Tuesday, November 30, 2010

more engagement picts : )

m2 photography
so...we got the rest of our engagement shoot photos from m2 photography.  i just love them (the picts & the photographers)!  the pictures are timeless-looking (just what we were hoping for).  below are links to a few of my faves.  (the event key is "Lovebirds"...it's case sensitive.)

Photo #5 from Craig & Cailen Pictage

Photo #10 from Craig & Cailen Pictage

Photo #25 from Craig & Cailen Pictage

Photo #44 from Craig & Cailen Pictage

Photo #45 from Craig & Cailen Pictage

Photo #127 from Craig & Cailen | Pictage

Photo #133 from Craig & Cailen | Pictage

Photo #143 from Craig & Cailen | Pictage

Photo #150 from Craig & Cailen | Pictage

Photo #152 from Craig & Cailen | Pictage

oh, and if you haven't done so already, visit their blog for even more great pictures! they're awesome!

Monday, November 29, 2010

thanksgiving weekend in review

our turkey : )
wow.  thanksgiving (weekend) has already come and gone.  it's hard to believe.  i look forward to this time of year so much, and it never fails to fly by.  quicker and quicker each year.

thanksgiving table
thanksgiving was spent at my parents' house.  my mom makes a killer thanksgiving dinner.  we began prepping the day before and continued our kitchen duties thanksgiving morning while the macy's parade was on.  and it snowed! 


i'm always in charge of the mashed potatoes and homemade cranberry sauce.  my sister made homemade bread and rolls.  and my mom prepared the turkey, stuffing and her traditional mushroom souffle.  the food was spectacular.

han's homemade rolls on baking sheets
the house felt "holidayish" and super cozy with fires blazing in both fireplaces.  we visited with family and enjoyed food, cocktails and company.  perfection.

fast-forward to saturday.  we spent the day helping my parents' decorate their house for the holidays.  generally we don't decorate for christmas quite so early, but they're hosting a baby shower for  my cousin next weekend and the house has to be christmasfied by then : )

the big tree
living room mantle
we got and put up and decorated both trees (one for their living room and one for the great room), rearranged furniture, cleaned and prepped for the holidays/baby shower.  it definitely got me in the holiday spirit.

small tree in living room
then saturday night my parents had a party to go to, so i hung out with my sis and we had a girls' night.  (craig was up with his family all weekend in ny.)  we made homemade pizza.  half with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella, (delicious) chopped olives and thyme.  the other half had caramelized onions, bleu cheese, fresh mozzarella and rosemary.  omg.  they were so good!  we watched movies and enjoyed sister-time.

pizza pre-baking
pizza post-baking.  yum!
sunday craig headed back down, and we worked on our own decorations back at our place.  we got our tree situated in our family room and put lights on it and also decorated our barn with colorful strands of lights.  it looks adorable.  for dinner we enjoyed some thanksgiving leftovers my mom sent home with us : )

our cute baby tree
so, how was everyone's thanksgiving weekend?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

i can't stop this feeling...

picture credit {here}
i've been getting that "holiday feeling" lately. you know the one. it's that feeling you used to get when you were little and the holidays were soooo magical. now, i guess, it's more of a nostalgic feeling - remembering all those wonderful childhood christmas traditions. the feeling arrives sometimes unexpectedly, brought on by a christmas commercial, a holiday song or evergreen garlands around a door. other times you know it's coming. like this thursday when i'm helping my mom and sis in the kitchen getting the thanksgiving meal ready while the macy's thanksgiving day parade is on. just typing that, i got a glimmer of that holiday glow. like the kid in the polar express, i know that somewhere deep down, i'll always "believe". even when the jingle bell stops ringing for others' ears, i'll hear it. i know i will.

picture credit {here}
in order to "keep the jingle bell ringing", i think you have to work at it. and each year, i (nicely) enforce our holiday traditions. to keep them alive and to preserve them (so one day we can share them with our own children).

a few of my fave traditions (feel free to steal any that interest you!) :

-christmas ride. each year, we all pile into the car in our pjs with blankets, pillows and food and peruse nearby neighborhoods looking for the best decorated houses while listening to christmas songs.

-carolling. most years we host a carolling party. we enjoy cookies and hot cocoa before wrapping ourselves in red scarves and donning santa hats as we serenade the town. my recommendation: appoint a leader who can organize the singers and start songs so that they're on key.

-holiday specials. i make it my goal to watch as many holiday specials and christmas movies as humanly possible between thanksgiving and christmas. whether it's a sappy lifestime movie or a classic like "white christmas", i'm tuned in. hey...the holidays come but once a year!

picture credit {here}
those are just a few of the many, and i'm sure i'll be writing many more similar posts throughout the next month or so. i just couldn't resist sharing a few now!

so, what are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

happy thanksgiving : )

Monday, November 22, 2010

happy (birthday) hour

friday was my 25th birthday. that's right...i'm officially closer to 30 than 20. very strange. but anyway, i decided that i wanted a low-key birthday (but still wanted to celebrate) so craig and i invited friends and family to join us at our favorite local watering hole, bobby simone's, for happy hour(s). i mean, with 1/2 price cocktails and $3 guinness, who wouldn't have a good time?!

the bar was super crowded (way more crowded than usual), despite the fact that we got there at 5:15pm for the 5-7pm happy hour specials. even though it was packed, we managed stake our claim in a small corner and slowly expanded our territory as more and more of "our people" arrived. we visited (and drank) and ordered food (and drank some more). if you ever make it to bobby's, their cosmos are amazing - my personal fave of the countless that i've enjoyed over my 4 legal drinking years.

we all had an awesome time catching up and visiting and the time passed quickly. so, after 3 cosmos (i usually only get one or two because they're rather strong), happy hour was drawing to a close, so we headed out. when we pulled into our driveway, i realized there was an unexpected vehicle - my cousin's, who hadn't been able to make it to the happy hour celebration. (to my credit, much earlier in the night, i told craig i thought something was up, but i didn't know what exactly. his goofy smile and attempt to deny that anything was going on confirmed my suspicions...)

craig & me
i got out of the car and walked into a lovely party. there were streamers and balloons and my favorite people. erin and brian, cate and chad and my sis, hannah. the girls had made a delicious spread of gourmet pizzas, antipasto salad and a feta and mushroom tart. everything was so yummy and the cosmos (slowly) wore off as we enjoyed girl talk at the table while the boys talked about who-knows-what (probably sports and work would be my guess) in the family room. it was a great birthday with great friends. thank you guys! you're the best!!!

my only request: next time you're planning a surprise for me, craig, reign me in a bit. i thought i was going home to pjs and pizza. had i known there was a party lurking in the wings, i would have passed on the 3rd cosmo and had some champagne with my girls instead : )

Thursday, November 18, 2010

squatternut bosh quiche : )

picture credit {here}
craig has been hounding me for days about posting the recipe for a quiche i made (up) the other night.  i guess he liked it or something : )  it's a butternut squash quiche with bleu cheese and (turkey) bacon.  yum!

squatternut bosh quiche (that's for all you f.r.i.e.n.d.s. fans out there)

1 pie crust (pillsbury works just fine...)
1 medium butternut squash, chopped into 1/2 in cubes
1/2 large onion, chopped
2-3 slices of (turkey bacon), chopped
1/8-1/4 cup crumbled bleu
2 eggs
1/2 cup skim milk
olive oil

toss squash and onion with drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt.  roast in oven on large baking sheet or in a cast iron skillet for 30-40 min at 375 until slightly browned and fork tender.  while that's cooking, chop bacon and crisp in saute pan.  (or crisp bacon then chop it : )

in a separate bowl, scramble two eggs with milk, dash of curry and salt.  line pie plate with crust and fill with squash, onion and bacon.  sprinkle cheese over hot fillings so it begins to melt.  then pour egg mixture over top and crimp pie crust into a fancy design.
bake at 375 for 30-40min until eggs are set and crust is golden brown.  allow quiche to cool for a few minutes (if you can control yourself) before you cut into it.  enjoy!

joey:  remember when ross tried to say "butternut squash" and it came out "squatternut bosh"?
oh, f.r.i.e.n.d.s. how i miss you....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

picture perfect

so...drum roll please...we got the preview picts from our engagement photo shoot!  yay!!!  i can't copy and paste the images from their blog, so click {here} to view some picts from our special day in philly this past saturday.  our photographers, melissa & michael, are completely awesome, and (i think) they did a fabulous job photographing craig & me.  they made us completely comfortable and were totally open to our ideas for the shoot.  i cannot wait to see how they "capture" our wedding next november : )

Monday, November 15, 2010

weekend perfection : )

corner table at xix : )
city hall
as i mentioned last week, craig and i spent this past saturday in philly (our fave city).  we had our engagement photo shoot in the morning and then met up with craig's parents to show them xix restaurant (our reception space).  afterwards we walked around to city to check out potential rehearsal dinner locations and then capped our evening with a romantic dinner at our go-to restaurant, tinto.  it was such a fun day!

the photo shoot was fantastic!  our photographers are completely awesome (a husband and wife team), and we got along with them really, really well.  can't wait to see the picts!  (we should get a preview soon, so i'll definitely share them : )

xix dining room
it was such fun showing craig's parents our reception space and telling them all about our thoughts for the wedding.  they hadn't seen the it yet, so it was great to share it with them.  we then enjoyed lunch at xix's bar before heading out to survey the rehearsal dinner locales.

the continental, picture credit {here}
we visited quite a few, but the ones still in the runnings are the continental midtown, alma de cuba, tinto and sampan.  as of now, though, the continental (with its private rooftop bar/lounge and 1950s/60s retro vibe) is our number one!  plus, craig's parents treated us to drinks at the bar, and they were oh-so-good.  i got the "sourpuss" - st. germain (my fave), vodka (my other fave) and champagne (my other other fave) garnished with nerds (yes, nerds the candy.  not my fave, but definitely fun).  it was expertly mixed, and they served it in a small glass, so the shaker kept the remainder cold while you sipped.  nice touch. 

alma de cuba, picture credit {here}
for dinner, craig and i headed to tinto.  i know, i know, i write about tinto a lot, but it's amazing.  and i'll prove it to you.  we ordered the chef's tasting with wine pairing (as we always do) and the food just kept on coming. 

craig at tinto
 we enjoyed:

-first: cheese course with fresh bread and rosemary crackers, mixed greens salad lightly dressed, marinated (homemade) olives and jumbo lump crab crostini

-second: chicken brochettes with red grapes in a rich (omg) gravy shooter and smokey mussels in a peppery tomato stew served with seasoned fries with lemon aioli (we also used the fries to sop up the end of the chicken gravy...)

-third: marinated green beans with almonds, dates and mandarin orange slices and filet of turbo with a buttery citrus sauce

-fourth: marinated chicken confit with truffle mashed potatoes (i love truffle anything) and buttered brussel sprouts - soooo delicious!

-fifth: and then dessert...fudgy chocolate cake with caramelized bananas and a lemony sponge cake with pastry cream and cherries.  omg...so good!

the aftermath...
are you drooling yet?  oh, and did i forget to mention that each course was paired with a (generous) taste of a wine that perfectly complemented the food?!  we were in heaven.  if you can't believe what you're reading click {here}...it does exist, i swear!  and if you're ever in philadelphia, you need to go.  period.

as you can plainly see, it was an amazingly wonderful dinner/day/date.  i <3 philly (and craig).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

25 questions...

picture credit {here}
sara beth from simple thoughts from a simple girl tagged me with 25 questions to answer about myself.  so, here they are!  hope you enjoy : )

1. Do you see a lot of stars at night where you live?
i wouldn't say "a lot", but on a clear night, you can definitely see them.

2. Did you cry today?
actually, yes.  kind of.  i got a little teary eyed (in a good way) this morning over a video my mom sent me via email.

3. What are you doing tomorrow?
working.  then craig and i are heading to my parents' house for dinner and to spend the night.

4. What is the last movie you watched and what's the best thing about it?
sex and the city 2.  the clothes.  definitely the clothes.

5. Are you craving any kind of food right now?
hmmm...right at this very minute?  no.  but lately i've been dying to get some good sushi.

6. Who slept in your bed with you last?
craig of course.  we always try to convince olive (or doggie) to join us, but we're rejected every time.

7. Where were you at 9am?
i was at home having breakfast with craig.  (he's home today because it's veteran's day.)

8. How do you feel about your hair?
generally i like it.  i used to not get along with it at all because it's sooo curly, but i've learned to embrace the curl over the years.

9. Do you plan on having any babies and if so how many?
yes.  probably two.

10. Do you wear makeup?
rarely.  i'm not big into the whole makeup thing, but if we're going out, i definitely put a bit on : )

11. Have you done any community service this year?

12. What is the last concert you went to?
i think jack johnson.  like 3 years ago.  i guess we need to get out more... lol

13. Do you have any secret wishes right now?
yes (but for obvious reasons, i cannot share them...then they wouldn't be a secret!)

14. Have you ever cried in front of the last person you kissed?
yeah.  definitely.

15. If you could be anywhere right now where would you want to be?
on a romantic getaway with craig somplace secluded and relaxing (with great restaurants nearby : )

16. How is the weather lately?
beautiful.  sunny & high 50s.

17. Where do you want to eat next?
well, this weekend craig and i are heading into philly to go to our fave restaurant tinto.  so, i'm really looking forward to that meal!

18. What scares you the most about relationships?
losing people you love.

19. What's your favorite sport to play?
well, i don't really play sports.  but as far as physical activities go, i love yoga and walking.  i used to play tennis in high school, so i guess that would be the sport i like best.

20. Do you like chocolate?

21. What are you listening to?
a mix.  ella fitzgerald, norah jones, billie holiday, etc.

22. What happens to you when you get nervous?
i get tense and can't settle.

23. Does the rain ruin your day?

24. What is your relationship status?
engaged : )

25. Are you ticklish?
a little bit.  (not nearly as ticklish as craig, so i always win tickle fights.)

so, if you were "tagged" by receiving a link to this post in your blog comments, feel free to copy & paste the questions and answer them for yourself.  (ps. stop back and leave me a link to yours, if you get the chance!  i'd love to read it.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

perks of the job

back of lodge
today i went with one of my writing clients, denise from nelson bridge, to view a house that she and her design partner have been working on.  i ghostwrite their blog and do some email marketing for them, so they wanted me to see the house, so i can brainstorm some ideas about how to publicize the project.

front door - welcome to the lodge!

the place was unreal. it sits on the top of a hill in the middle of 1000 acres of land. yes, that's right...i said 1000. there are amazing views in every direction. it's done in the style of a rustic hunting lodge, but believe me, there are very, very few "rustic" qualities about the place. everything is so lavish and impressive - i felt like i was on a movie set!

great room

view down the stairs
the floor plan radiates out from the central great room.  this massive space has two huge fireplaces, four seating areas, a gigantic bar with seating for 8 people and a floor-to-ceiling window (or rather window wall) with gorgeous views.  flanking the great room are the billiard room and master bedroom on one side and the dining room and kitchen on the other.  upstairs there are four more bedrooms, all with private baths (and amazing views, of course), and the basement contains two "media zones" - one for tv viewing and the other for gaming.  like i said before...unreal.

view of great room from upstairs
notice the bar to the left???

view from widow's walk

another view of back

another great vista
what a fun day at work! 

oh, and if you're interested in checking out the blog i ghostwrite for them click {here}.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

looking forward

AKA Rittenhouse Square: In Rittenhouse Square
rittenhouse square

i just love this time of year.  (i know i've said that before, but i just can't help myself!)  i love the fall, and i love the holidays.  but this year, even more than other years, i feel like there is so much stuff to look forward to!  here's the stuff i'm thinking about this week : )

this upcoming weekend craig and i are heading into philly to have our engagement photo shoot with our photographers.  we're meeting them in rittenhouse square and going to wander the city as they snap shots of us.  so fun!  (i'll definitely share the picts when we get them!) 

m2 photography (our photographers : )
after picts, we're meeting up with craig's parents to show them xix (where we're having the reception), because they haven't seen it yet.  then, we are going to check out some rehearsal dinner restaurant options. 

craig and i are ending the day with a date night at our fave restaurant in the city, tinto.  it's a basque (spanish/french) restaurant, and they have awesome tapas.  we love getting the chef's tasting menu with wine pairing.  it's glorious : )

 oh, and to make it even better, saturday is supposed to be gorgeous weather-wise (yay!).  sixties and sunny.  i can't wait!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

how do i love thee...

love seat
dedicated to you, handsome.

xliii. "how do I love thee? let me count the ways..."
by elizabeth barrett browning (1806-1861)

how do I love thee? let me count the ways.
i love thee to the depth and breadth and height
my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
for the ends of being and ideal grace.
i love thee to the level of everyday's
most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
i love thee freely, as men strive for right;
i love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
i love thee with a passion put to use
in my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
i love thee with a love i seemed to lose
with my lost saints, --- i love thee with the breath,
smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if god choose,
i shall but love thee better after death.

i love …
1. your enthusiasm for life (seriously, where do you get the energy sometimes?!).
2. your undeniable & tireless ambition.
3. the way you make me laugh.
4. how i miss you when i haven’t seen you (for even just a few hours).
5. the fun we have together.
6. that you’re completely yourself with me.
7. that I’m completely myself with you.
8. how i can tell you anything.
9. the way you support me in everything i do.
10. date nights with you.
11. days at home (doing absolutely nothing) with you.
12. your thoughtfulness (and your flair for the romantic).
13. your laugh & that you totally get my sense of humor.
14. that you believe in us, more than anything.
15. bobby’s. (i.e. going to happy hour with you.)
16. how you know me better than anyone.
17. that you always let me know how much you love me (sometimes to the point of annoyance : ) just kidding, babe.
18. the vision we have for our future together.
19. that you love to dance with me.
20. walking with you and olive.
21. that you watch girly tv shows and movies with me and don’t complain (too much).
22. that you make me feel beautiful (even when i’m in sweatpants).
23. knowing that you’re going to be a wonderful father to our (future) children.
24. your smile.
25. that this list could go on forever…

happy 5 years together.  (this time next year, we'll be married!!!)

Friday, November 5, 2010

wedding minus one

dom perignon
craig and i are getting married one year from today!!!  on 11.5.11 we'll be tying the knot and beginning our happy married life together. 

xix's view : )

so what does one do on wedding minus one year? well, we're cracking open a 2000 vintage bottle of dom perignon (which was a very thoughtful gift from family friends), enjoying a gourmet (albeit homemade) dinner and relaxing fireside for the remainder of the evening. sounds perfect to me...

xix restaurant
one year from today we'll be in philadelphia, staying at the bellevue hyatt.  the ceremony will begin at 4:30pm in the cliveden room, and we'll exchange vows that we found in an irish wedding traditions book my mom gave us on our engagement.  after the ceremony, we'll do our first "couple shots" with the photographers (craig doesn't want to see me beforehand, so he can be surprised at the ceremony) as our guests enjoy the cocktail hour.  once we get in enough picts, we'll join our guests for the reception in xix restaurant on the 19th floor of the bellevue building.  it has amazing views of the city.  then, as the reception draws to a close, we'll remind guests to join us at tavern on broad for the after party!  fun times await : )

happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

the (holiday) countdown begins...

picture credit {here}
can you believe that thanksgiving is just 3 weeks away?!  yes, that's right...i said 3 weeks!  where does the time go?  the holiday season is my favorite time of year.  i (strive to) relish in every moment and savor every passing minute, but it's not always easy.  with an endless to-do list and tons of obligations, it's sometimes hard to sit back, relax and just enjoy.

tonight i'm presenting about how to "make the most of the holiday season" at the hunterdon county library in flemington, nj.  (for those of you who don't know, i'm a lifestyle designer and author and write about how to live a happy, healthy life.)  i was honored when asked to share my tips and techniques about how to truly enjoy my favorite time of year.

picture credit {here}
i'll be offering decorating ideas, tips about how to get through the holiday season stress-free and also discussing the importance of traditions.  (i'm all about traditions and love anything nostalgic, so i'm really looking forward to that part!!!)

so, if you're in the area, i'd love to have you stop by.  the program is at 7pm at the hunterdon county library on route 12 and is free and open to everyone.  for more info click {here}.

happy (almost) holidays!  hope to see you there : )

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

lovely blogs

so, i am officially a blog award recipient.  a big thank you to rach over at "how fickle is woman" (one of my daily reads).  her blog is great (and so is she), and i'm totally honored that she thought of me with this award!

in order to accept it, i have pass it on to 10 other lovely blogs that i adore.  hmmm....let me think...only ten??  here are my honorees : )

natalie @ miss social

ok, i know this is probably against "lovely blog award" protocol, but i would also like to acknowledge rach's blog.  i always love reading about her (mis)adventures!  (and rach, i won't hold you to the "pass along to 10 others" rule.  don't worry!)

thanks again for the "one lovely blog award" and congrats to all my lovely recipients : )

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