Blushing Bride

Another shower on the horizon…perfect opportunity to try my hand at cupcakes. I found a chocolate chip cupcake with a marshmallow like icing recipe that was perfect. I followed the directions precisely. For some reason the batter was really runny…this could be disastrous. I had publix on stand-by. Luckily the cakes and the icing turned out great. It wasn’t my favorite recipe-but the cupcakes were precious and quite frankly just as cute as the $3 versions! I topped them with these cute little brides and grooms. They were a perfect centerpiece for our celebration.

All American Day

Have you ever thought about how weird it is that we have a national holiday to celebrate how hard we work? Only Americans would think to celebrate our hard work! Whatever…I am not complaining. I needed this long weekend.

C and I decided to spend our labor day weekend celebrating all things American. American to the core…it was hard to think of something new and different for this day. A little morning shopping, lunch by the pool with friends, cooking some bbq for a Tuesday party and a baseball game complete with hot dogs and cracker jacks. We met up with friends and enjoyed an evening minor league baseball game. I even watched the game rather than gabbing and gobbling peanuts. It was a close one- down to the last inning. The baseball excitement truly reminded me of 8th grade position as the team statistician!  Man I loved that…I was the only girl who got to travel with the team! Fun times. I don’t think I had a boyfriend on the team…but I sure did love the attention. Alas…those stories for another time.

Normally, I get bored after a few innings…then my stomach hurts from the junk food, so we sneak out early. But not tonight. For the first time…EVER…we stayed for the entire game and even for the fireworks to round out the evening. The weather had a crisp feel to it. No doubt the perfect night to celebrate all things American…including our LABOR!

Semi-homemade

There is a trend here. VERY busy. Little time for extras. Welcome to the rat race. It’s so frustrating not to have the time I need to do all that I have on my agenda. This week we planned a surprise party for a very, very special friend. Our friend has a had a really hard year and really deserves a special time and celebration in her honor. And in my book, nothing is more fun than a birthday celebration…no matter how many candles are on the cake.

When we began the planning, I had big plans to make a gourmet cake. I even purchased a birthday cake cook book. I had narrowed the recipes down to either a carrot cake or an elvis cake (chocolate and peanut butter). The only problem with my little plan was time. Let’s be real here- Putting in 10 hour days at the office, squeezing in a work out here and there and trying to make the final decisions on our construction project, has left me with very little time. I have learned a thing or two in my yoga practice…and number one is….taking care of number one…ME. I knew that baking a cake was out of the question.  Must keep my sanity in tact!

So I had to be creative. I needed something special. Not your average grocery store cake with happy birthday scribbled on the top. Unfortunately, my time only yielded a birthday store cake. So I stopped by and ordered a chocolate cake with a smooth white icing. Nothing else on it. No colored icing…no ugly icing flowers, no confetti, no scribbled writing. Just plain white. Then I purchased some BEAUTIFUL bright cheerful sunflowers that all but screamed Happy Birthday. I cut the sunflowers and put them carefully on the top to create a truly cheerful cake. Placed on a pedestal…the cake was marvelous!  No one could believe it was a grocery store cake. It looked like a gourmet treat from a fab bakery!

Sometimes, we just need to figure out how to maximize the hours and minutes we have rather than become discouraged by the lack of time to do all that we want to do.

Happy Birthday KT!

The Real Deal

If you have kept up with my blogs, you know that I have been on a quest to learn how to make sin pots. Now I know!  To celebrate our dear friend A’s birthday, we hired Cynthia Williams to come over for a cooking demonstration which was a complete surprise to A. Aren’t birthday surprises so much fun! 

Surprise!

A. couldn’t even believe that we were there celebrating her birthday with a live cooking demo just for her! What a treat for us all.

The main course was a FAB sweet potato encrusted mahi with a balsamic vinegar reduction and topped with spinach and a roasted tomato! What an interesting combo. And for dessert, our local favorite…Sin Pots!  I am not sure I could replicate…the recipe was a secret…but at least I now know the ingredients! And I have to admit…part of the fun of a sin pot is being at the Augusta Grill. But hey…at least I now know! Mystery Solved.

Watermelon “cake”!

On this hot August day, we all needed a little something cool to beat this heat. I was in charge of planning the menu for the baby shower of a special friend. I discovered the idea for a watermelon display in the August issue of Martha Stewart.  AND – I have to shamelessly admit…my version turned out to be much more chic than Martha’s. Perhaps she needs a new stylist!

The melon was a perfect touch of pink for the celebration of a baby girl. I sliced the two ends off of a seedlass watermelon and then used a melon baller to make watermelon “balls”. I then created a cake effect by putting the balls on top of the melon.

To finish off the look, I clipped some greenery and flowers from the yard…and presto…a chic display for watermelon!

If you can’t beat ’em…Join ’em

For the second sunday in a row, C and I are headed to a toddler birthday party. Oh what fun…well…it’s all in perspective. I have found that there is so much joy in celebrating life…be that a child or an adult. I used to dread these crazy kids running everywhere kind of events.  Sticky fingers, cries for cake, screams, etc. Ya know…I’d think to myself- there are so many other things I would love to be doing like sitting by the pool, shopping, reading, napping! But then one day, I saw the sheer joy in a friend’s eyes as her baby turned one and we sang happy birthday. Birthdays are such a special celebration for not only the celebrant…but for all of those who celebrate the life of the individual.

So when it came time to get a gift for this little birthday, I decided to go all out. Not just any old present would do. C begged me not to make this purchase…explaining that the mother would not be happy about this. But ya know what? It’s not about the mother. Today is about a very special little boy and girl who will absolutely love this new friend! And I can very much assure you, I have never given a gift quite like this one!

Meet Kenney! The biggest fluffiest bear I have ever seen!

Boiled peanuts go well with everything

My typical boat picnic is less than gourmet. Sometimes its a soggy turkey sandwich on plain ol’ wheat bread and sometimes its cold fried chicken from a convenient store (which isn’t good hot so imagine it cold-yuck). When C and I first started dating, I would dream up fab picnics- gourmet wraps, a light pasta salad, fresh fruit and homemade cookies. Oh the glory days. It didn’t take long to realize that C was happy with a basic lunch as long as there was sunshine and cold drinks…and some good tunes of course. So I quit putting much adieu into the lunch and let boiled peanuts be the centerpiece of the lunch (really there are some days when the main course is so bad we just eat peanuts!)

But this particular saturday, we had a very special guest joining us- C’s cousin M…who we both adore and don’t get to see nearly enough. I couldn’t possibly subject her to our typical less than stellar lunch. As I was flipping through this month’s Bon Appetite, I found a great sandwich recipe- surely a great complement to a day on the boat catching up. I hoped upon hope that Snag would be there to sell us some of his unbelievable boiled peanuts. No need for dessert…too hard to keep it cool on the boat.

So I stopped at the Fresh Market to pickup the ingredients: Ciabatta bread, black forest ham, oven roasted turkey, genoa salami and provolone cheese. I decided to make the pesto mayo to accompany the delish cold cut assortment. But….they were out of pine nuts. I just couldn’t bring myself to pay $8.00 for pesto when we practically have a basil farm in the back yard. I decided to try a substitute for my pesto. I used raw almonds. It actually turned out pretty well. I don’t think it was as good as my normal recipe, but it is better for you and much less expensive. Pine nuts are really expensive and apparently they easily go rancid.

I mixed a little of the pesto with the mayo for a perfectly delish accompaniment to the sandwich. And Snag didn’t let us down…he was there at the convenient store next to the boat ramp with big ol vat of peanuts. A perfect lunch…a little bit of southern and a little bit of gourmet.