Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.


Brandi's Bridal Shower

My oldest friend is getting married in less than two weeks. About a month ago her Mom hosted her bridal shower with the help of the bridesmaids, myself included. It just happened that it was the same day as the Ironman and located in Oldham County on part of their bike path. Lucky for us, the traffic wasn't too awfully bad and the weather was perfect. I was put in charge of the food and many people have asked for the recipes so I thought I would share them. Here are a few pictures from the day...

Brandi's Mom made a poster with some pictures of her and her fiance over the years.

  One of my favorite things for a bridal shower is to ask attendants to bring a favorite recipe, or two, to share with the bride. My maid of honor did this at my shower and I still use it all the time. Brandi got a number of amazing recipes and her Mom made the box for them to go in.

The bride enjoying a mimosa.

 Brandi opening gifts. She got this awesome chips and salsa bowl.

  Brandi with her future sister and mother-in-law

 Brandi and her parents

The bridesmaid with the bride. 

The food

Brandi is a pescetarian (vegetarian who eats fish) so I focused mainly on meatless dishes. I made chicken and tuna salad sandwiches, spinach/artichoke dip, pasta salad and cucumber canapes. I wish I could say the recipes were all original, but I'm no chef. These are just some yummy dishes I've had over the years from other people and gotten the recipes. All three are amazing and are always big hits at any gathering.

Cucumber Canapes...
1 pkg of good seasonings Italian dressing
3/4 cup of mayo
1 pkg cream cheese
french bread
2 cucumbers

You can't tell from the picture, but when I make these I use pillsbury french loaf dough and bake the bread in pampered chef bread tubes. This bakes the bread into shapes, but unfortunately these bread tubes have long been retired by pampered chef and the only way to find them is used online. Bread tubes are not necessary and any type of bread/baguettes can be used. I prefer french bread. Just mix the dressing, mayo, and cream cheese together. Spread it over the sliced bread and top with a slice of cucumber.

Spinach Artichoke Dip
1 cup mayo
1 can artichoke hearts-diced
1 pkg frozen cream of spinach-thawed
3 cups parmesan cheese

Warm up cream of spinach in microwave, mix together remaining ingredients. Spread into baking dish and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Yes, it's that easy and most importantly it's delicious!

Pasta Salad
1 lb angel hair pasta
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp. lowry's seasoning salt
1 1/2 tbsp. accent
1 green bell pepper-finely chopped
1 small can black olives
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup mayo

Cook pasta as directed and rinse in cold water. In a large bowl add olive oil, lemon juice, seasoning salt, and accent. Mix with pasta by using a fork to pull it through. Let chill for 24 hours. Afterwards, add mayo, olives, onion, pepper and mix again.

As wonderful as the food was, it was even better just to see Brandi surrounded by family and friends. She is definitely someone I know I will be in contact with throughout life regardless of where life takes us. We've had a lot of great times over the last twenty or so years and I'm super excited to help her celebrate this weekend with her bachelorette party and be a part of her wedding next weekend. Let the wedding celebrations begin!


Birthday All Day Celebration

My most adorable friend celebrated a big milestone birthday this year while her husband just happened to be out of town on a birthday trip of his own. Originally, we had wanted to have a girls weekend in Nashville, but the timing just didn't work out for me. So instead, we opted for fun day in Kentucky which included a tour at the Jim Bean distillery, dinner at one of Louisville's finest restaurants, and a show at a comedy club. 
Mary, the birthday girl, discovered a love for Bourbon earlier this year and so we thought a trip to the distillery, something none of us had ever done, would be a lot of fun.  Kentucky has a bourbon trail which creates a path for you to visit eight of the largest distilleries in Kentucky, but they are spread all over and it takes an entire weekend to visit them all. Instead, we narrowed it down to a few of the closer distilleries and after finding out that the Makers Mark distillery isn't in production in August, we settled on Jim Beam.

The Three Amigos

We had a little time before our tour started so we decided to do the tasting first. With each tour you get to sample two different Jim Beam bourbons. Knowing nothing about bourbon, I was surprised by just how many flavors they had. 

Mary at one of the dispensing stations. 
They give you a card with two credits and when you get decide which flavor you'd like to sample, you insert your card then press the screen above the flavor you would like to try. It's pretty neat...and stingy.

I started out with a honey tea flavored bourbon which was actually drinkable but I wouldn't go as far as saying it was good. I'll stick to wine, thanks. One of the attendants came by before we had picked our second selection and taught us the proper was to taste bourbon. He claimed that if you "chew" it in your mouth that the alcohol will dissipate, the flavor would come out, and there wouldn't be a burning sensation down your throat when swallowed.  After receiving this advice, I decided to step it up from the 80 proof first sampled, to the 100 proof with fruit flavor. How can you go wrong with fruit? Well, I don't know what that guy was talking about, but "chewing" it only made it that much harder to actually drink and once I took one little sip of the 100 proof I was done with tasting for fearing of throwing up in front of everyone. I tried to give Mary the remaining sample, but even she agreed it was too much. I will say that the Red Stag line with honey tea and apple cider bourbons were the best and I can see how some people could actually have a taste for it.

Birthday girl enjoying some bourbon
After the tasting we joined a group for a tour of the distillery during production. I don't recall ever being at a production plant and it was quite interesting to see it up close first hand. The building where we started our tour was built the day after prohibition ended. Go figure! I think the most interesting thing I learned is that bourbon is actually clear when first made. What gives it the amber coloring is the charring on the inside of the barrel that it is aged in. Who knew?

Mary verifying that it was bourbon going into the barrel
During the tour we had a chance to be a part of the production process and make help to make a bottle of our very own bourbon. Our bourbon queen took part. She got to start by sterilizing the bottle guessed it, bourbon. After all, what is better for killing off germs than alcohol? Mary then tagged it and put on the line to for it to get filled, labeled, and capped.

Mary's bottle going down the line in first.
Afterwards, we moved to the main production line and watched as hundreds of bottles per minute were sterilized, filled, capped, and labeled. It was a pretty amazing process to see. Once the tour was over we headed to Mary's house to get changed and ready for dinner. 

Mary's favorite restaurant is Eddie Merlot's and it did not disappoint. Mary had told us that they had the best strawberry mijotos so we started out dinner with some and a delicious sweet and spicy shrimp appitizer. For dinner each of us ordered a steak, my filet was amazing! The sides come family style so we shared lobster mac and cheese, tempura green beans, and roasted garlic mashed potatoes. Mary and I also split a bottle of Riesling. Yes, it was practically glutenous the amount of food and drinks we consumed, but it was amazing! Every.Single. Bite. I think the lobster mac and cheese was my absolute favorite. I'm practically drooling right now as I think about it. The food was fantastic, the atmosphere was wonderful, service was great, and the company was perfect!

Our table was next to the wine cellar
We must have mentioned at some point that it was Mary's birthday because they brought her a red velvet cupcake, which, of course, was amazing as well. Although I think she was actually more excited about her gourmet coffee complete with fresh cream and chocolate shavings. I'd take the cupcake over the coffee any day, but what do I know?

After dinner we enjoyed a show at Comedy Caravan followed by a drink at a nearby bar. Typing about the day it sounds like an alcohol induced marathon, but it wasn't that way at all. I know it wasn't my birthday, but it could have been. And even though the day was supposed to be about Mary, I know that Marty and I enjoyed every bit of it just as much as her. I could hang out with these two 24/7 for a year and never grow tired of them. Friends are a true treasure in life and I sat at dinner with these two girls, knowing it was one of my last day's in Louisville, my heart was full of love and happiness knowing how blessed I am to have these two by my side. Stay tuned for the Nashville girls weekend this group's adventures are just beginning.


What's Going On?

I can't believe it's been over a month since my last post. I was doing so well blogging on a regular basis, but then my world got crazy and it's taken a backseat. Hopefully, now that things are starting to get settled, I can resume. I have so much to talk about and so many things I want to share. Now that we live in a different city I know our family will enjoy keeping up with our day to day lives and so I feel a real obligation to keep it up.

So what's been going on? Where do I start? In my last post, Adam was getting ready to start his new job. He's been working there for almost a month now and is really liking it. On top of that, he has already gotten a promotion and is now a senior associate! I had my last day at UPS on the 29th and thought it would be the happiest day of my life. I was shocked at how reminiscent I was. Even a little sad. When I left I shed exactly one tear, started my car and drove away for the last time. I shared on Facebook my final thoughts and wanted to put them on here as well to just to have it. It ended up being a bittersweet day... 

Walking out of UPS for the last time, I thought it would be one of the happiest days of my life, but the truth is that it’s a little emotional to leave a place that gave me so much. 3,417 days ago, I started on nights so I could be on the same shift as my new boyfriend. I would have never imagined that almost ten years later I would still be working here. If it were not for UPS, I wouldn’t have met my two best friends and my brother wouldn’t be married to the woman he’s with now. I wouldn’t have learned that speaking in front of people is easy cakes and that the work is secondary to the attitude. I have had to deal with co-workers and customers that have pushed me to my limits, but from that I have learned that happiness is a choice we make every day and no one can affect mine, except me. I’ve learned that hard work and integrity will get your far, but more importantly it will gain you respect. In my darkest hours it was my co-workers who pulled together and brought food to my family at the hospital and touched us in the deepest of ways. In my brightest hours they shared in the most important and happiest day of my life and their goofy pictures from our photobooth I will forever cherish. Had we not had the opportunity to move, I probably would have never left UPS. I like to think over time I could have made a difference and at least tried to change the things I didn’t like. I’m ready to move on and excited for the new opportunities that lay ahead, but I am also grateful for everything that I have learned and everyone I have met over the years. I know in the end that the highs and lows, the stress and the fun, have helped to shape me into the person I am today and because of that I will close this chapter of life with appreciation and happiness.

Any sadness though was short lived because the next was a birthday celebration with my two favorite ladies. A day later Mom, Landon and I boarded a plane for Daytona Beach Florida where we spent a week on the beach doing NOTHING! While the trip had been planned for awhile, the timing ended up being perfect and bad at the same time. I really could have used the week in between jobs to get our house packed and get ready to move, but I needed (and enjoyed!) a full week of relaxing and hanging out. We left Daytona Beach at 7 AM on Sunday morning, had a short layover in Atlanta, and arrived back in Louisville around noon. My Mom went with us to our place, we loaded the car with essentials for a week and drove straight to Nashville and our new home. Meanwhile, Adam was flying out of Nashville to go Chicago for work for a few days. It was a little crazy and not at all ideal, but luckily I had my Mom with me so on Monday I went to my new job and she stayed with Landon so my plate wasn't too full on the first day. On Tuesday I took Landon to his new daycare and since then we've started the process of adapting to our new routine. 

We lived the first week with our bed on the floor, only Landon's crib in his room, and an air mattress next to the computer so we could watch movies. This past weekend we spent all day Saturday moving and spent Sunday with friends and family at an amazing going away party with family and friends. I feel like this blog is a virtual diary of sorts and I want to be sure and backtrack and post about some of the events of the past month. While moving has been a big deal, there have been so many other great things going on such as my close friend's bridal shower, Mary's birthday celebration, our trip to Daytona, and our going away party. Life is good!

Speaking of in Nashville is fun and exhausting. It's not easy being in a new place, having to work full-time, juggle family, try to get settled, and do everything else. But, a new city with tons of new experiences is also very exciting and alluring. I've worked a full week at my new job and I really like it. The atmosphere is completely different from what I am used to, almost to the point of where it's somewhat uncomfortable at times. It is definitely an area and company that is growing at a very fast rate and I hope to become an integral part of it. Despite the stress, Adam and I are both excited about what the future holds for us. We feel like the move was a great step for each of us and are looking forward to going far here. Like I said, I have so many thoughts, events, and things I want to share and log, but for now at least I've written a little update which is better than I have done for awhile now.