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How does one go about writing a single post encapsulating their wedding? Having come off a good nine months of obsessively reading several wedding blogs on a daily basis, you’d think I might have figured this out by now. Some newlyweds write wedding graduate posts full of reflection and self-awareness; some are artfully set up as inspiration board theme parties (think A New England herbal barn wedding or J&N’s local-infused DIY faux-vintage chocolate extravaganza…); yet others simply show photos and let the images speak for themselves. Myself? I’ve been stuck.

It’s not like I haven’t been thinking about it. I did just spend the bulk of a year virtually singly-focused on preparing for this day. As you might expect, I have plenty of thoughts on the matter. But how to approach? Do I offer words of wisdom for future brides-to-be? Think in retrospect about which things were wise decisions, and which things I would do differently? Wax philosophical about the virtual barrage of life lessons that were hurled at me along the way?

I’ve always admired the many women who write from the heart about their joys and struggles, hard-won victories and humbling blessings, their moments of grace and of shame. I’ve been hesitant to do so myself, however, because I don’t want to dispel any of the magic that is still settling down around the corners of today, this beautiful afterglow of our wedding. To be sure, I encountered plenty of both good and bad along the way — to say it was an emotional year is a bit of an understatement — but I am so grateful and relieved to be able to say that it was all worth it. Every last cent and each minute spent, every long night of insomnia, fighting back stress and the hounds of indecision… It all culminated in a day that will live in my mind and heart forever, the culmination of a year after which I’ll never be the same. How do I write that all in a single post?

So for now, I’d like you to know one thing: Our day was perfect. In every way. And I would not change a thing. Except for those d*mn chairs…

Bottom right photo compliments of Max Germer



 

All photos by Maureen Cotton Weddings, except as noted.

 

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I’m back!

…with a new name and a whole slew of DIY wedding crafts to post about. And just maybe some delicious food as well.

I’m happy to report that our wedding was the event of the century, and all went off without a hitch.

Regards,

A very happy Mrs.

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Baby W was born at 11:57 pm last night, after 42 hours of labor. There was time to make cake as well.

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Mini Blueberry Bundt Cakes

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup 2% low-fat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Lemon Icing

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons 2% low-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a small mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into creamed mixture. Fold in blueberries.

Pour into three 4 inch bundt pans coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 25 to 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

For icing, in a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk and lemon juice; drizzle over cakes. Garnish with additional blueberries if desired.

NOTE: If using frozen blueberries, do not thaw before adding to batter.

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There’s nothing like the anticipation of a new baby.

We had a baby shower for my sister a few weeks ago, and as expected, it was full of food, handmade gifts and more onesies than you can shake a stick at. By special request, I made his and hers diaper bags from Anna Maria Horner’s book, Handmade Beginnings. Erm. Have I mentioned that I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew when it comes to special occasions? (You’ll notice that there’s been a distinct lack of posting regarding my ongoing wedding planning. Suffice it to say that there will be several posts in September/October forming a grand unveiling of the sheer extent of my event-planning mania).

Point being, these were not easy patterns, at least not for me. On the upside, I learned so much more about my sewing machine, zipper installation, and why it is a bad idea to substitute poly/nylon strapping for 100% cotton strapping if you have any intention of ironing your work. Ditto for the plastic zipper. I also learned to despise working with Peltex II ultra-firm interfacing, while simultaneously falling in love with the little zippered pouch. And did I ever form a close relationship with my seam-ripper…

First up: “The Dad Bag,” for stylish metropolitan dads-on-the-go.

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I used an upholstery weight fabric for the outside (Also polyester. Really, what was I thinking? Let’s just say this bag is not flame retardant). For ease of sewing, I’d recommend actually reading and following the book’s instructions, and use a cotton home deco weight. Don’t even get me started on the interfacing. I think my sewing machine is still trying to forgive me.

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The bag is lined with a grey print from Robert Kaufman’s “Metro Living” collection, which I was very happy with. Inside the bag is a series of elastic loops for holding bottles and whatnot.

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Also included is a matching changing pad — a nice good size — that can be folded and stored in the front zipper pocket.

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Next up: the “Here We Go Bag” for Mom

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For my sister’s bag, I used an assortment of prints from Sandi Henderson‘s Meadowsweet line. Prior to picking out fabrics, I put together a quick fabric “style quiz” for my sister to help determine her tastes in modern quilting fabrics. Sandi was a hit, along with Jennifer Paganelli. Hmm, wonder if I can figure out how to make an online version of the quiz, just for fun. Why exactly are quizzes so irresistible, anyway? Another mystery of life…

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The design features box-pleated pockets on the outside (another successful learning experience for me!), a divider on the inside (less successful), and then I added a couple of simple inside pockets.

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This pattern also comes with a changing pad, although much smaller than the one that went with the Dad Bag. Hopefully not too small to be useful? I improvised piecing together a couple different fabrics for the front — mostly wanting to stretch out the brown print, which I only had a fat quarter of!

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The bag has an elastic loop in the upper left corner to hold the changing pad, but I decided to make a changing pad/diaper/wipe pouch as well, following this tutorial from Craft Buds. I liked the all-in-one aspect that allows you to just pull out the pouch and run to the ladies room without bringing the whole bag, if need be. I picked up a little plastic baby wipe holder for the inside pocket, so she can take just a small amount of wipes out with her. I might make it just a tad larger next time around (1/2 inch extra would do), as it’s a little snug once it’s fully loaded.

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By this time, I was in a full-on accessory crafting fury, and decided to try my hand at a zippered pouch to hold Desitin and the like. A quick Google search turned up a super simple tutorial by Skip to my Lou, and I was on my way. This was by far the easiest, and therefore most instantly rewarding, part of the whole sewing adventure. (Although piecing the front of the changing pad was fun too…) I see many more zippered pouches in my future — in fact, one for me is already in progress.

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And one more gratuitous shot of the full suite:

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Moving on to the shower itself: On Saturday, I hosted an informal BBQ shower for friends, featuring asparagus wrapped in prosciutto (a new family favorite), Italian and barbecue chicken style strombolis, Italian sausages with peppers and onions, hamburgers with Vermont cheddar, fruit salad, tortellini salad, and of course, cake and beer. I was, of course, a bit preoccupied with managing all the food, so didn’t get any photos, unfortunately. My mother and aunts threw the formal family brunch the next day, and while I can’t take credit for the food at that event, I was free to snap photos that are well worth the look! They truly outdid themselves:

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Olive Cheese Balls. These things are truly addictive. I think I single-handedly ate half a tray.

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Lemon-Parsley Gougeres

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Tomato Stuffed Peppers

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Simple green salad

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Prosciutto, mozzarella, and fruit salad

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Roasted Potato Tart with Fresh Tarragon, Sautéed Mushrooms, and Melted Gruyere, from Once Upon a Tart

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Chocolate Crackle Cookies

And finally, the pièce de résistance:

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Lady Baltimore Cake

Yeah, that whole getting carried away thing? It runs in the family.

And then…

And then your sister goes into labor, and the real meaning behind her pregnancy starts to hit home. A new life is making its way into the world. There’s going to be a new member of the family you already love so much.

But then time drags on, and nothing happens. You wait. You do what you always do, and keep your hands busy. You make a lasagna to take to the hospital. Seven in the morning crawls into seven at night, and you find yourself pacing, impotent to help. You eat the lasagna. You chat with family on the phone, send anxious text messages to the hospital. Bedtime comes, and you finally fall asleep, waking every two hours to glance with blurry eyes at your phone to see if a message notification has popped up. You wake up the next morning, and find yourself deliberating on whether you should write a blog post, or bake a little birthday cake. Blog or bake cake, blog or bake cake. And you realize that both options seem silly in the context. You decide that blogging at least lasts longer, and has less chance of being incidentally eaten. You find yourself reminiscing about your childhood, remembering your sister by your side through every step of your life. And you think of her in the hospital, in pain, and maybe, just maybe, shed a tear or two while you write.

I cannot wait to meet my new niece. I’ve been beset by a single image of holding her and feeling her wrap her hand around my finger for the first time. I love you already, Baby W. But for now, I wait.

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This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of heading down to the first annual Boston Local Food Festival on the wharf in Fort Point. Now, before I go any further, let me stop right there and take one of my patented asides to address the question half of you are wondering:  Huh? What’s a Fort Point? Where’s Fort Point? I’ve lived in Boston for <<insert number of years here>> and I’ve never heard of it.

For the uninitiated, Fort Point is simply a specific section of South Boston, aka “Southie.” Southie should not be confused with the South End and certainly never confused with the South Shore. (Not that there’s anything wrong with the South Shore. I live there. But it sure ain’t Southie.) Fort Point’s also conveniently across the bridge from South Station. Got it, Southpaw?

For some time now, Fort Point has been hyped as the next “up and coming” area of Boston, and has become a trendy spot for artists, loft dwellers, and foodies, thanks in no small part to the efforts of local superstar chef Barbara Lynch. (More on her another day. Suffice it to say “GODDESS”). Fort Point’s most recognizable resident, however, is the giant Hood milk bottle that stands watch over the Boston Children’s Museum. Check out the Friends of Fort Point Channel website for more info on the neighborhood.
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Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s move on to the festival. If, like most folks, you judge the success of a festival by the number of attendees, then all I can say is that this was a resounding success. It was CROWDED! Yup, the local food movement has Boston all wrapped up in a tizzy. A tasty tizzy, inspiring an event that was pure Boston, through and through. In a move that brought a smile to my face, they even trotted out Mayor Mumbles (as we affectionately call him) for some grammatically incorrect opening remarks.
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The festival had a little bit of everything, from food to demos to games:

  • free food samples
  • butchering demonstrations
  • food vendors and trucks
  • non-profit orgs and charity crop sharing
  • slow food twister
  • cider pressing & butter making*
  • chicken coops & container gardens
  • a competitive seafood cooking throwdown
  • live music
  • beer tasting

*The butter making was super cool — maybe because I tend to enjoy kids activities more than most kids (or certainly more than an adult ought to). Basically, you take whole cream, put it in a Mason jar, shake it for about 20-25 minutes, and it separates into butter and buttermilk. Seriously, isn’t that COOL????

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In no particular order, some of the things I especially enjoyed were:

Pickles from Grillo’s. Seriously? I couldn’t get a picture of the pickles without someone’s hand in it because there were that many people jockeying about for a taste.
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Pig butchering demo by Chef Matt Jennings. Folks were NOT sticking their hands in THAT photo, but I still couldn’t get close enough for any gory pig photos. You’re crushed, I know. What I didn’t realize at the time was that Matt is the chef at Farmstead down in Providence, which has been on my “To Eat” list for far too long! Marcy, it’s time for another food trip to R.I.
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Fish cooking demo by the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association. You all know how to say “Gloucester,” right? Yeah, it’s “Glosstah”. Angela Sanfilippo (at left) was just fabulous to listen to. Very engaging. I loved hearing her stories of how the organization got started and her own involvement in helping to protect the local fishing industry here in Massachusetts.
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Bobby O’s pita chips. Pretty self explanatory, really. They tasted fantastic, so I snapped a photo in lieu of a business card (it was a “Zero Waste” event, after all!). Go buy some.
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Alternate grains from Four Star Farms. WARNING! About to expose myself as a super ultra geek. I had to buy a bag of the triticale flour because (gulp) in the Star Trek “Trouble with Tribbles” episode, the Tribbles were gorging themselves on the ship’s supply of quadrotriticale. I like that episode. Moving right along now…
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Olive Berries! Never seen/heard of them before. Chef Didi Emmons brought them out during the seafood throwdown and let us give them a try. Tart! (The berries, not Didi). Aren’t they beautiful?
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Didi’s apron. Lovely, eh? Check out the embroidered pocket… It’s a teacup. Sweet!
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THE FOOD. Rightfully, the star of the show.
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We ended up eating the pork and heirloom tomato sandwich from Sportello for lunch, but unfortunately in my haste to consume, I forgot to take a photo of the sandwich itself! Ah well, you can take a look at the preparation, instead.
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All in all, the Boston Local Food Festival was THE hip place to be on Saturday. A complete list of vendors is on the Food Festival site — help support local food!
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My one regret? Supposedly David Coffin (of Christmas Revels fame) was doing a roving performance of sea shanties and the like, and we missed him. We thought we heard him off in the distance at one point, and tried to steer our ship his way. The throngs of people proved too strong for our tired vessel, so we turned alee, never to find out if he in fact wears something other than tights outside of the Christmas season. Perhaps it’s just as well. I like the idea of Mr. Coffin being perpetually in tights. But that’s another story.

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I’ve been doing my city-girl best to get my country on as of late, and I do declare, I’m doing a good job. I’ll be sharing some more fun market finds with you later this week (there is a Celtics game to watch tonight, after all!), but I couldn’t wait any longer to share some photos from last weekend when my boyfriend and I headed up to Brattleboro, VT for the annual Strolling of the Heifers event. The long and short of the event is that they walk ~80 cows (and goats and horses and sheep and oxen and people) right down Main Street. How could I not go? (How could ANYONE not go, really?) Check it out:

"BrattleBURRO kicks ASS" Love it -- Ha!

"Annie"

I want to steal the flowers for a front door wreath!

At the PETTING PEN post-parade.

Unfortunately, our grander plans to continue up further North after the parade were cut short by the TORNADOES that decided to hit Vermont that weekend. Since when does Vermont get tornadoes? Anyway, we decided it would be in our best interest to head back to Boston post haste after the parade, and so we did.

While I may not have livestock at my little urban homestead, I sure do have an affectionate kitty waiting for me whenever I open the door. And no tornadoes.

And the verdict? Zoe wins, hands down. Once again.

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