Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Let Me Eat Cake

Cake Topper

It was one of those afternoons where at a certain point I just accepted God did not us at this place on time. It was the first (and last) attempt to make an appointment during Mike's lunch break so we could both go. We decided to take Riley sans nap. She got into my lipstick minutes before we were walking out the door. Between scrubbing her clown make-up job off and waiting for Mike's work call to end we got a late start.

Later than I thought, actually, because the baker called to ask if we were coming to our appointment which was apparently a half hour earlier than I thought. Oops! Traffic was not accommodating either despite it being a weekday afternoon. We arrived flustered and late.

They were warm and welcoming. At a glance Mike and I were worried, the sample cake slice was green. Like neon green. Yikes. She promptly explained that her baker took it upon himself to tint the cake green because it was mint chocolate flavored. It was very good cake. The butter cream between the layers was super light. They used mint flavoring and white chocolate. Mike and I agreed it needed to be more chocolatey. Everything they do is from scratch, never frozen which has apparently become a rarity.

Then we started talking design. She sketched it out as if she could see the picture in my head. Ever meticulous, Mike took stock of and made suggestions for all the tiny details. It's going to look spectacular! The cake designer is thrilled to make it and wanted my photographers name so she can get some professional shots of the masterpiece. Three tiers of tree stump with climbing vine and three tiny lavender flowers. It also has a door in the bottom for the fairy who lives there. Hopefully my dream cake topper will be available in time for the wedding (it's availability has been pushed back from July to August, August to September and now September to October!).

One more piece falling in to place. Mike's a little worried about the flavor being exactly right, but I have faith that now that we've been incredibly clear they'll get it. Our enthusiasm is pretty infectious and a good motivator. It wasn't exactly a relaxing trip home rushing to get Mike back to work with a grouchy over tired toddler who'd had lots of cake in the backseat. Sometimes even when you accomplish things the stress of life and planning a wedding boil over. Today, it boiled over. I'm thrilled to add another member to my "dream team" of vendors and frienders, but I'm also exhausted by life just now and Mike's not faring any better. It's hard when you know exactly what you want because you find the need to let go, compromise or give up entirely.

It comes from loving each other so much that we can't stand to see the other one get less than what they want. I'm not saying we sold out on the cake. I'm quite happy (if a little bummed that I didn't calculate delivery/set-up, tax and cake board rental when I budgeted). It's going to be great, but in Mike's eyes they're doing it "wrong" by not achieving the flavor his way. I also think we both wish we didn't have to have fondant, but that's the price of wanting an Ace of Cake worthy design.

Mint chocolate flavored white cake made to look like a vine covered tree stump fairy house, rock on!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Weekday Wedding

Please keep in mind it is an evening wedding starting at 6:30pm. Local guests probably won't even have to leave work early. Also, (I'll discuss this more later) we won't be having a bar so there's no risk of everyone hung over the next day. From the FAQ section of our guest website: Isn't the 21st of March a Wednesday?!? Yes, we are getting married on a Wednesday. It will be an evening ceremony starting at 6:30pm. We hope this gives everyone a chance to make it from from work, but if we've given you a good excuse for a day off in the middle of the week, you're welcome! All that being said it has it's good and bad points.

  • Discount on Venue
  • Discount on/greater availability of venders
  • Less schedule conflicts for local guests
  • Cheaper travel options for out of town guests
  • Weeds out people just coming for the party
  • Amazing date.
  • We can set-up the day before because there's no other event that day
  • What's more fun than a midweek excuse to party?
  • People who do laundry on weekends will have most of their wardrobe available to wear
  • More options for emergency plan B vendors if something goes wrong
  • Wednesday Wedding is alliteration
  • Wedding events will either be well in advance of the wedding or during the week
  • Getting time off work may be tricky for wedding party and out of town guests
  • We may have to wait several days to leave for the honeymoon depending on which option we pick (ie not many cruises leave on Thurs)
  • We may throw a wrench in our kids' schecdules
  • It's one more thing we're doing differently than tradition dictates for people to grumble about
  • Monday, August 29, 2011

    Update Monday

    • Made Both cake tasting appointments.
    • Started organizing music
    • Started researching honeymoons
    • Started on the wedding party's t-shirts I'm making for the rehearsal. They look amazing!
    • Started researching henna artists for the bachelorette party
    Looking Forward To
    • Finalizing cake
    • Seeing the maids in their dresses Next week!
    • Ring shopping

    The cake tastings will be back to back this week. I can't wait to check this of the to do list. It's never as easy or complicated as you think it will be. Aside from cakes we've come very close to making a decision on the honeymoon. If money and timing work out look for a post about our decision soon. I can tell you, we will take one. Once the cake is finalized I'm ready for ring shopping. I thought that would be all fun, but the florist has me worried I won't have it in time for the wedding, we'll see...Oh, speaking of timing I never did get my swatch. The dress shop says they mailed it to me on the 16th, but it's yet to arrive.

    I'm still vibrating with excitement because the SOB/OOT BM (sister of the bride/out of town bridesmaid) aka my little sister will be here on Friday! Hurray. Working out a lunch for the girls has proved complicated so I have delegated the task of figuring it out and come to peace with the possibility we may get our group shot outside the dress shop and call it a day. I did, however, design my ladies kick ass rock star shirts to wear to the rehearsal. Yay!

    We're planning a lunch break trip to the venue as soon as we can squeeze it in to pow wow with the florist about decor logistics. As soon as that's done I'm on mission cheap-but-pretty fabric. We also (miracle!) agreed on a style of invitation and (double miracle) are not going to DIY them, phew!

    205 days!

    Sunday, August 28, 2011


    Years ago when we discussed a honeymoon we found these cabins in the mountains in Georgia. They all have balconies, hot tubs and great views. You can pay for a personal chef to come make you a gourmet dinner and clean up (we were all in for one night of that!). It's romantic and secluded. I was particularly siked about the white water rafting option. There's one item I'll never cross off the the bucket list now.

    That whole trip was completely out of the question post spinal fusion. Aside from physical limitations there's the budget. Honestly, I just can't see planning a party for 100ish people AND a vacation financially. I know I need some time with Michael without the kids. At first I thought it would be fine to stay home as long as someone else kept the kids for 3-7days. After some more thought I realized being home wouldn't be quality couple time. I started considering driving distance destinations. Unfortunately, theme parks aren't what they used to be with my back still healing.

    So, a trip. A real trip, just the two of us. Hmmm...We did a cruise last year for a family wedding (it was my first one). We're considering a 3day cruise or some kind of all inclusive couples resort. We looked into some wonderful options like going to Scotland/Ireland it was too expensive (like more than the wedding). I brought up Alaska, but March is the wrong time of year for that. Then I brought up Australia, but that was more than going to Europe. Mike brought up New England which is lovely (and full of friends) and easier on the budget, but again March is a dodgy time of year weather-wise. My beloved California is temperate and full of friends as well, but it's a loooong flight. Who knows what I'll be up to by then? It's so complicated.

    No cabins in the mountains, no Disney, no leaving the country, no room in the budget... I'm up to suggestions. I need a break. Mike and I have never been alone together and if we don't make a point to do this now I have no idea when or if it will happen. Let's hear it: honeymoon on a budget that doesn't put too much strain on the bones.

    Saturday, August 27, 2011

    Do Me A Flavor...

    Here's the scoop on the cakity, cake. None of the exhaustively researched alternatives made me happpy. Well, at least none of the cost effective options that we could agree on made me happy. So, I tried bakeries again to see if they'd make "our flavor." If you don't remember we want mint chocolate flavored white cake. Sounds simple. It's an aesthetic thing as Mike so delicately puts it "I don't want it to look like everyone has poop on their face."

    Seeing me struggling to make someone understand what I was looking for my amazing, amazing friend Megan did some research. She found the magic ingredient to make white cake taste chocolatey (pictured above). She even, bless her, sent us a recipe:

    White Cake – Adapted from Bon Appetit
    Makes three 9-inch layers; serves 10-12
    2 ¾ cps cake flour
    1 ¼ cps plus 2/3 cp sugar
    ¾ tsp baking powder
    ½ tsp salt
    ¾ cp vegetable oil
    4 large egg yolks
    6 tbsp sour cream
    ½ cp plus 1 tbsp whole milk
    6 large egg whites
    ¼ to ½ tsp LorAnn Mint Chocolate Chip extract

    Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour three, 9-inch pans with 1 ½-inch-high sides. Sift flour, 1 ¼ cps sugar, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk oil and egg yolks in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in sour cream, then milk then extract. Whisk in dry ingredients in three additions. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, beating until whites are stiff but not dry; fold into batter in 4 additions. Divide batter among prepared pans.
    Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool cakes in pans five minutes. Slide a knife around the outside edge of the cake to release it from the pan. Turn cakes out to cool completely on a metal wire rack.
    NB – This cake will shrink as it cools. It makes a more European-textured cake. If you are looking for an airy, box-mix-like cake, this is not it. But this is the type of cake that will stand up to fondant and syrup/glazes without ripping.
    NB – The yolks will lend a slightly yellow tone to the cake. But you can avoid that by adding a few drops of Wilton’s White Liquid Color (available at Michael’s).
    NB – This is just for three layers of the same size. Your baker is going to have to modify amounts to make enough cake to fit your vision.

    We tried the recipe and LOVED it! Megan and I both wish she were closer so she could just make the cake. It would be spectacular, no doubt about it! Things (and distance being what is is) as they are I've narrowed it down to two bakeries. They both offer completely custom flavors, have very artistic designs in their portfolios and have expressed creative flavor solutions.

    Option A: Chocolate Pi


    • Highly Recommended (theknot, weddingwire, etc)
    • Bride's Choice Award 2011
    • Will Accommodate ANY Custom Flavor or Design
    • Cool Name
    • They did accomidate me and give me an earlier appointment for next week


  • It's in Tampa
  • They're Expensive
  • They're HARD to Reach (14 emails and almost 3wks just trying to get an appointment)
  • Their appointments start at 4:30pm (Over the bridge in rush hour? Ugh!)
  • I've yet to speak to a human being
  • The info on their site is minimal
  • Option B: It's Icing On The Cake


    • Recommended by Florist/Family Friend
    • Bride's Choice Award 2011/High Ratings on WeddingWire
    • Will Accommodate ANY Custom Flavor or Design
    • Got a quick call back & Spoke to the owner on my second try!
    • Appointments M-W 10am-6p (that's more like it!)
    • It's very close to our venue
    • Prices are slightly lower
    • She has an art background
    • We already have an appointment
    • Info on website and WeddingWire profile is very informative


    • Hmmmm...

    Ok, so maybe it's looking pretty good for option B, but I feel weird discounting my long ago first choice. After all, getting my photographer pick was such a dream come true. Not just that, but not having at least two options to choose between seems wrong. Maybe, I'll fall in love the rest of the way with option B at the tasting Tuesday. It's possible that first impressions are wrong and I'll go with option A after all. I just hope one of them pans out because this it the last "big thing" for a while.

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    My Biggest Fear

    I worried so much about postal issues with the save the dates. I researched the rules and badgered quite a few out of town guests to make sure they had received them. I obsessively checked hits to the wedding guest website to try and confirm that save the dates were being received. After things seemed to have gone off with out a hiccup, I stopped worrying.

    Yesterday, there was a returned save the date in the mail box. "Oh, no!" I exclaimed waving it at Michael like it were a letter bomb. It happened. A family member out of town who no doubt had been reading about and seeing pictures of the save the dates must of thought I forgot her. I checked for clues, but all it said was "UTF" hand written in blue ink next to the address. At first glance we were confused. "Sounds like a disease" I remarked relieved at least it didn't seem to be a postage issue.

    The bright yellow label stuck to it said "Unable To Find" and beneath that "Unable To Forward" so take your pick of "UTF"s I suppose. Obviously, an address issue. Hmmm...I checked it against what I had. The only issue I could find was that I had written point instead of port in front of the city, but if the zip code was right that shouldn't be a big deal. I checked with a relative would confirmed all my info and then sent a message to the recipient.

    The address had been correct, but the city had changed it's name and with it it's zip code! Weird. So, I was triply relieved that 1)It wasn't a postage issue 2)It wasn't my goof and 3)I now had correct info for their invitation. Phew! I'm slightly irritated at the waste of the pretty stamp, but mainly I'm sad for their looooong wait. Hopefully, theirs was the one undelivered exception.

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    Boudoir Sesson

    If you haven't heard about this trend, it's a fun one. The bride takes some tastefully steamy photos for the groom (often for his wedding gift). I engaged the lovely Lara Coughlin Photogarphy for mine. Also, I did mine a little early in the planning process because the album was a Pre-wedding/Birthday gift.

    As with all photo sessions I did my research, but it's much easier to see other people's engagement sessions than their boudoir sessions for obvious reasons. There are two things to remember here: 1)What makes you feel pretty and 2)What does he like? If you've considered those things it'll be well worth it. A lot of what I found was all about long legs in heals. Not my thing. I had almost no leg shots taken and I was bare foot for 90% of the pictures. I feel pretty in boots so those were the only shoes I used.

    It's not porn. It's tastefully suggestive pictures, no nudity. You should never feel uncomfortable if you trust your photographer. Have fun! Pictures of someone laughing are beautiful. Don't try to be someone you're not. Mike likes computers so I took some with the computer. They ended up being my favorite ones. If your groom like Star Wars break out the gold bikini, Princess Lei. It's a very significant gesture to say I'm comfortable with myself, I know what will make you happy and I trust you to have these.

    For me, I suffered significant body image issues after weaning Riley and enduring major back surgery. I spent all of my 20's building a career that centered around people looking at me. I never minded the attention, one bit either. Pregnancy didn't shake my confidence too much either. In fact I felt my prettiest after Riley was born. I had the nursing reserve weight and a great rack. I even had a little hold over pregnancy glow. When my boobs deflated like balloons and I dropped 15+lbs in the wake of weaning and surgery it was rough. In my opinion I'd gone from my most attractive to my ugliest. It took a lot of healing and building myself back up to be ready and even excited to take some pretty pictures. For me, having a goal always helps. Knowing I wanted to take the pictures was a real motivator. I hate scales, I never use them if I can help it. It's too specific. I prefer "hey, my jeans fit again" or "my appetite's back!" as benchmarks.

    My pictures came out beautifully. I couldn't have been happier. I used Shutterfly to build an album so there wouldn't be any human interaction at photo labs (awkward). Shutterfly's custom album builder is amazing they let you tweak everything! I was thrilled with the finished product. It shipped right on time too. I recommend giving yourself a few nights with edited photos before you tackle the album process. If you stay in your comfort zone, it really is a blast. As Mike put it "Alright! So when we're old and gray we have photographic proof of how hot you used to be."

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    Flower Power Meeting

    Sorry for the delay, but last Tuesday I did indeed venture to the florist. I was accompanied by my lovely bridesmaid and often blog photographer, Lara. I am usually very decisive by nature, but there are two outside forces at play here 1)Mike and 2)It's been 2yrs since we made some of these decisions initially.

    Mike wanted lizard lapel pins for all the groomsmen and dads. They were silver with green stones. I liked them a lot, but after telling the florist we didn't need any boutonnieres we found the lizards were unavailable. We were pondering what to do instead when I came upon a groom in a magazine with sea holly or blue thistle as his lapel adornment. It seemed so "Mike" and went with our colors. I asked Janine to scare some up.

    Apparently it's often used for alien plant life in Sci Fi shows. Too cool, right? It's blue and she was worried we'd have to tint it with a little red, but luckily for us it's a purpley blue so no tint required.

    We talked a ton about decor, which is kind of Mike's area. Let me clarify, I am contributing and dealing with vendors, but he is the design team. It was decided we needed a group field trip to count outlets, measure pillars and generally work out some logistics. It all looks so simple on the design shows, doesn't it? The room for the reception is a pretty blank canvas which is great (and slightly overwhelming). It has two quirks: wood frames around light fixtures (?!?) and one oddly shaped pillar. Luckily, Mike and Janine are brilliant and the pillar is a non issue, no spoilers! However, hiding the weird frames without breaking any rules or running several feet of cords along the walls may be a lot harder than we thought.

    One of the thing I love about Janine is she always shows me things in real life or draws me pictures. It's so much easier to fill up that blank room in my mind with visual aids. The last item on the agenda for this meeting was favors. I wanted seeding trees placed around our centerpieces (one per household) for people to plant and think of us. I also LOVE Janine's "I can make that happen" attitude. Seedlings? Sure. She pulled some up from her own yard and is experimenting with the best way to care for them and also monitoring their size so we can finalize the container decisions. Janine even came up with cute wording for the tag. I'm not a huge fan of the clay pot because you wouldn't find one in the woods. I think we're gonna do burlap sacks instead. The moss will be different too. I'm getting excited though. I hope these trees take root in friend's yards and someday I'll say "whatcha doin'?" and someone will reply "reading under the wedding tree." Sorry chocoholics, but I wanted something a little more lasting (I hope) for favors.

    In general, I feel well taken care of. I have a list of questions for the venue and we'll being popping by soon with pencils and measuring tapes shortly. They'll be a lot of brow furrowing and uh-huh-ing I'm sure. That makes me giggle. Hopefully the prettiness I've agreed to so far will be entirely possible.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    Update Tuesday

    This one will be skimpy because I was busy trying not to die last week.

    • Recovering from nasty kidney infection (well almost done)
    • Lara and I met with the florist, yay! We saw samples, double yay!
    • I FINALLY made a cake tasting appointment.
    Looking Forward To
    • Finalizing cake
    • Seeing the maids in their dresses in TWO weeks!
    • A bridesmaids lunch while everyone's in town
    • Starting on the wedding party's t-shirts I'm making for the rehearsal.

    I'm behind in everything in my life right now. Being sick for a week really took the wind out of my sails. On top of all the wedding stuff and life stuff I'm grouchy and not quite 100% better. I'm hoping that finishing of this bad-but-not-as-bad-as-the-infection antibiotics will straighten me out.

    I started out so sure that the cake place in Tampa that I'd heard so much about was "the one" and the downtown one was "plan b". That was before (let me count) 14 collective emails worth of trying unsuccessfully to make a stupid appointment for a tasting. Grrr. On the other hand I left a voice mail for the bakery downtown and got 2 return calls while I was ill. I called Monday and spoke to the owner herself. She was wonderfully pleasant and enthusiastic about all of my requests. So, at this point I don't know if it's even worth a few more emails trying to secure an appointment with the fancy pants Tampa place...

    I'm vibrating with excitement because the SOB/OOT BM (sister of the bride/out of town bridesmaid) aka my sister will be here in 2 weeks! Hurray. That means all my lovely, wonderful bridesmaids in one place for a whole week. It wouldn't happen again until the wedding. We'll get dresses ordered and have a bridesmaids’ lunch! Not meat swords. I can't wait for the group photo, yay!

    Mike had his birthday last week and hung out with his whole wedding party. They of course did not bring up the wedding at all which is fine because it was his birthday. However, last night when the best man swung by I instructed them to start talking bachelor party. I'm so glad he's not the kind of groom I have to worry about.

    Things have fallen waaaaaaay behind with my wedding planning class. So far we've done wedding vibe, budget, and inspiration. This week is vendors. I'm excited to acquire some new skill for choosing and dealing with my "dream team."

    211 days!

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Wedding Wisedom

    OffBeat Bride:

    One of the most pervasive bastions of the dreaded Wedding Industrial Complex is dealing with vendors. Because here’s the deal: while you’re all wrapped up in the warm fuzzy blanket of Offbeat Bride and getting encouragement to break the wedding rules, most vendors make their money from traditional couples and traditional nuptials. They have a series of expectations based on the couples that they’ve dealt with in the past, and not all of them are aware of how awesome you are or how amazing offbeat weddings can be.

    Um, yes, this exactly. So it's not just me? Phew.

    Also, from a long over wedding blog (eleventwentyseven):

    It’s like packing for a trip. you can always bring more clothes or add more things but after awhile it doesn’t really make your experience any better it’s all about the vacation and not necessarily what you bring with you.

    Less is more? Ok good. No one will hate my wedding if everything in Martha Stewart Weddings isn't present? Phew Again.

    Some girl on the Knot

    I was talking about my wedding and my FBIL said "You know what I think you should do for your wedding? Whatever you want."

    Amen to that.

    Please share your sage advice or other peoples...

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    Immunity & Nuptials

    Dear Readers,

    On August 16th in the afternoon a cold I assumed I had beaten took a turn for the worst. I took the horrible rolling fevers as my cue to finally get medical help. It was a kidney infection.

    I wouldn't wish one of those on ANYONE. I'll spare you horror stories, let's just say it took 5 days to leave the bed under my own steam.

    I wanted to take this as an opportunity to ask you brides past and future for your best protect the immune system tips. I remember the big sister from 16 Candles getting her period on her wedding day and thinking "Oh, no anything can happen. Can't it?" While that scenario doesn't cause any lost sleep I do worry about colds and such.

    I'm a big fan of Emergn-C from my starving-artist-with-3-part-time-jobs-days, but I have little else in my bag of tricks so let's hear it. Also, anyone who was sick on the big day how did you cope?

    Thank You!

    The Recovering Bride

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Surrendering to the Shower

    I don't really get bridal showers. No judgment, they sound fun. I read that they started as a means of making up for a dowry when Daddy didn't approve of your fella. That makes sense; shower your friend with gifts so she can be with her love. It's even pretty sweet.

    I guess I haven't been to that many of them because I'm just not sure what to expect. I'm very excited to have one and include all the ladies in my life in the pre-wedding fun. One of my bridesmaids informs me I should register for the shower. We chose not to register for the wedding, but I understood what would have been customary for a wedding registry. What does one register for shower-wise?

    I requested that we do an activity, like a craft or something. I felt it shouldn't be all wedding-y. I have been rebuffed a few times over for this comment. They're not wrong in that 1)It's not up to me (my bridesmaids call the shots here) and 2)It's an event to celebrate my bridal status and therefore it's unreasonable to decree such a thing. I agree, that I was unreasonable in my request, but it came from a good place. I wanted everyone to feel included in the fun. I was trying to make it less shower-y because unlike my baby shower I'm more worried about the guests than myself and what I need.

    This is my official surrender to shower-y-ness. If you girls want toilet paper wedding dresses I'm game. I'll submit a guest list when the time comes and keep out of it otherwise. Now let's have registry suggestions, please blog readers...

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Update Monday

    I think since my blog is daily, I'll begin a tradition of giving the overall picture of how things are progressing planning-wise every Monday (unless something thrilling and wedding related happens).

    Here we go...

    • DIY Save the Dates! (Created, Ordered, Received, Assembled and Mailed!)There were many steps, but I mailed (Mike was not quick about getting the last 3 addresses.) the very last of those 44 little buggars today. Woohoo!
    • First bridesmaids get together
    • My dress (pictured in Vendor/Friender tab) is being constructed as we speak and will be in my possession sometime pre/during the holidays.
    • We're inching closer to our finalized florals. I'm meeting Ms Janine this week to deliver one of our bridesmaid lanterns and see boutonnière and favor samples.
    • I've scheduled a cake tasting for next week.
    • We've found the bridesmaids’ shoes and one of my little Cinderellas already has her glass slippers.
    • We've scheduled the bridesmaids’ dress fitting for Sept, when they'll all be together.
    • Completed the first 2 weeks of my Bridechilla wedding planning e-course (wedding vibe & budget)
    Looking Forward To
    • Finalizing cake and florals
    • Seeing the maids in their dresses and shoes!
    • A bridesmaids lunch while everyone's in town
    • Starting on our music and slideshow projects
    • Composing the ceremony
    • Designing the invitations
    • Ring shopping!!
    • All the pre-wedding events

    Surely I've forgotten many things, but you get the rough idea. The swatch of material for the bridesmaid dress I ordered 2 weeks ago for my florist is still MIA. I called the boutique and they're following up with the designer. They're very nice people there and I'm sure they'll clear it up, just not by Tuesday.

    I still have a complete black hole void of nothingness as far as the men’s attire. Something different, comfortable and thematically in tune...I have no idea still. Good thing the boys don't have to order something 6mon in advance.

    Mike has been busily working on decor. Mainly the lit centerpiece prototype. Silly me, I thought he'd throw a clay foundation together for me to bring to the florist and we'd fill it with willow branches. Nope. Apparently, he has to figure out all the lights in the centerpiece so he knows were to hide cords, etc. Another box of LED lights arrived today and Dr. Frankenstein was off to the lab. Sigh...

    I've been obsessively checking hits on the wedding guest site to try and confirm all save the dates have been received. We're looking pretty good. We even have 2 (3 if you count the wedding family) RSVPs and a list of song requests.

    219 days! Woah.

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Matrimonial Motivation

    Running of the Brides

    Some (a lot) of brides pick a date and a goal weight. They create online tickers counting down the days and the pounds. I, however, have a much longer list of things I needed motivation to get going on. Leave it to a post-surgical, toddler mommy to let herself fall into disrepair I tell ya.

    First, (and most important to me) me time. The wedding comes with a whole slew of projects to undertake, details to decide on and people to coordinate. Not one of them has to do with the kids or the house. They are my projects, with input from Groomie-pants of course. I carve out time to meet vendors, shop, craft and email by myself now because I have to. It's great. I'm even taking an e-course in wedding planning which means twice a week Mike puts the kids to bed so I can attend video chats in the quiet living room. It's been really restorative to be in charge of my own stuff again.

    As an added bonus of that, it’s done a lot to remind me where Mike and I started and how far we've come. I've always had to share Mike with a kid or two. I'm so grateful for our family and that infancy is behind us, but it's nice to just be a couple instead of parents sometimes. It's romantic to build a day around us as a couple.

    Second, there is lots of physical stuff. Making sure I'm eating healthy and gaining back the weight I lost after the back surgery is a big one. I'm happy to report most of my clothes are fitting again. I don't like scales, so I have no idea how much I lost or how much I gained back. I'm not "there yet." I'm sleeping more too (as much more as a toddler allows).

    Physical health related stuff is one thing, but there's also the vanity related issues. I have been to the hair dresser a grand total of 5 times in the 3yrs since I got pregnant, pretty darn sad. Since wedding planning I have been every 6-8wks for a trim if needed (keeping the length until the wedding) and highlights. It's nice to look like me again. This also means I'm keeping my eyebrows groomed which makes a huge difference for my prettiness factor. Aside from hair there's the other biggie, teeth. I have been better about dental hygiene in the aftermath of the gaggy pregnancy days. Even more so since Riley's gotten older, but now I'm really on the ball. Brushing, flossing and sleeping with the retainer. On top of all this, I of course plan to see a dentist in the coming months. I also, think I'm going to do some at home bleaching so my smile's shiny for my professional pictures.

    Maybe, being selfish is usually frowned on, but I needed a good dose of selfish. I'd been living for Mike and the kids too long. It's nice to find room for the things I want to do too. Also, I'm too young to be frumpy. It's good to get back to feeling pretty.

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    Pick A Day...Any Day

    We have a date and have notified guests of this date via our wonderful save the dates. That was a project and a half! I saved up the deposit and my dates (all 3 options) were booked. Along came summer camp and car trouble eating up all the money I saved. I saved again and amid a sea of family events, major religious holidays, the heavily booked event calendar at our venue, Florida weather considerations and impending births we compiled a list. It was amazingly frustrating.

    I was stubbornly refusing to consider non-Saturday options in the beginning. When push came to shove we weren't thrilled about any of the Saturdays the venue had open. One of my brilliant bridesmaids had said something to the effect of "The people who love you will find a way to be there no matter what." A few weeks after that comment one of my friends told me she had been married on a Tuesday. That really opened my mind. I'd seen the wedding pictures, it was beautiful and there were guests in attendance. I decided Mike and I should consider the whole calendar. That made things much easier.

    We soon had a decent list of options and a potential money saving plan, weddings Mon-Thurs are 20% off at our venue. I did refuse to consider Mondays though because nobody wants to party on a Monday night. Mike was pushing hard for February 29th. It was different, my flowers would still be in season and it would mean my birthday, Valentines and our anniversary in the same month. It occurred to me why he liked the date so much:
    "Do you want to get married on leap year so we only have an anniversary every four years?"
    In the end that one didn't work since one of our groomsman is an expectant father and his wee one would be too tiny for his family to venture out. On top of which I don't like the idea of an anniversary every four years.

    I had always wanted a St. Patrick's Day wedding, but that was taken at our venue. It's a good night for fairies. Leap year was out and April 21st was also taken at our venue. At the point that we opened up the calendar we liked the Friday the 13th option in April and March 21st (3-2-1, 1-2). Those were the front runners, but we had 4 back-ups all in April.

    I went armed with my list of options, my checkbook and butterflies in my stomach to the venue. In the end we're having a weekday wedding on 3/21/12. Honestly, we loved the numbers and the discount. After booking the date I found out it is the vernal equinox, day and night are balanced equally. It's also the Baha'i observance of the vernal equinox symbolizing spiritual growth and renewal(a href="">Holy Days Calendar).

    Sounds good to me. I like the idea of spiritual renewal on my wedding day. I also don't think Mike's likely to forget our anniversary being 3-2-1 (blast-off!).

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Kick Ass Save the Dates

    So, you may or may not remember waaaaaaay back in June when I mentioned coming to a consensus on the save the date design. In a nutshell, I wanted a simple magnet that had something humorous on it since folks will be staring at it a long time. Mike ran with that comment and insisted on something interactive. After a few ideas we landed on magnetic poetry for the interactive part.

    1. Paint Shop (or other design software)
    2. Magnets (order printed online or print your own magnetic sheets)
    3. Photo Prints
    4. A source for quotes
    5. A craft cutter (I used a Silhouette) or Xacto knife
    6. Spray adhesive
    7. Glue stick
    8. A4 Invitation Envelopes
    9. A stamp
    10. Inkpad
    11. Tissue paper

    Before I begin, please remember we're having a Midsummer Night's Dream inspired wedding. Now to begin with you need a source for your pretty quotes. We used 4 quotes from Midsummer, 2 from As You Like It and 1 from Romeo & Juliet. Is my theatre major showing?
    My Quote List

    1. "It is not night when I do see your face, Therefore I think I am not in the night; Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company, For you in my respect are all the world"
    2. "Out of these woods desire not to go. I do love thee. Therefore go with me. I'll give thee fairies to attend on thee."
    3. "Now, until the break of day, Through this house each fairy stray. To the best bride-bed will we, Which by us shall blessed be"
    4. "The lunatic, the lover, and the poet Are of imagination all compact"
    5. (MY FAVORITE)"it is thyself, mine own self's better part: mine eye's clearer eye, my dear heart's dearer heart, my food my fortune, and my sweet hope's aim, my sole earth's heaven and my heaven's claim."
    6. "That thou did know how many fathom deep I am in love!"
    7. "My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep; the more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite."
    Shakespeare was the obvious choice for us, but you could easily do song lyrics, bible verses or inside jokes. Once you've got your list you'll want to experiment with colors and fonts. You can download all kinds of free fonts from the internet so don't feel limited by your word processing program. None of our fonts are standard. We chose to make each font different so that each quote would have it’s own and poetry made by mixing them together would have a non-uniform look to it.

    Once you've got your quotes done all pretty, you'll want a background. We preferred this so that once the words were broken apart there was still something pretty and intact to look at. We didn't want a picture of ourselves, although that's customary. We chose a picture of a cool old tree with "fairies" circling it. I just scoped out deals on photo prints and had 50 printed once we'd run it through Paintshop to our satisfaction.

    The next step was making the frame that had the actual information on it. Typically, save the dates have: the date, your names, the city & state, the wedding site url and "formal invitation to follow". We did all of those except for city & state. Exact location is listed on the wedding site, which sorry blog fans is guests only. The frame would ultimately go around the background image, but needed to be magnetic so once we designed it we put it around the quotes and sent that image to Vistaprint. Here are the two pieces: Top-Background Print from CVS and Bottom-Custom Magnet from Vistaprint. A word of warning: do not adjust your image to the magnet size Vistaprint lists under the magnet type. Instead open the product description and use the dimensions there. They compensate for bleed and it kept cutting off the bottom of my frame. Also, with any DIY project order a test batch, make a prototype, make any adjusts and then order your 50 magnets (or whatevers).

    Now for the trickiest bit, cutting all those tiny words apart without severing them completely from each other or the background. I invested in a craft cutter because I'm a crafty DIY person in real life as well as the wedding planning arena. Now, you need to make sure you have a craft cutter that hooks up to your computer as opposed to a cartridge based one for this. If you do, you simply pull your design from Paintshop into the design software that came with your cutter and start drawing boxes. Make sure you have the correct dimensions for your image. Once you've tested the blade options and found the one that will cut deep enough to allow them to be broken apart by the recipients I recommend putting a pen (we used a fine tip Sharpie) in and letting it draw where it'll cut to test your alignment.

    We destroyed 30 magnets before discovering this trick. Once you have it aligned properly you simply feed them through. Please make sure you’ve allowed enough room for the cutting mat to feed through without bumping anything! We gave the adhesive mat a spritz of spray adhesive every so often to keep the magnets from sliding. You will probably need a replacement blade once you're done. If you're doing this project on a much smaller scale you can simply draw lines with a straight edge and go over them with an X-acto knife. I think it may yield more perfect results, but for just shy of 50 magnets it was completely impractical for us.

    With the complicated part behind you comes the repetitive tasks (that if you're lucky enough to have a groom and wedding party like mine) you can enlist help for. First, I had to carefully separate each frame from the quotes magnet. I recommend bending it all the way around and then pulling in opposite directions so you don't yank a word or two free. Then you secure the liberated frame magnet to the background image. I used a glue stick and then set them under heavy books. I experimented with spray adhesive, but it was messy and unforgiving. I found it took a lot of squidging to get the frame just right and the approximate weight of a high school yearbook to ensure they dried nice and stuck.

    Here are both pieces assembled :


    Next I bought A2 invitation size envelopes at Office Depot in ivory. My bridesmaid and official blog photographer, happily hand stamped them. I then loaded them in but not this way unless they were being hand delivered. When mailing magnets the post office requires they be loaded into the envelope magnet side away from the address. Which is why I recommend cutting some tissue paper. That way your guests, unlike mine, won't open their beautifully stamped envelopes looking at black magnetic frame and photo processing paper.

    Ta-da! Interactive, magnetic, Midsummer Night's Dream inspired save the dates. Don't be shy, comment on this project please. The wedding budget prevented me from sending it to more than 44 households so pretend you're receiving one, what do you think?

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Wedding Dreams

    My first wedding related dream was a few weeks ago. I dreamt I had to threaten a groomsman into getting his suit picked up and Mike's boss roughed him up for me. It was weird and stressful. The other night I had my first mostly good wedding dream.

    I found myself in my actual wedding dress standing on a hillside in Boston with about 60 people. I remember being confused. Had I missed it? Was I married? Oh, well it was a lovely day. After milling around I realized I had forgotten to fill out the photographer's timeline sheet. Now, he'd have no idea what to take pictures of or when. This was bad.

    All the sudden I was in Boston University’s black box theater where my reception was being held. It was just me alone joyously wondering about in the much beloved space. I remember thinking more than once I was glad we decided to have the wedding in Boston. All at once everyone was there dancing, although I never saw my groom once the whole dream. Maybe because I have no idea what he'll be wearing. Anyway, at that point I realized I hadn't seen my photographer all day.

    It was funny because in the dream I knew exactly how much I had paid and how many hours I had arranged for in real life and was trying to reason out where he might be. Then like magic my dad asked me to dance and there was Jason, the photographer, snapping away.

    I guess it means I miss Boston and photography's important to me, duh! I looked amazingly beautiful in the dream and I loved my dress. It was a pretty fun dream considering the photographer stress. I hope I have more like this one than the first.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Not Everyone Loves A Theme...

    I have been looking up "fairy wedding", "fairy bride" and "enchanted forest wedding" for months. Unfortunately, this mainly yielded cheesy images of brides in Tinkerbell inspired dresses and grooms in tights. Not what I envision. Today, I searched "Midsummer Night's Dream wedding" and found this image:

    When I saw it I thought "now that's classy looking, even though it's costumes." Boy, was I surprised to read the attached article. It was just downright rude. See for yourself :
    Different Perspective

    This blogger: Midsummer Night's Dream Wedding, 102 of her readers and I disagree!

    It can be done with tremendous beauty, but our wedding will not feature costumes. The only fairy wings will be on the 2yr olds, where I feel they belong. I am inspired by, not re-creating Midsummer. I am offended on these peoples' behalf for all the ugly things that girl said.

    Here's the original post and images: Wedding Inspirasi. How anyone can make fun of such beautiful images is beyond me. Philistines!

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    "Dishes Are Done, Man!"

    I did it I dragged my sick butt to the post office with the 25 remaining save the dates and mailed them. It was pouring cats and dogs so I waited for it to let up and rushed over. It was surreal because there was no line. Not one soul standing there, at the post office.

    I had that moment where I considered skipping the little maze the line forms in and walking straight to the counter, but found I couldn't do it. I trotted through the maze and waited at the appropriate spot to be called. Visions of Shrek bull dozing through the empty velvet robe maze were playing in my head the whole time.

    I asked for pretty stamps. The very nice postman asked what the event was to make stamp suggestions. When I said wedding he threw out three options. It felt like choosing desert at a fancy restaurant. There was the standard two gold wedding bands, pass. There were some cool viney flowers, warmer. In the end I liked the king and queen of hearts.

    They have kind of a vintage feel with muted colors. Their clothes have vines on them and the word love is written in a pretty script near the edge. Appropriate for our wedding which we joke is hosted by the king and queen of the fairies.

    A little different, but still in the wedding vein. Perfect! I can't wait for people to start getting them. Woohoo, first big DIY project finished.

    Monday, August 8, 2011


    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    The Only Other Voice That Matters

    When I looked up the legal requirements for a wedding I was stunned. All it takes is a bride, a groom, an officiant (civil or religious) and two witnesses. You have to both be present, make some kind of "verbal acceptance of the union" and all sign the marriage license. That's all. That is making a marriage, which as we all know is not the same thing as planning a wedding.

    To meet the requirements of legal marriage would take less than 15min and cost less than $200. To throw a wedding in this area last year on average cost folks $18,275-$30,459 and most vendors who work receptions book for 4hrs. Isn't it strange?

    There are all these details, traditions and requirements that have everything to do with ancient superstitions and the wedding industrial complex. Outside of that there all these people involved who all bring their emotional baggage to the equation. It grows from 5 people and as many signatures to a large event being put on for the guests so easily.

    I do not want to elope. I am very happy with the wedding I am planning. It just needs to be put in perspective sometimes. It is a promise before God between Mike and I requiring a few witnesses, anything else is our choice. When there are too many cooks in the kitchen or one overly eager person is making themselves heard too loudly it is my job to remember these things are just extras.

    In the end there is only one other voice that matters. I am beyond thrilled to have my family and friends with me on the big day. I am floored by the love and support I have felt in the planning process, but planning still becomes overwhelming. It's a simple thing and we choose to make it more complicated.

    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    Bridesmaids' Get Together

    It wasn't all business, in fact it was mostly play. Sandy is an incredibly considerate bridesmaid, she called me before she got her very stylish and practical in Florida summer, haircut. She cut her hair with my blessing, but I appreciated the heads up. Speaking of thoughtful, please note my awesome bride headband that Lara brought me. Riley said "oh, Mommy pin-cses!". It was sweet. She decided if I was a Mommy princess than she was a “baby princess”. We watched a silly wedding movie and snacked. Riley sat very sweetly sharing my popcorn. When the movie was over I sent Riley to Daddy to tuck her in. At which point, I came back to my girls and announced "that concludes the Riley portion of our evening."

    At that point, with both bridesmaids accounted for, I donned my bride headband and debriefed them on the projected timeline. Lara found the shoes the girls will be wearing yesterday, which was exciting. We talked dress fittings, big DIY projects, the shower, the bachelorette party, the rehearsal and of course the big day. They both had some really good feedback on the timeline and individual events. It's nice that they were both got married recently so it's all still fresh. On top of which all of my bridesmaids are sharp as tacks.

    After the "meeting" portion of the evening concluded we bid Sandy a good night and put another movie in. We decided to assemble the last 14 save the dates while we watched. It didn't take long before they were done. I couldn't believe all the months of deciding, designing, ordering, waiting and assembling were over. After that we loaded them into the envelopes I'd already hand addressed with a brown fine tipped Sharpie. Just a tip (because it the opposite of what is usually done and I kept messing up): Magnets have to be mailed with magnetic side facing away from the address. In my case it meant opening the envelope to see the Kodak logo on the print paper and black magnet instead of a pretty picture of fairies in the woods. If I had thought it through better I might have cut some pretty paper, but I was ready to declare this project done.

    After the save the dates were all correctly oriented in their envelopes we did my favorite thing, checked people off the list. In the end they were all accounted for, hurray! I'll be taking them to the post office Monday. I'm so glad I got to have a girly night and talk wedding for a few hours. I think we'll be getting together again in a few weeks when my sister flies in for dinner or something, fun stuff. After that we'll have dress fittings, super fun stuff.

    My first wedding party event is behind me and my save the dates are mailbox ready, it's really happening.

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Prepping for Bridemaids Night

    So, I'm getting the girls together. I'll distribute their calendars (YAY!), contact sheets and save the dates which all match in dark green folders. When Mike heard me said "I have to finish making the packets" he rolled his eyes. That's why groomsmen don't have get-togethers and packets. In fact without email they'd never know what was going on. I digress.

    I have 4 official bridesmaids (one is out of town) and 1 unofficial bridesmaid. My unofficial bridesmaid is invited and encouraged to participate in everything she wants too, but not required to buy a dress since she’s not standing with us. She is the ring bearer’s mommy has two kids under two and just moved 45ish minutes away. We love her, our BUB. So, I invited all the local girls to a girls’ night. I promised no hard labor just wedding movies, snacks and wedding talk.

    BUB couldn't come so I met up with her early in the week to let the kids play and delivered her packet. I was expecting my 3 local bridesmaids until today. One of my bridesmaids had to leave town. I put her packet and the one for my out of town bridesmaid together and set them aside.

    I confirmed the kids plans and evicted Mike from the living room tomorrow night. Even with the three of us it's good to have a girls’ night and catch everyone up. The only thing I'm sad about is not getting a group picture like I wanted, but we have time for that.

    I made really good choices in my wedding party. I love them, so much. Hurry up, tomorrow.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    The P.R.

    When you get engaged, the ring is your prime time ad announcing wedding[us] Inc. open for business. Everyone wants to see it, it's all new and sparkly. After that everyone asks "when's the wedding?" For me there was two phases of this, one directly following the official proposal and one following the launch of my wedding blog a few years later. For long stretches of time you politely say "I have no idea." It's just like coming home on college breaks to everyone asking "what's next?" you simply politely respond with no information.

    After you set the date you have to let people know. We made save the date magnets, hurray! Once you've informed people that the event exists in the foreseeable future there is a flood of other questions. It's press conference time. In this day and age the easiest way to inform the masses is via the good old internet. Hence, the next step being the wedding website aka wedsite. I spent weeks plugging our pictures and info into a free template. I know. I know. "You're marrying a programmer. Why would you have a canned site?" I have two kids, a still healing back and a wedding to plan, sue me.

    As, I was saying I poured over what information people would want on the site (the deal breakers and preparation worthy bits). I waded through options and apps and searched my memory of which bits of other wedsites I found super useful or interesting. I added pieces and then rejected them in the end to keep things streamlined. I wrote a short welcome, the story of Mike & I, introduced the wedding party, added an RSVP & song request form, venue info and an FAQ section.

    It was the FAQs that took the most thought. The two most common quandaries thus far are "where are you registered" and "what should I wear?". With those added I sat thinking about what I've asked engaged couples...I added answers about kids, food, booze and pictures. I also added an email in case I forgot anything. As with PR for any event I hope I've been thorough and entertaining in my explanations.

    With the save the dates and wedsite giving people a hint of what to expect I I anticipate some buzz about the "big day" for months to come.

    I want to know what the weirdest/funniest/most common question you were asked leading up to your wedding?

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Where Do You Feel God?

    One thing that came out when Mike and I did the questionnaire for the wedding planning ecourse I'm taking was how we feel about nature. It's a spiritual thing to commune with nature. It's beautiful and allows for a lot of peaceful contemplation. We're not just getting married outside our entire wedding is themed around enchanted woods.

    Whether, that magic is God smiling down on a new union of souls or Shakespearian fairies playing tricks on us ("Oh what fools these mortals be") we feel more connected to the universe out there. It gives us the calm one should posess when making eternal promises. Churches can be beautiful, but they are man made and confining. Nature is God's canvas and we'll standing out in the openness of the universe when we say our vows.

    Whatever truth Puck utters about us foolish mortals, I do value the comfort of my guests as well as my romantic and spiritual feelings about being outdoors. We'll be dining inside, in the air-conditioning with a view of the lovely gardens and any fairies that happen by.

    It's an everlasting promise. To make ready your heart and soul for such vows is a big task. In every area of the wedding I strive for the comfort of the bride and groom first and the meaning behind things as a close second. I am thrilled beyond words for our beautiful ceremony spot in our perfect venue. It's going to be worthy of a sonnet or two.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    Just For Fun

    Yes, while searching for an image to a not-quite-as-interesting post I found this. I spun my computer around to Mike who said "I love it! Is that rice krispie treats and duct tape? If it's not it should be!".

    Puppet proposals? Why not. I don't think the internet makes people more creative I just think it gives creative people a bigger audience. Sigh..proposal videos. Or if you don't have mad Jim Henson skills there's animation :

    Fun stuff! While we're on the subject of fun, I'll be assembling my last 10ish save the dates and mailing the would lot out by early next week and publically (as in blogside) announcing our date. As a teaser though I'll share a bit of the date picking process. Weeks ago Mike and I sat with respective lap tops staring at on screen calendars discussing dates we could live with (and were in love with). In the process Mike discover 2012 is a leap year and thought 2/29 would be a good day to tie the knot. That didn't work logistically, but I was curious so I asked "do you want to get married on leap year so we only have to celebrate our anniversary every four years?" Mike answered excitedly "Yeah!" He's such a stinker.

    Monday, August 1, 2011


    I found a good website or two on recommendations of been there, done that brides. One of which is Indiebride it's lovely, but low traffic message boards which bums me out. There is also the big bad Offbeat Bride. I found this site with all its offbeat wedding photos, articles from (gasp!) disabled brides and interesting topics for discussion, thrilling. While I was browsing Amazon for some useful wedding books I found the book! Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides looked interesting, so I read all that the look inside feature allowed. I had to have it!(And God Bless the internet!)

    The author of the book went on to found the site and now had become one of my personal heroes. It was so nice not to feel alone in not wanting to blindly accept all wedding traditions. On the other hand it was nice to hear that it's ok to want what everyone else wants now and then too. It's all about what's right for us. Phew!

    A few weeks ago, I got an email advertising the first ever Offbeat Bride(OBB) web course called Bridechilla. I was in. First, the clever name was appealing and something I aspire to be. Second, it was taught by the woman herself and her second in command. Third, more worksheets! Fourth, a community of offbeat brides to support and understand me. Fifth, forced weekly "me time" centered on my current favorite subject. Sixth, more blog material...

    Tonight was night one of our first week called: Working with your partner to find your wedding’s vibe. There was a "questionnaire of awesome craziness" that Mike I were both supposed to fill out separately and then discuss our answers. My stomach sank, I'm used to being teacher's pet and now my homework was contingent on Mike, on a Monday!

    There were obviously wedding related questions and then there were seemingly random quandaries. Stuff like "If you could have anyone decorate a room of your house, who would it be, what room, why?" or "You have a bajillion dollars. What are you going to do with it?". I found it fun and went with my gut for the most part. Mike stalked off after dinner for half an hour and came back with responses spilling off the page.

    We are very different kinds of students, romantic partners and human beings. What I really learned was that we had hit on and grown a wedding from our common ground. Nature, poetry, magic, beauty. From there we differ Mike would be fine doing that alone and I could add another 50 people to the guest list with no trouble at all for example. Even though the goal wasn't to match answers (and we didn't) it made me laugh at how well we could predict each other response. That's what we did for most of our discussion about the worksheet, laugh. It's a good sign I think.

    The first of our weekly video chats was great. We discussed finding our wedding "vibes", but also overcoming our guilt at not appeasing other people's emotional wedding baggage (hallelujah!) and different input languages. I think Mike is a visual person and I am an auditory person. They really emphasize putting your relationship first during the planning process, not something I've come across anywhere else.

    I'm so excited for the weeks ahead and tomorrow's video chat with the woman herself.