Two Dresses

Since we finished printing and compiling our save the dates last night, I’ve been in wedding-planning mode! I like the feeling of checking things off my to-do list. 😀

After work today I headed to Something Blue Bridal Boutique to meet with Lori to discuss the bridesmaid dress I fell in love with back in April.

I had a couple of concerns regarding the color and the design and wanted to make sure all of my issues were addressed before fully committing to the dress.

Lori isn’t sure if the dress I like is available in the cashmere color I want, and will be calling to check on Thursday.

While I was at the boutique, I browsed some of the other bridesmaid dresses and really liked a pretty, whimsical dress by Alvina Valenta.

Alvina Valenta Dress

Here is a ghetto photo-of-a-phone photo of me in the dress:

Photo of a Photo

I really love how romantic an flowy this dress feels.

If the one-shoulder Jim Hjelm dress is not available in the cashmere color I love, the above dress may be a contender.

To jog your memory, or if you are new to the blog, here’s a picture of the Jim Hjelm dress:

Jim Hjelm Dress

Which one do you like better?

I really love both dresses though they look completely different!

Dinner

Since I arrived home later than usual, I wanted to get dinner on the table fast.

Enter, frozen pizza.

CPK White Pizza

Ryan and I are huge fans of the California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizzas and the crispy thin crust white pizza is one of the best.

The pizza cooked up in 10 minutes, and we enjoyed several slices with roasted broccoli on the side.

White Pizza Slice

Roasted Broc

Dinner

Dinner was fast and tasty… Just the way I like it.

I’m off to read my book for a bit before hoppin’ into bed. See ya in the morning!

Save the Dates = DONE!

Who doesn’t like startin’ their day with a little chocolate?

Cocoa Powder

I’m in the mood for chocolate morning, noon and night. 5 a.m.? Yes! 11 p.m.? Yes!

This morning chocolate popped up in my breakfast in a chocolate chip cheesecake breakfast bowl.

The base of my breakfast bowl was a mixture of ricotta cheese and cottage cheese, which I blended together with a pinch of xanthan gum, almond extract and sweetener.

Ricotta + Cottage Cheese

I topped the creamy, cheesecake-like mixture with chocolate chips, cocoa powder and freshly sliced strawberries.

Cocoa Powdaaa

Fresh Berries

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Breakfast Bowl

This bowl contained:

  • 1/2 c. cottage cheese
  • 1/2 c. ricotta cheese
  • 1 pinch xanthan gum (for thickness)
  • 1 splash almond extract
  • 1 pinch sweetener
  • Sprinkling of chocolate chips
  • Sprinkling of Nestlé cocoa powder
  • Sliced strawberries

I blended the first five ingredients together with my immersion blender before topping the cheesecake-like mixture with the remaining goods.

This breakfast was really tasty and hit the spot after a hot run with Sadie this morning.

Workout

This morning I decided to change up my normal running route and took Sadie on a five-mile run around a different lake.

"Stop Taking My Picture and Go Get Me Some Chicken."

We stopped for a couple potty breaks (as usual) and had to pause for more cars than our typical running route, but I enjoyed the change of scenery.

Here are our stats (including potty breaks, waiting for cars to pass and talking to a couple about vizslas 😉 ):

Breakdown

(Woohoo for my first ever Garmin stats picture on the blog! Oh and yes I do wear my watch turned in rather than facing out. Not sure why…)

Save the Date Success

Wedding update!

Our save the dates are printed and ready for mailing!

Smiling for Save the Dates

After picking them up from Staples last night, Ryan and I got to work stamping the cards and licking lots of envelopes.

Please excuse me while I sing the praises of Staples!

With help from my sister and a guy from my work, our save the date images were formatted and ready for printing yesterday. I worked with a guy at Staples and explained what I was looking for and he went above and beyond to make our save the dates look amazing.

Then, on top of it all, he cut everything to fit into the envelopes I purchased, and only charged us for black and white printing when really it was color since the image of me and Ryan on the card is sepia.

Save the Date

October 30th, Baby!

I was determined to create our save the dates myself because I love being crafty and wanted to save money.When I found a wonderful (free!) template for these save the dates on WeddingChicks.com, I knew we had a winner.

We are so pleased with how they turned out and are even more excited about how inexpensive they were to make. The guy at Staples really helped us save a ton of money on printing costs.

Here is our save the date cost break down:

  • Envelopes: $54
  • Printing/ Cutting at Staples: $11
  • Heart stamp: $4
  • Happily ever after stamp: $7
  • 2 stamp pads: $8

Total cost: $84

Not to shabby for 80 save the dates!

Now I just have to purchase a billion stamps and get these bad boys in the mail…

Save the Date Pictures

After work our backyard became the site of an intense photo shoot!

Ryan and I went the do-it-yourself route and got friendly with the self timer on my camera to take some photos of us for our save the dates.

You’d think that after 6+ years together we would have a picture we could use already, but none of our current pictures seemed quite right. We needed a romantic picture without anyone or anything distracting in the background, which is much harder to come by than you might think.

Even though it was 90+ degrees outside, we took picture after picture and eventually found a winner!

Here are some of the pictures that didn’t make the cut, starting with the one I found the most hilarious:

Lots of Action

We had to throw toys for Sadie to make her run out of the pictures. Sometimes we didn’t make it in time. 😉

Cheeseballs

Gimme da Kisses!

And, for your viewing pleasure, the winning picture that will be featured in our save the dates:

The Winner

I love this one because Ryan turned his head to look at me like that at the last minute. We didn’t plan for that pose, but I love the way it turned out! I think he looks so cute!

Dinner

After sweating and smiling in the backyard, we were ready for dinner!

What to do when you’re hungry and want dinner fast? Pasta!

Monterey Pasta Company Lobster Ravioli

Ryan and I bought this ravioli (my favorite!) on sale at the grocery store on Sunday for buy one get one free! Gotta love that!

I actually also received a huge package from Monterey Pasta Company (Thank you, Rachel!) filled with a bunch of different pastas to try, but those will have to wait for another day since we had some of their fantastic lobster ravioli on hand already!

Big Box!

Apparently Moneterey Pasta Company got wind of my minor obsession with their ravioli.;)

The lobster ravioli cooked up in a flash.

Ravioli Poofs

I topped the pasta with roasted cauliflower and yellow squash before pouring marinara sauce on top of everything.

Veggies

Saucy

Ravioli Bowl

As always, this ravioli hit the spot! I love how they actually include real lobster in the ravioli poofs (I think it’s the second ingredient right after the actual pasta shell). YUM.

Dessert

Dessert tonight was super simple and super delicious!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I brought home a couple of cookies from work today and enjoyed two chocolate chips cookies after dinner.

I think I could give the cookie monster a run for his money… 😉

I’m off to watch the Magic game with Ryan while reading the first book in the Percy Jackson series. Any Percy Jackson fans out there?

Guest List Grand Total

This morning I was up a little before 6 a.m. because Sadie was acting like a nut job all night.

In the middle of the night my mom let her out to go to the bathroom and she would not stop barking. We think there may have been some birds or a critter in our backyard, but whatever it was Sadie did not think it belonged there. Sadie spent the rest of the night curled up with me, tossing and turning. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep so well!

Though waking up before dawn on the weekend isn’t exactly ideal, it did give me a chance to get a quick run in before the hustle and bustle of the day began. I even got to try out my new Garmin!

Garmin Forerunner

Unfortunately I had it set up to report my statistics in kilometers, so I didn’t really understand my pace very well! I like my miles. 😉 I converted my statistics when I got home and found that Sadie and I covered slightly more than 5 miles.

Meeting the Pastor

After a quick breakfast, Ryan and I headed out to meet with Pastor Dean, a potential officiate for our wedding at his home in Dunedin, Florida.

Pastor Dean and his wife were wonderful to meet and seemed like such genuine people. Plus, Pastor Dean was very open to incorporating our ideas into the ceremony. I think we found another winner!

Brunch

When we arrived back to my parents’ house, we had a big brunch waiting for us.

Brunch

Before we sat down, my dad handed everyone mimosas to enjoy!

Mimosa Man

Dad + Daughter + Drinks

I filled my plate with all the goodies, and went back for seconds of the ham and thirds of the hash browns.

My Plate

Guest List

After brunch, we printed off our list of everyone in the world we would like to invite to the wedding and discussed everything thoroughly to get to a final number we are all comfortable with.

Our grand total… 155 people!

The total is definitely more than we initially thought we would have on our list, but it’s not as outrageously huge as it could have been. It feels good to have all of our guests on paper!

How many people came to your wedding? If you’re not married, do you want a big wedding or a small wedding?

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.

Banana Walnut Stuffed French Toast

My dad, sister and I worked up quite an appetite during spinning this morning. We came back sweaty and ready for some good eatin’!

The Spinners

I promised Ryan I would try to recreate the banana walnut stuffed French toast that he ordered at breakfast last Saturday.

I made French toast with pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon stirred into the egg mixture. My sister cut up bananas and we heated them up on the griddle while the toast was cooking.

Sizzlin' Bananas

Bananas + Walnuts + French Toast

Syyyyrup

Of course I had to add whipped cream!

Banana Walnut Stuffed French Toast

This was a breakfast the whole family loved! Weekend breakfasts are the best.

Wedding Planning + Lunch

After breakfast, Ryan and I headed to the Vinoy to meet with the catering manager to meet with the catering manager, Stephanie, who will be handling our big day.

Stephanie was bubbly and very nice and we cannot wait to embark on more of the planning fun (tastings… yum!). 🙂

We came home to an easy lunch of sandwiches and pasta.

Sandwich & Peanuts

Pasta

For dessert I enjoyed a cup of my obsession… Jello mousse!

Jello Mousse Cup

Ryan and I are leaving in 10 minutes to head out to a local restaurant and meet with a woman to discuss using one of the restaurant’s large rooms for our rehearsal dinner. Should be fun!

Hope you’re enjoying your weekend! 😀

Weighing What’s Important

Wedding thoughts in un momento

First, breakfast!

Today I had another yogurt and barley breakfast bowl (yes, I’m in love), but instead of using thawed frozen strawberries in the bowl like I did yesterday, I stirred in thawed frozen raspberries. I’m so adventurous, I know.

Raspberries + Yogurt

Raspberry Barley Breakfast Bowl

If you’ve never enjoyed barley in a sweet dish and have only had it in soups or savory meals, please give this a try. It’s chewy, slightly nutty and so delicious!

Workout

My workout today was sweat-tastic! I did 35 minutes on the treadmill, followed by 15 minutes on the elliptical with OK! magazine. I love my celebrity gossip!

My 35 minute treadmill workout looked like this:

  • Min. 1 – 15: 1.0 incline, 6.5 pace
  • Min. 15: 1.0 incline, 7.5 pace
  • Min. 16: 1.0 incline, 6.5 pace
  • Min. 17: 1.0 incline, 7.5 pace
  • Min. 18: 1.0 incline, 6.5 pace
  • Min. 19: 1.0 incline, 8.0 pace
  • Min. 20 – 25: 1.0 incline, 6.5 pace
  • Min. 25 – 35: 7.5 incline, 4.2 pace

I broke it up into three segments: steady state cardio followed by intervals, and back to steady state cardio again. It kept me entertained and made the workout go by quickly.

Wedding Planning: Weighing What’s Important

Throughout the wedding planning process, we’ve been adjusting our budget in certain areas to make room for additions in other areas.

I’ve received many different words of advice ranging from “Don’t waste money on a dress… you wear it once,” to “Definitely budget for your dress… it’s the one thing you’ll remember forever.” Clearly, different aspects of a wedding are important to different people.

Aside from food and drinks, what aspect of a wedding do you think is worthy of the most money?

To me, it is our photographer. It was so important for me to find someone we felt comfortable around and whose style was more candid than “pose-y.” I love pictures that capture moments and emotions and was determined to find a photographer whose photographs weren’t staged and someone who captured and love and emotion felt throughout the wedding day. I think (and hope!) we found a good one.

I think the area in which I’m most willing to cut costs is the flowers. I love flowers and think they’re beautiful, but they can be really expensive and other areas are much more important to me.

In fact, I’ve adjusted our flower budget to make room for something many people probably think is silly: chairs. I am obsessed with chiavari chairs!

Beloved Chairs

To me, they add an element of sophistication and such a nice, clean look to a reception room.

Reception

Pretty, huh?

My dad is so funny about the chairs… naturally he (like many) doesn’t understand why I love these chairs so much. Buuut, last night I got this sweet email from him:

Julie, I am at a black tie affair tonight in DC and the chairs, I think, are the safari (sp) you like. They are nice but I would have never noticed them if it wasn’t for you. Just fyi.  Love you, Daddy

I think he’s coming around. 😀 I love how he called them safari chairs! Truth be told, that’s what I thought they were called for months, too!

Though I do love these chairs, if something else comes up of more importance, I’m more than willing to forgo my beloved chairs. However, if I can cut expenses in other areas and the chairs can fit into our budget, bring ’em in! 😀