Archive for tag: wedding

Bread making

One of the great wedding gifts from my family was a Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  (Thanks again, Dad!  Thanks again, Tracy!)  We had been hoping that it was be making all sorts of delicious baked goodies for us, but when we looked in the box, we discovered it was just sitting idle.  So we decided to try bread making using the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  Here's a video of our inaugural use of the mixer about two weeks ago.

The kitchenaid at work

We've since made two batches of the master recipe from the book, which are big enough to make about four loaves of bread depending on the type.

After the dough was done in the mixer, it went into our bucket for it's initial rise:

In the bucket

After the two-hour rise, it has approximately doubled in volume:


The dough goes in the fridge and the next day you can start making bread (hence the five minutes a day).  Here's our first loaf resting on the peel:

On the peel

The top is now sliced and it is ready to go in the oven:

Sliced and ready to bake

Happily waiting for fresh bread…

Mmm... bread...

Here's our first loaf.  A little too brown, but still very tasty.

It worked! Perfect crumb

Our second attempt was a little more done to my liking:

Getting better all the time

Using this recipe, in the last two weeks we've also made pizza on the grill, baked a loaf of sandwich bread, made baguettes, and tonight we made pita to go with dinner.  All very tasty.  We are no longer slaves to the artisan bread industrial complex!

The wedding photo booth – part two

As promised, this is my follow-up post on our DIY wedding photo booth.  I'll probably do one more where I go into more detail about the code, but this will cover the integration of the pieces, starting with the software.

As mentioned before, I wrote a custom application to run on my netbook.  Basically, I wanted it to be very easy for everyone to use, so I basically limited the interface to "Press a key to continue" kinds of interactions.  If you watch the video, you can see a complete demo I recorded tonight.

Photo booth application demo

Of course, one of the critical components was going to be the camera.  Photo booths are not known for great photography, so we didn't need something too high-end, but we did want decent images.  Since I could use my discount at the company store, I got the MS LifeCam Cinema.  In hindsight, I should have gone with the LifeCam Studio since it can be mounted on a tripod, but the Cinema worked well enough.

I wrote the software so that it would print out the guest's photos on a 4x6 photo paper when they were done.  To do that, we needed a decent photo printer.  After a little bit of research, we settled on the Canon PIXMA MG5220.  Of course, immediately after I bought it, I started seeing them for less than I paid, but that's just life, I suppose.  In any case, we couldn't have been happier with how it worked out.  It prints great photos and it holds enough paper that it didn't have to be constantly reloaded throughout the night.

Lighting was another problem to solve.  We weren't sure what the light levels were going to be like at the hall, so we needed to find some way to ensure enough light in our booth.  It took a while, but we finally found some clip-on lights at Target that would do the job.

Lighting in the booth

They look pretty bright here, but we used low wattage bulbs so we wouldn't blind our guests as they were having their pictures taken.  As you can see, the netbook is setup on a small table in the booth.  The printer sat on a table outside the booth so a new guest could get their picture taken while the previous guest waited for their prints.

Thanks again to Amber's mom, we also covered some of the exposed PVC pipe with sleeves so they would look better in the photos.  You can see them better in this picture:


We didn't get a really good shot of the booth completely assembled at the wedding, but here's the best one so far:

The booth at the wedding

And of course, my favorite picture:

Amber and me post ceremony

Everything turned out really well, but of course if we had it to do again, I'd probably make some changes.  The main thing would have to be the color of the fabric.  It was just a little too dark, which made the lighting that much more difficult.

It was a fun project and everyone seemed to really enjoy it at the wedding.  There were 175 sets taken all told, including retakes.  Some of these strained the capacity of the booth, but they turned out great.



We couldn't have done it without help from Amber's mom, Vicky, and our good friend Teri who kept an eye on the booth throughout the night to make sure it ran smoothly.  Thanks again!

The wedding photo booth – part one

It's been more than a month since the wedding, but Amber and I are still frequently reminiscing about how beautiful and great everything turned out and how much fun we (and hopefully our guests) had.  There is so much to share that I'm sure I'll do at least a couple more posts, but tonight I'm going to talk about something we made for the reception that I'm particularly proud of: our wedding photo booth.

First, a little back story: Amber and I have a fondness for photo booths.  I'm not sure how it started, but when we encounter a photo booth, more often than not, we get even more sappy than usual and get some pictures.  They aren't always the best pictures, but they are fun.

france seaworld beach engagement photo booth

save the dateAs you can see, we even used one for our save the date cards.  We enjoy them so much that we thought it would be great to have one at our wedding.  Amber did some research (she did most of the leg work for vendors) and found that it would be pretty expensive to rent one, so I decided to take it on as a DIY project.

I have a netbook that I received as a bonus from work that I figured could be used to run the software.  For printing the pictures, I needed to find a decent photo printer - the printer I had wasn't up for the task.  A good webcam was the only other hardware that would be required.  Of course there was the matter of constructing the booth itself, but I figured we could build a simple frame of some sort and cover it with drapes.  I figured that I could probably do it all (given the components that I had on hand) for about $250.

Part of the reason I wanted to do the project was to give myself a coding project to work on.  I'll do another post going into specifics on this part, but I ended up building a Silverlight application to simplify the webcam integration and to do some animations in the UI without too much effort.  I spent many hours coding and testing the application so that it was relatively easy to use for the most novice computer users among our guests.  I have many pictures like this from these sessions:


And a few like this:

more fun testing

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, after all.

The next step was to plan and build the booth.  It needed to be portable and quick and easy to setup.  I figured that I could do construct a frame with PCV pipe pretty easily.  I thought about it and decided that I should probably prototype with some stuff around the house, just to get my mind going on how it would go together.  After some tinkering and a quick trip to the office supply, this is what I came up with:


As you can see, I constructed my prototype from disposable pen tubes and paperclips.  I misread the number of pens in the package I bought, so I couldn't complete the prototype, but it allowed me to visualize how things would go together and the couplings I would need to buy.  I tried to find these at home depot, but they only carried the standard plumbing connections, elbows and tees, but not the three-way connections for the corners or the four-way connections for the middle back.  Fortunately, Amber in her research found an article by someone that had done something similar (silly me, I didn't look at it until after I did my prototype) that referenced a site where you could mail order the joints I needed.

The next step was to purchase the PVC and somehow get it home and cut.  For those of you who haven't purchased PVC pipe, it is sold in ten foot sections.  Given the length of the pipe and the number of pieces I would need to cut it into, I figured I'd need a friend with power tools and a truck.  While I waited for one of my friends with such equipment at their disposal, I happened to talk to my dad about the project and he suggested that PVC is really quick to cut with just a hacksaw and I could do it in the parking lot if necessary to fit it in the car.

Things were already behind schedule and I was eager to get this part done, so I figured what the hell, and Amber and I went to Home Depot to give it a shot.  We purchased our PVC and were surprised to find that with my back seats folded down, we could fit the ten foot PVC pipe in my two-door Honda Accord!  They went all the way from the back of the car into the passenger seat and on the dash, but all nine pieces fit.

Once we got it home, I started cutting.  Fortunately, my dad was right and the hacksaw made very quick work of the PVC.  I marked the pipe with painter's tape and scored the pipe with a file so I'd get relatively straight cuts. Marking PVC

Scoring Cutting

Initially, I planned on having every section of pipe be uniform and planned on cutting four foot sections, essentially stacking one cube on top of another with a shared edge, but once I started putting things together, it became clear that an eight-foot tall booth was going to be too much.

Construction Construction

Fortunately, since I was cutting two four-foot sections out of the ten foot pipe, I had two foot left over from each pipe.  So the top section became two foot tall, for an overall height of six foot.  Much more manageable.


The next task was covering the booth.  I'd planned on using curtains, but unfortunately, we couldn't find ones that were reasonably inexpensive, that were reasonably opaque and would fit.  After several trips to stores looking for some or an alternative like sheets, we gave in and went to a fabric store to see what we could find.  After dealing with a few surly and non-helpful employees, we found just enough fabric on clearance that met our criteria.  Amber's mom was instrumental for this part, as we don't own a sewing machine and I haven't operated one since junior high.  It turns out that she is a master.  We took the frame down to Maple Valley, and she knocked out the panels in no time flat.


We really couldn't have done it without her help.  We kept one of the curtains we tried as the door.  Here's the finished booth.


This post has obviously turned into a novel, so I'm going to stop here for tonight.  In the next part, I'll write about integrating the components.  In the meantime, here's one last picture: Amber and me in the finished booth at the reception.It worked!

Farewell to the Dominican Republic

Heading on our excursionFor those of you who were wondering, tropical storm Emily was pretty much a non-event for us, although it certainly caused problems in other areas of the Dominican Republic.  We were even able to get in our snorkeling excursion Thursday, even though it was kind of a gray day.

After navigating a little language challenge trying to figure out if we were really getting on the right bus, we headed out for the one and only time we actually left the resort during our stay.  We drove the same road we took from the airport to a place called Dolphin Explorer.

The first part of the Dolphin Explorer experience was seeing the tigers and posing with a parrot for a picture or two.  Because when you think marine life, you naturally think that tigers and parrots are going to be a part of the experience.Tiger!


Pretty girl. And the parot is kind of cute too.

Then they had us watch a "safety" video.  Safety first. Or at least second or third.

You can't see them, but to the left and right of our little area are two other partitions where they have videos blaring in other languages.  The overall result is that no one can actually understand any of the videos.  We obviously lived to tell the tale, so I guess it worked anyway.

Soon enough, we were swimming with some actual marine life.Sea lions are cool.


The ray.

After frolicking with the Sea Lions and Rays for a bit, we loaded up on a boat and headed out to snorkel.  As you can see, they had us wearing life vests the whole time we were in deep water, but I don't really think it was necessary.  The water there is so salty, it's hard not to float on the surface.  I might feel differently if I wasn't wearing one at the time, but they seemed to get in the way a little.

Thanks to our great friends Anne and Kevin, we had a dry bag to put a camera in, so we have some pictures and video from the water.  When people realized that it was Amber's iPhone in the bag (our cameras didn't quite fit), we got quizzical looks and queries in several languages asking (we think) whether we were sure that we wanted to risk such a valuable piece of technology.  We had tested it in the pool, but it was still a little worrisome to take it in the water.  Fortunately, it worked perfectly.


Snorkeling Who you lookin' at?

The video is probably more fun to look at, but I need to do some editing before I put that up.  The water was pretty clear, but as you can see, it was a little dark out that day, so we couldn't see very far.  Still, it was cool to see the coral and the few fish that were around and we had a fun time.  I'm definitely looking forward to another snorkeling adventure at some future time.

After snorkeling, they took the boat into what they called a natural pool, where we hung around in the shallow water drinking and lounging in the water for a while.

Finally, more lounging time.Finally, more lounging time.

I didn't realize it at the time, but after we got back on board, the boat turned into the set of a rap video.  Everyone was drinking and dancing - the only elements that were missing were the Cristal champagne and the rappers.

The next day, Amber and I bid farewell to Punta Cana.  Our trip was fun and relaxing and everything we wanted in our honeymoon.

My Sweetie and me.

More Dispatches from Punta Cana

Amber and I are still on our honeymoon and having a lot of fun relaxing in the sun by the pool or at the beach.  I'm actually mostly relaxing in the warm shade because I do burn if I'm not careful.  I have evidence of this as despite my best efforts, I managed to burn my shoulders lightly.  I'm really not complaining, mind you.  It's been great.  Here's what the view has been like most of the time.

view from lounging

We have been taking breaks from our lounging efforts to take dips in the adjacent water, be it pool or ocean, and seek out sustenance.  We've even mustered the energy to do a couple more daring activities, including our paragliding adventure.


As you can see, Amber and I did a tandem glide and it was smiles all around (including our chute).  It was kind of cool and fun, but also a little scary for me.  I have a fear of falling and I don't think I was well seated in the harness, so I think I could have enjoyed it more.  I'll give it another try some other time before adding it to my "never again" list.

We are taking a break right now from our lounging outside to lounge a little inside.  It's been raining off and on today, but mostly not enough to have to be inside, especially if you are in the pool and wet anyway.  Right now, however, it appears to be really coming down.  It turns out that Tropical Storm Emily might be headed our way.  We're hoping for good weather as we've signed up for a snorkeling excursion.  It's already been bumped once due to low visibility.  Hopefully we'll still get to do it this trip.

Even if we don't manage to do our snorkeling excursion, this trip has been excellent.  We had a romantic dinner on the beach Sunday night that was unforgettable.  Best view ever.

Our table

I'll spare you most of the sappier pictures, but here's just one.

Dining on the beach with my Sweetie

Dispatches from the Dominican Republic

Our wedding was wonderful and we keep reminiscing and looking at the few preview pictures we've gotten from our photographer and those from friends that have been kind enough to share.  Everything went amazingly well, including catching a break on the weather.  I promise to post more about it (hopefully you are looking forward to it), however this post is about here and now.

The here and now is our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic.  Here we are at the airport, shortly after buying tourist cards for $10, from one agent, walking five feet, and turning the same tourist cards into another agent.

Tired, but excited

Specifically, we are at Dreams Punta Cana.  We've been here for about a day-and-a-half and we are having a blast.  We got in about 2:00pm local time yesterday after spending about 15 hours en route, including a somewhat harrowing hour ride from the airport to the resort.  The two-lane road seemed to be populated mainly by small motorcycles, often with two passengers, and the occasional van or tourist bus.  Our driver, who seemed very competent, don't get me wrong, had a bit of a penchant for passing... with little room to spare at times.  Or at least it seemed in my travel exhaustion.  The same exhaustion helped keep me from getting too excited about things, though, and we made it safely to the resort.

At the beach

Unfortunately, neither of us got much sleep on the way here, so we crashed for a couple of hours when we got in, but not before having a bite to eat and a quick peek at the beach where there was a wedding happening!  They weren't as cute as us (I'm not biased, am I?) and they certainly didn't catch a break on the weather like us, as a light tropical shower started up as they were in the middle of the ceremony.
We might not have made long enough to witness this, but we were checking in a bit early, as it turned out, and we had to kill some time before our room was ready.   Soon enough, we were resting peacefully in our room and after a couple hours of napping , we decided to go find some more food.

(Yeah, right, like I'm going to give you any more details than that about the time we spend in bed!)

We headed from our room to try the Japanese steakhouse, but it wasn't entirely clear where it was from our resort map.  We found ourselves in the nearby main lobby looking for help.  A friendly hotel staff member, whom we assumed was a concierge, offered us some chairs and we thought he was going to help us to the restaurant.  Alas, Celestian was not a concierge, and before we knew what was going on, we were getting signed up for a timeshare... er... "vacation club" spiel.  We managed to push him off until Sunday (not sure if we will bother to attend) but by the time we'd escaped and made it to the Japanese steakhouse, they were full for the evening.  Oh well, there are still other opportunities to have people juggle sharp knives and throw shrimp at us this trip.

So instead of Japanese, we had Mexican for dinner and then watched a hypnotist show at the main stage.  Neither one of us were brave enough to volunteer - I have an irrational fear of audience participation.  There weren't any shortage of volunteers and the show went on without us.  I actually think the volunteers were hypnotized, but Amber was more skeptical.  The most interesting suggestions to me were making people forget things like their last names or the number six.  Okay, not exactly hilarious, but interesting that you could (possibly) suggest to someone that the number six did not exist and watch them skip it several times counting on their fingers.

Just as the show finished up, the sky opened up and started dumping rain.  It was actually pretty cool - lightening and thunder and everything.  The power went out in our room, but didn't stay off long enough to be a problem and we fell asleep to the sounds of the rain on the roof.

Today was a vastly different day.  It was sunny and warm all day and the beach was awesome.

The view from my lounge chair

We spent most of the day there, cycling between hanging out in the water, applying sunscreen, and relaxing in beach chairs.  The water here is warm and incredibly salty and it is really easy to float.  When we tired of the beach, we moved to the pool for a little while.  We even managed to make it to the fitness center for a short workout this afternoon as well as write some postcards to friends and family back home.

I wrote most of this post in the lounge tonight as we were waiting for our room to be made up.  When we headed back to our room, we discovered two things: it started raining again tonight and there was a tarantula hanging out on the path back to our room.  I tried to get a picture of it with my phone, but unfortunately it was too dark to see even with the flash.

Time to order room service.  Because we can.  Hooray for all inclusive!

It's been a great day.  And I'm sure there are more to come.

We’re married!

It's official, we are married! 198775_10150265623898706_152850518705_7392700_8166181_n

This is a photo from our first look session on Alki.  Actually, it is an iPhone photo of the screen of our photographer's camera which is showing a photo from our first look session on Alki, but I like it.

There will be much, much more blogging of the events of the past few days to come (promise) but we are taking some time to spend with friends and family before we wing our way to the Dominican Republic for our honeymoon so the posts will probably start appearing later.

Thanks to all our family and friends for their love and support.

Love you, Amber!

XKCD and wedding goodness

Amber, family and friends are all at the big Seattle Wedding Show today.  I am home waiting for yet another attempt to get a refrigerator that actually makes ice, which is probably for the best.  In the spirit of doing wedding stuff, though, here's a great link that Anne shared with us the other day: XKCD Wedding Cake

Here's the XKCD it is based on:

For those readers who are new to XKCD, make sure you hover over the comic to see funny text associated with the comic.