Tuesday, September 17, 2013

17--Alabama Shakes and Dawes at Sloss Furnace

I've never been to a show at Sloss Furnace before, but what a great place to see a couple of really awesome bands.  We ordered tickets a few months in advance and were really excited about seeing this show with our friends.  And neither band disappointed.  The only thing disappointing was that Dawes didn't play longer!  I think they only played about 6 songs, and they have so many great ones.  So, I was sad about that, but once the Shakes came on stage, I was over it.  Brittany Howard can straight up sing!  Her voice is what I wish mine sounded like.  It's raw and soulful, and I just love her.  Now, she can be a little odd to watch close up because she makes some seriously weird facial expressions, but you sorta get over it because her talent is insane.  We weren't able to stay for the whole show because my parents were watching the kids, and we had church the next day.  But it was awesome nonetheless.  I sorta wished that she had broken out into some covers of Led Zeppelin or Janis Joplin or something like that.  She could totally rock that.  Of course, she rocked their original stuff anyway, so...  If you ever get the chance to see either of these bands, then do yourself a favor and go to their shows.  Both are really great musical/vocal talents.

Here's a video of Alabama Shakes singing "Hold On."  Please excuse the awful camera work.

Alabama Shakes--Hold On

Friday, September 6, 2013

15 and 16: Girls' weekend in Tuscaloosa and a New Restaurant

Back in January, a few of my sorority sisters and I decided to plan a reunion trip for the Spring.  Destination--Tuscaloosa.  My friend, Melissa Vergona Conner (who will, from this point forward, be referred to as "V"), found a great house in Tuscaloosa to rent, so we all decided to make it happen.  A few weeks later, they announced that A-Day was going to be the same weekend.  Naturally, we were super excited.  Not only would we be going back to the place where our friendships all started, but it would be during a really fun weekend on campus.  And if you've ever gone to a college with a BIG football program, then you know that Springtime weekends can be pretty dead compared to the games, band parties and crowds that accompany weekends in the Fall.  But we were all grown up now and weren't necessarily looking for a band party to attend.  (Well, I say "we."  "THEY" weren't necessarily looking for a band party to attend.  "I" on the other hand...)  So, after a few months of planning and anticipating, we were off.

That Friday happened to be the morning of that huge manhunt for the Boston marathon bombers, so I spent that morning on the couch, watching the Today Show coverage and dosing in and out of sleep while waiting to hear from V that she was on the road from New Orleans.  It was a GLORIOUS morning.  Well, the news was sad to watch, but a chance to relax all morning in a semi-conscious state was awesome.  Once I got word that she was in Meridian, I hit the road.

We met Candice and Kim (who from this point forward will be called "Watty") at Phil's on the strip for lunch.  It was the perfect way to start our weekend.  Afterwards, we went over to our very cute house and met the rest of our group, and the rest is...well...a sworn secret among girlfriends.  Let's just say there was alot of reminiscing, alot of laughing and alot of good, old-fashioned girl time.  But the highlights included visiting our sorority house, meeting some football alums, eating lots of great food and just enjoying our college town as grown ups.  I highly recommend a weekend with friends in the place where you met and got to know each other.  It puts so many things in perspective and is just a great way to refuel the mommy engine so to speak.  Many times, I find that I pour so much of myself into work and home and kids, and this was an awesome chance to just soothe my soul with my best friends.  It was amazing!

Our cute house that turned out to be massive on the inside!

Watty getting an autograph from "the bookends" John Copeland and Eric Curry.

Fun at A-Day.

Pure awesomeness.

As a side note: we ate dinner at Chuck's Fish.  I HIGHLY recommend it!  I had sushi, and it was wonderful.  Definitely give it a shot if you are ever in Birmingham or Tuscaloosa.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

7-14 New recipes

Well, it's been quite a while since I've written here.  I know everyone is waiting on pins and needles to know what I've been up to.  It has been a crazy awesome summer!  I've had lots of exciting things going on with work and life.  And some of those adventures will be their own posts, but just so you know...I haven't completely abandoned my list of 52 new things.  I've simply decided that I just can't make individual posts for every new recipe I make.  That's not very interesting, and I'm just not funny enough to MAKE it interesting.  ;)  So, here are a few of the ones I've tried lately.  All from Pinterest.  Yes, it actually DOES serve a purpose in life!  Many are in keeping with my low/no sugar diet that I'm working to keep up with.  I'm not sure how you all will feel about them, but I thought they were really great!

7) Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli.  This is the ultimate staple for me.  Sometimes I make just the vegetables as a side dish, and sometimes I add the shrimp for a total meal.  Either way...It's GREAT.  Recipe here.
8)  Roasted Okra.  This makes an EXCELLENT side dish for anything you are cooking.  Recipe here.

9)  Baked Chicken Fajitas.  I made these for dinner with shrimp instead.  (Shrimp was on sale.  Chicken was not.  You see what I did there.)  But I did use only 1 tsp of cumin.  I highly recommend that choice.  Recipe here.

10)  Smothered Chicken.  This was really good, but it was a little rich.  I'm not used to cooking with alot of cream cheese for dinner stuff (even though this diet that I'm on highly recommends it.  Yes, I know...) Recipe here.

11)  Breakfast Ham Cup.  These are a delightful, little treat for breakfast if you are doing a no sugar diet or even if you aren't.  Recipe here.

13) Herbed Chicken Cutlets with Panko and Parmesan.  OK--So, the Panko bread crumbs make this not officially on my diet, but hey...I'm not always officially on my diet.  But I did like this one.  So many times they put chicken cutlets on sale, and I just never know what to do with the darn things.  This quick and easy recipe is a good solution.  And if you are into eating potatoes and such...(aaaaah potatoes), then add some of those glorious mashed ones and a green veggie, and this is a good weeknight favorite.  Recipe here.

14) Skinny Broccoli and Cheese Casseroles.  Again...the bread crumbs make this not officially "low sugar", but they make a good side dish.  And let's face it...we cooking moms are always looking for those.  Recipe here.

I hope you all will try out at least SOME of these.  It's never easy adopting a new way of eating, and let's face it...I'm not as dedicated as I should be.  But what is life if not full of a few delicious indulgences?

Happy cooking!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

6: Bye bye, sugar (well...sorta...)

As most of you know by now, I've been on a new eating plan for the past few weeks.  I've basically eliminated sugar and white flour from my diet, and I separate my proteins/fats from my carbs (which are now all whole wheat).  My friend Heather started eating this way a year ago, and she lost 40 pounds and has kept it off all this time.  So, she was my inspiration.  Since I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia, my nutritionist said I needed to lose 10 pounds which I thought was a little insane, but I guess she knows best.  So, I've started this diet.  In the first two weeks I dropped 6 pounds.  I was VERY surprised...like SHOCKED actually.  I've lost one more and have three more to go.  Now, this is not to say that I never eat sugar.  I totally cheat on the weekends.  And I went out of town for work a few weeks ago and did not stick to it then either.  But for the most part, I eat this way during the week and enjoy some treats on the weekends.  I'm older now, and I just have to learn to balance my diet more than when I was younger and had a killer metabolism.  And surprisingly...I don't miss the bread and stuff as much as I thought I would.  Don't get me wrong, I ate a dinner roll when was out of town and it was GOOD.  But during the week, I don't find myself missing that stuff.  And my energy level is AMAZINGLY different and improved.  I'm telling you...carbs weigh you down (literally and figuratively.)  I don't get that afternoon sleepy/lull feeling anymore.  And I just generally feel good about myself.  I have never dieted before or ever tried to lose weight.  I've always been in the mid 120s, so I thought that was pretty good.  But now that I'm below 120, and I feel super excited...like "it makes me wanna go and get my driver's license renewed because my weight is wrong on there now" kinda way.  Not to mention, I haven't had any dizzy/near-fainting spells since I've started eating this way, so I feel like my blood sugar is staying level now too.  And that really is the most important thing!  So, yea me!  And thank you, Heather!  You are helping me change my life for the better.  :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

5: Organizing User Manuals

Last weekend, I cleaned the house (big surprise).  But this was a serious cleaning.   It was a having-company-over kind of cleaning.  So, I was on a tear through the house to get some things organized and put away.  But it seemed like every time I opened a drawer, I found a new user manual for something in our house.  TVs, DVD players, appliances, iWhatevers, etc.  My head nearly exploded.  WHY were these things in 10 different drawers/cabinets all over the house and not in one location?  Enter Organization Karen.

I remembered seeing how someone organized their home manuals, warranties, etc somewhere...probably on Pinterest.  So, I copied that person's good idea.  I got a binder, dividers and some clear sleeves.  I made labels for Electronics, Cable, Appliances, Kids' Toys and Home.  Then I put each manual in its own sleeve.  Easy. As. Pie.  And now I feel a little better about life in general.  It's the small things, right?



Next up: labeling the paint cans in the garage according to room.  :)  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

4: Love Your Legs Workout

Last year, I worked with a personal trainer for a couple of months.  He told me that you can actually work out your legs alot more than you think you can because they are the biggest muscles in the body, and they can withstand more work.  I found this out the hard way when he made me do 120 lunges while holding a 5-pound weight in front of me the whole time.  Then, he said, "Ok...now, let's move over to the machines."  Yeah...I could hardly walk for about three days.  He was right though.  I would not normally push myself to that limit (and I definitely haven't since.)  But I got an email a while back with this "Love Your Legs" workout, so I decided to try it tonight.  YOWZA!!!!  You can find it here: workout.

It says to do this every other day, and I'm definitely going to need a day of rest!  I could only make it through the workout twice before I gave out.  Of course, now that I'm sitting here and typing, I'm thinking I could probably make it through one more time, but why set the bar too high right off the bat? ;)  But I might be going to the beach sooner rather than later, so it's time to get moving!

What leg workouts do you like?

Monday, January 21, 2013

3: Movie in the park

We took the kids to Disney World last week.  That experience in and of itself is worth about 37 posts, but I won't bore you with all the details.  :)  I'll just talk about one of my favorite memories: watching "Cinderella" in the park at the resort.  We've never watched a movie outside, and it was a unique and wonderful experience.

When we got to the resort, they gave us a schedule of lots of activities they do there like a daily Mardi GRAS parade at the pool for the kids (Anna participated in it one day.  It was too cute.), campfires at night, pool games, etc.  The thing that I was most excited about was the nightly movie.  I looked at the list, and it worked out perfectly that the night they were showing "Cinderella" also happened to be the day we were going to Hollywood Studios.  I knew we'd be finished at that park early, so I was excited that we would be able to do the movie too.  We grabbed dinner at the resort, bathed the kids, got them in their PJs and headed to the green.  They had a giant, inflatable screen set up and warmed up pool towels for us to lay on and snuggle under.  Jeremy went to the resort restaurant and got us some popcorn, so we were all set.  There were lots of families out too, so it was fun!

Of course, Alex didn't last longer than about 30 minutes, so Jeremy took him back to the room while Anna and I stayed.  Now, Anna doesn't usually sit still during movies, but she was as still as a stone during this one.  And it was wonderful.  We snuggled and ate popcorn and just enjoyed being outside at night.  I think we are definitely going to have to do that again!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

2: Food, Fun and 15

On Monday, I hosted my first National Championship party.  Last year, we were in New Orleans (SUCH FUN). In 2010, our friends came over, but I didn't do a traditional "tailgate"-type party.  So, I'm counting this as new.  I did try some new recipes, and they turned out great!

Our friends, Heather and Brian Warwick and Matt Vogelsang, came over to watch the game with us.  I love entertaining, and I always like to make my guests feel special when they come to our house.  I definitely learned that from my mother.  I mean, if you are playing hostess, then try make it a memorable experience for your guests, right?  I'm sure Jeremy probably thinks I go overboard with the little details, but I enjoy it!  And he DID go overboard with the awesome decor in our house.  Every Daniel Moore, Sports Illustrated with Bama on the cover, sign, flag, shaker, hat, visor, houndstooth pillow or coaster with a Bama logo on it was out somewhere.  It definitely looked like the Sup Store threw up in our house.  We had the mojo going!  While he took care of the decor, I worked on the food.  Our menu:

"Roll Tide" Sliders (I skipped the extra Miracle Whip)--Recipe here.
"15" Fruit Salad
"Big Al" Artichoke Dip  and wheat thins (new recipe.  I highly recommend it)-- Recipe here.
"Make his @$& quit" Meatballs--Recipe here.
"Do your job" Trifle (new recipe.  For this occasion, I only used strawberries.)--Recipe here.

Of course, I had to make signs for each dish.  AGAIN--I like the little details.  Here are some pics:

If you are hosting a party, then I highly recommend these recipes because they are great for prepping the night before.  Since the game was on a Monday night, we had dance class, so it was going to be a get-home-late night for us.  I needed things that I could prep on Sunday and pop in the oven on Monday night.  It worked out well.  And of course, it didn't hurt that the Tide's performance made it all worth it!  Roll Tide!

I wonder what I'll do next year...(see what I did there?)  ;)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

1: Long Vacation

Today marks the end of the longest vacation I've had since I was in college.  Outside of maternity leave (and let's face it--that's no walk in the park), I haven't been off from work for two solid weeks in 14 years.  More important, it was the longest time our little family has ever spent together.  And it was glorious. Was it all roses and happiness?  No.  The kids argued, and we got frustrated with them, but overall, it was just nice being able to spend so much time with them and with Jeremy.  We haven't been on a vacation together as a family in a year and a half, and even then that was only for about 5 days.  We opted not to do a vacation this past summer so we could afford to go to Disney World.  And it wasn't until this nice break that I realized how much I've missed my family.  It's hard being a working mom.  It's hard feeling like the time you spend with your kids is reduced to a couple of hours a night.  So, I decided that I was going to enjoy this time, and that's just what I did.  Granted, those two weeks were in 2012, but today was the end.  So I'm letting it count for my "new things" in 2013.  You all will forgive me, right?

I woke up this morning sort of dreading that this time was ending.  I tend to drift toward the pessimistic side of the spectrum, so I had to mentally slap myself in the face and choose to be thankful instead.  Thankful that I got some much needed rest.  Thankful that I got to enjoy seeing my kids and husband all day every day.  Thankful that I got to stay up late with Jeremy and relax rather than running the usual rat race of making lunches, packing backpacks, ironing clothes and getting ready for the next day.    Thankful that we got to spend our mornings in our PJs rather than waking up and rushing out the door everyday.  I even took a break from my usual fury of cleaning.  I figured I had two weeks, so there was no reason to spend all my time working in the house.  But we got so much accomplished.  We cleaned out several closets, the kids' rooms, our room, but it never felt rushed.  And that was nice.

It helped that we had exciting things to look forward to like Christmas, family gatherings and New Year's.  My in-laws kept the kids one night, and Jeremy I got to go to the movies and dinner.  And my parents are keeping Anna tonight (since she's out of school until Monday), so we got to spend some great time with just Alex tonight which is a wonderful and rare treat.  He's such a great kid, and he never gets our total attention.  So, I was glad to be able to let him experience that fun.

I was thinking today about the part of the Christmas story in Luke where it says "But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Luke 2:19), and I couldn't help but smile.  As a mom, I totally appreciate that feeling.  There are times in life that you just want to take a mental snapshot of something precious and keep that memory forever and dwell on it when you have a quiet moment in your life.  I will definitely treasure these two weeks and ponder them in my heart for many, MANY years.

Aaaaand now, it's time to shut down the computer and make lunches for work tomorrow.  And make dinner for tomorrow night.  Spaghetti--it's easy and all.  Gotta dip a toe back in the water, you know?

Happy New Year!!