Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Finer Details

I wanted to share some of the wedding projects, and how they turned out. I debated sharing my "How Tos" as I did them, but there was no way that I could do that along the way, as it just felt like too much. A number of them developed into love-hate relationships. I said "Why did I think this was a good idea?" many times. But now, I'm actually pretty proud of the ones that we focused on.

So here we go...

Photo by Lisa Mathewson Photography
Our invitations were one of my favorite early projects. We ordered them through replybydesignstudio, and made arrangements through Chris' dad to print them at his company. They were simple and elegant. With the awesome help of my friend Claudia, we added the baker's twine and the gold glitter envelope liners, made from glitter wrapping paper from Paper Source. 

Photo by Lisa Mathewson Photography

Our table ceterpieces were fairly simple. My amazing aunt made black and white "summer stripe" table squares and runners, which were featured throughout our event. Seamstress extraordinaire! We then used gold chargers as a base for the flowers, which were in an assortment of mason jars wrapped in baker's twine as well. I was all about the baker's twine, and using it wherever it made sense. I will tell you about how I ended up with $40 worth of the stuff some other time...

We did simple table numbers in black Ikea frames, which had different quotes on them. 

And one of my favorite, but more tedious details, were the votives. I added loose gold glitter with a bit of glue tape to the rims of the votive holders. Messy. Lesson learned: should have sealed the stuff. Just one of the many reasons that I continue to find glitter in the cats fur. 

Photo by Lisa Mathewson Photography
One of our main goals for the wedding was to feature Milwaukee. Many of our friends and family were coming from out of town, and we wanted them to fall in love with the city that we call home. Because, of course, we want them to come back! That was why we chose Milwaukee Public Market as the perfect downtown wedding venue. The venue has such an amazing vibe, just by itself, and the staff did an amazing job of transforming the second floor area into a beautiful wedding space. Through the culinary magic of their different vendors, we were also able to feature foods that said Wisconsin, like brat bites, cheese, and mini cream puffs. Plus they showcased an awesome assortment of Wisconsin beers. It was seriously the best venue ever, and the only one that we looked at. Serious plug: If you are looking to get married in Milwaukee and want a fun venue, you must chat with Ellen and the other staff at the Milwaukee Public Market. 

We also thought it would be a fun twist to utilize the Milwaukee handkerchief from HANMade Milwaukee, as our "guest book." One of my favorite moments on the day after the wedding was looking at all of the places that folks had signed. While many put their names around the border, others picked out locations on the map that may have been special to them. I can't wait to frame it and hang it up in our house! 

Photo by Lisa Mathewson Photography
We also wanted folks to have the opportunity to leave us a longer message, or advice as we start our first year of marriage. I found a cute little blue ceramic market basket at Anthropologie, that looked just like one you might put strawberries in. I thought it was an awesome fit for the location, and can't wait to figure out how to use it at home.

Photo by Lisa Mathewson Photography

Glitter was ever present throughout our wedding. In fact, long before we got married, I nicknamed our wedding, "Project Glitter Bomb." One of the sparkling touches was on the banners that we featured throughout the venue. Using a modified version of this tutorial from A Practical Wedding, I utilized a party banner kit from Party City to make banners that said "Mr" and "Mrs," "Always," and "Treat Yo Self," for the dessert table of course. I traced each of the letters with more of the glitter wrapping paper, and then adhered them to the different colored letters. They were on of my favorite things to see come to life in the beautiful space.

Photo by Lisa Mathewson Photography
Photo by Lisa Mathewson Photography
Ahh, the ribbon backdrop. No project became a bigger pain in the butt over the course of making it. And in hindsight, I would have loved to add some additional width to the thing. But it did look pretty nice for our ceremony.

A few other little things made the day special:
  • Bathroom baskets with all of the essentials for our guests. You know, tide pens, mints, bobby pins, etc.
  • Black and white striped "L-O-V-E" letters. Not my best painting, but they turned out okay and made good photo props.
  • Our fun and simple cake topper, that graced the little 9 inch cake that we purchased from Whole Foods. I think this was actually one of the first things that we bought.  
I am happy to provide tutorials on any of the crafty things if you are looking to do something similar. Just let me know which ones.
So there you go! : )

Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer Goals

Summer is coveted time when you work in higher education.

Before you ask, no, I do not have summers off. But, throughout the end of the spring semester, I crave summer. It is a different pace. It is time to focus on planning ahead for the upcoming academic year, versus feeling like everything is getting done "just in time" or that I am constantly trying to catch up. It also feels like there is actually time to get out and enjoy summer, as I have less evening and weekend commitments. So we try to cram in as much fun as we can, and most of it in June and July. Once August 1 hits, something just shifts, and it feels like summer is over. That last month feels frantic as I try to get everything done before the students come back.

Last summer flew by at warp speed. We did a lot of fun things, but there were so many other things I would have loved to make happen that I just didn't get to. I think it was all of those baseball games and races. Because we aren't really traveling at all this summer and don't have too many major set things on the calendar, I have tried to set some summer goals, to make sure that I am making the most of it. Here they are for 2014:

Go regularly to the farmer's market. It is my favorite part of summer. And the best way that I can ensure that I am eating healthy and cutting costs on my grocery budget during the summer. So far I have gotten some delicious stuff: bread, honey, cheese curds, asparagus, strawberries, snap peas, lettuce, kale, spinach, and mushrooms. I can't wait to see what else the vendors will have as the summer goes on.

Actually cook. During the school year, it is easy to get out of the habit of meal planning and cooking and just choose to go out to eat instead. We really got out of the habit of cooking during the weeks before and after our wedding, and I honestly kind of miss it. Although I would love to spend every evening dining outdoors on a restaurant patio, I want to take advantage of the extra time that I have to try some new recipes and plan out our meals. Good old habit building. Grilling outside and utilizing our crock pot are actually better options for us during the summer, as we don't have air conditioning and will do anything we can to avoid making the house hotter.

Run. It's been a really long time. And I actually haven't scheduled out any races for this summer - mainly to save money, but also because I've been lazy. I need to get my new pair of running shoes, and get back out on the road. I miss the personal time that it provides.

Read. Summer is when I do the most leisure reading. And I have a long list of books waiting to be picked up. I love turning off the tv and reading instead. I just finished reading The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert and can't put down The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling). I made a goal to read 52 books this year (one a week). I've only finished 11 and it's been 26 weeks. It's time to catch up!

Plan our honeymoon. I am so glad that we made the decision not to honeymoon right after the wedding. We would have been exhausted, and I probably would have been miserable, thanks to that good old summer cold that showed up during the week after our wedding. I think that having the time set aside to plan now also has been a good transition post-wedding. It gives us something to look forward to, and I'm not experiencing those post-wedding blues that some folks have.

Organize. Since we had folks around during the week before and after the wedding, we did our best to clean the house a bit. This sometimes (often) meant shoving things out of sight, which has left some of our closets and storage spaces in sore shape. Yikes. I would love to go through and organize them while we have the time to do it, so that no one gets an injury from opening a closet door. Not necessarily the most fun summer task, but one that will clear a bit of physical and mental clutter. I know the crap is in there, and it's staring me down. It has to go!

Checking out free/cheap stuff. In our effort to save for our honeymoon, we have been looking for all of the different fun, free things to do around Milwaukee this summer. There are a number of outdoor concerts, movies, and other cool stuff that we just haven't checked out yet. It is easy to stop paying attention to our fun budget during the summer because we want to do all of the festivals and stuff. My hope is that if we make a game out of finding the free stuff, it will continue to be fun. So far, we have been to a free Symphony concert in the park, the Jelly Belly Factory tour, the Criterion Classic cycling race that went through our neighborhood, and Summerfest, of course. I'm hoping to make it to Shakespeare in the Park this weekend, as it ends on Sunday.

It's so hard to believe that July is next month. It is just starting to feel like summer, and we only have 9 weekends left before the students move in!

Do you set summer goals? What are they?

Thursday, June 26, 2014


First dance, captured by Lisa Mathewson Photography
It is hard to believe it, but Chris and I have already been married for one month. A special, tiny anniversary that we celebrated yesterday by seeing Ray Lamontagne at Summerfest.

I had been intending to write a blog post about our wedding weekend a bit sooner, but was simultaneously hit by an intense summer cold while trying to relax and take a break from doing All. The. Things. My first week back at work was a total blur. I've been in catch up mode ever since. And trying to do all of the fun summer things, so it doesn't feel like this one got away.
But I didn't want to get too far away from the wedding, because there were so many amazing memories from that weekend that I worry will get lost. The fact that it was beautiful, relaxed, fun, and perfectly us.

I started to write a post, that then felt like a novel. Too much. Too too much. You would have stopped reading, three paragraphs in. So instead we will break this up. Make it a bit more digestable. Consider it Kirstin and Chris' wedding, in small plates. Starting with the favorites.

Some of my favorite things about our wedding:

  • The most beautiful weather. I think JerBear called that one in for us. 
  • We hosted our cocktail hour before the ceremony. Call us untraditional, but I think it was the best decision ever. I was so much calmer going into the ceremony, and okay with all eyes being on us, because we had already greeted folks. I got past the stage fright, for the most part. We didn't want folks to think that we weren't taking the ceremony seriously (I wrote the thing over and over many times, trust me), but we wanted the vibe to feel a bit less stuffy and more us. It worked. 
  • Our ring warming ceremony was absolutely beautiful. We weren't really sure exactly how the timing was going to work out, or if it would just drag on. But it turned out lovely, when we just let it happen. Plus we had to awesome "ring bears" (HIMYM shout out!) 
  • I really loved all of our ceremony, as we actually heard and said it. As I had pulled the pieces of it together in the months before the wedding, I spent a lot of time thinking about what words and what vows would "fit" us. And then, in the early morning hours of that day, I was tossing and turning, and realized that I had taken out a critical part of the thing that I needed to add back in. The one legal part that you have to say. Nothing like last minute editing. In the moments of the ceremony, I felt each of those words though. And they were just right. 
  • The food was awesome. We didn't really get to eat any of it that night (in fact, the first thing I really ate that night was a piece of pizza a friend gave me at a bar afterwards), but everyone seemed to enjoy that we skipped the traditional plated chicken or steak, and instead went with a taco bar, pulled pork sliders, assorted apps and a mini-dessert bar. Food was one thing we cared a lot about and we wanted stuff folks would enjoy eating. Not the typical banquet meal.
  • In lieu of favors, we made donations to the Humane Society and American Cancer Society. We invited friends and family to join us in the donation (instead of clinking glasses, we'd kiss for that), and we doubled what we were able to donate. It felt so meaningful when we made the donations. Seriously the best moment. 
  • We also donated all of our flowers after the wedding to Petals for Patients, an organization that shares them with hospice patients. We loved our flowers, which were beautiful and exactly what we wanted, but we also knew that we didn't need to take them home. Not only was it helpful to us in our planning, but also a meaningful way to pay it forward.
  • We listened to the most amazing, heartfelt speeches/toasts from our friends and family. It was truly a room filled with love. There were many, many tears. I cried a lot.
  • Our first dance to "Oh" by Dave Matthews. Specifically the Live from Las Vegas, Dave and Tim version, for those of you who know our love of Dave Matthews. While it felt totally weird to have folks watching us dance, and I think we were both glad that we picked a shorter song, it was the perfectly sweet moment. 

We were pretty selective about where we put the most time, money, and energy. Some things were important to us, others were not. I am glad that we were thoughtful about our ceremony and reception, with a focus on our guests. I loved the entire feel of the event because you could see all of us throughout. I loved our decorations and some of the smaller touches about our day. I am also really glad that I didn't spend time doing favors, escort cards, or programs. We just didn't need them.

I am also really glad that we kept our wedding small and intimate. We aimed for 75-100, and ended up with just under 80 guests. Any couple planning a wedding will tell you that the guest list is the hardest part. And it was. There were so many people I wanted to be there, but we knew that a 300-person wedding would have scared the crap out of us. Neither of us are fans of being the center of attention. We also knew that there were friends and family we would really want to be there, that wouldn't be able to make the trip. And they were definitely missed, but there in spirit. 

Since the wedding, folks regularly ask, "How does it feel to be married?" My typical answer is "Mostly the same. But isn't that kind of how it should be?" In many ways, our day-to-day lives haven't changed. The adjustments, at least within the first month, have been:

  • Lots of name change paperwork. Holy wow. Also, hoping my new driver's license arrive, because it feels silly using a paper one...
  • Getting used to saying my new last name or saying "my husband" without giggling. Sometimes caused by others giggling or freaking out when they hear me say either.
  • Getting used to signing my new last name. Looks like third grade cursive classes all over again.
  • Focusing in on making some of those bigger plans together. The grown up things. Like financial decisions. Those things that make me feel old.
We are now past the wedding stuff, and on to the marriage stuff. And that's the part I was most excited for. As beautiful of a day as it was, it was just a day. And now is the part where we try our best to live our vows every day, and to figure this thing out was we go. 

Not long after our wedding, I was looking at a web site that posted the following from Anne Morrow Lindburgh's "Gift from the Sea". I sent it to myself and put in the subject "Remember this," because it strikes me that this is what being married is really all about:

“When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.
The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits - islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.”

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