Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Lake Eden Wedding

The real reason we went to Asheville last weekend was to celebrate the marriage of our cousin, Emily, and her new husband, Thijs. They met volunteering in post-Katrina New Orleans and proceeded to endure a transatlantic romance before they finally were able to both live in the Netherlands. They returned to the states to marry and we're so happy they did!

We started the wedding festivities with a delicious rehearsal dinner at the legendary 12 Bones, where we dined on pulled pork, bbq chicken, mac and cheese, cornbread and more. It was scrumptious! Us girls then proceeded to MG Road for super fancy cocktails with new-to-us ingredients. It was so fun!

Emily is an artist by training and you could totally tell in the wedding details. Instead of a traditional guest book, they had a watercolor map with bicycle stamps (a recurring nod to Amsterdam) so we could each mark where we came from. Emily did all of the illustrations for the wedding stationary and paper products and Thijs did the graphic design.

Her incredible cake decorator was able to replicate the watercolor motif by projecting the design onto the cake.

The centerpieces had sweet watercolor Dutch and American flags.

The food was INCREDIBLE. Seriously, some of the best I've had at any wedding anywhere. This meat buffet had meatloaf cupcakes, beef and chicken skewers with a horseradish, pesto or peanut sauce.

But the best part: DIY Appalachian bruschetta bar. I topped mine with pulled pork, pimento cheese and bacon. It was so amazing. We also sampled a great fruit salad and Israeli couscous salad.

I'm pretty sure the meatloaf cupcake might be Sean's new favorite food.

The international flavor of the wedding made for some incredibly personal and magical moments. Emily's French friend rewrote four classic French songs to tell the story of their romance and sang them a capella perfectly. It was such a special toast.

I was doubly charmed when the entire Dutch contingent sang a traditional song of congratulations. It was really lovely and finished with a great, "Hip hip hooray!"

I tried to cope with the warm summer air by preemptively braiding my hair, but lord my hair looked ratty after a night of dancing!

We had a GREAT dancing crowd, which is always my favorite thing about weddings. You ain't seen nothing until you've seen a dance floor full of Dutchies, French and Americans screaming the lyrics to "I Gotta Feeling."

We finished the wedding with sparklers, but for those of us staying at Lake Eden, the night wasn't over yet...

Thijs and his father built a bonfire and we roasted marshmallows for s'mores. It was one of those moments where, as it's still happening, you're treasuring the memory. What a wonderful day!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Asheville Adventures

We've just returned from one of the loveliest weekends I can recall, spent in one of my most favorite places: Asheville, N.C. We ventured there to see our cousin Emily marry her love, Thijs, on the beautiful grounds of Lake Eden and squeeze some sightseeing in while we could.

The art history nerd in me was WIGGING OUT that the families and wedding party were going to be staying there because it's the location of the former Black Mountain Art College, a sort of modern art superstar breeding ground that operated from the 1930s to 1957. The teachers and students were a Who's Who of modernism: Josef Albers, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, Jacob Lawrence, Buckminster Fuller, Willem de Kooning, Elaine de Kooning and on and on and on. Some cool stuff happened, like...

Buckminster Fuller and his students built the first geodesic domes. SWEEEEEET!

We stayed in the Sequoia Cottage, which was originally built for a German composer who was a professor at the college. If I could, I would buy this house! I loved it that much. It was tucked into the woods, lovely and modern, and had a great layout.

 The artsy and ethnic decor was perfect.

 The view outside our door: a teepee! So fun.

 And me, in front of the sweet house.

On Saturday, Miss Margaret, Katie and I went to the Thomas Wolfe house and took the tour. Wolfe's book, "Look Homeward, Angel," is autobiographical and tells the story of growing up in his mother's boardinghouse, so a visit to the home is particularly great because the tour guide points out spots that are portrayed in the book. Even if you haven't read his books, it's an interesting peek into the boardinghouse culture of the early 20th century and at the end of the day, it's a pretty house! I loved the butter yellow and blue porch!

How gorgeous is this mantel? Apparently Thomas Wolfe hated the house (he had more modern taste), but it's really quite lovely.

 Let it be known I'd kill for a sun porch like this!

 After our tour, I asked a woman at the visitor services desk for a restaurant recommendation that would be "quintessential Asheville." She immediately said The Green Sage, which ended up being hilariously on-point. Asheville is a hippy dippy town, and this is a hippy dippy restaurant! When I ordered, the waitress kindly asked if I'm gluten-sensitive. Everything was super fresh and really delicious; I had a grass-fed beef burger with peppers, monterey jack cheese and chipotle mayo. I had it with a side salad with tangy lemon tahini dressing that was so, so good.

 After lunch, we had a quick visit to the Asheville Art Museum. In keeping with the influence of Black Mountain Art College, its collections are devoted to 20th and 21st century art.

Being the magpie that I am, I was drawn to a new installation, called "Community." Artist Sharon Louden worked with community members to create this aluminum piece. It's mesmerizing. Its reflectiveness causes viewers to multiply, give it color and movement. If you're in the area while it's on view, be sure to check it out!

On Sunday, the whole Kennedy clan went to visit Biltmore, the largest private home in the United States. It's totally a spectacle, but it's very hard not to appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry of every single detail of the home, its grounds and even the estate's carefully planted forest.

 It's totally pricey, but definitely worth the visit in my book. The ticket price covers entry to the home, the gardens, the winery and more.

One small pro-tip though: it's not air-conditioned, so if you go in the summertime, be prepared. I'm so glad I keep a small container of bobby pins in my purse!

It was such a great visit back to Asheville and I'm amazed that such a small city still has so much to see and do after all the times I've been there. I can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Today I Like ... NYX Matte Lip Cream

I have a new true love, and it's an inexpensive drugstore make-up brand! I have spent no less than 4 years sampling the variety of matte lip products on the market. I've had some hits (especially with NARS products), but I've had plenty of misses, too. All I've been trying to do this whole time is get that soft pop of color you see on all the fresh-faced J.Crew models. I read a recommendation of this brand, which I frankly have never paid attention to in my local Target or CVS, and thought I'd give it a shot.

Within days, I owned not one, not two, but FOUR shades of the soft matte lip cream, a wonder product that has the consistency of mousse, vivid color with amazing depth and doesn't actually make my lips dryer than Death Valley. Just to give you a sense, I played model and snapped some pics...please note, this was AFTER a long work day.

This is the bright pink, Addis Ababa

A perfect petal pink, Milan

A bright, orange red, Amsterdam

And finally, a rich, pinker red called San Paulo

So now I basically have a shade to go with every outfit. It's a sickness, this lip cream addiction!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Best v.212

Lovely, lovely seas of ruffles from backstage at Giambattista Valli. Found here.

It's officially official: summer's halfway over. In response, I'm trekking out to any beach that will have me, soaking up the sun even when it's hiding behind the clouds and trying to wear sandals every day. When did I become such a summer addict? Who knows, but it's the promise that it will go away that makes it so sweet.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Norfolk Date Night: Field Guide and Obvious Child

Saturday night, Sean and I had a lovely date night in Norfolk, complete with alcoholic slushies and romantic comedies about unplanned pregnancies (seriously). We started our night at Field Guide, where I shamelessly ordered the same thing I've had before because it's that good. Field Guide reminds me of a hipster spin on family-style dining, seating you at long tables with strangers (but you're not expected to share). Your drinks come in jars, your food comes on mismatched plates and your menu has suggested events to check out around town. 

We started off with the Tennessee Whiskey and Grape slushies, which were the perfect thing.

I had the Privateer, a root beer-braised brisket sandwich topped with a smoked honey cheddar sauce and greens. Mmmmmm mmmm good. (And bad for my health...lord, I've fallen off the wagon since Savannah!)

We had cause to celebrate: Sean's new prescription sunglasses came from Warby Parker!

After we stuffed our bellies even further with gelato and carrot cake from YNot, we ventured to see Obvious Child, starring Jenny Slate as a woman who gets pregnant in a one night stand and faces the prospect of getting an abortion while possibly falling for the father of her baby. Heavy stuff (and controversial stuff), but I have to tell was really good. It also introduced me to Gabe Liedman, my new favorite.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Today I Like ... Silk Scarves

 I had a thing for silk scarves when I was a young girl. I remember tying them in my ponytails, wearing them as kerchiefs, belts, headbands and beyond. I was always a 50's-obsessed kid, so no surprise there. But lately, especially as I've been seeing so many cool designs popping up in the silk scarf world, I've had them stuck on my mind again. I'm bringing 'em back into my repertoire! Let's get some styling inspiration, shall we? There's always the necktie...

 The fancy lady cravat, as modeled by Betty Draper...

 The effortless chic wrap-and-tie shown by Claudia Schiffer...

 the glamorous Hermes sling on the glamorous Grace Kelly...

 The head-and-sunglasses combo immortalized by Jackie Kennedy...

And the knot necklace, worn by Kate Middleton. 

And me, modeling my favorite easy breezy version: the triangle tie back.

Modern Square Scarves

silk scarves

  1. I am seriously coveting this $195 turquoise print scarf by Nectar and Light.
  2. Get some worldly flair with a tasseled square scarf from Johnny Was for $86.
  3. I've had Emerald Grippa's scarves on my wish list for a long time! $150.
  4. A cat lady like me can't resist Leah Goren's whimsical Picasso Cats scarf, $96.
  5. And if you don't have that much cash to drop on a scarf, Ann Taylor Loft's scarves are affordable and chic at $36.
You can also always scoop some vintage ones up at vintage clothing shops and antique stores! I have a couple I love, including this equestrian one I just scooped up on Saturday (shown above).

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday Best v.211

Picasso with his portraits of Dora Maar.

I had a thrill of a weekend at the front end (more on that later) and an indulgent do-nothing day today, during which I finished a book, had a pin-a-thon, watched the World Cup, went for a walk and now it's pizza time. Let's be frank, it's always pizza time.
  • I love the song Fancy, but this writer has a point. We might deserve a better song of summer.
  • People thought Steven Spielberg killed a dinosaur.
  • Men need to stop calling women crazy.
  • You're not imagining it: work is the worst in your early 30s.
  • What if Indiana Jones were denied tenure.
  • A surprisingly lovely story about aircraft carriers.
  • How to ride a bike in a skirt
  • Also, via Joanna's blog: help identify Grandpa's Photos.
  • It's tomato sandwich season! Time to celebrate with this classic column from a Hampton Roads legend.
  • Get the tissues! A dog's last day.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage

What kind of sorcery witchcraft turns this ... 

Into this...

Craziness! I know I'm a little late to the spaghetti squash party, but now that I showed up, I'm thinking I may never leave. 

It seems like absolute magic that you can put two halves of a squash on a baking sheet in an oven preheated to 350 degrees, cook for 40 minutes, shred each half with a fork and suddenly have a plate of 70-calorie spaghetti. 

Let's be real: it doesn't taste exactly like pasta. It's still a veggie. But it's such a perfectly mild-tasting veggie, strong enough to stand up to a meat sauce without getting soggy and soft enough to mimic the consistency of pasta. 

Cooking squash this way seems like a fairly new phenomenon (I don't remember anyone's mom serving this at a sleepover!), but spaghetti squash apparently has been cultivated and grown in the U.S. since at least the 1930s. Do a search on Pinterest and you'll find a spaghetti squash recipe to replace every favorite pasta dish you ever had...can I get an amen for that?

Have you tried it? What's your favorite spaghetti squash cooking trick or recipe? Do tell, because I'm looking for inspiration!