Winery Wedding

On September 14, my son and his beautiful bride were married in Alameda, California, in a Winery Wedding. It was a lovely ceremony in a stunning location and everything went absolutely right. It was a very personal wedding that perfectly reflected the bride and groom and it was the special day we all hoped it would be.

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Intro Pic 2

The venue for the wedding was Rock Wall Winery, which is located on the grounds of the decommissioned Alameda Naval Air Station. The winery itself is in an old hangar, and the grounds include a geodesic dome and a tasting room. It was an eclectic place to hold the wedding — and totally cool.

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Rockwall Winery

When we arrived at the winery, we were greeted by a lovely welcome table. The bride’s mother found many of the ideas for the decorations online — she became a close personal friend of Pinterest — and the result was perfect for our kids.

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Intro Table

Inside the tasting room, there were more decorations and lots of Rock Wall wine.

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Bar Deco

The “table assignments” were hung on a clothesline with a display of special photos.

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Dinner Cards

The table assignments were actually times to visit — you guessed it! — the food truck for our dinner. (But I’m ahead of myself here.)

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Food Truck 2

After a short cocktail hour, we moved to the area for the ceremony. Rock Wall’s staff sets up a circle of wine casks on racks with chairs inside of the circle. The platform is in the exact right place so that the San Francisco skyline can be seen behind the wine casks.

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Ceremony Setup

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Platform

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Platform 2

The bride and groom were serenaded by the East Bay Brass Band as they left the wedding enclosure. It was a joyous experience!

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Band

You can see the bubbles floating in the air with the hangar in the background.

The bride and groom met the guests in an informal receiving line — this is me and Music Man getting our hugs.GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Receiving Line

The geodesic dome was set with tables and chairs and guests also congregated outside on the deck and in the tasting room.

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Dome Deco

The bride’s family went to the San Francisco Flower Mart to find the perfect flowers for the informal arrangements. They were stunning and were exactly right for the venue. The dinosaur at each table setting is a reminder of a special story from the couple’s courtship.

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Centerpiece 3

The vases, votives, and cake stands were collected from the bride’s family home and from vintage shops.

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Centerpiece

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Centerpiece (2)

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Cake Table

As the sun set in the west over San Francisco, we went to the food truck to pick up our meal. There were four options, including a gourmet burger, a vegetarian burger, a seafood po’boy, and a crab cake. The meal was served in recyclable containers and there were no dishes to wash — just a LOT of wine glasses!

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Food Truck 3

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Sunset

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Skyline 2GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding View from Dome

With nightfall, the dome took on a new life — and the dancing began.

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Centerpiece 2

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Dance

The bride and groom completed the ritual of the cupcake…

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Cake Table 2


Image credit:Kathryn Rummel

… and they lived happily ever after.


Image credit: Kathryn Rummel

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and suddenly it was our thirty-first wedding anniversary. Music Man brought home gorgeous flowers and I decided to build our own version of the Winery Wedding centerpiece.

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Anniversary Flowers

Any flower arrangement for a sentimental occasion in our house starts with alstroemeria — “our wedding flower.” The hydrangeas and roses are reminiscent of Tim and Mallory’s flowers, and the fragrant stargazer lilies are my favorite.

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Anniversary 4

I put the arrangement in the crystal punch bowl from my next door neighbor’s estate; once again, I don’t know why anyone would give up this vintage beauty.

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Anniversary 2

I added mercury glass votives and a souvenir Rock Wall champagne flute, plus a bottle of lovely rosé  that I brought home from California with me.

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Anniversary 1

The whole vignette is sitting on a sheer napkin and my favorite thrifted silver tray and creates a beautiful reminder of two weddings.

The Bottom Line

I am obviously enamored of the event that Tim and Mallory created, but I also share it today to encourage other brides and grooms to think outside of the box when making plans for their perfect day. Although this wedding had many disparate pieces, with good planning and organizing the day was exactly what they had envisioned. I’m still basking in the glow of their special day and their obvious love for one another.

Tim and Mallory used Paperless Post for their invitations, and created a gift registry using Honeyfund. They plan to honeymoon on at least three continents (or until the money runs out) and are thankful that friends and family honored them with gifts of travel rather than toasters. The digital options available through these services made their communication with friends and family timely as well as eco-friendly and relatively frugal.

GotMyReservations -- Winery Wedding Kiss

I am grateful to my brother Steve and my friend Steve for taking most of these photos during the wedding. Our photographer, Kathryn Rummel, also has an extraordinary eye, and Tim and Mallory’s wedding photos can be viewed on her KReate Photography Facebook page if you want more Winery Wedding!

I’m linking up this week at Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life, We Call It Olde at We Call It Junkin’Let’s Dish with Cuisine Kathleen Open House Party with No Minimalist Here,  and Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch. Be sure to visit these creative bloggers for lovely photos and inspiration.

Got my bags, got my reservations,
Spent each dime I could afford.
Like a child in wild anticipation,
I long to hear that, “All aboard!”

Music and lyrics by Bud Green, Les Brown and Ben Homer (1944)

Cloth or Paper? That Is the Question…

You thought I was talking about diapers, right? Surprise, surprise! We’re going to talk about napkins today.

These napkins from Pottery Barn are perfect for Fourth of July and can also be used all year round.

I started using cloth napkins almost exclusively when my children were small. They were past the smash-the-food-in-your-mouth stage, but not much.

This is not either of my kids, but I couldn’t resist the combination of this child’s face and the devilish editing done to the photo.

My school lunch box was often a topic of conversation at the teacher lunch table as I pulled out my cloth napkin and stainless steel silverware from home. It just made my 15 minute lunch “hour” feel a little more luxurious and also protected my clothing from spills. Our staff spent a lot of money (that could have been used more effectively on FOOD) to supply our staff lunchroom with paper napkins and plastic silverware that were just thrown away, adding more to the chronic waste disposal problem. When I was done with my lunch, I washed my silverware and containers, put everything back in my lunchbox, and I was ready to pack a new lunch for the next day — it was a win-win. If my kids were still at home, I’d do my best to send them with cloth napkins to school as well.

Click into the link for a tutorial on how to make your own napkins for your children’s lunch boxes.

So, when a friend recently put out the question on Facebook whether or not people used cloth napkins, I was the first to chime in. I told my napkin stories and read the comments of others, but I didn’t actually tell her how many napkins I have.

But because you are my peeps  in the real-world, bare-my-soul platform that is my blog, I’m going to go public.

I don’t know how many napkins I have. I have lots.

GotMyReservations - A Nice Italian Red

I have eight of these.

GotMyReservations -- Celebrating Storks and Babies

I have eight of these.

I have eight of these.

GotMyReservations - 4th of July Glass and Napkin

I have eight of these, too.

GotMyReservations - Cloth Napkins

I have 32 of the green napkins — eight of each pattern — and you’ll see those next week. I have yet to put these away in my stash because I’m using them for a party. I have big plans for those Waverly green and brown ones as well.

GotMyReservations - Linens Stash

Unlike some of you, I haven’t built on an extra room in my house to store my stash, but this is only part of my collection.

This post started this morning when I was ironing these napkins. I have twenty of them and a matching tablecloth, all from Tuesday Morning.

GotMyReservations -- Fruit Napkins

Beautiful French-style cloth napkins with a border print from Tuesday Morning.

There’s a certain calm to ironing linens which I enjoy, and it brought back memories of working side-by-side with my mother. She taught me how to sprinkle (remember sprinklers?) the napkins prior to ironing and stack them up so that they share the moisture. They were much easier to iron after sprinkling, but today I just spray them with my spray bottle from Walgreens. Not quite as romantic as these mid-century laundry tools.

Anyone remember this stuff?

My new napkins had a lot of sizing in them, so I washed and ironed the whole set together. They will get softer and softer and require less ironing the more that I use them.

I was shopping for a shower gift this afternoon for a new bride. She chose beautiful napkins and placements that are 100% polyester. I put them in my shopping cart at Bed Bath and Beyond, but after trundling them around for a while, I went back and put them away. I cannot in good conscience buy polyester napkins for a naive young girl; it’s a waste of my money and she will not be happy with them. The goal of using cloth napkins is to — ahem! — actually use them. 🙂

Does this whole post mean that I never use paper napkins? Of course not. There’s a time and a place for everything, and ribs drenched in barbecue sauce require paper. I’m not a martyr to being green. I just love the feel of a cloth napkin on my skin. I know you can make a case for the green-ness of paper napkins; they are biodegradable and don’t use water to launder them and don’t put laundry chemicals into our aquifer. But they are not the same as the collected loveliness of a set of cloth napkins, especially one that has passed down to you from a relative. There’s another whole post to be written about collecting family linens…

I’m linking up with The Scoop at Confessions of a Plate Addict today. Be sure to stop by and get the scoop from these talented bloggers!



Friday’ Rant about Facebook

Any time you want to yell back at me, just refer back to the title; I promised you a rant and rant I shall be doing.

I’ve been seeing a lot of “cleaning out my friends” posts on Facebook recently.

I am cleaning up my Facebook friend list. Please let me know if you wish to remain active by answering… with Yes please.

It made me think about why I would want to eliminate friends from Facebook and about whom I would eliminate. Surely one can pick and choose for herself whether or not to continue being “friends” with someone in her life.

The social media platform provided by Facebook gives me a  look at what people in my life are doing and I really enjoy and appreciate updates — even the ones that tell me someone isn’t feeling well and has retreated under the covers or has checked in at Starbucks. I’m glad to see that all is normal in that friend’s life and things are progressing as usual. It’s not stalking; it’s caring! 🙂

And then there’s the obvious missing comma between Yes and please. Enough to drive me crazy.

I’m also pretty tired all of the photos people are posting showing old-school household equipment, such as a manual ice-cube tray with the flip lever.

I’m finding myself increasingly annoyed by these photos. Nostalgic or of historical import? I’m a fan of both, but glorifying these objects seem silly to me, although this blogger does bring up a good point about using stainless steel over plastic trays if one doesn’t have a built-in ice maker in the fridge. I REMEMBER the fractured ice cubes and chunks that come out of these trays. I’ll stick with my auto-cuber in my freezer, thank you, and I don’t want to wade through junk like this to get to the nuggets of information you are actually sharing about your life — the ones I want to see.

Political crap? OMG, will you stop already?

It’s one thing to post a thoughtful article which allows the Facebook friend to decide to read or not. One of my relatives curates and shares lots of political articles, and his commenters are both supportive and antagonistic about the positions presented. I love that. I MADE THE CHOICE to read it.

Please don’t just slap up your unresearched and sensational opinion about something. Link the article where you found it so that I can make an informed decision for myself. You claim to be patriotic and looking out for the best in our country. Isn’t being an informed voter important to our democratic process? Save your inflammatory rhetoric for your friends who already agree with you. I promise; it’s not changing anyone’s mind, and certainly not mine.

These links to other sites that people are putting up also drive me to the nuthouse.

Yesterday a Facebook “friend” posted a photo link of an artist’s rendering of Jesus bleeding on the cross. Really, was that totally necessary? I get that you want to proselytize about your personal faith and I support your right to do it. But can we think a little more carefully about how such a photo will affect your reader?

At the risk of you defriending me, I’m also pretty tired of your animal photos. But that’s just me; everyone else likes them. 🙂

What I do love about Facebook is the personal photos.

Among the pictures of  little kids doing cute things and adults doing things they probably shouldn’t be putting on Facebook, my friends share photos of their vacations, photos of their beloved relatives, and photos of interesting ephemera that they find along their way. I love seeing their point of view, and I learn something every day about new camera applications and photography techniques.

I’m closing today with a photo a friend took in St. Louis. Yes, there’s a little gentle political sarcasm involved, but this is what I want to see on Facebook.

Something that actually makes me think.

I am the Queen after all, and I can make my own rules.

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Paperwhites in a Punch Bowl

Paperwhites. The sign of spring. Who doesn’t want dirt in her punch bowl? It can be washed out and sterilized, after all. When I read  this at the Reluctant Entertainer, I pulled out my dear deceased neighbor’s lead crystal punchbowl and I planted paperwhites in it.

My neighbor is definitely turning over in her grave while her beloved house and garden is dying a slow death because it has been ignored and abandoned by her children and then her mortgage company for almost four years.

The local police tell me that since the house is probably uninhabitable at this point and occupies a large, valuable suburban lot, one day I will come home from school and find it demolished. I’m determined to keep her legacy alive through her treasured belongings and I’ve worked to save them from the bulldozer.

The neighbors and many of my friends have harvested perennials out of her award-winning garden. She had well over 100 varieties of hosta in her backyard. They are living a new life in new gardens and she would have loved that.

My brother and I have two sets of her formal dishes (that NO ONE bought at the sales, so we got permission from her children to take them). I don’t ever need to use paper plates. Combined with my other sets of dishes, I have enough bread and butter plates to serve well over a hundred people for appetizers, and they go into the dishwasher and will be used for many events over my lifetime. This is my concept of living green and then living green again.

Many of her silver platters (that no one bought at multiple estate and garage sales) were purchased by my friend and are proudly displayed throughout her house in their polished glory.

My darling Oksana, who survived a concentration camp along with both her parents and her baby sister, is remembered in my house. The bulbs sprouting new growth in her punchbowl tell us that life goes on — we who survive carry the stories of those who have gone before us.

When I come home this spring, and her house is gone because the economy is picking up and the lender has decided to sell the property, I’ll welcome the new neighbors and tell them about who came before them. And I’m likely to give them something to remember her by.

6 Days of Christmas 2011: More Easy Decorating

If you’ve been reading my blog for any period of time, you know that darling husband and I are struggling with a plethora of “things” in our house, and that includes Christmas things. We also have lots of extra furniture that has been handed down over the years or furniture that we have replaced with something better or more appropriately sized for our small empty nester house. It was surprising, therefore, when we both agreed that we needed something exactly right for our vestibule where we set up our bar for parties.

At my local Korean resale shop, I found the perfect piece that we could both agree on. It’s not very old, but it has an antique slash Asian feel that both blends with our oak trim and contrasts with our French antiques. It’s the right size for our tiny foyer and holds a lot of bar stuff behind its doors.

When I look at this photo, it reminds me why it’s hard to get rid of “things” in my house. Starting from the bottom:

  • The Chinese silk runner was brought back from China by my niece, Vanderbilt Wife. How could I possibly get rid of that?
  • The silver tray is part of the silver tea service that I inherited from my grandmother. No question there.
  • The crystal ice bucket belonged to my beloved mother-in-law. Nope.
  • The Ralph Lauren champagne glasses were also given to us by my husband’s mother. We broke one the first time they were used, and I only pull them out for very special and small parties. They don’t take up very much room, so… no again.
  • The silver creamer came from the estate sale of my next door neighbor. No one wanted her silver, so I scooped it up. I’m not giving that up.

  • The wine charms were hand-made by my friend and me. We went to the bead store and picked up symbols for all of our friends and made personalized charms. You can see my saxophone and my husband’s bass guitar are among the mementos appearing on our wine charms. I’m not giving up those either.

  • The wine candelabra was a gift from my nephew’s girlfriend last year. I decided that it was scary to have open candles on the bar, so I went to Hobby Lobby and bought ruby shades for them. I’m not giving the candelabra up either.

  •  I saved the Rock Star Red bottle just because it was funny; the wine was a gift from my sister-in-law in Seattle and was fabulous.

My goal for 2012 is to learn how to style and photograph better for my blog. I tried to use some fancier settings with this post, but generally don’t see much difference than what I usually do. What I DO see, however, is that my rug is bunched up and my runner is still wrinkled even though I ironed it. And what’s with the bush on my mirror? It looked better in my head.

The point of today’s post is that it’s not difficult to create a beautiful Christmas tradition (and all-year round) with the stuff you already have. In my case, the memories that go with this stuff are more important than my need to simplify my life. Actually, once I got this all together, it was easy to set up the tableau and I’m pretty excited to start hosting some parties!

Where were we last year at this time? Remodeling. My living and dining room are packed with Christmas boxes right now, but come tomorrow, my rooms will be decorated and ready to use. Unlike last year, when we set off for Seattle with nothing decorated and everything a remodeling mess, we will have a lovely Christmas right here in our home.

12 Days of Christmas 2011: Living Greener

In my days of amassing a basement full of “stuff,” I bought a lovely Longaberger silverware caddy basket and received a chrome plate/silverware caddy as a gift. I use both of these regularly for buffet serving on my island, but they are bulky and take up a lot of storage room in my small house.

Image via

Although the Victorians had a specialty serving piece for just about every little job, they also knew that a beautiful mug could do many jobs, including holding flatware for a buffet. Doesn’t this photo of a reproduction carnival glass spooner just make you want to go out and buy it?

I have a collection of Christmas mugs that I often use on the buffet to hold the flatware, and I’m sure that if you rooted through all the pieces you have in the back of your cupboards, you could come up with three or four beautiful pieces that stylistically blend with each other and are about the right size.

In these days of living greener, using what we already have at Christmas is one of my favorite things. Or buy a couple of these stunning spooners. Your life might be richer for their beauty.

Sometimes things are just so simple that you can’t believe you ever did anything else.

Last year at this time, we were eagerly awaiting the birth of our grandnephew, whose first birthday is coming up next week. I’m still glad I’m not 39 weeks pregnant.

The Dish Room: Using Grandma’s Silver

Silver. In my opinion, there’s no place in your house that you can’t use it. I am officially the “silver garbage collector” among my friends. When we go to a garage sale, they know that I will pick up that black piece of silver and take it home. I will rescue it from its descent into tarnish hell and use it. It will be on my next buffet setup and it will be on the patio table.

If you’ve got a surface wide enough to hold a tray, you can corral your vanity items on it. I wanted to make it easier to quickly clean my vanity countertop since it’s white Corian and it really should be wiped down every day. I grabbed one of my silver trays — you can see that it’s just as beautiful without being perfectly polished — and put all the little items on it that I had to move around when I cleaned. All I do now is move it from one side to the other and if I use my hairdryer on it every couple of days, it’s dusted, too.

It is my goal in life to never buy something when I can reuse or remix something I already have. One day, I wanted to take off my rings while I cleaned, so I went to the bar closet and found the crystal shot glass. It’s perfect, and can be an interesting conversation-starter when people want to know why I have a shot glass in the bathroom. 🙂

I’ve been looking for someone who shares my love of silver and ran across Silver Magpies. Spend some time with her posts; she’s got wonderful ideas about using silver every day.

Image via

And get out your own silver and use some of it for Thanksgiving. If you start now, you’ll easily get it polished before the turkey arrives, and then you won’t have to polish it again for at least six months!

P.S. That’s a real orchid that we took home from a benefit dinner we went to. It’s lasted three weeks, but it’s starting to fade. I’m tempted to buy another one at the grocery store because it makes me feel special every time I walk into the room.

Living Green: Before You Buy A New One…

At first glance, it was just a photo in a magazine of a cute purse, an espresso machine, and a watch in the magazine Veranda (1-year).

Then I turned the page and found a well-designed advertisement for an ebay recycling initiative.

It got me to thinking about how much I could be reusing in my life if I were more thoughtful about such things. In the rush to get things done, I go out to buy something that I probably could have found on a resale web site. The products I buy at the store are likely to be a compromise because I can’t get exactly what I want or they are of cheaper quality than an older version.

Books are a good example of things that I actually do reuse and swap with other readers.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to give up books, because over the years I have learned that I often reread books and I rarely get them back when I lend them out. As I move toward the “condo” time in my life, I know that I have to readjust my thinking. I should be happy that my books have moved on to live again in another person’s mind.  In addition, most of those favorite books are in the library just waiting to be checked out. I don’t have to have a whole room of books in my house languishing and gathering dust just in case I want to read them again. The ebay Green Team blog had a recent post about what to do about books that gave good ideas for all of us bibliophiles. Paperback Swap is another place to share books for free. All you have to do is pay for postage to send them to a new home.

And then there’s clothes.

There is so much vintage wear available that it’s really a shame to buy something new, especially if you are only going to wear it once.  Just a quick scan of ebay uncovered a Valentino fur coat, a Laura Ashley dress from the 1980s (sadly, I wore a similar dress and what was I thinking?), and  a pair of “vintage” granny panties with embroidery. I mean, if Sarah Jessica Parker can wear vintage, why not we mere mortals? (She’s probably not wearing the used granny panties.)

The point is, of course, that we can protect our earth by buying and using items in a more thoughtful way and teaching our children to do the same.

Do you have a recycling story or source to share? Leave a comment!

Just So You Know I’m Still Writing

Actually, I’m not quite done with school, so I’m not writing, but I’m sending you a gift of a good laugh.I was at a good friend’s house recently, on a chilly May day, and we decided to start a fire. When she opened her firescreen, there in all their glory were the grocery story wine bags from her recent purchases — the best recycling use for nuisance paper that I have ever seen!

I’ll be back soon, so don’t go away too far.

Living Green: Reduce and Reuse

We’ve been trying to make some lifestyle changes around our house, starting with giving things away that we don’t use effectively. This photo is not our house, but I was embarrassed to take a photo of my garage.

One of our plans is to pass down family heirlooms to the next generation, which is what we did with Gram’s Hoosier. My next objective in that goal is to take digital photos of all of the heirloom china and knickknacks that I’m ready to pass on and send an email out to the families for them to choose from the antiques and photos. I hope people actually want the stuff.

I heard a story this weekend about a grandmother who was told that “nobody wanted her old junk” so she put it out on the curb. When my friend drove past grandma’s house, there were family heirlooms awaiting the garbage man or the pickers. Needless to say, that “junk” now has an honored home in my friend’s house.

The house next door to me has been vacant for two years since my dear neighbor passed away unexpectedly, and even after several estate and garage sales, there are still family photos and her treasured Ukrainian knickknacks in what is essentially an abandoned house. She must be turning over in her grave.

I don’t want to be the person whose heart is broken watching her stuff get thrown out, so I’m taking care of it myself now. I’m going through items piece by piece and deciding what can be passed on to family, what can be donated, and what can be sold. If nobody in the family wants your stuff, here are some green options instead of putting more of our cast-offs in landfills.

  1. There is an international organization called the Freecycle Network where you can donate and request items for free. What a great way to share your treasures with someone who actually wants them!
  2. You can sell items on We have a local ebay seller who does all the work for you and you get back about 50% of any sales he makes. You could do it yourself if you have time, but for me, this is the best way. My local ebay guy says that items with trademarks, patent numbers, or recognizable brands sell better than random unmarked items. Obviously, people are wary of counterfeits, so having the best photos possible is the key to success. Remember, one grandma’s trash is another person’s treasure.
  3. Musical instruments that are still playable can be donated to local music organizations. They use them as starter instruments for kids who can’t afford their own instruments. I’m donating my old violins to the Music Institute of Chicago. They need some repair, but could easily be reconditioned by qualified musical instrument repairers.
  4. The obvious and easiest solution is to load it all up in the car and tote it down to Goodwill or call up any of those local donation places and they’ll even come and pick it up.

Here’s another set of thoughts on STUFF, courtesy of Complete Organizing Solutions. Enjoy reading more viewpoints and eliminate the stuff that’s dragging you down. Share your story if you want to… we’re listening and looking for advice.

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