Friday, June 26, 2009

Do You Remember The Time?

I do. I remember the time I first heard Michael Jackson's music. I was about 4 or 5 years old when the "Off the Wall" album was released. My older brother played it all the time. I remember looking at the cool guy on the cover with the afro and tuxedo and blindingly white socks. That's how I first met Michael Jackson. Music lovers the world over were shocked and saddened to learn of his death on yesterday afternoon. While the need to mourn is a natural part of our lives, I challenge each of us to celebrate. Celebrate his spirit, his music and the joy Michael Jackson brought to the world. So tell me, do you remember the time you fell in love with the his music?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Food For Thought Thursdays:Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone and Agave

There's something about the thought of grilled fruit that never sat right with me. But that dear readers, was before I had grilled pineapple and yes, peaches. I was at a lovely lawn party that was catered of course. When I came across Leslie's foodie blog, I knew I had to share the experience with you. Enjoy!

Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone and Agave
Peaches(however many you want to serve)
Mascarpone Cheese(3 tbsp per 1/2 peach)
Agave Nectar(no specific amount)
Basil(1 leaf per whole peach)
Demerara Sugar

Preheat your grill to around 400
Cut your peach in half and remove the pit
Grill cut side down for about 5 minutes
While peaches are grilling mix the cheese and a bit of agave nectar together to sweeten the cheese up a bit.
Scoop about 3 tablespoons of cheese onto each peach half.
Drizzle with agave nectar and sprinkle some demerara sugar on the top. Place some basil on each peach.

EAT PEACH....LICK PLATE(**Leslie's words but my sentiments, exactly!)
recipe and image courtesy of Leslie

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pretty Papers: ABCD Designs

Happy Monday, dear readers! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and are ready to start the week off on a good note. I couldn't think of a better way to usher in Monday than with the incredibly talented Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo of ABCD Designs. To say Amy Beth designs luxe stationery is an understatement. Her work is fresh, fun and contemporary. If you're planning your wedding, I would call Amy Beth early in the design process. Her aesthetic will truly help shape your event's vision.
The glamorous designer Amy Beth
Amy, tell our readers a bit about you and your company.
My name is Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo (ABCD!) and I design (designs) Bespoke Stationery. I often go by ABC Dragoo or ABCD. I also write a blog called . The blog is about all things that inspire me. I write about being a newlywed, nesting, homemaking, recipes, travel, interior design and a little bit about wedding ideas and my current projects.

The ABCD Designs Bespoke Stationery tag line is Weddings, New Babies, Big Announcements - Milestones in life set the tone. I will design stationery for any personal project. The lion's share of my focus is on Wedding Stationery because I am able to start with a seed of an idea and grow it into an entire set. It is really gratifying to me to be able to tell their story.

How did you develop your design philosophy?
Since 2005 my husband and I have lived part time in London with his job. Playing off of the Bespoke Menswear Design of the Savile Row Tailors, I call my wedding stationery suites "Wedding Stationery Wardrobes." There are multiple events during an engagement where (if the bride is game) I am able to tell their story not just with their invitation, but throughout their stationery wardrobe. The more pieces we do together, the more opportunity we have to incorporate their personality with different "accessories." I have a "ready-to-write" line of accessory pieces called "off-the-peg." Those are ready made designs are easily personalized and the colors are easily changed to coordinate with the event color scheme. (The off-the-peg line is currently bridal and baby shower invites, brunch and rehearsal dinner invitations, thank you notes, and the like. I do intend on extending the line with pre-designed wedding stationery wardrobes at some point.)

How do you create a bespoke stationery wardrobe for your clients?
In regards to telling the story of the couple: I love to incorporate the teeny tiny details in a couples story so that the wedding guests not only get really excited about being invited, but also so that they feel like they know the couple on another level after receiving their invitation in the mail.

Amy Beth, I know you're married to the fabulous Mr. D. Did you incorporate your personal couple story in your papers?
When I designed our wedding stationery wardrobe, I had images I wanted to tell our personal story with. For instance, after we had been dating about a month Mr.D took me out for my 30th Birthday dinner. After dinner I ordered a double espresso. There were so many grounds in the bottom of the cup after I finished it that I said "If you were an old Turkish lady you'd tell me my fortune." He took the cup, swirled it around and within a moment he lost all color in his face. He put it down and said "look." There was a heart shape in the middle of the cup. Luckily, it was my birthday and we had a camera. I used that image on our rehearsal dinner invitation. Another example: I caught the bouquet at my best girlfriend's wedding - only two days before Mr. D popped the question. The old wives tale came true! I used the photos from that event in my bridal shower invitation. When the wedding was over and we moved in together, I made a "Change of a Dress" card. I actually made a collage which included my dress with an old-fashioned map of our neighborhood cut out in the pattern of my dress.

Thanks ABCD for sharing your art with us!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday's Escape: Gaia Hotel & Reserve, Costa Rica

Happy Friday everyone! This week we are headed to the gorgeous eco-friendly Gaia Hotel & Reserve in Costa Rica. From the property's site:
"Gaia Hotel and Reserve - Located in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, is an adults only luxury boutique beach 5 star hotel and resort and a member of "Small Luxury Hotels of the World". Imagine a tropical getaway that offers sublime luxury in a spectacularly exotic locale. This is Gaia. The Gaia Hotel achieves an ideal blend of modern amenities and natural scenery. Nestled in the magnificent coastal forests of Costa Rica, the hotel’s well-appointed, terraced suites and villas offer views of lush and pristine wild surroundings that are beyond compare.

Gaia also offers more conveniences than the guest could need, including an on-site restaurant, room service 24/7, spa, gym, and pool, plus the availability of a myriad of personal services. Gaia presents to the guest all that is desirable in an eco-friendly environment."
Be sure to take your camera just in case you catch a glimpse of a white face monkey in the trees.
Aerial views of the resort

A suite's view
2 bedroom villa and bath
Suite's sitting area
Private patio
Outdoor restaurant

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Food For Thought Thursdays: Grilled Shrimp with Mango rice

Grilled Shrimp with Mango Rice
*recipe and image courtesy of Sara's Kitchen
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
4 teaspoons curry powder
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 36 shrimp)
2 cups water
2/3 cup light coconut milk
1 1/4 cups uncooked long-grain rice
3/4 cup shredded carrot
2 cups diced peeled mango (about 2 mangoes)
1 1/2 cups diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
Cilantro sprigs (optional)
Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add shrimp; toss to coat. Cover and chill 1 hour.

Bring water and coconut milk to a boil in a medium saucepan; add rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Add carrot and next 7 ingredients (through salt); toss gently to combine.

Prepare grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.

Thread 3 shrimp onto each of 12 (6-inch) skewers. Place skewers on grill rack or grill pan coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until shrimp are done. Serve skewers over salad. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Social Event with Weddings Unveiled Magazine

Attention all of my Atlanta brides and grooms to be: StudioWed along with Weddings Unveiled Magazine are throwing a Summer Social next Thursday, June 25 at 6pm. Stop by and meet some of Atlanta's best vendors, sample incredible food and fabulous cocktails. Did I mention there will be massages?! Register for your free tickets here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wedding Day Premiere

Event Planner extraordinaire Diann Valentine has a new show, Wedding Day, debuting tonight on TNT. It's more than your average fare on which flowers or cake flavor to choose but about amazing couples with equally amazing stories. I was able to watch a sneek peak and it is a very heartfelt show. Be sure to have your Kleenex on hand. Catch a sneak peek here.

"Tuesday, June 16th signifies the latest chapter in the Diann Valentine journey and reveals my first opportunity as the new host of Wedding Day. With such stellar hits as “The Closer,” “Saving Grace” and “Leverage,” TNT has established itself as television’s premiere destination for outstanding original drama series. Now the network is venturing into new dramatic territory with this inspiring, unscripted series from Mark Burnett Productions and DreamWorks Television.
Every couple dreams of having the perfect wedding day. It hails as the most important day in the life of every bride, and equally the most stressful…until now. It us an understatement to say that in TNT’s “Wedding Day” deserving couples from around the country get a helping hand, thanks to the expertise of co-host celebrity wedding designer Diann Valentine (author of Weddings, Valentine Style). Along with co-host Alan Dunn “For Better or Worst”), Valentine adds her flare and unique style to each wedding, making this Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “The Apprentice,” etc.) project the most extreme and heartfelt of them all. Friends, family and community all come together with Valentine at the forefront to create a dream wedding, as viewers learn each couple’s compelling story along the way.
“Wedding Day is an amazing show that will make you fall in love with love all over again, says Valentine. I hope you will join me and Alan in supporting this positive, uplifting and tear-jerking new reality television show”. Please check out my new website as it reflects where I am in my life and career journey now. I trust that you will look to the images, my blog and Love Notes as a source of inspiration to get you on the path to removing the box that society has been placed around your design vision; giving you fresh, thoughtful and truthful aspirational remedies for the woman or man in love that believes as I do, ‘Every Day is Reason Enough to Be Fabulous’!"

Monday, June 15, 2009

Not Your Mother's Wedding Dress

Happy Monday dear readers! Newsweek recently published an article showcasing some of the season's most fashion-forward, seductive gowns. These are definitely not your mother's wedding dresses. Plunging necklines, body-hugging silhouettes and sheer fabrics will ensure your groom doesn't stray too far from your side. Do you dare?
Priscilla of Boston's edgy feather hemmed gown
Platinum by Priscilla of Boston sheer top with strategically placed beading and ball skirt
Tara Keely gown with plunging v-neckline
Curve hugging dropped waist with tiered dress by Lazaro. One of my favs
Kenneth Pool with classic cowl neck
Loving this bared-shoulder design by Anne Bowen
Show off your gorgeous back with this Douglas Hannant gown
Your legs will take center stage in this corseted mini with ballroom skirt by Ines di Santo
Designer Jenny Packham, famous for her Bond Girl gowns, does not disappoint with the down to there neckline of this gown

**images by Luke Walker, Jennifer Davis and Erik Ekroth

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday's Escape: The Cove, Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas

Happy Friday, dear readers! This week we are running off to the ultra-fabulous and exclusive The Cove at Atlantis. Did I mention it's an all-suite resort?
From the resort's site:
"Dynamic and stylish. Sophisticated and sensual. Contemporary. Social. Exclusive. Welcome to The Cove Atlantis, the new resort within the world of Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Inspired by the beauty of its surroundings between two of the world’s most spectacular beaches, The Cove thrives on the rhythm of the day. While its ultra-pool and exclusive beach club create a seamless day to night experience, its breathtaking ocean views and balmy open-air architecture embrace nature’s most compelling elements creating a seductive and indulgent experience.

Enveloped in tropical foliage amidst the resort’s exceptional water garden of lagoons, lilies and African cichlids, meandering walkways of cool stone and dark wood lead to The Cove suites. The journey has begun."

I am headed to Atlanta this weekend to find my new home. Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Food For Thought Thursdays: Passionfruit & Citrus Cheesecake and Passionfruit Coconut Sorbet

One of the best things about the summer season is the abundance of fresh fruit available. I love passionfruit and found two incredible recipes on Cafe Liz that I had to share with you. Because these desserts are so luxe and rich, they would be the perfect ending to a lighter, more delicate meal of a citrus -infused fish entree. I really like the presentation of the ice cream in the passionfruit shells, coconut would be very stylish as well. Ejoy!
Passionfruit Citrus Cheesecake

For one 16-centimeter cake (approximately 6 centimeters tall):

For the filling:
600 grams cream cheese (I use 500 grams 5% fat, and 100 grams 30% fat)
200 grams passion fruit (weight including shells)
6 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
juice of 1/2 lemon

For the crust:
120 grams plain cookies
40 grams butter

For the glaze (optional):
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup orange juice

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.

Blend the butter and cookies in a food processor until you have thick crumbs, and pack into the bottom of your prepared baking ring or spring-form pan, so that you have an even layer of crust.

Cut open the passion fruits, and scoop out the yellow insides into a bowl. I don’t bother to strain out the seeds, since that’s what makes the cake look like it’s passion-fruit flavored, but you could. Mix with the rest of the filling ingredients.

Pour the filling into the crust, and put into the oven. After about 10 minutes, cover the top of the cheesecake with foil, to keep it from browning. Let bake for about an hour.

Then, turn off the oven, and let the cake cool down in the oven for at least 1/2 hour (you can crack the door open slightly.)

Once the cake begins to approach room temperature, take it out of the oven and let it sit for a few more hours, until it is completely cool. At this point, you can safely remove the baking ring/spring form pan without the cake falling apart. If you followed all these steps patiently, your cake will look like the one in the top photo, and not the disaster I described. Chill.

Top with glaze before serving (optional): Reduce the orange juice and the sugar in a saucepan, until thick and glossy. Spoon over slices of cake before serving. The glaze will be absorbed into the cake if left to sit on it in the fridge; therefore, it’s best saved for the last minute.

Passionfruit Coconut Sorbet

15 passion fruits (about 750 grams with the shells)
3 cups coconut cream
1 cup sugar
water (optional)

Slice open the passion fruits, and scoop out the filling (seeds and all). Mix with the coconut cream and sugar (and the optional water). Chill if ingredients are not at refrigerator temperature. Churn in your ice cream maker according to the instructions. Once the ice cream is frozen, put in the freezer to harden.

**recipes and images courtesy of Cafe Liz
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