Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Tiffany & Co Bridal Shower

This weekend Mom and I had the pleasure of throwing my Sister-In-Love-To-Be a bridal shower. She loves all things sparkly and pretty, so I decided on a Tiffany & Co. theme - 'cause what says "sparkly, elegant, and bridal" better than diamonds and that infamous blue color?

As is our norm, I did most of the planning and was in charge of look-tone-feel while Momma (and a few other incredibly sweet ladies) handled food and prep.

Everyone seemed to have a fantastic time, especially the bride-to-be (seen here in her makeshift veil made from a bit of wrapping).

It was so much fun to see all of these ladies again (I grew up knowing most of them from church or school), and I loved watching them love on this sweet girl that I get to call my sister in just a few short months. We all felt very blessed. Thanks to everyone who came!

Now, how 'bout some party details?

The Invites 
I wanted to embody the concept of a "Tiffany box" in the invite. I found some lovely Tiffany blue cardstock online as well as some shimmery pearl-white envelopes. I cut and folded the 12x12 pieces of cardstock into 6x6 square fold-over cards and added a white insert with all the party details. Then I tied a strand of white ribbon around each of the cards, in a Tiffany bow, naturally, and sealed them in the shimmery envelopes.


In case you're curious, a "Tiffany bow" is basically a criss-cross bow that lies flat in the back. It's tied in a very specific way. Wanna know how?

The Decor
We stuck to a basic black-white-Tiffany color scheme for the decor. Mom found some great Tiffany blue table overlays online, so they were my accents on the tables and throughout the house. We also added sparkle wherever we could - with diamonds, pearls, and acrylic scatter. 

The Flowers
Mom and I fell in love with a photo of a centerpiece on Pinterest and HAD to recreate it for the shower. Now, the tutorial that it links to is no longer live, but it's actually quite simple to create. You need: wet floral foam (the kind you soak in water so it keeps flowers fresh longer. We got ours from Amazon), a whole mess of carnations (we used about 150 for two centerpieces), and a candlestick of your choice. 

You soak the floral foam in water overnight, trim your flowers super short, start at the top, and just work your way around the foam. I went ahead and perched my foam on top of my candlestick so that I knew how big of a base to leave (and, since it's slightly maleable, it sunk onto the candlestick well, providing a sturdy workspace on which to decorate).

The Food
We served tea-time, finger-food items (since it was a late afternoon shower). Our menu included:
  • cucumber sandwiches
  • pimiento cheese sandwiches
  • sausage balls
  • veggies with dip
  • fruit salsa and cinnamon-sugar pita chips
  • spinach tarts
  • cheese and crackers
  • Rick's Bakery petit fours
  • "Girlie Tea" (tea with orange juice and lemonade)
  • Tiffany Punch (blue Hawaiian punch and lemonade)

Are the petit fours not incredible? The lovely ladies at Rick's Bakery were able to customize the glaze to match the Tiffany blue color and added sweet little buttercream bows to the top of each one. How precious are they?!?

The Games
We played several shower games to keep the energy up.

First: Ring Robber
Each lady started the party with three rings. If she heard another guest say the words "wedding," "bride," or "groom," she could take one of their rings (and could lose rings the same way). The guest who ended the party got a prize (a small Tiffany blue clutch and pearl bracelets).

Second: How well do you know the Groom?
Since the shower was in Little Brother's home town, most of the ladies knew him while he was growing up. I drew up a list of trivia questions about the groom and let all the ladies try their hand at proving they knew him best. We even let the bride play! Once the guests had finished, we invited the groom into the room and had him provide the answers. Some prompted fun childhood stories and it was great fun hearing what everyone thought the answers were. The bride and Mom ended up tying for highest score (even though Mom DID get his birthday wrong...). 

Third: "Why do we do that?" Bridal Trivia
I found a fun list of bridal/wedding traditions and explanations and let everyone try and match them up. Some of them were interesting things I'd never thought about. For instance: 
Q: Why does the groom throw the garter?
A: To distract the guests so they keep their hands off the bride
Finally: Pass the Presents
With this game, I had all the ladies sit in a circle and I handed out six small gifts to random guests. Then, I told them I was going to read them a story. Every time they heard the word "right," they were to pass the gift in their hands (if they had one) to the right. When they heard the word "left," they passed it left. I started out reading the story slowly so that everyone got the idea, then sped up til some of the ladies were practically throwing gifts at each other to try and keep up. I think this one was my favorite. I'll post the story at the bottom for those of you that are interested.

Not a "game," but we also had each of the guests sign a black river-rock and leave a warm wish, blessing, or piece of advice on one side of the stone. The stones will go home with the bride and groom in a hurricane vase for them to keep and enjoy for years to come. 

The Favors
Keeping with the Tiffany theme, everyone got to take home their own "little blue box," filled with a handful of chocolate pearls and a diamond ring keychain. I got the boxes online and ordered the keychains from Oriental Trading. It made for a fun little extra at the end of the party to tie the theme together. 

Now, how 'bout some party pics?

They got a whole slew of goodies...see the hanger there in the middle? That's from me! It's a custom "mrs. hale" hanger for her dress. I've seen 'em all over the wedding blogs and found the original designer on etsy - Lila Frances. Her stuff is beautiful. Go check it out if you need a fun wedding gift!

When all the gifts were opened, the bride came away with a fantastic rehearsal bouquet (thanks to Tutu and her mad bouquet skills), but she only broke ONE ribbon the entire time. Someone needs to buy that girl more presents and tie the ribbons on a bit tighter. I want multiple red-headed nieces and nephews! Get on that, people!


I'm glad I have someone as sweet at the bride-to-be to dote on - it makes doing something I already enjoy just that much better. Now, I'm gonna spend what's left of my weekend relaxing 'cause, fun or not, this girl (and her pup) are tired. Y'all have a great Sunday! Thanks for reading!

PS: Pass the Presents "script"
       “[Insert bride’s name] knew RIGHT away that she had found Mr. RIGHT and the RIGHT date was set. Now seemed to be the RIGHT time to start so she LEFT RIGHT after lunch and went RIGHT to her mother’s house. She LEFT in such a hurry that she LEFT her to do list RIGHT on the living room table. But there was no time to turn back. She knew she needed to get started RIGHT away to make sure nothing was LEFT undone.
       With only 24 days until the wedding day, there seemed to be little time LEFT to spare and so much LEFT to do. She asked her mother to WRITE down a guest list because she knew mom would make sure no one was LEFT out. [Insert bride’s name] LEFT to find the RIGHT invitations. On her way, she LEFT a message at the florist and then RIGHT into the bridal shop she ran.
       RIGHT in the window was the perfect dress. “Oh no, I LEFT my checkbook RIGHT in the car.” “Hold that dress, I’ll be RIGHT back.” With that accomplished, she called Mr. RIGHT and LEFT him a message to call her RIGHT back. She LEFT to meet the florist who had LEFT her a message that they had the RIGHT flowers for her.
       Mr. RIGHT called her RIGHT back and said he LEFT a message for the preacher RIGHT down the road to call them RIGHT back and that he had just LEFT work and would be RIGHT over. She LEFT the florist and ran RIGHT over to meet Mr. RIGHT. RIGHT away they discussed what was LEFT to do. “Who will be the RIGHT best man?” She LEFT that up to Mr. RIGHT. “I’ll get the RIGHT maid of Honor.”
       RIGHT away they started shopping for the RIGHT rings. With that done, the next stop was to order the RIGHT cake. Mr. RIGHT could clearly see his future Mrs. RIGHT was on the RIGHT track.
       After a long day, they were both LEFT exhausted. All that was LEFT to do was get RIGHT home to see if any messages were LEFT while they were out. Sure enough, Mom had LEFT a message that the church RIGHT down the road was available so she requested it RIGHT away. Now that was not LEFT to worry about. “Lets call it a day.” “Whatever is LEFT to do, can be LEFT until tomorrow.” They agreed and with a kiss, he LEFT and she went RIGHT to bed.”

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pi Day Recipes! Part Two

Happy Pi Day, y'all!

I hope you all celebrated 3.14 in a similarly yummy way as we did.

Yesterday I showed you three of the four recipes I prepared for our Pi Day celebration and auction at work: Lemon Chess, Lemon Meringue with Raspberry Coulis, and Coconut Chocolate Pies

If you missed it, I made Lemon Chess, Lemon Meringue with Raspberry Coulis, Coconut Chocolate, and a fourth mystery pie that I promised to share today.

Well, the wait is over! Here it is - the Irish Car Bomb Pie!

I dreamed this recipe up a few days ago. It's based on a cupcake recipe I make every year for St. Patrick's Day. I was trying to come up with an idea for a March-relevant pie, and kept coming back to those cupcakes. Then, I had one of those moments: Why don't I turn my cupcakes into a pie?!?


The cupcakes, my Irish Car Bomb cupcakes, are one of my favorite recipes to make. It's a dark chocolate Guinness cake with Irish whiskey ganache filling and topped with an Irish cream buttercream. Drooling yet?

The pie adaptation is fairly similar.

I make my crusts with vodka, so I decided I could substitute whiskey and flavor the crust a little. Then, I decided I adapt a chocolate pudding pie to make it Guinness flavored (like the cake) and top it with an Irish cream flavored meringue (using a Swiss meringue recipe). The only part not immediately obvious was how to incorporate the whiskey a little more. Then it hit me, just use the ganache from the cupcake recipe! I decided I could cover the crust with a layer of ganache before adding the pudding.

The next step was to try it out, cross my fingers, and hope it turned out like I wanted.

And, voila! I'm pretty proud of this one if I may say so myself. This pie is best when it has time to sit and awesome-ize, so plan ahead if you're gonna give it a go.

Irish Car Bomb Pie

For the crust (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 8 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tbsp cold Irish whiskey

For the whiskey ganache
  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp Irish whiskey

For the pudding (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 12 oz bottle Guinness
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the Irish cream meringue
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch Cream of Tartar
  • 1/4 cup Irish Cream

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar until combined. Cut in butter and blend until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour).
  2. Sprinkle whiskey and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together.
  3. Form into a ball and flatten into a 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes.
  4. When ready to prepare pie, heat your oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and drape the crust into a pie dish. Crimp the edges to your liking and prick the bottom of the crust. Weigh down the crust with weights (or rice or beans) OR use my new method: put the shell back into the freezer for 20 min and press a piece of buttered foil (butter side down) against the frozen shell (as tightly as you can).
  6. Bake about 25 min, remove foil or weights, and bake about 15 min more.
  7. While baking, make the ganache. Combine chocolate and cream in a double boiler until melted and smooth. Remove from heat, stir in whiskey, and set aside.
  8. When crust has baked, pour ganache over the crust and set aside to cool. It will take several hours for this to firm up – plan ahead.
  9. When crust is set, prepare the filling. Whisk together cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk then Guinness and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, for about two minutes (or until thickened).
  10. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla then pour filling into cooled shell and chill.
  11. Finally, prepare the Irish cream meringue. Using the steel mixing bowl from your stand mixer and a medium saucepan, create a double boiler. Bring water to a high simmer in the saucepan and combine the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the mixing bowl.
  12. Whisk over med-high heat until sugar is disolved and egg whites are warm to the touch. 
  13. Transfer bowl to mixer and whip on high til soft peaks form. Gently fold in Irish cream, incorporating completely but not over mixing.
  14. Spread on top of chilled pie, swirling with the back of a spoon. Toast with brulee torch if desired. 

It went over really well at the auction, as did my other pies! We had a great time. Some highlights are below:

Yes that's someone in a purple dolphin costume. Yes he "ate" his pie...with the help of a wet vac. He was disqualified. Kid Pie was the clear winner.

Pretty fantastic day. Hope y'all enjoyed yours, too!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pi Day Recipes!

I work with a whole mess of geeks. It's awesome.

Mostly 'cause they're neat people.

Partly 'cause we get to do stuff like this:

And, since we know I can't turn down an opportunity to bake, I volunteered to make several pies:

My Famous Lemon Chess Pie

For the crust (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Makes enoughfor two 9-inch single-crust pies
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 16 tbsp (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup cold vodka
  • 1/2 cup cold water

For the filling
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • Zest of 1 lemon, grated
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  1. In a large bowl, whisk flour, salt, and sugar until combined. Cut in butter and blend until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour).
  2. Combine ice-cold water and vodka. Sprinkle 1/2 cup mixture over dough. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together, adding additional liquid 1 tbsp at a time as needed.
  3. Divide dough in half, form into balls, and flatten into 4-inch disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour (preferably 2 or more).
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Roll out the dough and transfer to pie plates. Trim and crimp the edges and prick the bottom of the crust. Then, weigh down the crust with weights (or rice or beans) OR use my newfound method: put the shell back into the freezer for 20 min and press a piece of buttered foil (butter side down) against the frozen shell (as tightly as you can).
  6. Bake about 25 min, remove foil or weights, and bake about 15 min more. Set aside to cool. 
  7. Meanwhile, make the filling. Whisk together sugar, cornmeal, flour, and salt. Whisk in eggs and lemon zest until combined.Slowly whisk in the butter, lemon juice, and vanilla.
  8. Pour the filling into the baked crust and return to oven, baking about 30-35 min or until the filling is set (will still jiggle like jelly). Cool through completely before serving. 

Lemon Meringue Pie with Raspberry Coulis

Same crust as used with the Lemon Chess Pie
For the filling
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 lemons, juiced and zested
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten

For the coulis
  • 18 oz raspberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar

For the meringue
  • 4 egg whites, room temp
  • 1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 6 tbsp (super fine) white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees and pre-bake pie crust.
  2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1 cup sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in water, lemon juice and lemon zest. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in butter.
  3. Place egg yolks in a small bowl and gradually whisk in 1/2 cup of hot sugar mixture. Whisk egg yolk mixture back into remaining sugar mixture. Bring to a boil and continue to cook while stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat. Pour filling into baked pastry shell and set aside to cool.
  4. For the coulis, combine sugar, berries, and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan and boil over med-high heat. Reduce to med-low and cook til sugar dissolves (about 8 min). Remove from heat and let cool. Then, puree in a blender til smooth, press through a fine mesh colander to remove solids, and drizzle over pie.  
  5. Next, the meringue. In a large glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites and Cream of Tartar until foamy. Add sugar gradually, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla. 
  6. Spread meringue over room temperature pie, swirling with the back of a spoon and sealing the edges at the crust to prevent slipping. (Tips: use CLEAN bowls and mixers and avoid ANY yolks in your whites)
  7. Bake pie in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown.

Coconut Chocolate Pie (Gluten Free)

For the crust
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 bag (about 14 oz) of shredded coconut

For the filling
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, pulse about 1/3 of the coconut and butter together until well combined, 1-2 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut-butter mixture with the rest of the coconut and stir well until mixture is cohesive.
  4. Press the coconut into a 9″ pie plate so that it forms a crust and bake for 10-15 minutes.  If the edges start to brown too much, cover them with some tin foil.
  5. Once golden brown, move the crust to a wire cooling rack and let it cool completely before filling with the chocolate (this will allow the crust to crisp up first).
  6. While the crust is cooling, bring the heavy cream to boil ina small saucepan.
  7. Put the chopped chocolate into a medium bowl and pour the boiling cream over it.  Let it sit for a few minutes then whisk until itis smooth and no streaks of cream remain.
  8. Pour the chocolate into the tart shell and let it cool before moving it to the refrigerator to set completely for another hour or so. 

...and another new recipe that I'll share tomorrow! It's worth the wait. Come back and see.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I know I've gone temporarily MIA. I'm not dead, just have LOTS to do. Until I can update y'all on all my goings-on, enjoy a whole bunch of pictures of pigs. 

Every month (well...from March to October), Fayetteville holds an event called First Thursday Fayetteville on the square. It's one of the many many things I love about my sweet little town.

Everybody shows up with kids, dogs, and boyfriends in tow and wanders the square for a few hours while listening to live local bands and purchasing handmade goodies from talented local crafstmen. There's also generally a charity beer garden and a plethora of food trucks. In the summer, they even set up a huge screen and show family friendly movies once the sun goes down. 

Have I mentioned I live in one of the best cities in the world?

This month, FTF also featured several of the Pigs from the infamous PIGShibition project. 

PIGShibition is a fundraiser put on by the Ozark Literacy Council that is designed to draw awareness to local literacy issues while supporting both the Council and local artists. The group commissioned 25 pig statues and challenged the community to sponsor local artists to customize them for display around town. The project started last summer and will culminate in the "Piggies Go To Market" event next week where 11 of the 25 will be sold at auction. The other 14 will remain on display in their current locations. 

The 11 that are being sold are currently on display on the square, so we went to take pictures with all of 'em before they head to new homes. Aren't they adorable?

"When Pigs Fly"

"K.R." (aka the Bikes Blues and BBQ Pig)

"Penny the Pop Art Pig"

"Road Hawg"

"Pig Up a Book and Read"

"Sweet Pea"

"Pig Spender"




"The Reader" (my favorite)

As we wandered Fayetteville that night, we also spotted two other pigs (bonus!)

"Gone Underground"

"Pig Easy"

Stay tuned for even MORE pig pics as I find 'em around town.