Our Backyard Engagement Party

I am so excited to start sharing some details of our wedding planning with all of you wonderful people! The first post of the wedding planning series has to be our recent backyard engagement party! We added tons of DIY fun details that I am just so in love with.

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So, the day: We had 75 of our closest friends and family at our house! We totally lucked out with the weather. I think I checked the weather.com app every 20 minutes for two weeks, but PHEW it was perfect- and not too hot! The day/night was filled with food, cocktails, laughter, new & old friends meeting, and so much more. It was just the best. I’m now even more excited for our wedding next summer, since so many people met and got to know each other!

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We went back and forth about what to do catering for a few months (I decided me cooking was out- since I wanted to enjoy the party and would have so much to do prior already), and then Mike and I stopped into this little Mediterranean cafe when visiting Nashua New Hampshire and and fell in love with the food. We asked them if they’d deliver to Boston and they happily agreed!

We thought it would be the perfect food for an outdoor backyard party, a little more than the traditional BBQ, but still perfect for the summer weather. We had chicken, beef, lamb, grilled veggies, rice, salads, stuffed grape leaves, fresh pita, hummus, spinach squares, falafel, sauces, veggies, and more!

And now we can’t forget to mention the bar! On the table was my homemade sangria (recipe coming soon), boozy lemonade, pineapple-infused vodka, beer, wine, and mixed drinks!

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Mmmmm, the cake! Last year for Mike’s birthday Lynn made his cake and NOBODY knew it was gluten-free & dairy-free (unless we told them ;)). We asked her to make the cake again for the party and I couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out. It was EXACTLY what we wanted! I ordered this cake topper, accented myself with the flowers, and there you have it!  

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I knew I wanted some little fun element to the party so of course had to bring LCK into the mix! Our Instagram cut-out & props were an absolute hit. I loved watching everyone have fun and get silly with it!

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Now you’re likely thinking… what about THOSE SIGNS!!!!! The amazingly talented Jen, from Love Always Cards, made all the signs around the yard! From food & drink signs, to a large save the date sign hung in the tree; all of her signs added such an awesome touch to the yard. I highly recommend them and love how you can customize them however you want!

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The final touch to the backyard party- Honey Jar Gifts! I am so excited that my favorite olive oil company, Kasandrinos, will be bringing honey to their website this Fall! All of our family & friends went home with some amazing, fresh, local honey from this family run business and they were just the cutest ever! 

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We threw some labels on them, tied the honey sticks with a burlap string and wa-la! Honey sign from Jen, of course!

Abigail from Abigail Kuzia Photography spent a few hours with us and these are ALL of her amazing photographs. She captured so many awesome moments and all of the details! She was super sweet, fun, and a pleasure to work with!


Details:

The Food: Mediterranean, Cedar’s Cafe

The Cake: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Marble Cake, Creative Cakes by Lynn

The Cake Topper: All Things Angela, Etsy

Honey Jar Gifts: Kasandrinos International

Instagram Cut-Out: Social Cut-Outs, Etsy

Props: Oriental Trading Company (one, two, three)

Signs: Love Always Cards, Etsy

Custom Napkins: Gracious Bridal, Etsy

Photographer: Abigail Kuzia Photography

Romper: Nordstrom 

Beverage Dispensers: Amazon

Globe Lights: Amazon

Chalk Board Sign: Save On Crafts

Bar Caddy: Amazon


 

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A whole ‘lotta laughs!


 Photographs © Abigail Kuzia Photography.

 What is your best wedding planning advice?!

Kitchen Remodel: Before and After

You may have noticed that we moved last month. I shared pictures on Instagram of the process, I blogged less, and had long nights filled with quick meals and tons of shopping. It was all worth it and we are so happy in our new home.

Aside from the important things, like you know… paying a mortgage, dealing with the leak in the basement, etc., I’ve learned a few main things going from apartment living to being a homeowner: I will never take a driveway, backyard, and porch for granted! I mean seriously. What a game changer.

Our two main things we really wanted to find (aside from more space), were a yard and a nice big kitchen (obviously). Want to see where Lexi’s Clean Kitchen began a year ago?

OldLCKYep, in that ^ tiny kitchen! I’m not complaining. I had some seriously good times in that kitchen. But seriously? It was time for a major upgrade.

After months of looking we walked into our home and knew it was the one. People always say ‘you’ll just know…’ well, it’s sort of true, and despite the offers that don’t get accepted and paths that often change, it all works out exactly how it should in the end.

Let’s talk kitchen, shall we? (See the bottom of the post for specifics)

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We ordered that pretty cool (if I say so myself), Lexi’s Clean Kitchen sign from this Etsy shop. We are Etsy obsessed now. That’s also where we found Valentino Designs for the kitchen island!

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The new faucet, soap dispenser, and sink came from my uncle’s store, C&L Plumbing Supply, in Long Island, New York. I fell in love with that faucet instantly! If you’re in NY, I highly recommend checking out my uncle’s store! It’s pretty amazing!

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Valence curtains, breakfast nook bench, and art (I’m thinking copper pots) on that empty wall. Those will be the finishing touches! Update: Mike built a custom breakfast nook bench in the back! 

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The island stools are from Pottery Barn and all of the appliances are GE. Update: I am not in love with my GE appliances.

What we did:

1. Painted the walls: Benjamin Moore Windsbreath OC-24 (and removed old shelving on the walls)

2. Had the cabinets painted and replaced the hardware (similar to these). This was a big part of how we saved money and stretched our budget, keeping the old cabinets! The cabinets were pained with two coats oil-based paint. From everything we’ve learned, and anyone we’ve talked to about it, oil is the way to go for cabinet durability.

3. Redid the floors. Handsawn Oak Laminate Flooring, special order from Home Depot.

4. Granite countertops in Polar Vortex from Sudbury Granite (we were going for the White Carrera Marble look, without actually using marble). *UPDATE: 8/2017, our granite is damaged and has not held up well. Sadly we are looking into replacing with a quartz. If you have questions about my experience, message me as I don’t recommend the above.

5. White Subway Tile Backsplash

6. Custom Island from Valentino Designs Reclaimed Wood Furniture

7. The new faucet, soap dispenser, and sink came from my uncle’s store, C&L Plumbing Supply, in Long Island, New York.

And there you have it! Our kitchen remodel on a budget!

We kept the old cabinets, and didn’t make any major changes to the plumbing/orientation of the layout. Those were the two major ways we kept the costs low!

What’s left to do?

Mike’s building a breakfast nook bench alongside the window. I cannot wait for that! Lastly, valence curtains. I’m not sure how that’s the last thing I’ve waited to do!

Hot Peppers {Plus How to Roast Peppers}

The months just keep flying by! May is already here, and this month for Healthy Food Friday I’m inspired by the idea of traveling around the world. You’ll see some flavors inspired by different cultures and cuisines this month!

Let me start by saying that I love all things SPICY. I put hot sauce and red pepper flakes on everything. Literally, everything. Last week I made a Honey Mustard Chicken Salad recipe; which will be coming to the blog in the upcoming weeks (see Instagram for a sneak peek). I typically add some cilantro and these roasted red peppers and it brings the dish to life! Since then, I am on a roasted red pepper kick. Whether it be roasted traditional red bell peppers or hot peppers, I am all about it! 

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Now… roasting your own peppers is way easier than you think. Follow these simple steps with your favorite peppers for a great addition to the condiment section in your refrigerator; and a definite flavor booster for some dips, salsas, toppings, and chicken dishes!
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How to Roast Peppers
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
You will need
  1. 10 cups sliced peppers (you can use hot peppers or regular red bell peppers- I used Fresno Peppers)
Step One
  1. Clean and dry off peppers
Step Two
  1. Cut off step and scoop out seeds
Step Three
  1. Slice in half and lay facedown on a lined baking sheet
Step Four
  1. Place oven on broil (high) and place banking sheet in the oven; broil until pepper skin has mostly burnt/turned black
Step Five
  1. Transfer peppers to a ziplock bag; close and let steam inside the bag for 10 minutes
Step Six
  1. Remove from bag and peel off the skin! Store in a jar in the fridge.
Notes
  1. -You can use less peppers, this will make a nice size jar for you to have in the refrigerator.
  2. -They will last longer if water or oil is added to the jar.
Lexi's Clean Kitchen https://lexiscleankitchen.com/
Aroundtheweb

Roasted Red Pepper Ketchup from Seasonal and Savory

Hot Pepper Honey from The View from the Great Island

Flash-Fried Shishito Peppers from Brooklyn Supper

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Creamy Red Pepper Sauce from Two Peas and their Pod

Asparagus with Lemon, Mint, and Red Pepper from Karen’s Kitchen Stories

Eggplant and Roasted Red Pepper Dip from Tasty Yummies

Roasted Red Pepper Soup from Overtime Cook

Thai Chili Garlic Sauce from Jeanette’s Healthy Living

Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Cream from Beard and Bonnett

Cherry Bomb Chicken from Sugar Dish Me

Red Hot Pepper Jelly from Kitchen Daily

Homemade Chinese Chili Oil from Everyday Maven

I was selected by American Express to contribute to their Tumblr community. As such I was paid for my services, but all opinions in general and about American express are my own.

How do you eat peppers? Hot? Roasted? Dried?

How to Roast Peppers

Prep Time 10 min Cook Time 20 min Total Time 0:30

Ingredients

    You will need

    • 10 cups sliced peppers (you can use hot peppers or regular red bell peppers- I used Fresno Peppers)

    Step One

    • Clean and dry off peppers

    Step Two

    • Cut off step and scoop out seeds

    Step Three

    • Slice in half and lay facedown on a lined baking sheet

    Step Four

    • Place oven on broil (high) and place banking sheet in the oven; broil until pepper skin has mostly burnt/turned black

    Step Five

    • Transfer peppers to a ziplock bag; close and let steam inside the bag for 10 minutes

    Step Six

    • Remove from bag and peel off the skin! Store in a jar in the fridge.

    Directions

    Recipe Notes

  • -You can use less peppers, this will make a nice size jar for you to have in the refrigerator.
  • -They will last longer if water or oil is added to the jar.
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