Archive | February, 2011

The wedding cupcake.

28 Feb

It’s a dreary Monday and I’d like to brighten up your day a bit with this post. Have I told you all much about our wedding details? No? Well, that’s probably because I’m not exactly on top of things. But we have been pretty darn excited about the whole dessert shebang at the wedding.

I really dislike traditional wedding cakes. Fondant drives me crazy, and unless you have awesome sleuthing skills or connections, it’s tough to find a genuinely finger-licking good cake with any sort of budget.

But finger-licking good cupcakes are right down the street from us. These cupcakes have a special place in my heart, because they were the first vegan dessert I ever had that was better than its non-vegan counterpart. I was one of those baking snobs who thought that without eggs and butter, it just wasn’t worth it. Boy was I wrong.

These cupcakes (from Molly’s Cupcakes) are the one sweet I will never be able to give up. In the warmer months, we love walking our dog to their outdoor patio some Sunday mornings and drinking our coffee with two cupcakes to go. So it seemed fairly obvious to us that some kind of cupcake table could be epic, and leave no one missing the so-called quintessential wedding cake. Since we’re getting married here in the city we’re looking forward to introducing all of our guests to Molly’s – we hope everyone else loves them as much as we do!
I haven’t found my perfect dessert-table set up yet (okay, I did a Google search during this post and it didn’t turn anything amazing up. I’m a wedding slacker) but this is my favorite so far – I love the thought of simple serving trays or cake stands with little calligraphy cards to tell you what flavor each cupcake is.
For the newlyweds out there, what did your dessert table look like? Did you incorporate anything out of the ordinary?

Sleepy puppy.

26 Feb

What do they know? My giant “eff you” to the wedding world.

23 Feb

I’m really excited – giddy, actually – about our marriage. Some days, I’m even excited about the wedding. The day that we found our venue, for instance, or the first time I spun around in my wedding dress. I love when wonderful friends (Layla!) pass along bits of their wedding, because it makes me feel like ours will not be this one overly-hyped day, but a part of something bigger. It makes me happy when R gets excited about something wedding-related, like the day that he spent hours listening to local bands and contacting them to see if they’d play a wedding on our budget.

These are all things that came about fairly organically. I wasn’t really seeking them out, they just happened. They were done kind of stealthily, before everyone had an opinion on where we should get married, who should officiate, what I should wear, who should be in the bridal party, what food should be served, who should (or should not) be invited, what our favors should be, and a zillion other things that I am not listing but are really, definitely topics of conversation.

My reaction to all of this has been, essentially, not to plan for the wedding. I just keep telling people who are wedding troublemakers that we’re too far out to even think about it. If you’re not on that black list of crazy, then I may just be willing to talk about the wedding.

But when I think about our wedding day, I’m excited for things like seeing all of our friends and family, sharing our vows with everyone, having a blast on the dancefloor, and getting some truly kick-ass photos. Can everyone just stick to those details, please? Because the other ones, the ones where only certain veil lengths are proper, and getting married in our city is an incovenience, and *gasp* the lack of a wedding cake are making me want to pull my hair out and elope.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not something I dwell on often. We still talk about our life and our marriage much more (oh, and the honeymoon. What’s not perfect about Paris?) than we discuss the wedding.

So, as a remedy to all this wedding crazy, I want to share with you all a little about our relationship. We’ve been through quite the ups and downs, through the angsty high school years, the transition to college and adulthood, and the stress of finding careers. We’ve had those months where we didn’t know how we could possibly make ends meet financially, and the string of days where one of us was always working or in classes, and it felt like we were perpetually waving at each other on our way out. But we’ve been pretty good at keeping our standards directed at our relationship, and putting the other person first.

One of our old fights that we constantly rehashed was the good old lack of communication. I admit it, I was a hinter. I thought that somehow, he would know what I meant when I dropped a hint, and I got upset when he didn’t pick up on it. Then he would get mad that I was mad, and he’d storm out of the room or go silent. Which only infuriated me more, because I felt like he was giving up on the situation. There were some pretty stormy months like that, and it took sitting down and establishing how to fight fairly to actually eliminate most of our fights. Now they honestly don’t happen much unless one of us hasn’t  had enough coffee that morning. And really, who can be blamed for that?

The aspect of our relationship that has, without a doubt, kept us happy more than any other is how we spend our together and alone times. We don’t have the spending money to have an actual date night, but we love to plan dinners at home, take walks together, and sit at outdoor cafes for hours on summer mornings. That is our time, and when we’ve agreed upon it we don’t let life get in the way of it. Those days are so important to me, because they help me sort out my week and make sense of what’s going on in my life.

Almost equally important is the time we spend apart. There is something to be said for having independent relationships with friends apart from other couple friends, and I think I’d go insane without coffee dates, brunches, and girls’ nights.

On the surface, it seems like this is just regular relationship stuff. And it is, undoubtedly. I’m sure everyone works out their own system of what works. But this is the stuff of our marriage. Because at this point, marriage is just a public statement of our commitment, and an acknowledgement of that commitment from society. Marriage will not change what we already have, it will just solidify it. I love waking up in the morning to my best friend and the person I love right now just as I will through the years of our marriage – and that is why no amount of crazy wedding talk truly gets me down, even though it can be all sorts of annoying. Because really, it’s the marriage that matters to us.

Design envy.

21 Feb

We have one rug in our entire hardwood floored apartment. It’s in the bathroom, because who wants to get out of the shower with no rug? Beyond that, not even the kitchen sink area gets a rug. Why? Partially because I’m prone to tripping when I cook, and the rug we had there from the previous tenants kept getting under my feet. Also because in order to fill our kitchen you just have to stick both arms straight out. Ta-da! You’ve measured out my kitchen. Have I mentioned that we have one counter, and that it’s not even as deep as a regulation counter? Okay, that’s a gripe for another time. (PS, the apartment is worth it because it has gorgeous architecture and a beautiful living room.)

About that living room – it’s the room we poured all of our design dollars into. We moved in with next to no useable furniture after years of living with roommates. Our couch the previous year had been a family friend’s gift, and it was a huge La-Z-Boy style monstrosity. Great for four broke college students sharing a massive two bedroom apartment, not so great for two broke college students sharing a small one bedroom. It wouldn’t even fit in the door to our new building, let alone up the stairs.

Enter our new couch. It’s from Anthropologie, and it’s the antithesis of the tan La-Z-Boy beast of a couch. It’s cute, comfortable, and definitely a statement piece:

I love it, and it works well with our variety of wood finishes (pine, walnut, espresso and white. I’m indecisive) in the room but there’s just not much room for another bold pattern. Which is why I’m sitting here today trying to reconcile by love of this rug via Design*Sponge:

It’s gorgeous and if you look closely, it’s made up of tiles that fit together instead of one big rug, allowing you to create different sizes depending on preference. I love the way they don’t match up completely perfectly, and I love how bold the pattern is. Of course, until we either reupholster the couch (which I wouldn’t do for a long time, because I love it) or move into a place that has a bedroom big enough to actually fit a rug, this won’t work. Sad!

Do you have any design pieces that you are crazy for but just can’t make work in your current home?

Sweet potato gratin.

16 Feb

One of my many (many, many) least favorite things about winter is the heavy meals. They’re usually centered around dense foods like pasta that leave me feeling heavy and gross. We try to eat seasonally (and locally, although we’re still looking for a good CSA that’s in our price range) so healthy meals are often a challenge.

Today I’m sharing with you one of my very favorite solutions to that problem. It’s a little recipe that we found in Vegetarian Times, all incognito and picture-less. I didn’t have very high hopes for it, because though it sounded tasty, I didn’t think it could be filling. It rings in at only 143 calories per slice (sometimes, when you’re a vegan, you have to make yourself eat more. It’s a curse, I swear. And then you discover things like Daiya and vegan cookies and it’s all over.)

So, here you go – don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Sweet Potato Gratin

2 tbs olive oil, divided

3 medium leeks, white and light green parts chopped (6 c.)

3 cloves of garlic, minced (1 tbs)

3 tbs fresh chopped rosemary, divided

2 medium sweet potatoes (2 lbs), peeled and cut into 1/8″ slices

1/2 c low sodium vegetable broth

4 tbs bread crumbs

Italian seasoning, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450. Coat a casserole dish with olive oil spray (or, if you’re me, put a few drops in there and spread it around). Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high flame. Add the leaks, garlic, and 1 1/2 tbs of rosemary. Saute for 8 minutes until softened. Season with salt and pepper if you’d like.

Arrange 1/3 of the sweet potato slices over the bottom of the casserole dish, overlapping them slightly. Spread half of the leek mixture on top. Arrange another third of the sweet potato slices, and continue alternating with the rest of your mixture. Drizzle the vegetable broth over the top of your mixture, cover the pan with lid or foil, and bake for 35 minutes.

Stir together the breadcrumbs, remaining olive oil and rosemary, and italian seasoning. Remove cover from the dish and sprinkle your breadcrumbs on top. If you have a small, deep dish, you may want to mix some of the bread crumbs into the mixture (I do this.) Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, or until the bread crumbs are browned and crisp.

Something sweet.

15 Feb

I’ve been working on a little photo project for an upcoming endeavor, and I thought I’d share a little snapshot from it. I can’t wait to tell you guys more about it, but I don’t want to jinx myself just yet!

Makeover!

14 Feb

What do you guys think about the new look around here? I absolutely love it, and Rachel from just b.CAUSE  is to thank – she designed it! And just in time for Valentine’s Day, too! What a wonderful present.

If you’ve never heard of just b.CAUSE, it’s a wonderful volunteer project. Rachel takes commissions for blog designs at a minimal cost (no profit, just charges for CSS code changes on WordPress and her software) and asks that you donate to a favorite charity. She even installs the changes to your site herself, so if you’re CSS-stupid (um, like me) you don’t have to worry.

To date, Rachel has designed many gorgeous sites and raised awareness for some awesome causes. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to go check out her site because she is one awesome girl.

I love Rachel’s commitment to helping out charitable causes. It’s something I don’t talk about nearly enough, but there’s a special place in my heart for not-for-profits. My future sister-in-law and her husband run a wonderful cat rescue, and I see firsthand just how much of that cost they incur themselves for the sake of the animals. Donating money is great, but your time is just as helpful! So if you have a favorite local charity or organization, I highly recommend calling them up and asking if they could use a pair of hands anytime soon.

Thank you.

11 Feb

I have some pretty amazing readers. I always love your comments and e-mails, and lately it’s been evident to me what an awesome network of people we have on here.

So this post is dedicated entirely to you guys. I read a lot of your blogs, but there are some new names around here that I’d love to know more about. And if I already know you, I’d love to learn something new about you. If you’re up to it, leave a little about yourself and a link to your blog (or Twitter or whatever you’d like) so I can be sure to stop by and say hi.

Oh, and if you love the gorgeous letterpress card in that picture as much as I do, be sure to check out Akimbo Design on Etsy, which is full of awesome work!

The plight of a new photographer (or: beware of Craigslist).

10 Feb

At this moment, I’m a photographer caught somewhere between amateur and potential pro. I’ve poured my heart into photographing often, even in the sub-zero temperatures and wind chills we get so often in this lovely Chicago winter. I spend hours reading blogs, Formspring accounts, photojournalism sites, fashion magazines, and Flickr sets for inspiration and guidance. I’ve pretty much put one of my arms (and a leg, too) into starting equipment that is capable in low-light situations. I’ve even bothered my fair share of photographer friends, who are wonderful enough to put up with my non-stop questions and chatter (thanks guys, you know who you are!)

But none of that means much without a portfolio. There’s this terrible in-between place when a photographer doesn’t feel comfortable charging for their time yet, but clients aren’t exactly lining up. In fact, pretty much the only people who are willing to take a chance on such an untested photographer for an engagement shoot are the Craigslist set.

Why is this a big deal? Because it shows. I know it’s not nice to say – after all, I think everyone deserves beautiful photos, even if they don’t have thousands of dollars in their budget, but when you’re looking on Craigslist and for free offers, it usually means photography is not a priority. Sure, maybe there are gems – those people who love photography or are excited about photos but are just that broke – but they’re a rarity.

And to be honest, when you don’t care about your photos, you don’t invest anything into them. It’s like the people who walk around in sweatpants and Uggs all the time with crazy bedhead hair – you don’t look put-together, you look like you just woke up. Off-days around the house are one thing, but judging by the state of my college campus, off-days seem to be everyday for some people.

Why not just bite the bullet and shoot shoot shoot no matter how little someone cares?

Because when a couple looks for a photographer, they often pick those who shoot couples similar to them. I’ll be the first to admit that we did. Our photographer features lots of  diverse couples who aren’t necessarily traditional. Their photos show them in places that mean something to them, and their personalities shine through. Part of that is skill on the photographer’s end, but part of it is the couples’ level of excitement and attachment to the photos. If you’re taking engagement pictures as a way to shut up mom and dad, you’re going to put less into them than if you plan to treasure and display them.

I’ve been trying to find a way around this conundrum for awhile now. Even more challenging is that crazy winter weather that make it kind of dreary and unbearable outside. I flipped back and forth about writing this post, but I’m curious to hear what you all think. If you’re recently married or heading that way, what things did you look for in a photographer? Are there any websites that you scouted most for photogs? And if you are in the industry, how did you get over the initial portfolio hump?


Beautiful.

8 Feb

 

Last night, I took Sunday out around midnight. There was a fresh snowfall and our normally oft-walked street was completely empty. It was absolute magic.

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