Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Homemade Chipotle Burritos

My husband loves Chipotle, but we don't have one nearby. A few weeks into our marriage, I came up with the idea of attempting to make homemade Chipotle burritos. After some experimentation, I was able to prepare a burrito that made my husband's mouth water. The recipe is long and includes several smaller recipes, which I will post throughout the rest of this week.

According to my husband, the most important part of a burrito is the meat. (Personally, I think it's the guacamole.) We have decided that seasoned ground beef works best.

Homemade Chipotle Burritos: Seasoned Ground Beef
Mix the following spices in a bowl:
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
-In a mixing bowl, combine the spice mixture with 2 pounds of raw ground beef. 
-Transfer to a skillet, and brown the meat. 
-To enhance the flavor of the meat (and make dinner preparation easier), I usually dump the meat and its grease into my crock pot and keep it on warm for an hour before serving. If your meat is lean and doesn't release much grease, add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil to prevent it from drying out. 

If the meat tastes bland to you, feel free to add more spices. The beauty of making Chipotle burritos at home is that you can adjust the flavor to suit your taste buds! 

Click here to view the second segment of my Chipotle recipe.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Magnificent Meal Monday

Do you suffer from the Monday doldrums? My husband and I were discussing how difficult it can be to crawl out of bed on Monday mornings when you have a full week ahead. We both enjoy our jobs, but it is still disappointing when the weekend ends and it is time to get back to work.

Mr. Handsome mentioned that it is much easier to start the week when he has something to look forward to on Monday evenings. "How about we plan to have a really good dinner every Monday?" he suggested. We came up with a list of dishes we both love, and Magnificent Meal Monday became a weekly tradition. (It started off as Awesome Meal Monday, but we decided that just didn't sound right.)

Last week, I prepared homemade Chipotle burritos (recipe coming soon), and tonight I'm making homemade pizza and chocolate pudding. In case you're curious, here is our list of favorite meals:

Baby Back Ribs
Homemade Chipotle Burritos
Hot Wings
Homemade Pizza
BBQ Wings

Friday, September 25, 2015

More Banjo..."Flash Flood"

Earlier this week, I posted a video of my husband playing “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” on banjo. For those who asked for more, I have another video to share. This one is an original song that Mr. Handsome wrote, called “Flash Flood.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dress Barn Bridesmaid Dresses

A few readers asked for a photo of the dresses my bridesmaids wore. I liked them so much that I bought one for myself! The dresses were on sale for $35 at Dress Barn, and the girls have been able to wear them for other occasions after our wedding.

The neckline is low, so we bought an extra dress and used that material to sew a piece of fabric into each girl's gown. We didn't have time to add material to mine, so I just wear a tank top or camisole underneath.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My Husband the Banjo Player

My husband has a hidden talent...he plays banjo! He took lessons in piano, classical violin, and fiddle starting at age four and began studying banjo in junior high. After learning the basics from a family friend, he then went on to teach himself through high school and college.

Listening to my husband play music always puts me in a cheerful mood, and I look forward to watching him use his talents to teach our children someday. Here is a video we filmed last night of Mr. Handsome playing "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" on banjo. If you enjoy this one, I'll post more!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Getting Crafty...Wedding Card Box

Between my mom, mother-in-law, and five sisters-in-law, as well as various aunts, grandmas, and cousins, I was blessed to have a lot of eager helpers during the wedding planning process.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I wasn't too particular about the majority of the details (see "Wedding Planning: A Family Affair"), so I let these ladies make a lot of the decorating decisions.

I did, however, want to add my own--and Mr. Handsome's--decorative flavor to the wedding, so the two of us completed a few craft projects together. One of those projects was a card box.

The other ladies wanted to find a fancy bird cage to use as a card box, so we spent an entire morning browsing several stores, but we couldn't find any that were less than $50 and large enough for our big wedding.

I came up with the idea of decorating a cardboard box, and my husband-to-be offered to help.

It's hard to pass up free, especially if the card box is just going to sit on the gift table and be buried by presents. The project was also a great excuse to spend time with Mr. Handsome and get him involved in the planning process. What do you think of our work?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My Vintage Wedding Dress

A number of you have asked about my wedding dress, so let me tell you.

The day we returned from our Florida engagement trip with both sets of parents, one of Mr. Handsome's aunts offered to let me try on her wedding dress. At that point, I hadn't even thought about what I wanted my gown to look like, so I figured I might as well try hers on.

The minute I stepped into it, all the ladies began gushing over how beautiful it was and how easy it would be to altar. 'Alright,' I thought. 'Might as well just go with this one.' And that's what I did.

The dress is from the 1980s and was a bit big on me, so we had a seamstress friend work her magic. Here is the original gown:

The seamstress shortened the sleeves, made the bodice a little more snug, and removed some of the lace and beads around the neck. That was all that needed to be done. The best part was she only charged us $20 for the alterations. What a sweet lady!

The dress had a beautiful train with thousands of small, sparkly beads along the edge. It also had a bustle, which came in handy for the outdoor reception. To add a little extra poof to the skirt, I wore a crinoline.

Monday, September 14, 2015

DIY Wedding Food

After I shared photos of our DIY wedding reception, a few readers asked what was on our menu. The main dish was barbecued pulled pork, courtesy of Mr. Handsome's aunt and uncle. Then we had a friend with a catering service provide Parmesan chicken, macaroni & cheese, mixed veggies, glazed carrots, and Caesar salad with homemade dressing.

We served the food buffet-style, and everything was delicious. I would love to get my hands on the recipes! There were tons of leftovers, which our families enjoyed while we were away on our honeymoon....

For dessert, several friends and family members put together a spectacular sweets table. Once again, everything was delicious, but Mr. Handsome and I only had time to try one or two types of cookies.

We also rented two soft-serve ice cream machines (one chocolate and one vanilla). There aren't many places that rent them out, so we were grateful when Mr. Handsome's two brothers offered to drive three hours to pick them up the day before the wedding.

Early on in the planning process, we decided that we wanted either ice cream or milkshakes instead of cake, but we didn't want to have to bother with coolers. Soft-serve machines were a great solution because the ice cream stayed nice and cold. They were only a few hundred dollars to rent, and the ice cream mix was cheap.

We had sweet tea, strawberry lemonade, regular lemonade, and water available in drink dispensers. (These drink dispensers had a center compartment for ice, which was great on a hot, summer day.)

We also had a canoe (borrowed from a friend) filled with ice, water bottles, soda cans, and containers of sparkling juice. (We found that idea on Pinterest, of course.)

We kept the food under a tent that was purchased for our wedding and future family get-togethers. It was used three additional times this summer, so I would say it was worth the money

Friday, September 11, 2015

DIY Wedding Reception

We were married at a local Baptist church, and our wedding reception was held in my inlaws' backyard. They own a country property with several acres of land and plenty of shade trees.

The red building in the pictures below is called the barn, although it is really just a glorified tool shed that is sometimes home to a few chickens. (The chickens all passed away over the winter, and my inlaws decided to wait until after the wedding to replace them.)

Due to rain, our initial plan to set up for the reception all day Friday didn't work out. Rain was also in the forecast for Saturday, but thankfully we had the library banquet hall reserved as a backup location.

After the rehearsal dinner on Friday, we looked at the weather radar and decided to risk it and start setting up outside. A couple dozen friends and family members from out of town came over to the house, and within an hour, the backyard was transformed into a beautiful wedding venue. 

On Saturday morning, while my bridesmaids and I were having our hair and makeup done, everyone else was back at the house adding last minute decorations. When Mr. Handsome and I walked into the backyard after the wedding ceremony, we were blown away. It was a scene right out of a magazine, and there was even a private dinner table set up for us in the tree house.

The weather was perfect, and our guests enjoyed themselves immensely.

The tables were decorated with mason jars sitting on slabs of wood that Mr. Handsome cut himself. As you can see, the large jars had hydrangeas in them. Each small jar had a batter-powered tea light sitting on white sugar. (Our initial plan was to use sand, but all the sand we found was dirt colored.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My Kind of Fishing Trip

Labor Day weekend was incredibly busy for us, but we had a blast. We spent most of the time with Mr. Handsome's family because they live closest, but my family was able to drive down for a day to see us.

On Saturday, we spent all afternoon and evening at Mr. Handsome's great-grandmother's 100th birthday party. On the way home, Mr. Handsome decided it would be a good idea to stop by his grandmother's house and throw a couple fishing lines in her pond. Trying to be a good wife, I went along with it, although it was pitched black, and the only flashlight we had was the one on my iPhone.

We ended up catching three, two-foot long catfish in the span of about 15 minutes. (One of them was mine, although Mr. Handsome helped get it out of the water.) We went back the next day and caught five more in under an hour. Now that's my kind of fishing!

While taking pictures of the fish, Mr. Handsome suggested we show our wedding rings to represent the teamwork it took to catch them.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Day Fit for a Klutz

This morning, I reached into the fridge and grabbed a 3-quart bowl filled with watermelon, but it slipped out of my hands and landed on the floor. Watermelon went everywhere. Juice splattered across the kitchen floor and all over the sliding door, and the bowl, a wedding present made of recycled melamine, cracked. I stood there in disbelief for a good 10 seconds before proceeding to clean up the mess.

That was klutzy move number 1. Later in the day, I managed to drop a glass jar of tomato sauce from a height of about four feet. As it was falling, I closed my eyes and braced myself for disaster. When I opened them to survey the damage, I was shocked to find the jar laying on the ground, completely unscathed. I was overjoyed, although the increase in heart rate still made it a stressful ordeal.

Do you ever have days like that? When you feel like you're just minutes away from your next blunder?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Pinterest-Perfect Wedding Shower

Back in May, I was blessed to have three wedding showers, thrown by my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law, a friend from church, and Mr. Handsome's aunts. The first one was very much a "Pinterest-Perfect" Shower. My oldest sister-in-law, Anne, headed up the decorating, and she and the other girls did a fabulous job.

The theme was "Love is Brewing." This mantle decoration is made of brown paper and string.

Anne and her sisters wrote cute sayings on bulletin boards covered with chalkboard paper. This one says: "Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue; 44 Days 'Til They Say 'I Do.'"

And this one shows the progression of our dating courtship.

Anne created a crossword puzzle with facts about Mr. Handsome and me and handed out prizes to the people who could fill in the most answers.

Guests were served refreshments and cheese cake. (My mother-in-law even provided special snacks for our gluten free guests.) The sign in this picture says "Have Tea with the Bride-to-Be."

On one of the walls in the living room, my in-laws hung pictures of us from our childhoods. They also had a station where guests could address an envelope to themselves (genius idea!), which made thank you notes a whole lot easier.

Then, of course, there were gifts. My mom folded all the wrapping paper and tissue paper so I could start off with a good supply as a new wife.