Even a Visit to the DMV is Fun

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Neal and I have had the opportunity to have some amazing moments.  From traveling to Ireland to seeing the sights of Washington…we have countless photos of amazing memories that I can happily take to the bank.

What about the day to day moments?  Or even the most dreaded tasks?  How do Neal and I handle the mundane tasks? Last week, I found out.

You see, my driver’s license is set to expire this year (yes for my big 3-0 birthday) and Neal was a good sport and tagged along at the DMV while I renewed my license.  Just to give you an idea of the length of our wait: I pulled number 151 while the tag was on 131.  With multiple lines and people who seemed to have been waiting for what seemed like days (you can just tell at the DMV) who knew how we would handle waiting in the worst place possible.   Well… an hour of waiting, we were still smiles and laughs as I walked out with my new driver’s license.  (Yes, Neal’s tablet PC helped… but we joked, people watched and actually had a great time passing the time.)

It’s nice to know that one of the worst tasks on the “To Do” list can be made better (or at least bearable) next to Neal.

Photo Challenge of the Week: Sunset

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The photo challenge for this week was one I could sink my teeth into: Sunsets.

The first three were shot over the expansive Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.

 

This was shot by Neal this past summer in Seattle.  Fab.  Just fab.

I snapped this picture on Waikiki beach almost five years ago and it is still one of my favorite travel images to date.

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Successful Snaps of the Camera

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Today, Neal and I took a brave step into the unknown…. of wedding photography that is.  You see no matter how much you plan, you really have no idea how a photography session will go: from weather to chemistry with your photographer;lots of little things can hiccup.  Add the pressure of one of you having to leave in just eight days and with 5,000 miles apart, and it can be one stressful situation.

I am happy to say that Neal and I walked away from our engagement shoot with Kayleen Huffman more than happy and satisfied.  Combined with our pre-planning and her professional eye, we feel very confident that it was a successful use of our afternoon.

During the session, not only did Neal and I have fantastic photos captured we also began to build a rapport, relationship and trust with our wedding photographer.  This, my friends is 100% critical.  You have to be okay with this person capturing intimate glances and moments between you and your beloved.  There can’t be any weirdness, awkwardness or mistrust.  I am happy to say that Neal and I feel beyond at ease with Kayleen during our entire shoot

My biggest tip for engagement session planning brides: PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!  Look at the big picture from lighting to outfits, to location to props… even what poses look good. (Check Pinterest for ideas).  Ultimately this is your engagement session… and you will only do it once.  (Or at least, that is what Neal kept reminding me.)  With that in mind make sure it is just how you want it.

I am also excited that she told us that some of the images will be ready to view this WEEK!  I cannot wait to see how some of them turned out.

The Great Cooking Update: Part One

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With Neal now in town, I have begun to test different recipes that I have mentioned in previous posts, especially those that highlight delicious fall flavors.

My first recipes to attempt was: Pumpkin Muffins.  This was a super simple recipes that called for yellow cake mix with pumpkin mix.  To kick the flavors up a notch, I added a 1/4 teaspoon of the following: allspice, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Also, I added about a 1/2 cup of coconut for texture.

Two ingredients.... Yes, just two!

Cream Cheese Frosting

For a bit of sweetness, I pulled together a homemade (of course) cream cheese frosting.  This I made up and was pretty simple: cream cheese, lemon juice and sugar.

Finished Muffins

Neal wasn’t too keen on the idea of cheese as a frosting.  In fact he grimaced a bit.  I however, loved them…and they are perfect for upcoming fall mornings.

For Satuday night’s dinner, I decided to take a crack at the Stuffed Bell Peppers.  This was especially fun, because Neal and I made the dinner together as if it was the most normal thing in the whole wide world.  (When in fact, it’s something we rarely get to do.)

This was another pretty simple recipe, and easily convertible into being vegetarian.  Instead of using a sausage for the stuffing, I subbed it with mushrooms.

Filling & Peppers

Onions, Mushrooms, Peppers and Garlic (the Stuffing)

Before going into the oven....

Finished meal, served with a garden salad

We did set off the smoke alarm once, but that’s part of the learning/cooking process. This dinner was surprisingly filling, and pretty healthy.  Veggies, long grain rice with delish salad.  After, we watched a movie with air popped popcorn (my personal favorite). All in all a pretty normal Saturday night and close to perfect.

Now, for the tonight’s dinner: Cheesy Broccoli Stuffed Potatoes. The biggest piece of advice for anyone testing this recipe,  cooking the potatoes takes over an hour so be prepared.  This part is super important, because otherwise you can’t scoop out the goodness of the potatoes.

My four "large" potatoes....

The stuffing for twice baked potatoes

Stuffed Potatoes... with a side salad and tilapia

The other tip that I would make would be to make sure to pick out the largest potatoes you can. Otherwise you will pierce the skin, making it “unstuffable”.

So far, the record is 3-0.  As in, I would recreate all of these recipes at one time or another.  Neal’s enjoyed them all, expect for the cream cheese frosting.

Up next:

Washington’s Version of Oktoberfest

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Within Neal’s first 24 hours of this trip,  we decided to join in for the 2011 Spokane Oktoberfest, sponsored by the Washington Beer Commission on Friday evening.    You might be thinking, “But it’s only September. Oktoberfest already?”  Yes, that’s how Spokane rocks it.

Our friend Russell joined in for the barley and hops drinking fun…and boy oh boy was there alot of it.  We really had no idea what to expect…but let me paint you a picture:

  • Over twenty Washington State breweries serving a total of more than 50 beers.
  • 9 very generous pours
  • A polka band that knew such as the YMCA.
  • Warm weather, screaming for drinking some mighty fine beer.

For $15 (pre-sale ticket price) we each received five drink tokens.  Once inside they were selling stein glasses at $10 each with four more drink tokens.  Souvenir glass plus more tastings?  Sign us up!

We had a great time sampling new beers, people watching, and enjoying polka (yeah you read that right).  All in all a great start to Neal’s trip here in the fall.  Tomorrow we are planning on making it our to Greenbluff.  (As long as the weather cooperates.)

Neal at Festival

Neal and Russell enjoying the 2nd (or 3rd) round?

Us with the folks in lederhosen. Anytime you have lederhosen, you are in for a good time.

Cheers!

Neal & I

52 Weeks Ago…

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I met Neal.  Literally…to the day and almost to the hour.  And today, at 3 pm I picked him up from the Spokane International Airport.  I had a funny moment, I realized that this was the first time that I had greeted him at the Spokane Airport since his first trip in November.  My how the time has flown by!

I wasn’t sure when we were going to celebrate the anniversary of our meeting.  I asked Neal if he wanted to exchange gifts today or tomorrow.  Neal replied, “Today of course.  I met you 52 weeks ago today.”

And so we did.

Neal gave me a beautiful triple infinity necklace that is simple and lovely.  He also gave me a baby elephant ring holder. (As seen below)

Baby Elephant Ring Holder

This gift is perfect as it is practical (a place to store my ring as I do dishes, etc.) plus it is an elephant!  How perfect.

My give to Neal was a device that would allow him to charge his cell phones, tablet PC, kindle all in one spot.   He simply loved it.  In fact, when we made it to dinner he chatted about how great of a gift it is… out of sheer enthusiasm. It’s nice to know I hit a homerun there.  Whew.

Another part of my gift to Neal was a craft/handmade gift that I did (yes, inspired by Pinterest…yet again.).  The idea behind this gift was to take a deck of cards (all 52) and write something I love about Neal on each.

52 Things Project

Add a bit of paint, red ribbon and you have a handmade gift perfect for celebrating the first 52 weeks together.  (Get it?  52 weeks?  52 cards?  Brilliant!)

One of my favorite cards

Big plans for tomorrow?  Not really… breakfast at a local eats place: Chaps. (YUM) Then Spokane’s version of Oktoberfest, then a night out and about.  Should be fun.

PS- Although Neal made it safe and sound to me.  His luggage didn’t… we are keeping our fingers crossed that KLM/Delta/Alaska figure it out soon!

AMAZING New Hair Trick!

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Yes, this is another Pinterest inspired post.  I found the following image called “Sock Bun Curls” that I thought was just to die for.  I watched the YouTube tutorial and gave it a shot.  I’m pretty happy with my results, and I wanted to share it with my lovely blogging audience.

My attempt… Not bad, if I do say so myself!


Want to take a peek at the YouTube video?  Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FV-YO46E8Y

Happy Wednesday everyone! The countdown is getting less and less until Neal gets here, just a mere 31 hours till he lands and about 12 until he starts his journey.  Here we go!

Transition from Summer to Fall: Hello Scarves!

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I am not ready to say good bye to summer, not just yet.  But alas, the evenings are starting to get just a bit cooler and whether we want to believe it or not the summer of 2011 is winding down to end.  Never fear!  With the beginning of the transition from summer to fall, we get to reintroduce one of my favorite accessories: Scarves! Bright, colorful and budget friendly I love how easily it changes a whole outfit.

Now, if you wear scarfs but looking to change it up how you tie that knot check out this helpful guide!

PS- Neal arrives in just 54 hours.  This countdown is flying by.  Woo-hoo!!

“Yes Mom, I cook pasta.”

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So, I was on the phone with my mom tonight.  The conversation went as follows:

Mom: Belinda, what are you having for dinner tonight?

Me: Um… leftover pizza.  I still eat like a college student.

Mom: Oh.  Okay. (Pause) We saw on your blog that you were going to start cooking for when Neal is here, and we were worried you would try to start now…

Me: No, I’m waiting for when Neal gets here and when I don’t work that day.

Mom: You have basic stuff for dinners too, right?  Like pasta and sauce?  You make that right?

Me: (Pause) Ah, yeah.  Like the pasta and sauce.  I can cook that.

Just to prove that my pantry is well stocked of meal options and that Neal won’t be going hungry during his upcoming visit.

My Stocked Pantry

Don’t worry, as I test the fun recipes,  I will be sure to post… who knows, maybe I will do a flip cam session!  😉

 

Location, Location, Location for Engagement Session (Part Two)!

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So yesterday, I posted images from a more “urban” location setting for the engagement shoot.  Today, I wanted to share images from Gonzaga’s campus which is filled with beautiful green trees plus fantastic architecture.   Once again, I took photos around the same time we will be shooting our session.  (I love gauging the light, especially through the trees!)

Tree lined path, Gonzaga University

I am hoping that we get a few leaves to change color, how perfect.

Fantastic Music Building on Gonzaga's Campus

Archways...think of the potential

Trees on Lake Arthur, Gonzaga University

Another tree shot

I think between the campus locations and the “urban” location I posted yesterday, we should have plenty of solid options for our engagmenet shoot.

PS- Neal is going to be here in just a mere 67 hours, but who is counting?