Pre-wedding: the last minute details

As I mentioned earlier this week there was a good sized gap between the Saturday of Stina’s Bridal Shower  and our Thursday Girls Day (and Night) Out.  As the future sister-in-law it was hard to be far away from family apart from the wedding planning of my only sibling. So I was ready and willing to help with those last minute wedding details during the week before the wedding.


wedding week planning board

Monday I took a halfday-break and spent some quality time with a good college friend and her son. The outing included ferry rides, joining in some of her day errands, playing outside with her son and their dog, picking up some yogurt, then heading back on the afternoon ferry. By 3pm I was back running errands and doing wedding prep with the families.


pedi relax time


Tuesday’s highlight was getting some good TLC time just the Mom’s and daughters. We went out to get our nails done and some lunch. Stina got both a mani and pedi while catching up on pop culture info she’d been too busy with wedding planning to notice.



hyped up on caffeine prepping flower girl baskets

In between Tuesday and Wednesday the family worked on a large variety of wedding details. Taking turns spending time together, eating meals, and drinking a ton of coffee. My family also ran back and forth from Joann’s and Micheals’ several times in those few days gathering ribbon, silk flowers, fabric, stationary, easels, and more.


wrapping tea cups for the reception


The garden prepped to be the ceremony space

We tied ribbons on the favor jars, created chalk signs for the reception and ceremony space. We helped with music selections, the boys prepped the yard and created lines for people to park in the field. My mom and I decorated the flower girl baskets . My dad helped in the yard and pack and organize resources for the reception.



prepping chalkboard signs

I worked with other bridesmaids to fold napkins, ceremony programs, and prep table runners for the reception space. Whenever we finished one thing we started work on another asking what was next until we all decided to call it quits for the evening. During which whoever was available to help would gather to eat, talk, and relax.


beautiful garden flowers in the front yard

Although it can sometimes feel stressful to have such a long list to accomplish it is great to know you have a back up team to help you get to that wedding day. It was amazing to see two families get to know each other, communicate, and learn to work around and with each other. It was a great opportunity for us to learn to be there for Matt and Stina and live (even if only for a week) as one family.

Matt and Stina know that they are truly blessed with great friends and strong families who are more than willing to pitch in to make what is important to them happen.

Smoke on the Water

This past Saturday afternoon we chose to check out yet another local event. We drove up past where Luke works to Hammondsport for Smoke on the Water, a local BBQ competition benefitting the fire department. I have mentioned Hammondsport on one other occasion (see stars hollow, fireworks, and minions) but if you didn’t get a chance to read-up on it, Hammondsport is a quaint town full of bed and breakfasts at the base of Keuka lake and the Keuka wine trail.


Now I know it seems like this summer I have talked a lot about BBQ (if you want more reading see Kayaking and BBQ, or Racefever and local BBQ). But I have discovered it is a favored food of Lukes (and why wouldn’t it be for a meat-loving male) as well as it seems to be one of the big “things” for summer around here.


If you recall, this is not our first summer BBQ competition. Back in July we drove up to Rochester and attended their BBQ and Blues Fest (see two festivals and korean BBq). But were sadly disappointed that although the BBQ places represented were well known there were only four of them. Also in order to even taste the food you had to buy a ticket to get in, and a plate of their expensive food. Not what we were expecting.



Smoke on the Water was almost the exact opposite.  Walking past the baseball field to the fire department’s lawn we looked around, the place was packed! There were more than 14 BBQ competitors , many had set up their 5th wheels behind their booth for the weekend. There was everything from Mom and Pop recipes to professionals trying to get in on a cash prizes.


We found out when we arrived at the beginning of each hour from 1-4pm a new category of meat would be available for sampling: chicken, ribs, brisket, and pulled pork. And only 6 bucks for unlimited samples!  At the end of the hour they collected the public’s voting cards.


We realized then if we had come at 1pm we would have gotten plenty of tasty meat samplings all afternoon. People were rounding booth after booth with little sample cups in hand. A band played while groups socialized and drank. In case the voting public got hungry in between samples, the fire department was selling french fries, a local restaurant was selling clams and lobster, and there was beer and wine sampling available. Or if someone had a sweet tooth after the salty meat they could head to a booth for floats or ice cream.


There were also plenty of activities including  a 50/50 raffle and silent auction, a cake wheel (instead of walk), and several kids activities.



Since we’d come so late in the competition we decided it wouldn’t be worth the money to sample (there was only one category left). So instead we went to one booth selling meals and for 13 bucks got the Garbage Plate to-go.



When we got home and un-packed our garbage plate we realized it was a giant plate perfect for sharing between the both of us. There were at least 6 pieces of brisket, a good portion of pulled pork, at least 3 ribs, 3 large butter garlic potatoes, and a good helping of other sides: coleslaw, a pickle, baked beans, and pasta salad. It was all amazing and delicious.

My portion

My portion

Luke's half eaten portion

Luke’s half eaten portion

We now know that this is an event worth coming to and the earlier the better.

Have you discovered any local events worth returning to year after year?

Raspberry Cheesecake Popsicles


About two week’s ago I shared my second popsicle recipe of the summer (see Tropical Banana Creamsicles). In that post I hinted at trying two new recipes but only gave you one. (Did anyone read that post carefully and notice this detail?) Well here’s the second one.


I happened upon one of those rare occasions where berries were on sale at the grocery store. So I found an excuse to buy some yummy healthy antioxidants: Raspberry Cheesecake Popsicles.


As with my other popsicles/creamsicles etc.,  I try my best to make them a treat but not a high calorie dessert. This particular recipe may yield between 6-8 popsicles. If the recipe makes 6 then they are 80 calories each if it makes 8 then 60 calories each etc.



1 to 1 1/2 C 1% milk

1/2 C plain greek yogurt

1 packet dry sugar free cheesecake pudding mix
3/4- 1 C fresh raspberries
Even simpler then my 3-step instructions for the Tropical Banana Creamsicles.
1. Cream Base: mix together greek yogurt, milk, and dry pudding mix
2.  Fruit: fold in fresh (or defrosted) raspberries
note: if you want whole berries then you are better off using fresh. If you don’t mind the popsicle having a stronger raspberry flavor then you can defrost the berries and they will mix in with the pudding more.
Variations: For a few extra calories you can add some chocolate syrup or chocolate chips, use lemon pudding mix instead of cheesecake or 1/2 and 1/2 it, or choose a different berry.
Last of all:

-Spoon or pour mixture into popsicle molds

-Let sit in freezer for a least 4-5 hours


Hint: If popsicles are a little hard to get out of the mold run them under a little warm water while applying pressure to the stick.


Then Enjoy!!!

What is your favorite type of berry? Cheesecake flavor? 

Girls Day (and Night) Out

This past week I shared about my now sister-in-law’s bridal shower (see Stina’s Bridal Shower). Saturday to Thursday afterward was a blur of errands, small details, and quality time with the Moseng family (some of which I’ll share later).

But skipping ahead to more fun, all the bridesmaids arrived in town Wednesday night and Thursday for the Bachlorette party. Similar to the suggestions about creative bridal pary gifts, (see Tell them Thank you) Stina decided instead of giving us a present, she provide us with some quality time making our present.


So all of the bridesmaids, close female friends, moms, and flowergirls (and their Mom) all went to the Dancing Brush Studio, a pottery decorating place downtown Pouslbo. We had reservations for a large table, which the owners decorated with balloons. One of Stina’s bridesmaids had decorated bright blue T-shirts for us bridesmaids and Stina to wear for our girls day out.


We each had our choice of a specific price range of objects to paint. I chose a round mug. Many people chose to go with a theme in the colors of Stina’s wedding.


Mine was unfinished on the outside with blue dots and a blue colored handle. The inside of the cup I painted bright yellow with a blue H for Halvorson on the bottom. I told Stina that every time I use this cup for tea or coffee I will think and pray for them.


It was a enjoyable afternoon listening to folk music and having the place mostly to ourselves. We got a chance to get to know everyone and learn about people’s creative sides as they painted their cups, mugs, and other clay items.


Stina guessed that there were plans for a follow up party but didn’t know what we were actually doing. Stina’s sister Elisabet and I had been planning this over the past weekend, picking up supplies at party stores and pulling the last minute details together. We also somehow mysteriously ended up showing up together and late to the pottery decorating session (so we could secretly decorate for later).


After we were done with our pottery pieces (which would be mailed to us later) the Mom’s and young ones left and it was only us girls. Elisabet had sneakily packed a pretty little lace dress for Stina to wear for her night on the town. Slowly each one of us snuck away also to change out of our art clothes and into some fun dresses and skirts.


With zebra print goodie bags filled with taffy, chocolates, ring pops and mini comb tiaras in hand we went to the nearby downtown coffeeshop. Stina leading the way while wearing her beautiful plastic princess bridal crown, we talked and hung out enjoying the weather outside the coffee shop.


Making Stina close her eyes and spin around, we guided her to our next designation: dinner. We walked her up the steps to this little bistro called Mor Mor  downtown Poulsbo. Mor Mor is a quaint restaurant with an extensive wine list and many delicious dinner options. They had a great selection of soups, salads, small plates, appetizers, and pasta dinners so that everyone was happy.


After an enjoyable dinner, we all piled into cars and carpooled back to the Moseng house. When all the girls arrived they found the dinning room table decorated in pink and black ready for a dessert bar. This particular party was covered in plenty of wonderful sugary treats.


The table was prepped for decorating your own cupcakes. One of Elisabet’s friends had made amazing from scratch chocolate kalhua cupcakes which the girls then decorated with fresh vanilla or raspberry frosting and pink or pearl sprinkles. In the center of the tables were also berry blast Oreos, pink and white mints, new york patties, and watermelon drops (Stinas favorite fruit).


We took our treat and sat down to enjoy watching Stina open her gifts.


After gifts were given, we transitioned to round two of the dessert bar (did I mentioned plenty of sweets) and opened up several types of ice cream and topped it off wtih fudge, carmel, whip cream, cherries (the whole deal).


We then took our frozen treats downstairs where the last phase of the night was to be set up for one of Stina’s favorite movies: Ever After. As several of us quoted along with Drew Barrymore and the rest of the cast (yours truly included) we also discussed the following day: Rehearsal.


Thursday was a break from all wedding planning, focused solely on celebrating with female friends and family.  It was so much fun to show Stina that her “sisters” knew what would be fun, comfortable, and very “Stina” for her last single girls night out.


Walkins Glen State Park=Gorge-ous

This past weekend we decided to take advantage of these days of amazing weather and get outdoors. As I mentioned last week (see Racefever and local BBQ) Walkins Glen is well known for it’s racetrack. But it also the base for Seneca Lake and many natural waterfalls, most of which are found in Walkins Glen State Park.


We have driven through town and past the state park many times but hadn’t taken the time to explore it. For eight bucks we parked our car in the bottom lot and walked toward the entrance to the Gorge Trail.


Unlike other state parks trails I’ve explored, the beauty and photo worthy views start at the very beginning. Out of the side of the mountain you can see the first of 19 waterfalls flowing down under a walking bridge. To enter the Gorge Trail you climb a set of stairs through the rock wall and across the bridge. The tourist buses actually drive to the south or upper entrance and then guide guests down to the lower entrance, this way the tourist get some of the best views last.


The following path is a slow incline of several step-ups and sets of stairs. The concrete and stone paths are wet and muddy in places as waterfalls flow from both the left rock path and the right gorge view.


Only so many words can describe the many breathtaking views. The further up we went the less congested it became until we reached the suspension bridge which crosses the gorge over to the aouth entrance where there is a lodge, restaurant, snack bar, and public swimming pool.


We chose to finish the Gorge Trail.  As we ascended, we reached a set of rail road tracks set high above the gorge. A historical sign indicated it used to have a steel reinforced beam centered in the Gorge’s waterway but it was destroyed in a 1930’s flood. The bridge is now reinforced on either side of the Gorge instead.  We came to the upper entrance by late afternoon. Taking a break to get water, we looked around. Probably the smallest of entrances, it boasts only a bathroom, snack bar with outdoor picnic tables, and playground.


When we were ready, we decided to take the Indian trail (one of the two rim trails) back down. I am sure this trail would be beautiful to walk again during the fall foilage. We traced the gorge and water down hill on the right, passing hill sides full of trees on the left.


We cut back to the Gorge Trail for the last .25 mile and got one last chance to take a few pictures of the beautiful waterfalls without the foot traffic  (the tour /shuttle buses had stopped running).


In all it was a beautiful afternoon outing and we left right before the sun began to set.

What did you do last weekend?

Stina’s Bridal Shower

So you must think I’d  forgotten my promise to share all the wonderful details from my brother’s wedding. Well, I hope you haven’t lost interest, because I am finally ready to dole out the details.


I arrived late on Friday night July 26th after a day of airport travels. The next day was Stina’s Bridal Shower. That morning was spent catching up with my mom while enjoying some much needed coffee and packing presents for the shower.


Now before I share about the shower, let me answer one question: How do you creatively gift-give for a bridal shower on a budget /when you are traveling across country? 

Answer: Instead of picking off the registry, I choose to create several smaller items.


Item 1: I found a basic pictured frame at Target for less than 10 dollars and filled it with a photo from my brother’s proposal (printed at a local pharmacy)


and their engagement announcement/save the date card.


With a little help from double stick tape and card stock it all came together wonderfully. Since I was traveling via three different planes, I wrapped the glass frame in some bubble wrap and layered it between a few shirts in my luggage. Total cost: 12 dollars


Item 2: Also from Target , in the 1 dollar section I found a small makeup bag/pouch which I filled with relax/spa goodies.


Wedding planning can be so stressful so I thought: why not pack a little pick-me up? I found a sleep mask for 2 dollars, a sample size stress relief lotion from Bath and Body Works worth probably 2/3 dollars.


Then I added in some Yogi detox and stress relief tea I already had around the house. Last touch was a hand written coupon for 2 free massages with an expiration date of the day after the wedding. Total cost: 5 to 6 dollars



Item 3: I found a old fashioned metal recipe tin decorated with red and yellow daises on Etsy for 13 dollars.


My mom and I partnered up to fill the tin with recipes that we know my brother likes. Total cost: 20 dollars including shipping (it can cost less if it’s a joint gift with other family members).


Now to the shower: That evening we piled into cars with all the presents and drove to the Moseng’s family church. The ladies of the church had decorated the room in shades of pink and yellow.


Chairs were lined up to face a windowed wall were a couch was centered for the guest of honor. Tea cups full of lemon drops sat on side tables covered in doilies and mason jars filled with fresh flowers.


A gift table was stationed on the right and a drink station on the left serving tea, and two types of lemonade.


The fun started with a game in which the engaged women in the room had to try to put makeup on Stina’s flower girls while blindfolded. The rest of the women verbally direct the girls as to where to put the makeup.


Following this, a women of the church shared a devotional and prayed for Stina. Then all women  were given the chance to share advice about marriage while Stina’s sister as quickly as possible wrote the words of wisdom down.


After this everyone took a break to enjoy vanilla cupcakes, chocolate cake, and fruit salad.


Both Moms enjoying the shower


While everyone ate, Stina began to open gifts. A system was formed: her sister would write down the gifts, the flower girls would hand me the ribbons to make the practice/rehearsal bouquet, then the mothers collected the gifts or cards.


Stina received many wonderful gifts, tea set from her grandmother, plenty of cooking supplies, and from my mother as she did with me (see Happy Mother’s Day) a homemade quilt in floral blues, yellows, and greens.


Three generations


It was a great start to a week of wedding events and most of all Stina enjoyed every moment of it.


My ribbon bouquet “masterpiece”

Taste of Ellicottville

After a week back home re-seettling into our normal routine, we realized we had an long standing plan to go with a co-worker of Luke’s and his wife to a tasting festival Saturday in Ellicottville.

We had high hopes for this tasting event, enough to make it worth getting up early on our day to sleep-in. After an hour drive during which we fueled up on to-go cups of coffee, we met Jon and Cathy and carpooled with them for another hour before reaching Ellicottville.


We arrived around noon and stood in line to buy 20 dollars worth of tickets. Ellicottville is  located between two large ski resorts and boasts several well known festivals year round. With it’s own brewery and winery and unique stores it is obvious it is used to tourism year round.


After getting our tickets we took a look at our menu map indicating where each local restaurant had set up their booth, what was being offered, and how many tickets each tasting would be. The variety and options were amazing. There is no way that even if Luke and I got different things to eat the we could have sampled everything.


We decided to start with Centerplate mahi mahi fish taco with a mango salsa and habenero cream sauce.  It had a great sweet, tangy start with a kick. We realized quickly that at each booth there was plenty of time to  socialize, we would need to got accustomed to waiting in lines today.


Next we crossed the down town block to Balloons where we sampled some of their buffalo and sweet thai chicken wings.  In heighn sight I think we got too many of the tangy vinegar wings (6 for 4 tickets) the name of the game here is to take tiny portions so you can sample more before getting full.


After a hearty snack (the portion of my normal lunch) we headed to the Ellicottville Brewing Co. Stepping onto their crowded back patio we found some benches around the fire pit lit to keep the bugs away in spite of the warm weather. Luke ordered a sampler and Jon and Cathy enjoyed some light brews.


Then we moved on in search or more delicious treats. Heading up the main street we got bacon jalepeno slices from Katy’s Cafe  that definitely had the expected warm after-burn. Crossing the street we then got in line for Dinas who had both a dessert and food table. Luke and I decided to share a sample of their spinach ravioli. Their red sauce was fresh, simple, and very authentic Italian.  (Let’s just say Luke and I both had planned to scrape the remaining sauce from it’s container.)


We walked a little further down the street and came across Watson’s Chocolates. For 3 tickets I bought a chocolate covered salted carmel pack of two dark chocolate and two milk so Luke and I got one of each. They were chewy, creamy, and just the right combo of sweet and salty.


By now I was getting beyond full and I could tell so was everyone else. So we decided to walk around and explore what other restaurants we hadn’t tasted from. We spotted a kebab and curry place, a place selling mexican and smoothies, another selling shepherds pie and Guinness mac ‘n cheese . They all sounded wonderful but we were full and decided to save our last few dollars for some take-away dinner.


But we weren’t quite ready to leave. After picking up a few more tickets for dinner food, we decided to check out a few of the stores including a three story narrow storefront devoted only to selling socks. We then crossed the street and did a wine tasting at the Winery of Ellicottville.


After this we decided we were done exploring and ready to pick up our dinner from Riley’s : two servings of large portioned ribs and blueberry cheesecake.


Overall for about 30 dollars, Luke and I got lunch, dinner and dessert for both meals. Any of these foods would have costed much more in the restaurant, even if ordered a la carte. As we headed back to the car, we decided this was one festival we would be more than willing to explore again next year.


Jon had mentioned the Cuba Cheese Shoppe on the trip to Ellicottville earlier in the day to which Luke (the cheese lover) perked up. So on the way back we took a country route that led us through Cuba.


Once inside we started of course at the sampling table which included local sharp chedders, amish swiss, and surprisingly Tillamook cheese (a cheese factory located on the Oregon coast Luke and I went to on our honeymoon -told you Luke was a cheese guy).


We wandered their store full of sauces, candies, dried fruits and nuts, and of course plenty of cheese wedges, slices, curds, and spreads. Luke and I picked up a few goods and we were once again on the road.


By 5pm we were back from our all-day outing.  An hour or two later Luke was ready and excited for our dinner. We split the juicy ribs and made a spinach salad topped off with some sharp cheddar cheese  balsamic vinaigrette. We ended it all with our blueberry cheesecake.


What did you do last weekend?