Thursday, December 10, 2009

Getting Married Small Town Texas Style

On November 14, my good friend Tiffany married her now-husband Robert in a ceremony in her hometown of Hallettsville, Texas. Never heard of the place? Well, I'm not surprised. The population of Hallettsville is 2,700, less than the undergrad population of Rice University, where I met Tiffany on our very first day of college.

Jeff and I made the trek to smalltown Texas, meeting up with our friend Cristina, to celebrate the special occasion. Our weekend started out with a welcome dinner at Tiffany's parent's house. If I'd been a good photographer, I would have photographed the food, because it was ridiculous. We had barbecued beef, ribs, shrimp wrapped with bacon and stuffed with jalapenos, and mashed potatoes with bacon and cheese. It was meat heaven, and it was all delicious. The next day at the wedding, the meat feast continued with grilled beef and chicken, green beans with bacon, and spinach salad with bacon. Good thing we were not vegetarians! I don't think that goes over so well in a town of cattle ranchers.

The next day we had all morning to explore Hallettsville before the 3 p.m. wedding. We began by driving past the water tower to the Wal-Mart. Though still in the old-school style, it is open 24 hours a day and is thus probably the most happening place in town.

From there, we stopped in for kolaches (a Czech pastry popular in these parts) at the locally famous Kountry Bakery. (Again, I failed at photographing food.) We then drove by the donut-deli-Chinese food shop with the liquor store next door (now that's multi-tasking!) and tried to figure out just what a "drive-in" grocery is.

With a bit of time left before the ceremony, we stopped to check out the reception hall. The people in Hallettsville are magic, ya'll, because they took this building

and turned it into this.

Beautiful, huh?

That's not where the beauty ended though. The bride was stunning, and Cristina and I managed to steal time from her busy schedule for a photo. I'm usually not a fan of strapless dresses, but this one was amazing. A perfect choice.

The reception, which was attended by nearly all of Hallettsville it seemed at times, along with many of their out-of-town friends and families, was fun. We started the evening with the Grand March. Apparently a local tradition, the Grand March involves everyone at the reception coupling up and marching around and around the reception hall. At some point, the lead couple (the bride and groom) stop and put their arms together making a bridge that everyone must pass under. The next couple follows suit and so and so forth until everyone makes their way under, including, at the end the bride and groom. They then end up in the middle of the floor where they do their first dance. It was pretty funny. Though also quite tiring. By the time we were done, Cristina and I were out the door to get our flats from the car. Our feet were done.

Later we got to march again. This time, in honor of the groom's New Orleans heritage, we did the Second Line, which involved us marking around waving white handkerchiefs (or Kleenex as the case may be) behind the bride carrying a white parasol all while the New Orlean's style big band played "When the Saints Go Marching In." They definitely did a good job of personalizing their wedding, and I think we all had a great time.

The personalization didn't end at the wedding though. The hotel did their part too, offering Texas-shaped waffles. What more could a person want?

Capping off our very Texas style adventure was the woman we saw set up right at the interstate on-ramp offering photos of her longhorns. I stole one from the car window, because seriously, what's more Texan than that?

Anyhow, congrats Tiffany and Robert! We had fun at our Hallettsville wedding adventure, and we wish you two a long life filled with happiness, adventure, and love.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Don't Move In Without...

In less than two weeks, barring any major disasters, Jeff and I will take ownership of our house. We'll be moving in with practically nothing, literally an air mattress, some clothes, and a bit of food. Our full-fledged move-in will be after Christmas, when we'll drive our belongings from Louisville to Durham with the help of family. We're moving from a one-bedroom apartment to a 1900 sq. foot house, so let's just say that there's going to be a lot of empty space. We're okay with that. We plan to gradually fill it all in as we find items that we really like and the money to buy them with.

But there are some things you just can't live without. Toilet paper for instance.

We want to be sure we have all that necessary type stuff on hand when we move in. I've been brainstorming and making lists, but I'm sure I'm overlooking plenty of things. So let me know, what was the one thing you ran out to get as soon as you moved into your house because you'd forgotten all about it but desperately needed it? Or what did you forget for months but then need and wish you had had it on standby all along? What will I need that I have no notion of? What can't I live without for even a few days? And what should I do or arrange to have done in the time span from when we close to when we actually move our furniture in?

All ideas appreciated.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

To Paint or Not to Paint

The house Jeff and I are planning to buy (inspection today went well, closing date set for 12/15) has two small rooms, both of which are in the very back of the first floor, that are wood paneled. As you may have heard me say before, nearly every single house we saw in our weeks of househunting in Durham had at least one wood paneled room. It's apparently rather in style in this part of the country. The paneling ranged from cheap to expensive, grody to not bad.

Considering there was practically no chance of getting a house without paneling, what we ended up with is pretty darn good. The rooms with the paneling are small, and the paneling itself is of the high-end variety and in good shape.

Here's room #1.

It's the family room, a 12 x 12 room off the back of the much larger living room. The two rooms are connected by a French door style opening in the middle of the wall connecting the two. This means that the rooms are pretty well open to each other, the yellow-painted living room giving way to the wood-paneled family room.

Here's room #2.

It's the study, a tiny 9 x 8 room off the back of the kitchen. A smaller than average doorway connects the two rooms, so you can't see much of the study unless you step all the way into it.

Upon first seeing the house, our plan was to paint the paneling. We're not really into wood paneling, and with hardwood floors, it seemed like total wood overload. Seeing it first on a gloomy, rainy day, the rooms also seemed really dark. At home in Louisville last week, I began the search for paint colors for the rooms while on a trip to Lowe's with my parents.

Today, when we went to the house for the inspection, I took the paint chips I had picked out with me to get an idea of how they'd look. We want to get the house painted before we go home for Christmas so that when we come back with all our junk, we're ready to move right in.

At the end of the day, I still like the colors I picked out. But at the end of the day, I'm also less certain I want to paint at all.

I don't know, but painting wood paneling just feels kind of wrong. Maybe it's the Zimmerman in me. My grandpa was a varnish man and thought painting wood was about the worst thing you could do to it. I'm also worried that painted paneling might just look cheap.

What do you think? I've got myself all confused, and I'm desperately in need of opinions. Would you paint the rooms? Would you leave them as is? Would you paint one and leave one?