Brunch for the newly engaged couple!

We wish Jake and Natalie many years of wedded bliss and love together! Jake, a groomsmen at our wedding, proposed to his girlfriend Natalie over the holidays! And we couldn't be more thrilled for them. We look forward to celebrating their nuptials.

Jake and Natalie live in DC like so many of our other friends but have decided to get married in good ol' North Carolina! Who could blame them?! They came down in the middle of January to check out some venues and were able to squeeze us in for a Sunday brunch before heading back up to DC. We enjoyed chatting about wedding planning and fun things going on in our lives.

We wanted to showcase our Brocade china so that fellow Millennials can see that using fine china can be cool.

The sunlight filled the room and the simplicity of the setting just radiated on the table. I thought a pop of color would be nice and selected a bouquet with some pinks, purple, and lots of greenery.

Patrick was in charge of folding the napkins; he followed this pyramid napkin fold technique tutorial.

We served blueberry muffins, fresh fruit (strawberries, kiwi, and pineapple), and served shrimp and grits. We had made shrimp and grits a few weeks previously when we hosted my dad for brunch right after the holidays. Patrick must've been working on perfecting his technique because these were better than the first time! Unfortunately they looked too good to stop and take another picture.

Congratulations once again to Jake and Natalie! We look forward to more brunches and supporting you in anyway during your engagement.

Wedding throwback: Parties

Patrick and I had a sixteen month engagement. During this time our family and friends expressed their excitement and approval of our upcoming union with various parties. The first was a spring shower hosted by close family friends. Then the groomsmen hosted Patrick in Savannah over St. Patrick's Day for his bachelor party and the bridesmaids hosted a fabulous DC Bachelorette party for myself. There were two summer social parties in my hometown to get together local folks. And finally a bridesmaids luncheon (which coincidentally kicked off the wedding the weekend) was hosted by my aunt!

Patrick and I were so humbled by the outpouring of love and support during this time. We had fun celebrating with everyone throughout the engagement. It was such a special time!

My phone put together this "gif" of Patrick opening this bottle of champagne. His sister sent it to DC for my bachelorette party but it didn't quite make it and arrived via Christine a little later. What a nice way to end the parties.

And this concludes our February Month of Love Wedding Throwback posts!! Woo hoo... if you missed any, here are all the links to the various wedding topics we blogged about:

Hope you enjoyed reading them as much as we loved getting married! Thanks for letting us share with you.

BBQ Cornbread

When Patrick and I hosted family the Thursday evening before the wedding weekend we ordered lots of bbq -- chicken & pork! We did this because a) we weren't sure what folks would want and b) knew we could freeze the surplus! And freeze the surplus we did!

We mixed the chicken and pork bbq together and stashed it in the freezer for a quick meal down the road that would remind us of that special evening. To make the bbq extra special in honor of the evening we made inverted bbq cornbread! We tried a new potato salad that is now our favorite way to make it. Read on for the details! 

BBQ spread: potato salad, baked beans, coleslaw, and inverted BBQ cornbread.
Inverted BBQ Cornbread
   I started by warming my bbq in a saucepan with some extra bbq sauce. Once warmed I set aside.
   I used a Jiffy box of cornbread muffins (made according to package directions). In a medium skillet over medium-high heat I poured in the Jiffy mix then scattered the bbq over top of the cornbread. Then I moved the skillet to a preheated 400F oven for 10-15 minutes until the cornbread was set.

Ina Garten's Potato Salad from
     Total time: 30 min | Prep 10 min | Cook 15 min | Serves 6 to 8
3 pounds small white potatoes
Kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill (instead of fresh dill I use dill pickle juice, noted below)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red onion
   I halved everything and used Yukon gold potatoes (what I hand in the pantry)
   Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons of salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Allow the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes.
   Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, dill (I added dill pickle juice), 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Set aside.
   When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in quarters or in half, depending on their size. Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl. While the potatoes are still warm, pour enough dressing over them to moisten. Add the celery and red onion, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve cold or at room temperature.
   I also boil the potatoes already diced 1-inch cubes.

To makes things come together easy I used canned baked beans and prepared coleslaw from the grocery store. This meal is especially tasty when everything is all served together in a bowl! Patrick probably wouldn't agree with that though...

Wedding Throwback: Dressing the wedding party

This is our next to last wedding wrap up post! Today we'll go through a bit of the process of how the wedding party came to be adorned the way they did. Patrick and I were very mindful of our renovated textile warehouse venue, our daytime wedding, and the ambiance everything created together.

Patrick and I wanted to present a unified newlywed couple so early on in my dress selection process I asked him if he would want to wear a tuxedo or not. He was leaning towards a lightweight cotton suit. I knew this ruled out fancy ballgowns for me.

Off I went dress shopping. I actually selected my dress about a year before the wedding. Thankfully I loved it just as much on the wedding day as the day I selected it!

Here's the winner:

Even though I ended up with more ball gown than I was initially envisioning, I fell in love with their cotton shantung taffeta material. As soon I put it on I felt like it was perfect for our daytime wedding. It didn't have any frills and there was a bit of texture on the bodice. I thought the bow at the waistline added a nice feminine touch.

The bridesmaids' outfits were selected in March so about five months before the wedding. I had done a bit of research for styles I liked for the girls before we went to the store. After process of elimination from Rachel and Stephanie we ended up with two styles that they both liked and ultimately decided on this chiffon strapless dress with a sweetheart neckline that mirrored my dress (that's what made it the winner)! The tough decision was then decided on the color. We were torn with how blue or green the dresses should be. Ultimately we decided on 'peacock'.

Next up Patrick and the groomsmen! On a spring trip to Chicago to visit his family Patrick snagged his brother and best man for some suit shopping. They went all over Michigan Avenue and a J.Crew suit from the Ludlow collection caught his eye. He continued to browse for suits over the next few months but ultimately selected the J. Crew Ludlow cotton suit with a fine stripe.

This one didn't make the cut
To differentiate himself as the groom Patrick chose the 3 piece suit and added the vest to his ensemble while the groomsmen just wore the 2 piece suit.

Trying everything on after its arrival

Patrick wasn't quite out of the woods yet with outfit choices. He needed to finalize his tie and accessories! We stumbled upon a local NC store (flagship store is actually in downtown Raleigh) producing cotton bow ties. Patrick knew this would be the perfect addition to the Ludlow suit. There was quite a bit of debate about pattern and who would wear what. Ultimately we liked Patrick in a lone darker blue stripe with  pink accent stripes bow tie. The groomsmen wore a blue and white stripe bow tie with the ushers in a light blue and white stripe bow tie. Our ring bearer, Patrick's nephew, then wore the children's version of Patrick's bow tie. Everyone completed their outfit with a light pink pocket square.

Putting everything together.
So much to consider with dressing the wedding party! We thought we presented a uniform-looking wedding party without being too obvious.

Wedding throwback: Wedding day timeline

We are almost to the end of February and just about done with the wedding posts! I wasn't sure this was possible but I think all topics have just about been covered. Hooray!

Today we are sharing the wedding day timeline and one of our favorite parts of the weekend (besides from the whole getting married part) -- a food truck dinner! Since we had a daytime wedding the traditional wedding day timeline was very different for us.

This little clipboard had the timeline on it and greeted everyone at the reception desk.

Here's the excerpt for Saturday

The morning was certainly a little rushed! Everyone needed to be ready to leave by 10:30am but we wanted to start taking pictures around 9:30am. Unfortunately this ruled out a relaxing day at the salon with girls getting their hair done and drinking mimosas. The hair stylists arrived at 7am to get started on everyone. The guys had a bit more leeway and didn't meet in the groom's suite until 8:30am.

At 9:30am Patrick and I were both ready and kicked off the wedding party pictures with an intimate First Look session. This is when a couple chooses to see each other before the ceremony and the photographer captures the moment. It's certainly something that each couple should make sure is right for them but we would definitely recommend it. To me it was a more emotional moment than seeing Patrick at the end of the aisle. We were able to exchange quiet "I love you's" and have a few minutes alone together before the craziness of the day got started. By doing a First Look, this meant we were also able to take formal pictures before the ceremony (we also took some after the ceremony) but I will say my favorite formal pictures of just the two of us are the ones taken before. We look fresher and my makeup was flawless at that point. The next time we took formal pictures together (after the ceremony) was about noon so two and a half hours later! Here are a few snapshots our photographer put together from the First Look:

And then there were "I Do's" and food and cake and mingling and dancing aka the ceremony and reception.

Then here we are a little before 4pm leaving the reception (some couples haven't even gotten married by this time on a typical Saturday wedding!) ...

Then it was quiet time. From 4pm until 6pm Patrick and I were able to have some time to ourselves to reflect on our wedding! Actually about 4pm a summer thunderstorm rolled around so it was nice to listen to the rain together.

One of Patrick's tasks throughout the wedding planning process was to brainstorm a list of food trucks for us to contact for Saturday dinner. He quickly suggested his favorite truck that comes and parks outside his work on Wednesdays: the Deli-icious Food Truck! Actually there wasn't much of a list; there was only one line and it said "Deli-icious". Good thing they didn't turn us down! Here are a few snapshots of the food truck.

As mentioned previously we did not have a rocking party reception so we decided to conclude the evening in downtown Durham. Our friends joined us out for a more bit more lively fun. Here we are before going out:

It was such a wonderful day! We wouldn't have changed anything about our timeline. I loved marrying Patrick in the morning and not having to worry about jitters throughout the day.

Wedding throwback: Will you be my...

To me, asking your bestest friends to be in your wedding party should not be taken lightly. Standing next to someone as they join their lives with another is no small task! I decided to make personalized "Will you be my bridesmaid?" cards for each gal and hand deliver it to them to make it special.

I wanted to share how I crafted their cards on the blog today to continue with all the wedding throwback posts. Almost through February and these wedding posts... shew, they're hard work!

Step 1. Find a dress template
   Google Image search for "dress template"
Step 2. Acquire materials
   Materials needed: [in color of your choosing] glitter paper, wired mesh ribbon, and 1/2" thick ribbon, colored pencil, 5x7 cards
Step 3. Make miniature bridesmaid dress
   I traced the dress template onto the blue glitter paper and cut it out for the base. Next I cut a section of wired mesh ribbon slightly wider than the base. I glued the edges of the mesh ribbon behind the template (the top of the mesh ribbon went around the waistline and the bottom of the ribbon was the hemline). The 1/2" thick ribbon was then glued around the waistline to conceal the top of the mesh ribbon.
Step 4. Assemble card
   I glued the bridesmaid dress to the cards and wrote with the colored pencil "Will you be my" across the top of the card and "bridesmaid?" along the bottom.
Step 5. Write personalized note
   I flipped the card over and then wrote a personalized note to each bridesmaid.
Step 6. Deliver to bridesmaids!

At the time I wasn't sure what color the bridesmaid dresses would be but I knew blue was an option! I also thought this card was a simpler version of the "bridesmaid box" (as seen here on Pinterest). I was really pleased with how they turned out! You might can guess that Patrick did not make cards for his half of the wedding party.

Wedding throwback: Tasting things

Since this is after all a food blog I decided it was about time to share some of the things we "tasted" throughout the engagement... ie, reception food, rehearsal dinner food, and wedding cake!

I've read many times that the most impressionable wedding elements on a guest are food and entertainment. Guests are going to remember if the food was bad and if they didn't have a good time no matter how heartfelt your ceremony was or how gorgeous your decor was. With this in mind, Patrick and I set out to create a relaxed jazzy brunch buffet reception. We set the mood at the reception with a four-piece speakeasy band that kept the mood light. We are not "party people" so we opted for this casual ambiance to reflect who we are as a couple. This reason also contributed to why we selected to have a daytime wedding.

Reception Food

Our venue, The Cotton Room, provides all couples with an in-house catering team. The Cotton Room hosts a quarterly open house for couples to come taste the food options (versus a private tasting). It's also nice to see the venue dressed up as it would be for your wedding. We attended two open houses and were pleased with everything! Here we are at the open houses:

For our cocktail hour we served more brunch-y items. Bloody Mary shrimp shooters, pimento cheeses sliders with fried green tomatoes, and mini tarts with mascarpone, asparagus, & ham were all passed around. For the buffet we selected a mixed greens salad with sweet tea vinaigrette, lemon orzo stuffed chicken, crabcakes, beef tenderloin carving station, garlic green beans, and macaroni and cheese.

Wedding cake & Dessert table

Our wedding cake was provided by the delicious Daisy Cakes bakery. We were originally introduced to this bakery through a Taste Carolina gourmet food tour. Patrick was probably leaning towards Daisy Cakes from the very beginning (we also tasted at Sugarland and Guglhupf). Daisy Cakes allowed us to have a tasting while Mom and Jimmy were in town (coincidentally for a Cotton Room open house). Their professionalism was outstanding and we couldn't have had a better cake tasting experience here. For our wedding cake we went traditional and selected a vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream filling and frosting. To round out the brunch buffet we added a dessert table. It was filled with chocolate cupcakes with mocha buttercream frosting, chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter buttercream frosting, lemon meringue tartlettes, raspberry almond bars, and vanilla raspberry bread pudding!

Mom thought the coffee mugs were extra cute.
The Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner was hosted by Patrick's mom and was in the dining room of the King's Daughters Inn, the bed and breakfast where everyone was staying. We contracted with Durham Catering Co. for the evening. They did a phenomenal job. For starters we had sesame crusted tuna seared rare with an avocado and chipotle mayonnaise and wild mushroom & goat cheese quiche passed around during the cocktail hour. The first course was an arugula salad with golden beets, ricotta salata, and pine nuts tossed in a citrus vinaigrette. Our guests were able to choose between peppercorn crusted beef tenderloin served with a potato-corn gratin & asparagus, grilled salmon served over tomato gazpacho accompanied by corn fritters, or hand-rolled pappardelle pasta with roasted summer peppers and tomatoes in a light herb butter sauce. The dessert was a buttermilk fruit skillet cake with peaches and seasonal fruit sauce.

We were pleased with everything. Although I will say looking back on the weekend I can't remember savoring much of the food. It's hard work being the bride and groom!

Seared Tuna Sandwich

Patrick loves seared tuna. And I love The Chew.

Carla Hall made this seared tuna sandwich on The Chew and I promptly went to the store for the ingredients. Very rarely do I run out to the store for ingredients to make a meal because I make weekly meal plans and prefer keeping my grocery visits to a minimum. However on this particular week I had purchased a bag of hoagie rolls to make turkey meatball subs and then no other plans for the sub rolls. I knew that this recipe would be perfect for a second meal with the rolls while they were still somewhat fresh.

Carla Hall's Grilled Tuna Steak Sandwich with Ginger Lime Slaw from The Chew
   Skill level: easy | Time: 30 min | Servings: 4
1 lb Ahi Tuna Steak
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
4 Pumpernickel Buns
Vegetable Oil
Cilantro (to serve)
   For Spicy Pickled Red Onions1/2 cup Rice Vinegar
1 teaspoon Black Peppercorns
1 teaspoon Chili Flake
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1 large Red Onion (thinly sliced)
   For Ginger Lime Slaw1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Freshly Grated Ginger
1 Lime; zest & juice
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
2 cups Romaine Lettuce (thinly sliced)
1/3 cup Roasted Peanuts (lightly chopped)

   Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high.
   For Spicy Pickled Onion:
Stir together the ingredients, excluding the onions, in a medium bowl. Once the sugar and salt have dissolved, add the onions and toss to coat in the vinegar. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use a fork to remove onions from the liquid when ready to serve.
   For Ginger Lime Slaw:
In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, ginger, lime zest and juice, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add romaine and peanuts, then toss to coat. Store covered in the fridge until ready to serve.
   Season the tuna liberally with salt and pepper. Lightly oil the fish and place on the hot grill pan. Cook for 2 minutes per side for rare steak. Remove steak from grill and slice thinly against the grain.
   To serve, place Ginger Lime Slaw on bottom of bun, top with thinly sliced tuna, Spicy Pickled Onions, cilantro and finish with top bun.

The components of the sandwich really went together well and created a burst of yummy goodness in your mouth. Patrick and I both thought this was delicious and will put this into our dinner rotation! Since this was a Friday night I splurged a little and served it with salt and vinegar kettle chips.

Wedding throwback: Bridal portraits behind the scenes

Hope you're doing alright trudging through these wedding posts! This February month of love is our last attempt at wrapping up wedding-related posts.

Today I'm sharing snapshots of the bridal portraits! With our engagement photo session at Duke & UNC and the wedding in Durham I wanted to have the bridal portraits taken at home. We scheduled these in June before everything would be blisteringly hot and the landscape would be a nice, luscious green.

My day did start in Durham though! I wanted to have my hair and makeup trials done here by the girls who would be doing it on the day of the wedding. The portraits would not be until late afternoon so I had time to get everything done in the morning and then drive back home and get in my dress with some time to spare.

My hair appointment was at 10am. The hair stylist snapped this phone picture so I could show my mom where the veil was to be placed back into my hair.

I loved my Toms bridal wedges! I adorned them with a homemade shoe clip. The gold buttons are from my mom's wedding dress. I wanted to have something with her on my wedding day and this seemed to be the most logical thing to do! 

Throughout the wedding planning process my mom really had only one request: that at least one bridal portrait was staged on the back deck. So here is Carol getting started with the first snapshots of the session!

We had an old white bed sheet to lay down under my dress to prevent it from getting dirty. Unfortunately that doesn't prevent the cat from getting a mind of his own to try to get under my dress!

Pebbles plotting his next moves.
From the back deck we went to the historic area to take a few pictures. These were some of my favorites.

The local florist reached out to our florist at the venue for a description of my wedding bouquet and recreated something similar.

What a fun day! 

The back deck location was my parent's selection for the portrait! A friend snapped this at the wedding.

Wedding Throwback: More Pinterest Inspiration

Here's the second half of our Pinterest inspiration. These are pins that actually came to fruition. We loved them enough to make them our own. Here's a recap of the pins we didn't use. Read on for what we liked...


The Pin
Three generation ring photo

grandma, bride, mom. love

The Decision
   Carol had visited my Pinterest board and knew that this was something I was interested in. During the photographs my mind was just focused on smiling and I forgot about this! But Carol remembered and prompted for the shot. Check out my mom's neutral mother of the bride dress below!

The Reality

It's a beautiful shot and the sentiment behind it is especially touching. Love through three generations; this past June Granny and Poppa celebrated 64 years of wedded bliss. Patrick and I can only hope to gracefully age with each other still by our side and more in love than we are now as they have.

The Pin

The Decision
   It wasn't too much of a decision to have a wedding day emergency kit... the decision was what to include in the kit! Some of the kits can be quite exhaustive. I consulted with the ladies in my wedding party and set off to Target from there. 

The Reality

   When we were putting together the kit we tried to make sure what we purchased would be useful again in the future. For example, Static Guard was something I was a little iffy on but decided that Static Guard would be nice to have on hand in the future. I put everything in clear gallon ziplock bags and organized by how you would need. (Things you need for your dress included static guard, Shout wet wipes, and safety pins) Hair rubberbands and hair spray were the two most used items from the kit on the day of. 

The Pin
Ornament with wedding memorabilia

Petals from your bouquet, a cork from the wine. Write the date of your wedding on the ornament. Such a beautiful memory!

The Decision
   This was an after wedding task. I put this together shortly after the wedding. I made two; one for me and the other was a Christmas gift for my mom. It's a nice way to keep everything. I don't how the original pinner got a whole cork in their ornament!

The Reality
   The acrylic ornament (I opted for acrylic so it wouldn't break... and I did already drop it so that was a good idea) is filled with curled portions of the invitation (both of our names, the date and time, and the location), dried bouquet petals, material from my wedding dress, a snippet of material that was wrapped around my bouquet, and the buttons from my mom's wedding dress that were on my shoes.

The Pin

The Decision
   The desire to save everything related to your wedding is really strong. This is a great way to keep your cards. They won't get thrown in a box and it's a great memento to go along with the guestbook.

The Reality

I used 3 inch binder rings to secure the cards versus the string. I had two groupings; an extra Save The Date and extra wedding invitation as the covers. In the Save The Date grouping, I have shower cards and then various wedding mementos (ceremony program, personalized napkins, and table numbers). In the wedding invitation grouping I just have strictly cards from the wedding.

The Pin

Toms for the reception; I want the grosgrain wedges

The Decision
   I knew that I didn't want to wear uncomfortable high heels on my wedding day! It was also really important to me that I wear the same shoes throughout the day. I didn't want to change shoes between the ceremony and reception. Your wedding dress is hemmed according to what shoes you'll be wearing during the ceremony. And I personally think a bride shouldn't ruin her dress because she wanted to take her shoes off!

The Reality

The wedges are a great compromise! They were comfortable and still cute! Couldn't have been happier with these shoes.

The Pin

Herb based boutonnieres... this would be fitting for Patrick!

The Decision
Patrick and I love dabbling outdoors with herbs and our container garden. I thought it would be really appropriate to have an herb boutonniere for him.

The Reality

The florist listened to my wants! Instead of an all herb boutonniere she placed a rosemary twig with an ivory rose. The roses were also in my bouquet and she wanted to tie the two together. In this picture you can see the rosemary twig poking out behind the rose.

The Pin
New initial necklace

Wear your new initials at the reception! I think this is a great idea; want it in rose gold.

The Decision
I love this idea! Patrick snooped through my Pinterest and saw that this was something I was interested in. However I did not want it for the reception. Patrick gave me the three strand pearl necklace for my birthday to wear on the wedding day and I certainly wouldn't want to take it off!

The Reality

   Patrick surprised me with the monogram necklace while we were getting ready! I particularly like my new monogram because it represents both my new name but also us as a couple! I was able to wear it later on the wedding day at dinner and when we went out with friends in downtown Durham.

As with anything Pinterest, in my experience it is best when you make it your own. Take the ideas as inspiration and put your personal spin on it!