26 September 2016
Last week, I made apple cider scones and brought them into school for June’s teachers on the first day of fall. The scones were really delicious, if I do say so myself, and her teachers were really touched by them!
It was a really good reminder for me. Sometimes I see things on Instagram or a blog and think, I could never have time to do that. I wonder if anyone thought the same thing when I posted on Thursday. But the truth is, from start to finish, the whole project took about an hour. I bought the ingredients with the rest of our groceries, I made the scones after June went to bed, and it took just a few minutes to find my white paint pen and draw the designs on the kraft paper bags. If I had bought a treat instead of making it, my time would have been down to about ten minutes. (BTW, store-bought treats are totally legit – no shame here!)
And you know the best part? The scones were delicious, but it was hands-down the personalized bags. The teachers were so wowed and clearly touched by them. I’m not saying that to toot my own horn (ha!), but because it’s a lesson I learned right after we had June. Lots of people brought us food, and we were grateful for ALL of it. But one friend went above and beyond in terms of presentation — she wrapped the Rice Krispees treats in parchment paper and twine, she poured the blueberries into a mason jar, the chicken salad and rolls were in a kraft paper box, and she even added a bottle of sparkling cider. I was blown away!
I have brought food to lots of people over the years, but it had honestly never occurred to me to do anything special with the presentation (and good presentation is practically what I do for a living!!). No more. My friend’s extra touches made me feel so taken care of and thought of and loved that ever since, I’ve tried to add a little beauty just because whenever I can.
The easiest way to do this? Make it easy! Keep simple supplies on hand, like ribbon, glassine bags, washi tape, fun pens, and kraft paper boxes. It sounds obvious, but once you have a collection, it only takes a few more minutes to make something pretty. I got a lot of mine from Jenny Hobick’s store (and it’s only appropriate that my scone recipe was from her, too, because she is the poster child for elevating everyday occasions! Lots of inspiration on her blog.).
Go forth and make things beautiful, friends! You are guaranteed to make someone’s day in the process :)
28 July 2015
I’m interrupting our Paris adventure to bring you this past weekend’s big doing: Natalie and Joe’s baby shower! I loved this event so much that I just had to report in ASAP. My co-host for this shindig was the lovely Marget, Natalie’s sister and my sister-in-law. It seems like just last month we were planning Natalie’s bridal shower, so we work together like a well-oiled machine by now!
We knew family would be traveling in for the festivities, so we decided to make it a co-ed shower so everyone could attend. Marget had the idea to make it an adventure dinner party, and picked out the perfect corner of a Lower East side park, right on the water, as the location. Aside from the scenic views, there was easy road access just a few hundred yards away — always an important consideration when toting in chairs and tables!
We batted around a few aesthetic options, including red striped nautical and Liberty print, before settling on a perfect compromise — summer strawberry! We wanted something sweet and a little bit girly (they are expecting a girl!), but not too girly (it was a co-ed shower!). Here’s the invitation I designed:
Our first inclination was to rent chairs, tables, and linens, because we wanted to seat everyone at one long table. After calling around to many rental companies in Jersey City and Manhattan, we could not find a single one who would let us pick up our small order at their warehouse – and the lowest delivery fee was $250. This was a surprise to me, since my local rental company here in Raleigh will let me do this, but apparently it’s not that easy everywhere!
So, we regrouped and decided to buy slim Ikea stools (on Jordan’s suggestion) and folding tables from Target. We also purchased Ikea Tekla dish towels (perfect with the red stripe!) and planned to use white tablecloths I already had. Done and done!
Except that the day before the party, Marget decided to check the NYC Parks Department one more time to see if there was anything we missed. To our dismay, there was — the first time around, we had read that if you have fewer than 20 people in your party, you’re okay to have chairs and tables… but in the fine print, it said you had to have a permit — and you have to get permits 20+ days in advance! A quick call to a friend at the department confirmed that our park is patrolled frequently and they would definitely shut us down with no permit :( Agh! Several anxious texts later, we decided we would return the tables and instead group the stools around picnic blankets.
Friends, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. When we arrived on Saturday evening to set up, the park was packed, and I think we might have attracted more attention than we wanted had we been setting up tables. The only thing that would have been nice would have been to have one table to arrange the food on – it would have been a little easier to serve if it had been higher up!
Alright, enough details — on to the photos! As you can see, we had the most beautiful day. The weather was perfect!!
Our menu: mild and spicy fried chicken (picked up from Popeyes and plated in a pretty baking dish!); grilled corn salad in mini mason jars (loosely based on this recipe); good potato chips and ranch dip; a cheese platter with fruit; pasta salad with cantaloupe and feta; homemade brownies, strawberry tarts, and strawberry ice cream; and root beer, sparkling water, and strawberry lemonade to drink.
Since we had a group diverse in age where not everyone knew each other, we decided to make conversation squares to grease the wheels. They were focused on childhood and parents — appropriate for a shower, and topics everyone has experience with!
We sent guests off with cookie treat bags – everyone got a sugar cookie shaped like a strawberry (the Gianna’s brand at Whole Foods!) and either a black and white cookie (in honor of New York) or a chocolate chip cookie (because everyone loves them).
It was so good to spend time with some of my favorite people. Just T-one month until baby girl arrives! (Hopefully!) Can’t wait to meet our new niece!!
4 February 2015
Ten years ago last week, a boy named John Thomas called up a girl named Emily Ayer and blurted out, “So… I think I like you.” Around her nervous giggles, they set a first date – ice skating at the local rink. About halfway through, he pulled her over to the boards and asked if she wanted to go out with him… to which she replied, “I thought we already were!” (It was her first date ever, so we’ll forgive her confusion.)
Ten years plus one day, an interstate move, two cats, countless travels, a college graduation apiece, one engagement, one wedding, and one house later, John and Emily went ice skating again, this time outdoors in the crisp clear air and under the bright lights of downtown Raleigh.
I’ve already shared our full love story, so I won’t repeat it again here. But our relationship, aside from my relationship with God, has been the defining story of my life, and so our ten year dativersary deserves at least a small mention! As I wrote in an anniversary card to John, my life has been immeasurably richer, richer than I could ever have imagined, for having him in it, and that is something to celebrate.
This excerpt from Mere Christianity was read at our wedding. When I first came across this passage, soon after John and I started dating, I pretty much hated it. I thought it was unromantic, and untrue. Ten years on, I find it both terribly romantic, and more true every day. To me, it represents perhaps the best that one could hope for in a relationship: that you have a deeper love for each other with every passing year. That has been the case for us, and I am grateful.
30 January 2015
I checked off another item on my 60 Before 30 list!
Though I’ve had a few opportunities to try my hand at floral arranging, I never felt like I actually gained any skills I could put to use on my own. Thanks to the wonderful Kelly Perry, that’s no longer the case! I created the vase of happiness above with her super kind instruction, and best of all, I feel like I’ll be able to use her simple tips to create more arrangements in the future! If you ever get the chance to learn from Kelly, I’d jump on it.
Now to plant peonies, dahlias, garden roses, camellias, ranunculus, forsythia, etc. etc. etc. in my yard…