Archive | family photos RSS feed for this section
12 Jul

untitled-scanned-26.jpg

My grandfather died last week at the age of 91. I count among my greatest gifts my relationships with each of my grandparents. Grandpa Joe was the last living grandparent I had, and it’s difficult to imagine my life without him.

Most summers, my siblings and I would happily ship off to Grandma Ann and Papa Joe’s house, where we would spend the first leg of our summer vacation. I hold the memories of these trips so closely that their physicality remains with me–the sharpness of just-cut grass on my skin as I rolled down the front hill, the smooth pine of the wooden swingset he built for us by hand, and the cold sensation of rainbow sherbert against my teeth after church on a hot Saturday night.

untitled-scanned-24-e1499822803301.jpg

I have often said of my grandfather that they “just don’t make them like they used to.” He was a member of the first graduating class of King’s College, and would go on to work there for the next 70 years. He was a man who did the right thing without so much as a thought toward cutting corners for convenience or popularity. His contributions to the community where he spent his entire life are too many to count, but among them is a long history of service to his church, alma mater, and country.

Scan10060

His was an absolutely unconditional love of and loyalty to his wife, so much so that he often joked he would list the slides of he and my grandmother’s “trip of a lifetime” to Ireland among his assets in his will. In 51 years of marriage they never spent more than 3 consecutive nights apart; when my grandmother was helping to take care of a sick family member, he would drive 45 minutes to visit her through a screen window and then drive back home, as he had a cold and couldn’t risk passing it to my cousin. I once joked that my grandmother’s only downfall had been that she didn’t like beets. He looked at me over his glasses and said simply, “Your grandmother had no flaws.”  I knew that, in his eyes, she truly hadn’t.

Untitled-Scanned-139

Even as the world’s most upstanding citizen, he had a wry sense of humor and a wonderful capacity for sentimentality.  When I mailed him an absurd glamour shot of my brother and I snorkeling in Sharm El Sheikh, he emailed me in response, “Thanks for the great snapshot, Chrissy. That’ll make the wall.”  He loved all sports (except the NBA), often bragged that he had been diagnosed with a “football fetish,” and had one word for Philadelphia sports fans: “crude.” He loved sweets unabashedly, and was known to meet a dessert menu with a joyful “Oh, boy!” The first Christmas after my grandmother died, I gave him a box engraved with her name for his keepsakes, and he called me later to tell me that it was the best gift he had ever been given.

EK_0015DSC00675_edited_1There are a million stories I could tell– that he taught me how to bowl, listened to me read Charlotte’s Web in its entirety over the phone for my 2nd grade read-a-thon, and once brought my husband to “a little place with great chicken noodle soup” called Bob Evans. I have the lucky distinction of getting him to pose for his first selfie, taken during the visit we revived our root beer float tradition after a two-decade hiatus.IMG-20130908-WA0000And, hilariously, he was wearing the same shirt 4 years later when I introduced him to Facetime. He was less impressed by technology served without a side of ice cream.IMG_7972But his life spoke for itself — the longer I go on here, the more I realize I’ll never capture how extraordinary he was. A friend shared the idea that we only die when our work is done, and my grandfather left this world complete with i’s dotted, t’s crossed, and ledger balanced. I’ll think of him often– in small moments like when I see a beautiful cardinal or blue jay, and in large moments when I hear his voice in my head as my moral compass. It’s terribly sad to know I’ll never visit him on Cherry Lane again, but I take some solace in knowing that the lessons I learned from my grandparents in the past will serve me well into my future and that, one of these days, I’ll get to make memories with my own grandkids as happy as the ones I have with my grandparents.

If, like me, you just can’t get enough Grandpa Joe, you can read his obituary here.

 

 

 

Watermelon Prosecco Slushies

13 Jun

FullSizeRender (27)

Summer 2017 has officially begun– and how better to ring it in than sipping a refreshing champagne slushie with your favorite people? We did a little celebrating this weekend up at the Kef Family Homestead, and these were just the beverages to get the party started.

The company didn’t hurt, either:

FullSizeRender (28)

IMG_8022

And just in case frozen drinks and great people weren’t enough, we had a knee-high magnum of Rose. Gotta have back up.

IMG_8065

Watermelon Prosecco Slushies To Celebrate Summer

Ingredients

  • 4 c seedless watermelon, frozen and cubed
  • 1-3 c ice
  • 3/4 c limoncello (optional– we made batches with and without it)
  • 3/4 c sparkling white wine
  • Fresh mint and lemon slices for garnish, if you’re into garnish

Assembly

  1. Throw your cubed watermelon in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
  2. Once frozen, combine all ingredients EXCEPT PROSECCO in blender. Blend just until ice is mostly blended, ~45 seconds.
  3. Pour blended watermelon into glasses, top each off with prosecco. Swirl with a fancy straw and top off with a mint leaf and/or lemon slice.

FERRAGOSTO 2016: New Orleans

4 Apr

I only just barely qualify as a Millennial (and even then only because the state of Pennsylvania wouldn’t change my birth certificate so I could refute that title forevermore), so while I don’t have the “if it’s not on Instagram, it didn’t happen” mindset, I do suffer from “if it’s not on your blog, you’ll never recall it” syndrome. Being on the border of  today’s annoying younguns means that I’ll be old pretty much by tomorrow– so although the 9th annual FERRAGOSTO, happened 8 months ago, we’re talking about it now before JetSet and I reach the age where we can’t remember whether or not we brushed our teeth in the morning.

And this is truly one year not to forget: for years, JetSet and I have debated inviting others to our bizarre, tradition-driven little jaunts, and this year we finally found just the right beta tester–none other than the beloved DonQuixoteKef! Since you will see him only in the same teeshirt and cargo shorts from here on out, here’s what he looks like when he’s not in his trademarked travelwear:

tk

Alright then, on to it: wouldn’t be FERRAGOSTO if the shenanigans didn’t start off right off the bat. Immediately upon landing in the Big Easy, we had to find an urgent care that was still open because I had fallen while running in DC that morning, went to work all day, and then decided that our first order of business in New Orleans would be seeking out someone to stitch me up. As one does.

FullSizeRender (22)

Seven sutures later (3 internal, 4 external, for the curious among us), we were on Frenchman Street, where the beignets were frying and the brass bands were playing:

After eating more fried food than was healthy, we strolled the French Quarter, which was made infinitely better when we realized we could get our craft cocktails to go. Feeling the itis and the time change, we decided to call it an early night. We headed back to our beautiful and well-located AirBnB, but not before one more stop at our soon-to-be favorite take out bar, The Franklin. This is when I realized that I had become the third-wheel on my own vacation.

IMG_6578

Toasting the age old question: why ARE there so many songs about rainbows?

The next morning, JetSet took off an a hot, humid, long run and DonQuixoteKef and I took a pilgrimage to find the brick memorializing his grandfather at the World War II Museum  Along the way, we made the obligatory stop at Cafe du Monde, enjoyed the beautiful architecture, and popped into the Lafayette Cemetery. The great news about wandering around a new place with DonQuixoteKef is that he stops to read all the plaques, and then generously summarizes the interesting parts for you. That’s service with a smile, people.

IMG_6583

IMG_6581

Just before lunch, we caught up with JetSet post-run and set off across the Mighty Mississippi to the 15th Ward, Algiers.

IMG_6589

IMG_6591

We poked about, ate lunch at the super sweet Tout de Suite Cafe, and headed back across the river. We were having a great walk along the river, when a torrential downpour came out of nowhere and we had to go all Esmeralda and claim sanctuary in the St Louis Cathedral.

…but first, we took a selfie.

IMG_6598

We walked between raindrops, NOLA style–which is to say we followed the awnings from bar to bar. This was the perfect time to be in a group of three, as at any given stop only two of us really felt like a beverage so we could keep the afternoon under control by alternating drinking and seltzering without anyone feeling left out. And to think, just ten years ago I was partnered with DonQuixoteKef so he could help me finish off the second 40 taping our hands together, and now we needed each other for the sobriety triangle. #ReallyNotMillennials

After witnessing a strange Porsche Parade complete with police escort (no, really…) we continued our rainy walk through Louis Armstrong Park and into the Treme.

IMG_6599

We swung by the storied Kermit’s Treme Mother in Law Lounge, where we instantly killed the vibe a few regulars had going at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon.

IMG_6611

On the upside, we did learn a ton about a the eponymous New Orleans Jazz legend, thanks to the 30For30 style documentary they had playing on loop.

Finally, we stopped by St. Augustine Catholic Church, which houses the Tomb of the Unknown Slave.

IMG_6602IMG_6603

On this October 30, 2004, we, the Faith Community of St. Augustine Catholic Church, dedicate this shrine consisting of grave crosses, chains and shackles to the memory of the nameless, faceless, turfless Africans who met an untimely death in Faubourg Treme. The Tomb of the Unknown Slave is commemorated here in this garden plot of St. Augustine Church, the only parish in the United States whose free people of color bought two outer rows of pews exclusively for slaves to use for worship. This St. Augustine/Treme shrine honors all slaves buried throughout the United States and those slaves in particular who lie beneath the ground of Treme in unmarked, unknown graves. There is no doubt that the campus of St. Augustine Church sits astride the blood, sweat, tears and some of the mortal remains of unknown slaves from Africa and local American Indian slaves who either met with fatal treachery, and were therefore buried quickly and secretly, or were buried hastily and at random because of yellow fever and other plagues.

Even now, some Treme locals have childhood memories of salvage/restoration workers unearthing various human bones, sometimes in concentrated areas such as wells. In other words, The Tomb of the Unknown Slave is a constant reminder that we are walking on holy ground. Thus, we cannot consecrate this tomb, because it is already consecrated by many slaves’ inglorious deaths bereft of any acknowledgement, dignity or respect, but ultimately glorious by their blood, sweat, tears, faith, prayers and deep worship of our Creator.

A humbling reminder of the power of taking responsibility for our country’s dark history and the tremendous amount of work left to be done to undo the oppressive systems left in its wake. End rant.

We headed back to home base, took a nap and a shower, then headed to dinner… of course with a stopover to see our friends at the Franklin. For the record, I am generally a woman who drinks about one glass of wine per week… but when I realized I could strut about with my champagne, I was just bubbling over with excitement (har har har). We ate a delicious meal at Peche, then went for cocktails at Arnaud’s French 75.  Anyone keeping track realizes that, by this point, my whopping four drinks in 24 hours had me feeling like a million bucks, so I abstained when JetSet and DonQuixote stopped by Franklin’s for one more roadie.

And yet, somehow, I still participated (instigated?) this late night selfie stick session

IMG_6618

which devolved into my brother and I DEMANDING that Don Quixote join, in a ruckus very similar to an entire amphitheater full of fans chanting “one more song!” that didn’t end until the man himself appeared

IMG_6621

and finally agreed to “snuggle and selfie” with us

IMG_6622

two of these people are related by blood, and one of them is sorry he ever set eyes on the FamiliaKef. You do the math.

 

And then, like a rockstar who suddenly realizes the groupies he thought were hottie-patotties are actually thirty-something siblings, DonQuixote was gone as quickly as he came.

IMG_6623

Suddenly, it was morning, and we decided to be industrious grown ups again. A quick trip to the oddly all-inclusive convenience store down the street for provisions revealed the sign JetSet hopes one day to hang on his office door:

IMG_6594

It was our last day in the Big Easy and we were on two missions: get to the Audobon Zoo, and find a muffuletta on the way. We achieved the latter first, which gave DonQuixote just the boost he needed to rebound from the night before and trek across the city, plus all the calories he needed for the next four days of non-travel detox:

IMG_6628

Luckily, we were greeted with perfect weather for our final hours, and we managed to squeeze in the Zoo as well as mini-campus tours of Loyola and Tulane, plus an attempted-but-ultimately-barred jaunt through one of New Orleans’ most exclusive gated communities.

IMG_6629

IMG_6630

IMG_6632

IMG_6633

We zoomed home on by streetcar, and snapped this lovely shot:

IMG_6636

And that, friends, wraps up FERRAGOSTO 2016. No word on where we’ll head this year (or whether DonQuixote’s Stolkholm Syndrome is severe enough to agree to join us again), but as it is the TENTH ANNIVERSARY, we have some exciting possbilities in the mix.

It won’t, however, be Cleveland:

IMG_6625

22 May

Chrissy grandmaYesterday, this world lost one of the greats: my sassy, vivacious, tough-as-nails Grandma Rita.

Her love of dogs, gambling, and gossip (though she maintained she was merely “sharing information”) are well documented, but my most cherished memories of her will be how much she supported my writing–she read every word I ever published in The Hoya, bought every copy of Newsweek in Sugar Notch the summer I worked there (even when I didn’t have a byline), and always laughed at the jokes no one else found funny on this little blog. Even after I became a nurse and writing was no longer in my career path, there was almost never a phone call that went by without her reminding me, “You are a tremendous writer, you know,” and then, a crescendoing giggle, “And funny as hell.”

She was also the first person outside of the immediate family to meet MrKef, and I’ll always be grateful for how immediately and warmly she embraced him as part of the family. They bonded over paczkis and poodles, and he was an admitted and unabashed favorite of hers.

Here we are on our sort-of-secret first wedding day with her, because I couldn’t imagine getting married without her:

13246396_10207981716599224_2873051367462236798_o

And while I could go on and on about her, I’ll leave you with this absolutely-typical email she once wrote me, after she saw on the Facebook that I had gone to a shooting range, subject line: Annie Oakley:

chrissy—-so pleased that you have taken up the fine art of target shooting.  I told Jeannie and she was thrilled–she and I in our younger years were on rifle teams we competed every sunday.  Jeannie was a sharpshooter and all the guys wanted her on their team.  she never missed a target…….. she was one lady not to tangle with.  It is a great way to spend a day/////  hope all is well with you….the puppy is teething and driving this ole lady nuts.  To date he has eaten/chewed my new boots , the electric wire on my fan,one of Rose!s throw blankets last night he was very quiet, I was thrilled, after awhile I checked him he had my cell phone, chewed all the leather from the case top and bottom===we checked he did not make any calls.  Have a great day.  Love you                       rita and ryley

Wedding Wednesday Finale, Straight Outta Wedding Central

27 Jan

0695

If it had been up to me, MrKef and I would have rented a rec center and had an awesome wedding and party without a single centerpiece or place setting. But it turns out that 99.9% of the world is more formal than I am, and I was flatly overruled pretty much every time I asked, “But do we really NEED that?” Luckily, I have a mother who is the reigning queen of Pinterest’s Budget Weddings for Stubborn and Cheap Daughters scene, and she came to the rescue in a big way.

For about a year, MamaKef referred to her dining room as “Wedding Central” (and sometimes even answered the phone, “Wedding Central, how can I help you?” which gave me particular joy). Let’s review some of her amazing work!

My favorite detail: my bouquet. When I mentioned I really didn’t care to carry a bouquet, MamaKef actually recoiled in horror. But she knows the way to my heart: sentimentality. She doctored up the silk flower arrangement that she carried at her wedding to make this beautiful bouquet that I was thrilled to carry down the aisle with me.

0008

And she also made sure my beloved Grandma Ann was represented, and included this handkerchief in the 2016 version of her bouquet:

0013

Welcome bags were a MUST-have for MamaKef and the out of town guests, so she did up these super cute little inserts and added them to a basket of black & white cookies, a map of DC, and water bottles

0028

She also designed and printed the entirety of our ceremony’s program:

0670

All those amazing photos taken in foam board frames? 100% the work of the parentals, who spent a weekend perfecting these awesome props.

0033

Plus she commissioned this amazing, surprise step-and-repeat for us, which KMBGSKef tells me was quite a feat of engineering to assemble…

0034

But the fun didn’t stop there! She fashioned some beautiful decorations for cocktail hour:

0678

0675

Which included pictures of both our families, because MamaKef is the official family historian:0674

And even made my ultimate cheap-as-anything-bride move look super cute with the help of ChampagneOnlyKef’s perfect penmanship:

0687

MrKef is a proud alumnus of Posse, and they have a tradition of “Warm and Fuzzies” that MrKef wanted to try and recreate for our guest book. So, we made these little note papers on VistaPrint and MamaKef found a creative way to display them

0036

0685

Our seating chart was also a MamaKef original (with a little help from KMBGSKef’s fine hand)–this was a repurposed foam board of my grandmother’s with little tags designed by (who else!) MamaKef:

0669

… and that was all before you entered the reception room! As mentioned above, centerpieces were very low on my priority list, but MamaKef came to the rescue.

 

0810

 

The pictures don’t actually do them justice–the venue gave us the cylinders and mirrors (for free!) and MamaKef came up with this brilliant glitter-sticks-fake-tea-light arrangement. They gave off this beautiful sparkling low light that looked so pretty as the sun set over the Potomac.

… but low-cost don’t mean low-stress… this was the scene until about 1130am the day of the wedding (not pictured but should be: KMBGSKef, ChampagneOnlyKef, CafeKef, BabyKef and TresParisienneKef as WeddingCentralMinions).

IMG_4370

One of my other favorite details: the table numbers! We decided to do pictures of each of us at ages that corresponded to the table number. MamaKef and HomeBrewKef tag-teamed to make these amazing placards:

0801

0804

Finally, MamaKef bequeathed us what was 100% the most appreciated detail of the wedding– flipflops! 0808

And that, good people, is the work of the world’s Best Mom, with only minimal input from the world’s Worst Bride.0693

And now, I leave with with just a few moments from the Kef Wedding After Dark:

THE BIGGEST THANK YOU TO EVERYONE AT THE KEY BRIDGE MARRIOTT, who were awesome. Especially our Captain, Cristina– obrigada!

IMG_4408

So many favorites in one spot:

IMG_4448

MrKef’s mom served beignets during the after party, village style:IMG_4422

while DoJobKef entertained my side of the family with her discovery that my dad’s best friend bears an uncanny resemblance to her OB:

IMG_4419 (1)

There is a video of my parents, my dad’s best friend, and KMBGSKef belting out some Irish Drinking Songs… but I will spare you that and give you a blurry picture, instead:FullSizeRender (1)

At about 2:00 am, we piled into two huge Ubers and headed–where else?–to Korean BBQ:

FullSizeRender (2)

…and THAT, my friends, is how I woke up looking like this:

FullSizeRender (3)

How better for the anti bride to end this seemingly-endless blog series?

(Almost The Last) Wedding Wednesday: Reception Kings and Prancing Dads

20 Jan

Today we’re gonna finish up the party pics I couldn’t get posted last week, next week it’s all about the amazing work MamaKef put into this life event, and then its honeymoon in Croatia time. Sharing all these fun wedding moments has been great, but I’m ready to move on. (Part I ; Part II ; Part III ; Part IV)

First things first, I have to crown a King of the Reception. I’d like to think everyone had a great time at our little fiesta, but there was one guest who stood out in a sea of really fun people as the person having the MOST fun: RussianBearKef himself! There was not one single scene the photographer caught without him in, having a blast. A smattering of the many snapshots of one of my dearest friends getting down with pretty much every woman I know:

15621351

1251

Impossibly, we have known each other for TEN years– so because I can, I think we need a before-and-after comparison:

1927684_508964808295_9318_n

1353

I rather think we’re getting better with age (and less Russian Bear!).

It was an extremely tough decision. The runner up goes to SummitKef, for cheering us on SO wholeheartedly as we fed each other beignets and baklava. The whole photo series is priceless, but here’s just one to wet your whistle:

1237

Back to the party:  the FamiliaKef really knows how it’s done:1503

1554

1530

1416

FINALLY, JetSet learns how to Wobble.

While my family was dancing, MrKef and co were up to some very-usual antics

1433

1411

1419

1322

1266

#posselove #brandeis

Naturally, FlailKef, SpeakToSomeoneAboutThatKef and I were picking some apples and putting them in our pocket:

1430

It was just a room full of dancing fools!

1320

The most beautiful couple on the planet, clearly.

1330

I think this is me “dancing” to Makossa

1243

Countless cool points were won and lost that night.

1401

1106

1259

1368

1524

1544

Partying like we should have in 1999.

1375

Things reached a fever pitch when MamaKef’s cocktail hour props made their way to the dancefloor:

1464

1467

 

1452

1482

1458

1441

1463

1192

Not in a frame, but they’re two of my most beloved, so I’m going Blogzilla and throwing it in there, anyway.

In case there was ANY wonder whether this whole night had been worth it, a miracle happened. Our last song of the night was “New York, NY.” Everyone was swaying in a circle, minding their own business and belting it out along with the original Bl’italian when…

1573

… SUDDENLY MRKEF’S DAD AND MY DAD ENTERED THE CENTER OF THE CIRLCE HOLDING HANDS AND PRANCING:

1579

It cannot be understated how happy this made me– my father does NOT dance, does not like attention, and does not touch other humans. My reaction was pretty much the same as KPopKef’s, captured wonderfully in the background to the right.

Once we got over the shock, everyone piled through the dads to form a bridge.

1583

1589 I honestly think this is the happiest moment of my whole life. I bemoaned the process of putting together a wedding for a price below the Federal Poverty Line for an entire year, but  I would happily pay twice the cost of the wedding just for this amazing memory!

Beautiful MakeUp and Emergency Hair Touchups: Colleen the Stylist
Amazing photography provided by: RMN Photography
Venue and gracious coordinators of logistics: Key Bridge Marriott
White dress the bride could live with: BHLDN
Alterations that kept the bride IN said dress: G2G Couture
Perfect party music played by: DJ StereoFaith

Wedding Wednesday: Syrtaki, Stanky Spanx, and Suspenders

13 Jan

Okay so today there’s good news and bad news: the bad news is that I had some technical difficulties this morning uploading all the party pics I wanted to use, so I may have to draw the reception out into two posts–sorry y’all. I tried to be a really low-key bride, so what I spared you in Bridezilla moments will be made up for in Blogzilla posts… okay? Great. The good news is that the upload failed pretty much right at the moment I was trying to teach JetSet how to Wobble, so he is spared one more week of embarassment.

So, after we rehearsed, said “I Do,” and MrKef got a major roasting, it was finally time to start the party. Clearly, there’s only one way to do it: Zorba (syrtaki if we’re being technical, but just go with it)! 1081

People tried–they really did–but eventually it devolved into a circle of clapping while the Greeks took care of the speedy bits.

1101

And then it was all party, party, party!

1127

1133

1158

1134

1160

Unfortunately, there is now photographic evidence of my doing the most STANDARD white girl dance post-college– one point in the “ChefKef-is-secretly-an-UGGs-wearing- PSL-sipping-basic-babe” column:

1199

Eventually, an epic dance-off between WokeUpLikeDisKef, RumNRedBullKef, and BabyKef broke out, which was amazing beyond measure.1173

No need to drop the mic– BabyKef threw down with her trademarked “Stanky Spanx” dance:

1165

Of course, MrKef and I had to then show off some of our signature moves, like Playing Dice:

1143

and “Ay! Ay! Ay! Ay!”

1221

and, my personal favorite, the Ashanti/JaRule Thug Love:

1217

Somehow, we forget to put Ma$e on the “Must Play” list, so MrKef had to do without his DiddyBop on his big night. Shame.

While all this was going down, there were beignets and baklava to be had!

1230

The beignets came from a random Cameroonian lady who turned out to be a total drama queen. The baklava came from the most amazing woman alive, Kat at Baklava Couture. Further proof that Our Greekness is Your Weakness? I think so.

1229

HomeBrewKef was surprised to find himself 100% on-trend at this shindig

1225

And that, sadly, is where my upload ends– more next time!

Beautiful MakeUp and Emergency Hair Touchups: Colleen the Stylist
Amazing photography provided by: RMN Photography
Venue and gracious coordinators of logistics: Key Bridge Marriott
White dress the bride could live with: BHLDN
Perfect party music played by: DJ StereoFaith

%d bloggers like this: