Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mm Mm Good!

The last big vendor that we have to schedule for our wedding is the food. I don't know if you are aware of this, but food is expensive! Many menus that we looked included something like the following: "A grain of rice, 1/8 a piece of chicken and a thimbleful of sauce: $85. Forks: extra. Knives: extra. Plates: priceless."

We didn't want to have super fancy food - that's not really our style. But wanted to have some passed appetizers that were delish, and some solid dinner food too. I am actually all about the snacks beforehand and the dessert afterwards, so that is my focus. ;)

Our site gave us a solid list of preferred caterers that they had worked with before, and so we started there. Many of the places sounded too fancy pants for us, except one, which was called BBQ Boys. We kind of liked the idea of BBQ (something we love), it was well within the budget and it would fit our desire to have something casual. After all, this is pretty much a backyard wedding.

We started doing a bit of research on them on They only got 3 stars (out of 5), so I started reading the reviews. Hard bread. Raw meat. Lackluster service. No thank you!! They're off the list!

We went back to the list and just started emailing. We heard back from a company and scheduled a tasting, which we went to yesterday. We asked Em and Nick to come with us - second opinions are always important! It was quite a setup. They had a table for 4 set up for us, complete with linens, plates, etc. We went through their entire proposed menu, which included 4 appetizers that were TO DIE FOR!!! Some of the deliciousness included....

Freshly baked sourdough bread
Tuna Tar Tar on a toasted pita chip (topped with finely chopped and marinated olives)
Chain Tacos (marinated taco meat on a tortilla chip)
Cinnamon chicken salad on a brown butter crostini (topped with creme fresh)
Toasted baguette with melted gorganzola cheese and a poached pear and toasted pecans


The dinner part was good too (Like I said, I love my appetizers and my dessert!)

2 yummy salads
Chicken Piccata
Wild Rice Pilaf
Braised Beef tenderloin
MASHED POTATOES!!!!! (Those were so good - she had to bring us a second bowl...)

She was willing and able to change/adapt the dishes to fit our needs (less anchovies in the caesar dressing please...and onions on the side for Rick!!)

We sent them an email last night asking them to cater for the wedding. As soon as we hear back, it will be confirmed: all of our big vendors are DONE!!!

Emily and Nick were up, we also reunited the puppies - Zoe and Taiko. They love love LOVED seeing each other. I wasn't there when they first saw each other again but I guess they were pretty tripped out (probably not used to seeing doggies their own size!) They ran around and tackled each other all afternoon!! Taiko is quite the tank, but Zoe definitely held her own!! I am glad that they will have each other to play with every now and then. We are looking forward to bringing them to SB for our engagement photos in a few months - I hope they love the ocean!!
We are still working on figuring out when Taiko needs to go outside - it's miraculous that he still has to "go" even after not having food and drink for a few hours. It's enough to blow your mind! But he has been really good so far.

It's funny because we live on the top floor of our condo, and for the past few days, Taiko hasn't walked up the stairs . He was pretending he couldn't or he was just being lazy...I think he just didn't realize how big he was. So, when Zoe was here yesterday, I look, and she is hauling butt up the stairs! I told Taiko - "she's smaller than you! You can definitely do this." But still, he would stop at the stairs, even if we went up and offered him a treat. He likes to go under the stairs, not up them....

So last night, out of nowhere, we were coming back in from Taiko's bathroom trip, and he just starts going up the stairs! We were so proud! Then this morning, I went to the trash bins to throw out the doggie bags, and I look back - Taiko is nowhere to be seen. After a moment of panic, I look towards the house. Taiko is going up the stairs. He was done with being outside, and so he started to head back on his own!! So funny! I knew he could do it - the big faker!

He's been an awesome addition to the family

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Taiko The Tank

Recently, our wonderful friends Emily and Nick, decided to expand their family. They adopted puppy Zoe Rose last Saturday, and promptly brought her over for a visit...
Needless to say, I about melted. She is a beautiful golden retriever who has the sweetest temperament and face - I died. As Em and Nick talked more about their experience, and conversations with the breeder, I became convinced: we should get a puppy too.

Mike and I have talked about getting a dog for some time (about the last year or so). We both love dogs (just one at a time though...) but were drawn to the big breeds (Goldens were #1 on my list, while Mike loves Labs). We didn't think that we could have a larger dog because we don't have a yard, so the doggie would have to be primarily indoors.

Em and Nick quelled that concern. The breeder they went with actually breeds service dogs, and so they are a line that is used to being mellow, and left alone if that is what their owner's needs are. She gave them some suggestions for their living arrangement, and it sounded totally doable!

Last night, Mike and I called the same breeder and asked if they still had a girl left. She said they did, and that she was the last one of the litter! Clearly, this was meant to be. I called Mike immediately (right as the bell for my class was ringing) and talked to all of the kids - "We're getting a dog!!!" They were all excited, and talked about ways for the puppy to spend its day with us, here at Fremont.

Mike and I went right after work to pick up supplies. We knew we were jumping the gun, but who can turn down an excuse to go to Costco? (wink wink) We also headed over to PetsMart and got some more stuff that Costco didn't carry - we were ready for our baby!! We called her to see what time would be good for us to come over. She said around 7:30, and also said that she had been mistaken about something:

The last puppy was a boy...

We had about an hour to kill, so we went home. I wasn't really sure what to do. I started thinking, why do I need to have a girl dog? What is wrong with a dude doggie? Mike had no preference, and said that it was up to me. I went online and did some research about the difference between males and females. These are the main differences:
  • The obvious difference :)
  • Size (males are typically 15-20 lbs. larger)
  • Males are often more affectionate whereas females tend to be more independent
The things that I might have been worried about with a boy dog can be "cured" by having them neutered as soon as possible.

We decided to go ahead and check him out.

Of course, when we walked through the door and saw him, by himself, it was done.

We chose the name Taiko after visiting a street faire in SF this weekend. They were having a Taiko show. I love, love, love Taiko. it is so badass, yet elegant and graceful at the same time. That is exactly what I would want out of a doggie. Plus, the name fits him, because he is HUGE!!!!! The breeder called him "chunky monkey." And on our way out whispered to us that he liked hot dogs....

Welcome to the family Taiko!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Our Ministainer!

Mike and I put a lot of thought into considering who we wanted to perform our ceremony. Because neither of us are particularly/strictly religious, and because we are not getting married in a church, we had a lot of freedom in this area. We wanted to have someone close to us be the one to pronounce us man and wife (ahhh!!!!) in the spirit of wanting our wedding to really be a celebration of us and our friends.

So, we were waffling back and forth between a few people, knowing that each of them would bring something special and amazing to the day. One of the people has known us literally since day 1 (Mike asked me to officially be his girlfriend the night before this person's wedding - and I met him 1 minute later) and another has been in Mike's life for as long as he can remember. We wanted them both to be a part of the wedding in some way, so it was just a matter of how.

A few nights ago, Mike asked our friend, Brian, to officiate our ceremony. He was clearly taken aback, and already nervous - concerned that his emotions would get in the way and "embarrass" us. He said that he needed some time to think about it.

Just now, I see the following message on Brian's Facebook page:

"I need to get an "officiant for the day" licence.

Don't play with our emotions, Smoky. You better be getting that for us. (I just confirmed on Facebook @ 10:34 p.m. Brian WILL be marrying us!!!)


Monday, September 21, 2009

1,000 Paper Cranes

So, Mike and I decided (after his cousin Ginger so generously offered to help...) that we are going to incorporate the Japanese tradition of having 1,000 origami cranes as a part of our wedding. It is said that he who folds 1,000 paper cranes will have their heart's desire. Score!

My dad has offered to fold 1/2 of these cranes (this is right up his ally!), and Mike's cousin Ginger will do some as well. We will definitely be folding some ourselves, but want everyone to feel the love ;)

Mike chose some origami paper to order, and it arrived today!! He started to work right away


Chose the Venue!

So, this post is coming a bit late - as the blog wasn't created until AFTER we had done a lot of the fun planning for our wedding. So, let's back it up a bit.

Mike and I put a lot of thought about where to have our wedding. Santa Barbara has so much meaning to both of us, and to us as a couple, so naturally we started there. The day we got back from Santa Barbara (for my friend's bachelorette) I started looking at places and contacting them. Within the day, I was rethinking it (Mike was at work - he comes in later...) We don't really know people in SB anymore, so each planning trip we would make would mean a long drive, getting a hotel room, eating out, etc. I loved the idea of having an excuse to travel down there, but I realized that with our busy schedules, it would probably be more of a pain that it would be fun and rewarding.

Onto the next choice.

We moved on to thinking about our next favorite place: wine country. We love going on weekend or even day trips to Napa and are members at several wineries there. I was going to the spa with my mom in Sonoma one weekend, and so we decided to look there as well. On my way down, I was talking to my friend Emily about her wedding (which was fast approaching in just a few weeks) I was telling her about some of the rates that these places were charging for food and renting the space etc. It was quite a shock, but then again, I didn't know any better. She quickly set me on the right track. It would cost close to 60% of our budget to just feed people at our wedding - definitely not happening. So, we found ourselves back in square one.

We started looking more seriously at places in San Jose. The convenience of that idea became more and more appealing the more we talked about it. After all, aren't weddings supposed to be a fun, and joyous celebration? I already know that I will be getting sick from excitement the day of (as I have since I was a kid!) No need to have that happen every step of the way!

While we were Truckee for Emily's wedding, I was feverishly emailing places, feeling the time crunch coming down (our wedding at this point was less than one year away) I heard back immediately from two places: Hotel Valencia in Santana Row and Bella Montagna.

Each of these places had their own appeal for very different reasons.

Hotel Valencia is in the middle of a very posh outdoor shopping and dining area in downtown San Jose. Mike and I frequent the area restaurants and wine bar, and have been known to window shop amongst the Gucci, Burberry and Prada stores. The hotel is Asian themed, and very modern, both things that we loved. The ceremony could take place outside in a courtyard and then we would move inside to party. Plus, it had the additional benefit of being a hotel - so our guests wouldn't have to go far from getting ready to the wedding and then to bed!

Bella Montagna is actually a private home in the hills of South San Jose. It is called an "Italian style villa" by its owners, and boasts views of the valley and Santa Cruz mountains on a clear day. (See below)

It has an intimate feel, as the ceremony and reception would take place on the lawn and cocktail hour on the patio alongside the house. They also have a small vineyard, which was dripping with bright purple grapes when we visited.

Lawn - where the ceremony would take place

Our first visit was to Hotel Valencia - a site that I was convinced I would love. However, when we walked in, it just didn't feel right. We met the wedding planner and she walked us to the outdoor space where the ceremony would take place. Again - just didn't feel right. It was very cavernous, and almost too big for what Mike and I had been talking about. Additionally, when I looked up, what did I see? People's patios from their rooms. I didn't know how I felt about random people watching our wedding, or smoking stogies on their patio during our vows... Then we walked into the reception space, and for me, the deal was sealed. It felt like a conference area that I have been in as a part of a school professional development opportunity. It was cold, unwelcoming, and needed too much in the way of decorations. The walls were bare, the ceiling bare, the chairs - you got it! - bare. We walked out and I was pretty let down. I just wanted to find the place, and know it was right.

Onto Bella Montagna.

I had actually gone there before a few days prior to visiting the Valencia. (while Mike was bowling - he had already missed a few games and didn't want to let his team down. Such commitment!!) I remember calling Mike and saying, "this place is sick!" But I didn't want to get too attached to it because 1) Mike wasn't there and 2) I was set on the Valencia. After our let down at the hotel, I just hoped beyond hope that this would work out. We pulled the car through the wooden gates, and were greeted by Marcia - the wedding planner for the site. She walked us through all of the property and I fell more and more in love with it the longer we stayed there. We sat down to go through the particulars and after a moment without Marcia - Mike and I agreed that this was it!!

We sent in the contract, and Bella Montagna is ours for July 17, 2010!! Be there - 5:00 sharp!

I have included a few pictures so that you can get a sense of the place -


Monday, September 7, 2009

Here We Go...

Tonight I decided that it might be cool to start a blog to chronicle the journey of the next year of our lives and beyond. I realize every year more and more, that life is so fleeting, and I forget so much and so much just leaves me in the dust before I have a chance to savor its happening at all. This year has particularly inspired me to start chronicling my shenanigans because on July 27, 2010, I will be Ms. Stephanie Griesmer no more. That's right. Mike and I are getting married.

He proposed on July 27 at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, at the end of Emily's bachelorette party weekend. It was 5 years in the making and was the most amazing moment of my life.
See some fun pictures on the right -

We are so blessed and thankful that our closest friends (most of them, anyway) were the to experience it with us. I am also sooo thankful that we got it on video!

So I guess this blog is for me, and for you too, if you care. I need to savor the moments that make life wonderful! So let the fun begin!

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