Yet another Sunday night where my heart bursts of excitement while blogging at a Starbucks.

It has been a very full summer. Much of it has to do with the impending events surrounding our wedding. Random visits to New York for friends and family has increased this summer, allowing for more mellowing and reveling in the company of good souls. This morning my brother and I sat around discussing how to keep our family close, particularly now that I am spinning off. In less than two weeks, I'll have a different last name. And while this is an entirely welcome change when it comes to joining Chris as his partner, I admit that I lay quietly one night a few weeks ago, unable to sleep, and cried a little for the end of an era.

For the past two weeks, I've had my nose buried in a book called Inside the Apple. I love it. I love keeping my eyes out for the small snippets of New York left from the 1600s, the 1700s, the era of Edith Wharton and that of La Guardia. It is complex, this city. In a way, I hate that its gloss and sheen doesn't match, that there's no single aesthetic. Take Paris, for example, for its white fortress-like buildings. New York doesn't have that going for it.

But I do think in the past few weeks, I've come to appreciate that this city depicts a timeline with the depth of literature. While I mourn the Dutch houses that were torn down or lost to fire, New York City shrugs its shoulders and says fuggedaboutit. There's always more history to come.

Same goes for me, no matter my name.


I don't want to write about the wedding on the blog all the time, but indeed, it is where my headspace is and I know I'll one day regret having none of the details marked down. We walked our photographer around the venue yesterday, pointing out where Chris will get ready, where I'll slip into my dress. Last week I had my last fitting and I'm very happy with what I'll wear to get my wedding on. It's simple and romantic and unique. I'm wearing flat sandals because I have no patience for heels when there's dancing to be done. I'm wearing my mom's pearl necklace, Katherine's veil and (most likely) Sarah's earrings. If some people are what they eat, then I am surely what I will wear that day, a combination of newness and oldness, borrowedness and plain old happy.


I watched Sheryl Sandberg's TED talk a few weeks ago and whoah. It fueled me. You know how someone talks about a space that's open, an opportunity or a vision and you just want to get on board? That's how it felt. Like all of the potential in my cells pooled together and I was suddenly ready to sit down and take names and take off. I've always had ambition, but have had a hard time wrapping my head around which direction to point it in. Well call NASA 'cause I've got some rocket fuel in my back pocket, ready to prove something about myself and about women leaders but also (and maybe more importantly), ready to work really hard towards the success of something larger than myself. 


So we've got thirteen more days until we cut the ribbon on our brand new lives. New name, new ambition, new husband (but luckily, same old Chris). We leave the night after the wedding for the airport, destination Portland, where we'll start our honeymoon roadtrip down the Pacific coast. I am so excited for bike riding and hiking and book shopping and beach laying and pretty-view-driving and life planning and talking and not talking. 

And all of the awesome, exciting things that are over the horizon for our new little family. T minus 13. Go. 


Titles are important.

I've been spending a lot of time in bookstores lately. Here are two titles that made me gasp, they were so beautiful:


Next stop: Tiaras and Toddlers and Oscar & Ollie.

This morning a woman from KittyKind, the shelter that we adopted both cats from, emailed me to ask if our cats could be featured in a 2012 calendar. They'd come to our place to do a photo shoot and we'd write up a blurb about the boys, how we got them and what they're like.

I mean, are you kidding me? Appeal to my parental side, why don't you!

So O & O are about to become famous. I cannot wait to see what month they're picked for. I suppose it's possible that they're chosen for separate months, in which case Oscar would probably be best suited for May or October, totally comfortable and relaxed months. And Ollie? What's that month that represents total affection but also nightly paper-eating and other inedible objects again?

Here they are rumbling a few weeks ago...

Rumble from Jen Epting on Vimeo.


The pretty things of July.

Inspired by the flowers of Madison, I hit up the farmer's market last weekend for some flowers. Since I'm about half a summer too late, they were having a sweet sale. A flat of 18 plants for $20. Yes, please.

They've been making themselves at home on our deck for over a week now and have filled out their pots more fully. Even though they each take an entire watering can every morning (a horrible zap on my morning pre-work time!), I love them. They are colorful and rising to the occasion of summer. They decorated a little gathering we had this past weekend and they will continue to brighten the deck as foreign friends come to stay while we're away on our honeymoon.

The garden, in general, this summer has been bountiful. String beans and snap peas and lettuce galore. Lots of herbs too that always seem like good ideas, but that often head to seed long before I could ever use them all. Ah well, there must be something to fill the spaces between the bigger crops.

This is a cheesecake I made this weekend, my very first one. It was a New York cheesecake, which means that it was made with a little lemon zest- and people went wild! Cinnamon graham cracker crust and all, I was pretty proud of my latest creation.

We picked up our rings yesterday and I'm in love with my wedding band. It's so tiny and fragile and I love thinking about using my hands while wearing it to do crazy life things. Like give a baby a bath or high five my husband or hold open a copy of my first novel while signing it for someone. Choosing the jewelry we'll wear for a very long time is such a special thing.

Somehow in the past ten days, we've gone from wedding anxious to wedding ready. Oh sure, we have to figure out programs and print out table numbers, but we're set. And ironically, once we've calmed down in our waking life, my sleeping life is full of anxieties. I can't get my necklace out of its box to wear or my hairdresser only does half my head or my mom refuses to put on her gown. Last night I tossed and turned for hours, not because I was anxious, but because it's all a lot to take in. It's all a lot to process and imagine happening and get excited about. And now that we have our guest list finalized, it's really, totally imaginable.

I used to have dreams, with other boyfriends, that I got to the alter and left. I woke up, heart pounding, feeling like the worst person in the world. Haven't had that dream in over three years. And so even though it's extremely irritating to be thinking about extension cords at 4am when I'm woken up by one of the cats, I'm so extremely grateful that I'm not worried about who I'm headed down the aisle to meet.


Beginnings on a Friday night.

Tonight was grilled cheese sandwiches and microwave popcorn and rain. Old, dusty rain that started falling late in the afternoon when everyone at work wished it was two hours later than it really was.

Rain on a Friday evening feels like summer vacation from summer. No roof decks call, no sunny streets tempt, you don't even want ice cream.

What you want is a grilled cheese sandwich with popcorn on the side (double serving of carbs, please) and a tall glass of cold water. What you want is your fiance playing video games while you settle deep into the couch and start writing the novel that presented itself during the flight to Madison last week. What you want is for the novel to come out as easily as its 12-chapter-outline did.

It doesn't. Not as easily. But you still get 1500 words in. And that's a very good start.


Napping brothers.

Madison and choosing cities.

Tonight I tried to broil chicken on my stone pan and it exploded in the oven. On top of that, the chicken didn't come out very good. Chris suggested a post-dinner walk, which was a great idea. When one feels like a domestic failure, the best solution is to get some fresh air (and get away from exploded dishes).

Brooklyn is less shiny than it was a week ago. We spent July 4 with our friends, the Sarahs, in Madison. I can't attest to what Madison is like in the winter (my guess = an icy nightmare), but the summer in Madison? Pretty much Crayola:

Those orange lilies are everywhere. Like, as if someone a hundred years ago took one billion seeds and planted them all around the soil so that they would sprout up every year, their very happy faces making even the dingiest of college housing charming.

I'm going to write a Madison travel guide in the next few days. I've been researching Japan lately - we're headed there in the spring - and you'd be surprised how hard it is to get personal advice on traveling. All I want is for one of the bloggers that I normally read to post the best places to get coffee in Japan and I'm there. Unfortunately, I'm relegated to Fromer's and Lonely Planet and lots of Google searching. Then I remembered that I have MY VERY OWN travel section and that I should put my travel tips out into the world before expecting some in return. So stay tuned, Madison tips.

This afternoon I took my wedding dress to get fitted and Sarah (not one of the Madison Sarahs) came with. She brought her bridesmaid dress and they quoted her $200 to have it made a bit smaller. Obviously this is insane. And you know what? It's New York! It's totally this damn expensive city; something that would be $50 somewhere else is totally blown out of proportion on this stupid island.

You get what you pay for. I know that. We have diversity and culture. I hear tons of different languages spoken on the sidewalks around me on a daily basis. Our airport flies to anywhere.

But seeing smaller cities has been good for us. Tonight while we ate our ice cream, we talked more about Portland, how we're looking forward to visiting it again during our honeymoon road trip. Madison was lovely, but we both agree, a little bit small.

This stuff is hard, you know? When you look several years in advance and think about the kind of life you want to be living, it almost seems easier if you have one option. Tonight we talked through everything from London to San Francisco. It's a different world today than it was 30 years ago when my parents had me.

One truth: airplanes, when you can afford them, are easy. You lunch in New York and dine in Madison with friends. We have friends flying in from England and Switzerland and France for our wedding. When you want to make the time and the friends are important enough, things come together. I guess, no matter where we end up, that's one of the things we can content ourselves with.

More Madison pix here.


Orphan cats and a favor.

I worked from home this morning, letting the laundry happen behind the scenes as I wireframed. This weekend makes two in a row that the cats will be alone. I kind of hate that, but our neighbors across the hall are going to come and take care of them every morning with their kids in tow. I'm sure they will be fine... though Ollie was very cuddly this morning as he sensed something was up.

Ollie in a rare moment of being still.

Ollie on my lap, Oscar in background.

I have a favor to ask! I'm working on a presentation I may give at another conference this fall (I KNOW. TWO CONFERENCES. It's crazy.) and I am looking for... wait for it... photos of people's bookshelves at home! Or at work, I guess. Essentially, I'm trying to collect a bunch of photos of people's bookshelves and I wondered if any blog readers would want to send some in!

If you're interested (come on, what are you doing this weekend anyway? Take a break from the watermelon.), please email jennifer DOT epting AT gmail DOT com with at least one shot of your bookshelves. Also, please answer the following questions:
1. How are your books arranged? (Even "by size" is technically a way to arrange!)
2. Is there a section of the shelves that is most important or that holds the most important books? Which is it?

And that's it! I may have a few follow-up questions, but mostly I'm just getting started on some cool and funky research over here in User Experience land.

Happy 4th!