Monday, April 8, 2019

Spring Picnic In The Park.

When the weather starts warming up and the thick yellow pollen disappears, it's the perfect time of the year to get out and have a spring picnic in the park. The weekend was made for family time together at our local park. We styled this shoot with a soft color pallet in mind... pastels and natural wood elements were our key ingredients. The morning of our shoot, we baked a simple boxed white cake and minimally iced it in the "naked" style with icing out of a container. Keeping everything as simple as possible allowed us to remain stress-free.

[the last two pictures in this first set of three were taken by Jenny Wilburn]

If you've been following my blog since we've moved back to South Carolina, you'll know that Trader Joe's is my favorite spot to pick up inexpensive, quality flowers and greenery. Now if only TJ's could open up in Myrtle Beach, my life would no longer have to consist of driving to Wilmington or Charleston to pick up my favorites. It's well worth the drive to purchase affordable cheese and other favorite TJ's products. Thankfully, Aldi is here in Myrtle Beach, and that is another favorite grocery store of ours to purchase affordable fresh fruit, drinks, and crackers. Is there any shoot complete without a trip into Target? We picked up these Cadbury Shimmer Mini Eggs for our picnic photo shoot to keep with the subtle spring/Easter theme.

My family is troopers to support my photo shoot whims. It can sometimes be challenging to get kids excited about sitting still for pictures, but having the food available for them to snack on during this shoot and to eat while we shot pictures kept them preoccupied and in good spirits. It was important to remain flexible for this entire photo shoot as the purpose behind it changed, 30 minutes prior to the shoot the actual location changed, and I seemed to have forgotten so many details in the rush of getting out the door. Like so many times in life, unexpected things come up and it's important to just go with the flow. 

Picnic Rug - {Home Goods} :: Wood Cake Stand - {Home Goods} :: Cake - Julie Ann Events :: Extra Large Acacia Wood Paddle Board - World Market {here} :: Assorted Cheeses - {Trader Joe's} :: Assorted Meats - {Trader Joe's} :: Fresh Flowers and Greenery - {Trader Joe's} :: Crackers and French Baguette - {Aldi} :: Fresh Fruit - {Aldi} :: Lemonade - {Aldi} :: Cadbury Shimmer Mini Eggs - Target {here} :: Styling - Julie Ann Events :: Outfit Details - {Target} {H&M} {Forever21} {Target} Thrifted

Monday, April 1, 2019

Is Fresh Pasta All It's Cracked Up To Be?

A friend (hello again Jenny), mentioned that her dad had just given her a fresh pasta maker, to which I excitedly informed her that making fresh pasta was a bucket list item for me. And with that, I embarked on my first pasta making experience.

Fresh Pasta

2 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
2 Whole Eggs
6 Egg yolks
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
Sprinkling of Salt

Albeit, my well broke early in the process as I was trying to incorporate my eggs into the flour, but I refused to panic and continued making my dough. After kneading my dough for ten minutes, I allowed it to rest for a little over an hour at room temperature while I went and picked my son up from school.

My eleven-year-old son got in on the dough-making action, and it was very helpful to have someone else turn the handle to roll the dough out evenly. The key to rolling out the pasta is to find your rhythm while you're turning that handle to avoid the dough bunching up or the pasta rolling out to thin. We immediately "fluffed" the freshly rolled out noodles in some flour to avoid them from sticking together.

So what was our verdict? Making fresh pasta noodles was not as intimidating as I had built it up in my mind. I definitely want to make more pasta in the future. Would I ever use the box of dried pasta noodles that I can purchase from my local grocery store? Definitely. Is it worth taking the time to make fresh pasta noodles? Definitely. The taste is superior even when it's the next day and you're reheating your meal. We served our fettuccini with a simple butter, garlic, pasta water, and parmesan cheese. The pasta water creates a sauce and a nice coating on the noodles, leaving them the star of the dish.

{All pictures were taken by Jenny Wilburn}

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Easiest Bread Recipe Ever {AND It's Vegan}.

Ten years ago, I was introduced to this recipe at a weekly toddler playgroup. The recipe comes from the book Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day. What I love about it, is how simple it is to make! I throw all the ingredients into a container and just keep it in my refrigerator for up to two weeks!

3 Cups Lukewarm Water
1 1/2 Tablespoons Granulated Yeast
1 1/2 Tablespoons Salt
6 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

Throw all those ingredients into a container with a lid and it makes having fresh bread for a meal a quick addition. I also like to use this recipe to make my pizza crust with. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

What To Serve For A Baby Shower Brunch.

Brunch is the perfect menu for a baby shower as it keeps the menu simple and easy. Plus, don't you love throwing an earlier party to have the rest of your day to relax? We had the help of two other ladies that offered to make yogurt parfaits and a mimosa bar for the meal. The menu also included fresh fruit and mini muffins that were picked up from a grocery store on the morning of the party. 

Quiche is the perfect main course dish to add elegance to the table, especially when baked in a tart pan... there's just something about those fluted edges that look so beautiful. We were able to make the quiches ahead of time and serve them at room temperature for the actual event. This eliminated the need to time serving food and the arrival of guests perfectly. We served three different quiche options, using the base recipe of Entertaining With Beth. You can click on her foolproof quiche recipe {here}. Her site and YouTube channel is a wonderful source for meal planning! Guests were invited to try a crab and brie quiche, an asparagus quiche, and also Beth's tomato tart {here}.

We recycled glass yogurt jars for our yogurt parfait bar. They were the perfect vessel for holding each parfait and made assembly simple with their size. Yogurt on the bottom, followed by a layer of granola, and topped off with fresh blueberries and chopped strawberries made a pretty statement. The "momosa" bar was a festive touch where guests could choose from a variety of juices, top off with some champagne, and garnish their drink with fresh fruit. 

We served sugar cookies in place of cupcakes since cupcakes can sometimes get messy and we wanted a new spin on a dessert treat for our party. We were able to make the cookies well in advance of the actual shower date and freeze them in a container to keep them fresh until the party. This also alleviated extra stress that inevitably comes with throwing any kind of event. We hold fast to the mantra to make as much ahead as possible to be as prepared as possible. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Dipped Sugar Cookies.

I have this friend that has taught me all I know about sugar cookies. (Shout out to Jenny!) And when I threw a baby shower this past weekend, I enlisted her help in showing me how to dip each cookie in white icing instead of piping the royal icing onto each cookie. This new technique was game-changing for the way we decorate cookies in the future. Dipping the cookies into royal icing speeds up the process considerably and is easier on your hands. 

The plain white background on each cookie provided the perfect backdrop to create whatever we wanted for the design of our baby shower. I added gold stars and then painted random gold stripes on half of the cookies. On the other half of the sugar cookies, I mimicked the invitation design in edible ink marker. 

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