Monthly Archives: May 2012

Should My Bridesmaids Get Lei’d?

I’ve been a bit behind in wedding planning for a while now. . . hence the sparse updates on this blog.  Let’s just say this once-in-a-lifetime event really sneaks up quickly!

I’ve had a lot of trouble making decisions on everything from rehearsal dinner menus to table number design to what jewelry my bridesmaids will wear.It’s almost as though there are so many good ideas in my head, and even more on Pinterest, that it becomes overwhelming and hard to  JUST PICK ONE! :)

I’m getting ready to order fresh orchid blossoms for the wedding.  The company also offers fresh Orchid leis. . . and suddenly I’m wondering if I should order them for my bridesmaids.

Right now I don’t have any jewelry for my bridesmaids, because they are all so different that I didn’t want to get matching pieces that they may not wear again.  The plan was to ask them to wear simple jewelry that wasn’t bright and colorful – either silver, gold, or pearl / white / cream.  But I think the orchid leis could be a fun touch.

Here are the two I am considering – a green and white lei:

 Or the all-white lei:


And here is a reminder of what the bridesmaids will be wearing:

My concern is that leis are a bit bulky, and may not look great against the white or cream colored dresses.

What do you think?  Would simple necklaces be better, or do you like one or both of the leis?

PS:  Lei Photos are from

An Unconventional Wedding Registry, Part 2: Going Vintage

Last week I told you about the difficulties we had choosing traditional items for our wedding registry. Now I’m back to tell you how our Macy’s registry came to a close and another, more fitting registry, was born.

So to summarize Part 1:  Ryan and I didn’t want to register for a lot of the traditional kitchen gadgets and home items, but we did want to register for something instead of receiving random gifts or trinkets because we’re both so anti-clutter in our home and lives.  Yes, I know that really just means we’re picky.  It doesn’t come from ungratefulness but rather from the fact that we are just happier having a simple home.

But there are some items we’d still love to fill our home with.  The problem?  Most of them are vintage!  We both prefer vintage furniture and I have a personal obsession with vintage serving dishes and Pyrex cookware.   Additionally, I’m dragging Ryan along on my mission to avoid new products that are made with unethical labor, aka sweatshops, especially overseas.

Vintage Pyrex Mixing Bowls

A wedding registry Made in the USA?

Shortly after my experience with the pushy registry consultant at Macy’s I went to Crate and Barrel.  I was struggling with the fact that all our items at Macy’s were manufactured overseas.  Mostly in China.  At Macy’s I couldn’t find a single bath towel or bathmat that was made in the USA, or even Canada. How sad is that?

I already knew that Crate and Barrel had a stronger environmental and social responsibility policy than many traditional registry stores (i.e. Walmart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond) and much of their furniture is made in North Carolina from sustainably harvested wood.  That knowledge alone had me wanting to switch our registry store,  because if ‘m going to support (or encourage others to support) a mainstream retailer, I’d like it to be one that’s at least making an effort.

Then one day I spent a good hour at the store, notebook in hand, listing all the products which were made in the USA.  Many of the items we might want for our registry were on the list, so that pretty much sealed the deal.  (I’ve since misplaced my list, so I can’t share it. Whoops.)

I immediately cancelled our Macy’s registry and streamlined us down to a small registry at Crate & Barrel.  It contained items like an electric mixer, flatware, and a few other items we’d like to have in the house.

But wait, there’s more!

During this entire process I kept saying to Ryan things like

“The problem with wedding registries is that they’re all for new items.  I don’t want new mixing bowls, I prefer vintage Pyrex ones!”  


“I’d much rather have a house full of vintage glassware and furniture from the vintage store.”

And Ryan agreed.

So one day I asked Lance, who owns an amazing mid-century modern furniture shop in Littleton, NH, if there was any way we could somehow register for vintage gifts.  We’ve been loyal – if distant – customers of Just L ever since we found it during our fall road trip in 2010.   To my great surprise and excitement, Lance said yes!  Creating a vintage registry was a new adventure for him, but I loved the enthusiasm with which he tackled the challenge.   I may or may not have danced excitedly around the house.

Creating the Just L Vintage Registry

To create the registry, Lance took me on a virtual tour of the shop.  We connected using FaceTime, which is like Skype, and Lance held his iPad out in front of him so I could see the shop as we talked.  He spent over an hour walking me through the entire sales floor, showing me every item and holding the iPad up close to zoom in on the details if I had questions.

When we were done, Ryan and I had a nice, small registry assembled.   It consisted mostly of vintage kitchen items that we loved and a few larger pieces of furniture towards which people could buy gift certificates.   Lance put all the photos up in an album on his shop’s Facebook page (the only website they use) and in each photo he included the item description and price, as well as the number people could call to order.

I also had to explain it on our wedding website, but I think I did an OK job with that.  My mom stopped worrying after she saw it. . . or at least stopped asking so many questions!

In case you’re curious, here’s a peek at some of the items we registered for in addition to gift certificates towards larger furniture purchases:

I can not wait to serve chips and dip with this gorgeous lime green “tiered” serving bowl:

And I think these blue and gold cocktail glasses are just to die for with their most amazing Moroccan style pattern.

Just L Briard Cocktail Glasses Blue

On a more wacky, less classy, note – I know that some people are surely raising an eyebrow at these vintage Pyrex lab beakers, but I just love them – either for use as serving jugs (after a full sterilization, of course) or for use as vases (more likely).  How awesome are they!?

Vintage Pyrex Lab Beakers Just L

There will also be some decor changes in the Borrowed Abode this June!

Just L Mid-century modern sofa

This wooden mid-century sofa and chair set is part of our registry – not that we expect anyone to shell out the entire $875 for it, but because it is the primary large set of furniture that we’re excited to pick up in June when we go there.  Lance got major points in my book with his willingness to hold onto that set for us.  Hmm. . . wherever will we put it?  😉

And that’s the story of how we came to have the perfect (for us) wedding registry.  I’m so excited that we were able to register for items we  really loved – and support a small business in the process!   And after the wedding, I can’t wait to incorporate these items in our home, and think of our wonderful friends and family every time we use them.

Psst: My blog buddy Jeannine is getting married in June, too. She’s been a much more responsible blogger throughout the process.   :)  Check out her experience with the Macy’s wedding registry here.

The Accidental Strawberry Crop

Did you know that you can literally taste the difference between store-bought strawberries that are shipped across the country to your grocery store, and strawberries that are allowed to ripen on the vine, then plucked fresh to eat moments later?

I would know.  I’ve done tests – in my own back yard! 

We’re overrun with accidental strawberries right now.  In the last  10 days I’ve picked 3 quarts of the berries  . . . and all because of the two tiny bushes I planted in our square foot garden when we moved in two years ago.

This was our brand new garden back in 2010:

Starting a Square Foot Garden

That lone little strawberry plant has since spread out through the planting bed, creating four large plants and pretty much turning the box into nothing but an accidental strawberry garden.

Have I done anything to care for it in the last two years?  Nope, not at all . . .  because the first year the strawberry plan refused to grow and I pretty much gave up on it.  I’m serious. . . it did not expand in size at all.

Clearly size is no longer an issue.

Ryan and I are enjoying the effects of this accidental crop, but I have a sneaking suspicion that we’ve got company.  Every time I check on the garden (what – I’m not going to neglect it now that it’s doing something for us! :)  I find half-eaten berries either on the plant or scattered on the ground around the box.

Clearly the neighborhood squirrels – or foxes – have a sweet tooth.  I know for a fact that the foxes go straight past the garden on their nightly route.

How do I know this?  Because it’s right under our bedroom window. . . and the shriek of the foxes has torn me frightfully from my slumber many a time.

But I digress.

All of our berries have been surprisingly tasty, though they range in shape and size from “little and wonky” (Bent in a C shape with the stem growing out of the wrong end) to “large and uniform” (aka standard strawberry shape, as seen below).  Surprisingly, though, many of the more “normal” looking berries are growing from the offshoot plants and not the initial bush that I planted.

That has me wondering if my initial plant was a little “off” to start with.

But enough rambling . . . I’ve got another quart of berries to pick!

An Unconventional Wedding Registry, Part 1

Ryan and I are walking down the aisle in three weeks.  It may sound totally cliché and cheesy, but there’s one wedding gift we want above all, which is for our guests to enjoy themselves at the wedding.  They’re having to travel to attend, which means it’s costing them.   But some of these guests often want to give a gift, even if it’s not required or expected.

Enter the Jane & Ryan registry:  an adventure & decision so meandering that I had to break it into two posts. 

Why did we register?

Nowadays there are many registry alternatives, from the “honeyfund” that collects money for the honeymoon to the new home down payment registry that collects funds towards a purchase of a home, to even a charity registry where the truly generous raise funds.  Or heck, the couples who don’t register at all, asking that their guests not give gifts.

I didn’t think any of those ideas would go over well with our older guests, and my gut instinct was to ask guests not to give gifts.  But when people do that they seem to end up with bizarre random trinkets because –  let’s face it – people like to give gifts.

The problem with random gifts is that Ryan and I do not want to amass stuff that we won’t use and love, yet I won’t want to give away an item that a loving guest gave us for our wedding.  The only solution, in my mind, was a small registry of items we’d love and use for years to come.

Challenging the traditional “wedding registry” expectations:

We started registering in December, scoping out several chain stores, because we needed to find something that was accessible for the majority of our guests.

At Macy’s we could register for luggage, towels, sheets, and a few other housewares.  During the registry visit, the sales associate made a strong suggestion – one that I totally disagreed with.  Here’s how that convo went:

Sales:  “You’ll want to make sure you put a few of the pre-boxed gift items on the registry.  Like the silver photo frames, champagne flutes, and glass bowls.”

Me:  “Why?  I don’t need any of them.”

Sales:  “You have to have some of these “grab and go” items.  It makes it easier for the guests that don’t really know you, and don’t want to spend a long time looking over the registry list.”

Me:   “What?  We aren’t inviting anyone like that.  I don’t want someone giving a gift if it was chosen because it was the easiest and fastest to buy.”

Sales:  “I know that’s your plan, but you will have people like that on your guest list.  It always happens.”

Newsflash, in case you didn’t already know me well enough:  No way would I do this.  And I told her as much.

Choosing items for the registry:

Over the years I’ve seen so many friends receive a ton of registry gifts – random kitchen gadgets, housewares, etc – only to see them still sitting in boxes, unused.  Maybe they were all “grab and go” items from Macy’s! :)

Gah!  I cringe at the thought of our basement filling up with boxes of stuff.  A wedding gift is given with love, to usher you into your new lives together as a committed couple.  It should be used and seen regularly.

We didn’t have a ton of items for the list, though, because let’s face it – when you’re getting married in your 30’s, you’ve had time to amass the items you need.  In our case we already have good dishes that we use every day, they were a gift to me from my mother who gave them to me over the last 5 or so years.

But despite knowing that Ryan and I only needed a few things, I’d occasionally fall victim to the Marketing Monster, adding things like a super-fancy wine opener to the registry list.  Fortunately the next day I’d wake up and think:

“That wine opener will take up a ton of space.  I don’t want to store that and I don’t need it.  Our pocket-sized corkscrew is just fine. ” 

And then back I’d go, logging into the registry and removing the ridiculous item of the day.

My mom struggled with my bare-bones approach.   Every time I see her she’s got pages torn out of catalogs, asking me “Do you have an asparagus steamer pan?”  No, I respond.  And I don’t want one. I don’t need one.

This happened a little while ago, before I decided to “hire out” the cake-baking:

My mom:  “You’re baking your own cake.  Do you have good cake pans?”  

Me:  “No, mom, I don’t.  And I don’t want “good” cake pans.  I have a few disposable aluminum pans that I use, but for the most part I just don’t bake cakes.  And I don’t want to store cake pans.”

I was explaining to her that we don’t need a potato masher.  We rarely eat potatoes.  Why register for a potato masher just in case we one day want to make mashed potatoes?  If that day comes, I can improvise.  Especially now that I have  a hand mixer.

And speaking of mixers, for the last 10 (or more) years I’ve been getting along just fine without an electric mixer.

That’s right, every time I’ve made a cake in the last 10 years I’ve mixed it by hand.  With an old wooden spoon.  Even when I made my best friend’s 3-tiered wedding cake and icing two years ago.  That wooden spoon got a LOT of use!

Did I enjoy all the hand mixing? Not really.  But by the time I was ready to cave in and buy one, I thought “I’ll probably be getting married in a few years.  I might as well wait and put a mixer on the wedding registry.”  That was three years ago.

Two years ago, when Ryan and I moved in together, we talked about getting new utensils.  But I said “We might as well wait.  We can put it on our registry someday.”

And you know what? 

We’re getting married in 3 weeks, and I’m finally getting new (matching!) flatware and an electric hand mixer. They were totally worth the wait.

And so was Ryan. ♥