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August 30, 2011

Longtime paint admirer, first-time painter

Paint, man. Who knew? I mean, I guess I've read other places about the transformative power of enhanced wall shades, but this weekend I LIVED it.

We don't have internet at the new place and I don't have a lot of time at this here local coffee shop, so instead of pontificating I'll let you gaze in awe at the pictoral documentation of my new love affair with Messrs Behr and Valspar.

Bedroom before. (Please note the bomb quilt courtesy of a dear family friend in honor of our nups.)

Bedroom after. (Please note how well the colors of our kebaba work with the quilt.)

Bathroom before. (Please note how this yellow color induces thoughts of vomit and hospitals.)

Bathroom after. (Please note how much more Dude likes doing his hairs when he is not reminded of puke.)

Living room before. (Please note our adorable chimney.)

Living room after. (Please note how perfectly my bouquet fits into the nook in said chimney.)

Another view of the living room.
I'll wait to show you the kitchen/dining room pictures until we've eradicated every last smudge of the color I imagine was marketed "Where Happy Goes to Die."

August 23, 2011

Well on my way to cube butt

In the past few weeks my eating habits have dramatically changed. When I was unemployed I typically had "brunch" of a fried egg on an English muffin at 10:30 or so, a handful of soynuts in the afternoon, and dinner of spaghetti with tomatoes, basil and olive oil or a bowlful of edamame. I also tried to take a 20-30 minute walk at least once a day.

Since I've started working I've had breakfast at 7 a.m. and am starving by the time 10:00 rolls around. I'm starving again at noon, feel like I'm about to nod off from 2-3:30, starving once more at 3:30, and start grazing as soon as I plop back on my couch at 6:00. It doesn't help that I've been fraternizing in restaurants and bars all over St. Paul, and chowing down on chips and fries like it's my job. I'm tired all the time and I've gone from the low end of my "normal" weight range to its very peak. In two weeks.

Obvi, I'm doing this wrong and need to adjust my habits to my new lifestyle.

Exercise will be a big piece of it, once we move and enroll in the neighborhood gym. My new health insurance gives me a break on gym membership if I go at least three times a week, which is a grand incentive to get ovah there. I'm thinking that increased exercise will also give me the energy I've been missing. One thing I've started this week that seems to work really well is bringing my breakfast to work and eating it here at 9:00 or so, which precludes the need for the morning snack. I've also begun telling my tummy, "You're full of lies! You're just bored!" when it starts to grumble in earnest.

Do you have any other tips to boost energy and sate rabid workday hunger so as to avoid the flattened derriere so popular with today's office workers? 

August 21, 2011

Non-criminal paint chip use

"At least we know that we can take as many of these as we want," the MIL told me as we browsed Lowe's paint chip selection. We definitely abused that privilege a few months ago when we were stuffing dozens of purple, pink, green and gray selections into our bags for use as escort cards.

But we were actually there for a legit reason this time-- Dude and I are moving into our cozy little abode this week, where everything is adorable but for the putrid yellow gracing the walls. I've never done much, decoration-wise, to anyplace I've ever lived. My apartments are always a jumbled mish-mash of others' cast-offs and it's never really bothered me. But religiously reading my friend Molly's home design blog and hearing of my other friends' Adventures in Home Ownership have convinced me that puke yellow just will not DO.

It's impossible to get an accurate photo of the colors, but we're looking at shades of gray-green for the living room and dining room/kitchen, with a crazy bright red for the bathroom and possibly an accent wall in the bedroom.

We have so much beautiful wall art from the wedding... it needs an equally beautiful backdrop.

August 20, 2011

Excuse the dust

As with most other transitions in my life, my shift from unemployed bride-to-be to married breadwinner has struck me wordless. (Perhaps you will recall my three-week writer's block drought when I eased from globe-trotting gallivanter to unemployed bride-to-be this May-June.) Once again, my current life bears little resemblance to what it was but a few weeks ago-- the crafting-maniac-emotional-wreck-thin-for-no-good-reason Neenuh of yore is now perpetually-tired-and-slightly-plump-working-gal.

My transitions aren't quite complete; I still need to officially change my name in various places and move into an apartment with the Dude in a week. Once that's all settled my life could be pretty static for awhile... years, even. I don't anticipate many changes until we decide to add to our family.

Dude says we're not allowed to procreate until we can keep a plant alive for a year, so that could be awhile.

Please excuse the dust as I try to figure out what Neenuh G likes to write about.

August 11, 2011

I'll be you today tomorrow

The roommate and I have equal but opposite problems with our clothes. My pants are often too long where hers are too short. Sometimes her sleeves don't quite cover her wrists and the tail of the shirt hovers dangerously high on her torso, while I swim in sleeves and have shirts that seem to go on for days (my body goes from shoulders to hips in short order).

We discovered the kismet of our body issues last night while preparing for a clothing swap we're hosting. I discarded a pair of too-long Hudson jeans that I've been trying to make work (unsuccessfully) for years that ended up being the best-fitting pair that have ever graced her booty. She countered with a beautiful navy silk Banana Republic dress that she's worn but a handful of times because it's way too short on her lady long legs, but fit mine like a dream. I pranced around in that thing for a good 20 minutes.

The two of us have been blending our wardrobes all week long. Manders, who rarely dons dresses, has been sporting my frocks (with leggings under them) to the rave reviews and astonishment of her colleagues. "They don't know what to DO with me!" she exclaimed. My new coworkers don't know any better than to think I'm all class with the addition of Manders' skirts, belts and blazers (with the sleeves rolled up).

I keep seeing her glamazon around in my duds and then insist on wearing them the next day. I get a bit disappointed in my un-limby-ness, but it's all good.

Don't get me wrong; I'm over the moon to be living in the same city as the Dude next month, but gee... if only he were my dress size.

August 9, 2011

Neither here nor there

As I filled out a sheaf of paperwork at my new job today, I realized there's a lot of major details in my life that are fuzzy. What's my name? Where do I live? Am I the head of household? Who do I want to give incentive to off me?

If you ask the first question of different governmental agencies you'll get different answers. The Social Security Administration knows I'm Neenuh G, but according to my driver's license and my bank I'm still Neenuh P-P. I'm waiting to get a new license until I move to my new address, and I'm waiting to tell my bank I've been nupped until I have an ID to prove it.

All my new benefits providers want to know where to find me, so I put down the address of my current abode--the home of my lovely star-crossed roommate-- but had to add a sticky note on each form warning that in three weeks' time that will no longer be chez moi.

There's a whole new set of boxes to check for marrieds. Dude and I didn't really discuss if we're going to be married filed jointly or married filed separately. I suppose in the spirit of joining two hearts into one we should do the same with our tax returns, right? 

Then I went through the icky mental process of deciding who gets to cash in on my big bucks life insurance policy if I get dead. The Dude is the first beneficiary, obvi, but one has to choose secondary beneficiaries just in case the first gets dead as well. Isn't this the basic premise of several murder mysteries? And Glensheen Mansion?

August 7, 2011

Wedding Vendor Reviews Part 1: The Duds

My Dress: David's Bridal lace cap-sleeved trumpet with keyhole back and sash in ivory.
Photo by Ali Haupt
My Shoes: David's Bridal Maribelle shoes in watermelon

Photo by Ali Haupt
Review: I went to David's Bridal in Oregon a few weeks after getting engaged. I wasn't intending to buy anything; it was just a trip to see what style looked good on my body. Since I knew I didn't want to go strapless, my options were narrowed considerably. This was the third dress I tried on, and it was abundantly clear that it was THE dress. The price was also several thousand dollars less than what Say Yes to the Dress had led me to expect to pay. David's is no Kleinfeld's, but I received pretty good treatment while there. 4 stars.

Alterations: Carole Bruns in Uptown

Review: My alterations (hem, bra cups, taking in the sides, bustle) were about $50 less here than they would have been at David's. I also really liked supporting a local, independent business. You may have to call to check on your dress, but they got mine back to me within two weeks and were very good about letting me try it on as many times as I wanted to. 4.5 stars.
My hairpieces: Birdcage veil borrowed from Molly, feather and fabric flower fascinator fashioned by the MIL and me.

Photo by Ali Haupt

My jewels: My grandmother's pearl necklace, gold and pearl earrings, both borrowed from my aunt Mary Ellen.

Photo by Ali Haupt
Review: I had my eye on an $80 birdcage veil-feather combo at David's, but this was much more economical. The two ended up working perfectly with the style of my dress. Crafting triumphs over all! I also really loved wearing family jewels-- I tried to incorporate elements throughout the wedding that paid tribute to my dearly departed grandparents. 80 stars.

Bridesmaid Dresses: Flutter Boutique in Uptown
Laurel was in Cynthia Rowley "8013" in Bordeaux Duchess Satin
Anna was in Jenny Yoo "Lucy" in Garnet Shantung
Aleta was in Priscilla of Boston "1507" in Watermelon Satin Yoryu
Amanda was in Simple Silhouettes "Buttercup" in Aubergine Shantung

Photo by Ali Haupt
Review: This was another unexpectedly fast trip-- we were in and out of there in about an hour. I had told the ladies I wanted them to choose their own dresses, and at that point I was thinking pomegranate as a color. They each ended up with a dress from a different designer, which meant different color palettes. We ordered two in purple and two in pink and I think the result was gorgeous. The staff was very professional and gave us our own private room to frolic around in as we decided on dresses. Word to the wise: if you're between sizes, go bigger. We learned from experience it's much easier to take in a dress than to let it out. 5 stars.

Maid of Honor dress: My fabulous Aunt Wendy sewed this using a Simplicity pattern

Photo by Ali Haupt
Review: Gorgeous!  10 billion stars!

The Tuxes: Bills Toggery in Shakopee Savvi Formal Wear Grey Kingston with ties and pocket squares in sangria or dark watermelon for the groomsmen and dads, ivory for the groom.

Photo by Ali Haupt
Review: Another great experience with a local company. We got the groom's tux free with the rental of five others, and they brought down their price to match what we would have gotten at a Savvi shop. They had a very fast turn-around when Dude needed his cuffs lengthened a smidge, and they assured us that had we had any wardrobe malfunctions on the day-of they could have swooped in and saved the day (a service which, thankfully, we didn't need). 5 stars. 

Flower Girl Dresses: David's Bridal
Abbie was in a bubble hem crinkle chiffon and charmeuse dress in lapis with a watermelon hair flower
Emma was in a plum satin tea-length ballgown with a watermelon sash
Libby was in a short cotton dress with ruching details in lapis with a watermelon hairband
Ellie was in a short cotton sateen strapless dress (that we added straps to) in lapis with a watermelon hairband

Photo by Ali Haupt
Review: We had a much better experience getting Abbie's dress at the David's in Duluth and Emma's in Richfield than getting Ellie's and Libby's in Roseville. At the latter we had good service trying dresses on, but then my dear aunt stood at the register for what felt like forever trying to get the dresses rung up and the appropriate discounts applied. 3 stars.

Rings: Security Jeweler's in Duluth
My ring is a flat-face white gold band
Matt's is a two-tone yellow and white gold band

Photo by Ali Haupt
Review: Owner Jack Seiler is a family friend and just a lovely man. He offers impeccable service and gives you all the information you need to help you decide. He engraved our rings with our initials and wedding dates for free. Highly, highly recommended. 5 stars.

Coming up in Part 2: Reviews of our dessert, DJ, draping and photography vendors

August 3, 2011

Five Bridal Tip to Ensure Wedding Bliss

5. It's unlikely to rain inside.

You can control a lot of things, but no matter how much money or clout you have you will not be able to control the weather. Why give yourself an aneurism obsessively checking the weather report? Especially if you live in the Midwest, do yourself a favor and plan to have your ceremony inside, where the hail, thunderstorms, excessive heat indices and tornadoes can't reach you (especially if you get married in a basement). 

4. Question the cake.

There are no rules. Just because a million people have done it one way doesn't mean that you have to. You don't need to send out save-the-dates. You don't need to spend a gazillion dollars on flowers that are just going to make you sneeze and then die (the flowers, that is... hopefully you wouldn't die). You don't need a rabbi and a priest if the priest is awesome and inclusive. You don't need a cathedral-length veil. YOU DON'T NEED A CAKE. All you need is you, your beloved and a selected few fam and friends. The end.

3. Know what you want.

I tried to be the opposite of a bridezilla, to the point where I was sometimes a bridemouse. When it came to things like bridesmaid dresses, I gave almost zero guidance. One of my first 'maid emails said, "Um, I'd be OK with rainbow dresses if you didn't want to wear the same colors! And, uh, choose whatever style you want!" It ended up working out in the end, and each bridesmaid did have her own style and color, but I'm sure it was frustrating for them to have nothing to go on. The key is to have a vision, but be flexible with that vision.

2. Use your peeps.

People really want to help you with wedding stuff. Take them up on it. Host crafting nights where you put together a hundred favor boxes in a single bound. Invite your melodious besties to belt out a tune at your ceremony. You are not in this alone.

1. Being a contributing member of society is over-rated.

I was unemployed for approximately 2.5 months before the wedding and two weeks afterward. The pre-wedding time was key for doing all the crafting and organizing and in-person stuff I couldn't readily do whilst abroad. It also meant I was able to have my wedding crazies in a safe, private space rather than the office. I've used the post-wedding time to bang out hundreds of outrageously prompt thank you notes, which gave me practice writing my new name over and over in the return address.