Saturday, January 31, 2015

Pizza Grilled Cheese and Bang Bang Chicken

Recipe #225 - Pizza Grilled Cheese from Honestly, I didn't actually visit the website for this one or follow any recipe, but instead used the idea and ran with it. I made grilled cheese with mozzarella and pepperoni, and we dipped them in pizza sauce. It was a quick and easy meal that was delicious!!

Recipe #226: Bang Bang Chicken from this was very very good, especially the sauce! I had never actually used Panko before, I always just roll my eyes and use breadcrumbs, thinking it's the same thing. Lucky for me, Trader Joes actually carries Panko, and it was very good! A lot crunchier than breadcrumbs, and reminded me a lot of bento box chicken. The only problem was making the chicken in batches because A. I ate half the chicken before I finished by picking it off the finished plate and B. Half of it was cold when I actually did serve it. Yummy though!!

Our Wedding

So, here it is. The epic post. Everything I worked on for 2 years, and planned for years before that (thanks to pinterest) finally came together in what I ended up thinking of as my masterpiece. Our wedding.

There were so many little things in the wedding that I had so much fun doing, and the whole planning and creating process was indescribable. When the day finally arrived and I got to see it all come together, it was like watching my wedding baby being born, and I was filled with pride and amazement.

I want to share with you all the details of our wedding and unveil even the best secrets I had kept hidden for two years.

Engagement announcement:

I posted previously about our engagement announcement, but I figured I would share again to get it all in.

To read about our Engagement party visit this post.

Bridesmaid Boxes:

To ask each of my girls to be bridesmaids, I made them a little box with goodies in it, with pictures of us mod-podged on the outside and a letter written inside the lid.


Save the Dates:

I also already posted about our Save the Dates back in this post in March.  I made them using our engagement pictures (shout out to Sterling Photography International!), a little bit of photoshop (MGI PhotoSuite), Microsoft Paint and Microsoft Word (yes, I use the basic programs of my computer, and I've pretty much mastered them). I then printed out the layout on cardstock at Office Max (MUCH better prices than anywhere else) and cut them out into travel tag shapes with the Cricut.

I then put them in these amazing envelopes that I customized with another engagement picture on the inside flap.


And addressed them all fun-fancy-like.

The dress:
My dress was made by Morilee. It was a big poofy ball gown that you just couldn't avoid saying looked like a princess.  The sweetheart bodice had intricate beading, and the bottom had lace accents over the soft tulle.  It was all topped off with a gorgeous beaded belt. Hey, I'm not planning on becoming royalty anytime soon, nor do I see any galas or balls in my future, so I figured this was my one chance to wear a gorgeous ball gown. And I don't regret it one bit.


Plus, I got to hold up the big poofy skirt while I was dancing, which got rid of those awkward dancing hands. It was amazing. 

The shoes:

The shoes were from a line by Betsey Johnson called 'Something Blue'. The bottoms of the shoes in the line are all blue to be your 'something blue'.  They were gaudy and sparkly and the perfect Cinderella shoes for my dress.  Plus, the nearly 6 inch heels brought me a little closer to my 6'4" husband so my neck didn't hurt quite as much on that first kiss. Yes, they were a bit much, but they were hidden by my gown. Many people didn't even see them until the garter removal!  Unbelievably, they stayed on almost all night (I think I took them off for only the last hour), and they didn't hurt a bit!

The flowers:
I wrote all about my brooch bouquet back in February, but I was still unsure whether I wanted to use it for my actual bouquet. I just felt that since I made it, I would always see the flaws in it, no matter what. I mentioned this to my florist, and brought it out to show her. After commenting on how it was one of the better ones she had seen a bride make (ha!) she said that if I wasn't sure she could always make me a bouquet that has a few brooches in it, and I could use the one I made for pictures and decoration.
Perfect solution!
So, my brooch bouquet sat out on our table for the reception (it never made it out for pictures... pictures were a little hectic) and will forever be a staple in our house, and my real bouquet was a gorgeous mix of flowers and bling.

Bridesmaid Dresses:

The bridesmaid dresses were also made by Morilee. They were long and pink with a ruffled bodice and a little bit of bling.

I presented each dress to the girls with a customized hanger made using vinyl (cricut) and a ribbon.  I wrote about that in this post back in May. The only problem was the nice wood hangers I got didn't have a slot for the hanging strap, so I had to secure them with little hair rubber bands to get them to stay.


One of the biggest jobs was getting together gifts for everyone for the wedding. At times it felt like we were giving more gifts than we were receiving! But we were so thankful for so many people and wanted to make sure they knew we appreciated them.

For the wedding party, I etched all these shot glasses with our new monogram, the wedding date, and their names. This was a pain in the ass (if you've ever etched, you know that the two worst enemies are curved survaces and small print) but they were cute.  I wrote about them more in this post in May.

For the bridesmaids, I got all my girls a few little survival kit things, like makeup remover wipes, moleskin for their feet, hand sanitizer (in Paris scent of course), lipgloss, etc.
I also included little baggies with necklaces for each of them to wear during the ceremony. I made each of the necklaces, and each one has a different charm that represents my friendship with that girl.  For example, my maid of honor got a globe on her necklace because we enjoy travelling the world together. My friend Kelly had a cup of tea because we love going to tea. My friend Rachel had a dress on hers because she has always been there for all my dresses (prom, homecoming, dance recitals, etc) throughout my life, and now she's here to see me in my wedding dress.  I put a note in with each of the necklaces describing my memory with that friend and why I chose that charm.  I looked and looked for really nice-looking charms, but the only ones I could find weren't the fanciest. I got some little silver beads that I put on either side to make it a little fancier, but in the end I was just happy that the girls could be wearing something really meaningful instead of the fanciest thing in the world.

I also included little bottles of champagne that I glittered by using glitter spray-paint. I also used a few regular glitter bottles for prizes for the reception.

The big bridesmaid gift was the jerseys I had them made awhile ago... they all wore them for the rehearsal and getting ready and they looked adorable!

I also gave each bridesmaid a copy of this timeline I made, as well as a pocket copy for the weekend to keep everyone on schedule.

For the groomsmen, hubby and I bought them all pink pocket squares and pink argyle socks (this was quite the hunt - I ended up finding the perfect ones on clearance at Express). He also bought them all customized bullet bottle-openers (the most manliest thing he could think of?), and cigars.

I made each bridesmaid/groomsman a gift bag that matched their dress and tux. I had a lot of fun with this, too, and it was really easy (just brown paper bags and some cardstock).  Hubby rolled his eyes at the idea first, but after I did it anyways, he looked at the tux bags and said he loved them, but they were missing their pink pocket squares! He then cut little pieces of pink cardstock from the dress paper and glued a pocket square on each tux bag. Perfection.
For our flower girl, I had an original idea (SHOCKER) of getting her an American Girl doll in a dress that matched her flower girl dress.  Well, I'm not sure if you know this, but American Girl dolls are EXPENSIVE. Like, more than I even thought. Like, I thought an expensive doll was like $50 and I was willing to spend that. Then I looked it up, and had to think of a plan B.
Luckily, I was perusing the aisles of Michael's (a common hobby of mine) and came across Michael's own version of 'build your own dolls' and they had a little red-head just like our flower girl! And she was only $15 or so! SCORE! So I picked up the doll, picked up some shoes, and went to sewing together a dress to make a mini-Emmie.

I decided not to give Emmie her gift at the rehearsal dinner with everyone else (which she was far from happy about... I told her it was so big it wouldn't fit in the car), and instead gave it to her the morning of the wedding. My evil plan behind this was that I wouldn't give it to her until she was all dressed up in her matching dress so that we could get cute pictures with the flower girl and her doll, instead of her getting bored of it the night of the rehearsal dinner and forgetting it on the wedding day.
I did a lot of crazy things for a picture.

Anyways, it worked out perfectly, she carried the doll around all night, and her mom later asked me if it was an American Girl doll because that was on her christmas list. YESSS!

For our out-of-town guests, I made adorable hotel bags and my mom helped me stuff them with yellow stuff to make 'A Bag of Sunshine'.  To make the bags, I bought the plain black bags from Oriental Trading and used iron-on vinyl and the cricut to add Florida and our names. This was also quite a project. Just in case someone out there tries to do the same thing... You can iron on this kind of bag (the kind re-usable grocery bags are made out of), but DON'T put the iron on cotton setting... put it on the lowest setting possible... and even then don't let the iron sit in one spot for more than a few seconds. Lesson learned (the hard way).

Inside, I included a hand-drawn map of stuff to do around Orlando, as well as a welcome note with wedding details and phone numbers for emergencies.  My mom put together all the yellow sunshine stuff, including 'sun'glasses, bubbles, goldfish, candies, sunflower seeds, etc.

For our officiant, I got a frame and used vinyl (cricut) to put the message "To our officiant and friend, thank you for being the one who united us on this day. You'll always mean the world to us, and we are forever grateful."  Since we didn't yet have a wedding picture with him, I drew one.

The ceremony:

When the guests walked into our venue, they were greeted right away by our greeter (our friend Clarissa) who was taking care of our first 'guest book'.  For this one, we got a large grate from Hobby Lobby and stapled chicken-wire to the back (thanks to Susie!).  We then had everyone sign a little lock with paint pens, lock it on the wire, and put their key in a shadowbox.  This was a nod to the Love Lock Bridge in Paris, where we locked our engraved padlock and threw the key into the Seine the weekend we got engaged.

Our ceremony was performed by our good family friend, who offered to get ordained in order to do the ceremony, but ended up becoming an Elder in the church and being able to do it anyways. I wrote a ceremony rough draft, including readings and quotes that I liked, and allowed him to to put his own pieces in.  Because neither of us had ever done a wedding before, I did a ton of research and followed different formats online to write the ceremony, and I think it turned out wonderful!

The immediate family's seats were saved by these fun signs I made using the Cricut - I wrote about them back in this post in May.

The groomsmen met the bridesmaids at the beginning of the aisle and presented them with their bouquets before escorting them down the aisle.

I made our programs in Microsoft Publisher using one of our engagement pictures. It was kind of like a storybook style and had 'Once Upon a Time...' on the front, then on the back it said 'Now at last they were beginning chapter one of the Great Story which no one on Earth has read; which goes on for ever; in which every chapter is better than the one before." -C.S. Lewis
On the inside, I had the order of ceremony, and explanation of the ring-warming, confetti cones, and sparkler send-off, the wedding participants, and a thank-you to the guests.

I made a program box out of a shoe box and some cardstock (hubby tried to make me throw away my stash of paper when we moved, saying it was more expensive to move across the country than just to replace. HA! I showed him!), as well as a ribbon and cloth flower I had laying around.

The parents passed out the programs as they greeted guests to the ceremony.

At the beginning of the ceremony, we did a ring-warming ceremony by passing around our rings on a ring pillow and allowing all the guests to 'warm' them by praying on them, blessing them, or just rubbing them for luck and wishes for a long and lasting marriage. I read about this ceremony online somewhere, and I absolutely fell in love with it because I loved the idea of all our loved ones being a part of the ceremony and putting their love into our rings.  I just felt that these were the people who were there for us our whole lives, and I wanted them to carry that love into our marriage, too.

This ring-warming ceremony really worried me (and hubby... he REALLY didn't want to do it because he just couldn't see how it would work out), simply because we had so many guests (143), it would take awhile, we had to have the rings by the time we exchanged them, and we didn't want our rings getting lost, stolen, or dropped.
So, our solution:
Hubby got two of his friends to be ushers, and besides helping seat guests when they arrived, they also were in charge of watching the rings as they were passed along, facilitating getting them between aisles, making sure people didn't do anything sketchy or take too long blessing, and making sure they made it to the front by the time we did the ring exchange. Luckily for us, we had one particular amazing usher who took his job extremely seriously and made sure everything went perfectly. Unfortunately, they didn't make it all the way around (about 3/4), but everything else was great.
In order to make sure the rings didn't get lost in transition, my mom's friend Susie made a gorgeous ring pillow that we tied them to so that it was larger and harder to loose or drop.

Confetti Cones:
Can I just tell you about our confetti cones. Just talking about them makes me want to cry.  I wrote about these back in March after my amazing roommate spent nights and nights sitting on the living room floor with me punching out hearts from scrapbook paper to fill the cones.  My original idea was to use glitter, but that idea was nixed by the hubby (he hates the stuff, no idea why), and that's when this amazing girl suggested we use glittery scrapbook paper.

So, I made cones out of french sheet music (the harpist for our ceremony noticed and commented on this... that made me so excited!), and we filled them with the punched out hearts, sealed them, and I put a nice little note on them. My mind filled with visions of us coming back down the aisle after our first kiss through a flurry of glittery hearts, making beautiful pictures and even more beautiful memories.
When the time came, and we walked back down the aisle (after a clarification from the officiant that they were to throw the confetti not the cones), all of our friends and family participated in making my vision come true, and I couldn't keep my smile off my face with how perfect it was.  The only unexpected side note was that I ended up having a lot of confetti go down my dress... oops!
Even the pictures we got from friends on their cell phones looked like gorgeous magazine pictures.

Excuse me while I go sob in happiness.

Cocktail Hour:

During cocktail hour, the guests had access to the bar, which had a few beers, a few wines, and a signature beverage. For the signature beverage, I found a recipe for a sweet mixed drink called 'Vie en Rose' (which means 'Life in Pink' in French... perfect!). It had cherry brandy, sprite, lemon juice, and gin. We had fun trying to perfect this recipe before serving it up.

I made sure to put out cute bar signs with the drinks listed (chalkboards found at hobby lobby).

Also during cocktail hour we put out a seating chart to let people know what table they were sitting at (their place cards were already waiting at their seats).  I did this seating chart on luggage tag shapes (one per table), glued to a vintage map of Paris.   I found the vintage map as a picture online fro free, and had it printed as an engineering print at Staples. This was really cheap (like $5?  I don't remember) and turned out great! Staples actually called me and tried to talk me out of it, telling me that engineering prints were more for blueprints and my image wouldn't turn out (and I should instead upgrade to a $60 print), but I told them to go ahead with the cheap one anyways and I'm glad I did!

At the top of the seating chart it said 'Where in the World are you Sitting?'

Finally, I set up a Bingo game (that included a prize at the end of the night) that had people talking to each other. The goal was for the guests to go around and find someone that fits into each category, including Find someone... "who has changed Amy or Logan's diaper", "who went to school with the bride", "who is a member of the maid of honor's family" "who lives in another country".


Table Numbers:
I made the table numbers by putting silver sequin scrapbook paper (I was ecstatic to learn this exists) in black 4x6 frames from the dollar store, then using my cricut and vinyl to cut out pink numbers and the word written in French.  I wrote more about these back in March. I had estimated 11 tables and made 14 numbers just in case, and we ended up having exactly 14 tables! Whew!

Guest favors:
For the guest favors, I made these altoid tin suitcases that I wrote about back in March.  These took FOREVER to make, but they were pretty fun and I had lots of help! I used the cricut to cut out the paper (that poor over-worked cricut), and ended up buying tins online instead of eating tons of altoids. My mom filled them with candy (pink tic tacs in some, hershey kisses in others) and we put a sticker on the inside that said 'We know you could be anywhere in the world tonight, thank you for choosing to be here with us. Love, Amy and Logan'.

Madame and Monsieur chair signs:
I made and wrote about these signs back in March , but unfortunately they never made it to our chairs. I wasn't clear about what I wanted to use them for, and they were hung on the bathroom doors. Still adorable!!

Card box:
I wrote about this card box back in March, too (that was a busy wedding post). I used a 'vintage' suitcase (from Michael's) and the handy ol' cricut to put together the box for our cards.

Place cards:
The place cards were one of my favorite parts of the whole wedding... dare I say my absolute favorite (besides marrying my best friend... and close in front of the confetti wonderland).
For everyone's place cards, I took on the daunting task of making them a card with not only their names, but a picture of us with them throughout our lives.  This was another way to really let people know how much they meant to us in our lives (which is why they were there celebrating us) and to thank them for always being there for us, and for being there for us on that day. This was a really fun project, through it required a lot of organization and help from family. My favorite pictures were the old ones with aunts, uncles, and cousins from when we were babies.
Of course, there were some guests who didn't have pictures, either because we had never met them (guests of guests), or we had just never taken one, or we couldn't find them. For those guests, we just put one of our engagement pictures on there and let them know we had to make sure we took a picture by the end of the night!
I haven't yet gotten the professional pictures back, but I can't wait to see people's reactions to their place cards when they got to their tables... I made sure to ask the photographer specifically to get some! This is definitely the thing most people commented on! *Update* See Professional pictures of reactions included below! Loved it!

Guest book:
Besides the love lock guest book (which was really more of a sign-in), I wanted to make sure we had a message guest book for people to write us notes.  For this book, I ordered a picture book from a picture book company (not shutterfly, but similar) with all the pictures that guests had on their place cards.  This was fun for me because I wanted to make sure we had a copy of all those pictures that we loved so much and spent so long collecting.  It was kind of a yearbook-style book, with a few pictures on each page and spaces for signing. I included a little note on a bookmark in the book that was passed around giving the guests directions (find the picture that is on your place card and write a love note for us), and I also added sticky notes to show where the last names started (I put the pictures in alphabetical order by last name to make them easier to find). I thought this was also a really fun way for people to see our collection of pictures from our past and of all our friends and family!

The front of the book was black and white demask with the words 'Be Our Guest' on it (a secret nod towards Disney), and the back had one of our pictures from our engagement in Paris.

Our Cake:

Our cake was absolutely breathtaking (It's Tasty Too, Orlando Area). I showed our cake lady pictures of cakes I liked on pinterest, and she left us to try out the flavors while she went to the back to draw up a sketch. When she returned, she literally presented with the wedding cake of my dreams, and worked with me on what textures and additions I wanted.

The real cake was just as gorgeous as the drawing and sat right in the center of the stage for the wedding. We had two flavors to choose from - Almond with vanilla buttercream filling and frosting (our favorite), and Peanut butter with chocolate ganashe filling and buttercream frosting.  The topper is from Hobby Lobby.


Our centerpieces and all our florals were from Atmospheres Floral and Design. She also worked with me and looked at my inspiration pictures to create these gorgeous conversation-friendly silver manzanita branch (they were actually rubber and false manzanita, but even more gorgeous) with jewels and glass-blown balls hanging from them, with open roses in the class. Breathtaking.

Here is the ballroom before the reception started... Our dog Lily made it to the wedding after all! (Her picture kept coming up on our slideshow).

Another one of my favorite parts of the wedding was our wedding app, Appy Couple (on google store and itunes).  Instead of a traditional website, I put together an Appy Couple account, which included an app and a website.  My favorite part about this was that it had a feature that people could take pictures in the app and they would be streamed immediately to the app's album, available for viewing and download by everyone.  Thanks to my wonderful daddy and the tech guy at the venue, we were able to set up the app's album to stream on projectors in the ballroom during the reception, so as soon as someone took a picture it appeared up on the screen.
On every table, I included 'I Spy' sheets to request people to take pictures of certain things, and I turned it into a competition by giving two prizes at the end of the night to the people who posted the most pictures.

This was my way of making sure I got a copy of everyone's pictures from another viewpoint, and it also got people taking more pictures. Adios disposable cameras!!

After the wedding, I uploaded everyone's pictures from Facebook, etc there too so they were all in one place.

There were a few downsides to this app...
1. The older generation and tech un-savvy people had a really hard time figuring it out
2. It was hard to access - you needed a code every time
3. Once a picture was posted I couldn't delete it unless I was on my computer (which meant that if anyone posted an inappropriate picture during the wedding I wouldn't be able to take it down... luckily this didn't happen).
4. It was extremely hard to get it hooked up to the projector (We had to have the app streaming on an iPad, which was streaming via WiFi to an AppleTV, which was plugged in to the projector using an HDMI-AVG (AVI?) adaptor cord), and there was a lot of trouble-shooting throughout the night (thanks to tech-guy, daddy, and a tech-savvy guest), and eventually we just cut the streaming.

Children's Activities:

I made sure to give each child a coloring book for the ceremony (free download from LovelyIndeed), and for the reception each child got a French Cityscape from MadeByJoel to cut, color, and play with!

I can't forget to leave you with pictures of our venue, Lake Mary Events Center in Lake Mary, Florida!

The ballroom (not set up for wedding)

Entry hall and rotunda at the far end (our ceremony was held in the rotunda)

Back patio, where we had cocktail hour:

The view from the patio, rotunda, and ballroom: Crystal Lake

Back yard:

Outside view of rotunda:

Outside panoramic: