Come see me at Market Day!

I found out last-minute that I was accepted into Market Day this weekend, so I just wanted to give you the information in case you can make it to the show.

Market Day is always a great time, and a good opportunity to swoon over other makers’ goods. Des Moinesians are so talented!

A loooong nap

This is the face of a dog that’s realllllly tired because she had quite the adventure last night.

Mike accidentally left the gate open when he was working on his car, so the dogs decided to mosey on out of the yard. We looked for them for hours, but couldn’t see or hear anything in the woods around our house. So we reluctantly went to bed, hoping that someone had found them and was waiting until morning to call.

We eventually did find them a couple miles away from our house, when a friendly stranger saw them running together and grabbed them. Thankfully they didn’t get into any trouble (that we know of), and are home safe in a deep sleep.

They are fine, but we’re a little traumatized!

Fall recipes

This has been my go-to sandwich lately.

I just slice up some apple and put it in the middle of a grilled cheese, along with some Dijon mustard. Then I put it on the George Foreman for a couple of minutes. Instant yummy lunch.

That got me thinking about some more fall-ish recipes you could make…

Wild-rice stuffed acorn squash

Apple crisp!

You should definitely revisit this easy tart.

Pumpkin bars. These are on my to-do list.

And do take any excuse you can to make caramel apples.

Cozy knits

Is it time for fall yet?

I say that because even though the leaves are turning and we have three pumpkins on our front porch, it has been so unseasonably warm this October that it hardly seems authentically fall. You might remember that last year in early October it snowed!

But two weekends ago when I did my craft show, it was so warm I got overheated and sun scorched, and most people weren’t in the mood to buy chunky knit scarves.

So, I’m hoping for cooler temps this weekend, because I’m doing the East Village Bazaar again.

I’ll have all kinds of cozy knits, even more than last time.

Organic and stripey knits.

Chunky wool knits.

Knits for your head.

Knits for your hands (with vintage buttons, too).

Knits for your coffee cup.

And knits for your house.

I’m also signed up for Craft Saturday on November 6, and the Green Gifts Fair Nov. 7. So, ready or not fall weather, the knits are comin’!

Another wedding weekend

Remember these people?

Well, last weekend Erin and Jason got their turn to be bride and groom, and it was yet another perfectly personalized celebration of love.

Erin was the most organized bride you’ve ever seen. She had instructional packets for just about everyone involved, and she made sure everyone was in the right place at the right time. And she was crafty, too!

I loved her bouquets of gerbera daisies, complete with little bundles of dried hops. (Many of the wedding details were beer-themed, since Erin and Jason both love to home brew).

The bridesmaids were all gorgeous, talented, interesting women that I loved getting to know. One of them even flew in from Vietnam, where she was doing some work prior to the wedding.

These beautiful ladies were in charge of handing out programs.

I’ll have some more photos and DIY details for you later, but I just wanted to share how much fun I had. Congrats to the ‘hoppy’ couple!

The photo booth

If you’re planning a wedding, I would definitely encourage you to have a photo booth at some point. One of the most fun parts after the wedding is looking at all those photos and seeing what you missed throughout the night.

I love how in any photo with Pete, he is always doing something completely different than anyone else.

It’s also amazing how creative people can get with a $3 chalkboard.

(Mike’s parents and their cabin are the reason we decided to get married up there).

Those are some gorgeous geeks!

Everyone seemed to want to carry each other (and then regret it later).

Our sartorialists.

So. much. fun.

My DIY North Shore wedding

I did my very best to condense the photos into a manageable amount, but there were so many good ones, I just couldn’t help myself!

So let’s start at the beginning. The morning of the wedding, my sister pulled out her hair and makeup artist skills and helped me roll my hair and apply makeup, which I’m terrible at. My cousin, Alana, and my maid of honor, Erin, were a huge help as well.

We decided I would head over to the lodge (closer to the ceremony site) to put on the actual dress. I wanted my mom to be the one to fasten all the tiny buttons before I made my debut.

I don’t regret my decision to DIY hair and makeup at all. It was one less thing to worry about and pay for, and I was completely happy with the way it turned out. My mom collected all the vintage jewelry I wore that day.

The dress was a different story. Though I loved it, I got frustrated with the process of going in over and over for fittings, plus all the added expenses of tailoring, and now cleaning. If I had it to do over I think I would really try to simplify that process.

The shoes were a DSW special. And I’m glad I kept it simple with those because during the ceremony my heels sank into about an inch of wet ground, ruining them.

Fortunately I had my bridal Chucks as a backup!

We skipped out on some traditions, like not seeing each other before the wedding. It was really important to us not to do things just because other people do them. We tried to make sure that if we held onto a tradition, it actually meant something to us.

We kept our bridal party small. It seemed like if we started adding people we’d have to add a lot of people just to avoid hurting people’s feelings.

Something we didn’t DIY? The flowers.

For the ceremony part, at least. I had always imagined myself holding real flowers. Even though I had to order the bouquets and pins sight unseen, the flower shop did an incredible job of executing my requests. They were absolutely beautiful.

For the ceremony site, my crafty friend Brianne decorated Lutsen’s wooden arch with an array of tissue paper poufs.

She and I, along with our friend Amy, had spent many nights folding little accordians for those poufs. The day of the wedding I didn’t have any time to actually put them up, so Brianne and her husband did it for me, and it was perfect.

We decided both to have a friend marry us and to write the whole ceremony ourselves. Brigid got ordained from the Universal Life Church and filed our paperwork for us. She also wore an adorable polka dot dress that was a huge hit.

It’s tough to write your own ceremony from scratch, even when you’re a writer by trade. We definitely saved it until the last minute. But after one teary evening spent in front of my computer writing my vows, and lots of time searching for readings we loved, we put everything together. Luckily a few friends agreed to read for us, and they did a fantastic job.

We also included a song, and asked the crowd if they would vow to support us in our marriage. We were both emotional at times, but neither one of us broke down. I just remember feeling so happy and excited.

We didn’t have a single crying baby. Just sweet little Quinn.

We designed the programs ourselves. For each person involved in the wedding we included a “fun fact.”

We saved a lot of money on our paper suite by using invitations from Target and our own (limited) design skills. We bought a laser printer on sale so we’d have better print quality, and it helped bigtime.

Having a Web designer for a husband was also a huge help when it came to building our wedding site. We used Traveler’s Joy for our honeymoon registry and found it super easy to use.

But back to the wedding!

For table decorations, my mom and I collected blue glass canning jars, which I filled with small tissue paper flowers. I probably spent less than $30 for all of the flowers and maybe $30 for all the jars. I put tealight candles inside old juice glasses, and filled little paper muffin liners with Jordan almonds. Each person also got a stripey straw for their water glass.

During the cocktail hour, which we basically missed due to taking more photos, the banquet manager informed me that we had already drank the entire batch of wine we’d ordered for the wedding. So we ordered 12 more bottles, and by the end of dinner that was gone too. Perhaps that accounts for what happened on the dance floor?

We also did a family-style dinner, which I loved. That way people don’t have to go through a buffet line, but they still get to decide what they want to put on their plates.

And then there were the cakes. Many, many people thought we were crazy to make our own cakes. But it truly wasn’t that hard. We baked them in advance, made the frosting at the resort, and frosted them the day before in the lodge bar. I painted the little cake toppers to look like us and we borrowed two cake stands from friends.

It was funny during the speeches — everyone kept saying something to the effect of “wow, it took you a long time to get married!”

Erin’s speech was much more emotional. And now I have to give one to her this weekend!

But my mom brought the house down with her wedding limerick. It was so funny.

For the dance, we had a friend of ours bring in his sound system and another friend manned the iTunes playlist on a computer. We also put together a slide show of photos that was a lot of fun.

This is one of my favorite photos from that day.

Danced with my dad to a Beatles song.

We set up a table with some old family wedding photos, and my grandma’s cake topper.

Instead of a guest book we had people hang bits of advice on a clothesline. Mike built the posts from some blocks of wood and 2 dowels. The cards are made from extra invites cut to size.

Our big surprise was having a few friends sneak up to the balcony and toss over a bunch of 36-inch balloons as a Flaming Lips song played. If you’ve ever been to a Flaming Lips concert, you know where we were coming from.

And then the dance just unfolded and I can’t say anything other than it was more fun than I’ve had in a long, long time.

I literally danced until my hair clip flew off and one of my straps broke.

But the best part, hands down, was when Mike’s parents decided to do the polka to Ke$ha’s “Take It Off.”

Suddenly all eyes were on them and Mike’s dad threw off his jacket. It was hysterical!

We had the photographers set up a photo booth in the balcony where people could write a message on a little chalkboard and pose for goofy photos. And oh my did they get into it. (More photo booth photos coming in a separate post).

When we were so tired we could barely stand, we had our DJ fast forward to the end of the playlist so we could head out to the bonfire. At first we hadn’t even planned to have a beach bonfire, but when we learned it was free and that we had to be out of the party room pretty early in the night anyway, we fell in love with the idea.

It was the perfect end to a perfect night.

Venue: Lutsen Resort in Lutsen, Minnesota
Photography: The dream team of Joe and Libby Crimmings
Dress: Blue by Enzoani from The Bridal Boutique
Bridesmaid dresses: The Sophia dress from J. Crew
Menswear: Heimie’s Haberdashery
Flowers: Anderson’s Greenhouse in Two Harbors
Invitations: Target
Rings: Joseph’s Jewelers. Mine is white gold, Mike’s is tungsten carbide.
Cake toppers: Goosegrease on Etsy
Stripey straws: Ephemera
Hair clip: Bean and the Sprout
Gifts for bridesmaids: E. Ria Designs
Giant balloons: Party America
Globe party lights: Target (I don’t see them online, but I bought them in the seasonal section of a store)

Wedding worries and why you don’t need them

During the almost two years I had to plan my wedding, I tried really, really hard to stay sane about the whole process. I had a vision of what I wanted the day to be like, and I certainly wanted to include a ton of DIY elements. But I didn’t want to set it up so it had to be the best day of my life. And I stayed very calm up until the very end.

The last week was tough. I started to feel panicky, running lists through my head and worrying about little things. The last couple of nights I stayed up late, unfolding tissue paper flowers in my hotel room, making more lists and fretting. The morning of the wedding was so hectic, and I just had this feeling like, “I’m running out of time!”

But after we took our family photos, pinned on our flowers and got ready to walk down the aisle, I just let it all go.

The rest of the wedding really was perfection. The more I think about it, the more I realize there will never be another night quite like that one. I still can’t believe how it unfolded, and I just want to pinch myself.

So if it helps any brides-to-be feel better about your big days, I just wanted to share some of the things that turned out to be no big deal at all.

A few days before the wedding I started checking the forecast for northern Minnesota. The good news was that it was supposed to be sunny. The bad news? The high was supposed to be around 50 degrees. Brrrr!

But the day before the wedding, after a brief morning rain, the clouds parted and it turned into one of those unbelievably gorgeous North Shore days that just blow you away. By Saturday it was just the same, only a little warmer. You couldn’t buy a more perfect day up there.

My other freakout came a few days before the wedding when neither of us could get a hold of our event coordinator. And by that point we had some pretty important questions. On our drive up there we finally got through to her boss, who told us that our coordinator had quit that day. Uh, WHAT?

Fortunately her boss took over the whole situation and helped us clear up every tiny detail. In the end, she was much easier to work with, and she saved me even more worrying.

At the last minute, several guests found out that they weren’t going to make it, and I started to feel kind of bummed that we had a smaller wedding than we intended. But again, I think it worked out for the best because I was able to genuinely interact with all of the guests. I don’t know how you can do that at a wedding with 150+ people.

And finally, I was concerned that with our schedule for that day (the resort requires you to be out of their restaurant by 5:30 p.m., so everything is a bit earlier than usual), people wouldn’t get into the dance part as much. I figured they’d hang out for an hour, then go back to their rooms, and by the time we got to the bonfire there’d be about 10 people left. I cannot tell you how wrong I was about that one! People danced from the first minute to the very last song.

Someone even told me we had the best wedding playlist she’d ever heard. Almost everyone came to the bonfire, and we kept our party going by moon and firelight.

The only thing I can think of that went wrong is that during the portion of the dance when we decided to toss around big balloons, some of them kept hitting our string lights until eventually one of the bulbs shattered onto the floor and the whole string of lights went out. I kept running around like a kindergarten teacher going, “Don’t throw the balloons at the lights!” But no one else cared at all, and a Lutsen staffer quickly swept up the broken glass, so everyone could keep dancing.

Lesson learned? The most important thing to do at your wedding is to be at your wedding and enjoy every minute of it.

More photos coming!

All photos by Joe and Libby Crimmings.

Honeymoon part 5: Sevilla

To get to our last city, Sevilla/Seville, we decided to take a bus because it was a much more direct route. It started out as a pretty nauseating ride through the hills while this old man next to me hacked up a lung. But eventually things smoothed out, and we got there really quickly.

We struggled a bit to find a place to stay, as there were very few listings online and they were really expensive. We finally found out it was because U2 was playing a massive concert there that weekend, so everyone had to pay festival rates for hotels.

(By the time we left, we were pretty sure Oprah was going to show up at the Minneapolis airport, as the president and Bono had already derailed our trip in parts).

We ended up in a pension that had a great location, but was definitely not worth the cost. Oh well. If that was the worst we did I’d say it was pretty good! At least the maid left us a tiny rose.

The first night we asked the guy at the front desk for a dinner recommendation and he suggested a place he said was populated by locals. So we tried it out and it was probably the best tapas experience we had the whole time.

The bartenders were racing around, telling jokes and laughing, and one guy in particular kept teasing all the patrons. Fortunately Mike knew enough Spanish to keep up with him, so we got two seats at the bar and ended up helping two French girls and a bunch of Dutch tourists order their stuff. The French girls were so funny. They were getting help from this older guy at the bar and before they left one of them gave him a kiss on the cheek. Then a minute later the other one came back and kissed him, too. Everybody cheered and he was so embarrassed.

I don’t have any photos of that but I do have photos of what we ate! We tried a tapa with a slice of chorizo covered with a quail egg.

Though I stayed away from most meats on the trip, I have to say the chorizo was pretty good. We also ordered Roquefort cheese with blackberry jam, and were pretty surprised to see them scoop this enormous hunk of cheese onto the plate. We didn’t begin to finish it, but it was really good.

Then we drank too many glasses of vino blanco and wandered back to our hotel for the night. You know, the usual.

The next morning I convinced Mike to take a carriage ride through the city, and it ended up being a great idea. It was still cool enough in the morning to be able to enjoy being out in the sun, and we spent a lot of time clopping through this huge garden in the middle of the city.

Our tour guide was very entertaining. He knew just when to pull over and take a photo of us.

The park was so serene and beautiful. A lot of people were taking their morning jog there.

Seville was a pretty cool city in general. They have a new tram that runs through the city, and a bike rental system that seemed pretty well used.

We found some lingering signs of the strike while we were there.

By the way, how cool is it that they still paste up signs? I don’t know why I liked that, I just did.

Passing by this wedding was a lot of fun.

Our next stop was … wait for it … the cathedral!

Actually, that’s not true. We went to this cool museum that had tons and tons of maps from the early exploration of the Americas. For Mike, a certified map nerd, this was amazing, and I enjoyed it quite a bit, too. But I didn’t take any photos there.

Seville’s cathedral is absolutely massive. In fact, there was even a certificate from the Guinness book of world records certifying that it’s the biggest church in Spain, or something to that effect. And I believe it!

This might have been the biggest door yet.

This was certainly the biggest altarpiece. It was so intricate you couldn’t really focus on anything.

Inside there were parts that were more like a museum, with beautiful artwork and pieces that had belonged to royalty.

This Goya was just stunning.

Most of the cathedrals we saw had relics like these.

One of the main reasons people visit this cathedral is that Christopher Columbus’ tomb is there. Apparently there is some disagreement as to whether or not his remains are actually buried there.

We took another climb to the top of the bell tower there. This one was awesome – instead of steps it was more like a ramp to the top. This was so horses could go up and down.

Looong way down!

I couldn’t help but take more pictures of doors. They are just so grand.

After the cathedral, we wandered over to a park and watched two guys do tricks on rollerblades while some adorable kids played with their nannies. Then we decided to go down to the area by the river and check it out.

It was beautiful over there! And I don’t think the book even mentioned it. We took a seat at one of the cafes and just watched people pass by on rowboats.

Before we left, I was determined to get one more thing: chocolate and churros. If there’s anything in Spain that seems like it could be a state fair treat, this is it.

The churro is sort of like a funnel cake and you dip it into a cup of really rich chocolate. Definitely a good idea.

That night we went to bed early since we had to get up at 4:30 a.m. (!!)  in order to catch our first flight home. We ended up going from Madrid to Philadelphia with 15 Spanish middle schoolers and their supervisor who had absolutely no control over them. Needless to say, I was so glad when we finally got home.

Overall I think we had an amazing trip, and we covered as much as we possibly could in that amount of time. In retrospect we wished we could have changed the order so we went to Ronda first (for more relaxation) and Barcelona last. But I think we’ll take a more low-key trip when we get to California. We want to go back to Spain another time so we can see Madrid and the northwest region. A lot of the foods we loved were from the Galicia region, so we’d like to see that. And maybe Portugal as well. So much to see!

Next up, my big post about the wedding. We finally got our official photos back and they are so, so good.

Honeymoon part 4: Ronda

Can you believe this honeymoon is still going? I can’t, and I was there!

Ronda was the first part of the trip that really felt like a honeymoon. It’s a much smaller town with beautiful views and all kinds of romantic vibes. Everywhere you looked you saw PDA. So you figured, why not join in.

We chose Ronda because we read that Hemingway and Orson Welles had both spent time there, and we knew we’d need a break from the bigger cities at some point.

The train trip there was beautiful. We took good old Renfe again.

Spotted a corn field!

Not this time…

This is the view from our hotel room, which was right next to the bullfighting ring, one of the oldest in Spain, opened in 1785.

I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but I noticed that all of the hotels we stayed in had original artwork in the rooms, not the cheesy prints you’re used to seeing. Sometimes they were a little racy!

Our first morning there, Mike woke up with the intestinal bug, but after a little rest he felt well enough to tour the bullring.

Neither one of us is interested in bullfighting, so we were there more for the history. Fortunately there was a great museum there, and even though it was national strike day, it was still open. It had a lot of great artwork and some original promotional prints.

There’s also an equestrian training center attached to the bullring, and we really enjoyed peeking at the horses and riders.

This horse was really enjoying his bath. (And I can understand why – it was HOT there!)

We explored some more during the afternoon, including a hike down a steep gravel path for some great views of the city. Ronda sits atop a massive gorge. So pretty much everywhere you look there’s a beautiful vista.

After we hiked back up the trail, we rested in this little plaza.

That night we had dinner at a very crowded tapas place that was worth squeezing into a tiny window seat for. I didn’t take any photos but I had a wonderful creamy vegetable soup with crusty bread and we shared a deconstructed goat cheese/walnut/pear salad.

The next day we toured the Cathedral, and found it a little disappointing. By this point our standards were sky-high!

We toured a city museum and learned about some of the caves in the area. It was so fascinating how far back each city could trace it’s culture. Underneath the Christian remains were the Muslim remains. And underneath that were the Roman ruins. And they were all so well preserved. Great stuff for geeks like us.

Also loved how the museums had these beautiful porches and courtyards.

Next we made our way down to the Arab baths, some of the best preserved ones in the world. They had a very sophisticated aqueduct system that would scoop water out of the river, send it down to the baths, and then pour it over heated stone to produce steam.

Then we made the long hike back to the rest of town. We definitely earned our tapas that day.

We had a couple hours to kill before our bus ride to Sevilla, so we found another park next to an overlook and just sat there listening to some musicians play.

Not a bad gig, eh?