Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Day We Have All Been Waiting For. AKA The Day I Have Been Waiting For. AKA Wedding Pictures.

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!!!! They are HERE!!!!! They are here to share with YOU!!!! Hanukkah is the season of miracles, and even though it is technically over, I still consider this to be a miracle of the season. The wedding pictures are here. I am so excited. Our wedding photographer came over yesterday to drop off the disc and I practically lept into his arms with joy at the site of them.
I know I have been going on about them for FOREVER, so I hope they live up to your expectations.
Let me start at the beginning of this tale. I was a nervous wreck in the days leading up to my wedding. Planning it long distance(wedding was in Savannah, we live in St. Augustine) made me a pretty nervous bride since I just had to trust, for the most part, that I would show up and everything would be right. And right it was. It was beyond perfect.
So, I will now share with you the story of our wedding day, through pictures. 
My hair! I loved my hair. I did not have a trial, but the girl who worked my weave did a fantastic job, and was awesome to boot!! The moment my hair was complete was when I felt that my wedding was really happening. I looked in the mirror, got so excited that I excused myself like a lady to go vomit a little in the bathroom, wiped my mouth and came out and put my makeup on. I was ready!

Not sure what was happening here. But it's a picture of me, so here it is. 
 Me during my 15 minutes of being a model. This was taken before the ceremony. I refused to let Brian see me before I walked down the aisle. I wanted a true reaction from him w hen he first saw me in all of my bridal glory.
Me being thoughtful and looking out the window. I was thinking, thoughtfully, "Did I put on deodorant?!"

Turns out, I had not put on deodorant, but Brittany saved the day because she had some in her bag. Then my Mommy came downstairs to where I was waiting with my bridesmaids, and gave me a kiss, and told me I looked like an angel. I then cried, and then told my Mommy to stop making me cry, and then apologized profusely to my Mom for telling her what to do. I  may have been a ball of emotions.

Then my photographer, Perry, told me to look out the window. So I did. 
Model shot! So glamorous. I then shoved a biscuit in my mouth.

Then I got to sit down, but only on half of my behind, in a chair and let Perry shoot from above. He got about five pictures in when I told him I was about to fall off the chair and I was done. That was my one diva moment. 

"AHAHAHAA! You think it's so funny that I am about to fall off this chair."

When I was standing by the window taking pictures, I looked down and saw some of our friends gathered on River Street!! I pounded, I mean tapped lightly like a lady, on the window and then Perry took a picture!! Aren't they all so spiffy?

I know this looks like I am laughing with joy. I was really shouting for some damn water because I was sweating my ass off.

Me and Baby Alice, Brian's Goddaughter and my flower girl.

She is such a little angel and helped me with my dress and stayed by my side the whole morning.

Me and the bridesmaids right before we all walked down the aisle. They chose this moment to tell me they had stayed out until 3:30am the night before. I got married at 11am. You do the math. They all pulled it together though and looked absolutely gorgeous. I am so lucky to have them for my best friends.

My Mommy and Nan sitting and waiting for the ceremony to begin. I told my Mom that she was the most beautiful I had ever seen her. And that's pretty darn beautiful.

Brian!!! Waiting for his beloved.

Me and Pops! He was waiting for me at the top of the stairs to walk me down the aisle. Oh lord, did the tears come on then. This is me telling him I love him, and also not to let go of my hand because I did not have my glasses on and could not see anything.

I'll spare you the million pics of the back of our heads. This is after we said our "I do's" and right before Josh pronounced us husband and wife. Our ceremony lasted 13 minutes. Seriously, our vet Herb timed it.

After we walked back down the aisle. That look you see on my face is one of, "Thank God I don't feel like I am going to vomit anymore." I think I get my nervous stomach from my Aunt Beth. I cannot handle high stress situations without throwing up. So, I was very pleased indeed when that subsided.

Me and my cousin, Josh. He was so wonderful to agree to marry us even though he had never officiated a wedding before. He did such a great job, and it meant so much that it was him who did it.

Picture time! My face hurt from all the smiling, but it was a good hurt.

The boys :)

Hmmmm...not really sure what this is all about. Did Brian lose his balance?

Me and the beautiful ladies. Seriously, could they be any more gorgeous?

Oh, don't mind us, we're just in the middle of a photo shoot.

All of us in front of the Cotton Exchange. We were supposed to go to Forsyth Park to take pictures in front of the huge fountain, but you know what? I think this was one of those things that didn't go as planned, but turned out amazing. 

He is such the ladies man!

You like that natural pose? I was feeling very J Crew ad in this shot. 

Brian wanted to dip me. I threatened his life if he dropped me or in any way messed up my hair, makeup or dress. So, that might be the cause of the look of fear on his face.

This was my fairytale moment.

After the outside pictures were done, Brian and I went back to the little room downstairs where we got married to wait to be announced for our first dance. Perry followed us and got some great shots. Brian was happy because we got a few moments alone. I was happy because the plate of bacon and biscuits the girls had earlier was still there.

This is one of my absolute favorite moments. I was so, so happy. Mostly because I just married the love of my life. And also a little because after this picture was taken, Perry left us to go back upstairs, and then Brian gave me bacon to eat.
So, that is the first part of the wedding!!! Next week I will post the reception pictures, because there are just too many to put them all in this post.
I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did!
Happy Holidays,

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's That Time Again!! Foodie Fridays

Heeeeeeey Bloggies!

It's FRIDAY!! And it's also the Friday before CHRISTMAS!! Which means a few things. First, that I must go back to the store and get all of the ingredients for dishes I am making for Christmas that I picked up the other day, but have now already eaten because I could not wait . Second, that I will start burning my holiday candles( fresh balsam, home for the holidays, winter, etc) pretty much all at the same time in an attempt to make my home smell like a winter wonderland. Third, that Brian is inching closer to completely shedding his Grinchy exterior and perhaps, maybe, dare I wish it? Actually enjoying the holiday!

You see, Brian isn't exactly a holiday nut like I am. It's not that he has anything against it, it's just that he isn't obsessed with this time of year the way that I am. I literally jumped out of the bed this morning because I was just so darn excited that it is actually coldish outside today and that means I can turn on the heat and make some hot chocolate and wear my snowflake pj's without sweating. Well, Brian may argue that me waking up didn't exactly go that smoothly. He may say it went something like this:

Brian: **putting away dishes and making coffee at 7:30am like a normal person**

Me: **still in bed** What are you DOING??

Brian: Happy Friday!!

Me: **Throws pillow over head**

Brian: *sneaks into room* Hi sweetie, what time do you need to get up this morning?

Me: I have an alarm set! *Throws pillow back over head*

Brian: Ok, love you!

Me: harumph!*snoring*

He is so dramatic sometimes.

But anyways, what I am getting at is that I am always completely filled with the joyous magic of the holidays from around October 31st through February 14th, and Brian feels it somewhere between now and the end of New Year's Day. But that's ok, I have enough holiday spirit for us both. Except, perhaps, for the mornings when I haven't had my coffee. Or, ya know, before 8am. But whatevs.

But you did not come here for stories about Brian's dramatics, you came here for reviews and recipes. Unfortunately, this week, I have no reviews for you. I just didn't eat anywhere that I thought was worthy of your time hearing about it, and certainly not anywhere that I would want you to go and spend your money because I recommended it. So, in exchange, I am going to give you two recipes! I have not forgotten that I promised a recipe from my Holiday Party, so I will post that, and also the recipe for Sausage Balls, a sacred recipe in my family as my Mother makes them every year and it is just not the holidays until the first batch has been made. Since I am married and no longer living close enough to my Mom to just walk on over and demand food from her, I had to make the first batch myself this year. They were delicious, to be sure, but just missing that special Mommy touch. Perhaps she will make them for me on Christmas Day if I supply the ingredients? *Hint, Hint, Mom....Mom? Please?*

Sausage Balls

What you will need:

1 tube sage sausage(I like Jimmy Dean)
1 pouch bisquick biscuit mix(original flavor)
1 8oz block medium cheddar cheese, shredded(you have to shred your own, don't use the pre-shredded stuff because it has some kind of flour on it)
Approx 1-2 tbsp hot sauce

Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, preferably a non-stick sheet.

Mix the sausage, biscuit mix, cheese and hot sauce together. Now, the reason for the approx measurement of the hot sauce is that it's really up to the person making it. It's an eye-balling situation. My Mom and I go by how the mix feels. We use enough hot sauce to make it easy to mix, because it is a dry mixture and your fingers risk breaking off if you don't moisten it enough with the hot sauce. Or, if you don't want it that spicy but need to make it more moist, add a few drops of water. Either way, mix it all together until it is just combined.

Roll into whatever size balls you want. This recipe calls for them to be a little smaller than golf balls. Place them all on the baking sheet, and spread them out a little because they will puff when they bake.

Bake for 20 minutes, turn over, and bake for another 15-20 minutes until just cooked through. Move to a paper towel-lined baking sheet when they come out of the oven, and let them cool for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Bruschetta with Arugula and Prosciutto Salad

*This was a HUGE hit at the party. It seems like a lot of work, but it's really not, and it will be the first thing to go. People go crazy for it.

What you will need:

1 thin baguette
8oz fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
4 tbsp pesto(I buy the pre-made stuff)
4 cups fresh arugula
6-8 thin slices prosciutto, cut into ribbons
1 half lemon, or 1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp(approx) olive oil
salt and pepper

Turn oven to high broil. Slice the baguette open so it is butterflied(longways, like you are making a sub sandwich). Spread each half with 2 tbsp pesto. Place the cheese slices on top of each half evenly,place the bread on a baking sheet and place in the oven. WATCH IT CAREFULLY, it will only take a minute or two. You want the cheese melted, but not browned.

Take out of the oven and let cool for 2-3 minutes. Cut the bread into 2 inch slices, and transfer to a serving platter, or plate, or whatever you have on hand to serve it on.

Pile the arugula in the center of the platter, then arrange the prosciutto on top. Drizzle with olive oil and squeeze the lemon over the salad. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve. Enjoy!!

I hope you love these recipes as much as I do. I think they are things that most people really enjoy eating, but might not make for themselves. I, personally, always end up making about five to ten batches of the sausage balls at the holidays. They keep really well, and re-heat really well in the microwave(no more than 40 seconds!) for a quick snack, or even to have for breakfast.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas, or for the rest of the tribe, a wonderful time at the movies with your Chinese food. What? You don't sneak it into the theatre? That's just me? Hmmm.

I will probably be back next week, but just in case I'm not, have a healthy, safe New Year and I will see you in 2013!!!

Tidings of Joy,

Friday, December 14, 2012

Foodie Fridays Are Here Again!

Happy Friday Bloggies!

Once again, we will put aside the foolishness of others(AKA the foolishness of myself) and talk about FOOD! YUM!

I'm not sure if you can tell by now that I have a slight obsession with food, but I do. I love food. I love food more than almost anything else. My bestie Kristin knows this, because at my Bridal Shower we played the game "How Well Do You Know the Bride?", and one of the questions was, "What is the bride's favorite food?" Well, Kristin knew the correct answer, which was, "Trick question. Shana loves all food." So, thank you to Kristin for understanding me. Also, thank you to Mallory for knowing that my favorite store is Publix. We spoke about this in my last post. I do not think it is weird in the slightest that my favorite store is one in which you can basically purchase nothing but food and things used to prepare food or things used to clean up from preparing food, etc.

Without further ado, your review and recipe for the week.

Restaurant: Mojo's Tacos
Anastasia Boulevard, Saint Augustine, Florida
What to get: Chicken Taco with a side of guacamole

I love me a good taco, and this place rocks at them. It's right there in the name. They are really special because all of their tacos are "double-decker" meaning they use a crunchy taco shell AND a soft flour taco shell on each taco, and use CHEESE to hold them together! I know, right??!! The result is this delicious crunchy, chewy, salty, creamy delectable yummyness that is a party in your mouth. And we have not even broached the subject of the fillings yet. The chicken taco is what I always get, and it is amazing because the chicken is not chunked and therefore harder to eat because it is falling out of the shell. No, they have thought of everything. It is shredded, and marinated in this spicy, zesty sauce. Then they put more cheese, mojo sauce(still trying to get the recipe for this, I believe it is some kind of chili sauce) and pico de gallo. O.M.G. Then, they dump tons of corn chips into a brown paper bag and throw the taco wrapped in foil on top and hand it to you. Like an amped up version of your 3rd grade sacked lunch. Get some homemade guacamole to go with it and you are in for a treat. Of course, they are more than just chicken tacos. They have burritos and salads also. And breakfast!! You can choose shrimp, beef, chicken, tofu, etc. It is important to note here that Mojo's is cash only. But if you forget, they have an ATM right inside. The restaurant is a real island favorite, with a surf theme interior, small tables and a bar top by the window to eat at, and a few select bottled beers for sale. Very casual, very yummy.

The Ultimate Guacamole
Serves 8 regular people, or 1 Shana

I make amazing guacamole, everyone says so. And really, it is so simple. I think people are sometimes afraid of making their own because there are so many options for mix-ins, and also because some people are not used to dealing with avocados. But they are super simple. The best way to tell if an avocado is ripe is that it will be a super dark green on the outside(they start out light green when they are fresh-picked), and it will give ever-so-slightly when it is squeezed GENTLY.

2 Hass Avocados
1/2 red onion diced
1 jalapeno diced
1/4 cup diced tomato
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp lime juice( I use fresh squeezed, but I won't judge if you use bottled)
salt and pepper

Split the avocados lengthwise, twist to open, and use a small spoon to remove the pit. While the flesh is still in the shell, use a small knife to cut diagonal cuts across, then again in the opposite direction. Do this for all 4 halves. Then, use a regular table spoon to scoop the flesh out of the shells and into a large mixing bowl.

Immediately mix in the lime juice with the avocado. Gently mix in the rest of the ingredients(onion, garlic, jalapeno, tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste) and use a fork to mash the guacamole until only some chunks remain. More lime juice can be added at this point to add acidity and also to keep the guacamole from browning.

Refrigerate for one hour, or if you simply cannot wait that long, serve straight away with tortilla chips and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy Mojo's and your new recipe for homemade guacamole.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Enough About Me. Let's Talk About You. What Do You Think About Me?

Hey Bloggies!

So, while we all wait with bated breath for my wedding pictures, I thought today we could talk about me. I realized last night that I don't always provide a lot of background for stories, or my life in general, in these posts. I thought it might be a good idea, to, ya know, talk about me for once. Or for the bazillionth time. Whatever. I will do it with a numbered list, of course, because how else is one to share random and wacky things about themselves? Or boring and completely mundane things about themselves. Again, whatever. If you have questions, call Brian. He has the same ones, probably.

1. I am in love with Publix. For those of you who do not live in the general Southeast region, Publix is our #1 grocery store. Now, I don't have any proof that it is #1, other than the fact that it is #1 in my heart. I just love it so much because Publix's moto is, "Where shopping is a pleasure." And it is!! The people are SO NICE, and helpful, and the store is always sparkling clean, and if they are out of something, they will call the distributor or other stores, or even God himself, to make sure you have it within, like, 10 minutes. And they have awesome, rare products that you would normally have to go to a specialty store for. But let me not get off track, this is about ME after all. I spend so much time in Publix. I will find any excuse to go there and shop. The result is that if you open my fridge or pantry or freezer, you would think I am stocking up for the apocalypse. I seriously have so much FOOD, all the TIME. Also, Publix has the best sub sandwiches EVER. In the deli section they have a little sub counter, and it is just amazing. If you ever wonder why it takes me so long to go grocery shopping, it's because I order a sub almost every time I go, and then after I have put all the groceries in my car, I sit down in my front seat with the radio on and devour that sub like a wild animal. I have love affairs with those sandwiches. People walking by must think that my husband doesn't let me eat or something just based on the way I am digging into the sub. Napkins everywhere. Black olives all over the place. Lettuce stuck to my nose and cheeks. It's a sight to behold.

2. I watch the Bridget Jones movies every year at the holidays, and read the books. I'm not sure why, but they just remind me of Christmas. Maybe because the first one starts and ends at the holidays? And you can't watch/read the first one without watching/reading the second one. I just love the story of them, and the humor, and the way that they perfectly represent how it feels sometimes to be a single woman. Even though I am no longer a "singleton", I know that frustration and embarrassment and hatred that singletons can sometimes feel towards the rest of the world when all that's really needed is for Mark Darcy to say, "I like you, just as you are." *SIGH*.

3. I LOVE TV. Movies, tv shows, you name it and I love it. However, I have this thing about tv shows where I cannot watch them while they are playing during their regular season. I usually(ok, always) wait until there are a few seasons out on DVD and then watch them all at once.The last show I watched religiously on tv was Dawson's Creek.  Why is this? Because I am not a patient person, and I don't do well with delayed gratification. Perhaps it's because I am an only child, so I never really had to wait much for stuff because I was the only little crumb snatcher my parents had to get to stop screaming. It drives my friends nuts. They try and talk to me about shows they are watching, and I just stare back blankly and say, "Oh, well, when season 4 comes out on DVD let me know and I will catch up." Brian also is not the biggest fan of this habit since he knows that when I discover a new show to get addicted to, he won't really see me for a week or two. I'm thinking Frasier is next. I have seen episode re-runs, but I want to start from the beginning of the story. And since there are 11 seasons on DVD, this could be a while.

4. I really, really, really want to move to Chicago. Like, really, really, really bad. I have never lived there, I have no family there, and basically nothing tying me to Chicago other than the fact that it is my most favoritist city ever and I want to live there. Brian took me on vacation there in February, and it was amazing. I love it for many reasons, but a few top ones are: 1) you don't necessarily have to own a car there. 2) It is a food mecca, which is very important to me. 3) It's a big city, but easily navigated. 4) I love the way I feel when I am there. People often ask me if I like big cities why I don't move to New York. Well, it's just so, New York. Don't get me wrong, I love to visit New York. But it's just too big, too seedy, too dirty and competitive and not Mid-Western enough for me. I know Chicago has bad neighborhoods and crime, etc. I'm not oblivious to that. I guess the only way to explain it is that when I am there I feel at home. The only thing I would not like is that my family would not be close. So, mission for 2013? Convince my entire family to move there also. Should be SUPER easy.

5. I love pj's. I sometimes think that if it were socially acceptable, I would wear my pajamas everywhere. Grocery store, movies, parties. Wherever. Now that I work from home, I pretty much wear them all the time. Right now my favorites are my holiday ones with trees and reindeer. I even coordinate my pj's. I have matching sets, and color-coordinated tops for each season, and different fabrics for different climates. I'm very serious about them. For instance, I would never wear plaid pants with a striped top, or a purple top with a different shade of purple pants. That would not match and my cats would judge me. I would say I have almost as many pj's as I do regular clothes. And for those of you who know me personally and have seen my closet, I think you know that means it is reaching a dangerous point of no return.

6. I'm kind of a local celebrity. Well, not really. Though, I did get offered a regular spot on a local radio station yesterday! I called my Mom to tell her, and her first response was, "You're going to be Oprah before you know it." She so gets me. I did an interview with a new local station, and the owner asked if I would like to do a weekly spot on the events going on in Saint Augustine. I told him he must ask my editor, since technically the spot would be tied to the magazine. I am hoping she says yes! People tell me I have a great personality for things like public speaking, and apparently the radio, but really I am a very shy person when it comes to speaking in front of others. My cousin Lisa is a DJ on this HUGE radio station in Jacksonville. She is the one in the family who got those genes, and she is fantastic at it. Me, I prefer to stay behind my computer. But, sometimes you just have to give the public what they want.

7. I absolutely love me some 80's pop tunes. I dance in my car to them. I bee-bop around the house to them. I have a special little shuffle today for Hall & Oates' "You Make My Dreams Come True." I'm quite fond of the upbeat and hilarious lyrics and musical stylings of Huey Lewis & The News. I play my air guitar to George Michael. Because you know what? It is hip to be square. You gotta have faith. Sledgehammer is my jam, and sometimes I can't stop 'til I get enough. Which is never, obviously.

8. I am ok with lists not being a typical number of numbers...hehehe...number of numbers. Seven real ones and this one to explain why there are only seven is fine by me, and since this is my blog and not the numbers police blog, I am sticking to my guns. Or my numbers. Whatever. You know what I mean.

Hope you all enjoyed a peak into my world and who I am! I would love to know interesting(or boring) things about you! Please share.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Fa-la-la-la-la La-la la la

Happy Monday Bloggies!!!

So, I am here today to share so many pictures from the holiday party! It was a huge success. Granted, more than half the people invited didn't RSVP or show up, DAVE, but the people who did are amazing and it was the perfect party just for them being there. Our friends are the best ever, and they brought with them so much Christmas/Hanukkah spirit and cookies that it made me get all watery-eyed.

Also, the sweaters ROCKED. I mean, honestly, I could not have imagined in all my wildest dreams of Christmas tricks and peppermint sticks that the sweaters would be so crafty and lovely and all-around amazing. But let me not try and describe it in words. Pictures are needed.

Katie and Mallory. I don't know if you can tell, but Katie's tree LIGHTS UP. Seriously, I think we all knew who would win the contest when she walked in.

Katie. I'm not sure she was expecting this photo?

Me and my Mommy!! She made so much delicious food, and then just as soon as she was there, she left to go to another holiday party. She is such the social butterfly. Also, all the food she made was the first to go. I totally gave her credit for it.
Does this snowflake make me look fat?

The crafters. Notice the yule log on the TV in the background. It's the little details.

Me and my Brian under the kissing ball. He even wore the reindeer antlers I bought us!

Kristin and I under the same kissing ball. There are about 20 photos of us in various poses under it, but I thought this one really captured our love for each other.
Me and my cousin Lisa! I think you can really see the resemblance in this one. Also, I think I may have been cleaning my teeth when this was taken? Brian wasn't the most patient of photographers.
I love this one!!!!! Mal might get mad at me for posting it, but I'm willing to take that chance.
BFFs! 11 years of love right there. And Kristin, photobombing :)

The four of us are pretty fond of each other. And the food.
This is obviously already framed and hanging above my mantel. Thanks BRIAN for photobombing it.
That's handmade awesome sauce right there.
 Me and my cousin Zach! I'm pretty sure he missed his work party for this, and it was a very fancy one because he is a super important trader at Deutsche Bank.
 Brian is such the ladies man :)
Let me break this down for you: a nativity scene with Darth Vader as the angel, Tommy Pickles as Baby Jesus, Power Rangers as Mary and Joseph, and Smurfs as the three Wise Men. I think that says it all.
A very classic Christmas scene on this one. We were all concerned, because let's just say that Kristin operates on a different wave length than the rest of us. "Thinking outside of the box" doesn't really describe her creative process.
Katie and her light up sweater, complete with snowman pocket and elbow patches, and reindeer shoulder pads.
My sweater was a snowman in a winter wonderland setting, with color- coordinated snowflakes.
That's a whole lotta creativity right there.
It was just an amazing night. We loved seeing our friends and family, and sharing fun stories with everyone. I think the moment that confirmed it was a success was when people I do not even know starting "liking" and commenting on the pictures Katie was posting on facebook in the middle of the party. Not gonna lie, I felt sort of famous in that moment.
Mallory and I agreed at the end of it that we would have to start planning NOWNOWNOW if we even hope next year to top Katie's sweater. Perhaps I could pull off a depiction of Santa's sleigh, with moving reindeer? Or am I just posting that to throw Katie off the scent? We will have to wait and see.
This Foodie Friday I will post the recipe for the most popular dish at the party.