Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies

This is quite the momentous year for me. After the wedding of my dreams, followed by a honeymoon that is by far the best vacation I ever took, my lil guy is about to embark on a new adventure. He will soon have his first day of Kindergarten later this week! It's hard to believe that he is growing up so fast, even more so as he eagerly awaits the opportunity to sport his new backpack, wear his new school clothes and meet new friends at his elementary school. Am I emotional about it? Not one bit. More than anything, I'm excited for him and how he will navigate through the school, soaking it all in. It's such an exciting time and I couldn't be more proud of what he's done to get to where he is and where he will be headed!

That said, I'm also faced with new challenges in the kitchen as he starts off with a new routine and going to school for the first time. I'll need to hunker down on a routine of my own with breakfasts every morning, packed lunches, and scheduled dinner for the family. But in between it all, I'm also looking forward to making some fun and tasty snacks to welcome my lil guy (and husband!) home from their day. If you're looking for a great snack for your kiddies, may I suggest these Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies?

Thanks to my friends at Krusteaz, they have some new cookie mixes perfect for fall and they have saved me time and trouble so I can have some sweet goodies ready in no time! These Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies use Krusteaz Brown Sugar Oatmeal cookie mix, fresh orange zest, orange extract, rolled oats and dried cranberries to make into a sweet cookie for our cuties to gobble up! You can get the full recipe here, on the Krusteaz website!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hawaiian Wedding & Luau Recap!

Well here we are... the whirlwind of our Hawaiian wedding luau and Cancun paradise of a honeymoon has started to settle a bit as we're slowly getting back to our normal lives. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect wedding day with all my loved ones in attendance. I've covered quite a bit of detail during my teasers for our ceremony and reception, so here's how it all played out on our wedding day with some pictures provided by friends, family and our photographers, Roland Gozun Photography...

Wedding Banner... to welcome our guests. Many friends and family posed in front of our banner for pictures. It was great that they enjoyed it so much and found it to be a good picture prop too!

Fresh Hawaiian Orchid Lei Greeting... by my matrons of honor and their daughters.
Children received poly leis while all other guests received fresh dendrobium orchid leis.

Woven Bamboo Fan Favors... that was not only colorful but purposeful. Thankfully it wasn't hot or humid during our outdoor wedding, but guests enjoyed them and still used them throughout the day

Ukelele Guest 'Book'... which our guests signed as they arrived. These two ukuleles are now mounted up in our bedroom as a decorative and meaningful keepsake of our wedding...

"First Look" before the ceremony... so we could have a special moment to ourselves before the ceremony and help calm each others nerves lol...

Family Pictures before the ceremony... which we wanted to get done while we all looked fresh with our hair and makeup done. It was a great bonus we had all pictures done early so once the ceremony ended, everyone could relax and enjoy the party right away...

Bridal Entrance... Just moments before everyone stood up as I was escorted by my dad down the grassy aisle, while my dear friend sung "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz...

Married in a ring of fresh flowers... using the flower bouquets from our Southern Pre-Wedding Picnic the night before and accented with more fresh dendrobium orchids.

Our unity candle ceremony.. which was the hiccup if there was any during our wedding day!
There was a great cool breeze throughout the ceremony which made it difficult to light the candles. It took several people to get them lighted after quite some time but finally, we had them lit. I was just waiting to find out what was the "wedding hiccup" would be and when this happened, I thought it was funny it took so many people to light candles. This picture captured that moment perfectly!

Exchange of vows and rings... Patrick was asked first if he took me to be his wife. He said, "I do" - phew! Then it was my turn. When the question was posed to me, I told our officiant that I had to ask the opinion of Joel. At that point, I turned to Joel who was seated immediately in front of us and asked him, "Joel, do you think I should take Patrick to be my husband and your stepdad?".... and to that, Joel yelled out an excited, "Yes!"...

After our kiss and hugs, we are husband and wife!

Patrick seems to like seeing me with a wedding ring on my finger lol...

The guys being guys...

My girls looking fabulous...

Our awesome friends and family...

Reception Tables... with fresh orchid centerpieces, some table snacks and
a 'Hawaiian I Spy' game with disposable cameras for guests to partake in...

Passed Sushi Appetizers... for guests to also nibble on before our luau feast...

Roasted Kahlua Pig... which is a must for any luau!

Main Buffet Island with Kahlua Pork and accompanying side dishes such as Crispy Asian Salad, Macaroni Salad, Steamed Jasmine Rice and Coconut Chicken Kabobs...

Pupu Island with Vegetable Eggrolls, Crispy Chicken Potstickers, 
and made to order Tempura Shrimp & Vegetables...

Stir Fry Island with fresh vegetables, beef, chicken and a variety of sauces served over rice &/or noodles. Guests loved the ability to create their dishes and have them prepared and made to order by a few chefs at the island.

Tropical Drink Island... Our signature mai tai cocktails were a hit, as were our variety of wines, punches and also craft beer from a local brewery...

Hawaiian & Filipino Sweets Table... so many treats to choose from and we encouraged guests to try them all! Chinese take out boxes were also available to fill up and take home to enjoy,,,

Wedding Cake & Cupcakes... our small wedding cake was a Hawaiian Pineapple Cake with buttercream frosting and topped with toasted macadamia nut and coconut. We had cupcakes in the same flavor along with Key Lime Pie and also Chocolate Salted Caramel. Neither Patrick or I had any cake/cupcakes so we wrapped up our cake and froze it to enjoy next year on our one year anniversary. (Crossing fingers it will still be good!)

Hawaiian Shave Ice... with the number of guests, two trucks were sent over and the guests loved this! Guests chose from cherry, blue raspberry and pina colada shave ice...

Hawaiian Dancers... What's a luau without dancers?! 
They preformed several dances and even got our guests up and dancing too!

Ladies Hula Dance... All the ladies were asked to come up and dance the hula with me in the middle. It was fun and our girls did great!

Mens Dance... Patrick was also called up with the guys from our wedding party to do their dance for the audience. We loved how they all got into it - even Patrick lol!

Wedding Dance... We thought we could get away with not dancing in front of people but we were wrong. They had us involved quite a bit and we danced as if no one was watching lol...

Hawaiian Wedding Song... It was only customary that we dance to the Hawaiian Wedding Song and it was great. Joel even got into the spotlight as the youngest band member playing the skins...

Thank You Speech... Patrick and I couldn't thank our friends and family enough for celebrating with us on our wedding day. We had guests from three continents, four countries, eight states and multiple cities attend to support us and share the love....

Closing Song... We kicked off our wedding ceremony with 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' by Iz Kamakawiwo╩╗ole. We also closed out our wedding reception with the same song sung by our musicians, Barefoot Hawaiian. I joined them for a little bit and sang along....

Farewell... Then it was time to go. We bid our friends and family goodbye with plenty of hugs, kisses and many more thank yous...

These pictures are teasers from our photographer but there are plenty of more pictures taken by family and friends - you can check them out on WedPics!

Patrick and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect wedding.
Both of us are still overwhelmed with the love we felt from family and friends that day and we can only hope they enjoyed celebrating with us as much as we did ourselves! Everything about the ceremony and wedding was truly our style - non-traditional, casual, and very family oriented. It truly was an amazing day with everything perfectly executed. The best part? I finally have my 'happily ever after' with my best friend, partner and love of my life. It may have taken us nearly 40 years with a rough journey at times that we each had to take in order for our paths to cross, but they did. Now, we can enjoy the journey our lives will take together, hand in hand and with such a deep love for each other.

 Stay tuned - I'll be sharing our honeymoon experience we had in Cancun at the Excellence Playa Mujeres Resort soon... and wow, it was quite a culinary experience to say the least!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Lemon Thyme Waffles

Breakfast has been a popular meal at our house lately, even outside the typical breakfast hours! Joel has been slightly obsessed with waffles because he loves how our waffle maker makes such crispy waffles on the outside while being soft and tender inside. Joe's definitely on to something because it's also been fun for me to play with different batters by adding a variety of ingredients! One recent waffle variation we made were these Lemon Thyme Waffles. The light waffle batter, thanks to the awesome folks of Krusteaz, is enhanced with fresh thyme from our garden and a nice dose of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Check out our recipe featured on the Krusteaz website here!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Teaser: Tonight's Pre-Wedding Southern BBQ Picnic

One more day. One. And now that the day is practically here, I am so excited. So happy. Beyond happy! Here is the last teaser of our wedding weekend, highlighting the festivities we will have tonight to kick off our celebration of love!

Pre-Wedding Picnic
We are making a whole weekend of our wedding celebration and to kick things off, we're throwing a casual picnic the day before our wedding. It's going to be a fun time where we will actually have a chance to really connect, catch up, mingle and really spend quality time with family and friends. One of the first trips we took all together with Patrick's family was to Savannah, GA and Hilton Head, NC last year. We had such a wonderful time and it was fun to experience the south for the first time with them. That said, our wedding picnic will be a Southern theme as a nod to our first family trip together.

Pre-Wedding Picnic Invitations
I had picnic invitations created through an Etsy shop, Simply Smitten Designs. They did a beautiful job designing and printing the invites, which I've already received in the mail.

Picnic Tables
Each of the picnic tables at the venue will be dressed with the classic red checkered picnic tablecloth . To me, this iconic look is what picnics are all about!

Floral Centerpieces
To add some color to the tables, I also used mason jars as vases for some fresh flowers I picked up. The flowers will also be used tomorrow in our ceremony, where we will create a 'flower circle' under the tree where we will be wed.

Southern Picnic I SPY
Each table will also have a framed I SPY game for guests to play. They are asked to take a picture of various unique items incorporated into our wedding that they can share on social media using our hashtag #tankennylove.

Southern Picnic Menu
For the picnic, we're planning on having a casual spread of classic southern inspired dishes. I plan on preparing some of the picnic side dishes but a majority of the feast will be catered by a few vendors. Our menu will include...

Pimento Cheese & Crackers. I'm making this for the wedding and knew a proper Southern picnic should have some homemade pimento cheese on the table.

Deviled Eggs. I ordered this to be catered so that I wouldn't have to go through several dozens of eggs and boil, cut and fill them myself. These are a great appetizer to have for a picnic and a perfect addition to the table.

Dip & Veggies. I also ordered this to be catered and it includes a spinach dip served with a variety of veggies. Colorful, healthy and another cool summer appetizer to share.

Smoked BBQ baby back ribs from our favorite rib joint, BBQ Productions. They are a local spot known for their ribs and we've ordered quite a few slabs for our hungry crowd. To accompany the ribs, we will also have a BBQ sauce bar which includes several bottles of different sauces for guests to dress them as they wish with Maple Chipotle Sauce, IBC Rootbeer Sauce, Sam Adams Boston Lager Sauce, Alabama White Sauce and a Chicago Sweet & Spicy Sauce.

Southern Fried Chicken from Popeyes. Patrick first had Popeyes chicken when we started dating and I guess I converted him! It's definitely one of our favorite chicken spots and they have quite a catering menu so we also ordered a few more things...

Macaroni & Cheese from Popeyes. A favorite of Joel's, this mac and cheese is a great vegetarian option and a classic dish everyone loves!

Buttermilk Biscuits Bar with biscuits from Popeyes. If you know me and how I host parties, I love menus where guests can help themselves to play and customize their food. Rather than throwing biscuits on the table, I've included a variety of jams, jellies, honey, butter and spreads for their biscuits.

Southern Potato Salad. I'm marrying an Irish guy so there has to be some potatoes represented lol. That and its a perfect accompaniment to fried chicken too!

Tangy Coleslaw. Another side dish for our fried chicken and ribs and a classic picnic staple. This beats a typical green salad any day.

Fresh Cut Watermelon. It's summer, so why not? I bought a few seedless watermelons to cut up and serve on a galvanized tray that will be set on a dessert table.

Salted Caramel Shortbread. I picked up a couple containers of these and added them to our dessert table at the last minute because I started thinking there may not be enough food. Typical lol.

Picnic Pie Buffet with pies from Bakers Square. It's not unusual for Patrick's family to celebrate birthdays with a pie instead of a cake, so we're highlighting pie as our main dessert for the picnic. We're going to set up a pie buffet (something we are both super excited about!) I'm using cake stands from my personal collection to display the pies in varying heights. 

Sweet Tea & Lemonade Station. I have 3 beverage dispensers set aside on a table that will be filled with sweet tea, lemonade and also watermelon punch. In addition, we'll have Coca-Cola products, bottled water and beer for guests to quench their thirst! And for an extra touch, I'll also have a mason jar filled with fresh mint from my garden to add a nice garnish to drinks!

So with a venue set in a forest preserve on a summer evening, there will definitely be some unwanted visitors - mosquitos. That said, I wasn't sure if the county fogs off insects so I purchased some bug fogger to treat our venue. 

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus. And for added protection for our guests, I also purchased several bottles of deet-free insect repellent. It's the little things, you know?!

Karaoke DJ
I knew I had to incorporate some fun entertainment. Among my friends, karaoke is a favorite pastime and we had to incorporate karaoke somehow in our wedding festivities. The best opportunity is going to be at our picnic since it's casual, fun and a time for folks to really belt out their favorite song. We've hired a karaoke DJ to come out and liven up the mood with some songs and a few microphones for friends and family to sing their hearts out. I personally can't wait to hear my friends sing and liven up the party!

And as sunset comes around, Patrick and I will be saying goodnight before our big day tomorrow. He will be staying at a local hotel while I will go back home and try to sleep with all the excitement. I have an early day tomorrow with our hair and make up stylists... and I'm ready to be glammed up for my dream wedding to my dream man.

Thank you for allowing me to share my whole wedding planning process all this week and if you're on social media, you can follow along the #tankennylove hashtag for pictures of the entire weekend festivities!
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