A Trip Through Our Wedding, Part III: The Planning

The Guest Book

Dave and I didn’t really care about a traditional guest book, but I did want to remember everyone who was there on our special day. While searching Etsy, I found an awesome idea for a sliced log that was signed then varnished to seal in the names of the guests.

I had my Dad find and cut a piece for us, and then Dave and I used a woodburning tool to etch in a tree of life with a Celtic knot as well as our names and wedding date.

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We had the guests sign with Sharpie paint markers, which I later went over with a regular Sharpie as they started to fade before we could seal the log correctly. Our guest book is now a cool piece of artwork that hangs in our living room, and I absolutely love it.


The Guest List

This was the most difficult part of our wedding, hands down. Dave and I wanted (and could only afford) a small and intimate wedding, so we decided on only immediate family (parents, siblings, grandparents) and close friends. There are several members of my family I consider immediate family, and I invited them as well.

We got a lot of heat about our small guest list, and some people were downright mean about it. Even my parents were a little miffed that I did not invite some of their siblings. It was one of the biggest stressors when planning the wedding, and Dave handled it much better than I did.

However, in the end, we got to speak to every single guest at our wedding, which was exactly what we wanted. I have never begrudged any relatives or friends for having a small wedding to which I am not invited, and I know those who love me best understood why we wanted to keep it small.

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What I learned: no matter how big your guest list is, there will always be someone upset that they weren’t invited. Do what you want. And who knows, even if you haven’t invited someone, they might show up anyway! (Happened to us. No further comment).

The Music

I just happen to know this really great band that consists of my brother and two of my best friends, John and J.D.

Though two of them were in the wedding party, we desperately wanted Solace to play the dancing tunes and asked if we could go back and forth between them and Ipod music so they would still have time to enjoy themselves. They agreed to learn a few new songs, which have now become some of my favorites, like “Ballroom Blitz.”

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I paid each of the band members $75, which was much less than they deserved. However, they were friends (and family) and probably would have done it for free. Still, I wanted to compensate them for having to haul all their musical equipment to a new state as well as set up and take down.

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Dave and I used an Ipod to play our music during the ceremony. We didn’t want any of the traditional wedding songs (surprise, surprise) and finally decided on:

“All I Want is You” by Barry Loius Polisar (from Juno) for the bridal parties entrance. This was such a fun choice and perfect for the mood we wanted to set.

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“The Blood of Cuchulainn” by Jeff and Michael Danna (Boondock Saints theme) for the groom and bride’s entrance. (Dave walked up after the bridal party with his parents, followed by me with my dad). I love this song, and I get even more sentimental at the beginning of The Boondock Saints.

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“All You Need is Love” by The Beatles for the exit.  Dave doesn’t love The Beatles as much as I do, but we both adore the movie Love Actually where this song is showcased during a wedding. Perfect way to leave.

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First dance: “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes

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Father-Daughter Dance: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

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Mother-Son Dance: “Always, In All Way”s by Kenny Loggins

The Food

Standard wedding fare in Wisconsin is fried chicken, beef tips, mashed potatoes, corn, and rolls. Dave and I agreed wholeheartedly that none of this food was going to be served at our wedding. Foodies through and through, we decided to have a pig roast.

10-01-10 (485)The pig was roasted outside during cocktail hour, then shredded and served by the kitchen staff along with the rest of the food including: salad, bourbon chicken, roasted dill potatoes, candied carrots, and rolls. We asked for a few changes: an extra veggie dish for our vegetarian guests and for a different sauce for the carrots (I loathe candied carrots and they offered a different sauce on the menu). There was also chef’s choice of mixed hors d’ouevres served during cocktail hour.

The Drinks

When Dave and I were living with his parents, we decided to open a bottle of their wine one night and felt really guilty as soon as we did. The wine was so good, we were sure it was an expensive bottle. His parents laughed and told us it was cheap wine, $4 or $5 a bottle. We enjoyed it so much that Dave’s parents bought a bunch and we served the Dona Sol during dinner.

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Open bar? Yes.

The Cake

We didn’t have one. Dave and I like cake but didn’t love it well enough to shell out hundreds of dollars on one. Instead, we requested assorted desserts be served alongside coffee, and to this day, I regret the fact that I didn’t get to taste any of the delicious desserts that were there. Chocolate covered what? I miss you!

The Vows

Since the ceremony is the main event, I didn’t want it to be too short. Dave and I decided to do two sets of vows at the judge’s suggestion: we would each read our own vows to each other, then do the traditional vows.

I wrote my vows months in advance and constantly reread and tweaked them. Dave wrote his a few weeks before the wedding and stole the show.


To wanted our ceremony to have a lot of meaning specific to us, so I asked our wedding party if some of them would be willing to read some poetry. Books are some of my best friends, and I wanted them to be present. Our friend Dan read “Prayer for a Marriage” by Steven Scafaldi. Our friend Emily read “The Orange” by Wendy Cope. And our friend Saoirse read an excerpt from The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.

They were all absolutely perfect.

The Photographer

We just happen to know an awesome photographer…Dave’s dad. He was a professional photographer for thirty years before he became a culinary arts instructor, so he was the natural choice. Barry also had a friend come help him out to focus on reception pictures so he didn’t have to snap photos all night. Together, the two of them did a fabulous job. I don’t think Photoshop was used on any of the pictures (especially since I was handed a dvd the morning after), and we still look drop dead gorgeous. Either that, or I only hang out with really attractive people, which may just be true.


Checking in from Seward, AK

Our hotel is great. There’s a main lodge with fifteen small cabins scattered around the plot, and ours is right next to the Resurrection Roadhouse Restaurant. It feels like girl scout camp walking to and from our hotel room to the restaurant and main lodge.


We’re staying in the ‘Windflower’ cabin. We haven’t been hanging out too much in our rooms thus far, but the beds are comfy, and the mountain air that sweeps through the room is very refreshing for sleeping.

I started my first full day in Alaska with a morning run.


It. Was. Awesome.

On the agenda for the day: Hiking to Exit Glacier.


I just can’t get over there are mountains everywhere I look. It would be a beautiful place with just the lush greenery and flowers, but the sheer force of the mountains just puts it over the top.


I really wanted to touch the glacier, but it was too hazardous. Got close, though! I love being so close to nature. It fills my soul with something that I’m missing in the city.



This morning we hopped on the Coastal Explorer for a Kenai Fjords glacier cruise. This time we headed to Holgate Glacier.



The sound of ice breaking and falling was like thunder and fireworks mixed together. There were heaps of sea lions, puffins, and whales….EVERYWHERE! So many whales.



I am having so much fun with my family, especially Amanda and Jake. They are so funny, I feel like I’ve been laughing half the trip. Off for more fun!

A Trip Through Our Wedding, Part II: The Planning

As soon as we moved to Illinois, both unemployed and living with Dave’s parents, we decided to get married. So much for waiting and saving up money. Since we were broke, we wanted to do things as cheaply as possible so as not to put our parents out too much. We almost decided to have our wedding at a park until Dave’s dad brought us to a mansion that cost just a little more than the park wedding. We were sold. At the end of May, we picked our wedding date: October 1st and we were off.


I actually wanted to have our wedding in September so as not to be too close to my parent’s anniversary on October 11th, but the coordinator told me the ground would be all ripped up from a Civil War reenactment. 10-01-10 it is!

Our move to Illinois did not go as planned. We were not having luck finding jobs at all; apparently no one was in the market for recent college grads. Dave’s parents were wonderful hosts, and I loved that I got to know them so much better that summer. However, Dave and I had very few friends in the area, and I was homesick for all my friends and family in Wisconsin. The hideous amounts of rejection emails, letters, and phone calls weren’t helping my spirits much either. I decided to move back to Wisconsin in June and Dave would follow me later. A few weeks after I moved in with my parents, I interviewed and got a job working at a hospital registering patients. And finally, one of us was employed.

Dave’s parents and my parents covered the cost of our wedding, and my new paychecks covered all the remaining tidbits. And we were off.

The Invitations

My family is very D-I-Y, so my mom and I decided to make the invitations ourselves.  Dave and I planned a small wedding of forty some guests; if we had any more than that, I doubt we would have been able to pull it off as quickly as we did. We bought a box of fifty blank invitations and envelopes at Jo Ann Fabrics, some fancy paper, and started printing and cutting away.

We made a traditional invitation for our family members (I can’t find the entire invitation, but these were the base).


And an embellished one for our friends.


I asked my sister Moriah to hand write names and addresses on the envelopes with he calligraphy skills, and they turned out perfectly. Dave thought we spent too much time on the invitations, but honestly, that’s one of the things I had most fun doing. I love playing around with words and pictures on my computer, so making the invitations was really fun.

I also typed up the programs in the same style as the invitations.


The Dress

My sister Emily is a wonderful seamstress and had been making costumes for me and my family members since she was in high school. I decided to test out her skills by giving her the ultimate sewing task: making my wedding dress. I had an idea of how I wanted it to look, so Em and I drew it up together, then went shopping for the fabric and colors I wanted.

Although brides almost exclusively wear white now, a variety of hues were once popular. In fact, it was only after Queen Victoria got married in white that brides started following suit. Prior to that, green was actually a popular choice, which can be seen in Jan Van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Wedding from 1434.

Source: ibiblio.com

Green is one of my favorite colors because it reminds me of many things I love: nature, summer, and Ireland. I was an art minor in college and was always fascinated by The Arnolfini Portrait (though the dog is actually my favorite part). Also, with as clumsy as I can be, white and I just don’t go together. I chose green.

Armed with coupons galore, Emily and I picked up the materials for my dress for $40. She spent the summer sewing and donated her time as my wedding gift. Though I will admit that I had to lose a little weight to fit in my dress come wedding day (that’s what you get for having a sister who doesn’t like making adjustments), it was everything I hoped it would be.

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Since it was a corset-style top, I went back and forth over what type of bra to wear underneath it and tried a bunch of different options, none of which were comfortable or looked right. In the end, I decided to let my dress hold me up, and except for one picture where I’m doing the twist, I didn’t have a problem.

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I felt beautiful in that dress and even though it will never fit me again (nor do I want it to), I loved it.

The Jewelry

I borrowed a necklace from my grandma to wear with my dress. Although I generally wear silver jewelry, my dress had gold accents, so my grandma’s necklace not only matched it beautifully, but it became my “something borrowed.”

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Try as I might, I couldn’t find a new pair of earrings to match the necklace. I wasn’t willing to spend a lot of money, either. After asking my mom’s opinion, I finally decided to wear a pair of gold-accented pearl earrings that my first serious boyfriend gave me for a birthday years before.  I wasn’t sure it was appropriate at first, but then I decided “Love is love.” Those earrings were given to me with love, and I am still on good terms with my former boyfriend, so it didn’t seem wrong to wear them to celebrate.

I got my nose pierced just a few months before my wedding day. Though I always wear a ring, I decided to tone it down with a gold sparkly stud for the day.

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The Shoes

I spent $20 on my wedding shoes from Payless. I knew they weren’t going to be seen, so I decided to get something comfortable. These shoes didn’t give me a problem all night, and I’ve worn them a few times since. I glued a Irish one-pence onto my shoe for good luck, and it unwittingly got thrown into my “Chel & Dave’s Trip to Ireland” jar.


The Garter

I was not dead-set on wearing a garter, but I thought it would be fun. Not lying, I kind of wanted a flask garter. I looked for a few artsy ones on Pinterest, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so I ended up just picking a lacy white one from JoAnn Fabrics and gluing some blue beads and a shamrock button onto it. Something green and blue! I did not do a garter toss, so this was the only one I had.


The Headwear

I knew from the start that I wanted to wear a tiara. I simply couldn’t see myself in a veil, and I’m sure it would have looked a little strange with my green dress. Dave and I didn’t have a theme per se, but we did incorporate a lot of Celtic accents to our wedding, and I wanted a tiara that matched it.

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All the tiaras I liked were silver (of course), but I finally found a gold one I liked that matched my necklace. It was more money than I wanted to spend at $99, but since my dress was $40 and my shoes were $20,  I gave in.

The tiara was not comfortable. It dug into my skull and left two bumps on either side of my head the next morning. You live, you learn. At least it looked nice.

The Suit

Dave planned on wearing a suit he normally wore for job interviews, but his mom insisted she buy him a new suit for his wedding. He picked out a three piece pinstriped suit, and I bought him a cool Celtic tie at Trulley Irish to wear with it. He bought a new black tam to complete the outfit.

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The Rings

In keeping with the Celtic theme, Dave and I chose celtic knot bands from an Irish store in town, Trulley Irish. We did not want to spend a lot of money on wedding bands and thought these were a steal for $50 each.


Unfortunately, I can’t stand wearing the ring anymore. It is a size five and unbearable to wear in the summer when my hands swell up. Dave doesn’t wear his anymore due to the nature of his job. I picked up a new wedding ring at Oshkosh Irish Fest that bears a wonderful resemblance to my wedding band and fits more nicely at a size six.


Dave and I have decided at some point in the future to get Celtic rings tattooed on our left ring fingers, which is something we’ve been talking about for awhile.

The Wedding Party

Dave and I both grew up with close friends of both genders. Because we didn’t want to exclude people based on gender, I decided to have “bridesmen” in addition to my bridesmaids, and Dave had “groomsmaids” in addition to groomsmen.

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I am close with both of my sisters, so we decided awhile ago that we would trade off being each other’s maid of honor. Emily would be mine, Moriah would be Emily’s, and I would be Moriah’s. Done. We lost touch with Dave’s original best man, so Dave asked his sister Ali to be his.

We had a huge wedding party compared to the total guest count of our wedding, but we have a lot of close friends and wanted them all to be part of our day. In the end, I had three men and three women on my side, and Dave had one man and four women on his side. Eleven wonderful people in all.

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We asked all the women to wear a black dress with whatever kind of shoes and jewelry they wanted, and we asked all the men to wear a black suit. We provided the men with gold ties I ordered online for $2.99 each so we’d have a little matching action going on. Our fathers each got one as well.

The Flowers

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In addition to her many artistic talents, my mom has a way with flowers. Initially I was fine with skipping flowers due to the cost but Dave wanted flowers, and my mom thought we could do them ourselves for a lot cheaper than a traditional florist.

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She took me on a tour through a wholesale flower shop, and I got to pick out what I liked best with some of my mom’s suggestions thrown in for a good bouquet. My mom, Aunt Dina, and I did the flowers the morning of the wedding (corsages, bouttonieres, bouquets, the works), and my aunt and cousin arrived later to help.

10-01-10 (18) My mom finished the flowers up herself when I had to go get ready.

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In hindsight, doing the flowers the morning of the wedding was a bit much. I especially felt bad that my mom ended up skipping time to get ready so that she could finish the flowers. However, they turned out beautifully, and we’ve had requests to do more wedding flowers for family members and friends ever since.

The Favors

The favors were, once again, something I could have done without. I feel that they’re an unnecessary wedding expense. However, since my mom has a tea business, she thought it would be cool to give away loose leaf tea as favors, and I loved that idea.  We made up little envelopes with a bag of Warm Hearth tea (one of my favorites) and an Irish saying printed on:

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There were hardly any favors left behind. And I got to use the extras.

A Trip Through Our Wedding, Part I: The Proposal

Like most people, my wedding was the happiest day of my life….so far. Not only because I married a man who never fails to show much how much he loves me, but because I got to celebrate with all of my very favorite people in the world (It should be noted that I’ve added a few more “favorite” people to my collection since then).

Family & Friends. Music. Food. Poetry. Dancing. Seeing Dave’s face as he read his vows to me. I would relive it once a month if I could. Dave would like to as well, but he wants to nix the ceremony part where he cries.

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Dave proposed on a cool November night, just after Thanksgiving. At the time, we had been together just over a year. Though I knew he had bought a ring (because of the strange way he had been acting weeks before and because of my feminine intuition), it was a spontaneous proposal. I believe he actually intended to propose right before Christmas.

We were living in our first apartment together and had just put up all the holiday decorations. Neither of us is religious, but we absolutely adore the holidays and usually put up our decorations right after Thanksgiving.

100_3684We turned on the lights and lit up the tree, then lay together on the couch. Our cat Athena jumped up beside us purring and I said, “Everything is just perfect right now.” Dave pullled a box out of his pocket and said “Would it be more perfect if you were wearing this?”


Then Dave began the speech. It was a flowery, lovely speech; the speech everyone wants to hear during a proposal. Unfortunately, I don’t remember it, because my ears were buzzing, my mouth went dry, and my heart was beating so loud, I was sure it had flown out of my chest and up into my ear canal.

“Yes,” was on the tip of my tongue, but it just wouldn’t spill out. If it had, it may have sounded like a bullfrog with a cold. Dave’s voice was a little shaky and nervous, and as I looked into the face I loved the most in the world, I kissed him, still rendered speechless.

“Does that mean yes?” he asked. “Yes, it does,” I answered.


The ring was so beautiful and so “me.” Only Dave could have picked it out. He knew I wasn’t a huge fan of diamonds and instead got an emerald setting with tiny diamonds clustered around in waves. Dave actually didn’t know there were diamonds in the ring. He told me later that he thought they were “sparklies.”

I asked my mom to stop by my workplace a day later, because I had to show her something. When she came in, I proudly showed off my left hand and the ring and said “Dave proposed!”

She gasped, looking at the ring and asked……….”What did you say?!”

She clearly forgot that by putting the ring on your finger, then showing it off to people is a pretty clear “yes.” She then asked if her skin would turn green and warty and if she would have to wear a black pointy hat until I pointed out “That’s a witch, Mom, not a mother-in-law.” Obviously, she was in shock.


Dave and I couldn’t decide on a date. We knew we wanted to finish college (we were in our senior year) and save up some money….but it didn’t happen. Dave was frequently in between jobs and mine just covered our bills, nothing more. We moved down to Illinois a year and a half after Dave proposed to live with his parents and search for work in a new state. And it was then, both unemployed, that we decided to finally tie the knot.

Travelin’ Song

I’ve been gone less than a day, and I’ve already taken 150 pictures. The whole trip has been surreal so far. I will post in detail later, but I wanted to give you some tidbits of what’s been going on.

For my first flight ever, Mom let me snag the window seat and watch takeoff. The flight attendant cautioned “We had a pretty turbulent flight on the way here and expect it will be the same on the way back so please keep your seatbelts fastened.”



After taking off, feeling my stomach bounce around, watching rain slash the window pane, and try to wrap my head around the fact that I was 10,000 feet in the air, I felt a little like this when our first flight landed after just forty minutes.



It was terrifying, but exhilarating. And when we got on our second flight three hours later, I picked a window seat again.



Another wing-side seat! This plane was much larger and much more comfortable. Even still, I was not a fan of taking off. My hands and feet were sweating, and Mom had to put her hand on mine to stop me from performing some magical trick on the plane with my waving hands. Being suspended in air, handling the turbulent patches, and even landing I was just fine with. I tried to sleep for a bit on our 5 1/2 hour flight but didn’t have much luck. It’s hard to sleep when this is under your nose



I’m in love with this landscape. We waited seven hours in the Anchorage airport, and it felt like an eternity. I just wanted to be amongst those mountains!



We walked around, watched some Gilmore Girls on Mom’s laptop, walked some more, slept restlessly on the seats, and drank coffee while we waited until it was time to leave the airport to taxi to our bus.


The bus ride was just amazing. I wanted to sleep, but I could barely keep my eyes closed because this was outside my window



The last time I saw mountains, I was thirteen and in Virginia. Wisconsin is beautiful, but these mountains were just eye-opening, breath-taking, falling-in-love awesome.

After two and a half hours, if it was possible, we arrived to an even more beautiful place.



We met my cousins Amanda and Jake, who gave us a wonderfully warm welcome. We got a tour of the lodge, the village of Seward, and sat down for some much needed food.



After lunch, we headed to the beach. It was like no beach I had ever seen before.


I feel like I’ve been awake forever, but I just can’t sleep yet. Seward is luring me in with its siren calls, and I must answer.

Leavin’ on a Jet Plane

I woke up at 6:00am this morning with 11 hours until takeoff. It was a wonderfully cool morning; we opened up the window and door, and the breeze through the apartment made it feel just like fall. No wonder I slept so well last night.

After two cups of deliciously hot coffee (which I haven’t enjoyed since spring), I went on a long walk to kill some time.

001Mile 1: 14:13

Mile 2: 14:49

Mile 3: 14:49

Mile 4: 13:46 (couldn’t help it and started to run)

Mile 5: 13:34

Total miles: 4.87   Duration: 1:09:25   Pace per mile: 14:15

Dave and I went to Target to kill some more time, and after I came home and triple checked that I packed everything, we decided to enjoy lunch out together.

imageDave and I are connoisseurs of good bread, and I have found most bakeries to be delightful places for lunch. The type of bread used can make or break a sandwich. We went to Not By Bread Alone once before and loved their lunches, though we found the loaves of bread for sale very pricy compared to other bakeries in the area.

imageI really like the interior of the place; the gold and orange embellishments make me think of Tuscany, but Dave thinks it’s “too yellow.” Not By Bread Alone has a great selection of salads, hot and cold sandwiches, soups, and coffee drinks. We spent a little bit deliberating before finally going with the special: 1/2 a cranberry egg salad sandwich with spicy tomato dill soup.

imageAnother awesome thing about eating at a bakery: they always give you extra bread on the side. Great for carb lovers like me.

The spicy tomato dill soup was awesome. It had the perfect amount of spice, and I loved the addition of dill.

imageI told Dave I needed a picture to remember him by, so he posed for me. I’m going to miss that face!

After we left the bakery cafe, we headed right to my grandma’s house to pick up my mom and Dina. Since this is my first time traveling by plane and my mom and aunt haven’t flown in years, we showed up to the airport two hours early, and it only took us about 15 minutes to check-in. So we’re enjoying coffee and tea and discussing our upcoming trip while we wait to board.

imageMom’s so excited for Alaska!

imageThanks for being my travel companion, Aunt Dina!

imageI have some wedding posts scheduled to keep you readers entertained next week, but I’m going to try to check in regularly so I don’t get too overwhelmed with pictures and blog posts when we get back. But I’m not going to think about coming home yet.



My Bags Are Packed, I’m Ready to Go

Yesterday’s exercise: “running” errands. It counts if I say it does!

As soon as I left work, there was a torrential downpour, complete with lightning. Fun! We haven’t had a thunderstorm in awhile, and I love them. Plus it gave me an excuse to try out the rain jacket I purchased for Alaska.


It’s a Columbia Women’s Switchback Rain Jacket: the cheapest one I could find at $39.99 that still got decent reviews.

It’s surprisingly warm for how light it is, and it fits like a glove: really not a lot of wiggle room in here. I’m still used to the rain jackets we used to wear up at our cabin.

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Either thick, heavy plastic in bright pink and blue or one like my sister Moriah is posing in, which drowns you before the water gets you. Mine is much classier, at least according to my mom who I ran into at Target: “You look so stylish!” “You mean in my flip flops, rain jacket, and hat?” Apparently it doesn’t take much to make me stylish. I must look like a scrub most of the time.

Errands yesterday included:

  • Picking up prescriptions
  • Calling Cellcom to add roaming minutes
  • Calling my bank to let them know I’m using my debit card in Alaska (which apparently you only have to do if you’re using a credit card or traveling internationally–I heard Russia was right next to Alaska, so I just wanted to give them a head’s up in case I ventured over unexpectedly)
  • Depositing checks at the bank
  • Going to Target for Dramamine, gum, and snacks for the plane

And then I followed my mom’s advice and started packing whilst drinking a glass of wine.


Look how much room I have left in my suitcase! Plenty of space for someone who wants to hitch a ride or to fill with souvenirs. Hopefully that doesn’t mean I’m forgetting a lot of things.


Artemis and I developed a special bond when we went to the vet together, and now he doesn’t want me to go. “Papa can’t clean my puke like you can, Mama! Stay! Stay!”


Meanwhile, Athena gave me the cold shoulder. “Oh, you’re leaving? Fine.”

Dave and I never really decided to do anything last night, so we feasted on a heap ton of sushi and watched I Love Lucy.



Dave fell asleep with his head on my lap around 9:00pm, and then I went to bed. We’re such party animals.



I haven’t always been a cat person. Four years ago, I lost one of my best friends. I still think about Sage quite often and remember his funeral like it was yesterday; my family sat in a circle around Sage’s body in the blanket-covered Red Rider wagon, raised a shot of whiskey and drank to the life he had with us, and I finally kissed his furry head and blessed his death with my tears. I miss my little fluffernugget.

I Just Don’t Know…

How many books to pack!

I’ve calculated the travel time to be 36 hours including plane(s), layovers, bus, and train. That should give me a lot of time to partake in one of my favorite activities–reading! Unfortunately, I tend to get car sick when I read, so I heard that it is very likely I will get air sick if I read, as well. Is this true for anyone else?

Still, I’m going prepared with gum and dramamine. I downloaded J.K. Rowling’s new book for my Kindle: The Cuckoo’s Calling, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.


I’m not sure if I mentioned this on the blog before, but a friend clued me in to its existence a few weeks ago. Rowling published this crime fiction novel under the pseudonym of Galbraith in April and sold about 8.500 copies in the first couple months. The book received excellent reviews on its own before Rowling finally admitted she wrote it.

The Cuckoo’s Calling quickly became a #1 best seller but also garnered less acclaim than previously; my personal theory is sour grapes. A lot of people (particularly from reviews I’ve read on Amazon) were upset that she “tricked” them by using a pseudonym. I personally think it’s awesome that she used a pseudonym. She probably knew she was going to be found out, but she clearly wasn’t in it for the money or fame; she just wanted to release a book and hear some honest reviews before people associated a household name with the book.

I was not a fan of The Casual Vacancy, but I know Rowling is a gifted storyteller and am eagerly anticipating this read.

I’m also packing the book I’m currently reading: Three Junes by Julia Glass.


I rescued it from the clearance bin at Goodwill and have had it on my bookshelf for at least six months now, along with my other “waiting to be read” books. It took me awhile to get into this book: in fact, I started it once before and stopped. I’m not quite drawn into the story yet, but I’m starting to become more closely acquainted with the characters, so I’m going to keep on keeping on.

I think I need to bring a third book with me: something light and familiar, but I haven’t decided what yet. Anne of Green Gables? Artemis Fowl? The Golden Compass?

What to Do with All These Hearts

My poor little bugger Artemis still wasn’t feeling better yesterday. Instead of making him stop vomiting, the special intestinal food we were giving him was only making him vomit more and have diarrhea. I called the vet back and explained the situation, then went to exchange his wet food for a different dry food. I’m sure it will take awhile to get into his system but he hasn’t thrown up since yesterday afternoon. Huzzah!


Then I turned to the internet for my problem: What do I do with all these artichoke hearts?

002Who cares if it’s 80 degrees? Let’s make soup! Potato-Leek is one of my all time favorites (next to French Onion), so Potato-Artichoke seemed like a great idea.



  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups chopped peeled potatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 10 oz of canned, drained artichoke hearts
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • salt & pepper to taste


Heat butter and oil in a large pot over medium heat until the butter melts. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4-6 minutes, or until softened. Add garlic and thyme and stir for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.


Stir in potatoes and artichoke hearts.


Add broth and water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a lively simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Puree the soup in a pot using an immersion blender (or blend in batches in a regular blender). Add milk and salt & pepper to taste.

Recipe adapted from: Eating Well


I never crave soup in the summer, so I didn’t eat too much of it, but it was really good. Not quite as good as potato-leek, but I can work with it. I love the hint of spice from the crushed red pepper, and the thyme was a welcome addition. I will definitely remember this recipe come fall.

I rounded out dinner with some roasted brussels sprouts.


Tossed with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and sliced garlic, then roasted at 425 for 25 minutes.


Between the soup and the brussels sprouts, I used 3/4 of a bulb of garlic yesterday. No wonder the vampires stayed far away last night.

A Trip to the Vet

*First of all, thank you to everyone for listening and responding to my “worrying” post–you guys are the best! Sometimes you just need to vent before things get pushed into perspective, and I’m feeling much better now.*

I really think sleeping in and waking up without an alarm clock is one of the best feelings in the world. Too bad no one gets to do it very often, including me. Fortunately I had the day off yesterday and was elated that I got to sleep in until 7:00am.

Yesterday was a perfect morning for a run, so I did a quick 2.8 mile loop in the summer breeze while listening to the new playlist I made for the Illgenstock CD exchange. It made me so happy listening to it on my otherwise quiet run yesterday. A new playlist can work wonders on an old route.

I spent a lot of the day running errands, including taking this little bugger to the vet.


The noise he made when I put him in the car was absolutely heartbreaking. His meow sounded like “Whyyyyyy? Whyyyyy?”

As soon as I brought him inside the office, though, he was such a good boy. He didn’t hiss at the dogs that sniffed his cage, and he held perfectly still under my hands as he got weighed (8.5 lbs) and then succumbed to a rectal temperature check before giving a urine sample.PicMonkey Collage

He was very confused at his new surroundings but after thoroughly checking them out, he finally plopped down on the counter. He got so many compliments for how handsome and healthy he was; the vet said she is used to seeing so many obese cats now that it’s rare to see a normal-sized cat like Artemis.

We were sent home with a box of special wet food and some probiotic powder to cure his ailing stomach. It’s already been crazy trying to feed him and Athena separately when all she wants is the wet food and all he wants is the dry food. He’s still throwing up, but he hasn’t had an accident yet since I brought him home, so that’s a good sign.

After I brought Arty home, I worked on a few blog posts for next week before starting on dinner. One of my parent’s friends sent me home from Illgenstock with two huge cans of artichoke hearts, and yesterday was my first chance using them.


I make a mean artichoke hummus, but I really wanted to make a spinach artichoke pizza. I picked up a couple of pre-made wheat pizza crusts at the store the other day to test out.


The crusts came in a two-pack, so I made two different pizzas.


This one had a pesto base with mozarella cheese, spinach,  sliced garlic, and artichokes.

I used 4 oz of shredded mozzarella on this pizza intending to use the remaining 4 oz on the next pizza. Until I knocked the tupperware off the counter with my elbow and did this:


Gah! The garbage got to eat the rest of the mozzarella, so I used feta on the next pizza.


Chopped tomatoes, mushrooms cooked in truffle oil, spinach, garlic and herb feta cheese, and Morning Star bacon broken into chunks.

 I baked both the pizzas at 425 for 20 minutes, switching them once. When there were three minutes to go, I topped the spinach artichoke pizza with some cooked shrimp.


I couldn’t decide which pizza was my favorite. They were both delicious. The thin crust wasn’t my favorite, but it was a fine base for the toppings.  I think it would make a great grilled pizza.


Now what am I going to do with the remaining 7/8 of a can of artichoke hearts before they go bad. I wonder if I can freeze them?