Wedding Countdown Ticker

Monday, February 28, 2011

Sidebar: Internship

I am a clinical psychology doctoral candidate.
The only thing that I have left to complete before I am cleared for graduation is for me to do one year of a pre-doctoral internship.
I applied for some last year and did not get one of the ones I wanted.  I decided to take another year - this year - to develop my skills and curriculum vitae so as to be a stronger applicant when I reapply this year.

This year:
I applied to >20 sites.
I received 4 offers to interview.
I did not match to an internship.

I found out Friday morning, the 25th.
My birthday was the 24th.
Very disappointing result.

Now what? I mean, I still need an internship for next year because I am going to graduate May/June 2012.  No. Matter. What.
So after the results were posted, the matching system released they also released a list of internship placements that didn't get all the interns they needed.  So I'm applying to a great and very many of these placements.  I will know if I get one of these placements on March 28th, a Monday morning.  The Monday morning, in fact, following my bachelorette weekend.
Even so, I could -again - not match through this national system.
Thus, I have already applied for a variety of internships through the California system.

For those who aren't already familiar with this process - and even many who are - it's a convoluted and very involved process that essentially involves gobs of stress and uncertainty.

I say all this mostly to say that this result, among other things, means that I - and thus, Chris, as well - am still in limbo.  Past these next 12 weeks, I have no clue as to where I will be living or what I will be doing next year.

Possible scenarios:
(1) Chris and I live together in the Bay Area while I work at UC Davis earning about $25K
(2) I live in Zephyrhills, Florida (very near my Dad's family) and earn $39K working at a corrections facility there; Chris tries to transfer
(3) I live in places with no Southwest Airport, like Podunk, Indiana
(4) I live in Los Angeles earning $0 (not a typo); Chris tries to transfer

And many, many other iterations of similar living arrangements, types of work, places to live, and income levels.
I could earn nothing all the way up to the $39K.  I could be in the Bay, in San Diego, Texas, Florida, Ohio, New York....anywhere.  I could work at a university, corrections facility, community mental health center, or more.  Chris and I could live together full-time, part-time, or not at all on other sides of the country.
Oooh!  Also, I could start as early at July 1st, or as late as September 1st.

We'll see.

I must have used that phrase about a katrillion-jillion times during this whole internship process.

And yet....
it's true.

And will be for at least four more weeks.
Oh golly.

Four weeks from today is the second judgement day and I have no earthly clue how it will be.

And also this other little thing where I'm getting married in 82 days.

Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sad News

Chris and I learned recently that his grandfather has passed away after a long battle with cancer.
Services are being held this week.

I only had the privilege of meeting him on two occasions, but I know that he was an incredible, loving man.
Of very small comfort is that we did send him our wedding invitation, so he got to see it before he passed.

My heart and thoughts are with Chris and his family at this difficult time.
Although his passing was not entirely unexpected, the loss is poignant.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sidebar: Scarlett Marie

On February 20th, 2011 at 4:25pm, my brother and sister-in-law welcomed into the world a brand new, beautiful baby girl.

Scarlett Marie Gray

She weighed 7 pounds and 1 ounce at birth, and measured 19.5 inches long.

I love her so much, and I am so proud to be an auntie.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Three Months

The countdown continues.

It's hard to believe that there are only three months remaining until the wedding.

I suppose I say that every time a new benchmark rolls around.
And yet, it feels true.  Every time.

The ball keeps rolling faster and faster.
As the days tick past, my excitement does my knowledge of the many, many things left on the checklists and to-do lists.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Invitation DIY

Not too long ago, Chris and I set out to prep and send all of our wedding invitations.  Despite still needing a handful of confirmed addresses, we buckled down and got them sent as I posted before.
I also said that I wanted to post about the actual prep itself. So. I'm doing just that.

My beautiful set-up for making those invites:
I've got: 12" x 12" red and light blue vellum paper, a bone folder, a ribbon-hole-punch, a paper slicer, reams of turquoise and red gingham ribbon, and the invites themselves.

The back of the petal holders.

Front and back of the invites all folded together. 
It actually took quite some time with the bone folder to get the invites together like this.  The invite itself is inside, a square printed with all the information.  I had to put the invite in each petal folder, get the sides to all fold in just right so that it would look like the bottom part of that picture.  Then, I took the bone folder and creased down all four edges.
Also, because I'm paranoid and crazy, I shook some periodically to make sure that I'd actually put the invite on the inside.

Then came the vellum and ribbon part.  To make the invites look like this:

  1. I took the vellum I had ordered and sliced it into one-inch-wide strips using the paper slicer (slash my favorite helper).
  2. Used the ribbon punch to punch the holes in both ends of the vellum strips.
  3. I cut the gingham ribbon into foot-long pieces.
  4. I placed an invite in the center of one of the vellum strips.
  5. I folded the ends of the vellum (doing my best to make sure they were even) over the front of the invite, creasing it on each side with the bone folder.
  6. Then came the tricky part: tying a length of ribbon into a bow....without tearing the vellum (which I did many times).

Once all those steps were done (and goodness gracious did that take for-ev-er!!!!!) it was time to print the envelopes.
Honestly, it was such a frustrating process using Microsoft Publisher, and Excel Spreadsheet, and lots and lots of ink and envelopes. I don't even want to get into it.
Suffice to say, eventually, all the envelopes were printed and ready for their invitations.

We stuffed them all and I couldn't resist adding one more touch:

Shimmery turquoise heart stamp.
The great thing about a crafty/DIY-style everything is that it doesn't have to be perfect!  Not all the stampings were perfect, but that's totally okay!

All boxed up and ready for the big invite drop-off!

Phew!!!  Just remembering all the steps is exhausting!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Perfect Fit: My Rings

Before we got engaged, Chris spent many hours deciding on my engagement ring.  Because I had been told that I was not going to be able to choose my ring, I had sent him probably close to 100 pictures of rings that I liked so that there was no question about things that I liked.
So Chris went to a jeweler with one of those many pictures in hand and described to the jeweler what he like about the ring in the photo and how he wanted it to be different for the special-commission engagement ring he wanted.  A few months later, Chris was summoned back to the jewelers and shown the ring that had been created: my engagement ring.  After he proposed, I was amazed at how perfectly he had gotten the ring.  
And yes, these are the best photos I could find of the ring on my delightful sausage fingers.  ;)

And theeeeen, many moons later, we went shopping just to look at possibilities and directions.  Along the way, we found a ring that just slid in perfectly with my engagement ring.  So we took some time to think about it.....then we went back to that store and bought it!

It came in from beings size a few weeks later.

I can't help but think that, considering the uniqueness of my engagement ring's shape (in terms of engagement rings, anyhow), that the new wedding band fits incredibly well.  It will fit even better when we get it soldered together after the wedding.

I feel very fortunate to have found such a perfect fit with such ease.

Now I just have a few dozen days left to wait before I can wear it all the time!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wedding Weather

I have had a few questions about what the weather should be like for the weekend of the wedding.
Some people are worried about it being too cold, too hot, rainy, or some other difficulty.
Fortunately, weather in Northern California is generally predictable in terms of rain, and even getting a good sense of what the weather will be like is reasonably reliable.

In order to help out, I've looked up - previously and then again now - what the weather has been like in the past and what it should be like for the wedding:

 This is the history of the weather for the time span from May 19th through May 23rd. 

Pretty satisfactory.

Of course, we'll keep tabs on the weather when the dates get closer and we'll let people know if any major differences from this expectation arise but....for now, anyways.....I'm pretty satisfied.  We should be in for a long, beautiful day.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sidebar: Dissertation Complete!

For the past nearly four years now, I have been working on my dissertation project.
I have spent countless hours reading, writing, editing, prepping, consulting, and doing more writing and editing.
The result was a 270-something-page manuscript that included an original novel, positive results, and a treatment manual.

In January, I sat down with my committee (READ: three psychologists and faculty members) to defend the product.
They passed me, but made some suggestions for edits.
So over the past month, I made changes and send drafts to my committee's chair.
When he returned a copy with a thumbs-up and no edits, I sent it off to be reviewed by the dissertation clearance office (READ: one person).
When he sent it back with no suggestions for changes - less than a week ago - we scheduled a day for the clearance meeting.
That meeting was today.

Despite the rain in the city, I made it in, pages in tact.
A few issues came up, but were quickly resolved.

I handed over my pages (on 100% cotton paper that cost nearly $40 per ream...and I had to buy two reams) and nearly $250 in money orders.
He shook my hand.
I left the building.

As of today, I am officially, 100%, no-holds-barred, completely, and utterly FINISHED with my doctoral dissertation.

The feeling of freedom simply leaving those doors and into the San Francisco drizzle was extraordinary and liberating.
I have finished my dissertation.
I have completed all required coursework for graduation.
All I need is to complete one year of full-time internship (speaking of which, applications to the California system were due today and I will find out next Friday, the 25th, whether or not I get one of the national-system placements that I applied for previously).

So close.

Time to celebrate.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Long ago, we decided to have a friend of ours - an aspiring professional baker - make our wedding cake.
Today, we had our consultation with her.

It was so delightful.
She brought us three mini cakes to taste in three flavors specified by Chris: chocolate, lemon, and pineapple-strawberry.

Now, as I posted before, this cake is not going to be eaten by anyone but us since we're having the cupcakes for the guests.  That meant that Chris and I didn't have to consider anyone but the two of us when making decisions about the cake.

When she came in, we dove right into the cakes.
The chocolate and lemon were super-delicious, so Chris and I settled on those.

Then we discussed with our cake-baker about the look that we wanted.
The only thing I knew going into the meeting other than size was that I wanted the frosting to be white (we went with buttercream) and I wanted it to look like a cake.
We came up with something like this:

Except that instead of the flower on top it will be our logo printed on white chocolate, and instead of the black ribbon it will be red/white gingham ribbon, and instead of plain white fondant it will be buttercream with some turquoise colored white chocolate flowers.

Maybe that's a lot of qualifiers, but I couldn't find a better photo.

I was definitely impressed with her and I can't wait to see our actual cake on our wedding day.

Plus!  She said she was going to do trial-runs, and she'll send us photos when she does.  I love cake.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

One Hundred.

There are now one hundred days left until the wedding.

That's kinda scary and kinda exciting.

The countdown just keeps rolling forward, regardless of whether or not I get things checked of that to-do list.

Thinking about it makes me smile and my heart beat faster.  I think about seeing Chris waiting for me when I turn that corner, ready to walk down the aisle.  I think about dancing in the not-quite-summer air, with stars and lights twinkling around us while Chris makes me keep doing spins until I lose my balance just a little during a swing song.  I think of the people I love most in the world celebrating with us and showing their love just with their presence.

I also think of those few last addresses that I need to get, and the decisions as yet unmade.  I think about some of the things that could go wrong.  I think about how I need to make sure that I reserve enough linens, and that I still need to figure out most of the songs we're going to use during the wedding.

I can't wait....but I'm glad that I still have more time before everything needs to be done.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gone Postal

I just want to share my excitement that the first round of invitations - that's some 70-odd invites - went to the care of the United States Postal Service today!!

While we are still waiting on a good handful of confirmed addresses for friends and family members, but we figure that they won't know the difference or mind.

We did a lot of DIY on the invitation prep and packaging, so I'll post about that later (plus pictures).  For now, I'm just excited to have taken that step.  It's a big and important one.

Although it was a task that could have been undertaken by one person, I decided that Chris and I should definitely do this one together.  Although we had collaborated on prepping the invites and had them all wrapped, sealed, and stamped when we arrived at the Post Office, we still went to the self-service machine to check the postage so as to avoid 70 returned envelopes for insufficient postage.

We click the buttons, do the thing, and - lo and behold! - the machine tells us that it will be $0.81 per envelope.  But, but!!  All my internetz research said it should just be $0.64 - the extra just to account for their square shape.
So we take the shoe-box full of invites to the counter (just inching in before the lunchtime rush, phew!!) and look to our friendly neighborhood government employee for confirmation that the machine was wrong.
It was.
Instead, the correct postage cost is: $1.03 per invite.
So we shelled out for another $0.44 stamp each (just for simplicity).

Theeeeeeeeeeeen, after several peel-and-stick repetitions we tooks our hefty stacks and slid them, a few at a time, into the mailing slots.
With the last stack going in Chris looks at me and goes: "duhn, duhn, DUUUUUHN!!!"

We laughed.
We left.

We're ready for this.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hotel Rooms

We finally - after much ado, many phone calls, and emails - have reserved a block of rooms at a hotel where the wedding guests may choose to stay the nights before and after the wedding.

This whole process was much more trying that I ever would have guessed and required the intervention of an event-planning professional in order to make sure that we got what we needed and that we weren't getting screwed over in the process.

To cut to the chase, we've selected:
Hampton Inn and Suites Suisun City Waterfront

I went back and forth with family, wedding planner, and the hotel to determine a group rate.  Our coordinator initially hemmed and hawed and made a huge deal out of giving us a reasonable group rate...trying to convince us that this property was so highly desirable that they would sell-out the rooms the weekend of the wedding...even without our help.

Turns out, also, that the woman who we had met and coordinated with initially left the property for a different hotel in the Hilton sphere....without telling us!  And without passing along our information to the woman taking over her job.

Although I was sincerely unimpressed with the way our group was handled, they did agree to hand out the Out-of-Towner Bags without a surcharge (apparently a surcharge of $1-$3 per bag is the norm).

Now, finally, our friends and family have a designated place to stay the night before and/or the night of the wedding.  In order to get the group rate, however, one must call the hotel and mention our wedding.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Cupcake Tour

Long ago, Chris and I decided to have a small cake that we'll cut, but then do the rest of the cake-provisions cupcake style.  I scoped out all the cupcake places I could hear of in the Concord/Walnut Creek area (chosen due to it's proximity to the venue) and make a list and driving directions to minimize drive time and maximize deliciousness.
We chose the following cupcake shops/bakeries to hit-up:

  1. Alpine Pastry and Cakes
  2. A Sweet Affair
  3. Walnut Creek Baking Company
  4. Kara's Cupcakes
  5. Frosting's
We toured around to each of these places in turn and purchased a few from each place as our own sampler plates.  Then we went home to taste all of our options - in order - and make our determination.
Here's what we thought:
  1. Alpine Pastry and Cakes: both the frosting and the cake itself were a bit grainy, and the cake was a little dry.  The presentation wasn't very good -- the cupcakes didn't look particularly appealing.  I quickly crossed them off the list.
  2. A Sweet Affair: the overall feeling was "meh" with their cupcakes. Nothing that interesting and a very small selection...they definitely weren't a cupcake specialty shop (which we knew going in).  Everything was just....fine. I didn't immediately dismiss them as an option, but I was ready to try the remaining cakes.
  3. Walnut Creek Baking Company: they were closed when we went by so......outta luck, buh-bye!
  4. Kara's Cupcakes:  we were immediately optimistic about this place when we walked in; they're an all-cupcake shop and a highly-lauded multi-location shop. The shop itself was cute and the branding and presentation very good.  Chris was so excited about the very many and interesting flavor options that he ordered 6 cupcakes (as opposed to the 3-4 at the other shops....and what we had discussed).  When we tried them, they were easily better than both Alpine and Sweet Affair.  Even so, I wasn't as blown away as I wanted to be.  Some of the cake was very dense and some of the flavors were....not, at all.  The sweet-tart balance was good, and none of the frosting was over-sweet, and they all looked very good.
  5. Frosting's: when I started trying these after having had bites of about a dozen cupcakes already, I was immediately impressed.  The cake was moist, the frosting the perfect amount of sweet, the flavor balance was very good (the lemon was perfectly tart & sweet), the presentation was super cute (and looked easily personalized), and the flavor options were many.  Overall, when I finished trying all the cupcakes, Frosting's was easily my favorite.  

Chris tried the cakes later due to schedules, so I was nervous that he would like Kara's better and we would have a fight on our hands.  Fortunately, he agreed with me on the major drawbacks of Kara's (low flavor and cake density).  I also realized later that....Kara's Cupcakes look like Kara's Cupcakes.....not necessarily Chris and Carolynn wedding cupcakes. Which, maybe that sounds silly, but I like the idea of having more decorating options and more say-so in the overall look of the cupcakes.  Plus, the different flavors are more discernible from one another.

Thus, we have a decision and a cupcake vendor selected:
Frosting's in Walnut Creek.

Next up in Cakes: sampling the actual wedding cake options with our selected cake-baker and former roommate, scheduled for next week.