Wednesday, February 10, 2016

First Fire...

post signature...after the fire! 
I guess we have money to burn because literally, it went up in smoke!!

Remember this post from New Year's Day? Well it's been since then that we've been without our wood burning fireplace. Turns out there was a lot of damage. $6,000 worth! I also found out that our insurance is so good that they even pay for stupidity!! We were completely honest (you know my philosophy about not wanting to profit from the insurance company---never want to jinx us). Still we had to pay our $2500 deductible, but they covered the rest. The brickwork was cracked all up and down---and we have a very tall chimney. Ashbusters had to build some sort of frame that was lowered inside the chimney from the roof. Then some sort of liquid had to be poured---I don't know, I guess we now have a ceramic chimney. 

I learned my lesson. Even if the branches from the Christmas tree are really little, I won't be burning them!

I missed this and am glad to be able to enjoy it again. Thank goodness we have gas logs in the other fireplaces, but it's not quite the same.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Common Sense

So, my curling iron went kaput. I got myself a new one. It came with these tags.
 Really? Of course it could burn your eyes---if you put it in your eyes! What???
What ever happened to common sense that there has to be warnings about the most ridiculous things. It reminds me of the warning that came with my iron: "Do not attempt to iron while wearing the clothes. " Or something like that. 

I know it has to do with lawsuits, but really? Common sense.
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Monday, February 8, 2016

The bridal bouquet is starting to wilt a little, but still looking good. I'm trying to air dry it---we'll see. 

Stephanie and Nicky had a Super Bowl party yesterday. I made the old 1970's recipe---artichoke dip. A few at the party (of course they are young people) had never had it, so I decided to share it here. It's so easy. Also, I'm sharing a new meatball sauce recipe. You can't beat barbecue sauce as the easiest, but this is really good and easy too.

Artichoke Dip
2-12 oz. cans artichokes, drained and chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup parmesan
1 t. garlic powder
Combine all ingredients and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until bubbly. Serve with Fritos or crackers.

Whiskey Meatballs (from Plain Chicken)
2 lbs. frozen meatballs
1 cup ketchup
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup whiskey or bourbon
2 t. lemon juice
2 T. worcestershire sauce
Combine all ingredients in your crock pot. Cook on High for 1-2 hours.
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Friday, February 5, 2016

The Honeymoon

post signatureThe newlyweds were off at 5:30 a.m. to Belize. They wanted to go somewhere tropical and relaxing. They got it!!

They are staying at a small boutique resort called the Victoria House. Even though it's filled to capacity, Mindy says it still feels like they have the place to themselves.

They took an excursion to some Mayan ruins. In Mindy's words:
Well today we went on an all-day excursion to see the Mayan Ruins. We were both very excited to see the ruins but the activity director at our hotel failed to mention it was a 3-hour trip inland to see the ruins. We took a boat for an hour to the mainland, then we took a bus for an our to Northern Belize, then we took another boat for an hour along the river to the jungle where the ruins were located. Fortunately, along the way our tour guide Jose told us fun facts about Belize and was able to answer any questions we had. 

There was only one other couple on our tour-- Cindy and Doug from Houston. They were in their early 60s and worked for NASA/Boeing. They're our new besties. We even exchanged contact info at the end of our tour as they said they are going to Nashville in a few months. When they found out we were on our honeymoon, they said that their number one piece of advice for a lasting marriage is (and then they said in perfect unison) "NEVER try and wallpaper a room together." I'm not sure what exactly happened the last time Cindy and Doug tried to wallpaper a room together but apparently it nearly led them to divorce. Advice noted.

On the ride to the ruins, we got to see lots of jungle wildlife (pictures attached). We even saw a monkey and he is so familiar with the sound of the boat that he comes out of the trees as soon as the boat pulls up because he knows he'll get a piece of fruit-- the guide let me be the one to give him the banana (Justin got it on video)!

The ruins were awesome and you could climb all the way up them if you wanted. The largest was 12-stories tall and allowed you to see above the jungle canopy for miles. Justin and I both went all the way to the top! There were 7 temples total and the ruins of a Mayan home and a Mayan recreational ball court.

The 3-hour trek back to the resort was made tolerable by the fact that they served rum punch and local beers along the way but Justin hadn't had his nap and was not too amused by the other folks on the boat that were getting a little rowdy-- who would have thought that Justin and I would be the "responsible ones" on the boat.

Anyways, all in all it was a good day and we made some fun memories!

 Look closely and you can see the monkey.
 In this photo and the one below, there are birds that are barely visible. What awesome colors.
Sounds like they are having a fun time. When they leave Belize on Saturday, they fly straight to New Orleans to meet up with friends for Mardi Gras. They don't get back until next Wednesday. Now that's what I call a long honeymoon! Surely they'll be well rested! Or maybe not after Mardi Gras!!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Party

post signatureMindy wanted there to be little surprises throughout her wedding. After the ceremony, when everyone was on their way to the reception---many on 3 large rented buses, Mindy and I slipped away while Justin waited. When we returned, we had removed the bottom half of her dress! When we picked out the dress, it was an added bonus---it just buttoned off. We had never seen that before. Now she was free to party all night!! All the guests thought she had changed dresses. It was a fun surprise for all.

The reception was held at the Nashville City Club downtown. It's located on the 20th floor with a 360 degree view of the city. It looked so pretty with all the lights of Music City.

As the guests arrived we started the evening with passed appetizers---crab cakes, hot chicken on biscuits (hot chicken is a Nashville "thing") and assorted bruschetta with cocktails. These were Mindy's custom napkins. Butch has been using the phrase "Throttle back" since the girls were little. It means "settle down" and was used whenever the girls were getting too loud or wild. When they got older it meant "don't be messing around in the car while driving." Once they reached drinking age, it meant---and still does---"slow down, you're drinking too much!" Mindy thought it was a great double-meaning for the bar. Of course only our family and friends would really know the inside joke. Anyway, when it came to drinks at the reception, I don't think anyone heeded his advice! Mindy and Justin had a custom cocktail. I hope the photographer got a picture of the little sign. I think it had something to do with a shot of Jim Beam in a beer. Totally not anything I would ever drink.
Rather than a bridal table, Mindy opted for a "sweetheart" table for two. That way, they had a couple quick bites and started visiting their guests between each course. We used Scrabble racks around the room: bride, groom, gifts, cards, cakes and seating. I knew I was running the risk of possibly losing some of my tiles--and I did---an "E" and a "G." I'm going to try to find them on Etsy.
Here's a better view of their Kate Spade champagne flutes that they received from my friend, Sally Hoffman for a wedding gift. It's hard to see, but the base is a rose colored metallic.

We had a 4 course dinner starting with tomato basil soup. Next was a really good salad. The main course was chicken with a rootbeer sauce over mashed potatoes. We had requested a green vegetable on the side, because the plate looked a little lonely and needed some color. Somehow, that addition had been overlooked. It really wasn't a big deal as we had enough food. Hmmm. That reminds me. I need to check the bill to make sure we weren't charged for the vegetable. If there were any glitches, I'd say this was it.
The centerpieces were flowers totally immersed in water with a floating candle on top. They were low enough to not interfere with conversation. That happens to be a pet peeve of mine---big floral arrangements. There was a set of small, medium and large vases on each table. They were placed on top of mirrors with additional votive candles at the base. I made the table numbers with my Cricut and assorted scrapbook papers. On the inside, I put the number of places that were supposed to be at each table. With assigned seats, I didn't want to leave anything to chance.

The party gifts were Coke bottles. Besides keeping with the red and black theme, if you look closely, you can see the personalization. They say, "Share a Coke with the Donnellans." You might remember that the custom Cokes bottles were how Mindy invited her sisters and nieces to be bridesmaids. 
This is the groom's cake. The baseball cap is made out of Rice Krispie treats. The Red Sox layer is red velvet. The Fenway Park is devil's food. It's amazing what they can do with cakes these days!
The bride's cake was our "splurge" item---well, besides the dress and Cokes! Dessert Designs is a local place that makes the best cakes. No one can duplicate them. When you take one bite, you know it's their cake. Mindy and Justin picked the cream cheese pound cake with a strawberry filling. Mindy wanted a simple cake so she could have the red flowers on it. Justin wanted round.
This is the only picture I have where you can see how the bottom of Mindy's dress buttoned off. This is a shot of another little surprise Mindy had for her closest cousins and friends. 
Mindy invited all of the people close to her that she was unable to invite to be in her wedding to select a "cake pull." Cake pulls are a New Orleans tradition. Ever since Mindy graduated from Tulane and worked in New Orleans, she has had that city in her soul! About the cake pulls: there's a tiny envelope that has a wish for the recipient. It's attached to a ribbon---black---that has a charm on the other end of it. The charms can be put on a bracelet or necklace. All the girls got a kick out of that. The cake people place them in such a way as they do not tear up the cake when they are pulled. Just something fun and different.

Justin and Mindy's first dance was to the song, "You Are (the one)" by Lionel Richie. It was perfect! They sang it to each other.

The final surprise came with the farther/daughter dance. Mindy and Butch started with a waltz to "Edelweiss" in honor of the fact that Butch's mother was born and raised in Austria (and the fact that it's a showtune--Mindy loves the theater).  Then after a minute or so, the "Hand Jive" from Grease started. Butch backed off and looked puzzled while Mindy started doing the hand jive---trying to get Butch to join her. It's a pretty quick paced routine. Suddenly Butch joined her. It was so fast and good! Of course I knew this was going to happen. Turns out, Butch had been practicing when I was out of the house. I never saw him do it. The significance to that song is that Mindy has been a Grease fanatics since she was a little girl. When she started kindergarten, I told her she could not sing those songs at school! Back when the internet was new, her very first email address was missgrease---for years. In fact, early on, when I couldn't say anything about the wedding plans, Sally said to me, "Well, we'll be disappointed if she doesn't do something from Grease!" I just had to sit there and not say a word! Anyway, it was a fun surprise.

Everyone danced the night away to party tunes that Mindy and Justin hand-picked. At one point, my cousin, Mark posted a picture of his mom and dad  (my Aunt Marie and Uncle Tony) on Facebook saying---"Went to a wedding and watched my parents dance to The Humpty Dance and then 10 minutes later, saw my 81 year old mom fist bump the grooms father. Watch yourselves people. The end is near!"
A final shot of the happy couple before we unbuttoned the dress.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Ceremony

I really don't have that many photos yet. These are just the ones people have sent me. I'm very grateful. It's going to be a few weeks before I get the photos from the photographer. She said she took 1400! Surely we'll get some good ones!

Mindys' colors were red and black. 

My niece, Ranya is a concert cellist. She handled all the music for me. I'm so grateful to her. Mindy wanted everything about her wedding to be fun with many surprises. For the first half hour, the trio played show tunes. We purposely did not list the songs in the program because we did not want to give anything away. Right before it was time to start down the aisle, they played The Blackeyed Peas---Let's get this party started. The mothers walked down to Europe's---The final countdown. The bridesmaids walked down to Carly Rae Jepson's---Call me maybe. 

Mindy walked down to Katie Perry's---Firework. We wanted people to be surprised since those are not the types of songs you expect from a string trio. We wanted people to have to think about what the song was rather than see it in the program. You know us--everything is a game! It turned out to be a success. Many people remarked about how cool and unexpected the music was. Nothing stuffy for Mindy!
Mindy and Justin recessed to Stevie Wonder's---Sign sealed delivered! Another surprise was the fact that Mindy did not wear a traditional veil. She had just a little headpiece with netting. I hope the photographer got a close-up of it. It is so cute.
Notice how pretty the bouquet looks with her dress. After they exited, the guests got a cute little container of bubbles wth Mindy and Justin's picture on the bottle. Once everyone was outside, the happy couple ran through them. I hope those pictures turn out because it looked really neat. She originally wanted sparklers. I'm glad she was talked out of that.
Stephanie, Nicky, Jordan and Morgan. Mindy let all the girls get whatever black dress they wanted and red shoes of their choice. She really wanted them to get something they could wear again. Let's face it, no matter what everyone says, you won't or don't wear a bridesmaid dress again. We all liked this practical aspect. 
 Victoria, Sandy, Greg and Elizabeth. We all loved the black and red theme.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

The Wedding Week

post signatureWow! It's been a whirlwind. I had every intention of slipping a blog post in, but there just wasn't time. I was up early on Saturday and sat down to start a post, but Elizabeth came down. I wanted to spend that quiet one on one time with her instead.

Anyway, I'm going to break up the wedding posts in to three: Getting Ready; The Ceremony; The Reception.

Getting  Ready
I'm going to start with Friday. This was my most stressful day. We had to deliver the gift bags to 8 different hotels. At the last minute, I decided to let our families pick theirs up here since they were going to be here that night. Down to 6 deliveries.

Sandy, Elizabeth and I left at 7:30 a.m.  I knew we would hit some rush hour traffic, but we had to be finished with the deliveries by 9 so that I could pick my sister, Janice up from the airport. Then Mindy called. She was excited, so we picked her up too.

We had the bridesmaids luncheon at the club. I invited Mindy's new mother-in-law, sister-in-law and 3 sisters to join all of us. Mindy presented me with this cute Kate Spade box:
It's silver, so the top kept reflecting everything. The engraving reads, "Thanks for making sure everything was tied up in a bow! Love, Mindy" So sweet and unexpected.

After lunch, the girls went for manicures while Janice and I went home to prepare food. I invited our families to come here---even though we wouldn't be here. There just isn't a good place for so many people to congregate at the hotels. We had tons of food, but I forgot to have someone take a picture of the table. 

We were at the rehearsal dinner. It was very nice---at Amerigos where the food is always good.
From left: Butch, Barb, Mindy, Justin, Laurie and Paul. Laurie said that since the Eads Family were game players, she planned a couple of games. The first one was trivia. Turns out, I know Justin better than I know Mindy!! The second game was the "shoe" game. Justin said he wondered why his mom told him to be sure to wear clean socks with no holes. I guess even when you are 36, your mom will still remind you of that sort of thing!! They each took a shoe from the other. Then Emily, Mindy's new sister-in-law, asked a series of questions. Mindy and Justin were sitting back to back. They answered the question by raising the shoe of who the question pertained to. For example---who is the grumpiest in the morning or who is the first to say I'm sorry. They were spot on with each other.

We got home about 8:45 to nearly 50 people in the house---(I'm from a large family):
 Scarlet, Evie and Travis were playing in the rec room while...
 most of the adults were in the kitchen, family room and living room.

Janice took her job of "being in charge" seriously.  My sisters already had all the food put away and the dining room cleaned up. Janice said it was too much pressure! Being single, she's never prepared or served food for that many people. We won't even talk about the drinks. Let's just say, 3 big bags of ice were not enough.

I had forewarned everybody that we were kicking them out at 11. They were good sports and everyone left when they were supposed to.
 I posted this picture on Facebook: "And just like that, breakfast for the family thanks to good friends. Banana bread---thanks Madelyn. Sour dough bread---thanks, Karolyn."

Mindy's hair dresser---or maybe they call them hair stylist these days---arrived at 9:30. I thought I took pictures of all the girls, but apparently I just got these.

 Melanie with Mindy. I wish I'd gotten a picture of the back.
Mindy went for a trial run a couple weeks ago. This is a closer view of the "do."
The flowers arrived around 1 p.m. This is the bridal bouquet---tiny orchids.  So many people commented on how stunning it looked agains her dress. Mindy didn't want anything that would be remotely stuffy. She's not really a traditional kind of gal!

We had a great time just hanging out. We thought we had plenty of time. Suddenly, it was a huge rush to get everyone ready and out the door by 2:30. I had not practiced buttoning the 50 tiny buttons up the back of Mindy's dress! OMGosh! I was a nervous wreck. The bridal shop suggested using a crochet hook. There was a bit of a learning curve, but I finally got the hang of it. I was so afraid I was going to pop one off.

It got a little tense. I was snapping at Butch, Stephanie, the girls---just about everybody!!! Anyway, we got out the door and made it to the chapel in time. We wanted to take ALL of the pictures before the ceremony. The day couldn't have been more beautiful---sunny and nearly 70 degrees.