Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mao's Last Dancer

One of the benefits of living in the greater DC area is being able to see movies that wouldn't normally run in South Carolina. Richard and I went to see Mao's Last Dancer Friday night (it was my turn to pick), and it was one of the best movies we have seen in some time. It's about Li Cunxin, who was picked by the Chinese government to train in Beijing to be a ballet dancer. He comes to Houston, TX to train with the Houston Ballet, then decides he doesn't want to return to Communist China. The movie shows his struggle with that choice and movingly portrays his life in China through flashbacks and his adaptation to life in America, while fighting the desire of the Chinese consul for him to return home. Worth renting once it comes out!

Friday, August 27, 2010

happy honeymoon

As promised...our LONG overdue honeymoon post! It's three days after our one month anniversary and looking at all of these pictures makes me miss tanned skin, time on the beach with my favorite man, and yummy rum punch!

We arrived in St. Maarten on Sunday afternoon (direct from CLT, where we ate wedding cake for breakfast!) and took the Juluca Pride over to Cap Juluca. We were greeted with our first of many rum punches, seemingly a favorite Anguillan beverage. Our fabulous captain Elvis carried us over to the Anguilla customs check-in in fine fashion.

on the Juluca Pride

We were starving and still kind of shell-shocked from the wedding and traveling, so we ate a low-key dinner at Spice at Cap Juluca and headed back to enjoy our room, which had been decorated with rose petals and candlelight.

our building- Building No. 7

Richard thought it would be fun to sleep on the dyed rose petals, which led to some real pretty sheets the next morning. And dried, crushed rose petals everywhere. It was definitely amusing, and a good lesson learned!

On Monday, we took advantage of the gorgeous beach and some Caribbean dance lessons. We were definitely the only guests there, but still had a great time learning some island steps...and teaching our new friends the Carolina shag!

We enjoyed a cocktail reception for all the guests, then had a delicious seafood dinner on the beach.

gorgeous chandelier in main room of Cap Juluca

more rum punch....seeing a trend here?

On Tuesday we took a mile along the water over to Smokey's BBQ beach cafe. The service on Anguilla is definitely slow, as everyone operates on island time. But when we finally got our food, it was incredible!

I had friends from Columbia who had gone to Cap Juluca just a few weeks before we did, and they recommended the snorkeling trip above anything else. Richard and I picked Anguilla and Cap Juluca because we wanted quiet time alone, but by Wednesday, I think we were both ready for some social interaction. Luckily our snorkeling boat was a PARTY boat! We were paired with two other honeymooning couples, Shelby and Wick from Nashville, and June and Jason from Dallas, and a couple celebrating their 10 year wedding anniversary, Scott and Becca from St. Louis. We had the best time hanging out with them and learning just how interconnected we all were! Shelby grew up just down the road in Greenville, and we had several mutual friends. Wick and Becca had mutual friends in Louisville, and Richard and I shared a wedding date with June and Jason.

before boarding the snorkeling boat

We left Cap Juluca and headed over to a cove to do some snorkeling. There was a huge rock there, and several of the guys (and more adventurous girls!) decided to jump off it into the water below after seeing some locals do it. He was so brave...and very scratched up from the rocks.

After snorkeling, we headed over to Scilly Cay (pronounced "silly key") and were entertained from the moment we stepped off the boat.

A man named Eudoxie owns the island, and he greeted us along with his wife (who you would think was caribbean until you hear her south Georgia accent!) and sons. We were served fresh grilled lobster and crayfish straight out of the ocean, pasta salad and warm, buttered garlic bread. And of course rum punch! Pure bliss.

our new friends and Eudoxie and family

After lunch we headed to another snorkeling spot, but the girls were content to just enjoy the clear water and another rum punch.

with a starfish Richard found

My sweet husband was having a really good time by the ride back...and many a Cap Juluca guest commented that they could hear us coming in from afar. Like I said, it was a party boat!

During our snorkeling excursion, we decided that to all meet up that evening to go see Bankie Banx, a well-known Anguilan reggae performer, at the Dunes Preserve, his hideout. We'd read that it was very hit-or-miss as to whether Bankie would perform, but our snorkeling captain said that he'd heard Bankie was around and would in fact be performing.

getting ready to head out to the Dunes Preserve

We arrived at the Dunes Preserve, which is like a Swiss Family Robinson tree house made out of boat parts. We actually saw Bankie when we walked in but had no idea it was him who greeted us! We were told we had a choice of chicken or ribs for dinner and were brought a round of Caribs, the island beer. After much anticipation and waiting, we were brought our food which was incredible, and were treated to a Bankie Banx (and family) performance. Jimmy Buffet recorded an album in Anguilla at the Dunes Preserve, with Bankie Banx featured on it, so we loved being able to have a Dunes Preserve experience.

waiting for our chicken and ribs

the Webbs with Bankie Banx

The next morning, Richard and I embarked on a cave tour of Anguilla. The interior landscape of Anguilla is nothing to write home about (it's very scrubby and full of limestone), but the caves were interesting. And full of bats...which I could have done without!

In picking Anguilla as our honeymoon destination, we had a hard time deciding between Cap Juluca and the CuisinArt, also on the island. We were really glad we chose Cap Juluca in the end but decided to check out CuisinArt for lunch. It's beautiful, but visiting just confirmed how happy we were with Cap Juluca!


We had a wonderful dinner Thursday night at Veya, then headed over to a few local watering holes with our new friends. Our first stop was Elvis' Beach Bar and then to The Pumphouse, which were told was the place where Anguilla natives go to hang out. Because it was the week before Carnival, the Pumphouse was rocking.

Elvis' Beach Bar

the girls at the Pumphouse

Each morning, we had the option of breakfast being delivered to our balcony overlooking the beach. A sweet lady would set-up fresh coffee, a fruit tray, and bread basket full of yummy treats, including chocolate croissants that I looked forward to every morning!

please note RCW's anti-nausea patch under his ear- those things were lifesavers!

On Friday, we explored the island and then had a sunset cruise, and had planned to do dinner at Mangos with Becca and Scott, two of our new friends, after drinks at the Viceroy. Richard and Scott had other plans though...after a drink at the Viceroy bar, the guys arranged for us to take a tour of the newly built Viceroy hotel. Orlando Bloom had just honeymooned there, and the four-bedroom suite we saw truly was gorgeous. At the tune of several thousand dollars a night, it should be! Our tour caused us to miss our reservations at the highly touted Mangos, so Becca begged the only Mexican restaurant to let us in (even though their kitchen was closed!). Thankfully they did, and we enjoyed some Caribbean quesadillas!

Friday morning on the beach

lunch at Tasty's

Anguilla church

sunset cruise

just hanging out at the Viceroy

We woke up Saturday a little sad knowing it was our last day in paradise and realized we had not gotten a picture of Richard in his fancy airbrushed t-shirt on the beach! After taking care of that, we had lunch at the Straw Hat and found a few souvenirs to take home with us.

Straw Hat

one of fifteen different rum punch recipes Richard tried- he deemed our first at Cap Juluca the best!

We got dressed up for a final dinner out at Blanchard's, one of the best known restaurants on the island.

We met back up for a final time with our new friends. Shelby and Wick had already left, but we added Jamie and Dan to the mix. It was sad to have to say good-bye! Taking a prom pose pic made it a bit easier...

On Sunday morning we took one last tour of the resort, and headed towards the airport.

We had some time to kill before boarding our plane back to the Carolinas, so we went to St. Maarten's Sunset Bar and Grill for lunch, where you can watch the planes fly right overhead into the airport.

Too soon, it was time to get on our own plane and leave paradise- described as tranquility wrapped in blue by an island historian. I ask Richard frequently when we can go back to this special, special place to recreate a week I will never forgot.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wedding Post #1- Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner

I have hesitated in posting anything wedding-related, in hopes of receiving the official photos from the weekend from the photographer and including them in my posts. But in honor of our one-month wedding anniversary, and so that I don't forget the details of all that happened, I decided to go ahead and post using pictures from my camera and friends' cameras. The Sposa Bella photos from the Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner can be viewed at Click on "client access," and the password is "webb." Pictures are under "rehearsal."

I woke up in a state of utter panic on the Friday morning of our rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner. I had tried on my rehearsal dinner dress the night before, and in trying to zip it (after midnight nonetheless), I busted the zipper! The dress had gone through many alterations and the zipper was never in great shape, so I wasn't shocked but had no idea how to fix it in such a short amount of time. Thankfully, the Golden Needle of Spartanburg stepped in to save the day! Once the crisis was averted, with Suzanne set to pick up my dress (along with her bridesmaid's dress and a pair of Richard's pants for the honeymoon), I was able to enjoy a day full of lunch with my family and pedicures and manicures with my favorite girls.

Sweet Suzanne and Meghanne did my hair and makeup for the evening at the fabulous Inn on Main, and we headed over to the church, where Richard had the musicians' rehearsal already under way. We made it through the rehearsal fairly uneventfully, with Richard's cousin Molly as our stand-in bride. She needed the practice, as she's getting married this Spring! These little ones kept me entertained...

adorable Jackson, our ring bearer, and Ella Grace, one of our flower girls
Jackson's mom Kim was my matron of honor, and Ella's mom Jess was a bridesmaid- I adore both the little ones and their moms!

Amanda, one of our honorary bridesmaids, me and Darcy, our other flower girl. Amanda (a.k.a. Wonder Woman) did everything from our save-the-dates and programs to making Jackson's adorable jon-jon, so I got to see a good bit of her during our engagement period. I love, love Darcy- she and I are good buddies, and I miss her and Amanda both!

My grandmother Joanne, who passed away when I was a junior in college, left me a gorgeous strand of opals that I had always planned to wear on my wedding day. Because they wouldn't have looked quite right with my wedding dress, I wore them for the rehearsal instead. Seeing my mom, my aunt (her sister), and my grandfather (their dad) and showing them the opals was an incredibly emotional moment!

with my awesome maid of honor Suzanne, Richard's sister- wearing the opals and carrying a fabulous bow bouquet expertly made by Meghanne, another one of my bridesmaids

the handsome groom and me- so excited and thrilled to see each other!
Our wedding director Mrs. Crowder, who did an excellent job of keeping everyone straight,
is in the background

We left the rehearsal and headed to Carolina Country Club's Holly Hall for the Rehearsal Dinner. The pictures below of our family members were displayed in the Hall on the way in. Mrs. Webb worked hard to compile the wedding pictures and dates of many of our grandparents, great-parents, aunts and uncles and cousins. Richard's aunt and uncle, Aunt Debbie and Uncle Al, were kind to serve as greeters and directed our guests to their tables, named for different official South Carolina state designations (i.e. The Shag, our state dance, Spotted Salamander, our state amphibian, Amethyst, our state gemstone, etc.).

the picture display

the view walking in

I must admit that when Richard shared his ideas for the Rehearsal Dinner, I resisted them. Not only did he want BBQ, he wanted a blue-grass band and square dancing as well! Because he was so insistent, I went along with it but had reservations until I arrived at Holly Hall. But when we walked on and saw all beautiful sunflower centerpieces, the adorable (faux) pig on the buffet table, and heard the band playing, I knew the evening was going to be a lot of fun!

With the band that kept our guests entertained from start to finish

Sadly I don't have many pictures of the toasts, but after watching a great slideshow of fun pictures that my brother put together, several of our friends shared thoughts that made us laugh and cry all at the same time! We loved hearing all of their memories and kind words.

After the toasts, we went to cut the groom's cake, made by Strossner's of Greenville, was a doctor's bag and all the accessories. Richard's mom, and two of her friends, Mrs. Norris and Mrs. Crowder, really played up the medical theme as they served!

it tasted as great as it looked!

too cute!

After the cake-cutting, it was time for some square dancing! Despite my skepticism, we had a blast!
"Uncle" Ted in the middle of the fun

The band played just long enough to keep us thoroughly entertained, then we ended our time atHolly Hall by visiting with our guests.

Two of my favorite Clemson girls and their husbands-
Jonathan, Sarah, Julie and Chris

More favorite Clemson girls!- Jeanine, Drew, Kim and April

friends since pre-school- Jaime and husband Blake, Kellianne and husband Grant (newlywed!), and me and Richard

Meghanne, the bow bouquet designer, and her husband Caleb- Meghanne and Caleb opened their home for our program ribbon-tying party Tuesday before the wedding, for which we were so grateful!

Richard with friends from Walter Reed- Kelly, Max and Jon

My family- Mom, Will, Jeff, me, Alyx, Richard and my dad

Our hosts for the evening who put together the perfect prelude to our big day-
Mr. and Mrs. Webb with me and Richard

Most of our friends headed over to Gerhard's Cafe with us for some post rehearsal-dinner celebrating. A very appropriate, Spartanburg ending to an incredible night.

cousins Ashley and William and dear friends Laurie and Daniel Wybenga

no celebration is complete without Hannah's beaver dance- "beaver one, beaver all, let's all do the beaver crawl..."

the guys

Columbia girls (minus Candy- where were you?!), at least at one time or another-
wish they were all still right around the corner! Some of my best memories involve these ladies!