Yaga’s 9th annual chili quest

There are lots of reasons to love a food festival. Whenever there’s one happening in Houston or OKC, Jacob and I, of course always think about going. To start the year right in January, we attended the 9th Annual Yaga Chili fest down in Galveston, TX.

 

We attended the festival with our friends and family (Bauer also participated. The festival is dog-friendly). Although it was a rainy, humid day, we had a blast.

An outdoor food festival in Galveston which each year brings in hundreds of festival contestants. This festival packs the historic Square in Galveston Island, with chili’s of every style imaginable. The festival provides Chili samples, beer, margaritas, and live music

The tickets are super cheap ($10), and you get to taste a ridiculous amount of chili.There is a beer tasting part of the festival as well, but we all picked just to do chili.

 

The chili ranges from TX style (spicy brisket-based chili with NO F*** BEANS) to other “chili” that has beans (i.e., bean soup). The ones with beans were terrible, and the TX style chili was terrific (water’s wet).

 

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Exploring Disneyland in One Day

Vacation to Los Angeles called for a trip to the original Disney Park! We knocked it out in one day. Check out some hints and tips!

Disneyland is the most magical place on earth but it takes a lot of energy to navigate! That being said, a hearty breakfast is essential to your adventure. Whether you’re staying in Anaheim, LA or even San Diego, make sure you don’t waste your time with American staples like Denny’s, IHOP or McDonalds.

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Thanks to the homie, D O double G from the LBC, there’s a wonderful breakfast joint 5 minutes away from the park. Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles is the place to be for a delicious breakfast delicacy! The mixture of sweet and savory is to die for and don’t be afraid to drizzle that sweet sweet syrup all over your chicken!

All of us got the Scoe’s #1 ($13) which comes with 2 waffles and either a chicken breast or chicken thighs. After this meal, you’ll have to tell your phone “it’s still me with a little chicken grease.” This meal is absolutely lights out, the chicken is crisp and flavorful on the outside while retaining magnificent juicy deliciousness on the inside. The chicken alone was the best fried chicken I’ve had outside of the south. The waffle is uniquely fluffy as the batter is custom tailored to Roscoe’s restaurants alone. You will not regret starting your morning in the most magical place on earth with Roscoe’s!

  1. If you’re visiting the park for a special occasion or just really want one, ask for a pin. Main Street City Hall is the place to visit for free special occasion pins! Whether it’s your first time in the park, you’re recently engaged, or somebody is celebrating a birthday, the friendly City Hall cast members will be happy to give you a celebratory button.

2. Use Disneyland websites to locate your favorite characters.If you’re on the hunt for a specific character during your day at the park, use Finding Mickey to determine their whereabouts. We didnt really care to find any characters but this tip is for you planners!

 3. If you ask, Photopass Photographers will snap a picture on your cell phone.Hence the photo below! (Jacob was so excited he couldn’t keep his eyes open)
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4. Visit during nonpeak months for shorter lines and fewer crowds.Overall, Disneyland is pretty busy year round. No matter when you go, you won’t be alone!

If avoiding crowds is your number one goal, these are the least busy times at Disneyland:

  • First full week of January through the middle of February
  • Third Tuesday of February to mid-March (when spring break starts)
  • Mid-April through the third week of May
  • First Tuesday of September to the beginning of October
  • Second week of November

We went on February 6th and it also happens to be their early closing day. We found there to be little to no crowds for most rides. You can also use the free Disneyland app to view wait times.

5. Want to know if Celebs are at the park while you are? Follow DisneylandCeleb on Instagram. Also be on the lookout for the Disney Escorts in plaid vests, a celebrity is usually with them.

6. You can bring food and drinks into the park. Because Disneyland allows guests to bring in their own meals, you can save a lot of money on snacks. We only brought water into the park but spent most of our time trying the must have snacks at Disneyland. Unfortunately all of us were more concerned with eating the snacks rather then taking pictures of them but below you will find a list of  the snacks we had!
  • Dole Whip Float -The Myth. The Legend. The Whip. The Dole Whip. Or in this case, the Dole Whip Float!Dole Whip is a soft serve pineapple flavored frozen treat that you can find at the entrance to Adventureland in front of the Enchanted Tiki room. You can order just the Dole Whip itself or as a float in pineapple juice, complete with a little drink umbrella.
  • Mickey Pretzel – Eliza snagged this bad boy as she waited on us to finish up with Space mountain ( She doesnt do fast rides)
  • Churro!!! – Apparently Disney has unveiled a limited edition rose gold churro. We did not have the rose gold churro. Whatever churro you decide on just know it is always a good choice.

Now that we have scratched the Disney itch it’s safe to say our next visit to California will not include Disneyland but rather visiting Knotts Berry Farm and of course Universal Studios. I (Eleni) have never been to another Disney park so Disney World would have to be my next Disney adventure if that’s what the future vacation holds.

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Disney parks are always magical and our experience was nothing but excellent!

Until next time! BEEP BEEP!!

Pass the cake!

Holy Smokes 26! Another year with more life lessons handed to me.

I’ve been 26 for a whole week now, I feel so much wiser already.  Totally kidding but I do feel incredibly grateful. It has proven time and time again that everything in my life happened for a reason and has led me to this present moment. So, I want to bore walk you through personal lessons that really showed me how to LIVE in year 25.

  1. There is a clear difference between speaking truth and being an a**hole. Speaking my truth means liberation of self without demolition of others. It does not mean hurting feelings or shredding hearts. Granted sometimes the other party may not like what you have to say but focus on delivery and timing. I believe the saying happens to go like this -” If everyone loves you, something is wrong but if everyone hates you, something sure isn’t right.” Whatever it may be speak your mind but focus on your timing and delivery.
  2. People will be crappy but people will be good. They will pull the rug from under you and they will lift you up when you least expect it. Few people in this life are entirely either warm or cold-blooded. Fragile, yes.  Beautiful, yes. But hardly ever just a good guy or bad guy.
  3. There aren’t any traffic lights when it comes to your growth. There isnt anything flashing red telling you to stop nor is there an inviting green summoning you to fly full speed ahead into your goals and wants. Your gut is your guide. Listen when she speaks. She will speak softly at first, so don’t ignore her.
  4.  It’s okay to cut people out of your life. If you find yourself anxious, hurt, or disappointed on a regular basis by a person in your life, it’s a good indication you’ve outgrown this relationship. Wish these people well and don’t hold hatred or resentment in your heart. Cut ties and know you’re doing the right thing for your own mental and emotional well being.
  5. Admit when you’re wrong. ( I’m sure Jacob is laughing at this one. I’m still working on it, ok.) It takes practice (and being wrong), but learning a little humility builds character. No matter how old you get, you’re never too old to learn something new, and you’ll find that just about anybody can teach you something about life.

I can already feel how killer chapter 26 will be for me. I know it will be emotional, stressful but full of growth and new opportunities. I don’t know much for certain this year and my goals are short-term rather than the long-term for the time being but to be happy in the present is when you’re living the most… Isn’t that how the saying goes?

Alright times up! Hope you enjoyed my small words of wisdom.

-Eleni

Guest Writer : My love life is a food network special: (We’re all one Neilson rating away from having our show cancelled)

As a guy who prides himself on building relationships on honesty, I feel it necessary to state that I don’t know the first thing about a healthy relationship. However, I do know a helluva lot about failing relationships. So much so, I have successfully determined that they come in twos.

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Much like a great dinner, some last 2 hours. Perhaps this fling is like a large pizza that will heat up for lunch tomorrow – 2 days. Say gurl, do you come with a money back guarantee?  Because after the 2-week trial I’m gonna cancel you like Blue Apron. And 2 months. The only refrigerated item I’ve found to last longer than my relationships is a fresh carton of Silk.

Sometimes you meet someone and you feel that famous Emeril Lagasse BAM! – you immediately know it’s just right.

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Other times you wonder what in the hell you’re doing off I-10 riding shotgun in a droptop Camaro with Guy Fieri, but then you open your eyes and realize that madness was all worth it because you’ve never seen something as beautiful as what’s in front of you. Soft curves. Has substance, but won’t weigh you down. It’s all you want to see at that moment. The perfect omelet.

Food Network shows are a dime a dozen. Sometimes we want those cutthroat shows that make us root for the single-mom bakery chef with pink hair from San Fran, or leave us physically screaming at the television praying that d-bag from Brooklyn doesn’t win, or wonder what a Frenchillada is. That fire just has a way of reaching us when we least expect it. Sometimes we just want something comfortable. No countdown. No wildcard ingredient intended to throw us off. Just us listening to someone talk about how to make a perfect tomato basil soup. We know how to make tomato basil soup, that’s not why we’re there. We just enjoy their voice, the way they mince garlic, and the knowledge that when that lid comes off and the steam clears all we’ll see are smiles. There is show for any and every moment.

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What I’m trying to say is, perhaps, in another life things would have worked out between you and that bridesmaid from last summer, but it didn’t in this one. Or, just because y’all both like your Bloody Mary extra spicy doesn’t mean this is supposed to be your forever brunch date. Or, sure, you’re happy right now, but when she takes that promotion out in Seattle and want to move back to The Republic (see: The Great and Independent, Texas) then it’s going to have to end. There are so many reasons things don’t work out in relationships, but in my opinion the biggest of them is that we have too many options.

Do you realize Julia Child’s The French Chef ran for 10 years on PBS? Can you imagine a cooking show running for 10 years today given the option to watch literally anything else on 700 other channels? We have too many options.

We hold on to these options for false security. The option to not waste invest our time in a show and just bail to the next channel is so tempting. It’s much easier knowing a show is nearing the end of its season. We have time to mentally and emotionally prepare. When we’re down to the final four on Chopped, we know we’re almost done. We think about the laughs and remember the worries. We’re grateful for a good season and hope to see another in a few weeks, but if it doesn’t work out then no hard feelings. We prepare to move on.

What’s hard is when a show gets canceled mid-season. What?? Why?!? We had something great going. For the past two months we get back from the bar on a Saturday at 3AM, order $70 worth of Pappa John’s, kickoff the pants and shoes, and get ready for a good time on the couch. But wait, our show wasn’t recorded this week. What happened? Did I lose this channel? We drunkenly call the cable company at a strange hour to try and figure out what went wrong. There was no goodbye. There was no justification. We have to find out via Instagram that the host of our favorite show left on episode 5 to become a chocolatier in Colombia.

I’ll level with you, I’m not always the victim – ghosts know no gender. Deep in the science of a young mind I have left without saying goodbye to one person so that I could immediately turn to say hello to someone else. We’re all one Neilson rating away from being cut and replaced with a fresher, younger Giada De Laurentiis (uhh, not. I love you, Gi.).

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We have to realize that we’re not the only one with options, though. I’m a huge proponent of giving shows a second shot. It took me a month to watch the first three episodes of The Crown and only a day to finish the rest of season one and two, so if you really want to make it work you can.

Realizing that, we should be open to that second shot for everyone. Getting to know someone isn’t always comfortable. Guy Fieri is a lunatic. The first time I saw him I didn’t want anything to do with this bleach head from Flavortown; he was weird. Definitely not like a host I had ever watched before, but there was something there. He wasn’t like Gordan Ramsay – controlling the kitchen and using his personality to intimidate me into thinking I want to eat squid topped with a cranberry reduction. Guy had his own personality, but the things I thought were odd about him were the things I thought were odd about me. Did I say “See you later olive hater!”? and did he reply “After awhile vegephile!”? No, but I like to think he 1) doesn’t like many vegetables and 2) would make that joke with me.

It was a jerk move for that guy to bail on the date last minute and we all know that girl didn’t have the flu. Maybe they canceled because they were nervous about what you’d think of them. Maybe they canceled because they thought they had someone better than you lined up. I changed the channel on Guy Fieri the first time. It was something I needed to do – for me. But the fact is, I went back to make it work and they might try to do the same for you. So give that person that bailed on you a second shot if they come back around!

But don’t give them a third.

I sound more contradictory than sugar-free sweet tea, but let me put it this way: Have you ever been really into a lavish and overpriced dish that Ina Garten is making for Jeffrey? You honestly are interested in this meal. You’re trying as hard as you can to even consider a dinner where you might make this dish. You want to relate so bad. You got distracted by an ad early on and then a few commercial breaks later you open the channel guide and completely forget about that truffle garlic lamb in the oven. Steve Harvey has on Genuwine and he’s about to perform Pony for a live studio audience. No way you miss this. Ina will be on tomorrow and things will be just as usual. Except they won’t be. One day we’re gonna look for that Barefoot Contessa and she’ll have left us mid-season for a wine tasting show in Spain.

We’re not talking about a wondering eye. We’re talking about a blatant decision to change the channel. Yes, you could stick around. Yes, you are invested in over half the episode. Yes, the big reveal was only moments away. But you don’t feel bad about the fact you changed the channel or that you lost interest in Ina. You are going to finish that Genuwine performance and think, ‘wow, that was great.’ or, ‘I really wish I stayed to see what she cooked up for dessert’. We have to be okay with changing the channel when it’s no longer interesting. But more importantly, we have to be okay with having the channel changed on us.

Ina was happily in attendance after the first commercial. But she didn’t let the second and third commercial get her down. I’ll tell you how that episode ended. Ina knew from the very beginning where she wanted to end up. Ina pulled that lamb out of the oven. She plated that beautiful piece of meat and sided it with fresh green beans and walked it outside to the garden. She knew there was someone out there for her. It was Jeffrey. Jeffrey was patiently waiting with a glass of Spanish wine and she didn’t miss us at all.

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In 2018, we should strive to be more like Ina. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Micklethwait Craft Meats BBQ : Passport destination #3 of 50

Micklethwait is an unconventional Texas BBQ joint on the outside but they’re serving up real deal TX BBQ on the inside!

“Real bbq people know what Texas bbq means”- Mark (Senior)

For the folks at home, Micklethwait’s is a food truck that has a large smoke pit next door. It’s around the corner from the ever-popular Franklin’s in Austin, TX. The wonderfully unique aspect to this spot is that they never have a long line so if you need a quick fix in Austin, swing by this place.

Another unique characteristic is that they have free beer from local breweries in Texas. Jacob definitely took advantage of this and had a local IPA from Austin Beerworks.

So let’s get down to what we got:

2 meat plate with Brisket, Pork Ribs, Cheddar Grits and Beans. The plate was under $16 and was enough for two people eating a light lunch. We try to stay consistent with our orders at every spot so that we can judge them all on the same playing field. Brisket is a must at every decent TX BBQ joint and pork ribs are one of our personal favorites.

The brisket was good but the pork ribs were phenomenal. The brisket was juicy and flavorful but didn’t rank high amongst the other top 50 places we’ve been to.

However, the ribs were definitely their specialty and blew us away. They were the definition of fall-off-the-bone. These ribs were un-real, dynamite, top notch sexy ass ribs. These ribs had more sex appeal than Stormy Daniels.

What was definitely out of left field though were the cheese grits. The grits were rich, creamy and steamy, everything you want in a helping of grits. The beans were run-of-the-mill, but still flavorful. They did their job, no doubt.

Overall, this place is a must try if you’re in ATX. It’s a quick stop and definitely worth it if you’re short on time.

We give this joint a 4/5!

It’s Not a Resolution, It’s a Reality Check (Introducing our guest writer)

The Kramers had nothing to say about 2017 ending nor wanted to share a post dedicated to 2018 BUT lucky for us our shared mutual friend (once groomsman) Eddie or E-Money came forward with writing this post for us. So as once quoted “tie yourself down to whatever chair you’re sitting in, because this email post is going to be a rough ride.”

Team,

Great job ending Q4 and 2017. We had some ups and downs, but I’m proud of where we are now and look forward to a bullish Q1. That being said, I’m back in the Midwest from a three-week debaucherous holiday vacation (see: stories of well vodka and vape pulls). The first weekend in ’18 finds me cold, further in credit debt, and with hat hair. Despite these pitfalls, I write to you beside my couchmate, Natty Light, so things are looking up.

2017 welcomed me to quite a few cities, and I noticed a concerning pattern amongst persons under 30 while they day drank: Cringe-Worthy Song Selections. Much how I do not believe in new year resolutions, I do not believe certain songs should be played before, say, 10 pm. These songs include Bohemian Rhapsody, Friends in Low Places, What’s My Age Again, Pony, Ice Ice Baby, and Wasn’t Me. These songs were chart toppers during their time for a reason – they go. But give them the respect they deserve and don’t play them out. In my travels, I haven’t found a specific city that commits this offense more than another, but no matter the region each song attracts a particular type of person.

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The guy who queues Bohemian Rhapsody midday will inevitably blackout far too early and fire off Friends in Low Places in the Uber. Congratulations, we still don’t know what (who?) a Scaramouche is, and you just lowered your buddy’s Uber rating because he didn’t have the “secret 3rd verse only found on the Garth Live album.”

What’s My Age Again

Excuse me, ma’am; we get it. Your dirty Chuck Taylors and vast knowledge of Blink 182 music clearly place you in the boy’s group, and we love having you around, but you’re not dating anyone here for a reason. It’s 7 pm, play something that matches our wardrobe. We’re pregaming with Bauer, and you’re making him nervous.

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Pony

If the sun is out, leave Pony in the stable. Even today, a well-timed Ginuwine beat-drop is a valuable tool that can be used by guy or girl. You wouldn’t sell Boardwalk and Park Place early in the game, so time it right and let it ride.

Wasn’t Me and Ice Ice Baby are my only exception to this list, and they take high exception.

Ice Ice Baby is invaluable to the right sized group. Let’s say it’s 4 pm, you just came back from the pool, half the girls are asleep, and the other half are getting ready for tonight. You and the boys are on the patio ripping heaters, and the group turns to ol’ Kevo because he killed it at the Halloween party junior year. You open Spotify and hit… “Yo, VIP, let’s kick it!!” Ah, that crazy white guy still stunts. We all recorded that, Kevo.Shaggy could very well be at the party and should still not sing Wasn’t Me before 10 pm. Wasn’t Me is reserved for one type of person. When the snow is thicc, and the streets are iced up like a pop tart, no one wants to go out. However, the group has to do something. This is where Chloe comes in.

Here we go

Chloe is the mom of the group, and though she gets frustrated for the party always being at her place, she doesn’t want to see it lack luster just because of cold weather. Chloe’s ace in the pocket is Wasn’t Me, and she never fails to glow up. Save these songs for wedding receptions, delirious 7-hour road trips, and for when your uncle wants to show off his new Bluetooth speaker that ‘doesn’t need wires.’ Betray these social morays and expect to see fewer people the next time you want to host.

If I may suggest a few harmonies for easy listening that are just as powerful in the background as they are on the mainstage. ( listen up, take my advice)

  1. Michael Jackson – Will You be There. (The intro is so long the party will think your phone disconnected, but don’t mind them. Power stance and finger to the sky.)
  2. Brooks and Dunn – Brand New Man. I saw the light, I’ve been baptized.
  3. Hall and Oats – Rich Girl. (So help me…if you overplay this song I will find you and harm you.) *”Jacob Kramer needs to be harmed for overplaying this song”- Ekramer
  4. Nelly – Country Grammar. Play to your audience for the explicit version, but we all know the words.
  5. Tag Team – Whoop! (Wait for the D2 reference, you gotta earn every inch.)
  6. Bruno Mars – 24K Magic. (This song still has lyfe OR is that debatable?)
  7. Deana Carter – Strawberry Wine. Learn to slow down, she’ll appreciate it.
  8. Looking Glass – Brandy. Those who know, know.
  9. Chicago – Saturday in the Park. Equally pleasant to the guy napping and the couple having a moment
  10. Huey Lewis and the News – Power of Love. Hit the music, Micah. S/o Touch Nation.

For those who enjoyed this read, please drop Bauer a line and request Uncle E-Money be featured more often. Please comment on a topic you would like me to provide a wholly cynical and in no way qualified to take on.

Follow E-money on spotify (emoralezjr )

Valentina’s BBQ : Passport destination #2 of 50

During the holiday break, the Kramer family was able to make a quick stop into Austin before getting into San Antonio to spend Christmas with the family. We took advantage of our time in Austin with eating as much BBQ as we could intake. Valentina’s was among the stops.

We came to Valentina’s for dinner. So, unfortunately, the whole menu wasn’t available.

What we ordered

Appetizer – Queso ($3.50)

Eleni – Taco : Cerveza Beef Fajita ( $6.00) & Bottled soda ($2.00)

Jacob – Chopped Biscuit Sandwich. ( $8.50) & Topo Chico ($2.00)

Although in pictures it looks like Valentina’s has an indoor seating area it doesn’t. Its a food truck with fancy covered seating. So it is dog-friendly.

The first thing we got was the delicious queso. I might be over exaggerating the impressiveness of said queso because we live in OKC and there’s a void of even decent queso, but it was at least good queso.

Jacob’s meal highlights

I got the Chopped Biscuit Sandwich. This sandwich was tasty! The brisket was juicy, had excellent bark and was extremely flavorful.

The bun was toasted, light and flaky. I poured some of the queso on top of the brisket sandwich and it made it even better.

Overall, this place was decent but I wouldn’t go out of my way to return.

Heim is still my top dog.

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Eleni’s meal highlights

I got the Cerveza Beef taco. Have to say, extremely underwhelmed and unimpressed considering we spent $6 for essentially what was a single street taco

The taco dripped way too much juicy and made an awkward decision of not putting it down on my plate for fear the tortilla would rip of sogginess.

I have to side with the husband and say Heim is still my favorite. I don’t think I’ll ever have an itch to go back to Valentina’s. We give this place a solid 3.

What is a Greek Orthodox Wedding?

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I’m sure the burning question is there ( because we always get asked) Yes, Jacob converted and is Greek Orthodox. Below is a picture of him after he was baptized. No, he did not get baptized in a kiddie pool like in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

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So now that that’s out of the way. We are going to share our ceremony pictures! We had a Greek Orthodox wedding at Saint Basil the Great in Houston. We both mutually agree that our favorite part of our WHOLE wedding was the ceremony. Maybe the service was so exceptional because we understood and spent time studying what each process meant. Nonetheless it was perfect.

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The sacrament of marriage in the Eastern Orthodox Church joins two believers into one. Sacrament of Marriage consists of.

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  • The Exchange of Rings
  • The lighting of the Candles
  • The Crowning
  • The Readings from the Bible
  • The Drinking of the Common Cup
  • The Ceremonial Walk
  • Lastly, the Proclamation of Husband & Wife.

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The Rings! 

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The rings are first blessed by the priest and then exchanged between bride & groom. The rings are blessed by the priest, who touches the foreheads of the Bride and Groom three times with them. He does this three times in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, first from the groom to the bride, and then from the bride to the groom. The back and forth movement can be interpreted to mean that the lives of the two are being entwined into one

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The priest then places the rings on the ring fingers of the right hands of the two. It is noteworthy that the right hands are used in the putting on of the rings, since according to all Biblical knowledge we have, it is the right hand of God that blesses; it was to the right hand of the Father that Christ ascended; it is to the right that those who will inherit eternal life will go.The rings are then exchanged three times on the fingers of the bride and groom by the Best Man BUT in our case since our Best Man isnt Greek Orthodox our Maid of Honor( Koumbara) did it. This exchange further expression and witness that the lives of the two are being brought together. The exchange signifies that in married life, the weakness of one partner will be compensated by the strength of the other. Apart, the newly betrothed are incomplete, but together they are made perfect.

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What are wedding candles are how are they used?

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The bride and groom each hold a lighted candle during the service. The candles remind the couple of the light of Christ who is with them throughout the sacrament and their coming life together.

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The wedding candles are usually tapered, white and 18″ – 24″ in height. They are lit by the priest during the service and handed to the couple to hold for part of the service. Our candles were beautifully decorated by my sister with mini olive tree branches. They looked SOOOOO GREEK!

What are stefana (Stéfana)? The Crowning of the Bride and Groom. 

The Crowning is the highlight and focal point of the Sacrament of Holy matrimony. The priest then takes two wedding crowns, or Stefana, and blesses the bride and groom in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and then places the crowns upon their heads

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Stefana are used for The Crowning of the couple. The wedding crowns (Stéfana) are the signs of glory and honor with which God crowns the Bride and Groom during the sacrament. The Bride and Groom are crowned as king and queen of their home, which they will rule with wisdom, justice, and integrity. They represent the couple’s giving of one life totally to the other and through the other to Christ. At the end of the wedding service, the crowns are removed from the couple and the priest prays that God will receive these crowns into His Kingdom. We have ours hanging in our bedroom now in a beautiful box made from Greece ( Thanks Tsounakas Family!)

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After the priest places the Stéfana on the heads of the Bride and Groom, the Koumbara exchanges the crowns three times as witness to the sealing of the union. The crown swapping begins with the koumbaro/a behind the bride and groom – and the koumbaro/a places the crowns three times on the head before the procession around the altar. The bride is at left, the groom at right.
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PLACEMENT #1: The koumbara holds the crowns in his or her hand and crosses his hands, RIGHT hand over the left , and then places the crowns on the heads of the bride and groom.

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Father trying to convince me to do the Our Father prayer in all three languages. We settled on me just doing it in Spanish and he would do it in Greek 🙂

PLACEMENT #2: The koumbara lifts the crowns off the head and then switches the crowns in her hand by uncrossing herhands, RIGHT hand back over the left and then around under the left hand. The arms end up crossed and the same crown goes back onto the brides head, and the same crown back onto the groom’s head.
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PLACEMENT #3: For the third switch, the koumbaro will move his right hand back under the right and then around over again the left hand.
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The order is specific and symbolic – the right hand leads over the left on the first switch/placement – just as the right hand leads with all religious ceremonies. Generally the crowns are interchangeable or identical. If the crowns are specific for the bride and groom, then the groom’s crown starts on the bride and the bride’s crown starts on the groom. That way after the exchange, they are resting groom’s crown on the groom’s head and bride’s crown on the bride’s head. They wear the crowns this way for the remainder of the ceremony and as they circle the altar.
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  • The Readings from the Bible

The reading is done after the Crowning. The designated reading from the scriptures is from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians where Paul talks of love and respect.

  • The Drinking of the Common Cup

The Orthodox Wedding tradition ceremony has a ritual of the drinking of the common cup. On the altar table is a wine decanter with wine and a common cup. After the priest reads Bible passages, the priest pours the wine into the single cup and the bride and groom take three sips of wine from the shared cup.

The ritual of the common cup is based on the wedding of Cana of Galilee, where Jesus turned water into wine. Just as wine was drunk at the wedding in Cana, the Bride and Groom share a common cup of unconsecrated wine, symbolizing the sharing of all that life will bring. The cup represents life and symbolizes they will share everything. Their sorrows will be divided in half and their joy will be doubled.

Here is a picture of us drinking from the common cup:

  • The Ceremonial Walk

The priest lead us, hands joined, in a circle around the holy table as we took our first steps as husband and wife. (Disclaimer – Jacob and I were legally married a year before our orthodox wedding, but this just felt like we officially became Husband and Wife!)

The circling around the table signifies the promise of the husband and wife to preserve their marriage bond until death parts them. The ceremony is concluded with the priest invoking God’s blessings and removing the crowns.

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  • Lastly, the Proclamation of Husband & Wife.

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OMG you made it to the end! Give yourself a long pat on the back!!

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Charcuterie board

Building the Perfect Cheese Plate

We unintentionally put this cheese board together one Saturday afternoon. The day started with us exploring Oklahoma City’s Farmer’s markets. Before we knew it, we had a good amount of fancy cheese on our hands, so we thought we’d throw our first Charcuterie board together for lunch. This idea looked and sounded much simpler in our heads.

Along the way, we discovered there are so many ways to make a cheese board and my oh my are they fancy.

Apparently, there are cheese rules. (Which we didn’t follow but here they are for your viewing)

1. Follow the “Rule of Odd Numbers.” Plan on three kinds of cheese for a small tray, five for a medium plate and seven for a large platter. Just like in landscaping, odd numbers of cheeses make for the best visual presentation.

2. Include a variety of flavors and textures. Include a hard, aged cheese (like an aged Gouda or an aged cheddar); an alpine cheese (like Alpha Tolman) a gooey, indulgent cheese (like Rosie’s Robiola or Jasper Hills Moses Sleeper), a soft, creamy cheese (like Delice de Borgogne or Mt. Tam) and a blue (like West West Blue or Great Hills Blue).

3. Mix your kinds of milk. Another way to create a mixed cheese plate is by using cheese made from different types of milk: Sheep, goat and cow milk cheeses will offer a range of flavors.

4. Themes??? Yeah, we missed this memo.

Should I add meat? Our response is always going to be YES.

We suggest adding cured meats. Here too you want some variety. Our go-to choices are prosciutto and salami.

Drinks and more drinks

Here we are in unfamiliar territory. Neither of us is huge on wine, so we had to wine it. We had a red wine at home we used, but we read you can even pair your platter with cocktail drinks or beer.

If you have tips or tricks for us to use on our next Charcuterie board, please share them!

Reasons to read the Game of Thrones books

Reasons to read the Game of Thrones books

Chances are if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you became a fan by watching the heralded Emmy-winning show on HBO. The show has been incredible and drawn a large, diverse audience from all over the globe. People everywhere sign up for HBO Go for ten weeks at a time so that they can watch it. Well, given recent news, the show will not be returning to our boob tubes until 2019. That’s a long drought of not engrossing ourselves in the vibrant world that GRRM created. If you’re like me, then you probably agree that waiting another year and a half is far too long to return to Westeros. Luckily, there’s an alternative to consuming the show through the tv.

I decided to read the books after listening to the GoT Podcast Oysters, Clams & Cockles and jumping on board with the Night’s ReWatch which is the only podcast doing a rewatch from start to finish every Sunday until the new season airs. The ReWatch is currently in the middle of the second season, but you can quickly catch up by doubling or tripling up on episodes on Sundays. I began the rewatch soon after season 7 ended and thoroughly enjoyed the idea going back through the series, especially since I had only seen most of the episodes once several years ago. However, after two episodes, I decided I would instead read the series and keep up with the podcast as it went. I would read several chapters then rewatch the episode that it pertained to and finally I’d listen to the podcast. The books are so enthralling I ended up passing the podcast. In fact, I got so into the books that I passed the podcast by two seasons. The books are indeed works of art.

It was very interesting to experience this story from a different medium of consumption other than the show. Reading through A Game of Thrones, I realized how much Benioff and Weiss, the producers of the show, relied on the writings of George R.R. Martin. The first few episodes were a copy and paste of the text. The encounters between the characters were a word for word verbatim from the books; the detail was all from the text down to the color of characters eyes. The show mirrors the books only in of A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, the first two installments in the series. From there, the differences begin. They are mild at first, mainly just including minor characters who would not have had a major impact on the show, but they slowly evolve into significant story arcs that are all but left out of the show.

Enough of my babbling, here’s the quick hits for reading the books:

  1. The books were how Martin meant for the story to be told and it is the best method of consumption.
    1. George has said it himself, the show is great, but his story is entirely held to the books alone. He’s involved heavily with the show, but he intended for people to read the story, not watch it.
  2. The books don’t have the limitations that the show does.
    1. Martin’s imagination was able to run wild with the books at no extra cost to himself or the publisher. However, the same does not apply to the show because every actor, writer, and support add more expenses to the already expensive show. GRRM can write about 700 ft Ice Walls and people climbing it, yet the show will have to use CGI to produce the wall, use stuntmen/women to scale it, as well as pay the actors to act out the scene.
  3. The characters emotions, thoughts, and desires are explicitly stated in the books. The show requires the actors to portray all of these in the manner in which they see fit.
    1. Regardless of how talented the actors on the show are, it is possible that their interpretations of how the characters should act differently from how you think they should. The books alleviate this potential discrepancy.
  4. The food that GRRM describes is enough to entice any foodie to read the books.
    1. George annihilates the food descriptions. He delves into great detail when it comes to food, to the reader’s benefit.
  5. This will pass the time until the new season comes out and like the hosts of Oysters, Clams and Cockles say, a ReWatch is the best way to prepare yourself for the final season, so why not read the books to prepare as well!