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Happy Birthday to Me!!


I’m up early this morning to get my birthday presents from the hubby (and also because this baby boy kicks me in the bladder consistently starting around 5 a.m.). It’s a big day planned today (I’m off work)…with the delivery of some new furniture and a dishwasher. I’ve also got meetings with Cook’s Pest Control and Travis (painter extraordinaire).

Wouldn’t you know last night we were sitting upstairs watching Big Brother when I turned to Hubs and said, “Do you smell something burning?” He said, “Yes, did you forget to turn the stove off?” Not having used the stove, I said no, but we went downstairs anyway. The burning smell was coming from the dishwasher! I had run one last load, but it turns out, all of that will make it’s way to the sink this morning to be washed again. Not sure if it was food or plastic or what, but the heating coils were a-smoking! Thankfully, that horrible dishwasher will make it’s way to appliance heaven today as we welcome a new team member to the kitchen!

It should be a very (exciting day).

Looking back through old social media (TimeHop App), I have to laugh to look at what was posted. I was ecstatic to get a pair of Tory Burch and Coach shoes (still in the closet rotation today), and now I’m thrilled about a new dishwasher and the fact that I ordered some decor for the baby’s nursery. 🙂 Times have certainly changed, as it’s hard to get too excited about clothing when everything has an elastic waistband! Just kidding, I still love clothes and want to be an adorable pregnant person, but finding the cute stuff is like looking for a needle in a haystack when all the local haystacks are 45 minutes apart or online!

What hasn’t changed this year is how aware I am of my blessings. We are in a new home that is soon to be filled with the squeals of a baby boy who will carry the heavy names of two of the most important men in mine and Hubby’s lives. We are surrounded and lifted up by love and support from friends and family (more important now than ever as we have no idea what we are doing).

I read an old birthday blog this morning and this was posted in it:

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.

All these words still ring happily in my heart, but more so now as I close the first year without my Nana on this earth. Since I wasn’t blogging at the time, you may not know she passed away very close to my birthday last year, but I was extremely lucky to spend an unusual afternoon with her in her last few weeks where she was incredibly (comparatively) lucid and present. It was such a blessing, one I’ll always cherish. At one point during our visit she said to a nurse, “Thanks for being patient with me.” Though the quote is out of context here and wasn’t spoken to me, the words ring in my ears often as patience isn’t a strong virtue of mine. And when I feel myself growing frustrated, I sometimes say replay them.

Going back to Pop’s letter, two pieces of advice stick out now more than ever.

First, 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.” Y’all, I prayed so much for the safety of this baby I’m carrying in the month leading up to us discovering we were bringing a baby into the world. I still pray now, but at that time I was praying for guidance on buying a house and for knowing where we should settle. When I found out I was pregnant, I prayed to know how to nurture the baby and that it would grow and be safe. We were terrified in the beginning something would happen–because we were so shocked it happened so quickly. When the contract on the sale of our house fell through after we’d bought the new one, I prayed that it would sell quickly and to someone who would enjoy it as much as we had. I prayed every morning in my car that it would all work out. I asked for a lot of help and while the results weren’t always what I wanted or caused a little stress, it has all worked out. All that’s a little heavy, I know, but it’s a strange feeling to be responsible for growing another life. It’s not at all like the movies!

Pop also wrote in his letter, after telling me what a great lady my own mother is, “It takes real love to be able to guide children in the right path.” I believe at the time this advice was meant more as a suggestion to a teenage me to go easy on my mother and to understand how difficult it can be to, first, raise children, and second, raise them on your own. But, who knows, he might have been providing insight to me about how to be a good mother myself…like don’t try too hard or be too tough. He put a lot of thought into the letter he wrote and it is one of my most prized possessions. I am always in awe of how timeless the advice is and how each and every word resonates in a new way each time I read it.

I have no idea what kind of mother I will be and, according to Pop, I won’t learn everything I need to know until I have grandchildren of my own, but know that I already love this baby and that it doesn’t stand a chance against all the love everyone else already feels for it too.

This has already been such an amazing week and it’s going to be a great birthday. Hubby says the theme is “comfort” and he couldn’t be more right. Not only did he get me some very relaxing gifts (a bath pillow, a hammock pillow, new North Face pants, and a massage Giftcard), we are nesting and I have two days off from work (a four day weekend). Plus, we are having a big family dinner at my Mom’s on Sunday.

Y’all I really couldn’t be more thankful.

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Juice Cleanse: The Day After


So today is the first day off the juice cleanse and I’d like to thank my hubby and my mom for being so supportive through it. I’d also like to thank my friend Laura for making it possible for me I get the juices. And Juice Nashville for pressing them!

It was a great learning experience for sure. I’d say I’m down about 3lbs, but I’m not really keeping my hopes up for that to stay off. It’d be great if it did, but I’m not going to focus on that. Moreso I’m going to focus on maintaining some realty eating habits.

For breakfast I am having a smoothie to ease my way back in. It’s got one cup frozen strawberries, one cup frozen blueberries, a teaspoon of vanilla, a tablespoon of flax (for fiber), and two scoops of vanilla protein powder (probably should have left that out) and a cup of almond milk. It’s THICK and made about 16 ounces (maybe more if you factor in consistency).

I feel great today and am pumped about tonight for Avett. I’ve planned my meals for the whole day (even looked at the menu at the bar an picked out three potential items), so I’m confident I can stick with it!

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Hot Chocolate with Fortified Spirits (for a fortified spirit)


It’s a cold night and we are home with our pitiful dog who is in need of knee surgery. We’ve got no plans for the night and after a particularly tough couple weeks filled with loss and grief, our spirits could use some fortifying with some fortified spirits.

fortified: past participle, past tense of for·ti·fy (Verb). Strengthen or invigorate (someone) mentally or physically.

After searching the interwebs for a recipe, I found the following:

Adult Hot Chocolate with Nutella and Fortified Spirits (from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite)

Ingredients:
1/3 cup Nutella
1-1/3 cups milk, divided use
2 jiggers spirits (i.e. Maker’s Mark, Jamesons, Baileys, Frangelico Kahlua)
Garnish: Whipped cream and cocoa powder (optional)

Directions:
1) Place Nutella and 1/3 cup milk in small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until blended.
2) Add reserved 1 cup milk, increase heat to medium-high, and whisk until hot and frothy. Pour into two 8-oz. coffee mugs. Pour 1 jigger (shot glass) of desired spirit into each glass and stir well. Top with heavy cream and sprinkle lightly with cocoa powder. Serve immediately. Yield: 2 servings.

I didn’t top with whipped or heavy cream or cocoa powder, but it is tasty nonetheless. Just what we needed! Merry early Christmas!

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Bid Day and Food Prep Sunday


Today was a big day!

The last day in a long two weeks or preparation for my first recruitment as an advisor…Bid Day! And fortunately, because of Delicia’s guidance, it was one of the best rush returns in the history of our chapter!

Isn’t this a cute group of girls?!?!

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These are the juniors, my first solo rush’s President will be in this class.

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Here is the whole chapter:

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While I was at Bid Day, Bubba made some Pumpkin Pie Granola for me from this recipe. the house smelled amazing when I got home!

After a beautiful lunch at the Sunsphere, I headed home to spend the rest of the day with my husband.

I had planned the weekly menu and done the grocery list when I got up this morning and after a quick breakfast of eggs and toast, we went to the new Kroger. I may or may not have mentioned that I have started doing some food prep on Sunday night to make cooking dinner a little less overwhelming (and making it less likely we will eat out when I get lazy).

So, on the menu this week was/is: beef tacos and rice & corn pilaf (tonight), pepperoni mushroom pizza with red sauce on whole wheat crust (tomorrow), cheese ravioli with arugula in white wine sauce (Tuesday), pork lo mien with sugar snap peas and crab rangoon (Wednesday), mini corn dog muffins and hamburgers and other assorted tailgate food (Friday).

Today, I made the taco beef by slicing and onion and cooking it with ground beef with taco seasoning. I served it with the corn and rice pilaf (recipe found here), but I left out the cardamom (because it was $10.49 at the grocery store) and pumpkin seeds.

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As you can see, I forgot the “something green” I always demand with my meals (as I was taught by my mom). The hubs said I should just have a margarita, but I settled for a Michelob Ultra chick beer. 🙂

While I was cooking all that, I mixed the inside ingredients for the baked Crab Rangoon (1/8 tsp garlic salt, 1/8 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 10 won ton wrappers, half handful minced onion, 4 oz imitation crab, 3 oz cream cheese) and stuffed them to bake at 425 °F for 8-10 minutes. I also cooked my whole wheat spaghetti for the lo mein and cut the fat off my pork chops and sliced the into little chunks.

I also made our hamburgers for Friday by combining hamburger meat, chopped onion, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, shredded cheddar and some steak seasoning. I wrapped those in Saran wrap and put them in the fridge.

Then I made a whole wheat pizza dough and topped our pizza, baked it for about 15 minutes then pulled it off the stone to wrap and freeze for tomorrow. When I get home, I’ll pull it out and cook it just like a frozen pizza from the store.

It’s tiring to do it this way, by the end of the evening, I’m pretty tired from being on my feet in the kitchen for so long, but I’m super happy later in the week to have done all the prep. Sometimes when I do this, I cut my lettuce and wash my veggies, too. Basically, I do anything I can do ahead of time so I don’t have to work so hard later in the week.

The only thing I didn’t pre-prepare was the ravioli dish.

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I didn’t need to because it’s just frozen tortolini (we are using that instead of ravioli) cooked then tossed in a sauce with arugula. I guess I could have made the sauce, but I decided not to.

Anyway, after being out so many nights for rush, I’m so happy to be cooking again. Now, if only I could get back on the workout horse. I need to get back to Barre3 when kickball ends, but we are playing in the finals on Thursday with a potential three games if we continue to win. Whew!

Yesterday, we decided to take on the home project of painting our patio furniture…after we paid for the 10 cans of spray paint, we probably could have just bought new furniture…lesson learned, but it looks good. (It’s hard to see here, but it’s a bronze-y brown now and used to be black-that-used-to-be-white).

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It’s not perfect by any means, but it works well enough…one more can of paint would have done it.

Also, here are some crafty images…I made these two wreaths for two friends this month…

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The Golden Globes Are My Playoffs


With all the football going on in our house over the last several months, I’m super happy to say MY playoffs have begun. I’ve been prepping for this red carpet by not going to the gym (only three times this month) and eating more ice cream! Just kidding, despite my lack of time at the gym, my eating has been good and I’m just a pound away from wedding weight (yay!) and couldn’t feel better.

Anyway, back to MY playoffs…the 2012 award season begins with the Golden Globes!

Lots to see on the red carpet today…Great jewel tone, feather-embellished, hip-hugging, mermaid and fish tail gowns…

Here are a few of my favorite dresses:

Sarah Michelle Gellar: I really love this. I know it got mixed reviews, but I think it is edgy, fun and so unexpected. Only some beautiful blue jewels would have made it better! Critics be darned, I think it was a winner!

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(Editor’s Note: I wasn’t the only one that liked it…E! Fashion Police said, “…the blue watercolor effect…is such a mesmerizing effect, along with the elegant asymetrical draping…this definitely gets a gold star in our books!”)

Sofia Vergara: Another beauty in blue. Let’s be honest, she would look stunning in a burlap sack, but she stops the show in this Vera Wang number.

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Laura Dern: A winner all around tonight, I.SERIOUSLY.DIE. over this emerald glitztasticness. I love the cut, style, length and color of it. Just stunning.

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A better view of the detail and color…

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Another full length pic. So beautiful…

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Kate Beckinsale: Let’s be totally honest, I love this mostly because it reminds me of my wedding dress. 🙂 But seriously, the pastel hue, the hip hugging design…it is amazing.

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Abbey Harris: Oh wait…how did that get here? 🙂

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And now a few of my not so favorites:

Natalie Portman: I’m assuming she probably figured that since Mila Kunis swept the red carpet with her at every appearance and award show last season, there was no point to even try tonight. It is important to note that Ms. Portman was preggers last year, but Mila still brought it while Nat did not. What a boring ole mess this is.

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(Editor’s Note: E!FP liked this one too, but called it a mullet dress…still don’t like it, mullet or no.)

The Osborne Women: both of these look like bridesmaids dresses gone horribly wrong. Zac Pose or not, Kelly Osborne is KOed (and not in a good way)!

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And last, but certainly not least, Meryl Streep…there are no words!

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Can’t wait to see what my front runners for award season have in store next. As for my worst dressed, it can only go up from here…that means you too Jodi Foster. 😉

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25 Ways to Tie a Scarf


Now I’m not a total scarf fanatic, but with all these great ways to wear them…I might have to get on board. I did used to have an infinity scarf that I loved, but I’ve misplaced it in my closet somewhere and can’t find it! Boo! Check out this video I stumbled across on another blog I follow. So cute!

I like the waterfall, the infinity, the mira, the braid and….well, all of them just about!

I asked for this little beauty for Christmas…it would look great with one of the above styles.

Banana Republic Red Plaid Fringed Scarf

What is your favorite style? Fashionista followers, where do you get your scarves?

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Update on Dinner This Week


= FAIL

As you saw in the previous post, the Tomato Tortellini Soup was pretty tasty and those huge Mock-ed Obster biscuits were a nice balance to that.  Somehow I’ve been able to show some self-restraint with them and only had a couple of nibbles, even though,left to my own devices, I could, conceivably, eat the whole tub.

That all being said, my poor husband has had enough. I mean, you can only eat soup for so long. Before we married, Bubba could fix one meal on Sunday and eat the same thing all week. Now that we are living in wedded bliss, he prefers a couple (or a few) good meals per week intermingled with a leftover night or two. Holiday is making that difficult as I’ve been a bit tied to the mall this week.

Fortunately for hubs, I’ve also been sick, so in between sips of OJ I called my trainer about my session tonight. He said, “Stay home, rest. We will get together next week.” Great! Permission from the trainer to skip the gym!

So even though I worked over an extra hour I was bound-and-determined to make that flank steak mentioned in the previous blog…well, Bub made it…he did the rub, I heated up the other stuff and supervised the broiling.

The rest, well, you read already. This dinner, though our first together this week that wasn’t soup, was a fail.

The rub was unsatisfactory to us both and perhaps the meat needed to be a bit more broiled. Also, Brussels sprouts taste like broccoli. I already like broccoli so I don’t feel the need to have a non-broccoli food that tastes like that in my diet. I’ll just eat broccoli because its my fav. I can now say, “I don’t like Brussels sprouts.” (Have you tried them?!?!) “Yes. Now I have! And since I’m an adult, I don’t have to eat ’em!!!!”  🙂

So, you guessed it, the only thing I enjoyed with dinner was the mini corn cobs. I ate five. Don’t judge. All I’d eaten today was some tuna and crackers and three cough drops. Again, don’t judge…remember, I’m sick. So I had one mini with my meal, anticipating I’d have two like normal, but when I didn’t like the meal I had a two more (they WERE mini ones so two equals one small cob, right?!?!). The fifth one was really just to tidy up so there wouldn’t be a weird left over.

Oh well, they can’t all be winners. At least we got to sit down at the table together because tomorrow night, I’ll be welcoming Santa to the mall.  🙂

Merry Christmas before Thanksgiving ya’ll!

Ps. The damage on my car is a cool $4,385.48. Bet you never would have guessed that!

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