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Tag Archives: Food

Sunny Singapore

3 May

On a whim, Brett and I decided to take a last-minute trip to Singapore during the Chinese May Day Holiday.  After almost 3 years of hearing numerous friends tell us of its greatness, we thought we should see it for ourselves.  I am so pleased that we did.  It truly is a great little country.

Several airlines offer non-stop flights from Beijing, but Jet Star (a division of Qantas) offered the best red-eye option, and as an additional bonus – they were running an online special for business class fares.  It’s no Emirates – but the flights were on time, the service was friendly, and we arrived safely.

We landed in Singapore at 8:30 AM with an entire sunshine filled day ahead of us.  So – our natural first stop (while waiting for our noon check-in) was the hotel pool.  Beijing hasn’t quite grasped the concept of an outdoor hotel pool – so we are starved for the smell of chlorine, cucumber infused water, and cool hand towels smelling of eucalyptus.  A morning of vitamin D (not from a bottle) and lunch al fresco was just what the doctor ordered.

There are many lovely hotel pools in Singapore that offer beautiful views of the city and the bay including classics like The Fullerton, as well as stunning newcomers like the Sands, but after doing a bit of research – the rooms at the Mandarin Oriental pushed me over the edge. Also – The Fullerton Hotel and The Sands are tourist attractions in and of themselves. Fun to visit for a cocktail or afternoon tea, but the crowds could be a bit much at times if you were staying there.

Mandarin Oriental Pool in Singapore

The picture below shows our view of The Sands Hotel from our room. The entire 57th floor is an outdoor observation deck complete with 2 restaurants, a lounge, and a magnificent pool surrounded by palms. The ground floor and basement levels house the casino which now also houses some of our money! While lucky in love…not so lucky at the blackjack table.

The Sands Singapore. The white structure in front, resembling the bottom part of an artichoke is the Art & Science Museum of Singapore. To its immediate right (unfortunately not in this picture) is the floating Louis Vuitton store – that’s right, it is on the water.  That soccer field is floating too!

For first time visitors (like us), I strongly suggest staying around the harbor. The views are spectacular and taxis can easily and quickly take you to other parts of the city…like Orchard Street for shopping! That said, you will find plenty to do around the bay – all within walking distance. Or, you can take a water taxi, which is fun.

Morgan & Brett Hutchinson Singapore May 2012

We decided to take a little cruise on the water to see the Singapore sights.  It really is a charming city with colorful outdoor cafés lining the banks of the river.  Beautiful and intricate foot and motor bridges are found at each turn and old, deep south looking trees with roots the size of humans flank either side.  Along our journey we saw many historic buildings and heard the brief history of the city’s development.  There are a couple different companies that offer these hour-long trips (around $20USD per person).  We chose the Singapore River Cruise Company – but they all appear to be about the same.  It was a great, easy way to learn about the city.  But be sure to apply sunscreen before setting sail…my pearly white, hadn’t seen the sun in months skin (thanks to BJ’s not so friendly skies) was fried by the end of our short cruise.

Brett on the river cruise boat

This set of bronze sculptures captures the joy of little children, who years before Singapore’s commercialization escaped the heat by leaping into the cool river.

On the river cruise admiring Singapore’s famous MerLion (half-fish, half-lion). Over 1 million tourists come to see her and her cub (which is currently under renovation) every year.

Brett taking in the sights…

While there seems to be an endless amount of things to see and do in Singapore – theater, music, breathtaking golf courses, lush parks filled with colorful blooms, etc. – we opted for a more leisurely stay with loads of pool time and delicious cuisine.  In the picture below – we are winding down on our last night with very happy (and VERY full) bellies after having eaten at Cut, Wolfgang’s amazing steak house. Excuse my ignorance  – but I had no idea that Guy Savoy, Mario Batali, Wolfgang Puck, Daniel Boulud, and countless other top chefs all have outposts here!  Well played Singapore.

Nighttime view of the Singapore Bay from our hotel room

Thank you Singapore for such a rejuvenating long weekend.  I am very much looking forward to our return!

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NYC BOUND!

6 Apr

Cue the music because — We are COMING TO AMERICA!  The city that never sleeps to be specific.  Farewell Beijing (well…for 10 days or so).

I am so excited to SEE, EAT, BUY or DO the following:

1. Blue Sky (sans loads of smog)

2. Cafe Habana Corn

3. Visiting with old friends & family

4. Pink Berry (there is just something a little funky about Chinese frozen yoghurt…Although, I can’t put my finger on it)

5. Buy smalls and mediums (trying to fit my non-chinese caboose usually involves buying XL over here)

6.  Easter Brunch in a land that celebrates the true meaning of Easter!  (That would be our risen Lord, not bottomless bubbly – although there is no harm in that.)

7.  Magnolia Cupcakes, any legitimate NY cheesecake, and Crumbs Black & White cookies  (a pretty even tie…and the reason that I may have to buy XLs after all)

8.  Chop’t salads

9.  Window shopping (the concept really doesn’t exist over here – unless you consider getting mobbed every 5 seconds with relentless offers such as, “Hey lady, I give you good price!” to be the same as cruising in Nolita or up Madison Ave).  Personally – I do not.  Although…don’t get me wrong, I do love to bargain at the markets…but you just can’t beat strolling the city streets in the fresh spring air.

10. Happy Hour at the Carlyle – Bemelmans Bar to be exact. Our special spot!

11. Duane Reade…I am allotting at least a 2-hour window to peruse their glorious shelves.  The Easter candy and card aisles alone will keep me entertained for quite a while.

12. Weekend get-away to the Hampton’s – it will still be chilly…but seeing the ocean and snuggling by the fire with my husband is a MUST!

13.  Being on the same time zone with my mom and the twins

14.  Uncensored news (although I must admit, I have enjoyed not being bombarded with campaign nonsense!)

15.  Zero calorie, orange flavored vitamin water (it’s the small things in life…)

16. Toothpaste that doesn’t taste like lavender

17.  High speed internet

18.  MAGAZINES!!!!

19.  Yankees game!

20.  Vintage Shopping (though the Chinese have a far older and more intricate history than the USA…they have nothing on our vintage fashion)

AND…too many other wonderful things to mention!

My big Beijing blues – they are melting away….
I’m gonna make a brand new start of it  – in old New York
If I can make it there – I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you – New York…New York!

Best Laid Beach Plans…

22 Mar

Just as I sit here in our apartment, looking out onto the pollution filled Beijing skyline – I am supposed to be sitting next to my marvelous man with a glass of something sparkling in hand, aboard a plane bound for Sanya.  Specifically, Haitang Bay.  Specifically, see below.

But as it has a way of doing from time to time…life got in our way.  So, I decided to distract myself (from the cold…the smog…and our annoying neighbors’ cigarette smoke that permeates the hallway and seeps under our door – sorry for the bitterness of this beach deprived blonde) by writing about glory days of beaches past.

So onto to something much more marvelous…like Mozambique!

The Bazaruto Archipelago of Mozambique was the perfect way to end our 3 week stay in Africa.  It was all sand, sailing, seafood, and fun in the sun.  Even my third degree burns (see: A Burnt Bride) couldn’t put a damper on this to-die-for island.

Brett enjoying a local brew while taking in the sites of the island via an open air jeep.

Our home for the week in Mozambique was one of the 16  lovely villas at Azura on Benguerra.  From the service to the activities to the natural beauty of these undiscovered beaches, Azura lived up to all of our expectations.  Which – as my husband (I am sure will agree) are quite high…

TRAVEL TIP:  For other South Africa bound honeymooners…there are many travel companies that will push the Seychelles for “end of the trip beach time” – BUT the islands of Mozambique will provide all the luxury with half the cost.  Although…that will probably change as their popularity grows – so book fast!

Our Villa

Sailing around the archipelago.

Footloose and Fancy Free

Deep Sea Fishing Success!

Our Catch of the Day!

Enjoying our catch of the day by candlelight at a romantic table for two on the private beach. Perfection.

On a positive note…we are in the process of rescheduling our beach time trip.  For now – the departure date is set for two weeks with an alternative destination: The Maldives (thanks to the recent non-stop flight offered by Mega Maldives Airlines).  Fingers crossed.

 

Royal Russia – Day 4

9 Feb

I woke up on our 4th day in Saint Petersburg with ballerinas on the brain.  The night we would go to the Mariinsky theater to see Swan Lake, starring one of Russia’s Prima ballerinas, Diana Vishneva, had arrived.  The Mariinsky, now in its 229th season opened in October 1860.  Music by Tchaikovsky (and other famous Russian composers) was heard here for the very first time.  I was so excited I couldn’t stand it!  But it was still hours before curtain call…we had plenty of time to explore more of Saint Petersburg!  So – to the Yusupov Palace we went.

Mirrors and crystal balustrades were used in the ballroom to make it appear even larger.  Because even though they were not part of the Royal Family, as one of the wealthiest families in Russia before the revolution, the Yusupovs wanted nothing more than to impress their peers…and the Romanovs for that matter.  The Yusupov palace certainly leaves quite the impression. (Recognize the kissing couple in the mirror??)

While the ballrooms and music rooms of the palace were rather magnificent, it was the private theater that amazed us most.  Can you imagine having such a theater room in your home for you and your closest friends? Much less one with its own “tsar box”.   A bit pompous to say the least!

The Yusupov palace was one of our favorite sites in Saint Petersburg.  In addition to all of its splendor, its history is remarkable.  Knowing that Rasputin was murdered within its walls just before the start of the revolution gives it an extra eerie and mystical feeling.  I highly recommend it!

We worked up quite an appetite touring the palace – so we headed to a nearby restaurant for a late lunch before  returning to the hotel to get ready for our night at the theater.

I honestly can’t say that Brett and I are ballet connoisseurs, but I don’t think that one has to see a million ballets to know that Diana Vishneva is the real deal – a real show stealer.  Her movements are nymph like – graceful and absolutely beautiful.  It is hard to take your eyes off of her.  That paired with the perfect backdrop of the Mariinsky Theater created a truly magical moment.

A quick photo opportunity during one of the two intermissions.

They flutter around so much that it was very difficult for me to snap any clear images.  That said, I actually like the way the pictures turned out.  I think they show just how quickly the dancers pirouette about.

Following the ballet, we went to The Russian Empire Restaurant.   While the style of the place is a bit clichéd, we couldn’t resist having a meal inside the Stroganov Palace.  Where better to have Beef Stroganoff, am I right?

There is a  famous “tale” told of Catherine the Great visiting the palace for a dinner in which the Count promised her the most delicious olive in the world.  As it turned out, her olive was basically served to her in the predecessor to the Turducken.  As the story goes…she was first presented a full cow, within it a full pig, within it a full lamb, within it a goose, and so on and so on until a tiny squab held inside the most perfect and delicious olive within it.  The restaurant tries to keep this legend alive by serving what I considered to be an extremely tasty olive.  Stuffed with sturgeon and served in a succulent sauce, it offers a very unique and enjoyable flavor. So although, The Russian Empire is not avant guard in terms of modern cuisine or style, I would still recommend it.  In a city like Saint Petersburg…it is actually quite fun to be a tourist – to allow yourself to live and dine as Russian Royalty.

Royal Russia – Day 3

6 Feb

The majority of our 3rd day in Saint Petersburg was spent strolling through the room after room of the majestic Hermitage.   Of course we only saw a tiny fraction of the treasures that the Hermitage holds (it would take 365 days of touring for nine years to see every item in the collection) but what we did see was remarkable.  In actual fact, the building itself is outstanding even without its contents.

My wonderful husband intently studying one of the exhibits in the Hermitage.  I couldn’t stop myself from intently studying him!

Then…I suppose – he was studying me!

Snapping a photo of the above hallway – one of the more famous ones in the Winter Palace would have been nearly impossible in the summertime.  But again, we were rewarded for braving the cold and had much of the Hermitage to ourselves.  The only downside being that the Museum workers snapped at me for wearing high-heeled boots that made “too loud of a noise” when I walked.  Had others been around…I don’t think they could have singled me out!

Honestly, I don’t know the name or anything about the artist of this statue – but of all the things we saw that day, it was my absolute favorite.  Most likely because it reminded me of my two darling and very best friends – Mary Kay Bowden and Kimmy Willson.  Not that they look anything like the statue!  It just reminded me of our days as little girl ballerinas dancing together.

After hours of art and culture – we decided to treat ourselves to proper cocktails and appetizers at the Lobby Bar in the Grand Europe Hotel just off of the Nevsky Prospect.  Great company, great drinks, and great people watching.  The furs alone made my mouth water.  Sorry PETA.

We ended our night with a divine meal at Mix – the new Alain Ducasse restaurant in the W Hotel.  Once again we filled our bellies to the point of explosion!  Below are two images of our favorite dishes…

Our first courses were our favorites. LEFT: Brett's Chicory Ham and Black Truffle. RIGHT: My Soft Boiled Egg, Tender Lentils, and Toasted French Baguette.

Just as expected, day 3 in Saint Petersburg did not disappoint – but just like the 2 previous days, we were absolutely spent at the end of it.  There is so much history to learn, so much beauty to absorb, and so much food to eat that our brains and bellies needed to rest!

Up Next: Royal Russia – Day 4…Off to the Ballet!

Royal Russia – Day 2

5 Feb

Our second day in Saint Petersburg was completely dedicated to the Royals.  It started with a trip to Pushkin to visit the summer palaces and ended with a fine meal at Tsar.  Pushkin seems a bit like the Hamptons of Saint Pete…sans beach of course.  In addition to numerous Royal Palaces, modern-day Pushkin is full of summer houses belonging to Russia’s upper class.  Our first stop was Catherine’s Palace – nothing if not over-the-top.  Gilded…gilded…everywhere!

Although this palace was originally commissioned by Catherine I, wife of Peter the Great.  It was her daughter Elizabeth, who oversaw the completion of the palace in all its gleaming splendor.  Her specific request to architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli was to build –  “a palace with truly splendid ornaments, fit to be an abode for the ruler of a huge empire”.  And so he did…

In the Grand Ballroom of Catherine's Palace

It turned out that our decision to brave the freezing cold in order to visit Russia in the winter and fulfill our Dr. Zhivago fantasies had other perks…NO other tourists.  We ultimately had all of the Royal Palaces to ourselves.  I don’t think any of these pictures would have been possible in the summertime with wall to wall people.

The main staircase inside The Catherine Palace.  I think I tour guide did a nice job snapping this picture!

Before touring The Pavlovsk Palace, commissioned by Catherine II (i.e. Catherine the Great) for her son Paul, we decided to take a little sleigh ride in the beautiful and freshly fallen white snow!

To be honest…it was almost (okay it was) too cold for this frosty little ride.  But I knew that we could not come back from Russia and tell my Mama Jean (my 80-year-old grandmother who loves snow and all things Russian) that we did not take a “Troika” ride.

After Pavlovsk Palace, we toured The Alexander Palace, built by Catherine the Great for her favorite grandson, Alexander I.  Of course the Palace itself was quite grand, but it was the history of it that intrigued us most.  This palace eventually housed the last Tsar of Russia – Nicolas II, and it felt more like a home than any of the others.  My absolute favorite display case of all is pictured above – Romanov baby clothes.   They really put Baby Gap to shame.

At the end of a full day of trekking through palaces, we decided to treat ourselves to another meal of traditional Russian cuisine at Tsar.  More caviar…more vodka…and their delicious cherry dumplings!

Post dinner dancing at Tsar Restaurant

Stay tuned for Royal Russia – Day 3!

 

Royal Russia – Day 1

3 Feb

After the airport debacle in Moscow, we decided to live it up Russian style.   Like a Tsar and his Tsarina, we would rule the town (in our minds anyway!) for the remainder of our trip.  Let them eat beluga!

We touched down in Saint Petersburg – after a quick and painless 1 1/2 hour flight from Moscow around lunchtime.  By 1PM we had already checked into our room at the wonderful Hotel Astoria.  Choosing a hotel is always a little difficult when there are several of interest to you, but I feel confident that we chose right!  The Grand Europe Hotel is too dated now and the new W Hotel is just well…too American.  Don’t get me wrong, I love America – but I wanted something a bit more authentic.  That said, it didn’t stop us from eating dinner one night at Mix, the new Alain Ducasse restaurant inside the W.  Delicious!

By 2:30PM, we were in the car with our tour guide for an afternoon of sight seeing.  This is when our love affair with Russia officially began.  Here is our journey through pictures:

In front of the Church of Resurrection – also known as Church on the Spilled Blood as it was built on the site of the mortal wounding of Emperor Alexander II who was assassinated there on March 1, 1881.

Brett studying the gorgeous mosaics that cover almost every inch of the inside of the church.  It took over 24 years to complete the church’s interior decor.

Standing on one of the many bridges of Saint Petersburg with the LOML (love of my life) –  Church on the Spilled Blood in the background.

The Peter and Paul Fortress - Saint Petersburg, Russia

Whispering my secret wish into this creatures ear.  According to Russian superstitions…it will now come true!  We shall see….

View of the Hermitage from across the frozen river

About to enjoy an amazing meal at Palkin – one of the top Russian cuisine restaurants in Saint Petersburg.  They pretty much had to roll us out after our meal…

I love to watch my husband study a menu.  His intensity is endearing and amusing at the same time.  This  dedication always results in an amazing meal experience, and this meal was no exception.

From the Herring & crème fraîche cocktail starter, to the vodka & caviar tasting with warm buttered blinis, to the cevette (mushroom) soup, to the homemade strawberry sorbet palette cleanser, to the Beef Stroganoff....

To the grand finale...a whole Sturgeon - filleted table side. Also, the wine carafe (and the wine in it of course)was fantastic!

At the end of our 4-hour plus meal…we were spent.  To bed we went to get our beauty rest for another full day of Royal Russia – starting with Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin, just outside of Saint Petersburg.

Stayed tuned for our full day of regal palaces!

 

From Russia with NO Love

2 Feb

Walking down the never-ending hallway of LEFT luggage....

I suppose it is not really fair to use the phrase “NO Love” when, in fact, we did feel a Dr. Zhivago and Lara kind of love during our time in Russia.  That said, it is very fair to say that immediately upon arrival, we felt NO love.

It all started when Aeroflot decided to cancel the redeye flight from Beijing.  This forced us to take the morning flight 12 hours earlier than intended and add an overnight in Moscow.  Honestly, we were thrilled.  Our original plan was to visit Saint Petersburg only. Now we had the opportunity to see their capital city and experience some serious Russian nightlife!  I immediately booked a hotel  – just feet from Red Square and began chatting with the concierge about bookings for the evening.  Thanks to our great friend, Michael Davitiashvili and his wonderful recommendations, we were set with a 9PM dinner at Pushkin on the 2nd floor in their romantic Library room, 11:30 after dinner drinks and dancing at Karlson, and a 2AM reservation for dessert and more dancing at the Soho Rooms.  It could have been the perfect evening…but as you may have guessed by now – we never made it.

Perhaps it was excitement that clouded our judgement or perhaps it was just plain ignorance, but neither Brett nor I thought about the implications that arriving to Russia 12 hours earlier might have on our Visas.  You see – getting into Russia is not a cake walk.  The visa application alone is quite comprehensive – requiring all sorts of personal history including details of education, employment, and family.  Somehow – even after completing this lengthy process, it still did not occur to us that our Visas would have such rigid arrival and departure dates.  After all, every other country we have visited that requires Visas (which of late has been almost all of them) offers a window of at least 30 days for arrival and departure.  We now know (after learning by way of quarantine) that Russia is an exception.

The truth is – we noticed the specificity of the dates on our Visas for the first time as we were filling out our immigration arrival cards at 30,000 feet just 30 minutes before landing in Moscow.  Initially is seemed like a cause for concern, but our flight attendants assured us that everything would be fine.  In retrospect, I believe that they were just trying to shelter us from our inevitable fate; and that they didn’t want to disrupt our last glass of champagne before being thrown to the immigration wolves. I may have done the same thing…I mean – who wants to be the bearer of bad news if you don’t have to be?

When we got to the immigration hall, I received a text message that our car service was waiting for us just outside of baggage claim.  We believed (thanks to the false positives of the Aeroflot Crew) that are trip was off to the perfect start.  Immigration was blowing people through the lines, and in no time at all, it was our turn.  Unfortunately, “our turn” turned out to last for almost 10 hours…

While our plane landed at 4:40PM – we were not allowed into the country until midnight.  After flying for 8 hours, the last thing you want to do is hang out in the airport for another 8…especially when you have already reached your destination!  We begged and pleaded to no avail.  Finally, a member of the security crew of the airport  came to our rescue – sort of.  He agreed to escort us to the First Class Lounge and free us from immigration purgatory where there wasn’t even so much as a water fountain.  Unfortunately for us though, the Olympian skilled speed walker was already out of sight when we discovered that our previous first class boarding passes did not currently qualify us to relax in the lounge.  So – from immigration purgatory, we had now entered duty-free purgatory.  Bad duty-free purgatory –  liquor and cigarette only duty-free.

What else could we do but laugh?  Perhaps I laughed after I shed a couple of silly girl tears…but I assure you that the laughing came fairly soon!  We decided to get something to eat, have a beer, and then try to find a place to get some rest before our freedom would ring at the stroke of midnight.

Not exactly Belluga...and not exactly the Blinis or toast points we were hoping for! But we did have pre-packed butter and plastic knives so that's something.

I am not sure why we thought airport caviar would be a good idea…but when in Russia, right?  It was definitely not the caviar tasting experience that I was expecting…but that would come later.  Looking back, I kind of love the way it turned out.  I mean – at least I didn’t fall into a fire or anything!

At 11:30, after several hours of terrible sleep piled up like two puppies on a park bench, we trekked back to the security office to wait for an officer to escort us back to the immigration hall.  At 11:50, a half-naked man poked his head out of the office door to say he would be with us in 5 minutes.  A man of his word, the three of us were on our way to immigration at 11:55PM.  We arrived at 11:57 and were told to wait for 3 minutes.  3 minutes became 10 – but at 12:07 we were released!  Not without being fined first though –  for breaking their immigration laws. 2000 Rubles each (about $75 USD).

I received yet another text message alert that a second car service had been sent and was waiting for us again just outside baggage claim.  (FYI – we had to pay for the first one as well – which is awesome!)  We thought we had reached the promise land…but we were wrong.  Apparently, it is just too easy for them to leave your bags in the terminal in which you arrive.  So they sent our bags to a far, far away Moscow airport land.  For those of you who have spent anytime in the Moscow International Airport, you can appreciate what this meant.  It meant a 10 minute drive plus an hour-long walk down what seemed to be the longest, most disturbing hallway (outside of a mental institution) that I have ever seen.  Eventually, we were reunited with our bags – but there was no shortage of paperwork filled out in order to claim them.  And why have a copy machine when you can just re-write the 3 page bag-reclaim application by hand 3 times?

It was after 2 AM before we reached our hotel.  According to our original plan, we would have been sitting down for a delicious dessert at The Soho Rooms…instead we opted to share a Ritz cheeseburger and hit the sack.  We drifted off to sleep with prayers for a brighter tomorrow.  It’s affirmative.  God does answer prayers!

Stayed tuned for the rest of our Russian tale….I promise it get’s better – and so do the pictures!

TRAVEL TIP:  When we return to Russia (and we will because despite the above story – it is absolutely lovely) we will most definitely allow for wiggle room in our agenda.  The fact that it is necessary for an American Tourist to be sponsored by a hotel (or other travel institution) makes this a bit difficult.  If we had it to do over, we would have initially booked our stay in the hotel for a longer period of time, obtained our Visas, and then altered the reservation for our actual intended stay.  There are probably even better ways to do this…just be sure to look into all the details before you take-off!

Royal Russia Up Next!

Circus of Love: Family, Friends & Festive Features!

30 Dec

My dear Auntie Lorna reminded me this week via email (during an apparent moment of insomnia…it was 4AM Beijing time) that I never finished uploading the rest of the photos from The Circus of Love.  This was a complete oversight on my part.  With the Chinese wedding, the trip to South Africa, the burn incident, the Hutchinson visit (those pics to come soon), Brett’s birthday, and then the holidays…it totally slipped my mind!

I think I have actually saved the best for last though – the pictures of our family, friends, and the festive atmosphere (created with the amazing help of my mom and Aunt Lorna) are so much fun.  Enjoy!

**If you missed the other entries about the Circus of Love – here they are: Calling All Circus of Love Guests, An Upstaged Bride, Southern Ladies and Their Lipstick, Silly Schafers…Tricks are for kids, Happy Couple at the Circus of Love, The Classy Bride.

Tates, Raglands, Hites, Bolins, Lehnings, Neelley's, and newly wed Hutchinsons!

The Hutchinson Klan

Greeting our Guests!

Besides being greeted by us, our guests were also welcomed with the sounds of a vintage carnival themed horn section, cotton candy, and circus themed cocktails like Mint Julep Snow Cones and Spiked Pink Lemonade.

It's a Mo-Mo! My wonderful mom. I don't what was causing her to look so serious...maybe it was the power outage issues. The venue wasn't used to having so many "carnival" food stations. In fact...every time the cotton candy machine started going - the band lost power! In the end, we opted for dancing over spun sugar.

With my Dad and Becky

My sweet Alabama ladies. Brandace Burnham, Morgan Hutchinson, Christa Crow and Jessica Solon.

We really wanted to have fun with the decorations.  Hence, the Morgan and Brett flying trapeze artists in the background of the picture above.  You can get your own custom set at www.cardboardpeople.com!  We also used hundreds of yards of awning striped fabric in circus bright colors, striped table clothes, giant 36″ helium balloons, and any other circus inspired trinkets we could find to play up the theme.

Brett chatting with the Alabama gents. I have to assume the topic of conversation was SEC football.

Part of the NYC Crew. Shana Spavin and Jill Hacker.

With one of Brett's childhood friends, Kelly Campbell.

With mom and two of her best friends from college. These lovely ladies (plus 5 more) have been getting together every summer for over 30 years! Love it.

With cousin Lizzie and Aunt Cindy.

Friends since the first grade. Ellen Carpenter and Morgan Hutchinson

Columbus ladies taking advantage of the candy cigarettes!

Tate Family Dance Number. We had to at least "try" to keep up with the Schafers!

Mom and I with great family friends - Ruth and Anne Bligh.

With the Amazing Hutchinson sisters - Emmy and Jess! Looks like all of us had just made a trip to the Pabst Blue Ribbon bucket!

With my Auntie Lorna. Thank you so much for your help and creativity. The Circus of Love would not have been the same without you!

With my fantastic mother-in-law!

Pretty in Pink with Fiona!

A big thanks to the lady who introduced us in the first place! With Miss Shana Spavin.

With Leigh and Damir. Love Leigh's self-made feather accessory!

In addition to the rides and games, we also hired a stilt walker, a flame thrower, and a unicyclist to keep the guests entertained.  Truth be told though – it was the silly stuff on the prize table that kept them happy all night!  Who knew that wax lips and bangle bracelets would be so popular?

Newlyweds - Brett and Morgan Hutchinson with Andy and Jess Schemick

With Christina and George Karolis...and their little one that was still a bun-in-the-oven at the time!

Dancing with my dad

We danced to the lovely sounds of Mr. and Mrs. Todd Hill and the Todd Hill Band. Here is the lovely Kala Hill.

Todd Hill singing and playing one of the classic tunes they are known for.

Dancing with Aunt Lorna and Nannie.

With my two gorgeous grand-mothers: Jean Blankenship and Bettie Tate

One of my favorite pictures of the night. The lovely Mrs. Amy Barto getting her groove on!

Of course, Brett and I also wanted to be sure that our “outfits” were Circus of Love appropriate.  So, we added special details whenever we could – like the pink lining of Brett’s dinner jacket with M+B monogrammed on the inside and our special shoes!

Thank you to our wonderful family and friends for celebrating with us!  Sharing our Circus of Love with each of you was such a blessing.  Thank you to our parents for countless hours of help, for storing loads of “Circus” paraphernalia in your homes, and specifically to the Hutchinsons for a fantastic golf tournament, Friday Night BBQ, and Sunday Brunch at the Club.

We would also like to send big thank yous to A Catered Event – the catering company who helped create the perfect “carnie” menu, Laura at White Star Farm – our venue, Sterling Funways for the rides and entertainments, and Abigail at Eden Ink Photography for capturing every moment so perfectly.

Images courtesy of Eden Ink Photography.

Today = 2 Years in China!

28 Dec

Two years ago today, Brett and I (along with 700 pounds of my clothing) boarded a plane in Newark bound for Beijing.  To celebrate this exciting anniversary, I would like to share photos from our Chinese Wedding party from this past August.  I think you will see that I went all out to play the part of a Chinese bride (short of dying my hair of course!)

Brett and Morgan Hutchinson

Brett and I knew that we didn’t want to host our Beijing wedding celebration in a Western style (for those of you not living in Asia – that means that we didn’t want an American or European style venue…it does not mean that Brett and I were considering a Wild-West Hoedown).  When in China, right?   So when we stumbled upon Gui Gong Fu, a restaurant famous for its history, as well as its imperial cuisine, we were sold.  Housed in the former residence of the Empress Dowager’s little brother, Gui Gong Fu set the perfect backdrop to our Chinese wedding party.  Although we didn’t hold a actual ceremony (we saved that for just he two of us in South Africa – see Chitwa Chitwa: Part 3 for more details) we did host a traditional Chinese, family style dinner for 150 of our dear friends and colleagues here in Beijing.  It was quite a feast! Luckily, Brett and I went for a tasting before hand as I don’t remember us sitting down long enough to eat any of the meal on the actual night of the party.  Between visiting each table to drink a shot of Mou Tai (Chinese liquor) with our Chinese guests and being toasted with Champagne by our Western guests…there was little time to do anything but “Cheers!”  Thankfully, I do remember being giving a bowl of rice by the lovely Connolly sisters to coat my tummy with something.

Here is the evening in pictures.  It really was such a memorable night.

Cocktail Hour. Explaining this concept to a very traditional Chinese restaurant was no easy chore. Passed hors d'oeuvres is just not the local way of doing things at a Chinese Wedding. In the end - they got it! Brett and Morgan Hutchinson

Costume change! While it is actually a Chinese custom for the bride to change from her red dress into white...I didn't need an excuse for a second dress!

Notice the size of Brett's Mou Tai glass. We are no fools! The smaller the glass...the less you have to drink! By the way...I am holding my wine glass, NOT my Mao Tai glass.

These little Chinese women can drink! Look how she is showing off her empty glass. Bottoms up!

Thank you to all of our friends in China for celebrating such a special time with us.  Thank you to Michael and Natia Davitiashvili for joining us, two great friends from New York who just happened to be in town and gave their only Saturday night in Beijing to us!

While I am in “thank you” mode…Thank you Beijing for 2 very exciting years.  We have had our moments…and let’s be honest, I have certainly “hated” you from time to time – but overall it has been loads of fun.  You have brought me dozens of amazing new friends and countless once-in-a-lifetime moments.  Most importantly though, you have given Brett at I the opportunity to share a life-changing experience together, and for that I will be forever grateful.  Xie Xie!

All images courtesy of www.sweetvision.com.  The same amazing photographers who did our engagement photo shoot.  Click here to have a peek.

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