me, rachel
I like to think that I am a rather organized person. Take my word for it. Don’t, for example, ask my mother, because if you asked her she would say that I am not organized…that my life is much closer to chaos than order. By life she means bedroom. I think that’s a big difference, because I happen to think I can have a chaotic bedroom and an organized life, but that is perhaps a different story for a different time.

The kind of organizing I am good at is not separating T-shirts from socks, but making lists. I like to find details, write them down, and then check them off when they get done. I like knowing what exactly needs to be done. This is my approach to wedding planning. So far.

The first thing I did when I got engaged was visit sites like The Knot and for ideas of things I would like to see at my wedding. I looked at gowns, bridesmaid dresses, flowers, decoration ideas, and so much more! Then, I created this handy-dandy desktop folder to save my favorites.

I also poured through magazines looking for inspiration, helpful articles, color schemes, etc.

I also frequent the library, checking out the wedding planning books, budget-saver books, list books, and anything else they have that looks helpful!

Dave enjoys spoiling me (which is pretty awesome, because I enjoy being spoiled!), and when I told him that I was going to go out and buy a wedding planning notebook, he came along and offered to buy it for me! I ended up not getting a notebook, after all, because I realized that paying $30 for a bunch of information I had access to free of charge via the internet and the library was silly. So, I settled on this expanding file, and some pretty paper to print important information on.

Here’s the pretty paper, with at month-by-month checklist of approximately what needs to be done by when. Checklists are very exciting, because I always feel like I’ve accomplished something when I can check it off.

My “wedding radar” is always on the alert for information that I should save for later. I have vendor brochures, stationary sketches, hair and nail tips, DIY decoration ideas, and who knows what all else in that all-inclusive folder. At least everything has a place, or I’d never find anything in that huge pile of papers.

Now I’m just hoping that “organized” equals “low stress.”

me, rachel

Traditions are wonderful things. They give us something to look forward to, and help us know what to expect. They give us guidelines as to how to behave in specific situations. But traditions are just that: guidelines.

Don't get me wrong...I love traditions! Every year I look forward to doing the same things for Christmas. I love traditions for holidays, Sunday afternoons, and Saturday mornings. But my favorites are the traditions we make ourselves. As such, I am not largely tied to traditions that are there just because "it's always been that way." Especially for my wedding.

I'm excited about traditions like wearing white, the veil, even "something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue!" But there are other traditions that I don't know how I feel about them.

For example, the various traditions surrounding the ever-present wedding cake. These include the cutting (and the subsequent smashing) of the cake, the freezing of the top layer (because newlyweds like freezer-burned cake?), and the staleness that is necessitated by how long it takes to frost the intricate buggers. I don't even like cake, and have never once had a wedding cake that tasted good. I have heard they do exist, and I'll believe you. But I have yet to experience it. We will have a cake at our wedding, but neither of us are devoted to cake, so it will be a small one, big enough to serve to those for whom it is not a wedding without cake.

Another wedding tradition I am on the fence about is the garter toss. I thought it was a fun compliment for the bouquet toss, until I found out where this tradition originated. Apparently, in Medieval Europe after the wedding ceremony all of the guests would attend the consummation of the marriage so as to watch and ensure the bride was a virgin. The garter toss came in when they became so eager to help the new couple along in this process that they removed her underclothes for her! I am very glad I'm getting married in 2010!

Anyway, there is one tradition that I have been dealing with rather thickly this past week, and that is the tradition of not letting the groom see the bride before the wedding. This tradition dates back to arranged marriages, where the groom was kept from seeing the bride, for if she was unattractive and he found out before the ceremony, he could back out.

Now days, many brides don't allow their grooms to see them before the ceremony the day of because it builds anticipation. This often extends to the dress beforehand, as well. While I very much respect this tradition, I don't know that it is practical for me. You see, for me, the most important opinion about my dress is that of my fiance, and if he can't see what I'm looking at, how will I know that I've picked one he will like?

While Dave has reassured me over and over that he will like anything I choose, and that I will be gorgeous no matter what, I still covet his opinion. So, I have no problem sharing with him the pictures of my shopping trips. This way, he can point out what he likes, and doesn't like.

Also, I am planning on listening to Dave's opinions, but not telling him which dress I settle on in the end. This much, at least, I will do my best to keep a surprise.

So it's not that I don't respect traditions. I do! And I'm ready to embrace many of them. But I'm most eager to make a wedding that is truly "us," and in the future to create traditions that we love. This is far more important to me than Medieval superstitions!
me, rachel
I hated coffee. Despised it. It was bitter and nasty and made out of grounds which is where dirt comes from which made sense because coffee was basically watered-down mud. Unfortunately, the older I got, the more my friends began to enjoy the stuff, and the more often "talking" meant "Starbucks" not "sleep over." As you can imagine, I was devastated.

After several of these coffee chats, however, I started wanting something to sip, so I asked my wonderful boyfriend Dave to order me something that I might like (read: no coffee). So, he ordered us one of these to share:

A white chocolate mocha. The first time around, I didn't really like it...but I didn't hate it either. So, the next time we ended up getting coffee, Dave ordered it again. It was slowly growing on me.

Before too long, I really liked them! The chocolate was my favorite...I still often said that there was too much coffee and not enough chocolate...but what can a girl do? Then, we all went to college and Starbucks was a once-a-year treat because we had no extra money.

When I got to Cedarville, I started drinking the mochas at our coffee shop, Vecinos.

They were really yummy! I liked the way some baristas made it better than others...especially the one guy who made it taste mostly like chocolate, with the espresso (since that's actually what it is, not coffee) seemingly thrown in as an afterthought.

Now, I'm at home again without Vecinos (which, actually recently changed names to something that I can't recall right now so I'll just continue to call it Vecinos) and without cash to hit up Starbucks. Luckily for me, McDonnalds has decided to cut in on this who specialty-coffee trend, and came out with a small line of specialty coffees, and at college student prices no less!

Yum. Of course, I still have no cash. So, I still only treat myself to a "real" (read: someone else made it) mocha every once in a while. Now I make my own. I'm still trying to find the perfect best one involves melting chocolate chips, but it always leaves solid chocolate in the bottom of my mug that is very hard to clean up. Oh well...I'll keep looking! Any suggestions from the peanut gallery? Do you have an amazing mocha recipe that is hiding from me? I would love it if you did! I mean I would love it if you shared it. If you kept it hiding it doesn't do me much good...but I bet you're happy! But yes, I should go to bed before this makes even less sense :-)
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me, rachel

I really enjoy sewing. I don’t like to make quilts (they are strongly favored by my mother), instead I prefer to try my hand at stylish clothes and purses. There is nothing quite as fulfilling as a wonderful little focal piece that people look at and say “No way, you actually made that?!?”

(I’d like to point out that this is very, very different that someone looking at your handiwork and saying, “Oh, you made that, didn’t you?” This is something to be avoided at all costs, but unfortunately I have my fair share of these pieces. Oh well, live and learn!)

Unfortunately, good fabric is very, very hard to find. All the shops around here seem to cater mostly toward quilting, offering beautiful boutiques, colorful cottons, and tasteful threads. Unfortunately, these fabrics do not transfer well to wearables, at all. Really, to get good clothing fabric I should go to a $$$$ specialty shop in Chicago or somewhere. But some of these fabrics translate beautifully into purses.

Here, let me show you some of my treasures:

Ooo...the Treasure Chest! I'm so excited! What could be inside? Maybe some...

...gorgeous pink brocade! (The folded edge is the "wrong" side of the fabric, not wrong at all in this case! Brocade is beautiful on the front and the back!)

Also, there's some fun pink and black polka dot fabric...tons of it! Enough here for at least one more purse, maybe two if they're small!

Oh and I love this one! All the colors are hand-dyed pieces done by my mom, and then patched together into this heart that was then appliqued onto this black background. I really need to get around to making this will look awesome!

I love this piece...I used it for the lining on a clutch...and really want to use it in something else again!

This is gorgeous...and was the outside to the abovementioned clutch purse.

These are some other goodies in my treasure chest...I actually used the chopsticks as handles in one purse...A totally fun idea but unfortunately I completely botched the purse. So maybe I'll try again.

And these are my latest/next projects...the pink one is for me and the black one for Emily. Unfortunately, I can't find my binding fabric to finish it off! Oh well...I'll figure it out eventually!

So, what are your hobbies? Do you collect anything pretty, or are you utility driven? I love how fabric can be both, but tell me about yours!