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Monthly Archives: September 2015

About a year ago we shared ten of the SW’s gals favorite healthy recipes with y’all. Since the weather is turning cooler and we’re all about Cozy Fall these days, we thought we’d break out our cookbooks (and Pinterest boards) and share a few more with you, this time with a fall focus! I don’t know about y’all, but I am always on the hunt for new suggestions. I think you (and I!) will find a few here to love!

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup | We make this without the hominy because I don’t care for it. Filling and easy to throw together! – Emily
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal | Oh She Glows was one of the first food blogs I discovered, and I’ve been making her pumpkin pie oatmeal for almost as long. It’s the perfect cozy, healthy breakfast for a chilly morning. – Lisa
Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Avocado Garlic Aioli | The aioli is so good you could eat it by the spoonful. These potatoes go with everything! – Emily
Fall Pot Pies | We often don’t make this vegan because we make our own chicken broth, but everything about this recipe is amazing and makes me want to cuddle under a warm blanket by a fire. This is also a great end of week meal when we need to clean out our fridge — a lot of leftover produce goes in there, and it always tastes wonderful. – Nicole

Simple Oat & Pecan Blueberry Crisp | A breakfast that looks like dessert!! It’s a win-win. I made this literally every week earlier this year when it was still cool in the mornings and I needed a little something warm for breakfast. It’s also a recipe you can adapt to whatever you have on hand. I’ve made it with walnuts, sunflower seeds, and strawberries. I’ll make a pie plate full of it and eat a little bit for breakfast each morning with some warm almond milk. Or, if we have friends or family visiting, we’ll make a giant brunch of eggs, home fries, and green pancakes, and end the meal with this. – Nicole
Broccoli and Chicken Braided Bread | One of my very best friends makes this for parties and I always offer to take home the leftovers (except there never are any!). Now, I make this recipe for my little family and there are no leftovers at our house either. – Marissa
Kale and Wild Rice Casserole | We served this last year when friends were visiting and it was a hit! It’s now one of my go-to recipes to give to others because it’s so flexible. I follow it when we’re trying to be a little fancier, but when it’s just the two of us, we simplify by caramelizing the onions with the mushrooms and just mixing it into the casserole. We also often don’t use butter at all to feel a little healthier :) No matter which we way do it, it always tastes great. – Nicole
Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Bacon | This salad is not too intimidating to serve for guests, but healthy enough to make everyone feel good. A great way to get healthy greens in the cooler months! – Emily

Quick Tex Mex Sweet Potato Skillet | Dave and I love sweet potatoes, and this is one of our favorite ways to eat them. This one-pan meals comes together quickly on a busy weeknight and is packed with the Tex Mex flavors that we crave at least a few times a week (you can take a girl out of Texas..!). – Lisa
Perfect Roast Chicken | We take quite a few liberties with this recipe (what we stuff inside or what we marinate it in), but we ALWAYS brine it in salt and sugar for a day before we roast it. It makes all the difference (sometimes we don’t even season it because the brine is so good!). The meat always comes out juicy and makes for great leftovers that aren’t too dry. We make this when we have guests over (a roast chicken always looks good on a table!), or we’ll make it for just the two of us and use the leftovers for quesadillas :) – Nicole
Clean Turkey Chili | Is there anything better than a big bowl of chili in the fall? This is mine and Dave’s favorite recipe–it uses turkey, so it’s leaner than most chili recipes, and the jalapenos give it some great kick. We love making it when we have a football game to watch, as a hearty Sunday supper (it makes tons of leftovers for lunches during the week!), or on Halloween (one of my family’s traditions). – Lisa
Sausage and Broccolini Risotto | Risotto often gets a bad rap because people think it’s labor-intensive, but the versions you bake in the oven couldn’t be easier! There are so many ways to switch up the flavors, but this is one combination we love. – Emily

And bonus! Two more favorites from Kristin!
Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce | I used to be terrified of spaghetti squash, but conquered my fear with this recipe. Now this is a staple for weeknight dinners in the fall. I can even use the time that the squashes are baking to go for a walk or clean up the house! We even mix the sauce in the squash and pop it back in the over for a few minutes with cheese on top for a spaghetti squash bake!
Banana Nut Muffins | These are hands-down the best banana nut muffins on the planet. I think the secret is that you whip the bananas and sugar together into fluff! They are the perfect Saturday morning treat (especially if you have overnight company)!!

emily Written with love by Emily

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Hi belles! Every season we like to find a way to get to know you more, and to share our hearts. To dovetail with our current Cozy Fall focus, each of the Southern Weddings gals will be sharing our favorite ways to simplify and get cozy in our home lives over the next few months. We hope our ideas are helpful as you work to streamline and simplify your own lives for what matters most!

Photo by Blue Ribbon Vendor Katelyn James

Say howdy to: Kristin Winchester, our Client Relations Director

Favorite simple beauty routine or product: My first thought was my shower cap (ha!). I am an infrequent hair-washer (y’all would be shocked), and I love having something that keeps my hair from getting wet. And clearly a good dry shampoo goes hand-in-hand with my shower cap! Simplify and extend a good hair day a few more days? Yes, please! Also, taking care of my skin is important, especially as I get older. Insert my favorite Clarisonic brush to get all the makeup off at the end of the day and a good night cream (currently Philosophy Nighttime Hope in a Jar) to plump up my skin while I’m sleeping!!

Favorite simple fall activity: Two words: Apply Cider. It’s not officially fall in our house until I make the first batch of apple cider. In terms of simple and fall, this might take the cake. I combine a jug of organic apple juice and Williams-Sonoma mulling spices and let it simmer on the stove until our house smells amazing and I can’t wait one more minute to pour myself a glass. I store the leftovers in a glass jar in the refrigerator, and heat up a mug at night while we are curled up on the sofa watching television.

Favorite tech device/app/strategy: Admittedly, I love how Em uses the native Notes app and I have similar lists of things I need handy. I am a big fan of a few apps that help me execute things saved in my Notes–think restaurants to try (Open Table), favorite coffee orders for friends (Starbucks) and books to read (Kindle).

Favorite morning routine that simplifies your life: We make the bed every day (except Sundays). I think that this sets the mood for the day, and I really love turning down the covers and climbing in bed at night. I’m also a BIG advocate of eating breakfast and love having easy-to-grab (healthy-ish) breakfast options at our finger tips. A few of our favorites: Oatmeal Bars (can be frozen and thawed in the microwave), Baked Oatmeal, and Luna Bars with a side of fruit.

Favorite evening routine that simplifies your life: Besides wiping down the counters and loading the dishwasher to leave things fresh and ready for the next day, we set the coffee pot timer and put out our mugs. It’s one less thing we have to do in the morning and waking up to freshly brewed coffee feels so fancy, yet it’s so very simple. Also, if you love fancy coffee but want a DIY option, go buy this kitchen gadget, add some vanilla to the milk, and magic: a fancy, frothy coffee.

Favorite trick for simplifying your schedule: Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan! And it doesn’t have to be gourmet (we have a few go-to meals that we rotate through each week and always keep breakfast for dinner as an available plan B). It’s amazing how much less stressed I am when I know what we’re having for supper at the end of the day. With our current schedules, I love to meal plan and grocery shop on Sundays, and typically do another quick run on Wednesday to pick up fresh bananas and any other miscellaneous fresh produce/meat we might need to finish out the week. My Emily Ley planner/app keeps me on track with what I’ve planned so I don’t forget.

Favorite simple weeknight recipe: When time is limited, and I need to get supper on the table in a hurry, my go-to trick is to get everything ready that morning: the crockpot + a few chicken breasts + salsa + 6-8 hours on low = perfectly pulled chicken for instant tacos, burritos, Mexican salads, etc. You can warm up a can of black beans and some tortillas and have a near-instant meal! These are three of my non-crock pot favorites: Pad Thai, Turkey Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries, and DIY Pizza (with pre-made dough from the grocery store)!

Favorite simple date: Y’all know I love a good date night. We Winchesters love ice cream and recently discovered a little dessert shop near our house that makes the best milkshakes. It’s quite a treat for us to have a weeknight, post-dinner adventure to get a sweet treat and sit and talk about our week or our plans for the weekend ahead. We happily substitute fancy decaf coffees when the weather turns cooler (plus one for FL, where it is ice cream weather almost 365 days a year)!

Favorite simple way you love on your beau: I make sure there is always chocolate milk in the refrigerator! Taking a page from the 5 Love Languages book, I have learned simple ways to show KPW love through service, which includes making sure I pick up a few of his favorite foods during my weekly grocery store run.

Next up: Nicole!

P.S. Check out Emily’s simple favorites, too!

Written with love by Southern Weddings
  1. avatar Rachel Nordgren reply

    Kristin! First of all, it was an absolute JOY to meet you at the Influence Conference last weekend! You’re the bee’s knees, lady! Also, my husband and I are huge fans of making our bed first thing in the morning – I agree, it makes turning down the covers so much more luxurious at night!

  2. avatar A Simple Fall reply

    […] favorite ways to simplify and get cozy.  You can check out their current interviews here and here. I love this series and thought it would be wonderful to share my own ways to simplify and […]

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I knew I was going to love Jessica and Nick’s wedding as soon as I started reading their interview–their day was completely packed with some of our very favorite things! A meaningful location full of family history? Check. Details inspired by their love story and pulled together/created by family and friends? Check. Plenty of Southern traditions and cuisine? Check! Nick even built their beautiful sweetheart table, which now lives in their new house for them to enjoy their meals at every single day. Wedding details that can literally become part of your newlywed life are so special–not only are they a great way to remind you of your wedding in the years that follow, they can also help you focus on all the good that is to come when you’re in the midst of planning. Be sure to read J+N’s interview–I wouldn’t want y’all to miss a single sweet thing!

Thank you so much to Annamarie Akins for sharing this special day with us!

One of my bridesmaids lives in Charleston, and while visiting her, we had set up an appointment to look at bridesmaid dresses. I ended up trying on wedding gowns at the same time, and completely fell in love with one! The dress fit my style so well, and embodied everything I wanted my wedding to be: classic, modern, casual, and a little bit nautical! It was such a special moment with my bridesmaid, and there was no pressure or stress–that really helped me to know I was making the right decision. The salon was kind enough to ship the dress I loved back to Virginia so I could try it on with my family; once it was dad-approved, the decision was made! I was able to meet with the designer on our next visit to Charleston, and together, we customized a few details of the dress. I was thrilled to be able to purchase a gown from a Southern designer who was just launching her wedding gown line.

Describe your wedding flowers. I am so fortunate to have a mother-in-law who happens to be a fantastic floral arranger! Nick’s mom is an active member in the local garden club, and she organized for her garden club friends to come over to the house on Friday morning to make all the arrangements for the reception. Women I had never met were bringing flowers from their own gardens to help make our day beautiful–it doesn’t get more special than that! A local florist and family friend of the groom, who had provided flowers for my now-sister-in-law’s wedding, also provided gorgeous bouquets for the bridal party. I knew I wanted a relaxed, garden-style arrangement with natural colors of predominately white and green. The florist was also able to incorporate magnolia from my parents’ house in order to make my Alabama (my home state)-meets-Virginia (groom’s home state) vision come true in a magnolia and cotton wreath for the church doors.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We had a string duet play at the church for the ceremony, and they put together “The Book of Love” specifically for Nick–it’s one of his favorite songs! I walked down the aisle to “Canon in D,” the song that my mother had walked down the aisle to. We chose to sing “Be Though My Vision” as a congregation during the ceremony. A traditional hymn, this song is special to my family because we had just sang it at my sister’s wedding a year prior. Perhaps it will be a new family tradition!
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose to say traditional vows. There was something special about speaking the same words that our parents and grandparents vowed to one another so many years ago.

The most memorable moment was arriving to the reception by boat and seeing all our family and friends, drinks in hand, cheering and waiting for us to celebrate with them! Nick and I were so happy, and we couldn’t wait to get up to the yard and spend time with everyone. It was such a great feeling to have people from all walks of life standing in our favorite place, experiencing why we love this part of Virginia.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Nick and I spend most of our free weekends during the warmer months down on Gwynn’s Island, a remote area on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. Both sets of grandparents have a history there, my parents own a summer house on the island, and Nick’s parents live a short drive away. The house has a way of drawing us all together, no matter where we are in life, to watch the sunset and share meals together on Saturday nights. We knew immediately that we wanted to share this region with our family and friends. Nick’s family is a member of a stunning historic brick church where Nick was baptized, and it was so special to have our ceremony there! The river house and the church were natural choices to meld traditions from both our families.

My favorite detail of the wedding was the sweetheart table. Nick started hand-crafting our wooden table with his dad a few months before the wedding, and it was stunning! He searched for weeks for the perfect plans and images to create the table that we now use in our dining room of our new house. It’s so special to have a handmade piece of the wedding in our everyday lives!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. This was a no-brainer for us! I have been known to eat pie for breakfast on multiple occasions, so we had an assortment of apple, pecan, and chocolate pies from our favorite Richmond bakery, Ukrops. We also had a small cake made of funfetti, the groom’s favorite! I hand-painted some oyster shells I found on the beach near the house and arranged them on top of the cake the morning of the wedding with my bridesmaids.

Our first dance was to an acoustic version of “Mean to Me” by Brett Eldredge. My dad had chosen our father-daughter dance song many, many years ago, long before I met Nick. It was so special to finally dance to “I Loved Her First” by Heartland with him after picturing this day as a little girl!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Nick and I met at Virginia Tech during our senior year; despite having many mutual friends, our paths hadn’t crossed before. We found out we lived a block apart from each other behind the football stadium, so Nick would walk his dog during the day hoping to catch me on my way to class. My big sister in my sorority had been dating one of Nick’s fraternity brothers for a while, and encouraged me to take Nick up on his offer to go to a pumpkin patch with the group on a Saturday morning. I had no idea it was a couple’s event and we would be paired up, but we had a blast, and Nick invited me over for a home-cooked meal later that week. I promptly called my dad, who works for the FBI, to get some advice (and a background check), and he gave me the thumbs up over the phone. Nick cooked a fantastic meal and we watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on the couch–probably one of the best dates we’ve ever had!
Tell us about your proposal! The nearby town of Urbanna hosts an annual oyster festival, and our tradition is to attend with family and friends and then host a chili dinner, courtesy of my dad’s secret recipe. Nick and I had taken time off to celebrate our four-year anniversary by heading down on Friday to relax before the festival. We grabbed some beer and oysters at our favorite “rivah” oyster shack, Merrior, and headed back to the house for the sunset. It had started to drizzle, but Nick still wanted to take a walk out towards the water. It was then that I saw his handwriting in the sand, “Will you marry me?” Nick’s dad was hiding in the bushes to snap a few photographs, and later that evening, Nick had arranged for many of our friends from Washington D.C. to surprise me by arriving at the house to attend the festival with us the next day! It was so special to have our family and friends together for a river weekend to kick off a wonderful engagement.
When did y’all get married? June 20, 2015
How many people attended your wedding? 155
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? There were so many Southern touches to the wedding; it’s hard to them narrow down! Nick and I love to cook and eat, especially Southern food. We sat down together and made a list of all the foods we love to eat, and then handed the unorganized list to our caterer. They turned it into an amazing, Southern Virginia-inspired menu, including Virginia ham biscuits, pimento cheese, shrimp and gouda grits, scallop succotash, honey chicken, pulled pork, fried okra, and a biscuit and cornbread bar. Our signature drinks were named after our home states, a Virginia Beau and a ‘Bama Belle. During cocktail hour, we had a champagne and oyster bar from Merrior, the oyster shack Nick and I ate at the day we got engaged. True to Southern tradition, we gifted our bridal party with monogrammed gifts galore–mason jars, seersucker shorts for the gals, and fishing shirts for the gentlemen (their monograms were disguised as nautical flags!). My mother-in-law hosted my bridesmaids and house party for lunch the day before the wedding, and I surprised everyone with a delicious pound cake with cake pulls! My mother-in-law read everyone’s fortune out loud as they pulled their charms. Thank goodness we buried a bottle of bourbon (that Nick had engraved with our wedding date!)–the rain held out until the end of the reception, and as soon as the last sip of moonshine was gone, the skies opened up! The most Southern thing about our wedding though? Having all our family and friends help us work on the house and yard to prepare to host the wedding. The months and weeks before the wedding were spent with our hands in the dirt planting flowers, and my bridesmaids accompanying me to the beach to search for the perfect-shaped oysters for the place cards. The true beauty of the venue came from all the hands that tended to it; it almost brought me to tears!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge we had to overcome was the remoteness of my parents’ house and limited vendors nearby. With a background in design, I knew exactly how I wanted everything to look, but when you’re in the country, sometimes you take what you can get!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Strive for a joyful and gracious attitude throughout your engagement, and into your marriage! There are always things that might not go according to plan.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are starting our lives in Richmond, Virginia! We moved from Washington, D.C. to be closer to our families and embrace the smaller, slower city life. I will continue to work for my D.C.-based architecture firm (while writing a blog and pursuing graphic design and residential design on the side!), while Nick has started a new job in the medical information technology field. We are thrilled to live together in the downtown Fan neighborhood of Richmond and can’t wait to explore this Southern city!

Photography: Annamarie Akins / Second Shooter: Nikki Santerre / Ceremony Venue: Ware Episcopal Church / Reception Venue: Private residence / Florist: The Wild Bunch / Bride’s Gown: Kate McDonald Bridal / Cake Baker: Cakes by Graham / Catering: The White Dog Bistro / Band: JB and the Get Down Browns / Hair and Makeup: Bombshell / Rentals: Paisley and Jade, Grand Rental Station, and Distinctive Events / Coordination and Styling: Ruie and Grace / Bridesmaid Dresses: BHLDN, J. Crew, LulaKate, Nordstrom, and Revolve / Bride’s Shoes: J. Crew and Jack Rogers / Menswear: Jos A. Bank and Bull + Moose / Raw Oyster Bar: Rappahannock River Oyster Company / String Duet: Strings and Things

Lula Kate, Kate McDonald Bridal, and Paisley & Jade are all delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Annamarie reply

    Thank you so much for sharing one of my all time favorite wedding days!

  2. avatar Nick & Jess reply

    […] images can be seen as featured on Southern Weddings last […]

  3. avatar Daniel reply

    Stunning photos, love the boat picture!

  4. avatar Shore Thing | Creative Cake Toppers | Maine Wedding Venues, Photographers, Planners reply

    […] Painted oyster shells add an elegant touch to this simple white cake.  [Cakes by Graham  / Annamarie Akins via Southern Weddings] […]

  5. avatar Megan reply

    Just wondering if you could provide the name of the designer of the dress? I love the striped silk! I love the cut! Its so pretty.

  6. avatar Mike reply

    Beautiful pictures! Very interesting shell decor on the cake and the whole nautical theme is amazing!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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