Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm Joining the Par-tay!!

My first EVER link up What I Ate Wednesday with Peas and Crayons! Get excited :)

So, back in January I decided I wanted to start cooking healthy and better for you meals for husband and I. It wasn't an all out resolution (we all know how those things go - in and out and GONE by February!). But mainly keeping it as a mental note in the back of mind when I begin to prepare dinner for the night. 

WIAW is definitely a great way to keep track of our your eating habits, good and bad. You can look back on a particular day and see what you put in your body as long as you documented it with pictures (or wrote down what you ate)!!

With that said, I give you What I Ate Wednesday!

Don't worry, I only managed to eat two.
Delicious home-made (by someone else) strawberry preserves!

Mmm Mmm Good!!
And that's the good stuff right there. None of that low fat crap ;)

pumpkin spice pancakes with chocolate chips

PB&J with skim milk

baked pasta layered with grilled chicken

nestle tollhouse cookies layered with bluebell home-made vanilla ice cream

May not all be 'healthy' for you, but downright delicious!!

And, there you have it, my first WIAW link up! 
I'm not a virgin anymore, so to speak. 
Can't wait for next week's party!! Come join the party! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

As of late...

I'm in higher spirits today compared to yesterday.  I finished  paying my bills. For this month. I feel more like a big kid after making my first student loan payment.  I'm taking more pictures.  Lots and lots of pictures (just a tad overload in this post).  I'm cooking healthier meals for husband and myself. There's something about putting healthy food in your belly, you just feel better. And, I'm being a little more crafty…

Watercolors - a new hobby
Fish and veggies
Fall is just around the corner… 
Home-made wine

You just can't resist a face that sweet!

Oh, and don't forget to check out my latest guest post here!
Happy Tuesday, Friends.

Monday, August 29, 2011

We all fall down...

We all fall down
It's the getting back up that really counts
We live and we learn
to help someone up when it's their turn
In life there's only one guarantee
Your feet won't always be on the ground
We all fall down

(song by Diamond Rio)

Always love a good song that has a life lessons in its lyrics.  

No matter what happens in my life, good or bad, I always want to be able to have my voice and share my story. Blogging has helped me find my voice, and it has connected me with so many women, who laugh at my lame jokes, who have held my hand and who helped me find myself. I can't see myself giving up blogging or not having it in my life. 

Last week I fell down. Hard. But, I'm trying to see it as a good thing, as a stepping stone to something better. I'm keeping my head up and trying to stand back up and move on. Husband has been a wonderful support system. He keeps telling me that everything happens for a reason, and I truly believe that. 

I wasn't happy where I was, and something deep down inside of me knew that. I am making changes, and I have my eyes set on new heights (though, that might mean setting myself up for another hard fall...). Guess we'll just have to wait and see. 

We're all human, and we all fall down.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Cookin' {Vegetarian Style}

Cuban Black-Bean Stew with Rice
Serves 4

What you'll need:
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), chopped {leave the seeds in for a spicy kick to your taste buds}
2 cans (19 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 ounces) vegetable broth
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Garnishes (optional): lime wedges, fresh cilantro, and sliced radishes


1. Prepare rice according to package instructions. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onion, garlic and bell peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Add beans, broth, vinegar and oregano. Cook, mashing some beans with the back of a spoon until slightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Fluff rice with a fork. Serve beans over rice, and add your garnishes, if desired.

Feel free to mix and change up the recipe to fit your taste. If you don't want to go completely vegan for this dinner, then add in sliced sausage, ground beef or ground turkey.

For more vegetarian recipes like this one go here

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Good Hard Look - Book Review

If you're looking for a great book, a book that will make you value your life, a book that will make you forgive, a book that will make you take a good hard look at your own life and want to live your life to the fullest, then A Good Hard Look is just what you need. 

Read my BlogHer book review here

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cheers to the weekend!

Did you have a good weekend?! Last week seemed like a long weekend all meshed into one with a touch of work attached. Sadly though, it's taken a few more days to recuperate than I thought (this post was meant for Monday). Hope you all enjoyed the lovely guest bloggers I invited to blog sit for me while I was away in Dallas. I really do appreciate those awesome ladies. Thank YOU for reading their stories!

I'm not gonna lie, it feels good to finally be home and sleeping in my own bed. And I missed Brandon. A lot. Snuggling by yourself just isn't the same. Even if you are in a five star hotel with clean, crisp sheets and cloud-like pillows. Thankfully though, the plane ride home was only an hour long. That definitely beats a five hour drive for sure.

Here's a few pictures from my trip!

Sushi for dinner on our first night! 
Nothing like great friends to dine with! 
Dallas night life. 
And, a pretty orchid just for YOU!
Getting a little work done. 
Always LOVE catching up with family! Love you, Tim!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Michelle from Michelle's Style File

Happy Friday, loves! Boy do I have a surprise for you. 
I've got a stunner of a blogger for you. 
One who hails all the way from the southern hemisphere down unda' 
and where they call friends mates. And, I may or may not have looked up some Aussie slang words after this post. ;P Enjoy! 

* * * * *

Hi, I'm Michelle from Melbourne in Australia and Michelle's Style File is my blog!
Thank you so much to Alisha for giving me the chance to pop on over here and say g'day to all of you.

As you guys in the Northern Hemisphere are approaching Autumn, Alisha and I thought it would be great to show you guys some looks from Aussie Autumn to give you a bit of inspiration for the coming months.
Autumn is all about crispy mornings and beautiful sunny days.  It's a great chance to start playing with layers again, bring some pants back into the mix, and blazers and leather jackets are just the thing!

Why not pop on over to Michelle's Style File and visit me there.
See you soon!

* * * * * 

Great style and simply gorgeous! 
Thank you, Michelle for some awesome fall inspired looks. I don't know about you guys, but I am SO looking forward to cooler temperatures, and jackets, and blazers, and scarves, and everything else that goes with Autumn.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ashley from Piloting Life

Hope you brought your appetite with you because today's post is definitely going to make you hungry! 

* * * * * 

Hey everyone! I'm really excited to be here guest blogging for Alisha today. She is one of my very favorite bloggers, and I've been following her blog for quite a while now! While Alisha is off to the "big D", I am more than happy to be here filling in for her. Thanks for having me, Alisha!

Okay. Let me introduce myself. My name is Ashley, and I blog over at Piloting Life. You can find me writing about everything from travel to clothes, but today I want to share one of my very favorite recipes with y'all. (I'm pretending to be a real Texan by using the word y'all.) Fall isn't too far away, and this is a great meal for a crisp fall day or, if you love mac&cheese like me and my husband, it's great basically any day of the year.

I saw this macaroni and cheese recipe on the Food Network
during Ina Garten's show Barefoot Contessa.

However, her recipe calls for some typically expensive ingredients. I've modified the recipe to make a more affordable meal that still tastes delicious!
(Her version is amazing. I made it once, and it's one of those great special occasion dishes.)

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
(I'm going to share the Barefoot Contessa recipe
with my notes on the side)

* kosher salt (note: I use sea salt)
* vegetable oil (note: this is for boiling the pasta, and I just use olive oil)
* 1 lb. cavatappi or elbow macaroni (note: I'd say just choose your favorite...
it's great with mini shell pasta too!)
* 1 quart milk (note: I usually use 2% since it's thicker than skim)
* 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of unsalted butter, divided
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
*12 ounces of Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
* 8 ounces extra sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
(note: the cheeses total 20 ounces and I usually use a mix
of other types since Gruyere can be expensive)
* 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 tsp. nutmeg (note: you can eliminate this if you want, it's made to
bring out the nuttiness of the Gruyere cheese)
* 1-1/2 lbs. of cooked lobster meat (note: I usually eliminate this ingredient because of cost,
but you could use cooked chicken or another substitute. It's also good without any meat.)
* 1-1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
(note: I chop up the slices of bread in a food processor to make crumbs. A blender might work)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water.
Add the pasta and cook according to directions on the package.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. In a large pot (note: I usually boil the pasta first, and then use the same pot for this step), melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, (or whichever cheeses you are using) 1 tablespoon of salt, the pepper, and nutmeg (if you are using it). Add the cooked macaroni and lobster (again if you choose to use any meat) and stir well. Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes. (note: I often just put the entire mixture into a large casserole dish.)

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Back for 30 to 35 minutes, or until bubble and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Enjoy! (:

We love to eat this macaroni and cheese with breaded chicken and a salad. If you make the version with lobster, it doesn't need much to go with it, except maybe a vegetable.

I hope you love this as much as my husband and I do!

Thanks again for having me, Alisha. (:

* * * * * 

Ashley, you're welcome back anytime just as long as you bring the mac and cheese with ya! She's the coolest gal around, she's my bbf (blogger best friend, duh!), and she lives in Florida too! Do I really need to say more? Head on over to her blog and make friends! Go!! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Megan from Mackey Madness

Today I've invited Megan over to blog sit for me. 
This gorgeous southern belle is one of my favorite bloggers, 
and a gal I consider a real friend. 
A blate (blogger+date) is definitely in our near future. 
A mere six hours is all that separates us...

* * * * *

Hi there little loves! My name is Megan and I blog over at Mackey Madness

I am SO thrilled to be guest posting for Alisha today while she is away on a work trip. 

Speaking of trips, that's what I am sharing today. See how I worked that in smoothly? : )

When I was in nursing school, I was chosen to go to a nursing convention in Baltimore, along with one of my teachers and one other student. I luckily happened to be friends with said student. Sounds like a perfect trip, right? Totally wrong. 

The night before the big trip, my friend called to tell me that she was sick and wasn't going to be able to go to Baltimore with us. Did y'all get that?! So now, I'd be going to Baltimore...alone with a teacher. Flying on a plane...alone with a teacher. Staying in a hotel room...alone with a teacher!! Hello awkward conversations!

After immediately bursting into tears and declaring that I wasn't going either (talk about #majordramaqueen), my mom forced me to I put my big girl pants on and prepared for my trip...with my teacher...alone. 

Confession: it ended up being one of the most amazing trips ever. My teacher was super relaxed and I got to do a lot of exploring on my own, which was super fun for me because I have never been to a big city before!

The beautiful harbor area near our hotel. 

We got to tour the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing...sounds dorky, but it was AMAZING!!

The scenery changed my life. 

So lesson learned: don't be a big baby when things don't go my way.

Now y'all come on over and visit this big baby! : )

Thanks for having me, Alisha! Prayers for a safe trip, love!!

* * * * * 

Seriously y'all, she is the sweetest! And she always has the best stories with something that will make you laugh for sure! 
Thanks so much Megan for blog sitting for me today. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Anna from In Honor of Design

Today's post is from one of the sweetest ladies I've had the pleasure of 'meeting'. She's a beautiful gal, a wonderful mom and a fabulous designer too!! She is Anna from In Honor of Design

* * * * * 

I am heartbroken to see the summer come to an end, but we shouldn't let it go without a good run of fun!

WHAT: An end of summer party!!
WHO: You and all the fun gals across the blogosphere:)

WHERE: In the park with lots of bold colored chairs of course..

EAT: Sangria Popsicles, Fresh Fruit, and Iced Tea :)

WHAT TO WEAR: Bring your bold colors and Stripes, and your favorite conversation topic of choice!

Its fun to party plan, isn't it? Hope you all will join me ;) 

Thanks for having me as a guest in your awesome space Alisha! 
<3 Anna

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