Monday, November 30, 2009

Macare & Dustin, Part I

I am sure every wedding planner feels they have the best clients but I know I have the best clients! This year we kicked off our season with a lovely couple, Macare (Kelly) and Dustin Lumbrezer.

I happened to know Macare and Dusty before they contacted A Day in May to help with their wedding. Macare's cousin is one of my best friends Christina (or Tina as mentioned in other posts) and her brother was a good friend in high school. Yes, Macare is from Traverse City! She and Dusty met while Macare was finishing Dental School at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!).

Macare and Dusty chose Crooked Creek Ranch located on the west shores of Lake Leelanau in Cedar, Michigan as the perfect backdrop for their summer soiree and had an intimate ceremony at Immaculate Conception Church in Traverse City.

With the bride's roots firmly planted in Traverse City and the groom's from Ohio, Northern Michigan was the perfect vacation and homecoming for their guests. The weekend started with a canoe trip down the Platte River from Riverside Canoes through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Thursday with friends and family. On Friday Macare and her bridesmaids headed to Epiphany Salon in downtown Traverse City for some pampering while Dusty and his groomsmen hit the links at The Crown Golf Course. After their rehearsal the wedding party made their way to Old Mission Tavern on the Old Mission Peninsula- Macare's grandmother Verna Bartnick is the owner and sculptor who's art is featured at the tavern.

Saturday morning came around and the day could not have been any more perfect. Here are a few of my favorite shots from the day courtesy of Jen Kroll Photography...

Meet Mr. & Mrs. Dustin and Macare Lumbrezer...

Crooked Creek Ranch
, Cedar, Michigan

Coming up, Macare's DIY escort card project Northern Michigan style. You won't want to miss this!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

via Flickr: Whipped Bakeshop

I made a promise to myself yesterday that I would NOT turn on my computer and to enjoy the day with family therefore this blog entry is really "on time" and not "a day late."

I love Thanksgiving. It's a holiday that is genuine- focused on being thankful and appreciative. There are no gifts or the stress of earning approval or the feeling of having to evoke fake-excitement (you all know what I am talking about there).

Kyle and I are very fortunate to be able to see both our our families in the same day. We live about a hour away from his parents and 10 minutes from my parents. We met our new niece Violet for the first time, ate way too much food (two dinners) and then laughed until we cried while googling "how wine corks are made" and trying to say Cork Oak Tree really fast 5 times in a row- try it. On top of the fun we are so thankful to have such great families and homes.

This isn't a "soap box" entry it's a reality entry. We take for granted our roof over our heads, running water in our kitchens and bathrooms, electricity, fine food on the table... We do live in a country where it's possible to own a home and land and a country that fights for our freedom. We have great people in our lives that love us unconditionally.

I hope over the next couple days, while you are fighting the next person in line for the last GI Joe, or whatever toy is the "it" item, you take a moment to be thankful for what you have- and most importantly tell those you love you are thankful for them. Here is what I am thankful for...

My husband Kyle.
My parents Steve and Gail.
My brother Andrew.
My puppy Murphy.
My extended family(s).
My friends who are scattered all over the city and country.
My company that started off as a dream.
My beautiful home that's safe and warm.
My faith and belief in the I Am.

Now go get those door buster deals and eat leftovers- that's what we're going to do!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Face with a Name

Since launching A Day in May, Event Planning & Design in 2007 I have never had a picture of myself on our website. In our industry we are always behind the scenes and never a part of the pictures or the full experience thus I never thought it was really "me" to have a picture on the site. I didn't want clients to judge what I looked like and who they thought I was as a person- just like judging a book by it's cover (which I do all the time). And I wanted my work to speak for itself.

BUT, this past August I got an email from my now friend Cory Weber, with Cory Weber Photography that cracked me up! I was in Colorado for a client's wedding and he apparently "thought" he saw me at the airport when I was leaving Traverse City- at this time we hadn't met yet. He proceeded to tell me how he had to look (more like scour) my blog for a picture of me to make sure it really was me that he saw, all the while trying to not sound stalker-ish (no worries Cory, I never thought that... well maybe for a second!).

I realized that being behind the scenes was important to a degree but building a company and a niche for myself in the local and Michigan market meant I needed to be present and accessible. Also, recognizable. So, my dearest friend and our very own Wedding photographer, Jen Kroll, agreed to take some pictures for me one fall evening. As usual we had a blast and enjoyed "I'm too Sexy" jokes while she captured my inner spirit.

It was through Jen's work that I saw myself for the first time. There is a rawness to seeing yourself. I mean, really seeing yourself for the first time. Even though I've crossed all these milestones in my life I still "saw" myself as this insecure girl with big dreams. But thanks to Jen I see a strong woman who loves life, family, friends, God's creation. I see my mother's daughter and my father's daughter. I see my husband's wife and my brother's sister. I see a friend. I see me.

Here are a few photos taken from Jen's Blog and our fun evening...

Yes, this is Murphy. As Jen called him, "our fury baby" and he loved that I dragged a chair into his domain- the field behind our house!

Thanks Jen for capturing me. You are such a talent (we'll chat more about her amazing work later) and I'm honored to have you in my life- to make me smile and to take dashboard photos for Kyle!

Inspiration: Roma, Part II

The last Sunday of every month the Vatican Museum opens it doors to the public for free and we just so happened to be there the last day of the month. However as Andrew and I found out, this wasn't "any given Sunday."

We got up early to get in line at St. Peter's to climb the dome. There were a substantial amount of people in the square and in the basilica- actually an abnormal amount of people. We got in "line", the line we thought was to the ticket counter to the dome but was actually a line to sit in the basilica for service. It was Pentecost Sunday and we were at the Vatican.

We are not Catholic, we are Christians and believers in God, however I must admit it was amazing seeing the pilgrimage at the Vatican that day. For those of you unfamiliar with Pentecost it marks the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus as described in the Book of Acts, Chapter 2, or the "Church's Birthday."

Since service was being held we were unable to climb the dome- it really is a spectacular view, I climbed it last visit. We made our way back through St. Peter's Square to go get in line at the Musei Vaticani when Andrew saw the Vatican police...

I am not sure what I did to my camera to make everything look like Smurfville but the most important thing here to notice is that the officers are riding around in a Lamborghini golf cart! Yes, it says Lamborghini and it's a golf cart!

Remember we went on this European holiday for Andrew to drive on the autobahn and for Andrew to see Porche and Mercedes. But Andrew was more excited to see this golf cart than he was to see the coveted engine room at Porche. We could have just skipped the rest right? (Just kidding!)

Since the line for the VM was already around the Vatican wall close to the square I hopped in line while Andrew got Mom and Dad. For those of you who know me, given the opportunity to strike conversation I will. It was suiting that I'd be behind two lovely people from the Netherlands who happen to study in Maine and have traveled to Michigan. As we chatted about the romance and mystery of Rome I shared my knowledge of the city with these first time visitors. Had a Roman been standing behind me they may have been laughing however I was loving being a tour guide!

The entrance to the VM is very unassuming for all that lies behind the doors. Noted as the most extensive and expensive private collection of artwork in the world it's massiveness is noted not only in size but the many names that reside in it's walls. Names like Raphael, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Bernini, etc. etc.

Again, I need to abbreviate so I'm only going to share two pictures. My two favorites in the VM- the Gallery of Maps and the Sistine Chapel.

La Galleria delle carte geografiche (Gallery of Maps) were commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII by Ignazio Danti. He was a professor of math at Bologna and was appointed by the Pope to paint a number of "modern day" maps of Italy. The room is guilded in every sense of the word and you are in awe by the accurateness and detail Danti places in his works. I have a fascination with maps and this room is nothing short of a jaw dropper. The gallery actually is a long hallway connecting two parts of the VM. However notice the picture... and the frescos above. That's not plaster or cast statues, all the details above the hallway are 2D!

(How do I go from maps to the pièce de résistance of the Vatican collection, the Sistine Chapel?) We made our way up the small back stairs and through two moderately sized wooden doors into the chapel. The Sistine Chapel is the work of many talented painters including Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, and Sandro Botticelli. This picture here is of Michelangelo's Last Judgement which he painted from 1535 to 1541 and for five years (1508-1512) he painted upside down, on his back, the incredible images on the vault of the chapel depicting the Bible's defining moments.

It was so cool to see my parents and bother see the beauty and talent of these masters up front. My Dad is an artist and what a cool experience for him to see these masterpieces in real life and not in a book.

Okay, so that's it on the Vatican Museum. From there we headed into St. Peter's Basilica- since Mom and Dad hadn't checked it out yet and the mass was over.

One would think that Pentecost would be enough activity however walking out of St. Peter's we noticed (for the first time even though I'd been walking around there all morning) that there were thousands of people lining the streets an riders with cars were winding there way through Rome's streets. Yes we were smack dab in the middle of the Giro d' Italia Centennial- the second largest international cycling competition to the Tour de' France!

Our afternoon was going to be spent visiting the Forum and the Colosseum, little did we know that the Giro was to end at the Colosseum and that we'd be fighting thousands more people just to get there. But it was incredibly cool seeing these professional cyclists and all their teams finishing the race outside of one of Seven Wonders of the Modern World!

If you haven't seen the movie The Gladiator with Russel Crow you need to. It's a fantasized but somewhat accurate account of the blood bath known as the Colosseum. Construction originally started on the Colosseum in 72 AD- that's over 1,900 plus years ago! Here are a few of my favorite images...

Walking back from the Colosseum we tracked through the Forum and the history the streets and Seven Hills contain. And since I was tired of seeing "old" things I found these adorable Jordan Almond flowers. I must use them for a wedding :)

I don't think any of our 2010 brides are Italian... any takers?

And of course we need a family portrait. I gave my DSLR to someone to take our pic in front of St. Peter's but the focus didn't turn out so this time around I gave my SD800 to the photographer, aka. American tourist, but it appears that a finger print is blurring the bottom right hand portion. It's perfect. Our lives are never really in focus right!

Hmmm... I guess that's it. That's our trip. Hopefully I spared you all the history you didn't really want (even though I love it!) and gave you some insight to the dis-functionality but reasons why I love my family so much... oh and Kyle... yes this whole time I missed him and spoke with him almost daily while he was eating lunch. It was such a gift to travel again as a family of four and I will keep these memories forever. Traveling with 4 adult minds can be challenging but once I put my "little girl" cap back on it was fabulous!

Let's hope our coins in Trevi Fountain work... I am looking forward to my return visit! Ciao bella!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Inspiration: Roma, Part I

Yes, the bus ride to Rome was less eventful and the transition from bus station to hotel was effortless. This time our home for a few days was a Roman apartment just outside the Vatican Walls (the north eastern area of Rome).

Once settled in we headed out to explore. Rome was the last European city I visited in 2005 with Christina and Lindsey on our Graduation Trip. I was our tour guide then and it seemed fitting I'd be the tour guide once more. Rome is not for the faint of heart. It's for lovers of life and people. It truly is the heart of modern civilization. I'm still flabbergasted by the blend of modern structures and ancient ruins.

Since we were right next to the Vatican we headed to St. Peter's Square. Just as we saw a wedding in Siena earlier that day we came upon two wedding parties in SPS. The light during the early evening was very pretty and made for a great walk.

One of two of Bernini's fountains in the piazza. This obelisk is the only remaining Egyptian obelisk from ancient Rome still standing.

From St. Peters we walked toward the Tiber River to cross the Ponte Sant'Angelo. Yes, that is where Dan Brown's book Angels and Demons reached the climax. It's a stunning bridge faced with travertine and adorned with ten angels.

Continuing our journey in typical Alicia fashion I had my head buried in a map determined to retrace some of our steps from my last trip to Rome. I love the energy and excitement of dining outside in Rome thus we made our way to Piazza Navona. To save you hours of reading my nonsense here is a brief history- in ancient times it was as stadium where Romans would come to watch the games, it's home to Bernini's Four Rivers fountain, Porta's Fountain of Neptune and is considered by many a fine example of Baroque architecture and art in Rome.

Apparently Andrew still thinks we're in Germany. What the...? Bathed in evening light here is the Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone. The church marks the site where Saint Agnes was martyred.

My lovely parents.

From Piazza Navona we made our way through the streets to the Pantheon and Piazza della Rotonda. The original Pantheon was build by Marcus Agrippa in the 2nd century and has been used continuously throughout history.

There is a fabulous gelato shop just outside in the piazza and many great restaurants to enjoy the endless people watching. Not to mention, the best espresso I've ever had is just off the east side of the piazza known as Tazza D'Oro. Four years ago I had my first true espresso there and of course I brought Dad and Andrew (Mom doesn't like drink coffee) to experience the goodness. Dad loved it but Andrew not so much. We still have our beans we use for espresso when the Kroll's come to visit- right Jay?

And what would be a night in Rome without a trip to Trevi Fountain? I could try and explain the rush of people, trinket sellers and tourists or the impressiveness this fountain exudes but I can't. This post is already getting too long!

Andrew is tossing a coin into the fountain for good luck and a return trip to Rome. Over 3,000 Euros are thrown into the fountain each day!

With a full day ahead of us we made our way back to our apartment. Tuscany in the morning, Rome in the evening. Who lives like this? Apparently we did! Next up- Musei Vaticani, St. Peter's Basilica, the Colosseum and Pentecost.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Inspiration: Siena

With a fabulous hotel nestled in the heart of Tuscany we set in for a few days of relaxation and a slower pace of life that only the Tuscan's can create.

In Siena the city center is walkable in a half a day and major sites are clearly marked. Our first stop of the day was the grandiose cathedral, the Duomo. Construction began on the Duomo in the 12th century- hard to believe something so massive and detailed could be so old! In the 1300's plans were made for an addition that would rival Italy's other prominent cathedrals but construction was never completed.

Having seen on a prior trip to Italy the Duomo in Florence and St. Peter's Basilica (stay tuned for the next post) I wasn't expecting much however I was incredibly impressed and in awe of the fantastic mosaic floors, craftmanship and famous artists that contributed to its creation.

As I mentioned in the last post I could go on and on about the beauty and awe of this cathedral but I'd spend two pages telling you about all the history and details. Like I said... Rick Steves.

And, also as I mentioned last post, Siena is home to Palio which takes place in the Piazza del Campo. We grabbed fabulous pizzas and vino for lunch on Il Campo and people watched while eating al fresco.

After lunch Andrew and I decided we'd like to climb the Torre del Mangia (the tower of Siena). I don't remember how many steps it was but I do remember almost having a panic attack- the stairs are so narrow that you have to step carefully and duck your head to not hit the cramped steps above you. Because of the close quarters only 25 people are allowed at a time but the view is spectacular. (I had to include this cool picture of the bowled piazza. Even though the tower walls are 11 feet thick on either side I was worried when they sad it "shifts in the wind.")

This was just one of the breathtaking views from the top. Funny story. We reached the look out and there were two others up top. One was wearing a Hope College t-shirt. (For those unfamiliar Hope College is in Holland, Michigan.) After asking if he attended Hope this world traveler was a fellow Michigander. Small world.

With our feet on solid ground again we wondering the Sienese streets. Many ancient charms still remain- like these awesome hooks and rings where riders used to tie their horses.

There were beautiful pottery shops everywhere. The vibrant colors and intricate patterns are captivating. I purchased a small piece from a local artist but I adored these tiles representing the many neighborhoods of Siena and their coats of arms. And since I've been traveling I have discovered my love for gated courtyards and the vines that hold their secrets. (I have a fabulous shot of wisteria vines at Windsor Castle in England in my office.)

As the sun set on another gorgeous day in Italy (my heaven on earth) we made our way to the grocery store and gathered a feast for the ages... Parmesan cheese, focaccia bread, salami, prosciutto and a bottle of Chianti Classico. I slept well even though all through the trip Andrew and I either shared a bed or a bedroom. Praise God I had my own bed this leg of the trip because his snoring was horrible!

We woke with more sun and a warm breeze. Since we had no adjenda other than making our bus at 3:00 at the station (this time we were prepared) to head to Rome our morning was relaxed with the exception of the three cappuccinos Dad, Andrew and I each had. Our server/cook at the Villa was a fantastic barista! Once the caffine was mixed thoroughly with my blood stream I was ready to go and had a one track mind for gelato.

The front desk attendant called a cab and we were off to wander Siena's streets one last time. And look what we found...

Even though I was fixated on my pinapple, coconut and cherry vanilla gelato I managed to focus just long enough across Il Campo to find none other than an Italian wedding.

It was so sweet and intimate. The couple and guests walked from the church to this charming restaurant right on the pizza called La Biblioteca. It appeared as if they had rented the entire establishment and they sang, danced and dined on Siena's biggest stage. I loved her bouquet- you can see it slightly above in my paparazzi picture (I had to hide my camera under the gelato to not look like a freaky tourist).

The perfect ending to the most perfect taste of Tuscany. Each time I take a bite, enjoy and leave wanting more... till next time.

Our journey back to Rome was not as exciting as our journey to Siena however when we arrived I was ready to take on the chaos and as i said, "bella chaos!"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Inspiration: Journey to Siena and Villa Montarioso

Well it's been a while since I actually posted about our European adventure but I'm determined to finish our travel recap over the next few days then really dive into A Day in May. But where was I, oh yes...

My mom did a great job planning the trip down to all the transport details and logistics but the one "transition" (a term I love to use in the event industry) that was not planned was getting from Stuttgart to Siena. We had great flights on Swiss Air (highly recommend) and arrived on time in Zurich and then again in Rome. From Rome we were funneled to baggage claim where I began formulating our next steps thus feeling a little uneasy knowing the chaos that lays down the train track... Roma.

We got tickets for the local train from Leonardo Da Vinci (Rome's airport) to the city and through the grace of Rick Steve's Italy (never leave home without his books!) we made it on the right train and headed in the right direction. While following the train stops and matching the names of the stops I somehow miscounted and we all got off in the wrong district. We had to wait another 8 minutes before the train came around and we were able to board. Once on we had two stops to go until the main bus station.

Okay, let's try this again. We get off the bus and head into the building. Where was the bus ticket office? (Last time in Rome and in Europe we never traveled by bus.) Where were the officials? I hastely grab my dad and we walk to the EuroRail booth to ask about the bus stop. He directs us out of the station and into an adjacent parking lot. We've now been "in" Rome for over 2 hours and time that we don't know exists is ticking.

Finally the bus station but no buses going to Siena on the "Departure" list. I'm now freaking out inside thus the outside is tense and bright red. We get to the front of the line and the clerk said "the last bus to Siena is leaving. Now." WHAT!!!! We tell Mom and Andrew to run to the bus while we get tickets. I wave at the driver who by the grace of God sees me. He is thankfully still loading luggage and getting passengers seated.

With no minute to spare we make the last bus to Siena for the next 24 hours. If that's not God I don't know what is! So... we now have about 3 hours of the Italian scenery to enjoy. Leaving Rome was chaos, as Rick Steves says "Rome is chaos" and the Romans bella chaos. The view from the bus window changed from traffic and congestion to green fields and expansive vistas. I sat back and took it in.

I could go on and on about Italy, more specifically Tuscany, however for time's sake and my eagerness to share pictures here is the short of it. Siena is an medieval walled city in the heart of Tuscany. It's divided into nieghborhoods which are similar to NYC's boroughs. The city is known for Palio- the medieval horse race that takes place twice a year (once in July and again in August). Their city center, Il Campo, is where all the action takes place. Check out James Bond with Daniel Craig and you'll see the first part of the movie is filmed during Palio.

Anyways, it's a sleepy town that is filled with everything Tuscan, thus everything delicious, wonderful and heavenly...

Kudos to Mom because she found the most awesome hotel ever, Villa Montarioso located in Monteriggioni which is about a 10 minute cab right from the center of Siena. A 200 year old palace that was bought by the church and converted into a chic, comfortable and most importantly Italian, hotel. And this was the first view we saw...

Under the Tuscan sun... and loving it.

The entryway is so quaint and inviting.

The building itself is simple but utterly Italian.

Magenta petunia flowers in baskets hang over the wrought iron railings.

Dad and I would read out here in the mornings overlooking the countryside and basking in the sunshine.

My favorite photo of the whole trip. Sitting at our window open to the landscape enjoying a dinner of prosciutto, salami, Parmesan, focaccia and my own bottle of Chianti... can you hear the angels singing?

Enough about the hotel let's dive into Siena. We got settled and headed into town for a fantastic meal and strolled along the streets. I didn't take too many pictures as I was enjoying the warmth of the night and the secrets the walls around us kept.

This is the Palazzo Salimbeni which is home to the Monte dei Paschi de Siena- one of the oldest banks in continuous existence. It was founded during the 15th century and has been going strong ever since!

We decided to turn in early and rest up for a day of site seeing in Siena and experiencing the glory of this Tuscan town...

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