What's Up Wednesday

The Birthday Extravaganza Revealed

Wednesday

Craig’s 32nd birthday began 3 days early this year, on April 10th. After all the other preparations were made, I made his birthday cupcakes (shown here) and arranged them carefully with a special riddle/poem:

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When Craig arrived at Water Dog Kennels the next morning, he was presented with another clue:

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And when he met me at work, my car already loaded down with luggage, gifts, and a huge cooler, he got this clue:

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And then a pair of sunglasses:

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He jumped into the driver’s seat with a smile on his face, and I gave him a special mix CD 🙂 and told him to choose from the Saved Destinations list in the GPS “Craig’s Birthday Part 1“… And the drive begin…He still had no idea where we were headed – just that it was about 160 miles away!

Around 6:30pm, we arrived outside of Lulu’s On Main, which I mentioned here

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It was seriously some of the best food…Yum! And then it was off to our next destination…And still, Craig had no idea where we were going… This time he just chose “Craig Birthday #2” from the destinations list and off we went… 15 miles down the road…

wpid-20140412_112436.jpg…to the gorgeous and charming Balsam Mountain Inn.

The Balsam Mountain Inn has a very interesting history and the most “shabby chic” rooms I have ever seen! They are each unique and charming, and we have never stayed at a more friendly place!

That evening, Craig and I sat on the rocking chair porch, enjoying the scenery and each other’s company! The air was warm and the night was just breezy enough! It was truly a beautiful evening!

The next morning I woke up bright and early to surprise Craig with his next clue:

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{Translation: “You’ll want to wear this; I know you’ll look hot. But will it help your feet? No, probably not! They’ll be roaming along. You’ll wish you had four…as we travel on this WALKING BREWERY TOUR!”}

…and with this hat I had made for him at Smathers & Branson:

Craig was super excited about our little trip to Asheville & the brewery tour! We ate a delicious breakfast at the inn, and then headed out to the “big city” (most cities are enormous in comparison to Balsam, NC!) for a fun-filled afternoon!

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Craig found a cat in one of the shops we ventured into...
Craig found a cat in one of the shops we ventured into…

Then we began the tour of three of Asheville’s local breweries: Lexington Avenue, Green Man & Twin Leaf:

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…followed by dinner at a dive called The Thirsty Monk ( – chosen since I call my husband “Monkey”, “Monx” & “Monk” :-))

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It was a gorgeous day and we had a wonderful time walking all over Downtown Asheville!

The next morning I had chosen a church for Palm Sunday, and we ate a quick breakfast and made it to the 9AM Mass – Luckily, we were literally BLESSED with a palm! Then it was off to the next destination:

The Georgia Guidestones
The Georgia Guidestones

DSCN0927 DSCN0915 DSCN0916 DSCN0919And then back in the car with the next unknown plugged into the GPS…Fortunately, as we were driving there, Craig pointed out the exit for my office along the way…where his truck remained parked… We had to make a surprise detour into Dunwoody to  retrieve the truck, and then I hugged Craig and told him I would see him at home… 🙂

Where he received his final clue:

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Here’s his new belt:

And we drove to South City Kitchen in Vinings for his birthday dinner…

wpid-20140413_203546.jpg…where he was very surprised to find my parents, brother and our dear friend, Julia, waiting at the table to surprise him!

As you can imagine, we have slept like rocks since we returned home!! We had an absolute blast, and I would plan something like this for him any day of the week, any season of the year!

I love you, Monkey! 🙂 Happy Birthday (one last time!)!

xoxo

Food For Thought Friday

Here’s Some Food For Thought: PAY ATTENTION!

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Today’s the day!!! Craig’s gotten his first two birthday clues…He took the dogs to the kennel this morning, and they gave him his 2nd clue – Meet me at my office this afternoon – We’re going out of town for the weekend!

But he stillllll doesn’t know where… 🙂 Clue 3 is coming soon! I can’t wait to share all the pictures and details with y’all on What’s Up Wednesday next week!

Last night when Craig got home, his first “gift” and clue awaited him – a note that said (to be read in the style of Dr. Suess 🙂 ):

“Let’s start this off right, like a scavenger hunt.

The first thing you’ll do is put the pups in the truck.

Water Dog Kennels – 8 AM SHARP!

When you have finished, you’ll know what to do…

Congratulations on receiving your first Birthday Clue!”

And next to the note/riddle, I placed the special birthday cupcakes I made for him yesterday:

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That’s what they were supposed to look like…but I probably should have paid more attention while making the frosting…

I created my own combination recipe, using The Kitchen Is Calling, and Taste of Home’s similar recipes, and my own ideas.

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Everything was going well until it was time to make the frosting and I realized it was another (I do this every year somehow!) meringue frosting…which is delicious but oh so precise and time intensive…

After I had beat the frosting over heat for ten minutes, while sweating to death and switching my already-sore-from-pure-barre arms from one to the other, I transferred the mixture into a bowl….and without thinking…poured in the entire bag of coconut.

Yes.

I was SO. MAD. AT. MYSELF.

So, of course, when the cupcakes were complete, I had to taste one (albeit, a small one) to make sure they were edible… In fact, they were quite delicious! Even though I am not a fan of lemon-flavored desserts, I had to stop myself from having more than just the small tester cake. Yum! So…

If you, too, would like to make these delicious cupcakes, here’s the breakdown:

Lemon Curd & Coconut Cupcakes

 Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 2 cups of AP Flour & 1.5 cups of Cake Flour.)
  • 3-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups 2% milk (I used whole milk – as I do for all baking.)
  • FILLING:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • FROSTING:
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flaked coconut (Make a note to yourself right now that these coconuts are for layering over the TOP OF THE FROSTING!!!)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.
  2. Transfer to cupcake pans. This recipe should yield approximately 36 medium-sized cupcakes. I recommend using cupcake liners, rather than just pouring the mixture directly into the pans. This should bake on 350° for 20 minutes.
  3. For filling, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and water until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer or until thickened and bubbly. Remove from the heat.
  4. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat; gently stir in lemon juice and butter. Cool to room temperature without stirring.
  5. Once cupcakes are cooled, use a cookie scoop or small spoon to remove small portion of the middle of each cupcake. Spoon cooled and thickened lemon curd into a small ziplock bag, seal, then snip one corner and pipe into the well of each cupcake. 
  6. For frosting, in a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, egg whites, water and cream of tartar. With a portable mixer, beat on low speed for 1 minute. Continue beating on low over low heat until frosting reaches 160°, about 10 minutes.
  7. DO NOT ADD COCONUT! 🙂 Transfer to a large bowl; add vanilla. Beat on high until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes. 
  8. Spoon icing into another ziplock bag and similarly cut off a corner to pipe the frosting on top of each cupcake, hiding the lemon curd inside.
  9. Sprinkle all cupcakes with coconut.

Store in the refrigerator. Yields approximately 36 cupcakes.

Enjoy your Food For Thought Friday – and your cupcakes! 🙂

Don’t forget to tell Craig Happy 32nd on Sunday!

Love Y’all,
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What's Up Wednesday

Big Surprises For The Birthday Boy!

WednesdayEeeek! Only a few more days until my husband’s special birthday extravaganza begins!! Can you tell I’m excited?!?!?!

Two Very Special Birthdays Ago

I have SUCH a special weekend planned, and I am BURSTING to share everything with him! (Good thing he’s out of town, so it’s easier to keep my secret!)

Of course, until tomorrow when Craig returns home…I have a TON to do – errands to run, things to bake, places to go, coolers to fill, clothes to pack  Oops! Did I say that?!?! 🙂 Tonight is church – for which I am super excited – but then it’s time to head home and finish making all the last minute preparations!

Just wait until next week when we get to share all of the details and pictures with you! Promise you it’ll be worth the wait! 🙂

In other news, we have our summer vacation planned!! TO THE BEACH WE GO!!!! I found a heckuvah deal on Groupon, and we booked our room today at Majestic Beach Resort! By mid-July, our view will be like this…

…and I cannot wait! There is nothing like crashing waves on the beach, fresh seafood, and a summer glow to make everything better!

Don’t forget to wish Craig a Happy Birthday on Sunday! He’ll be the big 3-2!

xoxo

 

 

My Choice Monday

What’s For Dinner??

MondayWelcome to Monday!! Hopefully, all of you had wonderful weekends! We definitely did!!

This morning I was blessed with a beautiful surprise, and the entire course of this morning’s post changed! My sweet little grandmother from New Jersey called and let me know she flew into town and is in Atlanta! How exciting! Craig is still in town, so we are meeting her this evening after work and taking her to dinner.

Now, this sudden scenario may not seem an ‘issue’ to any of you, but yours truly is a PLANNER with a capital “P”, and immediately, my mind has gone into overdrive:

STOPSo, in your neighborhood, where would you take a surprise out of town guest for a casual, yet classy, not loud dinner? (Seriously, we want your answers below in the comments! You just never know when YOU will be in another town and not know where to eat…and I don’t mean a big chain restaurant either!)

Here are a few ideas in some of our favorite cities:

Empire State South – This little gem in the heart of Midtown Atlanta not only is a go-to for dinner. They offer breakfast, brunch and lunch, as well – not to mention some delicious desserts and libations! It’s a classy, casual setting – and perfect for out-of-town guests, as many of it’s food options are regionally delicious.

 

OK Cafe – While not even close to ‘fancy’, this is an Atlanta classic with DELICIOUS food and if you’re in the mood for comfort in a diner setting, this is the place to go! Breakfast, lunch, dinner, take-away – it’s all awesome! I highly recommend the Rocket Burger. Yum!

Pompeii Pizza – Located in Elk River, Minnesota (about an hour outside of the Twin Cities), we read rave reviews about this local pizzeria in Midwest Living magazine – and just had to try it out. It was delightful – This Italian girl can attest to pizza worth ‘wasting’ calories on, and this is it! Not only were their pizza and salads yummy, Craig found some local brews he was pretty impressed with, as well!

Chatterbox Pub – This neighborhood bar/restaurant in St. Paul, MN, will always remind me of our dating days. It’s one of the first places I went with Craig & his family, one of the first visits I ever made to Minnesota – fond memories for sure! 🙂 The food was tasty; the drinks were satisfying and there were even games to play while you waited for your food. Perfect!

The Mash House – This brewery/restaurant came highly recommended by my parents on a trip to the town in which I spent a good portion of my childhood – Fayetteville, North Carolina. Craig and I paid them a visit last year and were in no way disappointed! Steaks, shrimp, pasta, fish, sandwiches, burgers, salads, brewed-in-house beer… We may just go back simply to eat there again!


 

What are your go-to restaurants? Let us know, and we just may meet you there for a bite!

You’ll have to wait until later this week to find out just where we eat tonight with Grandma Flo! 🙂

xoxo

What's Up Wednesday

An Early Christmas At Our House

Wednesday

Hello everyone!

It has been a little while since I have written anything on the blog, so I decided that I would sit down and take some time on ‘What’s Up Wednesday’ to give a little bit of info on what has been going on.

Usually you see some pictures of the latest project I have been working on (for quite some time) and that being the cheval mirror for my wife. I am glad to say that the mirror part is finished so we have at least a full length mirror available!

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It may sound silly to take on another project while I am finishing this one, but I find that working on another gets me motivated to work on the other, because I always reach a point where glue or a finish needs to dry, and then I can switch to the other one and keep going.

I decided to build a jewelry box for my wife, which I thought would be a pleasant surprise for her. I have no clue what I said that clued her in, though, because she straight out asked if I was building one! I could not keep it from her because I was so shocked that she guessed, that I knew I could not hide it in my expression!

Sunday we celebrated a little bit of Christmas early, and exchanged our “big gifts” with each other. This is only the start of our Christmas celebrating, as we have our stocking stuffers and Christmas dinner on Friday, and then we will celebrate with family after that! It will definitely be busy next week!

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Pier picked out the perfect gifts for me!  I will share a couple of them! I received a red and green plaid flannel shirt, which will be the perfect and warm shirt to wear on Christmas! After opening that, she gave me this HUGE box. Although it was not heavy for its size, I began to open it and I soon realized that there was another box inside wrapped up… and I opened that to find another and another and another and another and another! I never thought it would be 7 boxes to open!! Just for her to find 7 boxes to fit perfectly inside one another must of taken months!

Once I finally got down to the actual gift box I opened it and found a Citizen Eco-Drive Skyhawk Blue Angels edition watch! I was fascinated by the fact that it set itself to the correct time with radio waves right then and there and later I read the “mini book” called an instruction manual and found out the many other features of this watch including the E6-B computer on the face dial of the watch! Pilots will know exactly what I am talking about! Also, no batteries to replace as it is charged by any light source and will run 6 months in complete darkness with a full battery!

I loved watching Pier open her gifts.  As some of you know, my wife has an amazing voice and I love to hear her sing. The best thing is she loves to sing, so I get to hear her often! I decided to get her a whole home recording and vocal system. I watched her smile as she opened the boxes containing the pro grade speaker,  song database of 17,000 songs, 2 pro microphones (one for me so we can sing together!) and a mixing board and cables! It is unfair if only I get to hear her, so I also included a special recording mic and audio interface so  we can record her singing!! I am sure that she will have some songs on the blog in the future!  We have already used both systems and I will say she sounds amazing on them!

Well, I need to get back down to the workshop and finish Pier’s jewelry box! We hope you all have a wonderful day, and join us again tomorrow for Thirsty For Christ Thursday!

Love,
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My Choice Monday

MY CHOICE Monday

MondayGood Morning All!

Welcome to the first week of our new blogging format, and to My Choice Monday! This week’s edition is going to be a little bit overzealous due to some great finds this weekend – Craig and I have three recommendations today!

  1. Vaseline Lip Therapy Rosy Lips I found this little gem at our local Target the other day, and apparently, I was unbelievably lucky. This product has been available in the UK for quite awhile, but is hard to find in the US – of course. At $1.99, this is the best  lip balm around – not to mention the amazing and light rosewater scent. I have found it works well as a base for lipstick, as well as over lip stick for a hint of shine. And that leftover bit on your fingertip? Dab it on the insides of your wrists prior to applying your perfume (adds longevity to your fragrance), or simply alone for a very faint but beautiful rose scent. Click on the image above to go straight to Amazon to pay a little bit more for a two-pack if you can’t find this at your local Target, CVS or Wal-Mart! It’s worth it!
  2. Handel’s Messiah                                                                                                     piercraigmessiah12713Ring in your Christmas season by going to see this unbelievable performance wherever you may reside! Craig surprised me on Saturday morning by hopping out of bed around 8AM, rustling around downstairs, and returning with coffee and an early Christmas gift – tickets to Handel’s Messiah, performed by the ASO, and dinner reservations – which will sum up today’s final recommendation. I’m sorry girls, but I got him – the most wonderful husband in the world – and I’m never letting go! 😉 Here’s a little preview of a chorus from the Messiah you all should know. The live performance of this brought tears to my eyes. If this is so beautiful here on earth, I cannot even begin to imagine the glory of the songs the choirs of angels sing in Heaven. This performance felt like a foretaste.

    I couldn’t find a version on YouTube with the ASO, but this is a more than adequate example.

  3. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar                                                                  craigdinner12713Dinner at Fleming’s was the other half of my early Christmas surprise, and boy, did we find a new favorite “special occasion” restaurant! Not only do they have more than 100 different glasses of wine to choose from, they provide an iPad to every table to help with pairing your wine to your meal – or specific course, in our case! Plus, (Men, I’m talking to you!) notice the prime bone-in ribeye on my husband’s plate. He did, indeed, eat the whole thing, and we had some happy doggies when we got home! Fleming’s is a ‘chain’, much like Ruth’s Chris or Morton’s Steakhouse, but in our opinion, WAY BETTER! We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and our experience at Fleming’s! Click on the link above to see if there is a location in your area, and if not, come visit us in Atlanta. We wouldn’t hesitate to return!

Hope you all had a great weekend, and enjoyed today’s recommendations! Join us again tomorrow for TTC Tuesday! Oh, and did you notice our new domain name? We are officially newlywedlefebvres.com !

xoxo,

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