Category Archives: Life as I know it

09/07/16

Wedding Weekend pt 2 | Easiest Overnight French Toast Bake for a Bday Brunch

This past weekend, my cousin Dustin married his lovely bride Casey in their current hometown of Chattanooga, TN.

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Above are us “3 Cousins” at the rehearsal dinner after a fabulous Italian feast given by my Uncle Danny & Aunt Lana at Alleia, a wonderful Italian restaurant in downtown Chattanooga. I might have eaten my weight in Bacon wrapped dates and grilled Romaine Salad, but that is a different story for a different day.

We had beautiful weather and beautiful company as all our family was together to celebrate the occasion.

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Isn’t that just a dreamy photo?!?

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Dustin & Casey were married at Cloudland Station, in Chickamauga, GA, just outside of Chattanooga.

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The setting was just perfect complete with a big, beautiful barn, a knee-slapping bluegrass band, BBQ, and the best blackberry & peach cobblers for dessert.

Their cake was beautiful too, made by the bride’s cousin.

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It’s so special when you can have your whole family together to celebrate such a momentous occasion in your life, and I know Dustin felt very loved and cherished.

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And he is.

Wooohooo!

But, then on Sunday, we had another occasion to celebrate… my dad’s youngest brother, my Uncle Frank, or Uncle “Zook” as I nicknamed him years ago, turned 50!!! So, we had a family breakfast/brunch on Sunday morning before we all dispersed and headed home.

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We had a little theme going… “the many faces of Frank!”

It was hysterical, and I wish I had more pictures to share, but I am not really known as the photographer in the family.

My part, as you might have guessed it, was something sweet. A baked good, perhaps. And I decided on an Easy Overnight French Toast Casserole.

Who doesn’t love this stuff?!? 

Chewy, gooey, crunchy-topped, sugary, and oh so sweet & delicious! It was the perfect accompaniment to bacon, ham, fruit, and grits that morning to show Zook our love. All of his favorites on the table, and his favorites around the table too!

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So, here is how I made it… I actually prepped everything the day before, before we all left for the wedding, and then poured on all the goodness the night before, let it all soak up and get gooey overnight and then baked it off fresh Sunday morning.

I love make ahead items. So perfect!

We then served it alongside some thick pats of softened butter, Maple syrup, and blueberry syrup if you were feeling a little rebellious.

Sometimes, that’s a good thing. A very good thing.

Easiest Overnight French Toast Bake 

Original recipe from Damn Delicious food blog 
*Note: I made two 9×13 pans of this, since we had about 13-14 people, but this recipe is for one 9×13 recipe which would easily feed 7-8. 

Ingredients:

  • 3 small French Baguettes, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds and ends trimmed off
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Confectioner’s sugar and Maple Syrup for serving

Directions:

Lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Place bread slices evenly into the baking dish.

In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour mixture evenly over the bread slices. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or, for best results, overnight.

Kind of press the bread slices down just a bit so that they soak up even more of that goodness.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the bread mixture into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown on the top and a little bit crispy.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar and served alongside warmed Maple Syrup, if desired.

But, let’s just face it… who wouldn’t want the drizzle of syrup too?!? It can’t hurt. I can tell you that much.

Happiest of happy birthdays Uncle Zook! We love you!

And on his 50th, he kayaked 9.5 miles on the Tennessee River…

Celebrate life, even when you don’t have a special occasion.

Life, in and of itself, and the people we share it with, is a special occasion.

xoxo…

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08/30/16

My Roommates Wedding | Adventuring in Greenville, SC

This past weekend, my sweet Roomie Katie got married!

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Do I foresee a time where I no longer call her my roomie? Not really… we both agreed that technically, we were each others last roommates, so we get to keep that title. Indefinitely. In fact, we even have a hashtag. #alwaysroomies

Yep. I know what you are thinking…

We are super cute!

We kicked things off on Friday morning at our Bridal Luncheon at Mary’s at Falls Cottage, a historic building, now restaurant, in downtown Greenville, SC. Hometown of our sweet Katie.

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And the details were simply perfect!

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Just look at that lovely, personalized place setting.

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Our bride, her gorgeous mother Jean, and her grandmother Barbara. I love pictures like these… 3 generations of godly women! What a tremendous legacy Katie has stepped into.

We laughed, we talked, we shared stories, we ate a delicious brunch, we prayed over Katie and her love Bill, took pictures, and ultimately, had a wonderful time. It was the perfect catapult into a blessed weekend of celebration.

Which brings us next to the Rehearsal…

Here we all are at the rehearsal later that same evening.

A bride and all her maids. Beautiful women, all of which I have so enjoyed getting to know during this season.

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They were married at Alder’s Gate United Methodist Church and I so regret not getting a picture of the beautiful stained glass windows that lined this charming sanctuary.

{And, I am sure you have already noticed, and it’s worth mentioning so close to college football season kicking off… you notice Katie’s ribbon bouquet? There is a theme here! Her love of Clemson was very evident this entire weekend.} 

For the rehearsal dinner, the groom’s parents hosted us for a lovely down-home, Southern comfort meal in the Fellowship Hall of the church where we enjoyed a slideshow of Bill and Katie’s younger years and then pictures of the two of them together in this last 13 months since they reconnected. We had an “open-mic night”, so to speak, and we shared lots of laughs and stories of shared memories with our bride and groom. It was a sweet time of celebration and so evident that this night and this weekend was the culmination of so many people’s prayers.

And then, that brings us to the following day… the main event. The wedding.

Everything was lovely, including this bride of ours. Isn’t she stunning?

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I know Bill had to firmly plant his feet at the foot of that altar just to be sure he didn’t fall over in shock when the wedding march began and she made her way up the aisle towards him.

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For their reception, all the guests enjoyed the view from the top of Commerce Club downtown venue in Greenville, SC.

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Just perfect as the sun was setting! And the bride and groom went up on the rooftop for pictures about this time in the evening. I can’t wait to see those as I know they were perfect.

It was such a fun night capped off by sharing in the festivities with some of my favorite people.

wedding12wedding14 And then, just that quickly after several dozen dances including, but not limited to, “Celebrate Good Times Come On”, the Wobble, and the ever-classic Cupid Shuffle, they were off, whisked away into the night under the stars.

Or sparklers, in our case.

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Mr & Mrs William David Stanford!!!

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It was a fantastic weekend full of fantastic people & memories that will stay with me for quite a long while.

Much love and happiness to you and your love, sweet Katie. May the Lord always be at the center of your marriage and may you light up the lives of all those around you.

I love you.

xoxo…

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