Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We have been busting our butt getting ready for Thanksgiving. I'm not going to admit what time I'm posting this, but I will tell you that if I don't go to bed soon, I may as well just stay awake. :-P

Here is my menu for the day:
  • Roasted turkey (I even made stock to use for the gravy this year!)
  • Classic mashed potatoes
  • Cornbread dressing with onions, fennel (because I'm allergic to celery), apples, water chestnuts and pecans
  • Smushed sweet potatoes and apples (we love these, we might even try to incorporate them into the wedding menu)
  • French green beans with roasted nuts and dried cranberries
  • Whole kernel corn (because I'm weird and I like to mix it with my mashed potatoes)
  • Cranberry sauce (I made it with orange juice, a little drizzle of molasses and a splash of honey cherry wine)
  • Oprah biscuits (I totally cheat on the biscuits and use the Southern style Grands. Thanks for the tip, Oprah!)
  • Black cherry gelatin with black cherries, pineapple and pecans (I feel a little dumb admitting to making Jello, but it's our weird family tradition. Although this year I'm putting my own spin on it and I'm making a mold with my Williams-Sonoma pumpkin patch mold. I know. I'm a dork.)
  • Pumpkin bread pudding with caramel sauce and whipped cream
We'll be serving it with our favorite cranberry wine by Pasek Cellars. We plan to serve it at our wedding, too!

I don't know who took these pictures, because they were sent to me. We didn't dress our dogs up as turkeys. However, we did dress Gracie up like this for Halloween once, and Dylan pointed out that a Native American costume would be somewhat appropriate for the occasion:

Now if only we had a pilgrim outfit for Franklin. He went as Elvis.

But I digress...

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Remember to think about what you're thankful for today!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Holiday and Wedding Menus

Hi everyone!

I received an email the other night from our wedding photographer checking to make sure everything was alright because he noticed I hadn't posted here for a while. Thanks Matt!

In case anyone else was concerned, everything is alright. I haven't been feeling especially inspired (or inspirational) lately in the wedding department, because I've been a busy bee. Dylan's family (aka my future in-laws) are coming to our place for Thanksgiving this year, so I've been driving myself a little crazy in preparation. I may have mentioned this before, but my mom is very much the hostess-with-the-mostess type and she set the bar pretty high when I was growing up. This will be the fourth Thanksgiving I've cooked, but it's the first one with real guests. The last few were just us, usually with one of my parents. There will still only be 5 or 6 of us this year, but our entertaining space is woefully small, so it will feel like a full house. For whatever reason, I've chosen this year to second-guess some of my Thanksgiving recipes, which means I've been spending a lot of time reading magazines and online recipes trying to see if I can find a couple new dishes for this year's Thanksgiving menu. I've been talking to some friends and clients about traditional recipes, and it's funny the way we all have our own dishes that we associate with the holiday. One of my clients recently said that the first time she went to Thanksgiving at her in-laws, she couldn't believe they weren't serving sauerkraut alongside the turkey, because that was always a family tradition for her. I haven't heard any feedback from Dylan's family, so hopefully they aren't expecting something like sauerkraut this year! Do you have any special Thanksgiving traditions? Leave me a comment and tell me about it!

Speaking of planning menus, that has been one of the toughest parts of our wedding planning so far. We still haven't found a caterer that we've really clicked with yet. I have a question for all of you brides-to-be or newly-weds: Have the caterers you've met with offered tastings? Every wedding planning book I've read (and there have been many) talks about the importance of tasting the menu you've chosen. I think that makes complete sense, because if you're going to be spending thousands of dollars on food for your guests, you want to know what you're going to be serving them. Much to my (and Dylan's) chagrin, none of the caterers we've met with offer tastings. It seems bizarre to me. Dylan is especially disappointed, because as a food-lover, trying the food was the part of the wedding planning he was most looking forward to! I'd like to hear what others' experiences have been with hiring their caterers. If you know a fantastic caterer (especially one who will let us try some of the food) in the Spokane / Coeur d'Alene area, please send them my way!

And because I always like to throw in a little eye candy, I wanted to show this crafty autumn decor idea:

You know I love the balance of elegant and rustic, and I think these corn husk wrapped votives from Martha Stewart are an interesting example -- perfect for an autumn themed wedding, or your Thanksgiving table!

Hopefully things will slow down a little soon, because I'm excited to try to put together at least a couple of winter wedding posts!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween! Halloween Wedding or Party Treats!

Happy Halloween everyone!

I have had no time lately -- this week has been a beast! I couldn't resist putting together a few pictures for Halloween, though. Getting married on Halloween isn't really my cup of tea, but some of these pictures are so cute, I can see the appeal! I figured that for most of us, these would just be inspiration to throw a fabulous Halloween party.

Genius event planner Amy Atlas is responsible for the majority of these pictures. The picture of the table settings is from Real Simple. The dark chocolate graveyard pots de crème with tombstone cookies are from Sunset. (I linked to the recipes, although I think those are both prime "fake-it" treats if you're not feeling gourmet. Make some instant chocolate pudding, crush some Oreos over the top, write RIP on some Pepperidge Farm cookies and wedge one in the top of each dish.) They have some other really adorable Halloween party treat ideas, including these Spider Eggs:

(Mmm, deviled eggs and olives!)

And these cute little candy corn truffles:

Make sure to check out the Pina Ghouladas with these creepy "speared eyeball" garnishes from Hostess With the Mostess!

(Gross, yet delicious! I love lychees a whole lot and blueberries are one of Dylan's favorites. I just never would've thought to turn them into creepy eyeballs.)

If you're interested in trying one of the many pumpkin beers out right now, we'd recommend the Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale. We got excited and tried darn near every brand we could find of pumpkin beers and ales, and that was our favorite.

Okay, that's all for now. I just wanted to share a few of my favorite Halloween finds this week and hope that it provides some inspiration for your Halloween festivities!

Have a fun Halloween and a great weekend!

Friday, October 23, 2009

FREE Wedding Music!

I have another great wedding find to share! It's The O'Neill Brothers Wedding Music: Amazon Sampler.

It's really quite lovely. It's a wonderful collection of classic wedding songs, and to top it all off, it's FREE to download! There's nothing more budget-friendly than free. For those brides who are planning to have an iPod instead of a band or DJ, you may have just found your processional or recessional songs!

You can listen to samples right here, and either download just your favorite tracks, or download the whole album for free.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pretty, pretty water!

I like to pass on great deals when I find them, and I've found something I think is really cool!

Dylan and I were wandering around at Big Lots yesterday. They always have an assortment of weird stuff, and every so often I find something great. We turned a corner and I saw a stack of boxes labelled Evian with a fun pattern on them. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that they were limited edition wine bottle sized glass bottles of Evian with a beautiful lace pattern design by Christian Lacroix.

(I found this picture on Green Wedding Shoes.)

I love them.

Once I saw what they were, I got excited and thought, "Ooo, glass bottles instead of plastic! Festive instead of utilitarian! Elegant! Oo la la! These would be a classy upgrade for the wedding!" Dylan looked at me skeptically and said, "I don't know. A dollar?" and I looked at him funny right back. I explained that they were multi-serving size glass bottles, they were Evian, and they were Christian Lacroix. When none of those things meant anything to him, I also pointed out that to buy a plastic bottle of Dasani at a gas station would cost a buck, so it really wasn't weird to spend $1 on these. To that he said, "Oh, yeah. That's true. And they are pretty cool looking..." I offered a compromise: Let's just buy enough for holiday entertaining for now. Our tap water tastes like crap, and these are a much more classy option to offer guests. We came home with a case and I decided to get online and Google them to investigate my find.

Check them out here on the Evian website. $13.95 per bottle! HOLY MOLY!

Dylan gets a huge kick out of a great deal -- almost as much as I do. He gawked at the website and went, "Wow, you're good. Who knew?! Well... you did! You were right, let's go get more!" Bless his heart. So today after work, he went and bought a few more cases. (Actually, my mom ended up going because when I told her about them, she wanted some and she was kind enough to buy them for us! Thanks Mom!) We now have plenty of fancy schmancy beautifully decorated Evian water for our wedding guests. I also plan to use them as part of a welcome basket / bag for our out of town guests. Hotel tap water always tastes like chemicals, and to buy a bottle of water out of the mini-fridge is ridiculously expensive. I thought this would be a cool addition to greet the people who have travelled to join our celebration.

One of my best friends is a super stylish dreamboat (he's going to laugh that I called him that) with a definite eye for detail. What's the guy version of fashionista? We've been friends for over half of our lives now. I miss him terribly because he now lives in NYC. If these bottles didn't weigh so much, I'd send him a case for his holiday entertaining because when I saw them, I thought of him. Even if most people don't notice them, I know Jeffrey will appreciate them. Between him and my mother (whom I fondly refer to as Martha Stewart on crack), at least I know I'll always have someone to appreciate the little details!

Before I get carried away in sentimentality, the point is: if you think these are cool and you have a Big Lots near you, rush your butt down there and get some! I think the lace pattern would be perfect for any wedding, but I think they'd be especially gorgeous for a winter wedding.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cute wood-grain faux bois save the date cards!

I was just looking on the minted. website and found thesed adorable save the date cards that I wanted to share. I've been obsessed with faux bois (wood-grain) patterns, so of course I was happy to find these!

They're called Fall Carving Save the Date Cards by Amanda O'Rourke, if you want to find them on their page.

I couldn't link right to those cards, but I did find this banner that shows the cards, and a code to get 5% off your purchase! Yay for saving a little money!

5% Off Seasonal Save The Date Cards

I hadn't looked at minted. before. I was impressed by their variety. They do everything from save the dates, invitations, menus, bridal shower invites, and thank you cards to custom calligraphy and custom letterpress designs. They even have an eco-friendly line. Some of their stuff is way out of my league price-wise, but they do have cute stuff that is within my budget. For example, those save the dates are $163 for 100 of them. Not bad at all! (Plus, a lot of their save-the-date examples have the name Aly on them. Maybe it's a sign!)

Since it's getting closer to the holiday season, I'll also mention that they do a lot more than wedding stationery. I was oogling some of their holiday menu designs and thinking that if I were more well-to-do / fabulous, I would like to have those for every party I ever hosted.

Here is a really sweet wedding menu option:

Those are called Charmed Menu Cards by Oscar+Emma Design. I love the initials dangling like charms with the little thank you note tag at the top. Plus, I've always liked dogwood flowers.

I just wanted to share a cool new find, but I ended up liking their stuff enough that I decided to sign up so I could link to them. If you click on one of the links and end up ordering something, I guess they'll send me like a quarter. Yeehaw! If I get kick-back for spreading the word about stuff I think is cool, that will make my day.

One last thing:
If you're in the market for holiday photo cards, they have a 15% off holiday card discount for early shoppers. Real Simple even calls them their favorite resource for personalized holiday cards. The code is EARLYSITE09 and it expires on 10/18, so hurry!

Have a great weekend everyone! We plan to live it up for Dylan's last weekend of funemployment. By live it up, I actually mean sit together on the couch a lot. We've rented a bunch of movies, we're stocked up on popcorn and Halloween candy, and almost everyone we know is out of town or stuck working this weekend. It's feeling like a hermit weekend. I'm kind of looking forward to it!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wedding Place Settings and Table Decor

I apologize for not posting more lately. I've had doctors appointments, dentist appointments, and we've even squeezed in a little socializing with friends! I am also somewhat happy to announce that Dylan accepted a job offer, and will be starting a new job on Monday. I say somewhat happy because it seems like the few places that are hiring right now are offering really low wages because they know how many people are desperate for work. I'm going to miss how much time we've gotten to spend together this summer since he graduated, but we're both trying to be optimistic. Fingers crossed that he likes the job, and that they appreciate what a hard worker he is!

(Oh, and I've also become somewhat addicted to playing the stupid games on Facebook. That hasn't helped.)


I've been working on this blog entry about wedding reception table decor and place settings for days, because I have been having a heck of a time finding the right pictures to go along with it. Actually, that's part of what I wanted to write about -- how hard it is to find realistic inspiration! It's a big topic for me to write about, because it is such a large part of the overall vibe and appearance of your wedding reception. I wanted to put some time into covering it.

As I mentioned before, I've made a couple of purchases for the wedding. I've bought brown tablecloths, and some lovely pearl colored organza napkins. I have never used organza napkins, but I have seen them in pictures and always thought they added some elegance and flair to a tabletop. I bought the darn things on eBay cheaper than I could rent the boring ol' plain cloth napkins, so I decided to go for it. I figured if we didn't like them for napkins, maybe I'd use them to wrap up our wedding favors or put them up on Craigslist. They just arrived, and I think they have the potential to be a gorgeous addition to our tables. I'm excited!

As you may have guessed, my current fascination is the wedding reception place settings and table decor. I've seen a ton of reception photos where the overall look is gorgeous, but I'm having a tougher time finding pictures that really show the details in a helpful way. I'd love to find some examples that make me think, "I want our tables to look just like THAT!" and "I know exactly what's needed, and I can totally make our tables look like that!" It hasn't happened yet, but I continue to look.

I've set a reasonably formal table before, but only our own dining room table. It's a different story when you have to set enough tables for 50+ people. I find myself wondering things like, "Do we really NEED chargers? Or bread plates?" I know that those are considered a standard part of a formal place setting, but when I start to weigh the usefulness against the added cost, I'm not convinced that it's worth it. I'm very detail-oriented, but the details can really add up. Plus, a lot of the pictures I see that use EVERYTHING end up with really cluttered tables.

For example, this photo I found on Flickr:

I originally focused on this picture because it had some similarities to what I imagine for our reception. They used dark tablecloths with light colored napkins folded to hold menu cards, and there weren't dinner plates on the table. Since we're planning to have our dinner plated instead of buffet, those are details that would go along with what we're imagining. I studied the photo for a moment and thought, "Yeah, we could do something like that." Then my eyes drifted toward the rest of the table. Don't get my wrong, they obviously went all out and I can absolutely appreciate that. The table just makes me feel kind of claustrophobic when I look at it. It seems to have gone a step past formal into overwhelming. I think it's an easy line to cross, and I'm trying to hold myself back from that edge.

While it may offend Martha Stewart if we skipped those details, I'm guessing that most of our guests may not even notice. Although if Martha Stewart would like to attend our wedding, I would spend the extra money and rent those things, because I love her. But I digress...

I am in brain storming mode, and soon my friend Samantha and I have decided to set up a practice table so we can experiment with what looks good.

I may be off the hook a bit because I'm not sure organza can be folded ornately, but it's been fun to see how many ways there are to fold napkins decoratively. This Napkin Folding Guide website is helpful if you're in the same stage that I'm in of going, "What the heck are our tables going to look like?! What do we do?!"

I still haven't found the "right" pictures yet for our wedding, but I have found a couple of pictures of napkin ideas that I like. I've been thinking that I'd like to tie our napkins with velvet ribbon, so here are some examples along the same line. Napkins rings are another spendy addition that I don't want to have to deal with, but I like the warmth and texture that velvet brings to the table. Plus, if I can't fold the organza into complicated origami shapes (not that I'd want to), tying a simple ribbon sounds good to me. (The top photo is from Martha Stewart, the bottom is from BHG.)

If you have some inspiring table decor ideas that you'd like to share, you're welcome to email me so I can post about it (I'll give you credit), or you can post in the comments section.

In the meantime, I continue to wish everyone luck with their wedding planning! I found myself fantasizing about eloping earlier today. But even with the elevated stress levels, I still like all of the details and planning. It'll be worth it to share our celebration with our friends and family. Remember, we just have to take a deep breath and sneak off for a pumpkin spice frappuccino with a good girlfriend every so often. (Thanks Samantha!)

Friday, October 9, 2009

The final countdown!

It's the FINAL COUNTDOWN! (And yes, I am dramatically humming the song as I say that.) One year from today, Dylan and I are getting married! I'm so excited, I could throw up a little.

A little after midnight, I gasped and said, "Oh my god, baby! We're getting married one year from today!" Dylan gasped, ran over to give me a kiss and said, "Oh my god, baby! I didn't realize it was the 10th!" At which point, my enthusiasm and facial expression fell and I said, "Uh... it's not!" Dylan promptly slapped his hand over his mouth and looked horrified and said, "The ninth! The ninth! I knew it was the ninth!" He does know it's the ninth, because HE chose the the 9th. Nine is his lucky number. So he's kind of a weiner, but it made me laugh.

Between having the flu, and then trying to catch up on everything I missed while I was sick, I have been a busy bee. I did make another purchase for the wedding that I want to talk about, so I'll try to get to that this weekend.

Oh, and I wanted to mention that the Amazon Mp3 download for today is a Norah Jones album for $2.99.

In the meantime, TGIF! Let the countdown begin!

365... *gulp*

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Jason Mraz album deal on Amazon.

Thank you for the get-well notes! I'm feeling better, but not back to 100% quite yet. Now I think Dylan might be coming down with it, even though we've tried to both be careful. Hopefully if he does come down with it, it's only a mild case. At least I'm feeling better, so I guess it'll just be my turn to take care of him. In sickness and in health, right?

In the meantime, I wanted to give a heads up that Amazon's MP3 download deal of the day is Jason Mraz's album Mr. A-Z for $2.99. It's one of his earlier albums, so this is a great chance to check out some of his earlier stuff for only a few bucks!

I downloaded it, and I'm listening to it right now. It's sweet, flirty, and a little sexier than the songs you've heard on the radio.

You can listen to samples right here:

Or download the whole album (for $2.99 today only) right here:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Stupid flu.

I have the flu.

Blame it on the illness, but I find myself quoting the old Foreigner song: I'm hot blooded, check it and see. I've got a fever of 103!

Well, I had a fever of 103. Now it's closer to 100 degrees. But I still feel like crap.

We don't want Dylan to get sick, so he's been sleeping in the guest room. It's the first time in 3+ years that I've had to sleep alone, and it's bumming me out. We keep making sad faces at each other from across the house, because we've never been unable to kiss and hug each other.

Yesterday my mom came over to check on me (even though I warned her against it, because I don't want to infect her) and she had a bag full of food and things like Clorox wipes and anti-bacterial soap. We already had those things, but she was pretty funny about it. She wore a really weird face mask (to make me feel better and/or make me laugh) and listed off all of the things she brought to try to make me feel better. Oranges, organic apples, Odewalla juice, sweet potatoes (I don't know why), bagels, and Vernors ginger ale. If you're not feeling well, Vernors is one of the best thing ever.

I've been missing work, and I don't have the energy to think about weddings right now. When this fever breaks and I'm back on my feet again, I'll get back on it.

In the meantime, make sure to wash your hands every chance you get, because you do not want this stupid flu.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dark Pink with Taupe / Gray Wedding Palette

I apologize for getting this up a little later in the day than usual. I'm fighting a cold, so it's kind of thrown me off my game today.

I know this isn't my usual style of inspiration board, but I just thought this was an interesting color combination that I wanted to share. I'm not sure what to call this shade of dark pink. I was thinking maybe dusty rose, or blush? I think there's a really nice earthy and vintage quality to this shade of taupe or gray.

This whole theme makes me imagine getting married in an old chapel or school-house nestled in the woods, or out in the middle of a prarie.

{click to enlarge}
The lovely stationery, the rustic floral arrangement, and the boutonniere are all from Martha Stewart.

The pink rosewood wreath is from Smith & Hawken. Unfortunately, it looks like they may be going out of business, but you can follow that link to see if they have a store near you. Maybe you can find some great sale stuff.

I'm sorry to say I can't remember where I found the gray napkins, I was just excited because they said Alyson on them!

The John Fluevog Women's Jules Ankle Boots are from Endless.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Goodbye summer!

We've been all over the place the last few days! We went to check out another caterer, we went to the mansion venue (the one we won the gift certificate for), we went to a concert, we went to a party... phew!

The caterer we checked out this time gave more direct answers than the others so far, and actually asked us a lot of questions to get a better feel for what we're looking for. The best part was that although they don't do a "tasting" in the traditional sense, they do make enough food that we have a chance to sample some of their stuff. One of the entrees that we thought sounded interesting was a dish they called pumpkin chicken. I guess they must've been making some for another event, because as we were talking she mentioned that she was going to be making that dish the next day. We made arrangements and actually just showed up the next afternoon and picked up some pumpkin chicken to go! We bought it just like you would if you were going to get take-out, but it was already made and waiting just for us. The dish itself wasn't at all what I had imagined, but Dylan and I both agreed that it was very tasty and if we had been served that meal at a restaurant, we'd both consider ordering it again. We're not sure that dish is what we'd want to serve at the wedding, but it did let us know that this caterer does a nice job with their spices and combining flavors. The other nice thing is that these people make a whole lot of desserts. They can even do our wedding cake if we want. They actually supply a lot of the fancy cakes that they sell at Huckleberry's (one of the finer natural food shops around Spokane), so Dylan and I made a trip over there and treated ourselves each to a slice of different kinds of cake. For research purposes, naturally.

As I said, we went and took a tour of the mansion venue I'd mentioned. I'm glad we went, because it actually ended up making us both feel more confident in our choice of the Jacklin Arts and Cultural Center. The mansion has potential, but it seemed like it was gradually being renovated and not quite ready to host a lot of weddings just yet. Maybe we'll still figure out a way to put the gift certificate to good use, but it probably won't be for our wedding.

Friday night we went to an outdoor concert -- Bushwalla, G. Love And Special Sauce, and Jason Mraz. It was a really good show and we had a lot of fun. The security people were a little self important and rude, but the upbeat attitude of the performers made up for it. I always loving going to a show where the musicians really seem like they're enjoying what they're doing, and Jason Mraz in particular sounded great. I obviously already like his music, but I think he may be even better live.

Yesterday we went to a vegan potluck at our friends' house. I got to try my hand at some vegan recipes, so that was an adventure. We were supposed to bring snacks instead of heavy entrees, so I made a white bean dip that is similar to a really creamy hummus, but with more lemon juice and a little fresh basil. I also wanted to try to make a vegan dessert, which was more of a challenge. I made a 100% vegan chocolate cake with a really rich chocolate orange glaze (I want to call it ganache, but obviously it didn't have cream in it.) It was surprisingly good, although the boys at the party were lamenting the lack of ice cream to go along with it. We had fun just hanging out with friends, playing some games and laughing loud enough that I'm surprised the neighbors didn't come over to see what we were up to. This may have been the last warm weekend of an indian summer, so we tried to make the most of it!

Today we're thinking about taking a day trip down to visit Dylan's sister Shannon. If we do that, we're going to be on the road for a few hours.

A lot of you may have read this and thought, "Uh... Thanks for the update on your weekend, but where the heck is the wedding stuff?" and my answer to that is that I'm hoping to have a board up tomorrow. It'll probably be a little different than some of my previous ones, but we'll see. I'm experimenting.

In the meantime, if you have a color combo that you're just dying to see, email me and tell me about it and maybe I'll feature it in the coming weeks!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wedding Song of the Day - September 22, 2009

Today's board is my idea of classic comfort, so I wanted to choose a song with similar feelings. I decided to use From This Moment On by Shania Twain for the wedding song of the day, because the lyrics are just about perfect. I've even thought it could make a very emotional processional song.

Apple, Pumpkin and Cinnamon Spice Autumn Wedding Theme

Autumn has always been one of my favorite seasons, so I'm excited that it's officially here!

Part of the reason we chose October for our wedding is because we both love this time of year. There is something so homey and comforting about the crisp weather balanced with the coziness that we create inside.

While we might not want to use this particular color palette, we are hoping to serve this style of food! YUM! Autumn foods are our favorites, especially the warm spicy flavors like cinnamon and allspice. I have an insanely delicious recipe that mixes sweet potatoes and apples with butter, brown sugar and those spices. As soon as the weather starts to change, Dylan starts begging me to make it every year. (We're having it tonight!)

Obviously this palette would be perfect for an autumn wedding, but it could just as easily be inspiration for hosting an autumn feast or Thanksgiving.

{click to enlarge}

The autumn assortment of boutonnieres, the place setting, the caramel apples, the wood veneer place cards, the dark red bouquet, and the leaf favor boxes are all from Martha Stewart.

The autumn bouquet (below the pumpkin pie) was photographed by Theresa Valls Photographic.

The pumpkin cauliflower casserole, the pumpkin chicken chowder (bottom left corner), the pumpkin pie with autumn leaves, and the pumpkin spice cakes (top right corner) are all from Country Living.

The pumpkin martini is from Thoughtfully Simple.

The roasted sweet potatoes (bottom right corner) were photographed by Victoria Pearson.

The pumpkin whoopie pies are from Williams-Sonoma. (When Dylan saw this board, the first thing out of his mouth was, "Why don't we have little pumpkin cakes like that?")

The spiced apple cider (top left corner) is from Cooking Light.

The pumpkin votives and table decorations are from Good Housekeeping.

Can I also just tell you how much I love these fall forest pie cutters from Williams-Sonoma? They make me want to be a better pie maker. They had me when I saw they had an acorn and an oak leaf!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wedding Song of the Day - September 19, 2009

The wedding song of the day is Nothing Gives Me Pleasure by Josh Rouse. I love this song because it's sweet and earthy. Plus, the phrase "nothing gives me pleasure like you do" is just a dreamy compliment.

Green, Brown and Acorn Wedding Theme

I know it's been a while since I've posted an inspiration board, but it's because I have had a mental block. I've been really straining my brain trying to work with some colors and details for our wedding, which seems to require an extra effort. It's fun and a little easier for me to detail color palettes for inspiration, but a little more tricky when I decided to incorporate some of the specific elements we plan to use.

Here are some of the goals for our wedding:

We want autumn warmth, without being cliché. That means no pumpkins, and avoiding the more traditional orange, yellow and red palettes.

We love the symbolism of acorns and oak trees, so we want to feature them in our details, but in cute and hopefully not cheesy ways.

A little DIY craftiness is a plus, because it emphasizes heart-felt sentiment when you know that someone put the time and effort into making it themselves.

Here are some of the things we're going for:

expressive of our personalities (go ahead, you can call us "nuts")

So what do you think? What comes to mind when you look at this board?

{click to enlarge}

The green oak leaf menus, the green napkins with green acorns, and the pinecone and acorn boutonnieres are from Michelle Rago.

The oak branch candle holder centerpieces, the acorn cakelettes and the acorn ornament are from me. The acorn cakelette pan is from Williams-Sonoma.

The acorn boutonniere in the top right corner is from Martha Stewart.

The bowl of green acorns was photographed by Kathryn Kleinman.

The chocolate tablecloth is what we're supposed to receive in the mail any day now. The green fabric is a sample of what we're considering for an overlay.

The lime green twig ball pomander with mini leaves is from Modage Floral on Etsy.

The green paisley fabric is a close-up of a Brioni handmade silk tie from europeansilkcompany on eBay. We love paisley, so I'm thinking about splurging on it for Dylan.

I don't know who made the chocolate cake, but it looks delicious so I thought I'd use it as an example of our desire to serve delicious comfort foods. (To my future mother-in-law Jinx, who can't eat chocolate: don't worry, we will have some kind of cake that you can eat, too!)

The tufted moss ring pillow is actually a really great DIY project from Once Wed. I love the faux bois ribbon around the edge, but you can customize it however you'd like!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wedding planning is never simple.

Dylan and I went to a bridal event last night and had a lot of fun. There were quite a few different stores and vendors to check out. To encourage you to meet as many of them as possible, they gave you something that looked like a bingo card with names and logos. As you met with each vendor, they would mark off their square. If you successfully had all of your squares marked off, you turned in your bingo card to be entered in a drawings for prizes. Much to our delight, my name was drawn for one of the nicest gifts they were giving away! We received a gift basket with a bottle of champagne, champagne flutes, a variety of chocolates, and a certificate for $500 toward the venue rental of a historical mansion! I had actually tried to find the mansion online before, but they don't have a website up yet. They included a simple brochure with a couple of pictures that make this place look absolutely beautiful. There are just a couple of problems:

We already put a deposit down for Jacklin Arts and Cultural Center, and we both really like it as a venue!

The $500 certificate for the mansion isn't transferrable, so if we don't use it, it goes to waste. :-(

The coordinator of the mansion seems like a very nice man and encouraged us to come take a tour of the venue. We're thinking we'll tour the mansion, because really, who doesn't want a personal tour of a beautiful old mansion? If it somehow manages to be the perfect place for us (which is a long shot), then we'll have to really weigh our options. In the meantime, I'm hoping that maybe we'll be able to work out an alternative use for the certificate. Maybe our rehearsal dinner, or some other wedding related party?

So my overall reaction has been, "YAY and crap!" I really hope everything works out!


I also wanted to tell all you brides-to-be about a great deal on Amazon today. Their MP3 deal of the day is The 99 Most Essential Baroque Masterpieces for only $1.99! They aren't all the best arrangements for some of the songs, but if you're looking for some nice background music before the ceremony, during dinner, or even your processional, this is a nice sampler. 99 songs for $1.99 is hard to beat! Even if you're not familiar with this kind of music, you're likely to recognize several of these tracks as songs you've heard associated with weddings before.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wedding photographer Matt Shumate!

We met with our first wedding photographer last night, and he was great!

Not only is Matt Shumate's photography gorgeous, he is a super nice guy. He's very friendly and personable, as well as open to my many questions. As you may have guessed, I am a detail oriented girl. One of my favorite qualities about Matt is that he is a definite detail man, and his pictures really show that.

He gave me permission to showcase some of his work, and I'm excited to share it with you here! I was just going to select a few of my favorites, but I couldn't narrow it down! I had a hard time getting it down to a dozen. We looked at hundreds of pictures tonight and they were ALL good. That takes some serious talent.

{click to enlarge photos}

If you're looking for a wedding photographer in Spokane (or most of Washington state or North Idaho), Matt Shumate is one of the best! Make sure you tell him that Alyson at Keen To Be Seen sent you!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Adorable Woodsy Rustic Wedding Finds!

I've been on the prowl for some aisle decorating ideas since I posted last. Since then, I've found a couple of great woodland decorating details that I wanted to share.

For starters, I found a simple solution to the "How do I decorate an indoor aisle when there are no pews to attach decorations to?" issue. There's a website called saveoncrafts that has really great prices on almost anything you'll need for wedding decorations. On that site, I found what they call an Iron Tulle Stand (or wreath stand) that would allow me to put up decorations without worrying about jabbing anything into the ground (not an option for an indoor wedding), putting the decorations on the floor, or attaching things to chairs (not so simple if you're using chair covers). Maybe everyone else already knew about these, but just in case there are some other brides out there who have been worried about the same thing, I thought I'd share the discovery.

Next, I'm excited to have found these adorable Lime Green Twig Ball Pomanders with Mini Leaves from a LOCAL artist via Etsy! Modage Floral is right in Coeur d'Alene (only about a half an hour from Spokane, for those of you who aren't from around here.) It was pure coincidence that she's local, but it just makes it that much cooler of a find for me!

I got excited when I saw them, because I love pomanders and kissing balls, but I was having mixed feelings about how many flowers you have to use to make them. These would go great with our theme, and they might just be a great option for our aisle decorating dilemma! Hooray!


Thanks to the wonder of Craigslist, we also found these cute twig and moss baskets. It's a little hard to tell from the picture, but they're actually wooden boxes that are decorated on the outside with twigs and baskets. Lin (the woman we bought them from) just put a potted plant in each box, then topped them with some artificial moss to fill them out. I'm not sure what we'll end up putting inside of them, but I'm excited to use them for some general decoration around the room. We also bought a bunch of the hurricane glasses pictured, because we want lots of candlelight! Thanks Lin!

I bought some of the chocolate brown tablecloths I mentioned before off of eBay. I ended up buying them for cheaper than it would've cost to rent them! I also bought a couple of sample napkins from an online store, so I'm excited for everything to arrive so we can put together some color combinations and try to narrow down our color palette.

There are several local bridal events in Spokane this week that I'm excited to check out. If you're one of the local brides that reads my blog and you'd like to know what I'm talking about, please feel free to drop me a note and I'll fill you in!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ceremony floor plans

Dylan and I have been so excited about booking our venue and officially setting the date that most of my wedding thoughts have been about our own wedding. I've been dabbling with different color palettes for inspiration boards, but find myself preoccupied with imagining our own. I keep day-dreaming about what the tables will look like, or what sort of layout might work best for the ceremony.

If you're reading this, you've probably seen some of the photos of our venue in recent posts. It's an old church on the outside, and wide open space on the inside of the chapel area. It allows all sorts of flexibility and creativity for your ceremony and reception layouts. Maybe that kind of freedom can be a little overwhelming, because I'm having a heck of a time trying to figure out the logistics.

Here are some of the possibilities we're considering, as well as details that may be important:

The ceremony and reception are going to be held in the same room. There will be a cocktail hour / intermission held in other rooms to allow the room to be "flipped" as needed. I have no idea at this point who will be doing the actual flipping, but it seems it will either have to be hired help or family and friends who are dressed up for the wedding. That being said, I would like to keep the re-arranging pretty simple and not too labor intensive.

One option would be to have reception style seating during the ceremony. We will be using 5 foot round tables for the reception (as provided by the venue), and plan to have them set up in a scattered / off-set pattern with an aisle split down the center. If we choose to have people sit at those tables during the ceremony, I think we'd have to set the tables so that the guests would be seated in a way that allows them to face the front of the room. We'd basically have to remove several seats and place-settings per table. I'm thinking that might look weird and lop-sided, but it would also save the hassle of flipping the room.

The second option is to have chairs set up in traditional rows, similar to church pews with an aisle down the center. This is what we've both imagined when we've tried to picture the ceremony, because it is so traditional. The down-side is that it will take a lot more time and effort to re-arrange the furniture after the ceremony to get the room set up for the reception.

In both of these scenarios, there would be an aisle down the center of the seating arrangements for the processional. Before booking a venue, my mind hadn't yet considered things like, "If we get to have an aisle, how should it be decorated?" Now my mind seems to have set up camp there. I just can't picture it yet. I imagine it completely bare right now. Decorated chairs or tables nearby, and a completely blank aisle. There aren't pews to attach anything to, so I'm going to have to get creative. Almost every picture I've seen of a decorated wedding aisle involves the aisle drowning in flower petals. That sounds like a big pain to clean up, and the cautious old lady deep down inside of me thinks that sounds like a slipping hazard during the reception. I've never really put thought into things like aisle-runners and have no idea if it's something even worth considering. I don't want giant urns of flowers. I just feel like there should be SOMETHING that makes it look decorated more than a blank strip of floor. I've seen some really pretty decorations that involve candles, but every time I see those pictures I think, "How did their guests not set themselves on fire?" Or the bride with her big swishy gown, for that matter! Maybe setting yourself on fire on your wedding day would end up meaning good luck, but it seems like that would put a damper on the day. Especially if you set off the smoke alarm.

See? These are the things I'm thinking about lately.

Usually I like to offer up ideas and help other brides brain-storm for their big day. Today, I'm going for a little role reversal and encouraging everyone to offer up some ideas to me and anyone else who reads this blog. Has anyone else had the floor plan dilemma? Have you figured out a genius way to handle that? Do you think you had the most gorgeous wedding aisle ever? Spread the word and share the love. I want to hear about it. And see some pictures!

Feel free to leave comments, or send me an email!

I hope everyone's having a great weekend! We're thinking about trying to make the most of what is supposed to be the last hot summer weekend by going up Greenbluff to pick some fresh produce. I love this time of year!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hello, Cupcake!

I'm still in brain-storming mode for a couple of new palettes, but things still haven't slowed down enough for me to put it all together just yet. This week I have multiple doctor appointments. Today I found out I am allergic to one of the weirdest things I've ever heard of: Celery. Who is allergic to celery?! Well, me, apparently. I hope you enjoy my posts in the meantime, but there are more palettes to come!

Today I just had to share a fun find. I think cupcakes are one of the cutest foods ever. They're almost a comfort food, just because of that childhood nostalgia and sweetness. Keeping that in mind, when I saw some of these pictures on Real Simple's website, I went bananas.

Corn on the Cob Cupcakes -- these just blew me away!

Owl Cupcakes -- wouldn't these be cute for Halloween?!

Pool Ball Cupcakes -- instead of a groom's cake, or for a bachelor party treat?

Terrier Cupcakes -- the book also has "Pupcakes" (even chihuahuas!)

Spaghetti & Meatball Cupcakes -- I cannot even imagine how these taste because they look so much like the real thing, but they're made with chocolates and jam!

All of these creative cupcakes are featured in this book:

{click on the picture of the book or the link below to go check it out on}

Hello, Cupcake!: Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone Can Make by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson. I don't know if that's true and anyone can really make them, but I am willing to take that challenge.

The book also contains some really cute sunflower cupcakes that would be great to include if you're having a sunflower wedding or shower theme. One of my favorites is an assortment of cupcakes that look like an old-fashioned TV dinner! I have no idea what you'd use them for, but they crack me up. Maybe if your guy is a couch potato or has a real fondness for Hungry Man dinners? Who knows, but they're all so creative and cute!


Oh, and happy 09/09/09 -- I wonder how many people are getting married today because of the date?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

First, I just have to say that it's official! We have booked our venue for Jacklin Arts and Cultural Center. We got engaged over last Labor Day weekend, and this year we have officially set a date and chosen a venue. YAY!

I hope everyone is having a good holiday weekend! Here are a few pictures to sum up our weekend:

Beautiful Lake Chelan, with weather varying between pretty and freakishly stormy.

We took Franklin swimming in the lake for the first time!

Franklin loves long weekends!

Happy Birthday to my future sister-in-law Shannon! We'll see you soon!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Some of Our Own Wedding Inspirations!

I have been a brainstorming maniac lately. I haven't had enough time to organize some of my ideas into an inspiration board just yet, but since these are personal inspiration ideas I figure it's okay to share them just as photos. If you've been reading the blog, you know that we want to include acorns and oak leaves into our autumn theme. These are some of the things we have so far:
These are the oak branch and acorn candleabra centerpieces -- they were our first wedding purchase!

These are the acorn cakelettes and the pan from Williams-Sonoma that I made them with. I made them with a spiced pumpkin bread recipe. I like to use real maple syrup to coat the tops of the acorns, then roll that part in raw turbinado sugar for texture. They're both delicious and adorable -- one of my favorite combinations!

These are some mini acorn ornaments that we want to incorporate into our wedding favors.

We don't have these tablecloths yet, but these are some of the linens we're considering. I've actually found them for purchase for only about $2 more than it would cost for us to rent them locally, so I like the idea of just buying them and then passing along the bargain to another bride after our wedding. I'm all for sharing a great bargain! We're trying to decide what other colors we want to use with the brown. We're thinking greens, but maybe also incorporating some champagne or some other soft color. We'll see!


I'm also excited because today we're going out to Jacklin Arts and Cultural Center to have a meeting to discuss the possibility of using them for our venue.

Dylan took these pictures yesterday. They were set up for a local event (not a wedding) but I thought it was cool to see the main hall without all the tables set up.
We both like that this venue has history and character, unlike some of the more corporate event centers we've seen. Fingers crossed that we'll be able to work something out with them. I'll let you know, of course!