Sunday, March 28, 2010

The non-fakeout fakeout

I woke up yesterday morning thinking that it would be like every other Saturday we've had. We stayed in bed until 9, made breakfast, and sat down on the couch flipping through the newspaper while sipping our coffee and tea. Nothing out of the ordinary here. I asked Bobby how we should spend our Saturday and he said, "Don't worry. I've got it all figured out already." So he went upstairs to shower while I putzed around on the internet for a little bit. When he returned I asked him what I should wear since he didn't seem to be willing to give up any details. "Wear something warm. We're going to be outside for a while." Hmm....could today be the day? Nah!

I decided to prepare as if that were the case anyway. I did my hair and makeup and put on something cute, in the event that there would be some photo ops later...if this was indeed the day.

We hopped in the car and I had a million different ideas running through my head. Were we going to Fort Tryon Park (one of our first date spots and really the time when we both realized this was it for us) or down to the promenade in Edgewater (the place where we should have had our first kiss but Bobby chickened out)? Was this really the day or was this just one of his many fakeouts he had planned?

The car headed over the GWB and onto the Henry Hudson North....ok, so we're heading to Fort Tryon. Is he really going to do this today or is he just messing with me?

We got up to Fort Tryon and Bobby opened the trunk to reveal that he had packed us a picnic lunch, just like the date that we had here in the summer....only about 40 degrees colder. We decided to explore the park a little more before sitting down under our tree (above, left). While taking in the rather chilly, but beautiful scenery, I explained to him how I thought today might be the day so I wore something cute just in case. He said that I should get used to this happening every weekend and that next weekend we might head up to Edgewater. I playfully hit him and called him a terd....How unfair! Toying with a girl's mind is just cruel!

After strolling through the gardens and taking a moment to look out over the Hudson at the GWB we finally headed back to our spot. Thankfully this time around there was no one there. Bobby pulled out a blanket and we sat down to enjoy yummy wraps, pickles, and my favorite, chocolate covered strawberries. I explained to him how I figured it was a fakeout and that he wasn't very nice for doing so. We stayed in the sun for about an hour before getting trampled by high school kids who didn't speak English. No, literally they were playing tag around us and one of the kids ran into us....even though they had the whole rest of the grassy area, they chose to play right on top of us.

I decided not to get bummed out, that it was kind of fun being kept on my toes with the whole ring thing and we packed up the picnic and started walking back to the car. We made it about 50 feet when Bobby realized he must have dropped his cell phone so we turned around and headed back (after I called him a dope, of course). I took out my phone to call his and told him to double check the backpack since I didn't see it on the ground. And that's when Bobby remembered he had a book in his backpack to give me. Apparently the little sneak had skipped out on his Wednesday night meeting while I was out of the area having dinner with my girlfriends and happened to go see our favorite author at his book signing.

Bobby handed me the book and I was eager to see what Harlan wrote....but, wait, this wasn't Harlan's newest book....I opened it up to read, "Melanie, Will you marry Bob?" and looked down to see Bobby on his knee with the ring in his hand. I dropped everything and hugged him while I began balling my eyes out which, ps: I never thought I'd cry at that.

Obviously, I said yes! But our day wasn't over yet.

We hopped back in the car and headed home. I was told that I could call and let people know it happened but couldn't give any details until the night was over because there was even more planned....crazyness. We got back to the house and I noticed Bailey, our rottie, was missing.....his dad came to pick her up so that we wouldn't have to worry about her all day. After a little cuddle time, we went to show my parents and sister and get the ring appraised. Everyone was ecstatic! And such a beautiful ring!

Bobby called up his parents and sisters to let them know the good news and we headed back to our house so that I could make my 4:00 nail appointment. That's right. Bobby had scheduled me to get my nails done so that they would look pretty in pictures with the ring and when I show the ring off to he not the greatest ever or what?!?

I got back from my nail appointment at 5:15 and we got dressed to go out to dinner. We had a 6:30 reservation at The Melting Pot, the place where we had our very first date. The hostess seated us in a private booth for two in the back and even brought us champagne on the house in honor of our celebration. After a wonderfully stuffing meal, we headed home and I couldn't imagine the night being any better...

Until I opened the door to find the above. There was a trail of red, white, and yellow roses leading from the front door up to our bedroom with candles lit everywhere. We had a bottle of champagne waiting for us on the dresser. When the heck did this all happen? It wasn't there when we left for dinner. Apparently Bobby had one of his friends come over to the house and set everything up while we were on our way home from dinner. Ralph had literally just finished lighting the candles when we headed up the hill to our street.

And to top everything off, my fiancee is downstairs making me strawberry covered pancakes for breakfast. I am the luckiest :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Because it was gorgeous this weekend, we decided to finally sweep off the veranda off the spare bedroom and put some patio furniture up there...granted, we had to go and purchase the new patio furniture, but it was still a worthwhile investment. After a long day of cleaning up the garden and backyard (haha who am I kidding? We hired people to do it for us while we got other things done around the house) we decided to have a couple of cocktails up in the sunshine. I had spent some time up there reading the new issue of Real Simple Weddings and whenever something interesting came up I'd be sure to read it to Bobby.

I reached the page about setting the scene at your reception. The magazine talks about lighting, decor, escort cards, and favors. These are things we've put some thought into (ok, not all of them but we've put a lot of thought into the favors...the homebrew!) Bobby had an excellent suggestion. We could use the cardboard beer caddies we've been saving from our favorite microbrews to put the homebrews in on the tables. Well, I feel like some people might think they could take all 6 beers home which is simply unacceptable. This got the creative juices flowing. We discussed using the beer bottles AS escort cards but Bobby brought up the point that guests, if we use reBar, would be climbing the stairs carrying the bottles and worried about people dropping them. Ok, guess the bottles are back on the what could we use as escort cards? And that's when it hit me...

We've been collecting beer bottle caps pretty much since we moved in. In our kitchen we have two beer glasses filled with metal caps and we have a cap cup underneath the wall mounted bottle opener in the basement bar. I decided to spread them out and take inventory.

Because we'd like to use the names of microbreweries as our table numbers, we could match their bottle caps for the escort cards. To incorporate the beer caddies, we could use the cardboard caddy faces as our table signs.


Sunday, March 21, 2010


To reBar or not to reBar....that is the question

About a month ago I decided to check out a couple of venues online. Because we're pre-engagement, I didn't want to go too crazy as I'm sure most people already think I am for planning this stuff out without a ring. When I first stumbled across the Foundry, it was during my sister's wedding planning 2 years ago. I knew in the back of my mind that this was the type of place I wanted to get married in. It wasn't until recently that I realized the cost and effort associated with having our affair there.

Don't get me wrong, this place is absolutely gorgeous...but it comes with a hefty price tag AND you have to bring in EVERYTHING! When I learned that a wedding there during the month I'd like costs $7,000 just to walk in the door, that quickly moved from the "this could possibly happen" category to the "only if we hit the lottery" category (along with Governor's Island). I took to the blogs and the forums to find a suitable alternative. Once we had decided on incorporating beer into our wedding, I knew that we needed a unique venue with exposed brick and that industrial feel to tie everything in.

And that's when we discovered reBar. The following is the way Jason, the owner, describes reBar:

What happens when you combine a reclaimed factory loft space with 15 taps, beautiful bottled Belgian beers, and an extensive by the glass wine list? The answer is clearly rebar. Situated on the second floor of Retreat, at 147 Front Street in Dumbo, Brooklyn, rebar is the surprise you've been waiting for Dumbo to produce.
Rebar must be seen first hand. We designed it to be a warm cove, an inviting living room. If we could build a fireplace in there we would, but let the candles and warm orange glow from the tulip chandeliers suffice for now. Barrel-vaulted terra-cotta ceilings and terra-cotta columns create an earthy, Spanish vibe for your gatherings and secret meetings.

How fantastic is that?!?! After reading about it and checking out pictures, I decided to send Jason an email just to see if it could potentially land in our budget. After getting the green light on price, we decided to take a trip in....if not for anything else, just to check out their extensive beer list. We gave Jason a ring just to see if he'd be around to chat, but what we got in return was so much more.

When we got there he gave us a tour of the whole place and put in for a tasting! We were like whoa this is not at all what we had anticipated doing but explained to the guy that the ring is on the way (apparently it'll be ready this month but because my sister is due, he doesn't want to take away from the baby celebration). It was crazy that they were willing to do all of that for us when there's not even a ring on my finger and it was not at all what our intentions were. We just wanted to get a beer and check out their pub food but it was an amazing experience. We were there for 4 hours and sampled so many of their beers in addition to 2 appetizers, 3 hors devours, 2 entrees, and 2 desserts. We met the chef and both of the owners and just the fact that we were excited and they were excited was amazing. After looking on other bride sites that are more catered to our area, I discovered that some brides booked that venue without ever tasting anything from there so the fact that we got all of that (and it was Comp-ed!) was incredible.....and very scary.

After our incredible experience, the dude sent Jason a wonderful email about our night there and the hospitality they showed us. He and Jason exchanged several more emails regarding beers and having a beer appreciation club there and just general friendly chit-chat. About 3 weeks passed and we decided to check it out again. The dude was so excited that he brought two of his home brews with us to share with Jason and Co (though Jason wasn't around that evening). Bernard, the maĆ®tre d’, was very happy to see us back and even sat us at the table we had our tasting at. Luke, the co-owner and beer connoisseur, stopped at our table so the dude could give him the home brews. Luke could not believe that Bobby had remembered and our first round of drinks were on him.

Before we walked into reBar for the second amazing time, we decided to walk over to Brooklyn Bridge Park, the place where most couples get married who have their reception in the DUMBO area. The downside to having it at reBar is that they don't have the kitchen or staff to do plated dinners, which is fine by me because their food is AMAZING (seriously, if you ever get the chance, try the polenta! It is to die for!). It is also several blocks from the park, down cobblestone streets, and there isn't much street parking in the area. The other downside is that Brooklyn Bridge Park is a public space so there could be complete strangers watching our ceremony.......but how can we NOT incorporate reBar after the amazing experiences we've had there?

You'll have to wait and see what we decide on :P

Monday, March 15, 2010

How to Grow Hoppy Hops...Part 1

Fortunately Spring is almost upon us...a great thing as I don't think I could handle anymore snow. We moved into the house the middle of last August so no thought had to go into the yard…until now. My father loves to spend his weekends playing in the mulch and dirt and feels that I should “take pride in my home” and do the same. If there were the extra money in the budget right now, I’d pay the gardener and sip some Summer Ale as I directed the work to be done. Alas, this is not the case, so unless I hit the lotto in the next week or two having a nice yard to have some good summer bashes in is all on us.

The easiest way for me to take ownership in something is to find a way to make a least a little part of it interesting for me, and then the rest will fall in place. So since I brew my own beer and don’t want the lawn to be brown all summer…I have opted to dedicate two of the six garden bays in the back of the property to growing hops.

Hops will grow like weeds once they are about three years old, but the first year or two you have to nurture them like a newborn – so having to water the hops daily, will mean the lawn and flowers will get tended to as well. It also means that I can take brewing to a whole new level with using homegrown ingredients. Most importantly, come harvest time next August, we will have plenty of for decorating/centerpieces/boutonnieres (and hopefully still a batch or two of brew)!

Since this is my first go at this I figured it would be fun to incorporate this new adventure into the blog. I just ordered a book to fill in the gaps of what I’ve learned online and the hop rhizomes should be shipping about mid-April. I selected Cascade and Centennial – as Cascade is one of the most versatile and I had an awesome IPA made with Centennial (that I want to replicate) when Mel and I went down to check out Triumph Brewpub in Princeton as a potential venue.

The plants should go from 6” roots to 5’ to 8’ tall this first year…so stay tuned to hear how we grow our hoppy hops!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

8 maids-a-milking

Every Tuesday night we take dance class with one of Bobby's friends and his fiancee. We had originally all hung out while watching a Giants game back in October, right after Dave proposed. They were telling us about what they had planned already for the wedding and the topic of the bridal party came up. Eight bridesmaids and eight groomsmen. Now I understand wanting to include everyone in your special day, but it's such a hard decision to make. Who stays and who goes?

This is something that I've put some thought into. I have a lot of girlfriends. I was in a sorority in college and had an additional, closer group of girls outside of my sorority who I've been friends with for the past 6 years. So when I thought about who I'd want in the bridal party, it was very difficult to figure out who stays and who goes. Thankfully I don't have to worry about the friendship ending decision of who becomes the Maid of Honor (MOH). In my case, my sister is the automatic MOH (well, matron of honor). Strike that one off of the list! And Bobby has two younger sisters that I want to be a part of our special day in addition to my friends. Thinking about everyone I'd want involved, the bridesmaids side seemed to become a ridiculously large number. It became a game of balance (I, personally, prefer an even number of bridesmaids and groomsmen). That's when I decided to limit it to my sister and his two sisters (although I had considered just having a MOH and BM).

As much as I would love to include my friends in my special day....I some other way....that I haven't fully thought out yet. Until then, this is my bridal party and I'm sticking to it :P

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Be Gentle…It’s My 1st Time… (How It Began According to Him)

…blogging that is. Melanie enjoys chronicling life's little events online, hence the birth of this blog, and as with all things, she asks and I do my best to oblige. So join me if you will through this first venture of our meeting…
Some background. Between college and spending a year working on a startup company I spent almost 6 years below the Mason Dixon. I was back living at home in NJ, working for a family business with my aunt (boss) and one other woman comprising the entire firm. I had grown apart from my high school friends with my close friends now spread across the country. With the typical options of meeting someone at work or through friends all but non-existent, and never being the type to try and pick up a future girlfriend in the bar, I turned to online dating. I gave eHarmony and Match a try over the course of 6 months…there were a lot of first dates…and not much more than that…was I the only normal person in the online dating world?
Fortunately for me, Match reverts you back to a free account after you decide to stop footing the bill. I was down in Florida on business, got back to the hotel room around 8pm or so, and with nothing to do, figured I’d peruse the site. I did a basic search and sent some winks, the limit of a free account, to a few ladies based on profiles that actually had some appeal. Generally you wink…the person either winks back or you get a kind email back saying sorry (you’re ugly) if not simply being ignored. Enter Melanie…
Rather than the typical wink back…the next day I get an email saying that I had a message….what?!? A simple wink had elicited an email…my curiosity was officially peaked. I spent 5 days hemming and hawing over whether or not to sink any more cash into the site. One night I decided to bite the bullet, plugged in my credit card and anxiously opened my message…a whole 2 lines. I quickly questioned whether it was worth it…and just weeks later I’d be telling Melanie it was the best money I ever spent.
After long nights emailing and chatting back and forth I knew I needed to (attempt) to bring my “A” game for this one and figured I needed something a little different than just dinner so I opted for the Melting Pot. I got ready, got my sister’s stamp of approval on the outfit choice for the evening, and headed out on what would be the last first date of my life.
I pull up and see a “Beware of Dog” sign on the door...better than a father with a shotgun right? I ring the bell, Melanie opens the door and the ferocious beast plops at my feet for a belly rub. She opts for flip flops over heels (had Kate steered me wrong that’s shes going casual or is there already some comfort – I need to get out of my own head)…and we were off.
Though it was an early night due to the food coma that might as well be a money back guarantee at the Melting Pot, it was a great one – the conversation never ceased nor was it dull and I knew that there was something different about this girl. I dropped her off and was barely to the end of the block when my phone binged - she had texted me to thank me for the date and give a slight dig to both of us for being in before her mother. I was always the one to send the first communication after a date…the fact that this one came so shortly after (to me) was huge.
The next morning we were chatting as I puttered around the house. After a few too many episodes of How I Met Your Mother, I put up an away message saying I was between “heading to Atlantic City to gamble or Philly to lick the Liberty Bell.” Melanie, as I have since learned, always being up for an adventure said she’d take the ride to Philly but made no promises about licking any century old metals…the compromise…popping my real Philly cheesesteak virginity. Less than 24 hours after our first date we were embarking on our second. The 2+ hour ride down and back flew by and even in the lulls in conversation it didn’t feel awkward at all…in fact, it felt like I was taking a road trip with someone I had been seeing for months.
Right before dropping Melanie off I remembered my “homework” from my mother. To find out her mother’s maiden name as my parents are from the same hometown. Homework done (along with a kiss on the cheek) I was on my way home. I reported back to ma dukes to find out that my grandmother and her’s were best friends. My grandfather had sublet a room in her grandparents home when he first moved to the area 60 years ago. Date number three was three days later, at which point it all came together…and we haven’t looked back since.
It was truly meant to be.

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Hoppy in Love" -- What the heck does that mean?

It all began back when we first started dating. Somewhere in time the conversation of beer came up. I, for one, am a beer enthusiast and was very happy to discover that Bobby shared the same sentiment. Actually, scratch that, he more than shared my sentiment, he surpassed it. Whereas the common person with a love for beer goes out and savors each flavor, Bobby decided to begin brewing his own batch. One of our earlier dates consisted of bottling his first brew in the kitchen and me winning him over with my willingness to participate and super human strength when it comes to capping (I may have exhibited too much super human strength and broke the damn thing but that's a whole other story).

From early on, beer became a common theme in our relationship and so we decided to mix it in with our wedding...more about that later. In August, Bobby bought a house. Aside from it's beautiful exterior and crazy amounts of character, it had another main selling point....a bar. Over time, the dude decided to spiff up the bar. I can now proudly say that if you want it, we'll put it on tap for ya! That's right folks. We have a fully functioning bar complete with two different taps and none of this kegerator bullshit.

When Spring officially arrives, the dude intends on planting hops in our garden to make brewing more organic and to help quell the cost of it for our centerpieces/boutonnieres.

So where does hoppy in love come into play? Well, it's a play on words (if you can't see that already) about our love and beer.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Where It All Began (According to Her)

Have you ever fallen into that rut where you find yourself at a bar on a Friday night wondering which lucky guy is going to take you home only to spend a lonely ferry ride back to your cold apartment? Ah, yes, that would be me circa January 2009. I was finishing up my masters program, student teaching, and it seemed that all of my friends were falling in love and I was left to fend for myself. After several failed attempts at a relationship I decided to focus on finishing my degree and learning to love myself. I was exploring NYC, cooking up a storm, and excited for my annual Memorial Day Weekend camping trip.

Now, when I say camping trip, I don't mean any of this RV, bring your plasma tv to hook up to the digital cable and sit your ass on a couch all weekend in nature, kind of camping. I'm talking legitimate no electricity, no running water, no cell phone service camping. This particular year one of my good friends decided to join and brought along the guy she was seeing. Katie and Ed had met on and had been seeing each other for about a month by the time we took the 6 hour drive up to the Finger Lakes. Normally, it's a "the more the merrier" type of atmosphere but this year I happened to notice that I was surrounded by couples. I was the only single person over the age of 21 and not liking it. Shortly after returning home I decided to bite the bullet and join Match. Everyone was doing it, right?

Two weeks into my online dating endeavor and it was Miserable Dates: 3, Happy Relationship: 0. I understand that these things take time, but I'm terribly impatient. Here's the thing about Match: in order to reap the benefits, you need a paid account. After several days of winking back and forth with guys and getting nowhere, I decided to make this a criteria. If you couldn't read my email and reply, then obviously you weren't a serious taker. Simple idea, right? Well, that's what I originally thought. I suppose I overestimated how many people had paid accounts. A guy would wink, I'd send an email, and then I'd wait....and wait...and wait...and never get a response. I decided to shorten my emails. Why should I waste my time, carefully planning out how to give the best first impression when 9 times out of 10 the person didn't have access to it?

Enter Bobby.

I had logged in just like any other day. I checked my messages and then moved on to the winks. I always had the courtesy of reading the other person's profile and picking out something I liked to write about. Bobby happened to write that he was a fan of Harlan Coben. Bingo! He's one of my favorite authors. I sent him a quick message of "Harlan Coben is my hero" and that's when it all began. Throughout my miserable dates, I would come home and tell Bobby about all of the pathetic things guys did. He would politely listen and humor me with a response putting down the knuckleheads I chose. After two weeks of emailing back and forth, our schedules finally matched up and we went out to dinner.

This first date was different than all of the others. Bobby picked me up at my house, normally something I would NEVER do. He came to the door and escorted me to his car. He even opened the door for me, something I was not at all used to. The only thing that would have made the initial impression better was if he brought flowers...though that may have creeped me out. We had a great first date at The Melting Pot. We both were too full to move and decided to call it an early night. I gave him a hug and scurried up the stairs to my house. Within minutes I sent him a text thanking him for the evening and joking about how my mother was still out.

The next morning we decided to make plans for another date. Bobby had never had a Philly cheesesteak and I was feeling adventurous so that's what we did. We went on a long adventure down to Philly. The two hour car ride flew by and the conversation never ended. We talked about our childhood, college, family, everything. I learned that his parents grew up in my hometown and went to the same high school as my mother. He learned that I can't pass up the opportunity to sing along to the radio. Together we learned that 4 hours in a car with someone can make a pretty great second date.

"But Melanie, this story sounds pretty lame....get to the good stuff."

Ok, Ok here's the best part. After discovering our parents grew up in the same town, Bobby asked his parents if they knew my mother. The conversation went a little something like this:

The Dude: "Hey ma, I met this kickass girl who claims her mom went to HHHS around the same time as you."
Mama O: "Oh yea? What's her mom's maiden name?"
The Dude: "Lenox.....sound familiar?"
Mama O: " know Millie?"
The Dude: "You mean Gran's Bff?"
Mama O: "That's the one.....You must have gone on a date with her granddaughter"

Yes, that's right folks. Bobby and I have known each other since before we were both born. His grandmother is my grandmother's bff. His gma used to come see my plays in high school and my gma used to tell me all about what's going on in Grace's life. I used to get yelled at by my gma because "Grace's grandson calls her from college".

And so it was meant to be.

So This Is Love....

After spending many an hour on the various wedding time wasting websites, I've decided to begin our journey through a wonderful blog. My goodness! So many ideas, so little time.....that's a lie. According to, we have 529 days until our wedding. "529 Days?!?! But Melanie, you're still ring-less" Pshaw! It's coming. I know it. He knows it. The parentals know it. And now all of you wonderful people in blog world know it.