Monthly Archives: December 2012

I’m hosting a cookie exchange tomorrow, and I can’t wait to see what everyone brings (I’m making chocolate sablés and glazed lemon cookies). I also had a great time creating a Pinterest board to get in the cookie exchange spirit – and to save all the cookie recipes I won’t be able to make this time around. What about you – what are your favorite cookies to make for the holidays?

2-dimensional gingerbread houses.

For the cookie lovers in your life: make-your-own cookie cutter kit.

Love & Lemons’ recipe cards would be such sweet gifts or stocking stuffers.

Christmas ornament bouquet for winter brides.

Elegant holiday table runner from Farrow & Ball.

Every December issue gift guide ever (this made me laugh).

What a beautiful way to incorporate a wedding photo into your holiday cards.

A neighborly get will kit from Creature Comforts.

Have a yummy weekend everyone!

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With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was time to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a new series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage. 

Despite Megan’s successful battle with breast cancer a few years ago, the story of her marriage to Mike isn’t about dramatic ups and downs. Rather, it’s about appreciating the quiet moments in between.

Megan tells me, “When it came to advice, sadly I really don’t think we got any. We each came from split families, so when we began dating we came up with our own specific guides. We talked about what we saw work and what did not, and talked openly and made a pact about each topic.”

And after more than a decade of marriage, they have some bits of wisdom to pass on. “I married my absolute best friend and we’re very compatible, but I still found that we have seasons in our marriage just like there are in nature,” says Megan. “I didn’t expect this and wish someone had told me. Sometimes it’s boring and bleak and other times it’s abundant and warm. What I’ve learned is to recognize that it’s just a phase and the low part will pass. It’s normal to have highs and lows in all areas of life.”

The couple has used this mindset to get through both the big things, like battling breast cancer, and the smaller things, like a spilled drink in the car… Early in their marriage, Megan and Mike set out on a long drive to get a puppy. Not far into the drive, Megan dropped the drink she was sipping into her lap, covering her shorts, legs and seat with juice. Megan recounted, “I froze. Mike looked over at me, his face nervously awaiting my reaction. I looked at the mess, looked at him and busted out laughing hysterically. He took a breath and smiled with relief. I’ve always remembered that day and over the years have reminded myself to consider all of my options before reacting. I could have thrown a fit, yelled and demanded we turn back for home and the day would have been a bust. Instead we found a gas station bathroom, I rinsed my shorts in the sink, and we were on our way. And we got our puppy.”

Mike’s advice for new couples is calm and matter-of-fact, and deceptively simple. He explains, “I really don’t have a plan or any tactics to marriage other than pick the person that makes you a better person and pick the person that you always choose first to spend time with, because in the end all that time together will result in a great, long and happy marriage. When I think of something fun to do or a great place to visit Megan is always the first, and many times the only person, on the list that I want to share the adventure with.”

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
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Tarah and Tommy’s wedding was a Gatsby-inspired affair held in two unique Gothic-style venues, and Karen Hill captured it all beautifully…

Tarah’s bouquet included peonies and lily-of-the-valley.

The cocktail hour took place outside the chapel in the courtyard immediately after the ceremony.

The table numbers were a special DIY by the bride. Says Tarah, “I am an art advisor and studied art history, so I incorporated my love of art in the table numbers. I found paintings by famous artists that depicted couples or images of love, and each table number had a different painting for its background.”

Tarah and Tommy had a small cake for cutting, plus tiers of cupcakes.

Why did you choose this location for your wedding?  Tommy and I really wanted to get married in New York, even though his family is from Indiana and my family is from Pennsylvania. New York is where we met and where we call home. We wanted the convenience of a hotel venue but the charm of a more unique venue, and The Desmond Tutu Center was our perfect venue – it’s also a hotel, and we really wanted something easy for our guests. The reception took place in the Refectory which is a beautiful Gothic style hall inside the Desmond Tutu Center. Also, I always dreamed of getting married in an old church that felt intimate. The Chapel of the Good Shepherd was everything I have dreamed of and more. It’s a Gothic-style chapel that was built in 1888. Plus, Tommy and I first met on the street just three short blocks away from our venue!

What inspired you when you were planning your wedding?  Even though the setting of our wedding was surrounded by Gothic architecture, I kept going back to The Great Gatsby for inspiration. I envisioned having a party that felt like that it could’ve taken place in the 1920s.

What was your favorite moment or part of the day?  I loved everything about the ceremony. I loved walking down the aisle. I loved standing up at the altar with my husband to be. I sitting behind the altar and watching the sun shine through the stained glass windows. I loved kissing Tommy for the first time as my husband. I loved walking out of the chapel with Tommy as husband and wife into the seminary’s courtyard while the Meetles played I Want to Hold Your Hand.

What was the best advice you received as a bride?  To take a moment during the day of the wedding and to watch what’s going on around and you, to really stop and savor the special moments. It all goes by so fast.

What advice do you have for other brides?  If you make sure you’re having fun, then most likely your guests will be having fun with you, so try not stress on the day of and truly enjoy it. Things will go wrong, and it won’t be perfect, but they are all minor in retrospect, so don’t have a meltdown. It’s not worth it.


Gallery coming soon!

Photographer: Karen Hill Photography / Ceremony Venue: Chapel of the Good Shepherd at The General Theological Seminary in New York City / Reception Venue: The Desmond Tutu Center / Officiant: The Rev. Dr. Patrick Malloy, Dean and President of the General Theological Seminary, (646) 717-9791 / Bride’s Dress: Elizabeth Fillmore / Bride’s Shoes: Manolo Blahnik / Groom’s Tuxedo: Black by Vera Wang / Bridesmaid Dresses: J.Crew / Floral Designer: Tom Sebenius at Starbright Floral Design / Cocktail Hour Music: The Meetles / Reception DJ: Play Something Good / Cake: Billy’s Bakery / Photo Booth: Ish Photo Booth Rental
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Two years ago today, I married the love of my life. I would say he’s the man of my dreams, but to be honest, my dreams of the man I would one day marry never came close to who he is in reality. He makes my world bigger and cozier all at the same time. He encourages me to always be a better version of myself without ever making me feel like I’m not enough as I am. He gets me all twitterpated just by walking in the door. I love you Ryan Grady – Happy Anniversary to us!


You can see an index of our wedding posts right here, or just scroll through them all at once right here.


Photo by Elizabeth Messina.

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Perfect for the holidays, Maggie Battista has created this decadent Midnight Milk Punch for us! Serve it with cookies for a midnight snack.

From Maggie: “When eggnog cartons line grocery store shelves, I know it’s time to make my homemade version. Full of brandy, rum and whiskey, the eggnog chills in the back of the fridge, waiting for holiday visitors. I also enjoy this holiday cocktail: it’s an eggless milk punch that uses a small-batch caramel or butterscotch sauce to add instant depth. This punch can also be served warm in a teacup.”


Midnight Milk Punch
Serves 3

• 1/3 cup whole milk
• 1/3 cup heavy cream
• 2 pinches cinnamon, plus more for garnish
• 1 heaping tablespoon of caramel sauce
• 1 tablespoon maple syrup
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
• 1.5 ounces brandy

1. In a small saucepan over a medium flame, heat milk, heavy cream, cinnamon, caramel sauce, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir on and off to help dissolve the caramel. Keep on the heat for just a few minutes so you don’t scald the milk. Once the caramel is dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and let cool a few minutes.
2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the brandy and pour over the slightly cooled milk mixture. Cover and shake, shake, shake until a bit frothy. Pour into small glasses (about 4 ounces) and add an extra pinch of cinnamon to each for garnish.


Scroll down or click here for the illustrated recipe “card” from Rebekka Seale!

See the full gallery here.

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