Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bride and Groom Cake Topper

"In all of the wedding cake, hope is the sweetest of plums."
(Douglas Jerrold)

As much as I drool over the stylish sophistication of modern cakes -- see 100 Layer Cake's "Modern wedding cakes" post on Charm City Cakes Summer 2012 Collection for stunning examples -- our wedding cake will be a simple yet traditional white cake adorned with just a few flowers on each tier. However, I'm trying to make our wedding as personalized as possible, so I made a cutesy cake topper! It's one of several DIY projects, and is also posted in a Weddingbee Bio.

I'm late in sharing this, and will rewind a couple of months. It was a mid-February weekend when I hand-painted our cake topper consisting of wooden peg dolls attached to a base, sitting at my sister's dining room table while my nephew watched episodes of Thomas & Friends. He was very interested in my project and observantly commented that we did not have arms. With no good explanation, I instead pointed out what we did have, which you'll see below.

Peg dolls, paint, brushes, and a pencil
Penciled-in outlines
Partly done but our heads feel chilly
I think we swapped tans (or is it my faux tan?)
Let us eat cake!

There was a gal, let's call her Sharon
Some wondered what she would be wearin'
On her wedding day
In the fine month of May
When the words "I do" she would be swearin'!

My bride figurine is very simple, with a strapless ivory wedding dress, eyelashes, updo, and a double-layer veil of tulle from my actual gown. My groom figurine is much more detailed, with my fiancé's eyebrows, black suit, white dress shirt, striped tie... and Michigan t-shirt. I wanted to pay homage not only to Sam's love for his alma mater, but also his Superman movie fandom: Clark-Kent-meets-Super-Wolverine.

This afternoon, I had an appointment at our reception venue to choose the menu, including the cake flavor and filling!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Celebrating Easter

"The rabbit of Easter. He bring of the chocolate."
(David Sedaris)

I hope everyone had a joyful holiday! I spent Easter Sunday at church, at home, and at Pizza & Brew for dinner. Below are some photos from last weekend.

Easter Sunday Service

 Our church choir sang a beautiful Easter Cantata along with instrumental accompaniment.

Salted Caramel Easter Popcorn

I made festive and flavorful Salted Caramel Easter Popcorn with Easter Pretzel M&Ms and Mini Robin Eggs candy. Mmm, sticky caramel corn!

Easter Egg Decorating

I prepared an Easter egg coloring kit to dye hard-boiled eggs. I think I have more fun with this than anyone else.

Thrill of the Easter Hunt

I organized an Easter egg hunt for my nephew Peter by scattering over a dozen chocolate- or sticker-filled plastic eggs and wind-up toys around my front yard. He found all of them, and ate a handful of candy. When I asked if he had fun, he answered, "Yes, it was delicious!"

Easter Hosta Growth

Quoting Martin Luther: "Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time." Peter witnessed new life emerging from the soil in the form of hosta plants. The first one was in the early shoot-sprouting stage -- he said it looked like asparagus; the second hosta had taller stalks, which reminded me of green onions; and the third was growing leaves. Peter also saw a bunny on the lawn, and after it hopped off, wanted to go find it.

Tomorrow marks the 2nd Sunday of Easter leading up to Pentecost. Happy Easter Season!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Wedding Floral Design

"Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers -- and never succeeding."
(Gian Carlo Menotti)

They say April showers bring May flowers. It's Easter weekend and I see buds blooming all around, so I hope next month's flowers are just as pretty!

I had my floral appointment the night before my bachelorette party weekend, and being a lover of flowers -- and knowing how much they cost -- I arrived with ideas and photos, and my florist made good suggestions as well. As I shared in my "Say Yes to the Dress?" post last summer, I wanted rich pinks and purples alongside the fresh lightness of wedding-y whites. Speaking of "the dress": I had my one and only fitting appointment today, standing in place with heels on, in a dress that has about 100 layers... Enough said. (All images below from; actual flowers may not be the same shades as pictured.)

White, Ivory, and Champagne Flowers

White peony
White anemone
White hydrangea
White calla lily
White snapdragon
White sweetheart rose
Vendela rose
Champagne rose

Pink and Purple Flowers

Sahara rose (very faint peachy-beige pink)
Hot pink rose
Dark pink tulip
Purple rose
Dark purple tulip
Purple hydrangea
Purple iris

Flowers are God's beautiful creation and a gift to us in nature, yet very expensive when used for weddings and other special occasions! Because of my appreciation for flowers and our large bridal party, our floral budget accommodates all of the bouquets and pomanders (10), boutonnieres (11), corsages (4), ceremony arrangements (2), centerpieces (your guess is as good as mine right now), and some roses for the wedding cake. I had thought our tables were 66" rounds but it turns out we are getting 72" rounds so that cuts down on a couple of centerpieces.

Floral design is typically 8-10% of the total wedding cost, but there are practical and creative ways to stretch your budget. For example, our church will be kept very simple: altar sprays only, which will be repurposed at the reception; our cocktail tables will not have any flowers; and our sweetheart table will be decorated with my bouquet flanked by my bridesmaids' bouquets. Although I don't know if it would work logistically, I'm looking into donating the reception centerpieces to a nursing home or assisted living center to give our flowers a higher second calling and bring smiles to others.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Miami Bachelorette Weekend

"A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous."
(Coco Chanel)

I was lucky enough to escape to Miami's South Beach last weekend for an intimate bachelorette party with 4 of my classy and fabulous bridesmaids -- Angela, Christine, Leslie, and Maureen (my long-distance bridesmaids had scheduling conflicts) -- and I am so grateful for the quality time spent with them, although it went by much too quickly. Everything about the weekend was kept under wraps until we landed in Miami and were en route to our mystery hotel. While it all seemed like such an effortless blend of relaxation and activity, I found out it was thoughtfully orchestrated.

Bachelorette Highlights

{Friday, March 30}
Afternoon flight from NYC to Miami / Arrival at Lords South Beach / Dinner at Indomania / Drinks at Shore Club

{Saturday, March 31}
Breakfast on The Porch at Lords / Agua Spa at Delano South Beach / Delano Beach Club / Dinner at The Dining Room / Party at Mansion

{Sunday, April 1}
Breakfast on The Porch at Lords / Afternoon flight from Miami to NYC / Korean dinner in Queens

Lords South Beach

We stayed at Lords South Beach, an "appropriately oriented" (aka gay-friendly) boutique hotel on Collins Avenue. We had 3 rooms for 5 girls, and were given tote bags, colorful sunglasses, and 3 bottles of Absolut Vodka; we drank a tiny bit from one bottle and my friend brought the rest back to New York.

Hello, Mr. Beach Ball Polar Bear!
Colorful seating and table with "appropriately oriented" magazines
Loving all the sunflower yellow
Some of our cute room keys
My Cleopatra room


The first evening, we had dinner at a wonderful Indonesian restaurant called Indomania. I had never tried Indonesian cuisine before, but I am now determined to find good Indonesian food in NYC. We ordered a smorgasbord of dishes called rijstaffels and everything was delicious.

Indomania menu
Variety for real food lovers
I'm a big fan of Cava (anything Spanish, really)

Skybar at Shore Club

After dinner, we awaited the arrival of one of our friends back at the hotel. Later, we went to Shore Club's Skybar for drinks and had a low-key night out sitting by the pools.

Mojitos at Shore Club
Me, Bridesmaid L, MOH M, Bridesmaid C, Bridesmaid A

Agua Spa at Delano South Beach

I think my favorite part of the weekend was the time we spent at Agua Spa on the Delano rooftop. The spa staff were so welcoming and professional, and we all had such a pampering experience. Ahhh...

Antioxidant drops for water
"Bright Lights" coral mani/pedi and my faux tan
Lounging with a mimosa post-massage

Delano Beach Club

The original plan was to have lunch at Joe's Stone Crab after the spa, but we were all so soothed and contented that we decided to relax on the beach and eat there. The timing worked out well because we were able to enjoy the sun before it rained mid-afternoon.

View from Agua rooftop
Refreshing watermelon rum cooler
Tasty quesadillas, coconut shrimp, fries, and mahi-mahi tacos
On the beach (Bridesmaid L, me, MOH M, Bridesmaid A, Bridesmaid C)

The Dining Room

The second evening, we had a lovely alfresco dinner at The Dining Room, a Washington Avenue bistro featuring local, sustainable ingredients. Everything was great: the food, the service, and the company, of course.

The Dining Room menu
Cobia grapefruit ceviche with sorbet, king crab salad
Branzino with lemon-mash potatoes, artichoke escabeche, oregano oil
Key lime tart, baked Patagonia, chocolate mousse


After dinner, we went to Mansion, a nightclub conveniently located right around the corner from our hotel. I didn't wear particular paraphernalia, so it was more like a special girls' night out than an obvious bachelorette party. We had a table reservation and the best seat in the house for the endless array of Cirque du Soleil-esque performers, which was pure entertainment: female acrobats in pasties, bald tutu- and makeup-wearing men, giant robot-like dancers, and more.

Mansion marquee
Too much to drink
Moët & Chandon with strawberries
One of many unusual costumes
Miss Zebra and the ladies

Breakfast, or the Beginning of the End

The final morning, we woke up after not enough sleep at all, and had breakfast on The Porch of the hotel, where we had also gone the previous morning. I did not want to leave the warmth of South Beach, but what made it worse was that we returned to cold, rainy weather in New York.

Cha Cha Rooster menu
Apple pancakes

Now some details of the weekend will remain private, but there you have my last trip and final hurrah as a single girl, and I could not have imagined a better bachelorette party!