May 31, 2012



I ate an egg.

Whoever you are, vegan or not, please don't judge me.

I have been eating eggs again for about two weeks, but I have hesitated to announce my decision on the blog for fear of a negative backlash from some of my vegan readers.

I hope all my fears are unfounded.

Why eggs?  You might ask...

Well, for me, I suppose it all comes down to what feels right in my heart of hearts.  My decision to become vegan was (or should I say "is" because I still eat vegan 95% of the time) based almost solely on my love of animals, my dislike of the way a number of animal products are produced, and my desire to play no role in that vicious cycle.

My beliefs on this topic have not changed at all.

So, how, you might ask, can I justify eating eggs while still holding these beliefs?

Personally, it all comes down to the source of the egg.  For instance, the eggs that I will eat are grown locally - here in Jacksonville - at a small farm that feeds their chickens only grass.  There are no roosters at this farm, and therefore the eggs are unfertilized.  As a result, the yolks of these eggs are almost orange, they stand high and proud once cracked, and the flavor is delicious!

Just in case you care, I don't eat eggs every day (Honestly, I don't think I need that much cholesterol in my diet!).  However, when I am craving them, or when they are called for in a recipe, I don't automatically subdue my craving or rush to the pantry for an egg substitute.  As for eating out, I still eat almost exclusively vegan because most restaurants do not serve eggs that are grass-fed and unfertilized (if you know of a restaurant in Jacksonville that meets that criteria, by all means, let me know right away!).

So that's it.  

That's my spill on eggs.

Whatever your personal belief on eggs - or any other food product for that matter - please know that my beliefs are my beliefs.  I would never seek to impose them on someone other than myself.

Most importantly, thank you for listening, understanding, and not judging.

Who knew sweet potatoes could be the perfect vehicle for a softly baked egg?!  By both capturing and absorbing the egg, the potato abounds in savory flavor and a delicate yet full-bodied texture.  Feel free to top this potato with your favorite salsa, guacamole, refried beans, or cheese; or serve this beauty atop a bed of spicy greens like arugula for a bright, summery bite!

Sweet Potato Egg Boats
Serves 2

2 small/medium sweet potatoes
2 eggs
2 tsp Smart Balance (or butter)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1-2 T nutritional yeast (or cheese)


  • In a 400 degree oven, bake the sweet potatoes for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until soft to touch.
  • Slice potatoes in half, scoop out a portion of the insides, and place the filling in a separate bowl.
  • Carefully crack one egg per potato.  I chose to place the yolk in one side of the potato, and the majority of the white in the other side.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Return to the oven and continue baking for 10-15 minutes until the egg is set to your desired consistency.
  • Meanwhile, mash the potato filling, add in a pinch of salt, pepper, and butter, and stir in 1-2 nutritional yeast (or cheese).
  • Once the egg is baked, top the potato with the butter and mashed potato filling, sprinkle with a small amount of nutritional yeast (or cheese), and serve immediately.

As you can see, I chose to serve our Sweet Potato Egg Boats alongside roasted asparagus and onions.  In my opinion, roasting really is the easiest and most delicious way to prepare vegetables.  For this side dish in particular, all I did was:

  1. dice the onion and slice the asparagus into two inch pieces;
  2. toss the vegetables with EVOO, salt, and pepper; and
  3. roast for 20 minutes (flipping every 5-10 minutes).  

It really is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Question of the Day:

Do you like eggs?  If so, do you prefer them scrambled, fried, over-easy, poached, hard-boiled, or hidden in recipes?!

Ally and Bo

May 28, 2012

Book Review: Insurgent (Book II of the Divergent Trilogy)

I finished Insurgent - a 544 page book - in two days.  
That means I read over 250 pages a day.  

(No, I didn't just sit on the couch all day.  I still taught yoga, I still cooked, I still played with Lola, and I still talked to my husband.  But when I wasn't doing one of those four things, I read.)

And, to answer your question, YES, it was that good.

In case I haven't succeeded in peaking your interest quite enough, and you're wondering what Insurgent is all about, here is a brief description:
One choice can transform you - or it can destroy you.  But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves - and herself - while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love. 
Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors.  War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows.  And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable - and even more powerful.  Transformed by her own decisions, but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so. 
New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

First things first, I realize that this is ANOTHER dystopian novel.  I know, I know, you probably think that is all that I read, but really, it's not.  Right now, for instance, I am reading a historical fiction novel and loving it.  But that's besides the point.  My point is that yes, this is a dystopian novel, but don't discount it just because you think that you don't like this genre, or you think that all of the novels in this genre are essentially the same.  Trust me, they aren't.  They are as unique to one another as coffee is to marinara sauce (that's my very awkward way of saying that,  although they are all books, they have totally different flavors).  Take for instance, the author's explanation as to why she connects to the dystopian field of writing:
[There are times when] everything seems like the end of the world, and I don't think that's necessarily a silly thing.  You're waking up and becoming aware that the worlds has problems and those problems affect you, whereas when you're [a child] they don't seem to affect you that much even if you're aware of them.  This dystopian trend picks up on that little part of your life where everything feels really extreme and it honors that part of your life by saying, "Yeah. It is the end of the world.  Let's look at it."
Just to catch you up, I read Divergent (the first book in Roth's trilogy) last May.  Quite unexpectedly, I fell totally in love with the book by page five.  Similar to my experience with Insurgent, I read the 500+ page novel in a couple of days.  And then, I had to wait over 11 months for Insurgent to be released.  The wait was more than worth it (as you will see in this review), but now I am stuck waiting another 12+ months for the final installment of the trilogy to be released.

But wait...
...let me back up...
...I'm getting ahead of myself.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the term "insurgent" means:

  • (noun): a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government; especially: a rebel not recognized as a belligerent

Tris is the quintessential insurgent.  First - and foremost for me as a reader - she is conflicted about the necessity of violence, and sometimes death, in times of societal rebellion.  In turn, Tris shuts off a large part of herself in an attempt to protect herself from future pain.  I understand that "gut reaction" sort of response because it is something that I, myself, do in times of extreme emotional stress.  On the other hand, Tris is resilient, honest to a fault, and frequently stubborn.  Although sometimes misdirected, her intentions are always pure.  As a female reader, I can relate to both Tris' sacrificial intentions and imperfections.  In this way, I feel a stronger connection to characters such a Tris and Katniss (from the Hunger Games), than say a character like Bella from Twilight (To all you Twilight devotees, don't get your panties in a twist, I am still as loyal a Twlight fan as ever!).

I recently read an interview with Divergent/Insurgent's author Veronica Roth.  In that interview, Roth is asked how her personal adolescent experience informed her writing of the trilogy.  Her response really hit home for me, and perhaps indicates why I am able to connect with the world she has created in her books:
As a teenager, I put a lot of pressure on myself, and a lot of that, for me, was about finding a moral high ground.  As I've grown up, I've decided to abandon that because it made me judgmental and also stressed me out.  There's really no way to be perfect.  Perfectionism is a silly trait to have, so in a lot of ways that inspired the world of "Divergent," in which everyone is striving toward that ideal and falling short of it.  Tris is a character who experiences that stress about, "Am I doing the right thing? I always have to do the right thing.  If I don't, what am I worth?"
Take that Perfection.  You have just been unceremoniously throw out of the window!

Insurgent left me flabbergasted!  

In the final two pages of the book there is a HUGE twist!  I knew that something was brewing throughout the book, but I would never have guessed what it was.

My jaw literally dropped when I read the last page.  
So I read it again.  
And then I read it a third time, just to make sure I had read it correctly the first two times.  

Don't get me wrong, I liked the twist.  It is a little crazy...certainly out-there...but it should make for a very interesting conclusion to the trilogy.  Unfortunately, I will have to wait over a year to see how it all shakes out.  Darn those trilogies and series!  Between:

you think I would have learned my lesson by now, right?!  I guess I am more stubborn and like Tris than I realized...

Question of the Day:

What is your favorite genre of books to read (i.e. fiction, nonfiction, history/historical fiction, self-help, spiritual, wellness, young adult literature)?!

Also, if you have read any F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C. books recently tell me about them in the "Comments" below.  I am always looking for a great new book to read!

Ally and Bo

May 27, 2012

A Saturday Without Pictures

Yesterday Bo and I took full advantage of the "holiday" status of our long weekend.  Since tropical storms are predicted for today and Monday (apparently Beryl is headed our way), we figured that we better make the most of our Saturday together.  Although I did teach one yoga class in the morning, I was done by noon and had the rest of the day to dedicate to family.

Since Lola has finished receiving all of her shots, she is eligible to visit the local dog parks.  With it being her first visit to any sort of public park with other dogs around, Bo and I figured that it would be best to wait until we could go together.  So yesterday, around 2:00PM, Bo, Lola, and I piled into the Subaru and headed to(!):

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera.
I don't have any pictures from Lola's first day at the dog park.
I don't have any pictures of her first experience swimming.  
I'm a bad puppy mommy, and I know it.  
Total bummer.  
Oh well.

Poochies is just a little over four miles from our house, and came recommended by our veterinarian.  When we arrived, there were about half a dozen other dogs around, and Lola was more than ready to jump right in!  She seemed to get along with most of the dogs, even though she was clearly the smallest dog there.  What Bo and I discovered is that Lola is very reactive to the temperament and behavior of other dogs.  For instance, here are a few examples of Lola's reactions to other dogs at Poochies:

  • Amped-Up: Lucky is an adolescent Golden Labrador that was rescued by an older gentleman one day before he was euthanized.  He is very playful - sometimes to the point of antagonization - and quite hyper.  In response, Lola played right along, becoming a bit atangonizing to Lucky (i.e. jumping in his face, playful biting, etc.), and getting a little more amped up than Bo and I like.

After a few minutes, Bo and I separated Lola and Lucky by taking her to the other side of the lake.

  • Cool, Calm, and Collected: Bo is a 5 year-old Golden Labrador.  He is calm, playful, and respectful.  He is well trained, quickly responds to his owner, and loves to swim!  In response, Lola and Bo played great together.  She stayed calm, immediately responded to Bo and I's commands, and got over her fear of the water by following Bo and jumping right in after the toys!  I can't believe our little girl knows how to swim...she was a natural!

We let Lola play with Bo until he went home.  They were great play buddies!

  • NOT Friends: Lola only had one somewhat scary run-in with another dog.  Although we didn't catch his name, Lola was sniffing a new dog to the park when he lunged at her, started trying to bite her, and pinned her on her back in the sand.  Needless to say I immediately started yelling to Bo to pick Lola up and GET. HER. OUT. of that situation!  After a few scratches of his own, Bo picked Lola up, immediately put her on her leash, and moved to the other side of the lake.  This particular dog also had a few run-ins with other dogs...he doesn't seem to play well with others.  Lola, on the other hand, seemed totally confused by what happened.  She looked at me as if she were saying, "Mom, I was just smelling him!"

There were several other dogs with which Lola built a rapports, but they all seemed to fall into one of the aforementioned categories.  In the end, the most valuable things that Bo and I learned is to choose your friends wisely...even if they are puppy friends.  After all, friends set an example, even for Lola.

After an hour and a half, we were all three tired, incredibly dirty, and ready to come home.  First things first, we gave Lola a bath, and then Bo and I got spruced up for a night out on the town to celebrate our first anniversary (a couple of days early since most restaurants are closed on Monday, Memorial Day - our actual anniversary).  Bo kept his plans a secret, so I was pleasantly surprised when we pulled up to Orsay in Avondale, FL.  I didn't quite know what to expect, but the swanky and modern restaurant looked as if it were bound to please both the palate and the senses.

And man oh man was I right!

Can you believe it?!
I left my camera at home AGAIN.  
Enough said.

Upon being seated in our corner two-person table, we were immediately greeted by our exceptional server and two glasses of champagne (on the house, mind you)!  From then on, everything was perfection from:

  • our appetizer featuring local farmer's produce, to;
  • Bo's Cucumber Jalapeno martini, to;
  • my Hey Jealousy martini, to;
  • our shared salad with Champagne Vinaigrette, to;
  • Bo's succulent pork chop entree and my vegan Bouillabase, to;
  • my trio of sorbets and Bo's blueberry shortcake; and
  • the perfect cup of decaf coffee.

Everything was truly exceptional.  
The food.  
The drinks.  
The ambiance.  
The service.  
The priceless time with my husband.

I could not have asked for a more perfect anniversary...and I haven't even gotten my gift yet (Bo says I have to wait until Monday for that...hehehe)!

Next time - This particular book left me dumbfounded and speechless.  I hope that tomorrow's book review will encourage you to head to your nearest bookstore, or library, and snatch it up!  It's a great book for readers of all ages, particularly those that would like to take a closer look at the blessings and faults of our human nature.

Question of the Day:

How do you like to celebrate your anniversary (i.e. With a trip? Gift-giving? Sports event? Concert? Gourmet meal?)?!

Ally and Bo

May 25, 2012

Apple Pie Oats

After eating a bowl of Cherry Pie Oats two mornings ago, I couldn't get the idea of "pie oats" out of my head.  They were simply too delicious to be forgotten.  Thankfully, I had another stray can of pie filling in my pantry, so I didn't have to wait too long to fulfill my culinary fantasies of dessert for breakfast.  This time, however, I had apple pie filling.

In my mind, apple pie is quintessentially American.  When someone mentions apple pie, I immediately envision grandmothers in the kitchen, star spangled banners, and summer parties abounding with friends and family.  Therefore, I found this breakfast to be particularly apropos considering it is the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, and the unofficial kick-off to the summer season!

Forget the label "breakfast", this bowl of oats is like having a steaming pile of sweet, delicious apple pie first thing in the morning!  Let's be honest, doesn't practically everyone love good ol' fashioned apple pie?!  Well this breakfast is just like that, except it is perfectly acceptable for you to gorge yourself at 7:00 in the morning.  Enough said.

Apple Pie Oats
Serves 1

1/2 C oats
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp apple pie spice
1 1/2 C water
1/2 tsp butter extract (or 1T butter)
1 C Lucky Leaf's Sugar Free Apple Pie Filling

  • Add the oats, salt, and apple pie spice to a medium saucepan.
  • Pour in the water and butter extract.
  • Boil; and immediately reduce to heat to low.
  • Simmer for 7-10 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.
  • Remove from heat; and pour into a large bowl.
  • Stir in the apple pie filling.
  • Serve immediately!

Next time - Saturday adventures with Lola and - assuming the weather cooperates - her first doggy park!  Water will be around, so I hope to get some great pictures of her frolicking in the doggy lake. ;)

Question of the Day:

Can you make pie from scratch?! 

I feel like generations past knew how to make practically everything from scratch, whereas nowadays we rush to the store to pick up pre-made whatever.  To be honest, I have never made a pie crust from scratch...maybe I should change that...

Ally and Bo

May 24, 2012

Confetti Corn Salad

Maybe I'm imagining things, but it seems to me that every week, around Thursday, the same things happens:

  1. we have two more days until we re-stock at the grocery store;
  2. the pantry and refrigerator are practically bare;
  3. it is meal time; and
  4. Bo and I are starving.
Much of the time I end up eating rice cake sandwiches, cereal for lunch/dinner, or steamed rice with some sort of canned something-or-other on these occasions.  

Well, not today!  

When I looked at the rice cakes, cereal, and dried grains, my stomach answered with an unhappy grumble.  Nope.  None of those foods were going to work this go 'round.  I was going to have to do better, MUCH BETTER in fact.  So, I started looking for foods with color.  As most of you know: 


Come on, haven't you ever heard your nutritionist or doctor tell you to "eat the rainbow" at every meal, or to "have at least three colors represented on your plate"?  I know I'm not making this up.  Surely you have hard about this?!  No?!  Well then, today's the day that that changes, because today, in this recipe, you are going to "eat the rainbow" whether you like it or not!  So there.

Easily thrown together in less than ten minutes, Confetti Corn Salad would be the perfect accompaniment to a summer barbecue or potluck (Can you say "Hello!" to Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day?!).  Perfect for those days when the thermometer tops 90 degrees, this salad is light, refreshing, and full of crunch!

Confetti Corn Salad
Serves 4

1 can corn, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes, rinsed and drained
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 1/2 tsp limejuice
2 T ranch dressings of choice
salt and pepper


  • Using either a clean kitchen towel or several paper towels, pat dry the corn, tomatoes, and kidney beans.
  • Pour the vegetables into a large salad bowl; and add the onion, carrots, and celery.
  • Whisk together the limejuice and ranch dressings.
  • Pour over the vegetables.
  • Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  • Toss to incorporate.
  • Chill for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  • Serve chilled.

Up next - Yesterday I told you that I had a can of Lucky Leaf's Sugar-Free Apple Pie Filling in my pantry, and I warned you that another variation of "pie oats" might be coming your way.

Well, tomorrow's the day! 

Make sure to stop by for this healthy and delicious dessert-for-breakfast recipe!  If you like apple pie AT. ALL., you won't want to miss tomorrow's post. :)

P.S.  Check out more of the ABC blog's salad recipes here!

Question of the Day:

Do you like corn?  If so, how do you prefer it (i.e. Straight off the cob? Creamed? In corn cakes? In salads? etc.)?

Ally and Bo

May 23, 2012

Cherry Pie Oats

On a whim - for no apparent reason other than it was on sale - I recently bought a can of Compton's No Sugar Added Cherry Pie Filling.

Well, that was almost a month ago.  

Since that purchase, the large can of cherry pie filling has sat, ignored, in the back of our pantry.  Keep in mind, we don't have any pie crusts in our refrigerator or freezer.  For that matter, Bo and I don't really even like pie crust all that much.  Most of the time, on the few occasions that we have either ordered or baked a pie, we end up eating out all of the "innerds" (that's not a very nice word now is it?) and leaving the crust for the birds.

Seriously, what in the world was I thinking buying pie filling?!

It was simple.  

I was going to have to come up with another way to eat this pie filling.  

And that got me else can one eat pie?  I mean let's be honest, who doesn't try to get away with eating dessert for breakfast every once in a while (Come on...what do you think cinnamon rolls, french toast, and scones really are?!)?  So why fight it?  Why not just embrace the concept of pie for breakfast, but turn it into something healthy, delicious, and fulfilling?  The truth is, there is not reason not to.

So that's exactly what I did.

Cherry Pie Oats
Serves 1

1/2 C oats
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 C Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1 C water
1/2 tsp butter extract (or 1T butter)
1 C Compton's No Sugar Added Cherry Pie Filling
1 T unsweetened, shredded coconut (optional, for garnish)


  • Add the oats, salt, and cinnamon to a medium saucepan.
  • Pour in the almond milk, water, and butter extract.
  • Bring to a low boil, immediately reduce heat, and simmer for 7-10 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.
  • Pour the oats into a large bowl, and mix-in the cherry pie filling.
  • Garnish with the shredded coconut, and serve.

On the off chance that you aren't a fan of cherry pie (Really?  How is that even possible?!), here are nine other recipes from the ABC blog that are perfect for breakfast:

This is the PERFECT bowl of oats for fall weather.  Stock up on canned pumpkin so that you can enjoy this recipe all-year round!

Peanut butter, jelly, cream, and oats all in the same bowl.  
Enough said.

This recipe takes a classic snack combination and turns it into something perfect for breakfast.  This bowl of oats will keep you fueled and full for hours!

This is one of my personal favorites!  
Feel free to get creative with ANY herbal teas you have laying around!

Tradition with a twist, this oatmeal recipe will have you wistfully reflecting on Thanksgiving come and gone.  But don't wait until November to enjoy this any-time-of-year bowl of oats!  

Here's another classic snack combination turned into something marvelous and delicious for breakfast.  If bananas aren't your thing, this bowl of oats should fit the bill!

What's Biscoff?  

Don't ask.

Just get into your car,
drive to the nearest grocery store, 
buy it, and
rush home to make this for breakfast tomorrow.

You can thank me later.

Think you don't like green foods?  Well, this bowl of oats isn't your average sauteed spinach, boiled broccoli, or mushy asparagus.  Don't be scared, just go for it!

And again...thank me later.

Running out of fresh fruits and vegetables?  Don't despair...oatmeal is here!  Add a few tablespoons of pantry staples such as nuts and coconut and you are good to go for hours!

Question of the Day:

Do you like fruit pie?!  If so, what is your favorite flavor (i.e. cherry, apple, peach, blueberry, blackberry, strawberry, etc.)?  

P.S. I have a can of Lucky Leaf's Sugar-Free Apple Pie Filling in my pantry as well.  Hmmm...I see another variation of "pie oats" coming your way in the near future!

Ally and Bo

May 21, 2012

Celebrating Emily and Henry's "I Do's"

Hello Everyone!  I apologize for another loooong absence on the blog.  I fully intended to get this post out to you yesterday, until I experienced some unforeseen technical issues.  Specifically, our computer decided to stop recognizing the cable to my camera (insert hair-pulling here!), and therefore I couldn't transfer any of the photographs from my camera onto the computer.  After all, what good is a post about a wedding when you don't have any pictures to show for it?!

My point exactly.

The good news is that that genius husband of mine figured out the glitch.  So here I am, finally getting around to sharing my amazing weekend celebrating Emily and Henry's wedding!

Emily and I have been friends for over six years, and she is one of my dearest friends.

Although it wasn't always that way...

Emily and I met in 2006 at a job interview with the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS).  The interview took place in Washington D.C. (where the NSCS headquarters are located) over a two-day period.  We were assigned to the same hotel room for the weekend, and we immediately disliked one another.  I would go as far as saying that we each found the other annoying, unlikable, snooty, and self-absorbed.

Not the best start to a life-long friendship, right?!

About a month later, we were both hired as one-year interns with NSCS.  As a component of our employment, we would be living together in a house in Washington D.C. (in addition to four other interns) for a year.  It took a number of months before our dislike and frigidity towards one another began to thaw, but once it started, the warming up to one another happened quickly.  Ironically, over a few glasses of wine, Emily and I realized that we had A LOT in common:

  • we were both book-worms;
  • grew up dancing and - in particular - loved to salsa; 
  • held similar religious and moral beliefs; and
  • had aspirations of attending graduate school and staying in the D.C. area.

Upon the conclusion of our internship with NSCS, Emily and I decided to move into an apartment in Greenbelt, MD (she got a job at George Washington University and I enrolled in graduate school at the University of Maryland, College Park).  Talk about a relationship 180!

In spite of a few hiccups, mess-ups, mix-ups, and all-out snaffus, everyone had an awesome time celebrating Emily and Henry's wedding this past weekend.  The festivities officially started on Thursday evening with the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner!  Emily provided us all with miniature sombreros.  Here's a picture of the three bridesmaids together:

From left to right: Shelbi, me, Michelle

Before flying into town for Emily's wedding, I had only heard about Shelbi and Michelle.  Having never met them in person before, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  But I must say, the three of us totally "clicked."  We got along famously well, and within an hour of our introductions were laughing, joking around, snapping photos, and acting like life-long friends.  It must say something wonderful about Emily if all of her dearest and best friends instantly get along so well.

Through the course of the weekend, not only did I get to celebrate Emily and Henry, but I felt like I made two new great girlfriends too!

Emily's mom, Ceci, really knew how to rock her sombrero!  Her take on the style reminded me of the "fascinators" Kate Middleton and all the English ladies wear. :)

By the way, don't Emily and Ceci favor one another?! 

Here is a pic of Emily with her mother and father (Ceci and Hal).  What a cute bunch these three were!

The Rhineberger clan with its newest addition: Henry!

Henry is from Peru (he has been living and working as an electrician in the United States for over a decade). Although his father and brother were unable to make it, several members of Henry's Peruvian family were able to make the trip to the states for his big day.  Most importantly, his mother - Teresa - was present.

Top Row: Henry, Emily, Dioselinda, Delmiro
Bottom Row: Teresa, Candida

Henry and Emily worked together to give "thank you" speeches and gifts to their parents and the bridal party.  Henry was nervous to give his speech in English (according to Emily, he had been practicing it for weeks), but he did a wonderful job! 

For Teresa, Emily and Henry bought a large vase and had a family tree painted upon it.  The tree included all of the names of the Carrasco (Henry's last name) family, and added Emily to it as well.

Needless to say, Teresa cried.

For her parents, Emily wrote, illustrated, and published a book.  She read it aloud to the guests, and I would dare to say that there wasn't a dry eye in the room upon its conclusion.  Sniff...sniff...sniff...

On Friday morning, all of the ladies woke up early and headed to the salon.  The entire bridal party got both their hair and nails done for the evening's big event.  Although we all looked great, Emily outshone us all (as she should have).  Her hair alone was stunning!  It took almost 90 minutes to create and was a piece of art in its own right!

Simply.  Gorgeous.

After a quick bite to eat, all the ladies returned to the hotel to see that our flowers had been delivered.  The orange bouquets were for the bridesmaids, whereas the rose arrangement was a gift to Emily from her soon-to-be husband.  The bouquet included a note that said: "I can't wait to meet you at the altar.  I love you, Henry."


And then it was time to get dressed!  

It took Emily a long time to find her perfect dress (one that she could salsa dance in), but in the end she found the PERFECT wedding gown!  Not only would this dress be great for dancing, but it fit Emily's fun and outgoing personality to a tee!

Being the cutie-pie that she is, Emily's "something blue" were lace biker shorts underneath her dress.  Don't you think that is a fun twist on tradition?!

Although I have purposely chosen to focus on all of the positive aspects of the wedding celebration in this post, there were NUMEROUS things that went awry over the weekend.  By far the most stressful/unexpected/hilarious was when Shelbi's zipper burst FIFTEEN MINUTES BEFORE THE CEREMONY started!

I will never forget how it happened.  

As the bridal party was sitting in a quiet room, sipping on champagne, and awaiting the wedding planner's cue to line-up, Shelbi looked over at me and said:

"Ally, I think we have a problem."

"What?" I said.

Shelbi turned around in her chair until her back was facing me.

Immediately I see a hook-and-eye tenuously holding up her dress.

Her back...and leopard print thongs...are fully exposed.

And Shelbi has a look of pure horror on her face.

This shot was taken AFTER we pinned a napkin inside her dress.

Sad face. :(

In the midst of frantically trying to fix the unexpected dress situation, Michelle and I tried to keep both Emily and Shelbi calm.  While flexing our creative muscles and trying to come up with a workable solution for our wardrobe malfunction, we also snapped photos to capture the moment.  In the end, we found a napkin almost the same color as Shelbi's dress, folded it into a large rectangle, and pinned it onto the outside of her dress.

Keep in mind, the only thing actually holding up Shelbi's dress was a single hook-and-eye closure.  With the dress being strapless, as it was, she had practically no support in the dress.




By some amazing stroke of luck. 

Shelbi's dress didn't fall down or totally burst open during the ceremony or pictures.  Regardless, once all the formal pictures were complete, Shelbi, Michelle, and I rushed to the bathroom, cut her out of the dress, and Shelbi changed clothes.  WHEW - she made it!

Afterwards, we all headed into the reception tent just in time to see the bride and groom make their grande entrance and cut the rug in their first salsa dance as a married couple!

Just look at those hips move!

Emily's dress was PERFECT for dancing!  

Every time she swayed...or turned...or twirled...the dress moved with her.  It looked great!

Emily and Hal together in their Father/Daughter Dance.

Henry and Teresa in their Mother/Son Dance.

You can't really tell in any of my pictures, but Teresa's dress was both perfect and stunning for the occasion. She really looked lovely.

Towards the end of the evening, Emily and Henry cut the cake.  They were both very nice to one another while feeding them a icing or cake in the face! :)

All of the weddings I have recently attended have really brought my mind back to my own wedding day.  It is hard - if not practically impossible - to believe that Bo and I will have been married for a year on this upcoming Monday, May 28th.


I guess the saying really is true: "Time flies when you're having fun!"

Question of the Day:

Have you ever met a friend of a friend and instantly "clicked"?  

Ally and Bo