Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Raf Bakes Too!

It all started when I was reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Barbara Kingsolver's husband bakes a daily loaf of bread in their home. Doesn't that sound like just about the greatest thing you've ever heard? The smell of freshly baked bread in your home every day--especially when baked by the loving hands of your man!

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!

Seattle, here we come!

Looking forward to ringing in 2009 in our favorite city!
Magnet available in Pitter Painter's Etsy shop.

Paper by Cheer Up Cherup

Save the Dates have been on my mind lately. I'm in the process of designing ours right now, using a stationery template from Little Brown Pen. It'll be super simple, but whimsical and fun. I haven't even added text yet and I already love it.

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

Christmas Goodness

Just got home from spending the past week in Coos Bay at my mom's. Amazingly, Raf and I have never spent a Christmas together. I always get a lot more time off than he does, and want to be able to spend as much time with the fam as possible--it's the only day of the year that all my siblings are in the same room together at one time, and often the only time I make it all the way to my mom's to visit (9.5 hour drive). Here's our annual Christmas photo (Take #27):
By Take #34, my dad caught a shot of me giving my "I Shake My Fist at You" face! Classic.
I finally got to meet Andrew and Lizzie, Drew's son and his fiance (getting married the weekend before us!), and their daughter Zoei. Too freaking cute! So fun to have a baby around. Other goodness from the week included a stop on the drive to admire a few elk north of Arcata--hidden in the brush rather than in the "elk viewing spot" that I always skip. Let's play Where's Waldo...can you see him? And finally, no trip home is complete without a night at Shore Acres to see the lights. Seriously, it's not Christmas to me without these lights--yet another reason I always insist on going! I know it's no short hike, but a visit to this place is worth every minute on the road. It's magical. My favorite annual installation:
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.
Hope your holiday was this merry and BRIGHT!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I'm headed north tomorrow to spend the next week celebrating and visiting with the fam, so this is the last "live" post you may see from me for a bit. If I get super ambitious, maybe I'll try to schedule some quick card posts to share with you while I'm on holiday.

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!

Oh Anthro!

I love the current front page of the Anthropologie website. Unfortunately it won't copy correctly. Here's part of it:
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!)

My Brain

And because I mentioned Etsy in my last post, I of course had to visit it...even though it's 2:55am. I immediately found this goodness, a print by Michael Phipps (also available on a t-shirt!)

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:


It's December 20th and I have gathered all of ZERO gifts. This is how I'm feeling about gifting this year:

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

Leave it to CB completely shift my excitement level in regards to registering! I was flipping through the Crate & Barrel Best Buys catalog this morning and found myself not only earmarking pages, but actually getting off my butt to go grab a Sharpie to be sure the favorites were starred. I love CB, who doesn't, but it's an eye candy adventure for me--not someplace I actually shop. But I'm all over this "Best Buys" catalog! They highlighted some super cute furniture for prices I would actually pay...SHOCKER!

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

Magnet Love

It's no secret that I am not a fan of Save the Date magnets. I can't pinpoint my reasoning; the typical ones just creep me out a bit. That was, until I came across these by a bride and graphic designer at Mint Design Blog. I love them!

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

Reindeer Games

Evidently I'm not the only one sporting antlers this time of year...
Our friend, Tags, on a recent hike with Raf and the boys on Angel Island.

Universal Gift Registries?

Has anyone out there seen or experienced a quality universal gift registry? I've had conversations with others in the engaged posse lately about the best way to go about registering and I'm feeling a little lost. To be perfectly honest, I'm not very excited about it. Crazy, I know. But I have my reasons...
  1. Anything we need, we already own
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. Free to use
  2. 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)
  3. Work like a regular registry--so if one person buys it, others will know
  4. Include photos of the items in the listing (not through a separate link)
  5. Allow for "partial purchasing"--pitching in on large ticket items
  6. 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. 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!

Picture Perfect Holidays

This is a me on decorating day: dancing to Christmas music, dressing the tree, drinking hot chocolate, and proudly sporting the reindeer antlers. Merry Merry!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Soap Making

As you may recall, Raf is the sweetest boyfriend (er, I mean fiance) ever and reserved 2 spots for us to take a soapmaking class for my birthday. That's how we spent our Sunday. Good Times!

We took the Cold Process 101 class at The Nova Studio in Point Richmond. It's a super cute little crafters studio in a quiet, quaint downtown area. I wanted to take a class for a few reasons. First, we switched from liquid to bar soaps a while ago in an effort to be more eco-conscious--there's a whole lot less packaging when you buy a bar of soap. However, I'm not a fan of the stuff you can buy in big box stores. It's not local, it's not natural, and it dries out my skin. So, we've been buying cool soaps from local crafters and specialty stores, which is fun--but gets pretty expensive. That would be reason number two--making it ourselves may (someday) cost a lot less. Third, we're do-it-yourself people. Why buy it if you can try making it yourself!

Then, when I started looking into making our own soap, I realized you can either: a) do melt and pour simplicity by purchasing blocks of soap and cutesy molds from craft stores, or b) mess around with super temperamental and dangerous chemicals in your kitchen. Option B, of course! I don't typically want to learn the finishing steps of new crafts just for aesthetic purposes; I want to learn it from beginning to end. So, that's what we did!

I'm really glad we took the class today. It was basically just classroom style teaching and watching one portion of the process. And, while I generally prefer more hands-on learning, it served its purpose--I now feel confident enough to work with highly toxic (and slightly terrifying) lye in my home kitchen. The tough thing about these classes is that with Cold Process soap making it takes a couple days after mixing before the soap is firm enough to cut and trim...then it takes another 4-6 weeks to cure! For those of us who enjoy the immediate gratification of DIY, it's a rough concept to grasp, but you gotta learn the basics before you can move on to the shortcuts (Hot Process), right?

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

Baby It's Cold Outside

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

Let the Festivities Begin!

In case you don't know me at all, I LOVE the holidays! The blog (and I) are going to enjoy a brief hiatus from being all wedding, all the time. Instead, I hope to deliver daily(ish) doses of holiday season goodness.

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...

I {heart} Pushing Daisies

I love the tragic love story. I love the elaborate, whimsical sets. I love the characters and silly story lines. I love the narrator. It makes my heart light.

Ned (Lee Pace) doesn't hurt either. :)

I keep hearing randomness of it being cancelled. That would pretty much be the worst decision ever. It's the best new(er) thing on TV.

Side note--I like the red color of Chuck's dress for the Bridal Brigade dresses!