Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wedding Prep, Way-to-soon-to-do-anything Edition

This dress.... why???
So, it occurs to me every time I look down at my left hand and see a diamond and platinum reminder of my fiance's excellent taste, that I have a wedding to plan.

Thankfully, we decided immediately that rushing around and throwing together a wedding in a few months is not for us. I have about a year and a half to plan my nuptials, but every time I get on Pinterest and lose five hours of my life looking at Save The Dates, I feel like I need to be more proactive. The main thing holding me back is the fact that the wedding is going to be in North Carolina, so I can't exactly take an afternoon to visit a couple of venues. So how can I channel my wedding-related energy into something fun and totally unproductive???

Naturally, a movie marathon is in order. Here are a few of my favorite wedding-themed movies:

Father of the Bride
You vant the chipper chicken for your vadding???

If it was in any way possible for Martin Short to plan my wedding, I would be the happiest bride ever. Alas, he's not returning my calls, seems to think it's annoying when I do my best Franck Eggelhoffer impression, and is threatening to get a restraining order.

Also, Steve Martin is brilliant, the wardrobes are hilariously early-90s, and the scene with the too-small tuxedo is one of my favorites ever.

High Society
Oh Grace, why didn't you write a book about wedding planning? Oh right, you were too busy being a princess. 
Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby. Enough said.

The Bird Cage
You know he's going to want a say in the reception decor!
Yep, you probably forgot because Nathan Lane steals every scene in the movie, but The Bird Cage is actually about the upcoming wedding of his partner's son. But who cares, because it's hilarious and amazing and Hank Azaria is probably the most professional housekeeper of all time.

The Princess Bride
You want a rustic outdoor wedding? As you wish!
This is one of those movies that I can quote beginning to end. I never get sick of it. While Buttercup didn't have to worry about a wedding budget or how to find the best photographer, she did have to battle R.O.U.S.'s in the fire swamp. So, you know, all brides have their challenges.

PS - I'm TOTALLY making my bridesmaids pose like this.
Any movie that ends with a Wilson-Phillips singalong is a winner, in my opinion. This just happens to also be one of the most hilarious wedding-themed movies that I've ever seen.

Wedding Crashers
Mazel tov!
This one gets bonus points because it's (mostly) set in DC! It also get major points for Bradley Cooper's baby seal impression, which still makes me cringe a little every time I see it.

I'm sure I'm missing some good ones, but these are a few of my faves. What are your favorite wedding-related movies?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy 2013!!!!

I can't believe how quickly the holiday season flew by this year! I took nearly two weeks off of work to enjoy the holidays, and now that it's 2013, I'm ready to embrace new resolutions (seriously this year...). I'll get to those later. But first, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on 2012 with some of my favorite pictures from this year!
Beautiful New Orleans in January!
Life-changing beignets at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans.
Cherry blossoms are kind of a big deal here in DC.
Dumbarton Oaks or Downton Abbey? 
Just your average backyard pond surrounded by sparkles.
Go Nats!

Visiting Santa Monica in May, one of the best trips ever!
Hanging out on Rodeo Drive, no big.
Beach week with my huge extended family is always a highlight of my year.
Kayaking like a pro. Not really, but I managed to avoid tipping over.
I love, love, love this city.
Amazing brunch at Founding Farmers.
September included a trip to NC for an ECU game!
But really, the game was just an excuse to get together with awesome friends who live too far away.
2012 was also the year I discovered Ray's Hell Burger. I ate this entire meal, walked home, and took a four hour nap.
Something I must do again this year: apple-picking in rural Maryland.
2012 was the year I started experimenting with gluten-free baking. These cookies are the best!

My super-creepy White Swan halloween costume. It's ok, because I was perfect.
New York for my birthday!
And my absolute favorite picture from 2012, taken just a few minutes after getting engaged.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Peppermint Brownies

Recipe and picture from Annies-eats.com. Mine did not turn out this pretty.

I love finding new recipes to try. I usually try to keep things relatively healthy, but every once in a while you have to indulge. These peppermint brownies are the PERFECT excuse for that! I wouldn't steer you wrong - I take chocolate-peppermint desserts VERY seriously.

We had friends over for dinner last weekend, so I searched Pinterest for a good peppermint brownie recipe. This one, from Annie's Eats, seemed to be the most popular. I gave it a try and the results were pretty amazing.

No, that's not a typo - three cups of sugar are required.

Yield: 1 9×13-inch pan (about 36 brownies)

8 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1½ cups unsalted butter
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1½ tsp. peppermint extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 (1.55 oz) milk chocolate bars, broken into segments***
1 bag Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses, wrappers removed and coarsely chopped
*** I actually messed this step up and totally forgot the chocolate bars. Trust me, they still turned out great.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Combine the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water; heat, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth.  Remove from the heat.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the chocolate mixture with the sugar and eggs until well blended.  Whisk in the peppermint and vanilla extracts and the salt.  Whisk in the flour just until incorporated.

Spread half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan.  Layer with the milk chocolate pieces (or just totally forget about this step like I did).  Spread the remaining batter evenly over the milk chocolate pieces.  Bake 30-35 minutes.

Remove the brownies from the oven but maintain the oven temperature.  Sprinkle the chopped Candy Cane Kisses over the top of the brownies and return the pan to the oven for 3 more minutes.  Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool to room temperature.  Chill the brownies until the candy topping has firmed up.  Slice and serve.

Taking more inspiration from Pinterest (at this point it's the source of 95% of my creativity), I decided I would cut the brownies into cute little Christmas trees with candy cane trunks. This is what they were supposed to look like:

And this is what they actually looked like:

Laugh if you must, they were still really good.
This recipe makes a lot of brownies, so you may want to consider taking the leftovers to work. Otherwise, you may end up eating them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until they're gone. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pinspiration Fridays: Let's Just Put Glitter On Everything.

I LOVE the holidays. I know most people consider the holiday season to start at Thanksgiving, but since my birthday is about a week before that, I say November 15 is the logical start. The food, the excitement, the general merriment... it's all good. But one thing that always gets me really excited is the fact that from now until 2013, I have a legitimate excuse to cover myself and everything around me with as much sparkle as I deem appropriate.

Here are a few things I found on Pinterest that I could stare at for hours...

Buy me - I go with everything!

Christmas party? Date? Girl's night out? Why WOULDN'T you want to empty your purse and stuff the essentials into this adorbs clutch from J. Crew. I'm kind of obsessed and hoping it somehow ends up under the tree this year.

Kate is ready to look better than everyone else,  no matter where she's going.
Kate Middleton in a sparkly dress is always going to be a winning combination. Plus, HOW EXCITED IS EVERYONE ABOUT HER BABY?? I can't wait to see how she magically makes maternity clothes cute, picks an awesome baby name that a bunch of people are going to copy, and somehow maintains perfect hair through it all.

Dress by Elie Saab
This pin immediately caught my attention because of the incredible detail of the beading. It screams to be worn on New Year's Eve.

I would seriously wear this to the grocery store if it was in my possession.
Speaking of New Year's Eve... this dress would be perfect for a black-tie kind of affair.

Gorgeous, unexpected color combinations make me so happy. This is a great one.

What sparkly, lovely things will YOU be wearing this holiday season?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Paleo Banana Bread


This weekend I had two things on my agenda: decorate for Christmas and try this recipe for Paleo (and gluten-free) Banana Bread.

I love the idea of baking bread, but since I'm trying to eat Paleo most of the time I don't like to keep massive amounts of delicious smelling carbs in the house. I hate to classify the way I eat as "low carb" because that conjures up images of Atkin's dieters eating hot dogs wrapped in bacon. But when you stop keeping bread and sugary cereal in the kitchen, it's amazing how fast you lose weight. Then when I do really crave bread I'll splurge on really GOOD bread like this.

The recipe is from a British blog, so I'm reposting this without those crazy Brit's measuring units. 

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1.5 cups almond butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • handful chopped walnuts/raisins (optional)
  • coconut oil
  1. Pre-heat oven to 320 degrees.
  2. Grease bread tin with coconut oil
  3. Mash banana until completely smooth, mix with all other ingredients and stir in walnuts/raisins.
  4. Pour into bread tin.
  5. Bake for 35 mins.
  6. Let cool then transfer onto a cooling rack.
(Recipe from Primal Britain)

Once the banana bread was in the oven, it was time for Christmas music and decorating!
I want to leave this stuff up all year.
Meet my favorite new ornament, Fat Penguin with Glasses.

The bread tasted great, but it does have a slightly different consistency. Because I have a massive sweet tooth, I'm thinking I may chop up a dark chocolate bar and mix it in next time. 

Seriously, make this right now.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Renting the Runway

I have loved the idea of Rent the Runway for a long time. I would peruse the incredible selection of gorgeous designer dresses and try to come up with an excuse to wear a Reem Acra evening gown, but sadly, my life was not that glamorous. 

Sadly, none of these are appropriate for sitting in my cube at work, eating lunch at Chipotle, or riding the metro.

I love shopping for dresses more than any other article of clothing. There are certain pieces of a wardrobe that are just no-brainers. Every girl needs a little black dress (or seven) and something sparkly enough to wear on New Year's Eve. But now that we post pictures for the world to see on Facebook and Instagram of every wedding, party, and family event we go to, it's harder to get excited about wearing the same dress for three weekends in a row.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I had the perfect reason to rent. For my birthday, Hunter and I were headed to New York for a weekend that included a mysterious Saturday night date which required super fancy attire. I picked a gorgeous navy Badgley Mischka dress, brought plenty of accessory options with me, and prayed that one of the two size options (they'll always send you a second size for free) would fit.

So sparkly!!!

The dresses arrived on time and the size I had originally picked out fit perfectly. The amount of detail on the heavily beaded dress was pretty amazing, and for a piece that has potentially been worn several times already, it was in mint condition.

Since the beginning of my birthday surprise was dinner at The Four Seasons, I found myself in a sea of well-dressed people, but I still felt like my dress really stood out. I was also really thankful that I shelled out an extra five dollars for dress insurance, because I ate a million pounds of food without worrying about being on the hook for the full retail price of the dress if I spilled anything on it. The REAL surprise was the fact that after dinner, Hunter proposed! Moral of the story: rent a pretty dress and your boyfriend will probably ask you to marry him.

Also, I must point out that Tom Haverford has come up with basically the same idea. So it must be genius.