Archive for March, 2010

Over the weekend, I made a map to accompany our invitations (which are SO cool by the way – I’ll show you when they’re done). I wasn’t sure how to go about it, but I found this tutorial incredibly helpful. Basically I pasted an image from Google Maps into PowerPoint, then drew over it, added pertinent information, and deleted the map image.

This image is kind of lame with all the block-outs. But because this is happening at my dad’s house, I didn’t want to give away too much information in this public forum. It looks much better when there are words instead of big grey blocks, trust me.

I printed them four to a page so they’re about the size of a postcard. I just used plain white printer paper – people don’t need their map on fancy paper! Everyone figured out how to get to our Family Meet & Greet with nothing but an address, so I’m not too worried about the wedding. But because my dad’s house is kind of in the middle of nowhere, we thought a map would help.

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As Mike mentioned, our Family Meet and Greet Slash Shower was this past Saturday. I think it went really well. We had about 30 people there, and we heard a lot of compliments by the end. “This was a great idea.” “We had a good time, great job!”

Mike’s mom, aunt and dad helped us set up, and everyone was there by 2ish. We had tons of food (wish I took a picture to show you), and the room was perfect. My huge family was a little overwhelming to Mike’s much smaller family, I’m sure, but many thanks to everyone, especially my dad, for making an effort to get to know them.

The introduction game was a success. Everyone went along with it, and it seemed to be a good way to make sure everyone knew everyone else. The game also provided our only decorations (besides table clothes that we borrowed for free).

After everyone ate and we played our game, someone suggested we do gifts. As Mike mentioned, this was awkward for us. I was almost hoping to avoid opening gifts at the party, but a few people insisted. I know, we throw our own shower then get embarrassed about opening gifts. But whatever, it was uncomfortable ok? We did it anyway.

And boy were we spoiled.

It’s strange to ask for gifts and then sit there and open them all at once. But our families were unbelievably kind, and we can’t thank them enough. This is exactly why we’re choosing to honor our friends and family with the Unity Quilt – they give us so much love and support, and we never want to forget that.

I was nervous about this party, but I felt really good afterward. It was a really good idea and I recommend it to anyone.

I’ll leave you with this because aren’t my sisters gorgeous?

(Please note Kelli’s pregnant belly. She’s so adorable!)

PS – Total, this shower cost us $90.52. The room was free (thanks to Mike’s mom), food was $36.35 (our families really helped us out here), decorations were $20.85 (that was mostly for the candy), invitations plus postage were $25.84, and thank you card postage was $7.48 (we sent 17 from my stash of blank cards – they were all different!).

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“If I’m not mistaken, we gave you your wedding shower here. We all came into this room and gave you a golden shower.”

Michael Scott–regional manager, Dunder Mifflin.

Yesterday was our family meet-n-greet and wedding shower. Being a man, I have very little experience in the proceedings of a wedding shower. Men don’t go to wedding showers. We go to bachelor parties, and we go to weddings. So I had little to go on before the event. My expectations were that we would all hang out, eat food, Shannon and I would introduce our respective families, and then we’d go on our merry ways. As it turned out, I was pretty close. The one thing I missed was that people would bring us presents.

I’m a little uncomfortable receiving presents. Shannon confessed to me on the way home that she is too. I think it’s easy when you’re opening things in front of a couple of your family members, or when everyone is exchanging gifts. But to sit in front of a crowd of people (literally, there were 30 people watching us) and open presents, knowing that you didn’t get them anything, can be seriously awkward. Especially when you were only vaguely aware that people gave presents at a wedding shower in the first place. Obviously the “shower” in wedding shower should have been a give-away, since I’m pretty sure it doesn’t refer to some sort of cleansing ritual. But somehow I wasn’t prepared for the actual process of opening gifts from my entire extended family and Shannon’s much larger entire extended family.

After my initial discomfort, we got down to present opening. Our families were amazingly generous, and we got all kinds of cool stuff. Kitchen Aid cookware, a really cool hanging pan rack, bathroom coordinates (complete with toilet paper), sheets, some really cool dishes, fun games, a toaster, and lots of extremely nice cards and sentiments. I feel so truly blessed right now that Shannon and I both have such wonderful families.

One interesting gift-related tidbit. I’ll pick on my dad for a minute, because he’s a good sport. He’s single. He and my mom were amicably divorced about 5 years ago. He, along with my 21-year-old brother who is a broke college student, were the only ones in attendance that didn’t get us a gift. It doesn’t bother me at all. Hopefully it doesn’t bother him, because it’s totally fine. But I wondered why. I believe that, like me, he probably didn’t realize that a wedding shower was a gift-giving occasion. I bet my mom was invited to wedding showers all those years, and he wasn’t. She bought the gifts, went to the parties, helped plan the parties, and Dad stayed home to read the paper and watch the Tigers. He probably had no idea what the protocol was for the event. Isn’t it weird that there’s a whole subculture of wedding preparation that men are basically ignorant of?

Anyway, it was a great experience, and I’m glad I was able to take part in it. I feel so lucky to be marrying a woman who wants to share with me the procession of life. And the presents.

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Saturday is our self-hosted Family Meet and Greet Slash Shower. I’m a little bit nervous because not only are we the hosts, but we’re the guests of honor, too. That’s a lot of pressure! Make sure all the little details are taken care of AND be social the whole time. What if people are bored? It’s 100% our responsibility to remedy that. Our plan for the party is to encourage everyone to eat and mingle for awhile, then we’re going to say some thank yous and introduce everyone.

We came up with a sort of “game” I guess to introduce everyone. We bought 7 small glass vases at Goodwill that we’ll fill with miniature candy bars and place at the center of the tables. We’ll ask each person to pick their favorite candy from the bowl. Then we’re going to go around and introduce everyone (“This is my baby sister, Kelli”) and ask them a question based on the candy they chose. We figure that way everyone will know their name, their relationship to Mike or me, and a little something extra about them.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup – Would you rather be able to fly or be invisible and why?
Butterfinger – How would you spend a million dollars?
Snickers – What is one of your favorite hobbies?
Three Musketeers – What is your dream vacation?
Nestle Crunch – What was your favorite subject in school?

I hope it’s not lame…

The decorations for this shower cost us $20.85. $16.65 for the candy and $4.20 for decorative pieces of paper to place the vases on. The vases ($10) will be used at the wedding, too, so we’re counting those in that budget.

Fortunately our families are generously providing much of the food for the affair. They’re bringing: meatballs, potato salad, pasta salad, veggie pizza, cheese & crackers, punch, black bean salad, chips/salsa/guacamole, coffee and cake, plus all the plates, napkins, cups and cutlery. All Mike and I are bringing is some sort of dip, some fruit and water. We expect between 35 and 40 people, but I think we’ll have PLENTY of food!

No matter what, it’ll be fun to have both of our families together for a day.

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The last week and a half, I’ve been working on our Unity Quilt. It was pretty daunting at first, but thanks to Mike and his mom, a plan (sort of) has emerged, and I’m off and running. The first night I worked on it, I nearly had a mental breakdown. I just couldn’t figure anything out, and I kept making the wrong cuts, which I can’t afford to do with such limited fabric. Mike started helping me with some of the figuring, and he had a much better attitude about it. “I didn’t know quilting was so much fun. It’s all geometry and logic!” Uh huh.

Eventually I got on a roll, but then Oberon decided his new favorite place to hang out was my cutting mat.

He’s cute, but not a great helper. Despite that, I’ve made about six or seven of the 20 squares I need to make, so… progress. We’ve shown just about everything else on this blog (my dress, etc.), but I think I’ll save the quilt reveal for the wedding (and post-wedding on here, of course).

A sneak peak can’t hurt though.

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I’m kind of nervous. I don’t usually think about these kinds of things, but being in the food service industry has me wondering about the reactions people have to food in different situations.

We’re buying a sheet cake for our joint shower/family meet and greet. We figured since we’re not having cake at our wedding, we could do a simple sheet cake for the shower without playing out cake. But how do you order cake for a whole family and please everyone? People are picky about their cake. And a lot of places make pretty terrible cakes. I thought about making one, but I don’t really have time. Also, cake is not my strong suit. I’m not much of a baker anyway, but cake, especially when it needs to be decorated and look nice, is one of those things that i just don’t have the patience for. Decorating a cake is the only thing in my culinary education that I came close to failing, and the thought of all those frosting-covered spatulas and piping bags haunts me to this day. And I’m not even a huge cake fan to begin with. Just give me the ice cream.

Anyway, back to the point. We ordered a sheet cake from Costco yesterday. Since then we’ve been told that different Costcos have different systems, but at our Costco the cake ordering process is completely automated. There’s a kiosk with all the basic formats and options, and you just have to take a sheet, fill it out, and put it in a drop-box. It’s kind of weird to order a personalized item and not actually talk to the person making it. I knew that Costco wasn’t going to be catering to us on an extensive level. I didn’t imagine an “Ace of Cakes” type experience, where we end up with an incredible, one of a kind piece with moving parts and high explosives. But I thought maybe we’d at least be able to talk to a pastry chef and pick out our design. I suppose I trust Costco to get it right, but we don’t have anything to go by.

The whole process goes like this:

Step one: choose cake flavor (white)

Step two: choose cake filling (strawberry cream)

Step three: choose frosting (vanilla cream cheese)

Step four: choose design (rainbow with sunshine, since it was the cutest and least sappy)

Step four: choose writing (“Shannon and Mike”)

Step five: choose pick up date and time

Step six: drop paper order form into the slot

Step seven: show up at designated date and time to pick up cake

That’s it. No handshake, no pre-paying, no nothing. I don’t see why we wouldn’t get our cake in two weeks, but for some reason I can’t rest easy about it. I’m envisioning showing up and picking up a cake addressed to Sharron and Mike, or Shannon and Mark. Or having a chocolate cake instead of white. Or showing up and hearing “cake? What cake?” Who knows what could happen? I realize that all those things could just as easily happen after ordering from the chef personally, but something about shaking hands with a man or woman in a white coat and toque would have made me feel better.

On the upside, our whole cake, with designing and decorating, is coming in under $20. For that price, I guess they have to keep the chefs baking and not talking to customers.

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I’m embarrassed. I started putting our Unity Quilt together, and realized there is one piece of unidentified fabric. We took pictures of every piece as it came in, and included the name of the sender. But one slipped through the cracks—no picture, no name attached to it. I’ve got nothing.

And of course now I can’t remember who it’s from. And I’m ashamed. My only excuse is that we got over 40 contributions, which is amazing. But I lost track of one. So I’m hoping whoever sent it is reading this blog and can help me out.

Did you send this? If so, I apologize profusely for forgetting and for not properly documenting it. Can you please let me know? Thanks!

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After we finalized our menu for the wedding, I thought it would be fun to use my stitching skills to make whimsical food labels. I think most of the cuisine will be self-explanatory, but these signs were easy and cheap to make, and I think they’ll help the buffet table set up in a garage seem a little less… “industrial cafeteria line.”

This one is for the main taco bar:

It lists all the fun options: soft shells and hard shells, chicken and beef, spanish rice, guacamole, salsa, refried beans, lettuce, onion, tomato, sour cream, cheese and enchilada sauce.

These smaller ones explain some of the sides:

Corn cake (or what some people call corn pudding, which is SO wrong), chips and salsa, guacamole, watermelon and cantaloupe, flautas, spanish rice, and black bean and corn salad.

And these are for our cupcake tower and ice cream bar:

The toppings for both (like sprinkles and such) will have to be self-explanatory since we’re not sure yet what all we’ll have, and I don’t want to wait to make a sign.

I wanted a random mix of colors and patterns because that’s sort of what we’re doing for the whole of our wedding decorations. Other than the cost of the embroidery hoops ($20 total), this project was free. I just used fabric left over from other projects and my array of embroidery floss. They are intentionally a little messy. For each one, I just started stitching without sketching or planning first. I wanted them to look very handmade. Some of them didn’t photograph great, but I think they’re all readable in real life.

When we set up the buffet tables, we’ll probably just prop these up or lay them near the food. Nothing fancy, just a little fun!

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Mike’s mom is making cupcakes for our wedding, and her idea is to make a tower of regular-sized cupcakes with a large one at the top. She asked if we’d like a cake topper, and even though I thought we wouldn’t, we decided to look around a bit for options. Turns out there’s not much out there that isn’t totally cheesy, traditional or ridiculous. We were about to give up because this was definitely not something we were too worried about, but today when we were in Michael’s, Mike spotted the perfect pieces for a topper.

My nickname for him is The Giraffe, and his nickname for me is Sunshine. These little guys were only 59 cents each, so for $1.18 we’ve got a cake topper. We figure we can just stick them into the top cupcake and voila! Adorable! Yes, they’re kind of silly and childish, but they’re fun and simple (and cheap!), so they fit our wedding perfectly.

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I don’t know the average age of marriage in America today, and I don’t feel like looking it up, but I’ve heard it’s much higher than it used to be. Which is strange because I swear to god everybody from my high school graduating class was married within five years. Many of my closest friends weren’t, but by the time my old classmates and I found each other on Facebook, they all had husbands and wives and broods of children. And now, at 29, almost all of my friends are married and two of my three YOUNGER sisters are married (the third to be married this summer). Plus I know several people in their young to mid-twenties who aren’t married and are freaking out about it.

So I don’t know if I buy this rising age of marriage thing. It may not be 18 anymore, but it sure seems to be lower than 25. Somebody suggested to me that it’s because of where I live, the midwest. In other parts of the country people aren’t in such a rush to find a spouse. And if that’s true, I think I’m living in the wrong state.

I have always held that I didn’t want to get married until at least 30. In fact, when I was with my ex and thought we’d eventually get married, on some level I was annoyed that I had met my mate so early (24). Turns out he wasn’t my future husband, so it was no problem, but then I met Mike soon after, at age 28. I’m excited to get married, and it would be silly to wait just because of some “age limit” I set for myself years ago. But it is a little funny that I’ll be missing my mark by only six months (I’ll be 30 this December).

What’s strange is that when I decided on 30 as my minimum age for marriage, it seemed so old and far away. Thirty. I mean 30 was so far in the future, 30 was mature and successful. By 30 I would have had plenty of time to do so many of things I wanted to do. By 30 I’d be a real adult. Thirty was, well, it was just so different in my mind than it is in reality.

This isn’t a diatribe about the dread of turning 30—I’m actually quite unconcerned by the prospect. And I do feel rather content with what I have accomplished thus far. It’s just so strange how our ideas about age change as we…age. The way I picture 50 right now is probably nothing like what 50 will actually be.

So when did you all think you’d get married? Are you glad you got married when you did? If you’re not married, have you passed the “age limit” you set for yourself? And of course, if you’re not married and never want to be, I’d love to hear about that too.

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