On weddings.

By the end of this year, a good percentage of my closest friends will be married. It blows my mind a little that the season we talked about in hypotheticals is now upon us. Bridesmaids dresses, bachelorette parties, gifts! And then there's the mental preparation for such a shift. I find that the abstract shifts are the ones that require the most mental preparation. These changes aren't marked by a new grade or title, but rather by the passing of the days all leading up to one.


Did I tell you I'm officiating one of my very close friend's weddings? She asked me over gchat one day while we were at our respective jobs, discussing various details about her wedding. "Would you do it?" she typed. "Would you officiate our wedding?" A hot flash went over me—the excited nerves of being put on the spot.

There's something you should know: I'm known as a crier among my friends. It's become an inside joke (with more people on the inside than the outside), and through the years I've learned to own how easily I am moved to tears. This is what gave me pause when she asked me.

"Will you be able to do it without crying?" she joked.

"I would be honored to do that for you. If you wanted that, I would love to do it for you," I typed with clammy hands. We joked that we'll do a bunch of dry runs—her walking into a room wearing her wedding dress, music playing low while I sit watching her enter and re-enter until my eyes are dry.

This was several months ago, and the idea has become another detail of their upcoming wedding. I no longer get clammy hands at the thought of it, and I've begun researching how to become ordained (it's surprisingly easy). I've been watching wedding videos, reading wedding blogs, flipping through poetry books looking for any bit of inspiration where I can find it. I haven't written much more than a very rough draft, but I trust that all these little bits will come together in the end, much like the wedding itself.


It's interesting to track the evolution of the language I use with my closest friends; the conversations we are having now that we have never had before. Over dinner and wine, Meg turned serious and said, "I'll want you to be my maid of honor." It had begun as a joke and suddenly we were in an emotional moment. She is not engaged, but there we were, planning her wedding.

This past weekend, people came into town for pre-wedding activities for our friend Nicole's wedding in July. Friday night was my second bachelorette party ever, and I found myself turning to Crysty and yelling over the music, "I feel like I'll never be this happy again!" We laughed at the absurdity of that sentence, at the idea of being the happiest I'll ever be at a drag show in a seedy-looking bar in the middle of Bay Village, but there was some truth in it, too. After college, we all drifted to our various chosen cities—some of us to several chosen cities since then—so these big life events are finally what has brought us all back together again and again.

When someone asks if I think Mike will propose anytime soon, I smile and say that I'm not sure, but I'm cherishing being fully present for this part of several of my friends' lives. I'm thankful that I'm not distracted or preoccupied by planning my own wedding so I can relish the anticipation of theirs. And the truth is, I want this phase in our lives to take its sweet time, for these reasons to keep bringing us all back to my living room, to Jenna's kitchen, to Jacque's Cabaret for as many years as possible. There's no rush as long as we're all together.


Made | Almond butter

Growing up, I was never really into peanut butter. It was too thick and always detracted from what I really wanted from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich: the sweet, sweet jelly. When left to make my own lunches growing up, I always cheated—smearing a transparent layer of peanut butter on one piece of bread and using a spoon to scoop the jelly for the other piece. 

I'm happy to report that my palate has matured since those jelly sandwich days. I was introduced to almond butter by an old roommate (who also introduced me to hummus and the magic of using oatmeal as a base for nut butters, including nutella...). At first I thought it looked like a lot of work, all that stirring the separated oils, and so on. But along with a matured(-ish) palate, I've also gotten less lazy in the kitchen, so I thought I'd give homemade almond butter a try. Besides, when you have a Vitamix, you want to make all the recipes that include the word "blend." 

I will say that even in the official Vitamix cookbook, the recipe for almond butter calls for the addition of oil, but I wanted to see if I could leave that bit out and use as much of the almonds' natural oils as possible. After a quick Google search, I discovered that roasting almonds helps bring out their natural oils, so into the oven at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes they went. Keep a good eye on them, as they tend to burn easily. Once they start to get a little darker in color and smell great, you're probably done. Let them cool a bit before placing them in the blender (but not before popping one or two in your mouth while they're still warm—they seriously taste like a baked good!).
This is the part where you have to stay the course. The blender's motor sputtered and quit a couple times, so I just had to let it cool off and try again. The trick was keeping the tamper active while it blended. If you'd like, you can melt a little bit of coconut oil and mix it in there.
We did it! Though I wouldn't recommend trying this (especially without the oil) with a less powerful blender, I think a heavy duty food processor might be able to get the job done. 
And, boy, is it worth it. I made an almond butter sandwich the next day, this time without the jelly.


Made | Simple winter hat with neon pom pom!

I found this neon yarn when I was home this past Christmas. I had made several of these scarves, and my stepmom wanted me to make her one, too. We went to Michaels so she could pick out the yarn she wanted, and I couldn't help but pick up three skeins of this chunky neon yarn. I got this neon pink, highlighter yellow, and a neon orange. I figured what better way to bring a pop of color to the predominantly white landscape of winter than with neon pom poms, and I was right. I love how soft it is, and it fashions into the poofiest, fluffiest pom I've ever made. 
The hat itself is a simple pattern I came up with, tall enough to fold the brim over for warmer ears, but short enough to wear as a floppy hat, letting that neon pom bounce around in the wind. We're nearing the official start of spring, but I have a feeling we'll be braving 20 degree weather for a while yet, so this hat is my plan on how to transition into spring without freezing to death. 
Want your own simple hat with neon pom? You can find it in the shop here and here.