Remember that time we got married?

Our monthiversary has come and gone, I’ve scratched several items off my “30 before 30 list” (including vacationing in Italy), and yet, I’ve still remained a slacker in the realm of blogging.

I know I blogged a lot about wedding planning leading up to September 1st, but I never thought it would turn out so lovely. Despite Pete waking up with strep throat and me getting over a sinus infection, it couldn’t have been a more perfect day for us and our relationship. Our family pulled together to help us transform our backyard, captured beautifully by our photographers — Morrissey Photo.

I look forward to sharing more photos and reviewing our vendors in the upcoming weeks, but for now, I’ll just share some of my favorite moments.

{DIY} Homebrew Attempt #3

wedding wheat

Our third homebrew (thus the “003”), a Kobayashi Wheat with Sorachi Ace, has been labeled and sealed as one of our wedding favors.

wedding wheat

Pete designed the labels, which we printed on Kraft sheets from Paper Source (cue angels singing — that place is amazing).

wedding wheat

We decided to incorporate one of our wedding colors by dripping yellow wax down the bottles, Maker’s Mark-style.

wedding wheat

With a makeshift double-boiler (an aluminum can inside of a pot), we melted batches of wax beads.

wedding wheat

Emma Stone stared at us from the newspaper as we took turns dipping the bottles in the wax (c’mon girl, no one believes you wear Colorburst).

wedding wheat

We cracked open our first one last night and it tasted like beer to me (in that I didn’t like it), so I deem it a success. We’ll probably keep a few extras for upcoming anniversaries…hopefully by then we’ll have a few more homebrews under our belts.

Summer Hiatus: I’ve Missed You

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted on here, so let me just say that I’m impressed you’re still reading. I apologize for the silence on my end, but things have been a bit busy as of late. When I’m not working at my full-time job at Generocity, I’m tackling absurd amounts of yard work with Pete, shooting weddings on the weekends, processing photos, or planning our own backyard wedding.

I haven’t had a chance to share our engagement shoot with you guys, so here are some of our favorites by Morrissey Photo. Even though I’d rather be behind the lens any day, it was really easy to be ourselves in front of them since they’re two of the nicest people on. the. planet. Thanks again to Matt and Lauren for following us around the Love Letter murals in Philadelphia, you guys are the bestest.


Images by Morrissey Photo

In other wedding planning news, we sent our invites out to our parents and siblings. I had a lot of fun working on these with Pete — I made the illustration for the back and Pete designed the front (I contributed the talk bubbles with our initials). It’s been really nice having this whole wedding planning thing be a collaborative effort while crossing tasks off our to-do list.

wedding invite

wedding invite

wedding invite

Not that it’s as thrilling as envelope liners and photos of the Ginger, but I’ve been posting more actively on my photography blog, if you want to give it a look-see every week or so.

{DIY} Homemade Strawberry Jam Favors

Pete and I have been watching a lot of food documentaries on Netflix as of late, and afterwards, we were excited to shop locally and go to our neighborhood farmers’ market for the first time. We figured since strawberries are in season, now would be a good time to test a recipe for our jam favors.

homemade jamIf you’re interested in canning, I would recommend our friend Marisa’s book, Food in Jars. We used the Quick Strawberry Jam recipe from this book, which we doubled to make about 8 cups.

homemade jam

The recipe is fast and easy — first you just have to combine sugar and Pomona’s Universal Pectin in a bowl. Then, place the strawberries in a saucepan and crush them with a potato masher.

homemade jam

Start to bring the berries to a boil and then stir in calcium water (the recipe is included in the Pomona box) and lemon juice. Afterwards, you slowly pour in the sugar pectin mixture and stir to dissolve.

homemade jam

Return the berries to a boil and stir to ensure that the mixture is heated thoroughly. Then, remove from the heat and let them rest for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to release air bubbles, and skim off any foam.

strawberries

For the final step, ladle the mixture into clean, hot half-pint canning jars, leave 1/4 inch of headspace, and release the trapped air. Once you wipe the rims clean, you just have to screw on the jar bands and process them for 10 minutes.

strawberries

Then, turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, and let the jars rest in hot water for 5 minutes.

canning

One of the jars didn’t seal entirely, so we were able to test the jam to see if it was wedding-worthy. It turned out pretty delicious — we’re excited to add some blackberry and raspberry jams to the mix for our favors in the next month or so.

strawberries

We’re definitely hooked on going to the farmers’ market for fresh produce, so we’re looking forward to visiting on Saturday mornings to see what’s new in season.

canned jam

I’m glad this batch came out much better than the failed peach ginger recipe. We plan to add a homemade label and decorate the lid with twine and fabric (I blame Pinterest for our surge of craftiness).

jam noms

My latest morning ritual now includes eating jam on a bagel while devouring a ginormous chocolate-covered strawberry, courtesy of our friends Valerie and Daryl for my birthday. Apparently one of the perks of growing old is being treated to such delights. It is awesome.

birthday flowers

Pete spoiled me for my birthday by surprising me with a dog card from my favorite art boutique in Philly, beautiful flowers, and tons of amazing food (if you haven’t noticed, food is the way to my heart).

birthday flowers

We’ve been checking a lot of tasks off our growing to-do list, including making our latest homebrew, so bear with me as I overshare our wedding plans.

Has anyone else tried making homemade jam? If not, you should definitely test it out, it’s fun and pretty inexpensive in the long run.

{A Laid Back, Labor Day Menu}

Apart from the whole committing-to-a-lifetime-with-your-soul-mate thing, one of the best parts of getting married is, in fact, the food. We’re really lucky to have found our neighbors at Joshua’s Catering, a green company that is known for their local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. We’ll be adding some flavors of our own by making our own pumpkin whoopie pies, which we tested out last week and Pete’s family approved. We’re also going to be brewing a summer beer (TBD) and canning homemade berry jams for our family as favors.

I figured now would be an appropriate time to share our full menu. It’s an alternative twist on a Labor Day picnic, with locally farmed, grass-fed, organic meats. We’re not having a traditional wedding cake, instead we wanted to have a trio of desserts. Each guest will be served a watermelon gazpacho, whoopie pie, and last but not least, banana crème brûlée—a slight nod to my brother, who is a fan of banana-flavored desserts and was kind enough to approve of us getting married on his birthday.

Starters

  • Grass-fed beef  sliders with caramelized onions and Gruyère cheese
  • Endive and goat cheese with dried cranberries and reduced balsamic vinegar
  • Gazpacho shooter with blackened gulf shrimp


{Intermezzo of peach sorbet}

Salad

  • Arugula and goat cheese with roasted beets, hearts of palm, and a reduced red wine vinaigrette

Dinner

  • Blackened shrimp taco with black bean and corn salsa, served with summer slaw
    OR
  • Chipotle barbecued chicken with truffle mac n’ cheese and grilled asparagus
  • With baskets of gaufrette potato chips to share


Dessert

  • Banana crème brûlée
  • Watermelon gazpacho
  • Homemade pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese filling

We were surprised by how difficult it was to find a sustainable caterer that focused on local efforts. That being said, we also had a tasting at Birchtree Catering, where the chef/owner Rasa couldn’t have been any sweeter, but overall Joshua’s Catering was a better fit (plus the owner and chef are super charming and flexible).

For you fellow wedding attendees out there, do you tend to take notice when caterers use locally-sourced ingredients, or not so much?

{A Honeymoon in Italy} Gelato and Pesto, Here We Come

{Photos courtesy Hotel Artemide}

Our honeymoon has officially been booked and we couldn’t be more excited. We’ll be departing the day after our wedding to head to Rome, an eight and a half hour journey from Philadelphia. For the first leg of our trip, we’ll be staying at Hotel Artemide in Rome for two nights (the photo above is an example of the room we’ll be staying in). We’re total TripAdvisor stalkers, so the 4 1/2 star rating (out of 1,822 reviews) definitely made it a stand-out hotel with a convenient location.

For those of you who have been to Rome before, what lesser known sites should we scout out? I’ll admit, I’m looking forward to a tourist-y night walk to the Trevi Fountain and Colosseum (preferably while eating loads of gelato).

{Photos courtesy Grand Tour in Florence}

After we explore Rome for a couple of days, we’ll take the train an hour and a half to the Grand Tour in Florence, a five-star B&B I’ve been smitten with for years. The original structure was an 18th century garden theatre, which the owners brought back to light during its restoration and converted into nine suites. All of the doors open onto a courtyard garden with a fountain, which sounds all sorts of dreamy. I fully expect for there to be cartoon birds hanging our clean laundry on a clothesline when we wake up in the morning, that’s how good it sounds.

The Actor Suite, which we’re staying in (above), has a large bathroom with a private sauna…yes please. The shower has handmade majolicas (decorative earthenware tiles), that are so, so lovely. I love the old marble sink that is featured in the bedroom, along with the headboard that has some really pretty details.

{Photos courtesy Rificolona-Paper Lantern Festival}

Florence is a great central location for day trips, so we’ll be spending 4 nights in Florence, with excursions to Venice (Peggy Guggenheim Collection!) and Siena. I’m really excited about the Rificolona-Paper Lantern Festival, an evening parade through the Piazza Santissima Annunziata, with children carrying paper lanterns lit with candles, while the older kids try to set the lanterns ablaze with pea shooters. It’s all in good family fun since it is tied around tradition, plus there’s live music and carnival food, so it shouldn’t be too crazy. Supposedly most of the lanterns end up burning by the end of the night, so it should be interesting to see.

{Photos courtesy La Poesia}

After exhausting ourselves in and around Florence, we’ll be heading to Cinque Terre. I’ve been wanting to go to Cinque Terre forever, but then this happened last year, and it made my heart sink. Alas, the cliffside villages are rebuilding and need the tourists now more than ever, so we will be spending four nights in Monterosso Al Mare, one of two villages extensively damaged in last fall’s flood. Pete really wanted to stay near the beach, so that’s how we landed on Monterosso, however we’ll also be hiking and traveling to the other villages—Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

We’re staying at La Poesia, a charming B&B not far from the train station, with homemade breakfasts served on the outdoor terrace, complete with lemon trees and a breathtaking view of the beach.

{Photos courtesy here, here, and here}

I’m most excited about hiking around Cinque Terre, with a day trip to the port town of Portofino and loads of relaxing. Pete seems to think he can convince me to jump off of a 30-40 foot cliff into the Mediterranean Sea, but I have a feeling I’ll have to jump from the little kiddie spot that is only a few feet above the water.

Have you guys ever been to Italy? What spots should we be sure to add to our agenda (restaurants, museums, anything)?

Wedding Stuff: Tree Decor & Vintage Rings

Since we’re planning a backyard wedding, we have been trying to come up with thrifty ways to dress up the dogwood tree we’ll be getting hitched under. I really wanted to take strips of fabric, cut them at different lengths, and dye them, ombre-style (Pete: “What’s an ombre?”). Our colors are technically yellow and grey, so I decided to go with golden yellow RIT dye. I loosely followed the tutorial by Green Wedding Shoes on how to make an ombre fabric backdrop.

I need to stop pretending like DIY projects will go as smoothly as they look on wedding blogs. I have discovered that I am not especially crafty. I might be able to take lovely photos and draw illustrations, but when it comes to cutting fabric or handling a hot glue gun, I. Am. A. Mess. For this project, I measured out the different amounts of fabric dye in the pans, with the hope that the strips of fabric would have different monochromatic tones. Unfortunately, when I went to get the pot of boiling water from the kitchen, a gust of wind swept the pans upside down, sending the dye all over the place. Sigh. Pete came to the rescue and salvaged the dye while putting rocks into the pans to weigh them down, but we had trouble getting the dye to stick to the muslin fabric since it was often folded over and not fully dyeing.

When I was cleaning up and feeling fairly defeated, I glanced down at the newspaper our bucket was sitting on and saw an entire front page written by our officiant, Naila, complete with photos of her and her boyfriend. It was just what I needed to remind myself that all of these DIY projects might not go perfectly, but at the end of the day, Naila will marrying Pete and I, which is kind of the best thing ever as far as I’m concerned (although Turkey Hill’s Choco Mint Chip is a fierce competitor for runner-up).

The fabric might all be the same color, but I still think it will look pretty (when it’s less wrinkly and thread-filled). Here’s an idea of the look we were going for (below), with pieces hanging at different lengths above us during the ceremony.

In other wedding news, Pete and I got our wedding bands at Halloween in Philly. I went with a delicate, art deco/victorian ring to match the 1915-1920s era engagement ring.

Pete went with a really simple, thin gold band that looks a bit like his father’s, which I think is nice. He has never worn jewelry before, so he just wanted to go with something as comfortable as possible.

Our wedding is five and a half months away, so we still have some time to play around with more projects. We’ve mostly been focusing our attention on fixing up the yard…I’ll be sure to share more about that soon!