30 June 2010


I hope you'll forgive me if the next few posts are a little fractured.  We're still getting things unpacked around here.  One of the things we've brought home with us is this crazy notion that we're--um--married.  We've been saying the words "husband" and "wife" like it's a funny little joke between the two of us.  Because it kind of is, I guess.

I know married couples that prefer not to use those words to refer to one another.  They choose to call each other "partner," an idea that I'm not opposed to, by any means.  Unlike some people, though, I think there are ways to use the word "wife," for instance, without embracing the history of subordination or sexism that "wife" might have once implied.

In a way, my position on this isn't unlike my reasoning for taking my man's last name.  It's easy for the world to understand what I mean when I call my partner-in-crime my "husband."  And he can call me "wife" all he wants.  First of all, I think it's hilarious right now. And it reminds me of the giant commitment we just made to one another.

And it makes me feel a little rebellious, because, in the end, I have all intentions of making "wife" mean whatever I want it to...

While I decide just exactly what that is, I reserve the right to play with all of the old stereotypes.  One of my favorites to riff on--the 1950's housewife--will be a little easier to evoke with the help of a gift I received the morning after our wedding.

My dear Aunt Kathy made this beautiful little apron for me. It has rick-rack--I love rick-rack!--and sweet little pockets for recipe cards and handkerchiefs.

I don't know who made the fabric, but I love that, too.  All in all, it's such a pretty thing that I'm a little apprehensive about wearing it in the kitchen, for fear of getting it dirty.  I'll work up the nerve, though, because I can't let such a great apron go to waste.

And with that, I'm off to the kitchen to make dinner for my man so it's piping hot when he gets home from work tonight.  The best part?  Sooner or later, it will be his turn to make dinner.  And that is what being a wife in my house is all about...


28 June 2010


Two days after the wedding, and my bouquet is doing just fine.  The marriage seems to be going pretty well, too, although that could just be because my man and I have been too tired to do anything but smirk at each other, fiddle with our wedding rings, and giggle every time someone says "husband" or "wife."

We're on a plane back to Seattle tomorrow and maybe back to something like "normal" life.  Hopefully, I'll have some juicy photos to share with you all soon.  I definitely have some thinking to do about the future of the Sparrow in the next few weeks.  (Do let me know, dear readers, if you have any thoughts on that complicated subject.  I really would appreciate some advice on the subject.  Also, I just like to hear from you all...)

For now, though, I am going to just sit for a few hours and do nothing. Weddings make you tired, friends.  They are beautiful and brave and exciting, but man oh man, are they exhausting, too.

I'll be posting again on Wednesday.  After I've had a very, very long nap.

25 June 2010

wedding eve

The ceremony is written.  The coleslaw, potato salad, and corn muffins are made.  The rehearsal dinner is over.  My little sister and her nice young man are constructing our wedding cake in my parents' kitchen.   In less than twenty-four hours, my partner-in-crime and I will be partners-for-life.

From this moment on, I refuse to stress, worry, or flip out.  We're doing this thing, and we're doing it right.  I'll be back after the weekend with a photo or two.  Wish us luck!

23 June 2010

the groom

I've addressed this subject before, but I'm really feeling it this week.  You all know how fond I am of Mouse at Souris Mariage, and I'm almost always in total agreement with her.  Her post yesterday touched on "how to get the guy you're marrying to do one of the things on his checklist."

And, well, look:  I understand that this must be a common thing that girls are dealing with all the time in wedding world.  It's just that, of all the troublesome things I'm wrestling with in these last precious days, my man not doing things is not among the concerns.  If anything, it's kind of been the other way around.  My partner-in-crime is in Getting Things Done mode, and sometimes, it's all I can do to keep up.

He has single-handedly constructed our pig-shaped pinata, a process that's taken almost a week, seven layers of paper-mache, and one very big balloon.

He also ended up being the person to sew together the fifty or sixty feet of pennants that I was very excited about six months ago but never managed to actually assemble.  My dear stepmother offered some initial instruction on the sewing machine, but my man took it from there, sewing away long after I'd called it a night.

He's also managed to transfer our giant wedding music playlist onto a compatible computer, led the charge on both our coleslaw and our potato salad, mowed a giant chunk of my parents' even gianter lawn, reminded me to call the tent rental guy, washed his fair share of canning jars and cute vintage tableware, met with Mike the Pig Roaster to discuss Saturday's game plan, and done pretty much every thing else that seems to suddenly need doing here in the final hours before the Big Day.

Oh, and he's also been spray painting these awesome toy animals for our "table number" scheme.  Yes, we stole the idea from Martha, but since when was that a bad idea?

Here's hoping that those of you that are planning weddings have been fortunate enough to find a partner who wants to share in the fun.  I'm constantly being reminded of what a lucky girl I am.

Three days to go.  This thing is really happening.  There's no going back now...

21 June 2010

to market

If you've been reading awhile, you might recall one teeny tiny detail about our wedding that I haven't made much mention of here: My partner-in-crime and I are making most of the food for our seventy-some guests.

Before you start wringing your hands on our behalf, I'll stress the word most.  We are hiring someone else to roast the pig.  The original plan there was for my man and my foodie brother to roast the pig in a giant hole in my parents' backyard.  Somehow, my folks managed to talk us out of that one.

And dessert is definitely going to be a group effort.  My brother--off the hook with the whole pig thing now--is bringing a few pies.  My Aunt Kathy has pledged two sheet cakes.  "Our" cake--the one that will feature the little cake toppers I've been yammering on and on about--will be made my littlest sister.

Which mostly just leaves the easy stuff to us.  Potato salad, coleslaw, and corn muffins.  And a yet-to-be-determined vegetarian option.  (Yes, we know, the clock is definitely ticking on that one...)

We're using an old family stand-by for the slaw recipe, making the cornbread recipe from the 1976 edition of Joy of Cooking, and looking to Martha for some All-American Potato Salad.

So today, we hit the road with a battle plan, lots of spare shopping bags, and maybe a little bit of trepidation.  Our list looked something like this:

32 lbs potatoes
9 medium heads of cabbage
24 stalks celery
17 bell peppers

And so on.  I'm sure you get the idea.  In all honesty, the food shopping went better than I'd imagined.  We put the priority on local and organic and only had to make a few tough calls.  

Things on the drinks front, though, was a little more challenging.  Everyone on the Internet has advice for you on figuring out how much alcohol to buy to entertain a crowd of seventy people.  Nobody can help you calculate, though, how many people will prefer wine to beer, whether the Pinot Grigio will go down better than the Chardonnay, or who will turn their nose up at a perfectly good IPA.  There was a lot of guessing going on today.  A little bit of arguing and desperation, but mostly guessing.  And we're really, really hoping we guessed right.

We did get a little excited about the beer shopping, though, once we found the "Local Beer" section.  We bought a few "sampler" packs from Great Lakes Brewing Company, some Buckeye Beer, and a Cincinnati classic called Burger to help wrap things up at the end of the night.  We're happy to have lots of Ohio beer to serve at the party.

We were thrilled to see, though, when we finally returned from our shopping market extravaganza, that a nice little treat from Washington was waiting for us.

Our much-anticipated case of cider from Wildfire Cider has arrived! Ohio beer is great, but we're excited to be able to share a real taste of Washington with our wedding guests.  In fact, I very nearly cracked open the first bottle when I opened the box, but I managed to restrain myself.  I'll have to be very, very good about not sampling the wares before Saturday evening rolls around...

Tomorrow, we make the coleslaw.  Wednesday, the potato salad.  The corn muffins don't come until Friday.  Oh, and a vegetarian entree will have to get crammed in there somewhere, too.  Also, there's the pinata. And the pennants.  And I have an awesome new idea for the table numbers.

Nobody panic.  We've got a plan.  Really.

18 June 2010


Eight days and counting.  We've been pecking away at the to-do list, but it seems like something in a Greek myth that grows two new heads for every one that you bravely hack away.  A Hydra.  The to-do list is a Hydra.

Today was a trip to my grandparents' house.  This trip, like every other I've made in recent years, culminated in loading piles of things in the car, things that my grandmother has been "saving" for me.  Some days it's just fresh dill and green beans.  Once, it was a pair of mittens that belonged to my mother.  Today, along with some long-lost stuffed animals and an heirloom piece of embroidery, there were jars.

My grandmother calls them "cans," not jars, and while I understand why, it still sounds funny when I say it.  She says these jars are "green," too, to distinguish them from the clear ones.  

I'll call them blue, instead, but on every other point and detail of home canning, I defer to my grandmother, who has been canning everything from peaches to beets for the past seven decades.  Even today, a trip to her cellar will reveal shelves and shelves full of canned goods from last season--more than she and my grandfather could ever eat.  My grandmother grew up during the Great Depression and to this day, she cannot abide waste.  Of anything.  Including a perfectly good cucumber.

My grandmother obviously hails from an earlier time, and I've made plenty of choices in my life that she disagrees with.  If she thought there was anything strange, though, about our wanting to borrow a boxful of "cans" to stick flowers and candles in at our wedding next weekend, she never showed it.  She just asked how many we'd need, and whether we'd rather have pints or quarts.

We didn't really have solid answers for either question--we are still making some of this up as we go along.  We just took the box that was closest to the door, and we'll be scrubbing them tonight, along with the rest of the thrift store dishes.

I've said this before, but we won't be the first couple in the world to have thrift store china and vintage mason jars at our wedding.  And I've said this before, too:  I don't care.  We're surrounding ourselves with the people we love and the things we like to look at, and I don't think there's a darn thing wrong with any of that.

I told my partner-in-crime that even if we don't end up with flowers to put in them, I still think the jars will look nice on our reception tables. My man laughed a little bit at that, but I'm hoping you'll agree with me...

16 June 2010

the venue

In the midst of the hustle and bustle, the dish inventories, the pinata-making, and, yes, the lingering illness, I have to remind myself to take the time to enjoy the view.

We're holed up for the next ten days (!) at my parents' place, which also happens to be the venue for our wedding.  Unlike plenty of other soon-to-be-weds who barely have a chance to see their rented venues before the big day comes around, we've had plenty of opportunity to walk the property, noting the changes in elevation and enjoying the way the light moves as the day passes.

The house is old, a much-renovated farmhouse that's drifted in and out of my family for the past hundred years or so.  It's the house my grandfather was born in, and when I pointed out for him the osage orange tree we were planning to have our ceremony under, he was quick to note the site's proximity to that of the (long-ago demolished) outhouse.

Outhouse aside, it's still a great old tree, the osage orange.  If you squint a little bit, you can see the iron wagon wheel that's grown into the crook of the tree.  It's about twelve feet off the ground now, and I like to imagine that day however long ago that someone first thought it would be a good idea to lean the wheel there against the base of the tree.

There are plenty of other trees, too, and clearings bordered by green cornfields and wheat that is just starting to turn gold.  When the wind isn't rustling in the leaves, you can hear the neighbor's cows bellowing from down the road.

We probably couldn't have gotten farther from the street noise and pigeons of our little apartment in Seattle if we'd tried.  Still, this is the place where I spent the first eighteen years of my life, and it still feels a little bit like home.  Hopefully, for my man and his visiting family--who weren't lucky enough to be born in the wilds of the Midwest--it will all just feel like a pleasant pastoral vacation...

14 June 2010


How much tableware does it take to feed a wedding crowd of seventy?  Um, a lot.

Fortunately, we did some stockpiling of thrift store finds when we visited Ohio last winter, and now that we've officially got boots on the ground here in the Midwest, it's time to start unpacking the things we stashed and get to work doing lots of dishes.  After an afternoon of counting and calculating, it looks like we've got enough silverware, although the fork situation is still a little tight.

And we're still short on plates.  I think we'll figure it out in the next few days.  We'll just have to hit the thrift stores one more time, which is something I'm almost always looking for an excuse to do, anyway.  We already have a pretty good mix of both dinner plates and dessert plates--some of which are actually saucers masquerading as dessert plates, but we're hoping our guests will be too busy to notice...

And I added to the plate totals by quite a bit when I decided--after some careful consideration--to use my Grandma Sally's Limoges china.  It's pretty stuff, made in 1948 in Ohio, of all places, and while the set's sustained its fair share of chips and cracks over the years, it's still nice to look at.

When I told my dad I was thinking of using it at the wedding dinner, he reminded me that it was "mine," after all, to do with as I pleased.  At the same time, though, he pointed out that things frequently get broken at parties.  He didn't want me to make a decision that I would regret later.  Especially when heirloom china--or something as close as I'll ever get to heirloom china--was involved.

And so, I thought it over, and I decided that there's no sense in having something if you're not going to use it.  And if a plate is going to get broken, I'd much rather have it happen in the midst of our wedding celebration.  What better time could there be for that sort of thing?  I hope my Grandma Sally would agree with me...

Twelve days to go.  And it seems like the to-do list is getting longer, not shorter.  Our first day here has been pretty slow and quiet--have I mentioned that, now that I'm back in the full flush of health, my partner-in-crime seems to be suffering though a respiratory illness of his own?  Everyone is telling us it's the stress, but it's really starting to feel like the universe might be out to get us...

Sick or not, though, we're going to have to get moving.  I'll be back on Wednesday with an update for you all...

11 June 2010

on the move

To those of you who have suggested that living in one place and hosting a big party in another place--one that's, say, two thousand miles away--might be a challenging business:  You were right.

But there's no going back now.  Various boxes and packages have been shipped ahead.  The bags are (mostly) packed.  Our flight out is the day after tomorrow, and once we hit the ground, the days are really going to start flying by.

The next time I write to you, it will be from the scenic flatlands of Ohio.  I'll keep trying to post three times a week, although, at this point, I'm not prepared to make promises.  I'll be around, though, because there are still plenty of things to tell you about.  The food, for instance.  Assembling our favors.  Last minute thrift-store shopping.  Oh, and we still don't really have a ceremony at all, so there's that.

I'll see you all on Monday.  In the meantime, maybe this will get you into a party mood.

09 June 2010

hope chest

Last week, I finally finished reading These Happy Golden Years.  You know, the last of the Little House on the Prairie Books, the one where Laura and Almanzo get hitched at the end.  I got a little sniffly around Chapter 31, when Ma and Laura put the finishing touches on Laura's new bed sheets and pillowcases, just in time for the wedding and Laura's big move to her grown-up, married life.  I just thought there was something simple and sweet about one generation helping the next put the finishing touches on a new household.  It made me a little jealous, like I was missing out on something.

And then yesterday, the package came in the mail.

My darling stepmother, in her infinite wisdom, had packed this little box full of all sorts of small, beautiful things she's collected over the years.  Linen napkins, a table runner, and crocheted doilies!  Oh, and a beautiful pair of pillow cases that Laura Ingalls would have killed for.  

I'm especially in love with this tablecloth, with its hand-stitched edge and lovely little details.


I like picturing a future where I might--I don't know--need a table runner.  Or some gorgeous napkins.  I like imagining the life that we could have, with these little handmade details sprinkled around the edges.

It might sound silly, but the whole thing, along with a sweet note from my stepmom, was enough to make me feel connected, and it gave me the sense that our home--which, don't get me wrong, has been our home together for years now--was somehow more complete.

I don't know.  Maybe it just made me feel loved.  

07 June 2010


I spent most of the day this past Saturday surrounded by smart, funny women.  We had a lovely brunch here and then went to watch these ladies perform amazing feats of female athleticism.   

It was a good day.  There were no stripteases or cakes shaped like male genitalia.  There were no feather boas or plastic tiaras--although I did rock this great tin-foil crown my friend made for me.  I wasn't playing a role or a part.  I was just being me.

And those smart, funny women I mentioned earlier?  They were all of that and more.  I felt lucky to be around them.  I don't spend a lot of time with other girls.  Usually, I'm at work with a bunch of guys or at home with that one special fellow.  Being out last weekend made me think that maybe I've been missing out on some quality girl-time.  I'll have to make a post-wedding resolution to do something about that...

(You might recall that, along with some bachelorette-goodness, another weekend highlight I was anticipating was my last ever issue of Martha Stewart Weddings.  I'm sorry to report that while the bachelorette-goodness exceeded my expectations, the MSW definitely did not.  I thought about trying to explain my general disappointment here, but instead, I think I'll just let Mouse at Souris Mariage speak for us all.)

04 June 2010

happy couple

If I'm going to spend days locked in the house, I'm at least going to get something done.  Here's the latest incarnation of our cake toppers.*  There are still some things I would do differently, if I had the project to do over again, but I've put some good work in, and I'm almost ready to call these kids done.  I'll varnish them with a clear coat, and they'll be dry by the time we tuck them into a suitcase at the end of next week.

There are going to be a lot of things going into suitcases over the next few days.  And maybe a few things shipped, too.  When we first talked about having a wedding two thousand miles away from the place where we live, I don't think we really considered some of the details involved.

We've got most of it figured out, I'm happy to say.  Not all of it, of course.  Where would be the fun in that?  We've still got another twenty-two days to kill, right?

If you've got time to kill, might I recommend a visit to A Practical Wedding?  A few posts in the past week or two have really gotten my brain going.  Like this one about dealing with in-laws (an area I've been particularly lucky in...) or this one about Waiting to Do It.  I'm choosy about my wedding blogs, and I do like the ones with lots of pretty pictures and cute diy projects, but I really think Meg over at APW has got it going on.

I hope you all have a happy weekend.  I've got a lot planned, including some mild bridal/bachelorette celebrating and the inevitable purchase of my final issue of Martha Stewart Weddings.*  Hopefully, you're up to something fun, too.  See you on Monday!

*If you squint, you can see my little blue shoes!
**Yes, I know.  It's a bit too late to be gleaning menu ideas or decorating tips, but this is the very last issue I'll ever be able to rationalize purchasing.  I just want to look at all the pictures.  After this, it's over.  I promise.  I can quit anytime I want to...

03 June 2010


You know, they warn you about this kind of thing.  There's an article in practically every wedding magazine about staying healthy while you wrap up last-minute planning.  They tell you to drink lots of water and watch the caffeine and eat right and get plenty of sleep and to keep the stress in check.

And I did all of that, I tell you.  I really did.  And what do I get for it?  Strep throat.

It's certainly not the end of the world.  Boy, am I glad it's happening now and not, say, twenty-three days from now.  And we've managed to keep most of the wedding prep on track, so it's not like there's a giant to-do list hanging over my head.  (Okay, there kind of is, but I refuse to be afraid of it, at this point.)

Mostly, I am just very bad at being sick.  I don't like lying around all helpless and gross.  I don't like not doing something.  It makes me--itchy.

For now, though, there's me, the antibiotics, a box of popsicles, and the entire second season of Grey's Anatomy.  Another day of two of wandering around the house probably won't kill me.  Maybe it's even a good thing.

02 June 2010


No post today, friends.  If all goes well, I'll be back in this space tomorrow. Please don't be mad.