Sunday, September 19, 2010

Football and Birthdays

September 11 & 12, 2010:  Football.  We live, eat, and breath football in the Nolan household.  ESPN always seems to be the channel of choice on our television (which seems to be on 24/7...or at least while we are home).  This weekend we were lucky enough to go to the Gator game on Saturday and the Jaguars game on Sunday.  Both days were extremely hot; both ended in wins for our favorite teams.  Thankfully, during the Jaguar game a rain storm came in.  We had to wait a while to watch the game because the lightning was too close, but it was all worth it to cool off.  

Gator Game

   Jaguar Game

September 18, 2010:  Eric and I headed to Jacksonville to celebrate Brittney and Steven's birthdays.  We ate lunch for Brittney's birthday at O'Charley's, then went back to the house for cake and presents.  I was so full, but could not resist at least some of the red velvet cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory.  Yum.  Then we went to La Nop for Steven and Colton's birthdays.  I love all of my family and I'm so glad we were able to come up to join in the festivities.

Brittney and her red velvet cake
The girls ready for their cake
Steven's Birthday at La Nop

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is a memoir of Janzen's return to her roots after surviving a car crash and divorce.  She takes time to recoup and write while staying with her Mennonite parents back home.  The stay is a healing process as she revisits old memories and experiences life's funny turns. 

I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars.  The author definitely has a life that would be considered book worthy.  Many of her stories are funny and make you appreciate the small things different people bring to our lives.  Sometimes I felt like she was trying to be funny too often though and her stories didn't flow well.  She uses a lot of big words that I didn't know, so this would probably be a good book if you are studying for the GRE.  lol.  I probably wouldn't recommend this book as a good read, but I did enjoy parts of it.

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

Last week I finished another freebie, Max Lucado's Outlive Your Life.  This book looks at the Jerusalem church in the book of Acts as an example of how we can live our lives to make a difference in this world.  The chapters cover various topics from stepping out of your shell (taking note of the hurting people around you and finding some way to help) and persecution as a result of your faith.  I don't think we realize day to day how blessed we really are...and the impact we can have if we get out of our comfort zone and act. 

This is the second Max Lucado book I have read.  They both were easy to read and use bible verses/biblical principles as the basis.  Max Lucado definitely has a gift for detailing stories.  He loves to go in depth; painting a picture for the readers of what he imagines the characters in the Bible where thinking and doing (beyond what is actually described in the Bible).  Sometimes he even updates the stories to fit into today's world.  This is a good way for us to think deeper about how the lessons we learn from the Bible can be applied to our lives, but I think the reader should be aware of the actual words from the Bible to know where Max's embellishment comes in.

Overall, I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars.  I enjoyed reading it and did gain some insight, but I largely knew the material presented.

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”"

Friday, September 10, 2010

Portabella Fries

Last week, Tammy and I were going through the Publix weekly ad to scope out the deals when we came across a recipe for portabella fries.  I thought it sounded really interesting, so Eric and I added the ingredients to our Sunday shopping grocery list.  Eric made them for dinner that week and they were delicious!  I'm mad that I didn't take a picture to post, but they pretty much look like fries and are really good dipped in ranch.  If you are looking for a new side dish recipe to try out (and you like mushrooms), you should definitely try it.

The recipe is from Publix Apron's Simple Meals:

Portabella Fries

3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
12 oz sliced portabella mushrooms
2 eggs (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
1 1/4 cups Italian-style bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Large zip-top bag, optional

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil evenly over baking sheet.
  • Discard stems and gills (dark brown layers) from mushrooms.
  1. Whisk eggs until frothy; place in shallow bowl. Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in large zip-top bag (or shallow bowl).
  2. Place 3–4 mushrooms into eggs, turning to coat both sides. Dip or toss mushrooms with bread crumbs until evenly coated; place in single layer on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mushrooms. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Bake 10 minutes.
  3. Turn mushrooms; bake 5–7 more minutes or until mushrooms are tender and golden. May be served with ranch or your favorite dipping sauce.
CALORIES (per 1/4 recipe) 280kcal; FAT 14g; CHOL 5mg; SODIUM 690mg; CARB 29g; FIBER 3g; PROTEIN 10g; VIT A 0%; VIT C 4%; CALC 10%; IRON 15%

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Butterfly Effect by Andy Andrews

I received a complimentary copy of The Butterfly Effect by Andy Andrews to review.  The Butterfly Effect is a short, inspirational story based on a very important lesson the author learned from his mentor; everything we do has meaning.  Andy Andrews drives this point home by sharing a series of life stories that connect and find meaning within each other.  One person can do something seemingly small, but end up indirectly affecting millions.

I don't usually like reading small, gift type books.  I usually feel like they are something people give to other people who in return put them on the bookshelf and never read them.  This book is compact, but has a message and story that is worth reading.  I found the stories the author uses to illustrate his point very interesting.  The artwork and layout of the book were also very appealing to me.  It really made me think about how my life can have meaning everyday.

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”"

Friday, September 3, 2010

Honeymoon - St.Lucia

August 15-21, 2010 : For our honeymoon we went to St.Lucia and stayed at the Sandals Regency La Tac Golf Resort and Spa.  We left Sunday morning (Aug.15) and were supposed to arrive in St.Lucia around 9:30pm that night.  This did not happen.  Our flight from Jacksonville to Miami went as planned, but our flight in Miami to San Juan (Puerto Rico) got delayed because we were waiting for flight attendants from an international flight to get through customs.  Our layover in San Juan was only 45 minutes, so you can see where this is going.  We arrived in San Juan and even before the flight to St.Lucia was supposed to leave they told us to head to customer service.  Our flight to St.Lucia had left early and our plane from Miami had a good portion of the plane to St.Lucia!  Seriously, if they hadn't left earlier or waited 5 minutes we could have gotten on that plane.  All hopes of Sandals turned into a stay in Puerto Rico since the next flight out wasn't until the same time the next day!

We decided to use our travel insurance and stay in a nice hotel in Puerto Rico on the beach.  I ended up being sick until like Tuesday, so our time in Puerto Rico was not very enjoyable.  We payed a pretty penny for our hotel, but for some reason it creeped me out really bad (Eric thought it was nice).  Everything in the room was white and the floors were tile, so you could hear every little sound.  A genius must have designed the shower because there was only half a door and it didn't close, so the water flooded out onto the floor.  Needless to say, I didn't sleep the whole night.  The only saving grace Puerto Rico offered us was a nice local restaurant (lots of good food!) for dinner and a beautiful sunrise in the morning.

Eric at Mi Casita with his portion of food
San Juan, Puerto Rico- Sunrise

We ended up going back to the airport early in the morning and staying at the hotel there until our flight.  I was very excited to arrive in St.Lucia Monday night.  To our surprise when we arrived at the resort we found out they had upgraded our room to a honeymoon suite, complete with our own little pool.

Tuesday, we explored the resort and ate food.  lol.  Sandals tip - We tried making a reservation to eat at one of the "reservation only" restaurants, but they were booked for the whole week.  I would suggest trying to make a reservation before you leave for your vacation if they will allow you.  If not, I would make them immediately upon arriving.  If they tell you it is booked ask if they can call you if there is a cancellation.  Call and bug the heck out of them until they let you in.  We didn't get to eat at those restaurants, but we have learned from our experience.

Wednesday we went on the Land and Sea tour (favorite day in St. Lucia!).  It was really nice because we got to get out and actually see St. Lucia (such a beautiful island!).  We rode in a van all over the island that day.  Here's some pictures from our adventure.

First, we traveled to a lookout over Marigot Bay.  There we got to sample the local spiced rum and banana ketchup.
 We stopped in a fishing village to shop and enjoy the sights.  Then, we got a great view of the Pitons.
 Next was the botanical gardens where we got to see Diamond Waterfall.
 Drive-In Volcano at Sulpher Springs (it smelled like rotten eggs!)
After seeing the volcano, we headed to the sulpher springs.  We put on some of the mud (which is supposed to be really good for your body) and hopped in the VERY hot water to wash off.  We were the only ones in our group to go all the way in.  There was no rain, so the sun was having it's toll on the water.  I don't think I've ever been in water that hot.  My heart was beating so hard when I got out and I felt faint.  Our guide thought we were pretty cool.  lol.  This is also where Jake and Vienna went on there date on the Bachelor. haha.

After the springs we had lunch at a hotel (I think) that had another great view of the Pitons.

We ended the day with a cruise on a catamaran around the island with a quick stop to swim and snorkel.  Eric and I chilled on the top deck.

Here's some more pictures from our stay:
Pool in our room

Eric's friend at dinner.  These cats were all over the resort and they definitely knew the right places to hang out!
 Thursday morning we had breakfast in bed.  This is what our tray looked like when they delivered it to us.

Thursday we went zip-lining in the rainforest.  If I had a bucket list, zipling would definitely be on it and now I can check it off.  We strapped in to our harness, put on our helmet and gloves, and headed up some stairs for our first gliding adventure.  I felt nervous waiting my turn because I didn't know what to expect.  I was mostly concerned I wouldn't be able to stop myself at the end.  I ended up being really good at it.  All you have to do is hold on with your weak arm and place your dominant hand behind you on the wire (to slow down you just push down on the wire).  I really enjoyed it!  On some of the lines we were high in the trees and got to go over streams of water.  Here are some pictures from our first zip-line experience.

Our final night, Eric bought us a package to have a candle light dinner on the beach.  We had a five course meal served to us, while we talked and enjoyed the view.  A perfect end to our week (though it was way to short!).  
Now we are back to real life.  Eric has started his last semester as an undergrad at UF and I'm back to work.  I am learning that I have married the most patient, sweetest man ever.  Thank you Eric for being a wonderful husband!  I'm so glad I married you!  :)

Wedding Day

August 14, 2010 - I am so glad our wedding was at 2:30pm because I don't think I would have made it if the time had been later!  I was a ball of nerves the whole day (up until the ceremony).  I'm not sure why exactly, but I hated the idea of waiting.  I couldn't hold down food and could barely stand up (I'm not sure a 10 pound dress and 3 inch heels really helps with this).  Waiting stinks, but once the ceremony started I was completely fine.  :)  (And I didn't cry!  Yay!)

The morning was all about getting ready (for the girls at least...the guys went skateboarding).  We woke up, tried to eat some breakfast, and headed back to the room to start primping.  The girls started with their hair and make-up (Thanks to Kristina for doing such a good job braiding everyone's hair!!).  I put on most of my make-up and then went to get my hair done (Thanks to Deidra for helping everyone and running back to the room to get my hair flower!).  My hair inspiration was a photo I found of Carrie Underwood from the 2007 Movies Rock Event.  I think my hair stylist did a great job (Ciao Bella Hair Salon)!

Carrie Underwood Hair Inspiration Photo

Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage  Dec 02, 2007


After she curled my hair with the straight iron
Pinning my hair up

The finished product
When I got back to the room all of my bridesmaids had there hair and make-up done...and they looked absolutely gorgeous!  They helped me finish my make-up, we ate lunch, then hung out with the photographers and videographer until it was time to head to the Baughman Center.

I don't really have any pictures from the ceremony yet, but I will be sure to post them on my blog once our photographer has finished editing them.  The ceremony was beautiful!  It was short, but sweet and intimate.  Keli did an amazing job with all of the flowers (I couldn't have been happier!  Thanks!!).  Eric was really surprised when I sang to him (he had no clue I was going to sing...and neither did most of the people!).  My voice was shaking while I was singing at first, but it got a little better at the end (And hopefully everyone could hear a part of it...I know I was quiet, but the song was for Eric.  lol.).  I had to tell Eric after the chorus to stop crying or I wasn't going to be able to get through it!  :)  

We took pictures after and then headed to the reception.  I was so happy with how the day went (and that I have a new husband!)!  The food was delicious, the decorations were perfect, and the company was great!  Thank you to all our friends and family for coming out and celebrating with us!  

Mr. and Mrs. Nolan


The last week leading up to the wedding was very hectic, but thanks to family and friends we were able to complete everything.  We were so rushed to get stuff out of my old apartment into the new one that there really was no time to organize and get everything straightened out.  All of my belongings got thrown into our new apartment...there was barely an inch to walk on, boxes everywhere.  Here's a small pic from my camera phone of the mess.

Our Bedroom 

Our big project before the wedding was getting the ceremony programs put together.  My computer (of course) got a nasty virus and wouldn't even open Windows.  Then the printer wasn't working on Eric's computer, but after a couple hours of work he figured it out and we got printing!  I spent a whole night punching out the programs, but had barely put a dent in them.  Thankfully, the next day Chad and Amy came over and saved us from the agony of doing it all ourselves.  With our team work the project got finished much faster than expected.  

Then there were other little projects like putting the candy for the nests in baggies and finalizing the ceremony/reception outlines.  Thanks to Jenna (who took over the project) I didn't have to worry about table numbers or the sparkler bucket (for the exit).  

Friday flew by so fast.  Heather, Jenna, and I got our nails done at the mall.  We also stopped by MAC and got them some fake eyelashes.  Though I didn't write about it on here I had previously gotten the semi-permanent (2 week) eyelashes and they were horrible!  Please do yourself a favor and NEVER get them.  I couldn't get them off after two weeks no matter the amount of baby oil applied and my mom ended up tearing them out (hours of pain = not fun).  Anyways, my mom took me to MAC to have them show me how to do my make-up for the wedding day and I decided to try their fake eyelashes (since mine haven't looked as full since the incident).  I have to say, I really like the MAC lashes!  The glue doesn't hurt your eyes (no fumes) and they come off so easily!  They stayed in place the whole day and then I just tugged at the end to peel them off.  I don't remember exactly which kind I got, but here is a link to the eyelashes on there website - MAC eyelashes.  I think they are worth it to give your eyes an extra pop for a special occasion.

After leaving the mall I went back to get ready for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.  The rehearsal for me was a bit hectic, but I tried not to worry about it.  We started late and the Baughman Center people were very prompt in kicking us out once our hour was up.  The rehearsal dinner was a really nice change.  We got to celebrate and relax with our closest friends and family.  The buffet worked out really well and the food was awesome. 
BJ's for the rehearsal dinner
After the rehearsal dinner I got to go with my family and Heather to visit my grandparents who were able to make it.  :)  Then we headed back to the Hampton Inn and Suites in Downtown Gainesville to sleep before the big day.  I would suggest this hotel to anyone that is staying in the area.  It especially worked out well for us because our reception (at Steve's Courtyard) was a couple of blocks away (walking distance).  The hotel is new, clean, well decorated, has spacious suites, and the staff was very helpful and accommodating (unlike some other hotels...ahem...the Hilton).  Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep that night.  How can you sleep when you are getting married in the morning?!  So many emotions are tugging at your heart strings.  You are happy that the day is almost here, excited to make such a huge committment, scared something might go wrong, ect. (you get the point).  

Then I got up and it was the day of the wedding (my wedding)!