Monday, January 24, 2011

Let's Fall in Love: All Dressed Up and Somewhere Important to Be.

My friends were dressed.  My hair and make up were almost complete.  Suddenly, what felt like just minutes after waking up, it was time for me to put on The Dress. I was anxious (no surprise) about the dress.  I had HUGE anxiety in the month leading up to the wedding about how it would fit, how I would look, and how all the changes I made to it would work out in actuality.

The Dress was hung in the doorway of the suite, out of the flurry of the food and make up happening in the rest of the room.  It stared at me all morning.  My friends dutifully oohed and aahed accordingly, while the knot in my stomach continued to wind up.  As my hair and makeup moved towards being finished, Bmaid Adrienne offered me part of a Jimmy John's sandwich and champagne.  I could barely speak, much less eat.  My nerves were officially shot.

And the dress continued to stare me down.

But alas... the time for stalling and hand-wringing was over.  No turning back.

So St MOB grabbed the dress from where it was hanging in the front room and met me in the other room.  Our photographer, being a dude I've known since middle school and all, stayed out of the way for the undies parts.  But man, getting in that dress was pretty smooth.  I stepped into the crinoline and the dress in one sweet maneuver, and I only almost fell over twice. I don't know why women gave up wearing ballgowns every day.

I stayed upright, and The Dress was on.  A couple of my friends peeked around the corner from the bathroom where they were finishing their make-up.  I will never forget the matching expressions on their faces, the same sweet, excited smiles.  I recognized it from their own wedding days.  There's just something magical about a girl in her wedding dress, and much to my surprise, I was no exception.  

It sounds so ridiculous and cheesy, but it really was magic.  Mom zipped me in and fussed with the buttons I had borrowed from her own wedding dress, and there I was.  

You know the funny thing?  All that anxiety, the nerves, the worry over this damn dress just ... evaporated.  The knot of nerves in my stomach eased for the first time all day.  All the tears I had held back, all the angsty emails I had exchanged with friends, well they all just faded away.  Before this moment, it was just a white dress, but not anymore.  I was standing in a queit hotel room on a bright September morning, in my wedding gown.  That's the moment I became a Bride, and there was nothing in the world that could bother me.

At least, maybe after some adjusting...
Twenty-something odd layers of crinoline and tulle don't just fall into place by themselves, you know.

It was a serious undertaking.

Which would be nothing compared to what the bustle would entail.  There's sheer terror in Seester's eyes, people.  There were over twenty ties under there, and she's really good at math.  She knew what she was in for later.

So after what felt like hours of fluffing ...

And tugging ...

And okay, maybe some lingering nerves ...

Everything fell into place.  For real.

I put on the jewelry I had carefully chosen for the day: vintage pearl earrings and cocktail ring, and the heart-shaped pendant set with the diamonds from my grandmother's wedding rings.  

Mom kissed me and told me how beautiful I looked.

My friends nodded, smiled, giggled in approval.  Mom might have squealed a little bit.

Kate helped me into my Something Blues.

And I was finally a BRIDE!
And only just a little excited.

I was ready to go get married (or dressed, at least).  But first, there was a very important reveal just around the corner.

A very important man was waiting to see me.

In case you missed it ...
I bought a dress and completely changed it.
We had a marathon final week of engagement.
I giggled my way through our rehearsal.
Mr LikesIt got grilled at our rehearsal dinner.
The groomsmen ran amok in downtown Springfield. 
The girls got gorgeous
We exchanged mushy wedding-day gifts
The guys got fancy and then got dancy.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The cure for Spring Fever.

It's cold here in the Midwest.  Snowy, grey, and gross ... normal for winter around here.  Snow quickly loses it's appeal after Christmas, yet St Louis was lucky enough to get eight inches this week.  Hooray.  I am so ready for spring.

Thankfully, Mr LikesIt and I have some relief from the season to look forward to.

Gorgeous Seaside, Florida.  We finally booked our first mini-moon trip and I could not be more excited.  We have been there once before, for a wedding, and it is just beautiful.  One of the most picturesque little towns you'll ever see.  There's a sweet little town square, yummy restaurants, quaint little shops, and of course, a beautiful white sand beach.

If it looks familiar, it's for good reason.

The Truman Show was filmed in Seaside.  It's that picture-perfect.

We've rented a little beach house with an ocean-view for a long weekend of relaxing.  Temps there in February range in the 60s and 70s, not laying-on-the-beach warm, but certainly better than St Louis.  We'll be close to the town square, so renting bikes and taking walks on the beach are definitely in our future.  There will also be plenty of wine, reading, napping, and brunching.  We fell in love with the area when we were there before, so we're both really looking forward to going back. 
First mini-moon is officially set!  Hopefully the first of many travels together!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cookie Pie

Take a look at this, friends.

 Believe it or not, this is a WW recipe.  Yay healthy!  Or at least, less fatty than usual.  So it has that going for it.  Plus it's suuuuuper easy to throw together, which is why I personally feel it's a stretch to even call it a recipe in the first place.  It's more in the "opening and stirring" category of cooking.  All assembly, no skill required.  So there's that too.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

26 low-fat Chips Ahoy cookies
1 cup skim milk
1 (9-oz) graham cracker crust
1 tub Cool Whip Free

Dip eight cookies in milk and arrange in a single layer in the crust.  Top with about a third of the Cool Whip.  Repeat with two more layers each of cookies and Cool Whip.  Crumble two cookies and scatter on top.  Cover and chill eight hours before serving. from Weight Watchers.
  It's definitely a dessert that looks more impressive than what it actually takes to make.  It's great for an easy chocolate fix, or to impress your mother-in-law.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chicken Avocado Boats

One of my favorite foods on the planet is avocado.  As soon as I see a recipe that incorporates it, I feel compelled to try it. After making this, I am so glad I live by that guideline.  My MIL works at the library part-time, and she has a wonderful habit of sending me home with the cookbooks they either remove from circulation or people donate but they can't use.  Some books are hit or miss, others I can't wait to use.  I saw this recipe the first time I flipped through this particular book, this is the first recipe I stumbled upon, and I was sold. 

Chicken Avocado Boats
3 large ripe avocados
6 T lemon juice
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 T grated onion
1/4 tsp celery salt
1 tsp garlic powder (or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups diced cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup shredded 2% cheddar cheese
    Slice each avocado in half, lengthwise.  Remove each pit and sprinkle each with 1T lemon juice.  Preheat oven to 350.  Combine mayonnaise, onion, celery salt, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Stir in chicken and mix until well-coated.  Drain excess lemon juice from avocado halves.  Fill avocado halves with equal amounts chicken mixture.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Arrange avocados in a single layer in a baking dish.  Add water to the dish to a 1/2 inch depth.  Bake 15 minutes until cheese melts and chicken is heated through.  Serve warm with a green salad. from the Treasury of Creative Cooking
    These are, simply put, awesome.  One or two make a serving, though if you're watching fat and calories, one is best.  The good news is that they're filling, especially if you eat it with a green salad and some brown rice on the side.

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Let's Fall in Love: Super Manly Hang Out Time.

     Oh yeah, remember the wedding?  Remember how I was writing recaps and all that?  I got sidetracked with Reverb and the holidays, but now it's time to return to our regularly scheduled recaps.  If you need to catch up, you can read the progress of our wedding day so far here:

    I bought a dress and completely changed it.
    We had a marathon final week of engagement.
    I giggled my way through our rehearsal.
    Mr LikesIt got grilled at our rehearsal dinner.
    The groomsmen ran amok in downtown Springfield. 
    The girls got gorgeous
    We exchanged mushy wedding-day gifts.

    The girls got dressed in one suite and meanwhile, on the other side of the hotel, Mr LikesIt and his groomsmen had arrived.  Whereas my suite was relatively subdued, Mr LikesIt and the guys turned the morning into a raging dance party.  No wonder he spent so much time the week before making a playlist.

    You see that blue cooler in the background on the right?  Not a cooler.  That's a speaker.  The white trunk to the left (you know, the one a dead body could fit into) was the cooler.  The boys obviously bad big plans for the trolley ride later on.

    Now, from my understanding, it doesn't take much to put on a tuxedo, so Mr LikesIt and his friends had ample time to partake in some liquid courage and goof off.  Both things are highly developed skills in this set of friends. 

    So they got dressed.

     And then the goofing off commenced.  As you can see, the aviators we bought for all of them were a big hit.

    Just like at my end of the hall, the morning flew by.  Suddenly, it was time to leave.  The groom and his men headed to the trolley first to catch a ride just a few blocks away for pre-ceremony photos at the church and state capitol grounds.
    The boys were off and away, which meant it really was almost time for me to get dressed.  Almost.
    (photos care of Matt DeBackere Photography and multiple groomsmen)

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

    When I first purchased the 500 Cupcakes cookbook, I was really excited to try one of everything.  I've since made three of them, this being the only successful endeavor.  I am giving the book one more try to win me over ... three out of five, if you will.  In the meantime, these are a keeper.
    Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes 
    1 cup unsalted butter, softened
    1 cup superfine sugar
    2 cups self-rising flour
    4 eggs
    1/4 tsp nutmeg
    1 cup mashed ripe bananas
    1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

      Cream Cheese Frosting
      1 cup cream cheese
      1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
      1 T lemon juice
      1 tsp vanilla extract
        Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare cupcake tin with paper liners (standard or mini).  Combine the butter, sugar, flour, eggs, and nutmeg in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth, 2-3 minutes.  Stir in mashed banana and chocolate chips.  Spoon batter into cups and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove pans from oven and cool for five minutes, then remove cupcakes to wire rack to cool completely.For frosting:  Slowly beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with a mixer until it is soft and smooth.  Add sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Beat briskly until smooth and well-combined.  Swirl frosting onto the completely cooled cupcakes. 

        These turned out well enough that they are saving the rest of the cookbook from being booted entirely.  They make better minis than full-size cakes.  Otherwise they get too dry.


        Saturday, January 1, 2011

        I hate fails.

        I made cupcakes for the New Year's party we went to last night.  I was super excited about them ... chocolate chili cakes with vodka-infused buttercream, from my 500 Cupcakes cookbook.  Schmancy stuff.  The batter tasted great and was super easy to put together.   I super love my stand mixer for things like this.  Baking has never been so easy, even if the end result turns out to be a crapcake.

         At least they were cute.

        But that's about all they had going for them.  Flavor-wise, they were pleasant.  I liked the spice, and the frosting was awesome.  But they were dry as briquettes.  I brought them to the party anyway, considering alcohol makes pretty good flavor-enhancement.  Most were eaten, but we still brought more home than I have when I baked for Mr LikesIt's friends before.  So much potential, so gross.

        This is not the first time I have baked a fail from this book before.  I am beginning to distrust it, to be honest.  I don't know how inclined I am to try the other 497 in the book now. 

        Let's just hope this bad turnout isn't a bad omen for the cooking I'll do in 2011!