Category Archives: Date Nights

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all!

After celebrating the wedding of Jackie and Ryan until about 10pm, we headed home to celebrate with Toby (read take the awful cone of shame off her head) and Winston. We snuggled up and watched some show about car restoration and then the end of Ryan Seacrest’s NYE Rocking Eve. We had champagne at midnight which we drank out of our wedding champagne flutes.

We headed to bed around 12:30. Haha. Wild night, I know!

On this rainy morning, I’m still in my pajamas but making a delicious breakfast pizza for us to enjoy.

The recipe is here. I deviated a bit by using real eggs (4 eggs is the equivalent of 8 ounces of egg substitute). I also added gravy…I took the grease from the sausage, sifted in a little flour and added milk, salt and pepper. It was a very light gravy, but I thought it would add a little better flavor.

20130101-103413.jpg To finish off the champagne from last night we mixed it with grapefruit juice for a different kind of mimosa. πŸ™‚ Not much planned for the day but waiting for puppy to go number #2. πŸ™‚

Happy New Year! Or Felize Nuevo AΓ±o!


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A Couples Beach Vacation: Day 1

As I sit on our amazing balcony today listening to some music mixed with the crash of the waves on the beach (very poetic, I know), I can’t help but think life is pretty awesome.

I’ve got a tasty bagel with homemade in Tennessee almond butter and cream cheese and a great plan for day two at the beach.

Yesterday we left the house at 5 a.m. It took a bit of rearranging and puzzle doing to get all the necessities into Clint and Mary’s jeep, but we made it work without having to leave anything behind. Clint drove, Bub navigated and Mary and I slept/read/bossed from the back seats. We got down here around 1 or 2 p.m., settled into our awesome condo, grabbed an overpriced, just-ok lunch at Bubbas (just because) and Mary and I got matching tshirts. Then we hit the grocery store to keep our costs down this week…sandwich meat and fixins and breakfast stuff and all. After the grocery, we enjoyed a sit on our balcony until it was time to head to dinner.

We had intended to have dinner at Floribama, but were talked out of it by our cab driver who told us to eat at Happy Harbor instead. It was a fine enough meal. I had a delicious crawfish and corn chowder and the salad bar. Bub had a blackened grouper and a WAY over-buttered piece of corn and some rice. Clint and Mary split a Grouper Florentine with rice and broccoli. We shared some Yellowfin Smoked Tuna dip and crackers and bushwackers for dessert (an ice cream based drink with chocolate syrup…can’t go wrong in my opinion). After dinner (which was cheaper than our mediocre lunch) we headed over to Floribama but were dissuaded from going in when a nice couple from Maryville told us it wasn’t really worth the $3 cover to get in and that we should try it again later in the week. Gotta love East Tennesseans! πŸ™‚

After catching a ride back from a very helpful cab driver home, we walked the beach and played with some kids who were catching sand crabs in buckets with flashlights. It was so creepy. The kids were disturbing the crabs with the light and as they scooted across the sand, they would catch them in nets and put them in a bucket. One kid’s bucket looked like something off Fear Factor with all those tiny, spider-looking crabs running around in there…so creepy. We put our feet in the ocean and then made our way back up to bed as it was a VERY long day!

Today, we are headed to the beach…and that’s it. I got up early and did my 100 workout as instructed by my trainer so I feel pretty good about my ability to do whatever I want today. We might venture up for lunch and then Mary and I are going to pick up dinner (a pre-made low country boil) from a place called Steamers and bring it back so we can eat on our balcony with an amazing beach view…


Not too bad, huh?

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Ringing in the New Year with Filet and Souffle!

As I mentioned in a previous post, Bub and I decided to do our own thing this New Year’s Eve. We decided to stay in. So I decided to cook us a nice meal to ring in the New Year. No black eyed peas (the food or the band), but was thinking to get us in the mood for our Caribbean vacation, I’d make Caribbean pork and rice with grilled pineapple and salad with banana souffles for dessert.

Luckily, I went home to visit my mom on Friday and she sent me home with two bacon-wrapped filets. Of course, upon seeing those, Bub wanted them for dinner tonight…which was fine with me because I hadn’t stumbled upon any Caribbean-themed recipe that struck my fancy yet, and I hadn’t been to the grocery store. The only thing that stuck from the original plan was the banana souffles.

So tonight, we had bacon-wrapped filet mignon, baked potatoes and salad with banana souffles for dessert.

The bacon-wrapped filet mignon was coated with olive oil and a little salt and pepper and grilled 6 minutes a side and then seared on its ends for a few minutes to cook the bacon. The baked potatoes were coated in olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt and cooked in a 350 degree oven for one hour. The salad was dumped out of a bag and sprinkled with carrot strings, blue and cheddar cheese and store-bought dressing.

Muy delicioso!

The banana souffle recipe came from Food & Wine. I prepared them in the new ramekins I got for Christmas from Aunt Becky. πŸ™‚



I was so tickled when these came out because, to be completely honest, I didn’t think I could do these. They were so good. Very tasty even though I made them with sucra instead of real sugar. I think they would have been even better with some blueberries chocolate chips in them :), and maybe could have stayed in a few minutes longer to crispy up the crust, but still…they were a yummy light cap toΒ  a delicious dinner. (Thanks for the steaks, mom!)

We made a wine run last night and planned to drink all six bottles we brought home, plus the two that were already in the wine fridge AND the baby bottle of champagne we picked up…just kidding…though we did drink SOME wine and at the tiny bottle of champagne.

Obviously the meal wasn’t exactly in line with a healthy start to the new year…but it was decadent and delicious, so I feel like it must’ve done some good to help us in maybe setting ourselves up for a little prosperity for next year.

Having been so busy with work this holiday season, I was really glad to stay home and enjoy the strike of midnight with my husband and our tiny family. Christmas got taken down this morning (even though I didn’t make it to organizing the fridge or the pantry) so I feel pretty good about sending 2011 in this way…happy at home with my husband.

I’ve never been much for a wild NYE night out, but I love a good meal and love the good company of my Bub, so I didn’t really feel like we could go wrong. πŸ™‚

We even pulled out our wedding champagne flutes and used them for the very first time!


Then I quickly hand-washed them and put them away! πŸ™‚ No glass-breaking disasters necessary to start the new year!

Hope everyone else had a great NYE and rang it in how YOU wanted to. I know I did and I’m certainly looking forward to what 2012 will bring us. Speaking of 2012…as the new year comes, are you thinking of resolutions to help make you and your life better?

If so, I’ll leave you with a list from a 2011 Time Magazine article called Top 10 Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions. If you don’t have a resolution, pick one from here!

  1. Lose weight and get fit. Research says that 60% of newly purchased gym memberships go unused and attendance is usually back to normal at the gym by mid-February. I know this to be true, but if you’re working on this resolution yourself, I wish you luck. It’s been tough for me, but rewarding.
  2. Quit smoking. This is not and will not ever be a resolution of mine…I don’t smoke. I think it sucks, and stinks, and is gross. I know a few people I’d like to give this up!
  3. Learn something new. I am surprised to see that this is a commonly failed resolution… if you’re doing your job right, living life right, you should be learning AT.LEAST.SOMETHING.EVERYDAY. Sheesh.
  4. Eat healthier and diet. Goes great with the resolution at the top of this list. Pairing the two together will probably lead to better success all around.
  5. Get out of debt and save money. Again, a tough one, because it involves changing habits and making better decisions. Fortunately for me, my husband is a banker and has really made me want to be better at this, so I’m starting 2012 with some good financial goals and a conscious effort to make better choices when it comes to money.
  6. Spend more time with family. I love my family (extended and immediate). It’s always a good idea to spend more time with them…especially since my sister is moving to California this year.
  7. Travel to new places. Check this one off the list because this year I’m going to Hilton Head (never been) and Barbados…and hopefully a couple other places I haven’t been before in between!
  8. Be less stressed. I’m not sure this is possible for me, but I do always try to work at living in the moment and being focused in the here and now. I will continue that this year.
  9. Volunteer. Always a good decision.
  10. Drink less. I started doing this in preparation for the wedding early this year. It’s a tough one because drinking is an adult luxury I really enjoy, but typically I end up talking myself out of over-indulging by reminding myself that the calories aren’t always worth the time in the gym to work them off (and when I feel like crap in the morning, I really always say, “Ugh. Never doing that again!”). I’ll be telling myself that tonight, too!

I may not make any real resolutions this year, but maybe try to keep this list in the back of my mind and work at doing better at these.Β  What are your resolutions? Whatever they are, good luck! I know you can do it!

Happy New Year everyone!

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Married Christmas at Our House

I just love Christmas, and the whole holiday season. Everyone tried to tell me that working retail at the mall would dampen my spirit and ruin the holiday for me, but I painted my nails red and decided to persevere. I think I did very well. You can decide for yourself with this (very) picture-heavy post.

Some of you know, and some of you don’t, that two years ago TH gave me an advent calendar for Christmas. I saw it at Target while we were grocery shopping one day and just sort of fell in love with it and the idea of it. TH, being the great listener and gift giver he is, took note, bought it for me and now it’s a becoming a tradition at our house. I didn’t share all the stuff we got last year because I didn’t think of it, and because we were just getting the hang of it.

This year, we’ve got it down.

Isn't it adorable? We trade out yearly so that we both have a chance to get the "big" Christmas Eve door. πŸ™‚

Since then, at Christmastime, we split the days and get each other small gifts through the month of December. This year, I thought I’d share the joy…

On the first day of Advent, I gave to Bubba…


The picture he's been wanting of his bride!

On the second day of Advent, my Bubba gave to me…

Some herb scissors and a sweet caramel.

On the third day of Advent, I gave to Bubba…

The "Key to a Perfect Marriage" Christmas ornament.

On the fourth day of Advent, my Bubba gave to me… lots of things to warm my tummy and my heart…

Some Godiva and gourmet hot chocolate and a Starbucks-looking travel mug!

On the fifth day of Advent, I gave to Bubba:

A book about all the hikes in Tennessee!

On the sixth day of Advent, my Bubba gave to me…the sweetest little accompanied by some sweet treats!

On the seventh day of Advent, I gave to Bubba:

A corkcicle...a freezer stick with a cork on the top to help our wine stay the perfect temperature on the table.

On the eighth day of Advent, my Bubba gave to me: potted plants.

Some tiny potted plants so I can grow my own basil and parsley!

On the ninth day of Advent, I gave to Bubba:

A brand new UT bag tag for our Barbados trip!

On the tenth day of Advent, my Bubba gave to me:

A baby sock monkey (tiny enough to fit in my purse when I travel)!

On the eleventh day of Advent, I gave to Bubba:

Some very manly smelling lotion! Yum!

On the twelfth day of Advent, my Bubba gave to me:

Some delicious Godiva Caramel Gems. Woo hoo!

On the thirteenth day of Advent, I gave to Bubba:

Handy things for my handy man.

On the fourteenth day of Advent, Bubba gave to me:

A diamond dazzle stick to make my ring sparkle and shine!

On the fifteenth day of Advent, I gave to Bubba:

Some Yankee Candle car vent sticks (air fresheners).

On the sixteenth day of Advent, my Bubba gave to me:

A Victoria's Secret giftcard. Woo hoo!

At the end of the day, we made the trip to Kingsport to visit the H’s. We had an amazing dinner (and milkshakes at The Purple Cow–if you haven’t tried it, I suggest you do…delicious…I had a marshmallow heath bar milkshake, TH had a chocolate banana and Mr. H had a Reese’s one), exchanged gifts and had, of course, the traditional H Family Breakfast. We packed up there that afternoon (it was just a quick trip) and came home to get ready for a tacky Christmas sweater party with our friends. I must say, the Bubba’s brought it with our outfits this year. We did well last year, but this year…we took it to the next level, really brought the heat, if you know what I mean. This next level…it included “vintage” iron-on appliques from Mom’s craft closet, glittery puff paint and a holly berry turtleneck. We were very proud! Check out the previous blog for photos from the party. I didn’t want to overwhelm everyone with more than our gifts!

On the seventeenth day of Advent, I gave to Bubba:

A demotivational calendar (for some reason, he loves these).

On the eighteenth day of Advent, my Bubba gave to me: a coupon for a free massage. πŸ™‚

On the nineteenth day of Advent, I gave to Bubba:

A spaghetti portion measurer.

On the twentieth day of Advent, my Bubba gave to me: two Dove Chocolates and a sweet, chewy caramel. These wereΒ  nice because this was the first night I spent my first late night at the mall this holiday season. I pulled a 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift. It wasn’t terrible as I was able to stay busy and work through most of the shift, but it was still kind of sucky to be away from home like that at work during the week of Christmas.

On the twenty-first day of Advent, I gave to Bubba: some candy kisses and two real kisses!

On the twenty-second day of Advent, my Bubba gave to me: a “coupon” for a dinner, of my choice made by him or at my choice of restaurant. This day was my second late night shift. It’s not so terrible to have the day off, but it kind of stunk not being home the two days before Christmas. Not so bad this night because I knew TH would be out for boys night, but still.

On the twenty-third day of Advent, I gave to Bubba: a sweet note to let him know I love him (see, it’s now always about the presents)! This was my third late night shift at the mall (second in a row), so I had to give that to Bub so he wouldn’t forget how much I love him!

On the twenty-fourth day of Advent, my Bubba gave to me: ALL the candy! The remainder of my Godiva caramels, the regular caramels and the Dove chocolates. Yum!

Then we began Christmas with my family. We headed to my mom’s to eat a feast and open presents and topped the night off by watching my beautiful niece sing in the children’s Christmas program at Grace. She did one duet and a solo! So proud! From mom’s, we brought home a new Kindle for me, a SodaStream soda maker, some clothes, great stocking stuffers, a new work shirt, tie and cuff links for Bubba and some other really great stuff!

On the last (twenty-fifth) day of Advent, I gave to Bubba: a Hallmark card before he got to open all of his really great Christmas presents!

We spent our morning eating breakfast together, opening our own gifts and just generally enjoying our first married Christmas morning together. I got a beautiful sapphire pendant (from Markmann’s) from the hubs, a dress, a clutch, a new pillow and a scarf. He got a couple shirts for work, a UT pullover, a hilarious T-shirt, a shoe rack and some iPod docking stations.

Our breakfast of mini egg and cheese fritattas, glazed bacon (delicious, both from Taste of Home) and basic breakfast potatoes from the Pioneer Woman was quite the undertaking for me. TH had suggested french toast as something out of the ordinary, but since I knew he was doing that for my benefit (since we rarely have that for breakfast), I decided to switch it up.Β  It was worth it.

The bacon gave me a little more trouble than I thought, but Toby is enjoying the few burnt pieces as special Christmas treats. πŸ™‚

Later in the day, we went to my Aunt and Uncle’s house for the big family Christmas lunch and gift exchange. We got some great stuff there, too: a wonderful cheese stone made of local granite, some new Ramekins for yummy desserts, some jewelry and a new planner, some really great bourbon and some moon pies!

When we got home, we called the H’s and talked to them a bit and then my dearest AKSB and her hubby stopped by to visit us. It was seriously a top night.

Even though we got to spend some time with the H’s before the holidays, it was sad that we weren’t able to make it up to see the rest of the family for their Christmas. With the holiday falling on a weekend and my work schedule being a little crazy, it made it tough for us to get there, 😦 but it was a great holiday nonetheless!

We are certainly, very truly, blessed.

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Mesmerized by the Beauty of Ugliness

Yesterday, we attended a Tacky Christmas Sweater Party. In preparation for the party, I took it old school. I was determined to make our Christmas sweaters sweatshirts this year. While trying to figure out what we would wear, I remembered back in the day…way, way, way back in the day…working on making a sweatshirt for the holiday season with my mom. (My Nana also made these sweatshirts, and boy, were they amazing.) So I took it there.

I raided Mom’s old craft cabinet for some of her old iron-on appliques and hit Wal-Mart to purchase some iron-on backing and plain white sweatshirts. I went to AC Moore to clean them out of their red, green, gold and silver puff paint. AND I ordered myself a cat themed applique from eBay.

After figuring out what kind of “design” I was going to be working with on each of our sweatshirts, I set to work. I ironed the sticky backing onto each piece, painstakingly cut each piece out, ironed them to the sweatshirts, outlined them with puff paint and slowly brushed the paint onto the detail of each aspect of the sweatshirts. The finished product was amazing…I’m a little biased, but you can judge for yourself…photos not great…but you get the idea.



To finish off our looks, I wore cropped black leggings with lace trim on the bottom, a holly berry turtleneck, a red plaid headband, Christmas tree earrings, some black flats and red socks with kittens coming out of boxes. TH wore some plaid pants from his college days (way to go, Bub :)). Pictures, again, not great, but, again, you get the idea.

Hair was crimped for full effect.

The flash really illustrated just how much "sparkle" Bubba was rocking for this party. Those pants are from his college days!

Also, as the party was a bit of a pot luck, I made fudge to take as our contribution. I made two different kinds. You all know that I’m working hard to make it through this holiday season without putting on 100 pounds…so I thought I would check out one of my favorite healthy eating magazines Eating Well. They offered me this recipe: Cocoa Fudge. As you can see, it calls for sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, salt, skim milk, butter, canola oil and vanilla extract and the nutrition facts say that if the lot was cut into 36 pieces each piece would have about 83 calories…sweet! Literally. But, since we don’t have sugar at our house (we use Sucra), I did one better and mine only had 16 calories…HOLY COW! But, after tasting it, I was a little concerned it wouldn’t taste good once it was finished. So I made another version: The Never Fail Fudge (which is the fudge I’m more used to) that is made up of evaporated milk, semi-sweet chocolate morsels, sugar (I used Sucra again), butter and, of course, marshmallow fluff and vanilla. This fudge looked more like what I expected it to (and tasted better too), but it has (following the same theory that the block would be cut into 36 pieces) 93 calories. Still not terrible.

Anyway, the fudge never got to be a hit. The “skinny” version never solidified and was still in the freezer up until about three minutes ago.It promptly went into the trash when I saw it…looks delicious, huh?


At any rate, this was a tangible reminder that the dessert I make for Family Christmas should not be skinny. It’s Christmas, right? Calories don’t count…are you listening Santa?! That’s my wish. So I’m making my Pistachio Cake (the one I made K for her big 30th birthday). It will be festive and delicious.

The “not so skinny” version wasn’t ready to cut when I was ready to leave, even though I did try to put it on the cutting board. It came out of the pan, but promptly attached itself to the cutting board so I threw the whole thing back into the freezer and we just took wine. This morning though the “not so skinny” fudge was finished. It’s pretty good…not quite like my mom’s (hint, hint mom…send that recipe over any time), but still good… a little marshmallow-y, but tasty nonetheless.

Not little turds, but chocolaty marshmallow-y tastiness.

Though these are good, they’re so ugly…I’ll just have to eat them all myself because I’m embarrassed to take them to work (even though I’m broadcasting my double fail to the entire Interwebs and my millions of readers/followers :)).

Moral of the story, I’m crafty (see sweatshirts above) and I CAN cook, but they can’t all be winners…my W/L record with baking is not great, but as TH and I discussed today, my actual food/cooking record isn’t bad and I’m cool with that.

Here are a couple of photos from the party:

This is our "Christmas Card" photo taken by the host of the party in the "photo booth"

This is me and Leet. We were going for a creepy, overly protective/involved big sister and little sister photo. I think we nailed it!

I took my camera, but got so caught up in visiting with friends that I didn’t take any. The host took a few more, so if he posts those to FB I’ll share them as they come. Merry Christmas, ya’ll!

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A Lazy Fall Sunday and Chicken Puff Pastries

Sorry it’s been a while ya’ll. I’ve been super busy at work and in trying to keep up my visits to the gym, I’m sacrificing blogging. 😦

Have no fear though, I’ve got lots of great stuff for you on this lazy fall Sunday!

I’ve been kind of inspired over the last few weeks. I may or may not have said that I saw a few pieces of Julie & Julia the movie a few weeks ago and decided that before I saw it, I wanted to read the book. So I bought the book at the Borders “Going Out of Business” sale. While I was there, I decided to also pick up Paula Deen’s autobiography.Β  I just love her and I was so excited to read her book that I trumped Julie & Julia the book to read Paula’s book. After finishing her book, I pre-ordered my Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible.

Β Β Β Β Β Β 

I have to say, I’m a little intimidated by it (similarly to how intimidated I am by The Joy of Cooking), because all the dishes are SUPER Southern, things that I have always wanted to have in my tool belt, but also things that I’m a little scared of because, as most Southern food isn’t, the calorie counts are probably NOT low! But I’m going to try to do some of those things occasionally, if only so I can say I know how to chicken-fry a steak. πŸ™‚

I just love Paula Deen. I think she’s so sugary-sweet, but super sassy, too. You can tell by her book. She’s got a sort of sailor’s mouth and she’s tough! I’m so amazed by her story and I just think she’s the greatest! Right up there with Dolly Parton…and if you ask me, they’re kindred spirits.

Anyway, so I finished Paula’s book and got her new cookbook and now I’m cooking Framily Dinner. Here’s a photo of the framily:

I’m not making any Paula recipes this week, but I am doing chicken puff pastries. This is the first dish I ever made Tanner (to thank him for hanging my TV Christmas of 2008 and for spending some quality time with me on a really bad day for me). BUT in the spirit of Paula Deen, I took a recipe I’d used before and made it my own. She says, “A recipe is just a startin’ point, and [you don’t] have to stick to no recipe, even [hers], as if it was the word of God…[Don’t] take food so seriously and experiment with cooking” (p. 133). So, that’s what I did!

Now I still did the Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, and I used chicken (of course), but instead of using the spreadable herbed cheese, I made my own. I took a little cream cheese and added dill weed (one of my new favorite spices), some lemon juice, a dash or two of paprika and some minced onion and garlic. Then I mixed all that in with the chicken (which I had shredded). Then I egg washed the pastries and topped with a little sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. They should be delicious!

To accompany those we’ll be having Aunt Janet’s Best Ever Green Salad and some whole-wheat egg noodles with butter and Parmesan cheese. Hopefully they will be delicious. If not, I’ll go back to using the solid chicken breasts instead of shredding them (but that’s how my friend April does it, so I thought I’d try it), and hope that the eight other people I’m serving them to, won’t hate them! πŸ™‚

Also in the last little bit, Tanner and I booked our anniversary vacation to Barbados. We’ll be staying at the Ocean Two Resort and we are so excited. Every day we say, “Are we going today!? Yes, let’s!”

Our Resort

A view of the pool and beach

Looks great doesn’t it?!

My first fall weekend off work, was so great. We had tickets to see The Avett Brothers at Smokies Stadium in Pigeon Forge on Friday and I was finally able to go to a game (and tailgate). So it was a pretty exciting weekend for me! The Avett Brothers show was pretty good, they played most of what Tanner and I wanted to hear, but we didn’t love the venue at Smokies Stadium. We think (just in case they’re reading this) that they should have done a smaller show at played the Bijou Theater again or played a larger show and played the Tennessee Theater for a couple of nights, but we probably won’t go to Smokies Stadium again to watch a concert because they were so far away from us. We felt like we were closer to them when we watched their show live on TV. Despite the yucky location, we loved the show and liked being outside. The next day, I got to attend my first tailgate of the season. Here’s a photo of me and Tanner at it.

And here is our traditional game-day photo from the Georgia game and then from the LSU game. I’ll be on hiatus again until the MTSU game, but this was a good two-week run!

As you can see, its been a busy, but great couple of weeks. Sorry to disappoint though, there will be no Menu Monday post this week because after today, we won’t be cooking at home. I’ve got a corporate visit this week on Tuesday and we’re having leftovers on Monday. I’ll be so busy with the visit I won’t have time to cook and then it will be Friday, so we will figure something else out this week. Sorry! Hope everyone has a great week!

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The 25th Year Begins!

My birthday is always a big deal. (Always to me, sometimes to everyone else.) This year, I feel like I’ve actually embarked upon my true adulthood. I’ve kept saying that adulthood sucks a big fat one (super mature, I know), but it actually hasn’t been that bad.

I’ve gotten married, fixed up our house…helped make it a home for the Harrises, and really begun to appreciate what true friendship and unconditional love really means. I have a wonderful family that supports me through everything and I have a framilly that does the same.

Hubby took me out for my birthday dinner on Friday night. We went to the Northshore Brasserie (where we went for our late Valentine’s Day/engagement anniversary this year). It was good…the mussels and bread to start the meal were amazing and the wine was delicious. Our entrees were ok, but the dessert (a chocolate creme brulee) was to die for. In the end we decided that when we go back, we’ll order one type of mussels as an appetizer and then order a second kind as an entree then just go straight to dessert.

On Saturday, we watched the pitiful excuse of a football game at Shane’s. It was a super fun day with friends, but the excitement from the day put me to sleep by 9:30!

Today, my actual birthday, I got to open presents from Hubby. When he got up, he was rummaging around the house looking frustrated. I asked him, “Bubba, what’s wrong?” He said, “I can’t find ANYTHING!” I said, “What are you looking for?” He said, “A bag.” I said, “A bag for presents?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “They are in the garage under the wedding koozies.” After some finagling, this is what he came up with…


Not too shabby! What was even more exciting is how well he did with my birthday presents.

I’ll tell you one thing, my hubby is a good listener and if you are too, you know what’s in that bag…he also got me the movie Up.

After I opened presents from Bubba, we went to brunch at the Gourmet Market with Mom, Becky, Katie, Courtney and la hermana Kelly. From Mom, I got another great pair of shoes and the ultimate meatloaf pan. From Katie and Courtney, I got a pair of workout pants. From Becky, I got a card and some cash from her and Nana.

Tory Burch and feet will hopefully be thanking me as we move into the holiday season at SPG!

Tonight, Kelly is cooking framily dinner at her place. She is making beef stroganauff and chicken alfredo. She has spoiled me rotten this week making me chocolate pistachio and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Now she’s making dinner!

Like I said, I am so blessed and couldn’t be more aware of it as I turn 25. I know Pop would be proud of the people I’ve chosen to surround myself with. This would be his 82nd birthday (if I’ve done my math correctly…and don’t assume that I have).

On our last birthday of the 20th century, Pop wrote me a letter. (Yes. A pen and ink letter on wide-ruled paper.) I’ve carried this letter with me since the day he gave it to me and I’ve used it, like a Bible, when I have needed words of wisdom or advice.

At 13 he said to me, in this letter, “The next eight years will be tough ones for you as you will make decisions during this time that will affect you for the rest of your life.” Boy was he right, but the other words he provided helped me in dealing with that. Here are some of the things he said:

  • Hold fast to your faith in God, no matter what. That faith will get you through some very rough waters and God will always be there to help if you ask.
  • Your mom is a great lady…It takes real love to be able to guide children in the right path.
  • Although popularity and acceptance are desirable, you must maintain your own style and adhere to your own standards.
  • Keep a positive attitude toward learning. Maintain a high level of curiosity and purpose. Question things that strike you wrong and use the vast resources you have (internet) to verify what you think.
  • Stand up for what you believe is right, but if you find you are wrong, don’t be afraid to change.
  • Family is important.

Possibly, the most important lesson he gave me in this letter, though I go back to a lot of them often, is this: “Remember where you come from. It will help you immeasurably in deciding where you want to go.”

What a bright and knowledgeable man my Pop was. It was as if he knew, at the end of the 20th century, that I would need these words long after he was gone and that, at 13, I might not be patient enough to hear them. He gave them to me long hand so that I can carry them with me always. As I said, he wrote this letter to me on September 18th, 1999. He died February 21, 2001…just one year, four months and a few days after he wrote this.

I feel so incredibly blessed (and I know I say that a lot) to share my birthday with him and hope that he is always proud of the things I am doing. He may have an urge to nag once in a while, but, in the end, hopefully sees that I’m getting where I should be based on the heartfelt advice he gave me over 12 year ago.

Happy Birthday, Pop.

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