Sunday, November 15, 2009
The past few weekends I've been showing my friend Ilaria how to quilt. She is an excellent cook and is also very gifted in the arts & crafts department. She actually didn't need any instruction whatsoever as she learned the skill intuitively. I was just there for moral support, I think! Evenso, I decided that the best way to teach someone how to quilt was to take up my own project along with her-that was a mistake! I've spent over 40 hours on this project, I don't think it will ever end!! After a few weeks of doing the quilt top (and fussing a bit too much about the border-I decided to do just a plain white border to keep it simple) I've finally attached the batting and backing and am quilting it together. The hard part right now is outlining the stars so they "pop", and my sewing machine is getting a bit fussy in its old age as midway through it sometimes decides to snack on the thread. Here is a picture of what I've been working on.
Ilaria has since finished her first quilt and is almost done with her second one! And here I am, the seasoned veteran and I'm taking my sweet time finishing this project. Well, hopefully it will be done in time for Christmas (as its a gift for dear old dad, although the colors look more fitting for mother dearest), and before Ilaria gets the motivation for another project!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
For his benefit, I have pulled together this quick map, showing the areas that have palm trees and those that require winter jackets. Please take a look:
I think we would prefer to go to the islands with those gorgeous palm trees and beaches, not the ones that require jackets and ear muffs. Let's hope he commits this to memory.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
TA-DA! Let there be LIGHT!!!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
First time I went out looking for the dress, I went to David's Bridal-a big cheesy chain store. I loved everything I tried on, and the prices were dirt cheap. But, you can't buy something on the first day out, so I took it as a research day.
Second day out, I went to Yolanda's-a local spot famous for their dresses (as they were going out of business and had enormous sales), and again, I loved everything I tried on, unfortunately the prices were f-ing outrageous. Seriously, I thought this was a sale? Do you know what sale means?? A sale does not test the limits of my credit card.
Third excursion, I went to a great spot in England, Sara De's (I think, I can't quite remember the name) in Lewes, and again, loved everything that I tried on. Here the prices were just right - if we're going to judge things like goldilocks. But, I still had time so I decided not to buy anything, and besides the logistics of buying something in England were a bit overwhelming.
So, here I am, three dress shops under my belt. And what have I learned? Well...I like every dress I try on, so umm...not much. But, I certainly know my high & low price range.
I dare calling my family and ask if they want to go on a fourth outing, but this time will be at Filene's Basement "Running of the Brides"!!
So of course I have to email the group... are you up for this? It's a great opportunity to buy a dress valued from $900-$9,000 for much, much less. There will be 2,800 dresses, most of them in my size. I like everything I put on anyways, why not go for the experience? We may get lucky. The tricky question is: are we going to wait in line early in the morning and get matching outfits like totally insane people, or are we going to be rational and wait until the first surging crowd leaves and then we can have a nice leisurely look through the dresses?
I'm totally expecting the very sane option #2…but can you believe my mom is adamant that we get there first thing in the morning??! As is my sister....my aunt...my cousin...my nieces. I realize now, I'm the only normal one in the family (maybe I should end the sentence here, but I will continue with) who wants to get there at ten. So, now its time for research on this thing...and this is where it begins to get scary, there are rules to this thing! Its a very strange parallel universe of shopping, let me just get into it and you will see...
6:30 AM, day of dress, we roll into the Hynes Convention Center. We have our matching shirts on, sky blue tank tops with a little white flower attached to one of the sleeves, quite sweet. I have a silver "B" for bride around my neckline, my mother has "MOB" for mother of the bride, and I have a "SOB" for my sister...being the (heh) sister of the bride. :)
We see the beginning of the line (picture at left) and it's not so bad. We're here quite early it looks like. Doors open at 8:00 and it looks to be that we're in a good position in line, just at the end of those girls down that hallway there. So, we walk down the hallway of fresh faced decorated groups of girls, each group of about 8 (1 bride, 7 friends) in a different pretty color (almost everyone dressed alike in each group). The groups look like dance teams, I am feeling a bit like I'm attending a high school dance competition (not me, I never danced with a team, you would know if you ever saw me dance). So, we get to the end of the hallway, where the line ends, but...the line doesn't end. The nice comfy carpet turns to cold menacing tile, and this hall meets with another, we're turning right and all we can see are more and more groups of girls! We walk to the end of this hallway with a little more sense of urgency. The groups aren't so cute anymore, they are frightening. Who are all of these people? When did they get here? What have I gotten into? Another hallway. Down to the end of this next hallway and we're essentially back to where we started. A large circle and hundreds of girls. And it's only 6:30, more will come.
We sit against the wall waiting for 8:00 to come and keep busy by giving directions to my aunt, cousin, sister and nieces. At 7:45 people start to get agitated and the line that was against the wall compresses and fills the whole hallway. There is such a surge of people that we have to run to keep our space in line. My aunt and cousin have arrived and are in their outfits, but still my sister isn't there. Finally she comes and she and her daughters have to meet us at a sprint the line is moving so fast. It's 7:55, people are getting anxious and are worried about their dress, I'm surrounded by bridezillas and their psycho friends. This is becoming dress war.
8:00 and the doors open. The line pushes forward, we start at a walk, then a jog, then a run. We're down the hallway, around the corner, girls are screaming everywhere with excitement, it takes a minute and a half for us to get into the room...we run in...and all of the dresses are GONE. There are 2,800 dresses in this room. Just a minute ago they were nicely displayed on racks and now they have all been scooped up by manic bridesmaids and brides. The groups grab every dress they can get their hands on and hoard them from the other women. They sit on them. Block people away from them. Huddle them as a group. And fight each other for them, you can hear their hisses and growls. (Here is a video of the entrance, we enter at 2:08 in the clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reVxw25eXNM and here is one a local news show did http://www.myfoxboston.com/dpp/news/offbeat/running_of_the_brides_082109 and we can (barely) be seen a few times in the middle and end of the clip.)
I couldn't believe I ran into a room (and I ran, because I think that's what I was supposed to do) and I don't have one dress. Not even a red dress in a size 2 petite or polka dot one in size 40. Nada. So, I look for my team in their blue tank tops, and thank god we went with a color scheme because otherwise I think I'd be stranded alone for days in this chaos. We regroup on the left hand side, get over our shock and horror and decide to plan. We have decided on stalking. The six girls in my group are walking around to try to find a dress. Any dress. So, I walk around for a while, asking anyone with a large stash of dresses if anyone would give me one they don't want and it's not working. It takes me 30 minutes to get one dress. No one will give up a dress for free, it's all about trading a dress for a dress. But I don't have anything to trade, which makes it tough. Finally, after looking pathetic enough I get my one dress. Hurrah!
I run back to my group with my sad little dress. I see that they also have one other dress. Yay! Well done team! Two dresses of 2,800, not what I was expecting but well…its what we have. So, let's try them on. Oh, oh no. Oh this is so not it. Sure, my sister loves it, but it's not what I'm looking for, and I can't buy a dress big enough to fit Carnie Wilson.
Now we have implement stage 2 of the plan: keep the best dress on, and guard the other one with your life. Those who aren't guarding are looking for new dresses. I am charged with walking about with my best dress on, even if I hate it. This way, other brides can see my best dress. Sure, I don't want it. But someone else does, I have become the display model. And you won't believe what happens, the brides that want my dress send their bridesmaids to get it. But I'm smart to their ways now, I'm into trading too…so I send their bridesmaids to find what I want. I am in business!!! Me and my two dresses and now my team of 6 has grown! I had no idea it would work like this, but it does. As I told you, its a parallel shopping universe that does not exist in your local mall.
After a while we have a few extra dresses, we max out at about six and we work the trading system for about an hour. And then we finally get a bit tired of the trading aspect of this whole game. If we all just walked about the aisles like normal people, this would be a lot easier, but no, of course not, that's not how it works here. But, even so, we're tired of it and are making up our own rules. We start sharing my stash of six dresses (only one in my size and only one that I like, mind you) with the other brides around me. People are shocked at our generosity. And very soon, it becomes fun. We're chatting, we're looking to see how dresses look on the other girls and we're having a good time with it.
Finally, around 10:00, one of the girls next to me gives me a dress and says "I think you were looking for something like this" and then she turns to leave for the day. I try it on, sceptical that she would have any idea and am totally shocked because I love it. Everyone loves it. Brides start coming up to me asking to trade for it. People around are saying how nice it looks. We're getting approving glances left and right. We look around and realize how lucky we just got and decide to call it a day, and even more importantly, we decide to call it a dress!
So, after we buy the dress (with my ATM card mind you and not the AmEx) we head out for a coffee to ease our raging headaches. And then head back into the convention center to see if we can find anything for my second cousin who is just arriving. Re-entering the room now could not be more different than it was a few hours ago. The dresses are back on the racks. There are a few people hoarding on the sides, but most of the crazy ones (who got in line around 3:00am) have found their dresses & left, or have given up. You can walk around the perimeter of the room and see gorgeous dresses being tried on all around you, and they are stunning. It's such an event. The madness is over, it's almost as if the last two hours didn't happen, but I know I was there, it wasn't some crazy shopping nightmare. And this new experience is great but you have to experience the other madness in order to love this sanity. And now I am falling in love with all of these dresses. I want to come back after work (which I have to go to) and see all of these dresses again. It's like playing Cinderella now, each is beautiful and a work of art, total masterpieces. And I have the best one and also this wonderful experience that I will never forget.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
So, in August we headed over to England and visited family and friends, and we continued our exploration of all things Jane Austen. The focus of this year's trip was Pemberley which took us to the Peak District in Derbyshire county. Because there are two superb Pride and Prejudice movies, it is only suiting that there are two gorgeous Pemberley houses: Lyme Park (BBC version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle) and Chatsworth House (the Hollywood version with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen). And the big question is: Which house is more deserving of the title of Pemberley?
We visited Lyme Park first because it was closest to the Macclesfield train station, not a great reason, but a reason nonetheless! The drive there was interesting... the roads are tiny, very narrow and people fly down this thing at 50 MPH. It wasn't helpful that I was a total disaster with the map too, but we eventually made it there and had plenty of time to enjoy the park.
On the drive up from the ticket booth to the house they give you a CD to pop in and listen to some history about the house and grounds. It was a nice little treat and the accompanying music was very pleasant. This house was exactly what I had expected, a happily settled house on gorgeous lands, breathtaking. And everyone there was very pleasant too, the employees seemed to really love working at the house and I was relieved when they didn't scoff when I asked for directions to "the lake". The gardens and lakes were beautiful though and "the lake" where Mr. Darcy dove in to cool off was worth the trip (let's ignore the fact that it was actually a stunt double that dove into this pond/lake, Darcy does end up taking a swim in one of the other lakes on the property, so there was swimming to be done somewhere in the area). These grounds have the appearance of understated elegance and easy natural beauty.
The next day was spent at Chatsworth which was set in a valley of two peaks, from the house you could see one dotted with sheep and the other decorated with man made waterfalls. The park had so many different themed gardens, each with a different entertainment feature, and most of those revolved around water: there was a water cascade (pictured), a willow tree shaped fountain that spouts water from its branches, a trough waterfall, a lily pad pond, and near the private entrance was a grand rectangular reflection pool with a water fountains. There were large scale modern art pieces throughout the estate, a particularly difficult hedge maze (we had an unsuccessful attempt, we were foiled by the foliage I guess you could say, after a half-hour within its walls we were no further from where we started and we attempted every entrance-I swear! Eventually the prospect of rain forced us indoors) and a man made rock garden/mountain overlooking all of these various water elements.
And that's just the gardens, walk into the house and every sight is astounding. It had floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall artwork (and movie paraphernalia!) to take in, and equally interesting was the history of the house and its famous owners Bess of Hardwick, who at one point was the most powerful woman next to Elizabeth I. The quality and attention to every detail has not diminished with time. What took my breath away was the wall murals (pictured). They covered every inch of the rooms with vibrant colors and gripping passion. I only wish I could have seen the private rooms, as I bet the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire have saved the best for their private enjoyment.
I love both houses, and think they are each deserving of the name. But, I cannot say which one I think is the better fit as Pemberley. One house has simple elegance and the other striking beauty. I just can't decide, but I also can't decide which P&P movie I like better either...but one thing is for sure...Macfadyan has nothing on Firth! :)
Friday, July 17, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
The wedding is still 451 days away (counter thanks to the Knot, no I'm not crazy enough to figure that out on my own) but ten days until the U-Haul truck comes along and joins our collective property (enough to fill 10 rooms) into the 3 bedroom house that I have. Of these ten days, I will be away for four, leaving me with less than a week to check all of the necessary boxes. What are those boxes? Well...
- Sit around in my old frumpy pajamas, yes, the ones with the holes in the knees and the leaping sheep. I don't care - they are comfortable and I love them.
- Eat chocolate all night, it doesn't matter what kind really. I started with a Caramello and ended up with a Snickers bar. It is okay to also branch out into ice creams, but do it right by having the necessary condiments and sauces. No skimping!
- Watch girly chick flicks, any Colin Firth movie will do. I'll start with P&P and from there move to Love Actually and end with Mamma Mia. And then repeat from the top.
- Sit in total silence. Sounds stupid, but I doubt it will happen again. Chances are the TV will be on as soon as the cable is installed.
- Maybe have a nap. Whenever and wherever I feel like it. Might try it at the dinner table. Hmm.. Might make more sense to give a go at the couch first. On the spot napping, that's the goal.
Not that I'm entering a jail term, certainly not. I'm ecstatic for him to move in, really, I'm not being sarcastic, really. Really! We have a wonderful time together and I love having him in the house (he complains and complains when I lock him out). I just realize that there will be a time when I will say "wow, I can't remember the last time I...(whatever it may be)", so I'm trying to squeeeeeze in all of the "whatever it may be's" quick.
Perhaps this should be when the 21st century bachelorette party is celebrated? Every couple lives together now before they get married, just try to name someone who hasn't. I can't think of one celebrity. Oh sure, the literary couples of course, but Lizzie could never sneak out the house without Mary tattling. But then again, there is the scandelous situation between Lydia and Wickham, even they moved in together. Oh no...am I Lydia!?!
Some couples even have baby showers before they get married (again, I'm finding it hard to think of a celebrity example who has not), otherwise the term baby-daddy (also, one that I detest) wouldn't exist, see what I'm talking about here?
So this is my unofficial bachelorette-raid the cookie jar-wear comfy clothes-watch cheesy movies-read trashy magazines-and gab on the phone all week-week. :) WOO HOO!!!! Caution: its not going to be pretty.
Of course, next week, there will be different plans.
- I will start actually going to the gym I pay for - I am a bride-in-training, of course. Must look uber-hot on the big day. If this doesn't happen of course I will need to ask all of you to put on five pounds (ten might be safe), thank you in advance.
- I will start eating like a normal person, and buy something green that isn't just for the rabbits. I can always cough it down with some blue cheese. I'll probably have a go at cooking and will pretend that my Italian mother taught me everything she knew, too bad my mother is Irish.
- I'll have to start doing the lawn and watering the flowers, as we're now 1/2 English. Plus, we can be considered a new household in the neighborhood - under a new management team. I'll even give a nice shine to the garden gnomes (also, not just for the rabbits), they certainly will please the neighbors. If only I could find one of those plastic flamingos, that would add perfectly, unfortunately they are not made anymore, I can't imagine why.
Now, for the gentleman, I am sure he is also going through his own mourning period of losing his privacy as well. Not to forget that he'll need this week to improve his immune system to cope with some of the food I will be cooking up, either that or completely burn out his taste buds. Along with countless other adjustments.
I will be scurrying around hiding anything embarassing from my childhood, and making my house open to welcome him in. I hope its an easy process on both of us. Hopefully I'm not that hard to live with. haha. We all know I will be. Oh, the poor guy. Well, I guess this post is a request for you to be easy on him and treat him to a drink every now and again, we all know he'll need it!!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
- 200 books, which you are welcome to borrow (if you like detective novels or travel guides);
- Fred Perry's entire spring line (multiplied by five, its always good to have a few extras);
- a broad selection of Wallace & Gromit figurines;
- a Sherlock Holmes statue; and
- an M&M dispenser in the shape of the Green M, dressed as Lady Liberty. It was full of M&Ms, and thus got the prize spot on the mantle.
I'd say these last few items add nicely to the overall decor of the house. The house was looking too organized and open, the addition of some (Hmm...what should I call it...crap? No. Clutter? No. Junk? No.) collectibles will create some much needed warmth.
Aside from some of the stranger items, there is the common addition of the extra blender -which will be great for the margarita season, a new Play Station 2 - for those all too often rainy days, and the complete collection of Dr. Who and Chief Inspector Morse - oh wait, which list is this one? Oh right, these should also be listed as ... collectors items.
Among other changes in the house, the computer is also being effected by his presence...and it's been eye-opening. Oh no, nothing dirty! Not those kind of sites! Tsk. The good ones: BBC.co.uk (best sports commentary on the web, very rarely does it have anything to do with the sport itself), and News of the World.co.uk (a.k.a The Sun). I've never seen such excellent human interest articles, photo "journalism" of celebrities on the outs (Posh Spice has new boobs! Lilly Allen is attacking another celeb, again! Okay, this site is questionable...) and those pesky royals disappointing the good Queen (oh Harry, what is it now!?). These reports are each made better by the brilliant comments of the UK public. They will rip right through the heart of the matter and brutally attack the writer, the editor, the subject, and their mothers in the most tactful and politeful way that you won't even know it happened. These sites are a delight, enjoy.
This week's move went a bit slower due to my soccer (ahem, football) injury, which is slowly healing (I can't go near the field (pitch) without hobbling around work for at least three days. I can't say it was in pursuit of the game-winning goal in the division finals, as it was an adult Sunday league and we lost 7-nill, but it was my debut game following my previous season-ending injury and therefore all the more pathetic), but we made excellent progress. We only have the larger items left and should be able to do those with one u-haul truck rental in a few weeks.
And then what? Oh right, we'll have to plan the wedding! I am looking forward to getting into the nitty gritty details of the wedding and becoming a bridezilla worthy of the title, but am trying to pace myself by dealing with only one thing at a time. And this week its the move. And looking for closet space to (hide? No.) safely store some of his (Garbage? No.) treasure. Well, I'm sure it will all grow on me, as the chocolate M&Ms are certainly doing their damage already!
So, it may not be exactly Mr. Bingley moving his prized piano into Netherfield to hold the ball of the season, but its a move, and its a man moving, and there will be (some sort of horrible form of) dancing (probably to ABBA after consuming a bottle of wine).
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Secondly, this man is moving in with me (being part of the usual marriage deal, that's not surprising, but he's moving in a few months ahead of the nuptials, don't tell the priest).
Third, there is no third, aside from well, he's English, I'm American and I have a Darcy fetish. I have all Jane Austen's books and I have all of the film adaptions of Pride & Prejudice, and am amassing an embarrassingly large collection of (well, shall we just call it what it is?) chicklit novels about the next chapter of Pride & Prejudice.
Pathetic. But, you know, he likes that about me. And I don't think he's totally crazy for having an obsession with Sherlock Holmes. My only knowledge of anything Sherlock is that my best friend in high school had a cat name Sherlock, and you know, he was a great cat. So, can't be all that bad.
To begin at the beginning can only be properly done with the first line of my favorite book: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." (Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice)
Can't say whether my man is in possession of a good fortune, or any fortune for that matter, but looks like he's in want of a wife...no mention there about a good wife, so I'm glad I don't have to touch on that. So, the blog will be devoted to sharing with you the details of the engagement, move in & marriage of Miss Lesley and "Mr. Darcy" and anything else I feel like adding along the way.
I have posted a picture of me and "Mr. Darcy" as our bobblehead selves, I'm in the likeness of Jane Bennet from Pride & Prejudice (hereafter to be referred to as P&P) in the Hollywood version (also known as the Kiera Knightly version) and my boyfriend's bobble was made with him as Sherlock Holmes, as it was painted by Sydney Paget. It may be that we have too much time on our hands, but it was a really fun christmas gift for both of us and they look hysterical on the mantle.
Well, that's it for now, cheers!