Tips for Surviving Uploading Your Wedding Photos to Facebook + Happy Easter!

Happy Easter All! For us, Easter was a very fun, very relaxed affair at my in-laws’ home. The best part of holidays with them is the INCREDIBLE food they make and hearing my father-in-law’s stories about his amazing life. I also got to bond a little with our niece, so that was another highlight for me! In other news, I finally uploaded my wedding photos to Facebook! This might not seem like a monumental task to most people, but anyone who has gotten married since digital pix and FB was a thing feels me, I’m sure. Remember when I wrote about the post-wedding To-Do list? Well this is an extension of that “getting my wedding pix organized” list item. After getting your photos back from the photographer, and pouring over every one multiple times, then you have to start the downloading process.

I’m betting that if you spent more than $250 on your computer and you pay for high-speed internet, this step is not as bad as I’m about to make it sound, but OMG. I hated that process. The first attempt killed my laptop. The second round I got smart and used our desktop computer, but it still took nearly a full afternoon to download and unzip every packet of pictures. Then I had to cull them – yes, believe it or not, the pix that I uploaded are just a small fraction of the total (you’re welcome FB friends lol). The step I maybe did not *have* to do, but did anyway, is order special prints for family before posting on FB and snail-mail them. My first thought is that not all my family are on FB, so I’d need to print some anyway. And my second thought was “wouldn’t it be nice to get a surprise in the mail of special pictures from the wedding?” I don’t know about you, but I’m having post-wedding-mailbox blues. For a while we were riding the wedding card/gift high of checking the mail every day, but now we’re back to bills and junk 😛

So I made some prints and sent them off. Then came the official wedding album photo selection. I’m happy to say that the amazing Brandon Hunter is on it and I CAN’T WAIT to see his genius in my hands. Finally, it was Facebook time. I prepared myself a strong drink and anticipated many more problems than I actually had. It did take a long while, and I did get the “FB non responsive kill/wait” popup at least 5 times, but it all worked out. And now everyone can see the freaking awesome pictures that Brittany of Bee Two Sweet took of their children, their partners, and their friends.

Now, for a few tips to keep your sanity while handling Facebook wedding picture uploads:

  1. Cull!

If you hired a professional, chances are you have a BUNCH of wedding photos – many which are essentially slightly different shots of the same thing. Also in black-and-white. Do yourself and your FB friends a favor, and cull them before posting. Pluck just one or two that showcase each special moment of the day – there is no need to post 25 pictures of you “getting ready” or 100+ shots of the same people dancing.

2. Save Some for You

This is related to #1 – it is perfectly okay if you do not share every special picture with the FB universe. I am (obviously) comfortable with sharing a lot on this blog, on my instagram, on Facebook, but when I saw all our first-look photos in the download queue, I hesitated. These mean so much to me and Mr. Foodie, and even though they exist on the photographer’s website, I decided not to post them all on Facebook. And that’s okay. Don’t feel like you HAVE to share each and every photo with the world.

3. Small Batches

Unless you have an awesome computer and excellent wifi, pace yourself with the uploads. Once you’ve selected an album to put them in, grab 5-10 photos at a time to upload into it. I liked this because a) it did not overwhelm my technology and b) it gave me the chance to look at each one, decide if I really *did* want to put it on FB, and to tag people if Facebook’s scary-accurate face-recognition hadn’t done so already. I also commented on a few photos as I went. If you do end up getting the “FB unresponsive kill/wait” popup, click “wait” and be patient. You don’t want to ruin all your hard work.

4. Check the Tags

At the end of uploading, check the list of people who are tagged in the photos – make sure you did not accidentally tag someone who is not there. The last thing you want is for some poor friend of yours who wasn’t even at the wedding to get a million notifications from photo likes. This is a time, as well, to take off anyone that you feel might not want to be tagged in a photo of any kind. Not everyone loves this whole FB thing.

5. Credit

If possible, give credit and props to your photographer by tagging him/her and even sharing their photo site so your friends and family might buy prints using it. I’m not sure, but I think they might get a cut of those sales – whatever the case, it is nice to let everyone know who took your awesome photos. You can use this opportunity to thank others who made your day special as well. I wanted everyone to know, for example, how grateful I was for my grandmother who sewed my gorgeous red cape for the big day. You can also use your photos to thank your super cool vendors – spread the love!

For more foodie adventures (and post-wedding life) check us out on instagram @fairfaxfoodie

Not Quite #Bobbyflay: Pistachio and Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Pistachio Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Time for our mid-week check-in on our #springbreak goals. We made some in-roads on our ambitious cleaning schedule, but I’m afraid the daily work-out has been transplanted by unexpected work for both of us. I got the good news yesterday of a work promotion (yay!) and Mr. Foodie picked up a new gig this morning. Granted, we were up at 7:30, so we *could* have squeezed in a workout, but instead we lounged in bed with our coffees and watched funny youtube videos until he had to bounce. I admit that the lure of the “vacation” (even though it is a staycation) is powerful. Luckily I squeezed in some personal work progress as well as some spring cleaning (poor Onyx, she hated her bath) before rushing off to the vineyard with my lady friends for a #teachersappreciation special at my favorite winery. I work with these friends, so we talked a lot of shop, but we also had a lot of fun eating cheese and drinking wine #squadgoals.

Chocolate and Pistachios

As you know by now, one of my favorite weekend indulgences is to watch a bit of Food Network on the weekends, and last weekend Mr. Foodie and I caught the end of Bobby Flay’s Brunch show (which I highly recommend!). We found ourselves drooling over his pistachio and chocolate pancakes, so we made a note to pick up said ingredients during our next grocery run. Pistachios and chocolate seem like such a splendid combo, but I’ll admit it would never have occurred to me if I hadn’t seen it on T.V. I guess that is why he makes the major bucks, right? In any case, it was too good not to pass up.

Now Bobby uses fancy chocolate that he cuts by hand, but I just used the chips left over from the chocolate chip cookies I made the other day. We bought the smallest pack of shelled pistachios (because #expensive!), and I roughly chopped those. I put both items into a basic box-made pancake batter and proceeded per the instructions.

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The verdict? Freaking awesome. Mr. Foodie admits that the texture was odd for him (the pieces of pistachio were rather large), but I loved the unexpected crunch and the creamy, slightly bitter, punch of chocolate alongside the sweetness of syrup. I can only imagine how great this dish would be if I actually made it the way Bobby intended. For now, though, it was a major highlight in an otherwise standard breakfast. I always make a double-recipe of pancakes so we can refrigerate the leftovers and have them throughout the week.

Keeping this post short and sweet so I can stay on top of our spring break goals list, but coming up I have a new dinner/lunch recipe of green curry chicken AND we will finally share the recipe for our *favorite* no-lettuce salad that has a summer and winter version, so stay tuned!

For more Foodie adventures, follow us on Instagram @fairfaxfoodie

Spring Break #Goals and Grandma’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Mr. Foodie and I are officially on spring break! Woot! Well we still have work to do, but we decided to utilize this spare time to also work on some projects we’ve been putting off since the wedding. First, I officially became Mrs. Azar today! It only took two plus hours at the social security office, but here I am – newly wed and newly named. We celebrated by having lunch at the grocery store because shopping for groceries when you are ravenous is never a good idea. My first meal as an Azar? Indian food! Oddly, Mr. Foodie had never even tried Indian food before meeting me. Or crab legs, artichokes, and thai food. He gave me his name and I gave him only the best food in existence lol

Our other spring break goals include a major deep clean of the home. We did a pretty good job before we moved to have our fl keys adventure, but a deep clean is a good idea at least once a year. And why not do it during spring when you can leave the windows open? Our cleaning goals include a cat bath, so Onyx is in for a treat. We also plan to work out every day – something we started doing roughly every other day a few weeks ago. I’ve noticed a huge difference in my energy levels. It seems to help with stress as well. I’m just happy I can get through 30 minutes of yoga again without wanting to die.

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We also, of course, have some cooking projects for the week, but honestly we are pulling back on ambitious cooking a bit so we can focus on these other things that we’ve wanted to accomplish for what seems like a long post-wedding while. Easter *is* coming up though, so you can be sure there will be some delicious eats in our future.

Before spring break started, I promised my students that I’d bring chocolate chip cookies in as a treat. These are the kinds of kids that are used to being bribed for everything, so I was careful not to attach the treat to some kind of reward for doing what they’re supposed to be doing. It went pretty well. These cookies are my grandma’s recipe which looks very similar to the basic one on the back of any chocolate chip bag, except in two really big ways: 1) Grandma uses shortening instead of butter and 2) We use half the amount of chocolate chips.

These might seem like tiny adjustments to an otherwise common recipe, but for me, they make a huge difference. In the first place, using shortening will give you a chewier, more cake-like cookie which is my preference. In the second place, I do not have a huge sweet tooth (unlike Mr. Foodie), so I like my cookies to be semi-sweet or salty-sweet. Reducing the number of chips in the cookie lets the buttery (slightly salty) flavor of the cookie dough shine alongside the sweet/bitter chips.

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I remember visiting a friend in Germany and having her produce a box of “American” chocoloate chip cookies – each one was packed to the gills with chocolate chips, and I just laughed, offering to make her my version. Even one of my students was like “Ms. Ravy, did you make sugar cookies AND chocolate chip cookies?” Because some look like they don’t have any chips in them. They gobbled them up just the same and were somewhat shocked when I told them that I made them from scratch.

Mr. Foodie was over the moon when I made these, of course, but most of them went to my colleagues, students, and extended family. I like making baked goods and giving them away – and not just because I’m trying to be healthy. My preference for baked things is to have a taste right out of the oven, when it is still a bit warm and fresh, and then gift the rest. That small, simple experience is ephemeral in nature, and so it seems more valuable than shoveling week old cookies into my mouth while I’m watching netflix.

Grandma’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 C Shortening

3/4 C Brown Sugar

3/4 C Sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 C flour (more/less depending on texture)

water (as needed)

Semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (to taste)

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Mix together the shortening, both sugars, and eggs. Add vanilla, salt, and soda – mix. Add flour 1 cup at a time until the dough forms – it should not be too wet or sticky, but if it ends up too stiff, add a little water as necessary. Add the chips in last and mix until just combined. The amount depends on your taste – 1/4 of a bag works for me in this recipe, but you can also eyeball it. Using a regular spoon, scoop a meatball-sized bunch of dough and put on a lined sheet pan. Keep some space between the cookies since they will spread a bit while baking. Baking time can be between 8 and 11 minutes depending on the size of your cookies, the type of sheet pan you are using, and how hot your oven gets/stays. My rule is to keep an eye on the edges – once they turn brown, pop them out, let them rest and then put them on a drying rack until completely cool. If you let the cookies get totally brown, they will be tasty for a few hours and then get as hard as bricks (but my grandpa actually prefers them that way, so to each their own) 😛

For more foodie adventures, follow us on Instagram @fairfaxfoodie

Chicken Pot Pie w/ Biscuits

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As promised, another chicken recipe! You’ll remember that Mr. Foodie and I often get the “family packs” of chicken breasts from our beloved Wegmans grocery store, so we are always on the lookout for new ways to prepare them so we don’t get bored. There are as many recipes for pot pie as there are days in the year, but I picked this rather simple casserole style one because I found it to be an excellent option for a weeknight meal. You’ll notice that this recipe calls for a LOT of veggies, but I restricted mine to onions and peas – very traditional.

What trips many people up when it comes to chicken pot pie is making the gravy. This is where recipes significantly differ. Some call for butter and flour, some milk, and even some others use other types of thickening agents. Thickening is part of what makes a chicken pot pie tasty. You don’t want to put biscuits or pie dough on top of what is essentially chicken soup.

When Mr. Foodie and I made this dish, we happened to be out of milk, so I made a very simple chicken-stock-and-flour gravy. Cook the onions, add the peas, pour in some chicken stock (1- 1.5 cups depending on how much veggies you’re using), add flour (1 tablespoon at a time) and cook, stirring frequently, until it thickens into a gravy. I’ve found that overthinking gravy causes disastrous results. Embrace the uncertainty that is gravy-making and you will do fine. There is a fair amount of estimating that is done even if you are following a recipe – a little more flour, a little more liquid, etc. until you find the right consistency. Pop the uncooked biscuits on top, bake until the biscuits are golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

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Et voila! Delicious chicken pot pie casserole. This is, by the way, a GREAT dish to use up leftover chicken and leftover veggies. And you don’t have to stop there – leftover turkey would be awesome here as well.

We also got to a little baking this week – I just haven’t had a minute to write about it yet because work has been running me ragged. Feeling super thankful that next week I get most of it off so I can do some other important work and have some fun with friends. I need to recharge!

For more foodie adventures, follow us on Instagram @fairfaxfoodie

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

2 leftover chicken breasts, shredded

1 medium onion

1 cup of frozen peas

1 cup of chicken stock

3-5 Tablespoons of flour

salt

pepper

8 biscuits (pre-made is fine!)

Sautee the onion in a little olive oil, add salt and pepper and frozen peas. Pour in chicken stock and heat. Add flour a bit at a time, stirring, until it thickens to desired consistency. Add more stock or water to loosen if it gets too thick. Add chicken and pour into casserole dish. Put uncooked biscuits on top and bake according to package instructions (we did 350 degrees for 20ish minutes) until the tops are golden brown and the filling is bubbling away!

Planning Our Wedding W/ Apps We Already Use

 

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Isn’t this pancake lovely? I decided to surprise Mr. Foodie with some delicious pancake hearts last weekend. Don’t be fooled, this is a box-mix, but it was beautiful!

 

You may have noticed that, on occasion, I like to write about more than just food and what Mr. Foodie and I are doing in these posts. One thing I discovered when I was planning our wedding was that I really like that sort of thing! It was overwhelming at times, but I had a blast. Just like anything I do, I went a little overboard with the researching, pinning, and planning at first. One of the hardest parts is knowing when to pull up so you don’t end up taking a nosedive. For me that consisted of two things initially: a) limiting the diy, crafty things to a few special touches I wanted to add to the big day and b) not downloading every wedding app recommended in the numerous wedding magazines and articles that I read. It can be immensely tempting. So many cool features! So many helpful guides! But what I realized was that I needed to be spending my precious little wedding planning time (hello, dissertation and full-time job!) actually planning it and not learning how to navigate new tools when the old ones would work just fine. I’m not saying you shouldn’t experiment if you want to; just don’t feel like you have to pile on an already monumental undertaking when you have other options.

 

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Putting to use the Kate Spade pancake mold I got at my bridal shower – isn’t it cute? It is also one of the best ones I’ve ever used – no sticking (even without pam)! 

 

The Apps

  1. Shazam

You’re probably like, what?! How does Shazam help me plan my wedding? Look, some people are immensely gifted at putting a DJ list together in their heads, remembering song names and album titles, and owning a bunch of music already that will work well for getting down on the dance floor. I was not one of those people. It started innocently enough one morning while driving to work – I heard a song on the radio that was so good that I ended up jamming to it mid-traffic like no one was watching my silly butt dancing in the front seat. I was like “this would make a great song for our list.” But I didn’t know the song name or artist, so I Shazamed it. Then forgot about it. Then remembered it when I went to begin my DJ list – and was oh-so-happy to find that Shazam keeps track of all the songs I look up in a helpful list. From then on, I Shazamed every song whether I knew who sang it or not so I could keep a record of everything we liked that we wanted to add to our list. Later, I would update the list using the app. While I’m sure there are much nicer, fancier apps out there that will help you build your playlist, this one worked fine for us!

2. Dropbox

I plan on writing a future post about how Mr. Foodie and I use this helpful file-sharing app to keep our lives (and finances) in order, but for now, I’ll stick to how Dropbox kept me sane during the wedding planning process. Since we already had a shared folder at that point, we started a “wedding” folder and went from there. What I loved about this was being able to access my wedding stuff on the go at any time. If I needed to check a contract detail, there it was, in its little folder, ready to view on my phone. What’s more, Mr. Foodie and I could keep each other informed as new stages of the planning unfolded. We could update the budget spreadsheet if we placed a deposit or the invite list as we received rsvps. There are, of course, many file sharing applications and programs. I would urge you to use the one you are most comfortable with as long as it allows you to organize things into folders and sub-folders. And make sure that your partner, wedding planner, and whoever else is helping you, has access to it. Some of the decisions you make, deposits you put down, and information you gather happens a full year away from the actual date – try to have redundant systems to keep track of these items.

3. Pinterest

As noted in #1, I used Pinterest a lot to begin the wedding planning process. I was already comfortable with this app because I use it to plan all my foodie parties. As anyone who has been to one of my parties can attest, rarely does everything I’ve pinned for that event end up in any way part of the reality. I look at Pinterest boards more like vision boards. I might grab a color from that, a shape from that, a mood from that, but I learned early on to avoid trying to turn my parties into Pinterest-perfect things, and unless you employ a food stylist, lighting designer, and professional grade crafting equipment, you should as well. Let it be a space to explore your wedding dreams and desires, but don’t let it overrun your planning. I’ve already written a cautionary tale about Pinterest pitfalls. That being said, I found it incredibly useful to start the wedding planning process. My advice? Create multiple boards to start – at least one for your dress, one for your flowers, and one for everything else. Consider keeping some boards private – unless you want everyone chiming in on every single conceptual pin you post. Finally, go back later and delete pins that you’ve moved on from. After I made some decisions about wedding decor, I deleted some pins so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed, tempted, or confused about what decisions I had already made.

4) Google Keep

This is the note-taking app I use, but this advice can be applied to whatever note-taking app you like. I just recommend that you do, in fact, use a note-taking app for wedding planning. As organized as you can be, there will be information that is chucked at you out of context throughout the process. Your mom will leave a voicemail telling you that you *have* to invite so-and-so and your sleep-deprived brain will promptly forget about it until she’s staring you down at your next Sunday dinner wondering what happened to that invite. I found Keep super helpful with all kinds of note-taking related to wedding planning. Sometimes I’d be in the middle of something at work and I’d be like “oh! I need to make sure I get that information for that vendor.” Knowing myself well, I would type a quick note in Keep, and every week I’d keep an appointment with myself to look at the notes I took in that app to make sure I had addressed them.

 

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Pro Tip: If using a pancake mold, under-fill it with batter. The batter will puff up and if you make it too thick, it won’t cook properly! 

 

I did not write this post to discourage you from making your wedding planning journey easier on yourself by downloading a cool new app. But I did write it to a) get you to consider the kinds of tools that you will definitely need at some point in this long haul and b) to reconsider some of the apps you use on the regular as possible options for wedding planning.

One day I’ll tell you how being a little analog saved our wedding from a major disaster, but that is a story for a future post 😉

Did you use a new/old app for your wedding planning? I’d love to hear how it went!

For more Fairfax Foodie adventures, follow us on instagram @fairfaxfoodie

 

Date Night Chicken Parmesan… without the Parmesan

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First, sorry about the blurry pic – I was in a hurry to eat it :). Second, this looks like a HUGE piece of chicken, but it is a normal breast, flattened. We did end up having leftovers. 

After perhaps the longest work week of my adult life, I am so unbelievably happy to be watching the Food Network in my jammies and blogging this morning! It was a bit of a lackluster cooking week because both Mr. Foodie and I were hella busy, but he did throw together an awesome new soup that we are calling ETP Soup – “empty the pantry soup.” It had black-eyed peas, kale, and chicken, but the exciting part was the base – sauteed onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes + homemade chicken stock, of course! It was just the ticket when I came home after a long day at the office. We popped the sliding glass door open, plugged in the twinkle lights, and sipped our delicious soup! I wish I had a picture of it, but we’ll just have to be satisfied with a word-picture lol

The weekend started off on a good note with some chill time with some of my girlfriends and a trip to the winery where we got married! My mom is a club member there, so I volunteered to “pick up” (aka drink) her latest wine shipment. It was so sunny that all my pics were washed out, but the wind kept it from being too warm – and overly crowded.

When I got home, Mr. Foodie was starting dinner – is there anything better than a partner who cooks?! – which consisted primarily of a version of chicken Parmesan and, again, miscellaneous pantry sides because we have yet to get groceries for the week. It turned out incredibly delicious! After dinner we snuggled on the couch and watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – such a good movie. I needed that day/night SO much.

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Mr. Foodie did not have any Parmesan on hand when he began his dinner prep, so we made do with shredded mozzarella. We used our new meat tenderizer to flatten two chicken breasts inside a plastic bag (this is fairly standard for chicken parm, but also helps speed up the cooking time/keep it consistent). He dredged the flattened breasts in an egg mixture and whole wheat panko bread crumbs which he seasoned with salt and pepper. Instead of frying the chicken, he baked it at 350 for 30 minutes. It was perfectly cooked and crunchy when he poured the tomato sauce over the chicken and sprinkled with the mozzarella. Then he popped it back in the oven to heat the sauce and melt the cheese. He maybe put a little too much sauce on for my taste, but he LOVES things covered in sauce. In any case, it worked wonderfully – it didn’t compromise the crunch of the panko breading in the least. The chicken was juicy, the breading was crisp, the sauce was tangy, and the cheese was perfectly creamy. You can see where a little salty/nutty parm would be a good addition to that mix, but sometimes you just have to work with what you got.

Last week we picked up a huge pack of chicken breasts and since our cooking last week was haphazard at best, we still have a LOT of chicken to work with. So this week we are finding some creative ways to utilize all this chicken without getting bored. What Mr. Foodie doesn’t know yet is I’m planning to make my first ever green curry chicken this week. Green curry is our favorite Thai dish, so he’s in for a treat!

For more Fairfax Foodie adventures, check us out on instagram @fairfaxfoodie (where I promise to update it a little more often this week lol)