Our Wedding

Tomorrow is our third anniversary! Although it’s been three years, I don’t think I have shared much about our wedding here on our blog. I thought our anniversary was the perfect time to do so.

Four days before our wedding Sam came home from Romania! He left to go to Romania nine days after we got engaged. We were apart for our entire engagement, minus two weeks in the middle around Christmas. We were apart so I could finish my sophomore year of college and graduate with my AA while he began work in Romania, with the plans that I would move over with him after we got married.

So, he came back four days before the wedding! It was such an exciting day. I remember we kept saying, “we don’t have to be apart any more!”

Sam and I met on the cross country team at Florida College and we were both pretty big runners (well, Sam still is now), so we thought it would be a great idea to run a 5k the morning of our wedding.

It was actually Daddy’s idea, and Sam and I quickly jumped on board. Everyone else thought we were pretty crazy, and we were definitely pushed for time, but it was such a fun memory.

We ran together the whole time (and two of our groomsmen ran the first mile with us before taking off), and Sam let me finish a second before him.

Everyone thought we were so crazy, even the local news interviewed us! After we finished and spoke to the reporter, Sam drove me back to the hotel where the wedding party was staying and I showered and got ready in some of my bridesmaids’ room.

We broke the “rules” about not seeing each other before the wedding, but I was completely fine with it! We decided that we had already been apart enough and it was special enough to see each other any time. After the race though, we did not see each other until we were both dressed and had a first look. Sam had not seen my dress yet and it was still special.

My amazing grandmother helped me make my wedding dress in just a few days when I was home from college on winter break! It had lace from my Mama’s wedding dress around the hem, waist, sleeves, and around my veil. It turned out absolutely perfect to me, thanks to the expertise and help from Mims.

I loved our wedding party! We had all of our siblings and closest friends stand by us as we made our commitment to each other. These are still some of the dearest people to us.

Both of our families played such huge roles in our relationship and our wedding. Mama and her two best friends basically planned the entire wedding. I was in school the whole time we were planning and they were absolutely amazing. I made some decisions, but they made everything so easy for me. And the day turned out so perfectly!

Sam’s family also played a big role in everything and we are so thankful for them. Sam’s parents were in Romania with him, but they still did so much. His dad studied with us during our engagement over FaceTime, and he officiated the wedding.

Also, we share an anniversary with Sam’s parents! When we were first discussing dates we didn’t realize it was their anniversary, but they were excited and generous with sharing their day. Now getting to celebrate with them is wonderful and special. I only wish we could be with them this year!

Married at last! I remember the days when it seemed like this moment would never come. Now that it’s been three years I still can’t believe it when I stop and think about it.

We saved our first kiss for our wedding day and it was perfect.

I love thinking about this day, how exciting and joyful and beautiful everything was. But I love even more the life we have now, and the three years of growth we’ve had. I love the experiences we’ve had that have tried our patience and our faith, but have brought us close to God and close to each other. I love the family we are growing.

I can’t wait for many, many more years.

Homemade Bread

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” – James Beard

Is there anything better than a fresh, warm slice of homemade bread?

My interest in baking homemade bread began when I was about twelve years old. I loved being in the kitchen, but for some reason bread baking had seemed like an unattainable skill only the most advanced bakers could achieve. However, in a lecture on nutrition at cross country camp, my coach briefly mentioned homemade bread and the health benefits therein.

As soon as I got home I pulled out cook books, asked Mama to buy yeast at the store, and began mixing and kneading all sorts of concoctions. Some loaves turned out flat and dense while others came out pungent and salty. I made lighter bread with white flour, heavy bricks with wheat flour, savory bread flavored with potato flakes and sweet bread swirled with cinnamon, sugar, and butter. I also boiled bagels, shaped rolls, and filled, rolled, and sliced cinnamon buns.

My family lovingly tested each batch of bread, advising me on which recipes to keep and which ones to discard.

Eventually I settled on a recipe from Sue Gregg’s cookbook that everyone in my family declared a winner. It used whole wheat flour, had good flavor, and wasn’t a dense brick. I made the recipe a few more times, and not much later, for Mama and Daddy’s twentieth wedding anniversary Daddy gave Mama a Bosch mixer and grain mill.

Mama took over the bread baking for a while, perfecting the recipe even further. Eventually she had a perfect bread dough that made the best, fluffy, delicious loaves for sandwiches and toast, a thin and crunchy pizza crust, or sweet cinnamon rolls or monkey bread. The dough could be shaped into hamburger buns or dinner rolls, folded into calzones or swirled with cinnamon and raisins for sweet bread.

Mama taught me how to make her magical dough one day for our Home Ec. lesson in homeschool, and I slowly took over the bread baking for our family. When I went to college, Mama said no one made any homemade bread until I did when I came home for my fall break.

I only baked bread in college once, and it was to give to the cute boy I was dating who had several papers to write and was getting very little sleep (later we got married and Sam still loves it when I make that same flatbread to go with lentil soup).

Once I discovered what the Romanian word for yeast was and found it at the market, I began baking bread again after we got married and moved to Romania. I loved kneading the dough on my tiny kitchen counter, usually while listening to an audio book. I would serve the warm bread, sliced, with butter alongside, to the guests we often had in our apartment.

When Mae was a baby, I was still in school online to complete my Bachelor’s degree, we were settling into a new house and new jobs for Sam, I did not bake bread. But I missed it. I remember at times when I was overwhelmed with books to read, papers to write, and assignments to submit, I would daydream about how wonderful it would be to be done with school.

I would just be a wife and mother, that’s all. I would take care of Sam and Mae, clean the house, and bake bread. Baking bread was always in my daydream for some reason, and I think about it now every time I pull a fresh loaf out of the oven.

I have countless memories tied up with baking bread, and right now I am thankful to be a wife and mother who gets to bake bread.

Delicious Bread Dough

This is the recipe Mama perfected that I still love to use for everything! I have tried many different recipes, but if I ever need a no-fail dough for something this is the recipe I go back to again and again.

2 cups warm water
213 cup honey
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 TBS yeast
1 TBS salt
2 Tbs. ground flax
8-10 cups or more of whole wheat flour (I prefer to grind the wheat in the NutriMill, but any flour will work)

Mix warm water, honey, applesauce, and 2 cups flour in a stand mixer on a low speed.  Add yeast and salt, and continue to mix.  Then set the timer for 10 minutes and add flour until the dough is not sticky and it pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Continue to let the dough mix until the 10 minutes is up.

Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, or about 1.5-2 hours.

Divide the dough in half and shape into loaves. Let rise in greased loaf pans in a warm place until doubled in size, or about an hour.

Bake the loaves of bread for at 350 F for 30 minutes.  

You can also use this dough to make pizza crusts, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, hamburger buns, or anything else you may need dough for. The possibilities are almost endless!