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Happy Friday

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e82VE8UtW8A[/youtube]

I am really hoping to dance to this song this weekend. Unfortunately, I am not a hot dyke like Rihanna and will not look nearly as cool. Maybe if I can procure myself a lion.

Is your dog a hipster?

What is your design personality?

I wouldn’t cuss if I hit this pothole.

Sometimes I want to move into a little nugget house with my little nuggets.

I want a beach house.

But I guess for now arranging some beauteous flowers will do.

I like this house.

Yeah Chicago, rep-re-sent!

How genetics works

I somehow doubt my neighborhood target will get this goodness in.

The sun finally decided to come out and play in Chicago, FINALLY kicking my winter-long lo-grade-depression to the curb. So we is gonna frolic this weekend. What about y’all? What’s your plan?

This and That…Nate Berkus fans LISTEN UP

Tuesday I got all hot and sweaty with this man.

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(Sorry Marianne, I know he is your boyfriend, and you do make a beautiful couple, but when the cat’s away…)

Yep, Nate Berkus and I worked out together. Well, not so much together as adjacent to each other. Let me put it this way, my normally 35 minutes spent on the bike quickly turned into an hour and my legs are JELLO today because I could not.stop.staring. No I didn’t say anything to him. I restrained myself because even I know that approaching someone at the gym ranks just above the free clinic and below a Paris Hilton Fan Club Meeting in terms of situations in which one does not want to be recognized/bothered.

Nate Berkus shirtless in Hawaii 3 3-30-09 photo(That body don’t happen all by itself ladies…and gents. And let me tell you. In person? Beee.U.Tee.Ful)

However.

I will be returning to the gym at the same time every week from now on hoping to run into him. I dont know, maybe Nate will need a spotter or someone to stretch him out one day. And then our best friendship/business partnership can commence as God surely intends it to. At the very least my new devotion to the gym should be good for my hindparts.

The Closet Situation

Is pretty much taken care of now. I would show you befores/afters but it is really nothing to ooh and ahh over. Although I did find some unusual things lurking in there during my search.

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My Birthday

So I have gone back and forth on whether or not to blog about my Birthday celebration. I am very aware that most of you reading this do not know me personally, and I do not want to ever come across as braggadocios. I feel very lucky to live the life I do, it is not without it’s struggles, but I am aware every single day that I am blessed beyond measure.

That being said, I also am aware of how much I razz my beloved fiance on here, and I think it might be time to throw him a bone.

Isn’t he handsome?

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This year for my birthday Pete sent me to the spa to get a massage and have my hairs did, and told me to come home fluffed and ready for dinner. And so I did. When I walked in Pete ushered me into our dining room that he had set up as our own little restaurant. Replete with candles/candlesticks that he went out and purchased for the evening, can you imagine anything cuter than A Petey Pie picking out candlesticks? I can’t.

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One of Pete’s friends from home, Brittany, and her fiance Vaido have a catering company called Truffleberry Market and Pete had worked with them to create a tasting menu of all of my favorite dishes.

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Baby Arugula, baby beets, crispy herbed goat cheese, champagne vinaigrette

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Tomato bisque, petit grilled robiola cheese finger sandwich

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Brown butter seared day scallops with roasted brussels sprouts, crispy pancetta, and quail egg

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Limoncello sorbetto intermezzo

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Maple and sage seared pork medallion with braised red cabbage, pan seared herb  gnocci, and apple cider jus

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Madiera glazed beef short ribs, creamy polenta, herb roasted baby carrots

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And then, of course, Peppermint ice cream tuille cookie sandwich, chocolate ganache

It was seriously the most thoughtful, sweet, creative gift ever. If he hadn’t already put a ring on it, I would have sworn that was what was going on here. But I have to say, with or without supercalafragalisticexpialadociously wonderful Birthday gifts, I am still the luckiest girl in the world. I am marrying my bestie! And he is really hot, and I am thinkin’ he is going to age pretty well too.

So talk to me. Thoughts on how I should seduce Nate? Best birthday present you ever received? Your feelings on Pluto no longer being considered a planet? Let’s hear it.

Real Weddings: Deborah and John

This weeks Real Wedding is brought to you by newlyweds Deborah and John’s unbelievably beautiful Sea Island, Georgia wedding. Just wait until you see the tent. Listen closely kiddooze, Deborah knows what. is. up.

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We chose to have a destination wedding in Sea Island, Georgia. Sea Island is located off the Atlantic coast of southeastern Georgia, along five miles of private beach. This was a special location for us, because my family vacations there every summer and we have so many wonderful memories. Because I am from such a large family, we have always had a  strict “no ring, no bring” policy when it comes to boyfriends/girlfriends- and John was actually the first exception the summer of 2007- even though we had only been dating  5 months.

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For the wedding weekend and leading up to it, we played off my favorite color, green.  Our color scheme was green, brown, and crème. The letter pressed invitations and all other printed materials kept the same theme. The wedding weekend and theme really was an extension of John and I’s favorite things-colors, drinks, food and gift boxes.

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I wanted the guests to get a true feel for Sea Island- the southern hospitality and charm.  The guests were able to experience this through each venue we chose for the various events. The whole weekend and each venue had different feel and theme, personal touches of our favorite things, signature drinks, napkins, table linens, bars, etc.  We assembled welcome baskets for each guests with our favorite southern bites, bottled water in our color scheme, etc. and a detailed itinerary of the wedding weekend.

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The groom’s parents hosted the rehearsal dinner on Thursday night at Frederica Boathouse for family, wedding party and close family friends. The venue was so masculine and rustic, right on an old lake and perfect for a rehearsal dinner- the invitation set the tone and color scheme for this night.

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Guests were first greeted by sounds from a bagpiper in honor of the groom’s Scottish heritage and during the cocktail hour,  listened to a Frank Sinatra type band, took boat rides on the old wooden boats below, and sipped on the signature drink:  “The Mactini” (we played off my husband’s last name: McInnes and his favorite liquor-Crown).

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Each table was named after John and I’s favorite places in Portland, Oregon. Portland means so much to the both of us as it is one of our very favorite places to visit. – The head table was appropriately named “The View Point Inn” as this is the place we got engaged.deb12

On Friday during the day, my dad hosted a golf tournament at The Lodge, while I had my bridesmaid luncheon.  Friday evening, we hosted a Southern Welcome Dinner for all guests at Rainbow Island. This is a charming outdoor venue right on the Black Banks River and is surrounded by marshlands.  Guests were welcomed by the soul singers- the Friendly Stars, that sang old southern music .

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During cocktail hour, guests smoked cigars, sipped on the signature drinks: Firefly and True Blue, cracked roasted oysters, and sat by several fire pits. During dinner and after, a blue grass band played on while guests ate the buffet style southern comfort food: shrimp and grits, fried chicken, bbq ribs, sweet potatoes, sliders, etc. We also had an elaborate dessert bar and s’mores for guests to roast around the fire pits.

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The wedding ceremony took place in a garden underneath hundred year old trees.  We had originally wanted to get married in the chapel right on the garden grounds, but it only fit 90 people.  Instead, I chose to walk out of the chapel into the garden to walk down the aisle, so I feel like I got the best of both worlds.

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My maid of honor was my sister, Bekah, and the other bridesmaids were my 3 sisters and sister in law. The bridesmaids wore Coren Moore, brown silk shantung dresses from Bella Bridesmaids. I had asked them each to pick a different style that flattered them the most- and they all ended up choosing the same cut.  Since our main color pattern was green, and all the groomsmen and ushers wore green and crème ties, it was a perfect balance for the color scheme.

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One of the very first bridal gowns I put on was the one I chose-it just felt so appropriate for Sea Island.  I wore a strapless gown from the Vera Wang Luxe collection. We both come from such large families- I am one of 8 and he is 1 of 5 – and Because our family means so much to us, we really wanted each of them involved in our wedding someway:  my sisters and sister-in-law were my bridesmaids, John’s 3 brothers were his groomsmen, the flower girls and ring bearers were our nieces and nephews, etc. It made the ceremony so personal.

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The reception was located across the street at The Beach Club- which we had tented. The signature drink as guests walked in was my absolute Sea Island FAVORITE- Front Porch Lemonade.  The tent and table cloths had custom made green and brown linens- as well as the bar.

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We had a second tent for the band and dance floor- which was right off the ocean.  My favorite thing about this tent was the black and white dance floor- not only did it give a great feel, it made for great pictures.

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One of my favorite parts of the entire wedding was our first dance.  The song we both love is “Your Love is Lifting me Higher” by Jackie Wilson – Although it is an older song, and fast, we danced to it our first dance-and it was so much fun.  The funny part is that we had taken a couple dance lessons to at least try and be coordinated during this first dance—little did we know that the band would play it 3 times faster than we had practiced-so we were a little off- but we still made it fun! -We just wanted everything to be personalized and that song meant so much to us.

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We never let each other get taken away by another conversation and were always right by each other. –It’s easy to be whisked away by a family friend- but I would advise staying with the groom since it is y’alls day.  We never left each other’s side the entire night and danced the night away.

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We had a special room called “Deborah’s Sweet Treats”, dedicated to my addiction to all things sweet: cookies, brownies, fine chocolates, coffee and liqueur.

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I surprised my husband with a mint chocolate chip ice cream grooms cake – and had a “Johnny Mac’s Late Night” station set up in honor of his obsession for late night: sliders, hot dogs, milk shake shooters…. It was so fun surprising him with this and I can’t tell you how happy it made him!

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Literally, the entire wedding weekend was my favorite- I can’t pin point one exact moment- it was so fun having your closest friends out to a place I hold so near and dear to me. It truly meant the world. I loved each night for different reasons because they were so different.  I was able to let go and just soak it all up.

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My biggest piece of advice to brides: it is about you and the groom- no one else. This is the only time in your life when all of your closest family and friends will be there all in one spot to celebrate the two of you! If the two of you weren’t getting married- there would be no need for a party.  You just have to keep remembering when things don’t go as planned or what not, that it is truly a celebration of the two of you and your families coming together.  This is a weekend for you to celebrate, not stress.

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Deborah’s sister, Mary Beth Burrow was her wedding planner www.marybethevents.com , she also designed and executed every single invitation and ALL printed materials for the wedding…impressive

Photographer: Missy McLamb out of North Carolina and New York City http://www.missymclamb.com/

I mean, does a Southern lady know how to throw a wedding, or what!?

Design Crush: Honey Interiors

Several blogs posted these fabulous doors a few weeks ago in the red and pink orgy leading up to Valentine’s Day.

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And I really, really liked them. And so I wanted to know who created them.

The Answer, gals and pals, is House of Honey. And there is a lot more goodness where that came from.

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Ennjoooooyyyy.

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I am especially loving the “spot the goose” game here. Remember those blow mold Mother Goose lamps? Did anyone else have those in their childhood bedrooms?

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If the fabric on these cushions wasn’t so good I would spit on this picture because I feel it is mocking me with its warm, temperate goodness. It. Will. Not. Stop. Snowing. Here.

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Not bad. Not bad at all.

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I cannot even begin to describe how happy the swordfish on the shower wall makes me.

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Swank city. I am assuming it’s for a wee child, or else the doll house is super creepy.

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Black Bedroom with furry bed cover. Let me tell you, nothing good goes down in here. Nothing. Good.

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Well, everyone is WILD for Zebra’s these days.

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Reminds me of my little Austin bunglaow. Sads. But pretty!

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Cheerful. Would be a great way to zazz up doors in a rental without having to commit to painting all of the walls.

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It’s a little bit country, then it’s a little bit rock n’ roll

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I just bought some chairs like these on ebay. I think white shiney paint might just be just the ticket.

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Y’all know how I am feeling about black and white these days.

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Walkin’ on sunshine

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It’s a little retro, but I’ll take it.

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How to make pink not supersweet.

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Some living room goodness (loving that half wall situation).

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And quirky officeness.

Soo, whatcha thinkin, Lincoln?

Career Bliss: Laura’s Homemade Cookies

Hi Loves! I am really pleased to bring you our second Career Bliss post…My friend Laura recently started a homemade cookie company and sent me THE most delightful package of her treats:

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I can tell you from first hand experience (diets be damned) that her cookies are as delicious as they are adorable, so if any of you fancy yourselves bakers/bakettes. Listen up fools.

Hi Peppermint Bliss readers!

My name is Laura and I am an engineer by day and baker by night!  While I love my day job as an engineer in Houston, Texas, I have been searching for an outlet for my creative side.  I didn’t really discover my love for baking until about a year ago, when I moved into an apartment with a real kitchen.  Now, baking on the weekends and after work has allowed me to satisfy my left brain, the part that I do not always use at work.  My primary interests today are cookies: decorated, cutout sugar cookies to be exact.

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My blog today takes you step by step through my cookie baking process to give you helpful tips and instructions for making decorated sugar cookies.

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I began by experimenting with various cutout sugar cookie recipes until I found the perfect one.  The recipe really depends on your own taste, so I would suggest picking your own favorite recipe.  A great place to look is on The Food Network website (http://www.foodnetwork.com/).  My motto is “keep it simple.”  I find that when I challenge myself with very complicated recipes, I am always frustrated in the end.  Sugar cookies should never have a very extensive ingredient list or convoluted directions.

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Once you make your favorite cookie dough, I think the key is to refrigerate it overnight.  Most recipes will recommend at least an hour, but I have found that an hour is not long enough.  Refrigerating makes the dough firmer and much easier to roll and cut.

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Before rolling out your cookie dough, you should be sure to have the following: a large clean surface, LOTS of flour, a rolling pin (one or more -I prefer at least two), ungreased cookie sheets, an apron (cute is key-always adds to the fun)! As far as cookie sheets, I use a new design that has a thin layer of air in the middle of the sheet, which helps prevent the cookies from burning.  You should also be sure to move your oven rack to the position second from the top.

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First, flour your surface THOROUGHLY!  Too much flour never hurts.  If you do not like getting messy…baking cutout sugar cookies is probably not for you.  Be prepared to have flour all over you and all over the kitchen by the end!  Scoop out a large amount of cookie dough (roughly the size of an orange).

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Knead the dough on the floured surface to be sure the dough is covered in flour.  Then roll the dough out no thicker than 1/8th inch.  Making the dough too thick will cause the cookies to cook unevenly and they will have a more rounded shape, which is not ideal for icing.  While rolling, if your rolling pin begins to stick to the surface of the dough, sprinkle a little bit of flour on the surface and on the pin.  If you have a good recipe, the dough should not rise or spread, so you can theoretically place the cookies right next to each other on the cookie sheet.  I use a spatula to transfer the cookies from the rolling surface to the cookie sheet.

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Continue to roll out the rest of the dough in small portions and bake the cutout cookies until all the dough is used.  If at any point during the process your dough gets soft and sticky, place it in the refrigerator for about 10-20 minutes to firm it up.  Also, be sure to re-flour your surface frequently.

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Before icing or storing, let your cookies cool completely.  As the icing process can be very time consuming, I recommend baking and icing on separate days.  I usually store my cookies in plastic containers for a day or two and then take them out again to ice.

Icing your cookies:

There are two key tips to making icing:

  1. ALWAYS sift your powdered sugar
  2. It’s all about the consistency of your icing

There is no real secret to my icing.  I use a generic Royal Icing recipe that can be found on The Food Network website (http://www.foodnetwork.com/).  Most Royal Icing recipes call for powdered sugar, egg whites and vanilla.  You can typically substitute the vanilla with any flavor extract you wish (ideas include mint, almond or lemon juice-be experimental!).  The important part of making your icing is to sift the powdered sugar first.  As a beginning baker, I avoided sifting powdered sugar, thinking it was too onerous a task, but it is actually very easy and makes your icing nice and smooth and pretty.  Definitely worth the extra effort!

Next, add your flavored extract, egg whites, and food coloring, stirring until blended.  You want to be sure that your icing is nice and thick.  If it is too runny, add more powdered sugar; if it is too thick, add more egg whites (or you can add water).

Once your icing has the right color and consistency, add it to a squeeze bottle with a round applicator top.  Sur la Table (http://www.surlatable.com) has some great icing application bottles, which I prefer over the icing bag, because the icing will not slip out the other end.

There are several different techniques to applying icing.  I first pipe the icing around the edge of the cookie, which is why I recommend starting with thick icing.  You can also use a brush to “paint” on the icing, in which case you would want thinner icing.  After piping the icing around the edges of the cookies, add a bit of water to the leftover icing to make it thinner.  Then fill the center of the cookies with the runny icing, which should fill the outlined area of the cookie.

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Let your base icing coat dry completely before adding any details.  Try to limit the number of colors you use and the difficulty of the design to keep things simple.  Also, make sure to mix enough icing for the base coat, because replicating a color if you run out is VERY difficult.

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Once completely iced, let your cookies dry for AT LEAST 24 HOURS!!!  This means do NOT STACK or box up your beautifully iced cookies until they have completely dried.  Cookie icing can be very deceiving and may seem dry on the outside, but is still gooey on the inside.  I recommend posting “PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH” signs all over your kitchen, as it seems no one will have the will power to resist sneaking a taste of your delicious, freshly baked, original cookies!

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I chose to bake peppermint ice cream cone cookies in honor of Peppermint Bliss and red “B’s” for the divine Miss Bailey.  I hope you all enjoy the read and find my blog interesting and useful.  You can become a fan of Laura’s Homemade Cookies on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lauras-Homemade-Cookies/280414586737?ref=ts), where I have posted pictures of all of my creations, or you can reach me at LaurasHomemadeCookies@gmail.com.

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Thanks so much for all the great tips Laura! If any of you are having an event in Houston I would HIGHLY recommend you contacting Laura to provide the treats. If you do not live in Houston, never fear, she is setting up a website and I can tell you, her cookies ship very well!

Sooo, are you hungry now?