2013 in review

I know we are a little more than a week into the new year but it has taken me a full week to get back into the normal routine of things (I can’t be the only one who’s in the post-holiday struggle for normality). As I look back on almost a full year with this blog I thought I’d review some of the highlighting events of 2013.

So here is a review of 2013 blog style:

January: survived our first NY winter:  A Lesson in Independence and explored our local museum’s winter events: 2300 degrees

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February: Started a new Valentines tradition: Valentine’s Pie: a New Tradition, and explored what it means to be newly married :Dispelling Marriage MythsMarriage Myth busting: Round 2

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March: Celebrate Luke’s birthday with brewery tours/tastings in Rochester: A Chemistry lesson for a birthday present, Shared about my allergy to barley: Why I am barley free: Part One, and celebrated Easter: Hot Cross Buns and Berry Salad

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April: Celebrated 6 months of marriage: Wow it’s been 6 months!, shared details about our wedding:The Dress and  learning how to look for a job: Patience: giving myself time

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May: Traveled to the West Coast for an Oregon vacation and my brother’s college graduation: Vacation Highlights Part 1: Family TimeVacation Highlights Part 2: Date Days

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June: Went Kayaking in Rochester: Kayaking and BBQ, bottled our first homemade barley-free beer:  Bottling our first homemade brew and celebrated my birthday in Ithaca: An Ithaca birthday Adventure

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July: Explored local festivals: Two festivals and Korean BBQ, Fixed up the front porch: Home Improvement: The Front Porch Project, and traveled to Washington to be apart of pre-wedding events for my brother’s wedding : Pre-wedding Jitters

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August:  Particpated in my soon-to-be sister-in-law’s bridal shower: Stina’s bridal shower and other wedding events, attended two local foodie festivals in NY: Smoke on the WaterTaste of Ellicotville, and hiked a local landmark: Walkins Glen State Park= Gorge-ous

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September: Looked back on my brother’s wedding: The Wedding, and shared more about my job-search: A New Year: Teacher without a classroom

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October: Picked pumpkins and attended an Apple Festival: Picking Perfect Pumpkins;  Apple Fest,  shared about my allergy to tree-nuts:Why I am tree-nut free Part one,  and celebrated a year of marriage with a trip to Niagara Falls :Niagara Falls anniversary Part One

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November: Kept busy with non-blogging activities and shared about them in: busy: and update

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December: Started two new holiday traditions: Post-Parade Cookies and Cocoa and Christmas Concert TSO. Attended our local holiday festival: Sparkle and shared our Christmas with my parents: A Very Corning Christmas present and A handmade and heirloom Christmas

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That is one very full blogging year! And that is only a small portion of the blog-post in this past year and doesn’t include any of my recipes. So what can you look forward to reading about this next year? You’ll find out soon enough.

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!

Apple Fest

Last Saturday Luke and I drove up to Ithaca for their annual Apple Fest ! As you may know from past posts (cinnamon oatmeal apple muffins) I love apples, really I do.

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I know that it is typical to think of pumpkins come autumn, but first in my mind is apple season. Growing up my family  each year would escape from LA’s heat and drive up to Oak Glenn to get apples at a local orchard. We would sample the year’s variety and pick a bagful of apples and other treats then head to one of the several area restaurants serving  apple pie. Last Fall before our wedding, we took my Dad up to Serendipity to see where we would be getting married. Then we drove minutes down the road to the Oak Glenn apple orchards to pick out local apples to decorate our wedding venue, and afterward as is tradition, we went to get apple pie.

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With that background, let me share about this years apple experience. We arrived downtown Ithaca around 2pm and paid an event parking fee of $5 then set out to find a map and explore the festival. The first we notice was how crowded it was!! This was obviously a very popular event,, especially with the local college scene.

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We started this multi-street venture with exploring apple vendors, bakers, and ciderys on Aurora st. It was difficult to maneuver through the crowd of people, some standing in front of vendor booths, other waiting in lines for hard cider tastings or to buy carmel apples or  kettle corn.

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When we came to the end of the row we noticed a long tent so packed with people you couldn’t tell what was being sold.  As we got closer we saw table after tables overflowing with local amish baked goods including pies, cakes, fudge, brownies, crisps, and cobblers. Rounding the booths we priced some of the apples per their pecks and shared a hot spiced cider for $1.50.

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We then took a break from the crowd and turned onto E. State street where a parking lot had been reserved for more vendors. In this lot were several more orchard/apple vendors, wineries, breweries, baked goods, and a live music stage.

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A line the length of the parking lot had formed at the end of Little Tree Orchards s waiting for a new batch of their apple cider doughnuts. Considering their popularity, we decided to buy a large bag of Northern Spy apples. We tried several of the wines and beers and Luke discovered one of the companies’ coffee stout was eerily similar to his own first brewed beer (for more on this see The home-brewing has begun).

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Taking turns carrying the bag of apples, we walked through the commons and to cayuga street to check out the craft vendors. We saw much of the same vendors or goods that were available at other festival throughout the summer/spring the usual: clothes, jewelry, photography, paintings, and custom wood or metal work.

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We also toured a smaller simultaneous festival occurring in Dewitt park called “The First People’s Festival.” The highlight of this seemed to be for children who were given the opportunity to make native crafts or hear traditional tribal stories. There were not many distinctive cultural crafts being sold that I could see and I was disappointed to walk away not feeling like I learned much about the four to five local tribes in the area.

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Last but not least we explored the food vendors on W. State st. which were all the cheap and unhealthy fair foods we’ve seen at every fest or carnival. But on the south side of Cayuga street was the international food market. From vietnam,  to India, to Cuba or good old American with a twist they had it all! Although it all looked and smelled delicious, we decided to just grab an iced chai tea and head back to the car. We had a beautiful sunny drive home and enjoyed watching the hills filled with fall foliage color, it was the perfect ending to a great fall festival day.

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So what did we do with all of those apples? Stay tuned to find out later this week. . .

Transition reflection

I’ve posted most recently about festivals, food,  and holiday decorations but I’m taking a break for this to reflect and share about some transitions ahead for A.Greene.

In 6 weeks and we will have been NY residents for a year! In this past year there have been many new experiences and challenges. For me a large portion of this was adjusting to living completely on our own.

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When we first moved I had little social interaction outside of skype, phone calls, or the grocery clerk. There were long periods of loneliness and boredom and a whole lot of time on Netflix. I struggled to adjust to the new life-pace. I had been in survival mode for months planning for a wedding while working. When we moved less than a month after the wedding I needed a large amount of down-time to adjust, everyone said so and told me I had earned it.

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But the adjustment wasn’t easy. I at first felt guilty and purposeless.  It took a long time to realize what I was supposed to be doing with my time. In the long run the time was not wasted: I learned how to create boundaries, how to balance my life, how to recognize stressors and handle stress properly, I got in shape, I learned how to maintain a household, learned how to cook healthy for two (check out my transcend category), edited two books, applied to jobs, and wrote more than 100 blog posts (see 6 months=100 posts!) None of that includes the learning and growing in my relationship with Luke! (For more on that just type marriage into my search engine and you’ll see plenty of recent posts).

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All of this to say, it has been a major year of transition and with this fall even more is coming our way.

Here’s what we are looking forward to:

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1. We are now going to be weekly co-leading a Young Married small group with our church. On Tuesday night we will get the opportunity to gather with people at the same place in life as us and share the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m looking forward to making new friends and to sharing our experiences adjusting to married life.

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2. I have some great job opportunities coming down the line: continued editing work and possibly teaching college-level English courses and/or substituting. I am curious to see what I end up doing, it’s hard to not get anxious wondering where I may be starting my career on the East Coast.

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3. Next weekend we will be celebrating our 1rst year Anniversary!! We are headed to Niagara Falls for a fun filled Groupon getaway!

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4. It’s months from now but: My parent’s are coming for Christmas! After a year of celebrating every holiday just Luke and I, we are ready for company come the holiday season. I’m so excited that it’s hard not to want to plan out every second of time together months in advanced.

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Plus in general we are just getting busier! In the past several weeks there have been birthday parties, dinner meetings, conferences, day-trips to visit friends, co-worker events etc. They are taking up our evenings and weekends more than ever before! It’s a great change (no more boredom or loneliness) but it has been a stretch.

Just as it was difficult to adjust to so much time on my own, so it has also been difficult recently to get out of my introverted state and get out there and socialize more. With transitions (even when they are good ones) there comes new stressors and challenges. As the routine shifts, I have to again adjust  and re-learn how to balance all over again. But it is so worth it.

As we move into the time of holidays what changes or transitions are you anticipating?

What adjustments do they require of 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 Reception

I ended my last post with looking back on my brother’s wedding ceremony a month ago (to get caught up see: The Wedding).  After the ceremony we left the Moseng house and headed to the Sons of Norway downtown Poulsbo. Luke and I carpooled with my in-laws and arrived quickly after most of the bridal party.

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Everything looked wonderful just as we had set it up the night before (see The rehearsal). The head table was decorated with a full yellow table cloth  and crocheted runner. Mason jars lined the head the table prepped for placing the bridesmaid bouquets in. The table was set with an eclectic collection of tea cups and blue glass plates.

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Each yellow monogramed napkin was folded in it’s place. As we settled in I saw the MC/DJ was setting up by the favor table prepped with crates full of mini jars of spiced apple jam. People were beginning to fill into the guest tables and mingle looking at family pictures, signing the guest book, and writing adviced cards.

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Guests began to line up for coffee punch in glass cups, hot coffee, or tea.  Once drinks were served the line for the create-your-own snack at the trail mix bar grew quickly.

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When all the guests arrived, the wraps, sandwiches and fruit salad were laid out and once again a food line began to form. Once the bride and groom had arrived the fun began. Sparkling Cider was poured for all guests as Stina’s father, her sister, and my brother’s Best Man Andy gave toasts. Following Matt and Stina had their first dance then Stina danced with her father and last my brother danced with my mother.

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Then all married couples were asked on the dance floor. During a basic waltz the MC called out numbers if a couple had been married less than that number they were asked to leave the dance floor. Luke and I knew enjoyed our 45 second dance then twirled off when “one” was announced. The last remaining couple had been married more than 60 years and Stina gave them one of the bridal bouquets.

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After this the traditional folk dancing began. All the Moseng siblings and their now spouses danced together. Then the Moseng parents joined in another couples dance.  Last it was our turn.

Stina’s mother Lisa came to the mic to instruct us as all were welcomed on the dance floor to learn a few Norwegian folk dances. The first dance was basic, taught to the first graders but by the third or fourth dance the number of steps had increased dramatically. Although there were many mistakes and moments of confusion it was a great way to meet other wedding guests and share in the local and family culture. After trying to do a “Grand March” through the many people on the dance floor the folk dancing ended.

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Stina and Matt of course also did the bouquet and garter toss. This was my first wedding other than my own to not be in line for the bouquet. One of my cousins got the garter at my wedding and this time his older brother got Stina’s.

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The plates were then cleared and Matt and Stina went to cut the traditional European wedding cake. White cake with raspberry and bavarian cream filling was served alongside refills of coffee and tea. The dance floor was opened once again to classic slow dancing and swing music.

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Slowly the non-relative members of the bridal disappeared to decorate the couple’s car. As dancing continued Stina and Matt talked with friends and family guests. Those who traveled from Oregon began to leave having a long day and a car ride to get home.  My family wandered out to the terrace overlooking the waterfront on this beautiful sunny Washington day as Stina and Matt got ready to leave.

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We all gathered outside in the parking lot prepped with bubbles to shower the newlyweds as they left for their honeymoon. When Matt and Stina arrived at his CRV we all pitched in to clear the windshield of Oreos, the sun visors from rice or glitter, the inside of the car from balloons filled with glitter (among many other things). Every window was covered with writing and of course there was a string of cans tied to the back bumper. After a little frustration trying to clean off the car they were off to catch a ferry ride to their hotel for the night.

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Luke and I had a red eye flight to catch that evening back to New York so we took some time to say goodbye and thank you to the bridal party, Stina’s family, and then our own. We headed back to the hotel with Luke’s parents, changed and packed for the airport. Then we left for Seattle for one last night in Washington (see Little Norway and the Emerald City ).

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August 3rd was a beautiful day and it was such a wonderful wedding. Every detail was noticed and appreciated. It takes a lot of work to pull all the the pieces together but with everyone working together the day went pretty smoothly. I was so glad Luke and I could be there to celebrate in such an important day in my brother’s life.

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