Pre-Breakfast Bike Ride

Ryan and I were the first ones awake in my house this morning and decided to head out for an early bike ride before everyone else woke up.

Ready to Ride

I was excited to sport the new Nike running tights I got from Ryan for Christmas. 

Biker Girl

As we were getting ready to leave, Sadie snuck out and Ryan ran after the pup to put her back in before we left.

Ryan and the Beast

Despite her abnormal energy level, we didn’t think Sadie could keep up on a long bike ride all over St. Pete, so the puppy had to stay with my family.

Ryan and I set out for a ride to and from the Vinoy, which is about nine miles, but we ended up weaving in and out of a lot of neighborhoods and riding along the water for nearly two hours. It was fun but cold!

Breakfast

When we walked in the door after our ride, a fantastic aroma greeted us.

My mom was busy cooking a gigantic breakfast for the family, complete with eggs, toast, hash browns and ham. My sister and I got to work cutting up fresh pineapple and apples and peeling clementines for a fruit salad.

Ham Steak

Hash Browns

Fruit Salad

My Plate

I gobbled up everything on my plate and had seconds of everything but the eggs.

I also enjoyed a yummy homemade Neiman Marcus cookie for breakfast dessert. ūüôā

Cookie Time

Family breakfasts are the best.

Christmas Gifts

I received some amazing presents for Christmas from loved ones. I just had to post pictures of two of my favorites.

My Wonderful Purse!

My favorite gift from Ryan was a framed copy of his proposal speech.

After he proposed he told me he typed up his whole speech on the computer to be sure he said everything he wanted to say. As a Christmas gift he printed out the speech and framed it for me. I started crying instantly when I unwrapped this gift.

Christmas Gift from Ryan

I loved this gift so much. It was wonderful to read his loving words – especially since I feel like I blacked out during the proposal! I couldn’t remember anything he said afterward!

What was the best gift you received this year?

A First Attempt at Bridesmaid Dresses

Normally on the day after Christmas I cannot help but feel a little sad. All the hustle and bustle of the holiday season comes to an end, and I know I’ll be back at work, away from my family, in no time.

Fortunately my family had a lot on the agenda on the day after Christmas this year so I didn’t have any time to dwell on the fact that we have to wait another whole year to celebrate again.

Next year I will be a married woman at Christmas! Holy cow!

The wedding preparations continued yesterday when my mom, sister and I (once again!) headed out to try on wedding gowns. We ended up browsing around in the bridesmaid dresses section for quite a while and really enjoyed looking at all the different styles.

I want my bridesmaids to feel beautiful and look classy and a bit trendy at the same time.

Luckily my sister was on hand to model a couple of dresses. She’s one heck of a model though and everything seemed to look good on her!

The red dress below was our favorite.

Option Number One

The woman at the store encouraged me to try it on as well so we could see another body type in the dress.

...And Again

I loved how this dress looked on my sister, but wasn’t crazy about the dress on me. I am super-aware of my butt and hips and generally like more A-line styles on myself. I’m a lucky bride because all of my bridesmaids are gorgeous and have great figures and would look good¬†in any style.

The second option was more whimsical.

Option Number Two

...And Again

I thought this dress was very romantic, but a little too casual for the vision I have for our wedding.

I really liked option number one, but when I showed pictures to Ryan he isn’t sold on the one-strap look. We’ll see!

Regardless of the dresses we pick, the bridesmaids will likely wear dresses that are a champagne color to go along with our color scheme of yellows, whites, creams, golds, etc.

I tried on dresses again and am still set on the Maggie Sottero gown I liked the last time. It’s more expensive than I want to spend on a dress though, so we’re still lookin’ around.

Lunch and a Boat Ride

After a couple hours spent trying on dresses, we headed home to meet up with my dad, cousin Ricky and his girlfriend Abby to grab a quick lunch before heading out on the boat.

I made myself a cheesy sandwich with Provolone cheese, tomato, portobello mushrooms and spinach.

Open Faced Sandwich

Provolone and Veggie Sandwich

My Lunch

I also enjoyed two Reese’s peanut butter cups that I got in my Christmas stocking for dessert. Mmm, mmm.

After bundling up in multiple layers and bringing several blankets onto the boat, we were ready to head out!

It was a beautiful but chilly day on the water.

Captain and First Mate (Dad and Mom)

My Cousin Ricky and His Girlfriend Abby

While boating we saw lots of dolphins! They even swam right under the boat so we got a close-up view. It was really neat!

My dad also took us by the Vinoy, our wedding venue.

The Vinoy

Once we were frozen solid, we headed back inside to hang out a bit before heading off to The Clubhouse for dinner.

Dinner

Ryan arrived at my parents’ house after spending the day with his dad in Bradenton. Before leaving for dinner he was kind enough to snap a picture of our little gang.

The Gang

(Yes, my sister and I are wearing the same Ugg boots. Wanna know what’s worse? Underneath her jacket is a black sweater. Why do we dress like twins? It was unintentional but happens way too often!)

Once we got to the restaurant, our waiter brought us complimentary shrimp dumplings to enjoy.

Shrimp Dumpling

Before my meal, I ordered a miso soup to enjoy.

Miso Soup

It was salty and tasty!

My main course was sushi. I ordered the California roll with cucumber instead of rice. I also shared a Philly cheesesteak and fries with Ryan.

California Roll (Sans Rice)

Philly Cheesesteak and Fries

Yummy!

My Love-ah Love-ah

Dinner was delish!

Afterward Ricky and Abby headed on the road to visit Abby’s uncle for the rest of the evening. We came back home to make homemade Neiman Marcus cookies.

Cookie Time

Abby told us about these special cookies while we were on the boat and we knew we wanted to make them.

Neiman Marcus Cookie Dough

The recipe makes a lot of cookies! Fortunately we cut it in half, but we still had several dozen cookies!

Freshly-Baked Cookies

I think we all were sick off of the dough by the time the cookies came out. Still, that didn’t stop us from enjoying some of the freshly-baked goodness.

These cookies are amazing! Definitely add them to your list of cookies you must make.

Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe

2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. soda
2 cups sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal**
24 oz. chocolate chips
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 8 oz. Hershey Bar (grated)
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)

** Measure oatmeal and blend in a blender to a fine powder.

Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey Bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies.