Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: The Venue

After getting over the initial excitement of the engagement (who am I kidding? I'm still crazy excited!), our first step was to figure out where this wedding would take place. I knew I wanted to get married in Marin County, California, where I grew up, and Jeff was happy to go along. Picking the venue is a huge decision and determines so many aspects of the wedding - the decor, the size, the schedule, your guests' travel and accommodations. I had done some research and explored our options, but I couldn't wait to see the venues in person. I wanted an outdoor reception with lots of greenery and natural elements that was close enough to San Francisco that guests could enjoy all of the amazing Bay Area. The search was on!

We visited three sites, and as soon as we walked into the third, I knew it was the one. Nestled in a little redwood forest, under a canopy of twinkling lights and white lanterns, Deer Park Villa is the essence of Marin's beauty and the perfect place for our wedding. The only downside? The same space would be used for the ceremony and reception, and I was hoping for unique areas for each part of the day. After searching through city parks, gardens, and every gazebo in town, we happened upon an amazing option for our ceremony and picked the Stewart Chapel at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Perched on top of a hill overlooking Mt. Tam and the tree filled valley, the chapel is the ideal romantic setting to say "I do."

The Stewart Chapel
The Redwood Grove
Both of these venues are more than I could have dreamed of and we're so excited to keep planning the big day! We're getting married in October, when the weather in Marin is at its best, so fingers are crossed for blue skies and warm temperatures. The next big decisions will take place when we head down to California next month for our tastings. My mouth is watering already...


Monday, February 25, 2013

Best Dressed: The Oscars

For the fashion and celebrity inclined, awards season is one of the most fun times of the year. Our favorite stars are dressed to the nines, wearing the latest couture fresh from the runways, and they're ready to have some fun. The Academy Awards is the pinnacle of the season, when those gorgeous golden statues are handed out and even the most famous actors are a little starstruck. But nominated or not, win or lose, landing on the best dressed list is as coveted a spot as a ticket to the Oscars. Here are my favorite looks from Sunday's show, in no particular order:

Sleek and structured, Charlize looked like she was born to wear this Dior dress. Plus that perfect pixie to top it off? Effortlessly chic.

As the new face of the brand, Jennifer stayed loyal to her choice designer with this pale, textured Dior Haute Couture gown. She looked fresh and young, and her dress was clearly a good luck charm!

I love everything about Kerry's Miu Miu look. The shimmering bodice, coral red skirt, and the tiniest bow kept this dress fun and playful for her presenter role.

Jessica embodied Hollywood glamour and even resembled an Academy Award on her big night. From her retro hair and red lips to this golden gown, she looked amazing in Armani Prive.

Naomi took a fashion risk with this asymmetrical, metallic Armani Prive look. She looked like a pretty disco ball and pulled the look together with a simple updo and minimal jewels.

(All images via InStyle)

Which were your favorite looks from the Oscars? 


Friday, February 22, 2013

A Post for the Birthday Boy

Jeff and I had been dating for a few months when we celebrated our first holiday together - Valentine's Day. I made chicken and risotto in my tiny college kitchen and my roommates left the scene to give us some hard to come by privacy. Jeff brought over peppermint ice cream (from Prince Puckler's, for my fellow Ducks out there) and micro brews. We ate dinner at 9:30 p.m. because Jeff had lacrosse practice that night and we were in college so we didn't have a bedtime. A week later, it was Jeff's birthday. I got him a Friday Night Lights t-shirt and made a Funfetti cake, the extent of my baking prowess at the time, which was served on paper plates and devoured by him and his teammates.

Last week was our sixth Valentine's Day and today marks the sixth time that Jeff and I will celebrate his birthday. We've come along way since risotto and beers at my little apartment table, but through all of the changes and new years, the simple act of being together and blowing out a candle on a special treat is always on the agenda. I love birthdays, for the opportunity to look back on the year that has passed, its successes and challenges, the changes and triumphs, and to take a moment to think about the coming year, the goals and dreams you hope to accomplish. Jeff has had an amazing year, both personally and professionally. It hasn't always been easy, but he continues to push himself, to test the limits, to never give up. I thought that the boy with the peppermint ice cream was impressive, but I had no idea who he would grow up to be. I can only imagine what this next year will bring and I know that we have so much to look forward to. Today, I am so proud of him and so lucky, and I can't wait to continue on this journey together.

Happy birthday, Jeff! May all your dreams come true.

 2008 to 2013


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wedding Wednesday

I am so excited to be jumping on this bandwagon! Wedding planning has been a great experience so far, full of surprises and lots of lessons. You obviously have no idea what kind of bride you'll be, but as an event planner, I assumed I would be a bit of a control freak, lamenting over the details, and striving for perfection. Instead, as soon as we got engaged, I started simplifying and taking it slow. A lot of this is due to the fact that we're getting married in California while living in Boise, so there's only so much obsessing and DIYing an out-of-state girl can do. It has been wonderful to watch our ideas come to life as we chat with vendors and plan out the day, though more than anything I can't wait to be surrounded by all of our loved ones, marrying the man of my dreams. But we've still got eight months to go and lots more sap from me, so let's move on!

I have been imaging my wedding since I was a little girl, and over the years, some ideas have evolved while others have remained the same. I have always wanted to have an outdoor wedding with flowers and twinkling lights everywhere. I love the color purple, rustic details, and gardens. My buzz words are simple, romantic, floral, with a touch of whimsy. Pinterest offers a wealth of inspiration (what did people do B.P.?!) and has made having all my details in one place a total breeze. To kick things off, here is a little collage of our wedding vision.
(all images via Pinterest)


Monday, February 18, 2013

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie

This is a profound statement, I know. And I should disclaimer that I've met the best chocolate chip cookie ever, and it lives at Levain Bakery on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. How they make that cookie I may never know, but I dream about it and I love it a lot. The cookie that follows is the best cookie I've made, and possibly the best gluten-free cookie ever.

I've tried a bunch of different gluten-free and paleo cookie recipes and had never found one that was quite right. Frankly, while most were delicious, none of them tasted like a classic chocolate chip cookie until I stumbled upon Meaningful Eats. The sign of a great recipe is knowing it will be good before it comes out of the oven, and these didn't disappoint (it helped that I ate a few tablespoons of make sure it wasn't poisoned of course). When I pulled them out, they were incredibly fragrant, chewy on the outside, soft on the inside, perfectly sweet with a hint of brown butter. Best of all? They taste like normal chocolate chip cookies and are therefore amazing.

 photo 5036f9a9-33bd-457d-8da1-a2761d89fefd_zpsa99b1672.jpg

Recipe, adapted from Meaningful Eats:
(Makes 18 cookies)

1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups almond flour
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Mix together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Add vanilla and egg. Mix in the baking soda and salt. Mix in almond flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until well blended. Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Scoop tablespoons of dough about two inches apart on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake approximately 10-12 minutes, rotating cookie sheets if necessary, or until golden brown around edges. Cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to finish cooling.

* I haven't tried these with regular flour, but I have converted recipes using regular flour to use almond flour, and the same amounts work. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!
* These cookies are best the day they're baked as they get a little crunchier after a few hours. Still yummy, but if you're looking for a chewy, soft cookie, enjoy these on the day you make them.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Back in the Saddle

Needless to say, it's been a long time since I blogged last. It's easy to remember what started my absence, but harder to pinpoint exactly what kept me away. A few days after my last post, I had a huge work event and then summer started. I needed a break - to relax from the stress of work, to enjoy the sunshine and long days, to settle into my normal routine again. Jeff and I moved to a new house and spent the weeks following unpacking, getting to know our new neighborhood, waving at new neighbors, barbequing in our new backyard. My parents visited, we had a few weekends away, friends got married, I had another event. Throughout these months, I thought about blogging often. I would be cooking and think to write about the recipe. I would be reorganizing a room and think to write about my latest home decor ideas. I would be getting ready for a date night and think to write about our fun. But instead, I lived it. I had this intense urge to be completely and totally present. I wanted to enjoy the moments I was in, not photograph them and recount them later.

I have a great amount of respect for bloggers who write interesting, time consuming posts daily because I don't see how they find the time to do it all. So for the past eight months, I just did me, in the moment. And a lot of great things happened. I celebrated my one year anniversary living in Boise, now six months ago, and became more settled and comfortable in my new city. In August, en route to vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Jeff and I got engaged. It was the most unbelievable and incredible moment of my life, one that I did not see coming, and the start of a new journey that we're thrilled to be on. Now I'm planning a wedding, and while it's still months away, my heart swells every time I think about walking down the aisle, having our first dance, toasting with everyone we love.

As I've written before, blogging has always been an outlet for me. I'm not concerned with making money or becoming a professional blogger someday, but I really like having this space to reflect, share, and learn through. My hiatus from blogging was intentional, as is this return. I don't know if my content will change, though I can promise more recipes and a wedding post or two, but I plan to blog when I can and when I have something to say. I sincerely adore and appreciate each of you who visit my little blog and I hope that you enjoy what you read here. I'm excited to be back and can't wait to start reading all of your blogs in earnest again.

Happy blogging!