In the kitchen

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Friday, September 28, 2012

wedding prep

What does it take to turn this into a wedding reception hall in 6 short days?
Well, it takes a lot of this:

and lots and lots of love and dedication.

Muscles don't hurt either.

And neither does a successful salamander hunt in your Aunt and Uncle's new woods.

Here is the basic rundown of this past week: finish the house enough so that it is safe and functional for a party (Brock, Patti and Dwight), decorate (everyone), arrange flowers (Kristi), make several videos to show at the reception (Sandi), make a wedding cake (me), buy and prepare food for 200 people (Patti with a little help from Sandi and I) and run around screaming your head off and sometimes sweeping the floor (all four kids).  This list makes it sound as though, Tricia, the bride isn't involved and that, of course, is not at all the case.  She is everywhere, doing everything.  It is truly a marvel all that has happened in six short days. 
Oh, and also on the list:  pick out 250 pounds of lobster for the reception.

Dwight is a lobster fisherman so serving lobster meat at the reception is a wonderful extravegance that is not so hard to swing.  That is as long as you have a willing crew to extract the meat. Patti brought all 250 pounds of lobster to our house yesterday to cook and pick out to be ready to go for Saturday.

Good thing we had a lot of pickers. We picked in the sunshine:

And into the chilly afternoon.

Check out this system!  (All Patti's unending brilliance.)
Complete with a cooling tray.  There are so many things to love about this picture.

Tricia, the beautiful bride in all her downeast splendor. 
We are currently in year 346 of construction on our road and the nearby Main Rd.  Sandi commandeered the sign to reflect our efforts.

All total we ended up with exactly what we needed, 100 cups of lobster meat for approximately three hours of steady picking.

The very small (35 people) wedding is tonight at 7 followed by a massive reception tomorrow night.  Right now, while everyone is at the salon beautifying, I  have entered cake decorating mode in earnest (minus a quick break in between frosting layers to put up this post).
It has been a very fun family week and the cousins have been so excited to be together every day.  The outpouring of family and friends to put this event together is enough to feed on for a week. I keep focusing on my joy for Trish and Brock and the celebration of their relationship so that I don't get too sad thinking about the rights we are fighting for right now.  They are blessed, as we are, to have each other. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

ice cream + a cause = an ideal day

My friend Matt is one of the most decent human beings drawing air.  And his amazing wife Ange is no slouch and often keeps my world spinning rightly on its axis.  I love it when two amazing people join forces and create additional incredible human beings to populate the earth. 

Matt works for a car company called Darling's and  he is in charge of the adverstising department.  Someone in the company came up with this brain child: a charity ice cream truck.  The ice cream is free and donations are accepted to go to whatever cause the truck is dedicated to that day.  How cool is it to work for a company that pays you to go around town and give out free ice cream all day on a Friday?
 Sandi has a classmate, Laurie,  in anesthesia school who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  She has two young kids and is going through the same rigors of this program while undergoing chemo.  Can you even picture this?  We asked Matt if the ice cream truck might be free to dedicate a day to Laurie and her family and he said yes!

Sandi took the the entire day off and we had the best time all over town as a mobile ice cream-giving unit.  The truck even provided us with hats.
This ice cream truck, and the whole experience really, is the coolest thing you ever saw.  Laurie and her family have the University health insurance, the worst possible insurance you could ever hope to not have if you have a chronic medical condition. I spent all of last year on the phone with them trying to convince them of their responsibility to cover my diabetic supplies.  They have major road blocks and pathetic caps on the amount they will spend on you in a calendar year. I am afraid for Laurie just in that regard.

If you donate $25, you get this really cool shirt.

In truth, I really got into the whole thing.

We made a stop at the University of Maine and Matt had a friend there who had a some tricked out mini bikes.  This was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.

Whenever I see people standing near the road in costume, I can't help myself.  I beep and wave.  I'm a sucker for a costume.  I was out on the sidewalk shouting, "Free ice cream!" and I got lots of waves and a couple of customers.  But then I got a man smoking a cigarette who flashed me his nipple.  I find this a strange reaction to seeing a dancing ice cream sandwich on the side of the road, but whatever.

We picked Maya up at preschool and for a while she was the only kid on the truck and she was all over that thing.  Does this picture make anyone else a little nervous?

With her makeshift megaphone she was yelling to people: "Free ice cream! For real!"  People couldn't resist this curly-headed four-year-old passing them chocolate eclairs.
After school, Ange brought her kids and we brought Ella and the twins.  We were bummed that we weren't nearly as busy as we had been in the morning but they still had fun.

I mean running an ice cream truck and dressing up as an ice cream sandwich after school on a Friday?  What could be more fun?

The final total raised for Laurie and her family was $1,939!!!  Matt said the most the truck had raised previously was $600 so this was really a whopping success.  It was all thanks to Matt using his connections with local businesses to get them to match what their employees donated and setting up appointments to be at those businesses at certain times throughout the day.  Thank you so much to Matt and his staff, to Darling's for making this all possible and to all the people who gave so generously!

As Matt said, "I can't think of a better way to spend the day, surrounded by friends, making people smile and helping someone in need."

So if you need a car, go buy it from Darling's okay?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

wood, it heats you up twice

This time of year always reminds me of an unfaithful lover slipping out in the night.

If you weren't paying attention, you wouldn't even realize that summer had left and fall had greedily filled up the space. 

I love fall.  I truly do.  Once I can get over the sadness of losing sun-drenched days when my biggest concern (aside from not losing my mind) is where to go swimming.  I like sweatshirts, crisp air, wood fires, fresh apples, a reprieve from lawn mowing and an early discussion of Halloween costumes as much as the next girl, yet each year I look at fall and think, "Yeah, but you're not summer." 

In the great seasonal score card, falls gets brownie points from me this year just for the relief of not needing to be quite so creative about exercising.  I can now exercise while the kids are at school and I no longer have to leave the house in the dark at 4:45 A.M. only to return in the dark at 5:30.  Lots of dangers lurk in the pre-dawn and it's not cars I worry about.

Yes, in case you are wondering, I have a real fear of being sprayed by a skunk.

One of the other hallmarks of autumn is our annual wood stacking party!  We used to move all of this wood alone and then we got smart.  Have 3 cord of wood delivered. Call your friends. Then call for pizza delivery.

Among our circle, friendship knows no limits.  The Smith's came despite Matt's dedication to Sunday football.  And he didn't just load wood.  He helped split some for the fire pit.  It was a welcome sight to see a man doing some labor around our house for a change.  Matt makes an excellent surrogate husband for us.

Ella hooked Matt up with her radio so he could listen to the game in the basement while he stacked wood.  Yes, our seven-year-old let Matt borrow her boom box.
Sandi was thrilled to be participating in normal life.  You never saw someone so excited to stack wood.

Ange and her trusty side kick.

Billy and Ashley, wood stacking party newbies, were a huge help!

Emilie, who just finished a Half Ironman (totally amazing!), was loading wood like it was no one's business.  At one point she said, "I'm going to PR the next trip."  True story.

Kim came late, but as she said in the message she sent indicating her delay, "I am worth the wait."  Even if Kim didn't lift a single log but just sat there and laughed her infectious laugh, she would have boosted productivity.

The kids were super motivated to help out this year.  I don't know if they remembered getting paid last year or maybe they heard me say, "We will pay you," but they were going to town.



Anna was on self-appointed Cinderella duty.

I don't know if the Smith's were hard up for cash or what, but even Beckett joined in the cause.

Maya was probably the hardest working kid and I got no good pictures of her.  Here you see her, dedicated and safety conscious, helping rake up the detritus with Anna and Matt.

Before we knew it, it was time for pizza and payment.

 They all gave me a hug but perhaps they had no choice since I gave them each $3.
 With just a small pile of wood left to move the following day once a new space could be made to stack it, we took our pizza and beer (smores, not Pumpkinhead for the kids)  to the campfire.  Ella had brought her doll out and was very protective of it (not an ideal toy for a party, I realized belatedly).  She asked Tia to guard it but it got stolen under Tia's momentarily distracted watch which made Tia redouble her efforts.  The gaggle of interested kids and the appraising eyes of her niece made her a tad nervous.

The next day, with Maya's assistance and unbridled enthusiasm, we made quick work of the remaining pile.

From this:

to this:

Thank you to all our friends who helped us this year!  You make even manual labor fun and festive and we love you for it.  You can warm your toes by our fire anytime. 

Actually the thought of a crackling fire sounds kind of appealing.  And applesauce bubbling on the stove.  Fleece zip ups and leaves the color of gold.  Maybe I can get into the idea of fall after all.
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