Wedding Planning

Wedding planning is part scary beast with fangs and a scowl on his face and part joyful child shrieking with excitement over a new kitten. It can bring out a range of emotions as well as tons of stress to tons of excitement and anticipation! There are days I just want the wedding to be over and other days where I am excited about all the fun details and creative things we are trying to do.

Bring on the FUN!


We finally decided on a wedding date of August 4th and 5th of this year! There were lots of things to decide including if we wanted to go more traditional Pakistani or make it more of a blending of two cultures. Traditional Pakistani weddings can go for 3-4 days with tons of fanfare and details. Day one is usually a henna ceremony. The bride and groom wear yellow and are adorned with a red paste of henna and turmeric! The turmeric is put on the face to give the bride a glow on her actual wedding day. Guests take turns coming up to wave money around the bride and grooms head which is a sign of luck and well wishes. All the ladies sit around and play a huge drum while singing traditional wedding songs. This is my favorite part and I love the cultural aspect of it. There is also usually always a jolly-natured rotund Uncle that is making bad jokes during the whole affair.

All of that in mind, we needed to figure out if we were going to go all out cultural or try to do a fusion wedding. Me and my fiancé are both Pakistani but we are first generation as I was born in Minnesota and he was born in England. After some hemming and hawing we are paying homage to both cultures we are proud of.

Day one is going to be a fun dance party! I have decided to wear a white wedding dress, heck why not?! I have always been enamored with the gorgeous gals in white and tons of lace and I figure if we are not going totally traditional let’s go all out! BUT I do want to keep some aspects that are Pakistani so we will probably still do the drum singing and also have a grand entrance for both the bride and grooms families. There is still the question of food to serve? Taco bar and Curry? I will keep you posted on that! Even things like an open bar had to be considered. Most Pakistanis don’t really drink because of religious reasons but I will have tons of friends coming in from all over the United States and wanted to have the option for them. The solution? A cash bar or drink tickets for them!

The second day will be more traditional. I plan to wear a Pakistani wedding dress but not in the traditional color of red. I am considering several options including maroon and teal together. The DJ will play some traditional music and we will follow many customs that are common to this day. One of those customs is the “Rukhsati”. At the end of the night the bride departs for her life with her new husband and in what can be a somber moment she says goodbye to the life she used to have with her parents. It dates back to when girls would truly leave from one home to another to start a new life. Usually they had never lived without their parents before this and were venturing into an unknown world with a man they barely knew as arranged marriages were common back then. Things have changed greatly over the years and many times it’s now more tradition than it is anything else.

It’s so fun trying to incorporate two cultures into one wedding! Check back on my blog as I continue to navigate the never-ending maze of wedding planning!

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Norton Family Merriest Moments Christmas Tradition

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Norton clan! 


We kick off our family holiday season by sitting down as a family; me, John (hubby), Connor (26) and Alec (22), to get our Christmas card together.

It starts out as a time to reflect on the past year and recall what we are grateful for and what have become our Norton Merriest Moments. 

We started this tradition rather than writing a Christmas letter, it was hard enough to get the boys to sit down and think of their Merriest Moments, much less get them to commit to write part of a Christmas letter….

Let me give you some background on this…so when we sit down as a family to eat a meal, we started sharing what we were grateful for for the day.  Now it didn’t have to be a life-altering, earth-shattering thing to be grateful for, all it was was a moment to find goodness in that day.  This way if it was a particularly hard day at school for one of the boys, or a trying time at work for us, we would have to pause and find gratitude in something, anything, for the day.  It could be, “I am thankful for the dessert mom made,” or, “I am thankful for my friends,” even, “ I am thankful that Cooper the Wonderdog didn’t poop in the house today!”  This tradition continued when friends joined us for dinner as well.  At first the guest would be self conscious about the whole grateful thing but after time, returning friends and family were looking forward to the “what are you grateful for today” moment at the Norton table.  So many times this opened up conversations that would not have been had. One special moment for a friend of my son’s and his mom who were at our house for dinner, for the first time in a very long time, the son said he was grateful for his mom.  Seems small right?   Not to that mom who was so happy to hear something other than grunts from her teenage son.

OK and THEN it morphed into “Sunday Steak Nights.” That, has taken on a life of it’s own at our house.

The Norton table is open every Sunday night to friends, family, coworkers, strays and people needing a fix of love.  Some Sundays there are 2 at the table some Sundays there are 12!  And the “what we are grateful for for the day” goes on and on and on.  So fun!  The more people at my table the more grateful I am!  And there is always somehow enough to go around, a little like the tale of the loaves and fishes.

So back to the holiday tradition…we wanted to have a family holiday card to be about what we were grateful for, since it’s kind of “our thing” now but we wanted it to be what we were grateful for for the YEAR!

It got crazy long so we shortened it for the holidays to: The Norton’s Merriest Moments


For 2016 the Norton Merriest Moments are:


2016 Merriest Moments Continued

Past Norton Merriest Moments



2014 Norton Merriest Moments













2013 Norton Merriest Moments









2010 Norton Merriest Moments






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kathy blog 2 homeThere is something so nostalgic and a bit romantic about creating great traditions with family and friends. We started going ‘up North to the cabin’ every July with our college friends about 30 years ago.  Back then we were just a group of crazy couples (with even some of our parents), then babies came and weddings and funerals  . . . but we never missed this time together.  Fast-forward to more recent years and it’s back to just us crazy couples – now all empty nesters!  The events of the week have started to revolve around food, what could be better?!

kathy blog 2 beach fireSo picture this . . . lakeside cabin with a great beach, bonfire, loons (the bird not the people) and some great classic rock music . . . and now add in a traditional CLAMBAKE!

Here’s how we did it, and now it’s part of the tradition and everyone can participate.

Start with a visit to your local fish market to get the clams, shrimp, mussels and lobsters!  And the rest is kathy blog 2 lobstereasy.  We wanted to do this on the beach over an open fire, so we started with a huge galvanized tub and started picking rocks out of the lake to use at the bottom of the tub. Filled it with lake water – yep, lake water (a really clean lake) – and then started layering in all the goodies.

Here’s the recipe I use (not created but use, and it’s perfect every time):

Beach Clambake

1-½ lbs of baby red potatoes                                                                        1 lb little neck clams                                                                                         2 cups water                                                                                                      4 tablespoons salted butter                                                                              2 large yellow onions, cut into eighths                                                           8 garlic cloves                                                                                                   ½ bottle of dry white wine                                                                               1 ¼ lb of kielbasa sausage, cut into bit size                                                    3 lobsters, each 1 1/2 lbs or larger                                                                      5 medium ears of corn, husked and broken in half                                         1 lb of deveined shrimp                                                                                    8 lemons, quartered for serving                                                                 Tons of melted butter for serving                                                     Sourdough bread for serving

  1. kathy blog 2 guysPre boil the potatoes until tender
  2. Fill large bowl with cool, slated tap water and submerge clams for 30-45 min. This way they purge the sand.  Scrub.
  3. Start adding ingredients to the tub in this order (with enough water in the tub to cover the rocks) and steam the ingredients: onion, garlic, wine, cooked potatoes, sausage. Steam for 5 minutes by covering with wet beach towel. Add the lobsters and cook for 6 minutes. Add the corn and clams and cook another 6 minutes. Add shrimp, cover and cook another 6 minutes.
  4. Pour onto a newspaper-covered table and serve with lemons and melted butter and some fresh warm sourdough bread.

The bar is easy, we usually have cold beer in a tub and some crisp, cold, white wine.

We spread newspaper over a picnic table down at the waters edge, throw out a few plates and lobster crackers, and go to town!

Dessert?  That’s easy….s’mores of course!  Enjoy!

kathy blog 2 filled tubs


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