Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Well Suited - And Well Fitted

Suits. Probably one of the biggest wedding headaches thus far, both on account of Sak's inability to fit anything and his chronic fear of clothing stores that kept him from even attempting to find something.

Sak: "Can't I just wear the suit I already have?"

What? WHAT?

Me: "You...already..have a...suit?"
Sak: "Yeah. It's custom fitted from Hawaii, I wore it once to my job interview."
Me: "You...already..have...a..suit..."
Sak: *blank stare* "Yes..."

Sak ran upstairs and looked into that magical closet of his, and custom-fitted, black, practically-brand-new suit!

I had no idea!

Why, oh why, were we looking for another one, if he already had one? Apparently, because Sak didn't think I'd find his existing suit fancy enough.

But if it ends the suit headache, it's most definitely fancy enough. And it fits. IT FITS.

But of course, there's still more to the story. Sak did end up trying Nordstrom's, and they could fit him, but at a very high price tag. We did look through Chinatown, but forgot to get place recommendations before we went. We subsequently got lost and never found anything. We tried another Macy's and Men's Wearhouse and JC Penney's, to no avail. We even tried a kid's suit, but it was too small in the shoulders.

His existing suit is more than fine.

And now that the groom had his suit, we rallied up the brothers again, this time to find something that matched the color and style of said existing suit.

And it wasn't nearly so bad. We went to Men's Wearhouse in Valley Fair and compared the color to all the suits in the store, looking for that right shade of black. It was determined that Sak's suit was more of a red-black rather than a blue-black, and once we found something, the salesperson let the guys try the jackets on outside so we could see the true colors in the sun. We found something similar, at a decent price and zip, zip, zip - measurements were taken.

Then all three were fitted for white French cuff shirts, and we were done. Now wasn't that easy?

But I should have checked the price on the white shirts before buying them. They were seriously pricey for a plain white shirt. And alterations add up too, but that's a necessary expense for our non-standardized men. Total price for two suits and three shirts? $741.28. That breaks down to $349.98 for two suits, $198.50 for three shirts, $130.00 for alterations, and $62.80 in tax. I think we could have done better had I tried harder, but not that bad, especially if it ends my suit-induced headaches.

So now I have some suits lying around my house until I see our brothers again. Hopefully they will still fit in a month or two!

And I still can't believe Sak just happened to have a suit sitting around all this time. It looks good on him - I should convince him to wear it around the house more often!
Sak: International Man of Mystery.

Do you know what's in your significant other's closet? How many suits should one man own?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Custom Hosiery

Does anyone still wear pantyhose? Stockings? Tights?

I'll wear knee-highs or with particulary ill-fitting shoes, but that's about it. I find hose to be a little too itchy and full-of-hassle to wear all the time. According to Wikipedia, the purpose of pantyhose is to "be fashionable, ease chafing between the foot and footwear, keep the legs and feet warm, [and] hide physical imperfections such as blemishes, bruises, scars, hair, or varicose veins".

Those are good reasons, but here's an even better one:
Tattoo stockings!

(source for all above images)

For those of us aren't too keen on getting a real tattoo, but still love the artsy look - this would be a great alternative. And I could easily see how it could be turned "bridal", with the right image or words. Give your husband something funny to read as he reached up your leg for that garter? Have something drawn in for your "something blue"? It could be lots of fun!

Anyway, there's even a simple DIY route - all you need is a Sharpie pen and some hose!

I'm super tempted to try this out - but I'm pretty sure pantyhose would be overkill in hot hawaii weather under layers of dress.

Are you planning on wearing some hose? What would be a cool faux bridal tattoo?

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Ghost of a Dress

"Excuse me, ma'am." says a great white ghost hanging contemptuously in the dining room. "Remember me?"

Yep. That's my wedding dress. Completely un-assembled.

Why haven't I sewn it together yet? The mock-up turned out fine. I reached my target body weight. There's no other legitimate excuse not to put it together.

But I just can't bring myself to do it.

The cause behind the lack of enthusiasm? Maybe I'm experiencing what many other brides do - the second-guess-fear. What if I don't love it as much as I did the first time I saw it? What if my tastes have changed, and the general consensus really has convinced me that pick-ups are out? What if I haven't lost enough weight, and I still look like a giant next to Sak? What if I do a bad job sewing, and it falls apart while I trip down the aisle? What if it gets dirty, and rips to shreds at the dry cleaners?

Neither does it help that Sak is being oh-so-very-meticulous about the construction of the dress. Even cutting out the pieces took longer than expected due to his demands that each snippet be exact and perfect. Much different than the hasty, but adequate, job we did on the mock-up.

Where I deal with my dress fears in avoidance, he deals with his in impossible standards.

Did I mention that I also don't have a back-up dress? This apparition over my dining table is it. The pressure is on.

And there's really only one way to answer all the "what-if" questions.

So no more hiding from you, wrinkled-spirit in white. I will sew that smug smile right off your face, straight onto my rear end. Just you wait. No looking back, I will begin today.

Did you have any dress fears before receiving your final gown? Did it end up in genuine regret, or sweet reassurance?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Red Paint and White Lies

Right off the bat - our red, black and white color scheme was picked. Because it's manly, easy to find, and it matches our home (as much as one could match a home full of anime).

Done deal, right? Not so much. The bakery asked what shade of red to make our red ribbon. The florist wanted to know how dark a red rose to use in our bouquets. My mother asked what hue of red my sister's dress needed to be. Sak's brother wanted to make sure his red tie matched the red in the invitations.

Okay, he didn't really ask that last one, but you get the point. Does shade matter? It's debateable. For me, exact matches aren't as important, but since they were asking...

"Rice bowl red."

That's the shade of red I had in my head. See, it's all in the same ballpark as everything else:

But even though it made sense to me, the professionals still advised me to go to Home Depot and find a paint color name.

Fine, whatever. Taking the rice bowl with him, Sak went to grab some paint chips. In his fear of being a deviant paint-sample theif who had no plans of buying any paint, he probably looked pretty guilty. When the salesperson asked the shifty-looking groom if he needed any help, Sak made up some elaborate story about how he was going to paint his non-existent home. Smooth. Since, you know - everyone chooses the color of their walls based on their tableware.

Indiscreet red. And with Sak's indiscreet painting-lies, I think it fits in a somewhat ironic way.

So there you have it, four months away from our wedding and we finally have an official color.

What's your official color name? High fives to you if it's completely random! And did you lie at the paint store, or tell them the truth about collecting wedding swatches?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Button Pin Badge

The one-inch button has enamored me for quite a long time now. A staple of any fanboy convention scene, they are used to proudly decorate and describe oneself without the need of words.

But are they out of place at a wedding?

I haven't sported the button pins on a regular basis since I left college and joined the professional realm, and as fun as they are, I'm pretty sure Sak would give me a eye roll and a two-letter word starting with "n". Especially when the price tag for a button machine is over $200. That's not exactly a purchase one makes on a whim.

But then I see things like these -

(source) This one is cool since each button is personalized for the respective guest!

(source)Even Martha gives the button pin a nod!

And I think, "Hey - why not?"

However, I'm not sure what our non-twenty-and-under crowd would do with them, even if they were the coolest or cutest of designs. They might wear it for the night, and then toss it the next day. And that would make me sad. I know my mom would probably pin it to her favor backpack, but that's only because she's cool and hip. Would others do the same? Most of our friends are conventioneers themselves, so I know they would appreciate a good badge or two. My sister, I know, would be ecstatic, seeing as she single-handedly blew all her allowance on button pins at last year's anime convention.

While I'm at it, let's just pie-chart our possible guests -

It seems to be a pretty even split. And I automatically gave a "no" vote to anyone I don't really know (like some of Sak's extended family). Overall, I think most guests would be down with the buttons. Maybe they'd even keep them if I kept the designs versatile enough.

Now, to find a happy medium I could always just have buttons made and skip the up-front cost of machine buying. Etsy has some pretty affordable options. But if you know me at all by now, you know that part of me wants to own the whole process. And I know I would use the machine post-wedding - so it wouldn't be a wedding-only splurge. It is on my master wish list of tools to own in the future. Right next to the laser cutter and 3D printer (a girl can dream, right?). Comparatively, this is a more affordable option. Re-fill costs are fairly low, which is a plus.

I guess it just comes down to - am I justifying unnecessary spending by using the "wedding" excuse? It certainly sounds like it. I'll have to sit on this one I think.

Anyone else having some hot-button-action at their wedding? And does anyone know where I can find a cheaper 1-inch machine?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

DIY Sugar Waxing

Last time we talked about sealing wax. Now let's talk about a different kind of wax.

Lately, Sak's been giving me the eww-you-nasty-girl lip curl whenever I walk around the house in shorts.

Why don't I just shave my nasty legs already? Well, I want to experiment. I've never done anything but shaving and Nair before, and well - waxing is just one of those wedding-words that have started up my interest. Like belly-band. And bustle. So, in true Penga-fashion, I did some research on shaving alternatives. Waxing is a pretty good choice, as it helps alleviate common-shaving problems such as ingrown hairs and scabbing.

Being simultaneously a total chicken and a frugal person, I wasn't too keen on the idea of going to a professional for help. So I bought a little no-mess wax kit from Target to try out.
It works well, and it's easy to apply, but it's pretty expensive.

Well, how hard can it be to make your own wax? I turned to my best friend, Google, and found plenty of ideas.

I found one with easy-to-find ingredients, and it turns out the process is called "sugaring" rather than waxing. Mrs. Cherry Pie wrote about it a while back, so I felt confident trying it out on my gross, unshaven self.

Let's try, shall we? I'll keep out all pictures of my legs, I promise.

There are several recipes floating around out there, but I'll use the most common one with the simplest ingredients. (As a side, I also tried the microwave version with honey, but didn't get good results. Maybe my microwave is lame.)

According to this website, here's what I'll need:

2 cups of sugar
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1/4 cup of water

Mix it up!

I was supposed to heat the sugar up to 250 degrees F, but seeing as I didn't have a candy thermometer, I tried with a meat thermometer instead. I don't know what happens if you overwork a mercury thermometer, but I didn't let it go all the way to the end of the meter, in case it really does explode.

I let it cool down to about 100 degrees, which took forever and made me very impatient. I forced it in the freezer for a while. While waiting for it to cool, I cut up some leftover cotton fabric into strips.

After retrieving the cooled liquid, I powdered my leg with cornstarch to give the substance something to cling on. I slapped some of the warm stuff on top and covered it with a fabric strip in the direction my hair grows.

I braced myself for pain, held my skin in one hand and ripped with the other hand.

Except there was no ripping. It just fell right off!

Not so good there.

I washed the sugary goop off my leg and went back to assess what went wrong. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the online photos showed a much denser consistency than my liquid sugar. Maybe it was still too hot? I shoved it back in the freezer and cooled it completely.

Now once the first mixture was cooled completely, I tried it again. No luck, it was still too runny. I tried changing fabric, thinking maybe my canvas muslin wasn't porous enough. Still no luck.

Finally, Sak suggested I heat it up again, thinking maybe I didn't cook it long enough the first time.

Well, surprise, surprise. He was right. I boiled the mixture for another five minute or so, and cooled it down once more.

See how much thicker it is this time? More like honey and less like lemonade. This time it worked. Sort of. Here's what I found:

-Canvas strips worked better than the thin cotton, since they were thicker and didn't "over absorb" the sugar paste.
-The layer of goop needs to be really thin. Too much and the canvas slides around too much.
-The strip needed to be pulled in the opposite direction of my hair growth. I don't know why, as this seems counter-intuitive to me, but it just worked better that way.

And it still hurt like none other. But hey - it's a LOT cheaper. And you can re-use your cloth strips by washing them out and drying them.

Now after that I was done for the day. My legs hurt from all the pulling, so I followed up with some of the oil that came with my Target kit. My legs were bare, for the most part, but there's still a couple patches that need to be cleaned up.

Overall, would I do this again? Maybe, but I think I'll only ditch the trusty razor for special occasions (like a wedding, maybe?). To me, it was a lot of set-up and a lot of mess, only to put yourself through excruciating ripping-pain. But I hear it gets easier with time and practice. I do appreciate how simplistic the ingredients are - no crazy chemicals or anything fussy.

Have you sugared before? How painful is ripping your hair out by the follicle for you?

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Bird is the (Final) Word

A while back, Sak and I made a bunch of cranes for no real purpose other than to fulfill tradition. They are technicolored, and while I thought about re-folding or spray painting them, I decided to take the sage advice given last time, and just leave them as-is.

Now what to do with them, right?

I'm thinking of decorating our ceremony place up a little with them, maybe hanging from the pews?
It might make for some fun, colorful photographs.

Or maybe a curtain of cranes as you walk into the reception?
Any other ideas?

I bought a bunch of glass pearls from Fire Mountain Gems, and started stringing them all up.
Two birds, one pearl, two birds, one pearl.
Forty birds per strand, for a total of 25 strands.

Sak used some metal wire to create little hooks for the end of each strand.

And he made an adjustable cardboard "shower curtain rod" for them should that make attachment easier.

Another project bites the dust! Box it up and ship it off!
What's the lastest item you've checked off your wedding list?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

DIY Cuff-links

With Sak's brother visiting for part of his spring break, I thought it would be a good time to pull out one of the more interesting projects I've been wanting to try: cuff-links!

A few weeks ago I snatched up this book called DIY Bride at the library.

The customized cuff-link idea in particular was very interesting to me, so I started gathering supplies. From Fire Mountain Gems, I ordered a bunch of cuff links (only $1.73 a pair!) with bezel cup settings already attached.

From Michael's I grabbed some 2-part epoxy resin, for about $10.

First, I asked Sak, his brother and my brother what kind of cuff-link images they'd like. Penga brother wanted some cool-looking crosses, Sak-brother wanted the first character of his Japanese name, and Sak (naturally) chose to use Keroro and Tamama's heads. After they had all decided, Sak went to work scaling the images down to a half inch diameter circle. We printed that out, and cut out the circles.

Sak decided to make everything black and white so as not to stand out too much, but really these can be as colorful as you'd like.

Next, we pushed the image into the bezel cup. If it doesn't stay on it's own, you can use some glue to keep it from moving.

Then Sak made a little stand for the cuff links to sit in so they could dry evenly.

And now it was time to mix the resin! We kept a window open for ventilation, and used a plastic cup we could throw away later.

Following the directions on the box, we mixed equal parts of each solution together. Then we mixed it together...

...and poured it into the cuff-links!

We accidentally poured too much the first time, while trying to create a nice round meniscus.

Oops, right? Well, since the resin doesn't set for a good 24 hours, we had time to clean it up. But it turned out there was another problem, because after the day-long curing process, the cuff-links still hadn't set! We deduced that we hadn't measured the resin and the hardener in at exactly-equal amounts, so we started over with more precision. The second time it hardened perfectly!

I'm quite pleased with how simple and effective this project turned out, but if I could add one more bit of advice - let the ink on your printed pictures dry completely! Some of our links look a bit "fuzzy" due to paper bleeding, so I might try a couple over again once my second shipment of cuff-links shows up in the mail!

Will your men be wearing cuff-links? What kind?