Feature Friday: A Match Made in Heaven Event Center


 

Over the past few weeks,I have featured some really great wedding venues here in Orlando Florida. And to me at least, they have all screamed of one particular type of atmosphere and theme or another. Well today we are going in a totally different direction.  So for all of you brides out there still searching away for a great wedding venue in Orlando; Heaven Event Center may be the place for you. 

Picture this…NOTHING! Absolutely nothing.  A huge room…completely empty.  A blank canvas if you will. I am not kidding.  No exaggeration.   The event space is piped and draped in all white (this comes standard, but you can pick whatever color you want to dress the walls with). The ceiling is prepped for hanging anything your heart desires. You want wall to wall dreamy romance? No problem. How about swank modern sophistication? Let’s do it! Love the club scene or maybe your dream wedding puts you in the mood for  a 1920’s speakeasy. Go for it! If you can dream it, you can do it. All I can say is ah.maz.ing!  In this place…Heaven is the perfect name for the most creative and imaginative brides.  You don’t have to settle for anything you don’t like. There’s no graphic carpet with odd colors to work around. Same thing with the wallpaper and the chairs and anything else you can imagine. This place is completely and totally customizable.  What more can I say?  You HAVE to check this place out! 

Ready for some pictures?  

Photo Credit(s): Jahgon Photography & Lori Barbely Photography

In addition to all of that; They have free ample parking for over 400 guests.  There is a bridal suite for changing and your rental period is 24 hours (not the typical 4-5 hours).  Want to hear more or tour the facility?  Contact me or give the Heaven Event Center a call directly! 

Joy

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My Lazy Sunday


Vector image of a bunch of bananas.

Image via Wikipedia

Lucky me.  My children Robi and Drew slept in late this morning.  How refreshing it is to get an extra hour or two of sleep in the morning (a rarity I assure you).  Today, will be my lazy Sunday….NOT!  No sooner did my tribe awaken did the madness begin.  By the way, did I tell you that there is a 8 1/2 year age difference in my kids?  Yup.  So Robi (the oldest) thinks she’s the boss, and Drew (the baby)…he’s not having it.  

Responding to the screams from the kitchen as they fight over eating the bananas they think are too soft for human consumption.  I make it over to them just in time to witness a perfectly good banana getting tossed in the trash.  With a huge sigh, I send them packing as I decide what to make for breakfast AND what to do with these perfectly good yet overripe bananas.  

I turn to my favorite food channel for help and what do I see?!?!  One of my favorite chefs making  muffins with ripe bananas!  As I watch her make this simple recipe, I see that I have everything I need to make them.  What a relief.  I’ve got breakfast in the bag (for the kids at least…I happen to despise bananas)!

First comes love…then comes keeping your kids happy and fed with banana muffins!  Ta-dah!!!

 

Joy

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Feature Friday: Leu Gardens


Mizell Leu House, in the Harry P. Leu Gardens,...

Image via Wikipedia

Hello everyone.  It’s Friday again and it’s time to explore another awesome Orlando Florida wedding venue.  Today… it’s the Harry P. Leu Gardens; more simply known as Leu Gardens.  Just as our other venues, this beautiful treasure is perfectly hidden away in plain sight, downtown Orlando.  Famous for its large population of camellias and many other plant varieties, the garden has been open to the public for years.  Harry P Leu and his wife loved being surrounded by flowers and trees.  They wanted to beautify Orlando and as a result, Mr. Leu was known as the “Johnny Appleseed” of Central Florida.  

This passion for horticulture is the reason why Leu Gardens is such a beautiful wedding venue.  If you are looking for a luscious and romantic garden setting, you really need to check this place out.  They have eight wedding sites in total on the property.  Four of them are for weddings of over 25 people and the other four are dedicated to intimate weddings with a maximum of 25 people.  Basically, they can accommodate your every garden wedding vision and need.  

Other things you may want to know…they are very reasonably priced for wedding ceremonies and receptions.  There are changing rooms on site for the bride and the groom and most importantly, they have a Plan B area in the event of inclement weather.  

Any questions?  Feel free to comment below or contact Leu Gardens directly.   Also, if you were married at this venue, I (and any newly engaged couples out there) would love to hear about your experiences!  

Joy

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Nursing School Grad Party


My sister-in-law and good friend Cheri has been working very hard for quite some time to get through nursing school and this month she graduated.  This full-time working single mother of two is so full of determination she inspires everyone that comes in her path.  I was honored to be among the few invited to watch her take the Florence Nightingale pledge during her pinning ceremony.   And I have to say, especially being that I’d never heard it before (I thought only physicians had to take a pledge), it was a bit inspiring.  If you haven’t heard it either, it goes like this:

“I solemnly pledge before God, and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity, and to practice my profession faithful.  I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take, or knowingly administer, any harmful drug.  I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard  of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping, and all family affairs coming to my knowledge, in the practice of my calling.  With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.”

Listening to this pledge truly renewed my respect and admiration for those that choose the care of others as a profession.  So when Cheri asked me and Chef Hubby to plan her party due to her very demanding schedule, how could we possibly turn her down! 

With nursing as the obvious theme, we went with classic nursing colors…red and white.  The centerpiece of the celebration…a beautiful three-tiered custom cupcake tower furnished by Sweet! by Good Golly Miss Holly.  All of the cupcakes were decorated with red and white frosting and some were topped off with sugar graduation caps.  Sweet! did an amazing job and I would recommend them to anyone for any event, be it a wedding, anniversary, baby shower, you name it they can do it!  Just take a look.

In addition to this wonderful cake display, Chef Hubby’s  menu concept was a hit.  Guests were greeted at the door with a welcome margarita (Cheri’s favorite) and butler passed Waygu “Kobe” beef tenderloin on garlic croustade with gorgonzola butter.   Sounds great right, well it tasted as good it sounds.  There was also a buffet table complete with a fresh fruit and cheese platter along with an array of amuse bouche appetizers for the guests to enjoy.

congratulations again Cheri on your graduation!  We at The Day I Marry, Inc had a blast working on your event!!!

Joy

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Grade School…Public or Private?


Today is the first day of school and although it’s not a milestone year (Robi is going into the 5th grade and Drew is only two), our house was buzzing this morning with excitement for all that this school year may have to offer.  Why?  Well, we are taking the leap from public school to private school.  No more FCAT; hello SAT. Goodbye classroom overcrowding, hello hands on instruction.  Uniforms?  Yes please.  Robi’s new school has only TWO, yes two fifth grade classes.  This is exactly what she needs and Chef Hubby and I are super excited for her. 

Drew on the other hand, he is starting at a new daycare which is right next to Robi’s school.  Actually they are on the same campus…super convenient!  Only one drawback…or two really.  They don’t allow pacifiers OR crocs shoes.  These are the two most important things in his little life.  Remember torture by pacifier?  Well, we are terrified…for the teacher that is! 

None the less we started this day with a bang and it just keeps getting better!  What a difference we’ve noticed already between the two types of school environments (I guess you really do get what you pay for).  All of the families were extremely friendly and cooperative.   I’ve never hugged so many strangers in my life (except for maybe on my wedding day!!!)  When it was time to enter the building, there were a few returning students standing in the hallway holding up signs with the names of  various new students on them.  Same as the airport, you know, the limo driver standing with a sign in his hand with the name of an arriving passenger?  It was just like that!  Robi met up with her welcome buddy and we (Robi, Chef Hubby and me) were escorted to the classroom.  I couldn’t believe how much everyone wanted to help and make sure that we matriculate into this new system with minimal difficulty.   And her teacher; talk about someone who has a passion for education.  Before today, we have received about three emails from him.  An introduction, a request for pictures and a lesson plan for week one.  All I can say is… WOW!  I think we have found a new school home and I only wish we had found it sooner! 

P.S.:  I can’t wait to hear about how the rest of day one went! 

Here’s to a great new school year!!

Joy

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Feature Friday: Casa Feliz


casafeliz01

Image by jcbonbon via Flickr

 Today’s feature… Casa Feliz but first, let me just say that I am LOVING the romantic charm of the last few venues.  Luckily, it doesn’t stop there.  We are on a roll people!  Casa Feliz is just as beautiful.  It is an old world farmhouse and historic museum located in Winter Park Florida.  A place so beloved by its community that when faced with demolition in the year 2000, the community got together and saved it.  They even moved it from its original location to where it stands currently and then restored it to perfection.  The best part, not only has it been opened up to the public for tours, brides and grooms can say their I Do’s there!  If you are looking for a place that is stunning yet quaint and cozy in nature, you’ll love this place.  

The farmhouse can accommodate a wedding ceremony of up to 120 people on the front lawn.  If you are thinking of a smaller wedding, it can be held inside the home itself.  For the bride and groom, there are suites available for getting ready as well.  I have always loved venues with this feature because you don’t have to rush.  You can take your time, relax and know that you don’t have to worry about transportation; for you or  your wedding party. 

Take a look around their photo gallery for insight into what this venue can bring to your wedding dreams.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me by commenting below or calling the staff at Casa Feliz.  

Joy

 

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Feature Friday: Courtyard at Lake Lucerne


Where do I begin?  When it comes to my description of The Courtyard at Lake Lucerne, there’s only one thing to say…fabulous! This place is classy, elegant and super romantic.  There’s a warmth and charm about it that you just have to see to believe.  The courtyard itself is filled with trees that have been enhanced with twinkle lights, so for an evening wedding and reception, you can just feel the magic in the air.  Think…a midsummer’s night dream.  With the aroma of the food, the sound of the music (something soft and jazzy is what I imagine, at least for the first half of the evening) you can almost see the fairies fluttering through the trees casting spells of love and mischief.  If I could (and believe me, I have asked Chef Hubby) I would have another wedding and it would be here!!! 

Okay, back to business.  Like the Orlando Museum of Art featured last week, The Courtyard at Lake Lucerne is located in the downtown Orlando area.  They are a historic bed and breakfast Inn.  The decor is that of old world Victorian English complete with period furnishings.  The most famous of the four Inns on site is named for Dr. Phillip Phillip’s who is a legend to Central Florida.  The Dr. Phillip’s House and the I.W. Phillips House (my personal fav) are the Inns used for weddings and receptions and they can accommodate your guests as well.  Ready for some pictures?  

(source)

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This place is extremely elegant AND extremely affordable.  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Want to see more?  There are plenty of pictures to look through in the photo gallery on their website as well as pricing information.  Trust me, you will be pleased with what you find!   Have questions?  Contact me or The Courtyard at lake Lucerne directly by emailing them at angie@thecourtyardatlakelucerne.com

Joy

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Torture by Pacifier


 

Okay…so my son Andrew just turned two years old this week and he is still VERY attached to his pacifier or “pappie” as he calls it.  He sleeps with one every night and he has to have one or more of them in his sight when he is playing throughout the day.  There are many times when he has one in his mouth and one in each hand.  He is obsessed!

In his two short years of life, we have purchased a multitude of pacifiers and luckily for us (depending on how you look at it), he doesn’t discriminate.  He’ll suck almost any pacifier we give him and as a result, at any given time we have about 5-10 pacifiers lying around the house.  I’m wondering though, if this is actually making the problem worse.  At least on the home front anyway.  Why do I say this?  Well, because he doesn’t ask for a pappie at daycare.  When either Chef Hubby or I take him to school in the morning, he goes into class and immediately hands his teacher the coveted personal treasure.  AND, we have been told that he only asks for it at nap time and when he wakes up from his nap, he immediately hands the pappie back to the teacher for safe keeping in his cubby until it’s time to go home.

Now, when I pick Drew up from daycare, it’s a completely different story.  As soon as he sees me, he says MOOOMMYYYYYY with a huge smile on his face and arms wide open ready for a huge hug.  He starts to run in my direction but then he remembers his pappie, stops, changes direction and makes a beeline for his cubby.    “Get it Mommy, Get it Pappie!” he screams at me.  So of course, I go to the cubby, get the pappie and hand it over.  Meanwhile, his teacher is looking at our exchange and smiling to herself.  I know exactly what she’s thinking.   Andrew and his pacifier are controlling mommy’s life!!!!!

Well, she’s right.  Andrew and his pacifier ARE controlling my life and I need help!  Somebody pleeeeease help.   If the pappie is out of Drew’s sight even for a moment, he demands that I, Robi (big sister) and/or daddy (Chef Hubby) stop what we are doing and look for it.  He literally tells us to “find it” and if we don’t, he throws a temper tantrum.  First comes love… then comes Torture by Pacifier.  We go through this every day all day.  And yet, he doesn’t do this at daycare.  I’m so confused. 

So the questions are many.  How do we wean Andrew off the pacifier?  Why does he only give our family a hard time and not the daycare?  Should we even worry about it? Are any of you going through the same thing?    

I’d love to hear thoughts and helpful ideas from all you parents out there.  I…we…our family… desperately want to live in a pappie free zone!!

Joy

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Feature Friday: Orlando Museum of Art


Today kicks off a new series for First Comes Love… Feature Fridays.  Every week, I will take a look at something new and exciting in the wonderful world of weddings and share all the beautiful things I find.  For the month of August (and a little beyond if needed) I’ll be focused on the fabulously romantic places to get married in the Orlando area.  Our first stop on this venue tour…The Orlando Museum of Art.

Located near downtown in Orlando’s Lock Haven Park, the Orlando Museum of Art is truly a beautiful gem hidden in plain sight.  If you are looking for a modern yet cultured wedding event space complete with stunning marble floors, a sky-lighted atrium and floor to ceiling windows and doors, then this is the place for you.   The Museum’s artsy sophistication really helps to set a mood filled with class and elegance. 

If that’s not enough to convince you to check this place out, then let me fill you in on a little bit more.   They are right off of I-4 at the Princeton exit (making them hard to miss) and they have a large free parking lot (talk about guest friendly).   And did I mention picture taking opportunities???  Lock Haven Park is one of Orlando’s finest and most picturesque places, perfect for wedding day pictures.  It sits between three lakes and is shaded with large beautiful Oak trees, one of which is called “The Major” and story has it, it’s one of Central Florida’s largest and oldest (approximately 225 years old) Oak trees. 

But don’t just take my word for it.  See for yourself!  Check out the Museum’s ebrochure for plenty of beautiful pictures and ideas.

Seen enough?  Ready to book a tour?  Contact me or the museum directly at:

Mary Smart
Facility Rental Sales Coordinator
Orlando Museum of Art
2416 North Mills Ave
Orlando, Florida 32803
T:  407.896.4231 x 248
F: 407.896.9920
E: msmart@omart.org

Joy

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Cooking 101


Every weekend for as long as I can remember, my family would get together on Saturday or Sunday around brunch time to cook, eat and just enjoy each other’s company.  Now that I’m married with a family of my own, I have greatly enjoyed carrying on this tradition.  Not to mention the fact that this tradition fits right in with Chef Hubby’s passion for food (that could be one of the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place).  First comes love (for each other)…then comes our mutual love and passion for cooking!

 Anyway, back to the cooking.  Most of the time our menu choices were always centered on soul food, but that has evolved over time.  Now we really enjoy printing out recipes from our favorite food shows and making them our own.  This past weekend we messed around with the featured recipes on 5 Ingredient Fix and one other show.  I have to say that they came out pretty great with the changes that we made, but I was irritated by the lack of instruction for the written recipe of my favorite dish of the day. 

I was really excited to make the Mussels in red wine sauce and it was my first time ever cooking them.  I looked over the recipe and saw that I needed Mussels (of course) and they had to be washed and bearded.  I had no idea what it meant to beard a mussel, the recipe didn’t explain and so I had to ask Chef Hubby for help.  Apparently, there is a plant stem that sticks out of the mussel while it’s in the ocean.  It is how they attach themselves to other things in the ocean.  When you buy them in the grocery store, they may or may not have this stem attached to them.  If they do, then you will have to ‘beard’ (pull out the stem) them.  The ones I bought were already bearded. 

I washed the Mussels as required and continued with the recipe.  Except for the ingredient changes, I did everything as instructed.   Especially the part about adding an entire bottle of Spanish red wine to the mix!  In 25 minutes the dish was complete and I was ready to serve it, along with everything else we made.  I have to say, as well as the dish turned out, it was also a bit disappointing.  The flavors were great, amazing even.  But I couldn’t get past how ‘winey’ the broth tasted.  The alcohol had not cooked out.  How could I have made that mistake?  I double checked the recipe to make sure I had executed it correctly and I had.  How confusing.  Clearly, there was a step left out.  The recipe didn’t give an instruction to simmer the broth before adding the mussels.  Why not?  Chef Hubby said that chefs rarely ever give out their actual recipes and they don’t have the time to explain every cooking technique. Well, I don’t think that’s fair.  If you know that your audiences consist of home cooks and your network’s mantra is to teach…then why not instruct them on the proper cooking techniques.  And not just on-screen, but in the written recipes as well. 

In any case, the food was great and I have pictures of the finished product.  As for my first ever cooking 101 tips; make sure you read and understand the recipe and it’s execution in its entirety BEFORE you start cooking.

Mussels, Baked Ricotta and Spicy Baked Chickpeas

 

Enjoy

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