Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wedding Wednesday: Save the Dates

With about four months to go until our big day, we sent out our Save the Dates a couple weeks ago. Can I tell you that using Paperless Post for these was the best idea I've ever had? And I'm not being paid to say that, although, Paperless Post, if you're out there, I'm more than open to taking some cash!

You can see the design we selected above. We were originally hoping to letterpress our invitations at the Dartmouth Book Arts Studio, so I wanted something that looked kind of fun and typographical to match. We, uh, bought a house in the meantime, so that plan has fallen by the wayside, but I'm really happy with the design and since we've just picked out our invitations, I can say that they still have the same feel. I am someone who wants everything to match, so it's kind of fun to force myself out of the comfort zone and do mismatched stationary for the wedding.

I was mildly concerned that some of our guests (particularly some of my older family members) would have trouble opening or understanding the email, but the tracking on there tells me that of the 65 we sent, 62 were opened, and about 25 people even realized they can send us their address through the system. The tracking was amazing for me to have because I'm always paranoid about people not getting mail, and of course most people don't respond to mail anyway, so having this as a way to see who had seen it was wonderful.

We're having a somewhat casual wedding, so email felt totally fine to me, and for pretty much every single person but us, it's a destination wedding, so we had a lot of information to convey, and having our website featured so prominently was helpful.  I'm so pleased with how it turned out. Plus, the tracking also allows people to send us their addresses, which will help keep everything neat when it comes time to address our invitations.

I'd also do the invitations via Paperless Post because they make it SO easy, but I love stationary and paper mail, so I'm taking the opportunity to do a beautiful paper invitation instead. I'm looking forward to framing it under a photo from our wedding for our first anniversary. But, if you are a person who does not care about such things, a Paperless Post invite is 100% the way to go. It saves so much money and still gives a beautiful introduction to your wedding day.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

We Bought a House!

When I say that this purchase was the culmination of all my hopes and dreams, I am only mildly exaggerating. Welcome to Gray Barns.

 It has everything we could have asked for in a place: a name and some history, plenty of space for entertaining inside and out, and an in-law apartment we can rent out for a little extra money. Getting here felt like it took ages, because I have dreamed of owning a home since I was a little girl touring the Newport mansions and because started saving for a house down payment in 2010, long before I had any idea where that home would be.

But then, like all good things I suppose, it happened so quickly my head was spinning, and on May 19th, we closed and embarked on what's probably the biggest project either of us has ever taken on. We're fixing her up slowly, slowly, and documenting the process (along with some of the fun artifacts we're finding along the way, on Instagram.

It will take years until everything is really finished, but we're excited for the journey and to customize everything just so. Because of this, I wasn't really able to feel like we actually live here, and like we're not just staying for a while until something else comes along. But driving home last night, listening to the Beatles and looking out over the country roads I now drive everyday, something clicked and I'm feeling really at peace with things. It's a good feeling.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Gratituesday: Tennis

A coworker invited me to take a tennis class with her a few months ago, and the lessons started last night. I remembered how much I loved taking tennis at Coles (RIP, Coles. You were so beloved.), but of course I got all anxious ahead of the class and convinced myself I would hate it. Happily, I loved it just as much as I did in New York. It was such a tremendous joy.

My wrists are a little sore from it (although to be fair, my right wrist has been acting up lately anyway), and I can definitely feel that my form isn't as good as it was in 2015, but it felt much more natural to me starting than it did back then. It's also a little more expensive here, but my hope is that the little group I'm playing with can take what we're learning in the lessons and perhaps take it up ourselves at a public court one day soon.

It was also a little surreal to walk around the fitness center where the lessons are run. It reminded me so much of the first gym I ever belonged to, Club Fit, which was fancy enough to smell good and have a little cafe where I would eat veggie burgers with Shelby and her mom. I did not realize, then, how fancy this gym was. In fact, I kind of forgot how fancy it was as I went to increasingly less fancy gyms, starting with the Sarah Lawrence gym, moving on to to New York Sports Club during their decline, and finally ending up at Coles, which had a pool and tennis courts but no climate control and a terrible smell of mold and body odor.

I didn't realize what a privilege it was to have had a membership there, to have had parents picking up my tab and wanting only the best for me, a chunky teen just learning for the first time to portion control and use a weight machine. There was so much I took for granted in my childhood. There is still so much I take for granted every day. Walking around the pleasant-smelling River Valley Club, I was reminded of home in so many ways.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Weekend Wanderings: Whoopie Pies at King Arthur Flour

This weekend, R. and I went to King Arthur Flour to take a class on whoopie pies! It was my Valentine's Day gift this year, and we had such a wonderful time. It was one of the most fun things we've done in a while.

The class was three hours long, and we made two different types of whoopie pie: Classic Chocolate Whoopie Pies and Mini Coconut Whoopie Pies with Lime and Raspberry Filling. Both turned out really delicious, but the classic chocolate was the clear winner! The class moved pretty quickly, with the instructor showing us how to do each recipe before setting us free to try it on our own.

She showed us how to measure ingredients by weight instead of volume, which I'd never done before. Measuring baking ingredients by volume instead of weight can really affect your final outcome. For example, measuring flour by volume can lead to a difference of 20% depending on how you do it. Using a scale for your measurements also makes things go much faster. You can bet we registered for one! (And of course the stand-up mixture was always on our list. And a few other King Arthur items. 😀)

Overall, the class was a ton of fun, and R and I loved collaborating on the baking. We ended up with 15 big whoopie pies and 15 small ones between us, so obviously my coworkers enjoyed a bunch on Monday. We had such a blast that I would 100% recommend taking a class to anyone visiting the area. You can check out the schedule here, and I'd recommend booking early because they usually sell out. Most classes are between $75 and $150, and in addition to being loaded up with new skills, great tips, and lots of baked goods, you also get a free coffee, a 10% coupon to the store, and a bowl scraper.

I can't wait to take another one soon!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wedding Wednesday: The Registry

I'm no stranger to registries. I've had an Amazon wishlist for almost a decade, and I love getting and receiving gifts. Plus, I've been buying gifts off of registries for many years, and have always enjoyed finding something personal for a couple I love while still knowing it's exactly what they want.

Because of this, you might think—as I did—that it would be simple to put together our own gift registry. And, in some ways, it has been. For example, I know immediately that although we have survived as a couple for the last 6 years without fine china or a stand-up mixer and our home has not felt exactly empty (especially, ahem, the particularly small home we currently occupy), we would register for gifts instead of doing a honeyfund or trying to raise money for our down payment. I love the idea of using items either everyday or at key moments in our lives and remembering the person who gave them to us.

Lauren was incredible and bought us our very first gift, a crystal cake platter that I cannot wait to use at birthdays and other celebrations for the rest of our lives. The idea of cutting our child's first birthday cake on the same cake stand and with the same cake knife as we do our wedding cake is simply too sweet and full-circley for me to even deal with, and I know that when we do, we'll remember getting our first gift from a dear friend I've only ever met once, because we were brought together by the magic of the internet. Swoon!

Most of the items we knew we'd want: a really sweet set of knives, new camping equipment for our new lives in Vermont, games that friends regularly transport to our house from other states (so they have one less thing to carry, of course!). And I knew we wanted to register at Amazon, so we could put all sorts of things from different companies on it (because registering at LL Bean and REI and Crate and Barrel and and and ... seemed excessive), as well as a physical store for folks who don't love the internet, and Macy's seemed as ubiquitous as any, with a nice selection of items.

But, in case you don't know us very well, R. and I spend a lot of time researching and thinking and considering before we make purchases, which, to be frank, isn't super often. Researching all these different items, while also having it in the back of my mind that these have to be the pieces we will use for the rest of our lives has been pretty intense. It's also why a few key items are missing from our lists: I can't buy china without holding it in my hands first, and the pattern we want (Wedgewood's Nantucket Basket) isn't available in person at Macy's, so we're considering ordering a place setting ourselves to see if we like it before going whole hog.

So, in case you're also registering for gifts, here are a couple resources I found helpful:
I also checked many items on The Sweethome, which is a great resource for learning everything from what the best cast-iron pan is to what kind of vacuum you really need, and Good Housekeeping, which has never led me astray, helping me to pick out my incredible handmixer, food processor, and favorite tomato sauce. If GH gives its seal of approval, it's as trustworthy as a Royal Warrant to me. (Maybe even more so, though I do love my Hunter boots and Barbour jacket.)

What was the best thing you registered for? Anything you now wish you hadn't included on your registry?