Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Recap Link Up

A little 2013 recap! :)  Cheers to 2014!


What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

I traveled to South East Asia.  Lived alone.

Did you keep your new years’ resolutions?
Will you make more for next year?

I didn’t write down any resolutions, so I can’t remember.  I will make some for this year...put on lotion everyday and journal/write more.  Intentionally be kinder.  Probably something related to clean eating.  But honestly, the only cleaner my eating can get is to cut out sugar, and I'm not ready to go there.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

Some sweet friends did, and still praying for other close friends to.

Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully no.

What countries did you visit?

Bali, Korea (airport).

What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

A hotter bod.  Even better budgeting skills.  BEACHTIME. 

What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory?

May 25.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Oi.  This is getting depressing.  I can’t remember anything, so…I don’t know…

What was your biggest failure?

Well, because I can’t remember anything this is now uplifting because I can’t remember any particular face plants.  Please don't feel you have to take it upon yourself to remind me of any.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

Wisdom teeth in January, shingles in May/June, runners knee in June, allergies ALL YEAR.  What the heck is up with the allergies?  I grew out of all my childhood ones decades ago and now BAM.  They are back.  I’m blaming shingles.

What was the best thing you bought?
I think I home-runned buying gifts for friends this year.

Whose behavior merited celebration?

I think Erika is amazing.  My pastors at church continually astound me.  My Athens moms, they are incredible.

Where did most of your money go?


What did you get really, really, really excited about?

International travel. 

What song will always remind you of 2013?

The entire "Home" CD by Kim Walker and Skylar Smith.  Go download it now.  Your welcome.

Compared to this time last year, are you:

Happier or sadder?
Thinner or fatter?
  Thinner, I think.
Richer or poorer?
  Financially better off, but I wouldn’t use the R word.
What do you wish you’d done more of?
 Blogged and journaled more—I can’t remember ANYTHING.
What do you wish you’d done less of?
  Gotten off of Facebook. 
How did you spend Christmas?
  With my love!
Did you fall in love in 2013?  
See above.
How many one-night stands?
  Zero and never.  
Who were your best friends?
  I have amazing friends for whom I’m very thankful.

What thing did you do that was meaningful to others?
This is why I need to blog.  I can’t remember anything.  I hope I was nice to others this year.  Gulp.

What were your favorite TV programs?

No cable, no favorite programs.  Well, I did watch a lot of Duck Dynasty.  And when I house sit I usually catch up on Say Yes to the Dress.  

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Haha, thankfully no.

What was the best book you read in 2013?

I think I read some books this year…

What was your greatest musical discovery?

Avett Brothers.

What did you want and get?

A Le Creuset French oven.  She’s beautiful.  A food processor, and some lovely-lovely handbags.

What did you want but did NOT get?

Umm, financial self control says I didn’t get this dress.

What were your favorite films this year?
I wouldn't call it a favorite, but I actually did see movies this year.  I saw Crazy Stupid Love and aside from the questionable moral content, enjoyed it.  Gravity was intense.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

28, and the recap is on the blog.  It was wonderful.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Write things down so I could remember what happened.

What kept you sane?
The Lord, running, my support system, and coffee.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Haha.  I don’t know.

What political issue stirred you the most?

Who do you miss?
My friends who moved across the world.

Who are the best new persons you met this year?
If you know me in real life, this is obvious.  I also got some also new coworkers this year whom I particularly enjoy.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
It is not my responsibility to fix anyone else.

Quote that sums up your year:
The insecure often fight for identity and mistake rights for responsibilities. The more secure we become, the easier it is to live out of our divine nature, the ultimate place of rest.  Bill Johnson

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Better late than never: Christmas Home Tour

Yesterday I put away all of the Christmas decorations and realized I never posted a "home tour."  Though, let's be honest, I haven't done a lot of posting recently.  Oops.  Carrying on!

The tree, "Harold."
Here's the tree, whom was named "Harold."  Harold (Hark!) is a two-foot or so rosemary tree who smelled delightful and didn't give me an allergic reaction.  He's wearing an LED battery powered strand of Martha Stewart Lights, and (count them) 2 ornaments--one I made a few years ago and a sugarplum fairy from childhood.  I LOVE rosemary trees--they smell amazing, don't cause me to get sick, and are incredibly easy to take care of.  And, post Christmas he has a future in some savory dishes.  Win and win.

My favorite--the "hearth"

My favorite part!  I loved the red and white lights in the mantle, and the red and gold theme.  #usingwhatIhad  While I put away everything already, the lights are staying in the fireplace, because well, they're happy.
 Sweet detail--I'm blessed to have received some really cool gifts from German Christmas markets from internationally traveling friends, and I love pulling out these unique items each year.

Christmas Card Station
 All Christmas cards got placed on the hutch.

Dining Room
 Featuring cute candles and my book tree I made.
 More red!

Not pictured:
Haha, it was as I was writing this post I realized what I forgot to take pictures of, which is unfortunate!  
  • The open window that frames the kitchen (so I can look out from the sink into the dining room) was lined with lighted greenery garland and two striped stocking at the corners.
  • The entertainment shelves were appropriately made festive with knicks and knacks (bowl of ornaments, ornaments on frames, etc.)
  • The staircase had lighted garland running up the banister
I'm not in the market for too many more Christmas decorations.  I would like to acquire a nativity scene (though I'm planning to just request and fund one from one of my friends who travel internationally, or go the willow tree route), and I want to find something for the mantle, but that about rounds it out.  I have more windows to put lights around but meh, if it happens great if not, oh well!

Today I am looking forward to completing a massive Goodwill trip, and getting home 100% back to put together.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year friends!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

What's been cooking...

I've been cooking a lot these days, and I've had some pretty good success as of late.

A few secret weapons…
Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven
I picked this up at yard sale for $10 (yeah), and it is a cooking GAME CHANGER.  If you have Kohl's cash/coupons/see it on sale, get one (or dream big and plan well for Le Creuset).  Everything I make in this thing comes out ridiculously good.

Kitchen aid stand mixer
Aside from the obvious baking I use it for, it shreds chicken like no other.  Put chicken in warm with the paddle attachment and yay!  Perfectly shredded chicken.

Better than Boullion
Confession--I use this in almost every soup that I make when getting the base going.  It is SO good, and not a nutritional train wreck.  I keep a chicken and a beef jar in my fridge at all times.  But don't buy it from Amazon.  It's about $4-$5 at Publix/Kroger.

Okay, the successes:
*And these are all iPhone pics, sorry about the quality.

Look at all the color on that plate!
I made a full Thanksgiving meal,and I'm proud of how it turned out.  I'm even more proud that I only used (TOTAL) a stick or so of butter.  I made a roasted turkey breast, sautĂ©ed green means and mushrooms, bread stuffing, sweet potato soufflĂ©, and homemade cranberries.  My favorites were the sweet potatoes and the cranberries, as evident by this leftover:

Cranberry stuffed french toast
I need more of this right now.
The cranberries, oh the cranberries.  They were SO SO good, and SO easy (fresh cranberries, OJ, apple juice, a little honey).   The day of after T-giving I did binner (breakfast for dinner) and made french toast with a cream cheese filling and of course the berries.


Cast ironmaking an appearance!  My roux wasn't perfect (I didn't want to use a lot of butter so it suffered), but man this stuff was good.  

Shrimp Boats

More summery than wintery, but oh well.  I diced up some shrimp, avocado and red onion, and made a homemade dressing (isn't shaking dressings in a mason jar so fun?  Only I get a kick out of that?  Okay.)

Chicken Pot Pie (CPP)

CPP has always intimidated me, but no more.  This was SO easy.  I boiled and shredded a chicken breast with salt, pepper, and oregano, then mixed the chicken with corn, peas, lima beans, and a can of reduced sodium/no fat cream of chicken soup, made up my own bisquick (if I was using the soup I had to do what I could to salvage the rest), bake at 400 and BAM.  Happy parties all around.


Lunch Menu:  Jingle juice, spinach artichoke dip (easiest to make, tastiest to eat), shrimps, and sugar cookies.

Dinner Menu:  Honey baked ham, crescent rolls, homemade mac-n-cheese, homemade mashed potatoes, green beans, and peas.  Mint brownies for dessert.

I'm not the biggest mashed potato fan, but I am the biggest mac-n-cheese fan (see portion on my plate in comparison to portion of mashed potatoes).  Since I made, you know, family sized portions for two people (go figure!), I am going to freeze and use the excess potatoes in the future on a turkey shepherds pie, and the mac-n-cheese I'm going to mix with tuna and peas into a casserole.  The mint brownies will be gifted at work.

...and these menus are why I ran 8 miles on Christmas Day.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Excuse me, but where did I place my common sense?

Up until last weekend I would have considered myself to have a pretty good measure of common sense.  Considering though that I barely escaped last weekend with all my brain cells intact and a running car, that matter is now up for consideration.  

Exhibit A--Goof Off is Not for Goofs
I was throwing a Christmas party on Saturday night, hence I had a lot of external motivation to complete some home projects I had waiting around for me to wrap up.  One project was finishing transforming these huge frames I got from yard sales this summer.

Backstory--this summer I picked up 3 huge, UGLY frames with UGLY art on the inside for about $5 total.  A few weeks ago I spray painted the frames a glossy chocolate brown, and while doing such got some paint on the glass.

Razor blades were not getting the job done, so I had a can of Goof Off that I went into the guest room with, turned on the fan, and started working.

At the first blast of the product I noticed it had a really strong odor, but I glanced at the fine print on the back of the can, didn't see anything about fumes, and kept working.  A little while later J comes in, and the second the front door opens goes "woah!!!!!"  Apparently the fumes were REALLY bad.  He comes in to make sure I'm not dead, and takes the can from me when I say there were no fume notes on the can.

And I was right.  There were no fume notes on the can.  There was only ALL CAPS warnings on the front and exhaustive directions on setting up a cross breeze if you have to work inside (but if possible work OUTSIDE).  

Exhibit B--Not Riding on Air
Saturday morning, after detoxing from the Goof Off incident, I hop up to go exercise.  While I am driving to the gym I notice that my car is driving funny.  It drives funny all morning and I'm pretty sad about this.  J comes over and we're talking about our plans for the day and he goes, "well we have to drive together."  I respond with no, we don't," he goes "yes we do," and I again go "no we do not," and he goes "babe.  you have a flat tire."

Thankfully since these two incidents I have my A-game back (notwithstanding getting my rights and lefts confused and general trip-i-ness over painted lines).

Saturday, December 7, 2013

On turning 28.

28.  What a fun number.  I mean, don't get me wrong, 27 is awesome, divisible by 3 and 9 and all.  But 28?  That just sounds pretty.  And it's a number I turned recently.

I thought about posting a post like "28 thoughts on turning 28", but I really don't think I have 28 thoughts in my head most days.  Wait, that's a lie.  I do have 28 thoughts in my head.  There are usually just 28 thoughts I'm not interested in sharing, and 28 thoughts I can promise you don't want to read about.

Anyways, I disgres.  I do want to share about the actual day of turning 28.  It was fabulous.

It started with a run.  A very cold, 9+ mile run:
This run made me set the rule that if it's below 32, I won't run outside.
During this run, at around mile 4 I said to my running companion, "I just want to lie down and sleep" to which I was told was the first sign of hypothermia.  We ran faster after that incident.

Anyways, after I de-thawed, I wore my new birthday dress,
I tried on this dress at Lenox, thought about it for about a week, and ordered it.  And it's magical.  Thanks, Banana Republic.

Worked, and had a delicious and thoughtful broccoli-themed celebration,

before a fun dinner out.

In proper fashion, I "bracketed" this birthday out by celebrating for days afterwards with people incredibly important to me.
It's my birthday, and I can eat only the frosting if I want to.

Yay for 28!