Classic Moscow Mule

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I’ve been slowly but surely checking things off my “30 while 30” list (more on that soon) and one of my favorite things to come of it is definitely my new cocktail BFF, the Moscow Mule. I mean, what’s not to like about a classy copper mug full of delicious ginger/lime/booze?

I actually got a set of the copper mugs for Christmas last year but seeing how I was pregnant, didn’t get to use them for a while. So as part of my “make a few classic cocktails that I haven’t tried for some crazy reason” resolution, the mule was at the top of my list.

How have I lived without this drink for so long? Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but y’all, I  really truly enjoy it. This has become my go-to drink when I’ve had a long day and the kids are in bed. As long as we have ginger beer in the fridge, that is. Mmm…ginger beer… Maybe it’s time to bust out those copper mugs again. Definitely think I’ll need a drink tonight to get through Election Day.😉

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Oh, and I had to share this totally real life photo of trying to set up a photo with a curious 2 year old in the mix! …Mom, what are you doing? Can I have some? (she actually does like to drink out of the copper cup when I let her, lol)

Classic Moscow Mule

Ingredients:
1.5 fluid ounces vodka
1/2 fluid ounce lime juice
1/2 cup ginger beer
Ice cubes
Lime slices/wedges for garnish

Yield: 1 drink

Directions:
Pour the vodka and lime juice into a mug; add the ice cubes and ginger beer. Stir to combine. Add a lime slice or wedge into the mug for garnish. Enjoy!

Source: All Recipes

Catching Up

Well hello there! Long time no blog and for that I apologize. Or at least wonder where the last two months have gone because I know I wrote more recently than that…right? Oops, wrong.

I should write a bunch of detailed posts about what we’ve been up to lately but I’m still getting my gears grinding so a haphazard update with a few pics will have to do. Here goes nothing!

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We had my grandmother’s memorial in Dallas and it was beautiful. I was surprisingly not as emotional as I’d expected, partly because I had my hands full with the kids I’m sure. But also I think because I had such closure with getting to say goodbye to her, had no regrets about the time we had together along with visiting her many times while her health was starting to decline, and of course knowing that she’s with Jesus now. All eight of her kids were able to be there so it made for quite a fun family reunion afterwards. Grandma Bonnie, I miss you dearly but know that I’ll see you again soon enough.

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On a more upbeat and unexpected note, Jason and I got to attend the Coldplay concert when they came to DFW. Long story short…I called and won a little Coldplay prize pack on the radio and was then entered into the drawing for the grand prize tickets plus a meet & greet with the band. I stopped by the station office to get my guaranteed prize but while I was there, found out that I was the grand prize winner for the show the next night! Mind blown. They proceeded to whisk me (and baby Catherine) away to their studio upstairs to record my “live” reaction and a little promo spot. Thankfully I was able to get help from family to watch the girls while Jason and I enjoyed a last minute date night and boy was it one for the books! We arrived at AT&T Stadium and got a full tour of the facilities by the band manager, were able to go on stage, ate a delicious dinner with the tour crew (including Chris Martin, whaaaat!?), had a quick meet & greet with the whole band, then enjoyed a truly amazing performance. Is this real life??? What an amazing night it was. I’m glad I made that one impromptu phone call while at a red light on the way to Hobby Lobby!

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Speaking of hobbies…there’s one thing (besides married life and the kiddos) that’s consumed my life as of late. Cookies y’all. My life is overflowing with cookies. I could post a bazillion photos of the projects I’ve done lately but will give you one quick photo collage instead. (Lots of photos can be found on my cookie FB page if you’re curious!) Business is definitely booming which has made life crazy but amazing. It’s been a balancing act and learning experience for sure, figuring out how to prioritize with my other obligations and responsibilities but I’m loving it. Minus the late nights, but that’s what coffee is for right? And I have a baby anyways, so what’s a little extra sleep deprivation a few nights a week? PS: I’m thankful for moms and word of mouth, because kids birthday parties have apparently become my market lately!

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Jason and I were able to attend the Encounter Young Adult Conference down near Houston a few weeks ago. Clare stayed with family while Catherine tagged along with us and it was a truly beautiful and enriching weekend full of great speakers and break out sessions plus lots of time for fellowship and the ever important Sacraments too. I saw lots of familiar young adult faces and even got to finally meet an online friend in person. (hi Andrea!) All in all, it was a much needed getaway to recharge my spiritual batteries. Props to Steubenville and Adore Ministries for hosting this great event!

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Something that Jason and I have felt called to pursue and finally took the plunge to start is a weekly “family dinner”. We knew about it from friends in Houston who established the concept a while back in their area where basically you give an open invitation to folks (usually it’s a young adult/family scene) to come over one night a week for dinner. The host family provides the main dish and everyone that comes brings a side or dessert. Come if you can, no need to RSVP, and bring the whole family plus other friends you think would like to attend. We really wanted to build community and friendships in our area including our actual neighbors in the neighborhood. So if you’re ever in Fort Worth on a Friday night and want to join, just let me know! (PS: that photo isn’t at our house, but at a family dinner in Houston we attended recently! Maybe someday our backyard will be that awesome.😉 )

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Lastly, today is our 8th wedding anniversary! My how time flies. I could’ve swore it was just last month that I was 21 and saying “I do”. Jason has a surprise dinner out planned for tonight while my MIL watches the girls, so I’m super pumped for that. Love you Jason – here’s to many many many more!

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Other things we’ve been up to but I don’t want to make this a novel include: Jason’s 31st Birthday, lots of play dates and story time at the library, painting our guest bathroom and updating our front and back garden beds, and us girls going to the Luke’s Diner promo event for the upcoming Gilmore Girls episodes. Life has surely been busy but beautiful!

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The Heavy and Light of World Youth Day

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I’ve been home from our World Youth Day pilgrimage for about 2 weeks now and am (mostly) caught up on sleep and back to our regular routine. I’ve also had some time to ponder my WYD experience plus the highs and lows of this pilgrimage of life.

Before leaving overseas, I listened to Switchfoot’s new album on repeat and a line of one song hit me hard. In “Heavy and Light”, Jon Foreman sings, “On my pilgrimage, I’m traveling light with the heavy heart. On my pilgrimage, I’m traveling light and heavy.”

That lyric was stuck in my head during our entire pilgrimage and I’ve realized it reflects my experience with both World Youth Days I’ve attended. Let me explain…

I went to WYD in Rio de Janeiro back in 2013. At that point, Jason and I had been struggling with infertility for about 5 years. I’d just had surgery a month prior to the trip which did a major endometriosis clean up and I had no idea what the future held in terms of being able to have children. I was holding on to hope but deep down, tried not to get those hopes too high since I’d already been disappointed over and over again. During that pilgrimage, I insist that mama Mary was stalking me (another story for another day) and by the end of our journey, I’d found incredible peace in God’s plan and will for my life, whatever that might be and according to His perfect timing. It was a huge turning point for me and I felt like most of that heavy weight on my shoulders had been lifted. Then sure enough, we were able to conceive our sweet Clare right when we returned home and went on to have no problem getting pregnant with Catherine. I’d gone to Rio with a heavy and uncertain heart but God made it light and revealed his beautiful plan with our long awaited children.

Fast forward to 2016 and our recent WYD pilgrimage to Krakow. I went into our travels with a heavy heart once again. My grandmother (the only living grandparent on my side of the family) was seemingly in her last days when we departed. Thankfully we were able to visit her before leaving and say what we thought could be our last goodbyes. Traveling overseas, knowing that your family, especially your mother, is going through such a difficult time, is tough. I honestly had a feeling that she would pass away while we were gone and sure enough, while at the airport in Rome heading to our next leg of the trip in Prague, I got the dreaded news.

Talk about a heavy heart. I shed some tears right away and got hugs and comfort from my husband, but I had my hands so full with the girls that it was hard to fully enter into the fresh grief and mourning. I only told a few people in our group and just wanted to keep the sorrow private and not make it into a huge ordeal.

While I hated being away from my family, being on pilgrimage was a pretty great second best place to be and truly helped lighten my heart. I was able to pray at countless holy sites and plus, it being the Year of Mercy and visiting the city that promulgated so much of Christ’s divine mercy was ideal for the tough situation. So while my World Youth Day experiences have certainly been fun and exciting, they’ve also been met with a heavy heart along the way. Thankfully, we have a Lord who promises to ease our burdens, carry our yoke, and turn our heavy hearts light on this pilgrimage that we call life.

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

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Pesto sauce is one of my favorites – between eating it with pasta, using it as a pizza sauce, and spreading it on sandwiches, I can’t get enough! This dish is a favorite simple go-to meal in our house that even Clare enjoys.

Just cook some jumbo pasta shells, stuff them with a combination of shredded chicken, mozzarella, and pesto, and bake them for about 10 minutes. If you have some extra garlic on hand, feel free to add that too. (it’s hard to have too much garlic, in my opinion)

You can eat them as they are or drizzle with some extra pesto sauce. Serve with a salad or vegetable and enjoy this delicious meal!

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:
12 jumbo pasta shells
2 1/2 cups shredded chicken (about 3 chicken breasts)
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
5-6 Tbsp pesto sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
Salt and pepper
Parmesan and basil for garnish (optional)

Yield: 4-6 servings (12 shells)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cook the jumbo shells in boiling water for 9 minutes, or according to the package directions. Drain, rinse, and set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, combine the shredded chicken, mozzarella, pesto sauce, salt, pepper, and additional garlic if wanted. Mix until well combined.

Stuff a spoonful of the mixture into each shell. Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray and line up the shells. Bake them for 10-12 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Garnish with grated parmesan, fresh basil, or extra pesto sauce if wanted. Serve while hot and enjoy!

Source: A Becky Original

Watermelon Lemonade Boozy Popsicles

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For a refreshing grown up treat this summer, make some simple alcoholic popsicles! The fresh watermelon and lemon are the perfect combination of sweet and tart and the tequila gives it a nice punch. We had extra watermelon and couldn’t eat it fast enough so these were the perfect solution. Just make sure to hide them in the back of the freezer, because if spotted by a toddler, they’ll want one for sure. Just trust me on that one.😉

If you want the refreshing fruit flavor without the booze, simply substitute 1/4 cup water or lemon lime soda for the tequila and triple sec. You could also make these with lime zest/juice instead of lemon. Enjoy and hope you’re staying cool this summer!

Watermelon Lemonade Boozy Popsicles

Ingredients:
3 cups cubed watermelon
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup tequila
2 Tbsp triple sec

Yield: 6-8 popsicles

Directions:
In a blender, blend together the watermelon, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, tequila, and triple sec until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl, discarding any solids and seeds left behind.

Pour watermelon mixture into popsicle mold or paper cups then insert wooden sticks. Freeze until firm, preferably overnight.

Source: Chocolate Moosey

30 While 30

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Well, I just turned 30. It was a simple but sweet celebration filled with family time, Shiner beer, and my mom’s classic strawberry shortcake. Hello new decade, so long 20’s. You’ve been real. You’ve been great. You’ve been really great. (name that movie, anyone?)

I’ve seen a lot of folks make lists of goals “30 by 30” style but 29 year old Becky couldn’t get that together in time. So I’ve decided to make my own list of 30 things I want to do while 30. Sharing this will hopefully help keep me accountable and I’ll post updates along the way (maybe monthly?), marking things off the list as I go. This year is going to rock, I can already tell – can’t wait to share it with yall!

1. Read (at least) 5 new books

2. Run a 5k again

3. Travel to new places, near and far

4. Meet my cookie business profit goal for the year

5. Expand my garden in the backyard

6. Donate to some charities/causes that I feel passionately about

7. Try some new cocktails (including some classics that I’ve never tasted)

8. Lose 30+ lbs from birth weight

9. Learn how to make macarons (I tried once and failed miserably!)

10. Make new friends and keep the old

11. Host the 12th night (Epiphany) party that I’ve wanted to for years

12. Finally try out my Italian stovetop espresso maker

13. Get a new pair of glasses

14. Donate 100+ ounces of milk to the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North TX

15. Write my conversion story

16. Visit 2 breweries

17. Read the entire Old Testament

18. Learn to make gumbo & jambalaya

19. Pray 5 novenas

20. Learn more about how to do makeup – maybe try to rock some bold lipstick?

21. Plan a super cute 2017 birthday party for my May babies

22. Write 12 handwritten letters to friends/family

23. Learn how to do at least one cute braid hairstyle

24. Go somewhere fun with my mom

25. Watch a few classic movies that I’ve never seen

26. Clean out my closet & dresser

27. Do something special for local police/firefighters as a thank you

28. Learn how to make fresh pasta

29. Plan a fun surprise date night for me and Jason

30. Do 6 random acts of cookie kindness

And who knows what else will be in store along the way? I look forward to finding out!

Invited: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner – Book Review & Giveaway

For several years, I worked in the hospitality industry at hotels doing event coordination among other things. Weddings were always fun to help plan and oversee but as you can imagine, I saw a little bit of everything over the years, moments both beautiful and crazy. So when I saw that the lovely blogger, Stephanie Calis, had written a book named “Invited: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner”, I was intrigued. She was lovely enough to send me a copy to review and I’ve just gotta say – I loved it!

My first thought was “Why didn’t they have a book like this when I was getting married?”. I said “I do” almost 8 years ago and while I don’t think I did a terrible job planning our wedding and reception, a resource like “Invited” would have been beyond beneficial to have along the way to keep me on track and make sure I didn’t forget anything. I absolutely recommend this book to any Catholic couple that’s preparing for marriage and honestly, engaged couples in general. There’s so much helpful information for planning any wedding, especially if you’re not sure where to start.

On the practical side, there are extremely helpful checklists and guidelines included to help keep you organized along the way along with resources for further information on a variety of topics. It helps you navigate planning the wedding mass and reception, plus the wedding preparation process itself. There’s also a section from the groom’s point of view and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter which really help make it a well rounded resource. “Invited” also provides the Catholic Rite of Marriage and samples for important things like invitations and programs.

On the spiritual side, this book seriously emphasizes the fact that as a Catholic, your marriage is a Sacrament and points your focus to the lifelong vocation rather than only the one day and event. One of my favorite lines in the book says, “It’s your spouse, not your stuff, that makes a marriage” which is a great reminder of your priorities when preparing for the big day and your life together afterwards. “Invited” also delves into the hard but necessary topics such as cohabitation and contraception and also the deeper topics of authentic love, beauty, and dignity. There is great advice throughout the book about navigating the difficult parts of wedding planning like family disagreements/drama and offers advice on how to keep peace in your life during this exciting but stressful time.

On a related note, Stephanie is the co-founder of a lovely new website, Spoken Bride, for engaged and newlywed Catholic women. It’s full of beauty and inspiration for those preparing for the Sacrament of marriage and includes everything from style/beauty advice, spiritual guidance, and vendor information. Plus you have the opportunity to submit our own wedding photos to be featured on their site!

“Invited” can be purchased online through Pauline Books and MediaAmazon, and various other sites. Or, check your local Catholic book store!

Finally, I have a copy of “Invited” to give away to one lucky reader! There are several ways to enter, so pick which ones you want and please leave a separate comment for each entry. The giveaway will end on Friday, 7/1/16 at midnight Central time.

Comment on this blog post and tell me what you wish you’d known when planning your own wedding OR if you’re not married, what you’d like to know. (1 entry)

Visit Spoken Bride on Facebook and if you want, please “like” the page. Leave a separate comment saying that you’ve done so. (1 entry)

Visit Vita Dulcis on Facebook and if you want, please “like” my page. Leave a separate comment saying that you’ve done so. Current followers can claim this too! (1 entry)

Follow Spoken Bride on Instagram. Leave a separate comment saying that you’ve done so. (1 entry)

Follow Vita Dulcis on Instagram. Leave a separate comment saying that you’ve done so. Current followers can claim this too! (1 entry)

Follow Spoken Bride on Twitter. Leave a separate comment saying that you’ve done so. (1 entry)

Subscribe to Spoken Bride via email (found on the right sidebar) and leave a separate comment saying that you’ve done so. (1 entry)

Subscribe to Vita Dulcis via email (found on the right sidebar) and leave a separate comment saying that you’ve done so. Current subscribers can claim this too! (1 entry)

Good luck!!

*Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post or giveaway, however I did receive a sample for my review. All opinions are my own.*