Monday, July 31, 2017

July Reads

Instead of my usual monthly recap, I'm going to do an abbreviated recap and just focus on the books I read in July!

July was a pretty good reading month for me! I read 5 books, but one of them was over 700 pages so it felt like I read 6+ books! My favorite read was Eligible!  Here's what I read along with my thoughts about each book:

The Leavers by Lisa Ko - 2 stars - I had high hopes for this book as it was raved about on a couple of book podcasts I listen to. But it fell flat for me. The pace of the book was slow and I struggled to relate to or feel compassion for the characters as they were sort of unlikable.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld - 5 stars - I loved this book! It's a modern-day re-telling of Pride and Prejudice. It was a delightful read and is the perfect summer read in my opinion!

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara - 4 stars - I had heard how emotionally devastating this book is so had avoided reading it for the last couple of years but I decided to read it in July. It is not for the faint of heart. The writing is amazing and you really get to know the characters in the book. It is very much a character-driven story instead of being plot driven. I can't say I 'enjoyed it' because it is such a sad story, and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to anyone because it's just so heartbreaking. The kind of heartbreaking where you wonder how the author came up with the atrocities she wrote about. But I am glad I read it.

The Dry by Jane Harper - 3 stars - This is my pick for my book club for the month of August. It's been raved about on Modern Mrs Darcy's blog. It was a fast-paced, engaging murder mystery but it probably won't make for the best book club discussion, aside from talking about whether anyone guessed who the murderer was. But we've read some heavier books lately so I thought it would be a good change of pass. Although, I do want to give a trigger warner as violence against a child is part of the plotline.

I See You by Clare Mackintosh - 4 stars - I loved this author's first book so was excited to check this out. It didn't quite live up to her first novel, which was a tough act to follow, but I still enjoyed it and read it in a matter of days.

What have you been reading lately?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Currently: July Edition

And just like that, it's the last week of July! Time seems to fly especially fast in the summer, even though the days are longer (at least in terms of # of hours of daylight). Here's what's currently up in my world!

Reading:  I See You by Clare Mackintosh. I loved her last book, I Let You Go, last summer and loved it, so I was excited to see she wrote a new book! The author used to work in the police force in the UK so her real-life experience lends more credibility to her stories. I Let You Go was so page turny and this one has been engaging so far!

Loving:  All the fresh produce I've been eating from my garden! I've been eating lots of zucchini, green beans, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes. I can't wait for my big tomatoes to ripen! I'm planning to can marinara and salsa again this year but this time I am going to use the pressure cooker we got for our wedding so I'll be able to can any kind of salsa I want (with the hot water bath canning method, you are limited on what you can safely can as you have to make sure the acidity level is high enough to offset the risk of botulism!).

Feeling:  like I still have work to do in figuring out how to not over-schedule myself. I guess this is always going to be a work in progress. I've decided that I will not make any more plans in August besides what we have on the calendar as we need some open weekends to do whatever we feel like doing versus having set plans for each weekend. July has been fun but it's just been so scheduled!

Thinking:  about our fall vacation plans. We are tentatively planning to go to Asheville at the end of October. We haven't booked the trip yet as we both need to make sure we can get the time off. Asheville is one my favorite places to visit so I can't wait to show it to Phil! There's so much great hiking and great food in the area so I know he'll love it.

Anticipating: my getaway to the lake. I'm heading to the lake this morning for 4 days! Phil can't join me as he can't get the time off from work but it will still be a fun getaway. My Chicago brother and his family are there this week so I can't wait to get extra time with them - especially my nephew and niece who are 10 and almost-6!

Watching:  very little TV these days. I pretty much just watch a bit of the news in the morning and that's about it!

Grateful:  that the forecast looks wonderful for my lake getaway! Temps will be in the 80s so it's going to be a great week to be by the water!

Listening:  to all the podcasts as usual. I'm not excited to drive to and from the lake by myself as Phil is usually my chauffeur (lucky him!). But driving by myself has it's perks as I can listen to podcasts that wouldn't interesting him (like, the many book-related ones!).

Wishing:  for a nice long summer that stretches into fall!  I just love the sunshine and warm temps and would like them to stick around as long as possible! I know not every likes summer, but if you had winters like we do, you'd understand why us Midwesterners LOVE summer.

What are you reading, anticipating, and wishing for these days?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Our Wedding: Details

It's been just over 2 months since our wedding and I'm finally posting my last wedding recap post!  Phew, that took longer than I thought it would!  Thanks for hanging in there and reading along!

I wanted to do one final post showing some of the details of our wedding. I am TERRIBLE at crafting and DIY type of projects, but I knew I had to take on a lot of decor projects to keep the cost of the wedding within our budget (which we managed to do - woo hoo!). Luckily I had lots of help from friends and family!  Here's a summary of all that we did to carry out the book theme of the wedding!

As I mentioned before, Phil writes the humor section of his company's monthly research publication. Imagine my surprise in March when I opened it up to see a picture from our wedding website! He made a fake "go fund me" page for the wedding. It was hilarious!! I sent it around to a lot of friends and family. We decided to display it at the wedding to give people a sense of Phil's great sense of humor!

At the guest book table, we displayed our parents wedding day pictures.

My favorite detail was our seating card table. I found some old library card catalog drawers on eBay.  Thank goodness for pinterest - I never would have come up with this on my own!

Browse the card catalog to find your seat
The seating card for each guest looked like the card you would have used to find a book in the library back before libraries went digital. The color of your library card indicated your meal choice.

I also picked up some initials made from books for our guest book table off of Etsy (so much cheaper than ones I've seen at places like Anthropology, and you could pick from specific which fabric you wanted).  These now have a spot on our piano at home - it's nice to be able to use something from the wedding!

I got the seating card and guest book frames at Ikea (they were super cheap as they are plastic) and I spray painted them gold.

One of the most popular features at the reception was the book that the mom of one of the ushers gave us for my wedding shower. This is also at home on our piano.  My sister-in-law made the folded flowers in this photos.  They were sprinkled throughout the various tables at the wedding.

Now for the table decorations. Each table had a mirror with a combination of gold wine bottles, candles, and books.

The table numbers also came from Ikea and were spray painted gold. They were $1 each so very cheap!

Of all the crafts, the book-lined candle with punched out hearts was my favorite.

We asked our guests so help themselves to a book-lined candle and luckily many did so we didn't have too many leftover at the end.

Our wedding favors were bookmarks, which my sister-in-law made.


Our photographers did a good job of capturing all the details of our wedding day. I really like the picture of our rings below as 5-19 is our wedding date. Phil's ring has sentimental meaning behind it as it was his late father's wedding ring.

Now, for the dessert table! I may be biased but I think our spread was one of the best I've seen at a wedding!

The bunting behind the dessert table says "Just Married." My sister-in-law also made this!
We had an assortment of desserts:  French macarons (pistachio, salted caramel and raspberry), oatmeal peanut butter cookies, chocolate ganache-filled mini cupcakes, key lime shooters, butterscotch budino shooters, and fruit tarts.

 These are the "YUM" letters that I glittered when we had our crafting weekend back in March.

Besides the bunting over the dessert table, we also had a book page bunting above our chairs at our table.

And or course, since it was a book themed wedding, we had a book themed hashtag:  #segnersgetmarREAD

As you can tell from this post, my sister-in-law took on A LOT of projects.  She got a special thank you and round of applause during my speech! My wedding coordinator also did an amazing job setting everything up. I gave her some guidance but mostly just told her to run with it and do what she thought looked good. Having her was worth every penny (and she was really reasonably priced as she just does this as a side gig).

Luckily the daughter of a good friend that I used to work with is getting married next month and one of her wedding colors is gold so she took all of the gold decor off my hands. The mirrors and nearly all of the books were borrowed so once those went back to their owners, there was very little left in our basement which made my minimalist husband very happy!

And that's a wrap! Thanks for reading along and hearing all the details about our special day. As I've said before, it was a magical day but given the amount of time and money that went into planning it, I sure am happy that it's behind me and we can just enjoy being married (err, marREAD, ha).

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Our Wedding: The Reception

Ok, prepare yourself for another loooong post of pictures!

When I last left off, we were just getting to the reception site to join the end of the social hour. We tried to get there as soon as we could but were probably only there for 15-30 minutes before they started to seat guests for dinner I am guessing. Our photographers snapped some candids, but my favorite photo during the social hour - the photo with my nieces and nephews - is one of my favorites from the entire day! The funny thing is that my niece Evie (who I am holding) was on the brink of a meltdown. We were heading upstairs to dinner and my brother-in-law grabbed me and said that the niece and nephew photo had to happen NOW or it wasn't going to happen at all. You'd never know that Evie was about to have a meltdown in this photo! I seriously can't love this photo enough and it's one that I will for sure be framing! Getting 7 kids to all look at the camera and smile = ninja photographer skills! The photos in this post look a little blurry, I think because of the change in size when I drop them into this post (no idea how to fix that - my techie skills are so limited). They are crisp and clear on the wedding gallery and when printed, though!

After that photo we headed upstairs and my uncle introduced the wedding party to the song "Just Say Yes" by Snow Patrol.

We opted not to have a wedding dance but I still really wanted a first dance and a father/daughter dance so after we were introduced, we went to the dance floor and danced to "Here, There, Everywhere" by the Beatles.

Then it was time to be seated for dinner. We had a lot of speeches at our wedding so I put a lot of thought into the cadence of speeches so it wouldn't feel like people were stuck listening to speeches for a long period of time. I was a little bit paranoid that we had too many speeches but we've gotten several comments about how much people enjoyed the speeches so I think it all worked out. At the end of the day, the wedding is about the couple getting married so I tried to stay true to what I wanted without worrying about what people would think (this is easier said than done!!).

After the blessing and while the salads were being delivered, my dad kicked things off with his welcome speech. My dad doesn't write his speeches out, he just puts together a bullet point list of things and goes a bit 'off the cuff' but it always works out! My dad talked about how proud he is that all of his kids are motivated and independent. He talked about how wonderful marriage is because you get to spend the rest of your life with your best friend. He excitedly welcomed Phil into the family and said he can't wait to do lots of fishing together. And he surprised us all by singing a little bit of a 1950's song called "Beautiful Brown Eyes" (my mom and I both have dark brown eyes).

I love the look on my mom's face while my dad is speaking. There's so much love between them after nearly 48 years of marriage!

My dad then SURPRISED my mom and passed the mic to her. I thought this was maybe planned as I am the last wedding in the family but it turns out he gave my mom no heads up! My mom pulled it off amazingly, though, and had many of my friends in tears. She talked about how when I would come home for the weekend, either from college or as an adult, I would always want to look at the engagement section of the paper first so I could read all about who was getting married to who. She tearfully talked about how excited she was to be able to put my engagement announcement in the paper this spring.

I love the look on my sisters face during my mom's speech - I think she teared up a bit.

Next up, Phil's mom spoke. I know it is not traditional to have the mother of the groom speak, but she wanted to speak. She has a very special relationship with Phil, which has grown since she has become a widow. And this will be her only family wedding so we wanted to give her the opportunity to talk. She KILLED it. She had people laughing so hard, some were crying! She told stories about Phil's childhood, and especially about his irreverent sense of humor. My favorite was the story about how one of Phil's elementary school teachers made all the students get a stuffed animal to keep on their desk as their 'buddy'. Phil thought this was ridiculous but had to go along with it. His parents took him to a store and he picked out a stuffed mole, which they thought was odd. On the way home, Phil said he had picked out a name for his stuffed animal:  Mole Lester.  Ha!  Besides talking about his sense of humor and funny personality as a child, she talked about how great of a son he is as he comes out to her house every Sunday for most of the day and mows and does other things on her 'honey do' list.

That ended the first block of speeches. We took a break and let our guests enjoy their salads and dinner. A lot of people say they did not eat anything at their wedding but I was in the clean plate club. Weddings are so expensive and I don't do well when I get hungry so there was no way I was skipping dinner! Since we got served first, we were able to go around to lots of tables while others were being served/eating. I also snapped a group shot with my college friends...

and my blog friends!

Towards the end of dinner service, our wedding party gave their speeches. We had 2 best men and 2 matrons of honor and told them they did not all have to speak, but they all opted to.

Best man Luke (college friend) went first. I think he was talking about Phil's sense of frugality or extreme honesty in this photo.

Then best man Dave (friends since elementary school) went next. I'm not quite sure what he was saying in this photo but I love the body language of Phil and Dave! He told stories about their teenage and college years and the one in this photo must have been a good one!

Next up, my sisters spoke. My older sister Emily went first. She kept it short and sweet and talked about how happy she is for Phil and me.

Then my younger sister Abby spoke and I was told that she had a lot of guests crying happy tears. She talked about how she knows how I am going to be as a mom since I did a bit (err a lot) of mothering to her when she was growing up. She said wanted to find a quote from a book to include in her toast since our wedding was book-themed so she started to look back through my blog posts to see if I had shared anything. She couldn't find anything but by looking back through my posts, she did discover how much the tone of my posts and outlook on life changed when Phil came into my life.

After the wedding party speeches, Phil and I both spoke. Again, I know it is not traditional for the bride to speak, but I wanted to make sure we thanked our guests as they had all taken time away from their families since it was a kid-free wedding and likely took time away from work since it was a 4pm Friday wedding. I also wanted to thank those who had traveled as we had guests from 16 different states and 1 Canadian province.

Lastly, I thanked Phil and said he was worth the wait. And since it was a book-themed wedding, I decided to share the following poem which summed up my sentiment about marrying him so perfectly:

I cannot promise you a life of sunshine;
I cannot promise you riches, wealth or gold;
I cannot promise you an easy pathway
That leads away from change or growing old.

But I can promise all my heart’s devotion;
A smile to chase away your tears of sorrow.
A love that’s true and ever growing;
A hand to hold in yours through each tomorrow.
~ Mark Twain

 Then it was Phil's turn to close out the speeches. Part of Phil's job is to write the humor section of his company's monthly finance publication (rumor has it that most clients read it first before getting into the charts/graphs and serious financial commentary). Since he 'gets paid to be funny' (as he often says), I knew his speech would be funny.

 You can tell how funny it is by my brother-in-law's body language in this photo!

His speech was hilarious, but it was also very sweet and sentimental. At the end, he talked about how, as a couple, we are going to face tragedies both big and small. But he said we are going to face them together - Phil and Lisa.

After the speeches, we did the father/daughter dance to the song "The Way You Look Tonight" by Frank Sinatra. 

You can faintly see my darn tan lines in this photo. They aren't too noticeable, though.

Phil and his mom joined us on the dance floor about a minute into the song.

After that song, we asked our guests to stick around for "Cocktails, Conversations and Confections." I was worried that without a dance, most guests would leave after dinner but luckily most people stayed around until 9-10 pm. Many of our guests commented on how they liked that we did not have a dance as it allowed for more socialization. This is the first wedding I've been to that didn't have a dance, and I'm so happy that we made this choice. The reason we opted to not have a dance is that we knew that if we had a dance, one or both of us would need to be on the dance floor and as a result, it would give us less time to interact with our guests.  Since we had many guests that had traveled so far, I didn't want our interaction to be limited to the 1-2 minutes we spent at each table in between courses. Life many decisions in life, this is a "you do you." I know that for many people, the wedding dance is their favorite part of the night, but for us, it was the right decision to not have a dance (it also cut down on cost as we didn't have to hire a DJ!).

At the start of the "Cocktails, Conversations and Confections" part of the evening, I snapped some photos with my family.

I love my sisters so much!

Phil and I with my siblings and their spouses
 And then it was time for some dessert photos. As I mentioned before, we had a dessert table instead of cake since GF cake is pretty awful. I'll share photos of our (amazing) dessert table in the detail post. I think it's safe to say our guests weren't sad that they couldn't have cake!

For our dessert photos, we each had a macaron (salted caramel for her, pistachio for him).

And we also had some salted caramel budino (which was also so so good)!

I definitely went back to the dessert table several times that night for more treats!

We stayed at our reception until about 10:30, I think. There were only a few guests left at this point and it seemed like they would be leaving soon so we felt like it was an OK time to leave. We were both definitely exhausted by the time we left! 

If you made it this far - CONGRATULATIONS!!!  This was a super long post but I want to preserve these memories so I can read them in the future when my memories of the night aren't quite as sharp!

I have one more post for you with the decoration details so you can see how we incorporate our book theme into the decor!