Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow White Cakes

Good thing I'm not planning a wedding after seeing this window display at Bergdorf Goodman yesterday. My keep it simple cupcake decorating strategy would have been ruined. 

photo by Chris

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Wedding Registry, exposed


One of the parts of wedding planning that Chris and I fought about the most was the gift registry. It was a task bound to be fraught with tension. Chris and I have different styles, as any two people do, but disagreeing on things we would use daily in our first home together was worrisome. I was also wary of how it would look if we asked for too much, or things that were too expensive. But people were going to give us gifts, and some of them would want some guidance. What in the world should we ask for? 

Neither of us love to support big box stores, and those are the kinds of stores where most couples seem to register. We didn't need much, so it didn't seem to make sense to register for a bunch of things (you know, kitchen things, decorative things, small appliance things) with one store. With a little help from Lori, who found this post on Brooklyn Bride, we decided to use myregistry.com. It seemed like the perfect solution. Myregistry allows users to add items from any website or any store to a registry in their name, and at no charge for hosting the registry. 

Let me say right away it is not a perfect site. There were a few technical problems, such as some difficulty loading photos (a photo of a deep-dish lasagna pan that we registered for mysteriously popped up on the site after repeatedly refusing to load months ago). Also, several times people purchased items and attempted to mark them as purchased, but the site instead added to the quantity requested. Oops. Chris figured out that to correct it we had to go in and change the original number of the item we requested, and in some cases this even required a negative number. 

But we were willing to put up with a few technical difficulties because using it allowed us to register for this.
 

Instead of registering for a set of dishes at a chain store, we were able to register with White Bike Ceramics in Brooklyn. Lauren, the artist, let us pick out a beautiful set of handmade porcelain dishes. My favorite so far is this beautiful platter. 


We were also given two teacup and saucer sets that are perfect for sipping cup after cup of hot tea when your heat is broken. This weekend we'll go to Lauren's studio in Williamsburg to pick up our plates and bowls. 


We weren't sure how our friends and family would react to our registry being a little unusual. It wasn't completely atypical; we love to cook and certainly registered for a few pots and pans at a typical wedding registry store, and we are loving cooking with them. But having the flexibility to pick gifts from any store really allowed us to carefully select only items that we were willing to pack up and move into a tiny New York apartment.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Homemade Sushi

Chris and I have been experimenting with rolling sushi at home. When we lived on the Outer Banks it was so easy to get great seafood. I could stop by the seafood market on my way home from work, or Chris would check his crabpots and we'd have fresh blue crab meat. My favorite rolls last summer had fried shrimp or softshell crab in them. 


Our neighborhood in Brooklyn has a large Polish population. Greenpoint has plenty of meat markets, with sausages and smoked fish, but so far we haven't found a good place to buy fresh fish in the neighborhood. 

Last night we made veggie and smoked salmon rolls. We used cucumber, green onion, carrots, cream cheese, and smoked salmon. 




Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Since it's our first Christmas together and we're in a new place, Chris and I have been trying to think of something extra Christmas-y to get us ready for the holiday. 

So far we have come up with nil. 

But then this afternoon something magical happened. The biggest snowflakes we've ever seen fell in Brooklyn. Here's a video of our backyard.


video

Monday, December 15, 2008

Warming up

While our heat was broken we stayed warm by preparing meals that required long baking times. I made this spanakopita using the recipe in Amy Sedaris's book I Like You. 
Here it is with some leftover wedding wine. That's one thing that wedding books and blogs don't tell you--agonizing over all those wedding decisions really does pay off because you get to have leftover wedding stuff when you're broke and unemployed in New York City. 


I also made some pizza dough and used it to make a pizza roll with ham, cheddar, and pineapple. I used this recipe, but ignored the instructions for the filling and made up my own. This is the second time I've made a pizza roll, but I don't think I'll make it again. The outside of the crust gets over done while the inside is still doughy and undercooked. Next time I make homemade dough I'll do a calzone or just a pizza. 

photo by Chris 

The undercook/overcook problem may be caused by our oven. I think it may run hot. Also, the knob is slightly askew, so really I've just been guessing while setting the temperature. I probably need to get an oven thermometer before I start baking Christmas cookies. Amy Sedaris was on The Splendid Table yesterday and said that her favorite Christmas cookies were butter cookies with frosting made from the recipe on the back of the Domino's powdered sugar box. Guess who wants me to make those? 

Our heat is now working. The boiler is fixed, and Chris and Andy fixed the radiator in the living room. It hadn't worked since we moved in, and they were stumped...until this bit of inspiration came along. It turns out that when the radiator was painted (in a glossy chrome), paint was slopped right over the pressure relief valve, and air wasn't able to get out to make room for the steam bubbling up from the boiler. 



Monday, December 8, 2008

The Smallest Christmas Tree Ever

So this is our first Christmas together and I thought we needed a tree, or a wreath, or something. We went to a studio sale in Williamsburg (Brooklyn, not Colonial) on Saturday to pick up some White Bike Ceramics* that our family and friends gave us as wedding presents. The studio sale was a combination of a few artists, and we found this pot with the smallest, most perfect Christmas tree ever. 


It is a Norfolk Island Pine. I think the artist did a great job, not only with the pot, but he planted it and added moss on top of the soil and also added a couple of teeny pine cones. We brought it home and I decorated it with the wedding cupcake topper turned Christmas ornaments that Lori made for us. 


Christmas decorating--done. 

As predicted, our streak of good luck is broken, among other things. The heat in our apartment is broken, and will be until Wednesday. (Don't worry Mom--our very nice landlady brought us an electric heater which is keeping us from freezing.) Also, this morning the toaster broke. It had a Pop Tart logo on it, so it wasn't a stalwart toaster or anything, no huge loss there. There is a family joke about my fastidious Great Uncle Henry setting out to buy a toaster and researching toasters for at least a year before deciding on a brand and model. No small feat, considering he was most certainly not using the internet, but instead searching back issues of Consumer Reports. The punch line? My parents just happened to own the winning make and model toaster. 

*I'll be posting soon about the beautiful porcelain dishes that Lauren is making for us. In the meantime, check out her lovely website.
 



Saturday, December 6, 2008

I Should Have Known

Of the 15 channels we can tune in on our television using rabbit ears, 3 are in Spanish. I knew I should have paid attention during those 4 years of Spanish in high school. If I had I could be enjoying watching Clint Eastwood's En la Linea de Fuego right now. 

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Brooklynite

So we missed the lighting of the tree at Rockefeller Center last night. But we had a New York experience this morning. During breakfast we were listening to the local NPR station broadcasting a call in show about MTA raising rates for the subway or beginning to toll the Brooklyn bridge when Rosie Perez called in to speak up for the Brooklynites. 

And Chris is circling the neighborhood looking for a parking space. Very New York. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

One Month Ago Today

I can't believe one month ago today I was nervous about our wedding. If only I could have known then how perfectly everything was going to turn out, I could have skipped all the worrying. If only I could have known that after a week of a nor'easter bearing down on the Outer Banks, and the forecast saying showers, showers, showers for Saturday, that our wedding day was actually going to be 70 degrees and sunny. If only I could have known that my hair, dress, shoes, makeup, etc. were all going to be just fine and were going to be the last thing I cared about that day. If only I could have known that instead of standing up in front of everyone I know and weeping throughout the ceremony, I would be grinning like a crazy woman. 

If only I'd known I would have been feeling like this much sooner:


I really surprised myself with how relaxed and happy I felt on our wedding day. Of course Chris had a lot to do with that. Here is Chris on our way back from our honeymoon in Ocracoke. We were out on the point at Cape Hatteras, east of absolutely everything. 



It's been one month since my last post and in that time Chris and I got married, went on a fabulous honeymoon, drove to Brooklyn and searched for an apartment, found an apartment we loved and signed the lease, drove back to the Outer Banks, packed up all of our stuff and U-Hauled it back to Brooklyn (thanks Dad for driving with us!)! Now we are surrounded by boxes that need to be unpacked. Oh yeah, we celebrated Thanksgiving with my family somewhere in there too. I'll be blogging about each of these events as soon as possible, but I'll spare everyone the drudgery of reading about unpacking box after box and instead post pictures of our backyard. Yeah, we have a backyard. In Brooklyn. Good things keep happening to us, like today when we discovered that the subway stop that is two blocks away from our apartment isn't even the closest stop--there is an entrance just one block away. Oh, yeah. 

Someone will probably sneeze right on me the next time we go out, or a mouse will run across the foot of the bed tonight, but for now, things just keep getting better. 


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Wedding Wrap

I finished my wedding wrap with time to spare. If it's freezing on our wedding day (exactly one week from today!) I'm covered with the wrap, which I knitted with bamboo yarn. Now I can worry about everything else for the next week, like how in the world I'm going to iron my dress without setting fire to it.
I know I'm supposed to settle down and not worry about the details at this point, but instead my stomach is in knots. 




I've been able to let go of a few worries along the way. Like when I realized in the middle of knitting this wrap that the colors exactly match a pair of Lands' End wool socks that I own. 



This is the first garment I've knitted (not counting hats and scarves) and I'm happy with it--I don't care if it looks like I started to knit a sweater and gave up. 

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Moving Day for Bagheera

Chris's cat, Bagheera, moved in with my parents this week, in preparation for our move to Brooklyn. He has always lived in the 30-foot radius surrounding Chris's apartment so I was worried about how he might adapt to moving 3 miles away. Also, there's Rudee, our big brown dog, to contend with. (By the way, I feel like a traitor posting pictures of Bagheera before I ever posted a picture of Rudee. She's jealous enough already.)  But everything is fine so far for Bagheera. 



There have been a few face-offs between Bagheera and Rudee. Rudee sticks her nose in Bagheera's face and Bagheera sticks his nose out to meet hers, and Rudee jumps back as if he struck her. He's tough, and was always getting into fights in his old neighborhood. Chris read that you can tell how your cat handles fights by where their wounds are: wounds on the hindquarters means that they were struck while running away, and wounds on the face means they were facing their opponent head-on. A few weeks ago Bagheera got into a fight and his eye was wounded and totally swollen shut. He's healed now, but he has battle scars on his nose, ears, and close to his eyes from all of his many scuffles. He's a head-on fighter for sure.

I hope he'll get along okay in his new neighborhood. He's fitting in to his new household pretty well. He's putting on a brave face and ignoring Rudee for the most part, though I've seen him tiptoe past her on more than one occasion. Here he is making himself at home. 




By the way, that is a wedding project on the coffee table in front of him--our mixed CD we'll be giving as a wedding favor. Chris put together a playlist of our most favorite songs that will also be on the wedding reception playlist, and then we arranged them. He designed the cover and printed them, cut them out, scored the folds and we glued them together. Chris has a history of making mixed CD's for our friends for different occasions, so this is the perfect favor for us to give. I have mixed CD's for all the birthdays I've had since since we met, so I can't wait to add this one to the collection.  



Monday, October 20, 2008

Magnolia

This is the tree we'll get married under. 



These are the bricks we'll stand on. 


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Michael and Sarah got married!

Last weekend our friends Michael and Sarah got married. They had a fabulous wedding. They rented a house on the sound and the ceremony and reception was all held outdoors. 

The photo above is from their choreographed first dance. They had a good friend choreograph the dance and teach it to them. There was a move from Dirty Dancing and some breakdancing on Michael's part. It was awesome. Sarah said it was her favorite part of wedding planning. 

It was really fun to be planning our wedding at the same time as these two. When they came to town to plan (they live in D.C. and were planning a "destination" wedding on the Outer Banks; we live in the destination) we compared notes and commiserated. On the day of their wedding they kept saying, "you guys are next and we're ready!" I can't wait to be in their position: wedding wrapped up and honeymoon on. 

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hey Loverbun

Chris and I went to Sanctuary Vineyards today to meet up with Brooke Mayo (our wedding photographer) for an engagement shoot. Brooke calls it a Lover Buns Session. It was the most fun. She zoomed us around the vineyards in her little red car and we posed for pictures all over the place. 

Check it out on Brooke's blog

Monday, October 6, 2008

Beer Decision '08




Here are the beers we considered for the wedding, from left to right: Dogfish Head 60-minute IPA, Bell's Two Hearted Ale, Big Boss Hell's Belle, The Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout, and Highland Gaelic Ale. We decided to get small kegs for the wedding reception, with the exception of a few cases of Bud or Michelob to keep the Joe six-packs happy. Just kidding: I'm not adopting that phrase. I think using kegs will create less waste and make clean-up easier for our caterer. Trash bags full of beer bottles are not fun to tote to the dumpster. Plus, we both really like draft beer. 

Chris picked up the above beers at Chip's and we had a tasting. Oh, the tortures of wedding planning! They are all excellent beers, but in the end we chose Bell's Two Hearted Ale (Chris's favorite IPA) and The Duck Rabbit Milk Stout (this is just great beer). For a Hefeweizen pick (my favorite style of beer) I think we will have a keg filled at our local brew pub. It just happens to be America's only wind-powered brew pub. Two out of our three picks are North Carolina beers, which makes us happy. Next up: Adventures in Wine Tasting as we search for an incredibly cheap, but actually pretty tasty red wine. 

If you watched the Biden/Palin debate last week you might enjoy this video, featuring Queen Latifah. 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The hand towel that wouldn't knit itself

When I started this blog I thought knitting projects would be a major component of my posts. Only I was working on one project at the time, and for months afterward. It's a hand towel in a cool moss grid pattern from the the first Mason-Dixon Knitting book. Don't get me wrong. I love the way the pattern looks, once knitted. But while knitting...I can't tell you how many stitches I had to pick back until I discovered where I had gone wrong, how many rows I ripped out, and how often I just didn't want to pick up this project and start knitting because I had to pay attention to every stitch and mark off every row. I guess I like to knit on auto-pilot. But still, I love this moss grid pattern. 

Here is the towel in March. 



Here it is in September. Finished. Finally. 




Now that this is behind me, I've begun a project with a much simpler pattern (stockinette stitch I love you). It is a wrap to wear over my wedding dress in case it is chilly on Nov. 8. (The average high for that date in Manteo, North Carolina is 65 degrees. If I knit the wrap it will be warm. If I knit the wrap it will be warm.) 

This is a very deadline-driven project. It will also be the first wearable item that I've knitted that isn't a hat or a scarf, but fortunately the ladies at Knitting Addiction have come up with an easy pattern just for me. No sleeves! No keeping track of rows! No difficult patterns! Will I make it in time? 

Thursday, September 25, 2008

45 Days to the Wedding!


Yikes! It's only 45 days to the wedding. It totally snuck up on me. Earlier I was thinking that it might be getting close to 50 days before the wedding and then I discovered that the 50-day mark had come and gone. 

I would feel worried if I hadn't gotten two major wedding-related headaches out of the way today. First, our wedding reception venue required us to secure extra insurance for the event. Done, today, and my mom and dad deserve all of the credit. I cringe when I read wedding blogs where the couple refuse to let their parents be involved at all in the wedding planning. I can't imagine planning all of this without the support and input my parents have offered. 

After the insurance was in order my dad and I set out to secure the many requirements necessary to procure a limited special occasion permit with the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. Yeah. It was hoot. There was the trip to the courthouse, where I had to purchase a copy of my criminal record check, a trip to the bank to have my signature notarized...you get the idea. Not fun, but it's done! 

Now we can move on and get down to the really difficult wedding planning tasks, like waiting for the bridesmaids' gifts to arrive in the mail and choosing the red wine that we'll serve at the reception (legally, thanks to the limited special occasion permit). I think we'd better try many, many different bottles. Anyone have any favorite budget red wines? Right now I like Hacienda.

While we were working on the red tape, Chris was vacationing with his family. On Monday I made apple pies with some fresh apples that were grown right next door to his parents' house. They brought them to us when they came to town for the bridal shower, and I sent a pie back with Chris. Delicious! I had all intentions of making my own pie crust so I could try out my new marble rolling pin that I received as a shower gift. I had to let go of that idea so I wouldn't spend the whole day making pies, but I did use the rolling pin to stretch the store-bought crust over the apple filling. That counts, right?  

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Beaupty Parlor

As the wedding date gets closer I have had to face the ugly truth: I know nothing about makeup. I've been working on a makeup strategy for the wedding day and it's been difficult because I never wear makeup. Occasionally over the years I made the resolution to invest more time and effort in my appearance and not just go out of the house looking like I did when I rolled out of bed. The result of the resolution is always the same: I wear mascara or lipstick for about three days, then I go back to leaving the house looking pretty much like I did when I rolled out of bed. When I met the future husband I happened to be wearing mascara that night and it was a real thorn in my side because then I had to wear mascara for the next few dates. 

I'm not sure when this happened because when I was younger I was very interested in makeup. My skill at creating beauty was evident at a very young age, as the founder, owner, and operator of a front porch beauty, oh excuse me, beaupty parlor. 




In third grade I wore blue eye shadow to school every day. Too bad the old makeup tricks from my younger days just aren't working for me now. 




So I've done a few trial runs with makeup for the wedding and it's working out okay so far. I found the most amazing mascara with the help of this beauty blog. My sister Kate was in town and helped me try out some looks. She prefers a dramatic eye. Here she is practicing her technique on one of our neighbors when we were kids. 




I was really worried about wearing makeup to the wedding until we met with our photographer. She dispelled the rumor that it's necessary to wear lots of makeup for photographs, and even said that she recommended a very natural look. It was just what I wanted to hear. I want to wear the kind of makeup that looks like you're wearing no makeup at all but you look your best. Makeup that makes you look like you just walked out of yoga class. If anyone knows where to buy this I'd love to hear about it. In the meantime the trials will continue, but with less fervency, and much, much better mascara. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Luncheonette


My bridal luncheon was last Saturday. It was amazing--the food! the drinks! the gifts! the games! The photo above was the toilet-paper bridal gown game. The team that dressed Olivia, my friend Judy's daughter, won of course. I tried to get my niece Rylee to be a toilet-paper bride contestant but she was having none of it. "You be the big bride," she said. 

The luncheon was hosted by my sister Kate, my friend Lori, and my soon-to-be sister-in-law Ashley. They totally spoiled me. The food they made was so good. Food is always my favorite part of any event, but this was an exceptional spread. We had tomato pie, deviled eggs, hot pimiento cheese, BLT dip, buffalo chicken dip, chicken salad sandwiches, ham biscuits, coconut cupcakes, and a mimosa punch. There was a reporter at the newspaper where I used to work who would list every single item on the buffet at any event she was covering, and no, this wasn't in the food section of the newspaper. I totally feel like I'm being her now, but seriously, the food was awesome. You can read more about the shower on Lori's blog. She did a much better job than I of taking pictures that day.  

Ashley coordinated the games, which were the most fun. One was like the newlywed game, where she had asked Chris questions prior to the shower and then asked me the same questions. I thought I would do great at the game, but I just did okay. I knew Chris's favorite food (beans) and his favorite style of beer (IPA). I didn't know that his favorite color is gray--but that explains a lot about the disagreements we've been getting into over our registry. I didn't know his shoe size, but he didn't know mine either. When asked what habit of his I found most annoying I guessed, "he's very, very neat." But he'd answered that he is always on time. Oh, well. My future husband is so "annoying." 

Later that night (in front of god and my future in-laws and everyone) Chris said that one question Ashley had asked was what was the most romantic thing Chris has ever done for me. They wanted me to guess his answer. I thought of the few times that he has brought me something special to eat for lunch at work and how much I liked it. I guess I was trying to think of something bigger, something that would please everyone to hear, something involving flowers, but I couldn't. It turned out that surprising me with lunch at work was what Chris had answered too. I guess that's as romantic as we get. Ashley threw the question out, no way was she going to ask that in front of a roomful of gals all gathered to celebrate our union. The way Chris and I are together is much harder to fit into a newlywed game question. We're the best of friends, and we support each other and have lots of fun together and all that is very romantic; it's not a big, grand gesture but lots of little ones that all add up to being very happy. Except when we're arguing over all of the gray stuff that Chris wants to put on our registry. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Day after Labor Day



Ahhhh, September. Chris and I celebrated the end of the summertime tourist season by taking a dip in the ocean and then taking a long bike ride, now that we are much less likely to be run off the road by a tourist looking for the Dairy Queen. 

The wedding is just over two months away and we are making great progress, people. The wedding invitations are being printed. I'm hard at work on addressing the invitations in calligraphy (5 down, 95 to go). We chose a cottage to rent for the honeymoon in Ocracoke. I hope it works out, because I must have looked at every cottage on this website twice already. My sister Kate came to visit this weekend and she did a cupcake run--chocolate--and they were awesome.




We now have all of the fabric for the table runners cut, several are pinned, and some are already sewn. My mom and Kate got them started, but Chris did the most measuring and cutting. He took this picture of me cutting the fabric for the last tablecloth, but it's misleading because seriously this is the only one I cut. I did do some ironing, however. 




A few major and minor wedding-related hissy fits out of the way, a couple of freelance articles and photos sent off to the editor, and I feel just like Bahgheerah did this afternoon: 



Saturday, August 23, 2008

We're making arrangements

Today we experimented a little with arranging some of the flowers I'm growing for the wedding. This is one of the fun wedding planning details that I need to invest my time and energy in, instead of letting Miss Manners* get me down. 

I need to be more vigilant about cutting the blooms, because removing them means the plant will put more energy into creating new blooms. Plus, we can surround ourselves with beautiful, homegrown fresh flowers in the meantime. 




Remember the seeds that I planted? Almost all of the containers are blooming now. We have zinnias and globe amaranths. The only seeds that aren't blooming yet are the cornflowers and coneflowers. I love the color combinations in these arrangements. 

My mom did this arrangement. It was her idea to use the spiky greenery and the thyme. I love it! I took this into work so everyone can enjoy it. Maybe it will help us all get through this last week of August. 




The zinnias are supposed to bloom through the fall. To be sure we have some nice blooms for the wedding I need to do a second seed planting. I planted half of these in early June and the other half in late June. I don't want the plants to be spent by November 8! 




*This book really has a lot of very sensible advice. Advice like: the wedding is not a show you're putting on, the wedding day should not be the best day of your life, the wedding day is not just the bride's day; are all ideas that I can get behind. Only when I got to the chapter on engraved invitations, and how engraved was the only way to go, and how gauche any other option would be that I got a little P.O.'ed with Miss Manners. Which isn't very mannerly, now is it? 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Corollahhh

After I begged and pleaded, Chris agreed to go up to Corolla with me today.  I needed to do some research at the Whalehead Club and the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education for an article I'm writing. Several months ago Chris mentioned that he'd like to tour the Whalehead Club and I helpfully reminded him of it yesterday. I'm sure he never meant that he would like to tour the Whalehead Club in August when Corolla is teeming with tourists, but oops, my deadline for the article is next week. 




There was hardly anyone else touring the Whalehead Club, which was fortunate. We took a tour with an audio guide, and it was well done. 

The grounds of the place really was covered with tourists. Tourists on bicycles, tourists pushing baby strollers, tourists with screaming children, etc. The usual mix. We watched a couple of families crabbing. While we were watching them catch a crab, another family walked up and watched as well. Their six year old little girl asked in a bored tone, "why are we just standing here?" 

We figured that her parents let her watch a lot of TV. She needs excitement, and she needs it now. I hope they never take her crabbing. If she can't make it through the part where you're catching a crab she'll never survive the part where you're waiting to catch a crab. 




We also watched this guy fishing. 





The Currituck Beach Lighthouse. 




The Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education was the best thing we did today and had the most information I could use for my article. We watched a film about the history of the Currituck beaches. We watched as the director of the Whalehead Club was filmed saying that the Club "represented the influx of wealthy industrialists to the area," as we sat in the theater, surrounded by tourists from New York and New Jersey. 

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ladies who Luncheon



My sister is planning a bridal shower luncheon for me next month, and I just got the invitation today. She designed and drew the postcard invites. She wanted the design to be a surprise and wouldn't show it to me before mailing them out. I loved coming home today and finding it in the mail. 

I can't wait for September 13! 

Thursday, July 31, 2008

100 Days to the Wedding!

Chris and I were taking a short break from wedding planning for the past week or so. It was getting to the point where it was all wedding, all the time. It was my idea to take a break but it wasn't too tough to get Chris to agree to it.

Now the planning is back on, with just 100 days to go! 

I planted flower seeds back in June with the hopes that I could use some of the cut flowers for the wedding. Everything I planted is labeled as blooming through the fall or until frost. I can't get too attached to any particular bloom because some or even all of them may not be doing well at that time. (Luckily we have a local flower farm nearby, and we'll be talking to Dorothy about what she'll have available in the fall.) I thought the "green envy" zinnias I planted would be my favorite flower. I couldn't wait when I saw this first bud. 


Here are the flowers. I love the color when they first bloom. Now some of the pink and red zinnias are starting to bloom and I think they will be a great complement to the green.  


I'm going to bake cupcakes for the wedding. Here is my second test batch of carrot cake cupcakes. The recipe I used called for adding a little crushed pineapple and it was great. This was my first try using decorating tips for the icing. I'll be testing some chocolate cake recipes next, as per request from Chris. If anyone knows any good chocolate cake recipes I'd love to hear about them. 


Another big wedding project I'll be working on is sewing table runners. I finally found this fabric to use. The pattern is called Bavarian Toile. Just finding the fabric was a long project. I liked these Amy Butler patterns, but Chris didn't love any of them. "Too girly." We even spent hours in a fabric store one day and left with nothing. I think finally settling on a fabric is what made me feel like we deserved a break from wedding stuff. 


Here's a close-up. So now all I have to do is take these 11 yards and sew 13 table runners. Easy, right? 


I know that I was worried that planning a wedding in 5 months wouldn't be enough time, but now I can't imagine mulling over all these decisions for a year or more! Deadlines are my friend. 

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gorgonzola!



This is my new favorite veggie meal. Chris deserves all the credit. Okay, maybe Ocean Boulevard deserves a little credit, because the inspiration for this meal came from a dinner we had there last spring. 

Kale recently replaced collards as my favorite leafy green. I wash it well, remove the stem in the middle of the leaves, and tear the leaves up a bit. I put a little butter into a pan and add the kale. Once it has cooked for a few minutes I add a little honey and balsamic vinegar, cook for another minute or two and it's done! 

To go with the kale for our dinner pictured above, Chris dabbed a little olive oil on some slices of bread and toasted them. Then he caramelized some onions and topped it all off with some gorgonzola cheese. 

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Pastoral Outer Banks

Here's a shot of a cow-bird symbiosis unfolding in Currituck County. When we first drove by one the birds was sitting on the cow's back. 



Chris and I went kayak fishing on the Mann's Harbor side of the old bridge. Here is Chris catching bait with his cast net. 




He caught several fish for live bait, but we didn't catch anything with our poles. According to Chris we should have gotten started at 5 a.m., which didn't happen. This is probably never going to happen. We paddled around instead. 

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Harbinger Lavender Farm



My mom and I visited the Harbinger Lavender Farm for their Open House last Saturday. It is a small family farm where they grow lavender (using no chemicals) and make products with dried lavender and lavender oils. We even had lavender lemonade and lavender sugar cookies. They grow Provence and Grosso varieties at the farm. 




The farm is located across the bridge from the Outer Banks in Currituck County, so they have sandy soil just like we do. The plants love it. The lavender ladies recommend mulching with white sand or gravel for the sun to reflect light and keep the plants dry. The humidity of our area is a challenge for them -- at the farm they set the plants wider apart so that air can circulate around them.  




The ladies recommend that lavender plants receive at least six hours of sun per day and excellent drainage. In the fall they prune their plants by one-third into a dome shape. In late winter they add lime to their fields. 

After looking around we hit the field and clipped a bunch of lavender to bring home to dry. Hang lavender upside down to dry so the stems remain nice and straight. Drying will take about two weeks. At the farm they hang their bundles in an old barn that is dark, dry, and well-ventilated. They propped the door open and I took a picture. It smelled great in there.