Thursday, December 28, 2006

Conflict diamonds

With the message of the movie "Blood Diamond" reverberating around the world right now, I'm getting a lot of letters about how to tell if your diamond is one of the 'conflict diamonds,' and where you can go to find non-conflict diamonds. Here's a great article from's jewelry expert, where you'll find terrific, educational links to help you out:

And if you're interested in naturally-colored diamonds, check out

While we're on the subject, look at the beautiful hues of colored pearls at I had the great fortune of trying some of these on, and they give a modern twist to a traditional wedding day jewelry look for moms, maids and brides.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

If you've gotten engaged this holiday season....

Congratulations! This is a very exciting time for you, and for your families, so start off the process right -- with a relaxed celebration that's all about happiness and not about planning. Invite your nearest and dearest over for dinner, or take everyone out to your favorite place, and soak up the joy that everyone's feeling right now. No need to freak out about the plans to come -- or the expenses -- since there's plenty of time for that later. Take lots of photos, perhaps using Adesso Albums ( to create a scrapbook/guestbook with notes from everyone in attendance.

Now's also the perfect time to start your gratitude journal, where you'll record all the bright moments during your pre-wedding time. Check it out at my site, along with all the books you'll need for an organized, budget-friendly wedding.

It was a beautiful Christmas, spent with my family, with Joe and with Joe's family -- great food, great company, and the gift of loved ones right there at the table. Can't ask for more than that. :)

As the year comes to a close, I thank you for visiting me here at my blog, for writing such wonderful letters to my site and through my wedding forums, and I wish you a happy, safe, and healthy New Year.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bridesmaids: how to donate your dresses!

The big trend today is for bridesmaids to donate their dresses rather than letting them collect dust in the back of the closet. Sure, you could hope to wear the dress again, or maybe get it tailored into a shorter style...but imagine the thrill of a high school girl who gets YOUR dress to wear to her prom.

Nonprofit organizations around the country collect "gently used" dresses or tuxedos in order to give low-income teens a chance to attend their high school proms in style. Check out these organizations:

Chicago: The Glass Slipper Project:
Los Angeles: The Cinderella Project:
Washington: The Fairy Godmothers:
Arizona: Fairy Godmothers of Flagstaff:
Ohio: Fairy Godmothers Inc.:

I will be donating my bridesmaid's dress from my brother's wedding to one of these groups -- so know that no matter where you live in the country or the world, you can arrange to send your dress or gown through the mail! Just check out their sites for details.

Benevolent holiday gifts

Charitable giving is a top trend this holiday season, so when I came across this one, I had to pass it along to you. Several years ago, while on a weekend visit out at my friend Jen's in Pennsylvania, she surprised me with tickets to see Jane Goodall in lecture. It was a fascinating evening, as Ms. Goodall was launching her new initiative to foster environmental and animal studies in schools. Now, her organization has an auction going on -- closing at 5pm EST tonight -- So if anyone on your list is a fan of Ms. Goodall's, perhaps this is the perfect place to get a gift.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Donate your dress

If you're not planning to vacu-seal your wedding dress after the big day, consider donating it! Bethany and her team at have set up a terrific program where you donate your dress, and 20% of the consignment sale through their partners goes to the charity of your choice...and it may qualify as a tax donation. So check out this terrific program at I'm searching right now for a group that collects bridesmaids' dresses that will be given to inner city teens to give them stylish prom gown choices. I'll report back on that one as soon as I find it. Busy day today...I've set up charity events for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Red Cross, and others through the fabulous gift store chain -- it's my new favorite place for personalized (modern or traditional) wedding, shower, and engagement invitations, as well as amazing gift items for bridesmaids.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ready for Christmas

Tonight, Joe and I decorated his Christmas tree....I'd gone for coffee while he was finishing up with the strings of lights, and as I was walking back in the winter night air, with two coffees and way too many donuts, it finally felt like Christmas to me. I was bringing 'gifts' to someone I love very much, to a warm apartment and boxes of Christmas ornaments, and the biggest smile grew on my face. Never mind that a heavy ornament clanged against Joe's new crystal ornament (I would have been devastated if it broke) and that Tigger decided to chomp on Joe's hand was the lovely snapshot of holiday happiness that surpassed what I hoped it would be.

We're getting tons of stories in through the 'Best Marriage Proposal' contest, and I love the creativity of these proposals. It's already our best collection ever -- a proposal in Canada at a winter resort, excellent use of the town firemen and the Santa who drives around each Christmas Eve, a cheerleading squad, and more. Last year, two of our couples were featured in People magazine, and we're sure that the media will be calling for our latest stories. Wherever they end up, our couples are very, very happy right now. So spread the word and get your friends to send in their stories. We'll be sharing the best of them on

Right now, I'm in bliss-ville after our lovely holiday evening, and the Rob Lowe movie 'When Things Go Wrong For Mitch Albom' (or something like that) is on in the background. I'll settle in here by the fireplace with a good book for an hour or two and then check our scores because we're in the Fantasy Football playoffs. We may have beaten the #3 guy, which puts us up against the #1 guy next week. And the #1 guy cheats. So let's hope that justice prevails and we knock him out as well. Now that would be a Christmas Miracle. And perhaps a movie of the week starring Rob Lowe next year. He's not turning anything down these days, apparently.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

National average wedding expenses

The numbers are in! According to, here are the national averages of what wedding couples are spending for The Big Day:

Wedding Attire: $2,606
Wedding Ceremony: $2,525
Wedding Favors & Gifts: $1,121
Wedding Flowers: $1,969
Wedding Jewelry: $2,066
Wedding Music: $953
Wedding Photography & Video: $3,688
Wedding Reception: $14,169
Wedding Stationery: $847
Wedding Transportation: $410

I'm not sure what people are spending $2,525 on for their ceremonies -- perhaps decor is included -- but I AM sure that you can beat these numbers with my book 1000 BEST WEDDING BARGAINS. Just looking at this list, I'm thinking, "Nah, you can do better than that!" for a few categories. Some of my top tips for wedding budgeting:

1. Make a Priority List, and devote a larger percentage of your budget to that. If you're thinking, "We want our guests to eat well at the reception," then you'll devote a bigger chunk of your budget to that. If you're not dreaming about custom invitations, then go to to get invitation-making software for almost nothing. That money can then be shifted into your catering, or as a simple big savings.
2. Get a realistic view of what things cost. Start with, where you can plug in your zip code and get category averages for your area, and do lots of research on wedding vendors' price sheets. Few will post their prices online, so you'll have to contact them for a consultation. Consider this time spent to be an investment in your wise money handling.
3. Don't cut too far, or go too far in trying to get things for free. Aim for the middle range, since quality service and products do cost a fair amount.

In other news, I taped my first segments with The Wedding Podcast Network (, and I'm very excited about our upcoming shows. The program is called 'Here Come the Moms,' and we're focusing on everything the mothers of the bride and groom need to know to help plan the wedding, learn the new etiquette rules for moms, de-stress and look great on the wedding day. We're focusing especially on communication, problem resolution, and making sure you look FORWARD to the future after the wedding day. My co-host Holli Ehrlich is delightful, and we have the next ten shows waiting to go. So log on to the WPN and listen to some of the masters like Sylvia Weinstock and Preston Bailey share their inspirations as well. Our show launches next month, and we'll be taping live from the 4PM Wedding Salon at Gotham Hall in New York City in April. (Big thanks to Joe and Adam for circuitously hooking me up with this opportunity!)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Great job, Maren!

My friend Jill's daughter Maren has just embodied the holiday spirit. This is a beautiful girl, whose ringlet blonde hair has always been a focus of compliments (and, I'm sure, some envy in the schoolyard). I just received an e-mail from Jill with a photo of Maren, her hair cut into a cute, little bob.....she donated her hair to Locks of Love, an organization that accepts haircut donations to make wigs for cancer patients. And shortly afterward, Maren dropped a dollar into the Salvation Army bucket.

They say that volunteering is at an all-time high, with one in four Americans donating their time -- not just their money -- to their favorite charitable causes. Kids and teens are the top demographic for this. Plus, charitable wedding registries are on the rise. The nightly news might show devastation as our regular media diet, but as long as there are wonderful people like Maren out there, as long as those 'thinking of others' surveys show a rise in benevolence, that's a very good sign for the future. The holiday spirit is alive and well.

Our bouncing bundle of joy

Joe and I are proud to announce the arrival of our new hamster, Tigger. He's super-tiny, a bundle of energy, and FAST. He seems quite happy in his palatial new home, complete with straw-thatched cottage, lots of cotton and wheel, and the ability to sleep without half a dozen other hamsters climbing on his head. Joe had to actually pick me up in the store so that I could see into the high-up hamster tank, but we made our choice between the sleeping Tigger and the lumbering, greasy-looking, larger hamster in the corner who seemed to be having hallucinations of some kind. Our little guy likes carrot chips and it's only a matter of days before he'll be sleeping in Joe's hand.

Today's been a pure writing day -- I'm doing 8 articles for and I just delivered the entries for the E-Mail a Day program through that site as well. And publicity has started for my new-to-launch book, "Renewing Your Wedding Vows." [If you're one of the couples featured in this book, your copy will be on the way to you shortly!] So it's back to work right now....

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The new anniversary gift list

Traditional gift etiquette has long offered a list of gifts that were appropriate for wedding anniversaries by number. The 1st anniversary was paper, 2nd was cotton and so on...

Now, there's a new, modern list for gift-givers to consider as an alternative to the traditional items (which, of course, some people still stick to.) I scrolled through this modern collection of numbered gift suggestions and found myself laughing. Some of the entries are just so...unexpected. For instance, you have to be married 47 years to get books? But on your 44th anniversary, you get groceries. Don't worry, though, because on your 41st anniversary, you get LAND, so you have someplace to put the books and the groceries. And the cotton and paper everyone else got you years ago.

Just for fun, and perhaps for gift ideas, check out the going list:

And let me know what you think. I'd love your suggestions for some of those blank spaces.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Your Wedding:The Ultimate Bliss Trip

Engagement season has begun, and several million new brides- and grooms-to-be have started shopping for their wedding planning books. We're getting a great response for our new downloadable e-book and guided meditation MP3s at It seems, quite wisely, that today's brides and grooms know that having a plan to stay relaxed is just as important as having a plan to create the perfect wedding. So we offer our guide to keeping your cool and enjoying the process more. Kerstin Sjoquist and I invite you to check out our newest project and add it to your arsenal of wedding prep materials. Body & Soul magazine has just announced that it will include this project in an upcoming issue, and we're thrilled about that!


My brother's wedding

My brother was married this past weekend, and I'll never forget walking down the aisle and seeing my little brother standing there in his tuxedo. He mouthed an 'I love you' as I approached, and after the ceremony told me the same thing. I thought I'd be all weepy at my brother's wedding, but I really wasn't. I was focused on the fact that my father -- who just got a pacemaker a few weeks ago -- was in attendance, and that my mother -- who overcame unbelievable odds to survive her cancer -- looked so beautiful in her gown and was there too....and that Joe was there looking so handsome, and my mother's sister, who hadn't seen her since before she got sick. For me, it was all about who was in the room. Who embodies love. Who embodies family. I have always said, in person and in all of my books, that it's all about the people you love. I won't share details of the wedding, since I was not there in a working capacity but rather as the sister of the groom. And Joe gets bigtime angel wings for doing my family the favor of driving 6 hours up to New Hampshire to deliver this bridesmaid and my father's oxygen tanks, my parents' medicine, etc. He was an integral part of my parents being able to attend -- they were able to fly in because of him. And my parents and I are supremely grateful...

Now that the wedding is over, it's back to work. I start my wedding podcast on Thursday, I'm doing new online content for New Jersey Bride that's due next week, I'm lining up appearances, and the finished version of "Renewing Your Wedding Vows" just arrived the day before I left for the wedding. It's GORGEOUS, with cover quotes from Sasha Souza and Diane Forden. I'm so proud of this brings such a happy thing into the world -- people celebrating GOOD relationships and successful commitments. I love my job. I love what I have the opportunity to create. And I love that somewhere, a couple will see this book, pick it up and use it to plan their own vow renewal -- and their kids will learn about what makes a marriage work. I'm in the inspiration business...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A very happy Thanksgiving!

The leftovers are all gone, the situps and walking lunges have begun, and my Christmas cards are already written out. It's the holiday season, officially. Right now, I have the Rockefeller Center tree lighting on in the background, Joe's Christmas gifts are all wrapped (after some very laughable attempts to origami-fold the gift boxes they sent with the gifts...there I was, in my pajamas and fuzzy socks, giggling at how I gave up on the first one and just package-taped it together. Attempts #2 and #3 went much better!). We finalized the cover copy for my book THE BRIDE'S DIPLOMACY GUIDE, lined up some dates for my NBC appearance, and set the start date for my Wedding Podcast Network talk show.

With engagement season underway, I'm starting my weekly site recommendations with a reminder of a site that I've already mentioned somewhere in this blog. But I think you'll find it helpful:, where you can plug in your zip code and get reports on the averages of what people in your area are spending on their weddings. Just for fun, plug in cities where you don't live, just to see what's going on there.

And don't forget to visit me at, where I answer real couples' wedding-planning questions. You'll also get answers from the thousands of other in-process brides and grooms who are generously sharing their ideas there. On January 1st, I start my e-mail a day program with them, so be sure to sign up for that one as well. I'll be throwing coupon codes in every now and then, and selecting participants to receive free books.

And finally, I am SO proud of my book The Bride's Gratitude Journal. It's one of those Rudy-type situations. Lots of houses said no, I self-published it, and it's doing wonderfully on the market. I hear that wedding coordinators are getting it in bulk to hand out to their clients. My goal with that one was to get the bride to focus on what's going WELL with the wedding plans, keep her stress low, and create a positive keepsake. It's out there, and people are using it. Looks like I got my Christmas gift early this year. It truly is the holiday season now...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Choosing your colors -- a great interactive tool! has launched their amazing color palette interactive feature, where you can click and drag a wide range of different colors to see how they look next to each other. So try out your wedding colors here:

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Last week was a blur

My editors couldn't tell, I'm sure, but I was running on fumes last week. My Dad was in the hospital for the entire week, and as hard as it is to worry about his care, it brings back some tough memories from when my Mom was in the ICU for 3 weeks. If 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger,' I should be able to lift a bus over my head by now. But Dad came home with a new gizmo in his chest, he's feeling better, and all is well. We're prepping for my brother's wedding, so there's lots of activity around the rehearsal dinner and the usual pre-wedding stress. But Joe -- who needs to be sainted right away for putting up with all of this -- brought my Dad some muffins along with a towel from the big Rutgers game last week. I love his giving nature, how thoughtful he is, how he knows the exact right way to support in every instance. I'm far from high-maintenance, but he reads me well. And he always delivers the perfect joke to lighten me up. I'm the luckiest woman on earth, and I've never been able to say this about anyone before -- but it's an honor to be with him.

Tomorrow I'm talking with the Wedding Podcast Network about potentially doing a show for them -- we'll see how that evolves -- and a quick glance at my project flowchart shows me that I should be getting some answers on my upcoming book. Fingers crossed that we can get a release date set for one project I really, really want to do, and that I'll be blissfully typing up #33 within a matter of weeks. In every writer's life, days come where you think about jumping tracks to something unrelated, and then good news comes along, and you're re-connected to the great love that is your writing life. Many icons have said that they couldn't live if they couldn't write. I know how that feels. So hopefully, the wheels will start turning at a house where a project is waiting for greenlight, and I'll get that call from Meredith with a happy 'Guess what?!' Until then, I've got my sketchbook and charcoal pencils out and am designing a line of wedding day shoes...formals for the ceremony time and more comfy, but stylish ones for the reception (and no, honey, they're not going to be like that Kors one we saw today). My grandmother was a beader, one of those artisans whose meticulous work would earn her six-figures at a top shoe designer today. We have all of her beads in the basement, some of which I'm sure are not even available anymore. So I may go pick up a few pairs of practice heels and see what I can do. Sculpture has bypassed me -- I loved it for years but I prefer the texture of bread dough in my hands rather than terra cotta clay -- and watercolors are a yawn for me. How many tree-lined ponds can you do? I'm feeling pulled to this craft, and am researching delicate beading methodology online. Could the Sharon Naylor Wedding Shoe line be far off in the distance? We'll see... Joe accompanied me to the shoe store today, and that's where the idea hit.

And speaking of beading, I just received a wonderful book by Jean Campbell, titled "Beaded Weddings," with over 75 fantastic ideas for beaded jewelry, invitations, reception decor, gifts and more. Gorgeous pictures, a big section on jewelry, and I especially love the DIY section on beaded accents to stick into floral bouquets. Photo albums get the beaded treatment, along with votive candles. If you want style and elegance at a low price, pick up this book and enlist your friends to join you in crafting some elements for your day. I'm headed over to give Jean's book a 5-star on I don't often recommend other wedding books, but this is one you -- or your mothers or bridesmaids -- will definitely enjoy. Thank you for sending this one, Jaime. I'm a new fan of Jean's work.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My student's book is out!

A million years ago (it seems), I taught an evening writing workshop for adults who wished to be published. And I've just seen that one of my students has had his book on addiction recovery published! James DeSena's manuscript stood out for its passion and its controversial take on the 'recovery movement,' and while his wasn't my final choice to bring to my agent, I'm happy to see that he pursued his goal and brought it to print. Bravo, Jim, and thank you for mentioning me in your acknowledgment as being instrumental in inspiring you as your teacher. This makes three of my students who have gone on to publish, which makes me very, very proud.

Since I've been scanning on this rainy day, awaiting news from the hospital on my Dad's transfusions, I'm excited to see that I pop up as a contributor in some new books! My colleagues often come to our writer's circle for anecdotes, and it's always fun to pitch in. So my advice shows up (and you can see it online, if you don't have the books) in 101 Things Every Kid Should Do Growing Up, by Alecia Devantier (I suggested sharing other cultures with kids via research and food tastings, music, etc.); How to Survive a Move, in the Hundreds of Heads Survival Guides (not what I expected -- a snippet of what I shared in the 'how to apartment-search via classifieds' arena, but still fun to be in there); The ASJA Guide to Freelance Writing (Lots of quotes and advice from me on the writing life) and the 52 Most Romantic Places in and Around New York City (I spent a few days doing press tours of some of the most amazing hotels and restaurants, Wollman Rink, Lincoln Center, and -- sadly -- the top of the World Trade Center. It was one of my most unforgettable assignments).

I won't discuss Amazon's program where you can search inside a book for what you need...for free...It's one of those opportunities to sigh, accept it, and see how you can work with them instead of against them. Thus, some upcoming 'So You'd Like To...' guides I have my eye on. It's a bit of a martial art. Step away from the oncoming 'assault' and let its own momentum make it sail past you. Then make something good come from it. Not always easy, but definitely an exercise in resilience and creativity...which is what the writer's life is all about. Seeing Jim's book there makes me want to teach again, so maybe I'll look into that adult school for the spring.

I read something that resonates in Body and Soul magazine this afternoon -- how just having something positive to look forward to creates the same type of positive hormones as experiencing the positive thing. It's quite a way to look at your calendar.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

On Broadway

I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- when the phone rings, it could be anything. Usually something great. This week, it was the opportunity to interview Sutton Foster, Tony-winner for Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Tony-winner Beth Leavel, both of whom are currently appearing in the Broadway musical The Drowsy Chaperone. I remember when both won their awards -- I was watching from my couch in my pajamas when they delivered their acceptance speeches. And now...I talked to both of them about that moment, about the thrill of opening night on Broadway, and how the wedding aspect of this musical ties in to being an actress on Broadway. Sutton and I talked about her wedding last month, and Beth and I talked about her wedding 24 years ago. Both are delightful, which thrills me to no end. I love it when great, good-hearted people reach such great heights, and their enthusiasm for their art was positively infectious. These women have such an electricity about them, they glow over the phone. After I hung up, I had the most amazing feeling of being renewed, recharged...plugged back into my own passion for my art. Sometimes the light dims, and a conversation like this turns in into a beacon.

So here's my insight for the day: make time to talk or be with people who inspire you, those who are where you want to be. If you can't reach them personally, reach them peripherally by listening to their soundtrack, reading their book, even reading their bio on their company Web site. I walked away from these conversations focusing not on a brush with Tony-winners, but on a brush with creative joy, fellow artists who worked and worked at their craft, always knowing they'd get there someday.

I can't share the advice they gave or the content of the article I wrote -- you'll see that in an upcoming issue of New Jersey Bride -- but I can tell you to go see The Drowsy Chaperone, either as a date with your partner, as a family outing, as the bridesmaids' outing, in place of a traditional bachelorette party, as a wedding weekend activity. I've just called Ticketmaster to get my 4 tickets, and I absolutely can't wait to see these great actresses shine on stage. If you haven't seen this show yet, it's about a pampered Broadway starlet who wants to escape show business by getting married. Her producer is trying to sabotage the wedding, and there are gangster pastry chefs, among others, playing out the spectacle. Sounds like some people's weddings, doesn't it? That makes it the perfect show for me. So go get your tickets while Sutton and Beth are still in the show.

What a blessing, in the midst of a crazy week, to get to talk to such inspiring women. I'm overwhelmed.

And speaking of overwhelmed, last night was the celebration for my sister's 40th birthday, which we attended at the 21 Club in New York City. We were told we had the same table that Frank Sinatra used to call 'his table,' which was quite special to my sister. A great meal, some fun reminiscing, my brother's hilarious sense of humor, and that 3 hour ride in the rain for a trip that usually takes 40 minutes was worth every hydroplane. Our driver Ali was from Turkey, so we learned some Turkish, heard about the beauties of Istanbul, learned about Turkish cuisine, and then we taught him on some Italian and Ukrainian key phrases. So in 10mph traffic, we had a cultural summit. Punctuated by my parents' adorable fascination with the GPS system. My Dad's health is improving. He was able to go out for dinner. That makes the night a success. The capper? My brother remembered that my Mom collects matchbooks from all of our vast family travels, and he presented her with one from 21.

So in this week of chatting with actresses who, in my opinion, have revitalized Broadway together with Idina from 'Wicked', sitting at Frank Sinatra's table, and reliving our long, long list of memories from our lifelong charmed family history, the best part of my week was being warm and cozy under three blankets with Joe, watching a History channel update on UFO conspiracies, eating homemade chicken soup, doing foot massages, and planning for Thanksgiving. I'm half publishing machine, half domestic bliss angel. Wouldn't have it any other way.

Gotta go...the Rutgers game is on. Joe and the boys are in attendance so I'll be glancing at that while planning my upcoming fall bridal show appearances. Looking for great bridal shows? has a page full of them, listed with Web sites and contact info. Enjoy the shows!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Get ready to be inspired -- 'Married Away' starts soon

This just in...The Style Network has announced the launch of a spectacular new show: 'Married Away' spotlights several destination weddings in Hawaii, Thailand and more exotic locales. We've all read the stats that destination weddings are up 400%, but when you take a stat and turn it into THIS, it's a must-see. The show launches on December 5th, on the Style Network of E! Entertainment Television.

It's less than a month until my brother's wedding, and I just went for a fitting on my bridesmaid's dress. For all of you brides and bridesmaids who are facing open-backed dresses and serious bra issues, check out the stick-on corset bras at (it makes more sense as a visual than my description here). So with my stick-on bra ordered, final fitting is just a week away.

Joe and I visited the Short Hills Mall this weekend, where I bought a skirt for the rehearsal dinner, and in getting to the store, we had to go through the Perfume Gauntlet. At two different department stores. You know what I'm talking're trying to get out of the store by walking through the cosmetics department, and perfume ninjas jump out at you from every angle, shoving scented paper strips into your hand and talking up their gift sets. ("You could use a leather pouch!") I particularly loved the perfume ninja who called her sample the 'Jean Paul GLOW-tier,' which still cracks me up. Perhaps the attacks are my fault for making eye contact and smiling, so the next time...big floppy hat and sunglasses. Or I'll enlist one of the designer-dressed eleven year-olds with their Coach handbags to walk with me...the perfume ninjas will definitely sniff out a better mark and leave me alone.

Funny sight from the Short Hills Mall -- there's something that looks like a massage chair but actually is a simulated horseback riding apparatus. I was checking it out, with Joe right behind me, and the marketing video came on. Let's just say it was inappropriate for family viewing. "We're outta here," I said as Joe and I departed, and my quick man came up with the greatest joke ever about how the video would sell better than the horseback riding machine. As an author, I'm an observer of human behavior and language...that mall is a treasure trove of writing material. And my Joe makes me laugh like no one else...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Our Halloween party

The party was a smash success! Joe and I put about 3 months of effort into it, and from our Haunted Forest in the bedroom to our massive spread of food (next time we'll do 1/3 the amount) to the full bar with Mudslides and Zombies, Werewolf and Vampire wine from Transylvania, to all the decor, it was perfect. Even more perfect was our crowd -- a fantastic blend of my friends, Joe's friends and colleagues, my book club ladies and neighbors, my brother and his fiancee...everyone came in great costumes and I just stopped my hosting duties now and then to look around and smile. Everyone was having a great time. And Joe and I won the very fun costume contest -- he was Spiderman and I was Elvira. A great time was had by all, which is the definition of success in any party planning, no matter what little details go wrong. We had a few snafus -- wall hangings I forgot to take down, bad timing on heating up the baked ziti -- but it all works together, just like a wedding, to add up to the fun things you laugh about later. The key is to relax and be a guest at your own party.

Joe and I had planned to have our own little romantic dressup party the next night, but after that big of a job in pulling the party together with so much detail, our plans were doomed from the start. Not only were we tired, but the chicken didn't microwave well (that one's on me), the fireplace log started putting out fumes, my Little Red Riding Hood outfit was incredibly itchy, and Joe's face makeup for his costume went rancid and his face got all hot. So our romantic evening turned into him scrubbing his face clean, and us choking down rubbery chicken and drinking seltzer instead of wine because we were so dehydrated from the night before, then getting right into sweats and PJs to watch Halloween movies we're tired of by now. Entwined on the couch, it turned into a relaxing footrub night. Again, the things that go wrong all work together to add up to the things you laugh about later.

And shortly after that evening, we stripped down the house, got the haunted forest things and the black roses out of my bedroom, and I put my office back together again. My entire world was stuffed into my closet for the party, so it was a 2-day task to get my house back in gear. And it was quite fortuitous, since I found sweaters I thought I'd lost and only put back about 1/2 of the decor items I originally had out in my house. The place looks incredible now, which has me back in the mood to work. I'm pitching my novel for movie rights this week...and I've joined up with as their wedding expert, so I'm whipping up articles for them. My work-world Treat: an appearance, photo feature and quote in The New York Times. Joe ran right out to get it the moment I called him about it. He's the best.

Now, on to planning for Thanksgiving... ;)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Party prep

It's like packing to move. Just about everything on the counters and surfaces of my house has been boxed and stored away, making my place the blank canvas for tonight's party prep. Joe came over last night with some amazing decorations, and it's all starting to take shape. I've been working on my Elvira wig, trying to un-smush it and get it nice and round, and I fixed it late last night. So now I have three contenders -- Elvira, velvet goth girl, and Little Red Riding Hood. It's all about the look on Joe's face when he sees me in it.

Today is half a work day. I just sent in some interview answers to Long Island Bride and Groom and Philadelphia Style magazines, and I'm talking with a reporter for Consumer's Digest. It's time to line up the next book, so I'm sketching out ideas, mining recent wedding events and writing conferences for ideas that I haven't done yet. I have five in mind right now...just letting them marinate to see what has the most flavor.

It's been a while since I recommended sites and resources, so let me remind you of my forum at, my Q&A column at, and a very fun new resource at, which now offers gift certificates for stays at bed and breakfasts. The new thing is giving parents a stay at a charming B&B as a thank you for the wedding. An experience is always way better than a gift for display.

And check out the new line of stationery at Along with the best invitation-making software out there, they've teamed up with Envelopments for gorgeous papers, envelopes and stylish envelope liners.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The apple orchard

As my Bride's Diplomacy Guide is printing out -- I love this moment! Ink on paper means it's concept-to-book -- let me tell you about the amazing date that Joe planned...

We drove out to Chester to go apple picking. Since I'm a romantic, I imagined an endless field of bright, red shiny apples in bright green trees, a red-and-white checkered picnic blanket, bushels and bushels of apples with which to make strudel and apple pie, then some hot cider at the farm stand. Maybe I'd even climb a tree and toss a few apples down to him. We got to the farm -- and farm area in NJ is BEAUTIFUL -- and noticed some signs on the fence at the entrance to the orchard: "Apples are biennial. We had a bumper crop last year, so there are no apples to be picked. But you can pay us a quarter for a bag to pick up all the crappy apples on the ground." (I'm paraphrasing). Since we're both optimists, we figured there HAVE to be apples still on the trees. So we held hands and walked into the orchard, navigating mud puddles and deep ruts from the tractors. Rather than apple picking, we went Apple Stepping, trying not to slide on rotten apples...and it was great. Joe has the best sense of humor on earth, so we joked our way through the orchard before going to a different farm a bit up the road. The farm with the buffalo and the corn maze.

Seriously, if you don't know NJ farm country, get there. It's fantastic.

So there we are at farm #2. And the first thing we do is go into a corn maze. But first we had to watch the Liability Video. No smoking in the corn maze, no cursing in the corn maze, no picking the corn, etc. That opens up a LOT of jokes about what you CAN do in the corn maze. So there we are, two educated, accomplished people, with crayons and workbooks to answer the Captain Corncob (or whatever his name was) trivia questions at each stop in the maze. We're moving through the maze, using the 'which way feels right' intuition compass to guide us -- and this thing is HUGE. There are wooden elevated bridges so that you can get a feel for where you are in the maze, tight twists and turns, and the winds are blowing the dry corn stalks, hawks circle in the sky (Joe jokes that they're actually buzzards for the people who don't get out of the maze), and about 40 minutes in, we get hit with extreme thirst and hunger. I felt like I was on Survivor, and it got less and less fun by the minute for both of us. We're turning corners, and I'm saying, "I don't want to learn anything else!" when we run into Captain Corncob's inexplicable astronaut trivia (Huh?). Yeah, that's about enough of we figured out our way back to the entrance -- since we had entered at the exit, technically, we finished the thing -- and we were free. It was fantastic, and there just might be some notes still written on dry corn husks in that maze (It wasn't in the video that you couldn't write on the corn husks!)

We grabbed lunch at the farm stand and then discovered that they had espresso and cappuccino inside the farm store. Espresso and cappuccino! And it's my guess that those vats out back held all the apples from the other farm. Genius! ;) We then went to see the buffalo, who was resting quietly while some woman was shouting 'Here buffalo! Here buffalo! Come on, buffalo!' And then she yelled at her husband, 'Do NOT give the buffalo an apple if he doesn't listen to me!' I absolutely love moments like this. Snapshots of people's interactions. They will, I'm sure, show up in one of my novels someday. As will a cornmaze. Use what you know.

So Joe planned the perfect fall date...made all the better by how quick he is with the rapid-fire jokes about the unexpected. He makes the unpredictability of life something to look forward to. And he made this a fantastic weekend. I'm all recharged and ready to take on a bigtime pitching week before taking off two days to set up for the Halloween party. We're still getting RSVPs -- the word is out. As for costumes, I'll save that report for tomorrow.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Many thanks

Thank you to everyone who wrote with condolences for Butters', friends, colleagues, strangers...your kindness is appreciated.

Today, I started clearing out my house in preparation for the big Halloween party. Yes, it's a week away, but there's lots to be done. Plus, I finished writing "The Bride's Diplomacy Guide" late last night and am waiting on a few phone calls before I turn in a story on elopement to I'm letting the BDG settle for a few days, and then I'll return to it with a fresh eye, a red pen, and lots of moves and changes.

The images came in from my photo shoot for Positive Thinking magazine, so I'm going through the digital proofs to choose my top 4 faves, and I heard that the new issue of Wedding Dresses magazine came out. The reporter said we have the cover story, so I'm looking forward to seeing that one. They do a beautiful job styling their pages. That's it for today...just bouncing between work and party prep, the fireplace is going, my shopping list is growing, and I have a gorgeous picture right here above my computer monitor that makes me smile every time I look at it. 4 hours and counting...

Monday, October 16, 2006

A loss

We've come to the end of a journey with Butters. Our boy has given it his all, but it's time for him to leave us. A pet is an embodiment of unconditional love, and brings out the best in people. We will always love him.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Starting in '07

I'm thrilled to announce that has just launched the sign-up for a Daily E-Mail From Sharon Naylor program. It's free, so sign up here ( and receive e-mails from me with wedding tips that you won't find anywhere else. Some will be budget-based, some will be idea-based, others will be trends, others will be tips for your parents or bridal party. I plan to mix it up. I'm very excited about this new extension of my work with Pash Weddings -- I host a forum there as well, so come on over and ask questions.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A big upset

We were supposed to lose badly in this week's fantasy football matchup [I'm a big football fan, and Joe invited me to join him in his company's league], so my original plan was to just watch the Giants/Skins game and then the Eagles/Dallas game without thinking about stats and ratings for the game. But I had to go turn on my computer. As the game played on the TV behind me, I kept jumping between my Diplomacy Guide and the stat tracker. We were up by 20 points...without a quarterback. Later, it was a .04 difference. And we pulled it off (actually, our kicker pulled it off, as did the Pittsburgh defense.) I was just telling Joe that I spent 10 hours in front of my computer on a Sunday watching the numbers and writing an entire chapter. So that's a method that works.

In my last post, I mentioned that Butters had a vet appointment, and the bad news is that his tumor has grown. So our boy will get prednisone to keep him going for as long as possible. (I'm getting all teary-eyed right now). The good news is that he is so loved by us, and he's getting the best care possible. I'd better get off this topic or I won't be able to get much done today...

I'm in talks right now for a huge, wonderful new project with an expert who I admire so much. It's quite astounding to hear her praise my work and my experience, so this is going to be FUN.

Back to the Diplomacy Guide. I wish I'd done this one years ago. From many of the questions and letters I'm getting on the various forums where I answer questions, it seems like some people really could have used this one.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The wedding is coming

Right now, I'm at the point of "The Bride's Diplomacy Guide" where things get a little bit intense, the wedding date is approaching, and the bride may be a little snappy. It's proving tough to write out reasonable advice to someone who I know is quite overwhelmed, fearful and ramped-up. Usually, when brides write me for advice, I can pretty much guess how far away their weddings are. And the ones in the 1-month time range are, obviously, the most distressed.

So here's my diplomacy advice for those brides and grooms who are nearly right on top of their wedding day, with everything magnified, and the littlest thing setting them off. Be very careful about how and where you vent. If something sets you off, don't go running to hundreds of people to be assured that you're right, because you just cause a web of problems that last long after your wedding. Have some forethought, and remember that your wedding day will come. What lingers after it lasts more than one day. Plan for the future, not just the wedding. And know that the future has its seeds in today.

Right now, I'm enjoying helping my parents plan the rehearsal dinner for my brother's wedding. We're awaiting the restaurant's winter menu, and I know that both of my parents are invested in planning something nice for the night before the wedding. Dad's doing well now on his new treatment for myeloma, and Mom hit the one-year mark for her remission recently.

Tonight, Joe and I celebrate our anniversary with a nice dinner out, and a nice night in, before we take Butters to the vet tomorrow. We're both hoping for the x-ray to show improvement, that our little guy won't need surgery, and that the medicine will continue to help him out. He's such a good little guy, and he loves Joe so much. Animals have a sense about people.

I'm back to my article on the newest trends in bridal showers -- creating a display for unwrapped shower gifts, new favor ideas, welcome changes in the world of shower games. Things change so quickly in style, that it's always fun to have new trends to report.

Monday, October 02, 2006


The stories are coming in for my Bride's Diplomacy Guide, and this is going to be good. I'm 20,000 words in to the 60,000-word project, and time just disappears while I'm working on it.

I'm finishing up a pair of stories for New Jersey Bride, including a profile of a phenomenal bridal shower coordinated by Tina LaMorte of Oh So Fabulous in Maywood ( Guests said they felt like they were at the Oprah Legends Ball, and I can definitely see why. The bride mentioned how thrilled she was to preface her destination wedding with a shower held at the home of a friend, next to their pool where she had so many wonderful memories going way back to the 1st grade. She learned to swim in that pool, and now that was the site of her bridal shower. The real beauty of any wedding or shower is in those personal touches, the reach back into the bride and groom's history.

Joe and I had a fantastic weekend, a highlight being his cousin's son's birthday party. It was jungle-themed, and they had a zoo keeper there with all kinds of animals from snakes to tree frogs, turtles, and gekkos. The kids loved it, and I'm amazed at the themes of kid parties these days. Thinking back, I remember my own little school-age birthday parties, one of them being at the zoo. Now, Joe and I are planning our own Halloween party here in my haunted house (the ghost keeps turning my computer on at night -- "Get back to work, you!") and we've had a blast at Party City going through the decor items, figuring out what to make, getting our costumes together. Too much fun.

So today's a writing day, and I'm just waiting for my coffee to be done before I dive in...

Friday, September 29, 2006

Looking at rings all day

I'm researching an article on the newest, hottest cuts in diamonds, and I've seen some gorgeous things today. I'm not sure if it was the Tacori site or the Jeff Cooper site -- I need coffee right now -- but one of them showed a display diamond that had so much fire and brilliance, it took my breath away. I had to watch the video again. So I have 45 pages of information for a 600-word piece (that's about 3 pages double-spaced for the finished product). As is my process, I'll get on the exercise bike for a half hour, mull it over, and the final edit will just come to me. I'll know exactly which parts to keep and which to carve away...kind of the same way they create a diamond cut.

And here's something fun for you to check out. Go to for info on how to book a celebrity act to come play at your wedding. Joe and I heard Vinx talking about someone paying $X to get him and his original band to fly in for their wedding, and a celebrity wedding coordinator colleague of mine mentioned her work to get the Black Eyed Peas for a wedding she was working on. Can you imagine how fun that would be? Clink, clink, clink..."And now, to perform his latest as you make your way through the buffet line...Sting!"

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Special offer: my wedding books as gifts

I just received a note from a groom who special-ordered an autographed copy of my "Mother of the Groom" book to present to his mother at the engagement party, and his thank you was so touching, so heart-warming, that I've decided to offer this service for all of my books. Here is a preview of the announcement that will soon be posted on my Web site. Consider it your VIP advance-notice jump on the competition:

Order your copies of SIGNED wedding books directly from me. I've heard from so many couples who gave their mothers my Mother of the Groom book and The Mother of the Bride Book, signed by me with personal messages to their mothers, that I decided to open this offer up to ALL of my books.

Invite your bridesmaids to be a part of your lineup with "The Bridesmaid Handbook"
Give a copy of "The Bride's Gratitude Journal" to your other engaged friends, or get one for yourself as a way to keep your focus on what's going well
Give a copy of "The Groom's Guide" to your groom
Give a copy of "The Essential Guide to Wedding Etiquette" or "The Ultimate Wedding Registry Workbook" or "Your Special Wedding Vows" to the wedding couple

Visit my Web site for a look at all 28 of my available wedding books, and place your order for my December title "Renewing Your Wedding Vows" if you know anyone (like your parents) who would like to reaffirm their vows in front of family and friends.

Just e-mail me at with your request ('Signed book' in the subject line, please), and I'll get your books to you within 3-5 days. Special introductory offer until February 14, 2007: all books $3 off, and shipping is FREE. Each $3 will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Every 5th purchase order will win a free copy of an additional book.

Keep in mind that I have a limited number of books to offer, so I may be sold out on some titles. Right now, there's a run on "The Ultimate Bridal Shower Idea Book" and my comedic novel "It's My Wedding Too."

Feel free to forward this announcement to your friends, as this is purely for friends and fans of my work. It won't be open to the general public for another week.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Any writer who does this full-time can tell you that you always have to rev your engines. So we all go to various sources of inspiration. For me, it's Barbara DeMarco Barrett's book Pen on Fire, or Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. I just ordered a few new books written by writers for writers, and I'm particular intrigued by a quote I absorbed from one of them already: "Writers are like hunters, and so are entrepreneurs." It's partially true -- some days feel like I'm sitting in a tree in an expansive wooded area, with no one around, just waiting...and waiting. Minus the orange jacket. But is writing like hunting? If you sit in a tree and wait, the opportunity has to come to you. And you have to be quiet. Nah, writing is not like's like going to cocktail party or a networking event. You show up excited, dressed to impress, and you survey the room, working each circle of guests, more of a person than a businessperson to be really successful. You bring a humor and human quality to your interactions, and it flows naturally. You just put yourself in the right place at the right time. And you keep on showing up. 90% of success is just showing up, right? Authority and accomplishment are best served subtly. Who wants to hang out at the party with the person who's blowing his or her own horn so hard that veins are throbbing in his or her forehead? So 90% of success is showing up at the computer, writing through a bad mood or a distracted thought pattern, doing the work to have some substance to your style. Then showing up in the right places to connect with those who can help you make things happen. Many people think that writing is a solitary, lonely job, but it's so not. It's all about connection. Sure, you spend many hours or days alone, so lost in your words that hours fly by, and I suppose that some writers do this job because they like to be alone. But writing is about connection. If you are seen and felt as a person by the decision-makers, you're golden.

Hmm....that book I ordered isn't even here yet, and it's already revved my engines. Not bad. Today I delve into the world of colored diamonds. Artifically and naturally. We've all seen the pink diamonds worn by celebrities, and I've seen a champagne colored diamond that was gorgeous. Black diamonds are the new big thing, and I can't wait to talk to the folks at the Natural Colored Diamond Association about the colors that are out there. Visit for more information when their site is updated, and for the latest trend reports and educational guides they offer.

Time for interviews, and I'm sure I'll also be writing to my friend Jill for humorous plays on words about 'writing being like hunting.' Another key to being a successful writer: surround yourself with talented writers, artists and creative people. They rev the engines too, usually by making you laugh.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The trouble with Butters

You all know Butters the hamster from his big race a few weeks ago. Well, Butters is having some tests done on a little lump he has, so he had another big adventure to the vet's office. He was an instant hit at the office, everyone loves him of course, and now he's getting to know his medicine dropper. Aside from the reality that I'm now doling out medicines to two human parents and two pets, I'm still upright, and work goes on. Since I know what great souls you all have, please consider doing something for your local animal shelter rather than sending Butters anything. From his edible house to a bucket full of treats and two parents who love him, our little guy is blessed. Bring some toys or snacks to a nearby shelter in Butters' name if you do wish to show your support.

Tired from the day of vet visits, Joe and I went to a baseball game last night. It was a gorgeous evening, and we joined his mother and brother for third-row seats to a game where they had competitions in each inning. A fan's name was chosen to win $10,000 if the Patriots accomplished something in particular that inning. But of course it had to be something obscenely and probably statistically impossible -- "Gigi Blue, you win $10,000 if the guy on the team with the highest IQ hits a bird in mid-flight with a pop-up that's caught by the outfielder with a birthmark on his thigh while the third basemen loses a contact lens!" The whole thing is a riot, and my Joe gave me the full baseball game experience with a hot dog and root beer, fries, then hot chocolate and funnel cake. Baseball fans, get yourselves to minor league games -- they're terrific fun.

And hey, some stuff about weddings! I went with my mother today to Dressed to the Nines in Morristown, NJ, the store where my sister found her wedding gown, so that Mom could find a Mother of the Groom dress for December. Our salesperson needed one less shot of Red Bull, but Mom found a beautiful dress in gunmetal gray/blue with the perfect cut at the waist and vertical gemstone accents, fluttery sleeves and a flattering bolero jacket. I almost fell over when she stepped out of the dressing room. She looked amazing. I'm doing it less often, but I still flash back to her in the ICU on a respirator, in a hospital gown with one sock on and one sock off. I know, I know...stop thinking about it. But the contrast was really something. Today, there was my Mom in a gown any MoG would love to wear. As she was changing, I ventured around the bridal salon and checked out not the gowns but the tiaras and headpieces, and then I snuck around the corner to see the seamstresses hand-sewing a hem on a gorgeous strapless gown. That's the scene I love, the behind the glitz work and expertise, the concentration, the intense smell of coffee and their confidence that they can drink coffee anywhere near these $5K gowns. I love the inside look.

Today's exciting assignment -- for New Jersey Bride, I'm doing pieces on the newest shapes and colors in diamonds, and I'm doing a feature on a few upscale bridal showers that took place recently. And for Southern Bride, a piece on using family heirlooms in your wedding. So my Friday night will consist of writing, a fire in the fireplace, a roast beef sandwich on onion bread with Vidalias and horseradish dressing, and a brownie. While in my pajamas. If I get these done, I continue with the chapter on 'Problems With Kids' in TBDG, getting into the 'how do you ensure that adorable little Abby doesn't turn into a screaming banshee as she's walking down the aisle?'

Ooh, I forgot the best part of my week. I pretty much was running on fumes the other day, with lots of exhaustion, worries and a good chunk of anger going on, and my Joe called to ask if he could just stop by to give me a hug. He showed up with lots and lots of daisies, my favorites. I didn't want that hug to end. It's like he can embrace the frustration right out of me. He's such a sweetheart, and such a comfort as I handle some pretty rough stuff in cancer world. A hug, some flowers, a baseball game, and working with me on the best Fantasty Football Team EVER -- he's my joy. Oh, we won last week and we're projected to win this week too. This is a lot of fun.

Okay, I have to get some work done, and line up appearances at bridal showcases this fall, and I've been invited to my colleague Lisa Light's book party in the city next week ( for those of you getting away from it all). And I'm out of cyan ink for my printer. So my big Friday night starts now. ;)

Big hugs to the Angels of my week: Butters' vet, and the owners of in LBI. I'm seriously thinking about buying the inn, cooking for guests, and using the top floor suite as my writing studio. A block and a half to the ocean. Can you imagine?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Well, well, well...

Hmmmm....interesting....How fun to see a mega-store steal a bunch of my ideas for their bridal section. Blatant theft, word for word. My team is on it. I should have known that someone who would wear a pink and orange tie to a meeting was not to be trusted.

In better news, The Bride's Diplomacy Guide is coming out wonderfully! I'm laughing over what I *wish* I could advise, but that's a humor book that could be a future project someday. Right now, I'm talking with Collectors Press about possibly doing something. I love, love, love their 50s retro line as terrific wedding and shower favors, so check them out at

Back to work now...I'm knocking off early to take Peanut to the vet for her diabetes test. Butters goes to the vet to get his hand and face checked out on Thursday. I'm literally at some kind of medical center every day, and the vet's is way, way better than those I've been to for my parents. Dad starts a new chemo soon -- this is the Great Hope one we've been waiting for since last November. I do a lot of research and advocacy on the LLS Web site,, and we've been hearing great things about this treatment. Dad's doing better now -- my thanks to everyone who has sent letters of support, prayers and good wishes. Everyone's kindness really does so much to keep us all going strong for him.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Til death do us part

Joe just sent me a video clip of a teenaged cancer patient, terminally ill, whose wish was to have the wedding of her dreams with the love of her life. I had tears in my eyes as I watched the clip, and I so wish I knew about this early enough to send her whatever she needed, whatever I could do to add something she wanted for her day. The Make-a-Wish foundation took care of all that. They are a top notch group. The writeup on another site was poignant and eloquent about the depth of 'til death do us part' in their wedding vows. So few couples really think about the meaning of that.

It reminds me of an interview I gave last year, where the reporter asked me if I had ever heard of any couples wanting to leave out 'til death do us part,' and since I've heard EVERYTHING from Star Trek vows to promises that read like pre-nups about who gets the kids if one of them gains more than thirty pounds, my answer was yes. I had heard that, and I told the reporter that the anecdotes I'd heard in my 15 years of writing on weddings usually involved those who were cynical, had weird senses of humor, or had just had a death in the family and didn't want to use the word 'death.' Sure enough, I come back from my morning walk a few days later to find a stream of insult mail in my In-box...the reporter had posted that I said 'til death do us part' was going out of style. The BBC called minutes later for an interview, and I explained the out-of- context situation. No story there. Click. I forwarded the e-mails to the reporter and asked her parent company to change the insinuations in the story, which they did. But the story had circled the globe a few times. Was I angry? Well, reading hate mail doesn't make my day...especially since those people didn't know me, nor my dedication to the institution of marriage, to meaning your vows, to preparing for the future not just the wedding. But then I *liked* it. People were passionate about the traditional vows. Anyone saying differently made them mad, and that was terrific to see. 'Til death do us part' will never be bounced from the traditional vow service. Sure, couples who want to stay away from the D-word might say 'til the end of time,' but it means the same thing. Dedication. Commitment. Forever. And few things illustrate this more than a terminally ill teenager who's bravely facing the end of her life, could have asked for anything, and asked to marry the love of her life...and death will be what parts them. So best wishes to Nicole and to her husband. As Oprah says, "When you lose someone, you gain an angel you know." The whole world just got to meet this angel here on earth, and her message is clear. Love is all there is.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

It would take me days... describe all the amazing, wonderful things that happened this weekend. Joe planned the most amazing getaway for us at a bed and breakfast on Long Beach Island in NJ. He takes my breath away by how he remembers all the little things that I just mention in passing, and how he has absolutely perfect timing with each of them. When we arrived at our charming little B&B, we settled in to our room with a four post bed, fireplace, and quite a history (according the room journal, in which previous visitors wrote about their experiences -- marriage proposals in that room). And when I turned around, he had a big pink Victoria's Secret box on the bed. It was the classic persimmon colored halter top lingerie I almost bought at the mall, but the line was too long. He said he had been worried about my having gone out to buy it before our trip -- a little Gift of the Magi Goes Silky thing going on -- but that was the first of many times I had tears in my eyes from this man's pureness of heart and complete fearlessness at showing me love. And it goes way beyond a Victoria's Secret box. From him, the way his hand just automatically searches for mine as we're walking, how he knows I'd love to see the sunset, how he took me to a scenic lookout because I love the way the ocean smells, he brought me to a gazebo because I said weeks ago that I wanted to have a kiss there. He remembers...because he cares. And it's so easy to open up to him, to show love in my own little ways. We're two good people who found each other, who can read each other...and we laugh so much, it's side-splitting. We had all the down-the-shore meals you have to have when you're there [it's in the contract: seafood, pizza, ice cream, and fudge] and our romantic dinner the first night was dreamy. The flannel-wearing sommelier at the liquor store led us to some EYE-talian wines (that cracks me up!) so we were able to toast our relationship before bed.

We walked along the beach, tried to get the kite up in the air, and I promised my niece that I would do a cartwheel for her. While Joe's back was turned, I discovered just how far from my cheerleading days I'd slid. It was sloppy, but it was a cartwheel. Check. We then shopped for our friends' and relatives' Christmas presents, spent hours on the beach during the sunny afternoon that opened before us like magic, and spent super-fun time at the arcade, where we shot zombies and terrorists, played Skeeball, and played basketball, all to earn enough points for an airplane glider toy. For 7 billion more points, there was an engagement ring in the display case, so we had a lot of fun joking about that. But more fun joking about the Joe Montana-signed helmet. We played like kids, hugged like fifth-date smitten kittens, and found humor in everything we saw and heard. That's how you know you're right for each other. Even when a bummer is thrown into your lap, you take turns assuring, and you bring the positive out of it. And pretty soon, you're shooting zombies, eating fudge, and jumping up and down like a spastic child because the innkeepers made Monkey Bread (which was in nearly every journal entry in our room.) On that Sunday morning, the innkeepers had set us a table in the garden, where we ate our monkey bread, fruit, and an egg bake that was phenomenal. The cat came out to join us, it was a beautiful morning, and we went for a walk on the beach afterwards. Oh, earlier in the weekend, we chanced upon a wedding ceremony taking place on the beach, and it always makes me smile to pass one of those. I wonder, just a little, if they were able to use any of my books. So for this couple's wedding video, they have us walking by on the beach in the distance. So I represented both myself and Joe's UNC tee shirt I was wearing.

Gosh, I could go on forever about how Joe made this weekend amazing -- from the laughs to the winery visit on the way home, to how he points out the beautiful clouds in the sky because he knows I love that too, to how cute he looks when he's sleeping. This morning, I looked across the pillows in those first groggy moments of awakeness and saw those green eyes, that smile, those long lashes and thought, "Wow...I am the luckiest woman on the planet."

So we got home, and pushed back the dark fog of business awaiting at home, a tough choice I have to make with an assignment, work stress and other baloney. We enjoyed our getaway so much. Because Joe made it so. I could have fun anywhere with him. And this weekend, I got snapshots I never even thought to imagine... how often I find myself saying that. This man is amazing. And he's excellent at shooting zombies.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A room with a view

Tomorrow, Joe and I are going on a much-needed vacation. He found the most beautiful bed and breakfast down the shore, with a four-post bed, fireplace, wraparound porch, and a view of the ocean from our room. I can't even begin to express how great it's going to be for us to get away from it all, just breathe in that ocean air, enjoy the delightful company of strangers by the living room fireplace downstairs. I'm sure we'll go for a bike ride and catch the sunset colors over the ocean. I had to stop myself from throwing some work into my suitcase -- no way, nothing from here goes to there. This is our time...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mother of the Bride

It seems that mothers of the bride are back in the game! For a while there, MoB's were nudged out of the picture by bride-and-groom planning teams. The independence of the couple meant that moms were no longer Wedding Planner #2 (or #1 in some egos), so we saw a lot of Moms being relegated to favor-making and icing cupcakes. Who dreams about THAT? Given that etiquette still holds that mothers shouldn't host showers, Moms were pretty much out in the cold. But now, they're back. In a big way. They're bringing their skills and contacts to the table. They're spending as much time looking for their gowns and accessories as the bride does. They're saving the day left and right, advising on family traditions, giving the right spelling of relatives' names, discovering the perfect locations, suggesting the perfect caterers. Welcome back, Moms! From idea specialist to support system to mediator and diplomacy expert, a mother's work is never done. My book "The Mother of the Bride Book" has details on every step of wedding planning partnering for the mothers, and if there's one thing I wish I had added, it's FUNNY stories from MoBs and the brides. In the back of the book, I have horror stories -- like the mother who stormed out of the reception because her view of the main table was blocked, the mother who tripped the father's new girlfriend, and various soap opera-ish diva dramas. My readers love these stories, of course, but I've heard so many great anecdotes of brides and their moms bonding, laughing, building great memories now that partnering on the wedding plans is something moms and daughters are doing again. As one mom put it: "I've been dreaming of her wedding day since the moment I gave birth to her." When you have that kind of longtime dream, you deserve more than icing cupcakes. Hmmmm....I have a great idea for a new contest. Stay tuned...

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11th

The weather today is exactly the same as it was that day, the morning going exactly as it did that day. Cars passing my house have flags on them. Businesses have their flags out. People are smiling at one another, in silent understanding that all our hearts are a little heavier today. I live in a town that is a commuter town to New York City. Our community lost a number of residents in the attacks, and the churches and synagogues have all opened their doors early to those of us who wish to pray for the victims, their families, the troops overseas, our leaders. In a little while, I'll go place some flowers by a tribute stone in's as close as I can get to hugging someone who's hurting.

In my last post, I wrote about thank you note etiquette that made me shudder. What makes me shudder today is heartless people, those who have no feeling for others, who wish to inflict harm, to divide, and worse -- to instill fear in the heart. Today, we're seeing tons of images of that harm, the fear. Cameras train on those who are crying. But I see all around me, and I hope it's seen all across the country, that a much greater percentage of people have those flags on their cars, are smiling, rise up again and again from every terrible thing that a dark soul can do to them.

Okay, time for some lighter stuff. Much lighter stuff. The weight of a hamster. Many of you have written about how Butters, the hamster that Joe and I won at a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fundraiser, fared in the Hamster Ball Derby. Our little guy did way better than we thought he would...while we expected that he'd just sit there and look around, he ran for a little distance and then turned around to get back to Joe. He had a little adventure. We're proud parents. Our Butters did great in our eyes.

Now, I'm headed off to the memorial stone and then to church. I just want to be in that quiet for a little while before I get to work.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Some things make me shudder

I hear about a LOT of bad etiquette in wedding world, but this one takes the cake...

In an etiquette column, someone wrote in about a couple who added to the back of their program a note reading 'in lieu of sending you thank you notes for your gifts, we'll donate that money to charity.' Have you fallen off your chair like I did?

I'm all for finding ways to have your wedding give back to charity, but not sending thank you notes is despicable. It's the essence of greed, cloaked in an illusion that the couple are so benevolent as to donate to charity. So I applaud my colleague's response in that column and hope you all will never even consider skipping the thank you note process. Expressing gratitude for all you have been given is a gift and a must. I'm going to keep the rest of my thoughts on this to myself, because if that dam bursts...

[My thanks to Jill in PA for bringing this column to my attention]

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

After the holiday weekend

Things always take off after the holiday weekend, and I absolutely love it. It's not even lunchtime, and I've been asked to appear at a big bridal show in St. Louis in January, speak on a panel at the American Society of Journalists and Authors' conference in New York City in April, contribute to a New York Times article and a piece for Rhode Island Bride magazine, and I'm waiting for a call about a huge article for Consumers Digest. I just pitched eight stories to Hallmark Magazine -- which is one of my dream assignments for this year -- and sent a little something over to Martha Stewart Weddings. I literally sprang out of bed this morning knowing that editors are back in their offices and readying their winter and spring issues. Oh, and we also coordinated a send to The View for a possible wedding segment.

While I have a little breathing room here, let me fill in on my weekend. Joe and I celebrated our anniversary at Copeland, a gorgeous restaurant at the Westin in Morristown. We'd gone shopping at the Short Hills mall earlier in the day, and I found the perfect sapphire blue satin camisole to wear with a black skirt and my favorite stilettos. Our original dinner destination was blocked off by thousands of cars -- a classic car show and 50s doo wop concert series was going on at the hotel, and we couldn't get anywhere near the parking lot. So we turned around and wound up someplace even better -- isn't that always the way? When what you think you're doing gets blocked, you get something far superior. The waiter brought us a Happy Anniversary bowl of sorbets, which was amazing. The perfect evening. I'm so lucky.

We took in the last day at the town pool and rested up for The Draft. Joe included me in his Fantasy Football league, which was tremendous fun for the first hour and a half. After that, it seemed like work. But we have a great lineup, so we'll see how the season plays out. Right now, I'm just cleaning up the fortune cookie remnants and duck sauce packets that are all over my computer station. No prophetic fortune cookie this time. My fortune was sitting right next to me last night.

Gotta agent's on the phone with follow-up on a book pitch. I love days like this...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

"It's My Wedding Too" -- the new version

As today's thrilling surprise, I received a package from my publisher today -- the newly-designed covers for my novel "It's My Wedding Too." You might remember that my novel featured a bride sticking her tongue out. (People had asked if that was me on the cover, but it's neither my tongue nor my cleavage, so the answer is No.) I have no idea what inspired my publisher to change the cover, but it's a brilliant idea and the illustration is adorable. They're doing a full media blitz for it, and including a teaser chapter from my second novel "It's Not My Wedding (But I'm in Charge)" -- so my baby gets new life! In publishing, this re-wrapping means the book is considered 'new,' so it gets put back on the front tables (instead of hidden on the top shelf...ahem...;) I couldn't be more thrilled, and as I was writing my editor to say a big thank you, the entire plot for my next novel unfolded as I was writing him. It was all right there, just needed an 'unlocking.' So hopefully I will be spending my winter writing about a post-wedding adventure in Hawaii. That's all I'll say for now...

I spent the rest of my day shopping for bridal shower gifts for my brother and his fiancee, looking through costume Web sites, cooking up a teriyaki pork loin and chicken legs with plum sauce and ginger, and researching NFL stats because I'm in Joe's office's Fantasy Football League. As a lifer football fan, I know my game. I've worn a SuperBowl Ring and a Hall of Fame ring, and I once rode in a limo with seven Hall of Famers. (My brother is very disappointed that I didn't bring a few of them home to throw the ball around.) My family spent many years going to Giants games -- our seats are in the end zone right under the scoreboard, so football season is particularly exciting for me. This is my first time in an FF league, and I've been warned that it's all-consuming. But I do research for a living, I love the game, and it's going to be fun to win this thing. My strategy: pick the players with the fun names. Like Pacman Jones. C'mon...tell me that's not inspiring. ;) Just kidding, guys. I have a science to my selections and I'll update you throughout the season.

Doorbell just rang -- the UPS man arrived with a shipment of cookie and brownie samples. For our Halloween party....back in a sec...

Okay, these have just knocked my previous favorite cookie company down to a distant second place. Solomon's Gourmet Cookies,, makes the most amazing chocolate mint brownie I have ever tasted....and chocolate raspberry...and a caramel bar. Someone take these away from me...they're ridiculously good, and that's just dangerous. Love 'em. Thanks for sending, Julie!

What a great day....

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Fly the flag

I promised my friend Kris that I would forward her e-mail, but this seems a far more efficient way to spread the word:

On Monday, September 11th, 2006, an American flag should be displayed outside every home, apartment, office, and store in the United States.

Every individual should make it their duty to display an American flag on this fifth anniversary of our country's worst tragedy. We do this in honor of those who lost their lives on 9/11, their families, friends and loved ones who continue to endure the pain, and those who today are fighting at home and abroad to preserve our cherished freedoms. In the days, weeks and months following 9/11, our country was bathed in American flags as citizens mourned the incredible losses and stood shoulder-to-shoulder against terrorism. Sadly, those flags have all but disappeared. Our patriotism pulled us through some tough times and it shouldn't take another attack to galvanize us in solidarity. OurAmerican flag is the fabric of our country and together we can prevail over terrorism of all kinds.

Action Plan: So, here's what we need you to do: Fly an American flag of any size on 9/11. Honestly, Americans should fly the flag year-round, but if you don't, then at least make it a priority on this day.Thank you for your participation. God Bless You and God Bless America !!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Pistachio pearls

I'm falling over with amazement at the new colors in pearls. Tahitian black pearls are among the rarest, most valuable pearls available and have the distinction of being the world's only naturally black pearl. They come in a wide range of colors including black, aubergine, eggplant, peacock, silver, purple, pistachio, and more. Among the largest pearls available, Black Tahitian pearls are harvested in French Polynesia from the Pinctada Margaratifera oyster.

For more on these dark pearls, as well as gorgeous pastel-colored pearls and Akoyas, visit my site to see my spotlight vendor for the month, my favorite source for pearl jewelry.

And while we're on the subject of colored pearls, I've also just found out about black *diamonds,* the newest trend in modern wedding band accents (in pave settings or alternating with standard diamonds in channel settings.) The American Gem Society says this is a hot new look, and it has an amazing sparkle to it. This, my prediction is, will be a lasting hit. The newly announced technology of making diamonds out of pet hair (I'm not kidding) will not.

600 pages

There's a great moment in the creation of a book -- the moment you hit Print and the words go from screen to paper for the first time. The printer whirs, and the manuscript is there. For the first time. "What's Your Bridal Style?" is now complete. 20,000 words over limit, but it's complete. We'll get into the painful process of cutting in a few months -- better to have it packed with great information, so that it's like cutting a statue out of a big block of beautiful marble, than to have to stretch and fill. The parts that we cut will be turned into articles that we'll post on our sites, so nothing will go to waste.

With this big project done and out, I'm focusing on "The Bride's Diplomacy Guide" more fully now. I'm shuffling the order of the entries today, and will work from smallest chapter to largest. So that means 'problems with groomsmen' is on tap first.

But first, I'm clicking through some caterers' menus for the Halloween party that Joe and I are throwing here. And I'm going through The Ultimate Bridal Shower Idea Book for a refresher on what I wrote for a Halloween themed shower. This is going to be fun...

Monday, August 21, 2006

A night in New York City

Joe took me to see Vinx perform. I'm floored by the talent, and you have to hear it for yourselves. Check out his CDs on, and visit for where he's appearing next. What a phenomenal voice, and the drum work was amazing. We had seats right up front at a great little blues club in the Village, and Vinx came over and sat down to talk with us. I didn't win the free CD (because I'm not crass enough, apparently -- Vinx handed over the CD to some woman in the front who was making endless suggestive shut her up, I'd guess ;) but he did sign for me, which thrilled me to no end. Joe included one of his songs on a mix CD that was one of his earliest gifts to me, and it was such a treat to catch the live show.

[I have to pause now...I have that mix CD on right now, and a gorgeous version of a Sting song is playing....sigh...]

On Sunday, Joe and I went to look at a house that he's considering buying. It's a pretty house with lots of space and storage, but we took one look at where the bedroom door had been kicked in and an alarm pad was right next to the, no thanks. As Joe put it perfectly, the house has had violence done to it. Not a good vibe. Granted, people buy houses based on far more than a vibe or a history, but it wasn't a good thing to see. I wish that family well and hope the child was protected from that door kicking incident. Joe's search continues, and I'm sure the right place will pop up. For now, we're watching a lot of House Hunting shows on HGTV and TLC -- learning a lot.

In other news, we're entering Butters the hamster into his first competition -- the Hamster Bowl at the local pet store. We expect our boy to just sit there and not move, but he could surprise us. This cracks me up, and we have a crowd coming to support Butters. Everyone wants to see this.

Oh, and I've done some work this weekend too. ;) A few big projects, a massive edit to "What's Your Bridal Style?" -- our veils section went missing on us! -- and sixteen idea proposals for a book series. Fingers, toes and ovaries crossed on that one. It's a breezy, beautiful day, and I'm plowing through some smaller articles and assignments in between doing the question part of "The Bride's Diplomacy Guide." Right now, it's just a list of crappy things that brides and grooms have to deal with -- the solutions come in the next phase. That's where the gold is.

And to close for the day, my suggestion for a great procrastination tool. At, you can create your own ice cream flavor. I pretty much dumped a bunch of cake batter ice cream together with cake batter swirl and chocolate chips and peanut butter cups. Not sure what you'd do with honeycomb (one of the possible ingredients), but hey -- if Ben and Jerry say it works, it works.

Back to work now...and go check out!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Joe defeats the pirate

We saw an unauthorized copy of one of my books on a Web site a few days ago, and Joe put the wheels in motion to get it removed. This book isn't even printed yet, but someone got their hands on an advance copy, an incomplete one at that. Shady little pirate neglected to mention that. So my hero Joe has taken on the good fight in my honor. Sigh...he's looking out for me, which is heartwarming, absolutely heartwarming. And I'd do the same for him....

It's green tea and sinus medicine time. Shutting down my office early and laying down with a good book. I'm starting on 'The Last Days of Dogtown' by Anita Diamant, author of The Red Tent, for our book club in September.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Things are cooking

I am ridiculously happy about my new oven being here, and last night I was able to make Joe a fabulous meal. There's nothing better than having the house smell like raspberry honey mustard chicken, and garlic couscous, and spinach...We ate on the deck, and it was a beautiful night. The last of the Toll House cookies are gone -- they were the first thing I made in the oven -- and I won't be buying more for a long time. They're just too good. ;) What a joy to be able to cook for my loved ones again. Microwave meals can only fulfill so much.

In work news, the fall assignments are rolling in, and it's a very happy sense of overwhelm. My friend Pam once said to me, "Don't confuse your blessings and your burdens," and I've always tried to keep that at the forefront of my mind. Brides and grooms planning their weddings, and their parents, would do well to keep that in mind too -- yes, the swirl of activity and to-do's is overwhelming, the emotions high, but a wedding is a blessing and not a burden. It just takes a shift in your perspective, some positive journaling with my Bride's Gratitude Journal ( and a daily reminder not to confuse those blessings and burdens.

Speaking of blessings, I'm happy to suggest to you, a site for those of you who are planning Destination Weddings. Lisa Light is the author of a book on the subject, and her site provides terrific articles on planning, packing your gown, coordinating your guests' travel, and a smart currency converter, among other features. If you're jetting out of town to marry, check out this site.

And also, check out my new bridal beauty article at -- I'll be writing a series of articles on beautiful bridal looks, and I started with a 6-month bridal beauty countdown and an upcoming story on tooth-whitening for a fabulous smile. I welcome your requests and suggestions for future stories....

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Concert under the stars

What an incredible night. The concert was amazing, and the stars were out overhead. This was my birthday gift to Joe, whose month and a half of birthday celebration culminated in this night out to a concert he originally thought he was going to miss due to a family vacation. So I'm thrilled to have gotten him the tickets, and doubly thrilled that the band was able to play. (They had a loss the day before, so I applaud their strength of character to play on). Every now and then, I'd sneak a glance over to see the look of happiness on Joe's face, that flicker of recognition when the first few notes of a favorite song sounded. And on the ride home, with his face illuminated by the dashboard lights, his hand would move on to my hand or my leg, the most comfortable and warm gesture ever.

Today was blissful relaxation, the breather before our busy workweek. He has big things going on, and I'm swamped-busy with work, so a few hours by the pool, a great lunch at his place, that smile when I walk through the door. It's these little things, the smile in the eyes, the amusement when my overloaded purse knocks over a glass on the coffee table. I know how to make an exit. ;)

This relationship, with all its levels of friendship within it, is such a gift. I woke up this morning, and just smiled...

Tonight I'm working on my first sculpture in a long time. I just had a yearning to do something creative in a get-your-hands-dirty kind of way, an entirely different set of muscles than writing. Right now, my brick of terra cotta looks like a brownie with wings, but it's always the second sculpture that's the keeper. This is bliss. My oven works, my hands are red from terra opportunities for creativity and creation are back...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Courtship stories

Here's something fun...for the rehearsal dinner, for the wedding reception, even for family gatherings after the wedding. Create your own mini-book with your photos and the story of your relationship at Guests *love* to read about how you met, where you've traveled, and the wonderful moments of your relationship, so create a fun keepsake to share your joy and excitement.

It's the weekend, finally. Joe and I are going to the movies tonight and then to the Counting Crows and Goo Goo Dolls concert tomorrow night. With Dad's blood counts coming in remarkably well this week, after being scarily low on Monday, I can relax a little bit and have some good nights out. :)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Blissful about my new e-book!

I am thrilled beyond belief to launch 'The Blissful Bride,' which is a combination e-book and audio files with three different guided meditations -- all to get today's brides, grooms, mothers, and bridal parties to relieve their stress. We're sending all frazzled, overwhelmed bridal people on a Bliss Trip so that they can restore their original engagement bliss, enjoy the process, and use this material to relax in the future (perhaps when it's time to write all those thank you notes!) Our groundbreaking project can be found at, and soon on my Web site. Kerstin also has it on her terrific site,, where you'll find her previous audio CDs and her Bliss-Trip-a-Day e-mail sign-up for beautifully-written, very sensory 'escapes' from daily stress. I'm so blessed to have met Kerstin through my publicist Julie Berry, and we're both filled with joy that we can put something so useful and comforting out there for all to enjoy.

A fun interview

Yesterday I spoke for an hour with a reporter for Women's Health and Fitness about the stresses of being a bridesmaid. Financial, emotional, how to handle a difficult bride, etc. I don't think I've ever laughed so much during an interview. The reporter appreciated my bridesmaid triumph stories, and some of the inside scoop on what so many bridesmaids are writing to ask me.

In December, I'll be a bridesmaid again...for my brother's wedding. I've given them copies of my books, a Wedding Web site, invitation-making software. I haven't heard from the maid of honor yet about any kind of shower, but there is talk of a co-ed party in October at my brother's favorite restaurant, a place that my great-uncles frequented back in their day. Very casual, very laid-back. Everyone asks me if I'm contributing lots of ideas for their wedding -- nah, it's not my place. I'll chime in if I'm asked about anything.

I mentioned the other day that I'd watch the wedding episode of "Dog the Bounty Hunter" and beyond the incredibly sad part of his daughter dying on their wedding day (heart-breaking!), it reminded me of our family's 2-week vacation in Hawaii back when I was a teenager. The conch calls, the fire dancers, staying at the Coco Palms where Elvis filmed 'Blue Hawaii,' biking down a volcano, visiting the 7 sacred pools of Hana. I remember how the air smelled like hibiscus when we stepped off the plane...My family has had incredible travels, such great memories of a simpler, better time. Amazing how just seeing a TV show set in Hawaii can bring that all back in such sensory detail...

Monday, August 07, 2006

For a look at lace

I've been asked many times about the different kinds of laces for gowns, veils, trains, gloves, and bouquet handles, and I've finally found a great site where you can see the details. It's . Just click on the link to the left, alongside the fabric glossaries, and you'll come to a terrific listing of lace definitions, and --even better -- great graphics of the designs. Of course, it's always a wise idea to go to any craft or fabric store to see and touch the different kinds of laces, get a feel for price differentials, and see which detailing calls out to you. Lace might remind you of stuffy tea parties and grandmother's curtains, but the new designs and artistry in lace production has brought this embellishment into the 21st century. (Now keep in mind that I'm not endorsing this site for purchase -- it's just a place for you to take a look! :)

The best salad ever

Joe brought over the makings for an amazing salad this weekend -- spinach salad with fresh tomato and mozzarella, with fresh basil and a berry vinaigrette. As he was out cooking the steaks and then tearing up the basil, I thought 'This is phenomenal.' My oven has been broken for 2 months -- for an Italian girl like myself, that's torture not to be able to cook for my loved ones. So the new oven comes in on Wednesday, and I've blocked off Thursday as a full cooking day. Lasagna with alternate layers of sausage and ground beef. Shrimp with chipotle sauce and lime. Meatballs. Everything's been 'off' for the past few weeks since I couldn't cook for Joe and my family. Just two more days...

In the meantime, I finished "What's your Bridal Style?" and started on "The Bride's Diplomacy Guide," worked on two contests for PashWeddings, did a few releases for a phenomenal wedding coordinator in Houston, and re-designed the graphics in my press kit. As I was searching for my Halloween Costume online, I chanced upon a fun placement of my books: I had no idea they were in that chain! My teams are doing an amazing job of placing the books. I'm very, very lucky that my publishers have supported my backlist titles for so long. Usually, you get a month of releases and then you're yesterday's news. But the houses with which I work are very motivated and very creative -- perfect matches.

Tomorrow night is the wedding episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter. I *have* to see that!

Time for my Lean Cuisine lunch with a side of Joe's salad. A perk of not having an oven: I'm down 10 pounds. No Toll House cookies. ;) I'll make one batch on Thusday, for Joe. A promise is a promise...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Audio Version

Kerstin Sjoquist of just sent over the audio files for our wedding de-stressing MP3, to be paired with an e-book, and this is the first time I've heard my words set to music on audio. It's the most amazing thing. I've seen my words in black and white, but to have my suggestion of Red Rock Canyon in Arizona, with the cliffs the color of rubies and the sky a velvety purple included...I'm just floored. We hope to launch this project next week. This one's been over a year in the making, so it's very exciting to see it come together.

Other than that, just plugging away on the book and set to be finished on Friday. We have a few new experts who want in, so I'm awaiting their quotes and suggestions. There's no better feeling than hitting the Print button and seeing the manuscript print out to 600 pages after all of the puzzle pieces have come together.

Outside of work, just waiting for the phone call from my Dad for his transfusion appointment. We've stopped calling it a lube job, and now we're calling it 'the juice.' There's a twisted sense of humor that you have to have when you're dealing with such a stressful thing, and strength sometimes shows up in weird jokes. I've long been taking notes on how others deal with us taking care of him. Some people flee. Others stand strong by us. Others can't be bothered to take into consideration just how much we're all going through. So it reveals the angels in our lives...we've been the recipients of so much kindness and gentle treatment over the past 2 1/2 years, so I'll focus on those people.

On a lighter note, Project Runway did not disappoint last night. I love to see karma in action.

Hoping for the rain to hold off so Joe and I can go to the pool again. We went yesterday and the water was as warm as it is in the Caribbean, with a cool breeze to ward off this 110-degree heat. It was just what I needed, and my thoughtful, gentle man brought me iced coffee just the way I like it.....

Monday, July 31, 2006

Wedding superstitions

Wedding superstitions have been around forever, and I just read through some new ones at where I answer questions on the forum. I thought I'd heard everything, but 'have a housecat eat food out of your left shoe' and 'it's good luck to find a spider in your wedding dress' were new to me. It's both good and bad luck to wear pearls, and whatever you do, don't rip your dress on the morning of the wedding.

I just finished a ton of Monday business and am procrastinating before I get into the new book. This one is 'The Bride's Diplomacy Guide,' and as I'm fleshing out the sections, it's hitting me that so many of the problems brides face with others boils down to one thing. The offender's mindset: "Your happiness is costing ME something, so I'm going to cause problems, roll my eyes, sabotage your plans, and insult your partner -- all to deflate your joy, so that I'm not miserable and scared of the future all by myself." I wonder if they'll let me put that on the book's cover? And with that insight into the bottom of the problem whenever a happy couple gets trouble from others, the diplomacy can do its work. This one is going to be tremendous fun to write.

Joe's home. The world has color again. We just got some tiki torches for the back deck and barbecued chicken to pair with turkey sausage, peppers and onions, and salad. Spent yesterday at the pool and we're planning an end-of-summer trip to the beach. I hear there are some dolphins I need to see.