a tale of three parties: engagement lunch

Love comes a rush and a whir of unexpectedness. For years (decades), I've known a bunch of smart, lovely, classy, quality women who remained inexplicably unmarried. Now, all of a sudden - woosh! Wedding bells are chiming all over the place!

Two dear women recently said "Yes!" And MM and I got to celebrate one of the happy couples last Sunday.

We set a black and white and silver table with my Mom's china and gardenias from the bush outside. MM made fabulous stuffed bell peppers and we had baked pears with cinnamon and honey for dessert. Peach bellini's for a bubbly toast as we listened to their Love Story and early plans for their Big Day.

The Bride and I have been friends for over half our lives. She is a soul sister. One of my tribe. My adopted family.

We've shared high school football games and movie nights and sleepovers and Rainbow Girls and summerstock and summer jobs out at the lake. We've done camping trips and road trips and youth work and worship team and been roommates several times. We've had Woohoo Weekends and Miller Family Fun Days and FunGirl Christmases. We've had Boys Night Outs where we played poker and pool and lost "penis points" for saying excuse me after we burped. We've cried like babies at Hallmark commercials, Stupid Movie Days, and the occasional Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

For over 20 years we have stood in front of bathroom mirrors singing along with the radio as we curl our hair and put on makeup and fancy clothes. And in July we'll do so again on her wedding day. She will be so beautiful!

Can't wait to celebrate my Okole Po'o's next adventure.

Congratulations, G!


a tale of three parties: MM's birthday

On MM's birthday last year I'd invited his buddies to come to Lebowski Bowl at a local alley. We bowled a few frames and drank white russians and hung out. Some people even came dressed as The Dude. Good times. And simple to put together. MM's sister hosted a family celebration a few days later.

This year was trickier. We hosted the family party, and in an effort to conserve Saturdays (which get booked so fast!) and make less driving for folks, we had both parties at our house on the same day. So, at 4:30 the family crammed into the Little House in Fake New Jersey to eat and sing and celebrate, and then his buddies came at 9 to drink a toast and hang out. (And these came AFTER we attended two events earlier in the day.)

It turned out fine, but I did learn a few lessons:

1) Don't hold two parties on the same day unless you have the Buddy Party out somewhere.

2) We are officially too old to go anywhere on a Saturday night, unless we're specifically going to see a band or go dancing, so more than likely, the Buddy Party will be on, like, a Tuesday or something. And that's ok. Screw bedtimes! Its a birthday!

3) MM is an amazing, generous, loving man who will vacuum and help set up for his own birthday party. God bless him!

I didn't get photos of much that day, but I made another banner.

And cute little flags...

... to go in the cupcakes.

Black table cloths tied with blue ribbon, a square of white napkin in the center, a blue bowl overturned to make a pedistal for a black plate filled with flagged cupcakes. Simple and festive. And tasty!

We ate lasagna and two kinds of salads and gobs of cupcakes. I'd made a pasta-free lasagna with zuchini instead of noodles but all the meat and cheese I could cram into an 8 x 12 pan. And since MM and I are not having sugar right now, one batch of cupcakes was actually no-sugar banana bread dipped in dark chocolate. Woah nelly!

The family has started composing alternate birthday songs for each occasion, and MM got two. I don't know if we sound good, but we sure are loud!

After the family took off, the guys came over to raise a glass and hang out a bit. Our Viking friend Dapper Dan came dressed to the nines, lookin' way too sharp for an evening in our living room. We spent a few hours chatting and sipping and planning some future fun. In contrast to Lebowski Bowl, this party was so mellow that one guy fell asleep on the floor. (In my defense, he's remodeling his house and had spent days sanding hardwood floors, so its not that our parties are boring, so much as he's just exhausted.)

So thankful for these men who bless my guy with friendship.

A day of good food, good people, good whiskey, and best of all, a happy husband.

Oh, isn't he just delicious!


a tale of three parties: st patty's day

I don't go out much on St Pat's. I love to hear a good band in a cozy pub with a good beer or sip of Irish as much as the next lass, but St Patty's day is a little too much in my town. Just a lot of loud, drunk people crammed into small spaces spilling green beer on each other. But an Irish girl must do something to honor the good saint, so, I put on some Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly and have friends come to dinner.

For most of my life we had corned beef and cabbage with carrots, 'nips, and tatties. Mom made baking powder biscuits instead of soda bread, so I've always done that too. The last few years, though, I've made a delicious Guinness Stew. (Last year I bit my tongue really hard two days before St Patrick's, and couldn't eat any of my stew! :( So sad!)

This year, St Pats was on a Thursday, so we had the usual Thursday Crew over. Its just a bunch of dudes, but I decorated anyway.

I made banners from a bunch of green paper and string.

I took a soup tureen from my MIL and turned it into a pot of gold. I stuffed it with a brown paper bag and layered the top with candies wrapped in gold papers.

And here is the stew. Lordhamercy, but it was goo-ood!

The Thursday Crew ate and drank beers and whiskey and talked well past our bedtime. Good times. I'm hoping next year, that we can start a bit earlier and more folks can join us. We went to another St Pat's party on Saturday that served corned beef paninis! Awesome!



An angry wind wrestles oak trees in the park and throws our neighbor's palms down the street. It bends and whips the pines and maples around our little house. Branches swirl and sway and scratch at the dark sky. The rain itself is calm and steady. The cold seeps through gaps in this old house's doors and single paned windows. I doubt the heater will get much of a break today.

I've hauled my books and journals and computers out to the red couch where I can watch the wild weather from under a quilt. I'll keep the candles lit all day and sip many cups of peppermint tea. Today is a day for gentleness.

Today I will ignore the voice inside me telling me I need to wash dishes and make the beds and vacuum and dust and clean the toilet. Today I will rest. Today I will read books and stare out the window or at the vibrant bouquet of purple and yellow flowers on the coffee table. I will smell the bread bake and the soup simmer. I will listen to the wind howl and the rain fall and the heater blow.

My heart has work to do, so today is a day to be gentle to myself.

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Sorry for the lack of posts last week. It was a busy one. I am taking a bit of a break, but I've set a bunch of posts to auto-post, so you'll get fresh content for a while.


friday fave five - pretty things

Oh, happy Friday. Here are my fave five just from today:

1 I can officially drop down my chiropractor visits to every three weeks! I will do the same for massage, and will now add in the physical therapy on the third week. Yay! I am healing!

2 Coffee with Jovie and deep conversation this morning. It was so good to sit on a beat up leather couch, surrounded by college students, sip frothy espresso drinks and talk about the stuff that matters. So good to hear her heart.

3 The sun shining on my neighbors yards bursting with oxalis, peach blossoms, camellias, and other flowers. It cheered my heart to stand at the corner and look down the length of my street awash in spring color and new life.

4 These pretty things that I've made the last few days. (Click the photo to view it in Ginormo. Also, forgive the quality of the picture. The colors are much more vibrant in real life.) My favorites are the red/orange bracelet and the pink necklace on the left. I made both from bits and bobs harvested in the Jewelry Box Purge of 2011.

The bracelet contains parts of a necklace from a dear friend, a bracelet from a festival with my mom (we got matching cheap plastic bracelets), and the "carrots" from a set of snowmen ornaments I made years ago. The necklace contains parts of the same festival bracelet, one of my "happy summer bracelets" from several years ago (Every year, I load my arm with a bunch of colorful bracelets and wear them all summer. Its weird, but I've done it since I was a kid.), and the heart from a necklace my cousin gave me.

5 MM and I get to spend four whole days together, starting with dinner at Buddy and Jovie's tonight. Authentic Filipino food, incredible home-brewed beer, and laughter with friends to kick off a weekend with my Sweetie. I am lucky and blessed beyond all good sense.

Happy Friday, y'all.


the real housewife of fake new jersey

It's been a full week at the little house in Fake New Jersey. Here's a random sampling:

1 We are plugging along at the daily stuff of the Right Now, and looking forward into The Future. The Right Now is hard work. Laborious. Requires perseverance. We are in training - physically, financially, spiritually, emotionally... Lots of new habits and routines, areas to stretch and grow. And, right now, its a bit like a three-legged race at the church picnic as we figure out how to work together. We get tired and winded and occasionally sore. But - we also get stronger. Every day. This is good. And in the Three-legged Race of Life, there is no one else I'd rather be tied to than MM!

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow." ~ Mary Anne Radmacher

2 We found one little oxalis blossom in our yard. Apparently the gardening service that comes with our rental does not share our fondness for the pretty yellow "weed". MM is fond of quoting, "A weed is just a plant that can thrive without human intervention." If we get to own our next home, we want a big patch of them tumbling out into the sidewalk. I look forward to these every year, and thankfully most of our neighbors do their own yardwork.

3 I know this, because on Tuesday my friend and I accidentally walked for two hours around the park and our neighborhood. A gorgeous day and good conversation'll do that. I did not stretch out enough afterward and am enjoying super tight hamstrings for the rest of this week. Yay. We really enjoyed all the old houses and cool yards. We turned a corner to one side street to find plastic lawn flamingos in all the yards. Totally fun. One had about 40, and a sign telling the world that they'd been flamingoed.

4 We had whole-wheat, apple pancakes for Shrove Tuesday. Yum! MM is not a fan of "fruit in things that should be eaten with maple syrup." He is a doubter. Well, despite screwing up the recipe (2 teaspoons of salt instead of 1/2 teaspoons. Um, yeah.) I won him over with their deliciousness. Two tricks: 1) Instead of using regular vegetable oil or shortening, I used coconut oil. 2) I cook them in real butter. No pam. No margerine. Butter. (I wish I had the Julie & Julia clip of Julia eating her first meal in France and gasping, "Butter." Its like that.)

5 And now it is Lent. MM and I are already off sugar and on a tight budget as part of the aforementioned training, but now we've added a few other "fasts" for the season. He is abstaining from coffee and alcohol, except for four specific events. And I am abstaining from the Internet, except for radio, Netflix, a couple blogs (including this one), and Twitter. I tell you what, it was very weird to not be on Facebook yesterday. Church-wise, we are sporting purple leather bracelets (made by MM!) to connect with the Church at large, and going through this prayer guide with our local crew. Looking forward to this season of quiet re-focusing.

6 I am extra motivated to get through my chores and administrative work today. Last weekend we went through my jewelry box and pulled the stuff that I don't want/need/wear/like, etc. Some pieces I will donate, but others I'm chopping up to harvest beads, fasteners, and doodads. I've not done much jewelry making, but having all these raw materials inspires me to play around a bit. (Oh, I also just went ahead and tossed the old sweatshirts and tshirts for the quilt I never made. My craft shelf and my soul both feel a lot lighter. And I'm renewed in my desire to use up all that old yarn to clear out even more space.) So, If I get all my stuff done, I have an afternoon of Downton Abbey and creativity to look forward to. And without Facebook and 7 million blogs to pull me down Internet rabbit trails, I should do just fine.

7 And finally, Big Mama rocked this pretty hard. Christians sure can be buttheads. Bless their hearts.


friday fave five with a side dish of balrogs

Another week of ups and downs. Part wrestling Balrogs and warthogs and slogging through thick bogs. And part sunshine and blossoms and homemade soup. Take it from me, it is much easier to wrestle balrogs when you have a beautiful bowl of camellia blossoms on the dining room table, and delicious soup simmering on the stove, and creative projects to concentrate on.

Yesterday, though the pile of dishes rose two feet above the counter on all sides of the sink, I didn't do a lick of housework. Instead, I designed a flier for an upcoming event that MM is hosting. It felt good to do that kind of work again. I love designing and creating. I just hate all the incompetent project management, insane work hours, and unreasonable deadlines that often goes along with those sorts of jobs.

The flier was fun. And I've got a few more projects in the pipe, which will stand in for this week's fave five:

1 My hubbie's website redesign. (If he will ever get me the copy. Ahem.) Its based on some business cards I designed for his birthday last year, and I've been having fun with CSS. Its very sparse and simple, which I love. The plan is to eventually adapt the blog that goes with it to have the same look and feel. He's a talented guy, and it will be cool for him to have a space on the web to display his work again.

2 A redesign of our site and blog. We had such a fast engagement that we didn't get to really do much to the site we created for our wedding. Now that we're married, we want to have a place for family and friends to come get news, see photos, etc. We have some fun ideas for creative stuff to do together, and this will be a spot to talk about that. MM loves comics, and for our wedding I created little cartoon depictions of us. I think it would be fun to use those as a basis for the design of our site.

3 And a book production project that I'm really looking forward to. MM is doing the writing and content, and I get to design the template. Fonts, fonts, fonts! We are limited to using Microsoft products for the layout, but who cares - FONTS! :D Plus, we're going to create a hardcover with a full-color dustjacket, which will be a whole design project in itself. MM has some beautiful artwork to start with. Exciting!

4 Crochet, crochet, crochet! I am trying to plow through the gobs of old yarn I've got, so that I can start over with more strategic yarn. Its slow going, because I typically only crochet when I'm watching TV/movies, and MM and I are so busy, we don't get to do that much. We've got over 400 movies in our Netflix queue and the first two seasons of LOST languishing on our entertainment shelf. Anyway. Its fun to see all the scarves and such coming out. I should start making the little Grandma Slippers my mom makes. Those go faster, I think...

5 Sewing, maybe. I have a bunch of half-finished projects taking up space in my craft area, and I'm just not inspired. The tshirt and sweatshirt quilts seamed fun at the time (I think I started it almost 20 years ago!) But now it just seem kind of depressing. I may toss/gift/upcycle them somehow. Anybody want a bunch of fabric squares? Blegh.

Then there's this:

I love this. Its kind of hideous and awesome at the same time. My mom had it all the time I was growing up, so I have all sorts of sentimental attachment to its ugly cuteness. Its gloriously 70s with its orange, lime, avacado, and brown. But I don't know what to do with it. I can't wear it. Oy! I don't want to make MM look at it all the time, so no pillow covers or napkins. Anyway. I want to do something fun with my ugly fabric.

So - on this Friday, I'm thankful that after a two year drought my creativity is returning. Burnout sucks, people. It really, really does. I am so thankful to be on the mend. Balrogs and all.



Amidst the piles of dishes and laundry and unfinished chores and rainy skies, I focus on beauty...

a candle before the mirror, casts warmth and light... a pint glass of droopy roses spread sunshine on the kitchen table... another pint of daisies and mums cheer the coffee table... camellias float in a bowl...

the blossom-filled air outside my back door smells heavenly, the very breath of Aslan... soon the house will smell of fresh-baked bread... and soup...

classical music accompanies the wind and rain...

the laundry warms my arms as I carry it to the bed to fold... the sudsy water warms my hands as I wash dishes...


tuesdaybook - a sunshiney day

Seeing ~ Pale sunlight slanting through blossomed branches in the side yard. The neighbors have some vine covered in purple flowers. It's climbed over the fence and up into a nondescript deciduous tree, filling its branches with purple puffballs. Next to this is a white-blossomed fruit tree. A lovely spring view.

Hearing ~ Birds twittering among the blossoms... zippers clanging in the dryer... a neighbor's leaf blower... the humm of my laptop...

Wearing ~ My favorite, torn up baseball cap, a blue argyle sweater over a grey longsleeved tshirt, jeans, blue stripey kneehighs, running shoes.

Tasting ~ Steel cut oats with coconut oil, honey, and cinamon. Herbal tea. To increase my metabolism, I've split breakfast into two parts. Second Breakfast comes a couple hours after Regular Breakfast.

Planning ~ MM's birthday celebrations, Lent/Passion Week/Eastery activities, St Patrick's Day, St George's Day... Lots going on this spring!

Working ~ Errands and chores are next. Followed by a Phat Nap! No design/development work today.

Creating ~ Sewing the last of the Year Old Pillowcases. And tearing through my yarn stash to use up my old stuff on scarves. This is a good movie watching activity. Almost finished the grey scarf during viewings of Julie & Julia and The Last Samurai. I've also got a giant pile of old tshirts and sweat shirts that I'd intended on turning into a quilt, but am thinking I may pass on that. We'll see.

Learning ~ I don't have anything particular that I'm learning today, but I'm sure I'll encounter something new and interesting...

Reading ~ OK. I finally got the stinkin Hobbits out of Bree and across the river. They finished the Council of Elrond and are just sort of larking about til Elrond decides who should go with Frodo. Then it will be the long slog through Mordor.

Pondering ~ "A pail with a pinhole loses as much as the pail pushed right over. A whole life can be lost in minutes wasted, small moments missed." ~Ann Voskamp Lent (starting next week) always inspires me to examine my life for pinholes. Am thinking about her words a lot as I prepare.

Remembering ~ The Alamo. No. Not really. I did get to see the Alamo once. Its so tiny. No, actually, I am remembering last nights delicious dinner: Porkchops roasted in the oven with Vanilla Stout, sauteed brussel sprouts and shallots in honey mustard sauce, MM's doctored up whole wheat mac and cheese, salad with homemade yogurt dressing. Sweet Mercy, that was a gooooood dinner.

Thankful for ~ Sunshine... herbal tea... my pink mittens... a husband who happily watches romantic comedies with me and finds so many other ways to care about and for me... My Lunaversary roses opening up in the warmth of the living room... leftovers for lunch...