Baby Ethan could be here any day now, and though his sweet mommy is only working with us a few hours a week, we couldn't let the occasion go by without throwing even the tiniest of showers for her. A couple of coworkers and I put together a little celebratory moment to help prepare Britni and Blake for their upcoming arrival. The menu was simple- cake and punch- and since the nursery design incorporates a giraffe, I had to use orange as one of the colors. Paired with gray chevron, we were set for a lovely gathering at the end of our work day.
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
I clearly love a holiday, any reason at all actually to celebrate something makes me super happy, so July 4th is not excluded. I think we have celebrated the nations' birthday in several fun ways over the years- from picnics at Callaway Gardens, family pool parties and bbqs, watching fireworks in jeeps, etc. This year we were fortunate to be with some pretty stellar people at the beach. I made a couple of festive treats, found glow in the dark patriotic tattoos for the sweet children who we were with, and even found some crazy red and blue sparkle straws to spruce up our cocktails. There is little more American than the seashore (one of the many things that comes to mind when I think of an all American Celebration) so we took advantage of the proximity to oysters and enjoyed a few dozen with mimosas for a late lunch after our boat ride. The company was excellent, the funk band was almost as awesome as Parker's Band (my all time favorite local band), and the salty air made even the rain seem pleasant. Cheesy or not, we are blessed to be Americans and that is reason enough to celebrate! Hope you were able to spend the holiday with people you loved, eating something fantastic, and enjoying music, fireworks, or whatever form of summer entertainment you enjoy!
My entire life I have been served some very good food. Of course, I am biased in thinking that my family goes beyond the norm to create delicious meals, but for any of you who have had the pleasure, I do think you will agree. There is little comparison, however, in the fantastic desserts that have been served from the Stanfield, Price and Harris kitchens. The list is almost never ending for how many items I have enjoyed and though my grandmothers are both in Heaven, I still delight in the treats they served me growing up. In the middle of June, I was stoked to find time for a quick beach trip to to spend some time with some friends who I think of as family and meet my brother's girlfriend for the first time. Since this blog includes those times we celebrate, I thought it only appropriate that I write about this trip and celebrate my family's cooking heritage by showing off the slice of perfection that we enjoyed around the patio table over looking the beach. Hannah was delightful and cooked some of her own family recipes- which couldn't have been more darling, but also delicious! One of the items was called Luscious Berries with Custard Sauce ( need I say more).
My father turned his hint of jealousy of not being able to join us to good use and made us biscuits and cinnamon rolls for our breakfast and sent one of his fantastic caramel cakes, as seen below:
I have often eaten his layered caramel cake, but until now, I don't remember ever eating his cream cheese pound cake with caramel icing. It is not for the faint of heart- but at the first bite, you will NEVER forget how delicious the taste is! I love that my parents learned to appreciate cooking from their mothers/grandmothers and I am equally thankful that they instilled the love for food in my brother and me. Here's to many more good meals around a table with loved ones!
Friday, June 21, 2013
The morning after the retirement party, I was excited to host a brunch for my sweet friend Christina to celebrate her upcoming wedding. Brunch is likely my favorite party to host, so anytime I can coerce my friends in that way, I like to chose brunch as the meal for the party. The menu was made up of some of my favorites and one new item that I was excited to share. My Grandmother's blueberry muffins, my aunt Christy's cheesy grits casserole, bacon and cheddar quiche, and fruit salad served in sugar cones with fresh whipped cream. No brunch is complete without my father's buttermilk biscuits and this time he shaped them in the perfect scalloped edge half dollar size. Along side the biscuits I served sliced ham and my mother's peach preserves.
After the gifts were opened, dessert was served. Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing and a White Cake with Raspberry Filling and Cream Cheese Icing.
After almost 27 years of work for Auburn University, my mother retired on May 31st. Since March my cousin and brother and I have been planning a surprise reception and the first Friday in June finally came. What better reason for cake and champagne than a retirement party and a surprise one at that. Family from North Carolina, Louisiana, and other parts of Alabama came as well as some of my mother's oldest friends from high school from as far away as Albany, Georgia. My very talented Aunt was there to document the evening and all of the party pics can be found on her website: christystanfield.smugmug.com
Dark Chocolate with Cream Cheese Frosting
Lemon Tiramisu Shooters
Baby Banana Bundt Cakes with Dark Chocolate Drizzle
Oreo Cheesecake (made by my talented friend Marsha Darden)
Individual Strawberry Shortcakes with Fresh Whipped Cream to Dollop on top
Cheerwine Punch and Coffee Punch
Sorbet Sparklers and Champagne
And Of Course Cookie Favors
The party was super fun and I appreciate those who came from far and near to surprise such a sweet and hardworking woman! Cheers to your retirement Mom! May your next 27 years be exponentially more fun than the last!!
I was hired to create party plans and flowers for a couple of different graduation parties. The first was held at a local restaurant and the other held at the home of one of the graduates. No matter what the theme, I find it true that little details make the big picture seem so much more cohesive. Whether it is repeating the pattern of the table runner on the dessert picks and on the food cards, to using similar flowers for the centerpieces as in the powder room- when you find a party with intentional components aimed at pleasing the guests at every turn- even those that surprise you- you will find a party that is executed as close to perfect as one can make it.Though I know I have a long way to go to find that perfection, it thrills me to think I find myself on a similar journey as my grandmothers did each time they hosted a garden club luncheon, a bridal shower, or holiday dinners with the family.
For the second year, I have had the honor to create flowers for an AU Vet School event and this year I was excited to add a few additional events for them as well. I love that they keep the tradition of using orange and blue flowers for their centerpieces, and while some people I know grow very weary of finding more ways to use orange and blue, I welcome it!
As if we didn't have enough fun projects going on, my sweet husband decided that we should add "Turkey Farmer" to our resumes- though, I can take no credit in the care for these birds. I guess Jay appreciates my passion for cooking sustainable food. Anyone interested in a heritage turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner?
In mid-April, I had the pleasure of working the wedding of a friend's daughter. After months of planning, it was time to create all the flowers for the ceremony and reception and coordinate the events of the wedding day. The weather could not have been more beautiful- gorgeous sunshine and perfect temperatures.
The Bride chose shades of ivory and blush colored flowers- mostly gorgeous hydrangeas and I added pops of bright pink and silvery foliage to frame the bouquets and arrangements.
Two Tall Arrangements for the Altar and Personalized Pew Markers for the Parents' Pews
The reception was held poolside at the home of one of the Bride's Family friends. As the son began to set, the candlelight glistened from the tables and the candles hanging from mason jars around the premises. It was beautiful!
It took one batch and then thankfully the orders starting coming in. I've always made sugar cookies as favors for parties. I use a consistently delicious recipe from Coastal Living (Sugar Cookie Recipe) and they always turn out the same.
The first order was for a friend's daughter's birthday. She also asked that create a chalkboard sign for the party.
I had the pleasure of making cookies for a local women's club, several graduation parties, the birth of a friend's grandson, and some birthday dinners.
Whether individually wrapped or delivered in a box, I think these cookies are a delicious way to celebrate so many occasions. I would love to make some for you...
For the past few years, I have had the pleasure of creating prom bouquets for a sweet family friend. This year was especially fun because Abbey was soon to graduate and had designed her own prom dress- a beautiful emerald green gown with beautiful gold trim on the back. She plans to study graphic design in the fall and received several scholarships. This year's flowers were neutral to allow her dress to be the focus.
Another sweet family friend, also a graduating senior/scholarship recipient asked that I create her bouquet too. She wore a beautiful purple gown and asked for specific colors for her bouquet to compliment the dress.
Both of these girls have proven to be outstanding young women and will continue to grow into the people God made them to be. I will be cheering for their success!
Last year I had the great fortune of hosting a baby shower for my sweet friend Michele's new baby, (Baby Shower)
and I was thrilled when she asked if I would help her prepare for Baby E's First Birthday. The theme was one near to my heart- a sweet shop. My Aunt Polly created a huge appetite for me for sweets, so I figured I could help with no problem.
First I did invitations- cute cupcakes with foil paper bottoms and cute pink and purple tops with a candle coming out of the top. Then for the table, I made cute candy topiaries and balloon topiaries to flank either side of the cake. The cake was made by one of my talented friends, Britni Ingram. It was not only super cute, (the icing was the exact same celadon green as the birthday girl's dress with colored dots and large gumballs at the base) but so delicious too! For one of the favors (guests also filled treat bags with candy), I made pinwheel cookies and wrapped them like pieces of candy. The party was deliciously sweet and a success!
A sweet friend of mine asked me to cater a brunch for a group of very special people. I chose a bright pink, orange, and yellow color scheme after finding some super cute Mara Mi napkins which gave me the opportunity to incorporate my favorite flower, the daffodil.
The menu included most of my favorite brunch foods:
Spinach and Strawberry Salad with my Grandmother's Vinaigrette, Grape Salad, Brie En Crute, Chicken Salad Croissant Sandwiches, a couple of flavors of Mini Muffins, and Bacon Cheddar Quiche. Dessert was a fantastic cupcake bar with Strawberry Cupcakes, Carrot Cupcakes, and Dark Chocolate Cupcakes. To gild the lily just a little more I also served Ghirardelli Brownie Bites, and Glazed Lemon Cookies with a side of milk.
Friday, February 1, 2013
We started NYE with a fantastic "treat yoself" style breakfast. Croissants and Champagne.
Since then, we have treated ourselves to a few more delicious breakfasts at home in keeping with a resolution to avoid busyness for the sake of it.
Banana's Foster Sauce for wholewheat waffles...
French toast with hot peach syrup and freshly squeezed orange juice...
And a dessert that had to be shared. My mom found a pizzelle maker from 1992 that she was given and never used. I was delighted to find it not only worked, but helped make this cannoli like treat of Nutella Mousse with sliced bananas drizzled in chocolate ganache.
Luckily I did a little bit of fun work in January too. Another flower job for AUF- hydrangeas only, invitations for a bridal shower held the week of Valentine's, and somewhere in the month I coordinated a 50th anniversary vow renewal celebration and worked with a couple of wedding clients for the coming year.
Jay and I have enjoyed time in the kitchen at night after work. Typically you can find one of us working on a meal, the other researching "projects" from building turkey houses to craft projects or catching up on our twitter and tumblr feeds. If you were to stop by, you would be greeted with the sounds of Mumford and Sons and offered a cocktail. Its our therapy and time to enjoy each other. I took some left over crab dip and turned into a darling appetizer of crab toast points with thyme.I think they were better than the dip was.
One night we made this pasta dish that was sort of a throw back to our college days when we often found ourselves eating at a Macaroni Grill and drawing on the table.
This was sort of our version- lighter might I add- of Penne Rustica.
We have some dear friends that we don't see too often. She is a fantastic cook and we hosted them for a dinner in December. She made this super decadent peanut butter and chocolate tart. It looks extra special sitting on that Elizabeth salad plate!
And since I was given a few fun doughnut pans for Christmas last year, I wanted to post a pic of one from a platter I made to take to work one morning. Its nice to have a lighter version of a treat that everyone loves.
December started out with a repeat of a new tradition from last year. Gingerbread House building with the "nieces". I felt a little sad to send them home with their parents after their candy intake, but that is what an aunt is for right?
Another tradition that continued was my cookie swap- this year was the 4th Annual. The cookies just get more impressive and delicious!
And another fun tradition that actually started before I was born and reinstated a few decades later- Christmas Eve Brunch at my parents' house.
Each year we make Southern Living's Grand Strawberries and Oranges, see the recipe here:
It is beautiful and fantastic!
The fall of the year brought invitations to fun parties and dinners, beach trips, and a flower job for a friend at church. I couldn't resist another chance to make the paper bag broomsticks so I shared those with the hostesses for a pregame bonfire at a lovely home in the "Beehive Neighborhood" in Auburn.
I found a small farmer's market in Opelika that supplied me with my fill of small pumpkins that were used for my fall table at home.
Jay and I were super fortunate to take two late beach trips. The first was with my family and we had a glorious time in Sea Grove. The girls took sometime together in Seaside one morning and made a stop for a beach side treat- a Lobster Roll and a little bubbly.
Fall flower combinations are endless, but I was able to find these beautiful stems to create an arrangement for a friend.
My family is made up of some of the best cooks I know. Not to mention, they taught me and inspired me how to make and do so many things. I had to snap a shot of my plate from Thanksgiving. The table was surrounded by such wonderful people. The food was fantastic and so colorful. I am so thankful to be a part of that family!!!
In late September I had the pleasure to help style a very dear friend's daughter's birthday. She also asked that I make a few goodies to add to her menu so I made cheese straws in the shapes of crowns, and cupcakes in three flavors. I made the cookie slippers and the slipper favors- both in Cinderella blue. My friend is super generous and the guests enjoyed their time at the Bibity Bobity Boo Affair.