All I want to do today is snuggle up in this nightwear from Toast.
All I want to do today is snuggle up in this nightwear from Toast.
Instead of making resolutions, I have a list of what I'm looking forward to in the coming year. Last year it was learning French, our wedding/honeymoon, cooking, and writing. This year, I'm looking forward to...
taking mini-vacations to nearby islands.
getting organized, and donating things we don't need.
celebrating our 1st anniversary. (10th dating anniversary!)
finding some new favorite restaurants.
learning more about photography.
forming new traditions.
exploring the neighborhood.
...and launching a big new project (more on that soon).
I've been making this brown sugar spice cake recipe a lot this winter, bringing it to family gatherings and giving it as gifts. Usually I make it as a 6" cake, but for Christmas, Stefan gave me a mini bundt pan, and I knew that I had to make this yummy cake in miniature form. So. Let's get baking...
In a mixing bowl, start off with 1 1/2 sticks of butter. It should be nice and soft, but not completely melted.
Next, add 1 1/2 cups of packed brown sugar.
The spices are what make this cake special: 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 3/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp allspice, and 1/4 tsp ginger. Aren't those colors gorgeous?
Next, add 1/2 tsp salt into the mix...
...and the très important 1/2 tsp of baking powder.
Mix until all ingredients are well blended.
Grab three eggs and mix them into the batter one at a time until smooth. (I love cracking eggs.)
Here's what your batter should look like. We're almost done; just two ingredients to go...
...2 cups of all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup of orange juice.
Add the flour into the mixture a little bit at a time, alternating with the juice. Keep mixing.
The finished batter.
You could pour the batter into pretty much any pan, but I used a mini bundt pan brushed with melted butter.
After filling the pan with batter, bake at 350°F until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (In this pan, it took 20 minutes. For a single deeper cake, it takes about 30.)
Here's the little cakes, straight out of the oven. Now comes the fun part. Put the cooling rack on top, flip the whole thing over, and shake them loose...
So cute, I sort of don't even want to eat them.
For a little extra prettiness, dust them with powdered sugar.
Bon appétit and Happy New Year :)
I love finding pretty tea packaging, like this from Ikaati. (Sadly, it's not clear where to actually buy it.)
Mailed these little Christmas gifts off yesterday to family members. Inside each box is one of these.
As I mentioned before, after dinner, Stefan and I snuck away briefly for a few more portraits. And where did we go? The roof of the restaurant. Talk about a cool place to escape to.
For those of you who asked, yes, we did meet in elementary school. Kindergarten, actually. In second grade we played footsie during a root beer float party at our school. In fifth grade I gave him a note with an embroidery floss bracelet and instructions to wear it if he agreed to be my "secret boyfriend". He did, but then accidentally lost the bracelet. The summer before our senior year of high school, we went on our first official date (mini-golfing and a Woody Allen movie). Our wedding day was our nine year anniversary.
You might recognize these cake toppers that I spent forever making. They were absolutely perfect for the mini cake that Canlis made us.
We cut the smallest slice of cake ever seen, and fed a bite to each other.
Besides our itty-bitty wedding cake, we also had a dessert bar with crème brûlées, berry tarts, and chocolate covered ice cream pops. There was another table set up nearby with coffee & tea.
Even though we didn't have dancing, there was music playing the whole night. Our playlist was a mix of old and new songs, like i'll try anything once, i can't help myself, heart skipped a beat, blue moon, cherry blossom girl, blackbird, and fade into you.
Right before our photographers left for the night, a group of us took over the bathroom so I could get a few shots reclining on the chaise. That's right – there's a chaise in the bathroom! I tried to look poised while the rest of the ladies looked on.
Then the night was over, and we left happy and exhausted.
Thanks so much for letting me share all these photos! Before I go, I want to thank our amazing vendors and share a few sources. (Also, a big thank you to 100 Layer Cake for featuring us.)
photography: JL Photografia
venues: Ballard Locks for our portraits and Canlis for the wedding & reception
food + cake: Canlis
my outfit: J.Crew dress (the Gracie gown), Nine West pumps, earrings from my aunt
my hair & maid of honor's hair: styled by Erin Hunt
stefan's outfit: Hugo Boss suit, Calvin Klein shoes
officiant: my uncle
flowers: bought in bulk from Marigold & Mint and arranged ourselves
decor: manzanita branches from Blooms & Branches, floating candles from Quick Candles
paper goods: designed + printed by me
photo guest book: fujifilm INSTAX 210 camera, handmade guest book by Linda
engagement ring: Erie Basin
After the ceremony was over, everyone was seated for dinner. We had six tables and assigned seating, so I made simple escort cards and laid them on square trays filled with more black river rocks.
Each table had a trivia card with questions like, "What did Rachel give Stefan in fifth grade, which meant that they would be secretly dating?" (Answer: a woven bracelet.) Some people read it to themselves, and other tables turned it into a group activity.
Our flowers were bought in bulk from Marigold & Mint and arranged the evening before the wedding with the help of a few friends & relatives. It was simultaneously fun and stressful. (Rufus, who destroys my house plants, was banned from the kitchen that day.)
Remember a long time ago when I blogged about our favors? They doubled as place cards, and were put in the middle of each place setting. A menu was also tucked into each napkin. On the back of the menu was an illustrated timeline of our relationship.
Ahh. The food. Below: spring greens salad, forest mushroom risotto, watermelon gazpacho, and filet mignon.
When dinner was over, there were toasts, and then Stefan and I snuck away for a few minutes...
...for a mini photo shoot, which I'll share in the final wedding post. (Also coming up tomorrow: dessert!)
Having a cocktail hour was fun, but soon it was time for the big moment. Our ceremony space was decorated with two vases filled with black river rocks & large manzanita branches, and behind that, three dozen floating candles on the window sill. A program was placed on each chair, embellished with ribbon.
We spread the word that it was time for the ceremony, and our friends & family started to take their seats.
My uncle was our officiant – he became ordained just for us! If you have the opportunity to have a friend or family member officiate your wedding, do it.
We walked down the aisle to the instrumental version of Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want by The Smiths. First Stefan escorted his mom, and then he was followed by his brother...
...followed by my best friend, and then me, with my parents.
And there we were. Getting married. Our ceremony was short, sweet, and simple. I pieced together our script from other ceremonies that I found online. I also worked in a little Shel Silverstein – "Marriage is playing hug o' war instead of tug o' war."
We had two readings during the ceremony: from A Natural History of Love ("...love has altered the flow of history, calmed monsters, kindled works of art, cheered the forlorn, turned tough guys to mush....") and The Little Prince ("...if you come at four o’clock in the afternoon, then at three o’clock I shall begin to be happy...")
At the end of the ceremony, we exchanged rings, I do's, and a kiss...
...and then we were married!
Again, all the photos were taken by the ladies of JL Photografia. Coming up tomorrow: the dinner reception!
After our portraits, we headed over to Canlis. From the start of planning our wedding, we knew we wanted two things: a small guest list (around 40 people) and great food. Having our wedding and reception at a restaurant was the perfect answer. And, bonus, Canlis has an amazing view of Lake Union.
Reasons why we had a cocktail hour before the ceremony: it allowed our friends and family to mingle, it was an excuse for hors d'oeuvres, it created a buffer for anyone running late, and it gave us enough time to take family portraits outside without making anyone wait around.
Mmm. Aren't these the cutest mini quiches? I could eat a hundred of them.
Here's a little peek at the bar sign that I designed, and stir sticks that I ordered from here.
And here's one of the family portraits taken outside, with my grandmother.
During cocktail hour, besides eating and mingling, our friends and family also signed our photo guestbook. We had a table set up with childhood photos of Stefan and myself, a Fujifilm INSTAX 210, extra film, an instruction card, and a beautifully handmade album by Linda of One Fine Dae. Guests signed the book with silver Sharpie pens and slipped their instant photos into the photo corners that I had pre-placed on the pages.
If you're wondering if that's a photo of me crying hysterically and my family laughing at me, well, it is.
All these photos, of course, were taken by the ladies of JL Photografia. Coming up tomorrow: the ceremony!
Hi, friends. This week I'm sharing photos from our wedding, starting with our portraits. We shot these during an hour at the Ballard Locks. Stefan and I chose the Locks because it has lots of variety: a botanical garden, huge trees, a few sculptures, the water, and old buildings. Our photographers were awesome at giving us direction and making it a fun experience. (All photos by JL Photografia.)
My dress is from J.Crew (the Gracie gown) and Stefan's suit is Hugo Boss. I loved my dress – it was light, comfy, and didn't even need to be altered.
Yay for black wedding shoes! (And I only semi-tripped once. That's almost a miracle, considering I never wear heels anymore ever since I started working from home.)
Above is a section of the actual locks, which are used to move boats from one water level to another. When a boat is coming through, you can get stuck on one side. And yes, that happened to us.
When you're all dressed up like this, it's inevitable to get stares from other people. But, I mean, don't you stare at brides & grooms walking around in public? I do.
I was surprisingly relaxed on the big day. I think it's because I worried about everything so much in the months leading up to it that when the actual day came, I had used up all my worrying. (Okay, joking. The secret to being relaxed on your wedding day is to focus on enjoying the day. Things can go wrong and it won't ruin your wedding. I promise.)
Alrighty. Enough portraits; let's get over to our wedding venue. Coming up tomorrow: the cocktail hour!
Four hours on the train to Portland feels like a week to Ralphie, whose palms are beginning to sweat at the thought of actually seeing her today, of actually having a face-to-face conversation. How many times has he rehearsed? Too many, probably. An hour ago, just outside of Centralia, Ralphie had walked through the swaying train cars – gripping the backs of seats to keep balanced, squeezing by passengers carrying trays of hot bagels and coffee – and climbed the narrow staircase to the observation car on the upper deck. He had sat in the middle of an empty row of seats that faced sideways toward the broad, reflective windows. The view was limited to marshland; miles and miles of it. In his head, he practiced the conversation again, and then again, and again, stopping only when the train itself came to a stop at the next station.
Now, back in his seat, he can feel the sweat on his hands. He decides that he will practice once more, and then try to take a nap, so that he will look rested when he sees her at the train station. Then he'll tell her why he needs her to come back home. And it will work. He knows it will. It has to. On this accelerating train, with only two stops to go, that much he is sure of.
Well, close enough. Fun pillows from yellow heart art.
I get a lot of questions about holiday delivery times for my jewelry, so here's all the details:
Right now, orders are shipping in 1-3 days. This may change the closer we get to Christmas, so please check the header in my shop for updates.
+ shipped via USPS First Class Mail (usually 3-5 days)
+ tracking number included
+ for Priority Mail (2-3 days), leave a note during checkout, and I'll send you an invoice for $3 more
+ December 14th will be the cut-off day for Christmas orders
+ shipped via USPS First Class Mail International (usually 1-3 weeks*)
+ no tracking available
*the post office doesn't guarantee this. Sometimes it takes several weeks longer.
...recently caught my eye. Love that they can either be used as place card holders or as home decor.
p.s. thanks very much for all the survey responses!
With the long weekend ahead, and lots on my to-do list, I'm signing off a little early. But first I want to say a big thank you to everyone who reads Elephantine. I truly appreciate each visit & comment!
Over the past four years, the content and format of this blog have gradually changed. So I have a question for you: what types of posts do you like and not like? I've set up a very short survey here, and would be grateful if you'd take a second to visit.
Have a wonderful rest of your week.
(Psst... the brownies are a smitten kitchen recipe.)
...is better with a loaf of freshly-baked homemade bread. My favorite recipe? Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread.
I had been reading my sister's diary for two weeks when, finally, something interesting happened: she developed a crush. Not just on anyone, but on Lee Lebovitz, who aced every math test and snorted when he laughed, but who also rode a motorcycle that was always in the senior parking lot despite him being a junior. In her diary, my sister smothered one of the white pages with lipstick-stained kisses. "Lee Lebovitz," she wrote, in small, tidy handwriting, "you are really missing out."
In the mornings, when she was in the shower, I continued to sneak into her bedroom and carefully remove the diary from the back of her desk drawer. Before, she had never written more than a page, but now she sometimes filled two or three pages with a detailed account of every interaction she had with Lee.
"Best day ever," she wrote. "Was partnered up with Lee in Biology!"
And the next day, "Accidentally bumped hands twice during class. A sign?!?"
But then, out of nowhere, Lee started walking around campus holdings hands with a girl who had a "stupid-looking haircut, and no personality," according to my sister, who just as quickly became moody and quiet. At dinner, she pushed the food around on her plate until our mother demanded that she either eat or leave the table. She started to go to bed early every night, and sulked around the house on the weekends instead of going out like she'd always done. When I snuck into her room to peek at her diary, she hadn't written anything new for an entire week.
I thought it would pass. Isn't that what crushes were supposed to do? She'd get over him, find someone new to fantasize about, return to writing her long, zealous entries. But a whole month went by, and the pages remained blank.
I was bored. I was restless. I came up with the only plan I could think of: I took a piece of our mother's pink stationery, wrote what I needed to, folded it into quarters, and slipped it into Lee Lebovitz's locker after third period, making sure no one saw me do it.
When the diary entry finally appeared, my sister wrote it in a fresh loopy handwriting, as if it was an entirely new version of herself. Lee Lebovitz, she announced, was now single again. Not only that, but he had smiled at her in the hallway, the type of smile that made her feel a little bit light-headed and very much hopeful.
"It must be fate," she wrote, "because there's just no other explanation."
One of my new favorite things to do is to bake something and then give it away, like this lemon cake.
...I'll have a house full of pretty lamps, like these from Lightyears.
There are three reasons why I love this pineapple upside-down cake. One, it's easy to make. Two, it's also fun to make, because who doesn't like making pineapple patterns or flipping a cake on its head? And three, it's delicious – dense and moist, with a little bit of crunch from the caramelized sugar.
I make this cake in a round 6-inch pan (3 inches deep), which produces six "just enough" portions or four "I really love this cake" portions. For a 9-inch pan, you should be able to simply double the recipe and use seven pineapple rings instead (not halved).
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (serves 4-6)
adapted from Martha Stewart
3 pineapple rings
6 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1. Preheat oven to 325° F.
2. Melt 3 tablespoons butter and pour into a 6-inch cake pan. Tilt to evenly coat.
3. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter.
4. Slice pineapple rings in half, then arrange in a circle in the cake pan. Set pan aside.
5. In a mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix. Set aside.
6. In another bowl, add eggs and vanilla extract. Whisk. Set aside.
7. In an electric mixer (or large bowl), beat remaining 3 tablespoons butter with sugar until light and fluffy.
8. Continue to mix while alternatively adding flour mixture and egg mixture. Beat until batter is just combined.
9. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. Use a spatula to even out the top. Bake for 1 hour, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 10-15 minutes.
10. Loosen the cake by running a knife along the edges. Place a cake stand (or plate) over the pan, then flip upside down. Gently shake if cake doesn't immediately come out of pan. Enjoy!
For all those years, I don't even know you exist. Then, just like that, we are standing in the snack aisle at Kroger, both eyeing the last box of chocolate chip granola bars. You make a suggestion: you'll buy it, then give me half of the granola bars, in exchange for nothing more than my phone number.
I laugh. "You can't be serious," I say.
"Come on," you say. "You could even give me a fake number."
"And a fake name," I point out.
"I'm Jenny, by the way," I say.
"Or maybe you aren't," you say.
Friday night, we see a horror movie together in the multiplex downtown. Whenever foreboding music kicks in, I stare at the neon green exit signs instead of the movie screen. It occurs to me later that this is a bad avoidance technique. At dinner, I keep seeing green spots on my menu. I decide to ask the waiter what he recommends. "The lasagna," he says. I ask what else he recommends. He explains to me that it's all good, because if it wasn't, they wouldn't put it on the menu.
"Don't leave him a tip," I tell you, after the waiter leaves.
"Who says I'm paying?" you ask, smiling.
After the twelve or thirteenth date, I stop counting. I keep trying to pay for things, but you always tell me I can get it next time. I eventually have to admit to you that I am, in fact, terrified of horror movies. You confess that you were never really that crazy about granola bars. Sometime after Christmas, you give me a key to your apartment.
"This might be a bad idea," I say. "I'm always losing things."
"Right. I forgot about that," you say.
"That's our problem," I say. "Neither of us can hold onto anything."
Do you remember the birds? All those sparrows in the tree outside your building? It seemed like there were a hundred, at least. They were on every branch, rustling, chirping, coming and going. People could hear them all the way down the block.
We were watching them from your window. You had just asked if I wanted to get out of the city that weekend, and I was saying, "Yes, but where?" and then, all at once, they abandoned the tree. They became a small dark cloud rising from the branches, rising higher than the rooftops until they broke apart and scattered in all directions. For a split second, the sky was polka-dotted, and then it returned to a single shade of blue.
...from Blink. I especially like the salmon-colored rope.
Have you ever gone to one of those paint-your-own-pottery places? I hadn't been for a long time, but I went recently to celebrate Linda's birthday, and now I have my own tiny pink-and-red birdhouse. All I need now are a couple perches!
I'm already wide awake by the time they start to stir. "Monday," one of them grumbles. The other one yawns. Why are they so slow? Finally the man gets up. I follow him into the kitchen. He gives me breakfast. More, I think. Pour more! But the man leaves the room. I scarf breakfast down, almost choke, slurp water from the other bowl, go searching for the man again. He's back in the bedroom, talking to the lady. Quiet words I can't understand.
Hey, I think. Hey, mister.
He pats my head. We go to the back door and he lets me into the backyard. Oh, the smells! The sweet air.
I do what I need to do. The man takes out a little bag – that makes me want to laugh every time, him with his nose scrunched up. We go back in the house. The lady is standing in the middle of the kitchen, making a sandwich. I sit next to her and think, Give me the sandwich. I use every bit of my thinking power to think this, but she doesn't give it to me. I follow her into the bedroom, then back into the kitchen, then to the front door. She hands the sandwich to the man, and the man gives her a kiss, and then he's gone, just like that.
Everything in the middle of the day is boring. I climb back onto the bed. The lady sits at her big desk and stares at her computer and talks to herself every now and then. Eventually I fall asleep, and have one of these awesome dreams where I'm running, I'm running, I'm running, and I'm in a backyard that's three hundred miles long and smells like sweet, fresh air, and at the end of it is a sandwich, my sandwich! You wouldn't believe how fast I can eat a sandwich. You really wouldn't believe it.
The man gets home when it's dark outside. When he walks through the front door, I run around the house like mad, almost as fast as I ran in my dream, but not quite. He's home, I think. I didn't know if he was coming back!
He gives me dinner. I'm happy. Really, really happy. I wouldn't mind if he gave me a little more, but still. I'm happy. In the living room, the man and the lady are staring at the TV and eating colorful dinners. I try to lick the edges of their plates and they say "No!" and "You already had dinner," but what they don't realize is that I could eat a hundred dinners if they let me.
"Sit," says the man. When I do, he gives me something small off his plate. I don't know what it is but it's the most delicious thing ever.
"Not too much," says the lady. "He'll get sick."
I won't, I promise I won't, I think. Give me lots more. I won't get sick. I'll just be the happiest dog in the world, and in the whole entire universe.
...always a good combo, like these hanging containers.