For those of you who know my sweet Mark, you know that I am one of the lucky ones. I am married to a man who prioritizes my happiness, often over his own. He truly is the best partner a girl could ever hope for. Did I mention he has a fantastic head of hair and is a genius in the kitchen!?! Yep, I totally scored–which makes me feel terrible about how hard I made that darling boy work to find me the perfect wedding ring.
After a little over two years of dating, Mark decided to propose. He knew I wasn’t a diamond solitaire kind of girl, not because I didn’t think they were lovely, but because I am always using my hands–whether digging in the dirt, jamming my hand in my camera bag to fetch something, or just clumsily whacking my hand into a wall as I am walking by–and I didn’t want a ring I had to be extra careful with. I have always loved bold jewelry and, as far as rings go, the bigger the better. My fave ring is a knuckle to knuckle turquoise number that Mark bought for me on our first trip to see his folks in Spain. He knew he needed to find something unique for me that could stand up next to that chunker. He turned to my sister Ashley for assistance. She was sure they would find the perfect ring at Perry’s Southpark. After almost an hour of looking without finding a winner, the sales lady brought out a new ring to show them. It was a nature inspired, wrap-style band set asymmetrically with sapphires and diamonds. Mark was sure he had found my ring and Ashley, who is never shy, held in her objections–at least for a few days after the ring was bought and paid for. Then she called Mark in tears, apologizing and finally blurting out “you bought the wrong ring!” Mark can’t tolerate a crying woman so he offered to consider any alternative options, just as long as she would stop crying. Ashley pointed him in the direction of an online retailer of estate jewelry. He fell in love with an antique diamond and emerald beauty from the 1890’s and Ashley, thankfully, agreed it was the ring for me.
Not sure what to do with the first ring now, Mark decided he would employ both rings for the proposal. I am a keenly observant person and, according to Mark, quite difficult to surprise. When we had discussed getting engaged, the only rule I threw out was for Mark to not propose to me in a restaurant. Any other proposal plan would be just fine, I just didn’t want to be the couple in the restaurant that strangers were clapping for. However, in order to surprise me, Mark had to go ahead and do the one thing I would never expect–propose in a restaurant–a brewery, in fact. Romantic right? It actually was… We were in Bangor, Maine between Christmas and New Years. It was a random trip, the kind that just reeked of an engagement, so I was on my tip toes the whole time thinking it could happen at any moment. That is, any moment except the night of the blizzard. No major plans for the evening. We were just going to walk from our charmingly creepy room at the St. Charles Inn to the brewery down the road. We held hands as we walked and savored the silence of the heavy snowfall. I was relaxed. There’s no way it was happening THAT night.
As we enjoyed our first beers in the empty barroom, Mark said to me, “So I would like to give you that gift I didn’t want to give you at Christmas.” Okay, I thought, this can’t be it. He just has a gift for me. But then he slid a ring box across the table and sat back nonchalantly in his chair, just staring at me. Oh, crap. Is this it? Is this MY proposal? He was still just sitting there, so I opened the box to find the sapphire and diamond ring inside. He was STILL just sitting there. Maybe this was just a belated Christmas gift–I needed to react. It really WAS beautiful. Not really my style, but BEAUTIFUL. I took the ring out and slid in on my finger. As I looked up to thank him…he was gone. I looked all around, only to discover him on his knees, beside my chair, with ANOTHER ring, crying and mumbling something about marrying him. YES!! I was so confused, but YES!! He got me good. Sneaky devil. The only person in the bar to clap for us was our waitress, and I was just fine with that. Mark explained the ring story and said I could consider either ring my engagement ring. I chose the one he proposed with.
By the time the wedding rolled around in July, we learned that my beloved antique ring was a little too delicate for everyday wear. In seven short months, we had to have one of the emeralds replaced twice. We needed an everyday ring for the wedding band and I would wear the engagement ring on my right hand. How European, right? I found a very wide, fine silver band on Etsy.com that had a pressed cottonwood leaf in it. Perfect; or at least it seemed perfect until, a few months after the wedding, wearing the oh-so-wide band everyday gave me a wicked case of dermatitis. Ah jeez. 1st ring wasn’t me, 2nd ring was too delicate, 3rd ring didn’t breathe… what’s a girl to do? Mark and I talked about it and, with his full support, he agreed to let me take ring #1 back to Perry’s, explain my ridiculous story and see if they could do anything for me. After they quit laughing, they kindly offered to return ring #1 for full credit (WHAT?!?) towards another ring in the store. Yep. Ring #4. I picked out the perfect wide band with lace-like open diamond work. It was sparkly without being delicate and it looked amazing next to my other big rings. It made the perfect first anniversary gift.
So I wonder, with our fifth anniversary coming up in the summer, do you think I can talk my sweet hubs into ring #5? Doubtful. Mark, just in case you are considering it, I think a pave set eternity ring would look just perfect next to my band. Or maybe a claw set, I cant decide. No? Okay….
The spring issue of Edible Charlotte magazine hit stands on March 1st. Find out where to pick up your copy here, or come out and raise a glass (on us!) to the new issue at NODA Brewing Company today from 4-7 pm. Grab a pint of the new Jam Session Pale Ale or, one of my favorites, the Midnight Madness Black IPA.
This issue may have been the most fun for me yet. I had the pleasure of meeting Dave Krabbe and Kathryn Spann of Prodigal Farms in Rougemont, NC. They operate a goat-centric, Animal Welfare Approved dairy, creating a variety of goats milk cheeses, chevre cakes and breads made from the milk’s whey. After spending the afternoon touring their beautiful 97-acre farm and learning how happy goats are the foundation of their business, I was delighted to be sent home with one of their goat’s milk blueberry cheesecakes and, let me tell you, it was divine!
My visit to the local muscadine winery, Treehouse Vineyards, in Monroe tapped into memories from my childhood, where I spent my earliest summers chasing my grandparent’s Saint Bernards, Ben and Buck, through my Grandaddy’s 350+ acres of grapevines in York, SC–careful to avoid the piles of boulders that my grandmother swore were rife with snakes. One sip of Treehouse’s Sweet Union during the tasting took me right back to sitting in the shade of the vines, bringing the thick flesh of a scuppernong to my lips, squeezing the freckled fruit gently with both hands, and releasing the sweet and juicy deliciousness into my mouth. Heaven–if in heaven I am wearing a terrycloth jumper.
Then I had the pleasure of working with my sweet hubby, Mark, for the piece on Southend’s own, Lenny Boy Brewing. Not another beer brewery, although I would be the last to complain if it was, Lenny Boy’s Townes Mozer is the proud producer of Raw Kombucha Tea. Although I consider myself to be a consistent purveyor of healthy eats, I had never tried Kombucha before, or “Booch” as it is often referred to by its regular consumers. It was like nothing I had ever tasted and I was hooked from the first sip. It is an effervescent, fermented tea, chock full of beneficial probiotics and B vitamins. Townes offers a variety of flavors in the taproom, open Sundays, or you can pick up a bottle at any of these local spots.
Finally, I met Ron Morgan of One Hundred Gardens who, along with his partners Sam Fleming and Charlie Oliphant, is working to connect the Charlotte community to struggling communities in Haiti through the establishment of aquaponic gardens–66 educational gardens built in the Charlotte area and 33 high yield systems sent to Haiti that can each provide nourishment for over 3 dozen people a day. As an avid home gardener, I knew this assignment was right in my wheelhouse. After spending the morning with Ron, one of the most charming, passionate and inspiring people I have met in a long time, I left feeling, as my dear friend Jillian would say, as if I could have sopped him up with a biscuit.So come on down to NODA Brewing Company this afternoon and grab your copy. Cheers![subscribe2]