Monday, November 22, 2010

Wedding Dreams

With all of the wedding planning going on, I've been having lots of dreams related to the wedding. Some are pretty mundane - I dreamed that I was sitting at dinner with my friends and I kept telling them about wedding planning. Some are a little scary - I dreamed that I was in Minnesota and had forgotten it was the weekend of the wedding, so I hadn't made any make-up or hair appointments or anything. And those are just the two I can think of the moment.

It turns out Jeff is also having wedding dreams - last night he had a dream that it was the wedding, and everyone was coming into town and getting ready. But then the U.S. World Cup Soccer team was there, and everyone was reminding him that he had to play a soccer game as part of the wedding festivities, so he was playing with the U.S. team, and our friend Al was coaching him about what he had to do.

I like soccer, but I'm hoping, in this specific instance, our wedding isn't the wedding of Jeff's dreams.  :)

Pol Visits DC

About a week ago, my friend Pol (who lives in Barcelona) emailed me to tell me he had decided to make a last minute trip to New York. He was planning to stay for a week, but since it's over Thanksgiving, I was going to be in Minnesota for a lot of it. He decided to come directly to DC after arriving in NYC to visit for a couple nights.

He arrived in DC on Saturday evening and a bunch of us met up at Fudruckers for a quick dinner. From there we went to Rocket Bar for drinks. We met up with my cousin, Liz, there, and her husband and friend. As it got later, we decided to go dancing. We thought we'd go to Cafe Citron, but the line was really long. Instead, Jaisha found some magic bar - called "Steve's Bar" that was next door, but had no sign and looked like an office building when you went in. But when you took the elevator to the second floor, it was a club. We ended up having our own room in the back where we could dance - it was great!

The next day, Jeff and I met up with Pol, his friends (Jorge and Hector), and Jaisha for a little sightseeing. Pol visited DC before, but his friends have never been to the U.S., so they wanted to see everything! We went to the White House, and then walked down to the Lincoln Memorial.

After we finished sightseeing, we walked back along the Mall to Penn Quarter, and met up with Kris and Emma for dinner at Carmine's. It's a family-style Italian restaurant, so the portions were huge!

We grabbed one drink after that, but we were pretty tired from staying out late the night before, and the Spanish guys were pretty jet-lagged. And that was it for Pol and his friend's surprise DC visit! On Monday they caught a bus back to New York City. They're actually staying at my sister's apartment there, so perhaps we'll hear from them a bit more!

Jeff's 26th Birthday!

Last Thursday was Jeff's birthday. I worked from home, so we hung out together all day in the MJ Cafe (that's what we call our temporary apartment). I had a bunch of telecons and he had a lot of research to work on, but it was nice to have tea together and chat over lunch.

In the evening, we met up with my co-workers and some of our friends for drinks at Madhatter. We had a really good time!

Friday we had planned a night out with friends. Since a lot of Jeff's friends from high school live in and around Baltimore, we decided to go out there for his birthday. That way those people could go, and also it would be something new and different for our DC friends. Jeff, Stephanie, Beth and I drove down together. The four of us met up with Sam Armacost and Ransom for dinner at The Helmand, which is a great Afghani restaurant in Baltimore.

After that, the plan was to start at Max's Taphouse and then explore the rest of Fell's Point a bit. But we ended up liking Max's and having a lot of space to ourselves, which was nice, so we stayed there the whole night!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Heads of Agencies Summit

On Wednesday, I went to the Heads of Agencies Summit, which had the heads of 30 different space agencies. At one point, they were all on the stage together.

Jeff got a haircut!

And this is what it looks like:

Lookin' Good! :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Apartment Update: At least 30 days more...

We recently got an email with the memo below. The main update is that we won't be able to retrieve any of our things from the apartment for at least 30 days. At least we have the ten things we got earlier, and we've got a nice place to stay!



DATE:                    November 16, 2010

TO:                         All Residents, Windsor House Apartments

FROM:                  Gloria Dunbar, ARM
                                Assistant Vice President

RE:                          Habitability and Relocation

The fire in our building on November 2, 2010 has presented many challenges for all residents as well as for us. In a situation such as this, we strive to make everyone as comfortable as we possibly can, realizing that there will be some frustrations along the way.

Unfortunately, our 9th floor residents will not be able to return to their homes for at least six months due to the restoration that must take place.  There is also a concern regarding the conditions that were created by the fire that prohibit access and habitability to the 9th floor. We expect this to continue for at least the next thirty (30) days. We will certainly provide any information regarding access to the 9th floor as it is made available to us. We as Management thoroughly understand the frustration our 9th floor residents are experiencing without access or the ability to retrieve items; however, this matter is beyond our control and we appreciate your cooperation and patience.

In the efforts to extinguish the fire, it was necessary to break several apartment windows to release the smoke and heat. Those residents of apartments without windows cannot return until the window(s) have been replaced. These windows have been ordered, and each window must be custom made to fit the frame and structure of the building. We will advise those residents of the date in which their windows will be installed.

Please know that it is for your safety and best interest in this matter that these actions are taken. We would like to thank all of our residents for their continued support and understanding during this unfortunate incident.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Headed to Strasbourg, France in February

I found out from my work the other day that I'm going to be attending the International Space University Symposium in Strasbourg, France February 15-17, 2011. I'm really excited for the trip! I've been there once two years ago, so I have some idea of what it's like.

Usually Jeff travels with me on my work trips, but it looks like he may not come on this one, since we're saving up for the wedding. I may still fly out a little early and/or stay a little late and try to meet up with friends in Germany. Nothing is booked yet, though, so I guess we'll see!

Our Videographer: Calvin at Capture Studios

Jeff and I have officially signed a contract with our videographer! We're going to have Calvin from Capture Studios, along with one assistant, filming at our wedding!

We love their website and the web clips in their portfolio. They'll be there all day, and they'll shoot everything in HD. They'll make us a three minute clip set to music, and they'll also make us a 20-30 minute feature video. They'll also provide us with all of the raw footage from the wedding day, in high resolution on a hard drive.

You can go here to watch samples of their work:

Wedding Website

Jeff and I sent save-the-dates in the mail, but we thought it might make things easier for people if they had a direct link to the wedding website, so we sent out an email about it today. Here's what it said:


Hopefully you've already received your save-the-date in the mail, but we wanted to also send you a direct link to our wedding website, which has lots of information!

I just want to point out a couple of things you should check out:

First, we just added information about the Hotel Minneapolis, where we've arranged for a special group rate. The wedding website has information on how to book as part of the group, so feel free to reserve your hotel room as soon as you're ready!

The other thing we want to point out is the "Wedding Book" page. We're putting together a book featuring short stories written by our friends and family. The stories can be about how you met Mariel and/or Jeff, one of your favorite memories of them, or just some words you want to share with us on on wedding day. It can be a couple words or a couple paragraphs! We'd really appreciate it if you took a couple of minutes to write something!

Please let us know if you have any questions! Only 206 days until the wedding!

Hope to see you in Minnesota!
Mariel & Jeff

Finding an Officiant

Jeff and I are now starting to think about and plan our wedding ceremony. The first thing we need to figure out is who we will have as our officiant. It's a little bit difficult, because there is no obvious choice for us. We don't have a family member that is a religious official, and we don't interact with any religious officials on a regular basis. Also, I'm Catholic, and though Jeff's family background is half-Christian, half-Jewish, he is not religious. We'd like to tailor our wedding ceremony to fit our style. We'd like it to be formal and personal, thoughtful and substantial. and though we don't want it to be extremely religious, we would like to at least include some religious readings (both Jewish and Christian) and possibly other religious aspects.

It's possible to find people on the internet who officiate weddings for a living, and some of them look very nice, but somehow this doesn't seem like a great option to me. I don't like the feeling that the search for the person who will marry us is the same as the search for the photographer or caterer. I would really like the person to be someone we have some connection to, and ideally someone who has some kind of background that gives their officiating some authority.

One option is to have a religious official from my past. Father Charlie, who was the priest at the church I attended growing up, had a huge impact on my religious beliefs. I'm not sure, however, if a Catholic priest would be able to perform a ceremony between a Catholic and non-Catholic in a non-religious setting. We'd face the same issue for a high school friend of mine that became a Catholic priest.

The next option would be to have a friend recommend a priest, pastor, or other religious official that they really like and think we would work well with. We're talking to friends in Minnesota to try to get recommendations.

After that, the next option would probably be to ask a family member or family friend to get ordained and perform the ceremony. This would be nice, because we would really be able to tailor the ceremony to fit our style, and it would be very personal.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thinking About Wedding Colors

One of the decisions Jeff and I have yet to finalize is what colors we want for our wedding. I've been gravitating towards yellow for a while. It's one of my favorite colors, it works well for spring, and I love that it's such a happy color and that it signifies friendship.

However, we need to pick some colors to complement it, and I've been thinking about maybe a deep purple or a gray, or maybe a blue - my ideas are sort of all over the place.

Anyway, I spent last weekend with Janet and Neera, who are also getting married this summer, and we went to Lowes to pick up some paint swatches to start thinking about color palettes. Now I've got lots of little color squares laying out at our house for Jeff and I to think about.

Girls' Weekend - Year Five!

Ever since we graduated from college, Neera, Janet, and I have gotten together once a year for a girls' weekend. In 2007 we went on a Caribbean cruise, in 2008 we went to Savannah, GA, in 2009 we went to Santa Fe, NM, and in 2010 we got together for New Years' Eve in Austin, TX (and brought along all of our significant others). This was year five (our 2011 trip, even though it's technically still 2010). It's a really exciting year because we're currently all engaged, and we're all getting married this summer (Jeff and I in late May, Janet and Dan in July, and Neera and Shreyas in August). We're attending and/or in each others' weddings, and it's really exciting to plan things together and talk about the joys and challenges of wedding planning.

This year, since we're all saving up in preparation for the weddings, we decided to save a bit of money by traveling to Urbana-Champaign, IL, which is where Neera lives right now. That way, we'd be able to see her place (Janet has visited briefly, but I'd never seen it), and we could save a bit of money on hotels and eating out.

Janet flew in from Boston, and I was coming from DC. There aren't many flights into Bloomington, IL (which was a nearby airport Neera suggested), so Janet and I ended up meeting up in Detroit and catching the same flight into Illinois. We chatted the whole flight - it's so fun to see Janet - and we rarely get the chance to just talk. When we arrived, Neera was there to pick us up.

We headed straight to dinner - we got tapas at a place in downtown Urbana. The food was good, and they had a great Sangria.

After dinner, we went back to Neera's place, changed into pajamas, and just hung out. We showed each other the sample videos from our videographer websites, and looked at Janet's florists' website. Eventually, we decided to watch a movie - Sense and Sensibility. I'm usually really good at staying up late to watch movies, but I was really tired, and even an hour into the movie new characters were being introduced, and I gave up. But as far as I can tell, the story is almost exactly the same as Pride and Prejudice, so it's ok.

The next morning we got up, had coffee, and started flipping through wedding magazines (we'd picked them up on the way home after tapas the previous night). It was fun to chat about all the decision that need to be made, and hear how other people are thinking about them. Which things are you splurging on and where are you cutting back? Are you going to have flower girls and ring bearers? What's the schedule for your wedding weekend? How did you pick a photographer? How do you coordinate decorations and things so that you have a cohesive 'style?' Do you have a theme? What kind of bridesmaid dresses are you thinking of? What traditions are you incorporating? Are you planning to give our welcome bags? And a million other little things...

Before we knew it, it was afternoon. We were getting hungry, so we got ready and went out to lunch at Olive Garden. It's been a long time since I've eaten there, but it used to be my go-to place in high school, and it was fun to go back. Plus the soup and salad lunch is a great deal!

After Olive Garden we headed over to the mall and did a little shopping. It was actually great for me - I found a few really cute sweaters, which I've been wanting, and I got a pair of black pants, which I really needed. (I used the gift certificate my brother gave me for my birthday - thanks, Brian!) It's nice to have some new things to wear, especially since Jeff and I still don't have access to the clothes in our apartment. (Also - did you know that The Gap and Banana Republic give a 15% student discount? Awesome!)

Eventually we got tired of shopping and decided to head home. We made a stop at the grocery store to pick up ingredients for dinner, and then we went home and made home-made pizzas (Neera made the dough from scratch!) and chocolate chip cookies (from pre-made dough). And we had champagne and raspberries.

For the rest of the evening we chatted, looked up more wedding things on our computers, and half-watched a bunch of episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress." We talked some about the difficulty of life planning when you have two motivated, career-oriented people in a couple. It's so difficult to make decisions about where to live, and its even hard to think about how to go about making those decisions. It seems like it's something more and more couples have to think about. As we got more tired, we turned on Sister Act and watched some of the best songs before eventually calling it a night.

On Sunday, we got up relatively early, got ready, and headed to brunch at a really cute little place in downtown Urbana. We shared a couple different breakfast burritos and some whole wheat pancakes. The place had cinnamon coffee, which was really good and reminded me of the holidays.

From there, we went to Lowes hardware store, where we spent a long time in the paint section picking out all sorts of color swatches to use to thinking about color palettes for our weddings. It's really helpful to have some concrete examples of different shades to be able to see how things look together. I think Jeff and I want to have yellow as our dominant color, but we're thinking about gray, blue, or purple shades to compliment it. The yellow is so bright and fun, and I think we can make it a little more formal by pairing it with some more muted colors. Still deciding, though!

From there, we headed off to the airport - as always, the weekend flew by, but it was great that we got to spend so much time just hanging out with the three of us - this is definitely a tradition we want to keep up!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

More Bday Stuff!

I got a couple of birthday packages in the mail today, so I thought I'd take a picture and put it up. I definitely don't expect anybody to send cards or gifts for my 27th birthday (well, maybe the parents and Grandmas... I figure they'll always send me cards.) But it's always really fun to get things in the mail.

 Here are the cards - from Mamie and Grandpa, Grandma John, my parents, Liz, and Jeff.

And here are the gifts - a Gap gift card from my brother (Look how big the package is that it came in - crazy!), chocolates from the Space Foundation, wine from Tommy, a gift card from Emma, Kris, and Beth, and a fuzzy robe from Jeff. Yay, birthdays!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Apartment for my Birthday

Monday was my 27th birthday! Jeff drove me into work in the morning (we had stayed the night out at Stephanie's). I went to Caribou and got a free coffee - they sent me an email coupon for my birthday. I don't usually start my day with a drink that has whipped cream, but I figured that's acceptable on your birthday, so I got a pumpkin white chocolate mocha. Yum.

I had class all afternoon - from 1:30pm to 6:45pm, which all went pretty well. Then I went back into the city. My work had offered to pay for temporary housing, so I chose and arranged for a corporate apartment in the neighborhood near our old apartment. Jeff had moved in while I was at class, and I stopped by to see it for the first time after class was over. It's a cute little one-bedroom apartment near Dupont Circle. It has a nice big window looking out on the street from the living room. Jeff and I will be here until December 7th. (After that, we're planning to move to another unit within our old building. Also, still no access to our apartment to get more stuff - they're saying to check back on Friday.)

After that, I met up with friends for dinner. It was great to see everybody - Eric, Liz, Adam, Kris, Emma, Beth, Craig, Patrick, Rosalie, Tommy, Al, Jaisha, and, of course, Jeff. We had middle eastern food at Skewers. It's not a big place, and we were the only ones there. The food was great, and it was nice to be able to catch up with everyone.

After dinner, a few of us (Jeff, Craig, Patrick, Beth, Emma, Kris) went to Bar Dupont. I'd only been there once before - for a Christmas Party - but I liked it. It's got a trendy cocktail lounge sort of vibe. But they have a martini made with St. Germain, which is all it really takes to win me over.

Then I went with Craig and Patrick for one more stop - at the Gibson, the speakeasy bar that I like. They weren't big fans of the place, mostly because they just thought it was too warm. Ah well, to each his own.

Overall, it was a really fun birthday - free coffee, new apartment, and a night out with friends!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Photographer Search Continues

Jeff and I started out by looking through the websites and blogs of about forty different photographers, and narrowed it down to a handful that we really liked.

Last week Jeff and I spent a few hours on the phone talking to our top five photographer choices. Here's what we learned:

Vada Photography (Biff Ulm)
First off, we really liked Biff - he just seemed really nice and personable. He told us that he usually works solo, though he can get a second photographer if there are multiple activities going on at the same time (for $400 per hour). Even though he works alone, he said he really tries to be everywhere (and looking at his pictures, he seems to do a great job of capturing a variety of things). He said that is style is generally photo-journalistic and a bit quirky. He is from a city three hours north of the Twin Cities, but he's photographed in Minneapolis often. Though he hasn't photographed at our venues (the City Hall and the Central Library).

Noah Wolf Photography
Noah works with a second photographer (his wife) and also an assistant, so there are two people with cameras and one without. His style is a fusion of photo-journalistic and commercial, though he also enjoys doing portraits. His prices are a bit higher than some of the others, but he said that he thinks he still provides when of the best values - he has a very high level of service and ensures that his clients have high expectations. He has photographed some portraits at the library and has photographed a reception at the city hall. In general, even if he hasn't been at a particular site, he says that he's confident in his creativity and his ability.

Studio 306
Studio 306 includes two photographers - a husband and wife team. They each carry two to three cameras. Their style is photo-journalistic and documentary - they're drawn to authenticity. Their photographs are quirky and whimsical, and they're graphically clean. They enjoy working in unique spaces. They have photographed at the library, and are familiar with both locations. In general, they enjoy the challenge of a new space, and know of lots of possibilities for photographs near our venues. They said that they're technically adept and great at working in many different types of lighting.

Live and Love Studios (Jackie Boldt)
Jackie works with a second photographer. She fits her style to the style of her client, so she can either go with the flow or take the bull by the horns. She has a photo-journalistic, creative style and likes working with different locations and people. The pictures depend a lot on the attitude of the group, and what they like. She said that she enjoys shooting in the city, because you can get great lighting early in the day. She hasn't shot the city hall or the library before, but she would be willing to visit them before the wedding.

Clewell Photography (Kris Clewell)
Kris works with a second photographer (his wife). He has a mix of styles including photojournalism and fashion. He enjoys doing group shots. He prefers urban landscapes, and said there is a lot of interesting backgrounds just east of our venues. He has shot at the City Hall and the Library before. He said that the City Hall is very cool and that the lighting is really good. The lighting at the library is not as good, but there are interesting spaces.

Hopefully we'll make a decision soon!

H Street Adventure with Craig and Patrick

Last night Jeff and I met up with Craig and Patrick and went to the Atlas District - the H Street Corridor. Our first stop was at the Biergarten Haus, where we had Hofbrau beers and some potato pancakes.

We went for dinner at Granville Moores. It's a Belgian gastropub that I've been really wanting to try. They don't take reservations, and even though we got there at abour 8:45pm, there was still and hour and a half wait. We went back around 10pm, had a beer at the bar, and then sat out on the patio, which was heated.

We had fries as a starter - they were really great - especially with the aoli and chipotle mayo dips. Jeff and I both had mussels for our main course - I had jalfrezi mussels, which was a type of curry, and Jeff had spicy corn flavor. Patrick and Craig treated us to dinner to celebrate our engagement. Thanks, guys!

From there, we went for a quick beer at The Pug, a little pub near Granville Moore's. Then we went back to the area downtown where Craig and Patrick are staying (which is the same neighborhood we used to live in). We went to Dupont Italian Kitchen, where they had karaoke. We put ourselves on the list, but decided to go home before our turn came up... probably for the best since I really can't sing.