Wedding: Our Engagement Party

We’re headed off to an engagement party for my college roomie and tennis partner tonight, so I thought it would be fitting to share the details of our own engagement party today!

It seems that engagement parties are becoming a thing of the past, but ours was an absolute blast!

Jim’s aunt and uncle hosted our engagement party at their house, with the help of both of our moms. It wasn’t a surprise, although I knew little more than the date and guest list. :-)

The evening of the party, we arrived at 6 to find a group of our families and closest friends which included our bridal party.

Jim’s aunt and our mothers had a delicious spread of finger foods, our favorite drinks and desserts waiting, along with an adorable Tiffany box cake made by our friend’s mom.

Our families have known each other for a long, long time, so the engagement party wasn’t the traditional meeting of the families. It was, however, a time for us to celebrate just being engaged before the craziness of the actual wedding planning set in.

According to Emily Post (my official guide to wedding planning & etiquette!) an engagement party can be held by family members, friends, and even the couple themselves. Looking back, if a party hadn’t been hosted for us I would definitely consider hosting our own engagement celebration. I’ll always remember our engagement party as a special night that kicked off the path to our wedding. :-)

Wedding: the Bridal Party

I’m pretty sure that Jim and I began discussing our bridal party the night we got engaged. ;-) Not surprisingly, we had called almost everyone that night to tell them the good news, and naturally we got on the topic of who we’d like to have standing beside us on the big day.

The Bridesmaids & Brides Attendants

My sister will be filling the role of Maid of Honor. Little explanation needed there. ;-)

The bridesmaids, in no particular order:

Jim’s sister, Suzzie (in the middle!);

my cousin and BFF, Kayla;

my soulmate and BFF, Whitney (she’s marrying Jim’s best friend 3 weeks before us!);

and my girlfriend and BFF, Jess!

Along with the girls, standing at the alter with me will be my male-BFFs, Jesse and Zane. These guys have been my besties since elementary school, and I can’t imagine not having them by my side on my wedding day.

I can’t wrap up the bridesmaid rundown without mentioning my honorary bridesmaid, my college roomie and BFF Kristen. Unfortunately she was asked to be in the wedding party of her friend who happens to be marrying on the same date, before we were even engaged. I’m counting her as a BM anyway, and I’ll be one of her bridesmaids next September. :-)

The Groomsmen

Jim’s obvious choice for best man is his brother, Johnny.

The groomsmen, again no particular order:

my brother, Jacob;

Jim’s childhood best friends Dan & Derek (twins, obviously. Derek, on the right is engaged to Whitney);

friend from home, Dylan;

college BFF, Matt;

and college roomie, Amar.

Our wedding party may be a bit larger than I would have guessed, but we couldn’t be more excited to have the support of our siblings and friends on our wedding day!

Pumpkin Oats over Baked Apples

It’s cool and rainy and I have no obligations today. What’s a girl to do? Sleep in, create a delicious breakfast and schedule a lunch date of course!

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**Before you hate my guts let me just say that the next two days are technically my last two days of summer before teaching begins! Come Thursday I’ll be back to the working world like everyone else!

This morning my usual cool yogurt bowl just didn’t sound right (especially after I had to dig out the Uggs!). Instead I decided to whip up a warm batch of pumpkin oats. I have to say, this is the best version I’ve come up with yet. Last year I just couldn’t quite get on the pumpkin oat bandwagon, but I’ve discovered what I was missing- banana! And a little bit of hidden goodness at the bottom- baked apples!

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Pumpkin Oats over Baked Apples

1/3 cup Water
1/3 cup Almond Milk
1/2 Banana
Pinch Salt
1/3 cup Oats
1/3 cup Canned Pumpkin
1/4-1/2 Apple, sliced
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Brown Sugar & Walnuts, optional

Bring water and almond milk to a boil. Meanwhile later sliced apple in bottom of an oven-safe dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg and place under broiler until tender. Add banana, oats and salt to boiling liquid. Cook until almost done, add pumpkin and dash of spices. Continue to cook an another minute or so until thick.
Layer oats on top of baked apples. Top with brown sugar, walnuts and another dash of spices before digging in!

The baked apples truly make this dish!

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To make things even more cozy, I lit some fall candles before digging into my breakfast!

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Aside from a lunch date, I’m planning to spend the day making headway on painting our kitchen trim (it’s been in the works for over a month now…). Unfortunately for the pup it doesn’t look like a walk is in the cards, meaning an indoor workout for me. I’m hoping she won’t get too crazy with her pent up energy!

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Early Dinner & Honeymoon Research

So I sat down at 8 pm with every intention to post. It’s now 9:30 and all I’ve accomplished is researching wildly out-of-budget honeymoons. Time to come back to reality.

After breakfast, I managed to get a bit of work done and then it was time for a workout! I had originally planned to do the full Physique 57 workout and a short walk today, followed by a longer walk/run with the puppy tomorrow. After checking out the weather and seeing tomorrow’s predicted 3 inches of rain I made the executive decision to change things up.

Instead I did the express 30 minute P57 (still finished up with burning legs!) and then took Sydney on her longest walk/run to date: 2.5 miles! We finished in just over 50 minutes, which is quite an accomplishment with a puppy who stops to sniff, chew pinecones and bark at squirrels every few seconds!

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After showering it was time for lunch- a Mexican inspired salad. Tortilla shell base, lettuce, tomato, black beans and some random feta. Lemon juice, black pepper & EVOO dressing.

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Cantaloupe and half a pumpkin-oatmeal cookie for dessert!

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This afternoon’s tennis match was a complete blowout, but fun to watch. We knew going in that it should be an easy match, so I challenged the girls to try some harder shots and be more aggressive in their play. And they did! It was fun to see them challenging themselves and inspired me to do the same in my workouts!

A quick match meant dinner at a decent hour with Jim! He had leftover casserole from his mom, while I made an open faced sandwich of deli turkey, apple and cheddar. I popped it under the broiler until the cheese melted and enjoyed fixed a huge salad of mixed greens and Parmesan on the side, topped with my usual lemon/pepper/EVOO dressing.

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After dinner we popped in a Sandals DVD to do some honeymoon research and that’s when I got distracted. ;-) We weren’t intrigued by the DVD but don’t want to rule out an all inclusive. Right now our top honeymoon contenders are Hawaii (Maui), Costa Rica or a Mediterranean cruise. And then this evening I discovered the West Indies, so in short we really have no idea where to go. ;-)

Any honeymoon recommendations?

Wedding: the Venue

There was never a question as to where our wedding would be held. We’d decided that long before we were engaged.

The ceremony will be held in our church. This is something that is very important to both Jim and myself. Our families belong to the same congregation, and we both have a good relationship with our pastor who has seen our relationship unfold. I can’t wait to walk down the aisle to be united in a Christian marriage, witnessed by our families and friends.

Our reception will be held in a similarly meaningful location: the farm which will become our home.

We are currently in the process of fixing up and moving into the farmhouse where Jim’s grandparents and great-grandparents lived before us. Situated in the middle of farmland, we couldn’t think of a more beautiful location for our wedding reception.

Although rustic barn weddings have become the new wedding trend, we’ve decided not to go that route. My dream wedding is simple but elegant and classic.

We’re renting a big white tent which will sit in the grassy area between the barn and the house, which you can see in the picture above. Inside the tent will be seating for dinner, and depending on the weather, room for dancing.

(pinterest inspiration)

Cocktail hour will be held in the yard in front of the house, with the bar atop an old springhouse. I’m hoping the weather will cooperate and we can have dancing there as well.

When people hear that we’re having the wedding at home, the first response is something along the lines of “What a great idea! You’ll save so much money that way!” Let me be the first to say that this isn’t the case. While I wouldn’t trade our venue for anything, having the reception at home means that we have to bring EVERYTHING in. Tent, tables, chairs, linens, flatware, china, catering, alcohol, lighting, and even restrooms. For some reason the house plumbing can’t handle 200 people for the evening?! ;-)

We were aware of the costs coming into wedding planning because Jim’s sister had her reception at home a few years ago, and we decided to decrease costs in other areas of the budget to allow for our dream wedding at home.

A major factor on the pro/con home wedding list? The ability to plan ahead and have full control of the look & feel of the venue. From planting flowers that I like to painting the shutters, everything (except the weather!) is pretty much under our control.

We also had the unique opportunity to see our venue a year ahead to the date. Here’s top hoping that June 22 will be as beautiful in 2013 as it was in 2012!

Early Monday

My week got off to a verrrrry early start.

 

That picture was taken after I’d been up and about for half an hour!  Yikes.

On Thursday I’ll be starting my long-term substitute position.  School starts at 7:15, which means I’ll be leaving the house between 6:15-6:30 am.  I thought I’d better get a jump start on my new schedule this morning, since school starts about the time I’ve been waking up all summer.  ;-)

Instead of sitting like a zombie at the kitchen table, I took advantage of the extra time in my day and had 2 loads of laundry through the washer, another 2 loads folded, dishwasher emptied and kitchen cleaned by 7 am!  As soon as I finished, I packed up Sydney and my computer and headed to my parents’ house. (we don’t have internet, so I do a lot of work at my parents’ during the week)

While the computer was booting up, I fixed myself a passionfruit Cho bowl with oats and walnuts and poured another 1/2 cup of coffee.

 

Perfect way to start a Monday!

On the agenda for today: some wedding planning, online shopping for a friend’s engagement gift (I may spend the day on Crate & Barrel!), a P57 workout, walk with Sydney and then a tennis match this afternoon!  I’m also hoping to do some meal planning for the week.

Here’s to a productive Monday!

Sunday in the Kitchen

If Saturdays are cleaning day, Sundays have become baking day around here. I love the thought of spending the afternoon in the kitchen with no obligations. :)

This morning we were actually able to sleep in for a bit…puppy included! When we finally rolled out of bed I had one thing on my mind- pancakes! Bisquick for him, pumpkin oat protein pancakes for me.

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Recipe to come!

After breakfast we had a few things to get done around the house and I prepped living room tailgate goodies before leaving to help with a tennis camp for an hour. Feeling full from breakfast, I managed to keep my fingers out of the chips, salsa, relish and smokies in bourbon sauce. Barely ;-)

After tennis is was kitchen time! First up was a double batch of French bread.

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We don’t usually keep white bread around the house, but this was a special exception because it was meant to accompany my next concoction- chili.

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I’m really not a fan of chili, but it’s fun to make and Jim had some guys over to watch the Eagles/Ravens matchup so I figured it would go over well. And according to the guys went over great. :) It’s hard to judge a recipe when you don’t personally eat the food!

In between recipes I stopped for a quick, late lunch of smashed chickpeas and avocado atop two slices of fresh bread. Simple but tasty!

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Last up was a batch of oatmeal cookies. Last weekend I made a batch that was great, but throughout the week I had a few ideas for healthy swaps and changed today’s recipe up a bit. Let’s just say that the lack of butter does not equal lack of taste. These guys are awesome…another recipe to come. ;-)

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As soon as I hit publish and finish up my mug of tea, I’m headed off on a run with my favorite little lady!

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Cleaning Day

Another day, another pumpkin spice!

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Sydney and I dropped Jim off at work again this morning before doing some grocery shopping…all before 8 am. Of course that called for some caffeine with a shot of pumpkin. :)

Saturday’s have become cleaning day at our house. Jim usually works until noon and I take advantage of the empty house to do a good cleaning!

As soon as the pup and I made it home, I got to work unloading groceries and cleaning the kitchen. It was 10 before I realized I had skipped breakfast. This never happens.

After the sweet coffee I was in the mood for a savory breakfast- a change of pace from my usually sweet yogurt and berry bowl. I used up the rest of the cooked l quinoa I keep on hand in the fridge and topped it with 1/2 an avocado, a dippy egg, squeeze of lime and salt.

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A punch of protein and healthy fats was exactly what I needed to tackle the rest of the mess.

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I was extra motivated to finish quickly so I could break out some fall decorations I’ve been itching to put up! I promised Jim I’d keep the pumpkins away until October, but that didn’t stop me from changing all of the bright summer colors to orange and brown. :)

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Today’s a rest day so I don’t have an official workout planned, but we’re headed to a fundraiser for my brother’s college golf team this afternoon where I hear we’ll be hitting some range balls.

Other than that, the plan for the day involves Penn State football and risotto for dinner!

Hope you’re enjoying this gorgeous Saturday!

Ready for the Weekend

Popping in for a quick post before the weekend officially begins!

I spent most of the morning doing work with a trembling puppy on my lap:

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Sydney had a confrontation with her arch nemesis today- the vacuum. ;-)

I also spent a good chunk of time changing out my summer/fall wardrobe. So ready for the change of seasons after the pumpkin spice this morning!

Before I knew it the morning had gotten away from me and I had two hours to workout, shower and grab lunch before leaving for the match. I decided on the express version of my favorite workout- physique 57.

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Love love love the burn in my quads after a quick 30 minute workout! Afterwards I took Sydney on a 30 minute walk/jog (we’re still working on the leash thing!) and made it back just in time to shower and throw together a lunch to eat on the bus.

Beans to the rescue! My go-to combo of black beans, avocado, tomato and lemon juice:

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Hit. The. Spot.

I also grabbed a Luna bar for the match and snacked on two mini pumpkin muffins one of my players’ grandma baked. Someone was definitely on my wavelength!

After complete blowout with a team we weren’t slated to beat, I’m ready to get this weekend started! Off to my parents’ for crabs!

Have a great weekend

Ps the wedding page was updated today!!

Wedding: The Proposal

Obviously I started the blog to keep track of my pre-wedding shape-up, so I thought I’d start a wedding page to keep track of the planning process! Let’s start things off at the beginning: the proposal.

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First a little background. Jim and I go way back. Like all the way to first grade way back! Yep, we even had the same teacher. ;-) So we’ve technically known each other since. Fast forward to middle school, Jim’s family moves in down the street and he quickly becomes one of my best friends. I inevitably had a crush on him the whole time but could never quite get up the nerve to say anythings. (isn’t that how it always goes?)

In high school we played tennis together and I began dating another guy on the team, going on to date him through senior year and into my first year of college. Jim had a few girlfriends here and there, but we stayed great friends.
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Which takes us to the end of sophomore year. I broke up with my boyfriend of a few years, Jim was single and needed a date to his sister’s wedding, and the rest is history. :-)
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Five and a half years later, we decided to take a vacation to Jim’s family’s vacation home in Naples, Florida. Originally it was planned as a group trip but schedules didn’t quite match up with our friends for one reason or another and it ended up being a trip for the two of us. Ok with me, I had my heart set on getting to Harry Potter World in Orlando and had a feeling we may not convince our friends to join. ;-)

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Butterbeer!

Our second day in Naples was perfect. We started off with a long run/walk on the beach and spent the day relaxing on the sand and by the pool. I had ingredients on-hand for a dinner I’d been dying to try- seafood risotto courtesy of EatLiveRun. (try it, trust me!)

Since we had no plans to go out, I showered and threw on some old clothes to cook in and was shocked when Jim offered to help. (not that he’s not helpful, but the kitchen is typically my domain) The risotto was ready just in time for a sunset dinner and drinks on the balcony.

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Although I was pleasantly stuffed from the risotto, I didn’t want the perfect day to end and suggested a walk to Ben & Jerry’s. Little did I know I played right into the plan. ;-)

We decided to watch the sun completely set and walked along the shore as the sun slowly sank. After capturing about 100 sunset shots on my camera, I turned back up the beach ready for that ice cream. Instead, Jim grabbed me in a hug (odd), said lots of sweet things (even more odd, but I want that ice cream!), and then got down on one knee (cue freak out!).
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Obviously I said yes, and forgetting all about the ice cream we hurried back to the condo to call everyone. Turns out my parents weren’t surprised because Jim had asked my dad!  He even had a bottle of my favorite champagne chilled in the fridge and ready to go. :-)
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I’m not one to wish away a vacation, but I spent the remaining 5 days itching to get home so the wedding planning could begin….
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