Gratitude for Beginners · LGBTQ · The Street

Why We Love June (and you should, too!)

It’s our wedding anniversary month (!),

It’s Father’s Day & I have two amazing sons (!!),  and…


…it’s Pride month!   Happy Pride!


 

Plenty to celebrate, and since Taylor Street is all about celebrating, we love June!

There is a common thread to these celebrations, and to all celebrations — and that is the sense of community each promotes.   There is a sense of belonging and acceptance — and love — that is created when you and I take time to honor tradition, our families, our respect for one-another.  And while modern families are increasingly diverse, at their core they remain much the same…

 

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So we are going to share stories of people and their celebrations — of all types — this next year.  Why?  We will support the sense of community, celebrate its members, and strengthen our collective bond.  Because, as Lin -Manuel Miranda said in his amazing acceptance speech, “Love is love”, nothing here is promised – not one day.

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#loveislove #NoH8 #lovewins #LGBTPride #Pride

 

 

The Street

“A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” -The Wizard of Oz –

Awwwh – always have loved that quote!  To celebrate Father’s Day, we have pulled together a few gift ideas for you.  Some are DIY, some are more affordable than others, and a few are available personalized.  We carry a number of these, and I’ve provided links to those we don’t.  Gift, card, or hug (or all three!) – go spread some love this Father’s Day.

FATHER’S DAY PICNIC

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$ – up to you  Pack a picnic lunch using whatever you have at home, include a frisbee or a football, and head out to one of Dad’s favorite locations — or maybe it’s just into the back yard!

SUPER HERO SOCKSMV-CAS-GRY-SC__24822.1474580927

$21.60   Do you know Dad’s favorite super hero?  We’ve got an awesome selection so dad can be even more super than he already is…

DARTH VADER & SON 

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$9-hardcover, $2 – Kindle   My favorite part of this re-imagining of the Dark Lord as involved parent – Take your child to work day…on the Death Star.  Available on Amazon here.  Books that are fun for both kids and adults are hard to find…Jeffrey Brown did it with this.

PERSONALIZED PHOTO KEEPSAKE BOX

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$27.00   This keepsake box lid holds a 3 X 5 photo and purchase includes engraving. Keeps treasures safe & sound.

WALL MOUNT BOTTLE OPENER 

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$29.95   Useful, well-made, and a great addition to basement pub.

FAMILY PORTRAIT

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$ – varies  I found this project by Alexandra Hedin on Design Sponge.  It is amazing.  We are going to try this at our home, following the directions she has provided here.  I will take some pictures as we go and show you the end product.

Wishing all the dads a Happy Father’s Day!

 

The Street

Inspiration is not a four letter word

This word inspiration just keeps beating at my brain. There are days when those eleven letters feel like they add up to nothing but a four letter word. I’ve been spending the week looking for it everywhere. Yesterday, I was hoping a drive through the rolling blooming hills of California Highway 58 would propel me to that moment of inspirational clarity. It did not. It was a beautiful drive though, but I am biased towards the California landscape. There’s nothing like it and this year the “Cal-scape” is green and full of color. I wanted something to just pop out at me, make me stop and feel inspired. Something to bring on moment of WOW.

The thing is, inspiration comes when it comes. It can’t be pushed to just shout out “Hey dude, I’m over here!”. Actually, since I am fantasizing about it, I’d like to have seen Julie Andrews running through the mustard yellow hills in her light blue dress singing out “The hills are alive with the sound of music…”. Now that would be inspirational! Nice color combination too. Hmmmm…

Though at this moment I’d even take Ewan Mcgregor’s version from Moulin Rouge. That would have set all my Gay inspirational bells ringing. Inspiration check box: Checked.

Anyway, here it is Friday and I’m still working out my inspirational dilemma for the week. I’m searching and searching for that idea, that color, that texture that says create me, shape me, mold me into something grand. My mind explodes “Oh wow that is the coolest thing ever…”.

So far, I’ve got nothing. It didn’t come this week so I’m telling you about the idea of wanting it to come instead. I suppose the hunt in itself is based on inspiration so…

What am I hoping will happen here? Here’s the thing. I don’t want to write another 10 best list, or the top 5 something, or the cutest moments of this or that event. I’m kinda over those lists. It’s all regurgitation of something or someone and frankly we’ve all heard it before. So let’s be real here. Inspiration is going to have to come when it comes and I’ll make it as original as I can. It just won’t be in some repurposed top 100 something or another. It may just be me writing to tell you “Today, I’ve got nothing.”.

Inspiration is not a four letter word. It’s more like an eleven letter nuisance that I drive myself crazy with, and similar to other self imposed afflictions that cause a moment of insecurity now and then. Inspiration is my eleven letters of hell this week. It will pass. There is always another Monday that points toward Friday.

Gratitude for Beginners · The Street

A Little Inspiration Goes A Long Way

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I haven’t written a post in awhile  — since November 8 I haven’t felt inspired, honestly — not an okay space to set up shop and wallow in for long.  So, just in case you too find yourself motivation-challenged, I’ve linked to three recent posts from a few of my favorite sources that are helping me to get up and go — to work.

Parisian Walkways:  Passage du Grand-Cerf, by Jeffrey T Iverson

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I love reading this online magazine.  I mean – it’s Paris!  But more than the city itself, this article’s inspiration comes from the small shop owners, who have taken a chance, focused on their trade, and believe in the value of a well-made item.  These artisans take pride in their work and the master-craft traditions they preserve. Many of them also set up shop originally when this passage was a neglected eye-sore and stuck with it.  These stories helped to reenergize my passion for Taylor Street Favors, our wedding favors and gift business, whose inclusive message may become less accepted, making it ever more important for us to stick with it and promote.  

 

 What I’ve Learned In 38 Years Of Surrounding Myself With Confident People

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This inspiring article, from Fast Company contributor, Michael Thompson, ticks off 7 qualities he’s picked up from the confident people who have been a part of his life.  I was nodding in agreement as I read.

Finding joy in others success, and celebrating it with friends and family, is so important – both to your friend [duh!], and to your well-being as well.  The act of celebrating is empowering – doing so makes you, your friends, and family happier and stronger.  

As Michael quoted in his piece from Kareem Abdul Jabbar, truly confident people just want “to play the game well and go home”.  In the wedding industry, trend spotting and trend-following are omnipresent, so Kareem’s notion of not requiring other people’s approval really resonates with me, which connects me to my third inspirational piece, on…

 The 17 Hottest Wedding Trends for 2017

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Articles pertaining to trends in this industry are  e v e r y w h e r e, and not surprisingly  often repeat the same tedious do’s and dont’s of the season. David and I believe strongly in helping you create a ceremony, a reception, or a party that feels authentic to you. We believe that just because some look, color or theme is trending does not mean it is worthy of following or repeating. However, we don’t live under a rock. We do like, and need to have, an awareness of what is going on in this industry to be able to keep our store fresh and relevant.  I think this article does a good job of providing an overview without gushing or selling you on any particular view.  Most importantly for me – these trends are not a surprise, and I am realizing David and I are getting quite adept at hand-selecting items that are well made, a good value, and will be interesting to our customers.  Woo hoo!

Here’s to confidence in all you — and we — do. 

Let’s aim high and do this.

The Street

Holidays! It will be fun and you’ll love it!

We spent the last weekend getting ourselves ready for Christmas. Putting up the tree, decorating and putting lights outside the house. We moved to the new house a little over a month ago so we are a less about the outside this year. Watch out 2017! We can already see our neighbors like a little competition. This year, for us, simple was best – a string of fun multi-colored lights. Big bulbs! Old school.

I love the holidays. I love Christmas, the decorating, the baking – all of it. I LOVE IT! It takes me back to two distinct memories. My visual merchandising days at Saks in my twenties many, many moons ago because HELLO it’s all about decorating!  The other is holidays with my parents. When I was a little kid my mother decorated for every holiday or season. That’s probably where I got the decorating bug. And, I loved decorating the tree with them. The whole ritual of getting the tree, lighting the tree and decorating the tree. Being together.

Can you hear the holiday music in the background “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” Lights are twinkling, people are happy, everything is festive.

This year it’s all about red. I drive my husband and our son crazy because  I do a theme every year. Every year our son, whose now 11, says “Do I have to help? You’ll just redecorate the tree after!” and every year I fain shock and say “Yes!  It will be fun and you’ll love it!” Ah, the joyful memories he will have of dad repositioning all the bulbs. My husband just rolls his eyes.

Times are tough; still I treat you to a lovely evening, and I get smart-alek BACKTALK“.
Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford | ‘Mommie Dearest’

 

It really is all about the memories. I remember as a kid going with my dad to cut our tree down in upstate New York. He’d pull me on the sled and then pull me and the tree back on the sled. I wonder how much fun that really was for him? I am sure I complained just as much as my son does. What do I remember; the tree, the sled, my dad and love. We always had huge trees decorated with colored lights, lots of tinsel and gold or silver garland that looked like feather boas. Well, to a young gay boy they looked like feather boas!

We stress ourselves out at holidays over this and that and in the end it’s about the moments in-between. The ones that stick. The ones that light up at the smell of baking cookies and fireplace crackles.

Who knows how my son will remember these moments of his dads and the holidays. I’ll bet he won’t forget the love that surrounded them.

How do you decorate for the holidays?

 

Appetizers · DIY · The Street · Weddings & Receptions

10 perfect appetizers for your fall wedding reception

1. Brown Sugar-Glazed Turkey Meatballs

Because – meatballs and brown sugar. Perfect little mouthfuls of Brown Sugar-Glazed Turkey Meatballs! If you decide not to have these at your reception, save the recipe and serve them up at the next game event because Football season is coming – I think.

Get The Recipe

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Image: Diethood

2. Mini Quiche Florentine

Everyone [almost] will fall for these Mini Quiche Florentines. Filled with spinach and cheese   – Instant hit!  Who says real men don’t eat quiche!

Get The Recipe

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Image: Sam Anderson @ HGTV

3. Grilled Corn Salsa

This dish would be a perfect side dish to the mini tacos below. Serve with tortilla chips and you’ve got a southwest theme in the making. Screen ‘Blazing Saddles’ in the background of the dance floor and you’ll have the most talked about wedding in town – along with the Grilled Corn Salsa.

“Hello, handsome. Is that a 10-gallon hat, or are you just enjoying the show?” – Madeline Kahn

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Image: Cooking Channel

4. Maple Chili Popcorn

Feeling a little chili? – Warm things up with this perfect fall appetizer, or favor, at your reception. Food Network’s Jeff Mauro’s Maple Chili Popcorn is perfect for filling cellophane favor bags that guests can enjoy later or have on the tables for guests to grab and munch between spicy dance moves.

Get The Recipe

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Image: HGTV.com

5. Ropa Vieja Mini Tacos

First of all, these Ropa Vieja Mini Tacos are the cutest little appetizer out there – I mean, COME ON! With two types of chiles, these junior spicy mouthfuls are sure to keep the guests warmed up for the dance floor.

Get The Recipe

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Image: HGTV.com

6. Bruschetta With Caramelized Dates, Walnuts and Goat Cheese

Whipping yourself up a Bruschetta With Caramelized Dates, Walnuts and Goat Cheese appetizers is a snap. Just toast a fresh baguette, then top the slices with a soft cheese — like chèvre — plus any combination of savory ingredients — like caramelized dates — and finely chopped pistachios or delicious crumbled bacon. See, it’s a snap. SNAP!

Get The Recipe

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Image: HGTV.com

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7. Taleggio Crostini With Apple, Thyme and Honey

These Taleggio Crostini With Apple, Thyme and Honey can be prepared with only a few simple ingredients and thyme – see what I did there? Spread cheese on toasted baguette slices, top with 1 or 2 apple slices, drizzle with a little honey and done!

Get The Recipe

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Image: Andrea Albin, CookingChannelTV.com

8. Sausage and Stuffing Balls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce

I found this one on I should be mopping the floor. These Sausage and Stuffing Balls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce are an awesome autumn appetizer –  say that 10 times fast – and a perfect departure form the norm!  Perfect for Thanksgiving too!

Get The Recipe

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Image: I Should Be Mopping The Floor

9. Autumn Leaf Wreath Cheese Platter

I love this one! How easy right? Cookie cutters and cheese and viola you look like a wedding catering DIY genius – I mean really, cookie cutters and cheese, WHO KNEW!

This Autumn Leaf Wreath Cheese Platter would be a fun one for the kids to be involved too.  Layer in some pretzel crackers and your favorite sweet-tart relish and fall has arrived.

Get The Recipe

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Image: The Yummy Life

10. Creamy Tomato Soup Shooters with Grilled Cheese Sticks

I love tomato soup! And, I love grilled cheese. Well, you might as well mix the two, right?

Our caterer, The Hitching Post, served Tomato Soup Shooters and they were a huge hit. Especially with the kids.

Get The Recipe

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Image: How Sweet It is

 

Gifts · The Street

If It’s Good Enough For Mildred

 

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Source:  Live 5 News| live5news.com | Harve Jacobs, Reporter

This is not another wedding planning checklist or must-have color palette recommendation.  I am not going to try to subconsciously guilt or shame you into some expensive wedding favor or table top decision.  Nope.  Just hoping to put a smile on your face in case you missed this, and spend a minute or two connecting the dots between Mildred, Taylor Street and me.

Mildred Bowers likes beer.  A lot.  To celebrate her 103rd birthday coming August 31, NBC interviewed her about her daily pint.  When it’s 4PM in South Carolina where you live, raise your glass to Millie, who drinks a pint at the same time every day.

So what’s the connection to Taylor Street — David’s and my journey into the wedding industry — and Mildred?  

First the obvious product tie-in.  We sell a whole bunch of beer and barware items.  Personalized, theme-y, formal or country-chic, we have a stein, growler, flight, flask or glass for you to buy and drink with her in style.  

The second reason has nothing to do with our products or Mildred’s beer habit.  It’s about our message.  When asked if everyone should adopt her daily beer ritual, she said,

“Yes, if they like it.  Look, there are people who don’t like
coffee and people who don’t like tea, but I want everyone
to drink what they like”.

She is reminding us that it is not “the thing” but the enjoyment “the thing” creates that is important.  We all do not need the same things to experience the same joy.

The pressure to embrace, to strive — and ultimately — to spend is apparent in much of the wedding industry today.  Even counter-culture bridal and “real wedding” sites often nurture a sense of needing to one-up their most recent couple’s performance piece or chase the hottest new trend.

I believe Mildred would encourage us all to stress less and enjoy our weddings, our family and our friends more.  

Taylor Street is about encouraging you to celebrate as you are.  Our perspective is definitely more Sheryl Crow — “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.”  

Sure, we like pretty stuff, cool stuff, well made stuff too.  We just want to offer it in a way that doesn’t make you feel inadequate about your {you can fill in the blank here – budget, sexual orientation, wedding theme, party favor, etc}.

Let’s have some fun!  To Mildred!

The Street

The In-Laws

I am an Uncle. It didn’t really hit me until I was married. Derek and I have been a family for 10 years now and I have always been considered a part of my (now) husband’s family right from the start. Not once did I ever feel like an outsider. But, when we got married I noticed a change. Not in them. They have all stayed the same. It was me. I changed. I didn’t realize until after we were married what I was holding back. I had a wall up that kept me from fully jumping on the “we are all one big family” bandwagon. It all became so clear to me once we were visiting my husband’s brother and family over the fourth of July.

Just before that, right after the wedding, Derek’s sister and I were kidding around by text calling each other sister-in-law and brother-in-law but, to be honest I was so giddy from just being married that I did not realize how significant that moment really was.

On the 4th of July we traveled down the coast to visit Derek’s brother Ryan, his wife and daughters. They have a huge Fourth of July party every year and we had never been. They invited us to come down when they came to our wedding. We had never really spent any time with them at all since we have been a couple and I admit I was a little nervous about it.

They, along with their neighbors, throw this big July 4th celebration. Water ballon fights, BBQ, music, the whole nine yards. It was a fantastic time. But, the moment that stood out for me was the moment his daughters, Megan and Melissa, doused me with water balloons and called me Uncle David. I can’t for the life of me remember the exact way it was used but I remember hearing those two words “Uncle David”. I still get goose bumps every time I think of it. It was probably no big deal to them. They were having a blast and in the moment I was happy to engage and get them back with a few water balloons I had in my hands. The moment was significant. I was an uncle.

Now, who knows. They may have always thought of me that way. I did not ask and I am OK if they did or didn’t, but I felt different in that moment. Going forward, I am an uncle — their uncle — and not just to 2, but to 5 kids. [Well, kinda, 2 are still kids; the rest are adults.]

I started to think about what that has meant to me. Derek and I were together for 10 years before we were married. We pretty much kept to ourselves, as a family, with occasional visits until his mother passed away two years ago and we moved in next door to his sister. Why did I keep my distance from family emersion until I was actually married to Derek? Partly ,I believe, it’s a mechanism of safety. Could have something to do with being an only child. A hold over from a past where relationships came and went for whatever reason.

What struck me the most about this revelation was what I had been missing. I had raised my shields and kept my distance from family politics and engagements. I allowed myself to think that his family did not see me as a member of the family but, as “Derek’s gay lover with a kid”. I did that — not them. I placed my own internal homophobia on them and now I’ve decided to let that go.

So here I am on the other side. A husband, father, brother in-law and uncle.

The Street

Two Dad’s? No Problem

School Registration

 

Sometimes it’s the small stuff.

This past week our son brought home yet another school form for us to complete with the same information we’ve provided too many times before.  [Why not request this information digitally,  password protect it, and then update on an as-needed basis… different discussion for another time].  I have lined out “mother” every time before with varying degrees of frustration.

This time I got angry.  This time was different.  After all, we do live in California, we expect better.  But it’s also because despite recent strides in marriage equality, we are witnessing just how quickly progress can be rolled-back and countered.

This time IT was not “just a little thing”, or a “meaningless detail”.  IT is part of the same continuum on which both North Carolina’s and Mississippi’s recent discriminatory and bigoted legislative maneuvers sit.  While a very great distance separates this form’s lazy and parochial typeset from these new state laws, a gateway to learned hate and discriminatory behavior is right there on the page, and I could not ignore it this time.

Not long after I snapped a picture of the form, our son noticed the image sitting on my screen and asked me why it was there.  I was both glad for the opportunity and bothered by the need to have something to explain.  When I had finished, he seemed satisfied, and said, “hmmm, why doesn’t it just say parent or guardian”?  That is a good question.  Or why does it assume there are two parents?  Why doesn’t it just simply ask for emergency contacts and let me define their relationship via another blank?

This form has no doubt been pulled out and photocopied many many times, and given the perpetually overworked public school staff, I continue to feel a need to limit my concerns and objections.  But learning does not happen only inside the classroom.  Waiting silently to be treated differently is unacceptable.

For LGBTQ families, being treated with fairness and simple dignity are issues that show-up in big and small ways every day.  It was our experience planning our wedding that prompted David and me to open Taylor Street Favors.  Much like our son’s form, signing up for wedding sites or shopping online usually required one of us to be listed as “the bride”.  Same-sex couple selections were buried in drop-drowns — if at all — and were limited in selection or accented with rainbows.

We are so not about rainbows for our wedding.

We knew we could do better – and we are.  Taylor Street is a site where no one is excluded.  We welcome and support those who treat others with respect, regardless of gender, race, sexual-orientation, or religious affiliation.  Discriminating on the basis of who we love is wrong.  Excluding a family because there are two moms or two dads is wrong.

I’m sending a note along with a copy of the form to the school’s principal and asking her to look into what can be done to have the district revise its forms.  As Ellen Degeneres said earlier this week, this is not politics, this is human rights.

We deserve better.