Thursday, November 25

In All things, Give Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving! By all accounts, this post is a day late and a dollar short, however, my husband surprised me earlier this week with a well thought out trip to Charleston, so I decided to enjoy my time with him and pretty much take the week off. I did, however, take time yesterday to reflect on all of my blessings and decided to make a {very}short list of all of the things for which I am thankful: my renewed sense of faith, the ability to take this time to rejuvenate before a very busy December, my lovely family {including my darling cat, Lulu}, old friendships and new, my support system {you know who you are} and last but not least, Parker, the love of my life. I hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are ready to take on the holiday season!

Wednesday, November 24

Scenes from a Thanksgiving Supper: Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

What is a Thanksgiving meal without some fresh Pecan Pie? I like to add some chocolate and a splash of bourbon because, honestly, bourbon makes it better. Parker prefers me to use Maker's Mark, but any Kentucky bourbon will do. This was such a hit last year that my uncle gave up getting slice after slice and just sat down with the pie dish at the table. Y'all are going to want to save some of this for yourselves, so go ahead and make one for your uncle and one for you

makes two 9-inch crusts

1 ²⁄³ cups all-purpose flour mixed with ¾ tsp. kosher salt
²⁄³ cup lard
¾ tsp. white vinegar
1 small egg

Place flour and salt in bowl, and cut in lard until mixture resembles small peas. In a Pyrex measuring cup, combine vinegar and egg, and add water to make ¹⁄³ cup liquid. Slowly add liquid to the flour mixture, forming dough. Do not overwork. Remove from bowl, halve, and pat into disks. If not using immediately, cover in plastic wrap and chill.

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie Filling
fills one 9 inch pie crust

¾ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cups dark corn syrup
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 ½ tsp. all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. bourbon
1 ½ tbsp. sweet butter
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 ¾ cups pecans

Melt butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, set aside. Using a hand mixer, combine sugar, syrup, salt, flour, and eggs, mixing well. Stir in remaining ingredients and pour into unbaked pie shell.

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes (a toothpick inserted in center should come out relatively clean). Remove from oven and place on cooling rack, allowing pie to rest for 2 to 3 hours to set.

Tuesday, November 23

Scenes from a Thanksgiving Supper: Oyster Dressing

Two days until turkey time, but nothing says "Thanksgiving Dinner" to me like oyster dressing. This is my Uncle John's specialty and I look forward to it all year long. The secret to a great dressing is always simplicity. Freshly shucked oysters, cornbread baked from scratch, delicious! I would never dare reveal my uncle's recipe, so Paula's will have to do. Grab a fork and dig in!

1 cup self rising cornmeal
1/2 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

7 slices white bread, dried in warm oven
1 sleeve saltine crackers
2 cups chopped celery
1 large onion, chopped
8 tablespoons butter
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
5 eggs, beaten
2 pints or 1 quart oysters, drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the cornbread, combine all ingredients and pour into a greased shallow baking dish. Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

To make the dressing, crumble dried white bread slices, cornbread and crackers. Mix together and set aside. Saute chopped celery and onion in butter until transparent, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Pour over corn bread mixture. Add stock, mix well and add salt, pepper, sage, and poultry seasoning. Add beaten eggs and mix well. Add oysters and mix. Pour into a greased pan. Bake for about 45 minutes.

Monday, November 22

Scenes from Thanksgiving Supper: Sweet Potato Souffle

It's almost time for the most glorious of food holidays: Thanksgiving! Although not all about food, Thanksgiving is traditionally a holiday where you gather your nearest and dearest to share a meal and offer thanks for your blessings big or small. In my family, our tradition lies in Uncle John's Fabulous Thanksgiving Feast. The same menu, year after year, is served in the house on Main and when missed, is definitely worth shedding a few tears {sorry Sizemore family!}. In honor of this mouth-watering menu, I will be sharing a daily recipe to build the anticipation to a frenzied pitch. While some of these may not be the exact recipe {family secrets and all}, they are tried and tested, Carlee approved.

First up? My cousin, PJ's, Sweet Potato Souffle. Y'all, this stuff is so heavenly it's almost dessert! I say almost, because, well, it's made from a root vegetable and therefore, cannot be a dessert {I'm looking at you too, Sweet Potato Pie!}. As far as I'm concerned, SPS is a must serve at any Southern Thanksgiving and it must also include marshmallows or, once again, tears may be shed. While you may be tempted to eat this directly from the pan, do show some manners and wait until all your guests have gone. Enjoy!

PJ's Southern Sweet Potato Souffle
  • 3 large sweet potatoes cooked and whipped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 bag marshmallows {preferably, the tee-tiny ones}
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Peel and cook potatoes until tender. Drain potatoes and whip. Add sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk and vanilla. Mix well and put in a greased 1 1/2 quart casserole. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 25 minutes. Place marshmallows and pecans on top and return to oven for about 5 minutes or until brown on top. Serves 8 - 12.

Thursday, November 18

Journey with Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton is such an inspiration for me right now. Their Fall/Winter 2010-11 line was a major step {along with Mad Men} in bringing back formfitting, structured, ladylike designs. Just lovely! When I came across their core values commercial, I have to say that I was totally blown away. The wording and imagery used creates an advertisement that is merely enhanced by the product being sold. Is it the person that creates the journey or the journey that creates the person? The journey is life itself. Where will life take you? Quite fitting.

Wednesday, November 17

Cup of Tea

I have an irrational fear of traditionally small items {spoons, teacups, etc.} being supersized. With that said, I am at once terrified and enthralled with this shoot from Simply Bloom. The lighting is spectacular and I am obsessed with the sugar cube cake, not to mention the yards and yards of tulle. Perfection! This is a fabulous way to end the day. Curl up with a latte or cup of tea and enjoy!

Friday, November 12

Cotton Picked

This week has been nothing short of amazing for me. If you haven't yet, check out my before and after posts for the Making Things Happen Intensive in Phoenix. MTH has been a game changer for me, so you will slowly start noticing some changes on the blog and then I will be making a BIG announcement shortly after the new year! After an intense week, I am looking forward to seeing some of my girlfriends tonight {Congratulations, Bell!} and spending some quality time with my husband tomorrow. Before all of that, I would like you to feast your eyes on some blog loveliness,
cotton picked to help you get through the rest of the week. Enjoy!
Yummy pumpkin whoopie pies {even yummier styling}!
Photo booth, silhouette artist and bocce ball! Where do I sign up?
Down home North Carolina wedding complete with square dancing. Part I & II
Pretty San Fran wedding. Check out those florals!
Who doesn't love a man in uniform {with an engagement ring}?
This DIY mirror is to-die-for!
Loving these vintage art prints.
Ralph Lauren as a style muse? Yes, please!

Thursday, November 11

Fire in the Desert: MTH2010

Action. I have been still for far too long. Words may be spoken, promises can be made, but action garners results. On Sunday, I sat in a room with 12 other women and went all in. I laid my cards on the table and was rewarded with a sense of wellness and self-fulfillment and empowerment. Finally! I know who I am. I have let go of the past and faced my future. I have decided to be present. This is such a precious gift to myself, to my husband and to my family. My life has been changed and I am so blessed to live it each day, with authenticity, with grace and with action.

I continue to thank God and pray for the women I met in Phoenix. These are my sisters, supporters and  comrades on this journey and I am so honored to know them and to share this bond. We owned them all: our fears, our mistakes, our hopes and our wildest dreams. It was honest and real and exhilarating. Ten hours. Ten short hours and I know these women. Their successes will be my successes and their failures will be mine as well. I would not have it any other way.

And to Lara, Gina and Emily, you are on fire! Y'all are doing phenomenal work in our lives and I pray that this passion and leadership that you exude continues long after MTH2010 has come to an end. You are making a difference. I am so blessed to know you all and I look forward to what the future holds. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Wednesday, November 10

Santo & Dewi's Sweet Proposal Story

I have to admit, I shed a few tears during this sweet proposal video. Santo and Dewi are so precious together and you can just feel the love between the two of them along with their family and friends. Here is their proposal story and from Style Me Pretty, read Dewi's explanation of the video below.

Santo & Dewi Prewedding Film (Say Yes) from Paper Cranes Productions on Vimeo.

This would be one of our greatest achievements… making our own pre-wedding film. The story is based on our true relationship journey. Starting at how we met, how we normally spend time together, until one day he popped the BIG question. The main concept of this film is the re-enactment of how Santo proposed to me using a lot of point of view shots from his eyes.
As for the proposal, he had been secretly planning this project for 3 months without me knowing any of the plans. Since he loves film-making so much, he expressed the “will you marry me?” using this medium. He asked all our close friends and family across the globe to make a short message clip directed to me with the topic “Why Dewi (myself) should say YES to Jack (this is his nickname) on her birthday?

He popped the question to me on my 24th Birthday with this proposal video by showing it on a new MacBook (Yes, he also gave me this laptop as a present for my birthday). I was already so surprised when he gave me the MacBook, and then suddenly there is another surprise which I didn’t expect at all….he opened the MacBook and a log-in screen appeared. However, instead of the usual log-in screen, he had changed it to say, “Will You Marry Me?”

There were 3 different options (log in) – “Yes”, “No”, or “Call A Friend”. I was quite numb by this time. He said, “Since you are now still confused, I would say just choose “Call A Friend.” Once I clicked that … the picture of him holding a note saying “Please Click Here” appeared on the screen. Then, an arrow led me to click the proposal video. My heart was beating sooo fast…I couldn’t hold my tears throughout watching the 20 min proposal video with all the special messages from more than 20 friends and family members across the globe.

He had also secretly prepared this little handy-cam next to the MacBook just before I watched the video! I am so blessed to have him. I wouldn’t ask for a better proposal than this. This video meant so much to us. I’ve been watching this film over and over, but I still get goosebumps and cry when I watch it!

Friday, November 5

Cotton Picked

It's Friday! After a waterlogged week, we are excited to be walking around in the sunshine looking for some perfect props at Metrolina in Charlotte today. Other than our "buying trip", we've got a super-exciting Saturday trip to Phoenix planned. You can read all about that adventure and how I'm Making Things Happen here. To say we have a pretty busy weekend is a major understatement, but we still found some time to bring you something lovely to look at today. Can you tell we're in the mood for drama? Enjoy and have a great weekend!


Amazing dress, amazing portrait, amazing wedding.
Amen! Elaborate, old fashioned southern style wedding invitation.
Pretty polka dots for a pretty engagement shoot.
B&W drama at it's best!
A cake whose main ingredient is P's favorite beer. Let's get baking!

Thursday, November 4

Making Things Happen 2010

Photogen {p.s: my name is on one of those books!}

On Saturday, I will be boarding a plane to take me to a city that is going to change my life and heart forever. Quite a dramatic statement, no? I will be attending an 8 hour, no-holds barred intensive on Sunday in Phoenix designed to extinguish fear and ignite the passion to enable myself to Make Things Happen. In life, love, business. When I first heard of MTH2010 and Lara Casey, I was so in awe of the progress that the attendees were making in their lives. These people were fired up! At the moment, I was like a Girl Scout trying to start a fire with damp wood. No fire here. It was just after the first leg of the tour and I heard a tee-tiny little voice within myself saying, "You need this". Not want, but need. It was time for a blow torch and some lighter fluid.

When I was younger, we had a high dive at the country club I attended. I would love to climb the tall ladder as fast as I could, walk out to the end of the board, take in the quiet at such a height and dive, not jump, but dive into the deep end. The feeling of flight and the rush of cool water was addictive and I would hop out of the pool, head for the high dive and climb again. I long for the fearlessness of my childhood as I have spent the last year of my life slowly climbing that ladder. I'm now at the end of the board and it's time to dive!

One might ask, "Why get so personal on your company blog? Your clients may read this!". Well, for me, business is personal. As a small business owner, my business is my life. As my nearest and dearest can attest, all of the joys and frustrations of owning a business are brought into my personal life and vice versa. In my opinion, if your business isn't personal, if you can take it or leave it, well, you may be in the wrong business. I hope potential clients do run across this series on the blog. Then they will know that I am actively making myself and my business better to better serve them. What more could they ask?

I honestly do not know what to expect from my time in Phoenix {I just hope I don't "ugly cry" in front of, what are for now, strangers}. I am at once anxious and thrilled at the thought of what I will discover when I am there. For the past two years, P has been asking, "What do you want to do?". At this moment, I'm not exactly sure, but I pray to have a clearer picture when I board the plane to head back to Atlanta. Monday is P's birthday and I know without a doubt that the answer to his question would be the best present I could give. But for now, my answer is simple: Make Things Happen.

Tuesday, November 2

Leslie & B Love Shoot {Giveaway Winner}!

Without further ado, we present to you the winner of the Leslie & B love shoot giveaway!
Everyone's comments made us feel so warm and snuggly...we finally had to randomly choose a winner.
Congratulations, April! We'll be in touch with details.