Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Recap

Ah, Christmas. This year it was particularly lovely, I must say. This post may be a bit boring for anyone who isn't family, but like I always say, it's more for me to look back and remember than anything. And besides, it's a nice change of pace to talk about something other than the wedding, which is now, you guessed it, only five days away. Eek!

With my handsome fiance in tow, we headed south to Alabama on Christmas Eve morning, with the car filled to the brim with Christmas presents and suitcases. Upon arrival in Tuscaloosa, we stopped in Midtown Village AND the University Mall, which were both complete and utter madhouses. It was actually a little scary seeing that many people on a misison to find last-minute gifts. We truly could have gotten trampled at one point. Like Billy Currington says, people are crazy.

For a nice change of pace, we made a pit stop to see the Lawsons (and to give Lilly Lawson, our flower girl, her gift for the wedding - an ivory fur stole, just like the one I'll be wearing!) and got to chat for a bit before heading on to see our dear family friend, Mattie Jackson (a precious lady that not only helped raise me, but also my dad). She has the biggest, kindest heart of anyone I know and I love her more than words could express. Mr. T has heard me talk about her a lot and all the fond memories I have of her from childhood, and it was so wonderful that I could finally introduce him to her.

After hugging Mattie goodbye, and watching her wave from the door for a solid five minutes, love her, we headed home to pick up my parents for the Christmas Eve service at their church - a tradition that dates back as long as I can remember. There's something about those Christmas traditions that I just love and hope to pass on when day when we have kiddos. I was a little bummed they didn't pass out the candles and dim the lights to sing "Silent Night" like I remembered, but we got to do that at the candlelight service at our church here in Nashville, so at least I got my fix. And by the way, can I just say that I LOVE our church, Cross Point. I can honestly say it is hands down the best church I've ever been a part of, and it has truly rocked the way I look at religion. Our pastor, Pete Wilson, did a great series called "Rhythm" in December that focused on how we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas and lose sight of the joy. He had great visuals that could be used as reminders throughout the season - like every time you see a lit-up house or tree, say to yourself "May I shine." Or everytime you see a gift, say "Life is a gift." Simple, and yet so very true.

Anyway, so after the Christmas Eve service we headed over to a family potluck dinner for all the folks on my Dad's side of the family (my mom's family lives in Louisiana). My Aunt Margaret, who is all of 82 years old and is the definition of a pistol, took pride in introducing Mr. T to all the family, and telling everyone how handsome he was. She thinks it embarrasses him, but he secretly loves it. We headed home and opened some wedding gifts that my mom had been collecting, and while Mr. T watched football, I proceeded to make a fudge pie for the Christmas feast the next day.

On Christmas Day, my brother and his family came over to open gifts before the larger crowd arrived at noon to eat. I have four beautiful nieces, both inside and out, and all but one of them (the eight year old) is taller than me now! It's crazy how much they've grown over the last year. They're all pretty excited about coming to Nashville for the wedding, so I got them pretty patterned travel bags they can put their cosmetics and toiletries in. Buying for girls is so much easier than buying for boys, I think! I just think back to what I would have wanted at their age. My favorite gifts were the the hand-carved wooden frames my brother and the girls made for Craig and me, and one of them had our wedding invitation already mounted inside - so beautiful!

After all the family arrived, we sat down to a feast fit for a king. I was proud of two things this year - one, I finally got to sit at the adult table (guess that's what bringing a fiance gets you), and two, that I was able to limit myself to small portions and no second helpings, but I did enjoy a tiny bit of everything on the table. I hope my wedding dress doesn't hate me for it. And if it does, well, there's always Spanx. Once everyone left, we laid down on the sofa to watch - you guessed it- more football, which turned into the best after-Christmas nap I have ever had. I'm talking a solid two hours of the deepest, coziest, most satisfying sleep and it. was. heavenly.

Rejuvenated from the nap, we decided to head to the movies and catch this movie, which had just come out and seemed like the go-to choice.

Umm, I give it a B minus. I mean, it held my attention and all, and the action sequences were awesome, but I like a little more plot to keep me interested. And perhaps a bit more love story. Robert Downey Jr. is an incredible actor, though, and his English accent was perfection. I should mention that the first showing of the movie was sold out, so Mr. T and I had about 45 minutes to kill before the next one. We knew there was nothing that would be open on Christmas day, until a neon orange light beckoned us from across the road. What could it be? Nothing other than ye ole' Hooters, beckoning with the promise of fried pickles and buffalo wings. Did I feel a teensy bit icky walking in there on Christmas Day? That's an affirmative. But was a cold beer and a plate of fried food with my man the perfect ending to the day? Most definitely. We got to decompress a bit after all the chaos of the holidays, and just enjoy talking. You kind of forget how good it feels to talk about something other than the wedding in those last few weeks. The one thing we both agreed on was that if we had to change anything about this process, we would have made the engagement about two months shorter. Ten months was just a little too long for us!

We headed back to Nashville on Saturday morning and spent the evening unpacking all of our goodies and putting together the wedding programs - yes, it is an exciting life we lead, people. But we wanted to reserve our energy for the next night, because Santa had brought me what I had my heart set on - two tickets to see the Zac Brown Band at the Ryman on Sunday night!!! And it was stellar, my friends. Truly one of the best performances I have ever seen. I am now President of the Nashville Chapter of their fan club. Kidding. But I'm considering it...

Wow, now that is some recap. Can you tell I'm procrastinating all the last-minute wedding duties I have yet to do?

Oh, and a question for all of you ladies that are knowledgable on facials - is it wise to get one two days before the wedding? I thought it would give me a fresh, clean slate for the makeup gal, but I'm worried I'll end up with a gigantic breakout session on my hands. Don't facials tend to bring everything to the surface? For all of you who are recently married, let me know what to do!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Early Christmas Gift

My fiance rocks. In a fit of frustration a while back after my camera took two photos on a fun night out before deciding to hibernate, I shared with all parties in attendance how badly I needed a new camera. I even pointed out one in particular to Mr. T at Target that I thought we should buy with any gift cards we received after Christmas, then thought nothing more about it. Oh how I love how that boy pays attention! Lo and behold, as we opened our first gifts last night (I say start early, and extend the gift giving a couple of days - no need in all that fun being bottled up for one morning!) here is the little beauty that greeted me...

And. I. luhhhhve. it. Hello, 10.0 megapixel resolution! Hello, face detection technology! Hello, red eye removal (which I always have)! And HELLO beautiful blue color! Doesn't it kind of remind you of this...

Me too. And that is a picture of exactly where we will be lounging in about oh, 11 days. Yes, that sound you hear is me singing the Hallelujah chorus.

Let me just tell you, my other camera was a piece. As in, it literally just quit working a few weeks ago. And when it would work, it would only last for about a nano-second before it ran out of juice. And need I point out that this is one of the most fun times in my life that deserves documentation? What timing. All these fun pictures you see on my blog? Well, they're not from me. Thank goodness I have camera-happy friends, or there would be no evidence of my bachelorette party, the 80's shower, or the Tacky Sweater Party for your viewing enjoyment (and also for posterity purposes - I do plan to look back on these in ten years and have a good, nostalgic laugh). So I plan to use it HEAVILY over the next week to make up for some serious lost time. Consider yourself warned, family members and photo-loathing friends. It's coming.

Speaking of photos, how about this for an early Christmas gift? The super-fab Evin sent me the images from our bridal shoot at Cheekwood last night, so without further adieu, here is one little bitty sneak peek...

Since you can't see my dress AND my hair will be different, it really isn't spoiling anything, right? And really I just want to showcase that gorgeous bouquet of fall flowers and give Caprice mad props for making magic like that. It was too perfect for that early November day, and as you can see, sunflowers really do make me smile.

Know what else makes me smile? Picking up the programs, direction cards, and pocket timelines yesterday from Midtown Printing and having them turn out perfectly. If you need to have anything printed at the last minute, Jan is your girl. She is just lovely in every way, and even gave me a "Christmas discount" that absolutely made my day.

Now all we have to do is find the right ribbon for tying them (I'm considering silver rope cord I found on clearance at Michael's last night-if you need ribbon for wrapping some last-minute gifts, that is your place), putting the little "Lillian and Craig" design on the cover, and we're done!

Tomorrow we're Alabama bound for Christmas with my family. I'm so ready to see everyone. My poor mother has 17 people to cook for on Christmas Day, so I've offered to make a dessert. I don't have a lot of confidence this will turn out as pretty as I'm envisioning in my mind, but the good news is it's a lot like a brownie, so we can put ice cream on top and no one will know the difference. Sneaky, yet smart.

And finally, because I'm clearly sharing every thought in my brain today, guess who fit in their skinny jeans this morning? Yours truly. You should have seen the happy dance I did. They are my favorite pair of David Kahn's and oh, how I've missed them so. I'm enjoying them for the day because after the Christmas feast, I'm sure they'll be right back to the back of the closet where they have resided since the summer. It's like my little clandestine love affair - we meet, I fall in love, purchase them on the spot, wear them happily, gain a few pounds, get unhappy, can't wear them, lose a few pounds, get happy again when I put them on and they FIT, feel pretty good about myself, then pretend they don't exist next week when I'm sure they'll be snug again after a few home-cooked meals. Still worth it for this very good day I'm having, though. I can live on islands of designer jean happiness. :)

May you all have the best Christmas ever! See you next week, the WEEK OF THE WEDDING!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dear Weather Channel

Dear Weather Channel,

You are such a tease. Since we're now at the 12 day mark before the wedding, I thought SURELY your extended forecast would greet me this morning with the promise of good weather next weekend. But sadly, just as my mouse scrolled downward and stopped at December 30, three days short of where I need it to go, I realized you are just having fun with my emotions.

Deep in my heart, I'm secretly hoping for a white wedding. If you could make that happen, I will never talk trash about you again. Yes, I might freeze in my strapless dress and have my teeth chatter between takes, but this is the price we are willing to pay for some great photos.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C: (they do look a bit happier inside, huh?)

This is a wedding that took place in Colorado, and was shot by the amazing Charlotte Geary. And I'm pretty much in love with every detail. Now you know why we decided on a winter wedding...they just seem to make everyone snuggle a little closer and find warmth in the food, drink and merriment around them, which is exactly what we want for our friends and family. And besides, what better way to start a new year than with everyone you hold dear together in one room. That nearly gives me goosebumps just thinking about how surreal that will be.

We are SO excited that nearly 200 guests will be joining us next weekend (yes, that means all RSVP's are in!) as we become husband and wife. In a season of so much to be thankful for, I have truly never been more grateful for all the great things in my life. It's almost overwhelming how much joy you can find as the final days approach, knowing what an amazing thing is about to take place. Even though I still toss and turn some nights thinking about those pesky little details, the one thing that puts me at ease is the thought of seeing Mr. T at the end of that aisle, and knowing that as fun (and stressful) as the wedding planning has been, it will all culminate in a little chapel next Saturday. Preferrably with snow outside. Just saying...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

License to Wed

Wow, that sounds like a really bad romantic comedy from the 80's - License to Wed. Anyway...

Look at what we did yesterday! That would be Mr. T signing the ole wedding license form. It's getting real, people. Look, he even has a little smile on his cute face. Probably because he was making fun of me for taking a photo of documentation at the county clerk's office, but whatever, I found it blogworthy... :)

It's official! See our pretty little signatures?

And the best part? Our sweet little minister, the highly acclaimed Ralph Griggs, gave us a certificate for completing pre-marriage counseling (which actually consisted of watching The Story of Us, one of my favorite movies of all time - you can't beat that kind of homework) which got us a whopping $60 knocked off that $99 marriage license. $40 bucks later, we're practically married...

16 days!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My 50th Post...and Exciting News!

In honor of my 50th post (I like to celebrate the minor milestones!) I have big news to share with you, dear friends and followers. You may or may not know that the two magazines I absolutely can't wait to get my hands on when they're fresh off the press are UsWeekly (it's an obsession that has begin to rub off on Mr. T - ask me how many times he has come home from the grocery store with one in hand, pretending it's for me) and the prized publication of Music City, Nashville Lifestyles.

Now I also look forward to the occasional Glamour for a long flight (reading it front to back will last me a good two hours) or Food and Wine for some cooking inspiration, but those two are my go-to's in terms of good reading.

Insert anecdote: before I moved to Nashville, I was interviewing for my current job and got put up at the Loews the night before my big interview. I crawled in my big comfy bed with the issue of Nashville Lifestyles that was brimming with new restaurant openings and must-see happenings that were going on here, and it made me think even more that Nashville should be my home one day. I read that magazine front to back and dozed off dreaming of how much fun my life would be here. And now, it's a reality. :)

Fast forward to a few weeks ago (which is actually rewinding, but whatever) and here I am at a recent private tasting at tayst, one of my favorite restaurants in town, where they showcased an amazingly cool concept called Local Kitchen Catering. Basically it's where Chef Jeremy Barlow (one of the best chefs in Nashville, truly) comes into your kitchen and cooks dinner for a group of your closest friends, using local ingredients the guests bring themselves (so they feel like they can contribute something). What you may not know is tayst is the only green certified restaurant in Nashville, and one of his claims to fame is that all of the food he serves is locally grown. He even has a blackboard listing the local farmers he has used for that day's menu, so you can rest assured you are supporting the local man, which I just love. So anyway, I'm having a glass of wine and chatting with the kind bartender about how excited we are to be having our rehearsal dinner there (they rarely do private events, but luckily Mr. T and Jeremy are good buddies and do business together, so they made an exception for us) and this kind, petite, blonde woman overhears me saying this, introduces herself as an Assistant Editor for Nashville Lifestyles, and asks if we might be interested in having our rehearsal dinner covered in their next issue of the Nashville Lifestyles Weddings magazine! Go ahead, pick up your jaw, please. Are you kidding me?!?

Now, knowing what you now know about me, you can imagine how hard it was for me to not spit my wine out all over her face in disbelief and excitement. But I tried to keep my utmost composure, casually said that yes, we would be interested in doing that, and we set up a time to meet for coffee so she could interview me for the article. We met at dose, the fab new coffee shop on Murphy Road (with the most delicious apple cider you've ever tasted) last week and chatted about what inspired us to choose tayst, and how special events are trending towards a green movement, even in the wedding industry. Now I am no tree hugger, but I do think we should be mindful of how we treat the world while we're lucky enough to use its resources, so I thought it was so very "Nashville" to have a restuarant like tayst showcased among our friends and family, to let people know that even though we're the Music City, we have some pretty amazing restaurants around as well, and they're doing some pretty amazing things.

As an event planner and now a planner of my own wedding, I've tried to be more mindful of how many times I can use my flowers (I love Perenity, a service provided through Hospice which picks them up and takes them to patients so they will brighten their rooms and hopefully their spirits) and things of that nature, but I can honestly say that my experience at tayst has truly has encouraged me to think more about what I eat, and where it comes from. And apparently, others are taking notice as well.

So be on the lookout for us in the upcoming spring issue, peeps! How excited are WE?!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tacky, Wacky and Too Much Fun

This past weekend was the 4th annual THSP for our Nashville Crew of brave friends, also known as the Tacky Holiday Sweater Party, also known as the most fun you can have in the ugliest holiday sweater you can imagine. Mr. T and I met with our videographer down in Franklin last Wednesday, and while in the area, we made a little pit stop by SteinMart to see what they had in store. You should have seen his eyes light up like this Christmas tree when he took one look at this little beauty...

Look closely, friends. Those are indeed little kitty-cats on his sweater and little balls of fur on his zipper. And you guessed correctly, this is no man's sweater. No, my man only shops in the women's section for this special occasion. More pictures, you say? As you wish...
With sweet friends Lauren, Steph and Miss Firefly :)

Dan the Man, Justin, and Mr. T. wearing their attire proudly

Posing with my four-inch hair bow, and still not even close to his height

The host with the most!

The Newly-wedded Wenzels - nice dickey, Justin.

Taking a break from the dance floor at Legends with Justin and Amber - their wedding band was playing and they are going to be awesome. "Beverly Hills - that's where I want to BE!" Favorite song all night.

Loving on some L Wade. Because contrary to popular belief, country music makes everyone happy.

A very excited Lindsey in her sassy sequined vest, posing with Steve. Too bad you can't see his sweater, he had cows on it. Between his cows and Craig's cats, the theme was animal this year.

And finally, one last look at the engaged couple before our 18 day away wedding. I probably won't be posting much in the next few weeks because quite frankly, I'm ready to stop documenting the process and for the day to just get here! And in case you're wondering, that whole theory of relaxing for the last few weeks and sitting back to enjoy the whole process is a bunch of malarkey. But Mr. T is doing his best to make me try. Which is why when I battled a migraine all day Saturday and wasn't the most excited person in the world to get dressed up and head out for the THSP, I zipped my lips, donned my attire, and took two Excedrin. Because I have never seen ANYONE enjoy the Tacky Holiday Sweater Party more than my man. He had a perma-grin all night long. And that's really what love is all about, right? Merry Christmas, all!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ravishing Ruffles

Because white felt ruffles SHOULD go on a wreath for a nice change of pace from that prickly green garland. Or perhaps a winter wedding. See the complete tutorial here. Thank me later. :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pretty as a Pinecone

Don't you just love how something so simple can be so chic?

This is my kind of DIY - five little materials, three little steps.
Get the step-by-step tutorial from Twig and Thistle here.
To. die. for. And so much better than multi-colored flashing lights. :)

Can I get a ROLL TIDE?

After being inspired by Miss Kristin's celebratory post over my Monday morning cup of coffee, I've decided the focus of this post will NOT be on the rapidly approaching, now 25 days out wedding that I'm trying very hard not to freak out over, but will instead pay tribute to my favorite football team, the Alabama Crimson Tide. Because we're headed to the National Championship, baby! This is turning into the best year of my life - engaged to the love of my life in March, bought our first house in May, and winning the SEC Championship in December! Now, if we could just arrange for a light dusting of snow on our wedding day, just for pictures sake. :)

And wouldn't you know it, the game falls on January 7, 2010, which just so happens to be Day 5 of our honeymoon in Riviera Maya, Mexico and also Mr. T's 35th birthday! So since we can't make it to Pasadena to cheer on my boys - though that would be a great wedding gift, if anyone is interested in splurging ;) - we will most definitely be finding a bar in Mexico that carries the game and hopefully watching the Tide dominate over Texas while sipping on a Corona with the sun on our back.

So just in case you're curious, here's how my week looks. Welcome to the holiday season, folks.

Tonight: Meet with Mary Alice, Wedding Coordinator Extraordinare, to finalize all details
Tomorrow: Mr. T's Work Christmas Party
Wednesday: Meet with Videographer, bring photos for rehearsal dinner montage, celebrate she is available at this late date by heading to Arrington Vineyards Appreciation Party afterward
Thursday: My Work Holiday Soiree
Friday: Staff Margarita Party, Shop for Tacky Holiday Sweaters (probably not the best idea to do this after having a margarita)
Saturday: Print Programs and Directions (really procrastinated on this one) then head to Third Annual Tacky Holiday Sweater Party

Umm, yeah. Notice there is zero time allotted for a workout (which my blah winter body is desperately needing) and let's not even talk about what kind of calorific food and drink will be served at the aforementioned functions. Not to mention I'm still recovering from my lovely recipe shower last week that my sweet girlfriends from church were so sweet to do and the Oreo truffles that I just can't seem to resist. So now I have all these amazing new recipes to try, a kitchen loaded full of wedding gifts to cook with, and a wedding three weeks away that is reminding me daily I have a wedding dress to fit into. Fabulous.

That said, I am definitely enjoying this holiday season more than ever and trying to savor every single minute of it. I don't know if it's because Christmas felt like it came early this year with all the wedding gifts and well wishes that have been arriving on our doorstep for the past several weeks or just the general good feelings that come with being surrounded by our friends who have been celebrating such a special time with us. All I know is that everyone who called me crazy for planning a wedding during the holidays can take a hike - I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. January 2nd will be the exclamation point at the end of an amazing holiday season. Can't think of a better way to start a new year than that!
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