Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cake Batter Blondies

I am helping my mom host a recommendation writing party for the alumni of our sorority in Gadsden tonight and I told her I would make a dessert. Again, I clearly forgot that my oven is still not working, but I always like trying new desserts and I needed something that I could make the night before, so a dessert it was. I stumbled upon a picture of a cake batter blondie on my friend Erin's blog but she didn't have the recipe listed so I did what any normal person would do--I googled it. I found a really yummy looking recipe on (which I am now obsessed with, btw) and tada--here they are!!

Ingredients (all purchased at ALDI)
1 yellow cake mix (although I bet you could use any kind--think of the options!!)
1/4 cup oil
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles (funfetti cake mix would also achieve the same result)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (optional, but oh so good)

Combine 1st 3 ingredients in a large bowl and then add the milk slowly. The add sprinkles and chips.

It will be very hard to mix because the batter is really thick (a strong husband is very helpful at this stage). Pour into a brownie pan. It really doesn't "pour" so you may have to use your fingers.

Bake at 350 for 30 min or until the edges start to brown

Finished product, lovingly baked in the Hayes' oven

Stella was watching me mix these up from under the kitchen table. Doesn't it look like he leads a stressful life??
Let me know if you try them and what you think! I am anxious to make them with different cake mixes and different add ins!!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Model Citizen

My life has been put in rather harsh perspective lately: my little sister has started modeling! I'm not talking like Kate Moss modeling or anything, but lately she has done a few "gigs" and I am really really proud of her (although I might secretly hate her, just a little bit, for her ridiculously long legs and the 4+ inches in the height department that she has over me)! I wanted to share some of her images with you below. These were taken by Leslee Mitchell a workshop she held in Nashville. Isn't she talented? I hope she doesn't mind me showing off some of her work (which I swipe off of MMM's facebook page). Again, let me reiterate that I did NOT take these pics. Far be it from the lawyer sister to infringe on someone's copyright! Actually, MMM tells me that Leslee was a lawyer! How neat!

Baileys Daily

So it seems that all of my posts are recaps of our weekend or the fun things we do during the week. That was pretty much my intention when I started the blog: to keep a scrapbook of all the moments we want to remember. While we are lucky to be always on the go, I wanted to write a little about what we do "daily". Actually, our days right now are very different from our days when Forrest is in class. It really has been nice to have him home so much more! He is very sweet to help me around the house, to start dinner when I ask him to, and to complete little tasks for me that I don't really think I can do myself (like today he is fixing the overhead light in our bedroom--I can't reach it, let alone fix it). We are trying to enjoy these days as much as we can because when he is in school we have a lot less quality time together.
Generally, however, when Forrest is in school, our routine is mostly the same. He gets up at a ridiculously early time (I won't let him tell me what time his alarm goes off because if I know I will do that whole "I only have 1 more hour of sleep" mind game) and heads off to UAB for a full day of school. He has a couple of classes a day (although I think that changes this year so he'll have less) and then sees patients or is on different rotations. He likes working with his patients the best and I enjoy getting to see how dedicated he is to them. He takes pride in what he does and wants to be the best dentist he can be!
While he is dentist-ing, I go on to work. I get up and leave at a different time each day, depending on what all is going on. Sometimes I have court all day, other days I see clients, and on some days I do both, with paperwork and phone calls (and blogging) squeezed in. That is one of the best parts of my job--I never have the same schedule twice! Since Forrest is an hour away I also handle all of the errands and other tasks that need to be done--picking up dry cleaning, paying bills, etc.
After work, I usually go straight home (although there might be a quick grocery stop for meat, which I like to buy fresh at Johnsons on the day I am going to cook it) and get dinner started. While I'm cooking I try to squeeze in as many other tasks as possible, like sorting the mail, feed the animals, and attempting to straighten up the house before Forrest gets home. I also generally make him a lunch for the next day (adorably sweet, I know). Usually he gets home just in time for dinner or if he is "early" he goes and plays outside with Sonny. This is great for 2 reasons: one, it helps relieve the inevitable stress that comes from driving through traffic on the way home and two, it tires Sonny out, something that MUST be done each day! A little game of fetch is usually just what they both need!
Dinner time to me is sacred. I like for us to sit at the table, no tv, say our blessing together, and discuss our days, no matter what is going on with us and even if I cook a frozen pizza. This is usually my favorite part of our days, especially when he is really busy with school work. However, I have a great husband who gets to school early so that he can get his work done there instead of having loads of it when he gets home. After dinner, if the weather is nice (not too hot, not too cold--just right) we take the dogs on a long walk around the neighborhood. This is another time that I love the most--just us, chatting away, with no interruptions or distractions. Once we get home Forrest will usually finish up any lingering work he may have while I watch some trash I have DVR'd (I have very bad taste in TV, I admit) and usually by that time it is getting to be bed time. Most of the time we each read for a while before we actually go to sleep and I almost always stay up longer, since I don't have to get up as early.
Yes, none of that was very exciting, and I'm sure you are saying "Thank goodness she doesn't write about random Tuesdays". I just wanted to get out the basic framework of our lives right now, because we really only have 1 more year of this schedule and then who knows! I want to be able to look back and remember what a day in our lives during our 3rd year of marriage was like, 20 years down the road. Of course, we have fun things added into our schedule all the time, like book club, or one of Forrest's bike rides, or an impromptu dinner with friends, but basically, this is our Bailey life, daily.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hodge Podge

This weekend was a veritable hodge podge of activities for the Baileys but it kept us on our toes! On Friday night we actually were excited to have basically nothing to do, considering the craziness of the past few weekends. My brother was in town so we did end up going to the Fish Market with him and my dad and sister (my mom had a migraine). Other than that, we just laid around all evening watching the Cosby Show. I ordered the first season over a week ago just for fun and we have really gotten into it! I forgot how funny and touching it was!
On Saturday, Forrest took part in the Barbarian Challenge. What is that, you may ask? Well it is sort of like an obstacle course race that was held at Noccalula Falls. It was Forrest's first time to participate and he was very excited--me, not so much. I tried to know as little as possible about the course so I wouldn't be scared for him. He and Jonathan and Denise were in the 11am heat and they did great and had a blast! Forrest got 3rd place in his heat (about 100 people) and we think 10th overall (out of about 600). He was covered in mud and hurt his toe but he pretty much came out unscathed, which is great, considering the crazy obstacles, like the smoke house filled with barbed wire and the electric shock tunnel!! Thank goodness I was NOT there to watch!!!
Forrest and Alex, one of J and D's friends from law school (these pics are taken from Denise's camera)

My barbarian friends!

The guys showing off their medals

Forrest's number, covered in mud!!! So were his shoes and clothes, and him!!!

Close up of his medal, which he proudly wore to Serendipity that night

Well where was I instead of cheering on my barbarian husband? I was at the wedding of my sorority sister, Amelia and one of Forrest's dental school classmates, Josh. It was unfortunate that Forrest had to miss but I had a great time nevertheless. Amelia looked beautiful in her lace gown and and I was thrilled to be able to see some of my sorority sisters that I never get to see! The reception was at a beautiful farm house situated on a lovely pond. They had a bluegrass band playing under a big white tent. It was so picturesque (except I didn't take a pic). Here are a few pics from Amelia and Josh's big day! We wish you guys all the best!!

Amelia's beautiful cake!

Groom's cake, with a replica "Josh" on top!

With Ashley and Erin, 2 of my sorority sisters who were bridesmaids

I had to include this, even though it is crooked--a RANCH fountain!

Cutting the cake!
After the wedding I rushed home so we could turn around and head to 4pm Mass. Poor Forrest was so tired but he sucked it up like any good barbarian and got ready too. After Mass we had another quick turn around (if you are counting that is 3 costume changes for the day) for a pre-Serendipity party at Jonathan and Denise's. Serendipity is another dance club in Gadsden and they honor several "Serendipity Singles" each year at the dance. Forrest and I were both "Serendipity Singles" the summers after we graduated college. At J and D's it was great fun to hear them talk about their stories from the challenge, especially since Alex, their friend from Law School, got first place in his age group, and therefore was showing off his prize--the barbarian helmet!! After drinks and munchies we headed to the Club for the dance. Forrest and I were new members this year so we got to participate in the lead out, which is always fun. We got lots of cheers from our "fans"! The air conditioning wasn't working well so it was really too hot to dance, which is a shame because I was looking forward to a fun night of dancing with the girls, but we had fun anyway, just hanging out and chatting with our Gadsden pals!

Forrest rocking his medal and J and D's

About to leave for the dance. This was my rehearsal dinner dress and I was so excited to get to wear it again! When we got out of the car some kids walking by asked if we had just gotten married. How sweet!
The next morning we were ridiculously lazy and I didn't get out of bed until it was time to meet my college roomie Molly for lunch. Davis and Forrest came along to the Flip Side Cafe with us as we tried to solve the world's problems over our sandwiches and sweet potato fries. Have I mentioned I love love love Molly and wish that she would move back to Gadsden?????? I got all of my grocery shopping done on the way home  and we did a quick clean up of the house because we were having an impromptu "puppy party" at 3. My sister wanted to bring her puppy Maggie over to play so we called Sara and Aunt Sue to bring Mac. My goodness at all the dogs, not only did we have the 2 pups and our 2 dogs, but Sullivan and Libby, 2 dogs from the neighborhood, ended up coming over for the fun too! It was hilarious to see them all running, chasing, and wrestling with each other!!! A storm popped up quickly so we brought the little dogs inside for some more fun. Ruffles was a little unhappy with all the hoopla but Mac and Maggie got along great and were wrestling and playing up a storm!!! I was so sad when they all had to leave!!!

Dog pile!

Mac and Maggie wrestling while Ruffles looks on disapprovingly
After the puppy party Forrest and I opened all the windows (it was still drizzling) and turned off the lights and started watching Hook, a movie that came out when we were young (20 years ago--eewwww-that makes me sound old). We both napped during it but oh it was one of those amazing rain naps that is just marvelous!!! We had to make ourselves wake up to go to dinner at my parents' house!! After the past few busy weekend that we have had lately and the random assortment of things we did this weekend, we definitely needed the rest!!! Have a great week!!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Nutella Cake

Here is the recipe for the cake I made for Father's Day. I have to say it was spectacular!! Thanks Aunt Fran for sending it to me, and to Justin and Farrah for letting me bake it in their oven since mine is still broken! This was adapted from Paula Deen (so you know it has a lot of butter!).

1 boxed devil's food cake mix (do NOT prepare according to package directions)
1 egg
1 stick butter (8 tablespoons), melted

1 8oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup Nutella
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter (8 tablespoons), melted
1 box (16oz) powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13x9 inch pan.

Cake mixture in the bottom of the pan
Next, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and Nutella until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and melted butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar and mix well. Spread this mixture over the cake batter and bake for 40-50 minutes.

Nutella mixture on top of the cake mixture
Make sure not to over bake, as the center should be a little gooey. Served with fresh whipped cream and enjoy!

The finished product. It comes out kind of like brownies, not as much like cake.

Jess and Brittany's Wedding

Yes, that's right! This weekend we were at another wedding. I don't want to sound like we don't enjoy them, because there may be nothing I love more than a wedding, especially a wedding of one of our greatest friends! This weekend we celebrated the wedding of Jess Mann, one of Forrest's little brothers in the fraternity who also is in dental school, a couple of classes below Forrest, and his beautiful bride Brittany Breeding (how about that for some alliteration?). On Friday we enjoyed an amazing rehearsal dinner at the loft above Flower Stems, catered by Chef Bob. Holy Moses, the food was to die for! Kelley C and I made sure we were the first in line to load our plates up with some of everything on the buffet. There were salads, tons of different cheeses, the most amazing creamed corn I have ever had, roasted turkey and pork tenderloin with a bbq sauce that was out of this world, along with so much more! For dessert, well I had both options: blueberry cobbler with ice cream and the most amazing fudge pie! I was STUFFED but oh so happy about it!

Yes, I ate all of this!
Not only did we have great food at the dinner, but it was also nice to catch up with several of Forrest's fraternity friends that we don't see very often. We decided that we must start meeting more often, and hopefully we can start going to dinner together in Birmingham soon! We also saw a sweet slide show of Jess and Brittany and heard speeches from several of their friends. It was such a sweet night!
The next day I slept in while Forrest, Davis, and Denise went for a LONG bike ride into Georgia! They amaze me every time they ride!! When I finally got up, I did a bunch of house work I had been putting off, baked a cake for father's day, and got ready to head back to Birmingham for the wedding. Since Forrest was a groomsman, I had to drop him off at the church early and then had some time to kill before I had to be back for the ceremony. I stopped by Our Lady of Sorrows Church (the church where all of my Birmingham family goes) to see my Aunt Fran who was volunteering in the "Trash and Treasure", the rummage sale they host on the 4th of July weekend. I was able to snag some bargains before the sale started. Also, Justin and Farrah happened to be in town, so I got them to stop by to see if they found anything that they might need for their new house. They had great luck and lucked into some awesome deals on some Christmas decor! After my bargain hunting I went to my grandparents house to relax and to get ready for the wedding. I was able to eat a big snack and finish my book before I had to start getting ready--this is what I consider a successful day!!!
The wedding ceremony was at Trinity Methodist and it was very nice. Brittany's bridesmaids wore red dresses which looked great in the sanctuary. The real fun was at the reception at The Club. We got there about 6:30 and even though it was VERY hot we got to enjoy the outside terace overlooking the city of Birmingham while we sipped our cocktails in an effort to keep cool. Again, Kelley and I had to start the food line (we have decided we are always attending weddings together from now on, since neither of us are shy about being the first ones to eat) but I am so glad that we did. The food was quite tasty and included sushi, crab cakes, carved beef sandwiches, and my favorite, mini turkey and cheese sandwiches on a stick! Just when I thought I couldn't eat any more, they cut the beautiful wedding cakes from Olexa's. Never being the type to turn down cake, Forrest and I decided we'd each get a piece of the groom's cake and we would share the wedding cake. Delicious!!!


After we ate, it was time for the dancing to begin, which was a perfect way for me to attempt to burn off all of the calories I had just consumed. The band was Az Izz, which is a band that the Lambda Chi's had frequently while Forrest was in college. However, they "clean up" and also do weddings and I have to say they were totally awesome! For the first hour, they played some great motown hits, and then after that, they mixed it up with some newer, hipper songs. For example, they played "Shout" , followed by Nelly. It was a great mix that kept us dancing all night. It was actually just like being at a band party in college, except much cleaner!! I would definitely say that the highlight of the evening was the fireworks show! All of the guests gathered outside on the patio to watch the 10 minute extravaganza. Just when we thought it was over, it kept going! It was so beautiful and romantic!! We were having so much fun all night long that I hardly took any pictures, but here are the few that I did manage to remember to snap.

They had choreographed a first dance number

Smiling with the happy couple

Over looking the city with my sweet hubby

One of the lovely arrangements. I loved the flowers that were down in the vase

All the Lambda Chi's. They were screaming some fraternity chat. It was total chaos!
Sunday was Father's Day, so after church we went straight to the Bailey's for a steak lunch prepared by Davis. I presented my Gooey Nutella Cake, a recipe Aunt Fran found in the paper and mailed to me. I have to admit it was a HUGE success! I will definitely be making this in the future! The weather was great so we spent part of the afternoon just sitting on the Bailey's patio, watching Sonny run through the yard.

Sonny loves Davis, so much so that he tried to climb up in his lap while we were eating lunch!
Next, it was home for a much needed nap for me while Forrest kept himself busy in the yard. Then, as usual, we went to Mom and Dad's for dinner, where Daddy had to cook his own father's day meal of boiled shrimp and steak kabobs. Yummy yummy! We definitely were fed well over the weekend!! After dinner I stayed late to watch the Miss USA Pageant with my mom. We decided we needed to get ourselves pageant savvy since my sister has started competing in them. If you have been a faithful reader of my blog, you remember that my sister was 3rd runner up to Miss Alabama USA, and if she had won, we would have been watching her last night!
I hope you all had a great Father's day and I hope our father's and grandfather's know how much we love them! Thank you all for everything!!! Have a great week!

Friday, June 17, 2011

What a Week!!

This week has worn me out, but in a good way! Here are the highlights:
-maybe the BEST day of the week because we got new neighbors and they happen to be our bffs Justin and Farrah!!! Hooray! I can't wait until they officially move in and are there all the time!!
-after dropping off a bottle of champagne at the Hayes, we took the dogs on a LONG walk to Uncle John and Aunt Sue's to see their new puppy Mac again. We were worried about him meeting Sonny since Sonny is a tad hyper, so we just introduced him to Ruffles, who he loved! They played and chased each other and Mac even bit her tail! Ruff was a good sport, and actually I have never seen her play with another dog like that.
-the craziest thing about the night was while we were waiting for Aunt Sue to come to the door, we saw a snake just chilling on the back of one of the chairs on her porch! Ahhh! Not cool! It was a nonpoisonous snake but still, why can't they do their snaking behind closed doors? Uncle John hit is with a chair cushion to try to make it leave but it just rared back at him, so then he swept it off the porch with a broom, only to find it back later that night!!

-went to Birmingham with Justin and Farrah for the Bama Rising concert at the BJCC. This concert was put together to raise money for the tornado victims around the state and had a great line up, including Alabama, Brad Paisley, Sheryl Crow, Jake Owens, Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker, Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Kellie Pickler, Bo Bice, Taylor Hicks, Dierks Bently, Little Big Town, the Commodores, Montgomery Gentry, David Nail, Rodney Atkins, and I think maybe I got them all! After indulging in Taco Tuesday at Jim n Nick's BBQ we got to the BJCC right in time for showtime at 7:30, and we didn't leave til 1am!! OMG we had no idea that it would last that long, although I guess we should have since there were so many acts. It was fun, despite the exhaustion the next day!
I think my favorite parts were seeing Alabama sing Dixieland Delight and Sheryl Crow singing If it Makes you Happy!

-Supper Club at the Hallers! June was so crazy for all of us we had to have our monthly dinner during the week, which was fine by us! Farrah had to miss because she had an emergency root canal that day, but the rest of us had a great time! We loved the Haller's house and we were excited to meet their yellow lab, Sadie. We have plans to bring Sonny down to meet her--I know they will be big buddies! I made a nutella pie--delicious!!! See recipe below!

-Young Marrieds! I have been so pleased with the response that we have been getting to our Young Marrieds group at church. Last night we all got together at Villa Fiesta for drinks and dinner and had a blast! I am looking forward to our next event, a Braves game in July!!

Whew--reading that all over again makes me tired, but no rest for the weary! We have a fun weekend ahead! Hope you do too!

Nutella Pie
1/3 cup Nutella
1 8oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar (divided)
1/2 cup hazelnuts (which they do not sell in Gadsden) (divided)
1 egg
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pre-made Oreo pie crust (although I think I would have liked it better if it was a plain crust)
3 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Beat Nutella, cream cheese, and 1/4 cup sugar on medium for 3 min. Then add egg and 1/4 cup hazelnuts and beat until well mixed. Pour mixture into pie crust and bake at 325 for 30 minutes or until center is just set. In the mean time, beat together cream, vanilla, and 1/4 cup sugar until the mixture begins to form peaks. Spread over the pie once it is COMPLETELY cooled (so right before you serve it) and sprinkle the remaining hazelnuts and chocolate chips on top to decorate.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Final Summit Review

A couple of months ago I got an email from my friend Rachel telling me about a great site called Booksneeze that gives you free books to review and comment on. Well, of course that sounded right up my alley so I immediately joined and selected The Final Summit by Andy Andrews. See my review below! I can't wait to get my next book!

This was my third Andy Andrews book to read so I knew I was in for a great lesson. I didn’t realize, however, that it was a kind of sequel to The Traveler’s Gift. Our friend from that book, David Ponder is back, a few years later, after the loss and regaining of all of his money and also following the death of his wife. He has been selected, as the only “normal” traveler, to lead a summit comprised of each and every traveler to determine what humanity needs to do to get itself on track. If they don’t come up with an answer, it is the end of the world as we know it. Talk about pressure!! I honestly could not put this book down! The book was not only entertaining but through the discussions among the characters, several all important life lessons were conveyed. Andy Andrews has a knack for weaving these lessons into a story without seeming too “preachy” or “self help-y”. I also really loved the travelers that were present in the book, especially the ones that we hadn’t met in The Traveler’s Gift. Of course, I was super excited to see that Bear Bryant had made the cut as a Traveler! Over all, this is a very quick and easy read that will keep you turning the pages long into the night. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. We all can use a little moral straightening out every now and then, and Andy Andrews has found the perfect balance between story telling and lecturing to do so.

Monday, June 13, 2011

2nd Anniversary

My, time flies when you are having fun! Before we knew it, we have been married for 2 years! I know, in the grand scheme that isn't a lot, but it doesn't seem like 2 whole years! Where does the time go??? To celebrate, I left as soon as I got out of court on Thursday afternoon and picked Forrest up in Birmingham and we headed down to my grandparents' condo in Orange Beach. Forrest has been looking forward to the beach for weeks. I kept having to give him the countdown of how many more weeks we had and what things we were doing before we got to leave. To us, the beach is total relaxation and that is exactly what we did! On Friday, we slept late, watched the Price in Right in bed (the lady won BOTH showcases--how rare!) and ate frozen pizza before we headed out to the beach. The weather was PERFECTION! There was a cool breeze and the water still was a little cool so we never got too hot. We enjoyed a full day of laying on the beach, reading, listening to music, and just doing NOTHING!

Enjoying the weather and my sweet husband!
We ate another pizza (very healthy day for us) for dinner and rented Blue Valentine, which was pretty sad so I don't recommend it, even though I love Ryan Gosling! On Saturday, it was more of the same! I finished the end of one book, another whole book, and then half of a 3rd in my 2 days on the beach. Again, we just laid around enjoying the weather and being with each other. When the run finally sank behind the condo, leaving us in total shade, we took it as a sign that we needed to head back in. For our anniversary dinner, we went to our favorite Italian seafood restaurant, Cafe Grazie. Delicious!! We went all out for our celebration: shrimp and artichoke soup, salads with their amazing balsamic dressing (which we got a huge go-cup full of), and of course, their awesome Italian bread with fresh roasted garlic, oil, and cheese! For my meal, I had lobster ravioli, which was not only one of the best things I have ever eaten there, but it also LOOKED pretty cool too!

Well, it is 1/2 eaten, but isn't the striped ravioli cook?
We even sprung for dessert (we are currently not eating sweets except on special occasions--wish us luck): the chocolate lover's dream: white chocolate chip cookie topped with enormous chocolate fudge brownie with whip cream and ice cream! Ahhh-heaven!

We were sad to pack up and leave yesterday, on our real anniversary, but alas, work calls! We did have a chance to get unpacked and to put the house back in order (we have been out of town the past 4 weekend and trust me, the house shows it) and get some errands run before going to have dinner with my parents. On the way home, we got a text from my cousin Sara saying they got a new puppy!! (Sadly, they had to put their beloved Golden Retriever, Chip, to sleep last week because he had cancer and it had spread to his lungs. We will always miss Chip, as he is the reason we got Sonny!) We immediately had to rush over to see the newest addition to the McCord family. Mac is the most precious cuddly little thing! He is 8 weeks old and is a very light golden retriever. He was pretty unsure of his surroundings at first but Forrest got him up and sniffing about. I can't wait to see him playing at the lake with Sonny this summer!

Isn't he so adorable!?
We also had the excitement of finding a snake on their porch!! Ahhh! You know I don't do snakes! Forrest spotted it lounging on the back of one of Aunt Sue's outside chairs. Finally, Uncle John beat it with a cushion and swept it off the porch (it was a good snake so he didn't want to kill it but no one wanted it hanging around the porch), but I hear it came back during the night! Gross!!!
While we may not have had the most flamboyant and extravagant anniversary, it was exactly what we wanted: time together, just us!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Love is in the Air

Again, we readied ourselves this weekend for Forrest to be a groomsmen in another Lambda Chi wedding--this time, it was Frankie who was getting married. However, instead of just being down the road, Frankie and Becka got married in Pennsylvania! I was excited to get to travel to another state, even if it was just for a quick weekend. We were determined to make the most of our time there! On Friday we got up relatively early to get to ATL for the short 2 hr flight to PA (which was pretty bumpy---not cool). We arrived about 2:30 and as soon as we got to the hotel Frankie picked up Forrest and the other guys so they could go get their suits for the wedding. I took that opportunity to take a nap and snack on some of the yummy homemade cookies Becka's family put in our wedding weekend guest bags! The guys were running really late but since we were with the groom, we figured they couldn't start without us, which of course was true.
Becka managing her rehearsal

After the quick and laid back rehearsal we jumped in the car with Bradley and headed to the rehearsal dinner at La Locanda, an Italian restaurant. We were greeted with wine and passed bruchetta--3 different kinds, including smoked salmon, wild mushroom, and traditional bruschetta. YUM! We also had quiche and some other appetizers before the huge main course of pasta, veal, salmon, pork, veggies, and potatoes. I was stuffed by this point, but managed to find roof for a cannoli and some lemon sorbet! What a great meal!
Alabama friends with the bride and groom

The next day the boys got up to help set up the reception cite in the yard of the church where Becka's father is the minister. While they were busy hanging lanterns and setting tables, Claire and I were eating a late breakfast and laying in bed watching movies all day. Well, that is after Claire finally found my hotel. Poor thing was given the wrong directions (by 2 boys that will remain nameless) and was driving up and down the wrong road looking for me for 2 hours! The guys had a quick turn around before we all headed together to the wedding. It was really nice that they didn't have to be gone early for pics--they just took them all after the wedding! The wedding itself was lovely and can probably be described better through pictures:
The boys ready to leave the hotel

I had to include this here. Becka's neighborhood was beautiful and the homes were so charming! We LOVED this one!

Marking the entrance to the back yard

Ceremony site--lovely!

Me and the hubs

Gadsden guys and gals

The flowers were absolutely stunning! I loved the ones hanging on hooks down the aisle!

Here comes the bride! Becka was escorted down the aisle by her mom and dad!


Being married by her father, the minister! He did a great homily--very personal--with lots of references to Bama football and Disney princesses!

First married kiss

Mr. and Mrs. Frankie Wallace!!!!

After the wedding the boys headed out for pics with the bride and groom and Claire and I braved the streets of Philadelphia  (ok, Swarthmore PA, but who is being picky) to get ourselves to the reception. I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how well the guys did at setting up! The tables were set perfectly and the lanterns were hung just right!!! Great job guys!! We enjoyed appetizers and drinks, including a yummy "sangrito" before the couple arrived for their first dance. Again, pics will be more helpful here!!
Becka's mom made the cakes!

The cake topper, that looked just like them and even incorporated their cats that they brought home from Africa. (they were working in Africa with the Peace Corps when they met!)

A nod to Frankie's heritage

Claire and I playing around with the fun photo booth props they had for the guests! I can't wait to see some of those pics!

Me and the blushing bride

I scheduled our return flight for late afternoon so we had a little bit of time to hit the high points of Philadelphia. We started out at Mass at St. Augustine's, the oldest Catholic Church in Philly. It was built in the 1700's and then burned by the know-nothing party. It was restored and rededicated in like 1848. It is truly beautiful--it looks like something in Europe! We were even asked to take up the gifts, which was pretty cool!

After Mass we headed down to Independence Hall, where the signing of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed. On the way we saw Franklin Park
complete with kite and lightning bolt


and the Liberty Bell.

Clearly not the Liberty Bell, but I ran into this guy on the way!

Seeing Independence Hall was pretty surreal. It isn't very big or grand but just thinking about walking on the same floor as Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and George Washington kind of blows your mind! Now, it isn't near as old as anything you might see in Europe, but it was just as exciting because it is OUR history!
Independence Hall

Courtroom in Independence Hall. The little bars are where the defendant would "stand trial"

This is where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed! The chair in the back on the platform is original!

We also ran into Congress hall and even got to see originals of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of the Confederation, and the Constitution. The Constitution was especially cool because it was George Washington's personal copy and he scratched something out and made a correction!
When we left Independence Hall we went to meet Jay and Claire to go to lunch. They were sweet enough to come pick us up but when they pulled over, there were 3 of Jay's friends from Philly in the back seat so we did some quick rearranging (we were in a Jeep Cherokee so someone had to go in the back and I sat on Forrest's lap) before speeding off to lunch. While I was sitting on Forrest's lap he kept pinching me and laughing. I had no idea what was going on and I was getting so frustrated. He said "oh, you are so perceptive" and I started to look around the car. I noticed Claire's arm casually resting on the console and that she had on a pretty diamond ring. "Hmm, that is pretty" I thought. "I wonder why she didn't wear that last night to the wedding". Then it hit me--it was on her left hand. "CLAIRE!!!!!! WHAT IS THAT!!???" Jay had proposed at Love park before picking us up! How exciting!!! I am totally thrilled for them because they are 2 of our best friends and we love hanging out with them! Actually, I take credit for setting them up last year! Hooray for Jay and Claire! Another Lambda Chi wedding!!! (and AOII too!). Apparently while they were walking in the park a man (later identified as one of Jay's Philly friends, which was why they were in the car when we got there) came up to Jay and told him he dropped something--the ring box. He handed it over and Jay popped the question! Claire of course said yes, after asking if her daddy knew!! We all went to celebrate with a cheese steak at Pat's, which was kind of scary because you had to order the proper way. I had mine "provolone wit-out" meaning provolone cheese, no onions. If you mess up they send you to the back of the line. SCARY!! It was also fun to be with Claire when she called her mom and dad to tell them she was engaged. What a special day!!

Enjoying our cheese steaks

Me and the newest bride to be!
After lunch, we went to Love park to see the scene of the proposal.

The scene of the proposal
It was neat to drive through downtown Philadelphia too. What cool buildings! We also went to see the steps that Rocky climbed at the art museum. It was blocked off because of a bike race (which thrilled Forrest) but we made it on foot. We did in fact climb the steps but there was no running involved. Just lots of pictures!!!

With Rocky

At the top of the stairs. We made it!!! :)
After that, it was time for the Bailey's to return home. What a great weekend, full of love!!
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