Sunday, December 28, 2008
I thought so, so I've been trying to convince Raf that he should start baking bread. I even bought him a book. Surprisingly, he was totally game, but it wasn't until I came across the wonderfulness of Pete Bakes! that Raf finally found his inspiration. If a 24-year old blogging guy can bake amazing looking bread, he could too! Pete makes baking sound too easy and look too tasty to pass up, so Raf tapped into a few recipes found on Pete's blog.
He made this amazing European Peasant Bread for both our December Supper Club and the Holiday Party. I'm in love. It's SO YUMMY!! (The pic at the top is Raf's pre-baked version.)
And because he's the best fiance ever, he also made these French Baguettes to accompany my artichoke dip for our office holiday party. After tasting and realizing they were homemade, our volunteers ensured me that he was "a keeper". :) They were really good too, but way more work, and not as melt in your mouth incredible as the peasant bread.
And because he's ridiculously ambitious (aka: crazy), he also decided to make the Bacon and Leek Quiches for our holiday party. They were a hit, but I liked them a lot better the next morning for breakfast!
Pete's post for Biscuits and Apple Butter was the final motivation I needed to start searching for the tools necessary to start canning in 2009. Mmmm! I'm super excited--we found a canning pot at Goodwill in Coos Bay for $7.99 (not to mention a jar full of wedding silverware). Gotta love a Goodwill deal!
Speaking of canning (or "jarring" as I like to call it), my sister made raspberry jam and paired it with peanut and almond butters (made by a friend who works at a nut plant in Oregon) for Christmas gifts! Needless to say, I was shocked that my only-cooks-mac-and-cheese-from-the-microwave-packet-not-the-box sister made jam!! I guess with all this crazy winter weather, hell actually froze over.
I'm so excited to join the family canning ranks that I'm actually starting a calendar to keep track of seasonality, so I can remind myself of the best time to undertake these (and many other) projects. Here's the calendar I bought off Etsy to help me keep track! (I'll make notes on the back of each month.)
Really long story short--go visit Pete and get inspired to start baking some goodness at home!
While I'll be making our Save the Dates myself (and possibly the invites too), I still can't resist window shopping for the paper portions of our wedding. If I were ordering Save the Dates, I'd probably be hitting up Cheer Up Cherup's Etsy shop. Love her work. Here are a few highlights:
Saturday, December 27, 2008
This year they made the full switch to LED lights. It was AMAZING! So much more vibrant. I was really digging the new purple color.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
If nothing else, I leave you with this photo of Nena and I, taken at the end of the night after our annual holiday party. Wishing you and yours a safe, joyful and restful holiday season. Cheers!
The overall look of the montage is a great tone of red--which we're considering for the wedding. I especially love the color on the sash of the folded up dress in the middle of the (full) photo.
While we're on the topic of Anthro, the Bridal Brigade, and dresses--here are a few I've enjoyed perusing over the past few months: Calliope, Saxifrage, and Natural Sunlight (loving the idea of a slate gray right now too--especially with this token *yellow* sash!)
It's a visual representation of how my brain feels on a regular basis. Especially since trying on two amazing (competing) wedding gowns on Wednesday. (One of which would require a final decision and purchase by December 31st, before it's discontinued. I will of course be out of town all but one day--in which they are closed--between now and then.)
Damn the pointing hands in my brain!! If only it worked more like this:
Horrible, I know. Right? It feels that way, until I remember this incredible little video I first discovered last year. Kaylie recently re-sent it to me, and I really appreciate the reminder--especially this time of year. Helps me feel like less of a scrooge! I know 20 minutes is a lot of time, but trust me, The Story of Stuff is worth every second.
Here's a tiny teaser for you. But don't wimp out--click on the link above and watch the whole thing. Watch it with your family.
I'm really impressed by Raf's family. This year they decided to do Christmas Secret Santa style with whomever will be there on Christmas Eve--turns out just the 5 of them. So they each drew a name, have a limit, and received a wish list for their person. Love it. I've been wanting to encourage my fam to do this for a couple years, but figured it wouldn't fly with my mom. I just can't picture her not spoiling everyone.
I mentioned it this year and Mom suggested we at least try it with the siblings--good idea, but I was too late in the game for this year. And it would still leave out a whole lot of other fam there on the day (that I may still feel obligated to shop for). I think I may try to push it earlier next year though. I had also read about a family that did gifts Secret Santa style with a twist--in addition to having a $ limit, the gift either had to be handmade (not necessarily by the giver) or second hand. Love it even more!
The one concept that still gets me excited about gift giving, despite my current Scrooge-like demeanor, is the Handmade Pledge.
I was fully hoping to be on top of it this year, but again--it's December 20th and I have neither completed a single handmade gift project, nor do I have time to shop and ship from the wonderful Etsy. What to do, what to do...
Saturday, December 13, 2008
And leave it to me to be most excited about a Bamboo Dish Rack with Utensil Holder, rather than a new couch. We (and by "we" I mean "Raf") handwash our dishes 99% of the time. We have a wooden rack that's a sad (cheap) version of this one, but it's getting a little rickety and worse for wear. We actually kind of need a new one. Yes! Excitement in the registry department achieved! I always come around eventually... (Well, almost always.)
Flipping through the catalog also made me realize that I'm going to be WAY more excited about registering if we buy a home before our wedding. We have everything we need for apartment living, but I guarantee we're going to want to upgrade and fill a lot more space with our own stuff once we're in our own place. The good news is--the market is right and it's our plan to be in our own home before summer. Now we just need to find The One.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
If you're thinking of making your own, and have some DIY design skills, check out her blog for a link to buy the magnet backers from Office Depot.
Note: please don't disclude us from your Save the Date mailing list--even if they're not my style, I'll still sport your magnet lovingly on our fridge!
Monday, December 8, 2008
- Anything we need, we already own
- I'm a slow decision maker on all fronts, including shopping for inexpensive items. I don't want just any butter dish from just any store that happens to have the little registry gun, I want a butter dish that I love, most likely from a store that doesn't have registry capabilities. I'd rather shop my little heart out and purchase something that makes me smile everytime I use it, rather than the one they just happen to stock in the store I'm in.
- A lot of the things we really want are high ticket items: couches, coffee table, headboard, art, a brand new car. Ok, just kidding about that last one (at least about registering for it), but you get my point. It would be absurd to register for an $800 couch...unless many people could pitch in for the couch--then it would be awesome!
- I prefer handmade when possible. I also appreciate thoughtful gifts that I didn't ask for, on occasion. (Gasp!) Especially when used, vintage, or handmade.
- I also don't mind second hand. If we're looking for a kitchen mixer, it's not going to hurt my feelings at all if someone gets me one from Craigslist or eBay, rather than Williams Sonoma. In fact, I'll probably appreciate it more--because you were a savvy shopper, and we're consuming less by using pre-owned goods.
See, lots and lots of reasons to hesitate on the typical registry. Could I go crazy in a Crate & Barrel with a registry gun? Of course--I don't have that much will power! But I can assure you that it would be collection of convenience, rather than from the heart.
So anyway, does anyone know of any registries that might fit the following criteria:
- Free to use
- Are able to pull items from anywhere on the web--ideally even non-shopping sites (like photos of a general concept of something we'd like)
- Work like a regular registry--so if one person buys it, others will know
- Include photos of the items in the listing (not through a separate link)
- Allow for "partial purchasing"--pitching in on large ticket items
- Generally pleasing to the eye, and easy to navigate and use
So far we've found 2 sites that meet a portion of the criteria, but none that quite fit all. Felicite allows for partial purchase, but doesn't appear to have photos of the items in the list. TheThingsIWant.com is probably the best I've found so far. The only thing it appears to be missing is the partial purchase option. Big bummer. The cool thing though, is that you can mark an item as "Offline Reserved", which I think means that you're marking it as taken--but not necessarily buying it through the link provided. So maybe you found it cheaper elsewhere, or can gift a used one (from the back of your kitchen cabinet), or are going to make something similar with your own two hands, special for us. :)
When it comes down to it, I suppose we can list more than one registry site in order request a few partial purchase style items elsewhere; most people list multiple department stores so it really wouldn't be any different. It would just be really awesome to be able to have it all (with the capabilities we want) in one place. So if you have any good tips, let us know!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
And, always an added bonus, we made a new friend today! Francisco was another participant in class who was a good time. He flew in from Texas to take the class!! I absolutely love the concept. If you already love to travel, why not learn something new and meet some locals while you're at it...brilliant! He joined us for lunch at this tiny, hilariously down-home, little cafe in the neighborhood, The Hidden City Cafe. My goodness, the food was PERFECT! Highly recommended to venture out here for breakfast or lunch sometime.
Anyway, we have a lot of shopping to do before we can actually experiment with our first batch of soap (cross your fingers we don't forget everything in the meantime). Not only does Cold Process take forever (to cure, not make), but it also costs a small fortune to accumulate the tools necessary to get started--not to mention all the lye, base oils, and essential oils used in every batch of soap. I certainly have a new found respect for the price of handmade, delectable, natural bars of soap.
I'm sure you'll be hearing much more in this department as our adventures in soap making begin...
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I love Christmas music, but I can only listen to it at the holidays, so I play the heck out of it. I realized yesterday after hearing the third version of Baby It's Cold Outside on my holiday playlist that I really like it! Then I was checking out the Gap ads from Julia and got to hear yet another version! Woo hoo! Gotta love Dwight singing and dancing!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Dad came, as always, to celebrate Thanksgiving with us and Raf's family. He enjoys his time catching up with the in-laws, and this year we spent some time thrifting (but only found one new plate! Good news is, he has 6 more super cute ones for me at home!) This year, Dad called ahead to let us know that he found out he could get a permit to cut a Christmas tree for $5! What a steal! Obviously we took him up on the offer, and he brought one for Andy and Shannon too.
More holiday goodness to come...
Side note--I like the red color of Chuck's dress for the Bridal Brigade dresses!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
- The easy blending of our families
- Mashed potatoes and gravy
- Beating Raf in the Battle of the Broccoli Casseroles (mom's recipe beats Cooking Light)
- Fresh cut Christmas trees delivered by Pops
- The first of Ramy's weekly texts that made my heart warm
- Yet another good year
Wishing you a joyful day with family and friends!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Now that Raf and I work just a few miles apart, it no longer made sense to commute 35 minutes each way once our lease was up. So we said a fond farewell to Apt 345 in Fremont yesterday. What will I miss? Dinners on the patio overlooking the lawn and huge trees. The orientation of my project desk, directly behind the couch--so I could craft and watch movies at the same time. Being across the street from the best scrapbook store in the Bay. All the super yummy Indian food.
What am I excited about at the new place? Storage space galore. 1-2 mile commutes. Resuming Neighbor Nites. In-house laundry (I've done 4 loads in 24 hours). Walking to the movies. High ceilings. Being 35 minutes closer to Livermore.
And in response to the question of the hour: what's going to happen to the blog name now that we no longer live in Apt 345? Nothing. It was our first solo place together. It was where we were living when he asked and I said yes.
Plus, I just like the name. :)
Anyway, almost exactly one year ago I spotted (I wouldn't say "met") Shannon for the first time. After a Livermore wine tour to celebrate Julia, Bryan and my birthdays, we grabbed some food at the restaurant where Shannon worked (one of many in the lot where we were parked, but Andy was only interested in one--surprise, surprise). I would say this was still during the courtship period--in other words, Andy was in hot pursuit, Shannon was making no commitments!
And yet--just one short year later, they're making the commitment of a lifetime! I've never seen Andy more content, and I am SO happy for them! Congrats you guys. Looking forward to many years of doggie chat, political debates, and backyard barbecues!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
- Hawaiian Burrito for dinner at Hukilau (my fave!)
- An all day training (ick) highlighted by unexpected birthday cake (yay!)
- The "Happy Birthday Cha-Cha-Cha" voicemail from Zoe & Maddy (best ever!)
- My birthday present--a soapmaking class with Raf next month (can't wait!!)
Happy Happy Birthday to Me!
Btw, the photo above is from the Joie de Vivre Hotels Joy of Life Rewards Club. It makes me happy.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Go ahead, call me crazy. We've decided to thrift some of our tableware rather than renting it. I originally got the idea to thrift the plates for our reception from Big Sur Wedding, and the more I thought about it, the more fun it sounded! Here's my reasoning:
It will cost us about $.50 per plate and per piece(!) of silverware to rent them = $2 per person for plate, fork, knife & spoon. We've decided on a thrifting price limit of $1 per plate and $.25 per piece of silverware = $1.75 maximum. Thus, I'm saving money! Ok, all that effort to save $.25 per person is ridiculous, I know that. However, by thrifting, we're supporting organizations that support the community, as most thrift shops benefit homeless shelters, etc.
Also--it's freaking fun! I was feeling a little deflated after the first gown shopping experience, so my mom & sister decided to hit up a bunch of thrift stores in Medford on our way home. (Side note--wow, you've never seen a better town to thrift, we hit/passed at least 8 stores in about a 2 mile trip!) Lucky for me, the first shop we stopped at was a gold mine! We picked up at least 8 dishes there, as well as a hefty handful of cute silverware. Thus, it was there that the decision was made to take on the challange, and it was there that we established our price limit.
Then, amazingly, the next 5 or so stores we hit up ALL had dishes to add to the collection! Basically, it ended up being a lot easier to find the type of dishes I was looking for than I expected--we ended the day with 26 plates and I passed up more than a few. Now just cross your fingers that I'll have as much luck closer to home.
So, what do you think? Are you interested in joining in the fun?? C'mon...you know you wanna! If so, here are the parameters:
- Plates: we're collecting vintage stoneware-style plates--the heavy ones, not those thin, light white ones found in all our grandparents cabinets. All the ones we've found have a beige-ish base color and some sort of good time design in the middle (no blank centers). Remember, our price limit is $1 per dish. We found a few gorgeous collectables closer to $5, but a limit is a limit (mom!)
- Silverware: we're collecting forks, knives and spoons. There's no real method to our madness, just stuff we thought was fun. It's all been totally miscellanous to this point (we haven't found any sets). None of it is fine dining status--just everyday old school goodness--not too heavy, not too light. Again, our price limit on silverware is $.25 per piece.
- Canning Jars: I was also hoping to thrift pint size canning jars to use as water glasses. However, what I've learned so far is: people who can are also people who thrift! Every store we visited was wiped of jars and the ladies laughed when we asked. They said the minute they hit the shelves they're gone again. (Damn me for sending half a dozen to the thrift store a couple years ago!) Anyway, I don't think we'll reach the 120-ish mark by thrifting jars, so I'm thinking of skipping that one. However, if you see some in your thrifting endeavors--go ahead and grab them! We can still intermingle them with the Patron bottles for flowers--and I just love them, so I'll probably keep them afterwards anyway! Not sure what to name as the price limit since I didn't find a single one, so just keep me posted on the deals you find!
Friday, November 14, 2008
Digging the slate colored dresses in the background from this sweet Livermore wedding!
These benches are simply perfect! Is it too much to ask my pops to put together 30+ by August?! :)