“Happily Ever After” is only the Beginning

All the movies make it seem as though that walk or drive off into the sunset with the love of your life is the end no more conflict, no more challenges, no more changes.

images

But Happily ever after is only the beginning

You relationship is not complete when you get married. You don’t stop working on it after marriage you are only really beginning. With all the awkward superficial barriers worked through during dating, you begin to hit at deeper bigger issues. These issues can come on with the smallest of topics. But if you take the opportunity to openly and honestly talk about them you will find yourself work through things that are much deeper. When you work out issues in an frank yet loving way you learn a lot about yourself, a lot of about your spouse, a lot about what “you” as a couple looks like.

images-1

The first two months of marriage included a lot of talking. . . and I mean a lot. These talks came up at the most unlikely and most annoying of times too. Every time we didn’t agree or were confused by what each other meant or expected we took the time to work it out. It wasn’t easy but we wanted resolution, we wanted to understand each other. There was a lot of questions for clarification: What did you think I meant? What do you want me to do ? What do you think I expect you to do?  I found that you may finish each others sentence when you’re dating but it doesn’t mean once you’re married you will be able to read each other’s minds.

Unknown

Another title for this could also be: new is new is new is new .  . .

This is just the beginning to married life. Any new element is exactly that a new element. So any new topic or area of life not present before marriage is not magically resolved out of your love. Whether it is deciding on when/where it is ok to flirt with each other (or let it lead to more), what to eat for the week, who does what chores around the house, the budget, outings, etc.. If it is a new decision it requires talking it out-it requires work.

images-2

 

Remember back when you felt unsure how the person you were dating was going to take your opinion on an issue? Or you were unsure how to bring a new difficult topic up? But in time you develop trust and with it comes honesty, patience for each other, and grace to see eye-to-eye on things. Well that doesn’t change. You will still have those awkward and difficult conversations for anything that is a new element to your relationship.

IMG_2973

New elements to your relationship require effort and compromise to make new decisions. It doesn’t happen through osmosis when you put rings on each other’s fingers. It comes through loving each other enough to want to work it through.  Don’t out of fear of being vulnerable keep your mouth shut when things bother you. But don’t go overboard either. You do not have always instigate a debate-the talks and challenges will come up on their own.

It doesn’t happen over night.  Six (almost seven) months married life is a lot easier than one month. The more we invest in each other the more we see growth,stability and we find ourselves deeper in love . Trust me it’s true! Marriage does not grow like weeds. It grows like trees-change sometimes is subtle but time and consistent investment can make it grow stronger. And if you think you’ve been through a lot as a couple before you get married just wait until  you watch the other person step-up to the responsibilities as husband or wife. You will love and respect them even more.

images-3

I do not claim to have this figured out-we are still working through a lot of topics and issues. But I know that going into the first few months being willing to ask the hard questions knowing you are safe to be vulnerable (that the commitment you made to each other is enough) makes all the difference. You have to know that the other person loves you and will show you forgiveness. That they (and you) will be willing to say your sorry, mean it, and move on. There is a lot of adjusting to do and it requires compromise, patience, and grace.

IMG9078-M

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.

166758_10151598889054744_1148091877_n

Pacific City OR

532960_10151598889209744_17487787_n

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

IMG_2916

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).

IMG_2918

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).

IMG_2923

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.

IMG_2912

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.

IMG_2896IMG_2902

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

IMG_2904

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.

IMG_2908

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

IMG_2906

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

IMG_2909IMG_2911

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?

Living without a dishwasher

IMG_2866

The sink and counter after a weekend of un-washed dishes

We had all of three days to find our new home this past November (no pressure). At the end of the weekend, sitting in Cracker Barrel we talked through our options and chose on our little 750 sq. ft. yellow rented home in Corning.

Jump forward to the week of Thanksgiving. As we started reacquainting ourselves with our new home, I asked Luke “um . . . where is the dishwasher?”. The answer: there is no dishwasher or garbage disposal! I guess it isn’t a huge surprise after seeing so many apartments and houses in a short weekend that we forgot that detail.

IMG_2709

So for the past five months I have learned to live without a dishwasher. At first Luke and I would wash the dishes together after a meal, giving us some time to talk. But then Luke’s work training ended and he wasn’t getting home at 4:30-5pm everynight. So both the cooking and dishwashing responsibilities were turned  over to me.

IMG_2708

Most days I am left in a cycle of : washing last night’s dishes, any dishes from Luke’s lunches or mine, any cutting boards etc. used to prep. dinner, and then I  decide whether to clean up the dinner dishes or leave them for the next day. This can equal to 3 loads of dishes! (Although Luke does notices (about once a week) when I need a break from the scrubbing and soapy hands.)

But I dread Mondays the most. Because often I  choose to take the weekend off and just rinse the dishes, leaving leaving them in the sink for the next week.

IMG_2864

Monday load

Because of this, I think differently about what defines a dirty dish: utensils, cups, or bowls may be used more than once  (if they are rinsed out) before being washed. And as much as I love making wonderful desserts and complicated sticky, saucy dishes, I do not like the mess that awaits afterward (neither are Luke or myself clean cooks/bakers).

One great help is my dish soap. I have already dry-skin and found that 2/3 loads of dishes a day was causing my skin to crack so I changed over to Palmolive soft touch and even then I need hand lotion.

IMG_2711

Even though I do not like doing so many dishes and digging out old food from the sink drain I realize this is merely an inconvenience. With some perspective I remember that many families of the world do not have dishwashers, garbage disposals, or even enough plates and utensils to let them pile up for a few days. I should be grateful I have a washing machine and dryer or clean water to drink, cook, and clean with.

So although we will probably double check for a dishwasher/garbage disposal for the next place we live, I will for now be grateful for clean water, hand lotion, my dish soap, and my dish rack.

IMG_2712

a rare picture of the dish rack “empty”

Do you have any complaints(tasks) that with some perspective could merely be inconveniences?

Wait-barley free means no beer . . . Right? aka A Chemistry lesson for a Birthday present

So let me first answer the question:

Wait-barley free means no beer . . . Right?      

IMG_2801    

 This is the first thing people ask me when they find out about my allergy. It was hard news for my ex-bartender boyfriend (now husband) from the micro-brewing region of Oregon. Suddenly I could no longer enjoy a dark cold brew with him at a local pub.

When we go out to pubs now I am lucky if they serve hard cider. (My favorite by the way is Woodchuck) because sometimes wine just doesn’t pair as well with pub food.  Fortunately the gluten-free fad has grown like a wildfire.

Unfortunately many gluten-free beers taste like the cheap light stuff you might encounter at a college party.

One of the only gluten-free beers I have liked was at the Deschutes Brewery and Public House in Portland. We went there on our honeymoon and they have an amazing gluten-free menu (trust me and check it out!)

images

Inside the Portland Public House

Inside the Portland Public House

But getting that beer across the country is a little tough. The only other options widely available are Redbridge (Budwieser and I don’t like there regular beer so . ..  yea) or Omission.

images 2

On our honeymoon we also went to the Windmer Bros. Gasthaus Pub  because they listed two gluten-free beers (called Omission) and a gluten-free menu (the buffalo wings were pretty good). When they brought my beer to the table I read the label-it had barley in it! See they played with the chemicals and came up  a low gluten beer so it will not upset the stomach of someone with celliac’s disease.

images 1

So now what? Well I do have some half decent gluten-free beers at our local grocery store (all ambers) or  . . . someone can start a new hobby (now I’m getting to the birthday part)

My allergy is actually a good excuse for Luke to start a hobby one of his best friends had been doing for years: home brewing. So two Christmas’ ago Luke got a beer-making kit with plans to make homemade barley-free porters and stouts. But with a wedding, new job, and moving Luke hasn’t started up home brewing. . . yet.

Here we are: A chemistry lesson for a Birthday present:

So I took Luke for his birthday to Rohrbachs brewery and taproom in Rochester NY hoping it might help jumpstart his creativity.  We started our tour watching a video explaning the history of the brewery meanwhile Luke enjoying a few samples on tap (5 bucks for tour and 6 samples 🙂 ).

images 7

The taproom

The taproom

Then we were taken back to the brewery.  The tour was a full on chemistry lesson! I followed along as they explained the steps for making different beers the best I could, after the 5th step my mind began to drift-but not Luke. He was fully engaged-raising his hand as if back in chemistry class to ask specific questions. It was informal, informative, and best of all Luke loved it.

The tour

The tour

We then took some time to drive (I drove) around finding where the science museum,  parks, auditoriums, observatory etc. were since it was our first time downtown.

After we went to Rohrbach’s brewpub across town for dinner.

rorh2 image.cgi

We ordered off their traditional German Menu : Luke ate the sample plate of juicy sausages and sauerkraut while I had crispy potato pancakes with applesauce (can you say yum!). To drink I ordered their homemade root-beer. It was dark delicious dessert in a cup and amazingly I could taste the sasporilla!

And Luke, well he got another sampler of beer, this time of their speciality dark brews only on tap at their microbrewery.

And boy was he one happy birthday boy can you tell?

And boy was he one happy birthday boy can you tell?

Hopefully now that Luke has been inspired, the home-brewing will start soon . Don’t worry I’ll fill you as we go along.

Sleep after marriage: isn’t always a dream come true

One thing I thought would be beyond easy after marriage was sleep.

Here is why: I have always slept better with someone else in the house or room with me; their presence is soothing and safe. Also, because Luke and I were super busy while dating I would often cuddle up to him on the couch to watch a movie or on his living room floor while he took a nap before working a night shift and quickly fall asleep.

What I am learning now is that nap time is not the same as sleeping through the night and sharing a bed.

So here’s another myth busted: Sleep after marriage: is not always a dream come true!

IMG_2854

Our bed: before I’m asked the the duvet cover is mine I bought it from World Market a few years ago

 Instead sleep patterns/habits much like personalities are unique to each person.

I grew up in a little twin bed. Usually I am a side sleeper and my feet and hands are always cold; if I am cold I can’t sleep.  I am a light sleeper too–any unusual sound, change in temperature, or odd dream can wake me up. To complicated this, it takes me a long time to fall asleep and sleeping soundly through the night is often a luxury. Because of this I need more hours of sleep; at least 8 if not 9.  When and if I fall asleep soundly I do not move all night.

Luke has at times chosen to sleep on hard floors over his own bed and has slept in beds of different sizes mostly double/queens all to himself (even at age 3!). He is usually a stomach or back sleeper. Luke alway runs warm so he often gets hot in the middle of the night and tries to take off the covers. He is also a very deep-sleeper, and falls asleep very quickly, usually only needing 6-7 hours. To add to this, Luke will move around in his sleep without realizing it.

Now you can imagine what we’ve been working through sleeping in the same queen size bed.

We finally came to realize we both have to adjust our sleeping habits and accept the other person’s habits if we want to share a bed or we will be constantly frustrated, grumpy, and sleep deprived.

IMG_2857

My mom made this red brass pinned retro-looking headboard for me during her upholstery class awhile back

It has taken us until 5 months into marriage talk about our sleep habits and decide what helps or hinders good sleep.  Even after talking it through there are still rough nights-this will take time.

A canvas print landscape picture from our wedding day hangs over the bed

A canvas print landscape picture from our wedding day hangs over the bed

If you are getting married soon and have never slept in the same room, same bed, or taken a nap together (or even if you have as I learned) I would suggest talking about your sleeping habits because you may not know what a “normal night” looks like.

Asking questions like: How did you sleep as a child? Do you like a lot of space/little space? Do you move around/stay in one place when your asleep? Do you like a lot of blankets/sleep with none? Do you love your PJs or prefer your birthday suit? might be helpful.

This could provide you with a head-start on developing a healthy sleeping relationships (and may help you determine what size bed you want).

IMG_2853

Our Queen size bed

Any married couples have advice to share? Have you had to make  similar adjustments?

Spring is coming

of=50,590,393-2

Cherry blossom tree at Easter in Seattle

It is still cold outside but there is hope as things are slowly thawing. We are not used to long winters with snowy temps. from October-March. We are told this was a normal to light winter-eek!

Fortunately spring is coming and we have finally moved out of the “settling-in” stage. Luke mentioned to me that he feels like we have finally arrived-things are beginning to feel well . . .  normal. We have been married for 5 months now and the newness of it all is starting to fade . . in a good way.

Our “settling-in” phase was such a scramble. Everything was new, scary, exciting, and anxiety producing. Any little task around the house, errand, or decision was a monumental “first” which involved talking, compromise, patience, and grace.

We are now ready for a new phase I call “branching out”;  it’s time to get involved in the community.

fall leaves on campus 010

Now that I have gotten a grasp of some of my wifely responsibilities I am ready to begin the job of finding a job. It is time for me to find my purpose and place here in New York.

As I make phone calls, email inquiries, send my CV to colleges and companies in the area; I have to stay focused on today and not worry about tomorrow as I wrote in The future is . . .

We have also recently been asked to lead a small group of young couples at our church once a week starting in April. We love to host events and build community. Plus I once again have a reason to bake goodies!!!

In addition, we are attending Financial Peace University at our church.  Luke has a good working knowledge of finances I   . . . do not. We thought this class would provide us with the framework/vocabulary for discussion on this stressful topic. This is us taking that desire to procrastinate talking about loans, debt, spending, saving, and shoving it out the door!

Last, we have been exercising. We got memberships at the Y in January. It took awhile to get into the routine. Fortunately the Y has a clean welcoming facility and everyone is polite. There is no judgment, no hogging the machines, no showing off, just genuine people taking care of their bodies whatever their shape, size, or age! It is a far cry from the LA gyms and fitness centers! Still we are looking forward to warmer weather so that we can exchange our indoor exercise for outdoor explorations.

Chinese garden Huntington Library this past May

Chinese garden Huntington Library this past May

Do you have any spring cleaning/changes or challenges ahead of you?