His Design

Friday, May 31, 2013
Do you ever find yourself thinking about your past? About how you made it to the point in your life that you're at today? I know that I occasionally hash out my life and in those times there are moments I wish I could do-over. But that's about as far as I get when I am abruptly stopped by overwhelming gratefulness. My entire train of thought switches from what could have been, to thank God for what has been and is now. I  am humbly reminded that my life is not on the path I decide, but His. And even though I may stumble and make mistakes at times, God uses that to make a difference in my life. He allows me to learn and grow from the life situations I chose to take into my own hands, always bringing me back to Him and reminding me where my faith should lay. How can I not be in awe of His wonder and ability to love and stick with me at all times. I know that the doors that were shut and the opportunities missed brought me to this time and place in my life. Although not easy to understand then, it's so clear now where God's plans were trying to get me. I can never express my appreciation for the life I lead today. For the man I'm going to marry, the family I have and am gaining, the friends that surround me, and the daily blessings bestowed upon me. My outlook on life so drastically changes, when I keep God in my sight and in my heart. It's His timing that keeps this world going round and my life forever prospering as He destines it to be. 

Sweet Potato Biscuit Heaven

Thursday, May 30, 2013
I've always been a fan of sweet potatoes and it all started with my Mama's sweet potato casserole that makes one appearance a year (at Thanksgiving). So lately, as Pete and I have tried to eat healthier, sweet potatoes have made their way into my life more than just once a year. And so, while at a seafood restaurant this past weekend, I was more than happy to try out their complimentary sweet potato biscuits. Pete and I fell in love almost instantly (with the biscuits of course, because we're already in love with each other). They were the perfect combination of salty and sweet. The warm butter spread on them made them that much more delectable. It didn't take me long to decide I was going to try making them myself. Because only having these in the OBX wasn't an option, I needed them to be available whenever I had a craving. So last night for dinner, I figured up a recipe and made some strikingly similar biscuits. I even impressed myself with the likeness in taste and appearance!

So if you haven't ever had sweet potato biscuits, it's time you introduced yourself. Besides, once you get over the sugary ingredients it takes to make them, they're healthy right?? Enjoy some sweet potato goodness in the form of drop biscuits and you'll be asking yourself how you have never had them before!

Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits
  • What You'll Need:
    • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
    • 3 TBSP canola oil
    • 1 TBSP maple syrup
    • 1 TSP apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 TSP salt
    • 2 1/2 TBSP sugar
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 TSP baking powder
    • 1 TSP cinnamon
    • 2 TBSP water
  • What You'll Do:
    • Preheat the oven to 400°
    • Cook your sweet potato (I opted for the microwave instead of the oven; took approximately 8 minutes, but depending on the size you will need to adjust that).
    • Mash the cooked sweet potato until it is puréed. Do not add more than a cup or the consistency will be off for this recipe (unless of course you are doubling).
    • Add the oil, syrup, & vinegar to the mashed sweet potato and stir until mixed.
    • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix.
    • Next, add the water (possibly needing more or less so the consistency is the right doughiness)
    • Lastly, drop heaping spoonfuls of the dough onto a baking sheet, covered with parchment paper, which keeps the drop biscuits from having a dark brown bottom (I am not a fan of brown/burnt food). 
    • You'll have about 10 golf ball size drop biscuits; bake them for 12-15 minutes until the tops are slightly brown and springy to the touch. 

Wedding Wednesday: Getting It All Organized

Wednesday, May 29, 2013
I'm a Type A personality to the 'T'. I love plans...plans that are made in advance and not the last second. I also love lists (my whole life has at some point been on sheet of paper in bulleted format). And I really love being organized, especially when it comes to events/big things that are happening. So when I say I have a plan for my wedding and I am trying to keep everything organized, it's no joke that I really am. But I'm struggling lately to keep up with the demands I have placed on myself. Luckily, I got so many "to-dos" accomplished right after the engagement, and that has been a lifesaver. Now though, with four months and a week left until the big day, I am overwhelmed with what still needs to be done. I am pretty sure I have a million different copies of the same To-Do List scattered around in binders, folders, notebooks, and pockets. On a Tuesday I've lost the list, started a new one on Wednesday, only to find the original on Thursday. I have so many half-finished lists that I don't know what to do with myself. And every time I think I will condense it down to just one list, I get sidetracked or forget altogether. So each time I find a list, I get reminded of what hasn't been done or what never made it onto the most current list. Keeping up with me?? I know it's chaos.

Having said all of this, today I have been working on a seating chart for the reception. Not knowing who is coming, but only who is invited, I wanted to stay ahead of the game and try to set it up now with the information I have.  So hours, on InDesign, later and I still haven't narrowed it down that well. If Pete hadn't stepped in to make me relax, my computer might have ended up out the window and three stories down (okay, not really, but close). Because I am trying to stay ahead, keep up, and outdo myself, I have put so much unnecessary pressure on myself. I keep freaking myself out with thinking I will forget a crucial element or a part that I really want to include. My intention is to keep the stress lower when the wedding gets that much closer, having already gotten a foot in the door with the plans. However, I'm thinking the opposite is actually happening. What I really need to do is breathe and trust the man upstairs will guide me through this like only He can do. Oh wedding planning, I have such a love/hate relationship with you. But, I know regardless of how this planning/organizing/list-making turns out, I still get to marry my best friend. And there's nothing to stress over about that :)

OBX Fanatics

Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Pete and I LOVE spontaneity! In fact we agree it adds some spice to life and keeps the world on its toes. That's why, this Memorial Day weekend, we made the impromptu decision to find ourselves at the beach for a three day excursion. Having spent a week and a half in the Outer Banks last May (camping, no doubt), we knew we wanted to try a new area of the barrier islands this time around. Thus, Kitty Hawk it was! Only staying for a short stint, we opted for as much beach time as possible, which meant a leave time of 4 a.m. on Saturday. We're so crazy for the beach aren't we?! Of course, in our minds it was completely worth it, giving us all of Saturday to do the most important things...like lunching at a seafood cafe, searching for blue crabs to dine on because we can't go to OBX and not get crabs, taking in the beach scene, and watching a beach wedding, which made us completely giddy about our own wedding! Sunday, my adventurous man decided he would find us a secret slice of beach to enjoy all by ourselves where we had a picnic lunch and naps under the sun. A dinner date and Sweet Frog trip that evening rounded out our trip. Even with surprising chilly temperatures and the oddity of wearing sweatpants to the beach, we had a fabulous time being just where we needed to be. Funny what a little hydrotherapy and salty air will do for your soul!

Stars & Stripes

Monday, May 27, 2013
Happy Memorial Day!
Cheers to the unofficial start of summer, beach season, cookouts, camp outs, fire pits,
lightning bugs, Italian ice, & sprinklers! A huge thank you to those serving
and having served; you make all this possible! God Bless!!

I'd Like It If...

Friday, May 24, 2013
  • there were never those hard, white pieces of lettuce in my salad (yuck to that dirt taste)
  • every bedroom had a ceiling fan in it
  • there was an American version of the Bento Box
  • heated seats existed in movie theaters (it's always cold in there...or is that just me?)
  • there were more 3 day weekends
  • time could slow down occasionally
  • summers off weren't just for students (those were the days)
  • my hair would fall perfectly everyday (oh wishful thinking)
  • better movies were made these days (I've got my fingers crossed for The Great Gatsby)
  • HGTV would come knock on my door one day for home renovations
  • my closet consisted of the clothes on my Pinterest board
  • recipes with the title "perfect cookie" were actually just that and not the opposite (I fall for it every time)

Sometimes it's okay to just...

The Hobo Meal

Thursday, May 23, 2013
Pete introduced me to his cooking when we first started dating. Lucky for me, he's a extremely good at it, especially when it comes to creating a new dish. One of his specialty dinners is the hobo meal.  Sounds peculiar, I know, I was weary at first too. But it's so delicious and a really fun meal to put together. Let me explain (and take you back in time)....

The first time we ever had hobo meals together was last May. We were supposed to be preparing for finals, but after tedious hours of studying we opted for outdoor time sans books and notes. With dinner approaching and a fire pit waiting to be used, Pete suggested his famous hobo meals. To the store we went to gather the necessary supplies: foil, olive oil, potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and steak.  And once home we prepped the meal by cutting up all the ingredients to bite size pieces, putting them on a large piece of aluminum foil, drizzling it in olive oil, sprinkling salt & pepper, wrapping it up tightly in the foil, and tossing the pack on the fire for about 15-20 minutes. See, it really is such a simple dish!

And of course, you can't forget the fun involved. There's the blanket you'll lay out on the ground and relax on, the outdoors you'll be enjoying, the fire that will be flickering (a great excuse for s'mores for dessert), and the time together. These hobo meals were very much a Pete thing, but now they have turned into our thing. And when we get the opportunity we make sure to put them on the weekly dinner menu. I may be biased, but you don't want to miss out on this wonderful dinner experience. Not only will you get an amazing meal, but some really great quality time too!

^^Mouth watering goodness^^
^^Our latest hobo meal included a side of corn, because Pete and I are crazy about some corn^^
Every time we make the meal we try to come up with new ingredients and seasonings to add, if you try it out or have suggestions, I'd love to hear! Share your experience by commenting below! 

Wedding Wednesday: The Countdown

Wednesday, May 22, 2013
322. That was the number of days I started counting down the day Pete and I booked the church and reception venue. Since then 6 months have passed and the number of days have decreased to 136. I LOVE seeing the number get smaller and smaller, which is why I decided I wanted a new way to tick those numbers off of the calendar.

So, Monday, when Pete got home from work, I told him we needed to collect branches. Confused he went along (asking plenty of questions in the process) and helped me find a handful of branches (hopefully it isn't illegal to snag branches off of a public tree...oops). Once inside, I explained that we would be making a countdown tree. With numbers written on small pieces of paper and ribbons strung though the small punched holes, our 'tree' would be adorned with the days leading up to our wedding. The plan is to pluck off the current number each evening, until our 'tree' is bare and our big day is finally here. 

It's precious time in this season of engagement and we are enjoying every moment. But no mistaking, we are incredibly excited to get hitched!!

Small Town Roots

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Home is a gravel road laden with trees that winds up a hill and to the left. It's a field that mimics the ocean waves in summer when the wind gets caught up in the growing grass that will eventually be cut for hay. It's chirping birds and roaming animals, even the rodent type that I strongly dislike. It's a thicket of pine trees that touch the sky, and a fence row my Pops put up and my Daddy maintains. Spring at home is full of color, with deep blue skies that are happy to have said goodbye to winter. There are calm nights and awakening critters. And there are my Mama's planted flowers arranged just so in the flowerbeds and scattered on the porch in their clay pots. In the summer it's a fire pit and wooden swing, sunsets going down into the surrounding mountains, and frogs singing away in the pond. There are piles of cut wood, of the pine and cherry kind. There is dew on the grass in the mornings and spiderwebs that seem crystalized by the overnight condensation. Home is ingrained in my soul. It's knowing just how the air will smell when I arrive after an absence. It's a welcoming hug as I cross the border into my town, as if it knows I'm back once again. Home is small, yet full of familiar faces and places. It's a deep sense of pride that will always be tucked in the corner of my heart. Home is home and always will be. It will never stop being a special place just for me. No matter my distance, my current location, my desire to get away....home will forever be calling me back.

The Graduate

Monday, May 20, 2013
She's 5'3", a book-reading connoisseur, and brunette. She played 'house' with me, Barbies, and dress-up. She loves animals, movies, and experimenting with different hairstyles. She's full of spunk, loving, and laughs a lot. And she's officially a VT alumna! The girl I'm speaking of is my little sister and she definitely deserved all the attention being on her this weekend as she graduated from college! It's hard to believe she has finished her undergrad career and is now on the verge of beginning her beautiful adult life. She's going to be fantastic...simply phenomenal!

Congratulations Lauryn, I'm so proud of you!!!