Friday, May 31, 2013

Pastors, Pizza & Patriotic Fruit - H54F

It's a little ridiculous how excited I am that it's Friday now, considering I only worked four days this week. But who cares - it's still Friday, and I'm still excited! It's been a pretty crazy busy week, and the weekend will be just as crazy. We've been trying to get in a ton of wedding planning before June 8, because that's when Jeff's boys get here, and they'll be here for three full weeks! We're obviously excited for them to be here, but it leaves us not much alone time, and definitely not much wedding planning time. So we're trying to cram before then!

And so for today's post, I'll tell you five things about this past week that made it good in the midst of the busyness, because today, we're going back to good ole' High Five for Friday with Miss Lauren!

1. My sister and her new husband hosted their first party at their house for Memorial Day lunch, and Jeff and I were in charge of fruit. So we got festive and made red, white and blue fruit skewers! Yummy, healthy, festive and easy. Perfect.

2. Tried a Lean Cuisine French Bread Pizza for the first time, and that baby was delish. And only 310 calories.

3. We looked at another wedding venue on Wednesday, and we really liked it. Not as much as Maclay, but it was still a really good location. Unfortunately, we found out that Maclay is already booked for all of October, so this new place (The Dogwood House) is now our number one choice. The pro's of this place over Maclay though, is that it's $200 less, and it has more tables and chairs that come with it. We'll probably be booking it in the next few days!

4. Sat through two hours of high school graduation on Thursday night, to see some very special youth of mine walk across that stage. This group was in 6th grade the first year I worked with our youth group, so I've seen them grow up all through middle and high school, and it's been amazing. Last night, about 15 of them graduated, and I was so proud of all of them!

5. Over the years, this special girl has become more than just one of my youth, and I am so glad I got to watch her grow up into the beautiful lady that she is. She is going to do amazing things with her life, and I can't wait to watch her!

And not pictured above is number 6. We finally talked to both of our ministers, and we're all set to go with our wedding officiants! Jeff's dad (who is a pastor) and my old youth pastor/mentor Duncan, will both be officiating our wedding ceremony, and I could not be more excited about that!

So yeah, it's been a busy week. And this weekend will be busy. And next week will be busy. But hopefully at the end of next week, we will have made a lot of progress in our wedding planning, and will be able to breathe a bit. Because holy moly it's only  four and a half months away now!! This weekend we have two graduation parties, wedding dress shopping, registering, and a family birthday party. Bring on the fun and the crazy and the busy!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Put It All in The Crockpot

Good morning my dear blog friends! It's been a while since I've shared a recipe with y'all, so that's what I've got planned for you today! We had planned to go to a movie on Tuesday night, but that morning I just wasn't feeling it. I wanted to just stay home and rest a bit. So I decided I would cook dinner for us since we would be staying in. So I ran to Publix on my lunch break to grab some supplies, and in about 10 minutes, I had Put It All in The Crockpot. Then by the time 6:30 rolled around, dinner was halfway done, and I had barely even done a thing. And it was delicious! Minimal prep time and very little cooking for a super yummy dinner. That's my kind of meal!

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (the ones I got that day were huge)
As much chopped onion as you prefer (I like a lot! Especially since it cooks down real nice in the mix.)
1 can of 98% Fat Free Cream of Mushroom Soup
16 oz. Fat Free Sour Cream
1 pack of onion soup/dip mix
Thyme (didn't measure this, just sprinkled till it looked good)
Salt & Pepper (again, just sprinkle till you're satisfied)

Spray non-stick cooking spray all inside the crockpot
Place chicken breasts on bottom, covered by the chopped onion
Mix everything else together in a separate bowl, then glop it on top of the chicken and onion
Sprinkle with a bit more S&P
Cook on low for 5 1/2 hours
Take chicken out and shred it using 2 forks, then return to sauce and stir all together
(While it sits a bit more, prepare the rest of your meal to let the chicken have time to soak in the mixture.)
Taste it, and season again with thyme and S&P if you want to (I added more of all 3)
Serve over noodles or rice, or just eat by itself if you want to!

We ate ours over whole wheat "egg-style" noodles, like stroganoff is usually eaten over, and it was perfectly delicious. And of course we added in some broccoli to make it a nutritious meal!

This makes a lot of the sauce mixture, so it can easily feed about four people. We both ate the portions you see above, and then had a little more after that. And we still have plenty of leftovers for at least another meal for both of us, which we'll probably eat for lunch or dinner tonight. So this can easily feed a family of four!

The one addition I would make would be to add some sliced baby bella mushrooms. I thought about adding them, but even though Jeff loves the taste of mushrooms, his stomach can't handle them. However, he said if they were big enough pieces, he could just pick them out next time. So next time I'm definitely adding those in, and he can just put his over on my plate, because I love them! We both really enjoyed this meal, and it's easy enough to become a regular staple in our at-home cooking. Plus, it's few enough ingredients that I can remember it on my own without having to constantly consult a recipe, which is always a bonus when you're trying to just throw something together quickly!

We both recommend you try this, because it's super yummy and we think you'll like it! If you do try it, let me know how it went for you and if you liked it or not! Happy eating :)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Picking A Wedding Venue

My week is still feeling all crazy and weird. Monday felt like the longest day ever somehow, Tuesday felt like Monday, and now today just feels strange. I guess the whole week is gonna feel a little off, until we get to the weekend and everything gets reset back to normal. And to make it even weirder, I'm not doing my typical weigh-in Wednesday post today. Sure, I'm still going to share what the scale said this morning, but then I'm moving on and today is going to be Wedding Wednesday instead! Because I have some wedding stuff I feel like sharing and updating y'all on. And I only worked out once in the past week (1 mile run & Zumba = 883 calories burned) so that's all I've got for my weigh-in today. And hey, I'd rather stay the exact same than have to report a gain!

Initial Starting Weight = 227
January Starting Weight = 217
Last Week, May 22 = 189.2
Today, May 29 = 189.2

So now let's move on to some wedding news! As some of you may remember, we were planning to do our wedding at the beach, on St. George Island. We searched high and low to find the right house to rent, and once we found it, we started making plans to rent it. But it turns out there were a TON of extra fees, that shot the total price through the freaking roof. And we just couldn't justify paying as much as it was going to cost, just for the venue. The house included nothing additional, but it was already over half of our intended budget. We have made sure to search everywhere and exhaust all potential beach options, but we couldn't find anything suitable, and within our budget. So just this last weekend, we sadly had to nix that idea of a beach wedding.

So we've started looking around town to see what we can find here! We are still wanting an outdoor wedding, so that's what we're focusing on. And so far, we've already found a really great option! I had done all the research on it, and then we went to check it out further on Monday evening, and we both loved it. It's Maclay Gardens State Park here in town. So let me just show you some pictures of the place...

This below is where the ceremony would be. We would stand right there where I am, with chairs set up from where the picture is being taken, so everyone is looking out on the reflecting pool, to the lake in the far background. And we want to build a little bamboo arch thingy for us to stand under, that will be centered right there framing the pool.

The pictures below is what's directly behind where Jeff was standing to take the picture above. It's a beautiful little walled garden with a tiny fountain in it, that would be great for portraits of the bridal party, and of course Jeff & I too.

And the reception would also be at Maclay, at the Gardener's Cottage on the back end of the property. It's just a cute little house, that's empty inside, and can be set up and decorated however we want, provided we don't mess anything up of course! And we would set up a big white tent in that grassy area to the left of the house, because the house itself isn't big enough for everyone. What you can't see from the picture though, is that there is a giant row of beautiful flowers that surrounds that whole little lawn area, and is so pretty!

We hadn't made an appointment, so we couldn't actually go inside the little cottage, but we peeked in the windows, and it's really cute inside. Definitely want to make an official appointment so we can go inside and look around and get the full run-down of how they do weddings. All-in-all though, we really liked the whole idea of the wedding and reception at Maclay, and it's a really great deal. Not only is it wayyyy more affordable than our beach house option, but this also includes some tables and chairs that we would obviously need as well.

There are a few other pro's to having the wedding here in town, and so even though we're bummed we're not doing a beach wedding anymore, we're actually getting really excited about the direction things are going in now. We've come up with a new theme, but we'll be keeping the same color scheme as before. We're also coming up with lots of cute ideas and DIY projects that I'm sure we'll have to get started before too long! And of course I'm definitely excited about doing some craft projects :)

Today on our lunch break, Jeff and my Mama and I are going to look at another option here in town, so we'll see how that goes. I believe it's roughly the same price as Maclay so it's still really affordable. I can't wait until we finally pick a venue, and we can start planning out all the cute little details and things! Hopefully that'll be happening soon, because we have got to get a move on. October 12 is just about four and a half months away, and we've got a lot to get done in that time frame! Ahh!

So here's to a crazy summer of wedding planning up ahead! Oh, and I'd definitely still be open and willing to accept any and all advice concerning planning a wedding, especially on a budget. So feel free to share any tips you may have or leave links to other bride-to-be bloggers!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pair of Shoes for You - Giveaway!

It's been a while since I've participated in a group giveaway like this, but today I'm bringing you a pretty great one! It's a chance to win a $90 gift card to! I for one wish I could win this myself, but since I can't, I'd at least like for one of you lovely ladies to be the one to win it! So head on down below, and enter your little hearts out for a chance to grab a cute new pair of shoes for your for the summer!

photo MayGiveaway_zpsac9c7721.jpg
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Parasites & Pelorosaurus: FFTL Link-Up

Well, most of us are all back at work today after a long, three-day weekend, which makes today feel like a Monday. Which isn't the greatest feeling, until you remember that it IS in fact Tuesday, and we only work four days this week! So then it's not too bad :) And since it's actually Tuesday, and not Monday, that means I'm going to skip my weekend recap for now (maybe it'll happen later this week?), and today we're doing From Firsts to Lasts link-up! And I'm excited because today is the first day we're doing the "lasts" part of this, so I'm excited for a tiny switch-up in things today!

Today's LASTS topics are:
Last book you read
Last movie  you saw in a theater

Last book I read
The last book I read was "The Host" by Stephanie Meyer. I really didn't know anything about the book, but one day Jeff's Granny gave it to me to borrow after she had finished it. She is 85 years old, and I'm 25 years old, and we have the exact same taste in books - we both love the weird, sci-fi/fantasy stuff! I let her borrow The Hunger Games series, and the Divergent/Insurgent books, and she liked those a lot, so now we share books pretty often :) 

So anyways, when I first started reading The Host, it actually took me quite a while to get into it. I had no idea what it was about, and so I was confused at first. But once I found a couple reviews and I got a feel for it, I couldn't put it down! I was constantly trying to sneak in 10 minutes here or 15 minutes there to read just a little bit more. And then once I got near the end, I stayed up till about 2 a.m. one night finishing it! It was really interesting, and I certainly liked it. If you like that kind of genre, then I highly recommend it! I haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm hoping to soon, as it's currently in our "cheap" theater here in town. (They get movies about 2 months after they come out, and it's only $3 a ticket!) But anyways, it's about aliens who call themselves "souls" (although the humans call them "parasites") who have invaded Earth, and taken over 99.9% of the human bodies. Some humans still remain in hiding, and this is about their fight for survival. It's really interesting, and I would like this to have been a series so I could read more of the story!

Last movie I saw in a theater
I'm not 100% sure on this one, but I'm thinkin' it was Jurassic Park about a month ago. And we actually saw it one and a half times! We went on a Thursday night, and got over half way through the movie, when the power went off in that entire part of town. So they kicked us out of the theater, but gave us free readmission tickets to come back again. So we went back the very next night, and watched the whole thing from the beginning again! And it was so good - way better than I remembered! I was actually jumpy and squealy at a few parts, like I was 7 years old again! But it was lots of fun :)

If you'd like to join in on this fun link up, check out the super simple 'rules' below, and get to writing! Can't wait to see all the new link ups this week, meet new friends, and read y'all's posts!

1. Write your own post about this week's topics & link up with us!
2. Put the new button on your post or somewhere on your blog
3. Visit some of the other links, and share the love with them on their posts!
4. Spread the word on Twitter and/or Facebook

And if you'd like to prepare for next week's link-up, the two 'first' topics will be:
First blate you went on (or who you would like to meet if you haven't done this yet!)
First blog you visit on your reader, blog roll or RSS feed

Friday, May 24, 2013

Preview of the Reception

She had a lot of cute ideas and things for her reception, and everything ended up looking really cute. We did a pretty great job doing all of the decorating and everything ourselves, and we were very pleased with how it all turned out for her big day! And once again, I can't wait to get all the professional photos back and see all of those! We ourselves didn't even get pictures of everything completed, so I can't wait to see it all it's glory!

I wrote that for them, and made the bows too :)
Groom's "cake." But it's a cookie cake, because he doesn't really like cake that much, but he loves this stuff!
Guests made their own bags of popcorn to-go as the favor, that said "Thanks for poppin' by!" Wish I could copy this!
Giving our toasts. And Zach's toast blew mine out of the water. It was so good!

Everything for her wedding ended up beautiful. The decorations, the flowers, the cake, and most importantly, the bride! She was gorgeous, and I was so proud of her and happy for her. I was so very blessed and happy to have been her Maid of Honor, and I'm so thankful she gave me that opportunity! Now I can't wait for her to get to do all of this for me, as my Matron of Honor in October!

Right now, they should be getting ready to return home from their honeymoon, and I'm already excited to see her and hear how everything went. I can't wait to hear all about what they did and how gorgeous the Virgin Islands were, and see pictures! I feel like a little kid whose big sister was gone away to summer camp or something, rather than the 25-year-old big sister, whose little sister just got married and went on her honeymoon! I'm just so excited for her!

Puzzles & Parks - My Summer Bucket List!

Apparently the thing to do around blog-world this summer is make a summer bucket list. So of course, y'all know I just had to jump on that bandwagon! I mean, hello? Summer is my absolute favorite season. (Thanks Florida for basically an 8-month summer!) And obviously I'm a sucker for a good list or two, or three, or forty-five... And so the two together? Summer and a list? I just had to! And now without any further ado or rambling, I introduce you to my...

2013 Summer Bucket List!

1. Go tubing at Bear Paw
2. Go to a country concert - preferably outdoors!
3. Visit a new beach in Florida with Jeff
4. Buy fruits and veggies from the farmer's market
5. Go antique shopping and to the flea market
6. Ride 75 miles on my bike
7. Go on a picnic in a park
8. Complete another thing from my 30 Before 30 list
9. Eat at 3 new restaurants that have outdoor seating
10. Clean out under my bed
11. Actually start training for the 5K, with the C25K app
12. Find a place for Jeff and I to live! (and move in!)
13. Clean out under my bathroom sink
14. Take the boys to a water park
15. Plan, decorate & cook for family dinner one week
16. Keep learning the ukulele
17. Create a giant pot of succulents (once in my new house)
18. Purge & donate some of my clothes and shoes
19. Complete a 1,000 piece puzzle
20. Do some more Pinterest crafts
21. Make a really awesome summer playlist
22. Try Geo-Caching, finally!
23. Make something cute for Megan and Bo's new house
24. Build a sandcastle at the beach with the boys

The "time-frame" for this will officially be starting this weekend, for Memorial Day Weekend. And even though summer is usually considered to be over by Labor Day, I'm extending this through the end of September, because summer weather in Florida can really last through Thanksgiving sometimes... So I might as well take advantage of that. So I'm starting this weekend, and I'll get to cross things off all the way through September!

Between all of these activities and things to do, and also planning a wedding for October, we're sure going to be super busy! But I'm just excited about going out and doing more things! Life is so much more fun when you make a real effort to do fun things and enjoy your time. So that's exactly what I plan on doing over the next few months :)

Did you make a summer bucket list? Do you want to? I think we all should! Doesn't it just sound like so much fun?!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Peek of the Ceremony

Obviously I wasn't taking any pictures of my own during the ceremony, so I only have a couple that I was able to swipe from a couple other people. The majority of these come from our friend Allison, who is also the mama to the precious flower girl and adorable ring bearer. And then a good amount also come from my sweet fiance who set up some video cameras (unbeknownst to us!) and was taking pictures! Glad I was able to gather up at least a few shots of the ceremony while we wait for all the professional pictures to come!

If you missed the last few recaps, you can see them here: bridesmaids luncheon, rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, and getting ready the morning of the wedding.

Look to the left, behind the white wall, and you can see us singing, while they do the sand ceremony on the right!

I'll be so excited to see more of these once the photographer sends them all back to Meg! Tomorrow will be the last recap with a few shots of the reception. (Unless of course we ever find Megan's camera, then I'll eventually show you some bachelorette party pictures too! Fingers still crossed for that one...)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pampering the Bride

Saturday morning, the day of my baby sister's wedding, we grabbed all our bags of clothes and cosmetics and extras, and headed out. We stopped for some coffee of course, and made it to the church by 9 a.m. Megan had asked Kaley (her brother-in-law's girlfriend) to do her hair, and so she arrived early too. After the tears had dried from reading letters from Bo, my mama, and myself, I did her wedding makeup for her! Which ended up looking great, if I do say so myself! She was definitely getting pampered by all of us, and getting waited on hand and foot! Can't wait for that to be my turn ;)

Then all the other girls started arriving, and we all helped each other with everyone's hair and makeup. We played music and laughed and had a good time! And then we finally got Megan in her dress, and us in ours, and we set off to have the bride and bridesmaids photo shoot!

We had a good time taking all the photos before-hand, and I just can't wait to see how the professional ones from the photographer turn out! Unfortunately we have to wait about a month or two, so that stinks, but we'll be so excited once they are finally ready! And tomorrow will be a tiny sneak peak at the ceremony, with just the few pictures I was able to swipe of that :)