Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The One With Vacation and My Creepy Hair

Mr F. and I just got back from a trip to Arizona to visit my brother and his family. It was a great trip-naturally over too soon-and I somehow didn't end up with very many pictures [or a single picture of my beautiful sister in law. Or Mr F. and I together]. Evidence of a good time, I guess. 

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  1. As we were sitting in the airport waiting to board our plane to AZ, we got a FaceTime call from my SIL. I recently got a haircut and decided to get bangs. This was new for my four year old nephew, so after talking for a few minutes, my nephew asked, "Annie, why is your hair so creepy?" Given the picture above, he has a point. But, the bangs are gonna stick around for a bit. 
  2. We spent the first two days and one night at the Sheraton Wild Horse Hotel and Spa. Time by the pool. Sleeping in. A couples massage at the spa. A pedicure for me. Food and drink on demand. Started vacation off well. [We did have a ridiculous experience at a restaurant at the resort, Ko'Sin. Aside from the horrible food that we waited an hour and a half for and the alarmingly sweaty manager we talked to, the waiter carefully put full place settings in front of all of us. Including my nephew and my almost-two-year-old niece. FULL place settings. As in, SHARP STEAK KNIVES in front of children. We couldn't stop laughing. It was all so bizarre.]
  3. THE FOOD. My SIL is a fantastic cook and there were so.many.restaurants there. A few favorites were The Keg, Joe's Farm Grill, Maricopa Taco Stand, and naturally, we got our In & Out Fix. Mr F. really loved Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. It was red meat and carbohydrate week on accident. Carne Asada Tacos. Steak and potatoes. Burgers and fries. [I picked up a sinus infection on the way home and had to go to the doctor...where I was weighed. DO NOT WEIGH PEOPLE AFTER VACATION, DOCTORS! IT SHOULD BE A LAW.]
  4. Nephew and niece time. I cannot get enough of these kids. They call me "Annie" and Mr F. "Uncles." It's the cutest thing in the world. Also, now, when anyone references 'Frozen,' Wreck it Ralph,' 'Monsters University,' or 'Despicable Me 2' we'll know what they're talking about. 
  5. Family time. Aside from my brother, SIL, and the kids, we got to see my Aunt LaNora and my cousins and their families. My heart is full [and hopefully still healthy despite the accidental red meat week and my summer of McDonalds cheeseburgers.]






Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sometimes I Move My Body

Exercise.

Sometimes, I feel motivated. Not motivated enough to actually eat well for an entire day or leave my house after getting home from work to go to the gym, but motivated enough to roll out the mini-trampoline and pop in my new (to me) Tracy Anderson Total Body Mini-Trampoline Workout DVD (available on TA's site or amazon).

Mini-trampolines can totally be en vogue. It's not all leg warmers, scrunchies, and leotards. This, my friends, is the year of our Lord 2014.

Before getting into the jumping, the workout starts out with a quick pep talk and some stretching followed by a routine that uses the mini-trampoline for stability during leg and ab exercises.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Pros:
  • 51 (ish) minutes of non-stop moving (well, at least she's moving the whole time...I needed frequent "water drinking/breath catching breaks" but hopefully that will improve over time)
  • Working out AT HOME. I can dress how I want and spaz out as needed. 

Cons:
  • She doesn't talk you through the exercises or the transitions, you just have to watch and hope that you're getting the moves right.
  • I need a mini-trampoline that is a little less mini.
 ________________________________________________________________________________________________

Honestly, I had to tell myself not to stress out trying to match her move for move the first couple of times. Give myself some time to learn the routine and build up my endurance for the 1.6 million leg lifts that she does prior to actual bouncing-on-the-trampoline-time.

Bottom line: I was plum WORN OUT when I was done. It's a keeper. It met my standard for being added to my own "sometimes-motivated-to-work-out-at-home" collection-I didn't hate it.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lucky 13




  1. Grey cardigan with pink trim: I didn't like how this fit and I wasn't a fan of the pink lining.
  2. Multi-color print tunic: This fit really well, and Mr. F loved it, but I couldn't do the print. Way too busy. My camera couldn't even figure out what to focus on when I took the picture.
  3. Navy, white, and coral tunic: This was really boxy and I didn't really like the pattern.
  4. Navy and cream striped 3/4 sleeve top: I liked this top, but it was shorter than I would have liked. I also have several striped tops like this already. 
  5. Leather purse turned computer bag: Props to my stylist. I feel like this bag was one of those gifts that you don't really flat out ask for, but the Lord sends your way because He even cares about the little things and likes to make you happy (like the exercise ball that I won as a door prize recently-I had been thinking about buying one to sit on at work for a while and kept putting off picking one up). Mr F surprised me with a MacBook Air for Christmas this year, and I've been looking for a computer bag that's more "purse" than computer bag. I wanted a strap on the top. Enough room for my computer, the external drive, the power cord, and a few books. I had been eyeing this one on Etsy but couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger because I could't decide on a color. And then this perfect bag showed up in my fix. Lucky me. 


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Sign up to get your first fix here (and I get a little summthin summthin out of the deal) or click on my StitchFix "button" on the left-hand side of the blog.
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Disclosure:  I am not affiliated in any way with Stitch Fix. I wasn't compensated and was not asked to write this review. I purchased the items with my own money (and any applicable referral credit). 
Referral Link included.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Choose Your Own Adventure: Back Pain and Kindess


This will be a long post, so I'm offering a "choose your own adventure" option. If you like long, descriptive reading, choose Section A, Section B, Section C, and Section D. If you're more of a "cut to the chase" kind of reader, Section A, Section, C and Section E will be all you need (and I hope reading to this point hasn't been too taxing).


Section A:

Last Tuesday, I went to the chiropractor to get an adjustment because I was standing kinda crooked after I tweaked my back COUGHING (my lower back is a sissy).

Section B:

After the adjustment, I went back to work, sat in on a meeting, and headed home to ice my lower back because I was told that I might be a bit sore from the adjustment. I had to head back to work for a special event so I got up, brushed my teeth, refreshed my makeup, and headed out the door.
I started down our porch stairs and as I stepped off the last stair, INTENSE pain shot up and down my back and into my legs and I slowly sank to the ground-I couldn't stand up. I was suddenly hot and sweating, everything was dim, and as I was telling Mr. F what I needed him to do, I heard myself talking and I sounded so far away. Mr F. got me up on my feet and started inching me back up the stairs and into the house. I started to feel a little bit better, so, because I'm a friggin idiot, I told him I would be fine and asked him to help me get to the car so I could get to work, which he did, because I'm also stubborn and super difficult.

When I got into the car seat, I had my first muscle spasm in my lower back.

Hell. on. earth.

My entire lower back basically seized for about ten seconds and I yelled (only one cuss word) through the entire thing because the pain was so intense.  I immediately called my office and let them know that I wasn't going to make it in and we began the process of getting me back inside.
The spasms (and the now cuss-word-free, begging-Jesus-for-relief yelling) kept coming every two or three minutes and they were absolutely awful. I felt so bad for Mr. F. He was so helpful but I knew it was hard to see me in so much pain. He asked me to please try to scream into a pillow because he was worried that someone was going to call the cops (and I wasn't quite "appropriately dressed" for visitors because I was so hot and uncomfortable). We put an ice pack and a bag of frozen corn on my lower back and slowed the spasms down a bit. We called friends and family and asked them to pray. And after about an hour, four ibuprofen, and guzzling a glass of adult grape juice, the spasms stopped and my body partially relaxed. My lower back was tight all night, making it hard to sleep, but I went back to the chiropractor the next day to have ultrasound therapy (supposed to be good for inflammation) and lay on pelvic blocks so that my own body weight could initiate any adjustments that needed to be made.

Section C:

Long story short, my body didn't take to the adjustment very well. It apparently kind of liked the way it was and tried to go back, pinching a nerve in the process.


Section D:


And after all of that, I can't express how thankful I am.
That my husband was there when it happened and able to take care of me the next day.
That he's down with the "for better for worse" "sickness and health" deal.
For a boss that told me to stay home.
For an adjustment of another sort. A forced pause that allows for rest and spending quality time with the Lord.
For a coworker who brought me a brownie and a get well card from the office.
For coworkers who were willing to step in and help with my responsibilities while I'm away.
For friends and family who prayed for relief. For healing. For peace.
That God created our bodies with the ability to endure pain and with the capacity to heal and recover.
That Jesus is merciful. Gentle. And willing and able to heal.
For friends that brought beautiful flowers.
For friends that brought dinner. Or lunch. Comfort in the form of soup or banana bread.
For my parents and my sister in law, who called to check on me every day.
For my husband in general. Ya'll -he's above and beyond what I could have ever imagined for myself.


Section E:

People were really nice and stuff and I'm getting better.


Friday, February 21, 2014

A Valentine's Day Recap

Valentine's Day 2014 was spent pretty much like every other Valentine's Day
since our first as a married couple in 2009. 

Strange valentines exchanged. He had flowers delivered to me at work because, 
as much as I'd like to be all -

"that is such a waste of money and I don't NEED flowers. It's a ridiculous holiday
created by greeting card companies and I don't need flowers 
to prove to me or anyone else that you love me" 

-I'm not. I'll own it. 

Dinner at home (I don't like crowds). Floor picnic. A movie.

Except, this year, I wore high heels, a dress, and red lipstick while I was cooking dinner. 
(And then quickly changed into PJs to eat and watch the movie.) 
He appreciated the gesture.
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Creepy valentine numero uno: "My heart I serve to you." Ew.
Creepy valentine number two. Sweet sentiment, no?
Thai yellow chicken curry and jasmine rice. Thanks for the sauce, Trader Joe's!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Picnics Please

Our corner of the Natural State has been blanketed in snow and ice for the past two weeks because the temperatures have failed to venture above freezing. Pretty much sans-sun. 
Basically, that translates to me having an excuse to wear my schlub girl uniform.
Sweatshirt (loose around the mid-section). "Skinny" jeans. Warm socks. Boots.
Mostly sloppy but just cute enough for me to feel like I've made an effort not to gross out the husband. For better, for worse, right? I try not to test him unnecessarily.

But today, today was the most magical day.
The sun, ya'll. The sun.
It was out. And it was WARM.

I know, I know. 
Blah, blah, blah, seasons are changing, etc.
Surely everyone is happy about it and you'll read about it on Facebook.

With the sun comes optimism for spring and summer.
Plans for our tax refund.
Plans for vacation and weekend getaways.
Plans for the garden and the back yard.
Plans to enjoy the being outside in that warm sunshine.

And to celebrate that optimism...that promise of warm weather 
and subsequent non-transparent skin...I think I need to finally buy these beauties. 
I've had my eye on them since I saw them over at 
Cooking for Seven (now Buttered Side Up) -forever ago. 

[photo credit: Erica  from Cooking for Seven blog...
can't post to original post because the blog URL has changed]

Tear off-gingham napkins are perfect for summer picnics.

They will go quite nicely with my score from a local flea market.






Sunday, February 2, 2014

Fix XII

Seeing a StitchFix box waiting for me on our porch after work never gets old.
Sometimes, I go home during lunch just to check and see if it's already there.

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Gold Lace Bib Necklace:
If me from birth to five years ago could see me now....tsk tsk.
I swore I'd never wear gold. No matter what. 

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Black V-neck Top with 3/4 Length Sleeve:
This fit well, but I felt like I could find something like it around here,
so I decided to send it back.

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Grey and Black Striped Sweater:
I actually already have this top in a pinkish color from a previous fix. 
I was tempted to keep it because I really love it, but they grey didn't do
a lot for me, so I passed.

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Coral and Navy Patterned Tab-Sleeved Tunic:
I really loved this. It's rare for me to meet a tunic that I don't love.
And as I was looking at myself in the mirror, smiling, all-but twirling, Mr. F
saunters in and mumbles something about Halloween. And no matter how many
times I told myself, "it's coral and navy, NOT orange and black," I just couldn't shake it.
I had to let it go.

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Heather Grey Asymmetrical Zip Sweater:
I could not stop smiling when I saw this. It was another "oh, please oh, please oh, please."
But I'm picky. I thought the zipper was the only thing that was asymmetrical 
but the bottom of the sweater was asymmetrical too and I really don't like asymmetrical hem lines. 
I also wish it had been longer.  I reluctantly folded it up, put in in the return 
envelope, and sent it on its way. 

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Sign up to get your first fix here (and I get a little summthin summthin out of the deal) or click on my StitchFix "button" on the left-hand side of the blog.
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Disclosure:  I am not affiliated in any way with Stitch Fix. I wasn't compensated and was not asked to write this review. I purchased the items with my own money (and any applicable referral credit). 
Referral Link included.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Brownies and Chips [A Recipe]

Something has been bothering me since late 2012.
Kale chips.
Kale chips aren't CHIPS.
Calling them chips is just nonsense. There's an expectation that the word "chip" carries along with it. A promise that crispy kale just can't deliver.
I'd be happier if we could all just call them what they are. Pieces of crispy salad.

And then there are black bean brownies.
Brownies are delicious. They are pure. They are perfect. They don't need to be healthified.
Beans don't belong in a brownie. They belong in a burrito. Or with some cornbread.
But after my friend Carolyn made me try one (she brought one to me and I'm quite polite), I'm OK with calling these "brownies" instead of "sweet beans with eggs and butter" because they deliver. But only if they are made from this recipe (from Carolyn):

  • Black Bean Brownies

  • INGREDIENTS

  • 1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 tbls soft butter
  • 1 tbls vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cocoa

INSTRUCTIONS

    1. Mix all ingredients in a food processor or blender.
    2. Grease your 8x8 dish and bake at 325 for 25 minutes. (I used a disposable pan and mine weren't done after 25 minutes, so I upped the temp to 350 for another 10-20 minutes....you just kind of have to watch them).
    3. Enjoy with an ICE COLD glass of milk. Literally, put ice in your milk.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Buttah

I've commented on how much I like this butter dish every single time we've been to
Target for the past couple of months. I don't know why I never picked it up and shelled 
out the nine bucks to take it home. But I'm glad I didn't.

Christmas presents that show that he listens are the best.
Also-soft butter.
Soft, spreadable butter is the best.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

My First Whole Chicken



I'm part of the problem. I'm the reason that Tyson wants to engineer a seven-breasted chicken. Chicken breasts and chicken tenders. That's pretty much all I'll work with in the kitchen.
For some reason, chicken thighs sick me out and I prefer my wings to be boneless (and covered in buffalo, teriyaki, or garlic parmesan sauce).
But I'm trying to break the cycle. Because the cycle makes absolutely no sense.

One of my most random goals for 2014 is to take a chicken from the "yard" to my plate. Just so I know how. And that I can. I have some friends who are going to help me make this happen (and they've been warned that I will for sure cry when I'm BUTCHERING the chicken), but until then, I am working on expanding what my idea of the "plate" looks like.

When my parents and grandmother came for our post-Christmas-Christmas weekend, they were willing test subjects. I cooked a.whole.chicken. (Granted, it came from the farmer's market already plucked and cleaned out, but still. I cooked an entire chicken. Not just the breasts. Not just tenderloins. The whole bird.) 

It's been said that our friend Tabbitha makes the best chicken ever, so I asked her what to do. After I mentally prepared myself for something that should require no mental preparation and made sure I had plenty of soap in the sink dispenser, I got to work.
  
I preheated the oven to 350. I put things inside the CAVITY. Things like an entire stick of butter. And 1/4 of a chopped onion. And I rubbed that sucker down with olive oil and generously sprinkled it with Tony Cachere's Cajun seasoning, crushed red pepper, garlic salt, and ground black pepper. I poured some chicken stock into the pan with the bird, covered it with foil, and set the timer for an hour and a half. Every 30 minutes or so, I checked on it, scooped up some of the broth and poured it over the bird, and put it back in the oven. It wasn't done when the timer went off, so, per the advise of my mother, I upped the temp to 375 and put in back in, uncovered for thirty more minutes. 

It was beautiful. Delicious. Tender. We liked it so much that I'll even go so far as to use a word that I hate to describe it. That bird was MOIST, ya'll. Moist. 

The leftover meat will find its way into some recipe later this week and I'm going to give making chicken stock from the bones a go. Maybe mastering the "plate" part of the goal will carry me through the chicken killing part of it. Maybe. Right? Probably. Surely. I can totally do it. Totally. For sure. I've got this.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fix XI & Thank You

Before "unpacking" my fix in this post, a little Christmas PSA of sorts:

If you're looking for last minute Christmas gifts, Stitchfix has gift cards
...the gift of new clothes AND a personal stylist...
that would be a win/win 

Merry Christmas!

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LOVED this print, but it was a bit too tight on my arms.
[black and floral tab-sleeve tunic top]
RETURN TO SENDER
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I really liked the length of this, but it was just kind of "meh" when I had it on.
[maroon and navy tab-sleeve tunic top]
RETURN TO SENDER
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These pants fit funny...so, not flattering and too long.
[grey skinny stretch "jeans"]
RETURN TO SENDER
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I really liked this sweater but it didn't look good once I had it on.
[color blocked green and navy striped sweater]
RETURN TO SENDER
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And then, there was THIS. 
[Aztec cardigan]
IT'S A KEEPER AND I'M IN LOVE WITH IT

I may have been whispering "oh please, oh please, oh please" as I was trying it on
and when it fit, OH THE JOY! The heavens opened. 
And because several people have signed up to get fixes through my affiliate link (see below)
this baby was FREE. So, to those of you who read this and have signed up for a fix,

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

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Sign up to get your first fix here (and I get a little summthin summthin out of the deal) or click on my StitchFix "button" on the left-hand side of the blog.
---
Disclosure:  I am not affiliated in any way with Stitch Fix. I wasn't compensated in any way and was not asked to write this review. I purchased the items with my own money. Referral Link included.

Monday, December 16, 2013

White Stuff

Our first winter storm of the year. 

Our charming, antique town basically shut down for 5 days.
The grocery stores were out of bread, milk, hotdogs, chips, and cheese 
within minutes of the weather man hinting that winter weather was on it's way.
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We slid walked all around town.... 

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...to spend some time with our friends and their new baby...
 

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...to enjoy the decorations downtown...
 

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...and to pick up our "groceries"...

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It was like everything and everyone took a deep breath and just slowed the crap down.
A sort of 5 day Sabbath. And it was the absolute best. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Favorites Vol. 4

After my grandfather passed away, my grandmother began setting things out for us to sort through.
He had lots of watches-all with expanding bands because he had large wrists-and I picked out his old Timex.  He stopped wearing it when the battery went out a long time ago. I decided that I'm not going to replace it.
I love wearing it and remembering him when I catch a glimpse of it on my (thankfully-not-so-large) wrist.


Friday, December 6, 2013

A Recipe [Chili]

It snowed. Thus, a chili recipe seems timely. This is our "go-to" recipe for chili, but it is a little bit different every time. It's one of those "a pinch of this, a dash of that" kind of things.



Ingredients:

1 heaping T. of garlic, minced
1 T. coconut oil
1-2 heaping T. cumin
2 cans diced tomatoes (with olive oil and garlic if possible)
1 t. red pepper flakes
splash of beer (optional)
1 onion, chopped
2-4 cans beans (we use kidney mostly)
1-2 heaping T. cilantro (fresh or dried)
2 jalapenos, sliced
1 lb. ground beef
1 C beef stock (or more to taste)
1 dash of Italian seasoning

Instructions:

1. Peel and chop onions and seed and chop jalapenos.
2. In a large pot, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Brown the ground beef and onions.
3. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and make adjustments as needed.
4. Serve with sour cream, cheese, and chips. It's delicious.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Little Letters

Dear Emoticons-
I'm frustrated that you even exist. And I'm disappointed that I use you.
There's just so much pressure. Text comes in. Some type of response is required to acknowledge receipt of said text. Emoticon it is.

Dear American Eagle,
These jeggings have changed my life. Leggings aren't pants, but jeggings sure the crap are. Thank you!

Dear Martha Stewart,
You throw around the word "easy" a bit liberally. Just because you toss it into the name of a recipe or craft description doesn't magically transform the skill level required to make it. Might I suggest the use of a ranking system that is assigned to recipes or projects based on domestic skill mastery? 
Beginner: boiling water ---> grilled cheese [good with scissors and glue]
Intermediate: crockpot usage ---> replaces leeks/shallots with green onions [can sew on a button]
Expert: chicken stock from scratch ---> Julia Child recipes [sewing machine extraordinaire]

Dear Coffee,
Thank you for your daily encouragement.

Dear Expensive Hair Cut Guy That Cuts My Hair Once a Year-
I've been meaning to get my hair cut for months. Its just that I cut my own bangs not too long ago and I'm waiting for them to grow out because I'm too embarrassed for you to see the chop job. It would be an affront to your artistic sensitivities and basically insulting on multiple levels.

Dear Hashtags,
Congratulations on making it into everyday conversation. #grammarlaments

Dear Calories,
Piss off.


Sincerely,
Byrd