Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Em and Nick's Coastal Wedding

So it's no secret that I had the absolute best time at my brother's wedding on July 20. It was incredibly special for me to watch my brother marry the most amazing girl and share a magical day together, but that could have happened at a campground and we all would have been in tears. This wedding was a year in the making (or 10 years, if we're getting technical), and it was all about the details, the personal touches, and what happens when two people with great taste and a lot of love to share get together and throw a big party.

I can't wait to do a feature with their wedding pictures - the setting alone will make your jaw drop, and the couple epitomizes happiness and joy - but for now, I'm going to share some details about their vendors. East coast brides, listen up! If you have any specific questions, please post them and I'll get the bride to share her thoughts and tips. She has been a wealth of knowledge, sending me lots of ideas and tried and true planning strategies, so I'm sure she would love to help other brides.

Invitation and Paper Design: Martin Schapiro

San Francisco

Martin is an up and coming artist who went to college with Emily and Nick and worked diligently to weave together their ideas with his artistic vision, making each item special and unique. He listened carefully, and was detail oriented, and thoughtful. While working remotely from the couple, he was able to provide quick turnaround times and lots of helpful tips for things like letterpress and card stock. The paper pieces were truly one of a kind with Martin's touch

Calligraphy: Myrtle & Lloyd

Myrtle & Lloyd, and Etsy shop, had reasonable rates and were very easy to work with. Everyone loved how the calligraphy turned out - another lovely element!

Photographers: Josephine and Thad Sittenfeld

Rhode Island

Jo and Thad are a husband and wife team, and that element alone made them excellent wedding photographers. It was clear that they had years of experience under their belts, and they worked together seamlessly. They seemed to have a great time, they had lots of patience handling the 15 members of the wedding party and our big families, and I have no doubt that they captured Nick and Emily's day beautifully.

Videographers: Inkspot Crow - MacKenzie and Philip Henry
North Carolina

For the bride and groom, videography was one of the things that they couldn't live without. They wanted a video, or a documentary as the Inkspot Crow crew calls their work, that would bring their day to life after it was all over, and show them all of the tiny details that they may have missed. I was amazed by how thorough MacKenzie and Philip were - they seemed to be everywhere, yet never in the way. I can't wait to see the story that they tell of this wedding.

Event Planning: Wendy Joblon Events
Rhode Island and Massachusetts

As an event planner, I pay extra attention to wedding planners, what can I say? Wendy and Kathy were outstanding - cool, calm, and collected, one step ahead of everything, and making sure that no component was overlooked or forgotten. Simply observing their work over the two days of wedding events would have been enough, but I had been hearing about them from Emily for months, and it was great to see just why she valued them so much. Especially for a remote, destination location, a wedding planner or two can be essential to the bride's piece of mind.

Flowers: Sayles Livingston
Rhode Island

Flowers are so important - they have to be beautiful, budget conscious, stay alive for eight hours...the list goes on. Sayles Livingston did the flowers for the rehearsal dinner and the wedding and they were stunning. I knew Emily's vision, so to see it come to life exactly as she'd described was exciting, and the colors and flower choices complemented the venue and setting perfectly. I wish I could have brought my bouquet back with me! (A few flower pictures here)

Catering: Chanterelle Boutique
Rhode Island

Wedding food is usually on the top of both the bride and groom's and the guest's priority lists. Chanterelle also did both the rehearsal dinner and wedding (and who knows what other events that weekend!), and everything was fabulous. From the first hors d'oeuvre during cocktails to the last mini grilled cheese as the reception was winding down, I tried all of it and was not disappointed. Plus, feeding 200 people in a short window of time and keeping everything hot and everyone happy is no small feat.

Ceremony Music: Sonare Chamber Ensemble

The ensemble was lovely and perfectly suited for the setting. They played string pieces throughout the ceremony, setting the tone for what would be a wonderful day. 

Reception Music: Joey Scott and the Connection

A band like Joey Scott and the Connection isn't something that everyone can get their hands on, but do try if you have the opportunity! They played an array of genres - from Black Eyed Peas to a Motown medley to swing - and I've never seen a dance floor so full. They kept the party going all night, and my favorite part was when the brass musicians went into the audience to play their solos. Talk about an interactive experience. 

Wedding Cake: Creative Endeavors

A wedding cake on a hot, humid summer day isn't the best combination, but this one looked great throughout the reception and fit with the theme perfectly. Plus, it was delicious - light and fluffy, with the right frosting to cake ratio, and not too sweet. Guests must have loved it because the caterer had to cut every bit of the three tiered cake for slices, even the top!

Welcome Cookies: Samantha Widder
New York

The cookies were amazing! The baker is the best friend of the bride's brother, and she made over 100 sugar cookies by hand with decorative icing in the wedding colors to be distributed in the welcome bags for guests (you can see the contents of the welcome bag above). These were another example of the tiny detail and care that Nick and Emily put in to their wedding, and to giving their guests a lasting impression. Though I doubt many of the cookies made it out of town before being consumed.

(All pictures borrowed from Instagram and Facebook - thanks, friends!)


Monday, July 29, 2013

Back to Basics: Office Chic

I've read it in hundreds of magazines - focus on getting classic, well made, simple items for your work wardrobe, and then mix and match them to create countless different outfits. At this point in my career, I haven't really taken this idea to heart. I love shopping but I don't love spending a lot of money on single items, so I find my closet jam packed with clothes, yet I lack some of the basic essentials. Of course, we have to dress in our style, so I'll probably never be a button down with slacks kind of girl, but we can all find great, neutral pieces to work with our more trendy clothes. Here are the items I'm gravitating towards now:

Mix and Match
(Shop these items here)

Simple cardigans in multiple colors - perfect for a cold day at your desk or to tie an outfit together. I don't wear sleeveless tops to work very often, so cardigans are a necessity.

A white blouse, a patterned blouse, and a black blouse - enough said, right? I love to wear one pattern at a time, but the embellishment on the white blouse makes it much more interesting.

Pencil skirts and bell skirts - I love skirts, and bell skirts are perfect for girls with a little extra love on the bottom, or those who want to create curves. Make sure they're long enough to be work appropriate and you're good to go.

Classic black tote - big enough for your laptop or tablet, chic enough for the office and happy hour, this is a great investment piece that won't go out of style.

Black pumps, nude pumps, and a patterned flats - Shoes are one area that I don't go too crazy with at work. I have more fun wearing patterns and color in my clothes and I like to keep my shoes simple. 

Slacks and pants - I live in my cropped cigarette pants from Gap (I think I've gone through four pairs since I discovered them a few years ago!). They work with any height of shoe and are great for untucked blouses. For longer pants, I opt for slacks with a little flare or width.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Spanish Rice Bowls

Long story short, after an amazing wedding weekend, Jeff and I started the long trek back to Boise and found ourselves in planes, trains, and automobiles for much longer than originally expected. We were blessed to be sitting on a Delta flight at LaGuardia in New York, waiting to take off, when the Southwest flight crash landed one runway away from us. The result was a four hour delay, three hours in the air, and a very hungry duo arriving in Minneapolis for our layover. When two foodies are trapped on a plane with no entertainment, the conversation quickly turns (repeatedly) to what we'll eat next. My number one craving?A rice bowl from Baja Fresh. There was hope that I might find something similar, but when we arrived in Minnesota, all the restaurants were closed, so we stayed hungry and daydreamed about rice bowls the rest of the way home. The decision of what to make for our first home cooked meal was an easy one, and extremely delicious.

Spanish Rice Bowls 
Makes 4 large servings (6 for smaller appetites)

For the rice, adapted from Simply Recipes:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups brown rice
1 onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1-8 ounce can tomato sauce 
1 tablespoon Sriracha or favorite hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and rice, and stir until coated with oil. Cook, stirring repeatedly, until onion is soft and rice has browned.

In a large pot, bring chicken broth to a simmer. Add tomato sauce and stir. Add rice mixture, hot sauce, salt and pepper, and stir. Cover and cook until rice is cooked and liquid has absorbed. I cooked mine with the lid on for 20 minutes, then removed the lid and cooked, stirring often, for another 10-15 minutes.

For the rest:
1 1/2 pounds raw chicken breasts or tenders
4 bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 can low sodium black beans, heated
2 avocados, diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, diced
1 lime, quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
Favorite hot sauce

In your large pan from the rice, heat olive oil and add the chicken and peppers (many have to do two batches). Cover and cook until chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken and set aside. Keep cooking peppers uncovered on medium heat until they start to brown and caramelize. When the chicken is cool, slice or shred it and return it to pan with peppers.

To assemble your plate, spoon rice into your bowl, followed by beans, chicken and peppers, tomatoes, avocado, cheese, and hot sauce. Squeeze the lime wedge on top and consume!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

East Coast Vacation

Last week, I flew to New York City for the first time since I moved to Boise two years ago. I wasn't sure how it would feel to be back - I have grown accustomed to a slower and quieter life, but I was afraid I would miss the city once I returned and envy everyone who still lived there. Well, it was amazing. I picked up the energy and pace right away, was speed walking down the avenues with attitude in no time, and felt very much at home. And while it was incredibly familiar and I had moments of longing for my former life, I was reassured that I'm very happy in my current location and lifestyle. I will always keep a part of New York with me and I appreciate all the opportunities the city provided. It helped make me who I am and I'm so glad I'll always be able to pay it a visit and relive some of the greatest years.

It was wonderful to see my girlfriends and hear about all the changes and excitement of the past few years, to be surrounded by laughter and affection and reminded of what a great time we had together. I miss them always, but especially because we were all witness to each others' successes in the big city, and we supported one another as we all tried to make it. These are unique and special friendships that I'll never forget.

Then we were off to the main attraction - my brother's wedding in coastal Massachusetts. It was a week long affair of family, friends, great meals, days on the beach, and many toasts to the happy couple. The festivities officially started on Thursday and it was a whirlwind of perfectly planned events, orchestrated and delivered to the tiniest detail. The weather threatened a change of plans on Saturday, but the rain stayed away until long after the dancing had ended and the tent had emptied, until after the bride and groom had taken a moonlight swim and hugged and kissed all of their loved ones. It was easily the most gorgeous and romantic wedding I've ever seen, movies included, and Nick and Emily were walking on air. I can't wait to see all the professional pictures, but for now, here are some phone shots.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Lime and Green Chile Shrimp Tacos

I don't know about you, but when it's 100 degrees outside, I crave food that's easy to make, doesn't heat up the kitchen, and includes a little spice best satisfied by a cold drink. The other night, I was craving Mexican, something light and flavorful, and seafood, so I whipped up a batch of shrimp tacos. These are great hot or cold and the leftovers can turn into the yummiest taco salad.

(Makes 8 tacos)

1 pound shrimp, peeled with tails removed (I used 41-50 count shrimp)
4 ounce can of fire roasted diced green chiles
1 large onion, sliced
1 can (16 ounces) fat free refried beans
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 limes, one juiced and one cut into wedges
8 corn tortillas
Favorite hot sauce
Olive oil

In a large skillet or pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.
Add onion and stir until fully coated with oil. Cook until onion is starting to soften and brown, and add full can of green chiles. Mix to incorporate and continue cooking until onion is soft.
Add shrimp to the pan and stir until mixed with onion and chiles. Add juice of one lime and stir. Cook until shrimp is pink and set aside.
Heat tortillas until soft (30 second to 1 minute in the microwave does the trick!).
To assemble, spread refried beans on a tortilla, add four shrimp with onion and chile, and top with cheese, hot sauce, and lime.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Rocking Red, White, and Blue

When it comes to choosing an outfit for the 4th of July, I think it's always a good plan to have a little fun with stars and stripes and patriotic colors. I'm prone to comfort and ease, especially on a day spent eating and hanging outside, so denim shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals, or a chambray dress with wedges would be perfect for the holiday.
Have a safe and happy Independence Day!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Perfect Summer Popsicles

Houston, we're having a heat wave! It has been in the triple digits the past few days, and today the high is 108. Insanity! Growing up in California, you either opened or closed the windows depending on the temperature, and we thought it was shorts weather when the mid 60's rolled in after a rainy winter. In Boise, the summer comes with a vengeance and anyone without air conditioning (aka Jeff and me) is in big trouble. Our window units weren't ready for use until yesterday, so we've been sweating through the past few days and searching for any relief. Last night, that came in the form of delicious popsicles. My friend sent us these molds as a house warming gift and it was about time we christened them. The great thing about popsicles is that they can be made with pretty much any combination of fruits and they're super easy.

Strawberry Banana Chocolate Popsicles
(Makes 6 pops)

1 ripe banana, diced
10 strawberries, hulled and diced
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons agave or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Blend banana, strawberries, milk, yogurt, sweetener, and vanilla until smooth.
Pour mixture into popsicle molds, leaving 1/4 inch or so on top.
Divide chocolate chips among the molds.
Freeze for four hours or until completely set.