random olio 2014

It has been a full year. I traveled to Shanghai, Chicago, Oakland a few times, to LA, Bend, oh the list goes on. I went to a few weddings, luckily no funerals. I worked countless hours in the office, and at home on my couch. I visited my niece, Facetimed with her and my sister, and missed them in between. We saw family, friends, and played on our own a bit in other parts of the country and the world. I went No Poo in 2014, and then started using loo poo shampoo and wash my hair a lot less often.

We tried new things, thought about the past, and planned and brainstormed the future. We laughed, cuddled, giggled, listened, gave advice, learned a lot, and cherished each other more. Like I said, it was a full year. Here is my list of favorite random olio posts of 2014. In no specific oder:

  1. No Poo
  2. Ten Things About My Dad
  3. Giggle ’til you pee your pants
  4. Want to Laugh Today?
  5. He is My Person
  6. Listen More, Talk Less
  7. My niece is da bomb
  8. I heart SH: Food Nostalgia
  9. She flies with her own wings
  10. A little dabble in wax…

Most read posts on Random Olio in 2014:

I hope you enjoyed all you read on random olio this year. Be grateful for all that you have done, all that you have, and all that you have learned. Life is good, we just have to see what is right in front of us. Thank you for continuing to read random olio. Here is to a full, alive, and adventurous 2015!

Moment by moment

It is wedding season. So far we have already been to two weddings this month. I have to confess: weddings are just not my thing. However, I have to share about a wedding I went to on Saturday.

We were in Bend, Oregon at a ranch in the beautiful countryside. There were horses out in pasture as we drove up to the ranch (the location of the wedding and reception). It was a gorgeous day, in the low 80’s, dry, and from sunrise a clear blue sky day. If I woke up as the bride, it would have been the perfect day for a wedding. Until a forest fire broke out. Yes, from what the news said, there were two forest fires, and from the sounds of it they were not controlled fires. As we were driving into the ranch, this is what we saw. I was hopeful that the bride would still have the perfect day.

Let me back up a bit. I kept having the intuition throughout the day to text the bride and tell her I was thinking about her. I know how often mother’s and mother-in-law’s and other family can jump in and think they are helping during a wedding, but are actually overwhelming the bride. Not knowing what her day would be like I was going to text her the following: “Remember your wedding is about you and [insert name to keep it anonymous], only the two of you. It is not about anyone else. Know that I am thinking about you today. Do not think for a second about anyone else.” I never sent the text. We met friends for lunch, we got iced coffee, we walked around town, I went for a run, and yet I never sent the text. Part of me did not want to bug the bride, as I knew it was a busy day, and part of me just did not follow through.

Jump back to the time of the wedding. We were told upon arrival to get something to drink and to take a seat (the ceremony was near a pond or river of water and in direct sun). The groom and groomsmen walked down the green to the front, and moments later we hear a siren, and listen as it comes closer and closer to us. It parks in front of the house where the reception is at, and the bridesmaid and bride are standing on the porch on their way down to the ceremony. A firefighter in a yellow slicker stops at the porch, and we all turn to watch. We all wonder: “will we be able to stay or will we be evacuated.” As well as: “What must the bride be thinking at this very moment.” Later I heard that the groom mentioned: “I just want to get married.” A perfect comment for the moment.

After a few folks run back and forth to us, and the bride’s father, we are told we have to evacuate, then moments later they tell us, we can do the ceremony as long as it is quick, and we must leave immediately afterwards. The precious flower girl (with a white dress and cowboy boots) runs quickly down the aisle, followed by the bridesmaids and bride, the perfect wedding happens, short and sweet and just right. All attendees are told to go to Drake Park near the Deschutes River near downtown Bend for the reception. Everyone pitches in to take something from the reception, beer, wine, flowers, food from the caterers. A bittersweet moment for the bride.

We each make our way to the park. As we leave the ranch, police and firefighters posted at different points along the way, and as we get farther and farther away from the ranch, more and more firefighters are going towards the smoke in the opposite direction that we are heading. All hands on deck, and all guests pitch in to try to recreate the reception for the bride and groom. Flowers are set out in the perfect way, folding chairs have been brought from the ceremony, all the food from the catering, framed photos of the bride and groom, the wedding cake + cupcakes, a table especially for the bride and groom. We all together decorate that portion of the park. There are even speakers and music. Such a sense of community after events that the bride and groom could do nothing about even if they tried.

My heart goes out to the bride and groom. Such a precious way to start a marriage. Flexibility, compassion, community, and adventure all on their wedding day. For all those days and months of planning that perfect day, in the end your friends and family were there as part of your celebration, regardless of location and it was perfect. You will have such a story to tell for years and years to come. Best wishes and so much love to both of you as you continue on your adventure!

Plan for a day, or plan for a life?

Why do we spend so many months and years planning for a day, when really we should be planning for our life? I have written a few blog posts that discuss marriages and weddings. I was shocked after reading this Fast Company article, specifically this quote:

“As the wedding industrial complex has ballooned to unprecedented sizes–wedding costs exceeds the median income in the U.S.”

Are people crazy? Who is spending over the median income to pay for a wedding, and how many years is it taking them to pay off their wedding bills? Are we trying to turn a wedding into this perfect day for ourselves, or all the guests that experience the day with us? Is it more about competing with the Jones’ that make this industry continue to balloon? Whatever happened to going to a church, or a park, or the beach, with some friends and family, saying your vows, and eating some food? Does spending as much as a good portion of a house make the marriage start off in a better way?

A wedding can be beautiful, it can be done in an elegant, classy, and inexpensive way. There are infinite ways to bring two lives and two families together without having to spend so much money. I get concerned that many of these weddings are either sending the parents who might be paying into an extreme amount of debt, effecting their future retirement, or that the couples themselves are going into major debt. Why start a marriage on an unstable financial foundation? Yes, maybe I am completely wrong and most weddings have been saved and paid for, but if wedding payment is anything like how our society lives on a regular basis, than most go on credit cards, only to incur a hefty APR and payments for many, many years to come.

Instead, how about starting a marriage on stable ground? Have the wedding you can afford, pay for it immediately, and continue to live your life accordingly. So I will say again: Why do we spend so many months and years planning for a day, when really we should be planning for our life?

A little wedding cake ten years later?

My wedding was different. We both wanted it that way. We wanted it to be about us. The focus was about two distinct and unique individuals coming together to take vows to spend our life with each other. We did not want to get caught up in making other family and friends happy, or to cater to everyone’s little need. I have seen it happen so many times, where the bride and groom get so sucked into the wedding and party afterwards that they forget to breathe and remember why they are bringing their lives together. The most important moments of a wedding day is not what you look like, if your hair looks perfect, or if your mom is happy, but those precious moments when you promise to keep your vows. That is what a wedding is truly about, the vow and promises that are the beginning steps of a marriage.

Now that you have heard my rant and thoughts about a wedding, you can probably guess that Chris and I got married just the two of us. We did not elope per se, because we alerted folks that we were going to run off to the beach in Hawaii to make our promises to each other at sunset. Getting married with just your life partner in tow might not be for everyone, but it was so right for us. We still comment on how perfect it was for us, and have not regrets.

Yet a few things could have been easier. Those things had nothing to do with our vows, or family, or even because we almost missed our appointment to obtain our marriage license. The parts I might do differently were the silly, unnecessary wedding details. My dress. A cake.

the cake made for our after wedding party

the cake made for our after wedding party

Finding a dress was complicated. At the time, I could choose a big ass dress from David’s Bridal, spend more than I was on my wedding and get something unique, or do what I did and purchase a dress at Banana Republic for $100. There was not a wedding dress line at J. Crew or Banana Republic at the time. I know I might sound old, or many other women before me might say that I had more options than they did, but whatever they may say, the options are now endless.

When I recently came across the website: Loverly, a Pinterest site of sorts that specifically focuses on weddings, I thought: “Bummer, wish such a site was available when I got married.” Sure, theknot.com was around, but it was more for creating a website and registry pages. There was not a pin board type site where you could find endless creative ideas. Even though I have been married for almost ten years, I recently had so much fun exploring the different boards on Loverly. We did not have a wedding cake, instead a very generous friend made a cake for us for a party after we got married. It tasted amazing.

Maybe for our upcoming tenth anniversary, I will have a cake made, invite friends over, and eat to our hearts content. The dress, well in the end, mine was perfect for a beach wedding.

More Bang For Your Buck

Recently I posted about: All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending, by Laura Vanderkam. One of the things she mentions is that the average cost of an engagement ring today is: $5,392. Wow. That could be a used car for some folks. Add the engagement ring to the cost of the wedding itself (flowers, dress, reception, food, venue, etc). It adds up quickly. My question is – is it all necessary? Chris and I got married on a beach in Hawaii for basically the cost of a honeymoon. Even doing that, it was expensive, but it was nothing like what the cost could have been if we had a traditional wedding + a honeymoon. I appreciate what Laura says in her book:

“With the same $5,392 the average couple spends on an engagement ring, a set of new parents could pay a babysitter $50 a night for 107 nights so they could have time to themselves or go neck in their car like teenagers. The $12,124 The Knot reports the average couple spends on a reception venue could cover a $100 housecleaning service, twice a month, for the entire five years many two-kid couples spend in that sticky stage when children spill milk just to see what will happen. The average $1,988 florist and decor bill could be doled out, instead, as 198 thinking-of-you $10 bouquets–a once-a-month gesture of love for a solid 16.5 years.” page 22

Laura also talks about what would bring more joy to your marriage. Does the American Dream and picket fence really make you satisfied? Or are you more interested in traveling and learning about other cultures? If so, are you paying more for a car or home then you really need? Are you doing it because it makes you happy, or is it because it is what you think you should be doing? What is more responsible? What causes you less stress? I often think of things pertaining to money in terms of justification. If I do not buy this now, I will have enough money for something else later. Much like what Laura mentions about $1,988 in flowers could give you 198 $10 thinking of you bouquets a month for 16.5 months. What has more bang for your buck?

We have so many different ideas and options  before us. Are we asking the questions of what is best for us and our families, or are we making choices just to keep up with the Jones’? Do we really need the big elaborate wedding, or engagement ring, or are we best prepared if we put that money towards our future? Or towards our emergency funds?

What do you think?