Monday, December 28, 2009

She's Engaged!

A week ago Sunday, my big sister Jenny got engaged to her wonderful boyfriend, Josh. Over the past year, Jenny has been blogging about her adventures over at A Single Southern, but she's not so single any more! Jenny and Josh have been together since March, and they've probably been talking about getting married since May, so this is definitely a long time coming. Our family loves Josh- he is really the perfect fit for Jenny. He understands her and knows how to reason with her, and not to mention he knows how to make her smile. There is no doubt he will love her all of her life. And from what I have heard, Josh's family adores Jenny, so with those things in tow, they are off to a pretty good start.

Being the younger sister, at times it was hard to get married first...I always wanted her to get married before me. But, He has a mighty plan and He knew what he was doing. Jenny is giving me the amazing honor of being her matron of honor, and I am going to use everything I learned to help her have an exciting and smooth wedding planning experience. Jenny has a tendency to get stressed and overwhelmed a little bit easier, so I am going to task myself with the job of keeping Jenny stress-free. Being engaged was such a fun time for Michael and I, and I pray Josh and Jenny can say the same thing in August. Oh, and they are planning an August wedding :).

Now, on to the thing you are waiting for...the ring! Jenny has loved and adored our grandmother Nanny's ring for many years, so unknowingly to Jenny, Josh had the ring designed to look like Nanny's. I got some help from my aunt, Margie, who has the ring and took some great pictures. Thanks Margie! Josh was able to use his grandmother's diamond for the center so both sides of the family are found in the ring- how special! Jenny loves it and Josh did a great job. He proposed with just the two of them, but then brought her to my parents' house where we all were waiting to celebrate with you will see below!

We joked with Jenny during our 2007 family Italy trip that she would come back to elope in Lake Como, Italy, so we were just leaving her a friendly reminder :) Drawing courtesy of Joe.Kerry and I rushed out to get bridal magazines so she could begin looking for ideas. This was lots of fun for us! We had some champagne to celebrate...and I loved playing with Kerry's camera! Here she is!
The happy couple! The jaw dropping ring...just stunning!
Congrats Jenny and Josh! We love you.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tis the Season

As most holiday seasons go, this one has been busy and full of activity. Two weeks ago I hosted a cookie exchange and contest at work for the first 10 people who signed up. We had a great response and the cookies were fantastic! The winning cookie, Chocolate Truffles, had only 3 ingredients! In a close second was my boss with her yummy deconstructed carrot cake cookies. Michael was happy I brought these home, too!

All 10 of the cookies
The winners!The Exchange
On Monday night Michael and I headed to James Island for the annual James Island Festival of Lights. This is definitely a Charleston experience during the holidays. We had a great time and Michael enjoyed his first time at the festival.Then on Tuesday and Wednesday nights we had playoff games for our co-ed soccer team, and at 10:30 pm on Wednesday we took home the championship! Here is a great shot of the winning team. Michael and I had such a blast playing together, and he was one of our leading scorers!
And this last picture is of the dinner Michael made last night...seriously, it was awesome! I had just come home from my first practice coaching and he had this ready to eat- I had no idea! It was awesome. What a husband I have!

On a really sad note, my sweet Uncle Jerry passed away at 2:30 am Thursday morning. He had been battling lung cancer for over a year and he took a turn for the worse this week. His wife, son and daughter were all with him during his last few days and hours. Michael and I are headed to Salisbury, NC for the funeral on Saturday to be with our family. Praying for the Sides family as they seek comfort and peace.

The Lord has blessed us this year with more than we need and deserve- we are so thankful. Happy holidays everyone.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Grandma's Tradition

It's hard to believe all of my grandparents have been gone now for over 5 years. I still miss each of them so much. Pop Pop, Nanny, Grandma and Grandpa.

Grandma Ruggieri passed away in October of 2002 but has left behind so many fond memories and traditions. One of the things I loved about Grandma was her passion and knack for cooking. She made the best of anything she touched: pasta, meatballs, stuffing, eggplant parmesan, cheesecake, pizza, bread, Italian cookies and much, much more. I think that is where I get it from, and my Mom, too. And oh, did Grandma adore her family. She lived for her family, something that was evident in every thing she did. I've tried so hard to implement those two things together, which Grandma was a perfectionist at.

For our wedding, my sweet Aunt Laura (Grandma's oldest) gave Michael and I a pizzelle maker. Pizzelles are a unique Italian cookie made with anise seeds- a very unique taste but familiar to any true Italian. I finally broke it out on Sunday and made my very first batch of pizzelles, Grandma's speciality. As soon as the batter was finished, I smelled Grandma and a rush of memories waved over me. Memories of our time in New Jersey, her taking care of us while Mom and Dad were out, our time playing with their antiques in their basement, cooking and baking with Grandma, and the many containers of cookies they would bring on their trips to see us in North Carolina.

So here is a look at my first shot at pizzelles, with a twist of me on them: drizzled chocolate.
Michael called this my "Mess-terpiece" :)

Oh how I miss you, Grandma. I wish you were here to do these with me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lucy and a Wedding

We had so much fun the weekend before last playing with little miss Lucy in Apex (& Chris and Melissa too!), as well as attending a wedding for a good family friend of ours, Christine Nitz, in Greensboro.
Enjoy the pictures! Chris and his sweet little Lucy...I think she looks like Melissa too!

Joe and Kerry have an awesome new camera, which explains how great these pictures are!
My high school basketball coach, Coach Faye, with his two favorite players :) Joe and Mike dancing!
They called themselves the "outlaws" that night, but they are NOTHING close to that!!
The Men.
I wish I could be as beautiful as her one day!

Gobble, Gobble

This Thursday will mark the 3rd year in a row that Lynn and I will have run together in the Greensboro Gobbler. It is a race that we always look forward to running in, and will continue to do as long as we spend Thanksgiving in Greensboro. There always seems to be some excitement come race day (which I will explain), so I'm looking forward to this year's race.

2007 - 2 months prior to Lynn and I getting engaged, still trying to make a good impression on Lynn... I decide to keep pace with her. First lap going well... second lap, Joe Ruggieri decides to start running with us (mind you he isn't registered in the race, he and Kerry were simply cheering us on). He ended up running 1.5 miles with us in his crocs. At the end of the race Lynn starts sprinting with at least 1/4 mile to go... definitely wasn't ready for that and felt the consequences after the race of making sure I finished in front of her!

2008 - Convinced my brother Chris to run the Gobbler with us. Did some pre-race training with him in Greensboro a few weekends prior. Chris had surgery the week before the race, which definitely threw a wrench in his training regiment. It was great to add a Beahm to the tradition, and run with him though! Lynn and I both beat our times from the year prior... I think because we both had been exercising a lot to get in to wedding shape.

2009 - The additions of Jenny and Mike Ruggieri will make for a fun Gobbler this year. Going to try to keep pace with Mike, but he has experience on The Bear run up Grandfather mtn., so not making any promises.

Ultimately the Gobbler run is only a means to the end, as running usually is to me. The end being the post-race starbucks trip, and a big appetite and guilt-free conscience as I enjoy all the delicious Thanksgiving fixins of the day!

Looking forward to seeing some of the usual faces out there! Gobble, Gobble.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Law of Gravity

After being married for almost a year now, one thing I have learned about Lynn is that cooking is one of her biggest hobbies. One thing Lynn has consistently said she has learned about me this year is that as cooking is to her, music is to me.

This past week one of my recent favorite musicians, Andy Gullahorn came out with a new cd called "The Law of Gravity."

Gullahorn is an under-the-radar musician out of Nashville whose songwriting abilities are second to none. Lynn and I have seen him in concert alongside Andrew Peterson and his wife, Jill Phillips. Anyways, I've always enjoyed the stories he tells in his songs, the honesty of his songwriting, and the humor that is woven in his lyrics and thought I would promote his new album on our blog.

For a free sampling of Andy's music, go here:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Welcome to the world!

We are so excited to announce the births of two little girls, Geneva Lynne Swem and Emerson Jayne Bruce.

Geneva was born on November 10 at 1:50am China time in Shanghai, China. She is our 5th neice; the third daughter of Michael’s sister, Jenny, and her husband Alex. Jenny was only in labor for 20 minutes- I guess she can attribute this for being 9 days overdue! Jenny said her experience in the international hospital has been excellent…which makes all of us overseas breathe a sigh of relief! Enjoy these pictures of little Geneva as her sisters and parents meet her for the first time. We wish we were there! (hopefully in the Spring!)

Vera gives Geneva some kisses for the first time!

We hear Wendy Jane adores her new little sister!
Daddy and Geneva.
Mom and baby love looking at each other :)

And this is the coolest thing about the advancements in technology. We skyped with Jenny and Geneva just hours after she was born. How cool!

Remember our announcement in March about our good friends Terry and Ellen Bruce being pregnant? Well, their little girl has finally arrived, and EARLY! Emerson was born on Thursday, November 5, in Charlotte, NC almost a week before her due date. It seems these little girls wanted to arrive on their own time! We are so happy for our dear friends as they embark on this new journey called parenthood.

Congratulations, we love you all!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Birthday affair

As you all know, yesterday my beautiful wife turned 27. If you know Lynn, you know she doesn't like a lot of gifts on her birthday, she just wants to be doing something fun with the people that she loves. This year proved no differently, and the main thing she wanted to do was go to the Coastal Carolina Fair. Part of the fun for her going this year was the fact that I had never been to a county fair, so she was able to experience the fried food, the old school rides, and the masses of (unique) people with a newbie like myself.

We went with our good friend Erin, but unfortunately we got stuck in traffic for over 3 hours trying to get to the fair! It was a rough start to the night because we missed the band Chairman of the Board, and didn't end up arriving until 9:30! As you can tell, I wasn't too happy about the traffic!

We finally made it in to the fair, and the first thing I did since we hadn't eaten dinner was go for the corn-dog stand. It was by far the best corn dog I have ever had! (sorry we didn't capture proof of it). Lynn decided to go for the fried twinkie. And, our friends Jessica and Josh went for the fried oreos. Erin went for the fried Milky Way, and I think we all unanimously decided that hers was the best deep fried item of the night! No one was gutsy enough to go for the fried butter (yes, that was a real option!)

Even though we waited in traffic for over 3 hours to be there, I was glad we stuck it out and got to be there for a couple hours Saturday night. Thanks everyone who called, and sent gifts or cards yesterday and helped make Lynn's birthday special!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Girls Weekend

Now that Kristen has had Kaelyn, our girls weekend is not so typical anymore. Of course we did the things we always do on those special weekends: get up early, take walks, talk, watch movies, lay around, cook food and then eat it. But above all those things, this time we had Kaelyn. Kaelyn was no doubt our center of attention, but I don't think any of us minded. Kaelyn is such a precious bundle of joy and it made us even happier the five foodie friends could come together across 4 states for the weekend.

Enjoy these pictures as we got to love on Kaelyn, and each other!

Kaelyn's Halloween outfit #1Halloween outfit #2

We love this girl!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The crisp air in the evening. Smells of nutmeg, cloves and pumpkin from house to house. Leaves transforming from its rich green color to shades of burnt orange, red and gold. This is fall, and it has arrived.

I absolutely love this time of year and have been lucky to go to Boone three weekends in October, as well as a trip to Asheville this weekend.

Our home, ready for Fall!
What do you love best about Fall?