Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Patriotic Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

I have been saving this recipe for awhile and was determined to make it happen before the Fourth of July. And because no dinner with the besties is complete without something sweet, I whipped these up before heading out to spend the evening with some girlfriends and our significant others. But good news! It is one of the most simple, quick and delicious desserts you can make so you have plenty of time to make a plate and impress all your relatives or friends this weekend.

- Carton of fresh strawberries
- Half a bag of white chocolate chips
- Blue sprinkles
Note: (I found the sprinkles in the Fourth of July dollar section at Target!)

1. Wash the strawberries and make sure they are dry before dipping into the chocolate. The chocolate will not stick if the strawberries are wet.
2. Melt half a bag of white chocolate chips in the microwave for 45 seconds. Stir in bowl until melted.
3. Dip half of each strawberry into the chocolate. Set on a plate to temporarily dry.
4. Once chocolate has hardened for a minute, dip the end of the strawberry into the sprinkles.
5. Place back onto plate and refrigerate until serving.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Personalize Your Wedding: with Photos

Photos are a timeless and incredibly easy way to personalize your wedding.  Here I focused on a few ways to do just that! Wedding's take an incredible amount of planning and work, but it's all those small details that make a wedding unique to the couple celebrating.  It's the small parts that the couple shares with the guests that add to the love and joyous atmosphere.  The personalization of your wedding through photos is just one part of the wedding that we think is important, check out our other ideas at the bottom of the post.  But first our focus on representing your love in photos of the couple.

Photos of the Couple:

Since my husband and I had been dating throughout our college years we had quite a few pictures, which is an understatement because I LOVE taking photos, so we have lots! I saw this as a good chance to feature a photo from each of our years together, leading up to our engagement photo.  It was crazy to see how much we had changed over the few years, and I liked the idea of sharing a snapshot of that year together.

A display of engagement photos is a second option to show the guests more than the one that may have been sent on the save-the-date.  Lisa has some other creative Unconventional Save-the-Date ideas that'll make you say, why didn't I think of that? Show multiple engagement photos in an album or photo book, this can also serve as a wedding guest book.

Other options are to do pictures of each spouse growing up and then a merging of the two together.  A sweet idea to show how these two individuals have come together, plus seeing baby pictures is always entertaining and great conversation starters.

Family / Ancestor Photos: A Legacy Table

Incorporating your family and the many generations that have gotten married before you is a timeless gesture.  Everyone loves looking back and noting the family resemblances, the clothing trends, and the love featured in wedding day photos. It's a simple way to share your history and give thanks to those people that have brought you to this day.

As a history obsesser this is a small part of what I love seeing at weddings, so special! And if you're like me displaying it only one day isn't enough so you love the idea of an ancestry wall in your home. Once you gather all the photos and coordinating frames making an ancestry wall is an easy next step! Ancestry Collage Blog Post

Also, if you're throwing a bridal party the perfect game I came up with is "Wedding Dresses through the Decades." The game featured under our Vintage Bridal Shower, is a new bridal shower game I created.  Based on the idea of wedding dresses being an important part of every bride's day, but the fact that the dresses tend to be a reflection of the times and thereby are ever changing, I thought it would be fun to make a game out of looking back across the ages comparing bridal dresses from each decade. See the post for details on the game card, bridal photos and game directions.  We threw the vintage shower for our cousin Megan, and it was no surprise she had a gorgeous legacy table dedicated to the special loved ones in her life.

Miriam Rulli Photography
Miriam Rulli Photography

Photos of Guests / Bridal Party:

Polaroid Camera
Having a polaroid camera for guests to snap their photo and hang their picture on a garland or designated spot is a cute idea to incorporate those important people into your wedding.  People love snapping photos and it makes a great guest book option.

Photo Booth
A new popular fad to have at your wedding reception is the photo booth. It's not hard to see why guests love using silly props and gathering with their friends/family to take professional photos.  These serve almost as the bloopers at your wedding, and provide quite a few smiles when looking back at the photos.

There are so many prop choices out there, especially if you have a themed wedding, but this is an easy DIY project to personalize your wedding.  Props such as glasses, beards, mustaches, lips and goofy hats will always be a hit.  You can also provide boards, whether pre-written or blank for your guests to write their own messages. Since this is so popular props and board are easy to purchase, but if you have the time this is a great option to add your own flair and personalization!

More Ways to Personalize:

Little Wedding Details 
Little Wedding Details: Part 2
Sand Unity Ceremony.
Our Bride and Bridesmaid Bouquets.
Math Wedding Table Names
Personalized Wedding Table Names.
Personalize Your Wedding: Drinks and Desserts
Personalize Your Wedding: Guest Favors

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

National Pink Day

I am a day late but Happy National Pink Day! While some "national holidays" are a bit silly, I think they are just great. I am such a sucker for any excuse to try a new recipe, put up some decor and celebrate. Here are a few upcoming national and international holidays that I bet you didn't know existed. Now aren't you glad you read our blog and can set some time aside for things like International Fairy Day!?

June 24 - International Fairy Day
July 9 - National Sugar Cookie Day
July 21 - National Junk Food Day
August 8 - International Cat Day
September 5 - World Beard Day
September 21 - National Mini Golf Day
September 29 - International Coffee Day

To celebrate National Pink day and also because I miss Paris, I grabbed some macarons from a local bakery and an adorable Papyrus card for a friend. I am looking forward to sharing more details about our Paris trip soon!

Also because of National Pink Day, we have to take a minute to honor the amazing flower of June: the peony. Peony bushes were in full force in our neighborhood this year and I was like a kid in a candy shop. I had to stop myself from taking a scissors to all of the neighbor's yards. 

Growing up, we had white, light pink and deep pink peony bushes all along our house. I remember my mom used to let me pick them in bunches to make the most beautiful, luscious bouquets. When she put in her vegetable garden, we had to take out most of the peony bushes. But I found out this year that my mother-in-law actually received a couple of my mom's plants since instead of throwing them away, she gave them away to friends. It is so fun to visit my in-laws and see some of my parent's plants in their yard.

I snapped this photo of my darling niece playing with one of my mom's remaining dark pink peonies. We wish you a belated National Pink Day!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Saving the Bouquet

Most brides love their wedding day flowers but a wedding bouquet loses its luster the days following the big event. Many women drop big bucks on their wedding bouquet and struggle with the idea of throwing it away. I felt the same way so I came up with a few ideas to save bouquet!

One idea is to press some of the flowers and then add them to a canvas with modpodge. Or you could add them to stock paper and insert them into a frame. This could make a simple but gorgeous wall gallery full of pressed flowers from your wedding bouquet.

For another idea, check out my previous post about an ornament filled with dried wedding flowers. This is easy and inexpensive to make and is a beautiful way to display your dried wedding flowers at every holiday season.

The other DIY project that I tried is to add the bouquet to a shadow box. The beauty is that there are so many variations that you can make. Shadow boxes come in all shapes, colors and sizes. You can add the flowers in a pattern or add your wedding program, an invite, the boutonniere, a hair pin, the veil, champagne corks, the garter, etc! You can display it in your walk in closet or hang it on the wall. It makes for a sentimental and timeless piece of art.

- Dried Wedding Bouquet
*Note: I hung my bouquet upside-down in a dry area for six weeks following the wedding. I removed a number of flowers that were crumbled or torn.
- Any additional pieces as desired: I added the front of our wedding program that I matted on our purple and gold invite papers. I also kept the pins and ribbon tied around the bouquet.
- Push pins or something to keep each piece secure.

1. I removed a number of crumbling flowers from the dried bouquet. I also rearranged a few stems to make the best showcase of the flowers in the shadow box.
2. I matted our wedding program onto some invite paper and secured it with pins to the back of the shadow box.
3. Once everything was pinned and positioned, I carefully placed inside of the shadowbox and placed it on my dresser for display.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

OUR Bride & Bridesmaid Bouquets

For something that lives so shortly it's amazing how happy flowers can make us.  We love growing them in gardens, using them to brighten up the house, and receiving them on special occasions.  But the big showcase of flowers is of course on your wedding day.

Bride's take careful consideration in what flowers we want to use on our wedding day, because the flowers we choose of course are a representation of us. Are you bold? Traditional? Love color? Appreciate simplicity? What are the wedding colors? Do you have a favorite flower? And so on.  And of course for a lot of us flowers are what can eat into the wedding budget, which makes the choice even more important. Since Lisa and I were both married recently we can atest to the time it spent to choose the right flowers that would pop, but not overpower us ladies. It's harder than you may think. 

Lisa and I who are so very similar (notice choice of our hairstyles, aren't they cute?) are also unique, which is clearly seen in our wedding flowers.  We chose our bouquets to tie in our wedding colors (Lisa's fave of purple and for mine the white popped on the turquoise dresses). Both of us brought our favorite flowers into the bouquets. Mine are my 3 traditional favorites and Lisa's is a variety, and just like her is pulled together beautifully.

We're letting you have a peek at the bouquets we made for our special days. Blessed to have shared them together, we're thrilled to share them with you!


Lisa's: Dahlias, Roses, Calla Lilies, Blue Globe Thistle
           -purchased at downtown farmers market & Sam's Club and assembled by florist

Marie's: Roses, Hydrangeas, Carnations
              -ordered through Flowerama


Marie's: White Hydrangeas
          -purchased at Sam's Club in bulk and assembled ourselves

Lisa's: Dahlias, Calla Lilies, Roses
          -purchased at downtown farmers market & lilies from Sam's Club, then assembled by florist

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Red, White and Blue Recipes

I am so thrilled that Marie has brought our blog back to life! Thank you for hanging in there with us. While she is on summer vacation, I am just heading into a packed summer also known as event season. This is why having a blogging partner is just the best!! We do have some fun ideas and projects in the works so we hope to share more with you soon!

My husband and I recently returned from a trip abroad (more on that later!) and we were excited to find an excuse to use some of our European candy. With summer in full swing and the fourth of July right around the corner, I wanted to get a jump start on some fun recipes.

Red, White and Blue Dessert

- Package of strawberries
- Package of blueberries
- One small carton of heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup powered sugar
- 2 frozen Mars bar (Or Milkyway)

1. In a mixing bowl, whip up the cream until it makes a stiff peak. Add powered sugar.
2. Cut up strawberries into halves or fourths. Put a bottom layer of strawberries into a small bowl.
3. Add blueberries. Then add whipping cream.
4. Continue to layer each ingredient as desired.
5. Put Mars bars into a baggie and break them into pieces using a spoon.
6. Spread the top of the dessert with the candy and serve.

Sweet Blue Libation

- White wine
- Blue curacao
- Blueberries
- Ice

1. Fill a glass with ice and add white wine.
2. Add a small amount of blue curacao. Garnish with blueberries.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Rose Harbor

http://www.debbiemacomber.com/books/category/53http://www.debbiemacomber.com/books/category/53Debbie Macomber is most recognized for her Cedar Cove book series, which was also made into a TV series. Check more here.   Her Rose Harbor Series relates back to Cedar Cove if you're interested in finding out how they're all doing since the last book in the series.

I love this new spinoff series because the setting is a Bed and Breakfast  in Cedar Cove and all the characters you meet are guests staying at the inn. I love bed and breakfasts, my husband and I stayed in one for part of our honeymoon out in Cape Cod and it was the best. I love dreaming about owning my own B&B. What breakfast treats would I serve? Theme options for different guest rooms and creating a garden getaway are only the start of my imaginations.   Easy to see why with a B&B at the forefront I fell in love with this series.
Rose Harbor Series
When First They Met
The Inn at Rose Harbor
Lost and Found in Cedar Cove
Rose Harbor in Bloom
Love Letters

Another Debbie Macomber series to check out is Blossom Street and all the action happening surrounding a yarn store.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Columbus Zoo, Ohio

Columbus Zoo is known to feature some great animals.  This was my family's first stop on our RV adventure last summer.  Starting in Ohio we knew we had to stop at the Columbus Zoo. Two of my FAVORITE animals were at this zoo! I may be in my mid twenties, but I was acting like a small child just absorbed by the wonder of seeing my favorite animals. 

Zoos have always been a fun family activity.  Growing up we went to the Como Zoo many times, until we moved within close proximity to the Minnesota Zoo, which we regularly visit each year.  Then whenever we go on vacation we usually visit the state's zoo.  And now living in Ohio near the Toledo Zoo we're able to make it out there at least once or twice a year. But while out in Ohio we had to seize the opportunity to visit the Columbus Zoo and hopefully will manage to get to the Cincinnati Zoo too.

But back to why I LOVED the Columbus Zoo. 

KOALAS have been my childhood favorite animal and the only time I've been able to observe them was at the San Diego Zoo in California, so boy was I surprised when I found out they were also residing in Ohio. Considering the likelihood of me ever traveling to Australia is minimal and the only koala I've been really close to is my stuffed animal version, this was a dream.  Forgoing embarrassment I took MANY photos and gleefully was squealing when the 1 of the koalas awakened and was moving about to eat his eucalyptus. Did you know they sleep 18-20 hours a day?! So now you see why I felt seeing this was a small gift, and we had him all to ourselves.  Loved the two habitats, an indoor and outdoor so it allowed multiple observations.

Can you see  the koala I'm pointing to? It's in the tree.

My other favorite animal is the MANATEE! Ever since visiting Florida and seeing the manatees there they've always been a soft spot.  In high school our math stats class sponsored a manatee. Not the sting ray that also joined these giant sea cows. Apparently this is the only vegetarian sting ray since it loves to much on the romaine lettuce with these giants.  This was a different set-up than in Florida, since the view of the tank was only eye-level, but you still got an eyeful.  I even walked out with my own manatee....okay it may have been a stuffed animal, but every time it makes me smile! 

They had great habitats for Australia like the Lorikeet Garden (see photo), which allowed you to walk in the lorikeet aviary, feed the birds and have birds land on you. The Kangaroo walkabout had you get up close and personal (see photo) with full size and joey kangaroos. Of course the koalas and orangutans were my idea of the perfect entertainment.

In Africa you can feed the giraffes and get a look at the other typical African animals.  Also their Congo African expedition  section of the zoo has leopards, gorillas, bonobos and mandrills.

Polar bears show up at most zoos, but they did a nice job with the viewing opportunities in the polar bear habitat.  Want to make more of your trip? Hot day? Zoombezi Bay is a waterpark connected to the zoo if you have small children and want to make a full day out of the trip to the zoo.

Just missed the joey as he popped out of mom's pouch!

It's easy to spend a few hours there, and if you're like me, you can almost never get enough.  Check out the website Columbus Zoo to see the park map, live webcams of some of the animals and event promos.

The Columbus Ohio Zoo didn't disappoint!