This is Abby + Danny

Extraordinary circumstances brought Abby and Danny to each other, and they have experienced nothing but extraordinary circumstances ever since.  A courtship and romance that swept not only them, but their friends and family off their feet, a seamless blending of extended families and a wedding day that boasted a pink super moon and defied the looming threat of mother nature!

This is 4 minutes of unabashed love and gratitude from Abby and Danny to each other and their treasured family and friends.

This, my friends, is Abby + Danny.

 

Video Credit: Jeffrey Stoner Video

Wedding Dress Mementos: Lisa Stoner Interviewed by Patchwork Bear

I was just tickled when I saw a familiar name come across by inbox recently wondering if I wouldn't mind sharing thoughts about wedding planning, some tips on how to keep it personal and some fun ways to use the wedding dress AFTER the wedding as a legacy or keepsake.

Jennifer Cura and I went to school together in New York a *few years ago. It's been great to follow our lives both professionally and personally, {we both had our oldest daughter complete their first year of college this year!} and I am so proud of what she has done with her company, Patchwork Bear.

The Patchwork bear was founded by Jennifer Cura in 2004 after combining her skill as an architect with her love of sewing to produce a product line of handmade products that are unique and personal as those who won them.  Her line has grown from a simple baby quilt and matching bear to include: tooth fairy pillows, photo memory quilts, custom bears and full nursery design.

I mean if  my virtual best friends Jessica Alba and Jennifer Garner are fans ... *wink!


Now is the time for all of my most recent Spring Brides to take advantage of her June special so you can fashion your gown into a legacy!

The Q & A:

June is one of the most popular months to get married so this month we are highlighting weddings and our wedding dress quilts and bears. Recently we sat down with one of our favorite wedding planners, Lisa Stoner of E Events by Lisa Stoner and asked her to dish some advice for brides. Lisa, a native New Yorker, is a sought after event stylist who has been featured in BRIDES, The Knot and more.

1. What is the #1 piece of advice you give all brides?

To plan and design with a strong sense of self and family.  The most memorable weddings are the authentic weddings. If it reflects the couple and the families’ style and sensibilities, it all makes great sense in the end.  If it all properly tells your story, then you’ve made it perfect.

2. What is the first thing brides should tackle during the planning process?

At the risk of sounding cliché, I have to say hiring a wedding planner. Planners can leverage their network of resources to best serve the couple as well as narrow down the search for the perfect venue, photographer, floral designer, etc.  Our knowledge and experience with all variables that go along with the planning and designing process can also garner concessions on our clients’ behalf.

3. What are some of your favorite ways to make a wedding unique?

As much as I love a tastefully designed wedding environment, I always emphasize the power of “gestures” during the wedding weekend. Floral centerpieces and great lighting will make any space look great, but it’s how you make your guests feel at the end of your wedding weekend or evening that makes a lasting impressions.  It’s how you take care of them as a host and hostess at the biggest party of your life that counts!

4. What are some easy ways to personalize a wedding?

Is there a favorite recipe of Grandma’s that you love? Share it with your catering team to have it emulated. If your parents still have their toasting glasses from their wedding, consider using them. What is yours and your fiancé’s favorite indulgent food? Roll that out in the last hour of your reception when the party is really in full force! I’ve had pizza delivery on the dance floor and, as they say, the crowd went wild! *wink

5. Are there any details that brides often overlook?

Brides are busier than ever these days, advancing their careers and nurturing their relationship with their fiancé. I think that once they secure the essentials like the venue, photographer, floral, music, etc. they forget some fun and important details like lighting, wedding stationery [ceremony programs, escort cards, menu cards] a fun getaway, and though not the glamorous part of planning, but what does post-event look like? Who takes the gifts, cards, personal effects such as a cake server set, champagne glasses, any framed photos? Not to worry, we cover this with our clients 30 days before the wedding in our final details meeting!

Image Courtesy of Liga Photography

Image Courtesy of Liga Photography

 

6. Do you have a favorite current wedding trend?

I try to be very careful and selective with the word “trend” when applying it to a wedding.  Certainly, we all try to be “on trend” in various aspects of our lives such as fashion, home design and even with food. My approach to planning and design is the use of some modern trends to a classic wedding elements. That being said, I adore whimsical drink stirrers, charging stations, and the use of hashtags to “brand” your wedding. Social media is the new branding platform for personal, business and weddings!

7. What are some fun ways you can use your wedding dress after the big day?

 Well, Patchwork Bear clearly creates these incredible keepsakes that make for the perfect legacy. I have also seen my couples use the dress for a bassinet lining, Christening dress, or fabric for a Chuppah for weddings that follow in the family.  I have also displayed a mother of the bride’s dress on a classic dress form at a client’s wedding, along with accompanying photos on a nearby table.  This had guests favorably talking!

Image Courtesy of KT Merry

Image Courtesy of KT Merry

 

Don’t forget to order your wedding dress quilt, bear or christening gown this month with code WEDDINGS to get 20% off. For more great tips from Lisa check out her blog here.

 

And for a fun flash back [to really see how far we've come!] have a looksey here.  Please don't kill me Jen!

Albertus Magnus High School Graduation, circa 1987.


Amanda + Scott: Sarasota Beach Wedding {Sneak Peek!}

I don't think I have ever smiled more while browsing a gallery of wedding mages!

Are the images flawless? {shot on film, mind you}

ABSOLUTELY.

But, there is so much more to the pristine quality of this fine art photography.  These are moments.  Pure, authentic and timeless moments that were in abundance this entire wedding weekend.

I had to start by posting a sneak peek for you for a few reasons.  To wet your whistle, of course {'wink!} to keep browsing and smiling through Each. And. Every. Image, and truth be told, wipe away some happy tears!

 

This is Amanda.  I. MEAN ... 

Her bouquet made by Ian Prosser, owner of Botanica International Design Studio was everything. {Amanda squealed. Me too!}

Now you know I love a good reveal! Could her bridesmaids be any sweeter? {or excited?!}

Chuppah!

Amanda always dreamed of a beach wedding.  Dreams really do come true!

From beach to ballroom, we still had to bring the outdoors in,  This floating centerpiece did just the trick!

Theres is no question that Amanda set the tone for this impeccable wedding.  Her demeanor, smile and laughter were contagious, and there was nothing the rest of us could do about it, except to submit and go along on this deliriously splendid ride!

And I'll raise my glass to that!

xx, LS

Fun Facts:

Venue: The Ritz Carlton, Sarasota

Dress: BHLDN

Floral Design: Botanica International Design Studio | Ian Prosser Productions

Photography and Video: Flora and Fauna | Love Flora and Fauna

Hair and Makeup: Ana Molinari Salon

Drape: Swag Décor

Linen: Over the Top Linen

Wedding Moments: A Classic Wedding Send-Off

Classic!

Remember the days of yesteryear when the bride would slip away from the dinner and dancing towards the end of the wedding reception to change into her getaway outfit, which was presumably for her to jet off on her honeymoon?

Why on earth did we get away from that? If you can't guess, I;m all in favor of another outfit. [SHOCKER]

The newly wed, Mrs. Daniela Ackerman opted for a sweet lace mini dress with a navy liner to bid farewell to her adoring guests.

These moments were priceless and whimsical with an environmentally friendly confetti toss, Ecofetti, and captured at the precisely perfect moment by {another newlywed!} Abby DiDomenico with Liga Photography

Cheers!

xx, LS

 

REAL WEDDINGS: ERICA AND SHAWN AT THE RITZ CARLTON ORLANDO, GRANDE LAKES, TAKE 2!

I've been looking forward to sharing just a fraction of the beautiful imagery from Root Photography for Erica and Shawn's wedding for some time now.

I mentioned it's been bittersweet to cull images and reminisce, but I've put on my big girl stilettos, and have decided that  I am all the better for having two incredible opportunities to work with such a loving and supportive family. They can't get rid of me just quite yet!

Perhaps I'll start with the end.  This is my favorite image, and certainly not because it's the best photo I've ever posed for, but because it was one of the last songs of the evening, and the Landis/Landau/Sickel ladies pulled me aside for this moment.  This was 3 + years in the making and I loved every meeting, every phone call, every text and email.

Nothing but love.

I know, I know, you've stopped by to look at the "pretty."  Well, I've got pretty for you, alright!

Let's start with Erica's dress by Kenneth Pool: I was at Solutions Bridal when we had Kate, {mom} Vicky {Sister} and a slew of fun bridesmaids.  We all agreed Erica could have worn wear a burlap sack and still look smashing, nit when she stepped out in this??  Let's just say tears were shed. I wasn't alone! *wink

From dress, to veil to the delivery of her delicate, lush bouquet, the pretty just kept coming. Kinda' like a one-two "style punch!"

I love these sisters.

Grooms look dapper, and have fun while getting ready too! At least Shawn did!

Bride+Getting Ready+Lisa Stoner+E Events Design+Root Photography.jpg

When designing a wedding in a larger hotel, I always like to claim my space and carve my niche on our designated side.  I think we let everyone know that this area was especially for Erica, Shawn, their families and treasured wedding guests with the application of this dramatic and elegant draping by Swag Décor.  Below, is the entrance to the foyer that led guests to the ceremony and reception spaces.

Ceremony time!  THAT CHUPPAH!  How many ribbons?? I couldn't even guess!

Proud parents.  This makes me so happy!

Just married, and just breathtaking.

On to the reception!  Guests enjoyed finding their ombré hues escort cards on this custom built display.

Reception details for the win!

Party, party, party!  And wedding streamers for life!

Love was certainly in the air! Clint Wiley and his lead female vocalist are now getting married!

Erica had so many girlfriends at the wedding she had hoped would catch the bouquet.  I didn't have the heart to just have one "win," so we made twelve! We had happy and surprised girls just after this award-winning toss!

Finally, a sweet and signature send off for guests as they made their way back to their guest rooms and/or valet. Dunkin Donuts!  Kate is a legendary, life-long and loyal patron!

I hope you had as much fun being a virtual guest at Erica and Shawn's wedding, as I did reminiscing, love bugs!

xx, LS

Fun Facts:

Bridal Gown, Mother of the Bride and Bridesmaids Gowns: Solutions Bridal

Venue: The Ritz Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes

Photography: Root Photography | Nathan and Jensey Root

Video: Jeffrey Stoner Video

Floral Design and Chuppah: Lee Forrest Design

Wedding Stationery: 2u Creative

Lighting: Get Lit Productions

Band: Clint Wiley and the None Other Band

Drape: Swag Decor

Real Weddings: Erica and Shawn at The Ritz Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes

I have been meaning for some time to share this gem of a wedding, and in many ways, I think that in doing so, I would be saying goodbye to this experience and this family forever. [SAD FACE]

You see, I did The Landis' first daughter, Vicky's wedding exactly 3 years [Mother's Day Weekend] prior and everything about planning with mom Kate, Vicky and ultimately meeting Erica, and her then beau Shawn was GOLD.

I held out hope to someday have the opportunity to plan Erica's wedding, and my wish came true!

Erica's personality is effervescent, joyous and whimsical, just as her wedding day turned out to be!

I cannot wait to share the beautiful images from Root Photography with you next week, but I thought you could start the weekend off right with a whole lotta' family love and one heck of a party with their highlight video!

Landis family, I LOVE YOU!  [to bits and bits!]

xx, LS

Fun Facts:

Photography: Root Photography [and long live #stoneroo!]

Video: The Mister!/Jeffrey Stoner Video

Gather | Memorial Day Entertaining with a Twist!

To start, let me get to the core of Memorial Day, and why we, as Americans, have the privilege to celebrate such an honorable day. There is a great and profound meaning behind this 3 day weekend which speaks louder than beach bonanzas, BBQ parties and enjoying an extra day off off work.

As a refresher,  Memorial Day is a holiday observed on the last Monday in May that is meant to honor and remember those who died in the military while serving their country. 

Now that we have our heads and hearts in the right place, it's time to gather!

I like to start off the morning with blueberry scones, ice cold milk and, of course, some patriotic napkins:

As with any gathering, formal or informal, I always consider some key variables that I always implement: 

SETTING THE STAGE:

Weather permitting, we are taking our shin-dig outdoors, and though my mother in law is the hostess this year, she has given me, shall we say. creative license. *wink!

Red, white and blue is the palette, naturally, and really not much is needed.  We'll rely on fun accents like patterned napkins, [above] decorative straws, accent pillows and American flags galore. Most everything procured came from World Market, which was practical and cost-effective!

TUNES:

The Mister typically manages the playlists for all of our gatherings, but he's off the hook this holiday as his work schedule has been bustling.  Thank goodness for Pop Sugar whose list is just the perfect fit!

 

  1. "Summer Love" — Justin Timberlake
  2. "School's Out" — Alice Cooper
  3. "Standing on the Shore" — Empire of the Sun
  4. "Summertime" — Langhorne Slim & The Law
  5. "When the Sun Goes Down" — Arctic Monkeys
  6. "King of the Beach" — Wavves
  7. "Blister in the Sun" — Violent Femmes
  8. "Beach Comber" — Real Estate
  9. "Summer Nights" — Rascal Flatts
  10. "Beach Side" — Kings of Leon
  11. "The Boys of Summer" — Don Henley
  12. "The Summer" — Coconut Records
  13. "Beach Monster" — STRFKR
  14. "Summertime Sadness" — Lana Del Rey
  15. "Cruel Summer" — Bananarama

SPIRITS:

Something that is light, refreshing and colorful is what's in order for this soirée, and this Red, White and Blue Sangria fits the bill perfectly!

Strawberries, sliced, blueberries pineapple, cut into star shapes, 2 bottles dry white wine, 1 cup triple sec, 1/2 cup berry-flavored vodka, 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup simple syrup. Combine ingredients in a large pitcher & stir. Chill in the refrigerator for at least four hours.

 

MENU:

I mentioned I wanted to entertain this Memorial Day with a twist.  I know the go-to is burgers, hot dogs and ribs, but you all know me better than that by now, don't you?

This season, I am all about grilling anything and everything from protein to fruit and even some surprises in between!

First , the pièce de résistance, grilled oysters, inspired by my new favorite go-to place for anything oysters, The Oyster Pub, local to me here in Florida. [Daytona Beach] 

Friends, they GRILL the oysters in a way that I have never experienced oysters before! You owe it to yourself to visit and order plenty, they go fast!

Next, anything from romaine, avocados, corn and watermelon, everything is fair game.  Everything tastes better with that wonderful charred flavor!

When looking for a twist on recipes, I always check out my savvy, blogger-friend Tieghan curator of Half Baked Harvest.

She must have been channeling my needs for all things grilled and fresh, and I can;t think of anything else I would want to serve this weekend like pork tenderloins with balsamic strawberries and salad in a jar.  Perfect portions!

Some assembly required: 

Happy Memorial Day Weekend friends!  I hope you will take the time to reflect, thank a soldier or veteran and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the very freedoms we het to experience this weekend and every day.

xx, LS

Image Source: Clip Art Photo

Sources:

World Market

Pinterest

Half Baked Harvest

The Oyster Pub, Daytona Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farm Wedding | One Love at The Ritz Carlton's Whisper Creek Farm

When I was approached by the sales and marketing team at The Ritz Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes to style a newly renovated ballroom and their working farm, Whisper Creek to showcase two beautifully styled weddings for their new print and digital collateral, I was flattered to say the least!

As much as I love to sink my teeth into a ballroom design, I was eager to flex some design muscles at the farm in particular.  Outdoor events has it's own challenges, of course,  but half of the work is done for you compliments of mother nature. I wanted this to be rustic, relaxed, yet refined, and I think you will agree that the design team and I checked all of the boxes there!

I loved the use of magnolia leaf garlands from right here in sunny Florida with complimenting hues of soft, smoky purples, including fresh lavender which smelled divine!

Brussels sprouts and kumquats straight from the farm!

The next honor with this styled shoot was that it dovetailed perfectly with a workshop hosted by Orlando photographer, Kathy Thomas called One Love which taught accredited wedding professionals on same sex weddings. I was honored to partake, and proud to be same sex wedding certified!

Lisa and Jenn were recently married, and I was moved to tears watching them enjoy this day and seeing the love shine from their eyes!

The Rivini gown an jumpsuit from Solutions Bridal was TO. DIE. FOR!

Below image courtesy of Stephanie Dishman:

Whether it's a farm wedding or outdoor entertaining, don't force your environment to look like something it isn't. Use what's available around you, and you will be certain to host an effortless fête!

xx, LS

THE TEAM:

Photographer: Nick Edmundson

Venue: Whisper Creek Farm

Floral Design: Raining Roses Productions

Scroll Menu, Placemats and Table Runner: Kim McFadden | Chalk Shop 

Furniture: AFR Furniture Rental

Hair and Makeup: Kristy Alonzo | Kristy's Artistry Design Team

Wedding Gown and Jumpsuit: Solutions Bridal

Personal Wardrobe Styling: Tammara Kohler | Fused Fashion







Courtney and Noah at The Alfond Inn: Part II: The Highlight Video!

A picture-perfect day flooded with sunshine, friends that are thick as thieves and the warmth, love and unending support of two families coming together for this once exceptional couple. That is the story that is Courtney and Noah's wedding day.

Imagery is timeless and beautiful, but video, my friends, captures nuances, mannerisms and a different emotion.  

This was an especially poignant reminder as Courtney lost her beloved Pappy shortly after this perfect day. I know that she, and the entire family were not only grateful that he could be there on their wedding day, but also forever more in their wedding video memories.

I'm so pleased to share with you this loving and fun video masterfully done by Jeffrey Stoner. [otherwise known as the Mister!]

xx, LS

Real Weddings: Courtney and Noah Shine at The Alfond Inn

Between the glorious outdoor ceremony and the details inside the ballroom, all I can conclude about Courtney and Noah's wedding was that it had 'shine! [Just like them!]

Every meeting with Courtney was like a playdate for me as we share a mutual passion for all things "pretty" and creative design.  As Courtney works as a visual merchandiser for a major department store, I felt confident suggesting design elements for her to consider.  

We used 4 different kinds of table linen, metallic accents, a "LOVE" marquis and some soft draping that made us all swoon.

I met Courtney through a former bride, Kylie Drummond, and it was especially nice to have 2 "brides" int the house!

Getting ready with the fabulous Simone with Makeover Station:

Noah was preeetty sharp, I'd say! PS: His Grandfather's watch made me cry!

Can't you feel the anticipation with this first look?

Ceremony in the round with buckets of sunshine!

Ready for more "pretty?"

And because there was impossible to scale down all of the gorgeous images captured by Amalie Orrange, here you go, friends!

I loved this wedding and I love Courtney and Noah!  I can't wait to share their highlight video with you tomorrow!

xx, LS

 

Partners:

Venue: The Alfond Inn, Winter Park

Photographer: Amalie Orrange Photography

Video: Jeffrey Stoner Video [The Mister!]

Floral Design: Czes Heard

Hair and Makeup: Makeover Station

Cake: The Sugar Suite

Linen: Over The Top Linen

Drape: Swag Décor

Chairs and Rentals: Orlando Wedding and Party Rentals

Gown: Monique L'Hullier | The Collection

 

 

 

 

  

 

Spring Outdoor Entertaining Inspiration

Now that the weather is much more comfortable and agreeable for many, it's time to get outside and entertain in style and with careful attention to detail!

For this shoot, I used the beautiful space at Whisper Creek Farm which has it's own operating garden.

This ideal space was outfitted with market lights for overhead, cozy lighting, a wood table, industrial chairs and, take a look at my floating champagne bar!

I loved the use of Florida's own magnolia leaves for a table garland, and I even put kumquats on the table as an added table detail which was growing on an adjacent tree! The monogrammed runner complimented by the florals and fresh lavender was the sophisticated touch I look for in all table settings.

Have I wet your whistle and given you the entertaining bug for this Spring?! I hope you make a "go" of it!

Bon fête!

xx, LS

Partners:

Photographer: Stephanie Dishman

Venue: Whisper Creek Farm

Floral and Floating Champagne Bar: Raining Roses Productions

Monogrammed Runner: Kim McFadden | Chalk Shop

Table and Chairs: AFR Furniture

Market Lights: Get Lit Productions

 

Real Weddings: Mission Inn Meets Al Fresco with Abby and Danny

Abby's wedding [yes, THE Abby Liga of Liga Photography] has been a long time in the making, at least In my mind for many years anyway!

Abby and I met over 10 years ago, began to collaborate with one another on various weddings and projects and we have seen each other through this thing called life.

We have become as close as can be over these years, and she has taken my family's beautiful holiday portraits,family portraits,  graduation pics and we have guided each other in the past 10 years of life's circumstances with the utmost love and respect.

I've always felt a touch *protective* of Abby, and have always wished her the best life has to offer.  Needless to say, I have been designing her wedding in about 100 different ways for a very long time.

Enter: Dashing Danny!

Their attraction was clearly immediate, and their devotion to each other was very soon to follow.  I fell in love with Danny right away, and so did the Mister, which was a very beautiful thing. Danny is one of the most authentic people I have ever met, and admire his total commitment to family and fatherhood with his darling sons, August and Cruz.

Now, isn't she lovely?

I have also come to know, love and plan the wedding for Abby's sister Amy, and I adore watching them as sisters. 

I love this reaction of the ladies' reaction to see Abby all dressed as a bride for the first time!

I loved everything about the style of this wedding.  Somehow, we managed to strike the balance between refined and relaxed.  Calligraphed invitations by Sarah Hannah set the tone right from  the start. The Veuve certainly helped too!

Guests were greeted at the ceremony with a glass of Prosecco, and guests cane dressed to match the natural environment as if they already knew!

The sweetest flower girl and gorgeous, heart-felt-ceremony...

An al-fresco, Italian, family-style dinner and dancing under the stars to celebrate? Why not?!

Quite possibly my favorite detail: The menu was printed on paper bags that had a baguette inside garnished with fresh rosemary. xx

I can't imagine Silvana's reaction when Abby asked if she was available to photograph her wedding, [no pressure there!] but I am so delighted that she did.  The images from film are breathtaking and I loved giggling with her about frizzy, hippie trees in Florida from my new hippie-photographer friend in San Francisco!

To my beloved friends,  and the brand-spanking new Mr. and Mrs. DiDomenico, I wish you bountiful blessings and good fortune for always! xx, LS

HAPPY!!!  

HAPPY!!!

 

You know the saying, "It takes a village?  Presenting my village!

Venue: Mission Inn

Bridal Gown: Solutions Bridal

Hair and Makeup: Simone Rosas | Makeover Station 

Invitations and Calligraphy: Sarah Hanna

Printing: Darcy Sang

Floral Design: Lana Faulkner | Fairbanks Florist

Cake: Sylvette Wittmer | Cakes by Design

Photography: Silvana DiFranco | Silvana DiFranco Photography

Video: Jeffrey Stoner [you know, the Mister!] | Jeffrey Stoner Video

Lighting: Byron GauthierGet Lit Productions

Linen: Over the Top

Rentals: Orlando Wedding and Party Rentals and 

Draping: Swag Decor

DJ with Drummer: Impulse Entertainment

Super Bowl Party vs. Real Life


Super Bowl 2015 is upon us, and let's face it ...you could use a welcome break from tax prep, resolution keeping, wedding planning, blizzard prep and everything that goes with real life!

This is a rare circumstance where you will find me actually taking the "theme" and running with it. The kitschy details are plentiful: invitations, food display, activities...the possibilites and your creativity can be endless-



I adore the above invitation from a simple jewelry box, the Super Bowl Bingo and commercial rating paddles, {via Jeff Mindell Photography} the whimsical tablescape and always welcome an occasion for signature cocktails!



Think about this welcome reprieve from day-to-day menu planning and responsibilities: you don't have to worry about your decor looking "too much," D.I.Y projects are applauded rather than judged, dress is casual and you can eat indulgent {i.e., unhealthy!} foods and concern yourself with only fitting in your jogger pants and not your jeans!
*See previous post o Athleisure Wear!*


Admittedly, I am no sports {let alone football} enthusiast, so in the spirit of "if you can't bet 'em, join 'em," I party plan. {and bless the Mister for enduring all of my party planning details and DIY projects!

Because let's face it, I'm really in it for the perfect outfit and Puppy Bowl...

*heart randomly explodes in glitter pieces*



NYC SPRING ELOPEMENT {ME AND THE MISTER!}


When we made the decision to get married, {a very natural and easy decision I might add!} Jeffrey and I mulled over various ideas for consideration. Inexplicably almost, we both immediately and innately knew we would elope. We had a few spots of great importance to us, and I even toyed around the idea of Paris, France for the sheer romance of it all! In the end, the where, when and why could not have been a more perfect solution for us. As I always advise my very own clients, the details of your wedding need to make sense. Does this {detail} tell your story individually and as a couple? Does it make sense?

It is, after all, your story and your "happily ever after…"

*Image Courtesy of Root Photography*

Crockpot Pork Ramen Noodle Soup

Happy Monday!

Now, I'm not sure if it's the chillier weather, {yes, even here in Florida!} or the slower pace that January offers post-holiday, but I seem to crave comfort-filled evenings with the Mister and the Girlies.

Supper sets the comfort-tone for them, but the preparation of supper ALWAYS sets the tone for me!  I just love planning and preparing to cook for my family and friends.  It actually helps me to decompress!

Forever appreciative to the crock pot for allowing me to plan ahead, prepare a meal and multi-task for the remainder of the day on my other responsibilities, my priorities  stayed the same, which was healthy, flavorful and innovative meals.

Cue my new foodie-crush, and sweetheart of a gal, Tieghan Gerard, founder and author of Half Baked Harvest. She has been kind enough to allow me to share some favorite recipes with you, and her spunk and energy are so infectious.

Goodness gracious, just look at this healthy and fresh ramen dish!

The acorn squash and mushrooms are delicious!

But let's face it, the pork and the egg are EVERYTHING!

From the delightfully talented Tieghan's kitchen to yours and mine: 

Ingredients

  • Soup
  • 2-3 pounds pork shoulder roast (or butt)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth, plus more of needed
  • 1/4-1/2 cup + 2-4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce <--Use low sodium
  • 1/4 cup + 2-4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons thai red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (chili paste) (or to taste)
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese five spice
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 cups wild mushrooms, left whole - or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 packs Ramen noodles, seasoning packets discarded
  • 4 soft boiled or fried eggs, for serving
  • Chopped carrots, sliced jalapenos, cilantro + green onions, for serving
  • Curry Roasted Acorn Squash
  • 1 medium acorn squash, seeded + diced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (I use spicy curry)
  • 1 tablespoon white miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Pepper, to taste

Instructions

Add the pork to the bowl of a crockpot. Pour the chicken broth, 1/4-1/2 cup soy sauce (depending on your taste), 1/4 cup rice vinegar and fish sauce over the pork. Add the thai red curry paste, ginger, sambal oelek, juice of 1 lime, Chinese five spice powder, black pepper and 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours (I recommend going low and slow).

About 40 minutes before you are ready to eat, roast the squash. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl mix together the melted coconut oil, curry powder, miso, brown sugar and a good pinch of pepper. Add the cubed squash to a greased baking sheet and pour the curry mixture over the squash. Toss well. Bake for 30-40 minutes, tossing a couple of times during cooking. You want the squash to be lightly browned and crisp.

Meanwhile, remove the pork from the crockpot and add the mushrooms. Cover the crockpot and crank the heat up to high. Lightly shred the pork with two forks or your hands.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame oil. Once hot, add enough pork to cover just the surface of your skillet, do not over crowd the skillet. Sprinkle a little brown sugar over the pork, add 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, toss. Allow the pork to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Stir and allow the pork to continue to caramelize, about 3-5 minutes total. Remove the pork from the skillet, repeat with the remaining pork. Keep the pork warm.

Add the Ramen noodles to the crockpot and allow them to cook 5 minutes. Once the noodles are cooked, stir in only half of the pork. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top with extra caramelized pork, curry roasted acorn squash and an egg. Season the egg with salt and pepper, Add the carrots, jalapeños, green onions and cilantro if desired. Happy slurping!

*Recipe and Images Courtesy of Tieghan Gerard | Half Baked Harvest


Me and The Mister

Love and marriage.

Upon the launch of Me Actually, I reached out to several friends and followers of mine and the Mister's to find out what in "lifestyle" piqued their interest.  Sure, there were many shared passions that were thrown out there:  fashion, design, music, film, cooking, etc. , but it was becoming evident that a curiosity into our personal lives existed as well.  For a particularly private couple with a very (and I mean very!) tightly-knit circle, this seemed like the biggest challenge of all.  With all of that being said, what you see is what you get, and if you are willing to follow us, we are more than willing to share.

The Mister and I met each other 10 years ago as business acquaintances.  I was relatively new in the wedding business, { E Events Design} he was well-established, {Jeffrey Stoner Video} and you'd better believe that I had already been very well acquainted with his work.  Huge fan.  I mean, HUGE!  From a very quick introduction at a networking event, I vowed that we would work together, and work together we did on countless beautiful weddings!  As time and years passed, a very meaningful friendship had developed.  Every time I had a creative concept or marketing idea, he'd be the first I'd run it by.  He never laughed, and maybe not always agreed, but ALWAYS listened.   Business pow-pows transitioned into an easy and comfortable friendship.  

Here we are at a meeting in Denver, CO prior to a wedding fashion showcase that I  produced, and managed to convince him to document on video in 2008


Transitioning out of a marriage for me, and a long-term relationship for the Mister, it was this friendship that we relied upon so heavily to be a place of non-judgement and calm during a very tumultuous storm.  I was navigating keeping my business thriving, raising my two young daughters and building a new home for us to live, while the Mister moved out of his home to start a new life. Our friendship seemed more like a life-line in that we were constantly confiding and leaning on one another for support. "Buddy" - that's what we called each other, and that's what we definitely were.

Me and the Girlies, as we embarked on our "new normal" life. *Images by Abby Liga | Liga Photography*

Me and the Girlies+Lisa Stoner+Me Actually+Abby Liga Photography.jpg

 

As John Lennon once sang, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”, and that about sums up our beginnings as a couple.  We weren’t planning it and could have never imagined it, but it just happened.  Here's the funny part: the girls had known the Mister since they were very little girls, and called him by his proper name, "Mr. Stoner." One evening while over for dinner, he explained to them that they no longer had to go through that formality.  They asked what they should call him instead, and he jokingly replied "you can call me Sir".  They combined that into "Sir Mister" and it stuck!  Hence, "Mister" for me to this day.

*Image Courtesy of Abby Liga | Liga Photography*

I frequently told the Mister that I never needed anything more than the beautiful relationship we seemed to be sharing.  I never needed to get married again, and I never wanted to rely on anyone but myself ever again.  Likewise, if you ever knew the Mister, then you knew he never wanted to get married either (he really was the George Clooney of the wedding industry!) Here's the lesson on that kids:  Never say never.

We were never engaged.  We never made an announcement or proclamation of any kind.  We eloped.  Just. Up. And. Eloped.  When I tell you that no one knew, NO ONE  knew (except for our photographers who not only served as witnesses for our marriage license, but are our closest and dearest friends to this day!)

Now, I am not suggesting we didn't talk about this; we certainly did. We considered everything imaginable, most especially my daughters. We planned for 3 months to clear our schedules and fly away to get married.  The girls thought we were going to NYC for Spring Break and would do a family photo shoot. This helped to explain why I was buying dresses for the three of us!

Post-Ceremony! *Image by Nathan and Jensey Root | Root Photography*

 

 

Someday soon, I'll share the details of our sweet elopement in Strawberry Fields, Central Park.

In the meantime, we've been living happily ever after ...!


*Image by Abby Liga | Liga Photography*

Happy weekending, friends!

xx, LS


Athleisure Wear | The Jogger Pant

 

It’s all fun and games until the pants are too tight…

 

Because the weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s consisted of countless calories, delectable desserts and savory sins at every corner, it’s no wonder we are all looking for something that not only looks stylish, but feels great. As much as I love dressing up and coordinating outfits, it’s as if I look for any excuse to stay in comfortable PJ’s all day! 

 

My struggle was this: everyday errands and casual evening’s out were beginning to look unkempt and thoughtless.  And then, as if a personal prayer was answered, the track pant trend was practically dropped in my lap.

 

Truth be told, I thought I happened upon this trend accidentally.  In full disclosure, I was in the Gap looking at their Gap Body selection, [my favorite loungewear and PJ’s!] and thought these stylish pants came by way of workout wear and were somehow misplaced. 

 

Athlesiure wear, as it is now referred to, is checking off every fashion box for me right now! Comfortable, casual, dressed up, dressed down and always stylish!  The drawstring keeps the fit comfortable enough while the tapered ankle offers a tailored look. Hallelujah! 

 

Casual: Wear a t-shirt or pullover with a fashion sneaker. {Source Image: EXPRESS}

Dressed Up: Choose a more structured top, button down or sweater, and wear with a sassy heel. {Source Image: GAP}

 

Oh, and I’ve tried this look on the Mister as well— quite successfully I might add!  Sans the sassy heel, of course! {Source Image J Crew and Gap }

 

Aaaand EXHALE.  Literally!

xx, LS

Man up!

Show of hands: Who struggles every birthday, holiday, anniversary, etc. to find a unique and meaningful gift for their Mister, or favorite man in their life? [hint: THIS girl right here!]

Our friends at Man Crates have got your covered, friends, and truth be told, I may be hard-pressed to keep my sticky fingers out of some of these fun and enviable gifts!

Clean Shave Crate+Man Crates+Lisa Stoner+Me Actually.jpg

Their manifesto is priceless: 

"We say 'no' to ugly neckties, cologne samplers and executive trinkets. We don't save wrapping paper, we don't do ribbons.

We ship bragworthy gifts for guys. Gifts that you can't wait to arrive because you know the recipient will love opening them.

Gifts that people gather round at the office, people following the sounds of wood being torn from wood by the included, laser-engraved crowbar.

We are Man Crates, and we deliver awesome gifts for men."

I think my brother in law, Johnny would go all manly "ga-ga" over this one:

The possibilities are so fun, and even endearing, like this one for your favorite Daddy to-be!

Even the finest of gentlemen will relish the opportunity to rip open their carte gift with a crowbar.

Shhh...this one's for the Mister! xx, LS


Right Now: Alice + Olivia Collaboration with Starbucks

I don't know if it's the "reentry management" that goes along with a post-holiday break, or the chillier weather, {yes, even in Florida!} but I am finding my need for an afternoon caffeine fix at an all-time high!

Cue a stylish, and timely collaboration with Alice + Olivia and Starbucks to unite sophisticated coffee and tea drinkers as we all embark on our first weeks into 2015.

Quirky, sophisticated and insulated...I won't even tell if you have hot chocolate in there! *wink!