Christmas Decorating

by Clarissa ~ December 7th, 2010

The weekend after Thanksgiving, Zachary and I decorated our house for Christmas. I wound the railing with lights and garland and hung ornaments from the garland.

Then I hung the wreaths on our door. Sadly, the space between the door and screen door was too small, so I hung it on the inside of the door and put a smaller wreath on the outside.

Next was the tree. Zachary and I had decided to buy an artificial Christmas tree to avoid the hassle of a real one. (Hauling one with our small car to our house, the allergy issues that come with it, and disposal after it has dried up and died makes a real tree not so appealing.) Since that decision, we have been in the market for an artificial Christmas tree, but haven’t gotten one yet. We have hit up a few aunts and uncles to see if they have an extra tree, but haven’t succeeded in mooching one. In the meantime, I decided to decorate our palm tree.

Wedding Flowers

by Clarissa ~ June 10th, 2010

Flowers were another one of my favorite things to pick out for our wedding. Zachary and I decided to work with my multi-talented neighbor, Rick, across the street for the bouquets and boutineers. We met with Rick on a Wednesday afternoon at what turned out to basically be a giant fridge. Rick, Zachary and I walked through giant coolers full of many different kinds of flowers. Rick showed us the flowers that were the best for bouquets. We decided to go with Sahara and Murano-colored roses, stargazer lilies, calla lilies and a few other flowers that I can’t remember the names.

For the church and reception hall flowers, I decided to go with potted flowers. They’re fun to plant, look beautiful, are cheaper then buying cut flowers, and I can keep them around longer. My former gardening boss, Anna, had some metal pots that needed a little refurbishing and some paint that she said I could have for planting flowers. My mom and I went through a catalog to get some basic flowers and vines while my sister and I went to a local flower stand to get the decorative annuals. We picked Vinca Vine, Coleus, Potato Vine, Spike, Impatients, Bacopa, and a few others. The pots were very rusty, so Mom, Colette and I sanded them down and bought spray paint to make them look new. Colette planted the flowers in small pots for me and we figured out how to arrange those in the big metal pots. I am very excited about all the flowers at the wedding and hope everyone enjoys them!

Kohl’s Registry

by Zachary ~ May 5th, 2010

After our low-tech encounter at the Corelle store, we tried our luck at Kohl’s. We had browsed around the store the evening before to get a feel for what they had. We decided that it would be worthwhile. For example, Clarissa was just short of giddy that she had found green bath towels that I liked at Kohl’s. We walked back to Customer Service, and they set us up with a barcode scanning gun.

At first, I was disappointed with the gun. It was not nearly as fancy as the one we had used at Target. (It only had a small two-line readout that showed nothing decipherable unlike the touchscreen display at Target.) However, as I played with it more, I realized that it was strikingly similar to a Star Trek phaser. I took a picture of it with my phone, and Clarissa shook her head and pretended not to know me. We continued scanning items. I shot her a few times like I had done at Target. It had no effect. However, every time I pulled the trigger, a nice horizontal bar flickered across the back of Clarissa’s head. It was just like a phaser set for a wide dispersal pattern. I must say that it was more satisfying than the tight horizontal line that the Target gun produced.

After we had registered for all of our items, we walked back to Customer Service to return the phaser. As we were waiting in line, I turned the phaser over and discovered that it was in fact a phaser! It had a label on the bottom that said “Phaser” and had additional information about the model. I pulled out my phone again and tried to take a picture of the label. Unfortunately the close-up shot just wouldn’t focus, and they all turned out blurry. Clarissa stood there and stared, but then she reached into her purse and pulled out her digital camera and took a picture of the label for me. When we got to the front of the line, the employee took the scanner and came around and attached it to the registry kiosk so it could upload our scanned items into the database. It gave us a printout of the items we had registered for. The last item showed up as an unknown barcode. I think it may have been the back of Clarissa’s head.

As with Target and Corelle, please feel free to browse our Kohl’s Registry.

Corelle Registry

by Zachary ~ May 5th, 2010

Last Saturday, Clarissa and I took a trip out to the Albertville Outlet Mall to visit the Corningware/Corelle/Revere store. We were most interested in checking out the Corelle dishes, which both of our families have used at home for many years. We wandered around the store checking out the different patterns available for the Corelle dishes. I was pretty set on going with plain white, but I decided to attempt to keep an open mind and look over the patterns for Clarissa’s sake. I found some that I liked but none that I would want to have. It will be a sore spot in our marriage. In 10 years, we will have a conversation that will go something like this:

“Clarissa, please don’t leave your clothes all over the floor.”
“Deal with it. I have to deal with our plain, white, boring Corelle dishes every day!”

After we had looked over the store, we found an employee and inquired about adding items to our registry. She pulled out a three-ring binder from behind the counter. We explained that we had already set up a registry on the World Kitchen website and had been told that we would be able to access it in the store. Next she walked over to a computer, tried to log onto it a few times, shut the machine down while trying to reboot it, fumbled around looking for the power button, booted the computer, launched a web browser, and told us we could add items to our registry on the computer. Clarissa and I were a little confused. We asked if there were a way to add items to our registry using a barcode scanner like we had done at Target. The woman looked confused and said she didn’t think we could do that. We thanked her and said we would add the items ourselves from home. We walked around the store and made note of the items that we were interested in adding to our registry. Then we left, browsed a few more stores at the mall, and headed back to Maple Grove to visit Kohl’s.

The Corelle Registry is up, and the items can be purchased at the outlet mall or online. However, if you do go to the mall, we recommend you print out the registry first. Just in case.

Selecting a Hotel

by Zachary ~ May 3rd, 2010

Last week, I called to discuss group rates for the hotels in Maple Grove. It was quite convenient because one woman named Megan was able to get me the information for all of the hotels in the area. After getting the availability and pricing for the hotels, Clarissa and I decided that the Courtyard Marriott was the best option. (We apologize to those of you who wanted to make use of the water park at the Holiday Inn next door.) We thought the rates were a little steep, but after getting a tour of the Marriott, Clarissa and I felt they were justified. It has a nice restaurant and bar on the main level. Many of the rooms have balconies, and all of the rooms are silent. Megan explained that the concrete construction dampens just about all sound. We secured group rates for standard king and double queen rooms. All of the rooms have microwaves, mini fridges, and free Internet. The hotel also has an indoor swimming pool, an outdoor hot tub, a fitness center, and free laundry facilities. As far as inexpensive lodging goes, the moral of this story is not to get married in Maple Grove. The hotel address and reservation links are now available.

Wedding Cakes

by Clarissa ~ May 2nd, 2010

I think one of my favorite wedding “chores” was to go wedding cake tasting. I liked tasting cakes, designing cakes, and talking about cakes! Zachary and I were surprised at how similar our tastes in cakes were. (No pun intended.)

Zachary and I visited three wedding cake places before making our decision.

We knew about Dobo’s Cafe & Bakeshop‎ because my family buys the best buns from there. Zachary and I met with Sandy, the cake lady at Dobos. She was very nice and friendly and has been making cakes since she was 15. (She has a daughter in college now.) Sandy was great at helping us decide what we wanted our cake to look and taste like. She had little cupcakes for us to taste and even made us a few specially requested cupcakes of the type we liked.

The second place we visited was Queen of Cakes. We met with Elizabeth, who was very nice and was also great to work with. She talked with us about our cake and what we liked. She brought out a plate with slices of about six different kinds of cakes. All of them were delicious.

Our last cake place was Cakes for All Occasions, recommended to me by a friend from church. Diane is the woman that owns and creates the cakes. She used to have a cafe and cake shop in Minneapolis, but has since moved the cake business to her home. Diane was very nice and had the cupcakes ready for us to taste when we arrived. While tasting them, we learned that the cupcakes we were tasting had been frozen for two months but they tasted like they were fresh! Her cakes, she let us know, would not be frozen at all before it was served at our wedding so it would taste the best then.

It was a tough choice, and all the cakes we tasted were good, but in the end we decided to have our cake made by Cakes for All Occasions. We hope you enjoy it!

Ashley and Brian’s Wedding

by Clarissa ~ April 30th, 2010

Zachary and I were invited to a wedding for two of my college friends. Ashley, the bride, was my roommate for three years in college and a friend since freshman year. I met Brian, her now husband, at the end of sophomore year after they started dating.

Ashley and Brian got married April 18, 2010, and what a great day it was! The weather was a bit chilly, but it was very sunny. The ceremony was in a cute chapel in Glenview, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago. I got to read the second reading (1 Corinthians 13) and the intercessions. Ashley’s dress was very pretty, and Brian looked very handsome in his tux!

Using Zachary’s navigational skills (his Blackberry) and my driving skills, we got to the reception in time and intact. The reception was Disney-themed and Ashley and Brian wore wedding Mickey Mouse ears.

Zachary and I sat at the Buzz Lightyear table with Duey, Tiff, Stacie, Megan, Cait and Allison. All happen to be college friends of mine. When dinner was served, there seemed to be no end to the plates of food that were put on our table and everything was delicious! After diner came the dancing! I have to say that the DJ was a great one. He kept guests dancing all night. We left the reception pleasantly happy, very full, and with a few extra people to bring back to the hotel.

Ashley and Brian’s wedding was a very nice, fun wedding. Congratulations to the happy couple and Zachary and I wish you all the best in your new life together!

Target Registry

by Zachary ~ April 28th, 2010

Last Saturday, Clarissa and I went to the Plymouth Target to add items to our Club Wedd registry. We had created the registry online the previous week and added a few items to it, but finding items on the Target website was not entirely easy. Going into the store worked out much better. When we arrived, we asked for a barcode scanning gun linked to our registry. Then we got to walk around the store, point the gun at merchandise, and pull the trigger.

I was particularly pleased to find a white wastebasket for our registry. (The alligators and polka dots we found online just weren’t to my taste.) Clarissa was pleased to find juice pitchers that just didn’t seem to be available online either. We had much better luck looking at the sheets and comforters in the store and selected something quite nice. We had similar luck with towels and washcloths. However, our barcode scanner was convinced momentarily that the washcloths that we liked were actually Pyrex measuring cups. The scanner also informed us that the dishtowels were seasonal and could not be added. It worked better the second time. Carrying around the gun was enough for one shopper to ask where he might find water softener salt. When we informed him that we were only registering for our wedding, he apologized, congratulated us, and went in search of an employee in red.

The barcode scanning gun is quite a bit of fun to play with, and I recommend it for anyone who is working on a registry. It makes a satisfying beep every time you shoot a piece of merchandise. However, there are a few things that could make it better. The most important of these is a holster. After walking around the store for a while, I decided to try to add Clarissa to the registry. The gun did not beep, and nothing appeared on the screen. Clarissa insists that it is because you just can’t put a price on her. I am pretty sure I just didn’t find the barcode. Eventually I started to tire on the whole registry thing, and I tried to shoot myself. It was similarly ineffective.

The good news is that the bulk of the registry is complete, and you are free to browse.

Engaged Encounter Retreat

by Zachary ~ April 14th, 2010

Clarissa and I went on a Catholic Engaged Encounter Retreat. It was an overnight retreat from February 13 to 14 at the Christ the King Retreat Center. It was a great opportunity for Clarissa and me to get away from the distractions of life and spend some time focusing on our relationship and our upcoming marriage.

Two couples and a priest led the retreat and gave the talks. One of the couples was unable to stay for the second day so we got a new couple the morning of the second day. The presentations included topics like finances, raising children, intimacy and sex, natural family planning, and prayer. The format of the weekend really was conducive to growing as a couple. We listened to the presentation. When the talk was over, we wrote about the talk focusing on the provided discussion questions. After a period of writing, Clarissa and I joined up in our discussion room and read what the other wrote. When we were done, we would discuss what we had written and the topic as a whole.

Many of the presentations were quite good, and the personal witness and examples that the couples provided really helped put the lifelong commitment that is marriage in perspective. One unexpected, but very neat, aspect of the retreat were the experiences that the priest had to offer. He talked about his “marriage” with us, the Church, and it very similarly mirrored what the two couples were talking about in their own marriages.

The accommodations at the retreat center were quite nice, and the food was pretty good. Meals were really our only opportunity to socialize with other couples on the retreat. Even though Clarissa and I had roommates in our (separate) rooms, we really did not have much time to get to know them. However, that did not feel like too big of a deal because of how much Clarissa and I grew as a couple over the course of the weekend.

Engagement Photos

by Clarissa ~ December 13th, 2009

We selected a photographer for our wedding and as part of her package, we received an engagement photo session. Our engagement pictures were scheduled for Sunday, October 18 at Elm Creek Park Reserve, and of course a week before, the weather forecast predicted rain. Luckily, it was a beautiful day and only just a little soggy. Our photographer, Casey Funk, was great at finding places to sit or stand where we could take pictures. Zachary and I had a great time. Casey was really good at making us feel comfortable, and we all laughed a lot. It seemed like everyone else had the same idea of taking photos at Elm Creek Park Reserve that day. We saw at least four different groups having their pictures taken. At one point, we came across a couple photographing their baby and even saw my friend’s aunt and family. Zachary and I are happy with our photos and look forward to working with Casey again on our wedding day.