Bridesmaids, Boys and Bouquets...Oh My

As I mentioned in last week's "Show us your life,Wedding Dress post, we have very few digital picture from our wedding, so a stellar picture of our bridal party was a little difficult. Here we have 3 sisters (two of mine and one of his), 1 brother (his), 4 college roommates (2 of mine and 2 of his), 5 high school friends (2 of mine and 2 of his), 3 college friends (1 of mine and 1 of his) and yes, a groomswoman. 

One of the wonderful things about our bridal party is that Carolina Husband and I were each close with all of the girls and all of the guys. I guess that is what comes from dating for 5 years before we got married. My friends were his and vice versa. Five years later I can happily say that all of the folks at the alter with us on that day still play very important roles in our lives.

Now onto flowers. This is my bouquet (way in the back) surrounded by the 'maids bouquets.  I really wanted to carry red roses so our florist had to find a flower combo that worked with Carolina Blue dresses and my red roses.  I think the dark tipped pink roses did the trick.  All of the other flowers arrangements for the church and reception were summery bright colors.


I dried my bouquet a now have it displayed with a picture of our first dance in our den book case.  Its a little old fashioned, but I like to have it out.

And how nice to get to share wedding pictures on the day of our fifth anniversary.  Happy anniversary again J. 


Decisions Decisions...

I've got one that I am working on now.  So all six of you readers send happy thoughts my way for the next few days:)


Five years later

Appropriate that I showed off my wedding dress on Friday because Carolina Husband and I are celebrating 5 years of being married next Friday.  We were not going to be able to celebrate alone next weekend so I planned a little surprise for this past weekend.

I kept my plan for us to head to two Carolina vineyards secret until Friday night.  Early Saturday we headed first to Childress Vineyards in the NC Piedmont, then traveled north to Shelton Vineyards in the Yadkin Valley.

We started early with a tasting in the Childress tasting room about 10:45am.  It may have been a little early for wine, but at least it wasn't to crowded. I tasted Childress' Classic Wines and confirmed the fact that I still am not a fan of the NC Scupperdine Wines, but their other classic red and whites were great.  They also have a very yummy Riesling for those summer evenings on the back patio.  Carolina Husband went with Childress' speciality and reserve tasting, where he found (not surprising) lots to like.  We both tried each of Childress' Dessert wines, then snagged a bottle of their Blueberry Port to take home with us.  

After a listening to a bit of music on their lawn and taking a tour of the vineyard and facility we were on our way to our next spot. 
Music on the lawn.

Carolina Husband in front of Malbec grapes at Childress.

The obligatory "self-portrait" in front of the fountain a Childress Vineyards.

Our island picnic spot under the willow tree.

Our initials carved into the picnic table where we ate lunch (we didn't do the carving, they were already there).

We started a tour of Shelton almost as soon as we walked into their tasting room.  Similar to our earlier tour we saw several steps of the wine making process and the equipment used. The vineyards are both pretty large scale operations compared to other NC wineries.  As part of the tour we tasted both a Chardonnay, fermented only in stainless steel tanks compared to the Estate Chardonnay, fermented in the traditional oak barrels.  I am not usually a fan of the "oaky" Chardonnay, but the Estate was a nice mix.  

The crush pad; fermentation tanks and barrel room at Shelton Vineyards.

Our day finished with a tasting of the Shelton Reserve Wines where I learned a little tip about NC red wines.  Because of the NC soil, reds produced in NC are generally lighter bodied (making them perfect for me).  From the tasting we found several of the Shelton wines that we wanted to add to our collection.

The hubby in mid-tasting.

In the grapes just before heading back for some rest.

After a short rest back at our hotel, we headed back to Shelton for a romantic dinner at the winery restaurant.  The wine was as good as it was all afternoon and the food was perfect-grilled romaine salad, scallops, a filet for me, rib eye for him followed by light fruity desserts.  The company wasn't half bad either:)  Love you J, what a perfect weekend to end our first five years; here's to what the next five years bring. 

Before dinner at the Harvest Grill at Shelton Vineyards.


Wedding Dress

This week Kelly is showing off wedding dresses so here is mine, worn almost 5 year ago today (our anniversary is next Friday.) I have very few digital pictures of our wedding (sad, I know) so please forgive the quality.

I found the dress my first day of shopping almost by accident. A few of my bridesmaids were in town and wanted to participate in the dress shopping. I wasn't even really ready to look yet, we were just having some fun. We found Traditions, a small bridal boutique then in Chapel Hill, NC. It was the type of place where the staff each focused on one bride at a time, served mimosas and M&M's, and didn't care if you spent hours in the store looking at only a few dresses. It was truly on of my best wedding planning memories.
I never really thought I would care much about my wedding dress, about 3 months and 80 dresses later, I realized cared quite a bit. I compared everything I tried on to that first dress, and no dress but that one ever really felt like my wedding dress.

The dress was from Canadian designer Lea Ann Belter. It was strapless with Alencon lace and saltwater pearls along the top of the bodice. I added covered buttons and loops down the length of the train that had to be hooked (and unhooked) with a crochet hook.

The dress was made from Dupioni silk and had a chapel length train; I used a French bustle for the reception. There was a bit of crinoline sewn into the skirt to keep the shape of the dress but it still felt like the dress floated (even in 98 degree July Carolina heat). Another trademark of Lea Ann Belter dresses is that she adds silk to the inside of the skirt of the dress so it is smooth and light against the skin.

So there it is. The dress is sealed and packed away, waiting for what I don't know; but I could never get rid of it. Oh, and the veil that I am flailing about in the top picture was cathedral length with a simple comb that disappeared into my "do". I had to wrap it around my arm to do our first dance because it was so long.

Another neat thing about the veil is that it has already been worn by two of my best friends in their weddings. I hear a borrowed veil is good luck.


Limelight Hydrangea

I was flipping though my google reader yesterday and noticed Bless Our Nest's positive comments on her Limelight hygrandeas. I planted the Endless Summer variety last spring and have been very happy with them, but would love to add more hydrangeas to the yard. I quickly did a google image search for the plant and after this picture I think I have a plan on how to put them to use.
Image from blog.stargazerperennials.com
There are great reviews all over the web. Limelight seems easy to grow and most people have had no trouble getting prolific blooming. One of the nice things is that soil pH doesn't affect the bloom color as with most hydrangeas. From Holland, Limelight has bright chartreuse blooms from mid-summer into fall, so the color should fit into every yard. The blooms are throughout the shrub, making it a very nice plant, display from near and far and looks great as a stand alone shrub or planted together as a hedge.

Image from PWfourstart.com

I have a raised bed at the very bottom of our yard, against the fence, where these will be perfect as a back drop for the irises in the front. I should get blooms from the Limelight right after the irises peak. The massive display of the Limelight blooms should be pretty to look at from the top of the yard or as neighbors the are using the walking path past our fence.


Checking in-Summer To Do List

At the start of the summer I posted a summer to do list to keep me motivated on all of our projects. I thought I would do a little "check-in" since I made a little progress this past weekend.
1-Create fabric headboard for our guest bedroom.
Started over the weekend. Look out for a post soon.

2-Tackle the backyard jungle.
Work in progress, with lots of help from Carolina Husband. Our trimmed trees already look beautiful.

3-Sew pillows from two sets of remnant fabrics picked up this spring.
Check. I see more sewing in the future, it's really not to hard.

4-Roses for our back yard planter box.
Probably not happening this year, unless you can plant roses in the fall.

5-Turn our junk room into a room I can stand to actually be in.
Still a junk room, it may have even gotten worse. I have high hopes for one rainy weekend.

6-Stain side table for master bedroom.
Not happened yet. Maybe a good weeknight project.
7-Replace growing weeds in our planter box with colorful cosmos flowers.
Check-I put irises there instead.

8-Find the discounted/half price plant table and our local Lowe's.
Check-Read about what I found here.

9-Plant 2 strawberry jars with shade loving inpatients.
Check-I actually completed these before I wrote the list and they are still growing strong. Check one of them out.

11-Scrub patio seating and straighten up patio planting area.
Check-But I need to make another pass for an outside party in a few weeks.

12-Paint downstairs baseboards.
Almost done and what a difference it makes.

13-Wall paint touch-ups.
This one is new to the list and should be done before a baby shower at my house in a few weeks.

14-Help Carolina Husband hang the new chandelier in our dining room.
Another thing that needs to be done by the shower. I decided to stick with this one:

15-Mow the yard for the first time ever.
I have been talking a big game, volunteering to mow the lawn (usually Carolina Husband's job). This weekend I took my shot. A few minutes into the front yard the carburetor fell off and about 10 minutes after that both the carburetor and gas tank had detached. I think it was sabotage. 16-Buy a new lawn mower.
Hope we can hold out until the fall sales, but it's not looking good after #15.

So that is where I stand, with any luck next time I will have even more progress to report. One more weekend home before a full calendar in August.


Stairway to Heaven

I have always thought that the oak stairway railing dated the house a bit and wondered how to change if and if it would even be a good project. I never really got any good ideas or a plan. Then I saw Centsational Girl's stairway transformation.

Her before:
After with stain, paint and wall paper:

Here is my potential "before."  Now that I have the picture I am wondering how a dark railing would work with the oak quilt chest by the stair case.  Either way its a Centsational project to think about.



Sometimes we need a little just to keep us moving. I am going to pretend that an evening of cleaning and touching up paint on our baseboards will magically turn my kitchen into this:

Or This:


Tag you're it

Erin, tagged me, it's my first one so I am rather excited to share. The rules are to share 10 things about myself that the blog world (all three of my readers:) may not know. After sharing, then I get to tag some of you (so if there are more than three of you readers let me know so I can share the love:).

I'm thinking that since I am still kind of new to this blogging thing, there should be lots to share. So here it goes:

1)I am not exactly sure what the "I Love Paris" picture has to do with the tag but it seems to go along with the instructions. I am sure that I would love Paris, but I have never actually been. There is one, nine more to go.

2)I love stationary, pretty note cards and  but don't write enough "Thank You" or "Just Because" notes to justify spending tons on it.  I thought I was alone in this until I started reading other blogs.

3)I would change exactly one thing from our Carolina wedding (no, not the heat for those of you that were there:).  I designed and printed our programs to save a few dollars.  I wanted the cover to have our initials embossed, instead we just printed the letters.  It wasn't something that I wanted to spend a ton of time or energy on at the time--five years later it still kinda bugs me.

4) I finally broke out the sewing machine and with the help of the Internet and Carolina Husband, taught myself how to sew pillows.  I want to work on a bedskirt for our guest bedroom as soon as I find fabric.

5)I have a chandelier sitting on our dining room table.  I am trying to decide if I want to keep it.  This is the one that I bought, but have not yet hung up. It's OK and the price was right, but...
Image from Lowes.com
I think that I want something a bit more decorative like this one from Pottery Barn.
Image from PotteryBarn.com
6)I like to drink out of straws.

7)I love to read and wish that I had a room for a library in our house.  Something like this would be perfect, but lets also add a matching ladder.

Image from Traditional Home
 8)I lived with the same person all four years of college.  She is also one of my best friends from high school.

9)The Mikasa china that we chose for our wedding was discontinued just before we got married.  My mom was afraid that no one would be able to find it in stores to give as gifts (and it was the only pattern we agreed on).  She found several place settings at the outlet in our town and gifted them to me at several of my bridal showers. The only problem is that lots of our guests were able to find the pattern and we now have about 17 full settings of the china. I never worry about breaking a bowl.

10)I just watched myself on the local evening news for work.  Thank goodness it was just B-roll, not me talking. 

Now who to tag: My 6 followers (blog or not) and anyone else who reads regularly (let me know and I will come visit you).


Meal Delivery for New Parents

Not being a parent (new or otherwise) I can't imagine what it is like the first few weeks home with a new baby. I can imagine that menu planning and cooking are probably not high on the list.

We attend a young couples Sunday School class at our church and with 2 or 3 couples expecting at any given time, the class provides a phenomenal meal ministry. For 12-16 weeks after new babies are born, members of our class provide meals to the family 2 times per week.

We do have one person that coordinates the project, but the coordination is pretty minimal now that we are using Foodtidings.com. The site makes it easy to coordinate and schedule meals from a small or large group and no one person has to take responsibility for the calendar. The site even sends out a reminder and lets others in the group know what meals are being made for the family to avoid the same meal being delivered over and over again.

Next week I am dropping off meals for 2 different families. My go to meal is homemade lasagna and a salad. When I have signed up for meals:

1)I usually deliver the dish in a throw away pan with a lid. Easy for saving leftovers and clean up and no dish to return (I know, I know-it's not very green).

2)I take the dish ready to go either straight into the oven or back into the fridge or freezer. While dropping off a hot, ready-to-eat meal is really nice, this way the family can eat on their own evening schedule or save the meal for a later day if their plans have changed or they are still eating left overs.

3)To make things a little easier on me I try to sign up for several families with in a few days of each other and choose meals that I can make in a batch. Most of the time I make extra for our dinner as well.

Four lasagnas almost ready to go; we also had baked ziti for dinner with the sauce that was left.

Meal delivery schedules don't just have to be for new parents. You can also coordinate a group to provide meals after a hospital stay, health issue or death in the family. Maybe even a meal share with a group of neighbors to make family dinners a little easier to get on the table.


House Tour-Entry Way

It's another "Show us where you live Friday" from Kelly. This week is entry ways. I didn't even think about showing our entry from the outside as some people did, maybe I will add it later today.

For now here is our house from just inside the front door. Our open floor plan allows for a view of our dining room, kitchen bar, bathroom door. You can't see it in the picture, but a full panoramic view would also show our back door, living room, stairs and if you look up our upstairs hallway. This all from walking in the front door.
The umbrella stand/hat rack is another peice from my grandmother and we think fits perfectly in the space.


The (Bar) Cart Before the Horse

One accent that I have seen pop up in lots of living, dining and even outdoor rooms is the beverage/bar/cocktail cart.

Image from Southern Accents

The trend has come around again from a time when Manhattans and martinis were more than just a SATC reference and hosting or attending a cocktail party meant, "Everyone owned the essential bar ware, a swank cocktail shaker, an atomic designed cocktail tray, and cocktail glass. Then there were the unspoken rules. The rules of dress, music, and vocabulary. Seemed as if everyone embraced the leisure of the cocktail party." (From http://www.retrovintagecollectibles.com/).

Image from Style Redux

Being ahead of the trends as I so often am (not so much:), I had a vintage cart in my college apartment. It was my grandmother's and looked very much like this one (expect mine was chrome):

Image from Bryn Alexandra

As I packed up to get married and move in with Carolina Husband I passed along the cart (maybe to my sister, I can't really remember) expecting to never think of it again (sigh). Now that they are all over the place again I would love to have it back in the only modern-ish room in our house--our bright red dining room.

Can't you picture this (filled with similar glass ware and beverages, of course):

somewhere in this room?


Fried Green Tomatoes

My kitchen is not exactly the Whistle Stop Cafe, but I do have a crop of almost ripe/green tomatoes begging me to enjoy them. Last night we did for dinner. Don't get me wrong I can't wait until I have red, ripe and juicy ones but no reason not to enjoy a different type of tomato while we wait.

Fried green tomatoes (FGT) were a last minute addition to dinner and I had what I needed already in the pantry. Olive oil, milk, egg, flour, breadcrumbs and/or cornmeal (I used both) was all it took. Plus the tomato. I used a full grown plump, but not net ripe German Johnson. I really like this tomato variety of for FGT.
I sliced my tomato into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness, then salted and peppered each side of the slice.

While the salted slices were resting I prepared the ingredients for breading the FGT and heated olive oil in a skillet. Prepare milk, a beaten egg and dry ingredients in separate bowls. I used one plate for my flour, bread crumbs and corn meal.

It gets a little messy, but then I coated each salted tomato slice in milk, then flour, then egg, then corn meal/breadcrumbs. Once the olive oil was hot into the pan they went. Cook each side 4-5 min.Once I removed the FGT from the oil, I dropped them on a paper towel and lightly salt them again. Nothing left now but to enjoy the FGT with Idgie and Ruth.

So will I try FGT again? Absolutely they were not to difficult for a great something differnt for dinner. But for next time:

I used bread crumbs for two of my slices and corn meal for 2 of the FGT. I think next round I will use a mixture of both (maybe 80/20 cornmeal) as the final coating. I will also use a large enough pan to fry all of the slices at once. I could only fit two at a time and the oil got very messy. Maybe with a bit more planning I will have what I need for a great sauce for the FGT, something creamy, but with a little spicy kick.