24 January 2017

2016 MICHIGAN St. Joseph - A Wedding

From start to finish this was a very special wedding. It was not glitzy, but sparkled with elegance and "artisia." It was cozy and personal and one of a kind. The bride and groom are Riley and Patrick, Riley being the daughter of my very dear friend Carla.

The wedding was held in St. Joseph, about 50 miles from Kalamazoo and along Lake Michigan. We enjoyed a leisurely drive there and found it was also the weekend of the Senior PGA championship tournament. We are not golfers, but it was exciting to know the event was being held in this little out-of-the mainstream Michigan town.

We had visited St. Joe a number of times, eating at a fave restaurant named Schu's and visiting the Krasl Art Center & Museum. The main street runs along a bluff overlooking a wonderful park with vintage merry-go-round, water play pad, old train depot, and a nice stretch of sandy Lake Michigan beach. On Saturdays they hold a fabulous farmers market along the bluff. Lots to do here, but today our sights were set on a fun filled wedding.

For out of town guests, the bride's parents had arranged a hotel (Inn at Harbor Shores) across the St. Joe river from the church and reception venue. Our room had a great view of the river and downtown St. Joe. In the lobby there was a quaint little bar. A highlight was the bartenderess. She moved recently from Chicago and could really "talk cocktails." Here's our nighttime view from the hotel.
The wedding was held at St. Joseph's Catholic church. It was built in 1869, although it is thought that the first mass of this parish was held in 1679 when Robert de LaSalle explored the area. For a Catholic church it is simply furnished with highlights being the beautiful stained glass windows. The aisle was decorated with wedding greenery, white roses, and white lanterns guiding the way to the alter.

The bride looked lovely in her floor-length gown. A very happy couple indeed. The ceremony and vows were short, but sweet and meaningful.
After the service, the bride and groom greeted everyone at the church entrance. As we waited outside for the pair to present themselves, each was given a funneled piece of sheet music filled with dried flower bits (in place of rice or seeds). This was an innovative idea which would not hurt the natural environment or birds.
From there we were all invited on a trolley ride to tour St. Joe, ending at the reception venue. The couple led the way. The bride appeared to float on board as a gentle wind wafted through her long veil.
As we departed we also received a program for the events during the rest of the day. I really liked that. And things actually happened ON TIME!!!
The reception was held at The Veranda, which is connected to the Whitcomb Senior Community. It is mainly an outdoor facility with an arrangement set up for inclement weather. This day, however, was beautifully sunny. In the evening it got a little cooler, so heavy curtains could be placed to protect whatever direction the wind might come from. Our space was in the area behind the columns. There was a magnificent view of Lake Michigan from here and an uncovered terrace with fountain to the left.
Upon entering there was a clever arrangement of appetizers set up on a bed of apples. The wedding cakes were also displayed; berries and icing oozed from the between the bare-sided layers. This was the perfect cake for me as I like the cake part better than the icing part. Layers were intentionally off kilter and kitschy.

The greenery and white lantern theme continued at each table. Seating was designated with miniature clay pots filled with veggie seedlings and name flags. Food choice selections were discreetly shown by color of the flags. I had a green one for veggie. Mike had a pink one for salmon.
We were seated with Ladies' Library friends and a new friend who is president of the Midwest Miniatures Museum (more on that later).

Throughout the afternoon and evening we took several walks to pass the time. One of those was through the quaint downtown of St. Joseph. There are modern stores, but much of the "scenery" is a throwback in time. Here is an mid-century barber shop.
Across the street from the venue and overlooking the bluff is a grand view of the St. Joe river flowing into Lake Michigan. Sunset was particularly spectacular.
As the evening continued, there was chatting and dancing. There were also two caricaturists. Everyone that wanted got a drawing of themselves. Here we are. I didn't think it looked much like us at first, but it is growing on me. Visitors to our home really have a good laugh when they see it.
Carla had advised that there was a surprise at 9pm, so to definitely stick around. The surprise was a food truck cupcake caterer arriving street side. There was a choice of five or so flavors. A perfect snack to top off the evening.
This was a wonderful day. So many unique and meaningful ideas. This was not a surprise though as Carla and Riley (well all the family, Richard and Nick, too) are so artistic, innovative, and overflowing with fun ideas. My Mike is not really a "wedding person," but he said today "this is the best wedding I ever attended!"

Mike and I send our best wishes and hope for this bright young couple ... Riley and Patrick.
PS - We went home with three tomato, a pepper, and an eggplant seedling from the table decorations. Those without a garden contributed to ours. They all grew successfully in our little community garden plot.

We gleaned four purple peppers but they grew only as big as a lime or garlic. They were sooo cute and each was enough to dress a salad. The one lone eggplant was not much bigger, but quite tasty as a side dish for one summer meal. I sliced it real thin and fried the slices in a bit of oil. They came out like crispy eggplant chips. Way more successful were the tomatoes. Nice size and plenty of them.

19 January 2017

2016 MICHIGAN Kalamazoo - A Shower

These spring/summer events are in no particular order, but first I'll write about a fun shower. One of my best friends from the Ladies' Library Association invited me to her daughter's wedding shower. My friend Suzi from San Francisco happened to be in town on the date and was graciously invited to join as well.

The shower was held at The Oaklands, an oddly placed building on Western Michigan's modern campus. (This outside photo is from WMU archives.)  I had always been curious about this Italianate "villa" and it did not let me down. Although the spring crocus were popping, it was still snowy that day.

The original builder of the home was Robert Babcock. He started a successful dry goods business in Kalamazoo and eventually became President of the First National Bank here. In 1869 he bought 16 acres in the area and built this 13-room structure named for the oaks in his front yard. It was such a prominent site that later the railroad stopped in a spot just down the hill from the home.

The property passed through a number of owners. It was used as a breeding farm for harness horses, including the famous (if you are a horsey person) Peter the Great, as well as a golf course. It was finally purchased and restored by Western Michigan University in the 1940's. The inside was refurbished through a Designer Showcase event. It is lovely and elegant...just like the bride to be...and a perfect venue for this special event. For more history, go to: https://wmich.edu/oaklands/history.
It was cold and snowy outside, but warm and cozy inside. We were graciously greeted by the bride and her bride's maids, then wisked off to a side room. There we started the festivities with a choice of pina coladas.  Yum! There was a big basket of "beach" things as decoration to heat up the atmosphere. Hawaii is where the honeymoon was planned.

In the main parlor, we gathered and shared intros around the room. We all got a pen with a silk purple iris attached at the top to use in writing our bridal  game answers. (I use mine everyday, as it is so easy to find on my desk.)
Of course, there was the obligatory questions on how well we knew Riley and Patrick. Another game challenged us to remember the 30+ things from the "beach" basket. Those that knew or remembered the most got a nice gift, but all of us had a choice from a basket of aromatic handmade soap bars. I chose sandalwood.

Next we passed through the dining room for a tasty brunch buffet. There were lots of veggie items as my friend is a vegetarian. That suited me fine.

Desserts were served in a small windowed "gazebo." The sun was streaming in and outside looked like a white crystal carpet.
After brunch we again sat around in a circle to watch the bride open her gifts. We oohed and aahed as we saw the wonderful items Riley would start her wedded life with.

Here's a photo of Riley and her mom Carla. I'm sure Carla is remembering when Riley sat on her lap as a little one. Two sweeties!
As the afternoon ended, Patrick arrived to say hi and thanks to everyone for attending. We each got a parting gift. They were little white hand cut boxes (made by Riley and the "maids"). Enclosed were Sweet-Tart diamond engagement rings. Too cute!!!
Next read about the wedding.

PS - Here's a look at the vintage bathroom.