The Union of Country Weddings and City Chic

We recently attended what turned out to be a wedding with rustic trappings. I assume it was supposed to be a country style settings themed toward down to earth hospitality rather than to a more formal affair.

Honestly I am pleased that it was less formal. After our second child I was having a hard time getting back down to weight and some of more dress clothes were tight in spots and I didn't really feel like going out and buying something for the afternoon just to not be able to wear it again in a couple of months because the dress was too big. As it stands I was able to look nice and not redo my wardrobe.

As Weddings Go

We got the invitation in the mail for the wedding about six months in advance. I really don't know if you need to send them out that much earlier but I guess they were foregoing the save the date card that way.

Out of curiousity I went online and looked for the design that they used. It wasn't too hard to find the invitation that they chose for the wedding. And it was even easier to figure out how much they spent on them wen taking the number of guests that they had invited for the ceremony/reception. I 'll just say it was slightly less than $300. And you can find the style that they chose easy enough.

Anyway as it stood the date was far enough in advance for us that we didn't have to change any plans so that was a plus.

When I saw the card I knew immediately that it was going to be rustic in theme. And to be honest I had to laugh because the people getting married had little at best to do with the country. They both grew up here in the city and outside from outings in the park they don't really do too much outside. Not that they need to, or that they in itself needs to be a criteria for having a down to earth wedding. Like I said I was fine with the idea and I was curious to see how the come as you are stay as long as you can, no seating arrangement would work out for them.

The ceremony and reception were held at the same same venue so it was easy as weddings go. They also had parking. And it was normal parking lot parking, not the type of parking that is done when you attend a rural wedding reception.

I have been to a couple of them where you had to park along the ditch and walk half a mile to get to the reception being held in a family member's barn. While they can be a fun, it can be some work getting back to your car when everybody is leaving and trying to drive single file down the back roads. For that I was thankful for a real parking lot.

All in all they got the rustic chic pretty well down for the most part. Even though we were celebrating at a venue I have been to a couple of different times for other events they styled it pretty well. And it was mostly rustic with a little hipster thrown in for good measure.

Which was fine by me. Coming mainly from the city the guests were also fine with it. Thought I know that my grandmother would have commented about the "oddities" and that it took some of the country charm away. It wasn't a lot. As I mentioned earlier they just took certain liberties that made the whole day a lot of fun. It also worked with their personalities, which when you ask me, is priceless when it comes to weddings.

City Living the Country Life

I am a city person but I love the country. While at the same time I hate suburbs with a passion. And so the thought of living in one is beyond disheartening.

The thought of having to drive everywhere I go is one thing that keeps us from moving back to the country to enjoy the rural lifestyle. I moved from an average-sized town with naturally nothing to do, to the city years ago. The transition from country to city was less shocking for me than the other way around would be now. For me it is crucial to be able to go places in spite of the fact that I don't have to get into my car. Some of my friends don't even have a license. For them the idea of a rustic existence is one of the worse things they can imagine. I know what it is like so I am fine with it.

The city is so liberating.

Don't get me wrong, we love being outdoors. And the peace and quiet that is given from being in a serene place. But to say that those same spaces do not exist in the city is ignorant.

Sure you can't "shoot shit" on your property. Do you need to?

There is a certain privalage that goes together with being raised in rural America and having the chance to live in the city when you are older. It gives you the chance to be around diverse people and their cultures. The chance to eat at good restaurants or attend large events is another factor that speak for city live over the rural alternatives.

Both of these options have their benefits – different strokes for different folks – though when given the chance to choose I will always chose the city.

Keep It Simple

I was a foodie for years. Actually I am still like that, but eating at home has become a more important part of my life. And for a while I tried to compete with the food that I was eating in the restaurants.

But here is the thing.

You can't.

You can do better.

In the restaurant you are eating a meal that hits the 1500 calorie mark rather than 600. Sure it tastes good, but you are eating: Butter, oil, and salt. And more butter and while we are at it a little more salt. Restaurants are not know for their health benefits unless that is their angle.

So sure you can do it, it is easy to make your home dish restaurant quality – add a stick of butter!

Of course you can't say that it boils down to just that. But it is a big part of it.

They cook with gas. I don't know about you but it takes time for my stove to get hot. Their stoves get hotter than yours by like a factor of three. That is hotter and faster. And the whole environment is made to make food the center of their attention. When they are working on one meal they can have multiple other meals on hot burners. Something comes out or off while another meal is going in the oven. I would love a gas stove (but it isn't possible), but I would have a nervous breakdown if I had to prepare that much food.

Another thing, you are paying for this space. Cooking high quality food takes space, space that they have to make prepare food in advanced. As you surely know most aspects of cooking that take time. They have the time to cook beef stock, at home you don't have the time to reduce it for days and days in progressively smaller pots.

But don't get disheartened there are things that you can do to improve the experience.

Lately I have been working my kitchen in a number of different directions. Thai on Tuesday? Sure. Welsh Wednesday? If you really want to I'm game.

Country home cooked food has been making more of a showing lately. Mainly because it tastes great when done with love and it is easy.

But you don't need to go all rustic if you want to make it a stress free kitchen. There are some techniques that make the process easier and more fun. My biggest secret is to turn my stove as hot as it can go only once all my ingredients are ready. Until then don't even bother to turn it on. My grandmother taught me that. She always made sure that all of her onions were chopped and shallots minced and all that other veggies done well before things start getting hot. If not you're in big trouble.

Another thing that will keep you sane in the kitchen is not to cook from recipes posted online. That one is pretty handy from time to time.

And keep this in mind when you are looking for recipes: In a restaurant someone else gets to do the prep work and another person does the dishes. If you make a complicated meal you get to cut everything and when it is done you get to wash every dish. The food work ratio doesn't balance out in that case.

To Garage Sell, Or Not To Garage Sell

Growing up garage sells were the hit in my family. We didn’t have a lot of money and they were a chance to go shopping on the cheap. And they were a lot of fun too. They were sort of like a scavenger hunt, and you never knew what you would find.

Now as an adult, established and with a family of my own I find that the idea of garage sells still appeal to me. Now, however I tend to host rather than attend. And I love meeting all of the different types of people that come through our addition. It is partially a chance for people to socialize in our community.

When you decide to have a garage sell you have to anticipate a little work. Sorting out your family’s belongs, what to keep, what to sell and what to give away takes time. But I like to keep the house clean and will usually have one every couple of years.

That said I generally try to only include things that are useful. And while I understand another man or woman’s trash is another man or woman’s treasure I will only include things if they are still useful.

As I said before, with my history of going garage selling as a child the desire to give back is strong.

I have a little checklist of things that I will go over mentally when I add them to the sell pile.

  1. Is it in good condition?
  2. Is it useful?
  3. Would I buy it at a garage sell?

If the answer is yes then I will go ahead and include it. I also usually do a free pile for things that don’t make the grade.

Once that is finished I will contact my friends and ask them if they would like to be included. If you can get a couple of people together you can garner more attention. Instead of one small table you can have a couple of larger ones that draw more attention.

I am lucky because my community offers a week for garage sells in the Summer. This means that more attention is paid to them around that time and you can usually get a better turn out.

If you are thinking about having a garage sell I hope that this has given you some insight into them.

Roasted Butternut Squash With Garlic and Apple Cider

This is something that I like to make around this time of year. Butternut squash is a real treat that you can make in a variety of different ways. In fact this little recipe adds a touch of yum that few of you might not even think about. It makes a great side dish or a main course for lunch due to the thick tasty nature of the soup.

Instructions: Ingredients | Directions

This recipe is going to take you twenty minutes to prepare, cook time is a little bit longer at an hour and twenty minutes, but you’ll be already to dish up this satisfying meal in less than two hours.

Ingredients

  • Medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • A large carrot, chunked
  • 1 sweet potato, cut into large chunks
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup apple cider

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celcius. Prepare a baking tray with baking paper And lay the halved squash, carrots, sweet potato and head of garlic on the tray.
  2. Sprinkle your olive oil over the vegetables and add the seasoning (rosemary, salt, and black pepper).
  3. Bake for twenty minutes then rotate the carrot and sweet potato chunks. It is ready to take out once everything is tender, usually another twenty minutes.
  4. Once the tray has cooled and you can handle the squash spoon out the flesh and place it in a bowl. Cut your carrots and sweet potatoes into small pieces. And press the roasted garlic out, it should be easy-peasy now that it has been roasted.
  5. Place a large pot on the stove and heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Now add in your add celery and onion. Season the celery mixture with nutmeg and cayenne pepper. You should sauté until both the celery and onion are tender. Now add the apple and cook it until it is hot.
  6. Add your vegetable broth and apple cider to the celery, onion, and apple and let it boil. Once it has boiled reduce heat to medium or low, and cook at a simmer for half an hour.
  7. Mix in your squash, carrot, sweet potato, and garlic to the broth.
  8. Blend the soup with an immersion blender until you have a smooth consistency and you do not see any individual pieces.