Monday, February 23, 2009

While I haven't truly dived into the planning of my own wedding, I'm still having a great deal of fun seeing the types of wedding schemes and themes that other couples have created to fit their personal styles. In particular, I've found Southern Weddings Daily Blog, the blog of Southern Weddings Magazine, to be a really fun site to peruse because of the variety, creativity and detail that so many have couples have put into their celebrations. I would recommend it for anyone recently engaged as a fun and inspiring site to make you think outside the box in planning for your own wedding. 

So far, a couple of my favorite wedding posts have been Erin & George's beautiful blue and bleached sand wedding. I love Erin's lacey halter mermaid dress, her overflowing bouquet and the Carolina blue bridesmaid dresses with the natural wood-colored umbrellas as a fun accessory. Check out the part II post for pictures of their over-the-top reception! 

The blue and wood tones color scheme of Erin and George's wedding 
mirror the colors of the sand and the sea. 
Photo Source: Southern Weddings

Erin was talked into trying this knockout dress on by a saleswoman. 
This comes as a reminder not to judge a dress solely by its 
appearance on the hanger.
Photo Source: Southern Weddings

Another SW favorite of mine? Karen & Russ's Wedding. The style of this couple's island-kissed wedding is romantic and glam. The petal-strewn aisle is simply dreamy, especially against the backdrop of the ocean and the palm trees dancing in the breeze. I also love the fact that the bouquets that her sisters and junior bridesmaids carried were actually nautilus shells filled with gardenias, roses and a lady slipper orchid. This ocean-inspired touch was anything but cliche, and the sand-colored bridesmaids dresses appeared elegant. Note the beautiful antique French chandelier hanging from the tent in the picture of Karen and her bridesmaids.

This romantic beach wedding is full of beautiful, personalized touches 
like the seashell bouquets pictured to the right.
Photo Source: Southern Weddings

Seafood & Sand

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Christmas vacation was last year and you can't imagine holding out until Easter for another break. Does this sound like you? If so, why not skip town next weekend and head out to the famous Taste of the Beach festival in the Outer Banks, NC. 

The Outer Banks are beautiful on land and sea.

Named by Costal Living as one of top ten seafood & wine festivals in the country, Taste of the Beach kicks off with dozens of planned events on Thursday, March 5. With southern favorites such as Grits & Golf, Oyster Roast & Beer Tasting and even an OBX Chowder Cook Off, the weekend will be full of seaside flavor and fun.

Ladies may enjoy Sunday's Pearl Fashion Show & Brunch Extravaganza or splurging on a Mango Ginger Massage to relax and recharge. Events like Brewing 101 & Then Some and hot dog-making from scratch with a German butcher will be sure to be favorites among male attendants. 

Other weekend highlights include tapas crawls, nightly champagne tastings, cooking classes and demonstrations, an art exhibition and an international wine expo and tasting featuring wines from around the world. 

Other Outer Banks hilights that aren't to be missed? Hop a ferry to see the wild ponies of Shackleford. Nicholas Sparks fans can visit the filming locations where recent box office favorite Nights in Rodanthe was shot. Visit one of the iconic lighthouses NC is famous for. For more information and ideas, visit the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau.

Incredible Weddings

Monday, February 16, 2009

Last night while watching TLC, my Mom and I discovered a fabulous special called Incredible Weddings. The 60-minute show was full of out-of-ordinary ceremonies and celebrations including rollercoaster weddings (apparently Busch Gardens is a popular place for "destination weddings"), bungee-jumping brides and grooms, skydiving ceremonies and even a couple who swapped vows while each was strapped to the top of an old-fashioned style airplane (think Wright Brothers-style) mid-flight. One adventurous couple married 14 stories above ground while another was married underwater in a fish tank filled with nine sharks!

This photo gives a whole new meaning to the term "bridal party".
Photo Source: Thunder Bay

Incredible Weddings will air again this Friday, Feb. 20 at 10 p.m. followed by a midnight showing. I recommend watching it for inspiration if you're looking to create a tradition of your own that will have your wedding guests reminiscing about your day long after you say "I do."

Savory Recipes from a Sweet Night

Sunday, February 15, 2009

After celebrating Valentine's Day over the weekend, I have some delicious tried and true recipes to share! Each year Kris and I try our hand at cooking a new dish with eachother, and this year's menu ended up being another memorable lineup. 

Starting out with a simple but sumptuous Caprese Salad, a fresh tasting appetizer with towers made of alternating creamy mozzarella and juicy tomato slices drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I topped our tasty towers with basil in decorative heart shapes. 

Next we tried out a MyRecipes dish that I've had on my list to cook for some time, Pan-Seared Scallops on Linguine with Tomato-Cream Sauce. This seafood concoction is colorful and flavorful with the main ingredients, pasta and jumbo sea scallops, contrasted by aromatic cilantro, flashy diced and sauteed tomatoes finished with a beurre blanc sauce that made this recipe a keeper. 

This sweet treat is almost to pretty to eat!
Photo Credit: Allrecipes

As the perfect Valentine's Day dinner can't be complete without dessert, we cooked up a fabulous chocolate dish that was the culinary highlight of the evening, Molten Chocolate Cakes with Sugar-Coated Raspberries. This seriously-sumptious dessert was so good fresh from the oven with its warm ooey-gooey "molten" center. The tart raspberries added a whole new dimension to our chocolately treat. I'm sure this dessert would also be good topped with strawberries, pineapple and even marshmellows. I'll be sure to make this recipe again as a sweet finale to any special night! 

Playing Cupid in the Kitchen

Monday, February 9, 2009

Don't let Wall Street sabotoge this year's Valentine's Day. Forget fancy restaurants, pricey floral arrangements and valentine grams. This Valentine's Day "All you need is love"... and maybe a little assistance in the kitchen.

Well help has arrived! Authors Martha Hopkins and Randall Lockridge have a steamy surprise in store for you -- the 10th anniversary edition of their best-selling Intercourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook. Filled cover to cover with tantalizing recipes, each of the 17 sections of the book are dedicated to a different aphrodisiac. From foods traditionally heralded as sensual including chocolate, oysters and strawberries to interesting additions such as pine nuts, artichokes and ginger, Intercourses offers, according to an review, "more than 85 heart-melting and temperature-raising recipes." 

Need to taste it to believe it? Try out one of these sample recipes from the book:
The Holy Grail of Valentine's Day cooking, Intercourses also offers the history, myth and lore behind some of these long-revered ingredients as well as real-life couple's stories and hot photography. Read a sweet sample including the history of honey and why ginger made the list.

While cupid may miss or make his mark come Saturday, this steamy cookbook is a surefire way to turn up the heat in the kitchen this Valentine's Day!

Wake Me Up Before You Go Go

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Is your morning meal routine in need of some color and flavor? With more than 20 tasty flavors and dozens more just waiting to be dreamed up by hungry customers, donuts from Fractured Prune may be just the fix you need. 

An assortment of delicious and colorful Fractured Prune donuts
Photo Source:

Blueberry Hill, Creamsicle, Strawberry Shortcake, French Toast, Reese Cup and Peppermint Patty are just a few of the fun and even outlandish flavors are true tastebud pleasers. These melt-in-your-mouth concoctions are custom-made treats so that they're served piping hot and freshly glazed just the way you like them. 

If you're feeling creative or are craving an item not on the menu, you can pick from the following glazes, toppings and sugars to make your own flavor:
Honey, Banana, Chocolate, Maple, Strawberry, Raspberry, Peanut Butter, Mocha, Mint, Cherry, Lemon, Orange, Blueberry, Mixed Berry, Caramel

Rainbow Sprinkles, Chocolate Jimmies, Coconut, Peanuts, Oreo® Cookie, Mini Chocolate Chips, Graham Cracker Crumbs

Powdered, Granulated, Cinnamon Sugar
And in case you're wondering, Oreos are delicious on donuts! 

Fractured Prune also sells bagels, breakfast sandwiches and a decadent dessert known as "Hole in One," a scoop of vanilla or chocolate ice cream served on the donut of your choice.

While the Raleigh store that I had previously been to recently closed it's doors, there are a number of other locations including one in Concord, NC.

Top This

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

So for today's addition to The Sweet List, I have some fun wedding cake toppers to share! Far from the traditional cookie cutter porcelain bride and groom of yesteryears, today there are a variety of embellishments to choose from that fit your personal taste.  

Fun and Funny
Photo Source: Wedding Collectibles

Dubbed the "Super Sexy Spy Wedding" cake topper, this bride and groom duo is very a la Mr. & Mrs. Smith. It's just one of many fresh and fun options to add a unique twist to the tasty treats that will be served up at your wedding. Check out Wedding Collectible's whole Funny and Novelty collection for more laughs. 

Photo Source: Studio d.Sharp

This beautiful hand-crafted topper created by Denise Sharp of Studio d.Sharp is beautiful and avant-garde. Her attention to detail is impeccable, and no two items are exactly the same. Check out some of the other incredible designs that she's dreamt up for couples seeking marital bliss. 

Photo Source: Chapeau de Gateau

I love this incredibly feminine and graceful creation by Alison Dawson of Chapeau de Gateau, who designs sleek-looking toppers from high-quality Mokuba ribbon that's personalized for each bride and groom based on their color scheme and theme. For more information, check out her site, which includes a fabulous blog featuring her work.

Photo Source: Fancy Flours

This retro pick is chic and reminiscent of decades long past. While the style may be olden as seen in the features and hairstyles of the bride and groom, this vintage topper shows that while many years have passed some traditions stay the same. Fancy Flours has a variety of vintage toppers as does Gulden & Brown Vintage.  

Photo Source: Beau-Coup

This modern and metallic embellishment that features Swarovski accent crystals adds a personal flair to your cake without overwhelming. This is a great option to add extra sparkle. Additional monogram styles are available through Beau-Coup

La Vita Dolce

Monday, February 2, 2009

In honor of February, the month of romance, winged creatures and all things pink, posts from now until Valentine's Day will be dedicated to The Sweet List. So what renders something worthy of the list? Sweet treats, deals and destinations are musts along with, to Cupid's delight, obvious romantic and feminine inclusions. As long as you can finish the phrase ______ is so sweet, then it's a shoo in. 

So to kick off The Sweet List (drumroll please), here's our sweet starter:

Fran's is well-known for their two varieties of "salt chocolates." 
Photo Source: Fran's Chocolates

Not surprisingly, I selected chocolate. But what is surprising is the fact that these divine delights are unlike any other chocolate I've ever tasted. In one small bite there's an explosion of distinctly separate flavors that blend to create a harmonious yet perplexingly taste. With a combination of sweet and salty and even smokey flavors, the caramels were rich and complex but with that all-too-familiar melt-in-your-mouth coating and chewy sweet inside. But I know the real secret behind these pleasure is the snowy-like salt that topped these candies. 

Being partial to dark chocolate (okay, in love with dark chocolate), I naturally preferred the Gray Salt Caramels to their milk chocolately counterparts, however both were delicious. Perhaps it's also because the gray salt that tops the dark chocolates comes from Brittany, France. Not only do I generally love all things French, but Brittany is also where the best oysters that I've ever had in my life were harvested from before making their way my dinner plate in Paris one fateful evening. 

Gray salt is harvested by hand on the beaches of Brittany.
Photo Source:

Known as sel gris in France, gray salt is harvested by hand-sweeping the surface of shallow pools to collect the precious gift of the sea. 

At a price of $48 for two dozen, these chocolates aren't terribly priced, especially considering their quality, but if you're looking for a similar most budget-friendly version, Trader Joe's does carry Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels although the availability of these may vary by store and season. 

In my research I did find several delicious looking chocolate and sea salt recipes, one of which I had to share: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel & Sea Salt.

Try out other sweet combinations of chocolate and sea salt 
including this ooey-gooey cupcake recipe.
Photo Source: A Good Appetite

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