Celebrating 4 years

As of today, Luke and I have been married for four years!

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The past four years have been a great learning experience. Being completely on our own on the east coast we have learned to how to give each other space and still enjoy large amounts of time together.

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Most of the time we have lived here we have been each other’s only family and at times only friend. This has drawn us very close together. During this time we bought our first home, learned how to train a puppy, and bought a car. We have learned what our roles looked like as husband and wife, and how to balance our responsibilities since both of us work.

We are now ready and looking forward to learning what it is like to live as a couple near friends and family as well as to start a new life for ourselves, with new friends.

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This year’s anniversary celebrations are a little different. This past weekend we went to the Cohocton Fall Foliage Festival and picked up our annual apples, cider, and cider doughnuts.

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It was great that this year there was no cold rain to dampen the fun, but the air was definitely chilly.

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We plan tonight on going to Ember, our new favorite restaurant in the area to celebrate after I get off work.

Normally I make an elaborate apple dessert in memory of  our wedding in apple country in SoCal. But this year we do not have time for anything fancy. So I will probably make some fried apples to go with any leftover apple cider doughnuts.

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The reason for our subdued and hurried celebration is that tomorrow afternoon we leave for Washington state for almost a week trip to try to find a place to live. We are looking forward  to exploring the area we will be living in and re-connecting with people we know in the area.

Celebrating 3 Years

Luke and I have been married now for three years.

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Us while we were still dating, amazing that it’s been 4 years

They have been full of adventure, challenges, and changes, many of which I have put on this blog, but we are glad we have gone through them all together.

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To celebrate we went this past Saturday to see the musical broadway tour of Newsies in Rochester.

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We also got sushi from our favorite place, our sushi chef surprised us with these rolls including one with strawberry on top, spicy sauce, and yellowtail and avocado inside.

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And for dessert we had homemade apple pie at home .

We both have today and tomorrow off from work, a much needed break and blessing. We are taking this time to re-focus, get some time together, and get a few things accomplished as winter creeps up on us.

Lessons Learned: Round 1

The past two weekends have not gone the way we thought or wanted them to. So we chalk them up to lessons learned-lessons I’ll share with you.

Memorial Day weekend, our engagement anniversary, we decided to get a couples massage and go out to dinner. We found a massage place through groupon in the Pittsford area near Rochester. The massage was great, it was afterward things went down hill.

I had taken a two year break from Indian food after a bad cashew curry reaction. To learn more about my tree nut allergy go to why I am tree-nut free. But we had another groupon for a Henrietta based Indian restaurant and I thought it was time I finally try again. We were extra cautious with our meal choice we also asked what oils they use to cook with and they reassured us no nut oils were used.

Still I had a few bites of rice, chicken, then I ate a green pepper and my lip started to blister and swell. I know I am not allergic to green peppers, I eat them almost every week. So I knew it was cross-contamination of cashew oil, possibly something was cooked in the same pan etc.

Lesson Learned: No Restaurant Indian food, especially for date night.

The date ended with my husband at Target getting me benadryl and ginger ale.  I will from now on learn to make curries etc. in my tree-nut free home kitchen.

Niagara Falls Anniversary Part 2: Wine tours and Italian dinner

In review, Friday night at the The Keg in Embassy Suites  we had a partial view of the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Afterwards we walked around the  tourist area filled with haunted houses, wax and world record museums, children amusement parks and arcades, and much more! Although we are not into these tourist traps they are pretty fun to walk by lit up at night. Here are some pictures:

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Saturday (our actual anniversary)  we packed up our things at the Best Western and checked out. The Best Western had given us a 15$ off card to use at IHOP and although we do not often go there we thought we’d save the money where we could. So we ordered one meal to split of whole wheat blueberry pancakes and an omelet.  The waitress came back and said the fine print on our coupon said we had to order two entrees to get the 15 off. We understand having to follow the rules of the coupon but it was a little frustrating and disappointing to find this out after we’d already eaten.

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We then chose to walk off the carbs (and our annoyance) down the hill to the Canadian view of the falls along the Niagara River Recreation Trail. It was another beautiful sunny day and there were plenty of pedestrians and tour buses alike taking in the view. We followed along from the American Falls down to Horseshoe falls. As we got closer to Horseshoe falls we needed to put our sunglasses on the mist reflecting light from the sun was creating quite a glare. At the end of the falls trail it felt like we were back on the Maid of the Mist standing in a thin rain cloud as we listened and watched gallons of water flow over the edge is seconds.

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After our walk, we got back to our car, found directions, and drove to Niagara-on-the-Lake to local wineries. We first went to Pellar Estates Winery. This large vineyard/winery is probably one of the oldest in this area known for it’s fertile ground and good weather. We brought our groupon vouchers to the front desk after wandering the tasting room and got set up for the winery tour. At 1:30pm we went with a large group to learn about the Pellar winery. The tour was extremely educational, out in the vineyard we got a change to hear about how the soil is conditioned differently for each type of grape, how the grape vines are kept and pruned, when the grapes are picked based on the varieties and how they use a eco-friendly pest control prevention system.

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Next we were  taken into their wine cellar were the wine barrels are kept. Our tour guide informed us about the different barrel types used, the varieties in woods/materials the wine is fermented in, and changes in fermenting times.  Last of all we were taken to a table to taste their wine. The tour guide explained the wine connoisseurs process of three tastings for each wine: one to clean the palate, one to taste the oxygen in the wine, and last to get the full flavor. We tried three varieties, a pinot noir, a chardonnay , and one of their regionally famous very sweet ice wines.

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Getting back in the car, we followed the wine trail to Trius Winery, another winery owned by the Pellar family. This tour was less formal or informative but we did get a chance to learn a little about Trius’ specialty which was sparkling wines and see where these wines are fermented in the bottle. We were then taken to a garden to taste another one of their ice wines, and their traditional white and red. This was my first day doing a wine tasting at an actual winery but I was grateful for having experienced tasting wine where we live in the Finger Lakes area (for more on this see 2300 degreeslocal food and winecabin fever ). We decided that the Niagara area wine was not for us, they were either too light and acidic or too sweet. It may be that we are becoming partial to our local region.

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We decided to not drive another half hour into the country to check out the last winery and instead headed back to the Falls area. We checked into the Sheraton hotel around 5:00pm; in time to relax a little before getting ready for dinner. In contrast from our previous hotel, this place was large, spacious, and connected to a casino, a Starbucks in the lobby,  several stores, restaurants, and even a water park! Dressing up for a wonderful dinner out we took the walk way to the Crowne Plaza Hotel and up to the 10th floor to Massimo’s Rainbow Room, a more formal Italian dinning room.

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We made reservations months ago when we got the groupon for $40 towards a dinner there to celebrate our anniversary night. We were ushered in low lighting to a white table clothed table for two right up against a glass window over looking the falls at sunset. It was beyond beautiful. Sadly we did not bring a phone or camera with us to dinner so we will just have to keep that dinner and moment in our memory. When the sunset we enjoyed watching the falls light up with varying colors as we ate a delicious dinner. Luke ordered the steak I ordered a rack of lamb but we shared. (for a more detailed description of the menu click here ).

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What the restaurant looks like in the daylight

After our wonderful dinner, we headed back down the elevator and on to see what our other vouchers for the evening would get us. We started at the Hard Rock Cafe  where we had two free cocktails at the bar. After enjoying our rum and cokes by lava lamp (seriously they had mini lava lamps all across the bar) we headed over to Hershey’s for a sweet finish.

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After standing in line at their candy store we turned in our voucher and out came a box that the cashier said contained two cupcakes. We walked back to our hotel room and opened our dessert to find one chocolate and one white cupcake with vanilla frosting topped each with a Hershey’s kiss. After dessert we cuddled up on our king size bed to watch our wedding video for the first time. It was great to look back and laugh at the small details or reactions from family and friends we were too nervous or preoccupied to notice the day-of.

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I didn’t get a picture of our actual goodies but here’s what they had in the store

Sunday we slept-in, Luke tried his luck at the casino for a brief hour  and then we checked out of the hotel. We hit the road back home in the middle of surprising noon traffic back over the bridge to America. After a long wait at the border we were on the road to Buffalo and eventually back home. It was one wonderful weekend to celebrate a crazy busy and challenging first year of marriage!

Niagara Falls Anniversary Part 1: Maid of the Mist and Prime Rib

Well we are getting back to our normal weekly routine after an amazing sunny anniversary weekend. As promised here are some great pictures and details from our anniversary trip to Niagara Falls:

We left on Thursday around 5:00pm and drove the three hours north to Niagara Falls avoiding toll roads as much as possible. By around 8:00pm we were at the boarder crossing with our new passports and for the first time together crossed over to Canada. We checked in at the Best Western, dropped off our bags then went in search of a late dinner.

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Since we bought two separate Groupon Getaways we had several vouchers for food and activities, plus the hotels threw-in several extras with our room keys. For the most part this made planning our weekend and where would eat very easy. We walked to TGIF with our $20 voucher and got a good quick dinner. Then we went on a brisk cold walk to get a partial view of the Canadian side of the falls at night.

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Friday we switched into outdoor mode. Gearing up with tennis shoes, hats, and sunglasses we packed a picnic lunch and crossed back over to America to check out the Niagara Falls State Park. For a Friday the place was pretty quiet. Unfortunately, the park has been doing some re-construction of lookouts, hikes, and walkways which ended up limiting our exploring. But the view was beautiful and so was the weather. Following the rapids away from the falls we walked toward the trail to visit the Islands. For a virtual map of all that I am describing click here.

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The first Island has had several names over the years but the one that has stuck is Goat Island. Crossing the rapids on a pedestrian bridge you come to a picnic area and parking lot. Walking to the waterfront you can look back on the American Falls and get close to Bridal Veil Fall the mist of which was creating a rainbow.

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Again because of construction Luna island, a closer viewing point to the falls, was closed for construction so the above picture was as close as we could get. Rounding the viewpoint is  the ticket-booth and elevator for the Cave of the Winds tour which takes you to the base of the American Falls along wet walkways.  Continuing along the trail we came up to Terrapin point, the lookout for the American view of the Horseshoe falls. This was Luke’s first time to see these monstrous falls in daylight.

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Next we continued past the Fallsview Restaurant and on to the Three Sisters Islands. This area had already been remodeled and looked beautiful with many trees, drops in the rapids, and from the bridges you could see mist from where the rapids end and the falls begin.

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After all this walking, we headed back to the car for our picnic lunch. Then we headed over to the Maid of the Midst for our boat tour. We first took in the view at the observation deck, then we went down the elevator and climbed the stairs to the crows nest.

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view from the observation tower

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view from the top of the crow’s nest

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 As we waited in line for the Maid of the Mist tour, we put on our blue plastic ponchos. Luke was skeptical he really needed to wear it as he sweated waiting to get on the boat-I knowingly smiled. We crowded as close as we could to the front of the boat and off we went. First we took in a great view of the American falls as we rounded the last of the falls the wind and midst began to hit us and we were grateful for our hats and glasses.

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We then turned toward the massive HorseShoe falls. As we got closer the thundering of the falls roared louder than the boat’s engine.  We inched closer and closer and got hit with a windy down-pour of rain (aka Mist). Taking in the view from both sides of the boat as it turned around we saw the rainbow once again over the American falls.

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We got off the boat, up the elevator, and tried to dry off. Driving back to the Canadians side over the Rainbow Bridge turned out to take awhile in the rush-hour afternoon traffic. But with a great view and the windows down it didn’t feel too long before we were back at the Best Western getting ready for dinner. All the hotels and restaurants are so close to each other that we once again walked to The Keg located in the Embassy Suites. Grateful we made reservations, we were brought right to our table with a partial view of the falls.  (I’m sure you have to specifically ask or come early for seats right by the window).

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We watched the sunset and had an amazing prime rib dinner of which we only paid for tip outside of groupon vouchers!! We then went on a walk to explore a little more of the Canadian side tourism central with Starbuck in hand. On our route back we stopped by the Skylon tower to view a wonderful fireworks display over the falls around 9:45pm.

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again not my photos but pretty view

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On our way to our room we heard another whole set of fireworks go off. We hurried up the stairs to watched them from our balcony around 10:00pm. This was the last night of fireworks for the season and we think they may have been celebrating both Canadian Thanksgiving and Columbus Day all at once! It was a great end to a wonderful day.

Next up: Niagara Falls: Anniversary Part 1: Canadian Side

Something Old . . .Something New in Review

It’s hard to believe, but a year ago today in sunny SoCal’s apple country I married the love of my life!

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As you may have seen in my update last weekend (see Transition reflection) we are spending a long weekend enjoying some great groupon getaway deals at Niagara Falls! (which I’m looking forward to sharing with all of you later).

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But for now I thought I’d  look back and share with you my something old. . . something new . .  list for our wedding. The list was posted on the back of our wedding program along with a thank you to friends and family. This tradition follows an old English rhyme dating back to Queen Victoria but has been adapted by many Americans as a “good luck” charm. Whether you are just curious, want to be reminded, or are considering what to do for your own wedding I hope you enjoy:

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Wedding bands on my pointer finger, opal ring on my ring finger, and handkerchief

Something Old: My great-grandmother’s wedding bands

The something old in tradition would be a handed down heirloom to signify the continuity of lasting marriages from past generations. My mother has both her mother’s and father’s mother’s original wedding bands. She will occasionally wear them for special events.  Both couples were married young in the South in times where wedding rings were only bands and far from as extravagant as they are today. They remind me of simpler times, as part of this tradition one day these rings will again be passed down to me and so on.

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Something New: Wedding Dress

As expected, the something new represents the optimism and bright future ahead for the bride in married life. As most bride’s do I named my wedding dress as my something new.  After all you only wear it once; might as well highlight it! For more about my wedding dress and how I came to decided on what style of wedding dress to wear (see The Dress).

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Something Borrowed: my great-grandmother’s handkerchief and lace from my mom’s bridal bouquet.

Originally, the something borrowed would be a small item from a happily married friend or relative. It is thought that this item would transfer luck or happiness to the newlyweds.  Instead of friends I stuck once again with family  because they were a large part of our wedding theme (for more details on this see Heritage and Sentimental wedding details ). My mom had been handed down a very thin old handkerchief from her mother’s mother to carry at her wedding and I carried it in mine. Growing up the bow from my mother’s bridal bouquet sat in a glass display case along with other precious items in my parent’s home. So it was a great honor to be able to use this same lace around my own wedding bouquet. Other examples of borrowed items: my new sister-in-law Stina (married this past August for more see: The Wedding) borrowed a hair clip of mine for their wedding and my brother borrowed my dad’s monogramed H brown handkerchief for his suit jacket pocket.

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Something Blue: My great-grandmother’s Opal ring

The color blue as mentioned in this rhyme represents purity, fidelity, and love. When my great-aunt passed away my mother was given her mother’s (my father’s mother’s mother) beautiful opal ring. Opal is my mother’s birth-stone. It also happens to be the birth-stone for October the month we were getting married. We found that to be an added bonus to the ring’s wonderful shade of blue.

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And . . . a sixpence in your shoe!

Not many people remember or keep this part of the rhyme. It remains mostly a British tradition because who here owns a sixpence anymore? It originally came from a Scottish variation where the groom would place one in his shoe for financial prosperity and security. Well my grandmother (who’s mother was part scottish) does have a sixpence! She wore this  sixpence in her shoe at her wedding in 1953 they are celebrating 60 years of marriage this fall! The sixpence  was given to two of my cousin’s for their wedding days and then given to me. I this summer was happy to carry on the tradition by pass it down once again to my sister-in-law Stina.

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My grandmother and Stina with the sixpence in her shoe

Who will the sixpence go to next? For right now I don’t know I have two younger unmarried cousins but they are young and no one’s rushing for them to get to the alter. 

Well hope you enjoyed looking back with me and that you are having a great weekend I know I am!

The Wedding

Today marks one official month since my brother’s wedding. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. I know that our first month of marriage flew by with so many changes and transitions-I know my brother and Stina must be feeling the same way.

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Saturday morning, finally the wedding day: I got up bright and early to curl my hair at the hotel (it’s always odd to me to have to curl curly hair). I got all of my bridesmaid items together and met my parents in the lobby. We headed to Stina’s favorite coffee shop where I filled in a large order for the bridal party’s caffeine wants. With to-go carts in hand, we carefully got into the car and drove to the Moseng house.

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By the time we arrived all the bridesmaids were up and getting ready. The the wedding coordinator was  helping with hair alongside Stina’s hairdresser. I doled out the coffee then my parents picked up one of Matt’s high school friends and drove to Stina’s brother’s house to take pictures of the guys getting ready.

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I joined in getting makeup done and then spent a good deal of time letting the wedding coordinator pin up my long thick hair. The atmosphere was pretty relaxed considering the days events, everyone was excited and enjoying themselves including Stina.

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When the groomsmen and groom arrived around 8:30-9:00ish  Matt and Stina did their first look. I helped watch her lace train as she came down the house steps and around to the bridge over the coy pond.  All the close family and bridal party stood around (but far enough away to not be in pictures).  It was a beautiful moment.

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After this, we started in with the bridal party pictures followed by family pictures around 10:00am.

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Then all of us crowded back into the house for a late breakfast/early lunch before the wedding. We watched from widows of the house as guests began to arrive and fill up the white chairs in the garden.

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During this time Stina was confined to an upstairs bedroom and enjoyed  reading child stories to the flower girls. Right before the wedding was about to start, all of the female relatives and bridesmaids gathered around Stina to pray.

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Then the bridesmaids lined up behind the bushes ready for our musical que. The brick path was covered with a white runner. Shepherds hooks with potted fuchsias hung along the path as well as fresh flowers from our Pikes Place trip were laid on the side of the path.

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By the time I walked down the aisle the garden was crowded with people. So much so that although we had a sign saying there was plenty of room some had to stand along the trees for most of the ceremony.

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The three sibling flower girls came down in a bunch all similes in their matching dresses and hair. The oldest passed the wood ring box my father made onto the best man. Then came Stina in a beautiful lace covered wedding gown smiling all the way.

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My brother’s pastor from his college in Oregon was the officant for the wedding. As usual the giving away, prayer, and a short sermon were done in front of a beautiful gazebo filled with fresh flowers from the garden. Behind Matt and Stina was a table with a large bouquet of flowers, two candles, and the Moseng’s  family Bible where all marriages have been written down for generations.

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The Pastor (whos name is also Matt) shared about how love becomes a choice not only an emotion through the years of marriage and on the importance on choosing love and the behavior of love even when it is not easy. We all were handed hymnal inserts from the program and sang among a very musical audience. (Matt and Stina were heavily involved in the music department at their school) A wonderful chorus rang out with Great is Thy Faithfulness. ( I was happy to get through almost the whole thing without crying).

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The rest you probably know: the exchanging of rings, the vows, the announcement, kiss, and processional (to a surprise Star Wars song for Matt). As we waited for family to exit the bridesmaids, my brother, and Stina waited behind the same bush we had waited behind as we shared tears, smiles, hugs, and looked at their wedding bands.

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Following was an enjoyable time of greeting guests, friends, and family talking together while waiting to see who would leave first for the reception. After some informal photo shots we all started toward the field waiting in line to leave the Moseng house and head to the reception downtown Poulsbo.

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Coming Next: The reception