Thursday, August 30, 2012

Trend Alert: Patterned Bridesmaid Dresses

I'd like to open with saying that it's hilarious that I just used the phrase "Trend Alert".  I mean, my haircut is inspired from a page of last year's LLBean catalog and I am currently wearing an all-maroon getup that includes both a Bates T-shirt and Bates shorts.  But bear with me.  I happen to know some trendy people, oooookay?  And popping up everywhere are patterned bridesmaid dresses, which I think are a great departure from the traditional.

At my friend Jane's wedding, for example, her sisters wore blue and white ikat dresses.  They were festive and summery, but also less stuffy than the traditional bridesmaid dresses you usually see (of which I own a bunch).  Here are a few patterned (AND off the rack) dresses I think would be sweet bridesmaid dresses:

1. J. Crew (the aforementioned blue and white ikat dress)
2. Anthro
3. Lilly
4. Nordstrom (this dress is $42 if you really want your bridesmaids to love you)
5. Boden

Depending on the season and feel of your wedding, I think it's definitely something to consider.  Two years ago, I dressed my bridesmaids in solid, nearly-fuschia dresses that none of them seemed especially into.  In retrospect, I wish I had mixed it up a bit with patterned dresses.

What do you think?  Do you prefer traditional bridesmaid dresses or would you be willing to try out patterned dresses?  Anybody else starting to see a lot of patterned bridesmaid dresses?  Let us know and stay hip!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sweet and Savory Watermelon Appetizer

I know you're going to think I straight up lost my mind...but trust me.  THIS IS AMAZING. 

One of my all time favorite restaurants is Purple Pig in Chicago.  The food there is just outrageously good.  

 I was there last week and one of their summer specials was watermelon with mitrah cheese, lime, and mint.  I also tasted a pop of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil.  I couldn't stop thinking about it so I made my own version.  Mitzrah cheese is very, very similar to ricotta salata (ricotta that's been pressed, salted and dried).  I couldn't find either so I just picked a cheese that looked good...Iberico cheese.  I'm leaving for Spain tomorrow after all...

Watermelon Slices
Lime Zest 
Fresh Mint
Firm Cheese of Your Choice 
Kosher or Sea Salt 
Olive Oil 

Ok this is super easy.  Finely chop a few leaves of fresh mint and mix with some fresh lime zest (exact measurements don't matter).  Drizzle a little olive oil on top, and then finish with freshly grated cheese and sea salt.  I can't describe to you how good this is.  I have an idea.  So you don't have to make individual servings, this Labor Day, do the exact same thing, but use fresh watermelon chunks and make a salad.  YOWZA.  I'm a smart cookie.  Stay hungry!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tater Tot Casserole aka Minnesota Hot Dish

So last week I posted about the Minnesota Hot Dish that was featured at my sister in law's traditional Minnesota themed rehearsal dinner.  DUDE. It was good.  So I just had to make it myself. 

So, me being me, decided not to follow any recipe and just made up my own version.  I really like how mine came out.  I have a personal problem with canned of mushroom soup.  Instead, I just used a corn starch slurry.  Oh yeah.  I also added sausage.  JIMMY DEAN SAUSAGE.  (Sorry, Uncle Mike). 

1 lb of Ground Beef (85/15)
1 Pkg of Reduced Fat Jimmy Dean Sausage
1 Pkg of Tater Tots or "Potato Rounds" 
1/2 Cup Frozen Petite Green Peas (these are sweeter)
1/2 Cup Frozen Corn 
1 Cup Freshly Shredded Cheddar Cheese 
2 Tbs of Corn Starch 
Salt n' Peppa 

If you ever want to tighten something up - whether it be soup, gravy, or in this case, ground meat, make a quick slurry.  All you do is add corn starch and a little bit of water, mix and then add it to your simmering mixture.  Cream of mushroom soup acts as a thickening agent, but it also adds a lot of salt.  So, this is a good alternative if you like to control your seasoning (like yours truly). 

After you've poured the slurry in, add your peas and corn.  You could also add carrots, sauteed onions, peppers...anything really.

I love the pop of color and crunch the veggies add.

Next, add your shredded cheese...

...and then your army of tots.

Cook the casserole in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the tops of the tots are golden brown a crunch-a-licious.

Yes.  Please.

This was good. Like super trooper duper good.

Can you get electrocuted from licking your computer screen...anyone?  Anyone?

What do you guys think?  Stay hungry! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cape Town Love

 have mentioned that I have been trying to get myself to South Africa for years now.  Though the safari was unforgettable and an added bonus, Cape Town was what I was really interested in seeing and experiencing.  I had heard of how beautiful it is, how laid back the people are, and, yes, that there were PENGUINS within driving distance.  It didn't hurt that I also have two wonderful friends from my camp counselor days who live there and have been begging me to visit for years. 

Cape Town lived up, and more.
A city set between mountains and the ocean, it has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Table Mountain, perhaps the best known vista in Cape Town, as viewed from a park downtown (the flat mountain on the right)...

Jesse and I rented a car and drove around the city and the suburbs one day.  Ten minutes away from downtown, we were greeted with these gorgeous views:

We were visiting in August, which is (a very, very mild) Winter in South Africa.  I can only imagine what it's like during the summer.  All of Cape Town has a very beach-towny feel and I am dreaming of heading back in December to check out the surf beaches and go for a swim.

My sweet friend Alison was kind enough to take us down to Cape Point (aka the Cape of Good Hope) one day:

Cape Point was originally thought to be the southernmost tip of Africa, but that honor now goes to a nearby Cape Agulhas.  There still seems to be some confusion around this, but it was a beautiful trip down (about an hour from Cape Town) and we got to see where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.  And, on the way home, some baby penguins:

So, if you can brave the long flight over there, I cannot recommend it enough.  I have been calling Cape Town "the city of my heart" since well before I visited, but now I know it's true.  I will be back to normal crafty, homey blogging next week!  Until then, enjoy a few more photos:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Minnesota Hot Dish

Last weekend was my sister in law, Holly's, wedding.  My mother and father in law hosted the rehearsal dinner at their house and it was just beautiful.  They set up the tables near the beach complete with string lights, tiki torches, and beautiful green hydrangea centerpieces.  Dinner started right at sunset - perfection.

All beautiful touches aside - let's get to the good stuff.  THE FOOD.  They had a traditional Minnesota dinner (love) complete with Minnesota Hot Dish.  Now...not just any hot dish.  TATER TOT HOT DISH.  Sweet lord this was good.  After everyone left, I pulled out the left overs and made a tater tot hot dish burrito.  Yup, that happened.

Here are bride and groom digging into the feast...

I asked Grandma Marge (Charlie's Grandmother) how to make this delicious feast.  I found a recipe that sounds very similar to hers, courtesy of Mr. Food:

Photo courtesy of Foodie Noob.
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (16-ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/2 cup milk
1 cup (4-ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 (32-ounce) package frozen seasoned tater tots
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brown ground beef, onion and salt in a skillet over medium heat, stirring until meat crumbles and is no longer pink; drain. Spoon ground beef into a sprayed 2-1/2 quart baking dish. In a small bowl combine soup and milk, mix well. Layer frozen vegetables, soup mixture and cheese over ground beef. Top with frozen potatoes.

Bake 30 minutes or until potatoes are golden.
I'm going to be making this in the very near future, but adding my own special twist. Stay tuned and stay hungry!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Garnet Hill Sale of the Day

One of my favorite places for homey finds is Garnet Hill.  I have been drooling over beautiful Garnet Hill sheet patterns since college, where I would check online to choose which TwinXL sheets I just had to have (are you all that surprised that Jaisa wasn't friends with me at Bates?). 

Though Garnet Hill has grown like crazy in the past 10 years, what hasn't changed is their beautiful sheets, great quality, and, oh yeah, the fact that a purchase from Garnet Hill will probably always be a splurge for me.  Enter their Sale of the Day... one of the first websites I check each morning.

The Sale of the Day is exactly what it sounds like... a day-long discount on one (or a few) of their items.  Usually it's a mix between clothes and household items.  Though I prefer their household items (I LOVE all of the Garnet Hill bedding I own), I also have a bunch of Garnet Hill sundresses, the perfect pair of black flats, and a belt that I have snagged during the Sale of the Day.

Here are a few Garnet Hill items I am hoping to see on Sale of the Day soon:

1) Signature Flannel Bedding
2) Claire Reversible Shower Curtain
3) Cotton Fleece Blanket & Throw
4) Dream Quilt Shams (we already have the quilt and I LOOOOVE it)
5) Flat Weave Wool Rug
6) Collapsible Basket

And did you know that Garnet Hill has a wedding registry?  My friend Leah registered there for her October 2011 wedding (of course I bought all of her gifts from it).  I didn't know when we got married - otherwise my house would have many, many more beautiful sheet sets and fewer kitchen gadgets.

Any other sites you check daily for a good sale?  Let me know and stay homey!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Wedding Bathroom Baskets

How many times have you been to a wedding and you say, oh snap, I just spilled my red wine on my summer dress at like 4pm and now it looks like a) I'm an alcoholic because I've been drinking since 4pm and b) now everyone knows I'm a mess.  Oh that's just me?

Gosh.  You're so judgmental.

Restroom Amenity Baskets

Anyway, that exact scenario might not happen to you, but maybe you've needed some gum, a spritz of hair spray, or maybe it looks like you've been dancing in a Tsunami and your once voluminous hair is now shellacked to your forehead and the only thing that could help you is 4 hair elastics and an army of bobby pins.

Either way, having a toiletry basket for the ladies and men's rooms are a nice touch for your guests and pretty effortless to put together.  The above picture is courtesy of It Weddings Florida.  I'm a sucker for wicker.

Here are some suggested items for the restrooms.  All of the items below can be found in a convenient travel size at Target.  To incorporate the wedding colors, I've used gift tissue paper to line the bottom of the baskets.  It also helps give the items a little height.
  1. Pain Reliever
  2. Antacid (I'm a fan of Zantac)
  3. Benadryl
  4. Gas-X 
  5. First Aid Kid 
  6. Spray Neosporin
  7. Contact solution
  8. Visine
  9. Deodorant (spray would be ideal, but if you can't find it, get the regular.  If someone is desperate they won't care.)
  10. Hand and/or Body Lotion
  11. Colgate Wisps 
  12. Floss
  13. Mouthwash
  14. Toothpicks
  15. Hair spray
  16. Body Spray (Axe spray for guys, Dove Body Mist for girls)
  17. Blot Strips (guys and girls both love these)
  18. Lingerie Tape
  19. Tampons
  20. Sewing kit
  21. Nail File
  22. Brush
  23. Hair elastics
  24. Bobby pins
  25. Safety pins
  26. Tide To Go pen
  27. Mints
  28. Gum 
  29. Lint brush
  30. Kleenex 
I like the idea of including a little sign or poem. Here's a good one that It Florida Weddings posted:

So happy you’re here to share in our special day, but should something happen to go astray, please help yourself to the contents within, Kleenex, hand lotion, and even aspirin. Use only what you need and leave the rest, it may also be useful to another guest. So repair the damage that may have been done, then hurry on back and join in the fun! Whether your skin feels dry or your hair out of place, you’re not feeling so fresh, or whatever the case. We've put together a basket to help you along. Now hurry back out before you miss the next song!

I made these for a wedding last weekend and I overheard several people mentioning how many of the items they used.  Score.  Ok Caitlin, I know this isn't really a "homey" post but this is about as crafty as I get.  So here it goes - stay homey! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

South Africa: Safari

Usually what Jaisa and I write about falls into either the "homey" or "hungry" categories and I struggled a bit to make this fit into our usual repertoire.  However, the posts I do sharing pictures of my trip to South Africa aren't really either (though I guess "hungry" fits more if you factor in all of the "circle of life"-esque animal encounters we witnessed).  Stick with me.  I'll get back to crafting soon enough.

I'll start with the safari we did in The Kruger National Park.  We went with a guide from Nhongo Safaris and it was amazing.  We had interesting commentary on all of the animals we saw, plus park history, safety tips, and much more. 

I'll start with the hardest to see animal, since pretty much everything else we saw was up close and personal.  I spy a leopard...

Speaking of big cats, check out these cheetahs that walked right in front of our safari van (and the cars of some other park visitors) on our first night...

We stayed in these tents at the park.  My friend called it "glamping" and I guess that's what it was.  Each tent was equipped with two beds, a desk, a reading area, and a large bathroom.  It was amazing.

One of my favorite parts was elephants, up close and personal.  Adult elephants, baby elephants, and (eventually) angry elephants.  Once they started stomping their feet and raising their ears, we were advised to put down our cameras and sit quietly until they calmed down. 

Here are two in a collection of photos Jesse took of me taking photos.  Cape buffalo and giraffes...

And since I mentioned the CIRCLE OF LIFE, here I am at 6 AM (it was like 30 degrees), wearing my glasses to better see the carnage that was this wild dog eating an impala it had just caught.  My head is blocking the poor impala.  Can you tell I am about to puke?

Enough photos of me.  There were some hungry, hungry hippos...

...dueling warthogs...

...and rhino, who are in big trouble because poachers are going after their horns

There's only room & time this morning for so many pictures, but I wanted to share with you some of my favorites.  The safari was definitley one of the highlights of our trip and though we didn't see one lion (shocking, since we seemed to see Pride Rock about 90 times), I am SO glad we took 3 days out of our trip to head to Kruger.  Heading on another safari is definitely top of our list for when we return!  Many thanks to Nhongo Safaris!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Bride Wore Purple

While I sort through my Africa pictures, I want to share some photos from a GORGEOUS wedding I went to this weekend.  The weather was great, the food was amazing, the gin & tonics were flowing, and the band was out of this world.  And, yes, the bride wore purple, but I'm not sharing a picture of her just yet.  It seems like I should clear it with her before I post a shot of her on the internet, no?  And since she's deep in the Caribbean for the next 2 weeks, that will just have to wait.  For now.

This Saturday was the wedding of my dear friend Jane.  For the nearly-twenty years we've been friends, she's consistently been the most stylish person I know, so it should go without saying that her wedding was nothing but fabulous.  But I'll say it anyway.  It was amazing.

The wedding was at the Larchmont Yacht Club, back in my hometown and a convenient five minute walk from my parents.  Though thunderstorms were forecasted, we were greeted with sunshine & beautiful flowers overlooking the Long Island Sound.

Jane's mom has beautiful blue & white porcelain urns and planters all over their house, so I wasn't surprised to see some making their way into the wedding decor.  How GORGEOUS are these orchids?  Also check out the basket of fans to the left, very helpful on a warm day.

Speaking of flowers, check out these boutonnieres.  Thistle.  SO pretty and simple:

The "seating chart" was a box of matches with the name & table number of each couple.  Cute AND useful, right?  You can't see it from here, but the matches have mermaids on them which match this lovely lady on the table.  Nautical by nature.

And on our tables, there was more blue & white pottery.  Cohesive and very Jane.  Dinner rolls not cropped out because they were so tasty.

The bride & groom's table was right in the mix of things (not set apart or a head table) which I loved.  Especially since we were at the table right next door.  How cute are these "Love You More" signs where Jane and Ben sat?

As the night wore on, tons of lanterns above the diners and the dance floor turned on.  I am a huge sucker for lanterns at weddings (or anywhere, really), so I was in love.  Speaking of in love, the bride & groom looked so happy and I couldn't be more excited to see all of the great things they do together!