Monthly Archives: May 2013

venice, italy

Venezia…
Romantic, charming, and CROWDED.

venice

We bused in to Venice and spent the day getting lost in the maze of canals and alleyways. Patrick experienced his first real Italian pizza and gelato. (I think gelato may trump ice cream in my opinion, which really is close to impossible.)

We fed the birds in San Marco square and went to the top of the tower to overlook the city.

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Our day in Venice ended with a romantic gondola ride thanks to our gondolier Ricardo. His maneuvering skills were quite impressive…those canals aren’t four-lane highways, that’s for sure.
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By the end of the day, we were exhausted and ready for our wagoon. But it had been a beautiful day in Venizio. I’m having so much fun exploring the world bit by bit with my new hubby

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home sweet wagoon

wagoon
Just picture this.

Two white Americans, exhausted from two days of traveling, arrive in Venice, Italy. After an hour of painstakingly attempting, with no success, to call the man whose room they are renting, they locate a bus and ride to Zelarino…(a small Italian village 20 minutes from Venice.)

They get off the bus and realize how lost they are. No one speaks much English, and they don’t speak a word of Italian…(despite the two years of Italian classes I took in high school. I really should have paid more attention…)

They begin walking aimlessly down the cobbled street, dragging their 50-pound suitcases along behind them. By-passers stare at the odd sight, but the two hardly notice. They’re more concerned that they may be spending the night on the l’autobus station bench…

A nice Italian lady finally takes pity on the two and asks in broken English where in the world they are going. After a frustrating game of charades, she turns and begins walking down the road, motioning for the two to follow.

They get to a street and the lady points for them to continue. They were looking for house number 88. The first house on their right said 1. They began their trek down the broken road, lugging their suitcases behind.

And that’s how our adventure began.

We finally made it to 88. It was in the middle of nowhere. Our “house” was a small trailer, sequestered in a weedy orchard.

It was called The Wagoon. And it would serve as our home for the next three days.
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We rode bikes to the local supermercato and bought meat, cheese and bread for a romantic picnic on the front porch of our wagoon. Let me just say that we have a great view of a tractor from the front porch…
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Oh home sweet wagoon.

Europe here we come…

The original plan for our honeymoon was Park City. We were both content to find a cheap hotel and just enjoy each other’s company for a few days.

So how we ended up on a 300-passenger plane, flying across the ocean to spend more than a month traveling Europe, is still a mystery to me.

But here we are. Just Patrick, me, two heavy suitcases and a camera.

Our first stop was Chicago. Then Dusseldorf, Germany. Next we will travel through Italy and end up in Switzerland for a month-long study abroad. We will spend a few days in Amsterdam, a night in London, then our journey will come to an end after two nights in New York.

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What an adventure it will be.

And let me just say one thing about Chicago. That is one cool bean.

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5.24.13

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May 24, 2013.

Every detail of this day will be branded in my mind for the rest of my life.

The day I got married.

The entire wedding day was perfect. It began the night before at the wedding dinner. It was a deliciously beautiful event, even when my brother decided to roast me during the open mic portion of the evening. But we won’t go in to that…

Every girl dreams of her wedding day since the time she’s old enough to open the cover of Bride Magazine. So naturally there is a lot of pressure for the day to be impeccably perfect. And I’m happy to say that I truly feel our wedding was just that. Perfect.

Patrick and I were married in the Salt Lake Temple in the morning, and a beautiful reception followed that evening in my parent’s backyard.

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Our wedding menu:

Four types of pizza, straight from the smoker oven:

  • Ham and pineapple
  • Margarita with balsamic vinegar and basil leaves
  • Pear with goat cheese
  • Barbeque chickenSalad with a delicious strawberry vinaigrette
    Fresh strawberries
    An array of breadsticks and dinner rollsGelato:
  • Chocolate hazelnut
  • Pistachio
  • Raspberry
  • Lemon custard

Every little dessert you can imagine:

  • Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
  • Coconut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
  • Cookie dough (yes, Patrick’s request)
  • Homemade Oreos
  • Sugar cookies
  • Lemon cupcakes
  • The list goes on…..And my personal favorite: THREE kinds of ice cream cakes. Yes people, you read that right. Our wedding cake was ice cream cake. Gorgeous, delicious, made-from-scratch-by-my-wonderfully-talented-mother-in-law-ice-cream-cakes. None of the fondant cardboard cakes that yes, look pretty, but taste like play-dough.

So, as you can see, good food was high on my priority list for the party…

The weather was perfect, the yard was stunning, the live-band was rockin and the company was top-notch. I couldn’t ask for a better wedding.

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And now, Patrick is mine and I am his.

The Romero family of two. How adorable.

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homemade lemon sugar body scrub

DSCN2821So with my wedding coming up in less than one week (aaaaaah!! SooOooOoo exciting) I wanted to do something nice for my bridesmaids. When I was choosing bridesmaids, I had a hard time lowering it down to just a few of my friends, because I just love so many of those beautiful girls. Soooo, I just chose 11 bridesmaids. Problem solved.

After doing some Pinterest research, my favorite kind of research these days, I found a delicious looking recipe for body scrub. So, I made a GIANT batch of it and gave them to my bridesmaids. And yes, I made one for myself as well. It works wonders and smells so good, I caught my mom licking her finger, despite the decent amount of soap in the recipe.

lemon sugar body scrub

ingredients (to make a single-serving for one person)

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 and a half cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil.
    *note: if you’re doing a giant batch like I did, this can get expensive, so I substituted some olive oil along with the coconut oil.
  • 1 tablespoon unscented liquid soap (Cetaphil works great)
  • Some kind of mason jar to store the scrub in

instructions:

  1. Zest and juice the lemon. Make sure to remove any seeds that sneak their way in and combine both the zest and juice in a bowl.

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  2. Add the coconut (or olive oil) and the soap and stir together.

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  3. Add all of the sugar and stir until combined.
  4. Pour into container.
    *note: this scrub will separate after awhile. Before you use it, take a metal spoon and stir it up very well until it’s all mixed together.I used this scrub on my face and hands, and they were baby-bum soft after. I tied it up with a ribbon and wrote a note for each girl. I love all my girlies!
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coconut cuppie cakes with cream cheese frosting (from barefoot contessa)

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Thanks to Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, I have discovered my third greatest love in life after Patrick and ice cream. Actually, these coconut cupcakes might be competition for ice cream in the order of my favorite things. Which is really saying something.

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Needless to say, I am obsessed with these little cupcakes from heaven. In fact, so obsessed I told my mom I wanted them at my wedding. Soooo, yesterday we spent 8 hours in the kitchen baking more than 400 coconut cupcakes along with a few other little scrumptious favorites of mine. (but those will come later…)

coconut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

ingredients: (makes 18 to 20 large cupcakes, but we made itsy bitsy ones because they are so darn cute)

  •  3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconutcream cheese frosting ingredients:
  • 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one.

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  3. Open the lid to the almond and vanilla extracts and smell each one for as long as you’d like. (This part is optional but highly recommended.) Try not to pass out because they smell so incredibly delicious.
  4. Then add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix together.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add a third of the dry ingredients, then a third of the buttermilk and mix until just combined. Repeat until all the flour and buttermilk is added. *note: don’t mix too much or the dough will become stiff.

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  6. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut. (I had no idea how to “fold” coconut into the mix. According to my mom, this means to stir in slowly until just combined. Good thing she makes up for my lack of baking knowledge…)
  7. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and fill each cup about 3/4 of the way full.
    *note: We piped the dough into the liners using a Ziploc bag. This makes the cupcakes much more even and beautiful. You’re choice though.

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  8. Bake the cuppie cakes for 25 to 30 minutes if making large, or about 12 minutes if making baby ones.
    *note: make sure a toothpick comes out clean. The tops should be slightly brown.

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  9. Allow to cool then frost with cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with remaining coconut or sprinkles of your choice.

    instructions for cream cheese frosting:

    In an electric mixer, blend together cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth. If runny, add more sugar.

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Beware: You will probably gain weight after making this recipe. It is just that delicious. Thanks Ina Garten!

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Aren’t they just adorable? Can’t wait to have them at the wedding!

Enjoy!

sausage-leek pasta

ImageSo, I can’t take credit for this one. But my oh my it is delish.

My aunt Marianne is the genius behind this, and I’ve made it for Patrick two times in the last few weeks. It’s SoOoOOo easy to make, which is great when your life is speeding along at 57 miles per hour like mine has been lately….

I’ll admit the first time I made this, I had no idea what a leek even was. You should have seen me at the grocery store, walking back and forth along the veggie aisle, getting sprayed by the veggie misters with a perplexed and somewhat concerned look on my face. I finally found that devilish little leek–but once I got it home, I realized I had no idea what to do with it. Which is why I’ve got my mom’s number on speed dial…

Lucky for you, I am now an expert when it comes to leeks, so have no fear and put this one on your list for this week’s dinner menu.

Sausage-Leek Pasta

ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Italian sausage (I got mild…even that has a kick. But if you like spicy, or if you’re in the mood to challenge your palate, go for medium or hot.)
  • 3 leeks
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 cans of chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • bow-tie pasta (about 10 oz.)
  • parmesan cheese*note: this recipe will serve 4-6 people. When I make it for Pat and me, I just use half a pound of sausage and freeze the rest, and cut all the other ingredients in half.

directions:

  1. Wash the leeks very well. They tend to get dirt stuck in them.
  2. Slice the white part of the leeks into thin slices. (You don’t want to slice into the green part.)
    *note: gently divide the circles up and they will cook more evenlyImage
    Aren’t they cute? I thought they looked pretty artsy. If I could somehow incorporate leeks into my house decor, I think I would…
  3. Heat some oil in a large sauce-pan and brown the sausage on medium heat.Image
  4. In a small saucepan, saute the leeks in oil on low until very soft.
    *note: Make sure you don’t burn them, or they will become bitter. Just turn the heat to low, use oil, and be patient. Believe me, I learned this one the hard way. Gross!
  5. Once the leeks are soft and the sausage is cooked, add everything to the large saucepan, mix together and serve hot with parmesan on top.Image

I love this recipe because it fills ya up, and it literally takes 20 minutes from start to finish. Quick and delicious!

shrimp ceviche

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So, I love seafood. In fact, I think  it may be my favorite category of food. That may be due to the fact my mom would make salmon for us when I was five years old, and expect us to eat it. All.

Or maybe my love of seafood was born because Ariel from The Little Mermaid was my favorite Disney princess when I was growing up. Either way, I love seafood.

Shrimp Ceviche

ingredients:

  • 1 bag of baby shrimp (pre-cooked)
  • 2 avocados
  • 3 small tomatoes (I bought the on-the-vine kind)
  • 2 limes
  • 1-2 jalapenos (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1 large cucumber or 3-4 baby ones
  • a bunch of cilantro
  • salt
  • Tortilla chips for dipping

directions:

  1. Pour the baby shrimpies into a medium sized bowl
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2. Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and add to the bowl.Image3. Cut the avocados into small bite-sized pieces and add to the bowl.

4. Peel the cucumbers and slice into small pieces–add to bowlImage5. Add cilantro–LOTS of it! (You know how I feel about cilantro) Image


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My adorable sister Kag eating cilantro straight from the bag. I’m so glad she appreciates the beauty of cilantro like I do…

6. Cut the jalapenos onto small pieces and add to bowl.

*note: If you don’t like it to be too spicy, try not to get any of the seeds in. Also, when cutting the jalapeno, put a glove or small Ziploc bag over your hand, or your skin/eyes will start burning if you touch them.

Image7. Slice the limes in half and squeeze into the bowl. Add salt to taste.

8. Mix everything up very well and enjoy!

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the proposal

For Christmas break, my parents took my family to Hawaii.

My mom’s words: “Sarah, I feel bad we can’t take Patrick along. When we booked the trip, we didn’t know you two would be dating.”

If only I knew…

Patrick called me one day and told me he was sick at home, miserable and missing me. Let’s just say, I felt pretty bad as I was enjoying the warm sun and tropical breeze of paradise while Pat was in the wasteland of a frozen Salt Lake City…

The next day I was sitting by the pool with my mom, sister and two brothers. It was the perfect evening. Warm, with a slight breeze. The ocean was glimmering with the reflection of the setting sun.

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My dad came over to us.

“Guys, I just found this hobo on the beach. He’s doing magic tricks and it’s incredible. You HAVE to come see!”

“Ya dad, we don’t really care.”

But, he insisted. So, a little annoyed, we all followed him down the beach to a little pier sticking out into the ocean. There was a crowd of people standing around a hobo who was apparently doing magic tricks.

I walked over to the group and the hobo grabbed my arm with his dirty hand and pulled me forward. He had a full beard, long hair, a hat and a long ragged poncho on. I kind of wanted him to NOT touch me.

But he spread a fan of giant playing cards in front of my face and told me to pick a card. I picked one. He told me to turn around and count to ten, then look at the card.

While I was counting, I heard something going on behind me. I was watching Kagnis’ face (my sister) and her jaw just dropped. I got to ten and turned the card around.

There was a single sentence written on the back in black sharpie: Sarah, will you marry me?

Now, I don’t consider myself to be a “dumb blonde.” Heck…I’m more like a “dirty-blonde” anyway. However, I do have my moments. The first thing I thought when I read the card was, “wow this guy is good. How does he know my name??”

Then as I was turning around, things started to click.

The hobo was gone. In his place was a dark-haired, brown-eyed boy in a suit and tie. On one knee. Holding a tiny velvet box out in one hand. There was a pile of wigs and an old poncho laying next to him.

Patrick was in Hawaii.

Now let’s get something straight. I don’t cry. Call me heartless, but I just don’t cry. However, at this moment, I think I would have cried like a baby if I hadn’t been in complete shock. I could barely breathe, let alone talk. Somehow I managed to squeak “yes” and then I was wrapped in Patrick’s arms.

Best. Christmas. Ever.

The story continues…

So back to the story of Patrick and I.

We began dating in the beginning of May 2012. Let’s just say, summer 2012 was the best summer of my life. I think there were a lot of factors that contributed to Pat’s success of winning me over so quickly. Besides the fact he treated me like a princess, did the inevitable of opening  me up to someone besides my family and close girlfriends, was a really good cuddler, and soOoOooO good lookin…he loved adventure. I think that’s what did it.

We went on so many adventures that summer. A few of my favorites include:

Caving up Logan Canyon

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Rock Climbing at City of Rocks

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slack-lining all over the place

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And my personal favorite…

Becoming an “Ultimate True Aggie” which, btw, I don’t think anyone has done before…

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Let’s just say, it was an awesome summer. And I was in trouble.

Patrick was 23 and looking for a wife.

I was 19 and looking for a good time and someone to call my boyfriend.

I just kept pushing the inevitable to the back of my mind. School started and things got tricky. I now had to balance being a full-time student, a part-time employee, a girlfriend, a roommate…you know how college-life is.

As the days got cooler and the trees changed colors, I realized I had a difficult decision to make. I couldn’t keep dragging Patrick along, with no commitment and no answers.

But I was 19! I’d never dated anyone seriously like this before. I didn’t know what I was doing. All I knew was that I loved this boy and wanted to be with him. But I wasn’t ready to get married. I was convinced that I just wasn’t ready. (Remember, I still had a mild case if independentitis. I “needed” to go on a study abroad…)

For weeks, I was a mess. One of the hardest things in this life (for me at least) is deciding what I actually want. There was a constant battle raging inside of me. A constant mess of conflicted confusion. It was exhausting.

At one point, I broke down. I realized I couldn’t live a flip-flopping life of not knowing what to do. So, I made my decision. I told myself I would make a decision and stick with it.

I decided I wanted to marry Patrick.

And I’ve never been happier.

Now I hope you understand, I didn’t tell this story just to tell the story. I told it because I know there are girls out there struggling with this exact same decision. Young, in love and completely conflicted.

But let me just tell you. DON’T. GIVE. UP.

Have some faith. As cheesy as it sounds, believe in yourself. Believe that it can work out, even if every single possible thing is working against you.

Trust me, it’s worth the fight.

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