Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pink and Black Bridal Shower

We're nine days out from my niece's wedding. After what feels like many, many conversations and days spent planning, I think we're mostly prepared for the big day. All the big decisions have finally been made. All that's left is the seating arrangement cards and a few personal items for me like what shoes and jewelry to wear. Oh yeah, and the marriage license!

This past weekend my mom and I threw Laura's bridal shower.

It went something like this:

Friday--5 PM Mom and Dad arrive at my apartment.
5:15-6:45 PM I sit at the table and make lots of little paper birds. Henry hangs fuschia paper lanterns from the ceiling. I direct the placement of said lanterns.

6:45 Leave for Laura's dress fitting. Park Dad and Henry at David's Bridal while Mom and I shop at Ulta next door.
7-8:50 PM Laura tries on her dress, we debate whether one side is longer than the other, alterations lady measures and sure enough it is. Wait while the alteration people fix it. I try on the two modest dresses in the whole store. Mom tries on and purchases her dress for the wedding.
9:00 PM Head to Mimi's Cafe for dinner.
9:15-10:30 Eat dinner at Mimi's. Discuss options for bridal shower games. Choose three. Ask Laura questions for the trivia game. Look at cupcake options for bridal shower. Create a grocery list for the bridal shower.
10:45 Drop Dad off at my apartment and head over to Laura's.
11:00-11:45 Shop at HEB.
12:00 AM Come home and fall fast asleep.

Saturday is fuzzy, but I do know this:
8:45 AM-2:15 PM Henry works like a slave preparing all of the food. He doesn't even stop to eat breakfast or lunch. My husband is a superstar...or a martyr for the cause, you decide.

Somewhere in there, I created the documents for the games, took my mom with me to exercise at the gym, bought presents for Laura at Target, bought vitamins at Sprouts, showered, and cleaned the apartment as quickly as I could---with Mom's help. As I was running around like crazy on Saturday, I kept thinking that there was no way in the world that I would've been able to prepare everything without the help of my family. Even though some of us weren't the happiest about it, it was still neat to see us working as a team to get things done.

Looking back at these pictures, it doesn't look too fancy to me, but it was a lot. of. work.

I loved the fruit tray. Laura brought over her little crockpot set, and we melted chocolate for dipping.
1:1 ratio of Country Time Pink Lemonade and Sprite
Graham cupcakes with Key Lime frosting (Cupcake 32)

We ended up playing 2/3 games: bridal trivia and Laura trivia.

There was debate over Laura's actual shoe size, so she had to double check. =)

After the games, she opened her presents.

You see that mirror to the right of her? She didn't notice that it was a present. Her reaction when we told her she had one present left was pretty funny because it took her a while to figure out what we were talking about. hehe.

Once she finished opening presents, we set up my tripod and took 15 group shots. 15! I don't think any of them need to be posted on the Internet...

I think all in all it was a good party. It was just the right size for my apartment, and I think everyone had a good time. Most of us went over to Laura's apartment for the "after party" where we had our hair and makeup trials.

Here's a sneaky peek of my updo for the wedding. I'm excited about it!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Heart in a Cupcake

I made cupcakes on Friday...because I love cupcakes...and it worked out well to have company over to help eat up the dozen. 

This was my first attempt at baking a shape into a cupcake. I saw this recipe for baking a heart into a cupcake through one of the facebook pages I like and thought it looked really cute. I swapped the cake recipe from that site for Cupcake 23 from Cupcake Heaven. I don't know that I would recommend this cake without a filling because it was a little dry and dense. If you're wondering at this point why I didn't use the Bake it in a Cake recipe, I will tell you: that little half of a vanilla bean. Didn't want to go to the store (possibly multiple stores) to search for it.

As you can see in the left corner, some of the hearts did NOT stay in place
Strawberry Laffy Taffy Buttercream Frosting
Making the hearts was easy, getting them to stand in the cake batter was another story. Making the frosting required a little more effort than I normally put into frosting, but it was yummy. Note: The melted Laffy Taffy + heavy cream hardened a little while cooling in my fridge, even though the recipe said it wouldn't. I reheated it for about 10 seconds before dumping it in with the butter and powdered sugar.

When I iced them, I made sure to keep track of which way the hearts were facing. I put a line of sprinkles across the top to mark where the top of the hearts were...or so I thought...and I put sprinkles all over the ones that I knew were already messed up.

Most of the cupcakes looked like this once we bit into them:
A nice Valentine's quadrilateral. Is that a trapezoid?

But then, yesterday afternoon I cut one in half and spied this.
An almost heart!

So...I can't say I'd recommend baking hearts into a cupcake. Henry and I agreed that these were the most dramatic cupcakes ever. We may or may not have gotten into a little argument while making them. Can't even remember what it was about...but yeah. They took a long time to make, and we were both very tired when all was said and done. 

I would, however, recommend the Strawberry Laffy Taffy Buttercream Frosting. I'm pretty sure I'm going to use this frosting for my niece Laura's bridal shower next weekend. It will be on different cupcakes with nary a heart inside. 

And since it's Valentine's Day (hope you have a good one!), I want to leave you with a lovey song that makes me happy. Click here and press play. =)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Weekend

MIL, FIL, & Aunt Aida.

For the second weekend in a row, we had parts of Henry's family over for lunch! Last Sunday, my mother-in-law, SIL, BIL, and nieces came over. This time, Henry's dad and his Aunt Aida came too. Since my in-laws are about to embark on a two-year mission to Siberia(!), Aida wanted to visit the family one last time before they leave. She flew in from California on Friday, and they came up to Austin yesterday afternoon. We ate Thai food from Madam Mam's and just enjoyed our time together. This was only the second time I'd been around Aida, but I can tell she is a very gentle, thoughtful, and intelligent woman. She's a librarian, so it was fun to hear her opinion of popular books. 

We also got to love on our new niece Mary.
I just might die from the cuteness...my goodness.

I'm glad we have family so close by. I'm particularly thankful for our relationship with Henry's sister Lara and her husband William (the mutual friend mentioned in my last post). And of course they've introduced two very cute little girls into our lives whom we love. That's nice.

I'm feeling a little mushy today, can you tell? Maybe it's the proximity of Valentine's Day?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Henry and I participated in a dating panel for the youth (ages 12-17) at our church tonight. We were definitely the youngest couple there (both in age and in terms of the length of our marriage), and I have no idea how we were picked (though we were called "the cutest couple in the ward" once before...thanks Nadine!). But seriously, I hope no one was disappointed after hearing our answers.

With all of the rehashing of my dating experiences tonight, I realized I haven't written much about the beginnings for me and Henry. I alluded to our first date and wrote about the proposal, but I haven't really told the story of how we met. Plus I have some unusual, if you will, dating memories that are lingering in my brain that I would like to share.

So here it goes...I'm going to pose questions as if someone were actually asking me...

How did you meet Henry?
The short answer:  He showed up unannounced on my doorstep. The long answer:  It was the year 2004, August to be specific. Henry had just returned from his two-year mission for our church, and our mutual friend William (who is now our brother-in-law...'nother story) invited Henry to a Bible studyish group (FHE to the LDS folks) that was held on Monday nights at my apartment. Henry likes to be early, so he was the first one to arrive rather consistently and a friendship developed.

Was it "love at first sight?"
Nope. I was in a long-distance, pretty serious relationship at the time, so I didn't think of Henry in a romantic way until about six months after I broke up with the other guy. We were friends for a little over a year before we started dating. He didn't have a car, so I'd give him rides here and there before we started dating.

What changed for you?
Kind of interesting...so between the time I got out of the serious, long-distance relationship and when I started dating Henry, I dated quite a few guys. I was 19/20 years old. I decided I was done with serious dating for a while, and I wanted to have fun and get to know a lot of people. I went on multiple dates with two guys, one who I was attracted to and one who was just fun to hang out with as friends. I let the latter guy know I didn't see any potential for a romantic relationship with him, but the former "relationship" was kind of a "yes, we should date/no, we shouldn't/yes, we should/oh wait, no we shouldn't" situation. The final "no, we shouldn't" was a teensy bit hard because there was chemistry there, but ya know, that's certainly not all that matters. What seemed like the very day after this "break-up" (using these terms loosely because we were never boyfriend/girlfriend), this guy texted me. All it said was "I think you should date Henry." First I thought, "the nerve!" Then I also recalled how on another date (maybe the only one I went on with this particular guy), Henry came up in the conversation, and we pretty much talked about his coolness. Pretty soon I was thinking, "hmmm...maybe he's on to something..." After that, I realized that maybe Henry was interested in me already (and maybe the other guy picked up on this, and that's why he sent the text. If I ever talk to that particular person again, I will definitely ask him why he decided to tell me that and thank him!).

What did you do for your first date?
We went on a double date with our wonderful friends Dave & Serena. We saw a play at St. Edward's University about Cesar Chavez's life. Random activity (Dave was a professor at St. Ed's so he got the tickets for free or discounted at least), but that didn't matter so much because it still gave us a chance to really talk to each other and spend time together (both one-on-one and with our good friends). We went back to Henry and Dave's apartment (they were roommates) and ate ice cream after the play. Our first date felt different from other first dates because I already had a crush on Henry. I was excited and nervous.

How long did you date before you were engaged?
18 months to the day.

How long from first date to wedding day?
21 months to the day. 7+7+7=21. That's how I chose the date of our wedding.

That's all I've got for tonight. Any other questions?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Snow Day 2011

There was a lot of hype this week about the possibility of snow in central Texas. It was supposed to arrive late Thursday night. One to two inches, the weatherman said. I know that is nothing to people in other parts of the country, and we realize that's not a lot of snow here too, BUT Texas is totally unprepared for any snowy/icy weather. It's okay if you make fun of us; we like to poke fun at ourselves too. 

Sure enough, around 10 PM a little snow began to dust the ground. Henry and I went outside to check things out and witnessed our funny maintenance man doing donuts in the parking lot in his golf cart. We had a good chuckle about that.

We went to bed Thursday night hopeful for a late start for work the next morning, but I didn't think we'd realistically get one. May I mention that many of the area school districts announced that they'd have delayed starts early Thursday evening while mine did not make a decision until 5 am Friday. Boo...but yay because at 5:30 the next morning, Henry woke me up to tell me that we both got a snow day! An entire day off from work. A three-day weekend. So greatly appreciated.

5:30 AM
Early that morning, when the sun was still hidden, we went out for a walk. We were outside for about 45 minutes, and I really couldn't feel my fingers by the end of our adventure (I really hope you clicked that link above).

Henry throwing a snowball at me

It was perfect. The snow was fluffy and blanketed the ground throughout our neighborhood, but it started melting away early in the afternoon. By one o'clock, we were heading out for lunch at Mighty Fine Burgers and running some wedding related shopping errands. Fun. Then yesterday it was 60 degrees and sunny. Today it was 70 degrees and sunny. Can life get better? I submit that it cannot!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

No. 19: A Photo Workshop

This past Saturday I participated in Kristen Duke's Say No! to Auto photography workshop. Let me start off by saying that I'm so glad I did! 

When I put "take a photography class" on my 101 list, I never thought I'd be able to mark it off so quickly.  I got my dSLR in December 2009, and since then I've toyed with the idea of taking courses through the local community college, online, and via a Groupon offer. I didn't feel ready to commit to any of those options though. Out of my budget. Too time consuming. No idea what the class size/environment would be like. (I'm making this sound like a life-altering decision, I'm sure, but I didn't want to go down an avenue that would be a waste of my time or money, you know?) But when Kristen posted a link on facebook about this workshop, I thought it sounded perfect for me:
  1. Afternoon commitment. 
  2. Affordable price. 
  3. Small class size (10-15 students).
  4. I already knew Kristen,* and I knew she wouldn't scam me!
We all met at Kristen's house, which was nice and cozy. She started by giving us all a packet with our textbooks for the day, one large, more detailed spiral and a smaller one to take on the go. We jumped right in and learned how to adjust ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.

And Kristen explained the basics for figuring out where to start with each setting. She also shared her tips for getting great portraits and doing basic photo editing.
 The information was a little confusing at first, but it started making sense once we practiced. We took a walk to an open field down the street from Kristen's house.

First we took pictures of our model and Kristen's assistant/photographer for the workshop, Jenny Polson.

Then Kristen asked us to pair off with a partner to practice some more. Naturally, I picked my friend Laura. I tried to get some fun backlit ones...

But this one is my favorite. You're so beautiful, Laura!
So, the bottom line: I loved the workshop. Not only did I finally get a grasp on ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, but it was also so much fun! I can't wait to practice, practice, and practice some more...and my husband thought I took a lot of photos before...he ain't seen nothing yet!

*Kristen took photos of me and my husband in February 2009. I was so impressed with her kindness and the quality of her images. She took the photo we had made into a canvas print that now hangs above our TV. 

You can read Kristen's recaps of the workshop here and here. Click on over.