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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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Entries in Family (10)

Sunday
Sep082013

DIY–Fancy Frames for Family Photos

So right before I started writing this easy DIY post, I did a little research and realized that perhaps my decision to DIY might have been a mistake?

Maybe not a mistake, but I should have done the research before breaking out the spray cans.

I’ll get to that in a sec.

If you’re a long-time reader and still notice when I post these days, you might remember my DIY Wall Collage post. I’m working on doing another one, but it’s been slow going. We have officially been in this house a year and you would be SHOCKED at how much and how little I have accomplished here. The living room and dining room are still extreme works in progress. Remember the goose-neck couch I was going to recover? It’s still in its horrid maroon fabric, just waiting to be recovered in the dark dove gray fabric I have yet to purchase.

But there is plan.

The plan is to re-create the family collage, but this time I want all the frames to be the same color. I’m working on framing pictures I had printed from The Candyman’s side of the family and re-framing some of my old family portraits. It’s really hard to find oval frames or to have them made at a reasonable price. I have a few of those that are really old. I decided to spray paint them black, to have consistency with all the other frames.

I started by taping them off with that painter’s tape stuff you can get at any home improvement or paint shop and an old paper bag.

And then I waited. And waited. And waited. I waited for a day where it didn’t rain so I could spray paint. Have you read about the weather in The South lately? One of my friends said it has only rained twice, once for 16 days and again for 22 days. So when I finally got a dry, sunny day, here’s what happened.

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I laid out the old frames on a trash bag and got my can of black spray paint and an old rag.

Both of the frames are old and cracked and chipped so I used an old rag to get off any dust or dirt or whatever might be clinging to them. One thing I didn’t want to do was get paint on the back of the frames. Why? Because this was on the back.

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George C.J. Bailey Art Shop? What’s that? This is where I should have stopped and gotten on to the interwebs.

The other part that I love about the back of this picture is that it has my grandmother’s handwriting (I’d recognize it anywhere) identifying that the photo is of “mother’s grandfather.” So my grandmother’s mother’s grandfather? So what is that, my great-great-great grandfather?

The othe other part? So it turns out that:

George C. J. Bailey was born 1868 in France of Welsh and Scottish ancestry. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1882. He was an art gallery salesman.

Turns out his daughter was a pulp artist. The Bailey gallery was in Rochester, New York, which is where my grandmother is from. So maybe I shouldn’t have spray painted what I’m certain is the original frame? Not sure, but it’s done so I can’t cry over sprayed paint.

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Start by spraying the sides of the frames so you can pick them up. Otherwise, you’ll be laying on the ground, trying to see if you got all the edges.

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Place it back down on your protected surface and spray the top parts.

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Once I finished, the clouds started rolling in (I couldn’t effing believe it), so I had to bring them in earlier than I wanted to and there might be a thumb print or two on an edge, but I doubt anyone will notice.

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A couple of days later, I pulled off the tape and paper. Unfortunately, I had some bleeding under my Frog tape, but I did not despair. I just took a little turpentine I got at Hobby Lobby and a Q-Tip and took care of it easy-peasy. Not every DIY goes 100% as planned. You gotta give yourself a little leeway.

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Here’s what they looked like when I was done:

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Isn’t my momma pretty?

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These two will join the the others that have been framed and those waiting to be framed, all hidden under the goose-neck couch that’s waiting to be recovered.

*sigh*

So much to do, so little. time. But the process sure is fun!

Sunday
Sep112011

Forgive Them Their Trespasses

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There’s going to be a lot of remembering today, I know. For someone as sentimental as I am, remembering is my pass time, but not this. I don’t like to remember this.

I don’t mind remembering when I first heard about the plane crashing into the tower. I thought it was probably a little Cessna, an inexperienced pilot in a POS plane. I heard the news on the radio on my way to work. I hoped not many were hurt.

But the day went on and the terror continued. We heard about plane #2 and then the Pentagon. I had friends and friends with family who worked at the Pentagon and I could NOT get through. This was all before Facebook and Twitter (I know, hard to image that world, right?) and news didn’t travel as fast. Suffice to say it was terrible. Terrible, terrible, terrible.

I was 31 and single. It was probably one of the worst times in my life for it too. All the travel and experiences and all that I had done up until that point felt moot because I was alone and sad, with family so far away (I lived in Chicago at the time). I had no one to rally with. No one to be comforted by or to comfort in return. 9.11 was an eye opener in that regard.

Three months after 9.11 I went to New York and to Ground Zero. It was still an enormous mess, all the remembrances and “Have You Seen?” bulletins were still posted all over the area. Roads were still blocked. Subway stops inoperable. It was literally a war zone.

I stood in line with a friend and a co-worker to go stand on the platform – then, a hastily built wood thing  where you stood and looked at an enormous hole filled with cranes and bulldozers.

Nearby Ground Zero is St. Paul’s Episcopal Chapel, which was miraculously unharmed in the 9.11 event. It was home base for many of the firefighters and policemen working Ground Zero. We had a chance to thank several dust covered and clearly exhausted men on their way in for a break.

The street in front of the chapel was busy, loud – just like any New York sidewalk. However, when you started walking down to the platform, it got eerily quiet. As we were waiting in line, I kept hearing this small, tinkling sound like a wind chime.  I leaned over to Barb and asked her if she heard it too. She did, yet we couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. The sound, so very light and airy, almost whimsical, seemed incredibly out of place – like the ringing of a cell phone at a funeral.

I finally found the source of the sound and it was coming from a tree in the small graveyard of St. Paul’s chapel. It was a wind chime – of sorts.  It was a set of office blinds. You know the thin aluminum ones they put in office buildings? Clearly, the blinds had been blown out of some window and were a dust-covered gray, tangled ball, high at the top of this tree. When the wind would blow, the ball would gently sway up and out and then back down on itself creating the small, high sound.

That day it was those window blinds that broke me down. Whose window did those blinds come from? What kind of force was it that crumbled and curled them and then hurled them a block away into this tree?

Other days it was the thought that there are people out there in this world who hate our country so much that they’d kill thousands of completely innocent people to make a point. I’m still not sure what that point is.

Most days it was the barrage of images. The people jumping from the towers. The dead being pulled from the rubble. The families stricken with grief.

What I also remember are the churches FILLED with people, most who hadn’t seen the inside of a church in a long time, myself included. I remember the sense of community too. We were all very much aware of our neighbors, the person next to us in traffic, the stranger on the street. What has happened to that feeling, that bond of country and community? We need it back, in a big, bad way.

We need to come together and stop pointing fingers and laying blame. The GOP candidates are already baring teeth and sharpening claws, fighting over unemployment percentages and who spent more money where.

Enough already. I know that it is impossible to recreate the community spirit the came after 9.11. Too much has happened. Too much is at stake right now. But in honor of 9.11 I know that I will do my best to remember and honor the people who were killed in this terrible tragedy. I will forgive trespasses, as the prayer goes.

Thursday
Sep082011

The Conversion to Mommyblogger?

There’s a certain camaraderie amongst bloggers. I read you. You read me. We comment. We forgive long bouts of silence and grammatical errors.

When I was wedding planning, I relied on many blogs and bloggers to help get me through the process. Blogging helped me feel less alone in the process since my mom lived nearly 7 hours away and my MOH was across the country with a full time job and two kids.

I still read and follow many of these now-married brides both publicly and as a lurker. It’s been a little over two years since I started writing this blog and reading many, many other blogs. What’s interesting about these blogs now are the conversations going on. The conversations are about the babies. I cannot tell you how many of these women, now married for over a year, are pregnant, talking about getting pregnant, or who are showing off their little, pink and wrinkly newborns.

Once again, in the process of life, I am taking the road that does not seem to be the norm. *sigh*

And let me just touch on this topic a smidge - about taking a different direction. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything the “right” way. I’ve tried, but I mess it up all the time. I don’t think I’ve ever had the maturity that I’m supposed to have in jobs or life or whatever. I stayed in college an extra year to get an extra degree in Costume Construction Technology (yes, that’s right) while my friends were graduating and taking “real” jobs and/or going to grad school. I moved to California and worked for Frederick’s of Hollywood as an assistant buyer of crotchless panties while these same friends went to work for IBM and Deloitte Touche and KPMG. They got married while I was getting drunk at a club. They bought houses and I rented. They made money and I scraped along.

Now, in terms of a career, I finally found my niche and kicked ass. However, I have this feeling that many of my friends still regarded me as a loose canon, “She’s our artsy friend.” I honestly have no idea how they regarded me, this is just my impression.

So I’ve always felt like I‘ve been many, many steps behind everyone. I assumed that would be the case when it came to my marriage. The Candyman and I got married and I was 39 years old. We talked briefly about babies and decided we’d talk more about it after we’d been married a year. A year came and went and the baby talk was still just idle conversation, occasionally a little stronger on my part after too much hot sake at the sushi bar. The reality was that the conversation wasn’t happening in the way that I think those conversations are supposed to go.

I guess I imagined intimate talks in bed, snuggled up to The Candyman, whispering over the future family-to-be. Or perhaps a more logical approach – a discussion of finances and timing and house-size over coffee at the kitchen table. Or perhaps an idyllic chat at the park as we watched kids and toddlers play on the jungle gym.

Nope. Not one of those conversations has ever happened. It’s more like this:

Me: Should we have a kid?

The Candyman (lounging in his leather chair, watching Jeopardy and drinking copious amounts of V8): Why would we want to do that?

Me: I dunno.

The Candyman: Me either.

Or sometimes like this:

Me: Do you want to have a baby?

The Candyman: Sure.

Me: Now?

The Candyman (raises an eyebrow in anticipation): Does that mean we can go have sex right now?

Me: Never mind.

And occasionally:

Me: I don’t know about this whole baby thing.

The Candyman: Me either. Fuck it. Let’s just keep our money and spend it on ourselves.

Me: Yeah. Babies can be expensive.

The Candyman (popping another can of V8): Yeah. We don’t need expensive.

Me: Yeah.

So you see the level of intensity in these conversations, no? We’re focused. We’ve got a plan. We know exactly what we’re doing.

Meh.

And that’s how I feel about having a baby: meh. And I don’t think I’m supposed to feel “meh.” Couple “meh” with the fact that I’m FORTY ONE and I’m just not so sure about any of this baby business. I never played “house” when I was a kid. I had Barbie and the Barbie Dream House, but my girl was ALWAYS solo. I never even asked for a Ken. I’ve never dreamed of having a family, the white picket fence (though oddly, we have one of those) or any other traditional living scheme. It just never came up in my head. I have never, ever longed to be a mother or a mom or anything other than a cool aunt who buys both educational and totally inappropriate toys.

But the reality is we’re getting down to the wire in terms of actual, physical pregnancy. My clock has never been one to tick in a way that I ever really heard, but the wrinkles on my forehead are LOUD ENOUGH, thank you very much. Yet I don’t have any strong emotions one way or another towards having a child. My body nor my mind screams out at me to conceive. I do not long to parent, join a play group or re-learn Algebra so that I can help my kid limp through it. None of these things appeal to me. At all.

It’s almost like we’re making this decision by not making a decision. It seems too hard and somewhat final to stand up and announce, “We’re not having children!” Instead, I think we’ll just continue to cruise along  and see what happens. Sometimes I see this approach much like I do other aspects of my life: too many steps behind everyone. Lately though I’ve been trying to look at my life in a way where I compare myself less often to “the norm” and judge myself based on what I really want. The problem with that is figuring out what I really want instead of chasing after something that simply doesn’t fit.

Please tell me I’m not the only person out there who thinks this way. There shouldn’t be anything wrong with not having kids, right? 

 

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Friday
Aug262011

A New Form of Birth Control!

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Last weekend I was wandering through Target looking for placemats. I’m still not completely familiar with the layout of “my” new Target here in Charlotte, so ended up doing a full lap of the store before I found where they kept them (for the record, NOT in linens, but in housewares). Wherever I went in the store, I could hear this little boy, probably about two years old, doing what two year olds do best: throwing a tantrum. And I mean  a tantrum of monumental proportions. It was something about a ball momma clearly was not going to buy him.

I was heading towards the cash wrap when I got about an aisle or so away from the pair. From the sound of things, momma was about to lose her cool and you could tell she was cutting the trip short because of her mean little kid. And yes, that child was mean. So I’m walking and I mutter a comment under my breath that I've often heard my Dad use in similar situations, “Why don’t you just smack that kid and really give him something to cry about.” 

A footfall later a woman walks right up beside me and pleasantly says, “The perfect form of birth control, no?” I had no idea anyone was nearby and she startled me. Flustered, I said “You didn’t just hear what I said, did you?” She laughed and said she hadn’t, but had heard me mutter and was certain it was about the child. We laughed and parted ways.

I went through the busy line, momma and the screaming child a register or two over. I paid for my purchases and stopped to pull the sticky tag off the sunglasses I had just bought so I could wear them. This process took longer than I expected and as I was finishing up, momma and Evil Child finally made it through the cash wrap. Momma was pissed. And I’m sure embarrassed. The kid started to run from her, screaming at her because now it was crystal clear he wasn’t going to get the ball he wanted. I heard momma say, “Why would you even think I’d buy you anything after all this?” Not that the child was in any way capable of grasping the concept of that question, but I had to give her private mental kudos for not placating the brat.

So now I’m standing there and the kid runs and ends up right at my feet. I’m standing there looking at the kid with an expression of what I’m sure would be the same if a miniature albino rhinoceros had presented itself. He gave a screech of what sounded like, “Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall! I can’t go without my baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall!'”

I said, in a loud sort of whisper, “HEY KID!” and he whipped his head up and looked at me.  I continued, glaring at him “You’re not getting the ball. Give your mom a break.” For about 3 heartbeats he had stopped crying and just stared at me. I raised my eyebrows at him in a way that mocked his little tantrum. And he knew it.

He turned his head and was immediately back in tantrum mode. He screamed and fussed his way all the way out into the parking lot, shooting me sideways glances as I walked to my car. Momma got a hold of his arm and yanked him towards their car, her other arm pushing a cart full o’ Target crap. He broke loose and ran. It was Saturday. There were cars everywhere. Momma screamed, abandoned the cart, grabbed the kid and whacked him several good ones on the bum, now having her own tantrum about safety and looking both ways and cars and all that.

Evil Child was too young to understand any of this beyond the fact that he’d gone too far and really pissed momma off. Scared the shit out of her is what he did. Momma finally followed my earlier advice about really giving the child something to cry about. 

In my mind, I see no issues whatsoever with corporal punishment. I was whacked as a kid. In fact, in what I see now as sick twist on the part of my parents, we would always get those plywood paddleballs  in our Christmas stockings. Well, guess what became of those paddles when the rubber band broke, as it always did about 5 seconds after you started playing with it? That’s right, they became the weapon of choice for misbehaving children. Skinny plywood sails through the air and it stings.

One time, and it only took one time, I misbehaved at my grandparents house. My grandmother made me go out and pick my own switch. Ever heard of that? It means you go out and choose the very instrument that you are about to be beat with. Pick a branch (generally switches are chosen from sapling trees – bendable green branches) that’s too thick and it might not sting as much, but you’ll get more whacks. Pick a skinny one and it’s going to sting like a motherfucker, but you’ll get fewer. Decisions, decisions.

People today might say that’s cruel. I don’t think so. It puts your stupid-ass child-brain through a series of very clear action/reaction/consequence type scenarios. That thing I did at my grandma’s house? Yeah, never ever did that again. And I didn’t hate her. Or grow up trying to kick asses on the playground. If anything, it made me respect my elders and taught me how to behave. And grandma didn’t tell my parents what I’d done, which was super-cool because I might have had a double-dose of punishment if she had.

I’m not exactly sure of my point here but I’ve come away with two very distinct thoughts:

1. Momma should have whacked that kid WAY earlier than the parking lot.

2. That other lady in the Target was correct. A most excellent form of birth control.

Wednesday
Jul062011

The Wedding Crest

That thing that I thought was a hang-over yesterday? Not so much. I went from feeling a little oogy in the early morning to feeling like total crap by 9am. Let’s just say that I think something from the July 4th BBQ did NOT agree with me. At. All. I spent the better part of the day on the couch recuperating and hydrating. It was actually kind of nice in a way because it gave me some non-computer time to catch up on the magazines accumulating on my night stand and to pay bills and pretend to balance my checkbook.

I was thumbing through the May issue of Brides and came across a one-page planning article regarding family crests, or more specifically, The Wedding Crest. The magazine described it as a “modern day coat of arms – or a wedding emblem.” The example in the magazine was nice. It was $750 for the design and $678 for 100 thank-you cards so it wasn’t THAT nice. What I thought was super cool was the idea of it.

My maiden family name goes way back in time. I have a copy of our genealogy and to tell you the truth, it’s effing exhausting. I just get completely confused by all the Earls and Dukes and Sussex this and Farthinghamshires that. We’re old. We’re English and we’re a bit royal. But royal is totally misleading because seriously, up until a few weeks ago, our girl Kate was a simple girl from the English countryside. Now she’s destined to be Queen. Keep that in mind.

Now, on my mother’s side of the family, we’re Scots. We know our family tartan, which is kind of cool. My mom and her sisters recently found out that we’re directly related to John C. Calhoun, who was vice-president under John Quincy Adams. This recent finding also places me as one of the decedents of the First Families of Charleston, South Carolina, on both sides of my family. Supposedly, this factoid is important to somebody somewhere. I have yet to reap any benefits from this, so if you know of any stakes or claims that I have there, please let me know.

So back to crests. My maiden family name coat of arms is pretty cool. It’s got four lions and is somewhat regal in nature. My brother has the lions tattooed on his back, that’s how much he likes it. Now, my married family name? I’m not sure of that crest. According to my husband, his family is simply a bunch of European vagabonds. I did a little research though and the family name first shows up in 1269 from Northumberland, wherever the hell that is! The crest is questionable. This does not surprise me in the least!

I went online to check out more of this wedding crest deal. The artist in the magazine is crazy-good invitation guru, Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York. Check out how she did these invites that include a crest:

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Of course this is crazy amazing, holy gorgeousness, right? But I don’t think you have to pay a gazillion dollars to have a coat of arms done up right!

There are plenty of on-line sites that offer up a myriad of gift-items to adorn with a crest. They’ve got everything from hand-painted parchment to engraved flasks (Groom gift! Groomsmen gifts! Father of the groom gift!). You can even combine two family crests together. Here some examples of that:

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I thought these were pretty stiff looking. Fancy and regal and all that and as a stand alone, I like. But would anyone seriously incorporate these kinds of colors into a wedding scheme? Let’s see an inspiration board for that! What I did find was some cool folks on Etsy who might be able to whip up something pretty hip. Check this guy out:

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Etsy shop Inkandar will tailor make your own coat of arms based on a series of questions he asks about who you are, your likes and hobbies and such. This is only $100!  This, I thought was super-fly.

And all those Etsy designers who do wedding monograms? Check out some of their work as you might be able to request a custom piece based on your families history! Search under Handmade and Family Crests and you’ll find all sorts of goodies!

So based on The Candyman’s um, questionable heritage, I think a new design might be in order! What about you? Are you into the family name thing (whether taking his or keeping your own)? Do tell.