Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Post-Wedding Q&A with the Bride

The timing of yesterday's post on the McGowan Images Blog was just perfect to play into today's "Wedding Wednesday" post. Several weeks ago, our fabulous wedding photographers sent me an email asking if I'd be interested in participating in their "Ask a McG Bride" series. Well, duh! I'm more than happy to participate in anything related to The.Best.Day, so I very willingly filled out Chelsea's questionnaire and waited for my responses to be posted on their blog. Well, yesterday was the day! I've copied all of the questions and responses below, but click here to see McGowans' original post. 

All photo credit within this post goes to our phenomenal photographers, Mack and Chelsea of McGowan Images.

Below are a few of our engagement photos {taken in late April of 2013}. The photos were taken at Fort Worth Botanical Garden, and The Modern {art museum}, also in Fort Worth.



And now, on to the Q&A...

Wedding Date:
November 2, 2013

Venue:
The Oak Water Ranch, Granbury, Texas
Granbury, TX; Lukens Martin Wedding
Dancing under the stars {and twinkling lights} at The OW Ranch

How long was your engagement?
Just over 10 months


Why did you choose that wedding date, and do you think your engagement period was “long enough” to get everything done?
We knew we wanted a fall wedding, but we weren't set on a specific date {except I was told it couldn't be the opening weekend of hunting season}. We set the date based on when our venue was available. The length of our engagement was the perfect amount of time.

Did you enjoy wedding planning, or was it stressful for you?
I enjoyed wedding planning...but I never in a million years could have done it without our planner, HeidiBeth Ramirez {The Wedding Connection}. She coached us through all the decisions and made us aware of all the little things that have to be done that we wouldn't have thought of {or thought of too late!}. I can't even imagine how stressful the planning would have been without HeidiBeth. My advice to all brides would be that a wedding coordinator is worth their weight in gold! Not only did she get us through all of the wedding planning, but because of HeidiBeth and her team, Ryan and I {and our families} were able to enjoy our wedding day without worrying about a thing!

How involved was your fiancé/parents in wedding planning?
Ryan was very involved...more than I ever expected he would be. One of his friends who'd gotten married a couple of years before us advised him never to say "I don't care" when I asked him anything wedding-related, so he always had an opinion. My mom was also very involved in the planning process. We couldn't have done it without her help. Our parents always gave us their opinions when we asked, but the final decisions were up to Ryan and me.

What was most important to you in the planning of your wedding?
After we booked our venue and had a date set in stone, finding the right photographer was our highest priority. Photos are really the only tangible thing to keep from your wedding day, so having a photographer that would really capture "us" was very important.  We stalked photography blogs and met with several photographers. We fell in love with McGowans' style of photography...and the albums that Mack puts together to document the entire day really sealed the deal. Going with Chelsea and Mack was a fabulous decision. We L.O.V.E. our photos and have gotten so many compliments on how great the images turned out.

Was there one vendor in particular that you really loved? 
We had an A-MAZ-ing team of vendors! As I mentioned above, I'm not sure there even would have been a wedding if it hadn't been for HeidiBeth's coordination. The McG's gave us beautiful images that we can keep forever...and captured photos of things I didn't even notice on the day of the wedding {details, etc.}. Chelsea and Mack obviously have lots of experience and know what they're doing bc one of them was always in just the right place at just the right time to capture images that are truly bursting with emotion. I also want to give shout outs to:
  • DJ Rod Baker {DFW Parties} for making our reception a great party! 
  • Adrianne and Aytek {Turquoise Video Productions} for a phenomenal wedding highlight video. {Click here to see the blog post about our wedding video!}
Did anything surprise you about planning your wedding?
It's nearly impossible to find an invitation suite that can be mailed with standard postage. In the budgeting process, you should just plan that your invitations are going to require additional postage {it adds up fast!}. 

Were you able to stick to your wedding budget, if you had one? 
We stuck to the budget for the most part. Cutting our guest list was the biggest challenge for us, so anything over budget was due to having a few more guests than the original budget allowed for. We were told, on average, a wedding in this area costs about $200 per guest, and that proved to be pretty accurate for our big day.

What was the major difference in planning your wedding vs. the way things actually came together?
I really have no idea how things actually came together on the day of the wedding. I'm telling you...having a coordinator and vendors you trust is crucial if you're going to truly enjoy your wedding day. We didn't think/worry about a thing on the day of our wedding. When we arrived at the OW Ranch for photos, I was blown away with how perfect everything was set up. I can't imagine all the work that went on behind the scenes to make everything so beautiful, but I am forever grateful to HeidiBeth and our fabulous vendors for taking care of everything and ensuring that the day went off without a hitch.


Rustic Chic Wedding Decor, Fall Wedding Flowers, Lukens Martin Wedding

I will say that 10 months of planning does go by in the blink of an eye when it comes to the actual wedding day. Everyone will tell you that the day will fly by, but you'll still not be prepared for how quickly time will pass. Just be sure to enjoy every moment. Take time to chat with as many guests as you can. You'll never have that many people who love/care about you all in the same place again. Don't forget that the day really is all about the two of you becoming one...so as long as you're married at the end of the day, it will have been a success!

What was your favorite moment of your wedding day?
The first moment I saw Ryan was, hands down, my favorite moment of the day. One of the best decisions we made was to do a "first look" before the ceremony. Not only did it allow us to save time between the ceremony and reception, but it also gave us a few moments to just take it all in together...to fully absorb what the day was all about just the two of us. It was the calmest few moments of the entire day. It truly felt like we were the only two people in the world during that time.


Fall Ranch Wedding, First Look, Lukens Martin Wedding

For couples having a hard time deciding whether or not to do a "first look," I say do it! I don't feel like it took away from Ryan's reaction to seeing me walk down the aisle. That's a totally different situation that spurred different emotions/reaction. In fact, I think I got a more genuine reaction to him seeing me in my wedding dress for the first time because it was just the two of us. Some of our best photos are from before the ceremony. I will go ahead and admit that I might be a little vain and wanted to make sure we got images when my hair and makeup were at their best! 

What, if anything, would you change about your wedding day?
I wouldn't change a thing. It was PERFECT...better than we ever imagined. The absolute best day!







Monday, April 28, 2014

I Baked!

Ok...I'll give  you a couple of moments to compose yourselves from the shock you must be in after reading the title of this post. 

C'mon now, it's not that far-fetched that I baked...I mean, I do have a sweet tooth that runs my life! Anyway, I saw this fabulous looking Strawberry Yogurt Cake on Katie Elizabeth's "Five on Friday" post last week, so I decided to give it a try! She linked back to A Spicy Perspective for the original recipe {see it here}.


This photo is from A Spicy Perspective, where Katie Elizabeth found the original recipe!

Sooo...I set out to make this perfect-for-spring dessert, and it turned out pretty yummy! If I were to make it again, I think I'd use more strawberries...but it was still pretty tasty with the just 16 ounces, as called for in the recipe.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup of butter {2 sticks}, softened
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons {I have to spell this out because the teaspoon/tablespoon abbreviations sometimes confuse me!} of lemon juice, divided
  • Zest of 1 lemon {don't worry, I'll explain ZEST in a bit...the husband had to teach me!}
  • 2½ cups of flour, divided
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 8 ounces of plain {or vanilla} Greek yogurt
  • 16 ounces of fresh strawberries, diced
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.
  2. Sift together 2 ¼ cups of flour, the baking soda and salt. {Sidenote: I don’t own a sifter, so of course I turned to google for an alternate method…there are several options, but I just used a wire whisk to aerate and even-out the density of this mixture.}
  3. Mix in the lemon zest and set aside. {What the heck is lemon zest, you ask? Well, it’s little tiny shavings of the lemon peel. Surprisingly enough, I don’t own a zester either…but my handy-dandy cheese-grater worked just fine to zest my lemon!}
  4. I just had to photo-document my fabulous zesting skills!
  5. New bowl: with an electric mixer, cream together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  6. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. {Why one at a time? I don't get it! Next time I think I'll do all three at once...just to be a rebel!}
  7. Mix in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
  8. Alternate beating in the flour mixture and the Greek yogurt. {I used vanilla yogurt because I don't like plain yogurt...not that I would have been able to taste it in the final product anyway...but I'm just picky like that!}
  9. Toss the strawberries with the remaining ¼ cup of flour {this helps the strawberries spread out evenly in the batter rather than all sinking to the bottom. I learned this through a different baking experiment...are you impressed?!!?}, and gently mix the batter {NOT with the electric mixer}.
  10. Pour the batter evenly into your Bundt pan. Place your cake in the over and reduce the temperature to 325 degrees {oops! I forgot to do the temp reduction thing...but mine still turned out ok!}. Bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  11. Allow the cake to cool in the Bundt pan for 20 minutes, then place it on a wire rack {or just a plate} to allow it to finish cooling.                                                                                     
  12. For the frosting, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and the powered sugar. {once again, I didn't want it to be too tart, so I use one tablespoon of lemon juice and one tablespoon of milk.} Drizzle over the top of the cake.

And Wahlah! The finished product...

It kinda looks like a donut here, but I promise it's a cake!
Perhaps my iPhone photog skills could use some work!

Thanks again to Katie Elizabeth for finding this perfectly-sweet dessert and to A Spicy Perspective for the original recipe!

Happy Baking!










Friday, April 25, 2014

A Few Words from the Mister

Meagan at All the Joys recently posted an interview with her husband {see it here} that had me {literally} laughing out loud! I decided to test the waters and see if I could get Ryan to take part in the fun. Thankfully, he was a willing participant...and the results are pretty much HA-LAR-ious! I dare you not to laugh...

Blog Interview with my Husband

Me: I need to interview you for tomorrow's blog post.
Ryan: What???

Me: You're gonna be the star of the blog tomorrow. Is that ok?
Ryan: Ok...{a couple minutes go by}...These aren't gonna be personal questions, are they? Nothing naughty!

Me: What's the name of my blog?
Ryan:  Leslie's Loves...oh wait, no...The Martin Manifesto.  {makes an incorrect buzzer sound} WRONG!!!! Sh!t!

Me: What do I typically write about?
Ryan:  Shopping and how sweet your husband is.

Me: What’s a popular fashion item for women right now?
Ryan: Spanx. 
Me: Are you sure you want to keep that answer?
Ryan: Ummm....no-smear lipstick?  Sh!t! I haven't looked at your blog in a couple days.
Me: It doesn't have to be from my blog...just the world in general. And stop cussing!
Ryan: Oh...you mean what I've observed?  Ummm...yoga pants? I work at a country club...c'mon!

Me: What is a hunter wellie?
Ryan: Do what? I beg your pardon?
Me: A hunter wellie.
Ryan: Is that French for a handbag?

Me: Why do women go to the bathroom together?
Ryan: To socialize about the guys they're with in privacy...and to take selfies.


Ryan Martin, PGA
Don't mock selfies, Babe...sometimes you're part of them!

Me: What are your thoughts on Pinterest?
Ryan:  It's great to find gifts for your wife.

Me: If you could have any job what would it be?
Ryan: {silently ponders the question for a moment}...I'd be retired.

Blog Interview with Husband
Deep thoughts...
on whether his hands had grown or the beers had shrunk!

Me: What’s the best gift to give a woman?
Ryan: {laughs to himself and then contemplates}....What are you typing? I didn't even say anything. Hmmm...jewelry. Wait, wait, wait...let me change that answer! Anything that she doesn't expect to get. Anything that's a surprise.

Me: What does YOLO stand for?
Ryan: You only live once...but I am more of a FISH guy.
Me: What does that mean?
Ryan: F* it, Shi!t happens!


A little sunburned??? FISH...might as well have a drink!



Me: What do women keep in their purse?
Ryan:  Oh my gosh...EVERYTHING but the kitchen sink.

Me: What do I do when I’m home alone?
Ryan: {shrugs shoulders}...Uhhh...laundry and entertain your dog...with naps! You and Lily take "team naps."

Me: And what do you do when you’re home alone?
Ryan:  The same...minus the laundry.

Me: What is my favorite activity?
Ryan: Ruzzle 

Me: What's the best place for women to shop?
Ryan: Online. The In-ter-net.
Me: No...a physical store.
Ryan: Ummm...I'm not very good at this.  What stores do you shop at? I just see RueLaLa boxes that arrive every week. Ummmm...Dillard's?

Me: What’s an acceptable amount to spend on a pair of shoes?
Ryan: For me or for you?
Me: For me.
Ryan: $100
Me: How much for you?
Ryan: I guess I do have a pair of $500 boots.

Me: What is your favorite trait about me, not physical?
Ryan:  Your research ability.  Wait, wait! Let me re-do that one.  Your compassion for others.

Me: What's my favorite accessory?
Ryan: {points to my wedding rings} The beautiful rings your husband bought you...or handbags.

Me: What’s my favorite TV show?
Ryan: Nashville...or Dallas.  No, it's definitely Nashville because I'll watch it with you.

Me: Name a current celebrity “it” couple? 
Ryan: Blake and Miranda...{as Blake Shelton is playing in the background}.

Me: Which celebrity would you let me have a free pass with?
Ryan: {blank stare}...None.
Me: You have to answer it.
Ryan: I don't get it.

Me: Which celebrity would you like to have a free pass with?
Ryan: {laughing hysterically}  I'd have to think about this.
Me: I'm waiting....
Ryan: I like that girl from...There are just so many to choose from! We can come back to this. 

Me: What's your favorite memory of our relationship?
Ryan: When you brought me a six-pack of Lonestar beer the first time we hung out. No, just kidding. Not just the beer...but really when you and Lily showed up at my house the first time.

Me: Anything else you’d like to say?
Ryan: No.

Blog Interview with Husband
Love this man with all of my heart...and then some more!


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Asking My Bridal Party

I've seen lots of "Wedding Wednesday" posts since I've joined this whole blogging world, but I didn't really think I could participate since our wedding {The.Best.Day} already took place. But then I got to thinking...I intentionally sought advice from friends who'd already planned their wedding and walked down the aisle, so maybe it wouldn't hurt to share a few details of our wedding planning process. {Or maybe I'm just looking for an excuse to talk more about The.Best.Day.

Anyway, today I'm linking up with Mary at Little Bit of Class Little Bit of Sass {her wedding is THIS.WEEKEND!} to share with you how I asked my bridal party {man of honor, bridesmaids, house party, readers, flower girls} to be a part of our big day.

Cake in a Jar, Bridal Party, Ombre Cake in a Jar

It all started with an Instagram post I saw...all credit goes to Evan Witt...because I never would have come up with this brilliant idea on my own. I searched the internet a million times over looking for a place to BUY these cute little cakes in a jar {Hello, Etsy...where were you at on this one?} I was devastated when Evan told me that she, too, had looked to buy something similar but ultimately ended up having to make them herself. Ummm...I'm not exactly known to be a creative "DIY-er," but I am known to somehow figure out a way to accomplish anything I set my mind to. And I had set my mind on sending these perfect little ombre cakes in a jar to my fabulous friends and family to ask them to be a part of The.Best.Day.

Evan pointed me to this website, which has all the instructions and printables for this DIY project. I decided I wanted to personalize the napkins with names and such, so I ended up making my own template for the iron-on design used for the napkins {I'm happy to share this if you're interested...you'll just have to change the names, etc.}

{Sidenote: I apologize for the quality of some of these photos. Most of them were taken on my old iPhone, which more-often-than-not took terrible pics!}




Cake in a jar


Will you be in my wedding party?

Will you be in my wedding party?


The final product turned out pretty cute...and everyone claims the cake tasted good. {Sheesh...I hope they weren't just telling me that!} Given my well-known obsession love of cake, this was the perfect way to ask my bridal party to be part of our wedding day.



Just an FYI...this project ended up being a bit on the expensive side. {I did mess up the coloring on a couple of the batches of cake I made, so re-doing them didn't exactly achieve cost savings} Not only did the ingredients and materials add up, but the shipping cost for perishable items was what nearly broke the bank! In the end, it was well worth the time and money spent because everyone seemed to L.O.V.E. the cakes in the jar...and thankfully everyone did agree to be part of our wedding party!


Hope you're having a fabulous
 "Wedding Wednesday!" 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Weekend Recap

I went home to Kansas this past weekend to celebrate Easter. Ryan couldn't make the trip due to his work schedule, but he encouraged me to go anyway so I could spend some time with my family. I had intentions of taking lots of pictures to share on this lil bloggety-blog, but it seems like I only managed to capture pics of precious Baby Nais.  Oh well...that  is somewhat fitting since this little guy seems to be the center of our world!

They don't come any cuter than this!
Playing with Grampy
Nais and his daddy
Perfect little family!
Nais and Grammy
Snuggling with Aunt Lee Lee before bedtime
Nais' Easter Baskets
All ready for church on Easter morning
Siblings...and Baby Nais
Kelli, Landon, Me, Nais
I did offer to let the parents hold their child for the photo.
I'm not a baby hog...all the time!

When I arrived home {after driving the last half of the trip in the pouring rain}, I found this fabulous Easter basket from my A-MAZing husband! I forgot to snap a pic before I removed the ribbon...{fail!}. I've gotta say, the man did exceptionally well putting together this Easter basket...some workout gear {because I really am going to start exercising...for real!} plus all of my favorite candy {the "Mike & Ikes" are for him} neatly arranged in two small baskets inside a bigger basket {which I'd been talking about needing for our bathroom...apparently he's listening even when I think he's not}. Thank you, Ryan, for the awesome surprise. You always seem to know just what to do!

My surprise Easter basket from the husband

I hope ya'll had a blessed Easter surrounded by family and friends!















Friday, April 18, 2014

Five on {Good} Friday

Happy Good Friday! Today I am linking-up with April {A.Liz Adventures}, Christina {North Carolina Charm}, Darci {The Good Life} and Natasha {Hello! Happiness} to share with you five recent and/or upcoming happenings in my life.

5 on Friday, Blog Link-up


One: The Husband's Birthday

You may have seen this in a post from earlier this week, but Tuesday was Ryan's 31st birthday...and birthdays are worth mentioning several times!  We celebrated at dinner with friends on Monday  and then a low-key dinner just the two of us on Tuesday. 

I did finally let him open his gifts after he got home from work on Tuesday.

Kinda blurry selfie @ birthday dinner
And another blurry one: making a wish!

And as a follow-up to a comment made in my previous post about Ryan's birthday {here}...Yes, he has since gotten a haircut! :)

Two: Lil Midget Max

Last night we delivered an Easter basket to Max {godson}. Just being around this lil punkin' made me totally forget my mile-long "to do" list and significantly improved my mood. He's pretty fabulous, I tell ya...and I'm not biased in any way.  Love him to pieces.


Goldfish {and fruit snacks} inside the Easter eggs? Score!
Sometimes Aunt Kansas gets it right!


Smart lil midget L.O.V.E.S books! 

How flippin' cute is this? I think my favorite part about this photo is that his hat is on inside-out! A-DOR-able!

Three: Presents!

Not gonna lie, I love love love getting packages in the mail...and this one totally made my day! Abbey {who is quite possibly the reason Ryan and I are together/married!} came to stay with us a few weeks ago so she could spend some time golfing with Ryan before her college season kicked into high gear. Yesterday we received some "Roo gear" {Kasey the Kangaroo is the mascot for the University of Missouri-Kansas City where Abbey plays golf} and the sweetest thank you note from her. Since it would be kinda weird to send a thank you note for a thank you gift, I'll just thank her via this blog post! Thanks for the shirts, Miss Abbey! We love them! 



Four: Powder Nail Polish

Last week I stopped by my usual nail salon to have one nail re-done because it had started to chip. {I don't know about you, but once my gel manicure starts peeling on just one finger, I can't keep myself from peeling it off the rest of my fingers...so I had to have fixed ASAP!} Anyway, I seriously felt like I was living in Anjelah Johnson's "Nail Salon" comedy. Just in case you haven't seen this HA-LAR-ious video, I've included it below...
   
{I learned something new this week...videos don't work on mobile devices...so please don't think I forgot to post it if you're viewing from your phone or iPad!}
Back to my story...so the guy is telling me, "Next time you get "pow duh" manicure. I promise you really really liiiiike!....It just five dollah more!" I had no clue what he was talking about, but I was in a bit of a hurry, so I just agreed and said I was excited for the "new" {bc I couldn't understand what he had called it!} manicure next time. Fast forward to last night...and it is revealed to me that "pow duh" = powder. Rather than the gel polish that requires the UV light to dry {which isn't so great for the skin on your hands}, this new method just requires a clear glue-like coat and then they literally dip your fingers in powder. Apparently it's supposed to last longer than the gel manicure, too! I was a little annoyed that it took about 15 minutes longer than my usual nail appointment, but I guess that extra $5 has to pay for something! 

Long story short, I was happy with the way they turned out...and I'll keep you posted on how long the "pow duh" manicure actually lasts.


Five: Kansas for Easter Weekend

I'm leaving after work today to go to Kansas to see the family for Easter weekend. I haven't been home since Christmas, so I'm pretty excited to head north. I hate that Ryan can't make the trip {duty calls!...apparently people like to play golf on holiday weekends}, but I'm so grateful he understands and encouraged me to go without him. I'm looking forward to some quality time with my whole family...but, let's be real, I truly CANNOT.WAIT to see this precious little guy...

Baby Nais...only the cutest nephew on the planet!


Happy Easter!

He is Risen!