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.
Healthy Comfort Food
People describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn't heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I'd start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we'd never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we'd likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it's true.
Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear -- and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don't get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He's obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he'd keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word "trash" and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet -- his teacher mentioned he'd had it on most of the day and really, really didn't want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn't want it any other way. But, man it's also exhausting.
I just finished washing out Oliver's lunchbox and laying it out to dry for the weekend. My favorite time of day is (finally) here: the quiet of the evening when I can actually talk to Sam about our day or sit and reflect on my own thoughts after the inevitable dance party or band practice that precedes the bedtime routine lately. Before becoming pregnant for the second time, I'd have had a glass of wine with the back door propped open right about now -- these days though, I have sparkling water or occasionally take a sip from one of Sam's hard ciders. Except now the back door's closed and we even turned on the heat for the first time yesterday. The racing to water the lawn and clean the grill have been replaced by cozier dinners at home and longer baths in the evening. You blink and it's the first day of fall.
I'd heard from many friends that buying a house wasn't for the faint of heart. But I always shrugged it off, figuring I probably kept better files or was more organized and, really, how hard could it be? Well, I've started (and stopped) writing this post a good fifteen times which may indicate something. BUT! First thing's first: we bought a house! I think! I'm pretty sure! We're still waiting for some tax transcripts to come through and barring any hiccough with that, we'll be moving out of our beloved craftsman in a few weeks and down the block to a great, brick Tudor house that we wanted the second we laid eyes on it. The only problem: it seemed everyone else in Seattle had also laid eyes on it, and wanted it equally as much. I'm not really sure why the homeowner chose us in the end. Our offer actually wasn't the highest, but apparently there were some issues with a few of them. We wrote a letter introducing ourselves and describing why we'd be the best candidates and why we were so drawn to the house; we have a really wonderful broker who pulled out all the stops, and after sifting through 10 offers and spending a number of hours deliberating, they ended up going with ours. We were at a friend's book event at the time when Sam showed me the text from our broker and I kind of just collapsed into his arms. We were both in ecstatic denial (wait, is this real?! Did we just buy a house?) and celebrated by getting chicken salad and potato salad from the neighborhood grocery store and eating it, dazed, on our living room floor. Potato salad never tasted so good.
If your house is anything like ours, last week wasn't our most inspired in terms of cooking. We're all suffering from the post-election blues -- the sole upside being Oliver's decision to sleep-in until 7 am for the first time in many, many months; I think he's trying to tell us that pulling the covers over our heads and hibernating for awhile is ok. It's half-convincing. For much of the week, instead of cooking, there'd been takeout pizza and canned soup before, at week's end, I decided it was time to pour a glass of wine and get back into the kitchen. I was craving something hearty and comforting that we could eat for a few days. Something that wouldn't remind me too much of Thanksgiving because, frankly, I can't quite gather the steam to start planning for that yet. It was time for a big bowl of chili.
Porridge is not the sexiest of breakfasts, it's true. It doesn't have a stylish name like strata or shakshuka, and it doesn't have perfectly domed tops like your favorite fruity muffin. It doesn't crumble into delightful bits like a good scone nor does it fall into buttery shards like a well-made croissant. But when you wake up and it's 17 degrees outside (as it has been, give or take a few, for the last week), there's nothing that satisfies like a bowl of porridge or oatmeal. It's warm and hearty and can be made sweet or savory with any number of toppings. The problem? Over the years, it's gotten a bad rap as gluey or gummy or just downright boring or dutiful -- and it's because not everyone knows the secrets to making a great pot of warm morning cereal. So let's talk porridge (also: my cookbook comes out this month! So let's take a peek inside, shall we?)