Monday, October 21

The BEST Chicken Marinade EVER.

I flaunted my dinner on Instagram tonight before I even enjoyed it because it seriously is just. that. good.

Brian and I got a grill for our wedding and we have been enjoying it so much.  I baked the chicken tonight because it is Brian's late night at school, but I created this marinade for the grill.

Seriously, though, it doesn't matter.  It makes some seriously delicious baked chicken wings.

So, I started hunting around for some tips on grilling chicken because we were using the grill so much.  I found this article from Kayln's Kitchen, which is a great food blog that focuses on low-glycemic recipes for weight loss, healthy eating and blood sugar control.

She lays out some really easy steps you should always stick to when grilling chicken:

1.  Trim the chicken breasts.

Trim the fat and tendons from the breasts, as well as the underside (the tenders) so that you are left with a nice even piece of meat (yeah, baby.)

2.  Cut slits into the top of the breasts.

Cut slits cross-wise into the meat to allow the marinade to penetrate better, (being careful not to cut all the way through.)


More on this later.

4.  Allow the meat to marinate for several hours, (or longer!)

I like to try and get the chicken into the marinade in the morning and let it sit in the refrigerator all day while I am at work.  Of course, this only works if I have enough time in the morning and if I've already planned dinner...which is not often the case.  I usually do it while I am home for lunch.  OR, if I am using frozen chicken, I put the marinade in a plastic bag and just let the chicken thaw in it.  All good choices.

5.  Judge cooking time based on how the chicken looks and feels.

Brian is dead set on perfecting the "one-flip" grilling (or 2 if he's looking for a nice diamond grill pattern) but grill time is almost always different.  Don't ask me why, because I do not know the answer.    We usually just cut in and see how it looks...this is pretty easy with those slits on top, just peak in.

Ok, enough is enough.  The marinade.

Kayln suggests always using an oil + acid based marinade.  That's what I relied on while playing around with this marinade.  I have to say, I think I just got lucky.  Because I really wasn't sure how this was going to turn out.  But as you turned out pretty damn well.

So here it is:

2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 T Honey
1 T Bourbon
Juice of 1/2 Lemon or Lime
1/2 t Salt
1/2 t Pepper
1 Clove of Garlic, minced

And that is it, folks!

I usually sprinkle a little more kosher salt and fresh ground pepper (I use a blend with red pepper flakes in it for a little kick) on after I take the chicken out of the marinade.

This works for 2-4 chicken breasts or 5-10 wings.  Remember that it's only a marinade, most of the liquid is left behind, so don't be afraid to increase the amounts or play around with it.

And PLEASE let me know if you try it out, because I've used it 4 times in the past 2 weeks and I am just as excited every time I taste it.  I love it.

Anybody out there have any other marinades Brian and I should try out?  This weather is too beautiful to cook inside!  So, if you need us you know where to find us!

Until then, happy Monday everyone.

Sunday, October 6

Pumpkin Bread

There are few things I love more than the first weeks of fall.  Brian likes to tease me because he knows that soon I will be complaining about the cold weather and ready for Summer.  

It's true, I am a fickle Floridian.

But I can't help it.  After a long hot summer, there is nothing like those first cool, crisp mornings.

And, of course, it's pumpkin weather.  Ah, the pumpkin.  What's not to love, I ask you.  They are a well-rounded, vegetable.  (Yeah, I did.)

Pumpkin decorations, pumpkin baked goods, pumpkin coffees, pumpkin seeds, smashing pumpkins...

I know that Starbucks is pretty exclusively known for the PSL this time of year, (have you read this yet?) but I am here to tell you about the pumpkin bread.

Holy cow, the pumpkin bread.  It is a-mah-zing.  So delicious.  They really shouldn't call it bread.  It's cake.  It's pumpkin cake.  It's a-maz-ing, (it bears repeating.)

So, in honor of pumpkin-palooza, I took to Google in search of the perfect copycat Starbucks recipe.  Let me tell you, I was not the first person to have this idea, Google turned up 165,000 search results.

I settled on's version.  I was drawn to it because it used whole wheat flour as well as all-purpose, less sugar than most of the other recipes, and apple sauce to cut back on the vegetable oil.

So, here it is, my first attempt to take down the Starbucks Monopoly on Pumpkin Bread.
1 cup sugar & 1 cup brown sugar
That seems like a lot of sugar, doesn't it?  This recipe yields 2 loaves of pumpkin bread though, so stop freaking out, it's basically sugar-free.  
(Don't quote me on that.)

1/2 cup vegetable oil
Start out by beating the sugar and oil together until well-blended.  Next mix in your eggs, pumpkin and applesauce.  

3 large eggs
 I like to buy Vegetarian eggs, which Brian thinks is really funny.  But chickens should just not not be vegetarian.  So, once I knew they were out there, I really had no choice but to buy Vegetarian eggs.

1/2 cup applesauce

1 {15 oz.} can solid pack pumpkin
I learned recently that solid pack pumpkin is just plain 'ole pumpkin.  But I like this new, fancy name.

Once your eggs, applesauce and pumpkin are well-blended, sift together your dry ingredients in a large bowl.

1.5 cups all-purpose flour, 1.5 cups whole-
wheat flour, 8 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice,
1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt,
and 1/2 tsp baking powder
Confession:  I love sifting.

I subbed Pumpkin Pie Spice here for several other spices that the recipe called for.  Only because I would have had to buy more than 1 of the other spices, and Pumpkin Pie Spice already has everything in it.  Do what you gotta do, y'all.

Next, slowly add the dry ingredients into your wet ingredients.

Confession:  I love my Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer.  Hands down, my favorite wedding present, (thanks, Mom!)

So, your batter should be ready to go now.  Here's a fun trick I've learned from watching Giada:

Cut strips of parchment paper and pour the batter over the this:

Because then...

After 1 hour @ 350° you can do this:

Boom.  Seriously, things like this make your life so much easier that you stop and say, "that was awesome."  Just lift the loaf out of the pan after letting it cool for 5 minutes.

I baked the leftover batter in large muffin tins for 25 minutes @ 350°.

And there you have it!  I have to say...this is pretty delicious.

It's not exactly like the Starbucks version, (which I still think you should try,) but I do think you should try this, too.  It's awesome.  Try it with toasted with cream cheese.  Oh, man.

I love pumpkin season.

You can find the original recipe here.

Thursday, October 3

The Graceful Bride

Six months ago, I wrote this about how stressed out I was trying to pull off the wedding of my dreams.

That was the last time you heard from me.  So, first things first…

We pulled it off.

3 months ago, Brian and I were married on what was and is the happiest day of my life. 

What everyone said was true, it went by in the blink of an eye.  The only memories I have of it go by in a beautiful, hazy blur.

So, if I could give you one piece of advice about your wedding, it would be this:  it isn’t about the wedding.

As the year went on, the to-do list of every detail I’d ever imagined when I dreamt about my wedding slowly fell away and all that was left when I dreamt was the image of Brian standing at the end of that aisle.   In the final weeks before the big day, I remember telling several people, “just get me down the aisle to Brian.”  So love each other well, because at the end of the day, I promise you that’s all that really matters.  The clasp on my dress broke, my hair fell out, we were shiny with sweat in several pictures because it was so em-effing hot…and I could not have cared less.  A calm washed over me the day of my wedding and there wasn’t a single thing that could have stopped me from enjoying it every step of the way. 

So, if I could give you one piece of advice, it would be this: just trust that you’re going to get to that point, too. 

Something else that I learned this year was that the wedding may be about the bride and groom...but it isn’t necessarily for them.  People want to believe they’re in the presence of true love, {thanks, Wedding Crashers} and that is the truth.  When you are engaged, you’re making plans to celebrate the fact that you've found somebody that you love enough to spend every single day of the rest of your life with.  People want to be a part of that.  You’ll be asked 100 times about your plans.  You'll hear the words, "are you excited?!" every single day.  People you haven’t seen or heard from in years will suddenly want a little piece of you, of your happiness.  And if there is one thing that I wish I had learned would be to give away those pieces gracefully.  Because what I have is truly amazing.  I am beyond blessed by my love with Brian.  At first I felt protective of it, it is our day after all, not theirs…but I finally did find that grace. 

And if I were to give you one piece of advice, it would be this: know that there is a freedom that comes with that grace.

The moments that I remember most vividly from that day are the moments where I got to be alone with Brian.  Kneeling at the altar at the end of the ceremony, standing together waiting to be announced at the reception, whispering to each other during our first dance, and finally on the boat leaving the reception.  The funny thing about weddings is that you don't get to be alone together all that we cherished those moments.  Those moments where we got to say, "hey, we're married..."

So, if I could give you one piece of advice, it would be this: steal moments away with each other.  Find grace.  Love each other well.  Let go of the details.

Our wedding was and is the happiest day of my life.  I can't think of a single thing that could have made it any better.  And I can't wait to share it all with you.  There are so many people I have to thank.  So many stories I have to tell.  

But until then, I only want to thank my husband for three amazing months of marriage.  I love you.

Friday, March 15

Pay no Attention to the B**** Behind the Veil

The love of your life gets down on one knee and asks you to be his wife.

You get a big, beautiful, diamond ring and drink a lot of champagne.

You go around to all of your favorite stores and pick out things for people to buy you.

A lot of things.

Then there's the big, beautiful dress.

The veil.

The bridesmaids' dresses.

The reception site.

The flowers.

The cake.

The food.

The shoes.

The other shoes.

Making an appointment to taste the cake.

No, not this month.  Two months from now.

The band.

The song list.

The photographer.

The photo list.

The priest.

The other priest.

The counseling sessions with the priest.

No, not that priest, the other priest.

The guest list.

The other guest list.

The other guest list.

The engagement pictures.

The save the dates.

No, the save the dates don't come with envelopes.

The envelopes.

The stamps for the envelopes.

The addressing of the envelopes.

The finding of the addresses.

The bridesmaids gifts.

The host and hostess gifts.

The hotel welcome bags.

The guest book.

The wedding website.

The hotel contract.

The salon contract.

The invitations.

The flower girl dresses.

The flower girl petals.

The flower girl baskets.

I don't like baskets.

The blushing bride.

I've got news for you, she isn't blushing.  Her face is flushed because she's sleep-deprived, severely stressed, working out too much and not eating enough.

This week marks 8 months since Brian and I got engaged.

Don't let my rant fool you, they have been the best 8 months of my entire life.  Probably better than all of the best moments of my entire life combined.  Seriously.  8 really good months.

This isn't about not being grateful for how ridiculously blessed I am.  I am more in love than I ever thought I could be with the kindest, smartest, funniest, most patient and loving man that I have ever known.  My life is good.  My life is really good.

But if one more married woman tells me to stop stressing out and to enjoy every minute of "this time," I'm going to sock her in the nose with my big, beautiful, diamond ring.

Come on, ladies, you've been know what I am going through...give a sister a break.

I have been dreaming about this day since my dad's cousin, Diana, got married and she danced with me, twirling me around the dance floor.

I have hazy, camera flash memories of her full, white dress and long, beautiful veil.  I don't remember much but I do remember knowing right then that I wanted to be a bride.

And I have had a very specific vision of this day.  For the last 25 years.

Trust me.  I know that when it is all said and done and I have a husband I love and beautiful photographs of us framed in our house I'm probably going to see error of my ways.

And don't think I don't tell myself that every single day.  Don't think I don't tell myself how lucky I am and how trivial my stress is in the big scheme of things.  But don't think it helps, either.  Not yet.  Not now.

I am trying to fit 25 years of dreams into one day.

One day that a lot of other people have been dreaming about for 25 years, too.

So, when you see me running around town without makeup on, my hair a sweaty mess...don't just see the big, beautiful, diamond ring.  See the 25 years of dreams I'm trying to realize.  And then get out of my way.

I've got a big, beautiful, diamond ring and I'm not afraid to use it.

Monday, January 14

Not a Babysitter, Not a Nanny.

Many of you were followers of my first blogging venture, I'm Not a Babysitter, I'm a Nanny.

Many of you have also asked me in recent days where this blog has disappeared to.

It has been more than 3 months since my last post here.  Much longer than I intended to stay away...

But so much has changed in those 3 months, I'm not sure where to start.

I haven't seen Mia & Lucy or Capra & Ivy in weeks.  That's the biggest change.

I have a new job.  A real job.  My first.

It's a full-time, real, American, big-girl job.  In mortgage banking, no less.  I have a regular paycheck, health insurance, a 401k and I haven't changed a diaper in ages.

On an even more surprising note...I love it.

It hasn't been easy, though.  It was time & I knew that.  I broke the news to Jenn, Ashley, my boss & families at the church when I found out that I had been hired by my new company.  There were tears, hugs, smiles & "congratulations"...some more tears...

I didn't have a "last day" with Mia & Lucy.  I think Jenn & I both purposely avoided it.

But I kept them for a weekend not long before I started my new job while Jenn and JP went to a wedding out of town.  On the last night, Brian came & we took them to dinner and out for ice cream, which we'd done so many times together before.

As I was tucking Lucy into her bed that night, it suddenly hit me that that would be the last time I would put them to bed.  I stood stunned for a minute in the middle of her room as a flood of memories came to me.

I was already working for them when Lucy was born.  I spent many hours sitting in that room holding sweet Lucy, feeding or rocking & singing to her.  Tucking her in, kissing her goodnight.

I picked her up out of her bed then and hugged her for a long time...probably confusing the poor kid terribly.

Then I went back into Mia's room and hugged her for a long time, too.  I think she understood.  I told her how much I loved her and how much I was going to miss her and promised her that I would always be nearby.

Then I went downstairs and cried on Brian's shoulder for about an hour.

Like I said, it was time & I knew that.  But I wasn't as ready for it as I thought I was.

I was a part of Mia and Lucy's every day life for 4 years, well for Lucy's entire life...and now I'm not.

That's the hardest part.

In these last couple of months I've done so much thinking about this chapter in my life.

I did a quick count off the top of my head of the children I've taken care of over the years and I got to 40 almost without even trying.

All I've ever done is babysit.  Since I was 13 years old...

It's been such a huge part of my life and it's been such a blessing.  And such an honor.

But it's time to move on.  It's time to grow up.

I can't think of anything more fitting than for Mia and Lucy to walk down the aisle ahead of me as I marry Brian.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

To all of the families that have allowed me to be such an important part of your children's lives:  

I want to say thank you.  I will always feel blessed to have been entrusted with the care of your precious babies.  My life has been so rich because of the love your families have given me.

To Jenn and John Paul: 

Words cannot express the gratitude I feel toward you for the last 4 years.  You gave me the opportunity to make the very, very long and gradual transition from my childhood into adulthood.  I wouldn't be the person I am today if it wasn't for you, I will always be grateful to you, and I will always love you.

And to my Mia and Lucy:

I know it's hard for you to understand why you don't see me everyday anymore. It's hard for me to understand, too.  But I hope that you'll always remember our precious days together.  I hope you'll remember how much fun we had.  I hope you'll always know that it was such a special part of my life to watch you grow and learn.  I hope that I taught you as many lessons as you taught me.  I hope you know that I will never be very far away.  And I hope that you will always know, deep down in your hearts, that I love you very much.  And I always will.  

Monday, October 8

DIY Fall Wreath

Quick Update on what you've missed since I've been lazy:

Brian and I celebrated our first anniversary last Sunday.  {You can read about our first date here.}
It was such a sweet day, I can't wait to share it with all of you, but that's for another day.

My Maid of Honor came to town this weekend and we, {along with my mom and my sister and another bridesmaid,} went wedding dress shopping!

AND...I found my dress!

It was seriously so much better than I ever could have thought it would be.

More fun, more emotional & more productive.  But that's also for another day.

I don't know about y'all, but Fall is in full my heart.

Damn, Florida, it's HOT!

There are rumors about some cool weather coming, but I couldn't wait.

This Sunday, after everybody went back home and Brian and I had some down time, we decided we wanted to go and pick out our pumpkin.

As we ventured out, though...the fact that we were both in shorts and t-shirts and still sweating...we just couldn't do it.  So we put a pin in the pumpkin hunt and headed to our craft store to pick up some supplies to help set the's what happened next:

Love it!

I've been wanting to make a wreath for so long.  

I had fun with this one, instead of scouring Pinterest for ideas, etc. I just browsed the craft store a bit, {all Autumn things @ Michael's are 50% off this week!} and just threw this together.

It definitely got me in the mood for Fall, even if we had to crank up the A/C to achieve the affect.  

Just kidding.  Brian would never let me do that.  

But rumor has it it will be in the 60's tomorrow, so keep your fingers crossed!

Until then, Atticus is ready for Fall, too.

Friday, September 21

"Canvas Prints" for a Fraction of the Cost!

Happy iPhone 5 Day, everybody!

Yes, Brian and I were 2 of the lucky millions to receive their brand-spanking-new iPhones today.

No, we were not 2 of the crazy millions waiting in line at the stores...but, Brian was 1 of the sleepy millions who woke up at 3 am last week to pre-order.

I feel very lucky, I never had an iPhone 4, that's not to say that I wasn't lucky to have my iPhone 3GS, but this is a pretty nice upgrade for me.

{Not to mention the fact that my phone was powering down randomly several times a day.  Boo.}

But, I digress.

I made a really cute, really easy photo project for our kitchen this afternoon!

You might have already seen it on Facebook:

I mentioned in my Happy Birthday, Atticus! post that I was obsessed with those pictures of her and that I'd love to see them framed in our kitchen.  Well, they are now framed in our kitchen.

And I am obsessed.

So, I started to think that the color was so great in the photographs that a borderless print might be cool. Something like a canvas print.

Well, I don't know if you've ever had canvas prints made, but they can get pretty expensive rather quickly.

So, I actually was able to achieve this look {& I think it looks pretty darn good} for...

under $10!

That's right, I said $10.

I printed these pictures at home and then put them in basic acrylic photo boxes from Michael's for under $3 each!

Let me say it again, I LOVE them!

This is what we had there before:

which I love.  It's actually an original water color done by the daughter of a well-known local artist.  

She went to high school with my mom and painted it for her.

I think the dark frame just doesn't do anything to lighten up things in there, {with the dark cabinets, too.}

So, I thought these prints would be a great way to lighten things up and add some color.  Especially since we can't paint these lovely beige walls.  {Boo, renting.}

So I'm pretty excited about them!  What do you think?

I love the color, I love the "canvas-y" look & I love that I didn't spend more than $10 on this project.

{and I LOVE that dog.}

I hope you that you all have an awesome weekend. 

Until then, don't do anything I wouldn't do.