Happy Black Friday my friends!

I might be a day late, but I wanted to take some time to give thanks over here at Sundresses and Smiles.  These days, as y'all know, my life is fast-paced and it is so easy to get wrapped up in the day to day rush and forget to stop and just feel thankful.  So today, I'd like to post my thanks.  This is a long post, but it is truly heartfelt and truly "me."

Thanksgiving yesterday was wonderful.  My family usually does a low key Thanksgiving--we have my grandmothers over and just enjoy a nice meal and time to visit together.  As previously mentioned on the blog, I make an annual dessert for Thanksgiving.  I didn't share the reason behind my annual French Silk Pie before, but I will share it with you now as the opening to my thankful post.  A little over three years ago, my grandfather died.  He was such an incredible man--he was one of the most genuinely kind people I have ever known; he was also smart, witty, and passionate.  One of his favorite desserts was French Silk Pie.  Every year at Thanksgiving we would have a pumpkin pie, a French Silk pie, and another dessert that I would make.  We began to feel dessert overload and I thought it would be smart to consolidate our desserts by making my own homemade French Silk Pie.  It has been a tradition ever since and is now even more special since Grandpa has passed.  Though I miss him often, I am so thankful to have had 20 years with my grandfather--he and I spent much time together and I am lucky that he is one of the people that shaped my life.

Yesterday's Pie--we think it may have been the best yet!
See recipe here!

Secondly, I am so thankful to be part of such an incredible family.  Though we may be dysfunctional and a bit wacky at times, I wouldn't change what we have.  I am incredibly close with my parents as well as my extended family and "framily" (a term we use to describe close friends that are considered family).

Father's Day Dinner 2011

Next on the list are my friends.  I am so lucky to have an incredible group of close friends--the kind of friends I can be myself around, lean on when I need a helping hand, and have fun with.  

ARS isn't mentioned on the blog frequently, but she is my true "BFF"--we met when we were 13 and just 2 years later, her family moved to North Carolina.  Now, 10 years, later we are still best friends even though we only get to see each other about once a year!

The list of people I am thankful for, of course would not be complete without Bryce.  I have so enjoyed sharing our romance on the blog with you and I can share with y'all now that it continues to get better and better.  I have never felt this loved in my life and never thought it was possible to find someone so perfectly matched for me.

Our First Picture Together!
I can't believe how far we've come since then!

I also wanted to take a moment to say thanks to all of you, my loyal followers!  I have not been the best blogger over these last few months--living life has gotten in the way.  Your friendship, fun, and passion inspire me every day and make me feel so grateful that I joined this blogging community just over 8 months ago!

 And I'll just list a few more....
  • my sweet class of 1st graders
  • the beauty of the world around me
  • the color pink
  • the daily luxuries that I take for granted that so much of the world does not have
  • the ocean and taste of salt on my lips
  • Richmond, VA
  • white wine
  • the joy of curling up with a good book
What are you thankful for?

Now for a quick peek into my schedule over the next few weeks:
-Fri, Dec 2:  My last day of student teaching
-Fri, Dec 2:  Bryce's Company Christmas Party
-Sat, Dec 3:  Crabtree Falls Camping Trip
-Mon, Dec 5:  Thesis/Field Project Rough Draft due
-Wed, Dec 7:  Thesis/Field Project Presentations
-Thurs, Dec 15:  Thesis/Field Project Final Draft due
-Sat, Dec 17:  Bryce's and My First Annual Christmas Party!

All that being said, I am going to be busy busy!!  I am hoping to squeeze in some time for blogging over the next few weeks, but have a feeling my time will be tight.  Wish me luck!

Have a fabulous holiday weekend!


I'm Alive!

Happy Hump Day readers!

Just a quick post to say hello, I miss you all, and I'm alive!

Things have been hectic lately--my thesis due date is looming, the holidays and my birthday (just 5 more days!) are here, and student teaching is coming to an end.

That being said, I've had little free time for blogging.

Today I will quickly share a new song with you that I'm loving:  "Bait a Hook" by Justin Moore.  If I haven't mentioned it on the blog before my type is a preppy, Southern, and outdoorsy man.  My friends have laughed at me for saying "I could never date a guy that doesn't hunt and fish"-- but it's true!  When I heard this song the other day, it brought a huge smile to my face and some laughs.  Lucky for me, I found my perfect preppy, Southern, and outdoorsy catch in Bryce!

Have a fabulous Thanksgiving filled with good food and family!


World's Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy Monday friends!!  Can you believe November is already half-way over?

This weekend I made the world's greatest chocolate chip cookies.  Bryce has been begging me to bake him something for a while and he was gone all week for work, so I thought that a great surprise for his return would be some of these cookies I've been telling him and telling him about!

This old Betty Crocker recipe is a favorite in my family.  My godfather, Uncle Ed, and I have been making them together since I was a little tot and they are his specialty.  The two secret ingredients that make these cookies so good are:

  1. Salt--they have the perfect mixture of sweet and salty
  2. And OF COURSE, lots of love!
Ingredients: (yields 7 dozen cookies!!)
2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup butter (softened)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 (12 oz) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips


1.  Heat over to 375 F

2.  Mix shortening, butter, granulated and brown sugars, eggs, and vanilla

ready for mixing!


3.  In separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt

4.  Stir flour mixture in with other mixture (Uncle Ed's trick for this is to add the dry ingredients in, little by little--he also clears a hole in the wet ingredients that you can fill with the dry ingredients which helps decrease the flour from flying into the air and all over the place!)

see hole in center!

filled with dry ingredients

Another key part of this step is not to over-mix the batter--the dough should be thick!

5.  Stir in chocolate chips

I can never decide which I like better--the dough or the cookies!

6.  Drop dough by rounded teaspoon fulls 2 in apart on ungreased baking sheets

Uncle Ed is very meticulous about this step and always has exactly 7 dozen cookies--I, on the other hand, am not and also tend to snack on the dough, so I usually end up with about 5 dozen cookies of varying sizes!

7.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown (9 minutes is perfection when I bake them!)

They're crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle...yummy, yummy!

8.  ENJOY!!

Ready for Bryce!

In other news, this weekend provided the perfect rest and relaxation that I needed.  Saturday I went to see Cuties A and B play in their basketball games and spent the afternoon with the Cutie family.  Aside from that, I spent lots of time reading, relaxing, and spending time with my family.

Cutie B ready for action!

Check out Cutie A's jump shot!

Are you a fan of chocolate chip cookies?  What are your all time favorite desserts?

How was your weekend?

Have a great day!


Ahhh, Kate Spade New Arrivals!

Happy Friday readers!

Make a wish--it's 11/11/11!!

I have enjoyed this short week and am so glad that the weekend and some R&R is here for me!

Other than spending tomorrow with the Cuties and their parents, I plan to have a lazy, relaxing weekend and couldn't be happier about it!

Today, I wanted to share a bit of my wish/dream list!  I always love getting Kate Spade emails and this Monday's "New Arrivals" email did not disappoint.  If only I wasn't on a student teacher's salary and could actually buy some of these things....ahh, le sigh!

This top is absolute perfection--I can picture it with skinny jeans and snappy flats or with a sleek black skirt, black tights, and heels!

How perfectly would this coordinate with my black patent Revas?

Such a fun statement piece!

I love the chic simplicity of this dress, paired with its bold color!

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this ring!

If I had a wallet this adorable, I would probably spend money way too often, just to show it off!

This skirt has New Year's Eve written all over it!

Any favorites?  What are you currently dreaming of?

Have a fabulous weekend!!


Living in Fast Forward

Happy Hump Day, sweet readers!

These days, my life really is moving in fast forward.

Bryce and I had a fabulous weekend, but I told him that we were going to have to work to settle down a bit.  Moving at this social pace all the time is tough for me--I've always been someone that loves to go, go, go, but I also need my down and alone time to re-energize.  That being said, I'll update you on what's been going on in this fast-paced life of mine.

Friday night, I literally hopped right into the shower as soon as I got home to get ready for the evening.  ALG's beau was in town for the weekend, so as always, the four of us had some fun plans made.  We started the evening at Kobe, a Japanese Steak & Sushi restaurant.  Hibachi is one of ALG and my favorite foods and Bryce loves sushi, so we all had a wonderful meal.  After that we headed to The Tobacco Company, a Richmond classic, for Happy Hour of $1 Rails.

It was a successful happy hour, for sure!

Saturday morning, Bryce had to get up early for a work day at one of his hunt clubs.  I used the morning time to clean my room (which was piled high with laundry that needed to be put away) and get ready for the rest of our weekend.  

When Bryce got home we headed to Lukefest, an annual fundraiser for the McShin Foundation that helps recovering addicts.  

Luke Cockey, who the event is in honor of, was a good family friend of Bryce so it was an event that was really special to him.  The event had multiple live bands, a silent auction, multiple vendors (including Stella & Dot--I had to restrain myself) raising money, and delicious food (barbecue, crabs, oysters, mac-n-cheese, beans, coleslaw, and desserts galore).  I really enjoyed meeting Luke's family and helping such a great cause.

Bryce enjoying an oyster!

Allie & Bryce

Bryce bought a tee shirt and also bought me some Mac's Smack chapstick.  I love my rosebud, but need something for school when I don't want to put my germ-filled hands into a jar of lip balm.  Mac's Smack was founded by Luke's sister and is a line of all natural chapsticks and lip glosses.  I got the "Mighty Mint" Smack Stick and love it!

After Lukefest, we headed to my house.  One of my family's best friends, that is like a second mother to me, was in town and I wanted her to meet Bryce.  We had dinner and visited with my family, and then finally ended the night at one of Bryce's best friends new apartments.  It was quite the busy Saturday!

Sunday we relaxed in the morning and took a walk around Bryce's neighborhood.  That afternoon, we headed to Bryce's dad's house to go skeet shooting.  It was a great day for shooting and I was glad to have the chance to get to know Bryce's dad a bit more.  As soon as we got back from shooting, we had to change and get ready for dinner at Bryce's mom and stepdad's house.  We were celebrating his stepbrother's birthday and this was my first time meeting the stepfamily (he has 3 stepbrothers, 2 step sister-in-laws, and 5 step nieces and nephews).  Bryce's mom prepared the most delicious meal and I really seemed to click with his family!  

Since that whirlwind weekend, I have been taking it easy.  Monday was a teacher workday and yesterday I had the day off.  I spent the entire day lounging around, reading blogs, and watching Hart of Dixie (has anyone else checked out this new show?).  I really realized how much I miss blogging and am excited that in a few weeks when student teaching is over, I will have a lot more time to devote to the blog and also reading all of yours.  I thank each and every one of you who has stuck with me though, during this busy time!

I also thought I would update you all that last night I found out I was accepted into Teach for America.  I have been placed in Memphis and have not yet decided if I will accept or decline the offer.  Memphis was not one of my top choice regions and it is a really big commitment to consider, especially given the fact I will already have my Master's of Teaching.  I will keep y'all updated as I make my decision.

Hopefully the rest of the week will fly by and I am looking forward to a low key weekend this weekend.

How do you stay sane when things get crazy busy?

Also, be sure to snap pictures this week and next for "Lately Blog Hop #2" that will post on Friday, November 18!


Lately Blog Hop #1


This week has been a long one and I am so excited for a long weekend.  Monday is a teacher workday, so I'll have to go to school, but it will be a break from teaching and Tuesday is a holiday for election day.  I am at the point that I could really "use" a day, so this could not come at a better time.

This weekend is busy, busy yet again!  I keep thinking that my life is going to slow down, but, it keeps rolling!

Without further adieu, I bring you "Lately" Blog Hop #1.

Here are the rules:

  • Post snapshots of your life lately with a brief caption
  • Add the link-up code to your post so that your readers can participate
  • Be sure to stop by at least one other participant's post and comment!

Here's the code to add to the HTML section of your blog:
<script src="http://www.linkytools.com/thumbnail_linky_include.aspx?id=115011" type="text/javascript"></script>

Now for a glimpse into my life lately...

Bryce has the most beautiful rose bush in his backyard that I'm constantly picking from and putting in mason jars around his house.  I just recently, however, noticed these pretty purple flowers in the corner of his yard and decided to make a little arrangement for the julep cup!

These seasoned shrimp from Kroger are HEAVENLY, especially dipped in melted butter, I surprised my mom with them for dinner with pasta last week!

We had our Halloween Party at school Friday--one student brought in these s'more treats.  Inside was 2 graham crackers, a jumbo marshmallow, and Hershey's milk chocolate--all that you need to make the perfect s'more!  I am keep this party favor idea in the back of my mind for the future!

My favorite part of carving pumpkins is scraping out the guts and getting the seeds for roasting!

Despite being chipped, I'm still loving my sparkly pink nails from my Pinkalicious costume and have also been loving this ring that CJE got me in Bermuda and I've recently pulled out of my jewelry box!

So happy that the weather has cooled down enough to pullout my pink and green flannel jammies.  (Please ignore the wet hair and lack of make-up!)

I have been breath taken by the gorgeous orange leaves on this tree that I pass every day on my way to and from school.

Have a fabulous weekend and enjoy this first ever "Lately" Blog Hop!!


Halloween Updates

Hello my sweet friends!

Wow--where do the weeks go?  Monday I thought:  "I'm really in a blogging mood this week, maybe I'll post a bunch."  As you can tell, it's now Thursday and that hasn't happened, but here I am today to share updates from my weekend and Halloween.

Also, be sure to tune in tomorrow for my first ever "Lately" link up in which bloggers will post random snapshots taken from their life "lately" with short captions.

Now onto the life updates.

Over the weekend, Bryce was on a hunting trip in South Dakota.  I definitely missed him but enjoyed having a little extra time with family and friends (it never seems that there are enough hours in the day and days in the week to see and spend time with everyone I want to).  Friday night I had a pizza girls' dinner with JLA and SEG.  Afterwards, JLA and I headed over to her boyfriend's apartment for a band and party.  She and I had not seen each other in well over a month so it was great to get some special catch up time with her!


Saturday I spent some time with my family and then went to an Oktoberfest party with ALG.  It was so nice and so much fun.  The family who hosted the party had homemade bratwursts, sauerkraut, and German food, as well as spiced cider and German beer.  Most of the night a group of us sat outside around a fire chatting and joking around.  It was really nice to meet some new people and do something a little different. 

Finally, Sunday was a family day.  We slept in, had a big breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes, watched a scary movie in honor of Halloween, and even carved pumpkins.

My favorite part has always been pulling the guts out of the pumpkin!

My dad is quite the master carver...

Final Products

After carving we always roast our pumpkin seeds.  My dad roasts them with butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar and it is a DELICIOUS treat.

Monday, Bryce got home from South Dakota, and we headed of to SC&BC's for chili, pumpkin carving, and trick-or-treaters.  

I dressed up as a cat for the occasion!

When it was time to carve pumpkins, I told Bryce I wanted to carve a cat.  I thought that our individual sketches were quite funny:

Mine on the left was a cute cat, Bryce's on the right was a fierce cat with fangs...

BC & Me scraping out the guts

Bryce hard at work

Our final cat--I think we came to a good compromise on the fangs!

Allie & Bryce

Our wonderful hosts:  SC, BC, Riku, and Kingsley

SC&BC carved multiple designs all around their pumpkin:  I loved this heart!

The rest of this week I have been busy--I cooked a spaghetti dinner for my parents Tuesday night and last night I got dinner with one of my best friends from college, CEG, who I had not seen in almost a year.  

How were your Halloweens?  What has your week been like?

Have a wonderful day and don't forget about the "Lately" link up tomorrow!!