Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bleh. Blah. Blechh.

Today is Saturday, November 22...

During a typical year, this is an awesome, awesome time. We're heavy into Thanksgiving preparation, I'm wrapping up Christmas shopping, and I'm putting out a few decorations, refraining from going crazy because if I were allowed to put out everything I had, we would have a house that looks like that one German restaurant, Rolf's, in New York around Christmastime.

This is just a piece of it; the entire restaurant is OVER THE TOP!!

I really, really want to go there. We tried, the one year I went to NYC in December (THE BEST EVER TIME TO GO), but they were booked for hours.

Okay, that cheered me up a little. I heart Christmas so.

Anyway...normally this is a wonderful time for me. It's not 19 degrees when I wake up, the leaves are still hanging on, and everything has a crisp excitement to it, from the Winter Wonderland at Wal-Mart to the early Christmas decorations to the prospect of Dad's Au Gratin potatoes to ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas specials.

I wish I could say this year was the same...I wish I could make this knot in my midsection dissolve, I wish I didn't feel like crying every time reality reminded me of its presence, and I wish I could make my new husband happy.

I started my new job this week, and while it's not exactly my dream come true (just the words "government documents" make me fall asleep), the people I work with make it wonderful. Sarah is infinitely patient with me (and how great it is to work with one of my best friends!), Annie is sweet and SO helpful, Tom's a riot, Abbey is awesome, I'm truly lucky to have Susan as a boss, and thank HEAVEN, Brando and I are friends again! I missed her so much. Between Lindsay (hello dear!), Shannon, Polly, and Andrea these past few months, it seems to be the time for renewing lost or forgotten friendships. It makes me really happy...especially amongst all the not-so-happy events of this year!

I still, as you have no doubt heard me bitching about, am putting in my hours at Stephens. It's not that I dislike the job at all; cataloging theatre, dance, art and fashion books? Are you kidding? LOVE IT. But squeezing in 20 more hours when I haven't worked for 40 in nearly four tough. Not to mention the 35-45 minute commute to JC each way. I think I can get into a groove and become used to the schedule. I've certainly done it before, working at Jesse and DBRL and the University, along with Harlequin here and there. Thankfully, my sleeping pattern adjusted to the new schedule immediately--I started going to bed before ten every night, and am pretty much adhering to that daily. It hasn't been hard at all. I still haven't managed to overcome the 2:30-onwards slump that is happening every day, but I'm sure with enough caffeine, we can work together to make it bearable.

What makes me so unhappy isn't the schedule...or the fact that it's FREAKING cold for November. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but I know I'm not making Neil happy. I see him smiling in photos Emily took long ago, or when we first met, or even when we got engaged, and I wonder what I can do to make him smile at me like that again. I feel like I'm trying really hard to take care of things around the house, but I'm not good enough--and this is true without question. I would love to be a perfect Bree Van De Camp Donna Reed, and make his eyes roll back in his head with my perfect pie crust and dust-free surfaces, but it's going to be awhile before I have a handle on all that--if ever! I know this is nothing new for wives and moms to think about; we're all over the place. And it isn't like I have a baby or anything important than I can pinpoint as a *reason* I'm letting my duties fall by the wayside.

I don't know that this is the reason he seems sad--I know he's having trouble dealing with everything else life has decided to chuck at his head these past months. We both are. It absolutely kills me to see him so beaten down, and know that I can't do a thing except bring him a Hawaiian pizza from Papa John's; when I try to talk to him about what's been going on, I only make it worse. I think I get so caught up in the "ME" aspect of it (i.e., focusing on how I'm feeling in response to his sadness, instead of focusing on him) that I sound selfish.

Sigh. I feel helpless and unable to enjoy much of anything this glorious season usually brings. I'm listening to Emily's brother Steven's Christmas playlist on his blog to make the atmosphere a little cheerier.

Back to cataloging. Here's to momentary distractions!

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm feeling icky.

I am restless and worried and bordering on panicky...I can't seem to get into anything these days. Tuesday was, of course, totally fun and filled with a lot of laughter and smiles, but I feel like it was a bright spot in a whirl of darkness. We keep getting bad news about Paul (nothing too serious in terms of his illness, but he's suffering), Neil is tired all the time, and I'm trying to cram in everything I can before life becomes severely work-centered next week. And I haven't been sticking to my eating plan as I should--probably because eating fun things is one of the only perks I get these days!

I feel like this has been the roughest fall. Ups and downs every day (and lately, downs almost always), and I HATE rollercoasters. I'm happy to have the wedding done with--which is what I said the whole time: "I want to be married, but I am on the fence with this whole wedding thing." I've determined for sure that I'm not a wedding person. I'm glad we did it...I know I'd always regret it if we just went to City Hall or something. But wow, did it affect us. Wow. And now we're going to be in the hole even deeper than we ever were...and even a month later, the costs keep rolling in. Yuck!! I have no clue how we're going to get through Christmas. Usually (as you may know), mid-November is when I start getting really excited about the upcoming holidays, but this year they seem to be speeding toward us too fast...and I know after that will come the most depressing three months of the year. Whee.

I start work on Monday, moving from a 20-hour week to a 60-hour one, which will obviously be miserable, but I know this needs to happen. I'm going to love working with Sarah and Susan, and everyone else sounds really cool (and I know Annie and Abby somewhat), so I'm not nervous about starting as I usually am when a new job begins. But, wow, I feel overwhelmed with home-duties even now...what's it going to be like when I'm home less 40-plus hours a week (with an hour of driving each day)?

I thought last night would be another bright spot. I'd been dying to show Neil "Sweeney Todd," and I scored really good seats--front row balcony, my favorite place in Jesse. But, dammit, they did it all artistically or whatever, with no real set pieces except a big black coffin, no costume changes, no props except for the very basics, and all the cast members played instruments throughout. I was so disappointed! This was Neil's first time, and I was so looking forward to showing him one of my favorite shows. And it is a HARD show to understand ANYWAY!! I felt so guilty for subjecting him to it. Neither of us had a good time, and I let a few tears flow during "Nothing's Gonna Harm You" because I've done such a piss-poor job of taking care of anyone lately.

And, there was no chair. NO CHAIR!! They brought out this little white coffin and acted like THAT was the chair. It was NOT the chair. Joanna had brown hair, even though they still sung about her flaxen hair. NO blood ran down anyone's throat. Instead, the whole stage was bathed in red light while the whistle sounded. And? PIRELLI WAS A CHICK. For some reason, I never approve when shows substitute girls in for guy roles--like at Hickman's "The Man Who Came to Dinner" (NOT the version I was in). The final nail in the coffin was when I saw that Bob Bohon was The Beadle. Ugh. His nasty vibrato punched through every song, and I winced whenever he had a solo. It was strange--this was a touring show, so you'd never expect a local actor to be a part of it unless it's Nutcracker with local dancers (like Lily did when she was tiny). But apparently Bohon's on tour. Hallelujah.

I'm bitching. I know.

I don't know what exactly is going on, or how it can be remedied. But I know something's different.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Today's the day.

Remember this post, way back in February?

(You may not, since I didn't really have what one would call a "readership" back then. And by "readership," I do mean each and every three of you.)

Anyway, I'll save you a click--it said something to the effect of "If there's a reunion, we are so there."

There IS a reunion.

And we are almost there.

Today is Tuesday, October 11, and I'm about to hit the hay. But when I wake up (it'll still be Tuesday because I'm up late), it's go time. It's Step Five. It's the Sprint Center in Kansas City with darling Emily and darling Sarah.

I CANNOT TELL YOU how excited I am!

It's been a long road, getting here. In May or so, they announced it: they were coming back, and had a fairly limited number of tour dates that would go on sale soon. The closest to us was Chicago, and I half-heartedly attempted to gather the old crew back (I'm so happy you're having a baby, Alena, but next time--time it to come WAY AFTER the New Kids' reunion, huh? We miss you!) the time I checked for tickets, a few days after they went on sale, they were gone. (Oh, wait, there were a few deluxe $500 tickets left. Those tickets that let you have a whole room with food service and stuff. But they're way up high! Who wants to be FAR from Joey? Who would WANT that?)

I was sad, but Chicago would have been tough for everyone.

THEN....they added dates.


I was totally determined to get to the St Louis or Kansas City show, but knew my friends may have needed a little convincing.

Now, Sarah and a couple local friends had asked if I wanted a bachelorette party. "Eh," I said. Sitting around in a circle opening lacy underthings and penis pasta from Olde Un and pretending not to be COMPLETELY uncomfortable? Eh.

What I'd really love would just be a girls' night/weekend, where we'd hang out, eat dinner somewhere wonderful, play board games, watch DVDs of Who's The Boss and Hangin' Tough Live in the hotel room....

Wait, what?

Why, I asked myself, should we limit ourselves to a mere video??

So I CHOSE my bachelorette party. "Sarah," I said. (I called her the moment I got the idea.) "I know what my bachelorette party should be!"

"Oh, good!" she replied. (I don't think she knew what she was getting herself into.)

Of course, Sarah being the sweet, sweet, always accommodating friend that she is, was all for it...we roped dear Emily into joining us, decided on Kansas City since it was roughly in between all of us...and I waited one Saturday by the computer for the tickets to go on sale. They were supposed to go on sale at midnight. I was ready at 11:45.

At midnight exactly, I clicked on "3 tickets" at the "Best available" rate, and waited in anticipation.

"System down for maintenance every Saturday at midnight. Please check back later."


"Listen up, Ticketmaster or whatever it was. DO NOT release tickets to the public at MIDNIGHT when your SYSTEM is MAINTAINING at that exact time."

I tried several more times, wondering if they'd do it quickly...but no.

So, after coming to the realization that this may be a long night, I settled onto the couch, with my cell phone set to ring every half hour to wake me up so I could keep checking. And that's what I did.

Shortly after five a.m., I got in. I have no idea how good our tickets are...they seemed okay, according to the seating plan, but I was sleep-deprived and excited and delirious. It may not have surprised me if I later discovered I'd booked us great seats to see Michael Flatley instead.

Since then, several things have happened.

1. I got married

2. "The Block" was released, providing some extra study material for the show, since surely they're not going to release a CD in the middle of their tour and not promote it.

Because of #1, I hadn't had much of a chance to listen to the new CD until mid-October.

It's not bad,'s about sex. A lot. And I'm no prude...but...Joey's talking about sex?!! My Joey? This Joey here?

(Oh, this is SOOO my favorite Joey-look. Muffin-top, almost out of control hair [yet carefully controlled at the sides and back], slim-fitting jackets and pants, unnaturally consistent skin tone, and guyliner. His voice also got real cute and froggy at this stage.)

Okay, to be fair, a lot of the sex-talk comes from Donnie. He was always the dirty, sexy one.

I really have to go to bed. But I'll close with tonight's tragedy:

I knew I wanted to take my NKOTB CDs for the car ride with Emily. Hangin' Tough and Step by Step, as well as the new one. I hadn't gotten them out of their alphabetized folders yet, because I knew exactly where they were: in our media cabinet, where they had been since we moved in last September.

Which we had emptied and rearranged to be more user-friendly before the wedding.

I *believe* I packed the CD folders into tubs at some point, but didn't label it, thinking "I'm pretty dumb, so I won't label this. After all, it contains my entire CD collection. Why would I ever need it again?"

I went methodically through every tub I could get to tonight, needing to hear "I Remember When" or "Games" or "Call it What You Want"--the more obscure numbers I had almost forgotten.

No soap.

So I'll stick to "The Block," putting my fingers in my ears whenever Donnie talks about the girl making a grown man ready to blow or anything having to do with cream.

I'll be back Wednesday, with a full report to follow, and maybe even photos that I took!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


We're back from a long weekend in Ohio, and while there are piles of clothes waiting to be unpacked and washed and put presents waiting to be made room for...bills waiting to be paid...Google Reader with numbers of unread items creeping toward after show on the DVR waiting to be caught up with...e-mails not even glanced at...well, I feel like doing absolutely nothing.

Nothing nothing nothing.

Speaking of nothing, I started a new blog, called It's Only For Tags. Can you guess what its content may be? You don't have to read it if surveys/memes/tags aren't really your thing. You don't have to read it even if they are. But I thought I'd let you know.

As a last, mini-honeymoon treat (and a Last Meal for me before I'm Back On Plan), I ordered Macaroni Grill Curbside tonight. I asked for *two* bread rounds, one for each of us! How naughty are we?! So I should go get that. It means getting up out of my chair, which is highly outside my current comfort zone, but I can't recreate the Vodka Sauce or the Lemon Passion cake at home, so I don't have much of a choice. But I'm not going to change out of my lounge pants. No sir!


Monday, November 3, 2008

The post-wedding reception!

On October 18, Ellie and Paul, Genevieve and Neil, and possibly Aaron Wilbers and his beloved, were wed (not all to each other...separately to each other. Like, Ellie with Paul, Neil with Genevieve, and so on).

Rather than fight for reception guests, we decided to hold a Week-After wedding bash, on October 25...and while one profoundly rude guest told us we 'really shouldn't be spending this much' on a wedding celebration and dragging it out, given the economy (I wanted to say "Erm, do you KNOW how much I spent on this wedding? I DARE YOU to throw your kid a wedding on this shoestring of a budget, you grumpy, stingy old man"), I enjoyed spreading out the functions. I mean, a wedding in and of itself is an extremely highly-planned event (EVEN WHEN YOU THINK IT'S GOING TO BE SIMPLE)...why throw a crazy party *right* after it, then leave on an exotic crazy trip *right* after that? By the end of all that, I would have been crazy. I cried like ten times for absolutely no reason on the big day. Lord knows what a mess I would have been in if I had a surprisingly inappropriate DJ or Gilbert got drunk at the open bar and started hitting baseballs at my head or our flight was delayed and we had to hang out in an airport for hours on my wedding night.

Anyway. I had no worries, none at all, because the Millers did e-ver-y-thing. Everything. When I asked Sarah what time we should show up before the party, to help with last-minute stuff, she thought for a second and said "Well, can you come at 6:45? Just to make sure you're here to welcome your guests." Yes. Yes, we can come fifteen minutes early.

For fun, Lily, Jordan, Gilbert and I made mini-caramel apples on Friday for the party, puttering around the kitchen, developing a system (how I love developing systems!) on how best to proceed.
The steps:
1. Wash apples (Gilbert washed them all, Empire, Jonagold, and Granny Smith)
2. Regular lollipop sticks (from Michael's) had to have their ends snipped off at an angle to make sticking them into the apples easier (Lily did most of these, but I believe Jordan and Gilbert did a little as well)
3. Melon-ball one apple at a time (usually me. The Jonagold were easiest, as they were the softest kind of apple, but the Empire were shiny-red and looked the best. The Granny Smith were hardest, but that also meant they kept the longest later, and the bright green looked really good at the end. Each apple gave from 5-9 balls.)
4. Immediately, lemon juice was squirted on the balls to prevent browning (this, and the following 3 steps, were primarily Gilbert's job)
5. Stick lollipop stick into the skin-side of the apple
6. Dry apple off as much as possible with paper towel so caramel will stick better
7. Dredge apple ball in regular sugar to add to dryness (tried powdered sugar...didn't work as well)
8. Carry bowl of speared apple balls to Dipping Stations, where Lily and Jordan would dip the balls in either caramel or semi-sweet chocolate, with optional white nonpareils or pecans, then plop them into gold-colored paper candy cups (also from Michael's). Put in fridge.
9. Someone yells "There's no more room in the fridge! There is absolutely no more room in the fridge." Lily: "There is always room in the fridge." And she makes room. Don't know how. But she does.

They came out really well, and super cute. We set them up with the Betsy-Amy cookies at Sarah's (well...we brought them over, and they set them up), and they were a big hit. I thought about taking photos during the creating process, but then I was all "How do people take photos during cooking without getting the camera all sticky or flour-y, or having to take a break and wash their hands every time they wanted to take a photo? And sometimes if the camera is small enough, might there be a danger of it dropping into the batter such as when making something like a bundt cake which has a fairly deep pan and the camera might be slipped in by a precocious toddler without you even knowing it until someone bites into their piece and thinks it's a cake charm, like in those Mardi Gras cakes where if you get a baby in your piece it means you'll have a baby, or a horseshoe means you'll have good luck, or a Four of Cups card means you'll die within the week? And what would a camera even mean? Or something?"

Back to the subject at hand. I can't promise I won't digress again, though.

Saturday was a mildly busy day, but not crazy. I ran some gourds & pumpkins over to Sarah's, and we had a *wonderful* time unwrapping all those glorious cookies, courtesy of Miss Betsy Arthur and her cookie-decorating friend Amy (SO beautiful, I can't even tell you). I drove back to Dad's so Lily could do my hair and nails next (navy blue nails, since my dress was a little edgy and dammit, so am I). Neil met me at Dad's an hour before we were to leave, so Emily could take photos of our rings-slash-Doc Martens, my idea for the traditional wedding-rings photo, since I totally hate my stubby fingers and we joked about having Sarah M. stand in for mine even though the ring would look like a hula hoop on a tetherball pole. It was so fun to find aesthetically pleasing configurations for trying to fit both rings and shoes in the photo, and at one point we ended up on our backs on the lawn, legs thrown in the air, arms held up, *simply* to get the pretty yellow-fall-colored tree in the background of the shot. On the plus side, Ems said my cleavage looked fabulous.

I went inside to get dressed, and since we were running a bit late, I rushed out in my dress and fantastic shoes, not really pausing to let everyone enjoy my fabulousness. But Neil wouldn't let me just run off...he looked dazzled, and it made me feel absolutely gorgeous. He does that a lot. He gave me a big, face-holding kiss in front of everyone (have I told you how much I adore the face-holding kiss?), stood back to look at me, and I swear I felt like he was seeing me for the very first time again. Man, I got lucky with him.

In a few minutes, we took off...Neil and I in my car, everyone else piled into the remaining vehicles.

What a gorgeous evening Saturday was!! When Neil and I pulled up to the Millers', we shared a moment, looking at the almost-set sun over the beautiful Rocheport hills, marveling at the day. Dad and company were right behind us, and we trooped in, me feeling fabulous in my wild Igigi Sunset Over Maui maxidress with orange shrug (which apparently is no longer sold, so I can't show you a photo...on the other hand, I'm glad I bought it before it became unavailable) and shiny purple ballet flats with steel-gray bubbles on the toes. (Okay, they're hard to explain without making them sound idiotic. But they are so, so cute, and shopping for them with Lily and Jordan was an awfully fun time.)

Kaye's house was perfectly beautiful, with fires in the fireplaces and outdoors (in a safe way, not in a "Oh crap, FIRE!" way), with stunning silvery pumpkin centerpieces, gourds and pumpkins everywhere, low, party-friendly lighting (without veering into Seven-Minutes-In-Heaven territory), delicious finger foods laid out on the dining table (skewers of pork and apricots with an orange glaze, colorful vegetables and dill dip, pickled shrimp, a variety of cheeses [can we say "artesan cheeses," like in restaurants? Would that be okay? I don't know what it means, but it sure sounds cultured], hot apple cider on the stove, a variety of bottled beer [including a six-pack of Blue Moon in the fridge labeled "FOR THE GROOM"], spinach balls [Stephen, don't be dirty], hot olives [YES!!] and an unspeakably delicious sweet pumpkin dip with fruit and gingersnaps), Tom Andes playing (on the stereo, not in person--that would have been dangerous) and the most beautiful view of the night sky.

Folks began arriving right on time (no early birds, em!), for the most part without any problems (except poor Suzy, who called my cell phone to say "Am I supposed to be seeing pigs? Did I go too far?")...they trickled in regularly all evening, and while I never got a final head count (*why* didn't I think of putting a counter on the door?!! Stupid, stupid me--those stats would have been good to tell the Board we need more money at the next meeting. Oh, wait, I'm thinking of libraries. never mind...), there was always a healthy crowd...I'm thinking maybe 50 folks, milling around the food, paging through and signing our Lily-Gilbert-and-Emily created guest book, getting to know new people, enjoying the view outside, sitting by the fire...the evening truly flew by, and while I am not that comfortable entertaining a bunch of people at once (unless it's as a Peasant in "Pippin" and I have full face makeup on), I loved having the opportunity to grab short but meaningful chats with people I don't really see regularly anymore.

After a couple hours or so, Sarah and Kaye began passing out glasses of champers for the toast. We all gathered in the living room, and Neil and I sat front and center (Lynnie sat on the floor leaning on our knees, the cutie!) while Sarah grabbed her self-proclaimed "30 seconds of fame" and gave a toast that was so perfect and heartfelt. She talked about our friendship, as old as the hills, and referenced the fact that, given our two strong and stubborn personalities, we'd always gotten along famously (snort)...but, of course, it has withstood the test of time. She also said there was something else that she couldn't talk about, that she'd tell me later. (I had a feeling I knew who it was about.) Neil and I lifted our Moscato d'Asti (my faaaaaavorite!) and the whole crowd joined us in the toast.

Next...Steve and Joe took their places up front, with a very dapper Mike Straw at the piano, and sung "When I'm 64" again. No banter this time, but I'm so glad everyone got to hear the song.

Before I knew it, it was 10:00 and I'd never gotten to try my pumpkin dip!! People were taking their leave, so I was finally able to fight my way to the dining table and loaded up with dip, apple slices, and flower-shaped gingersnaps. That stuff was better than I could have ever imagined, and because the crowd was dying down, I was able to fully enjoy it, without feeling guilty that I wasn't making the rounds.

Who was there? Well, I'll tell you! (from memory, here, folks,'s gonna be wrong)

Emily (THANK YOU for the bonus photos that day!), and her parents Steve and Jeanne joined later
The Millers, of course: Sarah, Kaye, and Bill
My family: Dad, Steve, Lily (plus Gilbert), and Joe (plus Tina)
The Parshalls: Lynn, Tim, and Jordan
The Cookes, from Kansas City: Debbie and Tom
The Quirk/Parkes: Catherine, Tom, and James
The Zoellerses: Amy, Jason, and lil Clyde
The Atkinses: Amanda, Braden, and cute Carmen
The Zimmermans: Leesa and Don
Mike Straw
Lillian Hedgepeth, all the way from Doniphan, MO!
Elaine Martin--who told me Andrea is going to be on Made really soon!
Corrie H.
The Irwins: darling Sarah and Dylan
The Horners: Kevin, Catherine, and Andrew
The Rodemans: Juliet and Ralph
The Harrisons: Phil and Jan

(That list was really for me...I don't blame you for skimming it.)

Finally, only the Millers, Dawsons and partners, and Dazets were left. Dad and company loaded up their cars with presents and took off, and Neil and I said we'd be joining them soon after to unwrap gifts (I couldn't wait!! And besides, Lily and Gilb had to leave at like nine the next morning, and ain't no way I'm getting out of bed before then if I don't have to). We had a nice little time then with the Millers, beginning to clean up (Sarah boxing me up some extra pumpkin dip, veggies, and hot olives), when Sarah said "Stop! Everyone, let's just sit down and relax for a minute."

We sat around in the living room, tired but happy after such a wonderful evening. Sarah handed Neil and I the mysteriously long package wrapped in silvery music-note paper ("A cello bow?" I guessed), and we unwrapped....The Sign!! The wooden painted Sign, a twin to the one that I have forever admired, that every year sits on the Millers' mantel, reading "I Believe in Santa Claus," reminding me of Joey McIntyre's froggy little voice during his solo number on the "Merry Merry Christmas" tape (NOT available on CD, folks). I finally have The Sign!! What a perfect wedding gift. :) Along with the reception. That was pretty freaking great, too.

Sarah confided what she couldn't say during the toast, that when Mom was really sick, Sarah told her she'd take care of me. So pretty much, I can't type that without tears welling up (even a week later, Betsy!).

Eventually, we gathered up the guest book, spare cookies, dip, olives, Sign, bridal bag, and weary feet, and started the hilly drive to Dad's house. He, Gilbert, and Lily were waiting for us, surrounded by gaily wrapped presents ALL FOR US!! I felt so spoiled and pampered knowing so many people had made such an effort to acknowledge our marriage...I have ever said it's not about the gifts, and I still think that (it's one of the reasons we didn't register), and everything from a Facebook comment of congratulations to a gorgeous card (Lindsay? SO pretty, SO PRETTY!!) just makes my day, and presents just feel like icing on an already-rich cake. I have to admit, I *could* get used to opening twenty presents all the time...but that's just it...I don't want to get USED to it!

Paul (my brand-new brother in law) was talking this weekend during his sermon about presents, and how when kids are overloaded with presents, the gifts begin to lose meaning, and the child just starts to not really care. I agreed wholeheartedly, and feel like presents in any occasion should not be expected, really. I love giving presents, and I love getting them, but I don't like they they have become the norm for everything.
{{end parenthetical}} was a wonderful and surprising experience, and I was blown away, especially when we unwrapped my siblings' gift to reveal a freaking BEAUTIFUL Empire Red Kitchenaid standing mixer. In a million years, I would not have guessed I'd get one of those!!! Wow.

In a post-unwrapping glow, Neil and I bade our farewells and drove back happy with the life we'd begun together. And looking forward to the next day: Indian food with Sarah! Oh Lamb Korma with Cheese Nan, I may only indulge in you once a year, but I think of you for the rest of it.