Dream Big & Buy The Shoes: April 2016

April 29, 2016

Caesar Salad Bowls

With Spring and Summer comes sunshine and company. There's parties, cookouts, and gatherings every weekend so we all need to be prepared. Why not try something different when it comes to salads? Homemade Caesar dressing and salad bowls are sure to wow the crowd this season.

You will need:
6 inch flour tortillas
muffin pan
cooking spray
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 large lemon- squeezed for juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup extra light olive oil
1/ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

To make your bowls:
Heat oven to 375 degrees
Spray both sides of the tortilla with cooking spray
Place the muffin pan upside down
Place tortilla over bottom of cup and press down center to form a bowl
Repeat with as many tortillas as desired
Bake 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown

To make your Caesar dressing:
Place mayonnaise, mustard, garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor
Press the garlic and squeeze the juice right in to the food processor
Process until smooth and well blended
While the food processor is still on, slowly add the olive oil
Process until thick and creamy
Add Parmesan cheese and pulse 5 or 6 times

Once your salad bowls are cool, add romaine lettuce, chicken, tomatoes and croutons if desired. Top with dressing and serve. Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite recipe for entertaining? This one has moved to the top of my list!

April 27, 2016

Wedding Decor Details Part 2: Wedding Wednesday

If you saw last week's post, you know already know that I'm big on details. I love personalization, telling a story, and making an event come to life.

Our wedding venue was beautiful on it's own...gold accents, a ton of natural light, a gorgeous bar and cozy fireplace. We really didn't have to put much money in to making it work for us when it came to decor.

Let's start with the guestbook. Wow, Chuck and I went back and forth on this one many times. I saw the idea of a bench that everyone signs, but he thought we wouldn't really use that. He saw a musical instrument idea...we love music, but neither of us play an instrument so I wasn't thrilled with it. Then, I came across a print on Etsy that we both really liked, and knew we could incorporate it in to our home after the wedding and keep it forever on display.
Guests signed leaves on the trees, or in our case...they signed branches and trunks of the tree too. Hey, whatever works!

We had a buffet for our wedding, so there was really no need for place cards. I saw so many ideas online and thought of some ways to display them, but in the end it was time and money that didn't need wasted so we cut them. We went with a large print for the table assignments instead. I found this beautiful gold frame at Hobby Lobby during one of their weekly sales and got it for less than $20. We put it on an easel that our venue provided and it was an easy way for everyone to find their seats.

Favors. There's SO many things you can do, give, and dream up. We opted to spend the money we would have on favors and donate it to charity. Both Chuck and I lost special women in our life to breast cancer, so the cause is something close to our hearts. I really wish I would have come up with something to put on each person's place setting with information, but we just had a sign in the welcome area.

We also framed our invitation to place on this table and displayed the flowered L that I made for the bridal shower too. 

The whole set up and decor on our tables started with the table numbers. One of my bridesmaids very early on in the wedding planning process showed me a picture of someone who was selling their table numbers. I couldn't believe it when I saw them, because they were almost identical to what I had saved on Etsy for a fraction of the price. These beautiful, hand beaded numbers incorporated gold and some bling and were so glitzy and pretty on the tables.
I knew I wanted to incorporate candles in to the table settings, and decided to do two sizes of vases and put a purple floating candle in one of them. For the other vase, I once again found a great deal on Afloral and purchased faux purple submergible flowers and put two each in that one. I found these vases for a steal on Tradesy, which I mentioned in my 5 Useful Wedding Websites post.
A few months before the wedding I realized there was something else needed, and I found some beautiful gold votive holders that completed the look on the table.

Around the venue, we placed framed portraits from our engagement session since we loved them so much and they were also taken in the Fall. The leaves and trees from that session looked so great at our venue for the wedding. 
Last minute during a weekly shopping trip to Target I came across some marquee lights we put to use on the mantel of the large fireplace. I was originally going to put the manzanita tree up there, but I'm glad I found these letters and moved the tree on the memory table. It all worked out perfectly. Chuck cut out the backgrounds for the letters with some scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby.

For the head table, I did want to assign seats since we had a double decker and didn't want people scrambling to choose one as they sat down so place cards were set out for the bridal party. I also didn't know that there were so many choices of how napkins are folded. In one of the last meetings with the wedding coordinator she was asking me all sorts of questions which I was prepared to answer, and then this one came up. She had to show me pictures, because I was completely clueless and unfortunately Chuck couldn't make that meeting. Thank goodness I was able to make the decision on my own....this wedding stuff is intense.

I absolutely loved how everything came together, and so easy and affordable too. You don't have to spend a ton of money to make a venue feel and look like a million bucks. Everything was so "us" and all in the details which we loved.

Thank you for sharing another Wedding Wednesday with me. Maybe next week we will start some dancing...

Wedding Wednesday in week's past...in case you missed it:

Details & Vendors:
Photography: R. Frank Photography
The Dress: Bridal Elegance
Bride's Shoes: Badgley Mischka (similar)
Bride's Clutch: Rent The Runway
Groom & Best Man  Shoes: Nike Lockwood
Flowers: Afloral (handmade bouquets by the Bride)
Bridesmaid Dresses: Weddington Way
Bridesmaid Earrings: Frou Frou & Frill
Butterflies: Shallowtail Farms
Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas
Centerpieces: Tradesy & Afloral
Candy: M & M's
Gold Manzanita Tree: Amazon
Guestbook: First Comes Love Prints
Best Day Ever Napkins: Wedding Paper Divas

To Travel & Beyond

April 25, 2016

How I Write Guest Posts

Have you ever been asked to write a guest post on a blog? Were you stuck on where to begin or what to write about? Yes, I've been there too. It can be tough coming up with content or wondering what the first step is. Follow along, one thing at a time and you'll be writing great posts in no time. 

Do your homework
I research the blog and what type of topics the blogger features on a daily basis. Are they a food blogger? Do they love a certain niche? Is the blogger a "how to" guru? This gives me a starting point on what type of content to dream up and work on.

Introduce yourself
Sometimes when I visit a blog I start reading and don't even realize I'm not seeing the blogger's own words. I'm a fan on introducing myself and let people know my name, and a little bit about me. I tell the blogger's readers what I like to write about and some things they may not know about me. Also, go a step further beyond introducing yourself and come back to the blog after you are featured. Check  out the comments on the post...interact and comment back and definitely thank people for reading.

Link posts
In that introduction, I link posts of my own to bring traffic back to my blog. When I tell people I love to experiment in the kitchen, I am sure to link one of my favorite recipes. Throughout the guest post, where it applies I also link to posts of mine that can easily allow readers to jump to my page.

Create a good image
Whether it's a styled stock image I have, or one I took of my own...I always include at least one in a guest post. People like pictures, so give them something to look at. Writing about a concert? Share a nice bright image of the crowd at a concert you attended. If you're posting about something you don't have an image for, use a general styled stock image...there's so many places to get them for free.

Follow guidelines
When I sponsored Becca's blog recently, I had the option of a guest post with the ad I purchased. Becca sent over some guidelines which was so clear, a nice reminder and had some excellent tips. I used her guidelines as an inspiration and created some tips of my own to share with my guest posters. I'm sharing all of those tips here, right now today, but you can see what it looks like here.

Use good grammar, formatting, etc...
Don't forget to spell check your post. I always do this before I send it over to the blogger, it only takes a minute. Your work is going to be shown on a whole new site, so make sure your grammar is up to par too. Last but definitely not least, send the HTML when submitting your post unless they specify their own preferences. I always write my post in Blogger, insert images, hyperlink posts and check everything before going to the HTML tab and copying everything to send over.

Be original, but be you
Don't be afraid to be your same self, even if you're stepping outside your comfort zone and showcasing yourself on another blog. Come up with something new and different, create a game, craft up a new printable, share your expertise in an area you're comfortable with...show off your talents!

Following these steps will definitely put you on the right track to writing a great guest post.

Is there any other tips you would add when it comes to writing a guest post?

April 22, 2016

Theresa Caputo Would Like A Pedicure

I had a post previously scheduled for today, but yesterday, life happened...and sometimes, well this time...life itself is more exciting than our regularly scheduled programming.

I know you've heard it before, but I love my job. Every day is different, crazy and fun. Recently I took on some additional roles, but I still manage our front desk and oversee the day to day operations in that area. Yesterday I was at the front when I heard one of our workers say "I'm sorry, but we are fully booked. Is there another day that may work in your schedule?" This is typical. We are busy...ALL. THE. TIME.
The next thing I overhear is not something I like dealing with, but it's part of the job. "Oh, who? Okay. Let me get my Manager on the phone." No, today is not my day. I'm sick, it's been a long week...and I'm not sure what's about to come.

Ummm Theresa Caputo's agent is on the phone. She's in town for a show tonight and would like a pedicure. I look at our schedule. We're completely booked. My co-worker looks at me and says "What are you going to do?" I'm going to make it work...that's what we do at our business. And plus, it's Theresa Caputo...we're going to make this happen. We can't say no to The Long Island Medium.

I go back to my office and get on the phone to speak to her agent, he's super laid back and I ask him if I can call him back in less than five minutes. I tell my boss what's going on and get to work. We make some calls, move some things around, ask an employee to stay late...and boom, Theresa Caputo is coming for a pedicure at 2 pm.

I'm the type of girl who doesn't know how to act around anyone famous. I'm not cool like that. I scream...like "I love you 50 Cent" (yes, that happened)....which reminds me, I should write a post about that. This type of girl was put in charge of "handling" Theresa when she arrived. Great, hope I don't say something ridiculous like "read me" or "am I giving you good vibes Theresa".

Don't worry, I didn't freak out. She walked in the door, I greeted her with a smile and she was the sweetest lady ever. Wearing blinged out Converse and cheetah print shorts she came walking in like she was a regular, giving me a hug and everything. She was extremely kind and I walked her in to our nail room, offered her a beverage...she declined, duh...she had some Fiji water. Stupid question Emelia.

A photo posted by emeliaπŸ’œ (@emeliaanne_) on

A few minutes later I went back out to our lounge and introduced myself to her agent. He thanked me several times for getting her in on such short notice. I had to ask, why us? Well...when you Google the number one salon or spa in our city, you'll find us. We have an extremely talented staff and a beautiful business, we are the top place in the city for a reason. And well, Theresa unfortunately experienced an awful pedicure the day before in Columbus...(shame on you Ohio) and needed her toes done again.

After her pedicure I met Theresa in our back hallway and offered her one of our sparkly graphic tees and she shrieked with excitement. She's my kinda girl...chose the black t-shirt with our business name in sparkling silver. I asked her if she was comfortable taking a picture, but not before she hugged me again ( I love a good hug) and she was happy to take a picture. I rounded up some of our staff who were happily hanging out in the background and her agent gratefully took a few pictures. She hugged me again and had to get on her way back to her hotel.

Just when I thought I didn't like Thursday's....Theresa Caputo wanted a pedicure, and now I suddenly don't mind them one bit.

April 21, 2016

5 Things To Keep In Mind While Planning Your Honeymoon

planning your honeymoon 

 Hello Dream Big And Buy The Shoes readers! I am Macy from To Travel and Beyond and I'm so excited to be posting here today! I am a travel & lifestyle blogger by night, and a Wedding and Event Planner by day. These two passions of mine shine through on my blog, and it's my favorite outlet to discuss these topics. Because of that, I am going to share 5 things to keep in mind while planning your honeymoon. Honeymoon planning can often be tossed to the side while you are focused on planning you big day, which is understandable! Sometimes the funds, time and commitment isn't available while you are planning, but it's fun to take a honeymoon at anytime- even a year or two after your wedding itself! It is a celebration of your love, which will only grow stronger with time, so why not celebrate it whenever you have the chance?

Argostoli, Greece
  1. Time of year. This is most important because the time of year can matter in a few ways. First, look into the weather, keeping in mind it might be hurricane season, rainy season, or the most popular tourist time, all depending on where you are going. The price may be cheaper during certain times as well, but always try and find out why.
  2. Your interests separately and as a couple. What you enjoy may be completely different from what your fiancΓ© enjoys. This could mean that you like to go places where you are catered to, but he prefers more of a camping atmosphere. This could also depend on what you both like to do together, maybe you could decide on a spa retreat after the stress of planning the wedding.
  3. Ask about specials. Almost everywhere will offer specials for those taking a honeymoon, don't be afraid to ask! This may be a room upgrade, discount, complimentary products, etc.
  4. Do the unexpected. You will only have one honeymoon, make it count! If you have always wanted to do an African safari, why not do it for your honeymoon? Take the time to find out each other dream destinations and try to make them work. There is no time like the present!
  5. Check into pricing. This is obviously a big one, you need to work towards what you can afford. This may also mean waiting to take a bigger trip after the wedding is over, or going at a certain time of the year. Figure out your budget first, and then narrow down your search based on what you can afford. Keep in mind you might get something extra from your wedding!
These tips can be applied for any type of trip, from a honeymoon to a general vacation, make sure you are taking time to enjoy and explore.

April 20, 2016

Wedding Decor Details Part 1: Wedding Wednesday

I'm so excited to share some fun details of our wedding day when it comes to the decor. Let me preface by saying I love elaborate decor at weddings...huge vases with flowers flowing out of them, glitzy tablecloths and everything in between, but when it came down to it....that just wasn't for us.

We didn't want uplighting. I didn't want our names on a wall in lights. To me, it was about the details...the ones that were special to us as a couple. They weren't elaborate or expensive, but they were important to us.

We wanted to have a special table dedicated to honoring our deceased loved ones but I didn't want it in the entrance, because I knew people would pretty much be in and out and it wasn't an area where people would leisurely gather. After discussing the setup, we decided to put the pictures on the area overlooking the main floor. 

One of the first items I had purchased for the wedding was a gold manzanita tree. Initially I thought about putting placecards on the branches, but when we strayed from having those I found another way to use it. The tree and the hanging jewels were both purchased on Amazon and made for some great decor next to our framed pictures. The various gold frames were purchased from Marshall's, TJ Maxx and Target...I wanted an array of gold ones.

wedding loved ones

wedding memory table

The signs were made by me with Canva and each one included our wedding hashtag  at the bottom. I loved our memory table to much, it was a beautiful way to include our loved ones in heaven at our celebration. 

I was torn for so long on what to do for a card box. I wanted something unique, something we could use again, and something that incorporated our name on it. I finally found an idea on Etsy and told my dad about it. He insisted I didn't pay for one, and instead made it himself. 

Our wine card box is in our kitchen which is wine themed and is a beautiful handmade piece we will treasure forever from my Dad. Some candles and flowers were placed on the table with it for some additional decor. 

We had some personalized napkins made and adorned the bar with them as well as some purple straws and more signs. I really wanted to have a purple signature drink, but unfortunately the logistics didn't work out. So we made a sign with our drinks of choice for fun instead!

wedding drink signs

drunk in love

I'm really bummed I can't find a picture of one of our special details...but we had a cigar bar. I found the idea on Pinterest, obviously. Chuck did some research and found some cigars in bulk online that we ordered and had up on the bar in large glass vases. Chuck loves enjoying a cigar with his friends, so it was a fun detail to add in to our wedding day.

cigar bar

I wanted a treat at the bar for the non-cigar smokers too, so what better than our favorite personalized treat?! M&M's!! Gold and purple candy with "Best Day Ever" & our picture on them were also on display at the bar area.

personalized wedding candy

This is the picture we used on the candy...from our engagement session--

Last but not least for part one of the details...the social signs. If you remember my bridal shower, I had signs at each table. I used them for directions, an explanation of sorts, and decor. I wanted the same for our wedding and liked adding the pop of color with the tables. 

We changed our wedding hashtag a few times, I just wasn't in love with what we had come up with. Literally, two weeks before the wedding Chuck came up with the new one and it was just enough time to get napkins, programs, etc. and we were both in love with it. 

Pants is our nickname for one another, and Ethan. Years ago I was calling Chuck "Loverpants" joking around and he started calling me "Pants" and now the three of us for year have been saying it. At home, we say "Pants" and all of us respond with a "yea?"...it's hilarious and I love it. #PantsPartyAtThePeek was the perfect hashtag and it was at the bottom of each of our signs around the reception. 

I will share the table decor and more things we had around the venue in another post, because I don't want to jam all the pictures in to one post. That post will showcase the tables, our guestbook, and more surprises and signs!

Until next time...thanks for sharing another part of our wedding day for Wedding Wednesday.

Wedding Wednesday in week's past...in case you missed it:

To Travel & Beyond

April 18, 2016

Beauty On A Budget // Mascara

Mascara, my favorite beauty product. If I had to choose only one thing to wear everyday it would be this. Today Lindsay & I are showcasing so many great mascara's on the market that don't have to break the bank to make your lashes stand out.

budget friendly mascara

NYX Pin Up Tease - this is my most recent mascara purchase and I would rate it a 4 out of 5. I love the coverage because it really makes a difference and covers really well. It's not messy, and it gives my lashes some great volume. I just read some reviews on it and am surprised at the lower rating because I love this product and think it does an amazing job for only $5.99. It doesn't define my lashes as much as I would like but it's become one of my go-to's in my makeup bag.

best nyx mascara

CoverGirl SuperSizer- I won't lie, I bought this one because my husband and stepson are Star Wars lovers. The Star Wars line by Cover Girl is pretty cool and this mascara is only $5.99. This mascara gives a ton of definition and I like it best when inserting the wand in the tube once but covering my lashes 4-5 times. A lot of product can come out in just one application, so you don't need much. I am a fan of a really bold mascara look...not spider-like, but dark let it be seen that I'm wearing mascara type of look. Make sense? If so, this is the mascara you want. The quote on the side of the tube makes it fun too.


L'Oreal Miss Manga- coming in at $7.99 this is the priciest of the budget friendly mascara's that I use, but every cent is worth it. Most of the time at Ulta the L'Oreal line is buy one get one 50% off so you can get a good deal on a few products. I love this mascara for length and volume. The design of the brush is great because I can get my hard to reach corner lashes and cover them well. I like the shape of the wand and think it helps with the overall application and how well I can use it to make my lashes really pop. If you're looking for just one budget friendly mascara to try, choose this one for sure.  

Definitely head over to Lindsay's blog today to see what mascara products she recommends for Beauty On A Budget. If you have any suggestions on what you would like to see featured next feel free to leave a note in the comments, we would love to hear from you.

If you missed previous posts in this series, you can check out all the Beauty On A Budget posts here:

April 15, 2016

Savory Grilled Chicken Marinade & Salad

I love salads this time of the year, especially with some delicious grilled chicken and fresh veggies. Experimenting in the kitchen has become a hobby of mine and I wanted to try out something new because I can get bored with chicken pretty quick, so I whipped up a new marinade to try.

Prep Time: 40 minutes for marinade
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 tbsp. onion powder
1/2 tbsp. garlic powder
8 boneless skinless chicken tenderloins

Desired salad ingredients-- Shown here are spinach, assorted peppers, olives, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Prepare marinade by mixing brown sugar, olive oil, vinegar, garlic and onion powders in a large bowl.
Dip in chicken tenderloins and mix.
Cover bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or if you like a bolder flavor you can leave it in overnight.
While the chicken is marinating, prepare your salad.
Chop vegetables and toss with spinach or lettuce.
Remove chicken from marinade and grill until cooked thoroughly.
My best tips for grilling chicken are to cook on each side for 5 minutes without touching them. Chicken should be at 165 degrees Fahrenheit when done.
Let chicken stand for 10 minutes and then shred or leave whole, depending on your preference.
Top salad with marinated chicken and serve.

I originally created this post for Holl and Lane Magazine, where I was published again. If you haven't checked them out yet,  do it. Sarah, the Editor is a beautiful woman on a mission to share our stories, struggles, life, and adventure and has a great crew making it happen.

Salads are such an easy and delicious meal to put together, especially when you kick it up a notch with a savory marinade like this. Enjoy!

What's your favorite type of salad? I'm always looking for new ideas and recipes!

April 12, 2016

Travel The World: Dreamy Instagram Inspo

I'm really excited for today's Dreamy Instagram Inspo, because who doesn't love to see the world? I think being able to connect with people around the country is my favorite part of Instagram.

If you're new to this- my monthly series Dreamy Instagram Inspo is an intent to inspire creativity, love, and beauty through showcasing some great Instagram accounts. Seeing friends in different cities and a peek in to where they live or where they're jet-setting to gives me thrills. So today's trip in to the series of great Instagram travel accounts is going to be a good one.

Gray Malin // @graymalin 

Seriously stunning pictures. I don't know how else to put it other than their Instagram bio: "Make every day a joyful getaway. Live in that moment." Every second is one that can be captured, and Gray Malin does an excellent job of that.

A photo posted by Gray Malin (@graymalin) on

Whitney // @blondeatlas 

Whether she's about to ride a hot air balloon or riding a bike on the beach, her adventures are always one I want to be on. Her pictures have a lighthearted feel to them that make me want to run away in to the screen and take off with her.

Chelsea // @chowdownusa

Whether she's in Boston or across the county in San Francisco, Chelsea shows us a great time and beautiful sights along the way. I love her variety of food pictures, fashion sense, and lifestyle while traveling from one place to the next. The bright colors and sense of excitement she provides is inspiring.

A photo posted by Food & Fashion Blogger πŸ‘ πŸ° (@chowdownusa) on

Kyle // @asenseofhuber

I'm a sucker for a good sky, it's one of my favorite things to take pictures of. So there's an obvious reason I enjoy Kyle's feed. His love of color, unique views, and interesting places makes it even more exciting to follow him. I always strive to come up with something great when wanting to do more with my photographs, and Kyle helps push me outside the box.

A photo posted by Kyle Huber (@asenseofhuber) on

Macy // @macyvolpe

My lovely sponsor this month, Macy is no stranger to travel...I mean her blog is called To Travel & Beyond...and boy does she live up to the name. In one month you'll find Macy adventuring all over the place from weekend to weekend and she has a blast while doing it. Bubblegum walls, kayak rides, and tons of fun in between...I love following her account and seeing what she's up to next. Be sure to check out her post about using Instagram effectively and finding the best travel hashtags.

Macy says that she loves featuring the "moments." Instagram can sometimes turn into a show, but I like to focus on the things that make me happy and spark joy in my life. This is often my friends, family, working towards my wedding goals, and traveling.

I wish I had the time to travel more, but I love finding new places, even if they're not far from home. Seeing other's accounts inspires me to work harder and allow myself the opportunity visit these places at some point in my life. That's why I love Instagram so much, a trip around the world from your very own feed. Follow me on Instagram ...I may not travel somewhere new all the time, but every day is an adventure.

Be sure to visit my Instagram today for another new tip when it comes to taking pictures and building a community to interact with.

What are some of your favorite travel accounts or places to visit?