Banana Cacao Ice Cream

Monday, March 31, 2014
I have seen so many images and recipes for renditions of this dairy free deliciousness lately, that I decided I just had to experiment for myself. 

While many recipes called for coconut milk or original almond milk - I am a total chocolate nut. So I figured it couldn't hurt to add dark chocolate almond milk for a little additional flavor, right? 
Right - because it turned out incredibly tasty!

Here's the breakdown:
* 1/2 cup Dark Chocolate Almond Milk
* 2 Tbs. Cacao Powder
* 2 Bananas (Frozen and sliced)
* (a few strawberries to top it off)

This made just enough for a "me" sized serving. I'd definitely double it if you plan to share!


When the Choice Isn't Always Obvious...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lately I have been faced with quite a few big life decisions. And while I must say that I feel so incredibly blessed to even be in a position to have to make such decisions, it nonetheless can still be pretty overwhelming. That being said, I have been doing a great deal of praying about them and looking to God and his Word for guidance. The following verses are ones I have found helpful in times when the choice isn't always immediately obvious.

Proverbs 3: 5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 

James 1: 5-6 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 

Phillipians 4: 6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Proverbs 19:20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, do everything in the name of Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts and I am helped; my heart exalts, and with my song I give thanks to him. 


Madmen Themed Affair

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

This past weekend I had the priviledge of throwing one of my dearest friend's Bachelorette Party. 
No party would be complete without a good ole' fashion, themed reason to play dress up.
That being said, we settled upon a MADMEN theme.

For those who have not seen the show (which I will admit is myself included), it is a drama based on a prestigious New York ad agency set in the 1960's. Feel free to clue me in if my description is incorrect. So we all put on our best 60's style dresses and hair do's to prep for our night on the town!

The show's logo is comprised of the colors of black, red and white. Thus, I centered the decoration scheme around these colors as well.

Can't go wrong with balloons. Simple way to tie your colors together and spruce up any table.

Gifts are also a must for any bachelorette. Color coordinated, of couse.

These straws were a perfect addition to add a pop of color to our water glasses.

And let's be honest- every great party must have a festive favor for the guests. 
Who doesn't want  need a pair of cat eye glasses?

Congrats to the Bacherlorette!


Engagement Photo Ideas: Fun, Memorable, Unique to You!

Thursday, March 13, 2014
I absolutely love and cherish our engagement photos.

We had so much fun taking them, and not only was it a memorable experience for us both, but I am thrilled with how they captured the essence of us as a couple.

While I am by no means close to being an expert on the subject, I thought I'd share some of the things with you today that worked well for us in the process.

1.) Before you head out, gather ideas for inspiration. 
Prior to the morning of our engagement session, I put together an entire Pinterest board of photo ideas and shared it with our photographer. This gave her an idea of what types of looks we were hoping for and gave us a great starting point to build on throughout the shoot.

2.) Work with a photographer that brings out the best in you. 
We were lucky enough to have a close friend of ours do our shoot, and she not only brought great ideas to the table, but made us feel completely comfortable in being ourselves throughout the entire process.
Thank you MKWebb - we appreciate it.

3.) Plan out coordinating outfits, yet not matching.
I had three different outfits that I wore for our session. One dressy, one casual, and one that I'd deem an in betweener. We worked hard to find outfits for Ryan that complemented the style and colors, without entering identical twin territory.

4.) Shoot in a few different settings, keeping in mind what you plan to use the photos for.
We took some of our photos in a downtown city setting and others in more of a prairie, woodland area.
I love the contrast between the settings and they served beautifully for different purposes. 

One of our city images was the perfect backdrop for our Christmas card this year.

While those set in more of a natural setting go hand-in-hand with our wedding feel and were perfect for our website and Save-the Dates.

5.) Utilize props that add character and reflect you as a couple.
I took some time before our shoot to create/purchase a few items that I hoped would bring a unique touch to some of our images.

I got these mini chalkboards at Hobby Lobby for $4.99 and jazzed them up with a few baby pennants.

Love this "picture within a picture" look. And it was so simple too. Frame + Flower  = Magic. And we are reusing the frame at our wedding!

Since Ryan and I first started hanging out way back when, we have had a tradition of taking hot chocolate/cappuchino walks for hours just chatting and enjoying one another's company. We wanted to bring that tradition into our shoot. (It didn't hurt that it was quite the chilly fall day - and that hot beverage never tasted so good!)

6.) Get up close and personal.
There is something so touching about the shots that focus on the details.

7.) Request some photos in different color variations.
Some the neatest photos we have are those that are nearly void of vibrant color. I feel like these images really hone in on us as a couple with a bit less background noise.  

8.) Grab a blanket!
Not only does a blanket scream "picnic", "romantic", the list goes on... but it also gives you the chance to sit or lay down on the ground without getting all dirty.

9.) Enjoy yourselves.
My favorite photos are the ones where Ryan and I were just being goofy and enjoying the moment. After all, the reason you are taking the photos in the first place is to celebrate how happy the two of you make one another!

Yes, yes we were reanacting Jack and Rose.

As I said, can't go wrong with a blanket ;).

Best of luck on your shoot, and remember the most important thing is to enjoy yourselves. 
Trust me, it will shine through in your photos!


Birthday Card Keepsake Book

Monday, March 10, 2014

I have legitimately had a stack of birthday cards sitting on my coffee table for the past two weeks - staring at me and daring me to recycle them.

If we are being truly honest, isn't that usually what ends up happening? As much as you want to hold on to them (and the truly special ones I do), eventually they end up in the recycle bin, which makes me sad as I know my friends and family took the time and effort to get me a card and write a special little note.

Thus, no more. This year's cards have a much happier fate. And the end product will look much better then a sad stack on my table!

I have run across a few of these keepsake book ideas a time or two for Christmas and Birthday cards, and I thought it may be just what I was looking for to hold on to my cards in a much more eye-pleasing manner.

You can create one of these little readers in a variety of ways. I have seen many use binder rings, which  would most certainly work. I decided to use gift wrap ribbon in bright, fun colors. Also, for the cover, I went the green route and used the box lid (pictured in the bottom left corner) from some delicious chocolate covered strawberries Ryan and I devoured last night!

To create my cover, I gathered my scrapbooking supplies and set to work. I created my image in Powerpoint and then backed it/covered the lid with scrapbook paper. I then attached some pastel colored brads and flower to add some dimension.

I hole punched each of the cards with a three-hole punch and then selected three different colored ribbons to string through.

Finally, I tied up the ribbons and curled them to give my book a bit of a gift wrapped effect.

I am hoping to create more books like this with my family and my cards in the future. What a great keepsake that you can cherish for years to come to remember those who took the time to think of you on your special day!


Will you be my bridesmaid?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
One of the best parts of my wedding day (aside from, of course, marrying the man of my dreams), will be that I get to spend an entire day with those I love all in one place. 

Five of those individuals that I love are my very best girl friends who will be calming me down, making me laugh, and standing by my side on this utmost important day. I feel incredibly blessed to have these ladies in my life, and so when it came time to ask them to be a part of my wedding, I wanted it to be as fun and thoughtful as they are! I set out to peruse Pinterest and my favorite blogs to see what was out there, and while I ultimately decided to create something of my very own, I came across so many great ideas along the way, that I thought I'd share some with you today!
For my girls, I decided to go the dessert route. I mean let's be honest, you can't wrong with something sweet, right?

I hit up a local bakery and got some of their fabulous pink lemonade cupcakes and had each one boxed up individually. I then utilized my Dr. Seuss skills to whip up a little rhyme, which I cut and backed on scrapbook paper and then stuck into the cupcake using a toothpick.

Once ready, I used ribbon and scrapbooking flowers, in my wedding colors no less, to wrap it up and add a nice finished touch!

Then the fun part began....the delivery!

Sticking with the dessert theme, I came across these lovely bunches of goodness in my initial search that may be an option if you prefer cookies instead from The Pastry Studio.

I also thought this cakepop invitation was just too much fun! (Source unidentified.)

Looking to do something that doesn't involve food?

I love these boxes that Brit from Life in Hearts put together for her girls. She even filled them with bridesmaid essentials!

These pennant jars from Lindsey Brooke are a great way to turn the question into something creative. 

And if you are looking for something with a little more "pop", this idea from Sobrina at Quiet Like Horses may be up your alley!

Or maybe you have some seriously organized (or the contrary ;)) ladies on your hands. I love this idea of giving your girls planners to help them remember all of those important dates! Such a practical gift. (Source unidentified.)

There are so many uniquely creative ideas out there. These were just a few of my favorites. I encourage you to find something that will be special for both you and "soon-to-be" bridesmaids!



Saturday, March 1, 2014
I spent the day hanging out with my all time favorite lady - my mother. We had a jam packed, productive day of running errands, putting invitations together for the wedding and doing a little baking in between. 

Sometimes when I come to spend the weekend with my parents, I will bring over food that I know will go bad if it sits at my place over the weekend.

This weekend, I brought bananas. And it just so happened, my mom had a bunch that were nearing the end of their edible existence as well. As much as all of us love bananas, we knew there was no way we  were going to eat them all while they were still good. Oftentimes, we freeze them and and use them for smoothies, but today we decided to get a little more creative.

First, we decided to try our hand at banana chips.

We started with a recipe from 3 Grams of Fiber and began by tripling all of the ingredients as we used 3 bananas as opposed to one. (Remember our main goal was to use those bananas!)

Once we had chopped up a good amount of our banana stockpile, we coated them in a lemon juice and cinnamon mixture.

We then spread them out on a cookie sheet and baked them at 200 degrees for 2 hours, flippin em' every 30 minutes along the way. (Note: For extra cinnamon flavor, we sprinkled some more on after we had them all laid out on the sheet as well.)

...and there ya have it. I will say that if you enjoy your banana chips a bit more crunchy, this may not be the recipe for you. Ours came out delicious - but a bit on the softer side.

While baking our chips, we decided to create something a bit more dessert-like. My mother and I both have a sweet tooth with chocolate on the mind. Thus, when we came across this recipe from Spoonful for Nut Butter and Cinnamon Filled Frozen Banana Pops, I knew we had found our match. 

We started by chopping the ends off of our very ripe friends and slicing them in half.

Then we spread a heavenly almond butter, peanut butter, and cinnamon concoction onto the two halves and placed a popsicle stick on one of the halves. 

Now I know that you are thinking that popsicle stick looks awful large. You would be right. We actually used large craft sticks that I had found amidst some of my teaching craft supplies. So while they are a little large and in charge - they were free! 

Once we finished putting together our pops, we froze them for about 30 minutes before starting the next step.

After they were good and solid, we rolled on our coconut oil and melted chocolate deliciousness. 
As I try my best to steer clear of dairy, we used the Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips which taste just like the real deal.
I would recommend doing the rolling in a dish or space large enough for you to roll the whole banana and stick at the same time. It creates a lot less mess!

Then just place them back on the cookie sheet to freeze again for a few minutes and enjoy.

What are some of your favorite banana snacks?