Archive for October, 2009

The First Couple on (Their) Marriage

Posted on October 31, 2009. Filed under: inspiration, reality |

Hey, y’all!  Have you read this article in the New York Times Magazine?

The Obamas’ Marriage

If you haven’t read it, go now.  Seriously.  Right now.  It’s mind-blowingly honest and real.  Regardless of your political persuasion, we need more honesty and reality around marriages.  They talk about ups and downs, decisions and families and figuring out how to to make a marriage work with what might be the world’s toughest external factors.

Oh, where to begin to blog about how this story resonated with me? 

A smart, accomplished, ambitious woman figuring out how her husband’s life and desires fit with hers… and being honest about it:

Unlike the wife who smiles tightly and insists everything is fine, Michelle sent a clear series of distress signals not only to her husband but to everyone around her. “Barack and I, we’re doing a lot of talking,” she would say when asked how she was holding up.

A couple with an admittedly happy marriage talking honestly about how hard marriage can be:

Two months later in the Oval Office, I asked the Obamas just how severe their strains had been. “This was sort of the eye-opener to me, that marriage is hard,” the first lady said with a little laugh. “But going into it, no one ever tells you that. They just tell you, ‘Do you love him?’ ‘What’s the dress look like?’ ”

A man worried that if his wife agrees to what he wants, she won’t be happy.  When my husband and I disagree, his biggest worry is that I’m not happy (hello, of COURSE I’m not happy, we’re yelling at each other, buddy!), so this strikes a chord in me:

The first lady looked solemnly at the president. He said: “You know, I mean, I think that it was important for us to work this through. . . . There was no point where I was fearful for our marriage. There were points in time where I was fearful that Michelle just really didn’t — that she would be unhappy.”

This, THIS, this right here is why I blog about all the things that aren’t rainbows and butterflies:

“If my ups and downs, our ups and downs in our marriage can help young couples sort of realize that good marriages take work. . . .” Michelle Obama said a few minutes later in the interview. The image of a flawless relationship is “the last thing that we want to project,” she said. “It’s unfair to the institution of marriage, and it’s unfair for young people who are trying to build something, to project this perfection that doesn’t exist.”

And my favorite, the quote that out of an article filled with oh-my-God-we-ARE-normal-thank-God moments, stuck in my head and settled into my heart with a whoosh of peace:

Michelle Obama accepted that she was not going to have a conventional marriage, that her husband would be away much of the time. “That was me, wanting a certain type of model, and our lives didn’t fit that model,” she told me in an Iowa lunchroom in the summer of 2007. “I just needed the support. It didn’t have to be Barack.”

Tell me honestly (since “honest” seems to be a popular word in this post!), did you love the article as much as I did?  Why?

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The One Where Cheese Sucks it Up and Applies her own makeup

Posted on October 17, 2009. Filed under: wedding recaps |

Approximately one year ago, I first started blogging here, and I gotta tell you, I was a mess.  I didn’t know how to be engaged, wasn’t sure how to have fun! and productive! conversations with my fiancé about big things like money and families and his attire. (C’mon, you know that’s a big thing!)  We tried, but every little decision seemed to dissolve into frustration and silence.

Have you ever watched well-socialized puppies play?  When they start to get overwhelmed and over-stimulated, they stop.  They take a break, stand very still, and get themselves under control, then they resume playing.  Dogs who don’t speak “dog” well don’t do this and their play deteriorates into real aggression.

That was us.  We’d start a benign conversation about tents and before we knew it, be arguing about who cared more and did more and loved more and… you get the picture.  I wondered, often, how people managed to so easily discuss such big things.

“We talked about when to have kids.”

“We were chatting about our budget.”

“We decided that our dream wedding would be modern yet sentimental, light and funny, but classy.  And we want gold-rimmed stemware.”

You may as well have been saying that you and your beloved, wearing period-appropriate attire, were laid out in a field of freaking wildflowers surrounded by chirping birds and scented breezes and being massaged by magical hands.  Without allergies or bugs or the need to pee.

But we kept trying.  We had Wedding Wednesdays complete with agendas and action items.  I badgered, cajoled, harassed, gave up, gave in…

… and then we got married.  It was a fabulous and overwhelmingly loving kind of day.  Turns out you can have a rocky engagement and still have a great wedding.

More importantly, you can have a rocky engagement and great wedding and rough first few months of marriage and still have a great marriage.  Four months in, we’ve figured it out.  Well, mostly.  A lot of it had to do with the usual culprits: expectations, trust, sharing, and housework.  But then I realized that I have a choice every day to live happily or make a change, and I choose to live happily.  I focused on the bright side during the month of September and it paid off (you can read about it here).

So if you read blogs with couples who have found their joint vision and never spend big money without consensus – and you find that both awesome and horribly depressing because you can’t imagine getting there – take heart.  You can.  Take a deep breath, have faith even if you don’t know in what, and believe.  You love and are loved and you will be okay.  Cut your man some slack for being male, don’t feel bad about deciding things he doesn’t care about anyway, and love your people.

Okay, back to my wedding! 

I waffled and debated and had entirely too many free makeup trials, then decided I would do my own.  Was it cheaper?  No.  I spent more on cosmetic items than I would have paid a makeup artist.  Was it worth it? Absolutely.


Look, we brides often get ridiculed for paying attention to little things that non-brides think are narcissistic at best and evidence of a controlling maniac at worst.  The quickest way to bore a non-bride to tears is to talk about your makeup; somehow hair debates are less annoying, don’t ask me why.


But it’s my face on pictures I will be showing my grandchildren, and while makeup issues are certainly not on par with things like vows and chairs and rings, let’s not minimize them.  In the end, having practiced by bothering to put on makeup every day for months, I was confident in my skills, tools, and products.

My fake picture smile, not so much.


But handling my own makeup made for moments like this one:


And this one:


And diva-ish pictures like this one:


Add that to the fact that I can put on flattering and long-lasting makeup in 15 minutes just in time to throw on heels and run to a big business meeting, and I’ll call this one a success.

Here’s my product list (no links because I have faith in your Google skills… all costs are approximate and based on my faulty memory):

Aveda Inner Light Liquid Foundation: $22, Aveda

Physician’s Formula Powder Palette in Translucent to set the foundation: $10, Walgreens

Nars Blush/ Bronzer duo in Orgasm and Laguna: $37, Sephora. Love.  Love, love, love.  How they devised one color that works on so many skin tones is beyond me.

Smashbox Photo Op Under Eye Brightener: $18, Sephora

Sonia Kashuk concealer in Dusk 21: $10, Target

Sonia Kashuk eyeshadow palette: $14, Target

Maybelline Unstoppable eyeliner in Espresso, set with dark brown eyeshadow: $7, Walgreens

Maybelline Intense XXL Waterproof mascara in Blackest Black: $10.  Wore it to a therapy appointment to try it out and then didn’t cry one. single. time.  :)  A day later, I made an emergency trip to buy eye makeup remover because the stuff would not come off.  This was a good thing on our wedding day.  Not so good on our wedding night.  Or the next morning.

Prestige lip liner in Natural: $3, Walgreens.

Bloom lipstick in Indulge: $10, Dillards.

Sally Hansen Diamond Lip Treatment (gloss) in Royal Romance: $10, Walgreens.

Next up: hair, dress, veil and other attire-related details!

All photography by Angela Herzog of Angela Herzog Photography ( unless otherwise noted.  Asterisks (*) indicate that post-processing was done by me, and thus, should not be held against her.  See this post for more details.

Late to the party? See previous recaps here:

Part I: And It Begins

Part II: My People, Part I

Part III: It’s Time

Part IV: Our Ceremony

Part V: My People, Part II

Part VI: Celebrate Good Times, COME ON ALREADY!

Part VII: Yummy Yummy For My Tummy

Part VIII: And We Danced

Part IX: The Cheesy, Cheesy Details… with a little bit of sentimentality thrown in

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The Cheesy, Cheesy Details… with a little bit of sentimentality thrown in

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: wedding recaps | Tags: |

I love me some cheesiness, and if my world were perfect, goofiness would have been spread around our property far and wide.  I wanted silly signs, funny photos, witty sayings, and lots o’ love songs.

Alas, my DIY skills (and time and dedication, frankly) were lacking, but I did manage to pull together a few really fantastic details at the last minute.  Some were literally at the last minute: I stayed up until 1:00 AM the night before we got married doing the things I just. had. to. do.

Y’all know what I’m saying, yes?  Sometimes, sleep be damned, a woman’s just gotta follow her inner cheese and DIY some stuff.  And if you feel the need, the insane desire to make some stuff that is not strictly required, and you just know that even if nobody else notices, YOU will notice and be just a tiny bit happier, do it.  Throw practicality to the wind and make some stuff (but only if you are confident you can do that and still enjoy your wedding day, mkay?)

Behold, a non-DIY’ers version of DIY:

Little goofy table tents that I loved more than I should have. Loved.  Made them at 1:00 AM and smiled every time I saw them (okay, and every time I pointed them out to people, every one of the hundred times I may have done that because I loved them so much).  My husband and I both have goofy, cheesy souls.


There were multiple versions, some funnier than others (“C’mon, Baby, light my fire. Seriously. Light the candle, please?”). This was my brilliant solution to the quandary of not knowing how to interrupt dinner or dancing to light candles.  Who wants that job?  Nobody!  And even if we could find someone willing, some people (not naming names but they were all in our wedding party) were having WAY too good a time to stop to light candles.  So instead, we deputized our peeps to help us out.


While we’re on the subject of paper goods, let’s take a moment to remember the crossword puzzles. After debating what to do with them, we solved the problem by completely forgetting about them until after the ceremony (forgetfulness as solution, thankyouverymuch).  So we scattered them about between the ceremony and reception and they were well-received.


I, on the other hand, was very confused as to why people kept asking me where my dogs were and what the second one was named.  Apparently some people were loath to share their answers because they thought there’d be a prize (hello, you’re here and I’m about to get you drunk, that’s your prize) and I was too caught up in being married to remember the things.

Thank you notes. I haven’t shared these yet because I love them so much, and sometimes when you love something so much, you just want to keep it to yourself for a while.  Sort of like earlier today when I had an amazing prime rib and a so-so New York strip sharing space on my plate and for some reason I felt compelled to eat the strip first.  Why?  So it’s feelings wouldn’t get hurt?  No, because the prime rib was so freaking good I wanted to savor it.

So, here we go: remember Mrs. Gummibear, she of the pink salt?  Well, in addition to an unmatched attention to detail, the woman can draw.


I was so thrilled!!!  Working from our engagement pictures and never having met us, she still managed to capture our essences quite convincingly.  {My husband’s reaction to seeing it: “You look hot as a cartoon. I look pretty good, too.”  Let’s not tell him I had her pump up his chest just a little, mkay?}

I used the image on my thank you cards…


Me: “Hey, sis, how freaking cool is that???”


My sister: “You’re a dork.”

Me: “I know, isn’t it cool!?!”

I used the image on our reserved seating signs…


Heck, I love the darned thing so much I’m thinking about using it on my new blog’s header.  Thanks, Gummibear!  You rock!!

The Goonies flag flying in front of our house. Does it count as DIY if it’s not really necessary for a wedding?  Say yes!  My husband loves “The Goonies.”  Loves.  And I love my husband.  So when, one week before our wedding we decided that we needed a flag flying, and my husband made the sad eyes and said, “You know what would make me really happy?” then showed me the flag, what could I do but agree to make it? Granted, not the most intelligent of decisions when I still had a sofa slipcover to finish (yes, the bright yellow one in some of our pictures), but hey, he was happy!


The pole is a length of copper pipe because paying $25 for a cheap piece of plastic just because it was labeled “flagpole” was not acceptable.  Nope.  Sorry.  I made the flag from outdoor Sunbrella fabric. It’s still proudly flying today, almost five months later.  And yes, people driving by still slow down to read it.

Signs for the path to our ceremony site. After painting the whole house at least once – including floors in the basement – I am an accomplished painter, thankyouverymuch. My sentimental heart loved that the planks of wood came from an old fence we found on the property.  Lest you think I was capable of a consistent color palette, please know that this paint was leftover from painting trim in the bathroom; when my foam brush failed me, I used my finger.


We may or may not have left the signs up (ahem).  What?  There WAS a wedding here.  Maybe it wasn’t today, but it was here, and we were happy, and remembering is good.

And this is still the halfway point!  1203

Cake stands. Let’s not get me started on the how unwilling I was to pay a hundred dollars for two cake stands to hold ten buck cakes.  I had a better idea: eleven dollars scored me three big plates, one vase and two dessert glasses from the thrift store.  A little bit of super glue (from the dollar store) and the sweet helpfulness of a stepmom later, we had cake stands.2151

Flowers! Again, I can’t take credit for these, but my SIL created fantabulous bouquets from flowers I bought at the fresh market and grocery store (and, um, some additional stuff I may or may not have taken from our neighbors’ temporarily vacant house but theywouldhaveletmeifIhadaskedISWEAR – let’s just call these sentimental additions).




Beautiful! What kind of a lucky girl was I to score peonies at a (let’s be honest here) grocery store on the week of our wedding?  Really lucky.  I LOVED them.  My grandmother’s cross wrapped around the stem, together with my mama’s necklace and my other grandmother’s earrings, gave me faith and strength and the feeling of being very literally with the women from whom I come.


As for my sister (the remaining female member of my clan) she kept me laughing.  For heaven’s sake, I have no idea what was so funny, but it was really funny.


This is my sister-in-law slash flower creator:


I love her (and not just because she’s fantastic with flowers).  See?


Mmmm.  Happy flowers.


Oh, yea, my mom beautified the flower girl’s basket with some stuff I had and a fifty cent basket from the thrift store because I flat out refused to pay fifty bucks for a freaking basket just because it was labeled “flower girl basket” (are you sensing a trend here?).  My flowergirl was thrilled and that’s what matters.

1691 BW Color

And since we’re talking about my mama, let’s not forget that she made me seven (SEVEN!) beauteous shrugs to choose from (seven!). Here are two:

1413 BW

Yea, I make stupid faces when faced with a camera.  And apparently I lack the self-preservation necessary to keep me from posting these on the internet.


Also, she made me this happy little beauty of a clutch from the same silk as the first shrug and it held my lipgloss and Blackberry quite well (what else do you need when you have a MOH who takes care of your every need, caters to your every whim, refills your empty glass?).


Yea, that’s my veil.  Someone was evidently very intent on making sure that some unknown thing about my veil was clear.  Lovely how quickly you forget the details, huh?

My mama also made this ring posy. I mean, really, who says it has to be a pillow? What if your ring bearer isn’t a cute little boy, but rather a really gorgeous almost teenaged niece who needs to be free to hug and primp and do little girl things?  Then you call your mama, rant share your thoughts, and a few days later she mails you this little bit of happiness.  The rings tied onto silk strings and my husband and I just held our palms open to catch them when it was time.


Those are her gorgeous hands, not mine.  Nope, mine were (as they are today) nail bitten and not at all elegant or bridal, but I am irrationally tied to the ability to chew on my nails when grace eludes me.  And hey, a girl’s gotta keep it real.

The music. All you need is a wonderful little brother with a bad*ss Mac and a willingness to buy a bunch of cheesy songs.  Oh, and the sound system your bachelor (not anymore!) husband paid way too much for because apparently blowing out your ears with the awesomeness of action films in surround sound is totally worth it.  Note: we used a laptop rather than an iPod for the sake of robustness and continuity.  Plus, I hear he was able to download songs on the fly via my wireless internet.2019 BW

Wow, there was more DIY than I thought!  Hang tight, we’re almost there.

And please let’s not overlook the fact that having a backyard wedding at home is, in and of itself, DIY’ing. My husband laid a ton of gravel, we painted almost every wall, renovated the bathroom, landscaped landscaped landscaped… and every bit was worth it.

My dogs chase each other in the same clearing where we pledged our futures to one another. Someday our children will join us.


And every time I want to remember how joy feels, every time I want to remember the love of my people waiting for me, every time I need to remember that I made the choice, the happy and joyful choice, to be with this man, I stand here in this spot, look to the heavens, and say a prayer.


And that, folks, is why I think DIY matters.  You may not make your own invitations or write your own ceremony, but find something you’ll love, something you’ll remember, something that will make you feel good both while you create it and forever in your memories, and do that.   It will be worth it.

All photography by Angela Herzog of Angela Herzog Photography ( unless otherwise noted.  Asterisks (*) indicate that post-processing was done by me, and thus, should not be held against her.  See this post for more details.

Late to the party? See previous recaps here:

Part I: And It Begins

Part II: My People, Part I

Part III: It’s Time

Part IV: Our Ceremony

Part V: My People, Part II

Part VI: Celebrate Good Times, COME ON ALREADY!

Part VII: Yummy Yummy For My Tummy

Part VIII: And We Danced

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    I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt (and divorce papers) to prove it. Here I am again, pledging my life to my (new) love with eyes wide open (and heart racing) knowing full well how emotionally traumatic this can end… and doing it anyway.


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