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Welcome to my world: Where I'm just living my life the best that I know how... Day by day.

Friday, August 3, 2012

July Foodie Reveal Day!

The Lean Green BeanIt's that time again! July was my second month as a Foodie Penpal, and I couldn't have asked for a better match! This time, I'm not going to give a description of the program, but if you are interested, you can check it out here. Let me tell you a little bit about Jennifer. Born and raised in Rhode Island, she is coming up on her 10-year anniversary with the place she now calls home, Denver, CO, and with her husband Jeremy! Since Jennifer first contacted me, we have become very close and exchanged a number of emails. We really hit it off right away! I never expected to become so close with someone through this program, but I am thoroughly grateful. Jennifer and I are like long lost friends. You know those friends that you have had for what seems like forever, you can tell them anything, and you always look forward to hearing from them or to telling them something? Well, Jennifer and I have become those friends. I have sent her some of the longest emails I have ever typed, and as soon as I send them, I look forward to her response. We have really enjoyed getting to know each other, and we only continue to grow closer day by day. If you guys only knew how GREAT she has been! There aren't enough words in the world to describe what an amazing friend she has become. It seems like we have been through a lifetime of trials and tribulations together, and I cannot begin to relate that to you. Jennifer, where have you been my whole life?!

I may not be able to explain the bond between Jennifer and me, but I can go into great detail about the AWESOME package she sent! First of all, I will tell you about the two items I have not yet experienced, unfortunately: the 2 alarm chili kit and the ranch dressing packet. The two alarm chili kit looks delicious and SO easy. All I have to do is add a pound of beef! The ranch dressing packet goes along with the yummy-looking recipe Jennifer included. It also looks very easy; all I have to add is two ingredients! She says it goes great with Ritz chips, which I can imagine it will. "Delicious" and "easy" are the two main inspirations for just about EVERYTHING I make. I am heading back down to Jacksonville on Saturday, and I plan on bringing them with me to make. I can't wait to give them a try, and they both look like things Justin and I will both thoroughly enjoy! I'll let you know how they turn out. 

Now, onto what I HAVE gotten to in the box. The first item that caught my attention in the package was a clear, plastic container filled with cookies that look like ice cream cones. The label reads "Gianna's Handmade Baked Goods; All Natural Scoops Sanded Sugar Cookies." I remember my first thought being, "OH MY GOSH, if those cookies TASTE as good as they LOOK, I'm in big trouble!" Well, they were. I am a huge fan of sprinkles. To me, sprinkles are kind of like bacon; they make everything better! To get a waffle-cone-like effect, there is caramel drizzled over the cookie. These cookies are absolutely fabulous in every way imaginable, and I love seeing the words "all natural" on the things I eat! Guess what? You can order these online as well as many other goodies made by Gianna! Check out her website here.
Next, I found the bag of toasted pita snacks called "Crispy Pitas" made by Ozery Bakery Inc. These too are all natural, and they can be found in four different flavors. The flavor of pita chips Jennifer sent me was rosemary garlic. She decided to send me these because the whole foods store she goes to carries Ozery pitas, so she thought these would be just as awesome, and they are! I wish I would have stopped eating them to go get some hummus. I think these would go PERFECT with some hummus. Anyways, you can check out the Ozery website and products here! The next thing I discovered in the box just put a big dumb grin on my face. Jennifer, how did you know I love granola?! This was not just any granola, this was VANILLA granola! I don't know what it is about my first two foodie penpals sending me granola, but keep it coming people! This particular granola is made a hop, skip, and a jump or two away from Jennifer in Denver. She enjoys putting it on vanilla yogurt for breakfast, and I'm sure I will too. As for now, this granola is only going one place: in my mouth. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, and do not stop in any yogurt along the way. I'm such a granola freak. Can you blame me? This granola is mouth-watering! And guess what y'all? Also all natural! Check it out here. Onto the "Justin's nut butter" packets. All I can say is, YUM! I hope I can find these close to home. They are great to take on the go, and as Jennifer suggested to me, it goes great on fruit, especially apples! She also sent me a bear of honey, and I must say, it is not like other honey. I can't quite put my finger on what is different about it, but I'm not complaining! I love to put honey on toast. Last, but not least, the jerky. This is by no means any ordinary jerky. It is completely meatless. Meatless jerky? Before seeing this item, I would have though that was a contradictory statement, an oxymoron if you must. However, instead of meat, this jerky is made of shitake mushrooms! I bet you didn't see that coming! Jennifer knew she was daring sending something that would be so outlandish to me, but I love trying new things! I must say, it wasn't my favorite thing in the world, but it definitely wasn't terrible. One thing I can say is that it tasted better than it smelled. I really shouldn't smell food before I eat it. I am a very unbiased and nonjudgmental person, but unfortunately, my sense of smell is quite judgmental and often quite condescending. Overall, I think my biggest issue was grasping the fact that it wasn't meat! What an exciting and unexpected snack!            

Thank you so much Jennifer for everything! I enjoy getting to know you more and more every day, and I am so excited to have been matched up with you for July. I am still just ecstatic about everything that you sent me in my package, and I can't wait to get to the two items I haven't had a chance to get to! I will definitely let you know what I think about them.      

Changing the subject, this past weekend I went to my sister and brother-in-law's in North Carolina. I was so excited to see them and my almost 6-month-old nephew, Carter! He wasn't quite himself all weekend, as he and I both were a little sick. We still had a blast, even with our runny noses. I look forward to seeing them and the rest of my family again at our "cabin adventure getaway" in Asheville, NC later this month!

On another note, as I previously mentioned, I will be heading back to Jacksonville, FL on Saturday. I will be driving this time, and I will be heading out tomorrow after work. I am going to stay in Macon, GA for the night at my brother and sister-in-law's. I look forward to spending some time with them and my 9-month-old nephew, Andrew, before I continue my trip on to Jacksonville! I have never driven more than 5 hours by myself, so I thought the 9-hour trip to Jacksonville would be a little too much for me in one day. I figured driving 5 hours Friday and 4 hours Saturday would be a much better option. I have off work all week next week, so I don't have to be back to work until the 14th. I'm not sure I will stay down there that long, but I at least have that as an option. Unfortunately, the pipeliners will start drilling into the bay tomorrow. So now they have to have people there around the clock in case something goes wrong. What exactly does that mean? Justin's work schedule is now 6pm to 6am, 7 days a week. BUMMER! That will take some getting used to. He is going to be so worn out, bless his heart. However, this also means the job is almost over, so he will be done soon, and hopefully home in the next couple weeks! I'm excited to take another vacation and spend some time with Justin before I go back to school! I am absolutely dreading the 27th. Not a hair on my body wants to go back to school. I just keep reminding myself that in 9 months from now, I will be holding two degrees in my hand, and nursing school will be OVER. I just hope I can live to see that day!

Have a great weekend y'all!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Time for a vacation. Jacksonville, FL it is!

Long distance relationships are tough. There isn't anything easy about them. However, they say "absence makes the heart grow fonder." I don't know who "they" are, and although at times I might disagree, this time I think "they" are right. Justin has been in Jacksonville for about a month and a half now. The Foodie Penpal packages I have been sending/receiving gave me an idea. Why not send Justin a little care package? I know what you guys are thinking, didn't we break up before he left? Yes, we sure did, but things have seemed unfinished. So, I decided sending him a package would be the perfect thing to show him that he still means a great deal to me and to give him something to make his week a little better. I am not the biggest fan of sharing personal matters publicly, but I thought I would share what I did in case you could use some ideas.

First of all,  I made him some homemade treats--something sweet, something salty, and something that was both sweet and salty. This worked out really conveniently because I was getting my Foodie Penpal Package ready, so I just split the treats in half and sent some treats to both my penpal and to Justin. For something sweet, I made "puppy chow," a family favorite. It is a mixture of Chex cereal, melted chocolate and peanut butter, all covered in powdered sugar. Chex likes to call these "Muddy Buddies." Where did we get the name puppy chow? I have no idea. Anyways, you can check out the recipe here. For something salty, I made the original Chex party mix. The recipe for that can be found here. Something great about the Chex recipes is that they are all naturally gluten free. Then, for something that was both sweet and salty, I used a recipe that I found on Pinterest. Gah, I love Pinterest. The treat I made involved laying out pretzels, placing chocolate kisses on them, melting them in the oven, then placing an M&M on the melted chocolate. I followed the recipe, which was very simple, and it was a total disaster. I checked out some other websites for this treat, and they all had pretty much the same recipe. For whatever reason, the chocolate burnt before it melted. I knew you could burn chocolate, but I didn't know it could burn before it melted! Anyways, it was a disaster. I used what kisses I had left and made them in the microwave. They turned out great! I used peanut M&M's instead of regular because I know how much Justin likes them. What man doesn't love food? Especially something homemade, because God and I both know he isn't spending much time in his kitchen baking things. The next thing I put in the package was a photo album. I printed out several pictures from when Justin and I first met until now, and I wrote captions by each photo describing what I remember from whatever memory that picture captured. I didn't fill the album, so I made sure to leave a note saying that I made sure to leave room for the memories that had yet to be made. Even if we didn't get back together as a couple, we would still be great friends and have many more memories to share. Next, I put envelopes labeled for each day of the week, Monday-Sunday. In each envelope, I put a note card with a quote from a song on the CD I made for him (also in the package) and wrote a funny little note on the back. I put a little something in each envelope, so each day of the week he would have something to look forward to opening. I put these in there just to keep him going. It gets hot out there on the job, and he doesn't get too much free time, so I figured a little surprise every day for a week would be refreshing. For example, on Monday's card, I said something about how Mondays really suck, and I put a couple suckers in the envelope. In Sunday's envelope, I wrote a note saying something about how he had worked all work and it was time for a break, and I put some Kit Kat Bars in that envelope. Get the idea? The last thing I added to his box was a stamped envelope addressed to me with a blank piece of paper inside. See where I'm going with that? When he first opened his box, he would see a letter explaining everything in it. I sent the package to Jacksonville on Friday (the 13th actually), expecting him to receive it on that Monday.

Well, Justin got the package....he absolutely loved it and was so excited that I sent it! The next day he was asking me to come visit him in Jacksonville, so I booked a flight to head out on Thursday. I initially planned on driving the nine-hour trip, but after some persuading, he convinced me to fly. I booked a ticket for the earliest flight I could catch that day so that I would be arriving just after Justin got off work. He is staying at a place that is conveniently just minutes from the airport. Anyways, about 11:00 Thursday morning, Southwest was texting me to tell me that my flight had already been delayed for three hours. My 3:15 flight was now scheduled to leave at 6:15pm. After three departure time changes and sitting at the airport what seemed like forever, 6:30pm was the official take off with an arrival at 9pm in Jacksonville. As I am on my way to the baggage claim, Justin texts me asking what airport I was at. My phone was acting up, so I couldn't call or text at all. All I could think was, "Oh my gosh, there is one major airport in Jacksonville, please tell me you aren't really asking me that question!!" Once I got my bags, my phone stopped being crazy, and I called him. He told me he was there waiting and described to me where he was parked. He was nowhere to be seen. He said there is no way I could miss him...but once again, he was nowhere to be seen. That's when he said, "You are at St. John's airport, right?"...and I followed with a quite agitated, "No, I'm at Jackson International." So, he tells me he will figure out how far he is away from there. At this point, I decide I better get comfortable because it's going to be AWHILE. Before I even make it to a bench, there he is pulling around in his truck. Okay, he got me good. I totally fell for it. He was there the whole time!

After not seeing each other for a month and a half, it was pretty obvious we had missed each other. He got out of that truck, came over to me, and all of a sudden I felt totally stupid. I didn't know what to say or what to do, so I just stood there. Luckily, he knew exactly what to do and what to say. All of a sudden it was like we hadn't missed a beat and everything in the world was right. I just wanted to freeze that moment; it was just so perfect.

I had to be back at work today (Tuesday), so we just had a few days to spend together. On Friday night, Justin brought some of his buddies home from work. He insisted on making dinner. I am not one to sit around and be waited on, but every time I tried to help, Justin just told me to sit down and relax. Well, that resulted in a perfectly grilled pork tenderloin, boiling baked beans, and a box of uncooked pasta sitting next to a pot of boiling water. His friends and I joked that he was going to burn the water! He eventually got it all together, and we had a wonderful dinner. What a trooper. On the pipeline, they work six-day weeks, so Saturday he was back to work. That night, we headed over to the beach to eat dinner at Joe's Crab Shack. If you are ever near a Joe's Crab Shack, you better stop and eat some seafood. I had one of their newer "buckets" of queen crab legs, and it was just to die for. It was so good, that we went back to eat there again for a late lunch on Sunday. After Sunday lunch, we headed down to the beach for a few hours. The weather was just wonderful! It wasn't too hot, and there was a nice breeze. The water felt just right too. It made for a lovely afternoon. After being on the beach all day, we were a little hungry and decided to stop at Chili's on the way home for a salad. We both had one of our Chili's favorites, the Quesadilla Explosion Salad, which is a refreshing mixture of fresh greens with grilled chicken, cheese, tomatoes, corn relish, cilantro, and tortilla strips. It is tossed with a delicious citrus-balsamic dressing, and it is served with cheese quesadilla wedges. It was just delightful! All of a sudden it was Monday. It seemed like I just got there, and not it was already time to leave. Thankfully, I had the last flight to Nashville of the day, so my flight didn't leave until 7:40pm. I had dinner ready to go when Justin got home from work so that we could spend some free time together before it was time to go to the airport. Neither of us were ready for me to head back to Tennessee. Usually, when I drive to go visit him, he can convince me to stay an extra day or two, but since I flew and had to be back at work today, I just had to go. We had such a great time together, and we both enjoyed every minute of it. So, you may be wondering where that leaves Justin and me. Are we still apart? Are we back together? I'll get back to y'all on that one!
This is at the park Justin stays at in Jacksonville!
Don't you wish THIS was YOUR front yard?
As for now, I wish I was still in Jacksonville, not sitting here at work. Justin is supposed to be home within the next couple weeks because they are wrapping up this job, but knowing how things go on the pipeline, you just never know how long a couple weeks can really last. Well, if he is down there much longer, I guess I'll just have to take another vacation!

I'll be heading up to Apex, NC on Friday for my little nephew's dedication, and I am so excited!! I can't wait to see that precious little boy, and I'm excited to see my sister and brother-in-law too!

Until then, have a great rest of the week!                    

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Coming soon...

I am so sorry I haven't been filling your eyes and ears with posts the last couple weeks. Busy has been my middle name here lately, but I promise y'all some great posts to make up for it very soon! I am flying to Jacksonville tomorrow, and I have some great new recipes planned. Watch for something on Friday or Saturday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Reveal day!

The Lean Green BeanHey y'all! Guess what? It's Foodie PenPal reveal day! If you didn't read my first post about this program, this was my first month as a Foodie PenPal. Later in the post, I will describe the exact mechanics of it, but in short, I was assigned someone to send a package to, and someone else was assigned to me! The last day of every month is reveal day, the day that I get to tell you about the wonderful goodies I received from my PenPal. Well, today's the day, and I'm so excited to tell you all about it and about who and where I received my package from. My package came from Chantilly, Virginia. The first thing in the box was a letter from my PenPal. She describes herself as a retired grandmother named Sue who always cared about eating healthy. She has a daughter who is a dietitian who keeps her up to date on food happenings. I noticed that the box was packed with newspaper, which I really appreciate because I'm a huge fan of reusing and recycling! Once I reached the bottom of the box, there were several goodies to be found! First, I pulled out a homemade loaf of banana bread, but this was no banana bread like I've had before. Sue added a special ingredient--cocoa nibs that taste like chocolate! Then, I was excited to discover a jar of homemade orange marmalade. The next item I found was a "bear" of honey. Even the honey has a story! My PenPal purchased the honey from Red Gate Farm, from a beekeeper that harvests honey from local bees. The beekeeper's wife raises sheep that she uses to make yarn. How cool! Last, I found a bag of granola. This was also no ordinary granola! Sue receives a box of healthy snacks from NatureBox every month. The proceeds from these packages help feed hungry children in America. I am definitely going to look into ordering from NatureBox myself. Healthy snacks delivered right to my door while supporting a good cause? You just can't beat that!
First of all, everything in my package was absolutely delicious. Not only did everything taste wonderful, but every flavor was refreshing and new to me. I love trying new and different things, and everything in this box was just that. Hands down, my favorite treat was the Agave Citrus Granola. It is unlike any granola I have ever had before. Rather then being hard and crunchy like any granola I've ever had, it was soft, moist, and slightly chewy. Expecting a semi-sweet honey flavor like the typical granola my taste buds are used to, my taste buds danced with pleasure at the taste of the refreshing citrusy-sweetness! This is the most amazingly-delicious granola ever. I ate the entire bag of granola by myself; I didn't even add it to any yogurt or use it as any sort of topping. I ate it by itself, by myself. I had a spoonful or two a day, every day, until there was not a single crumb in the bag. Coming in a close second, the banana bread was simply heavenly. Since I was selfish with the granola, I figured the least I could do was share the banana break with friends and family. Everyone really enjoyed it, and most came back for seconds! My favorite way to eat it was to heat it up in the microwave and then add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the top. The contrasting flavors, textures, and temperatures complemented each other so nicely. I have been enjoying and continue to enjoy the delightful orange marmalade. It is a wonderful addition to some toast or an English Muffin. I haven't gotten into the honey yet, simply because I want to use up the honey I already have before I open this one. I want to make sure it has its day in my pantry! 

Sue ended her letter with, "Hope you like it." Well, I hate to tell you Sue, but I didn't like it. I loved it!

Thank you so much, Sue! I was thrilled for you to send me my very first Foodie PenPal package! I can't wait to do it all over again next month. For those of you who aren't familiar with the program, look below to learn more about it, and feel free to check it out and sign up at Foodie PenPals!       

  • On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
  • Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

Friday, June 29, 2012

"Hairy" situation? It's time for a change!

First of all, let me just say TGIF!
Fridays are just fantastic aren't they?
Okay guys and gals, especially gals,you know when you get bored with something and just need a change? Some people need drastic change; others may need something a little more subtle. Well, I needed a change. I have been growing out my hair for so long now that it has become quite long. I love the versatility of my long hair, so I couldn't quite make the plunge to cut it all off, but I needed a change! So, what could I do? Play with highlights, of course! Okay, this may not seem like a big deal to y'all, but you don't understand. I am a highlights virgin! I welcome change, but change can often be a little frightening...and this was terrifying! However, since I committed to making a change, and I refused to cut off my long hair, I decided to commit to highlights and a slight style change. Hoping this would satisfy my itch for change and not throw me into complete panic mode, I went with it. I am very particular about my hair, and I could not even begin to imagine what it would look like. I did what every girl would do and started Google-ing. Is that even a word? Anyways, I found thousands of absolutely atrocious examples, but I came across some attractive ones as well. My problem was picturing the ones I like on myself. Thank goodness for my trusty dusty hairstylist! I have only let three people EVER cut my hair, one of which being my mom, the second of which stopped styling hair. Thus, I was onto a third. He has moved around to a few different salons, but I follow him wherever he goes! His name is William Evans, more commonly known as Will, and he is currently located at a salon known as "Paula's Escape" in Manchester, Tennessee. Do you want to know how I make sure I always leave the salon happy? Keep reading, and I'll share my essential tips with you!

I don't know how many people I have come across that were unhappy with their new hairdo, color job, cut, or style after visiting a salon. So, I decided I would share my own tips for making sure I leave the salon happy! Follow these simple steps, and you will be sure to be pleased with every salon visit from here on out.

  1. Break up with your hairdresser! You aren't married to your stylist, it's okay to break up with them. Unless you really are married to your hairdresser, then I'm sorry, but you're out of luck here. If you aren't happy with your hair every single time you leave that salon, then that's just not a healthy relationship. It's time to move on to bigger and better things.
  2. Find the right hairdresser! You will need to do a little research. I find that the best way to do this is by word of mouth. Talk to your friends (preferably the ones whose hair you actually like), and see who they recommend. It is also important if you have a really particular hair-type to get in contact with someone whose is similar to yours. Just because a hairdresser was really good for your friend with really thin, short, straight, blonde hair doesn't mean that stylist will be a good match for your thick, long, curly, brown hair. Then again, if they really are an excellent hairdresser, they will be excellent with all hair types. Also, just because a particular salon doesn't have the best reputation, doesn't mean that they don't have the best hairstylist in town working there. You don't need to get caught up in looking for a "good salon," you need to be looking for an individual hairdresser. Sometimes you might have to sort of shop around, but always remember that nothing you do with hair is totally permanent. It will grow back, and the color can be fixed if someone really screws up. 
  3. You get what you pay for! Okay, I'm one of those people who doesn't mind putting some money into my hair, but I also don't get my hair done more than three times a year. If you are on a tight budget and get your hair done all the time this might be a tough step for you. However, for those of you pinching pennies, I highly recommend transitioning to a style that doesn't require major upkeep. That way, you can put a little bit more money into your salon visits since you won't have to visit as often. Let's be real, if jump on the "$5 haircut deal today only" train, you will probably be leaving the salon looking you paid about $5, if that, for your haircut. More than likely, you won't be happy, and you'll end up going somewhere else to get it fixed. So, you just wasted a perfectly good $5.  
  4. Decide what you want! When choosing what you are going to have done to your hair, I find it very helpful to make a "wanted" list. Write a list of what qualities you specifically want, and maybe even more importantly, what you do not want. Look at pictures in magazines and on the internet, and print or cut out the ones you like. Bring the pictures and your list to your stylist. A great hairdresser will be able to tell you what he/she thinks won't work for your hair, and will be able to offer suggestions on how they could tweak it to make it work for you. Be sure to tell your stylist what you want. It is their job to make you happy, it's what they get paid to do. Do not feel like you are inconveniencing anyone because you feel like you are being picky. It's your hair! This is something you wear for the world to see every single day, you have a right to get what you want. With that being said, if in the end you aren't totally satisfied, express your dissatisfaction! Don't wait until you leave, call up your best girlfriend, and start crying about how awful your hair looks. If you call me, I'm going to tell you to turn your sorry behind around and go right back in that salon and have them fix it. Like I said, it is their job to do your hair how you want it. Then again, if they do exactly what you ask and it just isn't working for you, that's quite unfortunate. However, any good salon will want you as a customer and will do whatever they can to fix it and make you happy. If it's absolutely terrible and not like anything you described, run away. Run away fast. Straight to another salon. 
After using these steps and settling down with my current hairdresser, I feel at ease when I go to get my hair done. Usually, I go into the salon, and I tell my hairdresser to do his thing. I trust him with my hair so much, that I know he knows even better than I know myself what will look good on me. Yesterday, I was terrified about getting highlights, but that had nothing to do with my trust in my hairdresser. I just wanted a change and was a little scared of it. I told him I was thinking about some lowlights as well, but his suggestion was not to go that route because he would have to use an almost black color for them to show in my hair, and he thought it would be a little much for me to handle. Also, I told him I wanted to keep my hair long, but I wanted a little bit of a different style. I put him in a tight spot, because I pretty much told him not to cut my hair off, but I want something that looks different. Here Will, you can only choose between option A and option B, but I want option C. Leaving him with little options, he still knew just the thing to do. He cut about four inches off, which sounds like a ton of hair, but my hair is so long that four inches is hardly noticeable. That was necessary to get all my dead ends off and leave the edges nice and healthy. For a different look, he added some layers in around my face. With the highlighting, four inches cut, and layers around my face, I feel like a new woman today. I don't look incredibly different, but it's just different enough to fulfill my need for change. 

What are your thoughts?
Have a fantastic Friday!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Reminiscing with John Denver, Jimmy Buffett, and more

Do you ever wake up with a song stuck in your head? It happens to me all the time, and strangely enough, it's always a song I haven't heard in a long time. I am one of those slightly superstitious people who thinks everything happens for a reason, and I hardly believe in coincidence. I always wonder if there is some sort of a hidden meaning behind why I have a certain song in my head when I wake up. Well, this morning I woke up with a little John Denver stuck in my head...

Almost Heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River
Life is old there, older than the trees
Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, Mountain Mama
Take me home, country roads....

You might think it's strange that I (being just 20 years old) would be so familiar with John Denver's "Country Roads," but there is a good explanation as to why I know this song so well. When I was just a little girl, Mom or Dad would always tuck me into bed. Even with five children, four older than myself, they always made sure that I was taken care of at bedtime. One of my favorite parts of my bedtime routine was listening to Mom or Dad sing me a song. I clearly remember five of my favorites that I always requested, and I can still remember every word to all five songs. Dad must have been fond of John Denver, and I guess I was too since two of my favorites were "Country Roads" and "Grandma's Feather Bed." The thought of a bed that was nine feet high and six feet wide that could hold eight kids, four hound dogs, and a piggy we stole from the shed never failed to put a smile on my face. Jimmy Buffett's  "Come Monday" was also a regular bedtime song. I even remember when my dad would go away for business trips, and I would think of that song just waiting for him to come back home. I would just think, "Come Monday, it'll be all right." 

One of my favorite songs I loved for Mom to sing to me was Joni Mitchell's "One Tin Soldier." As a young child, I never understood the lyrics of this song, but as I have grown older, this song really troubles me. Now, it even leaves me unsettled and sad! If you aren't familiar with this song, it tells a story of a "kingdom on a mountain and the valley folk below" in a situation regarding a "treasure buried deep beneath a stone" on the mountain. The valley people demand to have the treasure for their own, and the kingdom people are more than willing to share. However, the valley people are too selfish to share, and they want it only for themselves. So, they mounted their horses, drew their swords, and killed the mountain people. The valley people then stood by the treasure where they "turned the stone and looked beneath it; PEACE ON EARTH was all it said." Now that I think of it, my other favorite song that Mom used to sing to me was quite sad also! Jeez, this post is getting depressing fast! Well, I won't go into serious detail about this one, but it is "Where Have All the Flowers Gone." Basically, the song is a chain of questions and answers starting with: where have all the flowers gone? Young girls pick them, then where do the young girls go? To young men of course, who become soldiers, go to war, and so on and so forth. The song has a beautiful melody, and although sad, it is very mellow. I also remember Mom singing the hush little baby lullaby, but every time I try to remember the words, I'm pretty sure I make them up. Maybe Mom made them up to, who knows. All I know, is that mama never bought me a mockingbird! 

One day, I hope to have children of my own (hopefully not TOO many years from now). When I do, I will be singing these same songs to them, just like my mom and dad sang them to me. Do you remember being sung to as a child? What songs do you remember?

Also, do you ever wake up with a song stuck in your head?    

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Raving Restaurant Review!

Come eat at The Boulevard!
Happy hump day! Today I bring you a restaurant review from Middle Tennessee. If you have been in the Murfreesboro, TN area and not taken the time to eat a meal at "The Boulevard Bar & Grille" you are totally missing out. There is not anything I have eaten at this restaurant that was not absolutely delicious! Conveniently located on Middle Tennessee Boulevard, not only is the food amazing, but the prices are reasonable, the service is good, and the atmosphere is simply awesome. With a very open layout, this restaurant is very welcoming and relaxed; it definitely doesn't have your average "bar" feeling. It does not feel elegant, and it does not feel, well, like a bar. I would say it is somewhere in between. 

The Boulevard is online!
So, what kind of food does The Boulevard serve? A better question would be, what don't they serve?! I'm pretty sure our waitress came back about three times to see if we were ready to order yet, but there were just so many appetizing choices! From your Southern favorites such as meatloaf and mashed potatoes and gravy, to seafood, pizza, and sandwiches, to several choices of fresh salads, all the way to and mouth-watering burgers of all kinds--they've got it all. Most entrees The Boulevard serves are priced between $8 and $13, and they definitely don't scrimp on the portions either. Don't go unless you're hungry or want leftovers for lunch the next day! The last time I ventured to The Boulevard, I ordered one of their wonderful salads--"The Very Berry Chicken Salad." It was very fresh and contained strawberries, mandarin oranges, pineapple, and candied pecans topped with grilled chicken and raspberry vinaigrette. It was absolutely delicious! My brother went as well, and he ordered the "Honey Crispy Chicken Salad" served with honey mustard dressing which was I also tasted, and it also was amazing. We decided to take Dad there for Father's Day lunch this past Sunday. He and Mom each ordered one of the sandwiches off the menu, and they both enjoyed them very much. I ordered the meatloaf which came with a side salad, steamed vegetables, and mashed potatoes with brown gravy. First of all, this so called "side salad" could have probably been my meal. My favorite part was the delicious croutons which I suspect to be made in-house from their sweet-tasting freshness. Then, when the main dish was brought out, not only did it have one huge serving of meatloaf, but it had TWO huge servings of meatloaf. There was no way I could finish all of this, so I definitely brought some home to eat for lunch the next day. The mashed potatoes were so creamy, and there was just the right amount of gravy. Yum yum! My mouth is watering as I write this! My brother Josh ordered something that I was very tempted to order: "The Cheesiest." Yep, you heard me, they have a burger called "The Cheesiest." This is no ordinary cheeseburger! The burger is not only topped with provolone and mozzarella cheese, but on top of the cheese is fried cheese wedges. Cheese sticks on a cheeseburger? It tastes like the most delicious heart attack you could ever eat. It is even served with a side of marinara sauce for dipping and your choice of chips, fries, or onion straws. 

If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend you make it a point to stop at The Boulevard. With over 30 TVs, a patio, and daily food and drink specials, it's also a great place to watch the big game! If you have ever been there, comment on this post and tell me about your experience(s)!

You can check them out at the following link: The Boulevard Bar & Grille

Monday, June 18, 2012

Catching Up: Surgery, Break-Ups, and Packages

Getting ready to go into surgery!
Hello readers! I'm so sorry that I haven't posted in nearly two weeks, but the past two weeks have been quite eventful for me. I had my surgery on the 6th. The doctor had scheduled to do what's called a septoplasty, but once he got in there, he realized my sinuses needed some work too. The surgery that was supposed to last a mere 45 minutes ended up lasting over an hour and a half. My parents were quite unsettled in the waiting room wondering what was taking so long. Everything went great during the surgery, however. When I started to wake up from the anesthesia, I was shaking like crazy! They kept asking me if I was cold, but I was just in that much pain! It was absolutely unbearable. My blood pressure has always been a perfect 120/80, but it shot through the roof. My usual 120 was approaching 200, and my typical 80 was over 100. Honestly, that was a little frightening to me. As my BP was quickly on the rise, the surgical team was in action. Being a nurse, even though I was still a little out of it, I was able to understand what was going on, and that scared me even more. However, I knew I was in great hands. The nurse almost didn't let me leave, but after giving me 3 times the IV pain meds they intentionally planned to, my blood pressure slowly started to go back down, and they said if I wanted to go home then I could as long as I monitored it. I didn't want to be anywhere but home, so we left! That was definitely the worst of it, and the worst was now over. The rest of that day and the next were pretty terrible too. As expected, the pain medication I was taking took the edge off the pain, but I was nowhere near pain free. At least the pain became a little more bearable. Nights were even worse. I had been instructed to remain in what the doctor calls "beach chair position" for 48 hours after the surgery. I had to lean back constantly or my nose would start bleeding. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my couch time, but 48 hours of doing nothing but laying on my couch? I was absolutely miserable! That Friday I went back to the surgery center to have my splints and packing taken out. Holy cow...I didn't know so much stuff could fit up my nose! I have pictures of the splints, one in each side, which were enormously larger than my nostrils, but I will spare you the graphic photos. Then the packing consisted of a few foot long strips in each nostril. If they were to have started pulling my brains out of my nose, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have noticed, because that's exactly what it felt like. Ewww. Anyways, I have mostly spent my days since then recovering. I look fine from the outside, but the inside of my nose looks like someone tried to trim my nose hairs with a chainsaw. I am also still very swollen internally and am having trouble breathing, and honestly, the progress is slow to nonexistent. I am still having headaches, but the doctor said they should subside with the swelling. We will see about that. I'm still very hopeful!

If the surgery wasn't hard enough on me, Justin decided that we would be better off as friends right now. He explained that we have had a great relationship, and I am the best girlfriend he could ever ask for, but it's just not meant to be right now. How can he tell me I'm everything he wants, but we aren't meant to be? I don't really understand, but then again it wasn't my decision.
....and people say women are complicated? Grrrr.
 Honestly, since he has been home from his last job, I think he has just gotten overwhelmed as we have been together nearly 24/7. We need space from each other, even I know that. He left on Thursday night for a job in Jacksonville, FL, so we will definitely be getting plenty of space. We still care about each other so much and have continued to stay in contact since he left. Things are looking up; we will see how things go in the next couple of weeks.

On a different note, I have officially received my first Foodie Penpal package! I was so excited to open it up! However, I can't tell you about it until the 30th, so be looking for my post about it! I also sent my package out to my penpal on Friday, so I hope Kayce will enjoy it! If she hasn't received it yet, she will be getting it any day now. She will also be guest-posting on my blog at the end of the month, so look for her special post as well. She will be my first guest blogger, so I'm excited for a new first!

Back at work!
Anyways, I am back to work today up at the City Hall. I feel absolutely awful. I can't breath, my head hurts, my nose hurts, and I'm hungry....but I'm still smiling! However, I would much rather be sitting here feeling bad and making money than sitting at home all day feeling bad and not making money. So, I really shouldn't complain too much! I am determined to have a good day and a good week. Happy Monday y'all!            

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Foodie Penpals" & Surgery

Sign up here!
Hello all! So, I'm pretty excited. Care to know why? Well, I joined this group called Foodie Penpals this month. If you have never heard of Foodie Penpals, you most definitely need to check it out. To give you a brief overview, on the 5th of every month, I receive an email telling me who my Foodie Penpal is. I must then contact my penpal to get some general information such as a mailing address, dietary restrictions, etc. By the 15th of the month, I have to send a little package to my Foodie Penpal. What needs to be in the package? It must contain something written along with any treats or goodies that I wish to send. There is also a $15 price limit on whatever is sent, so there is no pressure to be too extravagant. Do I receive anything? Yes! Somebody else has been given my information, and they will be sending me a package! I have yet to be contacted by my Foodie Penpal, but I can't wait to see what they have in store! Finally, on the last day of the month, I blog about what I received from my penpal.

Kayce is the Foodie Penpal I have been paired with for June. She is a 26-year-old mother of an almost 3-year-old with one on the way, and she is also the wife of a Military man. Thank you for your service! Originally from Washington State, this growing family is currently a few miles from home. By a few I mean over 2500, as they are currently located in the state of Georgia. Welcome to the South y'all!

Kayce is currently not a blogger, so expect a guest post on my blog from her at the end of the month. I can't wait to read what she has to say about the package I send her! I will not be revealing what I will be sending to my Foodie Penpal. I don't want to spoil it for Kayce, so I will leave it up to her for the surprise. I'm very excited to get started, and I look forward to the many months ahead filled with Foodie Penpal surprises!

On a more personal note, I will be having surgery tomorrow on my nose. Funny story, actually. Just before New Years Eve, my friends and I decided last minute to head up to the mountains in East Tennessee for a quick little getaway. It was very cold (we were expecting some snow), so we decided bringing some firewood to build a fire was an excellent idea. My friend Ross was loading firewood into my arms, I was walking over to the truck, and Justin was unloading from my arms into the truck. It was pretty dark at the time, and we were in a hurry. Well, let's just say one of the pieces of firewood caught my face on the way to the truck. In simple terms, my boyfriend hit me with a piece of firewood and broke my nose. See why it requires an explanation? It just sounds awful if I leave it at that. My broken nose is honestly not too noticeable, but that's not why I am having surgery. Since that little accident, I have had the worst splitting headaches. After seeing the ENT a few times and having a CT Scan done, it was concluded that I have a severely deviated septum. Imagine putting pressure on a thin piece of wood. What does it do before it completely snaps? It splinters. So, when I broke my nose, it splintered in two places causing bone spurs which are causing the headaches. The doctor said he is 100% positive that after my surgery tomorrow, I will be rid of those awful headaches. I am scheduled to go into surgery at 7:45 tomorrow morning. I'll let you know how it turns out! Wish me luck!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Easy Enchiladas for Everyone!

Everyone that is familiar with the Chappell family knows about "taco night." This is a meal that my family has been having since, well, since I can remember. Even my childhood friends remember "taco night" at our house. What is so special about this meal? Well, it's easy to prepare for several people which was an absolute must for every meal growing up. With two parents, five children, and all of our friends that practically lived at the house, meal preparation was huge (literally). Other than the easy preparation, who doesn't love tacos?! Even the pickiest of my brothers loved this meal.

So, what is my favorite meal to make when I'm looking for something easy that could feed a number of people? Tacos! Okay, so I don't just make tacos, but it's hardly Mexican so I prefer to place this meal in the taco category. If we really want Mexican food, we head off to one of our local favorite restaurants. You just can't beat it (especially since most of us American folks specialize in cereal pouring and not tortilla making, unfortunately).

For me, the typical at-home taco night meal consists of enchiladas, tacos, rice, and beans. When expecting a bigger crowd, chips and cheese dip is a great addition. All of this together took less than an hour to prepare!

For 6 Enchiladas here is what I needed:
  • 6 soft taco size tortillas
  • 1-2 lbs of ground beef (usually I lean toward 2 lbs)
  • 2 cans of mild enchilada sauce (I have tried medium, but I feel that adding heat takes away from the flavor)
  • 1 package of finely shredded Mexican fiesta cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer works great)
  • 1-2 packages of your favorite taco seasoning (you use 1 for every lb of beef, so 2 lbs would require 2 packs)
Enchilada Directions:
  1. brown beef, and drain
  2. add in favorite taco seasoning and follow directions on package (usually requires adding some water)
  3. pour enough enchilada sauce in a 9x13 pan to cover the bottom
  4. mix a small amount of the enchilada sauce in with the taco meat
  5. take each tortilla, and place desired amount of cheese and meat mixture inside
  6. wrap up the filled tortillas, and place side by side in the pan
  7. pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the enchiladas, and cover with cheese
  8. place in oven (approx. 350ᵒ) until the cheese is completely melted  (around 15-20 mins)
Typically, I brown more meat than needed for enchiladas, so that I don't have to brown more meat for the tacos. The easiest way to do this is to brown all the meat, add in the seasoning, and just take out what I will use for the enchiladas, leaving enough meat for tacos. While I am browning the meat, I heat up a can of refried beans. During this time, I would usually make white rice, but this time I tried something different. While browsing through the Mexican section of the grocery store, I came across some microwavable Mexican style rice made by Taco Bell. I just had to try it! All I had to do was put it in the microwave for 90 secs and it would be ready. It turned out to be outstanding! It was surprisingly really delicious. By this time, the beans are heating, the taco meat is ready, and I can put together the enchiladas. I put them in the oven, then get going on some cheese dip. I decided to try the new Velveeta Queso Blanco, and it also turned out delicious. You just add Ro-tel, and put it in the microwave. Easy! While everything is in the works, this is a good time to cut up any lettuce, tomato, or any other toppings you would like. The last thing to do is toss the tortillas in the microwave to heat them up a little, throw the shells in the oven to crisp, and prepare the 90 sec rice. Everything will be ready around the same time if prepared this way.

Now, you are ready to eat! Everything is prepared, and people can make their tacos however they wish.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Weekend: Crawfish Boil & Homemade Ice Cream!

This past Monday was Memorial Day, the day of the year we dedicate to all the men and women who have lost their lives fighting for you and me. I hope you all made a special effort to thank someone who serves! I would like to give a little shout out to my cousin, John, who serves in the United States Navy. We are all so proud of you and thank you for your service!

How did you celebrate Memorial Weekend? I spent Sunday at Justin's with all of our friends. We had a big crawfish boil and get-together with all of our friends. We started out around 10 in the morning setting up some pop-up tents for a little shade as temperatures were quickly on the rise to the 90's! What is an outdoor party without a couple games? The first game we set up is definitely one of our favorites, corn hole! A couple weeks ago we had so much fun playing corn hole at Macie's graduation party, that it was decided we need to build our own corn hole boards (and by we I mean Justin and Honey hehe). Bud Light boards with matching bags were a must to the men of course. Macie painted the boards, and the Bud Light stickers and bags were ordered online. They have yet to make the legs for the boards, so we put the edges up on cinder blocks since they are the same height. We also had ladder ball (some call this "redneck golf") and a volleyball net set up.

Before long, we were all starting to get pretty hungry. One of our friends has been working down in New Orleans for the past couple months, but after an offer from Jack Daniel's, and not particularly enjoying New Orleans, he decided to head back home to TN. He was planning on going to Florida to catch some sun rays before heading back this way, so we asked him to stop (somewhere in Mobile, AL I believe) to get us 2 sacks of craw fish. If you aren't too familiar with "2 sacks"......that's a TON of crawfish. Each sack is about 35-40 lbs. Anyways, we had our crawfish ready to go, so what else did we prepare to put in the boil? There is no special recipe for a crawfish boil. You put as much of whatever you want in it. We cut up some carrots, mushrooms, onions, garlic, red potatoes, a few oranges and lemons for flavor, and of course added some liquid crab boil and seasoning. 

It was such a hot day that I decided some homemade Oreo ice cream would be a refreshing and delicious dessert (and not to mention, easy!). I credit our long-time family friend Dana for my favorite homemade ice cream recipe. Of course, this recipe requires an ice cream maker.  
Start off by mixing together:
14 oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk
12 oz can Evaporated Milk
1 cup Sugar
1 tbsp Vanilla
Then fold in:
16 oz Cool Whip
...and fill with milk to about an inch below the fill line (if you plan on adding dry ingredients...like Oreos!)
Start the ice cream maker and let it run until it starts to slow down, and at this point, add in your crushed up Oreos and let it run 'til it's done!

The crawfish, ice cream, games, and camaraderie of friends made for a more than wonderful Sunday!

Monday, May 21, 2012


Grilled Salmon--Click for Recipe!

Today, I come to you with a fish recipe! I haven't tried making the recipe myself, but my dad attempted it for the first time last night. Attempted is an understatement, but DOMINATED might be a better description. Since Justin has been in Mississippi, I enjoyed dinner with my parents. I have been eyeing the salmon in the fridge just wondering what would become of it, and last night, I found out. The salmon turned out absolutely wonderful! I just had to know what the marinade was; it was just strong enough to add a rich flavor, but not too much so the taste of the actual salmon was overpowered. The flavor was simply outstanding! I just had to see the recipe. To my surprise, the recipe was very easy, and it used ingredients that can be found on a regular basis in most pantries or kitchen cabinets (possibly with the exception of lemon pepper). This recipe calls for salmon fillets, lemon pepper, garlic powder, salt, soy sauce, brown sugar, water, and vegetable oil. Garlic powder was not used in our recipe, and although I don't know how it would be with it, I can absolutely attest to the recipe without it. Dad even topped the salmon with some grilled onions which was a nice touch. Since we grilled the fish, grilled vegetables were an excellent complement to the meal. A mix of some fresh squash, zucchini, sliced potato, and green beans was enough to complete the dinner plate.

Here is a link to recipe (found on one of my favorite recipe sites!!) or you can click on the picture above.....


Try it out, and let me know how YOURS turned out!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Catherine=1 Dinner=0

Last night was the night...dinner was a BIG success! I went grocery shopping on Tuesday, and I made sure to get everything I needed for this meal. I already had several of the ingredients around the house since a few were pretty regular items. However, I knew the recipe would be too much for only my boyfriend and I, so I cut the recipe in half. Then, to my surprise, I got a call from Justin at work yesterday...

"Hey! I just wanted to let you know that I told Macie and Honey that you were cookin' tonight, and I invited them over to eat with us!"

I was thrilled to have some of our best friends over for dinner, but I was afraid I wasn't going to have enough food for all of us! So, what did I do?  I went home from work at 4:30 and frantically searched for something I could add to the meal (without making another trip to the store). What did I find? Four large Idaho potatoes! I knew I had milk, butter, cheese, bacon, and a little sour cream on hand, so I decided twice baked potatoes would be the perfect addition to my meal. I didn't have time to watch potatoes sit in the oven, so I washed them, poked holes in them with a fork, and placed them in the microwave (14 mins full power did the trick). I then halved the potatoes and scooped out the insides. What is my magic recipe for twice baked potatoes? The more, the better! I don't measure out ingredients for this, I just sort of throw it all in the bowel. Especially, do not be shy with the butter, cheese, and sour cream  (Paula Deen style y'all!). The more of these ingredients you put in, the better the potatoes will be. After mixing everything in with the potato insides, I scoop the mixture generously back into the skins, and whenever I was ready for them, I put them in the oven for about 20 mins at 400ᵒF. The cook time and temp are not critical; since the potatoes have already been cooked, you are essentially just heating them up (my chicken crescent roll casserole needed to be cooked at 350ᵒ for 30 mins, so I put the potatoes in with them and it worked out perfectly). Since I was preparing for a 7:30 dinner, I prepared the potatoes early, covered them, and set them aside in the refrigerator until I was ready for the oven with the casserole. 

Next, I prepared the chicken crescent roll casserole. I followed the directions almost exactly, with the exception of a few things. I did not include the onion, and I did use the optional garlic powder. There is also an option of using mayo or whipping cream, and I used mayo since I had it on hand. The mixture and sauce was very easy to make. The recipe calls for 2 cans of crescent rolls, but I only used 1 since 8 rolls come in a can (I figured 2 would be enough for everybody). This worked out perfectly, because the mix is only enough to fill 8 crescents, and only 8 fit in a pan. The recipe says you can use as much sauce as you like, but since I have never made it before and didn't exactly know what I liked. I just used it all.  I put both the casserole and the potatoes in the oven at 7:00.

Chicken Crescent Roll Casserole--Check out the Recipe!
While the casserole and the potatoes were baking, I heated up some green beans with bacon, and I cut up some fresh pineapple and strawberries. At 7:30, everything (and everybody) was ready to eat! I had the table set up nicely, but the weather was so nice that we took dinner outside to the patio. Everyone really enjoyed the food! They told me the casserole recipe is definitely a keeper! I think the next time I make it, I will leave out the garlic powder; I think it was a little overpowering and slightly masked the rest of the flavors in the dish. However, we enjoyed it so much that we all got seconds. I intended on taking a picture of the meal beforehand, but i couldn't take one fast enough before everyone was digging into the deliciousness. Even Justin was really happy with the turnout, and he is the toughest critic I know! I have never heard him say that his meal was flat out good after leaving a restaurant. He is very picky and always finds something to complain about. After this meal, the only thing he didn't like was all the mosquito bites we were getting! He was very pleased, and I was very happy with the turnout. Making new recipes is a little scary to me simply because I don't know how it's going to turn out; just because it has good reviews and is highly recommended doesn't mean that my friends or I will like it. This one turned out just fabulous. I guess it's hard to go wrong with crescent rolls, chicken, and cheese. The taste was wonderful, and the recipe was quite easy to make. I was hoping to have enough leftovers for lunch today, but it was such a hit that "scraps" might be an overstatement for what was left. I will definitely be making this again!

If you missed it the first time, here is a link to the recipe that I used. 
       Chicken Crescent Roll Casserole

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Just a Little Rant

Well, my chicken crescent roll casserole dinner has not been made yet. Sunday, being mother's day, I spent the day with my mom and then had dinner with Justin's mom....so Sunday was out. I was all ready to make dinner yesterday, but Justin "floated the river" with some friends while I worked (at the City Hall where I love my job!)....so yesterday was out unless I wanted to cook for myself. Therefore, tonight's the night, and I plan to blog all about it tomorrow.

Now, onto my rant....
So, apparently the government considers my scholarship money to be "taxable income." I have worked my butt off to earn the scholarships that I have. I have worked so hard that I have earned enough scholarship money to exceed the cost of tuition and fees at my college. So, what happens to the excess? Many colleges and universities don't "stack" scholarships, but my school does, meaning any excess money is given to me in a check. I earned that money, and I believe I have a right to it (and obviously Motlow College agrees). So, what happens to the excess money? Partying, having fun, and doing whatever college kids do, right? WRONG. As a nursing student, I have 12 textbooks for one course, not to mention the cost of textbooks for my other classes. If you don't know how much college textbooks cost these days, you should take a look. I also have to purchase many supplies such as required scrub uniforms and shoes, a stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff, lab coat and goggles, and so on. Our college does not have dorms, so commuting is the only option. You guys have seen gas prices these days, so you can imagine the cost of driving to and from campus every day. Also, the food I eat on a daily basis is a factor, especially when a salad costs more than a cheeseburger and fries these days. All of these things get paid for with my excess scholarship money. Yes, the money does not go directly to pay for my classes, but it does, however, indirectly fund my education.    
So....what am I ranting about exactly? Well, I was quite shocked when tax time came around this year. I received something in the mail which I expected to be my return (yay!!).....except it wasn't a return at all. It was a letter informing me that I OWE just short of $400. Let me get this straight, did I just PAY for my SCHOLARSHIPS? That just sounds silly, does it not? I think so anyways. $400 is a great amount of money for a college student! I take great pride in putting myself through college. Being the youngest of 5 children, 2 of which went to private colleges, 2 of which are attending big universities, I am very proud to say that my parents have not paid a cent out of pocket for my college education. My parents raised me to be a self-supportive independent woman, and if the government is going to make me pay for that, then so be it. I guess I don't really have a choice! Anyways, that's enough ranting for one day.

Although I am now $400 poorer, ranting has made me feel slightly better.
Hooray for therapeutic blogging ;)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Time to win a bet!

 My boyfriend Justin is natural gas pipeline welder (aka a "pipeliner"). He goes where the job is. He is sometimes gone for several months at a time, always hundreds of miles away (at least). Whenever he comes home after a job is done, we like to just enjoy each other's time and company. So, what does that mean? Nobody cooks! We always go out to eat with each other and often our friends too. However, I love to cook. I said I love to cook, whether I'm good or not is in the mouth of the beholder. I love browsing through Pinterest, although I do not have an account because it will automatically upgrade my Facebook to "timeline" (GOD FORBID!!). Anyways, I always see the most delicious looking recipes, and I am always telling Justin about what amazing recipe I have come across on any given day. Well, yesterday I guess he decided enough is enough. "You always tell me about these awesome looking recipes that you want to try, but I haven't seen you cook a single one of them!" Ok babe, you got me. Enough is enough. I decided it is time to venture into the kitchen to make my best attempt at some of these scrumptious looking edibles. So, what happened next? I bet him that I will successfully make dinner 3 nights in a row. What is considered successful you might ask? No "boxed" dinners. No instant microwavable frozen items. That means no Stouffer's lasagna, no frozen chicken strips, no shells and cheese, and absolutely no hamburger helper. Yes folks, I actually have to COOK things, not just heat some stuff up and call it a meal. What do I get if I win the bet? I haven't quite decided. What if I lose? I don't even want to know, there is no telling. I'll let y'all know what is decided. Anywho, the bet is on. I'm ready. Bring it on. First up to bat? Chicken Crescent Roll Casserole, green beans, and fruit salad.

Here is a link to the recipe I am using with a picture of what it should look like.
I will follow up with how it turned out! Wish me luck!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Just Getting Started...

Hey y'all! This is the first post of many posts to come. I'm new to the whole blogging world, but as a 20-year-old, I think it's a great way to give the world a little peak into this southern girl's everyday life. So, I'll start out with a little bit of an intro to who I am and where I come from. I was born and raised in a very small town where I still live today. I am about to begin my third year of college, and in one year's time, I hope to have that big fat RN behind my name. Above all else, my family and friends mean the world to me. I come from a big family as I am the youngest of five children with the most amazing mom and dad. So, what got me interested in blogging? Well, there are many reasons that I hope to show you along the way. I plan to post about many different things, some of which include new recipes I have tried (and how they turned out), what really goes on in the life of a 20-year-old southern college girl, the struggles and triumphs of everyday life, and much much more. 

I hope you enjoy, and welcome to my world!