Category Archives: Family

Veggie-mooning: Our Family History

So we spent some weeks meandering through the every-day experiences of our families. Waking in the homes of our sibling, parents, and friends. Sharing, playing, and snuggling.
Eating and laughing with them and catching up on all of the happenings we’ve missed while we were away.
Helping out with projects.
Celebrating momentous occasions (Happy 30th Veggie Sister Kale!).

Witnessing the first day of school.

And, in so many other ways, reconnecting with our families’ living histories.

We sat with my grandfather at his house on the shore of Lake Winnepesauke and he showed us albums of photos detailing his life, my heritage. He showed me the first date that he ever went on with my grandmother, a woman who passed away before I was even born. He showed us the displaced person’s camp where they lived in Germany, after fleeing Latvia during World War II. He showed us the General S.S. Sturgis, the ship that they sailed to America on.


Being newly married, with a new last name, I began to think of about our history. The Veggie family history, that will weave together all of the strands of these incredible people and places. And suddenly I felt very underprepared.

Did I have proper documentation of early Veggie Family history? One day will my granddaughter be sitting by my side asking me about our first date? Sorry kid, we were all far too inebriated at the end-of-year faculty party that year to take any pictures. Luckily the final stop on our tour of New England was the very place where Veggie love blossomed many moons ago.

So here you are, Veggie grandkids. A glimpse into the start our family history.

Here’s the 200 yr. old, off the grid, farmhouse that Granddad Veggie restored and was living in when we first started dating. He stole my heart when he brought me here and cooked me a stir-fry of veggies that he grew himself.

Here’s the dormitory that Grandmom Veggie lived in, and around the back is the creaky and dangerous fire escape that Granddad Veggie used to secretly climb up to visit her.And here is Grandmom Veggie, dressed in her Salvation Army finest, the night that she wooed Granddad Veggie and stole his heart.
What stories will be part of your new family history?

Veggie-Mooning: A Little Slice of Americana


So there we were: me, my new husband, a few cases of wine and beer, and a pick up truck. We were free to go and do as we chose, no obligations, no reservations, spontaneously deciding each evening where we would lay our heads.

Well, that’s about half true. There was, in fact, quite a bit of spontaneity in our travels. And we did, in fact, not make many plans on where we would sleep. We did, however have a lot of people to visit in a very short time who were inconveniently spread over 7 states. So we had a tight schedule to stick to as we wandered through the most perfect time of year in the northeast.

There really is nothing better than New England in the late summer. If you haven’t had the pleasure, let me fill you in on this little piece of heaven.


The beauty of New Zealand, our new home, is astounding. The vast rolling hills, expanses of wild coastlines, and the greatness of the fiordlands are overwhelming. When you drive through NZ you can practically feel the landscapes shouting at you. “Look at me! I am beautiful”.

But the humble beauty of New England does not shout.

It is hidden in crumbling rock walls and tree-covered hills. It is hidden in weathered barns and covered bridges. It is the beauty of a well-made chair crafted the 1800’s and the man who sits in it, his familial connection to this place stretching back even longer. For me this simple, subtle beauty is comforting.

But it is also bittersweet; a reminder that for everything gained, something is lost.

Veggie-mooning: Our Stay-cation

Well hello there hive. Exactly one month into married life and I just stepped foot on terra firma after a 49-hour journey home to beautiful Aotearoa (more on that later). Perhaps I owe you an apology for my prolonged absence. But you didn’t really expect me back too soon did you? We had a lot of newly-wedded bliss to absorb. And absorb it we did, in nearly every state north of Virginnie. I’m not quite ready to share wedding recaps yet, but I did miss you. So, I hope in the mean time you wont mind if I share a bit about what we’ve been calling our stay-cation-moon.

Mr. Veggie and I had given very little thought to how we might spend the weeks following our wedding. Planning for the wedding itself was so all-consuming for me that I really couldn’t think beyond eight.twenty-one.ten. And Mr. Veggie? Well I think the thought of being married was so alien to him, that he really couldn’t even ponder planning something that would happen once we were on “the other side”. So we didn’t plan.

Lavish vacations to exotic locales aren’t exactly our style and PhD research, a new house, and spring veggie planting were calling us back to NZ. With our return flight scheduled for Sept. 17th, about 4 weeks after the wedding, the only option we had even remotely considered was going to Nicaragua for two weeks while we were still in the western hemisphere.

Do any of you have a place that just grabs your heart, and even though you have no particular cultural-familial tie there, it just speaks to you? Nicaragua is my heart place.

It pains me that since we moved to New Zealand, over 2 ½ years ago, I haven’t been able to make it there. We have both done quite a bit of work there over the past 9 years, and it is where our non-profit (and us) will be located eventually. A post-wedding trip there would be more of a volunteer/ visiting friends/ networking trip than honey moon.

But alas, once we were both in the States, and realized how precious our time was with our friends and family, a Nicaragua trip just seemed excessive. “Hi family, hi friends, yeah we know we haven’t see you in a year or two, and we know we’re only here for a few weeks, but you wouldn’t mind if we ducked out to Central America for a week or two, would you?”.

Of course they wouldn’t mind. Because that’s how awesome they all are. And it is precisely that awesomeness, the sheer overwhelming awesomeness of our friends and family, that led us to decide that the best way to spend our free time was with them. And thus our stay-cation was born.

A borrowed pick up truck, some camping gear, and the left over cases of wine from our wedding and we were off.

You might think that 4 weeks is a lot of time to spend bummin’ around the northeast at the end of summer. Let me tell you something, my friend. It is not. Fastest four weeks ever.

Shower for a Dirty Hippie

I feel so special and loved and supported and excited and happy. This weekend I was showered.

Every bride needs a wedding bell and candle, right? Thanks Great Aunt Veggie.
**All photos in this post my my amazing FSIL, Jen, from Jen Lebo Photography.

My bridesmaids (Veggie Sisters Kale, Eggplant, Carrot), Momma Veggie, and little brother Bridesman Veggie threw me a fantastic bridal shower at the Veggie parents house in New Jersey. We missed Veggie Sister Tomato, who couldn’t take time off of med school in Arizona to join us, but I got to see so many wonderful women that have been a part of my life throughout the years. Friends from elementary school, grad school, and even one from NZ managed to find their way to the party. And the Veggie ladies did not disappoint. They cooked the most amazing most drool worthy food. They are clearly not doing their part to make sure I fit in my wedding dress in a few weeks. Veggie sisters, we have about 1/16 of an inch in wiggle room in that dress. If it doesn’t fit, I blame the stratta from the shower.
Momma Veggie’s cupcakes, which will also make an appearance at the wedding got rave reviews:
Unbeknownst to me (well, actually pretty knownst), the Veggie sisters interviewed Mr. Veggie via Skype and recorded it so we could play a “how well do you know your groom?” game. Veggie sister Kale read the questions and I tried my best to give answers that wouldn’t embarrass either of us too badly. I was doing well until they asked about our first kiss, which may or may not have been in the middle of a crowded party in a bit of a drunken stupor. Sorry mom! Veggie sister Eggplant played back Mr. Veggie’s responses to the joy of the crowd. They particularly enjoyed this response by Mr. Veg.
Veggie sister Kale: What is the first thing that Miss Veggie will want to do after the wedding?
Mr. Veggie: Blog about it.
You know it!

Then we played a game that was really all about embarrassing me… it was kind of a roast where guests wrote down their favorite Miss Veggie moment. Then they were read out loud and I had to guess who wrote them. I’m just thankful that my friends used good judgement and censored a bit.After games it was time to get serious. There was a pile of treasure waiting with my name on it. I was a little nervous about this part of the party with some registration hesitations still lingering. All week I was practicing my “Gee thanks, this is so thoughtful of you, even though it weighs 50 pounds, is breakable and bulky, doesn’t work with NZ electrical outlets, and is a totally ridiculous item that we would never buy ourselves”-face. But I should have had more faith in our family and friends. They totally get us.Veggie Sister Carrot diligently recorded names and gifts while I tore through handmade wrapping paper of one kind and another. Our guests were so thoughtful in their choices of wrapping, keeping in mind our desire for a low footprint wedding. We got gifts wrapped in magazine pages, new dishtowels, and recycled fabric. Most of the gifts really fell in-line with our lifestyle too, being light, nonbreakable, and recycled or eco in some way. And the best part was that we got a lot of donations for our non-profit and really generous contributions to a “travel home to visit” fund. I know I sound ridiculous and snobby right now, and should be thankful for any gifts that we received, and I totally am, but it really just felt nice that people understood us so well to pick gifts that worked for us. I did get three bars of nice soap. Is that a hint? Because I really tried to clean up nice and leave my dirty hippie-ness out on the porch for a day.

So, thanks Veggie Fam. You rock.

Momma Veggie, Veggie Sister Kale, Me, Veggie Sister Eggplant, and Veggie Sister Carrot.
**All photos in this post my my amazing FSIL, Jen, from Jen Lebo Photography.

Did anyone have any embarrassing moments at their bridal shower? Anyone else have any gift-induced nervousness? Did it turn out for the beter or for the worse?

Team Spirit

Our camp wedding is going to involve lots of fun and games and a fair bit of friendly family competition. While my side might have the advantage in sheer numbers, Mr. Veggie’s side has quite a few good athletes, so its looking to be a good match up. We have several events planned for the weekend. The morning of our rehearsal dinner the camp is going to set up a multi-event relay for our immediate families and bridal party involving silly stunts and heroic athletic feats. At the rehearsal dinner itself we are having a chili cook-off and microbrew competition. A few rounds of flip cup and frisbeer might also find their way into the evening. But the main event (besides our wedding) will be the bride v. groom softball game, to take place at 10am the morning of the wedding. Yes people will have to choose sides. For some it will be an easy choice. For others, it will be heartwrenching.

Question: How will we know what side they chose? How will I know who to heckle (and possibly sabotage) and who to cheer on?
Answer: Team uniforms.

As soon as I mentioned the idea to the Veggie Sisters and Momma Veggie they were 100% on board. Aren’t they great? They suggested some websites where we could have shirts made. But, you know me. Ordering new shirts just isn’t my style. We are going for eco and thrifty after all. So I came up with a plan to make them. Luckily Momma Veggie was still on board (did I mention how great she is?).

One trip to Salvation Army and Michael’s later and we had everything we needed to make the uniforms. We went with pink for Team Bride and blue for Team Groom. I know, I know, so cliché. I don’t even like pink. But obvious is good sometimes.

All of the shirts were blank except for this one, which is especially for Veggie Bro bridesman. It has ruffles. And says “Sweetie Pie”. Sweet. We only bought shirts that were half off so we spent about $1.50 per shirt and bought a total of 22 shirts. At Michael’s we picked up some white and black paint and sponge brushes. We couldn’t find the exact stencils we wanted, so in a moment of crafting naievety we decided we could just make them ourselves back at home.

Note to all budget savvy brides: Buy. The. Stencils. Printing and cutting them out is do-able, but it takes for-ev-er. This is me exact-o-knifing my little heart out. I think I have early onset arthritis because of this project.

And here’s Momma Veggie doing some touch ups after spreading, stenciling, and sponging. And what was the rest of the Veggie family doing while we were working so hard in our maquilladora? Sitting on their tooshies. Watching t.v. to be exact. Watching America’s got talent to be more exact. (I know I’m embarrassed for them).

But after some prodding Veggie Sister Eggplant and Stepdad Veggie pulled through in a major way. They went out and brought back some red cows from the gelato store up the street. Sweet!

And here is a small sample of the finished product. Veggie Guests, you better be ready to bring it!

Since You Asked

When I first wrote about our decision to do e-vites and then posted the final product many of you asked what we would do for relatives that didn’t have email. It’s not super glamorous, but I thought I’d take a minute to show you the seven snail mail invitations that went out.


Yep, that’s right. Seven. Out of 200 invited guests. Turns out our families are all pretty email savvy. The five paper invites I absolutely needed to send out went to my paternal grandparents, a great aunt on my mom’s side, my maternal great grandmother, long-time family friends of Mr. Veggie, and my dad (he has email, but doesn’t really have a good handle on the internet yet). Then once I got going I thought that Mr. Veggie’s parents and my mom and stepdad would probably like to have a paper invite too, so I made each of them a set to keep.

A warning: we spent lots of time and energy on our e-vites so, I have to admit that I didn’t have much remaining enthusiasm for the paper invitations. These are definitely low-quality, low effort paper invites (but grandmas and grandpas wont care, right?). And really, in the end I think they turned out kind of pretty, considering I didn’t actually buy any supplies and just used what was laying around Veggie Sister Kale’s house (my U.S. home for the summer).

Here’s a step by step tutorial on how I made these fabulous-impromptu-home made paper invites:

Step 1: Print out e-vite onto cardstock.
Step 2: Try to use Veggie Sister Kale’s rotary cutter.
Step 3: Fail at rotary cutting.
Step 4: Allow Veggie Sister Kale to take over rotary cutting and watch her complete the task about 100 times faster and better than I could.

Veggie Sister Kale workin’ the rotary cutter in her PJ’s. Aww yeah.

Step 5: Ponder why the craft gene seems to be absent from my DNA.
Step 6: Print out engagement photos to add in the envelope. Grammies do love photos. Cardstock + home printer= bad quality pictures. Grammies wont mind, right?
Step 7: Dig through Veggie Sister Kale’s craft room to find envelopes. Hmm… red or green?
Step 8: Green.

Step 9: Tie with grosgrain and stuff into green envelopes. Lick and Seal.
Step 10: Call Veggie Mamma for addresses.
Step 11: Realize it would have been much easier to address the envelopes before they were stuffed.
Step 12: Have your hopes dashed when you find an empty packet of beautiful king and queen stamps in the junk drawer, and hope no one notices the Christmas stamps you are forced to use by your strong desire not to have to bring a two and three year old to the post office.

A Thought: When I am married will I finally be grown up enough to have things like a craft room and a complete list of family addresses?
Probably not.

So there’s the quick and dirty low down on the paper invites. We also assigned an internet savvy friend or relative to set up a lunch date with each of the paper invite recipients to show them the e-vite, video, and website. This way they wont miss out on the full experience and will get to have a lunch date with someone fun. I think this will all work out really well. Worst comes to worst, I can always give them a call to make sure that they received their snail mail.

By the way, apologies for not posting more for the past two weeks. I arrived in the U.S. one week ago today and have been quite busy making cupcakes, singing songs, tickling, and giving raspberries to bellies. Life is good.