The weekend

I caught an organizing/decorating bug this weekend. One of the projects I had been meaning to try was making a paper pouf out of newspaper. It took a couple tries to get a good one, but I think it ended up looking really cute. I made two for the wall above our TV, which has been crying for some decoration for a long time.

If you want to make one, here’s how:

-Stack 8 full sheets of newspaper in a pile and cut them into a 15×20-inch rectangle.
-With the 15-inch side facing you, start folding the pile up like an accordion. Each crease should be about 1 1/2 inches tall.
-When you get to the end, either twist a piece of wire or tie a piece of string around the center of the accordion.
-Trim the ends into a pointy shape. You’ll probably have to cut through the layers separately because the paper’s pretty thick.
-Spread the layers apart until you have what looks like a flower.

I also got new collars for the dogs. Reggie is quite proud of hers.

Found these cute little glass votives at a garage sale. They will make perfect little sampler candles, I think.

Also, I had to take a picture of my dinner the other night (black bean burgers). It just looked like summer to me.

The wedding to-do list

Engagement photo by Joe Crimmings

We are now less than three months away from the wedding, and after a very long engagement in which I haven’t done much at all, it’s time to get serious about the rest of the planning. I made a list of everything left to do, and it is looooong. But I’m not panicking yet. Yet.

We still need to:

-pick out menswear
-make our food decisions
-pick out rings
-order flowers
-write our ceremony and vows (this might be the hardest part)
-buy plane tickets and make reservations for our honeymoon in Spain
-test cake recipes and proportions for the pans we have
-Make the decorations, table numbers, goodie bags, etc.
-Send the invitations and collect RSVPs
-Find a dog/house sitter
-Make a photo montage

And a few other things…

So yeah, it’s a lot. Somehow making a list makes it feel more manageable.

If I have time next week I’m going to start working on the cake recipes. Thank goodness the bloggers at Smitten Kitchen and Joy the Baker have tackled this project already and offered their tips/recipes.

I am thinking of getting this DIY cake topper set from Etsy. It even comes with an extra bride and groom, in case of a mess-up (or if Mike wants a set for the chocolate cake he’s making).

I have been keeping an inspiration file of photos on my computer to help me wade through the sea of ideas out there. Honestly, the biggest challenge is deciding what to do out of all the possibilities. Having a tight budget has made it a lot easier to make decisions, and to feel like we are truly creating this wedding from our own hands.

These are some of the ideas I really want to incorporate into the wedding:

*Starting at the top, blue glass Mason jars with ribbon around the tops (for holding candles or flowers)

*A clothesline where guests can hang bits of marriage advice

*Goodie jars with cute patterned lids

*A brown cardigan with a cute flower. With the weather being cooler up there, I’ll need something to go with my sleeveless dress. I actually have a cute brown cardigan, and I’m sure I could make a flower pin.

*Hanging lights and colorful paper poufs for the reception area. Have you ever seen those light bulb string lights in a store?

*A simple cake with white frosting and a cute topper

*A table set up with old family wedding photos

*Big balloons!

Spotted in the garden…

… little green tomatoes!

You may have to look closely to see them, but they’re in there.

After a fairly dry spring, the skies just opened up this month, and it has poured rain for several days. When the sun finally does come out it seems like the plants (and unfortunately all the weeds) grow like crazy.

All of our lettuce has been cut and eaten (or given away), and the next round of plants is blooming.

After our two tomato deaths, the new ones seem to be doing really well. (Mike got the super sturdy tomato cages this year for them).

Same thing with the zucchini.

On closer inspection I see a lot of buds on there. Maybe we’ll get our out-of-control zucchini after all.

In the side garden I noticed these white flowers blooming, and I honestly don’t remember them from years past.

I love these bright yellow flowers that seem to thrive in the sun and heat.

The new coneflower seems to be doing OK. Maybe the other one was just too young and wimpy to survive in the heat.

In the front yard the lilies are starting to bud.

Unfortunately we did have one little incident in the backyard from all the storms. A dead tree that sat right along the fence line decided to topple over into the property behind ours.

Luckily it didn’t damage the fence, but most of it crashed to the ground. And it was pretty gigantic.

I’ve seen numerous HUGE trees go down in my neighborhood in the past few weeks. I can’t even imagine how much it is costing those homeowners to have them cut and taken away. The downside to living in an older neighborhood, I guess.

The week in poufs

I just finished knitting my fifth pouf in a week. I’m still not sure what caused the spike in sales. There was a link to my shop in an Apartment Therapy post, but that was after all the sales, so it’s still a mystery.

I’ve also been refining my method a little bit. It’s one thing to make a lumpy pouf for yourself. It’s another thing to ship an extra large to Australia. A lot of people have asked if they could stuff the pouf themselves, so I’ve been trying to make bags to hold the stuffing that don’t look like a six-year-old made them.

Lots of work. Lots of fails. Eventual success.

Oh, and I finally decided to keep one for myself. Orange, of course.

The week in photos

We grabbed the last jar of strawberry jam from a berry farm stand at the farmers market. They only sell it for a couple weeks a year, so you have to get it while you can.

The paper has many uses.

Shortcakes. Recipe here.

Our first wedding gift. It’s a handmade cutting board – absolutely beautiful.

Sadie snoozin’. From my photos it probably seems like this is all she does. Which is pretty much true. Sometimes she barks in the backyard.

Fingerless gloves I have been making. I ended up with a lot of partial skeins (two of each color) from knitting poufs with double strands. I figured I better start knitting for fall now while I have the time.

Experimenting with foam cubes as pouf filling. Five orders this week is keeping me busy!

Actually, we got so busy, Mike and I forgot to celebrate our anniversary. Our first date was June 3, 2004. So, believe it or not, it has been six years! Can’t wait to marry that guy.

New yoga classes

I am very excited to report that I will be teaching my first yoga class this weekend. A few months ago I took a training course from a local yoga studio, and now I’m ready to get out there in front of a class and teach what I know. I’m a little bit nervous, but mostly I’m just excited to develop my personal style, and hopefully it’s something the students can relate to.

By chance, I also got an opportunity to fill in for another instructor for a short vinyasa class on Mondays, so I’ll actually be jumping into two classes. Here’s the info. I would love to see you in class!

• Sundays, 10:30-11:45 a.m. at the Family Tree, 3817 Ingersoll Ave.

• Mondays, 5:15-6 p.m. at Firehouse Yoga, 2300 University Ave.

Both of these are mixed level vinyasa flow classes. The Monday class is just a bit more condensed.

And I’m still teaching my Nia classes:

• Wednesdays, 7-8 p.m. at the Family Tree (I alternate bi-weekly with another teacher)

• Thursdays, 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Firehouse Yoga

The next best thing to ice cream

It’s got to be rice pudding. I love eating it cold in the summertime. I discovered it’s even better with a few fresh berries on top. Last week my friend Arin made rice pudding topped with rhubarb sauce, which was also fantastic.

Here’s a recipe.

Some bloom, some die

I’m sad to report that my purple coneflower died pretty soon after I planted it.

It has been uncharacteristically hot and dry here the past couple weeks, so I think it became a victim of the weather. I was surprised it wasn’t sturdier, but live and learn. Mike went out and bought another one, so we’ll see how it fares.

The daisy has been struggling a bit, too, but as long as I water it every day it perks up and continues to bloom.

The dark pink roses finally bloomed, and they seem really happy. They’re just like the light pink ones — very delicate. The petals just fall off when you touch them.

Our new tomatoes seem to be faring well, and we have enjoyed many more salads from the greens. Overall, garden win!

Zucchini pesto bake

Later this summer when you’re either digging zucchini baseball bats out of the garden, or receiving them from friends, you’ll be glad to have this recipe. It’s really easy to make, and it also makes use of pesto, which I always have a lot of in the summertime. Luckily I still had some in the freezer from last year when I made this.

Zucchini pesto bake
adapted slightly from Beaverdale Living magazine

1 pound zucchini (I used 3 medium ones)
1/4 cup pesto
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 pound plum tomatoes
10 slices provolone cheese

Slice both the zucchini and the tomatoes into 1/4-inch slices lengthwise. Microwave the zucchini in a covered dish for four minutes. Pat them dry in a few paper towels.

Spread the zucchini slices with the pesto until they’re covered on all sides.

In a small casserole dish, layer half the breadcrumbs, then half the zucchini, half the tomatoes, and half the cheese slices. I had to tear one of the slices in half to cover it properly.

Then add another layer of zucchini, tomatoes and cheese, and top with the rest of the breadcrumbs.

Bake in a 375 degree oven, uncovered for 30 minutes.