Monday, July 30, 2012



I am a wedding planner by day (and a mirad of other things by night), and while I try to spend most of my time talking about other things here on my blog, sometimes I just can't resist.  Sometimes, work and life just get mixed in together.  

Over the past couple years, I've attended a lot of weddings.  I've been present as guest, planner, and as a member of the wedding party.  I've been to expansive, glamorous $300,000 weddings and intimate , budgeted backyard affairs.  I've worked up close and personally with people's families and witnessed a lot of unfortunate situations.  I'd like to draw from that and offer a little kind advice.  These tips should apply to guests, family members, wedding party, and bride & groom alike.

1.  It's not about you.
That's right.  Are you in a big white gown? No? Then shush. The day is not about you and it's not about your agenda. I don't care if you're bosom buddies with the bride or one of the groom's "bros," this is the Bride and Groom's day. If you're there as a guest, blend in and have fun. If you're there as a family member, be supportive and loving, no matter what happens. You can always duke it out after they get back from their honeymoon. If you're there as a member of the wedding party, be attentive and do whatever the heck your Bride or Groom needs you to do. By agreeing to be an attendant, you should expect to "attend" to things and have responsibilities. And be responsibilities, I mean more than just showing up to the party. Don't say yes to "Will you be my bridesmaid?" if you aren't prepared to put forth a little effort. BUT . . . If you're the Bride or Groom, keep reminding yourself - it's just about the two of you. No matter what drama arises, try to let it go as the ceremony begins and remember: this only happens once!

2.  Don't get wasted.
There is never a worse time to be the sloppy drunk. I've seen it all, from vomiting into the bushes to broken stemware on the dance floor, but regardless . . . falling off your 6-inch stilettos isn't attractive, neither is taking off your shirt and "helicoperting" it over your head. I once saw an intoxicated guest walk his even more intoxicated girlfriend out to their car and put her inside to "sleep it off" because she couldn't stand on her own. What?? Drink and have fun, but be responsible. Marriage is to some a sacred ceremony, after all, not a bar crawl. And as the married couple - well, don't you want to remember the actual memories you're "making?" :)

3.  Feel honored to be there.
Whether you're a 3rd cousin or the Bride's twin sister, you made the guest list. For one reason or another, your presence was requested at this special event. Treat it as an honor, and don't be judge-y or bitch and moan. If it feels like an obligation, stay home. But if you do show, thank the Bride & Groom for inviting you and thank their families for hosting the event. Be a polite and courteous guest. Be a helpful extended family member or wedding partier. Set your own agenda aside, and enjoy the love that has brought everyone together on this day.

4.  Be conscious of people's spending limits.
No one wants to be put in a position where they have to draw the line and say "I'm sorry, I can't afford that." Especially when they know it's probably important to you (the host), that they be there. Be conscious of your friends, their incomes and expenses, and don't demand too much of them financially.  This applies to all angles. On your registry - make plenty of less expensive selections that single guests can afford. For the wedding party, keep in mind they not only have to buy a dress/rent a tux for the happy occasion, and often cross the country to get there, but they also have to foot the bill for the engagement showers and bachelorette/bachelor parties. It's rather tactless to invite the same people to multiple events, as it implies you expect them to bring you multiple gifts.  Your wedding shouldn't feel like a burden to anyone, least of all to you.

5.  Be conscious of people's limits.  Period.
Everyone has one. Vendor's should be perfect, but mistakes do happen. Family members are going to make faux pas in awkward situations. The Bride and Groom are probably going to overlook something, like inviting your significant other. A wedding day is a combination of some of the most extreme emotions people feel in their lives. It is the end of so many things and the beginning of so many others. It requires organizing usually a very large group of people, some there for fun and others there to perform a service, and that usually means a great deal of stress: tempers might flare and emotions will overflow. As a Bride or Groom, don't ask too much of any one person. Spread out the requests and favors amongst your closest friends and family members, don't be too demanding of one friend or one parent. Give them the chance to enjoy your day with you. As a member of the wedding party or family, remember that on top of managing a complicated day, the Bride and Groom are dealing with the full spectrum of emotions as they ready to make a staggering commitment to each other. Try to forgive them if they are a little abrasive or impatient with you. People have limits. Try to be conscious of them. And bottom line?  Let things go.

I like things in fives, otherwise my sixth item for this list would be - of course -

(6. Hire a Wedding Planner.)
Many of the above things can be avoided, or at least well-managed, but a competent planner. A good planner does make the wedding all about the Bride & Groom, while making the families and friends feel pretty special, too. A good planner keeps an eye out for those overly rambunctious guests, ensures  the bartenders pour responsibly, and that everyone gets on the shuttle home safely at the end of the night. A good planner does feel honored to be there - even as the hired help - because they  understand the magnitude of the day. And if a planner has limits, you should never see them.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dog Days

As always, today I'm over at Sunday Hatch for Fridays with Friends.  Today we're talking about how Mr Dog came to be Our Dog.  Check it out, 'cause he's so cute!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Let there be Light

Roughly 10 years ago, I visited my friend Christina at her family's home in San Marcos, TX.  We were, er,  Juniors in high school, perhaps?  I apparently (no personal recollection of this happening) admired two wall sconces she had in her bedroom, which she had fashioned out of antique wire cage light covers.

They looked something like the picture above, only she had the cage open at the bottom, and had flipped them upside down, from what you see here, to hold votive candles.  I thought it was brilliant, at least that's what she tells me now.  Again, I don't remember any of this first hand, but apparently I raved about them.  That Christmas, I gave Christina a gift, and in return Christina tried to give me one of her wire "sconces."  I refused, insisting that she then wouldn't have a pair, and they needed to stay together.  This is testimony to how awesome I must have thought they were, because I'm a pretty selfish person and usually when someone offers me something I want, I take it.  But if I wouldn't allow her to get rid of them, that's saying something.

Christina has felt badly about this for 10 years now.  The fact that I gave her a gift, and I didn't allow her to give me one in return has bothered her ever since.  This is just testimony to her generous nature, and attention to fairness, because she is still trying to give me things today.  Luckily for us both, a few days ago, she finally got the chance to unburden her guilt.

Since that day, Christina has been looking for another set of these wire bulb cages to make it up to me.  I had long forgotten we ever had that encounter, but had myself been hunting the past few years for something similar to use in our home.  I really love accenting with industrial looking pieces.  They have character, without being too prissy, and it works in old and modern homes alike.  I also try to be conscientious of not making my home too girlie, for Tim's sake, and touches of steel and exposed wiring certainly help with that!  (I might have to devot a whole separate post about my love of the industrial.)

I've seen multiple versions of this popping up all over at places like West Elm and Anthropologie.

via anthropologie

Do you see that price tag?  There was no way I wanted to shell out that much for just ONE of these babies.  Plus, these really belong in a group, as shown above, to have the full effect.  That would have been $600 to get the Anthropologie look.  West Elm has a different take on this, and I had almost settled on buying it, but it just felt too big for our current home, and again... the price tag.

via West Elm

So funny how life makes complete circle around you sometimes.  Christina and I made plans to get together a few days ago and she kept saying she had something for me.  As we were running around town I happened to start talking about this industrial pendant that West Elm carried, and how I was thinking about buying, how much I loved that exposed bulb look, etc.  She just started laughing.  And then she told me the story I just told you.  Seriously?  I couldn't believe my luck!

via for $14.99

The cages above are almost identical to the ones she had for me, and that "look" is what I was going for as I hunted down the other pieces.  Also thanks to Christina, I located the Edison style bulbs (these are not energy efficient, but create a pleasant glow which is important when you're not shading it in anyway) at West Elm.  They were $15.00 which seemed a bit steep.  I also found cloth covered black pendant cord sets there, for $30 a piece, which seemed lucky.  Since the cords were going to be exposed all the way up to the ceiling and down the wall, I didn't want a cheap plastic cord set.  So for $90 and a bit of effort, I ended up with two new pendant lights over my dinning room table.  Of course, if this old house had wiring up at the ceiling, the "pendants" would look much better without a lot of extra cordage.  But, for us, it will work for now.

And clearly it is time we invested in a halfway decent camera.

I love when things in my home have a great story and remind me every day of people in my life.

Doggonit, it's Oscar's Birthday!

July 25 is Oscar's 5th Birthday.  We just love him more and more every year.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Dog.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Culture vs. Cultivation


I love the city.  I keep thinking I'm going to grow out of it, like most of my pants.  But no... I really love the city.  And this is even more surprising, because I don't really like people very much.  For the most part, I could be super happy spending most of my time with just my dog, chickens, and that guy I married a while back.  

I like the convenience of a city.  I like having "access" and the feeling of community.  I like the noisy bustle during the day and the quieter bustle at night.   I like that I can see foreign films in a movie theatre (not that I do, but hey if I ever did...).  I like that I could eat out at a different restaurant 365 days a year, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and probably barely scratch the surface of the foodie realm.  I like that there is live music, theatre, and performance art.  I like that there are crazy weirdos on the corners.  I like the houses, well, the pretty ones.  I like the culture.

But by nature, I think a part of me will always feel most at home at a place like this one.  A place where you spend more time with dirt under your fingernails, than freshly polished.  A place where time isn't accounted for by the tick tock of a clock, but by the milking of cows.  A place where denim isn't a fashion statement, but pure practicality.  A place where you sow what you grow, and you eat what you harvest, and it's marvelously unmodified.  A place where you see something other than haze in the night sky, and where you hear nature knocking instead of your neighbor.  A place full of life and nourishment  and cultivation, wholesome and healthy and sustainable.


I encourage you to visit Fig + Faunarelish their pictures and experiment with their recipes.  
Or, just play this video on repeat for a little Saturday morning therapy!  
Have a healthy weekend.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Continual Feast

My first "real" post for Sunday Hatch!  To dive right in, I thought I'd talk about something that bullies me every-single-day: discontent.  Join me, and our friends at Sunday Hatch, today to discuss happiness vs. contentment.  I even used a bible verse -- which I never, ever do.

Have a great weekend, friends!  Spread the cheer, you can link up here:

Fridays with Friends @ Sunday Hatch: A Continual Feast

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Here's the problem with really good drama: it makes you feel like you picked the wrong career.  

Of the major television shows I've gotten really hooked on, the very best have always made me feel somehow inferior . . . and pretty much a loser.  And - lucky me - I got to experience that yet again with Aaron Sorkin's newest, The Newsroom.

When - well after its original airing - I decided to take on all 7 seasons of The West Wing, I experienced deep remorse I hadn't studied political science and interned at the White House.  As the series crept forward, I kept thinking what a great Press Secretary I would have made.  I will admit that I STILL watch Grey's Anatomy (judge me, if you will), and while I'm totally over it now, the first few seasons featuring the main cast members as Interns had me questioning my proclaimed distaste for medical science.  Shows like Downton Abbey and Mad Men have me wishing I had been born in a different time period . . .  if only for the clothes!

Now I did watch the premiere of Breaking Bad Sunday evening (an AMC series about a chemistry teacher who finds out he has lung cancer, starts cooking crystal meth to make money to pay off all his debts before he dies, and eventually becomes a drug kingpin), and had no urge to become a meth-cook.  However, the excitement and roller coaster ride of power and danger definitely had me feeling like my life was a little ordinary and colorless.  So I guess my arguement can't apply systematically to every TV drama I patronize, but I think my point remains the same: really good drama makes you excited.

For those of you who don't know, if I had to "pick another career," it probably would be journalism.  It's one of the reasons why I write this blog.  I like to write.  I like to think I can write persuasively.  Ironically, I hate the news, but that's because most of the news is depressing or not worth reporting.  Where good journalism CAN differ from news reporting, in my opinion, is that there are more opportunities to tell fascinating stories.

I've been hearing about HBO's The Newsroom for a while now, and we happened to find the first three episodes streaming online last night.  And, Oh my.  The show has Sorkin's typical fast-paced, fiery dialogue and snappy exchanges.  The characters always seem completely at one extreme or another, first utterly vulnerable and then suddenly billowing like a storm cloud.  But they are always, without fail, excited about doing their job.

And in the first 15 minutes of the premiere we find that a young Newsroom intern has "accidentally" been promoted to the lead anchor's assistant, and then within another five minutes she's suddenly made an ASSOCIATE PRODUCER.  And of course they are all like 22 and have zero experience.  What????  Who gets that lucky?  Yeah.

All I could think about as I was falling asleep later was, "what the F am I doing with my life?"

Oh, I know it's not realistic.  You don't have to remind me that if I had selected any of the aforementioned careers and pounded after them, I would have spent probably 8 years in college with no social life, several years as an intern or personal assistant hating my life, and then IF I WAS LUCKY, might have gotten some random position where I felt like I actually contributed to the state of the nation.  I realize that TV drama takes real life and glorifies it past all recognition.

But it is hard, sometimes, to remember the big big BIG dreams you had as a kid and realize maybe you didn't try hard enough, maybe you shouldn't have given up so easily.  But, oh well . . .

not everyone makes the news.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Whip it Good

The movie Whip It, starring Ellen Page and Kristen Wiig, and Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, brought nationwide - and perhaps worldwide - attention to an underground, amateur sport called Roller Derby.

Until recently, I had no idea that the great city I was living in sported its own league.  Last week, on a venture to South Congress for First Thursday with some out-of-town friends, I was passed a flyer for an upcoming game, and in the spirit of "trying new things," we all paid the $15 ticket price and helped ourselves to a slice of Derby pie.

To be vague, Roller Derby attracts a specific crowd, much like motorcycles do "bikers." I'll let your imagination create the stereotype. It is clear that to some it is pure cult-ish amusement, and to others it's more of a serious undertaking, much like league soccer or intramural flag football can be in the spirit of "fun," but are really quite competitive. I would say this applied to both the team members and their fans.  Some were more serious than others. For a lot of attendees, it really just seemed like an excuse to wear ripped fishnets.

A Roller Derby match is called a "Bout." There are four quarters in each Bout. Within each quarter there are sessions called "Jams." There are basically two types of players: Jammers and Blockers. To begin, the Blockers line up (shown above), with the Jammers from either team lined up a few paces behind them. The whistle blows and the Blockers skate forward and prepare to block. A second whistle blows and the Jammers begin to skate forward preparing to jam their way through the Blockers. The Blockers ideally want to help their own Jammer through, without allowing the opposing Jammer to get through their blocking line. Points are scored for each team by that team's Jammer pushing through the pack of Blockers and lapping the opposing team members. For each opposing team member they lap, they score a point.  

The movie Whip It gets its name from a move the Blockers perform by grabbing the Jammer's hand and using their own momentum to "whip" the Jammer forward, to gain speed. We saw this move a few times in the Bout.  As you might imagine, there is quite a bit of physical contact.

It seemed as if most of the people around us were old hat at being derby fans.  I really didn't have any idea what was going on for a good bit, but we tried to blend in.  Admittedly, I finally spent 10 minutes on Wikipedia, refreshing my memory about the rules, just so I could cheer along with them.  They had a band play at half-time, and he was pretty awesome, as is to be expected from Austin's live music scene. There were refreshments, t-shirts, and various crafts, etc, for sale.

Some of these girls really meant business!  It was kinda refreshing to see women in a contact sport who were deliberately enjoying the contact. We had quite a good time, and I'm really glad we went - even if it was just for the people watching. 

Whip it Good, yo.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fridays with Friends

Did you know? It's Friday the 13th.

Starting this Friday, and every Friday for the indefinite future, I will be writing for my dear friend Danielle Goates over on her blog Sunday Hatch.   

Danielle's the owner of the Etsy store called Sunday Hatch, and famous for her wood cake plates (featured on Food Network and at my wedding:).  She's ├╝ber creative, multi-talented, hilarious, and one of the most generous people I know.  She's also started a collaborative lifestyle blog with her friends.  Danielle writes for her blog on Mondays and has a guest blogger the other four days of the week.  She asked me to write her Friday posts, and since I really should be blogging at least once a week anyway, of course I said, "yes maaaaa'am."  I'll still be writing new content for alittleWhitenoise, but Fridays will be shared with Friends!

Me, Danielle, and the Mister at our wedding.  She was our wedding singer!

Please click on over and check out my first Friday post!

Monday, July 9, 2012

June Weddings

So much has happened in the last month.  I've been joking that I don't know how I ever would have been able to keep a "normal" job this summer.  I've been traveling or on vacation so much of the time, I feel like we've hardly been home.  When I haven't been on trips or visiting my beautiful nephew, I've had visitors of my own!

In June, we attended two weddings.  The first was a first for me: a double wedding of twin sisters!  Tim's twin sister cousins decided to have a double wedding.  I coordinated the weekend, so we were working hard the whole time.

Two days later we left for San Francisco for a week of vacation!  Our friends Tim S. & Caitlin were getting hitched on Treasure Island, and there was no way we were going to miss it.  We headed out the Tuesday before, to spend a few days seeing one of our favorite cities in the world, and getting some R&R.  Unfortunately, our trip was riddled with minor disasters: I got strep throat the first day we were there, we missed our Hot Air Balloon flight over Napa Valley, we had to change hotels due to noise and general crappiness, Tim lost his iPhone, etc.  Despite all the really crazy things that went down, we still had a wonderful time and were so happy to be present for our dear friends' marriage.  You can't beat the 40 degree difference in temperature, either!

We spent the first day exploring the wharf, and Golden Gate park, and then I started to get sick.  That first night was pretty awful - our hotel was so noisy and I felt awful.  I got antibiotics the following day and started to feel better within 8 hours, but our priorities the second day were to find a nice hotel and to rest.  So I really didn't take many pictures the first two days we were there, and then it was time for wedding fun!  But here's some photo documentation of the trip.

Reunited with our personal mascot: the Golden Gate Bridge.  A little over 5 years ago, we met on a road trip to San Francisco.  The planner of said road trip? Our mutual friend Tim S. whose wedding we are now back in San Francisco to attend!  Where did Tim S. meet his (now) wife?  At that wedding we we road tripped to five years ago!  That weekend was a weekend of loooooove.

Napa View on our Wine Tasting Tour.

photo by
Four-ever friends!  From South Africa to San Francisco.

photo by
The wedding party and +Ones on the Wine Tour at Groth Vineyards.  I didn't get the "wear a dress" memo.

photo by
On this private tour I tasted a grape off the vine (not recommended), the wine fermenting (shown here), and two wines aging in the barrel.  Then we tasted it in bottled, sellable condition.  It was quite a journey.

Rehearsal Dinner Fun Fiesta Style.

photo by

Old Friends & New Friends.  I love when that happens at weddings.

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The "Texas crowd" at the wedding.  Great people and beautiful Bride & Groom.

We had one night left after all the wedding shenanigans were complete.  We checked into our boutique hotel in Tiburon, on the north side of the bay, had an amazing dinner at a little hole-in-the-wall Italian resturant, and got a great night's sleep after watching the sunset on the deck.  Pictured above: one of our wine purchases from Napa, my dessert from Don Antonio's, and our view from Water's Edge Hotel deck (facing San Fran's cityscape).

All that is why we look so relaxed and happy here the next morning, on our last day....

Aaaaaah sunshine that isn't accompanied by 100+ degrees with 99% humity.
I am wearing a SWEATER here... and a scarf.