Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our First Holiday Season As Mr. & Mrs.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the holiday season comes and goes. It seems the older I get the faster it goes by...I think I'm officially old! Every holiday season is a memorable season, but this one in particular I think I will always hold close to my heart, for it was mine and Patrick's first as husband and wife :-) 

I'll begin this entry with Thanksgiving...

My parents came in from Pittsburgh to spend this special holiday with us :-) I was so excited to host my first dinner, and even more so proud to be serving those who have spent their life serving me. I'll never forget my dad telling me that my new "Southern Sweet Potato" recipe was the "best he'd ever had" - very cool! 

Thanksgiving marked my first time making a turkey...ever! We got a fresh free range turkey from Whole Foods and I brined it. I had never eaten a brined turkey, but my friend Tiffany told me how good it was, so I decided to try it out! My mom's motto was "why mess with a good thing", but I was dead set on making my meal my own. With her help we figured out how to brine the turkey, and it was a real success! The turkey stayed super moist and had a great smokey flavor...I will definitely brine again next year!

In my family, it is customary for the woman to make the meat (don't be fooled by Patrick in the above picture...he only lifted it out of the oven for me!) and the man to carve it. We have pictures of my Pop-Pop and my dad carving the meat, so we had to have Patrick step up to his manly duties in the kitchen and I loved that he learned how to carve from my dad :-)

Finally dinner was served! Turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans,squash casserole, cranberry relish and pecan-pumpkin pie for dessert...YUM!! 

The following day, I purchased our first Christmas tree from a little shop in Franklin, Tennessee, and decorated it that night. And now presenting, "Our First Christmas Tree"...

Leading up to Christmas, we got in the spirit by taking our first annual Christmas Card picture :-) 
We also LOVED getting all of our friends and families cards in the mail! We posted them all on a pillar dividing our kitchen and dining room. 

Before I even knew it I was planning our Christmas gathering! We had a very Married Christmas...cheesy I know, but it's the one year we can use that phrase! On Christmas Eve, the Titans took on the Jacksonville Jaguars. They ended up winning 23-17 and Patrick contributed with 4 Special Teams tackles!! He actually got the Special Teams game ball for the week :-) After the big win, we grabbed a pizza at Papa Murphy's. We later went to mass at Cross Point with our friend Tim. This was my first Christmas Eve mass in a non-Catholic church, which was different, but the message was great - which is most important! We capped off the day by watching "Christmas Vacation 2: Uncle Eddie's Island Adventure"...which we will never watch again!! That movie was beyond bad!! 

Christmas morning we slept in until our bodies woke us, which is always a nice treat. We then went downstairs to open our gifts. Patrick had given me a number of mine prior to Christmas. When I got a pair of Ugg slippers from my sister, brother-in-law, nieces and nephews, Patrick gave me a pair of Cole Haan slippers he had ordered for me. Then for whatever reason he gave me the pair of Cole Haan sparkly flats that I wanted so badly! Then I guess he thought while he was as it he would give me my other shoe related gift...Ugg boots! Check out my new shoe collection :-) 

On the actual holiday, I got to open my new Mac Book Pro, which I'm posting this blog from! My hubby did good!! :-) 

I got Patrick car detailing, waders for fly fishing, a tackle box and a fly making kit complete with everything he needs to make a Wooly Booger - lol! 

Next we got quite a mom and dad had left a box for us when they were in town, and inside was a scavenger hunt! Get this, my mom hid presents all around our house! We found one prior, and thought either it was left by the girl who lived here prior or Patrick's aunt and uncle left it for us when they were in town because it was a biking speedometer. The entire scavenger hunt was so thoughtful and really made our Christmas morning so memorable! 

I spent most of the rest of the day in the kitchen preparing Christmas dinner. We hosted our friends Tim, Craig and Kat. Dinner included Honeybaked Ham and Smoked Turkey, Sweet Potatoes, Cheesy Potatoes, Zucchini, Asparagus and Salad with Pecan Pumpkin Pie, Nut Roll and Peppermint Bark for dessert. We capped the night with wine and a game night of "Apples To Apples"- which was such a fun time! 

Before the night was over we took our first annual Christmas photo, which will go in a Christmas memories book my mom purchased for us :-) 

The day after Christmas I continued one of my all-time favorite for Hallmark Ornaments for our tree! Check out our 2011 collection :-) You'll find a snowman in a hot tub, because Patrick is always in the hot tub/cold tub after games! An airplane to symbolize Patrick's instrumentation rating in flying! A guitar to symbolize us living in music city! And the First Christmas Together snowflake :-) 
We have a few more to come. My mom picked a few hard to find ones up for me in Pittsburgh, and I even had to stoop to ordering one off E-Bay...whatever it takes, right?! 

Overall, Our First Christmas was very memorable, and so so special...I look forward to all the Christmases to come throughout our lifetime together :-) 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Peach State

This past weekend I got to visit Atlanta, Georgia! This was my first visit to the Peach State, so I was excited to explore :-) With the help of Atlanta's best tour guides, I packed a ton into my weekend get away. 

What sparked the trip was Patrick's game against the Falcons. I decided to make the drive (about 4 hours from Nashville) because the 19th was Patrick's 26th Birthday. If I didn't go, I wouldn't have gotten to see him at all, except for when he woke up in the morning. Our friends, Ryan and Erin (Introduced in my blog post from last month "In The Woods With The Woods") offered for me to stay with them, which was so sweet! It made it a no-brainer for me to make the trip!

We went to the restaurant JCT Kitchen for Patrick's Birthday meal. It housed fancier Southern Style cooking and was delicious! We got a banana almond cake for dessert and they personalized it for the Birthday Boy - fun! I think my handsome hubby is getting better with age...26 looks good on him ;-)

After dinner, Patrick had to get back to the hotel for meetings and curfew, but our night wasn't over. Our next stop was the Sun Dial Room atop the Westin Hotel.

Get this, the circular room has a belt that is constantly moving your table around the room so the entire city can be seen. So unique! We circled in 35 minutes time while enjoying drinks. I opted for the Georgia Peach ;-)

The next morning, we toured the World of Coca-Cola. I love Coke and had no idea it was created in Atlanta. What a neat place! Coke memorabilia dating back from as far as 1886 was sprinkled throughout the museum, along with facts and information on the history of my favorite beverage. 

We also got to see how Coke is made, and taste 60 different Coke products from around the world! 

I'd say stick with the original! None of the other soft drinks compared to Coke! 

Like all museums, there was a gift shop, but this store was on another level! Anything you could think of, they had it there with Coke labeled on it somewhere. They even had Dolce & Gabbana sweaters and sweatshirts for the fashionista Coke drinker...for $180! Wow...I'll pass!
After, we grabbed some lunch at the CNN Center. I also had not known Atlanta is home to the popular world news station - very cool! This was double the fun because my friend Liz came to meet us for lunch. So nice to see my old college buddy! :-) 

The game was a lot of fun! I had never attended a game inside a dome, so that was different for me. We had amazing seats on the 40 yard line 

Thanks Ryan & Erin!

The game was fun, but not ideal for the Titans fans in attendance...we lost, and it wasn't the prettiest of losses. The final score was 23-17.
After the game we got to hang out with Patrick for a little before he boarded the bus for the airport :-) 

Such a fun weekend! Can't wait to visit Atlanta again in the near future! Thanks Ryan and Erin for being great hosts, and thanks Britney for being my "date" when Patrick wasn't around - haha!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mr. and Mrs. Stein!

On October 12th, 2011, one of my very best friends married the man of her dreams :-)

Kristina and I met in college and became fast friends. Over the years we only became closer and actually lived together our Junior and Senior years of college. Throughout that time we may have had one or hundreds of talks about the future men we would meet and marry ;-) Josh is exactly the man Kristina had always searched for and I'm so happy she found her other half! 

Kristina and Josh got married at the Duquesne Chapel, on the campus of Duquesne University, where Josh went to school. The weather was beautiful for mid-November. It actually reminded me of the weather on mine and Patrick's wedding day...clear skies, sun in the sky, and a little chill in the air. A perfect day for a wedding!

Kristina's bridesmaids were her sister Janelle and her cousin Brittany, who were later escorted by Josh's brothers.

I've always loved Kristina's mom, Netty, and she looked gorgeous for her daughters big day! How lucky is she to have had her Dad to walk her down the aisle :-)

You can see the pride in the face of Kristina's dad, Duane! Kristina made a perfect bride!

I loved the priest Kristina and Josh had marry them. He had an Irish brogue which made me an instant fan, but then he was hilarious on top of it all! Before exchanging rings, he held both in the air and proclaimed they were the tiniest and most expensive pair of hand cuffs - lol! 

He also put their hands on top of each others and told Josh this was the last time he would ever have the upper hand...witty! 

Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Stein! May you have a lifetime filled with love, happiness and the best of times! 

The reception was held at the Willow Room in Belle Vernon. It was a very pretty venue! I think the most beautiful thing (aside from Kristina) was the wedding cake! Holy Moley! It was ginormous and spectacular! Hands down the most beautiful wedding cake I've ever seen! 

Another thing I loved about this wedding was the love I felt from their family. Netty and Duane went above and beyond making this day so special for Kristina and Josh! Duane gave the most touching speech welcoming everyone to the reception, and Josh and the Stein's into their family. It was a walk through all the moments in his life that "took his breath away". During his father-daughter dance to "Butterfly Kisses", projectors came from the ceiling and showcased photos throughout Kristina's life, and it was all a special surprise for her! Following, Kristina shared a dance with her Mom. 

Such a beautiful day for a beautiful couple! I know they are going to have a wonderful life together, and I can't wait to watch their love grow throughout the years :-) Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Stein!