Friday, June 29, 2018

Firecracker Cookies


4th of July is right around the corner, with many BBQs and parties happening this weekend. I always love a festive treat, and these firecracker cookies are just that - complete with red, white & blue sprinkles and white chocolate chips.


ingredients
1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 package vanilla pudding mix
1 cup sprinkles
2 cups white chocolate chips


directions
{1}
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a stand mixer, combine butter and sugars until smooth. Add vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time.
{2}
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and dry pudding mix.
{3}
Slowly add flour mixture to the stand mixer, stopping halfway to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
{4}
Mix in sprinkles and white chocolate chips.
{5}
Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, place dough on a baking sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until soft in the center and edges and golden brown and slightly chewy. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

First Trimester Recap

{Baby Buckman at 12 weeks}

Now that I've made it through the first trimester of pregnancy and finally announced our exciting news to more than just our family and closest friends, I can share a little more about my experience.  Today I am reflecting on the first three months, including when I found out, how we told our parents and all the symptoms in between.

I found out I was pregnant on March 26th after being five days late. I really didn't want to get my hopes up since I was anything but regular after going off the pill at the end of November, but decided it was time to find out one way or another. That morning, I took a test first thing and was absolutely shocked when the digital screen read "pregnant"!! I promptly took two more tests to be sure. Greg was already at work and I was bursting at the seams to tell him, but didn't want to tell him over the phone. Luckily I didn't have to wait all day before sharing the good news with him. He picked me up from work for a lunch date and as soon as I said the words, "I'm pregnant!" out loud I started crying! Greg was equal parts surprised and excited! It was so nice to have a mini celebration with him and keep the secret just between us for a little bit.

We told my parents a couple days later. They sold their home and closed at the end of March. Greg and I went over to their house to help pack up the last few things the night before closing. It was a very emotional and tearful goodbye to my childhood home, but that night over takeout at our place, I told them the news. They were both ecstatic! It was the perfect way to close one chapter and begin another.

Our first ultrasound appointment was on April 30th, at almost 10 weeks. Seeing the heartbeat on the monitor was a truly unforgettable experience. Greg squeezed my leg as we saw our little baby kicking its feet. We waited until Mother's Day to tell Greg's family so we could do it in person. We gave Greg's mom a card with the first ultrasound photo inside. We both expected tears but I guess she already had a hunch that I was pregnant so she wasn't nearly as surprised. It was so nice to share our news and celebrate the holiday together.

To be totally honest, as excited as I am, the first trimester was pretty rough. Luckily I didn't vomit like some women, but I had morning sickness that lasted all. day. long. I've never eaten so many Goldfish crackers in my life - it's literally the only thing that sounded appetizing when I was nauseous at all hours of the day and night. I also had frequent headaches and unbearable migraines! The exhaustion and lack of energy was crazy - I was tired all the time. I would fall asleep on the couch every night before 8pm, and sleep until my 6am alarm (with multiple bathroom trips in between!) I have never been much of a nap person, but my weekends were spent napping on and off.

Exercising has been a huge part of my lifestyle, but was really on the backburner throughout the first trimester. I had barely enough energy to take a walk or practice yoga. The few times I did muster up enough energy to lift weights, I would be out of breath so quickly and had to modify my workouts. I'm really looking forward to the second trimester, hopefully with less nausea and more stamina! I'm currently 15 weeks and finally starting to feel like myself again.

On top of not feeling well, there are a lot of things that I've had to give up, especially on the food and drink front. Raw sushi has been at the top of the list of hardest foods to avoid, and I completely cut out my daily cup of coffee! I was not a big alcohol drinker to begin with, but going to Coachella a couple weeks after I found out made the experience very interesting. (For the record, the photo of me holding a beer at the festival was totally staged with my friend's drink!)

Greg has been a huge support system for me throughout this journey so far, between offering up back rubs, coming with me to the doctor's appointments, dealing with my crazy hormones and indulging my cravings for Chick-fil-A. We could not be more excited to become parents and I can't wait to start this new chapter of our lives together! I have seen how amazing he is with our nieces and nephews and know he is going to be the BEST dad! Baby Buckman is due at the beginning of December, and I'm so excited to experience the holidays with our new bundle of joy!

Friday, June 1, 2018

PREGNANT!


I am thrilled to announce that Greg and I are expecting! Baby Buckman is due in early December!
This has been the hardest secret to keep and we are so excited to finally share the news!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Curry Cauliflower Couscous


While in California for work last month, one of our vendors ordered everyone lunch to the office from Mendocino Farms, with an assortment of sandwiches, a big salad and a side of the most delicious curry couscous with roasted cauliflower. After returning back to Florida, one of my co-workers found a copy-cat recipe of the dish we all couldn't stop raving about. I promptly made it for Greg and my parents and it was a huge hit! Easy to throw together, super flavorful and made a ton for leftovers!

ingredients
1 (1-pound) box couscous (or orzo)
1 head cauliflower, florets broken into pieces
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, more to taste
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more to taste
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, more to taste
3 tablespoons oil
2 small carrots, peeled, finely diced
1 cup mayo
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 lime, juiced

directions
{1}
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cook couscous according to package instructions. Rinse in cold water, drain well, and set aside in a large bowl.
{2}
In a separate bowl, toss the cauliflower and carrots with the curry powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne, brown sugar and oil. Spread out on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes, until edges are browned but still crunchy.
{3}
Add cauliflower and carrots to the couscous and fold in the mayo, cilantro and lime juice. Taste, and adjust spices and seasoning if needed. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve. Enjoy!


Monday, April 30, 2018

Coachella


Earlier this month, I spent a week in California for a work trip to visit a few of our surf vendors and preview the Spring 2019 collection. A couple of my co-workers and I decided to stay through the weekend to attend the Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival. I had always regretted not going to Coachella while I lived in LA, so it was the perfect opportunity to check it off my bucket list. It definitely did not disappoint!

Tiffany, Ashley and I stayed in Palm Springs at the Kimpton Rowan Hotel. We took a shuttle to the festival on Friday and Saturday and skipped Sunday since we had a red-eye flight back to Florida. The art inside the festival was so cool and different - my favorite was the wire-caged buildings that looked like an optical illusion when photographed. The people-watching was next-level, with tons of outfit inspiration. The amount of food vendors was unreal - anything you could ever want, they had. My favorites were the vegan ice cream (cookies & cream with caramel - yum!) and my first Shake Shack experience.

On Friday, we made it to festival around 5pm, just in time to catch Greta Van Fleet, Bleachers, Kygo and my all-time favorite, The Weeknd! He absolutely killed his 2-hour set, playing all of my favorite songs and his voice sounded incredible. I spent his entire show dancing and singing at the top of my lungs! His performance honestly made the entire festival worth it for me! We finally made it back to our hotel at 3am, hoping to sleep in but we were all still on east-coast time and were wide awake to do it all again by 8am!

We spent Saturday morning brunching in downtown Palm Springs and made our way to Coachella around 4pm. We spent some time taking photos, hanging out in the beer garden, then watched Borns, Post Malone and attempted to see Beyoncé. The festival started to get packed around 8pm when everyone began flooding in for Beyoncé. Initially we had a great spot to watch her performance, but as it got closer, it got so congested that my 5'2 self couldn't see anything but the back of other people's heads. Beyoncé was 30 minutes late to her 11pm set, which made the crowd really ancy. When she finally hit the stage, I tried watching a nearby fan's video on his phone since I couldn't even see the screens. After she sang "Drunk In Love" we decided to call it a night and beat the rush back to the shuttle pick up.

On Sunday we found another good brunch spot with bottomless mimosas and went to a pool party at the Ace Hotel. After a few hours lounging by the pool, we made our way back to our hotel and hung out on the rooftop before heading to the airport. It was the perfect way to end the weekend, just relaxing and soaking up the Palm Springs sun. It was an unforgettable trip, both the work half and Coachella!















Thursday, December 28, 2017

Looking Back at 2017


Wow! What a year it's been! Despite the multiple natural disasters, senseless gun violence and scary political scene, I'm focusing on the positives as I look back at 2017.

Personally, it was the best year ever as I became Mrs. Buckman! Our wedding day (and week in Key West!) was absolutely perfect and even better than I could have dreamed! Greg and I thoroughly enjoyed our honeymoon, and just got settled into our new place beachside.

Professionally, it was a great year as I grew into my role as the Associate Buyer of Accessories. Every day at work is different, which is both challenging and exciting. I'm looking forward to seeing my custom designs and curated collections in our stores next year.

Between work, wedding planning, moving, and adjusting to newlywed life, my blog took a backseat this year. I am continuously trying to find the perfect balance, but it's a work in progress. One of my goals for 2018 is prioritizing what is most important in life - more family time and walks on the beach, less social media and Netflix.

2017 was built on a lot of love and laughter, and I'm beyond grateful for the amazing people in my life that made it so special. Cheers to the memories we've made this year and hoping 2018 is filled with many more! Hope you all have a safe and happy New Year!

Friday, December 22, 2017

10.7.17 BEST DAY EVER


I previously shared a quick recap of our wedding here but now that we've received our professional photographs, I wanted to do a larger post with more details of our big day. It was really difficult to narrow down to just some of my favorites - Alyssa Morgan, captured our day beautifully! Looking back through these photos makes me want to relive that magical day over and over again! Not pictured: the epic dance-off at Sloppy Joe's after the reception!

Below is our wedding story from my perspective. It's long and you can totally skip ahead to the photos but I wanted to share my experience for my benefit more than anything. This blog is my outlet and provides a time-capsule of my most treasured memories so why not tell it all.

On September 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida. The news and weather coverage in the days leading up had me a nervous wreck as the storm was projected to pass right over our venue in Key West. The thought of all of our wedding plans from the past year coming to a screeching hault (and the massive destruction that impacted the entire state, countless homes and families) gave me a literal panic attack at work. Irma narrowly missed Key West but the middle Keys were hit extremely hard, and therefore access was prohibited following the storm. My wedding coordinator, Peggy, and I were on the phone every day anxiously waiting to hear an update from officials if the bridges and roads were safe and if we would be able to enter the Keys for our wedding less than a month away. Peggy was an absolute life-saver and made alternate arrangements for our venue, caterer and florist in Miami just in case we wouldn't be able to have our dream wedding come to life. Thankfully just one week from the big day, the mayor lifted the travel ban. To say we were relieved would be the understatement of the century. At that point, I honestly didn't even care about the details, all that mattered was that we were getting married in Key West with all of our family and friends surrounding us!

The week prior to the wedding involved a lot of baking, packing and relaxing. Greg and I did not want a traditional wedding, and chose to have more personal and sentimental touches. Case in point: no wedding cake! If you know me (or are a regular reader of my blog) you know that cookies are my thing, thanks to my beloved Grammy Audrey. Most of my fondest memories with her are in the kitchen eating cookie dough out of the bowl. For the wedding, I baked my grandma's famous oatmeal cookies, along with mine and Greg's favorites - chocolate chip & sea salt and white chocolate macadamia nut. It took hours, but I had so much fun baking hundreds of homemade cookies for our guests that would honor her legacy.

The day before we left to head down to the Keys, my mom and I had a spa day - complete with massages, facials, mani/pedis and eyelash extensions. It was such a relaxing and indulgent day that we both really needed! On Wednesday, we packed up my dad's truck full of food, booze, and the cookies, while my gown took up the entire back seat of my car. Greg and I decided to drive separately at the last minute and looking back, I'm so glad we did. It was such a special time for the two of us, chatting and laughing the entire 7 hour drive. Once we hit the Keys though, it was incredibly somber. Mountains of debris lined both sides of the road - not just downed tree limbs, but people's belongings, pieces of their homes. Our hearts were breaking for the Conch Republic residents that lost everything. Truthfully though, Key West needed us there. We were the first wedding in Key West after Irma and our vendors were so grateful that we didn't cancel or postpone because they needed our business to help keep them and their employees afloat.

My parents rented a huge house just outside downtown Key West. We had seen pictures of it online and it was even more amazing in person! It was the perfect place for all of our guests to come hang out - whether they wanted to lay by the pool, swim under the grotto, or relax with a drink at the bar in the living room. It became home-base for everyone with an open-door policy that made for a very laid-back atmosphere. There were 12 of us staying at the house so it was a constant party! Greg and I had the master suite and it was so nice to be able to escape the craziness if we needed a quiet minute to ourselves. Thursday night we did the Duval Crawl and bar-hopped around downtown Key West - it was a blast! Friday night after the rehearsal, we had everyone over at the house for a pizza and pool party which was so much fun!

On Saturday, Greg and I spent the morning in bed with coffee and exchanged our wedding day gifts. Everyone staying at the house made egg sandwiches for breakfast and we ate outside on the patio. Greg and I started getting ready together but once my girlfriends showed up, we kicked him out while the girls got ready upstairs. My talented bestie Emilee gave me a gorgeous blowout and waves, but thanks to the humidity and rain shower an hour prior to the ceremony, my hair fell out within 10 minutes! Greg and I decided not to have bridesmaids and groomsmen and I'm so happy we did. I still spent the afternoon laughing, drinking champagne and getting ready with my mom, sister, aunt, cousins, and my 3 best friends - but without all the drama and matching dresses.

I did a "First Look" with both my dad and with Greg and it was so special to see both of their reactions. Greg cried when he saw me as his bride, and it was the sweetest thing ever. He couldn't keep his eyes off of me. My dad was speechless for the first time ever and we both laughed through the tears!

After taking photos with our photographer, we all hung out around the bar and waited for the trolley to take everyone to the venue. Once we got to the Audubon House, my dad and I hid inside the gift shop until the ceremony started. I had butterflies in my stomach waiting to walk down the aisle as I heard "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" start playing. It was so surreal! I'll never forget the look on my mom's face as I rounded the corner. The ceremony was the most special part of our wedding. We asked my Aunt Patty to officiate - she's one of our favorite people, she has the biggest heart, a contagious laugh, and has known us as a couple since the beginning. Her ceremony was beautiful and we are honored that she married us. Just before saying the vows we each wrote, a rooster crashed the wedding and hopped on stage with us! It was so funny and classic Key West, and it immediately relaxed our nerves.

After taking family portraits, our 45 guests went off to cocktail hour while Greg, Alyssa and I took a victory lap around Mallory Square and Duval Street at sunset. When we reminisced on the day and talked about our favorite part of the wedding, we both said dinner. The food was so delicious and we enjoyed having a little time just the two of us at our sweetheart table. After the toasts and speeches, we all headed to the dance floor. Greg and I had our First Dance to Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud," my dad serenaded me with "My Girl" by the Temptations, and Greg and his mom Susan danced to "Days Like This" by Van Morrison. It was insanely hot (October in Florida!) and we were all drenched in sweat by the end of the night, but that did not stop us from dancing! We ended the night with cookies and had jars of maple syrup as favors. We got engaged in Vermont, where my mom grew up and her family owns a maple syrup farm there.

Our wedding was more perfect than I could have ever imagined, thanks to our family, friends, and vendors who pulled it all off post-Irma! Everyone says your wedding day flies by in a minute so I did my best to really live in the moment. With a destination wedding, it felt like the entire weekend was our wedding since it was a little vacation for everyone. We had the best time celebrating with our favorite people, and most of all, I couldn't be happier to spend forever with my best friend.


Thank you to our amazing vendors!
Photography - Alyssa Morgan Photography
Venue - Audubon House & Tropical Gardens
Caterer - Key West Catering Company
Florist - Karro Events & Floral
Wedding Coordinator - Destination Wedding Studio
Wedding Gown - Maggie Sottero from Aurora Bridal







  






















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