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Tuesday, December 29

...these two people, are a couple I love so much. Meet Emily and Coldon, two of my oldest friends, who got engaged the same weekend the Mister and I did.

Em's photographer Michael Lamb was generous enough to let me share some of his amazing shots from their engagement shoot. Don't they look so in love?


Miss Emily is a photographer and artist herself, so I'm sure her wedding next fall will be goooorgeous. I'm sure I'll have photos of my own to share then, as I'm standing in the wedding.
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Monday, December 28

Like most of you, I took a break from the blogging world over the holiday week. I was pleasantly surprised to log into my email this morning and find a lovely email from Nicole at Carolina Bride informing that I had won her Double Trouble Designs giveaway. I won a free monogram from them to use on my invitations, thank you notes, etc. This is the first blog giveaway that I've won!

I have to say, Nikki and Sara were super-quick and easy to work with in choosing my design; they sent me an email mid-morning letting me know what they would need, and I already have the finished product. The Mister and I haven't decided exactly how we'll incorporate it into our invites, so I won't share the final design with you (yet!), but this was one of our other top choices:

If you're thinking of customizing your stationary, business cards or just about any part of a wedding invitation, I recommend checking their website out and dropping them an email. This was a fantastic little late Christmas surprise that started my Monday off right.

Thank you, Carolina Bride and Double Trouble Designs!
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Friday, December 25

I hope that everyone is having a great holiday! For your enjoyment, my Mister doing an "advertisement" shot of cookies he received on Christmas Eve. He was so excited that they were personalized with his name on the box. That's me rocking the pink Santa hat in the background.
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Tuesday, December 22

 The is my buddy Rob's photo.

I saw this survey on Adventures of a Yankee Girl a couple weeks ago and thought this would be perfect for the week of Christmas when we're all super busy. The survey creator is Mandy from Mandy's Life after 30. Mandy also created some rules to go along with the survey:

(a) leave a comment and answer the below 25 questions that Mandy made up,

(b) write the answers to the questions below in your own blog post, if you have a blog, that is.

or (c) call yourself a scrooge in the comment below and refuse to answer them.

I hope you choose (A) or (B), but we're all busy this time of year, so don't feel bad if you choose option (C). If you do decide to write your own blog post about it, please mention Mandy since she took the time to create the survey for us.

Okay, here goes.
1. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Home Alone. Even after all these years, it still makes me laugh. I also like the Family Stone, but then I'm a big Sarah Jessica Parker fan.

2. What is your LEAST favorite Christmas movie?
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Actually, I don't like National Lampoon anything.

3. What is your favorite Christmas song?
"Carol of the Bells" *Swoon* I loooove that song.

4. What Christmas song(s) drives you crazy?
"Last Christmas" And I don't really care who covers it. If this girl gave her heart away last year, had it broken and is sill singing about it a year later, then she clearly needs to move on. It doesn't help that the damn song is playing every time I go into Target.

5. What is your favorite Christmas drink? (i.e. egg nog, hot chocolate)
Hot cocoa with a shot of Baileys. I had some last night; it makes me happy. Irish coffee is pretty good too.

6. What is your favorite Christmas memory?
When I still lived in Michigan, my entire family would get together at my Grandmother's house. There were about 40 of us at the time, and I had a lot of cousins to play with. With so many people, there was always something crazy going on.

7. What is the best toy/gift you've received on Christmas?
I was pretty excited the year I got my rollerblades. Back then, my girlfriends and I used to go to all night skates at the rink, or we would spend hours outside skating up and down the driveway, laughing and talking about boys.

8. What is the worst toy/gift you've received on Christmas?
I don't remember; I must have blocked the memory.

9.What do you LOVE about the holidays?
I really enjoy wrapping presents. When I have the time (not this year), I like to put a special ornament, bow or ribbon on each gift. Example, my niece has jingle bells tied to her gift bag this year. And it's pretty hard not to love Christmas cookies, though I'm trying to stay away from those this year for the sake of fitting in my wedding dress.

10. What annoys you about the holidays?
Well, I work an exit up from the mall, so holiday traffic really ticks me off, and I have to deal with it every day whether I want to or not.

11. Do you prefer star or angel on top of a Christmas tree? Or something else?
A star that lights up. Down here in the South, a lot of people put bows on the tops of their trees; I just don't understand that.

12. What is your family favorite recipe at Christmas?
I really like my Grandma's recipes for baked chocolate pudding and sour cream raisin pie; I'm really glad that my dad got these from her before she passed away. And it's not my family's recipe, but Kate's mom make some killer cappuccino flats (cookies) that I love.

13. Are you a Grinch or a Who at Christmastime?
Most days I'm a Who, but there is a lot going on this time of year, so it's hard to stay chipper all the time. Last night, I was having a Grinch night. Luckily the aforementioned cocoa with Bailey's cheered me up.

14. Christmas light displays - Love them or Hate them?
I like lights displays, but I can't stand those blow-up yard ornaments. My buddy Rob and his parents do their Christmas lights huge every year (see the photo at the top of this post).

15. Santas at the mall - Fun times or Creepy?
Good fun.

16 Christmas cards - do you send them, yes or no?
We send them, though that list is getting pretty long. I hope that I didn't leave anyone out.

17. What is the best thing about Christmas, in your opinion?
Well, I'm Christian, so I'm going to have to say celebrating Jesus' birth, but I would be lying if I didn't also say that I really look forward to the time with family and friends--especially since that's one of my annual visits from Kate.

18. What is the worst thing about Christmas?
I really hate how commercial the whole holiday season has gotten. I like to Christmas shop as much as the next person, but I don't want to see Christmas displays before Halloween.

19. When do you put the tree up and take it down?
I like to put it up the weekend of Thanksgiving, though that doesn't always happen. And I usually leave it up for the 12 days of Christmas.

20. Out of the 12 days of Christmas, which day and item would you want your true love to give to you?
I guess I'd  never really thought about it before. I just did a quick search to see what all the gifts represent, and based on Christian symbolism in this article, I'd have to go with that partridge in a pear tree. It's definitely the most important gift I've ever been given.

21. Why do you think that Grandma got run over by a reindeer?
Grandma can't hold her alcohol, but shame on the rest of the family for not finding her a designated driver.

22 Who is your favorite reindeer?
I really have no idea, but I guess I'll root for Rudolph since he was the underdog.

23. Do you believe in Santa Claus?
I wish I still could to be that innocent again. Two years ago, my niece got a phone call from "Santa" on Christmas Eve, she was so nervous and excited to talk to him. And it sure made getting to go to bed that night easier.

24. What is your favorite smell at Christmastime?
Cinnamon! I also really like fresh pine. We don't have a real tree inside this year, and I'm so bummed.

25. What would make you happy at Christmas this year?
I'm super excited about my step-mom's Christmas blintzes this year. I haven't been home on a Christmas morning in years, and I'm really looking forward to breakfast with the family.
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One of the best treats that my Mister makes is banana bread, and as a Christmas gift to all of you in blogger world, he's letting me share his favorite banana bread recipe.

The key to this recipe is the sour cream; it makes the loaf so moist and light.

Flour's Famous Banana Bread
1 2/3 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 c + 2 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c oil
3 1/2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 Tbsp sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 c chopped nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
3. Beat sugar and eggs together until light and fluffy; drizzle in oil.
4. Add mashed bananas, sour cream, vanilla and nuts.
5. Fold in dry ingredients.
6. Pour into lined loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour.
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Thursday, December 17

Image from Diets in Review

Today is exactly 4 months from the wedding! That would be 4 months to get those last 10 pounds off for my dress.

Good thing I'm really getting my butt in gear on the fitness thing. This week has included running on Monday. Cardio dance and pilates on Tuesday. Shopping the my future MIL yesterday, which I promise involves A LOT of walking and carrying.

Today, I'm planning on yoga and pilates, and tomorrow I'll be back to the gym for more running. And since my bestest is here this weekend, we may go running down at the Riverwalk on Saturday too.

Next week, I want to start integrating this arms/shoulder workout (Real Simple December 2009) into my fitness routine as know, since I'm wearing a strapless dress and all, having killer arms and shoulders wouldn't be a bad thing.

What is everyone else doing to get in or stay in shape over the holidays? I have to say, all the Christmas cookies are pretty tempting.

*P.S.: I am not following the fitness plan that the picture above is linked to; I simply thought the image was a good fit for today's post.
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Wednesday, December 16

This week we received a holiday package in the mail from my brother and his wife, Mireya. They  had called and let us know that there were perishables in it so we should open it as soon as we receive it. What we found was a wonderful treat!

They thoughtfully put together breakfast for us. This is what we received: Guinness bread with molasses, three varieties of cookies and a jar of homemade spiced peach preserves. Since I'm a fan of dark beer, I'm looking forward to trying the bread. The Mister is always trying new jams and jellies, so he's super excited about the preserves.

Breakfast tomorrow is going to be so tasty!

Thanks guys! Y'all are the best.
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This past weekend, the Mister and I baked Christmas cookies to take as hostess gifts for a couple parties we attended. We both really enjoyed working together in the kitchen, and we had dozens of peanut butter blossoms and chocolate chip cookies as a result of our work.

I gave him his choice of aprons; he opted for Christmas elf over Gourmet Goddess.

We actually attended three parties over the weekend, but I only remembered the camera for one if them:


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Tuesday, December 15

Now that these are in the mail, I can share our Christmas cards with everyone.

We got these photo cards through SeeHere by FujiFilm. They were running a promotion through Nov. 30 that allowed your to create and print 50 free cards, including shipping. Thanks to Miss Mojito (who happens to be getting married the same day I am) for letting her readers know about the promotion.

The photo is from our engagement photos by Chi Pritchard
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My Mister lovin' on Miss Kate when she came in for my birthday a couple years ago.
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Monday, December 14

A quick note, this post is not meant to be political. Whether you do or don't agree with the reasons that our troops are sent overseas, there are service men and women who are giving up time with their families and friends over the holidays to make sure that we can continue to enjoy ours.

My DailyCandy email reminded me today of the Let's Say Thanks program. You go to the web site, pick a post card design and personalize it. Xerox prints the card and sends in a care package to troops overseas.

It's quick, simple and free. And it may just make the day of someone you don't know who won't be able come home this year for the holidays. I've heard of and participated before, but today's email a swift kick reminder that I should be doing this more often.
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Thursday, December 10

These plaid pajamas by American Eagle were featured today on Real Simple's daily finds. They make me think of my bestest in Delaware. I would stick them under the Christmas tree for her, but they are sold out in her size online.

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...when I spotted the movie poster for Sex and the City 2 on VexInTheCity's blog this morning. The poster was just released today, apparently.

WARNING: Possible plot spoiler below. Don't read if you don't want to know the plot speculation.

Doesn't Carrie look fabulous? This has me so excited...along with seeing Sarah Jessica Parker on the covers of numerous magazines.

I've searched in vain and found no official trailer yet. All I know is that Big is rumored to have an affair in the movie with a woman named Lydia, played by Penelope Cruz. Too bad the movie doesn't premier until May 2010. It's going to a loooong winter and spring waiting on this movie to come out. Luckily, I have wedding to finish planning and have to keep me occupied in the meantime. =D
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Wednesday, December 9

It's shaping up to be one of those weeks, so tonight I decided it was time for some TLC. That involved making myself a cup of cocoa and then taking a long, hot shower. (And I used some of the Mister's tea tree shampoo and conditioner; the tingling on my scalp is so soothing.)

And at work, this desktop picture has been keeping me sane.

By Maquita on Pixel Girl Presents

Here's the artist's note:
This is the 5th part of a series of wallpapers with the two birds Pipita and Milo. Usually they are always arguing about.....well what couples argue about. But this year they're have a peaceful Christmas, because Milo finally picked the right present.
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Tuesday, December 8

Forever ago I mentioned that the Mister and I had designed our Save the Date cards. It took most of the month of October to work out getting them printed; I'm not complaining. The printer is the friend of my boss, and he was gracious enough to print them for free.

Just before Thanksgiving, I mailed the last one to the Mister's uncle in Japan. So I think that I can share the design now.

Photo by Chi Pritchard; design by my Mister

I know that I've mentioned her before, but I want to give mad props to our photographer, Chi Pritchard. She did awesome work and has super reasonable rates. She also does weddings all over South Carolina. If you're local to me, I would highly recommend her.
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A few of you have asked me to share the recipe for the banana rum pancakes we had while I was in Delaware. You're in luck! My MOH has very generously shared the recipe she created.

This photo doesn't do justice to how good these were.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a sauce pan. Add at least 2 sliced bananas and saute until soft. Top with cinnamon and add 1/4 cup good Jamaican rum for every two bananas. Boil off alcohol and serve over top of pancakes.
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Sunday, December 6

This weekend it turned cold (at least for Columbia, SC) so the Mister and I put some Christmas music on and poured some red wine before we began our holiday decorating. The Mister put our outdoor lights up last week, but I wanted to get the tree done.

Usually, I like to get our tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving, but that wasn't an option this year since I was in Delaware.  Due to budget and size constraints, we decided not to buy a full-size tree this year. Instead we decorated my little three-foot artificial tree that I've had since college. We still had a good time reminiscing over how I/we got each ornament and singing along with the music.

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Saturday, December 5

It's been a while since I've been running. For the last couple months, I've been really busy. And I rolled my ankle, which kept me from running for a while. But I've also been a wimp about it, because my Nikes that I blogged about before had really started hurting my feet.

I have wide feet, and the last few times I've been running, I've gotten cramps across the ball of my feet. So this afternoon, I stopped by Fleet Feet to discuss the issue and see what I could do about it. As it turns out, the cramping come from the shoe being too tight across the top of my foot, which is what I had suspected.

I had kind of figured that a new pair of shoes was going to be the solution to my pain. So I tried on several pairs of shoes, before settling on these:

Image source: Road Runner Sports  

My new shoes are the Wave Inspire 6s by Mizuno. I'm hoping they will work out, because I've set a goal to run enough to burn 4000 calories over the next 4 weeks.
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Friday, December 4

I may have beaten the cupcake subject to death, but here we go again ... =)

Tonight, I'm meeting up with a close girlfriend to do cupcake tasting! She's done cakes for weddings, birthday, showers, etc., and she's very generously offered to bake cupcakes for our wedding.

Last month she sent me some ideas she had come across, tying in our beachy theme. I thought I would share some of my favorites:


 These were my picks for the menu:

1. Cream Cheese Cupcakes
2. Rum Cakes and Rum Frosting
3. Citrus Cake and Lemon whipped Cream Frosting
4. Strawberry Daiquiri and Lime Frosting
5. Cappuccino Cupcakes
6. Key Lime Cupcakes
7. Mocha Cupcakes
8. Tiramisu Cupcakes

I don't know if she's making all eight flavors, but I'm super excited to see what she's created.

Unfortunately, I don't know where she pulled these photos from so I can't share the source for others to get inspiration; I'll update this post if I find out tonight.
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Thursday, December 3

I'm a damn Yankee, meaning I moved here from up North and won't go back. That means that I somewhat frequently run into things about South Carolina that just don't make sense to me. But one thing I think can't be beat is how mild our winters are here.

I don't like cold at all, and here in Columbia I maybe have to see snow once a year.

Yesterday the Mister went out to our garden and picked fresh bell peppers for our DECEMBER! How awesome is that?

Red, orange and green straight from our backyard.

 P.S. This is my 100th post. How about that?
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Both of my bridesmaids have each chosen this cute sandal for the wedding. Can't beat dyeables from David's Bridal.
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Wednesday, December 2

Now that I've had a chance to catch up on all my blogs from last week while I was out of town, I think I can accept this award. My SIL Mireya nominated my blog last week for the Lovely Blog Award. Thanks!

The rules are pretty straight forward:

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who's given it to you, along with the link to his or her blog.
2. Pass the award to seven other blogs you enjoy.
3.Contact those bloggers to let them know they've been chosen for this award.

Here are seven lovely blogs that I've been enjoying lately:

Have a great day!

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Tuesday, December 1

...or at least a new suit.

Doesn't my Mister look handsome in his suit?

We stopped by Dillard's and purchased it yesterday at 60% off! The tie is Jerry Garcia; we got it at Belk's.

P.S. We have already agreed that the Mister will be clean shaven for the wedding. Don't fret =)
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Just a couple quick photos from the weekend in Delaware!

Getting ready for a drink after some serious Black Friday shopping.

Rob enjoying some banana rum pancakes and coffee before the Gamecocks whooped his team. Poor Clemson fans.
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Tuesday, November 24

I know that I've mentioned this before, but I'm almost too excited to be productive at work. Tomorrow when I get off work, my best guy friend Rob and I are meeting at my parents' house. From there, we will be heading on a road trip to Delaware to see my bestest Kate for Thanksgiving! We made this trip in 2006 and had a great time. I cannot wait to see her. Here's the agenda for the weekend: 

Wednesday evening: Leave Charlotte and get on the road. The trip is about 575 miles and between 8-10 hours, depending on traffic around D.C. Lots of caffeine will be consumed. 

Early Thursday morning: Arrive in Newark, DE. Give Kate lots of hugs and crash for a few hours of sleep 

Thursday mid-morning: Kate and I will prepare turkey and other Thanksgiving dishes. Everything is being made from scratch except the biscuits. There will likely be lots of wine consumed and lots of giggling. 

Thursday afternoon and evening: FEAST on Thanksgiving goodness. More wine and reminiscing. 

Friday: Black Friday shopping. We will NOT be getting up at before dawn though. I have intention of going to the new MAC and Sephora stores as we don't have these in Columbia.

Saturday: GAME DAY! The Carolina v. Clemson rivalry game begins at noon. Rob is a Clemson fan; Kate and I are Carolina girls. Last time we were up for Thanksgiving, Carolina won. Here's hoping that becomes a Delaware Thanksgiving tradition.

Sunday: Long drive home I'm going to miss my Kate will probably be looking forward to getting home to my Mister.

And I have to share pictures from the last trip, most of which you've probably seen before.
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When I was out in Washington this summer, I teased my brother because he was getting married on Father's Day weekend, and his response was "I'm giving Dad the best present ever, another daughter." And he did give our family quite a gift in the beautiful, kind woman who is my new sister-in-law.

Today is her birthday; since we can't be out west to celebrate with her, I'm going to send some blog love!

Happy Birthday, Mireya!

I don't have any embarrassing photos of her to share, so here's a photo of the happy couple. This was the first year that we got to meet her when she flew home with my brother for Christmas.

You can give her some birthday blog love at ::pearls & such::

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