SLUMBER PARTY!

IMG_1278Childhood slumber parties were pure magic. It was the freedom of being together after the adult world had fallen asleep. It was in the thrill of the ghost stories, the unchecked amount of sugar in our candy stashes. Growing up doesn’t mean that slumber parties should be a thing of the past. In fact, we need them more than ever! Between our careers and growing families, there’s an ever-increasing need for quality time with friends and pampering.

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Whatever sense of wonder that’s missing from adult sleepovers, we make up for in luxury! Forget sleeping bags on the floor. We loaded down our sofa bed with linens and pillows.

Instead of frozen pizza, we opted for pan-seared sesame salmon, homemade pesto on spaghetti squash and new potatoes, and a summer salad with peaches and feta.

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Our movie popcorn was dusted with truffle salt we brought home from an unforgettable trip to Monaco.

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We had fun doing a 60s-style slumber party photoshoot – pure camp!

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We watched movies, then capped it off doing what girls do best at slumber parties.  We talked! Until the wee hours of the morning, we dished about boys, our careers, movie stars, and everything in between. Even if the giggles were fueled by my spiked watermelon & mint slushies, we still laughed all night. Just like old times.

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Backyard Pop-Up Wedding!

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A sweet chalkboard message and carport strung with white curains serves as a warm welcome.

Attorneys Marcus Lange and Zawadi Brown were already engaged, but when a San Francisco law firm offered Marcus a dream job, he and his fiancée decided to start this new venture as man and wife.

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the happy couple

We had two weeks to pull off one of the happiest days of their lives, and it was a success!

Sans Fancy Venue!

Everyone knows that a wedding date is at the mercy of the wedding venue. Since official venues were out, we chose our backyard! Since it’s the East Coast, we got a spacious white tent in case of rain.

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Sans Caterers!

Instead of locking down official caterers, the couple cherry-picked their favorite foods, and dishes that highlighted their heritage. The groom is German, which meant schnitzel and sauerkraut potato balls. The bride is from Trinidad with a Rastafarian and vegetarian family, which meant a mix of vegetable patties, jerk chicken and plantains. They also offered one of their favorite dishes: mutton biryani from India.  Guests are still raving about the All-Around-the-World menu!

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Sans Bakery Cake!

Instead of trying to score a last-minute wedding cake from a bakery, they called on food artist Carol Brown, known for her impeccable baking at Dixie Donuts and beyond. She outdid herself, with a homemade red velvet cake, chocolate brownies and a classic pound cake. For good measure, Marcus and Zawadi provided chocolate-covered strawberries as well.

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Sans Decorators!

Rather than hiring a decorator, Zawadi and friends, (including myself) created hand-made decorations in various shades of purple, the wedding color. Silver was the accent color. Billowy tissue paper balls were strung about, wisteria hung from the railings and the ceremony took place under a tree that was positively dripping with colored ribbons and strands of crystals. When the wind blew, it was ethereal.

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Sans Florist!

The couple skipped major florist fees by marrying outdoors, as our yard has a peach tree, fig free, Concord grape vines, a weeping cherry, daisies, hydrangea bushes and more. In fact, every flower from the purple hydrangea was snipped and placed on every table. Adding to the rustic theme were mason jars filled with sand and lit candles, lanterns hung from the trees and burlap runners featured ladylike polka dots.

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The ceremony was short, sweet and personalized with the couple’s own vows.

Sans Bartender!

Rather than hiring a bartender, the couple offered a conveniently pre-mixed signature drink, the Trinimeister. Combining both their heritages, it was a mix of Jaegermeister, coconut rum, pineapple juice and Sprite, which fit right in with the summer day. Beer and wine were also available, though as the party went on, more and more bottles of liquor filled the bar.
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Who needs a wedding planner when you have friends?

It was a day with zero humidity, sunshine and a cool breeze. It may well have been the prettiest day of summer. Mr. and Mrs. Lange were surrounded by love, with friends and family who all rallied together to make this day unforgettable.

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Bree Hall (pictured right) was a force during the wedding planning.

We wish Mr. and Mrs. Lange the best of luck with their new adventure in San Francisco!

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Hydrangeas popped on every table, and wedding toasts made guests laugh and cry.
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Silver accents complimented the purple and white decor.

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Gift bags were filled with homemade air freshener spray (created by the bride’s brother) and German beer.
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The couple’s friend Mark is also a taleted musician, who performed a warm, personal tribute.
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happy to open our home

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Build Your Own Taco Bar!

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Dixie Donuts food artist Carol Brown and her son Acie

The late, great Nora Ephron once said that people love to play with their food. That might explain my obsession with Korean BBQ.

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I had friends coming to dinner with their three boys in tow. As a kid, it can be a bore being dragged to adult dinner parties. So I took a cue from the Nora Ephron playbook and decided we would play with our food. I created a Build Your Own Taco Bar!

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It was a weeknight, so the dinner needn’t be fussy. The mother and children are vegetarian, so I served alternative proteins and and kicked the veggies up a notch with chipotle-spiced eggplant and Southwestern-style summer squash. I laid all the toppings out, and we had a great time building unique tacos – no two were the same!

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This greeting lets the kids know it’s not all about the grown-ups!
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The drinks let grown-ups know it’s not all about the kids!
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I get to rock my fabulous Mexican folk art runners!
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For extra long tables, be sure to place fixings to both ends of the table. Less passing, more eating!

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A sweet end to the meal: Carol’s homemade pound cake

 

 

Top Five Ways to Spring into Spring!

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My son and I, soaking up spring in the South of France

Finally! Those deadly icicles have dropped from the roof. They stabbed the dirt. They fed the roots and bulbs biding their time below. Without the bleakness of winter, one cannot fully enjoy the excitement of spring. It’s more than the burst of colors pushing through the brown. It’s the promise of things to come; a summer filled with barbecues, beach outings, and the smell of coconut sun lotion.

Too many people are content to admire the warming weather from office windows. That will not do. Here are the top five things to help you spring into spring!

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weeping cherry tree

1) Buy a flowering tree or shrub, and plant it in the yard.

Studies have shown that when people literally get into the soil, they don’t just feel more in synch with the outdoors, but are happier and live longer. Year after year, this plant will be the first to bloom in April, a beautiful congratulations for surviving winter.

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The biggest challenge with a hammock is staying awake

2) Buy a hammock!

You don’t need two perfectly-spaced trees, or even a yard! Hammocks can be sold with a stand, and can even fit on balconies. The best part? A hammock forces you to look where you usually don’t: UP. You’ll slow down and notice the blue jays, passing clouds and gorgeous sunsets.

3) Make a fresh batch of sweet tea or lemonade.

Never underestimate the power of taste buds. A refreshing, warm-weather drink can transform your mood and offer something a little more interesting than ice water.

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I uncovered this mysterious gem while hiking the woods along the James River in Richmond, VA

4) Get moving!

Whether it’s a volleyball game or a hike along the river, enjoy the cool air before summer ushers in humidity or scorching heat. Not only will you feel great toning up your winter body, but you can work on your tan as well!

5) Do a mini-makeover in your home!

I would suggest spring cleaning, but cleaning is so awful! Instead, lighten up your home. Replace heavy draperies with sheer ones, lighten your bedding, switch out your jewel-toned throw pillows with pastel ones, which look great with a geometric pattern. If you have a backyard sitting area or balcony, spruce it up so it’s ready for last-minute company or a solo glass of wine.

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The Boathouse in RVA knows how to deck out their outdoor seating area!

Happy spring!