Wednesday, September 30, 2009

You Are My Sunshine...

It takes 30 seconds to sing You Are My Sunshine. How do I know this? Because I sang it to myself last night at boot camp - as I always do - during our 30 second interval exercises. I counted, and I sang it 62 times last night. The entire evening was interval exercises.

Why that song? Get ready for vomit-inducing mushiness. Not long after Mr. Kingston and I started seriously dating, I caught a cold. We'd planned to spend the weekend together, and though I was sick, Mr. Kingston said he just wanted my company. So we spent the weekend on my couch, watching movies while he took care of me. He's the BEST nurse, let me tell you. At one point, in all my medicine crazed, shivery, snotty glory, I whined "sing me a soooong, I don't feeeeel good." Attractive, I know. And his selection was You Are My Sunshine.

Though I wouldn't say it's "our song" - the first dance at our wedding will be the first time we'll have ever slow danced to music - it's certainly close to our hearts. It's the guaranteed cheer-up for either of us. It's not uncommon for one or the other of us to sing it once a week just to make the other smile. Thus, it's my go-to song to get through a tough workout and take my mind off the aches in my muscles. And at the end of it all, I get to go home to My Sunshine.

Monday, September 28, 2009

We may now get married...

We got our marriage license this morning! The big number one thing on my to-do list has been checked off, and everything else is just a party. I'm pretty giddy after getting that taken care of. Mr. Kingston was his usual even keeled self, until I told him that we could get married now, then he got smiley. So... yay, we may now get married!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Another weekend down, 2 to go

It's amazing that there are only 2 weekends between now and W-day. I was off Friday and was very productive - I got quite a few things crossed off my list. I got the programs printed and embellished with ribbon, bought the wine for the ceremony, and got the few little gifts for people who are helping with readings, the guest book, and our minister.

I also went to this awesome baking supply store. Holy crap, I was in heaven. I was actually teasing our minister last week about his "Geek Mecca," the comic shop. I guess I now have a mecca of my own. Seriously, this place has everything you could ever desire for cake, cookie, and candy making/decorating. As I'm super new to my hobby, I was in awe. I got a few cookie cutters and spent about 30 minutes just browsing. It was probably my favorite half hour of the day.

Yesterday, I baked and Mr. Kingston helped me decorate cookies for me to take into the office. I decided to go with simple circles with cute dots so that I could make more. Decorating cutesy stuff every time takes time and I burn out.

We've been pretty lazy overall this weekend. Last night, there were a few pretty good comedies on back-to-back so we stayed in and watched. Today, Mr. Kingston slept until 2 (I don't know how he does it), and I got up early and then napped for a little bit until he got up. I think we're both feeling very refreshed. I haven't slept well the past week - I think I'm having dreams that wake me up, but I don't remember them.

Tomorrow is - hopefully - marriage license day. Our plan is to go early in the morning and hope that it doesn't take too long. That will be pretty exciting, and I'll be glad to have it taken care of.

And lastly, because they're just so cute, here's Paisley with her daddy. They got lots of good cuddle time in yesterday.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Show Us Your Life - Dessert

Today at Kelly's Korner Show Us Your Life, Kelly is featuring desserts. Like most of my recipes, I've gotten my best dessert recipes (the ones my coworkers rave about) from friends. My friend Kristi gave me the brilliant idea of making brownie cupcakes and putting a Reese's mini cup in the middle. Simple and delicious. But I think my favorite dessert recipe is Mrs. ESPN's Kahlua cake. I don't have a photo, but I assure you, this one is delish!

Kahlua Cake

1 Box German Chocolate Cake Mix (I use the Duncan Hines Moist variety)
1 box Jello instant chocolate pudding
4 eggs
3/4 cup oil
1/3 cup Kahlua
2 cups sour cream
12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Spray bundt pan with non-stick spray. Mix ingredients with a spoon. Bake for 1 hour. Let cool, sprinkle with powered sugar just before serving.

What I love about this recipe is that it's really so easy. Just mix and bake for an hour. The flavor is absolutely amazing and the cake is so moist. When I worked with Mrs. EPSN, this was the official office birthday cake. It's that yummy. So enjoy!

I'm enjoying a fabulous company sponsored (or actually not) day off. I've got a full day of wedding related errands to get done. Only three weeks to go!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


People are requesting cookies! My cookies! I can't believe it. People have stopped by my cubicle asking if I have any with me today. That answer is - unfortunately - 'no.' I woke up to a facebook post on my wall requesting that I make more pretty cookies. Another girl told me they were the best sugar cookies she's ever had. I'm so proud, it's ridiculous. I just wanted to have a fun hobby, but it's really cool that others are getting some enjoyment out of it too. So I guess I'll need to do some baking this weekend. I'm thinking something Fall related. I plan to do Halloween cookies when the time comes, but I don't want to do those too early. Or maybe since I need to apparently make a lot, I'll do something simple so I can crank out more.

I'm quite excited about my very last tiny wedding detail. I'd been looking for a locket of some sort in which to put a picture of Paisley for my bouquet. It's been on my list for awhile. Since she won't be at the wedding but is a part of our little "family" I wanted to have her represented somewhere. I found a woman on etsy who makes bouquet charms for an outstanding price. Not only does she make the charm by hand, but she includes the pictures that buyers send in. And then she ships directly to the florist if you so choose. All that and for far far less (I'm truly amazed at the price) than for what I could find a locket for. Plus, I don't have to do the pictures myself or worry about getting it done and sent to my florist on time. Seriously, it's a screaming deal. So it'll be tied into my bouquet ribbon like this:

The remainder of what needs to be done in preparation of Mr. Kingston's Big Ol' Birthday Party (aka the wedding) could be wrapped up this weekend if need be. That's a really awesome feeling. It would be really nice if all I had to do that week was pack my overnight bags and drop stuff off with the wedding coordinator. I'm off on Friday, so I should have a really good productive day. We plan to get our license (very exciting!) and I plan to print programs (try #2) and place cards and that's just about all she wrote. Oh, and we need a bottle of wine for our ceremony - that could be tough. The thing has to survive for 10 years and preferably not taste horrible by then.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Blonde moments and cookie favors

Yesterday when I got off work, I was so motivated to get some stuff done. My plan was to go tan (I know, but I'm really white and my bottom half is even whiter than my top half), print my programs, then go to Walmart and pick up a bunch of stuff we needed at home. So I went home, changed clothes, walked Paisley and headed out. Tanning is so relaxing - I hate that it is, because I know it's really not good. But after work, it really can be the most relaxing part of my day. I'll enjoy every minute for the next month that I do it and then stop. Anyway, I left the tanning salon and went to Kinko's to print my programs.

Now I haven't had a reason to print anything in a long time. They have these new machines where you load cash on a Kinko's card. I never use cash, just debit. But I still spent about 3 minutes - far too long - trying to figure out how to put money from my debit card onto the Kinko's card. Then I went up to the desk to ask how to do it and he said "well you just put your debit card in the machine." I told him I'm tried that. He said "no, the printer machine." Ooooohhhhh, duh! He saw the lightbulb come on and said "don't worry, everyone has their first trip to Kinko's." So then I went to go print my programs. A guy came and asked if I was figuring everything out okay and I told him I may need help figuring out how to load the program paper. The template is two-sided and I had to figure out how to get it to print to a one-sided program. That's when I realized that I'd brought two copies of the same side of the program. So I couldn't even print the darn things.

And that's when my phone rang. I was still trying to collect my stuff, so I let it go to voicemail and listened to it when I got outside. I left my freaking engagement ring at the tanning salon! I'd taken it off so I wouldn't get lotion in it and left it on the chair. I'm so fortunate that the girl who used the room after me was an honest person and took it to the front desk (the employee who cleaned the room had evidently not seen it). I was shocked! So from now on the ring stays at home, just like when I go to boot camp.

This morning I made the cookie favors for the kids at the wedding. I really love how they came out. Once they set, I'll package them and freeze them per Bridget's instructions. Aren't they cute? I know lime green hearts are kind of odd, but our colors aren't pink or red and I'm not big on super girly stuff or hearts, for that matter.

So that's one more thing off my to-do list, and I'll hopefully get those pesky programs done this weekend too.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wedding planning on a budget

As we wind down with the wedding planning, there are a lot of things to fit in. Some of these things have taken me by surprise, and I get to figure out how to work them into the budget. Luckily, in many areas of our wedding, I've managed to save from the original budget through either cutting things out or being a good shopper. I'm not usually a bargain hunter or coupon clipper, but I admit I've been surprised by what a little value shopping can save.

Although there are a huge number of budget wedding blogs out there, I'm going to talk about how I've trimmed our budget. Many of the blogs I've found, though helpful, focus on a lot of DIY (do it yourself). Some of the blogs I've read are even anti-wedding industry. I'm neither a DIY fanatic (though thank you, Salt for calling me the queen) nor anti-industry, so I thought I'd share my ideas on how to plan a wedding that a) doesn't leave me creating every last detail by hand and b) doesn't leave me wanting to fire bomb every wedding vendor for jacking up prices by 600% when they hear the W word.

Date and Time: You can save a lot of money on any wedding by being savvy about the time of the year, day of the week, and time of the day you choose to get married. For instance, the traditional spring/summer wedding season is going to see higher rates than January, when people are winding down from holidays. Fall is also a less popular (though it's gaining popularity) time to get married. Choosing the "off season" can save a ton because venues just want to make some money. The day of the week can also result in huge savings. Saturdays are most popular, follwed by Friday and Sunday. If you're flexible, you can get a steal for getting married during the week. One venue here in Phoenix charges $28K for its all inclusive Saturday package. The exact same package on a Thursday? $4,500. Shocking. We also saved by choosing to go with a morning wedding with a lunch reception. It saved us about $18 a head in food costs. We didn't intentionally go into our planning with a lunch reception in mind, it just worked out that way. But in the end, it was a blessing and we were able to apply our budget in other areas. We also saved on linens because we got chair covers thrown in for free as a perk, saving us roughly $300.

Bridal shows: They're annoying and crowded and somewhat obnoxious if you're not into the whole big pretty princess day, but there are a lot of deals to be had. You can win honeymoons, limo services, even wedding gowns. I received a gift card off the price of my dress. If every little bit helps, bridal shows are a great place to collect bargains. I also was told about my linens vendor at the bridal show. She wasn't exhibiting, but she was recommended in a conversation with another vendor. She's been in the industry for a while but just starting out and drumming up new business. Her prices are pretty standard, but she was much more friendly and easy to work with than the 6 other vendors I called and I feel that adds a lot to the value I'm getting from her.

Craigslist is your friend: By searching for DJ's on craiglist, I saved us about $1,200 on DJ services. Our DJ is just a regular guy - I think he works in accounting - with a family and a love for music. A few years ago he figured he might as well make some money with his hobby and invested in equipment. We liked him immediately when we met because he was down to earth and got what we were going for. One thing we did not want for our wedding was some wild emcee who would make our wedding obnoxious and steal the show for the ridiculous price of $1,500 (the average cost of a wedding DJ in Phoenix for 5 hours). We got Chris for $400 for 6 hours. I've also heard of brides finding budding photographers on craigslist. All it takes is a couple great reviews and raving fans, and some of them are now booked solid for the rest of the year. They just needed to be discovered. Craigslist is your friend.

Flowers: I'm not a super flowery girl, so this option may not be for every bride: I cut out flowers EVERYWHERE. Pretty much anyway. We have bouquets for me and my girls, corsages for our moms and grandmas, of course. But no boutonnieres for the guys. As we don't have a flower girl, we don't have to buy petals. At our reception, we have flowers only in the centerpieces and on the cake. No large arrangements anywhere. This cut the floral budget way back. The nature of our florist's business also helped. Amanda at Butterfly Petals works out of her home, meaning there's no overhead. She was recommended by coworkers, and is one of the most raved about florists on the Knot Phoenix board. She's a great example of local word-of-mouth business.

Something Old: Using what the vendor has for centerpieces, linens, etc. can save a ton. Our venue included all of our linens, including chair covers. All we had to order was table runners and chair ties. We wouldn't have even had to do that if we'd chosen a color they had on hand (mustard yellow, maroon, forest green or navy). We are using the mirrors the venue supplies in the centerpieces, and then bottles from our wine bottle collection. Again, essentially cost-free. Though they weren't what we wanted to use, the venue would have also given us the option to use large hurricane vases, which many brides fill with apples, lemons or limes, ornaments, pine cones, etc. to create a low cost centerpiece, depending on the season or theme.

Visaprint: This is one of my favorite wedding finds. If you go to their site and register your email address, you'll get a coupon in about 2 days. I used mine for my save-the-dates. My FREE save-the-dates. That's right. I got them for free (can you tell I'm proud?), I just had to pay for shipping. Then they send you more coupons, which I used for my map/directions inserts, favor tags, wedding website insert, and accomodation info. All of it was free.

DIY and Etsy: Of course, most everything you make yourself is going to cost less. There are a lot of DIY blogs and instructions out there if you know where to look. But sometimes you just don't know how to make it or the cost of materials would make it more than you want to spend. That's where Etsy comes in. I love Etsy. It's a homemade crafts site. You can browse sellers to find what you want pre-made, work to build a custom order with a seller whose designs you love, or you can try their alchemy option which lets you describe what you want and then sellers bid on your job. Etsy is where I found my candy scoops and my garters. They were both custom orders and many sellers don't charge extra for custom work. It's a great option if you want something homemade but don't have the know-how.

Friends in low places: Low in terms of budget that is. Many of us, if we thought about it, know someone who is good at something. Whether it be baking, photography, or music, those close to us and who are willing to help can offer savings. We're using a friend who is a photographer to shoot our wedding. My college friend is marrying us, saving us officiant fees (though of course we'll give him something for his service). Many brides know someone willing to bake their cake or make their reception food, often as a gift or at a discounted rate.

So there they are, my biggest budget savers. They're what have helped us and our generous parents keep our wedding cost well below half the cost of the average wedding.

What's for Dinner?

”Show Us Your Life with Kelly's Korner”

Today is my first Kelly's Korner Show Us Your Life posting and today's topic is Dinner. I may have mentioned, but Mr. Kingston and I have used quite a few of the recipes found on Jaye's cooking blog. Jaye is also a Phoenix bride and I "know" her through The Knot. We have made the turkey stuffed peppers recipe quite often - probably almost weekly - and have modified it slightly to our liking. It's super easy and fast and we both enjoy making it, though I admit Mr. Kingston's version beats mine. Jaye's recipe calls for a chicken boullion cube instead of the vinegar, but we substitute because it's too salty for me. We do a lot of this recipe by taste, so the measurements are estimates.

Turkey Stuffed Peppers

1 lb extra lean ground turkey breast
4 Peppers (any color) halved and cleaned of seeds
1 can diced tomatoes
1 package Uncle Ben's 90 Second long grain and brown rice (Jaye's recipe calls for 1/2 cup rice, so this was a substitute)
1/2 onion, minced
Cumin, parsley, garlic powder to taste
1/4 red wine vinegar - I believe that's about how much he uses
1/4-1/2 water if needed if the mixture is too dry

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown turkey in a pan. Once turkey is cooked, add the remainder of the ingredients (minus the peppers) and spice it up to your liking. Fill the peppers and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes until the peppers are softened. We have actually also tried giving the empty peppers a head start for 5 minutes and that works well too. Super easy and delicious!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Spy With My Little Wedding Eye

I was very productive last night, and it feels great! I didn't have boot camp, so I stopped in to Michael's and got some supplies to get some projects done. I'd gotten a coupon for 50% of my print-at-home coupons, so I picked those up. I'd already had most of the wording done, but had to reformat for the template. I'll take the program paper to Kinko's on Friday so I don't have to wear out my printer and use all my ink printing them. Haven't decided yet, but I may or may not add a ribbon for some color. A couple months ago when I received a baby shower invitation for our groomsman's girlfriend's baby, the hostesses had embellished the invite with a cute ribbon. Not a bow, just a ribbon. But I liked the simple look. So we'll see.

I also dressed up the bird cage I'd bought for greeting cards. It was miraculously transformed from this...

to this...

The photo is dark, but both the ribbon and the wording are in that magic shade of purple I love so much. I also made "Mr." and "Mrs." signs for our chairs. I just used print-your-own postcards and then backed them scrapbooking-style with lime cardstock, just like the "Cards" sign. Not sure yet exactly how we'll get them attached to the chairs (probably just drape them over the chair with a loop of ribbon).

And lastly, I came up with an idea the other day that I'm just really excited about for some reason. Because you know, I don't have enough on my to-do list. Anyway, the kids at the wedding will likely be served lunch right as the buffet is opened. By the time they're done eating, they'll have about 30 minutes until things (formal dances) get started. So I thought a sort of scavenger hunt/I spy might be cute to get them excited and in the wedding "spirit." It's nothing fancy and if they're not interested, fine. But it's something to do should they be bored. So here it is, I Spy With My Little Wedding Eye:

Some of the items are very weddingy, others are specific to our wedding, like the big green letter K and the black Converse shoes. If I were 7 and had to sit at a table for 30 more minutes and was given just a little something fun to do (with a possible prize for the first to find them all), I'd be stoked.

So that was my night. Not bad considering I was tired. But something about the one month mark got me really motivated. I spent Tuesday evening rolling out, cutting, and freezing my dough for the kids' favor cookies. I'm so hoping they turn out cute. Bridget at Bake at 350 gave me some great tips on freezing the finished product so that I don't have to stress about decorating cookies 2 days before the wedding.

Lastly, I just want to say Happy Birthday to my Aunt Linda! I hope you have a wonderful day! Can't wait to see you in 28 days (but who's counting?)!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Would you like to take a survey?

I've been tagged by the lovely Mrs. ESPN to do this survey, so here we go...

Silly Things About Me
Started today at 8:48 am

What time did you get up this morning? 6:00 am
How do you like your steak? Medium
What was the last film you saw at the cinema? The Hangover. 2 enthusiastic thumbs up
What is your favorite TV show? The Office, Ace of Cakes, most anything on Food Network
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? I like living here near my family. Although I could handle the Northwest
What did you have for breakfast? A breakfast protein shake
What is your favorite cuisine? Mexican
What foods do you dislike? tomatoes, eggs
Favorite Place to Eat? Macayo's or Gavi in Tucson. Oooh, or Ocean Club. Delish!
Favorite dressing? Just some italian
What kind of vehicle do you drive? Nissan Murano
What are your favorite clothes? Jeans and a cute (but not too girly) top, and my black cotton dress. Soooo comfy
Where would you visit if you had the chance? Ireland
Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? Completely depends on the mood. I'd say it's 1/2 full about 75% of the time though
Where would you want to retire? Maybe Western NY, or the Northwest
Favorite time of day? When I get home from work, have something in my tummy and can relax with the pooch and Mr. Kingston if he's home
Where were you born? Tucson, Arizona
What is your favorite sport to watch? Pro Football
Bird watcher? Um, no
Are you a morning person or a night person? Morning, definitely
Do you have any pets? Yes, Miss Paisley
Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? I'm getting married a month from today!
What did you want to be when you were little? A truck driver and then a marine biologist.
What is your best childhood memory? Summers in New York
Are you a cat or dog person? Dog
Are you married? Almost
Always wear your seat belt? Yes
Been in a car accident? Yes
Any pet peeves? Yes, quite a few. Probably the normal ones: arrogance, self-righteousness. People who spell my name wrong
Favorite Pizza Topping? I love supreme pizzas, but if I had to choose one topping, I'll go with sausage
Favorite Flower? Gerber daisies
Favorite ice cream? Mint chocolate chip
Favorite fast food restaurant? "In-N-Out - hands down the best burger!" I second Mrs. ESPN
How many times did you fail your driver's test? Zero, but I failed the permit test once I think
From whom did you get your last email? Natalie
Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Hmmm, tough one. I think Banana Republic or White House Black Market. If I was going to stay within my means though, Macy's and Old Navy.
Do anything spontaneous lately? Nah
Like your job? Yes
Broccoli? Yes please, steamed and plain.
What was your favorite vacation? I went alone for the first time to visit my NY family last year and had a blast. But my first trip with Mr. Kingston to Mexico was fun too. It's a tie.
Last person you went out to dinner with? Mr. Kingston
What are you listening to right now? The guy on the other side of my cube wall typing
What is your favorite color? Purple
How many tattoos do you have? Three
Coffee Drinker? Not really, but I can't resist an iced chai latte

Hmmm, who to tag? Not sure I really have any followers. So I tag my mom, and my aunt if they're reading. You can just copy and paste into the comments. Oh, and Salt, and Shannon if you're out there.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I'm cookie crazy

Mr. Kingston surprised me today with a new set of cute cookie cutters and encouraged me to make some more (I think he was afraid we'd run out). So I made dogs, dog bones, ice cream cones, airplanes, and flowers. It was definitely better the second time around - more efficient, that's for sure. I'm still not super great at getting the consistency of my flood icing right, the yellow was a bit runny. Oh well, they still came out cute.

The ice cream cones are my favorite.

Also, good news! Kristi it back home with her baby and feeling much better.

As far as a wedding related update goes, the RSVP deadline was yesterday, and I've got responses for all but 16 guests. However, most of them are family that we don't expect to come. So not too bad. My next project is the programs. After that, I should just about have everything all together. The only thing we can't get married without is our marriage license, and as soon as he can get a couple hours off of work to go to the courthouse, we'll be all set. Very exciting, and hard to believe how close we are. I feel like I say it all the time, but it's so true.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Twinkle, twinkle, little star

So my first attempt at pretty cookies is complete. Since the only cookie cutters I have currently are a set of Christmas shapes, I made star shaped cookies. My mom stopped by before I rolled and cut them out last night and I was going through the recipe and realized I'd forgotten the baking powder. Luckily, we were able to knead it in and that was the biggest of my problems. The recipe I used gave me great cookies - they were plenty sturdy for decorating yet soft to bite into and with amazing flavor. I think the difference is the butter extract - they taste extra rich.

I used the royal icing recipeI found on Bake at 350. It was super easy, despite my worries about getting the peaked consistency right. I'd made meringue cookies before, but I had help. So I was a little nervous about doing it on my own. The messiest part of the process was getting the pastry bag all set up and filled with colored icing. Once I had it, I began outlining. It was easier than I'd imagined, though it'll take practice to get consistent with smooth lines.

After outlining comes "flooding." Basically, the royal icing is watered down to the consistency of syrup and used to fill in the outline. Bake at 350 recommended transferring the flood icing to a squeeze bottle and then spreading the icing into the corners with toothpicks. It worked out pretty well. My yellow icing was a great consistency, the purple a little thin as I got some bubbles. Here are the cookies before the flood icing is spread.

I did the yellow cookies first and then the purple. By the time I'd finished smoothing out the purple, the yellow was pretty much set, so I tried my hand at piping and did a monogram for baby Connor. I should have changed to a smaller tip for a smoother line, but I just wanted to practice something other than a straight line. I tried writing "twinkle twinkle" on a second cookie and "little star" on another, but they weren't so pretty. But here's baby's first monogrammed cookie.

Not bad for a first shot, eh? Mr. Kingston and I are going to a coworker's birthday celebration tonight, so I'm thinking of maybe packing a few of them and including them with her gift. But we'll see. Mr. Kingston might ban me from ever giving any cookies away.

That's why they call me Emergency Contact

Everyone, meet Connor. Connor, this is everyone. Connor, my friend's baby, is now 5 days old. Isn't he sweet? His momma had a high risk pregnancy with a few big complications, and he was born via c-section. Not because of his weight, but thank goodness, because he weighed 9 pounds, 12 ounces (bigger than I thought before). Anyway, he's doing wonderfully, and he's precious.

His momma, Kristi, however, could use some good vibes and prayers if you pray. Yesterday, she got a fever and went to urgent care and was put on antibiotics. She texted me to ask if I was around this weekend because she had a fever and instructions to go to the ER if it went over 101. Neither she nor her husband have family here in town, and a month before he was born, she asked if I would be willing to be his Emergency Contact. I didn't think I'd get to exercise my duties just yet, but sure enough, last night she called and said she needed me to come watch the little man so she could go in. Poor thing - she's sore from surgery, just wanted a normal pregnancy and healthy baby (she got the important one), and here she is feeling like absolute crap and having to leave her newborn to go back to the hospital. So Connor and I got in some good bonding time.

Last I heard, they thought Kristi may have a clot and was readmitted to Labor & Delivery to figure things out. As much as I don't mind being there in a bind to watch Connor, I hope she's able to come back home soon and enjoy being with her baby. Wouldn't you miss that face?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

For your viewing pleasure

I'm hoping to get a chance to play around with my first attempt at cookie decorating this weekend. After my second dress fitting, that is. I figure it'll be good practice for cakes and I'm just dying to try making and using royal icing. I decided yesterday that my first project really making and giving cookies would be favors for the kiddos at the wedding. I thought maybe that would be cute, and parents would appreciate me not handing their little ones 18 inches of colored sugar on sticks. Cookies are at least a smaller treat and more forgiveable. So I plan to create a heart and wedding cookie for each little one (in our colors, of course) and wrap them up with a special thank you. We'll see how things go after my experimenting this weekend. Either way, Mr. Kingston will reap the benefits of my trial and error.

Since I'm quite obsessed with lovely cookies and cakes lately, I've collected some eye candy. These are just some pics that I feel inspired by. The first two are from photostreams and the last two are from Bake at 350.

Obviously I'm biased, but how cute are these hand-painted paisley cookies from The Whole Cake and Caboodle? They are actually covered in fondant, but royal icing can also be a great canvas for painting on detail.

I love these flip flop cookies from Cookie Artisan for a summer party:

Mr. Kingston loves candy corn - he wants Paisley to be one (somehow) for Halloween this year. We'll see how he feels about these this Halloween.

And I love these for Halloween too. The spider web effect is created by dragging a tooth pick through circles of slighty-set royal icing out to each web tip.

Hopefully, I'll soon be posting pictures of my own creations. I also found a really cute website of fun and creative homewares and entertaining goodies. Well Dressed Home has everything from cool clocks, party games and pillows, to these morbidly cute "Gin and Titonic" ice cube molds. They have similar molds shaped like little guitars and the invaders from Atari's Space Invaders.

I'm so ready for the weekend. I've done boot camp the last two nights in a row since Monday was a holiday. Like a crazy person, I plan to go tonight and Friday morning (to make up for my missed session during the Seattle adventure). We'll see if my knees hold out. They've been sore from all the squats today. I'm off tomorrow and heading to Tucson for my second dress fitting. On Saturday night, we're going to a coworker's birthday celebration in Scottsdale. Hopefully Sunday will be a peaceful day - I've got a project to wrap up for school, and then I hope to hit up karaoke in the evening.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

That's why they call it Labor Day

My friend Kristi had her baby boy today!! Congrats to her and her husband, Todd. Baby Connor is absolutely adorable. He was 9 pounds, 1 ounce, and born by Caesarean about 48 hours after reporting to the hospital for a scheduled induction. I'm planning on going to visit tomorrow and will hopefully get a couple of snuggly baby pictures.

On Friday, I had happy hour with Mrs. ESPN and she gave me the coolest bridal shower gift: the first course in the Wilton Cake Decorating curriculum, and the supplies I'll need. It is such a cool and creative gift, and I can't wait until I have the free time I'll want to devote to it. And speaking of sweets, I've found a couple of other really cool cookie deorating sites, The Good Apple and A Dozen Eggs. I can't get enough of cute cookies, and can't wait to give some dessert decorating a try.

We've had a good Labor Day weekend so far. The rule is no wedding talk, and we've stuck to it so far. Yesterday, we slept in and were lazy, took a nap, then went out for sushi and hit up Dave & Buster's. Today, we've been especially lazy. I got my hair cut, and Mr. Kingston went to the grocery store for dinner, but we've mostly been oohing and aahing over the Planet Earth marathon on the Discovery channel and then various stuff on the Food Network. I'm completely off tomorrow, but Mr. Kingston has to work his evening job, so hopefully we'll find some fun to do out of the house tomorrow.

Hope everyone's having a great holiday weekend!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Six Weeks!

Wow, today is six weeks until we get married. It's amazing. It seems like yesterday that it was six months ago. It's been an interesting week as far as planning goes - some unanticipated ups and downs. It's all going to be okay though. Mrs. ESPN, who I'm meeting for happy hour later; and my friend Kristi (who's being induced today!!) both reminded me that, at the end of the day, we'll be married and that's what matters. And it's very true. Anything that goes wrong can only get to me if I allow it to. I woke up feeling refreshed and excited thanks to their support. Thank you, ladies!

Since today is a milestone of sorts (I remember thinking how excited I'd be at six weeks, and I am) I thought I'd talk about Mr. Kingston. I've alluded to a few things about him, but not a whole lot. So here's why I love and can't wait to marry my future husband:

- He's funny: he really has the best sense of humor. Not only that, we seem to have the same sense of humor. He loves to mess with people with playful pranks. He sends little jokes via texts throughout the day, and knows how to make me laugh when I need to. This morning, as we parted ways - he went to his car, I took Paisley out to potty - he waved goodbye up high for me, and down low for Paisley. It's goofy little stuff he does that make me laugh and smile.

- He balances me out: I'm a rules-follower, most everything is black and white. He is laid back and reminds me that there is indeed grey area. He seems to understand in which instances I need to stick to my guns, and in which cases I'm just stressing myself out. At those times, he's able to bring me back to earth and rationalize with me about whatever it is I'm being uptight about.

- He's got a big soft heart and other great qualities: To me, this is sort of an umbrella that covers a lot of his best qualities. He is incredibly sentimental - he remembers exactly what I wore on our first date and could pick the very outfit from my closet. After I chose lavender roses for my bridal bouquet, he had a tattoo done of them. Speaking of his tattoos, they're all meaningful, and his life's trials and tribulations, every single one of his goals and the things he holds most dear are all represented. You wouldn't know it from looking at him, but he's really very shy and tender. Being in unfamiliar social situations isn't comfortable for him, and yet I see him trying so hard because he knows it's important to come out of his shell for people to get to know him. On the flip side, he's confident enough to walk around the world being quite noticable, and he seems completely comfortable in his colorful skin. He's also very sensitive and isn't afraid to let that side of him show, which I think is a rare quality in a man. He is also supportive, genuine, selfless, generous, and loyal.

- He loves Paisley: They've been best buds since they met. Paisley loved him from the get-go. She goes absolutely nuts when he walks in the door in the evening. In the mornings, he wakes up and cuddles with her while I get ready. If she was bad the day before, he has a talk with her about how she's going to behave today. It's all just very sweet, and his interactions with Paisley have shown me what a great dad he'll be.

- We're very much alike: in many ways, we're carbon copies. In these ways, we understand each other without saying a word.

- We're very different: The ways in which we're different add to the fun of getting to know each other. Our differences have taught me a lot about myself, which only adds to our bond.

- He gets me: He just knows. There's no other way to put it. He gets when I need to just be quiet, or be alone. On the flip side, he anticipates and is more than accomodating when I need a hug or to go out and blow off steam or just have fun. He gets what makes me tick. When I'm goofy in a way I wouldn't be in front of anyone else, he thinks it's funny or cute. Because we're very much alike, there's often no justification needed for how I'm feeling at a particular moment, because he's feeling the same way. When he doesn't understand, he's ready and willing to listen. He seems to always just know what I need.

I often have a hard time describing how I feel about him in words. I've never been able to find a greeting card that says it just right. But I can say that he's my second half, like puzzle pieces. We aren't perfect individuals, and our relationship may not always be, but together we are. Six weeks from today, we start a new chapter, and I could not pick a better man to turn the page with.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I'm an Auntie!!

Mija and Bing have adopted a 7-month-old lab named... (drumroll, please)... Meadow!!
Isn't she cute?!

I also finished putting the favors together. I really like the way they came out.

So that's how I spent my Wednesday night. 44 days to go!

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

This Saturday kicks off college football season - hurray!! Although for me this means that something even more exciting - the NFL season - has arrived. Double hurray!! I enjoy football on Sunday afternoons - it reminds me of my dad. In an extended family of Cowboys fans, he's the lone Rams fan, and I cheer for the Packers. Our teams have had their ups and downs, but we stick by them. Most every year, we go to the Cardinals/Rams game - as they're in the same division, we're guaranteed a visit from St. Louis.

But my love of football started as a youngster - I grew up in Tucson, Arizona and am, by default, an Arizona Wildcats fan. Though it's mainly a basketball powerhouse, Arizona football is part of Tucson culture. I remember going to Homecoming even as a kid to watch the parade. Though I would ask my dad questions about the game when I was young, my enjoyment and understanding of the game began more in high school - when my family held season tickets for Arizona Wildcats football. We had some great times as a family going to games and tailgating. We'd cheer along and count out Wilbur's traditional one-handed push ups after each touchdown. As a student at U of A, I was proud (yet admittedly intimidated - that place is huge!)to go to the school I'd admired since I was young. Between a hectic school schedule, working full time, and extracurricular activities, I managed to still go to games and tailgating as often as I could. Those times with friends are some of my favorite memories. One of mine and Mr. Kingston's first trips together was to Tucson for the 2008 Homecoming game - it was also the first time he met my dad. He even wore a U of A shirt, and I was so proud. So yes, my heart bleeds red and blue, and I'm a proud Wildcat.

Apparently, I am Mrs. ESPN's willing puppet this week, because my post today is in response to her own blog post. When it comes to college football, she asked:

What's your favorite team?
What team do you cheer for other than your Alma Mater & why?

I've done a pretty sufficient job of answering the first question. The other team I cheer for is Notre Dame. To me, they're just authentic, iconic football. I don't really have a better reason than that, I just get psyched seeing them on the field.

So, what about you?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Farewell, Summer

It's the first day of September, and summer is coming to an end. I'm waiting on a report to run, and I was tagged by the Brown Eyed Girls' momma so here goes:

Favorite Summer Cocktail: Seagram's Sweet Tea vodka and lemonade
Favorite Summer Movie: We only saw one: The Hangover
Favorite Summer Song: Most anything by Slightly Stoopid or Pepper - they set a mellow mood
Favorite Summer Time Outfit: Sundresses or bermuda shorts
Favorite Summer Reading: This is sad - I only got through My Sister's Keeper. The whole summer, and only one book! It was a good one though.
Favorite Summer Moment: My shower and bachelorette was pretty fabulous

Happy September everyone, and farewell Summer!