Thursday, November 29, 2012

Going... Going... Gone

So R and I have been packing every night this week in preparation for our move.  I wish we are ready to purchase a home but moving to a new town without kids, I think we have a ton more research to do before we make that commitment.  We are renting a beautiful 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom townhome near the triangle that will be convenient to both of our jobs.  Packing has been a nightmare....am I getting too old for all of this?!?! 
To make the job easier I've been sipping some Apothic Red.  It is amazing.
 R needed to cope as well.  He made vodka cocktails (we were gifted quite a bit of vodka from his mother when she was cleaning out the liquor closet in their beach house) and built a phenomenal box arch.
It was so much fun to knock this over!

I'm going to share some photos of our house prior to move out just because I will miss it.  R proposed to me here and I'm sad that we can't stay here longer.  The photos below were taken a few weeks ago when we still had up our fall decor. 














Goodbye house!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Planning the Rehearsal Dinner

This weekend we say down with R's mother and planned our rehearsal dinner.  She picked the beautiful Fearrington Village Granary as our location.  Fearrington is a well known farm to fork establishment and is located close to our venue and to the hotel where we have blocked off our guests rooms.  

 The dining room inside the Granary.  R's mom is ordering floral centerpieces for the table that will compliment our wedding colors.  We are hoping to re-purpose them as wedding decor on the auxiliary tables.
 This is a terrible fuzzy picture of the invitations that we have picked.  These are from Wedding Paper Divas and are listed as Beautiful Blackboard.
The bridal party and close family will meet for drinks and appetizers from 6:30 to 7:15 and will sit for three courses.  I'm not quite sure how I'm going to fit into my wedding dress the day after this meal!  I'm only listing the menu that we chose in case any of my blog followers find themselves in the Chapel Hill area hungry :-)  If not it's worth the trip and Fearrington has their own inn so you can stuff yourself silly and take a nap afterwards. R took the lead on selecting the menu, we have eaten there before and I LOVED the salmon and the chocolate cake so he was sure to include them!
First Course
Crunchy Baked Potato Soup with Smoked Bacon, creme fraiche, and green onion
Roasted Beet Salad with goat cheese, candied pecans, and sherry dressing
Second Course
Striploin of beef with potato gratin, grilled asparagus, and peppercorn cream
Salmon with grilled asparagus, spinach and seafood creme sauce
Dessert
Vanilla Creme Brulee with seasonal fruit and shortbread
Molten chocolate cake with caramel sea salt ice cream and candied orange

I'm so glad this giant task is taken care of and we are really looking forward to it!

Monday, November 26, 2012

November Wedding Chore Update


The month of December is more about holiday fun and family time than planning our wedding.  We have a meeting with the preacher for another pre marriage counseling session and we are hoping to finish our music list so we can meet with the DJ.  I was also going to purchase R's wedding gift and start addressing invitations.   I'm noticing each month that a lot of this list will be reserved for the month before our wedding....eek!..so there will be a crunch time no matter how well I've tried to plan.

Set a date
Book venue
Book photographer
Book Music and lighting
Decide on bridal party
Book caterer & bartender
Create wedding website
Register for shower
Book florist
Purchase wedding dress
Purchase bridal accessories
Rent linens
Take engagement pictures
Select bridesmaid dresses
Select groom & groomsmen attire
Send bridesmaids ordering info for dresses
Book cake baker
wedding coordinator guidebook
Buy cake knife & server
Order save the dates
Send save the dates
Book officiant
Pre-marital counseling
Finalize guest list
Obtain guests addresses for invitations
Order cake topper
Decide on videographer services
Hotel room blocks
Rent hotel rooms for March 22 and March 23
MOB & MOG dress shopping
Find wedding shoes
Find wedding jewelry
Book makeup artist & hair stylist
Reception menu tasting
Hair trim, nails, tan for bridal portraits
Take bridal portraits / hair & make up trial
1st dress fitting
Bridal portrait bouquet
Final dress fitting
Make ceremony programs
Dance Lessons
Write out escort cards
Find 10 glass milk vases
Pay venue for ceremony chair set up
Order invitations
Address invitations
Mail invitations
Order wedding cake
Book rehearsal dinner venue
Buy Rehearsal dress
Buy sparkler for send off
 Find hair accessories for FG
Decide on bridesmaids shoes
make table numbers
make cake stand
Buy groomsman gifts
Buy FG and RB gifts
Reader and coordinator gifts
Bridesmaids gifts
Bachelorette party outfits
Bachelorette party
Buy gifts for mothers
Bridal shower attire
Bridal shower
Shower thank you notes
Shop for wedding bands
Purchase wedding bands
Create wedding day timeline
Put together picture list for photographer
Buy drinking straws
Buy mason jars
Bridal Makeup trial
DIY signs for reserved seating
Engagement photos framed for auxiliary table
Book a salon for day of wedding
Makeup for MOB
Decide on setup for cocktail table d├ęcor and purchase accessories
Purchase Candles / votives
Purchase Grooms Gift
Wedding Favors
Escort card display and welcome sign
Purchase alcohol for reception
Get marriage license
Create signs for sparkler exit and favor
Book transportation from reception to hotel
Book honeymoon
Honeymoon outfits
Bridal luncheon invitations
Bridal luncheon favor
Decide who will return reception rentals
RD invitations – FMIL
Plan rehearsal dinner
Final vendor payments
Final Music selections and do not play list
Order thank you notes
Hair, nails, tan for wedding
Ring cleaning
Pack for honeymoon
Wedding announcement in News and Observer
Walk down the aisle & say I do!

Santa Baby

Our sweet lab mix, Baby, loves Christmas.  She loves a warm fire, she loves when we are cooking big meals in the kitchen, and she loves that we stay inside with her more.  There is one other thing she loves about the holiday season...
Christmas cookies.  Don't we all?  
We purchase a package of these frosted and decorated cookies for her at Petsmart around the holidays.  She has a little game of touching the cookie she wants with her nose.  We also picked up a little something for her stocking:
 this sweet little set has different Christmas rawhide snacks.  Baby doesn't get rawhides often so this is a real treat for her.  The lollipops are so cute!
And just so the public can see how spoiled our dog really is...she will be getting an actual birthday cake this month.  The ingredients in this "Pup-Pie" sound amazing...cinnamon, black strap molasses, oat flour, yogurt coating - I'm sure she will not be in a sharing mood :-)  She will be twelve on Christmas Day and we hope we can celebrate many more birthdays with her.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Holiday Home Fragrance

I love bath and body works on Black Friday.  I got 3 candles for the price of 1 ... it was difficult to pick from all of their available scents but these are the ones R and I both agreed on.

Tis the Season will probably be our main candle for the month of December.  Merry Cookie can really go all winter...it smells like vanilla frosting!  Cranberry Pear Bellini can really go all winter too, it has the least "holiday-esque" label - it smells clean and slightly fruity.  They had a great selection and I really can't ask any more for the price I paid.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Our Christmas Angel

Today we dropped our Angel gift by the salvation army...it was so much fun buying for her and I hope it makes her Christmas a little more special.  We found the motherload of deals at Kohls on Black Friday.  Here is what she will be opening (picture taken with my phone):
I found an adorable doll that has several accessories included, a plush owl, a long sleeve shirt with a printed owl, pink sweater and scarf, thick fleece pink coat with waterproof shell and hood, pack of socks, Disney coloring book, crayons, skittles, tooth brush set, and a colorful set of ponytail ties.  I wanted to find her a pair of bottoms but I didn't understand the size listed on the tag - I'm sure it was meant for boys sizing because I've never seen a little girls pant with an "H" listed on it.  Some stores carry a "Pretty Plus" for young girls who need a bigger waist band, JC Penney's is one of them but we had already left the mall when we bought her clothes.  R and I had a lot of fun choosing items for her and with Black Friday sales we were able to get more presents and still stay within our budget. There really aren't a lot of rules as long as any food products are in a sealed container and all items are new and unwrapped.

Bagged and Tagged!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday....my loot (just a teaser, no peeking)

This just happened.

Well not just...I needed a few hours of sleep first before I could post.  R met me at moms house last night around 6:30 and took a long nap before we set out to shop.  We were parked at the mall by 10:30 and waited until the stores opened at midnight.  I really thought Macys was going to open earlier...I could have sworn I saw that on one of the commercials during the parade.  I really didn't have to go to Macys so we waited by the Belk entrance until midnight.  There were a lot of people out but it never felt "overly" crowded....I've definitely had worse Black Friday shopping experiences.  It's been less of a chore since the start of Cyber Monday too.  We went to Belk, Express, Victoria Secret, and a few other shops before leaving around 3am.  Next we went to Kohls to buy for our Salvation Army Christmas angel.  Ahhh!  Such great deals!  We finished the night at Target.  I spent too much money of course but I saved a lot too.  Also (drum roll) please - I'm done with my Christmas shopping!!! Okay well almost - there is one more item to get R but it can't be found at the mall and I can really pick it up anytime.

I'll be sharing what we decided to get our sweet angel girl too.   I usually do one every year and I'd like to encourage my readers to try it if you've never "adopted" one for the holidays.  It makes me feel like Santa!  We picked a 5 year old girl this year who wanted a doll and her ticket also lists her clothing sizes.  My mom chose an 8 year old boy who loved football and wanted a bike...we purchased items for him yesterday and earlier in the week.  The deadline in most areas is the first week of December so if you are interested find your local Salvation Army tree...usually in a mall or movie theater or contact them directly.  When we shopped today in Raleigh there were still several tickets left on the tree an these children might not receive any presents from Santa!  So if you swing the extra funds this year please consider this charity - it's legitimate and most of the kids are reasonable with their requests.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

New Sephora Goodies

My recent Sephora purchases...

 Laura Mercier Lip Glace in Rose.  A very pigmented pink shade that looks almost red but less harsh.  The formula is great...long lasting and not sticky.  I have another Laura Mercier gloss and it's my favorite consistency of any gloss I've ever tried.
I've wanted to try Living Proof products for a while.  I'm in a hair rut since I'm growing it out for the wedding.  I've also been getting less layers (on purpose) and even though I'm going for regular trims I'm still getting some frizz and flyaways.  This little sampler box seemed like a great way to try them out.  I'm also interested in the volumizing products but for the first round I think this is a great set for the price.  It comes with a shampoo, conditioner, styling cream, and a small sample of leave it conditioner.

And just for fun I used a code for a vinyl sephora makeup bag full of deluxe products.  I chose the "classic look" bag that included:

  • Lancome Bi-Facial Double Action Eye Makeup Remover
  • Stila "in the light" eye shadow palette
  • Cartier Baiser Vole Eau de Parfum
  • LILY by Stella McCartney Eau de Parfum
  • Nars Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil in New Lover
  • MUFE HD Powder
  • Murad Clarifying Cleanser
  • Sephora Foundation Primer
  • Lancome Hypnose Star in Noir Midnight


For reference the Nars product in the swatch on top and my new Laura Mercier gloss is on the bottom.  I can't wait to try out all these goodies.  I've already paired my new Nars lip pencil with my laura mercier gloss and found the perfect, glossy cranberry lip to wear throughout the holidays!

Thanksgiving Reflection

Hello All!!!!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I wanted to do a quick holiday post.  This has been the best day - I'm having thankgiving with mom this year (just me and mom) and at 3:30pm I'm in yoga pants and my pajama top.  We prepared a meal this morning fit for the royal family - turkey, dressing, all the fixings and moms fabulous butter cake with coca cola icing.  We did everything while watching the Macys Day Parade...


I made my cranberry relish...loosely following Emeril's Cranberry Sauce.  I use 1/2 cup sugar, the juice and zest from 1 orange, and 2 cups of cranberries - heat on the stove until it becomes thick.

So just to put it out there publically the top five things that I'm thankful for:

1.  My Savior who paid the debt of my sin so that I can be forgiven and live eternally.
2.  My freedom and the soldiers, past and present, who have dedicated their lives so that the rest of us can have that freedom. 
3.  My fiance, I prayed for him and I'm so thankful God brought us together, twice :-)  I've always thought it was corny when couples called a spouse their other half, but I get it now.  I'm not quite whole without him.
4.  My family but most of all my mom whose love and support made me into the woman I am.  I love that my mom will make me chocolate cake even though she really doesn't eat it and has devoted hours to helping me with wedding planning.  God didn't just give me a mom, he gave me a best friend.
5.  My fur babies!  Lilly has travelled from town to town with me during college, my internship, my first job, my second job, and my new relocation.  I would have been so lonely without her.  Since R and I have been together Baby has become more than my "step-dog" she is my sweet girl who is as dedicated and attached to me as she is to R.  A home isn't quite a home without a pet...then our household is twice as blessed to have 2.

Have a safe weekend while out shopping and attending holiday gatherings.  I'll be out at midnight tonight trying to stay warm and save some money during the Black Friday Sales!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lights, Camera, Action

I couldn't decide if I wanted a wedding videographer or not.  I spoke with several friends who are married and asked them if they were happy with their wedding video or if they regretted not having one.  Basically I heard the same thing...if I spent the money and got a video I might never watch it but at least I'd have it.  I also heard that there are certain moments that photography alone will not capture.  So after much research I found one that wasn't booked for our date that offers a reasonable package with editing.  He called me and did kind of a phone "interview", I liked that he took the initiative to not just communicate via email.  I have not met him in person but I do know that he is a vendor that advertises with our local bridal expo (which means he is credible).  He also offers some of his work for viewing on his website.  This is the last vendor that I needed to book and I'm thrilled that I've hired a team of wedding professionals that will take the stress off of me on the day of my wedding.  I feel a little guilty spending the money, but my mom offered to gift the videography and even said she would like to have a copy of it for herself.  Now looking onward to the big wedding chore ahead....addressing, assembling, stuffing, and stamping invitations.

This is the link the the videographer I chose if there are any brides in the Raleigh area wanting a referral.  I will be posting reviews on all vendors after my wedding.






Tuesday, November 20, 2012

10 Year High School Reunion

This past Saturday was a real treat...my 10 year high school reunion.  R and I had a great time, he already knew a few people that were going to attend because I still keep in touch with them.  I had fun catching up with people I hadn't seen in a decade.  The reunion committee decided to hold the festivities at a local winery.



 I wore a Suzi Chin dress that I purchased from Bluefly.com a few months ago.  I had to buy it one size too big because they didn't have any left in my size and a local seamstress tailored it to my measurements.  The lighting wasn't great in the winery, I really wished I'd taken pictures prom style at moms house before we left.
 This isn't my photo, I took it from the facebook page because R had my camera all night in his pocket and I forgot about it.  There were a few prizes given out - to the person who had a baby most recently, the person married the longest, the person who had traveled the longest distance to get to the reunion and two random prizes if you were sitting in a chair that had a ticket taped underneath.
 I found this picture from the same album as above.  Our MC for the night held a moment of silence for the classmates that have passed away and took the time to recognize the classmates who had served in the military.  I like that you can see the table set up behind him too...they had little foil centerpieces with balloons in our school colors.  After the welcome, prayer and announcements we had a nice dinner of chicken, carved roast beef, vegetables, and rolls followed by dancing.

A classmate took these "decor" shots before everyone started arriving.


I added this for fun - one of my classmates posted a copy of our commencement...to respect the privacy of my classmates I will not show all the pages but it was fun to read through this little document again.

Monday, November 19, 2012

In the Kitchen: Pecan Pie

So I love The Pioneer Woman like 99.9% of human beings...I relate to her more than Martha and her meals are less complicated than Julia's dishes.  I made her pecan pie recipe recently and it might be my new favorite.  I did not make a pie crust...I found two delicious looking crusts that were conveniently found in my grocers freezer and thought that it looked even easier :-)

I made two pies to take to R's grandma's house this past weekend for an early Thanksgiving and received rave reviews.  My favorite trick is to sub out the vanilla flavoring for good bourbon (I prefer Makers Mark). 

1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup corn syrup (I prefer the light syrup instead of the dark)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup melted butter (I used I can't believe it's not butter all purpose)
3 whole eggs beaten
1 cup chopped pecans (I prefer them finely chopped and I tend to use at least 2 cups)

Preheat oven to 350*. 

Mix all ingredients except pecans.

Pour pecans into pie crusts (this is Ree's genius step, for years I've mixed the pecans in at the end when the mixture was blended and this can lead to uneven distribution in the pie crusts since the filling is obviously lighter than the nuts so the second pie ends up with more nuts).

Pour the liquid mixture over the nuts and divide between each pie.

Bake both pies on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil for 30 minutes, I turn the pies half way through but I do that with all baked goods. 

Remove foil and bake for additional 20 minutes - I only needed 9 minutes, any longer and my crust would have been too brown.  Ree admits that her cooking times vary each time she makes it and to keep an eye on your pie (Ha!  that rhymed)

I didn't take a photo so please visit Ree's GORGEOUS site and follow her photo tutorial.  Fun fact - I pronounce this dish pea - can like I CAN pronounce "pea-can".

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Our 2012 Christmas card

 
 I ordered our Christmas card last night from Shutterfly.  R really didn't want to have to dress up this year for a "family" photo and I couldn't think of when we would be able to plan a mini photo shoot in the next few weeks while we are packing and moving (not to mention our pre wedding counseling).  The plan was to repurpose one of our engagement photos for our Christmas card... until we saw this one!  We both laughed at "feliz naughty dog" and I already had a picture of Baby saved in my photos of her "shame" face after being caught in the bathroom trash can.
 
Shutterfly is having some great promotions right now on their Christmas cards and they have a great selection.  I've ordered cards from them for the past 3 years and I've never been disappointed in the quality.  Check them out if you haven't ordered your 2012 holiday cards!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My entire week in one post...

What a week!

I had a cold this week, it really wasn't a big deal during the day but the congestion made it very difficult to sleep at night so I stayed tired.   I was dependent on cough syrup and a humidifier and this stuff...
my favorite.
I helped host a coworker's baby shower on Tuesday and my task was to pick out a cake.  I ordered a cake from Sams Club (it. was. amazing.), everyone at work likes whipped icing and they had a great selection to choose from.  I chose one that had a cute fondant baby laying on a flower.
And when I got home from work I had a surprise waiting for me.
My bridal portrait disk!!!!  The photographer packaged it in a cute tin container with a bow.  I can't show you the disk because she labeled it with one of my photos:-)  Ahh, I love her!

I received an email about PopSugar's luxury edition must have box.  At $100 it was a bit of a stretch considering the holidays are around the corner.  I've been "good" all year saving money for the wedding and purchasing items that were "on the list".  I really wanted a splurge for myself so I hope it's really good!  

I also bought myself a new gadget.
I haven't used it yet but I thought it would make it easier to make my holiday bows.  Michaels has a great sale on ribbon this week and I've got coupons!  One of the fellow shoppers at Michaels was raving about her Bowdabra when I was standing in line with some other items and peaked my interest.  I've been making bows for a while looping and twisting by hand ... it's not difficult but it can be tiring and it can be hard to put 2-3 different ribbons of different textures together.  I'm hoping this gizmo will make it less of a chore.

We made a big wedding decision this weekend.  After tasting cake from three different vendors we chose our baker / cake designer....
Why was this such a difficult choice?  My future mother in law wanted us to book her favorite baker but she doesn't deliver the cakes.  If we booked her we would have to pick up the cake, drive it to the venue 2 hours away and set it up.  My cake has fresh flowers on it so some of the decorating has to be completed on the afternoon of the wedding.  I'm very picking about buttercream and R wanted jam filling instead of flavored icing.  We found one baker that offered what we wanted...she makes the cake on the Thursday before the wedding, decorates it, and delivers it.  She is super professional and I know she will do a great job.

Oh and we are moving.

This is happening.  We looked at several rental properties and endlessly searched online but we found a great townhome with lots of square footage in our price range.  I think we'll stay there for 2-3 years while we pay down some student loans and search for a home to buy.  The location is perfect our commute which will seriously cut down on my driving time.  The neighborhood is incredibly charming, and most importantly safe - oh and the landlord is super sweet!  We'll be packing for the next two weeks and plan to move at the end of the month. My Christmas tree will probably be the first thing I unpack!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

In the Kitchen: Crockpot chicken and dumplings

Warning - I'm a picky dumpling eater.  I'm also a picky chicken eater - I don't like dark meat and I don't care for bone-in chicken.

This recipe must be super popular right now.  Jenny posted it Monday and it reminded me that I had saved it from a few weeks ago when TiffanyD posted it.  Two southern girls raving about a shortcut dumpling recipe, this I have to try. 

It is very simple and with the disgusting weather we've had the past few days it felt appropriate for some country comfort food.  I really liked it and I will make it again especially because R loved it more than his grandmothers.


1 package of boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
3 cans condensed cream of chicken soup ( I used campbells 99% fat free)
1 can chicken broth (I used swanson brand fat free, 33% reduced sodium)
1/2 can of water
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 small onion chopped
pepper  ( I didn't add salt while it was cooking because I wanted to taste it first)
1 can refrigerator biscuits (not the flaky kind)  (I used Pillsbury Grands Homestyle that serve 8)

All the ingredients except the biscuits go into a crock pot on a high setting for 5 hours.  Take the chicken out and shred it and put it back in the crock pot.  Cut the biscuits into pieces and place into crock pot (if you seperate the biscuits then divide each biscuit into fourths).  Cook for another 40 minutes.