June 29, 2009

Food..Glorious Food!

Yes, everyone! It's time to talk food. While I have not talked about food very much in my blogging, I am somewhat of a foodie. I keep a running list of restaurants for me and Mr. Swan to try and read about food and chefs for fun. I've also been known to spend too much time looking for the right spice for a new recipe. Needless to say, I was pretty excited for our tasting at Battery Gardens.

We had a perfect early evening in June right on the water in Battery Park.

Here's Mr. Swan looking over our cocktail hour hors d'oeuvres options and cheesing it up for the camera.

Mommy Swan got to come too! I was excited to see her. 

As with most meals we started out with a salad at the beginning.

Below is the frissee salad with blue cheese, poached pears, slivered almonds and orange-lemon vinegarette. My personal favorite. 

I'm sorry that you don't get to see much of the presentation in this and many of the other pictures. I got so excited about eating that I did that first before taking pictures. Oops! :)

Next we have the Lola Rosa Salad, which is basically field greens with madarin oranges (I LOVE manadarin oranges), a slice of brie and honey hazelnut vinaigrette. I missed the boat on a picture of this one. Sorry! 

The arugula salad which had melon, pinenuts, some goatcheese and rhubarb vinaigrette.

We ended up picking the frissee salad. Mr. Swan was favoring the arugula, but my thinkiing is that not everyone likes the bitterness of arugula. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Then we moved on to the main courses. I don't really eat much chicken (although I've started to more since I've started to travel) and eat beef on a rare occasion and usually it's a smidgen of something off of Mr. Swan's plate. Mr. Swan also has something against what he calls "Wedding Chicken." It's from all of his days serving as a teenage DJ for weddings and eating a lot of stuffed chicken (no offense to stuffed chicken breasts). There's nothing wrong with that, it's just not his thing. That being said, I let Mr. Swan take the lead on choosing the meat option. 

Our choices:

Filet mignon with porcini peppercorn sauce, a vegetable melange (which was essentially different kinds of potatos) and grilled asparagus.

(Again I got too happy about the food before taking a pic. Sorry for the pic of half-eaten food!)

I actually liked this as someone who is a non-meat eater, and the asparagus was GREAT! I loves me some grilled asparagus. The filet was juicy and well-seasoned, the asparagus was crisp and the potatos tasted wonderful.

The other beef option we chose to taste was a braised beef with a side of mashed potatos, a warm bean salad which looked more like haricot vert to me and almonds. Mr. Swan raved about this but thought that our guests would prefer the filet mignon.

On to the fish and my domain. I started with the red snapper with a ginger crust, braised Asian vegetables and cardamom rice. Um, the rice was the bomb diggity...it was fragrant, perfectly cooked and was a lovely compliment to the vegetables. I thought the snapper was fine. I am not a huge fan of crusted fish, but this wasn't bad at all. 

Finally for the fish dishes, there was the salmon with a wasabi crust, soba noodles and tofu. While I will eat tofu anytime anywhere I know that it's not really the food of choice for many people. 

BUT..the salmon was soo good that we couldn't pass it up. It was perfectly cooked. We'll be having the salmon with the rice and the vegetables that came with the snapper.

There's also going to be vegetarian option, but we didn't get a chance to taste that. The type A in me is just not going to worry. 

Finally, dessert (the best part ofcourse!)!

Coconut Passion Fruit Mousse

At least it's something you don't get all the time. 

I did think about the chocolate mousse
as an option, but we decided to pass. It was VERY good, and I'm not a major chocoholic. 

Ofcourse we could have gone with the classic and always refreshing sorbet. We loved the presentation!

I was amazed that me, Mr. Swan and Mommy Swan all agreed that we liked the coconut passionfruit mousse. Talk about three different palates in harmony. 

Ofcourse a tasting is much different than mass produced food, but we feel pretty comfortable that we'll be serving our guests a nice meal and they won't be starving. I'll talk about cupcakes in a separate post. 

How was your tasting for the wedding? Was it easy to make the final menu choices? 

The Odd Couple

I know you're expecting them: 

Instead I'll give you a picture of me and Mr. Swan.

(Here we are moments before getting engaged)

You see we're an odd couple. I couldn't be marrying a man that is so different from me in so many ways possible. Mr. Swan and I come from such drastically different backgrounds and life experiences that early in our relationship I often wondered if it would really work in the long term. I will admit something to you. In addition to being oblivious that I was even on a date during our first date, I also had pretty much ruled him out as a dating partner without truly getting to know him.

Hear me out, folks. I had been in a few relationships  with men that were very different from me (race, nationality, spiritual beliefs, etc. ), and they had not worked out. Some because of differences in outlook and some for other reasons. I know in 2009 we don't want to talk about these kinds of things, but our cultural and other life experiences do shape us. 

In case you're wondering, here are the ways Mr. Swan and I are different:

Miss Swan
1. Raised by single mom

2. Grew up in large racially and culturally 
diverse city

3. Strong faith orientation

4.  Working class immigrant family

Mr. Swan
1. Parents have been married for 37 years

2. Grew up in small racially and culturally 
homogeneous town

3. Not much into issues of religion and faith

4. Upper middle class family

Plus we are also an interracial couple, if you haven't noticed. :)

I'm not gonna front, e'erbody. When I first started dating Mr. Swan, I thought, "What the heck am I doing? How is this going to work?" There was times when I wasn't sure how he would ever fully understand me as a person and really provide some of the emotional support that I needed. It's bad enough having to deal with the dynamics of being in a relationship with all of our quirks and nuances as people, but then we had to deal with race, cultural, spiritual, class and sometimes political differences. 

I also wondered what this meant for me as someone who very much identifies with her racial and cultural background. Would being with Mr. Swan mean that my culture was less important to me than I thought? The outside world even in the 2000's is sometimes not the most helpful either as I engaged in my own internal struggles. We do get stared at even in my lovely New York City. I probably would stare a little at us too if I did not know us. Here I am with my long locs in some sort of funky outfit walking next to a very preppy looking blonde guy.

After being together for awhile I was determined to deal with our differences head on in part because I thoroughly grew to love Mr. Swan and felt in my heart that there was no reason we could NOT be together. We talked and talked and talked and talked some more about our differences. We both know that the only way to be with each other is to acknowledge where we come from and how we've grown and not act like that our background and experiences don't shape how we intereact with each other and our relationship. We will still have challenges?Ofcourse we will, but I think that we have come to an understanding about who we are and that our differences can be positive for our relationship and its future. We each will bring something to the table that will only help us grow together. 

I've also learned through our time together that we have very similar personalities. We're both sort of slightly high strung (depending on the issue), high energy types. :) 

Do you and your fiance come from different backgrounds, have different life experiences or different belief systems? How do you navigate those differences in your relationship? 

June 23, 2009

Au Naturale

As promised I thought I would show you all some great styles for women of color with natural hair (meaning no chemical straightening). I know that when I started to wear my hair this way WAAAAY back in the mid 90's there were really not t0o many options or places to look for these styles. My how times have changed, and I'm glad to see it! When I'm good and ready to chop off my locs and start fresh, I'm going to need some inspiration. Why not start now, right?

I like this first one the best. These are very small twists that are twisted on the head in a similar manner as cornrows (except they're twists..I hope this makes sense). I think this is totally beautiful, elegant and different.

Here are some other variations of this style.
In this case the ends are twisted together and released to produce a crimped look.

This is a similar style with two strand twists shaping the face. Again those are actually small twists that look like cornrows.

I think I would rock this style below whether I was getting married or not.

More twists except this time hair extensions are added for length as well as to make the style last longer.

Ofcourse for years, my hair was a variation on one of these two styles below. These are much more spruced up versions.

OR Something like this (which usually was a precursor to the one at the above left):

I didn't even get into braids really. Maybe I'll save that for another post. I hope this was helpful to some of the au natural brides out there!

June 18, 2009

The Sports Pages

What could I possibly be referring to? Well, wedding announcements! You see Senora Carrie Bradshaw of "Sex and the City" once called the New York Times Weddings and Celebrations section "the single heterosexual woman's sports pages."

I LOVE looking at the New York Times wedding announcements. I don't know how I started to read them, but all I know is that it satisfies my nosey streak each week. The bride and groom are required to write pretty personal stuff about themselves and their families. I can find out where they went to college and grad school to their parents' non-profit board memberships. My reading experience did start to change a bit for me as I started recognizing a few of the names once in awhile. One week I found someone with my best friend's name and sent it to her. She was pretty surprised she had gotten married and didn't even know it!

I’m not the only one who reads (and maybe even ponders) the announcments. The satire website Gawker has recently revived their weekly analysis of the New York Times announcements. You get a plus (and even a minus) for your annoucement (and to a great extent your life) having certain characterisitcs: add a few points here and there for certain professions or colleges, if the bride stops working after she gets married, etc . I know this is all in jest, but ouch! I guess that's what you get for putting yourself out there, huh?

Since the New York Times is still technically one of our local newspapers, I have been thinking about whether to try to get our wedding included as one of the lucky few. There is apparently a certain mystique around getting your announcement included. Some people have said that back in the day you needed to know someone and or be a part of NYC “society” social set. I don't think that's the case anymore as I see a variety couples from a range of backgrounds. After doing some research I think I have found out the magic formula for getting a wedding announcement published: Just follow the directions! The New York Times apparently has a list of very particular instructions. Case in point: The couple's heads and eyes have to be the same level in the picture submission. Ummm..okay.  I guess many a couple has failed to attain the Holy Grail of wedding announcements by simply not doing what's asked.

Are we going to submit to the Times or any other newspaper for that matter? Well, I actually don't know. I've heard the Times process can be a bit cumbersome (i.e, they fact check everything to the tee! Of course, they should as it is a major newspaper). Also while I'd love to shout it from the rooftops that I am marrying a wonderful man, I don't know if I want a large chunk of America to be reading about it over Sunday brunch.

Are you having engagement or wedding announcements published in your local paper?

June 17, 2009

Two Weddings and a Bus Ride

I realize that I have never really talked about how Mr. Swan and I met. As I mentioned, we met at a wedding of all places!  We met for the first time at the destination wedding of Z and B, two of our childhood friends, in Negril, Jamaica in November 2005. I had known Z since she was about 10 years old after meeting her while we both participated in a youth academic enrichment program  and later attended college together. B and Mr. Swan were childhood friends from Rhode Island who attended elementary school together and stayed close friends throughout their adult life.

I had met B and many of B and Mr. Swan’s mutual friends but never met Mr. Swan until the day of the wedding when Mr. Swan came up to me to introduce himself after the ceremony. We spoke briefly several times for the rest of the weekend, but we did not really connect until our bus ride from the hotel to the airport in Montego Bay. On the bus we enjoyed talking to each other so much that Mr. Swan invited me to a wedding the very next week in Virginia  before he even got off the bus (I was living in DC at the time, and Mr. Swan was living in New York City). He was a pretty brave soul if I do say so myself. 

I thought going to the wedding would be fun. Besides it wasn’t a date ….or was it? Maybe it was Mr. Swan’s friendly demeanor, or maybe I was being completely oblivious. Either way I totally thought I was just accompanying a new friend to an event. I know what you are thinking: "Miss Swan, how could you not know that this was a date?" Well to be honest, I don't know many married people both within and outside my family (most of my friends are unmarried), and so it did not really occur to me that going to a wedding was such a big deal. I thought I'd hang out, get some free drinks and a meal and just wing it. (I realize that's what some people are going to do at our weddings). At the wedding the following weekend,  I even turned to Mr. Swan's best friend's girlfriend at the time and asked her if she had any nice friends for him back in New York. DOH!! Yes, everybody, I was that clueless!!

Somewhere between dessert and post-dinner dancing I realized that I was on a date. At that point, I realized that I kinda liked Mr. Swan. He was sweet, gentlemanly and fun to be around. If you had told me that he was going to be my future husband at the time, I would have laughed...a lot. Anyway, two weddings and a bus ride prompted a six month long-distance relationship and a now almost four year relationship. It seems that this meeting at a wedding thing works. FMIL and FFIL Swan met at a wedding and celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary last week!

Did you or anyone you know meet a significant other at a wedding? 

June 15, 2009

Worry, Worry Go Away!

I would say that I have been pretty stress free for most of the planning thus far. I'm not stressing about the wedding actually coming together or whether things will be perfect. Mr. Swan and I will be married so the perfection will happen for sure. BUT I can't help shake some worries from my mind as we stare down the wedding two months away. So what am I worrying about now? 

1. Many of my friends and family won't make it. - A large chunk of my family and quite a few of my friends live very far away: Hawaii, Paris, London, the Caribbean. Right now, it's looking like most of our guest list will be primarily Mr. Swan's guests. That's not a bad thing, but I do want to be surrounded by the people that are particularly special to me as well. Plus, we're experiencing a baby boom amongst our friends, so even less people to expect. We've still got a lot of RSVPs outstanding so I'm not going to worry too much. Speaking of RSVPs

2. We won't make our minimum. -  (See above) WHAT?!! Usually people are worried that they'll have more guests than they can handle! We've sent out our invitations, but I'm worried that a combination of newborn babies, extensive travel, etc., will keep people away. It's not like I am starting with a ton of people on our ever-changing guest list anyway. I have a very small group of people that I would call friends. Many of them are not married or have significant others so that adds some weird dynamics to the guest list (the whole plus one/"and guest" thing has been kind of confusing for me). Mr. Swan is the opposite; lots of friends all who are married or in long-term dating relationships. I'm not very close to my father's side of my family, many of whom live outside of the country. Most people have the exact opposite issue...yikes! I think we'll  be fine, but it's a worry. 

3. The wedding will be boring. I don't know where I'm getting this from, but I have this weird fear that people will sit around, not dance and stare at each other. Mr. Swan's friends are loud; mine will dance, so where this is coming from I don't know. Everyone coming will be so different from each other that I guess I fear that they won't mix. I've always been the world's most nervous host. Since this is probably the biggest party I'll ever throw, I guess I should not be surprised that I've got major nerves. 

4. Money, money, money. - Need I say more? We're fine but still...I feel like we've been pretty economical so far and this is still not turning out to be very cheap. Sigh....

Do (Did) you have any fears/worries about the wedding?

June 11, 2009

Absolutely Fascinating

I am like Miss Mary Jane. Wearing anything on my head sort of weirds me out. I was kinda dead set against any kind of veil when I first started planning my wedding. You remember when that David's Bridal consultant put a veil on me, right? I've never been someone who wears hats or baseball caps primarily because they just don't fit over my hair in its current or past versions. 

I was definitely looking for an alternative to a veil and then was inspired by homegirl, Keisha over here:

I don't think that everyone can pull off a fascinator, but why not try it? I liked the look because to me it seems to free you from the constraints of a veil if you're not sure about the tradition. At the same time, you gotta be totally diva-esque or just plain confident to pull some of these off. I wasn't completely sure if I fell into this category, but I started to do research...gotta love the research! 

Like I said, I feel like ya gotta be extra diva for something like this one:


Cosette headpiece of Feathers & Frills of Etsy

I so wanted to be one with this headpiece/fascinator because it's just so fresh. Alas, there were too many feathers involved for me. I can't put my finger on it, but I'm not totally attracted to feathers.  Plus I think that this would look great with an extremely simple dress and while mine comes close I think this piece would have been a bit much. I could totally see this with a short simple dress. 

These two from Artikal below are fun and tres modern, but again I was feeling the "I need to be able to pull this off" pressure. 

I can easily say that I was in some serious love with this dramatic headpiece from Portobello.

I love that this is both simple yet intricate all at the same time. I love the pearls and rhinestones (although I don't have anything remotely close to a pearl anywhere in my wedding outfit). I decided against this headpiece in the end, but someone please get this and show me pics!

What do you think I should look for in a headpiece? What do YOU look for in a headpiece? 

June 10, 2009


Oh My, Hive!

I feel like I am jumping through hurdles right now. This is the height of my busy season for my job. I am now traveling four days per week. Last week I left at 7:30am on Monday, got home 10pm on Thursday and had a 9:00am meeting at work the next day. I’m beat. I’m tired of traveling, and I’ve still got to plan a wedding. It took us a month to schedule the appointments with our minister because she’s pretty busy, and I’m never home!

When I am home, I spend time running errands and making a feeble attempt at actually relaxing. Sometimes I actually get some work done. I will say that I am glad that I have stuck to my “Keep it Simple” mantra and that has allowed me to not have an exhaustive list of to-dos. Planning ahead during last fall truly helped. I also have to give a big shout to Mr. Swan who has been holding down the fort at home and been extremely helpful.

Sorry to B%#*% and moan. I know I am not the only one out there that has something crazy going one while trying to plan their wedding.

For those of you having major life things going on right now (e.g., a busy job, buying a house, studying for the bar exam or any other major professional exam, moving), how are you maintaining your energy and life balance and making sure that things get done for the wedding?

June 6, 2009


Well I recently got my hair done, and I decided that I won't cheat after all on my stylist. She brought up my wedding before I even did at my last appointment. I've already told her that I will be stalking her the month of July so we can try to figure something out. At this point, I am going to just relax. She did tell me that I better be looking at pictures of styles that I like. Yes, Ma'am! 

I think I have definitely been moving towards wearing my hair up. Here are a few styles that have been striking my fancy:

I'm sure you remember my favorite old standby. This one really is one of my favorites for its simplicity:

I can also just simplify the updo it a bit too! (although this is probably more complicated than it appears.)


I like this one below because there's a kind of bang going on. I have a big 'ol forehead, and I think I look best with something framing my face.


I usually don't like my hair completely up and back because sometimes it can look a bit severe for me. I think this one is pretty nice though. It seems like like locs were braided together and then pinned up. When she takes her hair down and loosens the braids, it will look crimped like my profile pic to your right.


My stylist has also told me that I don't have to look solely at loc styles either. She can copy something with straightened hair for me. 

Here's one that's definitely pretty :

Are you wearing your hair up, down or some other way for your wedding? 

June 4, 2009

Will It Be NICE?/Lamentations of a Wedding Blogger

I’ve been having a hard time lately. I’ve been feeling kinda insecure about my wedding. As I am sure you’ve seen from my posts I do love weddings, but I’ve been feeling a little weird about mine.  One of the first reactions when I found out that I got picked to be a Bee quickly went from “Yay! How amazing!!” to “Oh #%@$, Mr. Swan!  People are going to be looking at my wedding!!” I mean I was now a wedding blogger at that very moment. Being a wedding blogger, I do feel some pressure to have this totally cool and interesting wedding, ya know? I know that for many people my wedding may have some of the little pretty details but compared to my fellow Bees and you, dear readers, I kinda feel a bit…..inadequate. I know you all are not whispering Kate Hudson’s line from “Bride Wars” about your weddings kicking my wedding’s butt (at least I hope not), but I think you can’t help compare too, right?

It’s not that I haven’t tried to fight being worried about how my wedding will be perceived by all of you super crafty, creative folks out there or anyone else for that matter. I am creative, but weddings require and emphasize a certain ability that gives a great advantage to you visual artists out there.  I’m not one of you (I'm a dancer); I can sort of tell how the wedding will come together, but at this point it’s all a guess for me. I’m sure you’re sick of hearing me say that I don’t craft. :) 

Right now I am not planning many of the amazing little details that many of you are: pretty programs, special favors and you’ve already seen my invitations. Maybe that will change at the last minute. I’m kinda worried that my recap posts will not be particularly interesting or that my wedding just won’t be….nice.  At moments, my emotional state ranges from Mrs. Cheese during her "moment" way back when and Mrs. Peep Toe’s ability to step away from the details.

Right now, I’m going to take another blogger’s advice and chill out about having a "nice wedding," but it’s hard with the wedding about two months away.

Anyone else in the same boat?

June 3, 2009

With a ---- on Top

As some of you may remember, I was slobbering over this lovely cupcake stand from Martha Stewart. I've actually decided to take a different tact with cupcakes, which I'll blog about at a later time. Either way, I have been thinking about what I could do to add a little sumthin' sumthin' to them. 

I stumbled onto the idea of cupcake flags. This is most definitely something you can DIY, and I am sure there are many of you out there who will be planning on doing so. For those that like to outsource like me, there are some options out there on Ye Olde Etsy that will save you a bit of time. 

This is just a sample of the designs available, and I love the  jewel for a little bling effect. These can be completely personalized.

If you want to take it to a whole other level, check out Goosegrease. A little mini you for a cupcake or two?

You also have the option of getting these little ones as wedding cake toppers too, and Miss Stiletto blogged about them a little while ago. They can be custom made (I like the fact that they have little brown ones). 

For those with a more simple chic look, try this other option from Goosegrease.

Birds anyone?

They're made of felt (By the Cupcake Girls)

Maybe something that actually looks like a flag.

From Bonne Nouvelle of Etsy

Are you doing anything special to decorate your cake or cupcakes?