Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Sunday Meal: Lamb Tacos

Thursday, May 30, 2013
On a Sunday not too long ago, my dad had us over for dinner. He said he was making lamb but was going to put a spin on it. That evening, we had home made lamb tacos with some home made toppings too. 
My dad pickled some onions, made a cilantro tomato salad, and even had a celery and cilantro relish. Piled on top of the lamb, everything tasted fresh and flavorful. The sour cream in the taco with the lamb added an almost Greek flavor, as if it was tangy like tzatziki sauce. 
My dad roasted a dish of potatoes and peppers. They came out piping hot and incredibly tender. No meal at my dad's house is complete without a bottle of red wine to share. 
After dinner, we spent the evening outside on the new porch that my dad built. He strung wire across the top as a trellis for his grape vines to climb up onto. Last summer the grape vines were flourishing and over the winter they got a little smaller. The vines are still alive though and I hope to see them bloom tiny bunches of grapes again this year.
This was before my brother got his hair cut which you can see on Instagram! S's brother came this past weekend for a quick visit. We all went out to dinner on Saturday night and when we got home, my own brother came for a surprise visit too! As soon as I got out of the car, he snuck up on me to surprise us! It was nice to have both of our brothers for a quiet visit.
My dad has planted many herbs and veggies in his garden. When I was there last, these two were looking exceptionally lovely! These peppers were growing to a healthy size, and even the broccoli below looked wonderful.
This weekend is the hair show in Orlando which I look forward to every year. There's hundreds of booths of brands set up showcasing old favorite and new products. There's everything from make up to nail polish to hair demonstrations. The hair demonstrations on runway stages are my favorite. Companies bring in famous hairdressers and cute and style hair really dramatically. Chucks of hair goes flying and music is blasting. It's really fun. Last year I took a trade show class right around this time while the convention center was setting up for the hair show and I was so excited to see the set up for this show that I attend every year! I took a photo from the aerial cat walk of set up. 
Steven's birthday is tomorrow and we have reservations for a local restaurant that we've been meaning to dine at for months. It's always packed with reservations and it's the sister restaurant of a favorite restaurant of ours that we go to for celebrations like anniversaries. This restaurant is more casual and I'm looking forward to some briny oysters and grilled quail! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Graduation + Weekend Recap

Monday, May 27, 2013
With all of the excitement of the wedding, I barely got the chance to relish in my graduation. I graduated the day before the wedding, which was actually planned that way, trust me. It worked perfectly because I had all of my family members in town to celebrate both occasions. 
I didn't walk in my university's graduation ceremony at the main campus, but I did borrow a cap and had all of my family meet me at my small campus for photos. Many of my fellow hospitality students had the same idea, and I even had the chance to snap a photo with a lovely classmate. 
The photos of everyone in order are my mom, my brother, my dad, then S planting a kiss, and then my cousin. My cousin recently started college and joined a sorority. Sororities aren't my thing, but I had to have her show me what I call the "sorority pose". You know, the one where all the girls put their elbows out at an angle in every photo? Either way, I think we look super cute. I never really had any school spirit, but I did manage to find a dress that is black and gold - the colors of my university. 
Also, you may have noticed a new button on my sponsors tab, Sunshine Bloggers. I'm collaborating with Kristyn and Angel on connecting Florida bloggers. This morning I posted over there about small blogger gatherings and tips for meeting bloggers for the first time. Be sure to check it out!
This past weekend I worked both Saturday and Sunday for two weddings. Both were beautiful in their own way. These photos are from my Instagram, so if you've been following along, now is my chance to tell you more about them.
This photo above was Saturday's wedding in our dinosaur exhibit with a beautiful crinkle linen from my own caterer, Puff n Stuff. The sunflower centerpieces and  bouquets were actually made by the bride herself. They had a lovely balance of sunflowers, gerbera daisies, and even dandelions! You can see in the background a sign in our T-Rex's jaw. I think we may be one of the only museums in the nation that does that. The sign for this evening said "Thanks for celebrating with us!" and we've had brides and grooms order custom signs from us too with their name and date. I love the dinosaur exhibit, and I also love feasting tables like this one above.
Now this wedding ceremony was the most beautiful ceremony I have ever had the pleasure of working. I worked with an amazing videographer team, Imprint Cinema, and an awesome girl DJ, Kristin of Our DJ Rocks.   I love a bride that has amazing taste in vendors, including the florist, Lee Forrest, who brought in lovely ribbons, flower petals, and even a hanging chandelier for this old oak tree ceremony. This is the kind of wedding that event coordinators dream of working. Anyway, I took more photos of the reception with my camera and will be happy to share those soon! 
Today both S + I had off and it was lovely since it was our day off together for the weekend. We slept in - which was much needed since I worked my butt off for the weddings this weekend. We started our day at the pool with a quick dip for S and a few magazines for myself. Afterward, we hit up our favorite antique shop for their Memorial Day sale. I was looking for some beautiful art deco rings, but didn't have any luck finding one that I was in love with. Instead, I found this gray American Tourister hat box. I already have a larger blue American Tourist luggage that is also circular, but this is perfect for quick weekend trips! I also have a Pan Am bag that is perfect for my carry-on. You can see both my Pan Am bag and my blue American Tourister luggage on Instagram.
Lastly, with the weather getting warmer, I'm having trouble enjoying my glass of red wine in the evening. It is just too hot - I need a cold drink of choice. Beer is a good choice when I have food like pizza or chips to pair it with, but I need something lighter for more afternoons by the pool. The only liquor that I enjoy (besides whiskey/bourbon/scotch) is cachaca, which is a sugarcane rum from Brazil. This evening I made a caipirinha, the classic Brazilian drink made with muddle sugar and limes, topped with 1 1/2 shots of cachaca, served on the rocks. My mom is Brazilian so me and caipirinha's are old friends by now. If you've never tried one, I would suggest it on a hot summer day coming up!


Friday, May 24, 2013

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread + English Tea

Friday, May 24, 2013
One of the things that I love about S + I is that we are still learning things about each other, even over six years of knowing one another. One of these weekends after we got married, S was in the mood for some fresh bagels from the store and cream cheese on the porch. He went to the store to pick up a bag full of assorted types of bagels while I got the luxury of waiting at home reading. He picked some bagels that he knows I like including honey whole wheat and cinnamon raisin. Thinking about it, I asked him if he knew what my favorite bagel was. I told him poppy seed - and just like that my husband learned something new about me. 
I love poppy seeds so much that it's something I like to have on hand. It's a bit of a strange staple for most Americans to have in their kitchens, but it reminds me of the poppy seed muffins and poppy seed bagels my mom used to always have at home growing up. 
Having poppy seeds on hand has its perks, like the random craving for lemon poppy seed bread. I was home one day, cleaning, vacuuming, doing dishes, when suddenly it was 1:00 pm and I hadn't eaten anything. The only thing I had an appetite for at that point was homemade lemon poppy seed bread. The recipe I use is from Joy Of Baking because it isn't a complicated recipe and it always comes out delicious. 
I have a work weekend ahead of me with a very special wedding. All of my weddings are special, but this one is for the books - trust me. We have a group of amazing vendors coming in all hand picked by an amazing bride. I hope that your weekend is just as lovely as mine is about to be. Check out my Instagram for some special event peeks this weekend!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Bedroom Set

Wednesday, May 22, 2013
As quickly as the thought came to get a new bed set, it happened. We got a headboard-less wooden bed frame from Ikea that is elevated. Our previous bed wasn't elevated with legs, and you can see above the lines that it left in the carpet. I much prefer an elevated bed with legs, at least for our small space it works. I can hide some treasures and good books under there to lead us in our dreams. We also got a brand new mattress which is comfortable and firm, with just a bit of softness from the foam topper we have. 
We didn't need a headboard because we already had one - a free-standing piece of wood. It was supposed to be for the front of a bar, but the wood was "imperfect" and found it's way into our home. I think it serves as a lovely and elegant backdrop for our bed. 
Our new bed has our brand new white sheets and a comforter which were gifts from the wedding. I've always wanted white sheets. Something about it hints a little at hospitality and it's a little reminiscent of falling asleep on a cloud. Also, the way the light hits it in the mornings can make a girl's knees weak. 
Today we have a major bi-annual event going on at the museum and I'm excited to see it come together this year. The longer I'm in the industry and working the more involved I feel with our events. It's a great feeling when an event is not finite. Many of our weddings are lovely and I adore working with our brides to create their special day - but the sad thing is that it's unlikely that I will work with them again for other events. Annual events like these, where I get to see the client multiple times a year - they make me happy. I adore building the relationships with them. I think that's the former hairstylist in me. I used to see the same people every month and get to hear their stories and watch them grow. Even though I'll definitely be working hard today, I'll enjoy every second of it knowing that I won't have to say goodbye to our client, only see you later.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Monday, May 20, 2013
These past two weeks of being a newlywed mainly consist of us relaxing at home after all the chaos of the wedding and many family members in town. We've spent some days relaxing, some days running errands, and some days getting back into the swing of work and home life.
We have some home improvement goals on the horizon but I wanted to share a little piece of love that arrived in the mail on our wedding day from a favorite blogger of mine. Christine of The Plumed Nest wrote a guest post for me while I was off entertaining family the week before the wedding. I mentioned her needlecraft and handcrafted pillows on her Etsy shop Plumed on the guest post, but now you get to see her work for yourself! 
Christine gifted us a pillow that she made for our wedding day and it appropriately arrived on May 4th, the day of our wedding. Christine makes many different designs, and this one was so perfect for our start of married life in our home.
The story behind the heart trail is that we are currently living in Orlando and we have dreams of moving to Chicago. We've always wanted to live in a big city at some point in our young lives before really settling down in suburbs. Chicago is on our sights even though we've never been before. Not sure if you can tell yet but we really love food. We love eating out at unique restaurants just as much as we love eating in, cooking a new meal. Chicago is a city with the most 4 star restaurants in the nation. Chicago is home to the video game company S currently works for and is also home to a plethora of museums that one day I hope to have to honor of working events in. 
Some upgrades we have been planning to do in our home are a new bed frame and a new mattress set. We have a brand new set of sheets and duvets from our wedding, so it's only appropriate that we start them off right with a brand new bed! We have been looking at options from Ikea since they are both affordable and contemporary and we've found the perfect match. I will update again on what we found and how it all came together!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sunny Afternoon Wedding Day

Wednesday, May 15, 2013
In my previous post I wrote about the morning of my wedding getting ready. Now I'm sharing photos by my photographer, Kellie Warren of KWU Weddings. These are only of the few images she shot and burned on a disc for me the night of the wedding. It was super sweet to be able to walk away with some images - something visual to recall moments that so quickly passed by. 
After we all slipped into our dresses, Kellie took some photos of us on the balcony of the hotel, as well as around the small town. My photographer led us around the downtown area, taking photos of us on old stairwells and cobblestone streets. We made our way back to the rose garden, which was on the way to the venue. While we were in the rose garden, some of my friends walked past on their way to the ceremony. We quickly exchanged hellos, as if the surprise was ruined, but it was still so nice to see familiar faces in my town.
And this is the part that I get stumped - I barely know what words to use to describe how I felt and how it happened. I enter into the reception room through the back in order to not be seen by the rest of our guests and my groom and his groomsmen lined up to walk the processional. Upon walking into the reception room, waiting to start the ceremony, I see all of my favorite vendors and all of my plans and ideas come to life. In that moment, it was hard to take it all in, it was hard to realize that everything was there because we planned it that way. It's still a hard thought to swallow. It was everything I ever wanted. 
I stood at the doors to the ceremony patio with my bridesmaids, peeking out into the crowd. I felt that if I didn't see the ceremony and our guests beforehand, that it would be too overwhelming. So I took a peek at everyone taking their seats. I knew in my head that we had a 5:30 pm ceremony start time. But at that point, I had no concept of time. Even when one of my bridesmaids told me we had 10 minutes, I couldn't comprehend. I just shook my head in understanding, even though I really didn't. I can't say exactly what was going through my head as I waited, I only know that a lot of it was breathe, bend my knees, cherish the moment. Smiling came easy, smiling was the effortless part.
Everyone lined up, my dad by my side, and we were ready to walk the processional. My coordinators assisted in sending everyone down the aisle. I heard the song change from the wedding party song to the song I chose for my dad and I. The doors opened, and we walked. At first, too fast and I felt my dad's pace slow down which was the reminder I needed to be in the moment and enjoy every step. I got 5 feet from S before I started tearing up. My maid of honor said she started counting how long it was after S saw me that he started tearing up, and she said she couldn't even count to 1 before he started tearing. My dad shook S's hand, I gave him a kiss on the cheek, and then S and I held each others hands. 
Our officiant, a friend, told all the readings exactly as I imagined he would. He told my favorite story, a 2400-year-old love story from Plato by way of Aristophanes, about the longing many of us feel for another half to make us whole, that you can hear here. Following my favorite love story was our vows. My vows were inspired by a contemporary poem, making promises like knife-fighting the snooze button to give S five more minutes of sleep. S's vows were inspired by luck and a chance at love. Then we did the rings, followed by the kiss, and then the party.
Our guests went inside the old train depot for cocktail hour while our photographers, family, and wedding party all took photos together. There was a patch of jasmine (most know how much we adore the jasmine that grows in our neighborhood) that looks as if it bloomed just for us to take family photos in front of. There also was the train tracks which run along the building, perfect for photos of just us. 
After cocktail hour and photos, it was time for introductions. We lined up outside of the reception room and our DJ introduced our wedding party, couple by couple. Then he introduced us and we walked in to many cheers to start our first dance that we practiced many times in our living room. Before we could start our dance, guests were already hitting their glasses with silverware - requesting a kiss. We dip-kissed in the middle of our dance floor, just like the movies, and that too we practiced in our living room. 
After our dance together, we took our seats and our toasts began before dinner. We started the toasts with S's younger brother, who spoke about how if anyone knows me, they know that I'm quiet at first, but as I get to know people, I open up and I have so much to say. Thinking of all our toasts now, brings happy tears to my eyes. My maid of honor, my best friend from high school, toasted next and reminisced about how she and I met just before S and I met so she was witness to our entire relationship, journey, and love story. Finally, we ended toasts with my older brother, who said how perfect it was that we ended up together, and that it wasn't a coincidence, that it couldn't have happened any other way. My brother held his drink up, and all of our guests toasted to us with his toast leading the way. 
We ate dinner with glasses of red wine and friends and family coming up to us to give hugs and kisses and well wishes. Our caterer was amazing because they would bring us different plates from each food station instead of us getting up which saved us so much time to enjoy our meals as much as possible. I knew the food was going to be great, but it was so nice to hear from our guests, even days later, how much they enjoyed the food. We  ate from  cheese and charcuterie platters for appetizers while servers passed chicken and onion cornets. For our entree food stations we had chimichurri flank steak, truffle mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables with an aoli sauce, goat cheese raviolis with a roasted red pepper sauce, and a sausage, chicken, and shrimp paella. 
After dinner I danced with my father, S danced with his mother, and I requested a surprise dance with my brother. His reaction was priceless and I picked the perfect song for us to dance together to. Halfway through, our DJ invited everyone on the dance floor to start the evening of dancing. We danced the hora, fan farra, and even the wobble. Desserts were made by our dear mutual friend. When she lived in town she used to have us over for dinner and make the most amazing lavender cupcakes with lemon butter-cream and also mixed berry tarts with lavender-vanilla cream. They were a hit and everyone couldn't wait to get their hands on one. 
Suddenly, it was our last song and we were all on the dance floor, a little sad, but oh-so celebratory. We did our exit and walked one block over to the hotel's honeymoon suite that we were staying at. I could barely fall asleep, details from the entire night ran laps through my head. I woke up the next day, my body tired from dancing, but my mind refreshed, still anxiously replaying favorite moments from the evening before. We sat on the balcony outside with coffee and muffins, as I tried to comb out all of the knots in my hair from a night of dancing and hugging. 
For a photo inside the reception room (we'll get more photos in a month or two from the photographer!) you can check out this Instagram photo from a friend during our toast, this Facebook photo of the room setup from our DJ, or check out our Instagram hashtag, #danielleandsteven. All of these lovely images were photographed by KWU Weddings. Thank you Kellie + Lindsay!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Rainy Morning of Our Wedding

Monday, May 13, 2013
The weeks have settled down a bit and we've taken the weekend to do nothing (the advice of my boss). And nothing we did. We saw a The Great Gatsby and Iron Man 3 and drank mimosas all day on Saturday. I can't wait to write all of the details about the wedding itself. It's so surreal to see everything we've planned and hoped for come to life. It all seems like a hazy dream now, as if I'm still looking forward to it. Except now I'm looking fondly back to it. I hear that every time you recall a memory, it fades a little more each time. So I'm trying not to recall these memories all just yet.
I started my day in the hotel room with my maid of honor and a complimentary cup of coffee, orange juice, and muffins brought up to the hotel room. We enjoyed nibbling chunks off of the muffins while mostly sipping on coffee on the balcony as it rained. It was a misty kind of rain; the droplets so small it could have been snowing if it was colder. After my cup of coffee, we were ready to start the day with my aunts, my cousins, my mom, my mother in law, my grandmother, and my moms aunts too. We all went to the best breakfast place down the block from the hotel, within walking distance. We walked in the misty rain without umbrellas, hopeful that it would clear up. My maid of honor and I started early with blood orange mimosas to keep any nerves at bay, and it did. 
After breakfast we headed back to the room, all the while the sky was still misting on us, speckling my glasses. As soon as we walked back into the hotel room the phone rang - it was the front desk calling to let us know that the hairstylists arrived - we must have just missed them in the small lobby. We poured some mimosas for everybody that was there in glasses with everyone's names. My godmother is a calligraphist and so kindly scripted everyone's names on their own glass. Some saying Bride on one side and Danielle on the other, some just saying my aunts names and my grandmothers. 
Those who had to go to their hotel to get dressed got their hair and makeup done first, leaving me and my bridesmaids to go last since we had all of dresses in the suite which was only a block away from the venue, an old train depot. 
While everyone else got their hair and make up done, we played Sex and the City and then some music on Pandora. I used this time to take some photos like these and of the key ring. The room key came with a brass tag of the room number, and I added the giant engagement ring that my maid of honor gave me at my bridal shower. It was as if the ring key chain was made for the hotel room key.  
Sometime around 2 pm, I started having butterflies in my stomach and getting nerves. I was anxious to get started on my own hair and makeup, so I decided to take a breath on the balcony. I sat out on the balcony in the quiet, realizing that the sun had finally come out. Just in time for photos and for the wedding. I wasn't out there for more than 5 minutes when my hairstylist, my former boss, arrived to do my hair.
I still had nerves while sitting in the chair to get my hair done, but I felt more relaxed to hair my former boss there. I was working for her when I got engaged, and I worked for her for over 4 years so she had been there for most of our 6 year relationship. It was calming to talk to her, and it was eye-opening to think that the day was here that we talked about. It was hard to swallow. I tried to soak it all in in the moment, but I still feel that the entire wedding has only sunk in this past Saturday - a whole week later. 
My former boss did my curls perfectly and my gold headband sparkled like a halo. I then got my cat-eye and red lips done and was ready to put on my dress. Just as I took a breath, my photographer arrived to do some getting ready shots. We all dressed as quickly as possible. It felt a little hectic at that point, but my photographer assured me that it always is. 
These last three photos are of the next day, our first day as a married couple with our hotel robes on and breakfast on the suites balcony. 

I'm skipping the good stuff - everything from the group shots with my girls, to the ceremony, to the family photos, to the dances, to the food. Everything was perfect, all of my vendors were flawless, but I'll leave the details for the next post in which I share some quick photos that my photographer burned for me that night. The rest of the images will be coming in a few months, but I will share the quick pics in the meantime - in my next post.
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