Wednesday, March 26, 2008

And he thought he was smart already

A running joke between me and a group of people that includes Eric and his two best men references a habit I have of identifying things (especially Internet articles) as "interesting" and forwarding them on to people. Can I help it if I want to share the interest?

Looks like it's for Eric's own good, whether he likes it or not, haha.

How marriage helps your brain

I will admit that having blogging and using Google Reader have both decreased the number of "interesting" emails I send out; I feel I have gotten the urge to share my interest in dorky things out by simply posting them on the blog or sharing them on Reader. It's quite an urge to try to ignore, let me tell you!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


For the first time in my entire third year of medical school, I can't fall asleep. This is so disturbing I might have to call a... doctor?

In any case, I'll take this opportunity to write this post I've had brewing in my head for a day or so.
In case it's been confusing (in my other blog) as to what rotation I'm actually on right now, let me clear things up: I'm just finishing with internal medicine, which I've been on since returning from winter break. Internal medicine is a 12-week rotation, but 2 weeks of that is vacation. My vacation happens to be the last two weeks of the entire rotation, namely, last week and this week. Only instead of taking vacation, I chose to do a Career Exploration Elective, wherein I do a -- you guessed it -- elective to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. So that's why I've been talking about Ob/Gyn recently; I'm shadowing in the REI clinic.

Except they were extra nice to me (or had trouble finding people for me to shadow), and I only had to work 4 half-days last week, and only 2 half-days this week. So I'm kind of still on vacation. And next week, I'm really on vacation -- spring break.

The only problem with all of this pseudo-vacation? I have my internal medicine final this Friday. So this is what my brain has been doing the last week and a half:

Need to study.
Wedding planning!
Need to study.
Wedding planning!
Need to study.
Wedding planning!
Little bit of actual studying.
More wedding planning!

It's quite frustrating on all fronts. I've probably been more productive at wedding planning, so I figured I might as well show off the fruits of my labor.

Back in September, a Weddingbee blogger wrote about these floral puppies, and I thought a floral puppy in a basket would be an adorable thing for our flower girl to carry:

Last month, Eric bought me some flowers when he came to visit (awww), and when they were finally ready to be thrown out, I salvaged some of the poms and did a little proof-of-concept experiment to see if I could pull this puppy (haha) off on my own:
I stuck the flowers in a pot of dirt and used buttons for the eyes and nose. It's not half-bad, if I do say so myself. Needs to be fleshed out a little, but it definitely looks dog-ish, and I'm sure with a fresh bunch of poms it will turn out great. How exciting! (OK, I actually did this a few weeks ago, so it didn't contribute to my non-studying directly.)

I spent one evening this weekend practicing my penmanship in preparation for the invitations we'll be sending out ONE YEAR FROM NOW (had to point out my craziness there):
When I was little, my mom made me practice my cursive as at-home homework. I had a bunch of those copy books where you would trace the letter a couple times, then there would be blank spaces for you to write your own. She wouldn't let me write my own letters, though, and instead made me trace the pre-printed ones over and over and over again. I used to throw fits about this, saying that the blank spaces were there for me to use, but her reasoning was that there was no sense trying it on your own if you couldn't trace the perfect one perfectly. (This is how Chinese children learn to write characters, by the way. Trace, trace, trace. Because if you mess it up, you create a whole new character.) I've always been a doodler in school, and by the time I got to middle school I doodled three things: hearts (who didn't), flowers (I drew a pretty flower that my friend Kim was jealous of), and the alphabet. I would write out the alphabet over and over and over again (the first sign of me turning into my mother -- ack!). In seventh grade, I changed the way I made my cursive upper-case "F" after an extensive doodling session in civics class (why I remember this, I'm not sure).

In any case, all that practice has paid off, and I get lots of compliments on my penmanship at work. And while a compliment on penmanship in the medical field isn't all THAT exciting, since most doctors have chicken scratch that is absolutely illegible, I won't look that compliment-bearing gift horse in the mouth. So if there's one time in my life that it would be semi-normal for me to show off my pretty penmanship, it's when we send out wedding invitations. So I'm going to buy a calligraphy marker and calligraph my heart out.

Here's a sample invitation with my chosen "hand" (that's actually the term for a handwritten font):
Also not half-bad, huh? Since etiquette apparently frowns on computer-printed envelopes and calligraphers charge an arm and a leg (prices start at $2 per envelope on Etsy), I might as well do it myself if I can, no?

The other thing that's been percolating around in my head recently is growing mint. My initial idea was to grow little pots of mint and use them as our wedding favor. Mint is related to Louisville via mint juleps, and I have a secret crush on the wedding pun "Holly and Eric, mint to be" even though all those puns are super-cheesy. Plus it's super-eco-friendly and not something that's going to gather dust in a drawer. Even if you throw away my pot of mint, it will decompose nicely, and the pot is recyclable. This is my third spring in a row planting herb seeds for my window box (I always have basil and some combination of flat-leaf parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and cilantro), but I have never been able to grow mint. A while back I heard that mint, while notorious for spreading like wildfire once rooted, can be difficult to grow from seed. Nevertheless, I tried again.

My six little peat pellets, 15 days ago.

And here they are today, looking pretty much the same. There's some faint green fuzz on a couple of them, but it might be mold, to tell you the truth.

So all of that led me to the internet. It turns out this grower sells 16 varieties of mint -- I never knew there were so many kinds! Pineapple mint, chocolate mint (reminiscent of an Andes chocolate, they say!), apple mint, and ... Kentucky Colonel mint, perfect for mint juleps! Ding ding ding! We have a winner. So if these seeds don't sprout by the time I get back from spring break, then I'm going to buy myself a pot of KY Col. mint and start rooting cuttings into 100 3" plastic green pots. Good thing I have a year to do this. The only problem I foresee is that mint, being related to catnip, is very pleasing to kitties. Good thing they're spending a good chunk of next year on the east coast, then.

One of the small green pots. It's 3" in diameter and 2.5" high -- in other words, small. Only 5 cents from the local plant store! The brown pot is a 2" diameter biodegradable pot, which is even more eco-friendly, but it's meant for starting seedlings and then being buried in the ground, so I don't think it would last a year of waterings. If I can actually succeed in making 100 favors for a total of $20.00 ($5 for the pots, $5 for the mother mint plant, $10 for assorted other things like a bag of dirt and something to make the pots pretty), that might be a world record. The only thing still nagging at me: should I arrange the mint pots in the center of each table as a big, green, minty centerpiece to be deconstructed as the guests leave, or just leave them as favors on the table and use floral centerpieces? The floral centerpieces would be DIY, FYI.

Next up are my wine corks. Ever since we moved into our apartment, we've been saving our wine (and champagne) corks, for an unknown reason. After we got engaged, I decided we were saving them to use in the wedding somehow. I also have my brother (who has been working part-time at a liquor store for some extra cash) saving corks from the wine tastings they do at his store, and my friends David and Amy saving theirs from the many bottles they drink (not that they're alcoholics). A couple months ago I decided I would make a bulletin board out of them, and pin our escort cards to them. Easy to do, problem solved. It doesn't exactly match the venue, per se -- it's not like we're getting married at a vineyard, but it's not like I care about things like that, either. Anyway, this weekend I saw an even better idea on Style Me Pretty:
It's kind of hard to tell, but the description said, "Upon entering the reception, there was a tray that I had made with old wine corks with little escort cards tucked in it." Ding ding ding! Another winner. This solves the one nagging problem I had with the bulletin board idea: I wasn't sure how, exactly, it was going to be hung up. But there will definitely be a table in the entry area at the reception where a cork tray can go. Another problem solved!

I don't even know how this happened anymore, but I also set up part of our wedding registry over the weekend. Well, I know why I had the idea, but I really don't know how I actually allowed myself to spend so much time on this non-studying project. I had the idea because Etsy's Storque feature is having a Handmade Wedding Series, and one of the posts this weekend was about custom registry websites. Thank goodness! I've been trying to come up with a way to register at stores that don't have registries and this is the perfect solution! I tried out Wist, but while it allows you to make a "web-list" it doesn't have a registry function that indicates if something has been purchased. So I ended up going with, and once I had set it up, I just sort of started adding things... and more things... and thus the registry was born. There are so many awesome things out there that just aren't available at Target, Macy's, or Bed Bath and Beyond (or, like most things, they are available for less money on the wonderful internet). But don't worry, we'll be setting up some store registries as well. Because I just can't register for towels without putting my hands on the towels to feel them first. And in case you go snooping, we're not going to un-password protect our online registry quite yet, because it's nowhere near finished... and there's still plenty of time for you to buy us a present, so just have patience, little grasshopper.

Today I spent an embarrassing chunk of time looking through ceremony readings (completely Lauren's fault!), which led, oddly enough, to an idea for my graduation speech next year. Seeing as how graduation speech --> graduation --> medical school --> sort of relates to studying (suuuuuure it does, Holly), I allowed it. I'm quite excited by this speech idea, but as graduation is also a year away, there's no sense in spilling the beans quite yet. Plus there's still this year's graduation to attend, and I want to see what the graduating class president has to say. Last year's speech was horrendously long, and the one before that was nice, but unremarkable. I have high hopes for this year's class president, though.

Well, that's the end of today's session of "How I spent my time not studying." Tune in next time (I promise, there will be a next time) for more!

Monday, March 10, 2008


It's apparently a tricky issue for some couples, whether to invite children to the wedding. But not for us! I love children (and can't wait for my own -- wait, did I just write that on the internet?), and can't imagine a wedding without them. Plus, it would just seem rude to invite all your family and friends from across the country but not invite their children. Yes, my dear friend Mary from North Carolina (not a real person), I'd love for you and your husband to come, but please leave your 1-year-old at home, would you? WTF? If I got invited to a wedding like that, I wouldn't come. And for my family, weddings are the few chances we have to all get together, so it's a mini-family reunion as well. You'd invite your cousin's kids to a family reunion, right?

The New York Times had a recent article discussing this topic. I haven't interviewed caterers yet, but I can certainly imagine that if your reception dinner was costing $150 a head and your caterer wouldn't provide a kiddie portion/price, I'd be peeved as well. But so far, I've found that every wedding tradition and problem (sometimes the traditions ARE the problems, it seems) has a solution. Kid cries during your ceremony? Consider it good luck!* (I have to credit Weddingbee's Miss Jasmine for that one.) The only time I've balked at the number of children we're having was when I looked at one reception facility that required you to use their alcohol provider (already a no-deal for us) and would only let you have an open bar if fewer than 10% of your guests were under 21. Otherwise, you had to have a consumption bar. Unfortunately, there are a few young adults who will just barely not be 21 come the wedding, so we would have 11-12% of our guests underage, and a consumption bar is going to be much more expensive, with our guests, than an open bar would be. Thank goodness we need to provide our own alcohol so that venue was nixed anyway!

Plus, I have a completely adorable niece-to-be who is going to be a whopping 2-and-a-half years old by the time the wedding comes around, so we have a flower girl! There's another whole line of "controversy" surrounding the appropriate age of a flower girl, as well. Is 2 too young? What is she won't perform? Um, excuse me, she's not a circus monkey. She's a 2-year-old. You bribe her to walk down the aisle, and if she doesn't, no big deal. The day does not depend on the flower girl throwing petals. She'll still look damn cute in her dress no matter what!

And speaking of dresses, here are some adorable Easter dresses I saw at Macy's after the wedding show last weekend. The girls' section was conveniently next to the home store. They would make perfect flower girl dresses, especially since I'm seriously considering not dressing our flower girl up as a mini-bride in all-white.

You can see the rest of the pictures I took here.

If I were just slightly older and didn't feel a nagging need for bridesmaids, and knew a few more small children, I would consider doing what is apparently a growing European trend (according to some magazine I read at some point) and just have a ton of flower girls. How cute would that be! You can dress 7 girls under the age of 10 alike and it's considered adorable, whereas dressing 7 girls age 20-28 alike is just embarrassing.

The only question we have yet to address is how much to accommodate the kiddies? Provide a babysitter? Have a separate kids' table? These are questions that will be answered along the way, I'm sure. All I know for now is that I couldn't imagine a wedding without children, so for us at least, it's not a dilemma at all.

*Did you see the two cat/wedding superstitions? "The prudent bride will feed the cat before leaving for the church. Such an act will ensure her happiness." Um, that should be more like, any prudent cat owner will feed the cat before leaving the house, to ensure her own happiness. And, do you think I can make Moxie or Mojo sneeze the day of? That's a trick I need to work on!

**I do not intend to offend any brides that are anti-children. It's your wedding, you do what you want. This is my wedding, and these are my opinions.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Darcy Miller at Macy's

Last week I read in one of the wedding blogs in my Google Reader, DIY Bride, that Darcy Miller and Wendy Kromer, both of the Martha Stewart Weddings empire/machine, would be at the Louisville Macy's today. I knew I was going to be post-call today, but I went ahead and RSVPed, figuring that if I was exhausted at the last minute I wouldn't go. I don't know how they advertised the event locally (I don't get the newspaper anymore), but there were probably 50-100 people there. I was, sadly, one of the only people there by myself, but such is life.

Now, I like flipping through MS Weddings magazine for the diy projects and clean photo layouts, but I find the MS empire a little disturbing with its emphasis on perfection. I also don't like famous people putting their names on subpar versions of otherwise-great product lines, a la Emeril and All-Clad. I think Martha Stewart at Kmart is a gimmick and why on earth would I buy Martha Stewart Wedgwood (or even Vera Wang Wedgwood) rather than "real" Wedgwood? Is that weird? I'm not sure, but I'm sticking to my guns. Anyway, I think Martha sets up unreasonable expectations for a lot of women, whether they be brides, homemakers, or craftspeople. No one can be that perfect! If you're aware of your lack of perfection, though, then her crafty projects can be great inspiration.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I wasn't going to go all ga-ga for Darcy Miller (MS Weddings editor) or Wendy Kromer (makes all the cakes for the MS wedding empire), but I had nothing better to do today (other than sleep) and I figured there would probably be free food of some sort (I was right). Plus, if hundreds of other brides would kill to be in my place, maybe I should see what all the fuss was about...

When I got to Macy's (they set up the event in the Home Store), they asked me to set up my registry (I declined) or sign up to be contacted later about setting up a registry (I complied). Then I entered a drawing for 4 settings of Martha's new Wedgwood setting of my choice (if I won, I probably would have sold it on eBay because I wouldn't want to get 8 more settings of any of them to fill out the set). I'll spoil the surprise: I didn't win, although my raffle number was only 7 digits after the winning one... if only I had gotten there 3 minutes earlier!

Then I found a seat kind of toward the front and off to one side, which had a gift bag full of free swag: a copy of the current MS Weddings magazine (sweet! I didn't buy it at the airport when I had that long layover last month!), a copy of the current Louisville Bride magazine (sweet! I didn't buy it at Borders last month because I convinced myself it wasn't worth it since I could read the whole thing online for free!), a $10 Macy's gift card (I was a bad girl and snuck the gift card out of the bag on the chair next to me also, since no one was sitting there. There was a Macy's nazi snatching up all the un-claimed bags as soon as the event was over, though, so no other thievery for me), and a couple of useless coupons, ads, and a perfume sample.

Darcy Miller was up first, and she gave some really general advice about wedding planning. She showed pictures from the current MS Weddings issue about the couple who won the Today Show wedding. Since it was televised live, the ceremony was at 8 am, and that meant the bride's call time was... wait for it... 3:30 a.m.! I can't imagine that. Not that I've never woken up that early, but the whole point of a wedding day being the couple's special day means, for us at least, that we get to sleep in; hence a late afternoon ceremony for us. She also talked about and showed pictures from her own wedding in 2001, which had lots of cute little details and was featured in the magazine back then.

Darcy does her bit.

Then Wendy Kromer talked about cakes and showed lots of cake pictures. Most of it was nothing I had never heard or seen before, either, but it's always fun to look at pretty cakes.

A traditional, white-on-white cake with intricate piping. Wendy referenced the book the Lambeth Method of Cake Decoration for this cake. Apparently it's a book that people who are "sick with love for cake decorating" own.

I harbor fantasies about cakes like this, especially strawberry shortcakes. I love fresh berries on cakes. [Sorry for the crappy cake pictures, btw; I was taking pictures of the screen that was projecting the slideshow.]

I LOVE the whimsical look of this cake. The borders of the tiers are ladyfingers dipped in something or other, and the tiers are covered in waxflower. I like dainty patterns like that a lot, like this cake from last month's cake episode of the MS show inspired by a calico print:

I'll probably have a plain-ish cake decorated with fresh flowers, myself, assuming that intricately decorated things like the calico cake above are unquestionably out of our budget. Strawberry shortcake is still a possibility, though!

Then they let us loose, and encouraged us to buy the MS wedding cake book for Wendy to sign ($60, no thank you!) and talk to Darcy and taste cake samples provided by a local baker. The cake samples included an espresso marble cake with mocha filling (too strong of a coffee taste for me, but still good) and a butter cake with bavarian cream filling (DELICIOUS! I may have to call them for a consultation).

Peach tea with remnants of the butter-and-bavarian-cream cake, perched delicately next to a display of Kate Spade china.

There were also some yummy hors d'oeuvres: sirloin cube and grape tomato on a skewer; grilled shiitake mushroom on a rosemary stem skewer (awesome idea I'd love to use!); shrimp with avocado and creme fraiche on a little pastry of some sort with caviar; and a cute take on potato skins: half of a small red potato with creme fraiche, a bit of bacon, and leek.

Sirloin and tomato skewer and shiitake mushroom skewer. The mushroom was grilled with rosemary, so the whole thing was delicious and woodsy.

The potato appetizer. I ate like 5 of these things. They were delicious. The leek bit was practically as large as the potato so it looked a little funny, but whatever.

While we were waiting around for them to draw the door prize, everyone was perusing the china and kitchen stuff. Although I wouldn't buy the Martha Stewart line just because it was Martha Stewart, and definitely wouldn't buy it if I had something with tried-and-true quality in mind instead, she does have pieces that are unique and adorable. Like wooden cutting boards in the shape of a mouse (to serve cheese and crackers on!) or rooster, or a wire cupcake stand. Anyway, I ended up getting these two teensy dishes, which I'm going to use as ring dishes in the bathroom and kitchen. And they were essentially free, thanks to my gift card!

The leaf for the kitchen and the flower for the bathroom. My ring will look adorable sitting in either of those, although not as adorable as it looks sitting on my finger, of course!

I'm not sure what these dishes are supposed to be... the letter abbreviations on the UPC sticker seem to reference "salt cellar" but these are definitely too small for a salt cellar. Is it possible one is supposed to have tiny individual salt serving dishes on a properly set table? I don't remember any such thing from Miss Manners (yes, I have read it), but you never know...

Overall, it was not a bad afternoon at Macy's!