Getting Hitched

Yes, it's official. Conservative Boy and I got married on Friday, November 27.

It was the perfect, low-key day ... just what we were hoping for. The weather was sunny (albeit chilly), we got to celebrate with our immediate families, and Conservative Boy's childhood friend (and the pastor for the big day) made it to Georgia without any problems.

We had a talented musician, a stellar photographer, homemade pies, and lots of smiles. What more could you ask for?

More details, perhaps. But those will have to come later. This promises to be a crazy week at school for me, so I likely will post rather sporadically.

However, in the meantime, I do have a very special sneak peek of the big day for you, courtesy of our photographer, Melissa Williamson. (By the way, if you know anyone getting married in Georgia, I highly recommend her. She's terrific!)



A Note to Brides

Dear Brides:

I would like to issue a warning. It's a good idea to avoid getting married the day after Thanksgiving. Or, if you must, at least make sure you don't try your dress on half an hour after Thanksgiving dinner. Trust me, it's not a good idea. Unless your mother knows how to work a needle and thread. Then, I have learned, you're OK.

That is all.

P.S. I am getting married tomorrow. That really is all.


The Marriage License

This is the marriage license.

And this is the Greene County Courthouse, where we got our marriage license.


The Location

This is the view from where we will be standing. (Cell phone photo, dreary day.)

This is a sign near where we will be standing. (It makes me happy.)


The Toasting Flutes

These are the toasting flutes. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)


The Rings

These are the rings. (Sort of.)


The Tie

This is the tie.


The Shoes

These are the shoes.


The Dress

This is the dress.


Burlesque and Bull Riding

This past weekend, I headed to Kansas City for a birthday celebration for one of my college friends, which actually morphed into a bachelorette party for yours truly.

(In case you've forgotten, I'm getting hitched to a certain Conservative Boy in about a week and a half!)

Now, you know I can't share much about said bachelorette party, because even when they're not in Vegas like the last one I went to, the same rule applies: What happens at bachelorette parties does not get broadcast over this crazy invention called the Internet.

However, I will tell you this: It was fantastically fun, most of all because I got to spend the weekend with a group of my most favorite people. And they took me to a great Kansas City-area winery for a tasting, followed by wine and snacks outside in a lovely little gazebo.

Then it was on to the burlesque portion of the day. And no, I'm not going to elaborate. You can figure that out on your own. Muahahaha.

Afterward, we all donned our cowboy hats and boots (for real—it was a western-themed bash, in honor of my home state) and headed to Stix, a restaurant at which I ate the most delicious sushi. (And here's an exciting part: met up with a childhood friend I haven't seen in ... oh ... 15 years. And Conservative Sister came too and bravely joined the debauchery—we even had a hat for her.)

The cowboy boots and hats, naturally, led to a little joint called Wild Bill's, where I may or may not have done this.


(Note to self: Bull riding, even when the bull is not real, leads to some seriously sore legs the next day.)

And yes, the blurry cell phone picture is all you're going to get. You can't prove that's actually me, right?


The To-Do List

Clean up all the leaves in the yard, only to have more leaves appear an hour after this task is complete.

Take Conservative Boy to Springfield to have his cast removed after thumb surgery. Expect the giant pin sticking out of the top of his thumb (yes, it is as gross as it sounds) will come out too. Find out the pin stays for at least another month, but at least now it's not out in the open.

Drive Conservative Boy home. Turn around and go back to Springfield for school.

Work on presentation on urban environmental problems for a sociology class.

Work on compiling data for a study of two forest areas near Springfield for ecology.

Read about landscape ecology. Take three hours of notes about landscape ecology.

Work on the UIS music department website. And the sociology department website. And, for a few minutes, a wedding website.

Get hair colored and cut.

Drive to Peoria to pick up wedding dress, only to discover that it does not fit. Be incredibly grateful the seamstress can have alterations done by next Wednesday.

Spend hours trying to get receptions pinned down so invitations can be ordered. Finally succeed on Wednesday night.

Finish an article on ways to encourage kids to "go green" for freelance article writing class.

Work on presentation about freelance magazine writing for next week's freelance article writing class.

Get up early to speed-clean the house.

Work more on urban environmental problems presentation. And websites.

Go to sociology faculty meetings. Scan the same reading three times for a faculty member because it's half a book and too large to fit on Blackboard.

Dream about a week from tomorrow ... the last day of school before we head to Georgia.

Write a random blog post, because it seems so much more productive than actually tackling the rest of the things on the to-do list.


Flourless Chocolate Cake

Mmm chocolate. What would the world be like without chocolate? It's a fate I dare not ponder. Instead, I'll dwell in a brighter world where everyone gets to eat flourless chocolate cake for their birthday.

That's what Conservative Mom got for her birthday on Wednesday. Kid Sister made a delicious Mexican dinner. I made the cake.

And since I received a lovely 9-inch springform pan from My Parents for my birthday, I decided it was a great opportunity to break it in. Chocolate required.

Flourless chocolate cake has only three ingredients, yet making it isn't exactly a quick process. Still, it's worth it in the end, when you indulge in a tiny sliver of heaven.

I opted to follow the recipe I found on Annie's Eats, although I know there are a slew of other options out there. This one was pretty darn tasty though, so why mess with what works?

You start by preheating the oven to 325° F and adjusting an oven rack to the lower-middle position.

Next, grease the sides of your springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and wrap the outside of the pan with heavy-duty foil. Set the springform pan in a larger baking pan and start boiling a bit pot of water. You'll come back to this later.

Now it's time to coarsely chop one pound of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. (I used semisweet, and worked very hard not to let pieces fly on the floor, because Butter knows that if he waits beside me in the kitchen eventually I will drop something on the floor.)

Then you cut 16 tablespoons of unsalted butter into 16 pieces.

Combine the chocolate and butter in a double broiler (or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water) until it all melts and is very warm, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, beat 8 large, cold eggs (yes, 8!). Ideally, they'll go in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Or if you don't have one, you'll just use a handheld mixer and mix on high speed until the volume doubles to about 1 quart (it takes about 5 to 10 minutes), or until your arm falls off, whichever comes first.

Once the eggs are sufficiently whipped and the chocolate melted, fold one third of the eggs into the chocolate mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until only a few streaks of egg are visible (still working on it below).

Repeat with half of the egg mixture that's left, then the rest. When you're done, you should be staring at a beautiful bowl of smooth chocolate without a hint of egg or butter.

Scrape the batter into your pan and smooth the surface with your spatula. Now pour that boiling water you've been ignoring into the big pan in which your spingform pan is sitting until the water comes about halfway up the springform pan.

Now it's time to bake the cake—for about 22-25 minutes in an 8-inch pan or 18-22 minutes in a 9-inch pan. The cake should have risen slightly with edges just beginning to set. Using an instant-read thermometer and baking until it reads 140° F in the center is recommended.

But of course I didn't do that. I'm a rebel, remember?

Once you pull your beautiful baby from the oven, remove the springform pan from the water bath and set it on a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Make sure to take some blurry photos.

Cover and refrigerate. Then, 30 minutes prior to serving, remove the cake from the pan and sprinkle the top with confectioner's sugar. Or forget, like I did. It's up to you. I promise it will be tasty either way.


Sharing What's On My Mind

This morning I've been mulling over what I should write about on my blog today. I've been rather negligent lately, and now that I have time I know I need to chat with you a bit.

But I've been thinking, thinking, thinking and can't figure out anything I've tried recently that's worth sharing.

That's because I've been a bit wrapped up in a few key things. And so, although I am adamant this will not turn into the sort of blog where all you hear about is wedding stuff, I thought it might be best to share what has been on my mind lately.

Then I promise to move on to bigger and better things, like new recipes and messages from Butter, soon.

So, without further ado, I present the top 6 things I have been thinking about recently.

1. Wedding planning.
For those of you who haven't heard, the Sunday after Conservative Boy and I got engaged, we decided to get married on November 27. No, not of 2010. Of 2009. So My Mom and I (with quite a bit of help from Conservative Parents and minimal input from C.B.) spent about 6 days thinking wedding. After that, we're pretty much done.

I don't want to share too many details, because then my post-wedding blog posts won't be nearly as interesting. But I will say that we are getting married on Georgia, on a golf course, by a lake. It's a small ceremony with mostly immediate family, and then we'll be throwing some parties afterward to celebrate. Which brings me to #2 ...

2. Receptions. This one is still requiring some thought, although I am gladly leaving most of the thinking on this front to My Family and My Soon-to-Be Family. There's talk of two shindigs—one in Wyoming and one in L-Town—for early 2010. That is all I know.

3. Grad school. Yes, kids, that's right. Despite the tight schedule we're on for all things weddings, lately a good portion of my attention has actually been focused on school—the papers due this and last week, last night's ecology test, registering for next semester's classes (my last semester!).

4. Driving. I made a quick trip to St. Louis on Sunday to visit friends and attend a Coca-Cola Scholars dinner. Then I managed to drive to Springfield and back twice on Monday. And again (just one round trip, fortunately) yesterday. In addition to my other trip to Springfield this week, I expect that I'll also be making an appearance in Peoria, because my wedding dress (!) is supposed to be in this week.

If you want to know why I drove to Springfield and back twice on Monday, just ask Conservative Boy. Also ask him about the sweet accessory he'll be sporting at the wedding. Trust me, you'll be impressed.

5. Gift registries. Apparently, once you get engaged and your wedding draws near, people want to know where you're registered. I thought I'd have plenty of time to worry about registry stuff later since our wedding is so small, but when you have wonderful, kind people who decide to throw you bachelorette parties and bridal showers, you have to think about these things sooner rather than later. Oops.

This is a work in progress. Right now if you shop at Bed Bath and Beyond, you have four options: A KitchenAid stand mixer, a handheld grater, a garlic press (yes, girls, after all this time I'm finally getting my garlic press!), and a can opener. Or why not head over to Target? There you can choose from a Wii Fit and a Target gift card. Yes, I know we have some work to do. Although C.B. doesn't care much as long as Guitar Hero appears on the registries somewhere. And new pillows.

I did pick out some wonderful pots and bakeware over at Macy's, however. Don't act so surprised. You know where my priorities are.

6. Leaves. For some reason the leaves in our yard are not raking themselves. This makes me very angry.

That is all.