A Random Read

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Today, I’d love to kick off a week where we discuss all things book-related. Whatta ya say? Are you in?

So, I just finished this Hoda Kotb book and I gotta say, it was a complete impulse purchase. Not to say it’s TOTALLY outside the range of something I would normally read…because, well, under the right circumstances I’d read almost anything. But, other than a slight affinity for the drunken antics of the Today Show’s fourth hour, it IS a pretty random selection. Sometimes I just start reading something in the store or online (Damn you Amazon’s read the first few pages option!!) and then think “Welp, I gotta see this through so I’m either gonna live on this Half Price Books aisle for the next day or so or this puppy’s comin’ home with me.”

This is why I normally just stick to libraries.

Anyways, it was a pretty inspirational read so I thought I’d let y’all know a bit more about it!

A break-down of the book…

In Ten Years Later, Hoda looks at 6 life-changing moments experienced by 6 different people. She then returns a decade later to find out; where are they now? From an athlete suffering chronic seizures to a drug-addicted TV producer, each faced obstacles many would describe as insurmountable. Yet each managed, somehow, to set their life’s course headed in a positive direction. Their stories are incredible and powerful. Their lives reaffirm the idea that resilience and strength can come from adversity.

And each outcome speaks to my personal belief that when you’re face-down on the pavement…there’s nowhere left to fall.

Read if you enjoy…

…the heartwarming segments on news shows like 60 Minutes and Dateline.

In which I imagine a hypothetical situation that would be especially conducive for this read…

Your return flight from a 3-day business trip has been delayed and you have 8 hours to kill before any hope of finding your way onto a plane. You stop by the book shop and pick up this paperback. You make your way to a restaurant where and spot a booth tucked in the corner. Proceed to order 2-3 glasses of wine because you suspect that’s what Hoda would WANT you to do. Your flight delay situation will start to look a WHOLE lot better stacked up against tongue cancer, trust me. (#Perspective) And hey, all the stories come with happy endings so there’s hope for you yet! (#SpoilerAlert)

Are you reading anything good right now? Ever impulse buy a book that surprised you?

Two Poems

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These two poems by Naomi Shihab Nye rank high on my list of favorite poems. They are both so simple and strikingly beautiful. I always like to read poems out loud (something about actually hearing the rhythms and the rhymes make them all the more powerful, don’t you think?). I can’t make it through either of these without reaching a line that makes my voice catch. I thought I’d share them with you in case you’d like to read them today. Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration or power within their lines.

The Traveling Onion

“It is believed that the onion originally came from India. In Egypt it was an object of worship —why I haven’t been able to find out. From Egypt the onion entered Greece and on to Italy, thence into all of Europe.” — Better Living Cookbook

When I think how far the onion has traveled

just to enter my stew today, I could kneel and praise

all small forgotten miracles,

crackly paper peeling on the drainboard,

pearly layers in smooth agreement,

the way the knife enters onion

and onion falls apart on the chopping block,

a history revealed.

And I would never scold the onion

for causing tears.

It is right that tears fall

for something small and forgotten.

How at meal, we sit to eat,

commenting on texture of meat or herbal aroma

but never on the translucence of onion,

now limp, now divided,

or its traditionally honorable career:

For the sake of others,

disappear.

***

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,

you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho

lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,

how he too was someone

who journeyed through the night with plans

and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

It is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend.

(Top image by Matthew Tammaro via here.)

mid-week round-up

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What are you up to this week, friends? I’m hoping to head to the beach tomorrow and relax with some new library books (and maybe a margarita). It feels like Summer should be winding down but here in Miami the temperature tends to disagree. I have a feeling there’s still plenty of beach possibilities ahead. Also, I’m thrilled with how all our wedding posts have turned out. If you’d like to have a browse through all of them you can do so HERE. Thanks to everyone for being so sweet about my rampant over-sharing. Ok, now onto some links…

How Angelina Jolie continues to masterfully control the public narrative around her.

Where was this adorable fairy door when I was a kid?

Silicon Valley’s quest to make periods cool.

Tribes redraw land boundaries with GPS and a fleet of drones.

California might finally be cracking down on…cow farts.

Are we all just manic information addicts?

How Little House on the Prairie built modern conservatism. 

The unusual origins of pink lemonade.

Describing colors to the blind.

They say New York is over-photographed. He disagrees.

Scientific proof that Americans basically eat dessert for breakfast.

Is it still “diversity” or “inclusion” if no one is broke on TV?

Wedding: The Reception

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Finally, our reception! After a delicious gumbo dinner, our guests continued to grab drinks from the bar (Of course we had to include cold cans and bottles of our favorite soda, Ale-8!), munch on home-made cupcakes, and chat.

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Before we cut the cake, our friends gave toasts. I’ve known Chad since high school and Chet and Ganer go way back as well so it was such a treat to have them speak on our behalf. Their speeches were eloquent, beautiful, and funny to boot! I pretty much cry-laughed (Is that a thing?) the whole time.

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Next up, my sister called everyone back into the Performance Hall for a little musical surprise. She performed a mash-up of “Where You Lead” and this Rebecca Lavelle song. (They’re the theme songs of two of our favorite tv shows–Gilmore Girls and McLeod’s Daughters.) It was too perfect!

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Finally, we cranked up a playlist of our favorite songs and cut loose on the dance floor. Above we are serving some Bob the Drag Queen *REALNESS* to Purse First. Below we are spinning, vogueing, and singing along to Lost Bayou Ramblers, RuPaul, and Lady Gaga, respectively.

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In the midst of the revelry, Chet and I made our way upstairs and stole a kiss as our guests cheered below. Such a cheeky but magical moment. Haha!

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And then, as the reception drew to a close, we headed down the street to a nearby bar and enjoyed the company of our friends and family all the way ’til closing time. What an amazing party! I couldn’t have asked for a better reception and that was entirely due to the company we keep. Thank you to everyone who helped us celebrate! We love you!!!

Thank you so much for indulging me as I shared a bajillion posts about our wedding. I hope you enjoyed them. I certainly enjoyed creating them and getting to re-live such a magnificent weekend full of love and loved ones.

Of course, none of these posts would be possible without the beautiful images captured by Sur La Lune Photography. So, immense love and gratitude to Carrie and Ganer for managing to preserve the day exactly as we saw it through our own eyes. You both amaze and inspire me. We will treasure our wedding photos forever and hold you in our hearts for just as long! xoxo

Wedding: Dinner and Dessert

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When it was time to feed our guests, Chet proudly brought up the huge pots of gumbo that had been slowly cooking in the kitchen below all day. (Including a vegan gumbo!) Pretty much as soon as we set our wedding date he decided he wanted to cook our reception dinner himself. Although many folks tried to tell him preparing food would be the LAST thing he’d want to do the morning of his wedding, I’m so happy he didn’t listen, and I think he really enjoyed the opportunity to feed so many of our loved ones.

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We also put out platters of charcuterie, cheese, salad, rolls, and potato salad that we ordered from Good Foods Co-op. Everything was so delicious and looked pretty, too!

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For dessert, my mom baked two kinds of cupcakes. The groom cupcakes, per Chet’s request, were peanut butter and jelly. The bride cupcakes were berry shortcake. My mom doesn’t mess around when it comes to cupcakes. The pb&j had a creamy peanut butter center and the bride cupcakes were stuffed with a little pocket of fresh berries.

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And the lovely Good Foods Co-op bakery made us this tiny, two-tier cake. Isn’t it adorable?

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(Chet’s boutonniere is from Michler’s Florist + Greenhouse. The chalkboard labels were purchased at Office Depot and we got the 3-tier cupcake display on Amazon.)

(Photos by Sur La Lune Photography.)

mid-week round-up

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Hi friends! What’s going on in your world this week? Chet and I are putting plans in place for an October trip to Louisiana. (Remember this? We’re hoping to hit up Festivals Acadiens again. Mmmmm, crawfish potatoes!) Hope your day is spectacular, and if you’re in an internet-y mood, here are 12 links to keep you clicking…

Customs that are totally normal in some countries, but weird everywhere else.

The agony and ecstasy of dating at a strict Christian college.

Re-tracing a rail adventure across half the continent to Haight-Ashbury.

Archaeologists are discovering how fugitive slaves kept their freedom deep in the swamps.

Why do tourists visit ancient ruins everywhere except the United States?

Stacy London on ageing and style.

Extreme hunger is tearing apart Venezuela.

Mother Teresa: Martyr or Myth?

Ann M. Martin talks The Babysitters Club and rebooting another children’s series.

Why doesn’t Keeping Up With the Kardashian’s show nannies?

The consequences of monetizing your bliss.

So, this is going down in Lexington.

Wedding: The Ceremony

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Now, for my favorite part of the day…the ceremony! Chet and I chose to walk down the aisle together. So, here we are gearing up for the processional. When I saw these pictures I did a serious *face-palm* when I realized I’m holding my bouquet at heart-level when just moments before the ceremony my mom had coached me on their proper positioning down by the belly button. Whoops!

In any case, I loved this moment right before the music cued up. The lighting was exactly how I pictured it and it felt so heart-warming to have so many important people from my life under one roof.

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My talented sister graciously provided all the musical accompaniment for the ceremony. She has a voice like an angel and learned how to play all our music requests on the ukulele! We entered to “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles.

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Our friend Ben officiated our ceremony. For years, Chet and I have looked up to him as a writer and speaker so it felt like such an honor to have him provide both these talents for our wedding. He walked us through each part of the ceremony with ease. And then gave the most beautiful address, equal parts funny and deeply moving, that still makes me tear up to think about.

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Finding the perfect readings was a challenge I happily welcomed yet hadn’t banked on being so difficult. In the end, we settled on three pieces that I absolutely loved.

First up, Chet’s cousin Maddie read “Mysteries, Yes” by Mary Oliver.

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous

to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the

mouths of the lambs.

How rivers and stones are forever

in allegiance with gravity

while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds

will never be broken.

How people come, from delight or the

scars of damage,

to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those

who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say

“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,

and bow their heads.

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Next, our dear friend Adam performed “The Country of Marriage” by Wendell Berry. Spoiler alert: Chet and I both cried.

I.

I Dream of you walking at Night along the streams

of the country of my birth, warm blooms and the nightsongs

of birds opening around you as you walk.

II.

This comes after silence. A man lost in the woods in the dark,

I stood still and said nothing. And then there rose in me,

like the earth’s empowering brew rising

in root and branch, the words of a Dream of you

I did not know I had dreamed. I was a wanderer

who feels the solace of his native land

under his feet again and moving in his blood.

I went on, blind and faithful. Where I stepped

my track was there to steady me. It was no abyss

that lay before me, but only the level ground.

III.

Sometimes our life reminds me

of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing

and in that opening a house,

an orchard and garden,

comfortable shades, and flowers

red and yellow in the sun, a pattern

made in the light for the light to return to.

The forest is mostly dark, its ways

to be made anew day after day, the dark

richer than the light and more blessed,

provided we stay brave

enough to keep on going in.

IV.

I give you what is unbounded, passing from dark to dark,

containing darkness: a Night of rain, an early morning.

I give you the life I have let live for the love of you:

a clump of orange-blooming weeds beside the road,

the young orchard waiting in the snow, our own life

that we have planted in the ground. I give you my love–and this poem,

no more mine than any man’s who has loved a woman.

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Then, my brother Andy read from a letter John Steinbeck wrote to his son about falling in love. It lightened the mood and set the stage perfectly for our vows!

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning.

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so.

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Throughout the ceremony I relished sneaking peeks at our loved ones, especially our parents who were sitting right in the front row and appeared to be beaming!

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I was most nervous about our vows. However, once we were in the midst of reciting them, everything else seemed to melt away and I didn’t even notice we were standing in front of an audience.

Chet made a card using one of Corita Kent’s prints (I mentioned her on the blog HERE.) to write his vows inside, and quoted the work within the vows themselves. It was all very moving.

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Finally, we signed our marriage certificate. Our friends Ganer and Katie acted as our witnesses (and also held on to our rings until the big exchange😉. Thanks y’all!

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And then Ben declared that we were “serving marital REALNESS!” 

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And we kissed to seal the deal…

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And I SQUEEEED!

Our recessional song was “Emmylou” by First Aid Kit (which my sister does a beastly version of; seriously, you should hear it!). Afterwards, there was definitely a sense of WE DID IT…now let’s party! And party we did. More tomorrow!

(Photos by Sur La Lune Photography.)

Wedding: Bride and Groom

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As I mentioned yesterday, Chet and I chose to see each other before our ceremony, so we were able to sneak away for a special photo-shoot before our guests arrived. Our photographer, Carrie, is an absolute genius when it comes to scouting locations for beautiful portraits. She found so many meaningful and fun places for us to play…and snapped so many great shots along the way! Hanging out with her, Ganer, and my husband-to-be in an antique store ended up being one of my favorite memories from the whole day!

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Meandering around Downtown Lexington on this little photo excursion was so romantic and intimate, and the perfect way to kick-off our wedding festivities together. If you’re planning a wedding (and planning to see each other before the aisle), I HIGHLY recommend building a little time into your day for some one-on-one time with your partner (+ photographer!!!).

Now, let’s go get hitched! xoxo

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(My dress is from ModCloth and my shoes are kelly + katie. Chet’s suit is Joseph Abboud. His boutonniere was created by Michler’s Florist and Greenhouse. The antique store pictured is Heritage Antiques and is located on N Broadway in Lexington, KY.)

(Photos by Sur la Lune Photography.)