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Hello friends! Amber here, and I’m so excited to start sharing my favorite tips and ideas for being a gracious hostess. From recipes to projects to gift ideas, I look forward to regularly sharing with you how to entertain at home and add a bit of Southern hospitality to your everyday!

It’s summer in the South, which means there is a roadside stand full of fresh vegetables around every corner! It’s the perfect time to enjoy the bounty and bake up some delicious zucchini bread to give as a gift to the hosts at your next social gathering, or simply have on hand for friends that stop by.

This moist and delicious zucchini bread recipe features a hint of cinnamon and some added walnuts for crunch. It slices perfectly and is always gone in less than a day at our house! Last week, our family picked a 14″ long zucchini from our garden that was enough to double this recipe and make four loaves. Two for us and two to give away!

For transportation and gifting, wrap a bit of parchment paper around a loaf and tie it with bakers twine. I also love the idea of pairing a loaf with a Fruitful Summer Encouragement Postcard to delight someone special with!

Want to add this recipe to your recipe box? We’ve created a sweet printable card for you! Download your zucchini bread recipe card.

Written with love by Amber
6 Comments
  1. avatar Alison reply

    What an adorable series! So excited for this!

    • avatar Amber reply

      I’m excited that you’re excited Alison! Happy baking! :)

  2. avatar Emily reply

    I love the idea of sharing recipes on SW. This is such a great addition to the website. I will have try the zucchini bread soon!

    • avatar Amber reply

      So glad to hear this Emily! Let me know how it turns out! :)

    • avatar Emily reply

      I finally got around to trying this recipe and Amber it was so delicious!!! It’s a dense bread but was still very tasty with a crispy crust. I especially enjoyed it with some peanut butter smeared on top! Bring on more recipes to try.

    • avatar Amber reply

      Hooray Emily! So great to hear that you had the results you did. I’ve never tried peanut butter with it, but definitely going to now! Excited to share more recipes with you too in the coming months!

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Hosting people in your home can be one of the most intimidating, but also one of the most rewarding, activities you can do as a newlywed. While you may be armed with serving trays and fine china (thanks to your carefully crafted registry and generous loved ones!), choosing details to include, figuring out how to make guests feel comfortable, and planning a menu is a whole different ball game. With Easter right around the corner, we asked one of our newest SW gals, Amber, to share a few of her favorite tips and tricks for hosting a sweet and celebratory brunch. The great thing about Easter is that it’s an undeniably festive holiday that doesn’t quite hold the pressure that Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner does, so if hosting is new for you and your beau, this may be the perfect first holiday to open your doors for!

Thanks so much to Amy Nicole Photography for capturing all of these delightful details!

Include a few themed details. For a fresh take on place cards, use a chalk paint marker to add the first name initials of guests to pastel colored eggs that perfectly match your decor. I used this wonderful color chart to dye the eggs to match the napkins and color scheme for our brunch.

Source beautiful, affordable fresh blooms from the grocery store. Choose large, fluffy blooms like hydrangea and bunches of alstromeria to display in multiple vessels down the center of your table. I love using drinking glasses or parfait glassware in lieu of traditional vases.

Prepare the florals the day before. Most fresh blooms prefer cooler temperatures, so store the finished arrangements in your garage or on a back porch, as long as it doesn’t get below 38 degrees.

Creatively display standard fixin’s and incorporate local sources. Pink striped baking cups were a fun way to display freshly baked biscuits on a serving tray, alongside sweet jam from my favorite local cafe that is just down the road from our home, The Nashville Jam Co.

Keep your menu simple and rely on done-for-you options from the grocery store. I like to spotlight one or two homemade items. In this case, it was a favorite glazed ham recipe from Southern Living.

Look for recipes that double as pretty accents on your buffet. Citrus salad had simple ingredients–sliced grapefruit and oranges with a sprinkling of chopped mint, lime zest, and a drizzle of honey–and is as pretty as it is delicious!

Elevate non-alcoholic drinks by the glass you serve them in. Fresh orange juice and pink lemonade paired with slices of fruit look fun and festive served in white wine glasses.

Everything is cuter in small sizes! Individual cups of yogurt fruit parfait are easy to create and serve to your guests.

Have some classic treats on hand for party favors. What is Easter without a chocolate foil-wrapped bunny? Display some bunnies and chocolate egg bites in mini straw baskets for kids and adults alike to enjoy.

Thanks so much for sharing, Amber! Friends, we’d love to know, what are your Easter plans and traditions?

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Samantha Hall reply

    Dear SW Gals.

    I very much like this post, and would love to see more like this on the site. I get married in two weeks and have been looking at the blog and the magazine since 2011! But getting married now, I have started to look for something different from the site, and this is close to some of the things I want.

    Thank You Kindly.
    Samantha

    • avatar Lisa reply

      Hi Samantha! So glad you like it! We share “Southern Newlywed” content every Friday that includes home tours, recipe rounds ups, date night ideas and more–you can see all the past posts here :) http://southernweddings.com/category/southern-newlywed-2/

  2. avatar Laura reply

    I loved this post and hope to see more like it in the future! One of my favorite Easter traditions is going to our church’s sunrise service. It’s the only time of year I actually look forward to getting up before the sun :)

  3. avatar Amy reply

    Thank you so much for sharing! Always a treat to work with you wonderful ladies!

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After an entire year of searching, combing through hundreds of applications, and meeting many wonderful people, we welcomed two lovely new ladies to the Southern Weddings team this month! Amber Housley may need no introduction–as you’ll read below, she is a longtime friend of SW and a speaker at the Making Things Happen Conference. But, in the rare event that you haven’t had the chance to get to know Amber yet, I’m honored to officially introduce her today!

Y’all may remember the two job postings we shared last year–one in early spring and one in late summer. Adding to a team that is as small and close-knit as ours is a huge deal, and I don’t think any of us expected that it would take us almost a year to find the right person, not only for the job role, but also for our company culture and team dynamic. Every single one of us read the hundreds of applications we received, and we genuinely loved getting to know many wonderful women! It was truly humbling to know that so many people care about what we’re doing and share our hearts for our mission. That means the world to us! As we got to know the applicants, though, something funny happened. We realized that what we really needed didn’t quite match what we had originally thought we needed. We put out another call, read many more applications, and actually got pretty close to hiring a new SW gal, when out of the blue, Amber sent Lara an email about the position. And something just clicked! Amber is a brilliant marketer, knows our brand inside and out, and shares our hearts for marriage and intentional living in a deep way. We already know her and trust her, and we knew almost instantly that she was the person who could take our company to the next level!

As our new Marketing Director, Amber will be working with every person on the team with this overarching goal: to share our mission in the best, most impactful way that we can. She’ll be collaborating with Lara and Nicole on the direction and messaging that will be the most powerful. She’ll be keeping Emily and me informed about what our readers need to see on the blog and in the magazine to help them plan meaningful beginnings to married life. She’ll be working together with Marissa and Kristin to make sure our reach is as strong and purposeful as it can be. Gracious, there is a whole lot more she’ll be doing too, but that’s a starting point :)

To help you get to know Amber a little more, we asked her to fill out the “getting to know you” interview that each of us have on our About pages. In her own words, here’s what you need to know about her!

Hometown: Orange County, California
Birthday: October 4
What fires me up: Fresh flowers, gardening, beach vacations with my family, creating, inspiring and encouraging others, reading and learning, date nights with my husband
You would be surprised to know: I spent more than half my life in Southern California and Nevada. However, after living in Nashville for ten years, I now have a slight Southern accent! I always say, I wasn’t born in the South, but got here as fast as I could.
How I met my husband: Crazily enough, we met on Match.com back when it first started! I declared to my friends when I joined the dating site that I only wanted to date a guy like my dad: a guy who could make me laugh, was handy around the house, and drove a truck. I was shocked to find that after a few dates, Brandon met all of these qualifications and more! We were the perfect match. :)
Favorite memory from my wedding: Having all of our West Coast family and friends gather one the front lawn of a 150-year-old plantation house to witness our wedding. Never in a million years did we imagine we’d end up marrying and making our home in the South. It was a delight to give them all a taste of Southern hospitality and traditions.
Claim to fame: Best Smile for the class of 1998. I still do love smiling.
Favorite class I took in college: My Spanish classes. I minored in Spanish and it led me to study abroad in San Sebastian, Spain the summer of my junior year.
How I came to work at Southern Weddings: My wedding was published on the Southern Weddings blog back in 2008 when the team was just Lara and her cat. I can still remember the emails we exchanged and what an excited bride I was! Our lives weaved together for many years through the wedding industry and Making Things Happen. As a former wedding planner and designer, I’ve had the honor to produce two editorial shoots for Southern Weddings (Song of the South and Fun and Fancy Free) and have a client’s wedding published in V5 (Lynae and Brenton). Eight years later, I never would have dreamed I’d be working on this side of the white picket fence and I’m thrilled!
Favorite Southern Weddings editorial ever: I am going to be biased and say Fun and Fancy Free. It was such a fun summer shoot and I loved dreaming up all the details with an amazing team of vendors in Nashville. Food trucks, sprinklers, and fireworks–what could be better?
Best part of my job: Pairing my love of marketing and analytics with a mission I truly believe in, and working with a team I’m grateful to call friends.
Why I do what I do: I wasn’t raised here, but I sincerely love the culture and spirit of the South. I believe in celebrating family and cultivating a life and marriage that means something even greater than just a one-day celebration…though I really love the pretty details, too!
What I do in my spare time: Garden, scrapbook, cook, visit barn sales, decorate the house for the next holiday.
The cause/organization/charity that most captures my heart: I have the honor to call Paige Chenault, founder of The Birthday Party Project, a friend, and I absolutely love her organization that brings joy to homeless children through birthday parties.
True love is: Making each other laugh every day and welcoming each other home with a six-second hug.

Friends, please help us give Amber a big SW welcome in the comments below! You can also say hi and get to know her on Instagram.

P.S. Thanks so much to our Blue Ribbon Vendor Robyn Van Dyke for these photos of our new gals! We’ll be introducing Jess in a few weeks as well, so keep an eye out!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
10 Comments
  1. avatar Jennifer reply

    OMG!! I LOVE the birthday party project! Such a fabulous organization!!

  2. avatar Jordan DePina reply

    Thank you, Lisa, for sharing a great introductory piece for Amber’s arrival to the Southern Weddings Team! And Amber – what an amazing and humbling adventure you’ve been on and how wonderful to see it come full circle. I’m so excited for you! And I’m also from Nashville!! I finished up high school and college in Oregon but found my way to the south – much like you. Congratulations on this new journey! xo

  3. avatar Kati Mallory reply

    Welcome, Amber!! Sounds like you’re the perfect fit for the SW ladies – best of luck in your new role! I’m excited to see what Southern Weddings does next!

    xo,
    Kati Mallory

  4. avatar Dana reply

    Yay! So exciting!

  5. avatar Danielle S reply

    So excited for you, Amber! Congrats to you for living the dream and your journey! I don’t know you, but it sounds like we would get along really well! Your spirit emanates from these photos! Best of luck along the way with everything!

  6. avatar Amber Housley reply

    Thanks so much Dana! Excited to be here!

  7. avatar Kyla Fetzner reply

    Congratulations Amber! I’m so glad I got to meet you at Influence this past September :)

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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