Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"The List" on WWD

Check out my spotlight contributions to "The List" at WWD: My publicist Julie just sent this over, and as I'm sitting cross-legged on an orange shag carpet (the previous homeowner's soon-to-be-gone choice), hunching over my laptop, I think I may have frightened the still-here plumbers with my echo-ing "Yes!" What I have learned about remodeling a house...take all estimates and double them. *Unlike* wedding world, where you know exactly what everything is going to cost ;) As sweaty and cranky as I am, I wouldn't trade this for the world.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Planning a new home is like planning a wedding

We're in! Joe carried me across the threshold, and we had a champagne toast to mark our first day in the new house. It struck me immediately that planning for a new home is like planning a wedding -- emotions run high with both excitement and overwhelm. Everyone has advice and suggestions that are wonderful but can be like eating too many cookies...too much of a good thing. And the swirling list of to-do's renders you almost paralyzed. Where do you start? How do you stay organized? How is life going to change after all this planning? It's exactly the same.

So we're planning our new home like we're doing the wedding -- we don't make decisions without consulting with each other, we depend on each other's strengths in certain areas, we keep a sense of humor when we can, and we focus on the bigger meaning of it all -- the start of a new life together. Friends and family stopped by to help and to bring flowers, friends stopped by with welcome messages and gifts, and the new neighbors have been terrific. Although it wasn't exactly the most ideal first impression when I had to go next door to borrow a corkscrew, a moment topped only by the fact that our neighbor's 8 year-old son knew where it was and went to get it for us ;)

So we're in the middle of a wave-filled ocean with lots of ups and downs, as the house reveals itself to us. [I'm inspired right now by one of my favorite movies playing on my DVD right now -- Under the Tuscan Sun, where Frances says that "the key to overcoming buyer's remorse is to have a plan. Pick one room and make it your own. Go slowly. Introduce yourself, and the house will introduce itself to you.' So true.] Our house has revealed itself to have gorgeous hardwood floors underneath the shoddy carpet. And a 1950's maritime wallpaper behind the ugly wood paneling in what will be our office. And an oven that doesn't work. So much for our romantic dinner at the house tonight. But a new home, like a wedding, has thousands of facets and details and steps...not every one of them can be flawless. We have to have a few challenges to make it worth it. The best weddings come through a trial by fire with lots of unexpected setbacks, and that's how it will be with the house.

What matters most about the new house, like a wedding, is who you're spending your life with. That's it. So while exhaustion is definitely a factor, we always push through that hitting the wall period and get a few extra good hours in. Bottom line: in the first two days, we have all the carpets up, all the bedrooms cleared of an obscene number of staples in the floor, wallpaper down in 2 rooms, a new light fixture up, most of our kitchen supplies in place, our cable and phone in place, and a wooden duck named Anthony who sits in our front window looking back over his shoulder at us like he's just seen something phenomenal outside. All the phenomenal is inside. Just like with a wedding.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Martha Stewart Weddings appearance

Yesterday, I was a guest expert on Martha Stewart Weddings Sirius Satellite Radio show. After an exhaustive security search (would you like a pap test with that?), I took the elevator up 36 floors to the Sirius studios, and THAT was amazing. They were setting up the equipment for Ben Harper's appearance on one of the shows, so it was just me and the roadies in the waiting area. I saw a very familiar-looking man over by the counter, and the lifelong Giants fan in me said "Is that Carl Banks?" Rather than approach and be wrong, I just sat it out. Darcy Miller, editor of Martha Stewart Magazines, walked in and greeted me so warmly, I forgot how in awe I was about *where* I was. As we walked through the lineup of studios, there was the NFL studio with -- you guessed it -- Carl Banks's lifesize player cutout on the wall. So it was him. I have the Giants in my DNA, so I would probably recognize any of the players from the 80s and 90s. Being an adult now and far removed from my family's regular attendance at Giants games, I'd probably trip over Jeremy Shockey now and not recognize him. But I digress.... the Martha Stewart Weddings segment went really well. We bounced around between talking about wedding vow renewals (my book Renewing Your Wedding Vows was the topic of the day) and jewelry, what to throw at the wedding couple, such as birdseed, etc, and my own engagement. I think the gorgeous ring Joe gave me got more airtime than I did ;) But I'll take it. This was a fantastic opportunity, which leads to great things.

Speaking of great things, Joe and I spent the evening at Home Depot getting our primer and painting supplies, some fire extinguishers, looking at doorknobs -- the great details that have been in my 'snapshots' for so long. We're a day away now...and it's going to be pure magic to have Joe carry me across the threshold, have our champagne toast with the bottle of Prosecco that the engagement ring store gave to us, and have our first moments in the house be all about the dream come true of our new life together. It's just like getting engaged -- the very first moments are all about the deepest meaning: the relationship and the promise of building a beautiful future together. So, again just like a wedding, even though there's a *ton* of stuff to do, that's when we take that moment to say the right words, and make it all about Us. And then we rip into the carpets and do the demo work that we've seen on every home remodeling show we've ever seen. My Dad, having been sick for so long, has a new pinkness in his cheeks with the renewed sense of meaning -- that he's needed for advice on carpet clearing ("roll up the sections, tie them with twine, and throw them out the window so you don't hurt your backs.") This all takes away his jitters about having eye surgery on Monday. My mom can't wait to see the butterfly wallpaper in the kitchen before we start ripping that out. Joe's mom is going to come over and help us with the shelf liner paper, and has taken a few days off of work in case we need her for anything. And Joe's brother might be on board to help up rip out the old paneling in our office. And in the middle of all this, the entire week will be me working on my laptop and letting the plumber in, the air duct cleaners, the carpet cleaners, the hardwood floor measuring people, and whoever else shows up waiting for a check ;) Since I donated all of my furniture to various charities and missions, there's not much for the movers to bring over, so I'm not going to schlep as much stuff over on my own. My back is finally a bit better, and I'd like it to stay that way so that I can join Joe in painting our ceilings and walls and trim without massive doses of Motrin.

I'm just so excited that this is all finally starting...we've waited so long.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The countdown begins...

Actually, it began several months ago, but the big, pink numbers on my calendar say that we're three days away from closing on our house. It feels like *forever* since we first found our new home, and we've been packing for weeks. Most of my furniture has been donated to Habitat for Humanity, so I'm surrounded by boxes in this temporary state of flux. It gets difficult sometimes, since I need organization around me, but all I have to do is look at the boxes of shelf liner paper that my Mom brought over, the carpet cutter tools that my Dad lent us, and I just smile knowing that Joe and I will very soon be in the dreamy stage of prepping our house and painting the walls (our palette is breathtaking!) and placing the furniture where we want it. The house is a blank canvas to us, and we get to create the look and feel of our home. That's just bliss.

Joe came over with beautiful flowers for me last night (is he the best, or what?), so I'm recharged and ready for another big milestone tomorrow -- I'm guesting on Martha Stewart Weddings Sirius Satellite Radio at noon. So just like I did with the Mike & Juliet show, I step away from the cardboard boxes and step back into my author world. As much as I love prepping for our new house and the wedding, it's equally exciting to have these big work-world events to look forward to. There are so many once-in-a-lifetime moments going on right now, and I'm grateful every day....even with the little maelstroms that pop up when you're planning something big. (Who knew that getting our separate phone lines combined into the house would be so labor-intensive?).

Friday, June 15, 2007

Coming soon...The Bride's Diplomacy Guide!

With all this talk about Bridezillas and their selfish ways, let's also not forget that sometimes a mild-mannered bride can completely lose it when she has selfish or troublemaking people *around* her. How do you tell a bitter bridesmaid to stop the whining? How do you handle people who send in response cards that they will be bringing their kids to the wedding when you specifically said No to that? How do you confront your parents when they're the ones misbehaving? How do you handle difficult wedding vendors? I've tackled 150 scenarios -- and given you actual script suggestions on what to say for a smoother solution -- in my upcoming book The Bride's Diplomacy Guide, your portable 'coach' for those difficult conversations. Pre-order is up right now at Enjoy....and happy problem-solving!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The perfect thing for showers!

I wrote a while back about how much Joe and I loved a recipe by Guy Fieri, the Food Network Star, who earned a couple of new fans here during a wedding special. As I was looking through his other recipes online, I saw that offers you the printout format of full-page, 3x5 and 4x6 cards -- which is the *perfect* thing to give the bride and groom! So many bridal showers are planned with a Kitchen Theme or a Gourmet Theme, with the focus on the couple's cooking repertoire, that it would be a fantastic idea for shower hosts to tell their guests to go to Food Network and print out their choices of favorite recipes for the couple. At the shower, the bride and groom get their kitchen-centric gifts (blenders, panini makers, exotic spice collections and a spice rack) and then they also get a stack of amazing recipes to add to their own recipe boxes or folders. Check out the ones I just printed out from Guy Fieri's lineup on
* Penne with cajun hot links and chipotle shrimp
* Jambalaya sandwich
* Pulled pork egg rolls
* Chicken avocado egg rolls
Shower hosts planning co-ed showers: this is a particularly hot trend right now, so if you're doing a kitchen shower, keep an eye out for the celebrity cookbook authors' booksignings at the major book chains and at Williams Sonoma stores. An autographed copy for the bride and groom is a great addition to their kitchen and a spotlight gift that will get lots of ooooh's and ahhhh's at the shower!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Mike, Juliet, Sam, Bill, two Bridezillas and me

If you saw the show this morning, your jaw probably dropped to the floor like mine did. A bride who was mad that one of her bridesmaids had to leave to attend to her baby in the ER with a 103 fever? A bride who made all of her bridesmaids cut out carbs and attend a boot camp so they'd be beautiful in the photos for her? When they cut to me, I was still reeling from some of what I heard. The audience actually gasped at some of what those brides had to say. Mike and Juliet turned to look at me for solutions to the Bridezilla problem, and my first sentence was out of shock...and then I launched into how Bridezilla behavior is actually the opposite of etiquette, how a bully bride is far from the ideal. In a nutshell, the two Bridezillas weren't too fond of me. ;) But it had to be said. In our era of praising spoiled heiresses and the Me First generation, an etiquette expert requesting consideration and respect for others isn't going to be voted prom queen. I was there to do a job, and I got the message out -- today's bride is not the Bridezilla. There's just a tiny percentage that gravitate toward a reality show. For every me-first bride, there are a thousand brides who take care to meet their guests needs and who would drive that bridesmaid to the ER to be with her baby. So let's just say I pretty much hung out by myself in the green room.

It wasn't an icky crowd at all. I loved seeing the PAs and producers running around doing their jobs, the Blackberries in full use, the hosts mingling with all the guests, and Sam from Top Chef getting his coffee and saying a quick hello to me. I'm a big Top Chef fan -- the marathon is on right now as I'm working -- and Sam is one of my favorites. So it was really nice to meet him as well as say hello to Bill Bellamy (who, I've just found out, Joe was actually on television with, years ago in college).

So now that Joe has picked up the bandages I got him for his softball tournament injuries (my man's a warrior!), I'm working into the night to complete a bunch of almost-done assignments. Tomorrow I'm back in the city for a big meeting, and Friday is rest-the-back day. I'm not moving at all.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Catch me on The Morning Show With Mike and Juliet

I just got the call. I'll be on The Morning Show With Mike and Juliet tomorrow morning, discussing how to handle it when the bride is a Bridezilla. What's the expected level of self-interest, and what's going too far? And how do you tame the most heinous of self-centered brides? This is going to be FUN...

Joe's in the news!

I woke up early today to see if Joe was quoted in an article about his firm's participation in a charity event for the Fresh Air Fund, and there he was! Great quotes, too :)

Speaking of charities, I have Habitat for Humanity coming over to assess my bedroom furniture set, entertainment center, desk and rocking chair for donation. While it makes me sad to part with my grandmother's bedroom set -- it's gorgeous! -- it thrills me to know that a Habitat family might be able to call it their own someday soon. That's something you should know...Habitat and other charities will come pick up your castoff furniture and other donations for use in their project homes and in their stores for fundraising. So if you're combining homes right now, or wanting to get rid of your college furniture before the wedding, think about donating rather than dumping your stuff.

And finally, my novel "It's My Wedding Too" has just made another list of top chick-lit reads: The ladies in the Pash book club * loved* my novel -- it's a quick, light read for summer and wedding season -- and many suggested it as a gift for the bride during the stressful planning months.

In a little bit, I'll talk to Joe about his appearance in the media, and then I'm into a hectic day of 5 articles, taking the dog to the vet, and prepping for a meeting with a top TV network. Mom and I shopped for the Big Meeting Outfit yesterday. We wanted to shop for her dress for the wedding, but the spring formals are gone now. So we'll go back to that great little bridal shop for her dress order. Jill (my MoH) and I decided on the short bridesmaid dress (after days and days of considering long formals), so the moms don't have to get gowns now. It's funny...we fell in love with that tea length dress on Day One of our e-mail flurry gown consideration process, but we checked dozens of extras (some good, some hideous) just to be sure. And now we're back to Dress #1, which is often how it works. It's been so much fun to share the excitement of the wedding with my closest friends. For so many years, they supported me and cheered me as I worked on my career goals, and then they were there to support me as I supported my parents through their illnesses. Now we have something beautiful and joyful to work on....and my friends have all told me, "Joe brings out the You in you again."

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Inspiration for your wedding menu

Building your wedding menu can be intimidating. Your caterer has a big, long list of delicious-sounding appetizer, chef station, entree and dessert options and you have no idea how to choose the right combination of dishes to create *the* perfect lineup. After all, the food and the entertainment make the wedding. Caterers and banquet halls will invite you in for an official food tasting months before the wedding, which is the best way to tell what you like and what looks great on the menu with what...but you *can* exercise some creative control over your menu by asking your chef to customize a few dishes. For instance, Joe and I just watched a cable TV wedding special tonight, and we flipped over Food Network Star Guy Fieri's pomegranate honey chicken (we looked it up online right away). While we could ask the caterer to tweak a few of the dishes for our wedding menu, we're also looking -- and this is the big advice of this posting -- for ideas for other wedding weekend events. Maybe we'll do the pomegranate chicken for a wedding weekend lunch with our visiting friends or pre-wedding houseguests, or maybe that will become a great dish for our future married life dinner plans in general. We saw a few of Guy's recipes online, and we're new fans. So, engaged couples, visit for inspiration on your wedding and everyday life recipes collection -- I love how they classify each dish from easy to complicated. Since both Joe and I know our way around the kitchen, it was a thrill beyond belief to spend the evening talking both wedding plans and future lifestyle plans. On top of a wonderful evening of dinner out, going to the bookstore to cruise the new selections, and a holding-hands walk along Main Street, this was the proverbial cherry on the sundae.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

"Our Wedding Story" at

No, not *our* wedding story, but rather the beautiful and inspiring details and first-person recountings of real couples' wedding plans, why they chose what they chose, how they made their budgets work, the thrilling moments they shared with their families...all of the magical things that make wedding time so much of a dream come true.

Pash founder Steven Galvez and I have started a new section on his site where we will tell the stories of our Pash community members, complete with their photos and those great insider advice gems that every bride wants to learn from her peers. As a wedding expert, I offer ideas and help solve dilemmas -- my Bride's Diplomacy Guide is coming out soon! -- and I absolutely love it when my advice vaporizes a couple's problem and inspires a design or style approach. I'm here to help, and I have more than a quarter-million brides and grooms out there who have gotten great stuff from my books. But as much as expert advice answers a big need in the wedding industry, brides also want to hear about what their friends are doing. So it's a double-barrel gift to all those brides and grooms out there: the expert advice you need and the real-world stories and photos you want. I'm excited about this new showcase on the site, as our first questionnaires are coming in, and their photos are *gorgeous*.

I was going to go gown shopping with my Mom today, but I slept wrong on my back and am hobbling around with what feels like sciatica. It had *better* clear up, since Joe and I are going to order our hardwood floors today. I've been waiting for this day and even if I have to walk in there all hunched over and limping, we're choosing our flooring for the office today. I expect lots of curveballs as we put our home's all a matter of finding our way around them. But nothing -- not even a pulled muscle in my back -- is getting in the way of the snapshot I have of our flooring shopping trip. We have two things left to do before we're all set for the move, and it's been an absolute dream to work with Joe on all of this. I hear about so many couples who turn their first home into a battleground, wanting 'my way' and turning it into a primal territorial issue instead of a partnership. But we don't have that. Which tells me I'm *so* marrying the right man. But I already knew that ;)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

You find the strangest things while packing...

With just a few weeks until the big move into our house, I'm fairly well into the packing process (which makes my place a feng shui nightmare right now), but I'm *so* glad I started packing a while ago. These little bursts of packing and organizing are way more enjoyable than if I tried to do it all in one shot. The best part is the treasure trove of fun things I'm finding in my closet and dresser drawers. I apparently was a big fan of hair Scrunchies at one time, and I have a big pile of stockings. So I have an 18 gallon plastic storage container that's filled with my arsenal of Victoria's Secret...and a giant pile of stockings. I also found my choir award from 8th grade graduation -- to quote my choir teacher: "for being the loudest, not necessarily the most on-key." Which is funny, because I am not a loud person. I guess I just had that 'give it your all' mentality even way back then. Other finds: cute jewelry sets I forgot I owned, and a savings bond.

The upheaval of a move can knock you over, so it's important to grab on to these little perks and surprises during the process. So my advice to *other* brides- and grooms-to-be who are also planning for their new home while they're planning their wedding is to look for these little golden moments, surprises, and the mindset that all of this change is ultimately for an incredibly bright future.

I have a ton of writing to do today -- lots of wedding articles, a bunch of web writing, some special projects for other people, and setting up my intern with her next batch of assignments. So it's time for an iced green tea and a chunk of watermelon for an energy boost so that I can keep my butt in this office chair and work some magic on these assignments.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

On Faith Hope and Fiction

The lovely and inspiring Tricia Crisafulli has posted an interview with me on her site ( and it was a welcome re-visit to the topic of wedding vow renewals and the meaning behind my book Renewing Your Wedding Vows. A couple has to renew their vows in word and deed in this fast-paced world where we all have big To-Do lists and other things clamoring for our attention...otherwise the cherished partner can feel like an appliance or some taken-for-granted, almost invisible entity in the house. Just like when we get a reminder to take our vitamins, our busy brains register that there's something essential and good for you that has to be done. So consider showing gratitude to your partner as a kind of vitamin supplement to your relationship -- and if you want to renew your vows officially, I have just the book for you!

Today was a great day spent with Joe -- breakfast, followed by a new-house shopping trip for our sheets that turned into a 'we need a cart!' slightly larger shopping spree (we found gorgeous lamps!), then lunch and -- out of the blue -- one of those knee-weakening kisses. I get flutters in my stomach just thinking about it. I wobbled my way out of there to give him time to work, and right now I'm pulling out all of our engagement cards to read the fantastic and loving excited messages from friends and family. I have a pretty hatbox where I keep all of my priceless correspondence from friends and wonderful letters from editors and readers, so I'll soon look with Joe for a keepsake box in which we'll keep all of our engagement and wedding cards. I guess it's like remembering to take that vitamin...the good stuff is there; you just have to remember to pay attention to it.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

"It's My Wedding Too" on iVillage Weddings!

iVillage Weddings just launched on Friday, and while cruising around to see the site where I will be a guest expert (!!!), I discovered that my novel "It's My Wedding Too" has been recommended as part of the iVillage book club forum! (along with a bunch of great reviews from Amazon!) Check it out:

Joe is off with his brother for the day, and my parents are at the beach for lunch. I'm absolutely thrilled that they got the restorative trip to their favorite restaurant for steamers -- Dad's blood count numbers have been good, his eye surgery hasn't happened yet, so this was a good time to go. I remember how much it boosted my Mom's spirits to get down the shore while she was sick with lymphoma. We have a photo of her from the back, facing the ocean, with her arms raised in victory. And it became true. So today is Dad's turn to get out to the ocean and raise those fists against the cancer...I know how thrilled he is to get a break from the couch and doctors' offices.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Time by the peach tree

Today would have been my grandmother's birthday.

She passed away when I was in high school, and I still miss her so much. She was the kindest, sweetest woman, who remained big-hearted even throughout some big losses and a difficult life, but you can do that when you have a big, loving family and are surrounded by six sisters who are more like best friends and four brothers who look out for you.

I remember when we were little, and my grandmother decided to teach us how to make mini pizzas in pie tins. It was total chaos as my sister, my cousin John and I (all under 8 years old) spastically prepared our pizzas, as clumsy as kids can be with dropping sauce on the floor and mozzarella flying everywhere, with Grammy trying to hold it all together. That was my very first cooking experience, and I remember how proud I was when my misshapen, half-cheesed little pizza came out of the oven. I have all of her recipes now, along with some of her furniture, and since she was a member/founder of the Butterfly Club, I beam whenever I see a butterfly. Today, I'll go over to my parents' house where my grandmother's peach tree -- which is *still* producing edible peaches (such trees are not supposed to be able to do that after eight years, and it's been almost 20) -- graces the corner of the yard, to touch the branches and think about her for a while. She would absolutely * love* Joe...she'd be cooking for him every day, sending home packages of meatballs and chicken parmigiana, pasta fagioli, soup -- just like my mother does for us now. She was one of the good ones on this earth... I'm super-close with her sister, my great-aunt Millie, who has become like a grandmother to me (although I'm not sure she appreciates having a 38 year-old granddaughter!) so I'll talk with Aunt Mil later this morning. This won't be a working day. My parents gave me a dozen empty Poland Spring boxes, so I'm packing up everything in my kitchen except a few dishes and a spatula and a pizza cutting wheel. Good to have priorities ;) And my grandmother's rolling pin, sauce spoon, and other treasures will come with us to the new house, where we'll use them to make pizzas as one of our first meals. Joe had mentioned a while back that we should make homemade pizzas sometime, and that made me smile when he said that. It's one of the many snapshots I've imagined for our new home, which takes away every ounce of nerves about the big move. We're going to be so happy there. It's going to be a home filled with love. And great pizza.

Happy birthday, Grammy. I miss you very much.