Sunday, July 22, 2012

Roasted Veggies

Tonight was my mass cooking night. Since the Husband works late hours he's rarely home for dinner and it's honestly the worst trying to get up enough motivation to cook meals for myself. In order to make sure we eat "real" meals and so that I don't have to cook alone every night, I've decided the weekend will be my chance to cook some meals ahead of time to lessen the cooking time during the week. Tonight I made a few things, but I tried a brand new recipe from Pinterest!

To start I chopped up a bunch of veggies:
1 1/2 zucchinis
1 cup broccoli
1/2 red pepper
1/2 red onion

Then, I steamed the zucchini while I drained a can of pitted black olives and a can of marinated artichoke hearts.

Once they were slightly soft, to stop them from cooking and getting mushy, I dumped them into a bowl of icy water for about a minute and drained them.

After the zucchini was blanched, I put all the veggies in a large bowl with italian dressing. I tossed the veggies until they were all coated lightly in the dressing. Once they were coated in the dressing, I put them on a baking sheet and sprinkled them with salt, pepper, dried basil and a little bit of dried oregano.

I roasted the veggies in the oven at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes flipping them a few times.

When I took them out, I sprinkled them with parmesan cheese, tossed them with a bit more dressing and they were ready to go! They smelled absolutely delicious!!

Try any new recipes lately?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Little Details: Stationary is SO Important

It's true. Wedding stationary is vital, but it does not have to be SO expensive. 

For the next post on the little details of our wedding, let's talk about the important detail: wedding stationary. This includes everything from save-the dates to response cards to place cards. All of these details can add up if you pay a company to order and print personalized stationary for each aspect of your wedding. I've found that paying the big bucks (some people pay up to $500 or even more for their invites alone!) is not necessary.

There are a few alternatives like buying kits at Michael's for instance where you can design and print your own at home. Of course the print quality may not be as great as your invite from the expensive printing company, but honestly those invites get thrown out eventually. You can still have something that's beautiful and make a statement without paying a huge chunk of your budget for it.

Luckily, I have a mother who is excellent at calligraphy and who wants to soon set up her own business doing calligraphy for peoples' special events as well as possibly designing and making hand-made invites and cards. She's super talented. 

As a wedding gift she did our stationary for us. 

Photo courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography
Since our colors were Navy, Ivory & Yellow accents we decided to keep the stationary to just the navy & ivory for formality. My mom purchased this gorgeous navy paper along with large sheets of the navy/ivory designed paper from an online paper store for under $100 (paper for all stationary). The invitation had 5 layers. Navy on top of the ivory paper that had the navy calligraphy on it with a 3-layer stripe consisting of navy paper, ivory ribbon, topped with the navy/ivory damask paper strip. 

My dad was handy since he was able to scan my mom's original calligraphy onto Photoshop on our computer. He touched up the calligraphy and was able to make mass prints so my mom only had to do the calligraphy once. 

For the ceremony programs, my mom used a slightly different design, but we kept the same color scheme going. It's important to do this to give the wedding a sense of cohesion. 
Photo courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography
We used templates we purchased at Staples. The templates had an ivory border and we scanned in my mom's calligraphy once again along with the monogram she designed using scraps from the paper she used for the save-the-dates and the invitations (which matched). Once they were all printed, the paper was folded 3 ways and tied with a navy satin ribbon. We used double sided glue dots to hold the ribbon into place in the back. 

 Originally I was going to have salt-water taffy for favors and hang place cards inside a giant picture frame. Luckily, my aunt offered to make red and white wine for our favors! So, to save paper and time, we decided to use the wine bottles as both the favors and a clever place card display. Guests picked up their wine bottle with their name and table number tied around the neck of the bottle.

Photo courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography
Of course that beautiful navy/ivory damask design returned on more scraps from the invites and save-the-dates. The tags are actually large place cards that my mom cut in half and punched holes to string through the navy satin ribbon (scraps from the ceremony programs). 

Photo courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography
 The labels were designed by both my mom (the monogram that was also on the ceremony program) and my aunt since my aunt is a graphic designer and had the equipment to design and print mass labels to put on each wine bottle. 

So, the guests grabbed these beautiful bottles of home-made wine and walked towards their seats to find these adorable table numbers!

Photo courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography
The wedding had a nautical theme and since lighthouses are important to both the Husband and I we wanted to incorporate them somehow. I found these 5-inch wooden lighthouses on Etsy. They were $12 for 15. Then, I had my dad saw a small slit at the top where the table number would sit. I painted them --and had to do several coats to get the finish I wanted.

My mom did calligraphy numbers and used the same paper she had left over from the invitations (ofcourse!)

I think total, between the save-the-dates, invitations, envelopes, stamps, calligraphy supplies, ribbon, place card stationary, and ceremony stationary the total cost for ALL of our stationary was around $300 but no more than $350. Pretty good if you ask me!

I hope my mom starts up her business because she did an absolutely amazing job and I am so lucky to have had her!

Next, we will talk about some of the little sentimental touches we added to make our day super personal. Stay tuned!

Greek Quesadilla

Tonight the Husband and I went to a local winery that was having live music with some family. Instead of BYOB since there was wine by the bottle or by the glass it was BYOF (bring your own food). So, I needed something quick and easy to pack up to bring along.
I chose a recipe I found on Pinterest and tweaked it a bit. 

First, I chopped up:
1/2 cucumber (peeled) I also took out the seeds since I don't like the seed part of cukes.
1 handful pitted black olives
1/2 red onion
1 medium tomato
1/2 avocado
2 handfuls spinach

After spraying my pan with olive oil cooking spray, I placed one whole wheat tortilla on my nonstick pan. I spread the spinach first on top of the tortilla, then spread the chopped veggies on top of the spinach. 

I added a handful or two of crumbled feta cheese and lots and lots of shredded mozzarella cheese. 
Then, I placed another whole wheat tortilla on top and waited for the quesadilla to begin to sizzle on medium-high heat. 

After a few minutes, once the cheese was melted, I flipped the tortilla (very carefully) to cook the other side for a few minutes (until lightly browned). 
Tip: unlike I did, put enough cheese around the edges so that once it melts it prevents the veggies from falling out when flipping the tortilla

Then, cut with a pizza cutter in however many pieces you desire and enjoy!

The Husband and I put ours in tupperware containers and headed out to Old York Cellars in Ringoes, NJ for some lovely music, tasty food (thanks to Pinterest), great music, and amazing wine! 

Old York Cellars
What did you do this Friday evening?

Blueberry Pancakes & Batman

So, the husband had off of work today. I love when he doesn't have to leave after lunch for work only to return as I'm practically comatose in the bed at 11:30pm. A few nights ago I had high hopes of getting tons of studying done while waiting for him...only to wake up the next morning to find out when he came home I was practically unresponsive with my books and computer strewn across the bed. Clearly I either need to work on liking coffee or work on changing my time clock to match his work schedule.

But today he's home and we had extra time to make some delicious breakfast: Blueberry Pancakes! yum.
One of my favorite foods in the world are berries--all kinds of  berries. And, it doesn't hurt that they have amazing antioxidants, especially blueberries.

However, blueberries aren't the cheapest fruit in the world let's be honest. Plus, with this horrible drought we are experiencing in New Jersey, produce has become even more expensive than normal. No bueno. Luckily, I've found that purchasing frozen berries instead cuts the cost QUITE a bit and after running alittle water over the berries they are as good as fresh! (almost)

So, for these scrumptious blueberry pancakes I used 1/4 bag of frozen blueberries and paired it with a pancake mix by Aunt Jemima (I totally cheated I know). I've been eyeing up some recipes on how to cook pancakes from scratch i.e. wayyyyy healthier. But on this morning I was extremely lazy it was just too time consuming.

I wanted to try a new way to eat pancakes to cut back on the obvious amounts of sugar the "normal" way to eat them includes. For instance, the way my lovely husband eats them!

I tried to top mine with a dollop or two of plain low-fat greek yogurt instead. (and obviously less pancakes).

Honestly, I would recommend trying it! It was delicious and added a bit of tart to the sweetness of the blueberries. Next time I'd add one dollop less though since a little seemed to go a long way.

Anyway, it was a delicious breakfast! I was quite proud of myself...and next time I will attempt to try to cook them from scratch instead of being lazy  cheating!

After breakfast, the Husband and I went to see the new Batman movie! It was amazing and a perfect activity for such a rainy and chilly summer afternoon. We went with his brother & his brother's girlfriend. It is totally worth the money (I usually vote to wait until movies come out on DVD instead of paying oodles of money at a theater). One suggestion: don't ever drink almost an entire large soda by yourself during an almost 3-hour long movie. Ever. By the last half hour of the movie i.e. when all the good action occured, I had to pee soooo bad it hurt like crazy! I was wiggling and jiggling in my seat and fighting back the sweat resulting from the amount of pain my poor little tummy full of soda was undergoing. I managed to last through the end of the movie (minus the last 30 seconds during which I was jumping over people to race down the steps towards the potty). I hope this has never happened to you because it was NOT pleasant!

Aside from that little experience, it was a lovely Friday afternoon and I would totally recommend both adding blueberries & greek yogurt to your pancakes as well as seeing Batman Rises. Do it.

What do you like to do on rainy afternoons?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Living your Life

Just wanted to pop in quick to share something I saw on Pinterest that was incredibly inspiring to me.

Lately, as you may have noticed given my lack of posts up until recently, my life has been probably the most hectic that it has ever been. Every time I think that things may slow down a bit, more things pop up.

Especially in our world and culture, it is so easy to get wrapped up in things like graduate school, doing well at work and making a great living that will be sustainable and profitable. It's also easy to get caught up on tasks, hobbies, things we feel we have to do to please others or present ourselves in a certain way to others.

This cute little inspirational quote inspired me to do exactly the opposite. Focus on living life. If we are so busy trying to be perfect we'll most likely forget the journey and most importantly, the people we are on this journey with.

Just some words for thought :)

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Little Details: Centerpeices

Okay so let's be honest. Weddings are super expensive. When we first got engaged one of the very first things we did was decide on a budget. Luckily, very luckily we had a huge amount of help from my parents, but living in NJ where weddings seem to be more expensive than purchasing a car or even a down payment on a small house...we needed to do some creative money saving.

One thing we did to help out with the budgeting process was to choose 2 items to "splurge" on. Meaning, 2 of the most important aspects of the wedding that we would spend more money on and then figure out how to save money in the other areas. For us, photography was among the most important items and the venue which included the food/cake & location combined. My parents fortunately forked the bill for the venue, but we had to come up with the means to afford most of the other aspects of the wedding. 

One of the ways we saved the most money was with our decorations. I  was surprised to find that flowers/decorations are often one of the most expensive bills for the wedding! To me this was ridiculous considering that flowers die. Sure, you have pictures with the flowers and centerpieces (sometimes) in them, but for several thousand dollars I wanted to do my best to save a buck or two. 

Photo courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography
Ofcourse, I did find an excellent florist willing to work with us within our budget (that I will share was exactly $1,800 for all flowers in ceremony, reception, and wedding party). We used flowers that were in season as well as lots of greens and large blooms so we needed less stems to make big impression.

Gig Morris Florist: yellow daisies, green & white hydrangeas, white peonies, green hypernicum berries,  yellow freesia & plenty of greens
Photo courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography
In addition, we did a lot of the decorating on our own. The biggest cost cutter was doing alternating centerpieces. Every other table had the beautiful centerpieces the florist designed:

The florist used the same flowers in the bouquets and used a navy/white striped ribbon to adorn a simple glass cylinder vase.
Photo courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography
The other centerpieces were large hurricane glasses we purchased at Michael's for $7 each using a 40% off coupon each time to save even more money! We filled each hurricane glass with sand we purchased in bulk at Lowe's and wrapped an ivory rope around the base to give it a more nautical feel. My mom twisted the rope and glue-gunned the ends to make sure it stayed in place. We purchased navy pillar candles online to put in the center. 

Each centerpiece cost approximately: $11 including the hurricane glass, candle, sand and rope.

Photo courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography
As an additional touch to this super inexpensive but classy centerpiece, we added small tealights in simple glass holders we got from IKEA. The glass holders were $1.99 for 12 and the tealights were $4 for 100. 

Next time I'll share more details on the stationary, place cards & table numbers. 

LBI mini-vacation

Hello all! 

First of all, I just wanted to apologize for the lapse in time between my sneak peak into the wedding details...and the actual details. oops! I guess moving into a new home & getting settled into married life is a bit more involved than I thought! Well, I guess it doesn't help that I quit my job about a week ago and in the same week began taking a 6-week intensive summer graduate course huh? More on that later.

I promise to get back to the lovely details. Just wanted to pop in quick to tell you about our mini vacation. The husband's aunt graciously invited us to her lovely beach home in LBI, so we went down there Sunday-Monday evening. 

We had a bit of a late start due to working uber late Saturday night. So, we didn't get ourselves out to the beach until almost 3pm. But it was beautiful!

Well, beautiful for the 15 minutes it took us to lather ourselves in sunscreen and sit down only to realize a huge stinking storm was on the way. Unfortunately we didn't stay at the beach much longer. 

Fortunately, we were able to take a trip to a super yummy seafood restaurant called The Boat House.
The view from the back of the restaurant looking over the bay.

The Husband got grilled chicken and shrimp over penne with a pesto sauce.
I got mussels in a white wine garlic sauce with a side caprese salad. yum!

And we got to watch the crazy storm roll in. And linger. The husband got some pretty awesome shots of the crazy lightning. 

Luckily, after a relaxing evening, Monday was a full day at the beach. We stayed a full 5.5 hours in the roasting hot sun. It was glorious! I got a good start on the 3rd Hunger Games book. And the husband finished a book he was reading. 

Don't you love trips to the beach? Even if they are short, they never fail to relax and rejuvenate me!

What mini-vacations have you taken lately?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Little Details

So, remember back when I was planning my wedding? Well, the planning is finally over! Horray!
The wedding went wonderfully and I have to say that after all that planning, things do come together nicely no matter how stressful it is beforehand. It's so hard to imagine all the little details coming together in the end, but they surely did!
The next few posts I am going to share with you a few of the DIY decorations/projects I did for the wedding. I can tell you that nothing I did took too much talent or crafty skills since I neither had the time nor the energy to put in that much effort. Also, I was pretty frugal and saved alot of money shopping with 40% off coupons at Michael's and finding great deals online. Hopefully some of these ideas will inspire you if you or someone else you know is needing to plan a wedding or even some other kind of party!

So to begin this series, I am just going to give you a few sneak peaks of what the actual outcome looked like. Then, on a night when I am far less exhausted I will share more details for each project.

My color inspiration was from this picture. Navy dresses for the girls and grey tuxes for the guys.
The dresses I picked for the girls are from Bill Levkoff's line of bridesmaid dresses. They are a navy satin with a sash that ties in the back. The groomsmen are wearing a grey calvin klein suit from Men's Wearhouse.
Photo Courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography

This was my inspiration for the bouquets. I wanted something with lots of texture and bright whites, yellows and greens to brighten up the navy. I hate roses so I wanted more garden-type flowers like ranunculous, green berries, peonies, hydrangea and daisies. I also wanted to give the bouquets a special touch with patterned ribbon like the second photo.
Both photos from:
The bouquets came out exactly how I imagined and now that I look at my inspiration photo--very much like what I originally wanted! Plus the florist put in more peonies than I thought she would since they are expensive. I was pleasantly surprised!!
Photo Courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography

For a special touch, I wanted to rock some colored shoes instead of the usual white.
I went with navy shoes with bows on the heel to match the girls' dresses. I loved them and they were even pretty comfortable!!
Photo Courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography
Photo Courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography

I originally wanted to have the place cards on a large picture frame tacked up with pretty tacks and background fabric that matched our color theme somewhat like this.
Fortunately, my aunt makes wine and offered to make us red and white wine for the favors. Then, we had the idea to hang tags on the bottles as place cards for a kind of "two-for-one" deal. With my aunts expertise and my mom's artistic skills we ended up with beautiful favors that doubled as place cards eliminating the need for my original idea. But I liked the end result much better.
Photo Courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography

That's all for the sneak peak. Stay tuned for actual tips & details on how I did a few of our DIY projects.

If you were married what special touches did you add into your wedding to make it unique? Have you ever been to a wedding where the couple did something really neat that you loved?

Hopefully everyone had a fabulous fourth of july! Even if it was in the middle of the week. Maybe some of your were smarter than me and actually took off some days of work... Happy almost Friday!

** Side note: All of our professional photographs were taken by Kara Loomis Photography. Please visit her site for more of her exceptional work! Kara Loomis Photography **