Playing catch up.

Hey guys!  So I feel a bit out of the loop.  To update you on what’s been going on, I met with my friend, Dustin, Wednesday afternoon to work on the blog.

I was switching from being hosted by wordpress to being self-hosted.  Don’t even ask me what that means … I just know that it means I have more options.

So first we met at Panera.  While I was waiting for Dustin to arrive, I got a pumpkin muffin and a FREE caramel latte (thanks to my mom’s MyPanera card!).

It was a super delicious “lunch” (never mind the fact that it was pure sugar and devoid of any and all nutrients).

After working at Panera for 30 minutes, we were kicked off the free Wi-Fi.  Grr.

So we moved over to McDonald’s because it also has free wireless internet.  Sure, there were several small children screaming bloody murder in the background.  But it’s a small price to pay for an internet connection, right?

Dustin loves! 😛

However, the connection was crazy-slow.  So after a couple of hours, we called it a day.  By that point, Dustin had a good idea about what I wanted for the blog.  So he said he’d just go home and finish it.

Since saying good-bye to Dustin, I’ve been waiting to see my new blog “magically” appear.  But the magic isn’t moving as quickly as I would like.  Dustin said it could take up to 48 hours.  Boo!  So I have given up waiting, and I finally decided to just post like normal. 🙂


Warning: Bachelorette and Big Brother spoilers ahead!

On to much more important topics …

… what did everyone think of the season finale of “The Bachelorette??”

I’ve known it was going to be JP for weeks now.  But I still enjoyed every cheesy second of
the finale.

I felt so bad for Ben, but you know he’ll find a cute new girlfriend in no time.

Bachelorette Pics

Thoughts on Ashley’s sister and her very loud opinions?  I was OK with her, for the most part.  I really think she was just trying to look out for her sister.  She was a little too blunt about it, and I don’t think you can judge someone on one question, but she’s since apologized and hopefully they can all move on!

And who do you think is going to be the next Bachelor or Bachelorette?  Will it be Emily (Brad’s ex-fiancé)?  I’ve also heard rumors that it could be Ryan from Ashley’s season.  Gotta be honest … I would much prefer Emily to Ryan.  I was not a Ryan fan by the time he left!  He’s a little too over the top for me.


And thoughts on “Big Brother?”

OK I actually wrote down some of Brenchel’s (that would be Brendon and Rachel combined) lines last night, because they just killed me.

Rachel (talking about Daniele and drawing the first sword): “Well I’m back with Excalibur, and that sword cannot be removed.”  Huh?

Brendon (comforting Rachel by saying that he’ll always be in her heart or something gross like that): “It’s right behind your ‘insert big heart-related word here.’ I only know that because I’m a PhD student.”

Brendon (comforting Rachel again): “I’m going to invent something that’s going to cure cancer.”

Rachel’s reply: “I want five hundred thousand dollars.”

Ahhh they are seriously cartoon characters.  It’s hilarious.



So who do you think is going home tonight?  Obviously we all hope Brendon will be leaving (if you feel otherwise, you are no longer my friend).  My thoughts are that Jeff, Shelley, Kalia, and Lawon will all vote to keep Jordan in the house, while Porche, Rachel, and Adam will vote to keep Brendon.  But that’s just my prediction!

Hope everyone has a great Thursday!  Continue to stay tuned to see my new blog layout … hopefully it’s worth the wait! 😛

Question for ya …

If you’re a blogger, is your blog self-hosted or otherwise?  Is all of this technology stuff confusing to anyone else??

Tell me yours thoughts on “The Bachelorette” or “Big Brother!” 🙂

Posted in Blogging, Television | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

What I Ate Wednesday

Good morning, friends. 🙂

Jenn at Peas and Crayons not only had the great idea for the “This Recipe Rocks!” post, but she also had the neat idea of doing the “What I Ate Wednesday” (WIAW) post.

The concept is a once-a-week “food diary.”  Every Wednesday, tons and tons of bloggers do WIAW posts, and then link them back to Jenn’s page.  And it’s kind of a cool way to get ideas on products to buy, recipes to make, etc!

So this is my first “official” WIAW post!  The funny thing is, because I often post on Wednesday mornings, I’m sharing the foods that I ate on Tuesday, not Wednesday.  Go figure. 😉

Breakfast was banana oatmeal.

This oatmeal had:

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • spoonful brown sugar
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1/2 banana
  • Fiber One Honey Squares
  • Chopped walnuts

Everything (but the last 2 ingredients) was heated up in the microwave, then I finished it off with the dry cereal and walnuts.  Tastes like banana bread.  Yum! 🙂

I had a mid-morning snack of a super-juicy plum.

For lunch, I tried an idea that I had seen on Courtney’s blog recently.  She had put pickles in her salad, which I had never tried before!

It was actually pretty good!  I topped the mixture with red wine vinegar and just a bit of extra-virgin olive oil, and I really enjoyed this combination of flavors!

Lunch wasn’t just a salad, of course.  I also baked up a couple of these:

MorningStar Farms Chik Patties.  They actually aren’t chicken … they’re made with soy.  But I swear, they taste just like the chicken patties that you had as a kid.  I bake them in the oven and add a little ketchup and mustard.  So good!

Later in the afternoon, I had a bowl of Fiber One Honey Squares with skim milk.

Really tasty, and very filling!

I’ve heard some people say that this cereal tastes like “Cinnamon Toast Crunch.”  I think that’s pushing it a little, but I still think it’s really good!  I think Brandon would even like it. 😉

Dinner was delicious, if I do say so myself!

I made my “Spicy Shrimp and Linguine.”  It’s so good.  Light and healthy, but super flavorful.  But I can’t share the recipe quite yet.  You’ll be able to see it sometime next week on Janae’s blog, Hungry Runner Girl.  So you’ll have to check out her blog for the recipe.  But really, you should be checking out her blog anyways … she’s the funniest, tiniest garbage disposal that I’ve ever seen!! 😛  I think she must have a hollow leg … ?

For dessert, I had one of these:

One of the Carrot Cupcakes I made a while ago.  I had frozen a bunch of them, because I knew I couldn’t eat 24  cupcakes in just a few days (I love dessert, but that’s a little extreme … even for me!!).

And that’s it!  My first WIAW post.  Have a great Wednesday, everyone!

Posted in Food, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

A little giggle.

I’ve done absolutely nothing “newsworthy” today, so this is going to be a pretty short post.

But here’s a little something to make you giggle …

… me, age 7 (I think).

I’m with my cousin, Michael, and my great-grandmother in that picture.  We were visiting her in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  She has since passed, but we continue to keep her memory in our hearts.  I remember her most for her smile, her hugs, and her killer chocolate chip cookies (does that last part really surprise you?). 🙂

On a completely separate note, I’m really exciting to be meeting with a friend of mine and Brandon’s tomorrow, to work on “beautifying” the blog a little!  And hopefully he can help me fix the issue I’m having commenting on other people’s blogs.  As I’ve mentioned before, a big part of blogging is participating in the “blogging community”, so it’s driving me a little “coo-coo coco puffs” that all of my comments are going to people’s spam folders.

But ladies I still love all of you, even if I can’t tell ya so every day. 😉

Have a great evening everyone!!!

Posted in Blogging, Family | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Martha Stewart meets MIL.

I’d like to introduce you to my mother-in-law, Cheri.

Cheri and George ... the in-laws 🙂

Cheri has a heart of gold.  She would truly do anything for the people she loves.

She is also the closest thing to Martha Stewart that I’ve ever known.

Let me paint a little picture for you.  The very first time I met Brandon’s parents, I had just gotten off of a plane from Florida, and it was probably 11:00 at night.  I was a hot mess, and I felt completely inadequate as Brandon drove up to a beautiful house.

As we walked inside, I noticed that every light in the house was turned on.  The house was perfectly decorated, and there was music playing softly in the background.

When Brandon’s parents came out to greet us, they were both very warm and welcoming.  Cheri and I talked nonstop, as Brandon and his father sat back and listened patiently.

And when I was shown the room that I would be staying in, I found quite a surprise waiting for me.

All of that was for me.  And let me tell you, that was not the last welcome basket that I ever received.  For a solid year, every time I came to visit, there was a gift waiting for me.

Christmas …

Valentine’s Day …

… you get the idea.

So when I heard that Brandon’s aunt and cousins were going to be driving down from Toledo last night for a visit, I should have known …

… I should have known that it wouldn’t just be a “pizza and chit-chat” kind of night.

Oh no.

When Aunt Joy and Gabrielle first arrived, they were greeted with hugs and flowers …

… however, they soon realized that they had to “sing for their supper.” 😉

Yep, they were put to work, making centerpieces for the dining room table.

They still look a little shell-shocked, don’t ya think?

And it didn’t end there …

put on your happy face! 😉

… next came putting the finishing touches on dessert.

In the meantime, Mary-Allison and Mia were both starving.

"I'm smiling now, but if you don't feed me soon, those flowers will be on the floor!"

And they were starting to revolt …


… pre-dinner brownie, anyone?

I will say that I was pleasantly surprised that Cheri opted for plastic, over fine-china on this particular occasion.  This is a rarity in her household. 🙂

FYI, the napkins are to be folded into triangles, NOT rectangles.

And using blue napkins only is not acceptable.  Multi-colored napkins to match the multi-colored flowers, please.

In case you were wondering. 😉

"There IS a method to my madness, people!!"

But finally, all of the food was ready to go.

taco salad ... sooo good!

I mean, sure it was midnight, and most normal people were sleeping.  But hey, at least it all looked pretty, right?

parsley potatoes. lots of butter = love.

OK, I may be exaggerating.  It was more like 6:30.  We just get cranky when we’re hungry. 😉

Dinner was delicious.  Cheri’s famous chicken sandwiches, parsley potatoes, taco salad, and fruit.  Well worth the wait.

Cousin Jessica was lucky enough sadly had to work late, so she got there after we had started eating.

Gabrielle, Mary-Allison, and Jessica

After dinner came not one, but TWO desserts.

brownies and mini cherry cheesecakes

I’m actually making those mini-cheesecakes later this week, so stay tuned for the recipe! 🙂

Full bellies = lots of smiles!

OK so I’ve done a lot of teasing in this post.  And I’m sure if my husband is reading this, he’s probably had a stroke by now. 😉

But let me just say that Cheri knew I’d be posting about dinner today.  And she knew that there would be teasing involved.  We tease her all of the time, but she also knows how much we LOVE and APPRECIATE her!  She’s the rock of the family, and I don’t know what we’d do without her.

I mean without her, I would have never learned how to fold a cloth napkin properly!

Thanksgiving 2009

Hmmm … now that I think about it, I may need some refresher lessons, Cheri! 😉

So let’s raise a glass to our own, personal Martha Stewart!  We love you, just as you are!!!!!

Question for ya …

Do you get along with your in-laws (come on, you knew it was coming!)?

I definitely get along with my in-laws (well, until today haha! jk!).  I’m incredibly blessed to have married into an awesome family.

Are you more “pizza and sweats” or “tea and fine china?”

I can do both, but I’d say I lean more towards “pizza and sweats.”

Posted in Family, Food | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Quick note to my fellow bloggers … for some reason, many of my comments on other blogs seem to be going to spam again.  Until I get it fixed, just know that I may be commenting, even if you aren’t seeing it! :/


Today I’m posting another one of my super easy “recipes” (I always put this word in quotes when it’s so easy that I shouldn’t even call it a recipe!).

I love sweet potato fries.  I like them at restaurants, bought in a bag in the frozen food section, or made from scratch and baked in the oven.  Today I’m going to be talking about the latter option. 🙂

When I make my sweet potato fries, I usually cut the whole sweet potato in half length-wise first.  Then I cut each half into small pieces.

example of how I cut them

I have found that they cook faster and get nice and brown this way.

Probably about a month ago, I read on someone’s blog (I’m sorry, I don’t remember whose blog it was!) that they soak their sweet potato slices in cold water to help get them crispy.

So I decided to try that trick this time.

I soaked them in ice water for about 10 minutes.

Then I dried them off.

Let me just say, I don’t think this extra step did anything for me … so feel free to leave it out.  Next time, I may try baking them on a cooling rack, because that’s another trick that I heard helps make them crispier!

After they were all dried, I put them back in the bowl and added a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil (I think it’s important to use the “extra-virgin” for this recipe, because it adds a lot of flavor to the fries).

After stirring the fries up and getting them coated, I added some Cajun seasoning and stirred again.  You can use whatever seasoning you like … I just think it adds a little extra “zip.” 😉

Then I spread all of the fries out onto a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray.

Make sure that they are spread out well, as it helps them cook faster.

Then I stuck them in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

At the very end, I turned on the broiler for a couple of minutes to get them browned around the edges (but keep an eye on them, because that broiler works quickly!!).

I served them with my “Go-to Chicken.”

Delicious and healthy.  Although they aren’t as crispy as I would like, they are still extremely tasty and the broiler helped give them a nice brown color and a bit of texture.

Didn’t know sweet potatoes were healthy?  Click on the link to read an article on the health benefits of sweet potatoes.  But just to clarify, that doesn’t mean that your grandma’s sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and brown sugar qualifies as a “health food.”  Although, I would still happily eat it! 😉

Question for ya …

Do you like sweet potatoes?  If you’ve ever made the fries at home, any tips on getting them really crispy?

Posted in Food, Recipes | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Reflecting on July

Hello, and welcome to August!

Can you believe it’s already August 1st?  I go back to work 1 week from today.  I still cannot believe how quickly July has flown by.

This morning I wanted to look back on the month of July and review all of the fun things I did.  It’s been a great month, and I’m not quite ready to say good-bye! 😉

Brandon and I took an incredible trip to Chicago over the 4th of July weekend.  We had an absolute blast on this trip.  Here are some of the posts from that weekend:

Tastes like Chicken

Pass the cheese, please.

Eating our way through Chicago …

Sugar rush.

I went to Florida for a week to visit my mom in Sarasota.  Brandon was also down there that week working, and then he was able to spend some time with us in Sarasota on the weekend.  Here’s a quick recap of that trip:

Florida or bust!

The Broken Egg

A mani, a pedi … and a fro-yo?

Utterly Reese’s

The Bambino

Sun and Sand!

The Beachhouse Restaurant

It was really a great week, visiting my mom, Sophie (the puppy!), and friends!  It was over way too quickly, and I’m looking forward to my next trip back! 🙂

I also tried a bunch of different recipes during the month of July.  Here’s just a few:

Slow Movin’ BBQ Chicken

Banana Toffee Cupcakes

Crispy Apricot Pork Chops

Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oat Cookies

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

The Green Monkey

Chocolate Buttermilk Bread Pudding

Go-to Chicken Recipe

Some of the other fun activities from July include …

– Celebrating my MIL’s birthday!

– Having our niece come over to play

– Meeting friends from work for lunch

– Discussing some funny “lessons” in marriage

And that was July in a nutshell!! 🙂

Question for ya …

What was your favorite part of July?

What are you most looking forward to in August?

I’m looking forward to visiting some of my fabulous friends when we drive down for the Kentucky State Fair later this month! 🙂

Posted in Blogging, Recipes, Travel | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Sunday Funday!

Today was a super fun day.

We had the opportunity to visit some friends who were from my church in Florida, but now live in Dayton!

Chad and Candace are an amazing couple.  Chad was a pastor at my church in Florida, but in December, he accepted a Senior Pastor position at a church in the Dayton, Ohio area.

visiting their church

We haven’t had an opportunity to get together since their move, but today that finally changed!  Our SIL, Christi, was the one who finally got the ball rolling on this visit (she also attended the church in Florida, and was friends with Candace).  Thank you, Christi, for being the organized one!

It was a neat day to visit, because the church was doing their “Vacation Bible School” performance.  This year’s theme was “Big Apple Adventure,” and they had awesome props and scenery to go with the “New York” theme.

The kids put on an adorable performance.

Hadley, Chad and Candace’s little girl, is 3rd from the left in the white shorts.  I may be biased, but isn’t she the cutest?!

After church, we all went to Olive Garden for lunch.

I got the lunch-sized portion of their Chicken Scampi.  It’s my favorite … and Brandon loves how fantastic my breath smells after eating so much garlic. 😉

At lunch, we were kept entertained by Candace and Chad’s son, Shepherd.

I can still see you, Shep! 😉

Candace and Chad adopted Shep when he was just a baby.  He’s now 4 years old, and the sweetest, most energetic little boy you’ve ever met.

He’s also a ladies’ man.  Within a 10-minute time span, I saw him propose marriage to at least 3 different women.  You go, Shep.

Mary-Allison had a blast playing with Hadley.  It was as if they had never been apart.

Lunch was great.  Most of the conversation was spent talking about the differences between Florida and Ohio.  So of course, major conversation points included the weather, the cost of living (housing and electricity is cheaper in Ohio, but dry cleaning and mani’s/pedi’s are more expensive … go figure!), and the differences in grocery stores (I’m still mourning the loss of my precious Publix).

Somehow Shep managed to wind up with his shirt on backward!

I’m so glad that we finally got together.  It was so good seeing all of them, especially Candace.  She was a great support when Brandon and I were doing the long-distance dating thing.  And she just has amazing energy.  Christi and I agreed that we both want to bottle it up for ourselves! 😉

Sadly, soon we were saying our good-byes …

saying good-bye to Miss Candace

… but hopefully we’ll see them again soon!

The car ride home was spent listening to the soundtrack from “Tangled” and watching Mary-Allison play “Angry Birds” on Uncle B’s cell phone.  She’s actually pretty darn good … I think better than me (although that’s really not saying much)!

We got back a little bit ago, and I hit up the gym.  I did 35 minutes of interval training on the treadmill.  It wasn’t very intense today (I think that Chicken Scampi was holding me down!), but it just felt good to break a sweat.

Tonight I was going to cook dinner, and then post the recipes tomorrow … but I’m still stuffed from lunch.  So dinner will probably consist of leftover pizza for Brandon and PB & J for me.  Yep … just call me “Super-Wife!” 😉

Question for ya …

Tell me something fun you did this weekend!

What’s for dinner at YOUR house?

Posted in Faith, Family, Fitness, Food, Friends, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments