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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Let's Fall in Love: A Little Help from Our Friends, part 1

After getting the business of formal family portraits out of the way, Mr LikesIt and I joined the rest of the wedding party (and their dates) aboard the trolley to head off for photos.  We had expected it to be a party, but the lack of music sort of impeded on that.  Nonetheless, the two-block drive from church to Old State Capital was still a pretty nice ride.  There is nothing I love more than having all of our friends in one place.


Now downtown Springfield is not a very large place, so I mean it when I say it didn't take very long to get from point A to point B.  We made our way to the Old State Capital, and I barely had time to down my champagne before we arrived.  However, we were not in time.  Remember when I said our extra time spent with confetti, trolley send-offs, and extra family pictures would result in a disappointment?


As we disboarded and prepared to go inside, we realized that it was just past five o'clock, when all historical sites (of which there are many) in Springfield close for the night. 


Our friends looked on as Mr LikesIt begged, pleaded, and even attempted to bribe the staff to let us in for a few quit shots - he had listened to his wife talk for months about the amazing staircases and architecture inside the building - but alas, the staff would not budge, not even for a bride with a thing for Abe Lincoln.

Since Mr LikesIt is a bit of a rebel, and since nothing would bring him down, he suggested the next best thing.  If they wouldn't even let us inside the building, we'd just take photos outside of the fence.  Take that, Historical Society!


The rest of our friends joined us by the gates for group photos and portraits.  I had told Matt beforehand that it was important to me that they were relaxed and not super-posed.  It turned out to be a good mix of both, especially our portraits, which were very spontaneous.

Somebody's excited to marry me.


And because I know you love outtakes ...

Huzzah! On to the next location!

In case you missed it ...
I bought a dress and completely changed it.  We had a marathon final week of engagement.  I giggled my way through our rehearsal.  Mr LikesIt got grilled at our rehearsal dinner.  The groomsmen ran amok in downtown Springfield. The girls got gorgeous.  We exchanged mushy wedding-day gifts.  The guys got fancy and then got dancy.  I became a Bride.  There was a first First Look. I shared my Somethings.  The boys made the most of trolley-time. And did their thing on the Capital grounds. The girls took photos at the hotel. Everyone arrived at the church. We walked down the aisle. We declared our intentions and my cousin preached. We exchanged our vows. Our hands were blessed. Mr LikesIt put a ring on it and kissed his bride. We were pronounced Mr and Mrs! We left the church in a blizzard of confetti, and took a "just-married" trolley ride. We made it legal. We took pictures with our families.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cayenne Chicken with Avocado Salsa


It's been a rough week for weather in Missouri.  First the horrific storms in Joplin, then today another super cell dropped funnel clouds from Kansas City to St Louis before it moved into Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  

Have I ever mentioned that I have a huge fear of storms?  Huge.  So I am sitting in my upper-floor office this afternoon, reading three-hour old twitter feeds from people ducking and covering in KC, looking out my westerly-facing window, watching everything turn green.  Sirens started going off, which also meant the floor PA system located in my cubicle also went off, which pretty much sounds like the "whomp whomp whomp whomp" teacher from Peanuts, except for the words "take shelter immediately."  And that's when I got real smart and decided to make a break for it and make my 30-minute commute home.  

Tucker Bear and I hung out in the basement while we watched storm coverage and did some work.   Kenny making his way home was the worst part of it, being that funnel clouds and softball-sized hail were being reported at that time along his entire route home, but all's well.  St Louis was spared serious damage, though points east did not necessarily get so lucky.  After the tornadoes here on New Year's, Good Friday, and the subsequent storms in Tuscaloosa and Joplin, I have to say I am counting my blessings to be passed over, once again.  

Once the skies cleared, Kenny bought me new mascara and Jimmy John's, and we went on with life.  But instead of eating sandwiches, let's pretend I am not a huge baby about severe weather and made a nice healthy dinner that involved lean protein and healthy fats, shall we?

And also, don't forget about Blogs for Dogs either.

Cayenne-rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, (6 to 8 ounces each)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 Hass avocado, pitted and cut into chunks

In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cayenne; rub all over chicken. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add chicken, and cook until browned on the outside and opaque throughout, 8 to 10 minutes per side.Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine onion and lime juice; set aside. Just before serving, fold avocado chunks into onion mixture; season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken topped with salsa. from Everyday Food

Much better plan that what I did.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Coconut Banana Cake

Mmmmmmmm ....  cake.  

There's something about making a cake from scratch that makes me feel like I've arrived as a baker.  Not that there's anything wrong with mix from a box cake, there's a time and a place, but scratch cake?  That is legit.  It's also especially gratifying when your cake comes out looking strikingly like the picture.  So much so that you have to document your doppelganger of  cake for the whole internet to see.


Check it.  Hell yes.
Banana Coconut Cake
3/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup pecans
1 cup flaked coconut

Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coconut extract
pinch salt
1/4 cup cold evaporated milk

In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs, beat for two minutes.  Add bananas and vanilla, beat for two minutes.  Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well; add to creamed mixture, alternating with buttermilk.  Mix well.  Stir in pecans.  Pour evenly into two greased 9-inch round cake pans.  Sprinkle each with coconut.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, loosely covering pans with foil in the last 10 minutes of baking to prevent coconut from burning.  Cool in pans for 15 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely. coconut side up.  

Make butter cream frosting: cream shortening and butter until smooth.  Add remaining frosting ingredients, beating on a low speed until combined, and then on high five minutes until fluffy.  Place one cake layer, coconut side down, on a cake plate.  Spread with a crumb coat of frosting, and then a thicker layer on top.  Top with second cake, coconut side up.  Spread sides and top edges of cake with remaining frosting, leaving coconut center exposed.  
Adapted from Taste of Home.
I am not usually one for banana cake, but even I loved this one.  Leftovers keep well in the fridge, but it's safe to say there won't be many. Only make this cake if you have a lot of ice-cold milk on hand to pair with it.  Enjoy!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Let's Fall in Love: Family Affairs


Our ceremony had been over for less than an hour and Mr LikesIt and I were already running late.  Typical.  There wasn't a lot to do about it - and I wouldn't trade the photos we got from our last-minute confetti-sendoff or spontaneous trolley ride for anything.  However, it did make the next few hours feel frazzled. Not that the party could really start without us being there, but it did zip to ease my still-in-knots wedding anxiety tummy. 

There was a fair amount of milling about as we prepared for family photos, and eventually the bulk of the wedding party was dismissed to the trolley to enjoy the beer and fresh air while we hammered through the list of formals poses. 


That list was supposed to go something like this: bride, groom, parents, parents, grandparents, full family one, full family two, peace out.  Twenty minutes.  But we added poses as we went and it snowballed.  I was never stressed out about it (again, my party) but it did impact the timeline later on, which ended up being a minor bummer (to be explained later).

He put a ring on it!

 Live and learn, but I would have either started the ceremony a bit earlier (or the cocktail hour later) to make more wiggle room for photos.  I should have known that these things never, ever go according to the schedule.  I've been to (and in) a million weddings by now.  Oh, coulda-shoulda-woulda!


So everyone was corraled towards the front of the church, and business commenced.




The famblies.

I love my Grandma!  I'm her first grand-daughter (of four) to get married.

Mr LikesIt is equally close with his grandparents, and they were so excited to be there for us.



Off schedule or not, one thing I really appreciated during the portrait session was the unbridled enthusiasm that both families showed us.  Everyone was just so excited to be there.  Parents, cousins, granparents, aunts, uncles ... it was overwhelming, really.  It was incredibly touching to know that we have this network of people in our lives who genuinely care to celebrate milestones like this. 


Family portraits took about twice as long as we had planned for, but at that point there were few things that could bring us down.  We left the church one last time (with much less fanfare) and joined our friends aboard the trolley for another ride around downtown.  

And by that time everyone was raring to go, the Happy Couple included.


In case you missed it ...
I bought a dress and completely changed it.  We had a marathon final week of engagement.  I giggled my way through our rehearsal.  Mr LikesIt got grilled at our rehearsal dinner.  The groomsmen ran amok in downtown Springfield. The girls got gorgeous.  We exchanged mushy wedding-day gifts.  The guys got fancy and then got dancy.  I became a Bride.  There was a first First Look. I shared my Somethings.  The boys made the most of trolley-time. And did their thing on the Capital grounds. The girls took photos at the hotel. Everyone arrived at the church. We walked down the aisle. We declared our intentions and my cousin preached. We exchanged our vows. Our hands were blessed. Mr LikesIt put a ring on it and kissed his bride. We were pronounced Mr and Mrs! We left the church in a blizzard of confetti, and took a "just-married" trolley ride. We made it legal.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Let's Fall in Love: Let's Make it Official

Our post-ceremony trolley ride was short and sweet and we headed back to the church after circling the block.  The wedding timeline dictated that it was time for formal family photos, something we were planning on taking about twenty minutes, and then we would be off and away for wedding party photos.  Of course, that wouldn't exactly go as planned.

First, we had to make it legal.

Check.

Check.

Check.

Check.

Check-check.

And guess what? Married FOR REAL!  Like in the eyes of the government! And it will only take three whole months to get official proof of the union back from the state!  

Huzzah! I promise more exciting recaps from here on out.

In case you missed it ...
I bought a dress and completely changed it.  We had a marathon final week of engagement.  I giggled my way through our rehearsal.  Mr LikesIt got grilled at our rehearsal dinner.  The groomsmen ran amok in downtown Springfield. The girls got gorgeous.  We exchanged mushy wedding-day gifts.  The guys got fancy and then got dancy.  I became a Bride.  There was a first First Look. I shared my Somethings.  The boys made the most of trolley-time. And did their thing on the Capital grounds. The girls took photos at the hotel. Everyone arrived at the church. We walked down the aisle. We declared our intentions and my cousin preached. We exchanged our vows. Our hands were blessed. Rings were placed upon them, and Mr LikesIt kissed his bride. We were pronounced Mr and Mrs! We left the church in a blizzard of confetti, and took a "just-married" trolley ride.