31 March 2011

Irish Birthday Care Package

Yesterday was my mom's 55th birthday! She recently went back to school and earned her teaching certificate, then after a few months of job searching, scored an incredible job as a Teaching Assistant at a preschool! I'm sooo proud of her.

For her birthday this year, I knew she wanted a new lunch bag to take to school everyday. So Joshua and I went all out at the PX and got her a Vera Bradley lunch bag, eyeglasses case, notepad, pencil case, and binder clips! My mom loves Vera.

She also loves St. Patrick's Day, so that's why I themed this care package around the holiday. Her grandmother (my great-grandmother) came straight off the boat from Ireland! We're proud of our heritage. :-)



Deployment or not, any holiday or special occasion is a great reason to make or send a care package!

28 March 2011

Buffalo Ranch Chicken Dip

Hello, friends! A couple weekends ago, Joshua & I had a barbecue with a few friends from his new unit. We grilled burgers and chicken, had a yummy tomato & mozzarella salad, and my favorite: enjoyed a delicious appetizer of Buffalo Ranch Chicken Dip.

Last winter, my friend Annie (we met at our previous duty station in North Carolina) posted this incredible recipe on her blog. I've made it a dozen times, and finally made an alteration to take some of the bite off the buffalo flavor and include ranch, the all-time favorite condiment in our house.

Annie, I hope you don't mind I modified your recipe! Seriously you guys, you have to try this. We serve it with tostitos or celery. Yum!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (12 oz) can of chicken
  • 1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzerella cheese
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese dressing
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing

 DIRECTIONS
  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Add all ingredients to an oven-safe dish
  • Bake at 350° for 15 minutes
  • Let cool & serve with chips or celery!
It's so easy to make. So easy, in fact, that I was in the mood to play with my new 50mm lens, so I photographed the whole process to share with all of you! Enjoy. :-)

{Drain & add 12 oz canned chicken to dish}

{Add 8 oz cream cheese}

{Add 1/2 cup hot sauce}

{Mmm, yummy Franks}

{Add 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese— I always add a lot!}

{Mmm, yummy cheese}

{Add 1/2 cup blue cheese dressing}

{Add 1/2 cup ranch dressing}

{Mix it all up!}

{Bake for 15 minutes at 350°}

{Cool and serve!}


Let me know if you happen to try it. Thanks again, Annie! This will be a hit in our home forever! If you don't already follow Annie, check out her blog, Simplify. She's sweet, fun, and super smart... always a pleaseure to read!

25 March 2011

Terrible Twos

My dogs are monsters.

No really, monsters.

They poop and pee everywhere.

Well fine, that isn't fair. Lady poops & pees everywhere! Gypsy is potty-trained. But Gypsy... she likes to fight Lady. A lot. And bark.

Oh, the barking.

It's making working from home not as fun. I can't wait until they're potty-trained and I can give them the run of the house. 

So they stop barking. And pooping. And peeing.


I love my dogs, I love my dogs, I love my dogs.

No really, I love my dogs.

I'm just feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment.

Aside from lovin' on my puppies, giving them baths, mopping the floors and spraying the carpets with pet stain remover, I've been working out like a mad-woman. 85 days to the wedding. I'm working out twice a day and doing P90X.


I've also been working on invitation designs, yogurt designs, tea designs, rice designs... I love design.

I love my job. I love my puppies. I love working out.

Only 2/3 of that is true. Can you guess which isn't?

So yes, that's where I've been. Puppies, P90X, and working. Phew!

  

16 March 2011

Meet Lady Luck

We interrupt this broadcast Wedding Wednesday post to bring to you the newest member of our little family... meet Lady!


Lady is 7 1/2 weeks, 4 pounds, and a West Highland White Terrier (Westie). We wanted a playmate for Gypsy, and silly us... we thought it would be better to raise 2 puppies at once to get all the potty training out of the way now, instead of having to do it all separately. Ha!


Needless to say, these little monsters have been keeping me quite busy. All day long. They're darlings, but they're still learning how to get along. And Lady likes to poo and pee a lot. And cry... a lot. Little did we know, we had it easy with Gypsy! They're only 3 months apart.

Oh puppies! We love our growing little family of four... but we both agree, so glad it's puppies and not babies! Not for a couple years, at least. ;-)

Once I get things under control in our house and catch up with my workload, I'll be back to post some more! ♥

11 March 2011

11 in '11 | March Update (Part 2)

{Take for your blog!}
You guys, I cannot believe we're already 3 months into 2011. It's ridiculous! Does this really mean my wedding is only 3 months away? Ohhh myyy goshhh. 

Since I have a few new followers, I'll fill ya in on what I do on the 11th of each month here at Hard Corps Love (ha). I have a list of 11 goals and resolutions I made for 2011, and I keep track of them on the 11th day of the month. It's kind of a motivational/progressive/accountability thing for me.

With that said, I did great for January 11th (barely 2 weeks into the new year, go figure!), but then on February 11th I totally sucked and only posted half of my updates. Since not much has changed with that half of my goals from last month to this month, I'm just going to post the second half of my goals today.

It's never too late to set goals or resolutions for yourself! Feel free to take the image above if at any point, you'd like to join in. I could use some company, really. ;-)

So here is an update on the second half of my 11 in '11 progress.
    6. EXERCISE | Work out 3x a week, minimum.
    • Um, yeah. About that. I really hate to start off my progress on a bad note, but seriously? I haven't been making time to work out. I can blame it on the weather, blame it on my schedule, blame it on whatever, but the truth is I just haven't been prioritizing. And with my wedding right around the corner... yeah. I need to put this first.
    • My plan? I'd like to start P90X again on the 18th. It's a 3-month program and the 18th is the 3-month mark to my wedding day. Cutting it close, yes, but also a really good reason to stay on track!
    • I started to C25K (Couch to 5K) program in December, and even though I've taken a few breaks along the way, I'm going to pick back up with Week 4. I will run a 5K this year!
    7. MONEY | Spend less, save more.
    • Okay. So aside from the massive shopping spree at DSW that Joshua & I indulged ourselves in last month, and aside from the dresses I purchased at Macys for my bridal shower, bachelorette party, & rehearsal dinner... and aside from the office furniture we bought to furnish the home office (tax write-off!), we're doing pretty well. Ha.
    • I'm taking a once-a-week coupon class on base and learning so much about coupons and budgeting. I saved $13 on my last trip grocery shopping, and I have a feeling I can save a lot more if I put more time into it! The world of couponing can be quite ridiculous, I've definitely learned.
    • I'm making it a goal to read this book, SHOO, Jimmy Choo!, by the 11th of next month. This girl (yours truly) could use some help.
    [SIDE NOTE: One of my BFF's and maid-of-honor, Sue... just got a job at Jimmy Choo in Boston! So proud of her. Go Sue!]

    8. TIME MANAGEMENT | Be 5 minutes early. Everywhere.
    • Sometimes, yes. Most of the time? Getting there. But at least now, I'm not as late as I used to be. This resolution is continually getting better.
    • And this may sound weird, but now that my hair is longer, I have the option to get ready quicker and therefore, leave the house earlier. When I had my shorter cut, I had no choice but to blowdry, flat iron, and style everyday. Now that it's getting longer, I can twist it up into a bun, pull it back into a braid, tie it loosely into a side ponytail, or doing something else with it that doesn't require an hour of blowdrying the massive thickness that is my hair.
    9. SCRAPBOOK | Get up to date with j&d scrapbooks.
    • We haven't been as good at taking a photo everyday as we did in January for Project Life, but we are still taking the photos and have all of February to catch up on as far as documenting them. I have a million prints to order before we can do this!
    • Let's just say I'm really glad there are still 9 months left in the year for me to catch up on this one!
    10. KINDNESS | "Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty."
    • This goal is seriously the hardest goal of them all. I want to do more, give back more to my community, be a better person, inspire people. I just don't even know where to begin. Joshua began volunteering for the Marine Corps, but I just don't know what to do?
    • I've donated to 3 charities so far this year though, all in the past month. When I can and I have the money, I do try to help out as much as possible. 
    11. KEEP IN TOUCH | Regularly update email, photos, Facebook, & website.
    • Definitely keeping up with this one. I uploaded a bunch of pictures of Gypsy Rose to our Facebook album, "All About Gypsy" last week, and I finally shared our engagement photos both here and on Facebook. 
    • Both of my websites could use some sprucing up though, so that's next on the list.
    • I'd also like to return emails a bit quicker. If I don't respond right away, sometimes I forget until the next day or week, and that's just bad manners!
    So I'm making some progress, but I still have a lot to accomplish. I'll say it again... thank goodness there are still 9 months left this year!

    09 March 2011

    Registry Wish List

    {Lenox Simply Fine Chirp 4-Piece Place Setting}
    With my bridal shower fast approaching, Joshua and I have been tidying up our registry at Bed Bath & Beyond. Let me just say, registering is soooo overwhelming. I kid you not. I don't even know how people register at more than one store. My bridesmaids scolded me on not having enough items, so we went back and registered for more. And more. And then some more. Now we have 175 items, whoo hoo! And a guest list of 120.

    In case some of you brides-to-be find registering equally intimidating... or for those of you who just like shopping for pretty things... here are a handful of my favorites that Joshua & I registered for. It will be exciting to see if we receive any of these items. And if we don't... we just may be going on a little shopping spree of our own.

    My first favorite thing that we registered for is this Lenox set of fine china, above. I love the colors, love the birds, love everything about it! I can picture us having intimate dinners together with this set, and hosting large family suppers for holidays and special occasions. I'm just so in love with the print... I even registered for the entire bathroom ensemble that matches!

    {Lenox Simply Fine Chirp Fabric Shower Curtain}

    Next on the list, we are in desperate need of pots and pans! In my last few apartments, I had hand-me-downs from my family. When I moved home for a year to save some money, I gave it all to other family members in need of it... namely, my cousin and brother. When Joshua & I moved in together, we bought a cheap (I'm talking $14 on clearance) pots & pans set at Target... it's completely awful. The pans are misshapen, the lids don't fit, everything cooks unevenly... ugh. Having this set from Calaphon would be quite lovely:
    {Simply Calaphon Non-Stick 10-Piece Cookware Set}

    Next up: cutlery. Who doesn't love a nice set of knives? Right now, we're using a Target set my Daddy Dearest bought for me when I moved to Cleveland after college. It's quite good, and has lasted me the past 4 years, but it in no way compares to or has all the bells and whistles that this Henckels cutlery set does. It's so expensive, but so beautiful. Definitely would last us from now until eternity!
    {Henckels Four Star II 7-Piece Cutlery Set}

    Ohmygosh, how I'd ever love a KitchenAid Mixer. Yes, they are huge and take up so much counter/cabinet space. But they're so useful! Especially since I love to bake... so awesome! I went back & forth deciding if I wanted a red one or a pink one. Joshua made an awesome point that I'll be the only one using it, so I can really get whatever color I'd like. We have red appliances in our kitchen now, but I don't intend to keep the mixer out on the counter. So pink could/will work. And it's so feminine & pretty! What color would you choose?
    {KitchenAid 5-Quart Artisan Stand Mixer}

    I love wooden utensils. This Calaphon set would be awesome and not scratch our pots & pans! A good wooden set doesn't get icky and lasts forever, too. We're asking for these and a set of wooden spoons!
    {Calaphon Turner Wood 3-Piece Utensil Set}

    Ever since making quesadillas with my aunt, uncles, and cousins back in New York, I've wanted the quesadilla maker they had. It's so easy to use and makes perfect quesadillas! I can just picture making them together with Joshua, and someday... with our kids. :-)
    {El Paso Chile Company Quesadilla Maker}

    My love Joshua is obsessed with this Dial-A-Drink cocktail shaker. It has a recipe dialer that turns to tell you the exact ingredients for a bunch of different drinks, including Whiskey Sours, Cosmopolitans, Manhattans.
    {Dial-A-Drink Stainless Steel Cocktail Shaker}

    Seriously, isn't this the prettiest trifle bowl you ever did see? I have some great recipes that would look just beautiful in this. I can just imagine serving desserts to company from it... all layered and lovely and super delicious.
    {Anchor Hocking Trifle Bowl}

    Another of Joshua's favorite registry items is this flatware set. It goes with the awesome bamboo dinnerware set we want that is no longer available at Bed Bath & Beyond (but we bought 1 of the 2 sets we need when it was on clearance, and we will be purchasing the other from JCPenney's as soon as we can!). I think the knife is ridiculous and silly, but my mom says I need to "let him win" sometimes and get the set he wants. So hopefully for Joshua, this will be it!
    {Cambridge Silversmiths Larch Satin 45-Piece Flatware Set}

    So as of right now, we have a full-size bed. But our plans for after the wedding are to move that bed into our guest room, and get a queen size bed for our room. We picked out the most beautiful comforter set & pillows for this future dream room of ours. It's both masculine & feminine, and oh-so-luxurious.
    {Chevalier Queen Comforter Set}

    And of course, a couple of beautiful new sheet sets for our future bed! This black damask set is my favorite. Black sheets are just sexy. Really.
    {Wamsutta 500 Damask Sheet Set}

    Have you ever had a registry? What were some must-haves on yours? If you're making a registry, what are you putting on it? I'm ever so curious. :-)

    07 March 2011

    My Wifey

    When our guys are deployed, we all need a wifey. I didn't know what a "wifey" was until this last deployment, when I heard friends saying it and it immediately clicked. A wifey is the first person you call when you have something exciting to share or good news to tell. A wifey is also the first person you call to talk you down from the ledge when you're going through the worst of the deployment blues. Often times, your wifey is the only person you'll want to see during this time, because she's the only one that truly "gets it." Her boyfriend/husband/fiancé is more than likely going through the same thing, and you can be together to talk about how much it sucks (without being annoying), talk about everything but deployment (when you need to get your mind off it), or to not talk at all.

    In my experience, a wifey is basically your husband's replacement while he's deployed. You can vent, eat with, laugh, cry, be excited, be miserable, and not worry about being judged by your wifey. You still have your family and other friends, and talk to them and rely on them as you always did, but when your lover is missing, you need your wifey. And when you find her, your friendship will last for the rest of your lives.

    On Joshua's first deployment to Iraq, I met a girl through an online Marine wife support group, Kim. Kim lived in Maine and I lived in New York, and we only saw each other once the entire time our men were gone. But we had the phone... and email... and Facebook. And even though we don't talk now as often as we did then (her lover is now out of the military), I was invited to Kim's wedding a year or so ago. I couldn't attend, but then this past Christmas Kim contacted me and asked me to design a newlywed Christmas card for her and her husband. I love Kim!

    On Joshua's second deployment to Afghanistan, I was lucky to have a few really close friends... Genna, Debbie, Liz, Kristine... they were all awesome girls who offered great support. But my #1 wifey was and always will be Felice. We have a different relationship, because we met in the 5th grade and we've been friends for over 15 years now! I basically consider Felice to be my sister. I don't have any sisters, and Felice is my closest friend because we've both laughed and fought together over the years, and been through so much together.

    A couple summers ago, Felice was planning to spend her vacation between nursing school in North Carolina. Joshua and I suggested she meet up with Christian, his closest friend in the Corps, for a "summer fling."

    Well... their summer fling turned into so much more. Felice has since graduated nursing school, moved down to North Carolina permanently, and is planning their wedding for this coming August! And you'll never guess who her maid-of-honor is. ;-)

    Anyway, Christian just deployed unexpectedly last week, and as I type this my wifey is on her way up here to spend a few days with me! I'm so happy she's coming, I've missed her so much!


    A wifey is the person who reads your blog when you first start it and you don't have any followers, then calls you instead of leaving a comment to let you know she's read it. I love you, wifey!

    06 March 2011

    Photography Session










    So after a productive Sunday with my loves, Joshua & Gypsy, it came to mind to me today that I never shared our engagement photos, either or on Facebook! I had been waiting until our save-the-dates went out. Clearly, that happened months ago... and I guess I just forgot to share.

    Our awesome photographer, Ashley of Sapphire Eyes Photography, is usually in Arizona. We were lucky enough to catch her while she was in North Carolina last fall after our men (who were in the same unit) came back from Afghanistan. She also just started a blog!

    Ashley took us to a cotton field, railroad tracks, and the beach. She was so fun to work with and we love the photos she took for us. Note to everyone: she's also willing to travel... if we didn't already have a deposit on our wedding photographer, I'd totally be calling her. :-)

    Hope everyone had a nice weekend!