Weekend Wrap Up [Andi’s Dedication]

This past week was a doozy! I accepted an assignment to review 7 live music venues in 7 nights, which meant after working all day, working out and making a quick dinner, I had to get ready and go back out in the cold to all of these venues and listen to music that I wasn’t super pumped about. That being said, I actually enjoyed MOST of the venues and artists. My favorites were definitely open mic night at The Evening Muse and Visulite Theatre. I also enjoyed all the extra time with my husband and am super grateful that he was willing to tag along with me to all of these shows.

IMG_7182This was our millionth try for a picture and my husband was hating the flash. Fun fact: only one of us loves having our picture taken! On Saturday, I had to do my long training run, which wasn’t actually  all that long this week. I did 6.08 miles  and felt pretty good while doing it. Didn’t hurt that the weather was INCREDIBLE on Saturday.

IMG_7377After the run, we went to a local bar to watch the Hokies (I’m embarrassed to say that) and the Harvard/Yale game (Hooray, Harvard!). Saturday ended with our 6th show of the week and my mom was in town so she got to go with us. Mom came in to celebrate my niece’s baptism on Sunday. So glad we were able to be part of such a special day in Andi’s life and loved spending time with the family.

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I made some whoopie pies for dessert after the dedication. My sister-in-law served us a delicious lunch and we all got to watch my nephew Damon show off for his whole big family. Now, back to those whoopie pies. 5 ingredients and absolutely delicious!

IMG_7203Since it’s almost Thanksgiving, I’ve been baking a ton and trying out lots of Pinterest recipes. Today, I made three kinds of sweet potato pies. I love the bite-size pies because you can try all three kinds and still have less calories than you would with a normal slice of pie! I also made chocolate chip Nutella cookies and apple butter cookies with my Paw Paw’s apple butter. Excited to spend this week with both of our families and of course, our sweet pups!

IMG_7353Happy almost Thanksgiving! Hope you are enjoying taste-testing all of your creations – or at least getting ready to share in some special time with family and a big meal, too!

Monday Must-Haves!

First of all, happy marathon monday! Hopefully,  you’re planning on live-streaming the marathon this morning. Secondly, I hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend (hopefully spent with family, faith and food!). My husband and I attended a new church this weekend and we really loved it’s mission:

“We seek to build a diverse, intentional, affirming community animated by joyful worship and called forth into social action for service to the greater good.

We seek to hear God’s call not only as individuals but also as a progressive, missional community striving to reflect the Kingdom of God in the here and now.

We embrace the rich history of the Reformed Tradition and the storied past of our once-prominent, center-city church, as we welcome a diverse, urban community of seekers –  young and old, gay and straight, rich and poor, of all races and ethnicities.

We are called into a meaningful, transformative community that values the unique blessings and perspectives of each member and offers a place of welcome and healing to weary souls.

We seek dynamic servant leaders who serve humbly, embrace change, and boldly challenge injustices in the wider community.

Most important, we seek to proclaim the Gospel in both word and deed, following the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 8.54.21 AMWe started off our Easter morning with some heavenly baked oatmeal. I used peaches and blueberries but you can use any fruit that your heart desires. I also swapped the milk for coconut milk. This was a hearty breakfast for us, would make a great addition to any breakfast or brunch spread if you’re cooking for a group!

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After church, we had lunch with my brother and his family, and our mom who came to visit. My nephew LOVED my first attempt at carrot cake (I’m the queen of not trying recipes before I make them for an event, so far so good!). He walked around asking for more cake from everyone after he finished the piece we were “sharing.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 8.54.39 AMA fine weekend if I do say so myself! The husband is off to Chicago this week and I’m headed to Boston for an overnight on Wednesday. Quick trip to finalize details on a project and then back home on Thursday for our last weekend before wedding season starts!  So, for my Monday Must-Haves:

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#1: FitBit – it doesn’t matter whether you have the FitBit One or FitBit Zip, or any of the other options, any of them will motivate you to MOVE. I have the “zip” and it calculates my steps taken, calories burned, and mileage for the day. You can add a food diary in your app which will help with the caloric data. You’re supposed to take 10,000 steps a day (or around 5 miles), having this little device attached to you will certainly push you to get closer to that number. I hook mine on my pants or skirt each day (or on my bra if I’m wearing a dress), it’s easy to conceal!

#2: Herbal Essences Naked Shampoo: You can grab this at any drugstore or Target. I picked it up over the weekend and couldn’t believe how clean my hair felt after using it. Also, the volumizing aspect is actually there. I usually use Aveda products to make my hair perk up (or Big Sexy Hair What a Tease Back Comb in a Bottle for special events), but for every day use, this shampoo does a great job. Highly recommend it for only $4 a bottle!

#3: Beach Body 21 Day Fix:  If you’re able to be productive while working out at home, and capable of jumping around, I highly recommend this workout system. You get 3 discs of workouts, including: cardio, plyo, yoga, pilates, upper/lower body and other variations. The workouts are only 30 minutes each, and that includes a warm up and post workout stretch. If you also follow the meal plan that comes with this system, you’ll certainly see results. If you can’t follow the diet but need a quick workout in your life, it’s still an effective fitness plan.

#4: J.R. Watkins Hand Soap: When we moved in our new house, I grabbed a couple bottles of the aloe & green tea soap from Target, not knowing what a hit it would be! Everyone who comes out of our guest bath comments on how excellent it smells. Plus, it’s in a cute bottle so you don’t even need to transfer it to a soap-dispenser!

#5: Shark Navigator: my mom got us this vacuum for Christmas and it has literally been a God-send. We use it CONSTANTLY (in lieu of sweeping). Having two dogs who insist on shedding year-round, this is the quickest way to spiffy up the house – and it has settings for hardwoods or carpet. (Thanks, Ma!)

#6: Brita Water Bottle: this guy is my constant companion. Easy for grabbing water essentially anywhere, including airports – and not feeling gross. You see, it filters the water before you drink it. No need to purchase water bottles anymore if you have this one, you can fill it up anytime and be on your merry way!

Happy Monday! Try to make someone else’s day happy while increasing your own happiness!

Full to the brim!

This year, we hosted our very first Thanksgiving at our home as a married couple. We celebrated the day with my grandparents, mother, brother, sister-in-law and nephew (and two scavenger dogs).

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Our menu consisted of:

  • Fried Turkey
  • Ham
  • Salad with honey goat cheese, cranberries and walnuts
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Green bean casserole
  • Mac N’ Cheese
  • Cornbread stuffing
  • Deviled eggs
  • Gravy
  • Brownies
  • Pumpkin Pie squares
  • Chocolate Chess Pie

Is your mouth watering? Wait until you see the pictures!

My husband fried the turkey. It was not only his first turkey cooking adventure, but first time frying. We started with the marinade the night before all of which he mixed up. On Thursday, he put together the rub and covered the turkey with it and let it set for a few more hours before entering the fryer. At first he thought he had burnt the turkey when it came out but we quickly found out that it was DELICIOUS – and the marinade made it super juicy. Everyone devoured the turkey (almost wish we had bought a little bigger one!).

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My Maw Maw brought the ham (and brownies), which she had put a glaze on and of course this country mouse loved the ham. Who doesn’t love ham? I know Thanksgiving is all about the turkey, but I was thankful for ham.

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My sister-in-law (above) brought the Mac N’ Cheese and cornbread stuffing. Both were delicious and were much needed starches to the semi-healthy sides I tried to make.

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I had apple cider warming when everyone arrived. A simple recipe but was delicious and kept us warm on such a chilly day! Just add cider from a jug in the crockpot, 2 cups of water, 2 cups of rum, 5 cinnamon sticks, 18 whole cloves, zest of an orange and a lemon and cut up an apple in chunks. Bring to a boil and then keep warm while serving. All of our guests (even Maw Maw) enjoyed this warm drink!

My sweet potato casserole was a favorite of everyone. It’s such an easy recipe and is semi-healthy. It calls for 5 medium sweet potatoes (chopped and boiled to soften), mix 1/4 cup brown sugar, sweet potatoes, 3 tbs orange juice, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup low fat margarine together and layer in baking dish. Use marshmallows or pecans to top. Put in oven on 350 for 10-15 minutes or until top is browned.

unnamed-9While the main dishes were amazing, dessert was still (and always is) my favorite part. My husband made Chocolate Chess Pie at 8 A.M. to accompany my pumpkin pie bars (literally pumpkin pie cut into squares) and my grandma’s brownies.

unnamed-10I could not be more thankful for the family that we were surrounded with and the opportunity to spend that time with them. My heart is overflowing with love and gratitude for each and every one of them – including my husband. Not only did he cook, but he did most of the cleaning up post-apocalypse, I mean, post-Thanksgiving dinner. Feeling lucky & thankful to have him by my side, not just on Thanksgiving, but every day.

unnamed-11Happy December!

Showered with Love

This past weekend, my cousins (pictured below) threw me an amazingly beautiful bridal shower. I was completely blown away by not only the food and decor, but also by how much love I felt! This is going to be a picture heavy post – so get ready!
blogcousinsblogcousins2The whole day was utterly perfect. I could not have asked for a more gorgeous day, or for better time spent with family. The decorations and food were incredible.
blogcandyblognapkinblogdrinksblogdecorationblogcupcakeblogfoodblogbbqblogdecorblogrecipeblogrecipeboxWe got so many amazing gifts, I don’t think we could possibly pick a favorite! We got the china we registered for, beautiful wine glasses, cast-iron skillets, a dozen and a half kitchen utensils, and…. A KITCHEN AID STAND MIXER!  I think my jaw hit the floor when I opened that gift. We cleared spaced immediately on our kitchen counter and put this baby up there. blogmixerGames were involved too! And I got a pretty pink & green ikat print apron out of it (along with all of the utensils). I have enough aprons to last me a lifetime now!

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We are so completely overwhelmed with the big, generous hearts of our families throughout our engagement. We knew we were lucky, but everyone has gone above and beyond with us in this time and we are so, so grateful.

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And to top off the weekend, I got to see the world’s best Paw Paw on Father’s Day weekend and get some more of those hugs that I treasure so much. We also got to spend time with my soon to be Father-in-Law in Pittsboro for Father’s Day. A busy, wonderful weekend, full of so much family and so much LOVE.
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Weekend Wrap Up

How is it Monday already? I feel like the days and weekends are flying by and we are now one week and two months away from walking down the aisle. Holy mackeral! Friday, I met with our coordinator, who certainly helped put my mind at ease! I already appreciate that we have her and know that appreciation will only grow on the day-of. We also received our perfect wedding invitations! We are SO excited to work on getting these babies out and can’t wait to start receiving our post card RSVPs!

The rest of our weekend was fun-filled including breakfast with Cory, a VT friend, and his fiance, Inna from Ukraine. After breakfast, we jetted off to our nephew’s 1st birthday party and spent some quality time with the family.

1-weekend2After the party, we checked out VBGB at the Music Factory for dinner before seeing Matrimony and Langhorne Slim live! Both bands are excellent. We hope when Matrimony hits the big time that they still come back to their local hub for shows!

1-weekendWe also received these darling glasses that we had registered for on Honeyfund.com from our sweet, sweet friend, Brandy. I am completely and totally smitten with them! I had to put them away so I won’t be tempted to use them before the day that we are officially Mr. & Mrs.!
1-weekend3On today’s agenda is booking a cake tasting/dessert tasting so we can book our final “big thing” for the wedding. I will be so happy to have all of these things on our list checked-off so we can relax up until the big day. Ha, who am I kidding? We are going to be so busy but I know we’ll love every second of it. For more things that are going on with the wedding planning, check out my Carolina Bride Blog!

Happy Monday!

Lucky in Love

Sometimes I have to stop and pinch myself and wonder how we got so lucky! I know I keep saying it, but we really are blessed to be surrounded by so many caring people in this time and to be showered with so much love!

I’d really like to thank our friends and family for being so incredibly wonderful and constantly volunteering to help or sending us sweet ideas. We are definitely lucky!

Happy Friday!

Making the Cut

We’ve been working on our invite list since… oh, ’round about October and I do believe that it is in its final form now. That was TOUGH. Do we invite all the great co-workers? Do we invite the college friend that was a really good friend but we haven’t talked to in years? Do we invite the sorority/fraternity members? Do we invite those people who believe that they are “best friends” with us but we consider them acquaintances? So hard.

Modern Manners Guy had a great post about who to invite to your wedding – and who you didn’t have to!

  • You don’t have to invite who your friends or parents want you to invite – it’s YOUR wedding
  • You don’t have to invite all of your co-workers (or any of them!)
  • You don’t have to give everyone the option to bring a date – maybe they’ll meet someone!

I’d like to add to his list that it’s okay to tell people their children aren’t invited. Yes, they are cute, and we like them, but we don’t want children in the mix on the dance floor or screaming during the ceremony. Please leave the munchkins at home.

I have found it incredibly rude that people ASK if they are invited to the wedding. Who does that? I feel like if you have to ask, you probably aren’t invited and if you are invited, you wouldn’t feel the need to ask. If I haven’t seen you in 7 years and have only talked to you via Facebook every 10-12 months since then, yeah…. about that.

Our plan was to have 125 people at our wedding for a quaint, outdoors affair. After a first try, our list was at 168. We tried to modify, but for everyone we removed, we added someone else. And what about the great grad school friends we’ve made? So many tough decisions with this wedding stuff (eloping is NOT off the table! Just kidding, Mom). After my biggest decision, some people helped remove themselves from my list (15 to be exact).

So as of last night, we were at 153, including our pastor and photographer. Obviously, we know not all of those will show… it will be vacation time or a baby will arrive, and we’re okay with that. But our list finally reflects the people that we want to share our big day with and we’re so excited to finally get our save-the-dates out in the mail!

We’re still in the running for winning a Sandals Honeymoon package! You can vote for us once a day here – all votes are VERY MUCH APPRECIATED!