Good times and good eats

My parents came to visit us in Jacksonville this weekend so naturally we took them to all of our favorite restaurants. We pretty much ate like royalty and it was amazing!!
Friday night we ate at Barbara Jeans in Ponte Vedra. It’s this cute little restaurant right on the inter coastal and you can eat outside to enjoy the most beautiful views. They serve country style cooking and seafood dishes to die for. But my favorite is their sweet pumpkin bread. It’s warm and moist and all around delicious. I could eat an entire loaf.

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We aren’t exactly the most photogenic family but at least we have fun together.

On Saturday my mom and I ate lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. It’s a chain resturant but neither of us had been before. I was really impressed. We shared a thin crust meat lovers and enjoyed a fantastic meal for less than 15 bucks! No complaints there.

Saturday night we took my parents to a Mexican place down by the beach called Campeche Bay. It’s Tyler and I’s standard Friday night hangout spot 🙂 It’s really great because it’s very casual and fun but the food is a step up from your standard Mexican chain restaurants. Tyler is particularly fond of their seafood burrito and recommends it to everyone.

And finally after church on Sunday we headed to my favorite spot in Jacksonville. Tacolu!! I’m honestly obsessed with the place. I love the atmosphere and the food is phenomenal. They sell speciality tacos and their prices are great. I normally get one of their tacos and a side of black beans and I’m set. We have taken several people there and all have given their blackened scallop taco a 10 out of 10. If you’re ever in the area it’s a definite must try!

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Miss them already!

-blessin hearts

Chocolate Chip Cookies

So I’ve decided I have got to find a healthier hobby.. Especially when I find myself baking at 6:00 on a Tuesday night with no where to take my tasty treats except my own belly.

Chocolate chip cookies could be my favorite food and I’m not kidding when I say that. I could be sick with the flu and probably still enjoy a chocolate chip cookie. They are the epitome of sweet chocolately goodness that can lift anyone’s spirits.

I’ve been trying to perfect my own chocolate chip cookies with this recipe that I’ve blogged about here. But recently they just have not been coming out right… too dry and not the right texture. I found this recipe on Pinterest from Sally’s Baking Addiction last night and thought, why not? Oh my goodness, they were delicious. I was so happy with the results I just knew I had to share them with y’all.

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Mouth Watering, Right????

They were actually very easy to make and it didn’t take me too long at all. The only thing that threw me for a loop was that you need to let the dough cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour before measuring out cookies and baking. Maybe that’s her secret to the best cookie I’ve ever made.

 

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Ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter (at room temperature. This is very important as if your butter is too cold or completely melted you will not get the right consistency for your cookies)
  • 3/4 cup of dark brown sugar. (I used light brown sugar)
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Place your room temperature butter into your mixer. Blend until creamy texture.

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Creamy buttery mixture

2. Next, add in your brown sugar and your granulated sugar. Mix until well blended.

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Butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar

3. Mix in the egg and the vanilla extract for a smooth texture.

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YUM!

4. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and cornstarch. Slowing add to your dough mixture and blend together. The dough will be very thick so make sure you scrape the sides to get everything incorporated. Next, add in the chocolate chips and blend for 5 seconds.

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Dry ingredients

 

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Cookie dough

5. Cover your cookie dough with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least one hour. Once the dough has chilled preheat your oven for 350 degrees. I used a tablespoon measuring cup to make my cookies. I was able to make 32 cookies with this recipe.

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Ready for the oven

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6. Bake the cookies for 8-9 minutes and make sure to let cool completely.

 

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COOKIES

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cookies on cookies on cookies

Hope you enjoy. Let me know what you think 🙂

– blessin hearts

Tuesday’s Top 6 Fourth of July Desserts

Fourth of July is right around the corner which means barbeques and outdoor parties in celebration of this GREAT country!! And what better way to commemorate America than to create a beautiful dessert for everyone to enjoy.

Today I spent the better part of 4 hours 🙂 scouring Pinterest. and decided to share my top 6 desserts with you all. I have a feeling there is something for everyone in this list and I hope it inspires you to create your own patriotic dessert. If you do, make sure to share it with the rest of us.

6.

Watermelon

 

Okay, so I know that watermelon is technically not a dessert but I thought this was the most darling presentation and perfect for an outdoor celebration. Not to mention it’s super easy and you don’t have to follow any tricky recipes. I think I would even add some blueberries around the bottom of the watermelon just to add a little color. I love this fantastically creative idea.

5. Check out these cookies!!

http://www.apronstringsblog.com/tag/fourth-of-july-dessert/

Red, White, and Blue Sugar Cookies

Don’t they look divine? These are perfect because you could make everything from scratch or if you’re on a time crunch you could simply use sugar cookie dough and premade cream cheese icing would work just fine. Check out Apron Strings blog for the recipe to make this version.

4.

USA Fruit Flag

I honestly do not think you can get better than this. Bananas, Strawberries, and blueberries on skewers. Talk about a perfect marriage of cute and EASY.

3.

Red, White, and Blue Trifle

Trifles are one of my favorite party desserts in general. They are great because they are tasty and visually appealing at the same time. You can even play around with your own way to display the fruit on top. Find out how to make this trifle at Oh Delicioso.

2.

Cake

This one is amazing and completely customizable. Pick out your favorite yellow or white cake recipe and just add food coloring. The recipe for the cake seen above can be found at Her Campus.

 

1.

Cherry and Blueberry Pie

 

WOW! This is extravagant and I think I’d probably be scared to even try this cake. I would definitely need practice before any guests came over that’s for sure. But man oh man if you could pull this off people would still be talking about it the next year 🙂 Check out Women’s Day for instructions to create this masterpiece.

 

I plan on posting the dessert I decide to make this 4th. Post yours in the comments 🙂

 

– Always blessin hearts

Hydrangea Spring Wreath

Hydrangea Spring Wreath

Spring is finally here and I’m hoping this wreath is going to encourage the warm weather to stick around. I bough three hydrangea’s and hot glued them to a circle stick wreath. I then added a moss letter and made a cute bow from burlap rope. Super easy DIY project and inexpensive too. Make sure you take advantage of those Michael’s 40% coupons. 🙂

Chocolate Peanut Butter Poundcake….you’ll thank me later :)

Is there anything better than a warm and decadent dessert? I start smiling just thinking about that first bite. My mom is an incredible baker and I have a sweet tooth like no other. Since I’ve been out of the house and have my own kitchen I’ve set out to perfect my baking skills.

This past week I was scouring Pinterest and came across a recipe for a peanut butter pound cake and MY OH MY am I glad I did. This cake is absolutely divine. It’s like eating a homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup but 10 times better. After my first bite I was honestly surprised how great it turned out. One of the better cakes I’ve tried in awhile. The recipe I used can be found here. http://hubpages.com/hub/Peanut-Butter-Pound-Cake-Recipe

Below are some pics of my process.

Prepped Poundcake Pan

Prepped Pound Cake Pan

Prepping the cake pan is one of the MOST important things when it comes to a great pound cake.  I used cooking spray and flour and my cake came out perfectly.

Consistency before adding the milk and dry ingredients

Consistency before adding the milk and dry ingredients

 

After milk and dry ingredients

After milk and dry ingredients

Before going in the oven

Before going in the oven

Right after I took out of the oven

Right after I took out of the oven

Note* – In the recipe I used, she mentions that you will need to bake the cake 60 to 70 minutes.  My initial thought was that would be too long but I left my cake in the over almost 75 minutes before the toothpick came out clean.

cake 4

Frosted with chocolate chips

Frosted with chocolate chips

In the original recipe she describes several ways to serve the peanut butter pound cake. You could simply powder sugar the top or do a peanut butter frosting. I chose to make a chocolate peanut butter frosting and added chocolate chips to the top just for fun.

 

mmmmmm...so so good

mmmmmm…so so good

 

I seriously hope you try this recipe and enjoy it as much as I did 🙂 I’d love to hear how yours comes out.

My Big Day

BIG NEWS. I got married last month :), which is why I have been far far away from this blog for months. I personally had no idea how much planning, time and STRESS went into a wedding. I really didn’t. I thought I did, but I had no idea.

As it got closer and closer to the big day I found myself reading many a blog about wedding planning. Naturally, I should have started with this method but my excitement overtook me and I jumped in without really thinking.

There are so many great ideas out there but after surviving my HUGE wedding I felt like I need to share my do’s and don’ts as well. So here are my top 8 (because I didn’t have 10) wedding planning tips for all those lucky ladies out there.

1. Picture your day.

I mean really picture it. What do you see? How do you feel? Who is there?  All of that should be your first step in wedding planning. I sort of skipped this one and went right to Pinterest. The problem with Pinterest is it’s too BIG and you can easily get lost in ideas with nothing to connect them. If I could go back I would have sat down and thought about what I really wanted. What time of year, what type of atmosphere, intimate or large-scale? All of these things are important to the final look and feel of your perfect day.

2. My Top 3.

This is something I actually followed through with and I’m very glad. Weddings can get extremely expensive, especially if you or your soon to be hubby has a large family. Early on in the wedding process my mom and I sat down and chose the top 3 things that we felt were most important at the wedding. For me, I wanted a classically elegant wedding that was still relaxed and most of all FUN. We decided that the photographer, a live band, and the reception location were the most important things for us and that is where we decided to spend most of our money. If you don’t prioritize you will never be able to stick to a budget. In this case, flowers were not in my top 3 and in today’s world flowers make or break a wedding. I did not have very many flowers at my wedding or reception and yet I still had the time of my life. You need to make sure you pick what matters to you.

Best reception location, EVER! Ashley got some beautiful sunset pictures overlooking the water.

Best reception location, EVER! Ashley got some beautiful sunset pictures overlooking the water.

View More: http://ashleyvictoriaphotography.pass.us/lindsaylovestyler View More: http://ashleyvictoriaphotography.pass.us/lindsaylovestyler

3. Choose Wisely

This one I saw on many a blog posting about wedding tips and tricks. Choose your vendors wisely. Sites like weddingwire.com and theknot.com really are helpful in deciding on your vendors because they have real reviews out there from real brides. Another one of the best ways to find local vendors was bridal shows. If you have the chance to attend one, I definitely advise it. I also think it’s sort of similar to finding your hubby, when you know, you know. If you immediately connect with a particular photographer that’s a pretty good sign you will enjoy them and feel confident in their abilities throughout the process. I also felt that vendors who used actual written contracts, with names, dates, prices, and detailed descriptions of their plans for your wedding were the BEST to work with. These people were experienced and it showed in their final product.

4. The List.

Okay this is a biggie. The dreaded guest list….. dun dun dun. I don’t know if most people know but making a guest list is by far one of the MOST difficult parts in planning a wedding. It’s so hard to find that perfect line in the sand between friends of 2014 and friends forever. It’s best to tackle this head on and early because you’ll need to know how many people you expect before you can pick a venue or set a budget. Also, try not get upset with your parents, especially if they are paying for most of the wedding. I was so frustrated with my mom who wanted to invite all of their besties but in the end it worked out and we got lots of great gifts :). My last bit of guest list advice is HUGE. I heard from everyone and read this everywhere and it did not ring true for us at all. Several wedding advice articles advise that only about 75% of the guest list will actually attend which can encourage you to invite more people. In our case, almost everyone we invited sent back yes on our RSVP and we ended up having to add a couple of extra tables last-minute. Super stressful when you’re in bride mode.

5. DIY Disaster

I am all about crafting. I love it and it seriously makes me happy. BUT I send this out as a warning…. Don’t overdue yourself. Sometimes it ends up being more expensive to make everything yourself than just hiring someone to do it for you. It can also become very stressful if something isn’t turning out the way you thought or desired. Weddings are already so stressful. Do you really want to add more by trying to Pinterest everything you see? I say pick one or two things you want to make and put all your efforts into those. Let the professionals handle everything else.

Of course I had some DIY Pinterest inspiration with the little coffee favor goodie bags.

Of course I had some DIY Pinterest inspiration with the little coffee favor goodie bags.

A view of the entire thank you gift table.

A view of the entire thank you gift table.

6. Your Man

SEE YOUR MAN BEFORE. I was sooo completely against this before I got engaged. I really wanted to hold onto tradition like my parents before me but I can honestly say this was the BEST decision I made. My photographer really encouraged me to see Tyler before to get more pictures and ease our minds. I woke up so nervous the morning of the wedding, I couldn’t relax to even eat a cookie dough filled doughnut from Dunkin (now that’s a problem). As soon as I saw Tyler all of my nerves went away and I got full-fledged excited! Walking down the aisle was still just as special and I really was able to enjoy myself.

We had our first look in the sanctuary of the church. Very special moment.

We had our first look in the sanctuary of the church. Very special moment.

7. Confidence

This was difficult for me as my wedding day approached. I had already made almost all of the big decisions and yet I faced a whole lot of anxiety concerning whether or not the wedding was going to be good enough. The thing about it is… I loved the way my wedding turned out and it was a perfect day for my husband and I. I really do feel like it reflected our personalities and that our guests had fun. The problem is that while planning a wedding you get 10000000000’s of opinions and it’s very easy to let these opinions make you second guess yourself and feel pretty lousy especially when they are coming from friends and family who you love and care. The key is to have confidence in what you want and the decisions you made. People will just have to respect your ideas and your DAY and if they don’t well they either had their wedding day or the will and they can do everything just the way they want.

I really did have an amazing time and from these pictures it looks like our friends and family did as well.

I really did have an amazing time and from these pictures it looks like our friends and family did as well.

View More: http://ashleyvictoriaphotography.pass.us/lindsaylovestyler View More: http://ashleyvictoriaphotography.pass.us/lindsaylovestyler View More: http://ashleyvictoriaphotography.pass.us/lindsaylovestyler View More: http://ashleyvictoriaphotography.pass.us/lindsaylovestyler

8. Planner, planner, planner

I leave you with my final tip and that is to hire a wedding planner if you can. Wedding planners can be super expensive and are in my opinion an added bonus. I did not have a planner and my wedding was fabulous. I will say that I feel like the last month before the wedding would have so much smoother if I had a planner. They are basically in charge and responsible for making your day everything you dreamed and it would have been awesome to have someone to call on when the venue was asking if you preferred Swedish meatballs or Sweet and Sour. (who even knows?) They are also extremely useful on the day of the wedding to make sure all the vendors do their part and to keep you and the groom on schedule. You don’t want to miss out on cake cutting or throwing the bouquet because you’re caught up in a convo with long lost aunt betty 🙂 If there’s room in the budget it’s worth it! Second thought, we did have a day-of coordinator that was a family friend. This is a great way to have someone who will be in charge but not break the bank.

And then best of all, you get to run away with the love of your life!

And then best of all, you get to run away with the love of your life!

Vendors that I loved….And you would too 🙂

Photographer – www.ashleycochrane.com

Band – www.bluedenimband.com

Cake – www.justthinkcake.com

Photobooth – www.mopixphotobooth.com