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Happy anniversary to my dear love, Elliot. Yesterday marked one year since our marriage, and I look forward to many more years spent with you.

Photo by Bethany Beams

Photo by Bethany Beams

This year has been filled with so much. We cooked our first Thanksgiving dinner, spent our first round of holidays as a married couple, bought a house, welcomed many friends’ babies into the world, and spent so much time with people we love. We are so blessed to know so many genuine folks, both in our families and in our community here in Rochester. We are continually blessed by our church family. We are just so lucky.

Here’s to many, many more years together. We will hit hard things and overcome them. We will seek out the beauty in life as much as possible. We will cherish each moment and each other.

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Elliot and I are getting married in two weeks. That is crazy.

Someday I will write more interesting things on this site. Like recipes. And things I learn. My goal this fall is to get all of Dorie’s “necessity” recipes under my belt. I think it’s achievable but challenging. I am going to try to memorize them. So I’ll let you know how that goes!

Yesterday I made a chocolate cake with caramel buttercream frosting, and it kicked ass. Just saying.

Here we are saying hello:

Toodloo! Next time you see us (most likely), we’ll be MARRIED.

…ok, so maybe my wedding will win out over this one, but it was pretty damn fun spending all day cooking and baking and serving our friends what my accomplice and I were sure was a splendid meal. We were supposed to go to Toronto to see U2 this weekend, but with Bono out with a bum back, we made the best of it state-side.

The menu was:
Appetizer – Bacon-Wrapped Brussel Sprouts with pistachios and sage, Zucchini Latkes with sour cream and smoked trout, and Endive Salad with gorgonzola and maple vinaigrette
Soup – Vichyssoise with baguette croutons
Entrée – Shrimp Étouffée with wild rice and italian bread
Cheese course – Delicious cheese chosen by Tyler
Desserts –  Espresso Chiffon Cake with fudge buttercream, “Trifecta of Tartlets” (honey-cinnamon with apples, vanilla bean mousseline with fresh berries, lemon mousse)

I don’t mean to toot my own horn but uh….yeah, it was pretty good.

We even borrowed a fancy-pants camera to indulge ourselves a little further by taking photos of all the food we were so proud of. A slideshow for your viewing pleasure:

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Aren’t those some purdy photographs? We’re hoping to hold dinners like these roughly once a quarter until we can someday go live with our real restaurant. Stay tuned!

I’ve been here all along. It’s been a hell of a few months, I’ll say that much. The new job is well, not so new anymore, and it’s again left me pining for something that feels more fulfilling. I’ve been writing a lot in my head lately, which is what made me think that perhaps I needed to do some actual writing, a little Nickel Creek in the background.

Lately I’ve been pretty wrapped up in wedding plans, the crazy traveling schedule that Elliot and I set up for ourselves, and diving head-first into my newly rediscovered love for baking. What could possibly be more simultaneously exciting and soothing than flour and sugar and butter?

After all this time trying to figure out what it is I want to do…dare I say this might be it? I can say with confidence that I never wanted to spend hours pouring over music history textbooks or even practicing in college, and now it seems I cannot get enough reading into one day. Recipes, techniques…is it because there are pictures? It helps.

Dear Lord, let this be it. First it was seminary, and then motherhood (which I’m still quite stuck on–no worries there!), but…baking. Baking…if I say it, will it be true?

I want to bake. Forever. And hopefully someday for my job.

There is so much to learn–that is one thing I am sorely aware of–but thankfully I have many guinea pig-friends who eagerly and honestly taste my convections.

*le sigh*

How can a girl be this lucky? In love with a beautiful man and feeling so blissed out in her kitchen. It feels right and lovely.

…and all of a sudden, I’m an adult.

What? Wait…what?

A year ago, I was some girl with some job living in some city who liked some boy.

Now we are getting married. We have a bank account. Together. A GROWN-UP BANK ACCOUNT. I’m just saying. We are picking flowers and venues and music and colors and china patterns. Ok, not actually china patterns. Not yet anyway.

This past year has been full of beauty and growth. Beautiful growth. And sometimes hard and painful growth. I have learned how to let someone else help me, when I was trying so desperately to be the only one I needed. I have learned about the beauty and truth in a look or a moment or a tear in the eye of the one you love.

Friends, love is like the most beautiful thing I can think of or imagine. I think sunsets and kittens and babies are pretty good too, but love? It is like the sun shining in a dark night. A bright, bright star burning up all the darkness. …I’m waxing a bit poetic, but can you even wrap your head around love? I bet you can’t. Because it is too beautiful and good. So good, in fact, that it robs from me my ability to use a varied vocabulary.

Anyway, merry Christmas. I hope this season is full of awe and adoration for the love in your life and for our little baby savior, Jesus.

I love sitting at the front desk. Work is not a contact sport up here, as it sometimes is in the Box Office. I just get to sit up here, run reports, answer calls from people who aren’t yelling at me, and peruse Etsy to my heart’s content. It’s peaceful.

Peaceful is good, because it’s been a rough week or so. Elliot and I both got hella sick last week, lying on couches in his living room watching 30 Rock and snoozing the afternoons away. It was a horrible, bronchial, achey cold, and I am glad to say it’s mostly over. Elliot was diagnosed with bronchitis and has been on antibiotics since Saturday, and I am just dealing with leftover coughing, but as far as the doctor was concerned, am fine.

Being sick aside, most of our free time is spent planning the wedding or watching the West Wing, which is our newest television addiction. The writing is so brilliant!

It’s crazy to think that after all those years of dreaming about what it would be like, I am actually planning my wedding. After all those years of dreaming, it is really here, and we really have to find somewhere to hold all of our friends and family and I really have to decide on bridesmaids dresses and flowers and music and and and and…oy vey.

It’s good stress. And as soon as we get the church and reception hall nailed down, I think I will be a lot less nervous about the planning. I am so, so excited. I can’t wait til going home means going to where Elliot is.

In the meantime, check out our website!

 

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That’s right! It’s official! Last Wednesday Elliot proposed to me, and I could not be happier! It was our first anniversary of being together, and he asked me, I said yes, and then there was a party waiting for us at my apartment!

It was like a dream. <3

Many, many thank yous to all the friends who were at our party, and even more thank yous to the friends who have already started giving us some ideas for the planning! It’s going to be a lot of work, but I am so excited!

(Also many thanks to Scott for some lovely shots from our engagement party!)

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First let me say that I am always planning out my life. Perhaps ‘imagining’ is the right word, instead of ‘planning’. ‘Planning’ connotes actual plans, I suppose, while ‘imagining’ lets me be whomever I please in the confines of my own mind for ten or fifteen seconds. In these constant daydreams, I, like Cinderella, can be whomever I’d like to be (Rogers and Hammerstein? Anyone? Anyone?): someone’s personal assistant in New York, a London local, a bakery owner, a pastor, a wife and full-time mom.

It is this last vision that has swum in and out of my dreams for the last 5 years or so. Before you decide that that is a totally creepy thought, hear me out.

When I began college, I still had the high-school-youth-group mindset that you go to college, get married, have a family, and that’s life. No career necessary. I remember standing in my voice teacher’s room, tearful when she asked me what it was I wanted to do with my life. “I just want to be a mom!” From there, however, I changed directions and threw myself in to my opera studies, deciding that it was opera that was my heart’s desire and not motherhood, as they were a dichotomy.

And then I graduated. And suddenly a career in opera seemed unattainable and, quite frankly, undesirable.

So that’s the background. This all came back up the other week when I read an article on Burnside Writer’s Collective (one of my favorite places online) called “She” by Sarah Thebarge. Sarah wrote a brilliant piece and really managed to encapsulate some of the pressures of being a woman. The bit in the article that grabbed me the most was a section where she explains women’s history to a friend of hers:

For the first few thousand years, women stayed at home. While their husbands hunted and fished, women raised children, made clothes, and cooked the meals.  When the Industrial Revolution began several millennia later, women – especially single women — were free to leave their agrarian, patriarchal homes and venture into the city. They lived in communities and worked full-time.

Then men began to give up their farms and urbanization began, and droves of men came to the cities and took over the factory jobs, forcing women back into the home.  And then came World War II.  So many men were away at war, it became socially acceptable once again for women to leave their homes and take their places in the workforce.  But then the war ended, the GI’s returned, and women were driven back into their home.  Women spent the majority of the ’50s and ’60s at home, and instead of simply being expected, this role was now glamorized and glorified.

And then the feminists reared their heads and let out a roar that shook the country, maybe even the world.  They were independent, militant, vitriolic.  They gave men a scathing review on the way they’d been running society, and attempted a coup.  Once again, women left their homes in droves, determined to assert their intelligence and independence.  But it seems that for many women, this was an empty and unfulfilling pursuit. Many of them also found they could not manage both a household and a full-time job.  So in the ’80s, after a few decades of feminism, women once again retreated back into the home.

“And now we’re in the postmodern era where there is no standard,” I explained to my friend as the dryer buzzed.  “There is no expectation. There are no established roles.  The new message is that women can do anything, which women often interpret to mean they can do everything.  So they try to have a marriage and a career and a family and end up feeling guilty all the time because they never do anything really well.”

This all struck me, because, well, for the past few months, the big question has been “What is my life’s work?” And as getting married in the next few years really seems like a possibility, I start to wonder how that factors into “my purpose”. As a disclaimer, let me say that I’m sure there are women who really do get to have it all–big career and well-raised children (my mother, for one)–but I have started to wonder if maybe my biggest success won’t someday be a couple of crazy kids.

Does that sound crazy? I’m sure to parents it must not be totally off the wall. A few weeks ago at church, we did an exercise where each of us had to complete the sentence “I am…” with something we wanted to be down the road. Two things immediately popped into my mind with almost equal ferocity:  ‘hard-working musician’ and ‘great mom’. ‘Great mom’ won out in the end, and I think was when it hit me: “I really just want to be a mom.”

Obviously, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying to figure out what the heck else I’m supposed to be doing with my time. And for heavens sakes, no, I am not prego, nor do I intend to be for another few years. However, I think it does mean devoting more time to things I love, like music, and not spending too much time working at jobs that aren’t my heart’s desire. I think it means living life beautifully and meaningfully and full of love. This has all been an interesting thought process, and I’m glad to have finally taken some time to pour it out of my fingertips.

Praise be to God that this journey is on-going and ever-evolving.

We drove around a little extra to hear this beautiful song last night:

I roll the window down
and then begin to breathe in
the darkest country road
and the strong scent of evergreen
from the passenger seat as you are driving me home.

then looking upwards
I strain my eyes and try
to tell the difference between shooting stars and satellites
from the passenger seat as you are driving me home.

“do they collide?”
I ask and you smile.
with my feet on the dash
the world doesn’t matter.

when you feel embarrassed then I’ll be your pride
when you need directions then I’ll be the guide
for all time.
for all time.

(death cab for cutie)

I am constantly haunted by these words:

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” (-Annie Dillard)

Constantly.  As I watch forty of my weekly hours pass sitting in an old desk chair staring at my computer or practicing my zen breathing to keep myself from becoming overly frustrated with one of my customers, I can’t help but wonder what I am doing here.

I am twenty-two, wildly passionate and just as wildly lost it seems.  Just a year out of college, I am constantly bombarded with, “Oh, so what are you doing now?”  I find myself trying to make my job sound more interesting than it is.  I’m working for the orchestra!  I’m really enjoying it.

I am treading water.

Fortunately, my job gives me a lot of time to read my daily digest of blogs.  Jon Acuff, author of Stuff Christians Like, wrote this article on his 97 Seconds with God blog.  Jon reminded me that even after David got called to be the king, he went back to the fields to be a shepherd a while longer.

This is a pretty comforting thought.  I know this stage in my “career” isn’t going to be forever.  I am working nearly full-time for basically peanuts with no benefits.  Not that money is really the goal, but I would love to have a job where I could pay all my bills without waiting tables on the side.  If David had to tend sheep, maybe I can sell tickets to some cranky old people.  And let’s be honest people, even Jesus was a carpenter before he was out preaching the good news.

At the same time, however, I feel like I am wasting time.  How I am spending my days is sometimes troubling, and I find myself floundering when someone asks me what it is I really want to do with my life.

I want to love people.  I want to feed the hungry.  I want to see justice happen here.  I want to make music.  I want to be a good listener.  Someday, I want to be a loving wife and mother.

Can it be good enough for me to be in a field right now?  Hopefully good (read:  more interesting) things are on the horizon.  This fall I am hoping to start a seminary program.  I am thirsty for reading and lectures and ideas and papers.  Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?  I can’t wait, and I think that must be a good sign.