Monday, April 26, 2010

How to Make Your Own Bouquet

One of the areas where we especially looked to save money was with a florist. I met with a great woman back in February, and after two hours of looking through florist books, magazines, and talking over ideas we planned the whole wedding and my heart about stopped at the price tag. Half-dozen rose bouquets for my bridesmaids were going to be $40 each! My bouquet was nearly $200! Daniel's boutonniere was $20!

That was not going to happen no matter how beautiful the flowers were, and how convenient it was to have someone make them for me.

So I googled how-to's and bought a dozen roses (not in wedding colors) to practice. Now, for less than the price of my florist's bouquet we'll have beautiful bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, and table centerpieces.

First step: lay each rose out and pull off all extra leaves. Cut off throrns. Trim to desired length.

Carefully selecting each rose, gather three at a time into a triangle. Wrap with florist tape to hold in place. Gather another 3 roses and create another triangle opposite to the first. Wrap again with florist tape. Continue as many times as desired.

Wrap in satin ribbon, beginning at the top and wrapping to the bottom. Secure with pins. I chose to use pearl-headed pins in a line across the tip of the ribbon.

The finished bouquet made me incredibly happy. The roses were so fresh, and perfectly open.

Of course my little poppet had to model the bouquet for me. A dozen roses makes a good sized bouquet. I'll be using half a dozen with short stems for each of my bridesmaids to create a simple, sweeter look.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Our Story - Part X

One of the most gracious parts of the beautiful letter came near the end, where he frankly told her he required no immediate response. Though a trip over Thanksgiving weekend had been long-planned, he made clear she should feel no pressure to make a decision before, or even after, that day. If she did, and her answer were yes, he would rejoice; but if she felt uncertain yet, he would considered it a joy to wait for the opportunity to gain her heart. He would gladly wait for her response, and encouraged her to use all the time she deemed necessary to seek the Lord in this decision. And if she said no, which he acknowledged an obvious possibility, he promised her to do his best to still treasure her appropriately as a friend and not let her negative answer ruin their time together over the holiday.

But the first part she understood of what God was showing her through this whole experience was that she was not to say "no". The conviction first crept in as a inkling of a feeling, as soon as she read the letter a second time, and planted itself more firmly that evening as she discussed the letter’s contents with her dad. She may very well say, “not yet,” and perhaps she would say, “yes,” but she would not say, "no."

She would continue to seek for her answer, and so began studying the letter, to gain as much of the writer’s character and heart as she possibly could. She sent it to two of her closest friends. Of course she spoke excessively with her sister and mother. She told the oldest of her brothers. She wrote her pastor and his wife.

The responses she received were helpful. Everyone expressed excitement, a few expressed concern, “Do you even like him!?”
She sighed when she heard that response (and she heard it more than once). She didn’t really know. There certainly weren’t fireworks going off. She would never think of her emotions in terms of romantic love. Yet somehow she knew she cared much more deeply for this man than any other person before him, and some days, most days, she thought she could never care for anyone else the same way she did for him.
“Maybe the fireworks will go off later,” Her mom suggested. “Maybe that’s just a cultural thing anyway. Real love isn’t mushy-gushy falling head-over-heels infatuation anyway.”

But feelings had to be involved. She could not say, “Yes, I’ll be happy to court you,” simply because it made sense. So she turned to her journals to reflect on the last 4 months, and consider if her heart was truly drawn to him.

She was shocked at what she found. Sometimes she could have sworn another person had come in after her and added pages and thoughts that were not her own. She was embarrassed by her oblivion when she read over what she had written. How in the world did this man take her by surprise? For four months she had been writing about his obvious affection, and her growing attraction to him!

Even before she boarded the plane for his hometown she wrote, “Though it shocks me to even write it, I feel You are calling me to something more with Daniel Wells. God, What are you trying to teach me in all of this?”

And then again, “I daily am feeling more and more called to a courtship with Daniel Wells.” A real shocker came just after leaving Florida, after leaving him behind with a determination that he should remain only a friend! “I daily think about how wonderful my life would be, could he be my spiritual head, my love, my friend for the rest of my life.”

Though outwardly she expressed ignorance to his subjective feelings, and denied adamantly to all but a select few any interest in the young man, her inward thoughts showed her feelings much more truthfully. There was great conflict. Great uneasiness. Just after having had dinner with her parents she wrote, “I will not be presumptuous, but now, as I look back over the last three and a half months God’s plan seems to make sense to me.”

Before Thanksgiving came she knew what God was leading her to say. And for better or worse she knew the next couple months, Lord Willing, even longer, would be blessed.

                                                                      ... to be continued...

Friday, April 23, 2010

One Very Special Chair

I had been wanted my own adorable metal chair for quite awhile, when one day last fall my sister and I passed a huge pile of trash at the end of someone's driveway. Low and behold, there sat a dirty, musty, tan and orange metal chair. I almost stopped, but lost my courage. It probably had a broken leg anyway. I dropped my sister off at work, and then headed to the office, passing the chair again... I saw it freshly painted in clean white, with a pretty blue seat that would go in the blue and yellow and white kitchen I'd always wanted. It would be the chair my children sat on while they talked to me as I made them chocolate chip cookies, or the "helping chair" for the little cherub who wanted to help mommy stir the pancake batter Saturday morning. I thought all day about that chair, and imagined the certain doom it faced as it got carried to the dump, wasted, instead of reused. And then, for no reason really, except that I know I can be rather ridiculous at times I prayed that God would let the chair stay so I could keep it. I laughed out loud at myself as soon as I whispered that prayer under my breath, but it was done, and I did rather hope my silly little prayer would come true.

Five o'clock finally came and driving back through town to get my sister I passed that same house again, and there in the front yard was the huge pile of trash, and that old, ugly chair. I squealed with delight and shouted a "Thank-you Jesus!" and picked up my sister as fast as I could. Then, I jumped out like a maniac and threw my new found treasure into the back of the suburban, with a stupid smile on my face. We laughed half the way home.

Sadly, the chair then sat in the garage all the rest of fall, and all through winter, untouched. My mom wondered aloud a couple times if anything would ever happen to it. But it's spring now, and the fresh blossoming crab-apple trees, and the abundance of dandelions in the front yard remind me that brown ugly things don't have to stay that way forever. :) 
See the gross seat, and the rusty legs? There were even cobwebs and food stains underneath. **gags** (I wore gloves when I cleaned it)

So, I honestly like to cut corners. I don't always like to do things in the most thorough way. So when I asked my dad for a can of white spray paint I had every intention of just shaking the can, and spraying over the chair, seat and all. Surely it would look better than it did. It was just a dumpster chair anyway. But my dad, the engineer, steered me very far from that route, and handed me a screw driver and two pieces of sandpaper. So, with a sigh I took off the seat and then we set to work sanding down the rough spots, paint chips and gross food stains and rust. Then he told me I had to wait until it was at least 70 degrees outside to spray paint it. So, my 15 minute project turned into a three day ordeal, but I ended up learning a whole lot more, and got a better finished product in the end. Dad even told me it "looks really great." :-D

But when I got to use the heavy-duty staple gun to recover the seat (which I scrubbed thoroughly with hot water and disinfectant) I felt pretty cool.

The stiff linen that I covered it in was a goodwill find from awhile back. The only money I had to put into this little project was a new bottle of spray paint (which I'm keeping for future projects!). All the extra work really paid off. It looks fresh and new.

When I said I was going to take pictures of the chair, Aliza thought that it would be a good opportunity to get some pictures of herself. ;)

She loved it though. My four youngest siblings watch me through the whole process. When it was finally done they all had to try it out. This morning Nolan (7) came downstairs and asked if it would be alright if he used my chair to sit on while he read. He was so happy when I told him yes. I hope lots more happy little kids sit in this chair. :)

And that's the longest story about a little metal chair that you've ever read.

Our Story - Part IX

So he began writing, and thoughtfully penned his to her his desire. He wanted to included everything that was important, did not want to be overly flattering, yet still wished to express his whole heart.

When that letter arrived, November 12th, 2008, it was placed almost immediately in Ashlee’s hand. Her stomach twisted into a knot, and before opening it she took a long, deep breath. Somewhere inside of her heart she knew what it was going to say.
The world around her faded away as her eyes focused on the pages before her. She was nervous, excited, uncertain, anxious, confused—and just wanted to cry and scream and laugh all at the same time. She hardly knew what to think, so she didn’t.

The letter had been handed to her on her way to work. Her mother and sister were dropping her off on this particular day, so she was able to read it in quiet, before beginning her work day. That simple fact turned out to be a heaven-send. All she was able to say when they arrived at work was that Daniel Wells wanted to start a courtship with her. She didn't know if she should smile or laugh or look serious. Her expression as she told them was a mix of all three. Both Mom and Angela smiled, and Ashlee thought there seemed to be very little surprise in their countenances.

She pretended to go right into work, but as soon as their family suburban was out of the driveway she ran into the woods, and walked along the trails, sighing, and praying—just pouring out her heart to the Lord. She then read the letter again, and upon finishing it laughed with joy. She did not know what answer she would give him, but she was filled with the joy of the Lord, knowing that whatever happened, God would lead her.

                                                                       .... to be continued....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Our Story - Part VIII

Before the girls were home from their week-long southern adventure a letter addressed to Lance Willeke was on its way to Medina, Ohio. As clearly, and respectfully as he could, Daniel had penned to Ashlee’s father his admiration for the eldest Willeke daughter. He briefly described the character qualities that he found most impressive. Without apology he admitted a keener interest in her than he had ever experienced for any woman before in his life, and assured him that over the course of the last four months (for his emotions had been sparked during their first conversation, and only had grown and strengthened through their friendship) he had tested the validity of those emotions through prayer and thoughtful consideration. With dignity he requested permission to begin a courtship, in the time Mr. Willeke thought best.

The letter was meant to be a secret, even its envelope was to be unseen, by her eyes especially. But she saw it. She wondered why a letter that thick could be addressed to her father, but in her mind it was far too soon for anything serious to come of their friendship. Her weekend with him had shown her that nothing would come of it—hadn’t it?? Nevertheless she asked him about it, and he cleverly covered the true contents of the letter with a story about a thank you note, expressing gratitude to her father for allowing her and her sister to visit Florida. It was not a lie… He had thanked him for that—but only in the first paragraph.

So while Daniel waited anxiously to receive a response from her father, she nearly forgot about the letter and its unknown contents, until a little over a week later Mrs. Willeke called her daughter at work and said that she and her father were going to take her to dinner, just her. Though it was unsaid, somehow she knew the purpose was to discuss that letter.

Initially, she was excited, planned her dinner, and smiled as her appetite grew and grew. But when five o’clock rolled around she began to get a little nervous. This anxiety only heightened when her dad came to pick her up and his cell phone rang. The voice on the other end was certainly not her mother’s… it was undoubtedly Daniel Wells. Why was he calling? What on earth could he want to talk to her dad about?

Though the two men had talked more than once on the phone before, the sequence of events was more than a little curious. Suddenly, she wasn’t hungry anymore. She thought she might be sick instead.

She composed herself enough to clear her head and push aside the confusing emotions swelling in her heart. After their dinner had arrived, Mr. Willeke, with some prompting from his wife, asked Ashlee very directly what she thought of Daniel Wells. Naturally she asked, “As what?”

And the whole long list followed, “As a man, as a friend, as Christian, as a potential suitor…” Inwardly she gulped at that last description, and forced another spoonful of soup down her throat to keep herself composed.

So began the explanation. She spoke as truthfully as she could, but had not enough assurance of her own feelings to say anything to her parents. She said she liked him. She enjoyed him. He met her "criteria". Some days she liked him best. Other days she wasn’t so sure. They agreed on the important things. His vision, she said, was unmatched by any young man she had ever known.

By the end of the conversation she didn’t think that she had given any impression to make her parents believe she thought anything extra special about this young man. She had even admitted to her parents that she felt completely unable and inadequate to make any life-changing decisions-- like choosing a suitor-- at that moment.

But as the Willeke ladies drove home in one vehicle, and Mr. Willeke followed in his own, Daniel Wells’s prayers were answered—in a much more expedient way than he had ever anticipated. Mr. Willeke returned the phone call that had come earlier that evening, and gave an excited young man the OK to begin his romantic pursuit. Evidently, her father had heard nothing discouraging over dinner.

           .... to be continued....

Monday, April 12, 2010

Note to All Brides:

"In olden times many royal families would seal their important letters with wax and deboss a design that signified who the sender was..." reads a small package of meltable wax I bought at Michael's for $4.99 "Add elegance and style to your invitations... with beautifully designed envelope seals."

What the box doesn't tell you is that we no longer live in olden times where beauty, tradition and the family name are appreciated. Each little seal costs .20 cents extra at the post office... .20 cents that comes in a little black lick-on stamp with a golden eagle and a dark green oval on it. (Bleh).

Sadly... the finishing touch to our invitations had to be omitted. (Could have added ugly black stamps to the front to make the back look special, or saved the money and just let the front stay nice, and the back be plain.)

Weren't they pretty? **sigh** I have learned to live in reality as I plan this wedding.
Sometimes it makes me want to cry. 

So girls. If you're planning a wedding now, or will sometime in the future remember three things about invitations:
  • Square invites cost extra
  • Heavy bows, clips or ribbon cost extra
  • Pretty wax seals cost extra, too

A little bit of everything

Daniel made his last venture to Ohio before our wedding this past weekend. We had two double dates. Looked at some furniture. Worked on our budget. Were in charge of my mom's moving sale Saturday afternoon, and went to my first NBA game on Sunday. Wish we had more pictures than we do. It was a fantastic weekend

Saturday, my avid reader was dragged out of his lawn chair to learn how to ride a dirt bike. I love that his pencil is still behind his ear. <3

Without thinking I told him "It completes your manliness." I got a look when I said that. So I corrected myself. It **enhances** his maniless. I couldn't stop smiling. 

Daniel's Orlando Magic v. the Cleveland Caviliers
The tickets were my Christmas present to him... we've been waiting 4 months for this game, and didn't even get to see Lebron James play!

I liked "Z" though. Mostly because he's from Eastern Europe and I have this thing for Eastern European countries. :) Check this out: He's 7'3, I'm 5'3 He's 260 pounds, and I'm less than that. And I can fit my hand in his palm. Pretty incredible.

54 days til we get hitched!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

One of my dear bridesmaids, Andersen, came and spent an entire week, and then some, with me. The week was dedicated to "wedding stuff," but we did manage to do some other things, and have good girl time.

Our to do list included:

order flowers
buy candles and votivs
buy fake daisies for flower girls
buy invitations, and stamps
buy ribbon for decorations, etc

buy jars for favors
buy wax and seal
buy invitations
assemble invitations
send out invitations
shoes for flower girls
shoes for the bride :)
make practice bouquet
make flower girl baskets
make flower girl halos
make cake cutters
make Just Married sign

make jars for favors 

And except for the flowers still unordered, and the invitations sitting in a box unmailed we got everything done! Though Daniel and I will be engaged for 10 months, our planning time is only 5 months because of my sisters wedding in December. My goal is to be finished with everything by May 1st, and happily, there are only a few things left on the list.

The delicious old-fashioned candy stick favors in wedding colors. They make me happy.

Invitations were quite a project, especially with two helpful little flower girls climbing on our laps to help. But they turned out beautifully.

Would you believe that a flower girl basket at any craft store can cost almost as much as $20 each? We found these sweet little baskets for a $1 each at the Flower Factory, and added the ribbon for an extra $2 a spool. Over all I made 3 baskets for about $8.

Another advantage of a summer wedding: Easter dresses on sale months before the wedding. :) Found these precious things in our baby blue wedding color at Target (of all places!)

She didn't really want to take pictures, but was doing it to get the candy I promised. Pretty white parasol, huh? :)

59 days til the wedding!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Our Story - Part VII

She convinced herself that evening that he was the perfection of what a brother in Christ should be. There was no uneasiness in her heart as they took their seats. They both thoroughly enjoyed the show—which turned out to be a superb adaption of Dorothy’s trip to the land of Oz. Yet, as the hour turned late, and the end of the story, so well-known, was not having as captivating an effect as it might have had, she felt her head, almost like a magnet, wanting to fall upon his shoulder. Surely, he wouldn’t mind? She had herself convinced and unconvinced a dozen times before the show was over. She had at one point even taken a deep breath and almost tilted her head just enough… She stole glances at him, it seemed, every 5 minutes. He didn’t so much as say a single word as soon as the curtains had drawn. He stared straight forward, either totally engrossed in the scene on stage, or his own personal thoughts, or both. Her dress was itching, her neck was sore, her legs were aching—how could he sit sooo still? but something bordering on conviction held her upright, and deep down she knew it was not fair, not even appropriate.

Following the show they strolled along the docks at the Bay, neither with many thoughts to speak.

The next morning was Sunday, and Daniel was filling the pulpit. It was an interesting experience—sitting between his mother and her own sister, watching him preach. She saw her friend in a whole new light—this was his professional side, this was his life’s work. She heard a redemptive story strong enough to come from a Keller sermon, he talked about Martin and Katie Luther, and the message about choosing the better portion (the story of Mary and Martha) convicted her. She liked it, to say the least.

For lunch Daniel’s parents treated them all, and they were joined by one of Daniel’s mentors, his wife and two children. Joshua, their 10 year old son was quite smitten with both Angela and Ashlee, and after stealing Ashlee’s undivided attention for a whole ten minutes, she heard his father whisper to Daniel, “Better watch out, or my son’s gonna get your girl.” She made her best attempts to hide that she had heard the remark, but knew she was blushing, and couldn’t help but wonder what kind of reputation preceded her.

Then goodbye came. With classes Monday morning, Daniel needed to drive back home to Charlotte before the two sisters flew out Tuesday morning for Birmingham to visit a good friend. He hugged them all goodbye, and looked rather pathetic as he got into his car, so she ran forward impulsively and hugged him again.

He thought about that second hug nearly the whole way home. And then that night on the phone his mom questioned him about it too, “I dunno Dan. I think she likes you. What else was that second hug for?”
                                                                   ... to be continued...