Gonna make life easy for me

Well we’ve been married nearly two months now and I can’t say too much has changed, although now, at least once a day, usually when we go to bed or first wake up, we ask each other if we really got married and if JD has a wife and I have a husband. Yep!

I’ve been working my way through a million new cooking tools — from a vintage kitchen aid mixer we made challah with, to fancy baking sheets with silpat nonstick mats and everything in between. We’ve definitely been cooking more at home now.

Other than that, we’ve probably listened to the wedding soundtrack about 300 times since then. It’s all we listen to in the car, and we play it at the house quite a bit, too. It’s sweet because JD has a little story to go along with the music about what was happening while people were walking in and he was doing little finishing touches.

We headed to New Mexico just after Christmas to visit JD’s family after his dad had a little health scare. He’s fine now, but JD wanted to be there. It was fun to see them, and we ate green chile everything — stuffed sopapillas, hamburgers with green chile, huevos rancheros. So yummy. His sister Meagan also came, so fun to see her.

I need to make a photo album on Facebook with all of the photos but I’m waiting until I’ve mailed the moms and grandparents the actual photo books I made. Soon! They’re so fun to look through.

Our wedding!!

We’re MARRIED!!! It’s so crazy! We had the best time with our family and friends, and while it’s fresh in my mind, I thought I’d tell the story of the day.

christine-first-photo

The night before, JD called me late at night and was feeling a little sad because he somehow ended up alone in our empty house in Austin. We went back and forth trying to decide if he should come to the hotel to sleep beside me, but we decided to stick to tradition and stay apart. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to sleep, but I slept like a rock because I was staying in the room with all of the flowers in buckets which we had turned down to about 60 degrees to keep them cool.

Saturday morning, I woke up at 6:30 or so and Aunt Carol texted me to see if I wanted to have tea. She snuck down in her jammies and I was looking over my last minute to do list to see what could be figured out between then and the ceremony (at 7 am the morning of the wedding, we didn’t know who was going to drive the shuttle from the venue back to the hotel, who was going to read the 7 blessings during the ceremony, you know, minor details), and I started to write down the blessings on note cards. Aunt Carol dictated while I wrote them out. Reading those words was the first little feeling I had that the day was going to be so personal and special. tea-time

Around 10, the hair and make up woman, Adrian, arrived and bridesmaids started getting made up one at a time. Becca brought tacos, Jillian brought the wedding cake (with only a little confusion at Central Market — it was just one 8″ round cake and she had to triple confirm that she wasn’t picking up a 3 layer tiered wedding cake), and Stella brought champagne for mimosas.

hairgroomsmen

The groomsmen gathered at JD’s house and I believe they drank whiskey out of the cool flasks he ordered, although I’ll have to get the full report later tonight.

After we got fancied up, we put on my dress and hopped in cars to go to the venue. The girls hid in an airstream trailer at the edge of the ranch and watched through a window as cars filtered in. We had a last minute pep talk with the flower girls.

waiting-in-trailer

Around 3:10, JD was apparently feeling a little nervous because he knew I really wanted to start on time so we’d have light for photos, and we drove over and hopped out. I just saw this on Facebook two seconds ago,  but apparently JD yelled “let’s go!”

lets-go

When I got out of the car, my dad walked over with my giant bouquet and I could see the flower girls walking down. (Maya decided she didn’t really want to walk down the aisle, but Jillian took her hand and told her they’d just walk over to her mom, who was up at the front, and she made it down. Cate threw flowers like a pro). My walk in song had started, so we went! It’s too bad that when you’re the bride, even though you get to make the dramatic entrance, you miss getting to see everyone else walk in. JD filled me in on all of the music he chose for the ceremony start.

ceremony

The ceremony was so sweet. JD’s friend and Rabbi, Eli, flew in from Philadelphia with his family and officiated. He explained the Jewish traditions, our dads lit a unity candle (that JD’s former boss Jan and her daughter Ally magically produced somehow after being texted about it in the middle of the night on Friday.. not only candles but wrapped in burlap and tied with beautiful lace!), our moms signed the ketubah with us, and we drank wine that JD bought 8 years ago in Israel (the trip he met Eli on), thinking it would be for his future wedding.

The day after the Election, JD and I went to brunch and Eli called and we were planning the ceremony out and we told him it was important to us that he work in our progressive values, so I think the word ‘progressive’ was mentioned about 10 times. It was awesome.

My favorite part of the ceremony was when it was time for the 7 blessings to be read. You know me — in the spirit of brutal honesty and openness, I’ll tell you that once I wrote them on the cards in the morning, I gave them to Becca to give to JD, and hoped for the best. I had no idea who was reading them. So when it came time, Eli said “and now the 7 blessings, you know who you are, your cards are numbered” and then a combination of friends and family each read a card. Some were groomsmen, some were family members, some were guests. They stood wherever they were and popped up one after another. It was so sweet. Definitely one of my favorite moments of the day.

After that, he put a shawl around us and said a prayer, turned off the mic to say something special just to us, and turned it back on and recited a Leonard Cohen quote.

“There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”

sweet

After that, we were married! We took a group photo (that I hope turned out well!), took a bunch of family photos, and folks headed up to cocktail hour while JD and I took beautiful photos with our lovely friend Christine and her assistant, Yaz. It was so hard to take pictures and be able to see our friends and family across the field the whole time, but it was sweet to get to spend that time alone, too.

the-fam

reception

The reception was so beautiful. I hadn’t been to the venue at all that day and the final setup was left to my mom, JD and a whole brigade of family who set out the flowers we had arranged the day before, set up the cocktail hour snacks, did all of the drinks and final touches. It was exactly what I had imagined and so much better. There were so many special touches — my mom had saved fence posts that had been removed from landscape jobs and she and her friend painted Megan ❤ JD signs. The cheese for the cocktail hour was from Cabot, a co-op dairy that cows on my grandma’s side of the family contribute milk to. Gram made and shipped 9 lbs(!) of peanut brittle on Monday that was on the cocktail hour table. We ditched our pre-selected first dance song and danced to our favorite song from our friend Ben Balmer’s band called Biscuit (about eating the family dog in a post-apocalyptic world, we dance to it at every concert), instead. There were quilts, pie servers and cake plates that we & Aunt Carol had been collecting for the last 6 months.

The whole evening was so much fun. Even though it was in the 40s pretty quick once the sun went down, we had gas heaters and a huge bonfire out in the field. We divided and conquered saying hello to everyone, and with 300+ guests, I’m still seeing pictures from people who were there who I never made it to visit with.

We did first dances, cut the cake, did toasts and just had so much fun. It seemed like ordering 2 things of coffee at the last minute instead of 1 was a good idea.

drive-thru

One of my favorite moments last night was when I heard Jillian yell “hop in!” and I look over and she’s in my dad’s golf cart with Becca and Nirav in the back, and there’s a whole line of people in line for the P. Terry’s truck and she just drives right up saying “drive through!” and people part and we drive through and grab a burger and fries and then she floors it over to the bonfire, where I stayed the rest of the night and listened to stories and drank way too much champagne. It was so much fun.

At the very end of the night, my brother Matt and one of his best friends, David, and JD and I were the last ones standing at the campfire. We laughed and took rides in the golf cart and hung out. JD and I moved our chairs to the far side of the fire so we could look through it and see the empty tent, lit up with candles and strings of lights, in the background. We reflected on what a beautiful, heartfelt day it was.

In the morning, everyone who had camped out slowly emerged from their tents. I had my flannel jammie pants on somehow inside my yoga pants, and both were inside out. (It was freezing at 3 am when we finally made it to bed).

inside-out-pantsThe bonfire was still smoldering and the wreckage of the night before was strewn everywhere — P. Terry’s wrappers, wine bottles, camping chairs, glowsticks and random other things. Aunt Carol brought breakfast tacos, Amy and Ian made coffee with a huge coffee machine they rented from a place in Taylor, and the cleaning team of family and friends commenced with the breakdown without being asked or told. By 1pm, it was totally back to the way it was on Friday afternoon.

cleaned-up

golf-cart

I’m sure I’m leaving a million things out that JD will want to add, but it was just the most out of body, fun, surreal experience. I suppose it’s only once in your life that everyone you love most in the world is in one place, all to celebrate you. We are so lucky to be surrounded by so much love and support.

Now I’m going to go take a nap and then we’re going to go to dinner with his sister and her fiance, open presents and read the guest book. What a fun weekend. Definitely the best day of our lives. Many more to come!

The house that love built

What is it about cooking meals ahead and buying appliances that makes you feel like a real adult? Today was a very domestic day. I decided I’ve had enough of hauling our laundry back and forth from Austin (for a whole year) and headed to Home Depot this morning to buy a washer and dryer set. Had a cute small town moment with Gail, the woman who helped me pick out the fridge, as we picked out a washer and dryer. We had fun catching up. Ended up with a simple GE set. ..I can’t remember if I told you we had previously bought a set from a friend of my moms, but it turns out installing a gas line is much more expensive than you would think. (If you’re in need of a gently used gas washer/dryer set, let me know)

So did that and then I’ve been cooking ever since. It’s been really extra sweet because I’m getting to use so many gifts from the bridal shower, so it’s sort of like cooking with friends.

Today I used.. Becca’s mixing bowl, Amber’s baking sheet, Mutti’s super sharp knives, Amrietha’s sugar bowl and Lisa’s cast iron skillet to make broccoli salad (with bacon added) and a frittata.

img_6289

Yesterday, right before I was headed to the brewery to open up, I slipped on the back stairs and landed straight on my tailbone. I was putting a key on my key ring so my hands weren’t in a position where I could catch myself. I was screaming and JD ran out in his underwear to get me. I really thought I felt something snap, but apparently not because I can walk and sit and everything just fine. But needless to say, it’s been a long, sore two days. But! Found some tread at Home Depot and solved the problem for the future. img_6295

We were very excited this weekend for a new bar on our street, Taylor Station, to open. The family who own it were so happy yesterday and it has a really nice patio in the back which is perfect for the fall air that’s rolling in. We’re looking forward to getting to know them better.

Those are all of the updates! A little over two months until the wedding. Invitations should be going out soon. All downhill from here. Sort of.

Sick day

What a lazy weekend. It’s been a little windy around here, as evidenced by the random corn husks in my front yard. They’re all around town. Country living at its best? We’re not in Austin anymore, Toto?

corn husks

storm

We should have known rain was coming, but it’s been so dry and hot for so long that even when you see rain in the forecast, it’s hard to believe it might actually happen. But from about 5pm yesterday until now, it hasn’t stopped raining. The dogs aren’t too excited about it, but JD and I have been enjoying it. He’s been down for the count with a sore throat and fever, so he’s been on the couch while I cook, buy lots and lots of different kinds of drinks at HEB, and we marathon Stranger Things on Netflix when we aren’t watching the Olympics.

In wedding news.. we decided on a (local Taylor) restroom vendor and a tent/table/chair vendor for the wedding, so all we have left is table cloths, decorations, cake and flower arrangements! It’s pretty exciting that it’s only fun stuff left. Much less stress. Aunt Carol has been SO helpful calling bazillions of vendors for me since she’s free during the day. She also sent one million (OK, ~180) thank you notes, so we have a very good head start.thank you notes

Semi-weekly cotton update: we’ve reached stage 2: cotton bolls (thanks, Dona for the correction. Cotton balls are once they’re processed, cotton bolls are what they are on the plant).

I will leave you with two things.

  1. The time I met the future VP of the US (VPOTUS) at a phone bank in Austin

tim kaine

2. My recipe for Italian wedding soup, a combo of Ina Garten’s recipe for Italian wedding soup and Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for escarole and orzo soup with meatballs

wedding soup

  1. In a Dutch oven, sauté an onion and three carrots, peeled and chopped, with a Tbsp or two of olive oil
  2. Assemble the meatballs: I followed Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for these: Whisk 1 egg and 2 tablespoons water in medium bowl to blend. Mix in breadcrumbs; let stand 5 minutes. Add 1 lb (she said 12 oz but all of the turkey comes in 16 oz packages so I just used that) turkey, 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, 2 tsp garlic, salt, and pepper; gently stir to blend. Using wet hands, shape turkey mixture into 1 1/4-inch-diameter meatballs. (I added dried basil and oregano).
  3. Add 6 cups of chicken stock to the carrots and onions, bring to simmer
  4. Drop in the meatballs in walnut shaped balls, simmer for 10 minutes (I also added a few Tbsp of chopped fresh dill at this point)
  5. Dump in a cup of orzo a few minutes after you drop in the meatballs
  6. After 10 minutes, add a few big handfuls of spinach and more dill, salt and pepper
  7. Mix it all up, put it in bowls and top with Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper
  8. Voila!

It’s funny how being engaged makes me want to cook. I guess part of that is also that we’re living in Taylor more and more. JD is here almost full time now, and I’ve been here a lot more lately. In the last 6 months, I can count the number of meals I’ve cooked/made in on two hands, so it’s been fun to get back to a more normal place here in the last few weeks. It feels romantic to come home and make dinner and chat about our day at the end of a long day for both of us. Sometimes JD is too busy to come home so I just bring it to the brewery and we eat there. Whatever works! Life isn’t slowing down any time soon.

96 days to go!

 

 

All things go

Well, we’ve reached the heat of the summer in Texas and the corn is being harvested while the cotton plants are flowering. It’s interesting to make the drive from Austin to Taylor and back because so much changes from week to week. Next year I’ll try to be better about documenting the changing fields.

In the last few weeks, big trucks have come out to harvest the corn — stalks, corn cobs and all. They cut it right down to the ground and it seems to go through a big chipper and lands in the back of a dump truck. Then the soil is tilled and has big chunks of corn stalk sticking out in all directions.

The cotton fields are really pretty and lush and green right now. I pulled over last weekend to check out the flowers in greater detail. It looks like some are pink and some are white, and there are huge, walnut-sized buds waiting to bloom. Not totally sure what happens next or where the cotton ball part comes from. Last year, when I bought the house in September, the plants had all dried out and you could see the cotton balls hanging on the brown sticks that were left. Will keep you posted.

In other news, JD and Max brewed for the first time on the 3 barrel system in the tap room. It smelled delicious and was hot and humid in the back. We were grateful for that new glassed in door separating the brew space from the tap room itself.

mashing

On the wedding front, we’re trying out various borrowed veils (modeled here by one of the flower girls), and we got our first wedding gift from a friend in Austin — a print of the Taylor house. It’s so cute in the kitchen.

This weekend we celebrated JD’s 34th birthday with friends from all parts of our lives, but mostly politics. It’s been fun to have new visitors to the brewery every weekend who are just seeing it for the first time, or the first time in a long time. It helps you see everything with fresh eyes when people point out what’s changed since they’ve been there last.

JD’s mom came in for his birthday and we had fun with her. It’s been a fun last couple of weeks. Super busy. Time is flying. I can’t believe it’s August already.

 

mural

Bonus story:

flesh wound

Last weekend I was washing glasses when I bumped into a table and a stack of them fell over and one cut right through my jeans to slash my thigh a little bit. JD has cuts all over his hands from various things, so it isn’t the first official brewery injury, but it’s my first time to draw blood there. Ouch! Hopefully the last time for a while.

Walkin’ on sunshine

red rocks

Never go to Denver. You will never want to leave — at least if you’re from Texas and it’s the middle of the summer. We just went for 5 days to go to a 3 day String Cheese concert (item #48957 on the list of ‘things I do for love’) ..although I have to admit, I had a lot of fun. We picnic-ed, we stood in every part of the venue, which is amazing, we danced. JD is a fun magnet.

He also knows a ton of people. We ran into random people he knew from life:
a) in a Walgreens parking lot
b) in the security line at the airport
c) at the concert (ok this one isn’t so hard)

train station

He was super jazzed about the train that ran from the airport to Union Station, which is coincidentally right across the street from the brewery our roommate Joe recommended. In the first 2 hours we were there, we visited 3 breweries: Wynkoop, Jagged Mountain (which has a 17.4% imperial stout. it was so delicious), and Great Divide.

left hand

The most striking thing to me was how small these iconic breweries were. Above is Left Hand. They’re best known in Texas for the Left Hand Milk Stout. It is tasty and consistent. Their brewery is really cool, but it isn’t crazy huge. Great Divide was even smaller, and their beer is everywhere too. So it made what we’re doing feel a little more doable.

beer2     oskar blues

We explored a few towns — Ft. Collins, Longmont, Lakewood. I think Ft. Collins was my favorite. It was laid back and super beautiful. It was surrounded by cornfields and other fields just like Taylor, except 25 degrees cooler. The people were all super friendly and laid back.

baby gwen

I got to hold a baby when we visited Oskar Blues. You know how I feel about that.

So it was a fun trip. We stayed at his friends’ house right downtown in a really cool neighborhood so we could walk to eat and hang out. We didn’t make it to some gothic brewery that Jeff told us to go to. Next time.

Other than that… the brewery is coming right along. The electrical passed its inspection so now we just need all of the pieces to be able to run water and eventually beer through all of the tanks and then we’ll be good to go. Should be any day now! We had a staff appreciation party tonight so everyone could just get to know each other a little better in a fun setting. Ian and Amy’s kids whooped JD at connect four repeatedly. We borrowed a ping pong table and it was super convenient that the floor slopes down at the front because all of the balls ended up mostly in one place at the end of the night.

Wedding planning has been on hold while we’ve been on vacation, but I need to lock down the rentals (tent, tables, chairs, ..bathrooms) soon and figure out how we’re going to do the invitations. I had never even considered sending them electronically, but it was so nice to be able to see who opened the save the date and immediately get responses. So we’ll see.

Happy to be home and sleeping in my own bed.

 

 

Planning

Well it’s been just over a month since we got engaged, and we’ve made some serious progress.

We have..

  • Locked a venue
  • Decided on a menu with the caterer
  • Made a guest list
  • Bought a dress! (and shoes)
  • Decided on a wedding party
  • Blocked off some hotel rooms for out of town guests
  • Decided on wedding rings

So, lots left to do, but we’re moving right along. I’m hoping to send out save the date’s this weekend, if all goes according to plan.

Wrote a letter to President Obama this evening to thank him for introducing us. JD had worked on the campaign in 2008, so when I was hired on in 2012 for the re-elect, I asked him to get a drink (did I already tell you this story?). I interned in the Office of Presidential Correspondence (the mail room) in 2009, so I know that it takes months and months before letters make it through the process with any chance of making it to the President’s desk. Even now, I think we may be after the deadline. But I want the President to know how thankful we are that he brought us together, and how proud we are of him. It’s been quite an adventure for all of us.

It’s been a strange feeling this week to plan a happy occasion in the midst of the latest mass shooting in America. I keep reflecting on those who lost their lives and who will never plan a wedding, and who are leaving this world too young. I obviously have no words of wisdom for this. We all just do the best we can and love the people around us. Proud of Senate Democrats this evening and their filibuster. We have to do something.