Monday, August 31, 2009

more down than up

Liz asked how I am feeling as the wedding comes closer. Well, Liz. To be honest, this is not the easiest week. Saturday was the deadline for RSVP cards, and there were several disappointments. Several people I have considered dear friends never replied at all. Which has made me feel a little delusional about the state of those relationships.

(I realize that I may be taking it all too seriously. Don't worry, I am not doing anything about it. Compounding awkwardness is never the answer.)

We did hear from my grandma, finally, after five weeks of waiting. My estranged father's mother. We have been close in the past, until I stopped speaking to my father - although she did come to my bridal shower. For the wedding, she checked "decline." No note. I know exactly why, and it is a sad thing. All of it.

Things are still difficult with my mom. It's sad and embarassing, and I'm spending all kinds of time trying to schedule the wedding day so the difficulties won't be apparent to everyone else. Because I don't want to feel difficult and sad on my wedding day.

I'm having a hard time reconciling those relationship woes with the happiness and excitement of having rings, a marriage license, and exactly the right person for me. That's how I'm feeling.

license, rings, ceremony

On Friday DJ and I went to the Lake County courthouse to apply for our marriage license. There were two other couples ahead of us in line, one obviously pregnant. They asked how the Saturday courthouse ceremonies worked. The sheriff behind the desk replied that first everyone arrested Friday night posts bail. Then the judge is available for marriage ceremonies. There is a little bit of romance in that, I suppose.
My wedding band arrived last week, and I tried it on for fit. It's perfect. DJ's hands are so large that he's ordered his in the largest size available, and is still having it made nearly a full size larger. His great grandfather, so they say, wore a wedding ring big enough to pass a quarter through the center - although he was only five foot five. I love family lore.
We went to my boss' wedding on Saturday, under the first sunny skies all week. Between ceremony and reception we wandered Lincoln Park, where a woman offered to take our picture. Well, most of our picture. I like it anyway.
I was a good guest and a terrible wedding spy, observing more than snapping my camera. They are sweet together, and it was a good party. I meant to take pictures, but it didn't seem right at the moment and I really enjoyed just being a guest.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

books and their covers

DJ has been watching me do crazy things for months now. Like covering books in kraft paper. In a bit of kismet, I found this bit of validation just as I finished faux-titling my set.

Except my writing with a paint pen was a little more haphazard than these.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Julia gets help

I am the girl with all of the projects. I haven't even told you about some of them yet because I was afraid. We have friends and family to help, but I wasn't sure how smoothly that would run without some serious planning from me. I've actually ranked them so that some could be jettisoned from the plan, if necessary.

A few weeks ago DJ's mom (who early on volunteered to coordinate the day) admitted that she was worried. Worried that she wouldn't be able to see the ceremony from inside the barn. Our ceremony is (knock on wood) outdoors. DJ's mom. This was not okay! Our wedding was turning into a Cindermama situation, which is a lousy way to start with the in-laws.

Fortunately I'd been talking to Elizabeth of Anticipation Events in Chicago. The first thing I knew about her was that she writes a really friendly, professional e-mail. The second thing was that her resume is impressive. I mean, really impressive. Don't take my word for it, go look. I'm sure it's true, she also gave me references. References. She's done some big stuff, my little wedding is not going to be any challenge. (Although I did send her a five page document of instructions. I was honestly surprised to hear from her after that, but I did - less than a day later.)

She made the haul out to see the Barn on a Saturday, to take notes and ask astute questions, and I feel so much better now. I mentioned lemons, she said to bring a knife and she'd chop them. I mentioned candles, she asked if I knew the burn time. Love that. It took her a matter of minutes to charm the socks off the Barn's manager, who tends to be... not charming.

I've held off on talking about most of my vendors until I see how it goes. I'd rather not mention them if it goes badly, you know. But Elizabeth already did half of her job - I feel relaxed and excited. Full of anticipation, like the name says.

Anyway, I'd like to do something nice for Elizabeth. If you were my day of coordinator, what sort of gesture of appreciation would make you forget the five-page e-mail?
Yesterday the project that has been slowly killing my soul for two years (but especially the last two months) finally wrapped. Reports signed, party attended, files archived.

It worked out neatly at the 30 day mark - but I had nothing to do with that, I would have loved to have been clear of it a long time ago.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is - hey, internet! I've missed you! I have so much to tell you!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Kid B turns 21 and learns an important lesson

Last night we celebrated Kid B's 21st birthday. He is a trusting kid - he left his Facebook open during the party. Bad move, Kid B! Several of us took advantage of the situation.
Fortunately he was too busy enjoying his birthday cake to be overly concerned. Happy birthday, Kid B! May you never again forget to close your browser!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

DIY thank you cards

About a month ago I made thank you cards. Lots and lots of them. With lined envelopes, of course. I love sending paper cards. Writing them feels a little decadent, and opening the mailbox to a pretty envelope makes my day. Some of my friends send wonderful mail, so I have a set standard already.
I again used the pewter design from our invitations, and a calligraphed "Thank You" drawn by my talented friend Amy. Then it occurred to me to snag our return address from our keepsake invitation envelope.

There's an easy trick to that kind of piracy: take a high-quality digital photo, as straight-on as you can. Then use any photo editing software to up the contrast and brightness until you have a clean image of the text. Amy didn't mind because it saved her a bit of (unpaid) work; don't assume your calligrapher will feel the same way! I definitely suggest asking permission first. A few Gocco screens and much embossing powder later, I was very excited about writing notes. Which made it easier to knock the shower ones out right away. There's a small trick to the embossing, too. Right after a Gocco press, shake embossing powder over the wet ink. Flick off the extra, and set it aside. When you run out of table space, fire up the embossing gun for the whole batch.

What did you do for thank you notes? Do you think it's impolite to print Thank You on the front? Some people do. You can say so, I don't mind - I'm still blissed over the calligraphy.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

an odd set of angles and uneven sides

Now and then I hesitate to share my favorite songs because I'm afraid that they'll become less mine. Then I remember that I'm not all that on the edge of things.

Aberfeldy - Love is an Arrow.

Friday, August 14, 2009

form over function

We had to change a small piece of the plan this week. A while ago DJ asked our caterer if she could put together an iced tea and lemonade table to have out before the ceremony. We were thinking that in September (even late September) you never know what you'll get for weather, so a cold beverage might be nice. She's fantastic, always quick on the yes. So, yes. We can have a table of drinks, and she'd be happy to coordinate the rentals.

This is what I was thinking:

Or possibly this:

But! This is the type of container available for rent:
Full bride stop. Oh no, I said to DJ. That will never do. I'm such a snob lately. But really, I wouldn't want these for a party at my house either. Does that make it any better? Probably not. At any rate, we're working on a new, less insulated plan.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

liberal conservative

My mom thinks that I am too conservative. I am not sure how it happened, but it has. It's especially surprising because I was raised by conservative, religious parents. No jeans, skirts above the knee, or two piece swimsuits.

My mom would say that she really only needed a good pair of navy trousers, a pair of khaki pants, a black skirt, and various primary colored sweaters. She meant it, but the story her closets tell now is different. Vibrant and interesting. A strong shift in perspective.

Before my senior prom I secretly bought a pair of thong underwear, to avoid lines under my bias-cut dress. They were the granniest thong underwear possible. A full-coverage thong. My mom found it in my dresser and I thought it was the end of the world.

These days I wear two-piece swimsuits from time to time, often wear jeans, and hesitate about skirt length based mainly on my age, profession, and muscle tone. DJ and I live together and are not (yet) married. And my mother thinks that I am too conservative.

Which may be fair, since I don't go "out" often, wear turtleneck sweaters all winter, and don't mind the occasional grocery store ma'am. But all that was true ten years ago, too.

We are not relating well to each other right now. In the stages of life we are out of sync. Sometimes I wonder if we would get along well if she were the same now as she was then. Probably not. I’m too liberal for the mother of my teens, and too conservative for the mother of my twenties. There must have been a moment when the intersection was perfect, but it passed. I feel bad about that, too.

Friday, August 7, 2009

I feel bad

I feel bad because I don’t really need these shiny wonderful gifts, but I really really want them. I would like to make a rule (arbitrary, of course) that any household with less than two full incomes may not give wedding presents with monetary value, because I feel bad.

I feel bad because after a hard-knocks sort of childhood, my mom is lavishing me with gifts. I don’t need gifts, but I am happy to have it all going in the right direction and the gifts are a tangible indicator. Still, I want her to spend money on herself and have the things she never had, so I feel bad.

I feel bad because everyone is buying new clothes because of the wedding. I want to tell them that it’s okay, they can come as they are. Of course they are excited and want to be shiny and new and they can make their own adult decisions. But I feel bad.

I feel bad because my single friends are celebrating my extraordinary luck in finding DJ. Which is great, it was amazing luck. But I already have the prize, and it would be okay to celebrate something that was not a line in the sand between us, so I feel bad.

Anyone else feel bad? I’m too cheap to pay for therapy at the moment, but some commiseration would be nice.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

ladies' luncheon: bake me a cake!

I have been making cookie dough and cakes and mashed potatoes with my old mixer. Actually, DJ makes the mashed potatoes. Our division of labor is usually based on talent, not fairness. His mashed potatoes are incredible. But I have a reputation for cake and cookies.
My mixer is a Sunbeam, probably from the late 60's. It came from a garage sale when I was setting up my first kitchen. The finish is wearing off the beaters a bit. It's been used a few times.
It's done a good job, but it's headed for the Goodwill. Because DJ's mom gave us the much-coveted Kitchen Aid. (DJ says mashedpotatoeswillbesomucheasierthaaaanksMOM!)
I love it. (Slightly less than I love DJ.) Everyone at the shower was shocked that I didn't already have one. Which I think means that I bake too much. Now, remember this! When I go for my dress fittings in September and it won't zip, this is what happened. Feel free to point and laugh.

ladies' luncheon: hostess gifts

I put together a little thank you for each of my bridal shower hostesses. They wouldn't let me help with anything at all, so I went shopping. Each bag had Philosophy Red Velvet Cake shower gel, pink pomegranate soap, and two fancy chocolate bars. I wrote a note on paper left over from printing wedding invitations: Thank you for the sweet shower... Enjoy these sweets with your next shower! I know, not original. And cheesy. But like I'm always saying while shamelessly copying, the classics are the classics for a reason. Also, I think I'm addicted to lining envelopes. Is there a support group for this?

Monday, August 3, 2009


Ladieeees. Not to belabor the point, but my sister sent over some pictures she took with her camera at the shower. And... hee.
Bloomers! See, I wouldn't lie to you.

ladies luncheon: great idea

One of my shower gifts was so sweet and creative that I had to share.
On a stack of recipe cards that match my kitchen (it's the details, right?) were handwritten recipes along with stories of their significance.

"The Best Chocolate Cake" was an office treat - and surprise, low in fat! "First Dinner Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust" was dessert for the first dinner she cooked for her husband while they were dating. "Monk Bread" was a family favorite, from a monastery in New Mexico. "Crazy Conductor Cappucino Brownies" carry fond memories of a choral conductor. "Grandma's Sugar + Spice Cookies" look very much like my Grandma Julia's molasses cookie recipe - I will have to compare them side by side.
It's a sweet idea. A little ::something borrowed:: for my kitchen!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

ladies' luncheon: memorable gifts

You may remember that my mom wanted to give me lingerie "for the wedding night." After a short conversation with her it seemed like we were on the same page. Some kind of sweet nightgown or slip, time of actual wearing TBD. Like this:
So I wasn't surprised to open a box from her to find a pile of white silk.
Nightgown! More see-through than I'd like, especially to open in front of DJ's young cousins and my grandma - but, okay!
Robe! Ah, that addresses the see-through issue.
But wait, there's a second box. The card said "from Mamoo and Papa," my grandparents. Both gone for years now. My mom started to tear up, so I assumed that this was a deeply sentimental gift.
I'm a deeply sentimental girl. Lower lip quivering and all. So you can imagine my surprise to find...
XL, transparent bloomers. What do you think about that, Julia?
(To be fair, XL is probably the correct size. For me. In BLOOMERS.)
Really. True story.
(All photos from my camera except the nightgown and bloomers. Source unknown for the nightgown. Bloomers here.)

ladies' luncheon

DJ's mom hosted a bridal shower for me on a rainy Saturday, with help from my maid of honor and one bridesmaid.
Friends came! Quite a lot of them. 23, I think - but that number may have included me. The thing nobody warned me about (although I kind of knew) was that the generosity would be totally overwhelming.
DJ's mom, K, and M worked really hard. Party planning is a real job. They tied forks and napkins in turquoise tulle, and even matched M&M's to the color scheme. DJ's mom must have spent hours shopping and cooking, and M was everywhere. Carrying gifts, gathering plates and glasses, offering to refill punch cups - I don't think she sat down for hours.
K arranged roses and carnations in mason jars with raffia wraps, scattered around with candles in more mason jars. She baked white and strawberry cupcakes with white or pink frosting and tiny wedding bands on top. She even made a playlist of music she knew I'd like.
It was beautiful.
I felt incredibly lucky, even before we touched the giant pile of gifts in the hallway.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


It's been a whirlwind week of boring, boring work- but today is my bridal shower. If no one shows up, I will of course let you know.