Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Beginning of Our First Christmas

I am so thankful I married a man who loves Christmas just as much as I do. As soon as Thanksgiving was over we began decorating for Christmas. The first Sunday after Turkey Day we were picking up our tree at Sleighbells (which we picked out back in September mind you).
This year we began collecting Department 56 Charles Dickens' Village and of course we had to get three to start our village. We expect to pick out one or two each year.

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Thanksgiving at the Strand House

Kenny and I decided this year that we would host a small get together with our two immediate families at our new house. That meant that I was going to tackle the turkey once again. My first turkey was last year and it was quite the learning experience. This year I had some help and support, since my mom was joining us.

It still meant an early morning as I was making cinnamon rolls for breakfast and I needed to get them in the oven before the turkey took-over. Of course this meant turning on the Macy's Day Parade, the fire to take the chill off the house, and coffee pot since it was so early.

I was so happy at how it all turned out. Thank you Mom for all the help. When all was said and done, Kenny and I settled in with our turkey/eggnog comas and happily congratulated ourselves on hosting our first family holiday.

And in good ol' Jennifer & Kenny Strand fashion (yes, I married the man who loves Christmas just as much as I do—I wouldn't have asked for anything less), down came Thanksgiving and up went Christmas.

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Harvest Time

A weekend spent carving pumpkins with the husband and making wreaths with my mom. Pumpkins are from Baggenstos Farm and the wreath material is from Luscher Farm.

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A Much Needed Weekend Get-Away

In early October, Kenny and I were quickly realizing we needed a "reset" button. We had struggled with some family stress, trying to balance our new life together, and still sad over having to give up our puppy (see update at the end of the last blog post). So we decided that we would take a night and travel to Skamania Lodge
Kenny surprised me by upgrading our original room to a fireplace suite. We enjoyed drinks by the fire during a foggy autumn evening.

During the Sunday Brunch, we quickly realized that we MUST come back. All you can eat. Bottomless champagne. A stocked Bloody Mary bar for Kenny. Eggs Benedict. Bananas Foster French Toast. Need I say more?

As we were leaving the concierge told us how beautiful the lodge becomes during Christmas time and how they often get snow. I am thinking we may need a weekend away after the holidays. Maybe birthday weekend?

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

We Have Some Catching Up To Do

Well by this point we all know that Kenny and I tied the knot on August 10th, 2012. It was the wedding of our dreams. We couldn't have asked for a better celebration of our love and we are already talking about renewing our vows one day. We are so happy and so in love!

Needless to say, this whirlwind has got me all backed up on our blog. And I will try and take a moment soon to catch everyone up. We have the bachelor and bachelorette party to cover, as well as the wedding and the honeymoon, but at this time our crazy schedule is keeping us busy, so that will have to wait for another time (I know the anticipation must be killing you!).

But since the wedding, we have added an addition to our family already! He was born two days after we were married and he will be three weeks old tomorrow. Everyone, meet Leonidas, our Siberian Husky. 

We are looking forward to bringing him home at the end of September/first week of October. We will keep everyone updated on our puppy progress.

Two exciting things happened during our week back since the honeymoon: I began my new job, complete with orientation and workshops, in preparation to be a teacher in the Tigard-Tualatin school district. I am so excited! And I've been busy all week preparing for my students. The second thing is huge! On Friday we officially became homeowners! Woo whoo!!!!! We are so thrilled and can't wait to get the keys! Monday afternoon the keys will be handed over to us and then begins the big move! I am so excited to organize, decorate, and paint! So next to work, puppy plans, and a new house, I have a lot of updating to do as the weeks go by! So stay tuned!

*Update: a week into having Leonidas, we quickly realized that he would not be able to fit in our lives at this current time. We reluctantly gave him to a new home, but we knew it was the best thing for him. He is now living with a couple who live on the coast, have one of his older brothers, and his new momma is training him to be a Fire and Rescue dog. So although we still think of him and miss him, we know he is a lot happier and is given a lot more than we could have given him.
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Saturday, July 14, 2012

McMinnville Groupons for Guests

I have talked to several of our guests and since the wedding is essentially a local destination wedding for most, many couples/families are making it a little weekend get-away. I came across a couple groupons from the area that I thought I would share with everyone, just in case one of these wine tastings are of interest. I'll keep a look out for any other groupons from this area to take advantage of.

Embrace Oregon Tours—McMinnville
Four hour wine tour for one or two (up to 55% off)

Sample wines from three vineyards, feast on gourmet snacks, and learn about the region's viticultural history.

Amity Vineyards—Dayton-Amity
Wine tasting for two or four with logo glasses and $15 store credit for wine purchase (up to 55% off)

Well-established winery crafts crisp, food-friendly whites and approachable pinot noirs with estate-grown grapes.

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Tractor Jennifer & A Touch of 'Shabby Chic' (SPOILER ALERT!)

[Let me first start off by saying, if you don't want to know what the guestbook table is going to look like, don't continue reading. It's not set up, but the basic design is there.]


Earlier in the spring, my mom and I, took a little day trip to go visit my Granny and Grandpa up past Woodland, Washington (in a small rural area of Ariel, or is it Cougar?—I don't expect anyone other than my family to know where that is). Grandpa was cleaning out an old shed that was on the property from the previous/first owner (who knows how old the shed was or the things in it? Grandpa and Granny have been living here for as long as I can remember), which had collapsed over the years of snow pack. He found several old white-washed windows, some broken, but most of them intact. So he told me I could take however many I need—when I told him my idea for the guestbook table—and he even let me drive and operate his tractor too!

[*Quick Budget tip: Vintage touches are such an easy way to make a wedding chic and affordable! And you would be surprised what you can find hidden on your grandparents property!]

First time I ever drove one of those things, and although it was incredibly slow (I was maybe going 5 mph, which is hilarious when you look at the picture it appears as though Grandpa is holding onto the back for dear life—I am moving so slow in the picture the iPhone was able to take it in motion without even appearing blurry at all!), it was actually kind of fun (Grandpa even joked that if I was having so much fun I could come up and mow his lawn anytime).

So with the talented help of my engineer student brother (his abilities are endless, from espresso machine refurbisher to farm-grown cook-extraordinar—oh and he roasts and sells his own farm-grown coffee beans which are to die for [not your average joe]!), we were able to create my idea for a guestbook table and for a tri-window screen. I won't give away everything here, because you just have to wait and see. But it is going to be used in the decor in a very awesome way!

Mom and Jonathan cleaned the windows with a vinegar/water mix, and then used a wire brush to brush off the lose flakes of paint (be sure to protect yourself while doing this—old paint is generally lead paint).

There was some metal flashing around the windows that was carefully removed with a chisel and hammer. Old rusted hinges were also removed and replaced with some restored vintage-looking hinges.

The square window was cleaned and sealed (we used Modge Podge to seal the paint because the spray sealant we got turned out shinny, which took away from the 'shabby chic' look). Jonathan cut some pieces of wood (I think the wood is considered a 2 by 2?) and fortunately there were already holes on the dresser that probably once supported a mirror, so he was able to drill holes into the wood and just screw onto the dresser.

The three long windows are all hinged together and can now be folded out to create a window screen.

I am so happy how it all turned out and so grateful that I have such a talented and helpful brother! He did more than just these pieces, but I can't show that here ;)

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

30 Days & Counting, Featuring Big News!

The last couple of days have caused my excitement to build in anticipation of the wedding. Yesterday I had my hair and makeup consultation and this morning I had my first dress fitting! In 30 days (I'm not counting today on purpose! Especially considering its half over!) Kenny and I will be getting married! Eeeeeeee! :D

But...we have some very exciting news! The frosting on the cake or the cheery on top, so to speak! 1) I recently applied for a job as an 8th grade Social Studies teacher and in that same day I got offered the position! Kenny and I are beyond excited that I am finally doing what I love and for what I went to school. To top it off, it was originally a temporary 1 year position and when I went into HR early last week I found out that its a probationary position, which is 3 years! So I get 3 years to rock their socks off so they'll have to hire me permanently! Who wouldn't want me with this resume and portfolio—complete with photo of course?!

And 2) the same day I found out that I had a 3 year contract, Kenny called me when he was out with his groomsmen getting their tuxes fitted, that our offer on the townhome (it was a short sale we offered on back at end of April!) went through and we will be able to close by the end of the month! We're so happy and relieved that we will have a place and we'll be able to begin moving in before the wedding. It will be a crazy busy time! But so worth it in the end! Kenny and I even went out and spent our first big purchase as a couple: a new couch, bed, and mattress. We're so excited for our future.

Well we obviously had a lot to celebrate by the time 4th of July arrived and Kenny celebrated his birthday on the 5th.

Necessities for 4th of July on the Columbia River.
It was definitely time to kick up our feet, have some good food and drinks, visit with family and friends, watch fireworks, and enjoy our time!

The next four weeks until the wedding will be a little chaotic, with last minute wedding details, packing and moving, and planning for my classroom for the fall (another thing: I start my new hire orientation the day after we get back from the honeymoon!). But like Kenny and I said yesterday, we need to call each other fiance A LOT, because pretty soon we won't get to any more!

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Gettin' Hitched Garage Sale

Last weekend, in anticipation of becoming home owners, Kenny and I had a garage sale at my parents home. Thank you so much for everyone who helped and donated to the cause. It was a very successful weekend and will contribute to the purchase of a washer and dryer. I feel so relieved to check this off our to-do list and get back to finalizing wedding plans and projects.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Signed, Sealed, & Delivered

While hitting the three month mark until the wedding, my mom and I were busy assembling the beautiful invitations designed by our dear friend and wedding planner, Taylor, so much was happening. (And we saved so much money having her create the design concept and print them at Kinkos!) It was a relief to be able to cross this off my long list of to-dos.

It has been one of those times in a year when everything seems to happen all at once. I needed to get invitations out, our beloved family cat of 19 years passed away (deeply missing her), I'm in the process of selling my car, there is a zillion things I have to do before moving and the wedding...oh, and, our microwave decides to die! 

So on Monday, with no sub job and record breaking early-May heat, my parents and I decide to take a trip to Bridal Veil, Oregon to mail our specially-made, necessarily-hand-canceled parcel invitations. At first we missed the little pioneer-isk wood shack of a post office (Kenny even commented in seeing pictures later, "...but, that's not really the post office...that's for posterity-sake?" No, that's really the post office!), while driving down the road and I yelled, "That's it!" in time for Dad to turn the car around.

After counting over 80 invitations and choosing our special hand-canceled Bridal Veil stamp, Mom and Dad and I drove another 50 minutes up the Gorge to The Dalles for lunch at one of my favorite pit stops (delicious comfort food and fresh seafood, as well as historical significance). The old Baldwin Saloon.

The saloon is nearly unchanged from the turn of the (20th) century (minus the modern conveniences), except for its top floor now being its main floor (the original saloon is in the basement and is now the kitchen). The Dalles was raised a whole story after the 1894 flood.

As always (when we drive home from The Dalles) we took the scenic route on the Historic Columbia River Highway, which takes us through Corbet and up to Rowena Crest (one of the best views in the Gorge). Every time we drive down this old highway, I can't help but think of the people living here before us and those who viewed the Gorge so much differently than us (prior to dams and modern infrastructure). There is one old home (in Mosier) that I have coveted for years. The last time I drove down the old highway (which has now been a couple of years), the home was for sale and falling to shambles. So it was such a surprise to see the home being refurbished to its original glory. And not only that, but the new owners have also started harvesting grapes (along side the old cherry grove the home stands by) and will be opening their tasting room memorial weekend! (I found the old home online, so if you're interested in reading more and seeing an old photograph of the place, go here.)

Maybe one day Kenny and I will have our dream home (like this one!) along with our Christmas tree farm...

From the old home, we continued to climb up the old highway, up to Rowena Crest where we were delighted to find the wildflowers in bloom against an azure sky and a 2D view (as I always felt large crevasses, like the Grand Canyon, are hard for my mind's eye to fully grasp) of the Gorge.

To close a much needed get-out-of-town-for-the-day trip, we all got Dairy Queen soft serve and headed home to enjoy a cool evening at home (it was 90 in the Gorge!). Now life can resume again...

I can't wait to start receiving RSVPs! As I told Kenny, each little step closer makes it seem more and more official and I get more and more excited for the big day! I can't wait to marry him!
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Friday, May 4, 2012

98 Days & Counting!

I can hardly believe it is May already and we are now in the double digits of our countdown! 98 days until I marry my best friend and teammate. It can't come soon enough!

All of April swept by without even having a moment to sit and update my blog. Things are moving swiftly now, with subbing picking up for me and Kenny working full time and participating in a management program, house hunting, and wedding planning. There has been little time to pause and appreciate the moments of respite, but I believe there will be more time for that soon.

We are right on schedule with our planning. Within the last couple of weeks or so, we have booked our caterer and our day-of coordinator. This week my mother and I took a day to continue hunting for the right MOB dress for her and play with table linens at Barclay Event Rentals. Of course I have to give you all a little sneak peak, because I am just so excited to see it all come together!

Well, two of my favorite spring holidays is coming up tomorrow: Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby (Kenny and I already talked about having a derby party next year when we have our own place—complete with fancy attire, hats, horse gambling, and mint juleps). Any excuse to have a margarita, eat Mexican food, and watch 'majestic' horses run for 60 seconds (is it even that long?).

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