Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mint favors - update

You may recall that at a month ago I had tried to start growing mint for the wedding favors. That trial of growing mint from seed officially failed, so a few weeks ago I found Thienemans, an adorable nursery in town (seriously, I wish I had a yard to plant all that stuff in!), and bought a 4" pot of Kentucky Colonel mint from them.

The internet and the lady at Thienemans said that rooting mint cuttings is ridiculously easy, so I cut off a little bit and stuck it in a pot of dirt. After about 10 days it looked like this:

Not good.

So it was back to the Internet. The problem is that most gardeners find mint to be a royal nuisance, so when I found a thread on a gardening site asking how to root mint, it was full of sarcastic responses like, "All you have to do is sneeze and mint will root!" Which was why I had been so cavalier with my first cutting.

So instead of searching for "how to root mint" I searched more generally about how to root... anything. And I got some more helpful ideas. Using bits of information I gleaned from various sites, I came up with this plan:

Soak peat pellets (which I have, to start herb seeds with) in rooting hormone or fertilizer (which I have, to fertilize my herb window pots, since I never add new soil to them), then stick the plant cutting in the peat pellet. Cover with a plastic bag or dome (a ziplock bag is fine) to keep the humidity high -- since the cutting doesn't have any roots yet, it doesn't have a way to take in water, so keeping the environment humid will help the cutting survive until it sprouts roots. Let sit for 2-3 weeks in a warm, humid environment, then when you're fairly confident you have roots, you can plant the peat pellet in soil as you normally would. Be sure to use a very sharp knife to take your cuttings (I'm using a brand-new X-acto blade), and you want to cut below a node (you can Google it; but a node is essentially the spot on a stem where new branches divide from).

Which gave us this:

Mint cutting in a peat pellet in a little metal pinch/spice dish from the kitchen, covered with a plastic bag that a cat toy came in.

And four days later, when the first cutting hadn't died and the mother plant was thriving and sprouting lots of new shoots, I cut four more:

If they all continue to do well, I'll plant them in the 3" pots in a couple weeks. I already bought a couple bags of potting soil, 100 3" green plastic pots, and spray paint primer and purple spray paint to paint half of the pots purple. The mother plant is doing well, and continues to send out new shoots:

But it also seems to have brought some bugs from the nursery, which is what ate that hole in that leaf you see there. I've seen some of them; they look like tiny, translucent green grasshoppers. I kill them as I see them, and I also bought some organic bug killer, because I really don't want grasshoppers in the apartment. The organic stuff is cool, it's just oils of all these different plants, like thyme, clove, and sesame, that bugs apparently don't like. Good stuff.

I do think I'll probably buy another mother plant or two, though, because I do need to make 100 of these things, and I don't want to over-prune the one plant I have. If I have a few, I can spread my harvest needs around more.

So: 5 down, and 95 pots and 13 months to go. No idea where I'm going to put these things, or what I'm going to do with them from June-September while I'm gone, but those are problems for another time...

I will admit that as cool as this idea sounds, I am already having visions of my entire crop dying next March suddenly. That's why it's good that this is a relatively cheap experiment (the mint plant was $2.75, the 3" pots were 6 cents each, the spray paint was $3-4, the dirt was $8, and the bug spray was $5).

Grow, little mint plants, grow!

A link!

DIY Bride has listed me as someone who links to them! And now I'm just linking back... and the circle continues...

Well, in case anyone ends up here because of DIY Bride, then Welcome! Please leave a comment!

And I promise there are updates coming.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Jamie's wedding - recap

On April 12 one of my best friends, Jamie, got married in Baltimore. It was a really beautiful wedding, and of course, I took note of all the little details to obsess over myself.

The wedding was at the Renaissance Harborplace at the Baltimore Inner Harbor. The suite where we got ready (and where I got to stay for free -- sweet!) was up high, overlooking the harbor. This was the view from our windows:


The night before the wedding, the rehearsal dinner was held at Chiapparelli's (Jamie and Tim had a 16-month engagement, but deciding to have the rehearsal dinner there was one of their first decisions!), and it was delicious. We received our bridesmaids' gifts at dinner, which consisted of a little black insulated lunch bag embroidered with our names (mine was embroidered in purple; I think someone knows what I like!), inside of which was a picture of all the bridesmaids with Jamie at her bachelorette party in March, a gift certificate for manis and pedis the next day, a gorgeous rhinestone necklace to wear with our dresses, and an assortment of things that constituted a wedding day emergency kit, like chapstick, Shout wipes, bandaids, antacids, mints, and mini liquor bottles. Pretty cool.

Three of the four bridesmaids stayed with Jamie in the hotel suite where we would be getting ready the next day (the other lived in town and was post-call, so she opted to sleep in her own bed), and the next day we all piled into a limo to be chauffeured around to all the various appointments. In addition to the bride and four bridesmaids, we were joined by the junior bridesmaid, Jamie's mom, and the wife of the best man. After breakfast in the limo, our first stop was at the nail salon for manis and pedis.

Next up was the hair salon, where Jamie has been going for years. I kind of wish I had that kind of long-term relationship with a hairstylist (unfortunately, my mom doesn't count), not that I get my hair cut that often anyway (hence why it looks long and wild and crazy right now).

Here's Jamie getting the veil put in her hair. She had her hair in a really pretty low chignon-type thing and the short veil complemented it well.

I treated my updo as a wedding hair trial, so asked for half-up/half-down with curls. The stylist asked if I was planning to wear a veil, and in a split-second decision, I decided to wear one. So she apparently made the half-up part of my hair conducive to putting a veil comb in:
What it felt like she was doing was taking alternating strands from the right and left side of my head and sort of pinning them up so they lay horizontally across the crown of my head, then letting the ends fall down in curls. So the horizontal parts made loops... kind of like a shoelace with lots of loops? She curled all the ends more when she was finished. I had a side sweep in the front and some volume at the back/top, although by the time she had finished putting all the bobby pins in, she had killed some of the volume. I think it looks nice, but not particularly amazing, but I'm sure it will look nice under a veil and will certainly serve its purpose of keeping a veil secured. And of course, I did buy a veil when I got back from the wedding as a result. But do I maybe want an updo that's a little more visually exciting on its own? Plenty of time to ponder.

After getting ready, we went down for pictures. By that time, the florist had assembled the chuppah:
Each post of the chuppah had one of these arrangements on it, and there was really pretty up-lighting from the floor. Gorgeous!!!!

This was the view as you entered the ceremony room. Those tall arrangements had the largest calla lilies I've ever seen. They were absolutely stunning. After the ceremony, they were moved into the ballroom to flank the sweetheart table.

We did the girls' pictures in the Harborplace Mall, which is attached to the hotel we were in. The mall is in a 4-story atrium with tons of natural light. It was kind of weird to be taking photos in a mall with actual mall customers walking around, but it was also kind of cool. Everyone was looking at us like we were celebrities or something. Some of the cooler shots we took that I can't wait to see included one where the photographer went down an escalator, then pointed his camera up, and we all lined up on the escalator and he shot as we came down; another set was taken in front of this really gorgeous fountain in the mall lobby; and another set was taken in front of Victoria Secret's, with Jamie looking sexy and all the bridesmaids looking shocked -- except I just cracked up hysterically. The photographer took the guys into the mall as well, and took shots in front of Brooks Brothers and sitting at the shoe shine booth. I can't wait to see the photos.

After photos we had some time to kill before the ketubah signing and we were hungry, so we made the wedding planner that came with the hotel get us McDonald's. I love this picture:

That's Jamie and her sister, the maid of honor, chowing down on nuggets and fries. Mmmm.

At the ketubah signing, I started to cry, but we also at that time discovered that our dresses had pockets, so I was able to stash some tissues for the ceremony (which I needed). Our camera is getting on in years so Eric wasn't able to take any good photos of anyone during the processional, but here's Paula and I being escorted by the groom's brother during the recessional:

I have almost no pictures from the reception, since I was dancing so much and having such a good time, and that's fine, except for the fact that I didn't take a picture of the cake, which was done by Duff of Ace of Cakes! We were taking bridesmaids' pictures when the cake was delivered, which is a shame, because Jamie had been told that Geoff was going to deliver it, and I would love to have talked to him in person. He has such a dry sense of humor, I love it.

One thing I did get a picture of was our table. The tablecloth was white and it had this sheer overlay with that black vine pattern on it. I was very jealous, because as I may or may not have mentioned (possibly not; I can't remember anymore and am too lazy to go back and check), a vine pattern is going to be the theme of our wedding! It can't be that exact pattern anymore (and it probably wouldn't have been anyway), and I want more color (Jamie's wedding was all black and white and very formal), but I still had a pang of "Oh no, I can't use that idea anymore!" before I snapped back into reality.

They had a photo booth at the wedding that served as both the guest book and favor. You went in, had 4 photos taken, and it printed two copies of the set of four. There was an attendant from the photo booth company who cut the two strips apart, put one in the guest book and let you write your message, and gave the other to you as a favor. There were lots of great, silly and cute photos, and tons of great messages as well. A surprising number of people (us included) kissed for the camera, too!

It was a great wedding, and I'm sad it's over, because for the last year wedding events for Jamie have been the only way we've all been able to get together! It's up to my bridesmaids now to plan events for our wedding so we can continue to get together for fun times in the next year...

And since I never posted about Jamie's bachelorette party, here's a quick update: We met up in Pittsburgh, which is where Jamie lives, and we organized a night at Bar Louie in Station Square. They had an awesome bachelorette party deal where for $20/person we got 2 group appetizers, 2 drinks of our choice, a round of lemon drop shots, a champagne toast, a huge chocolate cake, and beads and bachelorette games and assorted accessories. Plus we were in a private corner of the bar up on a raised platform with curtains we could pull to make it all VIP and exclusive. There were a lot of fun girls there who haven't known Jamie for quite as long and therefore were more willing to make her do embarrassing things (the bridesmaids, on the other hand, were in mortal fear for our lives if we tried to make her do anything too crazy). We had a guy come take off his shirt and flex for us, and a few more came over and sang to her (You've Lost That Loving Feeling, a la Top Gun). Good times. If you're planning a bachelorette party in Pittsburgh, I highly recommend Bar Louie as a starting-off point. Plus we waited for a Restaurant.com sale and got a $75 gift certificate for only $15. We totally should have gotten the $100 gift certificate, but I chickened out and wasn't sure if we would meet the minimum (but of course we did). Anyway, it was a good, good night.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

eBay is addictive

I went on eBay the other day to buy a new phone charger because I left mine in Maryland. I ended up watching/stalking about 20 eBay auctions for tiaras/hair combs.

I won a hair comb tonight. Who knows if it will look good, but it was less than $10.

At the last second, I lost out on another auction, for a barrette. Why oh why didn't I just make my maximum bid higher to begin with?

And just now, I bought myself a veil. I stayed up an extra 40 minutes to watch the auction close and bid at the last minute. Only $18, score! Does anyone else see a problem with this pattern of behavior?

And oh yeah, I still haven't bought a phone charger.

Other things that are tempting to buy from eBay:

  • Old (unused) 27-cent stamps (perfect for postcards now; damn you, Martha Stewart for that great idea!)
  • Cake toppers (thankfully most are trashy or ugly so I'm not too tempted)
  • Fabric by the bolt to make my own table runners. Can you say "CRAZY"?
  • Pretty, pretty ribbon. Just because.