Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday's Tastings, Part II

And there you were thinking I would forget! No way would I let you guys down after how nice you've been to me the past few days with all the sweet comments. So we're back for the second edition of Tuesday's Tastings, and today I'd like to switch gears and focus on what is perhaps my most favorite cocktail - to drink or to serve. Whether or not you like to have your drinks with some kick or play it safe with a virgin alternative (like my disciplined friends who are giving up alcohol for Lent), this little concoction can be made either way. Photos and recipes courtesy of Hostess with the Mostess, my go-to site for all things pertaining to entertaining. Once you feast your eyes on this lovely libation, I'm sure you'll find a reason to celebrate.

Sparkling Pomegranate Champagne

• 1 oz chilled pomegranate juice
• 4 ounces chilled champagne

Pour the pomegranate juice into a champagne flute and top with champagne. Enjoy!


Sparkling Pom-Apple Mocktail

• 1 ounce chilled pomegranate juice
• 4 ounces Sparkling Apple-Pomegranate Cider* (chilled)
• mint leaf for garnish (optional)

Pour the pomegranate juice into a champagne flute and top with flavored cider. Garnish with a mint leaf.

*If you can’t find Apple-Pom cider, substitute with Apple-Cranberry or Apple-Raspberry instead.

P.S. I think this is the perfect cocktail to accompany a bridal or baby shower. It lends itself perfectly to a theme of reds, whites and pinks, such as the one featured here, don't you think? Tres chic!

So there you have it - my go-to cocktail that looks pretty and tastes pretty every time. Cheers!

I'm heading to Chicago for work tomorrow, so I hope to have an update on the new set of wheels by the weekend. Taking the Maxima for a test drive tonight!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sister Needs A New Set Of Wheels...

First and foremost, let me say a GIGANTIC thank you right off the bat for all the sweet and thoughtful comments about my car accident last week. They would pop up throughout the weekend and make me smile and feel so very loved at just the right moment. Truly, they are appreciated more than you know! That was definitely a scary experience that I've thought a lot about since it happened (and replayed over and over in my mind the moment when he crashed into my driver's side - not a good visual) and without being completely melodramatic and sounding trite and cliche, it has just made me think about how precious life really is - and how one wrong turn, or even two inches of difference on the point of impact - can make a world of difference.

Honestly, it has turned out to be a blessing in disguise that it happened - one, because I walked away virtually untouched, which is truly amazing when you see the damage to the car - and two, because it has given me a nice kick in the pants. I'm not ashamed to admit that I needed it. I think I was getting WAY too complacent about life, going along my merry little way without thinking about how much I've been given and blessed beyond comprehension with, and how it is time to stop being so me-focused and set my sights on the stuff that really matters. It's so easy after the craziness of the wedding to welcome the change of pace of settling into more normal life and with that, beginning to take things for granted, such as my faith, my husband, my home, my job, my good life in general. And so from now on, I never want to have a day where I forget to thank the good Lord for being so incredibly good to me.

That said, while I AM here on this earth, I suppose a new set of wheels are in order since my little White Lightning is now a goner. Man, she was a good car. I feel almost bad that she got so banged up and I got nothing. It's like she totally protected me and took it all upon herself. Wow, who knew I would be so sentimental about a freakin' car? They really do become a part of you!

So unless I want to carpool to work with Mr. T at 7 a.m. every morning (and um, no I do not, because he chooses to get there an hour ahead of everyone else to get a jump start on the day because he's such a go-getter and I am just fine getting there during normal hours, thankyouverymuch) which I assure you would get ugly - I am not a morning person and am doing good to get there with matching socks on my feet - I figured I better start car shopping pronto. So Mr. T and I started the process on a glorious spring-like day yesterday, (yes, I went bare-legged for the first time in ages, and my freshly shaven legs wanted to dance at finally feeling something other than chillbumps!) and though we didn't have a lot of time, I think I've already got it narrowed down to three choices. So this is where you come in, dear friends. Help a sister out and let me know what you think. Yeah, yeah, I'll do my research on MotorTrend and Consumer Reports and all that jazz, but I want your input, my sweets. Because I really will listen.

In terms of colors, let me just say that I like to keep it neutral - so I'm thinking black, white, or silver, with a teensy-tiny slight preference to black, for no real reason other than it always seems to look super-sharp on the road. And let me also add that I'm not really a car person, because there are WAY better things to spend money on, in my humble opinion. And I'll probably be tired of whatever it is I buy in about five years anyway. But I do want it to be safe, I do want it to carry me into my child-bearing years (and yes, that is crazy to think about, much less type) and I do want to look like a total supermodel behind the wheel. What, I'm just being honest. So behold, my top three choices, in no particular order:

The Nissan Maxima - isn't she a beauty? My first car when I turned 16 was a Nissan Altima and I did love it, but I just think that Maxima is smokin' hot. Though I must say, the Downtown Nashville Nissan crew has already lost points because of an email reply I got from a car salesman whose name was signed "Handsome" Jim Ransom. Seriously, he put that in the signature of his email. Who really nicknames himself? Furthermore, who puts that on a PROFESSIONAL email? Seriously, dude. Major stock drop on that one.

Next up? The Acura TSX. Now the first car I ever purchased all by myself was an Acura 3.0 TL, which I luuuhved. She and I were tight. And she was totally tricked out with leather, sunroof, all the fun stuff. And I am crazy in love with the 2009 TL's but they're a tad bit out of my price range. But this little TSX is catching my eye - it's a little sportier, with a little more sass. Definitely a top contender.

And finally, the Volvo S40. No, I've never had a Volvo, driven a Volvo, or even had a friend with a Volvo. But somehow it keeps reeling me in. Perhaps it is because of it's super-safe reputation (isn't it supposed to be one of the safest cars on the road?) or perhaps its that I've never had any interaction with Volvos and I feel like cool people drive them. Again, I'm just being honest.

Now, I should mention that the new Honda Accords get a very close fourth place honorable mention ribbon. I mean, White Lightning did hold her own and was about as good a car as I'll ever find. But I figure if I have to make a change anyway, I might as well try something new. It's kind of like when you find a lip gloss that you love and you probably should just buy the same color when you run out but you feel almost compelled to try something different because you want to exercise all of your options. Well, buying the same car would be kind of like that.

So there you have it, friends. Thoughts? Opinions? Any others you think I should throw into the mix? (Oh! And for you Nashville folk, any special places I should look that don't have salesmen like "Handsome" Jim Ransom)?

Friday, February 19, 2010


Today, I write with a VERY thankful heart. Yesterday was pretty eventful for me, to say the least. I was leaving my office to go walk a friend's sweet dog on my lunch break, and just as I was pulling on to Broadway where it turns into 21st Avenue South (in front of Varsity Grille, for you local folks), a SUV coming the opposite direction plowed into the driver's side of my car. Thankfully, the side air bags deployed, which I didn't even know my car had, and they protected me from both windows shattering on impact, and who knows what other kind of damage. It was my great fortune that a wonderful man driving behind me witnessed the accident happen, and stopped immediately to check on me and stayed with me to give the police report and until Mr. T could arrive on the scene. Believe me when I say there really are good people in the world, and he is without a doubt one of them. I learned today that the other driver admitted fault, saying he looked down momentarily, completely missing the bend in the road. I can only speculate a cell phone or some other distraction was involved, and it has really made me mindful of paying attention when I'm behind the wheel. In fact, I've been a little hesitant to get back behind the wheel today, even in my super-safe Volkswagen Jetta rental car (complete with side airbags, which I made sure to request). So here's the last of my little 2003 Honda Accord, affectionately known as White Lightning... she has been declared a total loss and has gone on to Junkyard Heaven.

Just after the accident happened - look at how close that crash could have been to the gas tank!

My super fantastic awesome incredible side airbags, which protected me from all that glass shattering right into my head. The tender spot it left behind from hitting me is my own little love bump, and I'm happy to have it. Can you believe I only walked away with that bump and a few small scratches and cuts on my legs from the broken glass? Again I say, so thankful.

So do me a favor on this glorious Friday. Love on the ones that mean the most to you, and never for one minute take them for granted. Have that extra helping of whatever makes you happy. And above all else, make sure your car has side airbags! I'll begin car shopping this weekend, and you better believe that will be on the top of my checklist for my next set of wheels!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday's Tastings - The First Installment!

I know I'm probably beginning to sound like a broken record but I am OVER you, Old Man Winter. Skedaddle. Get outta here. Be gone from my life. I'm tired of tiptoeing to my car each morning and fearing all my neighbors are about to watch me slip and fall, only to crank said car and let it run for a good 30 minutes to get it nice and toasty before I can even think of driving to work. I've done the shivering all over, use my pinkies to drive because the steering wheel is too cold deal and it is NOT for this Alabama girl, so if I lost an entire tank of gas this week letting my car run, so be it.

Anyway, as I told Mr. T last night over a bottle of Pinot Noir and the Bachelor (don't even get me started on a recap - I'll just leave it at Vienna gets a big fat Boo Hiss in my book and he is a moron if he really picks her) all this cold weather makes me want to do is cook carb-loaded food, drink coffee or wine, depending on the time of day, and curl up on the couch. And if I'm doing those three things, it would be nice if I also wanted to pay the ole YMCA a daily visit. But dare I venture out in my layers of long sleeves and sweats only to peel them off once I get to the gym for my 30-40 minutes of cardio, and then put the darn things back on and shiver back out to my now cold car? I think not. So it's either Jillian on my OnDemand or nothing at all these days. And I fear that all those lovely little pounds that were shed before the wedding will be displayed in all their full glory come swimsuit season if this frigid, Alaska-ish weather keeps up much longer.

That said, I decided I would share with you lucky people my new obsession, MyKitchenCafe. I love how she always includes photos of what it is supposed to look like, and step by step directions that are easy-breezy to follow, even for a novice like me. As the dutiful newlywed that I am, I hit it up at least once a week for yummy new recipes to try out on the Hubs. Some he loves, like the homemade Hawaiian pizza that has now become a Sunday night staple, and some he claims to love but I know better, because he doesn't go back for seconds, but either way, he doesn't spit any out. So that says something. (And yes Mr. T, if you're reading this, I know you said you would rather eat my cooking than go out to a restaurant. Which I really appreciated, even though I know you were probably lying. Love you, honey.)

So for the first installment of Tuesday's Tastings, allow me to share with you a few gems that are currently making my mouth water. Feast your eyes on these carb-tastic beauties!

A panini for lunch, perhaps? This one is Smoked Turkey, Apple and Brie. Delish!

Artisan, sourdough or french bread, cut into desired slices
Shaved or sliced smoked turkey
4 ounces Brie cheese, wax removed and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 apple, cored and cut into thin slices (I used a Gala apple)

Place a single layer of brie on one slice of the bread. Top with sliced turkey, then with the apples and finally with another layer of brie. Place the other slice of bread on top of the sandwich. Preheat a skillet or indoor grill pan to medium heat. Place sandwich in the pan and top with a heavy skillet or panini press (I have a cast iron panini press I use with my indoor grill pan). Grill 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown and heated through.

Creamy White Chicken Chili (for those oh-so-cold winter days when you need a variation from traditional ground chuck chili - I plan to try it tonight!)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon oil
2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth
2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chilies (if you like less kick, add just one can)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream

In a large saucepan, saute chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and cream. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired. Serve immediately. This is especially good served with tortilla chips. Makes about 6 servings.

Simple and Meaty Skillet Lasagna (all the taste with lots less hassle!)

3 (14.5 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
Salt (I like sea salt)
3 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (these do not add spice - just flavor!)
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground beef (I used 80% lean)
12 curly-edged lasagna noodles, broken into 1 inch lengths
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup ricotta cheese (do not use fat-free)

Pulse the tomatoes with their juice in a blender or food processor until they are coarsely ground and no large pieces remain (in a food processor, that is about 12 pulses).

Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ground meat and cook, breaking apart the meat, until it is lightly browned and no longer pink, 5 to 6 minutes.

Scatter the broken lasagna noodles over the meat and then pour in the ground tomatoes and tomato sauce over the pasta. Stir in the basil and oregano. Cover, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring often and adjusting the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer, until the pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.

Off the heat, stir in half the mozzarella and half of the parmesan. Dot heaping tablespoons of the ricotta over the noodles, then sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Cover and let stand off the heat until the cheese melts, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve.

And finally, because I'm a tried and true fan of dessert, and these might be the best things ever:

Red Velvet Balls and Oreo Truffles (click for the full recipes to both, I'm just including photos, though I guarantee the pictures are enough to send you running)

I've tried the Oreo Truffles twice, and forgive me for saying this because I know I should be humble, but they are perfection! I made a batch on Valentines Day (at Mr. T's request) and brought some to work yesterday - they were gone by lunch time!

Are you hungry yet? Thought so. And please, feel free to share your own special recipes in the comments section. Like I said, I'm always on the lookout for a yummy weeknight meal!

Bon Appetit!

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Love Louise...

One of the best things I've discovered about blogging is the way it connects you with other bloggers, often times fellow brides, who are going through the same things you are when it comes to not having bridezilla-riffic meltdowns, attempting to document all the details of the big day, and then posting recaps that make you feel like you were right there in the room to watch their vows. There are so many awesome women right here in Nashville (see my link love on the right) that seem to capture this crazy chapter in one's life in such a fun and entertaining way through witty commentary, fantastic photos, and the like. But the best bloggers I have found and who keep me revisiting their blogs long after the wedding bells ring are those that make you feel like you've known them forever. Enter the lovely Louise, known to all of us in the blogosphere as The Thirty Something Bride.

This lady is the real deal, folks. I've never met her (which is insane, when you think we share a city) but I truly laugh out loud almost every time I read one of her posts and find even the most mundane details (i.e. why MissNowMrs.com is a total waste of time) so very fascinating. Which is why when she shared that she would start a real wedding feature, and would I happen to want to be the first one, I jumped at the chance. I just knew she'd make me look good. And better than that, it would be authentic, real questions instead of the typical "how did you meet" number taht seems to start off every questionnaire you see these days. And let me tell you, she delivered.

Head over to her bodacious blog right now and check our our real wedding feature, "It's Real, Not Fake" as fast as your little fingers will carry you. And then give that girl some big time blog love, because boy does she deserve it.

Man, this just made my Monday a million times better...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mr. T's Valentines Gift

That's right, ladies. Sweet little ole Lil worked up her courage last Saturday and vamped it up in my very own Valen-tease boudoir session, shot by the super fabulous Noelle McCoy of McCoy Made. And can I just say she might be my new best friend. She is the sweetest thing EVER.

I really can't believe I got the gonads to do the shoot, but she made it so very comfortable and classy, and has the studio right in her beautiful home. I've been talking about wanting to do a shoot like this forever, and actually planned to do it before the wedding, but with the craziness of those last few weeks coupled with the holidays, I decided it would be much better to pose for a Valentines Day session instead. Lo and behold, she offered a special session (postponed twice because of the blizzard - talk about anticipation!) just in time. And can I just say that I. Had. A. BALL! Seriously, it was too much fun, and I highly suggest all you lovely brides-to-be, newlyweds, whatever - treat yourself to this because you will be SO glad you did one day! We didn't work on those wedding day bodies for nothing, right?

So obviously I won't be showing any of the photos, but just know that I am so very pleased with how they turned out. I didn't even recognize myself! I pick up my little black book album today at noon, and plan to give it to Mr. T tonight. I can't wait to see his reaction! He's going to freak!

We're headed to the Black Eyed Peas tonight (love you, Lindsey, for the hookup on the tickets) and to see Jim Brickman at the Symphony tomorrow (love you, Nashville Symphony, for being a client of Craig's and finding tickets to the sold out show!) so this is going to be one F.U.N. V-Day weekend. The Symphony is becoming our new tradition - we went to see Itzhak Perlman play on Valentines Day last year, and it was amazing. So much fun getting all dolled up too. I'm thinking I'm going to bust out my fur stole, just because. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy and happy.

As you can see here. :)

And here...

And definitely here...

Hope you all have the happiest of Valentines Days! My first as a married woman - woo hoo!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

That First Look...

Our wedding day...our first look...no words needed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

You Get By With A Little Help From Your Friends...

Here we are in the Bride's Room at Scarritt Bennett, just before someone whispered "it's time."
Seriously, how beautiful are my bridesmaids?
I can just look at this photo and remember the nervous, jittery, excited feeling of knowing I was FINALLY about to walk down that aisle.
And speaking of finally, I now have the link to my photog's pictures! Stay tuned...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

From Blizzards to Beaches...

I don't know about you but now that I've had my lovely winter wedding and my once in a decade snow fix last weekend, I now proclaim that I am officially OVER winter. February has just never been my favorite month - I'm over wearing sweaters and tights, I'm over having to heat up my car in morning (but thank goodness for heated seats!) and I'm over soups, chilis and stews for dinner. And with the groundhog once again predicting six more weeks of dreaded winter on Tuesday and freezing temps forecasted yet again for the next few days, I've decided it's time to put a little sunshine in my life, in the form of a little recap of our honeymoon. And yes, I realize the honeymoon photos are coming before the wedding photos. I'm just waiting to get them from my photographer. Who is kind of a slowpoke and driving me a little bit crazy these days. Which is an entirely different post. Anyway.

So take a little trip with me down to the El Dorado Maroma in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Also known as Heaven On Earth. No really, Maroma Beach was voted one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world by Travel Channel. And you're about to see why! Our place was a boutique-style hotel, rather than one of those huge, sprawling resorts with a thousand things going on. It was Adults-Only, and All-Inclusive, which I assure you is the only way to go. At first we were both kind of shell-shocked, because it was so far removed from anything we had done before, and we've both never taken a solid week off of work to experience total downtime. I'm talking no cell phones, no computers, no TV (in English, at least), nothing. But I must admit, we acclimated nicely.

Now let me preface by saying that while some newlyweds (ahem, my friend Marcie) like to be on the go doing all kinds of adventures, Mr. T and I were just fine doing absolutely NADA, and chose this location with that specifically in mind. We had experienced a few absolutely insane weeks (and months, really) leading up to the wedding, and then after we both came down with some awful funk just days before our big day, all we really wanted was some rest and relaxation. We honestly couldn't have picked a better place for doing just that. It was absolutley wonderful to be doted on by the staff (I've truly never seen a place with better customer service - they were on their A-game with the "right aways" and "with pleasures"). Not to mention we had five solid days of 80 degree temps in the dead of January, parking it on the ocean with a beach butler to bring us anything our heart desired, while our Nashville peeps froze back home in 10 degree weather. Nothing like coming home to that with a tan and a new straw fedora. :)

I hope you guys enjoy this post because man, y'all are a lot of work (again, ahem, Marcie). My most dreaded thing about this blog is the nightmarish amount of time it takes me to upload photos. So pretty please be kind enough to send me lots of lovely little comments (does anyone else get sad when they don't get any love in the comments section?) so I'll know you really do care. That can be your early birthday present to me...a little bitty bit of blog love. Not that I'm thinking about the big 3-0 that is coming my way on March 11. Oh my goodness, the end of an era is really here. I must say though, my twenties have been a solid decade.

OK, back to the honeymoon. And away we go...

OK, first things first. This is probably the single most attractive thing I've ever seen Mr. T wear. His wedding ring. And believe me, the boy looks good in a lot of things. I seriously smile everytime I see this picture. As you can see, I took it on the plane the minute we sat down and I looked over and saw it on his hand. I just kept saying "look! we're married!"

This is what we laid eyes on the first time we ventured outside our room. Which was about 48 hours after we arrived. Not a joke. We were that tired. And all that lovely lingerie I received? Didn't get worn until after those first two days. Sister wanted a cotton tank top - I needed some comfort!

And the second thing I laid eyes on was this... I believe it was called Caribbean Breeze. I call it muy delicioso!

In fact, I decided to turn a cartwheel I was so happy. What can I say, I'm a gymnast at heart.

This next sequence needs a bit of background. So we decided to take a little walk down the beach one day, which turned into a long walk. As in a five miler. Two and a half miles to the next resort, that's how nice and secluded we were. It just doesn't seem that far when the breeze is blowing in your hair and you have this to look at. Just look at those white sandy beaches and that turquoise water - aren't they calling your name? Well, we ventured out for said walk about 10 a.m., and returned around noon. I am a self-admitted sun worshipper and soak up the sun any chance I get. My new husband, however, is more of the vampire in our relationship and prefers his SPF to have a much high number than I do. All this to say we left with nothing but our bathing suits on, and Mr. T returned with a sunburn like you've never seen. Don't worry, that photo is coming.

I mean, wouldn't this make you want to take a walk?

Impromptu photo shoot of the Turmans. Take one.

Whoa. Way off kilter. Might be the fruity drinks. Take two.

Much better. Of him at least. I look like I need a shower.

One of the lovely bungalows we discovered on our walk down Maroma Beach. I noticed lots of European influence. Apparently this area has gotten lots of interest from the folks overseas.

A resort we casually strolled into during our escapade...the Secrets Maroma. Swanktastic. And lots of topless sunbathers. I believe this is one in the photo but she will be happy to know she was censored.

As for me, I definitely decided to keep the top on. And maybe I thought I was a Victoria's Secret swimsuit model for a second. Or maybe I was just really happy to be on a beach.

Back at our resort after our impromptu hike, not knowing the extent of Mr. T's sunburn at this point. I mean, it really is hard to tell when you're out in it!

Our resort also happened to be next to a marina, so they had sailboats, deep sea fishing boats and jetskis for the guests to enjoy. Too bad they weren't included in the all-inclusive package.

But the one thing we did splurge on was an oceanfront couples massage! It was so relaxing to hear the waves crashing while the Mexican masseuses worked out all our post-wedding tension!

See, don't we look refreshed with our post-massage glow?

One day we decided to take a little excursion to Playa Del Carmen, about twenty minutes from our resort. I think this is at a little outdoor bar, where we decided to try a couple of caparinhas.

As you can see, we found them to be quite tasty!

On 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen, which is supposedly the shopping mecca of the town. Let's just say 5th Avenue on New York City has a little more to offer. But I did try on lots of hats!

Back in our swim-up suite, Craig demonstrated one of his favorite concoctions.

See a pattern here? The guy is all man, but loves his fruity drinks.

While I demonstrate my lovely view. The pool is right in front of me and the ocean is right behind it. The best of both worlds. Now that's what I call bliss.

Here is the lazy river that takes you to the larger pool, complete with a massive swim up bar!

Here is better view of our little setup. And yes, that's an outdoor bed you see in the corner. They truly thought of everything!

Posing in front of one of the pools. P.S. I just re-discovered that dress just before we left. It's from Old Navy and one of my all time favorites. I just don't think you can get much better than a white cotton sundress in the sunshine!

Oh! So Mr. T's birthday is January 5th, which fell on Day Three of our honeymoon. Here we are after our oriental dinner, with Mr. T looking like he might have had more Japanese beers than he should have. Give him a break - the old man was celebrating 35 years!
I asked the "mesero" to bring him a special birthday dessert!

And also had them draw a bubble bath for two for the special occasion!

And speaking of special occasions - you know my Alabama Crimson Tide played in the National Championship on January 7 - day 5 of our honeymoon - right? Well imagine my delight when we discovered it aired on ABC and that just so happened to be the only channel in English that we got! I just don't think it would have been quite as exciting in Spanish. So we asked our concierge if we could have the game played in Rick's Bar, which has a projection screen TV. Not only did they do that for us, they also had sliders, wings, and other "American futbol" food ready for us upon arrival! I'm telling you, we had the star treatment. And we also had the bar practically to ourselves!

This was right after we won - see the big smiles? Now why didn't I throw up my #1 sign?
Note: I really didn't think I couldn't have a better year than I did in 2009, but I must say my 2010 started off with quite a bang. A wedding on the 2nd and a National Championship on the 7th! Doesn't get much better than that.

So here we are on Day Six at the El Dorado Casitas Royale, one of the sister resorts and just as fantastic as ours. We arranged for a site visit and were treated like VIPs - the concierge gave us a tour of the entire property in her golf cart - and we even scored some fresh strawberry gelato along the way! This picture shows us at the Presidential Suite, which is a bit pricer but so worth it. You are right on the ocean, and even can have the chef come cook dinner for you! I could get used to that.

I'm 99% sure we'll try this one next time, because of the next few photos I'm about to show you. Man, that concierge knew exactly what she was doing...

Care to take an outdoor shower? Right this way.
Or just relax on the uber-comfortable canopied bed?

Marble jacuzzi bath? Vessel sinks? Yes please.

And a lovely view to boot.

One of the main reasons we liked this place was the oceanfront bars galore! Is it just me, or do we sound like total lushes in this blog post? I guess planning a wedding will do that to a girl...

Cheezing on the back of our golf cart.

A pretty little place for a vow renewal, don't you think?

I got a serious case of camera fever - the place was just too beautiful to describe.

Back on one of the Cabana beds at our resort. There are lots of these poolside - genius!

Our last dinner. Like my new dress? It's from Target (like $20) and oh-so-comfy.

See how happy it makes me? (And please notice how we didn't even touch that bottle of champagne in our room - I had enjoyed my fair share at our New Year's Eve party). This is while we were packing to go home. I'm surprised I was smiling, given how sad I was to be leaving...

And finally, here we are with my favorite picture of the whole trip. Does that make me mean? Maybe. But just look at my guy's sunburn. Ouch. And how hilarious. And ouch.

Our last morning, boo hiss. I posed poolside with our favorite mesero after a lovely made-to-order omelet and bottomless coffee. The man was on his GAME! He was precious.

All the pesos left in our pocket. But really, I think we spent a grand total of $160, since most everything was already paid for. Not bad for a seven day trip.

Enjoying one last meal at the Cancun airport. Ironically, it was Bubba Gump Shrimp and it was fantastically done. Notice I finally found a straw fedora, and I rocked it the whole way home.

And just because I want to end on a better photo, me and my babe. Love that boy.

Adios, Riviera Maya! See you next January for our anniversary trip!

P.S. That was hands down my longest post ever. Don't I deserve an award for that?

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