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Archive for the ‘weddings’ Category

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It’s hard to believe that Jack and I have been home from our Pensacola trip for nearly three weeks now! My, oh, my, really where does the time go?! I just finished uploading and editing the photos from our two week vacation and, to no one’s surprise, there are quite a few pictures despite my best attempt at choosing only the best to include. There are also moments missing from these photos that I wish I had captured (like more with my parents, David’s parents, Mimi, and Martha…)- I guess we will have to make another trip there again soon!
Anyway, here are some of the highlights:

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We spent the first part of the trip at my parent’s house playing outside, going to the Naval Aviation Mueseum, discovering all of the fun, new food trucks and restaurants Pensacola now boasts, and pretending to swim in the pool (it was still quite chilly in the water).

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Easter was celebrated with a very early visit from the Easter Bunny, sunrise service, a large family lunch, and an egg hunt, before we headed out to the beach condo for our second week there.

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At the beach, we played in the sand, collected shells, found hermit crabs, swam in the Gulf water (!!!), took beach walks, flew the dragon kite, woke up doing barefoot beach runs with Jessica that included quite a few stops for shell hunting, and ended our day with the gorgeous sunset. We also shared plenty of laughs, like good families do. The story of Martha, Jessica, and my parents adventure at Red Bones in TN was hilarious! And, sorry for the inside joke, but Dad, so happy you got to have your bread pudding!

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One day, a great friend took us on a boat tour of the area. This was one of my favorite parts of the vacation. There is something so magical about viewing the land you know from the water. And, to be boat riding while holding Jack’s hand, well, that’s even better!

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Another highlight of our trip was Jacquelyn and Landon’s wedding! It was so gorgeous in the backyard bayou home of my aunt and uncle and, it’s always a great time having the whole family together to celebrate! Jack, per typical wedding behavior, danced his little booty off, even stealing a dance with the bride. After dancing for about four hours non-stop and telling us from the dance floor that when we get back to the condo, we are going to have another dance party (!), he passed out in my sister’s arms on the dock! Reminded me of a drunk and fun loving adult trapped in a four year old body! When we got home, Dad made us all (aside from sleeping Jack) a midnight breakfast of sausage and egg biscuits! The best!

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It was hard to leave such a comfortable place and loving family, but good to get back to David! Pensacola, you are in my blood and bones, we will be back soon! xxo

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The first weekend in August, our family of three travelled to the Bay Area to celebrate the wedding of my cousin, Jennifer, to her sweet boy, Alan. We spent a fabulous four days exploring San Francisco, Muir Woods, Stinson Beach, Sonoma, and kept our home base in adorable Mill Valley. And, I, not unexpectedly, fell in love with this part of the country! I find myself pining to get back and even scheming up creative ways to live closer…

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After flying into Oakland and grabbing our rental car, we made our first stop at famed In-n-Out burger in San Francisco, near Fisherman’s Wharf, for a late lunch. I have to say that I was sadly unimpressed…our southern chain of What-a-Burger is so much tastier! Plus, the location we chose was so busy that we had to eat outside in the wind and amongst the crazy number of very tame pigeons. Our dinner made up for it, however.

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After settling into our cozy and very cute cottage in Mill Valley, we met some Emory medical school friends at Sol Food and the Puerto Rican cuisine was amazing! It’s an order at the counter eatery with limited seating, but we got there early and got one of the coveted table. The plantains were delicious, the spicy shrimp dish was perfect, and the mango iced tea is something I find myself craving on hot afternoons. I wish I had photos, but we were too into our food and catching up with our friends to remember to take pictures! After dinner, we walked around Mill Valley and found a great playground (we have a special talent for this these days!). It was a fun first night that made us instantly feel like we “belonged” in this quaint town just minutes north of San Francisco.

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The wedding magic took place at the cozy English setting of Pelican Inn in Muir Woods beginning with the rehearsal on Friday night. Jack, who was the ring bearer, did a good job rehearsing and made me especially proud wearing his preppy outfit without a fuss. He was awarded with a new Wolverine toy.

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We spent the morning of the wedding at Stinson Beach. It was chilly and foggy and even a little drizzly, but glorious, particularly the windy drive through Muir Woods along Highway 1. Then, we went to Super Duper for lunch and ate one of my favorite burgers of all time…and, if you know how much I like burgers, thats’s no small feat! The burgers were juicy, the pickles homemade, and the fries garlicky and crisp. Yum!

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The wedding was fabulous and fun! So many unique and personal touches added by the very talented and artsy bride. The event was intimate and the dinner delicious and cozy. The English style pub was open the whole time, as they rented the entire Inn for the night, which created a fun pre-wedding and cocktail hour environment. What a wonderful event and setting to meet new friends and to catch up with some family!

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On Sunday, we went back into San Francisco to meet another Emory medical school friend and her two lovely little girls for some playtime at Dolores Park in the Mission District. And, I finally got to have a beverage from the highly famed Blue Bottle Coffee- I chose a New Orleans style iced coffee, which was delicious! They have several locations in San Francisco; we went to the funky little kiosk located in an alley in Hayes Valley. You may remember that I did some recipe testing for Blue Bottle (remember the granola that I teased you with?). I should share the recipe here with you since the Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee Book has now been published and I’m acknowledged!

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Just before flying out on Monday, we drove into Sonoma and Napa and had a yummy lunch on the back porch of Sonoma’s The Girl and The Fig. Then, we enjoyed a wine tasting at one of the oldest wineries in Sonoma, Buena Vista. It was a fun way to end the vacation and made us feel like we took full advantage of the area, although we could have stayed another week, easily and happily!
Even weeks after being there, I can tell you that the Bay Area has stolen a little part of my heart. What an amazing place!

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Fifteen years ago today (!!!), I kissed a boy at the beach, just days before our high school graduation, and, well, the rest is history!

Fifteen years ago?! Gosh, that’s really hard for me to wrap my head around…!

As a surprise (Surprise, David!), I’ve planned a date weekend to celebrate our fifteen year mark-
Jack is hanging out with his friend, Johanna, for the weekend- Thank you, thank you, Amy and Phil!

And, David and I will spend the afternoon either:
1. “the sunny day plan”- paddling around Lake Union past the houseboats, Gas Works Park, Fremont, and down to the Ballard Locks aboard a double kayak rented from Agua Verde Paddle Club and, then, enjoying happy hour drinks at the Agua Verde Cafe
OR
2. “the rainy/cold day plan”- visiting the Seattle Art Museum for the first time and perhaps catching a late afternoon movie.

For dinner, we will probably head to Liberty for sushi and cocktails- I’ve never been and David’s been wanting to take me…plus, their cocktail list looks amazing! And, we might even stop at a neighborhood bar on the way home for a nightcap…

The next morning will begin with a bike ride or a run followed by lingering over breakfast, perhaps even indulging in the Sunday Times…!

Happy Anniversary, Sweets! You still give me butterflies when you walk in a room…

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I couldn’t resist sharing a few more pictures from my cousin’s wedding last weekend. I promise this is the last of the vacation photos!

Cocktail hour during the rehearsal dinner. I took Jessica as my date since David was not yet in town;
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Our family photo at the wedding:
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I absolutely love this photo of David and Jack:
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The groom’s cake; I personally hate it (Go Gators!), but can appreciate how cool it is to someone who likes Florida State:
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Admiring the band:
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Stage jumping!
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My cute uncles:
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The nine Halstead siblings:
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Mama dancing with her little man:
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Our sweaty dancing fool who peeled his shirt off about halfway through the reception!:
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We are in Pensacola for 10 days (!!!) enjoying the sun, the waves, and the sugar white sand. I will be back to share some photos from our beach vacation, but I couldn’t resist sharing the photos from my cousin’s wedding right away. Jack was the ring bearer and did a shockingly good job holding hands with the flower girl, Chapel, and walking down the aisle…the only mishap occurring when he got to the end of the aisle- he stopped, turned around, and chucked the ring pillow back down the aisle with a huge laugh almost as if he had been planning that bit the whole time! At least it provided some comic relief!

My cousin, Heather, was a beautiful bride. The wedding was a blast…a good band with lots and lots of dancing, great food (mmm….shrimp and grits!), and an amazingly fun photo booth!

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Rehearsal dinner…amazing weather, the sunset during the cocktail hour was breathtaking!

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A pre-wedding snack break on the car seat.

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Loving the seersucker and pink bow tie and those curls!

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We didn’t get many family photos with our camera, but I at least grabbed a shot of Mom, Dad, and Jessica during cocktails.

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Note that his feet are not even touching the floor…Jack danced like a wild man for hours including quite a bit of stage jumping and falling down!

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Photo booth pictures… We took full advantage and visited it several times! Such a cute keepsake from the night.

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Jack turned two at the exact time as our plane left the ground, carrying us to San Francisco. I can’t help but feel wrapped in nostalgia with all the moments that filled the days that surrounded Jack’s birth…I wonder if all those vivid memories will ever be forgotten? I really hope not…

Jack enjoyed several days of festivities. We started Jack’s birthday celebration at school on Friday morning. We had a special story time in which he requested that I read his friends and teachers one of our favorite books, The Happy Day. Seriously, every child should have their own copy of this book…it’s really wonderful. All of the animals are hibernating and suddenly they begin to awaken sniffing the air. Following their noses, they find a yellow flower growing in the snow, they all laugh and dance at the magical discovery! After story time, we had a special birthday song (both in Hebrew and English) and game, then hugs from all of Jack’s friends followed by maple leaf cookies and juice boxes.

Friday night, I made a birthday dinner for Jack…he chose the menu. My heart swelled to the point of popping right out of my chest at the realization that I have such a foodie babe!
Salad: Rustic tomato and mozzarella with basil
Entree: Pasta with olives piquant, Tuscan bread with olive oil for dipping (recipe below)
Dessert: Banana chocolate chip cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (recipe below) and vanilla bean ice cream

Jack then tore into his presents…he has so many wonderful new things to wear and play with! Thank you to everyone who helped make his birthday extra fun with new things!20111113-122041.jpg

Then, we flew off to San Francisco and enjoyed a wonderful weekend in the sunshine! We spent Saturday on Stanford’s beautiful campus having delicious outdoor lunch with friends at The Cool Cafe at Cantor Art Museum, running around on the green lawn, and looking at the Rodin sculptures in the garden.
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On Sunday, we made a quick jaunt into the city to visit some friends at the beach area of Crissy Field.

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A very special thank you to Jennifer and Alan for making our wedding excursion possible! Jack still talks about you both…I think the Sprinkles cupcake outing was a real treat!

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And, Rebecca, the #2 shirt was wonderful! He wore it for his whole special day and really likes the dinosaurs!

Olives Piquant
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers

Mince 1 1/2 cups of assorted pitted olives in a food processor (I like to use a combination of green olives stuffed with garlic and black olives so the texture, colors, and flavors are different)…only mince until finely chopped, not pasty.
In a skillet on low heat, cook 4 cloves of minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until browned. Add the chopped olives and cook, stirring constantly, just until olives are heated through. Remove from the heat.
Stir the olive mixture into cooked pasta, you may want to use a bit of the pasta cooking water to give the pasta a bit of moisture, it’s up to you. I often forget to reserve the liquid and it’s always turns out yummy! At the table, top with grated Parmesan cheese.

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Banana chocolate chip cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese frosting
Adapted from Not Without Salt

For the cake:
Whisk together 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a small bowl.

Cream 1 stick of softened butter and 3/4 cup packed brown sugar in a large bowl by hand with a wooden spoon until pale and fluffy. You can also do this, likely with more ease, with a mixer at high speed, but I made these while Jack napped and I wouldn’t dare wake the birthday boy! Using a whisk, beat in 1 large egg until combined.

In a small bowl combine 2 ripe bananas and the seeds from half a vanilla bean. (To remove the seeds, carefully slice the bean in half using a sharp paring knife, then scrape out all the seeds using the knife.). Add 1/4 cup of sour cream to the bananas and vanilla bean, then combine this mixture with the butter mixture. Next, carefully add the dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated. Now, stir in about 1 cup of dark chocolate chips.

I don’t usually use cupcake liners, but I had some super cute Halloween ones on hand, so I used them this time. If you are not using liners, be sure to grease your cupcake tins well. Bake in the middle of your oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the cupcake pan for 10 minutes then move to a rack to completely cool before frosting.

This recipe makes 12 cupcakes.20111113-121801.jpg
For the frosting:
Combine 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, 1 tablespoon of sour cream, 1 stick of softened butter, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, beans from 1/2 of a vanilla bean, and 1 cup powdered sugar; using a mixer beat until smooth. To avoid lumps make sure the butter and cream cheese are very soft.

After the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost your cupcakes.20111113-121808.jpg

A note: Don’t thrown your vanilla bean pod away. I put it in a glass jar with some sugar and the vanillaness has scented the sugar, making it so tasty in my daily cup(s) of vanilla and cinnamon hot tea. David has used it to make cinnamon and sugar toast, also quite delicious!

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