31 December, 2009

A Touch of Reflection

Hello all! I seriously cannot wrap my head around the idea that 2009 is nearing its colossal end. What a year it has been....so many wonderful (and not so wonderful) things have happened this year.

Ever since I was a wee one I have been infatuated with the idea of "Where were you when...?". I remember asking my momma this same question countless times while I was in school. Where were you when Kennedy was shot, when Dr King was marching, when Elvis made his '72 comeback, the Beatles were on The Ed Sullivan Show, when Woodstock happened...the list goes on and on. My mother always had the most amazing stories. She seemed so much larger than life and I couldn't wait to grow up so I could see the world too.

The other day this thought crossed my mind and I was feeling like maybe my life wasn't turning out the way I thought it would. I had always thought that I'd be, I don't know, bigger somehow. That my life would have some sort of impact...that I'd change the world. After a long convo with my Mom, I realized something. I'm still young, and yet, my life has been full of incredible moments. These moments give me my story to tell. They've shaped me along the way and given me my "Where were you when...?" So, after much thought I decided to take the things that impacted my life the most over the last decade and put them into a list (a list to which I am subjecting you)

10. High School Graduation in 2000. (Just a baby, but off to see the world.)
9. First Day of College. (Like the first day of high school, but somehow I felt bolder.)
8. The fall of The Towers on September 11, 2001. (What a day in America that was. This is the day I realized that the world isn't always a safe place.)
7. My first off-campus apartment. (My friend and I got a four bedroom house. I had the time of my life living there.)
6. The announcement of the invasion of Iraq. ( A war should never be easy to start.)
5. My first {out of high school} love. (He was my best friend and he broke my heart)
4. The musical my junior year of college. (I conquered my fear of singing in front of people during the run of Into the Woods.)
3. College graduation. (I got my diploma in the mail and I felt the world open up to me.)
2. The last man-friend I had before The Hubbs. (No one taught me more about toxic relationships than he did.)
1. Meeting, marrying and planning a future with the love of my life. (This one is self explanatory, I think.)

There you have it. My personal Top 10. Cheesy I know, but for me necessary. Have a deliciously wonderful New Year's Eve and lets make 2010 one for the books!

Photo Credit: Heroes of Capitalism

30 December, 2009

The Craziness...

Whew! It's been a long couple of weeks, but I am finally back at it! I have been working like crazy! Editing pictures, preparing posts, designing parties, oh yeah...and working my two "real" jobs. But now I'm back and I'm all yours.

I'm currently planning an NYE party. I took over {on Tuesday afternoon} for a friend who hit a rough spot. It's kind of last minute for a gal like me, but I have to say, I am kind of rocking it! But, more on that later. I just wanted to jump on here quick and let you all know I'm not absent, simply extremely busy.

So, posting might be sparse until next week....

22 December, 2009

Unique Hostess Gift Ideas

Well, the Holiday season is in full swing and what a season it is! This time of year is always full of love, laughter and an unmistakable air of frivolity. What, in my opinion, is the best way to celebrate this festive season? With a fabulous holiday party, of course! I will be attending several this year and hosting one of my own very soon. We will be traveling to la casa de MIL on Christmas Eve for a traditional family get together and returning on Christmas Day for a cocktail party. While telling my Mom about all of this, she said to me, "I hope you remember to bring a little something for The Hubbs' Mom." To which I replied, "Of course I did, I've purchased a darling set of wine charms."

This got me thinking about hostess gifts. I love the idea of them, but in execution it can be tricky to come up with. I try ever so diligently to bring each host/hostess something unique and in keeping with their unique personalities and tastes. But, I must admit, that even I sometimes fall into a bit of a gift giving rut. Especially after a long week at work. My point? Well, this morning during my daily blog crawl I came upon this great little post. Click here for Delish's take on unique hostess gift ideas. I'm warning you, some of these are a little pricey, but I'm sure with a little thought and ingenuity, a suitable, more budget friendly counterpart could be achieved.

Enjoy the article!

Photo Credit: Exotic Green Garden dot com

03 December, 2009

Holiday Treats and the Trimming of Trees

Squee! I can't believe the Holiday season is already upon us. I love this time of year. The Christmas Classics start popping up on TV and carols are everywhere! I am a Christmas nut (no, I don't have 25 sweaters bejeweled and covered with snowmen or Christmas light bulb earrings). My favorite Christmas Carol album is by Mario Lanza (opera star and heartthrob of the early 20th century).

Tomorrow, my little 9 to 5 is kicking off the festivities with a Tree Trimming Party. Another engagement will keep me from attending, but not from contributing. I will be making something wonderful and I thought I'd share the recipe with you. Maybe I can help spice up your holiday party!

Asian-Inspired Salmon Lollipuffs

You'll need:
One pound either frozen or fresh salmon fillet, cut into even cubes (about 1")
Pinch lemon juice
3-4 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
One package Puff Pastry sheets
1/3 c. Sweet Chili Sauce (Found at any speciality grocer or Asian market)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the salmon into a medium bowl. Add lemon juice (2-3 Tbsp) and half of the teriyaki sauce. Toss to coat evenly.

Unfold pastry onto lightly floured surface. Cut each sheet into 1/2" wide strips (about 16 in all). Cut the strips in half crosswise to make 64 strips. Place two strips in an "X" patten in the baking sheet (feel free to line the baking sheet with wax paper, I do). Place salmon cube in the middle of each "X". Fold the ends of the pastry in to cover the filling and press to seal. Flip the pastries over so that the seam side is down.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Pour the sweet chili sauce into a small bowl. Serve the pastries on wooden food skewers and arrange on a platter.

For fun, try filling a decorative glass vessel with table salt and put the lollipuffs on long bamboo skewers. This will create a chic, edible centerpiece.

30 November, 2009

New {Vendor} Love!

Hello, my lovelies! I've stumbled on a couple great vendor finds for Milwaukee and the surrounding area!

First up is my good friend, Miss Kate Funk. You may know her from some of the posts I've done here and on Renegade Soiree. She also runs this blog and Esty shop. She and her fiance Jay have started their own business called Lucky 13 Productions. And believe you me, it's more than a catchy title. Kate is absolutely brill! Check out their website here. With several packages, they're sure to fit any budget!

This next vendor I found completely by accident. I was doing my daily blog crawl and I happened upon a link. As usual, I followed it and this is what I found! I love that she has her own blog as well as the website. And what a cute blog it is, too. Lot's of great inspiration. Anyway, Sweetness By Alice is located in Milwaukee and her cakes are chic, whimsical and above all, beautiful!

Haute Apple Pie, a popular Milwaukee blog isn't really a vendor, but for me it is a super special treasure trove of ideas. The three wonderful ladies who write for the blog have a really wonderful way with words and are incredibly creative. I am LOVING this blog right now!

Milwaukee brides (and grooms!) are sooo lucky to have all this local talent at their disposal.

21 November, 2009

Over the Barrel

Hey all! I have just received my new Crate & Barrel catalog. It's wonderful {contented sigh}. Today as I was flipping through the 'log I really got in the mood for a little holiday cheer. And for me, this means a holiday party. So, in light of that, I've pulled my Top 10 from the issue and arranged them below. I hope this gets you thinking about your own holiday party ideas.

1. Mr. Boston's Holiday Cocktails ($15.95)
2. Beaded Bow Napkin Rings. ($2.95 each or $9.95 for a set of four)
3. Clio Martini Glasses ($9.95 each)
4. Star Cookie Cutters (Set of four, $4.95)
5. Holiday Cardinal (Love this! Check the website for prices of the pieces)
6. Star Tree Topper ($24.95)
7. Ruffle Foil Chargers ($4.95 each or $14.95 for a set of four)
8. Reindeer Wine Gift Tags (set of four, $4.95)
9. Ornament Centerpiece ($34.95)
10. Sugared Fruit Ornaments ($35.70, set of six)

There you have it! I hope you take the time to check out the Crate & Barrel website for more fabulous Christmas decorating ideas!

I know it's sort of late but.....

I finally finished sorting through the piles of pictures I took of the Halloween Party! Despite the less than stellar lighting, I was able to clean a few up and put them together. I hope you enjoy them!

I had a great time planning and executing this little party and all the guests had a lot of fun. My only regret is that I didn't get any pictures of the food station. The food was great, if I do say so myself. I wish you could've seen the cake. It was a delectable double chocolate cinnamon cake with a fresh raspberry buttercream filling. Mmm!

20 November, 2009

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought I might give up some of my favorite recipes for the Harvest occasion. I'd like to start with a cake so yummy no one will ever guess how easy it is to make. Pumpkin Spice cake with a light Honey/Cream Cheese Frosting.

*Quick Tip: Try to come up with fun, festive names for some of your signature dishes. I think it adds a touch of whimsy to any Holiday tradition.

You'll Need:

For the cake:
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine
2 1/2 c. cake flour
2 TBSP baking soda
1/2 Tsp. salt
1 TBSP pumpkin pie spice (I like to make my own with: cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger)
2 large eggs (1/2 c. egg substitute)
1 1/2 c. sugar (or 3/4 c baking sugar substitute)
1 can solid pack pumpkin puree (Martha Stewart and my Mom say to use neither pumpkin pie filling NOR fresh pumpkin puree- I'd listen if I were you.)

For the Frosting:
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese (I use 1/3 less fat), softened
1/4 c. Honey

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9" baking pan with baking spray
  2. In a bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin-pie spice. In a secondary bowl whisk eggs, sugar, butter, and pumpkin puree until combined. Gently add in dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture, and mix until smooth.
  3. Turn batter into the 9" pan you've prepared. Bake until the toothpick test comes out clean (a few crumbs will be attached), approx. 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake on a rack, approx. 30-40 minutes. Level the bottom of the cake with knife or cake leveler. Turn cake upright onto stand or serving platter.
  4. Honey Frosting: whisk butter, cream cheese, and honey until evenly combined and smooth.
  5. Frost that cooled cake and serve!
Enjoy the recipe. I also found a similar recipe here. It's a good one, too. Happy Baking!

Image from Martha Stewart dot com

19 November, 2009

Allison's Got a Brand New Blog!

The very talented Milwaukee artist and my good friend, Allison C. Beilke has a new blog. On it, you'll be able to see a cross-section of her work as well as lots of other Allison related news. It's a baby blog, so there will be a lot of updates to come within the next few weeks.

I suggest checkin' it out. It's a good way to contact her for information on commissioned work, including wedding and party invitations. She's brill!

You can find the link here.

The Totally Wonderful, Very Big Surprise!

Paper Source has done it! Finally, get this, a home letterpress machine! Isn't it a honey? It's a table top unit that allows you to craft your own beautiful letterpress creations. A-woo hoo! I have been waiting for something like this for ages and now it's finally here, like a dream come true! *Sigh*

Retailing for $149.99, this little beauty won't break the bank. Also available for purchase on the Paper Source website, are letterpress inks and plates. Check them out here.

Think of it! You could now bring letterpress into the realm of DIY. All that style at my fingertips! I die!

17 November, 2009

Winter {Wedding} Wonderland

Hello all! I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. Although I hate to admit it, winter is nearly upon us. I could dwell upon the horrible dreariness that is a Wisco winter, but I won't. Instead, I will dream about the splendor of winter weddings. I absolutely LOVE an exquisitely styled winter wedding. *Sigh*

While researching for an upcoming post, I came across this picture. I die! I found myself being really inspired by this image and I hope you are too.

LOVE the pop of green from the bouquet! I wish I was closer so I could tell what those flowers are.

image by David Barss Photographer by way of View Point Inn website

New at The Crew

If you know me, you know how much I {heart} J. Crew Bridal. I'm also a sucker for their accessories and coats, but I digress.

A preview of the Spring 2010 Collection. I die, I love them so much!

13 November, 2009

From the Trenches: A Clarification

From the mailbag:

Hello! Two questions for you. 1. What's a junior bridesmaid? and 2. Do I need one? Thanx

First of all, thanks for reading and more thanks for writing in! Answering questions and giving advice makes me all giddy!

So, to answer your questions:

1. A junior bridesmaid is typically a position for a girl who isn't really old enough to be a bridesmaid but not young enough to be a flower girl. For me, this age range is 9-15. Younger participants usually take their positions very seriously. It's sweet. Junior bridesmaids usually attend and help with showers or any creative aspect of the festivities as the bride sees fit. She may go dress shopping with the Bride (this is especially fun if the young lady is a sister or daughter). Typically, the JB would wear an age appropriate version of the bridesmaid dress and would stand with the rest of the attendants during the ceremony. She should attend both the ceremony rehearsal and the dinner. I always suggest the JB help the ushers or handout programs as guest arrive. There are a lot of things you can do to make it a special job for an important little gal in your life.

2. While it is nice to include younger family members in the Bridal party, it is no longer, in my opinion, necessary. It's up to you and your SO. Only you two will know if you need one.

p.s I couldn't resist the peonies. It's chilly here and I needed something pretty to look at.

Photo credit: theknot.com

Harvest Inspiration

I am IN LOVE with this harvest tablescape from Martha Stewart. Hats off to you Martha! Click here for her how to.

Don't Forget!

Hey everyone! Don't forget the Holiday Open House at Broadway Paper tomorrow! I'm really excited to attend this event. I plan to get lots of party ideas. Hopefully, I will have a chance to scoop up the best wrapping paper (I'm kind of a wrapping paper fiend). Not to mention my very good friends Kate Funk and ac will be there at 1pm to join in the fun....

Tomorrow is a BIG day and I can't wait! Check out the BWP blog here, here, here and here for {some of} the details (I don't want to give away the farm!)!

10 November, 2009

My New {Designer} Crush!

Steven Birnbaum has the cutest little ad in the newest issue of Martha Stewart Weddings. *sigh*...I loves him so much! For those of you that don't know, Steven Birnbaum is half of the mindblowingly talented design team Birnbaum & Bullock. Mostly I love that this particular line ranges in price from $950-$2350. I love style at a reasonable price. Here are a few of my favorite offerings.

1. Maggie. This dress gives good detail, I'll tell you what! I'm really enjoying the lapel effect on the back of the dress. Simple, yet stunning. Such a great combination.

2. LouLou. I love love LOVE short, chic wedding dresses. And let me tell you, they seem to be all the rage for this coming spring. I am in lust with this dress. I want it. The neckline and the bow detail?! To die for and how cute with the gloves. A perfect 10, in my book.

3. And here's Sunni. This little dress strikes me in a couple of ways. It's such a breezy, beautiful dress. I love the little flower detail on the bottom of the dress. It's small, sweet and romantic. A friend of mine is getting married next fall and she's been looking for a dreamy dress and I think this would be perfect for her.

I'd also like to mention the lack of veil in all three looks. In my own, personal opinion-I'm happy to see them go. My traditional, 50's housewife side LOVES the look of a bride in white with a demure veil obscuring her features from her betrothed until he finally kisses her, sealing the deal. BUT. My, fun, chic, ultramodern side says, "Forget about it!" Veils don't need to be fingertip length to be elegant. I'm a firm believer in alternative bridal adornment. The three styles shown here are wonderful! In fact, I think I feel a post coming on!

All photos from the Steven Birnbaum website.

09 November, 2009

Attention Cream City Hostesses!

Hey there everyone! Happy Monday! What a weekend! I have so much to share with you....so many of my posts in the "someday" category are now finished and ready to roll out for you. But first, I think I owe it to you to share some news....

Broadway Paper is having a Holiday Open House! I cannot possibly tell you how excited I am to attend this wonderful event. "The BWP" (as we affectionately call it) is one of my favorite places in Milwaukee. I go there for virtually all of my paper needs. They have it all. My favorite thing? The wonderfully diverse section of gift wrap, for sure. Read the post by the lovely new owner, Miss Kate Strzok for details.

I'll be there! Will you?

Okay so...

I was totally grouchy and tired of editing pictures for my next post until I came across this!

Love. This. Picture. Miss Kate Funk is so brill I just can't stand it. Check out the Milwaukee powerhouse here, here and here. You won't be sorry. I never am.

P.S. I just got the Kate Funk 2010 wall calendar! Yay me and thanks Kate (and ac) for being so awesome!

06 November, 2009

A Little Something {New}

Hey everyone!
Check out the new invite suite from Allison C. Beilke. I love her and her brilliant work. If you'll remember, she did our entire wedding suite. It was a huge hit. Apparently this suite was created for a college friend of hers. All the info has been changed of course.....

Here it is! Enjoy!

Isn't it sooo nice! I love it! I am a sucker for a square card. I have been simply DYING to do a Cherry Blossom themed wedding. I think it can be a really romantic theme. And, if you do it right, it can be really lovely and elegant.

*sigh* Ah, Romance....

04 November, 2009

From the Trenches: Bridesmaid Ettiquette

From the mail bag:

Hey Erin!
Love your blog! I have been lurking for awhile, but just had to ask you a question. My fiance has two sisters. They are younger than me and I've never really spent a lot of time with them. My soon to be MIL asked me when she and the girls should meet up with me to pick out their bridesmaid dresses. I have already asked 6 of my friends to be my bridesmaids. I think 8 girls is too many. I really don't want to add anymore people, especially people I don't know that well. My fiance says I should try to find room for them because they are his sisters. He doesn't want my MIL and I to have a bad start. He also says, he won't be upset with me if I don't include them, because he doesn't really want to find 2 more men to fill out the bridal party. We just aren't sure we can afford it. My older sister (and my MOH) thinks I shouldn't worry about their feelings and tell them they can't be in the wedding. I feel conflicted. What should I do?

This is a toughy. I have to tell you, if this had been me, I'd have been inclined to give in. I was so worried about hurting people's feelings and starting off at odds with my MIL. The bad thing about giving in? Once you start, people will try and talk you into everything. Me? For one thing, I got talked into something I absolutely did not want. Calligraphy. I also got talked into adding 20 couples to the guestlist (True story.).

Since it sounds to me like neither of you really want to do this, here is my advice. Be honest, but tactful. Be assertive, not aggressive. Articulate the reasons why adding four more people to the bridal party is undesirable to you. Tell your MIL what you just told me. You don't know the girls very well, that a bridal party of 18 (8 'maids, 8 'men, and you and your groom) is too big and you just cant afford it. But (and this is a BIG but), offer alternative ways the sisters can be involved. Let them plan the bridal shower, help with the registry, take them with you dress shopping, plan the rehearsal dinner, the bachelorette party....the list goes on and on. They want to be involved in their brother's special day and they most likely want to get to know you. Let them. Make them special and show them that a relationship with them means a lot to you.

I hope I've answered your question and let me tell you, I hear this one a lot. Thanks for writing me, my lovely!

A Preview

Hello everyone! It's been a whirlwind the last couple weeks. I survived unscathed! I wanted to give you a preview of last Saturday's Halloween party. Everything was a dream. The food was exquisite (yes, I do menu design), the decor to die for, but the company was by far, the best part of the evening.

This is the incredible bouquet that served as the crown jewel of the decor. It's is absolutely incredible! It was designed by my good friends at Urban Sense (the new website will be up and running soon). These are the same guys who did the florals for our wedding! I love them! (I'd give you more on them, but that's for another post!)

Swoon! The picture hardly does it justice. I was able to get it from some other angles and I'll get them up soon, along with the rest of the event!

30 October, 2009

{Spooky Inspiration}

I have Tim Burton on the brain today. I really do. I. Love. Him! Always have. If Helena Bonham Carter (and The Hubbs, for that matter) wasn't standing in my way, I would marry him myself.

I am obsessed with the idea of the Tim Burton inspired wedding. So much is good about that idea. But (and this is a HUGE but), only if it is done with taste. This is a theme that could go from chic to campy in one overly taffeta-ed instant. Ahh, but that is fodder for another post my lovelies...another post at another time.

So today I leave you with this.

And this.I'm especially in love with this picture because I see so much emotion. I love that the skeleton looks to be in despair, with the way it's turned from us and hunched into its hands. Loving this.

Happy Hallowedding, everyone!

Photos found here and property of Harper's Bazaar.

The Words Right Out of My Mouth!

Ok, so for months I've been working on a blog post about the most outrageous, over the top wedding themes and ideas. One such idea, for me has always been the Moulin Rouge theme. I. Love. This. I'd been trying to properly articulate my big, big vision for this type of soiree into the fluid, streamlined prose I'm used to writing. This has been futile. I had almost given up hope, when I stumbled on to this.

This little post is from one of my new favorite blogs, Lolliblog-Blogalicious. I am loving this Internet gem so hard right now, I simply can't breathe. I really identify with the message of having an exquisitely executed event and not blowing the budget. Mostly, I love that Lollipop Events & Designs is a perfect storm of design loveliness. I recommend this site to any couple looking for advice, in simple, straight forward language. Amazing! I started following them a couple months ago. I'm never disappointed. Never.

I encourage you all to check them out! You won't be sorry! Simply brill!

27 October, 2009

A Little Halloween Giveaway

Well, the big soiree is only four-ish days away and boy am I excited! I thought I'd start the week off with a little giveaway...

This year, the same Allison that designed the wonderful invites also provided me with favor tags and cupcake toppers. The emblem, you'll notice matches the skull on the invites. We removed the glasses from the design, because I really didn't want to get too matchy-matchy or cutesy.

The toppers are 1" round and the favor tags are 2" round. The toppers were super easy and I was able to crank out 100 of them in no time at all! You'll find the instructions for both below. Try printing them on ivory or light gray paper for best results. I used a metallic ivory text weight paper for mine and they turned out beautifully!

1. Cupcake Toppers

2. Favor Tags

To make the toppers: 1. Cut out the topper, using a 1.5" round paper punch. Put like colors together, in pairs. 2. Put permanent adhesive tape on the back of one of the toppers. 3. Position head of skewer (I used bamboo) in the center of the topper. You'll end up with something that looks like a lollipop. 4. Cover stick with second topper and press to bond.
These are also perfect for use in hors' d oeuvres.

To make the tags: Simply punch out tags using a 2" round paper punch. Use a 1/8" hole punch to create a hole at the top of the tag. Run ribbon or cord of your choice through the hole and tie the ends. Affix to package or favor. Try using them without the hole for a chic alternative to a hanging tag.

I just loved these both so much I couldn't help but share them with you. I hope you enjoy them and Happy Halloween from Renegade Soiree!

19 October, 2009

October 19

October Updates!

Hello all! I am so sorry to have been silent so long. Boo on me. My October has just been filled to the brim with fabulocity! I am planning a couple of events, working my fingers to the bone at the 9 to 5 and trying to get the redecorating under control before it gets to be too chilly to paint. I've also picked out a Halloween costume for the Fur Baby (I had to choose between "Pumpkin" and "Lobster") and I'm proud to say that my little girl will be the cutest Pumpkin ever. Stay tuned for pictures.

Now down to business. I have sooo much to share with you all. The latest in winter wedding trends, gowns and other wedding finery. I have been deep in the heart of the Twitterverse and I have met lots of exceptional vendors and will be doing features on all of them.

Let's get to it, shall we?!

Carving Up Some Fun!

In the spirit of the spookiest month of the year, I thought I'd give up a few of my favorite tips and topics. Starting with Pumpkin carving! These two little beauties I found while browsing through the Martha Stewart Living website. The got me thinking about what I look for and what I try to accomplish when carving pumpkins. I came up with a few tips to share with you.

1. Search for the perfect pumpkin. For me, picking out the pumpkin in the best part of the process. I always take my time (too much time, if you ask The Hubbs). Look for fresh ones with sturdy stems, flat bottoms and no bruises. Beyond that, the possibilities are as limitless as the sky!

2. Cut out the lid. Always cut at an angle as this will prevent the lid from falling in when you replace it. Boning knives, fillet knives and other smooth blades seem to be best suited for the job.

3. Remove all the goop. Yes, goop. It's a technical term. You could go out and purchase an expensive, specialized tool to do this, but for me, an ice cream scoop does the trick. You'll want to try to thin the inner wall of the carving area. For best results, don't go any thinner than about 1 1/4". This will make it easier to pierce the shell.

4. Steady the 'kin when you begin carving. I like to sit with the pumpkin in my lap, with the face gazing up at me. Do not cut at a slant, up and down slices have the prettiest results. For intricate designs, try a small saw. You can find pumpkin carving kits all over the place. Target, Walmart, Williams-Sonoma, you name it. Martha Stewart also has a great article on her website about household items that can be used to create the perfect pumpkin. (that's what my Mom always did and we had the best pumpkins ever!)

5. Perserve your pumpkin. Rub petroleum jelly (Vaseline) on the cut edges to seal in moisture and slow shriveling. If your pumpkin starts to shrivel anyway, try putting the pumpkin face down in ice water for up to eight hours.

6. Safety first. If you like to leave the lid on while candles are lit, simply cut a small "chimney" in the lid to allow the heat to escape. First, allow the candle to burn for awhile with the top on, then cut a small hole where the lid has blackened. Always use flickering LED lights in pumpkin where children and pets are likely to get at them. Small fingers and paws can be easily injured. If using real candles, never leave them burning unsupervised.

The most important tip I can give you? Have fun! Pumpkin carving is something best done with friends and family. It was always a big tradition in my family (pumpkins, cider, toasted pumpkin seeds and monster movies on AMC). Someday, I hope to create joyful, lasting memories with my children ( I also want to be the Mom who makes the best school lunches and chocolate chip cookies).

Need some ideas to get you started? Martha Stewart has it all. Truly inspiring!

30 September, 2009

Fall Inspiration

Loving this! I found this in the Pottery Barn Party Planning Section of my last catalog. I love the PB, I really do. Just imagine this table in shades of yellow and deep orange. Squee! I love fall and I love Harvest Parties. My favorite part about this setting, is that besides the flowers, these are all things you'd likely have around your house. I know I have an inordinate amount of decorative glass sitting around. Enjoy!

Inspiration {Sept. 30}

As as September ends and we tumble headlong into fall, I thought this dreamy photo might stimulate the hearts and minds of my lovely fall brides. Love. this.

Ceremony Setting By Preston Bailey, photo taken from banquet event dot com

28 September, 2009

Tips for Hosting the Perfect Halloween Party!

It's getting to be that time of year again, when ghouls, ghosts and goblins run amok in the streets! What better way to celebrate than with a swanky, chic party! That's what I'm doing and I thought I'd share with you some of my tips and tricks.

1. Send out Invitations. Send your invites at least two weeks in advance of the party. This gives people time to clear their schedules and gear up. Be sure your invites are clear. Make sure to include directions, costume policies and time frames. I feel as though I've been talking about ours incessantly, but if you'd like an example, you can find one here.

2. Have a Plan B. This is especially important for outdoor parties. Fall is notorious for being finicky and you don't want to get caught in inclement weather.

3. Get Lots of Pictures! Take pictures as your guests first arrive. Have a couple disposable cameras available for guests to capture your party through their eyes. Consider taking Polaroids and giving them to your guests as they leave. It makes for a cute, classy reminder of the fun!

4. Don't Underestimate Scary Food. Try giving goodies a scary makeover. Some of my favorites include; blood-like punch and candies dressed up like eyeballs. A friend of mine made little cake fingers with red velvet cake. Just don't agonize over the menu. It will take some of the fun out of the process. Try a mixture of new things and your signature dishes.

5. Decorate with Friends. Have a couple of your closest friends over early to help with the decorations. It's a big time saver and it's fun to get a bunch of creative minds working together. If you're working against the clock, set a kitchen timer to help keep you focused. Also, try making as much of the decor as you can. Handmade touches make the party unmistakably yours. It's also a great way to save a little green.

6. Try a Signature Drink. A fun drink with a festive name is a great way to keep party costs down. Turn your favorite cocktails into mysterious concoctions with custom labels that say things like, "Poison", Witches' Brew" and "XXX". Get creative with your glass ware, too. Test tubes and the racks that hold 'em are usually fairly inexpensive and always a great addition to the playful atmosphere.

7. Have Fun! Commit to your theme if you have one and go all out! Hosting in a pair or group? Think of a creative group costume and build it together. It will build excitement for the party and afford you an extra excuse to get together with your besties. Scheming, after all is best done with good friends! Need some ideas to get you started? Characters from Clue, The Addams Family, Sesame Street, ABBA, Sin City, just about any 80's movie ever, Family Guy..etc.

Well, there you have it. I hope this helps you to have a truly wonderful Halloween Extravaganza (I don't get to use that word nearly enough in my everyday life!)

Photo Credit: Martha Stewart Halloween Central

26 September, 2009

{Adventures In Cupcaking}

Hey everyone.

We all know how I feel about cupcakes. For those of you that don't, I'll let you in on the secret. I LOVE them! Making them, decorating them, presenting them, everything. Below are some pictures from my recent foray into cupcakes. These I made for a work party to welcome the new intern class. They seemed to be a big hit...only one left at the end of the gathering. I can't help but be a tiny bit proud and dare I say smug about it. Here you go!

Vanilla/Lavender and Chili Chocolate with Lemon. Yum! I've always been a big fan of Chocolate and Chili. Vanilla and Lavender just sort of happened. Another favorite flavor combo of mine. I was really very happy with the way the frosting turned out. I love making my own frosting and I was really happy with this.

A little menu list I made and some little placards. I forgot to bring the ones I had previously made with me to work, so I had to whip these up at my desk, 10 minutes before I had to take the cakes down to the picnic...I think it came out rather nicely.

A look at the cakes all together. I really ended up liking the peach and yellow frosting....these little cakes were easy to make and a big hit with the co-workers. A little fun on our 5th Floor oasis.

Inspiration for September 26

Photo: Redhotbrides.com

Luxe Life: Adam and Laura

Hey all, here are some pictures from a wedding The Hubbs' and I attended this summer. I hate that it has taken so long for me to get these pictures up here, but I have had the busiest summer of my life! Whew! But, now that it is coming reluctantly to a close, I feel I can release these and chat about them effectively.

Adam and Laura have been friends with The Hubbs for years and a couple for even longer. I had the pleasure of meeting them at a party they were hosting. I really have enjoyed getting to know them over the last couple years.

The cute couple opted for a semi-formal affair at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. I got so excited about the place (that and the lighting at the reception took a toll on my photo quality) that I forgot to take a lot of pictures of aspects of the reception. Had I designed this wedding, I would have more detail...

The approach! I was in love with this place from the start. Look at the wonderful little house at the end of the road.

The Pavilion! I am such a big fan of this place. Of course, I am a big fan of anything shiny! I was not expecting this at all. A very stylish surprise.

The cutest flower girl ever! Ever. She was enthralled with the Bride and Groom in all their finery. I remember being that age and wanting to be part of the action. On a critique-y note, I am not always a fan of these big, tulle princess gowns for little ones, but this one was done very nicely. The length definitely added a little formality to the dress and her overall look! What a little doll!

The happy couple getting a few last minute directions. I was surprised this all went as well as it did without a Day-Of Coordinator. I really recommend it, Brides. The last thing you want to be doing is giving/getting directions when you could be off enjoying the day. P.S. LOVING the dress. Such a beautiful neckline. The pearls were such a simple yet elegant touch to an already gorgeous Bride!

The table. I like the napkin fans...I usually don't like fancy napkin sculptures, but these are cute and add a lot of pizazz to the table. I really like the use of foliage instead of traditional flowers. A really good example of creating style on a budget.

The cake! A very distinct choice with the pillars. I'm loving the sugar flower spirals. Cute cute cute!

Well, there you have it. I have sooo many more, but these were some of the highlights. I also wish I could've gotten my hands on the professional shots for this one. Overall, this was one dreamy outdoor wedding!

The photos shown do not represent Darling Events design.

25 September, 2009

A Little Update for your Friday Afternoon!

Hey there! Sorry about the silence, I've been knee deep in the planning pool. Here is the final draft of the invites for the cocktail party I'm hosting in October. Inspired by horror movie posters of the 50's and 60's, I think these little darlings will be a perfect introduction to the atmosphere of the party. I'm rather proud of them! Another big thank you to Allison C. Beilke for her help with these. They are exactly what I wanted.

Loving them! They're going to go in the Waste Not "Beet" A7 envelopes. I'll think they'll be super cute when paired with the custom envelope liners I'm working on. Squee! They're off to the printer Saturday morning and hopefully I'll have them in the mail October 1st.

Now I'm working on little serving skewers and title cards for the hors d' oeuvres. Pictures as the project progresses.

A note about wording: Address the who, what, when, where, why of your party up front. I wanted to be cutesy, but I needed people to know they'd be fed, celebrating The Hubbs' b-day and that costumes were encouraged.

21 September, 2009

Inspiration on a Gloomy Day (Sept 21)

Okay, wow. Look at that dress. Even if it isn't your style, I'm sure we can all appreciate the work it took to bring it together. For me, this is a real masterpiece.

Today, I'd like you all to think about this: What can I do to make this tradition of a wedding uniquely ours? How can we make our mark on every aspect of this wonderful celebration? What have we already done and how can we maximize it?

This week is going to be about personal touches and how to achieve them without breaking the bank.

Photo credit: offbeatbride dot com and Our Punk Rock Wedding

17 September, 2009

Planning My Tushie Off!

Hey there, everybody. I just realized I haven't blogged in a few days. Boo me. I have just been up to my bottom in planning. I'm working on a super fab Halloween party with a campy-chic B Horror movie theme. It's also a birthday party for The Hubbs. It's coming together beautifully.

Here's the first draft of the invites. I love them! My friend Allison did them. You'll remember her from designing the banner for this blog and for Holy Matrimony!. She also designed our entire wedding suite from save the dates to escort cards. 17 pieces in all. She's brilliant and here is the post I did about her. You can check out her Etsy shop here and her website here. What do you think!
All the copy needs to be dropped in (hence the unclear half sentences), but that's why its a first draft. The envelopes are shown in "Beet" and come from Paper Source. I love this store! I really wish we had one here in MKE. *sigh* Enjoy! I'll get pictures up of the final draft when the copy is in.

Thanks, Allison!

The design belongs to Allison. No copying or stealing...I don't want to see this end up anywhere. Thanks!

13 September, 2009

Inspiration for Sept. 13

This picture comes to me from The Knot. Love. This. However, I think I would have played around with dimension and levels a bit more, but that's just me. It's an incredible tablescape, I must say! Wow. This make me think of winter wonderlands or midsummer night's dreams. I wonder...

12 September, 2009

Oscar De La Renta Spring 2010

Ok, so it was really difficult to choose three looks from this collection. I loved it all. Seriously. De La Renta really knocked it out with this collection. Here are my top three.

This is, to me, the sort of dress little girls dream about. Look at the detail on the skirt! Incredible! I have seen a lot of this type of embellishment but I haven't seen it done better. I'm also a huge fan of the no veil headpiece. It's such a wonderful alternative for the traditional veil and blusher. From head to toe, this look is one huge Do.

Love, love LOVE this! Again with the stunning empire waist line! The dreamy, creamy pink is crazy beautiful. With the lace overlay it's simply perfection.

Ah, my favorite... So different! So chic! I see this in a number of perfect situations. Perhaps a reception costume change (of which I am a HUGE fan, by the way). This reminds me of one of those amazing suits you see in movies of the late 50's and very early 60's. The embellishment on the collar and on the waistline is just to die for! The above the knee length is perfect. Smart and chic with just the right touch of sex appeal. I love.

I know I said three, but it's my blog. And I think I want a bonus...here you go!

Hello, Nurse! I am in love with this dress. The way that the bodice while edgy and cool blends seamlessly into that amazing skirt- Insanity! There isn't a thing I don't love about this dress. Well, except the price tag, but it's the price we pay for perfection, no? Meow!

Photos from brides.com

11 September, 2009

Daily {Dose of} Inspiration

My friend is contemplating a carnival wedding next fall and I am overflowing with ideas. Carnival themed weddings can be so chic and wonderful I can't even stand it! This poster gets me all inspired and ready to turn this puppy out! Here it is...

By the by, stay tuned for a Carnival Themed Inspiration Board....I have sooo many ideas, it will be hard to harness them all.

Photo credit: allposters.com


Well, September is underway and today I am feeling a little fall-ish and Halloween-y and I chose today's inspiration based on that. Enjoy!

This reminds me, I'd better get planning...

Photo Credit: Country Living dot com

St. Pucchi Spring 2010

Well hello, everyone. I thought I'd start out with a bang! Here are a few dresses from the Spring 2010 collection at St Pucchi. This is one of my absolute favorite designers of all time. The detail and embellishments are to die for. But, enough of me, lets see some dresses!

Beautiful! I think this is a classic example of St. Pucchi's mastery of design. Look at the detail on that dress! Mercy! The shape is incredible. I'm a big fan of daring necklines on wedding dresses and this one is spot on!

I chose this one because of the interesting combination of silver and white. I love the bolero paired with the classically elegant white dress. Note the subtle detail on the bodice. Swoon!

Love. This. Dress. This was one of the first I saw of this line and its a 10 for me. Although this really isn't a style for everybody type, it's everything I look for in a spring dress. It's light and breezy style would be perfect for an outdoor affair in a botanical garden. Not a fan of the out of doors? I find the crystal embellishments at the bust and in the center of some of the flower detail to be perfect for a swanky, chic indoor wedding. I'm seeing art galleries, champagne bars, and museums. Love is in the air indeed!

This is about the sweetest little number I've seen in awhile. It's so romantic and airy. I'm a sucker for a well done empire waist. Again with the stunning detail! I love, I swoon. I'm also pleased at the absence of a train. While I love them (my dress had a four footer), I just think Spring is the time to have fun in a comfortable, knockout dress. For me, this is it.

And because I can't help it, I thought I'd throw in a glimpse of the dress that got me hooked on St Pucchi in the first place. A dress I can blame for my obsession. My favorite dress of all time, number 9624!
Oh. My. Blog. I die! Every time I see this dress, I love it even more. It's perfection. The lace! The neckline! The skirt! All of it's working!

All photos from Brides.com

10 September, 2009

A Little Inspiration

I stumbled across this picture while cultivating ideas for a party I'm hosting in a month or so. Wow. The Golden Age of Hollywood has been one of the constant inspirations in my life. Stunning. And her shoes?! I die!

I know it's silly to get wrapped up in nostalgia, but oh, how I used to wish I could be her. My No. 2 favorite movie of all time is "A Song Is Born" (1948). Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo and just about every musical star in America at that time including Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong. My Mom and I used to watch AMC (American Movie Classics) all the time when I was younger and my daydreams used to be full of beautiful women in long flowing dresses, handsome men (Cary Grant, anyone?!), "dressing" for dinner and big band music (Benny Goodman and the Andrews Sisters are two of my favorites).

This photo brought it all back to me now. *Sigh*

I think I'll make "A Little Inspiration" a daily happening...but maybe without all my blathering. I might also have a bonus one for today. I'm feeling inspired.