Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

R&C Wedding, Part 1

The Knoren wedding celebration began Thursday night as we all headed to San Francisco.  Robby and I got a later start than we had planned, so we didn't get into our room (Chelsea's apartment) until close to midnight.  Not the greatest way to begin the busiest weekend ever!  But adrenaline kept us going.  We were up bright and early the next day, and soon Chelsea was over and the wedding bustle was beginning.

We started by working a bit on our hair, then headed to a make-up counter to get our faces on!  Chelsea looked absolutely flawless.  Sara, Esther, and Rosalinda (Chelsea's good friends) stopped by to hang out and bring coffee, and my mom soon came for her make-up time, too.  Unfortunately Carly and Camille weren't in San Francisco yet, so they missed out.  

After our make-up, we headed back to Chelsea's apartment and finished getting ready.  The most exciting part was helping Chelsea into her gorgeous dress.  I wish we had had more time to enjoy that moment, but the clock was a-tickin', and Robby and I had to get to the ceremony location to set up a few things and get ready.  Little did we know terrible traffic would still make us late.

The ceremony was held at Sunnyside Conservatory, a lovely wood building with windows everywhere!  It was perfect for our intimate setting.  I did not get a single good picture, but luckily Chelsea sent me a couple taken by Roger's amazing photographer friend.  Until I get reprimanded for using a professional's photos without his permission, then, I'm going to include them here on my blog :)

Robby and I had the honor of being part of their wedding.  He married them, and I provided music.  Chelsea's friend Rosalinda ended the ceremony by singing a stunning rendition of "At Last," which couldn't be more fitting.  At last Chelsea and Roger get to be together!

After the ceremony, we had delicious cake and champagne and all had a wonderful time getting to know each other better.  There would be plenty more fun ahead, though, so after our congratulating of the new Mr. and Mrs. Knoren, we headed back for a quick freshen-up before meeting for dinner.

Dad and his son-in-laws
Cake cutting!
Delicious cake!
Like everything else that weekend, dinner was just incredible!  We ate at the well-known Cliff House, which is near Lands End in San Francisco.  My goodness, the food was unbelievable!  House-made bread, crab-cakes, filets, creamed veggies, and a to-die-for molten chocolate cake for dessert.  Chelsea and Roger definitely spoiled all of us!

Mother-of-the-bride and bride
Esther, Sara, and Rosalinda
Auntie Di and me
The happy couple toasting!
You think the fun stopped there?  Oh no...we headed back to this incredible vacation home Chelsea and Roger had rented for the out-of-country guests.  Once again I failed as a photographer and have not one single picture of this place!  It was crazy amazing, though -- three stories, tons of bedrooms, windows everywhere, a tiered courtyard in the backyard.  I think they may have given the out-of-towners a wrong impression of how people really live here!

We spent the rest of our evening enjoying the good food and drinks provided by the newlyweds and have a fabulous time getting to know Roger's family and friends, all of whom we fell in love with!

The next morning, we packed up and started back to Visalia to prepare for wedding celebration part two!  Stay tuned...

Monday, February 20, 2012


Well, friends, the whirlwind that is a wedding finally has come and gone.  We had a wonderful time as a family celebrating the marriage of my sister and her her husband Roger (pronounced Ro-jay, for those who don't know).  We actually had multiple days of celebrating since there was a small but gorgeous ceremony in San Francisco for the immediate family, then a large reception in Visalia the next day.  I loved the contrast of the two, although both were beautiful.  It gave us more time to enjoy the celebration and even get to know Roger's friends and family better, all of whom made quite the trek to be here.

Here are just a few photos.  More will come, I promise, but to be honest, I'm still tired.  I feel like I haven't slept in a week!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

New Camera

Remember how I said in my recent birthday post that I am one spoiled girl?  Well, my hub is spoiled, too.  It seems people just like giving him awesome things, and recently my sister Chels topped it all by "loaning indefinitely" to him her awesome Canon camera.  He's been having fun with it, playing with the lenses and taking some pretty great pictures.  Here are just a few, but the posts to come will have more.  It's amazing how much clearer (and cooler) they are than those taken with my camera!  

Monday, February 6, 2012

Red and White

For Chelsea's showers last weekend, I made two kinds of cupcakes: vanilla with vanilla buttercream, and red velvet with a cream-cheese buttercream.  I'm going to share the recipes here even though I will firmly declare that I am not a fan of red velvet.  It's not chocolate; it's not vanilla.  What good is that to me?  It is beautiful, so I probably will make it again just for the great red cake, and those who were red velvet lovers said this was a fantastic recipe.  The vanilla cake, on the other hand, is delicious, and I thank Kelly for her perfect yellow cake quest.  Both of these recipes come from America's Test Kitchen. 

Red Velvet Cupcakes

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons
natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
2 tablespoons red food coloring
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , softened
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
Frosting *I halved this recipe for the cupcakes!
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
16 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, softened
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt
For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans OR line two cupcake pans.  This recipe made about 18 cupcakes.  Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and eggs in large measuring cup. Sift cocoa and mix with food coloring in small bowl until a smooth paste forms.  (Make sure it is smooth!  Lumps don't come out when you mix the batter.)
With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary. Add one-third of flour mixture and beat on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add half of buttermilk mixture and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl as necessary and repeat with half of remaining flour mixture, remaining buttermilk mixture, and finally remaining flour mixture. Scrape down bowl, add cocoa mixture, and beat on medium speed until completely incorporated, about 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, give batter final stir. To make cakes: Scrape into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. To make cupcakes: Scoop batter into lined cupcake tins (makes about 18) and bake for 15 minutes.  Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.
For the frosting: With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Beat in vanilla and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
4 Large eggs
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
2 Teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 Cups Cake Flour
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 Teaspoons Salt
1/2 lb. Butter, softened and cut into 8 pieces.

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease two 9-inch cake pans with butter and cover pan bottoms with rounds of parchment. Grease parchment rounds and dust with flour, and tap out excess.

2. Beat eggs, milk, and vanilla with fork in small bowl; measure out 1 cup of this mixture and set aside. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; mix on lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds. With mixer still running at lowest speed, add butter one piece at a time, mix until butter and flour begin to clump together and look sandy and pebbly, with pieces about the size of peas, 30-40 seconds after all butter is added. Add reserved 1 cup of egg mixture and mix at lowest speed until incorporated, 5-10 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add remaining egg mixture in slow steady stream, about 30 seconds. Stop mixture and scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Beat on medium-high until thoroughly combined and batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds longer.

3. For cakes: Divide batter equally between prepared cake pans; spread to sides of pan and smooth with rubber spatula. Bake until cake tops are light golden and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. For cupcakes: Scoop into lined cupcake tins (makes about 2 dozen) and bake 15 minutes.  Cool on rack 10 minutes.  Frost when cooled!

*I used the flour buttercream frosting I posted a few weeks ago.  Here it is again, with a few changes that made these extra sweet:

Flour Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks butter, very soft
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 cup fine granulated sugar
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 t vanilla

1.  Over low to med high heat on the stove, carefully and consistently mix together the flour and milk.  You want to do this by sifting in your flour because you don't want any lumps!  In a few minutes, it will come together and look like glue.  If it's not coming together, raise the heat a bit.  Also, it will thicken slightly as it cools.

2. Let it cool, whisking occasionally so it doesn't stick to the pan.  You really need a good hour for it to cool.  You can do this step early in the day and forget about it until you're ready to work on the rest.

3.  With the mixer, beat butter until smooth and creamy.  Add granulated sugar and beat until fluffy.  Add cooled milk/flour mixture and beat until thick and creamy, five to seven minutes or so.  (The beating helps the sugar dissolve.)

4.  Taste it.  I find I like mine a bit sweeter, so here is where I start adding in powdered sugar.  Start with a cup, then add more if you like it sweeter.  You can also add in cocoa powder at this point to make it a chocolate frosting, which is also delicious.

4.  Add 1 t vanilla (or other flavoring of choice -- almond, espresso, orange, etc.)

Note: This frosting may be slightly grainy at first, but the sugar dissolves quickly.  If possible, make it a couple hours before frosting, so that the sugar has time to dissolve.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Loveliest Way

For the past two years, I've kept a private blog about our struggles with infertility.  I decided to make it public, although I have removed both this blog and the LW blog from my profile, as well as from Google search.  Feel free to read this if you'd like or to pass it on to anyone who may find encouragement from it.

The Loveliest Way