DIY... maybe?

A couple of weeks ago, we were awakened ('startled' might be a better word, but I promise this isn't a scary story) in the middle of the night by ... this large, framed print that decided it was too strong for our living room wall and ripped right out. We didn't drill when we hung it over a year ago, and clearly, we should have.
Nothing was damaged, but it's been leaning against said wall for too many days to count. I love this print that I inherited years ago, but I'm confident I'd love it more in another place, and have been thinking: this might be the golden opportunity I need to change things up, and do something more interesting with an otherwise boring corner in our living space.

Aaron Bros.' BOGO sale is the encouragement I need to start this DIY-inspired project, featured over the summer on Design*Sponge, which seems do-able and affordable (and beachy!).
{image from Design*Sponge}
... to make-over our somewhat bland wall into a pretty collage of frames, like this:
{inspired wall featured on Shorely Chic}
I walk by our framed nautical print, sitting on the floor, begging to be re-hung every day. This DIY'er is long overdue, and with this blog, I thee wed this project. Progress reports to come.


an inviting welcome.

Earlier this week, I spotted a charming Mammoth wedding that beckoned: Come on in. Get cozy. Stay awhile. Kick up your heels. Grab a drink. We're so glad you're here. 
{image from Joielala Photographie via Style Me Pretty}
The personalized party welcome is what got me hooked and I clipped a few favorites - some old, some new and all borrowed (see credits listed below) - to share with you.
{image sources: Max Wanger via Duet Weddings; Elizabeth Messina via Once Wed; Green Wedding Shoes*}
{images sources: JK Photography via Project Wedding; Millie Holloman Photography via  Style Me Pretty}
*This is must-see real wedding - a friend's, posted last year on Green Wedding Shoes, photographed beautifully by Allison C. Photography. Debi and Dave's Carmel-by-the-Sea beach wedding is simply perfectly personal; it's so lovely, warm and inviting. Just like them.


a new BC cookbook + new weekend recipe.

Happy Monday! Soaking in some down-time (and grateful for every second), I had a chance to catch up on some DVR'd Food Network shows over the weekend, with my laptop at arm's reach for some on-the-spot recipe research and note taking. While catching up on The Barefoot Contessa, I found out that The BC has a new cookbook coming out next month (!!) - and wanted to pass on the good news.

(BTW: in the news category: here's a great q-and-a from the Philadelphia Inquirer about the new book, cooking simply and with simple ingredients.)
Barefoot, and enjoying a sunny beach weekend with one of my husband's best friends (who is not too shabby in the kitchen, I might add), we tried a new recipe from my favorite BC cookbook of the moment: Back to Basics

Prep pics: Baked Shrimp Scampi (p. 128) caprese salad and skinny asparagus - all heading into the frig.
Everything was prep-able hours in advance, and cooking time was a short 15 min. or less. We enjoyed the shrimp with a chilled caprese salad, grilled asparagus and a hunk of unheated french bread. The fresh, soft bread was perfect (and easy) for our warmer weather, and allowed for ample soaking of the caprese and scampi sauce-goodness.

Over Football Night in America at the coffee table, we paired the meal with a cool and light Chimney Rock Rose, compliments of Eddie's parents (many, many thanks).
Teddy, Eddie and I give this delicious dish six thumbs up for:
+ simple, familiar ingredients that as The BC would say: 'have the volume turned up'
+ quick cooking time (buy fresh, peeled shrimp w/tail-on to save time on the prep)
+ an easy, make-ahead meal that is pop-in-the-oven and dinner-party-friendly
+ goop. The wine/butter/bread flake topping, with the olive oil/balsamic from the caprese was so yummy when scooped and sopped up by the bread.

While I highly recommend adding this cookbook to your home library (esp. for The BC's invaluable side notes), you can also find the recipe here.

PS: My mother-in-law first made this dish for our family earlier this summer (the rave reviews greatly influenced it as yesterday's dinner choice), and she found Panko at Trader Joe's, which is new-to-me and a must for this dish. As is the squeeze of lemon prior to serving.


TGIF. seriously.

While I rarely, rarely travel for my day job, I was on the road most of the week and did not get in my usual blog-reading + web-surfing time that I crave... and I've been missing a lot of really great posts from the week (and the week prior!). So, here are a few that I've flagged to re-visit when I catch some free time:

+ a charming, homemade-ish wedding that will make your heart smile.
+ Lesley's latest post: apple tarte tatin (with red wine-vanilla caramel sauce) ... oh yeah.
+ a new-to-me East Coast-based event planner.
+ the sweetest backyard party + luncheon, complete with stripey straws, fruit-wrapped favors, mason jars and more (hello, my weaknesses).
+ for some serious, fascinating pics and reading: Oh So Beautiful Paper's tour of Crane & Co.'s western Massachusetts facility - and don't miss parts one, two and three of the tour. (Obv: love Crane, esp. for their Lettra paper we used for our wedding invitations.)

{malta lantern with decorative pumpkins + acorn vase filler + mini Indian corn vase filler}
 Hope you have a fabulous, Fall weekend! I can't wait cozy up to the latest PB catalogue and am leaving you with a taste of their new, beautiful accents and ideas for the season.


the paper trail.

With all this back-to-school talk, I thought I'd take this opportunity to address a favorite in the school supply category: paper. Pretty, pretty paper.
{photo by Amy & Stuart}
I love a good invitation to a good party, especially of the letterpress variety. And, of the entire wedding planning process, working with my my fabulous friend and designer, Lynette Fowler, to design our invitation suite was on the top of the list.  Together, we scoured stationery boutiques, in-person and online, to find inspiration in color, detail and design that was simple, clean and natural, with the right balance of formality and whimsy.

Breaking out the wedding binder - in true Fall fashion - I found inspiration from: Elum Designs; Rosebud Studio; Milkmaid Press; Paper Source; Love, Jenna; Thoughtful Day.  My favorite one-stop-shop inspiration and resource for everything paper: Oh So Beautiful Paper.

I asked a lot of questions of various printers, designers and one particular proof-reading / friend-genius, and eventually stumbled onto Bianca Mascorro of Little Miss Press, who brought our designs to life with her letterpress and calligraphy (two items of which I thought were out of budget-reach for our wedding).

Our invitation suite letterpressed on Crane & Co.'s Lettra letterpress paper in fluorescent white, 110#:
{Fonts: Bickham, Mrs. Eaves; Colors: PMS 7500, 476}

Bianca's calligraphy in upright script:
{photo by Amy & Stuart}
With a lot of research, some help from some very helpful people and a good dose of inspiration, I:
+ engaged in every detail, down to the last letter, of our invitation suite.
+ inexpensively and efficiently lined all of our envelopes with pre-cut liners.
+ finished each invitation with a ribbon of white 3" tulle.
+ was inspired to hand write our placecards and hand-draw our church-to-reception driving maps.*
+ had beautiful calligraphy as a theme woven throughout several elements at our reception.*

*More to come on paper products from the wedding weekend, including DIY-details on the envelope lining experience.

For the millionth - but not nearly last - time, thank you, Lynette.  Thank you, Bianca.

PS: If you want more of Bianca's calligraphy... I posted earlier this week about a beautiful SMP wedding that featured her work and you can view it here.


mad mag love.

You might recall my love affair with the September issue of House Beautiful. To my most pleasant surprise, my sweet friends Martha and Amanda gifted me a subscription (YES!). What a thoughtful, thoughtful treat.

Just like last month, October's issue is chalk-full of good, good stuff. I won't spoil it for you, but here's a few highlights:
{2010 Kitchen of the Year}
{ways to personalize your space: map-as-wallpaper, boldly-printed window treatments}
Favorite line: We're turning back toward a more real, untrendy, not-out-to-prove-anything look.
{Inspiring quote from Mema Design's Kim Fiscus, on her personal decorating style}

Note: Mema's newly designed Dana Point home defines California Casual. The spread is being ripped out and saved in the 'so-inspiring / keep-forever' folder.

And, if I were a bride... I would be registering for this, and not just because it's the best-looking ad in the issue:
Maybe b/c I'm in love with our similarly-striped Jasper china. Thanks to some very special friends and family... The Bright's, the Klein's, the Long's, the Mitchell's, the Poltl's and Shumway.

PS: Want more of Jasper? Check out what {frolic!} has to say.


duet weddings + little miss press = perfection.

I'm on the road today with just enough time to brag about yesterday's featured wedding on Style Me Pretty, from the best-est wedding planner on earth, Rebecca Stone of Duet Weddings, and the most beautiful handwriting artist (and letterpress'er) I know - Bianca Mascorro - aka Little Miss Press.

This gorgeous Santa Barbara wedding is a must-see (all parts - one, two and three).
{photo by Elizabeth Messina from SMP}
I am so thankful we were lucky enough to work with both Rebecca and Bianca back in our wedding planning days, and am so proud to see their talents up in SMP lights.

I'm loving every bit of this charming, sweet and stylish wedding. Go! Look! Now!

PS: Perfect timing. Coming later this week: paper special featuring Bianca's work.


using what you got.

I had high hopes of making Tulips & Flight Suit's highly recommended pumpkin bread this weekend, but with a freezer full of ripely frozen bananas, it was time. Way past time to put them to good use, and while this isn't exactly a new weekend recipe, it's new to you, from amazing sis-in-law no. 1, and is a favorite in our family.
Whitney is an amazing cook, and she cooks healthy, which means she's an amazing healthy cook. Hard to find those, so we're glad she's one of us. She taught me never to toss a slightly spotted banana, and to instead stash it in the freezer to keep until it's baking time. Best tip ever.

I've strayed a few times and tried other recipes, but I keep coming back to Whitney's butter-less banana bread. It's nothing fancy or complicated, which I like. I add roasted walnuts for some crunch, but it's generally very simple. It's light and spongey and I like to under cook it just a bit so it's a little ... gummy.

I bake this bread in mini loaf pans, but you can certainly bake this in a larger loaf pan. I like cooking small with my unpredictable oven (mini = more control?). This recipe doubles well, and if you find yourself with a cloudy college football Saturday, you can make extra loaves, freeze and save for later.

Pumpkin bread ... you're next. My foodie friend Betsy made Mary's recipe yesterday and gave it two thumbs up.

Whitney's Banana Bread with Roasted Walnuts
2 large or 3 smaller very ripe bananas*
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup yogurt**
2 room temperature eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flower
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup whole walnuts, dry roasted in a saute pan

Grease 3 mini loaf pans (to really keep this butter-less: use baking spray).

Mix bananas, oil and yogurt in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until combined. With the mixer running, add eggs one at a time, and then add the sugar and vanilla.

In another bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture to the banana mixture in three batches until completely mixed. Use the spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice during mixing.

Roughly chop your roasted walnuts and toss them in a small bowl with the remaining 1/2 cup flour to coat all the nuts.***  Add the walnuts and flour to the banana mixture. Mix until well combined.

Pour mixture evenly into loaf pans, about 3/4 full and place them on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes. Test after 40 minutes if you prefer to manage the gooey in your bread. Allow to cool on racks before removing from pans.

Yield: 3 mini loaves or 2 larger loaves, depending on your pan size.
Some additional notes:

*If you freeze your bananas, you can let them defrost in the frig for several hours (or even better: overnight) prior to baking. Make sure to set them on a paper towel or in a bowl. They sweat and ooze a bit. (This is also a good time to get your eggs out and let them come to room temperature.)

**I like keeping this on the healthy-ish side, so I use non-fat yogurt. Plain or vanilla works, though I usually use vanilla because that's what I have on-hand. I'm sure real bakers are cringing. I know whole-fat is better.

***This is a trick I learned from The BC. She says that flour-coating the walnuts prevents them from sinking to the bottom of your loaf, which makes perfect sense to me. I've noticed she applies this to most any nut or chip she adds to breads + cakes, and now I do it too. (She's also a fan of dry-roasting nuts to bring out their natural oils and intensify their flavor. You can certainly throw them in un-roasted, or omit them altogether, and if you do, make sure you add the full 2 cups of flour when whisking your dry ingredients.)

For a special touch around the holidays, I like to serve cubes of banana bread with a bowl of rum whipped cream for topping/dipping. I follow The BC's recipe.


happy weekend!

What a week. Another one just flew by, and I can feel October knocking on the door. I am looking forward to catching my breath this weekend, getting organized for Fall, spending time with family, starting a new book, maybe even trying a new recipe and indulging in one more gluttonous birthday celebration.

Until Monday... I leave you with a view of one of my favorite MB restaurants, tin roof and all. Is it dinner time yet?
{image source}


san diegans. san diego-eans. san dieg-ites

Strolling through San Diego's downtown Gaslamp district, I can't help but picture my favorite news anchor and smile. And laugh. Which, by the way, is what we did for the last 48 hours on our quick jaunt down to SD, thanks to my husband and a few of his colleagues.

Highlights include a 10-piece Dixieland band marching down 5th Street; sighting the spot of our first unofficial date (seven years ago!); taking in a view of downtown San Diego and the rockin' pool deck; a delicious birthday dinner recommendation from two very good friends (who know very good food); a top 5 lifetime massage here; and chocolate croissants to go.
{our view}
{lounging is in the details}
{turquoise cabana stripes + orange piping + geometric patterns + texture}
{our hotel's next-door-neighbor}
{Spanish wine + tapas}
Thank you for the birthday calls, notes, messages and wishes - so deeply appreciated. My brother said that 32's a magical year. Even though he's 18 months my junior, he's usually right about these things, and so far, he's not far off.


i heart anthropologie.

Perhaps the no. 1 reason why I love September: it is my birth month. And, in honor of it, I found this in the mail from Anthropologie:
Loving every bit of this perfectly put-together package = a sweet card + 15% discount + my own personal birthday necklace. Might not be so new to you card-carrying Anthro members, but it certainly made my day.
Eddie and I are heading south for a quick overnight in San Diego, combining work + play... and some birthday candles. I'll see you back here on Thursday!


extending sumer: the beach house hotel visit.

Hope everyone had a great weekend! I have a treat for you coastal living lovers.

My friend, Jessica, is the special events planner at my favorite boutique beach hotel - just one town south of Manhattan Beach - The Beach House in Hermosa.  Jessica helped us make arrangements for our wedding, and this seaside retreat was the family headquarters for our big day and morning-after-brunch. On the average week, we stroll The Strand at least once, and smile every time we pass this Hermosa landmark, remembering special moments shared with our family, and each other, almost a year and a half ago.

We love this place.

Jessica invited me back for another look at our favorite South Bay stay, and I'm so excited to share my photo tour with you.
The Beach House is a 96-loft suite-style hotel that feels more like an East Coast beach house than a hotel. Each suite comes with its own deck, and the majority of rooms have an ocean view. And when I say ocean view, I mean an on-The-Strand ocean view.
The view is amazing. It's the best in town. But, what I love most about the hotel are what make it feel like a home: Plantation shutters. Crisp, white linens. Natural accessories. Muted palette. Stripes. Adirondack chairs. Beadboard wainscoting. Capiz shell chandelier. Down everything.
Isn't it so inviting? 

I know we're all excited for Fall, but you can squeeze out a few more nights of summer with an overnight at The Beach House. It's simple, relaxed vibe and friendly staff (the kind that keeps sleepless brides company at 4 a.m.) make this upscale beach hotel feel like a cozy, welcoming home (I regret that I failed to snap photos of the in-room fireplaces and giant bath tubs (with rubber duckies!). 

The Beach House is especially perfect this time of late summer, when crowds are lighter and the sun is kinder.

May I recommend a few good eats that neighbor the hotel:
+ Good Stuff On the Strand - they will deliver to your room!
+ Mediterraneo - go on Tuesdays for Two for One Tapas.
+ Buona Vita - no corkage fee / BYOWine (order the Chicken Nastari).
+ The Underground - friendly mates, good pub food.

Jessica: Thanks for the tour! Can't wait to come back again soon.

PS: I cannot resist one more photo from that tip-top balcony three floors up. Here's a quick ode to April 18, 2009, that ruffle-y trim, the shutters, the sunlight and Amy and Stuart.
{photo by Amy & Stuart}


sunday morning breakfast for one.

Is this not the most perfect store-bought preserves?
My personal fav flavor: raspberry... atop a crispy english muffin. I love Sunday mornings.


happy friday!

I just love short weeks, don't you? This was a particularly exciting one for me, with my first guest post and all, and I'm so thankful for this blog experience and for meeting some really wonderful people like Mary.  While I'm at it, I also want to say thanks to you for visiting, for leaving your kind notes (and great suggestions) and making my day when you do.

Here's a sneak peak of what's to come on Monday - a visit with one of my favorite boutique beach hotels.
Let's hope for some Sept. So. Cal. sun this weekend. Have a happy one!


check me out!

I'm guest blogging today! This is a first, and I'm v. excited about it. Sweet Mary of Tulips and Flight Suits is moving from Fla. to Va. with her newly-winged husband (so cool!), and I'm honored to sub-in for her during this busy and exciting time.

I've been a Tulips reader for the past year now, and know you'll fall in love with Mary's beautiful blog like I have. She's a breath of fresh air, she's a yogi, she's creative, she loves Friends and is a fan of late-night cheese fries. Need I say more?

So, grab a cup, get cozy and come on over. We're talking tables today.


snaps from redondo.

Have sun, will walk. A few snaps from Labor Day weekend for your Wednesday.
A stroll through the Redondo Beach marina and pier ...
Dockside drinks ...

Homemade smoothies ...
Hope yours was sunny!

BTW: Haagen-Dazs' all natural sorbets = YUM.