Tremendous Friday Ten - Blessings

I know it's been a long time.  I'm sorry....I've been busy.  Travelling to and from Wisconsin, cleaning and cooking for Thanksgiving dinner, hosting Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas and birthday shopping, and two physical therapy sessions a week makes for a very busy me!

I made two new things for Thanksgiving this year....pumpkin pie with gingersnap crust and honey maple roasted carrots.  Let me tell you...those two things were AMAZING!  I'd make a few changes for next year, though.  The gingersnap crust called for additional ground ginger...to me, the crust was a little strong in flavor, so I'd probably leave out the additional ginger.  And the carrots...I think I'll add a little more coriander...I couldn't really taste it.

As we're heading into the Christmas season (seriously, it's in three weeks, folks!!), it's got me thinking about "feeling blessed."  That saying means something to everyone.  To me, it's nothing religious...religion doesn't have a thing to do with the things I have that I'm thankful for, in my opinion.  Sometimes a blessing can be acquiring the essentials to life.....a shelter, warm food, clean water to drink, and good health.  Sometimes it can be rooted in such things as family (pets included) and friends and the ability to spend time with those people. And, of course, blessings can be objects, such as a new car, clothes, or jewelry.

What are you blessed with?  Take some time this Christmas season to think about the things you have in your life that, when broken down to the very core of it, are truly blessings.  Also try to think of others who have so much less than you do...consider donating some items, money, or your time to help those less fortunate.


just a reminder.:


Gratitude. On purpose.:

Every minute of it.:

Sunday Photo: 10 Things Successful Women Do Before Breakfast- Part 1 | Estilo Tendances:

Very true:


I hate the rain, but I love this:

Of hearth and home:

Train yourself to find the blessing in everything.:

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. ~William A Ward:

I'm blessed with a beautiful daughter
A healthy, loving husband who provides everything he can for us
Three pets that let me hug and snuggle them when I'm feeling down
A wonderful family to cook for and laugh with,
A best friend who's the best best friend anybody could ever have
Flowers in my yard to bring beauty to the world
The most amazing coworkers I couldn't do my job without
And a brand new career opportunity to grow in! 


Fab Friday Five - MEXICAN

Hey y'all, I'm back!

It was a nice trip...Will and I got along the whole time...I don't think I cried for any reason other than the funeral itself.  The weather was frigid, to say the least, but we did get to see some snow flurries!  I came home with cheese, sausage, and more cheese.  I saw some family that I haven't seen in nearly 10 years.  Aria can totally spend 16 hours riding in a car and be nearly perfectly behaved....well, as long you put a screen in front of her face, that is!  She used up half of our data plan on the way up watching Netflix, but she was quiet, so it was worth it.

While up there, my aunt and cousins were talking about Thanksgiving.  They don't do typical Thanksgiving...they do it a day or so afterwards, so everybody can manage to get to their in-laws on the holiday, and then gather together in the next few days.  Not only do they do it a different day, but they don't have typical Thanksgiving food, either...they're having Mexican night!

Now, you know me...our family LOVES Mexican food.  We love having taco night for any occasion, we have chimichangas for Halloween, and we have Mexican Monday every Monday night.  Everybody can find something to eat at Mexican!  Even Aria loves it....the guacamole, the sour cream....and she almost always get's the same thing:  grilled shrimp and a cheese quesadilla.

Anyway, that got me thinking about the tasty Mexican things I have on my Pinterest boards :)

Enchilada Casserole >> recipe HERE
Dave asks for this often.  He just loves it.  I love it, also...it's easy, only uses three dishes (two if you use a disposable foil pan), and is easily adaptable to meet your tastes.  I alter the recipe, of course.  I use ground turkey instead of beef, 2 cans of corn, 1 block of cream cheese, 1 cup of sour cream, no green chilies, and I put it under the broiler when it's finished to get nice and brown and bubbly.  It's amazing and easy and cooks in less than 30 minutes from start to finish.  Leftovers are great also!

Tex-Mex Margarita Chicken Salad | www.diethood.com | #recipe #chicken #salad
Tex Mex Margarita Chicken Salad >> recipe HERE
Some people don't like salad...but I LOVE salad!  I'm not always too crazy about it as a side dish or an appetizer, but I'm totally on board with a wonderful salad for my meal!  Dave likes this one, too...which I, of course, alter to fit my needs.  I use BBQ sauce on my chicken, I 86 the avocado and beans.  I mix up a whole can of corn, store-bought pico from the produce aisle, and lime juice in a skillet until it's nice and warm and maybe even getting a few char-marks on the corn.  I use a LOT of cucumber and a LOT of cilantro.  And cheese, of course...and ranch.  So I guess, in all actuality, it's not really the salad pictured here at all.  Oh well.  I blame Kroger for being out of Margarita mix the day I went shopping for ingredients.

Beef Enchilada Dip - This meaty, cheesy enchilada dip comes together in just 15 minutes, and is the perfect crowd pleasing appetizer!
Beef Enchilada Dip >> recipe HERE
I'm not going to lie, I can't remember if I've made this dip yet or not.  But it's basically just cheese, ground beef, corn, and enchilada sauce baked to a gooey wonderfulness.  Get some good dipping tortilla chips and have at it!  It looks so warm and inviting :)

Mexican stuffed shells:
Mexican Stuffed Shells >> recipe HERE
I've got a love for stuffed shells.  To be honest, I used to NEVER like them when mom made them.  I didn't like the ricotta cheese mixture inside of them...I always said "I don't like crumbly cheese...it looks like it came from a goat!" and I refused to eat it.  No stuffed shells, no ravioli, no lasagna....nothing.  But then, I grew up.  I learned to taste things, even if I was pretty sure I wouldn't like them.  Turns out, I LOVE ricotta cheese!  And, oddly enough, I also really appreciate a good melted goat cheese (it's tangy and delicious).  Mom brought these Mexican stuffed shells for lunch one day, and I was sad when they were all gone....they were SOO good!  And I like that you can make them your own...use sour cream, use enchilada sauce, include corn in the meat, add more cheese (so much cheese).  They were simply amazing!

This Creamy Chicken Fajita Pasta is a HUGE winner! Everything cooks in one pan (even the noodles!) and it's done in 15 minutes. So, so good!!
Chicken Fajita Pasta >> recipe HERE
I've made this.  And y'all...it's phenomenal!!  I love fajitas.  I love to make them.  I love the chicken, the peppers, the seasoning, the sour cream you pile on top...I just love them.  But this pasta....it's legit!  It's creamy and flavorful....easy to make...and so scrumptious!  Give this one a try. Seriously.  You'll definitely thank me for it!

I forgot to mention....I've started my physical therapy.  Folks...physical therapy ain't no joke!  That foam roller.....it hurts my leg, but more so, it hurts my upper body.  I've got a lot of weight to hold up on top of a roll of extremely hard styrofoam!  And I'm supposed to use a rolling pin on my leg at home to work it out.  I've got Dave helping me with that.  Ouch.  Today, my calves hurt...my glutes hurt...my quads hurt.  And, of course, my upper body hurts from that stupid foam roller.  Twice a week for two more weeks (at least).  Ugh.


Nothing Better

There's a lot of people on Facebook posting daily things they're thankful for (because it's November and it's the month for giving thanks, of course).  I'm thankful for a lot things and don't often say it.  In fact, I tend to do more complaining than giving thanks.  But that doesn't mean I'm not grateful for what I've got.  The big things, the small things...I'm thankful for everything I have and everything I am.  And sometimes, it's the little things that really make a difference.

There's nothing better than....

The first bite of a still warm, fresh-baked brownie

Sweet puppy snuggles (and kisses)...really, the age of the dog is not important

Hearing "you make the best dinners, mommy"

Brushing your teeth in the morning after you know you've been mouth-snoring all night

Knowing where you are after getting lost

Sticking your spoon in the still-cooking pot of soup to taste it and tastes like bacon and cheese

Finding out you're not the only mom who is at a loss with how to discipline a strong-willed child

Hot chocolate after a cold and rainy day

The sweet relief of Sudafed

Licking the brownie batter off the spatula (after you're done with it, of course!)

Hitting all the green lights on the way to work

Handlettering perfect names on an envelope

Looking through old family photos, even if it's just to find pictures for the board at the funeral, and laughing at the memories

Finally finding the wine that pairs best with your life

Mint chocolate chip ice cream (this one is THE BEST)

Hearing a coworker tell you how much they appreciate you and everything you do

Feeling the relief of knowing a bad dream wasn't real

A cozy blanket in a cold room

Hearing your kid say "I'm sorry for being disrespectful" when all you told her was that she was being naughty

Buying presents for other people and seeing how happy they are when opening said presents

Getting the car seat out of the car all by yourself

A good book and lots of time to read it (like, say, 16 hours in the car on the way to Wisconsin)

Seeing something you cook/bake come out EXACTLY like the picture

Finally being able to breathe after a week of environmental-mold-spore-induced sinus congestion

Finding something to wear (that fits) to a funeral at the first store you try

Biting into the PERFECT s'more

Finding the one magical spot where spooning is actually comfortable for both people

Watching your dog roll over in trust and present her belly (for scratching, no doubt) to your daughter for the very first time (it only took four and a half years!)

Mexican Monday with ALL of your southern extended family

Knowing you'll be with distant family in 48 hours

Leaving for Wisconsin in the morning.
Have a good rest of the week and I'll catch back up with y'all when I return.
Before we know it, it'll be Thanksgiving....and then Christmas....and then it'll be the new year.
Not going to lie I'm ready.
2015 has sort of sucked almost as bad as 2014.



I've been told I'm pretty hard to shop for because I never actually tell anybody what I want.  It's true...I don't outwardly tell anybody "hey, I want this for Christmas!" so people just end up guessing at something that I want.  Sometimes I like it, sometimes I find it entirely useless and I don't know what would prompt anybody to even think that it might be something I would like.

So this year....I'm going to make it easy!  Here are FIVE things I'd like for Christmas (or for my birthday).  Please...pretty please...let Santa know I'd like these things!

great way to organize pots and pans...i hate how my muffin pans and cookie sheets slide around all over each other under my oven every time i open the drawer...:
Custom cabinets?
I want something customized in my cabinet JUST LIKE THIS to hold all my baking pans and trays and cutting boards and cooling racks and maybe pot/pan lids....I want it real bad. I don't know what this might even cost...but it sure would be nice to come home after work the week of Christmas and see at least one of my lower cabinets redone like this :)

brunette hair color with caramel ribbons:
I want hair color like this, but with some dark red under there somewhere
Gift certificate for pedicure and enough money to get my hair cut and colored
I realized it's been over a year since my last hair cut.  It's been over a year since my last hair color.  And it's been way over a year since my last pedicure.  Part of it is because I just can't fathom spending that kind of money on myself...on vanity....on a body and head that I can't stand anyway.  The other thing is the reason.  My hair takes at least an hour...and a pedicure takes at least an hour.  I go home and cook pretty much every day, so I can't take an hour out of my time to get my nails done.  And my hair lady is in South Carolina somewhere that I don't really know, but I know it's not exactly close to home.
**Also, somebody to cook dinner for me so that I don't have to worry about not having the time to indulge in these things...and somebody to watch my kid.

Kohler over-the-counter cutting board >> HERE
New wooden cutting board
I had a wooden cutting board (a really nice one, in my opinion) and just recently had to through it out.  See, I didn't know that wooden cutting boards were like cast iron pans...you've got to take special care of them.  I didn't know that.  My cutting board regularly went through the dishwasher and I didn't know there such a thing as "wooden cutting board oil" that was to be applied after each wash (not a dishwasher-wash, FYI).  So my board naturally lost it's nice sheen, and then it warped, and then it cracked.  I loved that board.  It was the only cutting board I had that had rubber feet that didn't actually slide around on my granite counters.  Everything else slides...drives me bonkers.  But this cutting board here has a lip that hangs over the edge of the counter top.  So when I'm cutting things like chicken, the cutting board won't be sliding all over the place with every cut!  It'll just hang onto the edge of the counter and I won't have to worry about it!
**Also, I totally apparently need some of this >> John Boos Mystery Butcher Block Oil

Buy this textbook >> HERE
Baking textbook
Last year I got << this amazing book >> for Christmas, but it wasn't what I hoped it would be.  Maybe I just read the reviews wrong.  The basis of the book, this VERY large book, is not to teach one how to cook, but teach one how to be a professional chef.  Apparently those two things are not actually the same.  The latter implies that you already know how to cook, so the book teaches you things needed for a restaurant setting:  food safety guidelines, how to calculate nutrition in servings, how to calculate how much ingredients needed for each serving, and recipes designed to feed 10-12 people.  Still an EXCELLENT resource, but not quite what I was looking for.  This book, however, is an actual baking textbook.  Reading the reviews, it really does teach HOW to bake...the science behind it, the importance of measuring ingredients, what each ingredient does and how it interacts with the others, and then, of course, plenty of recipes.  The reviews say it's great for a beginner baker.  It's expensive...I mean, it's a textbook, so it's over $100.  But....please?
**Also, I want this reference book to go with it!  Or on it's own would be fine, too >> The Pastry Chef's Companion

LUSH Gift Card image

Gift card to Lush
I want so many things from Lush, but we don't have a store closer than 2 hours, so I have to order my things.  Let me tell you what, Lush is a real bitch when it comes to charging for shipping.  Maybe I'm just spoiled with free shipping from Amazon Prime, but I absolutely hate paying for shipping.  I'm sorry, but $6 shipping is too much for one bath melt and two bubble bars.  Or, if you really want to just get me something, I'll take the Mangoed bath melt.  Mm hmm!

And one more for good measure:  A 1-month gift of maid service.  That would really help me out.  A nice, professional, deep clean of the house would be much appreciated!

You've got my list....now get to shopping :)



Is anybody else besides me EXTREMELY tired today?  This rainy, foggy Monday makes me want to take my ass back to bed!

Here's a quick look at my upcoming week!

Today I've got my first physical therapy appointment for my IT band.  I'm unsure of what to expect.  The thing is, my leg feels better...so I'm worried they'll tell me that there's no point to it and send me on my way...only to have my IT band flare up real angry again sometime in the near future.  That worries me, because I don't want that pain again.

Sometime this week I'd like to stop by my best friend's house and give her all the things I've gotten for her and the baby!  Plus, she's on bed rest, so I KNOW she could use the company.

Thursday we are taking Aria to Disney on Ice.  She doesn't know yet...so we can't hold it over her head, not like I would, we already paid for the tickets!

This weekend I'm going to make those cheesecake swirl brownies from my last FFF post :)

My grandpa is in the hospital and not doing very well.  Please keep him and my family in your thoughts.

The menu for the week:

Monday:  Burgers + Sweet Kale Salad
burger patties - buns - cheese - worcestershire sauce - kale/brussels sprout/craisin salad mix - poppy seed dressing

Tuesday:  Chicken Bacon Chowder + Crusty Bread
chicken - bacon - corn - shallots - cream - broth - cheese - potatoes - celery - basil - french baguette

Wednesday:  Pork Chops + Mashed Potatoes
pork chops - BBQ sauce - country crock mashed potatoes - cheese

Thursday :  Dinner out + Disney On Ice

Friday:  BBQ Chicken Salad
chicken - BBQ sauce - romaine - cheese - corn - pico - lime juice - cilantro - ranch - cucumber - croutons

Saturday:  Cilantro Lime chicken + Pasta
chicken - cilantro - cream - lime juice - shallots - low-carb pasta

And now....something funny :)
Cat's are such assholes.

fuck-this-thing-cat.gif (350×322)



Everybody by now knows that I love to bake.  I mean...I LOVE to bake!  I like to cook, but baking is my happy place.  BUT, because I'm lazy (and busy), I don't do it very often...once a month if I'm lucky.  My family and coworkers wish it occurred a lot more often.  So do I, my dears...so do I.

Why don't I bake often if I love it so much?
1.  It's so time consuming.  You're looking at at least 45 minutes to an hour if you include prep, mix, and bake time.  And I have a "little chef" who likes to help, but I SO do not want her help while I'm in my happy place.  Little Chef's help adds at least an extra 20-30 minutes of prep time.
2.  So many dishes.  You can't possibly bake without using at least 8 things.  You've got your mixing bowl, your mixer attachment (2 if your using a hand mixer), your baking pan(s), the spatula for scraping the bowl, the 1/2 c. measuring cup, the 1/3 c. measuring cup, the TBS measuring spoon, and the tsp measuring spoon.
3.  It requires a clean kitchen.  My kitchen is never....n.e.v.e.r. clean enough for regular baking.  There's always something on the counter (probably the cake carrier that still needs to be wiped out), there's always stuff in the sink (no more room for the 8 dishes from the previous gripe), and either the bowl I want or the pan I want is probably in said sink because it never fits in the dishwasher after I have all my regular dishes in it....and I'm clearly not going to take the time to hand-wash my dishes.  That's just ludicrous!

Let's go back to the time thing.  I don't get home from work until after 5, I spend the next hour cooking and serving dinner, I spend the next 30 minutes eating dinner, and then the next 10 minutes cleaning up and putting away the left overs.  That puts me at around 7:00 (on a good day), but to be real, I waste a little time somewhere in there and it's usually about 7:45 by the time dinner is over.  Then I have to get Aria to bed (at LEAST 30-45 minutes....over an hour if it's bath night).  Then it's time to load the dishwasher if it's been emptied.  By now, it's after 9 and I'm exhausted and ready to sit on the couch and do nothing.  Plus, my dad has always taught me to NEVER start a project after 9 because it will ALWAYS go bad.

You may be saying 'But hey, what about the weekends?!'  The weekend is my ONLY lazy relaxation time!  So shut it!

Aria talks about how when she grows up, she wants to have a family bakery.  Of all her dreams, I hope she fulfills this one :)

I've got over 530 baked items spread across three separate Pinterest boards (Dolce, Macarons, and Me Love Cookies).  I save a lot of things, print out a lot recipes, and buy a lot cook books only to never really do anything with them.  Time to fix that!  I've decided to make myself a challenge.  I'm going to pick 5 things that I WILL bake before the end of the year!  It'll be tough, no doubt, but if I don't make myself a goal, I'll never get it done!

One day I'll make a baking bucket list and fill it with all the things I'm really dying to make, but too scared to try (like a second attempt at macarons).

Here are the FIVE things I've decided I WILL make before the end of the year.  I've got 63 days...that's more than enough time to get this shit done!

The Making, Baking and Consumption of the best Chocolate Bundt Cake ever.
Chocolate Bundt Cake recipe >> HERE
What is the difference between a pound cake and a bundt cake?  Anybody know?  It's a southern thing to make pound cake in a bundt cake pan...but what makes it a pound cake and not just a bundt cake?  I have no idea....anyway.... A coworker brought in a lemon pound cake on Wednesday that was SOOOOOOOO good, it made me want to make a pound cake.  So naturally, I took to Pinterest.  What came up was a lot of things that said "pound cake" and an equal number of things that said "bundt cake".  Are they interchangeable?!  My favorite food blogger, Joy the Baker, had this beautiful chocolate bundt cake that definitely caught my eye.  I don't know if it's the shininess of the cake itself (you know it's moist if it shines) or the sloppiness of the poured-on frosting...but I just HAVE to make this cake!  It uses coffee, as does every fan-freaking-tastic chocolate cake.  It's not hard, but there's a lot of steps.  
And of course I can't talk about bundt cake without a reference to My Big Fat Greek Wedding: 

Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie | Fork Knife Swoon @forkknifeswoon
Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust recipe >> HERE
Dave asked if I could make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving this year...so I found one, with a bit of a unique twist.  See, my mom doesn't eat pie because she doesn't like traditional pie crust.  So any time I look at pies that will be shared with the family, I try to find some that have a different type of crust.  This recipe here fit the bill perfectly!  It uses gingersnap cookies for the crust and boasts to be creamy and wonderful.  Yum!

Giant Skillet Cinnamon Roll recipe >> HERE
Look at this cinnamon roll, y'all!  It's GIANT and made in a cast-iron skillet.  Hello breakfast!  I know it has a glaze...but I sort of really want to make this copycat Cinnabon frosting I found and lather that on top.  It uses a pound of butter and a pound of cream cheese....DON'T FREAK OUT!  It'll be worth it and I bet it'll be the best cinnamon roll EVER!

Cheesecake swirl brownies recipe >> HERE
I remember as a kid my favorite dessert to get if we went to a place that had bakery items was the cheesecake swirl brownie.  This is still one of my favorites!  Brownies and cheesecake together, yum!  I'll probably leave out the chocolate chips, though...I don't want it to impede on my texture.  I already know I'll have to make two pans:  one for home and one for work.  That's what I get for talking about these at work and showing a picture!

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes
Snickerdoodle cupcakes recipe >> HERE
I love cinnamon.  I love snickerdoodles.  My great-grandma used to make these amazing snickerdoodle cookies...I don't remember if anybody else besides me ate them, but I loved them!  My favorite cupcake place here in town OCCASIONALLY has snickerdoodle cupcakes, and they're amazing!  But sadly, they rarely have them when I go to the bakery.  So I obviously have to bake them myself.  Cinnamon in the frosting...cinnamon in the batter...just cinnamon everywhere!

OK....so there it is.  My own personal baking challenge!
I'll update y'all as I make each one.  'Til then, have a great weekend!


Inner Musings 2.0

I apologize for not doing a Fab Friday Five last Friday...I was at home wallowing in a Sudafed-induced coma.  Stupid weed pollen was out in full force last week and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Stupid environmental allergies!

My IT band is feeling better, though still a little sore at the end of the day.  Nothing to complain about really.  PT starts on the 2nd and I'm a little less than excited.

After talking with my doctor, we've decided to wean me off of the current anti-depressant and try me on something different in a few weeks.  Turns out, the medicine I was on caused me to have some pretty awful dreams....almost nightly.  I'm waking up a LOT during the night wondering if the events that happened were real or not...they certainly feel real.  I'm told, however, that my dreams may get worse while coming off the medicine.  Great.

Here's some more inner musings for you.  I KNOW y'all think some of these very same things!

Based off your social media profiles, it's no wonder nobody wants to hire you.

No offense, but your baby is not cute.

Some days are just flat-out unbearable.

All this anti-Islam nonsense you post on Facebook all the time....you do know that they pray to the same God you do, right?!

Why do you wait until you're OUT of a supply to ask for more?  Why can't you ask for more when you use the next-to-last one?!

Why do you keep having babies when you're clearly not taking care of the ones you already have?

I hate you because your four year old can read.

You only post on social media about going to the gym and going to the bar...do you do anything else??

WHEN are you going to retire??!

Why do all of your pictures of your child in the car seat look as if the kid isn't actually strapped in?  You do strap that kid in, right?

Would there really be so much media about the school officer snatching that teenager out of the desk if the student and the officer were of the same race?

That job is not rocket science....why can't you manage to just do it right??

The way you talk about gay people is appalling.

Why are you so angry and so rude every day?

A pint of ice cream every night is NOT a suitable lifestyle!

Nobody cares that you go to the gym twice a day (or more), every day.

I joke about being fat because it's easier for those to laugh with me than at me.

Why....please tell me why....does everyone in Grovetown drive 10 mph UNDER the posted limit?  If the sign says "55"....I'd like to at least go 55!

Have a good week, folks, and I'll see you on Friday!


Random Update

The week, so far, has started out like crap!

On Saturday night, I woke up with EXTREME pain in my right thigh.  Every time I moved, it felt like my hip, knee, and side of my thigh were literally stuck.  It was excruciating.  I couldn't fall back asleep for quite some time.  When Dave left for work that morning, he brought me the electric heating pad....and then subsequently pushed his fist onto my thigh as hard as he could to try to work out what he thought was probably a muscle cramp or pulled muscle.  Let me tell you...if I could have, I would have kicked him square in the jaw! That heat pad stayed on "high" for three hours and didn't even touch the pain.

When I got up in the morning after I could no longer convince Aria that breakfast would be "in a little", I made it two steps before I had to grab onto the door frame of the bathroom and stand there and cry and scream out in pain.  The stairs were awful and I had to get Aria to let Sophie out because I wasn't even down the first half of my stairs yet.

I called my mommy to tell her I wasn't bringing Aria over and why, and she told me to call the weekend clinic and try to get seen.  I hate going to the doctor and will ONLY go if my mommy says I need to go.  I figured (and Dave figured) that it would be a waste of my time...figured they'd tell me it was a pulled muscle and go home and take some ibuprofen.  We were wrong.

I apparently have something called IT Band Syndrome.  The iliotibial band is the tendon that runs from the outside of the hip, down the outside of the thigh, and connects at the knee.  Basically, it connects my hip muscle to my lower leg muscle.  In people like me who have hypermobility in the hip and knee joints (my knees are hyperextended and I can pop my hips in and out of place without really noticing), that band can apparently be loose...and a loose band can get inflamed and angry (obviously).  It's kind of like tendonitis, but isn't actually tendonitis.

The solution:  hefty anti-inflammatory + physical therapy.  The anti-inflammatory (which they said had an acid reducer in it) gave me the WORST heartburn yesterday...I literally had heartburn all day long!  My primary care physician told me I can take regular OTC anti-inflammatory as needed instead of that junk the other doctor gave me.  Plus, the electric heat pad has been my very best friend lately!

The physical therapy will work out the band (which I'm told will hurt like hell), then will help strengthen the band and the joints to which it's connected.  Also, they'll look to see if there's another muscle in my leg that isn't doing it's job properly and may have caused the IT band to take over some of the work (it's not supposed to do that) and they'll give me exercises to strengthen that muscle also.  My cousin (a physical therapist) said the amount of time it takes will depend on how stubborn my body is and how well I do my homework.  Well, we all know I'm an overachiever, so homework won't be a problem!

So for now it hurts, but is starting to feel better.  My range of motion is better.  I just have to wait for my PT referral to come through so I can start that.  I'm hobbling around like I'm broken and I have to explain IT Band Syndrome to anybody who asks.  It's great.

Dave informed me last week that he wants to change his our eating habits and cut out most of the carbs.  I can't help that we have pasta or potatoes with every meal...it's the only side I can think of.  We were supposed to start on Sunday, but he offered me comfort food, so I picked Japanese food.  Then yesterday was Mexican Monday.  So maybe today we'll start with low-carb food :)

A look at the week's dinner menu

Sunday:  Sausage and Peppers + Mini Potatoes
chicken apple sausage - bell peppers - vidalia onion - dutch yellow potatoes

Monday:  Mexican Monday

Tuesday:  Chicken Caesar Salad
chicken - romaine - parm cheese - croutons - light caesar dressing

Wednesday:  Steak Stir Fry + Cauliflower Rice
skirt steak - stir fry veggies - teriyaki sauce - cauliflower

Thursday:  Margarita Chicken Salad
chicken - romaine - cheese - pico - cucumbers - corn - light ranch - sour cream

Friday:  Burgers + Pasta
burger patties - brioche buns - lettuce - cheese - low carb pasta

Saturday:  Tex Mex Stuffed Peppers
bell peppers - leftover TexMex meat mixture - corn - cheese - sour cream

 Have a good week, folks!


Fab Friday Five - RANDOM

Sorry for the mini hiatus, folks...I've been busy.  Here's a quick recap of the times lately:

Aria has started gymnastics and LOVES it! And maybe this Saturday (her third class) we'll actually get there on time!

I finished the puzzle I was working on and felt quite accomplished afterwards.  I was more excited when I realized that meant I could buy a new puzzle!

After my own mom told me how apparently awful I've been for the past year, I sucked it up and talked to my doctor about antidepressants.  I feel weak, broken, and damaged, though Dave says I'm acting as if I'm happier.  I don't see it yet.

I had an awful...awful...dream last night that I was told a family member was in a coma and would most likely not wake up.  Right now, I still feel rattled by this dream.

Poor Soph Soph is almost nearly blind now.  She's running into things and can't see enough to jump up on the bed at night anymore.  We bought her stairs for the bed, but she won't use them until you wake up and call her to them and encourage her to go up them.  So of course I feel bad for her and give her as many treats and snacks as she wants.

As of October 26th, Aria will officially be out of before/after care at Pre-K.  My mom is bidding farewell to her job and will be taking care of Aria in the mornings and afternoons for me.  The pressure I was feeling about real school next year has been lifted.

We've upgraded our hotel reservations to a family suite for Disney.  I was coerced into it.  BUT...Dave got me this great book all about planning for Disney, and it's quite informative.  I look through it almost nightly.  It doesn't yet have me excited to go, but I feel like it's making me a little more prepared.

Aria had been so awful with not listening lately and none of our other punishments were working, so I resorted to letting her pick her punishment.  She could either choose to have her playroom locked up until further notice, or she could have all of her favorite animals and baby dolls closed up in a box until I decided she deserved them again.  She chose the animals in the box.  She's actually been listening pretty well this week, and as soon as I threaten to add more animals to the box, she starts behaving.  Maybe this punishment will finally be the one that works.

When I get home today, there should be an Amazon box by my front door with my puzzle in it and Aladdin on blu-ray!  I'm probably more excited about this than I should be.

I've not really spent a whole lot of time on Pinterest lately...so I only had a few new things to share with you....and of course none of them really fit into the same "theme."  So random it is.

Enjoy :)

Apples, Honey & Goat Cheese Crostini
recipe >> HERE
Y'all remember when I mentioned having a tapas dinner party this fall for my family?  I had decided on having two or three different crostinis and this is definitely one I'll be having.  No, I don't actually have it planned yet...but soon, maybe....maybe.  Perhaps November?  Or maybe it'll be in January.  I don't know...we'll see.


Is this not the cutest dog costume you've ever seen?!  Perhaps it's Photoshopped (I see the dog is missing an ear), but that's OK!

Lemon Ricotta Parmesan Pasta with Spinach and Grilled Chicken | Cooking Class
Lemon Ricotta Parmesan Pasta + chicken and spinach >> recipe HERE
I know I should be looking at fall recipes and this dish looks kind of summery...but doesn't it sound tasty?!  Well, I think so anyway...

32 Of The Best DIY Backyard Games You Will Ever Play:

Giant backyard Scrabble....um, yes please!!

An Impressive Chocolate Dessert for Valentine's Day photo
Chocolate souffle >> recipe HERE
The chocolate souffle...the holy grail of desserts.  I will one day muster the courage to attempt this beautiful dessert.

Have a great weekend y'all!


10.8.14 - 10.8.15

Holy crap, it's been a year!  
This has been a truly wonderful place for me to get my thoughts and feelings out.
Life truly is a battle...and all you can do is take it one day at a time!
Thanks so much for being a reader and I hope we can continue to connect together in the years to come.

Here are some statistics for you!

Total number of views

Total number of comments
(including my own replies)

Total number of posts
(including this one)

Top 5 posts by # of views
Convos With My Kid (the school outfit incident) - 9965
Tremendous Friday Ten:  Things I'm Lovin' - 3367

Top 3 posts with the keyword "cancer" by # of views

Top 3 Fab Friday Five by # of views (not including anything listed above)
Parenting - 244
(surprisingly, these were three weeks in a row)

Top 3 Convos With My Kid by # of views (not including anything listed above)

My top 3 favorites to write (and go back and read)
Life Lessons - 134

I'm taking a break from your regularly-scheduled Fab Friday Five tomorrow.

Have a great weekend, folks!


D-Day + 365

One year ago today was Dave's first day of chemo.
(read about it here >> D-Day)

Looking back on it, we were so oblivious and uneducated.  Of course, we're not doctors...but we had both done TONS of research on it...not to mention all the countless episodes of ER and Greys Anatomy we had both seen (because those are SUPER-CREDIBLE sources!).  Dave had asked his doctor if, after chemo for the day, he could go to work if he was feeling up to it.  The doctor kind of made a face...like "how in the hell do you think you'll be able to do that?", but said that he supposed it would be OK if Dave thought he was capable. 

We knew that we were clueless, but really, we had no idea just how clueless we were.

That first day was the only day that I stayed with him the whole day.

There was no room in the infusion room for guests, so I stayed out in the waiting room reading and doing a puzzle.  I went in and checked on him a few times.  I brought him and another young man in there lunch (I still feel bad for forgetting that guy's ketchup).  Afterwards we went home thinking "Gee, that wasn't SO bad."  And that evening wasn't bad.  It wasn't until after dinner that he felt a little "blech".  

That was the last day he came home from chemo feeling good.

A year later...and when I think about that first day, I still think to myself "man, we really had no idea what was ahead."

That first day of chemo was nothing like every subsequent day.  The other 15 days of chemo were pure torture for him.

It's funny when I think about the past year of my life....this is my sequence of events:
"Dave got a local job in the middle of last summer, and then cancer happened."  That's literally how I described the last year when talking with my mom this morning.  It's amazing how one little 2.7cm tumor and 16 days of poison can consume your life so much that it becomes the only way to characterize a time frame.

It feels like a lifetime away, but at the same time, it feels like it just happened yesterday.

And it wasn't even happening to me; I was just the bystander.
I can't imagine how the last year feels like for Dave.

On a side note...the blog turns "1" in a couple days...so expect a "happy birthday" post!


Fab Friday Five - I WANT TO BUY...

Dave always says that I live like we're poor, even though we're not.  The problem is that we've been in a situation before when we WERE poor and I think it traumatized me so much that I exist in a constant state of fear of being there again.

Back when Dave lost his job with Schneider, we were unprepared financially for that kind of loss.  We had never really started saving yet and I hadn't realized exactly how much we really depended on him.  Even though he had found another job within a week or two and had started work, we had a few months without that extra paycheck coming in.  Not only did we lose that paycheck, but we also lost the health coverage.  Aria was still little and going to the doctor often for checkups and illness because, lets face it, babies in daycare are sick every week and go to the doctor a lot to make sure it's just a cold and not something more serious.  In the three months it took to get new insurance, Aria had been to the doctor at least three times for an illness ($95 office visit fee for non-insured patients) and had one routine checkup with several vacciness ($500 for visit + vaccines).  That was $500 we didn't have.  We had rent...car payment...utility bills...student loan bills...and our only income was my 30 hour a week paycheck

We had depleted every little bit of what we had, had maxed out our two credit cards paying for things like groceries and diapers, and now had $600 in medical bills to worry about.  Our utility bills were overdue...and I had already begun asking my parents for help.  We had, in my opinion, hit rock bottom. So much so to the point that I put aside my pride and called the Department of Health to enroll in WIC.  The lady on the phone told me that our income level had to be that low for a rolling 30 days, so because he had just lost his job a week ago, we did not meet qualifications.  By the 30 day deadline, he had already found work and was receiving paychecks, thereby increasing our income to be above the WIC limit, so we were not eligible.

It took a LONG time come back from that.  Before we could start saving money, we had to pay our debts that we had...for our bills and to my parents.  Once that was caught up, we had to move on to paying down our credit cards.

I told myself then that we would NEVER be in that situation again and I would save every little bit of money we could.  With that mentality, we were able to eventually pay everything off and fix our credit enough to buy a house and a new car when mine started acting up.  We had bounced back 10 fold and were on the right path again.

Fast forward several years to 2014 when cancer struck.  Dave was inconsistently working for four months and I was working less hours to help take care of him.  BUT...because of the savings we had built up, we made it through that period with my only having to ask my mom for help on one phone bill.  We were able to cover the rest.  And what we couldn't cover with the savings we were able to cover with the credit cards that had very low balances.  Sure, we ended up running up the credit cards, but in my opinion, that was an OK reason to run them up...buying groceries and gas and essential life needs.

We're still in "recovery" from that period...the credit cards are paid down by half and our savings is growing again.  BUT...because I know how quickly life can change, I still worry about not having enough to cover.....life.  So no, I don't like to spend money on things I don't NEED.  I get buyer's remorse just from buying groceries.  I almost never buy anything for myself and I give Dave a really hard time any time he says he wants to buy something, whether it be expensive or cheap...a want or a need.

That being said, that doesn't mean that I don't dream about spending money.  There's lots of things that I'd like to buy, but most likely never will...because I can't fathom spending the money if I don't absolutely NEED to.  Here are a few things I dream about buying....

30-Inch 5 Burner Electric Double Oven Convection Range
Kitchenaid 5-burner electric double convection oven >> HERE
Our less-than-5-year-old Frigidaire oven that came with the house is a piece of crap.  There's a switch of some sort on the back that's attached to the front-right burner and it sounds like it's shorting out every time the burner comes on.  We will eventually replace all our crappy Frigidaire appliances with nice new beautiful non-crappy ones.  THIS is the oven that I want!  It's $2,000 and it's beautiful.  The only drawback is that, because it's a double oven, it doesn't utilize Kitchenaid's new "Aqualift" self-cleaning technology (cleans the oven in less than 200° with water and steam instead of setting the inside of the oven on fire for five hours).  One day maybe.

picture of San Angelo Glider Recliner
 from Recliners Furniture
San Angelo Swivel Glider Recliner >> HERE
When we picked out our living room set, we were still in the apartment and didn't realize we'd be buying a house so soon.  Now, our living room set doesn't really suit our current living room.  I want to be like old people and have two recliners...two recliners that swivel 360°!  This is what I want!  Whenever we go hang out at Rooms-to-Go, I like to spend time sitting and relaxing in this chair.  The leather isn't that sticky kind that holds onto your legs.  The swivel is effortless, and the chair itself is SO comfortable.  I just love it and really REALLY want it...at $450 a piece....it'll have to wait.

I apparently don't have a picture of my backyard...but here you can see all the trees behind the fence
There's an AWFUL grade to our backyard.  So much so that there isn't even one flat spot big enough for Aria's kiddie pool.  Also, we have quite a bit of land that's ours behind our fence...down a big slope and into the woods.  What I REALLY want is to pay somebody to come flatten my backyard and then also move my fence to give me the rest of my property (cleared, of course).  That would be ideal.  If we decided to stay in the house, we're going to have to invest the money in this project....we just have to.  Also, while they're at my yard...they might as well go ahead and install me a french drain by my front door for all the water that flows off the roof right there.  We've never even gotten an estimate on this project...but I just know it's going to be thousands and thousands of dollars and it will probably make me physically ill to commit :(

Swim Spa >> HERE
Wouldn't it be nice to buy one of these after getting the yard redone?  It's a swim spa!  There's lots of different kinds and different sizes, but I like this one.  I can't seem to find the price online for this one...but other places have different models for $15-20K. YIKES!! That's nearly the price of a car.  But come on, look at it!  It's a hot tub and a heated swimming pool all in one!  What could possible be better than that?  Just one more thing I'll keep dreaming about.  To be honest, I'd settle for a 2-person hot tub...but sadly those cost, too...and I probably won't fork out the money for that, either, not even the $400 inflatable one.

Sleep Number FlexTop King i10 mattress on a FlexFit 2 base >> HERE

Dave and I have decided that the next bed we buy will be a Sleep Number.  The flex base lifts the head and feet so you can achieve a zero-gravity feel with no pressure on your back or knees.  The mattress has a half-split so both people don't need to be using the same sleep position.  The mattress also has special temperature-regulating layers so it feels cool even in the summer.  The base and mattress together cost over $8,000...and that's not including the furniture to actually HIDE the base.  Luckily, we just bought a new mattress...so that should give us about 10 years to save up for this sucker.  We probably won't get it though...I can't imagine spending that much money on a bed.  

And of course there are the (in my opinion) obvious things....Macbook Pro (complete with full Adobe suite), iPad Pro (complete with new iPad pen), new lenses for my camera, shiny new cars, culinary lessons, a vacation home in Italy, hire professionals to repaint every room in my house (and redo my kitchen and bathroom to suit my needs..and fix the spot where Soph chewed the wood on a windowsill...and fix the spot where Little Man tore up the carpet because he got locked in the closet for 8 hours), hire a professional landscaper and yard crew to make (and keep) my yard looking exactly how I want it all year round, pay for Sophie's cataract surgery for BOTH of her eyes....and many other numerous items that I'll also never buy because I refuse to waste our money on those things.

To be honest...I'd rather live like I'm poor and have the ability to buy the things we need when we need them than to frivolously spend all of the money and then we're left up the creek when shit hits the fan.  

Have a great weekend...it's nice to have a reprieve from the hot weather this weekend thanks to the hurricane (which turned and won't be dumping nearly as much rain on us as previously though)...but it will sadly be back up into the 80s again next week. Blech.


Fab Friday Five - For the Price of Disney

$2,800....that's the price of our week at Disney for the three of us.  Aria's surprise vacation next year.
Dave mentioned the other day how he was so excited and he wished it was closer than 7 months away. I, on the other hand, merely grunted.  I'm not excited about it.  I don't see it as something amazing...I see it as a week in Hell.  
The "most magical place on Earth" is, as far as I'm concerned, one of Dante's circles of Hell.

Aside from the fact that I do NOT like big crowds with people milling about in every direction 
(I tend to panic, get itchy, and then cry).....
I'm getting itchy and nervous just looking at this.

Aside from the fact that I can't stand spending that kind of money on anything and it physically pains me every month when I make a $200 payment and we still owe $2K ...

Aside from the fact that, while I know our whole vacation will be paid for, we still need to save up a ton of money for souvenirs because Dave is a "souvenir person" so I know we'll be buying a bunch of stuff for him and Aria despite my protests of "but memories are just as good, if not better, than souvenirs"...

Aside from the fact that I'll be pushing a stroller around against my will and will undoubtedly be the one who hangs back from the crowd so as to not get in the other patron's way with my childless stroller and will miss all of Aria's excitement because I'm 10 feet back...
I'm NOT looking forward to this. At all.

Worse than all of that, I'm certain, will be Aria.

I picture her losing her mind in a crowd full of 10,000 people.
I picture her crying on all the rides, ruining all the other patron's times.
I picture her cowering in fear every time we get to the front of the line to meet a Disney Princess.
I picture her screaming every time we tell her we can't buy her something from every kiosk or every store (I don't spoil my child with buying her things every time she asks, but that doesn't stop her from freaking out about it as if she were a spoiled brat).
I picture her not standing still in line and I end up screaming at her in front of 10,000 people.

I know how awful she can be at Target....and how awful she was at Arts in the Heart this past weekend....I picture it being a million times worse at Disney World.

Dave asked me what else we could do, vacation wise, for $2,800.  He implied WITH Aria...all I can think of is doing it WITHOUT Aria.

So here are five other options we could do for around $2,800...sans child.
(according to my search today)

Glacial Landscape
7 night Royal Caribbean Alaska Cruise >> HERE
7 nights....travelling north from Vancouver, Canada to Seward, AK.  Seeing glaciers...and moose...and whales (maybe)....for $806 per person (taxes + fees included)....leaving $1186 for airfare and optional excursions.

10-day tour of Greece >> HERE
Dave and I had a WONDERFUL time on our honeymoon touring Europe!  We met some great folks, saw some beautiful countryside travelling by bus, and had a top-notch tour guide and bus driver!  I would ABSOLUTELY go on another bus tour with COSMOS!  And this one...10 days in Greece...sure it misses out on Crete, Mykonos, and Santorini...but Mykonos is only a 5 hr ferry ride away from Athens :) Anyway....this one may be a little costlier once you figure in airfare and the optional excursions....$1249 per person, leaving only $302 for airfare and excursions

6-night stay in the Maldives >> HERE
Chaaya Lagoon Hakuraa Hurra in the Maldives is the place for me!! An all-inclusive 6-night stay in a private bungalow OVER THE WATER!  HELLO!  Welcome to paradise.....  $367.80/night (no booking fees)....$2200 for Sunday through Saturday, leaving only a little left ($600) for airfare...but wouldn't it be worth it to spend just a little extra for a week-long stay in this place?! OK...so there may be a $426/person fee for floatplane transfer...but that's OK, too!

Aruba Ecotourism
5-night stay in Aruba >> HERE
A 5 night stay at the Marriott in Oranjestad, Aruba...in a one bedroom ocean-view suite, airfare included from Augusta....$2852.  I'd gladly pay $2800 to share a beach with flamingos :)

Amazing View
12-night Blue Ridge stay >> HERE
We LOVE to vacation in Blue Ridge!  We could stay here for 12 nights ($215/night) for $2580....and we wouldn't have to fly anywhere or spend more than 4 hours in the car!  And...Aria and Sophie could actually come along here!  And that view...the name of this cabin is "Amazing view"...and I know why.  Hot tub...fire pit...king size bed...pool table...and that view.  That beautiful view.  
 Yup...I'd take this over Disney ANY day! 
 Or, we could stay at our regular cabin ($135/night) for 20 nights!  20 nights for $2700!!!

And one more for good measure.....
1 week participation in an archaeological dig in Virginia on the property of James Madison and his slave quarters ($1500, lodging included) (check it out!)
--- Or, for two weeks just one person (me!!!) can participate in a dig at an ancient pottery dump in Rome for $2900...airfare not included
--- Or, for two weeks just one person (me, again!!) can participate in a dig at suspected ancient Mayan ruins in Belize for $1750...airfare also not included

There's a TON of possibilities for $2800 that do NOT include a trip to the most miserable place on Earth.

Sure, it will be nice to see Aria's face light up when she sees the castle that she's seen a bajillion times at the beginning of movies.  And sure it will be nice to catch up on all the Disney movies before we go (so she can be familiar with all the characters).  Of course it'll be a FANTASTIC time if Aria completely surprises me and behaves like the perfect angel I know she can be because I'm told she is at places like school and Grandma's house.

I've been to Disney World once...I was somewhere between the ages of 9 and 12.  I remember a lot of heat, a ton of people, and a TON of time spent waiting in lines.  Lines for the rides...lines for the characters....lines lines lines lines (I said that in my head like when the Grinch says "all the noise noise noise noise...").  I didn't see it as "the happiest place on Earth" or "the place where dreams come true" or "the most magical place on Earth" or "the place where adults can be kids" ....I just didn't see it, even as a kid.

To be honest, I'm not looking forward to it....not at all. (well, aside from Animal Kingdom)
Oh the things we endure for our children....and husbands....

This article right >here< is for Dave.....read it....find a way to CONVINCE ME that it'll be great (and Aria's smiles and excitement don't count).