About Me

I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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Sunday
Jan272013

Chinese Doctors, Tub Drains and Yard Treasures

So it’s a Friday afternoon here in gloomy North Carolina. My VP came around and sent us all home at 3:15 pm because it’s icy and rainy here and the world shuts down in The South when the weather turns even the slightest bit nasty. Awesome. I was planning on leaving early anyway, now I had an official dismissal.

I had plans to actually exercise, but with the roads filled with batshit crazy Southerners who have zero ability to drive in inclement weather, The Candyman demanded I come home. So now,I sit at home with wine in hand, writing a blog post because I actually have time.

Go figure.

Let’s catch up, OK? It’s been a while.

So I was sick over our entire Christmas vacation. Awesome.

I left for China on January 4th feeling slightly better having taken a Z-pack and sucked down  tons of codeine-laced cough syrup. I felt OK for about 2 days after I arrived, but had a serious relapse. In China.

Again, awesome.

After I ran out of cough syrup and nearly coughed a chunk of my lung onto a table in the middle of a meeting, I bit the bullet and did the unthinkable.

I went to a Chinese doctor.

*EEEEK!!!*

I’ll admit now, my fear was unfounded. The doctor was more thorough than I’ve ever experienced in my whole life. The appointment, a ‘nasal cleanse’ (don’t ask), direction on what to eat/drink for the next few days AND a slew of drugs? All that cost less than US $100.

Our health care system is fucked.

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I still Pin stuff that is wedding related. I still like looking at the pretty. I just don’t want to write about it anymore. Is that really bad? Probably so, considering this is still supposed to be a ‘wedding blog.’ I consider moving it over to something else, but I still get a shit-ton of hits every day because people reference old crap on this blog all the damn time. People love these posts:

This one. Every time they rerun Say Yes to the Dress people flock here. I still get misty just thinking about Erin.

DIY Sweater Love

If you want some help with Shepherd’s Hooks.

DIY Cake in a Jar Favors – always popular.

And thanks to Austin Wedding Blog, I get all kinds of Paper Feather Tutorial love.

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And then there’s the house. Holy crapballs, the house. The projects are ENDLESS. Something we’ve learned? We have to be VERRRRRRRRRRRRRRY careful about the projects we start. What you THINK will be a piece of cake? Oh no, my friends. Not with an almost-50 year old house. You uncover one thing, you find 100 things UNDER that one thing.

For instance, I wanted a new tub drain. My tub had the old kind of drain that looked like this:

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The drain just had a cover because the part that actually plugs the drain is inside the pipe, kind of where that spring thingy is in the pictures above.  When I would take  a bath (which is totally my thing), the water in the horizontal pipe would actually float back up into the tub. Who wants pipe backwash in their tub?

Dude, not me. I mean, look at how disgusting this was once we took the drain cover and overflow plate off. 

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Now, it didn’t look THAT bad with the covers on and such, but still. Gross me out, to the max.

So I set out to remove and install a new one. I read many an on-line tutorial. I called My Dad, the handyman supreme. I consulted. I made numerous drain-planning trips to Lowe’s. I had this one in the bag.

Oh, so wrong. And damn The Candyman for being right. He knew it wouldn’t be as easy as I thought. He knew he’d be the one to fix what I jacked up. Fucking hate when he’s THAT RIGHT.

But really, it’s not my fault. There is NO WAY I could have known the the standard size of pipe drains in the 1960’s was 1/4” SHORTER than the standard size now. In fact, they are now 1/4” bigger around now too. That was my first problem. When I solved that one (again, after multiple trips to Lowe’s, a privately owned specialty hardware store AND a direct-to-plumbers only supply store) I had to solve the length problem. Whilst trying to solve the drain size issues, we encountered another. The overflow plate. I went to take it off and couldn’t. Why? Because the goddamn screws were actually rusted into the frame of the tub (see above). It’s actually an iron tub from days of yore.

Apparently, there’s a thing called a screw extraction kit. And now we own one. Yeah. So, that took a while to figure out with several trips to Lowe’s. And we still hadn’t figured out the drain thing.

A co-worker who used to work at Lowe’s in the hardware area told me of a specialty vintage plumbing supply shop. So we went. It took us forever to find the place. And it was scary.  There was a sign on the door that said, “BRING THE PART, NOT A PICTURE. NO EXCEPTIONS.” Good thing we had our part. There was a sign inside the store/killing room that said, '”IF YOU DON’T THINK I’M RIGHT, WHY DID YOU ASK?” The lady who worked there was surly and a little filthy. She had the kind of dirty hands/fingernails that you know are just NEVER clean. There are few people who frighten me – she did.

BUT, she was nice and she was smart and she found us our part. We had to special order the damn thing. So my little project that should have taken about 2 hours and $20? Yeah, like 5 weeks and $80. But now I don’t have nasty pipe-water bath backwash and that is nice. I also own a screw extraction kit. 

So take that project and multiply it by 800 billion and that’s how we live right now. I spend most on-line time looking at mirrors (can’t seem to find the right one for the Master Bath). I still can’t find the right size bathroom rug. We need a new washer and dryer. And vacuum. And I want to replace the windows.

It never ends.

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And I have found the weirdest things in our yard. Now that it’s winter and the backyard jungle is less Amazonian, I’ve been able to get in to clear out debris, limb up bushes and try to make things a little more landscaped. I found a hanging lantern in a tree. I found an iron tricycle pot holder in some bushes. I found a lovely glass mosaic candle holder buried under pine straw. I found a wire hanging plant holder in another tree. I’ve found 4 paver stones under more pine straw. Just the other day, when I retrieved the hanging plant holder, I walked back into an area I’d never even walked into before. I turned around and noticed something odd. The giant wild jasmine bush that I thought was a bush that I have probably walked past hundreds of times now? It’s not. It’s actually a wrought iron chair that is COVERED by this wild jasmine. A FUCKING CHAIR.

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A quick bathroom update. It’s coming along, but still not done. Check out the present day before and after. Still need something for the floor and the window. Trying to figure out what to do with the old, built-in ceramic toothbrush and soap holders. Need new towels. But it’s SO much better than what it was. Check it:

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Before

bathroom

Not quite an After…

I’ve got some little mercury glass candleholders for the toothbrush/soap holder thingies that I might make crazy with some moss. Or air plants. Baby steps.

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So there you go. Pile on top of all this house crap my TruLu Couture and work and damn, there’s no time to do anything else. Like blog.

Know that  I miss my blog peeps something awful.

Wednesday
Jan022013

TruLu Couture Does Monique Lhuillier

So do you remember that gorgeous Monique Lhuillier gown my bestie wore in her wedding? No? Here’s a cute little reminder:

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You can read about Marie & Vic’s Unfake Wedding here, here, here and here.

You might also recall the unfortunate dress disaster that befell Marie and her gorgeous Monique Lhuillier gown.

Marie had the gown professionally cleaned and preserved, spending over $600 to do so and there were still some spots on the gown. Boo. Hiss.

But the smart girl sent the gown to me to see what I could do with it. I’ve been working on the dang thing for FOREVER and with the move and the job, blah, blah, blah. Well, I have FINALLY finished it and it’s up for sale!

So here’s the story….

Wine stains on the skirt. I got them out for the most part, but being the person I am, I couldn't very well sell a gown with spots, for goodness sake. I don't care how light they are.  So I got creative and totally redesigned the dress.

OK, not TOTALLY, but a whole lot. Check it:

 

I redesigned the pick-ups all around the skirt and added hand-bead appliques all around the left side of the skirt.

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Corset Front

I added beading to the silk flowers on the STUNNING corset. Some of the little flowers on the corset now show up on the silk gazar skirt too!

Bustier Back

 

I added pick ups to the back of the gown creating a slightly shorter train with more hand-beaded appliques trailing down and around the back of the skirt.

The French bustle is still the same, just with pretty little appliques now!

Applique

Close-up of one of the appliques.

So now I’m helping Marie sell her gorgeous Monique Lhuillier/TruLu Couture skirt and corset. The woman paid $6800 for the dress, $300 in alterations (corset was lined and bust changed to a C-cup) AND she paid $600 to clean and preserve the gown. AND, it’s been redesigned and updated (couture methods only, natch) my yours truly.

Gown is for sale on my Etsy shop and also over on OnceWed. If you have questions, want to see more pictures or have even a hint of interest, please contact me ASAP! FYI -  since I’m about to go to China day after tomorrow, I won’t be able to send it until January 26th.

So do y’all love? Tell all your engaged friends.

Monday
Dec312012

Happy Fucking New Year

It’s been a while since I’ve bitched. I’m feeling the itch somethin’ powerful.

Here’s the deal. Haven’t seen many posts have you? No, you have not. It’s not that I don’t want to write or don’t have anything to say, it’s just that I am so fucking busing and so fucking tired every goddamn day that I simply can’t find the energy to do more than play a game of Scramble on my iPhone and fall into bed at 9:30pm.

Work has been horrid for both of us. The pressure of both of our jobs is bordering on insanity. Between the three members of my immediate team, there were weeks where at least one of us was crying. Not run-to-a-bathroom-stall-and-silently-sob cry, but at the desk, head-in-hands-bawling.  Not good.

So I was looking forward to my 11 day vacation with MUCH anticipation.

The Candyman and I planned to visit the folks at Christmas for a few short days, then skedaddle back on home for a staycation holiday. We were going to rip down an old fence, take long walks in the woods, go out to eat, see some movies and simply rest ourselves and de-stress.

I also had to do just a little shopping to prep for my trip to China. I leave on January 4th. 

But no. My Dad was sick when we arrived for Christmas. He infected both me and The Candyman. We returned home coughing, snorting, sniffing, blowing, hawking up lung oysters and feeling generally disgusting and miserable.

I have done NOTHING since we got back from Christmas except be sick. I went to the doctor today and now have a fresh stock of drugs to try to beat the mucus uprising in my lungs. All I want is good goddamn night’s sleep.

Unfortunately, I have to finish re-designing a wedding gown for my friend to sell online (hint: a TruLu Couture’d Monique Lhuillier will be posted soon!), find a new overseas suitcase (a most difficult task for a 3-week China sojourn) due to a busted zipped on an old one, pick up travel crap at Sephora, de-Christmas the house, do laundry, pack, try to get my nails done (if I don’t, I chew my nails down to the nubs when I fly) and oh yeah, get healthy.

Seriously? The suckiest ass vacation in the recorded history of all vacation. Has to be.

And here it is New year’s Eve and we’re house-bound watching The Walking Dead Marathon, coughing and hacking our way old episodes. Hooray.

Happy New Year y’all. Despite my sickly surliness, I hope yours is safe and wonderful.

Bah.

Monday
Dec032012

Miscarriage: The Angel of Grief

No, not me.

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A while back I asked my special writing friends if they could write a blog post that they didn’t have the nerve to write on their own blogs, to do so and I’d post on my blog anonymously. I always feel like there are posts that I just can’t write since I’m not an anonymous blogger. Those posts tend to well up and bloggers (if they are anything like me) have these posts rolling around in their noggins, driving them up the goddamn wall. I gave my special writing friends the opportunity to share. And they did. You can check those out here, here and here.

One of those special writing friends took her sweet damn time getting her post to me, but it’s well worth it. It’s about her miscarriage and her constant struggle to get pregnant. This is not my first friend to go down this road; the trying and failing, the miscarriages, the IVF’s, the anticipation and the disappointment. From the sidelines, it’s painful to watch. It kills me to see folks so hopeful and to have their hopes dashed every month.

One thing I do know is that the women I know who have all been through this come out stronger on the other side. Whether choosing to remain childless, adopt or (in one very Sex in the City Charlotte-esque fashion) a friend who was trying to celebrate the adoption of her second son with a girlfriend luncheon but was just so sick all the damn time. As I understand the story, gal pals ran to the drug store and came back with a pee stick. Yeah, after being told she would never conceive, she was preggers.

I think I know now why this post took my friend so long to write. It’s something that is still ongoing with her; it’s a constant. I want to thank her for the incredible strength in writing this. Lady, you are so brave and I’m so proud of you for keeping at it and for sharing your experience with everyone.

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“The first thing I want you to know is that you had nothing to do with this. This ISN’T your fault, there was nothing you could do to prevent it, OK?”

My OB GYN said this as she squeezed my hand. I nodded, trying to keep it together as my husband and I sat in the little office, me on the exam table and him, trying to be my rock with his arm around my already convulsing shoulders.

At some point at eleven weeks, the little blob in my tummy stopped having a heartbeat. There was no physical indication, but somehow I just had this feeling that all was not right and it was confirmed at the longest OB GYN visit in my life.

After the DNC, followed by a massive breakdown on my projected due date, I still wasn’t totally ready to move on but I started to feel better about things but not without tons of insecurities that no book or website (that I can easily find) ever discusses.

So let’s discuss them now.

There are tons of books and videos and websites and even people who give you information on getting pregnant, being pregnant and enjoying the fruits of your literal labor. But until it happens to you, the reality of a miscarriage isn’t something that’s openly talked about.

On one hand I regretted and was almost embarrassed that I told people I was pregnant. Sure, I waited till about five weeks but really felt stupid for doing so after I miscarried. Really, I shouldn’t have and you shouldn’t either because on the other hand, everyone I had to then tell about the loss offered up a ton of support.

All of a sudden, I’m getting stories of people - lots of people - who have been through the same thing. “My mom miscarried several times before she had me.” “My girlfriend did too, also at 11 weeks.” “One of my friends lost her baby at six months,” just to quote a few. Two of my aunts told me they’d had miscarriages when they were younger and were a lot more sympathetic than I ever imagined they’d be.

You’ll come to learn that people you’ve known all your life have had one or more than one miscarriage, women you’ve worked with who had stillborn babies and that 99% of those women have gone on to have several healthy, happy kids! I started to believe what my OB told me - this is something beyond my control.

I’m not saying that I’m glad all those other women had to suffer the same pain (or worse) than I did but boy did it help!! It was SO comforting to know that I wasn’t an anomaly; I wasn’t doing anything wrong. A good friend put it in even more perspective for me: a miscarriage is your body’s way of making a difficult decision for you. Either terminate now when there’s something amiss, or not at all and then my husband I and would have to deal with the issues later on.

Again, not reason at all to jump for joy or whatever but it’s true. Our bodies are such amazing things and while it wouldn’t be the end of the world or necessarily anything negative to have a child with a disorder, at least it’s one less thing to worry about for now.

But once you get over that, there’s the other stuff to deal with - suddenly it felt like everybody around me was getting pregnant. Some meant well and almost have a regretful tone when telling me and I’d put on a brave front, smile and squeal with excitement with congratulations. Truth be told, inwardly I was angry and hurt. Unnecessarily so, sure but I couldn’t stop the inner voice that screamed, “That should be me! WHY isn’t that happening for me??!”

By the way, if you’re pregnant and you have friends who’ve either miscarried or who are having difficulties getting pregnant, before you say “We weren’t expecting to, it just happened!” to us, just please don’t. It doesn’t make us feel any better or help us any to know that your pregnancy was unexpected and, maybe I speak for myself here, but it frustrates me more to know it was just so damn easy for you. Yet here I am, stressing out and trying hard every month to no avail. So just tell us you’re pregnant and let the conversation flow from there.

It’s so easy to feel like the universe is against you because Everybody. Is. Knocked. Up. People who shouldn’t even have kids together are having kids because they were careless and here I am, trying everything I can to have a child and nothing is sticking. It becomes this petty competition and I found myself saying “If this couple that just got married has kids before we do I’m going to lose my shit.” My husband then has to talk me down from that ledge and remind me that a) it’s not a contest and b) no one’s doing it to spite us.

Honestly, I know they’re not and even after two years it’s still a challenge to just take things in stride and not feel like the kid who got picked last in kickball. Far as I know, while there are books and sites talking about miscarriages and online message boards (which I avoid like the plague because the people on there can be idiots) that touch on miscarriage, the information isn’t as readily available as sources for pregnancy/raising children.

Then there’s the trying hard thing. How hard is hard? Everyday? Every other day? There’s conflicting information online so my best advice is to just ask your doctor. Don’t Google it, don’t go on message boards. What worked for one person, may not work for you. Just ask your doctor and try your BEST without putting any strain on your relationship with your spouse. There are two parties involved and it’s easy to forget that - don’t ever assume your spouse is on the same page as you and TALK about it.

That said, the silver lining to all this is that it has strengthened our marriage and we both know with confidence that even if we end up never having kids, we’re 100% happy just him and me. Still, though, we’re trying and doing what we need to and giving it our all until we’ve exhausted all options.

The reason I wanted to write this post is really to just share what I went through. It helped me a lot to have other people to talk to about this (without having to go on a message board) and it’s helped me deal with the grief and stress enough to have the confidence to give it another shot. I’m keeping this anonymous because it also involves my husband and my family and while I’m an open book, they may not be.

Since our miscarriage, I’ve had friends go through the same thing and it’s heartbreaking to see them so stricken with grief but it’s part of the process. I know exactly what they’re going through, and I do not hesitate to just listen or talk to them when they need it. You’ll find someone you know who also isn’t going to hold back from lending a shoulder to cry on.

Miscarriages are going to happen. I’m not saying it’s going to happen to you but if it does, don’t be afraid to tell someone. There is nothing to be embarrassed about and while you don’t have to announce it on Twitter, odds are you’re going to have a friend who’s been through the same thing, or a friend of theirs who has who is going to be willing to talk to you.

If you can stomach it, and you don’t get into a mental rage when reading bad grammar or flat-out idiocy and you prefer anonymity, find a message board. There’s also the website Unspoken Grief that deals with miscarriages and loss that I found through Babble.com which also has some good articles on the topic. There are also books, apparently, but sometimes flipping through a book written by a doctor isn’t the same as commiserating with others who understand.

And you know what? If you decide it’s not for you, don’t let anyone pressure you into having kids again or trying. It’s your life.

If you’re reading this and you’ve had a miscarriage and are trying again, I wish you the best of luck and I hope it’s helped a little to know that you’re not alone. And if I had to leave you with one thing that I hope sticks, it’s this: barring alcohol abuse, drugs or smoking, it wasn’t and never will be your fault.

Sunday
Nov252012

Sunday Supper–BRUSSELS SPROUTS DON’T SUCK!

So The Candyman and I have been together for FIVE YEARS. In those FIVE YEARS I have been denying myself Brussels sprouts because His Majesty said he didn’t like them. I told him he’d never had MY Brussels sprouts, yet he continued to poo-poo any sprout discussion.

So this weekend I was in Trader Joe’s and they were selling Brussels sprouts by the stalk and I couldn’t resist the sprouts any longer, The Candyman be damned. I’d eat the effin’ sprouts and he could go blow.

So if you have a husband or husband-to-be who says no to Brussels sprouts, cook them this way and he’ll be sure to gobble them up. The Candyman did.

Did I mention FIVE YEARS sans sprouts?

Ingredients

  • Fresh Brussels sprouts, about a pound. Cleaned and halved.
  • Three slices prosciutto, bacon or pancetta, chopped.
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced.
  • 3 TSP Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt/Pepper

 

TheThirtySomethingBride_Prociutto

TheThirtySomethingBride_Garlic

Instructions

If you’ve got fresh sprouts on the stalk, just twist them off. If you’ve got them in a bag, then just slice off the very tough end part and cut in half. This is after you’ve rinsed them clean.

Duh.

Put them in a bowl.

Chop up whatever pork you’re using and toss that into the bowl too. Add the diced garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

TheThirtySomethingBride_BrusselSprouts3

I opted to do mine on the grill tonight. I put them on a grill pan, but you can do this in the oven too using a regular ol’ cookie sheet.

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If you’re going to cook them on the grill, do it on low for about 20 minutes, tossing half way through to cook evenly on all sides. Do the same in the oven on broil.

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If shit happens to you when you’re cooking like it does to me…in this case I forgot to turn the grill down to low, all hope is not lost. Peel off the burned leaves and go to town. They taste good a little on the over-done side anyway.

And The Candyman gobbled them up.

FIVE YEARS.