I Like Big Butts!

My step-dad flows from one hobby to the next. Somehow an idea grabs him and he really throws himself in whole-heartedly. He's owned a sailboat, a motorcycle, played chess relentlessly and had even taken up barbecuing, going so far as entering competitions and buying a little trailer and going into the BBQ business. When he was trying to come up with a name, I had a stroke of genius and suggested he name it Pork Pi because he's a math professor, and he did. Now he's on to golf, but it's the barbecuing that's still got me interested. He retired from barbecuing last winter when the staying up all night with the smoker and standing all day in that trailer every weekend on top of his regular full time job started getting to him. He was very successful and people loved his barbecue. They still call the house asking for it. Marilyn even had her first (and so far only) job there. He smoked chickens, sausages, ribs, brisket, occasionally bologna (which was a big hit) and Boston butts. I have to say, although everything was really good, the butts were my favorite. I think I'm going to ask him to smoke a couple for the reception, and if he'd like to clear those ribs out of the deep freeze he's welcome to throw them in the smoker as well. Of course, that'll mean we'll need coleslaw and buns as well as sauce, but I think that can be managed. I don't know how you eat your BBQ sandwiches, but I grew up putting slaw right on top of the meat. I think it might be another one of those laws that states people from Memphis have to eat their BBQ this way. It's delicious nevertheless, and if you haven't tried it you should do it at least once unless you're allergic to cabbage, as that could end badly. And don't worry if you're not partial to barbecue, we'll have plenty of other stuff you can eat instead. Plus, that just leaves more for Jerry and me, and he loves butts as much as I do!


Ever Have One of Those Days?

Woke up to another day of "no work available". I do transcription, and fall is usually a busy time for hospitals. I guess people like getting their surgeries done after summer's over but before the holiday rush. Work does pick up in the afternoons, after I've been sitting here waiting and just becoming exhausted. I was so tired yesterday after my 8 hour shift. You may wonder how someone can become tired just sitting, but this kind of work is mentally draining. Took Erin to the thrift store yesterday to find a cowboy shirt for Cowboys and Indians Day at school. Shouldn't they have called it Cowboys and Native Americans Day? She ended up not even wearing the shirt we found (which ticked me off - guess we can re-donate it to charity). And don't forget the mandatory stop at Wal-Mart for milk (and a bandanna, of course). Then Mom wanted me to help her crop a picture and write a blurb about it for some club news she had to submit to the newspaper. If it's like this tomorrow, after the girls have gone to school I am going back to bed. I'm going to try to look at this no work thing in a positive light - at least it gives me time to log on here and write a bit. Jerry and I were talking yesterday about nothing in particular, just talking. Then I told him I was looking at wedding invitation styles online. Sometimes I feel like I may be thinking about it too much, and I get kind of embarrassed to bring it up to him, thinking he'll think I'm obsessing. Really, though, a lot of thought and planning goes into something like this and I'd hate to forget anything (which takes me back to the reason I like lists). Jerry has never rolled his eyes, though; he even says he loves that I'm thinking about it, and he thinks about it, too. He told me he was looking at wedding favors. He's come up with a great idea for a personalized favor that we can make. I'm excited about getting started on them. Not gonna tell you what they are, though, because if you're a guest and reading this I think you should be surprised. If you're not a guest, well then, I'll post pictures of everything after the event. Jerry's always been so clever and creative. I would have never thought of what he's come up with in a million years, and it's just perfect. I even have part of the needed supplies already, so that'll save us some money. Yay! At least the day wasn't a total wash.


Talk to me, baby.

That's one of the best things I could ever hear. Jerry says it to me when I tell him I'm having a bad day, or something's stressing me out, or I need to make a decision. Just hearing him say that lets me know he's interested in what's going on with me. I love it! Yesterday, for example, was not a stellar day. I wrote my blog in the morning and that was just the beginning of things not going well. I think trying to function without much sleep only makes matters worse. Poor Erin and her science cake - I made it the way I do every time I make a cake. I'm not bragging, but I've never had a cake fall apart on me. This one did, though. It stuck to the pan although I had prepped it so it wouldn't. Chunks of cake stayed on the wax paper liner, which also stuck to the pan. I never would have believed it if I hadn't seen it. Hopefully the cake, glued together with frosting, will make to to school with the 2 bus rides, kids who shove and push, and one bus driver who likes to stomp on the brakes and make the kids pop up out of their seats. On top of that, I ended up finishing work at 8:30 last night. Not good. Even though I had a rough day, just having Jerry say, "Talk to me, baby," made it seem like the air had been let out of my stress balloon. I'm very lucky to have him back in my life. He always tells me he doesn't want me to worry or be stressed. I even learned something from that cake fiasco - I'm sure as hell not making our wedding cake!


It's raining, it's pouring.

The old man is snoring, supposedly. Frankly, I don't know how he could have slept with all the thunder and lightning going on around here last night. I actually went to bed at a decent hour, thinking I'd be well rested when the morning rolled around. That's a dream that hardly ever comes true, though. I usually wake up aching for just another hour of sleep. Last night I was awoken by the loud crash of thunder. It just rumbled on and on, like my stomach when I'm really hungry. I figured it was almost time to wake up anyway, so I crack open one eye to check the time on the clock - 1:30?! Seriously? Oh, no. I try to look on the bright side. At least we're finally getting some much needed rain. Maybe everyone's heads will stop hurting with all the pollen and sinus pressure. When did I finally fall back to sleep? I last looked at the clock around 5:45, but I must have fallen asleep because the alarm woke me up 15 minutes later. Now it's up and at 'em for a Monday morning, and Erin's been afraid that it isn't really Wacky Tacky Day at school, and she'll be the only one dressed in 2 different shoes, funky Halloween socks, and plaid leggings under some rolled up shorts topped off by a fountain of a ponytail sprouting from the top of her head. She probably will be anyway, but hopefully other kids will have some other sort of odd style of dress on today. I made the mistake last night of saying, "When I was a kid and we had these sorts of dress up days, I always wondered if I got the date right before I went to school." There's no worse type of death than dying from embarrassment when you're 12 years old. Erin went around stressing for about an hour and then said, "If it isn't Wacky Tacky Day, too bad. I'm dressing like this anyway. If they say I'm too distracting I'll just get sent home." I told her I'd bring her a new outfit if they called. She actually stopped worrying and got her ensemble together. Last night we baked a cake to take to school. All the 7th graders have to make a cell model, and apparently cake is the way to go. No Styrofoam for this group. Today we're going to decorate it with fruit roll-ups to make it look like it has a nucleus and such. And to top it off, there's no work available for me to do right now, so that means it's Monday and I'm already behind. In my job, work comes in over the computer, but sometimes there's a glitch or it's a slow day (usually the former) and I have to wait. Since I'm full time, I still have to do 8 hours of work a day, so this pushes everything back. I hate when I have work days like this. I can definitely tell it's Monday. Maybe I should go back to bed - it's stopped raining.


Nothing's engraved in stone - we don't have the right attachment.

Jerry and I hit the mall this weekend, just to do a little browsing. We've gotten the rings ordered and have decided to have a professional engraver put our initials on them. We walked into the store that does that. I believe it was called, "Here, Lemme Carve Some Letters in That for Y'all" or something along those lines. Nobody was in the store, but as we passed the lasers the bell went off and a heavy-set older lady dressed in bright pink came out from the secret room in the back. We asked the lady how they did their engraving. She gives us this blank look like we were asking her if she knew how to diffuse a bomb, so I had to ask if someone had a little hand held instrument and carved out the engraving by hand. "No, we put it into a computer and send it off and then they send it back to us. It's all done by computer, whatever you want." Great - we were concerned it was gonna look like somebody had the shakes did it and have it end up looking completely crappy, but if it's all computerized it'll be just right. Then she asks us what we want. I describe it to her, tell it that it will be carved on the top of a flat disc, and she says, "Oh, we can't do that." So, all that talk about 'whatever you want' is a code for 'whatever we want'. Then she says, "We don't have the attachment to do rings, so we couldn't do it." Attachment? You'll be carving on a flat surface, a disc, remember? I talk with my hands, so I figured my visual was enough. We thanked her and left, discussing among ourselves how confused that lady was, or maybe just lazy. Did we disturb her nap when we entered the shop? I think plan B will involve taking one of the actual rings into the store and asking if the engraving can be done on that. Hopefully someone else will be working there when we do it, but if not perhaps the visual aide will be of some assistance. Otherwise, we'll just keep looking for someone who can do the job and wants to do it.

On a brighter note, Mom gave me a $10 coupon good for anything at Kohl's. I usually don't shop there, but decided I could probably find something for my sister for her birthday and Christmas since it's a store she adores. Jerry and I browse for a while. They're having a really good sale - up to 80% off. I can't stand when a store puts up a sign with one of my favorite words, "Clearance", and the items are only 30% off. That's not clearance, that's a slight markdown. I meander over the the jewelry section, because Jill has asked for something specific. They have quite a bit to choose from and I find some things I'd wear myself (please note, if you get a gift from me and it isn't something you've specifically asked for, like Erin's Batman Converse she wants for Christmas, you'll most likely get something I also like. If you don't care for it, just give it back to me and I won't be insulted at all. To me, that's the best way to re-gift). We wait in the checkout line, and when it's my turn she rings me up, takes my coupon, then tells me, "That'll be 44 cents, please. You've saved $51.61 today by shopping at Kohl's." Heck, yes - at 44 cents total, I've spent 22 cents each for a birthday and a Christmas present for my sister! She'd be so proud. I don't think Jerry's ever seen anything like it. Of course, this morning Mom tells me she's got a 30% off card for Kohl's that she'll let me have. Dang, if I'd had that, Kohl's would have been paying me for my sister's gifts.


"Head Over Heels"

That's the title of a Go-Go's song, so that's why it's in quotation marks. It's also the way Jerry makes me feel, in a wonderfully good way. Even before I actually met Jerry, I felt as if I had known him. How is that even possible, you ask? Or, maybe you don't. Gonna tell you anyway. When I was 16, I went to a Go-Go's concert with a neighbor girl - not a huge outdoor event or some mega arena, but a good sized concert, I guess. There were hundreds of people there. I suddenly felt the need to turn around and look up at the balcony section. Nobody was sitting up there - everyone was down on the floor. It was as if someone unseen grabbed my shoulders and turned me around to face in the opposite direction. I saw a man in a black coat wearing a beret walking alone in the balcony section from the right to the left. I can still call up this memory at will, after all these years. He wasn't doing anything special, just walking, but when I saw him I heard a bell go off. This "ding" was as real as any music I heard that night. I was torn between the almost irresistible urge to go find him and talk to him and stay where I was. What would I say to him if I saw him, anyway, "Hi, I heard a bell go off and the universe compelled me to come talk to you"? Besides, I never dated anyone or even really talked to guys unless it was about homework. He walked out of sight, I turned back around and snapped out of my trance. I didn't really think too much about hearing that bell afterwards. Seven months later I was having a string of rather incredible luck. I had won a call-in contest and won a Prince album - Purple Rain. I thought that was a pretty good get. That put my name in a drawing for the big prize of 2 tickets to see Prince in concert. Out of the hundred or so people who won an album, my name was drawn! Woo, hoo, I was going to go see Prince - as soon as I could talk one of my parents into going with me. Remember, I was 16. Mom took the day off work (and let me skip school) and we went up to the radio station for the long ride to Tallahassee (it was an all-inclusive trip). We're sitting in the lobby (me, mom, and the other winner and his guest), waiting for the DJ who was going to drive us all down to Tallahassee. Suddenly the door flies open and this guy full of energy bounds inside, stopping to say hello to the receptionist before turning to greet everyone else. That bell went off again! I know this sounds corny, and silly, and like fluff from a romance novel or movie, but I truly knew right then and there that this was the man I was meant to be with for the rest of my life. I had forgotten all about the previous ringing bell 7 months earlier. As a matter of fact, it wasn't until just last year when I told Jerry about it. He knew my story about the bell going off at the radio station; I'd told him enough. Suddenly that memory of the guy walking across the balcony popped into my head and I said, "Did you ever go to a Go-Go's concert?" He said he did and remembered it well. He had been all alone, just walking around. I asked him what he was wearing, if he'd even remember that. He said he was the only guy in town who wore a beret back then. I told him I believed I had seen him that night, and the bell had gone off then, too. He then told me had a photo he'd taken of himself that night before going to the concert. He pulled out a photo album and showed me the man I saw walking across the balcony. I burst into tears, which is not something I'm prone to do. These weren't tears of sadness, though, they were tears of joy. I've become a firm believer in fate, destiny, and kismet. Why am I telling you this story now? Because this weekend is the 26th anniversary of the date the universe introduced me to the man I have always loved.


I feel like Santa Claus.

Not because I'm generous, or look good in a red suit, or make children paranoid about being watched all the time. Wait, no, that is something I do. I have been known to walk by children in stores who are throwing fits, screaming and having their Veruca Salt "give it to me now" spoiled brat little tantrum and say, "Santa's watching you". I'm not going to tell you that my girls were perfect when they were little, but they were pretty darn close. I solved the issue of them feeling like they needed instant gratification by explaining they only get presents on special days, and if there was something they really liked, we'd put it on a wish list. By the time Erin was 3, she could browse the shelves of the toy stores and say, "Check this on my list". Her list would get pretty long by the time Christmas would roll around, and she certainly didn't get everything she asked for, but by that time she'd have moved on from wanting everything. Coincidentally, she also became a more savvy shopper. Even when very small, if she received cash for a birthday present she'd pull something down from a shelf she thought she'd like and look over the back of the packaging to see what came with the toy and hold on to it as she continued to look. If something better came along, the first item would go back, but if not she'd be ready to buy it. She'd also check her budget to make sure she had enough money for the item she wanted. If not, she'd again say, "Check it on my list". She still shops like that today, not making rash decisions but weighing her options. The reason I'm like Santa is because I make lists. I've even been known to check them twice. I use them for everything. Post-It Notes are the best! I've got my grocery list, my list of things I need to do on my day off, movies Jerry and I are going to watch; it just goes on and on. I've also got lists for wedding ideas - guests, music, venues, possible honeymoon places, and even a list of potential topics for this blog (which I've almost finished, so any ideas would be appreciated). It's safely established, then, that I like lists. I wonder why I have a problem printing out and using one of the to-do lists that are posted for all brides-to-be on every wedding website. I've thought about it a long time, and I've come to the conclusion that it's several things. First, I don't like doing what other people tell me to do. I come from a long line of stubborn people. Ask me to do something, I'm more than happy to; tell me to do it, fuggetaboudit! Let's blame genetics here. Secondly, I don't want to use someone else's list. I've been making them for years and feel quite capable. It seems kinda gross, like using someone else's toothbrush. Perhaps I'll just gloss over several of them and see if I've missed anything that I can add them to my list, because if I make a list gathered from several other places, won't that make it my list?


Do me a favor...

Just started thinking about wedding favors. Never really thought about them before. Of the few weddings I've been to, I've never received any. You know what they are, right? I had to check into it as I wasn't completely sure, and when I asked Jerry, it was news to him, too. Wedding favors are little gifts you give to all of your guests to thank them for attending your wedding. It's just like party bags that are given out at children's birthday parties. New to that idea, too? I was until I had kids and Marilyn went to her first party. She left with a little plastic bag filled with pencils, erasers, candies, gum and little toys. So, in addition to feeding a room full of wild children, you had to give them all gifts, even though it was your kid's party and they were the ones supposed to be getting all the loot. I'm wondering if that doesn't stem from the same place where that group of people thought that all children should feel special all of the time. You know, don't give them a bad grade or write on their paper with red ink or you might upset them. Because, Heaven knows, there's no disappointment in the real world. Sheesh! I personally think this makes them totally unprepared for life. I believe it was said in the movie The Incredibles, "If everyone is special, then nobody is special." I make sure I let my girls know when they whine, "That's not fair!" that it's true, but life isn't fair. Now, I'm not using this as an excuse not to give out wedding favors; I just got sidetracked. But what to give? I truly have no idea. We could get those bags of M&M's printed up with our picture and wedding date, but who wants to eat our faces? And really, is a memento of our wedding something everyone is going to want to keep forever, like another knick knack on a shelf? It's nice to think so, but probably not. We'll have photographs for that. Maybe the traditional wedding candy, Jordan almonds, would be a good choice. I think they're delicious. Hopefully no guests have a nut allergy or teeth that chip easily. Some people give beautiful soaps as favors. Not everyone likes the same scents, though. And there's always going to be someone like a certain relative of mine who, although she loves soaps and perfumes and lotions, if you buy them for her she'll say, "What are you trying to say - do I stink?" Chocolates - again with potential allergies, although I would imagine a chocolate allergy is a fate worse than death. Trying to get more ideas, I googled "cheap wedding favors" (after all, if you're buying one thing for each guest, the cost is gonna add up quickly). Apparently it's a popular search, because there are tons of websites that cater to those less-than-extravagant brides. Looks like most of the stuff that costs less than $1 each are really favor boxes, though, so you'll still have to add your own treats. Guess I'll head back to the Dollar Tree again and see what they've got; maybe I'll get some good ideas. Now, as a wedding guest reading this you may be thinking you're not going to get a good gift. But really, isn't spending time with family and friends, eating good food and seeing 2 people who really love each other get married the best gift imaginable? Anything on top of all that should just be considered a bonus gift, and I think that's pretty fair.


And To Top It All Off...

Now that I've got a general direction I want to take the cake in (store bought unless an angel volunteers to make it for us), I've turned my mind to other things - cake toppers! There's such a vast array out there of really unique items to put on the top of the cake. I've seen love birds (that would have been cute for my mom - their last name is Byrd), fish, dolphins, dogs, all sorts of animals, really. Then there's the steam punk style with little robots which I really love, but just didn't go in that direction or pick that as a theme. Oh, and little ones for Halloween weddings like zombies, vampires, and ghosts. Yes, Jerry and I do love Halloween, and I think that having a Halloween wedding is so neat, but some guests would be less than enthusiastic if they were asked to dress up in a costume. It's going to be hard enough to get some people to come at all, but to make them get a costume and wear it is another thing entirely. I think it'd go over as well as emailing out a dance video and requiring all guests to learn it so everyone can do "Thriller" and post it on YouTube. Hey, if you are planning a Halloween wedding, you can use that idea free of charge! Anyway, my last stroll through Wal-Mart took me past the wedding aisle. Honestly, this time I wasn't looking for wedding stuff. I'm on the hunt for 2 large lime green t-shirts to make Marilyn a Gir (from the cartoon "Invader Zim" - look him up if you haven't seen it, he's cute) Halloween costume. It's harder to find lime green t-shirts than you'd imagine. Cutting across the store to the fabric section, Erin and I head down the aisle with all the wedding stuff. She looks up at their selection of cake toppers and sees a dismal selection with 2 separate looks of the bride dragging the groom to the altar, like it's the last place he wants to be. She, in her 12-year-old's wisdom, says, "Why would you put that on your cake? It looks like you were desperate, like he didn't really want to marry you but you are making him." Hey, that's what I thought! If someone doesn't want to be with you, then why the hell do you want to spend the rest of your life with them? I'm no psychologist, but that sounds crazy. Jerry found a picture online of a topper a while back which was a bride wrapped around the groom in a passionate kiss. It is really cute, but there's just one problem - none of these pre-made cake toppers look anything like us. Well, they're Caucasian, but that's about it. I wonder what the odds are of running across something that's mass produced that just happens to look like a woman with crazy red hair and a man who shaves his head, not to mention my pink dress. Looks like it's back to my favorite expensive word - "custom". All that really means this time, though, is I need to get creative. I've got a whole lot of Sculpey here because Erin sometimes like to make things like the world's smallest strawberries or tiny Harry Potter characters that aren't even 2 inches tall. They're very cute, but too tiny for a wedding cake topper. I've been working with this Sculpey for a little while, trying to see what I can do. So far I've made a passable human shaped character. I think a little more practice and I'll be ready to work on the final characters. I've seen the custom made cake toppers where the artist makes little figures that look enough like the bride and groom that you know who it's supposed to be, but starting at around $150, that's a little more than I want to pay. Okay, that's a lot more than I want to pay. I understand it's hours of work and is really cute and is something you can keep forever, but more important than that is I'm cheap! This is a project I can work on during free time little by little without worrying if it's going to dry on me before I finish. That's the good thing about Sculpey; it doesn't harden until you bake it, so you can just start mashing a part of it up if you don't like something and start all over without ruining the whole project. And here's a handy tip you won't find on the back of the box. Try not to drop it on the carpet - it's almost impossible to get the fuzz out! When I get the Jerry and Jessica cake topper done I'll post a picture here, and you can bet it won't be a Jessica dragging a Jerry by the leg as he's kicking and screaming, digging his nails into the cake trying to get away. How romantic!


Nice to almost meet you!

If you scroll down my page here, you'll notice a yellow number in a black box. That's a counter, that keeps track of how many times my blog has been viewed. Not a ton of visits, but not too shabby for only having 2 followers. The neat thing about that counter, though, is that it's attached to a link where I can go and see how many different visitors I get each day, and what part of the world they're in. It's fascinating! For instance, the other day 3 different schools hit my blog - one in Alaska, one in Chicago and one in Reno. I don't know what these kids were looking for, but if you're still in school please don't be planning your wedding yet - and don't roll your eyes at me! If you're starting to feel paranoid, don't worry about that. Although I can see what state you're in and the general vicinity, I can't see who you are or where your house is, so feel free to keep stopping by and read my blatherings. I won't even mind a comment, so long as it's nice. I'm trying to be a little more consistent with my postings now than in the beginning. I guess, like most things, this takes a little getting used to. Here's something I'm pretty curious about in regards to people who've read this. People have stopped by from all over the world - Canada, the Netherlands, Russia, Mexico, Germany, the UK, Hungary and Australia. It's so awesome! I know it's because things like weddings and saving money are universal ideas. I wonder, though, does my odd sense of humor translate? Oh, yes, one more thing. I've had someone stop by who lives in Turks and Caicos. If you happen to stop back by, please seriously consider trading letting us stay at your place for a honeymoon in exchange for some original artwork!


A reminder now so you can remember again later.

I had never heard of save-the-date cards until recently. Well, within the last couple of years, anyway. In case you were in the same dark wedding cave I was, they are little notices telling your friends not to plan to do anything else on the date you've selected 6 months or so down the road as you've reserved that for your wedding day. I can't imagine I know too many people who plan things that far in advance, unless it's a wedding. Nobody I can think of is that organized. I try, really I do. I've got post-it notes all over the place reminding me to do things. Now, if I could just organize where I put these notes so I can remember to do all of these things I'll be in great shape. Of course, even when my notes are in plain sight, if they've been there a while I start to forget they're even there. They become part of my desk's landscape and I just ignore them. I still can't decide if save the date cards are part of the big scheme of sucking as much money out of a bride as possible by the big wedding machine out there, or if they're actually a pretty good idea. I'm leaning towards the good idea side, mainly because there are so many different save-the-date styles out there and I like them in general. Obviously, I'm not going to have someone create our cards from scratch, billing me for their time and artistic talents. These reminders can cost at least $1 a piece, and although that may not sound like a lot, multiply that times the amount of people you're inviting, not to mention the cost of your actual invitations and RSVP cards and it adds up quickly. I know a bit about graphic design, having worked at a small town newspaper that liked to hire women using the theory that we work cheaper than men and would do more work. I learned all sorts of stuff there - how to run an outdated folding machine, how to stuff flyers in papers, how to keep a perfect balance between cutting off customers who haven't paid their bills in forever without making the subscription numbers drop and look like nobody was reading the paper, laying out the articles for printing, and even graphic design. On top of all that at the low, low pay of $5.50 an hour, I learned an important life skill. When you work in close proximity with a person who's probably certifiably insane (in this case a bitter divorcee who couldn't let go of the fact that her ex had moved on and talked about it non-stop, "I don't care what that judge says and if he's remarried - we're still married in God's eyes!") the best thing to do is nod your head in agreement, no matter what the hell they're talking about. Aside from my mad skills doing graphic layout, Jerry's even more talented than I am. He can place you in any scene in the world (so don't be surprised if you see some honeymoon photos of us in Paris, London, Tahiti and the moon) and make it look as if you're really there. And he can make us look fantastic while there, too! My point is, making save-the-date cards will surely be less expensive than ordering them. Every time I see one I like, I'll forward a picture to Jerry and say, "I like this one, but I liked the other one better," and ask for his opinion. I think we're in agreement as to what we'd like them to look like. I won't post them here until they're completed, though. I'll give you just a little hint, though - they're lighthearted and suit our personalities! If you aren't quite so lucky as to be as gifted and talented as Jerry and I, there are still ways to go about saving money on your cards. Maybe you have a very talented friend. I actually considered asking one of Jerry's friends who is an animator to draw caricatures of us to use in the save-the-date cards and even on the invitations. I thought we'd ask for it as his wedding gift, but then we decided against it. What if he worked hard one something for us and it just wasn't what we wanted? Would we feel pressured to use it anyway? Another way around much of the cost is downloading some templates to your home computer and working with those to create a card style. I did a search for free wedding invitation templates and tons of sites came up. Be warned, though, some do want you to sign up for their site first, but not all do. A lot of times when I go to Michael's craft store, I head straight to the back where the clearance section is and can almost always find some blank invitations with envelopes marked down. I've even seen them in the clearance section of T. J. Maxx. At one point I thought it'd be really romantic to make my own paper and put flowers in it, but it turned out that the paper wasn't as strong as I would have liked it to be. Who wants to pull an invitation out of an envelope, only to have it crumble in their hands? Another thing to remember is, postage costs less if you're sending a postcard than something in an envelope, so maybe a postcard style is the way to go. Or, skip the paper route altogether and make a save-the-date video like this one!


If you have your cake but don't eat it, too, just what the heck are you planning on doing with it, exactly?

I know we're planning a far from traditional wedding, from the pink dress to the button flowers to the non-church venue. I'd even like Jerry's grand nephew, Coy, to be the ring bearer and wear his Spiderman costume (although a Batman costume would be better because it would coordinate with our color scheme). But, for some reason, I really do want a nice, pretty wedding cake. And I can't really explain it, except that I like them and that's what I want to have. I didn't even really know I had my heart set on it, either, until Jerry sent me some pictures of some non-traditional cakes. These were made from stacks of chocolate Ding Dongs into the shape of a multi tiered cake. Other "cakes" were made from Twinkies. I guess it's save on the cutting slices for people as it's already in serving sizes, but ease of preparation isn't enough to sway me. And if that wasn't enough, my mother unwittingly got into the act by showing me the "cake" from a friend's wedding. It was stacks of powdered donuts. No, seriously, it was. I need to think of a way to get the cake I want without spending more than I want. I don't know anyone whose hobby is making awesome wedding cakes, I don't think. Maybe a little networking will be in order once the date gets closer. I've tried working with fondant before, and it was a bit stressful. However, since then (which was over 10 years ago), I have watched dozens of TV shows about fantastic cake makers. I've picked up quite a few tips. There are even videos on youtube that give instructions. Still, do I want to take on such a daunting task as making a huge cake days before a wedding? Maybe Jerry'd be up to helping, and we could make it a fun project. I think those cakes that look like they're slanted look so neat, and if we mess up nobody'd notice. At least we both know we like chocolate cake, so that's a starting point. On the bright side, we'd get to eat our mistakes!


Hey, kid! Stop singing "Rain, Rain, Go Away" - I think it's working!

I've had a headache now for 3 days straight. I hate it. You may even know the kind I'm talking about. It's frontal and sits behind your eyes and tries to push them out of your skull. The only thing that's going to make it better is a bit of rainfall to change the pressure both outside and in my head. Pills aren't helping, not even the old reliable fallback - orange flavored Goody's Powder and a can of Coke. That takes care of it for just a bit, but then my head is right back to painin'. I wanted to be a lot of things when I grew up, but a barometer wasn't one of them. I hope this won't happen on our wedding day. Not the rain, I mean, but the headache. Weather's a big reason I don't want to hold the wedding outside. Sure, it's beautiful - I've seen pictures of people who've done it successfully. But I'm a big believer in better safe than sorry. By May it'll be pretty warm outside, and then there's always the chance of rain. Oh, and don't forget the gnats! How horrible! And do you really want to make the people you love sit outside on hot folding chairs while you get married when then can just as easily be sitting inside on folding chairs under the A/C? And, have you ever seen the America's Funniest Home Videos wedding clips? You'd be an idiot to hold a ceremony outside, what with all the random attacks from swans and dogs that happen, not to mention well-wishing strangers who drive by and honk during the vows. That is one headache I can actually avoid.


If it's fit for a king, it should be good enough for the likes of us!

Jerry took some wonderful photos when he went out to the venue we want to use last week. His friend Jerome works there Saturday nights as an Elvis impersonator. Oh, wait, I mean Elvis tribute artist. I don't want to be offensive. I think that's what they want to be called now. He's really good, too. Being a person who was born in Memphis and has most of her relatives still living in the vicinity, I feel this is the time for me to share my Elvis stories. I think it's some kind of law. They aren't impressive, but they're true. My granddaddy lost his job during the McCarthy era due to a coworker seeing him at lunch listening to someone standing on the street corner preaching about how communism is the way to go. Here's something you should know about my granddaddy - he was a pretty nosey guy. Conversation going on? He'll wanna hear it. So, commie or not, the blabbermouth who told on him got him fired from his good paying job. And why didn't the guy who told his boss about it get fired, too? How would he have known what the speechmaker was talking about unless he stopped to listen himself? It's kinda like chastizing someone for seeing them in a whorehouse, when the only way you know they were in there was you being in there yourself. At any rate, my grandfather took a job selling insurance to poor folks, and this took him all over Memphis. One of his clients was Vernon Presley, Elvis' dad. Second true Elvis association story - one of my mother's female cousins was asked to go over to Elvis' house back in the days before Priscilla and all, when he had lots of young girls hanging around. Now, most of you know that Elvis had certain standards for girls - they had to have clean fingernails and wear white panties. Needless to say, mom's cousin only went over there once and was never asked back. I'm hoping her nails were clean but she had on black drawers. The last and best story is about mom's cousin Paul Glaze. He and Elvis went to high school together, and one day Paul saved him from a bully. They became fast friends after that and hung out together. When Elvis started to get popular, he and Paul would sit around a diner and sign autographs on Elvis' photos. That's right, get yours authenticated, or you could have an original Paul Glaze autograph on an Elvis picture! Sadly, Paul has since passed away. He and I used to email each other quite a bit. He told me how my great grandfather Hutchison had telekinesis, but I won't go into that story right now as I don't want to be thought of as totally insane.

Back to the venue. The place seems bigger than I remember, but that's good. I'd rather the place be too big than too small. I saw a whole lot of folding chairs, and quite a few tables, 10 at least, I think. The tables were covered with blue and white checkerboard tablecloths. Crap, why didn't I go with the blue I originally wanted? Oh, well, it isn't that shade of blue, anyway. So, looks like tablecloths are on my to-buy list. Dollar Tree here I come! We went there a while back and I saw that they had so many party favors. I was really impressed. I remember paper plates, cups, streamers and cutlery in all sorts of colors. Looks like that's where I'm going to pick up our dinnerware for the reception. I'll have to go back to see if they have tablecloths, but I'd think they would. They even have a wedding section. Last time I picked up 4 packs of rose petals in pink and white to scatter over the tables at $1 each. That same day I did some pricing and a smaller box of petals at the old standby Wal-Mart were over $5, so I got all of mine for less than 1 box there! I doubt I'll find chair covers, but I'm not planning to cover the chairs, anyway. What a cruel trick to disguise a folding chair as a comfortable, supportive piece of furniture, only to be jarred into the reality of hard metal when sitting down. The venue is kinda rustic anyway, so the chairs can looks rustic as long as they aren't rusted. I think the next step is pinning down a date so we can reserve this place before it's booked up!


I Know You Are, But What Am I?

When I was a kid, I lived for the opportunity to crack a joke. If another kid opened themselves up for a zinger, well so be it. A classic is the old, "What's that smell?" Of course, you know what comes next - "It's your upper lip!" I never knew exactly what that meant, except that maybe it ran along the same lines as "whoever smelt it dealt it". There were even little songs you could sing to someone who was messing with you. I feel it's important to pass on traditions, so I taught my girls a few gems from my childhood spent traveling the globe in the not-at-all glamorous way only the military can provide. You may not have even ever heard them before, so I think it's important to put them here, so as to document them and save them for posterity.

This is one you say after you point to something nonexistent and the sucker actually turns their head. "I made you look, you dirty crook. You stole my mother's pocketbook. And with a dime you bought a lime, and now you look like Frankenstein."

Use this gem when you get into one of those "so" arguments. You know, like someone tells you about one of your flaws and you say so, then they say so. After the word so is thrown about several times, just use this. "So, so, suck your toe. All the way to Mexico. While you're there, hug a bear. Don't forget your underwear!" How can they possibly have a comeback for that one?

And lastly, the final answer to the yo momma joke. "Yo momma, yo daddy, yo greasy, greasy granny with a hole in her panties who goes beep, beep, beep down Sesame Street". Okay, that doesn't make much sense but it may stun them enough to stop the teasing.

What the heck could this possibly have to do with an adult woman talking about wedding stuff? You'd be surprised! There are actually some truths to some of these childhood sayings. This summer my Mom wanted to go shopping, so all the girls (meaning Mom, Marilyn, Erin and me) got in the car and went to the big 2-story mall in Tallahassee. Mom was in a makeup mood (maybe this stuff is genetic). We go over to the Bobbi Brown makeup counter and try some foundation. I start talking to makeup artist about how pale I am, but my daughter is even paler - meaning Marilyn. I even point right to her, but she keeps on pointing at Erin, saying she isn't too pale. My ego just takes that as a compliment that she can't believe I'm old enough to have a child as grown as Marilyn. Mom treats us to some makeup, and as a gift I receive some tinted moisturizer. This weekend I decided I'd try the moisturizer instead of my regular foundation and put some on. That Saturday I took the girls to Wal-Mart. I know, we go there a lot. I had to get Marilyn's prescription. While standing in line for the pills, I notice something. For some reason my Gwen Stefani G perfume has it's sweet coconutty smell, but with a slight musk to it. Urg, it's bothering me! Is it someone else in line? No, because I smell it later when I get home and we're eating lunch. What happened to my perfume - did my body's chemical balance suddenly get thrown off? I can't stand this new smell. I ask Jerry to smell my neck, but he says it still smells good to him. He's so sweet. I don't think he'd tell me I was stinky even if I had just wrestled a skunk. The smell starts bothering me so much I contemplate taking another shower to get the perfume off, since just splashing it with water and rubbing it with a towel didn't seem to touch it. Jerry asks me again if I'm sure it's my perfume. Well, of course it is. What else could it possibly be? I make a silly face when he asked, pursing my lips together. Then I inhaled. Oh, there it is, that smell! Hey, could it be my tinted moisturizer, I ask. Jerry, who always listens to me when I ramble on about silly things, says, "But didn't you wear it yesterday?" He was right, I did. I'm confused because I didn't notice the smell yesterday. How could that have been possible? I rubbed my finger roughly underneath my nose, and sure enough, the smell has lessened. The lightbulb goes off - I didn't smell it yesterday because I had also powdered my face! I dash to the bathroom and apply some powder and suddenly the offending odor has vanished. I came back laughing, telling Jerry that the old joke could be true. Next time I ask what that smell is, I may just purse my lips to see if it isn't my upper lip!


A Bridesmaid's Dress Doesn't Have to Look Like a Nightmare

Marilyn has this chronic medical condition that occasionally keeps her out of school due to pain. She's grown tired of having to deal with it all the time so since she was out of school with pain again this Thursday, I decided we shouldn't wait another week for a scheduled appointment I'd made but go ahead and run to the doctor right then instead. Luckily, my supervisor is pretty flexible if it's an emergency, so we drove the hour it takes to get to a place where they actually like taking patients and seeing them (unlike this crazy place we live where doctors don't want any new patients. It's refreshing to see that some people actually do have enough money that they don't need any more work. I didn't think it was possible in this greed-driven society). Marilyn and I head out and find ourselves 30 minutes early for the appointment by the time we get near the hospital. So, like anyone would, we decide we have plenty of time to dash into a nearby bridal shop and look at the dresses they have on clearance in the back room for $10 each. This was the same store Jerry and I had gone into the week previously. I just wasn't sure about anything they had, but there was one really cute dress I thought suited Erin, but I remembered the price tag stating $88. You should know that one of my skills is the ability to pick out the most expensive item out of a group of items without seeing any price tags. I thought if I rechecked, maybe that price was wrong. Entering the store, we found no sales people around, unlike the first time we were there and the young salesgirl was chatting away on the phone, waiting about 5 minutes before coming over to ask us if we needed anything. I just love snooty salespeople who pretend to be so much better than the customers, as if someone coming in with money to spend is below her station in life - which she forgets is a $7.50 an hour salesgirl. There was a guy sitting at the front table, uninterestedly flipping through a tuxedo catalog. I asked him where the sales people were. "In the back, I think," he says. We walk to the back of the store, where fancy places usually keep their sale items, wanting you to walk a little extra effort for the amount of money you're about to save (like Marilyn's $300 prom dress we picked up elsewhere for $49 earlier this year). A sales girl pops out of a dressing room with a huge wedding gown, and said, "Oh, I'm so sorry I wasn't up front to welcome you! Can I help you find anything?" That's more like it. This girl had some manners. Then a tiny old lady pops out of another room asking if she can be of assistance. We tell her we're just looking, then Marilyn and I browse the dress selection. It didn't seem any smaller than the last time I was in, which was good. They had plenty of cute styles available, too. I pulled out the $88 dress. Oh, it was marked to $50. I asked if all the dresses on the rack weren't supposed to be $10. She said, "Most of them are, but not all," thereby validating my theory about being able to select the most expensive item. I further inspect the dress, pretending I'm very interested but really hoping she'll see I do like it and will just go ahead and mark it down since it's been here a while. Near the bottom I spot what looks like a snag in the organza. Hmm, a bargaining tool! I can cover this with flowers or something but she doesn't know that. I pull it up for closer inspection and see the word "sample" embroidered into the dress. That's weird! When I tell the sales girl, instead selling me the dress for $10, she says, "Oops! I'll take that," and walks away with it, disappearing into a room. Damn! Okay, we keep looking. All the dresses are too large, but look like they could be taken up. We find several hot pink tea length dresses, both strapless and very plain. Well, plain is one way to put it, but I prefer to think of them as "ready for embellishment". Marilyn liked them, too, which was good. Grabbed them both off the rack, made sure they didn't have the word "sample" sewn on anywhere, and headed up to the register. Now we had 20 minutes to get to the hospital. Same poor guy sitting at the table, still flipping through catalogs. Nobody up front again. I had seen the young girl go into the dressing room where a chubby bride-to-be was trying to squeeze into a gown that was just a little too small for her, as evidenced by all of the shifting and wiggling she was doing. The old lady then strolls up front and asks us if this is all we need today. I hand her the dresses and think this is going to be quick and painless. Wrong! She puts a key in the cash register, types in some numbers, tries again because she's entered them wrong. Okay, she's in! Nope, wait just a bit more - she's wiggling the computer mouse over and over, saying, "Wake up, wake up!" like the machine can hear her. It finally starts working, and I think, "She's gonna key in $10 two times, get the tax added on immediately and then we're out the door." Wrong again. Apparently the computer won't start working until it has my first name. She has to put on her glasses and type in my name. Then she has to enter the codes on the tags before putting in the price. The bride to be comes out in a tight strapless number, spilling out of the top with abundant cleavage and body art everywhere. I have to fight the urge to say, "That dress really shows off your tattoos!" I figured my joke would have been taken as a compliment by this member of the Tattoo Generation, so there really was no point. I doubt the place sells long-sleeved bridal gowns with turtlenecks. I hope the doctor's office isn't closed for lunch by the time we get there. Marilyn figured out this was going to be a long process and strolls over to the full price bridesmaids dresses. She pulls out ones she likes and shows them to me. She points to details on the dresses, letting me know these are good ideas for things to add to the dresses we're getting. She's such a smart girl, even when she's ill. Alright, we have a grand total of $21.86! Gimme my dresses and I'm outta here! But not before she has to pull a clear plastic bag off of a roll and try desparately to find the opening. I'm ready to snatch the plastic out of her hands, roll it around the dresses and run out to the car but remain calm instead. Finally, she gets it open!! She's got to stretch on her tip toes to reach the top of the hangers on the rack by the cash register, she's that short. I think I hear her foot bones snapping from osteoporosis, she's so brittle looking. It's on, but she can't quite seem to manage pulling it down around the dresses. The physics seem to have her confounded. When I can take no more, I reach over and whip the plastic down over the dresses and pull them from the rack they're on so she can take a rest, smiling at her the entire time. "Thank you, Jessica," she says. "Please come back and see us again." I return her thanks and we head out the door. We made it to the doctor's office just in time for our appointment. How much did we save on this not-so-quick last minute stop? The total for both dresses pre- tax was $255, so we saved $235! Yay!!


Pretty, Please!

Got an update on the makeover process. Jerry and I spent some time in the mall Friday, passing time, looking around. He tried on several suit jackets. He looks so good in a suit! Okay, he looks good all the rest of the time, too, but a suit seems to, well, suit him. He'd love to try and match his suit cost with the price of my dress ($2.50), but I'm afraid he'll end up with one of those polyester powder blue nightmares from the 70's. At least when you buy a suit you can wear it more than once, so it becomes an investment as opposed to the frivolousness of a wedding gown. While in one of the big department stores, I spot my target - we'll call him Tim. He's the makeover guy I mentioned in an earlier blog. I walk up to him and tell him my story about needing foundation for an event but having no idea what's good or stays on a long time. He's not busy at all, so he leads me to his makeup chair where he cleans my chin with a cotton ball and puts on this smooth, satiny foundation. I asked if it was noticable about it not matching the rest of my face now. He says, "Of course it is! Let's do your whole face!" I'm ready. Been looking forward to him doing this for a long time. I guess I was a little reluctant to ask him, kinda like asking out the prettiest girl in school. As Tim is taking off my far inferior product, I hear a voice behind me say, "Does the purple in this quad come in a single?" Tim looks up, I see his nose wrinkle just the tiniest bit, and he tells her he has to check. I told him to go ahead and help her, but she'd walked away. I notice Jerry out of the corner of my eye chatting with a sales girl over at the jewelry counter. I just love that he can talk to anyone. I wish I had that skill. Tim gets my new fabulous foundation on, and we're giggling about how we wished there was something that made you look like your face had no pores when I hear a squeaky stroller come up on my side. It's the lady who wanted the purple eye shadow. OMG! She scared me! Her bleached blond hair was in need of a touch-up and was standing almost on end. Her face was a pasty color, I guess from a bad foundation match, her eyebrows were drawn on in a very thin line. Where she wanted to put that purple eye shadow was anyone's guess, as she had a black color smudged out to the sides, almost to her temples. She topped off her Marilyn Manson look with some black lip liner and blood red lipstick. Really, is that a daytime look? Her poor baby! I wonder if he thinks his mommy is pretty, and if so, is that going to make him be warped for the rest of his life. "I don't know why I'm compelled to date clowns!" She asks again about the eye shadow. Tim tells her it was only in the quad, so she asked about the price for a quad. After he tells her, she says, "I guess I'll just order some MAC online, then." He's so professional, he tells her they make good stuff and turns back to me, not once making a face about her look. I would have thrown her down in a chair and done a force makeover on her. As you know, I've been trying lip stains, hoping to find something that will last all day without touching it up. I ask Tim, "What's the best way to keep lipstick on all day?" He says, "Reapply it". When I tell him I guess I'll sew a pocket inside my dress so I can keep my lipstick handy, he cracks up. I tell him about the stains I've tried, and he just rolls his eyes. "Girl, don't put anything on your lips that looks like a magic marker - it's gonna dry out your lips bad! And don't wear pink lipstick, it's not for you." That's what I'm looking for, an honest opinion. He applies liner and lipstick, powder and blush and I'm ready to go. We make a list of the items he's used and he keeps it on file. Then he gives me what I came there for - a free sample of foundation. Yay! And on top of that, he says, "I'd love to do your wedding makeup, so just come see me." Wow, that's awesome! Okay, I'm gonna hold him to that. Jerry comes over when Tim's done and says he hardly recognizes me, I look so good. Teasing me and flattering Tim, he got in a 2 for 1. Then he and Tim start talking about men's products and what Jerry can use to wash his face. Unfortunately, no free samples were available. We did learn Neosporin is good for breakouts, though. As I'm getting up to leave is when Tim mentioned doing my wedding makeup. Jerry turns to him and says, "What? She's getting married? Thanks for the heads up, dude. It's good to know where I stand."


It's a Date!

If we can pin one down, that is. Originally we had thought 09/10/11 would be the perfect date - easy to remember (for the one of us who shall remain nameless, but always confused the other's birthday with their brother's as they are in the same month. "Are you sure your birthday isn't on the 8th?"). That sure seems like a loooong way away, though. Why wait? Someone asked Jerry, "Why are you waiting so long? Are you marrying the girl or the date?" Good point - we have waited all these years already. Now we're seriously considering May. Do we want to wait until school's out so those invited guests with children won't use school as an excuse not to come? Marilyn graduates high school on the 19th of that month, and that's a Thursday. If we get married the week before, we'd miss school functions while off on our honeymoon. Could a kid forgive you for that? Should they? I'm pondering a Friday evening wedding now, or an early Saturday afternoon one. We need to sit down and figure this out. Read some advice about picking a date on I guess they know what they're talking about. They say don't choose a holiday weekend - hotels are more expensive and some guests may have standing family plans they can't change and won't make your event. But dang, I thought it would give people extra time off from work without taking up too many vacation days. And the 29th is a Saturday, and Jerry's birthday, and we'd remember our anniversary. Would he want to celebrate his 29th birthday that way? Guess I'll ask! That's something I've started doing lately, asking. I read an interesting article online (just Google "askers and guessers") about there being 2 sorts of people in the world - askers and guessers. Well, I come from a very extended family of guessers. We hardly ever ask anyone for anything, and just guess what the other person would say or do. For example, say I loved the new blouse my sister got. Instead of asking if I could borrow it, I'd just guess I couldn't. I even did that in the past with Jerry. I just guessed he didn't love me as much as I loved him. He guessed the same thing about me. We should have asked, and now that I have that nugget of knowledge, I try to be much more of an asker, even though it goes against my upbringing. I do find that it sure does clear up a lot of misunderstanding. I've told my family about the askers and guessers, and so now when I hear someone complaining about what someone else is or isn't doing, I'll say, "Well, did you ask them or are you just guessing?" I know the answer is guessing, I just like to make them realize they should be asking so they'll know for sure. Askers know that the answer to their question could be no, and they're willing to accept that as part of the asking process. My ex-sister-in-law was the exception to the guessers in our family. She was a hard core asker. She often came across as rude, though, and rightly so. You just don't ask my Mamaw if you can have her dining room furniture after she dies. Sheesh! I think the next step should be to sit down with Jerry and a calendar and ask what dates look good and go from there.