Thursday, April 28, 2011

Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love, to work, to play, and to look up at the stars. ~ Henry Van Dyke

A bright 

and beautiful
walk home from work this morning.
Now the tree branches are dipping and bowing as the next thunderstorm begins and I get ready to climb into bed. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sweet Easter

After Mike saw what the Easter Spider had brought him, he tried to sleep some more while I got up and began a day of cooking and baking for the two of us. I love being with family on holidays but also love quiet holidays spent just with Mike. Yesterday, our first holiday together since getting married on the 15th, was especially sweet. It was just the laid-back day we both needed. Mike had bought cinnamon rolls for us. I took a long bath. Mike read the paper and some comic books. I stayed in my pajama pants all day. Mike made coffee. In between kitchen tasks, I enjoyed my usual iced tea while checking email. It was warm enough, especially with the oven on and water boiling on the stove, to have the windows open. We gave Stuffed extra treats. Quiet. Laid-back. Sweet.
 Ah, yes, he's now bald! I am very firmly in the "Don't-tell-me-not-to-cut-my-hair-short-because-I-wouldn't-tell-you-what-to-do-with-your-hair" camp, and I tend to cut my own hair really short every so often much to the dismay of everyone around me, but I don't mind saying that I asked Mike not to shave his head and beard until after the wedding. That's still a compromise, though, I believe. I didn't tell him not to do it, after all, but instead just asked him to hold off. . . :)

Photos are funny in what they do and don't capture. Besides cropping out my dog-with-dog-bone pajama pants, that one of us doesn't let you see all the stacked moving boxes around us either. If all goes as planned, we are moving into a new apartment in July. Piles of taped and labeled cardboard cartons, I can handle. The bare walls in here are starting to get to me. We had originally been scheduled to move this Saturday, so I had packed a lot before there was a change of plan. Now, we are surrounded by packed boxes and white walls but are one step ahead for this summer's move. I was glad to get one more photo of us in here that doesn't show all that. 

As I told Mike yesterday, this Easter was our last sit-at-the-table-for-a-nice-dinner holiday in this apartment. We don't cook a real meal for Memorial Day, and the 4th of July will find us curled up with picnic food to watch Jaws, as is tradition. I fell in love with those rainbow-colored plaid plates and matching cups at Target a few weeks ago and bought a set of each for us, and I knew I wanted to keep the table simple and uncluttered this year, so they and my bridal bouquet and our tiny wedding cake topper were color enough on a white tablecloth. 
To clear all the boxes and stacks of books off the table yesterday took at least fifteen minutes, but it was worth it. We needed the peace and just plain goodness of a sweet and simple Easter dinner, and we got it.  I made gnocchi and meatballs, just like my grandparents used to, and salads and focaccia bread to go with it. We had our peanut butter nests and marshmallow "Peep"-topped cheesecake for dessert.  There was still leftover wedding cake in the fridge, but even I seem to be tiring of sweet frosting, so that will keep awhile longer. After we finished eating, we watched Black Swan, and I talked with my parents for a few minutes. A happy Easter and our first as a married couple, it was just a lovely day. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Easter Spider

Every Easter morning, while Mike is momentarily busy with something, The Easter Spider visits. (Spider-Man-loving Mike would not, of course, be visited by a bunny.) This morning while Mike went outside to get the paper, the Easter Spider left behind Mike's traditional peanut butter candy-filled basket, and this time, treat of treats: It included a duck! How did he know that Mike wants a pond filled with ducks and can't yet have one? :)
Happy Easter to you all.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Peanut Butter Bird Nests & A Nap Before Bedtime

Utterly wiped out by work today, I got home at 8 pm to find Mike waiting on the front porch for Chinese food to be delivered for our supper. We ate and caught up on our day and then found ourselves waking up from opposite sides of our tiny studio apartment: Mike had fallen asleep on the bed watching sports news after supper and I had fallen asleep in my chair while trying to read. "A nap before bedtime," he murmured a second ago in explanation and then fell back to sleep. I should be asleep too but stubbornly refuse to let my entire day be just work and sleep, so I will stay up a little longer to read. I'm glad I made the traditional peanut butter bird nests yesterday, as I certainly don't have it in me tonight. 

Peanut Butter Bird Nests:

~ 7 oz. marshmallow fluff 
~ 1/2 cup peanut butter 
~ 3 TBSP. butter 
~ pretzel sticks (or chow mein noodles or potato sticks)
~ peanut M&Ms (The Robin egg-blue Easter M&Ms are my favorite color, so I always go with them.) :)

~ Combine the first three ingredients in a saucepan over low heat.
~ Add the pretzel sticks, coating them well.
~ On wax paper, form the mixture into nests and arrange the M&M "eggs."


Friday, April 22, 2011

Wedding Cake, Cookies, & Flowers :)

After we went out to supper last Friday night, we stopped at a Wal-Mart near our hotel to pick up cake and ice cream. Since we'll be having some kind of celebration with our families sometime in the future, this cake was just was for us, and while I wasn't picky about it, I still hoped to run into the store and find something special, and as with the rest of our wedding weekend, our luck held: The store had a simple white square cake with a spring green border that exactly matched the green of my dress. :) The cake originally had hot pink and purple flowers iced onto the corners, but I knew I could fix it up easily enough, so into my basket it went. As I paid for the cake and ice cream, the cashier commented on my hair--it was still in its braid--and the cake, and I had to explain that I'd gotten married that day and would be using this as my wedding cake. She congratulated me and laughed--"Wal-Mart is the LAST place I'd be on MY wedding day!"--and then looked puzzled when she rang up the colored pencils, silk Daffodil bunch, and small black picture frame. I let her wonder about those items, and while waiting for Mike, an elderly man spotted me standing there with my cake and kindly said, "Someone having a birthday?" I explained that it was actually for a wedding, and he nodded and said, "Ahh! Those are good too!" Mike and I thought that was one of the more memorable comments from Friday, and it was just a sweet moment. 
It was exactly the cake I'd wanted. I used to be really into cake decorating, but even had I spent a lot of time and effort on our wedding cake, I wouldn't have done it any other way. Like the rest of the weekend, it was simple and and sweet and lovely and just "us." And the little framed drawing is now up on a shelf here in our apartment, and I'm sure we'll use it on all our anniversary cakes too.
The day before the wedding, I spent some timing sewing my pocket of pictures of loved ones into my dress and attaching Sommer's ring and something else in honor of someone else to the jacket, and when those projects were done, I began baking and decorating heart-shaped cookies to share with the court house staff and hotel staff. And I saved a few for me and Mike, of course.  :)
I made the bouquet of silk flowers so I could keep it. It is all-yellow Daffodils (my favorite flower), Pussy Willows, and a few Cattails, with the handle/holder wrapped in green gingham ribbon. 
Just looking at it makes me happy. I finished making it in late March but didn't want Mike to see it until the wedding--not that he himself would have remotely cared :)--so although I wanted to keep it out where I could see it every day, I didn't have the chance until after the wedding. And today I have been married a week already and the leftover cake, the tiny framed drawing, and the bouquet will soon be on our Easter dinner table. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Girly Wedding Hair, Shoes, and Outfit Write-Up :)

Friday--Wedding Day!--morning, Mike walked down to pick up the rental car for our trip while I stayed here to get ready and dressed. Hair and makeup were easy--my hair's naturally curly, so I just pulled it up and added the braid so it would look more special than usual (and because my mom used to do my hair like this with the big braid on top, when I was a little kid, so this was a small way of sharing the moment with her ), and I always keep my makeup simple enough--but I just prayed I wouldn't get a run in my tights while pulling them on. I only had one pair of the cream tights, so I was hoping that I wouldn't tear them while buckling my shoes and that Stuffed wouldn't pull out his claws around me. The contingency plan in the event of a run was just to stop by the drugstore and pick up a pair of regular pantyhose, but I'd have been telling the cashier my sob story if I'd had to do that, silly though that is. No getting-ready mishaps, though. Cream tights (that look white in all the photos) and black T-strap shoes, it was, just as I'd wanted. :)
Stuffed even let me scoop him up for a picture after I'd finished getting dressed, and no tights or skin were scratched in the process. :)
And the hour I spent getting ready, maintenance workers were outside our apartment mowing the lawn for the first time this season, so the scent of freshly-mowed grass will likely always remind me of the morning of my wedding day now. :)
My green wedding dress was actually a vintage "baby doll" nighty, but I knew when I saw it that it would work as a dress, since it seemed to match my jacket's color exactly and had the lace down the front, as well, making it look a bit fancier than your average nightgown. I had found the vintage green jacket on etsy in January and had to have a local seamstress make alterations--it was too small in the arms and shoulders--but when she finished it and it finally fit perfectly, I emailed my friend Marylou right away to tell her and added, "The wedding feels real now that I have something to wear!" :) I had fallen in love with this funky old jacket with its adorable huge embroidered collar as soon as I saw it, so to see myself in it finally and to see that it did, indeed, match the nighty-dress was a sweet moment.
As I told Marylou the week before the wedding, I never went to Prom or any school dances, so I never did the "dress-up thing," so piecing together this crazy green "everything-I'm-wearing-is-vintage-except-my-underthings" outfit was just great fun. I'd written in 2008 about my "dream" wedding gown and swore I'd never wear anything else when I married, and that wedding gown is actually in my parents' house right now--I found it after almost 20 years of searching for it, on eBay in 2009--but somehow, this green outfit was more "me," and now I can't imagine having gotten married wearing anything else. And I knew even before I finished getting ready and dressed Friday that I'd never felt as beautiful as I did that day. :)
Mike had left around 9:30 a.m. to pick up the car and returned an hour later to find me finishing the packing and dolled-up in my wedding outfit. When he saw me--smiling giddily, as I couldn't stop--in my wedding outfit for the first time, he laughed and called me "[his] little green gum ball of joy." :)
People have always told me that I wear my heart on my sleeve, but Friday, I felt like my heart really was just glowing around me for everyone to see--I just felt beautiful and happy and full of love and good thoughts. I spent the day alternately praying for people I love and thanking God and giggling and hugging Mike and then, later on, spreading the good news of our surprise-wedding, and truly, I just felt like I was glowing from it all. Hair, shoes, and makeup only go so far: I was just happy and thankful and full of love Friday. There was a quote in Country Living magazine recently from memoir writer Frances Mayes: "Happiness? The color of it must be spring green." When I read that, I clipped it out and added it to one of my scrapbooks, and it will soon reappear in our wedding album--right beside Mike's memorable "green gum ball" compliment, of course. :)
I spent some of last Thursday pinning something inside the front of the dress to honor one of my loved ones, sewing a ring that had belonged to my best friend, Sommer, into the front of my jacket, and creating a jacket pocket that I filled with photos of other loved ones I wanted to honor similarly and who had somehow inspired me and/or helped me reach my wedding day. i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart). . . .And that was my wedding outfit, shoes, and braided-like-Mom-used-to-do-it hair: Love and prayers and gratitude. Hope for new beginnings. And green gum balls of joy.  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Our First Photo as Husband and Wife :)

Mr. Mike and I "ran away and got married" on Friday afternoon. :) It was, as I've told him at least fifty times since then, exactly the day I'd hoped we would have: Laid-back, sweet, simple, sunny, pretty, and fun. We married at the court house in our old college town, where we met in the late 1990s. Years before we ever even started dating, Mike and I jokingly made a pact with each other that if we weren't married by a certain date, we would marry each other, and what do you know, more than a decade later, there we were, back where it all began, driving around the campus in our mid-thirties as husband and wife. Don't ever let anyone tell you that life isn't strange.

When Mike called his parents from our hotel room Friday evening to tell them, his mom said she had figured we were up to something--Mother's intuition. :) And my mom squealed, "What?! VALLY!!!" and then laughed and called out to my dad, "Gene! Val's MARRIED!" (The phone conversations with my mom and dad are two of my favorite memories from the whole experience. I laugh and smile every time I remember them.) Mom said she'd actually told our friend Vickie recently that she wouldn't be surprised just to get a phone call from me one of these days saying Mike and I had "gone off somewhere and gotten married," so she obviously believed me all the times growing up I said I'd prefer to elope. :) Our parents passed the news along to our siblings while Mike and I went out for supper, and reading our brothers' text messages and hearing their voice mails over the weekend made it all even more fun. :) We had had our ceremony at the court house scheduled since January 31st, so to let everyone in on the secret finally has been nice.)

And now it is going on midnight two days later and Mike and I both have to work tomorrow. Girly green-vintage-wedding-dress-and-black-T-strap-shoes-and-cream-tights-and-braided-hair-and-heart-shaped-sugar-cookies-and-Daffodil-bouquet details another day. In the meantime, Val and Mr. Mike are married.  :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Greatest Secret in This Universe

This postcard was one of the ones shared at PostSecret this past Sunday, and I found myself nodding my head while reading it. 'A lot of wisdom in a 4"x6" space, that.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

When Helen Keller Was Asked ~Can You See a World?~

She responded, "I can see, and that is why I can be happy in what you call the dark--
--but which to me is golden.
I can see a God-made world, not a man-made world."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Club Level Center Ice, Babydolls! :)

I'd only been awake and recovering from work a few hours this afternoon when the message came from Mike: "[My boss] gave me tickets for tonight's game. Put your shoes on, Dear." :) And so I did, and I raced to write back and catch the bus downtown. I don't understand all the rules and penalties and terminology--hockey seems far less straightforward than baseball, which is the only other sport I've ever really watched much--but I enjoy it. Every time we're lucky enough to get tickets to games, we have some real characters sitting around us, making it even better, and I inevitably laugh into Mike's shoulder all night. Tonight it was Row of Experts right behind us--bellowing to the players such rare wisdom as "Hit the net! THE NET!!" all evening--and a man about our dads' age who sat in front of us and turned in his seat after the home team scored its first goal to scream "Woooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!" in Mike's face with his eyes crossed. The "Sam the Eagle" expression on Mike's face while the man screamed set off my first wave of giggles, and I was still bursting into intermittent giggling fits remembering it three hours later on the bus home. It was, as they say, a great night for hockey. And yes, our team won. :)