Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankfully, Done with Thank-Yous

This past weekend, Mr. Snow Cone and I finally finished our thank-yous and sent them off into the world.  One day short of our three-month anniversary, we were finally done.  Emily Post advises:
Each wedding gift should be acknowledged with a written note within three months of receipt of the gift. It’s best to write the notes as soon as possible after gifts arrive, however. Write a note even if you have thanked the giver in person.
According to Ms. Post, we were made in the shade, by 24 whole hours.  Why, then, did we feel kind of like big ol' failures?  Why, when we were celebrating our recently-completed task, did a more recently married friend squash our happiness by pointing out that she had gotten her thank-yous into the mail sooner than we had, and her wedding had occurred long after ours? 

After thinking on it for a bit, here's the conclusion I've reached: people need to take a chill pill when it comes to thank-you notes.  Allow me to explain.

Our wedding guest list was populated largely by people we know, adore, and are close to.  Do I really buy the fact that these special people need a notecard with a few sentences describing our appreciation for their attendance and gift in order to be convinced that we value this relationship?  Frankly, if that is the case, I'm a little concerned about the strength of our relationship in the first place.  Along the same lines, if we send a thank-you note within 6 weeks of the wedding instead of within 12 weeks of the wedding, do we love and appreciate our guests twice as much?  I'm sorry, I'm just not convinced. 

I understand that thank-yous are a true expectation facing all married guests.  But, I think there's too much pressure to get them out fast and compose manifestos of long, flowery notes to each and every guest.  We love our family and friends, and we hope they love us back just as much, regardless of exactly when they receive their thank-you note and/or whether the note has five or ten sentences.  In my mind, thank-yous are just kind of icing on the cake, a mere formality to explicitly state our appreciation.  I'm not saying they should be eliminated entirely; however, maybe if people relaxed a little bit, there wouldn't be so much pressure and stress associated with this daunting post-wedding task.

Where do you stand on thank-yous - a great opportunity to connect with guests, or another opportunity to stress out while striving to pleasing others?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sponsored Post: Our First Wedding Photo, Courtesy of Easy Canvas Prints!

Shortly after the wedding, I was approached with the opportunity to review a photo canvas from Easy Canvas Prints for my blog.  With a naked apartment and wedding photos hot off the press, I figured this was a chance too good to pass up.

I logged onto the website and quickly navigated my way through the design and order process.  I really liked how the site clearly outlined the various sizes and also included some visual aides to assist in understanding how the wrap and size options would look in person.
  Screenshot of Easy Canvas Prints site

I opted to go with a portrait 8x10.  I was mildly frustrated that after selecting the desired size, there wasn't an opportunity to select landscape versus portrait.  The preexisting 8x10 you can see in the canvas size options above is a landscape; as a result, I had to use the pull-down menus and enter 10x8 as a custom canvas size in order to achieve a portrait orientation.  The ability to easily switch from portrait to landscape should be standard, in my opinion.  Fortunately, it didn't take me too long to figure out the "custom size" approach.

After uploading my photo and confirming that the image I selected was of a "good" quality, all I had to do was play with the sizing and the placement of the photo.  The image I uploaded was this one:
 Photo by Christina Garber

When I uploaded the image onto the website, though, this is how the picture canvas appeared:

Screenshot of Easy Canvas Prints site
Our feet were cut off at the bottom, which I later determined was because I had selected the "image wrap" option for my canvas.  In other words, there needed to be enough of the image on all sides to wrap around the sides of the canvas.  As a result, I couldn't zoom out any further than shown above.  A word to the wise - if going with the image wrap, make sure your photos has a pretty substantial border to accommodate your preference! 

Only a few days later, my canvas arrived, ready for display!

I loved actually having a wedding photo, since this is embarrassingly the first photo we've had developed!  The canvas looks great from a distance, but it's a good bit glossier and grainier up close than I would have expected.

I would say that it's pretty obvious to the naked eye that it's a canvas with the accompanying texture and ridges.  As a result, it seems like the photo lost a little bit of quality.  You can see below that the details on my face aren't very crisp, creating a bit of a blurry look.

I compared the quality of this canvas to other photo canvases we had in the apartment, and this one definitely had the most apparent canvas appearance to it.  

After considering the Easy Canvas Prints process, start to finish, I've reached the following conclusions:
  • Their site is very easy to use and pretty intuitive
  • The color quality is very crisp and vibrant, which makes the canvas pop off the wall
  • Easy Canvas Prints would be a great resource for specific canvas needs - my expectation is that with a larger canvas size and/or a canvas that is meant to be displayed above a mantel (a good distance from where people may be viewing it), the texture issues I described would be lessened if not entirely fixed
Overall, Easy Canvas Prints has a lot of potential and offers a very nice and convenient service.  Perhaps with a more careful consideration of my photo canvas needs and options, I would have been more impressed with the finished result.

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Recap Purgatory

We're rounding the bend on our two-month anniversary, and so far, there's not a wedding recap in sight.  I wish I could tell you that they're in the works, but that would be a big ol' lie.  Here's the facts.  I'd love to get started on my recaps yesterday.  We have our professional pictures back and minus our thank-you notes, our wedding has officially come to a close.  However, wanting to do recaps in the very near future and doing recaps in the very near future are two most clearly different concepts.

Truthfully speaking, I'm getting clobbered by my current schedule.  I'm struggling with my simultaneous transition into a new semester (my last semester!) and a new job.  When I'm not feverishly trying to catch up on some homework or sleep, I'm trying my best to transition into that third new frontier - the whole marriage thing.  Unfortunately, all of this newness consumes a hearty portion of my schedule.  At this point, I don't feel like I have the blocks of time necessary to outline, write, and add photos to all the recaps I would hope to produce while maintaining a quality that I desire.  This tug-of-war between wanting and being able to is what has landed me in recap purgatory.

All of this, "Woe is me, how on earth could I possibly be expected to handle school and a job and a voluntary hobby all at once?!" actually has a purpose, I swear.  The way I see it, there's two options for recapping the Snow Cone wedding. 

Option A: I can start the recaps ASAP without any promise whatsoever of regular or frequent recap posts.  Sure, I could whip up something this week, but the next one may not be for 2-3 weeks, if not longer.
Option B: I can hold off on starting the recaps until my life settles down a bit (likely the winter holiday season).  Despite the delay, once the recap train leaves the station, it will be most certainly chugging full steam ahead. 

I honestly don't know which of these choices is more appealing to me as a writer or to you as a reader.  For that reason, I'm asking anyone who's inclined to vote to indicate which style of recap pacing you'd prefer.  This feedback won't be only for myself; I know other bees are interested to hear what the mass consensus is on this topic. Help a blogger out, take a few seconds, and let me know how you take your recaps - slooooooow and (maybe) steady, or delayed and frequent?

How do you prefer your recaps?
 Quick start, spotty frequency
 Delayed start, high frequency free polls 

Monday, September 19, 2011

The SCs in SC: The grand finale

After our sailing adventure, we finally reached our last day of the honeymoon.  Determined to make the most of it, we hit the beach early, getting what will likely be our last taste of the Atlantic Ocean until next summer.

We laid in the sun most of the day, reading through our respective beach books.  His:
Image via Amazon

Image via Amazon

After getting our last hours of sun, we cleaned up and headed into Charleston for our final dinner.  We had a really hard time picking a restaurant for our last hurrah - we wanted it to be undeniably good (which, at that point in the trip, every meal had been), but no menus were jumping out at us.  Finally, after evaluating our options, we went with our guts and made reservations at Magnolias.  Before setting foot in Magnolias, though, we popped into its sister restaurant, Blossom for some pre-dinner cocktails - white sangria for Mr. Snow Cone and a glass of Cava for me.  

Once we downed our drinks, we entered Magnolias, hoping it would live up to all of the hype we'd been hearing for the past few days, weeks, and months.  I'm not even going to beat around the bush - this restaurant completely blew us away.  Both Mr. Snow Cone and I agreed that our meals at Magnolias were the best-tasting dishes we've ever eaten.  Everything was perfectly balanced, flavorful, rich, and delicious.  Our service was outstanding and the meal was expertly paced.  I'm not even kidding you when I say that I get a little pit of bittersweet nostalgia in my stomach every time I think of that meal.  It was so perfect, and it's a bummer to think that it will likely be quite a while until we get the pleasure of dining there again.  

Anyhow, onto the food!  We were greeted with celebratory champagne and strawberries, which started the meal off on a fantastic note.  For appetizers, Mr. Snow Cone had their blue crab bisque,
Image via RoadFood

while I opted for their signature plate of a "Down South Egg Roll," which actually graces the cover of the restaurant's cookbook:

The really impressive part of the meal came during the entrees.  Over the course of the trip, I had developed an affinity for the local standard of shrimp and grits, to the point where I'd ordered it three times in less than a week.  Before going to Magnolias, I promised myself and Mr. Snow Cone that I would not order shrimp and grits a fourth time, since that would be beyond excessive.  That vow flew right out the window when I read the description of Magnolias' take on the classic dish, which expanded on my beloved shrimp and grits by adding scallops and lobster.  How could I not?!  

Image via Grits and More
 It was divine.  Rich, melt-in-your-mouth, best-thing-you-ever-ate divine.  I also paired it with a side of macaroni and cheese because I was unwilling to leave the South without some classic m&c.  The shellfish and grits made the macaroni and cheese look like simple child's play in the food world, and that's quite the statement from a macaroni lover like myself!

Mr. Snow Cone ordered one of the restaurant's signature entrees, Parmesan-crusted flounder.

He had pretty much an identical reaction to mine.  After all of the delicious and outstanding meals we'd enjoyed over the week, he was still unfaltering in giving his meal at Magnolias the top honor.  Practically a month later, we still ooh and aah over our dishes!

Finally, as if we hadn't consumed enough calories over the first two courses, we of course decided to get dessert.  Mr. Snow Cone kept it relatively light with some strawberry ice cream, while I kept it more than relatively heavy with a cream cheese pecan brownie.  Probably not a better way to wrap up your honeymoon than eating thousands upon thousands of calories, right? 

 Before saying a difficult good-bye to our beloved Magnolias

The next morning we woke up and began to prepare for our trek to the airport.  As one last special treat, we booked a couple's massage at Wild Dunes's spa, Sand & Sea Salon.  Neither of us had ever gotten a massage before this, so I think we were both a little eager to see how it would all go.  At first it was a little uncomfortable, since you don't normally frequent rooms with very dim lighting and quiet, soothing music.  Once we got situated on our massage beds, though, the relaxation took over.  We were both like jelly when we left, undoubtedly satisfied with our inaugural massages.  With the beach, the food, and massages still on our mind, we headed to the airport, and before we knew it, we were back in Pittsburgh, marveling at the unbelievable honeymoon we just had the luxury of enjoying.  I have no doubt that we'll be back to Charleston in the near future.

I think my long-winded love for Magnolias speaks for itself.  For the married folk, what was the highlight of your honeymoon?  For the engaged audience, what are you most looking forward to on your upcoming getaway?

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The SCs in SC: Jibs, booms, and tacking, oh my!

We knew going into the honeymoon that Mr. Snow Cone and I have very different vacation techniques.  I'm perfectly content to grab a good book and an icy beverage, plop myself down in a beach chair, and not stir for the rest of the day.  Mr. Snow Cone, on the other hand, is much more active - he likes adventure and experience and fatigue.  Given how much time we had spent lazing about on the beach, I decided it was probably time to give him a relatively active afternoon, so I let him pick whatever outdoor activity he wanted, and we'd give it a go.  Earlier in the trip he'd noticed a brochure for a sailing lesson, so once he got the go-ahead to pick an activity, it didn't take long for us to make our reservations and head out to the marina.

We took a private three-hour sailing lesson with OnDeck, an international sailing company with a branch in Charleston.  We didn't necessarily intend for it to be a private lesson; we just lucked into a little privacy because no one else booked our same time slot!  Mr. Snow Cone got tasked with steering while I working the ropes while we tacked.  It was definitely not easy for a weakling like me, but I managed to get through it.  We switched positions temporarily, but I quickly realized that steering was not my strong suit.  I decided a little manual labor was better than a lot of mental labor, so Mr. Snow Cone gladly took his steering job back from me.  We spent a lot of time learning basic sailing jargon and technique while we scooted around Charleston Harbor.  Unfortunately for us, with Irene's impending arrival, a lot of the winds had been sucked out to sea to join the brewing hurricane, so the air was a little still, resulting in some slow goings on the sailing front.  Nevertheless, we made the best of it, using the most of every little breeze we could.  Even when we were sitting instead of sailing, we had some great scenery all around us, like gorgeous blue water,

 the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge,
and the USS Yorktown.

Even though the wind shortage didn't necessarily make for an action-packed sailing adventure, I think Mr. Snow Cone's thirst for vacation activity was still satisfied.  Just look at that grin!

After a sunny three hours and lots of sailing education, we returned to land.  We ate at Red's Ice House, a local joint with some awesome seafood, pulled right from the water the restaurant overlooks.  All that sailing helped us build up quite the appetite; we managed to polish off a hearty amount of shrimp, crab legs, and fried oysters without breaking much of a sweat.

So, if marriage is all about compromise, I think the Snow Cones did a pretty good job of using our honeymoon as a kick-start to a great marriage - a little bit of relaxation for me, a little bit of activity for him, and a ton of happiness for the two of us!

Did you do anything new or adventurous on your honeymoon?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The SCs in SC: You and me, and hurricane makes three!

After a rainy day, Mr. Snow Cone and I were excited to see sunshine coming through our windows the next morning.  Our happiness didn't last very long, though, as we casually turned on the television to discover a startling image.

Yep, that's Irene, our honeymoon third-wheeler.  Earlier in the week, we had heard that Charleston could be hit by something that was maybe going to be a mild hurricane, but definitely not until Saturday evening at the latest.  At that point, we decided not to worry about it, since we were scheduled to be out of Charleston by Saturday night.  So, imagine our discontent upon seeing this revised forecast on our television - Category 3 hurricane with 115 mile per hour winds, hitting Charleston pretty darned directly, on Saturday morning.  

We wrung our hands and pouted for a few minutes before deciding that we didn't want to get caught up in a tidal wave of people trying to revise flight plans as the storm drew nearer.  With heavy hearts, we decided to end our stay in Charleston about 24 hours early, flying out on Friday instead of Saturday, hoping to avoid Irene's wrath as much as we could.  

Inspired to make the most of what abbreviated time we had remaining, we headed into Charleston for an afternoon full of sightseeing. 
Miraculously, it was a perfect 75 degrees as we spent the hottest hours of the day traipsing around the city!  We took our second carriage ride of the trip, this time using a group tour to get a more complete understanding of the city's architecture and history.

We saw the city's landmark church, that tilts a bit due to a 19th century earthquake,
 and itty bitty side streets that were originally designed for a horse and buggy,
and old-fashioned architecture with buildings that are only one room wide,
 and houses with detached kitchens to beat the heat prior to the invention of air conditioning,
 and Charleston's oldest building (a liquor store),
 and weaponry left over from the Civil War,
 and houses that cost $8 million and are still considered "small" compared to their neighbors,
 and the street Mel Gibson rides down during the beginning scenes of The Patriot.
For anyone who visits Charleston, I highly recommend doing a historical carriage ride through the city; it was one of the highlights of our trip.  The guide was very knowledgeable and personable, making it a really pleasant way to spend an hour while learning about your surroundings.

Before coming to South Carolina, we had decided that we wanted to invest in a piece of art as our premiere souvenir, rather than collecting knick-knacks all over the place.  Without any rhyme or reason, we decided to pop into the Gordon Wheeler gallery that we stumbled upon.  We immediately fell in love with his style of art and how "Charleston-y" it looked to us.  It didn't take us long to decide on a winner that fell in a price range we were comfortable with.
"On Meeting" by Gordon Wheeler

After getting robbed a day by Irene, we were really, really excited to find a piece of art that we both loved and would be a treasured keepsake in our home for years to come, always reminding us of our fantastic trip to Charleston.

Finally, to cap off our lovely day in the downtown area, we enjoyed some martinis at Squeeze, a tiny but trendy bar, before eating our weight in seafood (yet again) at High Cotton.  We noshed on fried oysters, surf and turf, and shrimp and grits before waving our stomach's white flags of surrender.  For what started off as a cruddy morning, the day resurrected itself beautifully.  Even though we were losing a day on the tail end of our trip, with days like this one, we knew we were getting the most out of our experience in the South.

Did your honeymoon get boogered up due to some less-than-stellar weather?

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The SCs in SC: "The weather has been unbelievable."

Before our honeymoon, when people learned we were going to South Carolina in August, most individuals chose to inform us of exactly how hot it would be down there.  Um, yes.  That was a big part of the reason we chose to go to a southern state for our honeymoon - we wanted to be warm and be able to relax on the beach. We realistically expected it to be borderline unbearably hot and humid during our stay, so imagine our surprise when the first few days of our honeymoon were, dare I say, comfortable!  And then, it happened.  As we were sitting on the beach on Monday morning, and Mr. Snow Cone declared, "The weather has been unbelievable.  If it rains the rest of the trip, I still think our overall trip weather would be a pretty good."  As a firm believer in jinxing yourself, I immediately scolded him and wrote his comment off.

That afternoon, we decided to tear ourselves away from the beach long enough to experience some local culture and history by visiting a South Carolina plantation.  We opted to go to Boone Hall Plantation, as it was the closest plantation to our resort and it boasted some original architecture from the Civil War era, which was a big draw for us.  After getting there, we discovered that we weren't the only ones smitten with the scenery at the plantation; multiple movies have been filmed there, including The Notebook.  The landscaping was gorgeous; I really enjoyed the plantation's pecan trees that were over 100 years old.

Even though I do love a good pecan, I have to say that the plantation's most impressive landscaping feature was a long road lined with gigantic Oak trees.

After scoping out the grounds, we decided to watch a presentation on local Gullah Gullah culture, highlighting the history, language, and music that pervaded plantations during the 1800s.  The presentation included an interactive portion, calling for volunteers from the audience to participate in a music demonstration.  Bravely, Mr. Snow Cone decided to participate, showing off his natural sense of rhythm.
We also toured the original slave cabins, which gave us an interesting perspective on slave culture on a Southern plantation.

Remember Mr. Snow Cone's ill-advised comment about the awesome weather we'd experienced up to this point?  Well, it definitely came back to bite us in the butt.  We were preparing to tour the plantation's mansion when I checked the weather on my phone.  It read, "Severe thunderstorms developing directly over Boone Hall Plantation."  Awesome.  Sure enough, in about three minutes, we went from this:
... to looking at this:

It poured.  And gusted.  We sought refuge in a tiny little visitor's center to wait it out.  After about an hour of "waiting it out," we were debating whether to cut and run when we heard a large crack and saw a bit of a blur in our periphery.  We looked over just in time to see a large pecan tree fall to the ground.  Apparently it was nearly 150 years old and was just too aged to survive the storm.
As the visitor center's employee was lamenting the destruction of a "piece of history," we decided that enough was enough, and we'd had our fill of thunderstorms and plantations.  We headed back to the resort to relax before checking out a cool local restaurant for some killer seafood.  Unfortunately, the severe thunderstorms just kept coming, so we decided to play it safe and stay on the resort for dinner.  Twist our arms, we headed back to our beloved Sea Island Grill for some light fare before calling it a night, hoping the worst of the bad weather was behind us.

Anyone else visit a place connected with a famous movie on your honeymoon?

(all photos personal)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The SCs in SC: Introducing... Wild Dunes!

We woke up on Saturday, ready to get the next chapter of our honeymoon underway!  After a leisurely breakfast of leftover dessert, we hopped into the car and drove about 20 minutes to a nearby barrier island called Isle of Palms.  This picturesque little island became our stomping ground for the next week, with Wild Dunes serving as our home base.  We pulled up to the resort's main entrance and were immediately giddy and excited to check out the resort and all it had to offer.  After checking in, we made a bee-line for the ocean.  We didn't decide to stay at a beach resort without the intention of spending as much time as humanly possible within sight of the crashing waves!  We grabbed a quick lunch and a celebratory cocktail before hitting the sand, eager to lap up as much sunny relaxation as we could squeeze in.

It wasn't much after that point that our villa became available.  Upon opening the door, we both let out a big, happy sigh and let goofy grins spread across our faces.  Our villa's foyer had an oversized picture window looking right out onto the Atlantic Ocean.  It was unbelievable.  Unfortunately, we didn't have too much time to soak in the view, as we had to get ready for our dinner at the resort's signature restaurant, Sea Island Grill.  I'm not going to lie -- we decided to eat here because we got a deal on a dinner package as a result of being guests at the resort.  We decided to use the package on our first day at the resort to avoid going back and forth to downtown Charleston twice in one day.  I kind of wrote that dinner off as one of our lower-key, potentially less memorable meals of the trip.  I'm happy to report that I was 100% wrong on all fronts.  Our meal at Sea Island Grill was utterly divine.  I enjoyed she-crab bisque and the most tender steak I've ever had, while Mr. Snow Cone dined on a poached pear salad that he still won't stop talking about and Grouper.  Simply stated, we were blown away by Sea Island Grill and would gladly have eaten there multiple times during our stay.

We devoted most of Sunday to living the beach bum life, snoozing on towels and cooling off in the ocean.  It was exactly the type of honeymoon we always wanted.  No set schedule, no big responsibilities, no need to worriedly keep an eye on the time.  Furthermore, our villa had virtually no cell phone service with AT&T.  Despite the minor inconvenience this posed at times, I think it actually helped to further our relaxation and seclusion.  No need (or ability) to check email, update Facebook, or call anyone.  It was just me, Mr. Snow Cone, and the beach.  Pure bliss.

After letting our brains turn to sun-friend mush, we popped over to Charleston to meet one of Mr. Snow Cone's cousins and her husband for dinner.  Mr. Snow Cone is supremely Italian, so it was only fitting that we dined at Monza, a little Italian restaurant with amazing pizza, while visiting with members of his family.  I have to say, unlike many Italian meals, this dinner actually left me appropriately satisfied satisfied instead of completely stuffed in every capacity.  With mozzarella and marinara running through our veins, we retired to Wild Dunes, completely unprepared for the turn of events the next 48 hours would bring.

What pleasant surprises (like our awesome meal at Sea Island Grill) did you discover on your honeymoon?

(all photos personal)

Monday, September 5, 2011

The SCs in SC: The royal treatment

After our ginormous lunch, we decided to try to take a stroll around downtown Charleston to get the lay of the land.  We browsed in some antiques shops, some art galleries, and the city's downtown market before deciding our full bellies and the South Carolina heat were too much.  We headed back to the hotel, eager for some air-conditioning and relaxation.  As we were introduced to our room, it became very clear that the attention to detail was not limited to the hotel's front desk.  We had a congratulations card and a half-bottle of champagne waiting for us, which pretty much served as a sumptuous cherry on top of a glorious, gorgeous room. 

Our room wasn't overly spacious; however, what it may have lacked in square footage it more than made up for in amenities.  The bathroom was huge, the closets had the ever-awesome hotel robes, and the bed, ohhh the bed.  It was gigantic, and it had some of the most impressive linens I've ever experienced.  This is the only equivalent I can think of:

Image via We Heart It; Art from Disney

After getting cleaned up for dinner, we headed downstairs to the hotel's signature restaurant - The Peninsula Grill.  As soon as we claimed our reservation, the hostess immediately responded with a "Oh, hello Mr. and Mrs. Snow Cone!  Congratulations on your wedding!" which impressed us, to say the least.  As our dinner went on, though, it became clear that we were going to be impressed for the entirety of the evening.  Every single staff member called us Mr. and Mrs. Snow Cone and offered their congratulations.  We feasted on delicious seafood course after course, before finishing the meal with desserts that greeted us like this:

Needless to say, we polished most of those off and wrapped the leftovers up for breakfast the next morning.  We left dinner the exact same way we left lunch - totally stuffed, totally satisfied, and totally impressed.  

But we had more to accomplish after dinner than just digestion - Mr. Snow Cone had arranged a private carriage ride for us to enjoy!  There was a minor miscommunication in the booking process, resulting in our carriage arriving an hour later than anticipated, which was not a problem in the slightest.  We walked out of the hotel and saw what would be touring us around the streets of Charleston.
That's right, an illuminated pumpkin carriage.  Apparently we were supposed to have a more traditional horse and buggy set-up, but with the error in booking, we got assigned this bad boy.  A little campy, for sure, but I was totally eating it up.  I may have had a mild to severe obsession with Disney princesses in my younger years, so the opportunity to pretty much live Cinderella's life for part of the evening was a nostalgic dream come true for me.  Our ride around the city was very nice, with dozens of people pointing, taking pictures, yelling congratulations, and being totally jealous of our sweet ride.  I mean, can you blame them?

Once the ride ended, we decided we were undoubtedly pooped, so we headed back to our yummy room for some even yummier sleep.  Between the princess-y bed and the princess-y carriage ride, the first evening of the honeymoon fulfilled two pretty substantial fantasies of this Disney fanatic.  Oh, and the sublime service each and every step of the way didn't hurt, either.

What wowed you on your honeymoon?  Anyone else ever been lucky enough to take a princess carriage ride?

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The SCs in SC: First impressions

After a few days of post-wedding recovery in Pittsburgh, Mr. Snow Cone and I hopped on a plane to head down to Charleston, South Carolina, for our much-awaited honeymoon.  When deciding on a destination, we decided we wanted good food, good weather, and a schedule that allowed for a decent amount of flexibility and control on our part.  Suffice it to say, Charleston nailed all three of those top priorities (minus one relatively sizable exception...).

We got off the plane at Charleston's quaint airport, which was a bit cozier than most airports I've encountered in my various travels.  Fortunately, the cozy airport size translated to short lines everywhere, which meant we had rental car keys and luggage in our possession very shortly after landing.  An easy 20-minute drive from the airport placed us right in downtown Charleston!  Right away, we could tell Charleston was a special city.  For most places in the United States, the term "downtown" conjures up images such as this:

Image via Planetware

... which is not quite the same as downtown Charleston.

Everything in Charleston looked a little bit brighter, a little bit smaller, and a little bit warmer than most other "downtown" areas, which immediately set Mr. Snow Cone and myself at ease.  Driving through the city was a breeze, and we easily made our way to our hotel for the evening - The Planter's Inn.  Right away, we were greeted by helpful staff who welcomed us by name, congratulated us on our recent wedding, and assured us that they would take care of all of our needs while staying in their hotel.  We pretty much nodded our heads in agreement and prepared to be pampered.  Not a bad way to start the honeymoon, eh?

We dropped off our luggage and decided to grab a bite to eat while waiting for our room to become ready.  It was at this point that we made our first, and probably biggest, mistake of the honeymoon.  In Charleston, there's no such thing as grabbing a bite to eat.  Everything is so mind-blowingly delicious that you grab dozens of bites, feeling happy but stuffed after each and every meal.  The first stop on our gluttony getaway?  Charleston's famous Hyman's Seafood.  We'd received multiple recommendations to stop by Hyman's, so we didn't hesitate to pop in for lunch when we discovered it was about 30 yards from our hotel.  We opted to do a 5 seafood platter combo, which looked a little something like this:
Image via MrsFixIt's DPReview page

The menu billed the 7 seafood platter as enough to feed two people, so we thought that by going with 5 seafoods, we'd have a nice, light lunch.  Wrong.  We gorged ourselves on crab cake, crab dip, hush puppies, fried oysters, shrimp and grits, swordfish, and amberjack.  Mr. Snow Cone and I were pretty much stuffed to the gills (haha, get it?) and we still had a hearty amount of food left on our plates.  Despite our less-than-perfect showing, the food was glorious.  I kid you not when I say that thinking about the fried oysters and hush puppies automatically gets my salivary glands going.  It was such a nice, casual, and delicious way to kick of what would ultimately prove to be a superb honeymoon.  

Have you ever had any surprising or exciting first impressions at a vacation destination?  Any vacation food memories that makes your tummy go pitter-patter with savory nostalgia?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A barely post-wedding post-wedding chop

My hair grows at a pace that makes a snail race look like the Indy 500.  I've always kind of hovered between chin-length and shoulder-length, which made growing my hair out for the wedding to be quite the undertaking.  But, by George, I was going to have as much hair to work with as humanly possible.  I didn't want my hairstyle selection to be limited by my insufficient length, so the entirety of our engagement was devoted to growing my tresses out.  The finished product?

The Snow Cones, two days before our wedding!
Photo courtesy of BM E

This was easily the longest my hair has ever been.  My plan was always to donate it to a wig organization, since I knew that long hair wasn't really my standard. A few months back, I started to measure how much hair would survive the donation and realized that it was going to be short.  So, I decided that I'd have to tough out the long hair for a few more months post-wedding in order to be left with a manageable length after lopping most of it off.

Enter the hottest and muggiest July I have ever experienced.  Every day was like its own individual form of torture, and the hair covering my neck added an extra helping of sweaty grossness.  I was miserable, and I frequently let Mr. Snow Cone know about it.  I think I complained one too many times, because he opted to put his foot down.  Knowing that we were headed to balmy South Carolina for our honeymoon, he realized that escaping the heat and humidity wouldn't be happening for a long while.  Apparently he wasn't hepped up on the idea of having his wife complain about her hair and the heat for the duration of his honeymoon.  Weird, I know.  He declared that my happiness was more important than the length of my post-chop hairdo, so I was to cut it and cut it fast after the wedding.

Rather than put up any semblance of a fight, I listened to his reasoning.  And then picked up the phone and called my lovely hairdresser friend to set an appointment for 10 AM the day after the wedding.  I waltzed into her swivel chair, a whopping 11 hours after our reception ended, more nervous than I expected to be.  I had always set my sights on donating the minimum of 10 inches for Locks of Love, so that's what she measured to.  And then she paused and asked me if I really wanted to do a full 10, given how short the end result would be.  I decided to compromise and donate only the minimum of 8 to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program.  I figured an extra two inches of length would be worthwhile, plus, in my mind, a donation is a donation, right?  Anyhow, enough with the chit-chat, here's the finished product!

It is short but it feels amazing.  I'm still getting the whole styling thing down, but I'm still quite pleased with how it turned out.  Truth be told, it's probably a wee bit shorter than my ideal length, but that's the best part about hair - it grows.  In no time (hopefully), I'll have some more hair to play with and I'll get back to my typical styles.  Having hair that's a little on the short side so that cancer patients can have hair period is a sacrifice I'm OK with making.

How soon after the wedding are you cutting your hair?

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted.)