Carb loading Friday

Happy Friday everyone!  I am heading to bed early tonight to catch some runner ZZZs before the 2011 More / Fitness Women’s Half Marathon this Sunday. I wish everyone the best of luck this weekend and maybe I will see some of you tomorrow at the Expo!

Here is the course map for any of you coming to cheer on some strong women!

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A Superwoman and her superfoods

I hate to admit it but lately I feel like my energy has been zapped. From planning weddings, traveling home to see my new niece and keeping the house running, my workout routine has been struggling to stay a top priority. With that said, this will be a short but sweet post to help all brides and superwomen out there gain back some energy by revamping your diet.

And what better time to clean out your refrigerator and cabinets than Spring cleaning?

Here we go with my top 10 super foods to add to your next grocery list:

1. Lean chicken (take that skinny bitch diet).
Lean protein helps rebuild muscles and get you ready for your next sweat sesh.

2. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
In this list, I guess technically the chicken but that was more personal preference. Eggs are important because their protein is filling and will help you eat less throughout the day. Remember the saying: eat breakfast like a queen, lunch like a princess and dinner like a pauper.

3. Say man, want some salmon?
I was not a big salmon eater until about a year ago. Go to Whole Foods and buy the low fat dill spread if you can’t tolerate the taste of the fish on its own. Once used to it, you will be nixing the spread in no time. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Eating it two or three times a week safeguards the heart and reduces the risk of heart attacks. Other studies link omega-3s to treating depression and arthritis.

4. An apple a day…
My husband eats an apple before every dinner and I swear the saying is true because he never gets sick! They are packed full of antioxidants, especially vitamin C for healthy skin and gums – one apple provides a quarter of your daily requirement of vitamin C. An apple is also a carbohydrate with a low glycaemic index (GI). Low GI foods are digested slowly; once they are finally broken down in the intestine they are gradually absorbed into the bloodstreams as glucose, causing a rise in blood sugar levels.

5. Berry-good for you.
Berries are a rich source of phytonutrients and antioxidants, both of which protect cells from damage and mop up free-radical molecules that lead to cancer and premature aging.

6. Avocado.
The delicious healthy monounsaturated fat in the avocado is one of its biggest SuperFood health claims. The only other fruit with a comparable amount of monounsaturated fat is the olive. The monounsaturated fat in avocados is oleic acid, which may help lower cholesterol.

7. Popeye was right!
Spinach has more than 100% of vitamins K and A just for starters. It contains more than half the daily requirements for folate and manganese. Spinach has a special concoction of flavonoids, 13 to be exact, which all work together to help slow a number of cancers including breast cancer. If that wasn’t enough to make it a super food, spinach does more. It is a brain food; it’s been associated with improved brain function. Improved eyesight, energy, improved gastrointestinal function are just a few more of this super food’s abilities.

8. Beans – really are magical.
Virtually all types of beans are nutrient powerhouses, high in antioxidants that incapacitate cell-damaging free radicals implicated in causing cancer and Alzheimer’s. Beans also help prevent obesity, a leading cause of heart disease and diabetes.

9. Aww nuts!
Nuts contain a host of nutrients including protein, fibre, calcium, iron, selenium, magnesium and vitamin E. Plus, most of the fat in nuts comes from heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

10. And my favorite….red wine!
Red wine is loaded with polyphenols and antioxidants that protect against cancer, heart disease and age-related memory loss. Wines made from Tannat or Malbec grapes usually contain the highest polyphenol levels. Red wine also contains resveratrol, a compound studies suggest activates genes that slow cellular aging.

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It’s a piece of cake! Or is it?

Happy Monday! It is a rainy day in NYC and I have to confess, there has to be some type of correlation with rain and my sweet tooth. So when I woke up this morning and cuddled with Daisy, all I could think about was wedding cakes. I find that brides fall in to one of two categories: The first group says “I don’t care what it tastes like, I just want it to be grand and tall and spectacular looking.” The second group, “It could be the most simple looking thing as long as the flavors are out of this world.”

My wedding cake from 2007



I happened to be fall in to the second category. I focused more on the inside flavoring (pound cake with a whipped cream and fresh cut strawberry filling – see pic to the left).




There are a couple of trends right now in the wedding cake department and here are my  favorites:

– Mini me!
The individual guest wedding cake adds a touch of luxury and the right amount of over the top-ness to any reception. It also allows you to have multiple cake flavors however this trend may not be as sweet on a tight budget. My tip: Have a wedding cake with only the bottom layer being real so you can cut the cake in front of everyone. Once that is done, have the catering staff take that cake away and then bring out mini cakes for each guest to enjoy.

– Feast your eyes!
Many couples can’t decide on just one dessert or may not be a fan of cake in general so it is time to turn the spotlight on, drumroll please, dessert bars! This allows you to keep guests up and moving and let them grab their favorite sweet tooth remedy.

– The new LBD of wedding cakes..
Making a consistent appearance at wedding receptions everywhere is the cupcake tower. I like to see a great combination of designed cake stands with simple cupcakes. This is another great way to get your favorite couple of flavors in front of your guests.

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Prepare the kilts…tomorrow is St. Patty’s day!

My mother is one of eleven. Nine girls and two boys were born to my Grandma and Grandpa O’Brien. They were your typical Midwest Irish Catholic family. There is even a stained glass window for ‘The O’Brien family’ at the small church near the family farm. I remember going to my grandparent’s house every Sunday when the family would get together for dinner. This happened to be  a very feasible commute considering my parents built our house 4 miles down the road from the family farm.

Back of my parents house

Traffic jam in central Illinois

I didn’t realize until the age of 12 that it is really not normal to have 50 first cousins and that hide-and-go-seek in a chicken coup is actually quite disgusting. Regardless, I am now a adult old woman flying from NYC to Chicago so that I can take part in what my family equates to most people’s holiday celebration: St. Patty’s day.

I hope that everyone is safe and irish tomorrow. Don’t forget to count that beer as a great carb load and plan a nice long run on Friday 🙂

And as my Grandpa Daniel O’Brien used to say, “Wherever you go and whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish be there with you.”

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Island time and welcome baskets..destination weddings

When it comes to planning a wedding, it may scare you to think about relinquishing all control to a far-away place, trusting a “wedding coordinator” who you have never met and, more importantly, has never met you and your fiance. I want to draw attention to the reason people choose a destination wedding and help alleviate some of the fears by giving you things to think about and help you truly enjoy planning an experience for all your guests.

Why a destination?

First, when I ask why did you choose location “x”, many couple’s respond by saying that they had a very special trip to that place or it has emotional significance to their past and they are wanting to share this with all of their family and friends. Whether it is Greece, New York City or Wyoming, Illinois (shout out to my hometown), you have to approach this as a wedding weekend and plan events and experiences to help share your story.

Case study: Opa!

I am currently planning a destination wedding in Folegandros, Greece. A small island in Greece with a current Wikipedia population of 667. The church of panaggia is high up on a hill and the bride will have a dramatic 20 minute walk to the top. No donkeys will be used, thank you very much. Today’s post will give you some planning tips and ideas to think about, no matter your destination.

Folegandros, Greece

1.Baby Talk
You need to explain everything in detail when you send out the invites. If there is too much to say then you may want to consider a second mailing to only those who RSVP yes to the invite. Important things for my Greek bride to tell her guests: flight/car/ferry/donkey details, be prepared for a 4 hour ferry ride from Athens to the island (aka – motion sickness heads up), bring flats for the walk to the church (aka – long walk in Louboutin’s will not be fun), and any heads up about the weather and attire needs.

2. Local vs. home-grown
When deciding whether to use local vendors vs. bringing in your own, it really is up to you and your fiance and you can never ask too many questions. What do you value most? Photos? Then you may want to think about flying in your own photographer. I strongly suggest doing at least one site visit around 6-8 months before your wedding weekend to meet with the local vendors (test their punctuality), see their work, taste any food, and do a full walk through from soup to nuts (see the guest rooms, ceremony space, cocktail area, reception and dancing area).

3. Give them a well-thought out welcome package.
Whether it is NYC or an island, there will be some or a lot of guests who have never been to that destination before. A welcome package is the first thing they see when they check-in to their hotel or enter their room. It is a thoughtful way of thanking them for making the trip and an easy way to give them more information now they are on the island. Creative bride tip: Try to incorporate something that could give them a sneak peek of that night’s event (ex: having a welcome party on the beach? maybe give them some flip flips with a note that says “See you tonight at 7:00pm!”). Other things to possibly include in the welcome package – maps, water, snacks,

New York City welcome basket from Chelsea Market baskets

4. Let’s get this party started.
A welcome celebration is a great way to kick off the wedding weekend. It can be as informal or formal as you want but gives you an opportunity to do something with your guests that you may not want to be a part of your wedding day. For example, an all white attire beach party, a Hawaiian shirt luau, etc etc. This is also a great chance to do any toasts that are not going to be a part of the reception.

5. Give your guests time to relax during the weekend.
You may think you need to plan every minute for your guest from the moment they step off the plane but, for the sake of all wedding guests out there, please don’t. Give your guests time to relax and explore the destination on their own with some gentle guidance from your well-thought out welcome package.

6. Hi my name is…..
The biggest thing to remember is that you are NOT a resort/hotel employee nor are you a tour guide. Don’t give in to the impulse to show people around, take them on excursions, order lunch by the pool for people, grab drinks for people, etc etc. You must remember that this is ultimately your wedding weekend and that you should take time to get away and go for a run, go to the spa and take a nap. You do not need to be the 24/7 concierge and your guests will commend you for it. You can hear about their wedding weekend stories at the next family holiday party.

Bon voyage and happy planning!

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Take a convertible to your wedding, and a limo too!

Last week I was asked to be a part of an amazing photo shoot at the W in Union Square. See pic below. It was surreal to put on another wedding dress 4 years after my wedding day and play the part of the bride. It helped me to re-appreciate the role and stress of  gearing up for the big day and how the act of putting on the dress can truly change the way you look and feel.
With that said, let’s talk about the wedding dress that I have on because it is actually a convertible dress which came back in to the spotlight in 2010 and has continued its way to the aisle throughout 2011. This 2-in-1 wedding gown is a great option for any bride that wants that dramatic celebrity change out for dancing at their reception but doesn’t want to split their gown budget in half to buy two dresses. Here is a close-up of the dress that I am wearing from David Tutera by Faviana:

Dress by David Tutera by Faviana

Still undecided about this trend? Check out a few more styles below. Wedding dresses in order from top to bottom:  David Tutera for Faviana, Morgan Boszilkov – Natural Bridal Collection, Morgan Boszilkov – Natural Bridal Collection, Martina Liana, Legends by Romona Keveza- 187
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Bridal Acronym alert: SDE (same day edit)

I have had multiple brides ask me if they should produce a same day edit and what are their options. A same day edit is when a videographer takes video clips starting from either your rehearsal dinner or when you and your fiance start getting ready, all the way through the group pictures before reception. Then during cocktails, that person will go work magic by editing these clips to produce an amazing glimpse of what you have been through that day.

The reason for same-day editing is to be able to show it to your guests at the reception as a kind of backstage pass at what went down when they weren’t watching. I would suggest showing it during the first or second course as to not take away from any dance sets.

Your SDE videographer will be able to continue taking footage during the reception so that you will have a full wedding day video when it is all said and done.

Need some inspiration? This SDE from GEBBS Wedding Films was shown to me when I was a guest at a St. Louis wedding. I love their little dog!

The next video is a SDE with a twist done by Elysium Productions. The videographer actually coordinated a background song to create a wedding day music video. You could show something like this at a brunch the next morning.


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