Two Years Married to My Best Friend

May 21, 2011 stands as the happiest day of my life. Better than bid day 2001 at the University of Florida. Two years ago, I married my best friend.

I told Josh (between tears) during our rehearsal dinner that he was the most interesting person I knew. That is really the best compliment I could pay someone with whom I will spend the rest of my life. Caring, smart, supportive, handsome, well-dressed, funny, anticipating my moments of hunger…all bonuses. But interesting is something harder to find.

Josh, I am so proud to be your wife. Marrying you is the best decision I’ve ever made. I’m so glad you asked! I love our adventures, whether traveling or bee-bopping locally. And I love the moments when we are just at home on the couch with our little family…our pups.

I wanted so badly to remember every second of our wedding day and still vividly recall so many details and happy moments. Josh once told me, “I think Heaven will be us reliving our wedding day.” I have to agree. The sun was shining along the Indian River in beautiful Stuart, Fla., we were surrounded by the people we love most in the world, the drinks were flowing, the band was playing, and I’d just married my favorite person. It was the best day!

Our amazing photographer Esther Louise captured moments we’ll forever cherish. Here are a few {More details and photos from our wedding day in this Style Me Pretty post from 2011}. Happy anniversary, my JDA!




Speakeasy Engagement Party

Geoffrey, a dapper father of two amazing kids, and Katherine, a brilliant and beautiful triathlete, found each other at just the right time in their lives, and I’ve loved watching their romance grow. G popped the question in the fall, setting their wedding-planning year into motion.

I was honored when Katherine asked me to be in her bridal party and was eager to start planning the first celebration alongside her local bridesmaids, Brandi, Brittany and Mandy. We enjoyed brainstorming, crafting and creating an engagement party for the adorable couple, and I was excited to host the evening at our place. We decided on a speakeasy theme with mood lighting, gilded boozy-bottle décor and 20s attire.

Our unique version of this Wedding Paper Divas invite helped set the theme into motion for a roaring engagement party. Guests RSVPed to our party-specific gmail address and google phone number (Great idea, Mandy!), where they could receive the speakeasy password, “manatee.” The password was selected for no reason other than the bride-to-be’s irrational fear of the gentle sea cow.

Liquid Leaf-painted jars and clear mason jars were sprinkled around the party and illuminated with a mixture of real and battery-operated tea light candles.

Beer and wine bottles from the hostesses’ homes, plus some collected from a local watering hole, were spray painted in silver and gold and placed in clusters with candles. Getting the labels off the bottles required a long soak in a soapy cooler + a Brillo pad.

Brittany’s pretty damask ribbon added a nice touch around a grouping of bottles and to a gorgeous feather arrangement (which I neglected to capture).

Guests could take their pick of flapper flair. We created complimentary hair do-dads using assorted feathers and hair clips from the craft store. A basket filled with 20s-era props was also nearby for those looking to ham it up. Chalkboard clips made easy labels and complimented the speakeasy theme. We relocated our kitchen chalkboard to the fireplace and added the couple’s names using chalk pens, mimicking the invitation font.

At the bar, a 20s drink was in order, so we did a little research and selected “the Bee’s Knees,” a gin-based drink. I’d say it was definitely more gin-based than juice-based. Lemons and fresh local honey made it a sweet signature beverage in addition to beer and wine options. The Pandora station played Jazz Age tunes until we got a little crazy with the iPods later in the evening.

At the appetizer table, we included a few of the bride’s favorites, such as bruschetta and of course the Junior League Feta Black Bean dip. The delicious strawberry cupcakes were homemade by bridesmaid Brittany – her striped cupcake liners and turquoise dessert stands were a pretty addition to the color palette.

On the patio, an overturned Jack Daniels half barrel (Home Depot) with a glass top (Bed, Bath & Beyond) created a rustic, speakeasy place to rest a beverage. The little chalkboard buckets were a Target dollar-bin find, and they looked super cute with the couple’s initials. Thankfully, the yard was in bloom, so bunches of camellias in buckets helped dress up the patio.

Guests kicked it up celebrating Katherine & Geoffrey. And most importantly, K & G looked like they had a blast. Happy engagement, you two! We look forward to your big day and every celebration along the way! We love you!




Clip Clip Hooray!

Chalkboard paint opens a world of crafting possibilities, including this idea from Debbie at Happy Clippings. She explains how to make a chalkboard paint craft that’s versatile to use and easy to create. Use these fun little clips to label food bowls/trays at parties, identify stored items, hang photos or family artwork (on a string or with a magnet) or personalize gifts.

Visit Debbie’s site for the full tutorial. You’ll need some mini plywood pieces found at your local craft store (browse other shapes to change it up!), clothespins, painter’s tape, foam brushes and chalkboard paint (Rust-Oleum brand from Home Depot worked great for me).

My friend Lindsey came up with the solution to clasp newly painted clips onto a plate, making for easy drying and a handy holder for craft-night goers.

I am already putting these clips to good use and hope this project is one you’ll enjoy as well!




Just 229 Days until College Football!

I miss college football already. It seems like it ran by faster than Percy Harvin. The tailgates, the reunions, the fall mornings, the gameday attire, the roar of the stadium… Josh and I spent many of those twelve Saturdays in Gainesville, Florida, setting up our Gator-home-turf tailgates in a lot (quite possibly the happiest place on Earth) filled with other weekend warrior friends. I am already looking forward to next year.

The tailgate tune-ups and pepper jelly research paid off this past season. Our friend Ethan was probably half serious when he said he’d start timing my tailgate setups from arrival until the last detail was placed to see how I was improving. We had a blast in 2012 and were left with lots of fun memories. The game my parents attended was the highlight for me – it doesn’t get much better.

I enjoyed blogging about some of our tailgates and wanted to relive them just a bit with a recap to tide me over and serve as a scrapbook when getting ready for next year’s details and decor. I mean, I only have 7 months and 17 days to start planning! I hope you find some inspiration here as well. Here’s our 2012 tailgate season in review (links to more details and tips below):

UF v. Bowling Green: Bandanas & Flamingo Fans

UF v. LSU: The AstroTurf Experiment

UF v. South Carolina: Orange and Blue Jeans

UF v. Missouri: Katherine’s Birthday Brunch

UF v. FSU (away, Tallahassee): Breakfast & Bloody Mary Bar

UF v. FSU (away, Tallahassee): Breakfast & Bloody Mary Bar

…and a few more 2012 snippets:

Sprinkles! Sprinkles! Sprinkles!

Baby’s breath at a tailgate? Sure!

ESPN College Gameday Bus Stalking

Steve and Josh with Coach Corso

Natalie in her old-ball-coach jersey, watching Gameday shenanigans at the Peters’ tailgate

Ethan approved of the Blueberry Bourbon recipe, which I nicknamed the “Orange and Blueberry.”

Cheers! Until next season!

For more tailgate ideas and tips, also see:




Guest Room Updates

“Come on in, and make yourself comfortable!” That’s the vibe I eventually want to achieve in our little guest room. Some progress has been made since my Five-star Ranch House post. Here’s an update, plus some tips for your own guest room(s)!

Toiletry Basket
An easy addition to any guest room is a basket filled with items visitors may have forgotten or may need. Collect a stash of items during work and play travels, and replenish your guest room toiletry basket with unused mini-shampoos and conditioners, body wash, lotion and more. My itsy bitsy toiletry basket (a tin, actually) also includes a shower cap, shoe bag, nail polish remover pads, floss, tissues and a wash cloth. Other helpful items could include a toothbrush and toothpaste, mouthwash or a mini deodorant – delight guests by thinking of everything!

A Logical Layout
We recently improved the feng shui of our guest room by moving the bed in front of the window to free up some space on either side (and by removing a few unnecessary obstacles / random pieces of furniture). The windows finally received some treatment, and a transparent, geometric headboard (made locally by the friendly folks at Southern Chicks in Tallahassee, Fla., using discarded material from my friend’s remodeled home) provides a focal point without completely blocking the window. The ginormous chest moved to its new, caddy-corner spot, rounding out that area of the room.

Creature Conveniences
Guests should have space to rest their belongings, including reading materials, glasses and phones. I used some existing basket drawers in our home to create two side tables, added a lamp (for bookworm guests) and an alarm clock (for snoozy guests) to one side of the bed, and a handmade tray with some accessories to the other. Oh, and I added a waste basket – not all that interesting, but it’ll do for now.

So here’s an update on the guest room goals:

  • Rearrange layout for better use of space
  • Add curtain rod and curtains (surely this should have been the first thing we did!)
  • Replace headboard (I made current one haphazardly in 2005, pre-Pinterest)
  • Refinish and re-hinge chest + fill with guest blankets
  • Add:
    • Side tables (at the appropriate height)
    • Lamps
    • Ceiling fan
    • Luggage rack
    • Magazines
    • Candles
    • Night light
    • Mirror
    • Chair
    • Alarm clock
    • Tissue box
    • Waste basket
    • Jewelry tray
    • Guest book and pen
    • Wooden hangers
    • Robe(s)
    • Basket with toiletry supplies (soaps, shampoo, lotion…)
    • Touches like snacks, bottled waters, pillow chocolates, and flowers…
    • Local area beauty/history books and photos for out-of-town guests to appreciate
    • Guest towels and wash cloths

We’re getting there! What welcoming guest room additions have you made in your own home?




Holiday Wrap Stars 2012

Creative wrapping makes gifts even more special. These holiday gift wrap tips are kind to your wallet and keep things simple enough to let you enjoy all of those Christmas movies in the background.

Dish Towel Wrap

I learned this wrapping technique from my friend Randi after she gave us a bottle of wine wrapped in a lovely and practical kitchen towel. It’s a great way to jazz up that fun bottle of beer for the cousins or your next holiday hostess gift.

  1. Fold towel almost halfway
  2. Insert wine/large beer bottle into the fold
  3. Flop the towel over, and begin to roll it like a burrito
  4. Continue the burrito rolling…
  5. Once you get to the end, fasten it (sneakily) with a safety pin

Add a fun ribbon at the top to finish it off, and give it to someone you like!

Basket Case

Baskets make a great presentation and can be part of the gift itself! I like bread baskets like the one below (World Market) – a great item to have around the house, plus it was perfect for the assortment of items I had in mind. When arranging, place taller or larger items first, then fill in the gaps, working to make sure everything is displayed. Straw makes a pretty, natural alternative to traditional shredded paper filler.

Quick-trim Ribbon

You’ll look like a pro with this quick ribbon technique. Using a wider ribbon (1 inch or more) and a sharp pair of scissors:

  1. Create a few loops, enough to create the number of “fluffs” you want – in this case, three on each side of ribbon
  2. Fold your loops in half
  3. At the fold, snip off each corner
  4. Unfold ribbon
  5. Attach to gift by tying a knot around the center of unfolded ribbon
  6. Arrange to desired shape, and trim ends into a sharp V

Postal Paper + Neon

Why not? First of all, look how much postal paper you get on one roll (Office Depot). Second, the khaki color looks great with a flash of neon ribbon and/or paint. Play around with colors and designs, customizing gifts with your paint brush!

Have fun, Christmas elves!




How to: Serve Wine at Parties

When preparing for get-togethers this holiday season, or any time of year, wine is a safe and expected element for the cocktail list. Refer to these tips in your party-planning process to avoid overlooking bar elements, and set up a smooth vino spread.

Purchase Prep
As a general rule, it’s better to have a little more on-hand than what you need for a party. Take a look at your guest list, and estimate the number of wine drinkers – your guess doesn’t have to be perfect! One bottle of wine fills about four to five glasses, and you can expect an average of three glasses per wine-drinker. After a little math, you’ll be in grape shape!

A Vino Variety
Offer guests options, including both red and white wine. I like to offer at least two whites (a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc) and one red (a Pinot Noir), and more varieties depending on the size of the party. Other popular reds include Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet.

Brands: When in doubt, ask your local wine retailer for recommendations based on the number of guests and your budget. Price doesn’t necessarily dictate best taste.

Cater to Guests
If you know a particular guest will expect her favorite Pinot Grigio, make it happen. If someone loves Prosseco and it’s her birthday, break out a bottle for the special lady!

Chill Out
Be sure white wines begin to chill at least 1-2 hours before guests arrive – make use of any room in the fridge for pre-chilling, rather than wasting ice early. Before guests arrive, place white wines in buckets or tubs piled high with ice.

For Openers
Open a red and white (or two) before guests arrive, so no one has to fuss too much with the opening process. Tools to have nearby: a foil cutter (to eliminate unsightly edges that cause dribbling) and a trusted, easy-to-use wine opener.

Free the Reds!
Once you uncork a red, let it breathe. Set the cork aside in case you need it later on for storage.

At Your Service
For those tending the bar, the general rule is to fill glasses halfway, since it allows guests to swirl and appreciate aromas. Personally, I like to pour a little more than halfway!

Proper Supplies
For a more formal event, have enough red and white wine glasses available for guests. Otherwise, be sure to have wine size-appropriate plastic cups. Cocktail napkins are also a must!

Wishing you safe and successful celebrations throughout this merry season!




Turn Simple Jars into Superstars!

I was excited to try this DIY gold-painted vase project {from Style Me Pretty} after gathering a variety of inexpensive and recycled containers at home. My little collection of mason jars, pasta jars, and even pickle and jam jars got a touch of instant gild thanks to a fun product I’d never tried before: Liquid Leaf!

The Supplies:

  • Jar(s) of Liquid Leaf or similar brand (available at most craft stores) – one was plenty for seven jars + a small bowl
  • Foam brush
  • Variety of glass jars
  • Newspaper / protective table covering
  • A bowl you are willing to trash (or one you are planning to make fabulous*)

There is not much instruction needed. Just create! I opted for more painterly brush strokes, similar to the Style Me Pretty samples, going for thick-yet-imperfect coverage at varying heights on each jar. After a few hours of drying, my jars were complete! *The $2 grocery store bowl I used for the paint became a fun little living room accent. Bonus!

The Oh My Goodness Gilded jars have been great for a variety of purposes, from tailgate accents to fancy paintbrush holders. I can’t wait to use them in a cluster stuffed with flowers or atop pub tables.

Tip: The Liquid Leaf works great on most glass items. Try it with candlesticks, vases or frames!