Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What I Wore: Wedding Edition

Finally I can share details of the dress that I worked on for so long! My wedding dress was a cap sleeve, ivory lace, round neck, sheath gown with a sash - to use all the wedding terminology... The store didn´t have my size, so it had to be taken in a little, which I decided to do myself. This was a lot harder than I had thought, mainly because I wanted it to be impeccable. In the end I settled for about 99% satisfaction, and with only a week left before the wedding there wasn´t really anything else to do about it. I loved wearing the dress, it was light and airy and comfortable, not heavy and itchy like many of the other wedding gowns I tried on.

Another challenge was that the fabric was very thin, so I had to add extra lining. I found the perfect silk slip to go underneath, and when everything else was done, I basted it to the dress and plan to remove it so I can reuse it for something else later. I also changed the back of the dress to make a V-neck instead of a round collar, added lace to make tiny cap sleeves, and a ribbon sash around the waist. More on the dress process here. 

I loved my vintage accessories. Early on I knew I wanted to wear the bracelet my grandma gave me. I also wanted to have something borrowed, and was lucky I got to choose between several vintage pairs of earrings from Mike's family. I settled for a pair of white rhinestone clip-ons from the 1950s, but there were some other really pretty ones too.

I was very happy I had a cardigan. Despite the sunny weather, Ålesund was quite windy on June 28th, and because of the sun we had to resort to pictures in the shade. I had first scoured Etsy for hours to find the perfect, fun and vintage cardigan. I found it, ordered it... but it never arrived! So a week before the wedding I went to the closest mall, found a very plain peach cardigan and settled with that decision. In addition, for parts of the photo shoot I was actually wearing long-johns! You can't see it, but it's there.

Matching shoes and nail polish with my maid of honor was the closest I got to a cohesive bridal party look. (Though I did make sure the best man had a neutral colored tie.) But since we were all wearing flowers I think that settled the matter if anyone was in doubt. 

I wore the veil for the ceremony and some pictures, but decided to leave it off for the rest of the day. To be honest, a veil is kind of in the way, especially if there is any wind or lots of hugging involved. The cap and lace matched my ivory gown, but the tulle itself was a very different shade of white. It is more noticeable in the pictures than I thought it would be, but that´s not a big deal.

My wedding garb was really a DIY and budget effort. In total, the outfit cost me around 4000 kr, and a little more than half of that was for the dress and everything I needed for alterations. An added bonus is that with some minor updates, everything but the veil can be used again. Or is there any other occasion than your own wedding that calls for a juliet cap veil?? It would be sweet to use it again.

Dress: A Dolce & Gabbana knock-off from a small dress shop in Tallinn, Estonia
Slip: Else Maries Undertøyssalong, Skien
Veil: Vintage, via Adorned in Grace
Cardigan: Cubus
Red sandals: Esprit
White pumps: Vintage (already owned)
Bracelet: Inherited from my grandma
Earrings: Something borrowed - they were Mike's great-grandmothers
Handkerchief: Inherited. Also Mike's great-grandmothers
Hair and makeup: Anniken at Fri Frisør
Flowers: Blomsterstua Ålesund

Photos: Irene Lovund

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Our traditional and personal wedding ceremony

I could never picture getting married anywhere but in a church. I had only been in Skodje church once, for one of my cousins confirmations. But when we decided to have our reception at Nedreskodje Gard, the choice was easy. The church is a 10 minute stroll away from the barn, it is quite small, and it looks really pretty too.

Here is a peak into our wedding ceremony, complete with soundtrack:

This sounds cheesy, but the moment the church doors opened and I started walking towards Mike must be the most emotional I have ever experienced. Seeing him for a couple of hours for photos earlier in the day didn´t take anything away from making it special. I was smiling and crying, and just so incredibly happy! I was not very nervous, but unusually emotional during the whole service - and grateful to have a handkerchief at hand.

Our processional was "Bruremarsj" by Jan Magne Førde. I have always loved this song, and the fact that the composer is from my hometown makes it even better. My dear friend Erika joined the organ player for this song, as well as for the hymns we sang.

We had readings by a couple of our sisters from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and Colossians 3:12-19, and a paragraph on marriage and being in love from "Mere Christianity" by C.S Lewis. All our parents were also involved in a prayer of blessing.

We had been wearing our rings during the whole engagement and had planned to take them off before the ceremony and give them to my dad who was our officiant. As I sit there in church I see Mike carefully take his ring off and hand it to his best man, and I realize I am still wearing mine too! Just a few minutes later it was time to say our "Yes", and the next thing up was the ring ceremony, so we remembered just in time. It all happened very fast, and suddenly we were married!

During the speech we held hands and smiled. It was slightly surreal to think that we were married for real,  that this was not another rehearsal. I must admit I can not remember much of what was said, though I thought it was great in the moment. Luckily it is all recorded on video (a last minute decision), and if we are lucky I might be able to get a hold of the manuscript too. 

The big surprise of the day came at the end of our ceremony. My dad walked out from behind the altar, my cousin Sondre started to play the guitar, and suddenly my dad burst into song! He had seen an untraditional blessing on youtube and decided he wanted to sing it for us. Everyone was so surprised, and there was a LOT of laughter.

Finally, we walked down the aisle as man and wife, while "Wedding Day at Troldhaugen" by Edvard Grieg was played. We hugged everyone, kissed on the stairs and since the skies were bright blue we walked to our reception and into marriage serenaded by a pretty violinist.

All pictures by the talented Irene Lovund Photography

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wedding cake topper and garland DIY

In addition to our "book themed" decor, I had two tiny little DIY projects that were cheap, quick and basically took up no room in my suitcase - perfect for a destination wedding.

Number 1: A tiny "Happy Day" banner behind our sweetheart table. 
And as you can see, it truly was a happy day!

Number 2: "Mr & Mrs Beaudreau" cake topper on our almond ring cake. 

How I did it:
Both of the projects are based on this free garland and flower download from Oh Happy Day. It is actually a Mother´s Day kit, but if you omit the word "mother", it will only say "Happy Day", and you can use it for anything! Simply cut out the letters and flowers you want, and attach it to string or ribbon with tape on the back.

For the cake topper I also used a free banner template from I can't find this exact one, but there are tons of free vector images you can download and edit yourself. I used Indesign to add our names on the ribbon, and then printed it on card stock. Assembling the cake topper requires wooden grilling sticks, tape, and a couple of minutes of your time. This was done on site to make sure it wasn't damaged during transportation.

Total cost: 3 kr/50 cents for printing. Plus some string and wooden grilling sticks I already had.
How is that for budget wedding decor?

Photography: The nice action shots are by Michaela Nichole Photography, the other one is taken with my phone in my kitchen.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Polar bread/Polarbrød

This fall has really had that "back to school"- feeling. I have started a new job at a school, and my husband is taking language classes four days a week. We used to eat lunch at work, but now we have to provide our own, so I have been baking on Sundays to fill our lunch boxes for the rest of the week.

Since Mike isn't too excited about bread, I have made a few batches of Crackerbread/Knekkebrød, but when I found a recipe for Polarbrød I knew I had to try it. He first tried Polarbrød some months back, and it was love at first bite. These are a healthier version of the one you can buy in the stores, not quite as soft and cake-like, but very tasty, and a lot cheaper as well. The recipe was found on Trines Matblogg.


150 g oats, finely ground or oat flour
500 g whole grain flour (spelt, wheat or other)
300 g fine wheat flour
15 g fresh yeast or 6 grams dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4,5 dl milk
2 dl water
1 dl oil, for example sunflower oil

- First, make your own oat flour by grinding small amounts of oats with a hand mixer or food processor. You can buy oat flour as well, but this a quick and easy way to make your own.
- Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add the liquid with a temperature of about 25 C.
- If you have a standing mixer, mix everything on slow speed and let the machine knead thoroughly on medium speed for 10 minutes. You can also knead the dough by hand and get a little exercise...
- Let the dough rise to double size, for about 1 hour.

- Cut the dough in 24 pieces. I used a scale the make sure they were even, about 70 grams each.
- Use a rolling pin to make round breads about 1/2 cm thick and 10-11 cm across.

- Poke holes with for example a chop stick to avoid the breads from puffing up during cooking.
- Let the bread rise for another 10 minutes.
- Bake for about 9 minutes on 225 C

These little guys thaw quickly (in about half an hour) so it is best to store them in the freezer and get them out when you need them. If you need them for lunch they will definitely be ready if you get them out in the morning. You can also thaw/reheat them in a bread toaster or in the oven.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Kraft wedding programs

Yesterday I somehow ended up on Google+, and while I was there, I changed some picture settings. Today I had a comment on an old blog post saying the pictures were missing. At first I thought I might have reached my storage limit (is there such a thing on blogger?), but quickly realized what had happened. Reversing that was harder than I would have thought, but about an hour of googling and trial and error, all my pictures are back where they were. Lesson of the day: Keep your Google+/Blogger photo albums public, and DO NOT delete any of the pictures. 

After this warning, back to some wedding chatter. There really isn't any plan of order for the wedding posts, they just happen, in case you were a little confused by my blogging lately.

Making the wedding programs myself was a given: I have experience with layout and design from work, and it was a great way to save money. Since we and our guests speak two different languages, I thought it would be helpful with pretty detailed programs, which is actually very common in Norway anyways.

First: Ceremony programs

These were pretty straightforward once we had decided on what to include in the ceremony. The order of the service and text for the hymns were all on the inside. On the front we used the illustration from our invitation, and the names of the all people involved in the ceremony were on the back. This was printed on medium heavy kraft paper in black and white. I made separate English and Norwegian copies, and since it was a small wedding, our lovely greeters knew who needed which one.

Secondly: Programs for the party

This project was a little more complicated. The contents of this booklet included the program and menu for the evening, some local barn history (!), a short presentation of each guest, fun facts about American and Norwegian wedding traditions, and our guest book. Writing these pages took a while, but I enjoyed it! I didn't get to ask our guests if they liked it/found it helpful/entertaining, but I know my dad couldn't stop reading it the day we were setting tables...

The cover is printed on heavy kraft paper and the contents is normal white printer paper, to save some money and increase readability. Everything was stapled together, and each folder got a piece of washi tape on the front where the guest name was written. Which meant no need for place cards! One of the deciding factors for assigned seating was in fact these programs, as I couldn't figure out another way to get each guest a program in their own language.

I just love mail, and even before we were engaged I pinned a postcard guestbook. I started collecting vintage postcards, but for the longest time had no idea how to actually use them. The solution I ended up with was to tape a postcard in each wedding program, hoping guests would write a greeting during/after dinner. It was never explained except in written form in the program, which might be why only about a quarter of the guests used it. So now I have a stash of amazing postcards waiting to be used, and that is no bad thing either.

Did you/would you have programs for your wedding?

Kraft paper: Green Earth Supplies
Tape: WeXStore
Vintage postcards: Memory Saver and Hens Feathers on Etsy, and second hand stores here in Norway and the States
Fonts: Animatic and Channel

Photography: The nice action shots are by Michaela Nichole Photography, the others are taken with my phone in my kitchen.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Life and reading

July was a month of reading, but I can not say the same about August.  Starting a new job means new routines, and some days it can be enough to figure out dinner when I come home for the night. Trying to get into "War and Peace" might not be the best way of relaxing either, but I hope to get there one day.

On the other hand, I have actually read a lot in the Bible, starting on all the Gospels in the beginning of the month. The reading list here on my blog can be deceiving, as it lists when I finish a book, which can sometimes take a day, other times months. (I started on Psalms last November and completed in July.) My reading plan is chronological down to the verse, so I've been jumping back and forth between Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Some days that results in reading the same story or parable two to three times, and while it can feel a little tedious, I think God has gotten the chance to really underline what I needed for a day! Chronological Bible reading is only getting better as I go. Right now it is combined with "The Return of the Prodigal Son" by Henri Nouwen, and the two make a great pair.

The plot is thickening in the Gospels now. Pharisees and teachers of the law are planning to kill Jesus and there is a lot of tension and suspense. The disciples are noticing it too (Mark 10:32), but seem to have no clue that Jesus death is both inevitable and necessary. I look forward to reading the letters in a few weeks, when their perspective literally has a new dimension! 

Art: "Return of the Prodigal Son" by Rembrandt

Friday, August 29, 2014

Our American-Norwegian wedding reception


Welcome to our wedding! 

We can offer Norwegian farmers food and Southern Sweet tea.

Touching speeches from our dear ones. 

Quality coffee by Precious Beans Roasters.

(We are serious about cakes around here.)

Impersonations. Funny ones.

Drama by my childhood´s fantasy friends Hoggen, Birken and Agnes Kyrkjen.

So much laughter (and maybe a few happy tears) with the most amazing people.

In other words: The perfect wedding!

Photos: Sigve Ferstad

Monday, August 25, 2014

Make your own taco seasoning

If you are a little bit like me: skeptical to ridiculous long ingredient lists, and with an interest for saving money, this recipe might be perfect for you. Buying taco seasoning is not a huge expense, but for years I have been making my own, and I like to think I am saving money. It also feels good to know exactly what goes in my dinner. The recipe is super easy, and all the special equipment you need is a mortar and pestle.


This makes a little bit more than a normal spice jar you get in the store here in Norway.

4 Cloves (nellikspiker)
4 tsp Coriander seed (korianderfrø)
20 Pepper corn (pepperkorn)
4 tsp Cumin seed (spisskummenfrø)

3 tsp Paprika spice, ground
2 tsp Chili powder (or more or less according to your taste)
2 tsp Salt

First, roast the whole spices in a hot and dry frying pan. This will bring out the flavors. If you dont have whole spices, ground ones will do as well. For this batch I used ground cumin - actually, I might never have used whole cumin...
Grind the whole spices with a mortar and pestle.
Mix all the spices and transfer to a glass jar for storage.

You will probably need much less of this spice mix compared to the packets you buy in the store. I sprinkle some over the meat when cooking, so my advice is to start with a little and taste as you go.

PS. Spice and Herb illustration by Gayana 


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