Thursday, April 30, 2009

Be Prepared

About a month ago the San Fernando Valley was all a-twitter because it had been reported that a major earthquake on the San Andreas Fault was "imminent" and "likely". I've lived on the San Andres for my entire life and if there is one thing I know for sure it is that we TOTALLY CANNOT PREDICT EARTHQUAKES. Even so, we were intrigued enough by the 'evidence' cited that Boy and I took the opportunity to put together a real, grown up earthquake kit.

We bought a big, under bed size plastic tub from Target and filled it with:

- A very comprehensive first aid and basic medical supply kit like this one, except ours was rounded out with flashlights, batteries, thermal blankets and glowsticks (you know, in case we want to throw a rave or something)
- A 12 pack of bottled water
- A 6 pack of Balance Bars
- Jolly Ranchers (This was actually suggested on the preparatory lists I read. I'm not entirely sure why, but I like Jolly Ranchers, so I got them.)
- Plastic bags
- Toothbrush, toothpaste
- Hand sanitizer
- Baby wipes
- Toilet paper
- An old sweatshirt, pair of shoes and pair of socks for each of us
- Spare glasses for me
- A multi-use wrench/screwdriver/saw dohickey that boy insisted we might need
- A wind up cel phone charger
- A wind up flashlight/ AM/FM radio combo like this one (although the one I've linked to is even more useful, since it includes a cel phone charger!)
- Spare keys
- Cash

We also have a power failure night light in our bedroom, so if the power ever goes out for any reason, the nightlight will light up automatically. Having been in the Northridge quake (and having lived only a few miles from Northridge at the time) I remember how horrifying the complete, pitch black darkness was on top of the noise, shaking, and sounds of things breaking. A little light would've kept me much calmer, I think. Also, filed under the "Things Learned From Northride" category, Boy and I are planning to install child safe latches on all of our kitchen cabinets, ESPECIALLY the high ones. My parents lost just about every dish they had in that quake (including my mom's huge collection of Depression Glass). If our cabinets had been latched, some of those pieces might have been spared.

I hope we don't need any of this stuff, to be honest. But I'm not delusional; we live on the San Andreas so we inevitably will at some point, and I'm glad to have these things handy.

What kind of natural disasters do you have to contend with in your area? What have you done to prepare for them?

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Deck of Doom

Boy and my condo has an absolutely killer private rooftop deck. When Boy first bought the condo years ago, the deck was a total mess. I haven't seen photos, but I've heard all about it. It was essentially a screen door opening out to a pile of rubble. Boy hired workers to come in and finish off the flooring surfaces in order to make the deck useable, but stopped there.

In the process of my buying into the condo we had three (THREE!) appraisals done and in each one, the deck was the shining star. It's rare to have extensive outdoor space in an LA area condo. Most have small balconies, if anything. The range of views we have is unusual as well, as we're nestled right between the valley and the canyons. We have city AND mountain views. Watching our appraisers react to the space really drove home to Boy and I that if we were going to fix up anything in our condo, we should fix up the deck!

The existing stucco and railings looked like 1983 threw up all over them. The walls were pink and the railings were sea foam green. Boy had, at one point, tried to clean up the railings; so the trim and one set of bars were beige. So, yeah. Beige, pink, sea foam. Pretty much.

We picked out a warm pale grey for the walls, sold as "Stucco Paint" and purchased with "Stucco Rollers". The stucco rollers were fluffy and lambswool, purportedly to 'get into the crevices'. But think, for a moment, about what a fluffy wad of lambswool would do if you saturated it in paint. It would DEFLATE, plastering its fibers to themselves and CEASING TO BE FLUFFY. So, then imagine trying to paint a textured surface with a roller in that condition and you pretty much have my weekend. We tried brushes thinking the fibers would get into the texture but no. The only thing that really worked was a) using about 4x the quantity of paint we expected to use and b) me on my hands and knees or up on our ladder pressing paint into the walls WITH A SPONGE.

This procedure took about 9 hours.

Then we went on to the railings which I was excited to paint because I knew there was no way they'd be harder to get covered than the walls were. Plus, they were smaller! I was also excited about the color we'd chosen for them . . . it's sort of a cherry chocolate. I can call it burgundy and Boy can call it brown and we're both happy.

The railings, however, being metal, show every little teensy brush stroke and therefore had to be painted with a little foam edging roller. A little TWO INCH foam edging roller. Of which we had one. So basically, one of us would go over with a brush just to apply the paint, while the other followed behind going back over everything with the roller. For 4 hours.

The moral of this story is that next time some guy asks me outside Home Depot if I "Need help with the painting, Senora?" I AM GOING TO SAY YES.

I'm slowly getting over the pain and suffering of the weekend; and my sunburn. And I am a little excited about the next step, which will involve buying lots of fun furniture! And I'll admit to being really excited about the last step: Deck Party!

Have you had any REALLY HARD home improvement projects? Which have been the worst? Please share so I'll know to avoid them!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Planning Trips!

Because I've been back from my wedding, and the trip of a lifetime, for a WHOLE MONTH already and I'm starting to go a little stir crazy.

But really.

Boy and I typically go on vacations for our birthdays, his in July and mine in August. Its a total yuppie, childless-couple kind of thing to do , I know. But since we're hoping by next year to be not so childless (and therefore, POOR), we decided we HAVE to do our birthday trips. No matter how extravagant they may seem sandwiched into the same year as The Big Ass Wedding Trip. Because in all likelihood we won't be doing them again until we are 60 (Sob).

Boy's July birthday is near enough to July 4th that we usually take advantage of the associated long weekend. One year we did Palm Springs and rode the Ariel Tramway, which was a lot of fun, but totally sweltering. Most years since then we've opted for a Vegas trip instead, just to up the sweltering quotient. On our first trip to Vegas together was jointly for Boy's birthday and my friend Tara's wedding. We stayed at the Sahara, a hotel-going experience that kicked off our VEGAS RULES. The rules being as follows: 1) Do not stay in the cheapest hotel you can find, because it will smell funny; 2) Do not drink anything served in a yard long container; 3) The Monorail kicks ass.

On subsequent, non-birthday related trips we have stayed at the Tropicana which was cute and old-Vegas-y with a great pool, but noisy; and the MGM Grand West Wing which was 100% perfect and fabulous in every way, but is pretty overpriced during the high season and weekends.

For our trip this July we tossed around several options (Ballys, The Hilton, The Monte Carlo) but finally decided on Luxor because of the great rate we found there and for the cheese factor of sleeping in a glass pyramid. Go, cheese!

For my birthday, we always always always go to Disneyland because I'm really a 4 year old in an almost 30 year old's body. Also, because it is my Biiirrrthhhhdayyyyyy. Ever since we got engaged at there, we've taken to staying over in a hotel for at least one night and having the full immersion Disney experience. Is staying at a hotel in Anaheim 42 miles away from our home an absurd, yuppie extravagance? Why, YES, it is. But honestly, people, there is nothing more anticlimactic than getting all sneakered and sunblocked for Disneyland then having to sit in traffic on the 5 freeway for 2 hours. Likewise, there is little more depressing than spending a glorious day at the park only to have to fight your way out of the parking lot and DRIVE ALL THE WAY HOME that night.

When we got engaged, we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott which was beautiful and really spoiled us with its TWO ROOMS and awesome breakfast. The hotel was a gift from Boy's mom though, and just outside our normal budget parameters (even yuppie trips need some semblance of budget!). The second time we stayed over at Disneyland we stayed one night at the Holiday Inn, Anaheim Resort Area which was really comfortable and clean (with an awesome videogame room!), but a bit further away from the park than we would have liked.

This year though? I think we might have found the perfect Disneyland hotel for us. We reserved a room at the Anabella which is directly across the street from the California Adventure side of the park (we can walk to the Disney complex, cutting through the Grand Californian Hotel in about 5 - 10 minutes). We got ourselves a 2 room suite at an amazing price and the hotel has TWO pools, one for adults only. Best of all, since I've been putting all of our wedding and condo expenses on our Disney Visa card, I'll have enough points by August for Boy and I both to get Southern California Deluxe Annual Passes for FREE! FREE! I know!

When I was small we had annual passes to Disneyland for several years; I think one year we went something like 40 times. But still, to this day, I can't remember ever having been to the park two days IN A ROW. It's been sort of a dream of mine since childhood. On this trip we're get our passes the night we check in to our hotel so we can technically go to Disneyland THREE DAYS IN A ROW. I'm positively giddy just thinking about it. No, really, I might keel over with excitement. I should probably stop talking about it now.

Are you going on a summer vacation this year? Where to?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cookin'

I've been trying out new ideas in the kitchen a lot lately, which I think is because of all the awesome new cookware we've acquired (Hot Damn! Getting married rules!). My little spree could also have to do with the fact that the mercury in LA is rising around the 100 degree mark pretty regularly lately, and once things top 105 or so cooking is more or less impossible. I'm trying to get some extra in now!

In the last few weeks I've made Guinness Chocolate Mousse (which I took from the Irish Pub Cookbook by Margaret M. Johnson, but which was more or less the same idea as this recipe), at least two Apple Crisps, Smitten Kitchen's Potato Gratin, A Smitten Kitchen inspired Zucchini Julianne Pasta, and (the real kicker) a big pot of Irish Onion Soup. What is Irish Onion Soup, you ask? It is French Onion Soup, but more awesome because it is IRISH and contains Guinness instead of wine and Irish Cheddar instead of Gruyere. Are you drooling yet?

I adapted the soup from this recipe with a few modifications. Firstly, since I watch Good Eats and have learned much from my Jedi Master, Alton Brown: I did not add salt to the onions while they were caramelizing (as salt makes vegetables leak water and water inhibits browning) and instead, I tossed the onions with a tablespoon of sugar. I did add the salt, as well as a goodly handful of black pepper and double the amount of fresh thyme called for, at the same time I added the Guinness. I used vegetable broth, natch, and my total onion count was 2 lbs of sweet onions (minus one I saved from the bag) and 2 big purple onions. I omitted the vinegar as vinegar makes me gag. Instead of French bread I went with Sourdough and since I had some lying around, my cheese was technically white Canadian cheddar, not Irish. Lastly, I didn't fidget with individual bowls because my brand spanking new Le Creuset French Oven is 100% oven-proof. Also: It is red and awesome.

Probably not the best thing to cook on a 99 degree day, right? But it was delicious. Boy was mighty impressed!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

If it isn't Scottish, it's crap!


Boy and I picked Edinburgh to spend our honeymoon in mostly because it is ridiculously scenic. Edinburgh is comprised of an old town which has been there more or less forever, and a "new" town which is still a few hundred years old. It has a massive castle carved into black, craggy rock. The Royal Mile leads down from the castle to Holyrood Palace and is studded with shops and pubs. Just a bridge-span away is Princes Street in the new town, full of newer, more modern shops and cafes. On the other side of the Royal Mile is the university area, where we found some really unique little spots. As if that weren't enough for options, underneath the old town there are 180-something underground vaults, some of which are considered very haunted and used for creepy ghost tours (of which we took THREE!) and others which house pubs, restaurants, clubs, etc. Edinburgh really is at least four cities in one.

We stayed at the Bank Hotel on the Royal Mile, about halfway between the castle and Holyrood Palace. The location literally could not have been more perfect . . . we were right off the South Bridge, a street that joins the new town, old town and the university area; and more or less directly on top of the network of underground vaults. The hotel was adorable . . . it was built, as the name suggests, as a Bank in the 1800s. It has been recently converted to a hotel with a bar on the ground floor. Our room was front facing and looked out over the Royal Mile . . . we had a double window that opened into the room which was awesome, if not entirely pigeon proof.

On our first full day in Edinburgh, really as our first act of being in the city, we had a baked potato with beans and cheese for breakfast. What? Stop looking at me like that! Kristin from Camels and Chocolate had recommended this little Tatty Shop which just so happened to be 4 feet from our hotel and we just so happened to have woken up too late for the hotel's breakfast. We had coffee with it to make things more breakfast-like, ordered from a Starbucks barista who was just about floored that we were from Los Angeles. Sorry, dude, but I believe it is YOU who happen to live in the coolest city on earth, not us!

We toured the castle, which was really a fantastic educational experience, thanks to their stellar audio guides. About halfway through our tour we wandered into the Scottish Regimental Museum which had us in its thrall for almost an hour . . . Boy reading every little detail of the battles and uniforms and me enjoying the hell out of the bagpipe music and trying not to break into a spontaneous jig.

That evening we took the first of our three ghost tours, with Mercat Tours. This tour, SO FREAKING COOL. They gave us electromagnetic readers and let us wander around the vaults, scared shitless of course. And Boy and I were the only ones to pick anything up on our monitor! AIEEEE!!! Of course, I spent the next 4 days convinced something had followed me out of there which was not so fun. But, overall awesome creepiness rating? ELEVEN.

We followed up the tour with an awesome dinner at The Witchery. After which we met some friends in town for a few drinks, or ten, and wound up finishing the night at 3am in the basement of a pub listening to a few very drunk Scottish people singing drinking songs from the corner of the bar. That was pretty rad.

It was on our way home from that pub that we realized something very odd was happening in Edinburgh . . . a rugby match, set for the next day, vs. Ireland. Which explained all the SINGING going on in town. And at least some of the drunkenness!

We woke up the next morning to the distant sound of bagpipes, that grew closer and closer until we finally realized that there was a BAGPIPE PARADE making its way down the Royal Mile directly under our window. Having been thusly woken, we dragged ourselves out of bed and explored new town, climbed the Scott Monument and took in yet another ghost tour, this time the Haunted Edinburgh Underground tour given by a great guide and culminating in a masked man jumping out from the darkness and scaring the shit out of us all. Everyone politely screamed but me? The loud American? I screamed THE F WORD.

On our final day in Edinburgh we took our last ghost tour, through The Real Mary Kings Close. It was a little Disney-fied, but much fun and not entirely without the creepiness factor. Having been on two other tours so far, I was well and truly convinced that something was up underground in Edinburgh (and, you know, that something may have been FOLLOWING ME). So, basically, I had a death grip on Boy's hand through the entire, very tame and almost kiddie tour. We did a run through of the Scottish Tartan Weaving Exhibit after (fun! free!) and finished up the day with a Scotch tasting. Not to insult anyone's national beverage or anything, but Scotch? Not so good. Our tasting included 4 varieties that got stinkier and stinkier as we progressed. We finished up with an Island Scotch, which tasted like the inside of a well used running shoe. I'd been doing a good job up until that point of keeping my gagging to a minimum, but the Island Scotch did me in. Boy, on the other hand, pronounced it magical and wonderful and immediately went to the attached shop to buy THREE BOTTLES OF IT. He is weird.

Our last dinner in Edinburgh was really freaking awesome. Kristin had suggested we try Greyfriars Bobby near the University and we obligingly went, but were told that the chef was "off until 7!". We puttered around the neighborhood for a bit and stumbled upon Monster Mash, which was really some of the most fortuitous stumbling we did on our entire trip. I had veggie sheppard's pie, Boy had haggis, neeps and tatties and we left so full we practically had to roll ourselves down South Bridge back to The Bank.

In all our carousing through Edinburgh we'd walked by this little club a few times and noticed that it seeemmmeeeddd to be sort of our kind of place, except that everyone was way, way younger than us. On our last night we'd ascertained that there were indie bands playing there so we decided to go. It was like the first day of high school, very much "OH MY GOD WILL THE HIPSTERS LAUGH AT US?". Of course, being the old, seasoned, emo-saur hipsters we are Boy and I blended in just fine. Except for that age thing . . . the drinking age in the UK is officially 18 but really, nobody bothers checking. We were the oldest people there by quite a lot, but fortunately, I think the drunk 16 year olds were too self involved to notice.

All in all, a pretty rad honeymoon, I think!

Monday, April 20, 2009

All Solder, All The Time (Save for tomorrow, wherein which I will write about my honeymoon)

I had myself a little torch party this weekend. I soldered things, and shaped things, I made a few half assed attempts at hammering, did some oxidizing . . . a good time was had.

I found myself with enough good pieces to start a new category in the good ol' shop. I'll be listing a few things today . . . I know my skills will improve with time but for now I'm really digging the imperfect, rough cut look of some of my first pieces.

Let me know what you think!

Oxidized Sterling with Iolite. I made this from a scrap of sterling wire I had lying around. It was my first fully realized piece of the weekend, and might still be my favorite!

Knotted Earrings. A royal pain in the be-hind! I melted the wire entirely a few times trying to solder these teensy, tiny joints. But I love how they came out. I put them up on flickr and they've gotten a ton of views. Boy, however, thinks they're weird looking. What do you think?

"Diamond" and Pearls Pendant. I worked and worked and worked this piece. Almost tossed it a few times! But in the end I think it came out beautifully. V. beachy-feeling.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I'm going to wear it to Disneyland, so it can visit the Haunted Mansion


Of all the projects we're going to do in my silversmithing class, the spider web pendant is the one I'm certain I'll wear most often. The instructor gave us the option of designing a snowflake . . . or anything else really, so long as we wound up soldering at least 49 joints. Why 49? I'm not sure . . . but I think the fact that this class can be taken for a grade and credit has something to do with it. I had such an instant, magpie reaction to the example spiderwebs she showed us that I didn't really even think of making anything else. I have since, and I'm planning to start another project this weekend (<-overachiever), but for starters the web suited me just fine.

We started with the silver wire we had MADE in our last class. Yep, MADE! We each bought an ingot of fine silver, sawed off a 5mm chunk and ran it through various presses and runners to make a length of about 4 feet of 1mm wire. Making wire isn't something I'm going to do in the "real world" outside of class, but it was an awesome experience and a lot of fun to do!

I cut 5 pieces of silver and soldered them together in the center, making the basis of my web. Then I used a divider to measure out the interior sections, soldering them on each side to the base star. Solder is a bit finicky and some of the technique can be counter intuitive. Number one in the "Things I Didn't Expect" category: Solder will flow towards heat. So if your solder starts to spill away from where you want it, the instinct is to move your torch to where the solder is and try to 'pick it up' and shift it back. You actually need to do the opposite though . . . move the torch completely away from the solder and apply heat where you want the solder to go. WEIRD! And kind of thrilling and magical when you get it right.

I worked my butt of for the entire class, 3 hours total but some of that was watching demonstrations and whatnot, so a good 2 hours at least just on soldering. And I was done! Or, as done as I could be for one class. I still have to file and polish my web, solder on a bail, and make a little silver spider to perch on the web (how cute will that be?!?!).

It is all I can do not to whip out the torch and start soldering right now. It really was that much fun.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Caernarfon Castle and onward!


North Wales is studded with castles built by Edward I. Conwy is one, and the next one over is Caernarfon. The morning after the wedding, in lieu of a "wedding brunch", Boy and I took our families on a daytrip to Caernarfon. We started the day off with a walk along Conwy's town walls, on which there were various birds, many of whom wanted me dead. Then we rode in a local bus up to Caernarfon. We had lunch in a cute little local pub and spent a few hours running amok in the castle.

Caernarforn was built not long after Conwy, but in a completely different style from Edward I's other border castles. Having recently been on crusade, Edward I incorporated some eastern building designs and techniques into his newest castle, such as varying stone colors for a striped effect.

We took the bus back to Conwy in the evening for our final dinner at the Castle Hotel. You guys, seriously? The food . . . TO DIE FOR. On the final night I had a cheese and onion tart, a rocket, Parmesan and pesto salad, and another round of the fantastic passion fruit desert I'd had the first night. I also got involved in an order of cauliflower cheese. Its one thing for the food at a hotel to be spectacular, but its something completely different for it to be spectacular for meat eaters and vegetarians . Both of our families: STILL TALKING ABOUT THE FOOD, a month later.

The next morning boy and I headed out to Edinburgh. We took a cab just over the bridge to Llandudno Junction and got on a train for Crewe. At Crewe we were supposed to meet up with a high speed train for Edinburgh. Easy! Except just as the supposedly high speed train pulled into Crewe we were told that it wasn't actually going to Edinburgh. Something about it not being a high speed train after all and therefore being unable to take the tracks the rest of the way to Scotland. We were told to take a train to Manchester Piccadilly and switch to an Edinburgh train there. At Manchester Piccadilly, I found the train to Edinburgh listed on the board then before I could even read the platform the listing was straight up removed. Not listed as cancelled or delayed, REMOVED. Way to make me think I'm nuts, Manchester Piccadilly! Anyhow, I determined the train was in fact cancelled and I noticed a train headed for York. Now I knew that most trains from London to Edinburgh stop in York anyways, and those trains run pretty darn frequently. I also knew that York's train station has a temporary luggage hold. And since it was around about lunch time, Boy and I decided FUCK THIS! we were gonna get off at York and spend a few hours in one of our favorite cities. My only regret while planning our wedding trip was that I wouldn't have a day to spend in York, so as clusterfuckity as the whole train fiasco was, WHATEVER. Cause we went to York.

We had lunch at the Golden Fleece, an awesome little pub and inn where we'd stayed for a few nights on a prior trip. Then we did some extremely fruitful shopping (Paul Smith for Boy, the York Antique Center for me!). I had it in the back of my head that I'd like an antique ring, something to wear on my right hand, as a honeymoon souvenir. Boy and I found a gorgeous little ring at the antique center . . . 18k gold, perfectly intact hallmarks marking it as dated 1901 from Birmingham, set with two sapphires and a small diamond, and ACTUALLY MY SIZE. (My size being FOUR, i.e., NOTHING is ever my ring size!) SQUEE!!!

After we'd finished up in York we got on a train for Edinburgh (FINALLY!) but, so as not to be outdone in clusterfuckityness, the train we boarded was more or less full. So we wound up riding 2 1/2 hours sitting on our luggage just outside the bathroom door. BUT WHATEVER, we were on honeymoon. :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Class Tonight!!!

Despite my rocky start, I'm actually really excited about my second silversmithing class tonight. The first class . . . eh . . . I walked in and realized pretty much everyone had taken the class before and already had their tools and a project in progress. Then the first thing the instructor asked us to do was to draw a design for a cut out piece and if there is one thing in this world that I cannot do under pretty much any circumstances it is drawing. Then when we finally got down to using the jeweler's saw I couldn't get the hang of it right away and I busted through 4 saw blades (and the heel of my right hand) within about 10 minutes. HOWEVER, in the days after that crummy class, I've gone out and bought my tools which are all kinda cool, I've had a think about what gemstones I want to use for some of our pieces and had fun shopping for those, AND I brought my shiny new tools home and did some work on my initial piece. I'm pleased to report that I've made peace with the jeweler's saw and now that I've got the hang of the technique, I feel a little silly for having cried halfway through the class. Never claimed I wasn't melodramatic!

The cutout piece we're starting with is in brass and tonight we're going to learn how do file it for finishing, since the jeweler's saw leaves rough-ish edges. Then, we're going to break into our silver ingots (we're using INGOTS for the class, not premade wire or sheet!) and start on our second project, a spiderweb pendant kinda like this one. Then we're going to be making a ring similar to this one, except I'll be using a (REAL!) ruby (Boy's birthstone) and a peridot (mine). Then a nice, big, chunky cabochon ring like this, for which I'm probably going to use a labradorite stone (but I bought some lapis and a garnet as well!). Then, lastly, we're going to make a rose ring like this one but with a stone set into the center; I've bought an iolite stone for this project.

Needless to say I think with that parade of kick ass jewelry I just linked to, I'm pretty excited about learning all these new skills! I'm going to have to watch my tendency to get frustrated though . . . I've been making jewelry and selling it pretty successfully for over 2 years now but that doesn't mean I can expect to automatically be stellar at working with these new tools. I'm starting to get into the spirit of learning them though!

Random side note . . . OUR SHUTTERS WERE FINALLY INSTALLED!!! They went up Saturday and yep, they weren't exactly what we ordered and yep, a large chunk of our wall went missing when they were bashed into place but you know what? WE HAVE SHUTTERS. The "three week process" of ordering them and having them installed is finally, after THREE MONTHS, over. And they look pretty damn good. So, maybe not 100% enthusiastically, but can I hear a mildly amused "Yea! Shutters!"?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Wedding Day


I managed to eat half a scone while getting ready, wrangle my hair with minimal pain and suffering, get my makeup on without any big disasters. I even touched up my (BLACK!) nail polish without any smudges or stain nightmares. I know lots of brides have an army of people helping them get primped and ready for their big day and, I'm not gonna lie, that sounds like fun; but doing everything myself really worked out well for me. It gave me something to DO!!! instead of sitting around for 2 hours worrying about the weather!

As it turned out, the weather totally cooperated. By the time I was dressed and ready the sun was shining and it was, dare I even say, actually kind of warm. I walked down the stairs of the hotel to meet Boy and his family and, even though its a total cliche, I thought it was the most adorable thing in the world when he saw me and said "Wow".

We walked over to the castle which was kind of an event in itself. I was in my huge white dress, we had our photographer running ahead of us taking photos, and my dad running behind with a video camera. We must've looked like we were on some sort of parade! Wanna see the video my dad took? HERE!

We ran into our tour guide, Neil on the way into the castle and took a photo with him. I hadn't actually told him in advance (or, you know, AT ALL during the tour!) that we were getting married at the castle. I think we freaked him out just a little bit, but he was a good sport posing for the photo anyways!

We found a sunny patch of grass right about where I'd pictured us having the wedding, in the castle's main courtyard. Boy and I had written the entire ceremony ourselves, save for an intro our officiant wrote for us. We incorporated a handfasting because of its medieval origins . . . there were six vows and with each vow one of our (six!) guests placed a cord over our hands. Our officiant then tied all six cords together . . . literally, tying the knot. We ended the ceremony with a Carl Sagan quote "For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love." You can watch the whole ceremony HERE!

Then, we took roughly forty billion photos! Many of which I'm sure you've seen already via our Flickr site, but just indulge me for a second while I post a favorite or four here!:

In Infrared:

Parents:

Siblings:


Our fantastic photographer, Jane Newman, and her husband drove us across the estuary for some shots on the beach:


We drove back to the hotel for a toast:










And then for a spectacular dinner at the Castle Hotel of which there are very few pictures because we were all busy EATING! The cameras all did fly out for the cake cutting though!

In short: It was perfect.

*All photos by Jane Newman, www.janenewman.co.uk (Save for the cake shot which I think was taken by Boy's brother . . .or dad . . . )

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

To Conwy

If you know me on flickr and twitter you probably already know that we got our professional wedding photos back yesterday! We LOVE them and I'm going to share my favorites and talk about the wedding in my next post. For now though, it seems to me I left you all at Hampton Court . . .

. . . We woke up the morning of the 9th and all piled into a van headed for London Euston station. This was our first big train trip as a group (8 of us!) and I was really concerned about getting everyone to the appropriate platforms on time and keeping the party together and whatnot. We managed it though!

We took one train to Chester then had to switch for our teeny, 2 car train to Conwy. Conwy is a "request stop" meaning they don't stop the train there unless you physically ask the conductor to, which we ALL did, thereby annoying the heck out of the poor guy, I'm sure!

We finally (and fairly painlessly, it must be said) arrived in Conwy only to remember that the station has no lift. Roughly 45 minutes later when we'd all dragged our bags and selves up the flight of stairs to the town, we got ourselves checked in to the Castle Hotel and were officially IN WALES!

We had a quick lunch at one of the local pubs and did a bit of walking through the picturesque, walled medieval town. We had dinner (as we did every night) at the hotel. Dinner the first night was just the tip of a magnificent iceberg. The food at the Castle Hotel is TO DIE FOR. Even for vegetarians! The first night I had Carrot and Coriander soup, Butternut Squash Ravioli and the most insanely amazing Passion Fruit Tart ever. The thing had a creme brulee top and came with a dark chocolate cup filled with pineapple ice. That desert alone is worth going to Wales for. Have you booked your trip yet? I'm waiting!

The next morning, our WEDDING MORNING! EEP! We woke up and the weather looked like this. Oddly, I was really calm about the whole thing. I kind of like gloom anyways, and while I had hoped for at least a lack of ACTUAL RAIN on my wedding day, I was so exited I honestly didn't care much one way or the other.

We went down to the castle for our tour. Our guide, Neil Hilton, was absolutely amazing. He gave us so much background and history. His tour really brought the castle to life for us! We learned all about medieval building methods and what Edward I was trying to accomplish by building so many castles in Wales and, mostly, about all the gruesome ways we would have died had we been medieval invaders attempting to raid the castle. Good thing for us we just wanted to get married there!

And then . . . I ran back to the hotel to get ready! Which is another post!!!

Slightly off topic, but my first metalworking class is tonight and I'm SO FREAKING EXCITED! I'll tell you guys all about it, promise!