Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Recap #6: Cheap and Green Decor

We wanted our wedding to have a smallish environmental footprint, so it was important to us that the minimal decor we used be reused and reusable.

For reused items, eBay was my very best friend. To orient our guests to the importance of the place was chose for the wedding, I ordered a bunch of vintage linen California postcard from the 1900-1940s.

We used these both as simple Save the Dates (printed the wedding information on 3x5 stickers, and pressed them on the back of the postcards), and as escort cards, strung on twine with clothespins, which were the first thing guests saw when they arrived at the wedding site.

Postcards were a fitting theme, as both of us love to send postcards from our travels. I found some vintage toy mailboxes on eBay which complemented the postcard theme on the guest book table.

The postcard theme was picked up on the dining tables, where postcards from places we'd traveled together were the markers for each table.

The dinner table decor was simple:

Local, seasonal dahlias in blue glass vases (re-purposed wine glasses from Crate and Barrel, which guests report they love using post-wedding),

Persimmons and pomegranates, local, seasonal fruits, which guests reported enjoying for days after the wedding, and sunflowers in reused vases from eBay.

We were able to borrow white lights from a classmate who got married at the same spot the previous year,

And scored a bunch of borrowed/ donated paper lanterns from two weddings we attended previously that summer. (These lanterns and some of the vases have now been handed off to a friend getting married in August. Yay, Wedding Co-op! Yay, reuse!)

At the origami table, guests made paper cranes for good luck.

 I think our budget for decor was maybe $200. We spent another $300 on cut flowers, which friends arranged in our vases.

With the beauty of the location, we didn't have to do much.
Images, except for a few, by the incomparable Kate Harrison.
#1, 11, 12 by Doc Water.
Heron by Srabani.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Recap #5: The Unexpected Perils of Being Barefoot

Style flash:
Matching striped sock photos are OUT.
Matching INVISIBLE sock photos are IN.

Some brides have multiple dresses*, with a different one for the reception - I had multiple footwear options.

I wore flipflops to the beach, was barefoot for the ceremony - it's hard to describe just how comforting and grounding it was to dig my toes into the warm sand as waves of emotion washed over me - and then rocked the Jimmy Choos at the reception.

One thing I didn't take into account when planning these changes of footwear was how I'd manage to free my feet of sand so they'd be pretty for the Jimmys.

We left paintbrushes for the guests to clean off their feet.

In my poufy dress, I couldn't manage it myself. In his first act of spousal caring, Eric came to the rescue.

When I got to the reception site, my brother helped me get the remaining grit from between my toes.

Images (except #2 & #3) by the spectacular Kate Harrison.
2 and 3 by the supremely talented Doc Water.

Monday, June 28, 2010

From the beach to the mountains...

Rustic outdoorsy weddings are awesome no matter where they take place.  Jes of A Mountain Bride asked me to do a guest post while she was on her honeymoon.  I revealed my secret strategies for combining wedding planning and grad school.  Go check it out!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Irony: Defined

14K gold and diamond on Gilt

Honeymoon, Part III: How to choose a destination

If you've read the last two posts about our Patagonian honeymoon, in which rarely saw the sun, wore down jackets 24/7, and traveled with four other women, you might be thinking that we were a bit unclear on the concept.

Fact is, we had already slightly shortchanged ourselves on the most important purpose of a honeymoon: a time to relax and reconnect and revel in being married, after the stress and busyness of a wedding.

Though we took a few days to rest and revel on the California coast right after the wedding, our respective teaching obligations required us to be back at work after three days. It's very difficult to take time off in the middle of the semester.

By the time the end of the semester rolled around, and we were ready for a bigger trip, we had also been reveling in being married for three months, and felt less of a need for a lazy or romantic trip. We were eager for the activities that had been put on hold while I was writing my dissertation.

We also wanted a trip that was high on our Life Lists (funny, looking at it now, I don't see Patagonia, but I know it was there). Neither of us had beach vacations on our lists. Though Hawaii is relatively close and convenient, and has good hiking, Eric isn't keen on it. So... to the mountains we'd go.

Choosing a honeymoon destination is also another opportunity to practice the discussion, decision-making, and collaboration skills that prove so valuable during wedding planning.

As I mentioned earlier, we each made a list of places we'd like to visit, and then harmonized those lists, prioritizing places we both wanted to visit the most.

We also made lists of what we wanted to get out of the honeymoon. We realized that we'd be tired after hiking and trying to speak Spanish for a couple weeks, so it would be nice to have a place to relax before jumping into spring semester. The parameters for that place were that it should be:
  • warm (no more down jackets!)
  • sunny (no more rain and snow! rainy Hawaii was out)
  • English-speaking (no more Spanish! Mexico was out)
  • near water
  • uncomplicated (Jamaica was out; all inclusive resorts were in)
  • warm, no I mean really warm (I can get cold in 75 degree weather)
  • require no more than two plane flights to get to
  • not too expensive
We got a guidebook to the Caribbean, and realized that all our parameters pointed to the island of Antigua. So went went, uncharacteristically for us, to an all inclusive resort, and lay on the beach drinking daiquiris.

(We were so relaxed, I don't even have photos!)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Patagonian Honeymoon, Part II

Patagonian Icecap

After drinking our fill of Pisco sours on the estancia, and touring the glaciers and fjords, we met up with four friends from home who were hiking the Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park. The Circuit, which requires more than a week, traverses wild Patagonian backcountry, and sees relatively few visitors.

We joined our friends for the "W", along the "front" of the Paine massif, where you can hike from lodge to lodge, sleeping in comfort. We didn't need to carry sleeping bags, tent, stove, or food. At the refugios, we got hot showers and hot meals at the end of the day. We were even able to order glasses of Chilean wine - or Pisco sours - for a civilized toast at the end of each day. When we set out the next morning, the lodge staff provided a packed lunch - sandwich, fruit, chips, drink, cookie - for the next days' hike. This was luxury backpacking! Meanwhile, our hardcore friends were camped out in the incessant Patagonia wind, heating up freeze dried food with their tiny gas stoves.

A rare moment of sun outside Lodge Paine Grande

At most of the refugios, we stayed in bunk rooms with four to six other people - not exactly the most romantic honeymoon setting! However, in addition to the bunk rooms, Refugio Los Cuernos had several small private cabins, with views of milky blue Lago Nordenskjöld below, and, through a skylight, the jagged Cuernos (horns) del Paine, above.

Even better, though, was the open-air wood fired hottub. After four hours of stoking the fire, the water was finally warm. On one of the few clear nights, we luxuriated under the stars, letting the heat soak exhaustion out of our muscles.

views of Los Cuernos from Valle Frances

On the final day of the hike, Eric and I rose at 4:00 am to climb a few thousand feet to the top of the ridge, where we could watch the sun illuminate the park's namesake Torres. The images of these iconic peaks had seered in my mind from the mountaineering literature that I consumed voraciously during college and after - stories of rock and ice, early starts, howling winds, and harrowing ascents.

Though Eric and I have nowhere near the technical skill - or, after experiencing the atrocious Patagonian weather, the desire - to climb these peaks, they remained lodged in my mind as one of the Natural Wonders of the World, like Half Dome or the Everest region, that I simply had to see.

The view did not disappoint. After bearing with weather that changed on a whim, even in the austral summer, from clouds to rain, to wind, to sleet, to wind, to snow, to clouds, to sun, to rain, during our two weeks in Patagonia, we were suddenly blessed with a brief respite of sun.*

The golden beams graced the Towers right at sunrise...
... just before another snow storm blew in.

*Being near Antarctica, Patagonia is reknowned for some of the worst weather on the planet. The winds are so strong that some town plazas and sidewalks have ropes for people to grab to avoid being blown into the streets.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Just add giant hair flower

Short, simple and sweet.


I'm seeing this at a casual beach wedding, maybe in Mexico, with some sparkly flip-flops and an arm full of bangles.

Or with killer colored heels at the courthouse.

The best part: it's less than $100!

Yours today at Gilt!

I have no official association with Gilt.

Honeymoon: Patagonia!

Glaciar Francés

Travel, hiking and generally being outdoors are among are favorite activities. When we met, I was about to depart for fieldwork in the Himalayas, and I think Eric was intrigued by the adventure of it all.

Fast forward two years: sitting in an airport in Argentina on our way home from a friend's wedding, we decided to make lists of the places we'd like to visit. We each wrote down ten places we'd like to go, in rough order of importance. Comparing our individual lists, we found that Patagonia and Italy were near the top of both.

Lago Nordenskjöld

In the eight months that we've been married, I'm pleased to say that we've managed to visit our top two spots! We are fortunate that the academic schedule allows for long breaks between semesters, that we have two incomes, and that Eric was invited, fortuitously, to give some lectures in Italy.

Both of these trips came about somewhat serendipitously. I have to believe that part of the reason the trips came together this way is that we had clearly articulated our desire to visit these places, to each other and to the universe. Thus, we were ready to jump on opportunities when they presented themselves.

Cuernos del Paine

When a mutual friend starting recruiting people for a trip for a backpacking trip in Patagonia's Torres del Paine National Park, over the winter holidays, we jumped on board. I'd wanted to go to Patagonia ever since reading Bruce Chatwin's In Patagonia, and learning about giant sloth and the wild lands of the estancias.

Joining the group trip meant sharing our honeymoon with four other women!* To preserve some couple time, we ended up visiting an estancia and touring glaciers first, and then meeting the rest of the group half-way through their hike.
Estancia Balmaceda -

where Turismo 21 de Mayo took us horseback riding

A boat trip across a windy lake took us to the base of Glaciar Serrano...
... which is sadly receding because of climate change. The glacier used to flow right into the lake, but now has receded hundreds of meters up the cliff, leaving an exposed scar of raw, bare rock. Locals say that the glacier is receding 10-20 meters a year.

The effects of climate change are being felt the most at the high altitudes and latitudes. Though Chilean Patagonia is at sea level, it is quite close to Antarctica and the South Pole. At these extreme reaches of the Earth, climate is changing much faster than at the moderate latitudes. Average daily temperatures have increased more than 1.8 degrees Celsius (over 3 degrees Fahrenheit!) over the past century.

The boat dropped us off at a small dock, where a Zodiac took us into Parque Nacional Bernardo O'Higgins, reachable only by boat.

Because of the cold and windy weather, and the near freezing water, we suited up like giant orange penguins for our ride in the open Zodiac. Even with all of our clothing (windpants over fleece pants and long underwear, fleece tops and down jackets), it was still cold in the Zodiac.

We walked to a lake at the foot of Glaciar Balmaceda,

and hopped into another boat to get a closer view of the serrated edge of the glacier.

After spending the night in a remote lodge, we rode the Zodiac up Rio Serrano into Torres del Paine National Park, where our friends were partway through their hike.

*One of them, who'd been on
another couple's honeymoon, declared it The Best Honeymoon Ever. Two honeymoon, and neither was her own!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

On doing what you must

The other day, the wise and wonderful LPC wrote a post called How To Live Boldly When You Are Scared as Heck.

She talked about how she'd always wanted to write. She has done many amazing, bold, seemingly scary, things in her life, but the thing that she wanted to do was write. Finally, the time was right: the children were off at college, her job had been misplaced, and she had the time and the courage to start her ever-enlightening blog.

The post resonated like few others have. I, too, have done some things that might seem to require courage (taking a year off before college to volunteer on a farm,* living in Kathmandu, solo treks), but writing regularly had always been the thing I wanted to do that eluded me.

Then yesterday, Sera's Broken*Saucer showed why I might need to become an Im-perfectionist. Perfectionism is the biggest enemy of writing. I know this intellectually - but emotionally, letting go of the need to "get it right" is tough.

Especially, perhaps, for a professor. We are paid to know the right answer. We reach this pinnacle of academic achievement by knowing the right answers, and convincing others that we are right. And by writing dense tomes, filled with obscure multi-syllabic words addressing serious topics (we'll come back to this in a moment).

The ideas for letting go of perfectionism were good. Even better was the link at the bottom of that page to 11 Irresistible Reasons to Write Everyday. This is stuff I need to know. Reasons that will keep me going.

Especially #1: Writing Creates Order. Writing is how I think and process, how I make sense of my life. I started this blog to do just that, but somehow the inversely related increase in work pressure and decrease in wedding pressure caused me to stop writing.

Now, I really need to let go of perfectionism and write everyday, because next up on my Life List is to write that dense tome that will get me a promotion. Really. In academia these days, you need one, or often two, books to get tenure. Let's just start with one, for now.

I've got ideas, data, 429 pages of my doctoral dissertation - all the raw materials to create a book. But this is honestly the scariest thing I've ever contemplated doing in my life. So scary that I've been reading mountaineering literature to talk myself down: if Ed Viesturs can face freezing, falling, and stinky tentmates on all 14 of the world's 8000 meter peaks, AND write a book about it, surely I can simply write a book. I don't even have to fear frostbite. Or hypoxia.

Finally, I read some concrete ideas on setting up your life to support your writing goals and avoid end-of-summer regret, when you realize that you haven't achieved what you wanted. (Though for writing, many of these suggestions could apply to any large project.)

All these reinforcements squashed the Dragon of Doubt, and unleashed rivers of words, the likes of which I haven't experienced since last summer when I was pounding away on my dissertation.

There you have it, my bloggy friends. I've publicly committed to this goal. I used Writing to Create Order, the by-product of which is a bunch of blog posts waiting in the wings for you.

Here's to a productive summer of doing what we must, perfectionism be damned.
(And if motivation fails, there's always the Professional Nag.)

*The gap year wasn't nearly so common when I was 18.

Friday, June 11, 2010

We are Fam-i-ly

I'm finding that what it means to be married - what it means for us to be married - is becoming clear little by little, in dribs and drabs, in small epiphanies, not all at once.

This slow trickle of realization wears away at the pre-programmed Stepford (or Desperate House-) wife tapes in my head that insisted I would immediately don an apron,* quit my job, and never leave the kitchen.

At the gym last night, we realized that we could get a 'family' membership, resulting in substantial savings if the year was pre-paid in full. A family membership. For us. Because we are a family.

The funny thing is, I've shared 'family' memberships of other types with housemates and friends. It always felt like a clever way to save money and pull one over on The Man. It never felt like a significant political statement.

*For the record: I rarely wear an apron when I cook. But I'm usually barefoot.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Old world elegance

I believe that's what we were aiming for here. It's not a common idiom for us - goofy is more like it - but rediscovering this image among the 944 (!) that Kate Harrison sent us makes me want to frame it.

Having just returned from a two week trip to Italy - Milan, Turin, Venice, Florence - we may now be slightly more in touch with our elegant selves.* Italians are unbelievably stylish and sophisticated. Everywhere we went, I was admiring the elegant ensembles of men and women alike. I never saw anyone looking sloppy or less than put together. California-casual doesn't promote such elegance - if you're not wearing flip flops, you're formal enough to go just about anywhere - but I'd like to absorb a bit of Italian style.

*A perk of academic life is being invited to give lectures in exotic locales, and getting your travel expenses paid! Eric scored a sweet deal when a senior colleague was unavailable for the engagement.