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Weddings at The Mansion

Nicki Ann's Wedding Blog

In her blog, Nikki Ann shares with you her insights, thoughts, and feelings on all things women, wedding, marriage, and event-related.

Bridal Boot Camp: Super Foods to the Rescue!

April 30th, 2012

I can’t contain it. I am so excited to write this post. People always talk about how you should view food as fuel rather than a treat or reward. I don’t understand why we can’t do both. There are so many amazingly nutritious and delicious foods out there. It is just a matter of figuring out how to prepare it!

Photo Source

I recently started a love affair with quinoa. I was scared at first. I wouldn’t find it in the grocery store and was too afraid to ask where it was because I had no clue how to pronounce it. So let me help you with that… keen-wa. Easy enough, right? I was so excited and inspired to write this post to share with you when I was reading the April issue of Self magazine. Among the top 10 super foods, quinoa was featured and a bunch of recipes followed. I am pretty excited to try some of them out and I am going to share them with you in just a moment.

But first, what is quinoa and why should we eat it? Quinoa is a whole grain, actually more of a seed. A lot of people like to use in in place of rice and is actually pretty similar to prepare. It is gluten and wheat free, packed with protein, low on the glycemic index and full of fiber. I honestly don’t think I need to explain why you need to eat it after listing all of that, right?

Now to share the recipes from Self…

Banana Nut Pancakes

Mix together 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 2 egg whites, 1/4 cup milk (1%, skim, or almond are good!), 1 tsp brown sugar, and 1/4 tsp vanilla. Add in 1/4 sliced banana. Spray pan with non-stick spray and pour in batter. Cook pancakes like usual. Top with 2 tbsp non-fat Greek yogurt, another 1/4 sliced banana, 2 tbsp chopped walnuts and 1 tsp maple syrup.

Parmesan Quinoa

This one is really easy… 1/2 cup cooked quinoa and top it with 2 tbsp marinara (preferably organic!) and 2 tsp grated Parmesan. Done!

Chicken and Quinoa Tossed Salad

In a bowl, toss 2/3 cup cooked quinoa with 1/4 cup baby spinach and 1/4 cup shredded carrots. Top with 3 oz chopped, grilled chicken, 2 tbsp crumbled blue cheese, 1 tbsp dried cranberries, 1 tbsp chopped walnuts and drizzle with 1 tsp balsamic vinegar and 1/2 tsp olive oil. Sounds great for a warm, spring day, doesn’t it?

Blueberry Maple Hot Cereal

Like oatmeal but are getting tired of it? Here’s a great alternative! Combine 3/4 cup cooked quinoa, 2/3 cup milk (again, 1%, skim or almond are good!), 1/4 tsp cinnamon in a microwave safe bowl. Cook until hot, about 90 seconds and top with 1/2 cup blueberries 1 tbsp chopped walnuts and 1 tsp maple syrup.

Fried Egg over Spinach Quinoa

Cook 1 cup spinach with 1/2 cooked quinoa in a small skillet until spinach wilts. Transfer onto plate. Fry 1 egg in pan with non-stick spray and put cooked egg on spinach/quinoa mixture. Serve with 1 grapefruit or other fruit of your choice!

Quinoa-Edamame Salad with Ginger Dressing

Toss together 1 cup cooked quinoa, 2/3 cup shelled, cooked edamame, 1/4 cup shredded carrots, and 1/4 chopped cucumber. In another bowl, mix 2 tsp toasted sesame oil, 1 tsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce, 1/2 tsp grated ginger, and 1/4 tsp garlic powder. Toss together and enjoy! 

That last one is the most intriguing to me. I can’t wait to try it!!

If you want to read more about the super foods or recipes listed in Self, just click here.



Friday Finds 4.27.12

April 27th, 2012

Ok, this find is going to be slightly out of the ordinary, but I came across this and couldn’t help but smile. I immediately thought of the reaction my husband would have had if I had given him this as a gift before his bachelor party. He might have shrieked like a little girl at the sight.

Yes. I really did just post a plastic beer boot. To be honest, The Man Registry has quite a few great gift options for the guys. They only say they want those crystal flutes. They don’t really want them. Or I should say, they want them because you want them. So why not have a little fun with your guy and give him a gift that will get people talking and laughing with him while he is out and about with this best buds celebrating the upcoming nuptials. At least he can’t break it. He most likely will break the crystal flutes…



Inspiration: It’s Gonna be a Bright Sunshine-y Day

April 26th, 2012

These colors really just remind me of a bright summer day. So in other words, it’s wishful thinking on a dreary day like today. I just needed a little pick me up and thought this was the best way to do it. Plus, a bride of mine is considering these colors for her wedding, so I figured I’d post today and share some of the happiness. I love these colors together because they compliment each other so perfectly. Every time I do one of these, I wish I were planning my wedding all over again! At least I can live vicariously through our brides. In my head, I pretend they are all mine anyway!



Lazy mornings spark inspiration…

April 25th, 2012

This morning, I decided to be a bit lazy. Rather than getting up and getting my workout in before work, I decided to watch a movie. What movie? Well, I’m flattered you cared enough to ask. My wonderful hubby recently bought An Affair to Remember for me. Since that is not really his type of movie, I figured I would pop it in and relax a bit. Let me tell you, I was hit immediately with inspiration.

So what sparked the inspiration? The fashion, of course. When I saw Deborah Kerr in the orange and beige gown at the beginning of the movie, I knew it would make a gorgeous wedding gown.

I instantly fell in love. This was just the first of many dresses to win me over. The movie is full of them! But when I saw this one in particular, it reminded me of the Maggie Sottero Collection I recently browsed through. To be honest, I try not to look at bridal gowns for the simple fact that I yearn for another one every single time. I decided that for you, I would suffer and peek through them again to grab a few to share.

I love the grecian feel of these gowns and think they mirror Deborah Kerr’s gown in An Affair to Remember, yet bring a modern twist to the table. And yes, now I wish I could go try on gowns again…





Newbie at the Mansion…

April 25th, 2012

Well, ladies and gents, today I get to introduce our new intern, Jennifer. She wanted to write a little something to help you get to know her a tiny bit. If you really want to meet her, you’ll have to schedule an appointment to come in and check us out :)

Here’s what she had to say:

“As many of you have heard or read a little I am the new intern at the Mansion at Maple Heights. I am working with Nicole Pope doing event planning. Just to share a little about me- my name is Jennifer Eisenbeis, I was born in Pittsburgh, PA and am 22 years old. I am a child of three with a older brother and older sister. I just finished classes at Pittsburgh Technical Institute in hospitality. Time flies when you’re in college! When you’re following something that you know makes you happy and you enjoy it at all times, you know it’s what your meant to do. I found that calling in high school when I started creating beading classes to create jewelry for a woman’s shelter. The creativity, organization, planning, communicating with others, and helping people with special things is something I have always enjoyed and, that’s what lead me to the path I am in now. To help people put together special events of any sort is something amazing that I love to do and help them with. Being able to be an Intern at the Mansion is something that is amazing to me as well as the services offered by the Mansion “WOW” me. It is an amazing place and I know I am going to learn so much about event planning with hands on experience from Nicole.”

Jennifer is planning on writing a few posts for the blog as well. Since she is completely new to the business, it will be a nice change to get a fresh perspective. So be sure to give Jennifer a big Mansion welcome when you see her :)


Tuesday Shoesday, Edition 43

April 24th, 2012

Accessorizing is the key to any well put together outfit. So why not accessorize your shoes too? Shoes have feelings, you know! When I saw these shoe clips from BHLDN, I knew they were perfect for the practical bride.

You can buy a pair of heels that you would wear all the time and simply clip these on for the big day. You can easily add or remove the clip for everyday wear! If that doesn’t scream practicality, I don’t know what does!




Help me, help you…

April 23rd, 2012

As you know from reading, I write my posts from a fairly relaxed and sometimes grammatically incorrect standpoint. I try my best to incorporate what you, the bride/reader, might want to read including tips, suggestions, shoes (!), etiquette, etc. When I am writing, I think about what things I wanted to know and read about while I was planning my own wedding. But despite my attempts, I sometimes can’t come up with new topics and the last thing I want to do is bore you.

So now I really want to hear from you! What questions do you have? What color schemes are you using? What tips do you think would be useful? If you tell me what you need help with, I will answer! Talk to me!!!!



Friday Finds 4.20.12

April 20th, 2012

Now that you have gotten some great tips on how to become a healthier you, I think it is time to celebrate and give you a little something fun for your honeymoon. 

I love the teal and white polka dots and stripes, but there are a ton of color options with this suit. Even a few neon colors for those of you who want to really show off your tan! Vickie’s (my little pet name for Victoria’s Secret since I love their clothing!) has so many great bathing suit options that are suiting for any body type. So feel free to shop around while on the site and treat yourself to a little treat for all your hard work!

Regardless of how much you weigh or what size you are on your wedding day, your new husband is going to love you more than he did yesterday. So do this for you and your health and not for any other reason than wanting to live a long and happy life with him.




Bridal Boot Camp: Five Great Full Body Workouts

April 19th, 2012

Even though nutrition influences 80% of your physique, exercise is just as important for creating a lean, toned look. Exercise helps keep your heart, lungs and every other part of your body healthy. Since you are a busy bride-to-be, you may or may not have an exorbitant amount of time to spend in the gym. You should make your health a priority, so try to squeeze in some exercise at least 3 days a week – more if you want to make drastic changes in your body before the big day. Along with eating healthy, exercise is going to allow you to trim fat and achieve that lean body of your dreams. I figured I would share a few exercises that really help to get your body in bikini shape fast.

1. Push ups

Push ups have been around forever. Why? Simply because they work everything and are effective. When I first started working out, I could barely do 5 girly push ups (on my knees rather than toes) without shaking all over. Now I can do 10 “real” push ups. I know it isn’t that many but I am proud of that accomplishment. I can tell you that I was sore ALL OVER at first. Push ups work your back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, chest and core muscles. No worries if you need to start on your knees. You will get stronger. Eventually, you will be able to get up on your toes and bang them out like nothing. So hit the deck ladies!

2. Zumba

If you haven’t tried Zumba yet, you should find the nearest class location and start now. Zumba is a Latin-inspired dance fitness program and about 12 million people do it weekly (says Self Magazine). Basically, you get to shake your booty to upbeat Latin grooves and call it exercise. Not only is it a great workout, but it’s fun. I find that I always smile and laugh (even if it is at myself!) during the classes. Even if you aren’t the best dancer in the world, the key is to just keep moving through the whole class. You will eventually learn the moves and your inner dancing diva will come out.

If you are nervous about flaunting your non-existent dancing skills in front of a bunch of strangers, there are a ton of Zumba videos out there that you can do in the comfort of your own home. Don’t forget to keep a large bottle of water and a towel handy. You will need it!

3. Circuit Training

Circuit training is one of the best ways to really get a good workout in a short amount of time. A good circuit consists of a combination of strength training and cardio. Muscle helps burn fat, so don’t be afraid to lift a few weights. Cardio alone will not cut it. The most important thing to keep in mind while doing the circuit is that you must move from exercise to exercise quickly only taking a few seconds to switch your workout space/equipment if necessary and take a quick drink of water. You have to keep your heart rate up to burn the most amount of calories in the shortest amount of time.

Not sure what to do during the circuit? If you have a gym membership, you can always hire a trainer for a few days to teach you how to use the machines and work with you to create the best circuit for you and your body’s needs. If you don’t, you can always seek help from the good old internet. I found this article featuring a few moves from the mastermind of P90X ,Tony Horton, from Self Magazine. It will give you a taste of P90X so you can decide if it is for you. I have a love/hate relationship with superman banana, but that sucker works!

4. Lunge/Arm Combo

I can’t think of a woman out there who does not long for lean, toned, supermodel-like gams. With summer coming and shorts weather looming over us, it’s time to get those legs in shape! Lunges work your thighs, calves, butt and core all in one little step, literally. Add in some bicep curls, shoulder presses or other arm exercises while lunging and it is a completely different story. There are a couple of key things to note when doing a lunge. Make sure your front knee does not extend past your ankle when stepping into your lunge. This puts unnecessary pressure on your knees and can cause pain. If you have bad knees, simply do not go as deep into your lunge. Going about halfway down still works those muscles. Once your legs get stronger, you may be able to lunge deeper. Just take it slow. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

5. Yoga

I admit it. I hate yoga. I know I am probably one of the only people out there who feels this way about it. Still, I can’t deny that it is a good workout. It works every muscle in your body through calming moves and stretches. I think the thing that I dislike about it is the speed, or lack thereof. I prefer upbeat workouts. However, yoga can give you quite a workout without the faster pace of aerobics or circuit training. If you do Bikram yoga, you are probably going to sweat more than a cold glass of iced tea on a 110 degree day. We all want long, lean muscles and if you’ve ever seen a yoga instructor, you know you can’t go wrong with this exercise.

So now that I’ve laid out a few options for you for exercise, I don’t want to hear any excuses. Every single one of these workouts can be done in the comfort of your own home and do not require a ton of gym equipment to complete. I know you will love how you look and feel if you just commit to doing at least 30 minutes of exercise 3 or 4 times a week for the next 30 days. Mix that with a healthy, clean diet and I can guarantee you will be super excited to strut your stuff on your big day and honeymoon!




Bridal Boot Camp: 5 Easy-Peasy Breakfasts

April 18th, 2012

So if you read my post last week about the 5 Simple Rules for Getting in Shape, you now know that it is true. Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. A healthy breakfast does not consist of coffee, cream and sugar. There is absolutely nothing nutritional about coffee, even though I know we all love it.

There are so many options for breakfast, but I typically tend to stick with just a few of my favorites. I like to keep things simple. Since I know you have most likely not taken a sabbatical in order to plan your wedding, you need quick and easy breakfasts that you can grab and run out the door. So today I am sharing a few of my simple favorites.

5 Easy-Peasy Breakfasts

1. Oatmeal 

OK, let me just get one thing straight here. Do not, I repeat, do not eat those instant oatmeal packets. They are loaded with sugar and all other kinds of crap that is not really healthy. Remember, if you cannot pronounce the ingredients listed, it isn’t clean. What you want to do is purchase Steel-Cut Oats, Rolled Oats or Quick Oats. If you like instant oatmeal, I suggest that you start with the Quick Oats and work your way up to the Steel-Cut, which is the best of the three options. It will be less of a shock to your taste buds since they have quite different textures. Now, you not condemned to eating bland oatmeal forever. You can load it up with yummy fruits, spices or even protein powder to make it taste amazing. A few combos that I like are fresh apples and cinnamon, banana and sliced almonds, or some blueberries and agave. It is really a simple breakfast. Just add water and cook! If you figure out a way to keep the oatmeal from exploding in your microwave, please let me know. I always walk away and come back to an overflowed bowl. Every darn time.

2. Egg Sammies/Wraps

This one is a no-brainer. Egg sammies are easy and quick to take on the road if necessary. I love this Egg & Spinach Sandwich recipe that Kati Heifner posted on her blog (which has a ton of other recipes so be sure to stick around on there for a bit!). This one is super simple and you can freeze them to  make any morning you are running late. Honestly, I love egg sammies so much I could eat them every day. The protein is super filling and keeps me energized for the morning ahead. If you make these with meat, make sure you are using a lean meat. Ham and bacon can be full of sodium, so look out for low sodium alternatives and even turkey based options. I personally love turkey bacon and prefer it to regular bacon! If you haven’t already, definitely try it at least once.

3. Omelets

I love omelets. Wanna know why? Because if I have that bottomless pit feeling, I can always eat a nice big omelet and get rid of that feeling early. Depending on the intensity of your workout, you can eat between 4-6 egg whites per omelet. I don’t know if you realize just how big of an omelet you can make with that many whites! I like to use the All Whites in a carton so I don’t waste so many eggs. Once you have the egg whites separated or measured out, just spray your pan with non-stick spray and pour them in. Here is the best part – you can eat as many veggies as you want! So load that omelet up with whatever you want- mushrooms, green peppers, onions, broccoli, etc. I have even used brussel sprouts and asparagus! Then, you can sprinkle a bit of cheese on the top and you have your omelet. It literally takes 10 minutes to make and if you have to eat it on the go and have some whole wheat tortilla shells, you can toss it in a wrap and go!

4. Ezekiel Toast

If you are one of those people who used to skip breakfast, you might need a lighter option to help break yourself in to eating a larger breakfast. I have been hearing about Ezekiel bread for the longest time, but just recently tried it. I am in LOVE! I love the flavor of the toast all by itself. I sometimes have one slice with my omelet if I’ve had a hard workout that morning. But if you want to skip the eggs, layer on some peanut butter (my favorite is Smucker’s Organic Peanut Butter with only 1 gram of sugar per serving) and 1/2 of a banana sliced and split between the two slices. The thing about eating toast for breakfast is that you still need to incorporate some sort of protein, otherwise there is not enough nutritional value in that meal. So by adding the peanut butter, you are getting more protein in that meal which will keep you energized. Another favorite of mine is almond butter and fresh, sliced strawberries. Yummy!

5. Protein or Meal Replacement Shake

Don’t laugh. I drink protein shakes. It’s true. I find that one of the easiest ways to grab a quick meal is to mix up a shake. Now, there are a few things to look at when choosing a protein for you. Make sure they are not loaded with sugar and a bunch of other junk. I have a few ways I make these. One is to use Blue Diamond Unsweetened Almond Milk as the mixer. I simply fill up my blender bottle (the little plastic to go cups with the metal whisk ball inside) with 8-12 ounces of almond milk, shake and go. The other way is to put the powder in a blender with 8 ounces of water and a fruit of your choice. I like to use 1/2 banana, 1 cup of blueberries or 1/2 cup of sliced strawberries depending on the flavor of powder I am using. I am also a huge fan of using 1 tablespoon of peanut butter or PB2, which is a peanut butter powder, and the chocolate flavored protein. Talk about heaven in a cup!

Well that is it. Five Easy-Peasy breakfasts. I know that you are going to eat your breakfast every day now, right?

Now, let’s get honeymoon bikini ready!!!