Manhattan is Still Cold – Soup’s On!

Soup is the perfect meal for harsh winter weather. We’re still facing some brutally cold weather in New York City this weekend, and we’re sure plenty of you want to warm up yourselves! That’s why when we found this fantastic soup recipe by our friends at MarthaStewart.com we knew we had to share it. This Manhattan Clam Chowder recipe is hearty and bold, perfect for waiting out the (hopefully!) end of this wintery weather. No need to bundle up the whole bunch of you to go to a restaurant when you’ve got this hot recipe up your sleeve.

Manhattan Clam Chowder
Manhattan Clam Chowder © MARTHA STEWART LIVING OMNIMEDIA, INC.

Click on over to MarthaStewart.com for the full recipe, and let us know your favorite winter soups in the comments! Or let us know if you’ll give Martha’s recipe a chance, and how it turns out. And if you’re looking for the perfect vessel to show off your cooking prowess to the guests trying to warm up in your home, take a look at a few we picked out.

L'Objet Perlee Soup Plate
L’Objet Perlee Soup Plate
Hermes Bleus D'ailleurs Soup Plate
Hermes Bleus D’ailleurs Soup Plate
Furstenberg Rajasthan Soup Plate
Furstenberg Rajasthan Soup Plate

 

 

Our Favorite February Insta-Engagement Announcements

We love engagement announcements. How could we not? February is home to Valentine’s Day which means it’s also the perfect time for proposals!

1. kiarahughes_ shows off her ring in a very cute way, featuring a butterfly landed just on the tip of her hand. We can barely believe it’s real!

A photo posted by The.Key ❤ (@kiarahughes_) on

2. izzyboy86 took the romantic getaway engagement route and set the scene beautifully with flowers and polaroids in front of the picturesque Golden Gate Bridge.

A photo posted by Israel ⚽ (@izzyboy86) on

3. meg_voss captured this shot of her sister and new fiancé with some adorable illustrative signs!

A photo posted by Megan Voss (@meg_voss) on

4. niccmonte knows simplicity is the way to success. Red hearts and engagement rings, the perfect match.

A photo posted by Nicole Montecalvo (@niccmonte) on

5. ashaudette‘s now fiancé knows it’s all about location, location, location. We bet she felt like she was on top of the world!

A photo posted by Ashley Audette (@ashaudette) on

6. mark836freitas photographed a couple for their engagement in a very interesting way. We love the interesting depth of field in this shot, and the creative way he incorporated hockey!

A photo posted by Mark Freitas (@mark836freitas) on

7. ksenijalukich, an E! Network host hailing from Australia, shared this candid shot of her ring in quite a playful way. How cute is this couple?!

A photo posted by ksenijalukich (@ksenijalukich) on

8. mandybarnett_ lets the real star of the show shine in this shot. A sunny day in a gorgeous orchard. Who could ask for more?

9. pamela109 shared another great nature shot, featuring an out-of-focus fiancé looking quite victorious! A beautiful day outdoors is a wonderful way to celebrate an engagement.

A photo posted by Pam Knudsen (@pamela109) on

Our absolute favorite from this month, stuwilliams92 proposed on a rollercoaster! This is such a cute way to really go for the surprise factor. Just make sure you don’t drop it on the ride!

A photo posted by Stu Williams (@stuwilliams92) on

Think you’ve got these picture perfect proposals beat? You could be featured in our next edition! Tag us in your engagement shots on instagram (@MichaelCFina and #michaelcfina) for a chance to be featured and show off your love!

Fina Couples, We’re Still Here for You!

The couples that choose Michael C. Fina to celebrate their love depend on us. They know that we’re here to take care of any and everything they need when it comes to wedding jewels and that doesn’t stop after the wedding bells have rung. When the vows are said and the registry fulfilled, we’re still here for you. One of our Fina couples, Robyn & Anthony Bulacan purchased a beautiful princess-cut Tacori engagement ring here back in 2003. They recently visited us again at 500 Park Avenue to make sure everything was in tip-top shape! The gorgeous Tacori engagement ring was brought in for a tune up and returned to Robyn looking just as radiant as the day she said “Yes!” Take a look for yourself down below, we love how Robyn can change up the look of her dazzling jewels by stacking it alongside contrasting sizes and styles of bands in addition to her perfectly matching wedding band.

Tacori engagement ring

When it came back it was like brand new and I couldn’t be happier!” – Robyn Bulacan

Tacori engagement ring

Want to know how you can become one of our Favorite Fina Couples? To see this and many more beautiful Tacori engagement rings available at Michael C. Fina, click to visit us online and then call us at 1-800-289-3462 to set up an appointment at our store located at 500 Park Avenue, New York, New York.

If you’re already one of our Favorite Fina couples and you’d like to share your story with us, feel free to visit us on Facebook and send us a message. We love hearing from happy couples like Robyn & Anthony!

Meet Erica Courtney

 

EC_Aug_headshot

For 30 years, Erica Courtney has been designing feminine and elegant fine jewelry to suit every style and taste. After moving from Dallas to Los Angeles in 1989, Erica’s business blossomed and she continued to evolve, introducing fine gold and platinum gemstone jewelry to her collection. Each piece is designed personally by Erica to ensure that it fits flawlessly into her collection.

ringandearrings

1.  What inspired you to begin designing?  What influences your designs?

Truthfully, boredom inspired my first piece. It was snowing in Dallas and I was stranded at home so I started gluing Swarovski crystals on a pair of sunglasses.

2.  What is the first piece you designed?

Sunglasses hand-designed with Swarovski crystals

3.  How would you describe the style of your collections?

My collection is very feminine, sophisticated and has an assortment of the most magnificent colors in the world of gemstones.

4.  What is your signature piece?

My signature piece of jewelry would have to be my cocktail rings. Most designers don’t spend as much time as I do on the details…..I design every single millimeter of each of my rings!

5.  What materials do you use and why?

Right now, I’m mostly utilizing gold and lush gemstones. My passion is using gorgeous and colorful collector gemstones. necklaceandearrings

6.  What is an outfit incomplete without?

A ring! We express ourselves and communicate in so many ways and our hands are definitely a common source. I like having something fabulous and sparkly on my “talkative” hands.

7.  Name one thing a person should splurge on:

A cocktail ring because even cheap wine tastes better when there’s a gorgeous ring to stare at while you’re sipping it.

8.  What is your favorite gift to give?

Sweet treats that I personally bake.

9.  What is your best style tip?

As long as you have a stylish purse, killer shoes, and a gorgeous piece of jewelry, then the rest can come from Target because no one will know the difference.

10. What is the most fun piece of jewelry to redesign?

I like the challenge of redesigning outdated pieces that my clients have no hope for. Presenting them with their newly designed treasures and watching them fall in love again with their updated pieces is priceless.

Care Tips: China

Caring for china can be stressful, especially when you don’t know where to begin. But by following just a few simple tips, you can ensure that your china will continue to look brand new, forever.

blogpicture

1. While most china can be cared for the same way, be sure to check the manufacturer’s specific instructions for any exceptions.

2. Most fine china can washed in the dishwasher but to prevent chips and cracks, position each piece in a way that prevents them from knocking into one another.

3. If your china has hand-applied decorations, avoid putting it in the dishwasher, as the heat can damage gold or platinum bands.

4. Let your china air dry when putting it in the dishwasher. If your dishwasher does not have an air dry setting, simply stop it before the dry cycle begins and leave the door open.

5. Place liners or paper plates in between fine china when stacking them for storage to keep them looking pristine.

Untitled-1

6. Instead of using scouring powders or steel wool on your china when you need to clean off dried-on food, soak each piece for several minutes. This will remove the food, while preventing scratches.

7. When hand washing your china, place a rubber mat or a towel at the bottom of the sink to avoid chips or cracks.

8. China can crack from temperature extremes, so avoid moving your pieces directly from the refrigerator to the oven.

China is special, and often something that you want to pass down from generation to generation. By following these simple care tips, you can ensure that your pieces will remain in perfect condition for years to come.

Locations: Engagement Sessions, Part II

Tips From Photomuse On Choosing Your Location

 

In the first part of this series,  I suggested choosing a location based upon your mutual activities or a location infused with meaning for you.  There are definitely plenty of times when in the absence of a location with meaning, I am asked for some assistance in thinking of a location.  When you first narrow down your season, it can help set the tone for the rest of the session.

 

Winter

Pros: Quite romantic if you can get snowfall.  Contrast of colors popping against white snow lends itself to graphic images. Playful, quiet – fewer people out and about if you are shy.  The wedding season is not as busy in the winter, so you’ll have more available dates to choose from.  You can also take advantage of a holiday theme (and use an image for a holiday card).

Cons: Cold, shorter amount of light in the day will mean a tighter frame of time to shoot.  Temperature might mean less time shooting. Clothing choices will be more restrictive.

Possible activities: sledding, making snowmen, snowball fights, quiet walks under a canopy of snow laden trees.

Photomuse Engagement Sessions - Winter

 

Spring

Pros: The abundance of blooming flowers and trees make for wonderful settings. Colors tend towards pastels and soft hues.  The temperature enables a wider selection of    wardrobe possibilities.  Cherry blossom season, wisteria, tulips to name a few.  Petals flying through the air.

Cons: You won’t be the only ones out and about enjoying the renewal of the season, so if you are shy, or if you are in a city area, you’ll be contending with others.  If you are   prone to allergies, you won’t be too comfortable.  The weather can be more unpredictable    with more possibilities of having a rainy day.

Possible activities: picnics, walking under a canopy of cherry blossom trees, laying in a bed of flowers together, riding bicycles.

Photomuse Engagement Photography Sessions - Spring

 

Summer

Pros: Warmer temperatures (this could lend itself to a con as well if it’s too warm).  Beaches become an option.  The day is longer, which will enable you to schedule a session for later in the day.  The weather is more predictable.  Sundresses and sandals become  possibilities.

Cons: If you live in NYC, you’ll be contending with many others who are also enjoying    what the summer has to bring.  Can sometimes be too hot which may affect your hair and makeup negatively.

Possible activities: water related activities like being on a boat or playing on the beach, walking along a boardwalk, carnivals and fairs.

Photomuse Engagement Photography Session - Summer

 

Fall

Pros: Fall foliage creates a stunning backdrop.  The temperature allows for a wider range   of clothing choices.  The colors reflecting off the autumn hues are warm and lush.  You can also take advantage of the fun activities at this time of the year.

Cons: Autumn is prime wedding season, so you might have a harder time scheduling your session (plan ahead!).  Weather could potentially work against you and the leaves might not be ready, or might even have all fallen.

Possible activities: hiking, playing in a leaf pile, Halloween themes, pumpkin and/or apple picking, hayrides.

Photomuse Engagement Session - Fall

To view more location images, be sure to follow Photomuse and Michael C. Fina on Pinterest!

Locations: Engagement Sessions, Part I

Tips from Photomuse on Choosing Your Location

On a warm July evening, Zack’s attention became captured by a girl who was chatting with her friend near the subway station.  Zack decided to make up an excuse to interrupt their conversation and ask the girl (he’d later come to find her name was Kim) for directions. After some playful banter, he made his way down to the subway platform wishfully thinking about the girl he had just met.  As fate would have it, a few minutes later while Kim was also excitedly pondering the guy whom had just surprisingly approached her, the two former strangers serendipitously reconnected on the subway platform and stepped into the same train car moments before the doors closed.

The entrance to that subway station became the setting for Zack’s proposal to Kim.  It also became the inspiration for where we would photograph their engagement session.

Typically when couples ask for advice on where to shoot their engagement session, my first suggestion is to think about a place with meaning or symbolism.  Make it personal.  Where was your first date, or perhaps your most memorable date?  Where did the proposal take place?

Perhaps it’s not a particular place, but instead where you both share a favorite activity.  Hiking?  Leisurely sipping a latte at an outdoor cafe?  Spending time at the beach?

Tips from Photomuse - Engagement Session Locations

I view the engagement session as an opportunity to take a break from the daily grind and simply relax together and have fun.  The more fun I can make this session means that taking photographs won’t potentially be seen as yet another thing to do prior to the wedding day.  Think about it as a fun date…with your very own paparazzi!

 

To view more location images, be sure to follow Photomuse and Michael C. Fina on Pinterest!

Engagement Sessions: Various Tips

Tips from Photomuse to Make Your Engagement Session a Winner

Congratulations!  If you are currently reading this while wearing a gorgeous engagement ring from Michael C. Fina, most likely you will be photographing an engagement session with your photographer soon!

I have a few tips that I would like to share with the Fina Family that will help you make the most of your session.  I will be breaking up engagement session information over a series of posts and I would LOVE to hear from you!  We welcome you to leave a comment below and be sure to check back regularly for the subsequent posts!­

  • Timing: Always be sure to arrange for your session well in advance.  Not only will you be sure to get a confirmed date with your photographer, you will have time to use your images for a Save The Date or have a personalized guest book created.  Additionally, the closer you get to the wedding, the busier you will be and the more inclined you may be to view your session as a chore instead of the fun time it really is.
  • Location: I’ll be talking more in depth about locations coming up, but you should first pick a season and then figure out a location that is best suited to your needs.  Personalize it!  Finding a way to bring some meaning into your location will be an addition to the experience you will have.
  • Communication: Be sure to communicate with your photographer about what you are hoping for.  This is also a good time to talk about anything about yourself that you don’t like in photographs.  Additionally, involve your photographer on the decision-making process such as wardrobe, time of the day, location and themes.  Discuss ahead of time your plan if it’s a rain date or if the weather is not good.
  • Light: The time of the day is crucial and your photographer will most likely guide you on this.  I always prefer shooting during the end of the day, just before the sun is going to set.  The light is warm and after it sets, it becomes a soft pastel color.  It’s the “secret sauce” to making your images spectacular.
  • Wardrobe: Another item of communication between you and your photographer.  It’s a matter of taste.  I do want my couples to be relaxed and enjoy themselves, but I find the images are much more grand when my couples dress up.
  • It’s The Little Things:
    • Watches: Don’t wear them (unless for a symbolic reason), as it can detract from the timelessness of the images.
    • Hair elastics: Often forgotten about and become distracting on the wrist.
    • Shoes: Bring a pair of flats to save your feet while walking between locations.
    • Purses: Leave your purse at home as it detracts from the spontaneous moments or becomes a potential theft liability.
  • Research: Looking at images on the blogs or Pinterest is totally fine, but be aware that there are so many factors that went into making that image what it is. Some of these things could be: it was 100% reflective of the couple, the lighting and weather was unique to that moment, the wardrobe was appropriate, the personality of the photographer taking the shot and the location was particular to that image.  Personally I like to photograph my couples as unique individuals and create images that are suited to THEM, not anyone else.
  • Be On Time: This is often so crucial because your photographer is setting up your session based upon the light.  Light can change quickly and every minute that you are late is a potential loss of exquisite light.
  • Have Fun!  Enjoy yourselves. See this as a date. Make plans to go out for dinner afterwards and just put this day aside as a special day without wedding planning, work or other obligations.

 

To view more images, be sure to follow Photomuse and Michael C. Fina on Pinterest!

Boston Marathon Survivors to Marry Today in The Knot Dream Wedding

The Knot Dream Wedding - Michael C. Fina

NEW YORK, April 4, 2014 — TheKnot.com, the number one wedding planning destination, today announces the wedding day of The Knot Dream Wedding. Now in its second year, the program followed one couple through every step of the wedding planning process with each element voted on by America. This year, TheKnot.com selected Rebekah Gregory and Pete DiMartino as the very deserving recipients of The Knot Dream Wedding. Today, America can tune in to watch the wedding take place at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC, live on TheKnot.com starting at 11 a.m. See all photos from the day on Instagram and Twitter by following #TheKnotDreamWedding and @theknot.

Rebekah and Pete were at the finish line of the Boston Marathon cheering on Pete’s mother last year. When the bomb exploded, Rebekah’s first thought was to protect her son, so she shielded him. She has endured 15 surgeries over the course of the past year, as well as preparing for the upcoming amputation of her left leg. Pete lost 90 percent of his right Achilles tendon and suffered multiple broken bones in his ankle. He has undergone surgeries and months of physical therapy. Their shared experience as a result of the explosion and surviving their injuries brought them even closer together and strengthened their relationship.

“We could not think of any couple more deserving of The Knot Dream Wedding,” said Rebecca Dolgin, TheKnot.com editor in chief. “We are so thrilled to help them overcome their past and bring on their new beginning to an amazing life together.”

Rebekah and Pete handed off all wedding planning decisions to America. Voting took place weekly on TheKnot.com/DreamWedding where people around the country voted for seven weeks on every element of the wedding, including the location, overall theme, bridesmaid dresses, hair and makeup, rings, cake, flowers and even Rebekah’s dress.

“Solidifying forever with Pete DiMartino just makes my heart really happy. And the fact that we get to share our special day with so many others thanks to The Knot, that’s pretty cool to me,” said Rebekah Gregory, The Knot Dream Wedding bride. “Although we do not feel more deserving of this honor than anyone else, we couldn’t be more excited to have shared our journey with so many other people and to have had America plan our wedding! Everyone has trials in life and this just happens to be ours. But if we can inspire one person to keep pushing forward by sharing our story, it’s totally worth it to me. And I don’t care if I have to hop, wheel or roll down that aisle, I will get to the other end of it because the person waiting for me is the only thing that matters.”

Since Valentine’s Day, thousands of people across the country tuned in to help Rebekah and Pete’s wedding dreams come true. Additionally, Lee Brice, an award-winning country artist, is providing the couple with his new song “I Don’t Dance” as their first dance. Rebekah and Pete will dance to the perfect wedding song, along with enjoying the winning wedding elements:

   -- Location: Asheville, NC, the couple's favorite vacation destination, was 
      chosen for the wedding among other cities that the couple has ties to, 
      including New York, Boston and Louisville. A garden ceremony at Biltmore 
      was chosen for its fairytale setting next to a real-life castle. 

   -- Theme: The theme America chose is Enchanted Garden, a vision created by 
      celebrity wedding planner Marcy Blum of Marcy Blum Associates. With green 
      and brown woodland colors, plus whimsical elements like hanging lanterns, 
      this theme is a nod to Biltmore's gardens. 

   -- Rings: Classically Cool wedding bands were selected: a pave diamond band 
      for Rebekah and a titanium band for Pete, both by Michael C. Fina. 

   -- Bridesmaid Dresses: Rebekah's girls will don chiffon gowns in falcon, 
      complete with a trendy sweetheart strapless neckline by Watters. 

   -- The Dress: Rebekah will wear a gorgeous ivory fit-and-flare dress with 
      beaded embroidery, a dropped-waist and sweetheart neckline by Sophia 
      Moncelli for Kleinfeld Bridal. 

   -- Flowers: The romantic and playful whimsical woodland centerpieces 
      features a willow adorned tree trunk base and a secret garden of flowers 
      in shades of pink, plus blooming cherry blossoms designed by Holly 
      Chapple. All flowers are American grown from the California Cut Flower 
      Commission and will play into the enchanted theme with shades of pink, 
      lavender and peach. 

   -- Cake: Cake Alchemy will create a masterpiece of delicate white ruffles, 
      buttons and stunning peony sugar flowers to match the garden theme. 

   -- Hair & Makeup: Rebekah came to NYC for a hair and makeup trial with Alli 
      Web, founder of Drybar, and Kate Watson from Too Faced. The winning look 
      will be revealed on the wedding day.

 

About The Knot

The Knot is the nation’s leading wedding resource, reaching nearly every bride in America through the #1 wedding website, TheKnot.com; The Knot national and local wedding magazines; #1 wedding planning and fashion apps The Knot Wedding Planner and Wedding LookBook by The Knot; The Knot book series; syndication placements across the Internet and regular television appearances. The Knot is the flagship brand of XO Group Inc. (NYSE: XOXO; http://www.xogroupinc.com), a consumer Internet and media company devoted to weddings, pregnancy and everything in between, providing young women with the trusted information, products and advice they need to guide them through the most transformative events of their lives. Follow The Knot on Twitter @theknot.

Choosing Your Photographer: Part II

Tips from Photomuse to Help You Choose Your Wedding Photographer

You said “yes,” but before you say “I do,” check out these tips on getting the most out of your wedding photography from Photomuse.  We will be breaking down the tips over a series of posts, so be sure to check back often to catch them all.  And as always, we’d love to hear from you.  Leave a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions on what you would like to know from the photographic perspective of your wedding day.

 

Wedding Photography Styles

One of your first steps in choosing a wedding photographer is to choose a style that you like.  I’ve assembled some of the genres that you can find out there today. Be aware that these terms can vary broadly across the internet.  Try not to allow yourself to be too caught up in these terms.  Most photographers today are a hybrid of these styles.  The important thing is to find the images that move you the most, a photographer that fits your personality and budget and when you do, book him/her right away!  Photographers get booked up quickly.

Wedding Photojournalism: The photographer captures candid moments without direct interference. Consider the moments as pieces of a puzzle that later come together to reveal the whole picture. Often you will see B&W, angled images, voyeuristic viewpoints and an increased use of natural light.  A hardcore wedding photojournalist will never arrange details or pose images.  He/she is strictly a silent observer, “unobtrusively” shooting in the background.  Documentary or reportage is another word used to describe this style.  Many wedding photojournalists have a background in storytelling or news/issue reporting.

Traditional: With a solid background in posing and portraiture, this type of photography is often seen as classic and formal.  The photographer will be more hands on, guiding and directing to create the shot…more akin to your parents’ wedding photography.  Traditional photographers will typically utilize more control over lighting, posing and backgrounds to make you look your best.  If you have a “shot list,” then you want might a traditional photographer.  I often think about Renaissance paintings or formal wedding portraits that the Royal Family might have taken when I consider this style.  Many traditional photographers have a background in studio portraiture.

Choosing Your Wedding Photographer - Photomuse for Michael C. Fina

Contemporary: Okay, this is where I’m going to insert my opinion a bit.  I consider the above styles to be the Adam & Eve to today’s wedding photography.  Most photography today stems from these two styles and are simply infused with another element which can be derived from other genres of visual art out there.  I consider all of the following sub-genres to be classified under the “contemporary” heading with their roots based in one of the above.

Fine Art: Fine art photographers are basically looking at the wedding day from their own unique perspective.  No two weddings are alike and they employ creative vision, posing and more increased post production in Photoshop.  Think textures, use of graphic elements, and unique color palettes, composites, intentional blur.  Fine Art could be classified under the trendy category as well.

High Fashion: You may also see the terms: editorial or high end. Here you will see images infused with sexy and glamourous poses reminiscent of fashion magazines. Posing is a key element here.

Choosing Your Wedding Photographer - Photomuse for Michael C. Fina

Trendy: With wedding blogs setting trends in today’s planning, it only makes sense that the photography seen in these blogs would be considered trendy.  I consider examples of trendy to include things such as: large amounts of details, highly stylized shoots, muted or monochromatic colors, vintage and lots of posing and individualism.

Choosing Your Wedding Photographer - Photomuse for Michael C. Fina

A huge thank you to our friend Kristin Reimer at Photomuse!  Want some more wedding photography advice?  Check out her other posts on our blog and continue to check back for more!

Love & Trust®