May 20, 2012 Married
Kate + Phillip
are married!

Welcome!  This page is meant to be a sort of blog where I (Kate) keep interested parties updated on all wedding-planning-related activities.  Whenever we update any information on the site, I'll post a quick note here, so it'll be one-stop-shopping for updated hotel, travel, and logistical information as well as a glimpse into the goings-on of wedding planning (if you're into that kind of thing).  Yay!

6.25.2012: we got blogged!

Our professional photos are done!  You can see them here.  The password is kpmariner.  Also, we got blogged!  Here, here, and here!  Great fun!

In two days I'm leaving for New Hampshire, where I will be working 14-16 hour days at a residential treatment program for kids with emotional and behavioral difficulties and won't have a lot of access to Internet or the outside world in general.  So no more updates until after August 23. :(  It's for the children. 

It's been swell writing for you all...36 days married and loving it.

see you in august,


6.20.2012: mini-moon.

This is probably one of the last big posts on this website for me :(  Fear not!  You can read more about my food-related exploits over at my new food blog sweetness + light (  There are much more detailed posts about the mini-moon food over there, if you're into that kind of thing.  Anyways...

The morning after the wedding, Phil and I had another lovely breakfast in our room at Hotel Les Mars, complete with celebratory bubbly.

Then we packed up our things and headed for Calistoga, where we would spend the next couple days in newly-wedded bliss before hopping a red eye to Boston for Matt's graduation.  Our first indulgence was a mudslide for two at the spa at Solage Calistoga.  It was divine and much-needed.  We totally recommend it.  You see, Calistoga is known for its volcanic ash and geothermal springs, both of which supposedly have incredible healing properties.  After our mud bath treatment, we had lunch and relaxed by Solage's geothermal pool.  I write more about lunch here.

What a cutie.  We nibbled, took a dip in the pool, and a nap in the shade.  That night, we had dinner in downtown Calistoga.  It was a perfect post-wedding day of relaxation.

The next day we woke up at 4:45am to go hot air ballooning!  It was so cool, and definitely worth the early wake-up-call.  It was too foggy in Napa, so we flew a little further east, over mainly agricultural land.

We traveled in a little flock of about four or five balloons.  Lift off was so smooth and peaceful, you would hardly even know you weren't on the ground anymore.  The baskets were big, I think ours had about 20 people in it.  It was remarkably clear and calm in the air that day, not really windy at all.  Whenever the pilot turns on the fire (about every 10 minutes or so depending on the course), there is a loud kind of whirring noise, and it gets very hot.  We were in a corner not quite a protected from the heat as the other compartments.  Other than the fire, the ride was smooth and calm.  Landing is a little rough.  I think we came in a little hot.  You hit the ground and the balloon bounces, so you go airborne again, and then hit the ground again.  We were was fun, definitely woke us up (by the time we landed I think it was only like 8am).  One of the other balloons landed and went up on the edge of the basket.  We watched as the whole thing slowly tipped over onto its side.  Again, no one got hurt or anything, but I guess you kind of have to be ready for anything when landing in one of these things.  The experience was amazing though, and we both want to go again.  We took a ton of video footage while we were in the air, and we'll post some of that on the Shutterfly site soon.

After we landed, vans took everyone to a hotel for champagne brunch, which was lovely.  We stuffed ourselves and then went back to our hotel and slept most of the day until it was time to get up and get ready to go to The French Laundry.  I'll just say here that dinner was AMAZING.  To read more about it (and to see photos of what we ate), go here.

After dinner, we wandered down the road, past Bouchon, toward the Vintage Inn, another place we had considered having the wedding.  Yountville is magical at night, like a sleepy little village.  I picked some lavender and we drove back to Calistoga, where we took a dip in the hot tub before drifting off to sleep.  Dinner lasted about three glorious hours.

The next day was our last in Calistoga.  We spent the morning wandering around the shops downtown, then picked up some sandwiches and headed off on our way.  We stopped at Calistoga's Old Faithful Geyser on our way out of town, and had lunch there.  It probably eruped ten time while we were there.  It was a beautiful day for a picnic.

Don't have to tell us twice.

After the geyser, we made a quick stop at the Petrified Forest, before heading back toward Sonoma and on to SFO.

After our stroll through the forest, we got back on the road.  We stopped in Cotati to see Aunt Penny and Uncle Sarto, drop off my dress, and take a nap.  Then we left to catch our red-eye flight to Boston for Matt's graduation from Harvard Business School.  Phil found some good reading material in the airport.

The graduation was lovely.  A little warm...but lovely.  Remarks were made during the ceremony about ending each day with "three thank yous" and striving to live a life of generosity, gratitude, and grace.  Words to live by, with special meaning for those of us embarking on a new life together.  Congratulations Matt!

After a whopping 24 hours in Boston, we were back in Chicago...exhausted, married, and staring down a long weekend.  We spent it watching movies, eating good food, and unwrapping presents.  And eating pie from Hoosier Mama's...lots of pie. 

A perfect ending to a perfect week.  I'm not sure if this even qualifies as a mini-moon.  It may not have been six days and seven nights or more in a tropical locale, but it was full and rich and made us oh-so-happy.

until next time,


6.19.2012: behind the scenes :)

This post already feels a little like a crazy tabloid spread.  Anyway, I've finally uploaded the 500+ photos that we took with our new digital camera over the course of the wedding week.  Here are a smattering of the best ones...from bachelorette to day-of (I'll do a separate post for our mini-moon)...

The tamer shots from the bachelorette ;) (really though, the bachelorette was much more classy than trashy...thank you Jordi)

My first time in a limo, if you couldn't tell by the look of excitement on my face...

By far, my favorite photo of the night...Mack rocks that jumpsuit!

The next morning was rehearsal...

It's bad luck for the bride to participate in the rehearsal.  Luckily, we had access to a more-than-suitable stand-in.  Aaron's 'bouquet' is my Southern Belle hat, made from the ribbons left over from the gifts at the Virginia shower (see 1.28.2012 below).

After the rehearsal, the girls and I headed back to Aunt Penny's to make bouquets and relax.  Phil came too...but would have none of the bouqet-making :)

I sit on everyone's laps.

My mom's amazing home-made bridal emergency kit, complete with silver sequins.

Day-of coordinator of the year!

That night was the rehearsal dinner at Barndiva in Healdsburg.  Our pro photographer, Emily was on hand, so we didn't take very many pictures ourselves.  Emily's should be ready very soon :)

Meant to take a photo of the scallops as well, but I forgot, and ate them instead.


Snipping up the news of the day...

Here we go!

It's official!  Looking back at all these photos makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Really.  So much love and warmth that weekend <3  Thank you so much to everyone who contributed big and small, and was there in person or in spirit to share in our joy!

photos are pretty,


6.13.2012: orphaned gift - UPDATE (6.14.2012)...mystery solved!!

Hey mom sent a package with some gifts collected at the reception, and one somehow got detached from its card.  Here's the lonely little guy:

Was it yours?  Does that wrap job look familiar?  Has a little bird been singing in your ear that they have yet to receive a thank you?  Inside was a lovely Michael Aram scented candle.  If you know who gifted this, please email me, stat!

here's hopin',


6.11.2012: wordless wedding.

I still have one final paper I should be writing right now.  But I wanted to share a few of my favorite amateur snap shots from the day, so I thought I'd do somewhat of a wordless wedding post, a la A Practical Wedding.  Thank you to all who contributed, and if you have photos I have yet to see, please email them!

that's all folks,


6.6.2012: aftermath.

We're married!!  The wedding was beyond our wildest dreams...really the whole weekend was.  It's been a bit hectic here, settling back into a rhythm and catching up from being gone.  I'm leaving for New Hampshire for eight weeks on 27th, but I wanted to get a couple posts in before that (I won't have much in the way of Internet access until I get back on August 23rd).  We won't have professional photos or video back until mid-summer, but our photographer, Emily, did leak this one precious shot on Facebook to tide us over:

Aren't the bridesmaids just lovely?  I bet no one would notice, but some gathering stitches on the right sleeve of my dress have fallen out in this picture.  I suspect it's that way in all the portraits and half of the other photos from the night.  Mom stitched me up around 9pm, but I think the dress still looks pretty good :)  I gotta run for now, but I have a bunch of favorite shots trolled from Facebook and various online albums, so I'll be posting those very very soon!

back in a bit,


5.15.2012: it's getting real

It's 10:50pm.  We're leaving tomorrow...yes, we're still packing.  It's actually going pretty smooth considering.  Things are fitting.  We're feeling fairly organized amid mild chaos.  Someone is coming to clean the house tomorrow morning...a little wedding gift to ourselves, so we don't come home to a disaster.

Crafternoon was a smashing success...

Team Craft: Kara, Josine, Moi, Valerie, Jen, and Nicole.  Invaluable little helpers! :)

We seem to consume a lot of cheese whenever we get too, but for some reason there are no pictures of that...

Kara brought cupcakes and Valerie made oreo truffles...fuel for creativity!

Escort cards for all!  These were truly a collective effort. :)  A million thanks, ladies!

In other news...Zak and Lea stopped through on their drive to California (from Boston...yeah roadtrip!) and for some reason I have zero pictures of the two of them, but instead a shot of their sweetie pie pooch Gemma.

Pardon the demon eyes...she really is an angel.  Phil and I really like having a critter around the house.  In September we may add a kitty to our little family. :)  Zak and Lea just stayed for the night and then went on their merry way.  We had brunch and talked through the ceremony...did a dry run, which eased our worries about flow and time, and made it all seem VERY real.  In a good way.  We're SO glad they're officiating...there's something so perfect about it all...very meant-to-be.  After they left, I had a make-up trial with Joy at Clinique.  I'm doing my own make-up for the wedding, so I stopped in for some recommendations.  Here's a teaser...I think I'll do a few things a little differently on the day, but she definitely got me off to a good start, and armed me with some great supplies.

So dress and suit are bagged.  Everything is packed but my toothbrush.  Crafting is all but done.  Rings are in my purse.  Our planner, Elizabeth, is taking over.  Phil is traipsing in and out of my office modeling rehearsal dinner outfits.  Sleep is calling.  Tummy is grumbling.  Vows are (almost) written.  Let's do this.

My next post will be written as Kate Mariner.  Until then...

see you in cali,



5.11.2012: sleep is for the weak.

It's 4:53am.  Do you know where your bride-to-be is?  I had a raging tension headache all day, finally took some Excedrin, which has a healthy dose of caffeine in it.  And I picked up my dress today (yesterday, I guess).  Too much excitement.  My seamstress is a Saint...she basically re-made the dress for me.  My grad school girls are coming over tomorrow for crafternoon part deux, and I'm going to take lots of pictures.  Phil and I just got a new digital camera to document the wedding week...mine was approaching its sixth birthday, so we thought it was time for an upgrade.  In four hours I have to be at the adoption clinic, where I'll see kids non-stop until about noon or 1:00.  Then I have a meeting with a professor at 2:00, for which I'm less than prepared, and crafternoon is at 4ish.  Then Zak and Lea are coming in for the night!  They're driving cross-country and stopping through Chicago on their way to California.  It's awesome because we'll get a chance to go over the ceremony in person.  I have a make-up consultation at Macys tomorrow (Saturday), then Sunday we're going to the UChicago student circus to watch one of my mentees perform AERIAL SILKS.  I know...wild!  Monday is meetings and class...Tuesday is my last day with my high school kids :(  Then Wednesday we're leaving for Cali! of crafternoon to come soon...

Mini-moon teaser:

The Thursday after the wedding, Phil's brother Matt is graduating from Harvard Business School...gooooooo Matt!  We're spending a few blissful days after the wedding in Napa, then hopping a red-eye to Boston Wednesday night.  Our time will be taken up with a mud bath, hot air ballooning, and dinner at The French Laundry.  We're pretty darn excited.  And we get to show off our new finger bling ;)  There will definitely be a few pics posted...and maybe even a video of the pre-dawn balloon-inflating...stay tuned.

sweet dreams...heck, any dreams,


4.20.2012: one month to go!!!


RSVPs are all in!  Headcount has been submitted for the cake (so if you haven't responded...sorry, you can't have any cake).  I just mailed her a paint chip from Home Depot, so she can get the frosting that most perfect shade of pink.  Zak and Lea have drafted the most beautiful ceremony ever.  Groomsmen have their suits, and Phil has his too.  Bridesmaids have their dresses.  Wine, food, and cake have been taste tested.  Rings are safe in our possession. 

My final dress fitting is next Saturday, exactly four months from the date of my first fitting.  Mom is flying in!  We're going to have tea and brunch and a silly good time.  On May 11th my SSA and Anthro girls here in Chicago are throwing me a Crafternoon Party and we're going to finish up all the little crafting projects for the wedding.  I got a dress for the Bachelorette.  All is falling into place as it should be.  And speaking of stars aligning...

Right around the end of cocktail hour, there is going to be a PARTIAL SOLAR ECLIPSE!  And weather permitting, we will be able to see it.  Don't worry, Phil and I will provide protective eyewear for everyone.  It seems fitting that we met under the full moon and will be married under an eclipse.  Can't really get any better than that.


get excited,


4.8.2012: phil + kate just ate.

This is my second time writing this update because the Internet crashed in the middle of the last one.  Ugh.  Anyways, this week has been a marathon!  Last Friday Phil and I left for Sonoma for the final wedding planning visit before the big day.  My parents drove down and we all stayed with Aunt Penny and Uncle Sarto in Cotati.  My mom was a rockstar and brought a van-full of fruits and veggies to help keep me from falling off the wedding dress wagon. 

On Saturday, we had our catering tasting with Rob and Donna at Pacific Connection in Santa Rosa.  It was amazing!  So much fun!  My parents came along and we tasted six or seven appetizers, three entrees, two salads, and an array of yummy accompaniments.  Everything was so delicious it was hard to choose!  We meant to take pictures (everything was so beautiful) but we sort of got caught up in the sorry.  You'll have to wait til the day to see what we chose, but here are some flavor teasers you can expect to taste on 5/20: watermelon + balsamic, seabass + almonds, chipotle + avocado, roasted grapes + goat cheese.  Mouth watering yet? :)

After our tasting, we went back to Cotati to digest for a little bit before our final cake tasting with Jenna at Da Bombe Cake Company in Sebastopol.  Again, forgot to take pictures...sorry.  The cake will be four tiers and devoid of fondant...but I'll leave the rest a surprise...there will be a little something sweet for everyone.  Stuffed silly, we left Da Bombe Cakes and headed up to Healdsburg to meet with Phil's dad, Jonathan, at Barndiva.  Can you believe he hadn't been to wine country since 1977??  We relaxed at the bar and Phil and I got elderflower and black current Italian sodas...yum.

We walked around the square in Healdsburg and checked out Hotel Healdsburg, where some of the guests will be staying...they have a huge lobby bar that will make a nice meeting place for those interested.  Then it started to rain so went back to Cotati...exhausted and still stuffed, Phil and I fell asleep on the couch.

On Sunday Mom and Dad drove back to Oregon, and I did homework most of the day.  I would not recommend working, going to school, and planning a wedding all at the same time.  Monday was another busy day...we went up to Trentadue for our walk-through, and stopped at the Sonoma County Clerk's office on the way to pick up our marriage license!  That was a random thing we decided to do at the last minute just to get it out of the way, but not gonna lie, it was the most exciting part of the trip :)  At Trentadue, we met with Rob again, Elizabeth (our day-of coordinator), and Alyssa (Trentadue's event manager).  We sat above the tasting room and went over the schedule for the day and the logistics and floor plans.  It's really coming together!  When that meeting was done, Rob left, and Elizabeth, Phil, and I tasted through every one of Trentadue's 16 wines with the assistance of Alyssa.  The champagne is not pictured below because we each polished off a glass when we first arrived :)

Phil felt bad about not taking many pictures before, so he snapped lots of shots of the wines.  We chose two whites (in addition to the sparkling):

And two reds:

And also, three dessert wines:


We also bought a bottle of the Angelica for our wine ceremony :)  It's fantastic...

After the walk-through and tasting, we wandered around the property for a little while with Elizabeth, and then left for Petaluma for our final meeting of the trip: Bryce at Vanda Floral.  It was a quick meeting...I just took some pictures ripped out of Martha Stewart for him to look at, and dropped off some ribbon from BHLDN for him to use on my bouquet.  The bridesmaids and I are making the bridesmaids' bouquets on Saturday, Elizabeth is assembling simple centerpieces on Sunday, and Bryce is expertly handling the rest.  I think it will be birchy, and soft, and springy, and romantic, and lovely.  That night Sarto and Phyliss took us to dinner at Stark's Steakhouse in Santa Rosa...delish. I'm not sure what the deal is with artisanal sodas in wine country...but Phil got a cucumber vanilla soda that was to die for, and I got a rosemary honey spritzer that was equally yummy.

Tuesday morning we left Cotati for SFO.  I flew back to Chicago...back to the grind, and Phil left for South Florida for the Marlins home opener in the new stadium and to spend some time with family.  He'll be home tonight.  The RSVP date came and went while we were away, so I'm finishing up the guest list over the next couple of weeks.  I had a phone consultation with our harpist, Laura, last night, and we decided on the music for the processionals, recessional, and cocktail hour.  She even played a little bit for me on the phone...I think it will be lovely.  Next on the docket is craft projects.  I need to make table signs, escort cards, a seating chart, and the ceremony script/book for Zak and Lea.  Busy busy.  May have to rope my SSA girls in for another crafternoon.  Oh, and Mom is coming for my final dress fitting on April 28th!  With any luck, my poor seamstress will have to take it in one more time... ;)  See you in 42 days!

happy spring,


3.18.2012: american airlines and avis discounts!

Check out the Stay + Play page for details...

hope this helps,


3.16.2012:  crafternoon delight

The other day my SSA girls Jen and Kara came over for an impromtu crafternoon (I know, right? I had no idea that was even a thing, but it's totally genius).  We sipped wine, nibbled on cheese, made 150 tiny 3D flowers, and punched an eyelet edge onto 150 of the escort cards.  Sound like gibberish?  Here's a pic:

Cute right?

More updates... My maid of honor, Jordi was in town last weekend, and we had a great time.  She flew in specifically for my penultimate dress fitting, which went well.  The thing fits like a glove.  Jordi learned how to do my 18 point bustle too; she's a rockstar.  Mom's coming out at the end of April for my final final fitting :)  Jordi and I also went to BHLDN to many pretty things!  There are only two stores open, the latest one opened in Chicago a couple weeks ago.  This late in the game I didn't need too much, but I did pick up a bag of the prettiest confetti on the planet:

Look out for it on the cake table :)  Our wedding bands have been ordered, and Phil will pick them up when he's in Florida at the beginning of April (for the Marlins' home opener in the new stadium of course).  Zak and Lea are hard at work on writing the text of the ceremony, and Phil and I are getting ready to pen our vows.

Some stats courtesy of the wedding planning software:

We have received exactly 1/3 of the RSVPs...

As of now, 62 people are attending, and 23 have sent their regrets...

Of those attending, 29% are local, and 71% are from out of town...

Fun!  It's a balmy 77* in Chicago this week, bizarre.  For the second week in a row, we haven't had any patients in the adoption clinic, so I've gotten to sleep in, which has been glorious.  Oh, and it's Spring Break for me...yay! 



3.14.2012:  a note about rsvps.

As the RSVPs start to roll in and the deadline approaches, I just want to clarify a couple things about the response process:

1. The Number of Guests _____ of _____ is referring to the people addressed on the envelope, not the number of extra guests one is allowed to bring.

2. The Name(s) line is super important because I will use what is written to create everyone's super cute escort cards.

3. Please avoid doing this if you can:

Oh, and return addresses are helpful, especially in the case of anonymous responders. :)

Hope this clears everything up.  Deadline is April 1st!  So excited to see everyone who has already responded that they will be in attendance!

many thanks,

kate + phillip

3.8.2012:  just because...

Informal this picture cute or disgusting?  I am so not even grossed out.

I have a feeling this is how Phil and I are going to feel after our upcoming trip to California at the end of the month.  This is our last planning trip (thank goodness) and we'll be doing a catering tasting, venue walk-through, wine tasting, cake tasting, and meeting with the florist.  The poor seamstress keeps having to let my dress out. :/

Oh!  And happy happy birthday to bridesmaid extraordinaire, Leanna!!!

eat some pastries,


3.5.2012:  airports!

It has been brought to my attention that there isn't any information on the website about airports!  If you have yet to receive your invitiation (airport info is on the back), here's a tease:

The closest airport is Santa Rosa (STS), but it is very small and has very few flights.  Still worth a shot.

Many more of you will fly into either San Francisco (SFO) or Oakland (OAK), both about 90 minutes to 2 hours from Healdsburg and Geyserville.  For rental car deals, check out the Stay + Play page.


happy flying,



3.1.2012:  happy march :)

We got our first RSVP on Tuesday!  It was from Sylvia and Devon!!

Oh!  And our engagement announcement finally showed up in the News Review (Douglas County, Oregon)!  It was printed in the New Year's Day issue :)



2.24.2012:  they're really out!

All but four of the wedding invitations have been sent on their merry way by the postal service.  The last four are on my desk and I'm leaving in 30 minutes to drop them in a mailbox downtown.  Feels really good.  Drop us a note when you receive yours...RSVP date is 4.1.2012!



2.20.2012:  three months to go...and invitations are out!

No they're not.  Took a day off from school today to catch up.  Got everything in order.  My hands are literally bruised from embossing envelopes.  Drove to the post office.  It's closed.  Happy President's Day.  Again, mired in stage 4, see below.

2.16.2012:  six, stages of wedding planning

For today's post I feel compelled to share a little something I discovered over at ShinyPrettyBits.

The progression of states are:

1. Euphoria – “Squeee”

Usually marked by extreme moments of giddiness and joy. People may remark that you spend inordinate amounts of time staring off into space, smiling like an idiot. Some may feel the need to run around in circles and shout things like WOOOO! at the top of their lungs. Minor annoyances like, dirty socks on the counter or leaving of the toilet seat up, fade under the overwhelming rosy glow of rightness. You may believe you can fly.

2. Discovery – “Ooooh, PRETTY”

Usually coincides with the purchase of wedding magazines or finding of Style Me Pretty. Marked by an obsessive attention to details. Feelings of grandeaur may cause the individual to believe themselves capable of feats they otherwise would never attempt, such as: crafting, cooking a meal to feed 100+ people, making bouquets. You can usually determine if a person is in this stage by their use of language, particularly words like: chiavari, bunting flags, letterpress, and STD.

It is not uncommon for this stage to precede the first.

3. Panic - “How the h*ll”

Left with the reality of putting plans into action, the individual may be overwhelmed with the amount of things to do. Cycles of hyperactive crafting/list making followed by sleeplessness is not uncommon. Individuals may be tempted to run off and elope. Persons may find themselves short tempered with their partners. This stage often coincides with the first talk of budgets.

4. Outrage/Depression – “What the EFF”, “EFF me”

Marked by feelings of bitterness and frustration. It is not uncommon for people in this stage to feel as though they are failing in some way. This causes the individual to swing between feeling angry over all the expectations being placed on them and despondent over their inability to live up. Persons may find themselves resenting others with friends and family who: own a barn, DJ, have the enviable ability to craft masterpieces out of bits of random fabric and paper.

5. Rebellion – “EFF it”

Faced with the need to simplify and regain a sense of control, the individual may find themselves ruthlessly slashing things from the wedding. Marked by feelings of apathy and exhaustion. Persons may find themselves telling over zealous friends and family where to stick their “helpful suggetions”. Rebellion can give the individual a false sense of Zen, resulting in a regression to stage 4. It is not uncommon to mock The Knot during this phase.

6. Zen - “It is what it is”

Having progressed through the other 5 stages, the individual is left with a feeling of having done all they could. Calmness sets in. The individual accepts that things will go wrong, but understands that it won’t take away from the beauty of the day.

This stage is often followed by the drinking of copious amounts of alcohol and the shaking of one’s bottom.

I'm clearly mired somewhere between stages 4 and 5, which I guess makes sense considering the wedding is 3 months and 4 days away.  The sad part is that stage 5 often causes a regression to state 4.  It's a never-ending vicious cycle!  The invitation envelopes are freshly calligraphed and sitting on Phil's desk waiting to be embossed and stuffed.  We've found a whopping 3 mistakes on our invitations, so we're in the process of getting some of them reprinted.  Hopefully a batch will go out this weekend, with the rest following shortly thereafter.  I have a dress fitting this Saturday.  I've been under a lot of stress lately between school and the wedding, so I've been laying into a bag of Toll House chocolate chips pretty hard this week.  On Sunday Phil confiscated a bag of Ghirardelli milk chocolate morsels that I had been devouring, and I kid you not, it was like an intervention.  I got SO upset.  I almost cried.  He hid them, and I still don't know where they are.  I guess its for the best, since my dress has a zipper in the back and not a corset. 

see you on the other side,


1.28.2012:  updates and shower pictures!

A couple updates: I've added a link to Sonoma County's vacation rental listings on the Stay + Play page, as well as a link to Rental Car Momma, a really good deal site for renting cars from the major rental companies (Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, etc.)  Our experience has been that Budget is usually the best value.

Also...I've recently received a bunch of pictures from the Virginia shower from Aunt Debbi.  Consequently, she is not in any of the following photos :(

The cutest cake in the history of cake.

Terre and Chip hard at work preparing the feast :)

That smile is a response to all the scallops on my plate.

The beautiful Southern belle bridal hat made by Terre.

Angie being silly :)


Terre decorating the bridal chair...

Pretty girl with a pretty new ring.

If anyone else has more photos, please send them along!



1.18.2012:  wintertime showers bring may flowers

First post of 2012, and what a delightful new year it has been!  Phil and I just got back from a trip to Virginia over the long weekend.  The ladies on his father's side of the family threw me a beautiful bridal shower at his grandmother's house.  Again, I'll post pictures as soon as I get some (hint, hint, ladies <3 ).  Phil's cousin Chip 'catered' the event, and the food was SO good.  Picture pasta with shrimp and scallops, brisket, collards and cabbage, Phil's grandmother Ruth's a-mah-zing homemade rolls, and a gorgeous pink cake complete with a giant pink fondant bow.  And this pink punch that looked like lemonade but tasted like sunshine.  I felt so loved and spoiled.  And so did my tummy.  We spent the weekend with Ruth, so there was no shortage of good food.  Phil's oldest brother Brian and his new fiance(!) Theresa also flew in as a surprise.  The shower was so much fun.  We played games (lots of laughing and shrieking), got prizes (fun fun), and of course there were presents :)  Some of them came home with us, but Phil and I will be picking up the rest from UPS this week.  My favorite part of the shower was when Phil's cousin Terre made me a 'hat' out of a plate and all the left-over ribbons from the gifts, and everyone took pictures while she crouched behind me, holding it so it wouldn't slide off my head.  We'll take the ribbons and make them into a bouquet for the 'bride' to carry during the wedding rehearsal.  You learn so many interesting traditions when you get's unreal.

Zak and Lea joined us in Virginia too, which was really cool because we finally all got to sit town and talk business about the ceremony.  Writing a ceremony from scratch is H-A-R-D, so there was a lot to talk about.  We're super happy with what we've come up with so far.  You'll laugh.  You'll cry.  You'll put your cell phone on 'silent mode.'  It will be magical.  Maybe I'll finally stop having these obnoxious dreams about forgetting to write my vows.  Our invitations arrived the night before we left for Virginia, and I'll say right now, in my Bride-zilla way, that the foil hummingbird on the front was supposed to be a much lighter shade of pink.  There, I said it.  Now you'll know.  But other than that they look amazing.  We can't wait to get them out to everyone.

I had my first gown fitting on December 28th, and it was really cool.  The seamstress, Carmen, is super sweet.  And I didn't get a speeding ticket.  We forgot to do the bustle, so I'll have two more fittings: one in March and one more after that.  I have a veil/headpiece appointment coming up at the end of this month, so I'm assuming I'll be in the dress for that one too.  Phil and I just got our plane tickets for our final planning visit to Cali in March/April.  We'll do the final walk-through at the venue, taste the food (and the wine), meet with the florist, taste some more cake, and meet our harpist.  I can't believe how fast the last 10 months have zoomed by.  May is just around the corner...



OMG...I almost forgot!  I never wrote about the rest of winter break!  My bridesmaid Bridie's mom Angela and Aunt Breda threw Phil and I the sweetest engagement party back in December.  The invitation said, "A celebration of the wedding date, an engagement party for Phil and Kate."  How cute is that?  Bridie's sister-in-law Nong (she's from Thailand...just opened a restaurant called Full Moon Thai...definitely stop by if you're in Portland) made her incredible curry (I'm sensing a trend here involving parties and really awesome food).  And my Aunt Susanna (not actually related, but very much aunt-like...I'm actually not related to most people in my family) made a super gorgeous and uber-delicious carrot cake.  She had a really pretty white cakestand with these spot-on blush pink taper candles (FYI: Chip was also spot-on with the color of the fondant on the Virginia cake...although I hear this was mostly Vicki's doing, haha).  Phil and I even ceremoniously cut the first piece, and we all celebrated into the night.  Phil's and my first Christmas together was really sweet.  I introduced him to the joy (and logic) of openning all the presents the night of December 24th. :)

12.15.2011:  as promised...

A bridal shower photo montage!  Many thanks to Mildred and her iPad for the snapshots!




12.14.2011:  season's greetings from sonoma

Today I am officially off speeding-ticket probation.  If this statement concerns or confuses you, please refer to post 7.30.2011 below.  Long story-short, I contested and lost, and my court date was 90 days ago yesterday.

I flew into Cali on Saturday, and have since been thriving on a steady diet of crusty bread, butter, cheese, chocolate, dessert wine, and naps.  And afternoon tea.  On Sunday, Jordi threw the most adorable bridal shower at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in San Francisco (a-mah-zing scones and tea sandwiches, btw), and Mom flew in to surprise me!  I had thought that I wouldn’t see her until this coming Friday when I fly to Oregon for Christmas.  It was so nice to see all my Bay Area ladies in one place, and Mildred even flew in from Florida!  It was fun driving around Noe Valley in search of this tea room with Mom and Aunt Penny.  I always forget how hilly and quirky SF is.  No joke, we passed a place called “Beer, Bourbon, and Hummus.”  Hopefully there will be pictures from the shower to post soon.  We played a super cute little Newlyweds-esque game, for which Jordi enlisted Phil’s help.  Everyone was surprised (and maybe a little creeped out) by how well Phil and I actually do know each other :)  The following day, we took Mom back to SFO, and went on what seemed like an endless hunt for Mexican food.

Yesterday I met with Elizabeth, our day-of-coordinator (less intense than your traditional full-on wedding planner), and we went over all the vendor contracts and talked about seating arrangements, and the Wedding Industrial Complex, all over warm bowls of gnocchi and linguini and a glass of wine.  More than anything, we talked about the challenges of being over 5’10 and finding pants and shirts and shoes that fit, and the pragmatics of owning lots of neutral wardrobe pieces and adding pops of color with accessories.  A girl after my own heart.  I hit traffic on the way back to Cotati and conked out on the couch shortly after skipping through the front door.  In other wedding news, the invitation design is finally done, and hopefully the real thing will be arriving on our doorstep in Chicago by early January.  We will then pass them along to you lovely people in late February or early March.  Don’t forget to RSVP!

Today Aunt Penny and I toddled around Corte Madera looking for some registry treats (and eating more chocolate).  I’m leaving for Oregon early on Friday, and Phil will join me there on the 22nd.  It will be the first time we’ve spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together, so that’s exciting!  I’ll do some baking with Mom and help put up the Christmas tree, and we fly back to Chi-town on the 27th.  First dress-fitting on the 28th and then getting all my ducks in a row for school to start on January 2nd.  There is another shower in Virginia in January with Phil’s dad’s side of the family.  Zak and Lea are flying down from Boston, which is awesome, because we’ll get to really work out some of the gritty details of the ceremony in person.  May is fast approaching…

wishing you peace, love, + dessert wine in 2012,


11.28.2011:  happy cyber monday :)

I totally woke up at 5am today and bought a bunch of Martha Stewart craft supplies from at 50% off.  Totally.  I wasn't up that early just for the shopping.  I had class on campus at 9am, and I wasn't sure whether or not I had a physical therapy appointment at 7:00am.  It turned out that I didn't.  But I went anyway.

I was also up early because I was too exhausted last night to get any of my things ready for class/PT before bed.  Phil and I just returned from a wonderfully long weekend in Florida for Thanksgiving.  We flew down on Tuesday night and came back late Sunday.  It was sooo nice to get away from the grind and the Chicago cold (we had flurries this morning).  Florida was gorgeous, in the 70s all weekend, and only a little bit of rain. 

We met with the jeweler who designed my engagement ring to get it re-sized (it was a smidge too big) and to talk about wedding bands.  We both decided on designs that we really love, and Phil will pick them up when he's in Florida again for the Marlins opener in April.  Can't wait to bless and exchange them in May!  We also spent a lot of time with Phil's mother, Mildred, for the holiday, and she took us shopping for my first Black Friday.  I scored wedding shoes (sweet little ivory crochet flats) and a pretty pink dress to wear to the December bridal shower.  We ate a ton everyday the whole time we were gone.  Whenever we're in south Florida I always fill up on shellfish and tropical fruit (both of which are sorely lacking in Chicago, especially in the winter).  We stayed in Fort Lauderdale through Friday and joined Mildred in Port St. Lucie for dinner Saturday night.  We spent the night with her and lounged by the pool with tropical cocktails the next morning before driving back down to Fort Lauderdale to fly out Sunday.  It was a full, but very nice, mini-vacay for sure.

When Phil and I got home, our mailbox was full.  Most of the mail was crap (a couple coupons from Macys though...more shopping to be done!), but there was one envelope addressed to both of us from Graton, California.  I opened it up, and it was a letter from our harpist, and a CD of her music!  How delightful :)  This week we'll submit feedback from our second round of invitation proofs.  We're still working out the design and wording, and hopefully we'll be Skyping with Zak and Lea soon about the ceremony.

sending sunshine and good vibes,


11.20.2011:  six months to go!

A quick update in honor of the six month mark.  We’ve recently started the design process for our invitations!  We are in the second round of proofs and hopefully will have the design and wording set before the holiday break.  Jonathan, Phil’s dad, was in Milwaukee on business last week, and swung down to Chicago for dinner.  Thanksgiving is fast approaching and we will be joining Phil’s mom, Mildred, in Florida for some fun, sun, and Christmas shopping :)  We’ll also be meeting with the talented jeweler who designed my engagement ring to Phil’s specifications, to talk over wedding bands.  Phil’s getting jealous that I have a ring now and he doesn’t. :)

Phil and I celebrated our four-year anniversary on November 2nd with dinner at the Drawing Room.  For the wedding reception, we’re toying with the idea of naming all the tables after restaurants we love, rather than numbering them.  The guest book is coming together beautifully.  It’s hand-bound, and I’ve added prints of some of our favorite photos from our engagement shoot, as well the save-the-date, an engagement card from my maid of honor, and a shower invitation, so it will be somewhat of a wedding-guest-scrap-book-photo-album.  I hope everyone can find time at the reception to jot us a note!

In addition to our Thanksgiving trip, I will be flying to NorCal in early-mid December for a bridal shower tossed by Jordi.  I’m so excited to see Aunt Penny and all my favorite Bay Area ladies, plus a few special guests making the trip in from out of town.  We’re having a tea party…how apropos :)  I’ll also be meeting with our fantastic day-of-coordinator, Elizabeth, for the first time!  Jonathan has already met her, and I’m really excited to go over all the wedding details.  After about a week in California, Phil will be joining me in Oregon for Christmas and what is sounding like a fabulous little engagement soiree generously hosted by my bridesmaid Bridie and her amazing mom Angela.  Word on the street is that a cake will be furnished by Aunt Susanna ;)  We’ll return to Chicago on the 27th and Phil will go back to work, sadly, while I’ll probably laze around the house for the rest of my time off from classes, which resume bright and early January 2nd.  It won’t all be lying about in my jammies though; my first dress fitting is December 28th!  A couple weeks into the quarter, we’ll be jetting off to Virginia for MLK weekend and an East Coast bridal shower with Phil’s family.  Wedding invitations haven’t even gone out yet and we already feel so blessed by everyone’s excitement and well-wishes.

Over the next few months we’ll be working with Zak and Lea to plan out the ceremony and write our vows.  I’ve had no fewer than 10 recurring nightmares that it’s the day of or the day before the wedding and somehow I’ve forgotten to write my vows.  Enough is enough…

School and work are going well for me (busy, but I’m loving it), and Phil just finished up bowling and softball leagues at work (and he got a promotion!…no doubt due to his mad skills on and off the field…haha).  We’re excited for what the New Year brings for sure, and are wishing you and yours all the best in the coming holiday season.  See you on the other side…

love and warmth,


10.8.2011: checking in :)

A few things:

The Longstreets are out in front in the guestbook signing competition...

I just started back to school and for the last three weeks have hardly thought about the wedding at all (not that I'm not still super excited and way looking forward to it).  This is good though because I also haven't had any of those obnoxious nightmares in which I forget to write my wedding vows.  Scary.  I just started a fabulous new program at the UChicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA).  Here's my weekly schedule for the next couple of months:

Monday: On campus for my Policy and Programs core class.  It's 3 hours long and we're learning about poverty in the U.S.  Kind of depressing, but fascinating too.  Monday is my long day.  In the afternoon I have another 3 hour class: Childhood Development.  We talk about babies and brains.

Tuesday: At my field placement at Children's Research Triangle, which takes me to Noble Street Charter School, about a 10 minute drive from home.  Right now I'm doing one-on-one therapy with 3 high school students who are recovering from various trauma.  Tuesday nights Phil has a bowling league, so I decompress and eat pizza after.

Wednesday: Back to campus for my Direct Practice core course, taught by my SSA advisor, Bill.  There are 30 or so of us in this course and in the policy course, and I really like my cohort.  It's nice to look forward to class.

Thursday: Back to field placement, but on Thursdays I'm in the office downtown, working with a different set of clients.  It's only a few blocks from where Phil works, so hopefully we'll get to squeeze in a couple lunch dates.  Plus our friend Mike works across the street from me :)

Friday: Work-study job at the International Adoption Clinic on campus.  Helping Dr. Gray welcome new little ones to the U.S.  And helping stressed out parents get through those first several rounds of pesky inoculations. 

Saturday: Homework!

Sunday: Every couple of weeks I meet up with a friend's son who was adopted from Ethiopia at the age of 8.  He's a senior now and we're working on scholarship and college applications.  Volleyball league is also Sunday afternoons.

Wedding?  What wedding?  Haha.  Unfortunately I'm also having a flair up of chondromalacia, which is an old overuse injury of my right knee.  So I'm going to have to fit 2 physical therapy sessions in there somewhere too...Hmmm.

Oh!  And Phillie got a promotion last week!  He is now an Associate 3!  Go Phil!  This weekend we have friends in town to celebrate our engagement, our friend Zak's birthday, the 4-year anniversary of the day Phil and I met (Oct. 25), Zak and Lea's wedding anniversary, Zak starting law school, and who knows what else.  It's shaping up to be a lovely, and very busy, autumn :)

talk soon,



8.15.2011: mom + aunt penny plus engagement photos!

Mom and Aunt Penny flew back to the West Coast on Wednesday night.  We had an absolutely magnificent time!  Here's a list of what we did in the 5 days they were here (we had a surplus of free time since the gown was taken care of--these events are not in chronological order):

1. Visited the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago

2. Toured Frank Lloyd Wright's Home and Studio in Oak Park

3. Drove to the suburbs to see my dress (avoiding speeding tickets this time)

4. Had afternoon tea, complete with little finger sandwiches, scones, and clotted cream

5. Shopped the Magnificent Mile (on more than one occasion)

6. Met Phil for lunch at Millennium Park

7. Saw Cirque du Soleil Ovo

8. Sat on the couch and ate deep dish pizza from Pizzeria Uno

9. Ate lunch on the balcony at Barneys New York

10. Found a fabulous hat for me to wear to the Arlington Park Million horse races on Saturday

And's all becoming a blur now.  We ran and ran and ran until we couldn't run (or shop...or eat) anymore.  It was fabulous.  My birthday was the day after they left, and Phillip took me out to a lovely dinner at The Drawing Room, one of our favorites.  On Sunday he surprised me with a special VIP food demonstration and mixology class at StreetFood Artistry.  It's was the best :)  He's the best.

Another piece of exciting news this week: our engagement photos finally came back!  The photos were shot by Sergio Vasquez from Sergio V Photography here in Chicago.  All the pictures were taken in and around what we affectionately refer to as the 'bunny park' also known as the grounds of the Clark House in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago.  This park is within walking distance of our first apartment, and at dusk in the summertime it's crawling with rabbits.  It's a beautiful and quiet little green corner of the city that we love and miss (now that we've moved to another part of town).  Here are some of our favorite pictures:


***To see the rest of our engagement photos, click here!***

Oh!  Save-the-dates also arrived this week!  So those will be going out over the course of the next month.  You're probably here because you've received one :)  Nice to finally have an audience!  Be sure to sign the guest book!




7.30.2011: a story that i hope is much funnier 10 years from now

So...Mom and Aunt Penny are flying into Chicago next weekend to help me find my wedding dress.  Well...originally they were supposed to be coming to help me find my wedding dress.  Now they're coming to look at shoes, and registries, and to see Cirque du Soleil, and to have high tea.  Because I bought my dress yesterday.

Yes.  On a reconnaissance mission to the suburbs yesterday in preparation for their visit, I fell in love with a 2010 sample and snatched it up.  So I have the dress.  If I hadn't paid the bridal salon to store it, it would be physically in the house right now.  Bizarre.  I'm bummed that my family wasn't there with me to share the 'this is it' moment...but we'll be back next weekend to take another look at it.  And get this...this botched timing isn't the 'funny' part.

The dress was a cash-and-carry sample, so I had to buy it then, with cash.  I'm not sure what kind of bride-to-be carries around enough cash to buy a wedding gown on the spot (but I'm not that kind), so the lovely ladies at the salon were kind enough to hold the dress for me while I went in search of a bank.  On my way back from the bank, tickled pink over finding my dress, out of nowhere come these flashing blue lights behind me.  So I pull off to the side of the road hoping there's an emergency somewhere ELSE and the cop just needs to get around such luck.  After an agonizing 5 minutes or so, he saunters up to my window and gives me his spiel, asking if I knew why I had been pulled over or what the speed limit was (which I didn't...I had looked for a sign mere minutes before getting pulled over and hadn't been able to find one).  I was mortified and frustrated.  It was my first ticket ever, and I couldn't figure out how to tell the guy I wasn't from around there, and the limit wasn't well-marked, and I was on my way to BUY MY WEDDING DRESS.  I hoped and prayed for a warning.  Again, no such luck.  "You will be receiving a ticket for speeding today."  Thanks.  Great.  I figured crying was probably appropriate.  So I did.  Don't they give out warnings anymore?  Not even for first-offenders?

Anyways, after making me wait in the car for another agonizing fifteen minutes (no doubt, so I could think about what I had done) he brought the ticket over for me to sign.  And that was that.  Awkwardly I crept back onto the road, paranoid as ever, signalling too early, stopping for every yellow light, and driving five mph under the limit. I made my way back to the bridal salon, missing two turns on the way and having to backtrack.  It was hot (90+ degrees that day), I was exhausted (physically and emotionally), starving (it was after 5:00pm and I hadn't eaten since before 11:00), and I had a raging headache.  I finally got back to the bridal salon and told the ladies about the ticket while I paid for my dress, at which point I started crying again, and was met with tissues and hugs, thank goodness.  So yes.  I cried when I got my wedding dress.  How many were embarassed tears from the ticket, joyful tears at finding the dress I'd wear while being married to the man of my dreams, or sad tears that my mom and aunt weren't with me when I made the decision...I'll never know.  And yes, I'm going to contest the thing.  If I can figure out how.  But, I have my dress.  I love it.  It's perfect.  And if nothing else, I got an amazing deal on it, so that more than makes up for the traffic fine.

And no, after all that, I am not posting a picture of the dress.  Sorry!  All the more reason to come to the wedding! :)



7.27.2011: insomnia, guestbooking, and e-dinner photos!

First post!  Note to self:  a nap after 5pm and a coke float before bedtime is a dynamite recipe for insomnia.  It doesn't help that I started making the guestbook this afternoon, so my crafty brain is conducting mental experiments with cover treatments and endpaper.  It's also storming something fierce outside. 

Anyways, the reason I created this post in the first place was to share some photographs from our lovely engagement dinner party thrown by Bill Bartholomay at the fabulous Le Colonial here in Chicago.  Phil's parents as well as some of our friends flew in for the mid-June weekend and we had a truly wonderful time.  A post-party brunch the following morning at one of our favorite restaurants, Zed451, didn't hurt either.  Without further ado...

Thank you to Jonathan for the beautiful snapshots!  Fun times and delicious treats were enjoyed by all.  After brunch, the ladies and I headed to Bridal Expo Chicago at the Sheraton for some bridal bonding time.  Stay tuned for a post in the coming weeks about my mom and Aunt Penny's visit to Chicago for gown shopping!