Friday, August 29, 2008

The Lucky Love Frog Worked For Me

On February 14, 2007 there was a huge blizzard in the Northeast, especially in Upstate New York. I trudged home from work that day (Albany) in several feet of snow. I had planned an informal 'singles' outing at a local bar that night, but the snow cancelled the event. Instead, I was stuck in my apartment on Parkwood Street, with no Valentine. After a few hot cocoa and Bailey's cocktails, I ended-up calling my dear Aunt in Syracuse for a minor pity party. A few days later, I was very fortunate to receive this gift from my Aunt in the mail.

The tiny charm came with an explanation. "THE LUCKY LOVE FROG: This lucky frog charm will help you find the perfect man who's smart, handsome, and kind. Keep him close to your heart any day or night until you find your prince charming or at least Mr. Right!" I've always been a fan of frogs, so I receive frog-related gifts often. However, none have been so powerful and wonderful.

Michael and I met about 3 weeks later.

You can purchase your own 'Lucky Love Frog' at

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

15 Breweries in 7 Days!

I knew we could do it. My fiancé and I took a week-long vacation and leisurely travelled through 3 New England States (Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont), visiting as many breweries as we could. We camped in State Parks every night but one, when we got a hotel room instead. The smallest brewery we visited was the Italian Oasis Restaurant & Brewery in Littleton, NH. The largest was Anheuser-Busch in Merrimack, NH. Mike's favorite stop was Milly's Tavern whereas mine were Anheuser-Busch and Mt. Washington.

Here's a list of the places we visited (in chronological order):

We had such a great time. My gas-friendly Civic only needed fill-ups 3 times. I fed a worm to a huge frog. I tasted my first 'Pumpkinhead Ale' of the season. Mike caught 2 fish. We brought home a nice sampling of fine, craft beers and quickly divvied them up in the fridge. You see, I haven't had a beer in days. I've instilled a sort-of "detox" for myself. I'm almost back to 'normal' (whatever that is).

Friday, August 15, 2008

Calligraphy Course

I have registered for a Calligraphy Course at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, NY. It starts in mid-September and meets once a week for four weeks. I've always been sort of interested in calligraphy and now I have a legitimate excuse to learn it. My potential skills could have a myriad of uses in the wedding world.

An interesting update on the country-of-origin of the 2Be Bride dress: I contacted the designer directly and inquired if the dress was in fact "made here (New Jersey) with foreign material". The answer is "no". It is made overseas. I'm trying to remember exactly what I was told at the bridal boutique since I was led to believe otherwise...

I'm off for vacation now for about 9 days. My fiancé and I are going on a brewery/camping tour of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. So, I won't be posting anything new until the week of August 24th. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dress Shopping Part II

Saturday I went to the 'Bridal Gallery by Yvonne' (Latham, NY) with my Best Friend, Katie. This boutique was more upscale than the previous two I visited. We had our own room with a couch and changing area. My consultant, Linda, is a DEC retiree (for those of you who don't know, DEC = Department of Environmental Conservation = where I currently work). After a brief chat about my dress aspirations, Linda disappeared into a back room and emerged a minute later with a few dresses she thought I might like. She hit the nail on the head with the very first one. I loved it! It fit my stringent criteria perfectly and looked great. I tried on the rest of the gowns but then put the first one back on. That's when Linda brought me out of the room and into the boutique and put a veil on me. The other store employees gathered round and "oohed and ahhed" over me and the dress. (This is standard, they do this at every bridal store.) The price discussions ensued and I now I have more to think about.

After Yvonne's, we decided to go to David's Bridal right there and then and see if I could try on the dress from last weekend. I did. I still love that dress too. Now I love 2 dresses. Yvonne's doesn't allow photography. So, unfortunately I can't refer back to anything. The only picture of the dress I can find is on the designer's website (2Be Bride) and it is too small and doesn't really show the dress or its details well.

The country of origin is a factor in my wedding dress decision and other aspects of our wedding. I was told by Yvonne that the 2Be Bride dress is made domestically with some foreign material. I'm still researching where the David's Bridal dresses are manufactured...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dress Shopping

Yesterday I went wedding dress shopping for the first time. I was terrified. I thought I was going to feel unnatural and out-of-place. I was also afraid I wouldn't like any of the dresses. Boy, were my fears silly. I had a blast! I liked several dresses and loved one in particular. My future sister-in-law, Loren, was nice enough to accompany me and act as my advisor, photographer, and friend (Thanks Loren!).

We began our journey by fueling our bodies with lunch at the Wolf Road Diner. Then we went to David's Bridal in Albany for my 12:00 PM appointment. "Becca" was my "wedding services coordinator". She was very good. Loren and I picked out six dresses and the journey began. First, David's outfits you in a tummy-covering bra (that they of course want you to buy). Then I began trying on the dresses one by one. With no mirrors in the actual dressing room, you're forced to come out, stand on a little stage and display yourself for all to see. That's okay though. There are plenty of mirrors and people's faces to tell you how you really look. David's also outfits you in the appropriate slip. Then they put a veil, shoes, and jewelry on you. It's so cool to see how you might actually look on your wedding day (minus that special hair-do and make-up).

There was one dress that I loved! I had noticed it months ago in the catalogue. There are a couple of options for customizing/personalizing it for myself. I suppose I can't tell you much more or else it could ruin the surprise. They let me prance around in it for about an hour while trying on the different options and accessories and such.

After David's, we headed up the Northway to Saratoga Springs. We went to Danielle's Bridal Boutique. Their selection was not as vast but I still tried on several more dresses. There were a couple nice ones that I took note of. My skin was itchy and I was hot and tired by afternoon's end. I have a dozen or so great photographs to refer back to and lots to think about.

After a junk-food stop at the gas station, I dropped Loren off with her family and headed south to go home. I was so beat when I got home that I had to take a nap before dinner. Needless to say I was up late last night busily working around the house. My wedding dress journey is far from over. I must continue to see what's out there and weigh all my options. Where should I look next?

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Proposal

On the morning of Tuesday, April 29, 2008, Michael proposed to me. I was getting ready for work, in the bathroom, putting on my make-up. He simply walked into the room and asked me to marry him. I said "yes," and he gave me the ring. It was wonderful.

Ahhh.. the ring.
Some history:

My Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother's Tombstone in Fulton, NY

The original ring was given to us by my Mother and Aunt. It was my Great Grandmother Margaret Hartnett's Anniversary ring. It contained an Old European cut diamond and was set in a simple 14 Kt. gold band. We decided to have it re-set into a new setting.

The original ring from my Family

I saved the photo below from a Catskill Mountain Region Guide from 2004. The top ring in the photo was my inspiration. We choose Hummingbird Jewelers in Rhinebeck, NY to make the ring because that was the jeweler who featured these rings.

The inspiration for my Engagement Ring (top ring), photograph by Hummingbird Jewelers

The new custom made ring is 18 Kt. white gold, centering the round Old European cut diamond weighing 1.72 ct., I color, VVS1 clarity, set in a 4-prong fishtail setting with channel set diamonds, G color, VS1-VS2 clarity, .30 ct. total weight, and sapphires, total weight .50 cts., alternating 2x2 with a double milgrained edge and hand engraved sides.


Mark Your Calendar Folks!

I think it's safe to say that our venue and date have been finalized. We are getting married on Saturday, September 26, 2009 at the Buhrmaster Barn on the grounds of the Pruyn House in Newtonville, NY - in the Town of Colonie. It's been a grueling search and it feels so great to have this decision made.

Buhrmaster Barn, Photo from the Town of Colonie Website

The Pruyn House is a beautifully restored home situated on 5 ½ acres that was purchased by the Town of Colonie In 1982. It was open to the public in 1985 as a historic and cultural center. There are ten outbuildings including the Buhrmaster Barn reconstructed on the grounds in 1987 and the Verdoy Schoolhouse which arrived in 1996. Other structures include a smokehouse, a potting shed, a woodshed/privy building, a carriage house, wellhouse and restroom facility. The lovely herb and flower gardens maintained by two garden clubs are a focal point for this site.

Gardens at the Pruyn House, Photo by Mike Carey

The Buhrmaster Barn was originally located along the Mohawk River where it was rebuilt in the late 1800's following a fire. Displaced from its original spot in 1911 when the Erie Barge Canal was built, it was moved to Troy-Schenectady Road. When condemned at that location in 1987 by the Federal Aviation Administration, it was moved to its present home at the Pruyn House. The barn features double doors, and is a lovely site for a summertime party when the gardens and the grounds are at their best.
Buhrmaster Barn, Photo by Mike Carey
To visit the Town of Colonie's website and read more information on the Pruyn House and Buhrmaster Barn, click here.