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 www.BnBFinder.com 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 www.pashweddings.com, my Q&A column at www.njwedding.com, and a very fun new resource at www.BnBFinder.com, 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 www.mountaincow.com. 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 this...so 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' loss...family, 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 ResortsandLodges.com. 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 PashWeddings.com has just launched the sign-up for a Daily E-Mail From Sharon Naylor program. It's free, so sign up here (http://www.pashweddings.com/weddingtips.htm) 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 (www.ohsofab.com). 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...