Catch up: married…twice

Today is the first official day of winter break. Ha-noodle! I will return to work on January 5th (Ok – I will probably go to school on Monday to work and copy but being at school without children is 99.9% less difficult).

Let’s back track to June – ehhh – half a year ago and play catch up.

I got married!

The first wedding in CT was for my family, and our NY-based friends. By first wedding, I mean we had two weddings.  Most people who do this are couples who have a destination wedding, or maybe their families live in different countries.  Nate and I are from MA and NY.  Two northeastern states that abut each other.  But we still had two weddings.  Let me give the short story.

When we started our wedding planning in August, 2013, we realized that our guest list was going to be really big because of families and cousins and parent’s friends.  Nate and I are not particularly popular, but all of our cousins are married and they all have children, so before we started inviting (our very few) friends, we already had well over 125 people.  We then retracted from our original plan and wanted to have a really small wedding with just immediate family.  Not everyone in our families was on board with this so then Nate came up with the idea of a road show wedding.  We’ll do two (originally it was going to be three!).  We desperately wanted to avoid a big wedding.  While it’s great to have everyone in one place, it’s insanely hard to spend quality time with your guests.  It always stinks when you travel to see a long-lost friend get married and then only speak to them for 74 seconds the whole weekend.  So, our primary reason was to break up one big event into smaller ones so we could generally just spend more quality time with the people were making an effort to be with us.

It often felt (and still feels) awkward to explain to people why we were having two wedding, particularly because it felt as if we were coming across as attention hogs which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Back to getting married.  Mom did most of the planning for our first wedding in July and it was beautiful, fancy and fun.  Here are some favorite photos from the event.

My college friend/old friend/close friend officiated, we got to stand up front with our siblings, and we composed simple vows to each other with a ring exchange (which I botched) ((hence the photo to the right)).  I had written the vows for both of us, practiced it dozens of times, have said it perfectly since 100 times, but couldn’t remember the lines when I was up there.   Of course.

We left the two inner most-front most chairs empty for my dad and Nate’s mom.  This felt special and right.  At the very start of the ceremony, Nate and I put bouquets on the empty chairs.

Married!  (my friend couldn’t technically marry us in CT, and our venue was just over the border from my mom’s home in NY.  She met us at my mom’s that morning and we technically got married before the big show).  Here’s the real deal earlier in the day:

The venue was so lovely.  My mom found it – not exactly sure how – but it ended up being perfect.  We ate and had cocktails outside in the garden and dessert and dancing were inside.  At night – when lit up with the tent – the garden was, shall I use a word I never-ever-ever use, stunning.

My childhood friend’s family’s restaurant catered the ordeal.  We had vegetarian food which I know bothered some people because some folks need meat to feel like they’ve been fed – but that choice was super important to me.  I also put out a disclaimer on our wedding website.  The food was tasty, and awesome.  I hope a few people realize that vegetarian food can be tasty and filling.

Two things happened that night which I normally hate, but loved here.  First off – group dances and congo lines generally put me off.  BUT – we had an all group congo line and for some reason it was so fun and hysterical.  I love this shot because it has my immediate family within it.  My brother (white shirt – front and center) has got the smooth moves.  And my mom isn’t wearing shoes.

Also – I hate selfies.  So hate selfies.  Nate and I say that selfie is short for selfish.  Which it is and no one can change my mind on that.  But – my sister took a groupie and I love this shot of her effort.

The weekend was really wonderful.  We had a 4th of July BBQ (vegetarian!) at my mom’s the day before.  The weather was really awful, as most people in the northeast know, and so we were confined indoors.  However, it was still nice to catch up with people casually.  This was something else we did to have more time to talk with guests – both weddings had rehearsal day BBQs and everyone was invited.

The day after the wedding my cousins stayed at my mom’s and we had a lazy day by the lake.  It was a great way to end the weekend.

|:| In between we did our honeymoon in Maine. We went from Portland to Yarmouth to Bar Harbor with our bikes on our car. In Portland we took a day trip to Peak’s Island (ehhh – ok, but we got bored), another trip to Sabboth Day Lake and the Shaker Village (yeah!). The lake was so lovely – I know we’ll be back.


Can you spot the kid diving off the platform.

On the way up to Bar Harbor we did a quick hike in Camden.  The hike that everyone does and you can drive up it too, so the top is quite crowded.  I’m not sure why so many people drive because the hike is very quick – maybe 20 minutes.  I am pretty sure I did this hike as a kid at camp and it felt a whole lot harder way back when.


In the days leading up to Bar Harbor we used AirBnB to save money for the actual B&B that we stayed in near Acadia (which was expensive!!).  AirBnB was awesome – and we’ll definitely be going that route in the future.

Acadia was lovely – though neither of us were too keen on Bar Harbor.  So insanely crowded and the shops and restaurants weren’t particularly useful to us (tourist wares don’t catch our fancy, and I don’t eat seafood).  But we loved Acadia and Maine in general and want to make it a yearly excursion.  While in Acadia we biked, hiked, sea kayaked and rock climbed.


All of the activities were fun and we had beautiful weather.  The park has beautiful carriage paths and we rented mountain bikes (we were nervous to take road bikes on the dirt and gravel).  We were able to bike to our hike and then do a loop around Mt. Penabscot and then bike back home again.  It was a fulfilling and activity-filled day.

Nate hiking (above) and me resting (below).

|:| When we returned home after a week away we had two weeks before the next event.  This is when I seriously doubted our plan because there was a ton of work to do. This was more of DIY-ish wedding, but we did have a wedding planner because I was feeling very overwhelmed.  The wedding planner was enormously helpful (highly, highly, highly recommend getting one if you can!), but preparing was still stressful.

At some point (too close) to the wedding date, I decided to sew all of the napkins for the event using old linens.  That took a.long.time.


At the recommendation of our caterer (who specializes in local food), we opted to go with compostable dinnerware, which ended up being great…and we have a bunch left over.  I plan on using them – but I need to find a composting facility to take them when we’re done.  Boston doesn’t have municipal composting…yet…and the compostable plastic won’t break down in my home bins.

We also drank out of mason jars…which is very in right now, but I do a lot of canning so it felt authentic.  The bonus was that I took the leftover jars home and used them when I decided to can 100lbs of tomatoes this summer.

The venue was also lovely, though the guy who owns it was insanely difficult to work with.  All in all – it worked out ok – but I’m not sure the venue was worth the stress and worry that came with it.

This wedding started with Nate’s extended family meeting at his dad’s house for a ceremony.  For this one, Nate’s friend  MCed.  Nate and I wrote extended pieces to each other, which felt more appropriate with just an intimate group listening.  Afterwards we took a few pictures and then headed to the venue in Sturbridge, MA.

One of the great things about two wedding is that anything you missed on the first try, you can get the second time around.  For example, my mom was getting dressed at the same time as me during the first wedding so at the second wedding she was able to help me with my dress.  Also, during the first wedding there were no photos of Nate getting ready, so we got those this time too.

Reusing all of your clothes for both weddings helped keep costs down.  Err.  Sorta.

All guests had a front row seat.

The venue was a farm/disc golf/brewery/pavilion.  So, we set up field games and there were farm animals to visit.  This helped the event feel casual and fun.  We also hired an 80s cover band for music and that was famazing.  We started the night with this and ended with this.  Thank you to my husband for his thoughtful playlist recommendations.

Guests were encouraged to take their glasses and napkins home with them to reuse – about 50% of everything went home…and hopefully they’re all being reused still.

High school friend signs the guest book.

Nate’s father’s coworker made this corn hole game and let us borrow it for the big day.

The llama stayed in this pose for over 20 minutes in the doorway to the barn.

Other DIYing included making 2/3 of the desserts…which was a pain in the butt to do in the days leading up to the wedding, but it helped spruce up the dessert table (the cupcakes are from Cafe Indigo).

The lead singer of the band.  They were so super.  During dancing in the dark the recreated the Courtney Cox/Bruce Springsteen exchange.

The evening was great.

So – I’m not sure if Nate and I have reached a consensus about whether we’d do our weddings the same way if we had a do-over.  I say yes – both had elements that were really special that we couldn’t have done in quite the same way if we had just one.  The ceremonies at each felt appropriate for the crowd, and I loved having a simple tribute to our parents in CT, and then telling Nate someone heartfelt in MA.  Also, having a more ‘traditional’ event with something more casual felt nice too.

Overall it still feels a little weird to share that we had two weddings, I still am uncertain whether people think it’s selfish/over-the-top.  But, Nate and I know that our intentions were so different that what may have come across, and I hope all of our guests know the same too.  If I were to give advice to someone doing the same, I’d recommend really communicating about why you’re doing what you’re doing, and how important both events are.  We had a HUGE no show rate at our second wedding (nearly 40%)!  I think a lot of people figured that because it was the second wedding it wasn’t very important. But – both weddings were equally important to both of us.

Beyond the weddings – married life has been fabulous.  Nate and I have come a long way from our initial dating days.

Nate’s college graduation (05/04)- we’ve hijacked the EMT cart.  Our strong connecting is evidenced by the matching bandana bracelet (on my right wrist) and necklace (on Nate) that I made us.

Married and celebrated on both 7.5.14 and 8.2.14.  Here’s to many more years of celebrating.


Spring sprang

Spring has always been my favorite season because nothing compares to smelling the first day of potential.  Potential for warm, potential for plant growth and thawing soil.  I love seeing flowers and leaves.  I love biking without a face mask.  I love light until 8:28 (I’m outside on the porch right now and there’s still some light).

About six weeks ago my whole family traveled to Punta Gorda, Florida for my cousin’s wedding.  It’s the first time my immediate family has all been together in Florida – I think – since 1999 or so. Once old enough, my sister stopped coming, and since my dad died we rarely went down in more than groups of 2.  It was nice to have everyone together.  The town has boardwalk bikes that you can borrow (for free!) and Nate and I biked around town a bit, which was lovely.  We stopped at the wildlife sanctuary, I took him to Fisherman’s Village for lunch, and showed him a few odds and ends from my childhood visits to this strange, little town.  The day after our flight I got a sore throat which quickly turned into a cough which lasted for SIX WEEKS.  Two trips to urgent care and one ER visit later, it finally went away on it’s own.  Yuck.  Being sick in the spring should be against the rules.

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Nate and I at the hotel and Ali and Mark bike Hawks Nest Court.

Soon after returning, little bro graduated!  Mom, Sal and I ventured to central New York to see Austin flip his tassel (no walking at this graduation).  I also finally ate at Moosewood.  It’s always fun to go to a vegetarian/vegan restaurant and have a lot of freedom when choosing your meal.  The food was tasty, though it was definitely touristy.  You walk into the gift shop and there are t-shirts and books galore.  I’ve passed on my Moosewood cookbooks because I find the ingredients list too long, and the time commitment too high.  But I’m happy to enjoy a recipe when someone else has made it.


Mom and I with the graduate. Hard to believe that she used to bribe this kid with starbursts to do his reading…
















We stayed at Cornell’s hotel which had a pretty lovely view.  I took a lot of pictures from my window.

Things have been lively at home.  I’ve been spending a lot of time outside which has been superb.  I’m at a point (what I hope is not a phase) where I gladly come home from work, put on grubby clothes and spend 1-2 hours doing yard work.


I installed the trellis for my climbing vegetables.  Painting it was a bit of a bear, but now it’s up and my peas are happy.


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Abe continues to be very photogenic.  He’s approaching six and still acts exactly the same.  Nate describes our relationship as two steps forward, one step back.


I haven’t been doing much sewing this spring, but I have been knitting.  After working on it since winter break, I finally finished the rag rug for the bathroom.  It’s 5 ft long and weighs about 7 lbs!  I’ve also been knitting a lot of wash and dish clothes.  I’ve made a bunch of wash clothes out of organic cotton yarn that was gifted to me for my 23rd birthday…8 years ago.  I’ve been making dishcloths out of Nate’s old t-shirts.


Wedding – it’s now just 20 days until Nate and I get married.  It feels like there are a million things to do and I don’t even know them all.  I have been having anxiety dreams and losing sleep.  But I’m hoping that everything goes smoothly in the end.  IMG_3964

Mom organized a shower for Nate and me.  A cooking class at Sur La Table followed by dinner at her house.  These are her herbs.  Everything at my mom’s is magazine worthy.


Ali and Mom make linguini.  We had about 16 people at the cooking class and a few more joined us for dinner.  I was still under the weather from my epic cough…


My ring arrived and I adore it.  I’m worried that it’s too big…but I hear that fingers swell in the heat so I’m thinking that maybe I should leave it.  I’m just paranoid that it will fall off.


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I practiced wearing the ring while I was at Austin’s graduation and it was fun. Though it already got scratched (which has since been polished off since I got it resized).



Nate and I were generously gifted a vitamin which is AMAZING.  I’ve been using it 1-2 times a day since.  Here is my first batch of almond milk which I thought would be famazing but I’m not too fond of the taste, and it’s wicked expensive to make.  Cheaper to buy organic almond milk at the store.  But I’ve been making smoothies like crazy, today I grated parmesan and I’m planning on trying hummus soon with sesame seeds instead of tahini.  Yikes stripes.

I’ve now got two full days of school, two half days, and then a morning of meetings before summer vacation.  While I’m not declaring any I can’t waits…for vacation…let’s just say that I’m very excited for my six weeks of summer.  Two weddings – a honeymoon – lots of things are coming up.

birthing a garden

The past few weekend have been consumed by building a garden.  It started with picking up tons of wood, barely fitting it in the car, and constructing in the garage earlier this month on a rainy day.


I have two that are 3.5’x8′ and another that’s 2’x8′ (and elevated).  I also have four 45 gallon grow pots.  Next step was to order soil.  There’s a compost company in my neighborhood that composts on site, and I purchased 4 cubic yards of a compost/loam mix.  That was finally delivered last Friday and I spent the weekend shoveling it all in.


One portion of the front yard garden – climbing vegetables will grow in the bed (peas, beans, and cucumbers), and you can see the potatoes I planted in the pots.  I will put some flowers in front to make it a little more typical front yardish (not important to me, but things to think about when you’re in a condo).


Here are the front beds alongside the driveway.  They’re massive.  One side will be hard to get to, and I’m thinking of cutting a 2×4 or 2×6 and laying it across the top as bridge so I can stand on it to reach the back.   While shoveling dirt in over the weekend I had 4-5 neighbors stop and chat, further proving the community building aspect of gardening (or just being in your front yard doing something interesting makes people stop and chat).  I’ve planted kale, carrots, peas, spinach and nasturtiums so far.


Not a very good photo – but these are the grow pots in the yard.  The landscape fabric will be covered with mulch in the near future and lined with Belgium blocks.  All of the beds and pots have landscape fabric underneath to protect my food from the lead soil.

Lastly, Abe was enamored with the huge pile of dirt.  He happily spent hours digging, rolling and lying around in it.  Even though his digging made more work, it was hysterical to watch him (because of the softness of the dirt he would dig in slow motion).


I also got another composter – one is for yard waste and the other is for food waste from the kitchen that is safe to put in the beds.


|:| I’ve been getting back into sewing and making things recently.  I visited my friend in Buffalo for February break, and her mom knits wash clothes.  She gave me the pattern and I’ve since made three (two to give away and one for us to keep).  I’m seeing if I can use yarn made out of t-shirts, though they really hold onto the water so I’m not sure if it’s the best choice.  I also made a bunch of pillow cases recently, for the guest bed and for our new couch – both patterns from this helpful sewing blog.




Oh, and we also got a new couch and chair!  Something we’ve been wanting and I have been casually searching craigslist for a used leather couch.  This one is in good shape, and comfy and much nicer than our old salvation army couch (though it did it’s job well for four years).  The matching armchair was a bonus – we weren’t specifically looking for one.  Moving it into the apartment was another story…I wasn’t near strong enough to carry it and we had to hire someone to come and spend 10 minutes bringing it upstairs.  But, so be it, it’s here and I’m thankful.



I also made a set of eight placemats for our dining room table since we don’t have a tablecloth.  They’re reversible (all placemats should be – two for one!).  I’m going to make a similar set for my cousin’s wedding next week.

|:| Work has been an adjustments. Four months of lead teaching are now over, and I’ve gone back to my assisting job which has been difficult.  I like have a consistent schedule, and I’m essentially a sub right now.  My responsibilities are also not as engaging as they were when I was lead teaching.  While I was in charge, I set up a system for one of my friends to earn ‘portfolio time’ – for every star he gets on his behavior chart he gets a minute to work on his portfolio.  Here he is during one of his earned breaks.  I loved this because he took the snack fruit and set up a still life.


Nate came for a visit to school to talk to the kids about living in India (we had a read a book about the monsoons in India earlier in the week).  They prepped questions – here’s one from Sincere:


Finally, the icing on the cake was getting this note from Jefferson, the morning before my last day he slipped me this note, requesting that I not open until my last day (there was no way I could wait – I read it soon after).


We all love Ms. X (their usual teacher), you know that, but we all love you too and this is a goodbye letter, and we’ll all love you in our hey! (I’m not sure what he meant there).  Good luck on your wedding I have high hopes you’re going to have a wonderful family Kellin!  So I give you this letter to appreciate the class’ love for you.  – Jefferson

|:| Coming up in the immediate future is a long weekend in Florida next week for my cousin’s wedding, our wedding(s) in July and August, and a honeymoon in mid-July to Maine and we (finally!) booked our room reservations in Portland and Bar Harbor last night.  Hooray!



Holley has had some good photo ops lately.



Spring soon

Recently I was rereading old entries and thought about how nice it was to look back over the past couple of years.  Then I remember that I’ve posted twice in about 6-7 months.  Whoops.

The holiday came and went…as they do every year.  This was the first Christmas in Nate’s dad’s new house.  We reversed our schedule and went to Nate’s family’s house on Xmas eve and then to my house on Christmas Day.  I was sad to miss the annual New Years Eve dinner with Nanny, but we saw her on the 25th and that was even better (mom’s homemade lasagna as opposed to mediocre restaurant food that we get each year).Image

Newly minted tradition of the annual family photo – Nate’s family.


And mine.  Nelly is the new addition.  She lives with Nanny since Nanny is no longer able to live independently.

|:| I’ve been chugging along at work.  I started maternity leave coverage officially after winter break, but I taught for the three weeks before winter break too.  The full-time teacher will be back April 11th.  It will be strange returning to my old schedule, because the new one is very busy, and the old one….wasn’t.

I’ve brought Abe to work on two different Saturdays.  I pose him around the room and take photos, and hang them up.  Kids who are homework stars (get a star for their homework each night of the week) can to choose a photo to take home.  They’re really into it.  One kid has won three times so her homework folder is covered in photos of Abe.


The kids especially love it when he sits on tables.

Through teaching you get a ton of ‘kids say the darndest things’ stories to share.  Some of my favorites include one child commenting that life in the 60s was different from now because they didn’t have color – everyone was in black in white.  Another little girl told me she was positive she had diarrhea because when she burped it smelled like farts (and this was said seriously, and loudly so everyone could hear).  On Valentine’s day I got to confiscate this love note…the sweetest love note that I ever did see.  On the bottom, the word bubbles say, “Wow!” and “We’re in Paris!”


|:| Our home is coming along.  For what felt like forever (but totally not because we haven’t even lived here for a year), it seemed like nothing was getting done.  Now – our list of accomplishments includes: new roof, five newly painted rooms, new heating system, new pipe work, new garbage disposal, new blinds, new insulation, and new windows.  I’m sure there are other little odds and ends here.  Nate did 98% of the garbage disposal insulation on his own!  And our solar will soon be turned on – just a few weeks to go while we wait for NSTAR to flip the switch.


Nate at work!


It took a little <he hem> 3.5 months <he hem> longer than expected, and I’m still picking up cigarette butts from the solar men, but we’re almost there…

I’ve been continuing to enjoy our home.  The sunlight is amazing here, and the house just feels right.  And nice.  And great.  We had a lot of anxiety about whether this was the right choice – and it totally feels like it was.  Today we’re off to buy supplies so I can build raised beds.  I can’t wait to have a garden at my house!


Abe and Holley enjoy the sunny spot on the stairs.


I suppose the best thing about waking up at 5:30am for work is never missing the sunrise.  This is through the skylight on the third floor.

Side sleeper

My identity as a sleeper has been strictly stomach for at least half of my life.  I did go through a weird, hypochondriac phase in my tween years where I thought that if I didn’t sleep on my back with two pillows looking strictly to the right at a 45 degree angle, that I would get dizzy….but beyond that, all memories are on my stomach.

My dad was also a stomach sleeper – and when I was 16 or so he bought us both delightful stomach sleeping pillows.  Down – with minimal content – most people would barely consider them pillows.  For years I have toted my pillow on every traveling excursion because all others were too plump – and I would rather sleep with no pillow than a plump one.  My mom would always comment, “Why did you bring your pillow?!” – and while a minimally stuffed down pillow is quite squishy, it still took up valuable suitcase real estate.  There was also the added anxiety of worrying about forgetting the pillow – and then those times I would actually forget it.

Anyway – nearly two months ago I inherited a nasty snot-ful and hacking cough from my coworker which still lingers now.  I started sleeping on my side to keep the snot at bay – and found myself sleeping well.  And sleeping better than before.  My whole sleep identity is turned around.  I am not a side sleeper with two pillows.  It’s a big change.

|:| Today starts a two week break from work.  I’m ready for a reset and an opportunity to catch my bearings.  I’m covering a maternity leave for a co-worker and since Thanksgiving I’ve been taking over her classroom while she’s still been there (though she hasn’t been teaching).  The pressure of doing things just right while she was watching, but also figuring things out on my own was less than ideal.  I expect to be more at peace when I return in 2014.

|:| I’ve been missing the things I used to do.  For the first time since we started living together, Nate and I have been relying on boxed mac and cheese, take out and subway.  I’ve been getting home too late and tired to cook and homemade dinners are really important to me (and my wallet).  I need to figure out how to make this work.

I made a wedding website (which will expire in 10 months so I won’t bother to link).  We needed to a picture and went to the arboretum.  Worked out smooth-jazzly.


We also got a fence and are now the proud owners of a fenced-in yard!


The small dog belongs to our neighbor.  She’s fairly intimidated by Abe’s exuberance, so I stuck them in the yard together to work out their differences.  Conclusion – they will likely never be friends.


Captain crooked-tail!

Still here

I’m still here.  In between moving, new jobing (dang – 50-55 hour weeks sure do cut down on the free time.  I had 30 hour weeks for 2 years!), home repairing, and canning – blogging has been low on the priority list.  Maybe that will change.  But I’m not sure.


New home!  Moved in on July 31.


One of my happy dog-walking spot.  Weld Hill in the Arboretum.  


I canned about 55lbs of tomatoes.  I used to do it this way, but now I’m totally doing it this way.  I’ve also done equal poundage in peaches, and a bit of plums.  I’ve applied for a plot in my local community garden (Where plots are 550 sq feet!!!).  If that’s the case – canning is going to be big part of my time next year!



Abe has been quite pleased with his oasis under the 3.5 foot overhang on our third floor.  Makes for a perfect dog room.

Mmm.  I just realized that 3/4 pictures involve the dog.

Big changes all at once. all around.

Yiks Yaks.  A lot of things have been happening around these parts.

Last night’s moon.

First off – I woke up this morning to a delicious temperature somewhere in the 70s after a 6-day heat wave.  Temperatures have been in the upper 90s for a looong time.  Thank you weather.

Next up – mortgage is approved – we are moving to our new house in less than two weeks (and only two boxes are packed!).  I’m excited. daunted. sad. preemptively tired. excited.

Third up.  Nate and I have decided to get married!!

Ringless engagement.  

For a long time I thought engagement rings were silly – why would you want two rings on one finger?  Then, I got pretty gushy about it and desperately wanted a ring and would look enviously at all rings near and far.   After a few years of finger stalking, I realized that I was much more invested in what the ring meant – engagement – commitment – lifetime togetherness, (and, let’s be honest, the relief that you’ve found someone and don’t have to worry about being single forever) than the ring itself.  I realized, in fact, that I didn’t want a ring after all.

In part it’s because of how it is traditionally exchanged.  If the tradition were for the future husband and wife to exchange gifts with each other, then hoorah!  That sounds fun.  I don’t agree with the idea that the woman wears a (typically) expensive peace of jewelry to make a statement that she will soon be ‘taken’.  And that the man doesn’t wear anything.  Of course, I know couples who have both exchanged engagement rings with each other (ok – I only know one couple that has done this).  And, of course,  many/most dear friends I have who are engaged or married don’t see this ring as an ‘I’m taken’ statement, instead it’s a tradition that most girls look forward to.  But, while I do love sparkly jewelry, I prefer not to participate in this practice because of what it means, even if most people don’t think of it that way.  Regardless of what people choose, it should feel good, and this decision feels really good to me.

Besides – Nate and I are buying a house!  We can’t throw pennies (err – hundreds of dollars…or (gulp) more) at a ring when we’re buying a house!!

I’m also interested in knowing when the expectation for a surprise and outlandish engagement first got started.  There are a ton of viral youtube videos with great proclamations of love (and often great showmanship).  Like this one.  (Which I actually love and have watched at least 10 times) . Our engagement story is much more subdued, and happened while hanging out in Myrtle Beach last week.  We have a plan to make a more lasting memory with just us, in a special place, in the near future.

As Nate has pointed out, and I agree, it feels like we’re giving an official label to something that is already official.  I’m happy for all those who have engagement stories that are different than mine, and if they’re happy, then I’m happy.  I think I just prefer that the expectation wasn’t for something over-the-top.  Because under-the-top is aweseome too.

|:| So yes – last week was in Myrtle Beach with Nate’s extended family (26 people!).  That’s a big family vacation.  The weather was lovely and I spent more time on a beach than I have in the past 10 years combined…so I’m all set for a long time to come.

Before dinner, the family meets for cocktails and cheese (and microwave popcorn because Nate’s grandpa likes it) and Nate’s cousin’s husband would occasionally bring out his guitar.  I captured this sweet photo between Emily and Andy.  I have one that’s even more awesome and the two of them are cracking up – but it’s blurry.

|:| Skipping around in chronological order, last month, Nate, his sister and nieces and I went strawberry picking in Chelmsford.  Here’s our bounty.


From this four quarts I made 5 pints of strawberry jam.  A few are low-sugar, and a few are high-sugar vanilla bean.   I always expect pick-your-own to be a steal.  I think those strawberries above cost about $16.  Which is definitely cheaper than the store, although I’m actually not sure how much cheaper.  The strawberries cost $4/lb.  It’s all ok, though.  Getting the girls out in the sunshine feels good…because many teens and tweens spend a lot of time inside!  IMG_3571

|:| My grandma, Nanny, has been having a rough few months since a hospitalization in March.  Two weeks ago she broke her leg on the stairs at her house.  Seniors are so brittle, it’s scary.  Nanny has had a low spirit, and I’m hoping that it will improve soon.  She’s pretty miserable right now.

When my family went to visit her in the hospital, I took this photo of my sister.  Ali showed up in her gardening hat which gave Nanny a chuckle – so that’s a good thing.


|:| I’ve also started my new job!  We have 2.5 weeks of PD, a day off, and then 2 weeks of full staff events before the kids arrive in mid-August.  I was definitely nervous before my first day (as to be expected), but so far, so good.  The school is a charter school and is full of motivated, smart and committed people.  It’s also very supportive and team-oriented.  It feels totally different than the public schools I’ve been in, in a good way.  I’m excited.

And, last but not least, I recently venture off into a new sewing orbit – stuffed animals.  I made this bear for my friend’s son’s 1st birthday.  I used this pattern from the Purl Bee, but I used all reclaimed materials (buttons, filling, and outer fabric).  I’m excited about this!  The blue is from nate’s old sweater, the red hands, feet and ears should look familiar, and the filling came from an old pillow.  Hooray!  This Teddy doesn’t look as pristine as the one from Purl Bee (as to be expected), but I think he’s got a nice, goofy essence.

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Make it: T-shirt yarn

There are plenty of places that will show you how to make t-shirt yarn.  For the purposes of making a rag rug (meticulousness doesn’t matter!), this system works best for me because it’s quick and it uses up the entire t-shirt!  Most sites leave off the fabric from the arms up.

So – first things first, lay out your t-shirt and cut off the upper half from the lower (make a line between the base of the arm holes).


From the tube you just created, take the right hand side, and fold it within an inch of the left hand side.  Now you should have a long skinny tube.  Next, once again, take the right hand side  and fold it within an inch of the left hand side.  Now you should have a long, extra skinny tube.  This helps facilitate the cutting process.


This is what your shirt should look like, pre-cut.

Next, as evenly as you can, cut 3/4 inch strips from the right hand side through to just after where the fold is.  The picture below shows the process mid-cut.



Now you should have lots of dangling loops connect to  a 2-3 inch strip of fabric along the shirt.  Pick up the thick strip and hold it in your left hand (if you’re a righty).  At the base, hold the fabric similarly to how I did below.  And spot your first cut points (labeled 1, A and B)


Just below point one, cut a snip perpendicular to the strip so that get your first strip is released from the circle.  Then, you’re going to cut from the right side of A to the right side of B.  Cut from the rip of the wedge to the tip of the wedge along a diagonal.  You’re then going to do that all the way up the shirt until you’ve cut all of the loops free and you have one long stretch of fabric.  Go ahead and wind it into a ball.


Next, you’re going to make fabric from the remaining sleeves/chest area of the shirt.  I tried to come up with a quick system for this, but I couldn’t.  Instead, I cut along the bottom seams of the sleeves to make a rectangle with a hole in the middle (where your head goes).IMG_3432

This is the bottom seam that you will cut on either side of the shirt to make a rectangle.


Here’s the remaining rectangle to be cut.

Next, I went around and around the rectangle, cutting a 3/4 inch strip as I did.  Because of the hole, it’s hard to keep the pieces even (you run out of space along the long edges of the rectangle before you do on the short edges, so my pieces weren’t  even.  Once you have another long strip you can tie one end to the ball end that you’ve already made and make one big ball.  If you pull on the yarn it will form a semi-tube, or you can leave it flat.

That’s it!  Good luck!

Sewing: Baby Bibs

Way back in the day – I think it was 2003, I sent away some t-shirts to be made into a quilt.  I spent a lot of time hoo-ing and haw-ing to get it just right, and chose to align the shirts into a timeline of my life – starting with shirts that I wore when I was 8 years old, and one that we gave out at my dad’s one year transplant anniversary party – to shirts that I got in college.


After I had another collection of shirts I looked into having a quilt made and it was insanely cost prohibited.  Seriously – I might as well had the shirts bronzed and hung them on my wall.  I asked my mom for a sewing machine for Christmas and was delightfully rewarded on Santa Clause day .

Though I had a slow start, I’ve been teaching myself how to make different things over the past year and a half.  I have definitely, by far, used the machine mostly for making birthday/wedding/welcome baby gifts.

In the past 12 months it feels like everyone I know has suddenly decided to procreate.  Babies are appearing rapidly.  So I’ve been making baby bibs – many of them – in quick succession.

The good news is that they’re easy to make and parents-to-be are delighted.  For my bib, I got inspiration from one of my favorite sites, Purl Bee.  I’ve since made some adjustments from what they recommend – but I still use their pattern (which you can find at the the previous link).

Baby bib making

To start off, you will need a fabric (a fat eighth) for the front of your bib – I never buy fabric specifically for this purpose, I only use what I already have.  Purl Bee uses terrycloth for their back, and I did too at first – but I now use a soft cotton from my local sewing shop.  For awhile I was using a cotton/bamboo blend, but now I’m using something that’s 100% cotton and feels like the inside of a new sweatshirt.  The terrycloth I was buying from JoAnn was pretty cheap, and it felt rough (and parents like to use it to wipe of their babies faces after meals).



Your fabric has a right and wrong side (right side is the side that you want to be seen).  On the Wrong side of the fabric, trace your bib outline.  I use pencil, but you could use fabric markers or tailor’s chalk.  Also – your fabric should be ironed.  I did iron mine – but not very well.  I’m a messy crafter.



And voila!  Next up, take your underside fabric and your outline and face them together so that what will eventually be exposed on the bib (the two right sides of both pieces) are facing each other.  You’re then going to cut using a rotary cutter or scissors, leaving at least a 1/4 inch perimeter beyond your traced pattern.  This is important because you are going to sew on the outline – if you don’t leave space, your bib will be a smaller size.


Next up – go ahead and pin your fabric pieces together.IMG_3451

And now it’s time to start sewing!  Just make sure you leave a 1.5 ” gap somewhere on your bib.  Purl Bee marks on their pattern where to leave the gap – I often do it elsewhere.



This is the infamous gap I speak of – you will use it to turn your bib inside out.



Next up – preparing your bib to turn it inside out.  Click the corners on a diagonal (which is a technique that you are always told to do when you have a corner and your turning something inside out).  There are four corners on the bib – all at the top where the big connects behind the neck.  You should also put vertical slits along the curves (the one that sits below the chin and the bottom, which will help the bib look better when you turn it inside out.


These are the vertical snips along the curves that I was talking about (above) and you can see the diagonal cuts on the corners (below).


And now – go ahead and turn it inside out!  Once you’re done, I use knitting needles to push any parts that aren’t just right (especially the neck area where the corners need to be poked).  IMG_3457

Next, you’re going to need to use the iron to smooth out the fabric and press the gap closed.  What I mean is fold in the gap so that it’s in line with the rest of the bib and press your fabric-  you’re going to sew up the gap next.

Top stitch the bib with a 1/4″ (or less) seam allowance.  Once your done, double check that your gap is closed and secure.


You’re almost done!  You will need to determine how you want to secure your bibs.  I’ve used sew in snaps, velcro, and hammer-in snaps (I don’t think that’s the official name, but that’s what I do to install them).  I like sew in the best because they seem the most secure.  I’ve heard that babies don’t like the velcro sound, and the velcro looses strength over time.  The hammer in snaps aren’t too secure and occasionally fall out over time.  The sew in snaps last the longest but they take the longest to put in.

If you are going to do velcro, make sure that you have the soft side of the velcro facing down so that if it rubs on the baby’s skin it won’t be irritating.





If you are going to do sew in snaps, I recommend putting them in before you sew your two pieces of fabric together.  This way your finished product wil be neater because you won’t see the backside stitching.  Here is a picture from another bib.IMG_1507

I typically put in three snaps – two facing the same way on the same side, and one facing the opposite way on the opposite side.  This way, there are two sizes so the bib can be used longer (that’s one thing I liked about the velcro – better sizing).  You need to be careful when sewing these in – essentially, sew in two on the right side of the top fabric and sew in one on the opposite side (e.g., if you used the right hand side of the top fabric, use the left hand side of the bottom fabric.  It’s best if you turn your fabrics around so the right side are facing out and place the snaps to make sure that you’re doing it right.  I’ve accidentally messed it up a few times – and it’s difficult for me to explain via writing (and I didn’t take an appropriate picture – sorry!).

Anyway, once you’re done with the closure – your bib is completed!IMG_3463

Now, I find that plain fabric bibs are a little boring – so typically I do applique.  If you are going to do applique, make sure that you complete it before you sew the two fabric pieces together – this way, the stitching from your applique is hidden.

When I can – I like to put the baby’s name or initial on the bib.  I also like to use scraps.  For the backing, beyond cotton I’ve also used extra fleece I had lying around and that worked well too.


Moving forward

So – we are moving forward with the house.  It’s still not official – and won’t be until our closing date next month, but we’re planning on signing the purchase and sale next week.  Nate and I will be home owners together.  This is a big deal!

Here is where we will live for what we hope will be many years to come –


A lot of work needs to go into the house – particularly the new roof, mold removal, insulation repair, pipe fixing and a new heating system…but we’re planning on being here for the long hall, so we will reap the rewards of all of this work.  Now that we know that we’re moving forward, we just want to be there already to get started…

I have one week left at work, then two weeks off before starting my new job at a new school.  The new house is just 1.2 miles from the new school – hard to beat that…!  We’ve also both been nerding out about our new neighborhood.  Nate spent a good part of last Saturday infusing himself in the census statistics – this morning I used yelp to review all of the businesses nearby.  

|:| Yesterday was the summer solstice and we had a really great moon.  This was taken the night before it was full  – and I don’t have a tripod so I couldn’t get a clear shot…but I would’ve had a lot of fun taking moon pictures if I could have!  I think a tripod is next up on my camera to-do list.


I love this time of year because everyone is out enjoying the outdoors until late.  Last night Nate and I went for a ride/run and 75% of the way through the run we stopped at iYo.  I love dessert places where you can add your own toppings.  There were lots of people out in Davis Square, and I recalled that I was out on the same night last year – with my Uncle and brother for dinner.  Summer in the city reminds me of May in college.  I went to school in central New York where it’s cold most of the time (in fact – my grandmother is from the same area and she used to say that July was the only month that she didn’t need to use her heat).  At school – in May – it always felt like our school population tripled.  Everyone was out and enjoying warmer weather.  That’s what it feels like in Boston right now.

|:| Yesterday my dad’s book arrived – a collection of memories and pictures that I had been working on for a few months. I believe that I ended up with about 20 contributions, and I sorted through hundreds of pictures.  It’s great to have the final copy and now we have books for nate’s mom and my dad.


That picture is the cover – my dad on his wedding day in 1982.

|:| In other big news – I chopped off all my hair.  I had been planning on donating my hair again ever since I last donated in June 2011.  Well – I finally did it – the minimum for the donation was 8″ but I was feeling bold and went with 10″.  Here’s me with my new sassy style.

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And here’s what I look like in real life (holding our friend’s son with his bon voyage bib – the family is moving to Texas next week).


It feels good to get rid of all of my gross hair.  good riddance.

The bib in the picture above was mostly made using a brooks brothers shirt that I bought at Goodwill.  I used the same shirt to make myself a skirt:


I must admit – it felt really good to make something that I could actually wear.  I made two skirts last weekend – the one above has an elastic waist band is more of a relaxed fit.  The other is blue and uses the shirts buttons to keep the skirt closed (which means it fits exactly to my size).  The style is also more fitted.  Both have numerous mistakes – but I don’t mind.  I plan on doing more experimenting to get a good technique – and then to make them a regular part of my wardrobe.  I’m not super fond of the buttons in front – so my next goal will be to make a nice (or at least decent) looking skirt without the buttons).

|:| Last month marked the 4 year anniversary of when I first got Abe.  I have a picture of him as a pup, just days after I got him and I had been meaning to recreate his stance and expression for comparison.  Abe wasn’t too cooperative at our photo-shoot, so instead I have a series showing his ever increasing gray hair.


His belly is getting really gray and so are his feet.  It will be interesting to see what he looks like in a few years…