Tuesday, January 22, 2013

You Said Blueberry What?!

It's been a while people. And by a while I mean like two weeks. How was everyone's weekend?! I spent mine relaxing mostly (watching The Hills on Netflex), I felt pretty lazy if I'm just being honest. We need days like that sometimes to re-cooperate,  no shame in that! Due to the last few weeks being devoted to getting into the swing of school, wedding planning, and catching up with friends, I haven't had much time to write about our most recent endeavors.

Where should I start?

This one needs a little background info.

Braden and I spent a few days in my hometown the week after Christmas. While we were there, my wonderful friend Paige and her family had the two of us and my mom (+ our friend Megan) over for dinner. Her mom is infamous for her awesome mashed potatoes, so naturally she made that the star of the meal. Dinner was delicious, but dessert had us especially intrigued. Paige's parent served everyone vanilla ice cream, but brought out a mysterious bottle and said "I'm not going to tell you what it is, just try it." Braden and I are usually adventurous, so we decided to go for it.

Blueberry balsamic.

Yes, I said it, blueberry balsamic paired with vanilla ice cream. Sounds awful right? Trust me, it is SO good. Of course, this turned into a great conversation about where the balsamic originated. They told us that there are two stores, one in Columbia and one in Greenville. Bray and I put it on our "to-do" list as soon as we got back to the Upstate.

Fast forward a few weeks.

We went to Greenville to check out a reception venue, and as soon as we let Braden mentioned the olive oil company. It was still pretty early (around 10:30am) so the last thing I wanted was to taste test olive oils and balsamic dressings. But, we went for it anyways, you only live once right?

As soon as we walked in we were greeted by the co-owner of the company. He explained to us the process of taste testing the olive oils. They give you a bowl with little pieces of bread so that you can test each olive oil. He explained many combinations, normal and strange, and told us about each olive oils health benefits, origin, and their best sellers. Once he got done explaining everything we were set lose to try everything!

So many great choices, they were all so good. He told us that the Tuscan Herb was one of their best sellers, which we ended up leaving with. It was too good to pass up.

After tasting all of the olive oils, you're in for a real treat. We were given a bowl of ice cream and got the run down about each of the balsamic. There were flavors from dark espresso, peach, to lavender, all of which are awesome. One of my personal favorites was Dark Espresso and Dark Chocolate. We already knew blueberry was a great choice, so we tried it in variations with the chocolate and other flavors.

Taste tester in action.

After trying multiple flavors and combinations, we ended up purchasing the blueberry and the dark chocolate. Both excellent choices.

Give Palmetto Olive Oil Co. a try! It's a fun little date spot, they make it a great experience. Not to mention that olive oil is great for adding depth to the flavor of foods and offers many health benefits. It wouldn't hurt to give some fun flavors a try when you're cooking, we've loved having the Tuscan Herb.

Here's the company's info if you're interested:
2247 Augusta Street, Greenville, SC 29605

Hope you all have a wonderful week, happy tasting!

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Day I Said Yes to My Best Friend

It was December 7, 2012. My Friday morning started out like any other. The only difference was that I had a text from Braden, which wasn't completely out of the ordinary, but it was a witty little poem asking me to FCA's tacky sweater shag that evening.

"I love you Jess, what more can I say
I guess I'll show you in a romantic way
I'll pick you up around 5:45
So that we can celebrate all the good in our lives
Dress nice because we will start our evening
at one of your favorite restaurants in Greenville
But this is just the start of our night,
Will you go to the tacky sweater shag tonight?"

I got excited and spent the day trying to figure out where we could possibly be going in Greenville. I have quite a few favorites and I couldn't settle on one! After class I started getting ready for our date that night. I had trouble picking out an outfit because I had no idea where we were going. I settled on a black and white dress with a red scarf that my wonderful friend Brinley let me borrow.

As promised, Braden showed up on time with 20 beautiful red roses in hand. He has only brought me flowers on one other occasion, our one year anniversary. He handed the flowers to me and said happy 20 months. At that point I didn't see any red flashing signs, because he is quite the romantic anyway. 

We got in the car and headed to downtown Greenville. We chatted like normal on the drive, but he mentioned that he had some exciting news for me once we sat down to dinner. Naturally, all I could think of was what this "exciting news" could be, and why did it have to wait until dinner? We pulled up at Nantucket Seafood Grill, one of my absolute favorite restaurants that I've only been to one other time on a date with Bray. I knew it was a fancy date night when we had the valet park the car. We were seated by the window where we could see people ice skating, it was such a beautiful backdrop for the evening.

We went all out, ordering an appetizer of crab cakes, huge seafood entrees, wine, and dessert. As soon as we ordered our drinks he finally found an appropriate time to tell me the exciting news. Braden has been co-oping at BMW Manufacturing for the past year, and that night actually marked his final day as a co-op. That was huge news and extremely exciting. The only time we had been to Nantucket prior to this night was right after he got his first pay check at BMW, how fitting right?

After dinner we were stuffed and felt the need to walk it off a little. We walked past the ice skaters and ran into Santa Claus, yes, I did say Santa Claus. I've got to admit that running into SC himself and seeing his sleigh made my night. 

We headed back to the car because it was so cold outside. I had no idea where our next stop was, but as soon as he pulled up at McPherson park downtown I knew something special was about to happen. This park is special to us, because this is where we first said I love you on July 15, 2011. At this point, I was thinking "okay, maybe it's about to happen here" thinking I had figured out what was going on. We got on the swings and he asked me if I remembered what happened there. I said of course, it's the exact place where he told me he loved me. Right after that moment, he jumped up and got on the rocking horse and pretended to be a jockey.. we can only be serious for so long!

We started walking around and after a few more minutes we went back to the car. I felt a little disappointed because I thought I had solved the mystery. I was sure that he was about to propose in the park. Well, I was wrong. When we got back in the car he asked if I wanted to head to the tacky sweater shag. With a disappointing sigh I said "sure." The drive back to Clemson was a little quieter, my mind was wandering trying to figure out when on earth he was going to ask me to marry him.. and the fact that I did not want to go to the tacky sweater shag!

We pulled up at the Madren Center, which has held many FCA dances during our relationship. I didn't think much about the Christmas lights on the dance floor, because I figured the Madren Center had held an event there. I'm one of caution, so when we started walking towards the dance floor framed by lights I thought we were somewhere we shouldn't be. He plugged his iPod into the speakers that had been set up earlier in the day. I figured out then that he had already planned this, and it was no coincidence that the dance floor was set up for two.

We shagged and danced to "our songs," three of them. As soon as Rascal Flatts "When the Sand Runs Out" started playing, he started dancing much slower. At this point, I could tell he was getting a little emotional. The song says "I want to be running when the sand runs out," so he asked me, "Do you want to keep running with me?" At that moment he dropped down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was overtaken by surprise, excitement, and emotions so those few moments are a blur to me. All I can remember saying is "IS THIS REAL, is this really happening?!"

As soon as he proposed, my two wonderful friends Annabeth and Jen came out of the bushes, they had been taking pictures the entire time! Braden grabbed my hand and we ran towards the lake. Before I knew it, fireworks started going off over the lake. Talk about a perfect moment, I was still in such utter shock that it was hard to pay attention to the beautiful display going on in front of us! All I could do was look up and smile at him so big, I still had to keep asking "is this real?!"

We danced for a song or two and enjoyed the giddiness that had overtaken us for the past few moments. Once we got our bearings he said that we could leave. I wanted to call my mom, but he convinced me that my sweet friend Brin would want to see me call her and hear my moms reaction over the phone. Obviously not thinking clearly, I agreed, under normal circumstances I would've thought that was kind of random. We pulled into where Brinley lives and Braden started distracting me, he kept telling me to look at my ring and telling me about it. When I looked up we had pulled up to the clubhouse. I don't remember what he was saying, it's still all a blur, but the next thing I knew he had opened the door and all of our family and friends yelled SURPRISE!!!

We spent the remainder of the night celebrating with friends, taking pictures, and basking in the fact that we were finally engaged. I floated on cloud nine all night long, I hardly slept.

The moment I woke up I looked at my hand, it still didn't feel real.

It STILL doesn't feel real. I am marrying my best friend, the biggest blessing I could ever ask for!