Notes from a Jersey Girl

by Lisa G Westheimer


The Bridal Shower: From the Side of the Bride

Boy do I have a treat for you, my pretties- a post from a guest contributor!!!  Welcome luxury travel journalist Andrea Berkholtz of  You may recall that last May we fell down the rabbit hole together at her Alice in Wonderland themed bridal shower.  I thought it would be great fun to get the event from her perspective.  Take it away, Andrea!

Bridal showers…like many of us, these frilly, sometimes frivolous-seeming events are not something I have much experience with. Having only been to two, I was the kind of girl to be mildly excited but to also ask myself ‘does this mean I have to wear a sundress, drink tea and eat finger sandwiches and shit?’ I always met these shower invitations with a smile but sneaking suspicions I’d be bored to death.  That is, until I was thrown my own.


First I should probably introduce myself to you, the fine readers. My name is Andrea and I’m coming to you live on Notes From A Jersey Girl as the guest poster this week! You might remember this hilarious post from Lisa about a trip to Colorado and a certain bridal shower she attended. Well, yep, you guessed it, that was mine and I’m here today to tell you what it was like from the side of the bride.

So I guess I should start this by saying I’m not really very girlie. No seriously, even my voice is about three octaves lower than it should be but it matches my typical shorts, tank and sandals look so just roll with it, cool? Being that I’m not super girlie, I was apprehensive about what my bridal shower would turn out to be as I had pretty much just told my best friend, ‘whatever you want, just make it rad.’ I had visions (or nightmares, more like) of horrific pink tutus and girlie squealing and the very thought of being the center of attention had my armpits moist with trepidation. Luckily, there didn’t end up being much to worry about cause my maid of honor was a badass.

The only input I did offer was deciding on the theme. Being a weirdo, I had toyed with the idea of a Harry Potter theme or perhaps Game of Thrones but then I realized this was about me marrying the love of my life, not casting spells or cutting off heads. Yea, ok, maybe a little girlie was good? We decided on Alice In Wonderland, which I figured gave my friends enough creative leeway to make it unique and quirky, which they of course delivered.

When I got the invitation, much like Lisa, I was initially wondering if maybe I had accidentally dropped some acid because this thing was all over the place! (Ok…maybe my maid of honor had too much wine in the design process or something  cause the damn thing was impossible to read/understand). I didn’t expect following up with people to see if they knew the correct date/time of the shower as part of the process but hey, I love my girls and appreciate the design effort, so I was happy to help.



My eyes, oh gosh my eyes!!!


Shopping isn’t exactly in my wheelhouse either so picking out a white dress for this party drove me to such insanity that I eventually said ‘screw it’, flipped that tradition on its head, and went for black instead…which let’s be honest, most of us look better in black anyways. I also knew that everyone would be making, buying or bringing fun hats to go with the Alice in Wonderland theme but that part was left up to my amazonian bridesmaid, Bixby, so aside from the dress all I had to do was show up and party.

The day of the shower arrived and I was so nervous my palms were sweating (again, what is it with me and sweating?). My husband-to-be was kind enough to drop me off and smart enough not to linger for the avalanche of girly noises that were about to descend on the house. Right when I walked in the door I was floored by all the amazing decorations. Playing card streamers, masks, cute signage, paper flowers, amazing food…my friends had NAILED THIS SHIT. It was girlie without being too girlie. It was cute without being too cutesy….and mother of god, there was booze. YES!


My mom’s a pro with a glue gun, like Lisa said!



When I arrived, I was presented with my special hat, which still sits on display in my closet today because the darn thing is just so amazing. There are hidden charms behind the massive plumages of feathers and the two little doors on the front even open to reveal a picture of me and the hubs getting engaged (SQUEEEEEE, HOW CUTE!!!!). I cried of course, as I am wont to do…even though I consider myself less-feminine than most, a good gesture will bring a tear to my eye at the drop of a hat….in this case, literally the drop of a hat into my hands.

Cocktails, cookies, and a cacophony of laughs later, we played a game where there were underwear attached to a clothesline and I had to guess who brought what panties to the party. Mind you, some of them were horrific, and I say that in the best possible way. While there were a few pairs that I have indeed kept, I got the biggest hoot out of the ugly ones, specifically the pair Lisa brought that I decided I just HAD to try on over my dress. Thanks for that, vodka!


After the panty game, it was present time. And I hope to God nobody else who was at the shower ever gets a gander at this because for the most part I only remember a few of the gifts. (Soooorrry!) There was the usually bridal lingerie but I had seen, NAY, zeroed in on a large blue box the second I arrived at the party. My heart jumped and I think we can all agree that we know exactly what a robin’s egg blue box means. Tiffanys! I saved that box for last for a reason. I’ve never gotten anything from Tiffanys. Like, ever. When I opened it I felt my face grow hot with heat because I knew what would happen next. Cue the tears. It was a beautiful pitcher set with glasses, I WAS A REAL WOMAN NOW! I instantly pictured myself, the upper crust of society, pouring out champagne punch to all my well-heeled friends. Once the shock faded, I kept my wits about me and ran in for a big hug from Lisa ( I promise I’m not fawning over her gift because it’s her blog, it really was the standout present!).


After gifts, the cocktails kept flowing and then the goodbyes began. The shower overall was the picture-perfect day to spend with my friends and to relax and enjoy the moment. And c’mon, you know that after saying audios to the older folks, my band of Amazonian beauties and I took on Downtown in our Mad Hatter garb and TORE.IT.UP.

When it was all over, I thought to myself “The shower went perfect, it was everything I wanted and I thought that was going to be impossible.” In the words of the Mad Hatter…‘Only if you believe it is.’



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Crossing the State Line: The Colorado/New Mexico Trip, May, 2015


We are now back from a week long trip out west. Yes they did allow this Jersey Girl into the Rocky Mountains. As far as traveling goes, this trip was smooth sailing in both directions. Usually when I go through airport security check points I get so flustered I lose a shoe, get disheveled and my suitcase explodes, but not this time in either direction, AND our flights were on time and both arrived early. A first!

Traveling on a trip arranged by my husband always has an element of risk, mainly to me. We jokingly call them “Wife Survival Tests” but sometimes they really do feel that way. I will be posting recollections of past tests- er, I mean trips and you will see what I mean. I only cried once on this trip. A record!

Our trip began at the lovely home of our dear friends Larry and Angie Gomes in Castle Rock, not too far from Denver. Larry and Bill were roommates in Aspen in the 1970’s and have kept in touch ever since. Someday I will regale you with stories from those days when they were foot loose and fancy free ski bums in the pre Disneyland incarnation of Aspen today. A part of me feels like I really missed out on those wild times of theirs while the other more rational part of me realizes that I probably would have run screaming from the likes of them and their feral ways.

What’s wonderful about being with Larry and Angie is that for every cockamamie adventure the boys have planned, Angie is there to alternately put her foot down or to concoct some parallel female adventure so I can skate around joining the fellas. And for this Jersey Girl, who thinks she’s seen it all in the over-the-top department, I have met my match in Angie.


Colorado/New Mexico Trip, May 2015

Chapter 2

The Ambush

So like I said, built into every trip planned by my dear husband Bill lurks some element of life threatening danger, mainly to me.  I figured with this trip I got off easy because the bridal shower exempted me from the bike trip.  WRONG!  I was told at dinner the evening we arrived that the next day would be spent by me and Bill LOOKING AT REAL ESTATE FOR POSSIBLE RELOCATION.  Hello!  Down periscope, prepare to dive, WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP!  Thus far in our 25 years of marriage I have survived roller blading down a steep, lonely pitted road along a cliff drop off in Moab Utah, outrun lightening storms on bike, horse and in a boat, contact with trees numerous times while mountain biking, and having the jib twist around the roller furling gizmo, sheets flailing loose, on a sailboat in a storm while gybing.  Put all those in a blender and you have me moving out of New Jersey and into the Rocky Mountains.  Heck, put them together and you have me leaving my driveway.

I had known by peeking at some of Bill’s e mails that flash when received on my tablet (BY ACCIDENT, OK?!) that he was looking at property.  He also tells me about a million times a day how tired he is of living in New Jersey, especially the air plane noise and traffic that goes on overhead on a daily basis (we live near Newark and Teterboro airports as well as several small private air strips.)  And like Isaac Newton’s 3rd Law, my equal and opposite reaction to his musings is to throw a huge fit.  We’ve both gotten used to this dialog.  Little did I know that my calm Ohioan husband and his Colorado pal Larry the real estate agent were busy hatching plans.

So the following day Bill dragged me into Larry’s car to go check out a town he thought would cover both our bases, that is, for a town not in New Jersey:  zoned for horses, lively ceramics community, walkable downtown, healthy local economy.  I sat in the crash position, arms crossed tightly over my chest, staring straight ahead into my doom.

“Feel free to look out the window” Bill said with a sigh.

We went to Old Littleton.  It was cute, a nice enough town.  We drove around til we found the property he was looking for:  a house with a barn and paddocks on a few acres next to a pond.  We went to lunch on the commercial strip where I had my little cry in the bathroom, imploring dead relatives to intervene.  It was a nice enough place and a nice enough day, but everyone was young white and happy, which I tend to find very annoying.  We did come upon a nice ceramics collective and store but the woman at the desk said that there are tons of restrictions on firing ceramics, especially the type I do.  I left town feeling like I dodged a bullet.

The next day Bill tried a different tack.  “We’re going to look at vacation cabins.  I’m going to buy one and you can come visit me if you like.”  Ok.  Off we went to Conifer.  We drove a long way along flat land then made a left and went uphill for a good long time.  It was pretty and there were lots and lots of horses and people on bicycles.  Something for both of us.  After what seemed like an eternity we pulled into a driveway just off the main road to a cute 2 bedroom cabin type dwelling that had a 2 car garage near the street, 2 acres of pine trees and no grass to mow in back with an enclosed dog run and a property line that was bounded by a house on either side to ensure someone would hear a Jersey girl scream and come running if she were attacked by a bear or someone with an ax, and the rear lot line bounding a state park.  The property was zoned for horses and had a gas and electric line running through it (think kilns.)  Even with the bear claw gouges in the trees next to the house, I kind of liked it, but not wanting to give any glimmers of hope kept my mouth shut.  We looked through it and walked the property then we got in the car and Bill said, “I don’t like it, I think I need a view, let’s go have lunch.”  Bullet number 2 dodged nicely.  We drove to the town of Evergreen and had lunch along the roiling brook, got back in the car and went back to Castle Rock.  The next day the boys left for Santa Fe and Angie and I prepared for the shower.

For full disclosure on both sides of the coin I saved this as a draft the day I wrote it and let Bill read it before posting to sign off on it.  I don’t want to hurt his feelings (anymore than I usually do on a daily basis) or seem unsupportive as a wife but sometimes it’s hard for a girl to think straight when alarm bells are ringing in her head, you know?  Take me out of New Jersey and all sorts of things can happen.  Like I’d get some sort of disease from being deprived of bagels made with NYC water or go stir crazy from explaining what a “mutz” is over and over again.  And what about lack of humidity?  I thrive on it!  And altitude?  What is this all about?  “Oh you get used to it” is the normal reaction.  I DON’T WANT TO GET USED TO IT, OK?!  Can anyone get used to a racing heart and stepping on your lungs that fall out your nose every time you move?!  Huh?

The trouble lies on several layers:

1)  I have the best husband in the world.  He can’t help it if he’s from Ohio.

2)  I want my husband to be happy but this bar may be too high to jump for this old lame mare.

3)  I was raised “traditional” in that my husband is the boss (sometimes) but I’m also a brassy 1970’s feminist Jersey Girl and we can be dangerous when threatened, sort of like a cobra when poked with a stick.

4)  There’s nothing like a Jersey tomato sliced on a plate with a little salt and a couple leaves of basilico and you can bet they don’t got that in Colorado.

5)  Colorado is not on the Atlantic Ocean and doesn’t offer fluking on the party boats in the Atlantic Highlands, although the fish, I must confess, isn’t bad there.

Ok all you Jersey Girls out there reading this, it’s time to chime in!!!


Colorado/New Mexico Trip, May 2015

Chapter 1

The Bridal Shower

Usually the trip is to attend the Santa Fe Century, held this year on May 17th. It involves a 6 hour car ride from Castle Rock to Santa Fe.   Coincidentally, May 17th was also the date of the bridal shower of Larry and Angie’s daughter Andrea. I don’t know about you, but when I think bridal shower I think BORING. This was not the case by far. The invitation was so graphically busy it almost gave me a headache. With it were instructions to buy panties to bring to the party. Huh? I wasn’t very clear on that part, but made a note to myself to remind me to get some and bring a silly hat.


Angie, being Angie, made all the decorations, whipping them up seemingly out of thin air. Huge tissue paper flowers, tiny fabric hearts, balloons, a tasteful clothesline for the panties with clothespins sporting cute fabric bows. Angie is a whiz with a glue gun. She found a tiny hat made of silver glitter for me and set about decorating it with the plush headband I brought and playing cards to match the mad hatter theme.

I didn’t know what to do about the panties. The instructions merely said, “Please bring an unwrapped pair of panties that reflect YOUR personality.” Were they for her? For me? So off I went to our local Macy’s that has the best lingerie department in the universe, all items attractively priced. I looked at lace panties in all different colors. I looked at thongs as tiny as q-tips.   I looked at Spanx as comfortable as sausage casings. I finally chose panties representative of my personality and that of the ladies in the land of my dear State: leopard print size XXXL. The endearing label indicating symbols for “good muffin/bad muffin” caught my eye and further swayed my vote. On the way home I swung by the Party Store and snagged a cute headband sporting plush multi colored candles with a cardboard sign that read “Happy Birthday” that I figured Angie and I could doctor for the occasion.

Ok, hat done, panties done, next gift, then outfit. When it comes to bridal showers, in particular ones where I only know the bride to be and maybe her mother, I believe in 2 things: 1) make a grand entrance 2) bring a big gift. Another life tenet I hold dear is that every girl, at least once in her life, needs to receive a present in the form of an enormous box from Tiffany’s. I decided to do all 3.

My go to gift at Tiffany’s for really good friends and very close family is The Refresher Set. Years ago it was attractively priced (ho ho have they caught on!) and the customer service is impeccable. Having completely forgotten to purchase it to ensure delivery in time for the shower I called them up and spoke to a representative who treated me like a long lost friend. She waived the shipping as if it was a pesky nuisance and it arrived, with printed gift card and enormous blue bag to put it in at Angie’s house within 3 days! Considering how much the shipping would have cost for the huge box, no less within 3 days, it made the gift attractively priced (at least in my math, Bill is still having problems with my logic.)

What better way to show off that big robin’s egg blue box with the tasteful black text than a matching cocktail dress? My robin’s egg blue cocktail dress from Brooks Brothers doesn’t get out much, in fact it’s probably vintage by now. Mainly because it’s a size 8 and I tend to fit in it for about an hour every 10 years. Luckily this was my hour and year! To accent same I wore Via Spiga sandals (a favorite of character Lula in Janet Evanovich– another Jersey girl!! novels) in lime green sporting heels so high my little toes stuck out and clung to the sides for dear life as if to scream, “we’re going down!!!” Add to this a cute little rubber woven bag accented with fake crab apples, and blue crystal with silver bamboo earrings purchased in the early 1980’s at Love Saves The Day (it’s location recently blown to smithereens in a gas explosion.)


Thus armed and garbed we set off for the shower. It was held in a lovely stately home in an established community with HORSES in the YARDS. My kind of place. The hostesses were Allie and Kate, a mother daughter duo, Kate being married to Angie’s son/Andrea’s brother Tyler. We helped arrange heart shaped sandwiches as Kate banged them out and arrange and decorate the table. I, the only one not used to altitude, was given the task of blowing up balloons, like a drunk trying to pass a breathalyzer test.

Suddenly the door burst open and in charged a herd of extremely tall, thin, gorgeous, loud, filly-legged girls in very short dresses, very high heels and big tall hats (as if they needed them, the rats.) I turned to Allie and said, “I am old, short, and fat.” She replied, “I feel like a midget.” Enter Andrea’s friends. They whirled around hugging, kissing, whipping up punches and piling food high before Andrea’s arrival.

It was a wild time of eating, laughing, drinking and clowning. It turns out the panties were supposed to be for Andrea (I think for her honeymoon) and she had to guess who gave them to her. Now I’m a Jersey Girl and I’m used to seeing certain types of undergarments, but some of those panties, I do not lie, made me blush. In some cases I wasn’t even sure how they were supposed to be worn except to be thrown on the floor at the foot of a bed. It did my heart good that my panties were the first ones she chose and she didn’t guess they were from me. 😀

She received mostly very racy lingerie as gifts and I felt like the dusty old aunt giving her the practical gift (but in the big blue box!)  She opened it last and was a bit at a loss for words. I cheered up mightily when she texted Angie a picture the next day of all the girls and hubby to be toasting the impending nuptials using the set!