Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What I'm Cooking Wednesday: White Chocolate Popcorn

My mom makes white chocolate popcorn around Christmas (although hers is a bit different than what I'm going to share today). This isn't so much a recipe as it's two ingredients that you may not have thought to mix together, but the end result is soooo, so good.

Okay, here's what you wanna do:

1. Pop a your favorite bag of plain or butter-flavored popcorn.
2. Melt about 3 white chocolate baking squares (3 oz) I added about a half teaspoon oil to the chocolate, just to make it smoother.
3. Drizzle the chocolate on top of the popped pocorn. Stir and shake a few times so the popcorn is evenly coated.
4. Add a pinch of salt, or a little more to taste. Because I'm learning that everything sweet tastes better if it's salted.

The perfect movie night snack if you have a sweet tooth like me! If you like kettle corn or caramel corn, you will probably love this! I made a bowl on Sunday night movie night when we watched "Cedar Rapids." Weird movie, GOOD popcorn.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Week in Review: Julie's Wedding!

Last week was a whirlwind of activity with Julie's wedding. I'm sure I'll be posting a lot about that this week. So today's "week in review" is a big overview of the fun wedding week!

~ On Sunday after church, Luke, JC, and I went out for some Five Guys and shopping. I bought some last minutes things for the wedding, plus these cute yellow shoes that I'm obsessed with~ Sunday evening we took my Dad out for Father's Day to Applebees. It was a fun night spent with family before the crazy week began!

~Later Sunday night, Luke and I watched Meet the Fockers, which was surprisingly funny! Sunday night movies are beginning to be a tradition of ours.

~On Monday I took a trip to Pittsburgh to IKEA with my family. We shopped there all morning, enjoyed a lunch at Steak and Shake, and then looked for a few more last-minute things for the wedding. It was a great time spent with my family, and the last really laid-back time we had together that week. ...this is the best picture I could get :-P

~Monday night I visited with my grandparents for a little while since I hadn't gotten to see my grandpa on Father's Day. We talked about the wedding most of the time.

~On Wednesday I received a panicked text from Julie saying she felt stressed out and needed help with wedding stuff. So I was at my parents' house for about 5 hours working on programs and other wedding-related things. Then my mom invited me to stay for dinner which was nice. Getting to spend so much time with my family the week of Julie's wedding was a real blessing. (I'm not sure how much Dad enjoyed his job of making ribbon wands :-P)~ Thursday was the day the real craziness began. I needed to clean my entire house because one of Julie's bridesmaids was going to be staying there, along with baking for the cookie table at the reception. I woke up early and didn't stop until my head hit the pillow later that night (uh, the next morning I guess) at 2 AM. I don't know that I've ever had a more productive day :-P

~The real excitement started on Friday! I went to the church in the morning with a bunch of family members and bridesmaids to help Julie set up the stage for the wedding. She got married in the new, HUGE sanctuary at our church, so a lot has to be done to the stage to make it feel "weddingy." We were probably there for 3 or 4 hours hanging draperies and setting up plants, flowers, and candles. As you can see, my dad was ready to crash after that, but we still had a full two days ahead of us.

~Friday afternoon, I went to my parents' house with Julie and two of her bridesmaids. Julie had made a slight mistake in the programs, so we were spending the afternoon gluing a little tab on each and every program to cover it up and fix it. Mom and Dad ordered a pizza for us, and we went to town. Below are Meredith and Sarah, two of Julie's bridesmaids, hard at work.
~Finally after hours of cutting and gluing, it was time for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner! The rehearsal went well. Julie's dog was in the wedding, and it was my job to walk the dog down the aisle. It went pretty well at rehearsal, so my stress level went down a bit. I promise she's adorable, even though she just looks like a black blob in this picture
The rehearsal dinner was a Hawaiian Luau at Andy's parents' house. They must have been cooking for a month getting ready! There was so much food! It was all delicious, and we all had a great time. Here's a picture of all the bridesmaids opening cute wedding day survival kits from Julie
And a picture of the bride and her matron-of-honor ;-)

~After the rehearsal dinner, the night was not done yet. We finished fixing the programs, and then had to decorate the reception hall. We couldn't even get in until about 10:00 PM because there was an event there on Friday night! It was a late night to say the least, and I felt like a zombie when I got home around 1. But I think all of our hard work paid off
Are these not the cutest salt and pepper shakers ever?

~Saturday morning I was up bright and early simply because of excitement, I think. Shortly after getting up and getting ready the wedding preparations began. I went to the reception hall to help finish up some last minute set-up, then went to Mom and Dad's where Julie put a cute little waterfall French braid in my hair.

~At 1:00 it was time to head to the church to start getting ready! I had so much fun with Julie and the other bridesmaids! We got all ready and then had lots of pictures taken. Julie and Andy opted to see each other before the wedding and do most of the pictures then so their guests wouldn't have to wait forever at the reception hall. They did have a sweet little reveal moment where Julie walked down the stairs to him. I'm sure I'll be sharing more about that some other time. After that, we all walked to the old schoolhouse across the street from my house. We got LOTS of stares from people as we walked along the side of the road in our dresses and heels. haha! And a very strange man with no shirt and a beer in his hand watched the entire photo shoot from his picnic table. Umm, awkward. Haha... I can't wait to see the pictures though...the photographer had some very cool ideas for pictures including one of all of us walking down the center of the road. A somewhat busy road. So yes, we risked our lives for a good picture :-P Anyway, it was a really fun afternoon getting ready for that evening!

~Before we knew it, it was about time to walk down the aisle! I was so nervous that Oopa (the dog) would do something crazy. And all the other girls and especially Julie were feeling very nervous about the ceremony. so about 10 minutes before it was time to go out, we started a game of 20 questions. This helped so much, and we were laughing so hard by the end of it!

~The ceremony was so beautiful! Oopa and everyone else did great :-) I'm sure I'll write more about that later too.

~ After the ceremony, it was time to party! I am sooo glad we were able to do speeches pretty much as soon as we got there so I didn't have to be nervous about mine for long! I'll be sharing my speech sometime on the blog too. Anyway, the food was delicious - they had a mushroom ravioli that was to die for! The dancing was fun, and the company was even better. It was one of the best receptions I've ever been to, second only to my own. Okay, I may be a little biased :-P We danced and talked and laughed all night. So much fun!
**For anyone who read my post on Friday, please add to the list that JC can dance. Or at least he can Dougie ;-)

I am so happy for Andy and Julie, and can't wait to see what God does in and through their marriage. They leave for Scotland on Thursday, and I told Julie there better be hundreds of photos for me to drool over when she gets back! Haha!

Congratulations Julie and Andy! Love you guys!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Menu Monday

I have been a little busy for a few days while I watched my sister...

...become a wife!

Well, I don't think "watched" is exactly the right word. I can think of a million verbs to describe the things I did during the wedding weekend, and "watched" is barely one of them. It was a whirlwind week and weekend, and from Thursday until Saturday night I took only two 5-hour breaks to sleep, and that was it. I don't have all my photos and thoughts quite organized from the weekend, but I will be posting a lot about the amazing wedding and reception once I do!

So today instead of writing about the wedding, I'm going to share my weekly menu. I've seen a lot of other bloggers do this, and I love to read theirs because it gives me great ideas for meals. Also, on Pinterest, one of my in-real-life friends jokingly commented that I should post a picture of my chalkboard menu every week so she knows what to make :-P

So I've decided to do that on the blog. I don't know how often I'll do it, but I think it will keep me motivated to plan my meals, which is helpful during the week, and saves money at the grocery store. Also, most of the recipes I use are found online (using pinterest!) so I'm going to share the links as well.

I don't plan my meals for certain days of the week. Our schedule is too unpredictable and that doesn't work for us. But I do like to think of 5 or 6 good meals to make during the week. We usually have at least one night where we eat out, or eat something really simple like hot dogs or mac and cheese from the box :-P

Friday, June 24, 2011

Show Us Your Single Friends

I'm excited to be participating in Kelly's "show us your singles" day! As soon as I heard about it, I knew I wanted to feature my friend JC.

JC and Luke have been best friends for awhile, and as the years have gone on, JC has become one of my best friends, too! As you can see from the picture, he is a very talented musician. He plays bass in a worship band at church.

JC also enjoys sports: playing and watching them. He's an active guy, and not the kind of person who just sits around doing nothing during his free time. This is obviously a big positive for any girl who would like to get to know a really fun guy!
Another great attribute is that he is extremely artistic. He's just about to graduate from college once he finishes a semester of student teaching. He is going to school for art education. He's a very talented artist and photographer. Here's a sample of some of his work:
I know a lot of ladies out there are looking for a great, CHRISTIAN guy. And JC would fit that bill. His Love for the Lord is evident in the way he lives his life. And just like my husband, I can see it every time they play their instruments
He is an extremely fun guy too (as I mentioned before). It's no wonder he and Luke get along so well...they are alike in that way :-)

JC is 23 years old, and lives in Northeastern Ohio. If you are interested in getting to know him, leave me a comment and I can hook you up with his facebook info or email address! You won't regret it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Have I Really Not Written About Pinterest Yet?!

I joined Pinterest 2 or 3 months ago, and it has literally changed my life! All of my craftiness and creativity I've been feeling lately is a direct result of my time spent on Pinterest.

I'm sure you all do by now, but if you don't know, Pinterest is basically an idea-sharing website. You can take anything you love from anywhere on the Internet, and "pin" it to your idea boards. Let's say you stumble across a blog that has a great recipe or craft idea. Simply click the "pin it" link in your toolbar, and it's immediately saved for later when you want to try it.

But my favorite part of Pinterest isn't just saving things I find on the internet; instead, it's perusing through other peoples' "pins" already on Pinterest. You can search just about ANYTHING, and come up with thousands of quality results. I am absolutely addicted.

Here are some examples of great things I've found on Pinterest lately:

This amazing coupon organizer that snaps onto your cart
Found Here

These fun, adorable 4th of July snacks
Found Here

Some amazing cake ideas for a bachelorette party! (I wasn't brave enough to try either of these for Julie's party, but I wish I had been! So cute and girly!)
Found Here
Found Here

I've used it to find craft ideas, organizational help, recipes, dream house and current home inspiration, and so much more! It just makes me happy :-)

Go request an invite NOW if you haven't already!!

And follow me!! I will definitely follow you back, because I love seeing other people's ideas! I'm nosy like that ;-)


**As a sidenote, I think What I'm Cooking Wednesday will be taking a back seat for the summer. Luke has taken a second job helping his cousin most evenings, and when he's not doing that, he has softball games or band practice. So that means I've been living off of salads and sandwiches, eating alone most evenings, and haven't been cooking a whole lot. I'm sure it will be back in full swing this fall!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chalkboard Project

Yesterday I completed my 6th DIY project of the year, meeting the goal I set for this year in my New Year's Resolutions. And it's only June! I should have set a higher goal, but I'm just happy I met it. And I even have another craft in the wings, halfway completed too! It has been a crafty summer :-)About a week ago, I bought some supplies while out wedding shopping with Mom and Julie. I found this big, blue, wooden frame-type thing at Goodwill, and then bought some chalkboard spray paint at Michael's and some white spray paint at Flower Factory. And the idea for my chalkboard project was born.
The project couldn't have been simpler. I just spray-painted the frame white, then a few days later I taped off the white part when it was totally dry, and spray-painted the inside with chalkboard paint. (I tried to use foam core board for the inside, but it was too thick to fit inside the frame. But that's why it's in the picture).

I bought enough chalk to last me a lifetime at IKEA yesterday, and used it to turn my chalkboard into a menu to hang in my kitchen. I really like the finished product, and I think the frame looks soooo much better in white rather than blue!

(Wish I had better handwriting! :-P)

Next project in the works? A coffee filter wreath. I think it will look cute in our living room!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Week in Review

I've decided to start doing Week in Review a little differently, because recapping every single day got a little tedious, and it's getting too hard to remember all I did! So instead, I'm just going to highlight some of the fun things that I don't want to forget :-)

Highlights this week:

~ On Sunday we went out to lunch at Grinders with JC, Luke, and Maria. It was fun and delicious. Maria and I talked almost the whole time about couponing. What can I say? We are obsessed.

~On Sunday night, Luke and I watched a movie and it was nice :-) We had to stop the movie halfway through and watch the end of the Mavs/Heat game, and we were extremely happy to see the Mavs win. It's much more fun to watch Lebron choke after he's completely abandoned your team :-)

~ On Monday, I went out shopping with Mom and Julie, mostly for wedding stuff (It's next Saturday!!!!) We ate lunch at the delicious Penn Station, where I had a tasty sub and the best fries maybe ever (fried in sunflower oil, mmmmm). While mom and Julie shopped for wedding stuff, I perused the stores for craft ideas. I will be sharing some shortly! It was a fun day together.
~I spent a lot of my days this week at the church library again. We are making great progress! I love spending so much time there, and I feel like I've finally found my "niche" in a place to serve at church. It inspires me to read! So I also finished Here Burns my Candle and read half of Captivating this week.

~Tuesday night, my friend Rachel had a Pampered Chef party. I love Pampered Chef, and it was fun to hang out at the party with friends from church. I bought some flexible cutting boards which I think I will love! I also won the prize drawing, and won a reusable Pampered Chef grocery bag, and miniature bamboo spoons. I never win anything, so I was pretty excited :-)

~On Wednesday I met up with Sarah at Grinders for lunch together. It was so nice to see her, and hear all that she's been up to.
~I spent the afternoon on Friday lying out by the pool with my sister. It was a nice, relaxing time, but I regretted it later when my skin was the color of a lobster and screaming in pain.

~Friday night was such a fun night! Luke's whole family took his Dad to the Indians vs. Pirates game for Father's Day! It was dollar dog night, so as soon as we got to the field we all bought some hot dogs and sat on a picnic table on the upper deck concourse to eat. Then we made our way into the stands. Our seats were pretty high up, but right behind home plate. We had a pretty good view! It was a beautiful, perfect night, and the Indians won 5-1. After the game there were fireworks set to 80s music (it was 80s night). The fireworks show is always so great at Progressive Field, and one of my favorite things about summer. After the show, "Don't Stop Believing" was still blaring over the speakers, and I think everyone in the entire ballpark was singing at the top of their lungs. It was great.

Movies I watched this week: Just Go With it (B)

Books I'm reading: Ezra in the Bible, Finished Here Burns my Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs (excellent book!), and started Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge.

Songs I'm loving: Yours to Hold - Skillet

Favorite Picture this week:
TONS of yellow lilies around our house! I guess all that incessant rain this spring was good for something!

Things I'm looking forward to next week: Oh, nothing much...just MY SISTER'S WEDDING!!! I can't believe we're just a week away!! And of course I'm looking forward to all the wedding prep too, and the rehearsal dinner. It's sure to be one jam-packed, amazing week!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Here Burns My Candle: A Book Review

I am part of a program called Blogging for Books through the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing group. It is a great program! Basically, I get free books just by reviewing them on my blog. If you like to read, you should sign up!

I recently read the book Here Burns my Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs. I met Liz a few years ago when she was the speaker at a Christian conference I attended, so I thought it was about time to read a book of hers. She was an amazing speaker at the conference, and her writing did not disappoint either.

Here Burns my Candle is a historical fiction novel set in Edinburgh, Scotland in the mid 1700s. I won't give too much away, but it is based upon the Old Testament story of Ruth and Naomi.

First I will say that the book was very slow-moving at the beginning. I had a very hard time becoming interested, and would let the book set unopened for days at a time. However, around page 200, the drama quickly picked up, and I could not put the book down! Higgs takes a long time setting up the back story and the characters, but once it's all in place, she takes the reader on a very exciting ride!

I have always loved the Biblical story of Ruth and Naomi, and Higgs does a great job of bringing the story to life in a new setting. The Biblical story and this new fictional story weave together perfectly. The feelings and emotions of the characters were so real they were almost palpable. I was so engrossed in the story that I found myself shedding a few tears during multiple parts of it.

Although difficult to get into, this book was definitely worth the read. I am excited to read the sequel, Mine is the Night.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this Review. All opinions are my own