Dec 31, 2009

Making the Most of Your Wedding Photography

Wedding photography is an art - the art of capturing the silhouette your bodies make in a warm first dance embrace, but also your hands shaking and your heart pounding when he offers his hand-written vows about love everlasting. A great photographer should be unobtrusive, and let the day's events unfold like a lotus blossom on a warm summer day. Here are my favorite wedding photos - found on Pinterest that capture a magical moment in time when two hearts became one.


Dec 22, 2009

1000 Origami Cranes

A young woman patiently folding 1,000 origami cranes before her wedding day is taking part in an ancient Japanese wedding tradition called sembazuru. The person who invests the time and energy into a thousand hand-folded origami cranes is believed to be granted one wish by the Gods. What should it be - long life, six figure salary, a leading actress Academy Award? The crane is thought to be a holy creature, one that lives for one thousand years. That's why 1,000 paper cranes are made, one for each year. They are also believed to mate for life. Just like humans, longing to find a lifetime of happiness with the one we love best.

Dec 9, 2009

Bridal Shower Trifle Recipes

Is there anyone from Los Angeles to Little Rock who doesn't love the look and taste of homemade trifle? Who needs a store-bought cake when, with a little layering know-how you can take frozen pound cake, instant pudding, fresh fruit and Cool Whip, and make something sweet and sensational. Sugar free instant pudding and reduced fat whipped topping will make this a more low calorie dessert. A beautiful glass trifle bowl will be the smartest and cheapest investment in entertaining you ever make! Easy and quick, these delicious trifle recipes look as great as they taste and will easily serve 16 to 20 of your well-loved female family and friends.

Delicious Pumpkin Trifle

  • 1 package (14-1/2 ounces) gingerbread cake mix
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups cold fat-free milk
  • 4 packages (1 ounce each) instant butterscotch pudding mix
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger, nutmeg and allspice
  • 1 carton (12 ounces) whipped topping, thawed
In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, water and egg, beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Pour into an ungreased 8-in. square baking pan. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. When completely cooled, crumble the cake. Set aside 1/4 cup crumbs for garnish. In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mixes for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Stir in pumpkin and spices until well blended in a trifle bowl or 3-1/2-qt. glass serving bowl, layer a fourth of the cake crumbs, half of the pumpkin mixture, a fourth of the cake crumbs and half of the whipped topping. Repeat layers. Garnish with reserved cake crumbs. Refrigerate. 

Heavenly Fruit Trifle

  • 1 angel food cake
  • 2 containers of raspberry yogurt (6 or 8 ounce)
  • 8 oz. container of Cool Whip
  • 6 oz. can of sliced peaches in juice (not heavy syrup)
  • sliced fruit - strawberries, kiwi, peaches and blueberries in middle and on top
Cut angel food cake into 1-inch pieces. Reserve a couple slices of the peaches, and dice the rest. Combine the diced peaches, cool whip and yogurt in medium bowl. In a trifle bowl (or bowl that has a flat bottom), put one layer of the angel food cake down, then layer about 1/3 of the yogurt/cool whip/peach mixture, slightly pressing down on the angel food cake. Repeat: layer of angel food cake and yogurt mixture. Then put a layer of fruit - sliced strawberries and/or kiwis. Then layer with angel food cake followed by the remaining yogurt mixture. Decorate the top with sliced fruit, including the sliced peaches you saved. Refrigerate for a couple hours - it is best when it's had time to set.

Cappuccino Mousse Trifle

  • 2-1/2 cups cold milk
  • 1/3 cup instant coffee granules
  • 2 packages (3.4 ounces each) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 carton (16 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided
  • 2 loaves (10-3/4 ounces each) frozen pound cake, thawed and cubed
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a large bowl, stir milk and coffee granules until dissolved; remove 1 cup and set aside. Add pudding mixes to the remaining milk mixture; beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Fold in half of the whipped topping. Place a third of the cake cubes in a 4-qt. serving or trifle bowl. Layer with a third of the reserved milk mixture and pudding mixture and a fourth of the grated chocolate. Repeat layers twice. Garnish with remaining whipped topping and chocolate. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

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Dec 3, 2009

Homemade Fortune Cookie Favors

Fortune cookie wedding favors - how seriously do we take these popular words of wealth and wisdom? Approximately 3 billion fortune cookies are made each year, and the vast majority of them ready to be served at your favorite Chinese restaurant here in the United States. Americans love good news, especially if it sounds like “You will inherit a large sum of money.” And how about the one that would have come in handy during my teenaged years, "Reach for the high apples (boys) first you can get the low ones any time." You may not believe the magic in these lovely little messages but I've never seen one left unopened. Here's a helpful tutorial on how to make your own fortune cookies.

Fortune Cookie Messages

A warm smile is testimony of a generous nature.

A secret admirer will soon send you a sign of affection.

Love asks me no questions, and gives me endless support. Shakespeare

In the end there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.

Love is for the lucky and the brave.

If you continually give, you will continually have.

If you would be loved, love and be lovable.

The one you love is closer than you think.

Love always and deeply.

Your heart will always make itself known through your words.

Love begets love.

Nov 23, 2009

Christmas Wedding Centerpiece Ideas

Christmas wedding centerpieces - they can be everything from flaming red potted poinsettias to a silver bowl full of shiny red Christmas ornaments. And if it's ornaments you're after - there's a treasure trove of solid color bulbs at your local dollar store. Many elements of making holiday centerpieces are relatively inexpensive - cranberries, candles, nuts, greenery and pine cones. Here are some inspired Christmas centerpiece ideas to make your holiday reception festive, fun and full of joy!

floating candle centerpieces 
red Christmas centerpiece 
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Nov 15, 2009

Mother and Daughter Poem

The perfect Mother and Daughter poem. When my one and only Jessica was soon to be married, her sweet younger sister had a wonderful idea. She sought out favorite female friends and relatives to assemble a keepsake of favorite poems, blessings, recipes, advice - everything wise women say to one another at the prospect of marriage and motherhood. Danielle carefully gathered together these thoughtful messages and greetings, including this mother and daughter poem from me, in a beautifully decorated binder and presented it to the grateful bride, her very best friend.


Sometimes I look at her, and she will
remind me of someone familiar.
Sometimes I’m upset with her,
because she is not enough like me,
then other times I fear she is.
Sometimes I watch her hands,
do things women do and I think
everything is moving too fast.
Sometimes I have a fierce urge
to hold her in my arms,
and try to hold back the future.
Sometimes when I look at her, she takes
my breath away because she is so pretty.
Sometimes I want to cry for this
girl-woman child of mine,
for what might be ahead of her.
Sometimes I’m afraid,
because as she grows I seem
to get smaller, as if her beginning
means my end.
Sometimes I ache for the child she
once was, and other times,
I can’t wait for the woman
she will be…
My Daughter

This lovely poem was penned by Christina Keenan

Oct 31, 2009

Guests That Don’t RSVP

All I can say from one woman to another...please don't get discouraged.  It's impossible to know why everyone who has known you and really loved you, won't put a stamped, self addressed RSVP card in the mail as soon as they learn all of their wisdom teeth have to come out (or some other reason) on the most important day of your life. Some may not want to disappoint you, but the real disappointment comes in not knowing. Not knowing how many servings of Virginia Baked Ham you'll need. Not knowing how much booze to buy. It's going to happen, and you're left wondering why the girl who was your soul mate through soccer, sleepovers and several broken hearts, doesn't appear to be moving heaven and earth to be by your side. No doubt you'll end up tracking people down by phone or text. Stay fresh and focused, it happens to every bride.


Oct 17, 2009

Brownie Pop Wedding Favors

Brownie cake pops - these are made from chocolate cake mix, although any other flavor would work well too. Bake cake as directed and cool. Using your hands, crumble the cake into uniform crumbs. Use just enough buttercream icing to roll each one into a ball, and place in the refrigerator or freezer to harden. A little bit of melted chocolate with help you insert a lollipop stick into each ball, and then refrigerate again to make sure the stick is secure. Dip the cake or brownie pops in melted chocolate, slightly tapping off the excess and place on parchment paper to dry.

how to make brownie pops
chocolate brownie pops
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Oct 16, 2009

Thank You Messages For Your Wedding Program

I'm so thankful for everyone who made the drive from my hometown of Long Beach over the large Vincent Thomas Bridge that crosses Los Angeles Harbor and into San Pedro for the day of my dreams. Phil and I could have been married at the local church instead of falling in love with Holy Trinity Catholic Church so far away. The trip was made by family and well-loved friends who saw us exchange our hand-written vows in this quaint city by the sea, home to the largest Italian-American community in Southern California.

May God bless each and every one of you for sharing this joyful day with us. Your prayers and support have made this a celebration of love that we will cherish forever.

Being a witness to the first day of our lives together, you have all filled our hearts with joy and gratitude. We are honored that many of you have traveled a great distance to be with us today and thank you for your many blessings.

Today we express our love and devotion in the presence of God, our parents, our brothers and sisters, family and friends. Each anniversary of our marriage, we will celebrate the memory of this day, becoming husband and wife among those we love so dearly.

Bless you for honoring us on our wedding day. May God enrich your lives, and provide those who have traveled far, a safe and happy journey home.

Thank you for many happy memories made today, that was so full of joy because of you. Our gratitude is boundless.

Sep 1, 2009

Pinecone Wedding Centerpieces

Pinecone wedding centerpieces.   Much more rustic and romantic in their natural state - or painted and dipped in green, red and/or gold glitter? I'll take them both ways, and it's lucky I will since so many since fall have found a happy home everywhere - buried inside my beautiful azalea bushes, inside rain old barrels and on the dented hood of my Mazda Protégé. If you already have fragrant, sage growing in your new spring garden (boosting your brain power with this nutritious and sweet smelling Mediterranean herb), think how fresh and lovely this sage and pinecone centerpiece will look at your rustic inspired wedding reception.

sage and pinecone centerpiece

Christmas pinecone centerpiece 
Mason jar centerpiece with pinecones
Christmas ornament centerpiece
fall wedding centerpiece
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Aug 19, 2009

Vintage Inspired Corsets

Vintage style corsets - sexy, sassy and fun. Imagine leaning over your brass four-poster bed back in the late 1880s while your muscular mother/sister/friend dutifully presses her right foot squarely against your backside, cinches your already slim twenty six inch waist into a dainty, diminutive 18 inches. Besides making you look much thinner, your breasts went from flat to flashy and your diaphragm was so compressed, you were so short of air, you were forced to push away from your second helping of buttery croissants with white chocolate buttercream and raspberry marmalade. Victorian style corsets are now more divine than difficult (although they still get the job done), including this beautiful black overbust corset I found online today.

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Jul 28, 2009

Vintage Handkerchief Ring Bearer Pillows

Vintage handkerchief ring bearer pillows - an instant family heirloom courtesy of Martha Stewart. According to legend, vintage hankies in our country were designed in the 1940s to help women cope with the loneliness when husbands and lovers went off to fight in World War II. And all this time I thought hard working women and girls were too busy holding down full-time construction jobs and working in munitions factories to even know the men were gone. Vintage floral handkerchiefs have now become highly prized collectibles. The small square of hand-embroidered cotton that sold for less than fifty cents in the 1950s is now valued at $15 or more.

  • For a square handkerchief (10 inches), you'll need a square pillow just big enough for the handkerchief's corners to slightly overlap at the center (the one above is six inches).
  • Place the pillow on the wrong side of the linen as shown; fold the corners in, overlapping them. Hand-sew the middle of a satin ribbon to pillow center, sewing through the linen's corners and pillow; use two or three stitches (when ready to remove linen, cut the thread).

Jul 20, 2009

Sunflower Seed Favors

Today I found a very helpful tutorial on how to make sunflower themed favors. So easy if you have the Silhouette software to get the job done quickly. These vintage style labels look lovely attached to rustic brown burlap bags. If you choose paper to hold your seeds instead, check out another easy guide on DIY seed packet wedding favors. Sunflowers bloom the brightest in the middle of the hot summer, so the seeds make a great wedding favor for early spring. My own daughter Danielle wanted a wedding with a sunflower theme. A few months after the hugs and handshakes were over, our good friends Bob and Susan showed us the six-foot sunflowers grown from the wedding favors we offered that unforgettable April wedding day.

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Jul 9, 2009

Choosing the Right Wedding Dress and Accessories

Be flashy not trashy!  In their book “Anti-Bride Etiquette Guide,” Carolyn Gerin and Kathleen Hughes list The Ten Commandments Of Bridal Attire. These are amazingly simple tips but worth passing along:

Know thyself and the dress will follow. Know your shape, your height, and your coloring, and have some idea of silhouettes that suit you.

Not every runway trend is a “real way” trend. Choose your clothes with thoughtfulness and discretion, and then not thinking another moment about them.

You should be wearing the garment—it should not be wearing you. Pinching shoes, a tight bodice, a scratchy crinoline, or a constricting corset will make you a cranky bride.

Aim for private comforts. Silk undies, a cotton-lined bodice, shoes you can dance in, a dress that doesn’t feel like a heavy suit of armor.

Cleavage is one thing, but Baywatch is another. Be flashy but not trashy.

Go light on the makeup. Know how much makeup you’re comfortable wearing and don’t run the risk of looking embalmed.

Too many looks (or too much of one look) spoil the look. Instead of going head-to-toe vintage, build your look around one or two points such as shoes, necklace or beaded bodice.

Match your dress to your surroundings. A floor-length $20,000 Vera Wang at your nuptials in your parents’ backyard would be inappropriate.

White’s all right. Even if it’s an encore marriage or you’re over forty, white is fine, but avoid wearing a veil, traditionally reserved for younger brides.

Despite all the dos and don’ts, have some guts. We say, wear a monster tiara if you dare.

Jul 8, 2009

Ocean Theme Wedding Favors

Ocean themed wedding favors like these are sweet and simple, free of unnecessary paper and plastic, things that leave a heavy footprint on our beautiful green planet. Small soy wax candles, housed in 1.5 inch scallop sea shells, that will burn for about one hour, would be perfect for your beach themed wedding. These eco-friendly candles come in quite a variety of soothing scents and fragrances: Cinnamon & Apple, Coffee Mocha, Vanilla, Lavender, Rose, Green Apple, Lilac, Sandalwood, Zesty Orange, and Sparkling Lemon. A set of 36 will cost you $26.00 plus about ten dollars shipping from Lithuania.

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Jun 30, 2009

Edible Fruit Bouquets

Edible fruit bouquets - a sweet and budget-friendly centerpiece idea for your spring or summer bridal shower. Fresh (not canned) pineapple slices can be turned into delicious yellow daisies with the help of a simple flower cookie cutter. Small hearts and stars look lovely too. Green grapes and blueberries make charming stems for your "bouquet" of spring flowers and chocolate dipped strawberries make your fresh fruit centerpiece look elegant and expensive. Dip apple slices in lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

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Jun 29, 2009

Homemade Bath Salts & Soaks

After a stressful day of wedding planning, why not soak in some homemade bath salts made from natural ingredients (cinnamon, oatmeal, baking soda and powdered milk) found in your own kitchen pantry? A tub full of hot water with a cup or two of Epsom Salts is known for relaxing muscles and drawing toxins from the body. The reason? They are made of the mineral magnesium sulfate - a sedative for the nervous system. When magnesium sulfate is absorbed through the skin, it reduces swelling, relaxes muscles, is a natural emollient and exfoliator. And unlike everything else you and I buy in pretty little packages to soothe our skin, you can pick up a four pound bag of Epsom Salt for less than three dollars at your neighborhood Walmart.

Before mixing the recipes, make sure that any herbs or oatmeal added are first ground finely (use a food processor if possible).

Mix the ingredients well, store in airtight plastic containers or sterilized jars (such as mason jars or pretty jam jars). Shake the jar well before using. Add anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup to your bath and enjoy!

Cinnamon Soak

1 cup powdered milk
1 cup baking soda
3 TBS cornstarch
2 TBS cream of tartar
1 1/2 TBS cinnamon

Soothing Bath Soak

4 cups Epsom salts
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup sea salt
2 TBS dried herbs (finely ground)

Oatmeal and Cinnamon Milk Soak

1 1/2 cups powdered milk
3/4 cup baking soda
3/4 cup oatmeal (finely grind it first)
3 TBS cornstarch
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp cinnamon

Herbal Salts

1 1/2 cups Epsom salts
3/4 cup baking soda
3/4 cup dried herbs (finely ground)

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Jun 24, 2009

Gourmet Cookie Wedding Favors

Gourmet cookie favors with your name and his. I love the rustic (undecorated) simplicity of these heart shaped cookies, made with a heavy duty plastic cookie cutter, yours for $25 plus shipping. Sounds like a lot? With this little plastic heart (that makes an attractive three inch cookie) and your favorite cut-out cookie recipe, you can turn out 100 cookies and freeze them up to three months in advance. Compare that to pre-packaged wedding cookies sold online at five to six dollars each, loaded with preservatives. A sweet, personalized cutter you can use every Valentine's Day, anniversary or "just because."

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Jun 17, 2009

Homemade Sugar Scrub Recipes

Homemade sugar scrub recipes - using many wholesome ingredients (no chemicals!) that you already have at home in your pantry. Honey, olive oil, yogurt, coffee, vanilla extract, brown sugar and tea. Brown sugar is much softer than white and will be more gentle on your face and/or sensitive skin. Mix your ingredients and store in a small airtight Mason jar. For smooth, hydrated, baby-soft skin, gently rub one of these easy sugar scrubs all over your body and bottoms of your feet to exfoliate and remove dead skin. Rinse well and replenish with your favorite moisturizer.

brown sugar scrub

Brown Sugar Scrub

1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of almond oil
1/4 cup of liquid Ivory hand soap
1/4 tsp of vanilla

Lemon Sugar Scrub

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 T lemon zest (grated)

Tea Sugar Scrub

2 cups white sugar
1 cup honey
2 TBS tea
5 drops vanilla

Yogurt Sugar Scrub

3 T baby oil
1 T yogurt
1 T white sugar

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Jun 6, 2009

Fall Cookie Favors

These charming fall themed cookies are courtesy of Sweet Sugar Belle, and if you've never been there before, you will find a treasure trove of easy to follow cookie baking and decorating tutorials. It proves once again that you don't have to buy from an overpriced bakery for professional looking sweets. These mini pumpkin cookies - a little over two inches long - are made with a simple 4 inch round cutter and cut into small wedges. Wrap each decorated cookie in a crisp cellophane bag and tie with a beautiful rust organza bow - a thoughtful fall themed wedding favor for well-loved family and friends.

pumpkin pie cookies

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May 28, 2009

Red Flower Girl Dresses

I wish I could find the source for this sweet little pair in their lovely red silk flower girl dresses. The maker of these ball gown dresses with over sized sashes and small ruffled cap sleeves remains unknown to me. Maybe a well-loved aunt donated her sewing time and talent to make these little flower girls look so gorgeous. As if these two didn't look enchanting enough, a small hand-tied bouquet of red silk gerbera daisies and soft white ballet shoes makes me (once again) regret I didn't dress up my nearly six-year-old niece and give her a special place in my wedding that sunny December day so many years ago.

May 26, 2009

Royal Blue Wedding Ideas

Royal blue wedding ideas - these are all my favorites. I love this bold and beautiful color all by itself. What other colors pair well with royal blue? Look at all the stunning possibilities you have to choose from: royal blue and silver, gold, yellow, purple or white. The color blue is said to have a calming effect on mind, body and soul. Exactly what this nervous bride needed on that December day so long ago. Wedding planning can make you and those close to you - worried and worn out. Celebrate this unforgettable day with the bright royal blue color that makes everyone feel relaxed and refreshed.
Elegant royal blue and gold place setting.
Royal blue and silver wedding cake with mini calla lilies.