Time flies when you’re married to someone as fun (and loving and kind and hardworking) as Nick. Today we’re celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary.
photo by Henry Photographers
It has been a wild, happy and very full (and fulfilling!) four years since we walked down the aisle at Saint Cecilia Parish for the first time as husband and wife. I’m so proud of our marriage and family and feel so grateful to have Nick as my partner in it all.
Words fail to describe Friday in Boston and neighboring cities and towns. I am proud of our leadership, our law enforcement, and our fellow citizens. And I never, ever want to see another day like that. At a loss for words, I offered a hand to hold.
With the “shelter in place” order lifted, one suspect dead and another in custody, it felt important to get out of our condo and try to restore some semblance of normalcy. Our box, CrossFit Southie, was hosting a special Marathon Monday workout and fundraiser for the Richard family. The WOD (with a rep scheme of 4-15-13 followed by a half mile sprint) was sent to boxes across the country. Feeling flat out exhausted, I choked up multiple times during the workout, just trying to wrap by head around the week.
We are just so lucky to be safe and sound.
The three of us headed out for some fresh, ocean air. I love this little fishing boat (it’s named Success), and living so close to the water. Clark and I went straight for the shoreline, and he took his first dip of the season.
A good workout, some fresh air… and some sparkle. I wore these flats on my wedding day, and love breaking them out on a regular ol’ Saturday.
After a week of waffling between emotional eating giant bowls of popcorn and forgetting to eat altogether, we showed up for a verrrrrrrry early dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Franklin Cafe, before they even had a chance to unlock their door. I felt like one of those people who shows up for door buster sales. Or a very elderly person. I would have been embarrassed but I was too hungry for that.
If you’re wondering who the biggest goofball on the planet is, look no further. How did I possibly manage to hit myself in the head with a loaded barbell on Sunday morning and still get a 10 lb PR on the snatch? Sometimes I think I should be monitored by scientists, or something.
After CrossFit (and a shower, obvi), I scooped up the Frenchie and headed to the hospital for pet therapy. Clark cannot get into the car fast enough once he has that vest on. We spent a little over an hour hanging out with the kids and when we left, my heart and head felt a million pounds lighter. Clark, on the other hand, felt six pounds heavier. He can’t say no to treats.
We rounded out the weekend with a beautiful Mass at St. Cecilia. As we listened to Fr. Unni’s sermon, I knew that I was hearing what I needed to hear. We need to be gentle with ourselves, and with one another. There will always be more light than darkness.
Also On Tap for Today:
Maybe we won’t lose tonight’s soccer game 99-0… maybe?
Some things you want to keep secret. Like, say… surprise party plans. Or the fact that you have owned a home for nearly four years and still don’t know how to clean an oven. Other things, like a fail-proof recipe for a delicious roasted sweet potato salad, are too good to be kept under wraps.
Vegan roasted sweet potato salad (gluten free)
Serves: 10 – 12 people
6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped across the rib
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, raisins or currants
1/2 cup red onion, diced
Salt and pepper
Preheat your (recently cleaned?) oven to 350 degrees F.
Toss sweet potatoes with a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle each of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper on a rimmed baking sheet.
Cook sweet potatoes until they are fork tender and slightly brown (stir occasionally) – approximately 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix celery, cranberries (or your choice of dried fruit – I’ve used both raisins and currants), and red onion in a large serving bowl.
Once sweet potatoes are sufficiently cooked, mix them with other ingredients and top with green onions.
Notes: This dish can be served warm or cold, and keeps well for up to three days in an air tight container, refrigerated (obvi). Feel free to play around with other spices and seasonings. I personally live to season everything with Old Bay, but am not certain everyone shares my love for the OB. Got leftover sweet potatoes? Why not whip up Alex’s spicy sweet potato lentil burgers?
While putting together the menu for Andrea’s shower, I found a few great ideas on the time vortex that is Pinterest, but didn’t want my sister to know what I was planning. Ever the schemer, I created a secret board for keeping my ideas organized (and secret). One secret board turned into two, two into three… and well, you get the picture.
How to create secret Pinterest boards
Secret Pinterest boards come in handy when planning holiday gifts, gathering ideas for blog posts, or pinning chores that — as a 31 year old — you should know how to do without the guidance of the Internet. They are only visible to you (unless you invite friends to collaborate — perfect for fellow bridesmaids and other co-conspirators), and appear at the bottom of your screen of boards.
To add your own secret board, simply click on “create a board,” as you normally would.
… and be sure to select “secret” before saving changes.
Two easy steps and you’re officially a secret (…Pinterest board) agent. All I ask is that you don’t keep any tasty recipes to yourself.
I had to take a little hiatus from The Weekend According to Instagram, mostly because I avoided Instagram and limited most forms of communicating with strangers online for the past two weeks, so as to not ruin the surprise part of my sister’s surprise shower. (That was a long sentence. I am making up for lost time posts.)
I bet it was a lot easier to surprise people before electricity was invented.
Somehow, though, we pulled it off. But not without a lot of lying. A lot. Lies and surprises go hand in hand, I am learning. I’ll tell you all about the food (complete with a recipe for roasted sweet potato salad) and decorations later this week, but first I need to come clean.
Lies I told my sister during the past 24-48 hours:
We are going to surprise you for your bachelorette, but your shower is going to be the last weekend in April.
I am stressed out (at this point, semi-not a lie, but mostly a lie) and can’t make it to our cousin’s shower (which is where she thought she was going yesterday) so Dad is going to pick you up.
Someone (I think I specifically said “an idiot”… so I not only lied, but was mean) accidentally posted about your surprise bachelorette on Facebook, so please don’t log into your account. Ever again. (In reality, multiple people posted about my cousin’s actual shower, thus threatening to topple our very delicately built house of lies.)
I am at my office and I am very stressed out. (I was at my parents’ house, unpacking glitter and cupcakes.)
And when she texted to say she was on her way to my office to surprise me with tea: I, um… am still stressed out but I just left my office.
I will talk to you tomorrow (or in an hour, when you arrive at your own shower) and yes, I will download that stress management app you recommended.
I was so relieved when Andrea finally walked through that door. Who needs a stress relief app when you have that smile to look at? She is going to be the most beautiful bride. Being her sister really has been the joy of my life. And that’s no lie.
I have become that person that won’t stop talking about her wedding. You thought I was done, but I’ve really been spending the last (nearly) two months since my last wedding post tricking you all into believing I was done. Because I am sneaky like that. Mostly, I will talk about our wedding as long as Nick and I are married (the plan is for that to be, welp, forever). Please come to terms with this. Or delete me from your internet life (No. Please don’t do that.).
Remember when I advised you to make a list of things that didn’t matter? Flowers were very much not on that list for me. I worked in a flower shop as a youth of America (someone kept saying that in a meeting yesterday – the youth of America part, not the flower shop part – and now I can’t stop saying it).
It was the best part-time job I’ve ever had. I quickly learned the names of every flower (and that I am allergic to stargazer lilies, and that I am prejudiced against carnations), and loved watching the designers create the most beautiful arrangements. The shop’s owner is one of the smartest, savviest, most hard working people I have ever met. And she knows exactly what I like. I knew I needed her to do our flowers.
Moving on. The headpiece was made by Vera Wang (or maybe, like, one of her minions). The eyelashes were made by God. Just kidding. They’re store-bought. So is my skin tone. Being pale and freckly is fine 364 days of the year, but I didn’t want to risk blending in with my dress, so I went the, um, old-fashioned route: spray tanning. Before you picture J-Woww (is that how you spell her name?), I aimed for a few days in the sun (if that were safe, and if my skin turned any color other than hot pink after 10 minutes of exposure), rather than a few years down the Shore.
Okay. Less writing, more photos.
Big church, big dress.
Maybe when I grow up I will be as tall as my siblings.
I wish I had a balcony like that in real life. I would make so many speeches.
And more (unsolicited) advice for brides
The last time I offered unsolicited advice for brides, we talked about finding a good pair of flats, a mantra, and the perfect bridesmaid’s dress. Today, we’re talking registries. Awkward, I know. That’s why I feel like it’s important to talk about them.
No one wants to feel (or appear) greedy. A registry is essentially a list of stuff you want. Maybe you need some of the things on the list. Or maybe you feel like you’re pretty much set. It’s okay (and I think, normal) to feel a little weird about telling people – people who will likely be spending time and money by simply attending your wedding – that you want a whole bunch of forks, waffle makers, and margarita sets.
With that said, I like to think registries were invented for a purpose other than to make you feel uncomfortable. In fact, they can save you from uncomfortable situations such as opening six of the aforementioned waffle makers at your bridal shower.
People like to give presents that they know will be enjoyed, appreciated, and used by the recipient. Thinking about this helped me when it came time to wield the scanner gun thing. (Truth be told, I became a bit obsessed with that thing.)
When registering, think realistically about what you want, and why you want it. In an imaginary world, Nick and I regularly host elaborate dinner parties on fine china. In reality, a dining table (let alone the actual diners) does not fit into our condo. Six basic (but beautiful) white place settings made much more sense for us. China can wait. So can the waffle makers.
It also helps to think about space. Accumulating items for the sake of accumulating items never goes well. Especially if your basement and attic are effectively other people’s condo units. And are therefore locked. And not places you can store things.
Look into alternates to traditional registries. One of the most thoughtful wedding gifts we received was a donation to a children’s charity in our names. Nick and I were really moved by that. Sites like I Do Foundation and Just Give allow you to share your favorite causes with family and friends.
If you are planning to change your name, you might also consider adding a service like Miss Now Mrs to your registry. Having spent several hours at the Social Security Administration last week, I can assure you that services like this are worth the $29.95.
If only you could register for French bulldogs. And two additional hours of sleep. And magical, calorie free Junior Mints.
Also On Tap for Today:
Enjoying my last day as a 30 year old (by acting like a 70 year old, in sweats and glasses… at 8 PM)
I found this lovely Jessica Swift print on Etsy last week and was thrilled when it arrived. We spent some time framing our wedding photos, and this little number fit in perfectly. It conveys exactly what I want my husband and anyone else who enters our condo to feel. Well… maybe everyone except that electrician who called our concierge the b word. The only sentiment I conveyed to him was Yah fired!
Despite wanting to sleep in and eat bon bons (whatever those are, though I imagine they are not gluten-free) all morning, I joined Nick for an early workout at CrossFit Southie. I tell you this all the time, but I love wearing my heart rate monitor. It feels sort of like a video game. Today was not a high score. Whatever.
I thought that bumper plate was cute. I love our neighborhood.
Nick recently subscribed to Paleo Plan, which made mapping out this week’s dinners tremendously easy. I looked through his menu for the week and came up with vegetarian-friendly meals that use many of the same ingredients. I felt super organized and efficient. Until we got to the market and I realized the plan’s list isn’t in alphabetical order (that’s how my brain works, most of the time). And that I don’t know the difference between one mushroom and the next. It took over two hours to find everything on the list, and my pinky toe got run over by a shopping cart. Welp. Can’t win ’em all.
One of my goals for the year was to complete a full month of fatmumslim’s photo a day challenge. I missed the second half of January… and February 1st. Whoops. There’s always March. February 3rd’s challenge was “something that starts with ‘e'”, so I snapped a shot of my Twitter (and Instagram, and now Vine… even though I mostly have no idea what I am doing on there) name necklace. Nick gave this to me for Christmas; you can make your own at Survival of the Hippest.
For someone who claims to be like, so busy, I certainly make plenty of time for unnecessary projects. Like this one. I organized my nail polish by most loved and used colors, and then displayed them in a covered pastry stand in our bathroom. Three cheers for multipurpose wedding registry items. And random pops of girliness color.
I hit up CrossFit Southie again Sunday morning for Annie (a bench mark workout). I got a (huge) PR on the push jerk, mostly because up until recently I’ve been afraid to lift heavy things over my precious brain. Not anymore, people. Bring on the heavy things.
Super Bowls… of food. We watched the game with my sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law (that’s a lot of hyphens), but I chatted more than I actually paid attention. And when the lights went out in the Superdome, I took that as a cue to go to bed early.
Homemade salad dressing > store bought dressing. Fact, not opinion.
It wouldn’t be my weekend (or life) without a picture of this snuggly little muffin. That’s Clark’s casual Sunday morning pose. He is in full on hibernation mode lately. I don’t blame him.
Here’s a bit more HRM love, this time from Sunday’s WOD.
I cooked up a week’s worth of lentils, ready to be mixed with various vegetables, spices, and herbs and packed up for lunches at the office. They’re not much to look at, but they’re might tasty. And filling. And they play well with others.
Also On Tap for Today:
Looking for a good read this month? Check out the #hlbbookclub selection
You know all those things you leave for Sunday? Nine loads of laundry, grocery shopping, meal prep, scrubbing the bathroom floor, your thirteenth nail polish change of the week? I’m not a scientist (I fainted in 9th grade biology), but I am guessing they only contribute to the Sunday night blues. Imagine what you could do with your Sundays if most of the unpleasant stuff was done already. I can’t promise miracles (those just happen on their own), but I bet this scheduling shift might make us all a bit more, welp, pleasant.
Why not do your Sunday things on Saturday? I’m committing to getting the grown-up, boring stuff out of the way early so that I have plenty of time to enjoy my Sunday.
SundaySaturday To Do List
Deep clean the condo (why yes, I do have a playlist designed just for this purpose)
Make a thoughtful meal plan and corresponding shopping list
Divide up vitamins and supplements for the week (I know. My life is the pinnacle of glamour.)
Assess my schedule and wardrobe for the week (Do I need yet another pair of black tights? Do suit-like things need to go to the dry cleaners?)
Work on condo projects I’ve been putting off (such as using the label maker to label everything in sight, including my dog)
Prep my handbag for the week (this mostly involves recycling random receipts and errant paperclips, restocking my stash of quarters for city parking meters, ensuring I have at least 13 chapsticks on hand, and packing snacks to curb low blood sugar induced rages)
Laundry to the sixth power
Tie up loose ends from the previous week (call the people I forgot to call, email the people I forgot to email, schedule the appointments I forgot to schedule) and prioritize my to do list for the following week
Sunday To Enjoy List
Early morning CrossFit workout
Long walk with Nick and Clark
Grocery shopping and meal prep (oddly enjoyable for me)
Sunday night manicure (and a pedicure at Gaelic Day Spa if I am feeling extra generous to myself)
Welp, it’s cold (again). It is, after all, January in Boston. I am wearing layers and layers and reminiscing about a much warmer day, no so long ago, when Nick and jumped ship small boat and swam to shore at Devil’s Bay, Virgin Gorda. Perhaps a look at some of the 5,004 photos I took (with my snazzy underwater-friendly Nikon, which I bought as a wedding present… to myself) will help warm us up.
Virgin Gorda, one of the British Virgin Islands, was about an hour by power boat from St. John. We made stopped en route at Tortola to clear customs, which was a bit terrifying, as our first mate had to take our passports and go ashore without us while we waited for the all clear to pick her up. I like to know where my passport is at all times. And who’s touching it. And potentially making counterfeit copies of it (True Life: I watch too many spy and cop shows). Soon enough, though, we were on our way.
As much as I like to plan and be bossy, I got bogged down with wedding details as the big day approached and left the honeymoon to Nick (he did an incredible job). While I intended to be helpful in researching day trips, restaurants, and beaches, I mostly saw one photo of Virgin Gorda and said, “We neeeeeeed to go there.” And then went back to writing out place cards.
If you’re in the neighborhood, say on St. John or St. Thomas, a day trip to The Baths at Virgin Gorda is a must. The baths are incredible ancient rock formations (baths is short for batholith, I think… not bathtub) that line the shore, creating turquoise salt water pools and tranquil caves that beg to be explored. As mesmerizing as the photos I found online were, I wasn’t prepared for how amazing they would be in person. I was captivated long before we got to shore, my mouth hanging open (and my snorkel tube thing taking on water). They are just gorgeous.
Were the baths to be found in American territory, I am certain we would have been required to…
sign some sort of waiver
wear a helmet
Being elsewhere, however, we were able to literally swim up to the rocks, ditch our fins and snorkels and make our way along the sandy path leading through the baths.
We spent a few hours climbing up and over rocks, swimming in tidal pools, and watching the ocean water rush in between the giant boulders. It was, simply put, magical – the perfect playground for my overactive imagination and often distracting curiosity.
I didn’t want to leave, but we sort of had to. From a warmer day on Virgin Gorda, to a much colder day in Boston, it’s good to have pictures like these to remind us how incredible the world is. And how lucky we are to be able to explore it. And that it’s sort of okay to hand your passport over to an unseen stranger.
Also On Tap for Today:
Be sure to check in on elderly friends and neighbors when the weather’s this cold
While we’ve officially been married for two months (and seven days, NBD) and I’ve shared various iPhone pics… I now have, in my possession, our official wedding photos from the incredibly talented Katherine and Craig at Henry Photographers. Brace yourself. My sock bun is almost as big as my goofy smile.
More to come, including photos from our Mass at St. Cecilia. But first, every bride-to-be’s favorite part of wedding planning… unsolicited advice!
My advice for brides:
People are going to ask you a lot of questions. You will know the answers to some. You will not have even considered the answers to others (there really are people in the Universe who care about table linens). You will want to keep some secrets. Develop a canned answer now, if you can. “It’s a surprise!” worked quite well for me. It creates intrigue, without being dismissive. And it works for (nearly) everything. What does your dress look like? It’s a surprise. What is your first dance song? It’s a surprise. (Considering we finalized this choice three days before the wedding, our indecisiveness was the real surprise. To our DJ.) Who are your bridesmaids? It’s a surprise. Am I invited? It’s a surprise.
Bring flats. Sparkly ones, if you can manage.
Speaking of shoes, I wore a pair of black pumps. I knew no one would see them (they were hidden under all that Vera), so for once in my life I had the sense to choose function over fashion. I have worn those pumps a dozen times since the wedding. The lesson: there are plenty of opportunities to be sensible rather than fanciful. Would champagne sequined shoes with some sort of ruffle or feather adornment have been fabulous? Yes. Would anyone notice them, without me hoisting up my dress? No. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy amazing shoes. It just means that you don’t have to. Regardless of what Pinterest tells you.
Secure a non-ugly, non-plastic hanger for your dress. Unless you don’t mind the cheap-o version showing up in photographs, as seen above. Whoops.
Don’t limit yourself to actual bridesmaids dresses. I think I had a dream, nay, a vision!, about champagne sequins dresses. I became obsessed by this idea. I searched for months and months a few days, and found the perfect dress at Nordstrom. It was reasonably priced and looked incredible… on my incredible looking bridesmaids. I only wish I had ordered one for myself. (#crazybridestatement)
Make a list of things that meet the following criteria: If this doesn’t get done, I will not die. If this doesn’t get done, the wedding will still go on. If this doesn’t get done, I will likely be the only one who notices. For me, Mass programs were on that list. Not surprisingly, I didn’t get around to printing them. And I didn’t die. The wedding still went on. Maybe a few people noticed, but I like to imagine they thought I was a devoted environmentalist and made a conscious decision to save my brother and sister trees of the rain forest. Things that do not meet the criteria, just in case you need examples: getting your marriage license and getting to the church on time. Commit to not having a meltdown if the things on this list do not get done. Focus on the important things. Like table linens.
Find a mantra, a happy place, or a patient friend (or a stiff drink?) for when things get a little frenzied. They might. They might not. I’m lucky that we had very few bumps along the road (don’t ask me about our caterer), and planning our wedding was quite a bit of fun for me. Anytime I felt myself turning ferocious, though, I tried (and sometimes succeeded) in reminding myself that people are operating from a very good place. And with the best of intentions. Ultimately, I get to spend the rest of my life with Nick, and that is all that matters.