A few months ago I showed you a glimpse into our wedding day, compiled from cell phone photos we’d managed to gather from friends and family. Then on Christmas Eve we received a package from our photographers with all of our photos. It was quite the early Christmas present, and I’d be remiss in letting 2014 come to a quiet close without sharing them with you. Looking back at these photos, what really strikes me are all of the moments that I simply don’t remember — or, frankly, wasn’t there for. It looks like quite a party! As with many weddings, I suppose, we were pulled aside for photos every now and again and were trying to make sure to talk to each of our guests, many who’d traveled quite a long ways to come to Whidbey Island to help us celebrate. So there were dance-offs, cocktail circles and polaroid sessions that we just never saw … until these photos. I’ve loved flipping through and looking at that golden September sunshine, all of our friends and family eating cake, dancing, meeting one another, drinking cocktails. Yes, there’s a cocktail we must discuss here, too.
So first, the ceremony: There was a big, beautiful tree in the backyard of the main house where we decided to hold the ceremony. We set up vintage slatted chairs all along the grass, and printed programs that looked like old Southern fans.
The main house at Jenne Farm is really what sold us on the venue in the first place. While it’s firmly planted in the Pacific Northwest, it has a real Southern charm with its wrap around porch and beautiful old staircase, moldings and lace curtains.
Despite the busy gathering outside, I’m so grateful that there were quiet moments for us to steal, too.
Instead of a guestbook, we had Sam’s old typewriters and asked people to type a little something on notepapers. I found these sweet, small Polaroid cameras and we left them around so our guests could take photos of themselves or the surroundings. We were so, so grateful to have them after the wedding as we waited for the more official photos from the wedding photographers.
The table! We’d both thought so long and hard about the table — I wanted one very long farm table on the side of the main house, and I felt pretty particular about the flowers (lots of wild white flowers mixed in with loose, romantic peach roses and local greenery).
The venue had an old lace runner and beautiful white milk glass vases for the flowers. Sam designed our menus, and I found really beautiful vintage china. I want to rewind and have another meal here.
Once everyone was seated, mingling, snacking and drinking I kept looking down the long table and telling myself to remember this. I’d get goosebumps realizing this was the only time all of these people would be seated at a big table in the Pacific Northwest eating fried green tomatoes, creamy polenta and fall-off-the-bone pork together. The only time.
Choosing the food, cocktails and cake was one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning for me. We both love Southern food and felt like it was in keeping with the feel of the house and the barn. One of our favorite cafes in town makes a mean Southern layer cake, so instead of a more traditional wedding cake we opted for coconut cake, lemon cake and a chocolatey caramel cake. I have a few regrets from our wedding day and one was not eating enough cake. We’ve frozen a small version of the coconut cake to eat on our one year anniversary and it takes all of the willpower I have not to sneak it out on occasion and cut off a small slice.
In addition to the food and cake, the cocktails played a big role in the pre-ceremony and dance party. Sam and I both really love good, strong cocktails and do a lot of experimenting at home. We’d visited our friend Niah at Essex about a month before the wedding to brainstorm ideas and he helped us come up with this one, a really special bright, slightly citrusy rye-based cocktail. Niah pre-mixed these a few days before the wedding so the bartender would just have to pour them in cups with ice and … BOY were they strong. I recall expressing deep concern for the older folks, wondering if they’d make it to cake cutting. Perhaps this explains the memorable dance party. Maybe you can create one (the cocktail and the dance party) in your own living room?
In case you’re curious as to who helped us pull this off:
Venue & Coordination: Jenne Farm // Food: Ciao Thyme Catering // Photography: One Love Photo // Cakes: The Wandering Goose // Vintage Dish Rental: Seattle Farm Tables // Flowers: Jenne Farm // Signage, Menus, Favors, Design: Neversink
This cocktail is named after a beautiful lake in Seattle with a 3-mile (or so) walking path. In the fall, it’s the best for spotting changing leaves; in the summer, the whole city comes to linger, read, sunbathe, and swim. When we were first dating, Sam lived in a bungalow a block from the lake and we walked many a lake lap through all of the various seasons.
Place a few ice cubes in a cocktail shaker, and add all cocktail ingredients. Shake well. Serve over ice.
On Monday our little family of three is headed to the airport at 6 am to board our first with-baby cross-country trip. We'll be visiting Sam's family in New Jersey for a few days, then renting a car and driving over to meet up with my family at my mom's lake house in the Adirondacks. Sam's younger sister and her kids have yet to meet Oliver; my grandpa has yet to meet him, and Oliver has yet to take a dunk in a lake, see a firefly, or spend quality time with energetic dogs -- of which there will be three. A lot of firsts. This week my family has been madly texting, volunteering to make certain meals or sweets on assigned days while we're at the cabin and it got me thinking about really simple, effortless summer desserts -- in particular, ones that you can make while staying in a house with an unfamiliar kitchen and unfamiliar equipment and still do a pretty bang-up job. I think fruit crisp is just that thing.
In a few short weeks, we're headed to New York, Vermont and New Jersey to visit family and see my sister Zoe get married. In starting to think through the trip and do a little planning, I found Oliver the cutest tiny-person dress shoes I've ever seen (and he's quite smitten with them), sussed out childcare options for the night of the wedding, and found what feels like the most expensive (and last) rental car in the state of New Jersey. I try very hard not to be one of Those People that begins lamenting the loss of a season before it's remotely appropriate to do so, but this year, as we'll be gone much of September, I've felt a bit of a 'hurry, make all the summery things!' feeling set in. So we've been managing increasingly busy days punctuated with zucchini noodle salads, gazpacho, corn on the cob and homemade popsicles (preferably eaten shirtless outside followed by a good, solid sprinkler run for one small person in particular. Not naming any names).
Somehow, in what seems to have been a blink of an eye, we have a six month old baby. In some ways I can't remember a time we didn't have an Oliver, and in other ways it's all a blur broken up by a few holidays (a Thanksgiving thanks to grocery store takeout, and our very first Christmas in Seattle), a few family visits, a one-day road trip to Portland, a birthday dinner out, a birthday cake, weekend drives to nowhere in particular, swimming at the pool with Oliver, weekly get-togethers with our parent's group, doctor's visits, hundreds of walks around the neighborhood, hundreds of cups of coffee, dozens (or more?) of scoops of ice cream. Most of the worrying about keeping a baby alive has made way for other concerns, and Oliver's need for constant stimulation or soothing walks and car rides has been traded for stretches of time playing with a new toy or checking out his surroundings. In truth, it's thanks to that tiny bit of baby independence that this humble, summery cake came to be in the first place. So we've all got an Oliver to thank for that. Or, really, we have a Yossi Arefi to thank, as it's from her beautiful new cookbook that I've bookmarked heavily and am eager to continue exploring.
A triple berry summer crisp made with oats, quinoa flakes and hazelnuts. Summer in a skillet.
I had a weak moment on our honeymoon in Italy when I decided that I should be making gelato for a living. My enthusiasm for Italian gelato wasn't surprising to anyone. I'd done extensive research, made lists, had Sam map out cities in terms of where the best gelaterias were. I took notes and photos and hemmed and hawed over flavor choices: Sicilian Pistachio! Chestnut Honey! Sweet Cheese, Almond and Fig! In truth, on that particular trip, I cared far more about treats, sunshine, and cobblestone walks than I cared about famous landmarks or tourist attractions, often leaving the camera back at the hotel in favor of my small black notebook which housed detailed jottings on dessert discoveries in each city we visited. Our friends Matteo and Jessica happened to be in Naples on the one night we were there, and we all went out for pizza together followed by a long stroll around the city. At some point the conversation turned to gelato (as it's bound to) and Matteo brought up the famous school in Bologna where many renowned gelato artisans study. My wheels were spinning. Maybe we should visit Bologna. I should see this school! I should talk to these students! I could make Sicilian Pistachio; Chestnut Honey; and Sweet Cheese, Almond and Fig each and every day of our lives. Or at the very least, travel to Bologna to learn how and then come back to Seattle to take our Northwest city by storm. Well here we are six months later, back to reality, and the impetus to pack up my bags and head for Bologna has subsided for the time being ... but not the unwavering gusto to sample. That part will always be with me. It's been awhile since I mixed up a batch of ice cream at home, but the other day a beautiful new cookbook landed on my doorstep and I flipped right to a recipe for dark chocolate sorbet with toasty, salty almonds. I didn't need much convincing.