Friday, January 31, 2014

5 on Friday - Wedding Shows

It's that time again!!  Linking up with the ladies at The Good LifeA. Liz Adventures.  Hello! Happiness. Carolina Charm for another fun and fab 5 on Friday! 
This week, in honor of Sean and Catherine's BIG day, I am sharing my favorite wedding shows.  The funny thing about wedding shows is that I rarely watched them when planning my own wedding.  I don't know if they just hadn't become popular yet or I was just so wrapped up in my own planning that I didn't realize they existed.  I'm thinking it is probably a good thing though, otherwise I would have been overwhelmed by the ideas and choices!
Thank goodness Pinterest didn't exist then either!  Oh my, wedding inspiration overload!
Before I jump into the list, I want to share a few thoughts on Sean and Catherine's wedding.  My first reaction when I saw the ceremony!  It was GORGEOUS!!  I loved the subtle colors and the touches of gold.  So classy...or I suppose in Catherine's words, "grown sexy".  (Yeah, I have no idea what that means either!)  I waited the next 2 hours (!) to get a glimpse of the reception only to be disappointed.  Insert major sad face.  Can you just imagine how beautiful it was?
The other big takeaway from their ceremony was how normal and happy they seem as a couple.  I loved seeing the little quirks of their relationship that really showed they were in sync and meant to be.  Like the adorable triple kiss thing they did.  Too cute! 
Honestly, they just seem very in love and that showed (in abundance) during their ceremony.  Sean just oozed happiness and love when he watched Catherine walk down the aisle.  :)  Speaking of the ceremony, how wonderful is Sean's dad?!?  Wow!  He did an amazing job! 
(I could have done without the 'honeymoon suite cam' though....eww!  Way to stay classy Bachelor producers!)
Don't they look so happy?!  Congrats to the couple!  May your love grow every day!
If you want to see some behind the scenes stuff from the wedding check out Shay from Mix and Match Family - and Sean's older sister!!  She blogs about the pre-wedding festivities and the wedding.
Also, you must check out the hilarious recap at by Shaeffer at Pinterest Told Me To.  She really captures all the awkwardness of the show.

Now on to the list!!
My favorite type of wedding show centers around the big day and all the details.  However, it is always a little more fun when you feel like you kind of know the people.  Because of that the Bachelor/Bachelorette weddings are always a must watch for me.  I love to see the planning, the bachelor/bachelorette parties, showers, day of process and of course the beautiful weddings.  My one complaint?  They never show enough of the reception!
I remember watching Trista & Ryan's wedding and being in utter awe at the grandness (and pinkness) of it all.  It was pretty cool to have seen the beginning of their courtship and to see it culminate in such a gorgeous day.

I love this show for the simple fact that the primary focus is on the ceremony and reception.  If you are not familiar with the show, they choose 4 brides and send them to each other's weddings.  They ask them to judge and rate each other's weddings in categories such as 'overall experience', ' food', 'venue' and 'the dress'.  It is amazing how nitpicky the girls can be about the smallest details.  Well, actually it is kind of sad when you really think about it .... hmmm
However, from the perspective of seeing tons of ideas and more of the wedding day festivities (which many other shows do not highlight), this is a great choice! Just take the cattiness with a grain of salt... :)
I have a confession.  I visited 8 (yes, 8) bridal shops before I found THE dress.  I probably tried on 5-10 dresses at each shop.  It was an exhausting process and I honestly was concerned I would never find my dress.  It was a love/hate process for me too.  I was so excited to try on dresses and I loved spending the time with my mom and bridesmaids but the novelty does wear off after awhile. 
My mother-in-law told me I would cry when I found the dress but I was skeptical because I am just not a crier, but cry I did.  Though I am pretty sure the cry was more out of relief from finally finding a dress!  ;)
So....Say Yes to the Dress is a fun watch for me.  There are definitely some interesting tastes out there but I must say, wedding dresses seem to bring out the beauty in everyone!
In the same vain as Say Yes to the Dress, I enjoy TLC's other version, I Found the Gown.  Format is the same, just a different price point and location.  Both shows can suck me into a marathon before I even know what hit me!
I'm not sure this one really counts but I did enjoy it since I have been a long time fan of the RH franchise.  They showed all the planning AND the wedding AND the reception!  Yes, my kind of wedding show!  Plus the over the top opulence (was that a bike full of roses hanging behind the alter?!?) of it all gave the show a fairy tale vibe. 
And just for fun, a few pictures from our wedding.  Hard to believe it was almost 5 years ago that I was blessed to marry my amazing hubby!
My absolute favorite picture from our wedding day.  I just love the light and how it captures 'us'.
Since I thought it may be a little much to include all of my other favorites (ha!), here is a collage instead! :)
All photos courtesy of Trotter Photo.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wonderful Recipe Wednesday - Broccoli & Cheese Soup

It is no secret that I love soup.  It is probably no secret that I also love easy recipes with ingredients I have on hand for the most part.  Enter, Peas & Crayons sketch free broccoli and cheese soup.  Honestly, I am a sucker for a slow-cooker soup recipe so it took me a little while to tackle this recipe but, boy am I glad I did.  Because you know what?  This recipe is pure heaven!

Seriously, it tastes just like Panera's broccoli cheese soup.  Plus it was E-A-S-Y to make even though the directions sound a little complicated.  The prep work does take a little time but I promise the end result is worth it.

My only complaint...  The recipe only makes 3-4 bowls.  That isn't necessarily a bad thing since you do get at least one leftover meal but I prefer to have a few lunches leftover when I make soup.

Looks delicious, right?? 
I really need to work on my photography skills.  Or maybe I just need to show some restraint since I am always in such a hurry to eat and forget to take pictures!  ;)
one bunch of fresh broccoli
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, plus plenty extra for topping
1 heaping cup of regular gouda cheese [freshly grated, rind removed]
1 cup of shredded carrots
1 small white onion
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup half and half [or heavy cream]
3 TBSP all purpose flour
3 TBSP butter
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp salt [will vary based on salt content of your stock/broth]
a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
(She had 1/8 tsp of all spice but I didn't have any on hand so I left it out.  Still yummy!)
Jenn at Peas & Carrots has lots of little tips and tricks to ensure your soup comes out perfectly.  I HIGHLY recommend checking them out here.
If you feel pretty comfortable in your soup making skills, here are trimmed down directions:
1.  Clean and chop/dice/shred veggies. 
2.  Add vegetable stock to a pot on med-high heat.  Add broccoli, onion, carrots, garlic and bay leaf.  Simmer on medium for about 15-20 mins.  (Get the veggies nice and tender!)
3. Once the broth is done, it is time to start the roux.  (Don't be intimidated, it is actually relatively easy!)  In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat, whisking constantly.  Once melted, slowly add flour while continuing to whisk. 
4.  Remove from heat and slowly pour in broth.  Stir to incorporate. 
5.  Add veggies and slowly stir in half & half.
6.  Return to burner on low heat and remove bay leaf.
7.  Add seasonings - garlic powder, ground nutmeg, dried basil, cayenne pepper
8.  Once the soup has warmed back up, stir in grated cheeses and remove from heat immediately.

This is a must make soup this winter!  I hope you enjoy it as much as the hubby and I did!

If you love tomato soup, check Jenn's recipe out here!  I can't wait to try it out! 


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Natalie's First Hair Cut

My little girl is all grown up! 
I can't believe we are finally crossing this big milestone...the first haircut! 
I know, I know....her FIRST haircut and she is almost 3 and a half years old.  That is the beauty of having a little girl and having her hair grow in so nicely. 
Oh and no incidents with stray scissors.  Lets keep our fingers crossed we don't ever experience that particular "milestone".

A few weeks ago it became really apparent that she was over due for a haircut.  Not to mention that our after bath routine to get the tangles out was wearing us both out.  No tangle shampoo?  Challenge accepted and defeated.  Seriously...that stuff did NOT work here.  Ouch
A few shots to document just how long her hair had grown. 

We went to a local salon that specializes in kid's cuts and make a big deal out of first hair cuts.  They were so great with Natalie made her feel so special! 

Natalie was able to pick 3 flavors for her shampoo.  Her picks?  Cupcake, pineapple and cherry!  It smelled yummy.  :)

So big getting her hair washed!
Another great thing they do at the salon, is let the kids pick a fun chair to sit in. I was a little surprised by her choice but she was sure the train was the best one! 

The finished result!  I had them cut 6 inches (!!) off and it is still pretty long.  It looks so much healthier now and (so far) our tangle problem seems to be better. 
Showing off her new cut and special braid! 
I love the look on her face too!  She was so distracted by the movie they were playing behind me...ha!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Us - Everyday. Week 4

This week was crazy and fun as we took advantage of a slight break in the frigid temps to get out of the house a little more.  A little shopping and a lot of time with friends was the theme!   We also had a couple milestones this week...Natalie's 1st hair cut and Chase's 3rd tooth! 
 Day 20:  The carousal is a must stop when shopping at the mall!  Today she chose an ostrich...
(Jan 20)

Day 21:  This little guy cut his 3rd tooth!!!  (And #'s 4, 5 and 6 are not far behind!)
A bonus picnic date with my loves.
(Jan 21)

Day 22:  Why pick one color when you can have a rainbow manicure?!
(Jan 22)

 Day 23:  Natalie had a blast testing all the swing sets at our play date but the tire swings and rock walls were her favorites! 
We need spring to get here so Daddy can put her new swing set up in the backyard!  We may never get her inside this summer :)
(Jan 23)
 Day 24:  One last picture before Natalie's 1st hair cut!  She was so excited but a little nervous too!
(Jan 24)
Day 25:  Dinner date with Aunt Megan.  The kids love her so much!
Chase may have been over the whole restaurant scene at this point.  :) 
(Jan 25)

 Day 26:  Beautiful sunset with two of my favorite people!  Plus, we were outside with no coats in Jan!
(Jan 26)

Friday, January 24, 2014

5 on Friday - Stay Warm Edition!

You know the funny thing about linking up every Friday with the fun ladies at The Good LifeA. Liz Adventures.  Hello! Happiness. Carolina Charm, is that my weeks seem to be going by much faster.  Strange how that works. 
So here we are, another Friday and another cold winter day.  I mean seriously cold.  Colder than I can remember it being in years.  I am NOT a fan of cold, winter days.  Well, I am not a fan of being outside for any amount of time in this weather.  I am also not a fan of not leaving the house for days on in.  Quite a conundrum, don't you think?  #stayathomemomproblems  ;)

Am I overdoing it on the drama?  A little?  Yeah, I think so too.  :)

This week I am dedicating my 5 on Friday, to my favorite ways to fight the winter cold.  
Every morning I need a hot cup of coffee to fight off the morning chill.  Now, my mom wouldn't call what I drink coffee and to be honest she would probably be right. 

Because, real coffee, I mean, gag!

My preference is a yummy cup of frilly cappuccino.   Preferably from Starbucks.  But since they don't deliver (somebody work on that, please and thank you), I turn to my trusty Keurig.  My favorite?  CafĂ© Escapes K cups.  They have 6 varieties but my favorites are the Mocha, Caramel, and Vanilla.  Yum!  Oh and don't forget the creamer.  For Winter, my go to flavor is Peppermint Mocha but I like to spice it up (cause I am crazy like that) and have Caramel Macchiato every once in awhile.
You definitely need a warm pair of pjs that you can hang out in all day if you want! ;)
A good pair of slippers are a must as well.  I don't know about you but if my feet are cold, everything is just off.  You need a pair that are warm but also have a little support.  Lets be real, it can be hard on your feet (and back, and hips - oops, I ventured into 'old' territory with that one) to walk around barefoot all day.  Especially on hardwood floors.  

I love my pair but they are getting a little worn.  Luckily it is simple enough to throw them in the wash but I am thinking I need a new pair.
Kind of love these moccasin ones from Kohl's.
Soup.  Soup.  Soup.  A good soup recipe is worth it weight in gold on a snowy, frigid day. 
Here are a few of my favorites:
Broccoli & Cheese Soup from Peas & Carrots
Slow Cooker Potato Soup from Mix and Match Mama (or my slightly tweaked version here)
Healthy CrockPot Chicken Tortilla Soup from
Slow Cooker Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup from 365 Days of Slow Cooking

Lastly, if you are crazy brave enough to venture outside, you must have a cozy scarf.  Check out these awesome options from Nordstrom.  And the best part?  They were SUPER reasonable.  Like $20ish, reasonable.

I mean how cozy does that grey cable knit scarf look?  I love it!  All of these have been on a constant cycle through my wardrobe this winter.  If I was forced to pick a favorite (not sure who would be crazy enough to make me pick just one) it would be the dusty pink scarf.  It goes with so much!

All of these are currently sold out.  :(  What the heck Nordstrom?!  I guess we can blame the $11 sale they had a few weeks ago or maybe the fact that all the scarves they have in stock now are spring/summery versions.  They do have a plum version of the grey cable knit still in stock.

Hope you all stay warm this winter!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wonderful Recipe Wednesday - Slow Cooker Chicken Cordon Bleu

Today I am sharing a slightly sinful and sinfully easy recipe from another one of my favorite blogs, Six Sisters Stuff.  This blog has tons of great ideas for slow cooker meals, crafts and budgeting.  They are a go-to blog for a lot of our meals.

On today's menu, is Slow Cooker Chicken Cordon Bleu.  I have always been a little intimidated by Chicken Cordon Bleu as it felt like a fancy meal.  Boy, do I feel silly feeling that way after finding this recipe!  Just a few ingredients and my slow cooker....perfect!

Slow Cooker Chicken Cordon Bleu
courtesy of Six Sisters Stuff

6 chicken breasts
1 can (10.75oz) of cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
6 slices of deli ham
6 slices of swiss cheese (I used provolone since I had it on hand)
1 (8oz) package of herbed dry bread stuffing mix (I used Stove Top)
1/4 cup butter, melted

Mix together cream of chicken soup and milk, pour just enough in the slow cooker to cover the bottom.  Layer chicken breasts, ham and cheese in slow cooker.  Each chicken should have its own slice of ham and cheese.  Pour remaining cream of chicken and milk mixture over chicken breasts.  Sprinkle the stuffing on top and drizzle melted butter over the stuffing.

Cook on low 4-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours.

Simple and delicious!

We served with a side of green beans as the cheese, stuffing and cream of chicken made the dish pretty filling and rich.

Hope you enjoy this easy concoction as much as we did!!!

For a picture of the deliciousness head over to Six Sisters Stuff and check it out. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Us - Everyday. Week 3

Day 13:  Rocking Mommy's sunglasses at the Zoo! 
(Jan 13th)
Day 14:  My little procrastinator.  She came into the kitchen about 9:30 saying she couldn't sleep because she was hungry...Well, lets have a bowl of cereal then!  :) 
(Jan 14)
 Day 15:  "Um, Chase, I think you have something on your face" ;)
(Jan 15)

 Day 16:  I think this sweet girl is as ready for Spring as her mama!
(Jan 16)
 Day 17:  Playing dress up at our play date.  She LOVED the Rapunzel hair!
(Jan 17)
Day 18:  It's here!  It's here!  My new Erin Condren planner arrived!  I may have spent my Saturday night cuddled up on the couch with the planner, my special pens, some labels and chocolate. 
(Jan 18)
Day 19:  Celebrating my fabulous Mom's birthday.  Natalie was very excited to give her a special piece of art work. 
(Jan 19)