happy new year!


Have a life-changing, world-shaping, wonderful, purposeful, awe-inspiring, incredible, fantastic, magnificent, extraordinary, blessed, thrilling, blissful, grace-filled, jubilant, delicious, unbelievable, astonishing, mind-blowing, spectacular, and ridiculously HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

images via 1, 2, 3

Mismatched ‘maids| Engaged & Inspired

The mere utterance of the words “bridesmaid dress” can evoke cringe-worthy images of dated dresses with tacky fabrics, unflattering colors or ill fitting styles. Of course, this is (usually) not the case anymore as bridesmaids’ dress fashion has come a long way over the years. There are many wonderful dress options to choose from these days but I’m not quite sure that the promise of “You can wear it again” will be able to regain its credibility any time soon…what do you think?

Luckily for me, I have no desire to follow the tradition of having my girls dressed the same, so I’m letting them select their own dresses. That means the pressure of having to choose a dress that everyone likes is off… *phew!* My girls are all beautiful, unique and fabulous in their own ways and I want their dress selections to showcase that. I’ve given them a few basic “guidelines” to follow when selecting their dresses but other than that, it’s up to them.

The pictures below make me absolutely giddy and represent my vision for my mismatched ‘maids. Check out my Pinterest page for more bridesmaid dress inspiration!

My full post and picture credits can be found here.

best.brownies.EVER.


WARNING:  If you are a “cakey” brownie lover you probably wont like this brownie.  This recipe is for serious fudge brownie lovers only!  Read on if you love a rich & gooey brownie 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Combine the melted butter, sugars, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each.
  3. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt and then gradually stir the flour mix into the chocolate mix until just blended. Do not over stir!
  4. Gently stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Spread the batter evenly into the greased baking dish.
  6. Bake in preheated oven about 35 minutes*. Remove and cool pan on wire rack before cutting.
  7. Serve with a tall glass of cold milk and enjoy 🙂

* You can bake a little longer if you want less gooey brownies.

Yields about 24 brownies.

 

 

eggnog cheesecake.

There’s not much to say about this recipe except O M G!  If you like eggnog, you will love this cheesecake!  It’s so creamy and has a wonderful consistency.  Seriously, this is one of the best cheesecakes I’ve made.  Make sure you follow the instructions exactly- especially the part about using a food processor for the cream cheese.  It makes a world of difference!

easy oreo truffles.

(lots and lots of oreos to be crushed)

(this is what the oreo + cream cheese mix looks like…not very appetizing, I know…)

The finished product- I haven’t quite perfected how to make them look more “professional” but they sure taste great!  You can find the recipe here.  I’ve used this recipe twice-  I follow it exactly but I refrigerate the filling overnight.  It makes the handling of the truffles much easier!

it’s a shoe thing| Engaged & Inspired

“Cinderella is proof that a new pair of shoes can change your life.” – Anonymous

I must admit that I have been spending an unhealthy amount of time drooling over shoes online in search of the perfect pair to wear on the big day. Early on in my wedding planning I briefly thought about wearing cute flats the whole day but I quickly dismissed that idea after seeing so many fabulous shoe shots on just about every post of every wedding blog I stalk. I’ve decided to jump on board the killer heels train and to suffer through the inevitable pain…of course, I just might have to have an adorable pair of flats on hand for later in the evening…a girl needs options, right?!

When I began my search, I immediately fell in love with a pair of Gucci heels that are not even on the same planet as my budget. I quickly realized that many of the shoes I am drawn to come with hefty price tags. However, I also noticed that there are many knock-offs/similar styles out there to choose from. Lucky for you, I’ve done the dirty work and have put together some examples of high vs. lower priced shoe options that are sure to fit any budget. Check them out and let me know what you think!

badgley mischka randee
multi glitter shoes
gucci sofia

I also came across some amazing DIY tutorials for making your own crystal shoes. One bride-to-be that is blinging out her own heels even covered the bottom of her shoes in glitter…such a fun idea!  Check out her tutorial here.

The question is, should you splurge or save on your wedding shoes? What type of shoes are you planning to wear? Are any of you planning on adding any fun details to your footwear?

My shopping guide to find the fabulous footwear featured above can be found on my original blog post here.

chocolate peanut butter cups.

Do you love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as much as I do? If so, then you have to try my easy recipe for homemade mini chocolate peanut butter cups.  They make great holiday treats!

(yep, these 4 ingredients are all you need)

(filling the cups is a breeze with a squeeze bottle)

(they look like the real deal, no?)

(tip: display the finished product on a Christmas tree tray)

Ingredients:

  • 320 g dark chocolate chips
  • 200 g peanut butter (I use creamy but you could also use crunchy), room temperature
  • 2 g salt
  • 50 g powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Line a mini muffin tray (I use a tray like this) with paper liners.
  2. Melt half of the chocolate chips in the microwave on medium heat (this should take approximately 1.5-2 minutes…be sure to stir the chocolate about 1/2 way through).
  3. Fill the liners with the melted chocolate about halfway full making sure to coat the sides of the cups.  This can be done easily with a small spoon.  Place the tray of cups into the refrigerator to cool and harden.
  4. While the cups are cooling, mix the peanut butter, salt and powdered sugar in a medium sized bowl.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a squeeze bottle and divide the mix into the prepared cups.
  6. Melt the remaining chocolate and either transfer to a squeeze bottle or spoon over the cups making sure to spread the chocolate to the edges (I use a bottle and then a spoon to smooth out the tops).
  7. Place in the fridge until chocolate is firm.
  8. Eat and enjoy!

Yields about 24+ mini cups.

Note:  This recipe has been adapted from here.

sneak peek: holiday treats.

I was busy this weekend, can you tell? 🙂  Thought I’d give you all a peek at what I was up to…I’ll be featuring a recipe a day this week so stay tuned!

avocado mushroom & chicken pasta.

I am a lucky girl and normally my fiancé does the cooking (since I do the baking, I think that’s a fair trade, no?).  It’s not that I’m opposed to cooking, it’s just that he works from home and I do not, so a) it’s easier for him and b) he’s really good at it 🙂  However, every now and then I get the urge to break out the pots and pans and whip up a yummy meal for us too.  Last night was one of those nights and I am happy to report that my attempt at this recipe was a success.  I followed the advice from some of the comments and added a splash (or two or threee…) of white wine.  I also read that adding bacon makes it even more wonderful so I will be trying that next time.  Bon appetit!

Transportation Inspiration| Engaged & Inspired.

I’ve got transportation on the brain this week. My fiancé and I decided that a “must” for our wedding would be to arrange buses to shuttle our guests to and from the venue so that no one has to drink and drive, as well as limos for the wedding party to get to the venue. I knew it might be a tricky task trying to organize it but I was not prepared for just how frustrating it could be. We assumed it would cost us about $1500 total…imagine our surprise when the first quote we received was for over $3800!

Luckily, I found a great company that will provide bus services for a very reasonable price. Now I have the task of organizing transportation for the wedding party. Every company I’ve contacted has a 3 hour minimum for limo service which, even though it’s standard, really bothers me since we only need it for less than one hour. I don’t even particularly like limos but it seems to be the easiest option for getting us all there as a group. In my quest for finding suitable transportation options, I’ve come across some really fabulous and fun alternatives for the bride and groom to make their exit. Take a look!

What are you doing about transportation?  Are your providing it for your guests?  How are you and your hubby-to-be getting home (or to a hotel) after the wedding?  I’d love to hear about your plans!

credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

You can also read this post here.

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