Monday, September 16, 2013

I'm still alive- Updates and a Fall Bucket List!

Wow!  It has been over 2 months since I have posted on here!  I just wanted to let you all know I am still alive.  I have been so super busy at work.  Over the summer they changed my role not once but twice!  It has been super stressful.  And when your work life gets out of control, your whole life seems to fall apart (since work is such a huge chunk of that!)

I don't have time to give a detailed update.  I wish I had time to write full posts about each of these items, but since I don't here is a summary of what's been going on lately:

- It's ironic my last post was about how this was the best season of Big Brother, because it has actually turned out to be the worst.  I ended up hating most of the people in the house and really don't think any of the final three deserve to win.  My summer without cable TV is over, but I think after this season of Homeland is over I may cancel my Dish account and strictly do online streaming and Netflix.

- I got a promotion at work.  But I'm not really over the moon about it right now.  It is challenging.  And there has been lots of other drama at work.  I really hope things get better.  I miss the days when I used to be excited to go to work and could say I love my job, because that is definitely not the case right now.  But I am thankful to still be there and hopeful that things will turn around soon.

- In August my cat had a medical emergency.  His urinary tract became completely blocked and I had to take him to the emergency vet.  He was in the hospital for 3-4 days and when he came home he was a hot mess.  I had to confine him to my spare bathroom because he was peeing everywhere.  So far it has cost me about $2500!  They wanted to do surgery because he had some crystals adhered to his bladder, but the vet has him on some special food to try to dissolve them.  I'm really hoping it works because the surgery would be another $1400!

- One of the girls from my small group moved to Iowa earlier this year and she is getting married at the end of this month and I am going to the wedding on her fiance's farm in Iowa!  I've never been there and am excited to go.  We are flying up early and spending a few days in Chicago and then driving down to Iowa.  I haven't been to Chicago since I was a kid, so I am excited about that too!  If you have any Chicago or Iowa must sees let me know!

- Speaking of small groups, I am starting one this week!  Ahhhh I am so nervous!  My small group had been together over 4 years and I love those girls.  They will always be in my life even though we aren't in small group together. So excited to see what God will do through this new group and what girls he will bring into my life through it!

- This weekend was pretty awesome.  I ran in the Electric Run on Friday.  It was the most fun run I have ever done.  Way better than the color runs with an awesome party at the end!  I will definitely do it again if it comes back to Raleigh!  We also had Church at the Ballpark on Sunday.  There were over 11,500 people in attendance and 530 of them got baptized!  God is so good!

- I'm so excited for fall!  This summer has not been the best so I'm kind of glad to see it go.  I only got to do a few things on my summer bucket list:

I love fall!  So let's try this again with a Fall Bucket list:

Friday, July 12, 2013

Best Season of Big Brother ever???

Warning- if you don't watch Big Brother this post won't make sense to you. And if you aren't caught up on the episodes there will be major spoilers....

The only thing that made me nervous about giving up TV this summer was missing out on Big Brother.  It is usually the only saving grace with summer TV.  I have watched every season and am a huge fan!

Luckily I can still watch it through the CBS iPad app.  I can't watch until the next day, but that is ok.  It usually gives me some motivation to go to the gym at lunch the day after it airs and watch it while I am on the elliptical.

When I saw the first episode this season I was a little disappointed.  I didn't really love anyone.  After episode two I started to like Amanda and thought she was smart, but still kind of blah about this season.

My, my, my how quickly things can change!  I just watched last night's episode and it may have been the best episode in Big Brother history!  I am almost tempted to subscribe to the live feeds now.  I usually don't read message boards and didn't even vote for America's Choice or MVP (until today), but this season there is a lot of controversy about some contestant's racist remarks.  Two people have even lost their jobs over it (and they don't even know it yet!) So I started reading some message boards and watched some videos people have posted from the live feeds.

I am in shock about how mean and oblivious Aaryn is.  She has done so much damage to her character in just 2 weeks.  I kind of hope they keep her around just to see what happens.  But imagine the shock she is going to be in when she gets out of the house.  And if she has done this much damage to herself in such a short time can you imagine what would happen in 3 months!?!

Now we can't forget that even though this is "reality" the producers are influencing this somewhat.  (I guess I am more aware of this because I am reading Lauren Conrad's LA Candy series right now).  They still ask them certain questions in the Diary Room and even who Julie picks to ask questions to and the questions she asks during the live episode can sway the activity in the house.  Like her question to Aaryn last night if she ever forgot the cameras were there.  I almost died when Aaryn said no and that now America knows a lot more about her and Julie replied "Yes we do".  Seriously died!

Other things that shocked me and/or I loved so far this year:
- Amanda making out with pizza delivery guy
- How the girls are throwing themselves at the guys and how many showmances formed so quickly
- how the moving company formed so quickly (and how they turned on each other)
- Rachel's sister and actually not hating her
- I love the MVP twist
- The segment on Howard and his faith!
- How smart some of the girls are (YAY!)
- Gina Marie losing it when Nick leaves (seriously?!)

If you are not watching this show you need to start and catch up by watching the previous episodes online because this is seriously entertaining!

If you do watch, what are your thoughts of the season so far???

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Weekend wrap-up: Color Vibe Run, concerts, cookouts oh my!

I know it is Wednesday, but I am just now recovering from the weekend and getting caught up. Here is what I've been up to:

I had a pretty busy weekend this weekend. Friday my friend Jeni texted me and asked me if I would be interested in going to the Zac Brown Band concert that night. I'm so glad I didn't have plans and could take her up on her offer!  

I had so much fun tailgating and at the concert!  I tried Straw-ber-Rita's for the first time and will say I am definitely a fan! Although from what I remember from the Lime-a-Rita's last summer , I think they have a ton of calories. They are also high in alcohol content though so maybe you drink less? Not sure if they are worth it though. I had my fare share that night. I haven't been that drunk in a loooong time but I did have a lot of fun!

Saturday morning I got up super early for the Color Vibe 5k. 

I definitely got way more color on me this time than when I did The Color Run in Charlotte last year. Those pictures were after i had already wiped down for the car ride home since i was too chicken to take my phone out there.  

They were way more generous with the color at this race. They let you buy extra packets, threw some in the crowd, and each color station they got way more on you. I had more color on me before the race even started than I did at the very end of The Color Run. If you do one of these races, here are my tips for you:

1. Go with a group. It is fun to throw color at each other. Take a kid if you can. My friend's 7 year old did it with us and it was fun to watch him. 

2. Do not expect to set a PR or even expect this to be a true 3.1 mile course. I am 99% sure neither of the ones I have done were true 5K distances. And there are a ton of walkers so it is hard to weave through the crowd if you really want to run. We walked almost the whole thing this time because my friend had bad shin splints and it was on a farm with uneven trails and pastures. 

3. Bring a towel to wipe off as best you can and a trash bag to sit on to avoid getting color all over your car. 

4. Don't worry too much because most of the color should come out of your clothes and even brush off your shoes. I did have a tank top on under my shirt and the color did not come out of that but did with everything else. 

Saturday evening I went to church and then a cookout at a friend's house to celebrate her husband's birthday. We had Carolina Classic style burgers with cheese, chili, slaw, and onions (well no onions for for me).  They were yummy and I loved spending time with my favorite almost 5 month old!  I should have taken some pics!

Sunday I spent the whole day on the couch watching a marathon of Friday Night Lights. I only have one season left. I'm going to be really sad when its over because it is such a good show!

Oh and to follow up from last week...
I only had two people enter my CD giveaway so I am going to send you both one!  One of you will get my copy that has already been opened and listened to though so I hope that is ok!

I am trying to get better at this blogging thing. I signed up for bloglovin. Still need to claim my blogs on there though. I just get so busy and blogging takes a back seat. But I do love it so I am trying to get creative and make it work for me. I cleaned out my reader list. And I typed this whole post using the Blogger app on my iPad!  Bear with me. I am trying to get better at this. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Club Friday- The Great Gatsby

I had to read this book back in high school, but I really didn't remember much of it at all except that this Gatsby guy was rich and threw parties and was in love with someone.

When I saw the previews for the movie, I knew I had to re-read this because the books are always better than the movie versions.

Just like I remembered, Gatsby is rich and throws lavish parties.  He is in love with a married woman, Daisy.  They were in love years ago, but Gatsby went off to war and Daisy ended up marrying someone else.  But Gatsby never forgot her.  He bought this mansion on "West Egg" strategically because it is directly across from Tom and Daisy's house on "East Egg".  Ironically Daisy's husband is cheating on her.  And that plays a big part in the story line too.

All of this is narrated by Nick who is Daisy's cousin(?) and Gatsby's next door neighbor.  Gatsby is portrayed as this mysterious guy that no one really knows well, but everyone knows of.  Eventually Nick learns of Gatsby's connection to Daisy and Daisy and Gatsby are re-introduced to each other.

About 2/3 of the way through the book picks up pace and a crazy string of events happens (I won't spoil it for you).  At the end it is just really tragic and sad the way things end up and the lessons you can derive from the story are just sad too.

It was interesting and weird (I think that is the formula to become a "classic").  It's not a huge book, so it is probably worth picking up.  The beginning can be a tad slow though.

Overall I didn't love it so I am just giving it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Originally posted on my bookshelf blog.

Linking up...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Skyfactor Signal Strength CD giveaway!

I discovered the band Skyfactor back in 2010 basically because the guy I had a crush on at the time liked them and I wanted to see if we had similar taste in music so I of course went to check them out on iTunes.  I ended up downloading their whole album that night!  I even blogged about them and they sent me a CD and a t-shirt to giveaway!

Three years later and I no longer have a crush on that guy, but I still have a crush on this band!  A few weeks ago they emailed me to let me know they were coming out with a new album and asked if I wanted a copy and even offered to send a second copy so I could do a giveaway!

Their CD Signal Strength has been on repeat in my car the last few days and the more I listen to it, the more I love it.  It is so my style.  I love that I find myself singing along by the end of the song.  Their lyrics can be so sweet (and y'all know I am a hopeless romantic!)  Sometimes the guitar melodies remind me of Jack Johnson but with more of a rock vibe?  I'm not good in describing music so listen to one of my favorites from this album called Wake Up:


If you want to hear more, you can find the other tracks on iTunes.

My other favorites from this album are Signal Strength, Superstar, and In the Morning.  But really I liked them all!  It's the kind of CD you don't have to hit skip on any of the songs.

I have one copy to give away!  I'm not going to make this complicated (I could write a whole rant about how much I hate the "here are the 6 trillion ways to enter this giveaway...follow me here...share that" posts that have been filling my feeds lately).  So here's how you can enter:

Leave me a comment on this post!  Say whatever you want.  Let me know if you like them too...or tell me who you've been listening to lately or just say hi!  I'll pick the winner Monday June 24!  Good luck!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Lumineers at Koka Booth Ampitheater

Last Thursday I went to my first concert ever at Koka Booth Amphitheater:

Image from their Facebook page of a NC Symphony concert
I loved so much about this venue.  I think it is the best venue for concerts in the RDU area!

It isn't huge so it didn't feel crazy like other concert venues do.  Parking was free.  A man in a golf cart asked us if we wanted a ride and dropped us off right at the entrance.  You can bring your own lawn chairs.  They have pretty good sounding food options even though all I got was a pretzel.  You can buy a whole bottle of wine to take back to your seat with cups!  You didn't have to walk a mile to get to a bathroom and they were actually clean.  The sound was amazing even though we sat pretty far back and you can even still see the stage (as long as rude people aren't standing in front of you).

I also have to mention that there was a severe storm warning that night.  They were calling for really bad storms with hurricane force winds.  All day I kept an eye on their Facebook page and they did post updates throughout the day.  Finally they decided to push back the gate open time from 5:30 to 7pm and the concert would start at 8pm.  On my way home from work around 5:15 pm the storms hit pretty hard.  The wind was crazy, but by 6:30 pm everything was fine and the storm had actually cooled everything off quite a bit.  There was still a tiny bit of rain but not much.

J. Roddy Walston and The Business started out the show and even though I had never heard of them they were pretty good.  Next up were the Cold War Kids and they were fabulous as well.  Finally The Lumineers came on!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE The Lumineers.  They are probably the only band that I could sing all of the songs on their album by heart in the last year.  They played every song from their album and even some new stuff.  The crowd sang along to almost everything.  At one point they came out into the middle of the crowd and did a song or two from there!  It was probably the best concert I have ever been to!

I would have taken more pictures and video (I did upload one crappy Vine), but my phone was pretty much dead and at one point during "Ho Hey" Wesley, the lead singer, encouraged everyone to put away their phones and be in the moment.  I loved that.  I hate wasting time tagging, uploading, or making sure I document everything I do.  I mean I love it sometimes because I love documenting everything, sharing everything with all of you and I love seeing other's adventures, but he's right.  We do need to put away our phones and be in the moment with the people who we're with more often!

The only negative thing about this concert was the parking lot situation after the concert.  It was almost midnight and Kristin and I were anxious to get home because it was a school night after all.  But the traffic was just not flowing well out of the parking lot.  I don't know if they just weren't prepared for it or if someone was new on the job or what.  I do not do well in traffic and may have cussed out a few people for pulling out in front of me and threatened the lives of others if they even thought about pulling out in front of me.  Once we got out of the parking lot it was great, no traffic at all.  They really need to fix that situation.

So that's one thing off my Summer Bucket List- going to see an outdoor concert.  I'm going to see Matchbox Twenty in August and possibly some others before the summer is over.

Oh and I have another music update for y'all.  Back in 2010 I told y'all about a band I had fallen in love with called Skyfactor.  They saw my post and sent me a CD to giveaway to you guys!  Well last week they emailed me again to offer me a copy of their latest CD- Signal Strength!  I've been listening to it all weekend and I can't wait to tell you all about it and there might even be a giveaway for you!  So comeback later this week to see!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer Bucket List

After being inspired by the many Summer Bucket lists on everyone else's blogs, I decided to make my own Summer Bucket list.

Some of these activities I already have planned like a girl's beach trip and some outdoor concerts.  Some I have never done before like making a meal just from Farmer's Market stuff, seeing the symphony at Koka Booth, and watching an outdoor movie.  And some I just want to do again because they are fun!

What's on your summer bucket list?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Thoughts on Love

I've spent almost the last three years completely single.  Aside from a crush or two and one (i think) night of a drunken make out mistake, I have not dated, kissed, hugged, or held hands with a guy.  I miss it.  I really do.

Since I've gotten older, I see dating much differently that I did when I was younger.  When I was in college, I  wasted spent five-six years with a guy I knew I didn't want to marry.  But I liked him a lot and he was comforting and a great friend.  He just sucked to be in a relationship with and I knew I didn't want to deal with all that drama for the rest of my life.  But it was just easier to be with him than be alone.

Then I dated a guy that treated me better than any guy probably ever will.  He was so sweet, thoughtful, everything you want a guy to be.  But we just weren't right.  And I took him for granted and still had my eyes open for something better which killed the relationship because he could tell I wasn't putting him first when he most definitely was putting me first.

The I dated witty guy.  And we just weren't right either.  I think we both really tried to make it work, but it just didn't.  And then he met a 19 year old waitress and broke my heart and destroyed my self-esteem at the same time.  (Me bitter?  No way!)  So that took a while to get over.

And now I have spent so much time alone I am afraid of anything real ever happening.  I still have crushes and flirt and think guys are cute, but I am so scared to have anything real happen.  Even though I want it so bad.

I'm just afraid to let someone have my heart again and it not work out.  I'm afraid of integrating someone in to my life and becoming best friends with them and then everything falling apart and having to separate myself from them again.  So in theory I want the next one to be The One.

But that puts so much pressure on everything.  So I hate that.  I want to be able to get to know someone without thinking that far ahead.

I know I need to just let go and trust that God has a plan and anyone he brings in to my life, He does so for a purpose.  I need to let go of all this fear around relationships.  But it is easier said than done.

Monday, May 27, 2013

TV Junkie

A few weeks ago I suspended my Dish Network account.  This was in an effort to save money but more importantly gain some much needed time back.  I think I may have been slightly addicted to TV.  Probably still am.

I still watch some shows.  I have started watching Friday Night Lights on DVD while I'm on the treadmill again.  I also used the ABC, CW, A&E, and NBC apps to watch some of my favorites over the past couple weeks: Grey's Anatomy, Happy Endings, Duck Dynasty, Bates Motel, Heart of Dixie, and Saturday Night Live.  The apps all have ads you can't skip through and I am watching them on my tiny iPad mini, but it isn't bad! I watch them while I am on the elliptical at the gym or cooking in the kitchen.  So it's not like I am wasting time. (At least not on TV, but I may have just replaced that time waster with reading more books!)

It is a little weird not to be able to turn on the TV even just for some background noise, but I really think this is a good decision.  I lived without TV for one summer during college and it was the most productive summer of my life.

I don't know what I am going to do without Big Brother this summer though!  I love that show!

I'm going to give this a try for a few months and if it isn't bad I am going to cut the cord completely from cable and satellite.  I hate them all.  They start you out at the great introductory rate and a year later it feels like they are robbing you blind!

Have you ever cut the cord from TV?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers

I started this series back in December and even though it took me a long time to finish, it is one of the best series I have ever read!  It's The Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers:

Let me tell you, I was really hesitant to start these books.  I gave in and read Redeeming Love by this same author a few years ago and loved it but for some reason I was still hesitant about Christian fiction.  I mean the covers do look a little romance novel-ish don't they?

Voice in the Wind is the first book in the series.  It is the story of Hadassah.  The story opens with her city Jerusalem being destroyed by the Roman army.  Her family is killed and she is captured and sold as a slave to the Valerian family.  So much happens in this book!  The first few chapters are a little slow but things quickly pick up.  Julia Valerian is so messed up and by the end of the book you will hate her.  Marcus too is very troubled but you root for him.  And Hadassah is remarkable.  She really shows you what it means to live out your faith in a world that does not agree with it.  Even though ancient Rome may seem very different than today's world, there are a lot of similarities.  This was probably my favorite book in the series!

Echo in the Darkness is the second book in the series.  And I'm telling you if you get close to the end of the first book, go ahead and have this one on hand because you will want to start it immediately after you finish the first one!  This book continues the main story from the first book.  I can't tell you much more without including spoilers.  I really enjoyed this book as well and loved finding out what happened to all the characters on their long twisted journey.

As Sure as the Dawn is the third and final book in the series.  This book is somewhat different from the other two because it focuses on one of the other main characters from the first book Atretes, a German warrior who was captured by Rome and forced to become a Gladiator (which is not something you want to be forced to become).  Artetes goes through a lot in the first book and this book picks up kind of where you left him in the first book.  New characters are introduced and you will fall in love with and hate some of them just as much as the others from the first two books.

I give this series 5 out of 5 stars and I'm sad this it is over.  These characters were so real to me and I learned so much from them and experienced the full range of emotions with them.  Even if you aren't a Christian I think you would love these stories.  It gives you a taste of what life was like in Ancient Rome.  It reminded me of the TV series Spartacus on Starz a little, but with a little less sex and violence (but not much!).  I highly recommend you add these to your must read list!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Create a Summer Singles Event and Win

When I first saw the ads for the Stir events I thought it was an awesome concept.  You get to meet a lot of other singles and it isn't just forced awkward conversation because you are doing a fun activity together.  There's a wide range of events by offered to members all around the country ranging from large-scale happy hours at popular venues, to more intimate events like tequila tastings and DJ lessons!  In fact I have always wanted to go to a Stir event, but you have to be a member and my previous adventures in online dating have left a bad taste in my mouth so I'm a little gun-shy.

They've only been doing these singles events for a year, but in just one year they have hosted 2,850 events – broken down, that’s 14 events each day, 75 events a week, 320 events per month! Match has collaborated with over 1,200 venues and partners, including House of Blues, Banana Republic, Sur la Table and Warrior Dash, along with local gems in each city.

In celebration of the Stir anniversary, is offering the opportunity for singles to create their own Stir event, and if their event is chosen, to work with Match Stir event planners to bring it to life!  Think how cool that would be!  I was trying to think what I would want to do and here are some of my ideas:
  • Cooking class
  • Wine & Design
  • Ropes Course or Zip Lining
  • Bowling
I'm not too creative apparently.  But I bet you guys are!  Visit’s “What Stirs You?” Contest Page now through Tuesday May 28th, 2013 and tell what you think would make for the perfect singles event to be entered to win. Entries will be judged based on quality, creativity, uniqueness and geographical relevance.

The selected winner will have their idea re-created by the Stir Events team in their city, and will receive an invitation to attend the event along with ten of their single friends – all at no charge! (I hope I get an invite if you win!!)  In addition, the winner will also receive a free six-month subscription.

You better believe I am submitting an idea!  And if you are not single but have a great idea, send it to me!!  I need all the help I can get in finding Mr. Right.

* this post was sponsored but only because I love the idea and am willing to enter the contest myself! Don't worry I'm not selling out my blog quite yet!

Oh Austin, TX! I hope to be back soon!

My trip to Austin turned out to not be bad at all.  In fact it was really really good.  Everything went smoothly and I had a great time.  I learned a lot on this trip.  I leaned a lot about myself.  I learned that I should not let fear cripple me.  (I think the fact that I finally read Divergent on this trip.  I think I need to be more Dauntless.)  I learned that I have become very independent and don't need someone else to help me figure everything out.  I learned that being alone isn't so bad.  And I learned a lot at the conference I attended, but I won't bore you with all that!  I'll let the pictures do most of the talking...

1. My adorable room at the W- Wednesday I got there around 4 pm.  I took a cab from the airport to The W Hotel.  If you've never stayed at a W you are missing out.  They really go above and beyond to make you feel welcome and cared for.

2. The bathtub in my room was so deep!  I could barely climb over the wall to get in.  But I loved it!  I took a nice relaxing bath every night.

3. The president was in Austin on Thursday.  I saw all kinds of security along my 3 block walk to Austin City Music Hall where our convention was held.

4. Thursday night I was scrolling through my Instagram and saw that Jessica Alba had posted a pic of the goodies the W Austin had left in her room to welcome her!  I was really hoping to run in to her at the gym or the spa or in the elevator or something but I didn't.  And no I didn't get any welcome goodies in my room.

5. I ordered room service Thursday night because it was raining.  Beef brisket sliders that were quite yummy.  I just love room service even though it is way overpriced!

6. That was my view from the treadmill at the gym.  I worked out every day at their gym!  It was so nice!

7.  They had an Acura car service you could use to take you places.  It came in handy!

1. Saturday morning I switched to The Hampton Inn because The W rate went up to almost $400/night!  The Hampton Inn was nice too, but it didn't feel like home like The W did.

2. Saturday evening I walked down to the Congress St. bridge to watch the bats.  Apparently the largest bat colony in North America lives under that bridge and they all fly out around dusk.  It was not what I expected, but pretty cool and there were tons of them!

3. A bat statue near the Congress St. Bridge.

4.  Lady Bird Lake trail- this trail was so pretty!  I walked it Sunday to and from church.  Cam would have loved this trail.

5-8. I looked on Yelp to see what food places I should try.  I wanted to go somewhere I could easily get something to go.  I saw great reviews for this Torchy's Taco truck and it was only about a mile away so I walked.  I will admit I got a little scared on this walk.  Even though it was all on main roads, it was dark and I was by myself.  It was such a cute place though!  Great date spot.  And the food was amazing!  Highly recommend the Baja Shrimp Taco and Green Chile Queso!  And on the walk back over the bridge I did get the best view of the city at night!

9. Sunday morning I walked to go to church at Austin Stone's downtown campus.  I have listened to this church's podcast for over 2 years so it was really exciting to finally hear the sermon live!

So here's all the details of how I spent my time in Austin:

Wednesday night the company I work with took me out for dinner and drinks after I toured their offices.  We went to Lambert's for BBQ.  The ribs were good, but the fried strawberry pie we all split was ah-ma-zing!  Then we walked down to The Elephant Room and we got to hear a full jazz band live which was really cool!

Thursday I went to the conference all day and came back to the hotel and hit the gym and then ordered room service because it was all gloomy and rainy outside.

Friday I went to the conference all day.  After we got out around 4 pm, I walked to Whole Foods because it is apparently their flagship store.  It was huge and overwhelming but I was able to get something for dinner and snacks.  I walked the mile or so back to the hotel, hit the gym, and then the spa.  I had booked an appointment for Friday night because I figured it would give me something to do.  It was the most amazing spa treatment ever.  Here is the description from their website:

Over The Hills and Far Away     105 min/$225
Rock out to this zeppelin-inspired VIP treatment with all the features of an exclusive detox.  Begins with a full body dry-brushing, followed by a coconut sugar scrub & detailed parafango treatment.  The experience continues with a full body massage, including our signature foot treatment.  Finish off with a cool coconut mini facial, incorporating cold stones & hot towels.  Your skin is cleansed, hydrated, and protected from the brilliant Texas sun.  Who says only celebrities have it so good?    Voted best body treatment by Austin Monthly readers, October 2012. 

And even better I had a $50 off any spa treatment coupon.  Soooo worth it!  Best.  Treatment.  Ever.

Saturday I woke up and went to the gym and then showered and packed.  Then I had their Acura car service take me to The Hampton Inn.  Luckily they let me check in early there!  After getting settled in my room I took a walk down Congress Street to Homeslice (thanks to a suggestion from Tracy on my last post!)  Along the way I popped in a lot of the cute shops that line this road.  I got the pizza to go and walked back to my hotel.  After I ate I went out to the pool and soaked up the sun and read my book.  Then I went to see the bats and get Torchys.

Sunday I walked to church and back, showered, and then just went on to the airport.  My flight wasn't until 5:15, but I people watched, read, and tried Salt Lick BBQ and Amy's Ice Cream (amazing!!!)

Time flew by and I really didn't feel alone.  I actually had fun!  It was very relaxing and definitely taught me a lot!  Just what I needed.  And I have to say thank you for all the encouragement through comments here and on Instagram and all the tweets!  I think that is part of the reason why I didn't feel so alone!

Hopefully next week I will be able to compile all my tips for traveling alone!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Traveling Solo

Back in March, my boss offered me the opportunity to go to a conference in Austin, TX.  The only downside is they only got approval for one person to go so I would have to go by myself.  I didn't have to say yes, but I had been dying to go to Austin.  The conference was on a Thursday and a Friday so I could easily make a long weekend out of it.  But I am the girl who won't even eat somewhere by herself.  Definitely did not want to go to a city I have never been to by myself.

So I asked some girls in my bible study if they wanted to go.  We all had just talked about doing a trip to Austin because the study we were doing was written by pastors at The Austin Stone, a church we all like and listen to on podcast.  Three of the girls said they were definitely interested so I agreed to go and booked my flights and hotel.  I sent them the hotel and flight info and we all talked about flight options and stuff over email for the next few days.

Well fast forward to three weeks before the girl backs out because she is doing another trip with her friends in May and just can't afford it.  Two weeks before we go I ask one of the other girls about it and she says she decided she isn't going to go.  She has to work and wouldn't be able to fly out until Saturday morning and it just wouldn't be worth it.  The last girl seems like she is still in at this point, but then today, 3 days before I leave, she tells me she isn't going.

So now here I am.  Taking my first trip completely solo.  5 days days in a big city all by myself.  And I am terrified.  I have flown by myself and navigated to a hotel by myself, but I have never spent time alone in a city I've never been to, where I know no one, completely by myself.

I've cried.  I've prayed.  I asked another friend to go, but unfortunately by this point flights are triple what I paid for mine back in March.  So it looks like I am going to have to be brave and be independent and get through this on my own.

I mean this is like a metaphor for my whole freaking life.  I am tempted on just giving up on people in general and going at this whole life thing completely on my own.  That way no one can hurt me.  No one can let me down.

Friday night I was watching The Client List (don't judge) and a little girl on the show said "My mom said "If you tell someone you are going to do something, you do it."  People need to do this more.  I even took this advice this weekend.  I had told my mom I would go see her the Sunday before Mother's Day (today) since I would be in Austin on Mother's day.  But I had been sick all week, had a million errands to run, and was dealing with the emotional trauma of all this mess.  The last thing I wanted to do was go to High Point.  But I did.  Because I had told her I would.

But apparently most people don't play by this rule.  And I seem to always get the brunt of this.  So the only solution I see is to stop counting on people for anything.  Hopefully this trip will give me more confidence to live a life completely free from dependency on others.  I'm already pretty independent, but I'm not trusting anyone for anything anymore.  Ever.

You know what the really sad thing is.  I think I could do it if I had Cam with me.  (the more people I get to know, the more I love my dog)  He really has helped me get through so much and I don't feel alone when I have him with me.  But I can't take him on a plane unfortunately.  So it will just be me.

So dear readers, have you ever traveled alone?  What advice do you have or me?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

OBX Half Marathon

I already told you guys I am basically starting over from scratch with my running.  Starting with the Couch 2 5K plan then bridge to 10K plan and finally I will be adding on a 12 week half marathon plan now.

Earlier this week a few girls from my sorority started a conversation around doing the Outer Banks Half Marathon together.  My old roommate Anne cracked me up with this comment yesterday:

After I finished my first half marathon I said I would never torture myself like that again.  But the next day I kind of wanted to try again.  The two I have always been interested in have been the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon because it is at night and the OBX Half Marathon because it would be beautiful and most importantly flat!  And it would be so fun to have a get a way with all my sisters.  Think of the cute t-shirts we could create for this!

It isn't until November so I have plenty of time.  I can't believe I am going to do this again.  But here goes nothing!

Speaking of sororities, did you guys hear about this scathing letter a sorority president wrote to her sisters?  The other night my friend did a dramatic reading of the letter that was hilarious.  Today I saw this which was also hilarious!  (Be warned: VERY strong language and HIGHLY offensive)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

10 Things I have been up to lately

I'm a bad blogger.  I have been so busy lately.  But I still don't want to give up on this little blog of mine.  So in lazy blogger form here is a bullet list of the top 10 things that I've been doing but haven't had time to blog about:

1. We had our yearly site kick-off event for work a few weeks ago.  This is like a pep rally for the year.  Usually we have a dinner at The Angus Barn and other fun team activities.  This year's was not as great as previous years.  But they did surprise us with a performance from Scotty McCreery!

2. Speaking of work, I got a mentor at work.  We are going to meet once a month and so far she has been great.  It's like she knew me from our first meeting.  She wants to help me build my confidence so she gave me an assignment to make a list of 10 things I am proud of accomplishing in my life.  This topic deserves a whole post later because I have done much pondering and researching on confidence in the last month.

3. One of my goals for 2013 was to pay off my car early...and I did last month!  A whole year earlier than schedule!

4. I am also in the process of switching my home and car insurance and refinancing my house.  All this was prompted by a notice that due to an increase in my homeowner's insurance  I had an escrow deficit and they are increasing my house payments by $50 a month.  I know $50 doesn't seem like a lot, but I have a very tight budget and need my bills to stay pretty stable.  Hopefully after all this my payments will be about the same as they are now or even less!

5. I am giving up TV at the end of this month.  This is in an effort to a) save money and b) not be so lazy.  I may supplement with Netflix, but I haven't decided yet.

6. With the money that I am saving from giving up TV, I got a maid.  They only come once a month, but y'all I am terrible at housekeeping and really needed some help!

7. On April 15, 2012 I ran my first half marathon.  On April 15, 2013 I started over with Week One, Day One of the Couch 2 5K program again.  Yes, that is how far you can fall in a year.  I am so out of shape, but at least I am taking steps to get back on the wagon.  (And yes the irony continues that the Boston Marathon Bombings were on that day as well!)

8. I'm going to the beach this weekend with my Bible Study girls and to Austin, TX at the beginning of May for work!  YAY for travel plans!!

9. I've spent a lot of time in downtown Raleigh over the last month and sometimes I think I wish I lived downtown.  It really has come a long way since I first moved here.  But traffic, parking, and one way streets stress me out way too much to make it my home.  I like the outskirts and being right between Raleigh and Durham just fine.

10. I got to get in a cash cube at work last week.  It was a disappointing experience and I only got $24.  I think this was mainly due to the fact that I went 7th and all the $100, $50, and $20 bills had been taken AND they dumped all the fake money the previous people had collected back in the cube right before my turn.  So unfair!  But I guess it's better than nothing.

Hopefully next time it won't be this long between posts! 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

30 Things Older than I am

I saw this article last week and decided to torture myself by reading about the 30 Things that are older than I am, or more nicely put 30 Things Turning 30 this Year.

I was shocked to learn that I am older than some of these things...

Care Bears were one of my favorite toys when I was little.  I can't believe they weren't even around when I was born.

I knew 80s fashion was bad but I never realized there was no J Crew before I was born.

I had to go through the DARE program in elementary school and remember getting the t-shirt.  Do kids today have to do DARE?

I have been around longer than Chicken McNuggets.  That is crazy.  I remember having one of my birthday parties at McDonald's when I was little.  Hard to believe that McNuggets had just been introduced around that time!

I LOVED My Little Pony!  I had a million of them and would brush their tails and hair and I still remember the My Little Pony movies.  I can't believe kids in the 70s didn't have My Little Ponys.

This is a new low...I am older than the minivan.  Geez!

I can't imagine not having a word processing program.  But then again I guess a lot of people didn't even have computers back then.  Hard to believe there was no Microsoft Word.  Let alone no internet!

Seriously?  I'm older than Reading Rainbow?  

And lastly don't you think this game still looks like it is out of the 70s?

Friday, March 22, 2013


I feel like my blogging life is on life support.  I have been so busy I barely have time to read posts, let alone write some.  Sigh!  I miss it.  I miss documenting my life here.  I miss interacting with other bloggers.  I miss feeling like I kind of knew what I was doing when it came to this blogging thing.

But now Google Reader is going away, sponsored posts have taken over, and there are so many other distractions like Pinterest and Instagram (you can find me on those (username: ncsuz) way more than you'll see me over here).

One of my Goals for 2013 is to become a better blogger and I really do mean that.  I upgraded my commenting section to use Disqus because one of my real life friends said she could never comment on my blog because she didn't have an account.  I tried allowing anonymous comments for a few days but I got so much spam.  So now I am trying out this Disqus tool.  But I have no clue what I am doing and it doesn't email me my comments anymore.  Ugh!  #bloggerproblems

Now my beloved Google Reader is retiring.  Google I am so mad at you!  I don't want to have to find a new reader.  I have heard a lot of chatter about bloglovin and feedly, but that is just another thing to add to my neverending to-do list.  #bloggerproblems

And what does that mean for followers of my blog?  Does that mean I am going to lose all my followers because that uses Google Friend Connect (which I thought was supposed to go away a few month ago) #bloggerproblems

I can't keep up with all this!

I also had two friends recently make their blogs private.  I only know because I got an email inviting me to their blogs.  I haven't had time to figure that out either.  Can private blogs be read through a reader?  Or do I have to do some new log in process and visit each of those individually? I have no idea.  #bloggerproblems

My own blog needs an update.  I will be 33 this year.  OMG!  So 30 Before 30 is very misleading.  Or maybe it is a good thing?  I'll just claim I'm 29 forever.  But updating the whole design and theme of this blog seems so overwhelming I don't even know where to start.  #bloggerproblems

And when did blogging become such a business?  I mean everyone seems to be a sponsor AND have sponsors.  So now I have to pay to play?  I don't even have a freaking button or ad or whatever it is people to pay to put on someone else's site.  #bloggerproblems

But being a better blogger is still one of my goals this year along with finally completing my 30 Before 30 list and making some upgrades to my house.  But there is one goal I can already cross off!  Yesterday I paid off my car!  Over 13 months early!  Now I am officially debt free other than my mortgage! YAY!

Hopefully I can make some progress on the other goals now...starting with this blog and all my #bloggerproblems

What are some #bloggerproblems you face?  And can you help me with any of mine?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Weekend Wrap-up

This weekend was both good and bad.  Since I am low on time, here is the weekend wrap-up bullet style:

- I got to go to my first Carolina Hurricanes game of the season.  One of my good friends was nice enough to invite me to her work thing at the game and our seats were awesome!  Before the game they had a tailgate with great food and beer/wine.  Ron the Ref and Stormy were there and Tuomo Ruutu (one of the players) gave a little talk and answered questions.  It was a great game and we won!!

I don't know why Stormy wanted to show off his bully button!

CAM!  My favorite!
- I watched Gone with the Wind for the first time this weekend.  It was not what I was expecting at all!  It was really depressing and traumatic   Not a sweet and happy love story, but still a good movie.  I kind of want to read the book now.

- I went downtown on Saturday night after the game and actually stayed out late and danced up a storm!  It was fun but my mind was kind of elsewhere...

- While we were out Saturday night I was with another girl from my bible study and we both got calls from our leader back to back which was a little unusual.  When we checked the message she left for us we were in shock!  One of the other girls in our group had her brother visiting this weekend and she was calling to tell us he passed away around 8:30 that night while he was with her.  It was so shocking because we had both just met her brother after the 4 pm service at church just a few hours earlier!

We had heard so much about her brother before meeting him and she was so proud and happy to be able to introduce us to him.  He was born with only half a heart but despite all odds had made it 24 years by God's grace.  They had  had a scare a few months ago, but when we met him he seemed to be doing well and talked about how much he had enjoyed the service.  It was just such a reminder about how fragile and fleeting life is.

Sunday our small group met and wrote letters of encouragement to our dear friend and took lunch to her and her family.  It was so bitter sweet.  Bitter because death always stings, but sweet because we could see God's hand in everything that happened the day before.

Also sweet because I think we all can see how much our group has grown  in our faith and with each other over the last year.  I have never had girls that I could depend on like these girls.  We are more than a bible study, more than friends, sometimes more than even family.

It's also sweet because we know he is with the Lord now and there is nothing sweeter than that.  I have experienced in my life the death of people who are strong in their faith and also people that you really just don't know where they stood with Jesus and it is so much different when you know exactly where they are going.  It is sad yes, but that sadness is countered by the joy you feel for them too.  The joy that you know you will get to experience when this life is over and we are finally HOME.

- If God keeps me here in this life a long time, I hope He gives me the opportunity to know a love like this.  Oh to be loved and even more- to love someone else like this!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Random Wednesday Catch-up

My goal of being a better blogger in 2013 is not going so well.  Life is just so busy.  Being an adult is hard y'all.  And I don't even have a husband or kids.  Although if I had a husband he could help out a little (just saying)

I don't have much time so here are some things that have been occupying my thoughts lately in good 'ole bullet fashion:

- I have become obsessed with Dusk Dynasty.  I seriously have watched about 20 episodes over the last 2 weeks.  Si and his tea cup are my favorite.  I mean HEY he just says the craziest things.  I also love Phil.  Watching the Roberson family makes me hap-py, hap-py, hap-py!

- Y'all if you are tormented by having a crush on someone, wait it out and spend as much time as you can around the person.  Slowly you will start to see their faults and the crush will go away and you won't be tormented by the longings of your heart anymore.  At least it worked for me and I am so glad!

- I'm going to give blood tomorrow for the first time and I am really nervous about it.  I hate needles.  I'm afraid of passing out.  It supposed to only take 15 minutes.  Hopefully I will survive.

- I need a vacation.  If I had a travel buddy I would be planning a trip to Europe right now.  I want to go to Paris and Italy.  In April I have a beach weekend planned and there has been talk of a trip to Austin, TX.  All I know is I need to get away ASAP.

- I need a maid.  I seriously suck at housekeeping.  I can keep things tidy and organized, but I hate cleaning. In particular vacuuming.  Pretty much anything having to do with the floors I hate.  And that is a problem when you have a dog that sheds two tons of fur a day.  It has taken over my house and follows me on my clothes everyday. Oh if only I had a money tree!

- I still want to find movie love.  I want some prince charming sweep me off my feet and cuddle on the couch and make out.  Oh how I miss making out.    

-I've been trying to cook more and not eat out.  I read an article about how off calorie counts can be and so I have just been trying to eat healthy.  Remember how I said I wasn't giving up anything for Lent?  Well, I decided to give up diet soda.  Or soda in general   I am more tired and have had a few headaches, but I feel much less bloated and it's forced me to drink a lot of water which is always good.

That's it for now.  I will try to post some of the Pinterest recipes I've tried recently tomorrow.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sunday Snippets: Loving the World

This week has been a roller coaster for me.  I know I had promised to be a better blogger this year, but sometimes I can barely keep up with life.  I can barely keep up with the emotions I go through on a weekly basis, let alone document them.  Even though I feel like nothing big is happening in my life.  I mean according to the world's standards I'm pretty unsuccessful currently.  I'm not getting married.  I'm not having a baby.  I didn't get a new job.  I'm not moving somewhere cool and fun.  I'm not training for a marathon.  I'm haven't lost 100 lbs.  I haven't wrote a book or published a song.  Nothing is really new with me according to the world's standards.  I couldn't impress anyone on Facebook or at a cocktail party.  And honestly it was starting to kind of get to me.

I've felt really stuck lately.  I felt like nothing was happening in my life and I felt like I was getting left behind.

This weekend our pastor gave a sermon on "Loving the world but not loving the world".  It sounds very contradictory, but basically it was about guarding yourself for not loving or craving the things of this world over God.  Bad things like partying, sex, drugs, greed.  But more importantly good things like marriage, children, your home, family, friends, etc.

He warned us about lusting for things and defined lust as a desire that has taken on too much weight and controls you and your behavior.  He said "Only by not lusting for the world can we give ourselves up and really love the world."

He referenced a lot of verses in 1 John but here were two of my favorites:

"For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory though our faith." 1 John 5:4

"And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave.  But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever." 1 John 2:17

The sermon was really good and if you want to listen to it you can go here.  (It isn't posted yet, but should be soon.)  But the sermon was really reinforced today when I sat down to do my bible study for my small group.  We have been working our way through Genesis in what has seriously been the best study we have ever done.  It has made me read these familiar stories with new eyes and really made me see how Jesus was always Plan A for God and how He has been using all of history to tell this wonderful story.

We just finished Creation Unraveled last week and are starting Creation Restored this week.  The first study took us through Genesis 1-11 which includes Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, Noah, and the Tower of Babel.  Today I started the first week of Creation Restored which starts telling the story of Abram.

If you aren't familiar with the story of Abram, basically God makes a covenant with him that all His people (including the Messiah) will come through Abram and he changes his name to Abraham (Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had father Abraham..remember that song?)

But the study first has us look and who Abraham (Abram) and Sarah (Sarai) were when God chose them.  Basically they were on their way to a city that worshiped idols and they could not have children.  They were "barren"- Abram spiritually and Sarai physically.

The study asks "...wonder why God would chose to work through such a couple instead of picking out a man and a woman who better represented the best of what human beings can achieve."  It goes on to say that "...such things don't come from the righteousness of people, or the accomplishment of people, of from being born into the right bloodline." God does not choose us based on the world's standards of worthiness.

It goes on to discuss barrenness   Which I could really relate to right now and when you are in the midst of it leaves you pretty hopeless.  Barrenness isn't just not being able to have children, but feeling like your life is empty and lacking faith and just feeling, well, barren and in the midst of a desert.

So what gives us hope in the midst of "barrenness"?  Faith.  Here's another quote from the study- "Faith isn't an attempt to give us the look of morality.  That's not faith at all.  That isn't Christianity either.  Having faith in God means letting go of everything that our hands are grasping so tightly in our effort to find identity and security- yes, even seemingly good things- and looking toward God to keep us instead."

It goes on to discuss how God asked him to go but didn't tell him where to go.  And even worse, Abraham never got to see with his own eyes the fulfillment of God's promises.  Ten years after God had promised him "descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky", he and Sarah were still childless and old.  "...the gap between the promise and their fulfillment was starting to wear on him." (and us!)  He complained to God that he was childless and old and would have no heir like God had promised.

I loved this passage from the study:
"I can't think of a single person who would have a hard time relating to Abraham here.  We've all felt dissatisfied with some of God's promises.  He promised to never leave or forsake us, for example, but there are definitely times we feel like we've been on our own for a while.  He promised to conform us to the image of His Son, but we can't seem to get free from the power of sin.  He promised to hear us when we cry out to Him, but there are times when the sky feels like brass, bouncing back our prayers."

That is exactly how I have been feeling lately.

Thank God for this message at just the right time.

The study goes on to ponder "can't God give us something like the sign He gave to Abraham? can we know, like Abraham knew, that God will keep His promises?  Here is the answer:

"And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, "This is My body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of Me." In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, "This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you" (Luke 22:19-20)

That is what I am going to be focusing on this Lent season.  Not the suffering because I have been up to my eyeballs wallowing in self-pity for my "suffering".  And even though it is but a scratch compared to Christ sufferings, my faith cannot withstand focusing on suffering right now.

So I am focusing on the gift.  And the promise.  And knowing that at times like this when my faith is weak and I'm so distracted by the things of this world, that someone has already believed and trusted perfectly for me.  Thank God!  So thankful for Jesus!  So thankful for this study.

And I'm so incredibly thankful for my Bible study girls and other girl friends this week who held me up with prayer and encouragement when I was weak.  If you think you can walk this journey of faith alone, I am telling you, you can't.  You need others to remind you of truth constantly and hold you up and encourage you when the world beats you down.  Find a church and/or small group to live your life with and study God's word with.  It makes all the difference in the world!

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Bachelor episode that made me want to punch someone in the face

Ok so prior to tonight's episode of The Bachelor I admit I was a little emotionally unstable.  I might have cried in the car on my way home from work.  I've told you guys for the last few months I have felt frustrated and it hasn't gotten any better.  It seems like every day either God or the devil or fate or whoever just keeps poking let's see how far we can push this girl before she breaks.

So when within the first five minutes of the episode when Tierra calls Ashlee a "cougar" and taunts "She's 32 years old.  Why isn't she settled down?" It made me want to punch her and cry at the same time.

I am 32.  I'm not settled down.  And I don't f-ing know why ok?!  It may be because I wasted too much of my time on losers in my teens and twenties.  It may be because I am too afraid to put myself out there because I've had my heart broken one too many times.  It may be because I'm a hopeless romantic and haven't found my movie love. And yeah maybe movie love doesn't exist.  It may be because I made a few mistakes.  It may be because I was focused on working and building my own life.  It may be because maybe my first love was my soul mate and he died way too early.  It may be because I'm not pretty enough...not outgoing enough...not slutty enough...too selfish...too lazy...too quiet...i.don't.know.

But I feel like that is what everyone thinks of me.  That something is wrong with me because I'm not married.  Trust me I want to get married.  I want to have a family.  But if I admit that I am too desperate and if I try to deny it then I'm just a sad spinster.  So what the hell do I do?

I often wonder the same thing "Why am I still single?"  "Is something wrong with me?"  "Am I too far past my prime that it will never happen now?"

Tierra brings up Ashlee being 32 again when blaming everything that is going bad for her on everyone else.  She again implies that something is wrong with her for not being settled down already and I just wanted to scream "I hope you never freaking get married Tierra!!!!"  Life does not always go by plan.  Just because you aren't settled down by 30 it doesn't mean that something is wrong with you or "you aren't good with men".

Oh man!  What a way to make single girls feel like crap during the week of Valentine's Day.  I hope Tierra goes in to the witness protection program or something because I know if I ever run into her I will have to give her a good hard b**** slap for single gals everywhere. (and no I have never slapped anyone, but she would totally be worth it.)

I hope she is seriously embarrassed by her behavior on the show (doubtful) and I can't wait to see what she has to say on the women tell all show ($100 bucks she's too chicken to show her face).  And I'm sure if she doesn't show up, it will be the girls fault.

Tierra you suck!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sorry for the Silence

Last week was super busy.

We had a Global Summit at work.

This little girl came in to the world.

How freaking cute is she??

I went here for a friend's birthday


I went to a friend's house for the superbowl and they pulled out some of these which made my freaking month!

best. beer. ever.

And I'm still laughing over this ad:

Hopefully I'll get myself together and get back to regular posting this week!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pinterest Inspired Dinners

I have TONS of recipes  pinned on Pinterest.  I doubt I will ever make it through them all, but I got to try out two new ones last week.

First up...Mexican Lasagna!


1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup
1/4 cup milk
1 package (about 1 ounce) fajita seasoning mix
1 pound ground beef
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's Condensed Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves, crushed
12 corn tortillas (5-to 6- inch)
Chopped tomatoes (optional)
Sliced green onions (optional)


Stir cheese soup, milk and half the fajita seasoning in medium bowl until mixture is smooth.

Cook beef in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until well browned, stirring often to separate meat. Pour off any fat.

Now here is where I had to improvise...
Stir mushroom soup, water, chili powder, oregano and remaining fajita seasoning in skillet and heat to a boil.

Well I realized I did not have chili powder after I was already in the middle of this, so I had to find a substitute.  I used cayenne pepper!  I was nervous this was going to make it too spicy but it really didn't at all.  In fact when I make this again I am going to try a few things to make it even more spicy!

Reduce heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

Place 3 tortillas in the bottom of a 2-quart shallow baking dish, overlapping slightly.

I took the third one and tore it in half to fit the dish better.

Spread 1 cup beef mixture over the tortillas. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining tortillas. Spread the cheese soup mixture over the tortillas.

Bake at 350°F. for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbling. Let stand for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the tomatoes and onions, if desired.

I didn't have any green onions so I used diced chilies.

Here's how mine turned out...

This was pretty good and really easy so I think I will probably make it again.  But I might tweak this and add some corn and black beans and maybe more cayenne pepper and chili powder.  Any other suggestions?

I also tried this:

Source: via ncsuz on Pinterest

The pin said Spaghetti Aglio... Garlic, chili flakes, olive oil, salt and pepper. so simple.

Well I didn't have any garlic so I substituted oregano and I added Parmesan cheese.

Here's how mine turned out..

This was very light and easy.  Although I do think I went too heavy on the chili flakes because it was a little spicy!

What's been your favorite Pinterest Inspired meal?

Linking up:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Snippets- I can't get no satisfaction

So I know I am usually upbeat and try to be inspirational in these posts, but I have a confession to make.  I'm not satisfied.  I've been feeling very unsatisfied lately.  I've felt kind of like a failure as a Christian because I know I should feel satisfied. How do I know?  Just read some of these verses:

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:35

And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:11

The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm. Proverbs 19:23

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

But my eyes cannot stay focused on Jesus.  I keep getting distracted by all these things that I want...

Like a new house, a new car, a hot body that is bikini ready at a moment's notice, a maid, a family, a big family with at least four kids, prince charming, a hot prince charming that is head over heels for me and loves Jesus, a massage, a vacation, a turquoise bauble necklace, a promotion, an award, some recognition for my work, to be beautiful, to be recognized for my beauty, to be loved...I could go on and on.

And I know even if I got these things they would not satisfy me.  Just read the book of Ecclesiastes.  Or look at Hollywood.  All those beautiful, rich people who could have whatever they want with a snap of their fingers...they don't seem to be satisfied either.

I"m committing the sin of coveting.  I'm coveting everything everyone around me has, or everything society tells me I should have and I can't stop.  I really don't know what is going on right now but something has to change because I just keep trying to fill this yearning with food and laziness and despair and it keeps getting worse.  I know it sounds horrible and pathetic but it isn't as bad as I am making it seem here on a daily basis.  Normally I am fine.  I'm just getting really annoyed by this lingering "unsatisfied" feeling.

So I'm going to try some different things.  I started some new devotionals.  One is a "soul cleanse" and the other is a devotional on fasting.  I am going to try fasting at least once a week.  I am going to chase after God and ask Him to satisfy this craving and try to stop "wanting" so much.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Are you a No Reply blogger?? How to fix that!

One of my biggest pet peeves in blogland is when someone comments on my blog and I go to reply to them and I get this: "blogger@noreply-comment".  In fact back in 2011 I included that in one of my Blogging Tips posts.  (You should go read that post.  I still stand by all the tips in it!)

So imagine how horrified I was this week when the awesome Taylor replied to a comment I left her and included this at the end:

"...Anyway, attach your email to your blog so when I hit respond to your comment it doesn't show up at "blogger@noreply-comment"

WHAAATT!?  I was a no-reply blogger!?  How the heck did that happen??

I did a google search because after poking around my profile for a few minutes I could not figure out what had happened.  

Well apparently Blogger profiles were switched to link to your Google+ account at some point and somehow that breaks whatever you had set up to allow people to email you back when you comment on their blogs.  (Makes me hate Google+ even more!)

Anyway, I found a great tutorial Jenniffier did on how to fix it and hopefully have resolved the issue now.  If you comment on blogs regularly I highly suggest you do this!  It so much nicer when you can just hit reply to respond to a comment!  

I commented on my own post yesterday and it worked, but who knows if that was just because it was my own blog?  So if I comment on your blog and you still get the stupid no-reply thing when trying to respond, please let me know! 

If I had it to do all over again I would probably pick a different platform than Blogger.  They just have done so many things like this over the years that drive me batty!  But I have so much content here now that I can't imagine moving.  Who knows?  Maybe one day I will.

And how freaking awesome is Taylor that she took the time to find my email address to respond to my comment!?  That is going above and beyond the blogger call of duty!  Thanks Taylor!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Saw it. Pinned it. Did it. - Re-use those candle jars

It all started with this pin:

Source: via ncsuz on Pinterest

I recognized the jar as being from a Bath & Body Works candle because I use those all the time.  And I thought "why did I never think of this before!?!"  (Doesn't Pinterest always do that to you?)

It was super easy.  Just put the jar in the freezer.  (I do mine overnight usually.)

The use a knife and tap on the wax until it breaks apart.  Then it all come out super easily.

Then remove all the stickers and wash any residual wax out.


This one I used for cotton balls in the bathroom.

And another one I use as a catch-all jar in the kitchen.  It had knick-knacks like my ear-buds, spare change, bobby pins, and lip gloss in it.  Much better to be in a cute jar than a mess on the counter!

I'm thinking of using some to do this next Thanksgiving:

Or you could do "LOVE" for valentines day or "JOY" for Christmas.  Or you could do "HOME" just for everyday.

So lesson learned: Don't throw out those used up candles!  There are so many possibilities for them!

Linking up!