Thursday, December 30, 2010

memorable moments: 2010

2010 was probably my best year yet. awesome things happened this year.

JANUARY: Rachel's baby shower.
FEBRUARY: the only sad moment - my grandfather's passing. we are joyful though, because now he and gramma koos are in heaven, dancing together.
MARCH: birth of Chloe! we are so blessed to have her in our lives. it's amazing how quickly they grow and learn in the first year (we're at 9 months). she is now crawling all over, almost walking and babbling non-stop just like the rest of the ladies in this family. oh, and getting mad when we say "no" or take things away from her :)
APRIL: roomie bought a house! i think we failed to do the majority of the things on our "must do before kc moves out list."
MAY: some of the best bridesmaids ever: bachelorette party in ORLANDO, FLORIDA! i cannot express how amazing that weekend was and how i will always remember it! it was such a joy to be able to spend some time w/ my friend Alicia who lives in FL and was unable to attend our bridal shower. josh & i also were privileged to have our engagement photos taken by my amazing sister, Rachel this month.
JUNE: bridal. shower. amazingness. my family and friends. rock. josh and i were so blessed at the shower and we love using all of our amazing gifts!!
JULY: not much happened this month, i believe Josh had his bachelor party in NY City this month. i'm glad he was able to do that with his friends. most of my life in this month was planning for the WEDDING duh, and enjoying the summer.
AUGUST: wedding. what can i say? it was hands down the best day ever. everything was more amazing than i could have imagined. we had so much fun the day of and were again so blessed by our family and friends who came, helped, baked, were generous, danced with us...and then the honeymoon? AMAZING. can we please go back?
SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER: not much happened these last few months, and that is totally okay with me. Josh & i have been enjoying the married life and right now just enjoying the holiday and time off. we had a great time with our families for all the holidays!

<<edit>> josh reminded me: some big things DID happen in SEPT-DEC 2010:
*NOVEMBER: visited Josh's aunt & uncle in Maumee, Ohio
*DECEMBER: my poor green civic was rear-ended (with me in it) and verdict: totaled. Josh and i bought a beautiful black Subaru Impreza hatchback as our brand new car. we love it!
*DECEMBER: girls weekend @ lake house in Chautauqua. wine tasting, breweries, fun times, awesome food and good conversation!

Monday, December 27, 2010

spice cupcakes & cream cheese frosting

for Thanksgiving, i made cupcakes. i used this recipe here Applesauce Spice Cupcakes, but didn't have enough applesauce for a double batch so i added some vegetable oil. they weren't quite as moist as i would have liked, but they still turned out good. i also didn't have any nutmeg and might have added too much clove.

for the frosting, i used one of my favorites - Robin from Big Red Kitchen's browned butter cream cheese frosting. the first time i ever made this (two years ago) it turned out perfect. this time, i burned the butter and had to restart. then, i didn't really brown it enough and i made way too much so i had a massive container left over (and had to make brownies to use some of the rest of it).

all in all the cupcakes were still delish and eaten up, though i did end up throwing a few away after they sat for several days being uneaten.

brownie recipe was found online, something random that didn't need butter but used oil (had no butter). still turned out pretty decent, not quite as moist and fudgy as i prefer.

holy holidays!

and just like that, christmas is over! always goes so quickly and leaves me depressed for the rest of the winter...until valentine's day and my birthday show up, then spring and summer and vacations then fall and holidays again! oh, how the time flies (and even more so as we get older it seems...)

christmas was as enjoyable as ever this year. christmas eve morning was spent with the newer tradition of breakfast with the SKANK girls and a secret santa gift exchange. staci had me and got me a new volleyball (yay!), a Rachael Ray cookbook and a cute "our first christmas" ornament. love all the gifts from her! the rest of christmas eve was spent prepping for the following day's dishes i was bringing as well as our service at church and celebrations with Josh's family including more fun gifts, ornaments and gift cards and lots of food. Josh and i also exchanged our gifts to each other. he had already bought me my awesome laptop a few months ago when mine broke. he also bought me some ornaments (very special because he's been commenting that we have enough ornaments, but got me some anyway b/c he knows how much i love it!). he also got me some cookie cutters, a new brita water filter, chapsticks, teas and an awesome travel mug!

okay, okay, i know you all don't care about my gifts, but i was truly blessed. i should point out that i received another Rachael Ray cookbook as well as a 7-piece set of knives (including holder). i gave our major set and my three-piece away to my mum (since their knives suck).

we spent Christmas evening at Josh's aunt's house with his dad's side of the family. Dec 26, boxing day for us Englishfolk, was spent at my "aunts" where we do Englishy things like eat cold meat, more trifle, millions of desserts, drink tea and watch football (um, real football. soccer, that is. seriously, american football should be renamed).

currently i'm waiting for my cousin to come over so i can make breakfast and some coffee. my feet are cold but i don't feel like wearing socks.

okay! i'll try to post the dishes i made for christmas soon (which i never did for thanksgiving...whoops!)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

update on life

things are busy and crazy here, which is actually a little unusual for the holiday season. business is usually slower as many customers are on vacation and many of our vendors have weeks off b/w christmas and new years. however, we are fairly busy, which is good. just helps to propel us into the holiday season and vacation time of my own!

i'm very excited for the holiday this year. josh and i decorated our tree together and i'm excited to spend vacation days and holidays with him and his family. plus we have our new baby Chloe (okay, she's almost 9 months...not really "new" anymore), but Christmas should be so fun with her! plus my sister's in-laws are joining us for the holiday, so we'll have a full table which is going to be great. isn't Chloe the cutest ever?? i mean, really, she is. photo by rachel (

other things going on:
  • i was rear-ended after leaving work last week. it turns out my car is totaled, though worth more than i thought. the prospect of getting a new car is very exciting (i've had my sweet civic Genevieve...or Guinevere...i can't remember what i named her...for almost 8 years now). josh and i plan on looking in the next few days for a new mode of transportation! we knew my car wasn't going to last too much longer, but this was definitely sooner than anticipated.
  • next weekend is our SKANK girls weekend (staci, kristen, amy, nicole & katie). we are going to Staci's mother-in-law's cabin in Chautauqua and i'm very excited! we are planning on hitting up some wineries, hanging out with games and movies and making a Mexican themed dinner one of the nights.
i guess that is about it for now, there are many holiday things going on that are exciting (to me) but not really post-worthy!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

baking bread: first attempt

i've been trying to think of better ways to spend the several hours i have at home before josh gets done with work and we eat dinner. usually i sit on my lazy butt watching TV and browsing the web. one idea i had was to make my own bread! josh loves fresh Italian and white bread, but it's so hard to keep it fresh and yummy. i usually prefer wheat bread, but i end up freezing it b/c we don't eat it that often, and i've been really disappointed with brands i've been buying at the store lately. i know making bread is time consuming, but i thought it was a productive way to spend an evening!

last night i attempted a simple white bread recipe that was in the booklet that came with our KitchenAid mixer. holy. seriousness. that is the best machine ever. i love that it works for bread dough! it has this awesome "bread hook" (metal) that kneads the dough for you, so no kneading by hand! the recipe called for two loaves, but i only have one loaf pan so i split the recipe in half.

pretty much the recipe goes like this:
  1. mix milk, butter, sugar and salt in saucepan. heat to dissolve, then cool to lukewarm.
  2. dissolve yeast in warm water in "warmed" mixing bowl
  3. add the milk mixture to the yeast, combine
  4. add flour, in increments. when all flour is added, knead on speed 2
  5. form into ball and put in greased bowl, turning once to coat
  6. cover, let rise in warm area about 1 hour (i put my oven on for a little then turned it off and put in the bread dough)
  7. roll out dough to rectangle, roll up and plop in your greased loaf pan
  8. let rise till doubled in size, bake and enjoy!

this bread was great toasted w/ peanut butter for breakfast. josh enjoyed it last night as the base for a turkey sandwich!

all in all, i enjoyed the process and was very proud of my results. i will definitely continue to make our own bread!! i actually made stromboli dough while i was making the bread dough. pictures/post on that later!

if you are interested in more details on the recipe, let me know!

Monday, November 29, 2010

thanksgiving wrap-up

i'll start this post off with saying that i severely overate this holiday. at least three nights i was laying in bed feeling utterly full and not wanting to roll to my side or my stomach for fear of it bursting. not a good feeling and i'm really NOT proud of myself for that!! i'm hoping i can cut out the overeating, start up the exercising (hey, i did do wii fit [once] last week) and shed a few pounds before the remainder of the holidays. it's either that or a new wardrobe and i know josh won't like that option (hey, and neither do i).

josh and i had a great Thanksgiving at his Gram's house. they are cooking fiends there - when josh's mom cooks, she cooks for the thousands. no one will go hungry! of course everything was amazing a delicious, with josh's mom & gram's turkey, stuffing, mashies, gravy and many vegetables, not to mention josh's sister-in-law's yummy yams w/ marshmallows and green bean casserole. later in the evening we stopped over at my aunt & uncle's where my parents, cousin and great uncle were still hanging out. josh and i hung out with Bekah and had fun playing ping pong and rock band. i made a few yummy desserts for the occasion (Spice Cake [with applesauce] Cupcakes with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting and some brownies [to use the leftover frosting]). everything was yummy though we have several cupcakes and lots of brownies still leftover. josh and i discussed just pitching them [since i'm most likely to eat them all...] stay tuned for pics and recipe links in a later post...

anyway, we had a great weekend with family, some of my girlfriends &  their hubbies came over Friday night and Saturday was a great day of Christmas movies, decorating and lounging. could not have asked for a better holiday, though i must say i'm not ready to be back at work!!

(i think our tree could use a few more ornaments...)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

t-day holiday plans

so what does everyone have planned for this glorious holiday weekend? i can't believe it is already here! josh and i have some fun friend & family events plus lots of R&R i hope!

our/my plans include:

getting out of work early, grabbing an early christmas present for Josh, baking Spice Cupcakes w/ Cream Cheese Frosting and relaxing in-between laundry and cleaning.
SLEEPING IN!!! thanksgiving dinner with Josh's family @ his gram's house, then stopping to see my family around dessert if there is time. not sure if we need to see Josh's other gram in there too.
SLEEPING IN!!! that's right - no early AM black friday shopping for me. probably need to make a trip to the liquor store, then cooking, cleaning and getting ready for some fun with friends coming over to our place in the evening. maybe i'll do some online shopping in the afternoon.
more sleeping in of course. planning on a big yummy breakfast with Josh (eggs, toast, bacon, hash browns, coffee), christmas movies & music, hot chocolate and decorating the tree. we don't have a big tree (or a lot of ornaments & other decorations...) so i doubt it will take long. i'm excited to start new traditions decorating our place together. we both are on for band at church this weekend, so we have practice in the evening.
i assume this day will be dedicated to church and naps. possibly out to the east side to visit my parents and help put up their tree like i do every year.

i hope you all have a great holiday and remember all the things you are thankful for this year! i'm thankful for an understanding family who gives me no grief on spending thanksgiving dinner w/ my husband's family. i'm thankful for his family, who loves and accepts me right in. i'm thankful for friends, food and fun-and combining that all together to form a great evening. i'm thankful for my flexible job and days off! i'm ever so thankful for my amazing, talented, loving, caring and super-fun husband to spend the holiday (and days off) with. happy thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

chicken pot pie deliciousness

a few weekends ago i made a delicious (if i do say so myself) homemade pot pie!

i based my recipe from here: simply recipes

i used the pastry recipe from the website (though i had no shortening, so i just used butter). i also used a sweet potato (or was one of those white ones) and just frozen veggies, chicken stock, cream, chicken and some spices. the crust was great, even though i didn't make it quite as instructed. i think i need to get some shortening...

we have a winner!

congratulations to...

Domestic Diva for winning the $35 promo code giveaway from CSN Stores! i will be contacted CSN and providing you with your promo code shortly.

thank you to all who participated! and sorry to the few of you that entered late; i was not able to put your entries in :(

if you care to know how i picked the winner...every entry got assigned a number in order of posting. if you tweeted or blogged, i marked it down, then went through and assigned numbers for tweets (after all the "comment" entries were assigned numbers), then went through and assigned numbers for the blog posts. there is another page not shown on the image above. therefore if you tweeted or blogged you were not assigned numbers in succession. i thought this would help mix it up more. in total there were 41 entries by 24 people.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


only a few more hours to enter the giveaway! just wanted to post a note about that - the giveaway will close tonight at 11:59pm but i don't anticipate a post to announce the winner until Friday or hopefully later tomorrow night. work is busy now and we are having Josh's mom & gram over for dinner tomorrow, so i have a busy day and evening planned (lasagna w/ homemade meatsauce, salad and chocolate chip snack cake for dessert. nothing is made yet...).


Friday, November 12, 2010


first, don't forget to comment, tweet or blog for entries on my last blog post for the $35 giveaway from CSN Stores!

next, how awesome is this app?? i probably need this, since i know i'll be doing all the wrapping of Christmas presents this year (like i have been since josh and i started dating...)

enter the box/gift's measurements and then the app will tell you how much paper and ribbon you need to wrap your gift!!

WrapItApp for iPhone / from iTunes / $1.99

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

awesome giveaway!!

CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find everything from stylish furniture, to leather extra tall bar stools or even great cookware (including Rachael Ray!).  last June i had the privilege of hosting a giveaway of one of four pretty awesome items through one of their stores, All Modern. the giveaway was a success - although ironically my at-the-time-roommate won the giveaway, so we had this fun vase in our townhouse!

for this giveaway, CSN Stores is giving away a $35 promo code to use at any one of their 200+ stores.

here's some fun things i would use $35 toward: 

a pretty decanter for all the wine we acquired this past weekend:

Ravenscroft Crystal 34 oz. Cristoff Single Decanter

maybe a stylish shelf for our bathroom:

Gatco Tiara Glass Vanity Shelf in Satin Nickel

 or a new lamp for our living room:

LumiSource Oval Table Lamp in Black and Blue 

or maybe some cute clothes for my adorable niece:

JoJo Designs 2 Piece French Toile and Polka Dot Smocked Baby Outfit in Pink and Brown

  1. comment on this post telling me one thing you love from CSN stores (1 entry)
  2. tweet this giveaway (1 entry - must tell me in the comment section you are doing this, or link to my twitter @volleygalore so i can have record)
  3. blog this giveaway (1 entry - again, must notify me via comment, twitter or email that you are blogging this)
giveaway will close Wednesday, November 17 at 11:59pm. winner will be picked at random via a random number generator. i will then post the winner on my site and you have 48 hours to email me [] with your email/info so i can send you the promo code. 

**PLEASE NOTE: this giveaway is to readers in the US, Canada, the UK and Germany. However, due to shipping restrictions, if a winner is chosen from the UK, the gift certificate code (which would then be £25) is restricted to one of CSN Store's 6 UK websites. If a winner is chosen from Germany, the gift certificate code (which would then be €30) is restricted to one of CSN Store's 4 German websites.

wedding toast

as is customary in England, my dad gave a "Father of the Bride" speech at our wedding. i asked him for a copy of the speech so i could hang on to it and possibly put it in our wedding album (that some day we will do - my sister is going to design it for us, so it's all on her time!).

anyway, thought i would share the speech/toast for anyone interested. below is what my dad emailed over to me. i only made a few changes to make any confusing sentences work, since he read off the sheet but added things as well.

A Wedding Speech. August 20th , 2010

I cannot believe that we have finally come to this day. I can now relax and stop being ordered around! This has had more planning that a military maneuver! 

Where has the time gone? My little Amy, Amers has turned into a young woman overnight, has it really been 26 years? Amy was an excellent baby, she slept well, was obedient, honored her parents; looked after her sister…oh wait that was Rachel! Amy was my best friend, when I was doing jobs around the house, she wanted to help, she knew which tools I needed, which was good because I didn’t. We played games and read books. She has spent years working with me in Children’s Church, things were always better when she was there to support me. 

But now a new phase has come, a new “man” has arrived to take over the protector role.

Josh, I hope you are ready! Last September Josh and I went out for lunch. I knew he was after my permission and after questioning him about his faith, his love and commitment I gave that permission. Father’s this should be something we should get from our daughters suitors!

Josh seems a very cool and patient guy…I said “Do you get angry and raise your voice?” He said he didn’t, but Amy did! I agreed!

I was impressed with Josh one night recently when we were starting a bonfire in the backyard because Amy wanted “S’mores!” I got out my chainsaw and chopped some trees down and we started lighting it, Josh rubbed two sticks together and whoosh we were ready, but there were no sticks for the marshmallows!

“I’ll get a knife.” I said.
“No, wait,” was his reply. Josh opened his pockets. He sorted through various guitar picks, music books, X box games, cash, laptops…and produced a pocket knife. I could not believe it! This guy was all right, he was like one of the Hardy Boys! (Rambo)

Now it is time to for you to take over and Josh, I leave the upkeep of Amy’s Honda Civic to you. Josh it will be your turn to kill the bugs…(Centipede Story) - you could kill it with your knife!

Amy is full of passion and spirit! She is lively and creative, talented and beautiful. She is yours to
look after and protect. Welcome to a family with a long line of emotional females! A verse from Ephesians 5 vs 25 to finish with:
“And you husbands must love your wives with the same love that Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.”
I have taken many years to learn that, but if you wish to be successful, then make sure you pray and work things out, don’t stay angry with each other…I can honestly say that by realizing that I am never right…wait I was right 13 times one year! Makes my life a lot happier. Be romantic and loving, the way to win Amy’s heart is by watching Pride and Prejudice together!

Raise your glasses!

Friday, October 22, 2010

wedding details: hair accessories

it's been a while (like, over a month) since i posted any more details about the wedding. seeing as we just past the two month marker, i thought it would be appropriate to post some more wedding fun.

originally i did not want to wear a veil for the wedding. you know, wanted to be a rebel, wanted to be "different," but my mum made my sister's veil as well as a few other friends', so she wanted to make mine as well. after trying on several dresses and testing out veils, i was happy about wearing one. my sister, mom and i all seemed to be drawn to one in-particular. this veil was about waist-length and had crystals lining almost the entire thing. then we checked the price - $29.50. seriously. veils like this usually are at LEAST over $150.00. this veil had been damaged - the crystals were falling off, and not until a few days before the wedding did we even notice it had some holes in the center. we didn't even care. i bought the veil and my mum bought more crystals and spent over 4 hours fixing it. it cost less than if she were to have made it herself from scratch, though i'm sure it took longer than she originally anticipated. i only wore the veil for the ceremony and pictures after, so i was totally ecstatic about paying that price.

i wanted to swap out the veil for some sort of flowery or feathery fun for the reception, just like many brides these days. i couldn't find anything i really liked and then my mum decided she could probably make one of these on her own. so, with a combination of satin, lace, chiffon and toulle (not to mention a super sparkly broken antique earring), she created my flower.

it meant so much to me to have these personal touches on my wedding day. my mum is so wonderful and talented in so many ways. she did so much for the wedding and put so much time into our special day. my mum is truly an amazing woman!!

here are some fun veil and flower pics (i grabbed some from my photographer Danielle Hartland's proof site, so they've still got her watermarks on them. i'll have to update when i have higher resolution pics):

Thursday, October 21, 2010


oh. my. gosh. 

these are perfect for me. i'm always reusing my tiny not-exactly-reusable sandwich bags!! i would love the orange polka-dot or the skull and crossbones bag! made of washable cotton and nylon, flap is secured with Velcro. who wouldn't love eating their lunch out of one of these cute pouches?

from edenhome

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

mr & mrs muse

these are SO CUTE! i think josh and i totally need them. not only are they fun and funky in every way, the product name "mr & mrs muse" just makes me happy.

salt + pepper

i would also like to point out i love everything else on this site. also, you can post your adler designed home/room or check out the homes of other adler fans! this is one of my favorites:

 please note the Saarinen Tulip chair and Breuer Wassily Chair
just another reason why i love this picture: KNOLL!

Monday, October 18, 2010

design inspiration source

i can't remember how i got to this website (although it was only a few days ago that i found it). it was either a twitter post, or some real simple link. anyway...


houzz is a great resource for home owners and design professionals looking for inspiration or to showcase their work. i like how you can browse by style, by room and even by city. awesome website to keep all your design ideas and inspirations in one place!

Friday, October 15, 2010

fun finds for small spaces

life is fairly busy and kinda boring right now. we're finishing up some big projects at work and just waiting for some new ones to pop up and i've had a busy week with volleyball tuesday nights, yep! happy hour at the Brewerie last night with some friends and an open house for Behrend tonight (invited by former roomie KC). i'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend with josh; he's also been busy with jury duty this week (today SHOULD be his last day...) so it's been an extra-long week for him.

here are two fun finds for small spaces:

Stackable Oven-to-Table Cookware by Designer Christian Bjørn.
These are pretty neat because they can stack in the OVEN as well; the scalloped cut-outs allow air to circulate and heat food evenly. Pretty neat.

love this. i'm always looking for a new and better place to hang my keys, purse and put the mail in our "tiny" townhouse. unfortunately weren't not "technically" supposed to attach anything to the walls, so i probably couldn't use this anyway. maybe some day! 
they also have some pretty freaky "on the wall" hands...

would you put this in your house?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

halloween decorations

i love getting Real Simple tips and recipe emails in my inbox (though i get them like 10x a day and it does get a little overwhelming at times).

this is my fav from my latest email - "9 Halloween Decorations for Under $35." i wonder if Josh would let me have this since it wouldn't be "in the house" exactly...

halloween doormat
$16.99 at HSN
unfortunately sold out :(

Thursday, September 30, 2010

my first (successful) etsy purchase

WARNING: while this post is about purchasing from ETSY, it is also about wedding warned.

one thing i really wanted to get for my bridesmaids was cute clutches or handbags that were different, fun, a pop of color and re-usable. i feel like i succeeded with 3/4 of these requirements.

since my girls wore PINK heels (Mossimo, from Target) i decided on PINK purses (i knew KT wouldn't be happy about it, but i did it anyway). after unfortunate evens from my first attempt at purses on Etsy (didn't hear back from the vendor for months after paying 1/2 of the money up front), i decided to go for something really different.

photo by Danielle Hartland Graphic Design & Photography 
(actually, her assistant Miranda took this one!)

i discovered Poppy Punch Etsy shop while doing a general bridal clutch search on Etsy. i was more than pleased with the results. Toon worked close with me on personalizing my clutches (allowing me to pick my fabric and add a silver chain). She also gave me a discount (well, i did order NINE bags...eight bridesmaids and one bride). i picked a pink flowery pattern for the girls and the same pattern in orange for me. they might not be able to use these again too often, but they were a great deal, looked awesome in pictures (so far that i've seen), and shipped quickly (they came from Thailand) and *cutely* wrapped.

i would definitely recommend Poppy Punch for personalized, fun and funky clutches! there are so many gorgeous bags on their site!

photo by Danielle Hartland Graphic Design & Photography

photo by Staci

Friday, September 24, 2010

currently listening and Target 2010 Fall Ad

two of my fav bands have new albums this month - Anberlin: Dark is the Way, Light is a Place and Maroon 5: Hands All Over.

currently on repeat:
We Owe This to Ourselves
You Belong Here

Maroon 5
Give a Little More

i haven't really gotten through all the songs on the albums yet, so these are just my initial first loves on each.

speaking of music, and i'm sort of copying my sister on this one, but i swear i was going to post this...

the song in the new TARGET FALL 2010 COMMERCIAL is by my cousin Paul & his band - Paul & the Patients. you may have heard me talk about Paul before, he actually wrote a song for the ceremony of my sister's wedding and wrote the song for Josh & i's first dance. Our song is called "The Perfect Kiss" and i hope to get a snippet of it up here at some point, with Paul's permission of course.

anyway, here's the ad. totally love it. great job, Paul!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

kitchen fun

i've been having a delightful time "decorating" our new townhouse. josh has limited me to no pictures in the "computer room" (his computer room, which also has all of his clothes and my little make up table that i sit at for a total of 20-30 minutes a day, usually when he's still sleeping), but i like to take full reign in the kitchen (in moderation!)...

i got these clear jars at Marshall's back when i was in the old townhouse. i feel like they really need fun things like colored jelly beans or other fun candies to go in them, but right now this is what is used and needs a place! i know what's in the jars, but i thought it'd be fun to label them with the font i'm now obsessed with (thanks to Katie for using it on the shower invites, rachel using it on the wedding invites and us using it all over the wedding day decorations) - Albemarle Swash. it's just so fun!

Monday, September 13, 2010

awesome cookie bars

i have been a baking and cooking fiend since we've been back from the honeymoon. i'm loving our new Rachael Ray pans and KitchenAid mixer and want to use them at all times possible.

i've already made 3 (half) batches of chocolate chip cookies, so yesterday i decided to try something else. i found a recipe in my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook for Chocolate Revel Bars (recipe here) and decided to make some adaptations. instead of melting the chocolate chips with the sweetened condensed milk, i melted caramels in the sweetened condensed milk, poured that on the bottom layer of cookies and sprinkled the chocolate chips over the top of the caramel. also, i didn't have sweetened condensed milk as the recipe called for - but did you know you can make a substitute for that using dry milk, boiling water, sugar and a little butter. totally worked! because weird - i have dry milk in my cupboard.

i'm happy to say i've now created my husband's third favorite cookie/bar. his 1st favorite are Carmelitas by his Gram, i know i can never surpass that. 2nd is s'mores bars. ah-ma-zing.

anyway, i'm horrible and writing, so here are some pictures. please note our gorgeous plates and fun table runner.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

wedding details: the dress

if you've been following my blog, i know i've posted a lot about details for our wedding. now that it is over i feel it's time to share some of those AWESOME details. i feel like i have a story to tell about almost each piece i wore, so i'm going to break up the posts that deal with my attire.

The Dress:

my dress was Iliana by Maggie Sottero. the dress was shown online in silver, so originally i had the idea in my mind that i wanted that. i had been browsing Maggie dresses over six months before we even got engaged, and this was one of the few i picked out that i looked at daily. like, seriously. daily.

i totally envisioned myself wearing this dress at our wedding. when the dress hunt started towards the end of that year (2009), i checked three bridal stores out and had a favorite from each place. none were the Iliana dress. i was so incredibly close to getting another beautiful dress from David's Bridal, but i walked away from all three stores without purchasing anything. i could not commit. i had plenty of time before the wedding, but i felt i needed to nail the dress before any other details could be envisioned. i knew i needed to try those other Maggie dresses i had been pining over for months. i finally called the first store we stopped at and asked if they had them. and i gave them like, 15 dresses to check. i think they only had three of these. Iliana was one of them.

i was SO excited to try it on and as soon as i did, i knew it had to be the dress. i was nervous my mum wouldn't like it as much because it was so simple (no beading, one fabric), but the way the dress fit me, the fabric, the straps, the amazing train and how it looked in the back - all made this dress so unique and glamorous, everyone loved it. i did go with the ivory color - i described it to people as melted white chocolate. how could one NOT love that!?

to me the dress was perfect, especially for my now-husband. he is a minimal kind of guy (you should see our apartment!), so i knew he would appreciate a dress that wasn't busy. also, my engagement ring is very simple and modern, my wedding band is just a plain, flat-edge band. the style of this dress dictated simplicity and modernism in our wedding theme, with punches of crazy details in things like the shoes and jewelry.

i don't have any full-length dress pictures yet, but this is one of my favorites from our photographer's set so far:

lies! okay, this one is from my sister's series of pics:

Monday, September 6, 2010

awesome lunch totes

a few years ago i was linked to the Lean Cuisine Komen breast cancer awareness lunch totes. those things were so cute, pluse they were under $15 and all the proceeds went to breast cancer research, education, prevention and detection programs. unfortunately it seems as though i have LOST my two bags and i'm not sure if they will be doing this program again this fall. ever since i moved all of my stuff into our new townhouse, i've been coming home during lunch (it's a 4 minute drive. seriously). however, i would love to get a new lunch tote and start packing again a few days a week.

i came across a fun company called Built NY that is all-things totes (i found it through Real Simple - September). i am adoring these lunch totes. so cute, plus insulated for up to four hours and machine washable. awesome!

one of these is for sure going on my kaboodle wish list for Christmas.

part of the Alexander Girard collection. he is known for creating patterns and textiles, mostly for Herman Miller. LOVE!

there are a lot of other fun things on this website. check them out: