Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sole Sister

When I was younger, having a sister wasn't necessarily a shining light in my life. I had to share a room for the large majority of my childhood and all through my teenage years before heading off to college. While I occasionally liked having another girl around, my sister is six years younger than me and at a young age, that doesn't transfer all that well. I usually felt like I had a barnacle attached to me or I had a moving shadow. When I got to college and Annie entered the high school stage, things began to gradually start changing. When I reflect back, I am blessed that we have those six years between us. It look us a little longer to become close but those years helped alleviate some of the stresses of comparing to one another, competing for the same things and going through the same stages. The break in age has given us patient hearts, loving words and greater understanding.

As I get older and gain more wonderful family members, I am continually grateful for my sister. She truly knows me well and would go to bat for me whatever the cause. Annie is the most loyal and faithful friend that I have ever had. As we both celebrated birthdays this month, I couldn't help but write a little bit about this special lady. She for sure has become the shining star that I didn't quite recognize all those years ago. I can't wait to see all of the amazing things that she does in this world.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Scrapbooking 101

Scrapbooking is a hobby that went from pasting some pictures onto a piece of construction paper to fully electronic designed books. I like to think of myself as a scrapbooker that is somewhere in the middle of these two creative extremes. My mom got me into scrapbooking when I was an 8th grader since many of her friends were Creative Memories consultants. Sadly, Creative Memories just shut down their paper scrapbooking business this past year due to everything moving toward electronic styled books. While my layout tastes have changed throughout the years, I still love the physical book full of stickers, paper and picture prints. Truthfully, scrapbooking is time consuming. But it's a great excuse for a girls weekend away or a craft desk in your basement. Your family, friends or kids will be thankful for your hard work when they are able to relive those memories of the first day of school, that trip to the mountains or a baby being born. Scrapbooks are a beautiful way to keep these memories bright and vibrant. And if you are like me, you need your memory jogged every once in awhile!

Favorite Tools:

- Cricut Machine. I have blogged about this machine in previous posts. This is a must have for a scrapbooker. It is an investment but you will be thankful later after seeing all of the perfectly cut letters, shapes and designs. You can program the machine based on the thickness of paper and the complexity of the design. You load a usb "cartridge" into the Cricut and chose the shapes and size that you want. Then watch the Cricut flawlessly cut your desired and needed creative elements. The machine is also great for cards, stencils and other various needs.

- Sticker Maker. After the Cricut cuts some beautiful shapes, one option is to make them into stickers. Just run the letters or shapes through the sticker maker and the tool puts a sticky material on the back. We use a Xyron sticker maker and love it.

- Cutters. You can't scrapbook without a few picture cutters. Make sure to get something that will help achieve a clean, straight edge. One cutter that we use is a Friskars cutter and it's a great tool to have around the house for even just everyday needs.

The black letters and red die cuts were done with a Cricut machine.
Favorite Designs:

- Using large letters in a title form is a favorite style of mine. I also often use relevant paper blocks to create patterns and fun visual color schemes.

- I like to add fun elements to my pages. Sometimes this is through stickers, embellishments or random finds like thread or twine. Using some of these pieces gives the page depth and interesting texture.

- Matting pictures is one of my go-to styles. Even if the page is simple, pick the picture that you most want to pop out. By matting in a color that matches the overall colors in the picture, it helps the viewer's eye to start with that most important image.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Pork Chops in the Red

Pork chops can be a hit or miss.  Looking for an easy to cook, juicy pork chop, well here you go.  Pork Chops in the Red are chops cooked in enchilada sauce and spices in the oven, that's it!  Told you it was simple.

Bringing southwest flavor to your meal without being overpowering, we love the recipe.  It comes from a Sedona recipe book my parents purchased for me on their Arizona trip.  If you enjoy the flavors of the southwest try another recipe from the book, Taco Potatoes posted on January 31st, 2014.

These easy juicy chops are perfect for a dinner when you just want to pop some meat into the oven.  Then pull together a basic side like rice, potatoes, or pasta as a base to pour the sauce (and there's a lot of extra) on and serve with the pork chops.  We prefer the mild enchilada sauce since it has kick without knocking you over and still allows you to taste the meat.  But those of you out there with spice tolerance go ahead and kick it up a notch, and experiment with adding southwest flavor to your pork chops. 

4 Pork Chops
1 can (15oz.) Enchilada Sauce
1 tsp dried Oregano
1 tsp ground Cumin
Garlic Powder to taste 

1. Place pork chops in a single layer in a baking pan.
2. Pour sauce over all the pork chops.  Sprinkle oregano, cumin and garlic powder evenly over chops.
3. Cover tightly with foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until chops are thoroughly cooked.
4. Serve with pan drippings spooned over each chop.

Friday, February 21, 2014


Since Marie and I usually plan many of our posts in advance, I thought it might be fun to write a "current state of affairs" post. Plus, I'm cooped up inside and this is my home office view for the day. What you are seeing is the lovely state we call home. Also known as Minnesnowta, Minnearctic, Winterland and #worstwinterever.

This winter has been horrible. There have been weeks of bone chilling cold (seriously, no one should live somewhere that gets to -50 degrees with windchill!) and long days of snow. The upside for many has been snowdays from school and work from home days, sometimes a nice surprise break in life. This winter may be dragging on with no end in sight... but I have some fun ideas for you! Browse through the blog if you haven't read through it in awhile or check out our Pinterest page. Plan out some recipes, find a good book to read or pick your next craft project!

Below are a few links to some more great snow day activities!! 

Macaroni Snowflakes

Magazine Silhouettes

Ice Lanterns

Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Wedding Day" Bachelorette Party

In an effort to come up with a bachelorette party theme unique and new for my best friend, I created a "Wedding Day" Bachelorette Party.  The idea is to make a party that plays off of all the traditions of the Big Day.  Incorporating the wedding colors, and games that cater to both the theme and fun entertainment are key.  Here's all the details you need to throw a fun bachelorette party for the bride, as a memorable precursor to an unforgettable day.

*Note: Most of these need participation from the guests before the date of the party, so make sure to notify in advance to give ample time to prepare.

Colors: Use the Wedding Colors
-Implemented purple and green colors to represent the wedding colors and a splash of pink for a girly accent. 

Bride: White, Party: Purple
Attire: Bride wears white and guests wear an outfit in the bridesmaid dress color.
-Ladies wore purple and bride white. Pictured on left.
-Great opportunity to have the bride wear a fun veil.
Wedding Program, Bouquet for Toss, Cupcakes

 Guest Favors: 
-Tumbler cup or decorated glass for use during "Toasts" game and to take home.  Winners of Bouquet Toss and Exchanging of Rings keep game materials as prizes.  

I'm a big fan of balloons and streamers and no party would be a Marie party without them, so to add some flair and draw attention to the main table I created a backdrop out of them. (Pictured above)
-Bridal tribute: made a personalized sign using Wordle online to display. Sign contains attendees names, wedding terminology and traditions with fun facts about the bride. (Pictured)
-Wedding program: similar to a ceremony program display a program of the order of the events for the evening and those involved. (Pictured)
-Appetizers and punch (mock cocktail hour) or a sit down dinner (representing reception dinner)
-For dessert small cake or cupcakes depending on what bride is serving at the wedding. Cupcakes were the decision in Melanie's case.

1) Exchanging of Rings - Ring Toss
Bouquet for Toss, Bridal Tribute
- Like the bride and groom who exchange rings at the ceremony, guests will partner up.  For rings I chose large glow in the dark necklaces and each person has one.  Partners line up in two lines across from each other then step back a step, each time they exchange the rings without dropping them.  Winners are the pair who are furthest apart without dropping. 

2) Bouquet Toss
-Make a bouquet of fake flowers to mimic the wedding party bouquets, making sure to wrap the fake flowers in fabric to preserve.  
-Can display in a vase on the table for added decoration until use and good prize for lady who catches.  

3) The Wedding Toasts - Drink Game & Story Game
The toasts at the wedding are usually humorous and sentimental stories given by those closest to the bride and groom, finishing with a raising of the glasses.  To copy this tradition, you play a combination of two games that deal with drinking and stories.  

Name that Drink Game: Goal of the game is for the guests to drink the alcohol then guess the brand and flavor on paper.  After trying 6-9 alcohols and guessing, the host will read the answers and points are tallied.
Shot Glass Option
a) Materials you need: assortment of alcohols, tumblers/glasses/shot glasses, paper and pencils.  The host will collect everyone's tumblers and add 1 drink at a time.  If play with shot glasses (cheap at Dollar Store) they can be poured and categorized in columns ahead of time.  For a group of 8-10 you'll only need 1-2 bottles or cans of each brand of alcohol depending on size.
*Note: Even if offered in small amounts you don't want to chug the alcohol so play the story game in between each drink round! 
b) Based on the brides personality and alcohol likes you can choose hard, girly drinks or beer. 
Example: 14 point Game (2 points each)
Mikes Hard Lemonade, Michelob - Golden Light, Coors - Light, Smirnoff Ice,  Woodchuck Cider - Amber, Mikes Hard Lemonade- Cranberry, Bud light Lime  
Story Game: To replicate the speeches made at the reception, each guest prepares a story to share about the bride.  The host reads a story aloud (submitted beforehand by attendees) and everyone writes down their guess for who wrote which story.  Definitely some laughable moments.

4) "The Wedding Night" - Lingerie Game
After the wedding is over the newlyweds get to enjoy their wedding night and so of course the bride needs some adorable sexy lingerie, at least for a little while. (Wink)  But seriously, brides love getting lingerie pieces.
-The lingerie game, a popular one at bachelorette parties asks each of the attendees to bring an undie, unwrapped to put in a shared bag or wrapped with no tag.  The undie should be of the brides taste, but also represent the personality of the giver.  The bride then has to guess who brought what undie.  If wrong, the bride drinks.  If right, the guest drinks.   

Wedding Gift Opening
Just like the official wedding weekend finishes with a gift opening the party should too.  To close the bachelorette party before you go out or call it a night you open the remaining gifts, usually lingerie pieces or sets, but gifts for the honeymoon are also fitting.

I had such a great time planning and coming up with the games and decorations that were uniquely special for the bride!  Try making up your own theme too and personalize it for the bride, get those creative juices flowing.  But, feel free to implement one of these ideas for the planning of your own bachelorette party, or go ahead and throw your own "Wedding Day" theme!

Other bachelorette party ideas: 
Western Hoedown Theme
Beauty and the Beast Theme

Click on our other bridal shower themes: (more games, food & decor ideas)
She's Hooked Bridal Shower

Gifts for Bridal Shower/Bachelorette:
Bridal Memory Book  
Family Recipe Binder
I love you because...message frame

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Crash Hot Potatoes

Potatoes YUM! I could eat potatoes with dinner almost every night.  In the family I'm known as the potato lover.  At all the big meals I'm always the one to request a potato dish.  The variety of recipes you can make with potatoes are numerous, but there are always a few classics that find their way to our table. I tend to lean towards the simple when it comes to potatoes.  

A spin off of baked potatoes, these crispy small taters were devoured at our Christmas Eve meal.  Smaller than a baked potato, you can eat the whole thing instead of digging into the meat of a baked potato and being left with the skin. It's an easy side to make with minimal ingredients, yet still scrumptious. 

We kept it simple and added cheese on top of the potatoes, but feel free to douse them with bacon and sour cream too.  Mmmmm, I'm salivating just thinking about it.  I think this potato recipe has to definitely be added to my "Marie's Top Potato List"! Maybe it'll make yours?

Recipe by: Ree Drummond
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6

12 whole Small Round Potatoes
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil 
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Herb Of Choice (Opt)


Monday, February 17, 2014

A Presidential Memorial

In honor of President’s Day I thought I would focus on our most loved presidents.   Of the 44 United States Presidents we’ve had it can be difficult to arrange an order of favorites.   How do you order them when they all faced such different situations when serving our country?   Historians may disagree over an exact order, but there are a few clear favorites when it comes to those that lead our country.
My all-time favorite is Abraham Lincoln, a popular first choice for many.  I LOVE Lincoln! Any Lincoln paraphernalia I snatch up.  I got loads of books on Honest Abe and finally I could enjoy a good Lincoln movie during my lifetime, Daniel Day Lewis sure made a good Lincoln in my opinion.  

But President’s Day is about celebrating more than one president.  So with that in mind I’d also pick Teddy Roosevelt, who seemed so different than the typical president and intrigued me with the stories surrounding him in the history books.  And of course George Washington is typically at the top of lists for a favorite president.  As a founder of our nation, showing bravery on the battlefield, and smarts in office, it’s hard not to respect a man who guided our nation and set a precedent of when to step down.  And finally a fourth favorite among the 44 is typically Thomas Jefferson who had an integral part in drafting the Declaration of Independence, securing land to extend the United States’ power and creating a strong foundation for future generations to look back on.  

If you haven’t already guessed it, these are not only four of MY favorite presidents.  These four leaders of our nation have not only secured their place in our history books, but also in a hillside.  One of my favorite monuments honoring our past presidents, carved into the side of the Black Hills of South Dakota is Mount Rushmore.  This National Memorial is visited by nearly 3 million people a year who wish to marvel at the astounding man-made creation carved into nature’s creation.  When you stand at the base of this gigantic memorial it is hard not to be amazed.

"The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt."
Gutzon Borglum

Clearly I was not the only one to think that these were the best of the best in regards to our presidential leaders.  Even back in grade school when I visited this memorial on a family vacation I was captivated.  I'm looking forward to returning with my own family one day.  At first glance you might be thinking whoop dee doo, faces in a hillside isn’t all the impressive.  But when I said this memorial was huge I wasn’t exaggerating.  Curious about the size of the faces that grace the hillside, here are all the measurements that make up the enormity of the memorial. 

Mount Rushmore and the Avenue of Flags
Heads: 60 feet.
Nose: Washington’s is 21 feet the rest are approximately 20 feet.
Eyes: 11 feet wide.
Mouths: 18 feet wide

It’s not just the size that makes it impressive, although that’s a huge part of it; it’s the history behind the construction and the men it was dedicated to.  Check out more on the National Park website and plan a visit to Mount Rushmore to see it in person.  The photos truly don’t do it justice.  You’ll enjoy learning more about these four men, and you don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy it.  Learning about the construction, and the details and tools that went into perfecting the memorial will interest artists, mathematicians, teachers, kids, and touch anyone who is proud to be an American.  It seems only right that on this President’s Day we look back at four men that deserved a spot on Mount Rushmore and honor the lasting impact they had on our nation.  

P.S. I found those bobbleheads on the National Park website.  I mean look at these things!   Great gift ideas.... But I might have to treat myself and get a Lincoln, but the Teddy Roosevelt is mighty nice too.  Too many choices!   

Which president will get your head bobbing?

Friday, February 14, 2014

"I love you because..." Message Frame

In lieu of Valentine's Day this seemed the perfect craft to feature.  What a great time to promote sharing love with one another.  This frame doesn't only have to be displayed during February.  In fact it should be available to use all the time! Who doesn't love a surprise cute message from their loved one.  Especially for those of you out there who believe Valentine's Day has only been elevated to market cards, flowers, chocolate and jewelry, an "I love you because..." board allows you to share your love all year round, and it barely costs a thing.

I love our message frame! I'm totally one of those people that get a thrill out of leaving little love and appreciation notes for my friends and family.  After seeing this idea from Life Sweet Life Blog I had to make one.  My husband and I frequently write messages on it, about 5 days or so I'd say.  Our messages switch between humorous and sentimental.  It's just a simple, 30 second way to share your appreciation for your partner.

Whether it's "I love you woke up early to scrape the car off," or "I love you give me your left over Chipotle," everyone loves to feel appreciated. 

*Scrapbook Paper & Letter Stickers OR Printable Template
*Erasable Marker

You can easily make your own to fit your style of decor.  Maybe you want to make more of a holiday version by using red and pink colors, or heart paper to fit a Valentine's Day theme.  However, if you want it to serve as everyday decor the printable templates from Life Sweet Life are easily accessible and print nicely.  She has 5 colors to choose from with a chevron background.  Also, easy to convert to the size frame you wish to use.

You can share this with not only your partner, but your whole family too if you'd like.  Parents maybe you'll get a message from your kids surprising you with their gratefulness.  You can always hope. These also make great additions to wedding gifts to encourage the couple to share their love with one another.  You can even write a message to the couple on the gift.  So share the love.

Make yourself and your spouse, or boyfriend/girlfriend, an "I love you" message board.  It makes a sentimental gift that anyone can pull together.  

Take it upon yourself to spread the love and you're sure to get some back.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Weathered and Worn : Rustic Themed Wedding

I have helped numerous brides in some way, shape or form before they get married. I was a bit afraid that these past experiences would taint the joy of planning my own wedding. But thankfully, I couldn't have been more wrong. I am loving just about every minute of it as I finally get to put touches on a day that perfectly fits Joe and me! Be forewarned in advance that we are going to be blogging a decent amount about wedding ideas and fun this year. I know blogging will be an outlet for my ideas and also for all the creative inspirations that I wish I could incorporate. I mean seriously, Joe and I could have 10 weddings and I would never run out of color schemes, decorations and creative thoughts for each day. And I know Marie has a head full of ideas from her own wedding in 2012!

One of the most popular wedding styles today is having a rustic wedding look. While this isn't the route that we chose for our big day, I couldn't resist writing about it since there are endless amounts of cute ideas out there. If you are already married, you could use this theme for a birthday party, summer barbecue or an anniversary celebration. Since the rustic look is popular, you can find some great items at craft stores for at very affordable prices. The main ingredients for a rustic look are mason jars, burlap, wooden chalkboard signs and more mason jars.


  • Incorporate wood into the centerpieces to help create the perfect visual. You could use
    round wooden tree slabs or come up with some creative words for each table with scrabble pieces.
  • Mason jars are perfect for tea lights or floating candles. Add some twine or ribbon on the lip to spruce them up even more. If you browse Pinterest or are a DIY freak like myself, you can't help but come across hundreds of ideas for mason jars. Check out some more awesome ways to use these popular jars here.
  • Burlap table runners bring the look together and are easy to find. Michael's and Walmart sell whole spools of burlap or find some runners on craigslist from a former bride.
  • Using flowers in a rustic wedding look helps to make guests feel like they are fully immersed in the farmhouse, summer fields and shabby chic vibe that you are going for. Fill a few mason jars or bud vases with some wild flowers throughout the ceremony and reception space. You could even wrap the bouquets with some burlap ribbon or twine.

Creative Touches:

  • Another rage these days is chalkboard paint. You can turn any surface into a chalkboard with a bit of this magical stuff. Grab some old serving trays, frames or wood pieces from around the house or a thrift store and give them a quick coating. These make for sweet rustic signs for your beverage table, dessert table, menu or the schedule of the evening events. Or for your photobooth like my cousin had at her wedding, pictured at the top of this post!
  • Weathered, old or refurbished wood pieces are perfect for hanging a "Mr&Mrs" sign on the back of the bride and groom's chairs, to point out directions to the reception area or as sweet sayings around the reception space.
  • Twine is inexpensive and makes a sweet little clothesline look with pictures of guests or for name cards. Hang in different layers to fill the space and give your guests something a fun visual display. Some couples ask that guests replace their name card with a picture of themselves or a fun note for the bride and groom's future guestbook.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Speak Love - Making your Words Matter

Author: Annie F. Downs

A book written for teen girls, it's the perfect book for junior and high school aged girls, although it speaks to all women.  The focus is to speak love because words kill, words give life.  The author writes in a vernacular that would be easily picked up by teen girls, and makes the book a conversation between herself and the reader.  Her point is that all of us at some point have hurt or been hurt by words and it's time to change.  With a perspective focused on God, she discusses how we should aim to be, all the while being realistic of how we actually are.

There is a lot of attention nowadays on bullying, but sometimes the message still doesn't reach the teens.  This book is another attempt by an author who battled similar struggles trying to share her message.  Annie Downs is down to earth and easy to relate to.  Bullying can be something we're too embarrassed or ashamed to share with others, and this book offers another avenue for reflection.

A plus about this book is she gives you the chance to reflect or journal at the end of the chapters.  She has you consider what she's shared, with your own thoughts and opinions on the matter.  To help you reflect and get on track, she lists Bible verses and also questions to jump start your thinking.  And finally a challenge that asks you to use your words to speak love.

In 1st chapter she has you look at
Joshua 4-5      Proverbs 18:21      John 1:1          2 Corinthians 5:17

1) What part of using my words well do I find most challenging?
2) How do I want to be different after reading this book?
3) When can I remember someone being unkind to me with words?

Tell someone you are reading Speak Love and tell them why.  Just let someone else know why this book and this topic are important to you.

*So here is me meeting that challenge, as I share this book with you.  We've all experienced this and continue to see it.  So let's be better both for others sakes and our own.  Let's try and Speak Love.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Strawberry Cheesecake Cups

As I have mentioned previously, I am a dessert fanatic. But my future husband could care less about sugar most of the time and would rather have another slice of bacon or another piece of steak. So weird, right? Thankfully for me, he does have a few different sugar weaknesses: cheesecake, ice cream cake and Oreos. I am working hard to perfect a few variations of his favorite desserts to have on hand for future occasions.

What originally started as a recipe similar to my banana split bites, ended up turning into fun little cheesecake cups. I made these for a friend's birthday and they were a sweet treat at the end of the night. The only thing to beware of is that they will need to sit in the fridge for a bit of time. So plan ahead!

- 1 box of no bake cheesecake (If you have time, home make the cheesecake)
- 1 package Graham crackers, crushed
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 package fresh strawberries, sliced
- 1 package strawberry sauce (If you have time, home make the sauce)
- Mini cupcake pan, 24 count
- Non-stick cooking spray
- If transporting, small paper or plastic cups

1. Prepare the crust by adding the sugar and melted butter to the Graham crackers. Spray cupcake pan before spooning crust mixture into the bottom of each cup. Press down for better results.
2. Follow the no bake cheesecake directions. My box had me add the mixture to 2 1/2 cups of cold milk. Mix on medium for three minutes until thick. Spoon mixture on top of the pressed crust.
3. Allow cheesecake to sit in the fridge for an hour.
4. Carefully spoon out each cheesecake and insert into paper cup or onto a plate. Surround each cheesecake with fresh strawberries as desired.
5. Drizzle strawberry sauce over the top. Refrigerate until serving.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Art : Lose Yourself to Find Yourself

Who didn't love art class? When you could to listen to music, whip out your creative side and forget your other studies.

I have always had a great love for art. It wasn't until after high school that I realized how therapeutic it was for me. There is nothing better than getting lost in a piece. The past couple years, I have tried to find time here or there to indulge in this hobby. It has provided some relaxing evenings after a stressful day and even some fun wedding gifts for friends.

Mediums of choice: pastel, colored pencil, pencil and charcoal

Pictured are a few of my favorite projects of the last couple years. If you enjoy art in the least, I can't encourage you enough to indulge in it. Life gets busy and downtime may seem impossible. But it'll get you outside your head and might even produce a wall-worthy piece of art!

If art is not your forte, check out a local Wine and Canvas type event. These events have intructors who walk you through each step of a specific piece. I've had a number of friends attend one of these nights and the final results produced are always beautiful! 

"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time"


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wedding Day Survival Kit

The concept of personal attendants and ushers in a wedding is an interesting contrast, especially since the roles are seen as similar. Ushers usually dress the same, are in some of the pictures and other than escorting guests down the isle, have a pretty easy job. Personal attendants, however, don't dress the same, are not typically pictures and run around like crazy people the majority of the wedding day. Some think that being a personal attendant means that you didn't quite make the bridesmaid cut. While this may be true for some brides, I have found this to not always be the case. For many brides that I know, your personal attendants are the people in your life that you can always rely on when you need something and/or are just trustworthy and calm spirited.

The first time that I was a personal attendant was for Marie's wedding and it was an amazing experience. My co-attendant was our cousin Cathy. Because the three of us have been best buds since we were babies, we know each other's strengths and weaknesses very well. Getting to be with Marie all day, at her hair appointment, putting on her veil, keeping her hydrated, carrying her dress and sending her down the isle, helped the wedding day take on a whole new perspective. Any bride should appreciate it, even though you may have to get a little dirty (literally) or make things happen behind the scenes that you will never get credit for.

All this being said, whether you are the bride or the personal attendant, it is always helpful to be prepared for the big wedding day. From past experience, below is my own list of must haves for the Bridal Survival Kit. Or as the maid of honor for a friend's wedding called the kit, "Keep Calm and Marry On!" 

Needed: Basket, Rubbermaid or container that's easy to carry

- Band-Aids and/or first aid kit
- Bobby Pins
- Hair spray
- Hollywood/fashion tape
- Feminine products
- Advil or pain meds
- Gum or mints
- Kleenex
- Baby wipes or tide to go
- Lotion
- Granola bars
- Deodorant
- One time use toothbrushes
- Nail file
- Safety pins
- Small sewing kit
- Water bottles
- Chapstick

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Green Beans & Tomato Dish

A few years ago I confess that I would not have been eating this dish.  At best you might get me to eat a few bites.  I was one of those annoying picky eaters.  Luckily as I've aged I've come to at least tolerate and sometimes enjoy the occasional vegetable.  My theory is my taste buds must be dying, which is likely my body's coping mechanism to get me to eat more veggies.  Or, maybe not?  Any biologists out there want to toss in theories?

Anyways, I greatly enjoyed this green bean and tomato dish, probably because there was bacon and onion, yum.  We served it for a Thanksgiving side dish like the Pioneer Woman says she does for her family Thanksgiving.  The dish requires little attention once you get started.  A great side if you have lots of food to manage cooking. 

Another plus is it doesn't have too much flavor that it would detract or contradict the other components of the meal.  Bad thing is the juices, which make it good, run all over the plate into the other helpings.  I know some of you are cringing just thinking about that.  It was concluded that we liked the dish, but would enjoy it more with pork chops or chicken.  With those entrees the juice would only add to the flavor of the meat.  Definitely will serve this easy veggie dish again, perhaps just not on Thanksgiving.

Green Beans & Tomatoes Dish
Pioneer Woman

Servings: 10
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook 1 hr 10 minutes

-2 lbs fresh green beans, trimmed
-8 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
-1 large onion, chopped
-3 14.5 oz cans whole tomatoes & juice
-Salt and Pepper
-Cayenne Pepper

1. Add the bacon to a large Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until lightly golden.
2. Drain off the excess fat, and then add the onions.
3. Cook until the bacon and onions are golden brown.
4. Add the green beans and tomatoes to the pan.
5. Sprinkle in salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste.
6. Stir gently to combine, and then cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Pandora Charm Bracelets

Every girl has owned a charm bracelet at some point in her life, especially since they are always in style and customizable to each individual. I have had a few different types of charm bracelets over the years. My most recent (and favorite by far!) are Pandora bracelets and charms. I was introduced to Pandora in college when the family that I nannied for gifted me a bracelet and charm for Christmas. They started my long love of Pandora which hasn't waned all these years later. Pandora has a wide range of bracelets in various materials, lengths, colors and prices. My personal favorite are the leather bracelets because they are subtle and gorgeous. I have since passed on my first bracelet, double-stranded black leather, to my sister. I am currently rocking a one strand gray leather bracelet.

Pandora has so many charm options for every walk of life, occasion, mood and fancy! I have seen many women wear just one simple bead while others fill the whole bracelet with beads meaningful to them. The beads range from $15 to hundreds of dollars. This past Christmas, my sister and I exchanged Pandora beads. I picked out one of her favorite animals, the most adorable little elephant! She gifted me a beautiful bead that represents my life outlook in many ways, "Silver Linings."

If you are looking for a unique and personal gift, definitely check Pandora out. It will even provide easy gift ideas, more momentous beads, for the special occasions to come.