Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wedding Wednesday!

I haven't done a Wedding Wednesday post for a while and I thought I would share my lastest story with you.

It finally happened! It’s been a really long and interesting road but the search is over. I have found my perfect match. Are you wondering what I’m talking about? The perfect dress, the perfect venue, the perfect prince charming….

Well yes I’ve found all that stuff already, but what I have FINALLY found is someone to do my wedding hair and makeup. I realize this may not seem like a big deal but this has been a rough subject lately. As you may have read previously I had a bad experience getting my makeup done for Ace and I’s engagement pictures and that was supposed to be my “trial” for the wedding. STRIKE ONE!

Okay, no problem, I talked to a salon close to my mom’s house and they said they do wedding hair and makeup. So I go in for a consultation and the lady said she doesn’t have any makeup but we can bring our own and she can put it on for us. Ummm, what? Then I show her like six pictures of pretty wedding hair that I stole from Pinterest and she got to working her magic. Or so I thought that’s what she was doing. She curled and teased the mess out of everything and since I want a half up/half down hairdo she took the hair from the sides of my face and literally tied them in a knot at the back of my head. The anticipation was killing me and I was all excited until the she turns the chair around. The only way I can think to describe it is “Thank you for the country music award”. Let’s just say I was not happy. STRIKE TWO!

I decide to ask around and talked to a friend about a great salon I had been to years ago and thought it would be perfect. So I called and guess what, there was a girl who called the day before who is getting married on the same day that I am, but in North Carolina and the whole salon was going up for that. Are you kidding me! Well they called me back and a girl could stay back and do my hair. Yay! Next was to schedule a trial before I set up my bridal portraits. Well apparently the girl only works every other Monday and some Saturdays. I’m sorry, what? I don’t live in Columbia, the portraits will be in Charleston, and my dress is in Greenville, so along with trying to coordinate all that I also need to schedule it on a random Monday (because the photographer and venue are working actual weddings on Saturdays). I don’t think so. STRIKE THREE!

I was officially worried. Then I randomly told my hair/makeup story to a friend and she suggested a place I hadn’t thought of. I called them, set up an appointment in 5 minutes, showed the hair stylist my pictures, she did her thing and at the end of 15 minutes I had the perfect wedding hairstyle. Seriously, could it be this easy? The next test was the makeup trial. I had my trusty pictures, and not only did she follow them but she improved on them. It was so beyond easy. I guess the first tries were just to add to my fun list of wedding planning stories. Anyway, to wrap everything up, I have my hair and makeup all scheduled, awesome!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Books I Would Recommend

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “What I’ve been reading” post which is a shame because I’ve read some great books lately. Here are some of my recommendations.
Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors
While I love historical fiction I generally stick with the English royalty novels. However I picked this book up ages ago not know anything about it and finally got around to reading it. It’s about a semi-aristocratic girl living through the French Revolution. Of course I knew the basics about the Revolution; the poor citizens of France were being made poorer by the French royals and nobles, so they took over, killed many people, and set about reforming the government. But I’ve never really paid much attention to the details or major events that brought the Revolution about. This novel gives the read a first person perspective of those dangerous years in Paris. There is plenty of juicy gossip and scandal to keep your attention and you really what the main character to find happiness in the end. It’s a real page turner, plus I learned a lot since the author tried pull as many real events into the storyline as possible.
Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert -
I have to admit that I did not particular enjoy Gilbert’s first book Eat, Pray, Love. (I know, I’m like the only person in the world who didn’t like it, I’m okay with that.) So when a friend recommended Committed I wasn’t sure about it. But I found it in the library and decided to give it a go. I read the whole book really quickly and found it surprisely interesting. Gilbert has found herself in love with a foreign man and the only way they can be together is to get married, which just so happens to be the one thing they promised they would never do. The book is a culmination of Gilbert’s research into what makes marriage work. This is a question I have asked myself for a long time. My parents were married for over 30 years and I want that for Ace and I, but how to you make it happen? Obviously this book is not the answer to every martial problem but it has lots of different views on marriage, the history of marriage in different cultures, and how some people make it last. I really enjoyed this book and think that it’s a great read for anyone who is married, thinking about getting hitched, or even people who are thoroughly against the idea, since the author started out in that state of mind.
Living in a Foreign Language by Michael Tucker -
I loved this book for many reasons. First I am obsessed with the idea of going to Italy and taking my time going through each region, exploring all the tiny towns, art, culture, and most importantly food that the country has to offer. This book is about a couple who decides to move to Italy and their adventures of fitting in and making an ancient villa into a home. We follow them though buying meat from three different butchers to how to build a house that looks old. I highlighted about a third of the book so I can remember it whenever I do get to visit Italy someday. It’s a quick but really fun read. Perfect when you get the itch to travel but can’t.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fall Baking

It’s official, fall has come to North Carolina! I love fall! I love the leaves changing color, wearing jackets, and making comfort foods. So to kick off the new season I spent Friday in the kitchen baking! I got a chance to use my new KitchenAid mixer, which I’m obsessed with! I made a new recipe and a tried and true one, both of which were a hit. The Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies are a bit of a mouth full to say but are really good and worth the assembly process. The Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Scones are pretty easy to make and are perfect with a cup of coffee in the morning or after dinner.

Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider CookiesVia Scrambled Henfruit via Pinterest
1 cup softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 box (7.4 oz) Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink mix -not sugar free- all 10 packets (I found this in my grocery store near the hot chocolate mixes.)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups all purpose flour
1 bag Kraft Caramels (14 oz)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line cookie sheets with parchment. (You really need the parchment! This is my first time baking with it and it won’t be the last. You don’t have to use non-stick spray and clean up is a breeze.)

In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
With your mixer (Yay!) cream together butter, sugar, salt and all 10 packages of apple cider drink mix powder, until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and mix well.

Gradually add flour mixture to butter/egg mixture. Mix until just combined. Be ready for this to be a little messy, or at least mine was. ;)

Refrigerate for about an hour. (If you're really impatient you don't have to do this, but it makes it so much easier to work with.)

When you are ready to bake, unwrap your caramels. Scoop out cookie dough ball about the size of a walnut. (I used a tablespoon measuring spoon.) Flatten the ball of dough slightly in the palm of your hand. Press the unwrapped caramel into the center of your dough and seal the dough around it, covering it completely. Place on parchment covered cookie sheets 2 inches apart. I sat and watched an episode of Say Yes to the Dress and this process went really quickly.
Bake 12-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges. Please don't over-bake! Once the cookies are done, slide the parchment off of the baking sheet right out onto the counter. Allow cookies to partially cool on the parchment. When cookies are cool enough to be firm but still slightly warm, carefully twist off of parchment and allow to finish cooling on a rack. Apparently if you forget about them and they cool too much they will stick to the parchment, but I didn’t have any problems with this. If this happens just put them into the freezer for a few minutes and they'll pop right off.I thought I would break up these recipes with a shot of my cute apron. I think it needs a monogram, how about you?

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Scones
Via Taste of Home
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup cold butter, cold
1 egg, separated
1-1/2 cups refrigerated hazelnut nondairy creamer or half-and-half cream
1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Additional sugar

In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients; cut in butter until crumbly. This is where I wish I was at my mom’s house because she has a dough blender. But if you are like me and don’t have one just use your fingers to squish the flour mixture and butter together. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk and creamer; add to dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips and a few shakes of cinnamon.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead 10 times. Divide dough in half. Pat each portion into a 7-in. circle; cut into eight wedges. You may need to pat some flour on the knife so the dough doesn’t stick to it.
Separate wedges and place on greased baking sheets. Beat egg white; brush over dough. Mix some sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over each scone. Bake at 425° for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sweet Treats

I adore recipes that are quick and easy with 5 ingredients or less. Super easy recipes that taste impressive is kind of my thing. I will admit that if a recipe has a huge list of ingredients I usually forget about it. So when I saw this recipe on Pinterest I had to try it. These were crazy good and when I made them the first time for a group of football watching boys they disappeared. I highly recommend this recipe!

Cake Batter Rice Crispy TreatsAdapted from Gimme Some
3 Tbsp. butter
1 (10 oz.) bag of mini-marshmallows
1/3 cup of yellow cake batter (whatever brand box cake you have is fine)
6 cups crispy rice cereal
1 (1.75 oz.) container of sprinkles
Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. I also wanted to show off my beautiful blue pots. I love them so much. Add marshmallows and stir until they begin to melt. I only had large marshmallows, whatever. Add in cake mix one spoonful at a time so it combined. I added up to a ½ cup of batter because I really like the pop of cake taste in the treats. Stir in cereal so it is completely coated with marshmallow mixture. Sprinkle in half of the sprinkles and mix. Press into a baking dish (any size will do) and top with remaining sprinkles. Let sit for about 30 minutes before cutting. I find spraying a knife with nonstick spray helps to cut them.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fall Show Lineup

The new fall TV shows are airing and now that I learned to finally use the DVR, yea it took me a while, I can watch them all. I love a full DVR on a rainy day, which we are having lots of lately. There are a lot of new shows that I’m going to try out so we’ll just have to see if they are any good. I think I’ll borrow my good friend Olivia’s format to map out my schedule.

8:00 PM = Giuliana & Bill – MyStyle (Guilty pleasure)
8:30 PM = 2 Broke Girls - CBS
9:00 PM = Hart of Dixie – CW

8:00 PM = Glee – Fox, Last Man Standing - ABC
8:30 PM = Man Up – ABC
9:00 PM = New Girl - Fox
10:00 PM = Mad Fashion – Bravo
10:30 PM = Fashion Hunter - Bravo

8:30 PM = Suburgatory - ABC
9:00 PM = Modern Family – ABC
9:30 PM = Happy Endings - ABC
10:00 PM = Up All Night – NBC, Revenge – ABC, Extreme Couponing – TLC, Top Chef Just Desserts - Bravo
10:30 PM = Free Agents – NBC

9:00 PM = Grey’s Anatomy – ABC
9:30 PM = Whitney - NBC
10:30 PM = The League - FX

11:30 AM = Pioneer Woman – Food Network
10:00 PM = Dina’s Party - HGTV

9:00 PM = Desperate Housewives – ABC
10:00 PM = Pan Am – ABC

If you need an everyday fix a new show called The Chew airs every weekday at 1:00 PM at ABC. Also I never miss Passport with Samantha Brown on the Travel Channel at 10 and 10:30 AM. It keeps my travelling obsession at bay, for a while at least.

What are you watching?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Recipes Keep Coming

I found a recipe that I read through and thought “wow, there isn’t anything in that dish I don’t like”. Well obviously we had to try it. I am trying to be better about taking pictures during the process. So here is my latest experiment.

Shrimp and Red Pepper Pasta

Adapted from Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy Hour
3/4 cups Ranch dressing
1 {3oz.}pkg/container shredded Parmesan cheese
8 oz. angel hair pasta
3 tbsp. butter/margarine
1/2 lb. sliced, fresh mushrooms
1 lb. medium fresh shrimp, peeled
1 {12oz.} jar roasted red peppers, drained & cut into strips
1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced (I used a tablespoon of pesto bc I had it on hand)
1/4 tsp. pepper

I cheated and used frozen shrimp because I already had them but they still tasted great.
Cook and drain the pasta. Combine ranch and parmesan and set it aside. I did all my chopping while I waited.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add mushrooms. Stir constantly for two minutes and add the shrimp.
Cook for 3-5 minutes until shrimp turn pink.
Combine ranch mixer, peppers, and pesto to the shrimp.
Serve over pasta.

I was really excited about this recipe. It was good but I thought the entire sauce being made out of ranch dressing made the dish a little too rich. I might make a traditional Alfredo sauce to start and then add ranch dressing for the flavor.

Chicken and Dumplings Ya'll

I’m a little behind on my cooking blog. I’ve been really good though and I’m trying lots of new recipes. I was not very adventurous when it came to food growing up. We had a handful of recipes that the family would eat and that was it. (I must say that this was in spite of my mother’s desperate attempt to expose us to new things.) Anyway, I don’t want Ace to get bored with dinner and he is willing to try pretty much anything I want to make. It’s been a fun experiment. I love the idea that I could be finding our ‘family recipes’, the meals that my family will ask for over and over again.

My new favorite tool in the kitchen is definitely my crock-pot. It makes cooking super easy and you pretty much cannot mess it up. With the weather getting cooler, it got down to the 50’s in the Carolinas this past weekend!!!!, the crock-pot is awesome.

Chicken and Dumplings
Adapted from
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (a little over 1 lb)
2 tablespoons butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 onion, diced
1 can refrigerated biscuit dough
Garlic salt
Chicken stock
Sprinkle chicken with pepper and garlic salt. Place the chicken, butter, soup, and onion in a slow cooker, and fill with enough chicken stock to cover. (You can use water but stock adds flavor.)
Cover, and cook for 5 to 6 hours on High. About 90 minutes before serving, place torn biscuit dough in the slow cooker. Stir everything and shred chicken if you want. Cook until the dough is no longer raw in the center.

I, of course, forgot the take a picture of the final product but that’s okay because it’s not particularly pretty. But oh it is sooo good and comforting.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Greek Festival and a Wreath

One of my favorite events to kick off the fall season for me is the local Greek Festival. The one in Columbia, SC has grown to be kind of a big deal. It runs for four days and it seems like everyone makes it out at least once, mainly for the food and pastries. Last year I’m pretty sure I went at least twice for lunch and everything is so good! I was sure we were going to miss out this year but low and behold Charlotte had their own Greek Festival. Ace and I went for a late lunch on Friday and were surprised to find the festival pretty quiet. It was an odd time to go but still. Anyway, we got our usual gyro and tried the Greek beer Mythos, we weren’t going back to work so chill out. The food was good but not our favorite. We shared a baklava sundae, again not as good as the ones in Cola., and took a box of treats home with us. It was nice to have a greek-fix but it just wasn’t the same as what we were used to in Columbia. Good news, we are going to be in Columbia to watch the Gamecocks vs. Navy game this weekend and that is when Columbia is having their Greek Festival. Yay! Not only did we not miss it but we got two Greek Fests!

On a different note, I decided I couldn’t look at our plain front door anymore. When you live in a condo everyone’s door looks the same and it was driving me crazy. I know, I focus on the weirdest stuff. Anyway, I stopped by Michael’s and picked up fall wreath stuff and while I cleared out a bunch of shows on the DVR I made this:

Saturday, September 10, 2011

USC Gamecocks vs. UGA Bulldogs

To start off I think you should know that I am a real southern girl. I watch football. Not like the girls who go to games to talk to their friends and just scream when their team scores kind of watch. I know the players, I care about yards gained, and don’t really want to talk to you about what you bought at the mall unless it’s halftime. I love football and I am a die-hard South Carolina Gamecocks football fan.

For a second year in a row the Gamecocks pulled a win out against Georgia. In the usual tradition South Carolina’s team won the hard way and kept us on the edge of our seats the whole game. Ace and I had a bunch of guys from his office over to watch the game. I was excited to try out a bunch of new recipes. The man made manly food, i.e. chili, in the new crock pot and that was a great idea. I made Cream Cheese Sausage Balls, Buffalo Chicken Dip, and Deviled Eggs. I’ve never made any of these recipes but all of them are staples for a great tailgate. I was really happy with the outcome and the boys ate everything!

Cream Cheese Sausage Balls
Adapted from Plain Chicken
1 lb sausage, uncooked
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 ¼ cups Bisquick
4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350F.
Mix all ingredients until well combined. (I use my KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook attachment because that's what Plain Chicken did.) Roll into 1-inch balls. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until brown. Plain Chicken said you can freeze these uncooked which would save you some time on gameday.

(I left the first batch in a little too long. Please excuse the crunchy bottoms.)
Buffalo Chicken Dip
Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything
1 can chuck chicken, drained
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
½ cup Ranch dressing
½ cup Frank’s Red Hot
¾ cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Heat chicken and Frank’s sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through. Make sure to break up the chicken so there are no big chunks. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended and warm. Mix in shredded cheese. Pour into a shallow dish. I added some extra cheese on top. Microwave until the cheese has melted. We served it with tortilla chips, pretzels, and celery.
Deviled Eggs
6 Hard boiled eggs
Yellow mustard
Light mayo
Celery salt
Peel eggs and cut down the middle length wise. Pop the centers out in a bowl and combine with the rest of the ingredients. Ace was teaching me this recipe so there are no measurements. Just mix everything to taste. Then fill the empty centers with the mixer. We dusted half the deviled eggs with dill weed and half with paprika.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Slower Cooker Test Run

Growing up, my family never used a crock pot. However the more I get into cooking the more I wanted one. Everyone says slow cookers are so easy to use and everything always tastes great. So I was super excited when my fabulous future sister-in-law and her mother gave me a crock pot at my bridal shower. I immediately found a ton of recipes I wanted to try and I thought I would show you my first attempt.

P.S. I cut the portion down to two instead of four because it’s just Ace and me and we aren't great with leftovers. However I did make the full sauce recipe because I like sauce. ;)
Slower Cooker Angel Chicken
Adapted from Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy Hour

I used:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Half a pack of 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms – diced
1 can condensed golden mushroom soup
1 stick of butter
1 pkg. dry Italian salad dressing mix
½ cup chicken broth
1/2 cup diced white onion
Half of an 8 oz. tub of chive and onion cream cheese spread
Angel hair pasta

Here is all my stuff!

First melt the butter in the pan. The original recipe didn't call for onions but I had some in the fridge that needed to be used up so I threw those in too. When the onions were translucent I stirred in the Italian dressing mix, condensed soup, chicken broth, and cream cheese. Stir until all melted together.
Next place the diced mushrooms on the bottom of the crock pot. Place the uncooked chicken on the mushroom layer and top it with the sauce. It's not crazy pretty but it smells amazing by this point.
Cover with the lid and cook on low for 5 hours.
When it's all done we spooned the chicken and sauce over angel hair pasta, although you could use rice too. It was sooo good! We will definitely be making this again and it was crazy easy to make. Try it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Bridal Shower

As a female I have been to countless bridal, couple, ‘insert crazy theme here’ showers to celebrate someone getting married. Honestly I love them. I know that’s kind of weird but I really like the idea of people getting new stuff to start their new life together. (Plus I like buying presents for people!)

However I was surprised how different of an experience it is if the shower is for you. I’m used to being the planner and it was weird not knowing exactly what was going to happen and to have all the focus on me. Ace’s mom and sister-in-law were sweet enough to throw me my first bridal shower over the Labor Day weekend. It was all his family and friends and that may have contributed to my nervousness. Yet the overwhelming feeling of love and support took over and I was able to have a lot of fun.

Tips I learned while opening presents and looking through pictures of myself opening presents:
1) If you wear a dress make sure it covers your knees when you sit so you don’t worry about flashing people.
2) Sit up straight, no one likes a slouchy bride.
3) Smile the whole time so you don’t end up with weird facial expressions in people’s pictures.
4) Make sure you have someone take notes on who gave you what and someone to hand you presents and take away the trash. (Huge thanks to Ashley and Reenie for this!)

Overall I had a blast and Ace and I really enjoyed sitting down just the two of us afterwards to go through all the gifts. We are so blessing to have such wonderful family and friends.

The beautiful tables, the napkin rings are big diamond rings.
I was very excited about my slow cooker.My gorgeous servingware!
My sweet cake!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Go Gamecocks!!!!!

It’s been forever since I’ve blogged. I have no good excuses. I’m going to try to be much better. Moving on…..

According to Facebook my status a year ago today was “I’m ready for some Gamecock Football” and I would say the exact same thing today. The first Carolina game is in Charlotte, NC over Labor Day weekend and of course I will be out of town for the holiday. Now I have to find a place in Maryland that will be showing the game, which will probably be impossible but I’m going to try my best.

I’ve found some crazy cute game-day dresses that I wish I could purchase for the season but for the moment I’ll just drool over them. GO COCKS!!!!!

Source: And yes I realize these dresses are in Georgia colors but they come in Garnet and Black

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