eat & drink : easy end of summer dinner

It’s so nice to be back in the blogging world again! As Rachel mentioned, our family had a lot of things going on over these last few months, but things are slightly more normal once again.

Today, I just want to share a quick recipe with you – it’s the perfect end of summer dish!

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Gnocchi with Summer Squash, Basil and Feta

I made this delicious dish last night, and it was summery & filling. I threw in some cherry tomatoes from my balcony garden and used goat cheese instead of feta for more of a creamy tang.

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It was delicious, quick to whip up and a great last taste of summer’s bounty.

Hope you had a great end of summer!

xo, S.

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party : paul & marilyn’s 50th anniversary

We have been gone for quite awhile!  Amidst a death in the family, a broken computer and general busyness, it’s finally time to share some photos with you from our most recent party!  We recently had the privilege of styling a 50th anniversary party for a sweet couple named Paul & Marilyn.  It was so much fun!  The party was hosted in one of their daughter’s backyards.  Here’s a little glimpse into the event . . .

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IMG_7726The colors used were turquoise, red, pink, and gold glitter.  Signage was used to direct guests to the backyard where the party was being held.  Stripes were a big part of the decor and led the way in!

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We used crepe paper streamers to brighten up the surrounding area and give the party a cohesive look.

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We made a giant “50” that was placed at the center of the party.  It turned out to be a great photo op!

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Each table had a centerpiece that highlighted different milestones from their relationship.  We made turquoise flower boxes,  added gold ribbon, and created tiny banners to display the different milestones. The flowers used were hydrangeas, dahlias, and yarrow.

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At the cake table, we created a board that had all the different milestones together and various photographs for guests to look at.

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Guests enjoyed Italian food served on the deck.  A banner for Paul & Marilyn flew overhead.  Overall, it was a great success!

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xo, R.

party : wively wisdom brunch

Hey there, wonderful people! We’ve been pretty quiet in the blog world lately because we’ve been so busy with all manner of soiree! We’re gearing up for two big parties this summer, which means a lot more time priming, painting & building!

Last weekend, I planned and styled a party for my friend, Christina, who is getting married this month. It was a lovely time of brunching and sharing what wisdom we’ve gained as wives.

The wooden stumps went really well with our wise owl theme!

A triangle garland was a must for this special lady – it’s one of her favorite shapes!!

It was an awesome time!

xo, S.

eat & drink : jicama, avacado, radish & orange salad with cilantro

I love summer because it’s when we grow our vegetable garden.  This year Sarah helped me start my plants from seeds, as opposed to just buying plants, and it was so fun!  Some of the things I planted include golden beets, french beans, baby carrots, butternut squash, pumpkins, peppers, sugar snaps, & much more.  I also sowed radish seeds right in the ground and they were the first to produce!  They have the most delicious sweet and spicy flavor.

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We’ve probably already picked more than thirty and still have lots of little ones waiting to mature.  My friend suggested cutting them into thin slices and sautéeing them in butter as a yummy snack.  I also made this delicious salad I wanted to share with you today.  It’s so fresh, absolutely delicious and the best part?  Healthy!

IMG_7680I halved this recipe, except for the avocado (because who doesn’t love extra avocado?).   I also couldn’t find whole cumin seeds at my grocery store so I used 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seed and 1/2 teaspoon ground garlic powder to make the vinaigrette.  I seriously could eat this salad all the time.. it’s that good!  I hope you try it for yourself! Happy cooking!

xo, R.

home & garden : newlywed nest (part 2)

I’m excited to share the rest of my newlywed nest with you today – just like part 1, part 2 is a work in progress!

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Here is our little dining area, right off the living room. The biggest drawback of our place is the TEENY-TINY kitchen, so we’ve gotten pretty creative about storing our most beautiful things on open shelving units.

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I just love that kitchen cart! Putting boards on top of our storage units has given us tons more workspace – for two passionate cooks, that was a must!

Besides the awful wood paneling, the kitchen cabinets were my second least favorite thing. We got a firm “no” about painting them white, so we decided to take the doors off to create a lighter look.

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Roland wanted to be able to easily access all his beverage equipment, including his lovely collection of glassware!

Luckily, the tiny kitchen opens onto a tiny balcony – I love keeping the door open, so the space feels so much bigger!

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And onto the bedroom…

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Recognize these diagrams? We used them in our wedding!

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We absolutely love our gravity bike stand from Public – keeping our precious bikes safe & sound indoors was really important to us.

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There’s that awful paneling again! If we end up staying for a while, I have some ideas up my sleeve for dealing with it, but for now, our oceanography map must suffice!

Okay, my third least favorite thing about our place was the gnarly wrought-iron bars over the window (thank you, Oakland!). While we definitely couldn’t remove them, I used sheers to soften them up & put some pothos cuttings in glass jars on the sill.

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That’s all, folks! Thanks for bearing with this work-in-progress – excited to share updates with you as we work on our newlywed nest!

xo, S.

Ps, Where I Got My Furnishings:

  • kitchen chairs – IKEA, in-laws, dumpster (seriously!)
  • kitchen table & cart – street scores
  • tall kitchen storage unit – yard sale
  • bistro chair – IKEA
  • dresser – hand-me-down from family friend
  • bookshelf – hand-me-down from parents
  • bike stand – Public
  • bed frame – hand-me-down from sister
  • lamp & nightstand – IKEA
  • sheers – JC Penney Home

eat & drink : dad’s jambalaya

Ever since Sarah & I were little we can remember my dad making his delicious jambalaya.  It seemed like the pot was endless and so many gathered around the table to partake!  This recipe is not your typical jambalaya, but you can easily add in your favorite traditional jambalaya ingredients if you like!

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1/2 cup vegetable oil – 3 large onions, chopped – 1 red pepper, chopped – 1 green pepper, chopped – 4 cloves of garlic, minced – 4 carrots, sliced – 4 celery stalks, sliced – 2 cans of diced tomatoes – 3 teaspoons salt – 1 tablespoon cajun spice or 1 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper – 3 bay leaves – 3 cups rice – 1 lbs. andouille sausage, split lengthwise and cut into 1/4″ slices – 2 lbs. chicken breast – 2 cups chicken stock – 4 cups water

(Note : This recipe can easily be halved.)

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In a large pot, heat the water and chicken stock to a boil.  Add the cajun spice and chicken breasts.  Cover and cook at a gentle boil for about 15 minutes.  Remove the chicken and let it cool.

Meanwhile, in a large pan heat the oil and add the garlic.  Saute for 1 minute.  Add the onions and peppers and cook for about 15 minutes until they are soft and begin to caramelize.  Remove to a bowl.  Add the sausage and cook until lightly browned.  Stir frequently to loosen the browned vegetables.  Transfer the sausage-vegetable mixture to the pot and deglaze the pan with some of the stock.  Transfer the stock back to the pot.

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Cut the chicken into bite-sized cubes and add to the pot.  Add the carrots, celery, salt, bay leaves, diced tomatoes (with juice) and rice to the pot.  Stir to combine the ingredients.  Cover and cook over medium heat at a low boil for 30 to 35 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.

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Yum!  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have over the years!  It’s truly delicious!

XO,

R.

make : tissue pom present topper

I’m sure we’ve all been to a party decked out in tissue poms – we’ve even thrown a few ourselves! Recently, I was wrapping a baby shower present & decided to use tissue to make a whimsical present topper.

The first few steps for a present topper are identical to the first few steps of making a tissue pom.

1. Layer the tissue

2. Fold it with a 1-1 1/2-inch accordian fold

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3. Secure it in the center with wire or string

4. Make a rounded or pointed cut on each end to create shape

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5. Fan out the accordian and make a cut down the center of each side to make the pom more full (& easier to open)

For the present topper, I just pulled all the tissue sections up (rather than pulling the top sections up and the bottom sections down to make a sphere), so that the pom would be flat on top of the present.

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And voila! what an easy way to add some pizzazz to a present!

xo, S.

party : birthday picnic

Hosting a party is a lot of time and money, so this year I wanted to do something more laid-back for my birthday.

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Roland & I are fortunate to live super-close to both Piedmont Avenue & the Morcom Rose Garden, so I decided we’d have a birthday picnic.

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We walked down to the Avenue to pick up some grub – ps, have you ever had Gregoire? It’s an adorable, fancy takeout place!

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We met up in the rose garden, put on party hats & enjoyed our evening picnic!

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Afterwards, we walked back to our place for yummy cupcakes made by Rachel, lavender lemonade made by me (recipe here!), and lavender French 75s (recipe here!).

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We streamed some sweet beats by the Flashdance – I wish I had pictures of it, but an epic dance party broke out in our teeny apartment!

This was such an easy & inexpensive idea that allowed our friends with kids to come party with us for a while and allowed me to RELAX & enjoy turning 28!

xo, S.

party : r&s – the big day!

Our wedding day was a blast. Period. It was everything we wanted it to be: meaningful, relaxing and a killer party!

Here are some of the many, many photos from our big day.892391_10100457634908139_1483646158_o

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906351_10100457633700559_1842760631_oWe wanted our wedding day style to reflect us: a little bit fancy, and a whole lotta fun!

We took our wedding photos around Oakland (the old Parkway Theater, Lee’s Garden and the Leviathan building) to reflect our love for our city & the vibe of our whole big day!

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883016_10100457636160629_1729105502_oI am SO glad we saw each other before the ceremony & even had time to hang out with friends – it made the whole shebang way more relaxing for me.

We wrote & directed our whole ceremony. The whole thing was very special, but especially honoring some of our friends (we didn’t have a bridal party) & hearing my dad share some wisdom.
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Okay, here’s a little secret: we had our guests go to a cheese & coffee hour (so nice to have friends who work at Blue Bottle!) at the church while we ESCAPED. We snuck out the back of the church & jetted over to the reception site, so we could greet the guests as they came in. Plus, it gave me a few minutes to catch my breath & adjust – this made ALL the difference throughout the rest of the evening.

Our goal for the reception? A BANGIN’ party (on a budget). I think we succeeded.

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This venue was such a score – seriously! How gorgeous is it?

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Our guests loved our photobooth – they got to take home their prints as a souvenir!

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My big splurge for the wedding was the DJ. We knew we wanted a bonkers dance party, and boy oh boy, did he deliver!

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That’s my mom & aunt teaching everyone the “Gangnam Style” dance. Definitely one of the best moments of the night.

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What an unforgettable day! Not only did my life change forever as R&S became official, but that was the greatest party I’ve ever thrown.

And now, at long last, a shout-out to ALL my incredible vendors!!!

Let’s do it again for our 10-year anniversary!!!

xo, S.

make : DIY chalkboard signs!

As Sarah mentioned yesterday, I’m going to share some of the chalkboard art I made for her wedding with you!  It’s so easy – you can do it too!

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The key to making chalkboard art is CHALK PENS.  They are amazing and give you so much more control than regular chalk.  You can find them online or at your locals arts & crafts store.

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All you have to do is give the pens a good shake, depress the tip to get the chalk “ink” flowing and begin your design.  The materials I worked with included painted windows, painted wood pieces, painted door skins (thin, smooth pieces of wood), and black poster-board.  You can find chalkboard paint at most hardware stores and it’s very easy and forgiving to work with!

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If you make a mistake (trust me, I made many of those!), don’t worry – all you need is a wet rag or towel to wipe away the pen.  Try to do it right when it happens because the longer the chalk sits, the more difficult it becomes to remove.  It can always be removed though, it just may need a few wipes as opposed to one.

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This was a favorite quote of the bride and groom and a replica of one of Dana Tanamachi’s designs – she is an amazing chalk letterer!

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I love seeing all of these chalk pieces together!  It was a lot of work, but so much fun and I really enjoyed tying them all together with subtle design details.  Hope you enjoy them as well and feel inspired and empowered to go make your own chalk art!

XO,

R.