Monday, October 14, 2013

Do Me A Favor


Brrrrr..it is a chilly day here in Chapel Hill..and I LOVE IT.  It is truly reminiscent of a childhood spent growing up in Western New York. My sleepy little hometown is a place where Fall is ushered in by the smell of apples from the orchard, the sounds of the wind whipping through the colorful leaves and the feeling that the only warmth that you might find is in a mug of hot cider...YUM.  Well..since I have grown up I have abandoned the hometown and the hot cider and have replaced it with the comfortable weather of Chapel Hill and my favorite Fall beverage...a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks. (which I am sipping right now)
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The weather has completely inspired me to share with you my favorite Fall favors. These are not just your average favors.  Gone are the days of candied almonds wrapped in tulle and tied with a bow.  These favors will really impress your guests and trust me...they will be talking about them for a long time.
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Favors can be many things.  They can be a little treasure to take away and savor alone or they can be a treat or libation to enjoy together.
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Here are my "Favor"ites
Seasonal Martinis
You want to do me a favor at an event...serve me one of these. 
Apple Cinnamon Toast Martini
Ingredients
1 1/4 oz Smirnoff Green Apple Twist Vodka
1/2 oz Goldschlager
Dash of Green Apple Jell-O
Sliced Apple on Top
Cinnamon rim
Garnish with Cinnamon stick,Apple Slice
Mix all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into a Chilled Martini Glass rimmed with cinnamon. Garnish.
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Chai Martini
I love anything that is served in a creative way...and aren't these just adorable
2 oz Vanilla Vodka
2 oz Chilled Chai Tea
1 1/2 oz Orange Liqueur
Cinnamon Stick
Combine the Vodka, Tea, and Orange Liqueur in a cocktail shaker with ice.
Shake vigorously
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Donut Bread Pudding with Espresso Whipped Cream
I have been making some version of this recipe for ages. 
Who needs a plain old Krispy Kreme when you can have this?
1 1/2 dozen glazed doughnuts, cut into sixths
1 quart heavy cream
2 cups milk
10 large egg yolks
2 large whole eggs
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup brewed espresso, chilled
Bread Pudding has to be my favorite "to go" favor!

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Chocolate Covered Bacon Caramel Popcorn
Whether you want to serve it tableside or package it in a cute bag to take home...this is just SINFUL and yes the bacon is AMAZING!
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Gelato
I have eaten gelato in I think about 20 countries and I can assure you that Sugarland on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill has some of the best.  My Fall favorites...Pecan Pie and Mexican Chocolate! Mmmmm. 
It is so much fun to pass these at a party. 
A true crowd pleaser!
Speaking of Sugarland...they host a couple more of my favorites..
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Caramel Apples

Oh how I love caramel apples...it's something about the chewiness of the caramel combined with the tart juice of the apple.  I know that as soon as the apple harvest starts in the mountains that Sugarland is going to be dipping these into everything imaginable...from candies, to pretzels, to chocolate and more...
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Cupcakes..Cupcakes..Cupcakes
Barbara Mandrell used to sing a song called "I Was Country...When Country Wasn't Cool"  Well let me tell you I was obsessed with cupcakes before they became the hottest ticket in town. 
Cupcakes are by far the most popular event favor. 
What is being served up for Fall?...Pumpkin Spice Cakes with Cream Cheese Cinnamon Icing

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Latte Shooters
What a great way to keep your guests going! They can be served with or without alcohol.
 The flavor combinations are endless.
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My Ulimate Favor Pick
French Macaroons
If you have never had a french macaroon you just don't know what you are missing. 
 I once stood in line in for two hours in the freezing cold just so I could have a few from my favorite pastry shop in Paris...Laduree....or as I like to refer to it...heaven on earth.
I didn't realize how crazy I was about these little treasures until I stepped off of the tour bus with a bag of them and tripped.  With my face quickly approaching the ground all I could think was..oh no...my macaroons are going to be crushed.  I did the only thing I could think of. I threw the bag in the air and screamed for my Dad to catch it.  They survived...and I limped back to the hotel room with a sprained knee and enjoyed every single morsel of those goodies.
Miel Bon Bons in the Historic Car Hill Mall in Carrboro, North Carolina carries these dainty French creme filled sandwiches.
In the spirit of Autumn, Miel Bon Bons has just added a
Cinnamon Macaroon with a Hazelnut Praline Creme to its menu.
There is a flavor for everyone!
Package them in boxes or serve them in a champagne glass.
  These are especially adorable for wedding and baby showers.
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Enjoy the Fall season!
All of these items and so many more are available for your events at The Carolina Inn

I think I'll head to Sugarland before the big game for my gelato and a cupake. 
Once the sugar rush kicks in I should be able to properly cheer for UNC!
Go Heels!
Do Me A Favor...Try some of these goodies!



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Southern Wedding Traditions

As a northern girl living in the south it has been extraordinarily fun to discover the southern "way of life". Words are a little longer, tea is a lot sweeter, and bacon is its own food group (thank god).
I had never even heard of boiled peanuts or pimento cheese until I crossed the North Carolina state line.
I love the south and when it comes to its wedding traditions they are simply nothing less than as warm  and inviting as a Carolina blue sky!
Here are few of my favorites.....
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THE MASON JAR
If you know me...you know that I adore anything that comes in a mason jar.
Not only can you use these little charmers for drinking sweet tea but fill them with jam or pickled cucumbers and you have a fabulous favor.
Mason jars can be used as centerpeices when filled with pretty flowers and brides have even found creative ways to use them as luminaries.

BRIDAL PORTRAITS
Yes, this is a tradition that many brides partake in but bridal portraits are especially important to southern brides.
Years ago having a photographer at at wedding was pretty unusual so this was the only way that one had to keepsake wedding day memories.
THE HANDKERCHIEF
The wedding handkerchief is often passed down from mother to daughter.
Early farmers believed that a brides wedding day tears were lucky and would bring rain for their crops later.  A crying bride meant that she would never shed another tear about her marriage. 
The "Hankie" remains a time honored tradition.
THE GROOM'S CAKE
I will never forget the scene in Steel Magnolias when the groom's cake was a grey armadillo with red velvet cake inside. 
The groom's cake has always been a gift from the bride to the groom and dates all the way back to the Victorian era.
This charming custom gives the groom a little attention on a day that otherwise belongs to the bride.
The bride will usually have a cake made that represents an aspect of the groom's personality.
 Another interesting fact that I found was that many years ago it was usually a part of the groom's cake that was actually soaked in liquor, wrapped, and stored for the couple to enjoy on their first anniversary.
In addition, other pieces of the cake would be given to the single lady guests who would in turn take it home and sleep with it under their pillows, whereupon they would supposedly dream of the man that they would marry...here's to hoping ladies!
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THE CAKE PULL
Another one of my favorites! 
Luck charms are paced inside the bottom layer of the wedding cake with ribbons attached. 
The single ladies and bridesmaids would then pull these out before the cake was cut. 
Each charm has a different meaning!
Ring-Next To Be Married
Star-Dreams Will Come True
Anchor-Adventure
Flower-Blossoming Love
Eiffel Tower-Travel
Wreath-A Happy Home
Kite-Fun on the Horizon
THE PARASOL
The hot southern sun can get to a girl on her wedding day.
  kimberley + john9
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THE MONOGRAM
If it stops moving long enough....a southern girl will monogram it!
Everything from napkins, to aisle runners, to cake toppers. 
BURY THE BOURBON
What?  I had never heard about this one. 
I am not sure how my boss will feel about me starting to plant a bourbon garden but I am willing to find out.
Exactly one month before the ceremony bury the bottle on the site where the couple is to be married. 
The bottle must be full and buried upside down.
According to southern folklore, if you carry out this plan,  it won't rain on your wedding day!
THE SIGNATURE DRINK
Southern brides and grooms love this one.
They want to pick cocktails that are unique to them and their wedding colors.
I have seen everything from bourbon and tea to honeydew and vodka.
SOUTHERN CUISINE
The heart of  southern tradition is serving up dishes that are filling and comforting at the same time.
For many southern belles the way to a man's heart is through his stomach!
  It is also the best way to show affection for wedding guests.   
Feed friends and family foods filled with love.
Biscuits, macaroni and cheese, shrimp and grits.....these are just a few that say I LOVE YOU better than any other.
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A wedding in the SOUTH is a big deal. It is full of old traditions, timeless etiquette, phenomenal food, and exquisite charm. 
If you are lucky enough to be a true southern belle....or at the very least aspire to be one
 you are sure to have a day that is as charming as it is memorable.
For more Southern Traditions visit us at:


Monday, April 15, 2013

Our Top Ten Secrets to a FUN Wedding Reception

Every bride dreams of a beautiful wedding filled with pretty things, yummy food, and friends and family that come from far and wide to celebrate the day! Yes..this day is all about you and your groom....but don't you want it to be fun for everyone?
Here are some secrets (well they are actually proven to be successful) ideas for a FUN wedding reception.
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PICK AN UNFORGETTABLE GUESTBOOK IDEA
Do you really want everyone to sign their name in a book that may collect dust? Here are some ideas for a memorable keepsake that can be displayed in your home.
Puzzles...
A sentimental item
I still think that thumbprints are sweet and cute!
Have your guests sign a piece of artwork that can be hung in your home!
Jenga...Wouldn't it be fun to do this every year on your anniversary?
Silhouette Guest Book
Did you know that The Carolina Inn offers custom silhouettes that can be framed?  Ask a catering manager about the details.
Instagram your wedding...you can have the guests write notes on instagram and have them printed off at a later day. (check out iprintagram for more info)
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HIRE A CLASS ACT
WOW your guests during the cocktail reception with a mariachi or a big easy type of band. 
PLAY DANCEABLE MUSIC
Whether you hire a band or a DJ ....make sure that the music never stops (even if they need to take a break..plan what is going to happen during these time...this will avoid the death of the party)
DJ YOUR OWN SONG
WHAT???  That's right..its the trend right now...pick a song that you love (I know I'd be jammin to Suit and Tie by Justin Timberlake) and get everyone excited and on the dance floor.
KEEP THE TOASTS SHORT
....and arranged...and rehearsed.  Nothing is worse than having a best man babble on for 15 minutes about college parties or all people you dated before.  My golden rule...NEVER open the toasts up for anyone who would like to participate!
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ADD A LOUNGE AREA
This will help to keep guests entertained even when they are not dancing...and if they don't want to dance what a great place to just sit and relax. 
Hill Ballroom
Old Well Ballroom
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MAKE THE FOOD FUN
Bump your bar up a notch and do a beer, wine, whiskey, or margarita tasting station
SERVE SWEETS AND TREATS
How fun would be to have a food truck pull in at the end of your wedding serving great smelling donuts
or a nostalgic ice cream truck...I would be one excited guest if I saw this coming!
Plan an interactive food station
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PLAN AN END OF THE NIGHT SURPRISE!!!
Want to be sure that your guests hang around after the cake is cut?  Plan something fun at the end of the night and create anticipation as to what it might be.
Put together a choreographed dance with your groom and/or wedding party!

Late Night Snacks...love them...and so will your guests
Fun Send Off....
Aren't all of these rose petal just gorgeous?
CHANGE INTO SOMETHING COMFORTABLE
How about a little white dress to dance the night away in?  If you are comfortable you will move more, talk more, laugh more, and eat more.  Sounds like fun to me!
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HIRE A DAY OF COORDINATOR
You've got ideas...lots of them...but who is going to keep it all in check and make the details happen?
A wedding coordinator will alleviate your stress on the day of the wedding so that you can enjoy yourself!
Megan Gillikin~A Southern Soiree
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My words of advice...remember that this is a BIG party...ask yourself..what would I have fun doing at a wedding?  I mean...you plan what to do if you are having people over for dinner at your house!  Approach your wedding day with the same enthusiasm.  There are no rules anymore...so the sky is the limit.