A Weekend with the Girls

Life speeds ahead and important elements like friendship might become little more than casualties along this racetrack. This is one of the reasons I have made a weekend with my best friend from high school a priority in my schedule.
If you’re a man, you might be able to relate if you go hunting with your friends. Or maybe you have tickets to a sporting event and share dinner before (or after) with a testosterone-heavy group. Good for you. Friendships enrich our lives.
And no, a girls-only getaway doesn’t me pillow fights in pajamas (regardless of what my husband likes to think). But it does involve the heart-to-heart talks that may have been left behind with those teenage slumber parties.


Many years ago, my best friend from high school and I began this tradition. Although we haven’t maintained an annual reunion since the inception, we’ve been faithful to it for the past three years.
City Escape
Two times we’ve traded our small-town existence for the big city. After all, spending time with friends isn’t about secluding ourselves from the world.
Our wide world begs us to experience its many faces. How better to see the bright lights and high rise shadows than with a friend?
We’ve visited San Francisco and Seattle. A trip to Sin City is brewing.
These destinations offer unique opportunities. Walking along Fisherman’s Wharf to the sound of barking sea lions? Sure and don’t forget the wax museum and Ghiradelli factory. If you’ve never been offered drugs at the entrance to Golden Gate Park, have you really lived?
Fish tossing at Pikes Place Market? We saw it. And sampled fresh-roasted coffee and nuts while perusing wares from dozens of artisans. When we wanted to be grossed out, we toured down Post Alley to the gum wall.


These are shared memories that fuel the midnight conversations in years to come.
Mountain Escape
One of our earliest weekends was at a condo near Mount Hood. It rained to greet our arrival, so we watched movies and snacked on popcorn.
While the clouds camped on the highest peak in Oregon, the sun shone on one trail that wove through evergreens to a small lake. There the mountain was reflected in all its glory.
This year, we took a longer drive to Leavenworth, Washington. We hiked two-and-a-half miles up the side of Icicle Ridge to enjoy amazing views of the river rushing through a rocky gorge on one side and calming to lap gently at several parks on the other.

Yes, that’s the river gorge nearly 2,000 feet below us

This little town offered plenty of other sights, too, with much more panache than the sleepy mountain towns of Rhododendron and Zig Zag (look them up if you don’t believe me).
Worth the Drive
While we flew to California, most years we hop in our respective vehicles and drive to the rendezvous point. The older I get, the more my body groans at being trapped behind the wheel for hours on end.
                                                            Yes, I’m not much for road trips.
But to spend a weekend laughing, sharing, crying and living with my girlfriends, I’ll suffer the butt-ache and stiff knees (all of which faded after the long hike anyway because my feet screamed much louder).
Even if we lived much closer, I think my friends and I would still like to “get away from it all” together. It’s therapeutic to bare our souls and drain our stress.
Sunday comes before we’re ready. There are hugs and goodbyes and then the promise of the future.
“See you same time next year.”
And it’s a date.
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Get anything you want – in the mail

Thanks to Amazon and other online vendors, a person never needs to leave their house to be supplied with anything they want. Everything they want—as long as they have a credit card limit high enough—will come to them in the mail.

Or be delivered by another parcel service.

The other day, the UPS man rang the bell at my door. I can see the porch from my office, and I noticed he wasn’t ringing and running like he usually does. Interesting.

When I opened the door, he held out the little electronic keypad thing-a-ma-jig they use these days.

“I need your signature today,” he says.

“I don’t even know what’s in the package.” I said this before I saw it was addressed to my husband. I hadn’t ordered anything I needed to sign for.

“It contains alcohol,” he informs me. Alcohol? We don’t even drink alcohol?

Or is there something my husband isn’t telling me???

“Signature required by law.”

Well who I am to break the law?

by_law

After he verified my name (since no one can sign those digital do-dads with any legibility), he handed me the package.

After checking that the box was from Alex in Laguna, California. And it was indeed addressed to my husband, I sent a text to The Man at work.

He didn’t know what it was either. Even after I sent him a picture of the label.

Things I Get all the Time

I get packages on a pretty regular basis. Mostly because it’s so easy to order anything I want and have it delivered.

Why leave the sanctuary of my home to purchase items if they will come to me? For just a few dollars more.

Amazon supplies me with:amazon-package

  • Books
  • Home decor
  • Gifts
  • Furniture
  • Shoes
  • And pretty much anything I can imagine.

But I also have become adept at clothes shopping. Who wants to go to the mall by themselves? Not me.

Why try on clothes in a cramped changing room when you can do it in the comfort of your own bedroom?

Right. Return fees.

It’s pretty amazing how many companies run specials that include free returns.

Of course, when I’m ordering my bras from Victoria’s Secret, I know the style and size I like. There’s not much risk of having to return them. Unless they are damaged.

It’s not that I don’t like shopping. I on’t want to go by myself. And why fight the crowds on the weekend when all my friends are finally off work and available to hit the stores with me?

Services I’m Trying Out

Recently, I’ve become part of the crowd that uses repeat delivery services.

I began this years ago with Gevalia coffee. Delicious stuff. In fact, I should probably look into starting that up again. I canceled it before we moved because I had a year’s worth of coffee stockpiled in my freezer.

Last year, my insurance finally came up with a mail-order prescription service that wasn’t a pain in the patooty. They ship me a 90-day supply of my daily medications automatically and charge my co-pay to my credit card.

So I get three months of meds for what I used to pay each month at the drugstore.

Save money? I’m in. Added convenience? I’m doubly pleased with myself.

auto_delivery

What other things is the delivery man setting on my porch on a regular schedule? Well:

  • Cat food (from PetCo delivered every six weeks)
  • Shakeology -my healthy breakfast-delivered every two months

And I recently signed up for Stitch Fix. This is a service that sends you five clothing items (you choose the frequency). You keep only what you want. They send you an addressed, postage-paid envelope for the returns.

Yes there’s a fee for the delivery even if you keep nothing.

But nothing is free in this world.

I’m looking forward to having my own personal stylist and seeing what sort of outfits she/he puts together for me each month. Actually, I signed up for an every two month delivery for this, too.

The end of the story

Oh, the package that started this story? You want to know what it was and who it was from?

Well no good gossip here.

It was a bottle of wine with the option of signing up for a wine-of-the-month club. (See? Here’s another thing you can get via mail.)

The sender happened to be one of the owners of a company who did work for us recently. They were thanking us for our business.

We could have used a Home Depot gift card rather than the wine. But what do you expect from a guy who lives in California?

What sort of things have you gotten in the mail (or in a package delivered to your door)?

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At the Mall with Wonder Woman

Welcome to What Would Wonder Woman Do, my new Thursday blog series. Some might claim that Wonder Woman and I are pretty close to the same person.

I mean born in 1966 and all.

But when it comes to shopping, Wonder Woman and I might not do the mall together.

What We Like

This is where WW and I don’t see eye to eye.

I like browsing through all the racks. And if they’re handing out free makeup application lessons, I’m in.

Sure, I’d like to buy into her line, “Why would you cover up your natural beauty?” but I’m not getting any younger.

Even though we both were born in 1966, WW hasn’t aged a day. Those comic writers keep her looking wrinkle-free and lithe.

Or maybe that’s her amazing (Amazonian?) genetics?

It seems we both tend to be from the “get in, get what you need and get out” school of shopping. If I don’t have a list to follow, I will either buy everything that’s on sale or nothing at all.

What We Don’t Like

Manequins. Those things are beyond creepy.

Pushy salespeople who say anything to get you to buy their products. I mean, why choose between Cinnamon and Cranberry? Buy both lipsticks because you’ll get 50 percent off your third item.

Perfume being sprayed in our face. Talk about making me sneeze. Even walking through a cloud of it and the toxicity gives me an instant headache.

Rude people who want to ruin the experience. They can cut you off, slam you with their bags, stomp on your toes or walk up to the register like you haven’t been waiting patiently for your turn.

And then there’s the Parking

I can be directionally challenged.

You know how you can press a button on your key fob and your car chirps? This feature was designed for me. Seriously. Why? Because I have been known to
1. Walk down several rows of vehicles looking for my car
2. Try to open a car that looks like mine but is actually NOT.

In the video, WW uses her Amazonian strength to move the idiot blocking the parking garage. I wish. Believe me laying on the horn doesn’t get the same results.

And you can bet she can find her vehicle without a problem. An invisible jet? And I wander aimlessly like a blind person now.

In short, WW can take me to the mall and handle all the rude people, but I think she’d better wait in the car. Or is that an invisible jet?

How do you picture a Wonder Woman trip to the shopping mall? Or maybe she’s a mega-store sort of shopper.

 

The Friendly Island Tour

Have you enjoyed cruising with me? I hope it has been entertaining. Better than a three-hour tour that gets you shipwrecked on a deserted island, anyway.

Our final port of call was Philipsburg, the capital of Dutch St. Maarten. Other than shopping for the last of our gifts and picking up our “free” charm, we had scheduled an island tour.

Cruise ships dock on the Dutch side of the island because the harbor there is larger, more accessible to the ships. Since our newest daughter loves France and all things French, I wanted an opportunity to shop in “France” for her.

In this case, that meant the larger side of the Friendly Island, and the best way to get there was on a tour bus.

Why the Friendly Island?

According to our tour guide, the island changed ownership several times over after being discovered by Christopher Columbus and claimed for Spain in 1493.

Even the natives of the island were transplants. They came from South America in about 800BC. The biggest claim of the island is its salt lake. In fact, salt mining was the major industry on the island until tourism took over.

The harbor as we're coming to port early in the morning
The harbor as we’re coming to port early in the morning

French settlers grew tobacco and the Dutch mined salt. Aside from the Spanish, the island was also occupied by the English at one time. Since the island was divided in 1648, there have been uprisings cause mostly from wars of the parent nations.

For example the French or British occupied the island during the different revolutionary wars to use it as a resupply station for troops making the trans-Atlantic trip to fight in the Americas.

Since the French monarchy returned the island to its nearly equal zones in 1816, the two nations have lived in relative peace.

The border between the two separate countries is unguarded and requires no stops to view identification. This freedom is one of the reasons why the islanders refer to themselves as the Friendly Island.

The open, unguarded border between Dutch and France on the island
The open, unguarded border between Dutch and France on the island

Tale Told by our Guide

But how did they divide the island?

Why would two countries even bother with this 34-square-mile hump of hilly volcanic rock?

The tale is told that when the early government decided both nations would peacefully occupy the island, they were unsure how to divide it. So they decided to have a race.

A Frenchman and Dutchman stood back to back and were told to walk the coastline. Where ever their feet touched, that would belong to their country.

Off they went.

If you saw the jagged coastline and the way the hills rise up along it in areas, you can imagine this wasn’t a peaceful stroll along the beach.

When the Dutchman came to the steepest part of the mountains (a hilltop measuring 1391 feet), his legs gave out. He sat down to rest and fell asleep.

It was there the Frenchman found him. And because the Frenchman walked further, the French side of the island is about 60 percent of the total area.

Shopping in France

St. Martin (the French spelling) is the only duty-free shopping destination in the French West Indies. Maybe that’s one of the things that makes is so friendly.

There was an impressive mall where our tour bus dropped us off. West Indies Mall is on the Marigot waterfront and contained recognizable brands from major retailers.

That’s not the type of shopping I wanted. So I turned left and headed to the colorful street market.

I practiced my bartering skills in this Marigot street market
I practiced my bartering skills in this Marigot street market

I could have dropped a wad of cash here. Everyone wanted to sell me something. Some people were even willing to barter with me.

I wasn’t in the mood to get fleeced. Nor was I looking for custom, hand-designed jewelry. That ship had sailed. (If you read this post, you know what I’m talking about).

I found a sun dress and jewelry to wear for the last night aboard ship. I could have purchased some interesting masks for my newest daughter, but I’d already found her an adorable turtle figurine.

What stands out

The thing that sticks out in my mind:

1. The gigantic colorful iguanas reclining in every tree. (I wasn’t about to walk beneath another tree without checking the branches first after seeing that.)

The picture does not do justice to the sight, I assure you.
The picture does not do justice to the sight, I assure you.

2. The tour guide singing her National Anthem to us during the last few minutes of the tour.

It really was a friendly island. Taking the tour was the best way to experience both sides of the friendliness claim-to-fame.

Why What other People Thinks Doesn’t Matter

People are happy to give us their opinions, aren’t they? Even when we don’t ask. But, why do we ask? Does what they think really matter in the long-term scope of life?

So, you’ve probably already been judging me for buying a diamond in the Caribbean. Or maybe for not bringing you back something nice, too.

Which means it’s time to finish telling on myself. When you left me on Monday, I was walking into the den of diamonds. Completely oblivious to what was about to happen.

A Diamond in any other Color

I mentioned how wedding rings traditionally have diamonds. And these are clear diamonds. The more colorless the better.

I have to say, I’ve swerved from the traditional path. (People have something to say about that, too, I’m sure.)

While we listened to the shopping expert give her spiel, Mr. Wonderful was jotting down notes on watches (THAT’S a whole different story). Me, I was gaping at the rainbow of colors.

Chocolate. Pink. Blue. Black. Diamonds – but with color. (Because we all know clear is not a color.)

And I’d become a little infatuated with blue diamonds. Not that the pink weren’t sparkly or the black wouldn’t go with any outfit. But there’s something about blue. *sighs*

Little did I suspect as I trod into the den of diamonds to pick up my free charm bracelet and charms that this store would host a gaggle of the brilliant blue babies.

The Hope Diamond is a blue diamond.

In fact, blue diamonds abound with this retailer. (I mean, level two distributor who can give you the BEST deal ever because you don’t have to pay any middle men. Yes, I’m repeating word-for-word what our shopping expert told us.)

Next thing I know, one of the managers is presenting me with a 1.62 carat blue diamond pendant. (”I don’t wear necklaces.”) And showing me how it would look set in a diamond wedding band and paired with the blue and white diamond band I had starting drooling over admiring.

OR there was this Crown of Light cut white diamond (.82 carats) that I could set between the blue diamonds. This is what I wanted. Or so I thought.

But when they displayed those diamonds side by side in the proposed settings, I had to admit the blue diamond called to me. It was unique. It was my color. And it was HONKING HUGE.

Not that I care about that. Or I didn’t think I did.

Until the man started giving us numbers. We could get the blue diamond – twice the size of the white – for the exact same price as the much smaller traditional diamond.

What about the Crown of Light cut? That’s what I really wanted, right?

Lucky for me (or perhaps the salesman), that gorgeous blue diamond that glittered and glistened like snow in the sun was also faceted in the Crown of Light manner.

What do you think?

Enter the moment when the title comes into play. You know, the issue of what other people think (and if it matters to me).

My jaw still sat on the floor at the exorbitant figure this man wanted us to spend on a new wedding set. I’m a starving artist. I LOST money in my career during 2015. Anything over $1000 seems out of reach.

This was WAY beyond that.

My husband asks, “What will you say when other people don’t really like this ring? That might happen.”

Because, you know, it isn’t a traditional white diamond. And it’s gigantic, so people will likely assume it’s zirconium (i.e. FAKE).

It took me a second to answer. But not because I was pondering the question. My brain was still frozen over the price tag. And the fact we were still talking about this ring instead of walking out of the store (we had the charm we came for).

So you don’t like my ring, huh?

“I’ll tell them it’s unique and showcases my individual style and personality.” (You know, the standby ‘it’s unique like me’ argument.)

He nods. The bartering begins. And just like that I’ve got a ring I never planned to want.

The Truth of It

Ring Number Three (which looks a LOT like ring #2 only marquis-cut stones)
Ring Number Three (which looks a LOT like ring #2 only marquis-cut stones)

The truth is, I received tons of compliments on ring number two in the five or ten years I wore it. The same can be said of ring number three.

“Your ring is gorgeous.”

“Are those rubies? What a cool idea!”

“Where did you get that ring? It’s amazing.”

“I’ve never seen a wedding ring like that before.”

And the list could go on for the rest of the page, but you get the gist.

Welcome to the present. Now I have a truly amazing ring. One that is unique in every way. But very few people have said anything about it.

Granted, I’m not the person who shoves my hand into someone’s face and says, “Look what The Man bought me.” Mainly because I don’t want to answer what will be the next question, “How much did it cost?”

Because it cost more than my husband should have spent. Anytime he buys me something I perceive as expensive (and only a millionaire wouldn’t classify this ring that way), I immediately shy away from it.

I don’t deserve that. The money could be better spent elsewhere.

What is that about? (Whatever it is, it will have to wait for a different blog post – or better yet, a therapy session.)

Do any of us deserve a gift?

And why does your opinion of a gift I received matter?

It doesn’t.

Sorry. That’s the truth. The gift was for me. Personalized according to my specifications.

Here is the Caribbean Blue - Hope Diamond's baby sister
Here is the Caribbean Blue – Hope Diamond’s baby sister

I adore it. I’m amazed by it. I stare at it, twisting it this way and that in different lights (while hubbs laughs at me).

The giver wanted to demonstrate his love. He thinks nothing about the price being “too much.” Is anything too expensive for the one you love?

In the end, what other people think about my ring (and I guarantee you, they all have opinions, even if they haven’t spouted them to me) doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t.

I might need to say that a few thousand more times. Because when I love something, I want everyone else to love it, too.

But if they don’t? That should never affect my feelings or thoughts.

Do you let what other people think affect your own attitudes? Why is this such an epidemic in our society?

Happy Cruising

For years – maybe since I saw the show Love Boat when I was just a kid – I’ve dreamed of going on a cruise. Specifically, a Caribbean cruise.

I’m starting off this new year with another fulfilled dream. Thank you to my wonderful husband who said “yes, book it” when I asked about this last April.

Don’t worry, my blog won’t go untended while I’m gone. And those memes about gratitude you’re already looking forward to have been pre-programmed into my Buffer queue. It will be business as usual around here.

Except I won’t be around here.

I’ll be on a boat in the middle of the Caribbean Sea basking in all the natural Vitamin D my body can tolerate.

The Itinerary

We’re flying out of Portland the day before the cruise. This gets us to Florida in time to acclimate – and not be late for the bon voyage ceremony.

We have three ports of call in the Eastern Caribbean. Here’s the “official” itinerary:

Sun, Jan 10 – Depart Port Canaveral, FL
Mon, Jan 11 – CocoCay, Bahamas – 7AM to 4PM
Tues, Jan 12 – All day at sea (I’ll be reading by the pool!)
Wed, Jan 13 – St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands – Noon to 7PM
Thur, Jan 14 – St. Maarten – 8AM to 5PM
Fri, Jan 15 – Day at sea (Poolside drink service anyone?)
Sat, Jan 16 – Still floating on the Caribbean Sea (Guess what I’m doing?)
Sun, Jan 17 – Arrive in Port Canaveral, FL at 7AM

Let’s hope we won’t be greeted by snowy weather when we fly into Portland airport at midnight on January 18. Ugh.

Fingers crossed that I soaked up enough happy rays to get me through to the end of March. We’re heading to Palm Springs with friends for a week – their Spring break since he works for the school district.

Additional Plans

Ever since I went zip lining in Mexico, I’ve wanted to go again. This time over a lush, jungle canopy. I have no idea if that’s what I’ll get in The Bahamas or The Virgin Islands, but I’m going to ride the wire either way.

Adventure

Ever since I didn’t go para-sailing in Mexico, I’ve been kicking myself.

I won’t be missing my chance on this vacation. Floating high above turquoise waters with sunshine kissing my skin and a breeze nuzzling my face is on the agenda.

Except I don’t like to have an agenda. I’m on vacation!

The third port will offer us some sort of kayaking activity. My husband will probably find his way into some snorkeling, but I’d rather keep my face out of the water, thank you very much.

Don’t forget shopping. I’ll have to bring back souvenirs for my new daughters and those boys they married. Maybe even start my Christmas shopping.

It’s a new year, right? Anything is possible.

Happy cruising to me. You can expect to hear my take on the “Love Boat” phenomenon when I return.

Have you ever been on a cruise? If you could go cruising, what’s your dream destination?

Playing Tour Guide to a couple of Okies

Nothing like two tourists pretending to be tour guides. Seriously, doesn’t the Bible say something about the blind leading the blind and both of them falling in the ditch?

The good news is that no one ended up in the ditch on the recent jaunt north to Seattle. In fact, thanks to modern technology, we didn’t even get lost. Not in the dark. Not when streets were closed in the direction we were heading.

Why Seattle

My cousin was visiting for the dreaded family reunion I wrote about last week. His new wife hadn’t been to the West Coast in many years. She wanted to see three things: Mt. Hood, the Pacific Ocean and Seattle.

Like the good hostess I am, I delivered her wishes. (What does that look mean, Darrin?)

I’ve been to Seattle exactly three times in my life (after this trip). Both times it was an overnight venture to attend a company Christmas party. I worked in the Portland office of a brokerage and the main office was in Seattle.

I ate breakfast in the restaurant at the top of the Space Needle (only because the salesman I worked with was buying – otherwise OUCH). We had a fancy dinner at Canlis.

Seattle has an interesting culture. The marketplace along the waterfront (it abuts the Puget Sound) has been included in popular novels and movies.

I walked its streets after dark and didn’t feel threatened. Of course, I was in the ten blocks between the Space Needle and the Hilton hotel. And I had two men with me.

Where in Seattle

We arrived on Sunday night. After we checked into the hotel, the handy GPS mapping app told us we could walk to the Space Needle in 23 minutes.

So we did. It may have taken more than 23 minutes. We had to stop along the way for selfies. There were a few closed sidewalks, causing us to weave across the street like headless chickens.

And there was a crush of people going up the Space Needle.

Fortunately, we’d purchased our tickets online so we didn’t have to wait in the Disney-esque line of tourists.

Have you noticed that everywhere you go they take pictures of you? “Care to have a free photograph taken?” was the line used during the Space Needle trip.

No charge to take it, sure. If we wanted to leave with a copy in our hands? A different price tag applied.

It takes 41 seconds to get to the viewing deck of the needle in the elevator. The elevator man told us this.

The views as the sun sank on the horizon improved as the city lit beneath us. It was worth the walk, wait and money.

Afterward we headed to a nearby pizza place and ate a wonderful Greek salad and delicious pizza. It was handcrafted and the sauce was the perfect amount of sweet and spicy.

Hubby and Me with the peninsula in the background
Hubby and Me with the peninsula in the background

On Monday morning, our handy mapping app informed us it was an eleven minute walk to Pikes Place Market. So off we went.

First, we headed onto the waterfront for a ride on the Seattle Wheel (think London Eye). Nice views and some good photo ops here.

We wandered through some shops, burning time. My cousin’s wife had heard Ivar’s had the best seafood in Seattle, and it was located near the wheel.

Truthfully, I’ve had better fish and chips on the Oregon coast. Since our server got sidetracked, we got free dessert. Chocolate cake and cheesecake – both get As.

It was an uphill trek to the alley where we witnessed a disgusting landmark – the Gum Wall. My artistic side appreciated the finesse with which some people had left their mark there. The rest of me? Shivered in revulsion at the thought of all that chewed gum in one location.

We spent time at the fish market. It’s here that whole fish are tossed around when they’re purchased. It’s pretty entertaining. Those guys have to be showmen – as well as strong enough to heft a sizable sturgeon.

More shop browsing. A casual walk back to our hotel, where we’d left our car safely ensconced in the $42 overnight parking garage (gotta love those downtown parking rates).

Have you been to Seattle? What sites would you recommend for our next round of tourist-as-tour-guide?

Scrapbooking a Wedding – Part 1 – The Dress

Things are changing in my world. One of the biggest changes that I’m relishing is being the mother of the groom. Of course, this calls for a scrapbook.

As mother of the groom, I don’t play an integral role in most of the planning. I’m okay with that. I want to be kept in the loop, though. Offering to record the event in a scrapbook gave me a perfect reason.

Life events should be enjoyed while they’re lived. But they should also be documented. This way the joy can be revisited through the years.

When we had our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, I enjoyed flipping through the wedding albums I made. The memories rushed back in vivid detail once more.

Time fades our recollections in the same way sun leeches color from our curtains.

We can’t bring our curtains back to full-color. Our recollection of events? It can be revived through visual stimulation.

As for the upcoming wedding, only a few plans have been set solidly in place. One of those – the dress – has been written about before.

Fading quote

Pages

Anyone who puts together a scrapbook, realized the paper makes the book. Seriously.

This is why any craft store will have an entire aisle of single-sheet specialty paper. And another aisle loaded with books of assorted papers.

It should have been easy to find a wedding-themed book of paper I loved, right?

Someone isn’t crazy about lace. Since this book is for her, I tried to avoid the books with mostly lacy-looking backgrounds.

Apparently, most brides ADORE lace.

Once I found a book with enough pages, I had to decide which backgrounds fit with which events I’d be documenting. Good thing I can always pick up more papers. After all, a scrapbook is designed two pages at a time.

The shopping excursions and final dress selection is the content shown on the four pages which record the hours days-long search for the perfect dress.

Pictures

During those escapades, the bride and her mother snapped photos with their phones. (What did we do before our phone could take snapshots?)

After the shopping trips, they forwarded the pictures to me. It was my job to sort through them, deciding which ones represented the overall experience of the day.

Since only one trip involved most of the bridal party, I chose many pictures from that day. After all, bridesmaids are an important piece of the successful wedding pie. (Or would that be cake?)

This bride went through the process of selecting a dress in a methodical manner. I must say, I was truly impressed. What happened to trying on every single dress until you fell in love with one?

If you know what you want, why waste the time and effort?

An assortment of pictures comes from the rejected dresses. Generally, there were parts of the dress that met the criteria. The pictorial rendering points out those sections, in hopes of reminding the bride of her genius.

For the bride, the dress is a HUGE portion of her wedding day. That’s one of the reasons it’s one of the first things my lovely future-daughter and son will see when they open their wedding scrapbook.

Next year when it’s finished – or ten years from now when they want to stroll down memory lane.

Next in this series is The Engagement. Guess I should actually put those pages together before I write about it.

Cinderella has a Dress for the Ball (i.e. Wedding)

Looks like Cinderella, but not wearing the perfect dress.
Looks like Cinderella, but not wearing the perfect dress.

Last week, I mentioned my first experience with wedding dress shopping in more than 15 years (I was a matron-of-honor once and hope never to be dishonored that way again).

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, my future daughter had her fourth opportunity to scour through a bridal store. This was my second outing, and I hoped it would prove to be “the day” we found her dress.

Her spirits skyrocketed. She had visited the website of the bridal boutique where we had a 12:30 appointment. In loving color (which can be difficult to notice when the dress is white), they displayed a dress by her preferred manufacturer. It looked like it had the two elements she wanted paired to perfection.

The shop was a converted house. Little hallways were stuffed with dresses: wedding gowns, bridal party attire and prom frou-frou.

At the back of the house was a well-lit sitting area overlooking the back parking lot. A trifecta of mirrors and a raised platform provided an ideal setting for a bride to showcase her choices.

Alas, that space was for royalty. We were tucked into a room behind the mirrored wall. Sure, it was a fair-sized room – 14 by 14 – but one wall was lined with chairs. Can anyone say claustrophobia?

But I don’t suffer from such fears. I took in the two full-length mirrors; those would offer a double-sided view of dresses. Yes, the room became the changing station and model runway.

Needless to say, the company website falsely advertised.

“It shows the entire collection,” the saleswoman said, “but that doesn’t mean we carry all of those gowns.”

Of course it doesn’t.

Could we at least put that in small print somewhere? That way, when my hopeful daughter called to make an appointment, she would know to ask if the dress she CAME TO TRY ON was on the premises.

An hour and a half later, we left with a helpful folder of wedding planning information, but not any closer to finding “The Dress.

Since we were nearby, a call was placed to the very first shop we went to – Bridal Exclusives. We’re out and about and wondering if we could come by to look at those dresses again?

Another appointment. More time by myself on the commuter-crazed highway.

Déjà vu.

We love Lindsay. This woman knows her gowns and how to make a customer feel valued. However much she makes for putting up with picky brides-to-be, she deserves a pay raise.

The envisioned dress proves elusive, does it? Not a problem. Let’s see if we can find a top from that manufacturer (Casablanca) because they will combine two styles.

Have you ever worn two wedding dresses at the same time? I mean – huge ones. They have four layers of crinoline beneath and four layers of gauzy tulle above.

Nope. Not "The Dress" for Cinderella.
Nope. Not “The Dress” for Cinderella.

My lovely Cinderella wore two dresses for quite a while. Come to find out, she could combine these two dresses – they were quite similar in style. The major differences: the cut of the waistline and the embroidery and beading on the skirt.

Yes, there is a Fairy Godmother in the wedding gown industry. Lindsay is her representative. The flattering beaded bodice will be paired with the shimmering embroidered skirt. The made-to-order dress should arrive in June.

The price? Believe me, I was expecting something close to $2,000 after looking at the price tags on some of the flashier gowns she’d tried.

I was wrong. I’m pretty sure Cindrella’s parents breathed a sigh of relief. They were prepared to pay whatever the price for “The Dress.”

Now that the most important part of the special day is taken care of, attention can be turned to more mundane things: finding a church, deciding on a minister, bridesmaids’ dresses, menus, and whatever else.

What memories do you have of planning your wedding? Are they positive ones? Or do you heave a sigh of relief  (“Glad that’s over”) when you think of it?

Dress Shopping Adventure – This isn’t Bride-zilla

Bridesmaids and the Mothers
Bridesmaids and the Mothers

After ending my child-bearing with two sons, I never expected to join in on the bride-driven flurry associated with my sons’ weddings. My daughter-to-be has different ideas. Adventures in dress shopping are only the tip of this iceberg (I believe).

Our first foray (a second is bound to come since the perfect dress remains undiscovered) happened at a shop in Tigard, Bridal Exclusives. According to our extremely helpful saleslady, it is the top seller of wedding paraphernalia in Oregon. And third in the U.S. (which seems like a stretch – but I would believe they were third in overall customer satisfaction nationwide).

We had an appointment. A comfortable bench gave us a perfect view of everything. Bottled water was provided. After a brief interview, they were off to choose one of each style.

Close...but still not the one
Close…but still not the one

I’d like to say it didn’t take long to limit her preferred types to two – ball gown and A-line – but anyone who’s ever put on a single wedding dress would see through that farce.  The saleslady dropped the yards of shiny, beaded fabric and piles of tulle over the bride’s head and then used strange clothespin-like devices to give the illusion of a perfect fit.

Let’s just say that maybe two out of the first twenty she tried were even close to the correct size. Meaning they zipped and she didn’t have more than a pair of the fabric-devouring piranhas hanging off her back or waist.

Most of the dresses were stunning. I’m sure that included the price, but we only learned the prices of two of the dresses. When I heard the first, my stomach and chest warred. One with sympathy for the purchaser of the dress and the other with relief that it wasn’t ME.

Suffice it to say, two hours later we were closer to knowing what the bride imagined wearing on her special day – but not to actually locating said jewel.

After a delicious lunch, we had a completely different experience at a smaller dress shop in Tigard. It is obviously popular. Two women were already trying on gowns. A few men came in to check the fitting of their tuxedos during the time of our visit.

The brides helpful treasure hunting team
The brides helpful treasure hunting team

A dress the bride loved online was on the rack, so she was quick to request it. The six of us went through the racks, showing her options we thought she might like. The selection offered at this tiny boutique equated to a single rack of ONE style at the larger store.

In the end, she tried on five dresses. The one she saw online didn’t look the same in person, so it was deleted from the possibility list. One of the dresses fit all of her requirements, but the embroidery was obviously flowers – not what the bride envisions at her winter wedding.

Five hours later, I was in my car driving home again. Wishing I had experienced a similar shopping extravaganza back in the day.

Thanks for including me in this first part of the wedding adventure, Kacy. I know one of these days, you will unearth the treasure you’re seeking.