Monday, December 30, 2013

Creating A Calm, Quiet Bedroom with Soothing Neutrals. Or, Let's Sell This Place!

Hey, y'all! How was your Christmas? Did you drive four hours through snow and wear a gloriously tacky Christmas sweater?  Did you give any gifts that were a huge hit? What was the most-stolen item at your Dirty Santa game? My Christmas was peaceful and happy: I watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with my family, ate tons of gingersnaps and peppermint ice cream, glowed when my Mom got really excited about the scarf I knitted for her, and cried when she gave me a quilt sewn together from cross-stitch blocks my Grandma made before she died. Mom said Grandma completed the blocks with the intention that they be made into a wedding present quilt for me someday. Um, yeah. I cried like a baby.

And then I started thinking: "How can I incorporate my other Christmas presents into the resale-friendly look I'm working on for my bedroom?" I'm not going to completely redo my bedroom right now, but I do need to make it look more resale friendly. And the oatmeal-colored studded wool curtains and inky blue studded velvet pillow Keith gave me for Christmas fit perfectly with everything else I had planned. Yeah, I'm into studs right now. And no, I can't say that with a straight face. 

So here's the current plan. What do you think? 

Bedroom Design for ResaleThe current wall color was a mistake that makes the room look dark and small, so I'm going to paint the walls with Benjamin Moore's Opal paint. It's a warm, slightly pinkish white with a subtle yellow undertone. It should make the room look bigger and brighter.

The current fabric on the headboard is fun, but it's not for everyone. To give the bedroom more classic appeal, I bought light brown linen at Textile Farics' last 50% off sale to reupholster the headboard. I'm going to use nailhead trim on it, too. 

To create some pleasing-to-the-eye symmetry, I thrifted an incredible pair of vintage Stiffel lamps. They're going to look so sharp with black shades. I'm craving the contrast of black and white, so this is my favorite part of the plan.

I'll be honest: It's a more sophisticated look than I've done before, and I'm not sure I can pull it off. It's kind of... I don't know... straight from a catalog. Part of me is thrilled at the prospect of having such a grown-up looking bedroom, and another part of me wonders if it's too generic. Where is the mountain of pillows? Where are the novelty fabrics and all the books?! But it's time for a new year and a new look, and I'm ready for a change. Besides, if everything goes as planned, I won't be sleeping there long. This is how the room looks now. It's kind of a mess, and painting is an even bigger mess. It's going to get worse before it gets better. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Old Family + New Family = Happy Christmas

Skulls, butterflies, and Christmas kitsch! My favorite Christmas decor of 2013, as seen at Apartment Therapy.
I feel like the luckiest. I'm preparing to celebrate my first Christmas as Mrs. Williams with my parents, my husband, and my new Williams family. I'm so glad Keith's family decided to come to Nashville so we could all celebrate together. I treasure the traditions I share with my own family: Silly trinkets in stockings, peppermint ice cream, Chevy Chase, and wildly inappropriate holiday music (Zero by the Smashing Pumpkins does NOT qualify as "A nice song about God," but the expression on our mother's face was so, so, so worth it).

I love my new family too, so I'm looking forward to creating new traditions with Keith. I hope he's up for a cutthroat after-dinner game of Settlers of Catan for, oh, the next 50 years. Everything feels (almost) complete. If my sisters were here, it would be perfect. Kelly and Erin, I'm thinking of you today.

Whoever you are, and wherever you are, I hope you have the same sense of contented joy today. Happy Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

What's Black and White and Beautiful All Over?

THESE ROOMS! Now that I'm spending so much more time at home, I'm itching to redecorate. But the condo won't be our home for much longer, so it doesn't make sense to do any serious decorating that goes beyond staging. Since what I have in mind is too edgy for staging, I'm filing my plans away for use in our next home. Sadly, this includes the bedroom concept I came up with in May (and then promptly moved to the back burner in favor of wedding plans). 

In the meantime, I'm happily planning and finding inspiration. These pictures make my heart sing:

From the dark fireplace and cornice to the Carrera marble coffee table to the black and white Natural History prints to the pheasant feathers to the showstopping chandelier, this is perfection. Just replace the white upholstery with greige fabric to hide the dog hair, and I'll move in. Via Lonny.
That chandelier! That spiky, dangerous, menacingly beautiful chandelier! It looks like something from a gothic fairy tale. Can't you imagine Sleeping Beauty's castle at the center of it? This simple room would be the perfect backdrop for one or two very special curiosities and antiquities. Normally I'm put off by perfect symmetery, because it makes me feel like if I walk into the room, I'll ruin the balance. But this is lovely. Via Lonny.
Black Hitchcock chair + White walls = High Drama. I'm on the lookout for black Hitchcock chairs. Six years ago I found
a beautiful set of black Hitchcock chairs for a song, and I passed them up. I'm still kicking myself for it. Via Lonny
For living spaves, I'm consistently drawn to sparkly chandeliers, white marble, botanical prints, dark wood floors, pale neutral upholstery, dark wooden trim, and wooden furniture with a dark brown finish. The most consistent element in all my inspiration pictures is high contrast, with lots  of black and white and few bright colors. So here's hoping our future living room looks something like this!

Classically Styled Black and Neutral Living Room
The sofa is the same one we have, but with different upholstery. I'm a firm believer in getting a good
sofa and reupholstering as needed, so I feel like I can ALMOST check the sofa off our list. Almost.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Came Early: Santa Made Me a Housewife.

I recently made a life-changing decision: I consciously chose to leave the workforce. Yes, I did it on purpose. And no, I don’t have another job lined up right now. It might not be a permanent change, but for now I’m going to to prepare our house for sale, manage the move, get us settled into a new house, and then reassess the situation. And right now, I love it.

It's time for some real talk about women, work, and how we define ourselves, y'all.

The most uncomfortable thing about leaving my job was my fear of what other people would think. Like it or not, we’re defined by our work. When you meet someone new, the first thing they ask is “What do you do?” If I wasn’t working outside the home, would they assume I’m stupid? Would they think I’m a sad, repressed person who has no life? Would they think I’m lazing in my nightgown eating chocolates all day? I was honestly afraid of this.I’m literally the only childless stay-at-home person in my friend group, so I don’t have a personal frame of reference.

But I decided not to live in fear of other people’s opinions.

And this choice makes sense for us for so many reasons.

The first reason is that my job wasn’t working for me anymore. My position at the library had snowballed into three times the job I was originally hired to do, but without a corresponding pay raise or an extension of my hours. It was nearly impossible to do all my work in the allotted time. I was always anxious and snappish when I was at work, and I came home brittle and angry. To add insult to injury, my paychecks were painfully small.

The second reason, believe it or not, was money. When we took a hard look at the numbers, we saw that I could add more value to our net worth by quitting my low-paying job and spending the next few months repainting, doing home repairs, and staging our condo so we get a better price when we sell it.

Mind blown, amirite?! It’s crazy to think that you can add more value to your household by NOT working outside the home. But if your paycheck is low enough, it might be true. I keep finding little examples of this. Like yesterday, when I groomed our dogs and realized that we used to spend more money on dog grooming than I earned in a day. Cha-ching! Not working outside the home is paying off.

The third reason is warm, fuzzy, and impossible to quantify but infinitely valuable: Quality time. When we were both working, my husband came home from work and said Hi, then went in opposite directions to do chores and run errands. We usually didn't eat dinner until 10:00, and we usually ate crap food from a box. Real food? Ain't nobody got time for that!

But now when he comes home, everything is already in order, so we can spend more time together. We eat dinner at dinnertime. Evenings are *gasp* spent relaxing. And best of all, WE’RE NOT EATING CRAP FOOD OUT OF BOXES ANYMORE. I can’t begin to tell you how happy that makes me. 

Before I left the library, we considered all the options. One of those options, of course, was to hire someone else to help around the house. It would've taken the pressure off of us at the end of the day, but it didn't address Problem #1. It hardly seemed prudent to work at a job that made me sad so I could pay someone to do the things that make me happy.

Because here's the crazy thing: I actually enjoy cooking and cleaning and general domesticity. That shouldn't be a surprise, since  a significant portion of my blog is dedicated to home decor. I'm more Martha Stewart than Marissa Mayer, and I'm okay with that. Furthermore, I'm lucky to be married to a dude who enthusiastically appreciates what I do at home, and his gratitude makes me glow. I don't feel like a downtrodden domestic drudge; I feel valuable and appreciated. Maybe it's just an extension of newlywed bliss, but right now my passion is making our house a happy home.

Not everyone shares that passion, and I know my passion raises some eyebrows. I was especially aware of that two weeks ago, when a friend asked me if her journalist buddy could interview me. Why? Because she’s writing an article for Cosmo about women who embrace the Lean In movement, and women who have chosen “an alternative to the movement.” At first I just laughed. I didn't realize that being a housewife is so radical these days! But I was game for it, and I enjoyed our phone interview. She kept repeating one thing I said that seemed to resonate deeply with her: “It seemed foolish to work a job that made me unhappy so I could pay someone else to do work I love.

I suppose that line sums up my experience right now: Right now I'm doing what I love, and it makes me happy.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book Review: The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon

I love classic fairy tales, and The Fairest of Them All is a fairy tale in the most classic sense. The author, Carolyn Turgeon, combines two familiar stories to spin a unique yarn, but this doesn't feel like a contrived retelling. The Fairest of Them All could have come straight from the Brother Grimm, because it's exactly what a fairy tale should be: It's sexy and visceral, intense and a little scary, and there is no saccharine Disney ending.

Best of all, it's built around a brilliant premise. Turgeon took a hard look at fairy tales, populated with beautiful maidens, jealously cruel middle-aged women, and wizened crones, and asked herself "What happens to the beautiful young fairy tale heroines who are so prized for their youth and beauty? When they grow up, what do they become?" In this story, Turgeon's Rapunzel grows up to become Snow White's wicked stepmother.

Take a moment to let that sink in. Poor, imprisoned Rapunzel grows up to be the jealous former beauty who demands an innocent child's heart. Isn't that brilliant?! As she tells the story, Turgeon drops tantalizing bits of information that create lots of questions, and I eagerly followed them all like breadcrumbs. How does Rapunzel go from innocence to bloodlust? What secret is the witch hiding from Rapunzel, and who are her true parents? What is the significance of the stag that Rapunzel shot in the woods, and why does the witch encourage Rapunzel to eat the dripping red flower that grew from the fallen stag's heart?

Turgeon's Rapunzel isn't a weak captive; she is a powerful sorceress and loves the witch as if she was her own mother. They have worked side by side since Rapunzel was a small child, and the witch has taught Rapunzel everything she knows about magic and healing. Together, they tend a magical garden and use the fruits of their labor to assist desperate women who covertly seek their help with straying lovers and sick children. The earthy descriptions of their verdant garden, well-stocked root cellar, and the beautiful but dangerous forest surrounding their home are some of my favorite passages in the book. Rapunzel's world is a gorgeous place, and I was happy to visit it.

Turgeon delves into personal, powerful emotions, especially when she describes full-body lust, a mother's grief for her stillborn child, and the rage of a spurned wife. It would have been so easy to veer into purple prose. But she uses straightforward language, nothing ridiculous or flowery, and that makes the emotions completely believable. As Rapunzel becomes more deranged, the first-person perspective made me squirm. I didn't want to be in her head! And that's not criticism; I consider that to be the mark of a very talented writer. If a book can't make me feel, then perhaps it isn't worth reading.

The Fairest of Them All, however, is well worth your time. It's intelligent, dark, and lush, and I'm looking forward to reading more of Turgeon's work. I have one final comment: The cover art is awful. Is that a Barbie head floating on a sea of glitter? I think it is, and I encourage you not to judge the book by its cover. Edit: I just received a very kind e-mail from Carolyn Turgeon. Squeeee! She says, "Yes. It is a Barbie head floating in a sea of glitter. Worst cover ever. Tried to fight it and lost!" Hehe, I'm so glad we're in accord.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Laurendy Home Holiday Gift Guides

How is your Christmas shopping going? If you're stumped as to what you should buy your favorite person, check out the holiday gift guides at Laurendy Home. Lauren has rounded up the best gifts for guys, girls, kids, people who deserve to splurge... and she was kind enough to let me write up a post on gift-giving for newlyweds. Thank you, Lauren!

But scratch what I wrote: If anyone wants to give me the gorgeous end table from Z Gallerie that Lauren recently mentioned... the one with gold legs that look like arrows... I won't complain!

Deck the Halls! Stockings Add Holiday Cheer.

I nearly Scrooged out this year on Christmas decor: Our place is feeling so small that I didn't want to cram in any more stuff. But even in the smallest home, there's always room for Christmas stockings. Neither Keith nor I had a stocking, and I was concerned: Where would Santa put the jewelry and plane tickets to London?! Ha. 

So last week I picked up a pair of silver stockings at Family Dollar for $2.00 apiece and decorated them with stuff lurking in my craft stash. For a $4.00 project, I'm quite pleased with them. I decorated Keith's stocking with feathers that remind me of the embellishments on men's hats, and I used flowers and glittery fronds for my own stocking.

Hint hint!
It's been such a full week: I saw Dax Riggs and Animal Collective play last weekend (no, not together!). I finished knitting a baby blanket for a friend's tiny new son and a cowl for my mother. I was interviewed for a Nashville Public Radio story about house hunting in Nashville, and the criteria that are important to local home  buyers. NPR might do a follow-up story on me and Keith in a few months; I hope we've made progress by then! I've been Christmas shopping, I made butternut squash soup for the first time, and I'm counting the days until Christmas. 

Oh yeah, and last Monday was my last day at the library. But more on that later!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Book Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

What are you reading? I've been on a recent fairy tale binge, reading two retellings of Rapunzel back-to-back. Yeah, that's a lot of hair. First, I want to tell you about Cress, the third book in the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. Cress will come out on February 2, 2013, but my thoughtful friend Lauren gave me an advance reader copy of Cress because she knew I loved the first two books in this series. Thanks, Lauren!

This is not that kind of fairy tale.
In the Lunar Chronicles, Meyer mixes classic fairy tales with sci-fi (and a whole lot of Joss Whedon's influence!) to create mindbogglingly fun new stories that feel a lot like Firefly. So far, a cyborg Cinderella and her colorful band of outlaw allies have traveled from New Beijing to France, and then into space, in a bid to save the world from the evil Lunar Queen and her army of genetically altered soldiers who are part man and part wolf. Are you still with me? *grin*

Yes, it's silly... but it's a lot of fun!

Cress begins with the group rescues the title character from her satellite prison. Because in the future, evil queens imprison girls in space, not in towers. I loved that! Cress is a long-haired hacker who has been hidden in a satellite by the Lunar queen and forced to use her incomparable skills to spy on the people of Earth. Many years of solitude have made Cress more than a little loopy, and she thinks everything that happens to her is The. Most. Romantic. Thing. Ever. Cress is exactly what I look for in a book: She's a vividly imagined character with a quirky and well-defined personality, and her hilarious romantic delusions are one of my favorite things about this story.

The group does get Cress off of the satellite, but the rescue doesn't go as planned. Much of the story follows the separated characters as they trek through Northern Africa and try to reunite with each other. Unfortunately, I think the playful interactions between the main characters are the best moments in this series. So until the characters were reunited, the story dragged. I forced  myself to keep reading because I looked forward to their reunion, and when they finally came together again, it was all worth it.

Are you intrigued? Download the first five chapters of Cress for free, and see for yourself how much fun it is to travel the solar system with these characters.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Whimsical, Bohemian Cottage Full of Color

Exciting news: We're shopping for a new house! Imagine me doing jazz hands, because that's how I feel. At this point we're just looking online to gather information about neighborhoods and prices, but it's a start. We're seeing freshly renovated cookie-cutter dream homes, charming vintage bungalows, derelict foreclosures, and everything in between. 

But 245 Cherokee Road is a one of a kind gem. It's a large Tudor, built in 1928. It boasts elaborate woodwork and trim, arched doorways, hardwood floors, a beautiful screened porch, and the most unique paint colors I've ever seen. It's certainly not for everyone, and I couldn't live with these colors every day, but it has a magical quality to it. These colors shouldn't work. But somehow, they do. It reminds me of a Venetian carnival, a Moroccan kasbah, fairy tales, and Mrs. Frizzle from The Magic Schoolbus.

This is the one room I'm certain I could happily live with every day. Isn't it beautiful?
If this house was a person, I'd want to be friends with her. Heck, I wish one of my friends would buy this place so I could visit often. What do you think of it?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Black Amethyst Glass: "Think of what starlight And lamplight would lack Diamonds and fireflies If they couldn’t lean against Black..." *

What's your favorite color for glassware? Little Green Notebook's post about blue French opaline glass was pretty, but bright pastel colors just aren't my thing. Jadeite glass is beautiful, and of course I like the creamy, opaque look of milk glass, but my new favorite is black amethyst glass. Have you ever seen it? It's a very, very dark purple that looks black unless light shines through it; you can see a great example of that here. It's moody and mysterious, and I like that.

Black Amethyst Lidded Candy Dish sold by 22BayRoad on etsy
Black Amethyst Compote sold by catiques on etsy
Black Fenton glass candle holders sold by KelleysKottage on etsy
My milk glass collection is looking a bit too sweet and tepid for my taste, and I'd like to punch it up with a few black amethyst pieces and perhaps something shiny, like a pair of silver candlesticks. Coco Chanel said, "“Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony,” and I'm making this my styling mantra. I love strong contrasts, so I like the way black amethyst glass stands our against these pale backgrounds. What do you think of it?

* These beautiful lines are from Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O'Neill.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pear and Blue Cheese Soup is Rich and Sweet (Just Like Your Ideal Boyfriend)*

Fun fact: I love gritty pears and pungent cheese. So I was practically salivating when I found a recipe for Pear and Gorgonzola Soup in the new cookbook Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup by Maggie Stuckey. I'm happy to report that this recipe is easy to make and just as delicious as it sounds. Even Keith, who usually eats like a bird, had a second helping. And aside from the pears and cheese, you probably have all the ingredients at home:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 pears, cored and chopped
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth 
6 oz. blue cheese such as Gorgonzola or Roquefort
1/2 tsp paprika
1-1/2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
chopped nuts, for garnish

The copyright police might turn me into stone or steal my firstborn child if I post the entire recipe, so pick up a copy of Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup (hint: Your library might have it!), and put some delicious fall pears to good use.

*  You know I'm kidding about the "rich" part. I'd rather have smart and sweet!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Black, White, and Botanical All Over: Wild About Vintage Natural History Prints

It's no secret that I like antique botanical illustrations. So when I was shopping for a new iPhone cover, I was excited to see quite a few printed with this "Humble-bee" image. It's from The Naturalist's Library, a forty-volume set Natural History set edited by William Jardine and illustrated and published by William Home Lizars.

I first became aware of Lizars' work because I occasionally see the original plates from the book for sale on One King's Lane. I love the distinctive look of these illustrations, with the subjects standing out in vivid color against detailed black and white backgrounds.When the images are gently edited and given pristine white backgrounds, they look surprisingly modern. And due to the age of these works, they're in the public domain and all over etsy. Unfortunately, the etsy sellers often don't label the items with easily searchable terms, like "Lizars" or" William Jardin." But a persistent shopper with a penchant for natural history prints can find them.

The sunbathing fish crack me up.
"I was drawn before Poe wrote 'The Raven.'"
"No swimming in the deep end, Junior."
"Jen can't think of a caption for me."
More sunbathing fish:"Look, I got some color!"
"Acutally, I say none of those things."
"Can you guess which one of us used to be ugly?"
"Want to see my Miley Cyrus face?"
"I'm prettier than you."
Do you like what you see? Do you want to read more?

  • To read about the science of natural history in the 19th century, Carl Linnaeus and his classification system, and to see plates from The Naturalist's Library, visit the University of Otago's beautiful page devoted to all these topics. It's even organized into neat, pretty "Cabinets." 
  • For a good biograpy of William Home Lizars and a bounty of butterfly prints, visit CTG Publishing
  • For beautiful, cleanly edited versions of natural history plates, visit Restored Prints.
  • To purchase an original bookplate from The Naturalist's Library, visit Cathy's Antique Prints on etsy. Right now Cathy is offering 50% off orders of $25.00 or more with the code SAVEBIG50, so you can buy one for yourself and one to give as a Christmas present!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Joy Merryman's Vintage Inspired Designs for Modern Gadgets (and Many Other Things)

Big news: Last week I finally joined the other denizens of the 21st century: I got my first smartphone! I went from a long-discontinued LG Cosmos to an iPhone 5S. I feel like I went from flying a kite to manning a rocketship, and I love it. For starters, I'm finally on Instagram! And secondly, I had the pleasure of shopping for a new phone case. Have you seen the JoyMerrymanStore on etsy? It's full of the most beautiful things, with vintage imagery re-imagined in modern colors. These are a few of my favorites. Can you guess which one I bought?

Bumblebee Botanical iPhone Case. I believe this image is an engraving from The Naturalist's Library by William Home Lizars.
Woodland Rabbit iPhone Case
Custom Vintage Monogram iPhone Case.  Ms. Merryman designs custom monograms in the colors of your choosing. Fancy!
Vintage Floral ihone Case
Apothecary iPhone Case
If you like her work, but you're not in the market for a new gadget case, take heart: You can also purchase her designs on water bottles, mugs, stationery, tote bags, and journals in her etsy shop. If you'd rather buy t-shirts, aprons, pillows, mouse pads, dry erase boards, mugs, magnets, coasters, candy jars, place mats, or even flip-flops with her designs, you can find them in her Zazzle shop. This dart board, inspired by a compass rose, is possibly the best item in the shop. I like it because it's pretty, and Keith likes it because, as he says, "I'd play the crap out of that dart board!" Hmm, that might be going on his Christmas list.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Special Bottle Openers For the Classiest Bar Carts. Or, Mundane Objects that Aren't.

Robert Louis Stevenson said, "Wine is bottled poetry." In that case, how would you open your book of verse? I'd choose one of these whimsical silver bottle openers!* Aren't they pretty? A few nights ago, I realized I don't have a properly functioning bottle opener. I have a thing pretending to be a bottle opener, but if you use it, you'll see that it's really a useless piece of junk taking up space in a drawer. So I'm not being frivolous. I really need a one of these, y'all!

Figural Bottle Openers

I go crazy over typical household objects made to look like much prettier things.** Bottle openers are fine, but bottle openers that look like skulls, mermaids and tortoises are clearly better. Which one is your favorite? I can't decide between the key, the feather, and the skull. 

And can you guess which of these is a très cher Oscar de la Renta piece that costs $95.00 at Bloomingdale's?

* Technically, wine requires a corkscrew, not a bottle opener. But the quotes about beer aren't nearly as classy!

** Let's not even talk about that one week when I went temporarily insane for figural soup tureens and spent hours ogling them online, okay? That was kind of weird.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Book Review: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

stained glass photographed by davidhinchendesign on etsy
The Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson took my library by storm last year. One of my colleagues read it and told another person about it, who told another person, who told a library patron, and soon everyone was rolling their eyes to the sky and gushing, "It's so amazing!"

It's not that I didn't believe them--really, my colleagues have excellent taste--but since everyone wanted it, the hold list was too darn long! So I waited until the fuss died down and began reading the series in August. I finished it last month while we were on our honeymoon, and agree: It's so amazing.

Aside: Yes, I'm a crazy woman who cannot stop reading. Reading must happen, even while honeymooning! I was all, "Honey, let's go to the beach. Pleeeeeeease?" (So I can lay in the sunshine sipping fancy cocktails and reading books for hours.) But if that's crazy, I don't want to be sane!

Mistborn is wonderful because it's completely unlike any other fantasy novel I've read: It's a fantasy novel for people who would rather be reading about a jewel heist. No, really! As much as I love fantasy, I've grown used to the convention that the hero must (imagine a majestic trumpet flourish) go on a quest and (imagine an ominously booming timpani) face his fears to rid the world of evil. But in Mistborn, the hero went on a quest a thousand years ago--and failed. Evil won, and this is the story of what happened later.

The world has been divided into nobles and peasants who live like slaves. Among those peasants, a band of thieves is brought together by the charismatic Kelsier. Their goal? To pull off the longest con of all: Rallying the peasants, creating a distraction, eliminating the despotic and immortal Lord Ruler, and stealing his wealth. 

Kelsier drafts Vin, a paranoid orphan who has spent her life on the fringes of organized crime, because he can see that she has powers she doesn't understand. Vin is Mistborn, and she can use metal to break the laws of physics, push on people's thoughts, and see a few moments into the future--among other things. If she can learn to trust the rest of the group, of course.

I don't want to say too much, but this series has it all: Believable, funny, vulnerable characters, an alchemy-based magic system unlike any other I've seen, and a complex world with fully-developed cultures, politics, slang, and a peculiar fixation on stained glass (Hence the image I chose for today's post). Just when you think you know what's happening, it will surprise you--I promise. And then you'll want to read it all over again. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

We Do! Our Lakeside Wedding Ceremony

Hey, look! This one time, I was a really lucky bride who got to stand by the side of Old Hickory Lake on a beautiful day and marry the nicest, smartest, silliest, gentlest, most thoughtful man I know. And he looked really great in his gray suit. But I'm getting ahead of myself!

Early that morning, the back porch at my parents' lake house looked like this. I sat on the steps and sipped my morning coffee while my Mom painted my toenails. I kept channeling Jesse Pinkman and giggling like mad: "It's my wedding, bitches!" In a few hours, the back porch would be filled with friends, reunited family, happy chatter, and gold chiavari chairs. For a few peaceful hours, though, it looked like this. And it was glorious.

While friends and family took their seats, I waited in the house with our friends and my parents. Aside from a small worry that my tulle skirt might catch on the wooden steps, I don't remember feeling nervous until the processional music started, and then I just felt like I might cry out of respect and awe for what we were about to do.

Our friends walked out to The Luckiest by Ben Folds. I chose it because Ben Folds is one of the first musicians Keith really loved, and when Keith was younger he traveled to see him play on a regular basis. Our attendants stood at the front in order by how long we'd known them; the longer they'd been part of our lives, the closer they stood to us during the ceremony. So our newest friends, Lauren, Brent, and Stephanie walked out first...

Followed by a friend who values her online privacy very highly, so I'm not going to post her picture. Next our youngest siblings, Keith's brother Sam and my sister Kelly, entered...

Followed by Keith's brother Ryan and my sister Erin...

And finally our very best friends. Keith's friend Cal was his best man, and Samantha was my maid of honor.

Samantha's son Isaac was our ring bearer, and he was wonderful. He carried our rings so gently and carefully, and he ascended the steps very, very slowly. I think he was loving all the attention! I vividly remember the moment Sam told me she was expecting Isaac: Keith and I were on one of our first dates when I received the call. I was so excited, I went outside and jumped up and down and screeched on the sidewalk in front of 3 Crow Bar. Isaac and Keith came into my life at the same time, so it was surreal and sort of perfect to have Isaac carry our rings.

And then... the big reveal! I walked down the aisle to Flowers in the Window by Travis, and if you don't know that song I urge you to look it up on Spotify right now. I've put Flowers in the Window on at least half the music mixes I've made since I first heard it eleven years ago. And it describes exactly how I feel about our relationship: When we first met, Keith was sort of "a melting snowman," and being together has warmed and changed us both for the better. Once I selected it for the processional, I had to practice listening to it without crying--it wasn't easy.

I walked down the aisle with both of my parents. I don't believe in "giving away" the bride, but since both of my parents raised me, loved me, and showed me what marriage looks like, I was glad that they both showed their support for me and Keith by walking me down the aisle. Also, I kind of wanted someone on either side of me in case I stumbled on the steps. *grin*

And then it all clicked into place, and I don't have words for a lot of what happened next.

Keith's mother read "Union" by Robert Fulghum:

You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way.

All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, "When we're married", and continued with "I will" and "you will" and "we will" – all those late night talks that included "someday" and "somehow" and "maybe" – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.

The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, "You know all those things that we've promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word." Look at one another and remember this moment in time.

Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same. 

For after today you shall say to the world – This is my husband. This is my wife.

We did it!!! We exited to Do You Realize? by the Flaming Lips. We both felt completely JUBILANT!!!

All photos in this post are by Aaron Yung Photography.