Thursday, May 31, 2012

Our Wedding

As I mentioned, last weekend Noah and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary. Our wedding has been published a number of times, in print and online, so you may have seen some of these pictures before, but our amazing photographers, Liz Banfield and Stephanie Colgan, were kind enough to let me share a few of our favorites right here. I wrote most of the text for this post a few years back, answering questions for an article about our wedding that appeared on Clover & Bee (a midwest wedding website that sadly no longer exists)...

It all started with an article in Martha Stewart Living about how to fade floral fabrics to make them look vintage. There was a picture of a picnic blanket made from these “vintage” fabrics, and I tore it out thinking “someday I’ll make one.” When we started planning our wedding, I came across that picture and was inspired.
As a kid, my siblings and I would beg our mom to have picnics. I have a photo of my sister, brother, and I wearing winter hats and coats eating a picnic lunch in our backyard. Somehow calling it a picnic even made peanut butter and jelly more fun.  Since Noah and I love spending time outdoors, it made sense to have some part of our wedding outside, and when we found Riedel Farm, we knew it would be the perfect place for a picnic.

We were spoiled in the photography department. I had worked with both Liz Banfield and Stephanie Colgan for a number of years before Noah and I got married. I would have had a hard time choosing between the two, so when they offered to shoot our wedding together we were ecstatic. They did such a beautiful job (as you can see from the photos), and it’s great to have such a wonderful mix of their unique styles in our wedding album. 

The invitations were designed and handmade by me. I printed all the invitations at home, and used my sewing machine to add three lines of pink stitching to 150 invitations, reception, and reply cards. Even I started thinking I was crazy after awhile! I’m not sure I ever finished tying off all the loose threads, but the invites did go out on time, hand-addressed and all. 

My dress was designed by Joy Teiken of Joynoelle. I tried on a lot of dresses and, not being a girl that wears dresses very often, nothing felt right. Then I went to Joy. She made it so easy! I showed her some pictures of dresses I liked and told her which shapes I thought fit me best (judging from what I had already tried on), and she went from there. I went in every few weeks for a fitting and Joy would fix anything that needed changing. It was a fun process and the dress turned out beautifully. I must have tried it on about 20 times, between picking it up from Joy and the actual wedding day, I loved it so much!

I'm 5'2" and Noah is over 6 feet tall, so I definitely wanted to wear heels...really high heels. After an extensive search, I found these surprisingly comfortable polka dot cuties by Gabriella Rocha which gave me an extra four inches!

Noah and I picked out ties for the groomsmen. Noah's brother, Kristian wore a bow tie and was ready long before the rest of the guys. Noah later told me that my dad had to teach them all how to tie a tie. Thanks Dad!

I did my hair and make-up myself. Not a route I would recommend for everyone (there are a lot of awesome hair stylists and make-up artists out there), but since I rarely wear make-up, I just wanted to keep it simple. I believe I washed my hair, and besides pinning it back, I just let it do its own thing. Luckily it decided to look nice that day...despite the rain!

We wish our grandparents could have all lived to see our wedding, but we felt lucky to have had Noah's two living grandparents with us. We wanted to include a few reminders in our wedding of the loved ones we had lost, so we set up a display of our parents' and grandparents' wedding photos above our guestbook - it was fun to see them all so young! My tulip bouquet also included a silver butterfly pin that belonged to my Grandma Gail, and since it was chilly that morning, I had a white wool scarf from my Grandma Ryan to wrap around my shoulders (I'm wearing it in the first photo).

We did all the family and wedding party portraits at Riedel before the ceremony. Even when I'm shooting weddings, I prefer to have that extra time beforehand for a calm and unhurried portrait session. Plus everyone looks so fresh and happy right after getting ready - my hair only got more unruly as the day went on...

The bouquets created by Pam McCarthy-Kern of Fleurissima were gorgeous. The bridesmaids’ bouquets were each a single color - pink, green, or yellow - and included a number of different flowers which gave them a lovely texture. My bouquet was all tulips (my favorite flower) in various shades of pink and white with just a hint of green. The men’s boutonnieres were simple and sweet - a couple green Kermit mums with a little branch of pink blossoms for the groomsmen, and green berries with a little pink branch for Noah. 


Our wedding colors: cherry blossom pink, marigold yellow, and spring green were inspired by spring. I sent the girls color swatches to go by and they picked out their own dresses (the yellow and green ones were from J.Crew). The guys wore tan suits from Saavi Formalwear, along with the ties we gave them. My niece wore a dress from the Tea Collection that I had bought on sale a couple years earlier (lucky for us it fit her!), and Noah's nephew wore a white shirt, khakis, and a striped tie we'd found at Macy's that matched Nina's dress perfectly. 

Our ring bearer carried our rings down the aisle in a wooden box that I now use for jewelry, and our flower girl carried her petals in a basket that came - filled with flowers from my grandma - when my sister and I were baptized. 

The whole day was such a blur, but I fondly remember a few little things, like when the kids went down the aisle just before me and my dad. We asked Noah’s nephew, Sebastien and my niece, Nina to be our ring bearer and flower girl. Sebastien was about 4 years old at the time and had been a ring bearer a couple times before, so he knew the routine. Nina was not quite 3 yet, so we weren’t sure what she would do. We decided to send them down the aisle together, and half way down they stopped while Sebastien took a fistful of flowers from Nina’s basket to show her how to sprinkle them on the floor. She quietly watched him, then picked up every last petal, put them back in her basket, and kept on walking. The petals made it to the front of the church as safely as the rings!

May can be really unpredictable weather-wise in Minnesota. We definitely got lucky. We had gray skies in the morning, with a short shower during the ceremony (rain is good luck on your wedding day!), then the sun came out and the rest of the afternoon was warm and sunny with a cool breeze coming up from the river. It was gorgeous! 

We let our guests get a head start on the way out to the reception, and stopped with Stephanie for a few quick pictures at Lake Calhoun. The Holga shots she got of us are some of my favorites!

I knew we’d be serving brown bag lunches so I sent the invitations out in brown kraft paper envelopes, and printed the save-the-date postcards on kraft paper cardstock. found the brown paper envelopes at Paper Depot, cardstock for the invites at Paper Source, and vintage stamps on Ebay. 

Riedel Farm Estate was the perfect place for our reception. The house, the only remaining structure of what was once a dairy farm, provided a beautiful place for getting ready photos, as well as a kitchen for the caterers, casual indoor seating, and cute vintage restrooms for our guests. There was an interesting stone patio on the grounds that made a perfect backdrop for group photos, and I couldn’t imagine spreading out a picnic blanket anywhere more amazing than the back lawn overlooking the Mississippi River. 

That's me and my twin sister just before my dad's welcoming toast. Yup, she's a nun and lives way too far away!

We wanted the flower arrangements for the tables to be simple and look hand-picked from the garden. Pam mixed all the colors used in the bouquets (pink, yellow, green, and white), and placed the arrangements in the milk bottles we had collected. 

The gazebo provided a nice sheltered spot for guests to eat at picnic tables, and later when the tables were removed, for dancing. A few of our friends were kind enough to come early to decorate the gazebo and help get everything else set up. (In fact, I would have been late to my own wedding if Molly hadn't called to ask where we were - my alarm never went off!) Molly, Brian, and Eric - thanks for all your help! We honestly couldn't have done it without you!

My sister and I made picnic blankets for guests who wanted to sit out on the lawn. Most of the blankets were given to our friends and family who helped out with the wedding, but Noah and I kept one for ourselves...and we always take it with us to watch fireworks.

Oh, and we made those picnic blankets waterproof. No worries about water soaking through from the wet grass!

The picnic lunches were great! I was so happy to find Karn and Jenny of Good Life Catering! It seemed like a lot of the caterers I talked to weren’t really on board with the whole picnic idea, but Karn and Jenny were immediately intrigued and excited. They had most of the menu figured out by the end of our first meeting! Good Life specializes in using fresh, local ingredients, and everything they made was amazing. In fact, one friend told us that he’s been ordering chicken salad sandwiches everywhere he goes, but so far nothing has lived up to the one he had at our wedding. 

The park didn't allow hard liquor, so Noah and his dad picked up beer and wine from Trader Joe's instead. They also bought a bunch of water and bottled sodas...I think my nephew had a new bottle of soda in his hand every time I saw him. Oh well, he still has all of his teeth...I think. 

My sister, Anastasia, made the whole wheat wedding cake with butter cream frosting. It probably doesn’t sound great, but it was amazing. Even the kids went back for more! 

These photos only scratch the surface of all the beautiful moments Liz and Stephanie captured. But it's a good scratch. A happy scratch. We love looking through our wedding photos and seeing all the smiling faces of the people that we love. Someday I want to get them into an album, but it's so hard to choose which ones. They shot over 60 rolls of film, so I know there's no way to fit them all!

Photography - Liz Banfield & Stephanie Colgan 
Location - Riedel Farm Estate in Fridley, MN 
Floral Design - Pam McCarthy-Kern of Fleurissima 
Invitations + Menus - Michelle DuPuis 
Catering - Good Life Catering 
Picnic Blankets & Wedding Cake - Anastasia DuPuis 
Wedding Dress - Joynoelle 
Bride's Shoes - Gabriella Rocha from Zappo's 
Bridesmaids’ Dresses - J.Crew 
Groomsmen Suits - Saavi Formalwear
Flowergirl Dress - Tea Collection 
Rings - Tiffany & Co.  
Groom’s Suit - Ralph Lauren 
Groom’s Tie - Joseph Abbaud from Nordstrom's

You can see more pictures, and a couple articles I was actually interviewed, for here and here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chocolate Milk Pops

There is nothing like a fudge pop. Creamy. Chocolaty. Delicious. Unfortunately, I rarely buy fudge pops, and although I feel like I've pinned a million recipes for making fudge and pudding pops, they all require some amount of cooking, so yeah, I've never gotten around to making them. Until now...

This is not technically a fudge pop recipe, but it has the same creamy, chocolaty flavor, and it's as easy as mixing up a glass of chocolate milk! And just in case you're wondering, eating three of these guys is the same as drinking a small glass of chocolate milk. Just make sure to leave some for the kids!


2½ cups whole milk*
½ cup Hershey's Chocolate Syrup


To help the popsicles freeze faster, and prevent the chocolate from sinking to the bottom, place ice pop molds in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before making the popsicles. Measure the ingredients into a container with a spout and mix well. Pour into ice pop molds, and top off with milk, if necessary, to fill the molds. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze. Makes 10 (using this freezer pop mold).

*I used whole milk for this recipe, but these should be just as good with 1% or 2% milk. Just avoid skim (it's too thin and watery). Most fudge pop recipes call for Half & Half or heavy cream, so even using whole milk, this version contains a lot less fat.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Simple Things

5/24/2012 10:08 AM - Nikon D700 | Manual | 50mm | ISO 1600 | f/2.8 | 1/60 sec 

Link up at Simple As That. (See all of my Simple Things posts right here.)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

Today Noah and I have been married for 5 years! Time really flies when you're having fun...and buying a house...and having a baby. No wonder it went so fast! 

Photo by Liz Banfield

I'll be sharing more of our wedding photos next week!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Shade Garden

Every winter I save a few cuttings from my annuals to make my trips to the greenhouse a little less expensive in the spring. They sit in little jars on the windowsill above the kitchen sink and make me long for spring...especially by the end of the winter when the tiny clippings have turned into trailing vines! 

Cutting from a Wandering Jew Plant

This cutting was from one of the plants that did well in our front window box last summer. I always have a hard time finding plants for that box since it's almost completely shaded. There aren't many flowers that do well in the shade, so I tend to buy plants with pretty foliage instead. 

Chameleon Plant, Nonstop Yellow Begonia, and Charmed Wine Oxalis

This year I filled our window box with begonias, a Buttercup Ranunculus'Charmed Wine' oxalis, a Chameleon Plant, a fuchsia, some pale yellow petunias, dusty miller, and the Wandering Jew I'd saved from last summer.

Shade Garden

I'm hoping my little garden still looks this good at the end of the summer (please ignore the mud splattered widows), but I'll have to wait a few weeks to see if these plants survive in the shade.

Do you have any favorite shade plants? Know of any good plants to grow from cuttings? (I've also had luck with coleus, impatiens, fuchsias, and mint.) Any other tips for growing a garden without spending a lot of green?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Local Attractions: MN Landscape Arboretum

We've gone to the auxiliary plant sale at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum on Mother's Day weekend for the last few years now. This year was no exception...only this time the weather was gorgeous (it's always been cold or rainy in the past), so we spent the rest of the day exploring the Arboretum's gardens.

We picked up some nice plants at the plant sale. I came home with a new peony and a gorgeous clematis, and Noah picked out a few little hostas for our front garden. We now have 10 different types of hosta in that garden!

Noah's mom brought our two nephews, who kept Abe happily entertained even while we were looking at plants. The boys had a ton of fun just running around being girls to slow them down! 

After stopping by the car to drop off our newly purchased plants, we took a stroll through the Arboretum's tulip gardens and experienced some major tulip envy.

Tulips are my favorite flower so you'd think my yard would be full of them. I've planted tons of tulip bulbs, but I think the squirrels must have dug them up because I only had three tulips bloom this year! 

They're also never this pretty. It's easy for me to get lost at the Arboretum since I want to take pictures of everything, so when I finally tore myself away from the tulips, I found that everyone else had moved on. I didn't know where they went so I started wandering around, and came across the azaleas which were in bloom.

Maybe I need an orange azalea in my front yard...

After admiring the azaleas for awhile, I called Noah and made plans to meet up at the Japanese maple near the entrance to the sensory garden.

Noah's mom took a picture of us in front of this maple tree a few weeks before we got married almost five years ago. It's one of my favorite pictures of the two of us. Last year we got a shot with Abe in front of the tree, so we decided to make it a tradition and posed for a quick family photo. 

Then we found another gorgeous tulip garden. What I wouldn't do for a garden like that! And this one is in front of the restrooms! I'm not even sure those toilets have plumbing... Tulip. Envy.

Since the boys were getting tired, we decided to take a short walk through the Woodland Wildflower Garden. It's a paved trail that's nicely shaded and at certain times of the year you can spot Minnesota's state flower: the pink and white Showy Lady's Slipper.

They weren't blooming this time around (I think they bloom around the end of June/beginning of July), but there were a bunch of these yellow lady's slippers.

This trail is great for kids because it has all these fun little trails and bridges that cross a tiny stream. It feels like a real hike...without the trouble of really hiking. 

Which brings me to other kid-friendly activities at the arboretum. Abe was pretty happy just running along trails (little did he know what he was missing), but on weekends, the Arboretum offers a bunch of different programs for kids at the Learning Center. There's also the "Under the Oak" nature play area just outside the Learning Center, built beneath the oldest tree at the Arboretum! And if you walk (or drive) along Three Mile Drive, make sure to stop at the Maze Garden. Not quite as large or confusing as a corn maze, but just as much fun!

The Arboretum is a nice place to visit any time of year, but I especially love going when the apple trees (usually mid-May), tulips (late April/early May), roses (June-September), and peonies (late May/early June) are in bloom. (Click here to find out what's currently in bloom.) I remember going to the Arboretum in the winter as a kid for their pancake breakfast, but did you know you can also go shoe-shoeing and cross-country skiing when there's snow?!

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum offers the following attractions and amenities (click on the links for more information):


For more information about the plants and upcoming events at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, go to