An Uncomplicated Life Blog

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Our Wedding Day Story

A look back at our wedding day on our 4th anniversary

I was absolutely one of "those girls" who had her wedding planned before she had even met her future husband. Guilty as charged on that one. In fact, I had not one but two weddings planned because I couldn't decide which one I liked better. I remember being at work and gmail chatting with my friends about weddings when I was in my mid-twenties. We'd send each other Style Me Pretty links with dresses, floral arrangements, laugh at hideous bridesmaid dresses and ohhh and ahhhh at ten layer cakes. When my time finally did come around for my wedding, I looked at my husband on the night he proposed to me and said, "Ok, I have our wedding all planned! Do you want a black tie winter wedding or a garden party summer wedding?" He said winter, and the very next day I was on the phone with the venue I had picked out for my winter wedding, getting our date locked in.

We had one of our friends officiate, and did the Scottish "tying of the hands ceremony" with my husband's family tartan

It's a good thing I was so prepared, because I called a year early and there was still only ONE date left at the Saint Paul Hotel for a January or February wedding! I scooped it up and had a contract signed with them within my first week of being engaged. Getting the date locked in was my immediate task - as a former event planner I was well aware how quickly the best venues get booked. After that though, I was pretty relaxed about everything but my dress and slowly and calmly planned the rest of my details over the year of our engagement. The wedding colors were black, white and gold which made planning really quite easy!

Grand staircase at The Saint Paul Hotel

Ahhhh, the dress! That's a story. We got engaged and then moved to Dallas two weeks later. Needless to say, I had no idea where to shop, nor did I have anyone to go shopping with (yet). My sister flew into town to take our engagement photos and I knew this would have to be the weekend I got my dress. A friend recommended we go to Neiman Marcus and since I had zero other ideas, we went there first. The sales gal was delightful and so was there selection of dresses! Unfortunately, so were the prices. Hubs and I agreed I could spend $5,000 on the dress. So of course, the dress I fell in love with was more. I called and asked if I could up the budget, and he obliged me. Sister and I headed up to the cafe in Neiman's to celebrate my new found poverty. And then...

I was a full five months pregnant - could you tell?!

Fast forward six months. I find out I'm pregnant. One of the first calls I made was to Neiman's to discuss my dress! I kid you not, I think I called Neiman's before I even called a midwife or OB. She walked me through the process of what would happen next: My custom gown couldn't be "returned" but it could likely be altered. So we would wait until two weeks before the wedding and start alterations then. They ended up having to rip out the whole top of the dress and re-make it. I needed an extra inch and a half of bead work for the waist, and it just so happened that another gal had ordered the dress but didn't want the bead work on hers, so I got it. I mean, talk about luck! In the end, my over the budget dress cost us another $2k for alterations to fit my 19 week baby bump.

Black, white and gold color scheme. My flowers had gold glitter twigs in them - some of my favorite details my florist included

I asked the sales gal, "What if I had a completely beaded gown that couldn't have been altered?" To which she told me, "You'd have to put the dress on consignment and start from scratch." Meaning, you'd have been out of luck and out of about $10,000. I damn near fainted at that possibility!

Our cake had fresh flowers and was covered in sugar crystals. It was vanilla with raspberry and creme filling.

Back to our wedding - the dress turned out to be the most dramatic thing that happened. The Saint Paul Hotel is one of two 5 star hotels in the Twin Cities and did a wonderful job catering our steak and seafood duet. They also did our cake which people still talk about how good it was (the secret? Not too sweet!) and when we cut it, it was the gender reveal for Henry. Our photographer did a great job and was fun to have around. My DJ was on point and everyone was dancing. Besides the surprise pregnancy and near dress failure, all the other details fell into place perfectly.

Why not have a gender reveal when you surprisingly get pregnant a few months before your wedding?

I literally got the wedding of my dreams to the man of my dreams. There isn't ONE thing I'd do differently. Well ok, maybe one. I spray tanned before the wedding and now looking at photos I think about how orange I look, but that was the "look" back then. Other than that, I love how classic everything was and how even in another 15 years, I won't think how "dated" things look. That was my goal: A classic, timeless wedding. Four years to the day later, I still love looking back at photos and thinking about how fun that day was. Happy Anniversary dear husband!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Minty Mediterranean Quinoa

A healthy, protein packed vegetarian meal full of Mediterranean flavors

Last Thursday I posted about why I'm a semi-vegetarian, what that means and why it's important for my personal health and the health of the planet (it's the post just below this one if you're in a scrolling mood). Changing your diet can be overwhelming at first, but once it becomes normalized it becomes a habit and once it becomes a habit, you're set in your new healthier lifestyle! I mentioned that I eat a ton of quinoa, and this minty Mediterranean quinoa is one of my favorite ways to prepare it.

There are two big factors to this meal tasting amazing: 1) you HAVE to use fresh herbs (mint and parsley) and 2) go light on the feta. I'm a massive cheese lover and support eating cheese at any and all times, but feta has such a strong, distinct taste that it can overtake a dish. Too much feta in this minty Mediterranean quinoa and it goes from being a light, fresh tasting meal to coating your mouth in a thick feta film that I personally find water won't rise away.

Minty Mediterranean Quinoa
- 1 package quinoa (16oz)
- 1 package grape tomatoes
- 1 cucumber
- 1/2 of a small to medium red onion
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (red wine vinegar would also work)
- 1 15oz can garbanzo beans
- juice from 1 lemon
- 1 bunch fresh parsley
- 1 bunch fresh mint
- 1 tablespoon dried onion
- 1 6oz container of feta cheese
- salt and pepper

How to best cook quinoa
Start by making the quinoa. I find that if I follow the directions on the package, it turns out mushy. The best way I've found to make quinoa is to do slightly less than a 1:2 ratio (one cup quinoa to slightly less than 2 cups of water). Bring the water to a boil and salt it, then add the dried onion. Cook  covered on medium low heat until the water is gone, then turn off the heat and let the quinoa "steam" in the covered pan for another half an hour. Your quinoa will turn out fluffy and not over-cooked this way, and flavored perfectly with the salt and dried onion.

While the quinoa is cooking, chop up the cucumber in bite size pieces, halve the grape tomatoes and finely chop the red onion. Add to a large mixing bowl. Add olive oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Pick the parsley and mint leaves off the stems and finely chop them, adding them to the bowl. In my opinion, the more fresh herbs the better this dish is! Mix together and let marinate while the quinoa cooks and cools.

Once the quinoa is room temperature, add the garbanzo beans to the mixing bowl. Fold in the quinoa. Mix in about 4-5 ounces of the feta (you can always add more or leave the extra for people to top their individual bowls). This dish can be served room temperature or it can be made ahead and served cold from the fridge. It will keep for about 3-4 days in a sealed container in the fridge and easily serves 4-6 adults.

Want more healthy vegetarian recipes? Check these out:
Crock Pot cream of mushroom soup (great for eating or for casseroles)  

Healthy vegetarian quinoa recipe
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Quinoa is an awesome choice for vegetarians (or semi vegetarians like me) because it's an ancient grain that's a complete protein. It's also gluten free, so it meets a variety of dietary needs! You could keep the feta on the side and this dish would be totally vegan, too. It's exciting to see people become more aware of what they're putting into their bodies, and make better choices for themselves and the environment. This minty Mediterranean quinoa is a great recipe to support healthy eating!