Tuesday, July 29, 2008

To open, or not to open?

So after Saturday's post, I was horrified--out of embarrassment, not anger--to hear that Melissa (my best friend of 18 years/MOH) and her mom were a little upset that I had started opening the gifts that had been shipped prior to the shower. I feel terrible! I guess I didn't realize that it would be viewed by some as really crass, and although I know all the guests are expecting me to be surprised by what they've brought, I guess... well, I guess I was thinking I could successfully feign surprise. (Of course, many things will be from the registries, but the important part is the person who bought the gift.) At this point, though, I know I should "act surprised" when I open gifts, and fortunately I'm a decent actor. 

But in my defense, I *did* think it through before I began opening things. Here's my rationale:

  • When you receive wedding gifts prior to the wedding, etiquette dictates that you open them and write thank-you notes as they arrive. I know that this situation is different because a shower is basically thrown so that the bride can open gifts in front of everyone and be surprised, but I was able to get a head start on the thank-yous for the gifts that had large and visible "FROM" tags.
  • A few gifts didn't have those tags, and I decided to set aside the cards (marking on the envelope what the gift was) so that even though I knew I had received something from our registry, I didn't know who the gift was from. A little weird, I guess, but this way there's still some element of surprise.
  • Our house 1) was a mess before we started planning our wedding, 2) no longer has a visible wood stove because of my wedding-crap repository, and 3) couldn't even handle the three large boxes I waited several days to open, thinking I might be able to hold off opening the shower gifts that were starting to arrive. But given the excessive packaging companies use, I didn't have a fighting chance. We've already made one major trip to the recycling center with a carload of cardboard, and Tim alerted me today that another is impending.

Has anyone else had a shower like this, with an awkward gift-arrival purgatory? Or have you had a similar experience in any way? How did you handle it? If you're lurking and have an answer, ***please*** come out of the woodwork! I want to be absolved before... oh.... 6:30 CDT Tuesday.

Make that 6:25, so I can enjoy a signature drink.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

July showers!

I'm distracted by my desire for a Popsicle and can't think of a clever title.

Tomorrow Tim and I are going to NYC to play a show at
The Stone. It's a really cool venue I've never had the opportunity to play, and I'm also pretty sure that some old friends (some of whom I've known for 15+ years!) are going to show up. I think it'll be pretty fun!

Then, after staying overnight (hi Sarah! thanks!!!), I'm flying to Milwaukee for some shower madness. My shower is being thrown by my MOH Melissa, her mom, my bridesmaid Christine, a very close family friend, and my aunt. I'm so excited to see all of them and have also seen the guest list, which is full of wonderful people I haven't been able to spend much time with in a long time. I've always been nervous about the idea of a shower because of the gift-opening thing, but I realize that it's really an opportunity for people to do something EXTREMELY nice and generous - so I'm really grateful for it. I think Melissa, Christine, and I might also have some low-key bachelorette activity. Low-key = operative term, if you're reading, girls!

[insert offensive image here]  
no thank you, to both image placement and activity participation

Because it's an out-of-town shower, the hostesses were very thoughtful to ask that guests send their gifts directly to Ithaca, bringing a picture, a poem, or a token gift to the shower itself. Since some of them are apparently quite on top of things, gifts began to arrive at our house about a week ago... like this beauty, from my parents' good friend:

Angela Adams duvet cover from Bed Bath & Beyond

And this, from a close friend from our old synagogue, whom I've known since childhood:

Bodum thermal beer glasses from Bed Bath & Beyond

I must disclose that I've been enjoying those glasses so much already that I keep washing them so I don't have to use our old ones. :-)  (I knowwww, some etiquette mavens would say I shouldn't be using them before I write the thank-you note... but I needed to get those boxes out of the house! Right? Um... right?)

I'll leave you with a taste of what I might expect from my mom at this shower, given the following that she wrote for my sister-in-law's shower last September. I think the cast of characters should be fairly evident.

The [my fam] of Milwaukee
Are split in their skills
'Tween those who play music
And those who use drills.

The [mom's side] genes lend credence
To most things mechanic;
While genes from Steve's fam
Makes home projects a panic.

Then along comes Ms. Hillary
Whose background brings mixture.
She can engineer concerts---
And hang your light fixture!

Now dear daughter Wendy     <---that's me!
Has caused some to ponder.
With her passion for shopping,
Where DID Fran's genes wander?

But entr'ing stage right, now
Is Hillary the Handy.
A new [my fam] daughter
Who, agreed, is a dandy!

A sister for Wendy,
Fran's tool mate, by gosh---
New daughter for Steve
And a jewel for Josh!

So it seemed most apparent
That the gift with this poem,
For the non-shopper Hillary,
Had to be a gift for the Home-----------------------DEPOT, that is!

Now you can see - I can't help it.

Have you ever been thrown/attended a shower for an out-of-town bride? How was the gift-giving handled?

.... and breaking with it.

So the ketubah thing. I kept googling "abstract ketubah," and "simple ketubah," and "unusual ketubah," thinking new things would pop up every half hour. They didn't. Imagine that.

There are several ketubah artists who create works inspired by (or even using) Klee and Rothko. Yes, they're beautiful... because Klee's and Rothko's art is beautiful. Why would I want someone else's version of it, and why would I want it covered up with words? If you understand and appreciate this practice, please comment. I just don't get it. To me, it feels like the Picasso print I had on my wall in high school.

But the idea had both of us thinking, apparently. Or at least one of us. Suddenly, while I did yet another mopey-faced search, Tim burst out, "Dude [the closest we get to a pet name]! WHAT ABOUT PAUL???"

Me: Holy sh*t.
Tim: Yeah?
Me: That's amazing!
Tim: Yeah!

We're very verbal.

Delicacy in Everything
ink on canvas
46" x 46"
c. Paul Theriault

"Paul" is our friend and former Jamaica Plain neighbor Paul Theriault. He is, quite simply, the bomb. Paul, his superbly cool and talented wife Jess, and the belly that would soon be (Action) Jackson (no, not really. But Jackson) moved into the first floor apartment of our building, during our last year in Boston. They both work at Brookline Booksmith, which immediately made us love them.

Then we got to know them a little while sitting out on the porch on Halloween, and we loved them even more.

THEN we saw this kind of thing hanging around their house:

Wandering Angus (and detail)
wood panels and acrylic paint
approx. 9' x 16'
c. Paul Theriault

...and it was all about finding a way to get a piece of Paul's incredible work. (We did eventually manage to do that, and I *love* it.) On his website, most of the examples are of his gorgeous textural paintings. The things I really respond to, though, are the gritty and almost primitive sculptures he creates with wood and paint.

South Pacific/Norien
acrylic on canvas and wood and bandsaw blade
6'6" x 3'2"
c. Paul Theriault

We're in the very early stages of planning a ketubah with Paul (like, playing phone tag), but he is so nice and accommodating that I know he'll be amenable to working with our budget. More importantly, I have absolutely no doubt that whatever he creates, we'll both love, and it will be so meaningful to us. 

Register (Sneaky)
ink on paper and wood with rulers
30" x 28"
c. Paul Theriault

Tim and I are both thinking that it would be great to have something sculptural with the ketubah text integrated into it - maybe having it printed out and then decoupaged onto the wood. Of course, we don't want to break any rules here... just stray from tradition a bit. If you know anything about guidelines for creating a truly legal ketubah, let me know!

Are you having a friend or relative create something unique for your wedding day? Please share!

Friday, July 25, 2008


Much like our
ring experience, I've found ketubah searching with Tim to be a bit difficult. There aren't that many wedding-related things he cares about, but when he does have an opinion about something, it's a strong one. Really. Really. Strong.

(By the way, he just read that over my shoulder... not too happy about it.)

What's funny about this to me is that I'm sure I ultimately care more about these things than he does, but he has such vehement reactions to certain things that I just wouldn't feel comfortable taking the plunge and spending money on them. This is especially true of the ketubah, which is at least somewhat representative of us as a couple.

Also, ketubot (the Hebrew plural) are not cheap. They range from around $100 for a bare-bones design on nice paper to thousands of dollars for gorgeous, completely custom works of art.

Here are some of the ones he found completely offensive, and I don't blame him - they are so not our style:

(Doesn't the Torah scroll next to the tree trunk look... well... kind of like a roll of toilet paper?)

Those came from the first page of a 525-hit search, which didn't bode well. 

Here are some that I really liked initially, but was ultimately convinced still weren't exactly right:

And here's one that we were seriously considering (without having a design around the border), but I was convinced by Amy and my mom that it's too plain for something so celebratory:

This one also made the cut, but it felt weird to have an Enso when we're not Japanese - we both love the concept, but it was a cultural appropriation we didn't feel entirely comfortable using:

Tim has very minimalist taste, and both of us aren't huge fans of realism or anything frilly. Many ketubot are just overdone, and a lot of the simpler ones we could find simply didn't feel like "us." I wasn't feeling very good about spending upwards of $200 on something that I'd like to hang in our house but didn't love.

Then Tim had an absolutely brilliant idea... 

...coming up!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Our invitations are on their way to Milwaukee, where we'll address and mail them next week! I'll share my own pictures when I get to see them in person, but Stephanie very graciously blogged about them (and linked to my blog :-) ...thanks!). They far exceed my [very high] expectations and are just beautiful, even in 2-D. I am SO excited to see them. And touch them. And MAIL them!

Stephanie's blog post about our gorgeous invitations is here. Make sure to also look at the pictures of her adorable twins, Paxton ("Mr. P") and Avery ("Miss A").

More on Stephanie and her awesomeness soon!

Say bye-bye to wetness!

... or not. Argh. I waited a few extra hours to blog about my centerpiece mock-up, but some of the stain still hasn't dried because it's so freakin' humid.

what our backyard feels like today.  source

All right, little bridesmaidies - no more reading!

But something really cool did happen yesterday. Last week, I posted an Alchemy bid to create an image of allium and fiddleheads that Jes can use on the bridesmaids' shawls & groomsmen's ties, and that we can use on the out-of-town bags. I hadn't budgeted for it, so I set the bid low at $10, hoping that someone might take pity on me and do a quick little sketch that would still look cool once silk-screened. I really had NO idea what's involved in creating an image that can be used as a vector (and still don't), but some of the bids I got were no better than what I could have sketched myself, honestly. I don't mean that as an insult to any Etsians - I think the bid was just awfully low.

Then I got a message from Beth of wildemoon. Would you be willing to go up to $15? Absolutely. I can put it into vector format for Jes so she doesn't have to do it. Awesome! Look at my samples and see what you think. Amazing! I love this one, called "Gray Day":

image by and property of Elizabeth Wilde

Beth was incredible to work with. Every time she e-mailed me, she had a new idea or a new version attached. I gave her several different photos to work from, and then she tweaked the sizes and layout of the stems so they were more comparable in size. She works so fast that the entire process was finished in less than 3 days! Jes is also really happy with the design and has already said she'd love to work with Beth again, which is really exciting to me - I'm so happy that I can claim a little bit of responsibility for artistic matchmaking. :-)

Here's the final product - I'll remind you that I'm a violist and Tim is a percussionist, and the two plants represented are drumstick allium and fiddleheads. Tee hee.

What do you think? Pretty cool, eh? Have you invested in or created a custom graphic for any of your wedding needs?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Veggie patch

I mentioned the other day how excited (and shocked) I am that my plants are not dead. Woohoo! Well, I have more vegetal excitement today:

These fondant and gumpaste veggies from Angee of wonderworks are true works of art. Seriously, they are amazing... look at the color detail! I honestly think they're my favorite wedding-thing so far. She wrapped them beautifully so they didn't get damaged or melt in shipping, which is amazing for mid-July. Angee even sent two "tasters" (one little piece of fondant, one of gumpaste - Tim and I both like the gumpaste more, to my surprise) so I can hold onto all the veggies as keepsakes. In a combination of excitement, boredom, and a penchant for the absurd, I created this on the kitchen window ledge:

The elephant is a little engagement gift from my mom that I can put rings on when washing dishes... Tim thought the idea of me doing dishes was pretty funny :-P ; the pig is a brass "love pig" my parents gave me on my 13th birthday (I think it's from Scotland, but I can't find anything relevant on the Interwebs); and the rubber animals were used to decorate a present Tim gave me a few years ago. His comment when I made him come into the kitchen to see it: "You're on drugs."

The edible sculptures are also the perfect size to embellish the cupcakes my mom experimented with the other day:

She's freezing them for a few days to see how they hold up (should be fine) - she's coming into town the Monday before our Sunday wedding, and I think we'll probably make the cupcakes Thursday or Friday, depending on how they hold up in her trial run. She's also hunting for more silicone baking cups like the one in the forefront of the picture. Unfortunately, because Crate & Barrel is so good about constantly changing up their inventory, they no longer have the "flower baking cups!" We've checked outlets, eBay, all that, and no luck. But she said she found some cute bundt-like cups at another store, so I think we'll do half-and-half. That'll look pretty freakin' adorable when the veggies/mini cakes are all lined up like a garden patch - some variety will be nice.

source - I fear that if I photograph my own "garden," it will disappear in a puff of smoke.

What do you think of how the cake idea is shaping up? I wish you could taste the beet cake, because I think it could be stuck to the pan and burned and still taste ridiculously good.

Oh, and by the way - I emailed Chrissy with pictures and asked what she thought of my dress issue. She was totally on the page with me, which is great - it's always hard when you have some kind of criticism of an artist's work, but she is so gracious and understanding. I told her that if it's easier, she could send some fabric to me and I could find someone local to take care of it. She thought it was a good idea, so I think I'll go to the woman in Milwaukee my MoH, Melissa, always goes to. I'll update after I'm there next week!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My tomatoes are GROWING!

Oops, I forgot for a minute that this is a wedding blog. Sorry. BUT humor me for a minute: my tomatoes, strawberries, savory, oregano, parsley, lavender, and even the basil that looked like it had kicked the bucket... they're all thriving! And all I had to do was leave town for three weeks.  :-P

So... those pictures I promised. Love the dress; only semi-loving the girl right now. I'm not usually like that, which is why I'm a little bummed. I'm wondering if it would be 1) not too hard and 2) more flattering to make it strapless, but I think the fabric probably isn't rigid enough to support my puppies... er, dogs. St. Bernards. But maybe a bra could be built in. Any thoughts? Leave it as it is and do some serious weightlifting? I definitely need a better bra than the one I'm wearing in the pictures, that much is certain. And the necklace is looking kind of funny - I'm going to be wearing a longer one with a pendant.

I kind of wish I had taken pictures of the back before I took it away from Chrissy's, since I couldn't really see how it's cut there. I would have liked for it to be pretty much straight up and down, rather than curving in near the shoulders. I'm going to have some kind of wrap, but I'd rather not need to wear it. The thing is, I'm not really sure what could be done to fix the shoulders. I guess she could add some of the same red edging that's around the neckline. Thoughts?

In any event, the Seattle trip was a lot of fun, albeit exhausting. The biggest day involved two trips to Chrissy's (she is, in a word, amazing... I can't really begin to describe how easy and great she is to work with), one LONG wander-fest through Pike Place Market (with a detour to Nordstrom Rack - didn't buy anything!), and a leisurely & delicious dinner at Ray's with my mom.

PP Market is one of the most incredible and overwhelming places I've visited in a long time. I don't usually do well in crowds, so it was a little intimidating for me. But after braving multiple street markets in Hong Kong a few months ago, this one actually felt downright spacious. Here are a few more pictures from that visit - pretty soon, they'll turn into something wedding-related! I'm aware it's moderately strange that I'm more excited about produce than my dress (to the point of posting three times more veggie p*rn than dress porn), but I know some of you will relate.  :-)   I'm also pretty happy with how these photos turned out, just taken with a little Kodak EasyShare! I did some very minor editing in Goldberg (including cropping the datestamp, which I brilliantly forgot to turn off). Most of the thanks is due to the cute signs and my new friend Butch (last picture), who kindly let me snap away for about 15 minutes. Butch rules.

Have you traveled far and wide for your dress, or made a big purchase on a leap of faith? I'm feeling a little silly that I took such a huge trip and am not totally in love with how I look in the dress. Please give me some thoughts and advice!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Guilty guilted me into it.

Just kidding, Guilty Secret! But I definitely should never make promises I'm not sure I can make good on in a timely fashion. 

My mom and I are getting ready to leave our hotel, and I have a long day of traveling ahead of me (through Milwaukee with a layover, then back to Boston and driving to Gabby and co.'s house to stay the night). So I'm going to post ONE more round of teasers before starting a full, only-a-few-holds-barred rundown of the Seattle trip.

I'm not feeling terribly body-happy these last few days, so I'm going to post a few pics of the full dress hanging by itself before posting the pics of me in it. I know it's sort of silly, but it's less scary for me that way. I also took over 100 pictures at Pike Place Market that I'm trying to figure out how to incorporate into the wedding...

See you when I'm back in EDT!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I just watched a very long All-Star game...

...and my eyes are crossing because I was glued to the TV for so long. But I wanted to post a smattering of quick peeks at my Tuesday, with more to come tomorrow night!

No, I didn't climb it.