Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ashleigh and Michael's Summer Wedding in Mississippi

Photo credit: Sarah Hollinger

Photo Credit: Facebook...taken by ???


photo credit: Sarah Hollinger
photo credit: Sarah Hollinger
photo credit: Sarah Hollinger
photo credit: Sarah Hollinger
photo credit: Sarah Hollinger

photo credit: Sarah Hollinger

When Ashleigh and Michael decided that their summer wedding was to be in Mississippi this year, I was silly with excitement. That meant a nice, long trip back home seeing as many friends and family as possible prior to wedding events and then on to help with pre-wedding festivities. When July arrived, I realized it had been approximately a year and 2 months since I had been back to Mississippi for an extended period of time. I was in need of this...desperately.

The whole trip was blissful. Pre-wedding, wedding and after-wedding...

The first time I met Michael, I got this huge grin on my face and shook my head as I listened to him speak and watched him with Ashleigh. He is Clay Nolen made over. Yup. He is going to fit in really well in this family. Parker told Michael that he was not allowed to go on this ski trip with us unless there was a ring on Aunt Ashee's finger. ha ha! So what happened a few weeks prior to the ski trip? Michael proposed. Ashleigh said yes. And Parker got to play with Mr. Michael in Crested Butte, Colorado. :) Everyone was happy. After contemplating for a number of weeks on whether or not the wedding would be held in Texas or Mississippi, the decision was made. The wedding was to be the first of many held in the new First Baptist Church sanctuary in Grenada, Mississippi. The night before the wedding everyone happily toasted many blessings and well wishes the soon-to-married couple at the Grenada Country Club. And after the blissful couple said their "I Do's," they danced and celebrated at Golladay Hall, the grand antebellum home in downtown Grenada, owned now by her aunt and uncle.

Each detail of this wedding and its festivities was lovingly thought out and made to happen. Special things such as the Magnolia leaves that were handpicked by the bride and her family one early afternoon out on ancestrial land in Decatur, Mississippi down to the hand-strewn lit tissue pom poms that adorned the reception tent. LOVE the creativity and resourcefulness of this family!!! It was so neat seeing each of the little details come to life!

Clay and I were thankful and so happy to be a part of this grand family celebration. And Michael...welcome to the family!!!! :) Congratulations Ashleigh and Michael!!! We love you!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Bridesmaid Luncheon for Ashleigh

On the Thursday before the wedding, Rassie hosted a Bridesmaid Luncheon for Ashleigh. We had sooo much fun getting ready for this event! The table linens were pressed, the fine china laid out and the silver polished...time for the girls to arrive!!

Bridal Luncheon Menu
Chicken Salad
Pasta Salad
Crunchy Romaine Toss
Tomato Cups
Pimento Cheese Toast Points
Orange tea, sweet tea, unsweet tea, water
Dessert: Rainbow sherbet, pirouette wafers

Chicken Salad
Click here for Mrs. Terry's Classic Homemade Chicken Salad

Pasta Salad
1 pkg colored pasta noodles
1 head broccoli, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
1 can sliced black olives
Italian dressing

Boil noodles, drain and add other ingrdients. Toss after adding Italian dressing.

Crunchy Romaine Toss
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 pkg Ramen noodles uncooked, broken up (discard flavor packet)
4 Tbs unsalted butter
mandarin oranges
1 bunch broccoli, chopped
1 head romaine lettuce (I used a bag)
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup sweet and sour dressing

Brown walnuts and noodles in unsalted butter; cool on paper towels. Combine noodles and walnuts with broccoli, romaine, mandarin oranges, and onions. Pour sweet and sour dressing over and toss to coat well. The dressing makes up a lot but you don't need it all.

Sweet and Sour Dressing (for Crunchy Romaine Toss)
1 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup wine vinegar
3 tsp soy sauce

Mix and shake well. Toss over salad just before serving.

Tomato Cups
1 can buttery, flaky Grand biscuits
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded cheese, Cheddar and mozarella mixed
1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 cup bacon bits
Separate biscuits into 3 layers. Spray mini-muffin tins with cooking spray. Press one separated biscuit layer in each muffin tin. Mix filling ingredients together and place a spoonful into each muffin cup. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 min or until brown. (I mixed the filling ingredients the night before and refrigerated.)
Pimento Cheese
1 medium block sharp cheddar cheese
1 medium jar pimento
1 or 2 tsp onion powder

Grate cheese. Mix cheese, pimento, onion powder and mayonnaise in bowl. I do not measure mayo-just use enough to mix well --probably 4 Tbs heaped!

To make toast points, cut crust off bread. Then cut each slice in 4 triangle pieces. Put a dot of margarine on each and place on cookie sheet. Place in 400 degree oven until toasty. Spread pimento cheese on each toastpoint and place in warm oven to melt.

Orange Tea
4 cups boiling water
8 small tea bags
2 cups sugar
1 (6oz) can frozen orange juice, thawed
1 (6oz) can frozen lemonade, thawed

Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add tea bags; steep for 20 minutes (covered). Remove tea bags. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Pour into gallon jug; add orange juice and lemonade. Add water to almost fill jug.
Put a sprig of fresh mint in each glass when serving. (Instead, I put a small slice of orange.)
Thank you, Rassie, for hosting! Every detail from the fine china to the flowers was perfect. You have such a gift! Thank you for sharing your talents!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012 our trip to Mississippi began

Fast forward from Monday's post about a month and a half...On Friday, the 5th of July, the two boys and I flew down to Mississippi. To say that I was looking forward to this visit would be the understatement of the year. It had been waaaayyy too long since our last stay (well, at least one that was over 24 or 48 hrs). At 4:00am (morning of the 5th) I finally crawled into bed having each of our 5 bags perfectly packed and ready to go for our almost two week stay. I spent more time packing and organizing our luggage this time for several reasons: 1. to make sure I did not leave anything important for the wedding or wedding events  2. to make sure we had enough clothes for all of the days and events of the trip and 3. to be sure I was packing so that I would have one empty check bag on the way home to be able to load up with Mississippi "stuff" :)

That Friday we found a terrific spot by our gate for observing the airport activity. This part of the travel always entertains my boys...watching the guys load the food and the bags onto the airplane, seeing the Captain walk around his plane to make sure everything is safe and good to go, turning their little heads to follow the direction of the moving cargo carts...this stuff is all part of the traveling adventure for my two. And, if you ask me, it is a great learning opportunity.

Both boys did amazing before and during the flight. They made it quite easy on their mama. Neither slept, but they kept themselves busy with the contents of their travel bag and snacks!
Have I mentioned that snacks (healthy ones that is!) are fabulous things to have on hand for children during flight?

One of our favorite books: Planes by Byron Barton. This one usually finds its way into our travel bag.

And here we goooooooo.....

Rassie was waiting excitedly for us in Memphis when we landed. Yea!!! Hello SOUTH! We have arrived!

Shortly before leaving for Mississippi, I had scheduled a couple of out of town trips to see family and friends before the wedding festivities started. The day after arriving, we hopped in mom's car and the boys and I drove over to Oxford to visit with my grandparents. On that Friday, we also got in a short visit with Terra and her precious boys, Jack and Witt. (Now I am wishing I had taken pictures of our quick playdate but truly it was quick...too quick for a good visit.) Thank you for letting us come over for a bit Terra. Next time, our playdate won't be so close to lunch and naptime...and it will have to last longer!!

And several miles down the road from Terra's and a few minutes later...Parker enjoyed exploring my old climbing tree in Mama Sam and Shorty's front yard. I used to climb up to the branch just above Parker's head and read for an hour or two at a time. Happily reading Caddie Woodlawn or another one of my favorite reads in this lazy and shady tree was a beloved pastime of mine when visiting this Oxford home throughout my youth.

Though scorching hot, both boys wanted to take a walk with Shorty down to the garden and shed area. (Parker remembered, of course, where Shorty keeps the 4-wheelers and lawn mowers! ha! It was not long before both boys were pleading for Shorty to hoist them each up onto one of the large motorized toys.)

Let's just say that both boys came back from their little walk covered in sweat and dirt. Love it.

It was so great to actually sit down in their chairs, relax, visit and play. Mama Sam and Shorty are so great to go with the flow and keep up with the busyness of our boys. They love all the activity and my boys love the attention and the "treasures" of a new place. Thank you Mama Sam and Shorty for lunch and for our visit. We loved every minute of it!!!

We caught the first glimpse of the Nolen's that Friday too. Have I mentioned that one of Clay's granddads lives next door to my mom? That's another fun story in itself that goes back to mine and Clay's dating days. Seeing the family whenever they're in town is quite convenient and easy when you're right next door! We said our hello's and gave hugs to everyone before hitting the bed that night.

Saturday morning: Cooper climbing into Uncle Taylor's boots. Never a dull moment around this place!

Parker loved playing at Rassie's on Saturday morning. He was quite the serious little thing with his game and such. (It makes me so happy when his imagination is in full force!)

My brother and his wife drove into town from Alabama late Friday night to spend Saturday with us. I felt so blessed to be able to see them because Taylor, as of that week, had just been assigned another position for his job down in Florida and was relocating there immediately (so for several months now he will be commuting back and forth between Alabama and Florida) and Fair had just started her new job in Alabama after graduating pharmacy school in Mississippi. So, Taylor was driving in from one vehicle in one direction and Fair was driving in in another vehicle from another direction and then they were leaving on Sunday to return to two different states. (I am not making this up.)

Taylor and Fair, thank you soooooo much for coming to see us. We love y'all so much and are unbelievably proud of both of you. Fair, I am sorry that we missed your graduation this May. We would have given anything to have been able to be there to see you walk. YOU'RE DONE!!!! Whooohooo! And congratulations for passing all of the state're official!!! Now go do your pharmacy stuff and be proud! :)
(photo taken from Fair's facebook)

I made sure we took a quick family picture that Saturday since we weren't sure when we would all be together again. That's a great excuse isn't it?! ;)

Sunday morning we had to say a rushed goodbye to Taylor and Fair before heading to church. That afternoon after lunch, my girlfriend Ashley, and her precious little Sarah Starnes, came by for a visit. I had not met Sarah Starnes yet, so I was anxious to get my hands on her cute little self! Is she not adorable?! And let me tell you, she is the spitting image of her mama when she was a baby!

Thank you for coming over Ashley!!! I enjoyed getting to see you and precious Sarah Starnes!! You are doing an amazing job balancing your work and being a new mom!!! I missed getting to see and spend time with many of my "Grenada Girls" this trip, so I hope that the next trip down will allow for more visiting time with each of them!

Cooper got snuggly with Rassie during naptime Sunday afternoon...

Aunt Val decided to put Parker up to silly mischief late that evening.

While in Mississippi, prior to the wedding, my mom's sisters came into town for a visit. Aunt Cindy was there Saturday through Tuesday and Aunt Val was in town Monday through Thursday. I am so glad I got to see them and thrilled that they got to see the boys again. Having all three of the sisters together does not happen often since they are spread out around the South, so on Monday I immediately jumped on the opportunity to get them outside for an impromptu photo shoot. I don't know who had more being behind the camera laughing at their sillyness or them laughing at each other. They are a mess when you get them all together, let me tell ya. I love them so much!!!

Tuesday was our day in Jackson. We enjoyed a visit with Granddaddy and Marilyn. Thank you so much for the delicious lunch and visit, Granddaddy and Marilyn!! I also really appreciated y'all watching the boys and letting them play in your pool!! Those two and Clay were sweet to watch and play with the boys a little bit that afternoon while I went to see some girlfriends from college and highschool that I have not seen in a couple of years. But before I left....

...I had to snap a few photos.

Then, it was on to see my girlfriends...
One of my girlfriends, Maya, had twins this past year...she did amazing as she was put on strict bedrest for most of her pregnancy...her girls, Kaitlyn and Ava, were miracles and we were praying for them daily! Maya had to attend therapy for weeks after her delivery to regain her muscles to walk, lift...basically do anything. It was a joy to be able to see them briefly and get in a chat with their sweet mama!

I was happy when I contacted Meredith and Grace, and both girls were available for a late afternoon visit. Meredith's living room consisted of 5 wild kiddos, all under the age of five, for a good hour.  Parker (4 1/2), Silas and Avery (21 month old twins of Meredith's), Cooper (20 mos) and Eleanor (10 mos). I had not met sweet Eleanor yet, so it was great getting to see this little doll in person! I had only met Silas and Avery once, just shortly after their debut, so viewing the dynamic duo in action was another treat! They are one fun group, let me tell ya!

I love these two girls so much. From tots in Sunday School at church, to grown ups living in different states with kids of our own, we are lifelong friends. I wish I got to see both of them more, but life keeps us each quite busy. :) It is fun to watch Miss Tennessee be able to switch roles so quickly and become Mrs. Grace Sturdivant, mom-extraordinare. Meredith is such an inspiration to me as she has battled cancer with such spiritual strength and grace, works full time, takes care of two rambunctious twins, and continues to faithfully serve her Lord through music in church. ...beautiful girls, inside and out!!!

At the last minute we decided to go out to eat, so husbands and all met up at Newk's for dinner outside on the patio. It was great! The parents got to eat and kids got to run around in a fenced-in safe zone. ;)
I also got to see two other friends while in Jackson, Mrs. Karen and Ava. It had been a little over two years since seeing both of them. Since then, Ava has also had her first little boy, Brookie. I was lucky enough to see how busy he keeps his mama each day of the week...he is the spitting image of my little boys at that age! All of my visits were waaaay to short to count but I am thankful for the hugs and brief chat time that I got. I'll take it!! Precious of God's best gifts!

Wednesday, all of the girls in the family went to Starkville to get our nails done for the wedding. Odd n' end wedding jobs popped up and so forth. Thursday...let the wedding festivities begin! Random jobs throughout the day, followed by dinner at 333 with a large crew who had arrived in town for the wedding.

Hubby and Me!
...and one spray tan later (for those of you wondering why I look several shades darker! This was my first spray tan, and I have to say I was quite pleased with the results. I prayed I would not turn orange two days before the wedding. I used to be able to sport this kind of a tan almost year round when I lived in Mississippi, then I moved up North and alas, tan no more! ha ha! It's probably healthier for me anyway :))

And that is how our trip to Mississippi began!
I could not possibly feel more blessed than I do when surrounded by family and friends!