Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: My Wedding Weekend in Pittsburgh

Jamie of The Perpetual Page-Turner has decided to chronicle her wedding planning and stuff about weddings in weekly blog posts, and since I'm also planning a wedding I thought I'd join in on her idea!

This week I'm going to take a break talking about my own wedding and share my wedding experience from this past weekend. Last Thursday Steve and I went to Pittsburgh for a wedding, as one of Steve's good friends from college was getting married. It was a much different kind of wedding than any I had ever been to, but it was really nice.

The ceremony and party were in the couple's back yard, which had just been finished that week. Their house was still not finished yet, we and many other people worked on it the week or so before the wedding, but they did a great job at cleaning it up for the roughly 80-90 people who came.

All eight (yes, eight) of their parents gave them marital advice (they were surprised and skeptical when their children asked them to do this, since all but one have been divorced), and following this the couple exchanged their own vows. Then they exchanged rings and all of their families pronounced them husband and wife, and their siblings all said a toast. And that was the ceremony! Short, simple, sweet. (They did get officially married at the justice of the peace beforehand, but no one is sure exactly when this happened.)

We all mingled in their beautiful backyard, looking at a photography project the groom completed that ended up chronicling his first year with his new wife, eating delicious food and drinking wine and beer. Steve got to spend a lot of time with people he hasn't seen in years, which was great, and I got to meet all his friends from college, which was fantastic.

For us, Irene was a blessing in disguise. Our flight on Sunday was canceled, and though it seemed like a huge pain at first, we got to spend more time in the city with his friends and more time away from home and the pressures that go with it.

We were talking about how we were a little jealous of the newly married couple; we can't have a small, simple wedding because of how large our families are and our parents' expectations. I don't think I would want to get married in my backyard without an officiant, but part of me wishes it all didn't have to be such a production. (Another part of me is excited by that, but it is exhausting.)

We're going to be spending a lot more time planning, and we're going to spend money on things we probably wouldn't have spent as much on 15 years ago, but I know in the end I will remember my wedding day with only happiness and joy, and that's what counts.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Magazines

Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner started this little feature for her own wedding, and since I'm planning mine at the same time (we're getting married three months apart almost to the day!), I figured I'd piggy-back on the idea. :)

No news on the wedding front yet, except I've set up all the hotel room blocks for our guests. (Hooray!) What I'm going to talk about today is the number of magazines out there for brides and wedding stuff.

The one that may come to mind first is The Knot, which not only has a national issue that comes out quarterly, but a regional issue as well. I'm really digging all things The Knot so far, especially their website—it's super helpful to have a timeline of things that need to get done, even if you don't necessarily do all the things on the list. Plus it's nice to just get the ideas in the magazine! I started to plan out the bouquets after this past Boston issue because there was so much in there about them and I got excited.

Then there's Real Simple Weddings, which isn't so much a magazine as a special issue of their magazine that costs around the price of a book. BUT my favorite part about this one is that I got a FREE subscription to Real Simple Magazine with the purchase! And I've discovered I'm a little bit in love with Real Simple Magazine. Oh, and there are great ideas in the wedding issue too.

And finally, Bride's magazine rounds out my mag experience. This is a monthly publication, which is great because there are so many more ideas and articles I can look at on a monthly basis. And I can get them out of the library! Well, not my library, but one nearby. Lots of fantastic little ideas for the details are in this one, as well as TONS of pictures of wedding gowns, which is great for inspiration. (Side note—having lots of trouble finding one of those for me. Been to three places with no dice.)

Anyway, that's my Wedding Wednesday! Check out Jamie's too! She's talking about her venue today.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Review: "Cool Beans" by Erynn Mangum

Title: Cool Beans
Author: Erynn Mangum
Publisher: NavPress, 2010

This is a Christian fiction book, just letting you all know that up front because I know not everyone likes that kind of thing.

Maya Davis loves her job at Cool Beans, a coffee shop in Hudson, California, which is perfect since she's absolutely addicted to caffeine and coffee. She works with one of her best friends, Jack, and lives with her other best friend, Jen. Throw in Calvin the beagle and her life seems pretty perfect. Until her ex-boyfriend from high school/first year of college shows up. The one that she went ring shopping with. The one that Jen is now dating and who doesn't recognize her. When she lets it go a little too long without telling Jen, she feels stuck. Throw into that the fact her perfect, hard-to-live-up-to doctor brother is moving back with his wife. God has thrown her some curveballs. Where is He when she needs Him?

I loved Maya and her friends. I loved reading about her exploits, and I loved that she would say "yay" all the time. I want to be friends with her, and I'm really looking forward to the other two books in the series!

There was nothing major plot-wise, besides the whole omgmyexisdatingmybestfriendwhatdoidoooo!!!! thing. I just really enjoyed Maya's personal journey, her getting over the ex (years later), and her relationship with God. I also loved her relationship with Jack! Jack is pretty fantastic, I must say. He is studying to be a zookeeper! And is funny and supportive and just an overall great guy. I loved their banter and his little nicknames for Maya.

Also, love Calvin. He does pilates and loves ice cream. (Side note: One thing that really bothered me was that it sounded like Maya fed Calvin chocolate, which is a big no no. It annoyed me each time I read it.) Anytime there is an adorable doggie it makes me happy.

And the descriptions of coffee? It made me crave mochas and lattes to no end. Cinnamon mochas sound delicious.

Totally looking forward to reading more from Erynn Mangum, especially the continued adventures of Maya! The next book, p.s., is all about a wedding (not going to say whose so I don't spoil it!), but this is going to be great for me since I'm getting married soon too.

Disclosure: I got this e-book for my nook from

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: "The Bride's Survival Guide" and looking for a stationer

Over at The Perpetual Page-Turner, Jamie has started to write posts every Wednesday about her upcoming wedding one year from tomorrow (!). As luck would have it, I'm also planning my wedding at this time! I'll be getting married May 19, 2012, right here in the Boston area, so I'm going to take this opportunity to talk about wedding stuff with Jamie. Sorry for all of you who are not interested about my personal life, but I just can't pass this up!

The Bride's Survival Guide: 150 Mistakes You Should Avoid for the Perfect WeddingFor this first Wedding Wednesday, I'm going to highlight a book that has proven to be pretty helpful to me. It's called The Bride's Survival Guide, written by Sharon Naylor, and it's got a ton of information and helpful hints about planning your big day. I was really glad to get something like this, since I had absolutely no clue what I was doing to begin with. Who'd have thought to ask about renovations your possible reception venue might be undergoing at the time of your wedding? I need to go back to it for a refresher soon.

As far as other plans so far, I've got my venues (both church and reception), I've got a band, a photographer, and working on finding a stationer for invitations. I've been talking to two people and I think the end result will be based on cost. But look at their websites!

Today I went for a consultation at Smudge Ink, a stationer in Charlestown, MA. Deb there is super nice, and I love their designs and the letter-press printing they do. It can be formal, but with a little bit of funk.

My other choice is Phillips Street Stationers out of Wayland, MA. Their invitations are very elegant and formal, and I love the pocket invite idea. Shirra there has been very helpful and has created a few PDFs for me to take a look at what she would be able to do! I hope to go see her in person soon.

That's all for now, folks! Hope I haven't bored you too much!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Review: "Ruby Red" by Kerstin Gier

Title: Ruby Red
Author: Kerstin Gier
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co., 2011
Translator: Anthea Bell

Gwyneth is in a fine mess. Her perfect, know-it-all cousin Charlotte was supposed to have the time travel gene in her family and has been preparing for time travel since childhood. But as luck would have it, turns out some secrets are revealed when Gwyneth is the one to jump back in time, completely unexpectedly, instead. Sure, she could talk to ghosts, but time travel? So with no training whatsoever and only a quick run-down of what's going on and what their mission is, Gwyneth is thrust into the role of the ruby, last of the time travelers and the one to complete the circle. But is everything what the Guardians say true? Why did her cousin Lucy and Paul de Villiers run off 16 years earlier? Who can she trust?

To be honest, I was not expecting much from Ruby Red when I picked it up. I thought it would be a fun, light read, but I underestimated it. Not only is the text funny, engaging and full of British slang (win), it is a fast-paced adventure bundled up in mysteries. I loved Gwyneth's reactions to pretty much everything. She's funny, and she has a backbone, willing to listen to others when no one else will. She doesn't really take anything lying down, which is good since everyone around her is trying to control what she does.

Anthea Bell, the translator, does a wonderful job. I couldn't tell it was translated at all—it's like it was written in English by a Brit, the language is so spot-on.

Unfortunately I'm not a huge fan of the cover. It's pretty boring, and doesn't really reflect the spunkiness of the main character or the plot very well. It's very plain.

I'm very intrigued by where this is going. I certainly will want to read the sequels, the next of which is Sapphire Blue, out next spring.

Disclosure: This book was sent to me by Zeitghost Media in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review: "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt" by Beth Hoffman

Title: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Author: Beth Hoffman
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books, 2010

Cecelia Rose Honeycutt, or CeeCee as her Momma calls her, has been stuck as the caretaker of her psychotic mother whose mind is stuck in her days of being crowned the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen back in Georgia. Her father is mostly absent, always traveling for "business" and refusing to acknowledge that her mother needs help that he hasn't already gotten for her. But tragedy strikes, and CeeCee finds herself in Savannah, Georgia with her Aunt Tootie, someone she had never known even existed. But in Savannah, she finds a home and a family of women she never even dreamed of in Willoughby, Ohio.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is a lovely little novel full of maxims and life philosophy, all from the mouths of wise women in this new world into which CeeCee is thrust. She is so used to being alone, to being an outcast and a laughingstock because of her mother, that she doesn't know what to make of her new home at first. But CeeCee eventually makes friends with the ladies of the neighborhood, including Oletta, the woman who runs Aunt Tootie's household, Miz Goodpepper, her eccentric and exotic next-door neighbor, and of course, Aunt Tootie herself, a warm and welcoming relative that I would love to find out was my long-lost aunt.

This is certainly a character-driven novel. The setting plays an incredibly important role as a character too; Savannah makes its residents who they are, even CeeCee's mother who was stuck up in Ohio and pined for her home down South. The lushness of the setting comes through on nearly every page, opening CeeCee's eyes to the natural world.

CeeCee was okay as a narrator. Hoffman got the dialogue for her right, but something felt just slightly off about her narration. I'm assuming she is telling the story years after the events of the novel, which take place in the late 1960s, but I still felt unsure about where CeeCee was coming from.

Overall this book was enjoyable, but I think I was expecting too much. There was less plot than I expected, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I sometimes wished more things would happen. I think I was expected something more along the lines of something by Fannie Flagg, who by the way is fantastic and I wholeheartedly recommend Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. I would also recommend this book if you're looking for something strictly character-driven and you enjoy a Southern setting.

Disclosure: I bought this book at a library book sale.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Foverever Giveaway Winner!

I've picked a winner for my Forever giveaway with the ever-handy, and the magic number made Annette from Annette's Book Spot my winner! Congratulations, Annette! I hope you enjoy your signed ARC of Forever by Maggie Stiefvater!

On a side note, I'll be in Michigan for the rest of the week, with limited Internet access. And by limited, I mean strictly from my phone. So you will not be seeing much of me, though I hope to be on Twitter fairly often. Oh by the way, it's quarter to four in the morning and I'm awake so that I can get to the airport on time. BOOO.

Anyway, have a good week everyone!

Monday, August 1, 2011

I will post later on the awesomeness that was The Body Electric

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be an attendee of the annual Simmons College Children's Literature Institute, this year the theme being The Body Electric. The weekend was chock-full of author goodness, with names including Jacqueline Woodson, Jack Gantos, Sharon Draper, Sara Pennypacker and M.T. Anderson.

It is late now, however, and I would like to curl up in bed with a book. I will do my best to put up a more full post later, but I might need some prodding on this. Don't let me slack now! I can't miss telling you about Jack Gantos's idea for the children's lit graveyard, now, can I?
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