Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: The Dress

The many brides, it is the single most important piece of the wedding puzzle, next to marrying their dream guy, of course. I've been watching wedding shows for years and I've seen girls try on hundreds of dresses, searching for the most perfect one, waiting to have "the feeling," hoping to fulfill their childhood bridal fantasy. I went dress shopping with my mom last year, but I didn't know what I was looking for at the time so it felt more like playing dress up than prepping myself for my moment. After that experience, I guess you could say that I went a less conventional route.

I fell in love with a designer dress online. You'll have to wait until after October 5 to know exactly which one, but it was beautiful, perfect, and way above any amount I would allow myself or anyone who loves me to spend on a dress. So I kept looking, for something similar or something better, but at the end of the day this one just felt right and surpassed all the others, even through my computer screen. After looking at what felt like every single wedding dress on the entire internet, I started to look into custom made dresses. I figured that too would be out of my ballpark, so I was amazed to find multiple dressmakers who could create what I envisioned, on a budget. I read hundreds of reviews and totally freaked myself out about what I was considering doing, and then I found the perfect fit.

I discovered Bridal Bliss Designs on Etsy, but was excited to learn that Erin also had bridal boutique called Truly Bridal in Camdenton, Missouri. I poured over her Etsy page and her website, looking at every dress she has made, reading all of the feedback, checking her reviews on message boards, and Googling for details. Once I felt like I had sufficient information, I reached out to her with pictures of my dream dress and all of the desired changes and updates. We messaged for a few weeks, I sent her measurements, and she got to work. A few months felt like years and the anticipation was almost too much to handle! I would check her Etsy page every couple of days, just to remind myself that other brides had done this and ended up loving and looking amazing in their dresses and even though it was nuts to purchase one sight unseen, I was going to get what I wanted.

Finally, after about seven months, I received my dress last week. It is, in a word, perfect. Amazingly, it fits like a glove, the details are exactly as I described, and the changes are just like I imagined. Erin is clearly an expert and she has the gift to be able to create a dress for a girl she'll never meet, by listening intently and offering great craftsmanship. There was always a little part of me that thought it wouldn't work out and that I'd be shopping for something off the rack six weeks before my wedding day, so I am very happy to be able to fully endorse Erin's work. If any brides out there are looking for a custom made dress on a budget, I would highly recommend Bridal Bliss Designs and would be happy to answer any of your questions!

My dress will grace the blog after the wedding, but until then, here are a few of my favorite Bridal Bliss Designs gowns:

(All images: Bridal Bliss Designs)


Friday, August 23, 2013


Ah, Friday, it is good to see you. This week has been exceptionally busy and I feel like a weekend to rest, catch up, and snuggle with the boys will be just what the doctor ordered. My dad has been taking photographs for longer than I've been alive, and he recently launched a new website. I have always admired his dedication to photography - I haven't loved a hobby so much that I could give to it the patience and care that he does with his pictures. For him, I imagine that it's an escape, a way to connect with people on a different medium, an opportunity to capture a feeling that others would let pass us by. Thinking about his work reminds me to live in the moment, to be present, to appreciate and embrace each little piece of life. I hope you have a lovely weekend! 

(c) Bill Bullard

In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you."


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Our Engagement Shoot

A few weeks ago, Jeff and I spent the evening with Nichole from Ampersand Studios having some engagement pictures taken. We went to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival grounds, which was beautiful and filled with lots of spaces to traipse around and be one with nature. I was pretty nervous as we got ready to go - I'd never had professional photos taken like this and I wasn't sure what to expect - but Nichole made us feel comfortable from the start and was great at directing us and keeping it fun and easy. We happened to get an overcast day and it got dark a little early, but overall we love the pictures and can't wait to use them at the wedding and share them with family and friends!

Engagement shoots are a great idea for many reasons - they help the bride and groom get comfortable being photographed, they can connect the couple to their wedding photographer so that they're that much more at ease on their big day, and they're a great opportunity to get silly and have fun with your future spouse. I highly recommend a photo shoot to anyone on the fence, and Boise brides, check out Ampersand! Here are a few of our favorite shots...


Monday, August 19, 2013

Oh Happy Day

Hello friends! Phew, is life going a mile a minute or is it just me? I can't believe August is halfway over. I've been really busy personally and professionally, hence the lack of blogging (and doing laundry, cooking proper meals, etc), and I'll admit that my stress level hasn't been the most enjoyable to those closest to me. I have the tendency to get in funks when I'm really busy, so today I'm focusing on the positive - my cute boy and pup, crossing things off the work to do list, sunshine, a date with the treadmill, a good book, and little reminders that everything is totally fun and pretty wonderful.

Last weekend, Jeff and I flew to Portland to attend the wedding of one of my besties, Kellie, and her awesome other half, Bryan. The weekend was filled with friends, laughter, fun, food, and witnessing a beautiful couple getting hitched. Kellie is my first close friend to head down the aisle and I introduced her to Bryan, so it made it especially emotional for me. Everything was perfect - rain during the indoor ceremony (it wouldn't be Oregon without it!), a flash mob to Bryan's favorite song, tearful speeches, and lots of dancing. Kellie and Bryan are so in love and they were floating on air throughout the wedding. This is what life is all about - love and joy and being surrounded by lots of people who make each other really happy.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Engagement Shoot and Two Month Countdown!

I cannot believe that our wedding is two months away! It feels like just yesterday that I was laughing and crying while Jeff proposed in the Phoenix airport. On Saturday, we'll celebrate our one year engagement anniversary (that's a thing, right?) and the wedding of one of my college besties. I just love love! Since returning from my brother's nuptials, wedding planning has been in full swing. In the past few weeks we've been collecting RSVPs, researching bands, finalizing flowers and table decor, scheduling hair, nails, and makeup, getting limos and hotel rooms squared away, ordering groomsmen suits, starting preliminary timelines, and writing lots of to do lists. I haven't been able to think of much else outside of work, and I'm getting more and more excited as we get closer. Best of all, this is the month that my dress arrives! Counting down until I see that baby.

Today, we're having an engagement photo shoot with local wedding photographers, Ampersand Studios. They did our friends Sara and Brandon's engagement pictures and will shoot their September wedding, and I think they're the perfect fit for us. They won't be photographing our wedding, but I think it will be a great warm up for the big day and will get us more comfortable being supermodels together. I can't wait to show you the results, but I'll leave you with a few of my favorite pictures from the gals at Ampersand.

(all photographs from the Ampersand Studios Facebook page)


Monday, August 5, 2013

Frenchie Food Files: Coq au Vin

Ok guys, you might as well start calling me Julia Child, because I made some darn good coq au vin! Inspired by my mother and the purchase of chicken thighs, I whipped up the French dish and am here to say that it was absolutely amazing. Best of all, it's not very difficult or time consuming to make, but has all the elevated flavors and plate appeal to make it perfect for your next dinner party. I used a recipe from Cook's Illustrated which adapted the classic dish to modernize it. The recipe gets it down to about an hour, most of which is cooking time (also known as wine drinking time). This is a meal that I'll make again and again and I hope you give it a try!

Coq au Vin, adapted from Cook's Illustrated:
(Recipe serves 4 to 6)

2 cups plus 1 tablespoon red wine (I used a pinot noir)
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
10 sprigs fresh parsley plus 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut in half lengthwise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-2 cups frozen pearl onions
8 ounces mushrooms, quartered with stems removed
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons flour or cornstarch

In a large pan over medium heat, combine 2 cups red wine, chicken broth, parsley sprigs, and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes or until mixture is reduced by 1/3. Discard herbs and set aside wine-broth mixture.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil your Dutch oven over medium heat. Lightly season chicken thighs with salt and pepper and add half the chicken to the Dutch oven. Cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer cooked chicken to a plate and repeat with 1 tablespoon oil and the rest of the chicken.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in your Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When butter is melted, add pearl onions and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds (this will smell incredible). Add tomato paste and flour or corn starch and cook, stirring frequently, until combined, about 1 minute.

Add wine-broth mixture, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cooked chicken. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot and simmer until chicken is tender, about 25 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Transfer chicken to a large bowl (try not to eat it all). Increase heat to medium-high and simmer until sauce is thickened and measures about 3 1/2 cups. Remove from heat, stir in reserved 1 tablespoon wine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return chicken to pot. Top with minced parsley and devour immediately. This can be served over rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes. I made mine with brown rice and sauteed spinach.

*I've been drinking lots of rosé this summer, especially from the South of France. This meal pairs amazingly with a cold glass of dry rosé. A few of my favorite labels: La Vielle Ferme, Menage a Trois, Chateau Guiot.