Sunday, May 31, 2009

One down, a lifetime to go

K and I met when I was 14. We had mutual friends, so our paths often crossed.

7 years later our paths crossed at the right time and the right place.

We've been together ever since. This life together has not always been easy. It has not always been pretty, especially to people on the outside looking in. But even in the worst of times, it has always been right. There is no one in the world I would rather be with, and no place else I'd rather be every night.

We went into this relationship already knowing so much about each other, that there were no walls, no coy games, no courting. Just us. From the first moment it just seemed natural and right. And there were so many people - so many friends - who never expected it to work. But it did, and it has. We balance each other.

We've been together for almost 8 years now. We've been married for a full year, today. It hardly seems that one whole year has gone by.

I was never one who dreamed about my wedding day my whole life. For a long time, I had no desire to be married. I mean, what was marriage - besides a piece of paper? We didn't need that, to prove our commitment to each other. But somehow, somewhere, that changed.

I loved everything about our wedding. It couldn't have been more perfect. It was really a beautiful, personal, blissful day.

There were so many people that helped us. They offered their time, their assistance, their expertise.

My boss paid for all the flowers, arranged all the flowers - including the bouquets and did all of the decorating for me.

I didn't have to worry about a thing. We did provide the linens and several of the decorations. But she put it all together. I didn't see it all until about 2 hours before the ceremony and it took my breath away. It all came together so beautifully. It was so much more than perfect.

Originally, I had planned on making my own wedding dress, but was talked out of it by several people. What they said made sense. I procrastinate. I'd be working on it the night before. There were going to be a lot of things to do, since most of our wedding was DIY. I didn't need the stress. it was all so, so true.

So for several months, I researched independant seamstresses who made dresses in the style I wanted. I spent soooo much time doing this. I wanted the perfect dress, I had it pictured in my head and though I tried on several ready made dresses, I knew that what I wanted didn't yet exist.

So I finally found and settled on a woman who's work I admired and ordered my dress. I spoke with her on the phone several times - exchanged e-mails. I paid the deposit several months before the wedding date, and paid the remaining amount when the dress was shipped.

I was so excited the day it arrived. I called several of my bridesmaids over. Tried it on.

It was horrible. Awful. It didn't come close to fitting. It wasn't professionally done at all. I won't go on and on about how awful it was, but it was a nightmare. Did I mention that the dress didn't arrive until 3 weeks before the wedding?

It's another long story, maybe for another day - but in the end I fought with the woman for almost 2 weeks to get my money back - and started making a dress from scratch - 2 weeks before the wedding. Luckily, I had an amazing friend willing to help me. The end result was lovely. And I was happy.

I really could go on and on about all the wonderful things people did for us. The constant support from certain people. My wedding hair. Our honeymoon.

Our reverend we found at the last minute - almost, about 6 weeks before. And she was amazing. I mean, just amazing. I adored her. If you're getting married in the CNY area, look up Pamela Anderegg. She's a Unitarian Reverand in Auburn and simply wonderful.

The Vows

Welcome to the wedding of Crystal and Kevin. I am the Reverend Pamela Anderegg. Let's take a moment and appreciate our beautiful surroundings!

Kevin and Crystal have asked you to be here this afternoon to witness this celebration because each of you has given something of yourselves to their lives.

This wedding is a time for sharing with friends and family the joyfulness of the next step in Kevin and Crystals relationship. They have invited us here today to share in this celebration which marks the beginning of their marriage. We come together not to mark the beginning of a relationship, only to celebrate the commitment to a connection that already exists. They have promised themselves to each other in their hearts and in their actions. Today they pledge to keep that promise. This is the greatest choice two people can make in their lives.

It is one of life's richest surprises when the accidental meeting of two paths leads them to proceed together along the common path of husband and wife and it is one of life's finests experiences when a casual relationship grows into a permanent bond of love.

Apache Wedding Blessing

Now you will feel no rain,
for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness for you,
for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies,
but there is only one life before you.
The hand which you each offer the other,
is an extension of yourselves;
Just as is the warmth & love which you express to each other.
Cherish the touch,
for you are touching another life.
Be sensitive to it's pulse,
& try to understand & respect it's flow & rhythm,
Just as you would your own.
Go now to your dwelling place,
to enter into the days of your togetherness.
And may your days be good & long upon this earth

May I have the rings please?

The ring is an outward symbol of the love and commitment Crystal and Kevin have for each other.

It signifies the full circle bond that they share as partners. A circle is the symbol of the sun
and the moon and the earth and the universe, of wholeness, perfection and peace.

And in these rings there is a symbol of unity in which your two lives are now joined in one unbroken circle of endless love. Bless these rings and their purpose, let those who wear them live forever with the happiness that these rings represent.


You come gladly to this moment. You have already shared much of your lives and you know from experience that you get along well together. You have lived together and it has not been enough.
Today, you chose to make a deeper commitment to yourselves and to your children. It is your way of telling each other that your experience together has been so good, that you want it to continue for the rest of your lives.

Will you, Kevin, take Crystal to be your wife through good times and bad? To grow old and to change with her?
To do all that you can to keep your marriage strong and happy and alive with possibilities?
Kevin, will you open your heart to her and cherish her love for you; will you return that love with caring and understanding? Will you promise to build a home that is compassionate to all, full of respect and honor for others and for each other?

I will.

Will you, Crystal, take Kevin to be your husband through good times and bad? To grow old and to change with him?
To do all that you can to keep your marriage strong and happy and alive with possibilities?
Crystal, will you open your heart to him and cherish his love for you; will you return that love with caring and
understanding? Will you promise to build a home that is compassionate to all, full of respect and honor for
others and for each other?

I will.

We pray for concord and creativity as well as for love and laughter in your life together; and when there is pain, may there be peace that not passes away. We pray for joy that you will share with other people, and for your home, may it be a temple for that which is beautiful and and good and true. As you share the richer experiences in life, so may your hearts and minds and
souls be knit evermore closely together. And yet may your bonds of sympathy strengthen your separate personalities. We pray for courage for you when the road is rough and for humility for you when fortune favors you. May you carry the past gratefully with you in all the
years of your sojourn, and with an equal measure of hope ever face the future unafraid.

It is with great joy that I now pronounce that you are husband and wife.

Would you care to seal your vows with a kiss?

(Kevin: Absolutely!)

Go now, hand in hand, along the path that you choose to walk together. Maintain a closeness to nature, a degree of simplicity, an awareness of beauty, and a love for each other which will always permit you to look into each others eyes and say that you would do it again. Kevin and Crystal have come to me to be married, I return them to you so that you will bless them with your friendship,guidance, support, encouragement and love, which will forever be appreciated and will continue to be an important part of their lives.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Weekend Review

This holiday weekend flew right by!

We spent a lot of time with friends. Did a lot of light cooking and grilling. The weather was heavenly all weekend.

I made my first ever pie! I have never ever made a pie before - and this one I did completely from scratch, including the crust! It's pretty good, if I do say so myself! I had some strawberries in the fridge and rhubarb was out at the market this weekend. It was also my first time using rhubarb. Next time, I'll make the lattice top a little thinner.

Speaking of the farmers market, ours started something fabulous this past weekend. They have a booth set up where one can use their credit, debit or EBT card! They process it there, and give you tokens in exchange. What's great about this, is that people can finally use cash assistance or food stamp at the farmers market! Really, it's kind of about time. Plus - this makes the food stamp program work in various ways - not only is it helping people in need, but it's helping to stimulate the local economy. It's win-win as far as I can tell. The same sort of "rules" apply. No hot prepared foods. No wine. But, it means that you can now buy fresh meats from local organic vendors! Vegetables right from the farmer! I'm really loving this idea.

I did so much yummy cooking this weekend, but don't have pictures of all of it. I do have some recipes for you though (I'll add the missing recipes later!)

from The Biggest Book of Grilling

Pan Fried Onion Dip

This is sooooo good. I found it on RecipeZaar but it looks like it's from the Barefoot Contessa

  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 ounces, cream cheese, at room temperature (I used light)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I used light)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, not light
  1. Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds.
  2. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.) Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized.
  5. Allow the onions to cool.
  6. Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth.
  7. Add the onions and mix well.
  8. Taste for seasonings.
  9. Serve at room temperature.

Veggie Burrito/Fajita Things

These are super easy and customizable.

I saute some veggies in olive oil. Usually onions, peppers, yellow and green squash, mushrooms and whatever else seems yummy and in season. Saute with salt and pepper. Maybe some basil or red pepper flakes.

Scoop sauteed veggies onto tortilla, I use spinach basil or tomato tortillas.

Add some cheeses. Monterrey Jack. American. Cheddar. Whatever.

Fold in half, or add another tortilla on top, or roll up. Whatever floats your boat.

Wrap in foil.

Grill. Cheese melts. Tortilla browns.




Spicy Potato Slices
From Biggest Book of Grilling

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie and Crust
From Back to the Table: The Reunion of Food and Family

Spinach Artichoke Quesadillas

Another super easy recipe.

I make up some spinach and artichoke dip.

Spread it on a tortilla.

Add some mozzarella and cheddar cheeses

Grill till melted


BBQ Sauce
From Biggest Book of Grilling

We celebrated a friend and her daughters birthday this weekend. Her youngest just turned 9. Man, does time fly. I remember so clearly the day she was born. I can't believe that was almost a decade ago. It's so wonderful and amazing watching these children grow.

Other friends finished moving into their new place this weekend. It's so beautiful and relaxing there. We spent most of the weekend with them.

We also went to look at our (probable definite!!) new place a couple of times. We brought my parents up on Sunday and K's parent's up on Monday. They all seem to love it as much as us. And our boys seem to love it more and more too. I hated to leave each time! It's so beautiful and peaceful. And I can't quite believe it's all going to be ours! We are really, so very blessed.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Gratitude

Today, I am grateful for:

warm weather

food to grill

birthday celebrations


Thursday, May 21, 2009


Somehow over the last couple of years, I have accumulated a lot of stuff.

I've always been a bit of a pack rat. My mom is too. Maybe it's hereditary.

I used to just keep things. Old papers. College reports. Notebooks.

But for the last couple of years I've been buying things.

I never spend much, which I think makes it easier to let it slide. I shop clearance racks. Thrift stores. Rummage sales.

It's a little bit of a problem. I know this, I do. Part of it is I like the thrill of a great find. Another part of it is, what if I need it someday? I may not have needed it yet in 5 years. I may not be able to even find it if I DO ever need it. But what if I do need it someday, and then I don't have it?!

I stock up too. Which isn't really a bad thing. But I have no rhyme or reason or system. Stocking up- being, prepared, that's a good thing. But I need to be more organized about it.

I also have a lot of hobbies. Hobbies that I have a lot of supplies for. Scrapbooking. Sewing. I made a promise to myself a while ago that I wouldn't bring anything new in until I use a good amount of what I have. I've been doing really good with not getting more fabric and notions. But I've also been slacking at using up my existing stash.

I also collect things. My biggest collection right now is cookbooks. Man, how I love them. Not only do I get the thrill of finding a great cookbook for cheap (thrift and used book stores) but I also get OLD cookbooks. AND I get to use them, you know, for cooking and things :D They are useful. But I do have too many. I just love them. I love books in general, but I really adore old cookbooks. They say so much about the time period, the way people lived. I especially like cookbooks with a previous owners notes in the margins. They are something special.


Whittling down that collection has not been easy.

It's strange how I get attached to things. Clothes. Toys. Games. Books. Photos. Just things. Lots and lots of things.

I've tried to scale down and get rid of some things. But I always find more. Another great thrift deal I couldn't pass up. Or it was free! Or the kids made it! Or, or, or!

When we move. It's going. A lot of it. I don't like the feeling of clutter. I don't like the cleaning of clutter. We're making a lot of changes. And this is one for me. It will NOT be an easy one!

But I'm ready to start clean. And clutter free.

Monday, May 18, 2009


So with the possible (probable) big changes coming our way this summer, we're all going to be doing a bit of growing soon.

Hopefully, that includes my slow, lazy seeds. They finally started sprouting, just a bit, a couple of weeks ago. The tomatoes are iffy. The salad greens are looking good. I didn't label things well enough and most of the marks I made washed away. I don't know what's what anymore, and they aren't mature enough to tell. We'll call that a rookie mistake. I tried, but next time I'll know better.

Last Saturday, I moved the little guys into pots.

I've had a little success with container gardening before, but these seeds were all bought with the intent of planting them in the ground. We may not be around to harvest them though, so in the pots they went. Honestly, I'm just hoping for a few survivors.

I'll probably hit the Thursday market this week to round out our new container based garden. I wanted to be growing a good portion of our food this year, but we may need to put that on hold until next year. Then we'll get our chance to really put down roots.

I've been slacking on my one pretty thing goal. It's been a really busy couple of weeks. The husband turned 30. I started my summer schedule at work. My youngest has soccer. The possible moving. Helping other friends move.

Every year, I can't wait for summer. I still fondly remember the slow, lazy, long days of my youth. And that's still how I picture it. Slow and lazy. But it never really is. It doesn't matter though, because come next year I'll still be anticipating those days!

Sweet childish days, that were as long
As twenty days are now.
~William Wordsworth

It will get slower though, once we develop our summer rhythm. We're still in the first few weeks, and still a little rusty. We'll get the hang of it. We always do.

Taking the Leap

We're going to do it. Let go. Take the leap. Move out, move on, move in.

It's time, and we're ready.

Really, we can't let this opportunity go. Chances like this come once in a lifetime, if you're lucky.

I think it will be good for all of us. It won't be easy. We'll have to adjust. But in the end, I truly believe this will be good.

It's what I've always wanted but would have been too scared to choose on my own, without this :push:

I've never been good with change. I like familiarity. I like routine. I never knew this, or realized this, about myself until recently. But it's true.

And sometimes I almost need to be forced to change before I will. But I always adapt. I always find a way. Sometimes I find the way. I'm pretty sure this is one of those times. I am nervous. Apprehensive. But I know- I do- that this is right. I feel it, deep down, that this is the way to go.

We're still using words and phrases like "if this happens" and "if we choose this".

But we all know what we're really saying. We're not saying if. We're saying when.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


The kids and I have recently started keeping a gratitude journal. It's something I've mentioned doing for years, and finally got around to starting a few weeks ago (I'm pretty famous for my procrastination). Actually, I found one at a thrift store, for 50 cents. This huge spiral bound book. 50 cents. This is the one. It was brand new. And dirt cheap. And got my butt in gear.

I like it, but sadly - it's hard! It doesn't seem like it would be hard, right? I mean, there are pre-listed questions (and also a blank page for each day) but just to think of one thing, each day - to be grateful for? And we don't even write in it every day. Maybe 4 times a week. Today, my oldest, Evan wrote: I'm grateful I'm not dead.

It's something though, I guess!

Sometimes you just feel uninspired. And you have to search for something to be thankful for. Even if it's just waking up in the morning.

But that is exactly why I wanted to start this journal! To take the time, to find something, to notice something - to appreciate something, no matter how trivial - in our days.

I think I'm going to start doing gratitude Fridays here.

So this week?

I'm grateful for opportunity.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Crossroads . . . ?

I've grown up in the suburbs. An area that I watched change from farms to a very busy suburb. But it's never been rural, really - as long as I've lived here.

My aunt and uncle and cousins live on a farm a few hours from us. I always loved going there. It was all so wonderful and exciting and different. I think their house is where my love and fascination of farmhouses came from. It was really an orchard, not an animal farm. Though there were ponies and peacocks. I was always in awe of those peacocks.

A red house, atop a dirt/gravel road. Tire swing in the front yard. I just loved it. I loved the land. I loved the smell. They lived only a few minutes outside a busy city, but it felt like a whole different world. And I never remember them, or us, ever being bored there. There was always something to find. Something to do.

But I always came home. To my little neighborhood. Where I could ride my bike with my friends. I would run out, dollar in hand every time I heard that familiar jingle of the ice cream truck.

I liked growing up there. I liked being close to the ever growing stores and restaurants and conveniences. I liked going to a high school with several thousand people.

Since I've been living on my own, I've moved several times, but I never left this town. My oldest son has been to 3 schools. He's 10. I alleviate my guilt about that by telling myself that at least we've stayed in the same district.

Where we live now isn't so bad. It's a little busy. We're about 5 minutes from a very developed road. But that means every store I could need 5 minutes away. We're in a small neighborhood, but bordering a couple larger ones, including the one I grew up in. Several mornings a week I go to these neighborhoods for a run. Almost every morning after the kids get on the bus, the husband and I bring our coffee and go for a walk in those neighborhoods. We can walk to the kids school.

We just moved here last year, and are renting from a family friend. My parents live about 20 minutes away. The husbands parents live about 5 minutes away.
There are some things I don't love. Like our postage stamp yard. The actual neighborhood where we live. And the fact that the woman who owns our house, wants to move back in next July. So no matter what, we have to be out by July 2010 the latest.

Almost every morning on our walks I complain about how I feel like I don't belong here anymore. Like it's become too stifling. There is no room to live and breathe and grow. And then I go on about my romanticized love affair with the country. And farms. And houses with big front porches and views.

Well, two days ago we were offered something amazing. I mean, once in a lifetime kind of amazing. This lovely couple we know wants us to have their house. Kind of. They are moving in with her mother soon (she's ill) and once she passes, they are moving to their vacation home full time. They are getting ready to put their current house on the market. This is a house that they raised their family in. A house they rebuilt themselves. They love it, but it's time for them to let it go.

For some reason, they really like us. And they asked if we would like to live in that house for the same (ridiculously low) rent that we pay now. And then when my husband is done with school in a year or so, we can buy it. For 40,000 less than the appraised price.

We're going to look at it this weekend. It's only maybe a half hour away. But it's pretty much a world away.

It's in the county. I mean, farms for neighbors. It has a cellar. A front porch with a view. It backs up to forever wild woods. It's really the deal of a lifetime.

But it means giving up the thrill of searching for our own house. It means asking my kids to give up afternoons playing with their friends until the sun is setting. It means asking them to give up riding bikes after school. Giving up chasing the ice-cream man. Giving up evening walks. Giving up their school we just moved to, the friends they just made and starting all over. Again.

It means going from a VERY large school district, to a VERY (very!) small one.

But it also means a different life. A slower one. It means bonfires. And big gardens. Fruit trees. A tire swing.

Then again, it also means now living almost an hour from my parents. A half hour from the in laws. No more quick trips to grandma and grandpas. No more last minute overnight babysitters. No more lingering over dinner and drinking wine till 10pm with our parents. It also means moving from my sister, the goddess of last minute babysitting help. And moving from our friends. Visits from and to them won't be as spontaneous. They'll have to be planned. We'll lose some time together, I think.

I'm so torn. It's kind of what I've wanted, for a long time. It's an amazing opportunity. But now that I'm looking at it, for real and not sometime in the future, but NOW- I'm apprehensive. I suddenly appreciate where I've lived my whole life. I've kind of found a new little love for it. I'm a little uncertain. And sad to give up what we have.

But I've never been good at change. This could be a good one. It will be different. Our lives will be different. But it could be good. Sometimes I feel like we are spinning out of control here. Maybe we could all use this.

We'll see.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mama's Day!

Have a wonderful, blissful day, mothers!

It's been a busy weekend around here! My sister in law came in from NYC Thursday night. The husband turned 30 on Friday, so we celebrated with his band playing a gig out and a camp out at a friends house. Yesterday was spent partially recovering, and also doing it again at the in laws for dinner and drinks.

I'm working a bit today, but I'm out early and then back over for another night of dinner and drinks at the in laws.

I do have a pretty thing picture for later this week, but not today :)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Just a Quick Note

So, I'm new to the whole blogging thing and all.

But, I just have to say how much I'm loving Hot Bliggity Blog they have a ton of great backgrounds and they are so easy to use and change (as you may have noticed by my daily changing)! I'm trying to figure out what I like best, so it might be changing regularly for a while :)

I like that you don't have to download the backgrounds - you just paste the code into a widget and that's it - yay!

Normally, I don't like to use premade backgrounds and layouts (on sites like myspace etc. . .) but I'm still figuring out this whole blog thing. And I like that I can change up the look on here so easily.

So, that's it. Just wanted to share!

Baking Bread

So, for several months now I've been using the 5 minute bread recipe published in the October issue of Mother Earth News

I've made the basic bread a lot.

And pizza dough every friday for dinner:

I got the cookbook about a month ago, but until this past weekend hadn't actually tried any of the other recipes.

I finally got around to trying the soft white bread recipe (the kids and husband resist the wheat stuff. Me - I love whole grains - the nuttier and chewier the better. Them? Wonder Bread Please) I've been buying whole grain white, but I would still love to perfect a sandwich loaf at home.

This isn't quite it. But it's close. It's a little heavier than a store loaf - and mine didn't rise quite as high. But the flavor is good. The 10 year old liked it. At the very least it would make a great bread for grilled cheese and french toast.

You don't knead. At all. Just mix it all up - work the flour in, but don't knead!

Cover, but not airtight - and let sit at room temp for 2 hours (I've also put it right in the fridge and it's been just fine

After about 2 hours it will look sort of like this.

Then you're ready to use it if you want - or put it in the fridge. The dough is easier to work with if it's cold.

I think maybe part of the reason the bread didn't rise exactly right is because I didn't follow the next step. I'm so used to making round bread and pizza, I left it to rise like that -instead of in the bread pan.

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes

You can see how they aren't quite high and fluffy

I'm definitely going to give this recipe a few more tries. I think it has some real potential

The authors also include many recipes on their website: artisan bread in five

Now, I'm off to make some lovely bread bags like over at SouleMama (I reference her a lot, I know!)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Strawberry Wine, Week 4

We moved the strawberry wine over into another glass carboy last week. It's a bit tangy, I'm assuming (hoping!) that will settle down over the next two months.

yay! Just two more months until we can bottle!

We bought the second glass carboy about 2 weeks ago. When we bought the first one, last August - they were 15 dollars. This second one cost us 30, and I was told that they will be going up another 300% in the next month or so. We'll probably invest in a third now. I guess there is only one company now making and distributing them? There used to be another company, but now they are coming in from Italy. So if you have any interest in wine making in the near future, I suggest at least getting the glass carboy now.

Kevin also is attempting another beer. He was a little disappointed in his results last summer - but gave it another shot this weekend while I was working on the wine.

my attempt at capturing the bubbling in the airlock

The beer makes so much more noise than the wine in the airlock!

We're really having a lot of fun learning how to brew at home. I'm already looking for another recipe for the next batch of wine!

How to Make Dandelion Wine

First, find some children to help you pick dandelions.


The recipe calls for 35 cups of dandelions, so spend as long as you can stand picking them.


Frolic home.



Recruit a couple of friends into drinking wine and peeling all the petals off of the dandelions. Apparently, there can be no green as this will make the wine bitter. Settle in for a good 5 hours until your thumbs are stained and your back is aching. Notice you have nowhere near 35 cups. But pretend like it doesn't matter.


Work your magic.


Cross your fingers and let the fermenting begin.