A few months ago I boldly phoned my future grandmother-in-law and asked what may be the biggest favor I'll ever ask anyone: Will you help me make my wedding dress?

Of course, she responded with nothing but eager enthusiasm and willingness, even when I sheepishly admitted that by “help me” I really meant “do it all for me since I don't have the slightest clue how to operate a sewing machine.” She took me to the garment district in LA to pick out fabric and pored over various pieces of different patterns until we got the PERFECT dress. Last weekend, she had me come out to her place in Palm Springs to do a fitting and start piecing it all together.

What, you didn't expect me to actually posts pictures of my wedding dress before the wedding, did you? My fiance DOES drop in here on occasion.

While visiting, I got to spend the weekend lounging around the pool and catching up on a kajillion little wedding details. Apparently when Nana and Papa got married, she told him she would live anywhere in the entire world with him – from the country to the mountains to “a refrigerator box” – but she would never, ever live in the desert. She must have changed her mind along the way, because the pair are now happily retired in Palm Springs.

I have to say, there is just something about the home of grandparents. My grandparents on my father's side passed away before I was born, but I've always been really close to my grandparents on my mom's side and their house is AWESOME. It's full of collectibles from their numerous world travels. They have one room completely dedicated to all their really fancy stuff. I call it the museum room since it's all kind of look-but-don't-touch, although my grandma insists it's technically called the “sitting room.” Whatever grandma, it's pretty impressive either way. Nana and Papa's house, of course, also have all the obligatory grandparent trinkets.

Yes, that is a pig sculpture with a handkerchief. And that's their cat Elsa, who's held a teensy grudge against me since I tried to pet her stomach two years ago (my cat loves a good belly scratch…apparently not all cats feel the same way!). And it seems that the home of just about everyone born before 1960 has one of those wooden ducks in it, but there's actually a pretty cool story behind this duck in particular. Papa used to work for a company that distributed these ducks, which are hand-carved by famous artist Tom Taber (these things go for like, $400-$1000!). They're remarkably detailed. Anyway, Tom and Papa got to know each other and on occasion, Tom would hand Papa a duck to keep when he was picking up a delivery. Today the wooden birds can still be found dispersed throughout their home.

Nana also teaches me a new dish every time I visit. This time around, it was Manicotti with fresh crepes. Apparently, Manicotti doesn't always come in noodles! And yes, these are the very same kind of crepes used for breakfast and cheese blintzes. The recipe is from the Fannie Farmer cookbook – one of the original reproductions, none of this fancy-pants Anniversary Edition stuff!

In the midst of all the work and life and wedding planning stress, it's so nice to be able to escape to such a comforting and warm place with someone who I can openly ask anything that pops into my mind, from “Why does the thread keep bunching up in the sewing machine?” (answer: tension) to “How the heck do you make a marriage work for over FORTY years?” (answer: pick your battles).