Lemon Ricotta Cake with Strawberry Frosting and Balsamic Strawberries

Balsamic Strawberries and Pomgranates.jpgAre you feeling it like I’m feeling it…seeing it like I’m seeing it???   The warmth of the sun, the pop of greens, the new melodies of the song birds???  Spring, albeit too early, is bursting all around us!  From tree blossoms to grass weeds…the signs are everywhere!  Soon…crates of Strawberries will be showing up from Plant City, Florida to satisfy our strawberry indulgences and vices.  And although a nasty freeze will surely make an unwelcome appearance before it’s all said and done…we can still be excited about Spring’s beautiful, life renewing arrival.  Continue reading

Tea (or Champagne!) Party 101 and 3 Must Have Tea Cookie Recipes

 

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Tea  Champagne Party 101.  Start with three really good cookie recipes, a few bottles of champagne and some of your best girlies!  Done!  It’s that easy!  You’ve made a party.

But seriously…with a little pre-planning, you can throw the most heavenly tea champagne party that’s ever been.  The pay off is so worth the effort!   Like with any party, once you’ve determined what you’re celebrating…birthday, engagement, baby shower, etc…you can then settle into some details.  My planning/brainstorming looked something like this:

Tea Party…Around Valentines Day…A “Gal”entines Day Affair…Marie Antoinette Style…One Year Blog Anniversary…around 8 – 10 ladies…all in shades of blush Continue reading

“That Calls for a Celebration!” A Modern Day Tea Party

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So your kid went pee-pee in the potty for the first time?  Let’s Celebrate!  Your pups got a clean bill of health at the vet?  Let’s Celebrate!  Your rude co-worker didn’t give you the stink eye in the hall today?  Let’s Totally Celebrate!  Point is, it really doesn’t take much to whip me into a frenzy and pop a cork in celebration.  But with the one year anniversary of my blog approaching, I knew I wanted to do something a little over the top to commemorate the occasion.   Soooo… (pronounced long and drawn out…very southern-like), being the self proclaimed prissy pants that I am and having never shied away from anything girly or glamorous, I decided to throw a tea party…but not just any garden variety tea party.  A modern day Marie Antoinette style tea party where there is, in fact, no tea, only champagne, and plenty of delectable treats on which to feast your eyes and tickle your taste buds.  Since the party was to occur just before Valentines Day, I made it a “Galentines Day” affair and invited a few girlfriends, making it the most fabulous, frolicky, gorgeous party I’ve thrown in a very long time!  Friends came dressed to the hilt and we spent Friday afternoon laughing, loving, sharing, being a little serious and a tad silly!  I’m guessing Marie Antoinette would have felt right at home! Continue reading

Fireside With Friends ~ A Casual Fall Dinner Party Celebrating Comfort Food in the Great Outdoors!

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I promise that no friends were harmed in the shooting of this blog!  Real Friends.  No actors.  (Wait!  Check that.  A couple of my friends are actors but let’s not get caught up in semantics.) And from all accounts (and even though I bossed  my friends around a great deal that night)… everyone had a ball!  Create your own outdoor party like this one and you’re guaranteed to have a ball too!!!

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Confession…I have dreamed of creating a party in this backyard oasis ever since I was first invited to the Russell’s beautiful home about a year ago. Continue reading

Dreamiest. Wedding. Ever

When you’re Brittany Spyksma and Travis Howard (The Howard’s, thank you very much!) everything you do is a scorching metal fire ball speeding down the barrel of a cannon and something is about to go “BOOM”!  Suffice it to say, their wedding was no different.  It matched their love, beauty, spirit and wild perfection in every way.  Every…single…solitary…way!   I’ll say it again…Dreamiest Wedding Ever.  For starters…they look like this…The Howards

Dreamy, right?!  If you don’t think  this photo looks like something right out of your wildest wedding fantasies, then you’re dead.  That’s right…you croaked and didn’t know it.

Their invitation arrived on heavy  vanilla tinted paper with a wine colored inscription that read “join us for a breathtaking evening of Magic, Music and Marriage.”   The invite was accompanied by a redwood fragranced insert that read:  “GET READY FOR THE BEST PARTY YOU’VE EVER BEEN TO.”  Yep.  That pretty much sets the tone and sums it up.  But you’ve gotta remember…we’re talking about these two.  When you look and feel like this, confidence is your mantra.  (All kidding aside, they are as beautiful inside as they are outside and the best friends anyone would be lucky enough to have!)Brittany and Travis

I am going to do my best not to blather on and on ad nauseam about the perfection of this wedding.  Pictures should tell the story quite well!

San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, California was the backdrop to the day and no picture that I took will ever be able to capture the majesty of this unforgettable place.  Do yourself a favor and click here to see this spellbinding location in all it’s photojournalistic glory.    However, this is the scene I captured upon entering the wedding site.  Insert jaw dropping here.San Ysidro Ranch

We sipped champagne, mingled with wedding guests and at the appointed time, made our way to the garden just beyond the stone wall where the chairs had been assembled in the round.  Ceremony perfection.Ceremony Quartet A grassy, folky, country quartet played beneath a lush pergola as we made our way to our seats for the ceremony.  So Brittany and Travis…

Nuptials in the Round

Now I’m not one to get “star struck” but little did I know that the lady in the background wearing a white coat was making her way to sit beside me.  No big deal…she’s only an Academy Award Winning actress!  Yep…fun stuff.  In fact, the day was sprinkled with a “who’s who” cast of Hollywood heavyweights.   Just another “day in the life” when you’re the Howards.  However, it was my ringside view of Travis as he looked at his bride that seized my heart.  With tear filled eyes and a grin as big as Texas, Travis stopped in the middle of the ceremony and said to Brittany, “This is the best wedding ever!”…like no one else was even there…as though it were just the two of them.  It was an amazing moment…The Howards First Introduction

The girl…the dress…the grand entrance as Mr. and Mrs Howard!  Brittany and Travis joined the rest of us in the side garden where we were enjoying delectable passed hors d’oeuvres and signature cocktails designed by the newlyweds.  Don’t worry…I’ll share.

After cocktails, we moved into an adjacent courtyard area for dinner and dancing.  As a designer and blogger…the feast for the eyes was just getting started!  No stone had been left unturned in the planning of this event as every detail was executed beautifully and  flawlessly.  Ladies and Gentlemen…the flowers!

Romantic Wine Soaked Floral Arrangements

We arrived upon this sexy and awe inspiring tablescape scene.  Never has a floral arrangement captured the essence of a bride more than this one.  The colors are romantic…an infusion of red wine and ruby lipstick and wild playfulness!  The linens are the softest lavender, glasses are crystal, purple and amethyst, ribbons are the palest blush.  I could go on and on because, for me, this is pure delight.

Stunning Bridal Tablescape

Antique roses play with ranunculus, which play with lilacs, who play with orchids, rosemary and fern.

Dining with the Howards

The Table

The Perfect Antique Rose

I love this trick of pulling back some of the rose petals to achieve an even more antiqued look.  Scrumptious!

The Pflugs Celebrating the Newlyweds

The Pflugs having no fun at all!  (sarcasm, much?)

The menu reflected the theme of the wedding.  Beautiful and inventive…a feast for the eyes and tastebuds!

The Slice...More Decadence

The crème de la crème!…The perfect ending to a glamorous meal…rich and decadent chocolate wedding cake with champagne!

The Howards at Reception

The definition of HAPPY!  Notice that her lips match those flawless ranunculus in her floral arrangements!  What a dreamy couple!

When Steven and I returned home from one of the most romantic weekends of our life, I knew that I would reminisce about this occasion for many years to come.  I assembled some of the baubles and accoutrement from the wedding and arranged them on my bed….daydreaming about every aspect of my trip and feeling a little blue that it was over.  Among the fun coasters and programs, I discovered a wood covered jump drive with the initials “B” and “T” carved on it and it was as though I had found sunken treasure.  As a wedding favor, the couple had assembled some of their most beloved recipes, all blog like, into a wonderful e-book entitled B and T Eats.  It came complete with photographs and everything!  I was giddy, I tell ya!  What a cool way to share with your friends and gift them with recipes from your table!  The drive was also loaded with the song that Travis wrote shortly after he met Brittany (Travis is, among other things, a fancy famous songwriter.  Brittany, a fancy famous make-up artist) and, subsequently, the theme of the wedding.  You can hear “Maybe It Will” here.  It’s just wonderful…

Wedding Paraphernalia

Remember how I promised you a cocktail recipe from the reception?  This one comes compliments of the groom…

GOODBYE HOLLYWOOD

  • hefty shot of Cazadores Reposado Tequila
  • juice from one Grapefruit, strained
  • splash of Bitters

Shake with ice and enjoy!  I shall toast the happy couple with every sip!

Thank you to the Howards for allowing me to share their extraordinary day!

 

Black and White Wedding Photo Credit:  Katherine Rose, katherine@maxandfriends.com

Happy Couple at Reception photo credit:  Emma Robinson