see one that actual nails the waist mark.  Curious.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Here Comes the Dress

Yea! Got a call today from Ellen, my bridal consultant/guru, who told me that my dress is there, gorgeous, and waiting for me. Seriously resisting the urge to drive straight to Atlanta and try it on. I love Ellen, too, because even though I know she's done this a hundred times and is paid to do it, she sounded genuinely excited for me. Love people that love what they do!

So here I sit, a mere two hours from my dress, and just shy of a month from going for my first fitting (I'll go when in Atlanta for a shower). That gives me just enough time to get shoes, jewelry, hair... maybe we ought to make it a month and a half.

But it is here. I called Mom and she said, "We've officially got a wedding!" Yeah!

Heading to Florence after work for a weekend of planning and meeting with vendors. It's sure to be exhausting, exhilarating, and exciting, all in one. Just wish B could come, too. I miss you, B!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Big 8-0

It seems like only yesterday I was celebrating the milestone of reaching double digits in our countdown and now here we are hitting the big 8-0! So I guess that means, rather than yesterday, that was more like 20 days ago.

It's fun to think what all took place in 20 days, and what will be done in the next 20.

In the past 20 days...

I signed a new lease

Had a makeover day with the girls

Addressed my portion of the wedding invites

First (and second!) attempt at homemade biscotti

Went to Atlanta to help pick B's pictures for the wedding slideshow

Orchestrated a photoshoot at work

Flew to Durham for five fabulous days with B, plus time with my sister and her family

My niece turned 1!

Celebrated Valentine's Day by cooking Coq au Vin for the first time!

Picked out wedding jewelry

Got B measured for his tux

In the next 20 days...

My dress arrives! (Fingers crossed)

B starts his spring break

The Oscars

Bridesmaid dresses arrive

Order shoes

The engagement announcement hits the papers

B and I celebrate our six year anniversary (yes, you read that right)

Mardi Gras (take your celebrations as you can!)

Meet with florist, caterer, and hair lady during the whirl-a-wedding weekend in Florence

Book appointment with the priest and pray like crazy that he doesn't balk at the 4pm ceremony time

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cooking 101: A Dried Plum IS a Prune

B and I took to the grocery store the night before Valentine's Day in order to get the ingredients I needed to make Coq au Vin, a delicious french dish of chicken and vegetables in a yummy red wine sauce that needs to marinate overnight before browning and simmering for about 90 minutes. The recipe calls for dried herbs and fruit, so once you buy the chicken (about $7.50 for a whole bird), you're really about done.

So we have everything we need... onion, carrot, spices, chicken... when B and I realize we need "pitted dried plums," so off we headed to the dried fruit section where we found every dried fruit known to man, but no plums! Apricots, pineapple, banana, prunes, and about ten types of raisins taunted us for about 10 minutes until B had a revelation. "Wait," he said, "aren't dried plums called 'prunes'?" So we had to peek through the ingredients to figure out that, yes, he was absolutely right and that the roughly 20 people that walked by, overhearing our conversation during those 10 minutes must've thought we were crazy.

Oh well, we bought our prunes (feeling quite old, for some reason) and headed out. In the future, I'd suggest that these editors call a spade a spade, or at least a prune a prune.

My Fabulous Valentine

I had such a blast visiting B this weekend. Sure, going five weeks without seeing him was sure to bump-up the enthusiasm, but it was also just a fun weekend.

Work has been great, and they let me work from Durham on Friday, so I took off Thursday night, randomly flying with a coworker (my would-be dinner date during the Atlanta layover), which made the trip there go by so much faster. She and I hung out, sharing Wendy's in the A terminal before heading out on our respective final-destination flights.

When I got to Durham, I was sooo excited to see B. So excited, in fact, that I didn't even really mind that they'd made me gate-check my bag through to Atlanta, meaning we had to wait at baggage claim for a good 40 minutes before little red bumped its way down the conveyor belt.

We packed it in and headed home. Funny, I typed that without thinking, but B's apartment really is going to be both our home soon. Our first home. Aww. It didn't hurt that the "first home" also had a pile of chocolate, a pretty necklace, and the most beautiful pink roses I've ever seen waiting for me.

Anyway, I got up on Friday and got to work while B headed off to do a session at the tax place. I have no idea what he really does, except that he helps people who can't afford to pay do their taxes. It's fun, because I get to hear stories of him helping the single mom or the guy with three jobs. It's giving back, B style, and it makes us both happy.

He came home and brought a late-lunch picnic, which was fantastic, then we headed out for a walk to the grocery store to stock-up on ingredients for our much-anticipated Valentine's dinner in. That night, we headed to a super adorable local Italian restaurant with pretty much the best service I've ever had, and at a much more reasonable price than expected. If you're ever in the area, Tosca is a much-eat. We had a fabulous dinner, then headed home for a couch night of movies and orange sherbet (my favorite).

Saturday, Valentine's Day, was a hoot. I re-celebrated my presents (including a fabulous one-- a framed copy of Mom and Dad's Christmas letter with B and I as top billing), then we headed out to pick up my niece E for a special lunch. Saturday was also E's sister's birthday, so we thought we'd get double point by having a fun lunch with E and letting her parents get ready for the party with at least one kiddo out of the house.

We took E to the mall where we stopped first to get B measured for his tux. Hilarious. I'm pretty sure everyone thought that she was our kid, which just made it more funny. E is really smart, and was so taken by everything. Why was B only wearing one shoe? Why weren't all his shirt buttons buttoned? Why wasn't he wearing a tie when all the other tux models in the pictures were? Questions, questions, questions. So fun, plus I got to explain to her what she was to do during the wedding. Fair Warning: If you get pelted with flowers by an over-eager flower girl, it's all my fault!

We walked around the mall then headed to Chick-Fil-A for lunch, then let E play in the playplace before getting strawberry milkshakes ("Why do they make strawberry milkshakes if they don't make blueberry?" Excellent question, if you ask me.) and heading home in time for E's nap. Let's just say that the ride home was verrrrry quiet without the slightest straw noises coming from the backseat.

Back at E's house, we walked in and witnessed a very fun and sweet moment. E went over to S (birthday girl! turned one that day...) and popped out her pacifier. Before my sister could reprimand her, E stuck the milkshake straw right in S's mouth. She turned to us and said, "Do you think she likes it?" Sweet!

So we hopped everyone up on sugar then headed out so that naps could ensue. B and I lounged around for a few hours before going for a walk, then heading back to the girls' house to celebrate the first birthday party where everyone had a blast, including the birthday girl, who ate her entire mini cake, plus any leftover bites of cake left in bowls on any table within reaching distance.

B and I headed home and passed out from our own sugar coma, then I got started on dinner, Coq au Vin, which is surprisingly easy and over-the-top delicious. We'd marinated it overnight in the red-wine sauce and everything, everything about it was amazing. We toasted a Valentine's Day very well done with more sherbet and a little Bourne, though I'm still not sure which one we saw.

Thanks to the long weekend, Sunday was just perfect. We didn't do much of note, just grabbed sandwiches from Foster's for lunch, then delicious cheesy goodness for dinner from a local Mexican joint.

Monday I went to school with B, sitting in on one class and hanging out like a cool kid in the student area during lunch before heading back to the airport. The countdown is on to the next visit (March!) and I can't wait. 81 days until the wedding, and it can't come fast enough.

Wedding Planning Moment of the Day

This weekend, I had two dreams about babies... One I attribute to watching Knocked Up just before falling asleep and the other to anticipating a fun first birthday party for my niece. However, that doesn't cancel out the fact that I had a crazy baby dream!

In my dream, two of B's dear friends were getting engaged and the guy's Dad had called a big family dinner meeting at which his entire side of the family was present, from grandparents to parents to aunts and uncles, where the Dad announced the big news. We were so excited! Well, B was. I was transfixed by B's friend's Mom, who was wearing my wedding jewelry! Ok, so I don't actually have the jewelry, and it wasn't anything I'd ever seen before, but I was convinced that this was the jewelry for me.

Don't you hate when you wake up and get mad at dream-you for not asking important questions? How hard would it have been to say, "Um, where did you get your gorgeous earrings, necklace, and hair comb?" Yes, hair comb. It was a dream, ok? Certainly not the real jewelry I'll have... Unless that old "go right back to sleep" thing still works roughly three days later...

Through the Eyes of a Two Year Old

Though my niece, E, is quick to tell you that she is "two, almost three" (complete with holding up the appropriate number of fingers), she is, in fact, two. A highly verbal two. B and I had the distinct pleasure of taking E out for a lunch date this weekend (more on that later) at her most favorite restaurant in the world: Chick-fil-a. No, not that one, the one with the good playplace.

We ate, she played, then, right as we were about to leave, she said, "I pooped, you need to change me." Even as I protested that we could just change her at home (the royal "we," of course), she sprawled out on the bench at the playplace and said, "Nope, here please."

So she and I headed off to the bathroom leaving a bewildered and helpless B with the command to order milkshakes for the ride home.

As we were getting settled in the bathroom, she looked at me and started this conversation...

E: Mommy and Daddy call you Jake.

Me (digging for wipes and clean diaper): Yes, they do.

E: Why do they call you Jake?

Me (trying to figure out if you kept pants and shoes on during a change): It's a nickname.

E: What's a nickname?

Me (figuring out why they'd put the trash exactly just beyond arm's reach from the changing table): It's a fun name that's just for you, but it's not your real name. Like how Mommy and Daddy call you Ellabella.

E: So I'm Ellabella, you're Jake, Mommy's Krissie, Daddy's Timmy, Sienna's Sienna-bo-benna, and B is.... What's B's nickname?

Me (refastening the world's tiniest pair of jeans): He doesn't have one, but you could give him one if you like.

E: I'm going to call him Hot Dog.

And she did. Proudly. The rest of the day. She'd go around the room (with no egging on by me or her dad... promise.) and pronounce B 'Hot Dog' again and again. I have this feeling that there's going to be a "Hi Hot Dog" moment at the alter... I can only hope.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Missed Moments

Even though B and I have been dating for approximately forty forevers, there are still times that I look back wistfully and wish I had been there at that moment. It happens sometimes when his friends are telling stories, or his parents are reliving memories, but mostly it happens when I see pictures of him. There's a whole other B that I never knew! This B played football. Did you know that? A center, no less (right, honey?). Big guy, that B.

I remember going with him to watch his high school homecoming game one year during our fall break from college. My high school didn't have football, so it was a totally new thing to be wandering around the bleachers watching the "kiddos" enjoying the nights with their (super serious) dates. More than that, though, I loved watching B's eyes light up as he watched the team play. I think part of him is still on the football field, and I'm pretty sure that gets proven to me every time I start to nap while he's watching a Falcons game and he has to wake me up in advance when he knows a big play is going to happen. Not to share the big play, mind you, but to keep from scaring me with a big whooping outburst.

Anyway, I found this picture while sorting through the hundreds that B's family has stored on their home computer and I love it. It makes me (oddly) proud, excited, and butterfly-ish all at once. Plus, it's a uniform! And we love uniforms...

Wedding Planning Moment of the Day

Yesterday I went online and got my new email address featuring what will become my new last name. Somehow the idea of sending out a "change of address" from my new email in May seems even more real than stamping the wedding invitations that will go out in March. Maybe I can set up a redirect...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How to Make Biscotti

Biscotti is always interesting to me on several levels. On the one hand, you know it's suppose to taste good. After all, it's a delightful mix of a cookie and a scone, and is seen as a perfectly acceptable breakfast food. My Mom used to buy them from Sam's, as our hometown was refreshingly low on coffee-house pickings, and, while they came vacuum-sealed, they were always harder than you wanted. A little too crispy, as if they needed coffee to loosen them up before they could go about their morning business. Namely, giving me an excuse to eat chocolate before noon.

I love to bake, but it never occurred to me to make my own biscotti because, well, who does that? My former roommate, that's who. She made a batch for a low-key brunch she had a few months ago and this past weekend, before heading off to see B's parents for a weekend of photo scanning, dress hunting, jewelry shopping, and more (thank you B's parents!), I had a craving to make this. Not to eat it, exactly, but to make it. I blame B's Mom. Give me a standing mixer and expect me not to bake. Seriously.

So I got cooking and, guess what, it's easy! And the finished result was far from over-crisped, a fact B's Dad and I discussed at some length over the Saturday paper. We credit that with the homemade nature of the treat and also my lack of good knives; I just can't slice it thin enough to fully crisp on both sides.

Regardless, biscotti is amazing and should be enjoyed by all, so I'm posting the recipe (which first appeared in Southern Lady Magazine) here. Just promise me that when you make it, you'll at least act like it's hard. Oh, and the best part: the ingredients are so simple that it's a really cheap treat to make for your friends. Pair with a fun plate and you've got a holiday gift ready to go!

And, in case anyone's keeping track, don't be surprised if these appear in the wedding gift bags...

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups finely chopped hazelnuts
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add hazelnuts and chocolate morsels, stirring to mix well.
3. In a separate bowl, combine butter, eggs, and vanilla. Add butter mixture to flour mixture. Stir until dry ingredients are moistened; dough will be sticky.
4. On a lightly floured surface, shape half of dough into a 14x2-inch log; repeat with remaining dough. Place logs 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until set; remove from oven. Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300º.
5. Cut each log crosswise into 3/4-inch slices with a serrated knife. Place slices, cut-side down, on baking sheet. Continue baking for 30 minutes, turning slices over at 10-minute intervals, until crisp and light brown on both sides. Remove from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.

NOTE: I've only ever made this with walnuts, and it's yummy. And it made about 1.5 dozen but that's again likely due to my slicing. I like big portions...

To the Victor Goes the Gift Bag

We won! And by "we" I mean that I won and B also won (by proxy) in that I'm already having the perfect Valentine's Day. What could be better?

I got an email Tuesday morning from B's Mom, congratulating the two of us, then another from the lady running the contest saying my gift would be available for pick up (personal chef not included) on Friday. I told her I'd be visiting my Quiznos Valentine in Durham this weekend, and could I come a little sooner.

So that's how I ended up at the office of MyScoop this morning at 9am picking up quite the random collection of Valentine's Day gifts including (but not limited to) no fewer than four pairs of panties (really?), a lovely pair of earrings from Bromberg's, a fun tshirt with Beatles lyrics on it, and a bottle of really, really pink alcohol.

Even as I was looking through the bag, I realized that there were several things I'd be giving away to friends (what fun are festive wine glasses without friends to share them with?) and yet I was so excited to have something warm, fuzzy, and simple to start the day off right.

Thanks to all who voted. You made my Valentine's Day bright!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Big (and Little) Numbers

Three months from today, B and I will be married. Three months and... 39 minutes to be exact. That's 89 days from now (we're in the 80s! Thank God for a non-leap year...). I can't wait. But, to help you wait (I know you're so excited, too), I'm providing a little visual mind break in the form of a very young B. How stinkin cute is series of pictures?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Team B

I like to tease B about my joining "Team B," which I do see as true, especially once we're married. I love being his cheerleader (goodness knows he's been one of my biggest ones for several years). And, on certain occasions, we join forces for a true "Team B" experience.

I emailed B about the contest (vote for us now!) and asked him to forward the voting request around. After all, the prize is pretty good... the jewelry sounds fun, but the real fun (I think) would be having a personal chef for a night. I wonder if he does sushi...

Anyway, B did as I asked, complying with "the letter of the law, if not the spirit" (any Calvin and Hobbs fans out there?) by saying,

"This is from A. Please do what she says or I'll have to buy her all this stuff anyway."

Like I said, Team B!

If you haven't yet, please email "I vote for number 4" to . Mostly I'd just like knowing that our Valentine's Day story is better than any heart-shaped pizza moment, but, come on, who doesn't want a chef for a night? I promise to share!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Flower Girl Meltdown

Last night, Mom let my niece Lily try on her flower girl dress a) to see if they sized pretty true and b) because Lily is a super girly girl that would love a few minutes of dress up. Mom dressed her up, complete with flowers in her hair and let her prance around for a few minutes. She was so proud of herself that she wouldn't let Mom get a picture of the back of the dress, only "the face," she said. Only two-and-a-half and she's already voguing.

So then Mom, in an effort to link this pretty dress with her flower-girl duties, said, "Lily, you know that Ella, Sienna, and Gabrielle will all be flower girls, too."

Tears. Oh the tears. Mom said Lily just sobbed. I was worried that she wanted to be the only flower girl, which would prove troublesome a) when the other three walked out and b) when I booted her cute little tail down the aisle as she posed all the way to the alter.

After several minutes of sobby tears, Mom finally realized that Lily thought she'd have to share flower girl duties and, more importantly, her new pretty, twirly dress. Mom tried to convince her otherwise, but ended up having to drag out all the other dresses and lay them out before she got Lily to stop crying.

Poor kid! Imagine being given something you loved (new dress! new shoes! poofy everything!) then thinking you had to *gasp* share it. She and Mom both agreed that this one would be "Lily's dress," but the photos Mom got are priceless... a little tear-stained Lily standing proudly in her new twirling dress.

Have I mentioned that I love my nieces? Boy do I love them.

Vote for Us!

B and I are finalists in a Valentine's Day Competition for Best Valentine's Day story... Please take a minute to email

"I vote for number 4" to

If you'd like to read the other entries, check them out at My Scoop, or just read ours below. Either way, please vote asap!

4. In 2004, my Valentine and I were fighting. Not speaking, in fact. We were both in college and I was still in my brooding "I just need to think" stage, so I told him not to talk to me for a week, meaning the Cold War would thaw, you guessed it, on Valentine's Day. He came over that morning and asked to take me out that night. I agreed, but said I didn't want to go someplace nice or fancy, because that wasn't "where we were." (See? Brooding!) We started driving down the highway that night looking for a place that would fit "where we were" and, when we turned into a shopping center, I saw it: Quiznos. Bless his heart, I made my Valentine take me to Quiznos for dinner on the most romantic day of the year. The ladies behind the counter were angry to be working that night anyway, so when they saw us, clearly on a date, walk in to their sandwich shop on Valentine's Day, they directed their anger at my sweetie on my behalf. Being a little touchy still, I played into it a little, acting overly excited when he said to get whatever I wanted. ("Anything? Oh wow!!," with much false enthusiasm.) Even as we sat down to talk over our conveyor-belt toasted subs, I could feel my frustration and anger fading away, in part due to having had a week of distance and in part knowing that this sweet guy was willing to endure my mild, "I'll have the BIG sandwich" jabs. After dinner, we headed next door for piping hot Krispie Creme donuts before returning to his car. That sweet man and I are engaged now, nearly five years later, and no matter what fancy place we go for birthdays, anniversaries, or random Tuesdays, we always keep an eye out for what we've deemed "our restaurant."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What I've Learned... Today

Normally I try not to post "Oh, life is pretty good and I'm busy" style blogs, but some days are just "everyday," and I'm coming to really appreciate that. I haven't allowed myself to count (again, for the fourth time), but I'm pretty sure I'm 2/3 done with my half of the wedding invitations and I actually have Mom's fully-finished half in the back of my car right now (along with a set of lefty golf clubs and the biography of Erskine Caldwell--it's arguable which of those is getting more use these days).
Addressing the invitations has been good and fun and, because I'm almost done, I decided I'd share some thoughts about what I'd do if I had to write them over again:

1) Marry someone who didn't live in North Carolina. When addressing envelopes, you write out the full name of the state. No abbreviations allowed. Next go round, I would pick a husband that lived in Ohio.

2) Invite country friends rather than urban. The no abbreviation rule strikes again! I'm becoming very fond of renters that dwell in "units" or "studios" rather than "apartments." Believe you me, after a certain number of letters, every letter counts.

3) I think it's a little crazy what people charge for some things. Like a Barbie Cake, when purchased from Publix, is $60. When made at home, it costs roughly $12. However, factor in time and suddenly that $60 looks like a steal. So while I wouldn't want to pay for someone to address invitations, you'd be darn sure I'd charge if asked to do them for someone else. And charge extra for guests in double-word states and those living in apartments.

4) Cooking and invitations don't mix. Because I'm taking it slow, the invitations have taken up semi-permanent residence on my dining table. I go back and forth between being thankful that I have the space to spread them out and worried that they're going to ship smelling like a mix between bacon, sauteed onions, and homemade chocolate chip cookies. Maybe I'll skip the cooking for a few days and stick to baking.

5) My irrational fears aren't limited to forgetting to set my alarm clock and people living behind the shower curtain. Oh no, I have a fear that I'm going to leave the calligraphy pen uncapped and return to find that the sheet the invitations are living on top of completely soaked with jet-black ink, which is slowly bleeding its way up (yes, up) my stacks of invitations turning them into some sort of mod, ink-blot test that would prompt our guests to turn it sideways and over, asking "What do you think this is suppose to mean?"

By now you know that by "lessons," I mostly meant neuroses. Ah but yes, it's simply an everyday Thursday on which I'm thankful for the coming weekend when I can go spend a few days in Atlanta with B's family taking care of some out-of-town wedding fun... and maybe a little shopping on the side.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Welcome (Back) to Third Grade

When my Mom picked up my brother from his first day of third grade, she watched as he climbed into the van and started to cry. "Mom," he said, "this is the worst day of my entire life. We have to memorize all the states and capitals and everything has to be written in cursive." I think third grade is underrated. Not only do you have to learn the capitals that match each state, but you have to be able to spell them both (don't act like "Connecticut" is an easy get, either). Plus, there's all the multiplication tables (which get harder when you get above the number of fingers you have. Twelves, anyone?). Then, above all, there's cursive.

Now, I've never told anyone (ok, most people) this, but cursive actually saved me in third grade. We had our first compound-word spelling test and I couldn't remember if "firefighter" was one word or two. Still can't, actually. Thank you, spell check. Thankfully, due to the all-cursive rule, I could write it where the letters connected, then mostly, but just kinda sorta erase the line linking the "e" and the "f," leaving the teacher to do what most do when quickly grading a 30-question quiz: look for the right answer.

Whew! Glad I got that off my chest, and just in time to bring my penmanship and all-around letter-crafting skills back to the forefront as I (du-du-dum) address wedding invitations.

Mom started this (I believe) with my brother's wedding. She pulled out my sixth grade calligraphy kit and started the lettering. Three days and one severe hand cramp later, she'd finished the job that would usually have cost roughly $1 per envelope. And remember, each invitation has two.

So she started telling me about how she was looking forward to addressing mine (I know. I've already submitted her for sainthood.). And for reasons I'm still not sure about, I fought that, insisting that I help. Granted, part of me wanted to make sure Mom's hand wasn't permanently gnarled from the systematic and oh, so careful lettering, but I think the other part was genuinely excited to do something for the wedding, rather than booking, organizing, or ordering.

So Mom and I split the list up, she tackling our side and I taking care of B's portion, and, you know what, it has been fun. When addressing the engagement party invitations, I found it fun to think about the people that would be getting the card. Mom upped the ante on this one, saying how it was nice to think of them opening the wedding invitation, and even saying a little prayer about them. After all, most of these people are our closest friends.

So I've been slowly working my way through B's side's list, thinking warm and fuzzy thoughts about his high school friends, the parents I met at the Atlanta engagement party, and members of B's extended family that I haven't even met yet. And, though Mom finished her entire list this weekend, I'm about a third of the way through mine already.

So yes, today I am grateful to be typing rather than carefully hand-lettering addresses, but a part of me is actually excited to get home and get back to stuffing. It's rare in life that you know something you're experiencing, whether good or bad, is finite and, more than that, you know the exact moment it will end. Engagement is one of those few times, and I'm loving the little reminders to enjoy it while it lasts.