Thursday, November 30, 2006

three good things

The other day there was an article in the paper about improving one’s happiness. A motivational speaker who thought she pretty much knew the drill about techniques in that vein was challenged by a new one. The idea was this: before going to bed, think about three good things that happened during the day, and consider what it was that made them good things for the person in question. She claimed that in practicing this techniques the quality of her dreams changed (for the better), and so did her outlook. By the time my head is hitting the pillow the last thing I want to be doing is thinking, never mind trying to analyze portions of my day! But during the night last night, while I was awake between segments of sleeping, I decided to think of three good things from the day. Fortunately they were easy!

In sequence:
1) I got a phone call in the morning from a friend whose son is newly engaged, and he and his fiancé would like me to perform their wedding next spring/summer. They will fly Ken and me out to Napa for the event! As I said to her, that’s an offer I can’t refuse!
2) I had a great shopping day on my way home from church, narrowing down the list of gifts to get to a mere handful
3) We received a wonderful wedding present from a group of friends (you know who you are!!) that will allow us to take a honeymoon—finally!!

Kip would call this a big biscuit day (as would I), and future days won’t have such obvious “goodness” happening from which to glean my three good things. But what a wonderful way to start a process of reflecting on what is good, to improve dreams (and sleep!), and increase my joy. I’m on the lookout now!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

happy birthday, Ken!

Today is Ken’s birthday, and I need to get my you-know-what in gear and wrap a few presents! He started the day with an early breakfast down at the Cathedral, but will come home a little early from work so that we can head downtown to P.F. Chang’s for dinner. We have discovered that there are actually some choices on the menu there that I can eat! He’s good to indulge my dietary needs on HIS birthday!
Here are a few more pics from the wedding that we got from Mom yesterday. I love the one of Mom, Sammy and me. I’m afraid there really aren’t going to be any good pictures of the dress. It’s embroidery is not symmetrical, running down the left side of the bodice and skirt, and it seems that in all the pictures I am turned (mostly) with my left side away from the camera. This picture is probably the best so far that shows the dress from head to toe. The other is of the best women of the bridal party, including our best girl, Katie. (Left to right are Jayne Trapnell, our Yenta, from Ringgold, GA; Caroline Gilje, friend from St. Louis and veterinarian extraordinaire; Judy Stoughton, matron of honor, from Manchester, CT, and friend since the fourth grade; and Barbara Walton, friend of mine and of my family and my grandmother, from Augusta, GA. Katie needs no introduction!) We’re still waiting to hear from the photographer about her pictures!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

a glimpse of holiday color

We had a great day Sunday, beginning with a surprise birthday reception for Ken at church. From there we went to Cheekwood, our botanical garden, to see the holiday displays at the mansion/museum. Here are a few pics--wish I had some of these kinds of spaces to decorate!!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

the end result

The wreaths are up, and this morning Ken is cleaning out the gutters while he prepares to hang icicle lights at the front of the house. Here’s a picture of the wreaths, and a solicitation of opinions!

The kitchen window is a half window, with a wooden façade below it. It’s the only window that we really spend any time looking out of that faces the front of the house, so I didn’t want to obscure that small space by hanging the wreath there while there was an adequate space to attach it below. But I’m wondering if it looks funny hanging lower than the rest of the wreaths, which are suspended in the upper half of the windows. Any thoughts out there on the subject? I could really go either way.

We’re grateful for a nice day with moderate temperatures to get some of this outdoor work done, and this afternoon will go to Cheekwood (our botanical garden) to see their holiday display and get some pictures for use on my cards (I hope). I am loving this long weekend, and it’s nice to have a leisurely pace after the fullness of the previous months. That will end soon enough as Christmas preparations swing into full gear! Today, I’m enjoying a gentler pace.

Friday, November 24, 2006

after the feast

We had a lovely day yesterday enjoying our elaborate feast for just the two of us! I had cubed bread several days before to dry out (can’t eat the store-bought stuff), and Ken got the stuffing put together before I was even up—I must say it was pleasant to rise to the aroma of cooked stuffing. He also put together a beet and onion salad for him, and made a cheese sauce for asparagus (for him). I made a sweet potato dish with coconut milk (yum!) and a salad for me, plus we had corn and the cranberry sauce I had made earlier in the week. The turkey was fabulous (healthy food is delicious as well as good for you!), and we’ve got plenty to nosh on in the coming days.

The weather was lovely, too, sunny and pleasant, and the dogs and I enjoyed an afternoon stroll after getting the kitchen cleaned up. In the evening I made bows and attached them to wreaths that I bought on Wednesday to hang on the windows at the front of the house. Forgive me Mom, they’re fake! More economical over the years and you can’t tell the difference from the street. We had hoped to bring decorations down from the attic but didn’t get to that, so will do that this afternoon, as well as get the wreaths hung. Here’s a picture of two of them ready to go!

It’s so nice to have a place to decorate after the limitations of the cabin the last two years, and though I’ve always enjoyed doing this on my own, what a difference it makes to have someone to share in the preparation and pleasure!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

another look at pilgrims

Earlier this year I spotted a new book out, simply titled Mayflower. I contemplated buying it, but was spared the investment when I had the opportunity instead to listen to it in the car on my trip to St. Louis several weeks ago. I was astounded by the amount of detail recorded in original journals by the likes of William Bradford, et al. What time they rose in the morning on those early days scouting Cape Cod for a settlement site, for instance. But what was most fascinating was the insightful probing into the relationships and the politics of the events that transpired with the native people (not to mention their own!). There were episodes both inspiring and tragic, and for better or worse, the sad reality that humanity doesn’t learn much from history. We seem doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again in different times and different places. It seems that the critical ingredient that doesn’t change, and that leads to so much trouble, is the arrogance of leadership. No surprise there!

In short, our present day Thanksgiving (minus the parades and the ball games) is grounded in a historic truth, though we also give that truth short shrift by focusing only on blessings. That first meal was also the fruit of two differing peoples that found mutual benefit in forging relationship, and establishing bonds of trust, however tenuous under the circumstances. It strikes me that the greatest gift of that first year was more than survival, it was hope. And after learning about what that first year was like, hope was indeed a great gift.

So today I give thanks for what is and has been, and in the spirit of my pilgrim ancestors, celebrate and offer a toast to all that is yet to come. Slainte!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

oddly wonderful

Fall in Tennessee tends to be mild, and by that I mean that temperatures during the day generally range anywhere between the low 50’s into the high 70’s, with cool nights. It feels strange to me, a transplanted Yankee, who still thinks of fall as a season where colder temperatures begin to prevail by the end of October. We’ve had an unusually cold fall this year. In spite of the fact that it reached 80 on November 10, it’s been not only chilly but downright cold more often than not. Frost has prevailed, and it actually feels like winter. In fact, it feels so much like winter that the feel of the air has the effect of transporting me to New England memories. I don’t like being cold, but I don’t mind the cold weather and I love snow. The time/geography/warp that I’m experiencing is actually rather nice, and it certainly helps ease me into the spirit of the coming holidays more readily than 60 degree days would.

For the gift of memories of treasured times and places, and the joy of experiencing those feelings here and now, I give thanks.

Monday, November 20, 2006

a dieter's nirvana

One of the key components to "eating naturally" is the elimination of processed sugar from one's diet. Bypassing cake, ice cream, candy bars and the like are obvious sacrifices, but there is sugar in almost every food out there: soups, breads, ketchup, and so on. First you learn to read labels, then you just know what to avoid. Eating naturally is about eating food in its most natural state, and though organic and health foods are a vast improvement over most processed foods, they aren’t necessarily “natural.”

For the most part I haven't missed sugar—I didn’t have much of a sweet tooth before beginning this new regimen—though every now and then a little something sweet would be a wonderful thing. The other day while shopping for my “healthy” Thanksgiving turkey at Wild Oats I happened upon these little morsels. Most of the time when I check labels on items like this I expect to be disappointed, but this time around, the ingredients fell within the realm of the consumable. Yeeeehaaawwwww! Spice cookies are among my favorite (it’s no shock that the wedding cake was a spice cake), and these are incredibly moist and yummy. Thank you, Uncle Eddie, for creating nirvana for this girl’s taste buds, and for taking a bite out of the sacrifice of eating healthy!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

is this cool, or what?

One of the fun things about planning this wedding was getting to know and work with the various vendors we chose. I especially enjoyed Amy, from the Bake Shoppe, who did our cake. I chose this particular vendor from among the many I encountered at a bridal show in July. There were many beautiful cakes on display at the show, and some very clever concoctions, but Amy's work demonstrated both imagination and artistry. That is what I wanted. This combination was important because I also knew that I wanted a Celtic design on the cake (the theme of the wedding was Celtic), and I suspected that such a design might prove to be a challenge. I was right.

When I first met with the owner of the shop I took with me several books with Celtic designs, and we talked about the complexity of transferring such designs to a cake. They did some research, and I did some research. They tried a sample, and we did more research. Finally I found several quilt border templates that I thought might work, and Amy and I conferred about which of them would work best. The result is what you see here.

I know this picture has already been posted, but it is repeated here for a reason. The cake was prepared the day before the wedding, and that evening photographers from Enchanted Bride magazine were at The Bake Shoppe doing an interview, and our cake caught their eye. They photographed it, and it may appear in their magazine! Unfortunately it wasn’t fully decorated at the time (flowers were added the next day), but the fact that they liked it enough to photograph even without the flowers speaks to its artistry. To me, the end result was perfect. Thanks, Amy—I hope they publish your cake! (and PS--thanks, Pam, for the photo!)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

day three of pictures!

I can’t promise these will be the last of the wedding photos for a while, but I’m sure they all start to look alike after a while! These include the scrapbooking crew, all of whom got to know each other through an online message board, the cake (it may be hard to see, but the effort around this cake had to do with the Celtic pattern on it—the inside was spice cake, and it was delish, to quote RR!), and probably the best detail shot that exists of part of my dress! Yesterday was a very full day of church, some gift exchanges, a little bit of Christmas shopping, returning the hurricanes from the reception to the people who loaned them to us, and a hospital visit. Last night we watched the Dancing with the Stars finale (yay, Emmit!!), and then the premiere of Day Break, which I thought was fascinating. A different twist, in a way, on the 24 idea.

Today I am trying to get back into the swing of things. Thank you notes are a must! Laundry is caught up, and the house is in reasonable shape after the chaos of the weekend. I’m aware of a little post-event letdown, so I am being nice to myself. It really was a great weekend, and I’m envisioning a scrapbook page following the “Master Card” motif: wedding dress, $???; centerpieces, $??? A perfect wedding, priceless. You get the idea. I welcome suggestions about what items to include in that list!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

more wedding pics!

Here are a few more pictures from the blessed event. Except for the cake shote, these were all taken before the ceremony. Top to bottom are:
-My nephew, Jesse
- Katie
- getting ready to cut the cake
- a pose at the altar between photos

Monday, November 13, 2006

first images of the blessed event!

I don’t know how to begin to write about our wedding weekend. It was a wonderful time, and for the most part things went well. Two things stand out in my mind at the moment—in spite of very chilly weather on the day itself, there was a warmth that surrounded us from the love of those who were there to celebrate with us, and the spaces where we celebrated (including the rehearsal dinner the night before) seemed themselves to glow. The image of warmth lingers still, and that sensation continues to keep my spirits high even as family and guests have headed back home and we begin to turn our attention to the next set of “to do’s” in our own life.

I have no pictures of my own to share, and at this point only have a few that Jules has forwarded on to me so that I could have something to post here. I am hoping that others who attended will send along their pictures. It feels very strange, as a photographer, not to have been in a position to be behind the camera and snap away. Our professional photographer used film, so for digital images to share I must rely on others.

These pictures are from our first dance, when we were attempting to waltz. I say “attempt” because my dress was so long at the back (even bustled) that I kept stepping on it, and as any dancer knows, that can tend to mess you up a bit. At least there are pictures!

Back at the ranch we have opened the gifts that were brought to the reception, and now the work of thank you notes begins, not to mention finding places to put things away! At the moment the dining table is close to overflowing, but frankly, that's a problem we can live with.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

a week in the life, condensed version

It’s been a hectic week since I was last here! The trip to St. Louis was quick, but wonderful, and the drive was spectacular. Although the colors were past peak, the yellows were especially rich and golden, and it was glorious to pass through such beautiful scenery. We packed a lot into the visit, including carving pumpkins, a swim in the morning, a trip to Whole Foods, and more! The girls were delightful, though Katie had a few “terrible two” moments that seemed to pass as quickly as they came. But she looks adorable in her dress, which is now hemmed and finished, and we are all looking forward to her part in “the parade” on Saturday.

There have been lots of errands, the day at the church that included the last of our five-part class, work on table assignments, picking up my dress, and so on. The next few days are equally busy as we take care of those final preparations for the weekend, including cleaning the house in time for Mom’s arrival on Wednesday. I’ll try to snag an idle moment here or there to report in on the blog, but won’t promise! Some days there is so much to say that there is nothing to say, ya know?

Blessings on your day!
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