Friday, February 26, 2010

The Key

Let me share with you the #1 key to the Pugs' happy relationship.

You think I kid. But I don't. The #1 key to harmony* in my and Kevin's relationship is apartment cleanliness.

I have always felt a sense of satisfaction and peace at maintaining a clean, tidy home. I love the feeling after I vaccuum and polish the floors, clear and store the clutter, scrub down the bathroom and kitchen, and very importantly, wash all the dishes in the sink.  Granted sometimes I would go embarrassingly long in between cleanings, but at least keeping the place clutter and grossness-free has always been a priority.

Now, when Kevin moved in, by far the most obvious problem we had adjusting to each other was our *drastically* different approaches to cleanliness.

It was war royale.  For example, I can't stand a sink full of dirty dishes.  He admits that this does not bother him (horrors). 

(oddly, these look like clean dishes placed in a sink, but point is that a sink full of dishes drives me nuts)

I like to put my clothes away.  He likes to use his clothes as floor covering.  I like vacuuming up after our pugs.  I don't think he realizes that they shed.  It started to feel like this:
Source (huh, maybe I should buy this book)

It's not that Kevin doesn't appreciate the cleaning that I do--it's simply nowhere on his radar that something is messy.  I think he's missing some kind of brain chip (I'm sure he would say the same about me).  Things that I consider gross and unbearable don't bother him in the least, and most of the time he's not even conscious of it.  

I tried backing off, he tried helping out more--it worked to a certain extent, but there was still a significant amount of tension.  After one fight too many, Kevin suggested hiring a housekeeper.  I balked. I thought it was indulgent, unnecessary, and a sign of laziness.  I told him that I had time to clean and was perfectly capable of doing so.  In perhaps one of the wisest moments that Kevin has had, he responded:

"Mina, it's not whether or not you have time to clean and can do it, it's a matter of how you'll feel about me after you do it."

He was so right. No matter how much I understood that he would never be Mr. Clean, I also understood that I would never, ever be the type of person to do all the cleaning for someone else and not resent it.

So we hired A to clean the apartment, and I am absolutely in love with not only the wonders she works upon our apartment, but also with how she has benefited our relationship.  It's something that we don't have to argue about (much).  I still do most of the housekeeping in between the times that A comes, but Kevin has his own chores (taking out trash and recyclying, walking the dogs multiple times a day, etc.). 

Anything you did for your relationship that has brought significant peace?

*I say this is jest. Of course there are other things that make our relationship go 'round. I mean, we do all sorts of things together, like watch TV and surf the internet side by side.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

You Can't Resist the Artichoke

Yes, more artichoke.  If you commented on the previous post, do it again here.  

I know some of you were doubters about my beloved artichoke--Miss Rainbow, I am talking to you. Let me quickly show you how it played out.

My sister and I Gocco'd the invitations a few months ago, and I present to you, Artichoke Invitation Suite:
Becoming a better photographer is next on my list after becoming Gocco god.

And here is the suite in pieces:

Main invitation

Schedule of Events 

RSVP card

While I like RSVP cards that are extremely simple, the hotel needed to know in advance how many guests would be eating which dish, or else they were going to charge us, like, a million dollars.  Also, we needed a head count for the other weekend events for planning purposes.

Do I love them? Yes. Are they perfect? Not quite.  Could I have just sent this image to an invitation designer/printer and been on my merry way? Well yes, I guess so--but despite the effort of this DIY project, it meant a lot to me to make my own invitations.  Maybe because I'm not crafty in any other aspect, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to give a personal touch to a very important aspect of the wedding.  

My DIY skills are now officially spent. 

Were you happy with the way your invitations turned out?  If you made them yourself, was it worth it?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Artichoke in Gestation

And here's a look at the process of making our invitations, which went out last month. I know, so fun.  I won't go through the nitty gritty of using a Gocco because you find that in plenty of other places, but here are some highlights.

("Highlights" may be overstating the case, but nevertheless, we shall muddle through.)

We started with our artichoke image
(copyrighted by Bobbi Angell--do not use without permission!)

I wanted to use the artichoke on all three parts of our invitation suite--main invitation, schedule of events, RSVP card--but not the same exact image.  So my friend used Adobe Illustrator to create two alternate images to this main one--one with a close up of the bottom portion of the stems, and one with just the smaller artichoke on the right of the image. 

As you probably don't recall, I purchased Strathmore Natural White 130 lb. cover paper from Limited Papers, and had the company pre-cut my paper into 5 x 5 cards for the invitations and schedules, and 3.5 x 5 cards for the RSVP cards.

Before I could start Gocco'ing my heart out, those suckers needed to get rounded corners. So I took my handy rounded corner punch, and rounded away.


Observe the hubris from the mighty corner punch at the bottom of the picture.  Below is a blank, rounded RSVP card:

Now that the paper was prepped, I needed to burn me a mean artichoke on the Gocco screen by flashing really scary bulbs through the screen and image.*  The abridged version (and check out those veins just poppin' outta my arm!):

Then, I inked the screen. This was fun, mostly because it was the least stress-inducing step of using the Gocco.

Then, we went from this:

To this (blank one on top, printed one on bottom--to point out the obvious):

But whoa-ho? Where be the text, yo? (I'm a little tired right now.)  I created the text in Word, using Vera Humana 95 and Day Roman fonts.  We then burnt an image of the text onto a new screen, inked it, worked some more Gocco magic, and voila!

Kinda cool, huh? Admit it, you're really impressed with me. Say it!!

Next up is the full invitation suite. 

*I try to spread this around as much as possible, but if you don't want to use the bulbs and/or cannot find Gocco screens and bulbs, you can still totally use your Gocco--see this great post on Unless Someone Like You about a DIY Gocco screen. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Things Not To Do

I have a few ideas on things not to do right before your wedding.  I learned these from the aftermath of my "pre-wedding celebration" (i.e. bridal shower/bachelorette party) last week, and the lessons generally fit into the theme of "Safety First". 

Yes, you heard it, I made out with a stripper pole.  Dancing on a stipper pole is hard work, people. I didn't know this, and neither did I consider this in my inebriated state during the festivities. Two things happened the next day which weren't so pleasant, and things that I would not want to happen on the wedding day:

A. I couldn't lift my aching sore arms.  Swinging yourself on a pole, hoisting up your entire body weight, and whatever other antics you want to do take a lot of arm strength. 

B. Bruises. I tend to bruise easily, but regardless, making a running leap and throwing yourself against a pole, holding on tight with your limbs as you swing around again and again lead to things like this:

Sexay!! Uh huh.

Thing Not to Do #2: Feed Your Pugs
The day after the festivities, I was tired. Slow on the uptake/coordination tired.  When I was reaching down to pick up the food bowls to feed my pugs, I whacked the center of my forehead, right above my eyes, against the corner of my dining room table.  

Woe is me.  What do you mean you can't see it.  Okay here.

That says "Epicenter of Concussion" above.  Low-grade concussion while trying to say my vows would probably be doable, but perhaps not so cool.

Lastly, the culprits who apparently will be starving until the wedding:

I'm kidding. Of course I'll feed them.


The pain was worth it--I had a fabulous time at my pre-wedding festivities which were lovingly planned by my friends.  It involved manis/pedis with a glass of bubbly, potluck dinner, bubbly, surprise guests from California, bubbly, a slideshow which induced an ugly cry face, more bubbly, a human pyramid, and a night of dancing.  Most importantly, it involved lots of love and friendship, for which I am inexpressibly grateful.  What, you want a pic? Here.

I make my mom real proud.

Anybody else have some tips on things to avoid right before the wedding so you can be fit, conscious and happy for the day of?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ahem, Let Me Revise that Earlier Post

Um, remember when I was talking about how I have practically unilateral decision-making ability in wedding planning, and that Kevin's non-involvement wasn't really a problem?  I was pretty damn proud of ourselves for not bickering, because I was happy to do the work and it wasn't his thing.  I couldn't stop patting myself on the back! Pat pat...


Well, um, hee hee, so right after I wrote those posts, we made up for the lack of small bickering with one DOOZY of a fight. Ha. In our tiny 500 square foot apartment, this is what it felt like (arguing turns me into a White person, Kevin's hair turns from blond to brown, and he grows facial hair):


What triggered this unpleasant scene?  Well, after I wrote those earlier posts, I started to get anxious, thinking that if Kevin doesn't get a little more involved, then: (1) he wouldn't be excited about the wedding; (2) he would have no idea what was going on the day of, feel lost, and not enjoy himself as much.

To assuage my concerns, I did the calm, reasonable thing and cornered him over a glass of wine one evening, and immediately started pelting him with questions about the order of the ceremony processional.  His eyes started to glaze over, and I think he used the word "obsessed" in describing my attitude towards the wedding.  I lost it. I admit it, I overreacted. I mean, I was a holy terror.

What the heck happened to being satisfied with our "working" relationship?  After an unnecessarily long time of fighting like blind bats (I know, redundant)...

Source (heehee, is this too much? It slightly grosses me out, but also makes me giggle--I mean, just look how FEROCIOUS it's trying to be, with that piggy snout and everything)

Why did I react so emotionally? Eventually, this is what I realized:

(1) I am anxious about him knowing what's going on the day of.

(2) I don't mind that he takes a backseat (like, strapped to the outside of the trunk) when it comes to planning, but I had a latent sadness that he may not be excited about the wedding.  I was totally projecting onto him that he dreaded the wedding. Not a good feeling.

(3) Wedding planning has kept me engaged and occupied in a positive way.  One of the greatest benefits of wedding planning is having become a member of this great Weddingbee community--I feel connected.  This kind of connection has helped keep my mind level when dealing with other stresses in my life--career, jobs, work, salary, etc. (notice a theme here?).  Him describing it as "obsessed" did not go over well.

In tears, I told him my concerns.  He assured me that he is looking forward to the wedding, that all my planning has gotten him excited about it, and that he didn't realize how important wedding planning was to me in terms of my emotional health (psh, shows how much he pays attention). It was all very comforting.

Source (much less disturbing picture of bat, but not as funny, either)

Whew, so did anyone else have disagreements, big or small, that taught you a few things about deeper feelings regarding the wedding and planning?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Of Cabbages and Kings (and Underthings)...

So the time has come, Miss Pug said,
to talk of many things
Of shoes, and ships,
of cabbages (or artichokes) and kings...or UNDERTHINGS!

The process of planning a wedding is akin to falling down the rabbit hole with Alice--a little world filled with twists, turns and surprises that you never knew existed until you became a planning bride.

Disney via here

For example, after you buy a dress, your decisions have only begun.  Over or under bustle? What veil? Sash or no sash? And, while not visible but almost just as important, what to wear under the dress?

What to wear as an undergarment to, you know, control my huge bust? 

[reader pauses, wondering whether s/he is reading the wrong blogger] 

Okay, even without a bust to speak of, what were my options?  In order to research the lazy way, I typed in "bustier" into the weddingbee search box, and found a veritable wealth of threads about this.  Go ahead, try it.

Strapless bra?

I already have a strapless bra, so it would have been great to go this route. Alas, my dress has a low back and the band for the strapless bra goes straight across the back. No go.

Bra pads sewn into dress?

They can sew bra pads directly to the inside of your dress.  Little fuss! However, considering the cost of alterations, I wanted to try and find something that I could keep and use beyond the wedding.  Don't ask me what that tube is at the bottom, it was really hard finding a picture of a bra pad.


Nice idea! Low back, support, and shaping for the torso--sounds good! I bought a Wacoal bustier which was so comfortable and fit very well, but guess what? My dress couldn't zip up when I was wearing it.  Mm hm, can't tell you how *good* that made me feel.

So I could go without anything, but honestly there is a vain part of me that would like to fill out the bustular area of the dress just a *wee* bit better.  So I've been considering the Nu bra.
(this pic makes me a little uncomfortable, like the bra is staring at you. weird.)

These are essentially silicone bra pads that, through some strange method no doubt devised by the Cheshire Cat, kinda suction on to and stick to your boobs. There is a little "seatbelt" in between the cups that help create lift and cleavage.  Fascinating.  These seem a bit new-fangled to me--would they work? Has anyone tried it? What do you think?

Oh, and in the inevitable event that I'm going to gorge myself on food and wine, I may want to have some kind of control over the belly area.

Hot, right? Yeah, huh? Won't Kevin be excited to see these under my wedding dress!  (for a more attractive option, check out Miss Guinea Pig's post)

Back to the bras.  I haven't made a final decision, but what do you all think of the Nu Bra? What do you plan to use, or what have you tried? Pros and cons?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

RICO* and Alterations

I think the alterations business at the salon from which I purchased my dress is somewhat absolute and total racket (and is probably the case at plenty of other places as well).

(Marlon, I know you were kinda...out there by the end, but I saw you in On the Waterfront, and you were sexy as hell--is that wrong?)

You searched for your dress.  You found it. You're excited.  However many months later, you go in for a fitting. You get all pinned and tucked, look at yourself admiringly from various angles, etc.

(just look at me! just look at my ass! it's in there somewhere, that little pancake of a tush)

Woohoo! Happy day! Yes? No. Then they slap down the alterations bill in front of you. Am I right, Miss Trail Mix??

My dress bodice didn't need to be taken in. Yeah, sweet, right? I thought for sure my alterations wouldn't be that expensive since the dress didn't need to be taken in.  

For: (1) hemming; (2) bustle; and (3) adding my beloved halter strap, the salon was going to charge me...$510. Come again? For the hemming alone, it was $275.  That's just for the *front* of the dress, people--the back doesn't get hemmed because it's a *train*. $275?? Bite me.

I hemmed (pun! pun!) and hawed, and went through two consultants in my attempts to negotiate before they called over the owner.  She said I should consider the halter strap as a "restyling", and separate from the hemming and bustle, which fell into the "alterations" category.


(love ya, Joe)

Um, do I look stupid to you? You mean, let me understand this 'cause, ya know maybe it's me, but you think I'm stupid? Is that what I'm here for? To think that a halter strap ain't an "alteration"? That I can't add one plus one and know I'm still payin' $510? So I seem stupid to you, huh? Cuz I can't think of any other reason why you'd try to plow that BS down my throat, lady.

Hardly anybody buys or rejects their dress based on what the selling salon will charge for alterations.  It's just not the focus at the time of buying the dress.  After that, for ease and a sense of security, purchasing brides are somewhat of a captive audience.

But $510? Even the bridal salon staff admitted that I could get the alterations cheaper elsewhere. I know of an alterations shop near my apartment that has a good reputation and specializes in bridal gowns, so that's where I'll be heading.

The salon was very gracious, telling me that if for whatever reason I wanted to, I could absolutely bring the dress back for alterations.  I thanked everyone profusely for their time, and hauled my dress out of there, vowing never to return unless they mentioned something about a dead horse's head in my bed or sleeping with fishes.


And there it is, lying like a mummy on top of my dining table (and see the laptop in the pic? I am your slave, hive).

Now I have my dress. And...yeah.

Anyone else experience sticker shock in regard to alterations?

*RICO is an anti-racketeering/organized crime law. As a lawyer, I forget whether things like this are common knowledge. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

One Ring (or Halter) to Rule Them All

If anyone out there does not want to see pics of me in my dress, then scram. 

After having experienced some doubt in the one year that I had to wait since purchasing my dress and laying my eyes on it again, I faced my fears and went to the salon for the fitting.  I checked in with the receptionist, and was led upstairs.  The alterations consultant was waiting for me, and ushered me into a spacious dressing room. The dress was unzipped and taken from its hanger, and I gingerly stepped into it (of course, somewhere in there I got half NAKED--woohoo!!).  The consultant zipped it up.

I looked at myself in the mirror.  There were the features that I had liked in the dress the first time:
  • rouched bodice
  • asymmetrical waistline
  • slight sweetheart neckline
  • fit and flare skirt
And I was...well, apparently I was sleepy.


I was trying, but my smile was just a little...wan, don't you think? My eyes couldn't even work properly. Yes, those short adorable people in the background are my parents.

I thought, well, this has a lot of features that you like and it's very flattering, and you'll be all glammed up with hair and makeup, so all is good. Buck up, buttercup.

But wait, did we forget one important detail? Why yes, I *did* want a halter strap added, didn't I? The consultant came and pinned a halter strap on me, and that changed things considerably...


Do you see the more genuine smile? And my greasy face? I was actually excited. I felt like this was *my* dress. It was a nice feeling.


Yesss, my preciousss halter ssstraaaapppp...


A small detail, but oh so powerful for me.  All the features I liked were nice, but the halter really brought everything together, like Sauron establishing his dominion over all Middle Earth creatures with the one ring (let's forget temporarily that he fails).  The halter changed the dress for me, and made me the all-powerful bride, before whom all will fall in terror and obey. *What* a power rush.

Whatever the reason, I am happy with this dress, and that's what matters.

How was your dress doubt resolved?  Did you stay with your original choice, make a modification, and/or find a new dress?

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Worried Pug

Time can do funny things--makes you forget and distorts memory, for better or for worse. 

I've told you a little about my dress.  Here's a reminder, with someone else wearing it (and yes, she's got much bigger boobs than I do, which some of you commented on the first time I posted this--thanks).


Recently, I had my first fitting.  It was the first time I had seen my dress in over a year.

I admit, I was a little apprehensive.  After all, I did not have the "aha!" moment when I found my dress, and doubts ensued.  I narrowed down the cause of my concern to two possible reasons, neither of which really assuaged my dress doubts. 

Possible Reason #1 for Dress Doubt
I had looked at so many dresses that my eventual decision became somewhat...scientific, if you will, because in this dress I had found several features of other dresses that I liked. 

It had the: (1) rouched bodice; (2) asymmetrical waistline; (3) slight but not deep sweetheart neckline; and (4) fit and flare skirt. So it's like a math equation where the sum equals the the right dress, right? RIGHT???

Had I overly focused on these specific features above the holistic appearance of the dress? Was it just wrong to try to be so "logical" in buying a dress?  Was it an experimental formula gone wrong?   

Get me a fire extinguisher, stat!

Possible Reason #2 for Dress Doubt
Perhaps, after trying on about 100 dresses, I was suffering from dress fatigue, and allowed my desire to be done with the whole thing cloud my judgment. Oh why oh WHY didn't I have an energizing cookie before my appointment?

I was a worried pug.

(I'm not sure my pug is actually worried in this photo, but pugs just kinda have a worried look, you know?)

Did any of you have dress doubt? What were the reasons?

The Big Ol' Wish List

Last time I wrote about how Kevin and I already have a lot of popular registry items.  So where did that leave us in terms of registering?  Oh ho, don't worry, we were not at a loss.  Not here.  I am happy to report, to what I'm sure is your great relief, that we indeed found some items that we are really really really excited to put on our registry.

Want to know the fancy* stuff? (because who cares about the microplane I registered for to replace my dying one...)

It's an end-grain, 20x14 inch cutting board.  End-grain boards are the sturdiest, least prone to warping, and supposedly keep your blades in shape longer.  But also, isn't it pretty? At first I thought it looked kind of funky but now I LOVES IT.

*I realize at this point it may be dawning on you that my version of "fancy" is pretty lame, but I can't hear your thoughts.  Lalalalalala....

This 4-quart casserole is the size that I'm missing.  The pot I have is 8 quarts--huge.  I don't  want to lug that thing out when I want to boil a small batch of pasta, cook some potatoes, etc. And so cute!


These Chilewich placemats cost more than cloth placemats--but let me tell you, after years of entertaining, I am so over the cloth placemat thing.  The staining, the washing, the ironing, the more! These babies are made of vinyl, and very attractive.

Okay, that's enough of a glimpse into my greedy little side.

Are there items on your registry about which you are particularly excited? 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

On Being Slightly Aged

With an emphasis on the "slightly", people, don't get carried away.  I'm 33--by no means the youngest or the oldest of brides out there.  However, I am above the average age of a bride, both nationally (26.9 years) and locally (NYC--29 years). 

I've been trying to think of how my age and all that comes with it have affected my wedding planning. It's a tough call, since the impetus for any wedding-related decision is usually multi-fold--my choices are influenced not just by my age, but also by budget, personal priorities, and so on.

But one thing I felt did demonstrate my age more than other details is our registry.

I've been living in apartments for 11 years since college, 7 of those in my own apartment, and 2-3 of them with Kevin. Over the years that I've been building a home, I've treated myself to some things for which people usually wait to register, particularly in the cooking area.

What do we already have?  Here are some popular registry items that we have, and my two cents (whether you like it or not). We have this...

The highly touted KitchenAid mixer--it was actually a hand me down, but point is that I have it so I won't be registering for it.  I love this because I like to bake, but I don't think it's worth the expense unless you bake a lot--there are handheld mixers and less $$$ stand mixers out there that work perfectly well.

Cuisinart food processor--works great, pain in the ass to clean without a dishwasher.  Dammit I wish I could register for a dishwasher.  There are newer models of this--if you like to cook, chances are you want one of these.

Calphalon anodized cookware--I've had this set for about 10 years (an older verison).  My advice?  If you are familiar with how you cook and which pots/pans you use, buy them a la carte instead of as a set.  I am registering for a few pieces that I use constantly from the All-Clad, because, well, just because (okay I'm a sucker for the reputation and quality! I think of it as an upgrade! I'm a snob!).

Wusthof knives.  I've learned that what I use most is the chef's knife (7-8") and a paring knife, and really could have gone a la carte on this. (don't forget a bread knife)

Le Creuset 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven.  This is my workhorse.  And I leave it out on the stovetop because it looks nice.  I make sauces, soups, stews, and braised goodies in this.

These Christy towels are THE BEST towels I've ever had.  Absorbent, thick, hold up really well (wash a few times beforehand to get the lint off).  They go on sale a lot at Bloomingdales--don't buy at full price, fool! (get it? full, fool? I kill me)


400-count sateen sheets.  We got these at a mega-sale at Bloomie's. They're nice, but really, Mr. Pug is the linen lover so this is more up his alley. I guess they'd be great if he didn't drool on them all the time (kidding).

Any registry advice out there? Things you wish you had registered for, things you wish you hadn't?