Thursday, July 12, 2012

Writing Your Own Wedding Vows

When I am helping a couple choose all of the details of their wedding, it can sometimes be overwhelming for them.  They start thinking about colors and textures and the food, oh yes, the food!  But I can tell when their heads start to swim, and they are wishing they could just take a quick flight to Vegas and be alone to say their vows.
That's when I remind them.  This day is about one thing.  The two of you, and the vows you are making to each other.  It's also usually the last thing to be done.  The night before the wedding, frantically trying to write down the feelings that you will share for a lifetime.  Bad plan! Not all couples want to write their own vows, but it has become a special way to make the day unique for each couple.  Just remember......

Vows should come, food, place cards, etc. should follow.

My rules for writing your own vows:

1. Don't write your vows for the crowd.
In other words, as you are considering what you want to tell your soon to be life partner, don't imagine     what your guests will think, if your father will be think it is inappropriate, or if someone will think it's silly or too humorous for a wedding vow.  When you look into your loved one's eyes and say these words, they should have the deepest and most heartfelt meaning to the TWO OF YOU.  No one else exists at that moment, so don't think about anyone else when you write your vows.

2. Plagiarism rules, but only if you mean it.
There have been countless love songs, quotes, and writings on the meaning of love and the promises that lovers make to one another.  Beautiful, poetic, lyrical, funny and probably better than anything we mortal humans can come up with in our heads.  If one of them absolutely touches your heart and describes exactly how you feel about the person you love, then I say GO FOR IT!  Don't use another persons  words just because they will jerk a tear, or bring a smile.  They have to have meaning to you, your lover, and the life you will create together.

3. Now is the time to be creative
Take a walk in a park, go for a drive, listen to your favorite music, or look at pictures of the two of you together.  Whatever it takes to get you in the mood, so to speak.  A quiet place to think is essential.  Don't write your vows in a bar with your buddies after a few beers, or with your best girlfriends after a few cocktails.  Consider how the two of you met, what you love to do together (keep it clean), and what kind of life and love you want to create in the future.  Romantic, funny, rhyming, emotional...whatever you feel will express your love and tell your partner how committed you are to this marriage.

4. Don't write a book
Your love may be complicated, you may have already lived a virtual lifetime together, and you may have a lot of history with each other, but your ceremony is a condensed version.  Say what you need to say in as few words as possible.  Bottom line here?  About ten sentences, phrases, or thoughts are plenty.  If you are a "straight to the point" kind of gal or guy, then use your style and get to the point in your special way.  If you are a long winded storyteller, just remember to make it a short story!

5. Don't over think it
Usually, your first draft will be your best.  After that, tweak your words, consider how it will make your partner feel, and let it go.  Do not bring it out every other day for the next 6 months and thrash over it again and again until you are so confused  that you feel like nothing you say will ever be good enough for this once in a lifetime moment!  You made this person fall in love with you....any true and heartfelt expression of your love and commitment will mean the world to them, trust me.

So, you've read the rules, now go for it!  And if you need some help, or want to use someone elses words to inspire you, guide you or to make your own (you can't get in trouble for saying someone's words, or singing someone's song, unless you make money from it), here's some inspiration.

Source: via Angela on Pinterest

If you need more inspiration, follow my "vows" board on Pinterest.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Best Ever Potato Salad Recipe + Naturally Gluten Free

Hope everyone had a great July 4th Holiday with family and friends.  We had a wonderful little break in our weather and enjoyed a cloudy day with temperatures only in the 90's. The kids swam, Promise learned to do flips in the water and is working on her diving.  Tyler is finally putting his whole head under water, such achievements! Burgers, fruit salad and my Dad's famous potato salad made the day just perfect.. 

I say famous because everyone loves it and he was always asked to bring it to any function he was invited to. After he passed away, I must have tried a dozen times to recreate it, as he never wrote down the recipe.  One day I just tried to keep it simple and just used basic ingredients that I remembered tasting in his salad.  That's it!  I was just trying to make it all complicated, and it really wasn't. That's when I discovered that most of the time, simpler is just better, and also easier to make gluten free.

He made this all summer for any occasion, and sometimes in the winter just to cheer himself up.  Now, I am from the South, so this is mustard and egg potato salad, not the bland, white, no name versions you find in most grocery stores.  And because it is made from scratch, it is naturally gluten free.  I say this because you choose your ingredients, so make them gluten free.

Also, please remember, I am NOT a food photographer!  I took these pictures as I was preparing this dish, no help, and no staging. So if they aren't very pretty, sorry, they are really just to show the steps.

I use gold potatoes in my salad just because I love the taste.  A little buttery, and they hold up well, I don't like mushy bites of potato in my salad.  I cut them up into small bite-size chunks, trying to make them pretty consistent in size, so they all boil up about the same.  Put lots of salt in the water (about a tablespoon) and let it come to a boil before adding the potatoes ( I use a strainer to lower them into the water to prevent splashing). 

As soon as they come back to a boil, lower the heat to medium and prop a lid on the pot, so the steam can still escape (to prevent a boil over).  Let them cook just until they are "fork tender".  This means that they are not mushy, but just tender enough for a fork to stay in them without falling apart.  Take them off the heat and pour immediately into a strainer.  Place under cold running water to stop the cooking process.  Let these drain well.

While the potatoes are cooking, place your eggs in a small pot with cold water covering them.  Turn the heat on high and as soon as they start to boil, start timing them.  Exactly twelve minutes later, remove them from the heat and put the pan under cold running water to stop the cooking process.  As soon as they are cool enough to touch, you can peel and chop them up.  No specifics here, if you like big chunks or small ones, just do it your way.

Chop up the onion and the celery and place in a large bowl with the potatoes, eggs, mayonnaise (I use half Miracle Whip and half Best Foods), mustard (I use French's regular, but you can add Dijon, or something more bold if you like), salt and pepper to taste. I also add pickle relish, or in this case, I added a few sweet midget pickles and some pickle juice.

Now just gently fold it all together, don't get too aggressive because you don't want to make mashed potatoes!  Taste it and adjust the salt, pepper, and relish if needed.

Find a nice bowl to put it in, and sprinkle the top with a little sweet paprika. This salad is best if prepared at least a few hours ahead and left to chill in the fridge. It gets better overnight.

That's it.  Every time I make this, I think of my Dad, and miss him so much.  He never measured anything, just tasted as he went, and knew exactly what to add and when.  Cooking like that just takes lots of time, practice, and making the same wonderful recipes over and over again. 

This list makes a big bowl of potato salad, I didn't measure it, but if I had to guess, about 8 cups.

6 medium size Yukon Gold or other potato of your choice
6 large eggs
1 cup mayonnaise of your choice
2 tablespoons mustard of your choice
3 stalks celery
1/2 sweet onion
1/4 - 1/2 cup pickle relish OR 3 small pickles with 1/4 cup juice
salt and pepper to taste