Monday, December 19, 2011

Wedding Planning: This & That

Before, I post any wedding weekend pictures, I wanted to share a little more of our planning and inspiration. I've blogged about the suits and dresses from J. Crew that we had to have, but here is how it all started to come together (and it includes a sketch of my dress)!

A few more details:

Nate and I hired Ellie from Hello Tenfold to custom design our invites. This is the image from her website; we actually went with a blush colored liner in the same pattern as the above. Our goal was to keep the invitation a combination of rustic, romantic and slightly modern. With a destination wedding, we had so much extra information to capture and Ellie did a great job of fitting EVERYTHING onto the RSVP.

The hardest part about planning a destination wedding, is not the wedding itself ... it's planning all of the events leading up to the big day. With guests flying in from all over we found ourselves planning a Welcome Event in addition to the Rehearsal Dinner and Wedding.

However, the biggest undertaking was a bunch of Wine Tours Nate & I put together for our guests to experience Napa Valley. In addition to setting all of the appointments and coordinating transportation, Nate and I created the above website where guests could chose and sign-up for the tour of their choice. We had 5 different tours on a Saturday during Harvest and were able to lock down the best wineries for our guests ... hence my disappearance from the blogosphere!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers, Hostess Gifts & Pretty Things Under $50

Last year, I had so much fun making holiday gift guides, I decided they should make a come back at An Urban Cottage. I've spent the past week scouring the internet, to find beautiful things for the gift guide. Here are some of the things I'm loving these days ... bring on the fur, texture, color, unique objects, feather and other things that make a girl smile.

1. Fabulous feather earrings from Anthropologie ($38) 2. A West Elm throw offered in tons of fun colors ($19) 3. Pretty Maps by Aaron Staup Cope on 20x200 ($20+)  4. Festive champagne coupe found at Anthropologie ($18) 5. Amazing and unique horn vase from Jayson Home & Garden ($48);G 6. Rifle Paper Co's whimsical and frame worthy calendar ($20) 7. A faux fur neckwarmer found at Anne Taylor Loft ($25) 8. West Elm's frosted foil pillow ($29) 9. My favorite coaster set from Rifle Paper Co. ($18) 10. Yummy recipe cards also from Rifle Paper Co ($12). 11. Lucky wishbone keychain from Jayson Home & Garden ($22) 


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wedding Planning Flashback

Remember last Spring, when I sprung on everyone that we'd be moving our wedding from Chicago to Napa? Well surprise, Nate and I had never been to Napa before! Our spontaneous selves kept nothing but ...
  • The dress
  • The bridal party
  • The photographer, Tim Tab
Other than that, everything else changed and we decided a trip to Napa was in order. Prior to our trip, we booked the Calistoga Ranch for our reception and the Westin Verasa for our Wedding Block and Rehearsal Dinner ... sites unseen. We packed our bags California bound, and hoped our decisions paid off ...
First stop was Dim Sum in San Francisco prior to the drive up to Napa ...
 Quick meeting with a San Francisco baker, then right off to Cakebread Cellars 

A night of gultiny started at the Hog Island Oyster Bar, then barbeque at Bounty Hunter and ended at Pizza Azzuro.

Woke up to this cute breakfast basket and then headed to check out the Westin Verasa...

Off to more important things ... wine tastings at Frog's Leap and Signorello.

A fabulous dinner at Bottega ... that Michael Chiarello can make some amazing pasta!

 More wine at Duckhorn {where we joined the club!} and champagne at Mumm ...

 Last, but certainly not least, a menu tasting at the Calistoga Ranch that got me SO excited for our wedding night!

 And that rounds out our weekend of eating and drinking in Wine Country. I came home with some tight pants and the realization that we 100% made the right decision to move our wedding out to West!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cheers to a Great Weekend!

Sorry for the mini-break in posting last week. You see, Thursday was my birthday and I continued the celebration throughout the weekend. Thursday night, Nate and I grabbed some apps and cocktails prior to him packing his bags for a flight to Miami. While Nate was gone at residency interviews, I caught up on some girl time!

On Friday, my sister Regan and I grabbed some sushi and cocktails at Kamehachi. Yum, they had the most amazing drink made from Cava, Gin, Honey and Cucumber. So amazing ... I see some mixology happening in my near future.

After a sleep over, Regan helped me to move some furniture around, bringing the below Expedit bookshelf from my bedroom to the living room.

{arranged it with China, treasures from Thailand, books and our espresso machine}

And finally, Saturday night I ventured to The Pump Room with some of my best girls. The drinks were delicious. The decor even better. And the company was the best.

If you go there, head straight to the Library, plop down on an amazing, over sized fur chair and order the Pump Room Pisco. You won't be disappointed. What makes the Pump Room even better is that the old bar was known as my mother's "old stomping ground". Like mother, Like daughter!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fall Flavors

If you know me, I LOVE all things Fall. Upon returning from our Honeymoon and missing most of Chicago's most fabulous month, October, Nate and I were in the mood for some cozy Fall flavors. We searched for a new risotto recipe to try and stumbled upon this Butternut Squash Risotto recipe courtesy of Miss Giada De Laurentiis. For those of you not quite ready for Fall to leave, try this recipe ASAP!

The recipe calls for ...
  • 4 cups broth
  • 1 large vanilla bean
  • 3 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 3/4 cups chopped onion
  • 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/2 cups grated Parmesan
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt
  • Fresh chopped chives

Quick & easy directions ...
  • Bring the broth and vanilla to simmer in a pot and reduce heat to low
  • Add butternut squash and cook until soft (just over 5 minutes)
  • Remove the squash from the broth
  • In a separate pan melt two tablespoons of butter and add chopped onion, cooking until tender
  • Add the rice to the onion and butter combination, coating the rice
  • Pour the white wine into the pan, stirring until evaporated
  • Stir in the broth, half a cup at a time until rice is cooked
  • When rice is cooked, stir in cheese, remaining butter and squash
  • Season with salt and garnish with chopped chives
Should be served with...
a big glass of wine while snuggling up on the couch with your favorite boy and pup!

If I were to make this again, I would add more liquid to make it even creamier. I also might try substituting some of the broth for apple juice/cider to bring out more "Fall" and the sweetness of the vanilla.

On a different note, I substituted the squash, onion and vanilla the other night for lemon juice, lemon zest and peas and it was to die for amazing!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Thanksgiving Recap

In the months since my last post, I have planned a destination wedding, married my best friend and had an amazing Honeymoon in Thailand. While my posting suffered as I got wrapped up planning a whirlwind wedding weekend in Napa Valley (more to be shared soon!), I'm hoping to make a come back to this here blog. No promises but I should be less distracted. Moving on...

This week, we celebrated a few things. One being my man's 29th birthday. The second being Thanksgiving. While Thanksgiving isn't my most favorite holiday, we love to entertain and hosted this year's meal in our Old Town apartment. To make it even more fun, we served up the holiday in style with our new china and pink and orange florals!

{I am a little obsessed with china ...}

 {Arrangements of orange tulips, pink snap dragons, roses and mums}

In terms of the meal itself, we kept to tradition with a nontraditional Thanksgiving Dinner. Ever since I can remember, my family has done everything to avoid the tried and true Thanksgiving feast. Turkey is not our thing, nor is gravy, cranberries, etc. Call us strange and un-American, but our menu was as follows!

We started with some delicious apps of ...
  • Potato/Leek Soup with Cheddar & Dill
  • Proscuitto & Melon
  • Caprese Skewers
  • Several Bottles of Hard Cider (who knew Grandma would love it so much!)
To follow it up, I made ...
  • Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Walnuts
  • Scallops over Pumpkin Puree with Hazelnuts
Mom showed up with ...
  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Navel Orange
  • Rosemary Grilled Baby Lamb Chops
  • A few bottles of Nouveau Beaujolais (tis the season!)
To top it off ...
  • Homemade Chocolate Covered Pretzels from My Sister
  • Homemade Pumpkin Pie from my Mom
  • Espresso ... and more cider 

    Jealous of our Thanksgiving meal yet? If not, stick to your turkey and gravy!

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Poppin' In

    In and out in a flash ...
    Isn't this J.Crew suit just adorable for a Wine Country Wedding?!

    {on another note, there is no excuse as to why I've been so MIA ... even wedding planning is not a good enough excuse!}

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    Musical Dresses

    Nate and I landed in Chicago at 1a on Monday morning after an impromptu trip to Wine Country. I must say that my jeans felt a little tighter after a weekend of eating and drinking but it absolutely confirmed that our decision to move the wedding to California was the best one we have made yet! Pics from our travels to come ...

    On another note, we have FINALLY figured out bridesmaid dresses for the girls. With the swap from Chicago to California, we moved from long to short, shantung to silk and gray to blush. Aren't they pretty?! But, I must say they were not easy to come by ...

    After falling in love with the dresses and even more importantly the color, we learned that there were only a handful of dresses left in the country. Girls ordered dresses two sizes too big and back up colors knowing how much I wanted these dresses. We were thinking major alterations! 

    Luckily, I worked hand and hand with J. Crew corporate to track down additional dresses in smaller sizes. All in all, I think we ordered 20 dresses for 7 girls, and it all worked out! Extras are being returned, sizes are being swapped and the girls are enjoying the new sale price that was granted to us last week!

    J. Crew, I loved you before .... but I love you even more now!

    More importantly, I have the most awesome bridesmaids in the world!

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Makeover Monday l Extra Seating

    One thing I didn't mention last week was my sister's ongoing hunt for a chair for her apartment. I've gone back and forth on whether or not she should have something neutral and classic or fun and colorful. Then I remember my red flowered chair. After 5 years of having that chair as my only extra seating, I couldn't wait to see it go. And so, neutral won. Here are three fabulous options from West Elm. Why I like West Elm ... most items are small scale, modern and reasonably priced. These three all come in at $600 or less. And now I present, the Elton, Sweep and Tulip {in order}!

    Wouldn't anyone of them look awesome with the fluffy white pillow posted last week? It's also from West Elm ...

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Makeover Monday on Tuesday l Regan's Feedback

    I thought I was just barely sneaking in a Makeover Monday post before the clock hit Midnight last night but was having some technical difficulties. So today is a Makeover Monday post on Tuesday!

    While, my thoughts for next steps in my sister's place are not yet gathered, I thought I'd follow- up with some feedback from my sister on the pillow options I pulled together for her and some of her biggest frustrations about her place.

    She's truly a combo of options number 2 and 3. While her heart knows that option 3 works best with her current apartment, she'd love to fully embrace option number 2 as she's crazy for some texture. Maybe I can create some combination of the two ...

    Option 3 with the addition of a fluffy white pillow ... that's texture for you Regs!

    Some other items on our "to do" list:
    Add a focal point above the bed
    Catchalls ... she tells me she needs them left and right!
    New dining chairs and coffee table to replace the black leather chairs and ottoman {hand me downs}

    Now if Regan and I could just slow down with our regular lives to spend some time on her apartment!

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