Nesting

December 22nd was our official move-in date at the new apartment.

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I did not take photos of the move because I HATE moving. However, this move was probably the best move of my life. Have I mentioned the peace? And the space? We have the whole second floor. And NO ONE lives above us. And rent is easily half of what it would be if we were still in NY. But the commute is three times as much … so yeah, still coming out about even.

As I already mentioned, Erik was in charge of “before” pictures. They all look like this:

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He thought I wanted him to take before pictures of the walls and not of the rooms.

Anyway, we’ve been working on gradually making some subtle rental-appropriate improvements that make us happy.

For example, see that random turquoise threshold on the bottom right?

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After a couple weekends of sanding through four layers of what was surely lead paint (we used masks!), I put down a coat of strain and a coat of poly … and we had a decent-looking threshold:

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The mix-and-match linoleum remains a problem. I’ll have to work on the landlord a bit for that one.

The turquoise is still alive and well in the back half-bedroom (currently masquerading as a walk-in tool closet). We’ll have to address that at some point as well.

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Erik’s mom and stepdad came out from MN for New Year’s weekend and helped us feel homey with cupcake plates and competing NFL fleeces. Neither of which did us any good in the post-season.

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We used their visit as motivation to get to Halibut Point finally:

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Brrrrrrrr.

Their visit also motivated my mom, dad, and stepmom to come up to Gloucester for brunch at Sugar Mag’s and a snow walk around the harbor. And musical winter accessories it seems.

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And tea in our new bay window nook!

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A few more of my new apartment favorite things …

Ocean frost on the bathroom window:

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A colorful snowy neighborhood:

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A colorful cozy living room:

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And the perfect sunrise view from my spot on the bed:

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Visitors welcome!

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Minimooning

Since we live in New England now, we decided to take advantage with a mini-moon at a cozy inn in Maine! Immediately following the ceremony, we took off for the Portsmouth Harbor Inn & Spa in Kittery, where a gorgeous bouquet from my parents and step-parents was already waiting.

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First order of business was a duet massage, which was GLORIOUS, especially since I think I left my body while getting married and needed a few minutes/hours/years to fully comprehend wtf I had just done.

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We followed up the massage with some technology time to get a few “errrrr, we just got married” announcements out of the way.

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And to enjoy the complimentary tea and molasses cookies.

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Dinner was yummy but OMGSOSPICY Indian food at Tulsi. If you ever eat there, please do yourself a favor and order it mild!

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Dessert was our complimentary prosecco … that took about 45 minutes to figure out how to open.

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Day 2 involved a stunning yet freezing and wet cliff walk in Ogunquit, ME in the morning …

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… and an unpictured, very necessary two hours in the outdoor hot tub at the inn to thaw our bones.

Saturday night, we ventured across the river to Portsmouth, NH.

Dinner was at The Friendly Toast, which had better ambience than food.

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I think we were supposed to be posing with our rings here … though I clearly did not do a very good job.

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After dinner, we took the famous Christmas Stroll at Strawberry Banke.

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Highlight #1 = Irish music, molasses cookies, and hot cider in the old barn!

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Highlight #2 = live pottery!

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Highlight #3 = Bonfire!!

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Sunday morning, we took one last stroll through Portsmouth …

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… before embarking on our on-the-way-home “wine and cheese” tour.

Our first stop was Hickory Nut Farm for goat cheese and much more.

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I’m not sure it gets sweeter than this:

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We let ourselves into the most charming stall store ever …

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… and loaded up on cheeses and soaps before setting out for our next stop, Flag Hill Winery.

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We availed ourselves of the free tasting and then took a walk around the grounds.

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Off-season vineyards are so dramatic. I was ready to pitch a tent and live here.

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Stop 2 was Windroc Vineyard:

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Our third and final stop was Zorvino Vineyards.

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We saw this poor, cold girl in a wedding dress walking up and down and up and down and up and down the rows of grape vines while three photographers shouted orders at her. And I was so glad to have eloped.

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We bought one bottle of wine from each vineyard, and they were all delicious. Who knew New Hampshire could make wine? Granted, they were mostly non-grape fruit wines … but that’s even better as far as I’m concerned. And we barely scratched the surface! We probably could have spent weeks covering all the vineyards, dairy farms, and chocolatiers that were in the area.

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We returned home exhausted and full of New England pride … and totally ready for a week lying on a beach in a tropical locale. Too bad we were back to work the next day.

Thank goodness for amazing coworkers that kept the celebrating alive with a decorated office chair, gifts, and a real, live wedding cake!

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We even got to take the top layer home to freeze for next year. I’m such a lucky girl 🙂

Eeeek!

In December, we did something unexpected.

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Last time I checked, I thought marriage was something outdated and for other people.

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And then I found myself in the middle of one!

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And I didn’t really mind.

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More photos here.

And, because I think there’s nothing wrong with taking a moment to pat myself on the back …

Here’s my parents’ wedding in 1975.

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I cut my mom’s $10 flea market wedding dress in half, sewed an elastic into the new waistband, and layered it under my $3 Dress Code consignment find.

Voila! New wedding dress:

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But my craftiness did not end there. I had not been planning on flowers, but my mom put her foot down. She said: Sarah, you’re going to look like a hobo walking through the woods on a regular day. You need flowers.

So, obviously, I had to make arrangements. But it was December in Massachusetts! I just could not bring myself to buy imported or dyed flowers. I went to the local craft store and picked up felt, pipe cleaners, and a hot glue gun. (It is not lost on me that all of those ingredients were probably imported and dyed also. Sigh.) I did some googling to get an idea of where to begin, and then I started cutting. Here’s where I ended up!

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The gems in the flower centers are from broken bits of jewelry and spare buttons I found hanging around my apartment.

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The boutonnière took a few tries, but I finally came up with something presentable enough.

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Also worth noting, we had a hot chocolate toast mid-way through the ceremony. Inspired by Taza and the Mayans 🙂

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Oh, and there was [a cup]cake:

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Obviously, this elopement would not have been possible without our excellent Justice of the Peace, Gayle Smalley, discovered through the magic of yelp. And the beautiful photographic memories would not have been possible without Andrew Kelly Photography, discovered through many years of mutual friends and mutual weddings 🙂

Yay for marriage!

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November ventures

In November, we signed the lease on a new apartment in Gloucester.

We were excited because it had (1) more space and (2) fewer neighbors that required us to (a) call the police, (b) hide under the bed in fear, (c) invest our life savings in earplugs.

I asked Erik to take “before” pictures. They all look like this:

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I should have supervised.

We couldn’t move in for a month, so we busied ourselves with our typical schedule of local exploration (in the 5 minutes per week not occupied by our jobs or commute).

We discovered and fell in love with the Manchester-Essex Conservation Area:

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I also discovered that the little patch of arugula I had planted on the side of our building in April suddenly decided to grow. Yes, in November. After the frost! I don’t get it, either.

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I made a salad. Erik didn’t want to eat it because he thought it had probably been infused with too much dog poop. But I convinced him, and he agreed it was delicious. It was nice of that little arugula patch to produce before we moved.

We also went on a cemetery hunt.

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I see this gorgeous old cemetery every day from the commuter rail, but I could never quite figure out exactly how to reach it on foot.

Problem solved!

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The cemetery is so old that this huge tree grew around the stone:

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Can you spot the Erik?

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The month ended with some turkey gymnastics. I was certainly not prepared for the logistical challenges when my hero scored us a giant turkey from the farm at the last minute.

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The end result, however, was a glorious Thanksgiving turkey raised by my farmer. Sadly, I have no photographic evidence. Just know, it was worth all of the maneuvering, creative transportation, and extreme refrigeration measures taken.

Sigh, November was beautiful.

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Expansion on Location: France

In October, I ate food in France.

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It looked like this:

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Crepes:

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Pain au chocolat:

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Cafe au lait:

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Tapas:

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Yes, we went to a Spanish restaurant in Paris and it was AMAZING, as evidenced by the following …

Manchego with quince jelly:

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Grilled pulpo:

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Cuajada with honey and pine nuts:

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Nougat:

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Arroz con leche:

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That whole meal reminded me of Bilbao, and I loved it. But, I was in France and had to acclimate.

So …

Croissants:

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French bread, jams …

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… pamplemousse and chocolat chaud:

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French onion soup:

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Croque madame:

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Fruit tart:

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Baguette sandwich on top of an ancient medieval church:

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Macaron:

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Amazing things:

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It was rough, but someone had to do it. Never let it be said that I can’t take one for the team.