On Tap for Today

A fun loving, inspired living blog


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Today: The ‘I Do’ to do list.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Shortly after Nick and I got engaged, we checked off a few of the more important things on our I Do to do list.  We booked our wedding date at our church (one of the most special places in Boston, if you ask me… which you didn’t… but I still mean it), and found the perfect venue for our reception.  There was a bump or two in the road (specifically, when one reception site booked us for a date that wasn’t actually available, sending us back to the drawing board, and straight to an even better venue), but everything seemed to be falling into place.

Click this image to see how I procrastinate. In style.

And then I took a four month hiatus from planning.  Oops.  After re-focusing, spending less time pinning wedding inspiration and more time actually making moves, I have been checking off items on that list left and right.  In the past week alone, Nick and I have met with our DJ and photographers (one of my high school classmates!), confirmed our caterer, and sent out our save the dates.   After poring over hundreds of invitation suites, both in person and online, I found a graphic designer on Etsy who created an invitation specifically for art gallery weddings.  Because our reception is being held in a performing art space, and our cocktail hour in a gallery, this grabbed my attention immediately.  The designer worked with us on custom colors and sent us the files while I handled the printing, cutting, addressing and stamping.  In less than an afternoon, they were ready to go.  Though I didn’t time this intentionally, the save the dates (I am making a conscious effort to stop calling them STDs) were postmarked on Valentine’s Day. When Nick pointed this out, I decided to mail one to ourselves.  When I am old and senile, I will look at the postmark and imagine that I planned it that way.

Please feel free to analyze my handwriting.

If wedding planning were a judo competition, we’d presently be kicking ass and taking names (and writing checks to people with those names).  We have a few more appointments this weekend, including a trip with my parents to visit the dress.  I found it the day after Christmas with my sister and sister-in-law.  Though I intended to visit several dress shops, after trying this one on…. well, I knew nothing would compare.  I sort of want to hire a Ghosts and Gravestones trolley, but I don’t think that really fits with our overall aesthetic (i.e. not intentionally hideous), so I need to do some research about transportation.  We’ll meet with our priest, dig up our baptism certificates and complete Pre-Cana (marriage prep for Catholics). Nick has a tux in mind, and I’ll tag along to touch fabrics and be sure they don’t cause me to break out in hives.  We have song lists to make, bridesmaid dresses to pick, and a honeymoon to daydream about.  To think that we’ll be nearly done with just about everything on our list in the next few weeks is rather incredible.

That leaves us with essentially eight months to enjoy ourselves as the plans unfold and the big day approaches.  With so much out of the way, I’ll have time to ponder all kinds of questions.  For example:

  • What does one register for, when one really has everything?
  • What sort of underwears will fit under my dress whilst giving me, um, boobs modest enough for Mass, yet… lively enough for a party?
  • Is there a school that can teach me to be photogenic?
  • Is it too soon to make a color-coded seating chart?
  • Is it too late to kidnap Martha Stewart and coerce her into designing a tablescape?

Fortunately I have my answer to the biggest question ready to go: Yes.  I do.  Muhahaha.

Also On Tap for Today:

Do you keep lists all over the place too?  Or do you have a magic memory?


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Today: Entertaining for mortals.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I think I have had a life-crush on Martha Stewart ever since I knew she existed.  Truly.  I don’t really even mind the insider trading thing, because well… I love a comeback.  Do I think it’s unseemly to know right from wrong, and still do wrong?  Absolutely.  But who can deny the majesty of this “simple” wreath chandelier?  Or the perfect presentation of desserts set out for expected carolers?

[Image source]

Not me.  While I would love to entertain for a living, I sort of need to make a living in order to entertain.  I don’t have a team of stylists.  I do have a dog that likes to decorate the condo with various half-chewed stuffed animals when we have company, but no… no team of stylists.   I can’t pay chefs to cook lavish meals for in-home dinner parties, and the closest I’ve come to having someone food shop for me is Peapod (a veritable life-saver when there’s a blizzard pending and you’re nearly out of TP).  I have never successfully sewn a pair of boiled wool slippers for my every member of my family, though I did successfully print Martha’s handy templates.  That has to count for something.

While it’s unlikely I will ever become Martha Stewart, Jr. (I’ve heard the name change process is a real bore, plus I rather like the new last name that’s waiting for me in November 2012), and it’s equally unlikely that I will have her resources at my disposal, a girl can dream…  And then wake up, use what resources and creativity and flair she does have, and throw a damn good party.  Or decorate a damn lovely condo.  Or bake a damn tasty cake.

I don’t know why I just said damn three times.  Probably for emphasis.  Did it work?  Entertaining is not just for the Marthas of the world.  It’s also for mortals like you and me.  Want to know how I trick people into thinking I have my act together?  Too bad.  I’m going to tell you anyway.

Set the stage

Every Wednesday this Advent, I’ve hosted faith sharing for fellow Jesuit grads.  If that sounds interesting to you, I’d be happy to elaborate.  If you now think I am a crazy Christian, I’m happy to affirm your thoughts.  ‘Tis the season for giving, after all!  Back to Wednesdays.  Our group arrives at my condo just before 7.  I rarely get out of work before 6.  My commute is usually painless, but every once in a while, the person ahead of me forgets how to drive.  I try not to give people the aggressive horn toot on my way to pray, but um… sometimes it just happens.  I’m often left with all of 20 minutes to make sure our condo is guest-ready, set out food and drinks, find matches (I can’t talk about God without candles.  Just kidding.  Kind of.), put my face back on, and turn my work-brain off.  The key here is planning ahead.  And having a fiance who can field my panicked “I am stuck in a meeting and I forgot to vacuum” phone calls.

It’s no secret that I am list obsessed.  When it comes to entertaining, I have this one memorized and use it for brunches, neighborhood Cinco de Mayo parties, and Yankee swaps with my best pals.

They’ll be here any minute and this place looks, um… lived in!

  1. Empty the trash barrels
  2. Wipe down the counters and sinks
  3. Light candles and safely dispose of the matches
  4. Turn on the electric fireplace
  5. Herd Clark’s rogue toys
  6. Set out plates, glasses and napkins
  7. Fluff the cushions on the sofa, and bust out the Scotch fur fighter
  8. Dust and vacuum, if necessary and time allows

This whole process rarely takes more than 10 minutes (when we live in a sprawling mansion, I anticipate it may take longer), and keeps me just busy enough to gain some mental distance between my work day and what lies ahead.  Survey your home and prioritize before you turn into a cleaning machine.  Think about the places people actually notice.  Just last week, someone commented on how clean our bathroom was.  If that person had stepped foot in my shower, or poked their head under my sink, I imagine they may have felt differently.  People will likely not open your dryer, or duck into your closet, so rather than fold your laundry and organize your shoe rack, spend those minutes tidying your living room.

I would be a hot mess if I didn’t have a timeline in mind.  If I have more than 20 minutes, that timeline almost always includes 19 minutes for freaking out when I burn something in the oven.  I make sure that if I need to get dressed or changed, this is not the last thing I do.  Inevitably people show up early, and no one wants to be greeted by my 11 year old Boston College tee shirt with the gaping hole in the armpit.  Once I am feeling presentable, I might pour myself a beverage, or dance around a bit to my favorite jam of the moment.  A relaxed hostess makes for comfortable guests.  A drunk hostess likely has the opposite effect, but that’s a different post for a different day.

Decor need not be a chore.  A vase or two of simply arranged flowers goes a long way.  Three of my current favorites:  a bouquet of kale, a tall vase of white tulips, or a few branches of holly.

Keep food simple, but special

When it comes to food, I’ve mastered a few dishes that take minimal effort, but are just special enough to impress and can be presented in a fun way.  Appetizers and desserts are key here.  I love hosting casual gatherings where you don’t necessarily sit down for a “real” meal.  Mostly because the last time we did that, I undercooked the chicken breast (what’s a vegetarian to do?) and nearly killed Nick, my brother, and my sister-in-law.  Still sorry about that.

A few options to consider:

Many of these snacks can be made the night before, or are easily prepped.  I like to keep our kitchen stocked with many of the necessary ingredients on hand, just in case the Pope or my sister drops by.  Pre-baked phyllo shells were a genius invention.  Same goes for those little loaves of bread.  It may be because I am a shorty, but I always gravitate towards miniatures.

Fresh vegetables are an easy fix, especially when coupled with a Greek yogurt dip containing every single spice in our cabinet, and every herb in our refrigerator.  That keeps people guessing.  Oh, and cheese.  Who doesn’t love an artfully arranged plate of cheeses?  Someone I don’t want to know, that’s who (I make exceptions for people who are vegan or lactose intolerant, obvi.).

Pop that Crystal.  Or the $9.99 Prosecco.

When it comes to beverages, I have one word for you: bubbles.  Bubbles make everything more festive.  Nothing says, “Oh maaaaaaan, am I having a good time!” quite like a glass of Prosecco, or perhaps some sparkling water with a splash of pomegranate juice.  As a regular on the designated driver circuit, I always appreciate when tap water is not the only alcohol alternative.

Speaking of designated driving, if you’d like an early Christmas gift, remind me to tell you about the time I was the DD at Nick’s fraternity formal.  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll nominate me for sainthood.

Keep a stash.  Of cute paper goods.

I tend to keep the presentation clean and simple, using a big ol’ white platter and matching plates.  We have a little stash of fun napkins and paper plates and the like tucked away in one cabinet.  Homegoods is a goldmine when it comes to cute, inexpensive cocktail napkins (imagine the things I would know if my brain weren’t full of thoughts like that one?).  In a perfect world, I would use recyclable cloth napkins and strictly bamboo plates.  But, um… this isn’t a perfect world.  Sorry, Al Gore. 😦

We keep platters, bowls, a cheese board, extra vases and other items we use almost exclusively for entertaining in that same cabinet. It’s like one stop shopping.  Except that it’s free, and the inventory never changes.

Play it cool.

The bottom line is this: I’m not Martha.  I’m Elizabeth.  My friends come over to hang out with me, not a lifestyle mogul (likely because she won’t return their calls either).  Entertaining, decorating, cooking, baking, playlist making, and mood setting are things I love to do.  If you’re having fun, you’re likely doing a good job, right?  Just be cool.  And in the words of my kindergarten teacher, be yourself.  Nobody likes an imposter… even one that can turn a wreath into a chandelier.  For the record: I haven’t tried.  Yet.

Also On Tap for Today:

Do you like entertaining?  Or would you prefer to show up with a bottle of wine in hand?


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Today: A few of my (current) favorite things.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens (ew, I hate cats).  Let’s just cut to “a few of my favorite things.”

Basil grown from seed

I started growing these little guys from a seed kit early this summer.  While the basil isn’t quite ready to harvest, or whatever, I am quite surprised I’ve kept it alive this long.  I sneak over to the windowsill a few times each week to water the canister, and linger just long enough for a whiff of fresh basil– one of my favorite scents in the world.  Every once in a while I pick up Clark so he can have a sniff, too.  On second thought, maybe I have terrorized the basil to the point that it won’t grow any taller?

Christmas anything

We came home from New York to a full mailbox, stuffed with holiday-themed magazines.  With training behind me, and a wobbly foot below me, I can think of no better way to pass the time than tucked under a warm throw on the sofa with Martha Stewart at my side.  Will this be the year I sew felt slippers for everyone I know?  Likely not, but a girl can dream.

I’ve been alternating between sports talk and the oldies station in Boston that is already playing exclusively holiday music during my brief commute to and from work.  It feels so wrong, and yet so right.  Nothing cures a long day at work quite like a solo-sing-along on Massachusetts Avenue.  Everyone sounds good singing Christmas carols.  As my friends on 98.5 the Sports Hub would say, Fact.  Not opinion.

I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and that I shouldn’t wish away the time, but peppermint and snowflakes and tinsel are my lifeblood.  I can’t help it.

Paper straws

What’s whimsical but sturdy, candy-striped but calorie free?  A paper straw.  One of life’s little luxuries and better for the environment than, um, plastic straws (but worse than say, not using a straw at all)… this little jar is a great reminder to keep throwing back that water.  Not that I need much of a reminder, as I am perpetually thirsty.

Want to hear a sad story about water? (It’s not really that sad, and yes, I am well aware how lucky I am to have a reliable source of clean, drinkable water.)  When I finally crossed the finish line last Sunday (I promise to stop talking about this sooner rather than later), yanked my right shoe off, and hobbled the eleven blocks to the park exit, all I wanted was a cup of water.  And a chariot to transport me to meet my cousin, sister, and fiance.  And a warm bath.  And six bags of cheese doodles.  Okay, I wanted a lot of things… but water was at the top of the list.

We were given a bottle of water in our finishers’ bags, but my hands were full, and mostly, I felt crazy.  Too crazy to open the bag and peel the cover off the bottle.  I made a deal with myself: hobble the three additional blocks necessary to grab a taxi, get situated while waiting for a cab to arrive, and break into that stash of water and pretzels.

With no free cabs in sight, I opened my bag, fished out my water bottle and set it on ground next to me.  I called Nick to tell him it may take me a while to get to them, feeling equal parts sore and discouraged.  Just as I hung up, a car careened past me, hitting my water bottle and smashing it flat, sending water clear across Amsterdam Avenue.  Being the most pathetic person on the planet (or at least, the block), I burst into tears.  And then got refused by a taxi driver who clearly thought I was mentally insane.  Waaa.  Anyway, I like straws.

Getting jacked

Though I’m registered for a race next month (I am planning to dress as a Christmas tree.  See tinsel as lifeblood above.), I want to make sure I give my little body plenty of time to recover before hitting the road.  Instead, I will hitting the gym.  Hard.  Sort of.  I’ve really loved strength training at the boxing gym, and am looking forward to upping the ante a bit.

Nick is helping me navigate Stage 1 of The New Rules of Lifting for Women, which seems to be a great jumping-off point and the perfect set of goals to work toward.  I’m also looking forward to putting my TRX to use, cashing in a Groupon for a 10-pack of yoga classes, and making time for all the things I put off “because of the marathon.”

With cats to hate basil to grow, holidays to celebrate, water to sip and iron to pump, I have a feeling I’ve got plenty to keep myself busy.  Hopefully so busy that I don’t have time to act on my inclination to register for another marathon.

Also On Tap for Today:

Care to share a few of your favorite things?


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Today: Here comes the bridezilla.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Just kidding.  I haven’t turned evil… yet.  Then again, we haven’t made any concrete plans, so who knows what I am capable of?  Muhaha.  We are visiting our first potential venue this coming week, but until we have an actual date set, it’s difficult to do things like, um… send out save the dates.  Or reserve a moon walk (some people call them moon bounces or bounce houses.  Those people also happen to be wrong.).

A bouquet from our sweet neighbor, and the box where I store my wedding secrets. Shh.

I’ve been all over Pinterest, however, pinning flowers and cakes and basically anything Martha Stewart has published in the past decade.

I’ve also been perusing various wedding magazines and I’ve got to tell you, the pictures are pretty, but most of the words make no sense.  Take, for example, this article by David Tutera.  You may have seen his terrifying television show?  According to David, a bride’s mantra should be “This is my day.”

After marching around our living room chanting “This is my day!” in my sweaty boxing outfit earlier this week, I found it prudent to assure Nick that our wedding day will be our day, not my day.  Imagine if Nick turned into a groomzilla?  That would be amazing.  Regardless, if that article is at all representative, the bridal industry thrives on tools tulles the self-absorbed. (Maaaan, I crack myself up.)

Then there are the ubiquitous countdowns, found in every, single magazine I’ve creepily bought.  Could they be any more anxiety producing?

Holy crap!  I’ve only been engaged for a few weeks, and I am not sure when the wedding will be, but Lord, have mercy.  I’d better ask my fiance what his groomsmen plan to wear!  And then I need to register for silverware and random kitchen gadgets!  And then I need to demand that my sister shrink by several feet so she can serve as both maid of honor and flower girl!

Thanks, but no thanks, crazy magazines.

For the time being, I am just happy to be focusing on the fact that we’re happy.  And lucky.  And excited.  And engaged.  And (mostly) not totally demented.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Prep for tomorrow’s long run (i.e. don’t eat ice cream)
  • Try not to get hit by a satellite 
  • Sparkling Chardonnay!  Yay! 🙂

What’s the wackiest thing you’ve witnessed at a wedding?


13 Comments

Today: You’re invited to a pity party.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] Please bring the pita chips.

Remember when my face nearly fell off from the sheer excitement of attending The Martha Stewart Show, with my dog and my boyfriend?  Well, I had to scrape that very same freckled face off the floor last week or the week before (I’ve been wallowing for so long, I’ve lost track of time) when my BlackBerry alerted me to an email from the show.

  • My first thought: That blinking red light thing is so annoying.
  • My second thought: I love when Martha emails me just to say “Hi, girl!”  She’s so cute.
  • My third thought: Maybe the show’s producers Facebooked me and were like, “Now this is a creature to behold.  We should probably have her perched on Martha’s arm throughout the entirety of the episode.”

And then I read the actual message.

Bam! Head on desk.  The taping had been rescheduled… for the same day as a major work event.  When you’re the boss lady, you kind of need to be at those things.  In other words:

I know there are 50 million worse things that could happen to a girl, but I have to bring it real talk, people.  I was super disappointed.  Meanwhile, Boyfriend of the Year was busy emailing the Martha Stewart Show, behind my back, and begging them to help.  You can imagine my surprise when my BlackBerry was ringing and the caller ID showed a Manhattan exchange (I used to have a 917- number… I’m very cosmopolitan, but not cosmo enough to have had a 212-).  It was a show employee calling to offer me tickets for the original taping, sans Frenchie (because it was no longer a dog show).

I was an awkward mumbler and sort of blacked out, so I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to call or email someone to confirm this time around.  But I do remember saying “yes.”  So my disappointment turned to an optimistic confusion.  My confusion turned to “You emailed Martha Stewart?!” and sincere appreciation.  I thanked Nick the only way I could think of, with a Martha Stewart ribbon (heinously photographed by the aforementioned BlackBerry).

I do Martha a disservice by posting this photo, but trust me. Like all of her products, her message ribbons are top notch. And every girl should have several spools just floating around in her handbag.

Then, a few days later, I got another 917- call.  The taping had been canceled altogether (i.e. no dog show, and no human show).  I did receive an invitation to attend a taping when I’m free, though.  Which according to my day planner is in 2017.  The ladies at MSLO were really, really nice.  And I really appreciate Nick going out of his way to try and remedy the situation.   And Clark doesn’t speak English, so he could care less.

So, folks.  I hope you still like me and Clark, even though we’re not going to be famous (this month), after all.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite depressing song?  I’ll add it to my iPod immediately.  Just kidding… or am I?


19 Comments

Today: Martha, here we come!

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.

I got an email late yesterday from The Martha Stewart Show regarding an upcoming taping of a very special lapdog episode.  And I completely freaked out.  In just two weeks, Nick and I are heading to New York for the show.  Oh, and Clark’s invited to join the audience too.  Can you stand it?!

The next two weeks will be spent:

  • Picking out the perfect outfits (we received instructions to “dress to impress” and wear bright colors)
  • Bleaching my teeth
  • Practicing hairdos (for both me and Clark)
  • Selecting the perfect dog sweater
  • Pretending to shake hands with my idol (preferably without fainting)
  • Screaming at the top of my lungs and jumping on the bed

I’m totally jazzed.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Mmm… winning Super Bowl recipes from Whole Foods
  • Class at The Pawsitive Dog 🙂
  • Track workout (on the treadmill, obvi)

Which celebrity would you most like to meet?


9 Comments

Today: One bad ass white wrapper.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] I usually don’t care much for secular Christmas music.  Stupid Dominick the Donkey, in particular, makes me want to poke my eardrums out with a miniature candy cane.  I make an exception, however, for two very special jams: Feliz Navidad and Christmas Wrapping.  The first reminds me of that old Sesame Street Christmas special where they all go ice skating, complete with the most muppetty crack the whip of all time.  The latter is just plain awesome.

 

I mean it.  Christmas Wrapping was made for sing-a-longs.

With just a few days to go until Jesus’ birthday, I had a couple more presents to wrap.  Last night, I cranked the Waitresses and got down to business.

Buy three rolls of Kraft paper at the beginning of the year. Trust me on this. You'll use it for birthdays, weddings, Flag Day, Christmas. Very versatile.

We had approximately 49 paint chips left from the Big Decision (not the Lebron James network special, the one where I had to decide between 16 shades of grey wall paint), so I put those to good use as gift tags.

Thank you, Martha Stewart Paint.

To jazz up the Kraft paper a bit, I added a few cinnamon sticks and pieces of coral and shells from one of my many Cool Stuff Explorations in November.

I hope none of these people have x-ray vision.

I rounded out the evening by addressing our Christmas cards.  With any luck, they’ll end up in your mailboxes sometime before next Christmas.

Yes. Those are Clark stickers. And, yes. I have mental problems.

When I started running low on adhesive Clarks, I contemplated using the mini-mes leftover from my emergency passport renewal.  I am not sure how I ended up with so many photos of myself.  Or why I kept them.  Or how I made it through customs without being cast in the next vampire movie.

I take the "no smiling in your passport photo" rule very seriously. What a freak.

Almost all of my presents are now wrapped and resting beneath our tree, with four days to spare.  What can I say?  I am one bad a$$ white wrapper.

Also On Tap for Today:

When unwrapping presents, are you careful and cautious or do you wrap that thing open with reckless abandon?