getting creative with dessert

Hello loves.

I come to you today with a purpose!

I know you all just loooovvveee my random posts of what I’ve been doing or maybe lack of what I’ve been doing. Seriously I would not blame you guys if you thought all I did was go out to eat and drink beer.

Wait.

That happened too.

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But back to my tasty creations.

Remember when I did my Valentine’s Day re-cap and mentioned that Matt absolutely loved his coconut banana chia seed pudding dessert?

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Well when we were thinking of what to have for dessert one night I realized I had all the ingredients to make my own. So I thought why not give it a whirl?  I had made chia seed puddings in the past, so I knew the general techniques, but have not used banana’s before. Seemed pretty simple though.

 I think my version looks pretty comparable.

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But would it taste comparable?

Well regardless of if it tasted exactly like the dessert we had that night, it was delicious.

Coconut Banana Chia Seed Pudding

Ingredients:

- 1 ripe banana

- 1/4 cup coconut milk (or milk of choice)

- 2 tablespoons chia seeds

- 1/2 tablespoon honey (or sweetener of choice)

- 1 teaspoon coconut oil (optional)

- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

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Directions:

- Place banana, coconut milk, honey and vanilla and coconut oil if using in a magic bullet or blender

- Blend until smooth

- Fold in chia seeds

- Pour into container and let chill in refrigerator for at least 4-6 hours.

When ready to eat top with more banana slices and coconut chips.

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I love making chia seed puddings because they are so simple to make, don’t require a lot of ingredients and can easily be tweaked to so many different flavor profiles.  These might be making more appearances in my dessert or breakfast rotation. Chia seeds give this such a great overall nutritional punch being a good source of protein, fat, carbohydrates and fiber.

Speaking of desserts, I made another pretty epic one recently.

I had finally jumped on the protein cheesecake train and have been having so much fun playing with the flavors. I typically make mine into bars since I have a mini loaf pan and it makes them the perfect size for portable snacks and for single serving desserts.  The other night I wanted to jazz it up and bit and really, what goes better with cheesecake than chocolate….or peanut butter. Or both?

And thanks to this wonderful gem from Chike Nutrition I could have both.

Have my cake and eat it too?

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I’ve used Chike Nutrition Coffee Protein drink in the past (obsessed) so when I saw they came out with a new protein powdered peanut butter, I pretty much knew I would love it.

And I did. And I love that they had a chocolate flavor as well. Because I’m pretty sure chocolate and peanut butter are two of my favorite things.

So I made a nice little chocolate peanut butter drizzle to go over my protein cheesecake and basically had the most amazing dessert ever.

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 So basically I’ve had some pretty delicious desserts lately and with these you don’t have to feel incredibly guilty about eating them because they are packed with nutrition.

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Have you made chia seed pudding before?

What’s your favorite dessert?

my last single valentine’s day

Hello my loves!

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day regardless of if you are in a relationship or single. I kind of have the outlook that it is just a Hallmark holiday, but I am not going to lie, I am a girl and what girl doesn’t like a holiday about love?

This Valentine’s Day was an extra special one for me. It was the last Valentine’s Day before Matt and I will be married!

Ahh! Seriously guys, my wedding is in a little over a month away. I really hope I have everything together.

But on to my Valentine’s Day recap.

I had to work that morning, but Matt and I had made dinner plans for the evening. We really don’t go all out and just always look forward to a nice evening out together.

My day did start with flowers.

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Ok confession. These were not my Valentine’s Day flowers. Matt and I kind of bickered the day before and these were according to Matt “Sorry I was a butthead flowers”. I did get Valentine’s Day flowers (which I had to sit at work an extra hour to wait for because they were delivered late) but those have yet to bloom and these were just as pretty.

And I got Matt in my opinion the best card ever.

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Yes,  I got him a giant Valentine’s Day card. I mean. As soon as I saw them, I couldn’t not get it for him.

Before I had to go to work, we decided to go get coffee together.  We stopped at the Starbucks that is next to my work and not only did my barista put a cute foam heart in my Flat White, but they also had cute little photo-booth cut outs laying on the table. Matt and I of course had some fun with them.

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Then to make my morning even better, one of my co-workers brought in Einstein Bagels and some of them were shaped like hearts! Super cute. And super yummy.

For our Valentine’s Day dinner we decided to dress up a little bit, and of course had to take some bathroom selfies before we left.

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For dinner we chose to go to True Food Kitchen, which is a place we both love, but haven’t been too for awhile.  We knew they would be busy and made reservations for 7:00pm. Before dinner we decided to go grab a drink and of course went to our favorite Whole Foods which was right down the street.

Oh and more selfies happened.

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When it was time for our reservation we headed down to the restaurant.

I was pretty hungry so we decided to get an appetizer of their herb hummus and pita.

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 Oh my goodness. This hummus is amazing. I love the addition of the feta cheese. I really think feta is one of my all time favorite cheeses!

I tried not to lick the whole plate as I was very excited for my entree.

I actually decided to try something new, which for me is rare, once I find a dish I like I usually stay with it, but I was really in the mood for salmon, so I ordered their Thai Green Papaya Salad and added salmon to it.

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1. Seriously look at how huge that piece of salmon is. And yes. I ate every last bite.

2. I love how much avocado they give you.

 This salad was very fresh, and being a huge lover of kelp noodles, I was excited to see so many of them in the salad.

I definitely would order this again.

Matt ordered the Panang Curry and he added tofu.

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I of course stole a few bites and it was delicious as well.

And what would Valentine’s Day be without dessert?

I absolutely love their flour less chocolate cake and was looking forward to it during the whole meal.

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Matt ordered the Coconut Banana Chia Seed Pudding. It was very very good. I think we both made good choices!

So overall, a very good night out and we had such a great time together.

I am very excited for our next Valentine’s Day which will be our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple!!

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Did you do anything special for Valentine’s Day?
Do you prefer to go out or stay in?

no cow bars & other foodie finds

Hey loves, long time no talk huh?

I think it can go without saying that my life has been a bit crazy lately.

Two months today until my wedding!

I can’t believe it!

I feel like I am uneasily calm about the whole thing, but I’m pretty sure we have all things on track.

-fingers crossed-

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Even though things have been insanely busy ( and a bit boring ) I do have a few fun things to share with you.

Including some fun foodie finds!

I use to have such a bar obsession, then I think I realized I was eating some pretty crappy bars and just stopped altogether, but now with my crazy mornings at work, I rely once again on bars for a quick little snack and boost. But I didn’t want to go back to crappy bars again.

That led me to doing some research and trying to find higher quality bars made with real natural ingredients.
I stumbled upon D’s NaturalsNo Cow Bars.

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Did I mention I’m a sucker for good packaging? I love when companies but effort into not just shoving their products in any ole box.

 Upon opening the pretty little box I was welcomed with some delicious looking bars.

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So as mentioned I was looking for a non-junk bar. And I think these fit the bill.

They have no artificial ingredients, are dairy, soy and gluten free and have no added sugar.

Sounds pretty good to me!

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These bars have a soft texture which I love and were pretty tasty. I thought like my beloved Quest Bars these might be good warmed up, but I am sad to report, not so much. But as I mentioned these bars are pretty soft as is, so they really don’t need it.

Other random fun foodie finds?

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Health-Ade Kombucha.

I found this at my Whole Foods, it’s a bubbly kombucha with really neat flavors. I decided to try the Pink Lady Apple first and it was really tasty. Love me some bubbles!

What I love is this company still only uses the three simple ingredients of brewing: tea, sugar and water. It’s organic and made in small batches and they only brew certain flavors when the ingredients are in season. How cool is that?

I’m excited to try more flavors of these!

Another new to me item that I finally tried..

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The beet hummus from Trader Joes.

Another item I had been seeing all over Instagram and finally caved in and bought.  It is really good, I would say you definitely need to like beets (which I do), but it’s a nice switch up in flavors.

I have found that I have been relying on pre-packaged items and eating out a lot lately. By time I am done with work, I just have no desire to cook. So a few dinners out may have been happening as well.

But foods out are more interesting anyways right?

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Because when a co-worker asks me out for happy hour, how can I say no to wine and pizza?

I mean just look at that cheese.

Then I had pizza again, just in a slightly different form.

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Mini english muffin pizza’s! These tasted just as good as they look.

And another new to me fad that I’m sure isn’t new to most of you…

You know when you see a bunch of people do something on Instagram? And you think, that just can’t be as good as they claim.

Well. Sometimes it is.

So let’s make it clear I am a huge lover of avocado. I eat it by the spoonful. I had been seeing people post on Instagram how they sprinkle it with salt. I just couldn’t imagine it making that big of a difference.

Well loves, it does.

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I smashed half an avocado on a Rudi’s Organic Spelt English Muffin and decided to sprinkle a little salt on it.

Total game changer. And I now don’t think I will be able to go back.

So thank you Instagram. Thank you.

Well loves, I know it was a short update and I hope to be back soon with more goodies for you.

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Teaser:

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Check back for a full review on Nicole’s Naturals gluten free waffle and pancake mix and a giveaway.

Until then my loves.

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Have you tried any new products lately?

What are some foodie fads you recently tried?

let’s play catch up

Hey loves! Yes I know it’s been awhile. But this girl has been busy.

So let’s play catch up should we?

I had my final wedding dress fitting, but since I want to keep the dress a bit of a surprise, no pictures. Matt and I however have seemed to start a tradition of getting a celebratory drink after we have a wedding accomplishment, so we met at a local bar to have a drink.

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I know you were expecting to see a picture of a beer, and don’t worry, I had one of those too, but I saw the bartender make this drink and it just looked so good. It was gin, muddled strawberries and cucumber, and simple syrup. It was very refreshing, I’m not typically a huge gin fan, but it was great in this drink.

So about this wedding, needless to say I am getting excited!It will be here before I know it!

In the meantime I have been busy with work as per usual. Nothing new with that. But some things that are new?

I have been in contact with Truly Organic Foods for some time and was finally able to try some of their products. They are an online store based in Canada that offers raw and vegan foods. Their  wide selection of raw and vegan organic superfoods include raw chocolate, maca, lucuma, mesquite, raw organic nuts, seeds, goji berries, hemp seeds and protein powder, spirulina, coconut oil, organic teas, organic herbs and spices, Himalayan salt, vegan protein powder, vitamineral greens, gourmet organic raw nut snacks. It’s an amazing source for basically anything you could want.

Here are some items I decided to try.

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Superfood Cereal, Coconut Flour, Pure Wraps – Coconut Wraps, rawmio hazlenut utter, and nud raw vegan cracker crisps

I of course immediately dug into the nud vegan crackers as they were one item I was very excited to try.  I personally love that green taste, so I thought these were delicious! I have yet to use the wraps yet, but those were another item I was very excited to try. And let’s be real…chocolate hazelnut butter is basically the best thing ever.

I am very eager to try more products from Truly Organic Foods!

I wish I had more home made goodies to show you, but as of late I have had no desire to cook!

I did make some delicious waffles however, but I kind of cheated with using my FlapJacked protein pancake mix.

This stuff is soooo good though and makes it so easy!

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I had only made pancakes with it prior, but I am happy to report that it makes amazing waffles as well.

Other then that it has been a lot of meals out.

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The most amazing beer cheese and pub pretzels while watching football at our new favorite Sunday football hangout.

And as if you’d be surprised, a sushi date at our favorite sushi joint happened as well.

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Sashimi and a salmon roll are pretty much my go to’s. But hey, if it’s not broke don’t fix it.

Other random scenes.

I’ve been (slowly) reading this book. I have heard that it just has really good information in it, with all my inflammation and bloating issues going on I’ve dabbled with the idea of doing a Whole 30. Regardless of if I decide to do it or not, I love reading about nutrition in general.

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 I just only wish I had more time to actually read it.

Oh. And in case you forgot. I do cute things sometimes.

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I left Matt a cute message on his Starbucks cup one morning.

Other then that loves, it’s been pretty boring around here.

I hope you all are having a wonderful start to your new year and a great weekend!

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What are your weekend happenings?

out with the old, in with the new

Hi loves! I’m back with more life updates for you! Because as promised there have been a lot in such a short amount of time!

So last I left you with my birthday update, a few short days later it was time for the new years! Yes, I know I am a little late as we are almost a week into the new year, but life has been go go go for me lately.

First exciting news?

I got a new car!

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The car shopping process is not fun, I don’t care what anyone tells you, but when I finally found the car I wanted I was lucky to enough to have a smooth buying experience.

I ended up getting a 2014 Honda Accord  SE. And I love it.

I had such an emotional connection with my old car since it was my grandma’s, but the car never felt like it was mine.  After driving my new car for just a day, it already felt so much more like my car then my old car ever did.  So as sad as it was to lose that car for the emotional connection (and the fact that I didn’t have  a car payment) I am very excited for my car. And she is beautiful.

We kind of celebrated my new car in combination with New Years Eve. We typically don’t go out, but since we seemed to have a little more to celebrate we decided to get a little fancy for dinner.

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 Please excuse the non smiling face, but I just had to document the fact that I wasn’t going out in just a hoodie. I actually put real clothes on and felt a little pretty. Matt and I enjoyed a nice dinner and went downtown to celebrate the new year. Well, I didn’t quite make it to midnight. Guess my age is showing, I couldn’t keep up with the young kids and got a little too intoxicated a little too quick. We ended up going home around 10:30, but did manage to stay awake to watch the ball drop. And then immediately went to bed.

First change of the new year?

My hair!

This will probably be my last chance to go a little crazy with the color before the wedding so I took advantage of it.

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I wanted a lavender color, but since purple fades pretty quickly, she made it a bit brighter and told me it would quickly fade to the color I wanted. But I am loving it!

Loving it so much I can’t help but take a lot of selfies.

But not just any selfies – selfies with amazing new foodie finds.

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Have you guys heard of Eat Me Guilt Free? If not you need to go check them out. I discovered them when I was doing my gluten free elimination diet and fell in love. Their brownies and blondies are delicious – a perfect late night snack. I quickly became obsessed and ate them probably every night… until I ran out. That was a sad day.

But not before I took sassy selfies.

And the brownie warmed up and then topped with ice cream and coconut butter?

Don’t get me started.

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I really wish I had more of these.

Other then that, things have started to settle down here. Now that all the holiday’s have passed I can start nailing down the rest of this wedding planning.  I think the holiday’s kind of took my mind off the stress of the wedding, but I am hoping that I will get everything done on time and not have a wedding melt down.

Here’s hoping.

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Have you made any new years changes?
Any new years resolutions?

a perfect birthday

Long time no talk my loves!

I feel like so much has happened in such a short amount of time. Let me catch you up a bit.

It seemed like Christmas came and went in the blink of an eye and very quickly it was my birthday!

Considering my birthday is only three days after Christmas it really is a blink of the eye.

We didn’t have any huge plans for my birthday, really it’s just another day, but I was lucky this year for it to fall on a Sunday so I actually had the day off and Matt and I planned to just kind of play things by ear.

We have a Sunday tradition of going to a local coffee shop that also happens to serve alcohol 24/7.  Don’t judge, but on Sunday’s yes I do start drinking at 9am.  But I get a Pomosa, which is a Mimosa, but with pomegranate juice instead of orange juice, so it’s kind of healthy right?

Whatever, it was my birthday.

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The day only got better. Matt was nice enough to treat me to a manicure, so he took me to do that while he did some work at home. Matt has been amazing since my car accident, since the insurance deemed my car totaled you are only given a rental for 7 days after they make an offer on the vehicle. I found that kind of silly, but Matt had been great about taking me to work and carting me around town so I can run my errands.  It may seem small and something a significant other “is suppose to do” but Matt was so selfless and never made me feel like it was a burden to take me places. That kid seriously humbles me sometimes.

The one thing that we did plan for my birthday was dinner.

And I’m sure it’s no surprise what I wanted.

Sushi.

We went to our favorite sushi restaurant and decided since it was my birthday we would get a little crazy and order something new.

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Well nothing too crazy for us, we both know we like eel, but have never gotten the eel nigiri so we decided to start with that.  It was amazing. I have a feeling we will be getting it every time now.

Matt and I then split some tuna sashimi and he got a soft shell crab roll.

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I decided to go with the salmon roll – one of my favorites.

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Dinner was of course delicious and was a wonderful birthday treat.

We had plans to go to our city zoo as they hold a special event called Zoo Lights, but it has been ridiculously cold here and all I really wanted to do was go home, put on some sweatpants and relax.

But not before picking up some dessert.

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Staying classy with frozen yogurt and wine.

It was the perfect way to end my birthday.

Well loves that is at least a quick update to what’s been going on, however I have so much more to tell you.

Lot’s of new and exciting things have already happened for me this new year!

Until then I hope everyone has had a wonderful start to their new year!

merry christmas 2014

Merry Christmas all!

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I hope you all had a wonderful holiday that was filled with family, love and of course good food!

Christmas isn’t all about gifts, it’s about the time spent with our loved ones and cherishing all the joy we have in our lives.

Mine was filled with lots of love and fun times!

Matt and I did our Christmas on Christmas Eve morning since we were going to his parents for Christmas day.

I think everyone was ready for Christmas, even Ra!

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(where’s all my gifts mom?)

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Matt and I both had some errands to run before we headed to his parents, so after a quick gift exchange we headed out. I was just recently in a pretty bad car accident (my car ended up being totaled) so I had made a chiropractor appointment – turns out I have pretty bad whiplash. Matt had an issue with some of his Christmas gifts that he ordered for his mom being delivered to the wrong house, so he went out to buy some quick replacements.  We both got done around the same time so we decided to meet for lunch and a drink.

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We then packed up and headed up north!

Matt’s mom has been sick with a cold, so once we arrived we told her we would finish up the Christmas cooking!

We were then given an early Christmas gift… new aprons!

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We had decided to do Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve since I was needing to leave the next day due to having to work Friday.  This meal was of course delicious, but different since I am doing a gluten free elimination diet.

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Thankfully I could still enjoy the delicious turkey and ham, but couldn’t indulge in my beloved stuffing. I made myself a sweet potato instead and Matt’s mom was amazing and in addition to making her famous homemade gravy, made me my own separate gravy as well. Dessert was also hard in that I couldn’t have a slice of this delicious looking cheesecake.

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Lets reeeaaallly hope that I am not gluten intolerant.

Christmas morning we all slept in a bit and once we finally rolled out of bed, we had some coffee and made a make shift breakfast of left overs.

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I had brought my own Udi’s bagels – topped half with butter and peanut butter, had some left over ham and an apple.

Not a glorious Christmas breakfast, but it was tasty enough.

Then it was gift time! I know Christmas isn’t all about the gifts, but it is a perk.

Matt took the roll of passing gifts out!

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Even though every year we tell his parents not to go crazy – they never listen. Needless to say they spoiled us yet again this year.

Too soon it was time to say goodbye for me. It always seems like our time together is so short, but I cherish every moment I have with my second family.

We did manage to get a family picture in the short time spent together.

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And as per usual I requested a wacky pose.

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As per usual they obliged.

Yet another reason why I know I am going to love my life with my second family.

So loves, I hope you all had a great holiday season!

It three short days it will be my birthday and then the new years! And then before I know it my wedding!! Oh where does the time go!

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Happy Holidays!

adventures in wedding planning

So I come to you today in awe that 1. It is already December and 2. It is less than 4 months until my wedding!

If you couldn’t guess that is why I have been a little MIA lately. I can not even begin to describe how busy I have been lately. Work and wedding panning has basically taken over my life.  I am happy to report that I am slowly but surely getting things done.

First exciting thing? We got our engagement photo’s back and I couldn’t be more in love with them.

I don’t want to bore you and bombard you with pictures of myself, I’m not that vain, but here are a few of my favorites.

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And if you couldn’t guess, yes we are having a beer themed wedding.

So I must say I have been pretty proud of myself for getting a lot of the wedding stuff done by myself. Matt really is no help, but 1. He’s a guy and 2. He has been very busy doing free lance work. This free lance work is helping pay for the wedding, so I can’t be too mad at him for not being very involved in the planning, but it has also made it that much more stressful for me. Thankfully my mom took some time off and flew out for a few days to help me get some things done.

Let me tell you she was a huge help.

We scheduled a menu tasting the day she flew in and unfortunately her flight was delayed and she was late to the tasting, but she made it just in time for the good stuff!

Some of the items we tasted:

(what i ate wednesday style)

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Hor d’oeurves

Smoked Salmon Mousse Canape

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The salmon was amazing. I am a huge lox and cream cheese fan and I am not sure what type of “bread” this was on, but the combination was just spot on. It’s sad that on my wedding day I probably won’t get to eat my hor d’oeuvres as they will be served during cocktail hour which is when we will be taking our photo’s, but maybe I’ll be able to snag a few.

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Salad

Baby Spinach, Walnuts, Dried Cranberries, Bleu Cheese Crumbles (we are substituting feta) and Raspberry Vinaigrette

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All I can say about this salad is the homemade raspberry vinaigrette dressing, was by far the best I have ever had.  There was bread on the table that I kept taking in order to wipe up every last drop of this dressing.

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Entrees

Pretzel Chicken with Honey Dijon Sauce

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This will be served with garlic mashed red potatoes and green beans. I was seriously blown away at how good this chicken was.  I honestly thought it just might be meh, but the chicken was so moist and flavorful.

The other guest option will be a steak, but for Matt and I’s personal meals, we upgraded to a salmon dish.

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Cast Iron Seared Salmon with Mango-Apple Chutney

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Served with garlic mashed red potatoes and green beans.

 Again, the salmon was cooked to perfection.

Needless to say I am more than excited to eat on my wedding day. I just have to make sure I don’t spill any on my dress! I’m not known to be the cleanest eater…

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After the tasting my mom went to her hotel to check in since she had came to the tasting straight from the airport.

We let her clean up and relax a bit and then we met  up again to go out for dinner.

We both have December birthdays and since I will not see her again till after we used this opportunity to celebrate and called this our birthday dinner.  The Bears game was also on that night and with me growing up around Chicago and her still living there it seemed only right to go to a spot where we could watch the game.

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We took her to one of our favorite pubs where I got one of my most favorite meals.

I got my usual Ahi Tuna Salad and she opted for a Tavern Burger.

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After dinner I of course had to treat my mom to some frozen yogurt.

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I think everyone and even my mom is surprised how much food I can pack away. I cleaned my plate and still got a full cup of fro-yo, while my mom and Matt who did not finish their meals were a little modest in the fro-yo department.  I swear I can just always eat.

The next few days were a whirl wind of wedding tasks, including a dress fitting, appointments with the florist, wedding favor shopping and assembling, but one last fun thing we were able to do together was she taught me how to make her famous pumpkin nut roll.  This thing is a high commodity during Christmas time, and now I am so excited that I will be able to make it on my own. It was also fun just spending that time with her, baking, and bonding.

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So overall the visit with my mom was a great one. Yes I was completely wiped by the end of it, but it was so nice to not only get to spend some time with her, but also get more items checked off my wedding to-do list.

I can’t promise that I won’t disappear again.

I swear, this wedding will be the death of me.

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Do you have any traditions your parents passed down to you?