Friday, June 24, 2011

Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner Fun

Boy am I dragging this event out. I hate writing (and making you read) long blog posts though so you'll just have to deal with the wedding cake suspense for a bit longer. Deal.

What I didn't mention in the previous post is that while I was working away on the cake that Friday afternoon, using a good chunk of the kitchen counters in my parents' kitchen, they were working on the salads and side dishes for the rehearsal dinner to feed 70. It was a mess, to say the least but we managed to make it work. Thankfully, my Mom, Dad and I have worked together in kitchens many, many times in the past so we are pretty good at the give and take required (I'll give you this knife if you give me some counter space).

We finished everything up, got threw on some semi-nice clothing and headed out to the wedding venue at a beautiful spot along the Susquehanna river.

While the rehearsal went on, the rest of us occupied ourselves by keeping babies busy.

 And by comparing freckles; little Luke has a long way to go to catch up to his Mommy.

 What a beautiful wedding space!

The rehearsal dinner consisted of pasta salad, veggies and chips with dip and 25 boxes of pizza from what I believe to be the best pizza place on the planet earth, Park Pizza. Please, promise me that if you are ever driving through Williamsport, Pa, you will stop for a pie. You won't be disappointed.

And after dinner, we reminded ourselves how much fun it is to have an underwater camera!

 The little babies loved the rafts!

Little Emma is cute as can be in her frilly purple suit!

 Jolly Giants (is that Alaskarella?) supervised (and photographed) while Aaron and Michael took a swimming break.

Aaron shows off his under-water abilities along with the camera!

 Zoey and I toughed out a marathon of swimming and after we all returned home, the whole family crashed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Getting There (with a wedding cake)

 Did I mention before that I was doing the wedding cake for my brother's (and now sister-in-law's!) wedding two weeks ago near our hometown in Pennsylvania? 

Did I mention that I was going to be baking the cake (for 170 people) in Saint Louis and flying with it to Pennsylvania?

Well, I did.

And it was stressful.

Along with the stress of baking some rather large cake layers in a less-than-perfect (read:cheap-apartment-grade-but-at-least-its-not-electric) oven, cutting the cakes into nice, even layers, freezing the cake in layers, there was much more that needed to be acquired, packed, and remembered.

I feel like I should copyright this.

© 2011 Lauren D. Reindl
Well, that wasn't so hard! Not that I really think it bares (bears? I don't know which one is grammatically correct here!) any legal clout. And I feel like I need to copyright the information, not just the picture. Any lawyers out there? I'm confused.

Anyway, this is the write-up for this particular wedding cake (which I seem to have left at home. Mom? Is it there?). And after at 4:30 wake-up (it's OK, Pepin had me up at 3 anyway), a quick pack of last minute things (including 4 frozen wedding cake layers into a Igloo Cube cooler along with an ice pack and all the sharp objects and toiletries we were taking home [since the rest of our luggage was carry-on]), we jumped in the car and headed to the airport.

Parking at the St Louis airport can be as cheap as $7 per day -- isn't that crazy?

 And this was our lovely greeting while we waited for our plane at 6am.

Our first leg out of Saint Louis was extended in the air for a bit thanks to some nasty weather that the pilot had to avoid so we ended up landing in Detroit 30 minutes late.

Leaving us, and our cooler under the plane only 30 minutes to get to the next plane to Elmira.

We made it -- Detroit is a pretty easily navigated airport -- but then I started to sweat. Would the cake make it?

Then the announcement came over the loudspeaker: "Flight *blablabla* to Elmira, New York has been delayed because the crew had been held up on another flight". I've never been so happy for a flight delay in my life.

And then the cake came. 

40 minutes after our scheduled departure we were on the ground in Elmira (or Corning...whichever it actually is).

Hello Corning/Elmira Regional Airport. So nice to see you!

My dad was there waiting for us. Unfortunately, since the man has never and will never own a cell phone, he wasn't warned that we would be late or how late we would be. It seems to be our curse that we can never get in on time from a flight (thinking back to our long trip home). 

As soon as the cake came around the conveyor belt we ripped it open and checked (it had been duct taped for the voyage) on the cake, which was fine; a bit thawed, but fine. 

45 minutes later we were home and after greeting what few family members were already at our house, Zoey (my 4-year-old niece) and I got to work on the cream cheese icing for filling in between the layers (she put in the butter). And within two hours, the four layers were filled and back in the freezer, ready to be iced the next morning.

Then we all went to the rehearsal dinner and the fun began.

Stay tuned for rehearsal fun, wedding pictures and most importantly, cake pictures!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Where to Begin?

I know, it's been forever since a post. 

We returned from our PA hometown over a week ago and I am only now just starting to feel like life is back to normal...whatever normal is these days. 

I have lots to catch up on here so you can look forward to many posts in the next few weeks involving everything from brothers and sisters to nieces and nephews with a few cakes, ripening tomatoes, growing jalapeƱos, pickling beets and sharpened knives thrown in for good measure. Notice please that all topics mentioned above, aside from family, has to do with food. 

That's just how I roll.

In the meantime, here a few lovely pictures from the mess I came home to find in the frantic day before flying to PA with a frozen wedding cake. 

That, my friends is wine from a bottle that popped its cork. It's hard to see in these photos, I know. It was much more vibrant in person, and the smell...oh the smell; my first concern was that Pepin had been boozing it up while I was out (kidding, kidding -- I'm not that crazy!). 

Again, it's hard to see but the wine shot from the bottle on the far side of the dining room, through the dining room and almost to the far side of the kitchen; 15 feet. I measured.

And it managed to touch on everything  nearby as well: the walls, the dining room table, even making it to a far wall to the left of where this picture was taken. 

Needless to say, it got cleaned up but only after I let it sit for an hour until Michael came home from work so I could show him. It was too funny and amazing, really, not to show him.

And that way he had to help me ;-)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Balcony Garden Update

 It's been a few weeks since I've highlighted the amazing growth that's been taking place on our little balcony. I've in no way inherited my parents' green thumbs (can't even count the number of plants I've killed) and we've struggled with some of the bi-polar weather this spring (frosts, cold and soaking rain, tornado warnings and high winds) but the opposite swing (over a week now of over 90° days) has really given the garden the kick start it's needed.

And in case you aren't the gardening type, you might want to skip this post. After reading over it, I'm amazed at how long-winded I can be over a 8x11 foot space.

I realize that I never got around to showing off Michael's Birthday presents. I purchased two blueberry plants because they apparently need to have another one around to facilitate cross pollination. And I purchased two types so that we would have different harvesting seasons, thus extending our fresh blueberry eating time. Now, I must admit that I never would have thought to keep blueberries in pots, but Gayla Trail in Grow Great Grub (my current container and small space gardening bible) makes it clear that container grown blueberries can do quite well. Our master plan is to transplant these babies into the ground when the time comes that we have our own yard. This particular plant is the "Patriot" blueberry, and as you can probably tell from the already blue berries, this is our early harvest plant.

This is our "Jersey" (late harvest) blueberry bush with my massive mint alongside. There are many green berries on this plant and while there are one or two blue berries, I don't expect that we will be harvesting for 2 months or so.

 Don't mind the wilty-ness, I watered just after taking the pictures. But regardless, these are my cucumber plants (top right and bottom left) which already have blossoms and tiny cukes growing. The bottom right plant is our lavender which has been growing like crazy; I've already harvested twice and am due to harvest again tomorrow before we leave. The strands of drying lavender are hanging on the same hook as my France calendar which happens to be on a Marseille theme this month. The pairing is very fitting. The herb on the top left is a new dill plant. Since the sage seemed to be over-taking the cucumbers, I opted to transplant it to its own container and put something a bit less invasive.

 Herbs clockwise from top left:
Cilantro is doing OK. It was taking over for a few weeks but unfortunately it went to seed and I didn't catch it in time. We'll see if it comes back or if I have to replace it. Since Michael has an aversion to Cilantro, having a plant means I no longer have to feel guilty about buying it in the store for only one of us to eat it. You could say I've become cilantro dependent.
Terragon is finally taking off after the addition of some worm castings (aka worm poop) to the soil.
Parsley is also starting to catch up with my demand. I have a problem with using too many herbs as soon as I get the plants, not allowing them to get really established before I start eating them.
Chives are also new to the garden. I struggled with the basil that was in this container. It didn't like the cold, wet weather that we had last month so when I finally decided to replace it I opted to move it into it's own container that could easily be taken into the house when the weather isn't perfect. The chives are still quite new but are establishing themselves nicely.

 As you can see, my upside-down tomato plant experiment has been working out quite well. The plant is huge and as of my count this morning, I have 7 tomatoes so far. Two of the three basil plants in the top have done quite well (Thai and the new Purple basil) but the Greek basil struggled with the cold weather and I haven't been able to get it to grow more than one stalk, so we'll see how that one pans out.

 The lettuce, radishes and onions are doing much better after a move to the other, cooler side of the balcony. We have been eating and thinning out the lettuce and onions for quite awhile now and I'm trying hard to keep the radishes happy and damp.

 All of the herbs seem to be loving our heat wave, including the transplanted sage (huge, right?) and the new basil which (thanks to more worm poop) has probably tripled since we bought it last weekend.

My jalapeno plant is doing well but teaching me patience. It has been flowering for quite some time so I was starting to worry that I wasn't seeing any peppers but my research this morning assured me that these plants can take 4-6 months to produce.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Home Improvement Part 3

Not too much has been done on the home improvement front in the past few weeks. As I mentioned in my last post, we've been busy. We have, however, acquired some apartment additions that have made a world of difference in how our spaces feel. 

 In this picture alone we have two things acquired (or purchased) when Miss Emily made her move to Boston, the floor lamp and the bookshelves. More than anything, I am so happy to have at least a bit more of our books out of storage.

We also acquired the floor lamp in this picture from Emily and the new bed was a great Craigslist find. It was a bit out of the city, maybe a 45 minute drive, but it was well worth it. And after a good rub-down with Howard Restore-A-Finish (which I highly recommend if you have anything with a dull or scratched finish), the bed looks almost like new.

What's Next?

As soon as we get back from our PA trip this weekend, this dresser will be receiving the same red/orange treatment as the wine rack in this blog post.  I also need to find some fun hardware to replace the fake chrome.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Busy Times

 We had visitors on the Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend. Mary and Michael Neumann stopped by on their way across the country. Mary is a great friend of both Michael and I from our school days back in Wellsboro and we had the pleasure of meeting Michael a few years ago before we were all married. Michael Neumann and I tend to have a love/hate relationship though, depending on where we are in the football season (Steelers fans and Ravens fans generally don't mix come playoff time) ;-)

 We had a great time with them though, enjoying a late dinner on Sunday then getting up early on Monday morning to go downtown. We spent some time in the park around the Arch and played in the flooded Mississippi river. This was our first time seeing the Arch up close. 

 It is pretty impressive I have to admit. 

Mary played paparazzi with my dream camera (Nikon D90) while I took pictures with my Android.

After the Arch we walked back into the city through the amazing CityGarden and eventually we ended up eating lunch at the famous St Louis establishment, Blueberry Hill

After the guests left on Memorial day we fired up the grill and made these amazing smoked ribs and a great and refreshing macaroni salad. That night we went to Emily's last Martini Monday (friends that get together every Monday for drinks, a weekly event that was invented by Emily) at an amazing rooftop bar that's not too far from our house. 

 This is Emily. She is sad in this picture because our candle holder in front of her exploded while she and another Emily were over for dinner a few weeks ago. I spent a few days after Memorial day helping her pack up for her move to Boston. She and I became quick friends after we met approximately one month ago. I feel like I've known her for years which makes me very sad that she is gone but also very happy for her that she finally gets to be in a non-long-distance relationship with her boyfriend of three years.

 This is a cowl (raveled here) that I have been knitting in my spare time for the past month or so. It was a lovely (and free!) pattern but it wasn't quite the mindless knitting that I tend to enjoy. The changing pattern every row meant I couldn't space out and watch tv while knitting it. It did turn out well though, and went to Emily before she left. I'm just waiting for a picture of her wearing its so it makes a bit more sense. Unfortunately, since the cowl is made of wool, this might not happen for half a year or so.

 After that the week seemed to fly by and before we knew it Thursday was here along with our first CSA (or farm share, if you prefer)delivery including:
Strawberries (already gone)
Wheat Berries
Iceberg lettuce (1/2 gone)
Free-range eggs (2/3 gone)
Green Garlic (almost gone)
Spring Onions (will be used tonight)
Russian Turnips (will be used tonight)
Red Mustard Greens (one leaf eaten by Pepin)
Romaine Lettuce (mostly gone)
Radishes (1/2 gone)
Broccoli (maybe I'll throw them in tonight too)
We're trying hard to get through everything so the fridge is cleaned out before our next delivery the day before we fly back to PA to finish...

...this cake for my brother Ben and soon-to-be sister-in-law's wedding this weekend. We can't wait to celebrate with family and friends and mostly, I can't wait to see all 9 nieces and nephews!