Monday, April 28, 2014

Guest Post: How to style your spring wedding

Meet Kristi
Today's guest post is brought to you by Kristi Charter. Kristi is an experienced freelance writer with a breadth of knowledge across an array of subjects. Captivated by the wedding industry, Kristi regularly blogs for Engagement Invitations.

With the sun shining, and flowers blooming, love is truly in the air...and Kristi has come up with a number of unique ways to style the perfect spring wedding!

the Bride

How to Style Your Spring Wedding

Spring is upon us and so are a range of new trends and styles for your wedding to fit the season. So to help you style your big day we've broken down some of the hottest emerging trends for 2014 and detailed how you too can emulate these fresh looks.

Spring Romance
Wedding styling this spring is all about embracing romance. Think lovely blushes and sweet peach combined with glorious gold and silver elements. Dinner by candlelight is always special, but it’s made even more special at a wedding when love is truly in the air. Candles are the ultimate element to incorporate for a romantic wedding theme and the beauty of candles is that they come in so many forms--meaning they can be used to either stand alone as the central feature on your tables or scattered to complement a centerpiece. Let’s also not forget that they can be quite affordable so you won’t be spending a small fortune on your reception décor.  Another key look to encapsulate a romantic feel is to ensure flowers play a big role in your styling. Spring blooms are always stunning and you simply cannot go wrong with a floral arrangement at a wedding. Using flowers throughout your reception is also a clever way to neatly tie together your color scheme.

A Return to Days Gone By
The Great Gatsby inspired wedding trend continues to stick around with brides loving all the styling possibilities. The formality that comes with holding a glamorous 1920s inspired affair is what helps make this theme so enticing. Monochrome elements accentuated by hints of gold are always a popular means for evoking this trend. However, brides in 2014 are taking this theme to the next level by furthering the grandeur. Gold is the color of choice with many brides featuring gold plates, cutlery and centerpieces such as gold vases. Using a sparkly gold or silver tablecloth is also a fun and clever way to spice up your décor. 

Color Schemes
Color-wise, brides have an array of options that are on trend this spring. Mint and pastels are always popular, however, things are getting a little brighter this season. Corals and yellows are among the most prominent shades and can be paired with lighter tones such as greys to soften them. Variations of blue and purple are also big in 2014 ranging from light to bright. The brighter shades are definitely the most fun to work with and will ensure all your finer details are noticed. However, if mixing bold colors together isn't for you, subtle pops of color are just as effective, especially when paired with crisp whites. Your wedding stationery is a great way to incorporate colors into your wedding without dominating your overall styling.

Breaking Traditions
While the traditional ‘white’ wedding dress will always be the most obvious choice, many brides are shaking things up and opting for non-traditional colors. From blush and soft blue to bold pink, coral, and berry, designers are overhauling bridal style. Aside from rocking a color on your wedding day, brides are also being presented with dresses featuring daring detailed backs to ensure they make a statement. In stark contrast, minimalist designs are also featuring heavily in designer collections. For the truly fashion forward, two-piece bridal outfits have also been gracing the runways--think crop tops with high-waisted flowing skirts.

Photo: Huffington Post via Kaley Cuoco
Food for Thought
When it comes to meals, spring is all about relaxed dining. Rather than the traditional presentation, guests are instead feasting on family-style meals where sharing is the key. Food trucks are also gaining traction, allowing guests to pick their own meal preferences and go back for more to ensure they are satisfied. Cakes are also being presented in a new way. While only for the brave, suspended wedding cakes à la Kaley Cuoco are now gaining momentum. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The #HungryHusbandProject - 3rd Edition: (Skinny) Spinach Lasagna Rolls

I am bringing you the 3rd edition of the #HungryHusbandProject sooner than I thought. I saw this post by Skinny Ms. on my Facebook feed the other day and couldn't help but want to try it!

Since I am eating low-carb again, I was a bit bummed about the carb content, so I searched around for a lasagna noodle alternative and found this "noodle" recipe by Peace Love and Low Carb. I made the "noodles" the night before and cut them to lasagna noodle size (10"x2") and refrigerated them. I found suggestions for using eggplant or even zucchini as lasagna "noodle" substitutions, but I'm not a big fan of either of those, so I was excited to try this other option. (When I am eating low-carb it's kind of a fun little challenge to either find a low-carb recipe that I know David will eat, or one that I can make substitutes for.)

After taking the low-carb "noodles" out of the fridge, I microwaved them for a few seconds to soften them so they'd be easier to roll up. 

Here is the verdict:

 27/30  Taste
 20/20  Presentation
 10/10  Originality
 10/10  Re-heatability
 10/10  Clean-up
 18/20  Overall Ranking 
95/100  Final Score
          Letter Grade

He said it was "Delicious! Let's have it again soon!"


"Good for home-made Italian. :)"

Here are the regular version and low-carb version side-by-side. Can you tell which is which?
This is my highest graded project so far! I wasn't sure how he would like it since it is a vegetarian dish. I considered adding meat to the sauce or filling, but thought it would take away from the spinach. Next time I will add more spinach (I only used 1 bag) and perhaps some more spices to the filling and sauce. It would also be helpful to add more sauce. The secret to re-heating lasagna is to add a small amount of water (or extra sauce) to keep the noodles moist. (I reheated these for David tonight when he got home from work. I heated 3 rolls in a small Pyrex dish (with a bit of water and extra sauce) in the oven at 425° for 25 minutes. I think it would do fine in the microwave as well.)

the Bride

PS: David tried the low-carb version and liked it too. I actually couldn't decide which I liked better!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Discounts: wedding albums and photo books!

After collecting and sharing wedding album and photo book discount codes with my sister-in-law, bride-to-be friend, and wedding planner, I realized I should be sharing them with you! I am posting promotions for two companies I have personally used. If you have any questions on my experiences with these companies, please feel free to leave a comment below or e-mail me!

I highly recommend BrideBox for your personal keepsake wedding album. After doing lots of research and being greatly disappointed with the ROES software of another company, I went with BrideBox. They have great customer service, and deliver a professional, high-quality product. For our personal keepsake wedding album, we ordered the Marina (Premium Cover) 10x10. What I loved about this album was the flush-mounted photos, handcrafted binding, lay-flat pages with substrate, and engraved leather cover. 

Here are a few current promotions you can take advantage of:
  • Up to 10% off Pre-Purchased Wedding Album Coupon* - Redeem online now or later. Offer is currently available for the following: Marina (Premium Cover), Marina (Photo Cover), Anza (Leather Cover), Lake (Photo Cover), and Mason. Also a great wedding gift for the couple you know! *This promotion was available as of today's date: 4/8/2014. Promotion is subject to expire at any time.
  • 25% off all Wedding Albums and Prepaid Album Coupons - use coupon code ALBUMS25. Expires 4/15/2014.
  • 20% off Albums & Books - use coupon code BBIBA14. Expires 12/30/2014.
  • 20% off Prints & Enlargements - use coupon code BBIBP14. Expires 12/30/2014.
  • 20% off Wedding Portrait Calendar (12x18) - use coupon code MPCIB14. Expires 12/30/2014

We used Blurb for our parent albums (which are actually considered photo books). They made the perfect Christmas presents for both sets of parents. We liked the books so much that I just ordered a copy for us to keep as a coffee table book. That way we can share our wedding photos with guests that come over without having to bring out our keepsake album. We ordered the Hardcover, ImageWrap, Standard Landscape 10x8. I used the Blurb Booksmart™ book-making tool, which was very user-friendly. A great thing is that if you realize you made an error, you can go back and cancel the order (within a certain amount of time), fix the error, then re-order the book. Being a perfectionist, I did this several times. You could also use Blurb to create books for engagement, honeymoon, or baby.

Here is a current promotion you can take advantage of:

  • 15% off - use coupon code 2014BOOKS. Expires 4/30/2014.

For our prints and enlargements, we used Mpix. We used the Fuji Pearl Paper (Glossy Metallic Finish) for the large bridal and couple portraits we had made for our parents. Unfortunately, I do not have a promo code for you at this time, but they do sometimes post them on their Facebook page, so feel free to "Like" or "Follow" them on there.

There are a number of companies out there with many album, book, and print options. I highly recommend doing your research, asking friends, and comparing prices before making your purchases.

the Bride

Monday, April 7, 2014

The #HungryHusbandProject - 2nd Edition: Tomato & Basil Pizza, Bacon-Wrapped Steak Kabobs, and Grilled Pineapple with Pineapple Sorbet

It's time for the 2nd edition of the #HungryHusbandProject. I was a bit ambitious today and decided to include an appetizer and dessert. Since spring has sprung and the weather has started warming up, I have been outside cleaning up the patio and getting my tiny little garden ready. I wanted to take advantage of the perfect weather and grill out before the air is thick with mosquitos, pollen, and heat. (A huge thank you to my father-in-law, who so graciously gave David his old charcoal grill, chimney bbq starter, and grill tools.)

I found a recipe for this grilled Tomato & Basil Pizza, which I thought would make a perfect appetizer to hold us over while the kabobs were cooking. I cheated and used pre-made pizza dough and pizza sauce, but I did make the Herb Oil, which smells divine! 

For the kabobs, I used this marinade recipe, but was only able to marinade the meat for 3.5 hours. I made 3x the amount of marinade so that I could marinade the vegetables and pineapple too. I also wrapped the steak in bacon before skewering. (IMHO, everything tastes better with bacon.) 

For dessert, I saved some of the leftover pineapple to grill. I used this recipe for the marinade, and served it with 2 small scoops of pineapple sherbet. (We also took advantage of the fire source and made s'mores.)

I used 1.5 lb. of sirloin, 1 package of bacon, 1 sweet onion, 1 green pepper, 1 red pepper, 1/3 pineapple, 1 small carton of button mushrooms,  and 1/3 small carton of grape tomatoes. I ate 2 skewers and David ate 2.5. There was enough to feed 4-5 people. Hint: soak the wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes prior to grilling.

Here is the verdict:

Tomato & Basil Pizza

 25/30  Taste
 10/20  Presentation
 10/10  Originality
10/10   Re-heatability
  5/10   Clean-up
12/20   Overall Ranking 
72/100  Final Score
    C-      Letter Grade

His exact words were "Fail = pizza :) "


"I thought it was extremely risky to cook the pizza on a charcoal grill for the 1st time ever. That, and it got charred. Next time use a burner to cook it evenly and monitor it."

I would just like to say that the hubs was in charge of the crust while it was on the grill. ;) Who burned it?! Kidding. The main issue was that the crust burned on the grill. I was able to salvage half of it, then add the tomato sauce, cheese, and basil. I think that this would be extremely tasty if done in the oven or on a gas grill. With charcoal, you're pretty much stuck with one very hot heat source which makes the crust susceptible to burning. David also really dislikes anything charred/burnt. Me, I'm okay with a bit of a char-grilled taste. I thought it was actually pretty tasty. I definitely want to make it in the oven next time.

Bacon-Wrapped Steak Kabobs

 29/30  Taste
 19/20  Presentation
 10/10  Originality
   7/10  Re-heatability
10/10   Clean-up
18/20   Overall Ranking 
93/100  Final Score
    A       Letter Grade

"Nice touch on the bacon. :) "

Even though I was only able to marinade the meat for half the time suggested, it was still very flavorful. I am curious to see how it re-heats. We cooked the steak medium-rare, so hopefully it won't become too well done when re-heated.

Grilled Pineapple with Pineapple Sorbet

 23/30  Taste
 19/20  Presentation
   8/10  Originality
10/10   Re-heatability
10/10   Clean-up
16/20   Overall Ranking 
86/100  Final Score
    B       Letter Grade

"Pineapple was a little spicy for my taste."

The hubs doesn't typically like spicy, so I wasn't sure how he'd feel about the cayenne pepper. I also forgot the fresh mint. I liked it. I would probably cut back a bit on the cayenne (a pinch instead of 1/8 tsp.), but I did like the kick it gave. 

I asked David what he thought of the s'mores and strawberry mojitos I made. He said I got A's on both of those. I'm happy with that. :)

Overall, it was a great meal. We turned the grill into a bit of a "fire pit" after dinner and enjoyed the warmth while we chatted. I'm looking forward to more warm (and mosquito-free) nights like this!

the Bride

PS: I used fresh mint and basil from the garden for the mojitos and pizza. Can't wait to use more produce once it starts growing!