Monday, July 29

Arugula & Pear Salad with Lemon Parmigiana Dressing

I recently realized that when my hubby eats my typical boring salads covered in an array of veggies, he says that he doesn't have the same love for vegetables that I do.  He picks over the 20 different veggies that I throw into them, and moves right onto our main course.  However, when we're out at our favorite restaurants, he always enjoys their salad specials.  So I started thinking about some of my favorite salads, and realized that I have to be much more thoughtful with flavor combinations in order to produce something really exciting.

Inspired by many well-loved restaurant salads, here is my new favorite mix:

Salad Ingredients:

  • 4 packed cups of arugula
  • 1 bosc pear, thinly sliced
  • 1 small block of parmigiana (for shaving onto the salad and grating into the dressing)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

Dressing Ingredients:
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated or finely minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp. grated parmigiana
  • 1 tsp. chopped parsley and lemon thyme
  • garlic salt and pepper
In a small bowl, whisk all of the dressing ingredients.  Pour the mixture over the arugula, pear and pine nuts, and toss carefully.  Top with shaved parmigiana (a vegetable peeler works perfectly for this).

While there is certainly no science to creating your favorite salad, I think that adding a sweet element to the strong arugula is a great pairing.  Also, you can never go wrong by investing in some good quality cheese.


Wednesday, July 24

Summertime Professional

I recently had to attend an event that required professional attire.  As a teacher with a great summer vacation, looking professional during the summer is rarely ever a requirement for me, and pulling out a stuffy suit is the last thing I want to do.  So starting with my favorite blazer, I decided to add some bold summer color with this beautiful silk skirt.  To tone it down a bit, I kept my top and jewelry very neutral.  

Hope you enjoy my dog's photo-bomb.  You might think that she's smiling at you, but she's really just eating a stick... yes, a stick.  Obviously she isn't the one who had to be a professional today.

Blazer: Gap
Skirt: J.Crew
Silk Top: J.Jill
Shoes: Levity via DSW
Necklace: The Limited

Thursday, July 18

Our Wedding: The Reception

As someone who planned most of her wedding from online inspiration, I wanted to share a lot of fun details about our own special day.  When we were engaged, I was thrilled to find wedding posts, so if I'm lucky, hopefully I can give some soon-to-be-wed couples some ideas.  

Erik and I loved a lot of details about our wedding day.  We loved the rustic barn, the open view of the winery, and the beautiful scenery.  But most of all, we loved that we were having all of our events in one space.  Not only was the ceremony, cocktail and reception all held at the same location, but this was also where Erik and I stayed for the entire weekend, along with many of our friends and family. 

If you didn't catch the first half of this post, click here to read through our ceremony details.

Immediately following the ceremony, guests walked up the stairs and enjoyed an outdoor cocktail hour.

The card box was a great excuse for me to invest in a piece of vintage luggage.  I DIYed it into a card box by adding vintage doilies and creating a "cards" sign from glitter paper. 

Inside the reception space, name tags were hung in front of the windows and favorite family photos were displayed for all of the guests to enjoy.  This was a great project, and definitely worth taking the time to do.  Now that our wedding is long over, I have enjoyed decorating our home with these beautiful family memories!

I spent a lot of time agonizing over exactly how the reception room should look, and I couldn't have been happier with the outcome.  To save money on the flowers, I purchased silver mixing bowls from Ikea, which held the centerpieces.  The candle votives were found at Ikea and Pier 1 Imports, and were a mix of clear glass and mercury glass.  I got a little creative with some of the simple votives and glued on a little lace trim.  For our rentals, we kept a subtle vintage feel with simple beige and white linens and upgraded to bentwood chairs, which gave the entire room a classic touch.

Our favors were so beautiful, and a huge commitment that was taken on by my mother and sister.  They spent countless hours making homemade strawberry jam.  I picked out a pretty white fabric to go over their jars, and we tied custom labels to each one.  My only gripe with these is that I never got a chance to take one home!
Although I loved the top lace piece that I added to my dress for the ceremony, I also loved that it was easily removable.  For the reception, I removed the top, added a belt and some more dramatic earrings from Tejani.  A great piece of advice that I received about expensive bridal attire is to create your own belt!  Bridal belts will sell for hundreds of dollars, which is outrageous.  I found two small appliques for around $5 a piece, then took them to my bridal salon and paid the seamstress to sew them to a matching ribbon.  This way, the ribbon still matched my dress perfectly, but it saved me a lot of money.

Another great DIY idea (from Pinterest!) included our chair signs.  Although we sat with our backs against the wall and not many people saw them, they were incredibly easy to make.  My dad found the old wood and cut the pieces for me.  I simply painted them, glued on some moss I found at the craft store, and added string to hang them.

This was our amazing band, Jump City Jazz Orchestra.  For Erik and I, music was the most important part of the night.  Hiring this band was the best decision we could have made.  From the moment we began working with them, we knew we were in good hands.  They played all of the classic songs we were hoping for, and transitioned beautiful into the best party music.  Our first dance was to the song, "Summerwind" by Sinatra.


The next set of photos just don't do our dessert table justice.  This is simply the most incredible gift we could have been given.  My aunt, who has always been a great amateur baker, offered to make everything on this dessert table.  My sister and mother were able to offer their help, but she took this project and really ran with it.  Some of our desserts included red velvet and chocolate cakes, cheesecake, raspberry torte, coconut cake, carrot cake, biscotti, and endless amounts of cupcakes and cookies.  After the wedding, I found out that she took every one of these recipes for multiple trial runs before baking the real deal.  Every time I look at these photos, I am blown away by her talent and her generosity.  

The vintage cake toppers are two sets of salt and pepper shakers that I found on Etsy.

Looking back on these photos reminds me of every incredible moment of our special day.  While it all happened so fast and I often wish I could relive it, I'm always blown away by the happiness, love and commitment that I see in our pictures.  Not only did planning this wedding bring Erik and I closer together, it brought our families closer.  And to Erik and I, that was the biggest reason that planning a traditional wedding was important to us.  So thank you, loved ones, for your once-in-a-lifetime memories.

Photography: Michael Mancuso (most, but not all of these photographs were from Michael)
Jazz Quartet and Band: Jump City Jazz Orchestra
Catering: Brandywine Prime

If you actually made it to the end of this incredibly long and picture-heavy post, congrats... and I'm sorry!  I am taking on the responsibility of building our own wedding album, which I haven't yet started, so I am planning to use these posts to help me get that job done!

Monday, July 15

Potato & Bacon Frittata

I have always had a great love for eggs in the morning.  This was probably prompted by my amazing father.  Every school morning, while the girls (my mom, sis and myself) were upstairs getting ready, my father would be making us homemade "Egg McMuffins," McDonalds style.  It was a daily routine I always enjoyed, and the perfect amount of thoughtfulness from a terrific dad.

As the years have passed, eggs are still my favorite morning food.  So a few years ago, when I first discovered frittatas at my favorite Brooklyn bakery, I knew I had to start making them at home.  They are the perfect breakfast or brunch menu item, especially when you are hosting guests.

I have tried a few frittata recipes from online, and have been reasonably happy with all of them.  This past weekend, however, I decided to play my own frittata game in the kitchen.  And with a fridge full of goodies, I filled my counters with lots of great ingredients and went to town.

Total time: approximately 1 hour
  • 4 small potatoes (boiled until soft, then cooled and sliced)
  • 6 eggs, whisked
  • 1 cupped of shredded cheese (I prefer combining cheeses such as cheddar, provolone, mozzarella, monteray jack)
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped bacon *please consider using Morning Star bacon strips, it gives you all of the great flavor of real bacon!
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/8 cup parsley, chopped
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes

First, boil 4 small potatoes (I prefer the taste of butter potatoes for this recipe) for 20 minutes, then drain, cool and slice into thin pieces.  To a large, oven-safe pan, add 4 tablespoons of butter and melt.  Saute the chopped onion until it softens, then add the chopped bacon*, garlic, potatoes, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, whisk 6 eggs together (you may want to add a dash of milk) along with 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese and the chopped scallions.  After the potatoes have browned a bit, pour the egg mixture over the entire pan of potatoes.  Cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes without touching or moving the mixture.  Finally, transfer skillet to oven and bake at 375 for approximately 20 minutes.

Friday, July 12

Our Wedding: The Ceremony

Now that we are in the heart of wedding season, I thought it would be a great time to finally share the details of our August 2012 wedding.  As we approach our 1 year anniversary, I look back on our wedding day and realize that it absolutely incredible.  I wish that all of my memories weren't such a blur.. that I had a calmer mind and was able to soak all of the moments in.  But the truth is that it happened in a flash.  Thankfully our wonderful photographer captured some incredibly special moments.

Some of my favorite parts of this ceremony include how personalized we made it.  Our very good friend Dave was our officiant.  Having him share great memories and kind words about us made our ceremony feel so intimate and personal.  

I walked down the aisle to "Sea of Love," originally sung by Cat Power, but beautifully arranged by a duo local called She Hates Me.  They are some of my favorite local musicians, and I was ecstatic that they were willing to play at our ceremony.  

This photo of my father and me was taken just after the bridesmaids walked down the aisle, and about 5 seconds before the rain began to fall.  Looking back, the rain made it absolutely magical.  It started to come down just ask we began to walk.  Between the music, the rain... it was perfect.

Another favorite moment included our friend's reading of the poem, "How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog." 

To create a type of time capsule for the ceremony, we purchased a personalized wine box.  Because our venue was also a winery, we used a bottle of their wine.  During the rehearsal dinner, we asked friends and family to write us a brief note to put it inside.  This was a very last-minute idea on my part.  If I would have planned this earlier, I probably would have included this idea into my bridal shower so that we could have collected more keepsakes from our loved ones.  Nevertheless, we're planning to open it on our 5th anniversary.

The beautiful flowers were done by my friend Eleanor, who is actually a landscape architect and runs her own company, Sparrow and Brambles.  We stayed with very traditional colors with only minimal touches of pink, using mostly wax flower, mums and roses.

Naturally, Browny was our ring-bearer.  And I cried a lot.

As the ceremony ended, we walked out with our beloved pup as they sang "Two of Us" by The Beatles.  

Erik's Suit: custom from David Wilson Men's Shop
Wine Box for Ceremony: Rustic20 Etsy Shop
Wedding Paper: Simply Inviting
Dress: from Wedding Atelier
Hair and Makeup: Bauhaus
Wedding Sign: homemade

Hope you enjoyed the photos, I'll share our reception details soon!