Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas after Christmas.

I had a pretty wonderful Christmas, and I feel so blessed to have been able to spend it with my family.  Watching my sisters unwrap all of their gifts and witnessing their excitement brought me SO much joy! And just when I thought this holiday season couldn't get any better, it did :)

On Friday, my two best friends and I got together for our annual Christmas exchange.  We each brought appetizers and wore our PJs...even though we don't sleep over anymore, we can still have pajama parties, right?

As you can see, we had more than enough food and sweets for the three of us.

 My seven layer dip...found the recipe here.  It did not disappoint.

 Catherine's homemade cheese ball...super easy to make:  1 8 oz. pkg. of cream cheese, 1 pkg. of ranch dressing mix, and shredded cheese...

 I also made the dessert on the left.  Kind of hard to tell what it is, I know.  I got the recipe here, except I didn't add the toffee chips (as you can see).  This bark is addictive and dangerous, so be careful.  There's nothing healthy about them.

After consuming way too many calories, we broke into the gifts.  These two are the easiest to buy for because a) I know them inside out, and b) they love everything!  I'm pretty sure they feel the same way about shopping for me.  Regardless, buying for them is always fun because I enjoy giving to those I love...and I LOVE these two girls.  

The following night, I shared Christmas with my second family.  Each year, my team gets together at one of the girls' house and we have dinner followed by a Secret Santa gift exchange followed by an all-nighter sleepover.  I never participate in the all-nighter (I'm too old), but I always enjoy sharing time with my girls.  It's so fun to watch the big reveal, too see who had who, and to watch them unwrap their gifts.  And let me tell you, they are the best gift-givers.  I think I get more excited about the gifts than they do!  I always buy a little something from me to them too...

V-neck long sleeved black shirts with the NB Drill Team logo.

And this year, I received THE BEST gift ever from my girls...

A necklace with the birthstone of each of my senior girls along with a paw print pendant (that you can't see in this picture).  I will forever treasure this <3
These girls, although they may test my patience at times, bring me a lot of happiness and a TON of laughs and I'm so thankful for all 17 of them!

 How stinkin' cute are they?!

I had a blast this weekend doing Christmas after Christmas!  I'm approximately 10 pounds heavier, but I'm 10 times happier and that makes it all worth it, right?

Friday, December 28, 2012

glad to be back.

Ok, I know...I've been MIA for too long.  Once school was in full swing, grad school got intense, and drill team practices and games began, I disappeared from the face of my blog.  To say I've missed blogging would be an understatement.  

Christmas is over, the decorations are down, and everyone is getting geared up for 2013.  It's the time for New Year's resolutions, hitting the gym to shed the extra pounds, and a fresh start!  I can't help but be excited about all that is in store for 2013.  Like everyone else, I've been considering what my own resolutions will be.  While I don't have any "resolutions" (no one ever sticks to those anyway!), there are a couple of things I plan to focus on:
  • Family first.  Life gets super busy but family keeps us grounded.  My family brings me so much happiness.  I don't want to miss my little sisters growing up and I plan to be there every opportunity I have--the school plays, the dance recitals, the holidays, school banquets--the list could go on and on.  I want to be a part of it. 
  • Don't abandon the small things that bring me joy.  I enjoy blogging (whether anyone reads it or not) I'm back, and very excited to share my journey with whoever should read, even if it's just my mom ;)
  • Keep and open mind.  I'm finishing up my graduate degree and I've been spending time exploring my options after graduation.  Who knows what opportunities may come my way?  I don't, but I intend to consider every opportunity.  Through faith and prayer, I know God will send me in the right direction.
  • My husband.  I cannot stress enough just how happy this man makes me.  We are so blessed to have one another.  Sorry about the picture, but it pretty much sums up our relationship...

Ok guys, I have to get out of the bed, off this computer, and get my rear in gear.  After having lunch with a few of my girlfriends (who I haven't seen in forever!) today, I have to whip up few appetizers for tonight.  I'm having Christmas after Christmas with my two very best friends, and I cannot wait!  

Cross your fingers that it all turns out because we all know how brilliant I am in the kitchen...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

a to z: things i adore

It's hump day, and I'm wishing it were FRIDAY.  My work life has been a complete whirlwind these last few days for a multitude of reasons.  I find myself coming home each night, throwing on sweats, pouring a glass of wine, and crashing on the couch.  Unfortunately, I have to crash with the computer in my lap because duty homework calls.

Today, I thought I would switch it up a little bit.  It's been too long (for me) since my last post and I've been wanting to catch up.  I also needed a little pick-me-up this afternoon, so instead of my normal blog post, I decided to reflect on some of the things in this life that I love so much.  I saw an "A to Z" survey on one of the blogs I read a couple of months ago, and thought it'd be fun to do one of my own.  I'm basically going to use each letter of the alphabet to to highlight something that brings me joy (hence the title "things i adore").

Here goes...

A to Z:  Things I Adore

A - Apples.  I eat an apple almost every day, usually with peanut butter.  And you can't eat apples without the Pampered Chef apple's best invention.  Sliced apples with peanut butter is a great snack and it's filling too.  Can't beat it.

B - Bo.  My husband and best friend in this world.  He brings me such an incredible amount of joy.  Can't you tell?!

C - Catherine Blue Ward.  Most girls are not as lucky as I am to have found a lifelong best friend.  We'll grow old laughing at each other's jokes.  Sad part is, we're usually the only ones who get the jokes.  Catherine has been with me through the best and the worst of times.  She's simply the best.

D - My daddy, of course.  I'm so thankful to have been raised by such a wise and caring man.  Love my dad!

E - Exercise.  I am grateful for an able body to do the things I do...whether it's taking a Zumba class, hitting the elliptical, or struggling through an Insanity workout.  Exercise is a stress reliever for me.  It also makes me feel strong. 

F - Fried okra.  I know, I know, fried foods are not that good for you.  BUT, it's okay to enjoy your favorite foods once in a while, right?  Bo makes the best fried okra, it's really indescribable.  

G - Greek yogurt & Granola.  This is one of my favorite staple snacks.  My refrigerator is always stocked with many flavors of Chobani and I'm never without a box of granola for a topping.  Bo packs this snack in my lunchbox every workday.  I actually look forward to eating it too.  

H - Home.  There is nothing quite like coming home.  

I - Inspiring blogs.  I regularly read about 5 different blogs.  I get all kinds of ideas from these blogs including recipes, workout routines, shopping ideas, and inspiration to continue doing all the things I love.  If you're interested, check out the "gotta read" link on my main page.  You won't be sorry.

J - Jokes.  And they don't necessarily have to be good jokes.  I usually don't get the really good ones.

K - Kisses.  Of all kinds.  I love a good morning kiss from Bo, a sloppy "welcome home" kiss from Miller, and the Hershey kind too.  Chocolate makes everything better :)

L - Lucy.  She's a princess, just like her mommy!

And I have to mention laughter.  They say it's the best medicine...and a calorie burner too?! 
M - Mom a.k.a. supermom.  I just spent 20 minutes looking for a picture she'd think acceptable for posting, but I came up with nothing.  I love you, mom ;)

Miller.  That's 55 pounds of pure joy right there.

N - New Song Church.  Check it out.  

O - Oreos.  Ok, I'm not really an oreo fanatic, but Bo and I picked up the Halloween oreos at the store the other day and they are AH-MAZING.  They're especially good dunked in milk.  *Don't eat too many!  One oreo has 70 calories!!

P - Pumpkin.  Pumpkin anything.  Pumpkin everything.  Right now, I'm digging my large Dunkin' Donuts coffee with 2 pumps of pumpkin.  Anymore than two is too much; any less is not enough.  

Q - Quiet time. I don't mean nap time; rather, I enjoy a quiet time first thing in the morning when I get up.  I can enjoy a cup of coffee, do some reading, and then work on my graduate school assignments.  

R - Rusty. My big brother and friend.  He used to just be my big brother, but since we've both grown up, he's become a friend too.  For many years, we were the only two siblings and I have many good memories of the two of us during those years.  He's so cool, especially since finding a girlfriend I like ;)  

S - Sisters!  I adore my three little sisters.  Annoying?  Yes.  Overwhelming? At times, yes.  But gosh, they are THE sweetest, smartest, most adorable 10 year old girls that exist on this planet.  I am so thankful my crazy parents had triplets "late" in life.

T - Teaching.  I love my job even on the hard days...which has been every day so far this year.  Yikes. I'm praying that this is just one of "those years".  

U - University of Phoenix.  I'm currently getting my Masters in Administration from UOP and I love the school, the teachers, the classes...everything!  My administrator recommended it and I'm so glad she did.  I've actually enjoyed (in spite of the work load) taking the courses and engaging with others from around the country who share my same passion.

V - Visiting family.  I love to travel down to SC or Georgia to visit mine or Bo's family.  It feels so good to spend time with the one's you love.  One of my most favorite people to visit is my Aunt Kathy. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.  

W - Wrestling.  Yes, I said it.  I like wrestling, ok?  It's my husband's first true love and I support him in everything that he does.  If he loves it, then I love will put up with it.

Coach of the Year

X - Ok, don't hold it against me.  I would have to fabricate an "x" word and I'm just not going through the trouble.  X is just one of those letters...not a good first letter (but a great letter to have in words with friends!)

Y - You!  I'm so glad you're reading my blog, whether you're a friend, family member, or one of my silly drill team girls.  Writing makes me feel good and I'm thankful you're reading.

Z - Zumba.  I love taking zumba classes at the gym!  The classes are super fun and I truly do break a good sweat.  Zumba is offered at most gyms, so try a class if you haven't already.  


Ok guys, it's 5:45 am and I've gotta get going (and get off this computer)!  Work is calling my name. Have a great day :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

apple cinnamon funfetti pumpkin muffins

My doctor's appointment went great yesterday!  Before I was seen by the doctor, the nurse asked if I would be willing to participate in a clinical study and of course, I agreed.  On my way out, she handed me a $25 gift card to WalMart!  I didn't realize they were compensating the participants, but I sure wasn't complaining :)  Happy Doctor's Visit to ME!  After my appointment, I went to the house and piddled around waiting on Bo to get home from the tennis match so we could work out.  I was getting a little antsy, so I decided to do some baking.

Mom told me about a recipe she made recently that involved combining a box of cake mix with a can of pumping puree.  It sounded super easy and right up my alley, plus I had the ingredients I needed.  I pulled a package of muffin mix out of the pantry along with my pumpkin and set out to mix the two together.

As I was mixing the two together, I was actually chatting on the phone with my mom.  I was telling her how little mix there seemed to be in comparison to the pumpkin...something wasn't right.  Well duh...I was supposed to use a box of cake mix, not a small package of muffin mix.  Thank goodness I was on the phone with her and she could steer me in the right direction.  So, I went scrounging through the pantry again and came up with this...

So, I combined 2/3 of the funfetti cake mix with the already mixed apple cinnamon muffin mix and pumpkin puree.  Not a normal combo?  No biggie.  I'm a lover of all things funfetti, so it couldn't be that bad, could it?!

I baked them in a greased muffin pan for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, and voila!

If you look really closely, you can see the funfetti specks :)  And let me just tell you, they were AMAZING.  Just goes to show that what seems like a failure is sometimes turns out to be a success!


This morning, I enjoyed some of my favorite chobani yogurt topped with granola and one of my original recipe muffins.

After breakfast, Bo and I were out the door and off to my second doctor's appointment of the week.  As I've mentioned previously, I've been having some issues with sore and swelling knees lately, especially during and after exercise.  Bo thought it would be best to have an orthopedic look at them.  Diagnosis = kneecaps that run off-track.  Therapy = building up my quad muscles through specific exercises.  I'm also going to start taping my knees, moving the patella over slightly so it stays in place during exercise.  This should prevent further grinding and pain.  I'm relieved to know what is causing the pain and also to know that I don't have to quit any exercise, including running.  So thankful for that...

So, this happy girl is heading back to work in about an hour.  Before I go, I've got a couple of errands to run...and a belly to rub :)

He's waiting patiently (at first).

 I'd just started to give him love when he flopped over.  I thought you might enjoy a close up of the big man!

What a big baby.  

Ok friends, I'm out and about!  Have a great day <3

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

early to rise.

I got up super early this morning to do homework.  I'd forgotten almost forgotten what it was like to get up at 4:30 to get homework done...back to reality, right?  After an hour of work and a cup of coffee, I enjoyed egg whites and cheese on a whole wheat bagel, made with love by the hubby.  Unfortunately, I had to stick it on a paper plate and eat on the run because I had a ton to do when I got to work.  Not only did I have morning duty, but I also had to get my sub plans together for this afternoon.

I was so full of energy from my yummy breakfast, I was able to get everything accomplished before any students showed up (whew!).


I left school for the latter half of the day to go to my annual doctor's appointment.  Eck!  This is one situation I can honestly say I'd rather be working.  I headed home to make a quick lunch first.  I warmed up some of the leftover broccoli & rice casserole I made two days ago and a salad.  Even though you can't see them (they're hiding underneath!), there are mushrooms, onions, cherry tomatoes, and a sprinkle of cheese.

While I was eating, the dogs were fighting over who would eat out of Lucy's food bowl.

I think I know who won that one!


Off to the doctor for me, then heading to the gym!  Bo and I are heading to Spunky's tonight for our weekly hump-day visit :)

fall bucket list

I am so excited about the coming of Fall!  Fall of course brings cooler weather, which means crisp morning air, boots, scarves, changing leaves, and all things good to eat :)  I got the idea to create a fall bucket list from one of my favorite blogs...what's on your bucket list?

Make it a great day!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

i'm a slacker.

It's been exactly a week since my last post.  The sad part is that my week has been entirely uneventful and not real worthy of much discussion.  There hasn't been much going on in the kitchen.  Breakfast each morning consisted of the same thing.

Kashi cereal + blueberries.  Exciting, no.  Filling, yes.  It did the trick this week.  Dinners were hit and miss and not worthy of mention.

The week consisted of work and practice.  In between the two, I've been trying to get all the paperwork straight to begin my internship class on Tuesday.  It's been pushed back for two weeks due to financial aid confusion and paperwork issues, which has caused me a great deal of frustration.  Thankfully, it is now taken care of and I will officially start this week.  No more delays.  I will admit though that it has been quite a break not having to juggle full-time graduate work with these first few weeks of school (especially considering how hectic it's been!).

This weekend brought several much-needed things my way...

1.  Time with my husband.  During the week, we are both so busy that we collide around 8 pm each night.  Unfortunately, we are both exhausted by then and are able to do two things--eat, then go to sleep.  So, this weekend, spending time together around the house, watching red box flicks, and enjoying good meals together proved to be pretty good medicine for us both.

2.  Time to read.  I'm reading a really good book right now called Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.  He talks about God and the Christian faith from a perspective different than any other.  I can actually relate to it, which is not something I can say about a lot of the "Christian" books I've read.  Not to say that those books are not good's just that sometimes I just don't feel moved by them.  That is not the case with Blue Like Jazz.

3.  Time to reflect.  My job has brought me every emotion in the last three weeks except joy.  This is so unusual because I've spent the last three years soaking joy out of the time spent with my students in and out of the classroom.  This weekend, I took a good, hard look at the situation...trying to find the root of the problem.  I haven't put my finger on it just yet, but I am praying daily for help and direction.

4.  Church.  Thank goodness God keeps calling me back to church each week, because I leave each time feeling 10 times better than before I walked in.  Pastor Danny kicked off a new series this morning called "Enemies of the Heart", based on the book by Andy Stanley.  I ran by Books-A-Million after church and picked up a copy to read throughout the next several weeks of church.  Danny said something today that really stuck and, to be completely honest, really stepped on my toes too.  He said, "What comes out of your mouth comes from the heart."  Yikes.  So I guess I need to start looking at the condition of my heart, rather than just simply filtering my words and my actions (which doesn't always work anyways!).

5.  Dunkin' Donuts Coffee.  There is something really incredible about a large coffee with 4 cream, 1 splenda, and 2 pumps of pumpkin.  I've treated myself each morning...and I don't even feel guilty about it.  Yep, I said it.  Six dollars was well spent!


After church today, Bo's mom made us lentil soup which turned out to be really good!  The best part is that we have leftovers for the week :)

 Please take note of the super cute place mat above!  I'm slowly starting to pull out the Fall decor!

The remainder of my afternoon will consist of a husband/wife gym visit followed by more reading.  I guess I should probably spend some time with Lucy too, because she's looking pretty down-in-the-dumps...

Ok, time to get off the computer and change for the gym!  Back to reality, bright and early tomorrow morning...make it a great week :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

sum-it-up sunday!

Weekends can be extremely busy.  They can also be lazy or relaxing.  Either way, I find it difficult to pick up my computer and write because I'm either running around like mad or taking a break from it all.  So, I thought it might be a good idea to start "Sum-it-up Sunday", where I'll share the weekend events with you all!


Friday night + Fall = New Bern High School football games.  It's inevitable.  I spend most Friday nights sitting in the stands awaiting halftime when my girls step out on the field.  While I enjoy watching the games, I do NOT enjoy watching games like the one we played this week.  We won with a score of 47-2 (if that gives you any idea how uneventful the game was).  I took my sisters with me to the game where they enjoyed hanging out with two of their school buddies.

 Could they get any cuter?!  I passed out after the game from sheer exhaustion.


Saturday morning brought an egg and cheese whole wheat bagel my way.  Bo makes the BEST breakfast sandwiches.  I enjoyed it with a Macadamia Cookie flavored coffee.

It hit the spot!  Afterwards, I headed to the gym for a workout session which consisted of 50 minutes on the elliptical followed by some abs work.  Most gym sessions amount to similar exercise because I've been having such issues with my knees.  I'm going to an orthopedic to have them checked out.  I want to figure out what's wrong, but I also want to know what I can and can't do on them...I don't want to injure them to the point that I'm unable to exercise.

Afterwards, I had a coffee date with my friend Stephanie (whom I adore!).

This is an older picture of us...but meet Steph!  We hadn't seen each other since my birthday, so I got to unwrap my birthday gifts!  Stephanie always gives the best gifts, probably because she knows me so well :)

I was so thrilled about the new earrings and devotional!  I've actually been looking for a good devotional, since I've finished Jesus Calling...perfect timing, Steph!  I can't wait to start reading it.

After my coffee date, I went to meet one of my ex-students and her mom for lunch at Jinza, a small japanese restaurant in town.  Unfortunately, I forgot to snap pictures but I can definitely give you my reviews and it gets two thumbs up!  I had an avocado salad which was to. die. for.  And, as always, I enjoyed the Hibachi vegetables.  Delish.

Saturday evening, Bo and I had a date night--dinner and a movie.  It was perfect and much needed.


This morning, we woke early to clean up some before church.  We got it all done except for the mounds upon mounds of laundry, which I'm still working on.  I don't like laundry one just never seems to be finished.  I'm all about finishing tasks, so it totally messes up the to-do list.  Church today was great, especially the worship.  Our church had a celebration following the service, but Bo and I skipped out because a) I was feeling icky, and b) we had way too much to do when we got home :(  

The rest of our day consisted of school work, grocery shopping, and an afternoon movie.  Bo cooked an really good dinner for me tonight--one of my favorite.  Whole wheat pasta with veggies and alfredo sauce.  It's super easy but SO tasty.  He must've known his sniffling, sneezing wife needed something special!  The picture honestly doesn't do it justice.


So, where are the pups the last few days????  Well, Lucy is her pretty little princess self as always.  Miller, on the other hand, it in a bit of a state.

See that poor little noggin'?  He got some sort of infection so Bo had to take him in to the vet this week.  The doc gave him a cortisone shot and sent up home with a topical treatment (which Miller hates).  It smells horrible, but his head does seem to be healing up from the treatment.  Thank heavens, because I worry about my boy when he isn't feeling 100%.  Prayers for Miller, please!


Ok, time to wind down...early start tomorrow.  Sweet dreams :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

the swing of things.

I'm starting to really get into the swing of things.  I'm adjusting to my new schedule and still managing to fit in time for exercise and blogging.  Even though I'm super busy, I'm managing to get everything done thanks to my husband who is so helpful and the ongoing to-do lists.  I don't know about you, but checking things off the to-do list is one of the best feelings!  I feel as if I'm actually getting something accomplished when I physically check it off the list.


Last night marked the first Grizzly football game!  I, of course, had to go and see my babies playing on the field and cheering on the sidelines.  Even though the grizzlies lost the game (14-12), it was a great first game.  I also managed to get some really great pictures for the yearbook while I was there :)

The captain's meet up before the game!  

Check out that stunt!  SO proud of my girls :)

I took way too many to share, but you get the point.  


This morning, I'm really reflecting on Pastor Danny's blog post from yesterday.  You see, twice this week, I've had "one of those mornings" (and this is only a four day week!).  Being the OCD soul that I am, it's been ongoing stress each day.  Reading this post helped me to look at things from a new perspective and I feel it's really worth sharing with you all before I go.  I particularly liked this quote from Mike Yaconelli:

"Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove flaws but because we let go of seeking perfection and, instead, seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives. Spirituality is not about being fixed; it is about God’s being present in the mess of our unfixedness."