Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bridal S-H-O-W-E-R

This past Saturday my wonderful bridesmaids (pictured with me below) threw me a delightful Scrabble-themed bridal shower in Wheaton. So much fun, and such a fitting theme for me! It was incredible to look out on so many dear women from all different phases of my life - some who have been there for all 29 years (my mom, aunts and cousin), a few who have been friends since elementary and middle school, others from high school and college and since, girls from three different seasons of Harvest small groups, a couple friends' moms who have become friends in their own right, and my new sister. How blessed am I!
What makes a shower a Scrabble shower, you ask? (Well, my Aunt Lori asked, at least, so I will answer here for her and anyone else who might be curious!) To start with, in their invitation each guest was given a letter and asked to incorporate that letter into their gift and also come prepared to share a piece of advice starting with that letter. So, for example, I received napkins for N, Oxo utensils for O, wine glasses for G, ivory sheets for I, a cookbook and cake pans for C, etc. I also received some great pieces of marital advice, including:
  • Talk - don't assume he can read your mind. (He can't.)
  • Kiss often.
  • Cuddling is free.
  • Pray together.
  • Be best friends, but keep your girlfriends.
  • Make him do the heavy lifting.
  • Keep Jesus at the center of your marriage.
  • Choose to focus on the 90% you love about him and not the 10% that drives you crazy.
Decorations included wedding-related words spelled out in construction paper Scrabble "tiles" scattered about the walls (see photo below). We played two games, the first an "unscramble the wedding words and phrases" game, and the second bridal Scattergories. The favors were adorable and delicious (well, the edible one, anyway). Bethany made chocolate-covered Oreo pops and wrote a letter (and number) on each to look like a Scrabble tile. Allison made magnets out of real Scrabble tiles (which you can apparently buy in bulk on eBay - who knew?!) with sets made up of words like FUN, SMILE, JOY, LOVE, and I DO. (These are pictured below, though I know it's hard to tell what they are.) Food included cupcakes that spelled out "Congratulations, Suzanne!" (I ate the last of the leftover cupcakes with my lunch today. Yum!)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Suz's Rad Stuff

Oprah has her "Favorite Things," Martha Stewart her "Good Things," and Rachael Ray her "Faves." Though I don't have quite the same audience or consequence, I thought I'd start a new series called "Suz's Rad Stuff." The purpose is simple: to tell friends (and anyone else who might happen upon this blog) about products I've tried that are something special. Freedictionary.com defines rad as "excellent, wonderful." And so shall be the stuff I feature here.

To kick off this series, I'd like to say that Cinnamon Roll Pudding, the newest flavor in Jello's line of sugar-free pudding snacks, is AMAZING. Really, it's that good. The bottom part tastes exactly like a cinnamon roll (except, you know, with the consistency of pudding) while the layer on top tastes just like frosting (but without that pasty sugary texture you sometimes get with real frosting as it hardens.) It's pure delight in a little cup. And for only 60 calories! Look for it at your local grocery store and try it. If it's not on the shelf yet, ask for it. If you like cinnamon rolls, you will love this pudding.

If my endorsement isn't enough incentive, head over to the Jello website where right now you can print a 60 cent coupon to use for your pudding purchase.

P.S. My thanks to Allison for introducing me to cinnamon roll pudding. And for leaving some in the fridge for me while I'm house & puppy sitting this week.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Summer Reading

Somehow, between wedding planning and traveling and keeping up with the affairs of everyday life, I've been able to do more reading this summer than I have in quite a while. In addition, it's become my habit to pass the many minutes of my daily commute by listening to sermons or audiobooks, so I am "reading" that way as well.

Another thing that has not happened in quite some time is that I have read a number of books that I enjoyed so much as to want to recommend them to others. So, here are a couple suggestions for your next trip to the library or bookstore:

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society (Shaffer & Barrows)
Having already finished the novel I brought with me on the trip, I picked this one up in the Denver airport before heading back to Chicago. (In case you were wondering, yes, it pained me to pay full price for a book. My BN employee discount has me spoiled.) It had been on my to-read list for quite some time, ever since one of my co-workers at BN, who's on the panel that reads potential BN Recommends titles, read and raved about it. TGLPPPS is an epistolary novel, a writing style that holds a lot of promise and power when used well (see Ella Minnow Pea). It's also one of those books where you arrive at the end with both a sense of satisfaction at how it all turns out, and sadness that you must now bid the characters farewell and hear from them no more. Read this book. It has history, heart, and humor that will keep you turning the pages and thinking about who you'll recommend it to when you finish.

Peace Like a River (Enger)
This one I listened to during my commute and it held my attention without fail. Peace Like a River tells the story of the Land family - father Jeremiah, brothers Davy (age 17) and Rueben (11), and younger sister Swede. I know I'm not the first to make this comparison, but Peace Like a River reminds me a lot of To Kill a Mockingbird (which happens to be one of my all-time favorites) in several ways - the child narrator (Rueben), the sibling dynamics between Rube and Swede, and the hallowed but defatigable father. Peace Like a River is a sweeping story of family and faith, but what really endears it to me is the way Rueben tells their story. Some of his descriptions and observations of people and situations made me laugh out loud, while others are so unassuming and insightful I wanted to wrap myself up in the words and mull over them for a while. This is a book I will return to down the road.

Life with Puppy

While my friends Allison and Alex are on vacation this week in celebration of their first anniversary, I am playing the role of Auntie Suz (i.e. puppy sitter) to their 5 month old Llasa apso Anjing (which is "dog" in Indonesian, for those of you wondering where the name comes from). Here's the fluffy little menace himself:

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Creating a Haven

I've been living in my apartment for three months now. I am so thankful for the way things worked out, allowing me to live now in the place that will become our home together in just two months (60 days from today!). I am rather enjoying "nesting" -- the ongoing process of settling in, arranging things, and making a series of rooms into a home.

In the last week Travis and I have taken 2 giant strides forward in creating the haven that will be our bedroom. First, the bedding ensemble I've had my eye on went significantly on sale, so I ordered it from Macy's. Isn't it gorgeous? It came by FedEx this morning and I can't wait to get home, spread it out, and admire it. Of course, it will be a few weeks yet until I have a king-size mattress to adorn with it. We are, however, one step closer to that, having purchased a used 6-piece oak bedroom set we found on Craigslist. We're to go pick it up on Saturday.

The Second Half of the Whirlwind

Well, if you've been following along (see previous post) you know it's been a busy month! Trips #3 & 4 followed those recounted below, in quick succession, and I am now coming up to breathe...just a bit. I will be packing my suitcase again this Thursday, but this time it's for a week spent across town, where I will be house & puppy-sitting for friends while they are on vacation.

Trip #3 was up to Mequon, WI for the wedding of my cousin Molly to her groom, Andy. Here's my family with the newlyweds at the reception:
Trip #4 was to Michigan this past weekend. We drove up Friday night, enjoyed a leisurely Saturday morning, and then Travis and I split up, he for a bachelor party (of sorts) with his friends and me for an afternoon and evening with his friends' wives (who I am happy to count as my friends as well) and their gaggle of kiddos. Sunday afternoon brought my first bridal shower (the registry kind, at least) which was hosted by my new sister, mother, and aunts-in-law, who possess some serious hospitality and culinary skills. The gorgeous spread of food included two cakes (one strawberry, one lemon), a cheesecake (Aunt Carolyn's specialty), ganache-filled brownie bites, cream puffs, chocolate-covered strawberries, an expansive fruit tray, and two tasty dips--spinach and artichoke. I could further describe these scrumptious delights (the recollection alone has me drooling), but I suppose I will just let you survey the feast for yourself:
The shower was so much fun! After allowing guests to arrive and mill around a bit, Jamie welcomed everyone and then Travis (who was there for the first part of the shower) and I shared the story of how we met and how he proposed. To some it was new, to others a story that has been heard (or read) a few times already, but it was well received by all and Travis was praised (quite deservedly) for his creativity and thoughtfulness. After this we played a game where I had to answer a series of questions about Travis. I was glad for each query I was able to answer correctly, but it was to the guests' advantage each time I got one wrong, for then I drew the name of a person who would win a prize. After this everyone was invited to partake of the refreshments, which were heartily appreciated by all. Then came the opening of gifts. So many gifts! It felt like four or fives Christmases all at once. And after this, more mingling and chatting with family and friends and grazing on sweets. I could not have asked for (or even imagined!) a nicer shower. Thank you to my new family and friends in Michigan!