Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wedding Inspiration: White Flowers, Twinkling Lights, Mercury Glass, and Apothecary Jars. Or, In Which I Talk About NOT Talking About Weddings Too Much, and then Talk About Nothing But Weddings Anyway.

Hi! Remember me? It's been a while. I realize that my upcoming wedding is a LOT more interesting to me than it is to everyone else. I don't want to be that girl who mindlessly babbles about chiavari chairs, menus, centerpieces, and mermaid versus ballgown silhouettes while everyone gives her the side-eye. I used to work with that girl. She sucked!
What librarian's wedding would be complete without a few books thrown into the centerpieces? Source
I'm trying not to bore y'all with wedding stuff, and as a result, I've dropped off the face of the earth. To stay sane and not entirely wedding obsessed, I started a knitting project and a redecorating project, but they're not ready to be revealed. And to top it off, I've been fighting a nasty case of bronchitis since Sunday! 
I want a sweetheart table! Source
So I'm going to share our wedding planning progress, because a )I'm so damn excited about it, and b) I don't have much else to tell you. And if you don't like it, I recommend checking out what Lladybird is sewing or what funny thing Kimmie has to say today or Karen's amazing house-flipping project. Let the wedding talk (and inspiration images) begin!
Mercury glass, white flowers, and white candles! Source
Last week I met Jim, the owner of Chef's Market, to do a food tasting and plan a menu. He does a lot of weddings, and his professionalism and experience are so reassuring--not to mention his enthusiasm for a lakeside October wedding! He rhapsodized about the one other lakeside wedding he's done in a way that made me feel really special and creative, as if I'd invented the damn lake myself. Working with Jim will make a bride-to-be walk away saying Why yes, I am completely amazing! How lovely of you to notice!
Distinctive linens! White flowers! And oh my god, that chandelier! Source
Since the wedding decor is to my taste, I wanted our menu to reflect Keith's tastes. I told Jim that Keith is a Texan who loves beef brisket and Nashville style hot chicken. Jim helped us craft the perfect menu and even offered to invent a new Hot Chicken Bite appetizer just for us. He was gleefully rubbing his hands together, like Yay I get to experiment with food! He loves what he does, and I loved everything I tasted. Any bride who chooses Chef's Market is in good hands.
I absolutely love love assemblages of vintage stuff.
This is how I incorporate my beloved phrenology head into our wedding! Source
Jim recommended Liberty Party Rental, so we met with them the following morning to choose tents, linens, tables, chairs, china, glassware, and flatware. Working with one company = Paying just one delivery fee. Here's an important thing to be aware of when choosing a party rental vendor: All of them charge a "Breakage fee" because guess what Captain Obvious, stuff might break. Some of them charge a redundant "Replacement fee" to replace anything that actually breaks. That is a total rip off and you should avoid those companies.
These natural elements would be perfect at the lake. Source
Liberty Party Rental isn't a rip off, and playing in their showroom was possibly the highlight of my week. We played Table Dress-Up! We took our favorite linens, china, and glassware, and set the table to see how it would all look together. And then we did it again, and again, and again. Tablescapes are just decorating on a smaller scale, y'all. The only thing that didn't impress me was the linen: I practically grew up in fabric stores, and I have very specific ideas about how fabric should look and feel. Mom agreed, and we decided she'd make custom runners that we'll place atop basic ivory tablecloths.
I'm not crazy about the barn setting or dark chairs, but I love the tablecloth.
It's very similar to the fabric I chose for our custom table runners. Source
We found the perfect fabric for the runners at Jo-Ann Fabrics on Monday, It's a super-swanky home dec fabric, but it's 50% off right now, so we're placing an order for massive quantities of it. Like, enough to smother an elephant. I ordered 10 yards of ivory felt, too, for making flowers. Soon it will be time for the fun part: Making the flowers and collecting the bell jars, apothecary jars, candles, candle holders, antique oddities, and vintage books that I'll use to dress the tables!!!
No wedding of mine would be complete without apothecary jars. Source
In between all of this crazy wedding stuff, Keith has been so supportive, creative, and funny. I feel closer to him than ever. He's full of inspiration right now for his own projects--think electromagnets, electrons moving through vacuums, and using centirugal force to... wait, it's not patented yet! I need to stop right there! But he's brilliant, and I love what he's working on. Best of all, I get it, and I like talking about it. I even gave him a few of the ideas he's incorporated into this project, and I'm proud of that. We bounce ideas off each other every night while weaving lots of quotes from Idiocracy into every conversation... And while I cough uncontrollably. I really want to kick this bronchitis soon!

P.S. MY VEIL ARRIVED YESTERDAY! I picked it up after work and wore it around the house for an hour before Keith got home because veils are really, really flattering, dammit. I want to wear it all the time. I was all, "Keith, want to see my veil?" NO HE DOES NOT WANT TO SEE IT. He's superstitious about NOT seeing my wedding gear before the big day. It's pretty cute.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 2013 Ipsy Bag: Pretty in Pink

For those of you just tuning in, Ipsy is a beauty subscription service. For $10 a month, Ipsy sends 4 - 5 surprise beauty products to your door in a cute cosmetics bag. They even mail it all in a sparkly pink envelope! Seeing that envelope in my mailbox always makes me jump up and down like a little kid. If you like trying new things, Ipsy is for you. 



Last month's Ipsy bag was a big disappointment, but the Pretty in Pink bag completely makes up for it. This is my favorite bag so far! I've been rocking the blushing bride-to-be look with flushed cheeks, full hair, and a bit of subtle shimmer, so I like everything in this bag. And two of this month's items are full size! It's a great value, too: It's worth three and a half times what I paid for it.

Sation Nail Polish (full size): $5.00
Be a Bombshell blush in Beach Please (full size): $16.00
MICABeauty Cosmetics eyeshadow in Earth (2.0 gram deluxe sample): $11.96
Big Sexy Hair Powder Play (0.07 oz sample): $2.11

TOTAL VALUE: $35.07
But is this stuff any good? Oh yeah.

The Sation Nail Polish is a slightly thin formula that goes on sheer, but 3 coats build up to create an opaque, Pepto Bismol pink nail.  It's not my favorite color, but it's a fun springtime novelty. I'm impressed by the polish's durability. With a topcoat, it looked perfect for four days. That's practically unheard of for me! It's versatile, too, since it can be worn sheer or not.

I loved the Be a Bombshell lip gloss in my first Ipsy bag, and the blush is just as good. It's INSANELY bright pink, but a very light dusting of it looks great on the skin. It's already become part of my daily beauty routine; I've worn it every day since I received my bag. A little goes a long way, so this will last a long time! This brand is quickly becoming a new favorite of mine.

The MICABeauty eyeshadow is a loose pink mineral powder with a gold sheen. It's very fine, and it creates a subtle but noticeable shimmer that  looks good on the eyes or as a highlight on the cheekbones. This is classy shimmer, not stripper shimmer. It will make you glow!

As much as I like the other items, the Big Sexy Hair Powder Play is probably my favorite item... mostly because I can't figure out  how it works. It fascinates me! When I sprinkle it into the roots of my hair, flip my head over, and mess it up, the powder solidifies to invisibly support my hair. It's like having a spidersilk-thin skeleton supporting your roots. My hair stands up just enough to give it body, but not enough to make it look weird. When dry shampoo leaves me with flat hair, this stuff fixes it. I'll buy a full size bottle when this runs out.


There are two unusual things about this month's bag that are worth mentioning: 
1. Ipsy started using DHL to ship their bags this month, and my bag arrived much later than usual. I'm not too concerned about that, because hey, the bag arrived. But that's a thing that happened.
2. I didn't receive the cute pink and white bag that other subscribers received this month. As you can see, my  things came in a blue, green, and white bag. Ipsy sent a note saying the original bag manufactured for me "didn't match Ipsy's high quality standards," so they sent me a substitute, and I'll receive the pink and white bag next month. I don't care, because I'm not really into the bags anyway. I'm all about the makeup! If I could choose to forego bags altogether and receive more makeup, I would.


That concludes this month's Ipsy bag review. I heard other subscribers received different eye shadow and hair products. What did you get? Did you like it?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Beaches, Leis, Mai Tais and Mickey Mouse... We're Taking a Disney Hawai'ian Honeymoon!

Aulani Resort Beach ... Can I go there NOW? Please?
Keith booked our Hawai'i honeymoon on Sunday afternoon. His parents offered us some of their Disney Vacation Club points as a wedding present so we can stay at  Aulani, a Disney Resort on O'ahu. UM YES PLEASE OMG THANK YOU! My future in-laws are the nicest. I'm excited because O'ahu is next to Kauai, where they filmed Jurassic Park. We're going island hopping and dinosaur hunting! Okay, time to gank pictures of Aulani and Hawai'ian beaches for your viewing pleasure.
Whoa.
It was surreal to listen to Keith planning the practicalities: "We'd like to be there one full week. No, I think we'd like to fly out the morning after the wedding. Jen's last name won't be legally changed yet, so let's let's book it with her maiden name." Keith's mom really wanted to give me their last name on the travel documents--she said she's just so excited that I'm joining their family. When Keith told me that, I nearly cried!

Kauai! I can't wait to hike a volcano.
Want to know something strange?

On Sunday night, I felt unexpectedly sad while browsing through a wedding planning/vendor guide booklet. Each two-page spread featured a real wedding and promoted the venues, caterers, photographers, and planners that brought the event together. I looked at each page and thought No, I don't need that. No, I've already chosen my photographer. No, that Botanical Garden is beautiful but I don't need a venue anymore. I didn't understand... why was it making me so sad?! I felt like I was about to cry, and it was weird.

Oahu isn't too shabby, either!
I'm the oldest of three girls, and I grew up in a family that encouraged a lot of wedding talk. When we'd walk past a jewelry store, Mom would encourage us to look in the windows and pick our favorite rings. When we'd visit a beautiful place, Mom would always say things like, "Maybe one of you girls will get married here," or "Wouldn't this be a nice place to have a reception?" And this was when we were eight years old.

Aulani at night
Usually we'd roll our eyes at her and laugh. But in the same way that it's fun to plan an outfit for a party or create a decorating scheme for a room, it was fun to think about what we might want to do for our weddings someday. It was girlish daydreaming, full of what if? Anything was possible, and any pretty picture in a magazine represented something that I might do or make for myself someday. But now that time is gone. I'm not a girl daydreaming about what my wedding might be like someday. Now I'm a woman who knows what my wedding will be like, because it's happening in six months and I've booked half the vendors. I was sad because I enjoyed that time of hopeful daydreaming, and it's over now.

Aulani has horseback riding!!! YESSSSSSS!
When I told Keith how I felt, he was so encouraging and sweet: "Now the adventure begins! We'll just have to plan more special things. More vacations and parties and things we can look forward to doing together." Is he a gem, or what? Still, I think it's going to take me a minute to get over this. Did anyone else feel this way when they got married? Was it bittersweet to let go of all the pretty possibilities you didn't choose and all the fairytale what ifs?

Monday, April 15, 2013

When is a Fairy Tale a Sci-Fi Time Travel Novel? When It's Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper!


I often wonder why some books rise above others and become paragons of their genres and part of the literary canon, while other equally engaging stories are read, loved, awarded, and then all but forgotten by the literati. Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper, originally published in 1991, sheds some light on the phenomenon: Beauty is an imaginative story that marries classic fairy tales, time travel, faerie myth, environmentalism, and feminism. Keith and his mother both love this book, and I read it at their behest. It's an engaging story, but it often loses its focus and is encumbered by ham-fisted political diatribes. It's a shame; I think a more tightly edited version of Beauty could have become a timeless piece of literature.

The title character is born in the 13th century to a French Duke and a beautiful fairy who abandons the family soon after Beauty's birth. The reader quickly surmises that Beauty is known to most of us in the 21st century as Sleeping Beauty. But our protagonist neatly sidesteps her somnolent fate and goes on a quest to find her mother. Meanwhile, the rest of her household are in the throes of a deep, enchanted sleep.

Beauty experiences events that inspired classic fairy tales, and the differences between the Disney stories and Beauty's experiences are often very funny. The grim events Beauty witnesses in the future are sobering, and Tepper's take on the Faerie world is chilling. Tepper's talent is obvious; a lesser writer couldn't make the reader feel so deeply.

But Tepper often interrupts her story to beat the reader about the head with a variety of themes: Ugliness is steadily replacing beauty in our world as species die out and natural settings are destroyed! True. Authors who write horror stories bring another kind of ugliness into the world (I'm not entirely sold on that point)! Rape is bad! Thank you, Captain Obvious. 

I wish Tepper had narrowed her focus to just one theme. As it stands, the story lacks cohesion. And once Tepper chose a single theme, I would have liked for Tepper to show, rather than scream, this theme. A bit of subtlety and restraint go a long way with such screamingly obvious topics!

Despite the lack of focus and clumsy political rants, I like this book. I fell deeply into the worlds Tepper builds, and I admire the dexterous means by which she connects these separate worlds into a smooth, convincing story. Unlike many Goodreads readers, I had no trouble keeping track of characters, times, or places. Each one has such unique characteristics, it's easy to remember who is who! When I finished the story, I felt like I was leaving friends behind. Read this book for the new version of old fairy tales, and please forgive it for its lack of subtlety.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Here Comes the Bridal Librarian: I Bought My Wedding Dress! I Wonder If It Will Look Good with a Cardigan?

I bought my wedding dress on Monday, and once it's had some minor alterations, it's going to be perfect. It's surreal; I can't believe I found my dress in just one day! To be honest, I wasn't terribly thrilled about wedding dress shopping. I expected it would be a lot like swimsuit shopping: Everything would make my boobs look weird, I wouldn't find anything ideal, and eventually I'd settle for something that was less horrible than the others. Isn't that sad? 

So I approached dress shopping with grim military precision: I pinned dozens of dresses I like and listed the precise qualities I like about them. Then I made a separate list of the cuts and styles that are most flattering on me (with this book in one hand and a measuring tape in the other, you can't go wrong). Then I Venn Diagrammed the two lists to come up with the criteria that would create The Perfect Jen Dress. OCD much? Um, yeah. *grin* These dresses were my inspiration.
Onyx Gown from BHLDN: Tulle ballgown skirt! Tiny waist and embellished bodice! STRAPS!
I wanted a big ballgown style dress with a tulle skirt, lots of embellishment on top, and straps or sleeves. I went to the dress shop armed with this list of criteria. Since one of my criteria was NO STRAPLESS DRESSES, I did not go to the dress shop armed with a strapless bra. BIG MISTAKE.
Aspen Gown by San Patrick: Tulle Ballgown! Cap Sleeves! Sweetheart neckline!
My mother and I visited a well-known Brentwood bridal boutique that carries big name designers. Almost all the dresses were strapless. In a cruel twist of fate, the strapless dresses fit my other design criteria regarding silhouette, embellishment, etc. But the non-strapless dresses did not meet any of my other criteria. They were all mermaid style dresses. BUMMER! The proprietress assured me that she could add sleeves and straps to any dress I liked, so I began trying on the strapless tulle ballgowns. With my big vintage style, full-coverage, non-strapless bra. Awkward.
Artico Gown by San Patrick: Tulle Ballgown! Embellished Bodice! Not Strapless!
She didn't offer me any other undergarments, and each time I stepped out of the dressing room, I looked and felt like an idiot. The entire shop was the size of my living room, and it was crowded with prom shoppers. They all stared in horror at my grandma bra. It was creeping out of the ballgowns like it was trying to eat my chest. I stepped onto the platform, and the proprietress asked how high my wedding heels would be. I said, "Oh, I'm wearing flats." She clutched imaginary pearls and said, "OH!" This shop was making me feel like a freak. It was time to go.
Parker Gown by David Tutera for Mon Cheri: Tulle ballgown! Not strapless! Are we sensing a trend?
I mouthed "Get me out of here!" to my mother. She followed me to the dressing room and offered me Xanax. WTF?!?!?! Oh, Mom. Mom, Mom, Mom. Pills are not the answer! I told her, "I don't need drugs. I need a dress store that doesn't make me feel like a weirdo." We left and looked for another place to try on dresses.

I didn't really want to go to David's Bridal, because I'd heard their quality isn't great and that their salesladies act like high-pressure used car salesmen. But all the other boutiques were closed on Monday, so we went there just to look. We stealthily slipped by the front desk while the salesladies were distracted by other customers, congratulated ourselves on our sneakiness, and started greedily pawing through their dresses. Without any salespeople hovering over me, dress shopping was a lot more fun!
Casablanca Bridal 2091 Gown: Tulle ballgown! Straps! Pretty belt!
They had more non-strapless styles than I expected, and a dizzying mix of high and low quality dresses. But I found half a dozen dresses made of good quality fabric that fit my criteria. Armed with proper undergarments, I began playing dress-up. The sixth dress I tried was The One. Ohmygoodness, was it ever The One! When I stepped out of the dressing room, my mother made a hilariously emotional face. I loved what I saw in the mirror. Other shoppers came over to admire me. I felt like a peacock and a princess and a celebrity rolled into a single poofy white tulle package. 
Wedding Gown by Orkalia: Sparkly tulle! Long sleeves! Embellished bodice! MY FAVORITE.
I preened for about 45 minutes. I examined it closely, asked questions about some minor details that I'll change, and had it bustled. I chatted with my dad on the phone: "You found a three foot long snake skin in the basement? COOL! Hey, guess what I found? My wedding dress! But enough about that. What kind of snake do you think it is?" I tried the dress on in a larger size to see what that might look like, but the size 8 was perfect. My mother took a dozen pictures and sent them to my sisters. I bought the dress and a mantilla style veil, and I'm so glad I don't have to think about it anymore! Now I can start focusing on the reception decor, woo-hoo!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Kate Spade's About Town Dinnerware Is So Cute, It Will Make You Play with Your Food.

I'm dipping my toes into the super-weird-for-me world of wedding registries. It's so strange to look at nice things and think Hey, that's something we might like to have instead of my usual Hey, I really like that but let's get real. It's not on clearance and I already have salt and pepper shakers. I wasn't excited about registeries, but that changed when I realized a) I'm not registering for fancy china because we are not fancy china people, and b) At some point in time, kitchenware become kind of awesome looking! Wouldn't it be impossible to resist playing with your food if you had all this cute stuff in your kitchen?
Kate Spade About Town dinnerware collection
This stuff evokes so many childhood memories. At first glance, it makes me remember Fisher Price Little People and Matchbox cars and the gritty urban look of the old '70s and early '80s Sesame Street. But when I look closer, I think of 1950s illustrations and Funny Face. Can't you imagine a tiny stick figure Audrey Hepburn gadding about this little cityscape with her perky ponytail defying gravity? Oh, I just love these!

WOULDJA LOOK AT THE PRECIOUS HOT DOG VENDOR.
.


!

The zigzagging fire escape makes my geometric-line-loving heart flutter.

TOYS! THESE ARE TOYS, I TELL YOU!
The fun stuff is meant to coordinate with this Lenox tableware set. I like the accessories best, though!
They're fun, but they're not cheap, so I'm reluctant to ask my friends and family to buy these as gifts. At $20 apiece, the mugs are the cheapest items in the collection, and a very large part of my brain screams Do you know how many mugs a person could buy at Goodwill for $20?! But aren't they fun to look at? Let's look. And look. And look. *sigh*

Oh yeah, and you guys? I bought my wedding dress on Monday. But more about that later!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Library Wedding That Will Never Be

Wedding planning is going so well, it seems unreal. We've chosen our photographer and caterer and venue, picked some colors, started making a wedding website, met with the friend who is designing our Save the Dates to discuss the design, and oh yeah, we set a date!!! We're getting married on October 5, 2013. When we decided to tie the knot at the lake house, we knew we'd either have to do it in October, or wait until next spring. But spring is too rainy, and summer is too hot, and fall of 2014 is too far away. So seven months from now, I'll be a married woman. WOW.

Everyone is asking me, "What are your wedding colors? What is your wedding going to look like?" Well. I'm keeping it a secret for now, but I can tell you one thing: As much as I love libraries, it won't look like this. *sigh*


I've been lurking Style Me Pretty and Green Wedding Shoes since Keith moved in last year. They've given me a lot of good ideas... But too many ideas. Above all, I want a cohesive design concept. I knew I couldn't have mason jar cocktails and DIY centerpieces and a suitcase card holder and a brooch bouquet without looking like Pinterest threw up on our wedding. And come hell or high water, I want my brooch bouquet!

!
I figured I can either have it all, or I can have cohesive, simple elegance. Sign me up for elegance! To rein myself in, I came up with two completely different design concepts and made a mood board for each.  When I finished the boards, I let Keith make the final decision. The library mood board did NOT make the cut. I only mourned for about 3 seconds. I love the dark, moody colors of leather-bound books, but it would've been hard to make this look work at outdoors, next to the water. And I reeeeeeeeally love the board he chose!

Can I tell you something funny? Before he even looked at the mood boards, he asked, "Will these ideas allow me to wear a charcoal gray suit with pale blue accents? Because that would look good with my eyes." Hahahahaha! WHAT MAN ASKS THAT?! My future husband, that's who. 

He's kinda cute. I think I'll marry him.
The weekend flew by. We saw Ponychase and Photo Ops and a ton of our friends at The Basement on Friday night. I was up by 7:30 the next morning to go to the library and work at an Arbor Day event. I was there until 5:00, got badly sunburned, and fell into a sunburn coma as soon as I got home. But wait, it gets better! On Sunday, Keith and I enjoyed a delicious brunch hosted by two of my favorite ladies, where the above photo was taken. Keith and I had massages at Adagio and sushi at Zumi, and then went to Fort Houston to work together on an exciting project that I'm not ready to unveil here yet. Will someone pinch me? Aside from the sunburn, life is perfect.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Why Should Girls Have All the Fun? Let's Put Engagement Rings On Our Men. MAN-GAGEMENT RINGS!

Keith isn't the only one who put a ring on it! Look at Keith's badass new, practical, useful engagement ring/gadget:

But I'm getting ahead of myself: It all started with the Spice Girls. No, really. My Anglophilia began with a high school David Bowie obsession that quickly grew to include Brit rock in general, and then British writers and slang, and finally even stupid British pop culture. I bought British teen mags by the armful because I loved the biting gossip. One of those gossip columns claimed that David Beckham proposed to Posh Spice, and then she turned the tables by pulling out a custom-made men's ring and saying, "Girl power! Will you marry me?" I was in awe of this maneuver. I swore that someday I'd pull a similar move.

Fast forward to 2009. Keith told me soon after we started dating that he wanted to wear an engagement ring someday. I thought Oh my God, he really IS perfect for me! With visions of Posh and Becks dancing in my head, I held in my glee and teased him about being a shopaholic. He said, "No, I want to wear a ring because I don't think it's fair for women to wear a symbol of their commitment while the men walk around looking single until the wedding day. I want to show everyone my commitment, too." My heart melted.

Fast forward to 2013. When it came time to think about rings, Keith wasn't much help in choosing one for himself. I didn't want to give him one that looked like a wedding band, since he'd get one of those later. He identified a lot of things he didn't like, but nothing he did like. His favorite thing at A.J. Martin was this Etruscan revival bracelet. I told him I wouldn't mind giving him a nontraditional token of engagement, but there was no way I could afford this. Also, can you imagine him wearing this to the office every day? *grin*

Sure, honey! A woman's bracelet can totally be your manly engagement ring! Except I don't have $4,800.
I wanted to give him something special and uncommon, just like him, so I turned to etsy. I found plain men's bands adorned with meteorite and dinosaur bone (AWESOME!), but they looked like wedding bands. I found signet rings, which Keith doesn't like, and genuine ancient Viking rings which are SO FREAKIN' COOL but weren't made in Keith's size. People were smaller back then! I was getting frustrated, and then I finally found Bruce Boone's shop.

As soon as I saw the utility ring, I knew it was right: It's a gadget and a conversation piece. It's useful and practical. It was made with lasers! And it's unusual enough that he doesn't know anyone else who has one. It's pretty much everything he loves. It's certainly nontraditional, and since there really aren't any traditions in place for men's engagement rings, who cares? I gave it to him on Tuesday, and he loves it.

There's something satisfying about looking at his hand and seeing it there. I think to myself, I did that. I put that ring there. Go me! Now I see why Keith keeps looking at my hand so proudly. It's fun to put a ring on it! I'm so curious to know... Has anyone else traded engagement rings with a man? Did he expect it? And if not, what did he think of it?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sugar 'n Spice Voxbox from Influenster


A few months ago, I heard about Influenster from Jana, who blogs at Button Munch. Basically, you create a profile, write some product reviews, and if they like what they see, they send you a box full of free stuff to try out and review. Um, they had me at free! I signed up in December, played with it a bit, and then forgot about it. A few weeks ago, I got a message saying I'd "qualified" to receive a box. Cue the fistpumps!

Soon after, I came home from work and found a super-random box of stuff from Colgate, Vaseline, belVita, Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel, and NECTRESSE sitting on my doorstep. Keith and I opened it together and marveled at the odd assortment. Want to know what was good, what was not so good, and what brought back random memories of the Smooze from the My Little Pony Movie? Read on! 

And hey, I have four Influenster invitations, so if you want one, leave me a comment with your e-mail address.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Engagement Ring Shopping in Nashville: My Gorgeous Ring Came from a Shop that Sells Squirrel Underpants. And I'm Totally OK with That.

A lot of people have asked about my ring, so here's a post dedicated to engagement bling. Let's all look at big shiny rings, woooo! I have a lot of friends who might be shopping for rings in the next year or so (you know who you are... wink!), and they also like intricate, antique-inspired designs with filagree, milgrain, and maybe some colorful side stones. I'm hoping this info will help all you cute vintage-loving Nashville lovebirds.

On our second date, Keith asked me if I like garnets, because his family was willing to pass down his great-grandma's garnet engagement ring to the right girl. Yeah, we both knew kind of quickly that we're meant to be. I never saw it, but I loved the idea of having a sentimental family ring. I was sad when Keith found out that the ring isn't in usable condition. 
Antique garnets are so lovely. This ring is from the 1840s!
Since his great-grandma's ring wouldn't work, I decided I wanted a ring that either is antique or looks antique, and doesn't have any bad karma attached. Keith did so well: My ring is an antique reproduction setting by J.C. Blackburn, purchased from A.J. Martin, with a conflict-free center stone from Blue Nile. Since the stone came from Blue Nile, I named her Cleopatra. I call her Miss Cleo for short. Yes, it's silly. No, I don't care!
Miss Cleo's professional headshot 
Our ring buying odyssey began in November at Genesis Diamonds. It was so intimidating! A security guard buzzed us in, and the saleswomen immediately separated me and Keith. They're really good at what they do: In just a moment they sized me up and decided the quirky saleswoman with the blue-black bobbed hair would click best with me. She steered me to a dazzling display of antique style engagement rings by Saturn Jewels, set with monstrous full-carat center stones, and encouraged me to try them all on at once and look at my hands in a mirror.