Get inspired: Brianne and Joe’s wedding

We spent a lovely weekend in the Chicago suburbs attending our friends Brianne and Joe’s wedding. They couldn’t have asked for better weather — it was sunny and warm, but not too warm, with barely a cloud in the sky the whole time.

Here we are with our ‘bees knees’ cocktails – yum!

Prior to the wedding, we did what any self-respecting Chicagoan would do, and had a picnic along the Fox River with a box of Lou Malnati’s pizza.

I think we made a lot of passersby jealous. (But if I’m being completely honest, I have to say it was my least favorite of all the Chicago deep dish pizzas I’ve had). Still pretty darn good, though.

Brianne and Joe had their ceremony in a bright, airy chapel.

(Complete with a unity candle set I had made for them – with an extra candle for Brianne’s dad, who passed away a few years ago).

Afterwards, we headed out to a picturesque farm for the reception. Beautiful!

We walked through the greenhouses and along all the different rows of veggies, and swooned.

Imagine being able to plant everything you wanted to eat. They even had apricot trees!

We petted the goats and visited the chickens.

I can’t get over how much goats’ ears remind me of my Sadie. Their little tails wag like crazy, too.

We met up with some characters from DeMo.

My friend Karen, co-owner of the best paper store ever, Ephemera. (And no she didn’t drink both of those drinks…)

Plus Sophia and Kimberly, my former coworkers at Juice.

The groom looked happy as can be.

Sadly, this is the only photo I got of the bride in her cute dress. My camera died shortly after.

I did get this shot of the tent while they were dancing.

Everything was so cute, from the paper lanterns, to the glass jars of flowers, to the heart-shaped sparklers we lit in a long line. Loved it all. The dance was pretty rockin’, too.

Congrats to Brianne and Joe. Have a blast on your Austrian honeymoon, you two!

Wedding cake test: success

I meant to check “test cake” off my list a little earlier last week, but I didn’t get time to do it until about 10 p.m. the night before we were about to leave for Chicago. Crazy, I know, but it was one of those times when you just decide you need to do something, and you don’t stress about it, you just do it.

I started with Deb’s recipe for vanilla buttermilk cake (found here, scroll down). I decided to test one 3-layer cake, the same size as the middle layer would be, a 10-inch circle.

I had to run out and buy eggs (another reason for the delay) because you need 7 just for this part. Yikes! But the recipe came together flawlessly in the end. It makes 9 cups of batter, a lot more than I’m used to working with at once, but the perfect amount for 3 layers. The batter is soft and smooth and easy to work with. I decided that I wanted to make it just a little more special, so I added in the goop from one vanilla bean pod that I had.

You can see the little flecks in the batter and in the finished cake. Nice!

It took a little longer to bake than the 26-28 minutes it called for, maybe 32 minutes or so? Once I took it out of the oven, the domed top immediately sank, giving the top a perfectly flat appearance, which makes it easier to stack and frost.

I did notice, though, that the rack in the oven is a little bit on an angle, so with smaller cakes there will be some adjusting to do.

The thing I notice with from-scratch cakes (especially buttery ones) is that they end up a lot crumblier and more finicky than cakes from boxed mixes. But in the end they make a dense, rich cake that is worth the extra effort.

This cake tasted great with a little buttercream frosting I whipped up, and after a day in the fridge it tasted even better. Since the cakes will be frozen and thawed during transport, I feel good about how they are going to taste after a couple of days.

I think just to be on the safe side I am going to have to quadruple this recipe to have enough batter for all nine layers. That equals 10 sticks of butter and 28 eggs, if you’re counting. That will be a fun trip to the store.

My biggest concern is the frosting, which we decided we are going to make there. Keeping it at the right temperature could be a little tricky. But strangely I don’t feel that stressed about the whole process. I’m actually really excited for it!

I also ordered the cake topper kit from Etsy, so that’s two more things I can cross off my list. Whew.

Oh my

The other day after I finished pouring a new bag of dog food into the Rubbermaid container that we keep it in, I came back into the room to find this scene.

‘Cause you know the crumbs in the bottom of the bag just taste awesome.