Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Wedding Planning - Part 2

I'm back with some more wedding planning topics! We have 11 days until the wedding, and it seems that as we get this close to the event, it's all about the tiniest details. Who will be bringing the escort cards and table numbers to the venue? What size mason jars do we need for the flowers? Why aren't we eloping? (Just kidding!) It's a lot to think about, and not for the first time, I'm so, so thankful we decided to go with such a small wedding and leave our large event (a reception with friends, to be held in Portland sometime next year) for later.

Our goal was to have each of our siblings involved in the wedding in some way. To that end, both of our oldest sisters are performing readings during the ceremony. My oldest sister is reading this. D's older sister is reading an amalgamation of two poems (1,2). We don't own a dog, so didn't feel that poem directly related to our situation, but we didn't feel the cat poem was complete on its own, so we mushed them together into something that speaks to us.

We purchased our rings at Robbins Brothers (the engagement ring store!) in nearby Bellevue. We had a really nice salesman who helped us purchase my engagement ring and wedding band as well as D's wedding band. My diamonds come from Canada (it's very important to me that I wear as conflict-free of jewelry as I can), and our bands are all platinum. I'm not big into trendy, splashy rings, so my ring is actually almost identical to the Tiffany setting, except with four prongs instead of six (and much, MUCH cheaper!). 

We went with minted.com for our website and invitations. They have some lovely patterns that we could choose from. In the end, I am creating the programs, escort cards, favors, and table numbers by myself, so it was nice to have someone else create the programs and design the website. The invitations turned out wonderfully, and we received many compliments on them. This is the design we went with, in lavender. 

My amazing sister-in-law offered to do my wedding hair, and I am forever grateful to her! She's cut and colored my hair since she came into the family (when I was about 7 years old), so I trust her implicitly to make my hair look amazing on the special day. In my brainstorming, I've been imagining my hair will be in a low bun:

Stay tuned for more wedding planning posts!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Wedding Planning

D and I are getting married at our favorite Seattle restaurant, Cafe Flora, a vegan/vegetarian restaurant located in the Madison Park neighborhood. We have gone there for many enjoyable meals, and thought it was fitting that we would get married there as well. They have an atrium as well as an outdoor garden in which you can get married. Due to our extremely small size (there will be 20 of us, including D, me AND the photographer), we are having the ceremony and reception in the outdoor garden:
D's brother is officiating our service. D and I are not religious, and I did not want to go through the trouble of finding a secular officiant who would be able to make the service feel personal and comfortable. We have spent a lot of time with D's brother, and thought he would be the perfect officiant. Thankfully, he said yes!

D's stepfather will be performing the processional and the recessional music on acoustic guitar. He has picked out a song called "All of Me" (not the one by John Legend) to be sung in French and "La Vie en Rose" to be sung in English. My nieces will be singing "When I Fall in Love" at the reception. I'll be putting all the rest of our music on an iPad playlist to be manned by my sister. It's going to be a lovely, musical day.

I purchased my dress at I Do Bridal Too, a local Seattle shop. It's currently being altered, so I am holding off posting any pictures of it until it fits perfectly. It's a sheath-style dress with a very low back and beaded accents. It's the very first dress I tried on, and it just felt right.

I am wearing these shoes [in gold glitter]! I'm a big fan of sparkles but not necessarily heels, so the actual time I spend wearing the shoes might be short. However, they are super cute and they look really great with my dress so who knows - maybe I'll end up loving them and wearing them the whole night!
Through a college friend, we found a really great photographer. She's a lovely person, and I really love the pictures she takes. I know she will capture wonderful photos of our families and us on our special day.

Stay tuned for more wedding planning to come!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Happy Summer!

Wow, it's been some time since I last wrote! So much has happened. I'll try to recap quickly:

1. I finished my first year of grad school! Boy, was it challenging, and in ways I never even dreamed. There were quite a few moments where all I wanted to do was quit. However, thanks to D's never-ending support and the support of my fellow classmates, I finished the year and with a 3.96 GPA to boot. This summer, I'm not taking a single class, so I can really give my brain a break.
A classmate and I are presenting on the bioactive compound lutein (it is found in dark leafy greens and is very important for eye health). Lutein is a sacrificial antioxidant, so it felt only natural to present our information as a parody of the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. 
2. D and I, along with his sister and brother-in-law and niece took a really quick sailing trip to nearby Blake Island. It was so fun to see D's sister and brother-in-law and their smiling little girl. We had a great time. We're going on another sailing trip later this summer, before school starts up again, with D's brother and cousin.

3. D and I got engaged!! That is by far the most exciting piece of information I have, so I wanted to save it for last. We are getting married on Saturday, August 6th at a nearby restaurant in Seattle. Since the end of the school year, I have been busy planning for the wedding. It will be tiny (immediate family only) and intimate. I really cannot wait to be married to this amazing man. Wedding planning posts will follow, of course!
We got officially engaged over Memorial Day weekend on Whidbey Island. This picture is post-proposal.
The beautiful ring! 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

What I'm Reading: March 2016

a sign of an early spring!
Oh my goodness. It's finally March, the light of this very dark tunnel is showing its head, and I'm able to see spring break in my near future. Not to mention other awesome things that are happening this month: St. Patrick's Day, Daylight Savings Time, the advent of springtime, family is visiting, and the rebirth of the sailing season!

This term has been difficult on so many levels. I haven't taken nearly as good of care of myself as I should have, so I've been depressed, antsy, anxious, wondering if this is the right program for me, and overall just "over it". The worst part of all of those feelings is that I only get two weeks to somehow refresh myself before I have to do it all over again for spring term! The upside to spring term is that it'll stay lighter later, strawberries will be in season (!), and I can go outside more to study without freezing my butt off.

For anyone thinking about getting a science-based graduate degree: think verrrry carefully! And then think some more! And know that it's always ok to take a step back, take a breath, and then continue again.

Without further chatter, here are some of my favorite things I've read or seen online lately:

-You need to see/read this infographic if you have a sedentary worklife, or know someone who does. As someone who spends a depressingly large amount of my time sitting due to class and homework and studying, this really worries me.

-My favorite fitness gurus, Kelli and Daniel from Fitnessblender.com, just added a new 4-week butt+thigh-focused workout program! I can't wait to try it.

-Yum - these oatmeal crackers from The Pretty Bee look delicious! I've never made crackers from scratch before.

-My favorite spiralizing genius, Ali Maffucci from Inspiralized, is going vegan for March! Her first recipe, for vegan pulled pork looks amazing.

-From The Kitchn: 5 small electrical appliances every cook should have in their kitchen.

-As a "treat yo-self" to myself for finishing this difficult term, I just purchased this cute outfit from Fabletics. If you like Fabletics and join the site via this link, your first outfit is only $25 (and, full disclosure: I get $10 towards another outfit)!

-In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day, look at these awesome {gluten-free and vegan} Leprechaun hats from Cara at Fork and Beans!

-Oh my goodness, Chocolate-Covered Katie has done it again, this time with chocolate. peanut butter. an ice cube tray. Amazing.

-I need this shirt. Or this one.

-Think about not adding protein powder to your smoothie next time. Dietitian Ellie Krieger explains why.

-For more St. Patrick's Day recipe ideas, check these links: PETA, Vegetarian Times, Vegan Corned Beef from VegWeb, Vegan Bars in which to celebrate the holiday (from VegNews), Oh She Glows, and Care2.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

CLOSED Dining at the Ravens Cookbook: A Review, Recipe and a Giveaway

I'm so pleased to talk about this wonderful book today. It is derived from a great place -- The Stanford Inn -- an all-vegan eco-resort located in Mendocino, CA. I haven't had the pleasure of staying at the inn or dining at its all-vegan restaurant, The Ravens, but after looking through this cookbook, I really want to make both of those events a priority the next time I'm in northern California. 

This cookbook is lovely. I've really enjoyed flipping through it. There's a forward by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, color pictures are included next to nearly every recipe, and each photographed dish is artfully and elegantly presented so that you can sense just how classy the restaurant itself is. It is obvious that the authors put a lot of time and effort into creating the recipes and writing the cookbook. 

There are so many recipes that I still want to try, such as:
  • Citrus Polenta with Braised Garden Greens and a Creamy Toasted Cashew Sauce
  • Ravens Chilaquiles
  • Trumpet Royale or Tofu Satay with Peanut Sauce
  • Almond Hazelnut-Encrusted Tempeh
  • Vanilla Crème Brûlée
However, there are only so many hours in a day, so I will be sharing with you just one delicious recipe from the book, for Potato Leek Soup with Drunken Leeks. Leeks are in season right now, and potatoes and vegetable broth are both likely foods you have on hand already, so this should be a fairly easy soup to pull together for dinner. I hope you enjoy it just as much as I did!

4–6 servings

This is one of The Ravens’ very popular soups. When it’s on the menu at night, the next day there’s none left for the staff “family meal.” In the days of root cellars, potato leek soups were commonly served in winter. We serve this soup year-round.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4–5 medium Yukon Gold or red-skinned potatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
⅓ cup minced parsley
3 large leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
6 cups Ravens All-Purpose Vegetable Stock or store-bought vegan broth
1/2 cup coconut cream (use the top layer of coconut cream from a can of coconut milk)
1–2 tablespoons lemon juice to taste
Salt and white pepper to taste
Drunken Leeks (see note)
Crispy Leeks (see note)
Tangy Sour Crème, for garnish 
  1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add potatoes, celery, parsley, and leeks. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 8–12 minutes.
  2. Add vegetable stock, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30–40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Leave chunky, or blend in a high-speed blender to desired texture.
  4. Lastly, add the coconut cream, and season to taste with lemon juice, salt, and white pepper.
  5. Garnish with Drunken Leeks, Crispy Leeks, and Tangy Sour Crème, in that order.
To make the Drunken Leeks: Cut 2 leeks lengthwise into thin strips. In a heavy sauté pan, wilt the leek strips in 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Douse wilted leeks with 1 cup red wine and simmer for 10 minutes.

To make the Crispy Leeks: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice 1 leek into 1/4-inch disks and sauté in 1 teaspoon olive oil with 1 teaspoon salt. Transfer to a sheet tray and crisp up in oven for 15 minutes, or until browned.

Makes 1 3/4 cups

This sour crème can be used as a base dressing in potato salad or coleslaw. For those of us who like Thousand Island dressing over a wedge of head lettuce, re-create it by adding a small amount of ketchup and drained pickle relish to this recipe.

1 (14-ounce) package Wildwood Sprouted Silken Tofu or 1 (13-ounce) box other firm silken tofu
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup

  1. Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and puree until smooth.
  2. Season with additional salt or lemon juice to desired taste.
BenBella books and the authors of Dining at the Ravens, Jeff and Joan Stanford, have generously offered me a chance to give a lucky reader one copy of this fantastic cookbook! Please enter the giveaway below. It will run from midnight of 2/11 to midnight of 2/16.  

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