Summer Nights by the Fire

Sitting by the campfire is, hands down, one of my favorite things to do.  So it shouldn’t be a surprise that when I moved to a home with a backyard, one of the first orders of business was a gardener and a fire pit.

Summer Nights by FireI’m sitting by it as I type this post.  Lol.  That’s right.  Regardless of what you’ve heard, crackling wood is just as perfect on a summer night (or rainy day as is the current situation) as it is on a cool fall night.

And it’s even better when shared with loved ones.  When you need an easy way to keep the party going past twilight, take your circle of friends into the yard for cocktails, conversation, and a cracking fire!

A portable fire bowl brings instant ambiance to outdoor parties – I love my Hampton Bay fire pit which was a permanent loan from my parents house but I recently spotted it at Home Depot for $89.00.  As host or hostess, here’s how to play it safe:

  1. FirePit Sign2Check local laws. Contact your community fire department to find out what types of fires, if any, are allowed. Some cities require permits for fire features. Others burn all open burning.
  2. Select a safe site.  Codes vary, but the general recommendation is to locate a fire feature at least 10 feet from structures and trees. Set fire bowls on a nonflammable surface, such as concrete, stone, or gravel.
  3. Ignite it right.  Burn only dry wood and kindling that’s no more than three-fourths the bowl’s diameter.  Fatwood is a good fire starter.  Don’t use lighter fluid or gas and cover with a domed screen to keep the sparks in (fyi, the Hampton Bay fire pit I mentioned earlier comes with a dome).
  4. Snuff it out.  Campfire Rules 101 state you NEVER leave a fire unattended.  Let the fire ebb slowly, then drizzle water on embers until they’re no longer smoldering.  Keep a fire extinguisher on hand for emergencies.

For other camping/campfire recipes, games, and entertainment ideas, check out our Pinterest board A-Camping We Will Go!

Here’s to warm summer nights with family and friends!

Lavender Infused Lemonade with Honey – the ONLY Summer Lemonade Recipe You Need!

Though I’m born and raised as a city girl, my roots trace back to the deep south and (in my Phaedra Parks’ voice) everybody knows it’s impolite to not have a cold glass of homemade lemonade or sweet tea at-the-ready for guests in the hot summer months.

Though southern belle at heart, there’s no better joy than discovering a remix on an “oldie but goodie” and this home-brewed Lavender Infused Lemonade with Honey hits the spot with a distinctive, refreshing taste and plenty of Vitamin C. Not to mention, it’s vegetarian, paleo safe, and gluten free – if you’re into those kind of things!

Your INGREDIENTS include:

Lavender Lemonade with Honey

  • 1 cup raw honey (local if you can get it)
  • 5 cups purified water
  • 1 Tbsp. dried, organic culinary lavender (or 1/4 cup fresh lavender blossoms, crushed)
  • 1 cup fresh-squeezed, organic lemon juice, strained
  • Ice cubes
  • Lavender sprigs, for garnish

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients:

  • Bring 2 1/2 cups purified water to boil in a medium pan
  • Remove from heat and add in honey, stirring to dissolve
  • Add the lavender to the honey water, cover the pan, and let steep (at least 20 minutes or up to several hours) to taste.

You can put the lavender into a tea infuser or reusable tea bag for easier clean up. Otherwise,

  • Strain mixture and either compost or discard the remaining lavender
  • Pour infusion into a glass pitcher
  • Add lemon juice and approximately another 2 1/2 cups of cold water, to taste.
  • Stir well.
  • Refrigerate until ready to use, or pour into tall glasses half-filled with ice, then garnish with lavender sprigs.

Lavender Herb

Okay, so listen closely! Use of lavender essential oil in this recipe is NOT recommended.


Consuming lavender oil can be toxic, cause allergic reactions, as well as contribute to hormone imbalances in men and boys. Signs of lavender oil toxicity include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, blurred vision, burning pain in the throat, difficulty breathing and skin rash.

If you suspect you have an allergy to lavender or decide to use essential oil – although we suggested against it – and start to exhibit any of these signs, please call Poison Control immediately!

Otherwise, step 8 is to simply, ENJOY!

Cheers to the summer!  Happy planning!



The Royal Wedding Rewind

harry-meghan-royal-wedding-26On May 19, 2018, the world witnessed Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle marry at St George’s Chapel surrounded by their family and friends. Thousands of people lined the streets of Windsor to get a glimpse of the happy couple,  and millions more around the world watched on television and online.  Because our invitation got lost in the mail we were amongst the many groggily tuned in at 4:30am (though admittedly without tea and scones) to the royal affair.

And a royal affair it was…and in case you missed it we’ve combed the entire internet to bring you the details.

Let’s just cut straight to the price tag.  Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding racked up a royal price tag coming in at an estimated $45 million.

Despite the steep total, that’s nothing compared to the price of Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ 1981 ceremony, which cost $110 million (adjusted for inflation). It did, however cost more than 2011 Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton, which totaled about $34 million.

So what does a $45M dollar wedding consist of?

Well, lot’s of security, for one.  As you can imagine, great lengths were taken to ensure the safety and security of not only a highly revered couple but that of the very high profile guest list and the public.  As such, security was the most expensive factor.

Yep, you read that correctly.  The biggest chunk of the bill – about $40 million total – didn’t go to the venue, dress, catering or decor—it went to keeping the celebrants, guests, and public safe.

BRITAIN-US-ROYALS-WEDDING-GUESTSEven though the ceremony didn’t take place in London’s crowded city center, thousands of members of the public were invited into Windsor Castle grounds for the special event, and about 100,000 spectators were estimated to gather in the town of Windsor.

Safety protocol likely included rooftop snipers, undercover street police,  a counter-UAV system (which deactivate intruder and paparazzi drones), and a “drone destroyer, ” according to UK wedding planning app, Bridebook.  This is not a wedding I’d show up to without being 100% sure I was on the guest list.serena-williams-wedding-lede

It was initially announced that the royal family would be paying for the wedding, but their part of the bill would only cover “the core aspects of the wedding, such as the church service, the associated music, flowers, decorations, and the reception afterwards,” the palace announced. Taxpayers are likely responsible for security costs, The Independent reports.

The Bride’s Attire

Though not confirmed, it’s very possible the bride picked up the tab for her wedding gown, which was a custom design by the acclaimed British designer, Clare Waight Keller, who just last year became the first female Artistic Director at the historic French fashion house Givenchy.

Meghan and Ms. Waight Keller worked closely together on the gown, creating a design of pure lines achieved using six meticulously placed seams extended towards the back where the train flowed in soft round folds cushioned by an underskirt in triple silk organza. The focus of the dress was the graphic open bateau neckline that gracefully framed her shoulders and emphasized the slender sculpted waist and the slim three-quarter sleeves add a note of refined modernity.

The dress epitomized timeless minimal elegance referencing the codes of the iconic House of Givenchy and showcasing the expert craftsmanship of its world-renowned Parisian couture atelier founded in 1952.

The Duchess expressed the wish of having all 53 countries of the Commonwealth – of which Her Majesty, the Queen, is Head – with her on her journey through the ceremony and with that Ms. Waight Keller designed a veil, made of silk tulle and nearly 16.5 feet long, representing the distinctive flora of each Commonwealth country united in one spectacular fashion floral arrangement.

Each flower was worked flat, in three dimensions to create a unique and delicate design. The workers spent hundreds of hours meticulously sewing and washing their hands every thirty minutes to keep the tulle and threads pristine.

In addition to the flora of the Commonwealth, Meghan also selected two personal favorites, Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox), which grows in the grounds of Kensington Palace in front of Nottingham Cottage, and the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) the State flower from the bride’s place of birth, California.

Symmetrically placed at the very front of the veil were crops of wheat, delicately embroidered and blended into the flora, to symbolize love and charity.

The veil was held in place by Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau tiara, lent to Meghan by The Queen. The diamond and platinum bandeau is English and was made in 1932, with the center brooch dating from 1893 and was formed as a flexible band of eleven sections, pierced with interlaced ovals and pavé set with large and small brilliant diamonds.  The center was set with a detachable brooch of ten brilliant diamonds.


The diamond bandeau was made for Queen Mary and specifically designed to accommodate the center brooch. This brooch was given as a present to the then Princess Mary in 1893 by the County of Lincoln on her marriage to Prince George, Duke of York.  The bandeau and the brooch were bequeathed by Queen Mary to The Queen in 1953.

To finish the look, the Bride wore earrings and a bracelet made by Cartier. The wedding shoes were based on a Givenchy refined pointed couture design made of a silk duchess satin.  Meghan’s hair was styled by Serge Normant, with make-up by long-time friend and make-up artist Daniel Martin.  And she looked TIMELESS!!

The Bouquet

The Bride’s bouquet was a darling petite design by florist, Philippa Craddock, pulled together in a gentle, ethereal, relaxed style with delicate blooms also including scented sweet peas, lily of the valley, astilbe, jasmine and astrantia, and sprigs of myrtle – grown from the myrtle used in The Queen’s wedding bouquet of 1947- all bound with naturally dyed, raw silk ribbon.  The spring blooms include Forget-Me-Nots which were Princess Diana’s favorite flower.

And in what is an absolute beautifully romantic gesture, Prince Harry handpicked several flowers from their private garden at Kensington Palace to add to the final bouquet (Insert SWOON here!)


The myrtle was first carried by Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, when she married in 1858.

Bridesmaids’ Dresses

Clare Waight Keller also designed the six young Bridesmaids’ dresses in the Givenchy Haute Couture Atelier in Paris to have the same timeless purity as Meghan’s dress.

Each dress – high-waisted with short puff sleeves and hand finished with a double silk ribbon detail tied at the back in a bow, pockets and pleated skirts – was sculpted in Ivory silk Radzimir to create a relaxed and luxurious silhouette.

White leather Aquazurra shoes – monogrammed with the Bridesmaids initials, and the wedding date – were gifted from Meghan to the young ladies as a keepsake of the special day.  How cute!!

Bridesmaids’ Flowers

The bridesmaids adorned crowns of flowers replicating the flowers used in the bridal bouquet and were also designed by florist Philippa Craddock.


The Page Boys

The four Pages wore a miniature version of the Blues and Royals frock-coat which were cut and made by tailors Dege & Skinner.

Their leg garments were made from blue/black wool barathea with three-quarter scarlet stripes fastened with a leather strap.

As a special memento, each Page had their initials embroidered in gold on their shoulder straps.

Mother of the Bride’s Dress

Meghan and Mom on Wedding Day

Ms. Doria Ragland was a beacon of sunshine in a custom dress and day coat designed by creative directors of Oscar de la Renta, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim.  Her shoes were designed by Edgardo Osorio of Aquazurra, and her custom hat was designed exclusively for her by British milliner Stephen Jones, O.B.E.

Stephen Jones was also commissioned by Ms. Markle to create custom hats for several of her closest friends.

The Groom’s Attire

Prince William, who is commissioned in all three Armed Services, and who has served actively with the Army (The Household Cavalry Regiment) and with the Royal Air Force (Search and Rescue Force), chose to wear the uniform of Colonel of the Irish Guards on his Wedding Day.

Prince Harry and his bride chose Cleave and Company to make their Wedding rings.

Meghan’s ring was fashioned from a piece of Welsh Gold, gifted by The Queen, while Prince Harry’s ring was a Platinum Band with a textured finish. Both rings were crafted in the Cleave workshop and were carried to St George’s Chapel on the day of the Wedding by The Duke of Cambridge, in his capacity as Best Man.

The Ceremony

On the morning of the wedding, Kensington Palace published the order of service online, which was conducted by the Dean of Windsor and officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The couple selected words from The Marriage Service from Common Worship (2000), using contemporary language – such as the word “you” instead of “thee” and “thou” – and, as is common these days, Meghan did not promise to “obey” Harry.

Ben E King’s soul classic “Stand By Me” was performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir, and a gospel choir performed Etta James’s version of “Amen/This Little Light of Mine” as the newlyweds left the chapel. Hymns included the Welsh rugby anthem “Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer”, otherwise known as “Bread of Heaven”.

After the couple were married, they undertook a carriage procession from St George’s Chapel through Windsor town returning to Windsor Castle along the Long Walk.

BRITAIN-US-ROYALS-WEDDING-CEREMONYNext destination…the wedding reception – a private affair for 200 close friends and family – at the Frogmore House.

Prince Charles hosted the black-tie bash, described by guests as “magical,” which began on Saturday evening and raged on into the early hours of Sunday morning.  Guests were requested to hand their phones over when they arrived to ensure the celebrity packed party remained private, which explains why we’re still collecting the details but so far, here’s what we know.
The Speeches


Harry’s best man, his big brother Prince William, led the way, apparently opening the speeches with ‘filthy’ jokes that had the crowds roaring with laughter.

Harry’s oldest friend Charlie van Straubenzee – who William introduced as ‘God’s gift, Charlesworth’ – then took over and proceeded to poke fun.

Van Straubenzee told guests how Harry was his dormitory monitor when he arrived at Ludgrove School in Berkshire aged eight.

Crowds were said to be in stitches when van Straubenzee teased Harry about his penchant for falling off Polo horses, saying: “He’s always so hungover when he plays!”

On a more serious note, van Straubenzee then turned to talk of tough times, seeing his friend going through the loss of his mother, Princess Diana, in 1997.

It was Harry’s turn to take the mic next, and he is said to have led with a tribute to his dad, the Prince of Wales, thanking him for all the love he gives him and his brother.

He also thanked Meghan’s mother for her “amazing daughter, my wife,” which a guest said had the whole room cheering.

Harry is said to have ended his speech by turning to the glowing Meghan and telling her she looked “simply stunning,” and that he felt “very, very lucky to have you by my side.”

And then, guests say, he told them all to have a “serious party!”

Meghan closed off the speeches, making history as the first royal bride to speak at her wedding.

One guest said Meghan thanked the Queen and the rest of the royal family for making her feel so welcomed.

She thanked Prince Charles especially for walking her down the aisle after her father couldn’t make it, and for being so kind to her mother. Guests said she said plenty of lovely things about her new husband too.

After the speeches ended, James Corden surprised everyone with a performance in full Tudor dress-up, making an entrance saying: “Your royal highnesses, ladies and gentlemen, I had no idea what to wear to a royal wedding so I looked it up in the royal etiquette manual and found this outfit.”


The earlier parts of the evening are said to have guests dancing to a soul band singing classics such as In the Midnight Hour, Soul Man and My Girl and THEN, Actor Idris Elba (and imaginary future husband) took over the turntables and got the party started later in the evening. It is also rumored that the Godmother himself, Elton John, performed and Meghan, officially the Duchess of Sussex, read a poem to Prince Harry that brought the entire room to tears.

The Menu

Chef Claire Smyth, protege of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, was in charge of the menu for the evening. Here is what guests tucked into:

Pre-dinner aperitifs and canapés

  • Peach bellinis and champagne served with hoisin duck and organic Duchy home farm beef carpaccio canapés


Royal Wedding Reception


  • Potato and roe with beurre blanc, herring and trout roe

Main course

  • 64-day aged roast chicken (a reference to Harry proposing to Meghan while “trying to roast a chicken”) with sage, onion and veggies


  • Wild strawberries and lemon verbena


  • Lincolnshire cheddar

Late night snacks from 1am

  • Toasted gruyere and truffle cheese toasties
  • Bacon sandwiches
  • Mini burgers
  • Wine, beer and liqueur (bar and cocktails by Jack Chaplin)
  • Old World wine: Bourgogne Les Settles Olivier Leflaive, Burgundy
  • New World wine: Domaine Eden Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
  • 10-year-old Somerset cider brandy
  • Core Beer from Two Tribes Brewery, West Sussex
  • Port wine gums, made with Taylor’s Port, 1984, from Prince Harry’s christening

Royal Wedding Cake

The cake – a lemon elderflower bake that incorporated the bright flavours of spring – was made by Violet Bakery’s Claire Ptak, and the flowers – branches of beech, birch and hornbeam, and white garden roses, peonies and foxgloves from the gardens and parkland of the Crown Estate and Windsor Park – were arranged by Philippa Craddock.

The couple announced that they would forgo any traditional wedding presents in favor of donations to the following causes: CHIVA (Children’s HIV Association), Crisis (a UK-based homelessness charity), the Myna Mahila Foundation (a charity that supports women in Mumbai’s urban slums), Scotty’s Little Soldiers (which helps bereaved Armed Forces children), StreetGames (a foundation using sport to change lives), Surfers against Sewage and The Wilderness Foundation UK (which promotes the enjoyment of wild nature).


And so, as the magical, decadent evening finally ended and guests had to drag themselves away, one of them said: “None of us ever wanted to leave.” It seems certain to be a night none of them will ever forget.

Meghan and Harry haven’t embarked on their honeymoon just yet. The two are delaying the trip and will head straight to work instead, attending their first royal engagement as a married couple the very next day at a garden party in honor of Prince Charles.

Congratulations again to the happy couple!

Did you watch the wedding?  What were your thoughts?  Tell us in the comments below!

Music Mondays: I’m Sure It’s You

Music MondayEvery once in a while a song is released that reminds you why love is so awesome.  And I’m Sure It’s You by Shelea is another one of those songs to make our #MusicMonday list and our growing list of SocialBFly Love Songs on Spotify.  Don’t believe me?  Listen for yourself and keep it in mind when considering songs for your walk down the aisle.
It’s just the little things that tell you
That you are right where you should be
And whether we’re in love or out of it
There’s something deep inside my heart that tells meI’m sure it’s you, I’m sure its you
None could ever change my mind
Or convince me otherwise
My heart belongs to you
I know we’ll make it through
I’m sure it’s youIf we could do everything over
I wouldn’t try to change a thing
Coz every inch has made us stronger
I’m glad we took the time to wait for God’s sign

I’m sure it’s you, I’m sure it’s you
None could ever change my mind
Or convince me otherwise
My heart belongs to you
I know we’ll make it through
I’m sure it’s you

Today I’m standing here without any fear
You see every moments lead me right to you
But when the cares of life make it hard to believe
I’ll remeber you were meant for me the one to set me free

And I’m sure it’s you, I’m sure it’s you
No one could ever change my mind
Or convince me otherwise
My heart belongs to you
I know we’ll make it through
I’m sure it’s you

Oh baby
I know in my heart it’s you
That’s why I’m gonna say I do
I’m sure it’s you

Event Reminder: 10/29 ‘I Do’ Bridal Networking Brunch

You Are Cordially InvitedThis is a quick reminder that Wedding Professionals (and those looking to enter into the wedding industry), Creative Entrepreneurs, and Brides/Nearlyweds have an open invitation to join us at the 1st installment of ‘I Do’ Bridal Brunch and Networking Event.

This is a FREE vendor networking event where we bring together bridal and creative professionals over coffee and light fare to connect, converse, and exchange ideas and it all takes place this Sunday, October 29 from 11am – 1pm at Rock n Joe Union (900 Green Lane, Union, NJ).

For more information and to confirm your registration. visit us on FaceBook.

See you Sunday!!!


2018 Travel Update: Nine States Will Require Passports For Domestic Flights

travelHeads up! Travel and Leisure recently announced that gone are the days when a passport was reserved for international travel.  Beginning January 22, 2018, that will change for residents of nine states who will no longer be able to get past TSA security checkpoints with their state issued driver’s licenses to travel domestically but rather will need a passport, permanent resident card/green card or a military ID.

It’s called the Real ID Act of 2005, and apparently it states that state-issued IDs from these nine states do not meet the minimum security standards of the federal government:

  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Washington

With just a few months until the Real ID Act goes into full effect, it is time to start planning now and look into getting your passport, especially if you have honeymoon or travel plans on the horizon.

Some states have started working on offering federally approved issued IDs that would not require a passport for domestic air travel but you’ll certainly want to check with your local government office to see if there is a different type of ID you can apply for.

So consider this your official PSA, if this applies to you and start applying for a passport now!  2018 isn’t too far away and there will be a last-minute rush for sure.