Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas fun!

There is only one word I can use to describe Christmas of 2011 and that word is "blessed". Beau and I felt so much love coming in from all ends of the globe. This was our second Christmas in NC and that in and of itself was a blessing but add to that the time spent with friends and family (be it over the phone or in person) and you have yourself one amazing holiday.

Christmas Eve 2011

Pretty presents
We started things off by a fun Christmass Eve Eve party at some friends from church. It was good to see so many close friends and to see so many family members in for the holiday. Christmas Eve I awoke to Beau insisting I open up my "big present". We had decided the night before to open our bigger gifts for one another early because Beau said I would need mine for the rest of Christmas.

I was thrilled to see receive the Kodak EasyShare Z5010 from Beau. I've been wanting a "big girl" camera forEVER! And now I finally have one!!! There are so many things I want to learn to do with the camera and first and foremost is bokeh. I saw this tutorial on The Friendly Fox and it seems really easy but I need to figure out how to do it. Any ideas or help is much appreciated :-)

Beau got a "big boy" present too. He has been dying for a video game system and I got him an X-box. We have a Wii but Beau really couldn't play the games he wanted on that. I originally thought that we might keep the Wii to do exercise stuff but now that I've seen all the bells and whistles that come with the X-box Kinect, I'm not so sure. The Kinect kicks serious tail!

Christmas Eve 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

But enought about gifts. Christmas Eve we spent most of the day relaxing, cooking, and getting ready for Beau's family to come on Christmas day! We went to Christmas Eve service at our church which was absolutely magical. Our pastor did an incredible job by giving an overview of the Christmas story from Genesis to the birth of Jesus and it was awesome. The service was full of babies being babies and hearing the sounds of all those children made you realize how incredible a miracle His birth was given the knowledge that this newborn baby would be our world's Savior.

After church we went to our friend's home where we ate a delicious meal and had fun with the wonderful company. Their girls took turns reenacting the Christmas story, we sang carols and it was just an incredible way to spend Christmas Eve. I hope we can make that a new tradition!

Christmas morning we woke up and opened up or wonderful gifts from family and some stocking stuffers we'd gotten one another. We played the X-box Kinect game that came with Beau's game system and got ready for family. Beau's mom and grandmother got in around 1pm and we had a delicious Christmas meal: Ham, green beans, sweet potatoes, yeast rolls and some gluten-free shortcakes for dessert.

Christmas Dnner

Playing x-box 3

My quilt from Jody

To top of the holiday festivities, we decided (inspired by a video from close friends) to start a new tradition of a Christmas music video. We chose Bootylicious, because nothing says Christmas like a little Destiny's Child, right?

More Christmas fun

In between all the Christmas family we spend time catching up via phone with family and friends. I cannot even begin to tell you how blessed we feel to have spent such great quality time together with our loved ones. We hope that 2012 is filled with as many blessings as 2011 has been for us.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Old favorite/New favorite: Oreo cookies

Yum! I love oreo cookies! So when I saw this recipe for delicious, homemade oreos, I could not resist trying. These guys are super easy to make and turn out so delicous. It is a bit scary when you make them to realize how absolutely horrible oreo cookies are for you, but other than those few moments of panic when you read the recipe and go "more butter...really?", you'll love them.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Fun!!!

So last night Beau and I threw our first big bash at the new house. Here are a couple pictures from the event. I've also attached a link to the recipes that I used (some I embellished on a bit) for the food. These are all super easy dishes that I suggest you try sometime.

Beau and I went as Beetlejuice and Lydia from their "would be" wedding. I have to say, I was a little nervous because I didn't get to spend as much time on my costume as I would have liked, but I think our costumes turned out great.

Recipes to try....p>

Pizza Bread-yum can't see this one in the pictures of the goodies because it and the pigs in a blanket were still baking but it was delicious. Just slice this guy up and it is a delicious party treat. I used just pepperoni and mozzerella cheese but if you follow the recipe on this site you can see a recipe with a lot more ingredients.


Artichoke/Spinach Dip

-For this one I just used the simple recipe on the back of the Hidden Valley packet but I added artichoke hearts to it and served it in a bread bowl to really give it some "class". Just kidding. Actually now that I go back and look at the recipe they suggest you serve it in a bread bowl too so I guess I'm not as classy as I thought :-)-Hidden Valley Ranch dip people: 1, Jolie: 0

South Georgia Caviar-Let's be honest Paula Deen, everyone knows this recipe as Redneck caviar but I realize that isn't so PC. In any case this caviar super yummy and really easy to throw together and make substitutions to if you don't like a specific item.

Pigs in a Blanket-I just used a simple Pillsbury recipe for these but bought the jalapeno/cheddar mini sausages to spice things up a bit and they were delish!

Cake pops-These are (and I'm not afraid to use this expression here because the cake pops warrant it) Check out for all sorts of deliciousness including these red velvet cake pops. These get easier to work with as you get used to the cake "medium" that you are dealing with. I also found that chocolate bark is easier to deal with than the Wilton candy melts.

Rice Crispie Treats-I made some of these and added orange food coloring to them to make them festive. I had every intention of cutting them into pumpkin shapes with my cookie cutters but ran out of time. Oh well. They are always super yummy!

I hope you enjoys these delicious treats as much as we did!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Quick craft: Toilet Paper pumpkins

If you do a quick google search of toilet paper pumpkins you will find tons of tutorials, but I got this idea from my friend and fellow blogger Elisa. This is a great, cheap way to decorate for fall without spending a lot of cash (oh any cash if you use stuff around the house like I did). I made two different versions of this craft, but more on that later.


1/4 yard of fabric


Toilet paper (full roll)

Empty pill bottle (if you opt to make smaller pumpkins too)


1. Lay your fabric right side down and center your toilet paper on the fabric. Surround your toilet paper with crumpled news paper. More if you want a fat pumpkin, less for a slightly less obese pumpkin.

2. Take and squish the edges of the fabric down into the toilet paper roll adjusting both the fabric and the newspaper as you go. Repeat until all fabric is squished into the roll hole and arranged in a way that resembles a pumpkin. (this part is important as it is easy to do this craft haphazardly and end up with something not resembling a pumpkin).

3. Finish it off by putting a twig down in the toilet paper roll with enough of the twig sticking out to resemble a stem. The fabric will keep the twig mostly in place.

*** If you want smaller pumpkins you can find smaller items around your house with a toilet paper roll size opening. For example I had just finished a prescription so I used the empty pill bottle to make a little pumpkin. Less fabric is needed for this too though you will need to be more careful with how you arrange the newspaper.

You'll notice that I also took front-porch sitting to a whole new level by taking a TV tray out on the porch so I could craft while enjoying this beautiful, fall day!

Happy Fall!

Happy Fall!

Hello readers!

Sorry for my long absence. I've had lots of exciting stuff going on since my last post. No, no, I'm not prego (the typical reason for long absences of female bloggers ages 28-32 who are nervous they will accidentally spill the beans before hitting the 12 week "safety" mark). Nope, we've just had tons 'o' stuff going on.

1. I decided to work on some classes I need to get licensed to teach. This is something I've always wanted but has become harder and harder to do as I get older. When Beau and I eventually have kids I would like to be on their schedule. I could have waited to get these classes in, but when would I do them? When I'm a new mom? When they go off to school? No, more than likely I would be freaking out 10-12 years from now when our kids go off to middle school going. Oh my goodness why didn't I do this earlier. So I decided for once in my life to make things easier on myself and get them done sooner rather than later.

Turns out I only need 6 additional classes so I am kicking myself for not having completed my minor in education when I was in college but grateful that I didn't totally slack off because it has made things easier for later on down the road.

School has been great but has kept me busy. I want to do this right so I'm devoting the majority of my time to this goal until it is completed. I'm happy about this but after work activites like blogging, running and much of my social life have taken a hit.

2. We've moved!!! This is a super fun announcement because we are finally settled in a house that we love. The dogs are happier, we're happier...LIFE IS GOOD! GOD IS GOOD!!!

Our new back deck view!

3. We've traveled a bit. We always wanted to do a cruise but were nervous/forced into doing something else for our honeymoon so we put it on hold. Nervous because neither of us had been on one before and what if we got super sea sick and forced because of a weird situation with Beau's old job. No biggie. We had an awesome honeymoon and both Beau and I love a good story and we certainly have one for our honeymoon.

In any case last year we decided to stop putting it off and booked ourselves a cruise as our Christmas present and finally went on it earlier this month! It was awesome. We loved it and definitely plan to cruise again, though this time someplace we are more interested in visiting. The Bahamas seemed more about shopping than really experiencing anything truly Bahamian. We're thinking New England or Canada next time :-)

Beau in front of the ship!

Beau coming down the water slide...

A beautiful sun getting ready to set.

Beau and I maxing and relaxing :-)

So that's that. I hope to be back up and blogging again soon but can't make any promises other than a quick craft later today because this is my last day of fall break from classes.

Until next time...Happy Fall Y'all!!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lessons learned from reality television or Can anyone explain: Reality TV Stars who think they can sing

I had a bit of insomnia last night and after tossing and turning I finally decided to give in and watch some late night television. After considering Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives but being caught off guard by a curry dish that included apples, I finally settled on The Real Housewives of New York.

Why these Real Housewives shows are being made period could use some serious explaining in and of itself. Isn't a housewife technically someone who stays home from work? All the real housewives on these shows seem to have jobs. There is also the issue with half the women not being married and thus not even technically being a wife. I guess Bravo though prefers to go the route of "spirit" not "letter of the law". And since they are the ones that make the "big bucks" I'll assume they know what they are talking about and move on to my real issue.

I have a lot of legitimately talented friends that will never make it to anything close to mainstream because their musical ability goes unrecognized. That's fine. Contrary to the popular Roots song "Everybody is (not) a star". All my friends have learned to deal with that so I need to move on too. However, when I watch shows like "Real Housewives" I am stunned to see these less than talented women making music videos and getting legitimate, albeit mocking entertainment coverage.

I realized that there are some lessons to be learned from reality television. If you are on a reality television show: 1) It doesn't matter if you are far too old to be considered "pop star" age, if you have a reality television show, you get a music video. 2) You don't have to have an ounce of talent, you get a music video....It's really like a sick version of something I've seen a time or two on Oprah: "You get a car, you get a car!"

Oh well, I guess the true moral of the story here is that with enough money and a film crew following you around, you can be anything from a music video star (New York, Atlanta housewives) to a gallery owner (Miami housewife), to a runway model (Orange County housewives and the girls of Laguna Beach).

So that's the lesson kids. You can be anything you set your mind to as long as there are people following you around filming your every, pointless move.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Healthier, Happier Me: Getting started by counting calories

So since the first of January this year, I've lost over 10 pounds. I'm not normally the type that sticks to New Year's Resolutions but this year was different. I was sick and tired of looking in the mirror and not being 100% happy with what I saw. Now I'm not saying I'm completely out of shape, nor was I completely overweight but I'm not getting any younger. I know the rounding the corner on 30 doesn't just mean that I am now "flirty and thriving" (I love the movie 13 Going on 30), but it also means I get to look forward to things like slowing metabolism and being more susceptible to health problems.

So I made the decision to start counting my calories. I knew I had to crawl before I could walk. The first thing I set my mind on was figuring out how much I was putting into my body. Was I eating too much, too little, the wrong amounts of protein, veggies, etc? It's maybe not the right choice for everyone, but it made it was the decision that worked for me and to me it was a good place to get started.

Now there are a number of ways you can go about tracking what you are putting into your body:

Food Journal: You can keep a simple notebook where you track what you eat on a daily basis. This certainly keeps things easy to track during the day but you have to come home each day and figure out the amount of calories in each item which can becoming time-consuming and monontonous.

Online Tracking: There are number of online trackers you can use. Things like MyFitnessPal, MyCalorieCounter, and MyFoodDiary. Just a simple google search of the words "online calorie counter" will bring you over a dozen more. Some are free services and some require payment. It's up to you to decide if this is a method that will work for you. I chose to go about counting my calories in a different manner because I wanted to be able to count whether I was near a computer or not.

Calorie Counting Phone Applications: This is the method I chose. This was the best choice for me for several reasons. First it was free via the application Calorie Counter for my windows phone. Second it was portable, with this application I was able to instantly enter what I ate at which times of day. Third, it has a database filled with restaraunt calorie counts and popular grocery store items. Another perk is that you can enter caloric information yourself if you can't find your item in the the existing database.

So that's my first step to a healthier, happier body. Counting calories is a good litnus test for you to figure out where you really are in terms of health. Lots of people think they are not losing weight because they are eating too much when it turns out they are not eating enough. Or they may be eating the right amount but are missing out on getting enough fiber or protein. Weight loss, like life is a balancing act.

Calorie counting isn't something you have to do every day for the rest of your life so don't stress over the time it takes when you first start out. The amount of information you gain from taking the time to chart your eating will help you out tremendously, so don't skip this essential first step. Eventually you will only count calories sporadically, as a maintenance step.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or nutritionist. I am merely sharing my personal experience. Obviously you should consider going to see a professional before you get started with any weight loss or exercise regimen.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Just a Suggestion: Check out the Asheville Drum Circle

If you are every in Downtown Asheville on a Friday night you have got to do yourself a favor and head down to the Drum Circle. This is a tradition on Friday nights spanning back 9 years and is one of the coolest, free things you can do to really experience all that makes Asheville the amazing place that it is. Things start up pretty early, like maybe 6pm or so in Pritchard Park.Drum circle2

Here are things getting started...

Anyone with a percussion instrument is allowed to join in the fun. I have to tell you, one of the coolest things about the circle is seeing people of all ages and walks of life joining in the fun. If drummings not your thing, not to worry, there is plenty of room for a spectator, dancer or hula-hooper. It's also a great spot for a good game of hackey sack.

So check it out when you are here, you won't regret it!

Drum circle 1
Here's the drum circle once things really got going!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Just a Suggestion: Giving in to reading "The Hunger Games"

So after hearing about it on blog after blog and from friend after friend, I finally gave in and decided to read "The Hunger Games". I'm only a couple chapters in but I already know that it is going to be the hit of my summer reading list.

I definitely suggest checking it out. I've heard that I'll love some parts and hate others but so far, so good. In all honesty, I had to read it. Afterall they are filming it right up the road from us in Shelby.

Anyway, just a suggestion but I think you should check it out!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Do you love tie-dye as much as I do?

I love crafting and I love tie-dye and there is no better time to combine the two into one amazing craftivity than summertime. So here are some fun tie-dye goodies and even some great instructions from Michael's on how to throw your own tie-dye event!

I think it would be fun to pack a picnic lunch, throw on some grubby clothes, and head outside to tie dye/relax on one of these beautiful summer afternoons.

Here are some fun tie-dye goodies you could make at your craftivity or purchase via!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Do you love raw crystal as much as I do?

I'm loving all the raw crystal and gemstone jewelry that has been popping up lately! I love the unfinished, natural look and I especially love it when it is combined with a nice, long necklace. Long necklaces are my favorite! But there are also some amazing cocktail rings being made out there in the Etsy world too. I'm really going to work this summer on learning to pull off a cocktail ring. Ever since I got engaged and now married I feel weird about wearing any ring other than my engagement and wedding ring.

But I digress, here are some of the pieces I've been drooling over lately. All of these pieces are $45 or under. I like to keep things on the cheaper side when at all possible and while I don't consider $45 super cheap, it is at least a lot better than the pricing you tend to see in your typical fashion magazines and stores these days. And besides wouldn't you rather support an independent retailer anyway?

Source: Moorea Seal's Etsy Shop

Source: Rozzie's Etsy Shop

Source: Yirweh Jewelry's Etsy Shop

Source: Larkin and Larkin's Etsy Shop

Source: Nubambu's Etsy Shop

Source: CuppaCoffee's Etsy Shop

Source: CyanOwl's Etsy Shop

However, if you prefer to "go your own way" and decide that you want to take on the task of getting crafty and making one of these gorgeous necklaces yourself you can always try out this tutorial from Seablanket.

Old Favorite/New Favorite: Running/workout socks

So when I say that my old/new favorite things are socks I know that I’m getting some strange looks from a LOT of people. You’re thinking, “How much could socks really have changed? And aren’t these old/new favorite things life changers? I mean your last old/new favorite was quinoa for goodness sake, how can socks even compare?”

Well people, prepare to have your minds blown. I typically show pictures of my old favorites here, but we all know what socks are right?

Socks have been…I’ll say it...revolutionized in recent years. It’s not just socks. It’s all traditional cotton products that have been changed to incorporate wicking technology which “wicks” moisture away from your body instead of acting like a sponge for any sweat or moisture (which is the typical cause behind your socks, t-shirts and even shorts to get heavy with moisture after a really good or even relatively mediocre workout). Socks that don’t wick can cause you to get some serious blisters, especially if you are running, hiking, or walking any great distance. Wicking technology has changed my running/hiking life.

When you see the term wick, dry-fit, cool-max, etc. on something like a pair of socks or a t-shirt, I encourage you to try it out. It’s more expensive but it is so worth the extra cash you pay when you are not being weighted down by all that extra sweat. And when I say more expensive, even that is shrinking away as you can now find wicking technology products at traditional superstores like Wal-mart and Target. You can usually identify these products easily because they have a giant tag attached to them telling you all about the wonders of the wicking concept.

But enough with the random, science lesson, I’ve run my last two half marathons in these bad boys with nary a blister in sight after being blister prone in all previous races. I once ran a marathon in a non-wicking pair of socks and literally had 4 blisters by the end of the race. Trust me taking up the hobby of running can be tough enough, don’t blister yourself in the foot (get it like shoot yourself in the foot?) before you’ve even get started by wearing a pair of non-wicking socks.

My favorite brand is Iniji. These are toe socks. Whatever your thoughts are about toe socks, you have got to put those preconceived notions aside when you are a runner. Blisters between your toes suck, and they suck hard, and they suck really hard in these sweaty summer months. Do yourself a favor and try these puppies out, especially if you are blister prone like me. You will not regret it.

Above are a pair of socks for the runner who likes their socks to look like socks. Source

Here's a pair for those that want the traditional toe sock funky look. Source

And here's a pair for the yoga enthusiast. Source

This particular brand is most easily purchased online or at a running/outdoors shop. Some my favorite spots to shop for these bad boys if you are located in the South are:
Big Peach Running Company-Atlanta, GA (multiple locations across the greater ATL area)
Diamond Brand Outdoors-Arden, NC
Foot RX-Asheville, NC

Anyway, try out this new favorite of mine and let me know what you think!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Can you Shih tzu, Frankidini?

So my mom and I were chatting this evening and she brought up the fact that my adorable, lovable Shih tzu Frankie is crazy. It's true. This dog is insane. Not only is she passive-aggressive (she once peed on one of our guest bed pillows because my mother-in-law, who she loves, left after a weekend visit and apparently had not given a proper goodbye). But Frankie is also an escape artist.

We have tried everything we can think of to keep her caged during the day. We would love to let her run free but Frankie not only has bathroom issues when people she loves leave after a visit, sometimes she will choose to tinkle on the floor inside after weeks and weeks of pretending to have established potty-trained habits. So we've tried crating her, but she has literally escaped every crate we've ever tried to keep her in, so I'm at loss and curious if anyone out there in cyber-land can explain my Shih tzu to me?

Here are the crates we've tried and the subsequent escapes by Frankie:

1)The traditional wire crate:


This is a cool crate and I'm sure it works really well for most normal dog owners. In fact it worked really well for us when we crate-trained Rocky (our other adorable pup). Unfortunately Frankie is too smart for this crate. She uses her little Dr. Seuss*** paws to finagle the latch open on the bottom and sneaks through.

I once even came home to find her collar still inside the crate...How the heck did she manage that? Needless to say we have not put her in this crate again. I was worried she'd choke herself on this beast.

2. The pretty blue crate:


This is where Frankie got her nickname Frankidini. This crate boasts multiple entry ways. One garage door type in the front, the traditional side entry, and the top opens up too. I came home from work one day to Frankie waiting patiently for me by the front door. My first thought was to freak out, "who the heck is in my apartment and letting Frankie out?". I walked over to the crate and all three doors were closed but the latch for the top entry was slightly busted. Frankidini had worked her magic on it. We tried her a couple more times and within a week Frankie had completely destroyed this crate. (This is a 11 pound dog we're talking about).

3) Collapsible soft crate:Source

This is our most recent attempt. Frankie unzipped it the first day we put her in it, but we figured we had put her in it upside-down and that gravity had been against us. Next we tried her in it (this will sound weird) in the bathtub. Sounds crazy I know, but the bathtub is Frankie's favorite spot in the whole house. I think it's because it's cool against her fur.

Once we kept seeing Frankie pace back and forth across the floor with her dog toys. Three or four times this happens and Beau and I get curious. We walk into the bathroom to find this:

Frankie has also figured out that water comes out of the faucet in the bathtub and as a result paws at it to let us know if she is thirsty in the middle of the night. Cute the first couple times, annoying at 3am on a work night.

So we decided to put the soft crate into the bathtub thinking that the cool of the tub could be felt through the vinyl crate. We came home to the crate outside of the bathroom and around the corner (meaning that she had managed to hop from the bathtub inside the crate out of the bathroom and around the corner before escaping. Frankie next ripped a whole in the side of the crate. This crate lasted approx. 3 attempts.

So can you help me out? Can you explain my Shih tzu to me? Any ideas you have for crate-training a reluctant pup are welcome.

***Dr. Seuss paws: This is what I call Frankie's pawsies because when they get wet the curl up at the end like a Dr. Seuss character...see:

Oh and here's a picture of my other puppy love Rocky...I don't want him to read this later and get jealous that he was only mentioned in passing.