Monthly Archives: December 2010

a very short engagement…

As we approach New Year’s Eve, Mark and I are getting ready to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary! I am reflecting on our elopement and all the emotions that went with it. I married my best friend on 12/31/2009. It truly has been a year of marital bliss. I hope the honeymoon phase never ends, but I also know that we have the foundation to get through anything life throws at us!

I’ve never had the wedding fantasy. Whether I never thought I’d find my prince charming or figured I wouldn’t be able to afford that sort of affair, I just didn’t ever dream of a big white dress and a traditional wedding. I never ogled engagement rings, knew nothing about diamonds, or ever looked twice at my friend’s wedding dresses. I’m a very low maintenance practical woman, if I don’t say so myself.

But pre-engagement talks suddenly evoked a checklist of things I felt had to be done in order to be married, or engaged for that matter. And those damn bridal magazines? F’em. I blame them most of all for my temporary lack of sanity. Thankfully I was engaged to a reasonable man who helped me keep it all in perspective. And I found A Practical Wedding blog that empowered me to do my own thing.

We didn’t want the “traditional” shin dig. We wanted to have a small private ceremony followed by a big celebration with friends and family. Again, I had no desire to walk down an aisle and be the center of attention. Its kind of odd, because I am an extremely social person who loves to play hostess and throw big parties. I just don’t like being the guest of honor, or public speaking, or all eyes on me.

We started looking at venues for the party. I looked into fun simple ceremonies that could take place in gorgeous park settings if we only had 6 people. I fantasized about a destination wedding on a beach. We were a year out in our planning so we didn’t make a lot of decisions.

Mark started grad school and we discovered that his school health insurance plan wasn’t comprehensive enough for a cancer survivor (childhood leukemia). We then found out his COBRA insurance was possibly going to triple in price in the new year. I have kick ass insurance through my job. We started discussing an elopement. I didn’t want to get married over Thanksgiving or Christmas, so we decided to take New Years Eve and make it our own (just 10 short weeks after our engagement)!

I tried to arrange for a friend that was ordained to marry us at the Conservatory amongst flowers and tropical settings in the dead of winter in Chicago. That fell through with a week to go. My then fiancé kept telling me that all that mattered was that we were going to be married.

I still wanted something pretty and special. The courthouse sounded so sterile (its in a basement…) I started getting nervous, wondering if I was doing the right thing by eloping. Would I regret this? A week before our planned elopement, a health care law was passed making the “need” to elope obsolete. We decided to do it anyways. We were too excited to wait until August by then!

I made a bird cage veil with the help of a family friend that made me “feel like a bride”. The day before the big day, I went to a flower shop and made the most beautiful, simple hand wrapped bouquet I could have ever dreamed up.

We arrived at the courthouse and waited with anticipation with a group of about 20 other couples. Everyone cheered as each couple came out of the judge’s quarters. He said the nicest things to us about the importance of marriage and loving one another. We exchanged rings and made out. It was awesome! Then we checked into a fancy hotel, drank champagne, and had a photographer friend come by for a photo shoot.

For the elopement I decided what was important were pictures to share with everyone since we had no one else present. I didn’t want people to think we did it because we had to. I wanted them to see that we really just wanted to be together. Our pictures turned out more beautiful and unique than I ever could have imagined. I’m so glad we decided to document that piece of our adventure.

We sent out text messages at midnight wishing everyone a “Happy New Year, Love Mr. & Mrs.” On Jan 2nd, which fell on a Saturday, we had a huge brunch (that lasted until 1am) for all of our local friends and made our official announcement that we were married.

And then, we started planning the reception…

Side note: We did talk to our parents over Christmas and received their blessings before we eloped. It didn’t feel right to us to not at least include them in the decision. Given that we are late 30’s/early 40’s, they graciously obliged and supported us.

meatless mondays: on the road again…

When I tell people I’m a vegetarian, they often ask if I get sick of eating salads and wonder what else might be available to eat for someone with my “condition”. Let me tell you that I certainly have never gone hungry! Pasta, bread, beans, cheese, eggs and peanut butter sustain me on a regular basis. I do love a good salad or roasted vegetable platter, but that certainly isn’t all I eat.

When I travel, it can become a little more difficult. I am surprised by the lack of vegetarian options in certain parts of the country. But still, if you ask, you can always modify a menu item to be vegetarian. Show me a sandwich shop that won’t make you a cheese sandwich. It might not be what you really want to eat, but there will be something vegetarian you can come up with.

As I write this today, I’ll be having my meatless monday meal at Denver International Airport (sorry, no recipe post today!). I’ve pretty much got my routine down there. There is the Timberland Restaurant that specializes in Buffalo Burgers and Rocky Mountain Oysters (obviously NOT vegetarian). While they don’t offer a veggie burger option, they do have nachos. You just have to request “no meat” mixed in with your beans. Einstein Bagels offers veggie sandwiches, salads, and of course, bagels with cream cheese. Cheese pizza is pretty easy to find too.

My favorite part of the country for vegetarian travel is the west coast. Washington, Oregon, and California cater to freaks like me! Smoked tofu and portobello mushroom burgers are commonplace. Bacon doesn’t come with everything. And salads actually contain vegetables and nuts instead of chunks of ham or chicken.

Someday the rest of the country will catch up and offer these easy delights more readily. Until then, grilled cheese it is! Safe travels to you and yours during this holiday season!

have yourself a merry little christmas…

The tree is trimmed. The Irish Cream has mingled. And I’ve mastered the secret family peanut brittle recipe! (for those of you who don’t know, its not the sticky, rock hard variety you buy in the store). Are we there yet?

I think I did pretty well this year. I didn’t over spend and I only ended up with a few extra stocking stuffers that probably didn’t need to be purchased. My cards turned out pretty darn cute, if I don’t say so myself, and my husband even helped me decorate them with glitter glue!

I’m looking forward to being home in Colorado with my family and partaking in our annual traditions: looking at the lights around the city, finding new pj’s under the tree on Christmas eve, opening our stockings Christmas morning, and eating “monkey bread” with our coffee. I’m not particularly looking forward to traveling, but hopefully the weather and flights will cooperate.

Since my husband is joining in the festivities this year, we are treating him to his family’s “Breakfast Casserole” along with our carb-alicous monkey bread. I’ve also added in a mandatory dinner out at a local mexican restaurant so we can get our “authentic green chili” on. Hopefully the New Belgium Brewery or the Odell Brewing Company will be open for a tasting. And we’ll definitely watch a local Broncos game on t.v. (and cheer them on whether they are losing or not!).

I hope you all enjoy your holiday celebration with your families, practicing old traditions or creating new ones. Take a moment to relax and be thankful for time with your loved ones. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year!

meatless mondays: short cut to lasagna…

With Christmas just a few days away, I am feeling a little scattered. Last minute errands, busy stores, travel preparations, and full time work leave little time for cooking. With all of the holiday goodies I’ve been nibbling on, I really need to sit down and eat a hearty, filling meal.

This week, I opted to make a quick and easy lasagna with a few cheats. Usually, I like to use my fun Trio Lasagna pan to make 3 separate types of lasagna. It takes me at least an hour to put it all together from scratch though. Hectic times like these call for a few shortcuts.

This lasagna takes about 10 minutes to assemble. Instead of boiling noodles, use the Barilla no-cook noodles. They have a bit of a different doughy flavor, but when you are in a hurry, they are just fine. To save time, this recipe also uses jarred sauce, pre-shredded mozzarella, and frozen chopped spinach. I’m not usually an advocate of these convenience packaged foods, but its better than ordering Chinese take out!

Recipe: Quick and Easy Lasagna

1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
2 jars spaghetti sauce (I like Newman’s own brand)
1 bag frozen chopped spinach
2 cans sliced mushrooms
1 container ricotta cheese
1 bag pre-shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmasan cheese
1 egg
~10 basil leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp salt

Pre-heat oven to 400. In the bottom of a 9×11 casserole dish or roasting pan, pour about 1 cup of spaghetti sauce and spread evenly. Add a layer of the uncooked noodles to cover the bottom of the pan.

Mix the ricotta, egg, and chopped basil together into a paste. Spread a thick layer onto the noodles. Top with another layer of uncooked noodles. Cover with sauce.

Saute drained spinach and mushrooms with salt and garlic for 5 minutes and drain off any excess water. Layer onto saucy noodles. Top with another layer of noodles, sauce, and mozzarella cheese. If you have a deep pan, add another layer of noodles, sauce, and parmesan. If not, just top with parmesan.

Cook for ~ 35 minutes or until bubbly all through and browned on top. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with bread and a green salad. Have left overs all week!