Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Teaser: Bridal Details

We're only mere {4} days away from our wedding and so to capture all the wedding planning efforts, I'll be featuring a recap of things we've done, which may be helpful for those planning or helping out future brides. So with that, here's a teaser of all the bridal details we've completed and incorporated...

save the date announcements

The Save the Date announcements were ordered from Sweet Sights Etsy Shop. I loved how interactive the cards were and because Patrick is a huge fan of puns, it fit us perfectly!


Our formal invitations were personally created by yours truly via Zazzle. We chose to create our own invitations via Zazzle, using the colorful birds of paradise flower as our motif. It's my favorite flower and I love how unique and colorful it is. Besides, seeing this flower definitely puts you into a tropical feel... which is exactly what I'd like our guests to feel right off the bat! We created the main invitation, rsvp card, along with matching postage. 

casual pre-wedding picnic INVITATIONS

Also included in our invitation is a postcard invite to the Pre-Wedding Picnic that will be hosted the night before the wedding. We wanted the invite different from the formal invitation since it was a different event altogether with a more casual, relaxed theme. We purchased these from Simply Smitten Designs Etsy Shop, but the shop is currently closed since the owner recently had a baby. 

bridal party (adult) attire

Rather than calling specific individuals to be in our bridal party, we decided to have full families participate. We are very family oriented, often spending time with our closest friends who have children close in age to Joel. That said, our wedding is definitely a family affair so it made sense to have everyone participate somehow. To capture the tropical vibe for our Wedding Luau, the adults of our bridal party will be wearing aloha wear with the birds of paradise motif as used in invitations. I purchased the attire for the families of our wedding party... not only to look cohesive and stand out as our wedding party, but also for their professional family photos.


The children of our bridal party will be sporting the same white printed Hawaiian attire as Joel, who is our best young man. At first I was hesitant for the kids to be wearing all white... but they are kids after all and they get dirty and messy regardless of what they wear, right?!


Now onto Melissa's dress! I asked her to go look for a dress that she liked and she found one. It was beautiful on her and I loved how it was light and comfortable. The best part was finding out the dress was less than $30! What?! The dress was such a steal and more importantly, she loved it! It especially goes well with the bouquet I have for her.

mother of the groom attire & sister of the groom ATTIRE

Both my future mother and sister in laws will be wearing a light khaki chiffon dress they chose to compliment our bridal party. Going with a classic solid color balances out the Hawaiian prints and the dresses are ones they can use even after the wedding. The dress above is what my sister in law will be wearing, while my mother in law's dress is similar and worn with a short sleeve jacket.

father of the groom ATTIRE

My future father in law will also wear the same as our bridal party - our signature Hawaiian shirt with the birds of paradise motif, paired with khaki pants. Light, comfortable and festive!

mother of the bride ATTIRE

As a nod to my Filipino culture, my parents are donning traditional barong tagalog fashion. My mom will be wearing this barong tagalog dress made with Pina-Jusi fabric, which is hand loomed from pineapple fibers and fibers from pineapple leaves. Her dress has a tint of blush color, with the natural deep ivory color of the fibers. 


Just as my mom is wearing barong tagalog fashion, my dad is sporting a traditional barong tagalog shirt. This is also madeout of Pina-Jusi fabric, which is in the natural deep ivory color of the fibers. Although long sleeve, it is quite cool and light to wear. After the ceremony, my dad will change into the signature Hawaiian shirt and khakis to match with my future father in law.


Patrick will be wearing an all white Hawaiian shirt along with khaki pants. I think he's most pleased knowing we didn't go the traditional route with tuxes or suits! I'm just happy he will be comfortable on an already busy and exciting day.

BEST young man ATTIRE

Joel will also be in an all white Hawaiian print outfit with matching shirt and shorts. He will not only match his soon to be stepdad but the other children in our wedding party as well. Let's just hope after the wedding his outfit isn't too messy (even though I know it will be lol!)


Ah yes. My dress. I'm not sharing it quite yet as I'd like Patrick to really experience the surprise of seeing me in it as opposed to the teaser of what it looks like on a hanger. I will say that it is a gown with lace cap sleeves,  illusion neckline and beaded lace appliques.  I'm excited to wear it and get all glammed up!


When my wedding shoes arrived and I started to break them in. I definitely needed to go the wedge route since we'll be in the park so I'm happy I found these to wear. Surprisingly they are more comfortable that I originally thought at the bridal shop! I love them and how they really work perfectly for my dress.
something old

For my 'something old' I will be using the diamond earrings Patrick gave me for my birthday/mother's day last year. I rarely wear them for fear they will get lost but they are perfect for the wedding!

something new

For my 'something new' I will be using my brand new {official} wedding dress. I never wore one before, since I used a bridesmaid spring printed dress for my first marriage. This dress is one that was fitted perfectly for me and captures my style. I cannot wait to wear it!

something borrowed

My maid of honor, Melissa, insisted on getting this hairclip when we were shopping at the bridal store. I wasn't sure exactly why but then she handed to me, she said I could borrow it lol. So this pretty hair clip is my something borrowed. My hair trial comes up the day before the wedding so it will be fun to see how my hair stylist will work her magic to have it in my hair.

something blue

For my something blue, I purchased this embroidered powder blue handkerchief because I anticipate shedding some happy, joyous tears. This was from the Stofkos Designs Etsy Shop and reflects our initials and wedding date.


Since my bridal party consists of my dearest and closest women in my life and I put together a swag bag of gifts for them. The swag bag includes some sweet and savory munchies (such as Hawaiian kettle potato chips and chocolate covered macadamia nuts) along with Fiji bottled water, helpful items (Advil tablets, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, Kleenex packets) and I also included a kimono robe in their favorite color to wear while we get glammed up with hair and makeup the morning of the wedding.

WEDDING makeup

Our wedding makeup is being done by Simply Perfect Makeup. I loved the way I looked after having a sample trial done at a local bridal show. I ended up winning a free bridal trial and decided to go with them for my wedding - so easy and highly recommended! It helps that the makeup artist doing our makeup lives minutes from us and we're practically neighbors!


Our wedding hair is being done by Brittney of Blondie Hair Artistry. I met Brittney at the same bridal show and we clicked immediately. She's been my sole hair stylist since and I've seen her twice now for haircuts! Since meeting, we've become great friends and cannot wait for her to do her hair magic for our big day.


The ladies in our bridal party will add a finishing touch to their hair with this birds of paradise hair clip. Brittney will surely work it in to accent their dresses and overall wedding theme.


We have a very early start the day of our wedding. Our stylists have a total of 8 ladies to glam up, and each take roughly 30-45 minutes to do for both hair makeup. This translates to starting as early as 5:45am / 6:00am in order to be completely done and ready for photos before the ceremony. With a very early start, I want my ladies to be taken care of so we're having Panera delivery some breakfast for us. 


My uncle is our videographer and I'm especially excited for his work. He works for a tv/movie film company and will be offering his professional services to do our wedding. He'll be coming some time in the morning as us ladies are getting ready to capture the candid moments. From there, we will all head over to our ceremony and reception venue!

Stay tuned to find out details of our ceremony tomorrow!...

Friday, July 31, 2015

Can It Forward Day is Almost Here!


Join us on Saturday August 1st for International Can-It-Forward Day! Now in its 5th year, Can-It-Forward Day will broadcast live online at FreshPreserving.com from 11Am - 4PM EST from the new state-of-the-art Jarden Home Brands headquarters in Fishers, Indiana, celebrating the joys of fresh preserving. To showcase the simplicity of home canning and spotlight “Made From Here” recipes from gardeners and food enthusiasts, four blogger ambassadors from across the country will share their preserving expertise during the live webcast: Food in Jars’ Marisa McClellan of Philadelphia, PA, Hoosier Homemade’s Liz Latham of LaPorte, IN, Southern Plate’s Christy Jordan of Hunstville, AL and Yesterday on Tuesday’s Malia Martine Karlinsky of Seattle, WA. Viewers will also get a behind the scenes look at recipe testing and development and the science behind ensuring safety and the highest quality of all home canning recipes. The webcast will also have an integrated chat function where viewers can submit their home canning questions to be answered in real time! New this year, there will also be an exciting celebrity mason jar actuion unveiled during the webcast!
In addition to American favorites, the International event also features flavors from Australian Chef Rebecca Sullivan demonstrating recipes from down under. Participating via web internationally, canners in South Africa, Australia and the UK, will also join by making and sharing their own favorite canning recipes!
So join in tomorrow, Saturday, August 1st and jump in on social media using the hashtag #canitforward to take part in the fun! In the meantime... if you're new to canning or even a seasonal canner, there are some great canning items to look for this year as you begin to plan on preserving your favorite local ingredients in peak season:
Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving: The new 37th edition of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving is the most trusted resource in home canning for over 100 years and this new 2015 release is its largest update since the first edition in 1909.  Expanding 56% from the previous edition, the 37th edition of the Ball Blue Bookincludes 75 new recipes, pictorial step by step guides for beginners and more! (Retail value: $11.95)
Design Series Lids (red + purple): Great not only for home canning, the Ball® Brand Design Series Lids With Bands are also a great option for unique crafting creations, gifts and home décor with endless mixing and matching possibilities. (Retail value: $5.95)
Heritage Collection Pint jars (Retail value: $12.99)
Heritage Collection Quart jars (Retail value: $14.99): These new limited edition Regular Mouth pint and Wide Mouth quart jars are a celebration of the 1915 heritage featuring a vintage-inspired purple color and embossed logos on front and back.
Sip & Straw Lids (red, blue + purple): Fitting perfectly atop any Wide Mouth and Regular Mouth Ball® Jar, you can enjoy every drop of your favorite cold drinks, smoothies or summer tea with a splash of color. (Retail value: $4.99)

Monday, July 27, 2015

El Mariachi Bar & Grill {review}

One of the great things about Chicago is the abundance of amazing places to eat. There is never a shortage of delicious food all around town and the variations of how so many cuisines are presented. Recently, I dined at El Mariachi Tequila Bar and Grill and well, let me tell you how that all went....

We were warmly greeted and shortly thereafter, seated to a table that provided optimal views of the restaurants beautiful interior. It was warm, cozy and spacious inside with decor that made you feel like you were eating in a quaint villa in Mexico.

Next up was the amazing food... and so much were offered! Here's a rundown of what we enjoyed:

Tableside guacamole: Made to order and to your tastes! Fresh avocados are gently crushed with ingredients such as onion, jalapeno, tomato, salt, freshly squeezed lime juice and cilantro. Simply and so delicious with their housemade tortilla chips!

Weekly Special Citrus Shrimp: This refreshing appetizer was the creation of their executive chef which consists of rock shrimp, spicy poblano guacamole all set atop a thinly sliced orange segment. Strikingly beautiful yet packed with some heat!

Ceviche de Camaron: This shrimp ceviche is not your typical version! Shrimp is marinated in sweet passion fruit and citrus juices and tossed with Peruvian corn, red onion and aji amarillo pepper. The additional crisp tortilla chips made for a perfect way to scoop this in your mouth...

Margarita Yucateca: And what would this delicious Mexican dinner be without a proper margarita?! This colorful libation involves hibiscus infused Cabo Wabo tequila, blood orange, triple sec, habanera simple syrup and agave nectar... olé!

Now it was time for the entrees - they just kept on coming and filling up our table!

Carne Asada Costena: A grilled skirt steak is marimated over night and served with specialty sauteed and seasoned cream shrimp (shrimp not shown) and served with cilantro lime rice and black beans. It was wonderful and such a great twist on a surf and turf dish!

Salmon a la Veracruzana; An 8oz salmon filet is wrapped in banana leaves and served over a tomato caper Veracruzana salsa, accompanied by cilantro lime rice and caramelized plantains.

Chuletas al Pastor: A grilled pork chop marinated with pastor adobo is served with a creamy tomatillo salsa, cilantro, limer ice, grilled onions and pineapple. 

Another weekly chef special: Mexican 'spaghetti' made with zucchini noodles seasoned with a light red pepper sauce and served with toasted bread. This makes for a low carb dish!

Pollo Relleno; A breaded chicken roulade stuffed with chorizo, sweet corn, poblano, asafetida cheese... served over creamy tomatillo salsa, really asked garlic cheese potatoes and ancho green beans. This had to be my favorite dish of the night next to the chips and freshly made guacamole!

Chipotle Ribeye: A well seasoned boneless ribeye toppde with mushrooms, creamy tomatillo salsa all served with roasted garlic cheese potatoes and ancho green beans. Another unique twist on steak and potatoes.

And finally it was time for dessert!  We were presented with a beautiful platter of three desserts consisting of cheesecake, chocolate flourless cake and flan. All were made in house and they were fantastic!

After an outstanding meal, we stepped outside to their back patio... and wow. It was an awesome space perfect for outdoor dining. During the day, you can take in all the exposed brick, wide open season and beautifully paved patio. By night, you can enjoy the twinkling lights, soft glow of the lanterns and the beautiful and romantic ambiance. 

If you haven't checked out this place already, definitely make it a point to visit! Even better is that they have 2 locations just blocks from each other in the Lakeview neighborhood!

You can also find them on social media:

A special thanks to the staff of El Mariachi for providing us a memorable and delicious experience. At El Mariachi Tequila Bar & Grill, they truly offer a more genuine and unique experience than the typical Mexican restaurant with an extensive selection of over 150 tequilas (100% Blue Agave), handcrafted premium margaritas, our famous tableside guacamole and regional Mexican cuisine!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Pinapple-Cucumber Gazpacho with the Nutri Ninja {review}

Summer is in full swing {finally} and we're experiencing some really humid weather. That said, I've been reluctant to turn on the stove or oven just to avoid heating up the kitchen. One thing the weather has encouraged me to do is to tap into some warm weather recipes to try. I know soup is not exactly the summer meal people enjoy on hot and humid days... well, unless it's a gazpacho! 

When making gazpacho, you definitely need a good way of processing ingredients so that they have a nice smooth consistency to qualify it as a soup of sorts. I've gone through so many blenders over the years due to weak motors that burned out, clunky design that were too big or not big enough, and even blenders that just didn't process things as finely as I needed. But now, it looks like I found a winner. The Nutri Ninja Blender is one that has a prominent place in my kitchen! Specifically, the Nutri Ninja | Ninja Blender Duo with Auto-iQ  is a powerful workhouse of an appliance. I am surprised by how much versatility this blender has!

The Nutri Ninja | Ninja Blender Duo with Auto-iQ takes the guesswork out of drink making! Auto-iQ Technology features intelligent programs that combine unique, timed pulsing, blending and pausing patterns that do the work for you! The digital countdown timer displays how much time is remaining on the selected Auto-iQ program, or counts up to track blending time when using the three manual speeds. Combined with Nutri Ninja Pro Extractor Blades, Auto-iQ breaks down whole fruits, vegetables, ice and seeds for maximum nutrient & vitamin extraction. Small, Regular and Jumbo Multi-Serve Nutri Ninja Cups with Sip & Seal Lids allow you to make nutrient-rich Super Juices to take on-the-go! Total Crushing Technology delivers unbeatable professional power. Ninja Auto-iQ combined with the XL 72 oz. blender’s Total Crushing Blades pulverize ice to snow in seconds for creamy frozen drinks and smoothies for the whole family! All jars, blades, and lids are BPA free and dishwasher safe.
Many use a blender for shakes and smoothies but it really does so much more. Soups, pancake/waffle batters, sauces, condiments {think mayonnaise and ketchup!}, quick breads, nut butters, salad dressings, dips, puddings, cocktails, etc. The real challenge in using this particular blender is deciding what to make because it's so versatile!

When I've made gazpacho in the past, it usually came out too thick because it just wasn't processed as finely enough. This particular recipe is slightly chunky but I processed it a bit more with easy for the perfect consistency I was looking for. Definitely give this recipe a try for a refreshing, light summer soup and if you've been looking for a solid blender to do the work for you in the kitchen, the Nutri Ninja | Ninja Blender Duo with Auto-iQ  will do it all with ease!

Pinnapple-Cucumber Gazpacho
Makes 4 to 6 servings

4 cups chopped peeled cucumber (from about 1 large English cucumber or a few Kirbys)
4 cups chopped pineapple (from 1 large or 2 small pineapples)
1 cup fresh pineapple juice
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1 green onion, white and 1 inch of green, chopped
1 Tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. sea salt
1 handful cilantro leaves, plus a few extra for garnish
3 Tbsp. avocado oil, macadamia oil, or cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil
1 handful finely chopped raw macadamia nuts

In a blender, add 3 cups each of the cucumber and pineapple, the pineapple juice, jalapeño, green onion, lime juice, and salt. Blend until smooth.

Add the remaining 1 cup pineapple and 1 cup cucumber, the handful of cilantro, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil. Pulse the blender quickly a few times—the gazpacho should remain chunky.

Before serving, add the macadamia nuts to the gazpacho and stir to distribute evenly. Divide among serving bowls and drizzle with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. Garnish with cilantro.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Red Eye Sponsors Battle of the Burgers

battle of the burger 2

If you're looking for a tasting event this weekend, be sure to check out the Battle of the Burgers, hosted by Chicago's RedEye and Amstel Light! For more details and ticket information, check out ChiStarConnections on how you can attend and experience some delicious burgers!...

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