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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Love in Longville

This past weekend one of my favorite couples around tied the knot. You may remember from pics that Bry was a bridesmaid in my wedding a few weeks ago~!

Bryana has been one of my best friends since first grade. We were on our way to Oxbow park with our classmates and I was all ready for the day in a zoo-themed sweatsuit. Everyone made fun of my outfit- but not Bryana. She sat by me  on the bus and didn’t make fun of my outfit. That was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. She moved away in fourth grade, but we remained penpals. Bryana invited friends and families to share memories and toasts at the rehearsal dinner, and I had fun embarrassing Bryana by reading aloud some of the letters she had written to me over the years. The last letter I read was one she had sent me about Dan when they first dated in middle school. As she said then and will say now, “he’s sweet, funny, romantic and very attractive.” (-;

The two of them have grown up together, completed college and Master’s Degrees together, and are about to embark on their careers up in the Northwoods together. They are such a great couple, it was evident throughout the wedding weekend that they are a perfect pair. My favorite example took place during the gift opening on Sunday. Dan's friends play a game where they hide bottles of Schmirnoff ice and if you are the unlucky (or lucky, depending on your perspective) person to find the bottle, you have to take a knee and gulp it down. As Bry and Dan opened their gifts from the groomsmen, sure enough there were two bottles of Schmirnoff Ice in the package. Like champs, they took a knee and gulped it down!

Bryana's ceremony was extremely personal. Dan's grandmother played the harp during the prelude, his sister played the flute during the unity candle and his mom played the violin as we processed. Katie and I also sang "Take me the Way I Am by Ingrid Michaelson as Bryana walked in, we had to fight back tears as we sang.  Instead of lighting a unity candle, Bryana and Dan's parents poured lake from their respective lakes into a small bowl. Then the maid of honor and best man placed the rings into the water for a blessing before the vows. Their vows were so sincere and meaningful, as Bryana struggled to say her vows through tears of joy, I took a look out into the crowd- there wasn't a dry eye to be seen. To top it all off, her uncle was the officiant and their dog, Shadow, was the flowergirl.

Bry grew her own sunflowers for the big day, they were beautiful! They lined the stairs from the cabin and some were taller than the cabin itself. One of the bridesmaids, Kenora, was talented enough to make them into beautiful bouquets! Kenora also made all the adorable signs in the pictures below. We nearly had a disaster on the dock during photos, but luckily no one got wet (well, except the groomsmen who had to repair the dock before the ceremony!)

The rain held off, but Bry had an umbrella just in case! She loved the umbrella so much that when it fell off the pontoon into the lake she sacrificed her whole look by instantly dropping to the floor of the pontoon and reaching into the lake to grab the umbrella, typical Bryana.

After the wedding we hopped on pontoons, one for the groomsmen and one for the bridesmaids. We had fun tossing the football back and forth and dancing. At one point some of the groomsmen pretended that they were hopping on our boat to mix and mingle the parties, not wanting to be left out, some of the girls hopped over onto the men's boat. At the last second the boys hopped back onto their original pontoon with a cooler of beer from the ladies' boat in tow. Scoundrels! Luckily, I was one of the girls that hopped onto the boys' boat!

When the pontoons pulled up to Patrick's, the whole crowd was waiting to greet us as we processed in from the dock. In the mayhem... the keys were lost and in the middle of dinner we noticed one of the pontoons was drifting from the dock. When some of the groomsmen went out to save the day, once again, they realized there were no keys!

The speeches, dinner, conversations and dancing were all wonderful. One of the highlights was watching Travis dance in a bucket.... It's a family tradition that if a younger sibling marries before the older sibling, the older sibling has to dance in a bucket because they are "washed-up".

Anyway, I'm rambling, but take a look at the pics of Bry's perfect day!

You can see the bowed dock, the flowergirl, Bry's cute little accessory and some of her flowers!

Bry and Dan at the rehearsal

Our friend Tessa did most of the hair, she is so talented!

Had so much fun dancing to the awesome band Wildwood!

Dan's groomsmen made their invites which I turned into a candle. Bryana and some coworkers made those adorable wine bottle centerpieces out of hot glue and spray paint. Bryana and Dan made little articles about each member of the wedding party so guests could put names to faces and read about how Bry and Dan knew each member of the party. She also had a mason jar for a honeymoon fund, smart girl!

Pontoon ride!

Some of the decorations, Kenora made the bouquets and the ceremony sign, my little sister and I made the Cook*Ryan sign and Bryana grew the sunflowers!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wine Quotes

These quotes were in the wine menu at the Graycliff... thought they were worth writing down. I added the last one. (-;

“Good company, good wine, good welcome, makes good people.”
                                                           WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

“The flavor of wine is like delicate poetry.”
                              LOUIS PASTEUR

By wine we are generous made,
It furnishes fancy with wings;
Without it we never would have had
Philosophers, poets or kings.
                    ANON: “Wine and Wisdom” 1789

“Wine rejoices the heart of man, and joy is the maker of all virtue.”
                                                                                          J.W. GOETHE

“Wine measurably drank, and in season, bringeth gladness to the heart, and cheerfulness to the mind.”
                   ECCLESIASTICUS 31:28

“Wine that maketh glad to the heart of man.”
                                               PSALMS 104:15

“A house with great wine stored below lives in our imagination as a joyful house, fast and splendidly rooted in the soil.”
                         GEORGE MEREDITH

“There are things you do because they feel right and they may make no sense and they may make no money and it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other and to eat each other's cooking and say it was good.”
                              BRIAN ANDREAS

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bahamian Rhapsody

As you know, Drew planned our honeymoon as a surprise for me. I had no idea where we were going until we reached our gate in Atlanta. Drew was relishing the surprise- giving me useless hints and false tips.  We finally reached our gate and, much to my embarrassment, I had no clue to which country the city of Nassau belongs.

However, the surprises just kept coming from the moment we landed until the moment we left.

The first two nights we stayed at The Graycliff Hotel, the oldest INN in Nassau. The mansion was originally built by a famous pirate of the Caribbean- John Graysmith. The mansion has been many things over the years, during the Revolutionary War the grounds served as naval headquarters for the US Navy. Following the war the home was turned into a private inn; the home was then purchased by British royalty and served as a home away from home for British Royalty until the ownership turned over again in 1977 and the mansion was turned into an inn once again. The hotel is also home to the first pool built in the Bahamas, a humidor, a wine cellar and a chocolate factory.

To be honest, stepping into the Graycliff feels like stepping into the pages of The Great Gatsby-it belongs to another era in almost every respect, from d├ęcor to service. Our first evening at the hotel, we enjoyed a bottle of champagne by the pool and some chocolates made in-house.  The pool has a beautiful mural painted on the floor, which hopefully you are able to discern from the picture. As we headed up the grand staircase to our room, we passed the owner sitting next to a man whose sole job is to sit and roll cigars from tobacco leaves all day. The owner gave Drew a hand rolled cigar and said “now, go to the patio and there’s your evening” with a thick Jersey accent and a directness you normally associate with movies.

The next morning, Drew told me to wear a swimsuit and a sundress. I willingly complied and blindly followed him to the harbor. “Swimming with dolphins” has always been on our bucket list (yes, we have a typed bucket list)- but no more~! We went to Blue Lagoon Island and partook in a dolphin experience. I have heard of many dolphin experiences and I truly think this must be one of the best. The dolphins seemed to have plenty of room to swim and play in the ocean, not in tanks,  and many of them are rescue dolphins of some sort. We were able to feed, kiss, rub, and dance with the dolphins. The highlight was the “push” at the very end; the dolphins push you with their nose as you outstretch your arms and “fly” across the water. It was wonderful!

Nets separate the dolphins during the day. We had two male dolphins with our group; however, just across the nets were two female dolphins with another group of tourists. The dolphins were so cute, they often risked a “time-out” from their trainer to swim over to the net and stare at the ladies for a while.

After the dolphin swim we were able to play among the cliffs and rocks on the island, lay out on the white sandy beach and sip on some rum drinks.

Jake and Stormy looking at the ladies.

Lost my swimsuit in the bahamas... )-:

That evening, we went to the five star restaurant at the Graycliff- the only five star restaurant on the island. We opened up our wine menu and obviously, we ordered a $200,000 bottle of wine from 1727. We didn’t find the wine to our liking so we had the sommelier take it away. (-;

This was probably my favorite evening of the trip. We hung out in the lounge while a woman sang and played piano. Three French ladies were also enjoying the music while simultaneously living up to every single French stereotype. They were beautiful, snide yet sweet, a bit bossy, and as charming as can be. They requested French song after French song, and when she did not know any of their requests they began to sing their favorite and told her she really must learn it.

The next day the biggest surprise of the trip awaited. Drew kept mentioning that he “didn’t know what to expect” and that we needed to bring our own alcohol. We went to a private dock where sailboat excursions pick up and drop off their clients; naturally, I assumed we were taking a sailboat excursion. There were signs for a yoga retreat pick-up and drop-off, but as Drew has only gone to yoga with me a handful of times, I wrote that off immediately.

I really didn’t believe it until we actually got on the boat to go to the yoga retreat.

Drew had my mom buy me a few new yoga outfits and he packed them in his bag. He also packed both of our yoga mats in his tiny suitcase, a feat I’m still quite impressed with. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by this sign:

You can imagine my initial concerns. The daily schedule looked like this:
6 am- 8 am: mandatory meditation and satsang (chanting in the temple)
8 am- 10 am: mandatory asanas (yoga on the platforms)
10 am: brunch
Noon: optional workshop
4 pm -6 pm: mandatory asanas
6 pm: dinner
8 pm- 10 pm: mandatory meditation and satsang

So we arrived during the “free-time” window in the afternoon and enjoyed the beach. The beach at the Ashram is everything you’d imagine a beach in the Bahamas would look like. At 4 we dutifully went to yoga at the platform on the bay. It was really fun despite the mosquitos. Thank Heavens for OFF!

That evening we went to meditation and the satsang in the temple. You have to cover your shoulders and knees to enter the temple, but Drew and I both accidentally wore shorts. It was a great experience. The next morning we went to the meditation, which was a silent walk down the beach and then satsang (chanting) during the sunrise. As Drew called it- “extreme hippie yoga”. Drew did sincerely enjoy playing the cymbal during the chanting/singing/praying- in fact, he might have enjoyed it a bit too much. (-;

Promptly following morning meditation we attended our second yoga session. Immediately after our delicious vegetarian brunch we went snorkeling with one of the members of the Ashram staff. It was wonderful because he took us off the beaten path and he threw in bread when we jumped in so we were surrounded by fish. He even let us feed the fish some bread and one of the little fishies bit my finger! The coral reef was stunning!

Up until this point we had pretty much followed the rules of the Ashram... with the only exception being a little sip of wine after the evening meditation the night before.

However, this sort of marks our departure from the rules of the Ashram. That afternoon we walked down the beach to Atlantis. Atlantis is a humongous, expensive resort. It is a little bit too mainstream for Drew and I, but boy were we glad we had the option to walk there to get a mojito  and some supreme nachos (meat, dairy and alcohol). When we walked back, I was sleepy from the mojitos and slept in a hammock- right through the mandatory asanas (Drew dutifully went). That night we went back to Atlantis, after the curfew.

The next morning we attended yoga and breakfast. Then we decided to walk down the beach (away from Atlantis) toward the lighthouse. There are only three private homes between the Ashram and the light house, one of them the former home of Nicholas Cage. The house is now in foreclosure because Mr. Cage got into a bit of trouble with the IRS. It looked like a short walk, with a short little swim around some rocks. What appeared to be a little outcropping of rocks was actually about a half a mile of rocky shoreline. The water near the rocks was quite deep so we had to swim the whole way. Those of you who know me well, know I have a serious phobia of fish and another phobia of being unable to breathe, so swimming in deep water with lots and lots of fish is a very panic-stricken scenario for me. I swam on my back most of the way so I didn’t have to look down and see what was- or wasn’t- swimming near me. It was a long, tiring swim, but when we finally reached the desolate beach on the far side of the rocks we were rewarded with our own private beach complete with a lighthouse and conch shells galore.

The swim back was really tiring because we were going against the waves and there was a storm coming in. When we finally made it, I took a two hour nap in the hammock. When I awoke, Drew took a two hour nap in the hammock. (-:

We made it through yoga and afterward we went out to Atlantis with our fellow yoga retreat buddies. One of our new friends- Fillippo- was at the retreat on karma yoga with his mom. This means that he has to work a minimum of five hours a day at the retreat.  A secondary reason he was on karma yoga was simply to learn English. I tried to teach him the word “cheapskate” but he thought we were saying cheesecake. So cheesecake became my new nickname haha.

The next morning we took off after the morning yoga session. We went to our third and final destination- the British Colonial Hilton.

The pictures pretty much say it all. We relaxed, enjoyed some drinks, soaked up the sun and swam.

Before our departure there was only one thing left to do... visit the Pirate Museum. As Drew said, he does have a weird Where’s Waldo-dressed-as-a-pirate tattoo.. we couldn’t leave without visiting “his people”.

We flew into Atlanta at 7 pm on Saturday evening. Drew thought he booked us a 7:35 pm flight to MSP, but he actually booked a 7:35 am flight to MSP. (-; So- lucky us- we spent an evening in Atlanta. We were able to check out the Olympic Centennial Park before we hit the hay.

So- now it’s back to reality. We received some really great items off our REI registry that should keep our lives interesting... We are pumped about our new hiking, camping and climbing gear!

I’ve also taken on my new project – the walk-in closet. Much to Drew’s horror, I’ve ripped everything out of the closet in an attempt to redecorate and reorganize the closet. I won’t rest until it looks like something straight off pinterest!

Om Shanti,

Closetzilla... hey, it’s always something, right?

P.S. My husband is the best. I love him so much and I'm so lucky he planned this amazing trip for us! See... I've turned into that annoying person that posts things like "I love my husband" on facebook. GROSS! hehe

Pics from the trip :

Rain at Senor Frogs on the last night... it was beautiful.


the beach at Blue Lagoon - where we swam with dolphins

Sunset at the Ashram

Drew at the Pirate museum... he's mature

The Beach Platform at the Ashram

Balcony at the Hilton

The Ashram


Hilton Beach

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Thursday before & Saturday after!

The wedding weekend kicked off bright and early on Thursday morning as we headed to the Stone Barn to decorate. We had a great time decorating while jamming out to the ipod. Candace & Kari, aka my wedding angels, decorated the day away-hanging the paper lanterns, setting up the shepherd hooks and mason jars along the aisle, putting tablecloths, plates and napkins on the tables, etc..

McCayla climbed the tree to tie crystals from the tree and Bonnie tied thulle to every single shepherd’s hook. She also patiently poored water into each and every mason jar, a job that took forever!

My Dad pounded in all the signs and did most of the heavy lifting. My mom made sure we thought of every single detail and stayed on track. Tom Imes prepared the wedding vehicle and Barb prepared everything for rehearsal! Meanwhile, back at the farm, Joanie and Amber were busy putting together the bouquets! It should also be mentioned that had to pluck the petals off about 4 five gallon buckets full of roses, hydrangeas, orchids and other flowers in order to get the "petaled aisle" ready! I love you girls!

The amount of work that goes into setting up and tearing down a wedding is astounding. Without my small army of wedding soldiers, I would have been out of luck.

At 4:00 pm headed to the church for a blessing. Drew’s uncle has married all of Drew’s cousins, and Drew was the last cousin to receive a wedding blessing from his uncle Bill. Unfortunately, Bill’s granddaughter was married the same day as us, so we arranged to have a blessing in the church on Thursday evening. It was also meaningful for my family as my great-great-great grandfather Jacob built the original West St. Olaf church; although the church burned down, most of my Thoe relatives have attended West St. Olaf. Many of them were married there and several are also buried there.

Pictures by Metalbird Media:
Photo by Metalbird Media.

Photo by Metalbird Media.

Photo by Metalbird Media.

Photo by Metalbird Media.

On the way to the church we realized that I didn’t have any flowers. I was in the van with my mom and we stopped to pick some wildflowers in the ditch. First we picked black eyed susans and queen anne’s lace, but it didn’t look quite right. We chucked them out the window and grabbed these instead! I don’t think we could have ordered anything so beautiful, they were perfect. I loved the simplicity of Thursday- just my closest family & friends, a simple dress, simple flowers and Drew, all in the presence of God at the church. It was perfect.  

photo by Britt Klug

Thursday evening we went to the barn for rehearsal. Rehearsal went smoothly and we enjoyed Roscoe’s barbecue and growlers from the Duluth Brewhouse. (Drew was originally in charge of catering. He suggested Roscoe’s and I said “Drew, I am not eating bbq in my wedding dress” and with that I usurped his role in selecting a caterer. We did enjoy Roscoe’s on Thursday night!

We invited anyone to give a toast on Thursday night. Some great stories were shared! My little sister Katrina recalled the time she came to visit and we dressed up in old fashioned clothing and went to the Titanic exhibit at the Science Museum. Then she called me the smartest blonde she’s ever met and we all laughed.

Friday morning my lovely stylist showed up at 6:20, what a trooper. While Bonnie was the first on the hair schedule, I failed to tell her that we changed the time from 7 am to 6:30 am... you can imagine her delight when I came barreling down to the basement to get her up.

The photographer came at 10 and began snapping pics of everything. Bonnie put on her wedding dress and we got some pictures together in our dresses- fun!

Photo by Metalbird Media.

When Drew arrived we met in the backyard. He gave me the necklace and earrings I was wearing and I gave him an engraved pocket watch. (My mom gave my dad an engraved pocket watch on their wedding too!)

Then.. the Bosco fiasco happened- but hey, it wouldn’t be a Thoe/Imes wedding without some sort of Bosco fiasco.

The wedding was fabuloso! The wedding would not have been a success without the help of Candy, Kari, Nicole, McCayla’s boyfriend and Logan.. as well as the help of my sisters, parents and Drew’s parents. We truly thank you from the bottom of our hearts and I apologize you had to work so hard on Thursday and Friday.

Photo by Metalbird Media. Bouquet by Your Enchanted Florist.

Drew is so lucky to have best friends he's grown up with, they met in elementary school!
Photo by Metalbird Media.

It takes a lot of time, energy and moolah to be a bridesmaid... thanks again girls for making the journey to MN, for finding blue dresses and for putting up with me! I love you all sooooo much!!!
Photo by Metalbird Media.

Photo by Metalbird Media.

My Mom played guitar while McCayla sang "Perfect Two" by Auburn. It was amazing!
Photo by Metalbird Media.

Photo by Metalbird Media.

My Maid & Matron of Honor!
Photo by Metalbird Media.

Photo by Metalbird Media.

Sign by McCayla, Tin cans by TJ, bike ensemble put together by Tom Imes! (-:
Photo by Metalbird Media.

First dance to "You Send Me" by Sam Cooke. We never practiced dancing to that song, but it went okay nonetheless!
Photo by Metalbird Media.

I was able to sing a few songs with the band which was fun for me!
Photo by Metalbird Media.

Fast forward to Saturday morning!

On Saturday, we all reconvened at the Thoe house for gift opening. Here are some pics of some of the higlights!
Matching kimono robes from our neighbors!

A lefse maker, carrying on the Thoe tradition!!!

Yesterday our coworkers surprised us with this gorgeous quilt! Thanks Alyssa! We love it!!!  

At 4 o’clock we whipped out the butterhead. I was very sad to see her go. At 7:30 we all loaded onto the haywagon for a sunset tour of the Thoe farm.

These two pics are by Britt Klug!

At dusk, the neighbors lit off a bunch of fireworks in honor of their annual thrashing party which is always held the first weekend in August. After their grand finale, we followed suit and shot off our own fireworks. One of the fireworks did backfire on us.... but no injuries! (-:

The next day most people went home. Britt stayed an extra day so we took another haywagon ride over to the thrashing party where Britt was able to experience some antique tractors!

photo by  Brittsky