Summer Recap

Given that I dropped off the face of the planet and stopped blogging for a few months after my surgery, I missed blogging about a lot of big summer events. I’ve been debating on how to chronicle everything and catch y’all up, and I think the easiest way is to do a big ole recap post. Let’s get to it…

June

Abby’s Bridal Shower & Bachelorette

Ashlen, Niki, Abby & Katie

Abby is Dave’s cousin. They grew up in the same small town, went to the same school, etc. etc. Given that Dave is an only child, Abby and her sister Katie are the closest thing Dave has to siblings. They were in our wedding and they and their mom hosted my bridal shower. So when Abby got engaged, I knew I wanted to help out with her bridal shower. I helped host it with Dave’s mom at Wolcott House – the same place where my shower was held. It’s kind of a tradition for locals to hold sowers there and it’s easy to see why – there’s space to set up several tables, a kitchen to prepare food, space to play awesome bridal games….so pretty much everything you might need for a shower and no one has to deep clean their house and rearrange half their furniture.

BottlesAbby’s fiance proposed in a pretty unique way. He wrote her a letter detailing why he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her and put it in a bottle with the ring. We wanted to incorporate that into the shower, so I ended up using bottles for the centerpieces. Of course regular bottles just wouldn’t do – they had to be pretty bottles! So my main crafty project for the shower was to spray paint all the bottles gold. For the record, Krylon® ColorMaster™ Brushed Metallic spray paints don’t work so well on glass….or at least on round bottles. It’s drippy, and doesn’t result in a nice smooth professional-looking finish. I wanted to use the Brushed Metallic because it had more of a matte finish rather than a shiny finish, but in the end the shinier Krylon® Metallic Paint worked out much better on the glass bottles. The result was fantastic, especially when I got Katie’s homegrown flowers into the bottles. 

Centerpiece

Some of the cupcakes I made for the shower.
Some of the cupcakes I made for the shower.
Messages from the guests to the couple in a bottle.
Messages from the guests to the couple in a bottle.

Bachelorette TattooAfter the shower we headed back to Indy for the bachelorette party. Yes, it’s a tad crazy to do both the shower and the bachelorette in the same day, but Abby had people coming in from all over the place (as far as California) so it just made sense to do it when everyone was already together. Katie, the maid of honor, planned a spectacular evening complete with temporary tattoos special-made for the event (I swear those things were actually semi-permanent – I had to scrub a layer of skin off to remove mine more than a week later…). We started off with dinner at Rick’s Cafe Boatyard which is right on Eagle Creek Reservoir on the west side of Indianapolis. It reminded me a lot of one of my favorite restaurants, Bella Vita, on Geist Reservoir, located on the northeast part of the city. Afterwards we headed over to Fountain Square – a really cool district in Indy that happens to be home to one of my favorite local breweries, aptly named Fountain Square Brewery. Side note: their “Backyard Porter” is fantastic in my opinion. We headed to the Rooftop Garden, which is a fantastic place to hang out on a summer evening. Fountain Square is just southeast of downtown and the Rooftop Garden offers a stunning view of the Indianapolis skyline. The only downside was that it was a rooftop…and the elevator in the building wasn’t working. That would have been fine, except I was only about six weeks out from surgery and still limping a bit. I did manage to make it all the way up the five (or so) flights of stairs….just very slowly. Thankfully the elevator was working for our trip down, although I imagine that would have been a tad easier. After the Rooftop Garden closed we headed over to another bar in Fountain Square, The Brass Ring. This bar has a seriously awesome vibe that’s kind of hard to explain…you just have to experience it for yourself. Their cocktails were fantastic. I love a good cosmopolitan, and they delivered. After a couple drinks there I called Dave….aka our designated driver for the evening. He’s a really good sport about that kind of thing (thank goodness). Fountain Square isn’t exactly close to home for us…it’s 30 to 45 minutes away, because we’re suburbanites. The plan was for a few of the girls to come home with us to spend the evening. We might not live super close to Fountain Square / Downtown, but we’re a heck of a lot closer than Crawfordsville, Lafayette, or Wolcott! Dave had already been up at the shower so he was able to bring back my serving dishes, extra food, and everyone’s bags, which meant that everyone’s stuff was already taken care of and ready to go. 

Our house is sparsely furnished (and was even less furnished back in June), which makes it pretty ideal for slumber parties. Katie had brought down some farm-fresh eggs from Michigan, and I scrambled them up with some bacon for breakfast the next morning. It was wonderful for the cousins to finally see our new abode and to get to chill out together after such a busy day. 

July 

The Fourth in Michigan

Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan

This little trip was definitely a highlight of this summer. Katie and her partner John moved up to Michigan and started an organic farm. They’ve been up and running for over a year but we still hadn’t been up there to see the whole operation. Having the family get together up there to celebrate Independence Day was a perfect excuse to finally make the trip. Their farm, Little Red Organics, is uh-maz-ing. I’m a city girl through-and-through, so the whole farm thing fascinates me.

Turns out the 4th of July is a big day for farmer’s markets, which meant that John and Katie had a lot of work to do, at least in the morning. They actually split up so they could be at two different markets on the same day. We ended up joining Katie in Manistee and helping out a bit with selling some of the produce. 

Little Red Organics set up at the Manistee market.
Little Red Organics set up at the Manistee market.

Afterwards the family (minus John, who was down at the Ludlington market) got together for a delicious lunch at Goody’s Juice and Java. Afterwards we decided to take a quick trip to see Lake Michigan. 

Dave & Ashlen @ Lake Michigan

When we got back to the farm John gave us the grand tour of the place. Not only are they growing tons of delicious organic veggies, but they’ve got ducks, tons of chickens, and a couple of pigs.

Pig

Little Red, the farm's namesake, who's not very little anymore.
Little Red, the farm’s namesake, who’s not very little anymore.

After a delicious dinner at the farm we headed back to Manistee for the fireworks. I was still a tad gimpy, but Dave’s aunt had surgery just a couple days after me and she was still in a wheelchair. We ended up parking on a residential street and walking quite a way over to the beach, which happened to have a boardwalk that went out over the sand….it was pretty handy for the wheelchair! The beach ended up being a fantastic place to view the fireworks show, which was surprisingly impressive for such a small town. I was also loving the weather – Indiana is scorching hot at the beginning of July, but Michigan is much more comfortable, especially in the evening.

The whole trip was a blast – not only did we get some great family time but I loved checking out the farm. I’m crossing my fingers that spending the 4th of July in Michigan becomes a new family tradition!

Abby’s Wedding

Of course Abby’s wedding was the anticipated event of the summer. Nathan (the groom) has been living in Illinois for – well, since Abby met him, I think. But, both their families were in Indiana so it only made sense to do an Indiana wedding. They like to spend a lot of time together exploring the outdoors, so it was only fitting that they ended up having an outdoor wedding at Turkey Run State Park. I had never been to the park before, but it’s really a gem. It’s definitely not the side of central Indiana that you see when you drive through on the interstate. 

They had a gorgeous rain-free day (albeit a tad on the hot side…) for the event. Their ceremony was really beautiful and personal. Nathan shocked us all (including Abby!) by singing his vows. 

Nathan's Vows

The cousins: Rob, Abby, Dave, and Katie.
The cousins: Rob, Abby, Dave, and Katie.

I couldn’t share the above picture without putting in the equivalent picture from our wedding two year ago….

Cousins at our wedding - October 2013
Cousins at our wedding – October 2013

As I said at the beginning of this post – these guys are thick as thieves! 

The reception was held at the Turkey Run Inn (indoors, with blissful air conditioning). We got to sit with Katie, Rob, and their families, which was a blast.

I loved these charming centerpieces!
I loved these charming centerpieces!

Fun fact: Katie actually grew ALL the flowers for the wedding at the farm – the bouquets, the centerpieces, the uh-maz-ing gladiolas that were all down the aisle. It was so amazing. Apparently they were up into the wee small hours the night before the wedding getting everything ready, so a huge kudos to them! The bride and groom were taking off on their honeymoon to the Dominican Republic right after the wedding, which meant that the family got to snag the leftover flowers. I was encouraged to take as many as I wanted, and I didn’t hold back! I ADORE the gladiolas that Katie grows in her greenhouse, so I took a bunch of those, but I also had some smaller bouquets of the other flowers around the house. 

 

So there you have it. Our big summer events in a nutshell (or a 1700-word blog post).