Thursday, February 26, 2009

words: sickness and fitness

colds, flu, odd childhood diseases (hand foot and mouth, anyone?), are all a constant threat in my line of work. i usually get at least one cold and one case each of strep throat and tonsillitis each winter (i have weak tonsils) but this past month has been especially brutal. it started a few days before my birthday, with an itchy nose, then full on sneezy, sicky, badness. i was still sniffling when our engagement photo session rolled around four days later. oh, and i managed to shave off a three-inch piece of skin from my ankle that week, too. then i broke my littlest toe walking to the bathroom in the dark. then IT happened. the cough.

there is nothing worse than the cough. it annoys you, it annoys everyone around you, it keeps you awake, yet it makes you tired. after four days of this cough, i finally had the sense to take a day off work to relax. unfortunately, the hack is keeping me from relaxing much, plus i still have to go in to run my after school program this afternoon. no days off for me (and no doctors apparently, since kaiser doesn't want to see you until you are millimeters from death).

what does this have to do with weddings, you might be thinking? i, like many other brides, want to look fit and toned for the wedding. and i was on a good path. eating well, running and shredding daily, pilates twice a week. and now i am suddenly very, very off track. i haven't exercised in two weeks. we have been eating tons of convenience food and have gone out a few times this month (birthday.. valentine's.. way too many special occasions).

the combination of bad eating and no working out has taken its toll. it is so crazy that you can undo so much hard work in such a short period of time. i need to get back on track, but considering i am laying in bed right now, i haven't moved in hours, and i had a huge jamba juice for breakfast/lunch (instead of my normal oatmeal w/agave, flax seeds and banana breakfast, followed by a salad and protein lunch!) it won't be happening today.

b has already promised vegan pizza from purgatory for dinner, and i am just far too weak to protest.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

project: engagement photo shoot !

our engagement photos are in, and we couldn't be happier about how they turned out. they are exactly what we wanted. jordana is amazing. seriously, spectacular!

please note that i am laughing in almost every single photo. i could not keep a straight face throughout the entire shoot. even if it appears that i am smiling, i'm not. this is mid-laugh.

go see jordana's very nice blog about us with all of the pictures posted. and see our favorites below! enough words:

we had our photo shoot on valentines day, which happened to be the only sunny, beautiful day all week. we definitely lucked out, the rain in the days before made everything lush and green (and wet and slippery on our hike, but it was worth it). we wanted to be somewhere woodsy (and jordana knew just the right spot) and somewhere a bit unusual and unique. the cemetery turned out to be perfect. and we saw two furry graveyard cats! my favorite.

we will be using one of these photos for our save the date cards. not sure which, but that is my project for tomorrow. we want to get them in the mail by the end of february. i am armed with a gocco, a corner cutter, and many different colors of cardstock. i know it's gonna happen, someday.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

project: catering !

food happens to be our wedding "hot topic." brodie and i have been vegan for over three years, and we were both veggies for many years before that. there was absolutely no question that our wedding would be a 100% vegan affair.

i have read SO MANY comments on this situation, how it is selfish to have only vegetarian food, how a vegan wouldn't want to be somewhere where only meat is served, that guests will go hungry and that the point of a wedding is to make our guests feel comfortable. all of these statements are (in my humble opinion) absolutely ridiculous. why should we throw away our values just because not everyone has the same diet? can our friends and family not handle eating a vegan meal once in a while? i really think if you serve ample amounts of good food, guests will be happy. you will be happy. there is no need to ditch your morals to please other people.

looking for a caterer to do a family style vegan meal in los angeles isn't a huge challenge. finding a caterer who makes great vegan food at a reasonable price (and is used to working in a show kitchen like at marvimon!) is. i originally e-mailed and called about twelve different companies. at least eight of those were off of our venue's preferred vendor list, and i had no idea if they could do vegan. about half responded that they could, but prices started at $100 per person, not including rentals, or taxes, or gratuity, and oh you want it family style? that's 20% extra.

we easily narrowed it down to three really promising catering businesses, and ended up doing tastings at two of the three.

tastings are slightly awkward. you have someone trying to impress you, watching you take every bite, asking questions while you are eating. my tips:

-don't go when you are starving. everything tastes good when you are that hungry!
-don't eat all of the food at once. take a few bites and take the rest home. try the food again when you aren't excited/nervous/being watched by the chef!
-don't be afraid to tell them you don't like something. have an opinion and speak up!

after our second (simply perfect) tasting, we really didn't want to do another. we knew as soon as we tasted the food and met Meg (the owner), that we would be going with Large Marge Sustainables.

we will be serving a semi-buffet (more on that later) mediterranean/italian meal. we are still working on the menu (more on this later, too) and will probably have a few more tastings until everything is just right.

in other wonderful news, our engagement pictures were posted today and i can't wait to share them!

Monday, February 16, 2009

project: centerpieces !

being a teacher, i am lucky enough to get all of those "extra holidays" off from work. today was one of those days. i decided at the last minute to head out to the los angeles flower market, ikea, and michael's to try my hand at making floral centerpieces. it was HARD! i didn't read any tutorials or get a supply list, i totally winged it. that may or may not have been the right thing to do, but i wanted to be spontaneous!

flowers are not really my thing. i prefer the look of leaves and greens, moss and stones and wood as decor. i want overflowing dishes of greens and a few jewel-toned flowers! we will also have some candles (in 5" hurricane glasses) resting on wood circles for some soft dinner lighting.

i started by purchasing a two shallow "decorative bowls" from ikea.

bladet 12.5" $12.99

blomster 10.25" $9.99

then i went off to michael's to pick up some supplies. if i had actually planned ahead, i would have bought what i needed online, or at the flower mart; it was all pretty expensive at michael's. also, i would have figured out what i needed, since i didn't use most of it (yet!!). learn from my mistakes, dear readers!

a roll of twigs and wire! $2.99. green floral wire, floral tape, and floral clips, $1.49 each

wet foam, 4 pack $6.49

fake flowers $2.99, a fake birds nest $1.19, fake fiddlehead fern $2.99, and fake forest fern $2.99.

from the market: ferns $3, some sort of long ivy $3, some sort of heather $4, green and brown moss, really pretty little white flowers $3, and a hanging flower i didn't end up using at all and it was the most expensive at $10. parking at the flower market was a ridiculous $6, because i didn't have enough change for the meter. tip: bring at least $3 in coins so you can park on the street!

i wanted to make something that can easily be produced the evening before the wedding, kept overnight in an air-conditioned room, and transported in a car without getting smooshed. we will be having one extremely long table for all 100ish people at our wedding. i want to keep the centerpieces low, so people can easily talk across the table. we will need two per table, plus small centerpieces for our cocktail tables (which is an entirely different project, involving my favorite: bell jars!)

first, i cut open the twig roll, and unrolled it. i do not know what this twig roll is normally used for, but i looooved it. i used about 1/6th of the roll for this one centerpiece. it was easy to bend into the shape i wanted (so it would work well with an oval or square vase as well). i then squished the moss in between the twigs and the side of the bowl. i used about 1/5th of the bag of moss i got for $5 at the flower mart.

at this point i got slightly lost. i really liked the way it looked so far! i started thinking i might like something simple like this, maybe filled with river rocks and few ferns, maybe a birch tree piece. this will be my next trial run.. instead i cut up one of the wet foam blocks and squished it into the bowl. i added some water (as per directions). then i just started sticking fern branches in! i have no idea if this is how i should have done it, but it seemed to work well.

the greens were starting to be a bit higher than i wanted, so i kind of bent the ferns down a bit with my palm. whatever i did, it helped.

i put my favorite plants in, the (plastic) fiddlehead ferns, and then just worked around that with the other greens/flowers i got at the market. i really hope to find fresh fiddleheads for the real centerpieces. they are so beautiful. when it looked finished i stopped, and filled in any gaps with some brown moss and thin, windy, ivy strands. i wish i knew the names of all of the plants i used, but i got to the flower mart late and everyone was packing up, so i didn't have much of a chance to talk to the people there about their plants. i just picked what looked forest-y to me.

at the end i stuck a few purple and red flowers in there, along with a little red bird in a nest.

the end result (at three angles):

results: i really like it, it looks beautiful in my house, but i don't love it. i am really glad that i started early and i have a few months to get these right. i think i may be happier with a square dish, and i want to try to keep it a bit smaller. i need to do more research on forest dwelling greens and flowers. it needs a bit more color. i was slightly discouraged after this, but i did try out a smaller version in the 10" dish:

circles of ivy, no wired twigs, no foam.

i like this smaller arrangement too, maybe for one of the outside sitting areas.

all together it cost approximately $29.00 to make the large centerpiece. i found that if i buy the foam chunks online, find less expensive (and real) fiddleheads, and use these square dishes, it will work out to $22 per centerpiece. we will have about 10 tables pushed together to make our long table, with two per table, that works out to 20 arrangements, for a grand total of $440. my four cocktail table centerpieces will add on another $120.
from what i found doing a little 'net searching, this is a pretty reasonable price (and within my $600 centerpiece budget).

this was an entertaining project for my rainy monday, and i have so many green bits to let the kids play with at school tomorrow!

are you diy-ing your centerpieces? did you find this a cost-effective adventure?

project preview: engagement photos !

los angeles has been wet for weeks. it has been rain, thunderstorms, hail, and more rain.

we scheduled our engagement photo shoot with jordana a month ago, and i was anxiously checking as the day came closer and closer. it rained the entire week before, and it's raining now, but february 14th was a gorgeous day! we had sun and warmth and all of the recent rain made everything so lush and green and perfect.

we had so much fun on the shoot but i was incredibly, ridiculously nervous. i could not stop giggling! my face hurt at the end of the afternoon from smiling and laughing so much.

our photographer is in vegas for a photo convention, so we will have to wait a bit for the pictures, but she was kind enough to get one up for us extra early..

please go check it out!
(our photo is the color shot in the middle of the blog, not the b/w photo banner on top!)

i will have a full post on the engagement photos when we get them in.. cheers!

Friday, February 13, 2009

project: cake overload ! (pt. 2)

it may seem like a treat, a privilege even, to sample eight baked goodies on one rainy sunday afternoon. rest assured, things are not always what they seem.

we assembled the players: me, the fiance, friend/neighbor/employer annette and her son grayson. four plastic forks, four child-sized plastic plates, big glasses of water and some napkins for the frosting face smears and crumblies.

the first bite went off without a hitch. i think we started with the no whey vegan cupcakes.. or maybe it was the carrot cake from mani's? either way, i am sure it was great.. by the time we got to round seven, the cheesecake from real food daily, we were all feeling a bit ill (it didn't help that the cheesecake was dreadful..). we perked up a bit at the site of the beautiful sweet lady jane cupcakes, and we all made it to the end. full and exhausted but we conquered the cakes!

annette and grayson.. can they make it?!

i wonder if i always look like this
when i eat cupcakes

b, still going strong, ready for more

some of these cakes were very, very dry. some had great moist cake but overly sweet frosting. one was barely edible. some were good for a little snack, but not really wedding material.

our clear winners also happened to be the most expensive (coincidence.. maybe..?). i present to you, the winners:

vegan red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting ($5 each, sweet lady jane.) moist and rich cake with a heaping amount of sweet vegan frosting. would be perfect in miniature!

extremely decadent chocolate layer cake ($7.25 slice, real food daily.) generous layers of deliciously flavored chocolate mousse, between layers of moist cake (and not overly sweet!)

the marvimon has a beautful serving cart, where we will display our dessert selections. we will not be having a traditional wedding cake. the plan is to get fifty or so mini red velvets from sweet lady jane, and a large chocolate layer cake from rfd.. along with chocolate chip cookies (made by me) ice cream (from scoops), assorted truffles (need to find a good supplier) a fruit pie or two, and a fresh fruit, honey (yes, we are occasionally honey-eating vegans) and nut spread.

i can't imagine what a traditional cake tasting is like, but i have seen pictures and it usually involves even more cake.. as it was we had leftover cupcake slices all week!

did you have a traditional (or non traditional) cake tasting? please tell me about it!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

words: tweny five thingies

i've been tagged too many times to count but i am a super facebook slacker (after three years i still don't really know how to use it) so here goes:

one. my number one fear in life: the term "forever".. scary.. has no end.. etc

two. followed ever so closely by numbers 2-5: choking, talking on the phone, earthquakes and getting lost in the ocean.

three. once when i was about four, i did something to my brother (probably called him a name or pushed him) and was lightly scolded by my mother. a few moments later we had a mild earthquake, and she said something along the lines of "see, that was god punishing you for being mean".. i attribute my great fear of earthquakes to this event. my mom totally denies saying this (and she isn't at all evil like this makes her sound)!

four. i do think about things other than natural disasters such as: weddings, cooking, reading john irving novels and silly vampire lit, making imaginary travel plans and petting cats.

five. i hated brussels sprouts for 25 years and then i tried this recipe.

six. i do pilates with a private trainer twice a week and the results have been amazing. i feel great all day after a pilates session.

seven. i hate running but i am trying to learn to love it.

eight. i have very few friends but i count all of them as really close, super-great-amazing friends.

nine. when i was fifteen and worked at jamba juice, the huge orange squeezing machine turned on while i was cleaning it. it literally juiced my hand, and while i was screaming and covered in blood, my coworkers continued to serve people. thinking about it now is hilarious, then, not so much.

ten. i still think about my cat whisk every day, and when i call my mom on the phone i always catch myself starting to ask how whisk is doing.. i had whisk for 19 years but she passed away over 4 years ago.

eleven. i am pretty flexible.

twelve. i was a nail biter until like.. three years ago.

thirteen. i was in a band called triple nipple for a few years and it was pretty awesome.

fourteen. i have been vegan for three years and five months.

fifteen. i have three cats: ike (rescued from the street in phoenix), freddie mercury (rescued from a neighbor here in atwater) and sweet kitten (rescued from the pomegranate tree in our backyard when she was a tiny baby)

sixteen. i am really horrible at history because i can't remember anything. b makes fun of me for mixing up the berlin wall and the great wall of china. i am not as dim as this statement makes me sound!

seventeen. i have a tattoo of an airplane on m wrist because.. i like airplane tattoos.

eighteen. i could probably eat at hugo's every day and be content with that. fat, but content.

nineteen. i have gone to four colleges and graduated from none of them.

twenty. i moved to los angeles to do makeup and ended up teaching preschool, i wouldn't change this for anything!

twenty-one. i absolutely love my neighborhood and really hate the thought of living anywhere else in l.a. (portland or nyc maybe, but not l.a.)

twenty-two. i have been really obsessed with the following bands (in order, starting at age 12): bush, oasis, less than jake, the beatles, the mr. t experience, the plus ones, hefner, morrissey/the smiths.. after the super crazy morrissey obsession died down i find myself not getting so obsessed with bands.

twenty three. i have a wedding blog! (although you guys know this already!)

twenty four.
i really love to cook and do it at least twice a day. my favorite dish to make brodie calls "grain stew." it is literally whatever grain is handy, some veggies and tofu and broth, maybe beans, fresh spices.. and it always tastes great, no matter what i throw in it.

i actually only have 24. this took me weeks to complete!


Monday, February 9, 2009

project: cake overload !

while my social world has been very busy, and my work world has been equally busy, my wedding world has been very, very quiet. until yesterday. behold: cakes.. glorious vegan treats!

chocolate cupcake and vanilla cupcake
by No Whey Vegan, via Muse Cafe

chocolate cupcake
from Jamaica's Cakes

carrot cake
from Mani's

chocolate layer cake
from Real Food Daily

vanilla raspberry cheesecake
from Real Food Daily

red velvet cupcake
from Sweet Lady Jane

chocolate blackout cupcake
from Real Food Daily

four of us sat down on sunday afternoon to devour this sugary goodness. there were clear winners and clear.. non-winners. it takes strong people to eat this much cake in one sitting!

next up: cake overload, the analysis and conclusion!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

(early) project: paperstuff

i am officially calling anything that will be printed-on, written-upon, folded-up, cut-up or stamped-on "paperstuff."

a dear friend (and former employer, and mother of my adorable ring bearer) is going to help design these things for us. this is a great, great relief to me, since i am absolutely horrible at design. i can come up with the ideas, have a picture in my head of what i would like, but no idea how to put it onto paper (or a computer program).

our gocco arrived yesterday. i went back and forth on buying one for a few weeks, since they are no longer making supplies for printing. i finally found a great deal on ebay and went for it. i am excited to practice with the screen printer, but i don't want to waste my precious screens and flashbulbs.

our first project will be save the date cards and magnets. we might go the postcard route, we might do a simple card with the magnet inside. my gocco deal came with 100 recycled brown cards and envelopes, and i would love to be able to use them for something!