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Archive for the ‘love’ Category

For my first “thing,” I knew exactly what I wanted to tackle.  It’s been written on my to-do list for almost four months: “Complete Paul’s anniversary gift.”  You see, when our first anniversary came around on November 8, 2009, we decided to celebrate by taking a week-long vacation.  We agreed to exchange gifts at some point upon our return, given that they were under $15 (we blew everything else on the vacation!) and went along with the first-anniversary theme of “paper.”  Well, of course, life happened, and we never did end up exchanging gifts!

Over the past few months, I’d gathered the supplies to create a message in a bottle.  So tonight, I wrote out a love letter—in cursive, no less—in brown, archival ink on handmade paper I found at a stationary store called Pleasant Thoughts. Then, I filled an unusually shaped cork-stopped bottle (from The Container Store) with some sand-colored pebbles originally meant for one of those elementary school California Mission projects (from Michael’s).  Hehehe, well, I figured real sand would be way too messy!  For a romantic touch, I tied on a charm with an embossed key and the word “love” with some pretty red ribbon (also Michael’s).  It’s a fairly sentimental gift for Paul, but that’s what I was going for, since his wedding gift (an iPhone) was decidedly unsentimental.  I presented the message in a bottle to him this evening, and he loved it!  Now, where’s my anniversary gift?  ;o)

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Even though Paul and I decided to not exchange gits for Valentine’s Day—opting instead for cards and a fun night out—I have begun campaigning for this necklace for Valentine’s Day 2011.  The Heartstrings Necklace, designed by Lisa Leonard, is one of the cutest examples I’ve seen of custom-designed, dog tag–style jewelry.  You can add up to four heartstrings and 30 characters to the sterling silver disk, and finish it off with a dangling pearl, if you’d like.  She also has some cool leather cuffs for men and name-stamped spoons for babies.  Be sure to check out her creativity-inspiring blog, too.

As for tonight, Paul and I will proceed with the plan to see the movie Valentine’s Day, even though it has been universally panned.  (It was even graded “F” by Entertainment Weekly.)  I love that he lets me pick chick flicks on V-Day dates; plus, I’ve seen everything else that’s playing.  Ah well, with extremely low expectations, it should exceed them.  Happy Valentine’s Day, all!

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Bay Area–based photographer Jennifer Chaney braved mosquitos and a forecast of hail and wind to shoot her cousin’s wedding on Minnesota’s 10-Mile Lake.  Thankfully, the worst of the weather was overcast skies and light rain, allowing Jennifer to photograph the couple on and around the lake (plan B was inside a garage!).  I am so in love with this shot of them in a canoe—so much so I’m considering a lake-centric vow renewal in the future.  The rest of the photos are equally stunning; check them out here.

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A Year Ago

On November 8, 2008, I married my best friend, Paul. This past year has been absolutely amazing. We both turned 30; we bought a new condo; we traveled to Disneyland and Las Vegas. It’s incredible how much closer we’ve grown in 12 months—and how much our love has grown for each other. Paul is a man of God, of strength, of integrity—plus he’s great at laundry and dishes, and makes a mean tuna casserole. I am blessed.

On an entirely different note, planning a wedding was so much fun—certainly the biggest creative project of my life! I had always dreamed of being married in autumn, and November 8, which is my parents’ anniversary, just happened to fall on a Saturday. They’d been married for 33 years, and it seemed like a fitting tribute to them, as well as a “lucky” date for us. We booked the church we were currently attending, which was also the place we met when we attended its private high school. I decided on an usual timeline. We’d have the ceremony at the church, followed by a dessert reception. Then later in the evening, we’d have a sit-down dinner with just our families and the wedding party. It was the best way I could think of to celebrate with extended family and old friends (the guest list topped 300) as well as to slow down at the end of a long day and enjoy a more intimate setting with the people we’re closest to.

The color scheme was fall reds, browns, oranges, and yellows.  Kristy Rice and Momental Designs, who I discovered through some late-night Web surfing, created gorgeous hand-stamped save-the-dates, invitations, program covers, and favor tags.  I don’t know a lot about flowers, but the ladies at East Bay Flower Company took my fuzzy vision and made it come to life in bouquets, centerpieces, and on lanterns that lined the church aisle.  The cake by Katrina Rozelle was one of my favorite things—it was more beautiful than I could have imagined.  A chocolate and caramel cake, covered in chocolate ganache, wrapped in edible “ribbon,” and topped with real flowers. I knew I didn’t want a cake topper (I find them kind of cheesy), but I did purchase the Willow Tree “Together” figurine, which sat on the cake table among rose petals and candles.  The team from Barbara Llewellyn Catering whipped up all kinds of sweets and treats for the dessert reception, including a chocolate fountain, gourmet cheeses with crackers, homemade pretzels, kettle corn, cookies and petifores, a selection of candied nuts, a float station with personalized Jones soda (root beer, orange, and cream soda) and vanilla ice cream, a coffee and hot coco bar, and a candy buffet with build-your-own favors. The children were in heaven. We wrapped up the evening with a four-course dinner at Postino, an Italian restaurant housed in a gorgeous brick building covered in ivy. I had the most amazing swordfish and a chocolate souffle. It was the first time Paul and I had eaten, having chit-chatted through the entire dessert reception. Lastly, Jessamyn and Robert from Jessamyn Photography captured all the great moments on film. We just received our album, and it is awesome!

I didn’t have a wedding planner, so I just had to wing it. And I had SO many amazing friends and family members helping me out, from Melody making name tags for photo frames and Erin editing music to my mom making five million trips to World Market and Michael’s to all the bridesmaides assembling invitations and programs. It was like a larger-than-life craft project, and it was so much fun.

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My apologies to longtime blog readers.  This is a reprint from my old blog.  But I’ve been thinking about my grandmother a lot, and I wanted to share this tribute with new readers.  Written July 9, 2008.

GrandmaWedSmallMy grandmother passed away unexpectedly on May 29th. Amid all the excitement of photographer interviews, cake tasting, and invitation designing, the last month has been somber and surreal.

Days shy of her 84th birthday, Grandma was active and fiercely independent. She worked nearly full-time as a volunteer for the local hospital and major league baseball team, walked to the mall and grocery store when the weather was nice, and took cruise vacations and road trips to visit family and see new places whenever she had the opportunity. She was loving, giving, and adventurous. She was also a woman who lived her own way and spoke her own mind—and made no apologies for it. And that was something everyone she befriended came to love about her.

Thinking of Grandma, many things come to mind: Baseball. Her perfectly styled hair. The Sweet Tomatoes and Fresh Choice coupons she always clipped for me. Retro furniture. Jigsaw puzzles. Her impeccable handwriting and ridiculously prompt thank-you cards. Crystal napkin rings. The smell of burnt chocolate at her house (she lived near a chocolate factory). And the Christmas Eve celebrations we had at her place for many, many years. She’d make us a fabulous dinner, one of us would sneak a treat into her stocking, we’d open gifts (which always included savings bonds, socks, and See’s candy), and just spend the evening talking and laughing and having some of the best of times.

And, of course, I remember the dating pressure…

Ever since I broke up with my high school boyfriend, Grandma would ask about my love life and offer unsolicited advice and opinions. “Why doesn’t Michael come around anymore?” “You let a good one go.” “Aren’t there any available young men at that church of yours?” She once tried to set me up on a blind date with a twentysomething she met at an Oakland A’s game. And one Valentine’s Day while I was away at college, she tucked a newspaper clipping about online dating services into my card.

It drove me nuts. I even schemed with a coworker about him posing as a new boyfriend at Thanksgiving dinner and acting so terribly my grandmother might lay off the dating encouragement for a while. Hehehe. (We never did it.) But I knew she meant well. Grandma wanted to see me happy. And the source of her life’s happiness was family—her husband, her sons, her daughter-in-law, her four grandkids, her siblings, and her sister-in-law-turned-best friend. She wanted these things for me, too.

I took Grandma out to lunch earlier this year and, knowing Paul and I were headed in the direction of marriage, I asked her questions about the love of her life. She told me stories I had never before heard—about meeting my grandfather (who passed away when I was 12); how as witnesses to a friend’s Reno wedding, they ended up eloping themselves; how they announced it at her sister’s wedding reception; how she was one of two girls in her senior class to marry before graduation. I listened, amused—but not surprised—by the image of my grandmother as a rebellious teenager. As she recalled the memories, her eyes lit up and she laughed heartily, and I wondered why I hadn’t engaged her in these types of conversations before.

Preparing for the memorial service, my mom, dad, and sisters looked through Grandma’s albums, gathering the best photos for a display. Her love story played out in scrapbooks—handwritten notes, anniversary cards, event programs, and photos pasted onto yellowed pages. News of her young nuptials made the local papers, and she’d saved the clippings. And I saw the only “wedding” photo she owned: The newlyweds captured descending a staircase with their marriage license in hand.

I made myself a copy of that photo, and it’s been sitting on my desk ever since. I miss Grandma terribly, and I am overcome with sadness when I think about how she won’t be at my wedding. My mother told me that the day Grandma went into the hospital, despite being very ill, she kept asking about the wedding. She wanted to know about the colors and who was in the wedding party and everything. It seems she sensed she wouldn’t get to experience it herself. Wouldn’t ever see me, or any of her grandchildren, get married. Wouldn’t ever meet her great grandchildren.

The last time I saw Grandma was at my engagement party. I suppose that is appropriate. After years of dating inquiry, my status was very clear: I was in love with a wonderful man who made me happy, and I was going to spend the rest of my life with him. And it was clear that day that my grandmother was so very happy for me.

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