Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chef Alyssa's Cooking Class - A Memorable NIght Out!

Last week I went to my first ever cooking class and I'm happy to report it was everything I dreamed of and more! Chef Alyssa is a cute as a button chef here in Charlotte. She's relatable, knowledgeable and most importantly (in my opinion) made the class fun! Alyssa has a whole calendar of cooking classes  that cover 5 different skill levels. She makes every effort to use local, sustainable and healthy ingredients which is always appreciated. In a shocking turn of events, I went to the Italian Cooking Class...what can I say, Italian food is in my marina-laced blood. 

When we got to class there was Bruschetta with delicious cherry tomatoes and perfectly crisp bread. Mangia.

The classes are held in Atherton Mill in South End Charlotte where they have a great farmers market. It was the perfect backdrop for the evening. The tables were organized with recipe books, burners, knives, and cooking utensils, all in Alyssa's signature colors of navy and lime green. You didn't have to bring anything, just yourself and your brown bag if you choose to BYOB.  Which I did. Obv. As if I could cook Italian food sans red wine.

The ribbon-tied mason jar did not go unnoticed. Cute touch!

On the Italian Countryside Menu was Roasted Eggplant Caponata (sort of an eggplant "hash"), Pork Satimbocca, Mushroom Polenta and Almond Macaroons.

Chef Alyssa did demos of each of the dishes, going through everything step by step. Then a tray full of ingredients (pre-measured of course) were brought to our table where each of us took turns chopping, dicing and salting. Alyssa and her crew walked around to answer questions, fetch us more olive oil and just to chat. We never felt like we were on our own, there was always someone there to answer a quick question....or three.

Here's some photos of the Eggplant Caponata in progress which made a delicious side dish to the pork.

We sauteed mushrooms with fresh herbs for the Mushroom Polenta. 

The Pork Saltimbocca was my favorite dish. Pounded thin, pork cutlets were  stuffed with sage leaves and prosciutto. I plan to make this at home very soon. 

For dessert we whipped up these Almond Macaroons which were incredibly simple to make but packed a huge punch of almond flavor. Did you know there were Italian Macaroons? I sure didn't. They were excellent! 

After all that hard work of cooking and drinking wine, we went to the "dining" area for the real treat - eating our homemade dinner! Sometimes even the best restaurant can't compete with food you've made yourself...with Chef Alyssa's help of course! 

Honestly we had the absolute BEST time at Chef Alyssa's class and I plan to attend many more. This is a great gift for someone and makes a fun girls night out or date night. It's a great value as you get a full meal and a ton of cooking knowledge. We had an absolute blast. 

I attended with my Mom Mickey (how adorable is she...)..

Coincidentally, I found out that my BFF Kalle was going to the exact same class! These photos of me holding on tight to a bottle of red are pretty standard.

Here I am with the star of the show, Chef Alyssa. Told ya she was presh! 

So think about attending one of Chef Alyssa's cooking classes or giving it as a gift this holiday season. I promise your belly will be full and happy! Cheers!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Navy and Green Wedding - Liz & Adam's Early Fall Wedding!

Getting the professional photos from a wedding is like Christmas morning. No matter how many great iPhone photos there are, nothing can compare with the beautiful professional photos! I'm super excited to share Liz & Adams' photos taken by Brandywine Photography. Brandy did a wonderful job capturing all of the creative details of this navy, green and white wedding.

Full vendor list at the end of this post. Thanks to everyone who made this day a success!

Liz was an art major in school and her creativity shined throughout her entire wedding. Now this is how you do a DIY wedding!  Liz hand lettered all of the signage on chalkboards. I told her she can make and SELL these signs for my future brides! How precious is the little program attendant too!

The ladies got ready at the Westin Hotel. Here's her gorgeous dress hanging in the window.

Liz & Adam had a First Look at The Green in Uptown Charlotte. 

They found some big ole' balloons. 

And hey, look, there's the bridesmaids!

The ceremony was outdoors on the Trolley Museum patio, right in the heart of South End Charlotte. The bustling spot makes a unique outdoor space! With a wooden altar, navy and green tissue paper poms and white chairs, the ceremony was classic and colorful!

I loved the flower girls' little green baskets! 

Liz said she wanted something pink at her wedding so she chose a beautiful bouquet of pink peonies. A pop of pink is never a bad thing!

The bridal party took the light rail over to the venue and looked fab doing it!

The cupcakes were delicious (I had approximately 45) and I loved the chevron cupcake liners! 

For wedding favors, the couple gave out personalized pint glasses which I LOVED. Everyone loves some swag, am I right?

From personalized matchbooks to color coordinated paper lanterns, this reception killed it with creativity! 

Here's the couple I have NO doubt will live happily ever after! It was a pleasure to work with you both! 

Don't forget, there's still 2 more days to win the wine tasting kit giveaway from Coppertops Paperie! You can find the giveaway post HERE

Liz & Adam Wedding Vendors
Cupcakes: Brandy Haithcox

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wine Tasting Placemats - Giveaway!

I don't know if you've heard the news but ...

I. Heart. Wine.

White in the summer, red in the's like clockwork baby.

So when I discovered these easy, fun wine tasting placemats from Coppertops Paperie, I knew I had to experiment with them. Coppertops is a neat business out of Denver that sells wine tasting accessories like these placemats, wine wraps, wine tags, and much more.

The best part about these tasting placemats is you can be as serious or as silly as you want with your tasting.  Let's face it, some of us are just happy when any cork is popped, and some of us are more discerning. I'd say I'm somewhere in the middle? My days of boxed wine are over... it's just a faint memory of my college dorm. But I'll take a good $12 bottle any day! No matter what your style is, Coppertops has something for everyone.

I set up a simple wine and cheese get-together for a few girlfriends and we had a grand old time.

Cheese please...cheese is so very necessary.

I have to say that the identifier cards for the stems of the glasses are perfect. As a hypochondriac I have a strict no sharing food or drink rule during cold and flu season. Just write your name on these bad boys and ain't nobody going to be drinking out of your glass.

If you're bringing wine to a party as a hostess gift, use Coppertops' colorful wine wraps as a cute alternative to the traditional wine bag.

Do you want these wine table placemats? How about 16 of them? And wine identifiers and a set of wine wraps? I thought so. You're in luck - I'm giving away all of this and all you have to do is comment on my blog or like Coppertops on FB! You know you want to. The giveaway will run through the following weekend (over October 19th at midnight) so enter through the rafflecopter below to have a chance to win and be a hostess with the absolute mostess! Cheers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 29, 2014

Halloween DIY Feature

So guys, in between planning and coordinating weddings and events, you may know I dabble in styled party shoots that typically feature awesome brands. You remember my ....

or my

Well next up, I've got a fabulous DIY Halloween Cooking and Craft Party over on MomTrends that features cute kids, cute clothes and easy DIYs. You can check out the full party (including where to get the crafts and clothes) HERE, but in the meantime feast on some eye candy with photos taken by the fabulous Kristen LeQuire. 

In other good news, Monday's basically over. Whew! Hope yours wasn't too brutal.