Monday, October 22, 2012

A Fool's Guide To Weddings

I interrupt all debate chatter to discuss a much more exciting happening in my life. Today, I received my first wedding present and it is divine. The first of my wedding china.

Who's coming to tea?
I almost did not put wedding china on my registry. B. didn't want most of the things we have on our registry for practical reasons. I didn't want to have to eat off plastic plates. That wouldn't feel "married"; that would feel like we were roommates in college.

Today is 60 days till the wedding. Yesterday was the two month mark. I think I am still in elation at the thought of marrying B. and denial that I've been wedding planning for the past ten months (not going into event planning in the near or far future, that is for sure) and once I send out those wedding invitations, bam! It's really-really-really happening!

Wedding planning is possibly one of the hardest things I've ever done. To say it's time consuming is an understatement. If you dislike being put on the spot or making huge decisions based on personal preference like I do, this is not the activity for you. If you are addicted to Pintrest, this is not for you either.

Fortunately, I've been blessed with a Type A mother, three sisters, a beyond helpful future mother-in-law, obliging vendors and a need to plan, plan, plan!

Here's what I've learned, and so, without much further adieu, A Fool's Guide To Weddings:
1. Engaged? Congratulations! Start planning now. You're not early, you're late. Get started on pre-cana too; you'll be amazed how that whizzes by you! Also, NFP: learn it, love it, live it. 
2. Shop around for vendors. What people say and what people do are two different things; you're paying them, so choose carefully. 
3. Be flexible on the "vision" of your wedding. People love this topic of conversation. I have no idea what it means, except that your wedding might not be Pintrest-y enough, and that is okay. Save those mason jars for canning and bacon fat. 
4. Every time someone sends you something or helps with your wedding, send a thank you card or just say thank you. If someone offers to help, include them. You can never be gracious enough or thankful enough that these people are supporting you as you prepare for your wedding and marriage.
5. Whenever I get stressed, B. says to me, "I think, at the end of the day, we'll be married." Does that help me with flower arrangements? Does that help me make a decision? No. But it gives me perspective, and that is worth its weight in gold! You're going to be married as well as get married. Both are important. 
6. I said "okay!" to my dress. I'm feeling good about the table decorations. I'm glad the church will be decorated for Christmas and that is one less thing off my To Do list: in other words, don't let the details drag you down
8. If you are a friend of the bride or groom, nothing is going to put them more on edge than presuming you're invited. It is a sad fact of life, but there it is. If you're invited, grand! If you're not, it is so not personal. Weddings are expensive, especially when you're from a big family. 
9. Be prepared to disagree with your significant other. So far, I have vetoed "Hot in Herre" and Nickelback from our wedding reception, and B. will not be dressed in a canary yellow vest. Sometimes, I do have an opinion. A very, very strong one. 
10. Continue to date your significant other. I can loudly say that I am more in love with B. now than when he proposed (10 months ago tomorrow!). Our communication level is possibly the most beautiful thing we have; there is nothing I cannot talk with him about. We pray nightly, support each other at work and at school, laugh a lot, and plan together. We prioritize the other, which makes wedding planning more of a joy than a burden. I am so happy to do it, as I plan for the big day, just as I plan for our marriage.

Us at a good friend's wedding last month

It is thus with a good conscience that I celebrate my wedding china; it is more than a pretty pattern. It is will be used to celebrate holidays and birthdays and days we like to remind our children that they are so important to us that we use the nice plates just because. It is a collection I may one day pass down to a daughter or granddaughter.

They are beautiful, and fragile, and they are ours.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Poem: Examination of Conscience

Examination of Conscience by Sally Thomas

Yes, I've done that. Yes, I've done that, too.
In fact, if we review the Deadly Sins,
We see my name on them, their name on me:
Wrath, Greed, Pride, Sloth, Lust, and Gluttony.
And Envy. I wish now that I were you,
Strange to myself. Each examen begins
With yes, as if I'd come to claim my own
Cold body on its slab. Yes, yes, I know me.
That pink wrinkle of a scar on my right knee
Gives me away, an error on my skin's
Clean record, one lie I told when I was nine.
Just skinned, that's all. These Band-aids? Nothing . . . Only
The mouth beneath them told the truer story.
I peeled them off me, one by painful one.

From the Patheos Year of Faith series.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

January Wedding

B. and I toyed with a January wedding, and my reasons may have been more in line with this song instead of a timing factor. Thus, a December wedding for us!

"True love is not the kind of thing you should turn down."

I love you, Avett Brothers! Yes, let's get married.

By the way, did y'all know that my Bright Maiden compatriots BOTH got engaged last weekend? It's true! Three cheers for Elizabeth and Trista and their loves! Here's Elizabeth's version of the story.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Review: The Newlywed Cookbook

Sarah Copeland has given readers, beginner cooks and sous chefs alike, another delicious treat. Her first book, The Newlywed Cookbook: Fresh Ideas & Modern Recipes for Cooking with and for Each Other, is a wide blend of homemade and heirloom dishes. She is motivated by the advice of her grandmother, Virginia Edwards Copeland, to "learn to make his favorite things."

From an aesthetic view, the book is divine. Gorgeous photography by Sara Remington is paired with a charming lay-out. Her sister, Jenny Goddard, designed the "Sips" tag on the iced tea in the "Embellishments: Snacks, Sauces & Sips to Enlighten the Table" section. Sarah's knowledge on seasonable fruits and vegetables, organics, picking out meat, how to stock one's kitchen, what kind of tools to have on hand, and all questions in-between are abundantly given.

Sarah introduces herself as much as her book in her writing. She tells us,
"There's a moment in a marriage, whether two days or two hundred and twenty-two into it, where you're standing side by side in the morning barefoot on the cool kitchen floor. Everything is quiet but the hum of him making you coffee just the way you like it, with all that frothy milk and sugar. You're stirring his favorite pancakes, sprinkling a few blueberries in the batter, and then it hits you: these simple moments are somehow the best in life. This could happen over a fork fight for the last peach in the jar, or playing rock-paper-scissors for whose turn it is to do dishes. It can happen, and will happen over and over again if you let it. That is the essence of this book."
Sarah is a self-described "writer, urban gardener, passionate cook and curator of good living. She is a six year veteran of the Food Network and co-founder (and former spokesperson) for their charitable initiative, Good Food Gardens. She thrives on "homegrown veggies, stinky cheeses, chocolate cake" and her little family, made up of her husband Andras and their baby, Greta."

As a bride-to-be myself, and one who does not cook often (or ever), I found myself time and time again with this cookbook, pouring over it with fascination and hope. Sarah inspired me to cook for my fiance B. and his parents, and I don't take that impulse lightly. Before fixing Shrimp Saganaki for them, I had cooked for B. exactly once.

On a page labeled "Strategies," Sarah confesses that, though there may be dozens of rules to good cooking, she's probably broken most of them. She gives "ten strategies to make your kitchen the spirited and well-seasoned center of your nest." I took numbers 1, 4, 6 and 8 ("Get Smart, Get Fresh," "Learn the Art of Reading Recipes," "Be Flexible," "Don't Panic") especially to heart.

Sarah gives just enough instruction (though I would have preferred more in a few cases, as a novice), as well as insight into fresher ingredients, preparation advice and alternations for individual recipes. For meals, she makes specific suggestions of what to serve the dish with, be it the wine, bread, or greens.

I fixed the Shrimp Saganaki, which turned out so well that I decided to try another recipe. In this instance, Sarah and I are a culinary match: we both eat carrot cake every year on our birthday. This birthday, I made my own cake, as well as the cream cheese frosting. It was delicious, and only got better over the few days it lasted.

This book is wonderful, warm, and inviting. It reads like a good conversation and gives encouragement through Sarah's perpetual optimism and care toward both cooking and life. 

Originally published in The Key.

Book published by Chronicle Books,

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Happy Founders Day!

In 1870, six women came together and formed Kappa Kappa Gamma. 142 years later, we sisters continue to be blessed!

Happy Founders Day!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Emptying My Closet

As my wedding in 70+ days, I've started packing.

First, my papers. Papers from grade school. Papers from high school. Papers from college. Newspapers I've been published in and edited. Post-it notes. Letters. Spirals full of notes. Journals full of memories. Three garbage bags and many, many boxes from The Container Store later, they were packed and placed in the basement.

Next, my books. When B. and I were first discussing moving, he looked around my room and asked, "Are all these books coming with us?"
I started at him. What's wrong with five bookcase packed full and spilling over into different stacking styles with lovely books?
"Yes!" I told him, incredulous he would ask such a question.

Well, that is no longer true. I decided to be the bigger person and go through all my books and really discern which ones should come and which should stay and keep some soul in my to-be old room. I'm not saying I wept to leave a few books behind, but... books are like friends, right? Six boxes packed, four or five to go.

Now, clothes. This is a more serious problem. I realized that I have a lot of old t-shirts. So does B. They have more sentimental value than anything else; if they were a plain shirt, they'd be tossed in a minute.

My question is this: How do you get rid of clothes you've had forever? What kind of basics should I start looking into to buy for B. and me/ make sure we have? We both have a lot of clothes but... we're grown-ups now. I don't think I should keep my old lacrosse and sorority t-shirts around forever...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Prayer for the Tzar

"Rabbi, may I ask you a question?"
"Certainly, Leibesh!"
"Is there a proper blessing for the Tzar?"
"A blessing for the Tzar? Of course. May God bless and keep the Tzar... far away from us!"


Friday, October 5, 2012

Proverbs 31: Woman of Action

There is a great fear among women that we are being under-appreciated. It’s not that we women want all the power; we just want credit for sharing it! In Amanda Mortus’s “To Be Used or Appreciated?”, she laments how tired a Proverbs 31 woman seems, and wishes more of those holy verses spoke intimately of her heart and character.

“Yes, she does all these things, but who is she?” implores Ms. Mortus.

Two Sundays ago, we heard “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” (James 2:14). The September 2012 issue of The Magnificat focuses specifically on work as the blessing of the month, and features a passage from Blessed John Paul II:
“Work is not only good in the sense that it is useful or something to enjoy; it is also good as being something worthy, that is to say, something that corresponds to man’s dignity, that expresses this dignity and increases it… Work is a good thing for man – a good thing for his humanity – because through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being and indeed in a sense becomes ‘more of a human being.’ (Laborem Exercens #9) 
 The Proverbs 31 woman may be tired, and she is also satisfied. She has “strength and dignity and laughs at the days to come” (Prv 31:25), which directly correlates to all the mentioned work she does. And why is that? Because she has joy in serving others; she “works with willing hands” (Prv 31:13). She is an ordinary woman who respects her husband and has his utmost trust, loves and is celebrated by her family, whom takes responsibility for the running of her household, and knows where she can be of use. She may have worries, but she “does not eat the bread of idleness” (Prv 31:27).

Women have the amazing opportunity to share their gifts and talents with their family and in their community. Whatever a woman’s role, may she speak out of “her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (Prv 31:26). In contrast to Ms. Mortus’s speculation, these verses are not so outwardly focused but rather inward; her character is shown through her actions. It is a classic “faith with works” collaboration. Without a woman’s love, her actions would not yield laudable results. Without a woman’s actions, her love would grown barren.

As St. Paul wrote, “We urge you, brothers, to progress even more, and to aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instruct you” (1 Thes 4:10-11). This is the essence of such a virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31 and is not meant as a disheartening load, but an encouraging example.

This is the beauty of a Proverbs 31 woman: she gets the job done. She doesn’t complain or seek recognition for her deeds; she does what is necessary out of love and she moves around from her flax to the fields to the merchants to her family. We are shown her character – she has discipline, patience and perseverance – and her heart: she seeks no reward outside God’s provisions. She laughs at the future because she is content today.

How many of us can claim such inner peace?

Originally posted at Ignitum Today!