Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cheese Sauce {{ For Fries, Soft Pretzels, etc... }}

Who loves restaurant cheese fries? Who loves ballpark pretzels with cheese?? I know I love both a crazy amount. This recipe is very flexible. If you make it by following the instructions below you will end up with a very simple cheese sauce that doesn't taste like it can from a can or jar. You could also add diced jalapenos for some heat. Or some Frank's hot sauce.I think both of those would add some great flavor. Next time I'm going to try to add some cajun spice because that is my favorite ingredient for a kick of flavor.

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Step 1) Toss cornstarch with cheese and add to a saucepan.

Step 2) Stir in evaportaed milk.

Step 3) Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. If you would prefer to have a thinner sauce than just add more evaporated milk and stir.

Step 4) Serve immediately and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Our Wedding {{ The Ceremony }}

I've already shared the details on our decorations so here pictures of the actual ceremony going down. 
We were blessed with beautiful weather which is pretty much unheard of in late July in the Midwest. Seriously. I think the high was 73 or something crazy like that. It's usually 100 degrees out at that time of year!!!

I'll sit back and let the pictures tell the story...

I love the picture below. Believe it or not... I used to be shy.

I also love this picture. Bird seed throwing in action. Great executive decision Jenni! I had originally requested to have the bird seed tossing saved until after pictures so I didn't have seeds in my hair, but my friend Jenni decided that throwing it out when we walked down the pictures would be fun and make for some neat pictures. And she was right! 

Chad and I asked my brother Nick and his sister DJ to sign our marriage license as our witnesses since we didn't have a wedding party.

Next up... family pictures!

***All pictures (except train pictures) were taken by my wonderful photographers. 
Kim with Kim Smith Photography and Jackie with Autumn Photography. I cannot say enough good things about these two. They were very professional, but also fun at the same time. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Baked Potato Soup {{ Crock Pot }}

This has been a favorite lazy weekend meal for quite some time. It's super easy and it tastes great. Plus it's all done in the crock pot which is a thumbs up in my book.

8 ounces of cream cheese, diced
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
1/2 of a red bell, diced
30 ounces of frozen diced potatoes (located in the potato section of the freezer in the grocery store. Frozen hash browns will also work in a pinch)
42 ounces of chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup (cream of potato will also work)
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Step 1) Combine all ingredients in bowl of slow cooker and stir well. 

Step 2) Cook on low 8 hours or high for 4 hours, stir occasionally to make sure the cream cheese is melting properly

Step 3) Garnish with shredded cheddar and bacon bits

I had previously posted this recipe years ago, but wanted to re share it today. This one is very good/easy so give it a try!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Our Wedding Story {{ The Ceremony Decorations }}

Hi all! I wanted to break apart the ceremony into two separate posts because I spent so much time working on the decorations and wanted to share every little detail. I plan on doing the same for the reception. So here we go....

Our ceremony was held at a gazebo in a park near our house. The gazebo is part of the park's garden area so there were a ton of pretty flowers as scenery. We kept the guest list for this portion fairly small since seating was limited and invited family only. A couple of my girlfriends helped set up so they were also invited to stay for the ceremony.

I walked through the site a few times the months before the ceremony with different friends just to get different perspectives and bounce my ideas off of them. I'm not sure who it was, but someone suggested doing sidewalk chalk on the sidewalks near the gazebo. There was street parking only so all of our guests saw the sidewalk messages on the way to their seat. I think this was a really fun touch!

Update: See the comments for sidewalk drawing details. Thanks Jenni!!

A friend of a friend (Hi Jenni!!) had this sign leftover from her wedding that she let me borrow. It was set near the last row of benches.

This was set-up right next to the last bench. The chair is an old thrift store chair that I got for $5 years ago. It now sits in the corner of the master bedroom. The metal basket on the left was leftover from the same friend of a friend's wedding. It was filled with tiny bags of birdseed that I made. I bought a huge bag of birdseed and wrapped tulle around a handful of it. I then tied with yellow and white baker's twine. The wooden box on the right is a thrift store find. It's filled with all of my hand-made programs. The programs are just made out of thick card stock, glue and craft sticks. I made them sturdy enough to be used as fans just in case it was hot that day. You can see both the bird seed bags and the programs better in the picture below.

The benches weren't very attractive so we dressed them up with some thrifted blue mason jars. Chad rigged them with thick wire that he twisted around the lip of the jar to hold it. Then burlap twine was wrapped around the wire to tie to the bench. The flowers are just fake hydrangeas that I bought in bulk. I really wanted white hydrangeas, but decided to use fake because it is typically so hot in July in the Midwest and I didn't want them to be wilted for the ceremony. This way they could just be thrown in a box and brought to the reception easily also.

The cute little burlap flowers were the work of my friend Jenni. 

The burlap aisle runner was borrowed from a friend. I loved it so much.

The very last bench in the row was decorated with tulle, fabric bunting that I had made and rolled burlap flowers.

The trees were decorated with tissue paper poufs. Some of these were given to me by a friend that she had used and I color matched the tissue paper to make several of my own. These are super easy to make! 

The front of the gazebo was decorated with hanging tulle, fabric bunting and burlap bunting that I made to say Mr. and Mrs. over where Chad and I would be saying our vows. The fabric bunting was just cut with zig-zag scissors and I used a glue gun to attach to bias tape.I used zig-zag scissors so the edges wouldn't fray. I had to make so much of this that I didn't want to waste lots of time sewing it. The glue gun glue held everything up nicely! The buralp bunting was made by cutting triangles out of match felt and then gluing to the back of burlap. Once the glue dried I cut the burlap out. Gluing to felt helps prevent the felt from fraying. This held up great! The paint is just blue acrylic. I made a stencil out of freezer paper and ironed it to the burlap to paint. I did a few coats and then pulled off the freezer paper after the paint dried.

The two front benches on each side had reserved bunting hanging on them made out of burlap using the same method as the Mr. & Mrs. bunting. This was for our immediate family.

The tulle hanging at the entrance of the gazebo also had burlap fabric flowers attached.

The railings of the gazebo all held blue mason jars with hydrangeas. There are a few marbles at the bottom of the jars for weight.

The outside of the gazebo was decorated with more burlap and fabric bunting as well as a burlap rolled flower.

I spent a ton of time working on these decorations and I am so happy with how they turned out. I loved our ceremony and love all the pictures we have of it.

Update: A special thanks to all my girlfriends who helped decorate and get things ready. I'm talking to you Jenni, Angie, Dawn, Katy and DJ!!! I couldn't have had the wedding of my dreams without your help and I love each of you more than you know!!!

Next up... the ceremony itself!

***All pictures (except train pictures) were taken by my wonderful photographers. 
Kim with Kim Smith Photography and Jackie with Autumn Photography. I cannot say enough good things about these two. They were very professional, but also fun at the same time.