My sister who’s three years older than me, four years by grade, my other half, my role model, and my go-to-guru for all things in life is getting married in 7 weeks. I can’t believe how quickly time has moved and now upon us are all the fun events and special memories leading up to her and her fiance’s big day.
As my older sister, she has always guided me through life by showing me both what to do, and how to do it, and in other parts what not to do and why. It’s hard to explain the bond between sisters if you’ve never experienced it. It’s basically as if you’ve been given a life partner who understands you in the most complex ways that no one ever will because at some point they’ve seen you at your worst, in moments exposed and raw but they continue to see you always as your best self. I believe that’s why they call the love unconditional. My sister and I, having always been close have only grown over the years to appreciate each other even more than we did as kids (now that we’ve officially gotten over whether we can share clothes or not!). She’s the one person I’ve always been able to confide in while simultaneously supporting me in every single choice I’ve made, both good and bad she’s there for me.
Now, as the Maid of Honor during a time in her life where she needs me most fills me with so much happiness. For one, I get to watch my sister blossom and move forward into a part of her life that brings nothing but joy to her and so many people around us. I also get to design all of her wedding materials invites, place cards, and small details which is an awesome creative outlet for me. Secretly, I am even more excited to watch as all her dreams unfold. It’s a pretty radical thing to watch someone get what they’ve always dreamed of having and I gladly watch it play out this way for her.
Do many of you watch the show Downton Abbey? Well, it happens to be my sister’s most favorite show. So when it came to deciding how to theme her bridal shower, high tea only seemed fitting. The way I was able to make the theme shine the most was through the serving pieces I chose and in fact I used no other decorations than serving pieces, lace and flowers. Keeping it super simple was the key to having this be a success. Between thrifting (a favorite activity of mine) and enlisting the help of my Grandma to gather pieces from both of my great Grandmother’s and great great Grandmother I was able to cultivate the mood. The small details of an event truly are what make it special. Well, that and the food 😉
Planning events when you feel restricted by the type of food you normally eat on a daily basis compared to all that you should have to feed people can be difficult. The best solution to this in my opinion is to have a mix. Not everyone will like certain things, and in fact it can also be heard to please everyone. A few pieces of advice are to always have a clean protein and vegetable so you know there is something there for you to eat, these specifically would be your AIP friendly foods. Granted these things are not always about YOU or me in this case as it was most certainly about my sister. However, my sister is a huge supporter of my lifestyle having gone Paleo herself about three years ago. She’s the first person to be understanding of my preferences so keeping her in mind was a huge factor in planning the menu. For starters, she loves oranges – so much so that the theme of their wedding is evergreen and orange blossoms. I know, I know it will be a pretty magical scene! So with that in mind, I knew I wanted to have different orange based dishes!
My sister very rarely eats red meat so I made my Orange Tarragon Lamb Meatballs with turkey instead and added an orange honey sauce to go with them. There were hardly any of these left at the end!
To keep it simple I also created a “dried fruit bar” of figs, apricots and cranberries. These are some of my favorite, but they also paired perfectly with the Downton theme.
For a simple salad I kept it Paleo by using fresh spinach and red leaf lettuce, plums, red onion and walnuts (omit nuts for full compliant AIP). For the dressing I simply blended three fresh plums, apple cider vinegar, salt and garlic together until creamy. This was by far the easiest thing to make and so many people commented on how delicious the dressing was, seriously WAY better than anything you could get at the store.
Thankfully, I did NOT make all this food alone, nor take on the endeavor of executing this shindig without the help of some of my sister’s closest friends. Some of our other menu items were Paleo Gingerbread Scones, Paleo Deviled Eggs and Bacon Wrapped Dates. I could live on this menu – it’s that good. We felt since not everyone removes gluten from their life that we wanted to have some other food options as well, so we had Cranberry Orange Scones and Pimento Cheese sandwiches. FUNNY thing is, hardly anyone ate these! I would say I am surprised by this, ONLY because having personal knowledge of the amazing lady who made these baked goods I full well know even without having tried them that they were supremely delicious! On the other hand I am not surprised, it goes to show you that when given the option people really would rather choose the healthiest thing for them in order to feel their best! Plus, the rest of our spread was nothing to shake a stick at!
Between meatballs, bacon dates, scones, tea, coffee, and three types of mimosas we were able to create the mood we wanted. With little details like lace and name cards to choose your “title” for the day (Lady, Duchess, Countess or Princess) the event was beautiful and my sister was radiant. The people that gathered around her all showed their love and support in the most beautiful of ways and I am so grateful to all of them for making her day truly special.
Being a firm believer in all things CAKE, especially for special events I had intentions on baking a cake for the bridal shower, but I haven’t made a cake in AGES. For starters, as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts I am the world’s WORST baker, like ever. But I try and if there’s one thing I think you have to be as a bad baker, it’s determined enough to keep trying to bake!
This is why I adore the rustic look. I love the way it looks unimposing and as if it was just thrown together, which in my case it partially was!
I used the lovely Kate of Healing Family Eats recipe for her AIP Cake only I made five thinner layers in larger pans and doubled the frosting and I used Brittany Angell’s recipe for candied oranges from her new book for the elegant topping. What I loved most about this cake was the intense honey flavor, which is credited to the great quality local honey I used. So if you make it, make sure your honey is something you love. When I first made the layers they were beautiful! After storing them separately and having transport them though and letting them come up to room temperature they were delicate to handle since they were significantly thinner than her actual recipe.
The great thing though, is it didn’t need to be perfect. It looked just as it was supposed to, and even better, EVERYONE loved it. I’m not over exaggerating when I say not only did everyone have a piece, but so many people shared how amazing it tasted, so similar to actual cake they would never have known how it was made unless I told them! Best of all, my sister loved it and several people who, like us, have not had any form of cake in a long long time were delighted by the chance to share a slice to celebrate my sister.
In the end that’s what it’s really about. This is why food matters so much in cultures because it’s a symbol of sharing the labor of our work with people we love in order to celebrate being together. It makes my heart warm to know my sister was able to spend time with the people she loves and we all were able to share in the joy of her special time with food for everyone, and a little cake too 😉