Sunday, September 13, 2015

Nutella Brownies

Dear lordy, has it really been almost three months since I blogged? 

That's embarrassing. Really embarrassing. But then again, I am hoping ya'll can forgive me because I've been exhausted from last semester (I still feel like I am trying to catch up on sleep), work has been crazy (but good!) and I've also been planning my wedding. On top of that, we are still working on our house and my last year of grad school started. I guess you could say that I've been a little busy. Nevertheless, I have still made time for cooking and baking, but you already knew that. So get ready. Here we go!

I will be the first to admit that there hasn't been a brownie that I have met and didn't like. And trust me, I've eaten and made a lot of brownies in my lifetime. Here are just some of the ones I have made:
  • Ghiradelli brownies (only the best boxed brownie ever - and my sister would agree!)
  • Protein Brownies (made with PB2!)
  • Cadberry creme egg brownies (layered with creme egg filling and topped with chocolate!)
  • Knock you naked brownies (a bunch of caramel and a surprise ingredient make these over the top)
  • Salted caramel brownies (there is something about that salt!)
  • Raspberry truffle brownies (there are chocolate truffles folded right into the batter - dangerous!)
  • Cookie dough stuffed brownies (enough said)
  • German chocolate brownies - (like your favorite cake, but in brownie form!)
  • Irish creme brownies (not just for St. Patty's day!)
  • Espresso brownies (don't eat these late at night!)
  • Brownies made in the crock pot (yes, you heard me right - crock pot!)
  • Roasted cherry brownies (seriously, so good!)
  • Black bean brownies (you'd never know they were made with beans)
That's all I can remember for now, but I am sure there are more. I told you I like brownies. You can make them in so many forms, there is a brownie for everyone! 

I recently came across a coupon sent by one of my local grocery stores for $2.00 off a jar of Nutella. I first contemplated even buying it. Why you may ask? Well, every time I opened the pantry, that jar would be saying, "eat me, Christina, eat meeeee!". As long as the jar isn't opened, I am good, but still, there are some days where I just want to stick a spoon in there. For all of you that have had Nutella, you know what I am talking about. I knew that $2.00 coupon was too good to waste and since it was already on sale, I had to get a jar. Seemed like a logical reason to me, no? Then came the hard part - what to make with it. Of course you can eat it right from the jar (which I am sure most people do), but I wanted to try to add it to something. And not just slapping it on to a piece of warm toast. Boy does that sound good though.

It finally came to me - Nutella brownie. Duh. Why did not think of this sooner?! Especially considering I had a bite of one just a few weeks ago. So good! These are a must make. Especially if you can avoid eating the whole jar of Nutella with a spoon. And no, I don't do that. Maybe just a spoonful or two. Maybe. Maybe not. 

Nutella Brownies (Just Add Sprinkles)

  • 8 ounces Semi Sweet Chocolate (chips or if you use a bar, chop it up!)
  • 1/2 cup Butter, cut into chunks (makes for easier melting!)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3  Eggs 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup  Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8x8 inch or 9x9 inch baking dish with parchment paper (or non-stick foil), set aside.

  • Using a microwave (or double boiler, if you want) on low setting, combine chopped semi sweet chocolate and butter. Allow chocolate and butter to melt completely, stirring regularly to get the chocolate and butter to fully combine. Once chocolate mixture is completely melted and combined, stick chocolate in the fridge (keep it in the same bowl) for a few minutes to cool the chocolate.

  • In a separate bowl, combine cocoa powder, flour and salt. Whisk or sift ingredients together so there are no clumps of dry ingredients. Set aside.

  • Remove chocolate mixture from fridge. Add in sugar, mixing until thoroughly combined. Chocolate may be gritty from sugar. Add in eggs and vanilla extract, mixing completely. Slowly add in dry mixture and continue stirring. Batter should pull away from the sides of the bowl as it thickens up. Add in Nutella and fold it into the batter until fully combined. Be patient, this may take a few minutes and arm muscles!

  • Pour batter into the prepared baking dish and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes. Brownies are down when a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Brownies may seem super soft but will set as they cool. Allow at least 20-30 minutes of cooling time before serving and remember, these brownies are extremely moist, thick & fudgy (the best kind of brownie!). When ready to serve lift up sides of the parchment paper and transfer to a cool surface to cut into squares. 

  • Want to take these brownies to the next level? Serve them with vanilla ice cream, chocolate drizzle and fresh berries. YUM!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake Cookies

As soon as I laid eyes on these Texas chocolate sheet cake cookies, I knew I had to make them. In fact, I could not get them off my mind. I'm not even kidding. One of my favorite bloggers, Christina Lane over at Dessert for Two, posted a picture of her making these on her Instagram page and I was hooked. Like, I ran to the kitchen, made sure I had everything to make them (of course I did) and starting whipping them out. I kid you not. I don't joke around about cookies. Especially chocolaty cookies. Chocolaty cake like cookies with thick chocolate icing. Oh my my. 

These cookies could not be easier or faster to make. They may be the bestest, fastest cookie ever! Don't trust me. Well fine then. You'll be missing out and don't come crying to me. Was that mean? My bad. Nevertheless, to make these cookies, you'll just need a few simple pantry staples - butter, flour, salt, an egg, baking powder, vanilla and chocolate chips. See, told you. Simple. You'll also need powdered sugar, milk, cocoa powder and a dab of butter for the ooey gooey icing. I am literally salivating just thinking about it. To start on the cookies, you cream the sugar and butter (just like any other cookie recipe), add the egg and all the other ingredients. Lastly, you'll drizzle in the melted chocolate. At this point, the batter will be thick. You'll want to take a big spoon to it, but please try to resist. It will be all gone if you start. Trust me. You'll scoop out the batter (I used my 1.5 tablespoon scoop, but you can use whatever scoop you have or just eyeball it) and bake for 7-8 minutes. It's VERY important to not over bake these cookies. You want them to look just about set and then pull them out. If you cook them any longer, they will be dry. And no one likes dry cookies. 

Once the cookies are all made and cooled, now it's time for the icing. It's almost as easy to make as the cookies, if not easier. I was not kidding when I told you these cookies were easy to make. Here goes the frosting. In a medium size pan, combine the butter, cocoa powder and milk over medium heat. Once everything is melted together and mixed well, stir in the powdered sugar until combined. You'll want to eat this with a spoon too, but again, try to resist. Remove the pan from the heat and drop spoonfuls of the frosting over each cookie. As you drop the icing on, the cookies should be coated as it drips over the top. Oh so good! The cookies take a bit to set up, but once they do, they are amazing. They are tender, cakey (but not dry!) and that icing just takes them over the top. I can't even begin to explain how good they are. You just have to make them for yourself to find out. Once you do, you'll be hooked like I am.

Texas Sheet Cake Cookies (Cookies and Cups and Dessert for Two)

Makes approximately 20 cookies


½ cup butter, room temperature 
⅓ cup granulated sugar 
1 egg 
1 tsp vanilla 
1 tsp baking powder
 ½ tsp salt 
1⅓ cup flour 
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted 


 ½ cup butter
 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
 3 Tbsp milk
 2½ cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350° 

Line baking sheet with parchment or silicone mat, set aside. In bowl of stand mixer beat butter and sugar together until light, scraping sides frequently. Add in egg and vanilla and continue mixing until incorporated. Mix in baking powder and salt. Turn mixer to low and slowly add in flour. Dough will be thick. In a microwave safe bowl heat chocolate chips on high in 30 second increments until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds. Mix melted chocolate directly into cookie dough until evenly mixed.  Drop dough by a measured tablespoonish sized mounds onto baking sheet. Bake for 7­-8 minutes until cookies just appear set. They will still be very soft on the inside. DO NOT over bake!! Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

In a medium saucepan combine butter, cocoa powder and milk over medium heat, whisking until melted together. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar. Pour icing over cookies and allow icing to set before serving. Enjoy!

Everything is bigger better in Texas. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Great Grandma's Mandarin Cake

A couple of weeks ago, my mom, sister and I set out on an adventure to visit my grandma and great grandma in New Mexico. It was kind of a last minute trip, but I was so excited to go - not only because school was done for the semester, but to see family who I had not seen in over 15 years. Ya, I know that's bad and far too long to not see your grandma or great grandma. Nevertheless, the trip was just a few short days, but we got lots of family time in, took lots of pictures and saw a lot of long roads in New Mexico - it was a three and half hour drive to where they lived from the Albuquerque airport! 

Besides hearing all the great stories my great grandma told us, I knew I had to ask her - what is your favorite dessert. I knew she love (and I mean LOVES ice cream), but I knew there had to be something else. As soon as I asked her, she stated without hesitation, mandarin cake! I had no idea what in the world that was. Of course I could guess. A cake with mandarins, right? Well, I was partially right. Great grandma didn't have a recipe, but she knew exactly what was in it. I looked it up on my phone, because that's how I look up everything these days, and bam. There is was. Mandarin cake. Just how she described it and all of the ingredients she mentioned. Darn is she good. And boy was she shocked on how I could find it in just a few seconds. Thank you iPhone.

Now, I am about to tell you all about this recipe and how to make it. Be warned - it comes from boxes and cans. I was kind of against it at first, considering how I like to make things from scratch, but I knew I couldn't fight it. I had to make it the same way great grandma had made it. Here is what you'll need:

1. One box of yellow cake mix

2. Eggs and oil
3. A can of mandarin oranges
4. A can of crushed pineapple
5. A large container of Cool Whip
6. One box instant (must be instant!) vanilla pudding

See what I mean by the ingredients. Boxes and cans. But, I guess that's how they did it in the 50's! The best part about this cake (besides it tasting so good!) it's literally dump and go. Seriously! You mix the yellow cake mix, eggs, oil and whole can of mandarins (juice and all - no draining here). At this point, you can make it easy on yourself and just pour in to a 9x13 pan or, if you want to get fancy, into two 9 inch cake rounds. No matter how you bake it, the cake will be just as delicious. Once the cake is baked and cooled, you then whip up the "frosting". You dump the can of crushed pineapple (juice and all!) into a bowl and then mix in the vanilla pudding. The most important part here is that you must let it sit for at least five minutes. This will allow the pudding and pineapple juices to do their thing. AKA thicken up. If you leave it for a little longer, that is fine too. Once you've let it sit for about five minutes, then fold in the cool whip. Just make sure the cool whip is soft and has defrosted in the fridge. You can not mix it all in smoothly if it's still frozen. Just a heads up. The "frosting" will be a bit soft and loose, but don't worry, you didn't do anything wrong. That's how it should be! If you are frosting a 9x13 pan, just spread it all on over the top. If you are frosting the two rounds, put some in the middle, top with the other round and then cover the whole thing up with the rest. There may be extra frosting left over, but that's okay. you don't have to use it all. And if there is extra, it goes really well as a dip for nilla wafers or graham crackers. I did not just tell you that.

The only hard part about this cake is the waiting. Once you've frosted it, the cake must go to the fridge to chill and firm up for at least two hours or overnight. I say overnight is best, but if you want to dig in after two hours, by all mean, you go for it. This cake is so simple to make and everyone (and I mean everyone) has raved about it. I've made it two times in the past week and people go crazy for it. It's light, slightly fruity and so delicious. Next time you are looking for a quick and easy cake or something to bring to that summer get together, keep this cake in mind. You won't regret it and your friends and family will love you for it!

Mandarin Cake (the one, the only, Great Grandma)

10 oz box of yellow cake mix
11 oz can mandarin oranges, with juice 
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
16 oz container of frozen whipped topping, such as Cool Whip
20 oz can crushed pineapple, with juice
3.4 oz box of instant vanilla pudding (not cook and serve!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Great and flour (or use non-stick spray!) two 9 inch cake pans or one 9x13 baking pan. In a mixing bowl, combine cake mix, mandarin oranges (and juice, don't drain!), eggs and oil. Mix well for two minutes and then pour in to your desired baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. If using 9 inch cake pans, cool for five minutes and then turn out cakes on a cooling rack. If using a 9x13 pan, let cake fully cool in pan.

While the cake is cooling, mix the canned pineapple (juice and all!) and vanilla pudding mix. Let the mixture sit for five minutes to allow it all to thicken up. After five minutes, gently fold in the whipped topping. Just make sure it's defrosted so it's easy to mix in. You'll have too many lumps if you try to fold it in frozen. Once the frosting is ready, frost the cake as desired. Once the cake is frosted, place it in the fridge for at least two hours, or even better overnight, to firm up and let the flavors combine. Enjoy!

I am willing to bet that this cake will become a summer favorite!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Weeknight Bolognese

I recently came across this weeknight bolognese recipe while looking through my stack of cookbooks trying to find something new to make for dinner. Hello Barefoot Contessa! Her cookbooks are the best, especially her "How Easy is That?" cookbook. If you don't have it, you should definitely should. Ryan is always challenging me to use my cookbooks (since I have so many and I keep buying more, oops), but sometimes I just get stuck in the rut of making the same thing or a slightly different version of something I have made before. Although those are all great meals, they can get boring over and over again. At least I think so. Here comes weeknight bolognese to the dinner rut rescue! This dish takes about thirty minutes to make from start to finish, yet your family or friends will think you spent hours making it. Trust me here. It's that good. This dish starts off with browning ground beef (simple, right?) and then adding in garlic, oregano, and wine to get all those brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Still simple, right? Don't let those brown bits go to waste! You'll then stir in tomatoes and tomato paste and let simmer for just a few minutes. Just don't drink all the wine before you get to making the dish. I know that can happen. And no, I did not do that. At least not this time.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a pot of water to boil (with plenty of salt - just think salty like the ocean!) so that you can cook your noodles while you finish the bolognese. Once the mixture has simmered and the flavors have started to come together, add a splash of cream, a little more wine and fresh chopped basil to the sauce. Let the sauce simmer a little more while the pasta finishes cooking and then toss both the sauce and the pasta together. Oh, and don't forget to mix in some fresh parmi cheese too. That totally makes the dish. Not that it wasn't amazing before. This just makes it that much better. I promise.

The best part about this 30 minute meal is that you can make this any day of the week. Just because it says "weeknight", doesn't mean you can't make it on the weekend. Just saying. I have been known to make this during the week and on the weekend. I've made it for just Ryan and I and I've made it for family and friends when they come over. It's so versatile! Serve this pasta dish with a simple salad and big glass of red wine and you are good to go. Simple. Easy. Delicious. Keep this recipe in your back pocket for those times when you need a quick and easy, super yummy dish in under 30 minutes!

I bet you wish the screen was scratch and sniff.

Weeknight Bolognese (Barefoot Contessa)

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. lean ground beef 
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1¼ cups dry red wine, divided
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 lb. dried pasta (I love
Pinch of ground nutmeg
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving!

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Crumble the ground meat into the pan.  Cook until no longer pink and starting to brown, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add 1 cup of the wine to the pan and stir, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt, a splash of oil, and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the box.
  • While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining ¼ cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and ½ cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.
So easy. So delicious. How easy was that?!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Red Wine Brownies

These red wine brownies are the richest, fudgiest (is this even a word?) brownies you will ever have. I am not kidding you. I recently had half a bottle of red wine left over from making another recipe (weeknight bolognese coming soon!) and I needed to do something with it. Of course I could have had a glass or two of wine, but you know me. I wanted to cook something with it! Call me strange, but it's true. I've had my eye on red wine and chocolate cupcakes, but I just didn't want to have a dozen cupcakes calling my name and saying "eat meeee". Because I would so eat them. I'd eat them all. Okay, not all of them, but more than I should have. I have a wedding dress to fit in for peets sake.

These brownies are a nice change from your favorite brownie. There is just something about the wine and chocolate that make you go "hmmm". You don't really know it's there (unless you told someone), but there is something different about them. Good different, of course. They are super easy to mix up for a quick dessert or if you are craving brownies, but they are fancy enough for a special occasion or to give away as a gift. You know me, I am always gifting treats and one that has wine, even better! Just make sure you do not over bake these. If you do, they lose their fudgy goodness and be a little dry. No one wants a dry brownie. At least I don't. I'm sure you don't either. The next time you are looking for a super yummy (and quick and easy!) dessert, promise me you'll try these. Red wine + chocolate = heaven.

Red Wine Brownies (Butter Me Up Brooklyn)

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup red wine
2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (mini or regular can be used)
For the glaze:
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons red wine
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter an 8×8 pan and spray with non stick spray or line with nonstick foil. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate and the butter together in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugars and vanilla. Whisk in the chocolate mixture and then the wine. Add the flour, cocoa powder and salt and stir until the batter is smooth and has thickened slightly. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a tester comes out mostly clean with just a few crumbs attached. You may need to bake the brownies for a few minutes more, but set your timer for 15 minutes and then hang out in your kitchen for the last few minutes of baking time just to make sure they don’t over bake. An under baked brownie is better than an over baked one.
While the brownies are baking make the glaze. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water until melted. Add the butter, wine and salt and whisk until smooth. Pour the glaze over the warm brownies and spread it to the corners so the top is evenly coated. Cool completely and enjoy!

These red wine brownies will change your life.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Parmesan & Thyme Crackers

Making your own crackers may seem like a daunting task, but I promise it is not. Especially when it comes to these little parmesan and thyme crackers. I was going through all the cookbooks in my kitchen looking for something fun and exciting to make, and came across this cracker recipe. I knew it might not be the best idea to make (considering I would probably eat all of them in one sitting - I'll be the first to admit, I have no self control), but since some friends would be coming over for dinner, I thought they would make a nice little nibbly bit for them while I was making dinner. Plus, these crackers take only five minutes to whip up and they only take just a few ingredients - many of which are probably already in your kitchen. 

All you will need to make these crackers is flour, butter, parmesan cheese, thyme, black pepper and salt. See super simple, right? I would have told you if it was complicated. You literally mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl until combined. No extra bowls needed here! Once everything is combined, you'll want to place the mixture on a piece of plastic wrap, roll into a log and then place in the fridge to firm up. You can place this in the freezer to speed this part of the process up, but just don't forget it about it in there. You'll never cut through that frozen butter and cheese without cutting yourself. Trust me. It's not safe. Once the cracker log has chilled, you will want to cut it all up in to cracker like sizes, about 1/2 an inch thick. There is no specific way to do this, but just don't go too thick or too thin. Especially not too thin. Then your crackers will burn. Burnt crackers are not yummy crackers. Especially burnt cheese crackers! Unless you are in to that kind of thing.

Bake these little cheese delights at 350 degrees for 22 minutes and your house will smell better than it ever has before. No joke. As the crackers bake, your home be filled with the most heavenly cheesy aroma. Yikes. I am starting to salivate. These crackers are so easy to make and so impressive. People will really think you spent all day making them. Little do they know that they were a piece of cake cheese to make. These crackers make a great little snack or a great homemade gift (especially when you give them with a bottle of wine!). Just try not to eat them all in one sitting. Trust me, you'll be able to if you aren't careful. They are that deliciously addictive.

making homemade crackers is my new favorite thing!

Parmesan & Thyme Crackers (Ina Garten)

¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1¼ cups all-purpose flour

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, add the Parmesan, thyme, salt, and pepper and combine. With the mixer still on low, add the flour and combine until the mixture is in large crumbles, about 1 minute. If the dough is too dry, add 1 teaspoon water.
Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 9-inch log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the log into 3/8-inch-thick rounds with a small, sharp knife and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 22 minutes, until very lightly browned. Cool and serve at room temperature. Enjoy!

If you thought Cheez-Its were good, get ready for these!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Where Have You Been Lately?

Well, what can I say - I have been MIA since the end of November with not even a blog post in sight. You all have probably been wondering where the heck I ran off to or what has been going on in my life. I really should have posted something sooner to let you know I would be taking a few months off my blog, but life got so incredibly busy that I just never had the time. Oops. So, you want to know what has been keeping me away from blogging and sharing fabulous recipes with you? Here we go!

As many of you know, I am currently working full time and perusing my MBA in Finance. Working full time and going to school is definitely not easy, but taking three classes this semester (instead of two) is a whole other ball game. Let me tell you. I don't even know how I find time to try out new recipes, but of course, I do. My typical days goes something like this - up at 5:30am, study before I leave for work, work from 7am to 4:30pm then class 6-9pm and finally home, showered and in bed by 10pm. Repeat that three days a week. Holy moly! Not to mention I am the girl at work who spends a lot of her lunches working on homework or catching up on reading at her desk. Plus, weekends are typically booked with group projects on campus or working on other school related items. At least the groups I have been working with make projects fun, so it's not too terrible spending all of Sunday in the library. But see, I told you there wasn't much time for anything else. The good news is, the semester is over in three weeks and I will be back and blogging. My phone is full of fabulous photos and I can't wait to share some of the things I have been making. My groups this semester have been sampling all of these goodies - they are taste tested and approved! I know you will love them too.

Let's see. What else happened. Oh, some rather sad news, but it's another reason why I have been kind of MIA. At the end of September, my first ever dog passed away, Lucy. Last February, Ryan and I adopted an older black lab mix from the local SPCA. Even though she ate parts of the house (boy oh boy did she have separation anxiety) we worked though it all and she was such an amazing girl. Lucy loved to play ball (especially with soccer balls, although she would end up popping them after a throw or two), swim until she was exhausted and of course, chasing squirrels and always be around you. She was the sweetest dog you'd ever meet and she loved everyone! Sadly, five months after we adopted her, she was diagnosed with bone cancer. Due to the speed in which her cancer was progressing, there wasn't much we could do other than spend another few weeks with her and keep her as comfortable as possible. Those next few weeks weren't easy and boy was it hard to let her go (I never knew how much you could fall in love with a dog in such a short period of time), but it was the best thing we could do for her. Lucy is no longer in pain and she is now in a place where she can run free and always look after us. She will always have a very special place in our hearts and we think about her often. We love you Lucy girl!

Okay, enough sad stuff. I promise, there is no more of that in this post - promise! Ryan and I are continuing to work on our house (it's a never ending project with our busy schedules), but something BIG happened in early February of this year. WE ARE GETTING MARRIED! I know that some of you know this story, but for those that don't, hold on tight. Let me tell you what happened. Seven years ago, Ryan attempted to fly me to Boonville for a romantic lunch. Not more than 10 minutes up in the air did I get sick all over. Like missed the bag and got it all over me. Not romantic. I kinda forgot to tell him I have a little motion sick issue. Oops. Seven years later, he tried to take me to Boonville again and this time, I made it! And even better, I got a sparkly surprise when we landed. I had no idea this was even coming, despite one of my coworkers having a feeling it might happen. I was just glad I landed and did not get sick! Since that day, we have been wedding planning like crazy. Between working all day and school all night, it doesn't leave much time to book DJ's, rentals or find a caterer. We've picked our place and date and October 17th can't come fast enough. Especially now that I've found the dress. Yes, yes, I said "yes to the dress!".

So, that about covers it all. Work, school, and wedding planning. Life for this girl has always been a little crazy, but this year, it's a lot more so. One more year until graduation. Six months until I'm married. A lifetime full of laughter, love and friendship ahead. Thank you to everyone that has supported me though all the ups and downs these last six months have brought me. I could not have made it through everything with out my friends, family and most importantly, my fiance (I can't believe I get to call him that now!!).