March 29, 2012

Flashback Friday: Kauai, HI (the falls hikes)

As the month of March comes to an end, I wanted to end Flashback Fridays with one of the best memories of our marriage. Our honeymoon in Kauai, Hawaii. It was a once in a lifetime trip that we really took the time to plan, save and enjoy. We will call this post a glimpse since there is so many places I want to show you guys in case you ever visit this wonderful place.

So why that island? We choose Kauai for two main reasons.

1. There were not as many families (kids in general) or spring breakers that traveled to that island. Don't get me wrong, I love kids. And we could party with the best of them but we really wanted a quiet, relaxing trip where were weren't surrounded by kid attractions and keg kills. This island was recommended more for honeymoons and adults.

2. We wanted some adventure off the beaten path. Again, I realize that every island in Hawaii offers adventure activities and volcanoes etc. but we picked Kauai because it was known as the garden island. In fact most of the island is an official nature preserve so people are limited to where they can live. We couldn't even visit part of the island without going by helicopter (which we did) or boat. That meant more adventures for us like riding a helicopter, zip lining and horseback riding.

Now when I say off the beaten path, I meant off the beaten path. We hiked some great and challenging paths. The most notable one was the Hanakapi'ai Beach Hike.  The first time we tackled this hike, we just did the first two miles to the beach.

Eventually we tackled the other 2 miles of the hike to see the Hanakapi'ai Falls Hike. It wasn't always easy or safe but it was worth it.

I recommend a few things for anyone who wants to tackle this hike. First, make sure you allot enough time aka sunlight. Tim and I were in good shape when we did this hike but since it was uphill, rocky and other people were going up it, it look us about 45 minutes just to go 1/2 mile.

I also recommend sturdy hiking shoes. There are a lot of rocks, mud and steep hills so proper shoes really helped us. Don't get too attached to the clothes you are wearing either. See that red, muddy clay in the pic above? Well lets just say that it got everywhere.

Also, bring water and snacks if you are going for the long haul. We brought PB&J sandwiches and ate them at the falls. It really was a highlight on the trip.

So that is where I will leave my story for now. I have sooo many pictures and things to share but I will be here all night if I try to fit it in this post. Has anyone tackled a big hike or trail on a vacation? We were really proud and didn't feel a single twinge of guilt when we chowed down that night. :)

March 26, 2012

Getting festive: Spring Mantle

Special Tuesday post! I was excited about my little project on Sunday and wanted to share. I am not much for decorating for every holiday. I prefer seasonal decoration except for Halloween or Christmas but I couldn't resist brightening up our mantle a little. A little disclaimer: we need to scrub the fireplace. It got a great workout this winter but I haven't gotten around to it.

The theme is spring but you will see Easter eggs in the vases. This decorating was all free since I just used what I had and what my mom gave me from her collection. But enough talk. Let's get some more sunshine in this blog.

I made this banner by printing out the free labels on and spelling out Springtime!. I hung it up with yarn. A free and simple banner.

It was simple to grab things around the house to tie it all in. The wrapped wine bottles, you may remember are from an earlier project. I grabbed books with light, spring colors and various vases for the decorative wooden eggs that my mom gave me.

Here is the other angle.

For fun I added some really colorful easter baskets for a punch of strong color.

Thats all I got. Short and Sweet. Did you decorate for spring? Send me a picture. Anyone else love spring as much as me? :)

March 25, 2012

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

*I'll be posting again on Tuesday because I am excited so show you my Spring Mantle. :)

Yes, I realize that St. Patty's Day has come and gone but I believe this cupcake is good all year round and when my friend Jonelle (You may remember her "to die for" Smore Cookies) sent these to me last week, I knew I couldn't wait until next year to showcase them. Therefore, I bring to you another guest blog post from my buddy Jonelle... and her baby girl Beth!

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

I first saw this recipe on Pinterest originally from this site ( and knew I wanted to make these as my second guest blog appearance.  I’ve never made cupcakes from scratch so I knew I wanted to challenge myself and give it a whirl.  And who doesn’t like a recipe with booze in it??  I baked them on St. Patrick’s Day to feel festive.  All in all, I was happy with how they turned out - and my co-workers were very appreciative :).

1. First I lined up all the ingredients I was going to use.  Since my hubby was unwilling to spend $32 on the smallest bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream he could find, we compromised and I ended up using Bailey’s Irish Cream Coffee Creamer instead.  The end result was still delicious, but I’m sure using the actual Bailey’s would have produced a stronger taste.

For the Cupcakes:
1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup salted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoons salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup light sour cream

For the Whiskey Ganache Filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Irish whiskey

For the Baileys Frosting:
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream – or Bailey’s Coffee Creamer

I started off by preheating my oven to 350 degrees F and lining my cupcake pans with 24 cupcake liners.

I brought the Guinness and butter to a simmer in a nonstick medium saucepan over medium heat.

Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine.

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined.

Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat briefly.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners. Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a rack.

3. To Make the Whiskey Ganache Filling: Finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl.

Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then, using a rubber spatula, stir it from the center outward until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped.

4. To Fill the Cupcakes: Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter (or the bottom of a large decorating tip), cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes, going about two-thirds of the way down. Transfer the ganache to a piping back with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

5. To Make the Baileys Frosting: Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar until all of it is incorporated. Add the Baileys, increase the speed to medium-high and whip for another 2 to 3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.

6. Using your favorite decorating tip, or an offset spatula, frost the cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container.

Wow, those look amazing! A big thanks again to Jonelle (and browneyedbaker) for bringing us another gut busting, mouth watering recipe to try. Jonelle's awesome step by step instructions as well as all her instructional pictures are so helpful. I am a visual person so it is always helpful for me to see the steps.

So, who is tackling this project? My birthday is in a few months and I wouldn't mind these to celebrate. :)

March 22, 2012

Flashback Fridays: Traditions and little Touches

Oh man. All this lovey dovey stuff is probably getting annoying for some of you. But don't worry. We will be back to regularly schedule programming next week. I have some great recipes and some bathroom progress to show you. :)

This Flashback Friday topic will be traditions and little touches. (to check out our other wedding posts, go here, here and here) Traditions differ between families, religions and countries. It is very common to feel pressured to have some traditions but Tim and I learned quickly that we should decide what to do. So we began to prioritize and figure out what was important to us. Here are two examples.

Tim and I were both raised Roman Catholic. It plays a slightly bigger part on my father's side because my uncle is a priest. So one of the first decisions Tim and I made was to get married in a church by my uncle. After all, he baptized me, gave me communion and confirmed me. Why not throw a wedding in there too, right? :)

It meant a lot to both of our families (esp. Grandmothers) so it was worth it. We didn't stick with the full tradition though. We didn't have communion. We decided not to do that because a lot of our bridal party wasn't Catholic as well as a lot of our friends. I didn't want anyone to feel uncomfortable. Plus, lets be honest, it made the service go quicker which I hate to say, was a factor. Although we got some slack for it, I still feel like we made the right choice.

The next tradition we decided to compromise on were wedding pictures. Tim and I like to be goofy and relaxed so we were not too worried about formal photos. Our parents however wanted a few. So we compromised. We did a very quick church photo session.

Then we went to the reception and had a lot of fun with the rest of the bridal party!

Those are only two examples but the point was to show all those bride to be's that it is possible for you to compromise and just follow your plan and do what you want to do at the wedding. It is YOUR big day after all. So have fun :)

As for little touches, I am blessed with two talented moms. My mom made an adorable flower girl basket. She crocheted it following a pattern. She incorporated a green ribbon to keep with my color scheme.

My mother in law made a beautiful ring bear pillow using white and green ribbon. It was so nice to have both of them make something special for our day.

My mother in law also made my veil. It was simple like I wanted with just a little bit of bling along the edges and the top of the comb. She took a piece of tool, cut it to the length I wanted and then glued it to a comb and sewed the line of bling around it. It came out really great and saved us a couple hundred dollars.

So that is a little more insight into our big day. We followed some traditions while maybe tweaking or ditching others. And the little touches also helped make our day even more memorable and unique.

What is the little detail that you remember from your big day? How about traditions? Did you ditch any or did you stay the course the whole way?

March 20, 2012

Anniversary Post (Recap 1st and 2nd)

Before I begin to dive into our wonderful 2nd anniversary, I think I should start by recapping our first anniversary. When we booked our wedding at Aldie Mansion (more on that here) we knew that we weren't going to be able to take a honeymoon right away. 1. Because we were paying for it by ourselves 2. We were so wrapped up in planning the wedding that we were worried that we weren't going to focus on it like we should and 3. Because Tim was the best man in a wedding the following Florida!

Crazy, right?! It is completely our fault. They had their wedding planned first but I wasn't going to give up that venue and that was the only date open so we went with it. Luckily they were super cool about it and even traveled up to attend our wedding.

Although we didn't take an official honeymoon right away we did go to Florida a few days early to unwind and just enjoy the fact that we survived an awesome wedding!

But I digress. We decided in the following months that we were going to celebrate our first anniversary in Hawaii for our official Honeymoon. So we saved and planned and finally went to Kauai, Hawaii. I will do another post about that crazy trip like where we stayed, ate and explored for anyone interested but for now I will just show some highlights as a recap.
One of the amazing beaches we drove past:

Our Helicopter Tour:

Our amazing Anniversary Dinner:

Needless to say, when it came to topping that first anniversary, we knew it would be a challenge. So we decided to stay local and a little lower key since it fell on a Tuesday and we had added expenses this year such as our brand new car! So we kept it special by heading to our rehearsal spot for dinner: Villa Barolo. It was delicious. The food was amazing and we left a little fuller and a little happier. Of course we also exchanges gifts! I have to admit that as much as I tried to stay with tradition and do something with cotton or china, I gave up and bailed on it. Why? Because trying to get something for a man that revolves around cotton or china is not that exciting! There. I said it!
So instead I got him something that we have had our eyes on. The Soda Stream Pure Soda Maker.

SodaStream Pure Soda Maker
Tim probably drinks more carbonated drinks than anyone I know so when this machine first came out, I wanted to get it but waited to see what the reviews said and of course for the price to come down. Thankfully armed with a coupon and a gift card I bought the soda maker and a dishwasher safe bottle for a great deal. I wont spill the beans because the hubby reads this but believe me- it was a great price.

We also have a tradition where we try to get each other two cards for special occasions. One funny and one a bit more sappy and romantic. This year, we didn't disappoint! :)

As for my gift, well Tim didn't disappoint either! He spent many nights working on it at my parents house. I had NO clue what he was doing. All I know is that he was excited to make it since Valentines Day. He made me this wonderful bench for our downstairs bathroom! He only got to priming it and still needs to finish the details but I am so excited because the work that went into it already is amazing. I should explain that we are not experienced wood workers in anyway so the fact that he took the time to DIY this for me is really sweet.

Look at the molding and trim work. I will make sure to write a finished post as soon as we decided what color to paint it and what fabric to put on the seat. Either way I am so excited. :)

So that was our 2nd Wedding Anniversary! I know I can't say this enough but I am so lucky to have Tim in my life. I found him early (high school!) and we have been through a lot together. I wouldn't trade a thing. He is incredibly loving, devoted, generous and kind. He isn't bad on the eyes either. :) I love you Tim! Here's to many more memories together.

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