Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from our little bumble bee and giant frog!

I hate there is a shadow on little man's face. His expression says exactly how he feels about this get-up!
Check out the stinger. Hilarious!

During our Halloween dress rehearsal, Buster chewed off one of his frog's legs. Oh well. And, the XXL was too small! We couldn't get the Velcro to fit around his belly.

Doesn't he look miserable?

I know, I know...we are sick!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Under The Big Top Event

This carnival themed event was enjoyed by all. The decor was simple - primary colors in stripes and solids with whimsical centerpiece accents. The games were the highlight...pop-a-shot basketball, skeeball, ring toss and a dunk tank.

The employees could purchase throws to dunk their executives into plastic balls through payroll deduction. (We had to get creative in avoiding the whole water element in a ballroom!)

We couldn't forget the popcorn and cotton candy station.

The guests walked away with stuffed animals and other fair type prizes to take home to their kids!

This was a nice change of pace from the more formal events that are the norm!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Elegant Fall Welcome

I've been a stranger to the blogging world, but for good reason. We have so many programs on the books! Last night, I had 2 events. Tonight, I have 2 events. Loving this busy fall and feeling so very fortunate to be working with so many great clients!

Below are some shots from last night's welcome reception. (I'm still figuring out my camera for indoor use...I miss having that natural light to work with.) Warm hues, great textures and fall colors...perfection!

Black boxed centerpieces sat on the highboy tables.

How beautiful is this linen? 

The dinner round. And the picture does not do it justice...a gold thread runs through this heavy linen weave. Subtle and gorgeous.

A close of of the dinner round centerpiece compilation. Southern yet updated.
Stay tuned for pictures of last night's event #2...a Carnival themed event!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Church Choir

A few weekends ago, Josh and I got to meet Eric Church at the Eric Church/Toby Keith concert! 

I am a huge fan. Partly because I love his style and partly because my uncle writes music with him. His show was awesome...he has brought rock and roll back to country music (think Hank Williams Jr, Johnny Cash), and Josh and I agreed that his performance blew Toby Keith's away! Toby lost me with that Red Solo Cup song. Have you heard it? 

Country music has always been a huge part of my life. Actually, it is THE reason I'm here! My parents met while my dad was a sound engineer in Nashville. My mom wanted to be a country music star. (She still sings and plays the guitar beautifully, think Alison Krauss.) My dad worked with my songwriter uncle who was dating my mom's sister. My mom asked my dad out on their first date. This past July, they celebrated 30 years of marriage.

My sister and I grew up on country music. Patty Loveless, Pam Tillis, Carlene Carter, Reba, The Judds, Joe Diffie, Randy Travis, Travis get the gist. It's fun to see some of the newer and younger country musicians steer away from the pop and back towards that twang. Eric's got it!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Aquatic Elegance

Take a peek at these under the sea themed centerpieces for an event Presenting Atlanta did downtown this weekend. I love how these are a dressier take on the aquatic look. The compilation of three containers served as a focal point on the buffet table.

And these little cuties sat on the highboy tables in the space to carry the theme throughout.

Kind of fun to use this theme in the middle of fall...I love it when I get to work with open minded clients!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mum's The Word

OK, seriously, could this be any prettier?! Josh and I jogged around Capital City Club Brookhaven one evening and I had to come back during the day so I could take a picture of this jaw-dropping entrance. Really, it is even more breathtaking in person because of the way the house is positioned at the top of a winding driveway, dotted with additional mum accents along the way. I thought taking this picture at all was a little stalker-ish, and didn't want to risk getting any closer for fear of an encounter with the security team that this family most certainly has.

This got me thinking about my fall yard. Well, let me be honest, my fall/winter/early spring yard. When I mentioned doing mums like the above, Josh's response was: "That would totally overwhelm our house." And, he's right. Plus, these wouldn't last throughout the winter...much less until early spring. I settled for the much less bold and much more budget friendly pansy. I know, soooooo predictable. I did add in some cabbages to funk it up just a little bit. I'm wayyyyy too embarrassed to show a picture until they grow some. Honestly, they are so piddly that I could barely get them out of the flats in one piece! I'm an instant gratification kind of person...which may explain why I spent a small fortune on 11 flats of inpatients this summer. My yard in no way justifies 11 flats of anything. I planted those suckers so close together that they looked like they'd been there for a season already. In an effort to be more economical this go-round, I spaced the pansies out as directed. Bring on the Miracle-Gro!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Real Men Cook

Got home tonight from a hot yoga class and had this waiting on me. I felt so lucky.

This led me to the suggestion that Josh should be in charge of dinner 2 nights a week. I mean, this spaghetti was soooo good. I'd eat this 2 times a week. 

Am I pushing my luck?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Southern Living's Turkey Piccata

There is a great vendor at the Brookhaven Farmer's Market called West Wind Farms that sells all sorts of organic meats...I had never cooked with a turkey cutlet before but I sure will again! Here is a great recipe for Turkey Piccata from the May 2006 issue of Southern Living.

Served over fresh, handmade egg noodles from West Wind Farms

You'll need:
  • 1 pound boneless turkey breast cutlets
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon drained capers
  •  6 lemon slices, halved
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

First, you'll want to place the turkey between 2 sheets of wax paper (to prevent pieces of raw meat from flying all over your kitchen) and flatten to about 1/4 of an inch using a meat mallet. It is pretty fun to do this...a good stress reliever, although I almost always pound so hard I rattle my pots and pans around in the cabinets below. Obviously I was too into this part to get a photograph!

Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish like below. Stir to combine.

Dredge the turkey cutlets in the flour mixture. Shake off the excess and lay on a sheet of wax paper.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the turkey cutlets to the skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes per side or until they are golden brown.

They should look about like this:

Remove turkey from skillet and place on a wire rack in a jelly roll pan. Place in the 200 degree oven to keep warm.

Add the wine, lemon juice, capers and lemon halves to the skillet. Cook over medium-high heat for two minutes or until the sauce slightly thickens.

Remove from the heat and stir in remaining one tablespoon of butter.

Chop up the fresh parsley...

Serve the turkey over some egg noodles (tossed with olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese). Top the turkey with the sauce and sprinkle evenly with parsley.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Masquerade Ball

Check out this fabulous masquerade event, perfect for this time of year...proven by our adult and professional guests, mind you. Complete with a costume shop, hair and makeup artists were brought in to "do" them up for the night. It was truly one of the coolest things I've ever been a part of. I'm waiting for someone to want to repeat this event this year :) Any takers?

Check out these amazing costumes. We aren't talking typical, Party City costumes here. These were custom. My favorites were the Cleopatra one (almost dead center, towards the back) and the red shaker girl (front and center). We even had Bruce Springsteen (far left side at the end, middle of the pack).

Ghosts escorted the group over on the buses...staring out of the window, or at a passenger, remaining in character the whole time. At the venue, they lurked. They were a hit, nice and freaky...painted in gray from head to toe!

All above photos from Ross DeLoach at Northlight Photography

What are you going to be for Halloween?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

DIY: Fall Rosette Wreath

I love Pinterest! It presents so many DIY ideas...wish I had time to try them all! Fall is my favorite season to decorate the house for, and I needed a fall wreath that was simple and inexpensive. Below was the inspiration for this project. It is for sale on Etsy for about $70. Cute, right?

I made a variation of it and it cost me about $15! It was so super easy and fun. All you need to do is take a trip to Michael's - you'll need felt, scissors, a glue gun (or craft glue) and a grapevine wreath. Grab some felt squares in your choice of various colors for a whopping 29 cents per square. I found a grapevine wreath for $4.99 and purchased a glue gun for about $5. Make sure you have plenty of glue sticks! 

I went with fall-ish colors. Three is a good number of color options, I think...although the "inspiration" used 4 colors which was cute too.
First, cut each square of felt into 4 smaller squares so that they fit in the palm of your hand. I did leave a few of the large squares intact so I could make some large rosettes. For the first rosette you make, you may want to sketch out a swirl pattern to guide you, like below.

Next, cut along the lines so that you have a swirly deal, like an apple peel...

From the innermost end of the swirly deal, start rolling the felt, sort of like how you would roll up a sleeping bag. The felt sort of sticks together so it's easy to keep the rosette together as you go.

Sorry - we're a litle out of focus!

Keep on rolling until you reach the end of the "apple peel" - use a little craft glue (or hot glue) to secure the end.

Isn't this pretty? I can think of SO many ways to use this! I'm thinking on a present for Christmas...
Make lots of rosettes in different colors and sizes...

Then, simply organize them on your grapevine leaf and attach them with hot glue. I positioned them in little groupings first and then went back to glue into place.

And ta da! You've got a welcoming fall wreath that costs next to nothing! This really was a quick project...I did this in a short evening after work.

Pretty cute, isn't it?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ina Garten's Beef Stew

It's soup weather, yes! I got ahead of myself last week and made the Barefoot Contessa's beef stew - she calls it Parker's Beef Stew. It is amazing. Very peppery. Any man in your life will love it. Josh said it was the best thing I'd ever made, except desserts. That's an endorsement. And it makes a ton, so have some freezer bags available unless you are having a football party at your house. I ended up having to throw a lot of this out because I forgot to freeze in time...or didn't have time to put it in freezer bags...or had a long week...anyway, it made me sick to throw it out!

You'll need:
  • 2.5 lbs of chuck beef, cut into 1.5 inch cubs
  • 1 bottle of good red wine
  • 3 whole garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, cut into 1 inch cubes (I always use Vidalia onions - they are real onions in my eyes!)
  • 1 lb carrots, cut into 1.5 inch chunks (Ina says to peel them, but if you wash them really well, I don't think there is any need)
  • 1/2 lb white mushrooms, stems discarded and cut in half
  • 1 lb small potatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 large branch of fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-10 ounce package frozen peas

1. Place the beef in a bowl.
2. Add red wine, garlic & bay leaves. Place in the refrigerator & marinate overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

3. Combine the flour, 1 T salt & 1 T pepper in a bowl.
4. Life the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon, discard the bay leaves and garlic. Save that marinade!
5. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture. 
6. Shake off excess.

Heat 2 T olive oil in a large pot.

7. Brown half the beef over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Place the browned beef in a large oven proof Dutch oven. Brown the other half (add more oil if need be) and place all in the Dutch oven.

Heat another 2 T of oil to the large pot.

8. Add the onions, carrots, mushrooms & potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic & cook for 2 more minutes.

Remove vegetables from the pot on the stove and place them in the Dutch oven over the beef.

9. Add 2.5 cups of the reserved marinade to the empty pot on the stove & cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan. All of those brown bits are good!! Add the chicken stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 T salt & 2 t pepper.

10. Pour the sauce over the meat and veggies in the Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove. 

Cover the pot and place in 300 degree oven. Bake for about 2 hours. Stir once during cooking. I ended up turning the heat down to 275 about an hour in because it was bubbling a little too much. Before serving, stir in the frozen up!

Recipe format question: Do you like this format (numbered) or pictures inserted throughout the process? In theory, I liked this idea but I think the pictures throughout may be easier to follow. Thoughts?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hello October

The first day of October was perfect here in Atlanta! We are in the spirit at the Van house.

 The dogs are feeling this weather too...

Happy Fall!