Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Getting In and Around the Indian Ocean

One of the most fun parts of any wedding is that after an amazing day with those nearest and dearest, you head off into into the sunset on what could be the most amazing trip ever.  Nick and I decided to go a little crazy and planned a trip of the lifetime - to the Maldives and Dubai!

For Nick and I, we took off out of Boston for JFK where we spent the night at the Hampton Inn, ensuring we would not miss our flight for Dubai the next morning at 10:40am.  This plan seemed very smart during the bookings when we thought that New Years meant extreme cold with the possibility of ice and snow!  Little did we know that that would so NOT be an issue this year!  Nevertheless, after an anxious sleep we awoke and arrived at the Emirates Air terminal of JKF.  After waiting in line, negotiating for an upgrade (didn't happen), and some major suitcase shuffling (only 15 pounds for a carry-on!) we were checked in and ready to head through security.

Emirates Check-in Counter
While we did not get the upgrade, we did have a pretty good entertainment system that had plenty to keep us busy for the eleven and a half hour flight to Dubai.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Brunch at 75 Chestnut

As people who read this blog know, I am a huge fan of 75 Chestnut; it's a real Beacon Hill neighborhood bar (what Cheer's is thought to be...and isn't).  Nick and I frequent 75 Chestnut because it is right around the corner and always has delicious food.  Sometimes, though, a really good brunch is even better than dinner!  Lucky for us, 75 Chestnut has just that.  So, one lazy Sunday morning, Nick and I rolled out of bed and down the street to indulge.  To begin, we each had a cup of coffee, and totally took advantage of the "bottomless cup" idea.

Good Cup of Coffee
For any Bloody Mary lovers out there, 75 Chestnut has a Bloody Mary bar with more infused vodkas, additives and garnishes that you can imagine.  Nick decided to go with a kalamata olive vodka and loads of horseradish and blue cheese stuffed olives.  As a non-Bloody person (as much as I wished I was), a good piece of celery makes it just so much better looking.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Willowdale - Drinks and Some Food (of course)

Nick and I knew, only a few short months into dating, that neither of us wanted a full sit down dinner at our wedding.  Instead, we wanted people to be up and moving around dancing and drinking the night away.  People were not going to starve - rather, we wanted a few stations and a bunch of passed hors d'oeuvres.

Knowing we would be having a full open bar I wanted to make sure people had plenty of yummy food that would set a good base for all the drinks to come.  During our cocktail hour we had 4 passed dishes ranging from twice baked potatoes to pecan crusted chicken tenders with a maple dipping sauce.  During the actual reception we had two passed dishes: a scallop wrapped in bacon and a lobster roll (I mean, we were in Massachusetts!)  In addition to the passed dishes we had a station of 4 different types of sliders, which should come as no surprise considering the slight obsession I have with burgers!  The sliders included straight hamburgers and cheeseburgers, as well as tuna and pulled pork sliders.   Finally, an hour after cake, the servers brought grilled cheese around as a nice little (almost) midnight snack!  All of the food was beyond delicious and I can say that from first-hand knowledge because I actually ate!  Willowdale was fantastic about bringing food directly to Nick and I throughout the evening.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cootie Catcher Wedding Programs

There are a number of wedding details that you don't really think about at the start but slowly realize you need to have.  One of those is wedding programs.  I suppose you could not have them, but they give the guests a chance to learn who the attendants are, who the officiant is, what the songs or readings are and other fun detail.  However, these last minute details can get expensive (as we learned, all wedding paper products are!)  Once again, most of the photos are from our amazing photographer, Holly Redmond.

Cootie Cather Programs
We initially thought about more traditional programs, but during some of my many nights of wedding internet searching,  I stumbled upon these really fun cootie catcher programs - as in the same cootie catchers you would play with in elementary school.  Kat's Kraft's was just too much fun to pass up.  I estimated the price of these and realized that it would be significantly cheaper to do these than other types of programs.  When I initially contacted Kat, I gave her an outline of our program information, chose some colors and paper, and sent her the proof of our invitation for color and font styles.  In a few hours she came back with a price estimate and we were set.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Let Them Eat Cake! Wedding Cake that is ;)

When you book a wedding at Willowdale, a cake from Konditor Meister comes included.  Most people would be psyched by this, and their cakes look beautiful, but Nick and I are (sadly) not huge fans of their cake.  Having grown up on the North Shore, I am a BIG fan of Cakes for Occasions, a local cake shop in Danvers center.  Nick had never tasted Cakes for Occasions, but I promised him it was delicious and that their butter cream was one of the best!  So, when the tasting day came, I was almost nervous that I over-sold the cake, but after selecting about 10 pieces for us to try I knew I should not have been worried.  Each piece was just as delicious as I remembered.

Wedding Cake!
One of the things I would suggest registering for is a cake serving set - that is unless you already have one.  I got one at my bridal shower and was sure to bring it to use at the wedding.  It seemed fitting to use it for the first time at our own wedding.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Flowers for a wedding

Bride's Bouquet
With weddings, flowers are a major concern for some people.  For me, I obviously wanted flowers (nice ones at that) but I did not want to break the bank on them - I spent extra on the dress!  Having helped a few friends plan their wedding, I knew an important factor that went a long way was using a florist who is familiar with the venue.  So when I got the list from Willowdale, I started looking at the various websites to get a better feel for the florists while keeping in mind overall pricing.  My first appointment was with Fiddlehead in Salem, MA, followed by one other.  I brought my mom to both appointments because she is so much better at flowers than I am - and I needed another opinion!  Again, the photos are mostly from Holly Redmond.

Part of my flower dilemma was that I did not know what I really wanted.  I was going with eggplant purple as an accent color along with some moss green and chocolate brown, but that was about it.  To further complicate things, it was New Year's Eve - what flowers are "in season" then?!?  After going through a number of ideas and starting to figure out what what I did and did not want (more of the latter than the former), the appointments ended and my mom and I went on our merry ways and awaited the estimate.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Dress and Accessories!

For me, one of the things I was most looking forward to with the wedding planning was dress shopping.  I love dresses - in general they are my go-to clothing choice.  So getting to choose a big fancy dress for my wedding seemed like so much fun.  However, it actually was more of a high pressure process than anything else!  It's a big decision to make, and an expensive one at that!  Note that all pictures are from my fantastic photographer, Holly Redmond.
The Dress!

After only two appointments at Priscilla of Boston and L'elite with a very small entourage (my mom and one friend) we made the big decision.  The extra push came a lot easier because Priscilla was having a 20% off sale that ended two days later, and I did not want to miss that.  Even more of a sign was the dress I bought was one that I had seen in Priscilla when I was in the store when another friend was trying on dresses over a year earlier!  I knew the straps would prevent me from hauling up the dress the entire night and a bit of comfort was going to be key.

Top Close Up
This was not a outdoor summer dress.  With its crystal and pearl beading on top and the heavy skirt on the bottom it was going to be perfect for a New Year's Eve wedding.  I knew the top of the dress was going to glitter perfectly in all the candle light at Willowdale, which allows open flame.

When it came to all the accessories I was not totally sure what I wanted.  To start, I knew for shoes I wanted something a bit over-the-top and fun.  I am a huge shoe fan, so I used my wedding as an excuse to buy some that were totally crazy.  When I found some purple glitter heels in Palm Beach I knew they were the ones.  Purple was the accent color for the wedding so it did fit in somewhere.  That, and unless I was pulling up my dress you could not even see my shoes.

Shoes and Veil
For headpieces I was at a loss - I knew I did not want a long veil (it just would not work indoors, and I could see myself getting hung up on corners), but I did not know what I wanted.  After loads of internet searching (Etsy if perfect for this!), I decided I would go with a small birdcage veil for the ceremony, and then get a bit crazy for the actual reception.  After trolling Etsy for what seemed like weeks, not wanting to press the submit button, I stumbled upon Michele Woodford from ifanhour who seemed to have the perfect veil for me - in ivory with small crystal accents (I needed to balance the sparkle!).  I will say, it took all four of my bridesmaids to put this veil on properly, but the end result worked out so well.  They wanted to make sure there was just a little coverage for my face to provide a hint of mystery.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

While on my honeymoon, there was a lot of time to enjoy the hot sun and listen to the waves gently crashing to the shore.  Knowing I had 10 days and nights of relaxation, I loaded my Kindle with plenty of reading material.  I must say, this is the best part of having a Kindle: rather than squeezing 6 (or 10, just in case) books in my suitcase, I was able to just download 12 books (can you tell I was concerned about running out?) and slide my kindle into my carry-on bag.  I tried to balance the selection between some real "chick lit" and some with a bit of a literary impact.  One of the many downloads was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which satisfied a bit of the fanciful and literary sides of things. 
The Night Circus from
The Night Circus opens with a bet between two skilled illusionists that (at some point) will pit their students, Celia and Marco, against each other to determine the better illusionist.  While this sounds straight forward, that could not be less of the case.  In fact, the bet has bound the students to each to other as well as to the bet itself.  What neither students know is that the battle continues until one of them dies.  After many years of preparation, the competition starts when a circus, crafted by the two masters, that travels the world and is only open at night, setting the perfect stage for the competition.

The characters in this book, including the circus itself, seemed to come alive off of the pages.  Morgenstern described everything with such detail and colorful language that it was as though I was actually in attendance, walking through the various circus tents and seeing the illusions with the crowd.  As the circus continues, both of the competitors "create" new tents with fantastical illusions in an effort to win the bet.  However, as the circus continues and the illusions get more intricate, Celia and Marco fall for each other in spite of the game and their mentors instructions otherwise.  The bet, bound to the competitors, is one that must be played out - there is no way to end it without the death of one side.  Together, Celia and Marco must work together to save their lives and the lives of those in the circus.

This was a truly magical read that made me want to go to the circus immediately, even though I knew it could not come close to how special the circus in the book is.  This was such a rich read and I could not get enough.  I would highly recommend The Night Circus!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wedding Invitations - Wading Through the Masses

After Nick and I had finally sent out our Save the Dates, it was time to start cracking down on the actual wedding invitations.  We did not have a whole suite of invitations planned for our wedding.

The plan was to be a bit more fun with the Save the Dates and then keep it classy for the invitations.  While we wanted to evoke some of the magic forest feeling of Willowdale, it was tough!  For cost reasons we had no intention of doing letterpress invitations - digital printing was fine by us.  However, we still wanted the invitation to look expensive, even if it wasn't letterpress expensive.

We paged through numerous magazines and websites to try to get ideas, and popped into more than a few stores.  In trying to evoke the spirit of winter/New Year's Eve it is easy to get kitschy quickly, and finding the right balance was hard.  At first we thought we had found a couple options that would work, but after sleeping on it they just were not the right look.  Then when we had found a few a few options we liked the look of, we ordered samples and realized the quality was not cutting it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Asian Meatballs

A while ago, Blog is the New Black had a guest post from Innocent Indulgences for Asian Meatballs.  Shortly thereafter, when I was at a loss for what to make for a weeknight meal, I stumbled across this dish - problem solved.

Asian Meatballs
This meatball is very adaptable, but I stuck to the inspiration recipe.  Here are the main necessities...

Griddlers and "Cougar Town" Viewing Party

This past Friday night was a bit different for Nick and I because we got to hang out with some famous people!  We are big fans of the show Cougar Town and in an effort to promote the show the cast and producers have been putting on viewing parties in major cities across the country (on their dime, not the studios').  So when Nick saw a tweet about tickets for the Boston event, he emailed and we were in!  Even better, stars from the show actually showed up!  Below is a picture of us with Ian Gomez, formerly of Felicity fame.

Hanging out with Ian Gomez
However, before heading over to the viewing party (at the The Greatest Bar) we needed to grab a bite to eat - there was going to be free booze, so we needed a good base to start the evening!  I had been wanting to try the new burger place in town, Griddler's Burgers and Dogs, which was right on our way, so it seemed like the perfect time to stop in for a bite.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Nutty Irishman

When Nick and I went to Sunday River last winter for a weekend getaway I was craving the drink I always get slope-slide - the Nutty Irishman - but for some reason it was not on the menu!  I was a bit crushed, wondering if I had just dreamed about this drink as it had been a few years since I had it.  However, one night I saw it on the bar menu as we were on our way out the door (of course!) and noted the ingredients for later.

Naturally, travelling through New Hampshire, a stop at the State Liquor Store is a must!  If you haven't made the trip across the border - go, its totally worth it.  Nick and I walked out with just about every liquor they had, including Bailey's and Frangelico for the sole purpose of making some Nutty Irishman.  This past weekend when Nick and I were home prepping the food for the Superbowl, we decided to break out the ingredients and dress up our coffee a bit - Sunday Funday, right?

The Ingredients
The Necessities...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

LaLa Rokh - A Different Beacon Hill Flavor

A little while ago (as in pre-wedding!) my mom and I were running some wedding errands and ended up back in Beacon Hill right around dinner time, so Nick and I took my mom out for dinner.  Since we normally take her to 75 ChestnutParamount, or The Bistro, we decided to switch things up and went to Lala Rokh.  This Eastern Mediterranean restaurant is tucked up in the garden level of a lovely brownstone on Mt. Vernon St.  Nick and I had been there once before and really enjoyed the different flavors and had been looking for a reason to head back.

While there is a small bar at the front of the restaurant, we were immediately brought back to the dining room (it was a bit on the earlier side) and started to review the drink menu.  With some fun cocktails on their list, my mom and I had to indulge.  They were delicious and just what we needed after a day of running around.  However, I cannot remember the ingredients and there does not seem to be a cocktail list online.  Regardless - its worth a trip for a cocktail!

While we were enjoying our pre-dinner drinks, we dove right into the bread that was accompanied by some hummus.  It was so flavorful that I was just scooping heaps of it onto the bread, which only ended up being a tool to get more hummus into my mouth.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Best Party Salsa!

Whenever Nick and I have people over we don't have sit-down dinners due to size constrictions in our apartment.  Also, the fact that we have no dining room table might have something to do with it!  Therefore, all of our parties are more of a cocktail style where you can help yourself to a variety of food and drink options.  One staple we always have, no matter the party, is chips and salsa.  My friend L brought over a dressed-up salsa once and we were hooked.  So when it was Super Bowl time, this salsa was obviously something we wanted to serve.

I believe the recipe comes from Green Mountain Gringo.  The Necessities (with the proportions adapted for our tastes)....

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lunch at B&G Oysters

After all of the wedding celebrations and I had finally returned to work, my co-workers decided to continue the celebration with a lovely ladies-who-lunch style outing.  When given a list of amazing choices, B&G Oysters stood out, and I jumped at the chance to go back after having an amazing dinner there over a year a go.

B&G Oysters is tucked into a garden level corner brownstone in the South End.  While the restaurant is below ground, the bright blue and stainless interior make it feel bright and vibrant.  There are only a few high tops surrounding the massive bar, with loads of seats that have a perfect view of the raw bar and kitchen so you can watch the chefs in action.

Monday, February 6, 2012

At Least There Was Good Food....

In the wake of last night's depressing outcome, the one thing I will be focusing on is the delicious food Nick and I spent the day preparing.  One of the fun reasons to have some friends over for the Super Bowl is the excuse to prepare some dishes you probably would not otherwise prepare!  So, for the past two weeks I was trolling the internet looking for some inspiration dishes and came up with the following (forgive my Instagram obsession)...

First up was a Cheesey Pepperoni Pull Apart Bread that I adapted from Jen's Cheesey Mushroom Bread, as I have a friend who is not a mushroom fan.  This recipe was easy to pull together and very satisfying to put on the table with the "ooo's" and "ahh's" it received.  With its adaptability to almost anything this will quickly become a go-to appetizer.

Cheesey Pepperoni Pull Apart Bread
Next up was Megan's Buffalo Chicken Stromboli, adapted to add a lot more heat!  I doubled the amount of Frank's Red Hot and allowed the shredded chicken to sit in all of the sauce not taken up during the sauteing to make sure all the chicken was sufficiently ready to burn tongues!  If that were not enough, I picked up this great buffalo Cheddar at Whole Foods that even had bits of jalapenos added to it!  Needless to say the Stromboli had plenty of bite - good thing we had friends over who love spice as much as Nick and I do.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Forum Burger

Last week I found myself attempting to get back into the swing of things, and well, it was not working as well as I thought (in my mind I was still in the Indian Ocean!)  Luckily I had some fun things I had to do along the way, like go to a Junior League committee meeting.  While a previous meeting introduced me to the Power Hour at Morton's, I was happy to find myself back at ForumForum is still a relatively new addition to the Back Bay scene, but with the major renovations done to the space that used to be Vox Populi, (spoiler alert!) I highly recommend stopping by and checking it out.

This time around we were seated downstairs and ordered off of Forum's extensive bar/bistro menu that had many interesting looking dishes.  However, being me, the minute I saw the burger it seemed like a burger type of night.  Forum's burger is made with bone marrow, pancetta, Swiss cheese, Dijon and house made pickles.  With all of these fun ingredients, how could I choose sanything else?!?

The Burger

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Chocolate Coconut Caramel Pretzel Bark

At work, I am in a very small department - only about 7 people - so at the holidays we don't hold a big office party.  Instead, we started doing a cookie swap, which is a good way to indulge for the holidays and also put together a fun gift for all of the security guards and parking attendants and all of the others in our building to help make things easier.  However, this year the cookie swap was on the Wednesday of a very busy week, so I was at a bit of a loss when trying to decide what to make.  I refused to buy something pre-made but it almost came to that!

Instead, I remembered a recipe I spotted on Pinterest that was for a pretzel bark, which required very little cooking, so at 9:00pm on Tuesday night I started to put this recipe together and was "done" by 9:20.

To get started, I put together my ingredients to make sure I had everything I needed - it was too late to get started only to be missing something important!

The Ingredients

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