Pomegranate-Thyme Grapefruit Italian Soda

19 Apr

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I love nothing more in the summertime than to sip on something bubbly, whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic. As of late I’ve been having a number of rendezvous with Italian soda. It’s. Just. So Good. One Sunday morning I had a hankering for some Italian soda but wanted to add a few things in the mix. I muddled a bit of thyme at the bottom of a glass, added Grapefruit-Flavored Italian Soda from Trader Joe’s, and sprinkled in some pomegranate seeds. MMMMMM. This drink had me at hello. The thyme and grapefruit blend nicely and the pomegranate seeds make this a bit of a meal in a glass. You could even freeze the pomegranate seeds and use them as ice cubes, if you wanted.

I enjoyed this bevy with a good book and had quite the perfect Sunday. Happy sipping!

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Should I Do a First Look? My Thoughts

16 Apr

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The “first look” has become a very popular trend in the wedding industry over the last few years. Seven out of the last ten of my wedding couples have preferred a “first look” before the ceremony. People absolutely love it! But before I dive into this more, for those scratching their heads, a “first look” takes place prior to the ceremony and is a time for the bride and groom to see each other before they walk down the aisle. Now, there are many reasons why couples jump aboard the “first look” train. For some, it’s a way for them to get out their nerves, tears (sobs), laughter, etc. before they are standing in front of a hundred or so of their closest friends or family. For others, it’s more of a logistical thing: a “first look” means the bride and groom won’t miss out on their cocktail hour, or any part of their wedding.

When I meet with brides and grooms and they ask if they *should* do a “first look” I always objectively provide the pros and cons. I don’t EVER want to make that decision for them because I think it’s a personal choice.

The reality is, yes, if you do a “first look” you WILL have more time to do photos before the ceremony and you’ll likely get to enjoy your entire cocktail hour. You’ll also be able to create a very intimate moment between you and your significant other – and I absolutely LOVE some of the reactions I see. That said, I would caution you to really make this moment real – don’t fake a reaction or make a more animated gesture than usual. It should be natural!

On the flip side, the tradition of “he’s seeing you for the first time when you walk down the aisle” is no longer an option. For me, as I’m thinking about my future wedding, I’m opting to keep it traditional, because there’s a tiny bit of yesteryear left in this girl. But for all of the contemporary brides out there, who really don’t care about this, then the “first look” is right for you.

Sure, I know that keeping it traditional will mean I need to be smart and work with my photographer on a very strict wedding agenda and portrait lineup, but I think the payoff – that moment when he sees me and I see him – will truly be priceless.

DIY Bridesmaid “Ask” Gifts

28 Feb

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Weddings are on my mind right now, not only because I have a bunch of lovely weddings coming up this summer, but also because I’m planning my own wedding alongside my amazing fiancé, Eric. Because I have weddings booked through the summer and fall, I had to schedule my own wedding for 2015. But hey, no harm in waiting. That means there’s a lot more time to plan, create pretty details and of course, enjoy the oh-so fun days of being engaged!

Eric and I picked our venue and date pretty easily, but perhaps the hardest initial step was deciding on how to ask my bridesmaids to be in my wedding. I know, that sounds silly, but 6 of the 8 bridesmaids live out of state, and I wanted to send something that was simple yet special. When I saw these tiny potted plants at Trader Joe’s, I knew these were perfect.

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To make these a bit more personal, I created little flags with my invitation. These were pieced together using wooden sticks, white circular cut-outs and black duck tape. Because the plants and flowers have a lot of color, I wanted to keep these neutral. They were super easy to make and I think they look great packaged together!

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After I added my date and my signature, these were ready to go. My bridesmaids loved them and now they have a little reminder of what’s to come in May 2015!

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5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Engagement Photos

25 Feb

You’re engaged…yay! It’s such an exciting time, so first and foremost you should enjoy it. Don’t rush into the planning and simply enjoy the fun festivities that come with this awesome time of your life. When you’re ready to crack open those wedding magazines and start planning, one of the things that will be on your list is doing an engagement shoot with your photographer. I believe wholeheartedly in doing an engagement shoot before your big day, which is one of the reasons why I’m currently offering complimentary engagement photos. First, it’s a great opportunity for the photographer to get to know you and your fiancé, and for you to get to know your photographer. Secondly, it gives you a “practice” round and allows you to get comfortable in front of the camera. Sure, you may have some nerves, but after the first 15 minutes of us shooting together you’ll be craving more camera time.

As you’re planning your engagement shoot, there are a few things to keep in mind that make these photos as “you” and as timeless as possible. Here are five important things to keep in mind.

A Location That’s Personal (and Pretty!)

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I always ask my couples if there is anywhere that has special meaning for them. Usually the answer is “yes” and we incorporate that place into our engagement session. The couple above would always come to Wingaersheek Beach for family outings, walks with their dog or to enjoy a good beach day. I recently did an engagement shoot at Frog Pond in the Boston Common because of one couple’s passion for hockey. I also held an engagement session at Bentley University where one of my couples met. The location alone made them feel instantly comfortable and we certainly had a ball venturing around campus and recalling the good ol’ days.

Makeup and Hair is a Must

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It’s important for you to feel comfortable in front of the camera, and ladies, we all know the best way to do that is by getting a blow out and putting on some makeup. You may opt to do your makeup and hair trial the day of your engagement shoot. This will give you the opportunity to see how it looks in photos. You can also head to the local DryBar to get your hair done. It’s quick, easy and so affordable.

Perhaps the most important thing is to keep your hair and makeup as natural as possible. You still want to look like yourself in the photos!

Your Colors Should Complement, Not Match

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When it comes to clothing for your engagement shoot, keep it simple. Pick a palette, and make sure those colors are incorporated into your outfits. This will visually bring you together in the photos. Keep in mind that too much of the same color is a bad thing, and will be too overwhelming in photos.

Also, keep the setting in mind when selecting your colors and the overall feel of your photos. If your going to the beach, keep it casual and comfortable while providing a splash of color. If your going to be in the woods, think about incorporating deeper hues, such as plum, burgundy, etc.

Bring the Props (and Pets!)

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And make sure they define your personalities. Some couples want to use their photos as save the dates, so they bring a prop showcasing their date. Others simply want to highlight what they love. Hey, and if it’s bourbon, there’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. My point is, make it about you. If you love sunflowers, pick some up with include in various poses. If you want to do a picnic in the woods, give it a go and tote along a blanket, hamper, vino, cheese…whatever you love.

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And don’t forget about the pets! I love it when couples incorporate their animals. Their pets are a part of their family so it makes sense to have them be along for the ride.

Think about the Season

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In my opinion, this is a personal preference. Some couples want to take their engagement photos during the same season as their future wedding for the sake of consistency, while others want to mix it up so they have two sets of photos with two totally different feels. It’s up to you! That said, each season does bring its joys and difficulties. For example, the summer is of course gorgeous, however sometimes the temps can get hot, calling for the reapplication of makeup, blotting papers, etc. And the winter…I LOVE winter photo shoots, especially snowscapes because there is nothing like the beauty of that white canvas. That said, it’s cold. Terribly cold. So you need to be okay with wearing a coat, scarf and gloves instead of pretty spring dress.

The last, and most important part of your engagement shoot, is to have FUN. It’s a time to celebrate, enjoy time with your fiancé, and really kick off the journey to the aisle. Cheers!

Live :: The Best Gift for a Coffee Lover

13 Feb

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On Christmas my brother and sister-in-law surprised me with the best gift ever – this Nespresso beauty. I can now froth to my heart’s content and fill my cup with as much foam as I want.

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Simply poor in your choice of milk – almond milk is just as good as your standard non-fat milk. Turn this puppy on and press the black start button. Press briefly if you want heated milk, and press the button for 2 seconds if you want chilled milk. I’m excited to use this in the summer to create delicious iced coffees. Can’t wait. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy my hot lattes with layer of magical froth and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
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Eat :: Gluten-Free Thyme-Cheddar Biscuits

12 Feb

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I haven’t written much about food lately, which is such a crying shame because preparing and enjoying food is a big passion of mine. Part of the reason why I’ve neglected this category is of a recently discovered gluten intolerance. AH yes, I’m now a part of the GF troops. At first I refused to believe that this pancake-sandwich-pizza obsessed woman couldn’t eat gluten. I was in denial. But the fact is it makes me sick. So sick. And in order to live a happy, healthy, functioning life I needed to make a sacrifice. So I did. I begrudgingly started shifting my eating habits, learning about what I could and could not eat. While going through this process, I also learned that I actually had a few friends who were doing this GF thing, too. I wasn’t alone. One of my friends, who has a kick @$$ food blog helped me realize that you can actually make – and enjoy – many of the same foods while swapping out a few ingredients. Sure, you had to be more aware about what you were putting in your body, but at the end of the day, if you want to make pizza, you can make a GF version. If you want to enjoy pancakes, those are doable – and delicious! – too. One brand I discovered that really makes it easier to create these GF meals is Bob’s Red Mill. I had a craving for biscuits and saw their baking mix. I had a LOT of fresh thyme that has been begging to be used, and thought and herb-infused biscuit would be delicious for breakfast. I repurposed one of the recipes on the back of the packaging to help guide this creation and I think they turned out great.

You can eat these as-is, or you can put a mildly sweet jam on top like apricot to create a nice balance of savory and sweet. Or if you love egg sandwiches like I do, put one fried egg with a bit of sriracha aioli for an AMAZING breakfast. Enjoy!

Ingredients
- 24 ounces of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Mix
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup salted butter, chopped up into cubes
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
- 2 cups of water
- 1 cup cheddar cheese (or you can also choose Monterey Jack or other variations)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With a wooden spoon, combine the Biscuit Mix, salt, sugar, butter, and thyme. The mixture will be crumbly, but then add water until combined. Next add in the cheese (and if you’re like me, more than what’s called for). When mixed in, create 6 large balls of dough – bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a lacrosse ball. And if these sizes mean nothing to you, just guess! With a wet spatula) or your hands), press down the balls of dough until they’re about 1-inch thick . If you’d like, sprinkle a bit of cheese on top then bake in the oven for 15 minutes. You want them to have a touch of golden brown on top, but want them to not be overdone in the middle.

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Sarah & Scott :: Fall Engagement Shoot at Copley Plaza

7 Feb

After another winter blast, I’m dreaming of warmer times. Anticipating spring, excited about summer (yay, weddings!) and even yearning for fall again. Fall engagement shots in Massachusetts are just AWESOME. You can’t beat the leaves, the temperature is just right (a tad crisp, but not too chilly), and let’s be real – it’s the season for Pumpkin Spice Lattes and apple picking.

Last fall I had a really great time walking around Copley Plaza and the Boston Common with Sarah and Scott. At one point, Scott lost his sunglasses in one of the Boston Common ponds so he had to jump in after. Thankfully, he was wearing boat shoes (a true New Englander). Looking forward to their wedding in September!

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Sarah & Kevin :: Winter Wonderland Boston Common Engagement Session

6 Feb

You really can’t beat winter sessions, especially when there is a blanket of freshly fallen snow and the twinkling holiday lights. I had so much fun with Sarah and Kevin, and fell in love with their dogs Moose and Ollie! These pups wore their save-the-date signs perfectly – they were natural models! I’m looking forward to their wedding in the fall, and really hope their dogs are a part of their big day.

 

Buddhist by Monday

27 Jan

So it’s Monday, and no, I didn’t convert, but I did sarcastically say these words to a coworker after sharing that on my Friday night – instead of a drink or two – my friend invited me to a have a chant or two at a Buddhism meeting. I’m of the Christian faith but have always been curious about the different religions of the world. Like traveling, exploring religions can teach you and empower you in ways you may have never imagined. And this was certainly the case on Friday evening.

I walked into a room filled with a rhythmic chant. There was a steady vibration you could certainly feel, inside out. I had no idea the words that were being uttered, and was a bit intimidated. The only chanting I had been exposed to were a few “oms” at yoga. And this was if I didn’t bail before shavasana.

My friend gave me a pamphlet to follow along. I studied the Japanese translations, and mumbled my way through the opening chant which was one phrase on repeat.

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

This, as I learned, is the foundation of this particular Buddhist denomination. It’s used to awaken one’s Buddha nature and tap into the deepest levels of our existence. This high-level explanation didn’t really resonate with me. It seemed too philosophical and intangible.

As I went through the evening – from chanting, to sharing personal stories, to a lesson – it made sense a lot more. I started to understand what this meant to one’s personal life, and was able to walk away with three principles that I think can make everyone’s life happier.

  • Dedication and devotion – Those of this faith chant for long periods of time in the morning and evening. They chant with an intention in mind for how they want their lives to be better. In doing this, they are constantly reminding themselves of this positive mission. I think as a society we don’t take enough time to do this. We’re surrounded by many negative messages and ultimately this hinders our ability to see our end goal. By devoting time to set intentions for the day – whether that takes place while you’re running or physically sitting down to pray – you’re emotionally and mentally strengthening your pursuit of your end goal.
  • You’re in control of how you feel – The “Renge” part of the chant means lotus flower. The lotus blooms and produces seeds at the same time, and thus represents the simultaneity of cause and effect. The circumstances and quality of our individual lives are determined by the causes and effects, both good and bad, that we accumulate. This is called our karma. The law of cause and effect affirms that we each have personal responsibility for our own destiny. Note: “personal responsibility”. There will always be people who say negative things or do things to hurt you. Sometimes these words or actions can lead to self doubt or pain of not being good enough. But you can ultimately choose not to absorb this negative energy; if you stay true to your intention you know that this negative situation will manifest in time.
  • Happiness is attainable – I’m a bit fan of Gretchen Rubin who wrote The Happiness Project, which is all about how to find joy in the everyday life. I particularly loved the book because there were very tangible to-dos to help attain this level of happiness. Rubin studied a lot about Buddhism – among other philosophies – to ultimately determine her happiness principles. And what it boils down to is this: you need to tell yourself that you can be happy and achieve your life’s goals. If you don’t believe – or set these intentions – then your happiness will remain buried. And this is precisely what was taught as this Buddhism meeting.

As you can see, I have been deep in thought about what all of this means. In this fast-paced world we seldom stop to meditate and set goals for what we want in our personal and professional lives. This meeting was definitely a reminder that we should take the time to set our intentions to lead happier lives. After all, we have a path and it’s up to us to find it and stay on course.

#JustSaidYes GIVEAWAY :: 2014 Wedding Package!

1 Jan

If 2014 is your wedding year, guess what? IT’S HERE! So many beautiful weddings will soon be taking place and I couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming wedding season. And this year I’m even more jumping-up-and-down excited because I’ve teamed up with an amazing bunch of wedding pros to give away a lovely wedding package! Sarah Jayne Photography together with The Little Things, Sweet Annie Floral Design and PinholePress.com, we will be giving one lucky bride and her beau a pretty awesome package:

- 8 hours of wedding photography
- Design and month-of coordination
- $500 off a custom floral package
- $200 to Pinhole Press save the dates and invitations

Anyone from around the country can enter. All you need to do is pin the below graphic to your Pinterest page with the hashtag #justsaidyes and email justsaidyes2014@gmail.com with a few details about yourself. Bonus entries will be awarded to those who like each company on Facebook (I can be found here!). From there, three finalists will be selected and posted on our Facebook pages and each couple will campaign on Facebook to get the most likes. The couple with the most likes will win!

A few notes about the fine print:
- Make sure our styles mesh well with what you’re looking for on your wedding day.
- Travel expenses are not included; all travel & accommodations must be covered by the couple.
- The couple must be getting married in 2014 and the date cannot conflict with any existing weddings that are booked.

We’re looking forward to getting to know each and every one of you – cheers to a blissful new year! xoxo