Honeymoon

Anyone undecided about their honeymoon destination needs to read this. We traveled to St.Lucia for our honeymoon on the Sunday after our wedding.We booked our honeymoon with Travelennium using Rebecca Dawson as our agent. It was our first big trip together so we wanted to make sure we did it right. Let me tell you, we definitely did it RIGHT!

We traveled to St. Lucia and stayed at Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort. As soon as we arrived at the resort we had a butler waiting on us with drinks! He took our bags and showed us to our room that walked right out onto the beach.

 

We flew back on that Friday into Knoxville so that we could meet our family for the Florida game. Evan and I went back and forth about whether that was a good idea. We both, of course, wanted to go to the game but knew it would be an exhausting two weeks of our life. Well, we were SO GLAD we did. Tennessee beat Florida for the first time in ELEVEN years that weekend and we were there to witness it a week after being married!

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Brides to be, soak it all in because before you know it you will be celebrating two years of marriage.

I loved everything about planning my wedding. Don’t get me wrong, I had LOTS of help, but for the most part, I planned it all. Before Evan and I were ever engaged, I knew what I wanted. Doesn’t every girl?

When my sister was planning her wedding, I held my breath. I always wanted to have my reception at my Uncle Les’s Farm in Mason and I hoped she wouldn’t want to do the same. She chose to have her reception in my parents back yard. Then a couple years later my brother and Melissa went back and forth about where they wanted the location of their wedding, mentioning the Farm in the debate. Once again, they did not choose the Farm. Sighs of relief. I would have been just as happy for both of them no matter what they had chosen, but secretly I was happy that they chose otherwise! Secrets out!

My uncle’s Farm has been a gathering place for my family for many years. I have fond memories fishing with my brother, riding four wheelers with friends, riding horses, and one of my uncle’s favorite memories, Lauren and I cleaning his apartment attached to his shop. (My OCD started at a young age) We celebrated lots of birthdays there before it was what it is now. Now he has several shops, a gorgeous log cabin complete with a stone pool, and a pond. It is a place no one knew existed except a couple of close family friends. My Uncle has turned it into a beautiful home away from home.

I wanted my wedding to be different from my siblings, but also different than the “typical” Covington wedding.

Being different not only included the reception location, but the photographer, and the traditions associated with weddings.

I researched local Memphis photographers and reached out to a few. Nothing was set in stone with any of them. One day I had a customer overhear me talking about hiring a wedding photographer and she suggested a good friend of hers. I think she and I were meant to cross paths that day. I took her advice and hired Christen Jones to photograph my wedding along with my engagement.

I remember taking my engagement pictures like it was yesterday. Mom and I drove out to the Farm and waited for Evan to meet us there from work. Gwinn and Bennett also tagged along that day. We wanted to show Gwinn the Farm so we could all start brainstorming the set up of the reception. It was early to mid November so it was semi-cool outside, but not too bad. There has just been a storm recently and we were afraid all the leaves would be blown away for the pictures. Well, needless to say, Christen worked her magic on us, and we were more than pleased with our photos. I can still remember mom and I discussing on the way there that Evan and I shouldn’t do “kissy” pictures but we ended up doing them anyways and I loved them. HA!

Here’s a link to our photographers blog post.

Fast forward to January… the addresses are being logged into excel, save the dates have been ordered, appointments are being made.. the DRESS appointment being my FAVORITE. When I say it was a dream come true I genuinely mean it. I had been following this bridal boutique on instagram for some time and was thrilled to finally be going for myself. This place y’all, it is magical. I called Maggie Louise Bridal Boutique and booked an appointment for a Saturday morning. Once you book an appointment, they email you a quiz to fill out about your dream gown. They also called and discussed it all with me the week of my appointment. It was raining the morning we left for the appointment, but I kid you not as soon as we made it to the sign, “Welcome to Collierville!” it quit raining and the sun came out! How funny that I remember these details… Anyways, Molly, the owner, welcomed us with a genuine smile and positivity as we entered her gorgeous boutique. Molly instructed my guests to sit on the all white leather couches and enjoy a mimosa while they waited for me to try on gowns. Molly and her coworker guided me to my all white fitting room filled with dresses they hand picked for me. They helped me into each gown, pulling it tight to fit me before showing my guests. Molly knew I wanted lace sleeves and thankfully talked me out of full lace sleeves. She had me try on dresses that were not necessarily what I had in mind but, wanted to be sure they were ruled out before making a final decision. That was pretty fun…see the selfie of Leah and I! The winner was written all over my face according to everyone in attendance. I absolutely adored it. It was simply beautiful.

The dress I tried on in the store had a blush underlay while the bolero I tried on was ivory. I ordered them both in ivory.

Let’s fast forward again. The invitations have been mailed. It just got REAL, real fast! We mailed out our invitations the last week of July. We squeezed in four showers into two weekends in August. Why? We were invited to TWELVE weddings that year. That means between going to weddings, wedding showers, and wedding planning, we were short on time! Our showers included a Stock the Bar Party given by the wedding party and friends, a Christmas shower given by my church, a nighttime party given by friends of my parents, and another night time party given by friends. We were extremely blessed to have such kind and generous people host such lovely showers for us. We cannot thank you all enough.

It’s Thursday, September 15, I am at the Farm doing things to prepare for the big day. My phone rings and my future sister in law is on the other end telling me the news we knew was coming, but never imagined would come two days before our wedding. Evans grandfather has passed away. His grandparents had not planned on attending due to their health issues, but now his Knoxville family was unable to attend as well. The funeral arrangements were pushed to the following weekend so that Evan and I could be there and not miss our honeymoon. His grandmother was able to watch the wedding via FaceTime, and we were so glad. She and Evan are very close. He lived with his grandparents for the better part of his college years. She is such a sweet soul and absolutely adores her Evan.

It’s Friday, September 16, I am getting ready for my Bridesmaids Luncheon at Charlene’s Just Divine Tea Room in Halls, TN. My moms tells me that my Granny and Aunt Mina are unable to attend because they were taking Granny to the hospital. I thought to myself they will give her some fluids and send her on her way it’s going to be fine. After the luncheon and running out to the Farm for a few last minute preparations, mom tells me that they are keeping Granny overnight and she is more than likely not going to be able to attend the wedding. That was my breaking point. I do not show a lot of emotion, nor do I cry often especially in front of people. I broke down pretty bad when mom told me that. Granny is my only living grandparent and the only grandparent who was going to be in attendance for the wedding. I had my pity party before the rehearsal and I finally got myself together. It broke my heart that she couldn’t be there on my wedding day and hear me say my vows to my husband because I know she would have been so proud of me. It kills me that I don’t have a single picture with her, but I am thankful that she is still here. She is still here today and that means more to me than missing my wedding day.

The wedding party rode together in a van to our Rehearsal dinner in Memphis. We stopped on our way to the restaurant to see my Granny. She was still my sweet giggly Granny, and that made me feel so much better.

The Gangaware’s threw us an amazing Rehearsal Dinner at The Rendevouz. We had quite the crowd, and lots of fun and laughs!

Saturday, September 17, WEDDING DAY. All week long the weather forecast predicted rain on my wedding day. On that morning I woke up to sunshine and sprinkles. God tested us on Thursday and Friday, but like always he came through for us on Saturday.

The Vols played in the morning and WON, so that was also a good sign, HA!

The ladies started the day at Little Shop of Hair. My mom, sister, and I have been using Amy Malone, the owner, as our hair dresser for the last 6+ years. She and her team of ladies know how to make you feel and look beautiful. Amy did my hair as well as my mom and sisters. The bridesmaids hair was done by Tiffany Sullivan. All of our makeup was done by my good friend, Brittany Wright. I definitely recommend these sweet ladies for your next event!

We had a record breaking twelve minute ceremony. We did not do a first look because I wanted to be traditional and see each other for the first time walking down the aisle. Speaking of walking down the aisle, I only recall seeing The Jackson family on my entrance and Ryleigh Strong on our exit! I was not really nervous, to be honest. I blocked everyone out and I said my vows loud and proud.  There were no solos, no unity candles lit, and no ropes tied. It was short and sweet and I beamed with joy the entire time. We exited our wedding to Rocky Top, played on the organ just as my parents did, and my brother and his wife did.

The reception began with dances and cake. Soon after the cake was cut I remember hearing a loud popping noise. I immediately assumed the worst… thinking it was a generator backfire. To my surprise, as well as everyone else’s , my dad had a fireworks display put on by the local fire department. He had planned this himself and only told my uncle he was doing it. It was such a sweet surprise for me and our guests! Another surprise later on was my sweet friend Bennett preforming his favorite, Celine Dion. There was not a dry eye in sight. We did not do a garter toss. In fact, I did not even wear one. We did not do a bouquet toss either. I did not want to do those traditions so we opted out of them! Our wedding guests waved orange and white glow sticks to send us off.

However, as picture perfect as it may look and sound, there were many things that went wrong on this day. None that were big enough to even mention though. My advice to any bride to be is: No matter what goes right or wrong on your wedding day, at the end of the day you will be married to the love of your life and that is all that really matters, right?

Our wedding was so much fun. I still have friends asking if we are going to throw an anniversary party. We were so fortunate to have such wonderful people share our special day with us!

Readers, if you were there, share a fun memory from our wedding. Thank you for reading and please come back, I promise I won’t be this long winded again. Ha!

xoxo, Hogan

Click here for the photographers blog post.

Our Rings: Claire Eller’s Fine Jewelry in Memphis

Something Borrowed: My moms double strand pearl bracelet. My best friend, Jenn, also wore this in her wedding😊

Something New/Evans gift to Me: Pearl Diamond Drop Studs purchased at Claire Eller’s Fine Jewelry in Memphis

Something Blue & Old: My sister had one of my grandfathers old handkerchief’s embroidered with my initials and wedding date in blue.

Brides Gift to Groom: Rolex

Bridal Shoes: Badgley Mischka

Bridesmaid Dresses & Mother of the Bride Dress: All About Weddings in Germantown (this place has permanently closed)

Suits: McPherson’s

Flowers: Kathryn’s Flowers

Catering: Me and My Tea Room

Cakes: Amy Smith

Lemon Cookies: Christy Hayden

Pecan Pies: Nancy Stewart

Rentals: Mahaffey

Invitations|Programs|Koozies|Cups|Napkins: RSVP Stationers

Videographer: Weston Downing

Band: Dr. Zarr’s Amazing Funk Monsters

First Dance: How Sweet It Is by Marvin Gaye

Father Daughter Dance: The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra

Mother Son Dance: Lean On Me by Bill Withers

Bachelorette

Wow! We have been married for almost two years now… time flies! Since our two year anniversary is coming up next week we thought it would be a great time to do some blog posts all about our wedding, starting with the Bachelorette Party!

My sister in law, Melissa, with the help of the other girls too, threw me the most chic bachelorette party. We did a Kate Spade theme, so there were lots of stripes, polka dots, gold, and floral!

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Do you see that amazing backdrop? Melissa made that for all the photo ops! She also made lots of props for us to take pictures with. See this post for detailed instructions.

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The Kate Spade bags were given to the girls by me and included:

  • Kate Spade Bag: eBay I ordered these to use as the gift sack since it was the theme!
  • Hogan’s Bachelorette Weekend Coozie: Etsy (shop used for custom coozies)
  • Hair Ties: Etsy (can’t find exact listing but it was this shop)
  • Stemless Champagne Flute with their Name in Gold: A friend did the vinyl for the flutes.

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These gifts were swag for all of us put together by Melissa, Jenn & the girls, which included:

  • Hogan’s Bachelorette Tanks: Etsy
  • Hogan’s Bachelorette Sunglasses: Etsy
  • Beach Towels: eBay
  • Monogrammed Beach Spike (as seen above): Etsy

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Melissa had the whole weekend planned out for us! We arrived around lunch on Thursday and immediately hit the beach. Thursday night we went to a local Dueling Piano Bar, Funky Blues Shack for complimentary pizza and free beer for the first hour! What’s better than free beer, pizza, andddd dueling paino’s?!

Romper: Similar and on Sale

Future Mrs.Gangaware sash: my talented friend Brooke made it for me!

Friday was a beach day with all of our fun floats! We all ended up bringing floats without even planning to!

Similar Swimsuit: Swimsuits Direct

Floats: Target (these can be bought almost anywhere!)

Friday night we went to McGuire’s Irish Pub for dinner and drinks then walked across the street to AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar. They had a live band that was so much fun as you can tell from the pictures:)

Romper: Nordstrom of course it’s sold out but I’ll link some similar ones here: H&M Sale , Tobi Sale , Dillard’s Sale

Earrings: Kendra Scott (still wear these a lot two years later)

Shoes: Similar & On Sale

Saturday was our last beach day and we definitely made the best of it! All the other beach goers loved us because of all our floats! We ended up getting some great pictures on the beach before our evening festivities!

Dress: Similar

Earrings: Kendra Scott (after two years these are still a go to earring for me. I have definitely gotten my money’s worth )

After pictures we came back and played a game and opened a few gifts!

Our final dinner was at the Ocean Club and it was oh so good! Our waiter even mentioned a few celebs who frequent this restaurant including the late, Pat Summit, and Jessica Simpson! I highly recommend this restaurant next time you’re in Destin! It is a great atmosphere with live music.

After dinner, we hopped in an Uber and headed over to Baytowne, and hung out at another fun dueling piano bar, Rum Runners! #DESTINationGangaware was definitely a trip for the books! The girls outdid themselves and I am forever grateful for these awesome memories!

Thanks for stopping by! Check back next week for my wedding blog post and grab a snack because it’s going to be a long one!

xoxo. Hogan

Photo Booth Backdrop

If you wanted to know how I made our floral backdrop for photo-ops during Hogan’s Bachelorette, here are some helpful links and tips:

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First, I found some cute wrapping paper from Home Goods that fit our theme for the occasion. Since we were in Florida for Hogan’s Bachelorette, I wanted the background to be colorful and bright, and I found the perfect paper at my local Home goods. I bought 3 rolls to be on the safe side, but I ended up only using two.

Next, to make the background bold and fun, I looked up some paper flower tutorials on Pinterest and browsed other floral backdrops for Pinspiration. Here is another link for a variety of step-by step, paper flower tutorials. To make the flowers, I bought a bunch of tissue paper, and gathered some floral wire, green fuzzy pipe cleaners, tape, scissors, and got to work!

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To make the inside of the flower, I folded up some yellow tissue paper into a long rectangular shape and cut little strips into is about 2/3 of the way down. Then you roll that up around the floral wire (or some green, fuzzy pipe cleaners) and tape it together. Then you add the petals, starting with smaller ones on the inside and keep adding larger petals around the outside until you have built your flower to your desired size. Around each layer of petals, I taped around the bottom/inside of the petals to make sure they wouldn’t fall apart after putting them together. Add some green leaves to the back for some contrast once you’re done, tape them down, and twist some floral wire around the back as well for extra stability.

Once the flower is all put together, I used a pencil to roll the ends of the flowers and curl them out to add some body and extra shape to the flowers. Keep repeating until you think you have enough flowers for the look that you want. I went for an asymmetrical cluster of flowers so I wouldn’t have to make too many.

To make the photo booth props, I used some scrapbooking paper, and my Cricut to cut out words to match our Kate Spade theme, and taped word bubbles onto some wooden skewers so the props would be easy to hold.

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When you’re ready to put everything up on your wall clear, packaging Duct Tape is your best friend! Tape, tape, tape, tape, tape…and then maybe add a little extra tape for good measure.

If you have a good Netflix series to watch and a nice glass of wine to drink while you’re doing this project you will breeze through it in no time!

Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!

-Melissa

Pesto

Here it is, the blog post you have all been waiting for! Just kidding, but Pesto is a recipe that is often requested by many of my friends. It is another favorite thing that I love to make during the summer months when my basil plants are growing like weeds out in the garden. I normally grow at least 5 bushes of basil each summer (some in the ground and some in pots for the back porch), so I have enough fresh basil on hand to make big batches of pesto for myself, and to share with all the other pesto lovers I know.

It has taken a little time to get this one down on paper because I usually just throw the ingredients in my food processor and puree everything without doing the exact same proportions every time; but I made sure to measure everything the last time I made it so I can provide it to you! I apologize to all those in the past who I have promised the recipe to and never followed through…here it FINALLY is!

Remember, everything can be tweaked to your taste…you don’t have to add as much garlic if you don’t want to have your pesto spicy, like I do.

Here is what you start out with:

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INGREDIENTS:

12 Cups Basil
8 oz. Parmesan (grated)

3 Lemons (juiced)
10 Cloves Garlic
1 Cup Pine Nuts
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

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First, make sure that all your basil is washed, and free of dirt, and any other critters that might find their way onto your plants. I like using the Fit brand of produce wash, but I also sometimes buy the generic brands from a local health food store like Whole Foods, or Sprouts. After washing the basil, I tear the good leaves off the stems and compost the stems and leaves that were eaten by bugs, wilted, etc.

Next, prep the rest of your food so you can just throw it all together in the food processor. This means juice your lemons, grate your parmesan (I recommend using a grated block of parmesan over any kind of bagged/pre grated parmesan for better taste and overall quality of your pesto), peel your garlic, and get everything else out on your counter that you need for this recipe.

  1. In your food processor, mix garlic, pine nuts, a handful of parmesan, and a few generous swirls of olive oil until smooth and creamy.

2.  Scrape down sides with spatula, add basil to the top of your food processor and top with juice from approximately 2 lemons. Pulse until well blended.

3.  Repeat step 2, but with a couple swirls of olive oil instead of lemon juice.

4.  Add remaining cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth and creamy.

5.  Top off with any remaining basil and lemon. Blend.

6.  Taste your pesto and see if it needs any additional salt and pepper (or maybe more garlic!).

7.  Store in small ball jars until you’re ready to use!

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If you would like to print this out, HERE IS THE RECIPE IN PDF.

Tips:

-If you’re storing pesto in the fridge, fill jars to the very top so there is no air in the jar and it will keep for months! Once there is air in the jar the pesto will start to oxidize and brown a little on top. This doesn’t mean that the pesto has gone bad! Just scoop out the brown part and use the rest of the green pesto.

-If you want to freeze the pesto, leave a little space at the top for it to expand in the freezer. Freezing changes the consistency a little, but it still will taste good, and freezing is a good way to have pesto saved for winter months!

-If my pesto is a little on the thick side and I want to make pesto pasta, I will take a small ladle of boiling water (that I am cooking the pasta in) and mix it in to the pesto to thin it out before I toss the pasta and pesto together and serve!

-Pesto tastes great on pastas, toast, in eggs, or just as a dip with crackers.

I hope you all enjoy this recipe. Let me know how yours turns out, or if you have any additional questions. Also, please comment and let us know how you use your pesto!

-Melissa

DIY Live Slab Bench

After purchasing our home back in 2016, I couldn’t wait to hit the ground running on updating the interior of our home because everything was original and from the 80’s! While the 80’s was a rad decade for music and fashion, in my opinion, 80’s interior design could be erased from our design history books! Just kidding, because I think we can learn from ALL history (and especially learn things that we should not do or repeat).

That being said, we made a lot of changes to the interior, with contractors taking care of the big stuff, and me working on the details and smaller projects that I could handle myself. One of these small (and EASY) projects I did is a Live Slab Bench pictured below!

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I absolutely LOVE live slab dining tables and think that adding elements of natural wood pieces to rooms adds some interest and warmth…and they just look really cool! I knew my husband would not go for the price tag of buying a brand new, live edge, dining table (maybe one day!) with all the renovations we were doing, but I made my mind up that I wanted something live edge, so I decided to make a bench!

When looking for something random like a slab of wood, I always start online with eBay. I found the perfect live edge redwood piece for me that was rectangular like a bench.  I wanted a rectangular shape for the versatility that it could give me because I thought that maybe I could use it as a coffee table depending on what kind of furniture we got for our den.

I also found some iron double hairpin legs on eBay because I thought some retro elements would match our house (and it would also keep the project pretty simple).

To start, you need:

  1. Live Edge Wood Slab
  2. Iron Double Hairpin Legs (4)
  3. Sander with fine grit sandpaper (a couple grades)
  4. High Gloss Polyurethane protective finish (and paint brush to apply)
  5. Drill
  6. Screws to attach your legs (12)

After gathering all the supplies for the project, I started out by sanding the live edge slabs, being careful to not over-sand it (and remove all the cool burn marks). The piece of redwood had already been put through a sander before it was shipped, so there wasn’t too much work that I needed to do there.

After sanding, I wiped down the wood with a wet rag to remove all the fine dust and let it dry. Next, I applied the high gloss, polyurethane with a paint brush. Be careful when applying your protective finish so you don’t get bubbles in the polyurethane. Use smooth, long strokes when applying (don’t go back and forth a lot or it might cloud up your gloss and add those bubbles you don’t want in there).

Apply 2 good coats letting it dry fully in between each coat. Waiting for the polyurethane to dry was probably the hardest part of this project because I was too excited about the bench, and wanted to get to the end to see the finished product!

Once everything was dry, it was time to apply the legs! I flipped the wood onto the wrong/bottom side and just spaced the legs out to where I thought they would look best. Once the legs are spaced out evenly, with one in each corner (or wherever you want to put them depending on the shape of your slab), I made a mark with a sharpie where I would be screwing the legs into the wood.

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Once you have your marks you can get your drill out and drill holes into the wood so the screws go in easily! I just found screws from Home Depot that looked like a good fit for the size of the holes on the leg-plate. Once the holes are drilled, line the plates back up to them so you can screw in your screws. Repeat for each leg on your bench, flip it over, and ta-da! You have yourself a one of a kind piece of live-edge furniture.

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Be sure to comment to let us know what you think of this project, or tell us if you have made something similar!

-Melissa

 

 

OBA

The south’s favorite beach vacation; the Gulf! Evan and I booked a short trip to the beach to celebrate my 28th Birthday, as well as visit my sister and her family. My sister recently moved to a small town in Alabama, about three hours from Orange Beach! Evan and I drove down after work and spent the night with them on Friday. The kids were so happy to see us for a night!

Saturday morning we drove the rest of the way and made it to the beach by noon! Evan and his family have frequented Orange Beach a lot over the years. Every time we go, Evan insists on eating at Doc’s ! It is a little seafood shack where you can make your own cocktail sauce at the table. So that was our first stop. Evan had the shrimp po’boy while I had the fried shrimp. Delish!

The weather was not great the entire time we were there, but we made the best of it. We were able to enjoy the beach for a few hours on Saturday afternoon before cleaning up for dinner.

Swimsuit: Lilly Pulitzer

Coverup: Amazon

Earrings: Kendra Scott

Sunglasses: Unicorn Eyewear (use promo code: unicorn20 for 20% off your purchase)

We had a late dinner at Cobalt, The Restaurant. The restaurant was packed, but luckily, we scooped up two seats at the bar soon after arriving! We were waiting on a table outside, but just decided to dine at the bar because the wait was so long. I love seafood so much; it was so hard to choose my entree! I ended up ordering the blackened redfish served with jambalaya, grilled asparagus, and Tabasco hollandaise sauce. Definitely try to sit outside here if you get a chance to go.

Top: Nordstrom

Jeans: J. Crew Factory

Shoes: Nordstrom

Clutch: Nordstrom

Earrings: Kendra Scott

Sunday morning I woke up to beignets and coffee. At least once a trip Evan grabs us a couple beignets from Cafe Beignets and they are so yummy!

It was a rainy morning, so I of course wanted to go shopping at the Tanger Outlet. Evan actually NEEDED a few things so he was up for it. He was able to grab some new work pants and a new belt. He rarely buys for himself so I was happy he found something even if he did NEED it! I did not have as much luck as I thought I would. I bought a few things at H&M, and a few things that I’ve already shared from Gap Factory.

After shopping, we had a late lunch on the covered patio at Cosmos’s. We ordered my favorite, bang bang shrimp, for an appetizer. We both ordered fish wraps for lunch and of course a couple cocktails 🙂 I highly recommend the Pineapple Sangria with fresh pineapple!

Dress: Loft (on sale)

Another overcast afternoon at the beach but it’s better than no beach at all!

Swimsuit: Dillard’s (on sale)

Coverup: Matilda Jane

Sunglasses: Unicorn Eyewear (use promo code: unicorn20 for 20% off your purchase)

Saturday night, we went to a cool little spot called The Gulf to enjoy the sunset with a cocktail before going to dinner. It’s such a neat place to go hang out and definitely kid friendly for those of you wondering!

Jumpsuit: American Threads

Earrings: Kendra Scott

Shoes: Sole Society

We decided to go to the Louisiana Lagniappe for dinner. This place is hands down the best food, service, and ambience! We could have gone back to dinner there the next night too, but opted to try a new place. They started us out with their homemade hush puppies. Evan ordered the spicy New Orleans style BBQ shrimp with homemade bread. I ordered fresh grouper sautéed and topped with toasted pecans. We devoured our dinner then went back to the condo where we sat on the balcony and listened to the waves with one more glass of wine😉

Our final day at the beach was my Birthday! I have already filled you in on our morning and 28 facts about myself in honor of my birthday! If you haven’t read that check it out here.

After our brunch we hit the beach, then the rain came. So we went in while it passed, and once it stopped we went back for the second time. Rain came again and so the third time we settled for the pool. The rain finally had moved out completely so we went to the beach to take pictures.

Dress: Lilly Pulitzer (Older style dress but lots of cute current ones)

Earrings: Target (similar)

We went to dinner at a fun little place called Fin and Fork. Their menu was insane! So much to choose from so definitely something for everyone. We ordered the smoked tuna dip drizzled with a spicy sriracha type sauce for an appetizer and it was delicious! Once again I couldn’t make up my mind on my entree but decided on the blackened mahi mahi topped with lump crab and a Gorgonzola cream sauce! It was just as good as it sounds!!! Evan ordered the crab stuffed snapper which was also amazing. Since it was my birthday we HAD TO order dessert…. the buzzed brownie was to die for! The sweet older foursome sitting next to us asked if we were on our honeymoon. Glad to know we still look like happy newly weds💕

I know a lot of you readers frequent this area for vacation, so if there’s any thing you’d like to add about the area please comment! We love OBA and wish we could have stayed longer!

xoxo, Hogan

Pimento Cheese

Who has been counting down the days to the start of college football season? This is a favorite time of year for many in the South, including myself, because it means fall weather and lots of get togethers with friends to cheer on your alma mater. There is also ample possibility to re-live your glory days :).

In honor of football season, I thought I’d post my pimento cheese recipe! Being a transplant to the South, I did not grow up eating this southern staple, but I have to say that I have grown to love it. And when I make it, I will literally eat it all day long! I will put it in eggs for breakfast, then eat it with some crackers for lunch (and a snack), and then find some way to incorporate a little bit of it into dinner too. Needless to say, I try not to make it too often because it is so dangerous to be around.

The first time my husband requested I make Pimento Cheese, I had to look to Pinterest for inspiration because, while I knew basically what was in it, I wanted to find an awesome recipe that would make eating all that cheese and mayo worth it. I found this recipe where the Pin made reference to “a southern crack,” and thought that sounded like a pretty good place to start… With that being said, I feel the need to disclaim that I am not advocating for any type of crack use whatsoever, but this stuff is pretty addictive.

Since then, I started making it from memory, and have adapted my recipe into what it is today!

Here is what you need to start:

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INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs. Cabot Extra Sharp White Cheddar (grated)
4-5 Garlic cloves
3 Jalapeños (chopped (keep some seeds if you want heat))

1 Lemon (juiced)
2 small jars pimento
1/3 cup Ranch Dressing
1/3 cup Mayo

(black pepper and/or cayenne to taste)

WHAT TO DO:

  1. Get all your ingredients ready to mix together (grate cheese, chop garlic & peppers, and juice your lemon).
  2. Mix the Jalapeños, garlic, lemon juice, pimentos with the canned juice, garlic, mayo, and ranch dressing.
  3. Stir in cheese.
  4. Add pepper(s) to taste and also you may add a little more of any other ingredient if you think it needs a little extra.
  5. Put in tupperware and refrigerate for a couple hours so flavors of can incorporate together.

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Here is a printable version of the recipe.

I recommend using the Cabot Extra Sharp White Cheddar for this recipe because it has such a great taste (and because it does not have the artificial coloring that makes most cheese orange).

Pimento Cheese is such a versatile food. I recommend putting it on eggs, crackers, and cucumber slices (if you’re cutting back on carbs). Also, Pimento Cheese takes any kind of meat sandwich up a notch. And if you want to make your sandwich EXTRA, add some bacon.

Try this recipe for your next tailgate or party, and let us know if it was a hit!

-Melissa

Whole Almond Joy Bars

What do you like to take with you to snack on while traveling? Granola bars and nuts are my usual go-to healthy option that I always have on hand for when hunger strikes. I try to avoid eating airport food when flying, and fast food when driving, because unhealthy food always makes me feel sluggish (and I think it is better to eat yummy foods that also nourish your body)! During our last trip to L.A., I was fresh out of granola bars and only had plain, unsalted almonds on hand (blah). As I looked through my pantry I thought about @whatdowieeat and decided to make up some sort of granola bar, like Michelle Wie! Being a big fan of chocolate and coconut, I came up with these Whole Almond Joy Bars. Recipe listed below!

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They are kind of the consistency of a Larabar, but in my opinion, yummier! And the husband approves (he actually requested that I make them again)!

I was really excited to snack on these during our red-eye out to LA (and back) and sharing them with the girls, but ended up forgetting them in the fridge!!! Luckily there were still some leftover when I got home. They made a great on-the-go breakfast the whole week following our trip.

Here is what you start out with:

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Because I like to make a lot at once to have leftovers, I use an eleven (11) cup Cuisinart food processor that I bought from Bed Bath & Beyond way back in the day! You can use any size you have and just adjust ratios accordingly. In addition to needing a food processor for this recipe you also need a 9×13 baking sheet and some parchment paper.

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Start out with your oats and nuts (you can use any kind of nut you want) and blend! I used unsalted, roasted almonds and some old fashioned, non GM, oats.

Bars4After you have those nice and blended, add the coconut and cocoa powder and blend again! Then add your dates and Blend (dates are great for you if you’re pregnant, by the way)!

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Finally you add the wet ingredients (peanut butter, coconut oil, and a little maple syrup for sweetness) and blend until it is all incorporated and becomes a dough-like texture.

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Pour it all out onto your pan lined with parchment paper and press everything down really well into the pan. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or so, then cut up your bars and enjoy!

Give us a shout and let us know what you think of this recipe!

Whole Almond Joy Bars (PDF version)

What you need:

  • 2 cups almonds (or any nut you have on hand)
  • 1 1/2 cups oats (uncooked)
  • 1 8 oz. bag of dates
  • 1 cup of coconut
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (cashew butter tastes great in this recipe too!)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 9×13 baking pan
  • parchment paper

How to:

  1. Blend your almonds and oatmeal together in your food processor until it is fine, and well blended together.
  2. Add coconut, cocoa, and dates and blend until ingredients are well incorporated.
  3. Add your wet ingredients and blend until ingredients reach a dough like consistency (it will form a ball and start coming off the sides of the food processor)
  4. Pour out onto the pan and press down firmly to flatten out the dough.
  5. Refrigerate until bars are hard, cut, and enjoy!
  6. Store in a plastic bag or other airtight container.

Enjoy!

-Melissa

28

Today I am 28 years old. Wow, creeping up on the big 3-0! We are still at the beach so first on the agenda today was brunch! The Ruby Slipper Cafe did not disappoint!

Top: Gap Factory (on sale)

Shorts: Gap Factory (on sale)

Shoes: Nordstrom

Clutch: Nordstrom

Sunglasses: Unicorn Eyewear (stay tuned for a post about receiving 20% off)

Bracelet: Tiffany & Co.

Watch: Marc Jacobs

In honor of my birthday, I am revealing 28 random facts about me that you may not know. Let me tell you… it was hard to come up with 28 facts but I had a little help from my husband and my mom so here we go…

1. My mom was going to name me Hogan whether I was a boy or a girl. Hogan Elizabeth or Hogan Benton.

2. I was named Hogan because it is my moms maiden name.

3.  I was born with webbed toes. No, I cannot swim better because of them. Lol. When I was three I had surgery to separate them but it was not 100% successful.

4. I had a disease in my hips when I was three years old called Legg Perthes. After healing one hip it happened to the other one. If you see me with a limp, I must be sore.

5. I’ve had a broken collar bone, a busted ear drum, a broken ankle, a broken foot, and numerous stitches all before the age of 8 years old….not to mention the hip & toe issue above. Someone should have called DCS on my parents…kidding! Knock on wood, I hope I am done with the emergency room for awhile! 😂

6. I am right handed but I have dribbled the basketball left handed since day one. I still miss those Church basketball days.

7. I met my best friend, Jenn, the night of my first High School Christmas Dance. In High School all my friends would come to my house to take pictures before the dance. My friend Kerry Ann and I were upstairs in my bedroom finishing getting ready when my mom yelled up, “Girls, Jenn is on her way upstairs!” I still remember looking at my Kerry Ann like “who?” Jenn and I have been best friends ever since!

8. I had braces for three years and I wear a retainer to bed every night.

9. I played on the Golf Team in high school and was scouted by a couple colleges.

10. When I turned 16 my parents gave me a 2005 Red Mustang. Before I got my car I had told my dad I really wanted a sunroof. I did not know mustangs did not come with sunroofs so my dad had one installed for me.

Yes… I have been called a Princess a Time or two.. 😉

11. My favorite holiday is the Fourth of July🇺🇸

12. I was a lifeguard all four summers of High School.

13. I was a Student Ambassador for People to People in 2007. I traveled to France, Italy, and Malta for 20 days that summer.

14. I graduated from the University of Memphis Lambuth Campus with a degree in Liberal Studies concentrating in Criminal Justice & Psychology.

15. When I went to college, I gained 20 pounds. Thankfully, I have gotten back to my precollege weight!

16. Evan and I dated for a year while he was a Freshman in college and I was a Junior in High School 2007/2008. We got back together in the spring of 2012 and then married in 2016.

17. Evan and I are both the babies of the family. We believe that is one of the many reasons we get along so well.

18. I nannied for Kate Krull for a few years while I was in college. I was with the Krull family during some of the most trying years of their life. If you dont know their story, please check it out and continue to pray for them,  Go Lucy Go

19. Evans grandfather died two days before our wedding. They held off on the arrangements so that we could make our honeymoon.

20. My grandmother was admitted to the hospital the day before our wedding and was not able to attend. We visited her on our way to our Rehearsal Dinner.

21. Evan and I exited our wedding to Rocky Top being played on the organ just like my parents did on their wedding day!

22. The fireworks at our reception were a complete surpirse. My dad had planned them and not told anyone about it except for my uncle and the Fire Department.

23. Evan and I flew from our honeymoon in St. Lucia straight to Knoxville to catch Tennessee beat Florida for the first time in 11 years. Needless to say we had the best honeymoon we could have asked for 🙂

24. I am a licensed Notary Public.

25. I have a carrying permit.

26. Evan and I drink a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar every morning and every evening.

27. Evan and I do not eat fast food except for the occasional Chick-fil-A.

28. Evan and I attend Church at the Mt. Carmel First Presbyterian Church.

Happy Birthday to me! Hope I didn’t bore you too much! Looking forward to another blessed year!

I’ll be sharing a full post all about our beach trip once we return! Thanks for stopping by!

xoxo, Hogan