Sunday, August 31, 2014

My Nephew's Beautiful Country Wedding

This weekend I had the joy of attending my nephew's beautiful country wedding. My son was a groomsman so we went down for the rehearsal the night before and had a really fun time hanging out with family as well as getting to know the bride's family a bit more.

The weather was perfect for a wedding, not too hot and not stormy. We were all entertained during the rehearsal by this darling little dachshund, you can see Sarah is quite happy to be holding this cutie.

After the rehearsal we drove back home, the roads are beautiful between my town and the town my sister lives in, both towns are right in the valley and about an hour and a half apart via country roads. One thing we saw on the way up to the wedding site was the most interesting driveway guarded by some very cool metal dinosaurs, what a neat thing to come across out in the woods!

The morning of the wedding we made our way back to the wedding, and it must have been field burning day because multiple farmers along the way were burning their fields, I got some interesting photos, but I really liked this one. There are a number of interesting small towns along the way with really interesting old buildings, one of these days I need to go exploring some of the shops and buildings we saw along the way.

When we arrived at the wedding site it had been transformed into a beautiful country wedding. The colors were peach and beige with lots of natural elements like burlap, crafts made of barn wood, and mason jars. There were pretty twinkle lights strung around the trees and gazebo and they looked really pretty once the sun started going down. I really loved the ring toss that was set out for the kids to play, there were even little s'mores packets that the bride put together and had sitting by the fire pit. All around a very nice, hand crafted wedding, I could tell a lot of time, effort, and thought went into it. :)

Soon it was time for the wedding to start, the bridesmaid's and maid of honor's outfits were very pretty, and I loved how they wore their hair. The Groom and all the groomsmen were of course dashing, my son walked down with his cousin Lola, both of the groom's sisters were bride's maids.

Here is the groom waiting with the officiant for the bride, seems like just yesterday that all the kids were little, and now they are all growing up. Ian, my nephew, is a really wonderful young man, and it was really special to be there for his wedding. I have to admit, I was definitely a little teary eyed! In fact I'm a little teary eyed writing this post! :)

Soon the bride was walked down the aisle by her father and the wedding began. I love how the ceremony took place out on the bridge over the pond, it was very beautiful.

The ceremony was sweet and traditional. The bride and groom's parents put notes of encouragement into a box for Ian and Nicole to read in the future.

They exchanged their rings.

The ceremony finished with a very sweet kiss. Both the bride and groom seemed very happy. :)

After they walked off they shared a hug and a sweet moment, it was so touching, another happy tear moment for sure! Everyone had a wonderful meal of picnic style foods delicious wraps and sandwiches, cheeses, fruits, perfect food for a summer day, then it was time to cut the cake.

The wedding speeches were very touching everyone did a wonderful job! Here is my sister and my brother-in-law, parents of the groom, they both looked great and I'm sure were very proud of their son. :)

Everyone seemed to be having a great time, the bride and groom left for their honeymoon just as the sun was setting. Overall an amazing and happy day! Congratulations Ian and Nicole!

Chicken Broccoli Casserole and Chocolate Bar Pie

I recently tried out a new casserole inspired by the classic green bean casserole that my family loves during the holidays. What we really love about green bean casserole are the delicious French's French Fried Onions, so I new these onions would be a tasty addition to a casserole. This Chicken Broccoli Casserole turned out great and everyone loved it.

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Roughly 1 pound or so of cooked boneless skinless chicken breast meat chopped into bite size pieces ( I saute or bake about 8-10 frozen boneless skinless chicken tenderloins)
1 regular sized bag frozen broccoli very lightly steamed and drained, just enough to thaw it out, you could also use fresh chopped broccoli
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 soup can's worth of milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups French's French Fried Onions
Prepared steamed rice around 4-6 cups depending on how many you are serving.

Stir together soup and milk, add cooked chicken, broccoli, cheese, and 1 cup of fried onions (we love these onions so my cup was a rounded generous cup), add pepper to taste. Stir casserole thoroughly, add a splash more milk if needed. Bake at 350 F. covered, for about half an hour or until broccoli is tender and casserole is bubbly, remove cover, top with remaining half cup of fried onions, and bake for an additional five minutes until onions are warmed and golden. Serve over hot steamed rice. This is an easy and tasty casserole, definitely in the comfort food category!

This next recipe I came across a few times on Pinterest and it was so easy and looked so yummy I thought it would be fun to try.

Chocolate Bar Pie - This is super easy to make, just melt 6 regular Hershey's Chocolate Bars in a double boiler (I just use a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water) make sure the chocolate is thoroughly melted, it goes quicker if you break the chocolate bars up into smaller pieces, meanwhile empty a whole 8 oz. tub of completely thawed Cool Whip into a mixing bowl, when the chocolate is completely melted pour it over the cool whip and stir to thoroughly combine, then transfer the filling to a graham cracker crust. Chill for around 4-5 hours, I put it in the freezer for the first hour to speed up the setting process, then put it back in the fridge for a couple of hours.

This pie is super rich and dangerously easy to make, it was perfect for summer because it didn't require turning on the oven, but I will also be making this for the holidays because it is so yummy! :)

I am very excited for September, I love the arrival of fall, and the "back to school" season. This last week of August has been very busy, we had a wonderful time at my nephew's wedding, I will share about that a bit in an upcoming post, we have been into town a few times getting school supplies and new school clothes, and I have been busy with multiple home organization projects so we have a smooth start to the new school year. I am looking forward to my favorite time of year!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Happy 20th Anniversary!

Today me and my wonderful hubby Gary are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary! :) A few years back I wrote a blog post about our wedding story which you can read here, today I was going through our wedding album and reminiscing and thought I would share some more photos.

Our wedding was simple and perfect for us, we passed out cameras to guests and ended up with lots of fun pictures. I love this picture of us, both happy and excited for our big day.

Our honeymoon was so fun, we were both quite adventurous and chose to camp all around the state, what wonderful memories, we had so much fun exploring and spending time in nature. Oregon is just an amazing place to live! One of our stops was at Wallowa Lake in northeast Oregon, the deer were so tame they mingled among the campers, it was amazing getting so close to these beautiful deer!

I look forward to many more years exploring and enjoying time with Gary and the family we have made.

Later this week we will be heading back to our reception location for a picnic and a day at the river. We had our reception with friends and family after we returned from our honeymoon, we rented a covered area at one of our favorite parks, Oxbow Park, and had cake and a simple picnic type buffet. We decorated very simply ourselves with my sister and her hubby, and set up the food ourselves as well.

Here we are serving cake to everyone. I love the down home simplicity of it all, it was the perfect setting, out in the woods along a beautiful river, we hired a Celtic folk band to play beautiful music, and I couldn't have asked for a nicer day.

I am really looking forward to heading back to this park, we haven't been in years, I was an Outdoor school camp counselor at a camp near Oxbow Park back in both high school and junior college, and I used to know the trails like the back of my hand, it will be interesting to see what has changed.

It amazes me that it has been 20 years already, time sure flies!! Yesterday we celebrated our anniversary with a nice day out and a wonderful meal. On Sunday we took the kids to see the movie The Giver, which was amazing and a very thought provoking movie, I look forward to watching it again when it comes out on DVD. Then last night Gary and I went to see The Hundred-Foot Journey, amazing movie, both Gary and I really enjoyed it, what a treat!

Happy 20th Anniversary Gary, I love you, and look forward to all of our future adventures!!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Summer 2014 Garden Update

August is just flying by for our family, we have been busy with fun summer outings as well as preparing for back to school, and it is hard to believe the month is half over and school is just around the corner! The weather around here the last few days has been cloudy and a bit stormy, as much as I love the summer, this weather is making me eager for the cool crisp sunny fall days just around the corner!

Since I have been distracted by various projects around the house I haven't spent as much time doting over my garden this year, however, despite my neglect, the garden has been providing us with a nice supply of veggies. This week we have begun harvesting the peppers and zucchini. Time for Jalapeno poppers, stuffed green peppers, and zucchini bread! :)

The sedum have been pretty all month with their pink blossoms, it really livens up the rock garden!

Our garden is host to many critters, and as a certified backyard habitat, we welcome and encourage these interesting visitors. We always have lots of praying mantis and little green frogs. :)

The birdseed has once again been growing around the base of the feeders, and the grains always look so pretty I let a few grow into the fall, the day lilies are still flowering daily, and I had a nice surprise of finding snapdragon volunteers in multiple spots around the garden, some I left right where they were, and others I used to fill some empty flower pots.

The super moon was stunning this past week, I love the rich harvesty colors that start showing up this time of year, the blanket flowers I planted this summer have put on a show all summer long with their bright orange and yellow flowers, definitely a new favorite plant for me!

The weather was clear yesterday and the whole family spent time out in the garden, weeding, tidying, and harvesting veggies, I am looking forward to harvesting a few more green beans, lots more zucchini and peppers, and hopefully we will get a few pumpkins. We are looking forward to a couple more weeks of summer fun, then the start of a new school year. :)