Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pinterest Success

I've had recipes piling up on my pinterest board for awhile now. This past week I really got in the mood for something different and ended up trying 3 new recipes in a 3 day span - and all of them were winners!

Day 1 - PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps

I've seen numerous recipes for these type of wraps all over the place. I picked this recipe up from my friend Jess and it was delicious. To stretch the meat a little farther and add a bit more variety I also added chickpeas and peanuts to the mix.

Biggest negative = the lettuce leaves I had (Bibb/butter lettuce) were fairly small and difficult to eat the wraps with. I like the texture of butter lettuce in a wrap form, but I think next time I'll either try romaine or look for a bigger head of butter lettuce.

Day 2 - Spicy Thai Noodles

I love this blogger's healthy fried rice, so I thought I'd try something else from her site. The noodles were delicious and spicy! I took the recipes advice and only did about 1 TBSP of red pepper flakes and that was plenty for my family. Going vegetarian is always a nice mix, but I think you could easily add chicken or shrimp to this dish and make it a little heartier. Brandon loved this dish, which I was a little surprised with because I thought it might be a hit or miss...but it is always nice to find new dishes to surprise him with!

Day 3 - Shrimp, Zucchini, & Pesto Angel Hair Pasta

This dish was Brandon's request. Not only was it delicious, but it was also great because it was super simple to make and required ingredients I already typically have around the house!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Wedding Fever

 It has been an absolutely incredible week and a half. Every morning I wake up thinking that this must be a dream - and then I catch a glimpse of the sparkling diamond and remember the man who has swept me off my feet. My next thought is typically, "how in the world am I going to get through the next eight and a half months?!"

Last week was a whirlwind of trying to make reception hall decisions. We had it narrowed down to 2 places fairly early on - one is a ballroom attached to a hotel/golf course. It's a beautiful room and closer to the church where we will likely be getting married, but the biggest plus was that the hotel was attached and we will be having a large number of out-of-town guests. The downsides = I've been to several weddings/proms/banquets there before, making it not the most unique location, and there have been times where the food has been fine....and other times where it has been not good at all. The second place is a hall attached to a local museum. It's got alot of character and really plays more into Brandon and my nerdy historical side (it was built by Henry Ford). The downsides = it is about 30 minutes away from the church and not attached to a hotel.

To put it nicely, there were some very split and strong decisions :) Interestingly, I was one of the most mellow....but I think we've come to a conclusion - although who knows what will happen in the next 36 hours before we have to officially decide and put down a deposit!

One benefit I've realized already is that having a January wedding means that there are alot more discounts and packages available! I've already had more of a choice with some of the vendors I've looked into and the price of the reception hall I think we are going with is practically cut in half by doing a "first-quarter" wedding (January - March). I love a good deal, and considering most of our guests will be from either Michigan or Minnesota, I have no fears about a cold-weather wedding!

I headed out to Minnesota this past weekend and was able to get a little MN engagement celebrating in! It was great to see my future-in-laws as well as ask my friend Jess to be my matron in honor in person (she said yes in case you were wondering :)).

Saturday morning Brandon and I headed to a place I had never been before (and never thought to go....) - SOUTH DAKOTA. One of Brandon's friends was getting married, so we attended our first wedding as an engaged couple with several other friends from Minneapolis. 

Three words I would use to describe my brief exposure to South Dakota....flat, farmland, casinos. It really was prettier than I expected, although the city where we were (Sioux Falls) is apparently the biggest city in the state, and it was not that big. I don't think small town living is up my ally....

(Candy bar at the wedding - chocolate covered pomegranates are officially my new favorite candy)

I love weddings, and it was such a fun experience to attend one knowing that I was planning for my own! The bride is incredibly creative and did some great DIY projects, and the cupcakes were incredible!

(Some of the bride's super creative decorating - shadow boxes filled with childhood memorabilia)

Brandon and I spent the ride back to Minneapolis going over the goals we had set for our own wedding - above anything, we want it to be a celebration that glorifies God and solemnizes our commitment to serve him together. Although we are excited for the wedding day and to actually be married, we've also been encouraged by several godly-couples to use this time to prepare ourselves to become husband and wife, most importantly by growing closer to God individually, and together.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

He Asked - I Said YES!

I have found the one whom my soul loves.
Song of Solomon 3:4

On Friday April 5, 2013 at approximately 11 a.m. this incredible man asked me to be his wife. It was absolutely the easiest decision of my life! 

Frequently asked question #1: How did he do it?

Well, lets just say not in any way I ever imagined, but it was perfect! About 2 weeks ago Brandon and my dad went out together and it became pretty obvious that Brandon had asked for my dad's blessing. Given that we live 4 states apart and our visits are scheduled ahead of time, I knew Brandon only had certain opportunities to propose, and was fairly certain this weekend would be it.

I've mentioned before that Brandon flies stand-by given his mom's job with the airport, consequently we never really know what flight he will be able to catch when he comes for a visit. We generally have a pretty good estimate a couple of days before though. On Wednesday night Brandon told me that there was no way he was going to make it to Michigan on his typical Friday night flight. I was disappointed and we talked about whether or not there was a possibility he could get on a flight earlier on Friday or even Thursday night. There didn't seem to be any chance. It looked like he would fly in early Saturday morning for our weekend visit.

So Friday morning I woke up for my typical Friday routine. Friday is the only day of the week where I don't have class or work, so it is typically my hit-the-books day and catch up on house chores. I got up, showered, and sat down to study in my sweats, bathrobe, and wet hair (note I had no make-up on either - genuine natural Julianne :)).

Just before 11 I got up and started to dry my hair....only to hear the doorbell ring. I headed down the stairs and saw someone standing with a bunch of roses on my parents front porch. At first I thought Brandon had sent me some flowers, but quickly realized that the man holding the flowers was Brandon!

I opened the door completely shocked?! What? How did you get here? Aren't you supposed to be at work? How did you get to my house? Do my parents know about this?

Brandon simply stepped inside and swept me into a hug - "I just couldn't wait another day to see you!" he said! Then he said "And I can't wait another moment to ask you. Will you let me honor you as your husband?" (As he knelt down on one knee and proceeded to open an upside-down ring box!) I didn't even respond - I truly was completely shocked that he had managed to surprise me! After giving him a kiss he told me those words we waited so long to exchange - "I love you," then he asked if my response was a yes? 

My answer was a resounding "yes" followed quickly by, "I haven't even brushed my teeth yet?!!" He just smiled and put the most gorgeous diamond ring on my finger.

Frequently asked question #2: Do you have a date?

It looks like we do! We are down to 2 reception halls, but it looks like we will be married either January 4 or 11, 2014! Although we would love to do it even sooner, studying for the BAR complicates things just a little bit more.....

After telling our family Brandon took me to dinner at one of the most romantic restaurants in downtown Detroit - housed in an old Victorian mansion. Celebrating with family and spreading the news was great, but it was so nice to take a couple of hours to step away from the building chaos and reflect on the beginning of our new life together as husband and wife! We've spent the rest of this weekend celebrating with friends and family and starting to make wedding plans.

I am so happy! I am SO blessed. And just to be clear....I am SO in love with this incredible man and cannot wait to be his wife.