I've been cooking a lot since moving into the new house (partly because I LOVE to cook and partly because we spent three weeks going back and forth between houses, which meant a lot of drive-thru and takeout food. Ugh).
DH has been in heaven. He loves it when I cook, and this last couple weeks has been a regular restaurant around here -- cherry glazed chicken, wild rice and mushroom soup, baked fettuccini, homemade maple bacon baked beans, beef chili, individual chicken pot pies...and even dessert. I had apricot-glazed apple crisp one night, peanut butter and jelly bars another.
That got me thinking about what kind of menus others prepare for those they love. I started at Rachael Ray, who posted the menu from her wedding day, along with the recipes.
There's even advice on cooking together from one website. Speaking from personal experience, none of those tips work if you have a kitchen the size of a postage stamp, which my last one was. In that case, all I wanted was for other people to GET OUT of the kitchen while I did my thing.
Another woman has started a thing called The Husband Project, which is all about learning to cook meals for your husband (me, I love to eat, so these are as much for me as anyone else in this house).
Do you do the cooking in your house? Do you enjoy it? Or is it a chore? What's your specialty meal?
Hi! Susan here. I'm pleased to have Mary Jo Rulnick, a wedding planner as today's guest! I saw Mary Jo on Pittsburgh's morning talk show and knew she'd make a great addition to our blog.
Here's Mary Jo...
Eight Tips to Keep Wedding Planning from Becoming Stressful By Mary Jo Rulnick, founder of www.GoodBrideBadBride.com
1. Know your personality and the way you work. Knowing the way you work will help you plan your wedding day more efficiently and it will be less stressful. Do you get excited, jump into action, then lose your interest as time goes on? If so, tackle the most time-consuming tasks in the beginning and work your way to the easier ones. For brides who are perfectionists and never seem to finish a job, ask your groom to give you a deadline or a stopping point. Now, if too many decisions overwhelm you, ask mom or another trusted person to narrow down your options. With only three or four choices, it will be easier to handle. For brides who want to make everyone happy, you'll have to remember this is your and your groom's day. Thank family and friends for their suggestions and tell them how much you appreciate their interest, but do what works best for you and your groom.
2. Know the vision you both want for your reception before booking vendors. Sometimes couples start booking vendors and such without grasping the vision of their wedding day. What do you want to remember? What do you want your guests to remember? For instance, if the bride and groom, as well as most of the guests, are reserved, your reception might be more like a dinner party with a jazz band in the background. If you’re both outgoing, your entertainment needs to be as lively as the two of you. This is crucial if you plan to dance the night away. Maybe you’d like to bring in your ethnic background. Besides the typical parts of a ceremony and reception, what else might you want to include? This includes everything from favors to shuttles to welcome bags for out-of-town guests.
3. Know where to spend your money and where to cut back, according to your priorities and budget. Once you know your vision, you’ll know where your priorities are. There are numerous web sites and books that recommend a designated percentage of the budget to various categories. Rather than follow the predetermined percentage, prioritize the wedding categories. Then, divide the money in your budget accordingly. Also, take a look at what you have on your list, and then consider how you can do it for less. You might have in your head you want a slide show of your engagement, but it can run upwards of $900. You can still have a photo montage without spending a lot of money. A digital frame set up near the bar area can achieve the same result on a smaller scale and it can then be incorporated into your home. Or possibly a friend is a graphic designer and would love to create a slide show as his or her gift to you. And always ask the venue what equipment is available.
4. Read contracts thoroughly. If you don’t read the contract thoroughly, it could cost you extra money you hadn’t counted on spending. For instance, do you need to supply a hot meal for your photographer or other vendors? Does your band/DJ charge per hour or for the night? How many breaks will they take? Are your floral vases rented and must be returned? Are there additional charges for set up and break down?
5. Put a twist on the traditional. Instead of having the typical guest book or other wedding items, put your own unique spin on it. For anyone who was engaged in Disney World, consider buying a Disney, Disney World or Florida book and having your guests sign it instead of the traditional white bridal guest book.
6. Avoid turning a theme into chaos. Choose a focus with one or two additions to the reception. Instead of trying to do every unique thing, such as an ice cream bar, wine tent, photo booth, or artist, you’ve seen at a recent bridal expo, use your escort cards, guest book and favors to carry out your theme. For a chocolate theme, escort cards can be created with mini candy bars, skip table numbers and name the tables after favorite chocolates, and make your cookie table a candy table. Then, if you still want something different, add one "fun" thing to the reception.
7. Realize you don’t have to do everything. Initiate a task list for family and friends to help alleviate some of the responsibilities and stress. Give others, from your parents to your future in-laws to friends, tasks to do. If you’re searching for favors, see if a computer savvy friend can surf the Internet for the best company and price. Enlist help for tasks such as calling venues and vendors, making signage, stuffing invitations, organizing the cookie table, baking cookies, and dropping off items at the reception place.
8. Create a timeline. There’s a lot to accomplish during your reception, which is usually five hour time span. Work through your timeline with your banquet manager, venue coordinator, photographer and DJ/Band. Plan what you want to accomplish from what photos you want taken to when you want to cut the cake. Make sure someone, a coordinator, trusted friend or a hired planner, is overseeing this timeline. Two things can happen if you don’t. One, you take too long at the front part of reception and have little time for the socializing, dancing, and enjoying the night. Two, you’re so caught up in the festivities that you wait too long for the traditions, such as father/daughter or mother/son dance and most of the guests have departed before you get around to it.
Mary Jo Rulnick coordinates more than 50 weddings a year from budget conscious to high end. During her fifteen-ye ar career as an events planner, she has organized more than 400 events for all ages including White House staff members, NBA families and NFL players. Mary Jo is the author of The Frantic Woman’s Guide to Feeding Family and Friends (Grand Central, formerly Time Warner Book Group), co-author of The Frantic Woman’s Guide to Life (Grand Central), The Frantic Mom’s Countdown to Easter (Amazon Shorts) and The Frantic Cook’s Countdown to Thanksgiving Dinner (Amazon Shorts). She’s a regular TV and radio guest, appearing on stations across the country and has been quoted in national magazines, such as Allure, Better Homes and Garden, Family Circle, Real Simple, and Woman’s Day. Visit Mary Jo at www.GoodBrideBadBride.com or www.MaryJoRulnick.com.
Serena James Wiley, dress designer for The Wedding Belles, here to say hello. It's been awhile since I stopped by. My husband, Kane, and I have been traveling lately. He just loves to fly around in his plane, but we're back in Boston for a bit. It's great to see everyone at The Wedding Belles. I've missed them so.
I wanted to see if any of you watched the Oscars last night? If so, did you notice all the white gowns? Several of the designs looked as if they belonged walking down the aisle not just the red carpet. You can see pictures of some here. I can only imagine brides wanting to copy several of those designs. What do you think?
In case you're wondering what brides this spring and summer might be wearing, check out this clip:
Well, Kane's calling me so I'd better run. Take care!
We've got a few things in store for you this week on the Wedding Planners!
I'll be blogging on Monday. Susan Meier has an actual wedding planner guest blogging for her on Wednesday so be sure to stop in and hear what Mary Jo Rulnick has to say. And the always entertaining Shirley Jump rounds out the week on Friday!
In this month of love, I thought it might be fun to share about how I met my own hero. Even though I never had a wedding or a honeymoon, I got something better (besides a great hubby, I mean.) I got a mother-in-law who adored me.
In this day of mother-in-law jokes and stories of couples with mother-in-law problems, that's no easy feat. Here’s how I got so lucky:
I was working as a ‘team-leader’ nurse on a surgical wing. One of my nurse’s aides was a mature woman named Lorene. She was one of the kindest, hardest working people on staff. I loved working with her and we became friends. Over the months, we talked about our shared faith, our families, basically everything. When her son’s wife left him, she was broken-hearted and told me about it. Later, after the divorce, she started telling me what a great guy he was. I never dreamed she had an ulterior motive for talking him up, until the evening he ‘stopped by’ the hospital during our break. Boy, was he cute! She introduced us and he began to show up at break time on a regular basis. Pretty soon, we went out for coffee after work, and seven months later, he proposed.
I later discovered that while Lorene was telling me all about this terrific son of hers, she was telling him about me! After Gene and I married, Lorene always told people that she could never complain about his choice of wives because she picked me before he did. She was a fabulous mother-in-law who treated me like a daughter all the days of her life. Lorene passed away last summer. I will always miss her.
Last week the RNA (the Romantic Novelists' Association) voted Richard Armitage the Sexiest Thing on Two Legs, and someone posted a video on YouTube of some of his most romantic moments:
Lots of touching scenes there. I'm not really familiar with this actor (although I'd love to see the entire shows some of those clips came from). Maybe I'm living in a cave or perhaps those of us who live in the U.S. don't get to see much of his work, but here's the article, complete with the top ten males on the list. Enjoy! Romantic Novelists vote Richard Armitage Sexiest Thing On Two Legs
What a great list!
I hope that started your day off right. Have a great one!
Valentine's Day is over, but we still have lots of February to go! I hope all of you had a wonderful day.
This week Linda Goodnight, Melissa James and I will be posting (and I'll be here on Monday),
Also, I know this has been mentioned here before, but it bears repeating. Harlequin is celebrating their 60th anniversary this year, and to thank readers for years of readership, Harlequin is giving away free books, 16 in all, that can be downloaded. To find the free books, go to www.harlequincelebrates.com The titles are available as a PDF and in all eBook formats. There is no drm (digital rights management) The titles are also available as a Stanza App for the iPhone and iPod Touch The titles can also be found at all the online retailers like Sony, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Fictionwise.com, eReader.com, etc. The 16 free books (one for every series) will be available throughout 2009.
Enjoy! And come back and visit us here at The Wedding Planners where we'll continue to talk books and love.
When I saw the date of my blog post, I laughed. Every time I think of wedding superstitions I think of my Aunt Phyllis. It's a tradition in our area to have a big, family-oriented wedding, which ends with a bridal dance. A polka. People pay at least a dollar to dance for approximately fifteen seconds with the bride. After your dance you're handed a piece of wedding cake and a shot of whiskey. When the line is down to only one or two people, the groom runs in, sweeps the bride off her feet and carries her out to the waiting car and off they go on their honeymoon.
It's a big rowdy fun tradition, but my Aunt Phillis's family also added a bit to the tradition. They believed it was good luck to take one of the bride's shoes. I'm not entirely sure how walking with only one shoe made a bride lucky, but Aunt Phyllis saw the point and she took one of my shoes.
Now, what I neglected to tell you was that my husband and I were married in a blizzard. So when she took my shoe, one of my feet was bare. Didn't matter. My husband was carrying me to the car. But we slammed into a snow drift and I couldn't even get out of the car...considering that I didn't have two shoes.
http://www.blissweddings.com/library/superstitions2.asp lists a hundred or so wedding superstitions that I thought were amazing! I'm not a fan of the negative ones...Like if it rains on your wedding day you'll cry through most of your marriage. I'm a bigger fan of the positive ones. Like arrange all your bows from your gifts around the door of your first house and it will bring you luck. It's not very convenient if you're in a family that likes to give money...but maybe you could ask everybody to put a ribbon on their cold, hard cash.
Another of my favorite superstitions is the one about saying vows when the minute hand of the clock is moving upward. To say the vows when the hand is pointing down is bad luck...but say them when the hand is pointed up...and guess what? You'll work together. Not sure how someone figured all that out.
Someone submitted that it was bad luck to receive knives as a wedding gift. I laughed when I read that because at my niece's shower, all the little girls of the family were seated in front of Kelli, adordingly watching her as she opened gifts. When she came to a lovely set of knives, one of the girls gasped and said, "Oh my mom says it's not good to give knives to newlyweds. It's too tempting for them to kill each other." My sister has never lived that one down.
Someone from Houston, Texas submitted that it was good luck for a bride to be kissed by a chimney sweep on her wedding day. Really? Her groom won't mind? LOL Or how about having the housecat eat out of your left shoe for good luck? Hummmm.....I'm thinking that one might have started in the days when finding a mouse in your shoe was a possibility.
Chinese superstition says that carrying a red umbrella over the head of the bride wards off evil spirits, while another claims that the rice you throw is to distract them and third claims that bridesmaids are dressed up to confuse evil spirits, so they won't know which person is the bride.
Have you ever heard that you're not supposed to let another woman try on your engagement ring? I actually worked with a few gals who wouldn't let anyone even touch their rings. Now I know why. Apparently, if another woman tries on your ring, she'll steal your finacee! LOL
I had a bit of a laugh reading some of these, but I have to confess that my husband and I have been very happily married for decades and I can't help but wonder if Aunt Phyllis didn't give us a shove in the lucky direction when she took my shoe!
The book is in stores now, so be sure to pick up your copy! Read on for an excerpt, and if you want to get to know my hero, Kane Lennox, a little better, pop on over to eHarlequin and read his Hero blog this week!
Kane Lennox’s bare feet sank into the new spring grass, his toes disappearing between the thick green blades like shy mice. He’d slept on mattresses that cost as much as a small sedan, walked on carpet that had been hand-loomed in the Orient, and worn shoes made to order specifically for his feet by a cobbler in Italy. But those experiences paled in comparison to this one. Comfort slid through his veins, washing over him in a wave, lapping at the stress that normally constricted his heart, easing the emotion’s death grip on his arteries.
He halted mid-step, tossing the conundrum around in his mind. How could something so simple, so basic, as walking barefoot on grass, feel so wonderful?
“What on earth do you think you’re doing?”
Kane whirled around at the sound of the woman’s voice. Tall and thin, her blond hair hung in a long straight curtain to her waist, flanked by tight fists propped on her hips. Her features were delicate, classic, with wide green eyes and lush dark pink lips, but right now, her face had been transformed by a mask of confusion and annoyance. In one hand, she held a cell phone, her thumb over the send button. 9-1-1 just a push away.
Not that he could blame her. Even he had to admit what he was doing looked…odd. Out of place. Kane put up both hands. The see, I’m okay, not carrying any lethal weapons posture. “There’s a perfectly logical explanation for my behavior,” he said. “And my presence.”
She raised a dubious brow, but looked a bit worried, even apprehensive. “A total stranger. Barefoot. On my sister’s lawn. In the middle of the day. Uh-huh. I’m sure there’s a logical explanation for that.” She turned, casting a hand over her eyes, shading them from the sun. “Either there’s some cameraman waiting to jump out of the shrubbery with a ‘Surprise, you’re on “Candid Camera”’ announcement, or you’re here on some loony bin field trip.”
He laughed. “I assure you, I’m not crazy.”
Though the last few weeks had driven him nearly to insanity. Which had pushed him to this point. To the small town of Chapel Ridge, in the middle of Indiana. To--
Being barefoot, on, as she had said, her sister’s lawn, in the middle of a bright April day. Okay, so it was mildly crazy.
“That leaves the “Candid Camera” option, which I’m definitely not in the mood for, or…trespassing.” She held up the phone like a barrier against a vampire. “Either way, I’m calling the cops…”
“Wait.” He took a step forward, thought better of it, and backed up. As his gaze swept over her a second time, he realized she looked familiar, and now knew why. “You must be…” He racked his brain. Usually he was so good at names. But this time, he couldn’t come up with hers. “The sister of the bride. Jackie’s sister.”
“I get it. You’re a detective who does his best thinking in his bare feet, is that it?” She gave him a sardonic grin. “Must have been tough, putting all the puzzle pieces together, what with the ‘Congratulations Jackie and Paul’ sign out front, the paper wedding bells hanging on the mailbox. Oh, and the happiness emanating from the house like cheap perfume.” She paused mid-tirade. “Wait. How do you know who I am?”
Kane gave her an assessing glance, avoiding the question. “What’s made you so disagreeable? Are you allergic to white or something?”
She sighed and lowered the phone. “I’ve had a rough day. A rough life and--“ She cut herself off again. “How do you do that? I’m not telling you a single thing about me.”
“Listen, I’ll just get out of here and leave you to your day. I’ve clearly come at a bad time.” He bent over, picked up his Tanini Crisci Italian leather dress shoes and started to leave.
“Wait.” She let out a gust.
He turned back and for a second, Kane swore he heard a spark of himself--of the last few months, the days that had driven him to this town, to this crazy idea--in that sound. Then, just as quickly, it was gone, and the spark of distrust had returned.
“You still haven’t told me why you’re on my sister’s lawn, barefoot, in the middle of the day.”
Kane’s jaw hardened. “We’re back to that again?”
“When did we ever leave that topic?” She parked her fists back on her hips, the cell phone dangling between two fingers.
Telling her why he was here, and what he was doing, involved getting into far too many personal details. If he started opening up about his problems, he’d have all of Chapel Ridge--all four thousand, nine hundred and ten residents, as it were--knowing his identity--and there’d go his plan to enjoy some much-needed R&R.
He had no intentions of telling anyone anything. Particularly Jackie’s sister.
Susannah Wilson. That was her name. Suzie-Q, Paul called her, like the packaged dessert.
Before she could question him further, he headed over to his little blue rental car, a cheap American model, light years away from the silver convertible Bentley Azure he usually drove. The rental was non-descript, plain. Like something anyone else in the world would be driving. And perfect.
Susannah followed him. Not one to give up easily, that was clear. “You still didn’t answer my question. Who are you? And why are you here?”
“That’s two questions. And I don’t have to tell you anything, either. It’s a free country.”
He could almost hear her internal scream of frustration. Oh, this was going to be fun.
She scowled. “Trespassing is a crime, you know.”
He grinned. When he’d booked this trip, he’d had no idea there’d be a fringe benefit of this little fireball. “Only if you’re not invited. And I was invited.” He paused a beat, watching her eyes widen in surprise at the word ‘invited,’ waiting to deliver the last punch of surprise. “I’m the best man, after all.”
This week should be a fun week on the blog. On Monday, you'll get to meet my hero, Kane Lennox, who is the billionaire in my February release, THE BRIDESMAID AND THE BILLIONAIRE, out this month from Harlequin Romance. He's a man who has everything that money can buy...until he meets the one woman he can't have, and realizes money hasn't given him true happiness.
Look for a post from Melissa, and also one from Susan this week. And since Susan is up on Friday...and Friday is Friday the 13th, I bet she's going to post something all about superstitions. Hmm...wonder if there's a way to tie all that in to romance? Like, if you walk under a ladder, your about to meet Mr. Wrong? LOL.
This month is the month for romantics, so if you have a romantic story you'd like to share, let us know!
Every time I think that I'm going to move away from weddings (and talk more about love in general), something comes along that I want to share. I found this earlier and meant to post it, but I ended up posting something else instead. So here you are. It's a proposal and the title indicates that it's genuine, although I don't know if it really is, since it appears to be advertising a camera. Either way, it's clever and sweet and romantic, so of course I had to share: