wii ordered my ring...

FI and I traveled to visit my family this past weekend. While we were in town, we thought it would also be a good time to shop for my wedding band. The night before we went shopping, we happened to see a news snippet about a local, well-renowned jeweler that was offering an incentive - spend over a certain amount of $$$ on any jewelry and get a FREE Nintendo Wii game console. We went to another jeweler in the morning and then decided to check this place out (also knowing their excellent reputation).

They spent a lot of time with us and then, gave us a terrific quote on a custom ring to match my e-ring band (1/2 round eternity band, shared-prong setting). We decided to order it AND ended up finding beautiful pieces for both of our mom's for gifts for the wedding. So we checked out and...

...walked out with a Wii!!!!!

How cool is that? The Wii system was going to be our Christmas gift to each other this year and instead, we got it for nothing (it's worth $250)!!! When we looked at the ads this morning, we saw a shop that had Wii Fit and the Jillian Michael's fitness game on sale so that's what we got ourselves for Christmas (with an extra controller and docking station). WOO HOO...a huge check AND a game system that will help with diet and fitness for both of us :-)

Also, my sister and mom addressed all of my bridal shower invitations this weekend and they will be mailed out tomorrow. I've been checking my registry here and there and several gifts have been purchased already.

Everything feels at though it is starting to happen so quickly now...


thankful for...

  • Freedom

  • A wonderful family

  • A loving and devoted fiance

  • Having enough

  • A warm home

  • Clean water

  • Faith

  • The essentials

  • and the comforts

  • My sweet cat

  • Employment

I can't begin to count my blessings this year. I've found much contentment and joy in the past few years and am feeling at peace on this Thanksgiving day. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday, full of love and laughter!


let the baking begin...

At the request of a fellow knottie, here are the recipes for the two dishes I'm making for our Thanksgiving dinner:
Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins
(1 Muffin, or 3 minis - 180 calories, 2.5g fat, 37 carbs, 2.5g, fiber, 2.5g protein)
  • 1 box devil's food cake mix
  • 1 can solid pack pumpkin (15 oz.)

Directions: Mix the two ingredients together. Don't add anything else that may be mentioned on the box, such as eggs, oil, or water. The mixture will be very thick and you will be tempted to add in other things to make the batter smoother. DO NOT DO THIS AS IT WILL RUIN THE RESULTS!

Place batter into muffin tins (or mini muffin tins) lined with paper, or sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes 12 regular or 36 mini muffins.

This muffin recipe is tried and true - I've baked them at least 20 times and shared with numerous family members and friends. I've yet to come across someone who doesn't love them!

Maple-Sweet Potato Casserole
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 2 cups mashed cooked sweet potato (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Vegetable cooking spray

Place the cornmeal in a medium saucepan. Gradually add milk, stirring with a wire whisk until blended. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Remove from heat; stir in margarine. Set aside.

Combine sweet potato and next 6 ingredients (sweet potato through eggs) in a large bowl; stir until well-blended. Gradually add cornmeal mixture, stirring constantly. Pour sweet potato mixture into a 1 1/2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information - Calories: 204, Fat: 4.7g, Protein: 5g, Carb: 35.8g, Fiber: 2.8g
Compliments of Cooking Light


worth a thousand words...

Our e-pics are in! I knew that we had chosen a great wedding photographer but, these photos exceeded my expectations in every way!!! I can't wait to work with them again on our wedding day. Here are just a few of over 500 finished prints we received...

I have no idea how we will choose just one for the signature mat for our reception (although, I do have a few stand-out favorites). FI has been on a business trip all week and I'm so excited to go through them all with him when he returns on Friday night!


the countdown...

... until i marry the love of my life and become a Mrs! And in the time I still need to:
  • re-learn calligraphy
  • so that I can address 78 wedding invitations
  • assemble and mail said invites
  • find a hairstylist and book a trial
  • order my ring
  • order FI's second ring
  • figure out transportation and book it
  • book our mini-moon
  • finish shopping for BP gifts
  • print program interiors and assemble
  • attend a food tasting (Dec. 3rd) and choose the menu
  • make the ring bearer pillow
  • make the flower girl's pomander
  • buy pashminas for the bridesmaids
  • print and cut table menus
  • print and cut table numbers
  • make chocolates
  • assemble chocolate favor boxes
  • table arrangements
  • design and print placecards
  • dress alterations
  • get my arms in shape!
  • find more lingerie
  • buy undergarments for wedding day
  • buy jar for "wish jar"
  • cut and emboss wish jar cards
  • paint the aisle runner
  • paint the sweetheart table runner
  • paint the cake table runner
  • paint monogram on the cardbox
  • bathroom baskets
  • choose linens

And more...there is a lot more and I'm not even sure how much right now! It will all come together. I just have to believe!

On the DONE list...

  • Picked up invites yesterday
  • FI's first wedding band arrived yesterday
  • E-pics will be ready for pick up tomorrow!!!


he who carries the rings...

...must have them tied to something pretty!!!

I am a green fanatic and, even though I am controlling myself on how much we use the color in our wedding, there are some things that I see and MUST have. This was one I spotted on a newlywed's blog:
I left a comment asking where she got the fabric and, lucky for me, she posted again with the designer and fabric style - Michael Miller Dandy Damask in Avacado. Putting Google to work, I found the exact fabric on e-Bay and pressed the "Buy it Now" button immediately! That was Thursday - my yard came in the mail today in all it's green and white glory. I heart that seller...she is getting some fabulous feedback from me today!

FI's ring (1 of 2) has been ordered and should arrive by Friday!

And, KUDOS to my darling FI. I was away this weekend and he took it upon himself to go shopping and to purchase the main gifts for his groomsmen (deluxe Leatherman-type multi tools). Handsome, sexy & on top of wedding stuff. Love it.


confession and redemption...

I use jarred tomato sauce - all.the.time.

To many people (and nearly all of my own friends) this is unheard of, not done, equal to a culinary sin. Most of my friends are Italian, at least in part. They grew up on homemade sauce and have known how to make it themselves since before they were tall enough to reach the dials on the stove. My mom made her own sauce, too. I have vivid memories of the blue enamel pot of delicious scented red sauce simmering on the stove in my childhood home for hours. It was rarely eaten the same day, instead made ahead of time for meals over the week. The extra was then frozen for another time. Everyone knows sauce (as is true with stews and soups) is better the next day, after the flavors have all melded together.

I've made sauce once or twice in my adult life but, living alone for more than 12 years post-college it just didn't make sense to make a huge pot of sauce for one. So, convenience won and I gave in to jarred sauce. Over and over and over.

Then, I moved in with my fiance and domesticity set in. I've been cooking a lot, baking some and doing the majority of grocery shopping and meal planning for our little family. Dinner has become a thing of pride for me. We've even entertained a few times. This week, we will have another couple over for dinner. It's getting pretty cold here in NY and I want to make comfort food. Something delicious that won't require a half dozen pots and pans - I actually want to entertain AND enjoy the meal with our guests - go figure. So, I'm planning to make baked ziti. However, one of our guests is Italian and I just can't do it. I can't serve my guests (namely one who will know better) jarred sauce. My pride, and the fact that I actually do know how, had me in the supermarket at lunch time buying cans of pureed and crushed tomatoes and a bunch of fresh basil.

Which brings me to this: Penance for years of Classico, Ragu and all brands of jarred sauce and quick-fix meals. A simmering pot of sauce. Homemade. By me. In preparation for a meal that is still two days away. The house smells heavenly!

Crap. I think I might actually be a grown-up.


we need to register for HOW many gifts?

We set out this morning determined to finalize our two registries. We had started them early on in our engagement and have added one or two things here and there. With the holidays approaching, and with them more time commitments, we knew we needed to just finish up or it would be difficult to get to it in time for my bridal shower (January 17th).

When you go in to register, the Bridal Registry Consultant will often tell you how many items you should register for based on your total guest list. We were advised to register for at least 200 items at each store for our 140 guests. What??? Madness. We do NOT NEED 400 things. Heck, we don't even need 50 things at this point. We are both in our thirties and just finished merging two complete households this summer.

Not only do we NOT NEED any more stuff we are, in fact, bursting at the seems with stuff.

But, it is stuff we've registered for. Lots and lots of stuff. Mind you, we really do like it all. Mainly things we gotten by without up to this point (rice cooker, wicker hampers) or things that we figured could use an upgrade (glassware, matching luggage). Some things, such as a lot of silver photo frames, are in anticipation of pictures to come and the dream of one day having a lovely wall of family photos. And then, there is the Kitchen Aid mixer. In red. Because, really, it's not a true registry without a Kitchen Aid mixer. Seriously. When searching for a google image of the particular model we covet, I even came across a blog post entitled "kitchen aid color harmony" that put together inspiration boards for brides suggesting kitchen accents that will coordinate with their shiny, new culinary treasure. here is ours:

As if I needed further evidence that wedding planning is utter madness.

Still, the cloth napkins would be pretty cute at a dinner party. Just change the embroidered initial to "B"...hmmm...


invites have been...


The second set of proofs (with our minor corrections) were e-mailed to me tonight. They looked great so, I gave the go ahead. I'll be on the look out for a big box o' invitations two weeks from tomorrow. Life is good.


cold weather comfort food...

I haven't posted a recipe in a while and this one is a fall/winter FAVORITE! This is a must-make cold weather staple. And, as with most red sauces, it tastes even better as leftovers and also freezes very well!

Bolognese Sauce
Makes 4 servings

¾ lb. ground lean beef or ground turkey
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, chopped
3 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp tomato paste*
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ c FF milk
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground pepper
½ pound whole wheat spaghetti
fresh basil leaves for garnish, if desired

1) Spray a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray and set over med-high heat. Add the beef and cook, stirring frequently to break it up, until browned, 5-8 minutes.

2) Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the carrot and cook about 2 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato paste, basil and oregano; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Add the milk and cook, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes longer. Stir in the salt and pepper.

3) Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain, divide among 4 plates and top with sauce.

Serving size: 1 cup pasta, 3/4 cup sauce.
(WW: 8 points per serving)

* I use a whole can of tomato paste and add 2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar when adding the tomatoes. Both deepen the flavor without adding points.


make-up trial...

I just got home from my wedding make-up trial. The artist was so sweet and spent a lot of time working on my eyes, including individual false eyelashes, until we were both happy with the results.

The foundation was airbrushed and is supposed to last for up to 18 hours. Since my make-up was done today at approximately the same time as it will be on my wedding day, I'll be putting it to the test tonight when FI and I attend a dinner dance (at our reception venue). So far I love it...even in photos:

Update...the make-up held up ALL night and even better than expected. FI loved it, too :)


a little bit closer...

1. Flower Girl dress has been ordered!
I went shopping today with my flower girl, Amanda and her mom. I was thinking of steering her in the direction of either a green or light blue dress or, maybe silver. We found a matte silver dress with some white embroidery that was very sweet on her and she loved it. But, that was in the first store and she had been promised a girl's-day-out-shopping-spree so, one store and one dress simply would not do. So, that dress went on hold and off we went to another shop.

And, she saw it.

The poofiest, princessy, cream puffiest white dress you could ever imagine for a little girl. She was in L.O.V.E. even before it was on her. I'm talking full crinoline, sheer white organza skirt with white piped edging, white flowers and pearls at the waist and neckline and sheer organza cap sleeves. Serious poof.

Then it was on her.

I have never seen this little pixie grin so big. She twirled and whirled and lit up the shop in this cupcake dress.

How could we possibly say no? So, the dress is on order with the small alteration of alternating white and blue flowers and a blue ribbon tie in the back to pull in a bit of color. And, that little girl will float down the aisle on our wedding day and steal the hearts of everyone in the church. Hey, you are only seven once!

2. Card box has a slot and a base coat!
Thanks to my very handy FI, our card box has progressed from it's original state of country-not-so-chic decor to a lovely white box that will be a blank canvas for both our monogram and one of our favorite e-pics, when they are in.

3. Invitation proofs have been revised and sent back to the printer!
We looked them over today and sent them to my mom and dad for objective (?) glances and, after changing one line on the response card and moving up the RSVP date one week, they are off! Hoping they will go to print on Monday and that I will have them well before Thanksgiving...say a little prayer for me!

4. Room block decided!
There was hotel drama on Thursday morning that threatened to throw me right over the edge. Seriously. I won't get into it but, we had some words with hotel personnel. In the end, we will have a block at a local, newly renovated and beautiful hotel that I'm certain will take care of us and our guests.
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