Sunday, July 18, 2010

Testing, Testing...

We've had a busy few days. While thinking about wedding favors (not wanting to spend too much, nor wanting to buy something for each place setting that would be of little use and tossed before long anyway) I had kicked around the idea of mini banana breads at each place setting. They would be wrapped in tulle (over the cellophane) tied with a ribbon, which would also hold the place card.

I found bananas half price early last week because they were quickly ripening. I had planned to just make some banana bread for here at the house, but once I saw the HUGE bowl full of batter those bananas made, I decided to see just how far it would go. If she decided that she didn't want to use them, they freeze well and would make a nice little snack or quick breakfast for some time to come.

My big bowl o' batter made 32 mini loaves of banana bread, almost exactly half of what I'd need if everyone comes who we've invited. I wrapped them well and put them in the freezer to be brought out the day before for wrapping. In the next week or so I'll buy the rest of the needed bananas and make the rest of these little loaves.

The last couple of days have been test days. Rebekah decided to do the trial run of how she wants to wear her hair on her wedding day. It came out beautifully, though she did decide she'd like it to sit a bit higher on her head. She's glad she took the time to try it out!

She beaded her veil, my part of the job being attaching it to the barrette. We were thrilled with how it came out.

Here is a closer view of her hair and the veil. The beads are in a zig zag design all the way around, the gathering made a beautiful little sparkly bunch right under her curls.

Since we are making all of the cake, and are using recipes unfamiliar to us, we decided we needed to do a trial run of those as well. Friday I made this chocolate cake with chocolate ganache. The sides will be a little less rough when we make them for the wedding, I started out not having the baking spray so improvised. The roughness sure didn't mar the taste, these are a little square of chocolate heaven.

Once I did those on Friday, I started really wanting to work on the others. I had most of the ingredients but was short a few things to make all of the different cakes. While running other wedding related errands, we picked up the additional groceries and I started baking.

These are chocolate cupcakes with white icing. I tried a new icing recipe that was supposed to be a stable whipped cream icing, but it didn't work. It never did get stiff enough, then turned to butter. Thank goodness we decided to try it out early! As I was making it, I realized that it was quite close to the icing recipe I use for pumpkin bars, so I made that one instead.

It went without a hitch and I piped it onto the cupcakes.
Next up was strawberry shortcake. The cake is angel food cake and we made homemade strawberry sauce. I used the same icing, took some out of the bowl and added a bit of lemon extract. These only have a bit of icing, we wanted something that would appeal to those who don't like their cake bathed in icing.

Finally, the tiramisu. This is a sponge cake recipe. I cut them in half and "painted" both cut edges with coffee. I added some coffee flavor (instant coffee with just enough water for it to dissolve into a thick liquid) to the remaining icing and piped it between the cake layers and added a little dollop on top. Then I sprinkled a mixture of cocoa, sugar, and cinnamon on top.

Our table was full of these little cakes, and my family has quite enjoyed testing them all out. I know that I've been walking 5 days a week and really trying to watch what I eat in hopes of my dress looking as good as possible....hopefully all this taste testing won't thwart my efforts! I sent a plate with a couple of each with Rebekah when she went to see Brian, so they could taste test them together.

I also put a plate full of the tiramisu in the freezer, hoping they would freeze and thaw well so I could take them to a friend's house on Wednesday. That gave me the idea to try freezing one of each so we can test them all. Anything that freezes (and thaws) well can be made earlier in the wedding week, those that did better waiting will have to be baked on Thursday and Friday.

In the midst of it all, Ruthie is coming out of her shell more and more. We're hoping this bodes well for the wedding and she will really enjoy herself. There will be a few other small kids, which will also help, I'm sure. We hope that she loses sight of the fact that people will probably be watching her and just has fun. I tried to get this picture without her knowing, but she knows when the camera is around. I had to tell her to look at the TV to get it.

The work of the day is done now. I'm going to spend the rest of my day working on the wedding quilt. I hope to get it done by the bridal shower in two weeks so I can give it to her there.

Tomorrow we head to Joann Fabrics to look for fabric for tablecloths. We're going to use quilting cotton so I can save them for later use. What Rebekah doesn't know is that I plan to make her a quilt from them for her next birthday (there should be plenty of fabric so I may be able to make one for me, too!)

For now I'd better go, that quilt won't quilt itself!
Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mostly Wedding Chatter

We are in a very strange mode right now. The weeks themselves seem to go quite slowly, but each Sunday as we tick off another week before the wedding, I wonder where the time has gone.

All the "big" things have been cared for. The reception venue is chosen, reserved and paid for, the beach has been reserved for the ceremony itself. The invitations came this week and were in the mail the next day, and the shower invitations haven been sent as well.

The menu is planned (with much of the food being made by us, only the main dishes are being catered), decorations are planned and we've begun to purchase what we need, and except for some final tweaking as the RSVPs come back, the seating arrangements have been figured out.

A BIG stress was the dresses. Rebekah has had hers for several months, and went in for a fitting on the morning of the day she got engaged (that being the actual engagement day was unbeknownst to her) and we're just waiting on the call saying it's ready.

We are making her veil, she has finished the beading and all that is left is for me to attach it to a barrette that will be clipped underneath her updo.

That left, me, Ruthie, and the bridesmaids needing dresses. With the time available, we knew we'd have to find something off the rack or that had really quick delivery. My three girls and I headed out dress shopping a couple of Saturdays ago, with a date set for the following Saturday for the bridesmaids to shop. While shopping for dresses for Ruthie and me, we stumbled across the bridesmaids dresses. Rachel tried it on and liked it and knew one of the other girls was her size so we asked that they hold those dresses and they called around to find out that they had the other girl's size in another store but would not hold it for them.

The next day, the bride and her bridesmaids took off right after church to pick up all of the dresses. They got to the store with the single dress and it not only fit, but they had two dresses in the other girls' sizes as well. They all donned their dresses and looked them over...only to find that each dress had minor flaws....snags in the fabric, seams coming apart, etc. With two the correct size already on hold at the other store, the sales girl checks her computer and finds another of the size they the store with the other two dresses!

So they head to that store, deciding on the way those are meant to be the dresses since two stores each had 3 dresses in the exact sizes they needed. They arrived at the other store to find the clerks there knew nothing of dresses on hold, they had been placed back in the racks, but were easily found, tried on and looked over. Since the dresses were on clearance, and they had a special coupon offer that day, the $159 dresses cost $52.50!
I was very concerned about finding a dress that I liked, that looked good on me, and fell within my price range. I was not wanting a frumpy dress, and really afraid I'd be settling for something because I needed something quickly.

The first store we entered had a formal wear section and we began scouring the sale racks. We came up with 3 dresses that seemed to fit the bill, were in my price range, and had my size. Of the three, one I didn't like at all, but the other two would each fit the bill. We hid them behind some other dresses and headed out into the mall. The shopping trip became much more fun when I knew I had a dress I liked waiting and I was just out there to see if I could top it. Nothing came close, and I can hardly wait to wear this dress.
We also had in mind to keep an eye out for a flower girl dress for Ruthie. While we're not really expecting that she will actually walk the aisle, she was still in need of a pretty dress. We found a children's formal wear shop and Miss Ruthie was thrilled with her turn in the dressing room trying on pretty dresses. Rather than buy her fancy white shoes which she doesn't really have much other need for, we decided on white flip flops (it IS a beach wedding after all) that I will decorate with ribbon and or tulle. We'll paint her toenails red to match the girls' dresses. She has been quite excited to show off her new dress.
Things are really falling into place and we're a bit awed by the fact that we ended up with the first dress tried on for all of us. My sewing room is an array of dress bags and spaces are filling up with all of the things we're collecting for use in just a few weeks.

That last week will be quite busy, making tulle bows (60 at last count!), baking and decorating about 80 individual sized little cakes, making the cutting cake, readying appetizers, and getting everything organized in hopes of the big day running smoothly. I have a notebook with quite a few pages of notes and reminders, and at the end is a page for each day of that last week where we can start listing what happens on which day.

Through it all, Ruthie seems to be coming out of her shy shell more and more. She still has her moments, but more and more people are getting to see the real her. She still loves the camera and we're hoping that works in our favor on the wedding day!
I'm well on my way quilting the wedding quilt, but am about to run out of the navy blue thread I'm using. I ordered some today from a place that usual gets orders to me in a couple of days. I'm hoping to have the quilt done for the shower two weeks from Sunday, so time is of the essence!

I'm hiding in my air conditioned house to escape the heat and humidity, working on the quilt and baking mini banana breads that may serve as the place card holders (wrapped in tulle, with a name card attached with a red ribbon.) From the looks of it, this big batch of batter should make about half of the needed goodies. Also on the agenda in the next few days is trying out a couple of the other cake recipes for the dessert cakes. More on those to come!

Happy Quilting, and keep cool!