Holiday Decorating

I’ve been searching around the Web for some inspiring décor ideas for the holiday season and wanted to share some of my favorites.

From traditional to contemporary, a little touch of Christmas to dramatic decor, there’s something for everyone!

Carolyne Roehm

via Carolyne Roehm

via Coco & Kelley


via Pearls and Prose

Veranda via Your Wedding Company

Elle Decor

Veranda via MarthaMoments

Veranda via FineLivingMuse

via pointclickhome

I Love BBQ

I really, really love BBQ!  I don’t mean just grilling or just ribs or just sauce, I mean, Southern-style, spice-rubbed, pork bbq with all the fixins.  One of my favorite things to do in Hot Springs is sample the local bbq.   BBQ places in Hot Springs are like coffee shops in the city, they’re everywhere.  Each one offers something different and usually features recipes or techniques that have been passed down through generations.

My hands-down favorite, one-stop place is Whole Hog Café.  This is kind of an unusual choice for me because I tend to be a bit of a snob about “chain” establishments.  That said, everything here is so mouthwateringly yummy. What I love most is that they have six different sauces.  As someone who loves swimming things around is sauce, getting to try all the different sauces and mix them together is fabulous.  Second, they make the best potato salad ever.  It is so creamy and flavorful (I’m pretty sure the secret ingredient is cream cheese).  We will eat here three times during the week we are in Hot Springs – it’s that good!

McClard’s is probably the best-known place, mostly because Bill Clinton said it was his favorite.  And, it is really good and worth the trip.  I also highly recommend Stubby’s – the pot-of-beans is awesome!  Both of these establishments have been in business for over 50 years.

No picture could perfectly capture this deliciousness on a plate, but this one from their web site looks good to me

The Lake Effect

My family spends Thanksgiving week at our lake house in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  My ancestors on my mother’s side first moved to this area in the 1800s.  The old family home where my great Grandmother and Grandmother were raised still stands today, beautifully restored by the current owners, and it is tradition to go by and pay our respects.

Hot Springs National Park is the oldest federal reserve in the country and has been a popular destination because of its thermal spring waters.  In the early 1900s, Major League Baseball would bring the teams to Hot Springs for pre-season training and the likes of Babe Ruth could be seen walking around town.  Once gambling became established, The Arlington Hotel became a favorite retreat for gangsters like Al Capone.  In more recent years, Hot Springs became nationally known as it was the boyhood home of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton.

About seven years ago, my family bought a house on Lake Hamilton to give us a place where we could all come together in this town that we have come to enjoy so much.  There is something transforming about being at the lake.  It is a constantly changing canvas.  Every day brings another layer of peace and tranquility.

Days may be spent talking, reading, or visiting some of the local attractions, like the Alligator Farm and the historic bath houses.  Evenings are spent having dinner with friends or cooking gourmet feasts, always accompanied by many bottles of fantastic wine.

In my next post, I will share one of my favorite things to enjoy while in Hot Springs – barbeque.

All photos by me

Wine Club

Tonight is the next gathering of my Wine Club.  A friend started this particular club about a year ago.  There are about 12-15 regulars, mostly women from the industry and other friends.  Here are the rules:

1)   Wines must be under $20

2)   The theme is selected by the winner from the previous gathering.

3)   The loser hosts.

4)   We do a blind tasting and then rank best to worst.

5)   Food is potluck.

Tonight, we will be sampling California Reds and a Thanksgiving-inspired menu.   I haven’t picked my wine yet, but I will be bringing one of my family’s more recent Thanksgiving favorites, Exotic Mushroom Bread Pudding by Emeril Lagasse.  This is a delicious alternative to the traditional stuffing.

courtesy of Nesting Newbies

Fit for a Queen

I can’t help but join in on the excitement about Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton.  I have vivid memories of waking up early to watch the wedding of Prince Charles to Diana Spencer.  This royal wedding is sure to have the same media and public frenzy.  For me, both stories are proof that a girl really can dream of becoming a princess!

There has already been a tremendous amount of speculation on the wedding, but the question I have been thinking about most these days is, “How will Kate manage to be the bride she wants to be amidst the royal and public pressure of the bride she should be?”

One of the first decisions a bride makes about how she will outwardly express her own personality and style on her wedding day is in the selection of her wedding gown.  Every bride can relate to the struggle of what to wear on your wedding day.  It is a day when you want to look and feel your most fabulous!

Weddings within the House of Windsor span the decades.   Long trains are a must for those dramatic walks down the aisle.  Sleeves and a modest neckline will be necessary too.  Oh, and don’t forget the tiara!

Credits: Daily Mail, Mirror, BBC, Wikipedia, Daily Mail

I don’t envy the designer challenged with creating a gown that transforms Kate Middleton into Princess Catherine, future Queen of England, with all the world, and more importantly, The Queen of England, looking over their shoulder.   For Kate’s sake, I hope  that she can work with a designer who can combine decorum with drama and youthful whimsy with timelessness to design a gown that very much encompasses Kate the bride.  Not an easy task!

Will one of these British designers carry the fashion flag for the future of the British monarchy?

Credits: Marchesa, Vivienne Westwood via SF Examiner, John Galliano for Dior via StyleHive, Bruce Oldfield via Wedding Inspirasi, Sassi Holford via Youandyourwedding, Issa via Shopstyle

Cozy Up

It is a cold and rainy day here in Washington, DC, and I can’t help but think about all things cozy. I wish I could put work aside and cuddle up in front of the fireplace in a decadent room, under piles of faux fur blankets, with some French onion soup, hot chocolate and a classic novel or a dark, romantic movie.  I’m warmer just thinking about it!

Photos courtesy of: Martha Stewart, Bride’s Guide, Elements of Style, Amazon, Coco&Kelley

Wedding Traditions & Etiquette

Ever wonder about the origins of some common wedding traditions?  Here are just a few interesting historical references to consider as you’re planning your wedding day:

Engagement and wedding rings are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because it was once thought that a vein in that finger led directly to the heart.

Diamonds set in gold or silver became popular as betrothal rings among wealthy Venetians toward the end of the fifteenth century.

One of history’s earliest engagement rings was given to Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII. She was two years old at the time.

Queen Victoria started the Western world’s white wedding dress trend in 1840 — before then, brides simply wore their best dress.

photo courtesy of The Ethereal Bride

Princess Victoria also established the tradition of playing Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” during her wedding processional in 1858.

The bride stands to the groom’s left during a Christian ceremony, because in bygone days the groom needed his right hand free to fight off other suitors.

Ancient Greeks and Romans thought the veil protected the bride from evil spirits. Brides have worn veils ever since.

courtesy of Hepburn Girls

Brides carry or wear “something old” on their wedding day to symbolize continuity with the past.

The “something blue” in a bridal ensemble symbolizes purity, fidelity, and love.

The tradition of a wedding cake comes from ancient Rome, where revelers broke a loaf of bread over a bride’s head for fertility’s sake.

In many cultures around the world — including Celtic, Hindu and Egyptian weddings — the hands of a bride and groom are literally tied together to demonstrate the couple’s commitment to each other and their new bond as a married couple – giving us the popular phrase “tying the knot.”

The Roman goddess Juno rules over marriage, the hearth, and childbirth, hence the popularity of June weddings.

Information compiled by The Knot

Inspired by: Pumpkin

Fall is one of my favorite seasons.  From the cool, crisp days to the hearty cuisine to Thanksgivings spent at the lake, there’s just something so cozy and comforting about this time of year!

One of my friends has a fabulous foodie blog called Charm & Salt.  I recently saw one of her posts about this pumpkin fondue/bread pudding by Ruth Reichl and couldn’t wait to try the recipe myself.  With all of the pumpkins in the stores for Halloween, it seemed the perfect time.  This recipe couldn’t be easier and is a rich, delicious dish worthy of a simple evening at home or your next special occasion.

photo courtesy of Charm&Salt


Announcing the Arrival of…

Starting a business is like having a baby.  At least that’s what all of my friends who have had babies tell me.  I suppose there are some similarities, though.  I have spent months going over and over different questions.  What do I like about what I do? What would I like to change?  What would I want my new company to be like?  How would I differentiate myself within the industry?  Is this the right time to start a new business?  And then months making all of the plans.  First, there are the formalities, all the things that are needed to actually have a business – articles of incorporation, business licenses, insurance, etc.  Then there are the operations, all the thing that are needed to function as a business, which my mommy friends related to “nesting” – creating a home office, creating a brand, developing a web site, getting business cards, etc.  All of these things are tangible goals, ideas that I could easily wrap my head around.  The one thing that none of the books or blogs or friends prepared me for was determining the name of the company.  I believed that I needed a name that was creative, something that would encompass all that I am, the standards that I set for myself and my work and everything that I could ever hope my new company would become.  Of the small group of friends and family that I decided to talk to about the “right” name, there were some definite camps.  Some agreed with me, but others made very compelling arguments for simply using my own name.  After all, I had spent six years in the event planning industry and had built great relationships.   This decision was agonizing.  I tried everything I could think of to determine the process that would make the “right” name just appear in a moment of clarity.  Time alone, time with people, exhaustive Google searches (in multiple languages), being surrounded by creativity, being creative, going on vacation to one of my most loved places, France.  I wish I could say that I had a moment of clarity, and, perhaps in some small way, I did.  Of all of the creative, beautiful names I identified, not one jumped out and declared itself as “the one.”  Of all the processes I tried, none of them really worked.  It was on the plane ride home from France that I finally embraced the fact that I already had the perfect name, something that completely encompasses who I am and everything I want my new company to become.

So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to the new joy in my life:

I look forward to sharing more about what inspires me and the events that I am working on in the coming weeks!