Monday, July 30, 2012

Go for the Gold with these Olympic Party Ideas!

Did you spend your weekend glued to the Olympics? I most definitely did, and I loved every minute of it. Besides the more popular sports like swimming and gymnastics, the Olympics somehow make me excited about water polo and archery. Team USA all the way, of course! Plus Meredith Viera is back on the Today Show, so it really doesn't get any better than that. All you Meredith haters, don't show your face 'round here. I already have to deal with my mom watching Good Morning America instead of Today...blasphemy. 

I have to admit that while I watched hours and hours of Olympic coverage, I didn't make one Olympic inspired treat. But I thought about it. Does that count? Honestly, I was just so tired from watching the athletes work so hard. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. 

If you want to be a little more ambitious than me and serve Olympic inspired treats before these fabulous games are over, here are a few fab ideas!

Fruit Olympic Rings. So simple, right?

How about some cupcakes, with the rings piped in with gel frosting. So festive!

You can use these free printables to stick in your cupcakes and go that extra mile :)

The donuts are my personal favorites though. I'm not a huge donut person, but to be blunt, I would eat the crap out of these. It's important to get into the Olympic spirit and all.

This made me giggle. Although mine would be more like "I'm on my 2nd plate of cheese and 4th glass of wine." Cheese vs. Cupcakes anyday. Who's with me?

 And this piece of man-candy is the ultimate Gold Medal. (Sorry husband.)
You might know him as Ryan Lochte, but I call him:
Ryan Hot-chte.

 Michael Phelps who?

Hopefully I've cured your Olympic fever! Off to watch Mr. Hot-chte do his thang in the pool. (Picture school girl giggle...hee-hee cute boy swimming...giggle)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Skinny Cocktails!

Just in time for the weekend, I've got some cocktails that will make you skinny! Okay, okay, I can't promise you that, but they are pretty cocktails that look yummy and won't pack on the lbs - always key in the summertime! Check out all the cocktails at EverydayHealth HERE!

Strawberry Mojito -strawberry and mint are a refreshing combination! At only 80 cals, you know you want more than one!

The perfect brunch companion to your eggs and bacon is clearly the Bloody Mary - forgo the mix and make your own Bloody! Tomatoes are healthy, duh.

If you're headed to the beach for a late summer vacay, you'll need a tropical umbrella drink. It's pretty much a must-do, so try this low calorie Pina Colada to get that tropical feel!

If you're a vodka drinker, try my "Black and Blue" infused vodka I prepared for Tablespoon. I love this pretty purple color!

Is anyone excited about the Olympics? Rhetorical question, I know. I am PUMPED and prepared to cry at all things Team USA. What can I say, I'm a crier. Especially after a few cocktails. GO TEAM USA! Have a great weekend everybody!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fun Engagement Session!

Remember this fabulous upcoming bride I have?  The one using lots of pink and grey chevron for her fall wedding? I also talked about our marathon wedding planning weekend on this fun post HERE! We are having such a blast planning this thing, I can't even believe it's technically my job! That's what happens when you have a fun loving bride who thinks outside the box :) Needless to say I was psyched for the engagement photo sesh with the Sarah and Kyle and the fabulous Michael J. Flanagan Photography.

It was a beautiful day in Charlotte and Sarah and Kyle brought some family along for the fun. I arranged for the Southern Cake Queen pink mobile cupcakery (love this word) to be there for part of the shoot. Who doesn't want a fab pink food truck in their photos, right? Plus, it was filled with cupcakes. Double score!

Sarah and Kyle had fun with props like big ol' letters...

...and pink balloons on the tracks...

The fam got into the fun too!

Love all these's very appropriate for Sarah's heart filled wedding decor!

Sarah and Kyle smooched uptown for the camera...

...and laughed on a Trolley car (I love this shot!)

Thanks to my photog pal Michael for letting me use his pictures. I'm so pumped to show you some pink, sparkly, champagne, table dancin', heart decorated, chevron and striped straw wedding fabulousness this fall. It's all coming to you from a beautiful backyard and a pretty white tent in good ole' North Cakalacky.  

Next up on the blog this week is skinny summer cocktails to close out the last half of summer on a fun note :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Perfect Summer Salad: Watermelon, Feta, Avocado Salad

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. Mine was super relaxing and I did a good amount of cooking which is always fun. And eating. Whoops. No surprise there as that typically goes hand in hand. Some of the cooking was for Tablespoon articles and some was for weekday meal prep (score!!). Also included in this cooking bonanza was this wonderful salad I made for a cookout that I'm about to blow your mind with. I love cookouts..I love hosting them, attending them, whatever! i\It's one of the best parts of summer. 

My job was job to provide a side dish and I said I'd bring a salad. But not a boring salad. We all know the boring salad. Croutons, shredded cheese, average lettuce, average tomatoes...salad dressing from a bottle. We're all a little too familiar with the drab salad, so I wanted to shake things up with a fantastic flavor combination. I've been obsessed with the uber hydrating watermelon this season, so I went to the google machine and found this incredibly refreshing combination:

Watermelon + Avocado Salad with Feta by the Top of the Apple Blog

And I copied it straight up, no changes needed. It was summer perfection in a salad bowl. Sweet watermelon, combined with creamy avocado and savory's simply delightful. And let's not even talk about the homemade lime vinaigrette. 

Unfortunately I just took one photo of the salad (with my trusty iPhone), but I think it does it justice. Honestly, I didn't think it would be this good so I wasn't even thinking it would be blog worthy. But it was oh so blog worthy. If something can literally taste like summer, this salad does. The lime vinaigrette is incredibly easy to make and uses lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and agave. Whisk Whisk Whisk until your heart is content and your salad is perfectly dressed. Here's the full recipe.  So,this blog post is pretty much over. Make the salad asap and it's basically the best thing ever for summer cookouts. In other news, I'm about to go on a tangent below if you're interested. 

TANGENT: I am not one of those ridiculous people that needs to make everything from scratch, although ideally, it would be fun. In fact, I used to shy away from making my own salad dressing because I figured they had an entire grocery store aisle filled with perfectly good dressing. But then I realized that salad dressing from a bottle is literally like the worst thing ever for you. Seriously. If you don't believe me, read this article called: Salad Dressing, the Silent Killer. It's admittedly a little dramatic, but damn it makes me want to make my own salad dressing. Also, I recently saw a book at the bookstore that was all about salad dressing. Which I thought was absolutely ridiculous and frankly kind of pissed me off because I've always wanted to write a book and I thought, this person got a book deal to write ALL about salad dressings? Are you joking me? But now I'm thinking that maybe this person knows about how bottled salad dressing is a a "silent killer" and maybe I shouldn't be so judgemental. Because really, she's got a book and I don't. Dammit. 

Did you guys make it through my tangent? I just really wanted to get that off my chest for some reason. Whew, I feel  better! I'm odd, I know. Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fun Food courtesy of Tablespoon!

Have you ever wondered if you can find chocolate mustaches on a stick? I mean who hasn't, really. It's a pretty common wonderment. Yea...I said wonderment. Luckily I write for the fabulous site Tablespoon that gives me fun and wacky assignments, so my crazy wonderments are often brought to fruition. So clearly, when Tablespoon asked me to create bride and groom bridal shower favors out of mustaches and lips on sticks, I was obviously pumped. Finally! An excuse to make my mustache dreams come true! To read more about where to find the mustache molds and step-by-step directions, visit my Tablespoon article HERE! Photos below!

To read more about all things 'stache, check out my guest post on Party Box Designs Blog!

I've been busy at Tablespoon lately. In addition to 'staches on a stick, I've been writing about other entertaining topics such as...How to Make Watermelon Vodka... 

...and Smores made using the famous Pillsbury Crescent Rolls...can you say OMG?!

I just want to say a big THANKS to Tablespoon for allowing me to create and write about fun things. The day you get the "mustache on a stick" article assignment is never a bad day! So YAY for food, fun, parties and obviously mustaches!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Uber Fancy Dinner Party

Everyone deserves a best friend, and I'm lucky to have several. Seriously lucky. But my BFF of all time who is in the BFF Hall of Fame History is undoubtedly Kalle. (Pronounced Kay-Lee) Since age 13, we've been joined at the hip, the soccer cleats, the ugly braces, the awkward hair stages, what have you. She's been my go to for a laugh, a foodie tour, a prayer, or just hanging out being myself. So when this beauty turned 30, my wish was her command. Lucky for me, this momma of two and lover of all things edible wanted an uber-fancy dinner party for her 30th. Being that I love a) menu planning b) party planning and c) Kalle, I happily obliged. With the amazing help of our friends and Kalle's sweet husband Shawn, we pulled off an extraordinary evening filled with restaurant worthy food, copious amounts of wine and no shortage of laughter. It was a night to remember!

First off, here's K's beautiful family. She is a great, fun momma, her husband is a doll and her kids are adorable and hilarious. Can you tell I love their family like my own?

But sometimes you just need to get out of your mom clothes (joking Kalle, you don't have mom clothes) and get all fancy for a gourmet meal. You just do.

One of Kal's favorite colors is coral, so I thought the theme of coral and silver would go together nicely. For invitations, I decided to go the handmade route, which honestly I had never done. There are so many amazing stationary folks out there (hello, I'm talking to you Party Box Design), but for this occasion I wanted to put a really personal touch on the invites. I headed to my local Paper Source (within walking distance from mi casa - danger danger) to pick out supplies. After talking the saleswomans ear off, I decided on simple invites with a sparkly embossed "K" stamp as the motif. I used the "K" throughout the party decor. I must say, making the invites was REALLY fun, although I only had to make 6. Perhaps after 20 I'd be crying.

Also, if you're wondering, this is my handwriting. Those of you that know me and have seen my chicken scratch know what a feat this is that the writing is actually legible. I consider the party a success based solely on this fact. 

I got flowers for the table from the Farmers Market, which always has an abundance of dahlias at a super reasonable price.

The coral flower candle is from Pottery Barn and I've had them awhile (Thanks Drew!). I've been waiting for the perfect excuse to use them and this was definitely it!

I used my go to rental company Party Reflections for the linens, a gorgeous silver tablecloth and coral napkins. 

One of my favorite party tricks is using scrapbook paper. In this case I used floral and coral paper from Michaels for place mats.

As I mentioned, I used the sparkly "K" monogram throughout the decor. Exhibit A - the place cards:

I also used them as tags on the Cake Ball party favors that I had made by a great local party gal. How pretty did these turn out?!

I used fantastically awesome photos from Kal's childhood to decorate the party and the place settings. Her hair was so awesome. 

Next up is the food...oh the glorious multiple courses of food. Let's explore the culinary wonder that it was:

The food was put up on the massive chalkboard in the kitchen.

Let's dive right into it. Warning: Prepare to Drool!

As all good parties start, there was an amazing cheese plate.

Which I served with bread in this seriously cute and perfect serving caddy I found on clearance at Tarjay. Perfect colors!

The next course was the Bacon Wrapped Figs. Aka bacon wrapped piece of heaven.

Followed by a light and refreshing Strawberry Spinach Salad.

Next up is Shrimp on top of Grilled Pineapple with Mango Salsa. So yummy.

My contribution was the Phyllo Wrapped Spinach Stuffed Chicken. It was time consuming to make but turned out really well (if I do say so myself!).

How about the next course - Beef with Blue Cheese Sauce and Grilled Asparagus, plus Israeli Couscous with Walnuts, Dried Cranberries and Brown Sugar. Holy crap it was good.

For dessert there was a perfectly delicious French Silk Parfait which was just as good as it looks.

Oh...and don't forget the wine which was expertly paired with each course. 

Did I tell you we were stuffed? Like to the brim. But it was so worth it. We were even up for some photos :)

Me with the birthday girl!

With the whole gang...

How about myself with the maitre d' (aka Kalle's husband Shawn)

As per usual, Mr. Fo made a laugh out of the situation by playing on the formality of the evening. Note his handmade "Formal Event" t-shirt. It was a big hit. It's times like these I'm happy I married such a funny guy, it makes life fun :)

Man this was such a fun night and I wish it would happen again and again. 
It makes turning 30 seem not so bad... How could it be when you're surrounded by great friends, in a beautiful home, with fine wine and food! Props to everyone for going the extra mile and preparing delicious dishes to celebrate our friend.

Happy Birthday to my best friend - I love you mucho!