Winter Wonderland

Well - winter is certainly in effect! We are on our third winter storm warning of the season, and it's so pretty! I'm not looking forward to the heating bill, but I still get excited to see the falling snow. I probably wouldn't feel quite the same if we didn't have a snowplow contract in place!

We spent a cozy Thanksgiving Day here at the hacienda, just us two and the cats. Adam got the house decorated before the real weather hit, and has been working on the inside ever since. We now have a very impressive, if tiny, cedar-lined vestibule closet (as well as a freshly painted vestibule!) and we are just a few solid days work away from a proper guest room. I am humbled by the amount of work Adam has put into this house in the last year - it has come so far so fast!

We will be celebrating Christmas in our own home for the first time this year, so we just went and got our first real tree. So far no kitty catastrophes (no pun intended)! I think we've decided to go with the "riotous" decorating scheme...

Here's wishing you all Happy Holidays!


Trick or Treat!

Happy Halloween from Kelly and Adam (click the image above to see the full "scary" animation). We got fewer trick or treaters at our house than in previous years (more candy for me) and, mercifully, we were passed over by the usual assortment of sullen high school students dressed as hooligans.



I've taken a brief break from wedding planning to decorate for Halloween. Due to the roving gangs of tulip thieves we had last spring, I decided not put any decorations on the outside of the house...



We met at a Pei dorm party during spring semester at New College in 1995. We had seen each other around campus (with a student body of just over 500, it would be hard not to), and even had a few mutual friends, but we hadn’t officially met.

When I was a kid, we had a family joke about the amount of time I spent in the bathroom. True to form, I officially met Adam when I knocked on his door during the party to ask if I could use his bathroom. Our first date was to see the movie Outbreak, which Adam is probably embarrassed to admit having seen. I think our second official date was to see Carmina Burana at the “Weasel”.

I will admit that the first year or so was a little rough. I suspect we argued almost as much as we laughed (that is to say quite a lot). Two only children never have it easy learning to be a pair. Lucky us – we’re still laughing (and he is very sweetly tolerant of my frequent hunts for the ladies’ room)!



The best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance.

Hot water now comes out of both taps.

You can make sun tea instantly.

A seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron!

If the temperature drops below 95, you may feel a little chilly.

In July, it only takes 2 fingers to steer your car.

You CAN get sunburned through your car window.

You can actually burn your hand opening the car door.

You break into a sweat the instant you step outside at 7:30 a.m.

You can see asphalt in its liquid state.

Your biggest bicycle wreck fear is, "What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death?"

(If you're not excited about the wedding now, there's no hope for you!)


Let them eat cake!

And so we begin the hunt for sweets! We had already decided that we wanted a carrot cake for the Groom's Cake, as chocolate is not Adam's favorite. We were open to ideas for the Bride's Cake, but I had found a picture of a cake I liked for inspiration.

Our first stop was at a well known Dallas cakery which shall remain nameless. After sitting around for 15 minutes, watching teenagers build cakes, we finally met the wedding cake saleswoman. I won't call her the baker, as it seems the teenagers do all the actual work. Simply put, quite possibly the most awful cake ever. Stale cake, utterly lacking in flavor of it's own, slathered with overly sugared icing and fillings. She also informed us that they couldn't do carrot cake, and that no one could reproduce the inspiration for the Bride's Cake. Don't call us, we'll call you... or not.

Our second stop was a tiny little bakery in the Park Cities, with tasty cake and a willingness to make the effort and give us what we were looking for. Turns out the woman is cousin to the people who own Malibu (our favorite gourmet take-away) in Montreal! Talk about a small world! The lady was really nice, and the cake was quite good, but still not quite what we were looking for.

Our third and final cake tasting was with the pastry chef at the Adolphus. We had emailed the selection of cakes we wanted to try ahead of time, including our special carrot request. This was the only place that allowed us to choose what we would taste in advance. Our wedding coordinator ushered us into a small private dining room, where we (Adam & I, my Mom & Dad, two wedding coordinators, the pastry chef and her assistant) all sat down at a beautiful table with linens and china and candles and everything. We were served coffee (oh such lovely coffee) before the cakes were brought out. As the foot long cake plate was delivered to the table, I assumed it would placed in the middle so we could all take bites from the line of 5 small cakes it held. And then they sat it right in front of me. "Oh - I get to taste first!" I'm thinking, till they sat identical foot long plates in front everyone. Now, I make a pretty mean carrot cake, and anyone who knows my Mom knows she is a genius at sweets, but I have NEVER had a carrot cake this good in my life.

Done deal.


BBQ in Flower Mound

During our visit, Erlann (Kelly’s mother) organized a BBQ to celebrate the engagement and help me get to know some of Kelly’s extended family. Since we were a bit of a crowd, Barry and Susan kindly hosted the event at their lovely home in Flower Mound, TX. So many Texas towns seem to have interesting, quirky names. Mind you, I come from Quebec where people thought nothing of naming a community St. Polycarpe or St. Louis de Haha…so quirky may just be a matter of perspective.

I was a little anxious before we arrived but everyone was so gracious and friendly that, before long, I felt right at home. Erlann was even kind enough to make labeled hats so I could learn everyone's name with a minimum of embarrassment. At any rate, between the wonderful company, delicious food, and Barry’s potent margaritas, Kelly and I got some much needed relief from the frenetic pace of our visit.

Check out the photos on our Flickr page.


Filet Mignon, Please!

One more stop in the gravy train! It seems like we do nothing in Dallas but go from one meal to the next... food here is like nowhere else. In case you were not aware, Dallas is a major restaurant test market for the United States. Snuffer's was making some killer loaded cheese fries long before the Outback Steakhouse was a gleam in anybody's eye! We get some seriously good food here. That said, the dining plan for the week is even more complex than the wedding vendor appointment schedule! From Bacon & Eggs ala Erlann to barbacoa tacos at Chipotle, from the French Room at the Adolphus (that's another post entirely!) to table-side guacamole at Mariano's... excuse me while I wipe the drool off my chin...

Ah, that's better. So for one of our "must dine's" we went to Dunston's Steakhouse on Lovers Lane, where we've decided to hold the rehearsal dinner (How apropos, I hear you say). For those of you who are uninitiated, Dunston's is a Dallas Institution with a capital "I". My parents love to tell about me, age 4, asking the waitress (I think her name was Sunshine, and she was about 87) for a filet mignon medium rare and "Yes ma'am- she knows what that means and that really is what she wants to order thank you..." Needless to say Dunston's was a mainstay of my childhood. They have an open mesquite grill in the middle of the main room, where you can watch your steak cooking, and a salad bar that reminds you that salad can be comfort food, too, and certainly it needn't be healthy if you don't want it to be. At Dunston's, you know you're in Texas!

Remember I said they have an open mesquite grill? You probably won't notice till it's time to go to bed, but mesquite smoke clings...


Meet the Officiant

For our second night on the road (Sunday) we had decided to stop for a visit with my aunt and uncle in Ponca City, OK. Since aunt Margareta was on her way back from Sweden, right after we arrived Kelly, uncle Herb, and I all piled back into the car to pick her up from the bustling Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. Her flight arrived after a minor delay and our little road trip gave us a chance to do some much needed catching up. Our brief visit also gave Kelly and I the chance to ask Herb if he would, in his capacity as a Universal Life minister, be the one to marry us. While there are some legal formalities to be worked out, we’re happy to announce that Herb has agreed. On a sadder note, we discovered that Head Country BBQ, our favorite eatery in the greater Ponca-Tonkawa-Pawhuska metroplex, is closed on Mondays. We consoled ourselves with a late breakfast at the Daily Grind before hitting the road for Oklahoma City.
(Photo - Margareta, Herb, and Ziggy)

Look Mom - Red Dirt!

Just a glimpse of the scenery we took in during our drive through Oklahoma. Heading toward Ponca City, it was raining so hard that we pulled off the road and sat for a while with everyone else. Except the truckers that is. And then we decided it was raining so hard that it would be better to be moving along with the truckers rather than being sitting ducks. After an hour or so it cleared enough for me to take the wheel, and poor Adam finally got to sleep a while. He missed the lightning storm.


Road Trip

After a false start at 1am -we had to double back 45 minutes because we forgot to say goodbye to the cats- we're finally on the road. For those who haven’t heard, Kelly and I are driving to Dallas (via Oklahoma) to visit with family and work on the planning for our wedding. I’m not fully appraised of the program of events for the week but I gather it’s going to be a whirlwind of photographers, bakers, DJs, and florists. Since I trust Kelly’s taste in these matters, I’ll probably spend most of the time nodding supportively. I hope we have to sample some cake.


Our Furry Children

In reviewing photos for inclusion on this site Kelly and I realized about half of the shots we take are of our cats (that's Nori in the photo above). Since we haven't been able to put together any other decent photo albums this will be our first test of our new Flicker account. Drop us an email if you run into any problems.



Early summer at the hacienda.

Since I am doing most of the planning from Rochester, we are taking 10 days in July/August to drive down to Dallas and meet vendors, etc. We had initially wanted to do this earlier in July, but Barnes & Noble wouldn’t let me take vacation time till after the Harry Potter Madness has died down (there’s still time to reserve your copy of Book VII!).

I spent the better part of last week sifting through Vendor Referral lists, looking at Vendor websites and begging for recommendations. I have managed to schedule consultations with the wedding planner at the hotel, three cakeries, two florists (I couldn’t believe one florist was already booked for our date, more than a year out!), three photographers, a hairdresser and a make-up artist (GOOD LORD!), one DJ (I still need two more), one pianist (I think). Oh, and we need to meet with our officiant - Adam’s Uncle Herb, in Ponca City, Oklahoma. And fabric for my dress. And reserve the room for the rehearsal dinner. And eat Mexican food, lots of Mexican food.


About Adam

I was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, the only child of Prudence (Mors) and Jack Dean Rains – and, later, Jim Lewis. Jack grew up in Ponca City, Oklahoma with his younger brother Herb. Prue was born in Chicago and raised in Wellesley Hills, MA with her brother Chris. My step-dad, Jim, is a native Montrealer.

I attended Dawson College in Montreal before eventually moving to Sarasota, FL where I met Kelly and completed a bachelor’s degree in biology. After college, I returned to Montreal to finish my master’s degree in epidemiology at McGill University. I subsequently moved to Rochester, NY to live with Kelly and took a job with the University of Rochester’s Department of Community and Preventive Medicine. Working with an excellent group from the Division of Public Health, I was lucky to get to see quite a bit of the world in my early days at the University. Though I recently left the University and have started my own consulting business, I continue to teach on a part-time basis.

When I’m not writing stilted autobiographical sketches, I spend my increasingly scarce free time working on our house and watching murder mysteries with Kelly. To get an idea of what I do, and to see photos from some of the places I’ve been, click the link on the right to go to my personal website.


About Kelly

I was born in St Louis and raised in Texas, the only child of James Clark & Erlann Adams Clark (both born in Oklahoma). I attended New College in Sarasota, and then went on to Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Crafts for my MFA in Ceramics. I have been splitting my time between teaching/making pottery and a part-time job at Barnes & Noble (they pay for my health-care and subsidize my book habit) for over 10 years now. By the time I finished my degree here in Rochester, Adam had a good job at the local med school, and we decided to stick around for a while. We bought a house last summer, and have been fixing it up ever since. It was built in 1930 and is really lovely, BUT it seems like there’s always something needs doing. Plus I’m still trying to eradicate all traces of the previous owner (she had an overwhelming fondness for mint green paint). My big job at the house is the yard, which is an amazing English Garden. It takes a ridiculous amount of time and energy to maintain that overgrown floral splendor (no small feat for someone who once managed to kill a Ficus tree). I’ll include pictures occasionally so you can see how the seasons progress. For more info on my work, there is a link to the right that will take you to my personal website.