Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: The Venue

It's official! Wedding planning is in full swing. We officially have a date and a venue!! I know some people think I am crazy for getting some stuff done so soon but there are a billion anxious brides around here and if you don't jump on the train you can really miss out on all the venues. The venues I have been looking at are almost all full for next summer.. a year in advance! Craziness! 

After weeks of going back and fourth on location, indoor vs. outdoor, prices and all of the other fun stuff that comes with picking a venue, we have finally found one! Let me introduce St Thomas Preservation Hall in downtown Wilmington. 

St Thomas was formerly a Catholic church that has been restored. It is now used for many weddings, receptions and other large gatherings. I just love the brick walls and huge stain glass windows! I knew I wanted my wedding to be in the summer when I am out of school. I decided to avoid doing an outdoor ceremony so that I don't have to worry about the heat or rain. It seems to rain almost every night around here in the summer! This venue was perfect because it is all indoors. We will have both the ceremony and reception here. After the ceremony guest can go downstairs for a cocktail hour while we take pictures and the room is flipped for the reception. Here are some pictures from when I went to visit and from other weddings. 

St Thomas is in downtown Wilmington so it is close to tons of restaurants and hotels for out of town guest. It also has a space for the bride and bridal party to get ready in before the wedding. A plus for me was the fact they provide all of the tables and chairs. That is one less thing we have to worry about! The main problem was how far in advance you have to book it! (It's the same case for most venues in the area) They only had 2 Saturdays left for next summer! We have officially booked the venue and reserved one of those dates: 

August 8, 2015 

It seems like it is starting to all come together! On another note- I am guest posting over at Momentary Memories in the Holt Household. Be sure to check it out here. (: 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Birthday Wishlist

It's almost August which means it's birthday time! This Friday, August 1st to be exact! I don't like to ask for a lot of presents on my birthday but when the fiance starts asking for present ideas I can't help but start dreaming up my wish list. Here is a sneak peak into some of the things I would just love to have this year. Many of which have been on my wish list for quite some time just waiting for the perfect time to be bought. 

Monogrammed Seersucker Scalloped shorts

I knew from the moment I saw these that I just had to have them. I love anything monogrammed, seersucker or with scallops, but add it all together and I am in heaven. Swoon! I actually already know I am getting these because the fiance had no idea where to find them and needed a little help. I pointed him in the direction of The Lazy Daisy and now am just waiting patiently for them to arrive! 

gift card to go towards a new pair of riding boots

I already know this fall I am going to need a new pair of riding boots. Since they can be pricey I would love a Belk gift card to help me out when I go to make my purchase this fall! 

World Market/Target gift cards for home decor 

You really can't go wrong with a gift card. Since I am in the process of buying things to furnish and decorate my new home gift cards could allow me to get some of the things I've been eyeing. [hint, curtains, throw pillows, a rug..]

Travel Coffee Mug

Preferably one with a lid that twist on instead of the suction type. I have had oodles of travel coffee mugs over the years but it never fails that they all eventually leak. There is nothing that bothers me more than being fully dressed driving to work and to get coffee all over me. No thank you. I desperately need a new mug! 

Monogrammed Crew neck Sweatshirt 

No explanation needed. What girl doesn't want one?!

What's your favorite things to ask for when your birthday rolls around? 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Weekend Recap: Seafood Boil

Happy Monday y'all! I hope you had a fabulous weekend. Mine flew by, just as they all do. 

This weekend Justin and I were invited over to a new friends house for a seafood boil. There is something about a seafood boil that  makes me instantly happy. Maybe it's the fact that it brings friends together, or that it screams summer.  Since I am new to the area I haven't met a lot of people yet so it was so nice for them to reach out to us! We had the best time getting to know them and another couple that was also there.  

I didn't want to show up empty handed and have been wanting to try out a new Oreo Layer Cake recipe I recently stumbled across. I found the recipe on Lew Party of 2 blog and knew I just had to try it. I have to say it ended up being a huge hit with everyone- kids and adults. It was absolutely delicious and easily fed everyone with leftovers. Next time I make it I'm going to make a few changes. I was about 1 cup short of oreos which probably had to do with the pan size. I also learned if you want the top cool whip layer to not turn brown from layer #3 of chocolate pudding then you should keep some extra cool whip off to the side for touch ups. I'll definitely be making it again sometime soon. 

On Sunday Justin and I tried out a new church. For our first time there we both really liked it! There is a Smithfield Barbecue right down the street so we have already decided if we make it our new church home we can have BBQ lunches every Sunday. That's a win in my book! Our weekend was full of friends, food, church and the rest just relaxing. Weekends like that are sometimes far and few between with our busy schedules. I love when we can keep it low key! 

It was a great weekend but I'm also so excited for this week! I am going to look at a possible wedding venue today. [Insert huge grin] yayy! Happy Monday friends(:

Friday, July 25, 2014

Five on Friday

I cannot believe this is the last Friday in July. Where did this month go?! It seems like we were celebrating the 4th of July just yesterday. I'm hoping the rest of the summer will slow down some. I need a few more days to sleep in and work on my tan before school starts. Here are a few things going on in my world this Friday. 

Please check out this absolutely adorable care package my best friend and Maid of Honor sent me. Complete with a cooler monogrammed with my soon to be new initials, napkins, The Knot: Carolina's edition, HGTV magazine and the sweetest note. Is she not the best?! 

I have been spending my days snapping way too many pictures of this cute thing. By the way.. do you know how hard it is to get a 18 month old to take a nap? Nearly impossible. 

Remember the days I used to talk about relaxing by the pool with a good book? Oh no, not any more. Add 5 kids, a pool full of water and slippery walkway and you have one paranoid babysitter.

I can check off another summer bucket list item. (read here) I finally made it to a Pelicans game! Justin's work reserved a section for employees on this particular game so it was the perfect time to enjoy some baseball. The game was a blow out so we didn't stay the whole time. We did make sure to enjoy a hot dog before we left though. Don't they just taste better at a baseball game?

..and so that we all start the weekend on a happy note. Always a good reminder to be grateful! 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Watermelon Festival

Last weekend while we were in Justin's hometown the annual Watermelon Festival was going on. I had never been before so I couldn't wait to check it out and see what it had to offer. It was the epitome of summer in a small southern town. Pretty much the whole town comes out that day to enjoy some free watermelon slices and live music. We had the best time checking everything out! It was perfect that J's house is right down the street so anytime we were hungry or needed a break we could walk home and then head back. 

 I just love these trees! 

The duck race was my favorite part of the day. You can purchase a rubber duck for $10 from a Rotary club member. They then put all of the colorful rubber ducks in the river and let them drift down to the finish line. The first duck to reach the finish line wins $1,000. J and I both bought a duck but neither of us won. Oh well, maybe next time!

What kind of festivals go on in your town?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Bridesmaids

I can't believe Wednesday has already rolled back around! Between starting a new summer nannying job and family events, the past week just flew by. I'm sad to say Justin's grandfather passed away this weekend so we spent a long weekend in his hometown. While the reason for our gathering was very sad it was also very nice to spend that time with his family. 

Edition 2 of Wedding Wednesday!
I am just loving sharing things on here as our wedding planning slowly progresses! 

As most of my bridesmaids are receiving their cards in the mail I can finally share how I asked these very special ladies to be my bridesmaid/maid of honor. I have NINE bridesmaids. So many I know! I honestly couldn't imagine this day without each and every one of them though! I sent each girl a card with a personal note written on the back and these earrings that say: "Will you help me tie the knot?" The card is personalized with each girls name, hair color and hair length. It was important to me that I put lots of thought and detail into how I ask my girls because all of them are so thoughtful and detail oriented themselves.

Meet the girls! 
My sister Ginny and best friend Ashley are going to be Co-Maid of Honor's. Caroline (on the right) is one of my bridesmaids. These girls are not even considered friends they are so much beyond that. They are family! 

Maghan, Kristi and Sarah are bridesmaids. They are friends from college and were all in ZTA with me. Maghan is actually my big and Sarah my little! Sarah is getting married in September.. I can't wait to celebrate her and Mike! 

Carroll is a bridesmaid also. She is probably one of my oldest friends! From kindergarten to college and beyond! 

Last but not least, Jessica is a bridesmaid also! We hit it off freshman year living in the dorms together and have been friends ever since. 

I am so thankful to have these girls in my life! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Bride & Groom

Happy Wednesday friends! I've been so excited for Wednesday to get here because it means I can start my first edition of Wedding Wednesday! I LOVE reading other bloggers wedding planning updates and am so excited I can finally share about my own! I am learning quickly wedding planning is quite a process. I am having so much fun with it though! Planning and organizing is right up my alley. I thought I would start things off by doing a little get to know the bride and groom Q&A. Enjoy! 

Name and age: Amanda, 23 ..going on 24 in 16 days.. let the coutdown begin!
Profession: First grade teacher
What college did you attend? East Carolina University 
How did you meet? My freshman year of college I took the late night bus home one night where I spotted Justin for the first time. He was sitting beside his roomate and they were matching from head to toe- blue polos, black jacket, jeans, whole 9 yards. I of course had to say something about it! The rest is history. 
Where was your first date? Movies .. I think?
What is your favorite thing to do together? I love just hanging out doing nothing with him. We are truly best friends and can spend hours hanging out, laughing and probably eating. 
What is your favorite thing about him? I can't get enough of his amazing personality. He always has me laughing and knows just what to say at the right time.

Groom -his words
Name and age: Justin, 27 
Profession: Banking 
What college did you attend? East Carolina University 
How did you meet? On the bus in college my junior year. At the time I had no idea that the freshman girl I had just met would one day be my wife! 
Where was your first date? Movies, but I can't remember what we saw. I was too distracted by the beautiful girl! 
What is your favorite thing to do together? EAT! 
What is your favorite thing about her? her compassion for others and her passion for teaching and her hobbies. 

If you have any other questions feel free to ask and I'll be sure to post the answer! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Updates & Happiness!

Hey Y'all 
I want to update you on some recent additions to the blog: 

Follow me along on instagram here   @simplesouthernlife 

On another note.. 
A while back I read a book called The Noticer by Andy Andrews. You can read about the book in this post. The book was all about perspective. How everyday life can go however you want it but it's a choice you have to make. Are you going to live a life full of happiness or always let something get in the way? Sometimes we all need a reminder that if you want to be happy, than just be.. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

White Wine Chicken Pasta

This is one of my moms recipes that was always a favorite. I took what I could remember and tried to recreate it this weekend. I'm not sure if it is quite as good as hers but J loved it so it's a win in my book! The best part about this dish is it calls for white wine so you have the perfect excuse to have a cocktail while you cook! That always makes it more fun doesn't it?!

Boneless, skinless chicken breast or tenderloins- I used 7 tenderloins for this recipe & still had plenty of sauce left
white whine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery 
2 tablespoons sour cream 
1 tablespoon cream cheese 
shredded cheese 
bow tie pasta (or any type of pasta) 

Note: The neat thing about this dish is that it can changed in so many ways. More, less sour cream/cream cheese.. or completely leave one out. You can also substitute with greek yogurt. Any type of pasta would work well. You can also use just cream of mushroom or celery if you like one better than the other. The possibilities are endless! 

Lightly brown the chicken in a skillet with white wine until the outer layer is white and not pink. While your chicken is starting to cook, in a baking dish combine cream of mushroom, cream of celery, sour cream, softened cream cheese and desired amount of white wine. Once your chicken has started to turn, place the tenderloins in the dish with your sauce. Spread the sauce evenly around the dish. Bake on 350 for 30-45 minutes. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top the last 10 minutes. Serve over noodles and with a salad. Enjoy! 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

Life Lately

Happy Friday friends! Just saying the word Friday makes me feel about as cool as these giraffes. My week was pretty care free with a little too much time on Pinterest and Netflix and tons of time to cook, organize and relax. Can summer break last forever?! Here is a look at my week through pictures. 

self explanatory.. how could I resist?!

chalkboard fun 

This is why the Carolina's are known for their BBQ.. what's your style? I'm Eastern BBq- vinegar all the way! 

taco night, J's homemade crunch wrap supreme 

attempt at recreating Chick-Fil-A's Grilled Market Chicken Salad. The one on the left is before we added the chicken. We modified our a little bit using strawberries, blueberries, dried cranberries, walnuts and raspberry walnut vinaigrette dressing. 

..and yes, I know over half of these pictures are of food. What can I say? We love to eat! Have a great weekend friends!