Wonderful Wedding Weekend

Sometimes you need some alliteration to start your day! :)

Hey there folks!! I know I've been MIA lately....I feel like I've been in a whirlwind of activities and events and I think this is the first week I don't have ANYTHING going on until the weekend.

We spent the weekend in Atlanta at the most beautiful wedding I've ever been to!  My dear friends Cherie (check her out over at >> Waiting on Wildflowers) and Lee got married this weekend!  WOO WOO!  That wedding was full of so much love and my favorite part was when Cherie was so excited that she was bouncing on her toes during the ceremony.  It was so wonderful to see two people so in love with each other.  I've never seen a groom cry from happiness upon seeing his bride for the first time.  And I've never heard such beautiful vows...so full of love and tenderness for one another (and a few laughs).  Even the toasts that were given were absolutely beautiful; the way these two people inspire their close friends and family so much is such an incredible blessing.

And by the way...the decorations and the flowers:  TOP NOTCH!  And the food!  There were these lovely bacon covered dates during the cocktail hour...I seriously wanted that waiter to just leave the whole tray at our table!  The goat cheese salad during dinner was bangin' and the cakes...my goodness the cakes...I had the vanilla with peach buttercream....phenomenal!!

Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Hurt and welcome to your next adventure!  
Looking forward to our next family Mexican Monday with the newlyweds!

Picture courtesy of Cherie's awesome Aunt Mary Francis!



Just a quick update to let you know I'm still here.  Last week saw one of the worst day's I've ever experienced:  my grandpa's funeral.  I spent last week in Wisconsin spending time with family as we said our final goodbye's to grandpa.  It was so sad...but so beautiful.  After I can spend some time going through the pictures at my parent's house, I'll post a dedicated entry just for him.  

To recap last week:
A total of 40 hours spent in the car
A change of temperature from 93 to a frost warning back to 93
A fever of 102.2
Cheese curds and a chocolate malt
An attempted whiskey (and brandy) manhattan
Only recognizing three of my relatives (give me a break, I have 180 of them)
All my extended cousins think I'm my mom
Discussed where "roundabouts" came from (according to Victoria's teacher, they come from Canada)
Learned why Catholics include the obituary in their sympathy cards
Learned my brother doesn't know how to return a rental car at a small regional airport
Participated in the most beautiful funeral
Said goodbye to the most wonderful man this earth has ever known

Have a good week, y'all while I attempt to adjust to this extreme heat we've got going on down here!


FFF (x2) -- Top 10 Reasons Why I Want to Move Back to Wisconsin

**I started writing this back in April....so don't mind the comments about stupid Masters Traffic**

I've lived in Georgia for nearly 18 years, but I still don't consider it home.  Home, to me, will always be in Wisconsin.  I was 12 when we moved from Manitowoc, WI in 1997, and I still tell everybody that I want to move back home and that I'd move in a quick minute if the opportunity presented itself.  I'm not meant for the south...it's so damn hot here.  The high today is 90°.  That's outrageous for the beginning of April!  And the stupid Master's traffic...ugh!  The whole country (world?) has it's eyes on our city this week, and all the locals (who don't care about golf) are just waiting for the tourists to go back home.  I swear...nearly every accident that I had to narrowly avoid this week was caused by a Virginia driver.  I thought South Carolina and Florida drivers were bad...yikes, Virginia takes the cake on that one!

So without further ado, my top 10 reasons why I want to move back home!
(spoiler alert:  half of them are food!!)

10.  Fatzo's Sub and Pizza Shop in Two Rivers, WI (a few short miles from Manitowoc)
One of my favorite local places to eat at when I was a kid was right here.  Mommy always ordered me the Little Oscar with salami (summer sausage, as Wisconsinites call it) and I would eat the entire thing, no matter how full it made me.  They had the best bread and it was always so fresh tasting.  They've since opened a restaurant in Manitowoc, but I imagine I would still go to the one in TR, if only for sentimental reasons.

9.  Late's Diner
If you're not from the midwest, then you have no idea what these are.  These, my friends, are cheese curds.  They are curds of cheddar cheese (blocks of cheese are made by pressing curds together....like curds and whey...from Little Miss Muffett) that are breaded in a fine cornmeal and then deep fried until golden delicious.  Some people disagree with this, but I feel that they are best served with mayonnaise (Hellmans or Dukes, not Kraft).  Late's has, hands down, the BEST...let me repeat...B.E.S.T. cheese curds in town, quite possible the whole of the midwest, in my opinion.  They're so buttery and greasy and cheesy and awesome.  Sure, it's a heart attack in little paper container, but it'll be worth it!  Pair these little beauties with a butter burger and a chocolate malt (not shake, that's not what I said)...lunch of champions!!

8.  Cedar Crest Plant and Ice Cream Parlor
After you had your tasty cheese curds at Late's (or finished watching your brother's little league game at Red Arrow Park), you'd walk across the street to Cedar Crest to get some hand-dipped ice cream.  MMM.  This was the BEST ice cream there's ever been!  You can buy it in the stores up there, but I just remember going right to the source.  My favorites were the cotton candy ice cream and the orange sherbet that tasted like a Flintstone's push-up (do you remember those?!!).  Nothing down here in the south even comes close to this caliber of ice cream.  Of course...ice cream is always better when you know the milk they used for it is super fresh because it came from the dairy farm less than an hour way.  I remember those field trips to the dairy farm in elementary school...and then 5-cent milk cartons at lunch.  And yes...that's a big cow in the front.  And she's BIG...next time you see my dad, ask him how difficult it is to scale this thing!

7.  Lake Michigan
 Manitowoc is right on the coast of Lake Michigan.  As soon as the water was warm enough to stand (which, I seriously remember this water being warmer), we were in it.  There were many summer days that we spent at the beach....or asking to go to the beach.  If we stayed at Grandma's house, we got the pleasure of walking through the woods behind her house to get to the beach that wasn't covered in people.  Those were fun days!  Being a child, I was ignorant to the fact that not everybody has Lake Michigan in their backyard.    For those who've never seen Lake Michigan, (or any of the great lakes), it's like an ocean...you can't see across it...just endless water and sky.  Sometimes you like to think you can see clear across to Michigan, but you can't....it's nearly 60 miles away! When I first moved down here and I asked my new classmates how far it was to the beach, I almost lost my mind when they told me it was about 3 hours away!  Only having been to the ocean once in my lifetime, I didn't know that there was a difference between "going to the lake" and "going to the beach."  I understand the difference, now.  (I don't miss the smell of the dead alewife on the beach, though...blech!)

6.  Lincoln Park Zoo
In Lincoln Park there was a small zoo...a free zoo.  It was tiny (with some animal enclosures being more like cages), but still fun.  They had timber wolves, a buffalo, prairie dogs, deer, black bears, cougars, a bobcat (that I never did see), and some other various small animals.  My favorite part was always the lion bubbler (or drinking fountain, for you southern folks).  After all these years, it's still there!  Sure we have a large zoo in Columbia and one in Atlanta, but they require a car to get to....and they cost.  I remember MANY days when my friends and I (or just me) would skate down to Lincoln Park and, after exhausting ourselves skating around the park, we'd roll through the zoo and look at the animals before moving onto somewhere else in the city.  Looking at pictures online, they've apparently got (or recently had) a snow leopard!

5.  Sledding at Silver Creek Park

Being Wisconsin, the sledding opportunities were plentiful.  You could sled down into the football bowls at Wilson Junior High and Lincoln High School.  If you were brave enough, you could go down the stairs at both these bowls and be launched into the air after each set.  You could go down your street if you lived on a quiet side street.  You could go to the sand dunes (that were now covered with snow).  Or you could go to Silver Creek Park.  No, of course, I was small, so I remember this hill being much larger and much faster.  So much so that I remember my dad going down the hill, flying clear across the flat part, and then going over the ridge down into the frozen creek bed, where he got the wind knocked out of his lungs.  This was always my favorite place to go sledding...well, tubing, I guess, because I hated to use an actual plastic or wooden sled.  The walk back up the hill was brutal, but so worth it...as long as you did what daddy said and step with your feet sideways instead of straight forward.  I also seem to remember a hidden park back in the woods that us kids would go to in the summer...

4.  Winter
My family and I don't share the same opinion on this one!! All they talk about is the horrible shoveling...I remember the playing :)  I remember the cold and needing to be bundled up.  I remember coming in from recess and all of us kids stacking our gloves by the radiator.  I remember actually NEEDING hot chocolate and hot apple cider to get warm.  I remember needing to sleep in warm fuzzy socks and two blankets.  I remember making snow forts over at the elementary school with all the snow they plowed from the pavement.  Winter down here in Georgia sucks.  Sure, it gets chilly (not NEARLY as cold), but actual winter precipitation is rare.  When it does snow or, God forbid, ice, the entire area shuts down.  Schools will cancel if there is a 50% chance of snow.  Stores will suddenly sell out of things like cases of water and non-perishable foods.  It's cold for about two months, then gets warm again.  Not like back home...where I can remember putting on jacket before the fireworks started on 4th of July one year!  When you're cold, you can always put on more clothes, but here in the south...when it gets to be over 100°, there's nothing you can do with that.  Even the air conditioners at home rebel and won't cool past 76 or 78 in the summer.

3.  Beernsten's
I LOVED this place!  It's on 8th street and has been there since 1932.  I never pronounced it right, and I still don't.  It's a candy shop...and an ice cream shop...and a cafe.  You walk in the front door and you're greeted with the wonderful smell of homemade chocolate and candy.  On your right will be (or used to be anyway) the custom made chocolates...like the bowling ball and bowling pin made of solid chocolate...to scale!  They make their own ribbon candy...their own caramels....their own candy sticks (I LOVED those).  But then, in the back half of the building, is the cafe.  You can get all kinds of tasty sandwiches and soup (for cheap).  Or you can just go there for dessert, like I remember doing.  You can order a chocolate malt and then some homemade, fresh, ice cream.  My favorite was the Hog 'n Dog Sundae (FYI:  Two Rivers is the birthplace to the ice cream sundae....it was even on the Food Network).  This sundae was vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce on the bottom, chocolate sauce on top, whipped cream, and two solid pieces of chocolate:  one shaped like a pig and one shaped like a dog.

Manitowoc, Wisconsin average temperatures 
Augusta-Richmond County, Georgia average temperatures
2.  Summer
We've sort of been over this already, but I wasn't made for the south.  It's so damn hot here.  The bottom chart is the "Average" temperature for Augusta.  Now, anybody who lives here knows that is inaccurate.  The daily high of 90°+ actually spans from Mid-May (today is 5/8 and the high is 87 or 89 or something stupid like that) and goes until Mid September.  July and August, the temperatures can be well over 100°.  BUT BACK HOME (the top chart)...the temperatures are so much more reasonable.  The city RARELY sees 90°...and even if it did, there's always the caveat "cooler by the lake"....so 90 will feel like 85, which is much more reasonable.  I just hate how hot is is here.  This fat girl hates to sweat...it makes me cranky.

1.  Family
Most of my extended family is back home.  I miss them dearly...those pictured and those not pictured.  Some are having babies that I've never even met.  Other's are getting on in years and I don't have much time left to see them.  I love them dearly and think of them all the time....whether they're going through good times or bad...and I sincerely wish I was closer to them.  

Have a great weekend, folks!  
I'll be in my nice air-conditioned house not going outside because it's so damn hot.
And since we're talking about Wisconsin...this girl is ready for football season!  GO PACK GO!



Quick update on Dave first!  Today he's going for a follow-up CT scan (and is not too excited to have to drink that contrast again) and some labs.  Last night he was worried that the CT scan results would be bad and he'd have to start everything all over again.  I don't know what to do to help him not think that way.

And next week, he starts a new job with a new company that he's been wanting to work with for a few years now, so he's really excited about that.

Anywho, my mommy bought me my very first cast iron skillet and I'm BEYOND excited to try it out!!  Of course, Dave tried to use it in his favor when he reminded me that we could use it this weekend if I agreed to go camping.  That boy must've lost his mind!

Here are a few things I'm excited to make in my new skillet.  Enjoy :)

Cast Iron Chocolate Chip Cookie
original recipe >> here
This is the VERY FIRST thing I want to make with my new skillet!! Everybody knows I love to bake...and look at this giant cookie!  MMM!  Put some vanilla ice cream on top, let it melt, a little, and devour!  YUM!

skillet focaccia 7a 679x1024 One Hour Skillet Focaccia
Get recipe >> here
My favorite .... favorite.... bread at Panera Bread is the Asiago Focaccia.  I get it on every sandwich I get there (which, to be honest, is really just one sandwich over and over and over again).  Now...I can make it at home!  Well, almost anyway...but still, I can make my own focaccia.  So when I figure out how to make my chicken salad taste like their Napa Almond Chicken Salad, I'll have the perfect sandwich....at home!  I can't wait!

baked macroni and cheese
Baked Macaroni and Cheese >> recipe here
I do love mac and cheese...and making mac and cheese in a cast iron skillet means only two dishes:  the one to cook the pasta and the one for everything else.  Win win!

Old Fashioned Sugar Cake-no icing needed for this light and flavorful cake!
Recipe >> here
I've had this cake recipe sitting on my Pinterest for FOREVER...just waiting for me to get a cast iron skillet.  Can't wait to finally be able to make this simple (no frosting required) sugar cake!

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Pizza Nachos. Guest post by Maria Lichty of Two Peas and Their Pod, recipe submitted by TK member Dax Phillips of Simple Comfort Food.
Skillet Nachos >> recipe here
The actual recipe is for Pizza Skillet Nachos...but seriously, you can use whatever nacho toppings you want, like leftover shredded beef or pork from a crock pot meal, or that last chicken breast that you didn't want to take for lunch because you had nothing to go with it.  The idea of nachos cooked in a skillet in the oven reminds me of the super tasty nachos we used to get at Rooster Beak before it closed ...sad face.  Now I have another thing to plan for dinner...even Aria eat's nachos (if they're not spicy).

Do you have a cast iron skillet?  What's your favorite thing to make in it?