Bird and Belle's Adventures in Marriage


How does your garden grow?

Jay and I decided to take a second stab at a garden this year. Last year we planted six plants – a couple tomato plants, okra plants and pepper plants. Unfortunately our world was too busy and we quickly forgot about our little garden in the back. Our negligence did not pay off – we harvested ONE sad okra and ONE tiny little pepper that looked more like Fisher-Price playfood than real food.

Not the kind of people to be hindered by failure, we decided to try again this year. This time we started our plants from seed in tiny peat pots in the sunroom. The week before the wedding we planted them and since have cheered them on daily while watering – go plants go! I’m pleased to announce that our kale now has FOUR leaves on each plant, and several tomatoes and peppers have multiple leaves. Our corn and beans have also sprouted revealing strong, happy plants.

Easy to do... Fun To Grow!

Our tiny success aside, I’m still expecting a 60% mortality rate in my second attempt at a garden. Let’s be realistic folks – with four cats do we really have time to tend to all these plants? Time will tell…

The point of this rant, however, is to not pick on myself for being a forgetful and negligent plant mom who should be reported to the plant equivalent of social services, but to bring up a mysterious wedding gift. I’m sure you all noticed it: pearched upon the gift table that was brimming with white and purple Bed Bath and Beyond bags was one small box wrapped neatly in the Sunday funnies. I noticed it right away and thought to myself, “Self, that is a fine looking wrapping job!”

On Sunday a bleary eyed Bird and sleep deprived Belle took to opening these gifts. I saved the funny box till one of the final gifts – as surely it was the most creative. We picked up the box and inspected the wrapping – the funny page was dated May 28, 1995 and someone had carefully written in red ink “Plus 1” under the dateline. How cute! The header of the page revealed it was from the “Sun Herald,” which I knew was a gulf coast paper. Google informed us it was  in Biloxi, Mississippi.

The gift tag said “To: Jay and Sarah” in festive bubble lettering. On the back it said, “Here’s a backup in case your garden falls through…”

“MYSTERIOUS!” we said! Inside we found what we least expected: A Chia Head.

Now, this is funny on several levels. The obvious being it is a Chia Head and I was not sure if people still bought these in this technology driven day. Next, the fact that it was in vintage funny paper that was nearly our wedding date. The third being that it did not reveal the gift giver.

The more obscure humor is that it referenced our garden and our past failure. Not many of our guests are aware of this garden… nor of last years bumper crop of two. To top it all off, I eat chia seeds every day in my yogurt. Yes, Chia Seeds. Read here for more info on what glorious things these little black seeds can do for you.

We received many kind, thoughtful and creative gifts for our wedding along with many kind, sincere and loving hugs, kisses and congratulations. The icing on the giving cake, though, has tiny black seeds and will sprout green hair on a face that has a nose larger than any old man. Jay and I have several theories as to who the gift giver may be… but first wanted to open up a dialog of speculation here, on the blog… any thoughts dear readers?


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Maps and Parking Info

To make everyone’s life a tiny bit easier I am posting two maps – one of downtown Lexington and one of downtown Lexington Parking. The general map calls attention to the three hotels at which there were blocks, ArtsPlace and the Penguin Piano Bar. The parking map highlights these along with several suggested parking lots for folks not staying within walking distance. Street parking is available around ArtsPlace. There are also several public parking lots and decks. Unfortunately downtown parking is not free so remember some parking money. Most pay lots and garages have automatic pay stations that take credit and debit cards. WARNING: These do not always work.

Should you have any questions on navigation, please contact Jay and he will be happy to help (since I don’t have a car I can’t seem to find my way out of a paper sack in Lexington!)

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Dear Wedding Extravaganza Guests,

Not to be a terrible pest – but May 1 is quickly approaching! Jay and I need to get our final headcount to the caterer in the next few weeks and that, dear readers, requires the return of RSVPs.

Are you daunted by the request to draw us a picture? I promise you need not be a fine artist. Some of the best drawings have been the least complicated: two stick figures hiking through mountains with four round cats, a toilet, a pair of champagne flutes, a smiley face, even a drawing of my sweet grandfather’s aneurysm as explanation for his inability to attend! I know each and everyone of you will send a lovely, meaningful and likely humerous message/drawing!

In other news: wedding planning is wrapping up. Now I must start on the rather daunting list of “things to do around the house before countless friends and family descend upon us.” It is sure to be a busy 33 days. I will try my hardest to keep you updated on wedding developments. Until the next post, dig out those RSVP’s and get them in the mail – we eagerly await your doodles!

Love to you all,
Sarah & Jay

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The Top 10 Wedding Extravagnaza Questions

So I have this silly countdown widget on my iGoogle homepage that is counting down till the wedding. I see it pretty much every time I check my e-mail. Rarely, though, does this benign widget really catch my eye. Until Friday.

“50 Days Until You Get Married” I stared blankly at the countdown. 50. Fifty.

5. 0.

Oh my gosh! Today my counter reminds me that there are only 46 days till the wedding. A quick glance over my wedding Google spreadsheet revealed that I’m pretty much on schedule. Well, almost. It seems I have missed several blog post deadlines, meaning my readers might still be a tad in the dark about things.

Since this is not your traditional “walk down an isle” wedding, I feel I should address the Top 10 Questions I have received in a public forum, as I’m sure others have similar questions. And so, question No.1…

Q. No. 1 What should I wear to the wedding?
A. Originally I was telling people to wear whatever they wanted. It took about 10 minutes to realize this was causing our guests more agony than peace of mind so I set a couple basic “costuming” guides. Since our wedding during the evening and at a rather spiffy art gallery, I deem it to be “Cocktail Attire.” This means no jeans, t-shirts, jorts, etc. I encourage our guests to wear bright fun colors if they feel so moved. As a young woman with wicked bunions, I encourage comfortable footwear. And I’m sure this does not need to be said, but I’ll go there – I encourage accessories. I LOVE me some accessories. J

Q. No. 2 Can I bring a camera?
A. This question surprised me! YES! Please bring your cameras. I promise there will be plenty of photo-worthy events. I am currently looking at ways to create a photo site that everyone can log into after the wedding and post their favorite photos for group sharing. More on this site in the remaining 46 days (gulp!)

Q. No. 3 Will there be a rehearsal dinner?
A. Due to the casual, non-isle-walking nature of this wedding, there will not be a rehearsal dinner. Plans are in the works for a fun group activity on Friday evening, though, and details will be posted here.

Q. No. 4 What can I do to help?
A. Honestly, the biggest thing you can do to help is to be at ArtsPlace at 7 p.m. on May 29! If you feel the need to help more, shoot me an e-mail or give me a ring and I can put you to work.

Q. No. 5 Do you really want us to draw a picture on the RSVP?
A. YES! The ones that have come in are just fabulous. Be creative! Be yourself! If stick figures are your shtick, then by all means, draw us an army of them. Anything goes…

Q. No. 6 Um, I know you are sort of vegan-ish and stuff… um… (uncomfortable look) will there be “normal food” to eat?
A. This question cracks me up! Carnivores rest assured there will be meat at this wedding. There will also be a delicious vegan alternative. I know we have at least one diabetic in attendance, so there will be a no-sugar-added dessert option. Nowhere in the room will there be a peanut or tree nut. I am super sensitive to folks with special dietary needs and if you worry that yours might not be met, please leave a comment, e-mail, call or drop by the house so I can make sure we all have full bellies.

Q. No. 7 Will your cats be at the wedding?
A. Knowing us, this is a reasonable question. Sadly, no. There will be no cats at the wedding. I talked to my cat, Yum Yum, about being the ring bearer and she turned down the offer – crowds make her nervous. BUT you can view photos of our glorious cats here!

Q. No. 8 Where did you get all the vintage stamps for the invites?
A. E-Bay. There is a seller in Florence, Ala. who sells old stamps for a very good price.

Q. No. 9 Did you really lick all these stamps?
A. Yes. I was about 80% done and my tongue was killing me when Jay walked by and nonchalantly offered a damp sponge. Blast! Why had I not thought of that? But by this time the stamps and my numb tongue were at war. Who won? Me. I licked all of them! (now go be grossed out and wash your hands)

Q. No. 10 Will you and Jay be around for the rest of the holiday weekend?
A. Yep! With so many guests coming from all corners of the country we have decided to stick around for a while and spend time with you! Holler at us if you want more info!

Do you have more questions? Leave a comment below and I promise to respond in a timely fashion. Cheers!

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Who says you can’t have cereal at a wedding?

I’m pleased to announce that all tedious and boring wedding planning tasks are complete! The only things left on my very OCD wedding checklist are the fun details that will make our Extravaganza truly unique. Like favors, props and, of course, sweets. Our original plan was to serve up a smorgasbord of pies from a local bakery.  After a little research I learned that a pile of pies could quickly add up to a small wedding cake – and that dear readers defeats the purpose of our Recession Special Wedding. So we hemmed, and hawed – whatever could we do?

I found our solution at – one wedding cake made entirely of Rice Krispie Treats! I was floored. The cake stood tall, proud, and did not threaten to melt or slide apart should it get too warm. My mouth watered as I remembered devouring these confections at elementary school bake sales. I poked Jay and pointed to the screen, “Oh… My… Gosh! I want one of those!” he exclaimed. And so it was decided.

Friday evening rolled around and the weather was gross and we found ourselves with little motivation to go be social. Instead we whipped up this bad boy:

Make with vegan butter, the end product was every bit as sweet, crispy and delicious as we remembered. I went the extra mile and whipped up a batch of homemade Royal Icing to glue the three layers together. With the extra icing I wrote “Happy House” for our friends Clinton and Katie Hines who would be our cake-testing guinea pigs and had just purchased their first home. Not one to waste good icing, I tried my hand at pretty icing decorations around the edge of the cake. This failed miserably as Royal Icing is not stiff like other icing. Instead it looks like a sweet white lougie. This will be left off the actual wedding cake. 🙂

On Saturday we loaded up the cake and took it to the Hine’s house for testing. Clinton and Katie, and their friends Kamie, Chad and Zoe Dibble all stared in wonder at the spectacle before them. Even before tasting it was agreed that this was a winning solution to our dessert debacle.

After polishing off nearly half the cake, both the Dibble’s and the Hine’s gave the Rice Krispie Treat Wedding cake their stamp of approval. Even little Zoe was impressed and showed her gratitude by giving me a hug.

A Master Pie Baker himself, Clinton has also agreed to help Jay and I make bridal pies (on a slightly smaller scale) to save further dollars.  Test kitchens will be held in coming weeks to perfect dairy-free apple and mixed berry pies to complete our Extravaganza and ensure that all guests are in a sugar comma by 11 p.m.


Even the Cats Have Seasonal Affective Disorder

It has been a long cold winter! So long, gray and snow filled that even our cats seem to be suffering from seasonal affective disorder. Bored with the dull outside view and lack of open windows, the cats have taken to picking on one another and getting into things that  cats really should not get into – like the chocolate favors I have been making for the wedding! Much to my dismay Euclid hauled off with one of the tests on Valentine’s Day. (Fortunately I intercepted her before she ate much.)

Along with the growly cats, I have found myself a little glum and lacking inspiration. I have many things to share with our readers, but the perpetually gray sky seems to cloud all words. And Jay, well, gray skies and freezing temperatures only make long days of mathematics more numbing.

Last Sunday, however, we had our first taste of spring – 57 degrees and sunny! We spent the day opening windows to provide the cats with a fresh air and bottling our first batch of beer (mmmm, updates on the final product in 7 to 14 days….). By the end of the day I found myself filled with hope and daydreaming of long summer nights on the back porch after fruitful days of gardening.

Now that my winter grumpy cloud is lifting, I think it is time I update you all on some recent, and not so recent, wedding developments. Let’s start with the small things first:

The wedding invitations are nearly complete.  It seems these have turned into more of an obsession than an art project. Every time I think I’m done, I have another idea! I am putting on the brakes, however, so they can get in the mail sometime this year. I will shoot for the first week of March, so keep watch over your mailbox. (A note to those who have planned weddings before: I am aware it is several weeks earlier than tradition to send out the invites. Seeing as how all but six of our guests are traveling here from all corners of the country and our wedding is scheduled for a holiday weekend, I feel it is only fair to give you advance notice to book tickets, rooms and events.)

The week after our $5 Wine Tasting Jay and I ventured to Cincinnati to stock up on our winners. Tragically, the Blue Fin Petite Syrah that garnered such rave reviews was gone! No more till late in 2010 or 2011. Thankfully, I was armed with my iPhone and able to consult our blog post to determine the next runner up – the Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck Shiraz. Much to our delight, this red was actually less expensive than the Blue Fin and will allow us to put the leftover wine budget towards a nicer keg. So, beer lovers, rejoice!

After a long and arduous search (ok, only like four days, but still!) we have found a caterer. I was shocked at the cost of traditional wedding catering, and honestly, not that impressed with our menu options. Baked chicken, a starch and a vegetable plus a small dish of vegan option just was not the impressive and exciting meal I had anticipated! Top it off with a price tag that ate up more than twice our original food budget and I was ready to throw in the towel and serve hot dogs! Luckily, my favorite “Wed-site”,, came to the rescue and I found a tip to try local restaurants instead of actual caterers. After a quick Google I found one of our favorite Mediterranean joints does occasional event catering and was more than happy to help us out, and for less than we had originally budgeted! Our wedding night dinner will consist of beef, chicken and kafta kabobs, falafel, rice, hummus, tabbouleh and fattoush! I can’t tell you how thrilled we are with both the menu, and the service we are receiving. It should be a feast!

And finally, we have found a kind soul to DJ our event in return for a hotel room, food and bevies! Our original plan was to iPod DJ the night ourselves. Although I have complete faith in my ability to scurry across the room at regular intervals in a wedding dress and fancy shoes to man the sound, I honestly prefer not too! Instead, Tony Peluso, from Columbus, Ohio, will be tending the music. Tony and his wife, Sarah, are dear friends of Ian and come highly recommended. He also promises that nowhere in his mix is the Macarena or Electric Slide.

Whew, that was a lot of updating! I have several other non-wedding entries I want to write. Maybe this week it will be sunny and inspire more words!


The Five (or less) Tasting 2010

Faced with the daunting task of selecting budget wine to serve at our wedding, Jay and I enlisted the help of six willing wineos to taste seven bottles of wine from Trader Joe’s. Each wine was scored 0 to 5 points in five categories – Aroma, Flavor, Aftertaste, Appearance and Drinkability. The results were surprising. Despite the low price point, everyone agreed they were pleased with the drinkability of most wines.

Even more interesting is the most expensive bottle, Trader Joe’s Coastal Chardonnay, broke our pricing rule of $5 or less (it was $5.39) but was rated lowest of all the selections. All hands reached for a cookie or cracker after tasting this wine, and several folks had to toss the remainder of their glass (or pass it to their date).

What we all learned was that good wedding wine does not have to cost a fortune, and that one should not knock a cheap bottle until they have tried it. In addition, such fun was had that there was much talk of holding more tastings in the future! And now, the results!

Selected for the Wedding!

Wine No. 1 – Charles Shaw International 2008 Chardonnay
Price: $3.79
Average score of 16 points out of 25
Taster notes:

  • fruity & sweet
  • darker in color than other whites
  • Erin: Probably would not order a second glass

Wine No. 2 – Two Buck Chuck Chardonnay
Price: $3.79
Average score 15 points out of 25
Taster notes:

  • Aroma: faint fruit
  • Drier than No. 1
  • Better aftertaste than No. 1
  • Very young
  • Erin: would totally have a second glass

Wine No. 3 – Trader Joe’s Coastal Chardonnay
Price: $5.39
Average score: 12 points out of 25
Taster Notes:

  • Aroma: very light
  • No aftertaste
  • Light flavor, crisp
  • Ryan: Ewwww! Smells like smelly gym sock soaked in vinegar

Wine No. 4 – Two Buck Chuck Shiraz
Price: $3.79
Average score: 16 points out of 25
Taster Notes:

  • Aroma: sweet
  • Flavor: tart
  • Aftertaste: “meh”
  • Color: good
  • Ryan gave this wine a 🙂 AND he was able to ID it as the Two Buck Chuck

Selected for the Wedding!

Wine No. 5 – Blue Fin Petite Sirah
Price: $4.99
Average score: 18 points out of 25
Taster Notes:

  • Aroma: Light, not bad!
  • Flavor: Surprisingly full for a $5 bottle, light and refreshing
  • Aftertaste: juicy
  • Color: looks like beet juice
  • Sarah: delicious

Wine No. 6 – La Finca Malbec
Price: $4.99
Average score: 15 points out of 25
Taster Notes:

  • Aroma: strong sweet
  • Flavor: good
  • Aftertaste: good
  • Color: more red than the others
  • Erin: nice red vino!
  • Ryan: drew hearts and stars around this wine. Obviously this was his favorite
  • Dan: on the other hand, Dan noted the need to “reach for a cookie” post sip

Wine No. 7 – Vino Verde “Sparkling” white
Price $4.99
Average score: 17 out of 25
Taster Notes:

  • Aroma: pear-like
  • Flavor: dry, but good
  • Aftertaste: nice!
  • Erin: Consider a sweeter sparkling
  • Ryan: “I’m not a sparkling guy.”