Wisconsin Wedding Whirlwind

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It has been a whirlwind around here! Andrew and I have been to 3 weddings in Wisconsin over the last 3 weekends….and will cap it off next weekend with our own! Sitting in yesterday’s ceremony, it really hit us: we will be the ones standing up there in exactly 7 days!! It was a very emotional and surreal moment.

Our Wisconsin wedding series kicked off for us September 6th in Milwaukee when one of my best friends and roommates from college, Rachael, married a tennis friend of mine, Ryan. I’ve never felt so much love in the air or seen such a stunning bride!Rachael Buck Wedding

Their photographer, Carl from Front Room, will be photographing our wedding as well. I love his great action shots!Rachael - Champagne Picture

Last weekend, we had a wedding in Lake Geneva for our friends from California, Betsy and Greg. Most of my bridesmaids were in town for the event as well, so we all went to work on crafts for my wedding. Even my brother jumped in to help decorate the votive candles. He came up with the best technique – finger painting the mod podge on!

Mike and votives 2

My parents’ house is basically dusted in gold at this point, you can tell there is a party brewing!Votive Candles

My mom got the “dancing shoes” ready, so there are no excuses for leaving the dance floor early!Wedding flip flops

Then we all headed to Lake Geneva for the wedding!betsy wedding group

The ceremony was outside looking over a lake – it was so beautiful!! Afterwards, Betsy and Greg drove off in a golf cart. I’ve never seen Betsy look so happy!!

Betsy's wedding golf kart 1

Yesterday, we got to watch my childhood friend, Jenny, marry the man of her dreams, Brock. It was such a lovely ceremony with a beautiful a capella performance.

Jenny's wedding church

Andrew and I can hardly wait for all of our best friends and family to join us in Milwaukee in a few short days! September 27th, here we come!Jenny's wedding - Andrew and I 3

Wedding update – 1 month away!!

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It’s hard to believe that as of today, our wedding is officially 1 month away! In 31 days, we will be a Mr. and Mrs. I don’t know if I’m prepared for that – I still feel too young to be a Mrs!! I also don’t want all the wedding celebration and champagne toasts to end :) It’s been an exciting 9 months to get to this point.

We have had so much fun getting everyone’s RSVP cards back! I didn’t realize how creative people would be – I’m fully prepared to step up my game with decorating the future RSVP cards I send in. My friend Jack’s mom even put a high school picture of Jack and I taped to the back! It was adorable. We asked people on the response card to answer “I promise to dance if you play:” and I think my favorite response so far is “Nice try!” I guess they won’t be dancing, no matter what song we play!Wedding RSVP card

Since most of my bridesmaids live in LA, I picked Santa Barbara for my bachelorette party. We had an absolute blast! My sister found this amazing house on VRBO for all 9 of us to stay in for the weekend. It was a dream to hang out in this treehouse bungalow with some of my best friends in the world. The backyard was all terraces, leading from an outdoor kitchen, to ping pong table, to bocce ball court, to fire pit…it was so cool!Santa Barbara

It was so special for me to have my mom there, as well as two of her best friends, who have known me since I was born. My bridesmaids and I loved having them with us! They actually surprised us all with the most creative lingerie gift!Santa Barbara

We could’ve easily spent the whole weekend hanging out at this house…but there were vineyards to visit! My bridesmaid Kristen made us the coolest tank tops. All the girls’ tanks said “That’s What She Said!” and my tank said “Yes!” How cute are these??Bachelorette Tank Tops

My bridesmaid Ashley made us a “Bachelorette Scavenger Hunt” to check off while we were touring the vineyards. It was hysterical! My favorite was “Get a stranger to get down on one knee and propose to Sara” – great work on this one, Abi! This guy had us all dying because out of nowhere he came up behind me and said “Sara, [long pause] this has been a long time coming…”Bachelorette Scaverger Hunt

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect weekend spent with all of these fun ladies laughing and tasting lots of wine :)
Bachelorette Party at the Winery

Last weekend, I was home in Milwaukee for a bridal shower that was absolutely magical! Everything was touched with sparkly gold, from the flecks of gold sprinkled in our champagne to the golden beach balls floating in the pool behind me, my sister and my mom:Bridal Shower

The host, Susan, who was part of the bachelorette party, had secretly ordered wine from all of the vineyards we visited to do a blind taste test at the shower! And labeled them gold…Wedding Shower - Wine Tasting

The food was over the top delicious – and dairy/gluten free for me! And the table was beautiful!Wedding Shower - Dinner

We were all laughing hysterically at this shower game, which asked the ladies to submit a question to me about Andrew. Then, they could share a “marital bliss” tip. My sister quizzed me in front of everyone after dinner and then shared the tip. I’m still cracking up over this advice: “60 second kiss at the door after work every day”. Now that’s a LONG kiss!!Wedding Shower Game

My favorite part of all of this wedding planning and celebrating so far has been all of the time I’ve gotten to spend with those that I love. I really mean it! I can’t believe that in 5 weekends, all of the people that Andrew and I love will be in one place! I get teary just thinking about it! It makes us want to jump with excitement!Jumping Wedding Picture

My Blog Turns 2!

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Sara’s Favorite Things is 2 years old today!! It’s hard to believe I started sharing my favorite things in this space 2 years ago. This past year has certainly been an exciting one! I moved from Manhattan Beach to Baltimore last September, Andrew and I got engaged in December, we traveled to Aspen in February, we moved to New Orleans in March, we attended a California wedding in April, I spent 2 weeks on the lake in Northern Wisconsin in July, and now we are planning our own wedding for September 27th. It’s been an action packed year, to say the least. Along the way, I’ve still gotten to share some of my favorite things with you. Here are a few of the top posts in case you missed them:

Post with the most views: It’s pretty much a two-way tie between my recipe for Foil-Baked Tilapia and The Fishbowl Game. The tilapia recipe is an amazingly quick and healthy weeknight meal. The fishbowl game is an absolute blast – you have to try it out!Fishbowl Game

Post with the most comments: After living in Manhattan Beach for 2 years with some of my best friends, it was extremely hard and sad to say goodbye. I think it will always feel like a second home to me.Manhattan Beach

Post with most views in one day: My 21 Minute Killer Interval Workout will kick your butt! It’s a great workout for when you are short on time or don’t have access to a gym. I do this a lot when I’m on the road for work or visiting my family – makes sense that the most views in 1 day fell right around Thanksgiving!21 Minute Killer Interval Workout

My favorite post: These Almond Butter Oatmeal Balls are one of my favorite treats! I could snack on these every single day, guilt-free.Almond Butter Oatmeal Balls

1 year ago today, I wrote about my first year of blogging. 2 years ago today, I sent out my first official blog post on Sara’s Favorite Things and shared this quote: “An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break. May you be open to each thread that comes into your life – the golden ones and the coarse ones – and may you weave them into a brilliant and beautiful life.” Thank you so much for connecting with me! I absolutely love writing this blog as a means to connect with all of you! I get over the moon excited to hear back from people who have tried something out from My Favorite Things :)

 

“Up North”, Wisconsin

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I spent two weeks of July hiding out “Up North” at the lake with my family, absolutely relishing in the peacefulness of the north woods! It’s hard to beat a summer day spent on the lake, swimming, water-skiing, and paddle boarding, followed by an evening of cocktail cruises, grilling, and camp fires. If not for the elephant-sized mosquitoes, I just might call this my favorite place on Earth! Every summer, for as long as I can remember, my family travels up to the top of Wisconsin to surround ourselves with pine trees, lakes, wild life, and the only kind of quiet you can find in nature.

For those of us from Milwaukee, it’s a bit of a hike to get up there, about 5 hours to get close to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where our cabin is. We had a beautiful sunset to watch for a good chunk of the drive this time…"Up North", Wisconsin

When you get “Up North”, every road you travel down is lined with vibrantly green trees."Up North", Wisconsin

One first look out the cabin over our little bay and the lake beyond, and we’ve forgotten the 5 hours we just spent in the car to get there."Up North", Wisconsin

This is my favorite place to be on the 4th of July, watching the fireworks on the lake and at the local airport. I’ve never seen such a big firework show – you can’t believe how many people “come out of the woods” to take it all in."Up North", Wisconsin

This year, my mom was very popular on the air strip with these bio-degradable Sky Lanterns she brought along. When, you light the base, they slowly rise up into the sky and drift away as far as the eye can see. We were as excited as little kids lighting these up!"Up North", Wisconsin

My mom’s lifelong dream came true that night on our way home from the fireworks. Driving down the road about 50 yards from our cabin, we came across a black bear! It would be an understatement to say my mom was excited. She was crying. If I could reenact the moment for you, I would. The bear was so dark, that it felt like we were looking into a black-hole, only recognizing what was in front of us, by the outline of her body and the big paws padding across the dirt road. Needless to say, I started carrying my cell phone on my morning bike rides with mom after that!"Up North", Wisconsin

There’s nothing quite like jumping in crystal clear lake water, it’s refreshing in no other way I can describe. Even though I know that amazing feeling of fresh lake water running through my hair, I always act a bit traumatized taking that first jump!"Up North", Wisconsin

This summer, I mastered going in and out of the wake while slaloming, which was very exciting! Although truly, my brother Mike is the master, jumping the wake on 1 ski! He makes it looks so easy."Up North", Wisconsin

When you are up there, you see more wildlife than people. We have a family of bald eagles nesting and keeping watch on the island in front of our cabin, families of deer swimming back and forth from the mainland, and a pair of loons singing in our bay."Up North", WisconsinMy favorite time to be on the water is when the surface is glass, mirroring the sky and treeline."Up North", Wisconsin

Especially when you’re out on the boat with a fresh margarita in hand ;)"Up North", Wisconsin

Or when the sunset paints the sky pink and purple"Up North", Wisconsin

Contrary to popular belief, there is more to Wisconsin than cheese heads and beer…it’s a beautiful place to be!

Wedding Update – 2 Months Away!

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Andrew and I got engaged December 6th, so taking the advice of some already married friends, we kicked back and enjoyed the holidays completely, no wedding planning what so ever. Then February rolled around, and we realized with angst – places are booking up! We feverishly got to work on all of the big items, researching all of our options. Thank god for my mom, who drove all over Milwaukee for us to check places out, while we sat in Baltimore waiting for picture updates!Bling Party - Engagement Party

As much as possible, I have wanted to incorporate sparkly gold into the day because it screams celebration! I found these fun personalized hangers on Etsy to ask my best friends to by my bridesmaids, along with a bottle of champagne of course! It was a really sweet moment, asking them to be a part of our day.Bridesmaids Hangers

Searching for someone to capture the pictures and videos of our wedding has easily taken up the most amount of planning time. We are spending all of this time planning our wedding and I want to be able to remember as much of it as possible and relive the day again! So it’s a big decision. And a BIG expense. No one had warned us. I’m warning you, you could get all the bells and whistles of a photography package. Or you could buy a small car. That’s why there is so much research to do! I’m absolutely thrilled because we found an amazing photographer within our “new budget”: Carl at Front Room Photography. While searching through his photos, I came across this one and I was sold – this is all of the fun and excitement we want in our wedding day:Carl Wedding Pic

I have probably watched over 60 different wedding videos to try to understand which videographer fits us. Most nights when Andrew was working 3rd shift while we lived in Baltimore, I would sit down by myself to research videographers, absolutely balling as I watched complete strangers’ exchange vows. I’m not kidding. I have no idea who these couples are, yet I couldn’t stop the tears! It’s pretty crazy. I know I’m not completely alone here, talking to other brides-to-be…We picked Simply Love and couldn’t be happier.

Since you already know I’m into this whole blogging thing, I was definitely excited to create our wedding website. I researched all of the different website options and built a few different websites to try them out before settling with theknot.com. Future brides: it was definitely the easiest to navigate! I loved getting to update the site with information about Andrew and I and also to share some information about “the best city ever”, as I like to claim, since a lot of our party will be traveling from Ohio or California.Wedding Website

We did something a little unconventional with our save the dates and decided to send them online using Paperless Post. This turned out to be an awesome choice! It was so easy to put the invite together, using a picture I took of Baltimore, and almost free to send out. The best part about it was getting responses back immediately from people we invited – it was so fun to hear back from everyone via email sharing their excitement! You can do a quick email upload of all of the email addresses and names and you are good to go. Another benefit was that we could include a link for people to go right to our wedding website with all of the details.Save the Date - Paperless Post

We are finally entering the arena of decisions that Andrew can get excited about – like cake tastings!photo 3 (1)

But now even the frosting-lover himself, has admitted to being cupcaked-out. We ultimately settled on the salted caramel cupcake below from Delicately Delicious.photo 1 (3)

Next week, the wedding invitations are going out – it’s getting more and more official each day!photo 3 (2)

And now I’m in to Santa Barbara with my sister, mom, and best friends to celebrate my last few days as a bachelorette!! We’ll be wine tasting and trying not to worry about the trouble Andrew and his groomsmen could be getting into for his bachelor party in New Orleans this weekend…Hopefully they just enjoy some of the street music :)photo (27)

 

Buffalo Turkey Lettuce Wraps

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Last Tuesday started off as a normal healthy day, eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch, but then work got stressful that afternoon and somehow my favorite chocolate covered almonds wound up on my desk. I got caught in one of those moments of weakness where you suddenly realize, oh god, how many did I just eat?? And then the bridal shop called to say my wedding dress was in. Are you kidding me?? The irony! (It wasn’t due until August, I thought I had more time!) I could still taste the chocolate in my mouth. While envisioning squeezing into that white gown! Time to get serious :)Buffalo Turkey Lettuce WrapsThis is the perfect meal for “I need a healthy dinner…but I want it to be satisfying too!” I make these lettuce wraps all the time because they are very lean, but seriously hit the spot. You can’t beat how quick it is to make them either. This is my go-to recipe when I’m at the grocery store without a meal plan because the ingredient list is so easy to remember.Buffalo Turkey Lettuce WrapsI have become a MAJOR fan of buffalo sauce! When something on the menu says buffalo, my eye instantly goes there. The problem is, most of the time it’s coating something unhealthy, like breaded and fried wings. Plus, restaurants generally combine their buffalo sauce with a ton of butter, which is fattening and not an option with my lactose intolerance. This recipe calls for the just the sauce by itself, so you get that great flavor without the heavy calories.Buffalo Turkey Lettuce WrapsMy favorite recipes are ones that you can cook once and eat for several meals. These lettuce wraps definitely fall into that category. However, when I make these for Andrew and myself for dinner, there are generally no leftovers! You’ll certainly feel full, but guilt-free since they are so healthy!

Buffalo Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Serves: 2-4 (2 if you are hungry and serve these alone; 4 if you make them with a side)

  • ½-¾ cup diced onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
  • 1 package ground turkey
  • ½ cup Buffalo Sauce (I use Frank’s)
  • 1 head butter lettuce or iceburg lettuce
  • Celery
  • Shredded or chopped carrots
  • Optional: blue cheese or goat cheese crumbles

First, rinse the lettuce, so that the cups will be dry by the time everything is done cooking.

Add the onion to a pan over medium heat and cook until soft, about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add the garlic for about a minute, until fragrant, stirring to prevent the garlic from burning.

Add the ground turkey to the pan with the onion and garlic and stir it around every few minutes to make sure the meat cooks evenly and all the way through. Add some salt and pepper at this point if you like. If there is liquid in the bottom of the pan when the meat is done, you may want to drain that out. Then, reduce the heat to low and add the buffalo sauce. Stir the mixture until it’s all coated with sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes.

Delicately pull apart the butter lettuce or head of iceburg lettuce so that you have cups. Put a couple cups on each plate, fill with a few scoops of the ground turkey and sprinkle with shredded carrots, chopped celery, and maybe even some cheese crumbles. Make sure to serve with napkins!

 

**If you’re loving the idea of lettuce wraps for a light summer meal, another one of my other favorite recipes is these Chicken Nectarine Lettuce Cups.

Kelsey & Drew – A California Wedding

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A few weekends ago, I was in LA to celebrate my friends, Kelsey and Drew, getting married. I was so excited to be at this wedding for such a sweet and fun-loving couple! Their wedding day was absolutely dreamy, so I wanted to share a few pictures I took!picstitch-1One of my favorite personal touches they added to their day was the music they choose for the ceremony, which added their own personality to the event. As the groomsmen walked in, the Star Wars theme song started and got the whole crowd laughing. It was the perfect entrance! Then, the bridesmaids walked down the aisle to Griffin House “Better Than Love”. It is such a lovely, sweet song and has perfect lyrics for a wedding! I’ve been listening to it all the time now.

During the ceremony, a friend of theirs sang this song, “Makin’ Plans”, which was so heartfelt and beautiful and again, the lyrics are perfect for starting their first day of marriage together.

After exchanging vows, Kelsey and Drew danced back down the aisle to Pharrell’s song, “Happy” – such a joyful moment and the perfect way to get the party started! Then, we all stepped out into a beautiful garden terrace overlooking fields and mountains for cocktails. Andrew whispered to me, “Are you sure you want to get married in Milwaukee??”And of course I said I do, but WOW, we felt like we were in a movie! It was stunning.photo (14)

After cocktails, these beautiful big barn doors opened up and we all filtered down into the dinner and dancing area under a ceiling of string lights. Mr. and Mrs. were announced and immediately shared their first dance together as a couple. It was truly a breathtaking moment. How amazing is her dress??photo (11)

After some impressive dance moves, they ended with a picture-perfect grand-finale dip :) Dip

Andrew and I were thrilled to be apart of such a beautiful wedding – thanks Kelsey and Drew!

photo (13)