Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Get ready for "Summers At Blue Lake"

I'm so proud of my dear friend (and Matron of Honor) Jill Althouse-Wood for the years and years she put into the creation of her debut novel "Summers At Blue Lake," which reviewers are comparing to the work of Elizabeth Berg and Anita Shreve. Jill has a lasting way with words, so you'll enjoy this women's literary novel as the perfect end-of-summer read. Visit her site at http://www.jillalthousewood.com/ for more information on the novel -- launching on August 3rd -- her artwork and workshops, and what's next for my sister of the arts. Of course, she's the new pick in my bridal book club!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My new podcast is up!

The newest installment of "Here Come the Moms" is up at the Wedding Podcast Network, and we're featuring an interview with a real-life mom and bride who planned together while far apart. If distance is a factor for you, you'll learn what worked best for them. http://herecomethemoms.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=238787

I've also gotten word that my new book project is a Go! So once the ink is dry on the contracts, I'll be starting on the new project. More details to come soon...

Today, I'm headed into New York City to meet with Anne Chertoff from iVillage Weddings, where I have my new expert section on their message boards. (Send your etiquette questions there!) As much as I love working on the house, it's time to get dressed up, hop in the limo, and cross the river for lunch in the city.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

All things on hold

Have you ever had a week where it felt like absolutely everything you have to do is somehow blocked from getting done? That's where I'm at now. The drywall guy has gone MIA so my office setup is pushed back until he returns. In the meantime, I'm hunched over my laptop, now on the bedroom dresser so as to be hooked to the Internet, which decided to go out all day, further delaying my work. I won't list the rest of the on-hold projects, because you know what I mean and these kinds of delays are part of the new home package. So it's off to see Midsummer Night's Dream at Shakespeare in the park on this lovely night, to escape the house and enjoy the bard's best.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The garden is in!

I've written often here about my 'snapshot moments,' those dreamy moments I've imagined coming to life....and we got one last night. Joe and I put in our flower garden in the front landscaping, and it was even better than I imagined it would be! This is one time when reality surpassed my imagination. We have bright reds and pinks and yellows dotting our front garden, and the solar lanterns in the middle look phenomenal. How great to get down into the dirt and the mud and feel the rich, fertile soil between my fingers, smell that fresh scent of the grass and the dirt, have no plan for placement but just let the garden design itself as we went along. I admit that I woke up at 6am to see if the deer really did avoid our flowers, and we're good. No chomped-down stumps out there. :) The best part was working on it together, looking over at Joe and seeing those strong hands tamping each plant into place. As the sun set, the solar lanterns came on, and we had our own dreamy scene of a job well done.

Which brings up a wedding point: when you feel 'stuck' with any big tasks like hiring the right entertainers, knowing you have a lot of auditions to go to, you can return yourself to right by having a working list of little, easy tasks that will give you the satisfaction of crossing lots of things off your To-Do list. It might be as simple as writing up a page on your wedding website, adding some towels to your registry, printing out the labels for your wedding guest welcome baskets...whatever's quick and easy for you. You'll feel great knowing you got something done and that the big tasks aren't all-encompassing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Language of Flowers -- convey a message with your wedding flowers

Did you know that flowers have a language all their own? The symbolism of flowers goes back to the early 19th century when a French author put pen to paper to record the oral tradition of messages given along with the gift of a single flower or bouquet. I've just completed a massive article on this topic for my website -- Mike will have it launched soon -- and here are a few examples so that you can see what I'm talking about:

Rose: Love
Rose (Austrian): Lovely; You are everything that is lovely
Rose (Bridal): Ours will be a happy love
Rose (China): Your beauty is always new
Rose (Lavender): Our love is pure
Rose (Pink): To my friend
Rose (Red): I love you; passionate love
Rose (Red Leaved): Wishes for prosperity
Rose (Red and White): Unity Rosebud (Red): You are young and lovely

What I find most fascinating about the language of flowers is that courtship was such a careful and delicate thing back in the Jane Austen days, that a man who was trying to woo a woman would have to send a secret message through a flower that he left for her or had delivered to her through a friend. And even more fascinating are the number of negative connotations that some of these flowers have! Yellow carnations, for example, mean 'I am disappointed with you.' How'd you like to find that under your window? Ah well, they didn't have IMs or text messaging back then, so they had to argue through the flower garden. ;) I'll let you know when my article is up on my site so that you can check out what your wedding flowers are saying....hopefully you don't have any yellow carnations in there! And forget about the striped carnations, which mean 'I am sorry, I must say no.' Ouch! Those were actually on my wishlist for the wedding -- scratch that!

And speaking of flowers, Joe and I just picked out all the flowers for our front landscaping...a gorgeous array of brights that were on the deer-don't-eat-these list. We saw a pineapple plant, which I knew meant 'hospitality' but have just learned also means 'you are absolutely perfect.' Good to know.

Monday, July 16, 2007

There comes a time when you just have to hand it to a pro

As much as I appreciate a good upper-body workout, I'm just not strong enough to scrape off 50 year-old wallpaper paste. I have a turbo steamer, but that's just softening the walls enough to gauge them. It's working, but I'm beat. So it's time to call in an expert, so that I can actually work on my book and articles while someone *else* scrapes at the former owners' seeming use of Gorilla Glue on these walls. I say this as I'm working on our new hardwood floor in our office, so I have a new appreciation for what a pro can do. I'm done. These hands will scrape no more. ;)

In wedding world, I'm going with my mom to pick out her dress. We've had to re-schedule three times due to my overload schedule and her chemo, but this Thursday could be the big day. After we shop, we'll grab lunch. I went to visit my gown the other day while walking back to my car after lunch with Joe...I so picked the right one. And I picked the right gown, too. ;)

Friday, July 13, 2007

iVillage Weddings Etiquette Expert

That would be me. I've just started as the iVillage Weddings Etiquette Expert, where I'll answer all of your etiquette questions on their message board. So visit my Q&A section at http://weddings.ivillage.com/messageboards [it's Ask the Etiquette Expert], and I'll help you wade through all those confusing Old World vs. New World Etiquette issues. What's up with And Guests? How do you tell a guest (again) that she can't bring the kids to the reception? How do you word the invitation when your parents aren't paying for the wedding, but you want to honor them in some way? When do you send Save the Dates? Who gets invited to the rehearsal dinner? Where do the rules stop and your rules start? I'm here to help, so post your questions to me as you need me.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Honeymoon finder

This is a fantastic find! I was just chatting with iVillage Weddings expert Anne Chertoff, and she sent over this link to their Honeymoon Finder tool: http://choosers.ivillage.com/weddings/honeymoon_finder/ -- it has the types of honeymoons broken down into exactly the kinds of styles I've been considering...and I may have found a contender for our own honeymoon! I thought I'd share this gem with you...enjoy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Where to Honeymoon?

My head is spinning with the possibilities...should we go to Barbados? St. John? Disneyworld? Part of me wants the tranquil island getaway with nothing to do but lie in the sun and sip pina coladas, and part of me wants the adventurous vacation with dolphin swims and catamarans, horseback riding, waterfall climbing. I'm too scattered right now to really focus on it, so that means backing off the topic and waiting for the right ad to come on TV at the right time. ;)

We have our reception menu tasting in August, where we'll attend an event that's very much like a wedding thrown by our reception site for all of their upcoming wedding couples. That's where we'll get bite-sized portions of all of their cocktail hour, entree and dessert options in order to finalize our wedding menu. We're less than a year away, and time will fly. Plus, with all of the house business and work craziness, it'll be nice to put on the little black dress and go chow down on some salmon and chateaubriand, petit fours and six different kinds of wedding cake (Oh my! Joe and I will be selecting our wedding cake in just a few weeks!). A fun FYI...we're having our wedding at the same location as the first wedding we ever attended together. Very early in our dating era, Joe asked me to be his date at a colleague's wedding, and that was tons of pressure to meet *all* of his bosses and co-workers in one shot. I guess I did pretty well. ;) So that means we'll have our first married dance on the very same dance floor where we slow-danced for the first time. I knew he was a keeper at Brett and Joanna's wedding...Joe is talented with the slow-dance.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

So Joe is now a master electrician guru -- it's amazing to watch him work; he's so meticulous and puts so much care into everything he does. He gets this adorable look of concentration, and I'm swooning. This is also the first time he's seen me at work...I'm sure he's scratching his head at my methodology -- the folders spread out in a big half circle on the living room floor, papers everywhere, seeming chaos...and then it's all neatly put together in a flash. My timing has changed...before we bought the house, I'd leave his place and be home and at work by 9:30pm, writing until 1am. Now, I'm waking up at 6am, and there's no way on God's earth that I'm going to work til 1am. Which is adding up to a more normal workday. It's a happy adjustment, and the strange thing is that I've been *more* efficient this way. 'Early to bed, early to rise' has some truth to it. ;)

It's been a while since I suggested some great websites for you, so here's my It List for the week:
www.berries.com -- You will fall over. These chocolate-covered strawberries are enormous and delicious, the perfect gift for parents or for your wedding coordinator during and after the planning.
www.foodtv.com -- Create your party menus here, with great alternatives to the traditional fete fare. We like Guy Fieri's lineup, but Emeril always has a spicy place in our hearts for party menus.
www.gailwatsoncakes.com -- Check out her cake decorating kits...you buy some plain sheetcakes, or make cupcakes, and use Gail's add-ons to decorate like a pro.
www.sharonnaylor.net -- to get my Bride's Gratitude Journal, which is going to keep your perspective and appreciation in place so that you enjoy the process. [And all my other books are there, too ;)]
www.invitations4sale.com -- the best place to get discounts on the top invitation collections, and a % of your purchase goes to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
www.photofiddle.com -- turn your digital photos into creative, gorgeous works of art. Joe and I have our engagement photo done up like an oil painting -- it's gorgeous! I'm looking for an appropriate photo to get one of those Andy Warhol color block prints done.
www.victoriassecret.com -- build your arsenal of lingerie.
www.bnbfinder.com -- find the perfect bed and breakfast for your destination wedding, your guests' lodging, a unique setting for showers, and more.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Okay, the overwhelm with the new house is subsiding. Things are getting done, and progress is now visible. I think we both needed to make a dent in the huge, huge list of things to do...and extra things to do just kept popping up with every move we made. Joe spent most of yesterday putting in the new tile floor in the bathroom, and he did a masterful job. It's like a spa in there, such a huge difference from the 1960s mini tile. We finally have a surface with a new color and texture! We're almost ready to prime and paint the bedroom, so the fun stuff begins, and my skills can come into play.

In the meantime, as much as I'd love to work on the walls, it's worktime here in the office. We're getting ready to launch a new feature for my website, a collection of worksheets that are a free addition to my book The Busy Bride's Essential Wedding Checklists, and we're almost done with the free style-definition articles that will launch along with my new book What's Your Bridal Style? when that comes out in December. I'm at the fun stage of our book Planning Your NJ Wedding, which I'm writing with Erik and Beth Kent at www.njwedding.com -- I've just printed out all 130 experts' questionnaires, and now I get to folder them by topic and start creating that one. That's been a long time coming, so I'm very excited to spread out these thousands of pages on our living room floor and put them all together. And then there are the new articles I'm discussing with some of my dream-placement magazines. Lots of exciting stuff going on, and I'm doing them all while looking out my new office window at the butterflies and birds that are all over our idyllic location here.

Such great things are going to happen here...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

In loving memory of Annette

We got the call this morning that our dear cousin Annette lost her battle with cancer. The updates had been heartbreaking -- she had run into so many challenges that prevented the doctors from even starting chemo or radiation. So my thoughts, prayers and comfort are with her husband [there's no imagining Ralph without Annette...they were 'that couple'] and her two daughters [one of whom is expecting her first child any day now.] Rest in peace, Annette. You were the center of our family and wherever you are now has just become a more beautiful place because you have arrived. The aunts and uncles are certainly there to greet you. Ala famiglia.

Monday, July 02, 2007

What's Your Bridal Style?

My new book, What's Your Bridal Style, is coming out in just a few months - helping you define your wedding style as the NEW first step in planning before you even talk to your experts -- so it was very fun for me to find this defining-your-style for the *home* quiz (http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/pac_ctnt_988/text/0,,HGTV_22056_33320,00.html).

We're almost at the point where we can start thinking about style and decor with the new house...right now it's all about unraveling the history of the home...and I have a few choice words for whomever wired this place for electricity. We're almost through the puzzle of it, and things are starting to take shape because Joe is so amazing at forming plans and bringing it all together. Joe and I really needed his cousins' birthday and graduation party the other night...Polish family parties are outstanding, from the great food to the warm company, and on the drive home, we saw so many 4th of July weekend fireworks in the distance along the highway. At one point, it looked like we were driving right into them, like special effects from a movie. Quite pretty.

We're "In Process", but at least I'm starting to remember where I saw the box with the dental floss and where the flathead screwdriver is, and I got my first "oh, you look *so* much better" after a week of hearing how exhausted I look. We're so entering the Better Homes and Gardens home redecorating contest, with before and after shots of each room and full details of what we did to the place...I may throw in a 'before and after' of me so that the esteemed judges of said contest can consider a prize for best recovery from dark circles under the eyes ;)