Sunday, May 17

Hob-Knobbing Around

This weekend we pretty much did whatever we wanted…ran a race, celebrated our finish times at Tyler’s Tap Room with a few brews (Terrapin Sun Ray Wheat & Big Boss Liquidator), met up with our friend Chris, Sam and Shane, enjoyed Sunday Sushi with my family and finally bought new knobs for our kitchen cabinets.  Oh and we tried the #1 beer in the world…Westvleteren Abt 12Blog 412 Blog 413 Blog 416

Not that our other knobs were terrible or outdated, but we just wanted our kitchen to be more our taste.  Hopefully soon, we will get to work on the “great re-tile and microwave install of ‘09” and the back splash will incorporate a few bronzed tiles mixed in with the natural stone we’ve picked out.  It was pretty easy to settle on one of the hundreds of knobs at Lowe’s this morning and Ben and I could not be more happier with how they bring out the color of our cabinets.   Blog 419 The next step is to faux paint our light fixtures.  We love the design of them, just not the color and I want all the hardware and metals to match.  Then comes the messy part of ripping out the old backsplash, installing the microwave and re-tiling.  Additionally, we need a weekend to paint the dining room…the color is already picked!

Restaurant Week: Girl’s Night Out

Many cities have restaurant weeks and I did not know Raleigh was holding their 2nd annual this past week.  Tara and I enjoy having Girl’s Nights during the week while the boys are either working or having their own Boy’s Night.  After weeks of talking about it, we finally settled on Solas for our restaurant. 

image Solas is one of Raleigh’s newest and hottest restaurants and honestly I was expecting more of a club and lounge than a fine dining type of restaurant.  The deal is: $25 gets you an appetizer, entree, and dessert.  When entrees are priced at $30, this was an amazing deal and a great way to try new places that have been our list for quite some time. 

imageEverything about Solas left me impressed and already talking about coming back.  It’s the perfect place for a group celebration, fancy night out or just grabbing drinks and appetizers with friends.  After walking in the door, I felt like I left Raleigh and arrived in Miami, Las Vegas or New York.  The decor is very chic, sultry, edgy and everything is softened with white sheer curtains around almost every table.  The first floor includes the restaurant, bar and outdoor seating area.  The second floor has another bar and a clear dance floor looking down below.  Finally the third floor is the rooftop bar overlooking the Raleigh skyline. 

imageTara and I arrived a little early for our reservation and enjoyed a Strawberry N’ Balsamic Martini and Peach White Wine Sangria.  For an appetizer we ordered the BBQ Duck Quesadillas and Portobello Fries, both were amazing.  We both had our eye on the Filet Mignon with Cabernet Goat Cheese Butter.  Between courses we ordered one more drink – the 419 Mojito (made with Grapefruit Vodka) for me and a Strawberry Gazpacho cooler for Tara.  The steaks were almost as mouthwatering as our desserts: Flourless Chocolate Cake with Macadamia Nut ice cream and a Blood Orange Creme Brulee! 

Everything was AMAZING!  I can not believe something like this exists in Raleigh…we will definitely be back!

We’re Famous!

After almost three years…it seems our wedding was so awesome, Duke Chapel wanted to feature it on their wedding website!  We received an email from Mollie Keel, the Duke Chapel Wedding Coordinator, letting us know the website had been updated and wanted to know if we recognized anyone.  There we were sharing our first kiss!


Things like this never happen to us, so we were quite surprised.  Duke Chapel has hundreds of weddings every year and ours was almost three year ago!  But, for now, we’ll enjoy our 15 minutes of fame!

Here is the link to see the entire webpage:

Sunday, May 10

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother's Day 2009 096Today we hosted my mom and grandmother for a Mother’s Day Luncheon.  I just love a good excuse to get out on my china and crystal and have a house full of guests!  On the menu was Cream Cheese and Pepper Jelly on crackers for a light snack, Chicken Salad Croissants, Strawberry Pecan Mixed Greens salad, champagne and water.  We found some delicious almond champagne that went amazingly with the chicken salad and my mom brought a friendship dessert bread for a sweet ending to a perfect lunch!Mother's Day 2009 055Mother's Day 2009 081Mother's Day 2009 064   


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Even though I am not a mother yet, I was a mother-to-be, and Ben and my family did a wonderful job at recognizing the holiday for me too.  I thought today would be hard and a little sad, but it was different…it was hopeful and I felt special to be included!  Ben bought me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers ever, delectable chocolates and one of the sweetest cards.  My mom gave me a massage at a new spa in Pittsboro and mentioned she also got herself one and we will be enjoying  a girl’s day of pampering very soon!

Mother's Day 2009 045Mother's Day 2009 039 Mother's Day 2009 087 Today was such a relaxing day, spending time with family and enjoying the beautiful weather!Mother's Day 2009 104

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‘Naner Puddin’ Cheesecake

Saturday night Ben and I went to my dad’s to celebrate an early Mother’s Day dinner with my stepmom and I insisted I would bring dessert.  Normally on my quest for a dessert recipe I look for no less than a 4 star rating and tons of reviews.  I stumbled upon this recipe for Banana Pudding Cheesecake that was rated 5-stars, but only 3 reviews…and I am so glad I took a chance!  Everyone loved it.

It is a relatively basic cheesecake recipe with a vanilla wafer and walnut crust that is not difficult at all.  I was a little worried it would taste like plain cheesecake with meringue on top and would lack the distinct banana flavoring.  However, I was pleasantly surprised that this cheesecake did indeed taste like banana pudding…two of my very favorite desserts.  This recipe will be added to the Stafford’s 5 Star Recipe Book and will probably be one of my best-no-fail dessert recipes for the future!

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Uptown Banana Pudding Cheesecake (Southern Living)

  • 1 1/2  cups  finely crushed vanilla wafers
  • 1/4  cup  chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4  cup  butter, melted
  • 2  large ripe bananas, diced
  • 1  tablespoon  lemon juice
  • 2  tablespoons  light brown sugar
  • 3  (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1  cup  granulated sugar
  • 3  large eggs
  • 1  tablespoon  coffee liqueur
  • 2  teaspoons  vanilla extract
  • Meringue

Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Press evenly into bottom of a lightly greased 9-inch springform pan.

Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Combine diced bananas and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a small saucepan. Stir in 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Place over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute or just until sugar has melted. Set aside.

Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer 3 minutes or until smooth. Gradually add 1 cup granulated sugar, beating until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in coffee liqueur and vanilla. Pour into prepared vanilla wafer crust. Spoon tablespoonfuls of banana mixture evenly over top, and swirl gently into cream cheese mixture.

Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until center is almost set.

Drop spoonfuls of Meringue gently and evenly over hot filling.

Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until Meringue is golden brown. Remove from oven, and gently run a knife around edge of cheesecake in springform pan to loosen. Cool cheesecake completely on a wire rack. Cover loosely, and chill 8 hours. Release and remove sides of pan.

Wednesday, May 6

Wedding Season is Upon Us…

The next few weeks will be spent at many different wedding events.  This past weekend, my mom made the trip to Williamsburg for my college roommate, Steph’s Wedding shower.  She is originally from Northern Virginia, but since college graduation, her parents have moved to Williamsburg.  Steph now lives in Seattle with her fiancĂ© Toby and Greyhound, Daisy where they just purchase their first home and she’s a Emergency Vet.  Steph's Wedding Shower 042Steph's Wedding Shower 046The shower was amazing!  Just imagine a spread out of a Martha Stewart magazine.   The theme was a butterflies and flower and the attention to detail was everywhere.  We enjoyed champagne, a luncheon, chocolate and vanilla cupcakes and handmade butterfly cookies as favors.  Steph's Wedding Shower 001 Steph's Wedding Shower 006 Steph's Wedding Shower 004Steph's Wedding Shower 007All of Steph’s bridesmaids are literally spread out over the country from NC to NYC to Chicago to Seattle and unfortunately I was the only one who could make it.  So I fulfilled my honorable duties writing down gifts as well as being photographer and floral consultant.  Steph's Wedding Shower 013 Steph's Wedding Shower 027We had a fabulous time and Steph received many wonderful gifts to start her life with Toby.  It was so great to see her and I could not believe it has been almost 2 years since I last saw her -  right before she moved to Seattle.  Now we are looking forward to their wedding…when I finally get to meet the lucky groom!Steph's Wedding Shower 038