Friday, December 2, 2016

30.30.60 Party

As hard as it is for me to come to terms with, I turned 30 this summer. I'm not sure how that happened, since I'm pretty sure I was 23 just a few months ago, but it did. Because this milestone fell right after Adam's 30th, and right before my mother-in-law Jan's 60th, we decided this trifecta was occasion for a seriously big-time party.

With the help of our sweet planner, Beth from 36th Street Events, we selected the very cool and impeccably decorated South Congress Hotel for the venue. The hotel's vibe is in line with my style, and the event space itself was a totally blank indoor/outdoor slate. Every guest I spoke with was blown away by the in-house catering; from the selection of passed appetizers to the taco bar, raw bar, and the underdog favorite selection of salads, every bit of food was truly fine-dining quality. Along with the must-have open bar, we each had a signature cocktail, each of which was incredibly made by the bar team.

We worked with Loot Vintage Rentals to design custom soft seating areas throughout the space, complete with midcentury modern furniture, mixed pattern textiles, and vintage rugs (swoon!). I wanted to take literally everything home for my house. They also provided a gorgeous wood bar, beautiful hanging pieces like the picture below, and plenty of accessories. Most guests were shocked when I told them the furniture setups weren't a permanent part of the space.

The entertainment was a blast as the band, Blind Date, was absolutely perfect, covering a huge range of crowd-pleasing music from classic throwbacks to Beyonce. And of course, a Smilebooth never hurts, either. Having a joint party ended up being hugely fun, as it mixed all kinds of people together for one big celebration, and it was definitely one for the ages.

Dress: For Love & Lemons

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Cookie Butter Cheesecake Mousse

This just might be the best bang-for-your-buck dessert recipe I've ever made, in both money and effort spent. With just a handful of ingredients, no cooking or baking required, and less than 20 minutes total to assemble, you really can't beat it. Plus, it tastes like cookie butter, which inexplicably tastes like fall to me. These are great for entertaining too because you can make everything a few hours ahead of time and have it ready to go in the fridge. And to Trader Joe's, thank you for making such a magical product.

Cookie Butter Cheesecake Mousse
Makes 6-8 Servings

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup Trader Joe's Cookie Butter
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1/2 cup Biscoff cookies, or gingersnaps 
  • 1 T. butter, melted
  • Whipped cream and cinnamon for serving
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form.
  2. To the same bowl, add the cream cheese, cookie butter, and sugar and beat until smooth.
  3. Crumble cookies and mix with the melted butter, press mixture into bottom of shot glasses or serving vessel.
  4. Add mousse mixture to a large Ziploc bag, cut the corner off and pipe into glasses. 
  5. Top with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Bora Bora {Part Three}

In truth, this post has one purpose, and that is to share more of the thousands of photos sitting on my laptop needing to be seen. I've already posted about our incredible hotel, and some things to do while there, so let's just call this post "Sunrises and Sunsets". While exploring the island was fun, my favorite part of the entire trip was just watching the sky's endless array of colors from sun up to sun down, whether from the deck of our bungalow or from paddle boards and kayaks. Watching the horizon change from pretty pastels every morning to deep, rich jewel tones at sunset was so much prettier than any picture.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Bora Bora {Part Two}

After sharing our amazing experience at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, I wanted to share a bit about what to actually do around the remote island. I love all types of vacations, whether spent lazily on the beach or trying to see, eat, drink and do as much as possible; Bora Bora was definitely more the former. Much of our time was spent relaxing and enjoying the view and brilliant turquoise water, but we did punctuate our time with some fun activities booked through the hotel.

One day, we rented jet skis and set off with our guide on a circumferential trip around the entire island. We stopped to break coconuts and drink the fresh juice and see so many different views of the island, but just cruising through crystal clear water was the best part. Each day, the hotel staff fed sting rays so we could meet them and become besties. The hotel also provided kayaks and paddle boards, so we rented them one evening and watched the sun set over the bungalows and Mount Otemanu.

Another day, we went on a snorkeling tour which cruised by boat to three spots around the island, one each for seeing stingrays, sharks, and a rainbow reef. The tour also stopped at the most incredible lunch spot: a Polynesian home that grilled us an incredible feast, which we ate at the glorious picnic tables pictured above. The trip was an unforgettable mix of relaxation and a little adventure that I couldn't possibly begin to describe.

How cute is this tiny wedding chapel, on a secluded lagoon at the hotel.
Stingrays everywhere!
We got up close and personal with these guys.
How every day should end.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bora Bora {Part One}

It took an old friend from college calling the other day, asking for recommendations in French Polynesia, to prompt me to post some photos from our second anniversary trip to this stunning and magical place. Our trip took us to three islands: Bora Bora, Tahiti, and Moorea. Each of the islands were very different, and had their own pros and cons, which is a big part of what I wanted to share. Without question, the most special of the three was Bora Bora. The topography of the island is what makes it so incredible, with a central volcano surrounded by a lagoon and a circumferential string of small islands or motus (check it out). The best hotels sporting the signature overwater bungalows are located across the lagoon from the volcano on these small islands.

The Four Seasons is universally hailed as the place to stay, however, I'm here for making an argument for the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, which is located on the same stretch of land across the lagoon from the volcano. This location means it shares the same views, same water, and a wildly similar experience for much less coin, allowing you to spend more nights in the dreamy bungalows. The bungalows at the Intercontinental were stunning, with 360 degree turquoise lagoon views (ask for one with an unobscured volcano view), beautiful comfortable beds overlooking the water, and spacious personal decks. Without question, you must stay overwater for at least a portion of the trip. Personally, I didn't feel that a trip to French Polynesia would be worth the effort and expense without this experience.

The included breakfast buffet at the hotel was lovely, with everything from pastries and omelets to the freshest ahi sashimi you've ever tasted. We even splurged one morning and had breakfast delivered directly to our bungalow by boat, which was so much fun! The pool was insane. Like, next level beautiful. The picture of Adam reading in a poolside hammock below is one of my favorite travel photos. I can't say enough about the experience we had here; both Adam and I list it as the most beautiful place we've ever been. More to come on the rest of the trip!

Transportation from the tiny airport to the hotel is by boat! This was our only dodgy weather of the entire vacation.
Suit: Mara Hoffman (similar one here)
The spa boasts private, glass-bottomed treatment rooms where you can watch the fish swim below you while enjoying a massage.
The grounds of the hotel are immaculate, and each view seems prettier than the last.
Morning views from the foot of our bed.
Brunch spread of fresh smoothies, sashimi, and an Asian noodle stir fry.
A turquoise color so intense that it seems like a filter.
Breakfast delivery!