fennel nettle sweet tea

Today is September 2. September 2! Tim and I are getting married in 44 days, as in next month, six weeks from tomorrow. Yesterday, September 1, I went to a dress fitting. I stood in front of a wall of mirrors and looked at myself, standing next to a tall blonde woman with a thick European accent who tried to sell me a $350 veil, and I thought, look at me! I’m wearing a big, white dress! And then I thought, look at me? I’m wearing a big, white dress?

bulb of fennel

Tim comes over most nights and we make dinner together. Wednesday, it was brown rice pasta covered in olive oil, chopped heirloom tomatoes and lime basil (thank you, Angela!), hunks of sheep’s milk feta that melted into a cheesy sauce, salt and pepper. Last night, it was a roast chicken and broccoli, and now I have stock simmering on the stove. After we eat, we sit on the air mattress I have set up in my living room as our makeshift sofa, and we watch TV on the flat-screen my brother gave us (!!) and fall asleep until a show ends and wakes us up, and Tim leaves, and I go to bed.

fresh fennel

A couple times this past week, I’ve been woken up (at 1 AM, at 4 AM) by my late-night upstairs neighbors arguing. The first time, it was so startling, so surreal, I just laid in bed, my heart racing, wondering if what I was hearing was really happening. The second time, I realized it was, and I wished someone else were hearing it, too. Last night, I recognized that someone was crying.

fennel tea

We have a to-do list, me and Tim, a long one. It’s filled with tasks to accomplish before the wedding, and every time one of us says or thinks, man, I wish we were just married already!, I remember the list and think of all the things separating us from then, and I say something very unhelpful to Tim like, Why didn’t we elope?

making tea

And another night goes by, and another day, and I go thrifting with my future sister-in-law and find a $7 chair and a $9 chair and a gorgeous $7 crock for our future umbrellas, and our house becomes more and more of our future home, and Tim and I make another dinner, and we bake another batch of cookies and, we make reservations for our honeymoon.

fennel tea

It’s in this new almost-home that a company asks to send me some fresh fennel and then surprises me with an entire case (!!), so then there Tim and I are, standing side by side, making a big salad and cooking the leaves in a tea, while he’s talking about the health benefits of fennel and how it’s good for your immune system, your colon, women’s health.

And it’s in times like those that it hits me, just like when we’re eating dinner on our hardwood floors or laughing about how we have to jiggle a toilet valve every time we use the bathroom, I don’t want to forget this. Any of it.

Someday far from now, when we have furniture and a garden and a long history of sharing the same last name, when we’ve already done holidays with both families, when these simple beginnings feel faded and almost not real, I don’t want to forget how nice it was to be at the threshold of sharing life together. I don’t want to forget how all the changes—in the pain as much as the bliss—were so new, so unexpected, so constantly surprising. I don’t want to forget they were good.

Fennel Nettle Iced Tea
approximations from Tim

We bought nettle tea a few weeks ago because of its powerful nutritional benefits, and given that it is so powerful, I fully expected to dislike this thrown-together tea. However—we made two teas that afternoon, this and a much more normal tulsi-lemon-basil-honey, and this one was by far my favorite. Sweet, reminiscent of anise and a pure delight.

Ingredients:
nettle tea bags (1 tea bag per cup of water)
one big bunch of fresh fennel leaves
honey
lemon juice, if desired

Directions:
Boil water with tea bags and fennel and honey—add about 1 tea bag per cup of water and 2-3 TBS of honey depending on how much tea is made. We can’t remember if we squeezed lemon in or not, but it’s another option.

After it’s the strength and flavor you desire, chill the tea and drink over ice.

Cooksnaps
Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. Maria

    How exciting to be so close to the big day! Mine is still quite a few months away so I haven’t even really started planning it yet ;-) This tea sounds wonderful, I’m a huge fan of both fennel and nettle! Fabulous tea for cleansing as well.

  2. Joanna

    I love this. You’ve perfectly captured both the “Oh my gosh, AM I the bride?” feeling and the magical feeling of content and excitement in the days leading up to the wedding. Thanks for reminding me of that fun time. Now I’m daydreaming of coming over, sharing some tea with you, and talking for a long, long while…

  3. TJ

    It’s a really special time, when you are looking forward to sharing a life together. The years fly by. Sometimes it is hard for me to believe that I’ve been married over fifteen years.

  4. angela@spinachtiger

    What a way to express your anticipation. I can almost hear that toilet valve being jiggled. But i hear your heart and excitement. Tell Tim not to stress over my site. The wedding is priority. And, the next time you eat at my house, you will be married. Let’s set that date for a Sunday dinner after church. Just love getting to know you both. You’re very special.Let me know if I can help in any way.

  5. Jen

    I have been married for 2.5 years, but still consider myself somewhat of a newlywed. There are moments when my husband and I do something like dance at a friend’s wedding, and I look at him, and I think, “Has all of this time together passed already?” Because he still feels new to me, like I’ve just met this amazing guy and wow–he likes me. I’m so happy that you seem to have that feeling about your Tim (my husband is a Tim also) and it makes me think that Tim’s are a special breed.

  6. Ashley@BakerbyNature

    Oh my gosh – I have upstairs arguing neighbors too; it’s an odd mix of sad and frightful feelings when I hear them going at it. You must be so excited, nervous, busy getting ready for your big day – I’m sure it will all be dreamy!

  7. Shannalee

    Maria, Congratulations to you, too, then! : )

    Joanna, Oh, I really wish you were here to sit down and have tea with! You’d be a nice voice of calm AND excitement—and that is a rare blend!

    TJ, Wow, that’s so nice to hear. : )

    Oh, Angela, We love getting to know you, too. Thanks for being such a friend to us. And Tim’s working away at your site–because that’s a priority, too! : )

    Jen, Years before I met my Tim, I was reading in Philippians about Timothy and how Paul said he was the only one he could send to the church that would genuinely be concerned with their welfare, and I remember thinking, THAT’s the kind of man I’d want to spend my life with. Little did I know that man would not only be like Timothy but be named Timothy, too. Maybe there IS something to that name! : )

    Joylynn, Thank you for that sweet comment!

    Laken, Thank you!

  8. Shannalee

    AND Ashley! I just got your comment through now (it got stuck in the spam folder) and I have to say, it’s so nice to hear from someone who hears their neighbors, too! Sad and frightful is exactly right.

  9. Jacqui

    I nodded along through this entire post, Shanna — from the long to-do lists and the thoughts of eloping, to the small beginnings that mark a new life with the one you love. It makes me look back at this first year of marriage and realize just how truly special it really is. You two have so many good things ahead of you and it makes me so happy!

  10. Maddie

    Ted and I were just reminiscing about this exact kind of thing! (I.e., when we used to have picnic dinners because we didn’t have a dining room table, or when we drank wine out of teacups because we didn’t have wineglasses…) You’ve got the right idea: enjoy every second of it. And good luck with wedding prep!

  11. Shannalee

    Aw, Jacqui, thank you! I keep thinking about your wedding last year and feeling like it can’t really be a whole year ago already!? This marriage thing is going to be an adventure.

    Neil, Thanks so much!

    Maddie, Oh, picnic dinners and wine in teacups—I love it. Thanks for that sweet image, Maddie!

    Sue, Can’t wait to see you too!

  12. Kim

    Maybe I’m just sentimental these days (ahem, always), but this post struck me deep inside my heart, and made me feel both strong and overcome and happy and wistful and all of those beautiful and conflicting emotions all at once.

    You have always been a beautiful writer, Shanna. xo

  13. Vicki

    Ah yes the home stretch of wedding planning can be SO stressful! I’m sure by now everyone and their mother is giving you advice about the wedding and/or marriage. But I’ll give my advice for how an uber-worrier like myself had a worry and stress free wedding day: write down every last little thing that needs to be handled on your wedding day (aka a worry list). Then give that list to a very trusted friend who you trust to be in charge of your worries for the day. I did that and it was a huge help!! I honestly did not worry once that day, not even when we forgot to schedule a few things in the reception like when to cut the cake (the friend in charge of my worry list also was the MC of our reception since we didn’t have a DJ). Good luck with everything. Looking forward to seeing photos of you in that beautiful white dress. :)

  14. Kelsey (Happyolks)

    Shannalee, I regret having not visited and followed up with your blog more often. I really am the worst blogger ever, I can’t figure out how to use google reader, and I find that my Bloglovin’ account doesn’t always update… Hmmm. In any case, this is such a lovely tea – I wish it was starting to cool down out here, I would make this every night before bed! I’m sorry that the wedding preparations are a bit stressful, I would cheer all the way if you guys just decided to run off and make it official. You need no reminding, I’m sure, that the journey is half the fun, making that big day even more sweet and rewarding. Thinking of you and sending you lots of love and light!

  15. Mom

    Our little girl all grown up and standing in her white dress. I write with tears
    in my eyes. Your and Tim’s DAY is fast approaching and we can’t be more
    delighted and thankful at how wonderful this all will be! Also, your tea sounds so good! I am a tea-lover as you know, and will try this! Thanks Honey!

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