Monday, May 30, 2011

The Honeymoon - Our first of many vacations

I'd like to keep up with our travel experiences.  I'm backposting our honeymoon in Florida to keep me excited about our upcoming vacation to Utah.  When Sammit and I got married, we decided we wanted to alternate each year with domestic and international travel - but so far, domestic is winning out.

Orlando, FL - November 2010

How we got there & Where we stayed:
We stayed at the Sheraton Vistana Villages - a timeshare that my boss booked for us as a wedding present - which we're told cost less than 500.00 for the week.  Our suite had a kitchen and a washer/dryer, which was glorious.  It was larger than our first apartment.  We booked our flight from Detroit to Orlando and our Hertz rent-a-car through Orbitz, which cost us about 1000.00.  The first thing we did after checking in was head to the market and buy food for breakfasts and lunches for the week.

The Fun Details: Sea World, Busch Gardens, Medieval Times

We spent an afternoon at Sea World, about which we both had mixed feelings.  We liked seeing and learning about the animals - many of which were rescued from boating accidents.  We liked the conservation aspects of their mission.  But we didn't like the small areas and isolation or the vast amounts of plastic and packaging.

Sea Lions hanging out in the sun.

The Shamu Show

Because it was November, there were "trees" and
christmas music playing everywhere.  It was weird.

My favorite: The Flamingoes.

The turtles are all in rehabilitation from boating accidents.
Many had cracked shells or missing fins.

Little kids around us loved seeing "Nemo"

On a similar note, we drove a few hours to Tampa for an afternoon at Bush Gardens.  On a weekday in November, we were able to see the entire park and ride every ride in just a 5 hours.

We went to Medieval Times for dinner one night - the food was good, but we really went for the show.  I'm glad we went, but I can't say we'd do it again.

Our Menu and Pewter Dining ware
We were fans of the green knight.

The Food Details:  We ate out for dinners, many of which were covered partially with birthday discounts.  I had two favorites, Texas de Brazil & Bernie's Steakhouse.  

First, Texas de Brazil - its a chain, but not a large one.  The first one in Michigan is opening in Detroit June 13th (excited!).  There are other brazilian style steakhouses, but this one was particularly spectacular.  The salad bar has 60 some items on it including sushi and smoked salmon - 3 or 4 types of potatoes.  There was a great lobster bisque.  Our meal came with cheese popovers and fried bananas to cleanse the pallet between meats.  Oh, and the meats.  Every kind imaginable, brought to your table and slice off a giant sword of charcoal-y goodness.  

Second, Bernie's Steakhouse - a family owned place that's very had to get into.  You have to make reservations no more than a month in advance but no less than 3 days.  The waiters have to work there for a year before they're able to be on the floor, then another year of probation before they get a "gold jacket."  The first year they work in every aspect of the restaurant - the garden, as a bus boy, shucking shell fish, chopping onions, cutting steaks, etc.  So when you ask your waiter about some aspect of your meal or their menu - they know and can tell you in great detail.  We took a tour of the kitchen and their wine cellar, which is one of the top three in the country (world? I don't remember - I don't like wine).  All this and they really didn't seem as snooty as I thought they would.  The food was delicious.  We started with a salad (they make their caesar salads table side) and their lobster bisque soup.  We moved onto home made potato sized fresh fries with a black truffle creme fraiche dip.  We split a steak with mashed potatoes and baby vegetables.

I was too enthralled in dinner to remember to take pictures, but we had dessert upstairs, where we remembered to take pictures.

The top pictures are from our booth.  The buttons played different genres of music including broadway hits and the live piano playing downstairs.  My dessert is on the left, a raspberry cheesecake - but it was oh so much more.  Sammit's was a pumpkin trio, including pumpkin ice-cream.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Surprise Surprise Surprise...

Wow, it's been three weeks since my last post.  It's almost as if some life altering event has taken place that has been preventing me from sitting down and writing/posting pictures.  Oh yes, that's right...

I found out I'm allergic to gluten (NOT celiac disease though, whew)...
...and dairy (NOT lactose intolerant, but allergic to casein in ALL dairy products)...
...and we got a dog!
...and Sammit's been on an ICU (intenstive care unit) shift this month, meaning I'm picking up all the house slack that he usually does (laundry, dishes, trash, compost, pet food...he's a good husband).

So, I'll play a little catch-up and then see what I can work out - I'd love to start posting more cooking experiments, especially gluten free recipes (and boy do I have some failures).

Gluten Free
I've had a sneaking suspicion that I might have a gluten intolerance for a few months now.  Sammit and I don't usually eat bread and we switched to a gluten free pasta a while ago, so the transition isn't as hard as it could be.  Gluten is in almost every processed food, but I've been trying to eliminate processed foods in our house for a while - so it's almost a win.  I've been emotionally preparing myself for this for a while and the idea of eliminating my symptoms like fatigue, extremely stubborn weight, headaches, and nausea is really exciting.  When my doctor sat down to talk to me about my blood tests, I was ready to hear this and felt validated that I wasn't going crazy.  She told me that I don't have celiac disease, which was a relief and meant that I can work toward eliminating this intolerance, an option not available to those with celiac. I felt empowered and ready to make a life change, but then she continued...

Casein Free
When she told me I has a dairy intolerance my heart sank a little.  "But, I've read that people who have problems digesting dairy are often fine on raw milk and I just bought into a cow lease, so I might be fine?" I asked with hope. She told me that I didn't have lactose intolerance, something that I could take a pill to deal with, but that I was actually having negative reactions to casein, a protein found all dairy products (milk, yogurt, sour cream, cheese, whey, etc...cow's or goat's milk). 

I love dairy.  I mean, I LOVE it.  I can drink milk like water, especially the new raw milk we have.  I make my own yogurt, I have friends who make their own cheese.  I can live without gluten but not if I have to do it without dairy as least that's what I'm muttering to myself as I try to build an arsenal of new gf/df recipes.

A few weeks ago I was trolling around petfinder, looking for corgi's in our area.  Sammit and I love corgi dogs and had talked about having one someday.  So, I've always enjoy seeing if they are nearby and dreaming about having a dog when we are older and more responsible.  And then I saw Molly.  She's a daschund/corgi mix and a rescue from South Carolina.  I made the call, we visited her in her foster home, fell in love and took her home that night.  She's incredibly sweet and a wonderful addition to our home.

Publish Post

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Apple-Banana Crumble Muffins


1 1/2 cups flour (I used Namaste Gluten Free)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup cinnamon applesauce (homemade)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbs. butter


  1. Preheat oven to 375 (F).  Line muffin tins.
  2. Gently mix applesauce, bananas, egg, and sugar.
  3. Fold in mixture of flour, baking soda and powder, salt, and pie spice.
  4. In a small bowl mix brown sugar, cinnamon and flour and cut in butter until it forms a course crumble.  
  5. Fill tins with a large spoon of batter and top with crumble.
  6. Bake for 18 minutes then let cool.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

52 New-To-Us Soups - #3 Ham Hock & Lentil

It tastes a lot better than it looks.

Adapted from Emerill Lagasse


2 cups of leftover Stock*
1-2 smoked ham hocks
1 1/2 cups orange lentils
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 head garlic, peeled and minced
Bay Leaf
Palm full of dried thyme (or several sprigs or fresh)

  1. Pour stock into a large pot, place the ham hocks in and fill the remainder with water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 1 hour.
  2. Remove hocks from stock and strip the meat into cubes, pour back into the pot.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and bring back to a boil, then reduce again and simmer for 30 minutes.

*While chicken or beef stock will work well, I used a particularly delicious leftover stock from the spare ribs we made for dinner the previous night.  It could be duplicated by pureeing a carrot, onion, celery stick, garlic cloves and tomato paste and allowing that to cook in the water and the ham hock.  Simply strain the pulp from the stock in between step 2 and 3.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wilson's Temperature Syndrome

I met with my (new) doctor this afternoon.  After blood labs and tracking my temperature 3x/day for the last three weeks, she is treating me for Wilson's Temperature Syndrome.  It's a thyroid related illness that can't be diagnosed with conventional tests.  My thyroid levels appear within the normal range, but I still have symptoms.  So my temperature was tested and my daily average temp is well below 98.6 - usually around 97.5 degrees.  In fact, after 60 temps only three hit 98.6.

My symptoms include chronic fatigue, headaches multiple times a week, migraines multiple times a month, heartburn, low motivation/productivity, difficulty losing weight, gradual and steady weight increase, insomnia....just to name a few.

My treatment includes having to religiously track my temps 3x/day, my pulse and my dosage of thyroid hormone (which starts tomorrow and is rapidly increased daily until my temperature rises).  The best way to explain it - taking very high levels of thyroid supplement is supposed to retrain my thyroid to produce on its own.  I'm supposed to be energized and warm.  Possible side effects: increased heart rate, increased anxiety - both of which are signals that my dosage is too high and needs to be pulled back.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Declutter like mad

I cannot believe how fast last month came and went.  A large part of my disbelieve stems from long work hours and a weekend trip to Ohio, which both ate into an already shortened month.  Decluttering took a back burner...but it was not too late!  With my work hours back to normal and a full week + weekend, I overcame procrastination and purged my belongings.

I brought very little more than I realized into the house last month.

The short of it (Long of it at the end of the post, for records) - Out & In:
  • 8 body spray/lotion/wash bottles > 4 skin care system bottles
  • Rice cooker and flatware caddy > Coffee Mug
  • 2 dried ink pens > Ink pen
  • 2 pairs of shoes > Set of crocheted dish towels
  • 2 pairs of jeans > Set of reusable wool dryer balls
  • Pair of jeans + glass vase > New (gifted) glass vase
  • Hamster bottle + wheel > Knife Sharpener
  • Hand-held grater + steamer basket > Mircoplane
  • Bamboo Salad bowl + Utensils (2) + Travel mug > 2 reusable travel mug
    In addition to this list - Sammit and I finally unpacked and organized our guest bedroom and office.  We filled 9 donation boxes and loaded them into the car.  We organized closets.  We swept and hung paintings.  I'll post before and after pictures later this week when everything has been tightened up.

    Next weekend we hope to tackle our bedroom and the upstairs bathroom.  Remaining on the list: The upstairs closet, known as the Angel Closet, the living room, dining room, kitchen, downstairs bathroom, coat closet, basement, garage....oh goodness.  I also have to go through 3 large tubs of clothes.  Ack!  But it sure feels good. 

    The long of it:
    I bought a facial cleanser/moisturizer set (4 small sample bottles) replaced all the body spray/lotion/wash that I got for Christmas this year.  I brought 8 bottles of unused body stuffs into the lab - made available to any of our students who'd like to smell like a vanilla cupcake or a pomegranate (?).  I'm particular (and minimal) about what I use on my parts. 

    We received a gift basket while in Ohio, many of the items go straight into the donation box, bypassing the 1-in-2-out rule, such as a stress-squeeze foam boat and sailboat cheese knives (there was a nautical theme).  However, the coffee mug and inkpen will stay.  I donated my plastic flatware caddy (doesn't have enough slots for our flatware needs) and gave my rice cooker to a student at work who will get more use out of it than I ever did.  I also tossed two pens that ran out of ink (why I kept them, I don't know).

    We received a belated wedding gift-box: a set of hand crocheted dish towels, a set of dryer balls that are supposed to replace dyer sheets (I'll review these and post later), and a stylish glass vase.  3 in, 6 out: 3 pairs of jeans either donated or given to my sister, 2 pairs of sandals that Sammit never uses, and an old vase.

    We used the remainder of our Macy's gift card during a sale and brought home a knife sharpener, 2 travel coffee mugs, and a microplane.  I donated the grater I unsuccessfully tried to use as a microplane, a hamster wheel and water bottle (we've been holding on to them since Owen died last Christmas), a bamboo salad bowl & tossers (that I'm going to count as 3 items), a vegetable steamer basket (I like the idea of the veggie steamer, but I have other multi-purpose items that work better), and a less-than-ideally designed travel mug.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    March - The Garden Start

    January brought food changes (an eliminate/challenge diet, reduced gluten and sugar consumption, etc.)

    February brought The Great Declutter (removing unnecessary items from the house and adopting rules for new acquisitions)

    March brings the start to gardening.

    I'm going to attempt to start my garden from seed this spring.  I made a valiant attempt last year, forgetting that I would be leaving for India 3 weeks after starting, that resulted in dried up little cubes of dirt.  But with no travel plans and a much larger space to grow (our 4 bedroom house rather than our 1 bedroom apartment) I smell some success brewing.  Despite my confidence, I have set aside some money for plant flats at the farmer's market again because, well, there's a chance I'll fall flat on my face again.

    Having started seeds last year, I should have plenty left to start again this year, right?  Well, not exactly.  I was not careful when storing my seeds which resulted in an accidental spill and caused a proverbial seed orgy within my little plastic baggie.  I have no idea what is what.  So, I started anew.  After some price checking, I placed orders with three online heritage seed companies.
    • Baker Seed Company is providing me with some of my produce and most of my flowers and herbs.
    • Sustainable Seed Company is provided me with the majority of my produce, a few flowers and a few herbs.
    • Stargazer Perennials is providing me with softneck garlic and 3 kinds of potatoes (fingerling, yukon gold, all blue)
    My seeds came today!
    I'm going to attempt to build two new beds in addition to using the space from last year.  One 4'x4' bed will be in the sunniest spot in the backyard, the second will be on the side of the front yard.  I'll wait until I have pictures to show before telling you all the gory details of my plans.  But I will say that I have a colored spreadsheet - that's how excited I am.

    I will say this - I'm going to attempt succession planting this year.  Meaning, I'm hoping to get nearly 3 times the produce from roughly the same planting area.  I've done a lot of reading on spring vs. summer vs. fall crops.  I've made spreadsheets of planting and maturation rates for each of my seeds.  By starting my seeds indoors, I'm given a greater window of opportunity and can have a set of plants waiting to be put in the ground while the initial set is finishing up.  For example...
    In one bed I'm going to plant an early crop of baby bok choy, which will be started inside and is fairly tolerant to cooler temps.  This plant matures for harvest in 30 days.  In the mean time, I start Leek seeds inside.  When the bok choy is harvested, the leeks and be planted in their place (with some restoration to the soil).  The leeks will grow most of the summer and harvested in September or so.  When the leeks are harvested, I can slip one more crop of bok choy in because a) it was given a head start indoors, b) it can handle the cooler temps into October, c) it matures very fast.  Now expand this idea across most of the garden.
    Some plants will be preceded and succeeded by different crops, some by the same - carrots, for example, will just be planted every two weeks or so to ensure a regular crop of mature carrots throughout the summer.  Tomatoes will be planted with beets - by the time the beets mature and are harvested the space they took up will be needed by the tomatoes - leaving the tomatoes plenty of room to grow but not wasting space early in the growing season.  I'm also going to attempt to grow basil among the tomatoes - they like each other and have different root systems, so they should live well together.

    Monday, February 28, 2011

    Meatless Monday - Broccoli & Cauliflower Gratin

    Sammit and I observe Meatless Monday, which is slightly ironic because I usually pick our meat CSA up on Mondays.

    Broccoli & Cauliflower Gratin
    adapted from Barefoot in Paris

    1 head cauliflower, cut into large florets
    1 head broccoli, cut into large florets
    4 Tbs. butter (divided into 2 Tbs)
    3 Tbs. AP flour
    2 cups hot milk
    Kosher Salt
    1/2 tsp black better
    1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
    1/2 cup grated parmesan
    1/2 cup grated baby swiss
    1/2 cup grated muenster
    1/4 cup bread crumbs

    1. Preheat oven to 375 (F).  Meanwhile, cook florets in a large pot of boiling salt water until tender but firm (5 min), drain.
    2. Add 2 cups of milk in a sauce pan.  Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbs of butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Add flour, stirring constantly for 2 minutes, making a rue.
    3. Pour hot milk into the rue and stir until it comes to a boil.  Boil, whisking constantly, until thickened.  Off the heat add a large pinch of salt, pepper, nutmeg and 1/2 cup of cheese.
    4. Pour about 1/3 of the sauce into the bottom of a baking dish, filling the dish with the drained florets.  Spread remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with the remaining cheeses and breadcrumbs.
    5. Drizzle 2 Tbs. melted butter of the top.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until browned.
    Can be served hot or at room temp (read: a great make ahead meal).

    Overheard at work #1

     Coworker, to 3 year old: "Wow, you drew a circle. And you drew another circle - good job!"
    3 year old: "Actually, that one is an oval."

    Saturday, February 26, 2011

    Time Budget

    Image: Found on Fast Eddie, Origin: Unknown
    For several years now I have tried to follow a schedule.  I simultaneously crave and rebel against structure.  Last year, I came across a flexible scheduling practice that has helped me greatly.  It provides enough structure to make me feel organized and yet it has the flexibility to allow me changes without feeling like they're failures.  It's called Time Budgeting.  It's similar to budgeting money (you don't schedule when and how you're going to spend every cent, but rather how much to spend in an allotted time - like a week or a month).

    I have two Time Budgets - one for a weekday and one for an entire weekend.  I prioritize the important things like sleep.

    Weekday Budget 24 Hours Total:
    • Sleep - 8 Hours
    • Hygiene - 30 min (10 - teeth & face, 10 - shower, 10 - misc.)
    • Food - 1.5 Hours (prep and consumption - 20 - breakfast, 20 - lunch, 50 - dinner)
    • Commute - 2 Hours (audio books make this "reading time")
    • Work - 7 Hours (+ 60 min lunch break; 40 for walking and a blog post)
    • Walking - 30 min (during lunch break)
    • House Care - 1 Hour (30 - chores/pick-up, 30 - unpacking)
    • Couple Time - 30 min (allotted to talk, snuggle, snog)
    • Screen Time - 1 Hour (T.V. or computer)
    • Grace Time - 2 Hours (nothing goes as planned)
    Weekend Budget 48 Hours Total:
    • Sleep - 18 Hours
    • Hygiene - 1 Hour
    • Food - 3.5 Hours (menus, shopping, batch cooking, in addition to regulars)
    • Walking - 1 Hour (split up or longer walk)
    • Blogging - 1.5 Hours (prepping posts for later)
    • House Care - 3 Hours (playing catch-up, working on improvements, unpacking)
    • Couple Time - 2 Hours
    • Screen Time - 6 Hours (cooking shows, reader-catch-up, movies, etc.)
    • Free Time - 8 Hours (games, visiting with friends or family, garden prep, etc.)
    • Grace Time - 4 Hours
    With this budget, I'm able to get a lot more done in the day without worrying about when I'm getting something done.  Once I hit 30 minutes of laundry or cleaning the kitchen, I leave it alone and pick up tomorrow.  The same goes for screen time or blogging.

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Stylish Blogger Award

    Angie, over on Hippie Heart sent me a Stylish Blogger Award - no doubt for the recent blog make over ^_~ and because she's most likely my only reader.  I was listed among famous sites such as Gweneth Paltrow's GOOP. Thanks Angie!

    The rules: 
    1. Thanks and link back to the person who gave you the award
    2. Share 7 things about yourself
    3.Give the award to 15 other bloggers

    Seven things:
    1. I was recently accepted to the University of Michigan's Masters in Social Work program (2nd in the country).  I'm interested in decreasing food insecurity in families and communities and increasing availability to quality low-cost produce, dairy and meat.
    2. I live with my husband of 5 months (partner for 8 years) and our two cats in my brother-in-law's house in a Detroit suburb. 
    3. Four things terrify me in life: 1) E.T. the extra-terrestrial, 2) Social or biological collapse resulting in a post-apocalyptic world akin to Cormac McCarthy's novel, "The Road" 3) Infertility, and 4) Snakes.  In that order.
    4. Several years ago I had a very popular blog (that was partly responsible for meeting my partner) and sometimes I feel as if I'm writing this blog in its shadow - though that concern is really just in my head.  I lost the site, most of the entries, and the desire to write when their server crashed in 2005.
    5. I took 4 years of Spanish in High School and 2 years of intensive Hindi in college.  I still know more Spanish than Hindi - Gracias Senora Roesselor and my apologies Pinderjeet-ji.
    6. I love to learn as much about a topic as I can but instead of turning that information or practice into a hobby, I move on to the next topic.  I...collect hobbies?
    7. I'd like to become self-sufficient enough to not have to go to a grocery store more than once a year.  I made a 5 year plan for this goal and I'm rounding into year 2.
     15 Stylish Bloggers:
    1. K & MK over at Stories from Plate to Fork
    2. Beth, aka Fake Plastic Fish
    3. The Co-opers at The Green Phone Booth
    4. The Ladies from Offbeat Mama
    5. Rachel at Small Notebook
    6. Sherry, John & Clara (aka the cutest people in the world) at Young House Love
    7. Kelly The Kitchen Kop
    8. Jenny at The Nourished Kitchen (Check out her awesome! classes).
    9. El at Fast Grow the Weeds
    10. Kate at Living the Frugal Life
    11. Susy at Chiot's Run (also co-op'd with Not Dabbling in Normal)
    12. Abby at New Urban Habitat
    13. Devin at Barefootnwild
    14. Steven, aka VUBOQ
    15. Donielle from Naturally Knocked Up

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    Sausage, Rice & Beans

    This is a cheap and easy, but not fast, dinner.  I enjoy making dinners like this because I only use one dish, can catch up on some cooking shows and have leftovers for lunch the next day.


    4 cups stock (any flavor or water)
    2 cups brown rice
    1 cups dried azuki beans (any bean is fine, but these cook around the same rate as rice, making it easier)
    7 sausages, cut to 1 in pieces (adjust number for your audience - we used a pack of andouille chicken sausage from costco)
    1 large can diced tomatoes (I use a quart of home canned)
    1 can corn (I use a pint of home canned)
    1 diced pepper (any pepper is fine, we used a Serrano with the seeds removed)
    1/4 cup of taco seasoning

    1. Optional - soak rice & beans the night before in water with a Tbs. of acid (vinegar, whey, lemon juice, etc.) to break down some indigestibles.
    2. Bring stock or liquid to a boil in a large pan.  Add rice and beans and bring to a boil again before reducing the heat to as simmer.
    3. Add tomatoes (and juices), corn, pepper & seasoning.
    4. Add sliced sausages and let cook until rice and beans are tender.  Stir occasionally.

    This takes a little longer than cooking brown rice - 45 minutes to an hour - so it's not a fast recipe.'s convenient.  I go into the living room and watch an episode of Jamie at Home or Dharma & Greg or Chuck's Day Off and I complete a new step during each commercial break, then make sure to check in on it and stir during each commercial break.  It's a really hands off dinner.  When we have the supplies, I like to serve it up with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro, shredded cheese and a spoonful of sour cream.'s cheap.
    • 4 cups Stock: 0.00 (Homemade Chicken) to 3.99 (organic)
    • 2 cups Brown Rice: 1.33 (generic) to 3.59 (organic)
    • 1 cup Azuki Beans: 0.95 (bulk bin) to 1.25 (organic canned)
    • 7 Sausages:  2.66 (costco) to 6.99 (organic)
    • Diced tomatoes: 0.01 (garden from seed) to 1.99 (organic)
    • Corn: 0.01 (garden from seed) to 1.25 (organic)
    • Pepper: 0.01 (garden from seed) to 0.60 (organic)
    • Taco Seasoning - I'll throw in 0.10 for the seasoning

    6 large servings - as little as 0.84 per serving, as much as 3.29 per serving for entirely organic/upscale ingredients.  A little more with the cheese/cilantro/sour cream addition.

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    Post-Nuptuals: The Wedding

    Sammit and I were wedding'd on October 2nd 2010.  We were married on October 1 2010, but we were wedding'd the next day.  We had a big ceremony in a church (a wonderful all-accepting non-denominational church that let us include pro-gay-marriage lines in our service) with an officiant, 10 attendants, 6 ushers and a ring bearer.  Our officiant's name was Reverend Smith and he worked part time for the church; he was very nice and did a wonderful job with the ceremony we wrote.  Having attendants was a last minute decision - 1 month before the wedding.  My sister, Devin, served as my maid-of-honor.  I asked 4 other women who have had amazing impacts on my life - two I had the luck and pleasure to meet in High School, Stephany and Yolanda, and two in college, Monica and Lisa.  Sammit's brother, Sandeep served as his best man.  He asked 4 other men who have known him for decades - his friend since kindergarten, Mike, and elementary school, Jay and Brandt, and his cousin, Rishi.  I asked my close friend from college, John, and my cousin's sons, Max and Nate, to be Ushers on behalf of my family.  Sammit asked a trio of close friends, Pasterz, Brian and Derek on behalf of his family.  Sammit's delightful sister (Indian sister = 1st cousin) and her husband escorted their son, Neil, as our ring bearer.

    Sammit arrived at the church in a carriage led by a white horse, surrounded by his friends and family in a musical uproar.  They came, dancing, with drums and chimes.  I could hear them when they were still blocks away, the anticipation was delightful.  When they arrived at the church I had to be out of sight, but I found places to peak.  My family and friends met his and the important players of our lives exchanged garlands of flowers (hand picked and strung the night before by myself, Monica, Lisa and John) and danced with each other.

    Nate, one of the ushers, handed out programs or guides to our ceremony.  Max held a porcelain dish with our rings tied to it; he stood as guests held our rings in their hands blessed them for our happiness and long lives.  

    We played string versions of Pixie songs, some of Sammit's favorites while guests were being seated.  He walked down the aisle the "Do You Realize" by the Flaming Lips.  My attendants walked down the aisle to the beginning of "You Raise Me Up" by Josh Groban; I walked down, with my mother and father on either side of me, to the reprise.  

    Our ceremony was a combination of traditions.  Reverend Smith asked our parents to support us and asked our guests to stand as witnesses to not only our wedding but our marriage.  We acknowledged our differences and our 7 years together leading up to the wedding.  We lit candles to honor the memory of our grandparents and two of our uncles who passed.  We exchanged vows and our hands were fastened with a silk ribbon, a Celtic tradition nodding at an Indian tradition where the bride and groom are tied to each other.  We took seven steps around the fire made by our memorial candles, each step representing an Indian blessing, under a Mandap designed by my mother (that now sits in our back yard).  We exchanged rings.  We kissed.  There was no "giving away" or "honor and obey" there was no "man and wife."  We are equals.  We make public note that we affirmed the rights of every person to be married under the law and "when all individuals have the same rights to marriage and family, then we shall fully rejoice in marriage knowing that love is honored equally where ever it resides."  We left the church to "Say Hey, I Love You" by Michael Fronti and Spearhead.

    We left in the carriage Sammit brought to the church and enjoyed a ride around the city before entering our reception (to AC/DC's "Back in Black").  We had delicious food, so I've heard.  Sammit and I put together a photobooth with props and printing.  Our guests used copies of their photos to make a scrapbook guest log.  Our cake was wonderful.