Add Bling to Your Bouquet

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wedding rings aren't the only type of bling at weddings these days. A recent trend among brides is to add crystals or rhinestones to your bouquet for an extra bit of sparkle and flare. Like most jewelry, these funky additions come in all different styles to fit your wedding theme, formality and colors. Add a rhinestone starfish, sandal or palm tree to your pre-vow swapping arm candy for a wedding by the sea. A pretty bumblee might be the perfect addition for a spring or summer bride, and crystal snowflakes will add a dash of elegance for wintertime nuptials. Bouquet jewelry also comes in monogram-style letters so that brides can make their bouquets truly unique! If you just want to add a bit of subtle shine, go for simple rhinestone or pearl studs. 

Faux diamonds come in all different colors 
to match the colors you have selected.

This little bumblebee is a fun accessory 
for spring or summer brides!

Check out the High Society Buckle for a quick dash of 
elegance that can be added to any hand-tied bouquet.

All photos courtesy of Bouquet Jewels.

Penalty Flag-Free Football Food

Thursday, January 29, 2009

With the Superbowl quickly approaching, you may soon find yourself hosting a football party or bringing a dish to watch the big game with friends and family. While your team's performance can't be guaranteed, you can ensure that the food you prepare falls nothing short of fabulous. 

In addition to traditional football food, I included some Southwest flavors as well as Pittsburgh favorites in a glimpse at my line-up for the evening:

For the Pre-Game Show: 

With yummy creamy avacado, black-eyed peas, tomato, corn and smokey cilantro, this colorful twist on traditional chips and salsa is sure to add some spice to your fiesta right out of the gate. Pair this personal favorite of mine with warmed Tostitos Gold tortilla chips for a hearty Tex-Mex taste.

Photo Source:

For the Main Event:

Pittsburgh Salad
If you're from Pittsburgh or know anything about the city's cuisnary culture, then you know Pittsburgers like to eat some rather unique foods. Not only did they invent their own style of cooking steaks, but they also like ketchup a little too much (only Heinz of course), and french fries are practically a food group. In fact, call them crazy, but they like french fries so much that they eat them on everything, including salads and sandwiches.   

Pittsburgh Salad
Photo Source: Annie Mentzer

Any good Pittsburgh salad has to have cheese (provolone typically, sometimes cheddar), steak, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, onions and ranch dressing in addition to the french fries...oh and of course the lettuce!

BBQ Cups

Simple to make and budget-friendly, BBQ Cups are a delicious treat made of flakey Hungry Jack biscuits, brown sugar BBQ sauce-soaked lean ground beef topped with cheddar cheese. This clever finger-friendly food can be baked in muffin tins. 

BBQ Cups
Photo Source: The Cutting Edge of Ordinary

For the Health-Conscious
If you're looking for healthy snacks to make for Sunday instead of traditional football food, Health has a great online article written with you in mind! 

If You're Playing Host
There's an excellent post on Rachael Ray's blog with fun tips for hosts and hostesses. My favorite recommedation? Go to to order personalized guest invitations that look like authentic sports tickets. 

Create fun ticket-style invitations for your guests.
Photo Source: Rachael Ray

So let the games (in and out of the kitchen) begin! Go Steelers!

A Treasure Map for Winos

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

If you're a wine lover (AKA wino), then it's time you meet Dr. Vino. Also known as Tyler Colman, Dr. Vino pretty much has the coolest job in the world; he teaches, talks about and tastes wine for a living. As a professor at NYU and the University of Chicago, he tastes about 2,000 wines a year (an average of almost 6 wines per day)!

But what makes Dr. Vino especially cool isn't just the fact that he's authored two books about wine and has been featured in the New York Times. What truly makes him fabulous in my opinion is that he shares his wealth of knowledge as a wine expert on his blog that's choc full of fabulous wine tips, featured picks and, to my particular delight, wine maps!

A treasure map for winos and travel enthusiasts alike, Dr. Vino's wine maps unlock a realm of delicious possibilities just waiting to be discovered! While the maps are made with Google Maps, don't be fooled by their seemingly simple appearance.

A Parisian Wine Map

Take note of the different colors for each destination. Red points of interest are favorite bars while purple ones are wine bars that also sell bottles to go. The green points of interest are new destinations that bear some attention while the blues are "tried-and-trues."

If you click on each of the dozens of pushpins featured on each wine map, the name and address will pop up in addition to colorful facts, Web sites and phone numbers. With major metropolises such as New York City, Chicago, Paris and LA currently featured on Dr. Vino's list of wine maps, I'm hopeful that this list will continue to grow! Until then, Dr. Vino has plenty of "study material" for me to peruse on his blog. 

Crazy for Cava

Monday, January 26, 2009

From my travel experiences, some of the best finds are often off the beaten path, tucked away like hidden diamonds in the rough. Such was the case with Can Paixano in Barcelona, Spain. Although unmarked from the street, this wild and locally-loved cava bar is easy to find if you let your ears lead the way. 

The scene inside Can Paixano is always bustling.

Known as "The Champagne Bar" (cava is Spanish for champagne), Can Paixano is a small, rustic bar decorated in true Spanish style with large dried ham hocks hanging from the ceiling and towers of cava stocked on the shelves along with other assorted ingredients and goods.   

Located in the old fisherman district near some of the city's most popular public beaches, Can Paixano is just a short distance from the Barceloneta metro stop. Plan to arrive early in the evening, as the bar tends to fill up by 7 p.m. leaving little room for standing, let alone squeezing your way to the counter to place your order. Being elbow-to-elbow with strangers in this rambunctious atmosphere is just half of the fun.  And the other half? Two words: cheap champagne. 

Can Paixano Cava comes in five varieties.

With the most expensive bottle ringing in at a little more than five euros, Can Paixano cava is easy on the wallet but not lacking in taste. Unlike many cheap American champagnes that can carry sickly sweet intonations, their cava is dry and delicious coming in several varieties to choose from including selecto (select), rosado (pink), cava extra (semi-dry), brut (dry) and brut nature (dry natural). 

Don't expect to buy by the glass either. Their cava is most-often sold by the bottle, and it's compulsory that you purchase two sandwiches with each bottle of cava that you order. My Spanish equivalent of a ham and cheese sandwich turned out to be quite tasty, although be forewarned their cheese selection includes a few fragrant ones, in case this isn't your preference. If you find yourself on a second bottle of cava, I recommend trying out one of their desserts. 

In other words of wisdom to be shared with all who intend to make an evening visit to Can Paixano, remember the following:

• Politeness doesn't pay. Be prepared to use elbows to make your way through the crowd to the prized counter spots near the bar. If you're able to snag this space, be prepared to fight to keep your spot. 
• Use the restroom before entering the bar.
• Stay close to whoever you're with so that you don't get separated in the mob. 
• There's probably an 80 percent chance you'll have to shout your order. Even if you only have a very basic knowledge of Spanish, you should be able to communicate your order (i.e., Necessito una botella cava selecto con dos bocadillos de jambon y camembert por favor.) If all else fails, just make a drinking motion and point to the cava (expect to be laughed at if it comes to this). 
• The Spanish word for toast is Salud! Quite literally this means "health" or drinking to your health.
• While Can Paixano closes at 10:30 p.m., plenty of beach bars and clubs are close by so you can continue your festivities unfettered. At 10 or 11 p.m., many people in the city are just finishing their dinner and are starting the night, which means that it's not uncommon for Spanish clubs to stay open until 5 a.m. or even 8 a.m. before partiers head home from the fiesta in hopes of catching a later siesta.

Let Them Eat Cake

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What could be more sweet than eating delicious desserts for a great cause? 

Bake-Me-A-Wish offers decadent cakes in more than 15 flavors, hand-prepared by an award-winning family bakery in NYC. With yummy flavors like Triple Chocolate Enrobed Brownie Cake and Cafe au Lait Cheesecake, their desserts are great for any occasion!  From anniversaries to birthdays and other festivities, Bake-Me-A-Wish covers the gamut with their celebration-specific Belgian chocolate decorative plaques on each of their cakes (with the exception of their coffee cakes). Add special occasions, and friend and family member's birthdays to their calendar widget for annual reminders to place your order. 

Five percent of Bake-Me-A-Wish's annual sales goes to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of very ill children. Operation Birthday Cake, another philanthropic undertaking of BMAW, is a program with the mission to send gourmet cakes to US soldiers stationed overseas. Check out their Military Cakes section of the site for more details on how you can make your heart and your mouth happy at all once.  

Divorce Yourself from the "Bride Diet"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

With my newly engaged status, I've been the target of a great deal of wedding marketing and advertising. One common theme that I've found not only in ads, but also in wedding magazines and blogs is the widespread acceptance and promotion of bride dieting and weightloss. Even, one of my favorite recipe sources, featured a recent posting on their blog titled "Eat Like a Bride"

While this post was more positive and a bit more healthy than some of the other suggestions I found, I'm still disturbed by the implication that women should lose weight before their wedding. Obviously your significant other is in love with who you are just the way you are (if not, you may want to reconsider this whole marriage thing), so why would you feel compelled to change yourself for him or her? And don't you have enough to focus your time and energy on before the wedding without worrying about losing weight?

Instead of putting pressure on yourself to lose weight, why don't you and your betrothed make a pledge to be healthy together as long as you both shall live? Encourage each other to take on more healthy habits and lifestyles because you love each other and want to grow old together. 

What more appropriate time is there to make a commitment to be more heart healthy? 

• Start by cutting bad fats and empty calories out of your diet and opt for heavy fruit and veggie-heavy diet (five to nine servings per day). Also be sure to eat high-fiber foods, whole grains, lean meats, nuts,  poultry and fish. Just because you're modifying your diet doesn't mean you have to lose out on flavor and favorites. Check out my earlier "Go French" for the New Year post to see how. 
• Why not take the opportunity to cook some heart-healthy dishes with your sweetie?  Check out the American Heart Association's Delicious Decisions online database of mouthwatering recipes including Greek-Style Chicken with Lemon-Pistachio Rice and Peachy Stuffed French Toast
• Find a fitness activity you and your squeeze enjoy doing together and make a weekly plan.  Try your hand at tennis, racquetball, biking, running or any other sport that you both enjoy (and no, channel surfing doesn't count). 
• Find a local gym that has perks for you both so that he can hit the weights while you participate in a group fitness class.  
• If you are going to lose weight for your wedding, lose it the healthy way, which means slowly. Don't lose more than 10 pounds per month. Be sure to leave plenty of time to have your dress altered appropriately so that it fits you correctly when the big day comes!

A more fun and practical way to feel confident and beautiful on your wedding day is to simply find a dress that flatters your figure. Check out the knot's dress shopping guide to find out what your body type is and to see pictures of gowns that best fit your build. 

Just remember, there's no need to go to bridal boot camp to look and feel good for your wedding day!

A Glass Castle in the Snow

Saturday, January 17, 2009

While many people enjoy traveling south during the winter to seek out warmer temperatures in more tropical climates, for an adventurous few, ice and snow is their calling. 

Perhaps this is why the Ice Hotel, a luxury facility made entirely of ice and snow, has become an international destination and phenomena, leading to the building of other ice hotels in Canada, Romania and across Scandinavia.

A room inside the Ice Hotel

Architecturally and logistically, the Ice Hotel is simply remarkable. Each year in the little village of Jukkasjârvi in northern Lapland, Sweden, 5,000 tons of ice and 30,000 cubic meters of snow are used to create the majestic structure. The building of the hotel, which changes in design and architecture every year, takes about six to seven weeks, depending on the weather. Building begins in November and is complete in December, which is when the Ice Hotel opens. Overnight visitors can stay in the Ice Hotel until temperatures begin to rise in April and early May, when it  begins to melt and returns to the Torne River, which is the source of the ice and snow the hotel is made of.

In addition to the more than 80 rooms that make up the hotel's structure, it also includes the Absolut Ice Bar, an outdoor entertainment arena and an ice chapel where couples from around the world come to be joined in matrimony. Saunas and the Ice Hotel Restaurant are considerably warmer than the 18 to 23 degrees Fahrenheit interior of the hotel, giving guests a chance to warm up during their stay, although entrees served at the restaurant are elegantly served on plates of ice.

The Ice Chapel

The Ice Hotel recommends staying one night in their cold accommodations to fully experience this frozen wonder of the world, but also to spend one to two nights in warm accommodations such as a Scandinavian style Kaamos hotel room, Nordic hotel chalet or their Northern Lights hotel chalet.

You might be wondering how people are able to spend the night in such a cold place, especially when the beds are made of ice! Well, the beds, which have a thick mattress, are covered with reindeer skin and then each guest is given a thermal sleeping bag that can protect in up to -13 degree weather. This may keep you warm while you're inside the Ice Hotel, but beware that outside of the icy walls, temperatures can reach 50 degrees below during the winter months. The Ice Hotel has an entire page of recommendations of what clothing to pack for your stay, but they do provide each guest with outerwear including snowmobile overalls, a hat, mittens and winter boots. 

The activities the Ice Hotel offers vary from snowmobile outings to skiing, ice sculpting, dog-sledding and reindeer sleigh rides. Other excursions include ice fishing, hunting and even a  3-course starlit wilderness dinner where, if you're lucky, you'll get to see the mystical Northern Lights dancing in the sky. 

The Northern Lights

For more information on this enchanting glass castle in the snow, check out this clip from a National Geographic special on the Ice Hotel, or visit their Web site at to learn more about this intriguing, one-of-a-kind travel experience.

Soap that Ain't on a Rope

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Attention all travelholics, there's a new hot list for your carry-on. Introducing the shampoo bar, an item that's sure to pass the ever-changing standards for liquid and gel carry-on toiletries. Try Burt's Bees Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar or a Jojoba Shampoo Bar from Herbaria. According to, shampoo bars also can be great for bathing, shaving and doing hand laundry. In particular, the all-natural Jojoba Bar received glowing reviews, and the site attributes these success stories to a not-so-secret ingredient, jojoba. Jojoba is a natural oil that can be nourishing and moisturizing, particularly for dry hair, which means that you can leave the conditioner at home.

Check out their other fun soap "flavors" while you're on their site. From "Triple Mint Oatmeal" to  "Avocado Lemon" and "Licorice" to "Black Forest Chamomile," Herbaria has more options than a Baskin Robbins!

Still not sold on purchasing shampoo that's in a bar and not in a bottle? Try out a sample bar from Chagrin Valley Soap and Crafts. The site has a few interesting bars including Café Moreno, a bar with "quadruple-strength fresh-brewed coffee" for rich and shiny hair for brunettes (think the natural, travel-saavy version of John Frieda's Brilliant Brunette) and a Honey Beer and Egg bar. It may sound strange, but how often do you give your coif a protein cocktail like this? Learn more about what shampoo bars are best for your hair type, or check out the site's helpful Frequently Asked Questions page.
Shampoo bars are also great for outdoorsy gals, so consider having one on hand the next time you're roughing it in the woods. Regardless of your final destination, if you pack a shampoo bar, you'll be sure to receive ooo la la's instead of eww la la's.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

One fun new trend at wedding receptions is renting a photo booth for friends and family to squeeze into and snap pictures and poses to commemorate the special occasion. This idea really seems to have been a hit at many weddings for a number of reasons. Not only does the booth provide entertainment for guests, but also the photos can be used to create a nice keepsake for the bride and groom. 

Add some spice to a traditional sign-in guestbook by having guests add their newly-snapped photos into the book along with their names. By the end of the reception, the couple will have an ensemble of pictures of everyone who attended. Alternately, the guests will have fun print-outs to keep and remember your wedding by. I've also heard of newlyweds sending out the photos from the reception to attendees along with their thank you notes, which I think can also be a nice touch not only to thank guests but also to remind them of all the fun they had at your reception!

Some important things to keep in mind if you decide to rent a photo booth for your special day:
  • Price: photo booths can get pricey, but many vendors, such as Shutterfly, have customizable options where you can negotiate price based on number of hours needed, whether or not the booth is staffed, how many prints you receive, etc. I've heard that ShutterBooth is on the more reasonable end of the photobooth price spectrum offering packages in the $900 range although I'm not sure what this bride's photo package included. I've read about other photobooths costing up to $1,500. Be sure to negotiate each part of your package with the vendor so that you know exactly what is included.
  • Quality: not only is the quality of the camera and camera shot here important, but so is the quality of the photo printer, the paper the photo is printed on and, last but not least, the outer appearance of the photo booth and how this will blend in with your decorations, particularly since you'll want the photo booth to be located somewhere with easy access for guests so they don't forget to have their picture taken.   
  • Size: there is an argument to be made that "bigger is better," although half the fun with photo booths is seeing how many people you can squeeze in to fit in the picture. Some photo booths can fit 2. Some can fit 10. Think about how many people you expect to attend your reception and how many realistically will be taking their picture at the same time. Also, many photo booths can be very heavy, so size and weight will also be factors in the placement of your photo booth.
Check out Project Wedding's Photo Booth Rental Guide for more tips on renting a photo booth, and also visit for a full list of questions to ask when selecting a vendor.

If you're feeling creative and budget saavy, you could opt to create your own "photo booth" like recent bride and talented textile designer, Lena Corwin. Tack up some pretty prints, strike a pose and simply smile for the camera! Read more about Corwin's hit DIY "photo booths" in this Glamour article.

Your guests will have fun posing in front of fresh, coloful prints, and your wallet will also thank you! Offer a props box for guaranteed extra laughs.

Too Hot to Handle

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Layla Grayce apron is all you need to turn up the heat in the kitchen! With a fabulous lineup of fun colors and feisty styles, you're sure to look make a splash along with whatever dish you're preparing. My favorites included the floral lime green and brown Amelia Clementine Chocolate Apron and matching mit or the more feminine Jessie Steele Paris Pink set
Amelia Clementine Chocolate Apron

Paris Pink Apron

For a Bohemian look, try the Michelle Hostess Apron with lace trim that's a blue and white fitted halter with layers and layers of ruffles. Feeling sweet? The Jessie Steele Cupcakes Apron might be for you. For a more sassy Desperate Housewives look, try the Jessie Steele leopard pink print apron with a pink trim.

Michelle Hostess Apron with Lace Trim

To see the whole Layla Grayce collection, visit her site at 

Save the Date

I am thrilled to announce that Kris and I have set a date! Mark your calendars for June 11, 2011 because it's going to be quite a celebration! Now that we have the "when" figured out, the where is the next piece on our list. 

While originally I thought for sure we would get married in Chapel Hill, now we're considering other options like Charleston, Asheville or even the beach. And then there's the possibility of a destination wedding, which would be really fun but naturally would limit the number of people who would be able to attend. I really could picture us getting married in so many different places that it's hard even to narrow down the possibilities (Okay, Las Vegas is a no go, so we can mark that one off of the list). 

The good news is that we have plenty of time to make all of these decisions together to make sure that our wedding day is perfect in every way!

Hot Ingredient: Hazelnuts

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hazelnuts are an excellent cooking ingredient because of their heart-healthy benefits and their delicious and unique nutty taste. While many recipes call for other nuts such as pecans, walnuts and almonds, hazelnuts aren't often something you'll find on your ingredient list, although this seems to be changing with their rising popularity.

         Triple Hazelnut Cheesecake

Hazelnuts are a very tasty addition to many desserts, especially chocolate. If you ever tasted a Ferrero Rocher or even Nutella , then you've experienced the unique flavor combination of a sweet, rich chocolate with salty hazelnuts. The Triple Hazelnut Cheesecake recipe from captures this pairing in light-on-the-calories concoction that has received an outstanding taste rating by reviewers. The combination of chopped hazelnuts, Frangelico and Nutella give this dessert a triple-packed punch of hazelnuts to make this recipe a  healthy, sweet treat.

Hazelnuts are also great served in fruit and veggie dishes. Try the Cranberry Hazelnut Coffee Cake as a yummy breakfast dish or Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Hazelnut topping as a side dish with dinner. If you're looking to take a walk on the wild side, try out Hazelnut Hummus with baked pita chips for a healthy snack.

                          Hazelnut Hummus

As a versatile ingredient that can added to a number of dishes, hazelnuts are a great source of protein, vitamins and folate, which has been proven to reduce risks for cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's and depression. As the most heart-healthy nut, hazelnuts will be a great addition to any dish you make!

For Whom the Bellini Tolls

Thursday, January 8, 2009

If you ever want to spend a night feeling like royalty, just go to the Hemingway Bar. Tucked away inside Paris' exclusive Ritz Carlton, this gem was a highlight of mine and Kris's nightlife while in Paris. Although I wouldn't count out Sacra Couer or an evening stroll along the Seine, other musts if you're planning a trip to this French coup d'état, the Hemingway Bar is an unforgettable experience.

The Hemingway Bar, named for one of it's most famous patrons, is very quiet; you won't find any rowdy patrons here. Although the bar has a delicious and divine drink selection, be forewarned that these tasty treats don't come cheap. The bar is actually listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the seller of the World's Most Expensive Commercially Sold Cocktail known as the Ritz Sidecar with a pricetag of $515. The drink is made with an 1834 Cognac that's so rare that German soldiers tried to steal it during WWII.

The Hemingway Bar is decorated like an old library filled with relics of the famed author. We were seated next to an old black typewriter, but his books, photos and other items were scattered throughout the bar. People watching was quite fun here because there truly was an interesting mix. Because of the small size of the bar and the intimacy that comes with that, it was quite easy to overhear other's conversations. 

While Colin Field, named World's Best Barman in 2001, mixes up drinks there today, the former Hemingway hangout has always had a history of making memorable cocktails. Take the Bloody Mary for example. The drink was created specially for Hemingway because his fourth wife, Mary Welsh, became very tired of him coming home smelling like whisky every night. The Ritz barman at the time mixed up a special tomato concoction for Hemingway that would disguise the smell of alcohol on his breath. The next time Hemingway saw his bar tending friend he commented that "Bloody Mary hadn't smelled a thing," and so the Bloody Mary was born. 

While I skipped out on the high-end Ritz Sidecar and the standard Bloody Mary, I settled for a smooth, luscious melontini. My drink was sweet nectar fit for the gods. It truly tasted as though I was drinking a deliciously ripe cantaloupe! Kris and I nursed our drinks while snacking on smoked almonds and delightful homemade potato crisps and just took in the scene around us. 

I would recommend dressing up if you decide to venture over to the Hemingway Bar. I donned a cocktail dress while Kris sported a sports jacket and tie. We dined in Champs Elysees before our after hours drinks, which I would recommend because of the close vicinity of this part of town that has some very nice restaurants along the strip. I recommend Chez Clement, which was a divine dining experience on all counts. The oysters from Brittany were unforgettable, and their crème brulee was the best I've ever had.

Another word of advice is to have a plan on how you'll be getting home in the evening. Kris and I stayed out until it was quite late, not realizing that the metro had already stopped running. While we eventually did find a cab driver who got us back safely, it's very difficult to get a night cab in Paris, particularly in Place de la Concorde. Our driver spoke very little English and we spoke very little French, so it was a bit of a challenge to communicate. Have a business card on hand with your hotel's address information to avoid any confusion if you are able to catch a cab home.

However you spend your evenings in Paris, Hemingway himself describes the way the city always stays with you, even after you leave it.

"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." 

Cheers, cherie

Spotlight on the Lantern

Monday, January 5, 2009

If you've tasted the divine Asian concoctions and drinks at Chapel Hill's elegant and eclectic restaurant, the Lantern, then you may have discovered a bit of nirvana on earth. Recognized by Gourmet Magazine as one of "America's Top 50 Restaurants," the Lantern is a local favorite that's a perfect choice for a romantic date or a night out with the girls. 

Using many local and organic ingredients, owner and chef Andrea Reusing creates her interpretation of Asia's best. With mouthwatering standout entrees like Coconut braised Niman Ranch pork shank with fresh galangal, crispy shallots, spicy green papaya salad and jasmine rice, the menu changes seasonally but always has a good variety of hot and spicy dishes to the more tame, yet always flavorful ones. A mix of seafood, meat-based and vegetarian cuinspirations typically dominate the nightly menu.

The Lantern's bar, tucked away at the back of the building, can be accessed by a side alley door after dining hours. While most might miss this windowless hole-in-the-wall, the bar is far more vibrant than the restaurant itself. While I'd liken the atmosphere of the restaurant to a soothing candle-lit sanctuary, the bar area is more along the lines of royalty in its décor and styling. The cozy one-room after-hours haven has an exclusive ambiance that's a far cry from many of Chapel Hill's smoky, undergraduate-dominated scenes. 

With delicious, funky cocktails such as Red Geisha, made of muddled fresh organic strawberries with lime, ginger and vodka or Yo La Mango, a mix of mango puree, lemongrass, sake and vodka, you'll fit in with the hip, posh crowd that dominates the night scene at this hot spot no matter what your drink selection may be. My personal favorite is the Junebug, a delicious blend of Pimm's, fresh ginger and lemon, soda and cucumber that is reminiscent of a London favorite with a citrusy fresh burst akin to a South Pacific breeze. 

                      The Junebug

Visit the restaurant's Web site for daily specials, one of Chef Reusing's famed recipes and a fortune. Visit the Lantern in person for an intimate dining experience or night out on the town. 

Capturing Memories of Your Travels

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Whether with pen or in picture, everyone has a different way to preserve special memories from their trips and travels. While I have created scrapbooks and photo albums of my past vacations, and I've heard of others making calendars and collages, I've never known anyone to make a photo mosaic

Tower Bridge

So imagine my surprise when my fiance gave me a beautiful photo mosaic of the Tower Bridge in London for our 3-year anniversary. Each of the more than 1000 pictures that make up this mosaic are from our trip this summer to Europe and our Caribbean cruise two summers ago. Now we'll have so many of the memories from our trips together in one beautifully intricate photo to hang on our wall.

So how can you make your own photo mosaic? Kris used a free program called Andrea Mosaic to help him automatically insert the pictures as tiles. After pre-populating the pictures, he went through and selected by hand the pictures he wanted to swap out and include based on the a color scheme needed for each slot.     

He also created mosaics of Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and Sacra Couer in Paris. You can also check out sample mosaics on Andrea's site along with a tutorials and the downloadable software.

Notre Dame

Just be sure when you go to get your masterpiece printed, you make sure the vendor is aware that your print job is a very large file. You may have to go somewhere other than a basic run-of-the-mill 1-hour photo center such as Target or Walgreens. Kris had our photo mosaics printed at Wolf Camera, and they came out beautifully!   
Sacra Couer

Champagne to Spare?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Check out this fun New York Time's posting on how to use any leftover champagne you might have from your New Year's Eve celebration. The article references's 7 Ways with Champagne that bosts yummy bubbly-inspired recipes such as Sea Bass in Champagne and White Peaches and Raspberries in Champagne Syrup. 

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