Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My PSA

In the past, I've always posted about my New Year's Resolutions. This year, I didn't do it, but mostly because my resolutions were quite boring (read 12 books, drink more water...blah blah blah).  One of my resolutions that was pretty important to me, was to visit a dermatologist for a skin check.

After seeing this PSA float all over facebook back in the fall, I knew I that this was something I needed to do. As someone who has had many a sunburns in my life and used tanning beds, I knew this was something I needed to do.



This past Friday I made my trip to the dermatologist. And honestly, it wasn't bad at all. I was so nervous going in, mostly because I do a pretty good job at building things up in my mind, good and bad, and cause a lot of anxiety in myself. The check was pretty easy, and although parts were uncomfortable, it was well worth it for my peace of mind.

If you haven't been to a dermatologist to have your skin checked, stop and ask yourself, what's holding you back? If you haven't been to a dermatologist recently, please watch the video and think about scheduling yourself an appointment.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Old Friends

We really love living in Charlotte. We love the city and all that it has to offer. We love our jobs. We love that there are no tunnels that back up as part of our commutes. It has been a wonderful new home to us. Honestly, there's very little that we miss about living in Norfolk, VA. 

BUT...

We really miss our friends there. We left behind some wonderful friends to move to North Carolina, and while we've met some fabulous people here, they certainly don't replace the people we left. 

This past weekend we traveled back to Norfolk and Virginia Beach to see our friends there, and it felt so nice. Friday night we went out to dinner with our good friends, and then Saturday we all visited the zoo together. Funny, we lived minutes from this zoo for 4 years and we never visited. With the beautiful weather this weekend, it seemed like the right time to go.



We had fun saying hello to all the animals and just being outside in the sunshine. On Saturday evening, our same friends had us over for dinner and drinks, and of course for fun and hanging out. 





I was only there for a small portion of the evening because I actually left J and our friends behind for dinner so I could drive to the beach to meet my old team of teachers for dinner. And my goodness, it felt good to see those ladies. 

Leaving that school has been the hardest part of my transition to Charlotte. I've blogged before about how much I loved the people I worked with, and seeing them on Saturday confirmed just how wonderful they are.  I am very lucky because I have moved to a new school with great people, but no one will come close to replacing the women on my last team. It sometimes even feels like I'm just on this very long summer break and in a week or two, I'll be back at work with them again and we'll be back to our usual selves. You'd think that after 5 months of working somewhere new, I'd adjust and realize this is my new normal, but a little piece of me just doesn't want to admit it. I really miss them.

Our dinner was lovely, but I didn't take a single picture. Kicking myself for that now! But I guess when you're having lots of fun, sometimes pictures aren't a priority. 

We drove back in town today and we're gearing up for a very busy week. This weekend away was a wonderful refresher and has me ready for summer so we can go back to visit again...and next time we'll be able to visit the beach!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Bobby Newport"

If you're not watching Parks & Recreation....well, you just need to start. Because that show is funny stuff, folks. This past week's episode had me in tears from laughter at multiple parts.

But this part, especially, just killed me. I have watched it approximately four dozen times since last week.


"Now we're just wasting time Jerry."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Menu Monday

What we've been eating this week:

J's Meals...


Always a favorite. No link or recipe. If you're dying for the sauce recipe, email me!




My Meals (all courtesy of Cooking Light this week!): 



A very tasty sandwich. I couldn't find fresh basil, so I subbed in a few spoonfuls of pesto and mixed that with the goat cheese. I also left out the olives.



This was a tasty and easy meal! It was nothing special, but something quick and easy. I was going to make roasted asparsagus, buuuuut...I was lazy. No veggies with this meal. 

Chicken and White Bean Soup
adapted from this recipe



 I made a lot of changes to this one, and it ended up being delicious.  Here's my version:

Ingredients:

  • 2 bacon slices, chopped
  • 3 italian chicken sausages, removed from casings
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
1. Cook bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat 7 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings in pan; set bacon aside.
2. Add chicken to drippings in pan; sauté 6 minutes. Remove chicken from pan. Add onion and garlic to pan; cook 4 minutes or until tender. Add tomato, oregano, and pepper; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Return bacon and chicken to pan. Stir in 2 cups water and broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil. Add orzo, and cook for 9 minutes or until al dente. Add beans; cook 2 minutes or until heated. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar and salt.
3. Serve with crunchy bread and enjoy!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Favorites

This may have been a four day work week, but man...it was long. It might have something to do with the crazy sinus problems I've got going on. Or it could easily be about a hundred other things. Either way...it's FRIDAY (sorry if that got the song stuck in your head), and I'm looking forward to the weekend. 

In honor of this lovely day, I'm here to share some of my recent favorites....

1. Cinnamon Burst Cheerios. Amazing. I'm not even a regular Cheerios fan, but these guys are the perfect amount of sweet in my breakfast cereal.


2. Charlotte Restaurant Week begins this weekend. We have reservations for a new place on Sunday evening and I am pretty pumped!

3. My new Scentsy warmer. My mom bought me the warmer for Christmas, and yesterday I got some new bars in the mail, thanks to my friend Megan who sells it.  I am burning Cinnamon Vanilla and it smells so great!


4. Writing A-Z: This is for all my teachers out there. Confession....I hate teaching writing. It is my least favorite subject to teach and the grading is painful. I recently bought a year long subscription to Writing A-Z for $30, and it was worth every penny. I find that writing is a subject that I really struggle to plan engaging and fun worthwhile lessons. This site pretty much does it all for you. It has work samples, it walks you through each part of the writing process of all types of writing...I am so happy I paid for this.

5. My Danskos that I got for Christmas. They're pretty darn incredible. Everyone told me I'd love them, but I had no idea. They're amazing. My only issue is I need more bootcut pants to wear with them. I wear corduroys once or twice each work week, but they're straight leg and I feel like they look kind of silly with the clogs. If I invest in some more bootcut pants for work, I'll be set. These things are great!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The me I want to be...

You know the phrase Keeping up with Joneses? I have been known to fall into this trap a time or two. It's so easy to see what others have and want it myself. I know I'm saying anything new here, because I think it's something that everyone experiences in some way or form. Maybe you don't want to have expensive clothes or an expensive car, but maybe you want to have that job or promotion that your best friend just got at work. It's so easy to look at the people around us and compare ourselves. Especially in a world where we're constantly seeing the "highlights" of our friends and acquaintances lives daily on the internet.  My parents and my husband have done a good job keeping me grounded most my life, and I've never been once to over indulge on things, but that doesn't stop me from feeling a little jealous of the friend that got the pair of $350 boots that I can't afford.

I started going to a new church in Charlotte right before the new year, and this past Sunday the pastor started a sermon series called "The Me I Want To Be." This past week he spoke on the types of "me's" that we don't want to be. The one that struck me the most was this one...

The me I don't want to be...the me I think I should be.

It's really easy to tell ourselves we need to be this and we need to be that because that's we see other people doing. I am so guilty of this. I see the way someone else lives there life, and I fall into a trap of thinking that's how I should be living my own life. I see friend's buying new cars and homes, and I so often think, "Oh, I need that too," when that is far from the case.  

Here's the part of his sermon that really got me though. His next words are what hit me.

"When you compare yourself with someone else, you're comparing your insides with their outsides."

Read that a second time if you need to. It's powerful. While sitting there and listening to the pastor, I suddenly realized how ridiculous my wants and needs for my exterior appearance can be. When I look at someone else and think "they have it all," I don't see the whole picture. I am taking my feelings, and comparing it with only the parts of them I can see. From the outside, I don't know that they're completely broken on the inside. Or maybe they're hurting due to trouble at home with their spouse. I also don't know anything about their financial situation just because they have a big house and a nice car. There's very little that you can tell about a person from the outside, so why do we compare ourselves to them from that view?

Maybe this isn't a struggle for you. I try hard not compare myself to others, but it's definitely something that can be a struggle. My prayer is that I can be secure in who I am, based on my insides. That my appearances and no one else's appearances can sway the person that I want to be and the person that I am called to be.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

bridal shower wreath

Remember back in December when I shared my Christmas card wreath on here?

Well, here's another fun use for it!


I cannot take any credit for this, but I love the idea! My high school bff, Tyler, threw a bridal shower for a friend of hers this weekend.  She was inspired by my Christmas card version and thought it would be fun way to let the guests share a sweet note with the bride to be.  I love her final product!

When she tweeted the photo to me, I told her it was definitely blog worthy!

This would be so fun at baby shower too! Or a kitchen shower for a bride to be...guests could come with a recipe already on a recipe card and add it to the wreath.  So many fun ways that this wreath can be used!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Menu Monday

Happy Monday!

I am closing in on a three day weekend, and I must admit, that extra day just feels so nice. I think there should be one three day weekend every month. That would give you something to look forward to each month. How nice would that be?

I suppose Mondays are just a part of life. Let's make the best of them with some food! 

My Meals:


Big thanks to Molly for sharing this recipe with me. I am one who doesn't typically like chicken noodle soup, but after reading through the recipe, it sounded like a great meal for a cold day. I bought a rotisserie chicken for this meal which I think made it even yummier. This might be my new favorite soup recipe!

SUSHI!


Before you ask, I sure didn't make this. This lovely little meal in a box comes from my local Harris Teeter. I have always disliked sushi, but in the past month and half, I have started to love it more and more. I'm still reserved with what I'll order, but the texture doesn't bother me the way it did before. J plays frisbee on Tuesday nights, and this might be my new go-to meal for my "single" dinners!

Naan Pizza


This idea came from my friend Rachel. She told me that she makes personal pizzas on the frozen Naan from Trader Joe's. What a genius idea! This was one tasty, mini-pizza! I topped mine with some leftover rotisserie chicken that didn't go into the soup, some bbq sauce, some cheddar, and a few green onions. I already thinking of all the fun and different combos I can come up with for these mini-pizzas!

Pork Chops, Salad, and Sweet Potato Fries


Nothing fancy here. I marinated and grilled some pork chops, made some frozen sweet potato fries, and J threw together a salad for us of mixed greens, cucumbers, and sunflower seeds. This wasn't a fancy meal, but it was yummy!

Beef Skewers with Couscous and Skinny Tzatziki


We make this meal a lot, and every time I remember how much I love it. We forgot our green peppers this time, but it still worked out.



Thursday, January 12, 2012

My most embarrassing moment...

I recently told this story to my husband, which I hadn't thought of in years, but as I was telling the story it occurred to me that this was definitely my most embarrassing moment in life.

When I was in 7th grade, I was girl scout. A very chatty, and obnoxious girl scout, and I rode the bus to school with a bunch of "cool" boys who loved to torment me. Once, they threw my gym shoes out the bus window (all important details of the story).

Here's a photo, you know, just so you get a real idea of what an awkward middle schooler I was...


(I can't believe I just posted that.)

One weekend my girl scout troop drove to the beach to go to a lock-in (man, lock-ins were so fun!). On that trip, I carried with me my awesome turquoise, Jansport backpack.  Somewhere along the trip, my troop leader passed around a bag of Tastetations. For those of you don't remember, Tastetations were these hard candies by Hershey that came in chocolate flavors. At the end of the weekend, the remaining Tastetations ended up in the front pocket of my backpack.



Let's now flash forward to Monday morning. My bus arrived at school before the bell rang, so we're parked in the bus loop with the other early busses. I am on my bus, talking to my good friend Jennifer, when I quickly remember that I have a big bag of Tastetations. I pop one in my mouth, and start babbling to Jennifer about something, when all the sudden (like 5 seconds after I popped it in my mouth), the Tastetation LODGES into my throat. I don't know what the heck happened, but bam. Tastetation stuck in my throat.  

Now, when I say throat, I mean my esophagus. Not my trachea.  I could breathe, but barely. 

At this point, Jennifer is kind of alarmed, but the "cool" boys on my bus definitely start to laugh. They think it's funny that the loud, chatty girl can't talk and her eyes are bulging out of head. A few other people around me realize I'm kind of freaking out, and they manage to rush me to the front of the bus. At this point, everyone thinks I'm legit choking.  Yet the "cool" boys are still laughing. 

We get to the front of the bus, where my bus driver, who, God bless her, was quite the redneck, decides to do the heimlich maneuver to me. To this day, i'm about 95% sure that she had no training in the heimlich. I guess she just thought it seemed like a good idea. Meanwhile, I know I'm not choking, but this full size piece of candy is lodged in there so badly that it hurts and I can barely speak.  

When redneck bus driver finally realizes (after what felt like 5 minutes) that her heimlich isn't working, and my bus is thoroughly enjoying this show, she rushes me off the bus, into the middle of the bus loop to get help. I want to tell her I'm okay, but I just remember being unable to talk.  Everything was embarrassing up to this point, but getting off the bus was when things hit the worst point. Being in the middle of the bus loop with a bus driver trying to do the heimlich on me meant that every bus in the bus loop could now watch this happen. I remember being mortified. They must have walky-talkyed (I made up that spelling) the nurse, who comes running into the bus loop with a wheelchair. I believe I was hoping she also had a blanket so I could throw it over myself. Every middle schooler who rode the bus now had seen my little episode. 

The nurse calmed me down and gave me hot tea to drink to help dissolve the candy, and half an hour into the school day she sent me to first period, which was chorus.  I remember walking in and people telling me that they had heard I had died. My story had spread like wild fire. I was the talk of the school that morning.

From then on, I learned to NEVER speak with ANY sort of food in my mouth. For a long time I avoided all hard candy, at all costs. There was no way I would eat it. 

The other day when I thought about this story, it made me laugh so hard. I really hadn't thought about it in probably five years. Middle school is such a weird time in life, and I wouldn't be surprised if most people's embarrassing stories came between the ages of 12-14. I think it's natural.

Anyone else have a horrible memory from middle school that they'll never get over? 
Please tell me I'm not alone!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

branching out...with beer

When moving to Charlotte last summer, I made it my mission to meet new friends and to not turn down social opportunities. I have a really bad habit of talking myself out of events or get togethers because either a) I'm exhausted after a long day or b) I'm shy and nervous.  Option "b" is quite funny to me, because I always considered myself an extrovert.  I loved being around others and never had a hard time meeting new people...but somewhere along the line, probably around the time I left college, I started to find that making friends wasn't so easy anymore and being around new people was really intimidating. I still don't think I'd call myself an introvert, I love time with others and I love big groups, but I am learning that it's not as easy as it once was.

In the past 6+ months of living in Charlotte, I have learned to branch out and make friends through blogging, my job, and funny enough, through beer!  I found a meet-up group when I moved here called "beer babes." It's a meet-up group dedicated to women who love a good craft brew. Is there such a thing as a better group?  I've been going to events since the first week that I moved here, and this past Sunday I attended a fun get together with some of the women.


As expected, it was a wonderful time! This was definitely the biggest of the meet-ups I've attended! There were a lot of women, all who loved beer, and it was a great time! One woman who even brews her own beer brought some of a homebrew she had that was a sweet potato beer. It was fantastic!

So there you go. I'm slowly doing a good job at my mission to make new friends in my new city. I still have a long way to go, but it's happening!

(If you're in Charlotte and interested in a Beer Babes meet-up, here's the facebook page!)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Menu Monday + My Fitness Pal

This first week of January has kicked my butt. I have been going nonstop since our New Year's Eve getting away, and I'm hoping we start to get back into the routine here.  Despite all the craziness, we have been cooking!  Since it's the new year and I know I've gotten quite a few new readers in the last month or so, here's a link to my menu planning post.  It answers all questions on how we meal plan in our home.

ANYWHO! Moving on to the food!

My Meals:

Maple Soy Glazed Flank Steak with Cucumber Salad


This steak was a fantastic Cooking Light recipe! I am working hard to count my calories using the app My Fitness Pal, and I love that so many Cooking Light recipes are already in the system. It makes counting the calories so much simpler when a meal is already calculated for you. For my cucumber salad, I thinly slice red onions and peeled cucumber, then let it marinate in olive oil and red wine vinegar for about an hour before serving. 


Slow Cooker Char Siu Pork Roast served over Brown Rice and Snap Peas



Another cooking light meal! This one was just...okay. It was a little too "mushy" for me and while the pork was good, I didn't love it. Don't think I'll be making this again.

And this one...we'll call it "my" meals since it was my idea to order it!

Pizza!

Sometimes a pizza night is all you need after a long day! Also, doesn't my hair scream "long day with 10 years olds" in this photo?

J's Meals:


Delicious! J forgot to add the cilantro on top, but I think that would have made it even yummier!




This was great, at home Mexican! This one is not Cooking Light but it comes from the great blog Skinny Taste. A lot of her recipes are also already listed on My Fitness Pal.  Only change we'd make if we do it again...use chicken breasts instead of thighs. I didn't mind the thighs, but I definitely prefer breasts.



I think this is the third appearance of the "green spaghetti" on here, and lie the past 2 times, it was great. Not so calorie friendly (514 calories for a third of the dish...in case you're curious!), but still tasty!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I am weak but thou art strong

When we saw The Avett Brothers on New Year's Eve, my favorite part of the show was when they sang the hymn, "Just a Closer Walk With Thee." It was such a beautiful, raw version of this song, and I'm kind of wishing they'd put out an album of old hymns.

This video isn't from our show, but still give it a listen. It's pretty awesome.





Wednesday, January 4, 2012

high school flashback

Oh hey blog...so far in this year I have wanted to blog, a few times actually, but it's sort of one of those weeks where I just have nothing to blog about.

So instead of blogging about my lack of blog material, how about a walk down memory lane circa 2001-2002, my senior year of high school. It's always fun to take a look back!

Have I mentioned I love showtunes and musicals?
Here I am as Hedy LaRue, the promiscuous secretary in
  How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying


Play practice after school or show choir rehearsal was pretty much my life every afternoon.
Also, this is my very old friend Sarah in this picture, and now we work together at my new school.
How fun is that?



My 17th birthday with my siblings...I cannot believe my baby brother is the one turning 17 in two months.



And back to showchoir. I've written about my love for showchoir on here before, but that was something like 2 years ago. If you've ever watched Glee, you're watching a pretty good picture of what I did on a daily basis; you know, without the slushies and stuff.  But our little group was just as serious as Mr. Shue's group on Glee. And yes, that arrow is pointing to me!



I could go on and on. But this ends tonight's reminiscing (and that's the best of what I already have scanned)!  Call me crazy, but I really loved high school. I know not everyone can say that, but I suppose the performer in me just loved the stage.



Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcome January (and 2012!)

Happy 2012!

We had so much fun ringing in the new year last night at The Avett Brothers concert. This was definitely a NYE that we will remember!  We had fun sending 2011 out in style!

Here we are before dinner and the concert...

A few cell phone shots from the show.
This 3 hours show was pretty darn awesome.
They are so so talented.  


About a million balloons fell at midnight...


And then we came home today to eat our black eyed peas! I don't like collards, but I sure love black eyed peas. With the right recipe, they're pretty delicious.


I browned some sausage, threw in a can of rinsed black eyed peas and a can of rotel, and then ate it with fritos. I love this dish! My mom makes it more like a dip and buys the frito scoops, but I'm ok eating it with a fork.  Such a healthy way to welcome 2012!



Now it's back to reality. We have to go back to school tomorrow, which makes me sad because this break has been wonderful, but not long enough! And just because I'm curious...if you're a teacher or have kids in school, is your school system going back on January 2? Or are they waiting to go back on the 3rd?