Monday, June 24, 2013

Homemaking on the ranch (or in this case a suburban condo)

Even my mother has made careful note that I have been born outside of my century. She often discusses that she is unsure where my homemaker gene comes from, more specifically the kitchen gene. Mom does not do much in the kitchen other than warm microwave meals. She hates cooking. She tolerates baking and somehow her daughter could live in the kitchen carefully crafting homemade meals and goodies all day.

The summer is about taking advantage of what is available. Nearly every fruit and vegetable is widely accessible freshly straight from the farm. Our 855 square foot condo does not offer garden space (surprising). The best I can do is visit the many farmers markets, join CSA’s or hope that a nearby neighbor will sit out fresh offerings for free (it happens all the time).

Looking over the pantry this weekend, I noticed the absence of jam. I love toast, waffles, and muffins. Many folks would be happy with a jar of store bought jelly but my last purchased jar yielded no identifiable fruit and within 2 weeks, I had a jar of sugar. The first ingredient in jam should be fruit, not sugar, fructose or fruit flavoring. Surprisingly, jam is easier to make than many people think. It involves few simple ingredients but it does test the patience of any kitchen cook.

I picked up a pint of fresh strawberries from a nearby farm on Saturday morning. By late Sunday morning we had fresh strawberry/ ginger jam. I tossed my Smuckers jar in the trash. Jam, from berry to canning stage takes less than an hour and it is worth the careful attention to detail (stirring...stirring...stirring).

Chopping strawberries for jam-5 minutes

Boiling fruit and sugar for 10-15 minutes
 I’d like to think if I lived on an Alaskan homestead I could prepare adequately for winter. I could make jam, sauces and other canned goods without fail. I could “process” chickens. Unfortunately, there is no need for me to do this for the condo except when I refuse to have too much over processed food in the cupboards. I do not fret about winter because our streets are plowed. I have no room for a chicken coop. However, should the apocalypse come, I am sure, we will be well prepared. Let us eat jam.

Finished product: Jam

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Most Perfect Jeans...EVER (I think).

My wardrobe is in distress. I hate clothes shopping. Most women I know hate shopping for themselves. I believe most of us feel buying clothes only shines a spotlight on the flaws we see and we don’t want others to see. Blame it on poor lighting, cheap craftsmanship but honestly, it’s just poor self-esteem.

By now, I’ve reached the age, where I’ve encountered several styles of jeans. I’ve tight rolled stonewashes jeans, scraped bricks across denim for the perfect distressed look, purchased jeans with holes made my machines. I seem to recall a time when my jeans were adorned with neon splatter paint, also done by a machine. There was time, I wanted my wardrobe to be “in.”

With age, comes denim maturity. I am a petite girl and when the skinny jeans craze rolled into town two years after the first sightings on the coasts, I felt awful. I do not have long matchstick legs. I have short, stocky, bicycle/ runner legs. Skinny jeans are painted on. My alternatives were boyfriend styles with larger saggy waistlines, the infamous mom jeans with heart shaped curved pockets, or the classic boot cut when and where I could find them. I opted out of all jeans and wore skirts or sporty motifs (yoga pants).

Like many women, when I say I have tried on every pair of jeans, I know for certain, I’ve tried on hundreds, if not, thousands of pairs of jeans. I’ve been to every store, outlet, chain and consignment shop for jeans. I’ve tried all the major name brands and the off brands. I’ll admit it, I’ve sampled jeans at Walmart. They did not fit but if they had, $19.88 would have been ONE amazing price. I’ve tried boutique jeans in excess of $175 per pair telling myself that IF I found a perfect pair, it would be worth it (The jury is still out on this thought process). Thankfully, none of those jeans worked either and I avoided a disastrous spending nightmare that I would have likely never been able to do.

I compromised and purchased a simple straight leg cut from Talbots (on-sale). They were a darker wash and did the job when I needed to wear a pair of jeans. They were stiff and uncomfortable but they fit (sorta). I was neither happy nor upset with the jeans. They made me feel like I was wearing clothes. That’s it. I just dreamed of a jean nirvana that may never happen. I never gave up hope and luck is a mysterious lady.

In a fitting room inside the newer Anthropologie of the south, my friend and I embarked on an Olympic sized task one Friday evening of trying on dozens of sale garments hoping for the rare gem amongst the smaller label designers. Most women I know under the age of 50 enjoy the relaxed look and feel of Anthropologie clothes but few of us can enjoy them at the retail prices. I enjoy wearing that small designer that is not a huge name and running the red carpets of NYC fashion week yet. My salary says otherwise. Thankfully, they know that their clientele seeks bargain among the short batch produced pieces. They’ve devoted a room to the sale items carefully organizing and zoning discounted pieces. On this Friday, I did find a buried treasure. I found the PERFECT jeans.

These are perfect jeans. The AG Petite Angelina
Among the racks were carefully placed shelves where several piles of pants folded atop one another. I reached over my head to sort quickly through the material mountain. Folded in a heap were red ankle pants, purple suede kitchy pants, and a single pair of jeans. I was almost defeated before I even unfolded them. I'd picked up a pair of AG Petite Angelina Boot Cut jeans. Had it not been for my friend saying “just try them on,” I may have returned them to the heap like a discarded tissue. The one lonely pair appeared to be my size. I threw them over my shoulder with some hesitation with other sale room items breaking my forearm beneath.

Louisville waited for years for an Anthropologie. It finally arrived.

Between divisional privacy walls, we sampled each of our selections. We offered each other a quick peek fashion show when we felt an item was not too embarrassing. I had two piles of clothes, one mentalley labeled ‘yes’ and the other labeled‘no.” The ‘no’ pile had more items. I slid the jeans on last and much like a kid being told they are going to Disney for the first time, I wanted to scream. These jeans FIT…they FIT GREAT…they felt GREAT. I raced out of the dimly lighted fitting room to the degrading three-way public mirror to pay careful attention to all of my self-proclaimed flaws. I tested them, bending over, squatting and pulling at the threads. The jeans were not pinching my legs. They were not painted on. They were not embellished with cheap crystals spelling out adjectives used to describe fruit. These jeans were dare I say it, PERFECT. It got even better when I grabbed the sale tag to find them onsale…DEEPLY on sale.

I wasn’t about to proclaim victory without carefully grilling the sales staff about these jeans. “Are these being discontinued?”, “Do they change styles often?”, “Do they come in weird cuts?” I fired questions at her one after another. I’ve been burned before having purchased a pair of jeans only to learn they are were later sent away to some jean heaven without any ceremonial send off. The sales lady was as calm and collected. She’s had this happen before. Once I was assured, I knew the jeans were coming home with me. I found jeans that fit, that I like and I could afford.

I realize that my obsession with finding the perfect jeans may be a true obsession but I feel everyone deserves clothing that fits and makes them feel good. As women, we are so closely judged by what we wear. It's hard to not be somewhat self-concious. Feeling bad is only enhanced when we have ill fitted clothing.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A year in a hospital

My first year at the new job is about ready to turn over. I've never been so elated in my entire life to reach the one-year mark at a job. It's gone by so fast. I would not have it any different. There was little time for adjustment in this position. I was tossed into the deep end and forced to tread water fast. Unlike previous jobs with micromanaging and drama, this position is more about the work. Because of this extreme pace, I've noted some key things I've learned in 12-months.

Things learned in a hospital in one year

1. People walk fast: People walk very fast in a hospital whether they are clinical or non-clinical. Even if you are early for a meeting, it is recommended that you walk fast. I personally believe this makes you look more important than anyone on the street. People are less likely to stop and ask for help if they think you are in a hurry and its a great way to raise your heart rate. When I say walking fast, I mean just below a light jog. Hospitals wear shoes out and it's not uncommon to see people in full stride or run.

2. Hospitals have bad coffee: Whether you are out on a unit or in an administrative office, you are likely to drink bad coffee. What they pass off as coffee is a hot water concoction that looks and smells a lot like coffee. Powdered creamer is abundant which only worsens the burned dark water. My hospital hosts a Starbucks in the main cafeteria and you can bet I will make the 15-minute walk to get a good cup in the morning with real creamer.

3. Some people are not nice: Even though I smile and say hello to everyone in the hall, my success rate of receiving the returned greeting stands at 50%. There are many tired, grumpy people in the hospital. Some can walk past you and never notice you are there. Others, smile, wave and say hello. I've learned to not take it personally when someone does not say hello back to me but I have been tempted to break out in a chicken dance to see if they would crack a smile.

4. Hospitals are machines: I've worked for large companies before and I am fully aware of how a machine operates. Each part has a job and there are a lot of parts to any single machine. Hospitals are machines, taking people in, turning them out, repeating as necessary. This machine never stops. It operates 7 days a week, 24-hours a day and then some. It does not pause for holidays, weekends or natural disasters. It never stops.

5. You truly never know what you will see in the hallways: Everyday I work, I never know what I will encounter in the hallways. I may run into someone sick, bleeding, about ready to give birth or just lost persons trying to find the appropriate waiting room. We're a huge set of buildings and hard to walk around. I constantly direct people to reach their destinations all day. (I have seen a woman in the midst of strong contractions grab a side rail and scream. I helped her reach the elevators which were quite a ways away from where she was-thank goodness for wheelchairs).

6. There are some talented healthcare professionals: I've met many clinicians who are passionate about what they do. They are good at it. They care and you can feel this passion when you meet or work with them.

7. There are people in healthcare that have no business being in healthcare: I've also met people burned out and angry about their jobs. They lack personality. Their careless attitude about patient care is obvious and they are poison to be around. Coincidentally, they also tend to be the people who refuse to say hello to you in the hallway.

8. Change is quick: Healthcare and how hospitals operate is changing in America and it's changing fast. There is no reason to get too attached to your office, your chair, your desk or supervisor. It can change overnight and your only notification may come in the form of a memo received in your inbox. If you are a person who needs a precise routine, constant direction and oversight, a hospital is not the place to build your career.

9. IT departments in hospitals are overwhelmed: When I first came onboard, it took nearly a week to get my email and computer set-up. The help desk is overwhelmed with IT professionals who should be wearing  fire fighter suits. Instead of waiting on the phone for hours for them to find your favorite font or give you access to other applications you really don't need, google your issue and see if YOU can fix it. Those poor people need a break.

10. There are a lot of smells in a hospital: In addition to preparing for whatever sights you may come across for the day, you must prepare ALL of your senses. Simply by walking between units, your nose may be battered and assaulted with a bevy of smells ranging from refreshing and pleasant to atrocious and nauseating. I'm used to every smell now and can drink coffee while smelling all of them.

11. Hyper people need a hyper environment: The best part of my job is it matches my energy. I am wired sun up until sun down and since this machine NEVER quits, it feels great to know I can expend my energies here. Even on a slow day, if I so choose, I can find a project to work on. There is always a project to work on here.

Training therapy dogs and their handlers to visit with patients.

12. Anything can and will be stolen: Never leave anything unattended in a hospital. Everything that can be touched, picked up, or moved will be stolen. Pens, portfolio's, coffee mugs, candy, coffee, powdered creamer and even a can of Pledge have been lifted from my office. It's too tempting for some people. Because of these incidents, I am cautious with my personal belongings. It behooves a person to find a way to hang, tape or sew all personal items to your body. It's the only way to guarantee you will have your items at the end of the day.

13. Managing 172 people is challenging: I have a mix of volunteers and staff. In all, I manage 172 persons but never all at once. It is a challenge to learn about them, keep their schedules straight and be as positive as possible. I love a good challenge and I always want to be a good manager. This position allows me to make decisions and mistakes along the way. I've taken all the negative experiences I've had with managers and used them as positives for how I do not want to be with my folks. I never want to be distant, self-centered, or too busy. Every person needs time with their manager. Sometimes I am put on the spot to fight a fire. Later, I go back and think if I'd do the same thing over. If the answer is yes, then I plan on it for the next time. If the answer is no, I think of another solution. My brain is engaged and it makes me want to be a better person.

More than anything I've learned is I can enjoy a job. In this day and age, this is a huge accomplishment. I finally report to someone who does not operate in chaos or panic mode. Although, he is busy, I feel I have someone I can look up to, a mentor of sorts. His calmness helps me remain the same. I enjoy hard work but I do not enjoy operating in a manic state with unachievable goals.

Friday, December 28, 2012

That was fast...

I cannot believe or fathom that 2012 is almost gone. We are down to the final days, hours and minutes of yet another year. Forget resolutions, party hats and plans for the new year. I've never been one to make resolutions. Instead of making plans for the next year, I simply want another 2012. I want another year of more ups than downs, more smiles, more laughter, more friends.

I started 2012 with a new job, a job I can actually live off of and look forward to going to everyday. It's had it moments and while I work for a large machine, I do not oppose the corporate culture as I've discovered I can blend right in. I do not save lives at my job and this has never been my career goal but there are days when I do the smallest things and see how it has the largest impact on people. I can honestly say I enjoy my job and that is so rare these days. I have not been able to say that since 2008.

Material collected for cancer patients.
The year continued on with travel that I've missed for the past three years. Since my best friend left for college in August of 1995, we've flown or driven back and forth religiously for visits (about 2 visits a year). For the past three years due to job transitions and general life obstacles, I have not been able to travel. This year, for possibly the first time ever, I enjoyed a vacation with a layover in New York City. It was only one night but it was a night of belly laughter, gin, pictures, and enjoying my friends company that I'd missed so dearly

Birthday package for Annie-a 17-year tradition
My vacation continued onto Maine. Before 2012, I've only driven through a small portion of Maine. This year, I enjoyed the full New England experience complete with shore line views, sailboats, amazing seafood and a few visits to LL Bean. I met all of the future in laws. It was a great reprieve from work. Unlike previous attempts to have a vacation, this time, my phone did not ring. My boss did not have any urgent calls. I was too busy enjoying the sun and food to take them anyway.

Real Maine lobsters.

Our wedding literally started off the fall season. The weather held out even with a wind storm. No one passed out. JC and I showed up for each other. Everything was calm, relaxed and fun. The hours flew past and we are still cleaning up from the wedding here and there. It was a perfect day even though we did not have many traditional elements.

A bicycle wedding
Forget a honeymoon, cyclocross season began one week post wedding bliss. On a chilly Sunday morning, predawn, we stepped into spandex to get muddy. Neither of our race season were stellar. In fact, I barely finished 3 races. It was not for the lack of trying but maybe just too much going on in life. New job, planning a wedding, vacation, and unknown work schedule do not lend time to train. While disappointing, I finished the season uninjured and this is always a good thing.
Me, suffering.
As the holidays approached, I resigned to do the normal "family thing" my family always does which is hang around and do nothing. We are not formal folks and mom has never cooked a turkey in her life. I was prepared to cook but mom suggested a road trip to St. Louis to visit our cousins. The St. Louis family is some of the only family we have left and in all of my years, my mother has never suggested a road trip. I love road trips but I was not sure what to expect with mom. I am a seasoned traveler and mom does not drive on the highway. To my surprise, the trip was seamless other than a little mild car sickness on mom's part. We enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving feast around a dining room table with family. For the first time in my life, I enjoyed a post card holiday.

Cousins in St. Louis
 My plans to wrap up the year were simple with the planning of dinner with friends. However, in late November, I received an email announcing Project Improv was having a 10-year reunion. I was not a part of the original cast. I was a part of the second cast but without any hesitation, I said yes to a show. So tonight, for the first time in about 4-years, I will be doing a little improv with a group of people I have enduring respect for. All three troupes will be performing. I did not predict how this year would end but literally when the curtain goes down, the year will be near an end.

Project Improv Pic 2007 or 08

I have no plans for 2013. There is discussion of another vacation. There has been mention of racing bikes. My best friend recently got engaged so I am on standby for a pop-up wedding at some point. I do plan on using my new 5qt mixer over and over. However, I am not about to make any formal plans. Instead, I plan to ride the roller coaster that is the new year and hope for the best. More friends, more food, good health, bike rides, and lots of laughter. It sounds simple so I hope it happens this way.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The ride home

On a race Sunday, there is no such moment as the moment when we get in the car to come home. Once in the car, it means we are headed for hot showers, a comfy couch, loving animals and the end of another race Sunday. It is also the most reflective time of the whole day.

Race Sunday starts at 5AM with the loading of the car, feeding of the animals and review of every bag packed. You cannot get 2-hours away from home and realize you forgot your helmet or your favorite socks. It's a chaotic hour getting everything you packed into the car, forcing your body to wake-up and take in calories. The goal is to always use the bathroom at home but quite often there are pit stops on race morning. Once we are in the car leaving home, we are in "race mode." There is little conversaiton on the way to a race as we listen to a mix of music we've compiled on our i-pods to avoid listening to small town gospel hour on the radio (no joke). We eat more calories, we drink coffee, and we wonder about the course silently anticipating whatever the day will bring. It's high anxiety and we both avoid interferring with the others race prep routines.

This is a stark contrast to when we leave for home. We moan and groan adjusting our sore bodies in the car seats. No matter the temperature outside, we find ourselves reaching for the heated seat button to warm our sore lower backs. The anxiety has given way to sheer exhaustion. Besides being physically tired, we are mentally drained from cheering on teammates, cooking enormous amounts of food and keeping the peace at our temporary campsite. I talk to JC, who is usually driving, so he doesn't tire. It's silly conversation about all the things we would do differently if we could do the race over. We talk about the funny cyclocross dogs we see and the cute things the kiddos say. All the while, we are nursing our tender carcusses awaiting the moment we arrive to our final point B.

At this point in the race, I am thinking about food and sleep.

One of the many pups at our race tent. He's smiling because he didn't race.
The road trip home is more relaxed with all attention turned towards the few required necessities like calories. I am not a person who dines in the car regularley but after a race with consistent hunger every few hours, I find the ride home is the perfect time to reward ourselves with something greasy and naughty. The burger and fries holds us over until the next stop at home and another meal, usually home cooked or slapped together with leftovers. With every passing mile, we count down the time to reach our comfy couch, loving animals and post race snacks.

The ride home is the only time I can enjoy the beauty of our surroundings. In the dark morning hours, we see a sunrise streaked with beautiful colors brightening the skyline. It truly happens in slow motion. The stark contrast is noticable from exit to exit. However, I cannot tell you we truly appreciate this beauty. We are usually too distracted locating coffee shops and approved bathroom stops. On the way home, I can take in all the colorful leaves, the sights, sounds and smells of fall. Externally, I read the signs for every pumpkin patch, corn maze, and haunted house along the route (sometimes aloud which JC doesn't care for). Internally, I run the race through my head turn by turn thinking about all the things I would do differently and all the things I need to work on.

The car ride home is the last place I swell with pride. I ride home proud of my husband for making good decisions. We congratulate each other as if we had podiumed and we nurse each other's aching bodies. He will tell you he usually needs more nursing than me. Whether it's band aids and ibuprofen or an extra hand to hold chicken strip dipping sauce, I'm there. Whether we win the race or not, there is this little moment where you are just happy that you can race and happy that the day has ended well. After the car is unloaded, the laundry piled up and animals fed, we finally collapse on our couch and only then can we say the day is done. Then, we count down until the next weekend and do it all over again.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Team Cook-Position Filled

Everyone knows I love two things, cycling and cooking. I cannot do the two at the same time but I love these hobbies equally. The athletic, competitive part of me obviously comes from my dad who enjoyed a youth of various sports and eventually car racing. The cooking gene skipped over my mother and landed on me. Mom's signature dish is Hamburger Helper or a hash of lima beans, corn and tomatoes that to this day, I refuse to eat. I'm a genetic mess of athletics and fine cooking.

Just over a month ago, I was ready for another cyclocross season. The first race was the weekend before the wedding and my nerves were stacked with racing and wedding details. To say the race sucked would be the kindest thing I could say. From the start, I hated it. The course was a rough jagged mesh of pumpkin stems, soured apples and rude officials. My class of women is small and often we are combined with several other groups. The mayhem of juniors, younger women, single speed men made me squirm. As I sliced through the tape, an official yelled at me thinking I was trying to cut the field when in actuality I was just trying to figure out the direction of the course. I walked off. I had a "I want to throw my bike moment."

The truth is, I love racing but doing it alone is no fun. I do not have a ride or training buddy. I get bored riding around by myself. I've done all sorts of team sports but our team is stacked with accomplished riders and accomplished riders do not train others. It's not that anyone on the team is being snide, it's just expected that you will find your own mate. Few women ride or race in this area, so I have no options for training partners. Without the monies to hire a trainer or genetic clone advancements to create a cool training partner, I instantly decided not to race this season. Not wanting to be a deadbeat on the team, I reverted to the only other thing I know, food.

Caramel espresso brownies.
Just two races into the season, our team has not starved. While we wake before dawn and travel some distances, no one has gone hungry. This team does not subsist off peanut butter, gu gels, or protein powders. With some research, I crafted a simple seasonal menu including marinated kabobs, burgers, and pastas. It requires preparation and time spent over a searing hot grill. I do not mind one bit. In fact, it makes me want to operate a food truck (that's another story for later). Other teams definitely notice our set-up of Belgian waffles, burgers with grilled pineapple, and assortment of sweets. We've had a few riders panhandle us for a spare waffle or muffin to hold them over until they reached home and a drive thru.

The morning set-up complete with coffee and espresso.
 There is no worse feeling that starving after a race. Your body constantly craves food. Like many, I am quite cranky when I am hungry as are my team mates. We like to eat and we don't want jersey warmed gu's. Perhaps its an odd contribution and not nearly as glamorous as the racers. My class of racers really do not matter. No one cheers for the Cat 4 women. No one comes to see the Cat 4 women. No one takes pictures of the Cat 4 women. We really don't do anything exciting like the elite men. We're a slower group. So, why waste my time? I may race again but I'm going to need someone to make me excited because doing it alone is not exciting. In the meantime, I will cook until my heart is content and contribute something that I enjoy. None of my team mates are complaining because their mouths are full of food.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


 Knots are tied, the I-do's have been uttered and with the changing of the season, comes a changing of my name. Our faces are cramped from all the smiling of our wedding day. With the sunset on the first official day of fall, came about a southern charmed wedding worthy of any style magazine. There were no bows, no flower girls, no vocalist singing Ava Marie. There was a short march through a garden accompanied by a bag pipe player and the bride wore a tea length dress baring her ankles (gasp). The officiant wore a real kilt and stood with a clipboard. It is exactly what this couple wanted.

Saturday morning, we awoke to a full service breakfast outdoors with the birds singing.
Thanks to the abundance of reality TV, weddings have been stereotyped as elaborate productions hosted by self-centered needy women with the groom used as a fashion accessory. This wedding was the polar opposite involving everyone including close friends while remembering distant loved ones. These nuptials produced a bargain basement price tag without compromising the fun or simple elegance. The wedding dress was purchased off the rack (gasp). It did not have a train, a bustle, or excessive beading. The groom did not wear a tux and tied his own bow tie (gasp!). There was so sit down three course dinner of dried out chicken surprise served on rented china. The bar was even self serve. No one seemed to mind mixing their own cocktails. No one seemed to mind they were asked to not bring gifts. Instead, we walked into a tent of smiling laughing folks having a good time applauding our short ceremony. 
Bike decoration made by mom.
This three-hour evening was birthed from seven months of careful planning. The largest challenge was keeping things small and simple. So many of the traditional wedding elements did not pair well with this couple. We do not attend a church. We do not enjoy a lot of attention. We do not like cookie-cutter events. Our goal was to make  our wedding as personable and pleasing for us and our small entourage. The guest list was cut off at forty-five persons. We did not invite everyone we wanted. Instead, we invited persons who hold a special place in our lives, who mean something to us. A historic home can only accommodate so many people and the shorter guest list made it easier for us to socialize with everyone.

By far, this was a D-I-Y wedding. Mom, dad, father-in-law, sister-in-law, friends all helped this craft fest get off the ground. The invitations were hand stamped, bouquets were made in the kitchen, homemade sangria soaked in a garage, and table centerpieces were hot glued to ensure durability. No wedding planner was hired. We did not purchase prefab wedding favors wrapped in white tulle. We did not have a plan B if the weather did not cooperate. From day one of planning, we went on blind faith that everything would be outdoors without worry. Every detail along the way had a touch of us and when it came time for us to make our way through the garden with our family and friends looking on, all the hours of crafting, hot gluing, and taping paid off. Every detail was noticed, appreciated, and so well received. At some point, I turned around and could not believe that this little wedding was pulled off so calmly. My stomach ached from the laughter of seeing so many folks and my heels did not tire (I brought back-up shoes). When we finally collapsed in the bed, his heels blistered and my hair matted with hairspray, we laughed.

Cake table with special dedication to couple and those not with us.

An off the rack dress accessorized with great grandmother's pin.
 I've always held the belief that weddings should be about the couple. If the couple loves churches, pews and organ music, then by all means, they should have it. However, so often couples are lost in the haze of making others happy and hosting something that is not them. We succeeded hosting an afternoon that was us. We made it. I could not be happier and I could not have hoped for a better day.

The kiss.