Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Our Save-The-Dates!

So, I just sent these to print. I'm really excited to have this crossed off the to-do list. I also enjoyed embroidering the piece for them. I know it's just a little simple postcard, and most folks will probably throw it away once our invites come in (and they will most likely toss those invites away once they glean all necessary information), but I still like to try to do something unique to us. Plus, now Brendan and I have a token of this particular and special time in our lives to hang in our home. So, as a devout textile artist and designer, and as a couple who loves to bike ride, and who generally enjoys the simple things in life, we felt this was what represented us best. And while I embroidered everything, Brendan definitely had a hand in choosing layout, background, color choices and font treatment. And like so many things about our lives and our wedding planning, it's truly a joint effort. :)

Now to wait for them to come back from our printers, organize addresses, get postage and distribute them.

Friday, October 1, 2010

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is also the month that Philadelphia will be hosting the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3Day Walk, a 60 mile walk that I am working towards participating in (October 15th-17th). I only qualify to walk if I reach the minimum fundrasing goal of $2300. Currently I am 70% of the way there! I know that raising $2300 per participant sounds crazy steep, but it takes a lot of money to build meaningful results: clinical research, outreach & community development, and education regarding facts about the disease, methods of detection, and options for those who have been diagnosed.

It's very likely that all of us have had someone we love affected by this disease or eventually will. Latest stats say one in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. While this sounds like a terrifying statistic, there is good news: due to large amounts of money going towards research and development, the chances of a woman's survival from breast cancer is pretty good! The 5 year survival rate of women diagnosed with breast cancer is 89%! Additionally, if the cancer is found early, before it has spread to other parts of the body and remains confined to the breast, the 5-year survival rate is 98%!! But these stats won't remain so positive if we don't continue to fight.

This is why I'm asking each of you to donate $25 to my fund, though anything is more than welcomed! I'm aware of these tumultuous economic times (I've been laid off TWICE in the last year and am still currently looking for a stable job) but I started this journey and I would be completely thrilled if I were able to finish it! I won't get there without your generosity. Please go to: www.the3day.org/goto/BSmith523 to donate. All donations are tax-deductible.
Thank you so much. :)

PS - if you have friends or family that you think might be interested in donating towards the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer fund, please tell them that I am walking and suggest they donate to me. I would truly appreciate it. Thank you!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yellow Shoes, How I Love Thee

So, I bought a wedding dress the other week. It's pretty simple, really a bridesmaid dress made in an off-white, so it's short (to the knee). I'm excited by it. But I'm more excited about finding killer yellow shoes to go with it!

Here's what I've found that I like so far: (ranging in price from about $100 to almost $400, which is crazy expensive, I know...)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wedding Vortex

So, I've been in the bell jar. No wait, the wedding jar....cake? dress? ....VORTEX. Yes, vortex, wedding vortex. Swirling yards of fabrics in all various whites, flowers, photographers, musicians, decisions, etc.

And it can get daunting. However, there are some things I've learned:

1. Sometimes making decisions can be difficult. Once you go in one direction, all those other directions you were entertaining in your head are shut down. You might worry about all your stockpiled "what if?"s.
THROW THOSE OUT. Once you've made your decision, feel a sense of well-earned confidence and don't look back. There's about a million more decisions coming up, so you don't want to keep stockpiles of "what if?"s in your head. That's precious mental room for keeping cool, planning a honeymoon or just maintaining your sense of self through this process.
On that note: there are MILLIONS of wedding blogs and resources out there. It's really fun to look through them, find ideas you like and tailor them to your own affair. But I strongly suggest that after a certain point, like once you've settled on certain decisions (date and venue, overall look or feel of wedding), you take a break (you can go back to looking if you want to after a break, but don't make yourself nuts). By then, you've probably got yourself a laundry list of possible flower arrangements, invitation ideas, favors, decor. Just take a couple weeks off from the wedding porn (and maybe even talking about wedding stuff with your partner) and just chill. This allows some time for all that information you've absorbed to convalesce. You'll then be able to approach your decisions with fresh eyes and a clear brain, thus making decisions a lot simpler.

2. I'm pretty sure that every engaged couple is met with resistance from well-meaning friends and family at least once during the wedding planning process. The key here is to always remember it is well-meaning! They've been to weddings where they thought something was so fun, it's now a "must have" for them. They are just trying to share that sense of fun with you. What they might be forgetting is that this wedding is yours and your partner's, and will be different from any wedding out there, so the "must haves" for one well-meaning friend/family member might be a "not necessary" or "not wanted" in your case. So, stick to your guns on this, and with a gentle firmness, let them know you're not interested. Sometimes being polite and gracious in the face of all this "help" can be daunting, but it's important to keep things cool while standing firm.

3. Just because you and your partner want something a certain way doesn't make you a bridezilla. I've watched a few episodes of that show, and unless you've turned into some sort of psychotic mega-jerk, intent upon terrorizing anyone within your sight-lines (partner, family, friends, wedding planner, etc), then you're probably not a bridezilla. If you are particular about something, it doesn't make you a bridezilla (unless you start psychologically damaging those trying to help you). Always try to maintain your cool and stand firm in your decisions. Remember that this is supposed to be about you and your partner. Doing things your way is going to make this a very happy event for you guys. And come wedding day, your guests aren't going to care about all the things they didn't even know was on the table at one point or another. Weddings are supposed to be full of all the people who love you best,  and they're going to love you weather you have a 10 piece band or an iPod playlist. So, don't be afraid to hold onto what you REALLY want for your wedding. Keeping things about you and your partner never makes you a bridezilla.

4. Wedding magazines, on the whole, SUCK. They are full of over-blown outrageous fantasy weddings (most of which I find garish) and not much in the way of real-world practical information and help. The only one I've found that is actually helpful (and now contains my notes and scribbles in it's margins) is Real Simple's 2010 Weddings issue. Online is more information too. The issue costs more (about $14) but that's because it's not choked with advertisements. There's a really helpful time-line in there, broken down month by month so you know that however many months from your date, such and such should be taken care of. There's info on how to keep things on a budget while being stylish, things to think about, questions answered, etc. Also, it's just one issue so you're not over inundated with information. It's been really helpful.

5. The wedding industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. That's per year. It's insane. Weddings have become a fetishized affair. Advertising for weddings has become really clever at making brides feel that they should pull out all the stops and spend loads of money they don't have on a one-day party. This is not to say this day shouldn't cost something and shouldn't be given a special priority in your life. It should. It's so joyous and amazing to promise to love your partner forever and build a life with them! It's beautiful that you want both of your families and all your friends to bear witness to this momentous event! But these sentiments are intangible, so there's nothing to buy or sell for it. The wedding industry works to make you feel that you need to express these intangible feelings through lots of needless and expensive crap or you're somehow NOT expressing your love enough or NOT providing a good time to your family and friends. THIS IS A LIE. Wedding vendors charge thousands of dollars for something because they know they can. But if more people start demanding that they bring their prices down, the landscape of the industry will change. ($2000-$3000 for flowers? Crazy. Especially when farmer's markets or Whole Foods sells gorgeous flowers for $10 or less per large bouquet. Remember that part of what you're paying for is delivery and expertise, but understand that they're only flowers).

The handmade movement is already pushing for industry changes. There are more and more handmade weddings happening, be them either 100% handmade or incorporating certain hand done elements and ideas. This is usually cheaper (the labor costs fall to you and your willing friends and family) and will definitely be unique to your own day. If you're a designer, who says you can't design your own invites and favors? Who says you even need favors? If you're not artsy, there are plenty of easy and simple DIY project instructions to be found online and Etsy is a huge marketplace for crafty and artsy people who are specializing in making wedding items (dresses, decor, invites, favors, etc). A little research can yield great options that are budget-friendly. Additionally, small local businesses that do wedding stuff can be really flexible about staying in your budget. For example, we recently met with Hana & Posy as a possible florist. They are eco-friendly, local and run by two wonderful women who are about 30 or so. They really listened to what we were saying and are keen to stay in that budget. Additionally, when we asked what their professional opinion was regarding flowers for our reception site (they're familiar with our venue), they didn't try to foist extra goods on us. They agreed that our venue doesn't really need much in the way of extra decor and that a little can go a long way. Additionally, our photographer, Melissa Chinici, was the same way - didn't start talking me into extra hours or options, listened to what we want and how long our day is going to be, and agreed that her least expensive package (starting at under 1K!) is plenty for what we want. So, all in all, there are options for a frugal bride. Stylish, professional and fun options.
So just because the wedding budget gods dictated that (insert wedding vendor service) should cost about (insert percentage of wedding budget here) doesn't mean you have to spend that. There are vendors out there, like photographers and florists, who either start with a reasonable package price or are more than willing to work with you on your budget. So mention your budget (even if it's far below that industry sanctioned percentage) and see what they can do.

6. HAVE FUN. This is a unique time in your lives. Enjoy it. Don't forget to be a couple, as you were pre-engagement. Don't forget to go on dates, romance each other, and take breaks from wedding planning. Don't forget to work on other things, like your hobbies or projects, or other goals you have as a couple. The wedding is one day. The marriage is hopefully forever. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I join you again, my unemployed brethen.

Well, after just a mere 2 months back in the employment saddle, I was thrown off. Being laid off once sucked. Being laid off again, in such short order, makes me feel so weary and battle-worn. I know it's not personal, being laid off. It's business, and apparently business is a bit bust right now.
What's so especially difficult is that we'd begun to plan things, to save, to work towards our goals. When I was laid off for nearly a year, that kind of stuff, "future stuff" was put on the back burner. It was entirely about how to budget, to scrape by, to handle the next month or two, and anything beyond the ends of our noses was just too much to consider. Having a job again took a lot of pressure off of us, especially Brendan, which made me feel like the kind of partner I want to be for him. I was able to relax into myself again, and able to feel like a real and productive person, a contributing member of my two-person team, instead of feeling like a total looser. 
I am dreading my engagement party in a few weeks now. People will ask how I'm doing, ask about plans, ideas, my life...what will I say? That I'm so stressed out by everything anymore that I barely sleep most nights? That my jaw clicks because I clench it constantly? That I feel powerless in my own life? That I'm afraid of the future or rather, afraid I don't have one?
No, of course not. I will probably be ok by then. I will probably have gotten past some of this and feel able to manage the rest.
I'm probably just feeling sorry for myself. It's not the worst thing in the world. It just really fucking sucks right now.
Excuse me. I'm going to go wallow with my dog now. Her fuzzy belly will heal my broken pride.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

One Disaster at a Time

Pictured here is a 30"x30" wall quilt (there's a built in sleeve for hanging on the back) that myself and the other members of my artist collective, The Midwives Collective & Gallery, stitched to raise money for our chosen charity: Midwives for Haiti. Each block was done by a different member (though Christiana did the two of the cat and dog dreaming and I did two, the middle stylized flower and below that, the fish scales). But anyway, it's wonderful to have various styles and visions come together into one piece. Additionally, this quilt is being raffled off into the beginning of July! All the $$$ from the raffle goes to Midwives for Haiti.

Now, I know that since Haiti was leveled by that terrible earthquake about 5 months ago, other horrific disasters have happened: Guatemala's sinkhole, Earthquake in Chile, Floods and Mudslides in Rio De Janeiro, BP's Gulf Oil Spill and we're only 1/2 way through 2010 (and of course, we're not done digging out of the global recession....). It's a bit overwhelming at times, rendering me completely helpless. But doing something like this quilt, as well as doing my own quest against Breast Cancer, makes me feel a bit like I can do something, that something is in my control to, if not completely fix, at least be a part of the solution and sending out something positive. And, wonderfully enough, you too can be a part of that positivity and purchase raffles for this quilt for CHEEEEEEEEEP (and know that you're helping pregnant women and new mothers have healthy babies).


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Last time I slept?

I'm not sure when was the last time I got a full night's rest. It's been weeks. 

*I hope to see everyone tomorrow, Friday, June 11th, to celebrate. :)