A few weeks ago, I shared how I made a salad box. But I never showed what I did with it. Well, here it is after about 3 weeks planted with various greens and one broccoli plant. It lives in my driveway for now as that seems to be our sunniest spot.
Broccoli is the big guy. That's arugula on the right.
Joining the salad box in the driveway are the super sugar snap peas. I started these guys indoors and didn't plant them out until they were about 6 inches tall. Everyone says you aren't supposed to transplant peas but I'm so glad I did because they are certainly happy! I believe we will be enjoying peas much earlier this year than last. To compare, I direct sowed lincoln peas in the planter behind this one (visible on the right side of the picture) and they are only a few inches tall. Both pea planters are sharing their pots with more salad greens.
These are the greens I harvested for a dinner salad tonight.
And these are the rest of the ingredients for our salad.
This is my current favorite salad. It hits all of the food groups, is delicious, filling, and so healthy! Clockwise from top left corner (ending in the center)
This made enough for 2 large dinner salads and a full size lunch portion for me to eat tomorrow.
I dressed it with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette of garlic, brown sugar, dijon mustard, balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Thomas accompanied us to Mexico for our wedding so we decided he needed Margarita making supplies for his birthday. We started off with a bottle of 100% Agave Blanco Tequila. We still had some of our favorite Mexican triple sec left (Controy) but we'd already opened the bottle and thought it was tacky to gift that, so I dug around in my supply of liquor bottles that I'd saved and found a nice 375mL bottle. I cleaned the label off of it, stamped a new one, and used a funnel to fill it up with the perfect amount of Triple Sec to go with the Tequila.
Added a handful of limes and a matching card and had a fun and easy birthday gift that anyone who loves a good Margarita would love!
Our perfect Margarita recipe follows.
Shake all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a glass, half rimmed with salt. If ice is desired in the cocktail, add fresh, not the tired stuff in the shaker.
All stamping supplies by Papertrey Ink.
One of our favorite Chicago-area brewpubs has been open less than 2 years but is already leaps and bounds above most of the others. Revolution Brewing. Not only are their beers delicious but they have a unique menu full of fantastic pub fare. One menu item sticks out above the rest. Ask anyone who has been there. Their Bacon Fat Popcorn is the thing dreams are made of. Bacon, crispy sage, & parmesan, don't you want some right now?
We had a few slices of bacon left over from breakfast recently so I decided to try to make my own. And it turned out awesome. Revolution's is better but I'm sure they are much more generous with the bacon fat than I was willing to be in my own kitchen. So here is an ever-so-slightly healthier version of Revolution Brewing Company's Bacon Fat Popcorn.
As I said, we had a few slices of bacon left over from breakfast. I chopped it up and set it aside. I also strained the bacon fat left in the pan through cheese cloth and saved it in a jar in the fridge.
You're going to need: popcorn, bacon, bacon fat, fresh sage, salt, parmesan cheese.
Stack up about 15 sage leaves and run your knife through them to create small strips (a chiffonade).
Take your leftover crumbled bacon and throw it in the toaster oven at 350 on a foil lined sheet until it's nice and crispy again.
Add a tablespoon of bacon fat to the bottom of a heated heavy bottom pan. drop the sage leaves in and fry them for a minute or so until they are crispy. Set aside. Please disregard my heavily stained dutch oven. It's in need of a little softscrub therapy session.
Yum, crispy sage!
Now, add a few more tablespoons of bacon fat to the pan along with 3 kernels of corn, put the lid on, and heat on medium heat until you hear at least one of the kernels pop. Remove the pan from the heat, add 1/3 cup of kernels, return the lid, shake well to coat the kernels in the bacon fat, then return to heat. Heat until pops are more than 1 second apart.
Transfer popcorn to a bowl, add the crispy sage, bacon, and parmesan. Go ahead and be naughty - melt another tablespoon of bacon fat (or butter), and toss that on as well. Salt to taste.
Enjoy with a fresh, hoppy IPA!
Mmm... bacon fat popcorn!
4-5 Tbsp. Bacon Fat (divided)
3-4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
15 sage leaves
1/3 Cup popcorn kernels
2 oz Parmesan Cheese
Salt (to taste)
Please spare a second to head over here and vote for Adam in the Star of the Bar competition. Grand prize wins $5000 but 6 finalists get a trip to chicago (woohoo! ha!) and to demo and serve it at the National Restaurant Association conference. You don't have to register or anything, just click the link, then click the Vote button.
Click here to vote. Adam's entry is the second one:
Thanks! He'll be happy to repay you by making you one next time you visit us ;) Tell all your friends.
I mentioned the other day that I would be building this salad box (basically a box I can move around to an appropriate location for salad greens depending on the season). I actually followed this tutorial. Since lettuces only need about 3-4" of soil depth to be happy this box will be perfect for them while freeing up the garden bed for deeper rooted crops.
1x4 board (mine was 8 feet so I cut 2-21" pieces and 2-28" pieces)
Hardware Mesh (1/2" mesh)
Galvanized Screws (mine were 1 5/8")
2 Drawer/Cabinet Pull Handles
Wire Snips, Drill, Staple Gun, Drill Bits, Staples, Scissors
I started by laying out my boards and figuring out where I would attach them.
Then I screwed my handles to the short boards.
And pre-drilled my holes on the long boards
I used the basement coffee table to help me hold the boards while I screwed them in.
Once everything was screwed in, I stapled the aluminum screening to the back, overlapping by 3 inches on the long sides. (And then I ran out of staples 4 staples in so I took a 24 hour break)
Then I repeated that process with the hardware cloth. The aluminum screening keeps the dirt in, the hardware cloth helps support its weight.
All done! This weekend I'm going to fill it up with some compost amended organic potting soil and get my greens situated in their new home.
A salad box is a great place to grow lettuces, herbs, and other shallow rooted things.
Now, let's check on those seedlings, some of which will hopefully be moving outside this weekend.
These tomato seedlings are really taking off
These are the greens that will live in the salad box. Lots of varieties in here including mizuna, arugula, oak leaf, spinach, etc.
Basils (and a little dill on the far right
More tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants
This truffled mushroom pizza I made the other night just oozes umami and is a total feast for the taste buds!
Then I brushed on some olive oil and fresh garlic
And dropped on a bunch of fresh mozzarella (the kind in packed in liquid)
And then, the mushrooms. This is a few cups of cremini and shitake mushrooms, first sauteed in butter with garlic and then cooked down with red wine and finally tossed with a few tablespoons of truffle oil. The smell of these mushrooms is mind bending! (I actually made them for a vegetarian lasagna I served last weekend but set aside a little extra with this pizza in mind.
Flake some goat cheese all over the top too.
This entire time you want your oven cranked up as high as it will possibly go (mine goes to 550) and you want a pizza stone in there the pre-heating with the oven. I like to pre-heat mine for about 45 minutes so that everything is piping hot. Then use the pizza peel to deliver the pie to the stone. I use the Lodge Pro Logic Cast-Iron 14-Inch Pizza Pan and the EXO Super Peel Pizza Peel
Now don't go anywhere because it doesn't take long to cook. Here it is after about 5 minutes. The crust has already risen, the cheese is melting, and it's starting to brown.
After 8 total minutes in the oven, it's done! Time to grate some fresh parmesan over the top.
Then for some color, texture, and deliciousness, I grabbed some of my micro greens
And cut them close to the soil line right over the pizza.
I think I need to cook down a batch of these mushrooms about once a week so this pizza is always an option!
I built myself a little grow system in the basement and most all of my babies have sprouted (thus the greenhouse lids are all off)! I pretty much followed the instructions on You Grow Girl.
I've got lettuces and other leafy greens.
10 different varieties of tomatoes, 3 peppers, and 3 eggplant.
Herbs, marigolds, and Pak Choi
And various other things.
Even the kitties have their own 'seedlings' to take care of (their favorite nom-noms, cat grass)
And I've already gotten one harvest of delicious micro greens.
They were sown in an empty strawberry carton.
Next weekend, my plan is build a garden box and get some lettuces outside.
1.5oz Pimm's #1
.5 oz Cynar
5 drops Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters
Large slice of grapefruit peel
Stir bourbon, Pimm's, Cynar and three drops of bitters in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into rocks glass. Add large ice chunk. Squeeze grapefruit peel over a lit match to express the oils in the drink. Garnish with flamed grapefruit peel and two more drops of bitters.
The events in this blog post occurred just before Christmas, I'm really behind :)
Prairie Fire was hosting a contest a few months ago to find Chicago's Best Amateur Bartender. I encouraged Adam to enter and after a little prodding he agreed. To enter, you had to craft a cocktail using at least one local ingredient and post it on Prairie Fire's facebook page along with instructions on how to make it.
2 finalists would be chosen to come into Prairie Fire and guest bartend for the night. Whoever made the most tips would be winner (with all tips going to charity - Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign).
Since the title of the post kind of already gave it away, it's not too much of a spoiler to tell you that Adam was the big winner! Here's out it went down.
Check out the menu for the night with Adam's name at the top and his cocktail listed! So cool!
Roger was the other finalist. The competition started with the two of them making one of their cocktails for the other one so that they could both see what the competition was.
Adam working his mixing magic.
Adam is crowned the winner, looks like he spilled a bit...
Some of our friends that came out for the night to cheer him on.
All in all, they raised over $300 for charity that night. For winning, Adam was invited back to bartend again with tips going to the charity of his choice as well as to head down to the Green City Market to demonstrate with the head chef of Prairie Fire (which he didn't get to do because it was during work hours)
Here's how to make Adam's award winning White Winter Whiskey Sour.
The Polaroid frame is by Flergs.
White Winter Whiskey Sour
2 oz Death's Door White Whiskey
.75 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
.75 oz Rosemary Simple Syrup (DD Whiskey is a little sweeter than your standard bourbon or rye so I don't use a full ounce of syrup)
1/2 Egg White (enough to make a good froth without weighing down the drink)
Fresh Rosemary Sprig
Rosemary Simple Syrup
3/4 cup White Sugar
3/4 cup Water
4-5 Rosemary Sprigs
Simmer sugar and water until sugar is dissolved. Pour over rosemary and let steep for at least one hour or until cool. Strain out rosemary
Add spirit, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white into cocktail shaker. Mime shake (no ice) hard for at least 30 seconds. You are looking for the egg white to emulsify and create a really frothy liquid. Open shaker, add ice then shake again until very cold. Strain into chilled cocktail coupe. Take rosemary sprig, slap it hard between your palms to release aroma then place it on the froth.
Since everyone else is posting theirs, here's what it looks like in the Northwest Chicago Suburbs.
We can't open our south facing door thanks to this 7 foot snow drift.
Likewise, we can't even see out of our north facing window.
Such a crazy sight. Completely bare driveway in the middle with five foot snow drifts on the north side. This is pre-shovel!
My neighbors house and my driveway.
Out the front window, I can reach out and make a snowball without even leaning over.
The backyard, 4 foot drifts next to the garage. In the far right back corner you can see my picnic table, nearly completely buried.
I don't envy Adam who is going to have to go out and shovel all of this!
UPDATE: After Adam shoveled the driveway.
The official count was 22". Tell it to our driveway.
Little known fact. Our wedding in Mexico wasn't legally binding. Well we knew that but most other folks didn't. So a few weeks ago, we flew down to Florida to make it legal. Adam's parents came too. We flew in on a Thursday and while Adam slept, my dad and I took his parents on a tour of Hutchinson Island (where my parents live).
But first, we made a stop at the Fruit Stand to buy dozens of Honeybells and Grapefruits.
Then we went to bathtub beach (it was cold!)
Followed by the House of Refuge
Since it was so cold on Thursday, we'd had enough of outdoor activities so we headed back home to make some cocktails with those delicious honeybells.
Here's Adams mom, Trish, enjoying one in my Aunt Sherry & Uncle Steve's condo where they were staying.
The sunset that night
For dinner, we went to the one and only chain restaurant that Adam and I enjoy. Bonefish. We LOVE Bonefish. Our appetizers below: Mussels, Sesame Seared Tuna, and Bang Bang Shrimp. It was also happy hour when we got there meaning a round of drinks for 6 people only cost $15! Florida happy hour sure is awesome.
The next morning, Adam and I got up early to go to the court house to get a marriage license.
For lunch, my dad cooked up bucket after bucket of stone crab that they caught in their crab traps along with some leftover bonefish.
Now that's a legal-wedding day lunch to write home about!
At this point, it was time to get dressed for the real wedding and head back to the Stuart courthouse.
My grandparents (who weren't able to come to Mexico) were able to come to this wedding!
They did the quick 5 minute legal ceremony in this gazebo outside of the County Clerks office.
It was casual Friday at the office :)
After the 3pm ceremony, we headed to Conchy Joes for Happy Hour!
Our favorite part of Happy Hour is the .50 oysters and clams (steamed or raw, we eat 'em raw!)
Then we went back to my parents condo to kill some time. My parents neighbors (Ed and Edie) brought up a bottle of champagne so we squeezed a bunch of honeybell and grapefruit juice and made mimosas. (Ed is a florist and he made the bouquet I was holding out of some flowers that Adam's parents picked up on a grocery store run)
For dinner, we went to Courtine's (a french restaurant in Stuart). It was delicious. Almost everyone got one of these three things.
Rack of lamb
Or Rib Eye (this one was stuffed with blue cheese!)
The next morning, Adam's parents had to leave. They weren't too upset to go though as they were catching a flight to Tahiti!
We bummed around for a bit and then headed to a chili cookoff for charity. They just happened to be serving Churros so Adam and I decided to recreate this picture from our real wedding:
The next day we woke up bright and early to go out Deep Sea Fishing. About an hour in, we caught this Dolphin
But then we didn't catch anything else so we went back home and went swimming.
Monday was our last day in town but my mom had to work so my dad took us to this beer and wine bar they thought we'd enjoy called Vine and Barley.
They had a great tap list and Adam enjoyed a few samplers.
We got a meat/cheese plate to share for lunch.
For the wine, you got to serve yourself! You purchased a pre-paid card and then got to fill it with a taste (1oz), a half glass (2.5oz) or a full glass (5oz). The amount of the sample was deducted from your card and you could try as many as you wanted. It was a really cool concept!
Well that was it for our second wedding vacation. We flew home Tuesday morning on a 6:30am flight and had to go straight to work from the airport.
The other day, Matt posted his favorite photos from our Playa del Carmen wedding on Del Sol's blog along with a slideshow of some other faves.
So, now it's my turn! Here are my favorite photos from Del Sol!
(This is the only picture we have of Adam with this jacket on!)
Friends checking out our photo wall before the wedding.
This one makes me misty eyed. My dad and uncle.
Deciding which shoes to wear
Time to head down to the ceremony!
I loved my wedding planner, Erica!
Jimmy passed out beers at the beach.
All of our guests!
With our immediate families
Our matching shoes
The mariachi walked the guests back to the villa. Do you see Cozumel off in the distance?
We took the tricycle back, the neighbors cheered us on, even shouting "Go Blue" when they spotted our shoes.
My uncle took advantage of our feet cleaning station.
Gringo the cat, checking out the candles.
Making fresh churros
Adam and Armando love the Don Julio 1942
We didn't have a wedding cake, we had churros. Our friend, Erin, insisted we play Lady and the Tramp with one.
You gotta love this action shot of Nick
My dads feet - completely off the ground!
Now that's how you get down.
I wish I could remember what we were singing
This looks like an episode of Glee to me
Adam and I toast with Matt from Del Sol. Isn't he a cutie?
Thanks to Matt and everyone at Del Sol for capturing such perfect memories of the best day of our lives! I obviously had a lot of favorites :)
Last Christmas we were over at my Aunt Ginny and Uncle Jack's and they brought out these delicious Sugared Pecans. We loved them and Aunt Ginny sent me the recipe. We've been making them ever since. They are such a crowd pleaser. This year, I decided to bag up a few for Christmas Gifts.
The cast of characters includes:
Preheat the oven to 250 and melt a stick of butter on a sheet pan.
Beat egg white and water until medium peaks form
Add pecans to egg whites and stir until coated
Stir in sugar, salt, and cinnamon until evenly coated
Spread on buttered pan, bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
After removing from the oven, stir a few more times so they don't stick together while cooling.
Package 'em up!
(all stamping supplies from Papertrey Ink)
We miss you Aunt Ginny
I made this necklace and I really like it. But Adam says it looks like a little kid made it. Opinions please?
I stumbled upon this tutorial on Little Miss Momma's blog. But there were quite a few things I didn't have (felt, chain, clasp, or enough of any one fabric...) and I really wanted to make it without running out to the store. So I improvised. I included my tutorial below but it is pretty much the same as her tutorial except for when you don't have all of those things on hand :P
Here's what I started with.
I'd purchased these hand died fabric scraps years ago. They were kind of pricey too (for what they were). But I never used them because it was just a bunch of little bits (largest piece was 8x8) and they were pricey so I was always scared to use them. This seemed like the perfect project for them.
I punched out 5 - 1.5" circles from the cardboard. Then I used the cardboard as a template to cut a bunch of circles from all of the fabric scraps.
For the last few, I got smart enough to quadruple up the fabric which made cutting go much faster. If I do it again, I may try to use some die cuts with a stack of 4-8 sheets of fabric.
You don't have to be neat about this one bit. See this circle even looks like it has a bite taken out of it
Time to fire up the glue gun. Fold the circles in half, and then in half again.
Apply glue to the point closest to the camera in the above post.
And find a spot to stick it down on your cardboard circle. I usually started at the center, went around to the edges, and then just filled in wherever I thought it needed more poof.
When I'm done my flower looks like this from the front
And from the back
And here are all of my flowers.
The cheesecloth fabric didn't work well with the circles so I just kind of scrunched it up and glued it down.
Then I got out a piece of canvas and glued all of my flowers down in the shape I wanted the necklace.
Then I trimmed away the excess fabric
And glued down some dyed fibers that were in the fabric scrap bag. I didn't take a picture but I put another piece of canvas on top of the fibers to sandwich them.
I also forgot to take a picture of the clasp I made... I basically tied a large button on one end of the fibers and on the other side I tied 2 knots about an inch apart that the button could slide through.
So... am I crazy for liking it?
I was watching Kelsey's Essentials on Cooking Channel this morning and she was crafting Holiday food gifts. One of the items she made was a salted caramel sauce and I decided to give it a try this morning before Adam woke up.
You can find her recipe for the caramel right here. It says the caramel only stays good for 2 weeks in the fridge so I decided to package it in these small 4oz jars (or maybe they're 3 oz) so people wouldn't have to figure out what to do with all that caramel. But I had to pretty them up first!
I started by die-cutting canvas with the largest scalloped Nestabilities die and stamping a snowflake on each with Palette Hybrid ink.
Then added a little Homemade stamp on top of it.
I added the date the Caramel would be good until in the date box as opposed to the date I made it. With the lid already on the jar, I placed the canvas over the top and centered it.
Then I screwed the band on
I used the Papertrey Ink coordinating dies to die cut a bunch of snowflakes in 2 different sizes.
I decided to die-cut the whole sheet since I thought it might make a cool background for another project (look for that at the end of this post).
Then I stamped the coordinating snowflakes on the dies and punched a hole in each one.
Tied some jute around the jar bands.
And then tied the snowflakes with a button onto the ends of the jute.
I also needed a nice card to use to hold a monetary gift and I wanted to see what I could do with the leftover die-cut paper. I started with an entire sheet of 8.5 x 11 cardstock and scored it at the 4" and 8" marks.
Then I cut about an inch off the 3" flap and rounded the corner. This will hold the money.
I added a contrasting piece of paper on the middle section of the inside and then adhered the left hand side only.
And then I used the leftover piece of die-cut paper that I mentioned above as the base of the card.
The rest of the days were spent recovering, relaxing, and not doing too much so I'll just throw 'em all together in one post.
Day 8 - Monday
The day after the wedding and we slept in later than we did the entire time we were down there - 8:20am!!!
Some left over wedding food was heated up for breakfast, friends stopped by to say their goodbyes and we spent the rest of the day either in the pool or the ocean. You knew it was a rough night for some when the first beer wasn't cracked until 11am. Every other day the latest one was opened was 9am
We stopped by and visited our friends down at Xaman Ha.
In the evening, people stopped by for a few cocktails. Adam's aunt, dad, and brother worked on taking the picture wall apart.
Dustin came to taunt me with his memory card so that I could get copies of all of his pictures
And then we just cooked up more wedding leftovers for dinner.
Day 9 - Tuesday
A lot more people were leaving today and we had to check out of Casa Chaac. We moved a few houses down to Casa Vista del Mar where Adam's family was staying. My parents moved down to Xaman Ha.
We swam in the small pool at Vista del Mar for a while, and then we all went down to Xaman Ha's much better pool
Xaman Ha pool:
We all decided to get together for dinner and went back to La Cueva del Chango to try their fresh juice margaritas.
On recommendation, we started with the tangerine and grapefruit - both delicious but we think we preferred the grapefruit a little more.
Sorry for the overall crappy quality of these pictures, I didn't turn the flash on because I didn't want to ruin the mood of the beautiful jungle like setting.
We started with an appetizer of this sesame seared tuna on a tostada
I got the tuna with a hibiscus reduction
And here's the sesame seared. It was really good but everyone agreed it needed some kind of sauce
We went back to the villa and looked at wedding pictures that I'd pulled off of various people's cameras and then went to bed.
Day 10 - Wednesday
Adam and I got up to go visit our friend the juice cart guy. On the way there, we walked through the ruins to check out the lizards and I realized I didn't have any pictures of them yet.
We handed him our pitcher and asked him to fill it full of grapefruit juice.
120 pesos for the fill.
He's located on 10th, just south of Benito Juarez
He had the pitcher about 2/3 full when he ran out of grapefruits so we babysat his cart while he ran to get more. He gave me a glass of orange juice as a thank you.
Then we went to the bakery and waited for them to make a fresh batch of soft pretzels which we took home to everyone.
On the way back to Vista del Mar we kissed my parents goodbye as they were flying back to Florida.
Like the last few days, we spent the rest of the afternoon swimming, trying to finish all of the leftover booze we couldn't pack up, and reading gossip magazines.
After we showered, Adam and I went up to the upper most roof deck of vista del mar with a few glasses of Gran Centanario Anejo (GCA as it came to be known this weekend) and watched the stars come out.
Then we all got cleaned up for our last dinner together - at Carboncitos
After making and enjoying the Agua de Jamaica and creating many cocktails with it for the last few days, I was excited to see they had a Jamaica cocktail on the menu. I think it was called the Firefly. So I ordered it. I saw that you could make it a double for 20 extra pesos so I did that.
Unfortunately, this drink just tasted like sugar. It was so sweet, I couldn't stand it. Russ took care of it though and traded me a beer. Oh well for being adventurous!
Same thing for Maggie unfortunately, she ordered some kind of mango thing I think
She was not a fan either as it was also way too sweet. Mental note: no mixed drinks at Carboncitos next time, we'll stick to beer!
The salsas are always a hit
As were the coconut shrimp in a tamarind sauce
Adam got the Arrachera tacos - also very good!
This shrimp with cactus didn't get rave reviews (complaints of too salty) and Russell unnecessarily took one of the bill.
We walked back to Vista del Mar, had a few more drinks, then hit the sack as we had a cab coming at 10:15am.
Day 11 - Thursday
We had walked up to the cab stand yesterday and arranged a guy to come pick us up at 10:15am. He was there 10 minutes early and charged us 500 pesos. We were planning on taking the bus but the 10:30 would have gotten us there a little too late and the 9:15 was too early.
Bye Playa. At least it was rainy when we left.
And now for some things that didn't fit in elsewhere.
We had 3 strays hanging out on the patio the entire time we were at Casa Chaac. We called them gringo, taco, and Holyfield (so named because of his clipped ear - turned out they all had clipped ears though)
They were all very affectionate, except for taco, and were even invited to the wedding.
Gringo & Taco hanging out on the porch
Gringo would stand right outside the door but never came in even when we had it wide open
Gringo saying Hi at the wedding (at one point, there were 4 cats at the wedding)
The evening after the wedding Adam and I gave Gringo and Holyfield some leftovers.
We have 2 cats at home so we all thought it was pretty awesome to have some surrogates on vacation (except for Maggie and Erin who hate cats).
Casa Stavola 1
Dustin took these two shots from his villa - Casa Stavola, I thought they were pretty cool.
A beer with our coozies with the Cozumel ferry in the background.
Thomas has 2 ties and is in my brother's room (it was a loft)
These pictures of my parents make me laugh
These ones of my mom make me laugh even more.
Max's hoodie was awesome. I miss him.
The collection of stuff in this picture is really funny. A few ties, a handful of coozies, a dozen glasses, 4 beers, dirty napkins, 2 cute ladies, etc.
Sigh... I want to go back!
As much as I tried to sleep in, I was up by 7am. My parents went out to breakfast and brought us back some nutritious Mickey D's sandwiches for us to eat
Adam and I stayed back to work on some liquids we needed for the wedding. First, I made the Agua de Jamaica as it would need the longest time to cool. It's basically a hibiscus iced tea if you've never had it. We wanted something special that was non-alcoholic for the pregnant ladies. It wound up also being delicious with tequila and a little lime.
Then we made a simple syrup to use to sweeten cocktails in case some people felt they need it (just a sugar/water mix). But we forgot to give it to the bartenders and it turns out they brought their own anyway.
Then we worked on our cilantro cucumber lime syrup that would go in one of our signature drinks: Cool as a Cucumber.
Erica was over by 10 with people to set things up in the garden (although they did a lot if it the day before)
Adam's brother Aaron, his girlfriend Maggie, and my brothers fiance Betsy, worked on the photo walls
This is what it looked like when they were finished (there were 2 walls like this):
(I got the clips at Ikea). This was our version of a slideshow that people could peruse at their leisure.
At 1pm, Doranna came over to do my hair and makeup
Matt & Jonathon of Del Sol showed up around 2:45 and buzzed all over the house taking pictures of everything. They even followed Adam into the bathroom to watch him shave! By 3:30, my handsome groom was ready to go:
I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing at this point so I got dressed too.
The garden was almost ready
One of the signs carrie made us
Our cocktail menu:
Our Tequila Tasting Menu
The bar is ready
Floating candles from Artvela
Just about done
It's almost 4pm (the time of the ceremony) so we send our brothers down to the beach with 6packs of beer to pass out to the guests. We asked Matt (the photographer) what we were supposed to be doing and he didn't know so he suggested we just head down there. You'll notice a theme here. We had planned so much of this wedding but had no clue what we were supposed to do when it came to the actual ceremony.
Here are our guests arriving
See the rainbow?
We're hanging out at the back of the beach trying to figure out what we're supposed to be doing (we had no actual rehearsal). Someone suggests we have both of our parents walk us down the aisle so we decide to roll with that. We hand the rings to our brothers and ask them to stand next to us and be our ring/beer bearers.
Time to walk down the aisle!
Maria did our ceremony.
My brother holding my beer, his beer, my flowers, and a ring! He was responsible for a lot!
Adam's brother approves too - not quite sure where his beers are!
The family looks on
I didn't go the traditional diamond/wedding band route. My engagement ring was a pearl, it's on my right hand now. My wedding ring is a 3 carat natural sapphire. I'm not a diamonds kind of gal (not since seeing Blood Diamond at least!)
You may now kiss the bride!
We did it!!!
The new family
With Adam's family
Notice the classy matching footwear
Adam's Aunt Karen
The mariachi serenade us
Jim got this great shot of the beautiful sign that Carrie made while we checked out the surf.
Then the mariachi walked the rest of guests back to the villa while Adam and I got on a tricycle and Matt took us to the ruins in Playacar for a few portraits. (We don't have the pro pictures back, it'll be a few weeks but I'll be back with them, I promise!)
The guests in the garden
We ran up to the balcony of Casa Chaac and Jonathan walked out onto the edge of the pool with a bunch of equipment to get a good shot. But then he fell in the bushes. Oh no! Melissa to the rescue!
Our entrance plan was that the guests would line the walkway, a tricycle would pull up with us on it, and then our guests would blow bubbles at us.
Our friend Erin took the guests through a practice run!
To get a sense of the feeling, listen to our entry song right here:
Sigur Ros - Hoppipolla
Everyone thought it was so fun, they made us do it again!
So now it's time to party! Let's check out the food.
Guac & Pico
Taco Stand with Pastor
The chicken/steak stand
And I can't find any pictures of the fish taco stand but it was everyone's favorite. I'm also not finding any of the churro stand so I guess we have to wait for the pros pictures for those.
You can see them in the background here though:
Here's Erin with 2 of the amazing Del Sol Photographers (Jonathon on the left and Matt on the right). I CANNOT wait until we get the pictures back from them!!! Aren't they adorable?
So, there comes a time near the end of every wedding when all of Adam's friends take their ties off, tie them around their heads, and spend the rest of the evening this way. But our wedding was a strictly no tie allowed wedding. How could they keep their tradition if they weren't wearing one?
Dustin to the rescue!
He brought one for every male in attendance
And then they all danced to Beyonce. It was awesome!
Adam with his dad and brother
Erin got a hold of someone's tie too
This is Erica, our superhero wedding planner. She is a goddess and we LOVE her! If you are reading this and you are thinking of getting married in Playa, get a hold of Erica of Weddings in Playa. She will make it happen!
How's it going, Armando? (He was in charge of making sure everyone got to taste all of the tequilas) Your bar isn't quite as neat as it was a few hours ago
Look, Max the chihuahua came back
So we've been dancing, we're sweaty.. at this point, people start putting bathing suits on. See the people sitting on the edge of the pool?
I love this one! If you've been paying attention, you'll notice most of these people are in new outifts/bathing suit cover ups
With a bunch of people in the pool, I gave Dustin my underwater housing and told him to get some good shots.
Yes, the boys wore ties swimming. But Erin couldn't let them have all of the fun. So she jumped in the pool too. In her dress. That's her in the middle
Have you ever tried to drink a beer underwater? Adam's brother did!
Rachel was our dancing queen all night long, even in the pool!
Outside of the pool, somebody looks seems to be looking for trouble in her soaking wet dress...
She found it!!!!! (That would be vodka that PD is feeding her)
What do you guys think about Erin?
Karyn, what is about to happen with those shoes?
Oh my word!!!
Looking back I'm wondering where these shoes came from because I didn't think anyone wore heels to the wedding... Did Karyn go back to the condo to get them just to make PD put them on?
The groom is in a bathing suit now too!
And pretty soon, I was in too
Nick and Carrie are champs - they did so many things to help us out throughout our wedding weekend that we'll never forget. Carrie painting our signs, Nick cooking everybody dinner, Carrie running all over downtown Playa with me while we followed a man who swore he knew where we could find a Mezcal we were looking for, and both of them hanging out till the end - they rock! Love you guys!
And then we had to work on balancing the candles on Adam's brother
And I think that's the end of that. I was so sad to see these lights turn out...
I know I'm extremely biased but I'm pretty certain this was the best wedding ever! LOL! I am totally utterly in love with my wedding. As far as I'm concerned it was absolutely perfect.
All of these pictures come from the cameras of: my mom, Adam's mom, Dustin, Jim, Erin, Laura, and some are mine. None of these are the professional shots yet. I can't wait to share those with you as soon as I can though! Thanks to all my friends for doing such a great job capturing nearly every special moment of the night!
As a reminder, here are some wedding credits. I cannot explain in words how highly I would recommend all of them:
So... what did you think of my wedding?
Saturday morning, most people went out to breakfast at La Cueva del Chango. Everyone loved it. (If you ever go to Playa you must have breakfast here. This is the place we ate on Day 2 as well.)
I didn't go though because a handful of us went to get mani/pedi's instead.
It was 400 pesos for a Spa Pedicure + French Manicure. We went to Pretty Nails in the same complex as the Blockbuster on 10th Ave between Calle 8 and 10.
After that, we all met up at PG's Sandbox to watch the Michigan vs. Purdue game (this game was the reason the wedding was Sunday instead of Saturday)
Here's what the place looked like before we took over.
And just after 11am
We must have been ordering at least one bucket of pacifico per minute because they actually had to send someone out to buy more!
There were lots and lots and lots of shots of tequila to be had (I know I know, just yesterday I was saying how Adam and I don't do shots. But these were tequila, and they were free, and we were in Mexico!!!!)
And lots of shrimp tacos and these appetizer platters ordered:
Erin got this large Mudslide like drink
And the results:
By the time we left, my uncle had traded his michigan cap to the bartender for a hat and local firefighters T-shirt. My dad and his friend Chris (the blonde guy in some of these pictures) were both Dearborn Firefighters for 30 years so they bought shirts as well.
The funny thing is, we had the rehearsal dinner with the open bar on Friday so that people would have a day off to recover before the wedding. The folks at PG's made sure that didn't happen though as 44 drunk people wandered down 5th stopping for more drinks, shopping, and chatting with the locals.
Isn't that right dustin?
We walked all the way back to Casa Chaac from PG's which probably took about 2 hours after the stops, the trying to find people who ducked into stores, the spying my aunt and uncle doing more shots of tequila inside a jewelry store, etc...
When we got back we were all covered in sweat so we jumped in the pool and made more drinks of course.
Tonight was the night we were going to cook all the fish they caught deep sea fishing. Our friend, Nick, is a chef so he volunteered to cook it up and anyone who wanted was invited over to eat it.
Nick was head chef, and my dad and uncle steve were his sous chefs. I video taped the whole thing for Nick's podcast (The Sauced Chef)
Teaching us the best way to chop cilantro for the chimichurri sauce
While some were cooking, the rest of our family was outside working on the centerpieces
Uncle Steve is telling me about his Pico de Gallo
He grilled the fish. Some was spiced with chili peppers, some with just salt and pepper
All in all, we served rice pilaf, guac, pico de gallo, chimichurri, tortillas, cucumber salad, and the fish
Gotta sneak one in of me and my daddy!
Adam's Aunt Karen had just arrived and hadn't gotten to enjoy the pool yet so she took a dip.
And then we kicked everyone out so we could get a good night sleep before the wedding...
On the agenda: day trip to Akumal and then our rehearsal dinner at El Bistro.
The bus was scheduled to pick us up at 8am so everyone was up bright and early. At 7:15, Erica called to say the bus would be there at 7:30. I said there was no way we'd get 30 people ready to go in that amount of time so she said he would try to find a place to wait for us.
At 8am, we were all waiting for him to show up and he was nowhere to be found. 8:10... 8:15.... finally Adam decides to walk around and try to find him. A few minutes later we see a bus drive up and Adam is in the front seat. Apparently the driver parked around the corner and fell asleep.
Nice! By the way, it cost us $390 to rent the round trip charter for 28 people (in case you are ever looking to do something similar). Load 'em up!
Look, we're almost there!
The bus dropped us off at the arches
And then we just had a short (2 minute) walk the rest of the way.
We entered through the Akumal Dive Shop where you could rent a mask snorkel for maybe $7, flippers for $5, life vest for $4, something like that. Or for $18 you got all of it, plus a locker, plus a shower, plus someone would take you out and show you stuff.
Nobody wound up getting that package. You definitely didn't need a guide.
We were on the beach before 9am, it was a little overcast and we were the only people there.
We picked out a spot right in front of Lol-Ha, rented chairs, and everyone geared up.
I swam out ahead of everyone to check it out and within about 10 minutes I was just about pissing myself to see this!
Adam and I
And here's more tortuga! This guy had some friends
As we were swimming back in we saw this guy:
Spotted Eagle Ray I think?
We saw lots of good stuff out pretty far. To give you an idea, here is a picture of the beach from the distance we'd swam out. We didn't have flippers or life jackets but we are fairly decent swimmers.
Every single one of our friends who got in the water saw turtles and nobody had a guide. We just swam straight out from Lol-Ha. The rest of the people that didn't want to snorkel rented beach chairs for 50 pesos.
A few of us went and had lunch at Turtle Bay Cafe.
The food was great, except for this, which two people got. It looked like it would be delicious - a scramble with goat cheese, chaya, etc. But it wasn't...
Some kind of Vegetarian supreme breakfast thing that everyone loved
Steak and Eggs (the most expensive thing on the breakfast menu)
The fish sandwich
Crab cakes benedict
The other folks ate at Lol-Ha
We went back snorkeling again but we had to meet the bus back at the arches at 2pm.
Here we all are right before we had to pack up.
And, the bus ride home. Running dangerously low on beer despite a few runs up to the Super Chomak.
We got back to the villas around 3 and had time to kill. Here's some folks hanging out at Casa Stavola 1
When we got back, we found 2 more stragglers had arrived as my Aunt Sherry and Uncle Steve were lounging by the pool. We hadn't had enough water though and were still getting a huge kick out of the waterproof camera so we all jumped in too.
We finally dragged ourselves out of the pool and got ready for our rehearsal dinner at El Bistro (in La Tortuga hotel). About 10 people were just arriving on Friday so we'd be seeing them for the first time at dinner. But a few surprised us and came over for cocktails beforehand.
Hi Lynn and Rob!!!! I haven't seen these two for about 3 years, they are my oldest college friends!
Carrie worked on our wedding signs
Jimmy made people drinks (even though we had 2 hours of open bar coming up!)
Maggie (Adam's brothers girlfriend and our translator for the week) tried to call a cab for 30 people
Look, we found a big one! (We actually wound up with this same driver 5 times over the week)
Even though we had an open bar package, I was worried how they would get 50 people drinks as soon as we got there and figured it might take a good 30 minutes before everyone had a cocktail. Oh man was I wrong! They greeted us with trays full of Blue Margaritas, Frozen Mojitos, and Pina Coladas - all fantastic (and that's coming from someone who does not at all enjoy 99% of the frozen drinks she tries)
Hey, there's my Uncle Bill - they made it!!
By the time everyone finished their first round of drinks, their ordered drinks had shown up!
Love these lights down there. I want to decorate my patio at home with them!
Green is my favorite color so I had to get the all green picture with Kendall!
They let everyone wander around so here are people checking out the pools.
Ok, ready for some food? Our guests had the choice of 2 menus:
Everything was INCREDIBLE! I can't say enough about this food. Yum yum yum!
The Appetizers (Smoked salmon cake with mascarpone cheese and mango coulis on top and Caprese brusquetta on the bottom)
We were getting a little full at this point so I asked Jose to wait a bit before dessert. He said no problem since he had a show planned for dessert anyway!
Here he is preparing us the Crepes Flambé !
Rambo was making one too!
Here it is all finished. Yummmmmmmm!!!!!
And the mocha cake was delicious too!
Our open bar was scheduled from 7-9pm, at 9:30, Jose came over and showed me the time and asked what we wanted to do. I said, oh wow, that's fine, just tell everyone open bar is over. He said "Well, how about I do a last call?" So so generous!!!! They continued serving us until at least 10pm.
We were completely blown away by the service, food, drinks, and generosity of the folks at El Bistro - thank you so much guys! Especially Jose and Rambo, but you were all fabulous!
If anyone is thinking of taking 40-some people out to eat and you want to really impress them, (or if you're just looking for a romantic meal for 2), this is definitely the place to go! El Bistro @ La Tortuga Hotel in Playa Del Carmen.
A group of us decided to walk back along the beach and maybe find some entertainment. We made our first stop at Zenzi.
Some people did shots
And tried to get Adam and I to do one too (we declined, we are not really shots people)
Why aren't all bars like this? comfy couches right in the sand, shoes optional!
Oh my! This would not be the last time PD wore Erin's shoes.
There was a little dancing (while I played with dragging the shutter)
After that we left Zenzi as the drinks are so overpriced (and this answers the question I posed a few photos up. All bars aren't like this because if they were, nobody could afford to drink). We were going to go to Fusion for some live music but there was a set break as soon as we got there so we just went home. But not before Erin stopped at every lighthouse station, climbed up it, and played Baywatch first.
Big T wanted in on the fun too.
Ok, just one more days recap till the big wedding post!