Tuesday, September 6, 2011


If you are coming from Fayetteville/Eureka Springs use this map.
But, be sure to omit the second "Turn left onto Old Highway 65." You just make that turn once and will then look for DeVito's loop on the right. The restaurant will be on the left, not the right like the directions say. You can also follow signs for the "Bear Creek Springs Trout Farm," it is across the road from the restaurant.

If you are coming from Little Rock/Conway use this map
This map says the restaurant is on the right but the restaurant is on the left. You can also follow the signs for "Bear Creek Springs Trout Farm." If you hit the divided highway outside of Harrison you have gone too far... if you see a turn off for Eureka Springs you have gone too far...

The area is in Bear Creek Springs which is about 5 miles from Harrison. I don't know if GPS's will give the right directions or not so you might want to print these off just in case. And, of course if you have any questions call me, 479.200.1824 or Matt, 479.659.1580.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Decor Details... and Supporting Local...

   Matt and I (mostly I) have been working out the details of our wedding reception. I have decided to use vintage quilt blocks and mason jars with sunflowers (hopefully) as the center pieces for the tables. I am using Dripping Springs Garden for my flowers... they say there should be sunflowers for my party but couldn't guarantee it... which is fine, because if there aren't sunflowers there will be another beautiful flower we can use.
I learned of Dripping Springs when I lived in Fayetteville. I was always impressed by their beautiful flowers and produce when I shopped the Farmer's Market.

The quilt block I used for the cover of our guest book.
All that brings me to the subject of this post and that is keeping it local. 
Matt and I are trying our hardest to source all of our needs for our party from small, independent local businesses and/or artists. This is what we have come up with so far:

Wine for the Reception: Raimondo Family Winery, Gamaliel, AR
Main Beer for the Reception: Diamond Bear Brewery, Little Rock, AR
Food and Reception Location: DeVito's Restaurant, Harrison, AR
Lodging and After Party: The Hotel Seville, Harrison, AR

Of course the decor is vintage and mostly found at the flea market. Matt's mother is an avid canner  and she is supplying us with the Mason jars for the flowers. I am also happy to say that we will be using real dishes at the reception so that will eliminate plastic silver ware, cups and paper plates. That is all I can think of for now, if you are interested in the steps we are taking to support the small people check this post again, I will probably have updates as the planning continues.
We are looking forward to seeing everyone on the 10th!!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Marrying Up

I have been pestering Matt to write this for a few days... enjoy!

Part one: Procrastination and implausibility
Okay, so I’ve been enlisted as narrator in the brief saga of Us Getting Married, or at least of us getting ready to get that way. I actually got enlisted some time ago, and I’ve long since committed to the task verbally, but much like the marriage itself, it’s been percolating for a little longer than some people might feel is right or proper. So anyway, then, let’s get to it.
Like I said, this deal had been brewing for a long time before there was any real action or traction on my part, and blessedly little nudging from other concerned parties. After a long battle with her baser maternal instincts however, my mother finally started dropping some not-so-subtle hints about a year ago.[1] These hints reached an apex (though not an end) with the production of an heirloom ring, just right for finger-slipping, that Mother had just so happened to retrieve from her jewelry box and have cleaned and refurbished. “Just in case,” she said. As I mentioned, Mother had decided to abandon subtlety as a serious component of any coherent strategy at this point.
So anyway, I had this ring, and I was intending to use it—swear!—but I didn’t really want to just pop the question at some random time out here on the Oklahoma Plains. It seemed like it would set bad precedent, for one thing, as most of Brandy’s statements about anything to do with anything that might happen more than two hours beyond the present moment tends to begin with “When we leave Oklahoma…”, and for another, I thought that a bit of romanticism should be involved considering my general lack of romantic gestures in other traditionally-romantic situations, like Valentine’s Day (I once got her an ice scraper), birthdays (a St. Louis-emblazoned, multi-purpose funnel), and pre-marriage anniversaries (February, right?). So I needed a really good plan for a really good proposal, and I was holding out for same.
I thought the plan had presented itself when I noticed that the PBS television program Antiques Roadshow announced an upcoming stop in Tulsa. It was to be filmed right around Brandy’s birthday,[2] we have many fond memories of Tulsa,[3] and Brandy comes from a long line of antiquers, and has varnish in her blood. This all seemed rather obvious to me, as I’m a pretty sharp tack. I’d get her some tickets for her birthday, and kill two lovebirds with one precious stone. Awesome birthday present? Check. Marriage monkey off my back? Check and mate.[4] It was absolutely, stunningly perfect.
Perfect, but unlikely. This was my plan: get me and Brandy some tickets—which tickets had to be won, not purchased, in an online lottery—and then, after I won the tickets, to contact the producers of the wildly popular (for PBS anyway) television program and arrange to have my mother’s ring appraised, on camera, with Brandy by my side. Further, the ring-appraising scenario would play out according to a script that I would write, wherein the Roadshow celebrity appraiser would inform me that, unfortunately, the ring was worth very little, whereupon I would drop to my knee, propose, and force the touched and teary-eyed celebrity appraiser to revise his or her appraisal of my now-priceless ring and tell me that, yes, the ring was now truly worth more than all the gold in Fort Knox, love is priceless, all you need is love, love me do, etc., etc.
Or something like that. It seemed reasonable at the time, really.
So anyway, I promptly entered the Antiques Roadshow ticket lottery and went about my business, confident that my elaborate plan would come together in the end. (I love it when they do that.) In the meantime, naturally, Brandy knew nothing of this well-thought-out, totally awesome and plausible proposal scheme. In fact, the only person besides me who did know anything at all about it was a witheringly-sarcastic construction manager in Dallas who also happens to be an old, old friend of mine. This acerbic house-builder had actually called me just a day or two after I had put in for my tickets to tell me about a particularly amusing round of skirt-the-municipal-regulations he’d been playing in the greater Dallas area that week. Along with that, he’d called to pester me about marrying Brandy, which pro-marriage pestering I’d learned from many long years of being single is one of the primary activities of married people. He found my lottery-dependent proposal plan to his liking and highly interesting, and said so, but then changed the subject, and didn’t say anything else regarding the matter, which I found odd considering his initial enthusiasm.[5]
Part two: A little help from my friends
But that was near the end of spring, and as the year trundled along from springtime to what our post-apocalyptic barbarian descendents are probably going to refer to as the “hot-time-before-the-Now,” or something like that, I began to lose hope that I would actually get my tickets and, as is usually the case, the scenario in which one does not get what one wants proved to the smart bet. I was notified via email that I wouldn’t be getting my tickets, and so I immediately abandoned my plans to marry Brandy and began to fill out my application for the circus. Halfway through that, though, I remembered that Brandy and I had cooked up a trip to North Carolina to see friends and sell some of her jewelry, and so I took the less-drastic measure of just doing that instead of running away for a life of rigged ring-toss games and purloined codeine. Baby steps, you know; there’s no need to be rash.
Anyway I hadn’t entirely given up on plans to one day, maybe, perhaps sort of think about proposing to Brandy, even if it was just to see what she’d say. (Honestly, you’d be surprised by some of the things she says.) So I put the ring in my backpack and off we went in the car, galumphing down I-40 toward the strange environs of Asheville, North Carolina.
Asheville, besides being weird, is also home to Matt and Maggie Reynolds, and Matt (henceforth to be known as “Reynolds”) is an old and dear friend, and one prone to theatrics.[6] The very first night we were in town, Reynolds and I left the girls at the house and slipped off to the pub, and when Reynolds asked what I’d like to do during my stay in Asheville (meaning, presumably, would I like to see the sights or something like that), I blurted out “I’d like to propose to Brandy.”
Now normally if you hollered out to someone from the bottom of a pint glass that you’d like to propose to a girl, even one you’d been courting for some time, you’d get a reprieve the next morning and the buddy to whom you’d been doing the yelling would give you a cup of coffee and a slap on the back and never say another word about it. Not so Reynolds, who by the next morning had hatched a pretty serious proposal plan, and, seeing as how I would be one of the principals, was kind enough to fill me in on the details. It seems there is a mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park called LeConte that, while some 6300+ feet in elevation, has not a single automotive track, with the summit attainable only by walking. There’s a lodge at the top, too, that’s supplied thrice-weekly by llama train, and you can call up to the park and have yourself a hot lunch reserved at said lodge and, if you’re lucky, see some llamas. Reynolds’s idea was to hike up the mountain, keeping Brandy in the dark the entire time as to the existence of the lodge. Once at the top, it would be up to me, but it looked like as long as I didn’t totally choke under the pressure, I should be able to make it back down the mountain with a wife-to-be. (Again, you’d be surprised, so I wouldn’t have called it a done deal at that point.) All this sounded great to me, and so we made the reservation and started piecing together the rest of the plan.
The rest of the plan mainly consisted in tricking Brandy into walking up this mountain, which I (correctly) predicted would be a chore in and of itself. To put it delicately, Brandy does not prescribe to the adage, oft-repeated in gyms and athletic stores all across the country, that without pain there is no gain. In fact, I’d put Brandy on the opposite end of that old saw, and so I was a little worried about getting her to the top without the two of us becoming so angry at one another that we just called the whole thing off, which would of course be less than ideal and totally screw up the plan, to boot. I immediately began a campaign of low-level psychological manipulation, which mainly consisted of making her feel preemptively guilty for cheesing out on the hike and thus upsetting our very accommodating and athletic hosts. (Nothing motivates a Southern woman like the possibility of transgressing some unwritten rule of mutual hospitality. It is a powerful goad, gentlemen, and while it might be undignified, drastic times sometimes call for drastic measures.) There was also the food situation. You could set a clock to Brandy’s meals, and there was absolutely no way she was going to make the five-mile hike to the top of the mountain without something to eat, or at least the promise of same. To that end, me and Reynolds went so far as to pack show-lunches, filling our packs with apples and bread and other miscellaneous hiking snacks, nattering on all the while about how good they’d be up on that mountain.
Part three: Lies and deceit, the solid foundations on which marriages are built
There was also the matter of the weather. It rains constantly in the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, and the day of the big hike dawned with the promise of torrential rains, rains that Brandy had already duly noted and decried. “I don’t want to hike up that mountain in the rain,” she said. (And not just regular said, like a suggestion or an observation, but like a woman said, where there’s all this implicit suggestion of passive-aggressive malice and bad times for everybody should the thing that is said come to pass, or not come to pass, or just generally play out in a manner unsuited to She Who is Saying.) Reynolds and I laughed off her concerns, providing a very neat and utterly fantastic explanation of Smoky Mountain weather patterns, and made vague pronouncements about the storm “blowing itself out” within the hour while flopsweat poured down my forehead in roughly equivalent proportion to the frog-choking rain that was even them dousing the greater Asheville metropolitan area. And so, into the breach for our quartet, with three conspirators nervously watching the slate-gray sky, and one mark looking at the same sky with an eye-glint and nose-wrinkle that promised a lot of bad action if the weather didn’t get with the program real quick-like.
Amazingly enough, the weather did straighten up somewhat, and Reynolds and I—both of us with literally years of experience acting like the weather was doing just exactly what we expected it to do—took it in stride and congratulated ourselves on knowing just exactly what the weather was going to do, and when.[7] With that taken care of, however, there was still the matter of making it up the mountain without (a) some lame-brained tourist blabbing to Brandy about the lodge at the top of the mountain, and (b) getting Brandy to the top without her leaving me for a helicopter pilot, or someone else that can get her off said mountain quickly and easily.
These problems presented themselves with varying degrees of difficulty, and it was generally when they doubled up that they gave our gang of merry pranksters the most trouble. For instance, whenever Brandy’s evil taskmaster of an appetite started to rear its ugly head, I could just fall back on the aforementioned tactic of shaming her sense of hospitality, and adding a dash of blame-Reynolds, i.e., I kept telling her that Reynolds had a very special picnic spot at which to eat our lunch, and no, I didn’t want to wait that long, but you know how Reynolds is when he gets these ideas and it means so much to him and blahblahblah let’s just humor him. At the same time, Reynolds, myself, and Maggie would take turns pairing up and walking ahead, reconnoitering the tourist situation and shushing those hikers we deemed most likely to blab. (You’d be amazed at the favors you can elicit from complete strangers by asserting, without any proof whatsoever, that you’re about ask someone to be your co-signatory on reams and reams of official documents, and to yell at you for forgetting to wipe your feet or whatever.) But when the two big components of our ruse collided it would get dicey, and I would have to whisk Brandy—hungry, tired, and also very enamored of the breathtaking scenery unfolding all around us as we made our way up the beautiful ridgelines of Mount LeConte—through the most amenable picnic and picture-taking spots, which spots were inevitably teeming with tourists and sightseers whose cooperation we had been unable to elicit. “This place is no good,” I’d mumble as I briskly pulled Brandy through some of the most amazing and spectacular places in the country. “There’s a better one just around the next bend.”
All of this profligate dishonesty led to us spending a lot of time sightseeing from places on the trail where no one in their right mind would choose to stop and sightsee, as you couldn’t really see anything.
            It was all starting to reach a head, and I could tell that if we didn’t get to the top soon that the jig would be up. Right in the nick of time though, with Brandy starting to really tire of the whole enterprise, we reached the top of the mountain, and out of the fog and the gloom appeared a nice cozy lodge, with hot chocolate (it was chilly at the top of the mountain, and good 50 degrees cooler than we were used to out on the Plains) and lemonade and soup and the whole nine yards. Brandy was pleasantly surprised by the whole business, and we all shared a nice lunch.
            And this, of course, is the part you’ve all been waiting for: The Proposal.
            But, sorry, you don’t get the whole thing. I didn’t write out anything to say to Brandy, and I don’t think I can recreate it here. Suffice to say we were outside the lodge on the deck, with the whole world stretching out before us to the west, and I asked and she said yes, and I do believe that’s all that matters. It is to me, anyway.
            And so that’s how it went down. Reynolds and Maggie were there to witness the whole affair, and Reynolds had even toted up some wine (along with the ruse-enhancing snacks we were never going to eat) with which we had a toast, and all was well. We hung out on top of the mountain, chatted with some tourists (I was less wary of them now that they no longer posed a serious threat to my increasingly-elaborate deception), and sent some postcards from the top of the mountain via Jerro the Mail Llama.[8]
            And so that, as they say, is that. We got engaged, and by the time we got back to Oklahoma we decided to just go ahead and get married. We had decided to take the last step on July 4th in honor Brandy’s grandparents. That put us in a difficult spot, vis a vis a Justice of the Peace, as government folk don’t work on holidays. This brings me back around to Mike, the loose thread that this story has so far left dangling.
            Mike, the acerbic construction manager from Part One, had been pretty impressed with my hypothetical Antiques Roadshow stunt, even if it did smack of a subconscious desire to prolong making any real, official, and court-documented commitment. As such, as soon as he got off the phone with me that day, he had immediately signed up for the ticket lottery himself, and gotten his wife and family and friends to do the same. As such, unbeknownst to me I had an entire network of people rooting for me to get married, at least in a random and arbitrary way.
That’s pretty nice of old Mike, but by the time I called him and told him the big news, our wedding was four days away and Mike had no tickets. (Not that I knew, as Mike still hadn’t told me that he’d coordinated an attempt to get them.)  Of course, neither did we have a person to officiate our wedding, and that’s what I was telling Mike when he once again latched on to what I would have considered to be a relatively-inconsequential matter, at least to someone way off down in Dallas.
“No preacher? No JP?” he asked, and when I replied that no, there was no one as yet to officiate and that it wasn’t looking very promising, he suddenly came down with a bad case of the call-you-backs, and hung up the phone. He was back on the horn in twenty minutes though, pleased as punch with his recent ordination into the Universal Life Church. Within 30 hours he was registering as an official minister in the County of Cleveland, State of Oklahoma, and not too long after that he was pronouncing Brandy and I man and wife, while his own wife Brooke took pictures and my old friend Zeno, his wife Leslie, and Baby Quinn made up the coterie of witnesses.
And that was about the end of things, and after the ceremony Mike was packing up to leave for home. He had one last thing for us, though, and produced from his pocket a wedding gift: two tickets to the Antiques Roadshow that had arrived in his mailbox just minutes before he made the mad dash to Oklahoma to beat the clock and get registered at the courthouse.
And all of that, my friends, is beyond appraisal.

[1] By not-so-subtle, I mean like Jewish-mother-in-a-network-sitcom not-so-subtle.
[2] July 18th. I’m not that dumb.
[3] Sorry folks; if you don’t already know, you won’t find out in the footnotes. There was an Incident.
[4] See what I did there? Lord, but I’m clever.
[5] In the business we call that “foreshadowing,” kids. Pay attention.
[6] E.g., he was once denied employment at a brewery/restaurant/arcade/movie theater (I’m telling you man, Asheville), and he responded by dressing up like Elvis (mask and pompadour and all) and prancing around his would-be place of employment singing a special, self-penned give-me-a-job song in his best Elvis voice. I am not making this up.
[7] Handy hint: no one knows what the weather is going to do, so the best thing to do is just pick the result you want, predict it, and stick with your prognostication. It’ll all work out. Take Noah: he didn’t know floods from squat. He was a crazy, crazy old man, and possibly dangerous. But it rained, just like he said, and then—poof!—in the space of a year he gets all the good real estate, because everyone else was dead. If he’d have been wrong though, you know what? He’d have still had a hell of a boat, that’s what, and everyone likes a good boat. Weather prediction is a win-win, if you’ve got the brass to take it to the limit.
[8] I for one was glad that llama pensions were never brought up during the recent federal deficit imbroglio, and plan on going to the mat for postal llamas should their pensions be threatened by any future budget-trimming schemes.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hotel Stuffs

I was just informed that the Hotel Seville didn't have any double bed rooms.
I just added the last two double - standard rooms and one double - queen room to the block we have on hold. 

You can call the hotel to reserve a room at 870.741.2321. The block of rooms is under Thomason-McNair.
There are other hotels in the area. I know the Holiday Inn Express and the Hampton Inn are newer. 
I also just found out there is a cab service in Harrison.

I am happy to help if anyone has any questions or problems with reservations.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Save the Date

   Save the date for September 10th!
Matt and I will be celebrating our wedding at DeVito's Restaurant in Harrison, Arkansas. The reception/party will start at 1 and last until 4. 
We will have yummy food and libations for all!

   I just got our invitations in the mail yesterday so I will be working hard to address them this week... in the mean time here are some details you might be interested in.

   We have a block of rooms on hold at the Hotel Seville in downtown Harrison. It is a historic hotel that has been remodel within the last two or three years. I have part of the restaurant/bar reserved for us to hang out in on Saturday night. 
If you plan to partake in a few drinks with us at the Seville I highly recommend booking a room there. Harrison is notorious for cranky policemen.
There are other hotels in the area and I believe there is a cab service... but why worry about that? Stay with all of us at the Seville.

   We hope you can join us for our celebration from 1 - 4 at DeVitos. And we look forward to spending time with out of town friends and family that wish to join us at the Seville in the evening.

   Please let me know if you have any questions, brandy.elizabeth@gmail.com or 479.200.1924.

The Wedding: July 4th, 2011

After throwing around a hundred ideas of how/where/when we should get married we agreed on eloping on July 4th. This was a very special date for me, it is my Dad's parents wedding anniversary. Deciding this on June 29th meant we had A LOT of planning to do in a short period of time. It also didn't help that we live in a town where we know hardly anyone...
After a few phone calls to ministers and photographers that weren't available we started doubting that we could pull it off on the 4th. 
But, things started to turn around and we worked it all out! Matt's good friend Mike, from Texas ended up preforming the ceremony for us.  We got married on the campus of the University of Oklahoma under an arbor of wisteria in the gardens outside of the building Matt's department is in. We had two friends present as witnesses and Brooke (Mike's wife) as our photographer. The service was beautiful as were the vows. 
After the ceremony we returned to our house for a toast and to sign the papers and then headed to lunch.

  We are planning our wedding party/reception for September 10th in Harrison, Arkansas. I am hoping to save all the photos from our special day for the party in September. But, I am terrible at keeping secrets (and fibbing), so we'll see how long it lasts. Until then, here is a sneak peek at a picture I really like. It gives away just enough : )

Mr. and Mrs. McNair
  Everyone keeps asking what the rush is? Well, after 4 1/2 years together we decided it was just silly that we weren't official! So now we are and couldn't be more excited to start this new chapter in life. Of all the congratulations and well wishes we have received, I think my favorite has been "welcome to the dance."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Vacation to Asheville, North Carolina... a.k.a. the Proposal!

  Matt and I had been planning our trip to Asheville, NC for quite a while. Our good friends Matt and Maggie live out there and we were due a visit. 

  We left on a Monday and arrived at our destination on Tuesday afternoon. We spent our first day bumming around the downtown area, shopping, drinking local beers and trying local restaurants. 

Matt bought me this sunflower at a farmer's market we stumbled upon. It got a lot of attention, everyone complimented it... and he earned his share of brownie points for the day.  
  Day two of our vacation was quite possibly the best day ever. The plan was to climb Mt. LeConte in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Mt LeConte is the third highest peak in the Smoky Mountains at 6,583 ft. The day started out rainy, cloudy and pretty gloomy but Matt and Matt assured me of a back up plan in case we got to the trail and it was still raining. Everything worked out beautifully, we hit the trail around 10 a.m. and hiked the 5 miles UP the mountain. I got a little whiny somewhere around 3.5 miles into it... I was ready for my peanut butter and banana sandwich! 
  But, Matt kept pushing me and encouraging me to keep going so we could get to the special spot the other Matt had scouted out on a previous hike. 
Well, we are getting closer and I stumble upon a look out platform, then I am told that we are having a surprise lunch at the Lodge right next door. All of this sounds great to me, I am just in shock that there are cabins and a Lodge at the top of the mountain. We all settle in to the cozy Lodge and eat our soup and sandwiches and sip hot chocolate. I am pretty sure that I kept talking about what a great surprise the hot lunch was! The top of the mountain was pretty chilly, maybe low 50's. 
  We sit and visit and finish our lunches and then my Matt gets up to go outside in a nervous manner! At this point I am very suspicious of what is about to happen. Honestly, my suspicions grew as we climbed the mountain. Matt returns from the restroom and we all go outside on the deck to admire the view and take some pictures. Then in the midst of changing into dry socks and shuffling wet shoes around I am informed that there is some "extra weight" in our backpack. All of a sudden Matt is on one knee proposing to me! Of course my answer was "YES." We all talked, laughed and celebrated. Of course Matt and Maggie knew all about the surprise. They planned accordingly and had a bottle of wine and cups for us to toast to. All of it was absolutely perfect and such a surprise to me.
It was fun to talk about all the conversations leading up to the top of the mountain. I was kind of rushed to the top and wasn't allowed to talk to the passer-byers in case they wanted to talk about the lodge, wasn't able to read any of the trail signs etc. etc. :)
  I did talk to one lady and she told me "there is something special about the top." I couldn't agree more, luckily we ran into each other again at the Lodge and I told her my news. I snapped a lot of pictures but pictures don't capture the beauty of being up in the mountains. I imagine this will be a place we return to visit quite often.
Matt and I in front of the Lodge we had lunch at. I love how they change the date everyday! The Lodge doesn't have electricity and the groceries are brought up by a pack of llamas!!!

6,500 feet up! Breathtaking!

Matt and Maggie Reynolds, Matt and I.
  The rest of our vacation was very pleasant. We spent more time bumming around Asheville, I did a show in Pack Square on Saturday and then on Sunday we paddled the French Broad River.
  Paddling was very exciting! We opted for duckies (similar to a kayak but you sit on top, kind of hard to explain...) I haven't ever gone down a river in a boat on my own until this trip. It was a great and exciting challenge.
After the river we cleaned up and headed to town for dinner. We had reservations at the new tapas restaurant, Curate. It was wonderful, a must try if you are in the area!

  Monday we started our journey home... in a Northern kind of way. We headed to Boone, NC to meet with a shop that was interested in carrying my jewelry. We started out on the Blue Ridge Parkway but opted for the highway that was a bit quicker. I loved this drive, it was absolutely gorgeous! North Carolina and Tennessee remind me a lot of Arkansas but with bigger hills and mountains. 

Somewhere outside of Boone, headed to Johnson City, TN.
  After that we made our journey home to spend a day with our families and to announce the good news!