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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chocolate Bread


It's been a long week.  I feel like that's always the case before holiday weekends - you have to earn it first.  Tensions are running high at work as deadlines approach and we start ramping up to our busy season.  I've been coming home in a daze, schlepping through my workouts (sometimes) and then schlepping through a shower and then schlepping into bed.  WW has been hard and the house is messy and I am terribly uninspired at the moment. It hasn't left me with much time or energy to compose those spazzy, hyperbolic blog posts you all love so much. 

Please accept this humble offering - I give you Chocolate Bread.  Friendsies?
 Chocolate Bread
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 2/3 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 ounces best bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 1/3 cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup + 2 T boiling water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Put a sheet pan in to catch drips and grease and line a 9x5" loaf pan with parchment.  Parchment is a must! Do not skip!  Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs ad vanilla, beating well.  Next, fold in melted and slightly cooled chocolate, taking care to blend but not to overbeat.  Gently add the flour and baking soda, alternating by spoonful with the boiling water, until you have a smooth and liquid batter.  Pour into the lined baking pan and bake for 30 minutes.  Turn the oven down to 325 degrees and continue to cook for 15 more minutes.  The cake will not be completely set, so an inserted tester will not come out clean.  Place the loaf pan on a rack to cool completely (as much as 24 hours) before turning out.  The center will sink while cooling. from Nigella Lawson - How to be a Domestic Goddess


You're welcome.  I hope to be back to my normal effervescent self very soon.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Five for Friday, vol 4

1.  You work incredibly hard at your job, and you're good at it.

2.  You're really excited about re-building our deck with my dad.

3.  You love looking at ridiculous houses for sale, just because.

4.  You know exactly when to buy and when to sell.

5.  You give me regular status updates on our wedding tree, how much it's grown, and how awesome it is.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Let's Fall in Love: The Low Point and Lots of Details

 This post has been hard for me to reconcile with, much less write, hence the delay between the last recap post and this one.  I loved wedding planning and being a bride to an infinite degree, so it's very hard to admit that my wedding day was not perfect.  It did not go completely as I had planned since age four.  I was not floating on a bridal bubble made of tulle and sunshine from beginning to end.  I'm told this is normal, but I was not expecting it and close to a year later, it's still hard to think about.



Everyone will tell you while wedding planning to not expect everything to be perfect on the wedding day.  I think this "something will go wrong, so don't worry about it" cliche is an effort to ease a bride's anxiety and nerves about all the little details she's spent months (years?) preparing.  That phrase stuck with me, and it was a comfort ... until the actual wedding day.  At the point, I was so braced for something to go wrong, that it actually made me incredibly nervous.  I hardly noticed when something actually did go wrong - like a bridesmaid's necklace falling apart, the aisle runner malfunctioning, or being incredibly late to our own reception. All of that barely phased me, up to a point.

However, when we arrived at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel for the celebration to start, I hit my low point.  I think a lot of brides experience this - some event or moment in the day when you are not quite floating on a cloud of love and glitter.  People are quick to call it a bridezilla moment, but really I think it's just a build-up of a lot of nerves and high emotions without the ability to really release it.  That's what it was for me, at least.  I was constantly winding up all day, and this was the first extended period of time when I wasn't "on."


We snuck into the ballroom through a side door.  My first thought when we walked in was that the florist had delivered someone else's wedding flowers.  The colors were right, and there was the right number of tall and short centerpieces, but the arrangements themselves were just ... wrong.  To this day, I have an irrational sense of anger over the whole thing.


 Flowers had been a detail very important to me.  We wanted lush, colorful arrangements to help fill the white room with color.  We did very little other decor because of the emphasis we thought we placed on flowers.  I had an inkling that something with our results might have gone sideways when the bouquets arrived at the church, undersized and underwhelming.  Mine was half the volume I expected (what we thought the girls would carry) and rest were basically nosegays instead of full bouquets.  Pretty? Sure, but not what we paid for.  I should not have been surprised to see sparse arrangements on the tables, but I was still shocked.  And angry.  And irrational.

Walking over to the cake table and seeing that our four-tiered buttercream wonder was missing half the decoration I had ordered didn't help.  I really wanted bows on the damn cake (and had taken ribbon to the bakery for them).  But there were no big ass bows on the cake, as promised.  Not cool. 


End of the world? Ruined wedding? No. Not even close.  But for a girl with emotions strung taught, it was really disappointing.  I almost cried ... on my wedding day ... over bows.  I am embarrassed to admit it now, but at the time it was a really big time and it's taken me almost a year to get over it.

Super fake smile. And a coordinator I had never met before and I was sort of like "WTF. Yes, I want champagne. Gimme."

She's not happy.  What do we do? Crap.  Where's the champagne?!

 Since we were short on time before dinner was to be served, our planned quiet time while the guests were enjoying cocktail hour was a mad dash to bustle my dress and change out my veil.  Not to mention, one of my bridesmaids had to sew one of the sashes back onto my dress from being pulled off during pictures while my mom and sister were trying to get 42 color-coded ribbons to match up properly in dim lighting.  If I recall correctly while I was swigging my champers and quelling an outburst, there might have been a heated discussion somewhere around my left butt cheek about the difference between lavender and baby blue, and why if crossed, it would be like cutting the wrong wire on a bomb diffusion mission.  Thankfully, the SWAT team of dress-bustlers figured it out in time.

 When you hit your low point, champagne helps.  Keep it coming.

At this point, in spite of being surrounded by happy and laughing friends, I was over-heated, pissed off, and just plain cranky.  I am not proud of how I felt or how I reacted, but if there is a moral to this story, it's that it is okay.   Things will go wrong, and you are allowed to be unhappy about it.  It doesn't make you a bad person or a bridezilla, just a girl who wants her wedding day to be as awesome as she pictured it.

 We'll just call it Meagan's Happy Bubble Juice.

I knew in my head that it wasn't the end of the world that the cake didn't have extra ribbon or that the flowers looked kind of naked.  I wish I could say that I let it go after that, but I didn't - much to Mr LikesIt's dismay.  Regardless of this less-than-awesome down point during the day, things picked back up soon after and I was able to get back to cloud nine.  The flowers being what they were still bothers me - I sort of rage blackout when I see photos to this day, but in the end, it's trivial.  We still threw a great party and we were all ready to get it started!


At least the food was good.  Cocktail hour hors d'oeuvres consisted of spanikopita, mini shepherd's pies, BLT bruschetta, and boursin cheese tarts.  OM NOM NOM NOM NOM.

Note: if something goes sideways, champagne helps and so do appetizers.  Got it? Good. Just pile them on.

 Apply to bridesmaids too. And then take awkward photos of them.

 Bridal Bomb diffused.  Thanks Bustle SWAT.
 
 My dress was finally successfully bustled, sashes intact, and I had likewise regained my complete composure.  Three glasses of champagne in 15 minutes will do that for you.  Azeza was procured from the rest of the cocktail hour outside of the ballroom and the bridesmaids were shuffled out to find their dates and mingle for the last few minutes. 

Thankfully, a few of them even signed the guest book.

Peace out, poof.

Hello, headband.

If you learn anything from me and my long-winded wedding recaps it is this: bad things might happen.  You might be so nervous you almost vom.  You might be late to your own party.  You might not get all the photos you want.  You might hate your flowers or have part of your dress ripped off.  And it's okay to be upset by all of it, at least for a few minutes.  After that, after you process the irritation and huffy feelings for a moment, look around.  Take a deep breathe.  

You know what the best part of all the "wrong" things are?  How right they make everything else.  

Like the perfect favors that your sister slaved over.  

The hilarious table photos of your dog in Mizzou costumes.
 The escort cards and calligraphy that turned out exactly as you wanted them to.

 The menu cards that your mother thought you didn't need, but you insisted on making anyway.

The fantastic, school-spirited groom's cakes.

The sweetest sweetheart table ever.

The photo collages of your family and bridal party that people commented on all night.

Not to mention the pair of kindergarten portraits of you and your five-year old would-be-future-husband in matching outfits.  And the guest book you agonized over, full of the engagement photos you loved so much.

And all the Mizzou touches and details.

And lots and lots of champagne at your disposal.  Bottomless bucket, for the win.

You know what actually makes everything perfect?  The people who came to support you.   

They are the best part.

Love conquers all.  Even bad flowers (rage!!)

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, followed by wedding party portraits

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Daddy's Day


I am lucky to have an amazing, supportive, kind, and funny man for a father. He's always been there for us and taught us a lot about what a man should be. Since getting married, I have a new level of appreciation for him, since he has become a dad for Mr LikesIt too. It will be some time before he's a gradfather, but watching him with little kids makes me so excited for it - he's going to be great at that, too.


I mean come on, he has a tractor, which pretty much makes him the coolest person on the world.

We attended a funeral for the father of two friends of mine from high school yesterday, so I am feeling particularly appreciative to have my dad around. Life is short, good men are in short supply.

Love you, Daddy.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Five for Friday, vol 3

1.  You spent hours working on the slide show for your first guest post.  I love it, even if Blogger doesn't want to upload it.

2.  You really take care of your mom and give her great advice.

3.  You are so proud of yourself when you make a really good dinner. I should let you more often.

4.  You buy me buffalo macaroni and cheese even though you don't like it.

5.  You have grown one hell of a garden.  It's been so much fun to watch.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Five for Friday, vol 2

1.  You make up hilarious yoga moves.
2.  You like to eat buffalo sauce on evvvvverything.
3.  You wake me up every morning to kiss me good bye and tell me to have a good day.
4.  You get the sweetest smile on your face when I wake you up from falling asleep on the couch every night.
5.  You are so proud of having a great lawn.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Let's Fall in Love: A Little Help from our Friends, part II

We started bridal party photos at the Old State Capitol, but being closed for the night, our time there was short.  We got back on the trolley to go around the corner to the newly renovated historic Union Station.  It was also closed, but offered more outdoor spots for photo ops.

 That's one good looking wedding party.

Several hours into wearing my wedding dress, I was still no better at moving around in it.  Mr LikesIt was holding my train as we were arranging ourselves for photos, and neither of us were paying full attention to where the other was going.  One sudden movement and ... RIIIIIIIIIP.  Everyone froze like a gun had gone off, staring at my reaction. I laughed it off.

Luckily, it was just one of the tails from my sash, easily hidden and easily repaired later.  Bmaid Sarah, however, thought that he was in trrrrrooooooubbbbllllle.

PDA!  Never have I smooched so much in public ...


We moved around to the pavilion in the back.

We have this one on canvas hanging in our dining room.


While the girls moved under a collonade to take their own photos, the boys still managed to entertain themselves ...


Amidst the goofing off, the rest of us managed to take some serious photos.


We fit a few last portraits in before it was time to go to the reception.  Cocktail hour had begun, by this point.  Just a bit longer and we were officially late.  And don't worry, the rest of the wedding party managed to entertain themselves during all of this.  There's beer on the trolley, you know.

Kappa frands! Lindsay, on the right, took many of the non-pro photos I've posted.

Did I mention the veil was OOC?

Love this, but not sure why we tucked my train behind me.  Looks awkward, no?  it would be one of my favorite, otherwise.

Boys will be boys ...


This is my favorite series from our portraits ...

Ahhhh, love.

With that, portraits were done.  Time to hit the trolley so we can hit the reception!


In good company, of course!

More awkward kissing on demand.

What do you think you're doing, sir? Inappropriate.  Or as I like to say, no-pro-pro.

K, but only cuz we're married and all.

Almost time for the partyyyyy!

I tell you what, the ride in the back of the trolley was like the best ever.  It was the least stressed and pressured I felt up to that point.  We arrived minutes later at the side door of the hotel, the cocktail hour in full swing inside.  We were almost an hour late, so we had to rush-rush-rush from that point on.  I stepped off the trolley to find my father waiting for me on the sidewalk, drinking a Diet Coke and grinning like a maniac.  He gallantly offered me his arm, which I accepted, and we headed inside the side door as though we were right on time.  The party couldn't start without Mr LikesIt and I anyway, now could it?

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, followed by wedding party portraits.