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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wedding Story

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I attended my good friends wedding in Connecticut (remember this post on Winvian?) in the beginning of June.  My previous post was mostly about the amazing reception site/resort, but I also wanted to do a special post on the wedding itself. You know I love a good wedding - I just had to share this with you!

The official wedding activities started the Thursday night before the wedding when the grooms parents hosted the rehearsal dinner at their summer house near the NY/CT border. Everything about this wedding was personalized and well thought out, all of which extended into the rehearsal dinner.  The bride spent hours painting handmade signs for the wedding activities (including signs directing guests to Winvian placed along the suggested route from the church).  She also designed their logo and all of the paper products for the invitations, ceremony and reception.

Guests at the rehearsal dinner dined on homemade hummus, fried shrimp with honey and mediterranean salads.  Spiked Iced Tea and Pimms were the drinks of choice that night - the Pimms was a subtle nod to the couples current home in London. Dessert was made up of dozens of homemade cookies by the grooms family, including the sweetest baklava you ever did taste.

After the crowd was full of good food and happy from a few drinks enjoyed by the waters edge, things got sentimental. Speeches were made by many a family friend in remembrance of the brides father, a slide show played of the the bride and groom growing up and then growing together, and guests were even treated to a song performed by the bride to her groom.  There was so much love in the air that night that it was palpable.  There wasn't a dry eye in the house - and this was only the beginning!

The ceremony was held at a small church in downtown Ridgefield, CT.  A picture perfect church and weather to match.  The wedding ceremony was hand crafted by the bride and groom, so much so that the minister even commented that he had never seen so many revisions by a couple in all his time as an officiant.  Lanterns lined the aisle with deep blue hydrangeas and candles.  The bridesmaids wore floor length navy gowns and carried bouquets of blue and yellow, the ring bearers were in matching seersucker suits and navy boat shoes (ie, the cutest thing on the face of this planet). An old friend of the brides sang Jack Johnson before the processional and close friends read passages during the ceremony.  It got slightly awkward when the minister forgot to hand over the bride - leaving her brother at the alter a little too long - but in the end we were (fairly) certain that Sean and Adrienne were officially married.

It was official - and now it was time to party! There was a bus stocked with snacks and drinks for those who needed a ride up to Winvian. Cocktail hour was held out on the lawn, with lounge chairs and tables, a 3 piece band, signature cocktails and the most amazing hors d'oeuvres (I still have to google that word EVERY time I want to use it!).  The mini mac and cheese with pancetta and parmesan crisps were a crowd favorite. The reception tables were named after cities the couple had visited while dating, and place cards were made of vintage city postcards on luggage tags showing the guests which table they were at.  The tags hung from tree branches, a vintage suitcase and photo guest book told the story of their travels and relationship.

The reception was held in the Gordon Brown House, which was transformed with candles and flowers.  The live band played classic hits all night long and the tented patio provided a lounge space for guests to get some air and relax.  Dinner did not disappoint either - asparagus salad and a beef duo (with the most tender, delicious short ribs I have EVER had) made up the first and second courses while amazing red velvet wedding cake and smores (made out at the fire pit) rounded out the dessert selection.  Guests (and groom!) were treated to a song performed by the bride, arguably the best rendition of 'At last' that anyone in that room had ever heard (including the singers in the band!)  The rest of the evening was spent dancing to the Heartbeat Dance Band, with lots of love and laughter filling the Gordon Brown House. (Apologies for the less than stellar photo qualities below, I couldn't get enough light!)

And as if that wasn't enough, there was an after-party planned at the Helicopter cottage.  Bikes from the other cottages were lined up outside the door, signaling the party was in full swing when the bride and groom showed up...ready to party the night away as newlyweds.

Congratulations Sean and Adrienne!

Reception location - Winvian
Photographer - JAG Studios (check out her blog to see some of her amazing work, hopefully her photos of this wedding will be up soon - I got a sneak peak and they are to die for!)

Monday, June 27, 2011

This is what summer looks like...

Summer decided to grace us with her presence over the weekend (fashionably late as usual).  It would have been nice of her to call and let us know that she would be late, but I still welcomed her with open arms.


Ok, maybe he doesn't "look like summer" but he is one heckofa cute kid!

(Don't worry, I do know him, I didn't take a picture of some random persons kid)

(I can't promise that won't happen in the future though)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chocolate Covered Beer Marshmallows (with crushed pretzels)

Yes, you read that correctly.

(with crushed pretzels)

Go big or go home, that's what I say.

Sometimes, you need to spoil yourself. 

Like on your one year wedding anniversary.

Or when the average temperature for the month of June (so far) hovers in the mid-60s and not the mid-80s like you crave (and involves a lot more rain than you care for).

The crushed pretzel topping is an extra little bonus.  

Thats for you, because you rock.  Thanks for being so awesome.

Adding beer makes everything better, don't you agree? Especially dark, thick, foamy Guinness. Actually the foam was kind of a pain this time because you need to have flat beer, but I digress.


I found these superstars on the wonderful blog How Sweet it is. I kept the ingredients as is but changed the method of combining the ingredients slightly to match the previous time I made marshmallows. You can follow whichever way you like, whatever is easiest for you. But whatever you do, make these as soon as humanly possible.  The are SO light and SO delicious and SO...SO...AMAZING I can't stop thinking about them. I'm crushin' on these marshmallows like whoa.

Chocolate Covered Beer Marshmallows (with crushed pretzels)
Adapted from How Sweet it is 
I like my marshmallows to be a little dry, so I let my marshmallows sit out overnight loosely covered with a towel before covering them in chocolate. You can certainly dip them right away if that floats your boat (or your schedule).

3 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold, flat beer, divided in two (I recommend Guinness or your prefered stout)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
2 egg whites
1 tbsp vanilla extract (go ahead, use the good stuff!)
400 grams chocolate (I used 2/3 dark chocolate and 1/3 milk chocolate, but mix and match as you see fit)
crushed pretzels

- Make sure the beer is flat before you begin. You can do this one of two ways: open the beer and leave it out overnight until flat OR pour into a cup and whisk until most of the carbonation is gone.

- Oil and dust your baking pan with powdered sugar to coat all sides (you can use whatever size baking pan you like, I used and 8x8 square pan).

- Pour the gelatin into a small bowl and pour half of the beer on top. Stir gently and leave to one side.

- In a medium pot heat together the sugar, remaining beer, corn syrup and salt over low heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then crank the heat up to medium and let the sugar mixture come to a boil.  It will bubble up a lot so keep an eye on it and slightly adjust the heat if necessary (use a big pot if you can).  Let the mixture boil until it reaches 240*F, about 10 minutes.

- Once the sugar hits 240* turn off the heat and let it sit for one minute (to let the bubbles and foaming calm down).  Stir the gelatin mixture in until it dissolves.

- In a separate bowl place the egg whites and salt and beat with an electric mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk until the egg whites hold stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla and then slowly pour in the hot gelatine sugar syrup in a steady stream. This works best if you have a stand mixer but can be done if you only have a hand mixer - be prepared for for lots of hand/eye coordination. Continue to whisk for another couple of minutes until the mixture holds a ribbon trail when the whisk is lifted from the bowl.

- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, gently tap out any  large air bubbles and leave to set for a few hours.

- Once the marshmallows are set (at least 3 hours), dust some powdered sugar on top of the marshmallows and onto a cutting board.  Tip out the marshmallows and with a clean, sharp knife cut in to squares. Dredge all sides of the marshmallow in the powdered sugar so that they are lightly coated, tapping off any excess.

- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave in 30 second bursts until fully melted. While the chocolate is melting crush the pretzels and keep in a small dish close by.  Cover a baking sheet in parchment paper. Once the chocolate is fully melted, dip the marshmallows using a fork or skewer.  You can coat all sides in chocolate or only dip them halfway. Whatever your little heart beats for will work. I say go all the way, but you don't have to.  Make sure to tap off any access chocolate so it doesn't pool at the bottom once finished. Sprinkle with crushed pretzels and then do a little dance around the kitchen because you just made the BEST candy EVER.

- Let set until room temperature and then ENJOY!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


A couple of weekends ago we had the pleasure of going to a fabulous wedding in Connecticut.  Our super good friends here in London were getting married back home, and you bet we weren't going to miss a good party!  The rehearsal dinner was at the grooms parents summer house and the ceremony was in the charming little town of Ridgefield.  The weather was perfect, the bride was stunning, and the reception - o.m.g.

We had been looking forward to going to this wedding for a long time for a couple of reasons - 
1. It meant that we were going back home (REAL home, not fake London home)
2. We were over the moon happy for our friends (and I couldn't help but keep reminiscing about my own wedding day last June).
3. The reception venue was amazing. We booked our cottage the minute the reservation lines opened (good thing our friends followed through with an actual invite to their wedding!).

Did you notice I didn't say room - I said cottage?

Do me a favor - before you read on, check out Winvian on the world wide web.

Go on...scram!

Ok, done? Welcome back.

Now do you understand why we were so freakin' pumped?? 

Basically, this place is a super fancy summer camp for adults.  There are nineteen individual cottages and each one has a different theme.  Every cottage is so thoughtfully and tastefully decorated and you instantly feel at home in every one of them.  The decor of each cottage completely embodies its theme, with small touches like a wooden chess set in the "Beaver Lodge", an easel and paints in "Artist" and a real live helicopter in "Helicopter" (ok, maybe that last one isn't a "small" detail).  You could spend a weekend in each cottage and not discover all of the little treasures that each one holds.  

Each cottage comes with two bikes for its guests to use during their stay to ride around the grounds (don't worry, they are labeled with your cottage name so you don't get yours mixed up with anyone elses).  The FIRST thing we did after checking in was ride our bikes all over the entire property to check out all of the cottages and get the lay of the land. 

I think these bikes were one of the best things about this place - we used them all weekend (including riding back to our cabin after the wedding reception after-party...that was interesting, to say the least!) and they made for some GREAT group photos...

Being married to a guy who went to a merchant marine academy we obviously stayed in the Maritime cottage.  The interior was so bright and airy with a soft, clean color palette and had those little details that made it perfect.

The Gordon Brown house was the main building which housed the front desk, game area and restaurant. The staff was incredibly accommodating and welcoming - no request was too small and they were on hand at all times to help you however they could.  A few of us stayed a second night and had the place virtually to ourselves.  The restaurant is open to the public and that night we dined in a small, intimate room with a handful of other couples. The food did not disappoint - from the wedding appetizers to the main meal, to the breakfast the next morning and tasting menu at dinner the following night - all of the food that we had was incredible.  There is a farm on site where they grow most of their own vegetables and herbs, and the rest of the food is as locally sourced as possible.

If you are looking for a weekend get-away and live in the NY/NJ/CT area I HIGHLY recommend Winvian.  Your stay can either be a la carte or all inclusive. The a la carte include the room rate and breakfast, while the all inclusive includes pretty much you could ever hope and dream for.  I'm not going to lie, this place isn't cheap.  But it would be a great treat for an anniversary or other special occasion. And besides, if you don't have to fly there the cost should even out. Just keep telling yourself that as you pay the final bill.