Thursday, August 28, 2014

#tbt... The Doctors Tie the Knot

In honor of it being almost another year since LW and RM... a.k.a. "The Doctors"... tied the knot I figured that this week's #tbt post should be dedicated to them.  LW and RM are another set of our friends who had been dating since I can remember.  I don't think I remember a time where the two of them weren't associated with one another.  Sure they weren't "officially" dating the entire time I knew them, but I was pretty sure that they would end up together.  Sure enough nearly 10  years (at least I think it was 10 years) later the two of them tied the knot.  I was so happy to be there for them to celebrate their special day and know that I will always remember the great times we had at their wedding!

M & I before the wedding
RM with his parents
Here Comes the Bride

Gbig & RG... sorority sister bridesmaids

You may kiss the bride

Chi O sisters at the wedding

Cousins with our G-big
Cousins with our Gbigs... Chi O Family Love
Love my G-big!
Do you have any friends who have been together for as long as you can remember?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review... Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

Last week I participated in my first EVER Literary Junkies post where I answered all the post questions and also did a quick review on what I had finished reading.  Well I figure that since the Literary Junkies is a book club and I did read a book for it, that well perhaps I should write a book review on the actual book we read for book club instead of the one that I read after it.

For the month of August we voted and decided to read Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult.  I haven't read a Jodi Picoult book in AGES, so I was kind of excited to read this one.  I was also excited because while we were at the beach and I was complaining that I had forgotten to go buy the book club book (I like reading books in actual book form while on the beach) one of my bff's happened to mention that she had just finished a book and that if I wanted to borrow it so I didn't have to read on my Kindle she would be happy to let me borrow it.  Imagine my surprise when she pulled out Lone Wolf ... the very book I was mad at myself for forgetting to buy before our trip!  Gotta love that my friends and I have similar book tastes so that things like this randomly happen.

While I was excited to read a book by Jodi Picoult, I was not really sure how I was going to feel about this book because honestly reading the description of it on Goodreads it didn't seem like it would be something that I would like.  Well... boy was I wrong!  This was one of those books that once I started reading it, I didn't want to put it down.  Lone Wolf chronicles a family as they deal with a horrible car accident that leaves Luke in a coma and his daughter Cara needing surgery.  Because Cara is a minor her long lost brother Edward has to make his return home after 7 years of being away in order to make the important medical decisions regarding Luke.  With much drama between the family, Cara and Edward do not see eye to eye with what to do with their father's health care and this disconnect causes so many more problems for the two.

Edward believes that Luke would want to have life support removed and his organs donated, while Cara believes that Luke would not want them to give up on him.  Part of Cara's belief for what Luke would want stems from the fact that Luke raises wolves and he NEVER was one to give up on them.  During Edward and Cara's childhood Luke actually went to Canada where he was able to insert himself into a wolf pack where the wolves actually accepted him as one of their own.  Through this he learned how to raise the packs that he kept on his property with the hopes of eventually being able to reinsert them into the wild even though they had been bred in captivity.

The book contains lots of twists and turns as you learn about Luke's life before, during and after living with the pack of wolves in Canada.  You learn a lot about his relationship with his children and even his ex-wife and how all of his decisions affected them as individuals and as a family unit.  It is amazing that the man that essentially tore the family apart is what will ultimately end up bringing them closer together.

One of the things I really liked about this book is how each chapter was written from a different character's perspective.  Even though some of the stories could be a bit repetitive, with a different perspective on the story you really felt like you were living it and that you knew exactly what was going on.  Definitely made it really hard to put this book down as I always wanted to keep reading so that I could get the entire story.

If you are looking for a quick and fun read I would definitely suggest this book to you!

Do you have any quick and fun reads that you would suggest to a book lover like me?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Delicious Dish Tuesday... Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

It's that time of the week again... Delicious Dish Tuesday!! I am back once again participating with Eat, Drink and Be MaryCoping with Frugality, and Full Time Mama for their weekly recipe link up.  This week is once again extra special because Alesha over at Full Time Mama has picked my peach crunch recipe to be her featured recipe this week!  Thanks so much Alesha!  I am so excited that you loved my Gram's Peach Crunch Recipe enough to share it with everyone!  I am also noticing a trend that when I am going to be picked at the featured recipe I always seem to have a recipe post that doesn't involve many pictures and has to do with cupcakes planned for that Tuesday.  Because yes, today I am going to share with you all my famous Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes recipe!  I have no idea where I originally found this recipe as I have been making it for a few years now... but I do know that EVERY TIME I make them they are a hit with my friends!

A little Car Bomb Inspiration for Cupcake Baking
Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

1 c. Guinness
1 c. butter, at room temperature
3/4 c. cocoa powder
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2/3 c. sour cream

Whiskey Ganache Filling:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2/3 c. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
1 Tbsp. Jameson (the original recipe called for 2 tsp, but I crossed it out and wrote 1 Tbsp.)

Bailey's Frosting:
2 c. butter, at room temperature
5 c. confectioner's sugar
8 Tbsp. Bailey's Irish Cream (the original recipe called for 6 Tbsp, but I crossed it out and wrote 8)

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Line 24 cupcakes cups with liners
3. Bring the Guinness and butter to a summer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat.
4. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth, cool slightly
5. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine.
6. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined.  Then add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the eggs and beat to combine.
7. Reduce the speed to low to add the flower mixture, beating briefly.
8. Fold the batter until completely combined using a spatula
9. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners and bake for 17 minutes.
10. Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack.
Whiskey Ganache Filling:
11. Finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a pyrex bowl
12. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it overt the chocolate.  Let it stand for 1 minute.
13. Stir the chocolate and cream mixture until smooth
14. Add butter and Jameson and stir until combined
15. Let the ganache cool until thick
Filling the Cupcakes:
16. Use a cupcake hole cutter (I have this little gadget that hollows out cupcakes) or a 1" round cookie cutter, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes (you are going to want to go about 2/3 of the way down)
17. Spoon the ganache into the centers of the cupcakes
Filled Cupcakes
Bailey's Frosting:
18. Whip the butter using a whisk attachment on medium-high speed, scraping the sides of the bowl occassionally
19. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar until all of it is incorporated
20. Add the Bailey's increasing the speed back to medium-high and whipping for another 2-3 minutes until the icing is fluffy.
21. Frost the cupcakes.
22. Enjoy!

Full Time Mama

Monday, August 25, 2014

Guest Posting Over at Elizabeth Loves Today!!!!!

Just wanted to let everyone know that I am guest posting over at my girl Elizabeth's blog Elizabeth Loves today.  Elizabeth and I "met" last year around my wedding when we were Cara Box Partners.  Elizabeth sent me such an awesome box and I knew we would remain friends.  You guys seriously have no idea how similiar we are... besides the fact that we share the coolest name ever!  We have so many of the same likes and dislikes... plus I am pretty sure our husbands would get along well as well.  I am definitely more than 100% confident that we would be real life bffs if we actually lived closer to each other! Elizabeth has been a great inspiration for me as I have watched her blog grow over time... I am hoping that I can maybe follow in her footsteps and grow my blog as well!

So get over to Elizabeth Loves and check out my post....

You know you want to read why M is not only my spouse but my best friend!  Or just reasons in general why it is awesome for your spouse to be your best friend.

So what are you still doing here reading... head on over to Elizabeth Loves now!!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Football Fridayyyyyyyy!!!!

As most of you probably know, I NEVER post on Fridays.  I have set a blogging schedule for myself that runs Monday through Thursday and I give myself Friday through Sunday off.  Well today I am making an exception to that blogging schedule as Erin over at Love, Fun and Football is hosting a Football Friday link up and well seeing as I LOVE football and pretty much can't wait until the season starts I think I am going to have to break my no posting on Friday rule in order to talk about one of my favorite sports ever... FOOTBALLLLLLLL!!

So... without further ado... it is time for....

So I am not sure if I have mentioned it on here before but I am a HUGE football fan.  I am actually pretty sure that I am a bigger football fan than my husband.  I love nothing more than spending my Sunday afternoon flipping back and forth between the games with a beer in hand.... or spending my Monday night watching the game with some pizza and a beer.  Sometimes I am pretty sure that I am more like a dude when it comes to football because seriously during the fall to me there is nothing better than beer, pizza and of course FOOTBALL!

I guess before I keep going on and on and on about how much I love football I should probably tell you which team I am rooting for this year, huh?  Although I would normally say that my blood runs orange and blue ('Ray Bucknell!) during football season it is all about the blue and red of my NEW YORK GIANTS!!! 

I have been a Giants fan for as long as I can remember... there are even pictures of me in Kindergarten when I was a Giants cheerleader for Halloween.  I mean, you know I was destined to be a huge fan if at the age of 5 I wanted to be a Giants cheerleader for Halloween.  And then I wore my costume AGAIN when the Giants were in the Super Bowl that year.  So needless to say, since I was at least 5 years old I have been a HUGE giants fan.  I have been a fan since the days of Phil Simms, Rodney Hampton, Bill Parcels, and Lawrence Taylor just to name a few.  

Phil Simms {via}
When the Giants won their last Super Bowl my carpet got a red wine shower as I dropped my glass of red wine sangria when they won because I was so excited.  Thankfully M is a wonder and was able to get the red stain out of the white carpet like a champ and you would never know... except for the people who were here will NEVER let me live that moment down.  

My NYG cupcake for our Super Bowl Party
I have continued to remain a Giants fan through thick and thin... even when they have had HORRIBLE seasons (i.e. last season when Eli threw 3 interceptions in Game 1 vs. the Cowboys... his first throw was an interception and I knew from that moment on that we were going to have a tough season!)!  Nothing stands between me and cheering for my NYG!

I was beyond excited when Michael Strahan was selected to be the new co-host of Live with Kelly!  And even more excited when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame just a short time ago.  

I own a few Giants jerseys with my newest one being a Victor Cruz jersey that my hubby gave me for Christmas.  I mean who doesn't love Victor Cruz and his salsa dancing tendencies?!?!

Being a Giants fan in Eagles territory is tough, but I will still rock my Giants jerseys every game day and deal with the constant badgering of Eagles fans... because I mean when it comes down to it... how many rings do they have??

Go Giants!!

Who are you cheering for this football season?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

#tbt... Move in Day at Bucknell

Today marks 11 years since I moved into my college dorm room at Bucknell as a freshman.  I remember being super excited that day and wanting everything to go perfectly.  I remember being super nervous about meeting my roomie for the first time... sure we had talked a bunch online before heading to college, but what if we didn't like each other in person.  I remember being nervous about my parents leaving... this was the first time I was going to be away from them for longer than a few nights.  I remember being so excited but also being completely freaked out about how I was going to survive the next few nights let alone the next four years of my life in college.  Needless to say, all that worrying was for nothing because Bucknell was pretty much the best four years of my life and I miss it so much every day.  So for today's #tbt I am going to throw it back to my move in day my freshman year of college!

This is what I saw when I first entered my "new" room

Posing with the Class of '07 Balloons
My dorm building
Looks more homey now!

The roomie & me after our room was all set up!
Do you remember your freshman year move in day?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Donating to Charity... My Charities and Why They are Important to Me

As a kid when I was growing up I remember my parents donating to various charities over the years and I remember wondering why they did it.  As I grew up and graduated from college and started my journey into "adulthood" I discovered the importance of donating to charity on my own.  Now I am not saying that I am an expert on donating to charity, nor do I think that everyone should always donate to charity... I am just saying that this is something that is important to me and I want to explain why I do it.

My donating to charity started after college when I decided to do the Memory Walk for the Alzheimer's Association in memory of my grandfather and in honor of my Gram who we had recently found out was exhibiting signs of early onset Alzheimer's.  Since that walk I have continued to donate money to the Alzheimer's Association and M and I even have been giving a donation to them as part of our wedding favors to our guests.  Giving to the Alzheimer's Association is so important to me because having one grandparent die from it and two more diagnosed with early onset of the disease I want researchers to have the funding to be able to find a cure for it.  They say that the disease skips a generation which means I could be next to have this debilitating disease.  Sure I may not know I have it for many years to come, and sure I may not have the genetic mutations that allow for this disease to take over my body, but then again I may.  I also know how hard it is to watch someone suffer from this disease, so if I can help fun research so that people don't have to go through what my family and I have gone through in the past, then well I am all for that!

At the Memory Walk
This past Monday I participated in the ALS ice bucket challenge and made my donation to the ALS foundation.  I know tons of people are participating in the ice bucket challenge because it looks fun and because all of their friends are doing it and I know many people who disagree with the whole premise behind all of this.  Personally I think it is amazing that something so small has been able to spread the word about ALS and I only hope that those who are participating/making donations have looked into what ALS is and what their donations are going to help.  I have known two people who have passed away from this horrific disease and both of their lives were taken way too soon.  I did the ice bucket challenge in their memory and made my donation because I do think it is important to fund ALS research so that one day we may have a cure for this horrible disease.

Lastly, I recently signed up to do the 2014 Walk-for-Wishes at the Philadelphia Zoo this October. I have been doing the Walk-for-Wishes and have been involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation since back in 2004 when I joined Chi Omega.  The Make-A-Wish Foundation is Chi Omega's national philanthropy and as a Chi Omega I have been fortunate to have been able to help to grant the wish of various children throughout the years.  During my time in college we even sent one of our wish children to Disney on vacation with her family.  It is so amazing to see the reactions of our wish kids once their wishes have been granted... the smiles on their faces are priceless and the amount of gratitude their families have is something that you can't describe in words.  I have set a goal for myself to raise $250.00 for the Make-A-Wish foundation through this walk.  If you are interested in donating you can feel free to make a donation here or by clicking the link on my sidebar with my thermometer that is keeping track of my fundraising abilities!

Chi Omega ladies at the last Walk-For-Wishes
As you can see I donate to charity because the cause means something to me.  I don't donate to make myself feel better, I don't donate because I think it makes me a better person, I don't donate just to say that I donate to charity.  I donate to charity because I believe in what my donation is funding.  I believe in donating to help researchers find a cure for debilitating diseases who have claimed the lives of those I have loved.  I believe in donating to help children with terminal illnesses have one last wish granted.  I believe in donating to help discover the causes of premature births, miscarriages, etc. so that those I know who have experienced the pain of those things may not have to ever experience it again.  I donate because I am hoping that even a small donation will help make a big difference one of these days.

Do you have any charities that you donate to because they mean something to you? 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review... The Last Call AND Literary Junkies Book Club

This week I am taking a break from "Delicious Dish Tuesday" as I am participating in my first Literary Junkies Book Club post!  I found the Literary Junkies Book Club through Kate who blogs over at Another Clean Slate and I was really excited to find another book club to join.

Before I get into the Literary Junkies Post I figure it is high time I do another book review as I feel like it has been AGES since I have done one.

I recently read The Last Call by George Wier after I downloaded it for free from BookBub.  This book is the first in a series with Bill Travis as the main character.  Bill Travis is an "investment manager" who helps clients manage their money when they seem to be in tricky situations.  When I first started reading the book I wasn't quite sure if what Bill did was legal, but as the book went on it seemed as though everything he did was above book, but that one little mistake could make what he was doing illegal.

On what would be a normally uneventful day Bill decided to take on Julie Simmonds as a client after learning that she has managed to take a boatload of money from Archie Carpin, the last in a line of Texas criminals who have been suspected of dealing in moonshine and horseracing.  Julie is in trouble as Carpin has sent his goons after her to try and get his money  back.  They have made various attempts on Julie's life, but somehow she has managed to continuously escape them.  Bill enlists the help of one of his former clients in trying to best Carpin and save Julie's life.

While trying to save Julie's life they constantly put their own lives in danger and even manage to lose a friend along the way.  Carpin is a force to be reckoned with but Bill refuses to leave Julie in the dust and will not give up when it comes to keeping her safe.

This book is full of many twists and turns... you never quite know what is going to happen next.  I would definitely recommend reading this book if you are looking for a quick and interesting mystery novel.  My only complaint is that I was kind of disappointed at the ending of the book, but perhaps it ended how it did as this is book one in the series.

And now... for my first ever Literary Junkies post!!

1. What are you reading? Tell us about it!
Well I obviously just finished reading The Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult as that was this month's Literary Junkies book club pick (stay tuned for a book review on that one coming soon) and I am getting ready to read The Confession by Robert Whitlow.  Since I haven't actually started reading it there isn't much to tell, BUT here is the Goodreads summary:

"In Holt Douglas's line of work, there's nothing sweeter than a confession of guilt. Assistant D.A. Holt Douglas makes his living exposing lies and sending criminals to jail in Ashley County, Georgia. His job is always easier when defendants, instead of remaining silent, blame someone else or try to excuse their actions. With a confession in his hand, Holt knows a guilty plea will soon follow.

But lurking in Holt's past is a dark secret that could end his successful career and possibly his relationship with Angelina, his hoped for fiance.

When Holt reopens a cold case involving the death of the town's wealthiest businessman--allegedly killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest--Holt doesn't believe it was suicide. Instead, he suspects murder.

As he investigates, Holt's own guilt threatens to destroy him and the cause of justice he's sworn to serve. While he knows his own confession could absolve him of his sin, it could cost him his future. Will he survive long enough to uncover the true crime that this small southern town has been hiding?"

2. Do you read one book at a time, or read multiple books at once?
I am the type of person who can only read one book at once... and I refuse to start another book until I finish the one I am currently reading.  I am also the type of person that even if I really don't like a book I will finish it.  There is something about not finish books that drives me crazy.

3. What is the first book that made you fall in love with reading?
I honestly am not sure what the first book that made me fall in love with reading was. As far back as I can remember I have loved to read.  My parents said when I was a very young child they would find me flipping through picture books.  My Grammy loves to tell the story of how she would give me a picture book and say "Find the apple." (or whatever fruit it was) and I would flip through the book to the page containing that picture.  I remember reading a lot of my mom's old Nancy Drew mysteries as a kid and I am also pretty sure I read every Baby Sitter's Club Book that was ever written.  My parents used to say that sending me to my room as punishment as a kid wasn't really punishment because I would just go to my room and read for hours.  Needless to say I have pretty much always been a book worm.

4. Do you prefer the physical copy of the book or an electronic one?
I hands down prefer the physical copy of the book to the electronic one, BUT that being said, the electronic ones are soooooo much cheaper that I must admit that I read most of my books electronically. I do however usually try to read my book club books in physical copies because it makes discussing them at meetings sooooo much easier.

5. What are 3 books on your currently To Be Read list?
3 books on my "to read" list are: The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene (thank goodness this is my sorority book club's next selection), The One and Only by Emily Giffin and The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

Have you read any good books recently?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

#tbt... August 17th Weddings

Have you ever had two of your really good friends get married on the same day just a year apart? Well I have!  Since their anniversary weekend is coming up, today's #tbt post is dedicated to KJ who married KD on August 17, 2012 and to AP who married CC on August 17, 2013.

KJ and KD's wedding was special because they were high school sweethearts.  Yup, you read that correctly... high school sweethearts.  After attending different college and even dating different people in the end they ended up together!  So sweet!  (& if you two are reading this, I definitely always thought you would end up together!)

All smiles as he waits for his bride

PVHS kids at the wedding

AP and CC's wedding was also special because I was honor attendant in the wedding.  AP's mom was her maid of honor so she asked me to be honor attendant and I was absolutely honored to do so.  Their wedding was such a great time and I was so excited to be part of their special day!

Absolutely LOVE this pic of them!

Have you ever known multiple people to get married on the same day? Or around each others' anniversaries?