Jerry and I have always been creative people. I don't even think it's something we can help, not that we'd want to. It's the way we're wired. Last year Jerry came up with this cool logo for himself with his initials, "JL", only the font he created made it look like the J was a reverse of the L, and put them inside 2 circles. It's very cool. We started talking about it, and how it would look good on some rings, like the Wonder Twins. Then we seriously started thinking about it and decided it would be the design we'd use on our wedding bands, since that would be both of our initials. I even made some very chunky rings out of Sculpy, and we liked them. Next step was to find someone who could make them for us. I had taken a jewelry making class in college, so as anyone knows, that makes me an expert. Well, at least I know what kind of time would be involved and how much skill (honestly, if I could crank out 2 rings out of Sculpy in an hour, it isn't that difficult a design). Someone I went to high school with who is on FaceBook has a jewelry store, and so several emails later he assured me he could make rings. Of course, when I called the store to schedule a time to go in and see him, his business partner told me he couldn't do any of that kind of stuff - he could just order premade things and set some stones for me. Okay, checked that crazy person off my list. Did he think I wouldn't find out? Found all the jewelrs nearby, made phone calls and found out who did custom stuff and who didn't. Please note, when you use the word custom, just like the word wedding, it's code for expensive! Then one Friday Jerry and I were out in the "big city" and decided to go to a jeweler and see what they could do, get a rough estimate of prices, etc. So, we walk into the store and the owner comes out and we talk about what we want. I think I visibly see his face fall when we say we want sterling and not gold. Then we describe the rings we want, even draw it out (look, I've got an art degree. I think I can draw a circle with a couple of letters in it). He looks at it, and we describe how we'd like the disc on top of the band. He, of course, has a much better idea. Why don't we have 2 interlocking circles, and he proceeds to draw it out. It represents eternity, you know, giving us a look like a toddler who's just made poopy in the potty because he's just come up with something we were too stupid to think of. We tell him we don't want an engraved circle, we want an actual circle (again). Then he takes us around to look at bands, and we try some on. Since Jerry and I both own chunks of silver, I ask if it would save us money if we used our own silver. He said it would be cheaper to just buy a band for $50 each. Really?!? I know that the wax molds they use for bands are very easy to carve and wouldn't be all that involved. Jerry spots some cufflinks that look exactly like the disc we'd want on top of the ring and shows it to the jeweler. I think I see the dimness of his inner light bulb going off. "Can't you just engrave our initials in the center and solder it onto a band? Wouldn't that be pretty simple? How much would that cost?" I'm full of questions. The first thing he says is, "I thought you didn't want it engraved." No, we don't want the circle engraved. Maybe that light bulb I thought I saw turn on was just some gas from lunch. He does the math in his head. "With the discs and all the work and soldering, we could probably do it for as little as $100 to $150 a ring, plus the cost of the bands." Of course, he'd have to get the final cost from his son, a master craftsman with no real training, just something he took up when he was a kid sitting in the jewelry store all those hours. He brings out a carving like the proud pappa he is, showing us how skilled his son is. I start to wonder how old his kid is from the quality of his work, maybe 12? Oh, his son has far surpassed the store owner's father, who spent 50 years as a master jeweler, he tells us. Really? Since we've been planning this wedding, I think I've mastered the nonplussed look when it comes to the outrageous prices we've been quoted. I don't bat an eye, and Jerry keeps cool, as always. They do a little talking about civic clubs in the area, then we thank him and go on our merry way. When we get to the car we discuss his prices. Then we laugh. I just know if we can find some local artisan, they'd work with us, use our silver, sit down with us about the design, be reasonable. After our fun weekend was over, I get online to look for someone local - no luck. Dammit! Okay, maybe that guy's prices weren't that outrageous. Let me look on etsy.com and see what's out there. I type in "custom sterling silver ring", knowing as I type the word custom I'm in for it. Then I see her - her stuff is neat. All of the money she makes on this site goes towards rescuing animals. She even has rings with discs on top. Apparently they're used to glue on stones. And her husband does engraving. Even if he can't do our design, I think we can find an engraving store (there's one in the mall) that can. So, what's the price for these perfect rings? $14.50 each. That's right, $29 for both rings, plus shipping of $3 each for a grand total of $35. Golly, that's less than one plain band that jeweler wanted to sell us. And in the end if the engraving still isn't what we want, well then I'll just make a couple of Sculpy stones and glue them on. Wonder Twin powers, activate!!
I tried on my dress again. The informal survey I took gets the dress voted to stay long instead of being shortened, which is fine with me - no sewing! As for the remnants of the dress I was going to use with my flowers, it'll be fine without it. I purchased the last 1-7/8 yards of pink tulle my local Wal-Mart will ever carry (a grand total of $1.88). My dress is just slightly too big up top, which is really no surprise to me. Story of my life. What's a girl to do? I certainly don't want anything permanent done just to fill out a dress. For a moment I considered something I'd done for Erin one Halloween when she was the Corpse Bride. I took several of the socks who had lost their mates in a laundry disaster, rolled them up and sewed them inside the dress. It would certainly work, but I don't know how great it would look, or what kind of faces people would make when they hugged me and felt those 2 hard lumps in my dress. Recently I've been seeing pictures online of those crazy prom outfits that are being made completely of duct tape. There are really some talented designers out there. Seems like their final product probably cost more than a "real" formal outfit, though. In any case, it got me thinking about all those classy t-shirts that say "Duct Tape Fixes Everything". Really? One of the big celebrity secrets is supposed to be duct tape for an instant cleavage creator. You just put it over on one side of your chest, mash your poor breast up and over to the center as far as possible, then hold it there with the tape. Repeat for the other side. Just surf around youtube - there are some drag queens who have tutorials. I think that's great for the stage, but I'm going to be up close and personal with people and I can just imagine all of my wedding pictures needing to photoshop out that shiny silver tape so I don't look crazy. You know, like that poor girl having the best time at some formal event but her dress has slipped and you see her secret; she's pictured all over the web when you search "duct tape cleavage" or "duct tape fail". I'm going to opt for taking the dress in a bit at the sides instead. Dang, I guess I'll be sewing after all!
Back in prehistoric times there was a teenage dance show on TV (or so I'm told) called "American Bandstand". It was an hour of teens dancing, hamming it up for the camera, the latest pop idols coming on and lip synching to their newest release. All of this was hosted by a man named Dick Clark, and although he was so much older than those kids, he always seemed comfortable around them. I'm thinking he was trying not to show fear because they can smell it and he knew he'd be done for. There was a segment on that show called "Rate a Record", where they'd pull 2 especially attractive youngsters from the dance crowd and have them listen to 2 songs and decided if they liked it or not. Inevitably, if they liked it, Mr. Clark would ask them why. Their reply was almost always the same, "It has a good beat and you can dance to it." That's all the criteria they had. For Jerry and me, though, we've got just a little higher standards when it comes to selecting music for the reception. Don't get me wrong, we do want it to be danceable. But we also want every song to have meaning, either being something that played during the time we've spent together, or the lyrics say something about us, or the song reminds us of each other. We've been keeping a list in a little notebook Jerry gave me, and so far, if every song lasts about 3 minutes, we've got well over 2 hours of great music. Thankfully, Jerry's got a huge personal collection of songs and already owns most of the music we've chosen so he'll just burn a disc or 2 and we'll be ready to go. He knows so much about music (just as he does about movies, but we're not showing any at this shindig, so I won't go into that here), when I talk to him about it he's the Ann Sullivan to my Helen Keller. I love that about him.
Just a quick little update on my budget. Since black is one of the colors we're using, I thought it would be best to add a little of it as an accent in my bouquet. So, one $1.49 spool of black ribbon and $5 worth of black buttons later along with one more bag of that 77 cent wire, I created some more "button flowers", which I love. I think they look like flowers from outer space, maybe something you'd find Princess Leia carrying in her wedding to Han Solo. Okay, I feel the need to interject something at this point - I was a HUGE Star Wars geek when I was a kid, even to the point of knowing the name of the monster who lived in the trash compactor, which was Dia Noga, in case you didn't know. And was Jerry a Star Wars geek as a kid? Oh, yes he was, and that's just another of the many reasons I love this man so much! Now, back to the budget. I have been keeping track as I purchase items. I also got 3 bunches of little pink flowers for my shoes, which were 99 cents each. So, if my math is correct, and let's just assume that it is, everything including the dress, shoes, etc. comes to a grand total of $22.77 so far. The more I watch weddding shows on TV, the more I realize I'm doing very well budget-wise!!
It took me a while to decide on the wedding colors. There are so many colors I like; I guess that was my problem. Every time I'd see a cake in Tiffany blue with white accents I'd think, "Ooh, pretty!" Maybe that's just a built-in female reaction to that exact shade of blue, though. What an awesome advertising stunt, to almost have a trademark on a color, even have it named for your company, instilling in the women who see it a subconscious desire to want some diamonds and hope to look like Audrey Hepburn. I hope that advertising agent got a bonus! I'd browse around and see wedding photos online, referred to as "wedding porn" (although no nudity is involved, I don't know how it would look to your employer if you search for this phrase on a work computer), and get inspired by other couples' color choices. Red and black sure looks good with white, at least to me - it satisfies my sense of the dramatic. At first I didn't think colors were something I needed to think about right away, but really, everything else gets built around this decision - decorations, cake, flowers, bridesmaid's dresses, etc. Now, I've been watching that show on WeTV called "My Fair Wedding" starring super wedding and event planner, David Tutera. Every show starts out the same - some poor bride just 3 weeks before her wedding doesn't have anything quite ready yet, and Mr. Tutera comes in and saves her from disaster. It's pretty good to watch just for the faces he makes alone when he sees the crap these ladies want to use. I'm waiting for the one where he actually vomits. These brides do all have a theme, though, which was something I wasn't aware any wedding needed until I saw this show. For example, pirates, or swamps, or Day of the Dead (no, I'm not trying to be funny here, these are actual examples). David Tutera shows them how he can take the seed of their idea and make a fabulous wedding with only a huge buget and his good taste. Don't get me wrong, if Mr. Tutera wants to drop by unexpectedly 3 weeks before my wedding and take over after I've put a lot of thought into everything, he's more than welcome to, as long as I don't have to pay any taxes on his "gift". The more I thought about it, the more I doubted an actual theme was necessary. After all, I haven't used a theme in decorating since my "Southwestern Look" fiasco complete with cacti. I think the color combo is a good jumping off point. Now, if you've been reading these ramblings regularly you know I have a vintage formal pink dress I'm going to wear, so it only makes sense that pink is one of the colors. That's a bit bland, so I thought adding fuschia was in order, especially since it's my favorite color and even Jerry likes it. We'll round it off with accents of black and white and we're on our way. Jerry drew the line at a matching pink suit, though.
Just learned a couple of important lessons I thought I'd pass along. First, if you decide to color your hair, don't do it the day before the big event. Give it enough time to settle down a bit, because if it's not what you'd like, you'll have enough time to correct it. Secondly, and most importantly, when you go to buy your hair color, don't follow the advice of a 12-year-old Marvel Comics lover like my daughter Erin, the kid who says, "Don't get that one; it's too dark. Get this one. You used it before and it was pretty." I'll admit it. I had a coupon, and the color on the model on the box was pretty. It was close to the auburn shade I already had. And okay, I kind of glossed over the word "intense" in the color name. So, I get home and I'm putting this stuff all over the top of my hair and my older daughter Marilyn says, "Wow, that color looks like Leeloo from The 5th Element!" Of course, me of the infinite wisdom of someone who's colored her hair forever tells her, "Oh, it never looks the same when you're applying it as the final color does." It even says so on the box. And it's true. After showering and rinsing and conditioning and rinsing again my hair wasn't day glo orange. It was a very vibrant, intense red. Really, really red. Not auburn at all. On the plus side, when I stepped out of the bathroom to show my girls the final result, Erin, who just happens to be watching "X-Men" for the 33rd time says, "Ooh, it's pretty! You look just like Jean Grey!" I guess it could have been worse - she could have said Wolverine.
I'm the first to admit I'm not perfect, but that doesn't mean I don't like the illusion of appearing so. I think I've been on the lookout for the perfect foundation since I started wearing makeup. Still looking, I'm afraid. Things come to my mind immediately when I see an ad that says "Sheer Coverage". First is, "Isn't that an oxymoron?" Second is, "Why the hell would you want that? If it's sheer, then it isn't covering anything. If you don't need to cover anything, why the heck do you need foundation?" And yes, I realize it's all marketing and ad campaigns, and the FDA doesn't require cosmetic claims to be accurate. Don't even get me started on those stretch mark creams! Now, do the more expensive brands do a better job at covering or lasting longer? I don't know - like I said, I'm still on the hunt. For the longest time I used Max Factor's Pan Stick, which does a good job of covering and seems to last okay. I heard rumor that they've discontinued selling it in the US, though. Eek! Also, it smells good, and has one of those memory triggers like Play-Doh. I remember being very young and staying at my grandparents' while on vacation, and every evening when my Aunt Carolyn would come over to visit after a long day's work (hey, it must last long if she wore it all day!) she'd give me a hug and I'd smell that makeup. So, I guess part of liking that particular brand comes from the fond memories it brings back, which makes me feel good. So, theoretically I could look like complete crap in that stuff, but since I feel good putting it on I don't notice. Boy, I hope someone lets me know if that's the case! So, lately, in the last year or so, I've been getting samples from department stores so I can try out higher end stuff without forking over at least $40 for something that doesn't work. Now, I've heard it can be tricky getting some of the ladies (and the occasional man) behind the counter to be generous and give out samples. But, when I've scored some of this stuff, they give enough to use several times before running out. I think I've gotten as much as 5-7 uses out of one sample. Here's how I've found it easiest to pry some of that precious liquid (or cream) away from them. First, flattery gets you everywhere. Go up to the counter, compliment their makeup, ask what they use. Next, you'll need a reason to get more than a makeover, but be prepared to at least have some swatches of the stuff spread on your neck to get an idea of what color best matches your skin tone. I think the best plan of action is to say something like, "I have an event that will be in the morning and will need to see what this makeup looks like in that lighting. May I have a sample to try?" That way, if that part of the day has already passed by, you'll obviously have to reapply the makeup and they almost have no choice but to give you some. Smart, right? Now, the beauty of a mall is that there is usually more than one department store, and each department store usually has more than one makeup counter. Just hit as many as you feel comfortable with. Try this stuff out at home in the lighting that will be as close to your venue as possible, or even go there and see how it looks. Write down which one works best. Applying your own makeup on your wedding day will save quite a bit. Not quite sure you know what you'd like to do? While picking up foundation samples, get a free makeover. Tell them you'd like a special occasion look. If they know you're a bride to be, they'll more than likely be happy to help since you'll probably be a big shopper (what they don't know won't hurt them). If you like what you see when you get home, then take some pictures for reference later. There is the chance you won't like what you see, as several times in my lifetime I've been to have a "professional makeover" and I ended up looking sickly, wondering if the girl behind the counter was bored that day and was just experimenting, or being funny and trying to see if I'd actually like what she'd done. Once, when asked what colors I didn't like, I said, "No peaches or oranges, please" only to have those exact shades applied to my face. But that was when I was younger, and now I know to look for the person whose makeup looks good. Kinda like going to a hairdresser with a scary hair-do and expecting your hair to look fantastic. Right now I'm planning on going to see what the only man behind a makeup counter in my area can do for me - he's got fabulous eyebrows and shaves his legs (I know this because I saw him in shorts once), so I'm thinking he's a by night, and everyone knows are masters of illusion!
My hair is insane! There - I said it. Now, is it like Catch-22, I know it's crazy therefore it can't be? I don't think that's the case this time. Once upon a time I had reliable hair. I could always count on it to do the same thing every time. Even though that same thing was lying perfectly straight, at least there were no surprises. I was the only girl in high school with a bob, while everyone else had big, fluffy hair. Oh, how I wanted those bouncy curls, that luxurious body, hair that touched the ceiling of the car when I got in! I was destined for a life in the flat lane, or so I thought. At age 38, after 14 days of chemo my hair started coming out in clumps until eventually, by the end of 3 months of treatment, I was almost completely bald. As my new hair grew back, I immediately noticed something. This new hair was wavy, curly even! What the hell was I supposed to do with that?! I've never had curly hair in my life. Crap! I just let it grow, using combs and barrettes, trying to get a handle on my hair situation. Now that my hair is almost to my bra strap, I guess the weight of it all has taken out some of the curl, but it still definitely has body, and it's thicker than twice what my original hair was. There was a time when I could roll out of bed, run my fingers through my hair and look like it was brushed. Now, the breeze from the air conditioner can put knots in it. I've gotten used to it, though, and even like it, knots and all. That still doesn't mean I know how to style it well. Lately I've been putting those heat sticks in my hair and it seems to do pretty well. I'm thinking I'll do my hair like this for the wedding (I bet you were wondering when I was going to get back around to that subject), but maybe put a comb in it with one of the flowers I've made. I dunno. Jerry, he of the beautiful bald shaved head, likes my hair up. I'm going to have to practice some styles until I find something we both like, I think. Most of the stuff I see online is really elaborate or just not what I'd ever do. I mean, a side bun, really? Why not just go with Princess Leia's double bun earmuff look? Wait, that Leia the slave girl hairstyle wasn't really that bad, was it?.....
Update on the shoes. Took them out to look at them again, get an idea about how I was going to embellish them and make them fabulous. Hmm, they seemed a lot darker than I remember. Take them over to the dress - holy cow! What was I thinking?! Found such a good deal I was afraid if I waited around until I got a sample of my dress color the shoes in my size would be gone. Okay, no need to panic here. My girls like that style of drawing on tennis shoes with magic markers, could that work? No, get serious here, Jessica. Markers won't lighten up those shoes any, and doodles of hearts and flowers just isn't the look I'm going for. Anyway, these shoes aren't canvas, they're some sort of fake suede, or "fuede", if you will. Deciding I have nothing left to lose as if I ruin them I can always use them for doing yard work, I break out my acrylic paint in light pink. This time I prove my genius by holding the paint bottle next to my dress for a comparison. It's darker, yes, but not too bad. Gonna do a test area first, in case this fuede drinks paint. When that goes well, I do the entire shoe, and since I'm impatient when I'm working on a project I do what I do worst - watch paint dry. After it dried I had to test it, to see if it was going to crack and look awful. Nope, smooth moving! Got confident and added another layer of paint. Once this dried I did the "crack test" again and it was fine. The shoes are still darker than the dress, but not nearly as much as they were. I'm happy with the result. Still not done with the shoes, but now they seem well on their way. (The photo above is one before and one after the paint).
Trying to put my look together in my mind. I think my makeup should be subtle, at least my lipstick. I'd rather accent my eyes. My mouth reminds me of a story I used to hear when I worked in a pathology lab at a hospital doing transcription. Pathology is the place, in case you didn't know, where parts of the human body that are removed during surgery are sent to be analyzed. They get everything from colon polyps to legs (which brings to mind another funny story - remind me to tell it to you later). Seems the lady I replaced just couldn't ever type the correct wording. Every time one of the doctors would say "skin ellipse" she'd type "skinny lips", which is what I have - skinny lips. I'm on the hunt for a lip stain, I think. The 2 brands I already have are more like a shellac you put on with a spongy applicator and let dry, then top it with a clear gloss. I wish they didn't make my mouth feel so dry once the gloss wears off. I'd like something that actually colors the lips for a while, you know, stains them. I did some tests, and the Maybelline brand seemed to stay on pretty good, but the color I have is too dark. The other one is Hard Candy brand. The color's great - a pinkish color slightly darker than my own lips. It didn't seem to stay on as long as the Maybelline, though. It sure does smell good. So does the gloss; it's minty. If I was planning on eating some lip products, this would definitely be the one I'd choose. I think I'm going to have to keep looking.
I'm pretty thrifty, but my sister is a pro at it. She can clip coupons and find discounts until she walks away from the grocery store with them paying HER. This is a picture of my sister and me when I was about 7, I guess, making her 3. I'm concentrating on blowing the perfect bubble, but she's making a face, probably because Mom paid full price for those bubbles. She's still cute. As soon as I get some more concrete ideas about things I'd like to have for the wedding, I'll ask her if she'd be kind enough to lend her expertise. She knows all the best discount places, both online and out in the brick and mortar world, but I don't want to waste her time until I've got great ideas. I helped with her wedding. I even sewed her dress, which was beautiful, with a red train and strands of large pearls across an open back. Very unique and totally her. That was also the time my Mom and I learned that if you put pretty fondant roses in a shoebox and put them in an un-airconditioned car trunk in May for a 2 hour car ride to Florida, they will turn to puddles. Okay, I'm crossing fondant roses off my list just to be safe.