Friday, February 25
Blood Orange Marmalade (at least I hope)
Last weekend I was lured in by the deliciousness of blood oranges, and I decided to try making and canning some blood orange marmalade. I’ve done jam before, but never marmalade, and there’s not as much to can in the winter so I thought, why not?
I went with this recipe. Something I learned in the process of finding it was that the difference between marmalade and jam is that marmalade has fruit suspended in the jelly. You can make marmalade without the rind, but you’ll lose a bit of the bitter “bite” that is what most people like about it.
So, I cut up all the blood oranges, which was an awesome mess, and I boiled them in a big pot:
A close up, just because those oranges are so gorgeous:
Okay, so here’s the thing: this recipe didn’t have pectin, which is something you often add to jams to help them jell. It’s not absolutely necessary for jelling, but it really helps. So, sadly, when I get to this step and let it boil for a while, it just isn’t jelling.
I quickly read up on it and find out the following things: don’t overboil jam or marmalade, or you’ll lose all the taste; also, marmalades in particular can actually take a few days or possibly even over a week to jell while in their jars. So, I decided I had done what I could do for this batch, and starting canning.
I canned when I was a kid with my mom and my grandma, and I started again a couple years ago for fun. I like to do jam, pickles, and salsa. My husband downs baby dills like it’s going out of style so I thought maybe this would be a way to support his habit, and also, there really is nothing like a garden fresh tasting tomato in the middle of the winter.
The equipment for canning isn’t that expensive, and there are lots of good resources out there. The main thing is that you cannot alter the recipes because if you’re getting it from a reputable source it has been designed to balance properly for preservation. For lots of canning tips and recipes, I like pickyourown.org.
Back to the would-be marmalade: I can it, and results look pretty good!
It’s pretty, at least, and fingers crossed it sets up like it should in the next day or two. Otherwise I’m already thinking about using it to make some killer batches of sangria in addition to the obvious pancake and ice cream sauce.
Thursday, February 17
Five Creative Chuppah Ideas
When I started thinking about our chuppah, I turned to my and everybody else’s research best friend: Google. I wanted to get an idea of the range of chuppah designs that were out there to get ideas for myself. Post-wedding, I thought it might be nice to put together a small brainstorm of creative ideas that might be helpful for others as they think about their chuppah.
I currently design quilted chuppahs a la #3 in my Etsy store, but I am always excited to brainstorm other options so if you’d like help with these or anything else you can dream up, get in touch!
1. Lace Chuppah
A lace chuppah is a great way to incorporate a traditional wedding element into your wedding canopy. I love the simple elegance of these chuppahs, and I also love that you can either do a lot with the rest of the details (flowers, ribbons, etc.) or just leave it as is for a chic minimalist look.
You can go classic Chantilly:
(Image from House Fabric)
Or even colored lace, like this gorgeous gold:
(Image from House Fabric)
Or how about this multi-colored tulle lace with great beading:
(Image from House Fabric)
You could back the lace with another solid fabric, or just leave it as is! Here are a couple finished looks:
(Image courtesy of Mrs. Gummi Bear on Weddingbee)
2. Embroidered Chuppah
Embroidery is another great way to add unique detailed designs to your chuppah. You could do something as simple as including your name, date, wedding logo, or initials on the chuppah, like I have done in the past:
Or you could go for an all-over design on a basic white:
(Image from Osborn Fiber Studio blog)
You could also incorporate some applique onto the chuppah with the embroidery for additional texture or to include larger shapes.
3. Quilt Chuppah
If you’ve seen the rest of my website, you probably know this is what I made for my own wedding and have since sold on Etsy. In case you somehow missed those images, here’s a view of my chuppah looking up towards the sky:
I love the quilted options because they give you a chance to incorporate a wide variety of color, pattern, and texture to your wedding decor. If you’re outside or inside with bright lights, you almost get this stained glass effect that is really pretty. Quilted chuppahs are also a great way to include pieces of family heirlooms, as I did in my chuppah for Alan and Rebecca.
4. Green Eco-Friendly Chuppah
A lot of us are interested in green, sustainable weddings, so why not think about these priorities in your chuppah?
To make an earth-friendly chuppah, you can use organic and vintage fabrics in addition to bamboo or reclaimed wood. For vintage fabrics, ask around in your family, visit flea markets, or shop online at stores like Sharon’s Antiques or on Etsy. I have used vintage fabrics in my couples’ chuppahs before, and in addition to being earth-friendly, it also makes your chuppah even more unique.
Organic cotton fabric is widely available at most craft and sewing stores. There are some companies making some really fun, beautiful prints like these:
(Image from Cloud 9 Fabrics, available at Purl Soho)
(Image from Birch Fabric, available at Purl Soho)
(Image from Birch Fabrics, available at Purl Soho)
You could either use these fabrics in a quilt design or buy in a large enough quantity to use one for the whole chuppah cover. For the poles, you could utilize bamboo (available at any gardening store) or try for reclaimed wood.
5. Origami Crane Chuppah
This idea comes from two of the most creative people I know, our friends Adam and Jenna, who got married last September a week after us. They made an abstract chuppah by stringing together hundreds of origami paper cranes, a symbol that was used throughout their wedding. It was beautiful, colorful, totally unexpected, and I loved it. Of course, this is a less traditional chuppah so if you have strict requirements from a rabbi it might not work, but it is a stunning and special idea. This could also be combined with a basic white or solid colored chuppah, and in that case the cranes would be the decoration.
Adam and Jenna’s awesome crane chuppah:
(Both images from Kristin Studio Picture Everything wedding photography)
That’s the round up! Hope it’s been fun and given you some new ideas to think about. Happy chuppah-ing!
Wednesday, February 16
Mazel tov! Now go make babies.Rabbi as our ceremony ended, overheard by one of our chuppah holders (one of the benefits of having the best seat in the house)
DIY Chuppah Poles: How to Assemble a Chuppah, Part II
In Part II of this post, I’m covering putting together a chuppah that is stationary (no chuppah holders). There are a lot of descriptions of different methods for this out there on the internets, and I am going to attempt to do a summary based on these and my own experience.
FLOWER POT METHOD
The first option is to proceed following the steps from Part I. Pick your poles, figure out how to attach chuppah to aforementioned poles.
Then, buy four reasonably sized flower pots, like something in the 16-18” range or bigger. You can again find these at a Home Depot or Lowes. You could go very basic like this:
(links to Home Depot with picture source is available by clicking each picture)
Or colorful like this:
Or more ornate with something like this:
The next step is to buy four PVC pipes that are each several inches taller than the flower pot and fit your [dowels, curtain rods, whatever you are using for poles] very snugly.
Now, you need to plug any holes in the bottom of your pots with duck tape. Then you will need to hold your PVC piping in the center of the pot sticking straight up and either dump in dirt or pour cement about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way up the pot.
Cement sounds scary to people like me who don’t usually use it, but it’s going to be more secure than dirt and there are a lot of options out there (like Quikrete). You can chat up whatever sales associate is in your store to recommend a brand and help you size up your pots to figure out how much you will need. Make sure that you have time to let the cement fully dry, probably overnight at least.
The next day (or same day if you’re just using straight dirt), do a test run with your poles to make sure they fit into the piping well and that the pot and pvc piping are holding them up without any problems.
Then it’s off to the races with how you can decorate the rest!
You could use a combination of branches, vines, and flowers like this awesome cherry blossom chuppah:
Some people like to use flowers or paper decorations to cover the piping and make the pots look nice:
(via Weddingbee classifieds, poles/pots still available for sale in CA!)
You could grow ivy or other flowers in dirt that you put above the concrete in the pot:
(via Do It Yourself Weddings, that has an excellent tutorial that is one of the sources for this post)
You could drape fabric or tulle around the poles and use that to cover up the pots, or combine that with plants or decorations right in front of the pots as in this one:
So those are some of the options for the “flower pot method,” which will allow you to choose your poles and use any kind of piece of fabric or quilt as the top of your chuppah.
Of course, from there, it can also get more complicated. I’m going to include links below to a few tutorials for other options that involve a bit more heavy construction or structure.
PATIO UMBRELLA STAND METHOD
Images and tutorial can be found here.
Basic idea: using patio umbrella stand bases (duh), you screw on wooden poles so that the umbrella stands hold them up. She also includes sewing instructions for the lovely curtain effect going on in the image.
Pros: Simple, elegant, classy, not going anywhere for sure!
Cons: Probably difficult to transport, requires familiarity with a sewing machine.
GARDEN LATTICE TRELLIS METHOD
Image and tutorial can be found here.
General idea: you build a wooden structure using a garden trellis as a ceiling and then use a stable gun to attach fabric and other decorations.
Pros: Sturdy, easy to attach whatever decoration you want all the way around.
Cons: Whatever’s on the top fabric isn’t really the star of the show in this version since you’ll mostly see the trellis, also once this thing is built I’m not sure it would fit in a vehicle (maybe a truck?).
Image and tutorial can be found here.
General idea: buy a gazebo, dismantle fabric that comes with gazebo and replace with a fabric covering that you create.
Pros: Tent-like top instead of flat, fairly large, built over existing chuppah so not as much in the way of construction requirements.
Cons: I would imagine fairly difficult to maneuver, tricky to get all the fabric in the right place and requires sewing knowledge.
And that concludes my round up of DIY Chuppah assembly. Hope it’s been helpful.
Monday, February 14
DIY Chuppah Poles: How to Assemble a Chuppah, Part I
I make chuppahs, but I don’t include poles or assembly due to the unnecessary shipping costs and hassle that would ensue, and also because honestly, it’s not that hard. Neither my husband nor I have any kind of background in construction or carpentry or anything in particular involving power tools, and we figured it out fairly easily and inexpensively with one trip to Home Depot.
In Part I, I’m going to walk through how to assemble a chuppah assuming you will have people holding it.
Here’s the process:
WOODEN POLE METHOD (sounds so glamorous, no?):
This was exactly the method we used for our chuppah.
First, go to a Home Depot or something similar. You are looking for wooden dowels, about 1-2” in diameter, kind of like this, but you will need to get them cut to order or they will be too short:
(Image sources are all available by clicking them to follow the link to Home Depot).
We cut ours to 8’. This worked out really well to give us enough space under the chuppah while also allowing the chuppah holders to rest the poles on the ground. I have heard of weddings where the holders literally support the weight of the chuppah by holding poles off the ground for the whole ceremony, but that sounds pretty hard on the poor holders!
For total novices, you should know that at a place like Home Depot you can either cut it yourself with a saw or ask someone there to cut it for you. I know that seems super basic to those who know but we were total newbies at this!
Next, you want to get sandpaper and hooks. Sandpaper is nice to get rid of any splinters on the wood that might hurt you or the holders.
Our screws were similar to these 3/4” screws:
Nothing too fancy or complicated, but good enough to get the job done.
Finally, go home, sand the poles like crazy, and screw the hooks onto the top of the pole. Technically, chuppahs are supposed to be attached from the top of the pole instead of the side, and that works out well because then you’re putting the screw onto a flat top rather than a curved side of the pole.
Additional options to spruce up this method could include finishing the wood or painting it a fun color. We thought about this, but since our setting was fairly rustic and natural we decided to leave the pole just as is.
To attach the chuppah to the pole you need to have a loop of some kind on your chuppah, or at least a string from a corner. On the chuppahs I make, I sew little loops into each corner for easy attachment. Then you simply put the loop or string around the hook before the ceremony, and you’re all set!
The chuppah poles are a little cumbersome but easy enough to transport to and from the ceremony site, as evidenced by my sister’s boyfriend Jeff, channeling his inner Paul Bunyan:
Here’s the final product in action at our wedding:
Easy, affordable, functional. Done.
NON-WOODEN POLE METHOD:
There are certainly other options if you don’t want to use a wooden dowel. The most popular option that I know about is using curtain rods, maybe something like this depending on your style:
This type is good because as a “telescoping” variety you can easily adjust the height, and there’s also an obvious place for the loop or string or ribbon to attach at the top.
You can also go crazy and get a basic rod and then buy your own finials (decorative attachments for the top of the rod) for even more possibilities.
For example, say you’re getting married on Nantucket and you want to work the pineapple theme. You could rock these guys for a Nantucket chuppah:
Probably for many of these options, you would want to tie your chuppah to the top of the poles rather than have a loop that went over the top lest the chuppah slide all the way down to the bottom of the pole.
That concludes Part I! In Part II, I’ll cover some options for diy-ing a stationary chuppah.
Local Ice Cream from Heaven
This is pretty cool. My husband told me to keep an eye out for a Valentine’s Day delivery, and my first thought was flowers. I do love me some pretty flowers, but imagine my surprise when I am hand delivered a box filled with these babies:
In case you can’t see it too clearly, these are pints of salted caramel and Cake Man Raven red velvet cake ice cream. Yep, you read that right. CAKE MAN RAVEN can go into ice cream. Any afficionado of red velvet and ice cream would know that putting the two together is going to yield something heavenly. And the smoky caramel with sea salt….mmmmm.
Pretty much the best Valentine’s Day gift ever! Big thanks to Kate for the tip off.
New Yorkers can get in on this awesome stuff by purchasing either a gift or a subscription from Milkmade. They hand deliver to your door, how cool is that? Part of the idea is to recreate the close-to-the-source experience of an old fashioned milkman delivering your goods, or in my case, a stylishly dressed milkmadelady.
I was curious about the company, so I stumbled onto the video below. Local business, locally-sourced product, small-scale, creative, delicious, female-owned. I dig. Plus, I like making ice cream at home, and this is some good inspiration to get creative with the flavors!
Sunday, February 13
Chuppah for Rebecca and Alan: Eldridge Street Synagogue
I recently completed a custom chuppah quilt for Rebecca and Alan, who are getting married at the beautiful Eldridge Street Synagogue on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I was really excited to work with Rebecca and Alan because first of all, they are such a cute couple and so friendly, and second of all, their venue is killer.
Opened in 1887, the synagogue was built as a center of worship for the incredibly vibrant Jewish community that lived in the neighborhood. The architecture and decor combines a number of cultural and historic influences ranging from Gothic, Moorish, Romanesque and of course, Jewish. At the time that it opened it served a diverse socioeconomic group of Jews from across Eastern Europe. This was the first time that something like this had happened - usually, people would worship at smaller neighborhood synagogues that would include members of a specific socioeconomic group or perhaps province. After years of decline, the synagogue underwent a major restoration process from 1991-2007, and today it is a museum in addition to a functioning synagogue.
Just look at the outer facade. Aside from the serious initial WOW factor, I was also immediately drawn to the Moorish design of the windows and doors. Looks like something straight out of southern Spain.
And the rich, ornate decoration on the inside, including breathtaking stained glass windows:
I love the gold design on the walls contrasted with the dark wood and deep red of the window detail and the carpeting:
All pictures are courtesy of the excellent slideshow on the museum’s website.
When I work with a couple on a chuppah, there are several things that I like to know. First and foremost, I love to learn about the couple: their interests, how they met, what they like to do for fun, etc. I then want to know all about the wedding. It’s important in the creation of a chuppah that it is contextual, not only to the couple’s lives and their marriage but also to the venue, decor, and general style of the wedding.
When Alan and Rebecca initially approached me, they expressed an interest in creating a chuppah reflective of an intersection of cultures. They both enjoy traveling, having recently spent time in India, and they felt that the theme would be a good fit for the eclectic history of the synagogue and the Lower East Side.
You had me at hello!
We then worked to find fabrics that reflected this general theme and weave them together in the chuppah with fabrics representing Rebecca and Alan’s lives and families. We also worked to incorporate a subtle red, white, and blue theme as a nod to their Presidents’ weekend wedding and the synagogue’s Jewish American heritage.
Here is the final chuppah result:
And a close up, followed by an explanation of several key fabrics within the chuppah:
1. This fabric came from a shirt that was part of Alan’s father’s work uniform that he used to wear everyday. I cut a piece out of the back of the shirt, and aside from the very special meaning, having a strong navy blue added some nice depth to the overall chuppah.
2. These silks came from sari fabrics Rebecca and Alan’s travels to India. Note to self: find excuse to go to India and wear a sari STAT.
3. I had been looking for the perfect gold fabric to riff off of the elegant gold design throughout the inside of the synagogue, and Rebecca and Alan actually came across this vintage fabric at a Chelsea flea market!
4. So special: these cross-stitched designs came from napkins belonging to Rebecca’s grandmother.
5. My eternal fabric crush: Liberty of London with a great detailed flower print.
6. This deep red, blue and gold paisley print reminded me of the red/gold contrast I noted above with the picture of the ark. It also went so nicely with the cross-stitched paisleys in Rebecca’s grandma’s napkins.
7. Something I think is great to do in a quilt if at all possible: incorporate fabric from a previous quilt. I like the sense that quilts connect us all, and in this case, these fabrics went straight from my wedding chuppah to Rebecca and Alan’s.
To finish the chuppah, I embroidered Rebecca and Alan’s initials on the backside of the quilt in the style of their wedding logo, along with their wedding date:
I can’t wait to see the chuppah in action on their wedding day inside the synagogue, and with Rebecca and Alan’s permission, I will definitely post pictures to this blog. Thank you to Rebecca and Alan for letting me be a part of your wedding day, and best wishes for a wonderful marriage!
Thursday, February 10
Welcome to the Brooklyn Nouveau blog. More to come….