Oh Hail The Garlic Knot from Santa Monica's Milo & Olive

Guys, I'm about to make you seriously drool...maybe, even cry. A lover of garlic, I use the vampire weapon in just about everything I cook. The smell of it...unless it's coming from Chris' breath, is one of my most favorite aromas. Such a sharp bite of flavor explosion, garlic is one powerful little gem.

I can honestly say; I have never, in my life, enjoyed garlic more than I did when I feasted on Milo and Olive's holier than thou, garlic knot. The delightfully greasy bundle of dough dripping with extra virgin olive oil and stuffed with numerous whole garlic cloves is just about as good as a garlic knot could ever get. I mean, it's not your average pizza joint garlic knot. No, it is so, so much more than that. Served piping hot from Milo and Olive's wood burning oven, this knot is the kinda treat that you starve yourself a week for. It's also the kinda treat that you have sweet dreams about and then wake up with a pile of slobber on your pillow. Gross but oh so true.

I promise I'm not getting carried away. These guys are legit when it comes to anything made with dough. Partly because this amazing Los Angeles restaurant also doubles as a bakery. So I'd be remiss if I didn't also tell you just how incredible their pizzas and pastries are too. Can't forget about their decadent pastas either. My, oh my...I can't say enough good things. Just go there, like now. Get that garlic knot and the Pork Belly & Kale pizza. Might wanna throw in their Tagliarini Bolognese too. Because, when in Rome...right? Or something like that.

Did I mention this place is literally right across the street from my place of employment too? Thank God I know how to practice self control....

Cool Down This August With My Grapefruit Basil Vodka Spritzer

I'll admit, I've been a bit of a lush lately. But it's not my fault. This summer has been a whirlwind of fun times. Fun times that have often involved my favorite poison. From my girlfriends visiting me, to my husband's birthday festivities, to a recent trip to Chicago for my best friend's 30th, I've been partaking more than I've been resisting. Whoops.

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It's also been delightfully sunny and warm in Southern California lately. Those blue skies and above average temps have me craving two things. Okay, maybe three. Beach, bikes, and (ice-cold) booze. Not just any booze though. You see, I've grown up quite a bit in my drinking day. I don't just drink to...you know, feel loose. I genuinely enjoy the taste of a refreshing cocktail. 

Like this cocktail right here. Combining one of my favorite fruits with one of my favorite herbs and my all-time, favorite spirit, the crisp, tangy, and perfectly sweet concoction is great for cooling down in this hot, sticky, summer heat. I won't tell you that it's also great for feeling loose pretty quickly since the basil and grapefruit are pretty great at disguising the vodka. No, I won't tell you that. You know, just in case the in-laws read this post.

Craft it in less than 5 minutes and you'll save yourself the $13 that almost any restaurant would charge you for a craft cocktail. You're welcome.

Grapefruit Basil Vodka Spritzer

Ingredients:

1/2 ruby red grapefruit

1 bunch of basil (about 10 leaves)

2 ounces Vodka

1 tablespoon simple syrup (recipe here)

Club Soda to top (1/2-2/3 cup)

Ice

Directions:

1) Using a heavy pint glass, muddle the basil with the simple syrup. Then, squeeze the juice from 1/2 grapefruit into the glass. Add the vodka and stir. Add ice cubes to a cocktail glass. Strain the grapefruit and vodka mixture into the glass. Add some basil leaves to the glass if desired. Top with club soda. Enjoy!

***Makes one cocktail

Wedding Wednesday- It's All in the Decorative Details (Plus 4 Pieces of Advice)

Everyone was exactly right; my wedding day was an absolute whirlwind. But, I did make sure I took it all in. That meant not guzzling down mimosas in the hours leading up to our first look and also letting go - of everything. I knew that my amazing vendors and day of coordinator would ensure everything was on lock - without any flaws. I also told myself not to sweat the small stuff...no one would ever notice those little glitches anyways.

I can honestly say, even with all of my tireless hard work, I was blown away with how beautifully smoothly everything went. Sure, my (would've been) picture-perfect, simple, and southern lemon cake was placed on a lop-sided table, which inevitably gave it a gangster lean by the end of the night....the lemon wheels which I requested my caterer add to the Mason jar water glasses were placed in the water instead of on the rim of the jars...and one of the groomsmen wore dark brown shoes instead of the (strongly) encouraged cognac shade. But other than those three little things...everything was, well, flawless.

I have to give credit where credit is due. My florist, Beautiful Floral Designs captured my vision with awe-worthy grace. I couldn't have asked for more capable, creative, and passionate work. Beautiful Floral designs made my wedding day look like it was straight out of fairytale. I had endless compliments from guests saying that everything was magazine quality. Taking care of not only the bouquets and boutonnières but also all the linens, tablescapes, floral arrangements for the ceremony aisle way, cocktail hour, and lots of reception "extras," they might as well be magicians. I don't know how they did it. 

 In my humble (and biased) opinion, my decor was as about as charming, cohesive, and well-thought as it gets. I've been to many beautiful weddings where decor isn't a focus. And there's nothing wrong with that. But from day one of wedding planning, I had a vision. A vision of southern shabby chic meets boho. A vision of sunflowers and daisies, parasols, vintage candle sticks, whiskey barrels, and lace. This vision couldn't have been more perfect for my venue either. Sarasota's Marie Selby Gardens boasts that "Old Florida" look with ancient Banyan trees and an old white colonial-style mansion.

I sure hope I'm not gloating...it's just that in looking back, I'm still so giddy about it all. But in an efforts to make this post less of a brag and more of a help...here are my top 4 wedding decor tips..

Future brides...if you're all about the decorative details like me, I have 4 pieces of important advice...

1. Pick a "theme" and stick with it. Some things to consider...what time of year are you getting married? Do you want a formal or casual affair? What kind of vibe does the venue lend itself to? Once you've decided on these elements, you can decide on a general theme of your wedding. Whether it's rustic, vintage, or modern, you'll want to be very mindful of it with every single decision. For instance, you surely wouldn't want red roses if you're going for a rustic look....or burlap accents if you've decided on a formal wedding.

1. Find an AMAZING florist. Don't just count on online reviews either. Often times, really nice people like me give vendors more credit than they deserve with written reviews. Word of mouth is the way to go. Pictures can help too, but remember not to just rely on the florists' website for pictures. Once you love their work, find out what they'll actually be responsible for in terms of decor. Finding a florist who will take on everything decor is a HUGE help.

3. Make decisions and stand by them. Don't second guess yourself. The planning process will be an absolute headache if you're always changing your mind. Trust your taste. And if you have terrible taste, get a second opinion from someone who you can trust to give an honest opinion. At the end of the day though, you want your wedding to reflect YOUR personality...not some random pinner's on Pinterest. 

4. Know when to say "No." With decor, it's easy to get carried away. You don't want to go overboard as the look of your wedding could get lost in obnoxious chaos. Keep an inventory of everything you purchase and what "part" of your wedding day it'll be used for. If you have an awesome florist, they can help guide you with this too. 

Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing. I'm one proud bride, in case that wasn't already very obvious. But I also dedicated countless hours to my big day. And I did all the planning on my own. It was a lot of work but I really feel like it showed. I was fortunate enough to make wedding planning the #1 priority in my life. And I loved every second of it. 

***Next Wednesday, check out my "How To" on DIY Table Frames.