Friday, June 29, 2012

Quick Work Update

Just a quick post before I leave job #1 and head to job #2. This is how I spent my day so far:


Now, I head to work at a grocery store until 9:30 pm. Somewhat anticlimactic. Oh my life. I promise a real post is coming soon. After 9:30 tonight I have FOUR glorious days off of work!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

RECIPE: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I buy bananas... not because I eat them (though I don't find them objectionable), but because my husband does. What I fail to realize sometimes, though, is that a human can only eat so many bananas in one day and maybe I buy too many for him to consume before they go bad.

I was faced with a dilemma a few weeks ago: two very brown bananas were on my kitchen counter, in the way of everything I wanted to do. Trust me, in our apartment, counter space (or lack thereof) is a big deal. Should I throw them away? Should I beg Brandon for the millionth time to eat them?

No! I would make banana bread. And make banana bread I did. I grabbed a partial bag of chocolate chips from the pantry and went to town.


CHOCOLATE CHIP BANANA BREAD (makes 1 loaf)
1.5 c flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2-3/4 c chocolate chips
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 c sugar
2 eggs
2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
1.5 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease your loaf pan (mine was a 9 inch). Whisk the first four ingredients in a bowl to blend. Beat butter in a large, separate bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, continue beating. Add in bananas and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in flour mixture a little at at time. When well combined, fold in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Honeymoon (Part One)

I wish I could go on our honeymoon again. Right now. And then I want to go on it again next month. And maybe again in the fall. And then in the winter. And and and you get the idea. It was glorious, absolutely glorious. We had the best time exploring Disney World together! Here's a recap of the first part of the week:

WEDDING NIGHT

We decided to spend our wedding night in Charlotte, NC before driving to Orlando the next day. I looked at tons (and I mean tons) of hotels for the big night and am so glad that I landed on the Hyatt House in downtown. It was very reasonably priced, the contemporary decor was gorgeous, and they upgraded us to a one bedroom suite! I present to you the first photo from the honeymoon:


After brandon got sick of me sitting on the luggage cart and snapping photos of the room we decided to head down to the hotel bar where we were promptly given free drinks because we were newlyweds. Awesome, huh? We left out after breakfast the next morning for our long drive to Florida. We arrived at our resort (Disney's Coronado Springs) in the evening.

DAY 1 | NC TO FL


I LOVED our resort. Coronado Springs has a spanish/colonial Mexico theme. Our room was in "Casitas" area. At check in, we received balloons, a signed photo of Mickey & Minnie (which I accidentally threw away), an invitation to a champagne toast, and "happily ever after" honeymoon buttons to wear around the parks. We went to the Laguna bar on our first night to receive our complimentary champagne.


Yes, I left my wedding hair intact for a full day after the wedding. It was just so pretty... and so full of hairspray! 


I'm pretty particular about vacation planning and our honeymoon was no exception. I knew Brandon would not enjoy having to stick to a set-in-stone plan, so I tried to go easy on him. My one rule was that we had dinner reservations for each night (reservations fill up quickly at Disney World... don't even bother trying most restaurants without one!). I thought that was a fair compromise and Brandon didn't complain. I made sure to add the park hopper option to our tickets, too, so that we could visit multiple parks per day. 

We also tested out the Disney Dining Plan, which essentially meant that our food was priced as part of our package and we had a certain number of credits to use during our stay. Though I think we could have been picky and eaten for cheaper without the plan, I am so glad we did the DDP for our honeymoon. It allowed us freedom to choose awesome restaurants that we never would have tried otherwise. Let me tell you, we ate some amazing things. It was a relief not to think about how much we were spending on food. 

DAY 2 | DISNEY'S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS & EPCOT

Disney's Hollywood Studios was our first stop on day two of our honeymoon. I was beyond excited for Brandon to enter a Disney park for the first time. I think he was a pretty big fan, except for when we rode Tower of Terror. After that, he looked like this for a little while:


In all fairness, I looked a bit unhappy after riding Star Tours. Simulator rides and I do not agree on any level. Yuck.

We saw Indiana Jones and the Muppets, sat in on the American Idol Experience, ate at Toy Story Pizza Planet, and rode Aerosmith's Rockin' Rollercoaster. For dinner, we switched gears and went to Epcot.


I wanted our first dinner at Disney to be special, so I made us reservations at Biergarten. I knew Brandon would love the all you can eat German fare. It was a really fun atmosphere. And if you don't believe me about restaurants booking up... when we arrived for our seating they were not accepting any walk ins for the rest of the night.


We planned on sticking around for the fireworks at 9, but we were both exhausted and went back to the resort to get some sleep before hitting Animal Kingdom the next morning.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Give Me Your Forever

Ohh, I've been slacking on my music posts lately. But here's a song that truly is worth sharing. I first discovered it through my friend Meridith who was considering using it as her first dance song at her wedding. Ultimately she and Will chose another song, but this one is still beautiful! I really love the lyrics.

FOREVER (Ben Harper)


What do you think? Are you a Ben Harper fan?

I am really excited to tell you that next week I'll be sharing my favorite Coldplay songs in anticipation of going to their concert in Atlanta on July 2nd! I have been so busy that I haven't had time to get excited yet, so let me officially declare that I am excited. My friend George and I saw them in Charlotte three years ago and I can't wait to see them again. They're one of my favorite bands of all time and hands down the best large-scale concert I've ever attended. :)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Week(end)

It was a very long week and not one of my favorites on record. I worked a lot, stayed exhausted, stayed grumpy, and wanted to sleep all day every day. I didn't take photos, save for one:


Before you ask... YES it is absolutely necessary to have this much ice cream in our freezer right now. I'm off to eat some more before another stressful week begins...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

RECIPE: Pesto & Goat Cheese Pasta

Surprise! It is not Wednesday, yet here I am to share another wonderful recipe with you. I am currently obsessed with this pasta. It may be my very favorite thing I've made this year! The original recipe came from one of my favorite blogs, but I added a few things to it to make it even better!


PESTO & GOAT CHEESE PASTA (serves 4)
1/2 lb angel hair pasta
2 chicken breasts
8 oz. jar pesto
3.5 oz container crumbled goat cheese
3/4 c sliced baby portobella mushrooms
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1 clove garlic
3/4 c grape tomatoes

Grill your chicken and season however you like. If you don't want to grill the chicken breasts, cook them on the stove top with a little italian seasoning. Set aside. Follow package directions to cook your pasta. In the meantime, sauté mushrooms, onions, and garlic in olive oil or butter on medium heat until onions are tender. How many mushrooms you use is really your preference. I also used a red onion one time instead of a yellow... still tasted delicious.

Slice your grape tomatoes in half lengthwise. Again, how many you use is your preference. Cut your chicken into small pieces or thin strips. Add tomatoes and chicken to pan. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the entire jar of pesto. Stir to combine. Pour in the cheese crumbles and stir until they're melted.

Now, either stir pasta into the pan and combine everything together or divide out pasta and top with pesto mixture. If you love pesto, goat cheese, or good food I think you'll be a fan of this recipe. :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Rainy Wedding Day: Brandon + Hannah

As we come to the end of the rainy day wedding series, I leave you with a few of my favorite photos: the ones with the bride and groom. :)


This photo was taken less than an hour before the wedding. It was extremely difficult to coordinate in the rain and with a dead cell phone, but we got it! And we got it without seeing each other!


Did Brandon have the cutest socks or what? I found them at Express, on clearance for less than $5!


(All images courtesy of Boy & Girl Photography, which no longer exists.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Perfect Little Dresser

When I first moved to Greensboro, I posted about the paint and the furniture and the numerous Ikea finds that inhabit my little apartment. Now, nearly a year later, things have changed a bit. A second person lives here and we've acquired a lot more stuff!

When brandon moved in he (obviously) brought his wardrobe with him. Now, I'm in the habit of leaving my off-season clothes at my parents' house and I change them out twice a year (ie: right now all of my winter clothes and coats are in my bedroom at their house). This was a foreign idea to Brandon because his clothes are "year round" aka he doesn't have enough clothes to split his wardrobe seasonally. Am I crazy here or are there other people like me out there? Anyway...

When he moved in, I knew we needed more room for clothes. I had a small Ikea dresser in the closet but my clothes were already spilling out of it and his hadn't even arrived yet! I decided to turn over the small dresser to him and bring the larger one from my parents' house for my clothes. My dad took some time to repaint it and spruced it up for me (thanks, Dad!) and it arrived in Greensboro the week before our wedding.

It is situated on the wall across from our bed and I love it dearly, not just because it contains half of my wardrobe! If I'm being honest, it doesn't even contain half. My clothes also take over about 90% of the hanging space in the closet. I didn't want the top of the dresser to become a landing space for junk that tends to accumulate around here. I figured if I decorated it I would have to keep it tidy. So that's what I did...


1. These candlesticks actually don't belong here but since they were there when I took the photo I decided to include them. They're meant for the dining room table. I think Brandon found them at Lowes Foods when he was shopping to make me dinner on Valentine's Day. aww.

2. Framed photo #1 came from Michaels, where it was 40% off (their frames always seem to be on sale). It's difficult to see because of the glare, but in this frame is a photo of us holding the chalkboard on our wedding day. It will be upgraded every year as we reach a new anniversary. Aww again.

3. This etc. jar was on clearance at Target. I had to have it in case stuff does randomly start accumulating on the dresser. I can hide it in the jar!

4. My favorite thing on our dresser is this vase (of sorts) that came from tuesday morning. I love the individual test tubes to hold the stems. There are real flowers in it now but I'll probably switch to fake once these die.

5. The best deal on the dresser is this serving tin from Target... meant for outdoor dining, I think. It was originally priced around $25 but only cost me $8.

6. Framed photo #2 was another Target clearance find. The color of the frame matches our walls almost perfectly! I thought it was a unique shape and who doesn't want another photo of themselves to look at? haha.

7. And last but not least, a candle... one that actually belongs. Here's a nifty story: I've had this particular candle since 2008. It came from Big Lots and has traveled with me through three different apartments. And it's still going! I don't burn candles in the bedroom very often.

... So, that's my perfect little dresser. I'm quite proud. Oh, and if you gave us a Target gift card for a wedding gift then thanks for 3, 5, and 6. :)

RECIPE: Hannah's Cheddar Ranch Mashed Potatoes

I'll be honest. These potatoes aren't really anything special. I started making them years ago as the result of an unfortunate double-baked potato experiment (If the recipe says to let something cool completely, let it cool completely!)

Anyway, these are my favorite potatoes. They're one of my comfort foods. They're easy. They're customizable. They don't even have a real recipe. What am I doing?


HANNAH'S CHEDDAR RANCH MASHED POTATOES (serves however many you want!)
red potatoes, peeled & cut into cubes
milk
butter/margarine
sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese
dry ranch dip mix
salt & pepper

There are no measurements. For that, i am sorry. Here's the gist of it all: Put potato cubes into a large pot and fill with water until potatoes are just covered. Bring to a boil and boil for 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Drain water. Pour in milk and add a couple of tablespoons of butter. Mash with a potato masher.

Continue adding milk until you achieve your desired consistency (some people like chunkier potatoes, some like them more creamy). You could use real cream instead of milk if you're being fancy (or fatty). Add 2 or 3 whopping spoonfuls of sour cream, a handful of cheese, a few shakes of ranch dip mix, and finally a little salt and pepper. Stir until well incorporated.

Continue adding delicious ingredients (aka: cheese and ranch) until it tastes right.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Question

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Fathers

Sunday was Father's Day. I thought I'd let all the hype die down before I mentioned it here on the blog. I love Father's Day because it celebrates two of my favorite people on the planet:

MY DAD


My dad is amazing because he is the sole provider for my mother and brother (and me sometimes, until recently). He works hard at his job and at home to take care of all of his responsibilities and even some responsibilities that aren't his.

MY GRANDDADDY


Granddaddy is my mom's dad. He is by far the coolest 89 year old you'll ever meet. He (still) works as a licensed optician three days a week. He can play almost any instrument and still teaches some youngsters who want to learn. On my wedding day he had a blast and made tons of inappropriate jokes that kept everyone laughing.

These two guys celebrate birthdays in December (60 and 90!) and I can't wait to celebrate them again at the end of the year. I'll also mention here that there are lots of dads that I love, not just these two! My husband, for one, does not get to celebrate Father's Day with his daughter but he's still a father just the same. And I have a new father-in-law who's pretty great, too! And my new brother-in-law Josh is a father! My dad's dad is 94 and though we have never been super close, he's still a father worth celebrating. :) Thank you, dads, for all that you do for me and for the people that I love.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Week(end)

Yet another good week here in North Carolina. But what week couldn't be good when it starts with jewelry!?

I recently read on one of my favorite blogs that you can get a replica of the famous J.Crew bubble necklace via eBay for only $15! At a 90% discount, I couldn't pass it up. I ordered it a while ago, but it took a long time to travel from China to Greensboro!


On Wednesday night, I had the opportunity to grab dinner and shop a bit with two wonderful friends: Dianna and Shannon. Can you guess where we ate based on the photo above? Texas Roadhouse is so yummy! :)

This week was the start of our summer social media contest at work. Each intern was assigned a different product line to promote via Facebook, Twitter, etc. We drew randomly and I selected Motives! Motives is Market America's cosmetics line and I love it! I am thrilled with my product line!

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If you feel so inclined, go ahead and check out Motives on Facebook and on Twitter. Oh, and on Instagram. Though a good marketer can promote anything whether they like it or not, I must say that I really do like the Motives line. I've already purchased several products, my favorite of which is the eye base.


The big news of the week is that my brother-in-law got married! I now have a sister-in-law and a nephew! I was obsessed with the beautiful stained glass in the church. But who wants to see stained glass?

This photo was snapped during the bride and groom's first dance... not by me, of course. I was standing beside Brandon watching him tear up (no joke).

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On that beautiful note, I think I'll end this post. I've been writing it for over two hours because I've been trying to watch Gilmore Girls at the same time. Hope you all had lovely weeks! 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Things I Love: Going to the Movies


LOVE going to the movies. I love movies in general, but the experience of going to a theater is something that I never tire of. I am always freezing in a movie theater, so I always bring a jacket. I rarely buy concessions, preferring to "sneak in" a bottled Coke and some candy. If anything is going to tempt me, it's going to be the nachos. I show my student id to receive a discount on my ticket. I carefully watch every preview and I try to guess each of them before the title is revealed. Seriously, it's a game I play.

Yes, going to the movies is wonderful (albeit expensive nowadays). I would go every weekend if I could! Last weekend, Brandon and I went to see Prometheus in theaters for my birthday. It was awesome... it would not be as awesome had we been sitting in our living room watching it on a 40 inch screen.

The real point of this post is to share with you some movies that I absolutely cannot wait to see this year. there are so many good movies coming out! Let me know if I've missed any must-see flicks! I'll start with the two greatest:

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES | JULY 20 | I must see it. At midnight. Preferably in IMAX. With nachos. Is it just me or does the villain for this film look truly terrifying? The joker was creepy and weird, but this guy is going to give me nightmares!


SKYFALL | NOVEMBER 9 | It feels like I've been waiting forever for my favorite blonde bond to return and I am excited. This is another "I'm going to the midnight premiere even though I have to be at work at 8:30 the next morning" kind of movies.


<<<<>>>>

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER | JUNE 22 | I'm really curious about this one... and it comes out next weekend! Honest Abe killing the Edward Cullens of the world? I'll pay $9 to see that!


THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN | JULY 6 | I'm a bit skeptical about this because I really loved the old Spider-Man movies (yes, even the third one that everyone hated). But I'll give it a try because Andrew Garfield is cute and so is Emma Stone. And they date in real life!


THE BOURNE LEGACY | AUGUST 3 | I will miss Matt Damon, but I still think this is going to be awesome. I think the tagline "there was never just one" is very clever.


TAKEN 2 | OCTOBER 5 | I must see this in theaters solely based on the fact that Liam Neeson was a serious badass in Taken and if this one is half as good as that one then I will be very happy.


THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY | DECEMBER 14 | Confession: I read The Hobbit in the fifth grade. I don't remember anything about it. I haven't read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and I've only seen the first two films. However, I can appreciate a truly epic cinema event and I feel that this is such a film.


THE GREAT GATSBY | DECEMBER 25 | Merry Christmas to me! Baz Luhrmann, Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Maguire... I knew I had to see this as soon as I saw the names associated with it.


There are others that I could name (like the Katy Perry movie and This Is 40), but I think I've gotten the point across that a) I like to go to the movies and b) there are lots of good ones to choose from this year. Which ones will you see?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

RECIPE: Dry Onion Soup Mix

As I mentioned last week, I found out at the last minute that I needed dry onion soup mix for a recipe. Instead of driving to Harris Teeter at midnight or 7 am, I improvised. And I will never purchase dry onion soup mix again!

DRY ONION SOUP MIX (yields 1 packet)
4 T dried onion flakes
1.5 t dried parsley
1 t onion powder
1/2 t celery seed
1/2 t salt
1/2 t sugar
1/4 t pepper

Combine with sour cream and use as a dip or use for your favorite recipe!

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Rainy Wedding Day: Details

Everybody seems interested in wedding details. When I attend a wedding, the most common question asked of me is "what did the dress look like?" I've already talked about my dress, though. Moving on to the next most common questions:
  • What did they give as favors?
  • Was the cake any good?
  • What kind of flowers were in the bouquet?
  • Were the bridesmaids dresses ugly? (Thankfully, this doesn't apply to my wedding!)
  • Was the reception pretty?
  • How was the food?
...and so on and so forth. You get the idea! Our wedding was small, but it still had plenty of unique details that I think made it quite memorable!

This timeline of our relationship was handed out to guests instead of a ceremony program. Good thing, because the ceremony only lasted about 6 minutes!


We chose popcorn as a favor for our guests. I picked out 20 different flavors from The Popcorn Fanatic: everything from "beer" to "spicy crab dip!" I found an old Pepsi crate in the basement and thought it would be great to hold the favors.

My mother won the argument about whether or not I was going to make my own bouquet for the wedding.


We ended up having Rae's Flower Shoppe arrange my bouquet, flowers for the chapel, and Brandon's boutonnière and they were beautiful!


Remember the chalkboard that I made? Here it is in all of its rain-splattered glory. :) We're planning to go on a cruise for our one-year anniversary. I can't wait to hold the same chalkboard with "one" written on it as we stand over the caribbean sea!


I designed the menus for dinner at Milner's. The food was delicious, as always. My favorite thing on their menu? The cheese dip trio:


I seriously could have eaten this appetizer alone: no entrée necessary! (I did, however, eat an entrée and it was delicious. Brides who don't eat on their wedding day are crazy!)

And my favorite detail of the day: umbrellas!


In completely related news, I'm blogging once again at Romance in a Glance today! Read my post for more rainy wedding day info.