From a Miss to a Mrs.

As the title alludes, I’ve been in a wedding whirlwind, then a honeymoon hurly-burly, and now I’m switching to a moving mayhem.

Prior to our wedding I went back home to Texas where 2 of my friends threw me an amazing bridal shower and bachelorette party. (Hello Erin and Michelle! Thank you again for your hard work, both parties were AMAZING!)

I had a wonderful time catching up with friends who spoiled me…and my kitchen. Thank you to everyone who attended, it was wonderful to visit and spend time with you all!

One of the best and most appropriate gifts was my very first recipe box. It is odd to think I never had one to begin with! Now that I do I can’t wait to fill it with my favorite recipes and pass it down to the next generation. After a time spent visiting with friends, I headed back to South Carolina for the nuptials. Mine and Ryan’s family flew in for the very small, family only ceremony, which was supposed to be an outdoor wedding, but more on that later.

After my family arrived my mom and stepmom (and even my dad) got to work on making my bouquet and other flower arrangements. I ordered the flowers online and had them shipped to me, knowing I had 2 talented ladies who could easily whip up my dream bouquet.

Which is precisely what they did!

Together, my mom and my stepmom cranked out 1 dream bouquet, 3 boutonnieres and 4 corsages, all the night before the wedding. Not to mention all of the additional floral decor that they took to the venue and used to jazz up the tables and wedding cake. I really couldn’t get over my bouquet. It was what I had always envisioned and they created it with no reference and just a vague suggestion from yours truly. Thank you again mom and Cheryl for working so hard!

(And special thanks to my mom for keeping me grounded and helping me stay calm during all of the wedding catastrophes. Your support and love is greatly appreciated!)

The night before the big day I went to try on my dress for my mom and grandma, only to discover that it didn’t fit.

Cue complete nervous breakdown.

My mom was superwoman and we were off to David’s Bridal like a shot, with my being a sobbing mess. Turns out they sold me the wrong dress and I was lucky enough to discover this the night before my wedding. We ended up scrapping the original dress and got a new one. David’s Bridal was kind enough to take back my old dress and we ended up paying the price difference. They were SO amazing and wonderful, I was not a happy bride and they really went above and beyond the call to help us out.

New dress in tow we returned to the hotel where yours truly lamented about being an only child and therefore denied the opportunity of elopement to which my mom kindly pointed out, “Well… you’d still need a dress for that.”

I love her!

A few more snafus occurred; my makeup artist called in sick and it rained so our wedding had to be moved indoors.

But everything came together just as it was meant to. I had a dream wedding, really and truly. It was wonderful to have everyone enjoying themselves and joking around. One thing I love about both of our families is the shared sense of humor. I walked down the aisle to the theme from Jurassic Park (a youtube video of the song to be precise) and I’ve never seen Ryan smile quite so large. We wrote our own vows and I managed to make it through with just sniffles and no actual crazy tears.

The food was fantastic, our venue was perfect, everything came together as it was meant to be. Despite the rain, makeup, and dress issues, I really did have the perfect wedding.

I married my best friend, what could be better than that?

 

 

**Thank you to our friends and family for your support and enthusiasm. I will update more wedding photos as I have them, the professional photos will take a wee bit of time. We love you all and thank you again for everything!!**

 

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Upgrades

It’s been a very exciting couple of weeks for my kitchen. So naturally, I’m blogging about it! I was lucky to have my graduation, my 25th birthday, and the arrival of my tax refund all coincide within a few weeks of each other. So my savings account was looking quite healthy. I didn’t spend the money right away because I wanted to wait and see what I got for my birthday and I wanted to think carefully about how I wanted to spend it. It was tough waiting that long (Geminis are not known for their patience!) but it was definitely worth it in the end because my kitchen got a major upgrade! for my birthday, my parents got me a set of three spring form cake pans in different sizes that I’ve been wanting for a long time. And my wonderful aunts bought me a food processor!! I already have the Ninja Master Prep, which is kind of a hybrid blender/food processor, but there are still a lot of things it can’t do. So I’ve been dying for a food processor. Thanks Jackie and Jen!

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Speaking of the Ninja, it was prety inexpensive and for awhile I was using it every single day, 7 days a week. Needles to say, it’s not working quite as well as it used too. So with some of my graduation/birthday money, I bought the Master Prep’s bigger, badder cousin, the Ninja Professional Blender

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I don’t make smoothies as often as I used too because I don’t have time to make and consume them before work in the morning. But I still love them for a quick lunch, and every foodie should have a great blender. If by chance you’re in the market for a blender, I highly recommend this one. A lot of bloggers swear by the Vitamix blender. I’ve never used a Vitamix before, so I can’t compare the two. But the Ninja handles frozen fruit and ice like a dream (even a whole frozen banana cut in half). And at $99, it’s a bargain compared to the $400 Vitamix. Even better, f you sign up for e-mails from Bed, Bath & Beyond, you can get a 20% off coupon. With the coupon, I got the blender for only $94, including shipping!  The blades down the center of the blender are the secret to blending just about anything into a perfect smoothie. the pitcher, lid and blades are also all dishwasher safe, which is especially nice because the blades are super sharp.

To finish off this post, I’m going to post my first recipe in forever. Last night I tried my hand at making spaghetti with Filetto Di Pomodoro, and it was a success! The first time I had this it was made by mom mom with spaghetti that she also made from scratch and oh my God, it’s so good. I’m warning you now, this sauce is 1. Not a fast recipe at all, and 2. Will ruin store bought sauce for you, no matter how much more convenient it is. So proceed at your own risk! It’s so worth it though. And it’s really not hard, just a lot of prepping/chopping and a long cooking time. It also makes a big batch and freezes well, so you can make it once and eat it for several meals.  To give credit where credit is due, this recipe comes from “The New Complete Book of Pasta.”

Filetto Di Pomodoro
Makes 7 cups

You’ll Need:

4 heaping Tbs minced prosciutto fat or bacon (my mom always uses bacon instead and it tastes great, so I wouldn’t even bother looking for prosciutto fat)

2 Tbs high quality olive oil

1 Tbs butter

3 large white onions, chopped (its all going to go through a food processor eventually, so you can roughly chop these)

4 large fresh basil leaves, minced, or 1 Tbs dried sweet basil

10 very large ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and diced, or 9 cups canned italian plum tomatoes  (once again, my mom and I both used canned tomatoes for this. The sauce is so flavorful I’m not sure you’d notice a difference between fresh and canned)

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

Black pepper to taste

Directions

1. In a saucepan, over medium heat, saute the bacon in the olice oil and butter until crisp but not overly brown

2. Add the onions and basil, simmer for 6 minutes

3. Add the tomatoes (with juice if desired) and stir well. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently

4. Add salt and pepper and stir well. Raise heat and cook off extra liquid from the tomatoes

5. Allow sauce to cool, then blend it all in a food processor (my food processor holds 7 cups, but I still had to do this several ladlefuls at a time

6. Return sauce to saucepan, heat, and serve over spaghetti

Enjoy!

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Review: Ben & Jerry’s Frozen Greek Yogurt

*Gasp* I’m posting a new entry and it has been less than a month since my last one! 😉 But I tried a new product while I was in Indiana, so I thought I’d do a review post.

I love greek yogurt and I love Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. So when I saw an ad in a magazine for Ben & Jerry’s new frozen greek yogurt, I definitely wanted to try it. What’s not to love, right?! But I don’t go to the grocery store as often as I used too and you’re not necessarily going to find this at every store that carries Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.  While I was home for graduation though, I had a chance to check Fresh Market (like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s except much smaller and not as well stocked) and I found it. Unfortunately, the only flavor they had left was strawberry short cake (it also comes in peanut butter banana, blueberry vanilla graham, and raspberry fudge chunk) but I decided to try it.

So here’s what I thought: It’s made by Ben & Jerry’s, so of course it tastes good, and the flavors are reliably unique. but that’s where the pro’s stop. My mom and I both agreed that in a blind taste test, you’d be hard pressed to distinguish it from regular ice cream. it’s not that much creamier. And aside from that, I discovered that it has 50 more calories than a regular ice cream we already had in our freezer and significantly more sugar as well (for the same tiny recommended serving size). I might buy it again if I find the peanut butter banana flavor just because it sounds delicious. But other than that,  at $5 a pint for more sugar, more calories, and none of the health benefits of greek yogurt, I think I’ll stick with regular ice cream.

Question of the night: Have you tried frozen greek yogurt?

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Milestones

I’m back again! Yes, this is Vanessa and no I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. I know I said awhile back that I was going to post more, but what can I say? Life can be a little all consuming at times. The good news is, I should have more free time now because I graduated a little over a week ago!! After 19 years as a student, I’m FINALLY done 😀 And the best part of all was that I finished my final semester with 2 A’s and a B despite moving and working 40-45 hours a week. I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to academics, so I was especially proud of my final grades. Then, a week after my graduation, my brother graduated from Purdue. No, we’re not twins. But I guess this is my one chance to know what it’s like to have a twin! Haha.

The most expensive piece of paper I own!

me with my parents at my high school graduation in 2006

…And 6 years later. A little older, a little wiser 🙂

I am quite literally a female clone of my dad. I might never have graduated without his guidance

I adore this picture!

We love each other, can’t you tell?!

You’re looking at a future orthopedic surgeon!

Yes I brought my cap and gown with me, I couldn’t pass that opportunity up!

I was so glad Alex’s graduation fell so closely to mine, because I couldn’t have made it back up to indiana right away if it had been a couple weeks later. So I got to spend a little over a week in Indiana with my family and got to see my brother graduate. After Alex’s commencement, we drove to Indianapolis. I had to be in Indianapolis Sunday afternoon anyway for my flight back to Virginia, and this way we got to have dinner at one of my brother’s favorite restaurants (St. Elmo’s for any Indiana people who are reading) and have Sunday brunch for Mother’s Day. I miss them so much and it was great getting to spend so much time with all of them.

I’ll be honest, graduation was not what I expected. Thanks to a few unexpected set backs, I was in college for 6 years. And while I love learning, I hate due dates, tests, quizzes, and annoying professors. So I couldn’t wait to graduate and I never imagined I’d be anything but relieved when it was over. Then it started to sink in…something that has been a part of my life for basically as long as I can remember  is over, and I can’t get that time back. Even though I technically entered the “real world” back in February when I moved to Virginia and started working full time, I can’t stop thinking about what someone told me when I graduated high school, “College is like the real world with a safety net.” Well, that safety net is gone now. Maybe someday there will be a generation that will listen to their elders when they warn them not to grow up too fast!

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Planning and Preparing

As you may know, I’m getting married soon! My dearest friends are already planning my bridal shower and I’ve been working like a madwoman to lock down dates and venues.

Planning a wedding is extremely time consuming and stressful. I’m not having a huge ceremony, it will be just mine and Ryan’s family in attendance, but it is still hectic to say the least. I’ve got most of it planned out but the remainder has been giving me migraines and an abundance of other health issues.

I’ve already found my dress but now I must find the accessories and a tailor. And flowers. And a cake. And find a hair salon and nail salon. ETC ETC ETC

I was going to try and make my own cake, but everyone talked me out of it. Apparently there is a lot happening on the day of a wedding, and worrying about trying to make and decorate a cake is not something a bride wants to be dealing with. Or so I’m told.

Really, I think they are intimidated by my skills.

The above is an image of my decorating work. Yep, that is my first and last decorating attempt.

For those of you who may have difficulty reading (which is in no way a reflection of my decorating skills) it says “Happy Birthday Kerri”

Okay, maybe they had a point.

Either way I want my cake to taste AMAZING and look nice. I’m not a fondant fan (blech!) so I know my options are a little more limited. I’m off to start researching bakeries and everything else.

Cheers to a good week!

-Brittany

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Review: Three Little Birds Cafe, Charleston, SC

A few weeks ago we went Charleston for a fun weekend getaway. It was relaxing and amazing! We had such a great time and got to do a little exploring.

Being the foodie that I am, I had to find the best place for getting some local grub. After a sub-par seafood experience, I knew I had to find the right place for us to end our weekend on a tasty note. After a bit of googling I stumbled upon Three Little Birds Cafe. I always like to look at the menu online and this one looked very promising!

We pulled into the shopping centre, searching for the cafe and I spotted an Earth Fare! I looked at Ryan and he goes, “I know where we’re going after breakfast.” He loves me so much!

After winding through the parking lot, we finally stumbled upon the cafe. It is located in a bit of a weird location, kind of mid-parking lot. We parked and walked into a packed cafe which is always a good sign. There was no seating indoors, so we opted to sit on the little patio. The sun was shining and there was a lovely breeze. We already knew what we wanted, cheers to pre-reading a menu, so we quickly placed our orders! I got a celery, pineapple, orange, and carrot juice to go with my water. I was very impressed that they offered fresh juice blends, not the standard “from concentrate” cocktail blends.

Ryan ordered eggs over-medium, with andouille sausage and cheese grits. His was gone so fast! He LOVED the sausage and grits. (You can see him tucking into the food while I was documenting our meals 🙂 )

I opted for an omelette with goat cheese and fresh basil. On the side I had mixed greens and a house-made strawberry citrus vinaigrette. DE-LI-CIOUS!!!!!

I loved the omelette so much, I’ve been re-creating it at home!

A little bite of Heaven!

 

After our yummy brunch, we headed to Earth Fare! That is where we purchased our juicer and became juicing fanatics.

Overall I recommend this quaint cafe. It is very vegetarian friendly and very FRESH!.

For an inexpensive and tasty breakfast in Charleston, SC be sure you head to Three Little Birds!

Have a great week!

-Brittany

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I had my first acupuncture treatment last Friday! I’m terrified of needles but when you feel terrible, you will try anything that may help. And help it did! There was minimal pain; the needle in my foot was the worst overall but it was a tiny pin-prick and not painful, just uncomfortable. (And the discomfort was very brief)

I never thought I would be able to get over my needle-phobia, but I surprised myself! And it was such a great experience with such amazing results that I can’t wait until my next session!

I’ve also been prescribed some Chinese herbs to make me healthier. I have yet to receive them, but I’ve heard great things about Chinese and holistic medicine.

 

During the treatment I  found myself struggling to relax. It takes time for me to quiet my mind and I was focusing all of my energy on relaxing, which was having the opposite effect. Eventually I mellowed out and was half awake, half asleep. My muscles were so relaxed that they kept twitching. When it was over I felt rejuvenated and refreshed. There was a noticeable difference in my back. The tension that liked to reside in my neck and shoulders had been evicted!

Have you ever had acupuncture before? Think it is crazy, cool, amazing, or not worth it?

Hope you have a great day!

-Brittany

 

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