Happy Belated Cinqo de Mayo

Finally got the opportunity to use this giant Patron margarita glass.

Made some Classic Patron Margaritas.

Some legit Mexican food..

Mexican Rice

Chicken Quesadillas

Refried Beans….yes with lard.

Guilt-free (something has to be) Guacamole

Doesn’t taste healthy…really…boy approved.

I didn’t make these this time, but have made them before. Churros…so good.

Any good Mexican recipes you want to share?

Posted in Recipes | Leave a comment

Bridal Party Gifts


I ordered a bunch of these babies to bring my snacks with me to school. Yes, in grad school you revert to worshiping snack time (and nap time) the same way you did in kindergarten. I was getting sick of buying/running out of zip lock bags and carrying Pyrex bowls in edition to a 50 pound accounting book. I am sure the mom bloggers are already all over these and they are so last season. But, in addition to their ability to transport food, long-term, they can be used as gifts too!

What cute, reusable gift bags for the bridal party. You can personalize it by having their name stamped on them. These are from House Jewels on Etsy.

If you didn’t want to get all the same bag, you can personalize even more by getting a special design bag for each girl.

I have a friend who loves Argyle, I think she would be all about this one from Celeste Blake Designs.

And for my Mom, the cat lady, from Bag it Conscious.

Unfortunately, for the groomsman, they are not too manly. I actually have been trying to find a normal one for my husband. You know, something manly like Thunder Cats, Spider man, Superman, Xmen. I am surprised by the lack of cartoon character themed ones. However, most of the vendors seemed like they would be willing to get some fabric and make whatever I wanted.

This would be cool for a dude…maybe if it was filled with each groomsman’s favorite miniature liquor or fancy cigars.

There are so many vendors on Etsy selling these in varying sizes. They are great to use for food, to hold a gift, or my most recent use, as a makeup bag. I will say that I prefer the zipper bags to the Velcro. Normally I wouldn’t care, but trying to nonchalantly open the Velcro bag in class when you can’t wait until snack time can be distracting. They are also super easy to clean!

So in edition to getting your gals some ugly jewelry (lets be serious, they will never wear it again, and it only matches the dress they will never wear again), get them something they can use again.

For more ugly dress eye candy, go here. But if you have been to/in a wedding in the 80s or 90s, then you have probably been tortured enough.

Posted in Gift Ideas | Leave a comment

Fruit Tart

On vacation this week, so I am catching up on some much needed cooking/baking. I made this Fruit Tart for a friend, so unfortunately, I have not yet had a bite. Having a tart pan for so long, you would think I would have had the opportunity to actually make one of these. Nope. I just collect recipes for them.

 I used a combo recipe. Combo pretty and lazy.

Filling:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Mixture of freshly cut fruit

Glaze

  • 60 ml (¼ cup) cherry jelly, seedless raspberry jam, apricot jam or red current jelly

Crust

  • Homemade pillsbury pie crust…haha

Directions: Bake the crust according to the package directions. I did 450 for 10 min, but I took it out at 9 min. I might even bake at a lower temperature. Let this cook before putting the filling in. For the filling and topping: Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth. Spread over the cooled crust.  To prepare glaze, in small saucepan heat jelly (or jam) over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until jam is melted, set aside to cool slightly.Cut the strawberries into 1/4-inch slices and arrange around the edge of the crust. For the next circle, use kiwi slices. Add another circle of strawberries, filling in any spaces with blueberries. Cluster the raspberries in the center of the tart.

It was a pretty quick make. I think I would use powdered sugar instead of regular sugar for the filling next time. Or a pudding filling. I also put the glaze on the fruit as I put it on the tart. I didn’t want to mess it up by accidentally getting the filling mixed with glaze.

I got the recipe from foodgawker from La Mia Vtia Dolce. Naturally with a seemingly legit  blog title, she made everything from scratch.

What is your favorite tart? Sweet. Savory. Please share any recipes.

Posted in Desserts and Cake | Leave a comment

Kelly and Ben: Rocky Neck State Park, Niantic, CT


Kelly + Ben were the first couple I worked with. I couldn’t have asked for a better couple to work with for my first wedding.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty and awesome pictures/run-down of the wedding, I would like to take a moment to thank someone. Erin Gates of Elements Interiors, Inc. author of Elements of Style blog. Erin has no idea who I am, but after reading her blog, I feel like I have known her forever. She inspired me to put myself out there as a wedding/event planner and start Planning by Popyk. If you are thinking of starting your own business or just want to read an awesome blog, you should check her out.

All pictures courtesy of Rebecca Hale of Hales Studio. I hope to work with her again soon with my Boston clients

Kelly + Ben selected The Pavilion at Rocky Neck State Park (RN) in Niantic, CT for their ceremony and reception site. Many of their guests were from out of town and they wanted to highlight a scenic spot in CT, where they had been living.

With a save the date like this, I knew this would be a fun wedding to help plan. They got this idea from a greeting card. The opposite side is a picture of the two of them mirroring the picture with their own large pitchers.

Rehearsal dinner was at the famous Mystic Pizza, from the movie….Mystic Pizza. I am from CT and actually never have been there. So I made sure to sample the product before the endorsement…and it is just as good as everyone says. The pizza, still haven’t seen the movie.

Kelly and guests stayed at the Niantic Inn. A quaint inn located in downtown Niantic, minutes to RN which has a lovely view of the ocean. It also provides the backdrop for some great photo ops.

The guys before the wedding. Not very hard to find a boat in these parts.

The couple decided to take pictures before the wedding to maximize time with guests and enjoy the cocktail hour. I don’t blame them. Appetizers are the best part!

Some shots of the couple.

My favorite of Kelly.

Her dress was  Augusta Jones in Ivory.

My favorite of Ben.

Ben and the guys…

Parks like this one with beautiful grounds and detailed, architecturally appealing buildings are an untapped resource for weddings. You can’t beat the views and possible photo ops. The best thing about RN was the stellar staff, particularly Sue who had great recommendations throughout our planning stages.

There are multiple locations to choose from for a ceremony. Kelly + Ben selected a wooded area overlooking the water. Here Kelly’s brothers walked her down the aisle. For music, their neighbor played the harp. It was the perfect accompaniment to the waves crashing in the background.

. The ceremony was officiated by Ernest Adams of Nutmeg Justice of the Peace. If you are looking for a JP in the New England area, I would highly recommend Ernest. He is almost a JP/Wedding planner in one. Not officially, he is just that good. We needed to do multiple walk-throughs of the site because Rocky Neck Park was severely damaged by Hurricane Irene like much of the CT coast. Two weeks before the wedding, we still did not have the o.k. to use the Pavilion because trees were blocking the entrance to the park itself. Ernest worked with me to brainstorm back up plans in case we needed to find an alternative site for 250 people in 2 weeks! Yikes! Luckily the park staff worked tirelessly to get it up and running and we didn’t need an alternative.

One unique part of the ceremony that Ernest does is a ribbon ceremony. It is a way for family members to get involved. The couple and family members had a good time with it.

Kelly and the girls. Dresses by Monique Lhuillier from Nordstrom. The stone walkway wraps around the Pavillion and is another option for a smaller ceremony.

 

Flowers by McQuades. They also provided catering. This saved on cost because delivery of food and floral were combined.  The florist was excellent.

Maximizing your floral budget

  • Combine vendors
  • Stick with what exists in nature. Not because I am an ubber environmentalist. I have a rain barrel, but that is the extent of it. If it isn’t in season or if you have to dye flowers to make them the color you want, it will be more expensive and the flowers won’t last as long. 
  • Don’t be too matchy. Complimentary colors will make everything pop. 

The florist worked with us to replicate the look Kelly wanted by using local and seasonal flowers.  

And on to the reception. The Pavilion again has so much natural detail, that you really don’t need that much to dress it up. Less really is more at this place.

By day the natural light from the windows overlooking the water. By night, the vintage lanterns (and added Chinese lanterns) light the reception. At this fall wedding, we got to experience both. We went with white linens and white chairs to provide a contrast to the wood.

The cocktail hour was held at one end of the Pavilion which opened up to a Terrace. They change the flora seasonally, so no decor needed outside. You can see the ceremony site from here as well.

Centerpieces

Place settings were again simple. A single mum tied with twine to the napkin. These napkins are actually paper. Can you tell? And they are the softest paper napkins ever. With 250 plus guests, this was a huge savings. In addition they used silver plastic flatware and white plastic diner ware. Caters can buy them in bulk and they are significantly cheaper than the standard place setting.

The Entrance Table.

Kelly and Ben both have careers in the sciences, so what better way to display guest tables than a test tube filled with personalized M & Ms. The couple also displayed pictures on the table. We used green mums throughout the Pavilion to add a pop of color when needed. Since mums are so hardy, they lasted for the whole event without needing water.

Instead of a traditional guestbook, they had a large champagne bottle for guests to sign. Here is a before and after.

Food again was by McQuades Marketplace. Bill from McQuades was excellent in customizing a menu to Kelly and Ben’s budget. When Sue from RN recommended Bill from McQuades and said they can “hustle”, she wasn’t kidding. The catering staff was waiting at the gates as soon as they were allowed to get in, cooked the food fresh outside, managed to tie the flowers to all the place settings, helped out with centerpieces, and was packed up and out of the building in time. At RN and many reception locations you will be billed if you exceed your time. They knew how to get in and get out and leave the place in good condition so that Kelly and Ben got their deposit back.

Cake provided by Deb from O My G’nache. I have had the pleasure of working with Deb   at a previous job where I sampled many of her cakes. Deb provided a tasting for the couple, which I attended (cake….of course I was there, I even got to take some home).

You know her cakes are good when they couldn’t decide which one to select. So they picked two flavors for their guests. Red Velvet with cream cheese frosting and Pumpkin with cream cheese frosting. To save in cost, Deb made a 3 tiered cake and some sheet cakes of the two flavors. Another cost saving tip is to have desserts or cake at a table rather than delivered to each guest. This will reduce your cake costs by about 20%. Kelly and Ben offered takeout containers for anyone that wanted more cake for the ride home.

The bridesmaids had the same vintage broach for their hair from etsy.

For music, an 80’s cover band. Awesome.  Orange Crush knew how to get the party started. From the moment they started playing until last call, the dance floor was packed.

There were a lot of kids at this wedding, so Kelly wanted to make sure they had a space and some activities to enjoy in addition to the dancing, which they enjoyed plenty of. The Pavilion is very long, so even with 250 guests we were able to have the band on one end, tables and a kids activity area at the opposite end. It wasn’t secluded, but offered a spot for them to hang out.

Here they are in a pretty intense game of Apples to Apples.

At the bar, there were large bowls with a variety of toys and candy.

Invites by Vistaprint. Kelly and Ben referred their guests to their website on theknot.com.

More pretty detail pics of the flowers and windows.

And the winner of the best dressed (aside from the bride and groom of course)……I’m a sucker for seersucker.

These are my favorite pictures of the archway.

And I will end with some Rocky Neck money shots from Rebecca.

And as the sun set and the music came to an end….there was still more partying to be had. Kelly + Ben invited guests to join them for an after-party down the street at The Black Sheep.

Posted in Connecticut, Fall Weddings, Purple Weddings, Weddings on the Water | 3 Comments

The Mini Dessert

Everything is better in mini!!!

Individual Pear-maple Cobbler

I have been collecting many mini dessert recipes over the years. I tried this one over the weekend. The individual pear-maple cobbler recipe comes from The Pastry Queen Cookbook and was modified by Josie at Pink Parsley. Click here for the recipe. I used granny smith apples instead of pears. Cherries or any berry would taste great. Yes, this may seem like more of a fall dish, but I am all for eating whatever you want when you want.

Here is a picture of mine. No flashy photography, but is still looks scrumptous. And it was very yummy as well.

  

Cupcakes have been all the crazy over the past few years as an alternative to a wedding cake, but it seems like everyone is doing that. Why not try something different for dessert at your wedding, bridal shower or other event?

I am not one for chain restaurants, but the only time I ever ate at a P.F. Chang’s, I fell in love with their mini desserts.

Check out their website for the combinations.

You could do a mini, modern dessert bar and have guests choose their own. I found this on My Sweet and Saucy blog. Check it out to see all the other lovely design ideas that match this set up.

 Cool off your guests with a spot of ice cream. Blogger Brides has some other recommendations on minis.

 

 Maybe you want some danty macarons. Photo from Ultimate Weddings.

Have some pie.

See if a local bakery or pastry shop can whip up some mini-creations.

Try a mini pastry from Rosies Bakery.

How about one of these Cream Puff Swans for each of your guests. Only $1.49 a piece. Usually a wedding cake is anywhere between $3-$5 a slice. This one is from Cassis Bakery in Beverly, MA.

If you still want a traditional cake to cut, you can have your baker create a small cake just for this and have it on display along with the whatever mini you choose. 

What are your favorite mini dessert? Include a recipe or picture if you have it.   

Posted in Desserts and Cake, Gift Ideas, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Guest Post: Wedding Cake Ideas for the Budget-minded Couple

Yummmm…Chocolate…..Who doesn’t like some scrumptious cake?

Over the past few years I have had the pleasure of working with and getting to know Deb Lapointe. I knew when Deb offered to host a cupcake decorating workshop at work, that we would be great friends. We share a love for event planning, decorating, weddings, but mostly yummy desserts and cakes. Deb is passionate about her cake/dessert-making, personalizing each one with care.

Please enjoy a guest post from Deb as she recommends some budget-friendly ideas for cakes.

Deb’s Post:

In today’s economy, many couples find the need to trim their wedding budget. As scary as it sounds, you can cut some costs via your wedding cake budget by choosing one of the following options:

Today’s cakes can be different shapes-i.e. hearts, squares or triangles and as far as flavor goes nowadays anything goes. Opt for your favorite. It can be vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, carrot cake, red velvet or cheesecake. Stick with basic flavors and fillings, exotic flavorings add to the cost of the cake.

Rather than one huge multi-tiered cake, use a modest tiered cake and then several (as many as you need for your guests) sheet cakes. Serving will go faster this way as well.

Another idea that is growing in popularity is to have a “fake cake”. Decorate Styrofoam cake forms (available on various cake decorating websites like Wilton or Lucks) according to your preference. It serves the purpose for pictures and ambiance while saving money. Or, slip a real layer in between the Styrofoam layers so the bride and groom can participate in the ceremonial cutting of the cake. You can purchase sheet cakes or make your own to serve to your guests. Just be sure to calculate how many guests will be attending and provide the appropriate size cake(s) to accommodate.

Yep, these are all fake and look great in pictures. Will not melt!

Order from a grocery store rather than a bakery. Many grocers have onsite bakeries, just like they have onsite florist departments. (Not my preferred choice as I do not l care for the flavor of store-bought cakes)

Depending on how many servings you need, order a full sheet cake (100 servings), a half sheet cake (50 servings) and a quarter sheet cake (25 servings), all iced in white. Place the half sheet on the full sheet cake and then the quarter sheet on top. Use ready-to-use frosting that comes in a can with a nozzle to touch up any mistakes and fill in the gap between the layers. You don’t have to remove the cardboard between the layers, it will help steady the cake when it’s time to cut. Don’t go any higher than three layers; if you do you run the risk of the bottom layer being squashed by the weight of the upper layers. Add fresh flowers, or cover a Styrofoam semi-circle with plastic wrap and insert your favorite artificial flowers. Place on top of the highest tier for a beautiful topper. Wrap a ribbon around individual tiers for a simple but elegant touch.

Cupcakes displayed in round tiers like a cake are very popular as well as cheap and practical. These include a small cake for cutting.

Beautiful adornments might include fresh flowers, fruit, ribbon, royal icing flowers or marzipan sculpted into flowers and figurines.

Finally, for brides who aren’t happy with the traditional “couple” figurines, why not design your own “couple” out of colored fondant. There are plenty of ideas and pictures to be found online. Since fondant sets up hard, figurines can be stored in a cool, dry area until the wedding day.

Get creative with it!

Not an option? How about a monogrammed topper, fruit, flowers, or doves? I even saw a lovely wedding cake with two red apples on top – one with a “bridal veil” attached the other with a top hat. What a cute and simple (not to mention cheap) alternative to traditional toppers which can run into the hundreds of dollars depending on your choice.

A very creative couple I know found this wooden goat and bull set. The Goat and Bull being their astrological signs and the name for their retirement coffee house: The Goat ‘n Bull. Flowers are flowers, but something that tells a story is so much more memorable.

So remember, if your wedding budget is tight, you can still have a beautiful wedding cake without spending more than you can realistically afford!

I leave you with this video. When in doubt, make your own cake….it only takes 3 minutes right?

YouTube Video of Cake in under 3 minutes

Thank you so much for the post Deb. I look forward to hearing more about your wedding cakes in the future.

I used some of these cost saving methods on my own cake.

1. I went with a small grocery store rather than a specialty cake store. I didn’t want cupcakes, but I didn’t want a cake either. I fell in love with these mini-cakes at Highland Park Market. I had a friend that worked there make these red velvet dipped in raspberry ganache. She dipped the bottoms in chocolate and topped with chocolate dipped strawberries.

2. I got my cake topper at…..drumroll…Stop and Shop. Yep, it was like $20 and was lovely.

3. I bought a dozen roses to decorate the whole thing, maybe $20

4. I added the inverted wine glasses for some dimension. Already had these.

5. Cake stand was maybe $10.

6. Bought ribbon at fabric store. Under $3.

7. Still had a cake to cut.

We still  have frozen mini-cakes in the freezer….do you think they are still good after almost 5 years?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bring the Casino to You

Over the past several years I have had the pleasure of working with Grant and Jim from Casino Productions. Each year we brought them on to entertain first-year students on the last day of orientation.

Newsflash…….they do weddings too! Specializing in post-rehearsal and post reception casinos. What an awesome idea. Couples I have worked with have been looking for some type of after party to tack on to their reception. Many family members are in town the night of the rehearsal dinner and looking for something to do. Having a casino night is a perfect ice breaker (ok, captain orientation) where the two sides of the family can interact.

They can customize poker chips and playing cards with pics of the couple for an added touch.

After years of overseeing the casino as an event for students, I got to enjoy one for myself. Grant invited me to the Bruins Foundation Casino Night. I even got to dress up. Part of me felt like I needed an Orientation staff tee-shirt and to make sure there were enough dealers on the blackjack table. After experiencing the event in a non-orientation setting, I could totally see how it would be a great addition to any wedding.

In your invitations to the wedding, you could include an insert inviting guests to the Casino. This is a cute one from etsy.

I also like this one. It is actually a design for a save the date magnet, but you get the idea.

I leave you with some pictures from the Bruins Casino Night.

Grant, Jim and I. These guys were the most famous people there in my opinion.

I brought my friend Josh with me to the event. He is a season ticket holder and their #1 fan. This is him and Mark Recchi.

Tuukka Rask, Josh and Dennis Seidenberg.

Michael Ryder, Gregory Campbell, me and Dennis Seidenberg. I am so breaking up their brofest.

Me and Brad Marchand. I guess he was my favorite because he was the best dressed in my opinion.

These flowers were gorgeous as were all of the decorations. And yes, these were in the bathroom and I kind of looked like a tourist taking this. But whatev, it was at The Westin Copley Place, when am I going to be attending another fancy event there…

Don’t worry. I made sure to sample some of everything. They had an array of cheeses in one room. In the players room, they had a nice hummus, olive and pita display and then this lobster mac and cheese. So bad for you, but so good.

I need to find out who made this cake. I didn’t get a chance to try it. I was too busy camped out at the cheesecake/other dessert display. So by the time I made it over here, I was stuffed.

Speaking of cake…guest post by Deb the Caker coming soon.

 

Posted in Wedding Events | 1 Comment

Wine and Beer on a Budget

 

I must say that I do enjoy Wine and Beer Festivals, but they can be pricey and crowded. Here are some alternatives where you can get your fix for significantly less.

The past two Fridays a few of my friends got together to check out the free wine and beer tasting at Ball Square Fine Wines and Liquors. This might be a fun spot to check out if you are in the Somerville area. Or check your local wine and liquor stores to see if they have any events like this.

There are also many wineries that offer very low cost tastings and tours. I went to a bachelorette at Nashoba Winery. What a great way to spend the afternoon with some of your favorite ladies. Enjoy a $7 tour and tasting, bring a pic-a-nic lunch or dinner to eat on the porch overlooking the views of the orchards.

Or, if you don’t want to bring lunch or dinner, this winery has a restaurant on site, J’s if you are looking for a sit-down meal. Quaint cottage feel.

Has anyone been to any other low cost wine or beer tastings in the Boston area?

Posted in Free | 8 Comments

A Royal Wedding

 

Only a few more months until the epic Royal Wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William. I am sure the decor and fashion are going to be breathtaking and will set the tone for this summer’s weddings. Everyone needs something borrowed right? Why not borrow some ideas for your wedding from Kate. No need to reinvent the wheel.

It is rumored that Oldfield, one of Princess Diana’s favs will design Kate’s dress. Well, that is what Matt Lauer eludes to on the Today show. And I believe anything ML says. I am assuming she would have multiple dresses, one more formal than the other. But I am sure they will be pretty conservative. Kate is so stylish. I hope her personal flair is able to come throughout the events of the day.

I imagine her in something sleek, elegant and classic. Her style tends to be pretty classic and not uber trendy, so I don’t envision any ginormous puff sleeves as Diana had on her day. I can see her wearing something like Princess Victoria of Sweden did at her wedding.

 

A better look at the whole ensemble here.

Here is what I could imagine for a royal inspired wedding. I could see Kate or any bride in this by Alfred Angelo.

Kate is known for her hats. Just some examples….

When my husband and I went to England, I was so impressed at how the brits could really wear a suit. Kate kills it in this one, and keeps a feminine look.

There have been many side by sides of Kate and Princess Diana. Here is a good one showcasing some lovely hats.

Fun blue hat.

Kate and the Queen.

I am guessing she will probably be stuck wearing some crown jewels or something. What a drag. I am wondering if she would have selected to wear one of these at some point during the day. Maybe a feathered bridal hat like this?

This one has more veil action and is less expensive.

What could the bridesmaids wear? How about royal blue? Seems fitting.

Or maybe this? A little bit more classic.

For the men. I like this tie. Blue with a hint of red. Keeping with the British colors and all. I think maybe having grey pants to offset all of the blue action.

I like this idea.

Some royal blue shoes for the bride for a pop of color. Manola Bahnik’s. I will have me some of them shoes.

I like the idea of deep red roses mixed in with a lighter shade of red. This creates some dimension and will make the darker roses pop.

Some decor ideas starting with the programs or invites.

Some placecards

 

Maybe a handmade baked good to take home as a treat. Ok, at the royal wedding they will probably have diamonds as favors or something. But lets be serious, I am thinking about normal people’s weddings here.

 

I like the idea at the reception of having all white table cloths and including a few pops of blue here and there. Keep it simple. I like this flower arrangement. It might be hard to find a blue vase, so you could use a square vase and tie a blue knot around it.

What ideas do you have for Kate and William’s wedding?

 

Posted in Blue Weddings, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Winter Treat


I received this lovely Lolita Hot Beverage Mug from my best friend Stefanie this Christmas. I have another martini glass that my sister got me for my bachelorette party years ago. They come with a unique drink recipe on the bottom. Even if you don’t have the mug, you can enjoy one on me.

1 teaspoon sugar

1 oz vodka

1 oz vanilla liqueur

fill with hot coffee or hot chocolate

top with whip cream

Because it looked like this outside ….

I took a stroll to the liquor store for some nips to create this concoction. I had to improvise as they didn’t have any vanilla liqueur. I got a nip of Stoli vodka, Godiva white chocolate liqueur and Bailey’s Irish Cream. I made a coffee for me with the Godiva and a hot chocolate with Bailey’s for the husband. Don’t know if you can tell by the picture, but I even grated some fresh cinnamon on top for full effect.

Although we are finished with the holiday gifting, these babies could be a personalized gift for the wedding party as thank you gifts or for the bride and groom on their special day.

Some ideas:

For the bridesmaids…

Talkaholic Wine Glass

I guess I can only recommend this because this would probably describe me. So I am not outing anyone. But lets be serious. The talkaholic knows who they are.

A gift to the bride for her Bachelorette Party.

Last Night Out Martini Glass

You can make a basket or gift bag with all the fixings for the recipe. I spent less than $6 for nips for 2 of the drinks above.

Cheers….

Posted in Gift Ideas, Winter Weddings | 3 Comments