July 30, 2016

Albums I'm Listening To This Summer

I don't know about you, but when summer comes and the sun is shining I like to pump up the tunes and have some upbeat music on my stereo! So while Emelia is sipping cocktails with her BFF Britney, she asked me to share the albums which I can't get enough of at the moment. 

Dangerous Woman - Ariana Grande
All I know about Ariana is that millions of teenage girls adore her, and that this album hasn't done as well as expected (top ten instead of straight in at number 1).  For some reason though I was drawn to buy this album and I am so glad that I did.  It features some TUNES! I had to travel to a work meeting at 6am one day and the only reason I got there as a moderately coherent human being was that this upbeat album was motivating me all the way on the train.

Honey and Little Red - Katy B
I have to include both of these albums because I am legit listening to them both and I can't. Get. Enough.  I just love Katy B.  The tone of her voice gives me shivers and there is so much emotion in her music, I've been known to cry at her songs and I never fail to sing along at the top of my voice.  All the feels.

Drive - Ameriie
Remember that summer when 'One Thing' was everywhere?  I forgot about Ameriie for years until I stumbled on her book channel on Youtube!  She reads some fab books and I love her videos btw.  I was excited when she announced her new EP and couldn't wait to check it out.  If you remember 'One Thing' and shook your booty to it then you will like these new songs, such an eclectic sound to listen to on repeat.

Aside from the great music she's listening to...let's get to know Llinos a little bit better...

I love food, there's no denying it. If you had to choose only one thing to eat, what would it be?
Oh gosh, just one thing!  That's so tough.  I have such a sweet tooth so I will have to choose something like dessert, life is unimaginable without it.  How about chocolate chip cookies?  I could have one big one for breakfast, smaller ones for lunch... am I thinking about this too much?!

What's your favorite place? 
I took a trip to such a cute village in the UK recently, Bourton-on-the-Water.  Google it and tell me you don't want to go there.  It's so pretty and cute, like a film set.

I love hearing about dreams, especially when they come true. What is your biggest blogging accomplishment?
Without my blog as a platform I don't know if I would have been able to launch my book, 'Cancer, Chemo and Curls'.  It's the story of my time as a cancer patient and it is very emotional and heartfelt, so it means a lot to me that it has now been published and is on Amazon!

Shoes. I love 'em...gotta have 'em...lots of them. What's your favorite pair?
I definitely agree on this.  I love stilettos but on a more practical level, a pretty pair of wedges is my pick.

The blogging community is so wonderful. Tell me a blogger you would like to meet or who has been your biggest blogging inspiration.
Really creative bloggers inspire me.  I harbour dreams of selling my art and designing stationery so I look up to bloggers like Jemma and Gwennan who make a living from their creativity.

Thank you Llinos for sharing more about yourself and your Summer music interests with us today. It's always a pleasure to have her here....and you can follow her on Bloglovin, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with all her great posts.

July 29, 2016

July Favorites

Another month almost! Slow down Summer!! While we're still in the heat of it I wanted to share my favorites from one of my favorite months. There have been SO many good reads around the Internet lately and I'm excited to share them all with you.

Favorite "Made Me Think " Post : I've admired Ashley from The Shine Project for a long time and her mission behind her company is empowering. I came to enjoy her story even more when she became a Mother. Recently she decided to be way more private about her family life, and I was over here just hoping everything was okay. Unfortunately, others took it differently and decided to hide behind their words on the Internet. I love how Ashley spoke up about how we can be a better example for those around us, including our children.

Favorite Post About Relationships: If you don't know Sarah, you should get to know her. She's the brain behind Holl & Lane Magazine and a big dreamer, which I obviously love. This list of her deal breakers when it comes to relationships made me think about my own, and I enjoy a post that really makes me think hard.

Favorite Purchase: These pretty little lights at Marshall's were only $8 and helped me create a little sanctuary in the corner of our bedroom. It's become my reading nook when I need some peace and is so cozy. I love how it turned out and only took me a few minutes to set them up how I wanted.
A photo posted by emelia💜 (@emeliaanne_) on

Favorite Travel Post: If you're reading this and you have a need to check out Ashley's post. Her travel tips for the 9-5er are so great. Maximizing vacation time, taking advantage of deals and more great points that she expands on are worth checking out if you are wondering how you can travel all year long.

Favorite Blogging Post: I came across Kayla's post from someone who shared it on Facebook...see that form of Social Media isn't dead! Anytime someone mentions blog photography or photos in general I'm all over it. I can always learn more, obviously...and I really just love pictures. Kayla shared how she takes bulk blog photos and her tips & tricks. It was interesting to hear how she does it all in one day and is something I can totally get behind. If you struggle in this area, definitely check this post out!

Favorite Moment: Man that's was a FUN month. I have to say that my birthday was probably the best. Although the celebrations continued throughout the week at my grandparents house, and through the weekend with happy hour dates and a trip to Pittsburgh...the day of my actual birthday was a lot of fun. I walked into work last Wednesday with Starbucks waiting for me on my desk and beautifully wrapped presents and continued to get more Starbucks deliveries and surprises throughout the day. I got flowers from Chuck and Ethan--the most beautiful colorful roses that are still thriving and I love looking at in our living room. I got super thoughtful presents from my co-workers and friends and then an ice cream cake from my bosses! My dudes took me to dinner and then by my request a drive to the beach so we could watch the sunset. I sat and read some of my book while Ethan caught Pokemon and Chuck skipped was perfect. Between the love from all of you on my blog, text messages, birthday wishes, e-mails, Starbucks gift cards (thanks Kate!) pictures from my family and calls...I am SO SO thankful. Everything really made me smile because it was so ALL ME...every last bit of it. Being thought of and spoiled is more than I need, but it is so appreciated. I am a lucky girl and blessed with an amazing support system and family and friends.

Favorite Find: Our city really seems to be adding more and more gems which is helping me love this Summer even more. I've been on a mission to get out and do something each night. Whether it's a walk, a trip to get some ice cream, or a local outdoor concert...I want to be outside and enjoy the sunshine. A new hotel, the Courtyard Erie Bayfront  was put up downtown by the lake and it's outdoor patio views of the sunset are to die for. Chuck and I went a few weeks ago to celebrate his promotion and we were in awe of it all.  (PS- yay Chuck- so proud of my husband!) You know I'm OBSESSED with the sky, but when Chuck finds it amazing you know it's good. They have an infinity pool which is also insane and is another bad ass view of Lake Erie. We had a few drinks and appetizers from The Shoreline Grill and everything we tried was delicious. It's a great spot to grab a drink, relax and take in the beautiful views of Lake Erie, the sky and the local yacht club.

A photo posted by emelia💜 (@emeliaanne_) on

Favorite Reality Check Post: Meagan from All The Joys published a bold piece "My Daughters Aren't Beautiful" which I loved. Don't tell her that her daughters are beautiful, instead admire them for their other qualities. I love Ethan's heart...he is wise beyond his years and is always thinking of others. I make it a point to compliment him on these things, because life isn't about looks. An amazing read from Meagan, whether you have children or not.

Favorite GO GIRL Post: I have loved Sarah's writing for a long time, and she is one of the first lifestyle bloggers I started following--hi Venus Trapped In Mars!! Her realness, great attitude and zest for life make me continue reading. Her list of hopes, goals & wishes for the next year have me screaming YES YES YES because I know it's all possible. The thought of others making their big dreams a reality make me extremely happy.

Favorite Read: Chelsea had an interesting encounter with a woman after church which led her to write how she wants to be like her. It's so refreshing to hear stories about good things happening, really good things that you don't expect to happen. If you've ever read Chelsea's blog before, you know she has a way with words, so of course I love the story from the story.

Favorite Recipe: Cara from Unkindly Spoken  had me drooling in seconds when she shared her Smores In A Jar  recipe. I mean, just LOOK how good this is. Better yet, I think it would make a cute gift for someone too!

July was jam packed with fun at the beach, on the soccer field, time spent with loved ones and definitely in the sunshine...I don't want it to end and love recapping each month to hold on just a little bit longer.

Favorite Dream Big posts in July:

Anything I missed this month? Leave me a comment with your favorite reads around the Internet from July. I love to hear what you enjoy!

grab button for Dream Big And Buy The Shoes
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July 27, 2016

Family Photos: Wedding Wednesday

Today's Wedding Wednesday post has me smiling thinking back to how this all went down. Between the both of us, Chuck and I have a rather large, interesting family...lots of people involved from different sides.
We chose to do the family pictures outside, in the front of our reception venue. We wanted our family who wasn't part of the bridal party to be able to go inside and enjoy cocktail hour while the rest of us went to the top of the resort to take more pictures.

Chuck, Ethan and I stood in the middle and our family literally lined up to the left of us while I yelled for people to come in to the shot so the photographers could snap and go. Our family was entering in from the left, smiling, then exiting to the right. It looked like some sort of movie set with people everywhere scattered around the front lawn. Thinking about how easily and effectively it all ran makes me laugh because there were so many people everywhere, but somehow we pulled it off.

Chuck, My Gram & I
Chuck, My Nanu (Italian for Grandfather) & I

My Mom's side of the family...the Palombi side

My Dad's side...the Woodruff's. My Dad, Stepmom & Brother

The parents!

Chuck & I with his Mom and Stepfather

The Lawrence side from North Carolina including Chuck's brother, sister, our brother in-law and niece & flower girl

With Chuck's Dad & Stepmom

The Lawrence Men

Chuck's Mom's side of the family

Chuck and his sisters with Ethan

A few months ago my grandparents celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary, and I was looking through these family pictures that morning. Not exaggerating, I have probably looked at these pictures a couple hundred times in the past 10 months. That day I saw something for the first time in the background and was instantly brought to tears. Do you see the butterfly in the right corner of every picture? Remember the butterfly release we did at our ceremony? That's my Mom. Making sure she was included in our family pictures. 
My Gram often sits outside and ever since my mom passed away butterflies flock to her. She always tells me about how they sit by her, on her arm, or on her shoe. We know it's her telling us she's okay and bringing us peace. 
I couldn't believe my eyes when I looked through the pictures that morning. I called my Gram right away and couldn't even talk I was crying so hard. I believe in signs and this totally was one. I still get chills looking at these pictures now that I see my Mom there with us. 

Thank you for sharing in another Wedding Wednesday with me. I appreciate your sweet comments each week, XO!

Wedding Wednesday in week's case you missed it:

Details & Vendors:
Photography: R. Frank Photography
Cake & Cupcakes: Allie Cakes
The Dress: Bridal Elegance
Bride's Shoes: Badgley Mischka (similar)
Bride's Clutch: Rent The Runway
Groom & Best Man  Shoes: Nike Lockwood
Flowers: Afloral (handmade bouquets by the Bride)
Bridesmaid Dresses: Weddington Way
Bridesmaid Earrings: Frou Frou & Frill
Butterflies: Shallowtail Farms

To Travel & Beyond

July 25, 2016

How To Adjust To A New Schedule

I find that often when people are changing schedules, whether it be at their job, with their children, or getting in a new routine due to a change in their lives they often apologize to others for not being as present as they once were.

I've changed schedules quite a few times. When Ethan goes back to school each year, it's a change...the start of a new routine. My husband has recently received a promotion (woo-hoo Chuck!) and yet again, our schedule is being tweaked. It's hard. It takes a toll not only on your body, but your mind as well. While going through all of this I found a few ways that can help you adjust if you're taking on a change or new schedule.

1. Get your sleep
Think you only need 6-7 hours of sleep a night? You may be used to functioning on that much, but if you have recently changed your daily routine- chances are your bedtime routine needs switched up too. Go to bed early. Stay off that phone, and turn off the TV. Drift off to dreamland without electronics and get some solid shut-eye...a full 8 hours is best, for at least a few weeks. If you're like me, this needs to happen every night...forever. If you typically run on a shorter amount your body will get back in the swing of things after a few weeks of adjustment.

2. Clear your schedule
Are you a social butterfly? I love participating in a good happy hour or having plans with friends for a midweek pick me up. In this case, it's not always the best when you're adjusting to a new routine. You need time to focus, unwind, rest and refresh yourself. Take it easy and clear that social calendar for a while. Get together on the weekend. Maybe only run one errand after your day then head home to rest. Don't over commit yourself while you're adjusting, it's just too much. Don't feel bad, you need time to focus on you. True friends will understand.

3. Prepare for success
Establish a routine within your routine. Everyone is more successful when they have a plan, it's true. Whether it's setting your clothes out for the week, prepping lunches or starting your day with a big glass of warm lemon water...find out what works best for you and your body. When I wake up and my routine is thrown out of whack, my whole day seems to be crazy. It may take a few extra minutes, but line up your priorities and needs and get on schedule. For me, it's having my clothes and accessories already laid out, my lunch packed, any extra items I need for work being set out on the dining room table and getting out the door 5 minutes early. 

4. Give yourself time
Not only do you need time to relax, you need time within this new schedule to fully adjust. Get in your routine for a few weeks, slow down, figure it all one is rushing you to get with the new program. I used to work one night a week, and I swear once I switched to an all daytime schedule it took me a good 3 weeks to feel like everything was right again. Even though it was a positive switch for the better of my overall liking, it still took time to be fully awake those Wednesday mornings and not like I should be on the couch answering blog e-mails from my laptop. It's okay though, we all need time to get in the groove. 

Remembering these four steps will help you feel better about the adjustment and remind you that it's okay. You may feel pressure internally or from others, but keep these things in mind and you will be adjusted in no time at all.

What's your best tip for adjusting to a new schedule?

July 22, 2016

If You Like Horrors & Memoirs & More....

Recently I've taken my Bookworm title back from the hole it was hiding in. I used to read ALL. THE. TIME. At one point I stopped devoting so much time to it, and I'm not sure how it happened. But I'm back, and setting the time aside to get lost in a good book is so much fun.

I thought I would review and share about a few books I've read lately and hopefully do this on an on-going basis. I love getting suggestions from other bloggers so maybe I'll recommend something you may want to read yourself.

You, Caroline Kepnes 5/5

I loved this book. Ashley, from The Wandering Weekenders had mentioned it in a review and I checked it out on Goodreads and decided it definitely needed to be read. It's a psychological thriller about a man Joe, who works in a bookstore and his latest obsession- a beauty that goes by the name of Beck. Joe goes to every length to stalk her and becomes very descriptive in his thoughts. I couldn't put this one down, and finished it in just a few days because I came so enthralled in it. If you love horrors, you'll enjoy this. It's a twisted story, but definitely will make you aware of what you put out there for the world to see in terms of social media. 

Bulletproof, Maci Bookout 4/5

If you have gathered anything about me if you follow on Twitter, then you know I love reality TV. I have watched Teen Mom for years, and always enjoyed Maci's story. She seemed to really have it together despite the troubles she has gone through. I've been wanting to read this for a while and finally did...and it didn't disappoint. While it didn't have me thinking "Oooh what happens next?" it was definitely interesting to hear her thoughts while going through the pregnancy, including how she told her parents as a teenager. I liked this book because it solidified what I like about Maci, and that she has a good head on her shoulders.

Pretty Baby, Mary Kubica 4/5

They said if you liked Girl On The Train, you would enjoy Pretty Baby. I was hoping I wouldn't figure out what was going to happen fairly early on, like I did with Girl On The Train and was happy that didn't happen. This story is about a girl named Willow who is found again after a woman named Heidi catches a glimpse of her from a train. Heidi can't stop thinking about Willow, and the baby she was clutching in her arms. Heidi goes to crazy lengths to take Willow in despite what her family thinks, and the story ends in a way I never saw coming. 

No One Knows, J.T. Ellison 5/5

This has been my favorite read so far the last few months, hands down. Another one I couldn't put down and led me to a night of only 4 hours of sleep it was so good. This story was so sad from the beginning, as it describes what happened the night Aubrey's husband died. No one knows how he died, but when he is finally declared dead by the state she tries to move forward with her life. As she questions everything and thinks about the past as she attempts to live her life. It's hard for her to get through the day to day since she was a major suspect in his murder and still no one knows how it all happened. I was completely shocked by the ending...too good to be true. I would totally read this book all over again. It's like the movies you watch and then re-watch to see if you can catch anything you didn't the first time. A must read!

Turning The Tables: From Housewife to Inmate and Back Again, Teresa Giudice  3/5

Anyone that watches The Real Housewives of New Jersey reality TV show knows that Teresa doesn't have the best way with words. She's often the brunt of jokes for her quirky made up words and phrases that don't make any sense. Because of that I went in to reading this book with no high expectations of grammar, sorry...just being honest. It was okay. Yes, the grammar and writing itself wasn't the best. I did appreciate her telling her story of being behind bars and what she's learned from this entire legal battle. She was imprisoned for fifteen months after being convicted for federal charges. She tells of her life growing up Italian, building her life with her husband, the fame and craziness behind the #RHONJ show on Bravo and more. I really enjoyed her positivity throughout, and think it helped her survive and come out on top. If you're a fan of the show, you may enjoy this light-hearted read too. 

I have a handful of others to review so I'll do that in another post so this one doesn't get too long. As you can see my tastes are kind of all over the place, but my favorite reads are horror and crime stories. I would love to make book reviews a regular thing around here because I'm really enjoying reading again as I've learned to set aside some time for myself to dive in to a good read. 
I love following my friends on Goodreads, so definitely add me there so I can see what you're reading too. 

What's your favorite read lately?

July 20, 2016

Birthday Lessons

Today's a great day, because it's my birthday! That may sound a little crazy, but hear me out---I love celebrating...ANYTHING. I'm always down for a good time, some balloons, and a cocktail or two.

I thought I would share some lessons learned over the past year, because what's getting another year older if you're not getting wiser?!

Time doesn't heal all wounds, but it's okay. 
So many people told me when my Mom passed away that life would get easier as time went on. Those people haven't walked in my shoes. I think in fact, it's harder. To realize what I put her through now that I'm a parent makes me appreciate her a million times more, and she's not here to pay back. The path through of life is more vivid now that I'm an adult and seeing all the things she could be a part of and isn't is really tough. I try not to dwell on it, because that's no way to live life and she wouldn't want me to. Rather, I am trying to continue to find myself, be over the moon happy and live this beautiful life in a great way each and every day.

Slowing down isn't a bad thing.
I've learned to say no and not over commit myself. I go to bed earlier. I don't go to the bar every weekend. They say slowing down is a sign of getting older, well that's okay by me. I used to feel very stressed when I would say yes to everything that came up. I felt like I had to. Saying no and slowing down has made me much more calm and it doesn't mean I'm a bad person. Slowing down, looking around and enjoying what's around me is really great.

Hard work pays off.
It's not always who you know. The old fashioned hard work does matter. I've always believed that in the end your hard work will pay off, and it rang true this year. I've worked my butt off to be where I am, and while my vision isn't the same one others may see...I am happy. Dream big, but work for what you want. Success comes when you put in the hours and get after it.

Dreams change. 
I used to dream of being a writer for a magazine in NYC. Now, I dream of a nice house with a goldendoodle and taking trips to beautiful places I never thought I could. My dreams consist of helping make the ones I love dreams come true too. Ethan's dream a few years ago was to swim with dolphins. Seeing his face when we went to the Bahamas and hug that dolphin made every penny worth it. My dreams came true becoming a wife too, because I never thought I could find someone to put up with my crazy ass. Seriously, I didn't have little girl dreams of a wedding and wearing a white dress...I literally thought it was out of my reach. That changed when I met Chuck, and now that man who is my husband helps me continue to dream big.

I don't mind getting older. 
I love sitting in on a Saturday night and hanging out watching a movie. Grocery shopping on a Friday night sounds peaceful. I also have really found out who I am and love owning every piece of me. I'm not ashamed to admit I'm loud and's me. I love hard, I dream big, I get excited about really little things...but it's who I am. I'm still learning lessons and finding out things the hard way, but that's a part of it all in the end. The journey is wonderful.  Life is great, and I can't wait to see what this next year brings.

Thank you all for being a part of my journey. I'm seriously a lucky woman and when I step back and look at how my life is going, I'm extremely thankful for every moment...big and small. I appreciate you taking the time to come here and read what I have to say...if you take one thing away from any of this...Dream BIG friends. XO!

July 19, 2016

A Refreshed Eye- PCA Revitalizing Eye Gel Review

I tend to look in the mirror a handful of times a day. Usually I'm too busy to check out my own reflection more than this. I typically like what I see, I've learned to love my imperfections and truly feel comfortable in the skin I'm in.

It's no secret though, tomorrow's my birthday...and I'm not getting any younger. One big thing I've noticed is my eyes. They look more tired these days. I could probably attribute that to not enough sleep, long days, early mornings...but I don't want to miss a second of this life. Am I right?

Then I found this amazing stuff that works in a short TWO weeks...seriously, amazing stuff. This PCA Skin Revitalizing Eye Gel helps take care of those pesky dark circles (ugh), puffiness and wrinkles (my worst enemies) and sagging eyelids ( I sense those are in my future). 

Some eye products I've used can sting or not feel so great in that sensitive eye area, but not the PCA Revitalizing Eye is kind enough to stay away from irritation. It's so easy to use...I apply it in the morning and night (two times a day) after I wash my face directly under my eye and on my eyelid. Yes, it's sensitive enough to not affect that delicate area, seriously love this stuff! 
You can purchase the PCA Revitalizing Eye Gel right on their website and get to making quick and easy results on your eyes right away. 

Thank goodness I have this stuff, especially this week when I'm celebrating every's just what I do for birthday month! You can enjoy FREE shipping from PCA on your first order (no minimum purchase required) by entering code:BrandBacker 

 Thank you BrandBacker for providing me with a sample in exchange of my honest review and thank YOU guys for always supporting these great brands who help me inform you of awesome stuff. Have a great day!

July 18, 2016

Beauty On A Budget // Summer Favorites

Since we're in the midst of the season, it's the perfect time to share my favorite beauty finds that won't break the bank while you're vacationing your Summer away.

Lindsay and I wanted to give an overview of our go to Summer Favorites in the budget friendly category rather than focus on one specific product for this month's review in our series.

Untitled #21

Evian face care

Lip treatment

Body moisturizer

Evian Facial Water Spray- I've already mentioned this amazing stuff in my Summer Essentials post but I can't go without telling you need it. It's such a great refresher in these scorcher Summer days. Whether it's after work before happy hour, or on a plane on your way to vacation-it's such a great throw in your bag item that you can't go without. I love how it instantly refreshes your face without ruining your makeup!

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm- this is a newer find from Ulta. After I heard multiple people raving about them. I love how easily it glides on and stays put for several hours. They have so many fun colors perfect for Summer. I picked up a coral/pink shade in Unapologetic and have been rocking it more often than's a great "go with everything" seasonal color.

Vaseline Spray & Go Moisturizer- I first tried this stuff years ago when Influenster sent me some in a Vox Box. It's PERFECT for busy on the go schedules or when you need a mid day moisturizer if you're throwing on a dress or shorts. You literally spray and easily rub in the lotion with just a few swipes. I love it and still use it after all these years, it's a repeat buy for sure.

Dove Advanced Care Deoderant- Skin Renew- what would the purpose of this blog be if I wans't always honest? Let's be real. We all sweat. Me? Oh yea! I also have that Italian blood in me which means some thick, dark hair which often leaves ugly marks after shaving my armpits. I LOVE this deoderant because it helps restore my skin to it's natural color. It's gentle on my skin and after just a few days of using it I noticed a difference. If you have trouble in this area like me, it's totally worth the buy!

Rimmel Natural Bronzer- I have always loved this bronzer because it gives a light shimmer and is a no brainer with the cost being less than $5. It's one that I'm not scared to buy and not like because it gives beautiful color and a soft highlight and isn't pricey. If you're in between bronzers or are looking for a great everyday wear, this is the one for you!

That sums it up for this month's Beauty On A Budget: Summer Favorites. Don't forget to visit Lindsay's blog to see what she recommends too. I would LOVE to hear what budget friendly products you use during this season. Let me know in the comments!

July 15, 2016

Jalapeño Popper Dip

I love dips for so many reasons. They're perfect for any get together, they're usually easy to make and if you're in need of a last minute dish for a party- they usually are the winner.

good party dips

I found one that sounded amazing from one of my favorite sites and made a variation of it for a recent party we attended for the Fourth of July.

You will need:
(2) 8 oz. packages softened cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
4 oz. can chopped green chilies, drained
2 oz. can diced jalapeño peppers, drained
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

To make:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Stir together cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until smooth
Stir in chilies and peppers
Line small baking dish with aluminum foil
Pour mixture into dish and spread evenly
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese
Bake for 30 minutes

Lining the dish with aluminum foil will keep the dip moist, cook it evenly and definitely make clean up way easier. If you don't want to bake your dip, you can also microwave it for about 3 minutes in a large bowl until hot. I served mine with tortilla chips, but it may also be great with crackers or some wedges of bread. For added fun, I topped it with some more jalapeños. 

This dip combines the love of spicy with the deliciousness of cheese. It's not a healthy dip, but it's worth busting out on a Summer weekend and I can see it on repeat during Football season too.

If you're looking for more great dips, check out my Pinterest board all about 'em-


What's your favorite party dip? Feel free to drop a link in the comments to one you want to share!

July 13, 2016

Our Story- Emelia & Chuck: Wedding Wednesday

While in the midst of still recapping our wedding, I've noticed I have some new readers...and for the ones that have been around- I realized I have never told this whole story.

Chuck and I met 9 years ago at work. I remember what kind of phone I had when he scheduled our first date in it.Part of that is because we worked in the cell phone industry, the other part is due to him already standing out to me. I also remember thinking he was out of his mind. We were friends, and next thing I knew this guy wanted to go on a date.
He was persistent and I showed up. To freaking Indiana Jones. I'm not a girl who watches Indiana Jones. But...I never had so much fun and obviously part of it was the fact that I whooped his butt in arcade basketball afterwards. I still do, to this matter what he says.

The next few dates after that included a variety of things we still enjoy to this day- the casino, cookouts, more movies, and tons of laughing. Chuck was unlike any other guy I ever dated. Complete opposite, and I'm convinced that's why it worked.
In addition to my full time job, I also worked part time at a bar downtown. I would leave work and find his business cards with silly messages written on them on my car. He never stopped making me laugh, and it's a huge reason of why people are drawn to Chuck. He's hilarious.

He waited until we got more serious until I was introduced to Ethan and I respected that. Ethan and I became instant buddies. I remember sitting outside playing cars with him and his sweet little voice asking if I would see him again the next day. Some of our dates turned in to ones at Chuck E. Cheese and mini golf, with Ethan coming along and I didn't mind. I loved hanging out with them and I never really processed what dating a man with a child would be like. It just sort of happened.

Next thing you know, after a million more dates Chuck moved in with me to my little apartment. Once my lease was up for the year, we agreed a bigger space was necessary, especially with Ethan visiting on the weekends. We moved in to our townhouse and our life together really started to build. We started to travel together, meet each other's friends, and one thing led to the next. We were really growing with one another, and as a family. We went through some major life changes, lots of trips to Pittsburgh (our favorite city), switched careers, lost jobs, Ethan began living with us full time, and we found out what worked best for all of us in terms of living together.

Out of the blue one day Chuck asked me if I would like to go look at rings. "Wedding rings?" I replied. I immediately sent a text to his Mom and Sister...this was happening! We looked, and I found some things I liked but one I was different. Just like us and our little family. I started to guess when the proposal would happen. Sorry guys out there, no offense at all, but Chuck is not a fan of holiday or birthday proposals or anything around a big occasion. So then I thought he would do it to fake me out...nothing. Nothing for a while.

It was a Friday night and I took Ethan to a movie... afterwards could not get a hold of Chuck. It was weird, he's always getting back to me right away. The next day we had planned to take my grandparents to the premiere of Draft Day because they are huge Cleveland Browns fans. While we were in the movie I found out that I had won a contest for a suite at the Cleveland Cavaliers game that night. SO exciting for a Saturday night when we had no plans! Right? We proceeded to take my grandparents to lunch and then go home to change and relax before the game. Chuck sat down next to me and was being a little strange, but that's normal for him. ;) To this day, I don't remember what was said to me...but the next thing I know a beautiful ring was on my finger and we were officially engaged.

Turns out the night before he was at my grandparents house showing them the ring and asking my Grandfather's permission to ask to marry me. They were the only ones who knew what was about to happen. Ethan was the first person we told and when we talked to him he was like "Finally! Now let me see the ring!" When we called Chuck's mom she thought we were joking because she had just asked him when it was coming. It was such a surreal day, and Chuck planned to propose on a special day, April 12th. 412- which is the area code in Pittsburgh, our favorite city.

We got to go celebrate at the Cleveland Cavaliers game, and the next day we were off to Columbus for a concert and got to share our exciting time with a group of friends too. It was a great weekend and I felt like I was on a high. I didn't think life could get better. 

I was wrong, each day with Chuck is better than the last. I teased him for waiting so long to propose (we were together almost 7 years before he did) but I am so glad we went through all we did before being engaged. From hardships, career changes, deaths, to traveling across the country, celebrating successes and enjoying family moments there is no one else I would rather come home to each day. 

I've said for years that I know my Mom sent Chuck to me. He came in to my life when I was having a tough time, and helped me more than I can ever repay him for. I would have never pictured staying with him or going through all we have after that first date. I didn't know what was to come, but I'm glad I didn't run. Chuck is the calm to my crazy, the balance I need and my #1 fan. I got the best out of our deal, because I have Ethan too. Our imperfect, fun, never a dull moment family completes me. 

And that's our story.

Wedding Wednesday in week's case you missed it:

Details & Vendors:
Photography: R. Frank Photography
Cake & Cupcakes: Allie Cakes
The Dress: Bridal Elegance
Bride's Shoes: Badgley Mischka (similar)
Bride's Clutch: Rent The Runway
Groom & Best Man  Shoes: Nike Lockwood
Flowers: Afloral (handmade bouquets by the Bride)
Bridesmaid Dresses: Weddington Way
Bridesmaid Earrings: Frou Frou & Frill
Butterflies: Shallowtail Farms

To Travel & Beyond