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Farewell 2013, an Amazing Year in Review

31 Dec Vietnamese long dress Ao Dai and wedding dress

What a year it’s been! To recap and set the stage for 2014, I wanted to look back at some of your (and my) favorite posts from 2013.

By and far, you’ve loved the Bun Rieu Cua recipe as much as my husband does. We hosted game night last weekend and this was again the main event. One of our Vietnamese friends said it tasted “very authentic”. Aahhh warm and fuzzies. I was stoked to try out a new tool though – check out this rau muong splitter (water spinach):

The end result is always beautiful. If you haven’t already, make it a resolution to give it a try in 2014.

Bun Rieu Cua tomato crab soup with  limes and herbs

Your second and third favorites are mine. We make Ca Kho caramel catfish often, made easier with the clay pot I added to my arsenal after this post. I could eat Ca Chim fried palmburro fish every week. Goes with any soup or green side. Super fast and easy to make.

Fried palmburro fish with squash soup and rice

Pinners loved the Banh Pate So on Pinterest. It remains my favorite party snack when friends or family come over. So rich and tasty with hidden vegetables – always a plus! Are there any Vietnamese cooking or cultural boards that are you go to for inspiration?

Banh Pate So meat filled puff pastries

The biggest moment – or series of moments – for me personally was of course my engagement and marriage. The Dam Hoi engagement ceremony planning and photos of the big day are hot items on the blog, and I hope the info is still handy should my sister-in-law need details for hers next year 🙂

Of course our wedding day was just as special. I still use many of the crafts and skills I picked up for the homemade details. Those glittered vases and votives are all over the house and we’ve used the table runners a few times. I’m still using calligraphy to add a special touch to gifts, letters and other things for the special people in my life. It takes time, but personal and handmade touches to any event are really worth the effort. Your guests will notice!

Vietnamese long dress Ao Dai and wedding dress

Photo by Katarina Price Photography

Thank you for finding and reading my blog, I hope the recipes, crafts, and entertainment tips have brought joy and yumminess to your year! Let me know if you have ideas for new recipes to tackle in 2014, and I’ll be back on the language learning train as we plan our trip to Vietnam in the fall. Here’s to a safe, joyful, and heathy New Year!

Handmade Wedding Details

7 Oct

We have entered week two of this ridiculous government shutdown, and I really really really want to get back to work. The weather has turned to fall today with driving rain and dropping temperatures, which also sapped my motivation to do anything particularly productive.

Our wedding photographer, Katarina Price, delivered our wedding photos just when I needed an indoor activity to keep me fully occupied!  I promised a while ago to share details from our big day, especially those details that I crafted or otherwise put together with family and friends to make our day really personal and totally us for our “Lucky in Love” theme.

So here we go with the ‘American’ wedding details! And I should also mention that today is our big one month anniversary 🙂

Vietnamese long dress and American wedding dress

Katarina Price Photography

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Love in Bloom

24 Aug

Last weekend I was treated to a beautiful bridal shower that was an amazing team effort. I am so fortunate to have such creative and organized friends and family! Even more, my super-fiancee was the ring-leader making it a super special day. The weather outside was overcast and rainy most of the day, but that just meant that we didn’t have to stare at bratty kids and hot dog legs outside at the pool.

The theme “Love in Bloom” was perfect. The decorations everyone put together were all of it. Now I just need to figure out where to hang the sign and photos in the house…

Love in Bloom banner sign

We had cupcakes, sangria and spa water below an adorable banner of some of our favorite photos and memories.

Drink and dessert bar with photos hung above

I’ll start with the food, as this blog primarily focuses on yummy treats. They brought the best of both worlds to satisfy my American and Vietnamese family and friends. You can’t go wrong with cheese, veggies and deviled eggs when planning a party menu. Hummus and croissant sandwiches don’t, hurt either!

They ordered some of my favorite Vietnamese dishes that were a hit with everyone at the party. From right to left below: Gỏi cuốn (popularly known as Summer Rolls), Banh Beo (Steamed Rice Cakes with Shrimp), Hen Xuc Banh Da (Baby Clams with Rice Crackers). I haven’t tried this as home yet, but maybe I’ll use this recipe and give it a shot on Redskins game day!

Summer rolls, steamed rice cake, clam appetizer food

We had a few fun games including a Price is Right style guess the price game for my wedding day emergency kit – I guessed closest to the actual cost and got to keep the kit for our big day! Not too bad.

Sister in law showing emergency wedding kit for price is right game

My sister in law makes an excellent Vanna White

My Mom outdid herself and potted Gerbera Daisies and even potted prayer plants from her own family stash. A very special gift, indeed.

Gerbera daisies and prayer plants as party gifts

Even more so, though, was her shower gift. I can always count on Mom and Dad bringing on the water works and this time she nailed it. Rather than buy something for traditional bride-to-be’s, she wanted to share a part of my family who I unfortunately was never able to meet. She plotted with one of my cousins to dig up Purple Iris bulbs from my Dad’s mother who passed before I was conceived and born. Now Hubs and I will be able to have flowers from my Grandmother’s garden of more than 35 years ago as we begin to grow our own lives together.

Holding gift of purple iris bulbs from my late grandmother's garden

I can’t think of a more meaningful and thoughtful gift. I can’t wait for them to bloom!

The lovely ladies, and little gentleman, at the shower (minus Cherri who had a full party schedule that day!)

Group photo with ladies at my bridal shower

And you know I can’t write a blog post about an event attended by my nephew without a photo. I picked up this handsome vest / trouser combo at Jack and Janie WAY before he was born to wear at our wedding, but why not get all gussied up for a bridal shower with the ladies?

Holding my nephew

Caption this: Get me outta here!!!


Dam Hoi Vietnamese Engagement Ceremony Photos

20 Aug

I can’t think of many things more exciting than receiving a gallery full of beautiful photos from a recent event or trip. When I heard Hubs e-mail ding sound the other night I knew we received the gallery from our photographer, Katarina Price. Never mind that I was already in bed, I jumped out and fired up my laptop to click through photographs of our big day.

My last post on the dam hoi didn’t go in to a lot of detail about the ceremony, tradition and blessings of the day. I wanted to let the rich photographs share the story, so here you go. This is a long one, so warm up your lunch or pour a glass of rose and enjoy!

Bride and Groom holding ceremonial sake cups. Katarina Price Photography.

Katarina Price Photography.

Many more amazing photos after the jump!

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