Meeting My Wedding Dress Designer

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Clifford Hjelm (also known as James Clifford or Jim Hjelm), the designer of my wedding dress.

Jim and Me

He was such a fun guy!

He was very complimentary of the dress I chose and even offered to send me a sketch of my gown! I thought that was really neat and I can’t wait to frame it. 🙂

While we were at the boutique, we took advantage of the loads of bridesmaid dresses on display and had my sister (who will be my maid of honor) model several of them.

We liked several different dresses but loved one.

Bridesmaid Dress Front-Runner

The Jim Hjelm one shoulder chiffon dress could be the bridesmaid dress, though would want to change a couple of things, such as remove the beading from the inside of the two flowers on the side and add a little more material to the center of the flowers to make them a little more feminine and whimsical. (I would also get the dresses in a champagne color.)

I’m waiting some pricing estimates from the tailor since I want some changes made. We’ll see!

Snacks and Shopping

After wedding fun, we headed to Peach Valley Cafe to pick up some apple fritters, which were highly recommended by Leslie.

Apple Fritters with Strawberry Yogurt

The fritters were fried and tossed in a bag of cinnamon and sugar. A cup of sweet strawberry yogurt was served on the side for dipping.

Leslie’s recommendation was spot-on. They were delicious!

With a little food in our bellies, we headed out to the nearby outlet mall for some shopping.

My sister and I did some damage at the Banana Republic and J.Crew outlets. With my birthday coming up, my mom is boxing up some of my goodies for a couple of weeks! 🙂 It’ll be fun to open up the goodies because I always forget about something I previously picked out.

Dinner

Shopping really made us all quite sleepy! We were in the mood for some serious comfort food at home.

When Ryan arrived home from his soccer game (they won!) we were ready to dig into taco meatloaf!

I made the meatloaf using a recipe I saw on Lisa’s blog.

Taco Meatloaf

Cheesy Loaf

We enjoyed the taco meatloaf with corn bread and roasted zucchini and squash.

My Plate

For dessert we had freshly baked cinnamon oatmeal cookies.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

Nom, Nom, Nom

My mom is spending the night in Orlando again (yay!), but my sister is getting ready to head back to Gainesville. 😩

We’ve had such a fun-filled girly weekend… I’m gonna miss her!

My Lovely Sista

Goodbye Hugs

I hope you’ve enjoyed a fun and relaxing weekend! Thanks for poppin’ in!

Taco Meatloaf

Ingredients

1 pound raw extra-lean ground turkey (I used chicken)
2 slices of fat-free cheddar cheese (I used reduced-fat cheddar)
1/2 cup shredded fat-free cheddar cheese (I used reduced-fat cheddar)
1/2 cup canned sweet corn kernels
1/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup salsa

1/2 packet of taco seasoning mix, dry (I used the whole packet)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cook peppers and onions for three minutes over medium heat in a pan sprayed with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, combine onions and peppers with turkey, corn and seasoning mix. Spread half of the mixture evenly into the bottom of the loaf pan (about 9″x5″) sprayed with nonstick spray.

Layer the two slices of fat-free cheese on top of the mixture (try to keep slices away from the pan’s edges). Evenly top with the remaining meat mixture.

Pour the salsa over the top of the loaf. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes.

Top loaf with shredded cheese. Return loaf to the oven and cook for another 15 minutes.

Second Place Dress

This morning I took a little extra time to make myself a weekend breakfast on a weekday!

Certain meals I typically save for weekends because they take longer to prepare, but today I was craving my ricotta stuffed French toast from Saturday morning and had to give my body what it wanted.

I dunked a whole wheat sandwich thin into two egg whites mixed with cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice and placed the two bread slices on the griddle to cook.

Spices

Sadie devoured the egg yolks and was a happy camper.

Toasty

While the French toast was cooking, I stirred cinnamon into ricotta cheese and spread the mixture on one half of the sandwich thin when it was done cooking.

Cinnamon Ricotta Filling

I then placed the other sandwich thin on top of the ricotta mixture and doused the stuffed French toast in syrup.

Smothered in Syrup

Sliced Up

This breakfast was oh-so-good! Sometimes the extra effort is sooo worth it!

Workout

My workout today was nothin’ special, but still good. I took my typical 5:45 a.m. BodyPump class and followed it up with 25 minutes on the elliptical with the lastest issue of Fitness magazine.

The issue featured two different half marathon training plans, one for beginners and one for intermediate/advanced athletes. I flagged these plans to reference when I begin training for the Chicago half marathon in June. I really like the simplicity of these plans… That’s also what I liked best about the Hal Higdon training plan I followed when I ran my first half. It’s like a “Running a Half Marathon for Dummies” plan. 😀

Bridesmaid Dresses

Thank you to all of you for your comments on my post about the three bridesmaid dresses I like. So far, my bridesmaids seem to like the third one the best, with the exception of my sister (who will also be my maid of honor) who really likes the first one (that one is actually my favorite, too). I may look into having my sister wear the first one and the other girls in the third one if I like the way they look in person. We’ll see!

I loved all the different points you guys brought up to consider as well:

  • Spaghetti straps are often not flattering on certain body types
  • Printed patterns may look strange in pictures (My dresses will be all one color: champagne)
  • Everyone in the same dress is less distracting in pictures
  • Choosing multiples dress styles in the same color allows bridesmaids to feel more confident in the dress they select

It’ll be a fun decision!

Second Place Dress

When I previously went dress shopping, I told you guys that I was between two wedding dresses: one simple, classic dress, and one dress with more of a “WOW” factor. Well, I went with the romantic and classic dress, so I figured I could share pictures of the BIG dress with you now.

This is not the dress I selected, but I absolutely love it. I didn’t like the color though and would have ordered it in ivory, not the coffee color it’s pictured in below. This dress is a Justin Alexander gown which I would have ordered in this color.

The dress I actually picked is pretty much the exact opposite of this dress. It’s so weird how my top two dresses were so different!

Second Place Dress

The Back (Clamped In!)

Justin Alexander Dress

Bodice

Do you like simple wedding dresses or dresses with a big WOW-factor?

I honestly love both types of dresses! I think I am more of a simple person though and ultimately felt more comfortable in a more simple dress. 🙂

I Bought THE Dress!

I did it!!! I officially placed a down payment on my wedding dress. 😀 I am beyond excited!!!

Today at Something Blue Bridal‘s veil and headpiece trunk show, I saw my dress in person for the fourth time. It is so beautiful and finally, after four separate appointments to see and try on this dress, I feel 100 percent positive that I found my perfect dress. (Can you tell I am a very thorough person? 😉 )

The women at the boutique said the designer of my dress, Jim Hjelm, will be in town in April and I will get to meet him in person. My dress is actually designed by James Clifford, but he is  Jim Hjelm, so I cannot wait to meet the man behind the masterpiece in couple of months.

Though the trunk show for my dress’s designer isn’t until April, the women still offered me the trunk show discount on my dress, which saved me around $160. For a frugal gal like me, this made my day!

Since I cannot post pictures of my dress since I don’t want my hubby-to-be to see ’em, I hope you’ll enjoy these pictures of me trying on veils today. I want my veil to be a combination of these two veils… long, but with lace trimming that starts around my fingertips and goes to the floor. I love the cathedral veils!

Long Veil

Short Veil with Lace Trimming

Does anyone out there have any tips as to where to look for a less expensive veil?

Any advice is appreciated!

Errands and Eats

Oookay, let’s back up a bit. (I got a little too excited to share my wedding dress news with you!)

After breakfast, Ryan and I headed to Home Depot to pick up a new air filter before stopping by IKEA to check out furniture and brainstorm decorating ideas for our new apartment.

Ryan ❀ Home Depot

We forgot what size air filter we needed so we bought two, figuring one would work. Turns out neither were right! Such is life. 🙂

Ryan and I had a good time in IKEA and found several pieces of furniture (a chair, dresser and bed frame) that we definitely think would make a wonderful addition to our new home. We wrote down all the details and are planning on stopping by again sometime soon.

IKEA

Lunch

We came home and immediately wanted lunch. I made two hummus sandwiches… mine with zucchini and Ryan’s with turkey. I used roasted red pepper hummus and it was so tasty! I think I had several servings while I was making the sandwiches…

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Zucchini

Lunch

I also enjoyed a cool and very crisp Jazz apple.

Apple

After lunch, Sadie needed some lovin’, so we took her to the dog park.

Sadie Girl

The weather was gorgeous today! Ryan and I both commented on how wonderful it felt to feel the sun on our skin again.

After the park, it was time for me to head out to the bridal trunk show, so I made a quick quesadilla to snack on in the car. Sadie was very intrigued…

"Gimme the 'Dilla"

After the trunk show and officially placing the down payment on my dress (YAY!), I stopped by Fresh Market to browse for a bit.

That store is gorgeous! I was most impressed with the bakery and the large selection of desserts. YUM. I bought a piece of peanut butter Ghirardelli chocolate and some honey roasted nuts to munch on while I drove home.

Peanut Butter Chocolate

I think I ate more nuts than I should have because I wasn’t all that hungry by the time I got home.

Ryan was ready for dinner and talked me into swinging by Chipotle for some grub. I kept my dinner relatively light with a burrito bowl, topped with lots of guacamole.

Chipotle Burrito Bowl

Stirred Up

Guacamole makes great salad dressing!

Ryan and I both also shared a bag of chips and more guacamole. Olé!

When we came home, we took Sadie on a short walk to the grocery store where I bought mix for Jello Oreo pudding. We’re currently waiting for the pudding to set before digging into our dessert. 🙂

Ryan and I are taking it easy and staying in tonight. Today was a go-go-go kinda day and Ryan has a soccer game early tomorrow morning, so an evening of relaxin’, move watching and flipping through our never-ending stack of magazines sounds perfect.

See ya in the morning! 😀

Increasingly Clear

It’s becoming increasingly clear that I have found my wedding dress. I am in looooove!

After work yesterday, I met my mom at Something Blue, a bridal boutique in Orlando to try on two very different dresses. (Ryan, do not click  any of the upcoming links, just in case!)

The front runner is a James Clifford dress. It’s wonderfully romantic with lace and a classic feel. (Sorry, no pictures or links directly to this one because I really think it is the one and I can’t risk Ryan seeing it! Also, when I asked him if he would be too tempted to look at the dress if I put a link up, he said, “Yeah, bad idea,” and added, “That’s not fair anyway! They should have to wait to see it just like I have to wait!” 😀 Feel free to get mad at him… but not too mad. 😉 )

Also, for those of you “in the know” about wedding dress designers… did you know James Clifford and Jim Hjelm are the same person? It’s a fact!  

The other dress is a Justin Alexander gown. It’s a much “bigger” dress with more of a princess look. Though you can’t see the detail in the picture I linked to, the bodice has beautiful lace all over it.

Here’s the way I described the two gowns to my friends: The James Clifford dress is me. The Justin Alexander dress is who I want to be. 🙂 I know it’s silly, but I’ve always been a more “classic” dresser… nothing too showy or funky. The James Clifford dress is pretty, simple, soft, classic and will still be gorgeous in 50 years. I guess it’s pretty apparent which one I like more, huh?

Now I just need a man’s opinion! My dad will see me in the dress over the first weekend in March, and with his thumbs up, the dress will officially be the one! AHHHH! I’m so excited. I’ve visited a bunch of bridal boutiques without much luck and it feels good to finally feel excited about such gorgeous dress.

Dinner

After wedding dress fun, my mom and I drove to the Hilton Bonnet Creek hotel to meet up with my dad for dinner at La Luce.

In Front of La Luce

Our waitress brought out a bread bowl filled with doughy bread. I ate a couple slices of the olive loaf, which was delicious.

For my main course, I ordered the marinara pizza. Hey, sometimes lamb chops or sea bass just won’t do! 🙂

Pizza, Pizza

The pizza was very tasty and the crust was my favorite part. Yum.

My dad’s dish was the “pick of the night” though. His seared citrus salmon was amazing!

For dessert we split warm berry cobbler with vanilla ice cream. When I say we “split” it, I mean my mom and I dominated this dessert.

Dessert

Watch out for a woman with a sweet tooth! 🙂

I’m off to hop in the shower… see ya in a bit for breakfast!

THE Dress (?), Wicked and More

Yesterday was non stop! From the minute I woke up to the minute I went to bed, the whole day was go, go, go!

My dad and I were the first ones awake (as usual) and we enjoyed some quiet time catching up over hot tea and honey Greek yogurt before it was time for a workout. Unfortunately we couldn’t go to spinning together as originally planned because my appointment at the wedding dress store overlapped with the class time. Boo!

I headed out to workout on my own. I kept my cardio session relatively easy because I wanted to flip through some of the bridal magazines my mom bought for me. Priorities… 😉

I did 40 minutes on the elliptical, followed by 10 minutes of incline walking on the treadmill.

As I pulled into our neighborhood on my way home, I saw the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen.

Rainbow

I only captured part of it on camera, but it was a full arch and the colors were brilliant. I came running inside and made my whole family come out to see it. Everyone was fully impressed.

Wedding Dress Shopping

After enjoying a quick breakfast smoothie and a hot shower, my mom, sister and I were ready to head out to Jon’s Bridal, a large bridal gown shop in Tampa.

The Girls

All Smiles

I made an appointment at Jon’s because they said they “likely had” the Justin Alexander dress I loved that I tried on last weekend in Orlando with my friends Merri and Laurel. I wanted my mom and sister to see it in person and weigh in.

This place was not what I expected. First of all, they didn’t have the dress the woman on the phone implied they would have, and then all the dresses were not my style. I like romantic, simple dresses and many of the dresses at Jon’s Bridal were bedazzled. Not my thing.

I was pretty bummed when we left, but I remembered that Cici’s Boutique in St. Pete carried the designer of the other dress I loved last weekend (I really liked two different dresses, if you remember). I called Cici’s to see if we could get a last minute appointment. They had an opening and my spirits rose immediately.

I was excited for my mom and sister to see this dress because it is a pretty dress. It is less “ballgown” and more classic and romantic. I am in love.

We were escorted upstairs and I slipped into the dress. It really is unbelievable. My mom and sister were both very enthusiastic and I really think this could be the one. (I’m sorry for the lack of pictures, but I can’t risk my groom-to-be seeing me in this dress!)

I have always been drawn toward lace and it has lace but is different than the other lace gowns I’ve seen. It seems like a dress I would still love 50 years from now. We made a follow up appointment for the first week of March for my dad to come see it. I really want a man’s opinion.

By the time the dress hunt was over, we were hungry. We headed home to meet up with my dad and Ryan for lunch. I made a delicious fish sandwich using the fish we had leftover from dinner on Friday night.

Fish Sandwich and Portobello Mushrooms

I also enjoyed a small bowl of chocolate marshmallow ice cream for dessert. So good!

Wicked

Around 1 p.m., my mom, sister and I headed off to see Wicked at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center while my dad and Ryan enjoyed a guy’s day. 🙂

Our seats for the musical were amazing!

Wicked

The show was fantastic! I loved every minute. The whole cast was extremely talented and the music was wonderful. It was really neat to see how the musical tied into the original Wizard of Oz story. I can’t wait to see it again with Ryan at the end of the month. 😀

The actress who played Glinda was actually an understudy and she did a tremendous job. I’m excited to see how the “real” Glinda handles the role.

Dinner

Wicked started at 2 p.m. and when it was over, my sister told us to guess the time. I guessed 3:45 p.m. and boy was I off! It was a little after 5 p.m.! We hurried to the car and proceeded to sit in the parking lot for 20 minutes waiting for people to head out.

We started to feel a little anxious because we had 5:45 p.m. dinner reservations to meet with my dad and Ryan at 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House in downtown St. Pete. Luckily the guys headed over there to save our table and we met them there a little before 6 p.m.

The guys were already a couple dirty martinis into the night and were quite the funny duo by the time we arrived.

The restaurant has a really neat feel and we are putting it in the running for a potential restaurant for our rehearsal dinner. I want Ryan’s family to come check it out, too.

Our food was delicious and the service was great, especially considering how crowded it was. My sister and I both ordered the seafood sampler.

Seafood Sampler

It was an appetizer and didn’t have too much food, though it was delicious. I ate a bunch of the cheese biscuits and several bites of Ryan’s braised short ribs and mashed potatoes. His meal tasted like homemade comfort food!

Cheese Biscuits

Braised Short Ribs

We took our time at dinner and had a great time. We headed home a little after 8 p.m. and made ice cream sundaes.

Ice Cream Sundae

Ryan and I shared this big bowl that included:

  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Chocolate sauce
  • Butterscotch
  • Strawberry topping
  • Mini Oreo cookies
  • Whipped cream
  • Cherry

This further solidified the fact that ice cream truly is my favorite food. There’s nothin’ better!

I’m off to go make a big Sunday breakfast before Ryan and I head back to Orlando. I hope you’re enjoying the weekend! 🙂

Dress Success???

Shocking! I actually found two dresses I liked on this morning’s bridal gown shopping trip. Since I seem to be the pickiest person in the world when it comes to wedding dresses, this was quite a victory.

With the help of my two friends, Laurel and Merri, I eliminated several gowns before stepping into two gorgeous dresses. They’re completely different, but both are very beautiful.

Obviously I cannot post pictures of the dresses that are contenders for “the one,” since I don’t want my groom-to-be to see them. Instead I hope you enjoy these pictures of dresses I will not be wearing on the big day. 🙂

I loved the back on this one:

Dress Attempt Number One

I am a lace lover and really liked the top of this dress. I couldn’t get past the bling-blingin’ broach though…

Bling, Bling

My friend Laurel really liked this one, but I had a hard time with the beading. I’m just not a beading kinda girl!

Dress Numero Tres

Beads!

Why am I so weird about beading? I think dresses with beading look so pretty on the rack and in magazines, but when I put them on I feel like I look bedazzled.

Full View

Of these three dresses, which one would you pick?

I got a little excited to talk about wedding dresses, so let’s back up a bit to breakfast. 

Before the dress shopping business, I filled up on chocolate oats with cocoa powder and chocolate peanut butter cup  protein powder. YUM.

Chocolate Oats

When I came home I had a quesadilla that went unphotographed. Oops!

I really wasn’t feeling the gym today, but Ryan was amped up and swindled me into a work out. I thanked him after it was over, of course. I did total-body weights and light cardio for 25 minutes. It wasn’t an amazing workout,but it was better than nothin’!

Our plans to attend a chili cook off are on hold at the moment due to icky weather. It’s really raining hard and is supposed to continue raining until 6 p.m. tonight. Boo!

At least the Miss America watch party is in doors. Don’t forget to root for Miss Florida! Yay Rachael! 😀

Jam-Packed

Today was a jam-packed day!

Within 30 minutes of waking, Ryan and I were off to Bradenton to meet his dad for breakfast.

Ryan and His Dad

Ryan’s dad’s birthday was yesterday, so it was great to see him and spend some time with the birthday boy.

We met him at Peaches, an adorable restaurant that serves only breakfast and lunch.

I ordered a veggie omelet with a side of fruit salad.

Omelet

Veggie-Filled Omelet

Fruit Salad

After breakfast, Ryan, his dad and I ran to the outlets to stop in some shops. I wanted to return a pair of running capris to the Nike outlet and I left with a new sports bra and workout top. Score!

Wedding Dress Shoppin’

After saying goodbye to Ryan’s dad, we headed back to St. Pete.

I hopped into the car with my mom and sister to leave for our 12:30 appointment at a wedding dress boutique that was hosting a San Patrick trunk show.

My Sister and Mom (The Consultants)

Gigglin' with Mama

🙂

They had the gown I loved the last time I was there, and I tried it on again. It really is beautiful! I apologize for the lack of pictures, but Ryan can’t see me in the dress that could be the dress until the big day. I’ll post pictures of the contenders once I actually select the dress, I promise!

After that trunk show, we headed over to the next trunk show featuring Maggie Sottero dresses. I had such high hopes, but was pretty disappointed. They only had a small selection of Maggie dresses and I didn’t see any of the ones I loved online. Oh well.

We were pretty darn hungry by the time all of our wedding dress appointments were over and headed to El Cap to pick up cheeseburgers for us and the guys to enjoy at home. 

Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger

I only wanted a few bites, so I shared a burger with Ryan. I was cravin’ dippy eggs and fixed myself a yummy plate.

Eggs and an English Muffin

I enjoyed a Honeycrisp apple and a bowl of grapes on the side.

Honeycrisp Apple

After a late lunch, Ryan and I decided to make a cake to enjoy for dessert tonight.

My mom loves tunnel of fudge cake and I gave her a box of the mix for Christmas. We decided to make this tasty cake and it made the whole house smell heavenly.

Tunnel of Fudge Cake

Before we added the chocolate to the mix, Sadie and my sister got to lick the beaters (one each) full of butter and sugar. They were in heaven.

Lickin' Beaters

Yummy

Once we added the chocolate to the mix, Ryan and I dug into the batter for more than one fingerful of the yummy goodness. 🙂

Tunnel of Fudge Batter

I can’t wait to enjoy this cake tonight. Yum.

Hope you’re all enjoying your weekend!