Friday, July 29, 2011

Photo Friday: Tomatoes in a Mint Bowl

 In getting back on schedule with regular features, today's image really speaks to me because it is an artistic interpretation of something that's a steady feature in our house—lovely tomatoes (lately, sungolds from Grinnell Heritage Farm) in a colorful latte bowl (I have this set, which I adore). The print is from TheJoyofColor on Etsy and I urge you to scroll through her work because each one feels more lively and inspired than the next. The past few years, I've really tried to support independent artists by buying artwork for my walls and while the wall space in most of our house is somewhat occupied, I recently realized that the kitchen needs some love! So hopefully I can add a few lovely pieces, maybe even this one, to the yellow walls.

And now for a little link love:

Alyssa Ettinger recently started making porcelain pendants (you might know of her porcelain mason jars or her knitwear bowls). The pendants are gorgeous.

There is a new issue of Nuno Magazine out (this issue is all about the desert, with 23 crafty projects that channel the Southwest—includinga rad throw rug clutch and paper beads I am dying to try to make—using recycled or repurposed materials) and I can't wait to get myself a copy.

Josh made pickled beets this week, which marked the first official canning done in our house which is tremendously exciting. But when I saw this post on Simple Bites about Lacto-Fermentation I realized that there might be a way to preserve food minus the boiling water (which would be nice for our sweltering Iowa summer). I am looking forward to reading more about this method.

I need to try making this gluten free fresh pasta. I should do it on a lazy Sunday and serve it with pesto.

And hitting the sweltering heat note again, this Orange Creamsicle smoothie recipe sounds completely delicious.

Josh is running a race tomorrow morning with his buddy in Davenport, so we're going to do a little exploring of the Quad Cities in Eastern Iowa while we out that way. Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Our Wedding: The Potluck Party with Square Dancing!

Today is the third and final installment of the wedding recap, with some images that show what we did the day after the wedding. With nearly all of our family and close friends coming in from out of town, we wanted to give them something fun to do—so we came up with a potluck party at a local state park with a band, square dancing and pie! Also, the event came with an added bonus: I got to wear my dress again, this time with comfy (though sparkly) flip flops.

The lodge itself was beautiful (I believe it was built during the 1930s by the CCC), so we kept decorations to a minimum. (Also, I was trying my best not to have the cleanup be too much of an ordeal, because I suspected that we'd all be tired.) My mother in law and my sister handled putting flowers in mason jars on the interior tables, on top of linens that were hand stitched by my paternal great grandmother.

Outside we hung the garlands that I made from paint swatches that I'd gotten at work from Yolo Colorhouse, and put potted boxwood basil and citronella candles on the picnic tables.

I had three vintage cakes stands from Virginia's wedding that we used to show off some of the dozen pies that we had for dessert. Two of them were huckleberry, which Josh's mom made the morning of this event using berries that she brought frozen in a cooler during the two day drive from Montana. We even had two gluten free pies (I made sure to get the crust recipe!), which was an unexpected treat.

And then we square danced...

because it is so much fun. I so loved getting to share a square dance with my dad!

Josh sang "Shady Grove" with the band. I tried my hardest not to cry.

Since the pies were out for the entire 4 hours of the party, many of us had more than one slice of pie, which to me is the sign of a good time.

When the mosquitos became unbearable, we moved the band inside.

And my friends and family promptly decided that it was time for them to get up and sing. So they started "You are my sunshine" and we all joined in. That, hands down, was my favorite moment of the day. Oh, apart from this one...

That my friends is my blurry attempt to capture my new husband playing his guitar and leading us in song on the way home from the potluck. I think we're going to have an excellent marriage!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Our Wedding: In Details

Today I'm going to share some of the details that went into the making of our wedding. It's been really fun and a bit emotional to go through all of the pictures, but I can't say enough about the joy it has been to have our photographer be one of our closest friends. She captured so many of the handmade my dress!! You can see it here in all it's stitched glory and while many people questioned the logic when I spend 120 hours working on this, I am here to say it was entirely worth it. It felt familiar and comfortable, like it was already part of me because we had spent so much time together. And as it was 99 degrees on wedding day, jersey cotton proved to be the way to go!

The morning of the wedding I went to a local wholesaler with my good friend. I had scoped things out the week before so I had a general sense of what was there, and we bought up as many flowers as we thought we'd need. I'd never made a bouquet before (though I did read a lot of online tutorials, like this one), but I've arranged a lot of flowers over the years so I figured that we'd make it work one way or another. Amazingly, the two bouquets too maybe an hour, hour and a half and it was the perfect activity for me to do that morning. The one here above is mine—I loved it so much!

 And this one, which has more pinks, was for my sister. I think the twine around the stems really helped to set the rustic elegant tone that I was going for (plus it was easy to wrap on there and make stay put, so that helped!).

 We used rosemary and sage from our garden for the two boutonnieres, though the heat wilted the sage pretty quickly (I pulled it off after the ceremony so it wasn't all sad in any pictures). Our garden is a big part of our lives so it meant a lot to us that we were able to incorporate it into the day.

 Here is my clutch, which I made one weekend during the spring, with a silk hankie that I found with a box of stitched items that I had from my paternal grandmother. It came in very handy!

In addition to it being 99 degrees on wedding day, I thought that the cut of my dress would be better with my hair up. And while my trial went well, I was stunned with how great the final result turned out—it was exactly right (thank you Salon W!). And the little hair comb that I made with beads leftover from my dress was the perfect touch of sparkle. 

 Josh's ties for the weekend worked out really well. They were both made by Annabela with Liberty fabric that I ordered from Purl.

 My sister's dress, again from Alabama Chanin like mine, with stitched eyelets around the bottom and beading around the neckline. I loved that our dresses went so well together and that she got to have something handstitched by me to wear as well.

 Tomorrow, what we did the day after the wedding!

Photos by the lovely and talented Bethany Kohoutek.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Our Wedding: The Ceremony & Dinner

Hooray, it's time to share wedding photos! We had our ceremony at the Rose Garden behind the Des Moines Art Center, where we had our first date. The garden is filled with interesting architecture, along with roses and lovely trees, which we thought was a perfect setting. This is one of my very favorite photos—I love the movement in it and how we're clearly on our way somewhere important!

My momma and I (with my pretty sis in the background), sharing a laugh at the back of the aisle.

I love that my natural reaction to being pronounced husband and wife was simply to say "Yay!".

Our families, getting into the spirit of the celebration. I just love the silly expressions on everyone's faces.

The trees gave us just the right amount of light filtering—but so much of the way the photos turned out was simply due to the eye of our photographer (and my good friend) Bethany.

I really enjoyed all of the opportunities to hug my new husband, as you can tell.

We had the dinner after the ceremony at Cafe di Scala, and brought in wine from Chimney Rock, where our good friend Betty is the winemaker.

The food, including this pesto pizza, went incredibly quickly—it was so delicious! They even accommodated a handful of gluten free guests, which was great.

The feeling of the dinner and being surrounded by our close family and friends eating good food and drinking excellent wine was so lovely. I wish that we had a photo of the desserts because they were lovely too—a citrus panna cotta and a flourless chocolate torte with an almond brittle crust. So delicious!

Photos by the lovely and talented Bethany Kohoutek.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What to Do With a Crate of Beets

One of our goals for this summer is to preserve more produce so that we have more homegrown options during the winter. It's a little tough though, even with a CSA and an abundant backyard garden, because so much of what is at it's peak right now is really hard not to eat right away. 

 Josh helped at the booth of our CSA farmers from Grinnell Heritage Farm on Saturday and came home with the half crate of beets you see at the top, along with zucchini, squash, chard, kohlrabi, and kale. I immediately went for the zucchini and squash, sauteed in olive oil and butter topped with a bit of local Prairie Breeze cheese and salt, but we had to make a plan for the beets—especially the greens. There were about 30 bunches, so there was no earthly way that we could ever eat all of the greens fresh. Beets are one of our favorite veggies though, and we love the greens, so I figured that I should try to freeze them to use in savory pies and stews come winter.

It's a good thing I didn't have anything else planned for Sunday morning because it took a while (not complaining, just stating a fact!). I did a little online research and learned that I needed to blanch them before putting them into freezer bags with as much air sucked out as possible (so that they will turn out sort of like the frozen spinach you can buy at the store). I made a little assembly line—wash, blanch, ice bath, dry on a towel, separate the stems, bag them up. After about two hours, we have three hefty portions of prepared greens, along with two of inch-sized stems, into the deep freeze. 

Josh has plans to pickle many of the actual beets and until them I will keep sneaking one here and there to dice and grate into salads. And so even though I thought, more than once, that eating locally can be a lot of work, I am already glad that we're planning ahead for the months when it will feel like a treat to have these greens.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Photo Friday: My Wedding Dress

In the process of deciding on and then participating in the making of my wedding dress, I learned a few very valuable things. First, that for such a loaded piece of clothing, it made a lot of sense for me to spend a lot of time with it over the past year. By which I mean, I was always somewhat nervous about standing up in front of a lot of people and being the center of attention in a white dress, so to make the dress part feel intimately apart of me and my life helped to make the actual experience of the wedding day a lot more comfortable for me.

The 120 hours that I spent stitching and beading my dress took the mystery out of it. I knew the fabric and the details extremely intimately and when it came right down to it, I was just happy (no, giddy) to get a chance to actually wear it. And for an item that can often lead to emotional stress—crying in dressing rooms when sizes aren't what you are expecting, going through multiple fittings—I managed to avoid most of it. Which I didn't set out to do but which was hugely comforting to me, especially because the finished dress fit me nearly perfectly. 

My dress was always a reminder of the time that I spent with my mom down in Alabama learning to make it with the ladies at Alabama Chanin, of the winter nights that I spent working on it in front of the last season of Mad Men with my then fiance. And I love that.

I also learned that with the dress, among other aspects of the wedding (hair comb, clutch, bouquets, garlands, thank you gifts), I was happier when I was able to actively participate in the making. I liked being involved. To me it wasn't ever "too much"—it was always what I was most comfortable doing. And it came with the added bonus that I was better able to plod through the less enjoyable aspects of wedding planning (mostly the following up with vendors which never seemed to end...) because I knew that I was spending the majority of my time how I wanted to be spending it.

The last thing that I've realized that I learned from making the dress (at this point at least!) was that with it, and actually with our entire wedding, we were able to make it the perfect event for us simply by paying attention to what felt right, what felt like fun. Somehow, I think we ignored most of the rules and expectations (maybe I felt like the weddings I've been to over the years let me off the hook? Not sure) and just focused on creating an event that reflected us and just felt right. Which is a most amazing and remarkable thing to realize in retrospect. After a lot of conversations and changed plans, we wound up having an intimate ceremony in the rose garden where we had our first date, followed by dinner at an Italian restaraunt, which satisfied my deep down desire for a wedding dinner party. Then the next day we had a potluck party in a local state park with bluegrass, square dancing, pie, and a larger group to celebrate with. We got to spend more time with all of the family and friends who traveled in from far away, focus on our goals of good food and music (Josh even sang with the band!), and I got to wear my dress twice!

It was the best wedding I could have ever imagined for us and I can't wait to share more photos with you  next week. Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: What's Growing in Our Garden

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Peek into Our Canoemoon

Hello friends! It's been the most wonderful past three weeks—our wedding was everything that I ever could have hoped for and more, and the honeymoon (which I've deemed the canoemoon) was exactly right. Since I just got the wedding photos and am going to take my time going through them and deciding what to share (though spoiler alert, they are divine and I am so, so grateful to have such a fantastic photographer friend!), I thought I'd show you a little of our post-wedding trip north.

We love quiet, woodsy places and since we didn't want to travel by plane (seemed like more than I would be up for the day after the festivities ended), we headed 8ish hours north to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota. It's a wilderness area with lots and lots of lakes way up by the Canadian border.

We rented a cabin for a week at Hungry Jack Outfitters which allowed us to cook delicious meals, sit on this lovely dock, swim, canoe, hike, and watch the sunset. And read, play Scrabble, read some more, sit quietly (me), and play the guitar (Josh). We camped for most of the second week, which meant mornings waking up to a foggy lake and dinners cooked over a campfire.

We had two entirely fantastic meals at the Angry Trout Cafe in nearby Grand Marais, each of which included a slice of pie from Lola's Sweet Life Bakery. And we saw a lot of waterfalls.

After almost exactly a year of getting ready for the wedding, having two weeks completely offline was the most perfect vacation I could ever ask for. I loved getting to slow down, be quiet, talking about our wedding memories while we paddled our canoe, and explore a new area—so much so that it's been a little hard to get back into the swing of normal life. But we came home to a garden that was absolutely bursting at the seams, and I had a new job to look forward to going back to yesterday (a food editor position with Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Media), so all will be well.

I will share wedding photos soon and share more about the experience, but for now I'll close by sending an enormous amount of thanks to our family and friends for all of their help and support, laughter and hugs, during the wedding. We couldn't have done it without you all!