Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Indulge me - strawberry lemonade

Image from Star5112

So I have a thing for Southern food (no idea why). While in San Francisco we ate at the fabulous Famer Brown's, where BCB and I had candied sweet potato and grits and succotash and hush puppies and fried catfish for the first time ever. Fabulous. So from the nearby Borders I purchased The Glory of Southern Cooking (even the title is wonderful) to recreate those wonders at home. Last night we had mac'n'cheese for the first time in my life.

But before that, I used up some slightly squishy strawberries and excess lemons making strawberry lemonade. It was delicious and easy (and not too sweet), and might be something to consider for a summer kitchen tea, or to serve straight after the ceremony. So here's the recipe:

1.5 cups water
1 cup of sugar
1.5 cups fresh lemon juice (6 - 8 lemons)
1 cup of ripe fresh strawberries, stems cut off and cut into quarters
1L club soda water

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir until sugar dissolves (about 2 minutes).

Let the sugar syrup cool a little, then stick it in a blender with the lemon juice and strawberries. Blitz until smooth. Chill.

To serve, stir the club soda into the lemonade base.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Awesome proposal

So I'm a fan of proposals involving livestock. But I think anyone would be in awe of this awesome feat - spelling out 'Marry Me Jenna' with thousands of live sheep in a paddock! Find the whole story at Studio Home Creative.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Priscilla of Boston

So Glamour Closet was supposed to be my only bridal shopping. But wandering around downtown SF I couldn't help but notice the giant, giant Priscilla of Boston sign. And online window shopping meant I knew I really liked some of their lines (Melissa Sweet especially). And they sell their own samples in store, rather than on-selling to places like Glamour Closet. So I found myself heading in, without an appointment, just for a little peek. Ha.

Image from SF Yelp

I was sold. The salon looked so glam. There were so many beautiful gowns. They keep all their samples for sale in a room out the back, and were only too happy to show me through. They were all arranged by size, and I was only 'allowed' to look at those within two sizes of myself so that alterations would be realistically possible. I was shown each gown in turn, and said yay or nay. That done, they made an appointment for me to come back later in the day and try on the gowns I picked out. When I came back there was a whole new rack of sample gowns for sale. Because the new collections have been released, just that afternoon the salons had been told which dresses were being discontinued and thus to be pulled from the racks. So I picked out a few more! Yay!

Condition varied from 'Has anyone ever even tried this on?' to 'Oo... okay... gonna need a clean and some new buttons.' I tried on one gown, and my sales assistant told me (I couldn't see) that there were a lot of snags in the back where the train had caught on some beading, and that she wouldn't let me buy it, because the damage was too bad and irreparable. The majority would need a dry-clean (no stains, just dust/ grime), and lost buttons seemed to be the most common problem. Really close examination revealed the tiniest runs on some gowns, one had a pleat that had been untacked. Gowns at 40 - 50% off.

Glamour Closet/ A not-quite-new dress

So, I'm sure a review of a second-hand gown store in the USA isn't terribly relevant to most of my readership, but I'm going to give it anyway. Well, the focus will be more on the pros and cons of the second-hand gown market. It's not something that's terribly common in Australia, but given my exposure to US blogs, I'd already been poring over OnceWed and PreOwnedWeddingDress.

I'd first considered a vintage dress, but I own a few frocks from the 1940s onwards, and vintage invariably does mean some imperfections and greater delicacy. Well, a second-hand or sample gown isn't much different from vintage, aside from the age. It would give me the opportunity to wear a gown I couldn't otherwise afford (how great is this Vera Wang at about 75% off?). And re-using is definitely an environmentally friendly option.

So, Glamour Closet. The gowns varied, from really very, very lightly worn, to 'Oh my god, you're trying to sell this?!' (I picked out a beautiful crochet lace gown, only to find out it had gaping holes down the front). The variety was nice. I found the prices to be high compared to the online sites, but I quickly worked out that often what you can't tell from a picture, or the gown on the rack, how it will look on you. So I really appreciated to chance to shop other than online.

I did find a very pretty dress, at $2700 from around $8000, I believe. But it made me feel like an ice princess - beautiful, serene, shy. To be honest, on my wedding day, I want to feel sassy. I want to saunter down that aisle, not tiptoe. Also $2700 (+ sales tax + currency conversion) was more than I wanted to pay. So it was not the gown.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Wedding stuff while on holiday

So. BCB and I are in San Franscisco right now. We went to Borders last night and I reveled in the fact that Martha Stewart Weddings magazine is $6, instead of $15. It feels a little odd looking at the ads and knowing I could actually go to the stores they advertise, if I wanted. There was also a magazine called New York Bride (or possible New York Weddings, I forget). Obviously much of it is location-specific, but the style/ feel was very much me. In fact, their invitations spread featured my second favourite invitation choice.

Sadly, the bridal departments of Saks and Nieman Marcus both closed late last year (a result of the GFC, I guess?) I am intending to check out Glamour Closet, which sells ex-sample gowns. But that's the full extent of intended bridal shopping.

We have, however, stumbled on some amazing art galleries in the area. Just before we left Perth, BCB and I booked our wedding photographer, who turned out to be about half the price we budgeted. "Hoorah for under-budget us!" we foolishly thought to ourselves... now we're trying to decide if we can blow the extent of that saving on some art for us. Like, a wedding present to ourselves, right?

Monday, November 2, 2009

nice stinky stuff

Image by Lisa

I've read a bit about choosing a special Bridal Perfume, and this always struck me as being one of the stupid things marketed to women getting married to encourage them to buy more Stuff. But maybe that's because I've never been that in to perfume.

In my adult life I've only ever regularly worn one perfume - Clarins Eau Dynamisante. But recently I've been wanting to change it up a little. I wanted, to be honest, something in a prettier bottle. But where to start? Well, Sephora have a neat fragrance finder, where you can enter your favourite perfume and it'll suggest what else you might like. Or, you might go to Fragrantica and look up your favourite, then search for other perfumes with similar notes. Or check out the reviews at Base Notes.

But you can't buy a perfume without smelling it first. Which is where The Perfumed Court comes in. They sell sample-sized vials of just about every perfume you can imagine - including discontinued and vintage ones. My first order was whittled down to, uh, eleven samples. All arrived within a fortnight, safely packaged. And it's been so much fun trying them all out. I definitely recommend the site.

And the winners out of my chosen samples? Miller Harris' Fleurs de Sel, L'eau Diptyque and Eau D'Italie's Sienne L'Hiver.