Oreo Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

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When I was in high school, John Mayer came out with a song called Stop the Train. It wasn’t a hit single, and I doubt it ever played on the radio, but it is still a song that I relate to even now. It touches upon the fear of growing older and drifting further and further into the unknown of the future. I’ve had quite a few moments that I quietly dubbed “stop this train” moments. Times in life that are so wonderfully perfect that you wish you could hold onto them…but in the back of your mind, you know they can’t last. And that might be a bit sad, but the fleeting property of those moments is what makes them so sweet. The first time I ever experienced a “stop this train” moment was only a few months after I had first heard that song. It was the summer before college. The summer I had spent every waking moment with three of my best friends. I remember sitting in the car with the three of them, days before we were to head our separate ways in college, and just wishing I could hit the “pause” button and stay in that period of my life forever. Young, naive, and surrounded by those three kindred spirits. But time went on, and life happened. Two of those wonderful friends now live across the country and we only get to see each other a few perfect times a year. And sadly, I lost touch with the third friend years ago. But I like to think that our friendship, with all four of us together, lives on in that perfect memory. And as life continues to move forward, I’ve experienced more and more “stop this train” moments. Late night conversations while eating Ore Ida french fries with my best friends from college. The last Christmas my family had with my Grandpa. Countless moments from our wedding day, when Eric and I were surrounded by every person that we love. Moments like that don’t happen often. And as much as we long to hang on to them as long as we can, they pass quickly. But that’s ok. Because if every moment in life was a “stop this train” moment, those special memories wouldn’t be as special, perfectly preserved in the backs of our minds.

This post doesn’t perfectly tie in with one of my recent recipes. It’s just a collection of thoughts that came to me while baking cookies. Oreo Peanut Butter Chip Cookies to be exact. My coworkers had pointed out that it had been quite a while since I brought baked goods into the office, so I knew I couldn’t come into work on Monday empty handed. This recipe uses a classic chocolate chip cookie base, but has an extra sweetness with the addition of crushed Oreos and peanut butter chips. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes 24 cookies

  • 1  1/4 cup  packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/2  cup  butter, softened
  • 2  large egg whites
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 6-8 crushed Oreo cookies
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter chips

Preparation:

  1. Cream butter & sugars together
  2. Add egg whites (one at a time) & vanilla extract
  3. In separate bowl, combine flour and baking soda
  4. Gradually combine wet & dry ingredients
  5. Add in crushed Oreos and peanut butter chips
  6. Place tablespoon sized portions of the dough on a greased cookie sheet.  (Make sure the dough is evenly spaced, as the cookies do spread a bit while baking)
  7. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes

 

 

Asian Chicken Stir Fry

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Sometimes I feel like no matter what age we are, we are always looking forward. As children, we look forward to that mysterious land of “high school,” where you can drive a car, stay out late, and presumably have the exact same social life as the cast members of Saved by the Bell. As teenagers, we look forward to “college” where curfews don’t exist and we possess that coveted “independence” we always longed for. And as adults, you’re always thinking of the next phase…marriage, buying a house, having kids, advancing your careers, and finally…retirement. It’s hard to “enjoy the moment” when we are constantly looking forward. The funny thing about me is, I never seemed to look forward to the same periods of life as my peers. As a child, I don’t remember longing for high school or college like most of my friends did. Instead, I always remember thinking that the first few years of marriage would be the happiest time in my life. This is undoubtedly a strange thing for a 13 year old to think…but oddly enough, the current time in my life is something I always looked forward to. But this current phase didn’t quite pan out exactly the way 13 year old me thought it would. Because, believe it or not… it is way better. I’m happier right now than I ever thought was possible. Because coming home to my very best friend every night is truly the best. So rather than spending my time over planning for the future..I’m focusing on enjoying this incredible, wonderful season of life. And one of my favorite things about this phase in life is cooking simple dinners at home. As much as Eric would be perfectly happy eating grilled chicken or pizza every night, I love coming up with different  ideas to mix up our weekday dinners. And this was a recent creation that turned out to be quite the hit. It’s very simple to make, and far cheaper and healthier than hitting up the Chinese takeout place down the street. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients: Makes 2 servings

  • 2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups frozen vegetables (I used a “stir fry blend” of broccoli, carrots, green beans & cauliflower)
  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked
  • 3-4 tablespoons sunflower seeds

Preparation:

  1. Place raw chicken breasts (thinly sliced) into a large ziploc bag, and cover with next four ingredients (soy sauce through olive oil). Let marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes
  2. Heat a large sauce pan over medium high heat
  3. After chicken has marinated, pour entire contents of the bag into the saucepan.
  4. Cook until chicken has cooked through, and add frozen vegetables
  5. Continue to stir until vegetables are heated through
  6. To serve, place cooked brown rice on a plate, and top with chicken stir fry mixture. Top with sunflower seeds

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Wedding Recap: The Details

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For a few years, I worked as a Wedding & Events Manager so I ended up picking up a few ideas along the way. Through the many weddings I worked on, I quietly collected a few ideas for when my own big day came along. But from the moment that Eric and I knew that marriage was in our future, I knew that Michigan State would have to play a big role in our wedding day. We met and fell in love on the beautiful campus of our alma mater, so we knew we wanted to have a little MSU element to the big day. We picked green and white as our colors, and carried that theme throughout the day.

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Another element we tied in was the monogram J that was featured on our programs, menus and hotel welcome bags. I downloaded the monogram on WeddingPaperDivas.com and added it to all of our paper items.

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Whenever I attend weddings, I love it when the menu for the dinner is placed on the table. As a food lover, it is always fun to read about the meal ahead. For our meal, we served:

Tuscan salad with mixed greens, tomato, green pepper, cucumber, garbanzo beans, &  hard boiled egg, drizzled with vinaigrette and served with warm rolls and sweet butter

Parmesan crusted halibut with Dijon mustard, crusted with parmesan, herbs and crispy fried onions, paired with a Prime Filet Mignon topped with a mushroom sauce, served with whipped potatoes and roasted vegetables

For our escort cards, we had a small white box for each guest with their name, table number, and the corresponding MSU landmark that we had designated for each table. The boxes were filled with Reese’s peanut butter cups and tied with a green ribbon

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On our tables, we had centerpieces of white hydrangeas and green mums, and had a gold framed picture of an MSU landmark.

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I also found these cute “Bride” and “Groom” print outs on Wedding Paper Divas, and I thought they added a cute touch to Eric and my chairs

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And our final touch were the welcome bags that we had for each of our guests that stayed overnight at the hotel. In the bags, we included a green Jones soda, some homemade green & white chocolate covered pretzels, green & white mints, and Bettermade potato chips, which are a Detroit Classic. My mom even created the personalized labels which had our names and wedding date.

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And with that, my “wedding recaps” have come to an end. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed sharing them!

BBQ Pulled Chicken Paninis with Beer Braised Onions

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As much as I love to cook, I don’t like to spend hours in the kitchen on week nights. After a long day of work, I am all about simple and healthy dinners that I can whip together quickly so that Eric and I can enjoy the rest of our evening together. One of my favorite ways to accomplish this is to do a few simple meal preps on Sunday afternoons. I typically cut up vegetables for lunches, wash and prep lettuce for salads, and throw a few chicken breasts in the slow cooker to use for easy dinners throughout the week. I’ve shared my recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar wraps, and here is yet another easy dinner recipe that comes together in a flash. I always know I’ve stumbled upon a good recipe when Eric says “we’ve gotta add this recipe into the rotation.”  These paninis are full of flavor and made my beer and barbeque loving husband very happy.

Ingredients: Makes 2 sandwiches

  • half of a medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Amber Ale (or your favorite brew)
  • 1 cup pulled chicken (recipe here)
  • 1/2 cup barbeque sauce
  • 2 slices swiss cheese
  • 2 slices bread

Preparation:

  1. Heat a medium sauce pan over medium high heat
  2. Place thinly sliced onions and beer into the pan, and cook until the liquid has evaporated and the onions become soft and tender; set aside
  3. Place pulled chicken and your favorite barbeque sauce into a small bowl and mix until well combined
  4. To assemble sandwiches, place pulled chicken on a slice of bread, top with sauteed onions, and 1 slice swiss cheese. Top with a second slice of bread
  5. Place each sandwich on a lightly greased grill, and cook until each side has lightly browned and the cheese has melted

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LA and San Diego

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This past week, my company sent me out to Los Angeles and San Diego to visit some of our top clients. And lucky for me, my husband agreed to tag along! I had some free time on the weekends and the evenings, so we got to see quite a bit of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Burbank, Hollywood and San Diego. It was definitely a whirlwind of a week!

Last Saturday, we started off our day in Los Angeles with

a quick trip to In ‘n’ Out. Eric had been to LA a few months ago to see Michigan State win the Rose Bowl, and he came home raving about In ‘n’ Out. I’m not a big fast food person, so I’ll be honest…I wasn’t expecting much. But oh my goodness, is In’ n’ Out delicious. Their burgers and fries are made fresh for every order and you can definitely tell. I honestly think this was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Well done, west coast!

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Since we arrived on a Saturday, we had a day and a half to explore the touristy parts of LA before I had any work appointments. We started our Sunday morning with a visit to Griffith Observatory, where we had some incredible views of the city.

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Next we hit up Hollywood to see the “walk of fame.” I had to snap a pick of Barbra’s star for my mom, as we share a love of Funny Girl.

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Later we strolled around Beverly Hills and were far too intimidated by the high end stores to go inside, but window shopping was fun nonetheless!

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We then wandered through the Beverly Hills hotel, which was like a time capsule of the 1950s. The whole hotel just oozed old Hollywood glamour. I’d love to stay over night some day, but for now I will stick with my cheap Hilton employee rates!

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The best thing about the trip, was getting to see some of my best friends from home. Lo moved out here 3 years ago, and it was wonderful to see her and spend a little time in her new city.

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We even got to see her band, LoJo and the Truth, perform live. They are incredibly talented and it was such a great show

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After the show, we spent the evening with Lo and our friend Jon. Lo, Jon and I met in high school, and though we didn’t know each other during childhood, I still feel like we “grew up together.” We got each other through the angsty high school years, the first broken hearts, the transition to college, and later the transition into adulthood. We often go a long time between visits, but as soon as we’re together, we’re able to pick up right where we left off. Prior to this trip, I had had a rough week at work, and was just generally feeling a little down. But being back together with two of my closest friends left my heart feeling full and my mind feeling refreshed. Sometimes a quick visit with friends is all you need.

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After four days in the Los Angeles area, we were off to San Diego for my last round of appointments.

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San Diego is one of the coolest cities I have ever visited. The weather is absolutely perfect (and apparently stays this way year around) and the views of the ocean are stunning. We only had a day and a half to explore, but we quickly decided that we would love to come back. Our hotel was situated right near San Diego’s Gaslamp District, which is a fun downtown area filled with restaurants, shops and bars. We had a great time strolling around, people watching, and enjoying the weather.

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Before we knew it, it was already time to go home. It was such a fun trip, and we hope to visit again to explore the west coast a bit more. But for now, I will leave you with a few “food pics” of our LA/San Diego Eats.

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Fonuts featured baked or steamed vegan donuts. My favorite was the Strawberry Buttermilk. Delish!

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Housemade veggie burger and sweet potato fries from Lab Brewery. This baby was topped with caramelized onions and tasted way more decadent than any veggie burger I’ve ever had.

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Eric’s BBQ bacon burger from barleymash in San Diego. #typicalboyfood

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Kale salad with quinoa, goat cheese, grilled chicken and peaches from barleymash. This was SO good and I am dying to recreate it at home.

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Veggie and hummus sandwich from Joan’s on Third. I heard about Joan’s on the Food Network and was so glad we stopped by. Everything was so fresh and delicious.

Wedding Recap: The Reception

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After the ceremony, we had a few hours before our reception was set to begin. We used this time to take a bunch of fun pictures all around Downtown Detroit with our bridal party. Eric says this was one of his favorite parts of the day because it was so relaxed, and we just got to hang out with our best friends.

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After our picture extravaganza, we made our way to the Colony Club. We only looked at a few venues when we were wedding planning, but I could not have been happier with what we chose. The Colony Club has such an elegant, vintage feel to it and it made for an absolutely beautiful reception. We arrived as our cocktail hour was ending, so our Banquet Manager led us up to the two private “Bride” and “Groom” suites to enjoy some hors d’ouerves and champagne before we joined our guests. As I mentioned before, this was one of my favorite parts of the night. It was so nice to just spend a little extra time with my four best friends before all of the excitement of the reception began.

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Before we knew it, it was time to be announced as “Mr. and Mrs. Jones.” We had our band play Thunderstruck by ACDC as an homage to Michigan State Football, as this song is blasted through Spartan Stadium at the start of each game. Eric and I then cut our delicious cake. We had four different flavors scattered throughout the tiers: white cake with strawberry mouse, yellow cake with chocolate mousse, chocolate cake with white chocolate mousse, and my favorite: chocolate cake with peanut butter mousse

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Sadly, this was the only bite of cake I had all night! Having good food was Eric and my number one decision when picking a wedding venue, but oddly enough, the food was the last thing I thought about all day. We ate as much of our dinner as we could, but we were far too excited to really sit down and eat our whole meal. But from what I can remember, our duo plate of filet and parmesan crusted halibut was delicious!

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Eric’s brother, Mike gave a great Best Man speech, and LT gave the sweetest Maid of Honor toast that made us laugh and cry. She shared memories of our days playing dress up and watching Say Yes to the Dress, and how we have kind of been planning this wedding since day one. LT has been by my side for as long as I can remember and it was so wonderful to hear her share our memories of growing up and how it all led to meeting my groom. She is the sweetest, best friend a girl could have.

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Soon it was time for our first dance. I have been a huge music lover my entire life, and I always loved dissecting song lyrics and finding ones that fit specific moments in my life. So one of the nicest parts of wedding planning, was picking a first dance song that fit us perfectly. When we first met, we bonded over our mutual love of Frank Sinatra, so we knew one of Old Blue Eyes’ songs was a must. We listened to all of our old favorites, but when we stumbled upon an old version of “It Had to be You”, we knew we had found the one. Eric and I both didn’t date too much before we met each other. In fact, neither of us had dated anyone for more than a couple of months before we met. I like to think that we just didn’t fit with anyone but each other. Thus, “It had to be you” has become our song.

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Next, I had a special dance with my dad. My dad owns every single Jimmy Buffett album and made sure that my brother and I grew up as loyal Parrotheads. And though Jimmy Buffett is known for “Margaritaville” and “Fins,” he has some beautiful ballads as well. One of which is called Delaney talks to Statues. When I was 12 or 13 I remember going through a tough time with the common woes of middle school. To cheer me up, my dad wrote the lyrics of this song in a letter to me, and it is still something I cherish today. It surprised me how much a song that Jimmy Buffett wrote for his daughter could sound like my own dad had written it just for me. It has always been really special to my dad and I, so of course we had to use it for our dance. We danced and sang every word of our song, which made it one of my most vivid memories from our wedding day.

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Next, Eric danced with his Mom to “In My Life” by the Beatles. Eric and his mom have always been very close, and it was so nice to watch them share a special moment together. It is so easy to see that many of the wonderful qualities that make Eric who he is came right from his mom. You can’t help but love these two.

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After all of the official wedding activities were done, it was time to dance! We saw our band, Skyline and the Backstreet Horns, at a friend’s wedding and knew we wanted to have them at ours. They played a great mix of contemporary songs, Motown hits, and beautiful slow songs. And my mom and Eric were absolutely thrilled that they played their favorite song “Happy.” These two love this song so much and have deemed it “their song.” So cute! Everyone was up dancing late into the night, which was absolutely perfect.

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And with that, our wonderful wedding day came to a close. It was so full of amazing memories and fun and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.

Wedding Recap: Our Ceremony

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Shortly after Eric and I got engaged, we decided to get married at St. Paul Catholic Church. I went to grade school at St. Paul Catholic School, and spent hours of my childhood in that beautiful church.It was the church I was baptized in, had my first communion and confirmation, and even had my 8th grade graduation. It was really important to me to get married there, and Eric was sweet enough to be on board with the idea. But in order to assure that both of our faiths were represented, we had Eric’s close family friend and pastor co-officiate the ceremony. It was perfect. Eric and I are pretty traditional and chose to not see each other before I walked down the aisle. It made me even more anxious to get out there and see my groom!

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Since the boys were already at the church, our limo went back to my parents’ house to pick me and my bridesmaids up. We saw the boys on the side of the church as we pulled up, but we were safely hidden inside. It was so fun to sit with my girlfriends and watch all of our guests arrive right before our ceremony was set to begin. Soon enough my Auntie Karol, who was helping pass out programs, came to get me and my bridesmaids and bring us into the church. I waited in the back of the church with my best girlfriends, my parents and Eric’s parents as the organist began to play the processional songs. I waited as Eric’s parents, my mom and then my bridesmaids, each went down the aisle one by one.

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And then Canon in D began to play, and I knew it was our cue.

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My dad and I have always been close so I had both looked forward to and dreaded this moment for as long as I can remember. I knew walking down the aisle arm and arm with my Pa would be incredibly emotional, and it definitely was. But as soon as I caught a glimpse of Eric, any nervousness I had vanished. I had known I was going to marry Eric only a few short weeks after meeting him nearly 5 years ago, yet it was hard to believe that that moment was already here.

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We reached the front of the aisle and my dad, Eric and I had a special moment to ourselves before my dad kissed us both and sent us the rest of the way down the aisle.

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Eric and I sat on the alter with Eric’s Best Man and brother Mike, and my Maid of Honor, LT. And then my cousins Lauren and Meghan  and Eric’s cousin, Katie read the scripture passages we chose for the ceremony. We were also lucky enough to have my cousin Kristen as our soloist for the ceremony. Kristen has sung at a number of weddings and was absolutely incredible with planning the music and singing for our entire ceremony.

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After the readings were done, Pastor Paul preached a beautiful sermon. And then the Deacon called us up to the alter as he blessed our wedding rings. It was then time for our vows.

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We chose to say the traditional wedding vows, because we both felt there was something really special about repeating the same wedding vows that our parents, grandparents and so many other couples that we look up to said at their own weddings. After we exchanged our rings, it was time for our first kiss as Mr. and Mrs. Jones.

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We then turned to face our family and friends sitting in the church and I was overwhelmed by all of the love in the room. It was wonderful to see all the people we loved sitting together in front of us, cheering us on. We then went down to the pews to hug our families as all three of my cousins sang “How Beautiful” from the choir loft.

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I vaguely remember giving my mom, dad and Grandma a hug, but one of my clearest memories from the day is when I made my way over to my brother. Sean is the type of older brother that every girls wants.  He is protective, caring and incredibly supportive. He has taught me so many things over the years and absolutely always has my back. And on my wedding day, just like every other day, he was my Best Man. We gave each other a long hug in that pew, and managed to squeeze out a quick “love you” before it was time for the final part of the ceremony. The Deacon and Pastor Paul officially announced us as Mr. and Mrs. Jones!

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Wedding Recap: Getting Ready

April 26th, 2014 was without a doubt, one of the best days of my life. I married the love of my life surrounded by family and friends. It can’t get much better than that! So in an effort to keep the memories from that day fresh, I thought I would share them here. I hope you all don’t mind a short break from the recipes, but I promise that the next few posts will be just as sweet!

I woke up bright and early that day because I was just too excited to sleep. My mom and I had hair appointments at 8:00am, but since we were both too excited to sleep, we had the chance to sit and chat over a cup of coffee. I loved that we could just sit and sip our coffee together and discuss the excitement that was to come. It was the perfect start to the day. I had my hair and makeup done, and eventually, my beautiful Maid of Honor LT, joined us at the salon to get her own hair done. The three of us then went back home to my parents house, and my other bridesmaids began to arrive.

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I was so lucky to be surrounded by my 4 best friends in the world. These girls all entered my life at different times, but they all are more like sisters than friends. LT, Annie, Lo and Leona are the best friends a girl could ask for and it meant so much to have them by my side for such a special day.

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I gave each of the girls a champagne glass with their initial, as we had to have a little something special to drink our mimosas from. We chatted and drank our mimosas as the photographers arrived.

Before I knew it, it was time to get into the dress! I had tried on 10 or 15 other dresses before I found the right one. It wasn’t anything like what I had initially looked for, but it was the first dress that I really felt like myself in, so I knew it was “the one.”

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For my shoes, I bought some satin peep toe wedges. But the finishing touch was a pair of emerald green clip on earrings that my mom found at an estate sale.

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My mom, LT and Annie had all accompanied me to my dress fittings and had watched the dress shop owner lace up the somewhat elaborate back.

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However, they couldn’t quite seem to get the ribbons to lay flat. So, as I mentioned before, my boys had to step in.

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I may be the only bride in history whose dad and brother got her into her wedding dress, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was such a funny moment, and something I will always remember. After I was ready, we took some family photos. It was important to me to take these pictures at my parents house, because I loved the idea of having pictures taken where we had had so many family Christmases, birthdays, and Monday night dinners. It was, and always will be “home.”

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My brother and I

 

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Our little foursome

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Me and my Pa

 

 

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My mom and I

 

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Next, LT and I took some pictures outside of our houses. We spent most of our early days running back and fourth between our two houses, and always joked that we spent more time in the middle of the street than at either of our houses. We even have a few pictures from grade school in our dress up clothes of old bridesmaid dresses, so it only seemed fitting to have a few pictures taken in the same setting, along with LT’s little sister Marybeth.

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LT, Marybeth and I

Meanwhile, the boys were already at the church taking a few photos of their own.

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Soon enough it was 2:30 and it was time to get married!

 

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

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It always seems like summer is completely filled to the brim with fun events and outings. Whether it’s a quick vacation or local festival, I have something planned nearly every weekend through the end of August. But as much fun as beer festivals, vacations Up North and constant dinners with friends are, the summer habit of eating out more often has left me feeling a little less than healthy. So to make up for our weekend fun, I’ve been trying to eat as healthfully as possible during the week days. I find it gives me a lot more energy, and stops the awful stomach-aches I often get from too many meals away from home. But even in a healthy diet, I think it’s important to leave room for dessert. And it just so happens that I found a recipe that is both nutritious and decadent at the same time. These chocolate banana muffins taste more like fudge brownies than your run of the mill banana bread, yet they are healthy enough to eat for breakfast. They contain no butter, oil, eggs or added sugar, and with the use of gluten free oats, can be made completely gluten free. But again…they taste like fudge brownies. In my book, you can’t get much better than that.

Ingredients: Makes 12 muffins, recipe from Ambitious Kitchen

  • 1 cup gluten free oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 medium to large ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preparation:

  1. Place oats in a food processor and pulse until oats are ground up and resemble flour, set aside
  2. Place oat “flour”, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl
  3. In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas, vanilla extract and honey. Use an electric mixer to blend wet ingredients until just combined
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips
  5. Place paper muffin liners in a muffin pan and lightly spray with cooking spray. Pour batter into 12 prepared muffin cups and bake at 350 for 10 minutes

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Weekend in Milwaukee

I’m a little bit behind on blogging, but I thought I would share a little travel recap from our recent trip to Milwaukee over Memorial Day Weekend. I work for Hilton Hotels, and one of the perks of the job is some amazing discounts at Hiltons all over the country. Because of this, Eric and I decided we really need to take advantage of my super cheap hotel room rates for quick weekend trips. This time around we were lucky to be accompanied by two of our favorite people- Eric’s parents!

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Eric had been to Milwaukee once before and insisted that our first stop in town was the Mars Cheese Castle. And yes, you did read that correctly. We visited a castle full of cheese. My husband was one happy camper

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It was basically a large gourmet market that specialized in a variety of cheeses. We had the chance to try some different types of cheddar cheeses, some flavored cheeses and even a chocolate cheese that tasted like a mix between cream cheese and fudge. We left the Mars Cheese castle with some smoked cheddar cheese and some of the most amazing honey pecan barbeque sauce I’ve ever had. Who knew you could find such great barbeque sauce at a cheese store?

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Later that day we went to the Miller Brewery and took a tour of the facility. I was surprised that the tour was completely free, as they not only took as through the entire brewery operations, but they also gave three free 6 oz samples of some of their beers. Trying the beer was definitely a nice part of the tour, but it was really fun to learn the history of Miller. For as large of an operation that it is today, it was nice to hear that it grew from a very small family business.

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The first night we roamed around Downtown Milwaukee and we could not have asked for a more beautiful weekend to walk along the river.

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The next day was filled with another brewery tour, but this one couldn’t have been more different than the Miller Tour. While the Miller Brewery tour was very planned and informative, our tour of Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery was pretty much the opposite. But it was an absolute blast. The tour guides were hilarious and had us cracking up the entire time. They told the story of how the brewery came to be, but at times I felt like we were watching a stand up comedian for how funny their stories were. And the beer was pretty darn good as well. We even got to try their award winning East Side Dark Lager, which according to the New York Times, is  the second best dark lager in the US.

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We also tried the Wisconsonite, a summer weis beer, Fixed Gear, their red style beer, and the White, which is their belgium white. It made for a very fun afternoon.

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Later that night we visited The Safe House, which was a spy themed restaurant that you need a code word to gain entrance to. From the outside, it looked like we were entering an abandoned building, but inside it was covered with tons of spy memorabilia.  It was definitely a fun little venture. And with that, our short weekend getaway was over. But it was a great quick trip with fantastic company.