Sunday, December 19, 2010

Our Christmas List

1. A good immersion blender for Jess

2. Affordable food dehydrator (I've wanted one since I tried being raw vegan in college but that kinda failed; I was vegan for a while, though, until I got to Houston, heh); I'm told this one is the best of the best.

3. Paperback versions of Griftopia, Eaarth, Eating Animals by JSF, MB's Complete Dehydrator Cookbook...and maybe Sweet Valley Confidential, just because I read Sweet Valley when I was younger :)

4. Maybe BRTC Jasmine Cream

5. Solar oven, worm bin, composting toilets, clothesline, rain barrel/drip system for the garden (Hello, Transition Houston!)

6. Australorp chickens (as well as chicken-related keeping gear) for when we get our house, and I'm still hoping Jelly Bean will still be up for adoption by the time we get a house.

Speaking of, we made an offer on a house not far from here and got the executed contract; now to hope and pray all the inspections go well!

7. Metal lawn stuff like roosters and flying pigs from the cute Mexican furniture and pottery store beside the gym we go to

8. Fresh Movie and stuff by Juliette De Bairacli-Levy

9. Stuff from Anthropologie, Paper Source, Etsy, Lululemon and Lucky Brand are always welcome

10. iPad 64 GB 3G+Wi-Fi, and maybe a Clamcase?

11. Yoga at places near us (now to go). We did some yoga today using a pass we got for free at Lululemon, so that was cool. Might think of some Vinyasa or Zumba or Hooping classes in the future.

Busy, busy: getting ready for my parents' visit in 4 days, so WHOA! Also been to the allergologist, who gave us all sorts of meds, and hey, turns out my childhood asthma's back :/ And I think I caught something from one of my kids as I'm hacking stuff up right now.

I should watch some Glee or Gray's Anatomy on Hulu to destress. Or continue being productive, heh.

6 days to Christmas. Ho, ho, ho. Here's to a good end to 2010 and an even better 2011. To what it holds, we don't know yet, but hopefully it will be good.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wedding #2 Coming Soon

So Jess' and my Manila wedding is coming up.

It will be on Jan. 15, 2011.

Austin wedding (3 of 3, phew!) will be on Sept. 10, 2011.

Kindly RSVP to twitha at gmail dot com

Our wedsite (that I hadn't updated in a while, oops!) is

Jess and I are actually looking at houses to close by March, too, AND my folks are coming for the holidays, so it's a happy but a tad stressful time. I still need to make sure my wedding dresses (that I got early, heehee) still fit! That and other preparations.

If I had forgotten to invite you, I am sorry. Nonetheless, I am trying my best to coordinate everything.

Do help us by RSVP'ing with
-what wedding you plan to attend (both is fine, too!)
-physical address
-phone number where we can reach you
-email address

Thank you!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Vision

I recently read this book by Jenna Woginrich, and she is my new hero. She recently wrote about writing your goals and dreams, so here goes.

I am tired of work sometimes that doesn't seem to go anywhere. I toil everyday and everyday it is the same. Maybe it is the stress and the mental fatigue, but I am exhausted and sick more often than I or my husband like. And that tells us that something's wrong. It makes me think of wanting to escape and do something else. Don't get me wrong: I don't hate my present jobs--I love being around my students! But I feel no matter what I do, the situation doesn't change. And I don't know about other people, but that fruitlessness is something that I can't deal with forever. I question my goal of being a teacher because of it: the system, I feel, is harming rather than helping, and that I cannot deal with, nor stomach. But I have to: it is my job, and it is slowly killing my spirit.

So before I lose my pluck and put my head down again, I will say my intention. I want a homestead of our own, with a dog, a cat, chickens, pygmy goats, vegetable and fruit plants, and maybe Angora rabbits, pigs and bees someday. I want to learn how to make butter, cheese, bread, soap and candles, as well as have homemade kombucha; live as off the grid or independently as possible. I want to learn how to play my Strumstick, and play it well. I want to learn how to knit and sew, to make socks and sweaters and beanies for my husband, and make dresses for myself. I want to make cards and paper products (with my rubber stamps and letter press) to supplement the farm, then sell this with our extra eggs and dairy, maybe some candles and soap, and maybe even fruits and vegetables and honey, as well as the occasional knitted product in a farmer's market. Then maybe we can even talk about children, if our bodies are blessed to have them: milky-coffee skin with brown or hazel eyes and black hair, and happy, inquisitive spirits who fear nothing and welcome everything.

And even as I want to eke out a farm existence, I still like to shop, or at least look. But if I can make it myself, then that's what I prefer. I am still a girl who likes shops and working out in a gym, as well as getting a good haircut and color, and the occasional pedicure and massage, but the crowded, expensive city with no room to homestead is beginning to frustrate me and lose its charm on me.

For now, I want this dog. Her name is Jelly Bean. She is a 6-month old rescue dog. Our friend Lisa told us about her. I sent in my application to have her, but I guess I heard wrong about our landlord being ok with dogs; I am still trying to persuade him to think otherwise. I hope I will be successful. Latest update: I'd like to meet this kitty, too. His name is Kai, and hopefully my husband won't be allergic to him, otherwise we have to look at this breeder who charges $600 per kitty. So yeah, methinks rescue animals are still best, costs included!

Let's start with Jelly Bean, and hope my husband and I can get out and hopefully find satisfaction, as well as our place in the sun.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What Comes Next

Well, since it's been a while since we added to this blog, why don't I add something? Since Therese wrote, we went to New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and I participated in the Transition Houston/ event on October 10 (10/10/10). I also have a basil and a (dying) tarragon on the desk in front of me, as well as lemon balm, basil, rosemary, oregano and sweet potato in the planter downstairs, and a gallon of mead in secondary fermentation in the kitchen.

Which kind of brings me to the dilemma I'm facing now. Events of the last couple of years have made it painfully clear that not only industrial civilization, but also the stable global climate on which it depends, are drifting towards a state of acute crisis. Very briefly, world oil production stopped increasing in 2005, and will likely begin to decline within a year or three. That means trouble for countries that import a lot of the oil they use, and America is pretty high on that list. Meanwhile, Arctic ice and glaciers worldwide are melting, and freak weather events consistent with global warming are beginning to hammer locations as diverse as Australia, Pakistan and Russia. I would bet quite a large sum of money that the next twenty years will be a time of rapid and painful change.

These kinds of problems are so large that it's hard to know what to do but watch them unfold. But I'm married now, and so I feel I have to try to take action to prepare, so that I can protect my wife, and the family we hope to have. That's why I've been working with Transition Houston, a small group of aging hippies and oil company employees who see Peak Oil coming and are trying to get ready. It's meaningful, satisfying work, but its slow and time consuming. I organized and purchased T-shirts for the group, as well as doing my best to promote the recent permablitz event. I'm proud of that work, but I think that with two weddings next year, as well as our first house to locate and hopefully purchase, I need to put the "saving the world" bit on hold for a while.

So that's it. For readers, I suggest strongly that a lower energy future is coming for most of us, voluntarily or not. Ask yourself what you could do to adapt to a lifestyle where you used much less electricity and gasoline, and also what your city would look like if everyone was doing the same thing. A few suggestions would be get a bicycle, and learn how to use it if you don't know already (this means you, Trissa!). Get a bus pass, and figure out where your nearest bus stop is and where it can take you. If you own a home and have some money to invest, high efficiency windows, roofs, and insulation are a great idea, as well as solar hot water if you can afford it.

I gotta run. I have to put away dinner (bison sausage, collard greens and hoecakes, if you're curious) and get ready for tomorrow.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Married Life Post 1

So Jess and I do not post very often: our apologies about that. The thing is, there really isn't much to tell. And we're not even really out of the woods with wedding stuff yet: sure, courthouse part is done, and my name's been changed to "Therese Totten" (WHOA?!), but we still have yet to have our church ceremony in Manila and our original wedding that's now been slated to be a renewal of vows, in Austin, both for next year.

That being said, it's been a busy summer--wish it had been longer! :/ We did mostly prep for the church ceremony, much to Jess' credit. My mother-in-law(!) said, "He must love you to have done it!" Aw :) Fuzzy feelings! More specifically, we did Natural Family Planning that stretched out one night a month for three months; then we also did a weekend retreat. Jess wasn't too happy, but he did it; I've been on my share of retreats, so for me it was same old same old: hunker down and deal. And in the end, it was ok. There was even a mixed-race couple (no prejudice meant, but hey, that's what Jess and I are), so that was cool, and even cooler, it was also a Filipina lady and a Caucasian man--just like Jess and me, too! So hearing them share was quite nice. Besides Catholic requirements, I worked on my teaching certification, and worked some retail, but I'm not done with my requirements yet, so it's an ongoing process at this moment. And of course, the ongoing wedding planning.

So this summer, along with two friends, Jess and I used a Groupon deal to kayak the Houston bayou: kinda dirty and stinky (though not as bad as the Pasig River where I used to row in college), but worse when you fall in, which happened to me. Not cool, but we survived, with Jess' help, who went in after me, sweet man that he is. Jess and I also visited my relatives in Toronto (whom I haven't seen in years) for my cousin's wedding. Apparently, under my relatives' scrutiny, Jess passed with flying colors, yay! We also went to Galveston, my first time there, where we found the one-hour drive is a nice little getaway (from Houston) without being too tiring. I took a knitting class in my neighborhood too, but have yet to knit a pair of socks! I also got back into rubber stamps: I used to collect them along with stickers when I was younger, though back then I had no idea I could make stuff with it. But now, with a heat gun and embossing powder, I've got a few ideas up my sleeve, and I even send special embossed letters sometimes, so I think that's pretty neat :) It keeps me happy, and that makes Jess happy :) It's a slightly pricy habit though, oops! I also recently got into succulents. With our north and west facing windows, though, keeping them alive is the main challenge.

Now it's back to school, and that's more work--and some regular money, yay-- for me. I not only do assistant teaching in the classroom, but now I also do a computer ancillary class in the morning. So it's been a bit of an adjustment, but I'm hoping I'm doing alright, making some progress. My principal is talking about having me transform the class into more robotics work, and I talked to the guy in charge of the robotics club, and it sounds promising. We shall see. The teacher I help in the classroom gave me a form for an educator's discount (20%) at Barnes and Noble, and I got the discount, so I thought that was cool--ooh, educator = me, WHOA :) Jess still takes the bus to work at least once a week, or rides his bike, 12 miles each way, hoowee. And he still likes his job and has a friend who gives us fish, yay :)

I've been sick with allergies that turned to a cold that turned to a cough. Jess, his parents, sister and I went to the coast for Labor Day weekend, and while it helped, I was still pretty sick and phlegmy. Jess and I tried working out a few days ago, but it was just a bad idea, and I backslid. But I discovered Mucinex, and so far, with Dayquil, it's been a good thing. Now to get back to working out (ie kickboxing), hopefully soon!

I just feel that being married (coming to four months now, yay!), Jess and I don't do a lot, especially as most of my friends are in Manila while Jess' are in the US, so that with being more introverted, Jess and I just keep busy with chores and each other, which might be boring to most people. That being said, we do have some common friends, and I'm trying to branch out more and make some friends, though that's never easy and it can never be forced.

So what are weekends like for us? We go to the farmer's market when we can, and get groceries at a supermarket for what we lack from the farmer's market, then we look at shops when we can, or Jess gets a haircut or I get facial/wax/etc. We try to go out as a treat on weekends, whether it be a drink at a quiet bar, or try a new restaurant or go to one of the restaurants we already like. Sometimes we might even see a movie or go rock-climbing; this weekend, Jess is persuading me to try learning how to ride my bike again: the heat's toned down a bit so I just might. Then I also work retail, so that usually takes up my Sundays. Then I come home (or Jess picks me up, yay), we have dinner, he plays video games and if I'm not too tired I might do a video workout, tool around on the Internet, then before we know it, it's time to get ready for another week.

So this our life right now, and it's been working for us so far, touch wood! In the future, we are looking at getting a house with a good-sized yard (for fruits and vegetables and herbs!), some chickens, and a rescue pooch.

Our life in a nutshell: boring or not? You tell me :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Yes, we are-- coming up to a month in 4 days, in fact. Wedding #1 of 3, and we agree, our official anniversary, just to simplify things. We also think Wedding #1 will have been the simplest, oh well, relish the moment, then, huh?

Sorry if we didn't mention this. Life has been quite the beehive.

We will write more soon.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Slight Change in Plans

So the title says it all; there is a slight change. Nothing drastic, so keep calm (and carry on). The night my Mom was to take the flight from Manila to the US, she found out that her visa had expired, oh around a week ago. She tells me this over SMS and I kinda quietly freak out and go to the gym in a daze, and tell my aunt and Jess' parents. My aunt can't have her airfare refunded, so she found a cheaper hotel on short notice. Then my Mom scrambles for contacts in Manila, one being her diplomat-tenant who works at the Czech embassy. But US protocol is stricter than ever, barring family emergency (which, technically, this is): as of this morning, the earliest appointment she was able to get was for May 20--too late for anything this week. Then it'll take 4-5 business days to process. She is confident she'll be here by the 26th or 27th next week, though. I sure hope so, 'coz right after her call, I called Jess' parents and grandma, to move their reservation to next week (they agreed, for which I and my Mom are so very grateful). I emailed my aunt, and she moved her plane date (and canceled her hotel reservation as she will be staying with my Mom). I emailed my retail job, and they were so nice as to move my work day to this week instead of next week, so I can spend time with family and hopefully get married next week. I haven't heard from my principal, but hopefully I can take my chances.

Jess was very grumbly about the whole mad scramble, and I admit I almost lost it: I was depending on him to be my rock, and I told him that. So now we are trying to take it easy and avoid any unkind words. Jess' grandma said, "It could've been worse." And a colleague at work said "In the grand scheme of things, a week is nothing." True on both counts. But as the past 2 days have just left me all dazed and confused, I just want a resolution, the light at the end of the tunnel. So I ask for everyone's prayers: I hope this time around will work, 'coz yeah, it's got to. Lesson learned: make sure your visa is still valid before you leave! Here's hoping we get it this 2nd time around. May 28, 2010: keep your fingers crossed.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wedding #1 of 3 in 5 days

So. Jess and I, standing in front of a judge, 5 days from today. Whoa.

It has been very busy for Jess and me, what with wedding planning and other family stuff, as well as matters at work. But with our upcoming civil/courthouse wedding in 5 days (!), I thought it best to spruce up the details on our registry, as people have been asking about it, so here it is:

Jess and I really thought about it, and we really think a cash registry suits our needs best. We just hope this is not offensive to anyone. If you look at how it is set up, it states that there is no required amount you have to give, large or small, so whatever works for you, or even if it doesn't, that's fine, too. What's nice about this registry, though, is it gives some format, such as when we met, what we suggest as guest accommodations, etc. So I cracked my knuckles and typed away today. We hope you enjoy the end result. As much as it is a registry, it also has other information that you might like knowing, like how we met :) Since I updated that registry, I feel I owe it to everyone to update this blog!

Truly, I am not thinking about the wedding at this point, but the whole affair that comes with it. My birthday is in 3 days, and our civil wedding is in 5. My Mom is arriving in 2 days, and as she doesn't drive nor know Houston as well as we do, it is up to us to make her visit enjoyable. Also, the schoolyear is drawing to a close, at least at the school I work at--in 12 days, in fact. So yeah: a lot of things to think about besides getting married. But if I stop to think about it, this is quite a life-changing event. I don't know if it's going to be the biggest life-changer ever, as Jess and I have been living together for a bit over a year now, and commuting back and forth before that, but it is still a big deal: in the eyes of society, I will be connected to him, and he to me. It makes me think of what I've accomplished so far and deplore to think that I haven't gotten very far yet. I worry about how life will change after marriage, and I hope it won't change for the worse, if it will change (and it probably will). I hope that our love will only get stronger, our bond deeper over time.

I guess this also means that I will not be a single entity any longer. Most decisions I make (if not all), I should consult with him. We will be each other's person. I am not just responsible for me, but now, I should worry about his well-being, and act correspondingly, as well. As such, this is a responsibility, one I worry about being able to fulfill properly. I hope I will be able to do so: I take responsibilities seriously, and I like knowing what's going on. (As such, I don't trust easy)

Of course, this marriage business should not be taken lightly. I'm hoping our union will last, and that it will be a happy, loving one. I hope we will make each other happy. I truly hope this enterprise works. I just like being sure, but sometimes, I guess I just have to let go, and roll with it.

Here's to trusting, and taking the big leap into the Big Unknown Step called marriage.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Registry is Born!

Hello, everyone!

I was on the interwebs and through Offbeatbride saw a cool website called Deposit a Gift: it is a registry site that lets you put whatever you want, essentially a cash registry. I think that's pretty sweet. Here's ours. It's mousebee dot mydagsite dot com.


Back to regular planning.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Here and Now

It's been a busy week for me and Jess. Over the weekend, we went to the farmer's market and saw baby goats(!) then went to a Japanese festival and an arts market: we saw sword and taiko drum demo's at the former, and had snow cones and a vegan burrito as well as saw anarchist books at the latter. We also went to a nice "Texan-Tuscan" restaurant called Stella Sola near us and had good food, crab carbonara being one of the dishes: phenomenal, if you can believe it! Oh, Jess also made rabbit stew today and it was good, though I cringed every time I would spit out a tiny bone. Oh, man: such are times when I think of becoming vegan again, though I recently bought some vegan books for brunch and baked goodies: I still like to think of veganism, and am still very open to it: in fact, I prefer to make vegan stuff. We've also been dipping our hand into growing herbs, and so far so good. We've got a tomato plant (but no tomatoes yet), rosemary, sage, basil, a pepper plant in our apartment, and oregano, dill, spinach and basil at the garden box below. In the future, I would still like to have chickens and goats to raise, maybe make my own kombucha and yogurt with Jess' help--grown your own, I strongly say.

We also went to city hall downtown today to apply for our marriage license, but it turns out that we applied for a marriage license too soon-- the period is 3-30 days, not 90! So we have to go back either end of April or beginning of May so that it's late enough for the license to still be valid for Jess' family's and my Mom's visit when we'll hopefully get it officiated (ie legally married May 21, 2010--my mom wanted my birthday but it was the middle of the week: this way, Jess' family can attend, and besides, I was told it might be safer to have it on another day besides a birthday), as well as bring the form we got from our marriage prep class. I was wrestling with it over the weekend: like this is real, and it's SERIOUS: as in not going out for dinner, or washing clothes, MARRIAGE, OK?! i.e. committing to spending the rest of your life (at least in theory and hopefully so) with one person, who is Jess! Am I ready? Do I want this? Can I do this? So I turned the tables and asked him (of course), and he said he still wants it. So I thought about it in turn, and yes, I think this is still what I want. I don't think no one will ever be ready for it, and if you are, you are either limiting it, or I don't know what! But some fear/trepidation is healthy, I think, as nothing is ever certain, least of all marriage-- sharing your life with someone else, and building dreams and a life together. So as long as you are willing to try and be committed, hopefully, this enterprise will work. I pray it will. I will try my best to trust in this (and trust is no small feat for me to do).

Apart from this, it's been work and work, with kickboxing classes at the gym in between to be fit and stress-free. By the way, the elementary school I work at in Houston, Garden Oaks Elementary, is back in the process for applying for a grant to be all-Montessori, so that's hopefully a good thing: after working at a Montessori classroom, I can't imagine going back to traditional setting, except maybe small groups for Special Ed, but even then. So with the potential grant, I hope I can apply for certification. I hope it works out!

As for this summer, I will probably stay in the US, for monetary reasons and just to relax before everything gets crazy. We're also planning to visit my Dad's side of the family in Toronto this summer for a wedding, so yeah. As much as I miss Europe, but I've already been to Asia this year, and that's a lot for my system as it is: I think it's best to stay sharp and stay in the same time zone for the coming school year, where hopefully I will still have a job!

I also got a copy of Food Inc (as well as signed their petition for better food in schools, woot!), and maybe Jess and I will watch it soon. I'm really excited to watch this Irish animated movie called "The Secret of Kells:" it's supposedly pretty good. I'm also lately into this mineral make-up called "Bare Escentuals." I ordered some and am really excited to try it. I dumped my old make-up as old stuff develop bacteria over time, so I said why not. I am also bidding on eBay as it can be cheaper, like Lululemon capris for working out: they are primarily a yoga company, but their fabric is so nice and flattering, and the colors are pretty too. I'm also looking into this brand of shoes advocating Barefoot technology without looking too extreme like Vibram Five Fingers, and they're called Vivo Barefoot by Terra Plana. And there's Skullcandy for music stuff, and maybe some Brooks and Moving Comfort/Her Room for physical activity, and maybe some Earth Shoes/Dansko/Simple Shoes in the future? Of course, there's always books/videos I am pining for on Amazon, as well as other things in other sites, but to each its own time, especially with my tiny salary! I sometimes lament to Jess that I like stuff too much, but hopefully that's normal, and hopefully I'm not too too much into getting stuff: I try to buy good stuff, but I try to limit it to what I really want, and for cheaper, if possible. That's what I actually told Jess in response to this video called "The Story of Stuff" of how it's an endless cycle of wanting something to working to get it then buying and repeat; I think it's fun to buy stuff and want things: I think it shows we're human: it helps the economy, too. However, I also do believe there is a limit, and if we can buy "reuse" by getting stuff from friends that they don't like but we do, or buying stuff from people (like on eBay) that they no longer like but we do, then it's kinda limiting the amount of excess stuff that's out there. There is that saying: "One man's trash is another man's treasure." I believe in that, and I believe that leads to a healthy economy of sorts.

As for wedding stuff, I still need to fix the invites, and the marriage license and am waiting on the dress here in Houston. But apart from that, we got the venue/food, the photographer/videographer; I have my birth certificate and baptismal certificate (yay!); we have definite ideas how to do our wedding favors, are working on the invites, the church's permission (especially as we're overseas and are a mixed-religion couple), and am still tweaking the flowers, as well as hair and make-up. As for jewelry, I'm hoping pearls will be ok with my Mom as Jess' abuela (maternal grandmom) is lending me her Panamanian mosquetas (pearl brooch and earrings). I've always wanted to wear pearls, and so what if pearls=tears: what if those tears are happy ones? So there. Hopefully I don't have to do doves too: poor doves, and hello potential bird poop on clothes! I'm still thinking about the bouquet: maybe I don't have to toss it (I would like not to), but Jess said I have to think of something as replacement as people are used to tradition: in place of the old, they need a new one.

So this is my news-tidbit/s thus far. I feel like the calm before the storm, though underneath it is a frenetic juggling act that bursts every now and then to make sure that we're still floating; I just hope that everything will be ok, and that it is so.

May this find you well.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Legal Stuff

So apparently getting my birth certificate is harder than it looks.

I need to have it notarized, unless I want to go to San Diego.

Then there's getting a marriage license in Houston. No blood test/medical certificate needed, nor witnesses, but the license must be procured 3 days-30 days before the ceremony, and couple must go together 30 minutes before the county office closes?

Then the ceremony must have a justice of the peace or a licensed/ordained Christian priest/Jewish rabbi. We don't have an officiant yet (for this or for the wedding), but Jess and I believe--at least for the wedding part-- that he/she must be someone we know personally, i.e. have personal history with. There's also the option to do it in Austin.

Then there's the name-changing deal. You have to have the post-ceremonial paper first, though.

Oi vey. I'm a bit confused.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Some Details

The following are templates of what we're thinking of using; feel free to use them for your own ceremonies :) The Madlibs I actually copied visually from a article image--with a few adjustments :) So I'm quite proud I was able to do that :) The vows I found from a book entitled "Joining Hands and Hearts" by Rev. Susanna Stefanachi Macomb--again, with a little tweak here and there. :) Anyway, without further ado:


~*Wedding Advice for Jess and Therese*~

We are __(adjective)___ for Jess and Therese. They are the most ___(adjective)____ __(plural noun)__ and we wish them nothing less than __(adjective)____ __(noun)__ for the rest of their lives together. Our best advice? Don’t forget to ___(advice)___ before you __(verb)___ and __(advice)__ after the __(noun)__. Jess should always try to___(verb)___ Therese’s __(noun)___ and Therese should always try to ___(verb)____ Jess’ ___(noun)___ We wish you __(amount)___ years of happiness and __(adjective)___ ___(noun)___.

~*Do share your advice with us by filling in the blanks and handing this sheet to us before you leave. Thank you!*~



Illuminata by Marianne Williamson

With this ring, I give you my promise that from this day forward
you shall not walk alone.
May my heart be your shelter and my arms be your home.
May we always be blessed.
May we walk together through all things.
May you feel deeply loved, for indeed you are.
May you always see your innocence in my eyes.
With this ring, I give you my heart. I have no greater gift to give.
I promise I shall do my best.
I shall always try.
I feel so honored to call you my spouse.
I feel so blessed to call you mine.
May we feel this joy forever.


Selection 3 by Roy Croft

I love you, not only for what you are
But for what I am when I am with you.
I love you, not only for what you have made of yourself
But for what you are making of me.
I love you, for the parts of me that you bring out;
I love you, for putting your hand into my heart
and passing over all the foolish, weak things that you can’t help
dimly seeing there,
and for drawing out into the light all the beautiful belongings
that no one else had looked quite far enough to find.
I love you because you are helping me to make of the lumber of my life
not a tavern but a temple; out of works of my every day
not a reproach but a song.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Progress List

Mahalo everyone!

Just in case I haven't told y'all yet, our wedding dates are:
Jan. 15, 2011 in Manila, Philippines
Sept. 10, 2011 in Austin, Texas (USA)

Well, so far, we have:
-cufflinks! (they were Papa's, Jess' maternal grandfather, are made of ivory and came from his stint in Japan)
-my veil
-my shoes
-my evening bag
-undies stuff, including hosiery
-Jess' grandmother's lace and her mother-in-law's tatting
-wax seal!

We have committed to:
-rings (in gold)
-a "headpiece"
-cake toppers
-my rehearsal dress
-shawls and ties for us and the entourage
-paper punches!
-rubber stamps!
-photography services--for Austin
-a "suit and dress" carry-on bag

We will borrow Jess' abuela's:
-Panamanian mosqueta brooch and earrings

We are more or less decided, but still ironing out
-my wedding dress with Morgan
-ceremony and reception location (the food comes with it) --for Austin; Mary the Queen Parish and Hotel Sofitel, respectively, for Manila
-cake-- for Austin (we're thinking berry chantilly/carrot cake/chocolate decadence)
-favors-- for Austin; honey-roasted peanuts for Manila
-flowers--for Austin
-hair and make-up--for Austin
-guest books
-post stamps
-photo booth app called PartyBooth
-MadLibs (and vows)!

No idea yet on
-music (though there are some songs I want to be played)
-invites (though there is a skeleton plan and sketch complete with tentative wording)
-registry/ies (though I heard of this)
-rehearsal dinner (maybe Salt Lick?)
-guest accommodations (maybe Verde Camp?)
-marriage license and name change ie legalese?
-Jess' shoes
-house (for September!)--with space for plants, and goats and chickens, and maybe a dog!
-my Montessori/teaching status
-honeymoon plans

So this is where we are right now. I hope it all works out. I hope we can do this, and that we are doing it well, and right.

Monday, February 22, 2010


....was baptized here, 25 years ago. She has since called them for an updated copy of her baptismal certificate to give to the religious powers in Manila for her wedding there next year. It will be coming in the mail very soon, yay!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Checklist

Taken from Ariel of

Finally, a checklist for offbeat brides! Obviously, no checklist can work for everyone, but this one is hopefully a bit more slanted toward offbeat concerns. That said, it assumes you're got about a seven month engagement — some of you are waaay longer, and some of you manage to do it all in three months. Your mileage may vary. So, now it's time to print this out and start checking the boxes!

First things first:
  • Sit down with your partner and figure out general vision for wedding. Indoors? Outdoors? Silly? Formal?
  • Decide on a budget and figure who might be helping. Choose wisely, grasshopper, and remember that if family pays, family may want to control.
  • If you're going for a potluck-style wedding, start talking to friends and family about who might want to help with different parts of the wedding.
  • Pick wedding date and time, and finalize after okaying with important guests, location, or officiant.
  • If you're hiring vendors, start doing your homework on what services you'll need, and who can provide it.
  • Buy a copy of Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides :)
As soon as you know what you're doing:
  • Scout out venues and book one as soon as you can.
  • Make preliminary guest list and decide on your wedding's approximate size. Get lists from both sets of parents, too.
  • Start talking to caterers, if you're using one.
  • Start a notebook/file folder to house all your wedding-planning paperwork in one place.
  • If you're doing a wedding party, choose your peeps.
  • If you're doing a caterer, pick one and determine price per head and menu.
  • Start looking at dresses.
  • Start investigating any ethnic customs or cultural traditions you might want to incorporate into your ceremony or reception.
  • Decide on and meet with your officiant to discuss ceremony structure.
  • If you plan to use frequent flyer miles to travel to your honeymoon destination, book your flight now.
Six months before wedding (or something similar)
  • Finalize the guest list.
  • Find an officiant who suits your style and spirit.
  • Consider music at your reception. Even if you're not doing dancing, some background tunes are nice.
  • Narrow down your gown choices and make a final decision.
  • If you're doing a gift registry, start registering for gifts.
  • Think about how you might want to wear your hair.
  • Figure out who's making your cake, cupcakes, wedding pie, etc.
  • Lock down photography — even if it's a friend, get a solid commitment.
  • Figure out if you're doing bridesmaid dresses (color, style, etc).
  • Figure out flowers. If you're hiring someone, send a deposit to reserve their services.
  • Make sure everyone helping with the wedding knows what you're expecting of them.
  • Send Save the Dates (aka STD's) to guests via postcard or email or even just calling.
Several months before wedding
  • Confirm your cake (or non-cake, cupcake, etc) plans.
  • If you're doing a wedding party, figure out what everyone's wearing.
  • Lock down your wedding dress and your partner's attire
  • Book ceremony musicians and send deposit.
  • Work on invitation wording and design.
  • Finalize menu and service details with caterer.
  • Launch your wedsite, if you're doing one.
A couple months before your wedding
  • If you're doing flowers with a florist, lock it down with them.
  • If you're renting stuff (tables, chairs, tents, farm animals) confirm it with the vendors.
  • Book rehearsal-dinner site, if you're doing one.
  • Figure out where you're sleeping on your wedding night, and make reservations if necessary.
  • Compile packages for out-of-town guests with hotel reservation and city information, and send 'em out via snail mail or email.
  • Book your honeymoon flights (if not using frequent flyer miles) and make all your other travel reservations.
  • If you haven't registered yet, be sure to do so before any upcoming prewedding parties.
  • Consider specific ceremony and reception decoration needs like a huppah, aisle runner, etc.
  • Purchase or make your invitations.
  • Start addressing invitations — aim to send them out at the two-month mark.
  • Talk to people you’d want to do special performances or readings as part of the ceremony.
  • Get anything you need for an international honeymoon (passport, birth certificate, visas, vaccinations, etc.).
  • Send out invitations.
Two months before your wedding:
  • Work on vows, particularly if you're writing your own.
  • Research local marriage license requirements.
  • Make sure the wedding party has purchased their outfits and accessories.
  • Arrange wedding-day transportation for you, your wedding party, and guests (as needed).
  • Snag wedding bands.
  • If you're doing favors, buy them now or else get crafting!
Six weeks out
  • As you receive presents, be sure to update and/or add items to your registry list and record the gifts you get.
  • Confirm reservations for out-of-town guests.
  • Arrange parking for the reception.
  • Order liquor, wine and/or champagne if they're not included in the catering contract.
  • Make sure you've got all your accessories like veil and shoes.
  • Begin writing the ceremony program if you are having one.
  • Tell your partner you love them at least once a day as things get increasingly crazy.
  • Do you want a guest book? 'Coz now's the time to get one.
  • Set aside some time to write thank-you notes for gifts received at the bridal shower.
  • Finalize vows.
  • Make sure your wedding outfits fit both of you.
One month out:
  • Do trial runs of various vanity routines (hair, make-up, henna, tattoos, whatever); schedule wedding-day appointments.
  • Finish and print ceremony programs, if you're doing 'em.
  • Get marriage license and make appointments for blood tests (if necessary). Check when the license expires.
  • If you're doing an iPod reception, work on your playlist. If not, work on a list of "must-play" (and "must-not play") songs for your DJ or band. Back up your music and the rest of your hard drive while you're at it.
  • Discuss music with ceremony musicians and agree on final choices.
  • Confirm wedding-night and honeymoon reservations.
  • Have a follow-up meeting or phone call with the officiant to go over ceremony timing and details.
  • Do paperwork for official documents if you and/or your partner are changing your name(s).
  • Work out wedding day timing and details (who will get the bride there, where the wedding party will dress, etc) and draw up a schedule.
  • Get final prewedding haircut, if necessary.
  • Call or email wedding party to relay critical info related to rehearsal and wedding (dates, times, directions, duties).
  • Get a head start on thank-you notes if you can.
  • Finalize any special preferences, readings, or other ceremony details with your officiant. Put it in writing if you can.
Two weeks out:
  • Harass guests who haven't RSVP'd for the wedding and rehearsal dinner.
  • Give final head count to the caterer. Confirm set-up instructions and menu items.
  • Call location manager and make sure your vendors all have access to the site when they need it.
  • Confirm head count, delivery time, and location with the cakemaker.
  • Make extra sure that everyone who's helping you with the wedding gets a special, pointed thank you.
  • Determine any wedding day assignments for members of the wedding party, and make lists/info sheets as needed.
  • If you're doing a seating chart, figure it out now.
  • Confirm all final payment amounts with your vendors.
  • Confirm location, date, and time with photographer; create your "must-take" photo list.
  • Touch base with your officiant and give him/her rehearsal details and wedding day schedule.
  • Confirm delivery locations, times, and final arrangement count with florist.
  • Make sure your partner has their wedding attire all ready to go and fitted.
  • Fax transportation providers a schedule and addresses for pickups on wedding day.
  • Prepare your toasts or thanks to friends and family.
  • Distribute wedding-day directions, schedule, and contact list to all parents, attendants, and vendors.
  • Designate who will meet, greet, and handle each vendor on the wedding day.
  • Procure sedatives for night before wedding. Give them a trial run.
The week before:
  • Put together an overnight bag for your wedding night (toothbrush, lube, condoms, meds, etc.) and designate someone to deliver it to the hotel for you.
  • If you're the froofy type, get a manicure and pedicure and confirm big-day beauty appointments.
  • Designate someone to collect the wedding gifts (and any cash) brought to the party.
  • Confirm date, location, time, and playlist with band/DJ and/or ceremony or cocktail hour musicians.
  • Leave a copy of your honeymoon itinerary with someone in case of emergency.
  • Put final payments and cash tips in marked envelopes and give to a designated family or friend to distribute on the wedding day.
  • Prepare a wedding day freakout kit (Tylenol, Claritin, makeup, safety pins, gum, Lara bar, etc.).
The day before
  • Rehearse the ceremony with officiant and wedding party.
  • Confirm all specific honeymoon travel plans (including transportation to airport, etc.).
  • Assemble both your and your partner's entire outfits.
  • Set your alarm and arrange for backup.
  • Make sure your vows are memorized/practiced/noted down
  • Take a sedative and/or any personal calming ritual. It will help you sleep.
Wedding day
  • Set aside special time during the day to step aside and breathe for a few seconds.
  • Confirm with people who you expect to give/lead toasts at the reception.
  • Take a moment to thank your parents and tell them you love them.
  • Relax, smile, and enjoy the day!
After the wedding
  • Mail special letters and/or gifts to your parents and other special helpers to thank them for their help and support.
  • Make sure all vendor bills have been paid in full.
  • Find out when you can expect wedding photos and/or video.
  • Within two months of your wedding, send all thank-you notes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Buy buy buy

I got my bag, my shoes, and my rehearsal dinner dress, and am hoping to borrow Jess' maternal grandmother's Panamanian "mosqueta" pearls, so YAY! We also tasted cake at Whole Foods and are hoping to have them as our cake people--it actually is a bit cheaper with them than at a cake shop, who woulda thought :) I'm also hoping to get other reception-related things like photo mats and guest books and cake topper and invites, as well as a burro pinata and pecan favors, the latter two probably by next year...and maybe a fun "mad" surprise ;) All the pashmina shawls and ties for the entourage are ready; we just need them to get here, but yeah :) Man, we are almost ready! Thank you, God :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Creativity or Overboard?

While I am already scrambling to get stuff into place (like royal blue neckties and shawls, a wedding pinata, wedding favors, dress measurements, my veil, a potential cake topper and wedding headpiece, cake, floral and make-up people, firming up a photographer and the venue, not to mention house-hunting for September and still looking for size 9.5/10 royal blue shoes--anyone?) I was thinking of guest book ideas, or shower ideas, and music. Speaking of wedding traditions, if I have royal blue shoes and a shawl, that'd take care of something blue, right? :)

As much as I am not the biggest fan of the knot, I saw an idea of theirs that I liked: making a Mad Libs for the wedding, or wedding shower (I am thinking a joint one would be better--price-wise and trying to coordinate things)

I was also thinking of getting a big honkin' journal and having guests write down
1) what they think love and marriage are
2) what their advice would be to us (the potential newlyweds)

For the guest book, what about a wide photo mat for guests to write well-wishes/names, etc on it? It would be an alternative to the usual guest book and a memento, as well. For more ideas, try this site.

Music, ah, music. Maybe a DJ? 'Coz I'm already thinking of the following songs:

-Your Arms Around Me by Jens Lekman
-You Remind Me of Home by Benjamin Gibbard
-One Sweet Love by Sara Bareilles
-Ave Maria by Beyonce
-Stick With Me by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
-I Gotta Feeling by BEP
-Say Hey I Love You by Michael Franti
-You and Me by DMB
-Jai Ho by AR Rahman
-Are You Gonna Be My Girl by JET
-All I Want is You by Barry Louis Polisar
-When U Love Somebody by Fruit Bats
-The Way I Am by Ingrid Michaelson
-Love of My Life by Santana
-Love Shack by B-52's
-Let's Stick Together by Al Green
-I'm Yours by Jason Mraz
-Wedding Song by Tracy Chapman
-At Last by Etta James
-Come Away With Me by Norah Jones
-The Prettiest Thing by Norah Jones
-She Is So Beautiful by The Waterboys
-Stand By Me by Ben E. King
-Heartbeats by The Knife
-When She Believes by Ben Harper
-Must Have Done Something Right by Relient K
-Head Over Heels by The Go-Go's
-I Don't Feel Like Dancin' by the Scissor Sisters
-All You Need is Love by The Beatles
-Kiss by Prince
-You Are My Sunshine by Norman Blake
-La Vie En Rose by Louis Armstrong
-The Very Thought of You by Nat King Cole
-I've Got You Under My Skin
-Karma Yoga by The Yoga Specialists

Ok, I had no idea I already had a lot I liked! Alrighty then.

For a gift registry, between the two of us, Jess and I have most of the stuff we need (who cares if it doesn't all match-- kitsch is the new cool!), but I read in a book of creating a bank account? What about PayPal? Or what about an Amazon registry?

I probably should ease up, but I *really* like my ducks lined up in a row, so we'll see. A lot of things to think about. Jess says we've gotten a lot of stuff done already, but eh. That's what I say. I say carry on.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

More plans

While I am planning my wedding dress, and the rings are in progress, I got my veil from Etsy, and I'm thinking of getting this headband, in ivory or gold.

Maybe attach the veil to that???? Hmmmm. And what about (royal blue) shoes??? Thinking of getting a royal blue shawl too to my dress here, and maybe a bridesmaid gift too (or something else for the gift)? :) Looking at royal blue neckties for the groomsmen on eBay, and maybe wedding favors from Berdoll's or even better, someone still local but cheaper. Nuts are supposedly the traditional wedding favor, especially sugared almonds, as almonds are bitter and sugar is sweet, representing weddings' bittersweet quality. Pecans are more southern and Texan, so maybe sweetened pecans, instead. Speaking of wedding traditions, I found a website that has Filipino customs, though I think some of it's a bit much. Jess and I are also thinking of having a wedding reception pinata in Austin, maybe a donkey in our wedding colors of royal blue and ivory. In Texas, surely we can find someone who'll do it! ;)

We also looked at a wedding place and it might be The Winfield Inn south of Austin in Kyle, TX. They do catering on-site and I think at an added cost, can do the cake too. Otherwise maybe Michelle's Patisserie?
I would like a dark chocolate zucchini cake for a groom's cake, and a hummingbird/carrot cake for the bridal/wedding cake. Or key lime pie for the groom's cake as Jess likes key lime pie, and flan. Come to think of it, those cakes would be good for Manila, too....

(Austin) photographer will hopefully be the McKinneys of Red Letter Photos. For hair and make-up, I do not know who to go to yet.

For flowers, we're thinking Petals, Ink. per Julia (Jess' sister)'s suggestion, and as with our ethic, we'd prefer it be local and seasonal, and a local vendor.

We're still trying to figure out the logistics of music, and the rules of a second wedding. For reception music, it definitely has to be music we can dance and relate to. In Manila, Nikki is suggesting the choir of the church I grew up in, but I think Mom's wanting Lolo Billy's students/orchestra. Then for the wedding, maybe legal stuff will be in Texas and religious will be in the Philippines? Er. I don't know.

Ok, this is most of things from our end right now. Jess is telling me to relax, but I really feel I should be on the ball here. Thus the search continues...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hi guys.

Ahem. This will not be a long post, I just wanted to poke my head in and say hello.

As Therese says, I asked her to marry me earlier this month at a local restaurant we like. We are already in the thick of planning - we are visiting Austin in two weeks, and we will be visiting a couple of prospective venues. We are hoping to have a fairly simple ceremony, with reception to follow immediately. If we get the location straightened out, we can start on menu and entertainment, and be fairly well on our way.

There are all kinds of different approaches to weddings, as I am coming to realize. Some favor keeping it simple and doing for themselves, some people go to Disney World and hand over their plastic. This is what it comes down to for me - a wedding should be fun. So keep the ceremony nice but brief, provide good food and decent booze, and let people eat, drink, dance, sing, tell stories, or just sit and enjoy. It's a party, right?

When my grandfather passed away one of the things that struck me was that a funeral is not for the dead, but for the living. Similarly, but in a happy way, the wedding is more for the community, for the family and friends, than it is for the couple, who would hopefully honor and support each other in any event. So to everyone planning to attend either wedding, let me say right now - I hope you enjoy it, and I hope that you are glad that you came.

Last, please bear with my fiancee. Therese can be a completist in general, and especially about something like this. I am doing my best to keep her from running herself into the ground, so if she is slow to reply to correspondence, please be patient. She has a lot on her plate right now.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

And It Begins

Welcome to Jess' and my blog; this is Therese with the first post. Currently we are scrambling (well, I am) to start with who to invite, how many people to invite, what colors, what dress, and so on. We do have about a year and more to plan for both weddings (wait, two? yes, two), but I firmly believe it's better to stress now than later. However, before we get too embroiled planning, here is how it started.

Jess had planned to buy my engagement ring before Christmas, but it was too close to the holidays that they would only deliver in January, so he decided to postpone it 'til then. He got the ring the first week of January 2010 and had it delivered at work. Unbeknownst to me, he had it in his bag; I had put a bag of chocolates for him to share right next to the box! After that, he hid it in a safer place ;) That Friday, January 8 2010, under the guise of celebrating our monthsary (Jan 10, but I worked, so we went out Jan 8 instead), we had dinner at T'afia, and after dinner, before dessert, he gave me a card that asked me to marry him, and as I was reading, whipped out a box...with a shiny sparkly ring inside it. Even as we had talked about this day, I was still floored. I covered my mouth, looked at him all shocked, and squeaked, "really?" and proceeded to softly, in shocked tones, "What! Are you serious?!" to which Jess replied a tad exasperatedly (if still affectionately), "What do you think?!" Then I asked why. And yes, Jess, maybe it's not a why question but a yes-or-no one (however, I still think most questions are why questions) So in the end, I covered my eyes, peeked and squeaked, "ok." I'm shy like that. :)

We tell family (and facebook) the happy news not too long after, and now it's plan, plan, plan. We have sent out a poll of some sorts of who is probably going to the ceremonies, which are:

1) Jan. 15, 2011 in Manila, Philippines --> where I grew up and where most of my family and childhood friends still reside

2) Sept. 10, 2011 in Austin, Texas (USA) --> where Jess grew up and where most of his family and childhood friends still reside; also closer to where we met and now live: Houston, Texas!

So we've come up with the dates, so far, which I think is always the first step. I have also been accumulating a wedding/related lit collection of sorts, and reading several blogs, all of which have been helping with ideas and so on. To this end, I wanted a color theme that the entourage can use again afterwards, at the same time not black per my mother's preference, so after much discussion, the happy medium of a color theme is royal blue, with touches of ivory, and flower-wise, with touches of lemon yellow and apple green. I think royal blue is a pretty universal color, and not too hard to find, as well.

We have also more or less firmed up our entourage, so yay! As for the very-important wedding dress, I am still toying with the idea of buying secondhand, or having a tailor make it, but if it doesn't work out, or is comparable to a designer dress, I will probably have it made by a Philippine designer, Patrice Ramos-Diaz. She is not cheap, but I've loved her designs for years, so. I recently contacted her office, and her assistant asked me to make a "mood board" of favorite images, etc so they can determine from there how to go about designing my dress. It's kind of a cool concept. She added that I can show that to the florist, etc as well.

My recent addition to my "team" is an old-fashioned, old school address book. Excel was too much of a pain and took too long: I got those addresses/contact info on paper by alphabet and as of now, I am proud and pleased to say I have replied to everyone who's written me for possible wedding attendance, as well as written their contact details down; natch. A tip I got from a friend was to leave the opposite page blank for notes/gifts received/etc. Hmm.

Now, with address book in hand, I feel more equipped to face the planning process. Jess has been looking at venues and pricing; we hope to resolve that soon, too.

Onward we go!

Song of the day: You and Me by DMB