Spring teaser

Ok, how beautiful is this weather?!  I’m loving it.  It’s 72 degrees here in Birmingham, and you can tell everyone is enjoying it.  The park was full of kids and familys out throwing a frisbee and having picnics in the grass. I’ve seen probably 50 walkers/joggers/runners passing by my front window all afternoon.  The windows have been open and my pup Lily was loving laying out in the sunshine. After lunch I took a stroll around the neighborhood with my sweetie and our dogs.  It’s perfect weather.

It was also a perfect morning for taking a trip to Odenville, AL to see the church and house for our wedding ceremony and reception. It’s about a 30 minute drive, but I think it’s worth it.  I had seen the locations before, but I wanted to take Greg out and get his opinions. Luckily, I think he agrees with me, and we both like it. And the house down the street has space indoors and out for what we’re hoping will be a great fall wedding reception. And, there’s a tiny little barn out back!

Here’s a peek at the church… 

Adorable, huh?
Alright, well unfortunately I have to work tonight, which means I have to take a nap.  But I just wanna go outside and play!!  Hopefully another warm day will come soon 🙂

a honeymoon STEAL

Remember when I said we got a GREAT deal on our honeymoon?  Did I mention that it’s the first (and only) thing we have booked so far?  That’s right. We haven’t even booked our location yet, which is why I’ve been hesitant to say what our official wedding date is.  But the honeymoon is booked.  It was too good a deal to pass up.  Thanks to my wonderful future in-laws (who found out about it), we will be staying in a condo at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas!!  Greg is SUPER excited, because he’s been there before and knows how awesome it is, and of course I’m excited because I’ve never been.  Check it out…

Here’s the entire Atlantis property. Those colorful condos to the top left of the pic is where we’ll be staying.
How adorable are those condos!?
Ok, so I doubt our room will have a balcony like that, but still.  What an awesome view!  And, can I tell you how excited I am about all the aquariums!!! I LOVE aquariums. And there are tons of water slides, lazy rivers, beaches, shopping, restaurants… it’s going to be amazing!

lately…

Boy, wedding planning has hit me like a brick.  One of the most important aspects of the wedding (in my opinion) is the photography.  Besides the location, finding the right photographer as been extremely frustrating, to say the least.  I fell in love with a group based out of Huntsville, but they unfortunately aren’t available on the day we’ve chosen.  Although we haven’t officially set the date, seeing as how we haven’t booked with any vendors yet, we’re leaning very strongly towards one.  We’re meeting with a church and historic house next weekend for the ceremony and reception sites.  All week I’ve been looking ALL OVER to internet for photographers that A) have the style that I like, which is hard to explain, but I know it when I see it; B) are available when we need them, and C) are in our price budget.  It has been quite a headache for me.  Poor Greg has put up with a lot of tears lately cause I just can’t seem to get everyone and everything coordinated.  I’m sure he thinks I’m crazy, but I keep assuring him that I won’t be like this through the entire process.  I’m waaay less picky when it comes to flowers, colors, dresses, etc., etc.  But, when the photographs are all you have to look at to remind you of that wonderful day (besides my amazing husband), they’re kinda important.

We’re getting closer, I hope.  And hey, yesterday we booked our honeymoon!!  Uh, yeah.  We got a REEEEALLY great deal.  I’ll tell you all about that later.  🙂

Alright, gotta run. Spending my Friday night with some premie babies 🙂

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Before I begin this post, I want to give a little shout-out to another blog I contribute to.  It’s called The Wooden Spoon.  There are 6 young ladies who contribute (myself included), and you’ll mostly find recipes, but there are also some crafts included.  One of my favorites is a post I wrote on how to create personalized magnets. You can find that one here.  Ok, on to the chicken cordon bleu…

I’ve made this recipe twice, and the first time it seemed really complicated, but this second time it was pretty quick and easy. I’d say it took about 15-20 mins prep time, and then it bakes for about 30 mins. And you really don’t have to bother with any measurements. I combined a few different recipes and tips to come up with this final version, so I’m sorry if it seems a bit disorganized. Here it is…

Oh, and before you begin, you’ll want to invest in one of these… (I tried using just a regular hammer the first time, and it didn’t work so well)

Serves: 2
Ingredients:
– 1 to 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (the first time I used a whole chicken breast for each one, and they were huge! This time I cut one breast in half, and they were definitely smaller, but when you add some side items to the meal it was enough to fill us up.)
– 1 egg white
– salt
– pepper
– bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned)
– Paprika
– Mozzarella cheese, sliced
– ham, sliced
-1 Tablespoon butter

Ingredients for the cream sauce on top:
– 1/2 can cream of chicken soup
– approx. 1/ 8 cups sour cream
– 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Beat the chicken breast with a meat tenderizer to approx. 1/4 inch thickness.
3. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.  Dip chicken breasts in egg whites, and then sprinkle both sides with bread crumbs and paprika. Make sure to cover all surfaces of the chicken breast with bread crumbs.
4. Place 1 slice of mozzarella cheese and 1 slice of ham on each chicken breast.
5. Roll up the chicken breast and secure with toothpicks. Place 1/2 tablespoon of butter on top of each breast.
6. Place in baking dish and bake at 400 degrees for 25 mins.
7. Remove from oven and add about a 1/4 slice of cheese on top and return to oven for approx 5 mins until melted.
8. Serve with cream sauce on top.

Before:

After:




Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

Here is the recipe I mentioned yesterday.  It was delicious.  Thank you husband-to-be  🙂

The original recipe can be found here:  Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo  It serves 8. The version typed below is for 4.  Use the calculator on the website to adjust it to however much you need.

Ingredients:

  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (cut into cubes)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, divided in half
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 pound fettuccini pasta
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 (8 ounce) package sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour  (this measurement is weird when you cut the recipe in half)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (another weird measurement)
  • 1/4 pound shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1-1/2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat combine chicken, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon garlic, and Italian seasoning. Cook until chicken is no longer pink inside. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for until al dente; drain.
  3. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in the skillet. Saute the onion, 1 tablespoons garlic and mushrooms until onions are transparent. Stir in flour, salt and pepper; cook approx. 2 minutes. Slowly add milk and half-and-half, stirring until smooth and creamy. Stir in Parmesan and Colby-Monterey Jack cheeses; stir until cheese is melted. Stir in chicken mixture, tomatoes and sour cream. Serve over cooked fettuccini.

And here’s the finished product one more time…

birthday dinner

In the excitement of our trip to Disney World and posting our engagement story, I realized I never posted about the birthday dinner my boyfriend  fiance` cooked for me last week!  I knew we would be going out to dinner a lot in Disney, so for my birthday I asked him if he would cook me dinner instead.  I requested chicken fettuccine alfredo, which is one of my favorite meals.  Man, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it right now. haha

So, being the wonderful person that he is, he came over with an elaborate recipe he had found and cooked me dinner while I “attempted” to pack for Disney.  I will type up the recipe tomorrow for you all, because it’s a good one. It was so creamy and full of flavor.  I was so proud of him, cause he had never cooked alfredo from scratch before. But, boy, did he do a good job!  Take a look…

Then my sweet roommate baked me a chocolate cake, and they sang happy birthday to me. It was nice just celebrating with a quiet night at home with two of my favorite people.  I think 25 is going to be a great year 🙂

a magic weekend

Wow, a LOT has happened in 1 week.  Since turning 25, I went to Disney World, got engaged, watched a marathon and had a wonderful time with my family and some friends.  We’ve been planning a trip to Disney World for several months to go see my sister’s fiance and his friend run the Disney Marathon.  Since we all love Disney so much, we decided to make a family trip of it (along with some friends and significant others!).  So, last Friday morning we boarded a plane to Orlando and began our Disney vacation.  We stayed at the All-Stars Sports hotel, and first thing Saturday morning we began our day in the Magic Kingdom.  We made our way through Space Mountain, Snow White’s ride, Peter Pan, and the 3D Philarmagic show.

Then some of our group wanted to go “take some pics in front of the castle.”  So we casually made our way around to the castle, stopping to take pics on a bridge facing the side of the castle.  Greg kept wandering towards the front of the castle so I just followed him and figured the rest of the group would catch up.  There was a show going on at the castle, so we got to a spot and stopped and I started taking pics of the characters up on stage.  Greg casually reached into his bag and says, “oh, I forgot to give you your bday card the other day,” So I took the card and started reading it (not thinking anything out of the ordinary). I opened it up and it read “the top 10 reasons why you should say ‘yes’.”  Me (still oblivious) did not catch on to anything at this point.  Some of the reasons were “because you are my best friend,”  “because we still haven’t played bridge at the senior center” (which is in reference to the very first text message Greg ever sent me that was the top 10 reasons why I need your phone number…one of those being, ‘to go play bridge at the senior center’), “because I can’t imagine my life without you,” etc.   I got about halfway through the list and then noticed Greg was down on one knee in front of me with a ring box.  I was in TOTAL shock.  I had NO IDEA he had planned this for months. He actually picked out the ring 2 months ago!  It took me a few seconds to register what was happening around me, but of course, I said “YES!”  He is the sweetest, most caring person I know. He would do anything for me, and I couldn’t ask for a better husband-to-be!  He’s completely opposite of me. I’m quiet and shy, and he’s outgoing and funny.  But we compliment each other well, and I’m so excited for what’s ahead.

The remainder of the trip was spent hopping from park to park. Sunday we watched the marathon. Unfortunately, my future brother-in-law tore his iliotibial band a week before the race.  The IT band runs from the top of the femur down to the knee, and when he ran it cause him severe pain.  But he was determined with everything he had to finish the race.  However, he had to stop at the halfway point (13 miles), because he simply could not go on.  He told us the pain set in at 0.4 miles, but he pushed on to 13 miles then pulled out of the race.  I’m so proud of him. That guy has more determination than anyone I’ve met.  When he sets his mind to something, he will do whatever it takes to make it happen. He would have walked the entire remainder of the marathon had there not been a maximum 16-minute pace. He couldn’t bend his knee at the point when he stopped, and walked with a slight limp the remainder of the trip, but luckily he was able to get around and still enjoy the parks.  And, we’ll be back next year so he can hopefully run the marathon then.

There’s so much more I could write about, but I think I’ll let the pictures (and video) do the talking.  It’s been a wonderful kick-off to 2011. I couldn’t be happier!   🙂

Updates

Disney trip and engagement story coming soon…..I promise!!!   Check back tomorrow  🙂

Epiphany

Today is January 6th.  It is my birthday 🙂  And it is also Epiphany.  I’ve always known my birthday was on Epiphany (a religious holiday), but honestly never really knew what that holiday was about.  Since the churches I’ve grown up in have never put any emphasis on Epiphany I’ve always assumed maybe it was a holiday more celebrated by Catholics or other religions I know little about. So, I decided today, at 25 years old, I’d do a little research and figure out what this Epiphany day is all about, seeing as how it is special to me too.  What I discovered has been a joy, and I’m even more excited about having this birthday. 

The dictionary has several definitions of the word Epiphany. It defines it as “a sudden, intuitive insight into the reality or essential meaning of something,”  and also “an appearance or manifestation, especially of a diety.” The latter definition hits it with the reference to diety, because in religious references, Epiphany is celebrated to commemorate the presentation of the infant Jesus to the Magi.  According to one source, the celebration of Epiphany began in the early Eastern church and actually included the birth of Christ. Meaning they chose Jan 6th as their Christmas day.  A few centuries later the official date to commemorate Jesus’ birth was moved to December 25, and in some religions Christmastime is celebrated as the time between December 25 and Jan 6….wait for it….do the math…..the 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS!  Ah, it’s all starting to make sense now, huh?  🙂   Apparently the Armenians still choose to celebrate Christmas on Jan 6th.

I’m so glad I decided to actually learn what Epiphany means, instead of just saying “oh yeah, it’s a religious holiday” without ever really understanding.  And, I really wish my churches growing up had taught about this, because it’s such a great addition to our Christmas story.  So, in celebration of my birthday and our Lords birthday….happy Epiphany day everyone!!! 

Welcome 2011

Happy New Year! (just slightly delayed)  I just finished working 3 in a row, and I’ve been wanting to write a new post since we got back in town from our new years weekend away. But, every morning after work I’ve crawled into bed, turned on my computer and before it can finish loading, I’m out.  So, this is my 5-days-late New Years post.

 We (my sweetie and I) had a great new years. We decided to get away and visit a friend of his and his girlfriend in the quiet town of Mentone, AL.  How adorable is Mentone!  I’ve actually been before with roomie for a day trip, but never overnight.  Basically there are about 4-5 little artsy-crafty shops, a huge antique shop, the Mentone Inn, and the Wildflower Cafe.  That’s about the extent of downtown Mentone.  But we had a great time in a cozy little house on the river up in the mountains, watching lots of football, shooting fireworks, and we had a delicious New Years Eve dinner at the Canyon Grill. Sooo good!  And I think my favorite part was how relaxed the whole weekend was. We were out of range of any cellphone towers or wireless connections, so we really were able to just hang out and enjoy each other’s company.  It was perfect, and just the getaway we needed.

And this weekend we have another awesome vacation planned. We’ll be heading down to Orlando for the Disney Marathon, which is actually run through each Disney World park.  I (obviously) will not be running, but about 12 of us are going to cheer on my sister’s fiance’ and one of his good friends who will be running the race.  All 26 miles of it.  I would die. I cannot even fathom running 26 miles.  I don’t know if you are like me but my concept of distance is pretty much non-existent.  I have no idea if 100 miles means from Birmingham to Huntsville or to Nashville.  So, to wrap my head around 26 miles, I decided to look up an example.  It would be the equivalent of running from the Birmingham airport to Oak Mountain state park. Wow.  Like I said, I would die.  This is why I will be standing to the side proudly cheering for our friends, but bundled up warm in my coat like the wimp that I am. haha.  And then skipping my merry little self like a 6 year old to all my favorite rides.  Our family LOVES DisneyWorld. I. CAN’T. WAIT!   So I’ll leave you with a few pics from last year’s Disney trip (and no, we don’t go every year. Seriously.)