Tis the Season

Tis the Season to be busy. . .  fa la la la la . . . Last year Luke and I had a very quiet holiday for two. We had barely any presents to buy, few holiday decorations to put out, no family visiting us, and we were still so new to the area we had only one holiday event to attend. It was peaceful, calm even if at times a little lonely. But this year that has all changed. To give you an idea of what I mean I thought I’d share a little about what this week looked like; packed full with Christmas activities:

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Monday: I was at home baking, baking, and yes more cookie baking and organizing to fit all the cookies in the freezer.

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Peppermint, chocolate, and original tart with chocolate dipped marshmallows

Peppermint, chocolate, and original tart with chocolate dipped marshmallows

Tuesday: During the day I went grocery shopping, picked up our ornaments from The Corning Glass Studio, did more baking, and addressed Christmas cards. Then that evening I picked Luke up from work and we drove to Sweet Frog; a local yogurt place. There we met up with our friends from our small group and bought yogurt as part of a fundraiser for a mission trip with our church. We then went out to dinner  and ran some errands getting home around 9:30-10ish.

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Wednesday/Thursday: I was busy cleaning, doing laundry, wrapping gifts, writing Christmas cards, chocolate dipping peppermint Jo Jo’s, making haystacks (Luke’s favorite), organizing the freezer (again) and filling baked goody tins for presents.

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Friday: Today I am cleaning up the baking mess and doing needed maintenance around the house. Tonight we will go to Luke’s work Christmas dinner at Sorges (see Sorge’s: local food and wine).

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Last year’s Christmas Tree

Saturday/Sunday: Luke works in the morning on Saturday and we currently plan on getting a Christmas tree and getting it all decorated. We also have the opportunity to go caroling with our Young Adult group at church on Saturday and I have been invited to a  girl’s only Christmas event Sunday afternoon.

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So  . .  ’tis a very busy season. In-spite of the business we are trying to keep perspective. This time of year is not about making everyone happy by being the perfect host, guest, or by bringing the best cookies or buying the best presents. It is about taking time to recognize what we value most and setting time aside to enjoy, rest, and be with those we love.

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For the first time, our second married Christmas, I am seeing how hard it is to keep that perspective, to create boundaries and balance priorities through the holiday season. But I feel like I am learning.

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Speaking of being with those we love, in T-minus 5 days my parents will our first house-guests enjoying a white Corning Christmas holiday with us!!

How about you: how do you handle the business of the season?

What are your priorities/What does this time of year mean to you?

Snapshots: Halvorson wedding behind the scenes

This will be my last wedding related post for a while ( I promise). But I thought you might enjoy seeing a few more behind the scenes pictures collected from iphones (along with a few professional shots) that have come in from Matt and Stina’s wedding. If you haven’t read up on the wedding events then you may want to skim these posts: The RehearsalThe WeddingThe Reception,  before scrolling through these extra snapshots.

Here they are:

Getting ready:

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Post-picture lunch/brunch break with family and bridal party:

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My mom’s mother and my cousin Paige

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My Dad’s Mom and the sixpence for Stina’s wedding shoe

Stina waiting for the guests to arrive watching them from the upstairs window and entertaining the flower girls:

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Prayer time for Stina with all the bridesmaids and female relatives:

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Time to line up for the wedding:

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The ceremony (and singing):

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The processional:

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Matt’s best friend from high school and I

Celebrating after:

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My mom, my Aunt, and I

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Cousins iphone moment

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From left to right: my father (in law), my dad’s dad, and my hubby

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Matt and Stina snapshots:

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Something borrowed-hairclip from me

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rainbow polka dot socks so my brother wouldn’t get cold feet

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Details from the reception:

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at the trail mix bar

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family wedding photos

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mailbox to fill with advice and wedding cards

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wall of pictures of Matt and Stina growing up

Let’s Dance!:

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Traditional Norwegian folk dancing

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Saying Goodbye!:

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Thats all for now! Thanks for reading and sharing in this wonderful family event!!

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

Vacation Highlights Part 1: Family Time

After a wonderful vacation we are back to our home sweet home in New York.  We loved spending time with family and friends in Oregon this past week and as promised I will share some highlights with all of you.

The Halvorson family weekend

We started our family catch-up time on friday May 3rd with lunch at a favorite coffee spot in Newberg with my parents.  Luke and I shared a gluten free sandwich and got irish cream mint mochas: Yummy!! During this my bro and his fiancé spared a few seconds of their precious time to say hi. After food, excited talks, and quick weekend scheduling Luke and I drove to Champoeg (sounds like shampoo with an e on the end) state park where my grandparents had been camping. After touring their new camping vehicle, we  drove into town to get our fix of  savory and spicy northwestern teriyaki.

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Next day May 4th was graduation. That afternoon we met my parents at the George Fox University gym to get our tickets. It was crowded and it was hot sitting on those wood bleachers but it was worth it to spend time with my family (3 grandparents, and Matt and Stina’s parents, and siblings) all there to proudly represent and yell for Matt and Stina as they walked across the stage. After commencement, we celebrated with dinner at a local Italian restaurant. Next stop was a dessert reception held for the many graduates involved in my brothers church.

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Matt graduated with a BA in Civil Engineering and Stina with a BA in Mathematics

Sunday was a series of progressive goodbyes. We started with a full group at church and lunch at a local sub shop (no bread this time but an awesome salad) then it was time to say goodbye to my grandparents, Stina, and her family.  After some quiet afternoon regrouping the rest of us decided to have some mind-less fun at Bullwinkles. Although I came in last at our round of mini-golf, I was proud of myself for not throwing my little purple golf ball at one of the holes or into a pond. We finished our outing with a round of burgers and way too many steak fries at Red Robin  (once again gluten free bun and all). Then it was a round of hugs and more goodbyes to my parents and brother with reminders we would see everyone in August for the wedding.

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The Greene weekdays

Tuesday

Monday, Thursday, and Friday of the next week were date days and time with friends (don’t worry that’ll be another blog). But on Tuesday May 7th we had some Portland fun with Luke’s parents. We started our adventure at the Portland Japanese Garden. For Luke and I it was a bit sentimental since this was the first stop on our honeymoon. It is a well kept beautiful garden full of fountains, bridges, waterfalls, and archways. But enough of my words, here are pictures to prove it:

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Diana and John (aka Luke’s parents or the in-laws)

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After this peaceful garden stroll, we headed downtown to the famous Powells city of books. This building (a full city block of books) has so many odd directional levels that they name them by color not number.  After carrying around armfuls of maybes and asking advice from each other on what to get, we finally strategized how to book-share and brought our final purchases to the check-out area before we spent any more money.

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Excited about our new reading material, we drove to Hopsworks a local organic microbrewery for dinner. Diana (Luke’s Mom) was able to get an organic meal and beer which is quite a luxury for her. Once again I was able to get a gluten free bun for my proscitto and chicken sandwich served with organic french fries. All of their beers are organic but not barley-free  so I opted for a hopped-up organic hard cider instead.

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Wednesday

The next day (May 8th) we split off by gender. Luke and John went scouting for fishing spots, bought fishing supplies for John, and picked up the family boat to bring to their house. After a successful trip to Old Navy Diana and I got lunch at Life Source, a local organic and natural food store and did some grocery shopping.

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My lunch: organic salad and slice of vegetarian enchilada with a grapefruit chamomile soda

For this simpler day we made dinner at home then enjoyed some organic ice cream and a few rounds of the board game Ticket to Ride.

Among the dinners and outings were many early morning coffee/tea talks and afternoon couch conversations where we caught up on life, told stories, and look forward to what was ahead. It was hard to say goodbye to family but we cherish the time we had with them and look forward to seeing everyone for another round of celebrations in August!

Our First Vacation

We moved to Corning New York the week of Thanksgiving and since then we’ve stayed here. So it has been almost 6 months since we have seen any of our family face-to-face. But we are very excited that today we are headed back home!

My brother is graduating for college (yay!).  Fortunately my brother’s college is less than an hour away from my in-laws home. We decided this was our chance to spend time with almost all our family (both Halvorsons and Greenes) and celebrate and we do have a lot to celebrate.

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The Halvorson side minus grandparents

The Greene side minus grandma and Luke's bro

The Greene side minus grandma and Luke’s bro

This is our first true married vacation together (unless you want to count the honeymoon). So it has taken some work to figure  out responsibilities in order to get us ready to travel from coast-to-coast. I think ahead about all the little details including seeing what the weather will be like, writing and packing cards, and planning out outfits based on the activities we have going on.  Luke on the other hand focuses on the big picture, the travel plans themselves, and is completely comfortable throwing clothes in a carry-on bag the morning of the flight.

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There is nothing wrong with doing things differently it is why we are a great team. But my goal is to make sure we don’t assume the other person took care of something before leaving only to realize neither one of us did as we our on our ride to the airport.

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We are excited and anxious to be back in the northwest and to see some of our closests friends and family. The past few days leading up to vacation felt like they dragged on. But we are finally here! With snacks, movies, and books packed for the flights we are ready to take off. So I will see you all in a week. By then I’ll have plenty of pictures and stories to share. 🙂

Wedding Season has Begun!

I choice to take a mini-spring-break from blogging because I haven’t felt much like writing about our real-life stuff right now. Were are in the middle of some car drama and I’m in the up’s and downs of job searching. (And yes I’ll share that all with you . . . eventually).

But let’s change topics shall we?

A week ago when I was in the middle of a hectic run-around I received a very anticipated phone call. So I pulled my Walmart grocery cart to a traffic free zone and answering my phone. It was my brother  sharing the good news that he and his girlfriend had just gotten engaged!  Everyone knew it would happen very soon and we are all thrilled.

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Pacific City OR

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Thinking about their wedding plans I began to look back on some of the details of my own wedding almost 6 months ago. I didn’t pintrest my way through my engagement or blog it out. But knowing at least 8 (probably closer to 10) couples who got engaged so far this year I thought: maybe I should take sometime to share advice and details from my wedding? Maybe it will spark some creativity for those planning their weddings?

As we head into this wedding season I’ll be dispersing some details and advice blogs from a bride who has been there done that. (I think 6 months is long enough to reflect back but not so long ago that I’ve forgotten the little things.)

So for all of my engaged couples-enjoy! And for my single friends these blogs may be good to ear-mark for that future special day down the road. Or if you are not one of those single “one day, day-dreamer” types remember you’ll probably be involved in a friend or family member’s wedding in the next 5 years. Even if you were at my wedding you may be surprised by some of the sentimental small details you probably didn’t know about.

Here are some topics to look forward to:

Who to choose for the bridal party?

Special Guests: how to care for kids, grandparents, and those with allergies

4 month engagement- a timeline and some big helps

Favors from friends :a great way to $ave

The Sentimental Personal details

No ring bearer? No problem

Things to double check with DJ/MC/Video/photographer

Advice for the Bride on her big day

Tips for Bridal Party including: when planning a bridal shower/ Bachelor(ette) party

Invitations, Thank you cards, and Gratuity

And that is not all! (Yes I went on a brainstorming craze). What do you think? And don’t worry tons of pics from my wedding and updates on the bro’s wedding plans will be shared along the way!

Wedding Season had Begun!

Hot cross buns and Berry salad: A (new) Easter tradition

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Hot cross buns rising on the preheated stove

My family (Halvorsons) never had any “traditional” Easter foods. Sometimes we had homemade brunch after church, other times it was a ham dinner after Easter egg hunts (some salt to balance out the sweets). But being that this is our first married Easter I thought I’d ask Luke if there are any Greene family traditions.

The answer is yes: Hot Cross Buns (yes just like the song-sorry if I got it stuck in your head).

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Baked brown and ready for frosting

Apparently there were a few years Diana (Luke’s mom) was working that she bought the buns from the store. After this Luke took it upon himself to make them! (even though he claims to be a cook; not a baker).

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The hot-cross bun recipe is a family thing for now (sorry).

But a few times for Easter brunches I have made a simple and delicious berry salad I’m willing to share with all of you.  🙂 I thought this would pair well as a light  side for our weekend of homemade Easter carbs. Plus this is an excellent gluten-free and vegan addition to consider if you are bringing something to an Easter brunch or hosting one yourself.

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Here is the easy recipe for my berry salad:

1 16-ounce container strawberries (halved or quartered depending on size)

1 8-ounce container blueberries

1 6-ounce container raspberries

1 8/6 ounce container blackberries

2/3 T powdered sugar

2/3 lemons

1.If you bought frozen fruits then semi-defrost the berries. If you bought fresh put them into the freezer until you are ready to make the salad.  Leaving the berries frozen/semi-defrosted will insure that you don’t end up with a mushy salad.

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2.Grate 2/3 lemons into a small bowl then cut and squeeze about 2/3 Tablespoons of their juice in as well.

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3. Add the 2T of powdered sugar to the lemon juice and zest and mix together (the powdered sugar will absorb and coat the berries easier than regular sugar ). You can also probably use honey but use your discretion for portions diffrences versus powdered sugar.

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Tip: Do not throw away the lemons after this. Instead place the leftover lemon slices rind and all into a water pitcher!

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4. Add all ingredients into a large bowl and mix gently with a slotted spoon.

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5. Let the mixture sit in the fridge covered for a few hours or for best results for a day before serving so the berries can soaked up the sugar and citrus juice.

Possible variations: You can choose to use orange juice or lemonade in exchange for the lemon/powdered sugar mixture or add fresh mint as a garnish.

Or if you want a fancier grow-up version: Use a citrus liqueur such as Grand Mariner or Lemon-cello.

Do you have any traditional Easter foods?

What is your favorite brunch dish?