Monday, December 29, 2008

let's call it overkill

...and in the mail today came a gift certificate from Anthropologie, for $40. Okay, I'm sold. THIS is how you turn a disgruntled customer thrilled and somewhat sheepish.

(Liz, I am working on your Gocco question and will answer it probably tomorrow. With pictures.)

Friday, December 26, 2008

it's a Christmas miracle, Charlie Brown

Earlier this week Illinois was slammed with some serious snow. Mail and UPS deliveries were delayed, which probably explains how a mystery package happened to arrive late on Christmas Eve.
Inside the package I found two boxes.

And a card.

The card says "Julia, I saw your posting about the disappointing service you received from Anthropologie. Please accept the two enclosed stoppers free of charge as a token of our dedication to making your next Anthropologie experience a positive one." Handwritten, signed by the operations manager, Allison. Sure enough, two stoppers, already giftwrapped. I don't know quite how Allison connected my virtual snit with my original order, but how nice is that? They were also out of stock online and in most stores, so I'm sure it wasn't easy to find them either.

I rewrapped them and gave one to DJ's mom (the original gift) and one to his brother's wife. Of course I had to tell the story, so Allison - there were two gifts under our tree from you this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

big swish

WANT. With the usual caveats (not shaped correctly for my body type, too expensive, etc.) and a few additional ones. What I'd really like is a place to wear this skirt, because I could make one for myself. There just aren't a lot of events in my life where a floor-length silk taffeta ball skirt would be the thing to wear.

On the other hand, I wish I could convince my mom that this would be the thing to wear. I might even sew it for her in the color of her choosing. It would look elegant on her, and with the right top could be a real showstopper of a mother-of-the-bride outfit.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I went to a marvellous party

I had such a great time wrapping gifts this year. I'm way into the rustic barny thing at the moment, can you tell?
Now that they're wrapped and ready, it's nearly impossible for me not to hand off gifts as the recipients come through the door. DJ has the same problem - I think we've broken into the gifts early all three Christmases since we started re-dating. Including this one. Whoops.

The post title comes from this Noel Coward bit. Holidays and family get-togethers always remind me of it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

champagne brunch

MixWit is closing shop in a few days (sad!), so I'm trying 8tracks as an alternative. 8tracks doesn't have the neat mixtape graphic option and won't hold the song order fixed, so I'm still looking. Any recommendations?

Champagne Brunch

Sip a mimosa, nibble French toast, wear white gloves on the train into the city.

craft overload

A few days ago I was saying I wanted to try quilling. It took me a matter of hours to actually try it. After two snowflakes and one sort-of Christmas tree, I have to say I think it's harder than it looks. Oh, it's easy to make the curliques - but apparently hard to do well. It's fun though, so I might keep practicing until I have a whole tree of curly snowflakes with wonky edges.

Friday, December 19, 2008

fluffy meringue

I think that this photo came from the Bride's Cafe, but I'm not sure and now can't re-find it. It's been sitting on my hard drive for some time, clipped because I like the puffy gathers. I also like the lace, but is it a bit too-too? I've lost perspective on these things, weddings seems to encourage my over the top tendencies.

Originally I thought of using this for cocktail tables, but now I don't think we'll need them. I also didn't think we'd have a head table, but now that seems like the best use of the space we have. The rest of the rectangular tables will be bare distressed wood with natural muslin runners. We could do the same on the head table, but the girls will be wearing knee-length skirts. From straight on, a tablecloth would look more finished in pictures and make them worry less about crossing their ankles. (My grandma always says that a lady crosses her ankles - crossing at the knee is acceptable, but not as flattering. She's crazy, but I believe she may be right.)

I don't mind the head table being different, and since I haven't sewn the runners yet I might be able to echo the gathers there as well. It just occurred to me that the tables look like wedding gowns a little bit. Funny, since my dress is as plain as can be.

customer dissatisfaction

I'm having a fight with Anthropologie right now. Anthropologie doesn't actually care, which is why we're having the fight.

Last week I ordered a few gifts online, with plenty of time to spare before Christmas Eve. Yesterday the box arrived, missing one item. They'd charged me for it, packed the rest of the order, checked off each packed item, and completely left off one thing. I seem to be having this problem a lot lately.

I called this morning to ask for the thing to be shipped (in time for Christmas, please!), and of course they're sold out. Of course! That was annoying, but can't really be helped. The thing that bothered me was that the girl on the phone just could not have cared any less. I'm sure her job is boring, but an apology would have been nice. An effusive apology, and maybe an e-mail confirming my refund.

Especially since now I (or DJ) will be stuck braving the crowded mall the weekend before Christmas, in a snowstorm. Bah humbug.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

a little sparkle

Today while browsing the Banana Republic sales I saw some things that looked wedding-y. Which, fine, not that big a feat since lately everything looks wedding-y. I'm a little ashamed of that, but not enough to hide it.
These are some fancy, wonderful earrings for $25. I'm especially smitten with the bows. Bows are very 1940s to me - I wonder if that's just me, or if it's a thing?

These are a little bit less ornate, for $20.

And these would be perfect with something modern and clean-lined, for $25.

Monday, December 15, 2008

this time last year

This was our tree - yes, it's draped in pink ribbon. Why not?
And these were the gingerbread cookies I was baking, and THAT was my brand new engagement ring.
I like to tease him that December 15th is the day he gives me shiny diamond rings. But seriously, the year went by so fast. Next year we'll be married and getting ready for Bridesmaid Chloe's wedding.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

the cookie project

I haven't totally committed to this yet, but one of my crazy projects might be favors. I've changed my mind a few times already, so I know better than to say for sure. That's the thing about a long engagement - lots of time to get good and crazy.
I always like edible favors, and I suspect that the leftovers always go to good use. At first I thought I'd order boxed truffles, slap some ribbon on there and call it a day. Then I read some bride blogs. Let me tell you, you ladies are not helpful. Well, you ARE. But helpful in the I-could-so-do-that way, not the simplify-my-wedding way. I don't know how else I can explain my fervent desire to bake cookies for our favors.
This could be kind of a trick, since I want to bake them myself. Just me. No help. The recipe I have in mind came from my grandma Julia, who passed away when I was seven. (Yes, both our names are Julia. For reals.) It's a chewy ginger molasses cookie, and everyone who's tried it has ended up being my friend. I'm not going to post the recipe, but if you want it e-mail me at eventualwedding at gmail dot com. See, then we can be friends.
Anyway, the thing about baking cookies - even for a smallish wedding - is the quantity. We need probably 3-400 cookies, and I want not to be stressed the week of the wedding any more than necessary. So a little while ago I did a stability study to find out how long can I freeze the baked cookies before they change in taste? I made a big batch of cookies and froze them by the half dozen, to be sampled every week for a while. The answer, sadly, is that I can't freeze them without a discernable freezer taste. But I can freeze the dough, so it's not off the table just yet.

A Very Remix Christmas

Happy weekend, chicks. This morning I'm baking Christmas cookies while DJ buys stamps for our shared holiday cards. It feels very Christmassy around here. Sounds that way, too. Do you hear what I hear?

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Friday, December 12, 2008

loop de loop

I stupidly did not save the source for this photo - is it yours? I wish I could remember where I found it, because I want to know how to do that. Not for wedding, for Christmas. I think quilled paper ornaments would be a blast to make (for the first dozen or so), and really pretty to decorate a wrapped gift. Not to mention the marvelous economy of using paper scraps that would otherwise be thrown out, right?

That is how I will sell it to DJ - which is totally unnecessary, he's so impressed by my thrifted silver and free wedding shoes that I could buy any number of craft supplies without him blinking twice. (Ahem, Gocco.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

firstname lastname

We all get to it at some point. The big question: do I change my name or not? Frequently there's another option: will he change his name or not?

When DJ and I were engaged last time, nearly a decade ago, I assumed that I would just change my name. But somewhere in those ten years I grew more attached to my name.

We briefly discussed changing his name, or changing both our last names, but quickly ruled that out. DJ is named for his father and grandfather, all sharing the same first and last names. He also comes from a close extended family, and that identity is important to him.

I'm not particularly attached to my actual name; it's nothing special, and I don't particularly identify with my family of origin. But I've had that name for going on three decades, and I'm uncomfortable with leaving half my name behind for a whole new one. At the same time, I'd like for DJ and I to share the same name, and I'm thrilled to be a part of his wonderful family. (Seriously. I often joke that I am marrying him for his family.)

So, what's left. Hyphenation. Hyphenation would give me a long and consonant-filled name, but it would be easy for me to remain Julia Remix professionally while having the option of Julia Remix-J or Julia J in my personal life.

Also, hyphenated names always make me think of Dynasty and Alexis Morell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan. (Though I guess hers were not hyphenated so much as daisy-chained.) So until the novelty wears off my old-new name will make me giggle.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

luck luck luck

A few days after the replacement shoes arrived, I was paying bills and noticed something suspicious in my checking account. A credit for $64.99, attributed to my banking institution.

Some time ago, they started a program where you could enroll your debit card for the possibility of the bank "picking up the tab." Sure, I thought. Why not. It would be nice if they bought my coffee, right? Well, that never happened, and I forgot about it. Until I was paying bills and had a good chunk of change returned unexpectedly.

Oh, yes. My bank bought my wedding shoes - specifically, round TWO of wedding shoes. If I put any importance on these things, I'd say the universe was wholly in support of my marrying DJ. Right down to financing my footwear.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

this old thing?

So, hey. I fell under a rock there for a few days. Believe it or not, I took these photos on Thanksgiving afternoon, just before DJ's parents arrived. Time flies when your job is exploding.

I took the opportunity (guests, holiday dinner) to do a sort of floral dry run. These aren't the actual flowers we'll have for the eventual wedding, but they are flowers. They were what Trader Joe's had at 4 p.m. the day before Thanksgiving, but aren't they pretty? I still say it's hard to make flowers look bad.
I think they came together very nicely, in an assortment of thrifted silver things. Later I served coffee from a fancy silver coffee and tea set, more from the floral container collection. I'll have my use out of these babies by the time the wedding comes around.

Here are those prints I was hyping a while ago, hung neatly on level by my very handy guy. He also makes fantastic mashed potatoes, vacuums, and scrubs the nasty dishes. No, you may not have him.

Monday, November 24, 2008

merry and bright

A few weeks ago DJ was talking about sending cards this Christmas. Funny to me, because I think this is one of the things that changed with being engaged. I've sent cards myself in past years, but now we will send them together, and he has a list of names to add to mine.

DJ liked the top set, while I chose the ones with trees. I like the cards a lot, but not so much the envelopes. The blue cards came with plain white envelopes while the trees came with silver striped envelopes.
The cards are the same size, so I did a switch. I'll use the silver for the blue cards, and I made red ones for the trees, to match the script. This would have been easier with a template, but oh well. I just traced around the silver, added margins by eye, and started cutting.
I may or may not line both sets with silver paper. Both of those are from my $1/roll Martha Stewart stash. I particularly like the woodgrain, I'm leaning that way.
I do like some tacky faux-woodgrain. This is one corner of our dining room table (which is nearly always housing some wedding project these days.) It's laminate from 1963, and boy did they love their faux-woodgrain then. This table was the first thing DJ and I bought together, and I had a hard time with the commitment of owning something jointly. I got over it. Now we have a dog and some other furniture and we're sending holiday cards with silver woodgrain lining.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

moth love

One of my bridesmaids would love anything from this shop. She has said she would love to have something to wear in her curly hair, and one of these headbands would fit the bill.

Me, I'm too plain for feather headbands. The wildest I get is giraffe-patterned slingbacks with my beige trousers and turtleneck. So I live vicariously.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

winter trees

Whoops, that wasn't supposed to be a mini-break. Work kind of exploded (kind of, not literally - although in my field that is occasionally a possibility) and I haven't had much energy at the end of the day.

Anyway. Do you need a gift for someone just like me? Are you decorating on the cheap and totally enamored of Mad Men and all things 1960's? Do you think it would be totally exhausting to live with me? (Okay, that's unrelated. Check yes.)

Last year I bought a series of three Giclee prints from modernarteveryday. I framed them and DJ hung them level on a blank white wall. Of all the miscellaneous stuff and artwork in our house, those three prints get the most compliments. (Photos from MAE's Etsy shop.)

They are also less expensive than they look - all three prints for either $25 or $40, depending on size (if I remember correctly). A gift certificate to a framing store (Michael's, JoAnn Fabrics, Ikea, Hobby Lobby, Target...) would be a very nice addition to the box.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

extra, extra!

The replacement shoes came - and they fit! I think maybe the 9's would have been too large after all. Whew. I may still have my shoe guy stretch the toe box for comfort, but it's not strictly necessary.

Please ignore my hideous veiny feet and obvious need for a pedicure. Also the crappy photography. Why is it so hard to take a picture of your own feet?

silver baron

Still life: silver with dog.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I like cake, I like cake

To say that I like cake would be an understatement. I love cake. I don't think life without cake would be worth living. I'm really excited about tasting wedding cake samples. For the record, I have only very briefly considered baking my own wedding cake.

I bake frequently, usually 2-3 times a week. Coffee cake on weekends, lemon-yogurt cake with lemon curd and whipped cream, ginger pear molasses cake, flourless chocolate cake, cranberry lemon olive oil "bread," apricot ribbon yellow cake...
Of all those cakes, the only evidence I can find on my hard drive is this. It's a meat cake. A cake made of meat. Meat loaf, actually. Made for my brother's birthday, when he turned 19. Filled with barbeque sauce, frosted with mashed potatoes and ketchup. After his birthday dinner we did the whole singing and cake bit, and he cut into his cake. Hey, he said. Wait - is this...? JULIA!!!! Hee.

Then I brought out the real cake, which was caramel banana with vanilla filling and caramel buttercream frosting. Much tastier - although my meatloaf recipe made a surprisingly decent layer cake, if you're into that sort of thing. My brother ate it, anyway.
With all those cakes, you'd think I'd have a cake knife, but I don't. Depending on the cake, I use a bread knife or a steak knife. I know, classy. A few days ago I bought this set, primarily to cut and serve wedding cake but also to save my steak knives for steak in the future. (Or meat cake.) They're vintage sterling silver in Oneida's Damask Rose pattern. DJ has started calling me the Silver Baron.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

waiting for the other shoe to drop

Sooo. We have a problem. I ordered these shoes:
These were delivered:

Not an acceptable substitute.

Normally this would be a small setback requiring only a quick exchange, but I bought the very last pair in my size (9) and the only remaining sizes are 6.5 and 8.5. AND, they are now twice as expensive as they were on Friday night.

After 45 minutes on the phone with India, they still did not have my size in stock. In fact, my size has been and is still missing from the entire internet. They were happy to refund my money and let me buy the 8.5's - at the new higher price. Gentle readers, I was not very pleasant to some poor customer service manager several time zones away.

Eventually it was agreed that as this was Amazon's screwup, they would let me buy the 8.5's at the lower price and I would return the substitute 9's. Which leaves just one small problem: I wear a 9M, not 8.5M. I have a few pairs of 8.5's, but mostly 9's. What odds do I have of making these work? I'm picking up some boots from my shoe guy on Saturday. Do you think he can stretch them a half size for me, or am I out of luck? Any recommendations?

My short buddy here was very interested in the shoes and camera. He thinks all the bright lights and shiny objects are just for him, which is generally correct.

ghost town

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old things repurposed

One of my future projects, which may be very much in the future, is to bring a little Paul Lowe into my living room.
For a short time I thought I'd buy several dozen vintage doilies and assemble them into table runners for the eventual wedding. I thought that would play well with the blowsy vintage barny-ness. But once I realized I probably needed 500 doilies that didn't seem like such a hot idea anymore. 500 of anything is a lot, especially if you can't just order a box online somewhere.

But curtains, maybe. Our living room curtains are very much like those above - lineny, sheer, and very plain. Well, here. This is one end of our living room. Yes, that is a half-mannequin wearing a sarong. What can I say, I like simple furniture and weird accessories.

I asked DJ a while ago if he minded doilies on the curtains, and he looked slightly confused. No, he said, Why would I?

I know, I have it good. He lets me do anything I want to our house, usually does the heavy lifting, then later gives me all the credit.

Monday, November 10, 2008

here and there and everywhere

If you need more Julia Remix (doubtful!) you can also find me at Elizabeth Anne Designs this week. I'm sorry to say that I worked much harder on those posts than I ever do on the ones here. I need accountability, it's a fact.

curtain of flowers

This is a great idea, stringing flower heads on fishing line. It looks like these are under a huppah, and real flowers. These were probably strung on-site by the florist then anchored with a bit of hot glue. If I were going to do exactly this, it would need to be done the day of. Gorgeous, but not practical at all for this girl, sans florist. I can't add even one thing that must be done by me on the day of.

(credit: me!)
This is our ceremony space. Nice caution tape, eh? I've had a hard time thinking of how to delineate the top of the aisle, without an arbor or altar or , you know, aisle. But I think that this flower idea could work. If I use silk flowers, they can be pre-strung. Probably no one will notice.
DJ suggested stringing them horizontally instead of vertically, so that they can be stretched between the two trees. And instead of anchoring directly to the trees, tying the monofilament to dowel rods which can be attached with bungee cords to the trees. The bungees can be covered by wreaths or ribbon or something. Easy up, easy down. I can picture it, kind of - a loose curtain of flowers spanning the gap between those trees. Maybe tighter in the center and diffusing at the edges.

I like this idea. I think I'm going to add it to my project list. Should I write a how-to, or is it pretty self-explanatory?