Friday, September 23, 2016

36 Things

Y'all, today I am 36!! How can that be? I thought it'd be fun to share 36 things about me...some may be repeats/things you already know, but 36 is a big number so this was a big goes!
1) I love making lists. I could make a list all day long. Now will I ever do anything on the list? Maybe. Maybe not.
2) I've bitten or picked at my nails practically from the womb. I have tried every way imaginable to stop, and I just can't.
3) I've been to a psychic (many years ago). I think it's pretty fun. And I think some people probably do have that gift.
4) When I was a little girl my absolute favorite thing in the world was to ride my bike. I'd jump on my bike and spend hours riding around my neighborhood.
5) Probably the best concert I've ever attended was seeing Bob Dylan...he played at a local concert hall, and it was a small venue. I was pretty close to the front, and to see him in such a personal setting was really neat.
6) Past basic algebra, my brain just does not compute math. I have no idea how anyone understands trigonometry or calculus.
7) I'm really not that good at grammar. I have a degree in English, so I understand that I probably need to work on this.
8) I've been to the top of the World Trade Center. The weight of that gives me chills.
9) I love candy. Give me candy over chocolate any day.
10) I had my gallbladder removed when I was 20. I was home one weekend from college and was running errands. I had the worst abdominal pain and drove home as quickly as I could. I couldn't reach my parents on their phones, and I truly thought I was dying! It was the worst pain I've ever experienced (yes, worse than labor). Not knowing what to do, I called 9-1-1 (I seriously thought I was about to die!). They arrived, and my parents did soon after. We went to the hospital, and I had my gallbladder removed the next morning!
11) I'm terrible at Chemistry. Prerequisites for nursing school include Chem I and Chem II, and you have to make at least a C in both. I'd already been accepted to nursing school and had to have some major tutoring to get out of Chem II alive (and with a C)...thankfully, I did, and I don't think I've used chemistry one day as a nurse.
12) A year after I became a nurse I was chosen as my hospital's Nurse Rookie of the Year. It was a huge honor, and it's something I truly treasure.
13) I'm an ISFJ. If you've ever taken the Myers-Briggs personality test you'll know what this is. If you haven't taken it, you should!
14) If Rob and I had had a son, we probably would've named him Robert (after Rob and my Dad). Ben was also at the top of my boy name list.
15) I'm an introvert and a homebody. If I'm not careful I'll turn into a hermit. Ha...
16) I had the opportunity to pursue competitive swimming as a child, and I really wish I'd followed through on that. Going to swim practice and swim meets are some of my favorite childhood memories.
17) You couldn't pay me to eat escargot. I'm sure I'm missing out, and I know it's mind over matter, but no...
18) My biggest fear has got to be public speaking. I also have a hard time talking in a small group of my peers. I just get nervous, and my heart beats fast, and my hands get clammy. Ugh. If you don't have a problem with public speaking, consider yourself lucky!
19) Referring to the above, I had to take speech as a prerequisite for nursing school. I honestly considered not going to nursing school for this reason. When it came time to give a speech instructing the class on how to do something, I didn't know what to do...I was practicing yoga at the time, so I thought I'd do that...mainly because I could demonstrate poses rather than talking so much. Why I thought it'd be a good idea to do a downward facing dog pose in front of my speech class and my speech teacher is something I'll never know.
20) I'm the middle of three girls. I have an older sister, Chris, and a younger sister, Emily. They're pretty awesome, and I love having sisters.
21) 36 is a bittersweet age for me. My mom died when she was 36, and to think about the fact that she was very sick at the age I am now is very hard to comprehend and take in. I hope and pray that my life and my health are two things I don't take for granted, for myself and for her memory.
22) I love my birthday. Probably my favorite day of the year. What can I say, I like to celebrate.
23) I have a weakness for candles. I have one burning every day.
24) I had a really hard time deciding what I wanted to do "when I grew up." I thought long and hard about going to law school, but the public speaking part threw me for a loop.
25) I was in journalism grad school during the time my university was celebrating the 40th anniversary of James Meredith's arrival as the first black student at Ole Miss. One of my professors (a nationally-known reporter) had a contact at The New York Times and asked if I wanted to help a reporter there gather some research on Meredith and the anniversary. Y'all, I turned it down. To this day I regret that.
26) Speaking of regrets, when people say they don't have any regrets because their regrets led them to where they are today...I call bologna. You've got to have at least one regret...something you'd do differently. Come on!
27) I went through kind of a hippie phase in my late teens/early 20s...I had 4 earrings in my left ear and 3 in my right, I was living on the edge, huh?
28) If I had the chance to redo my wedding, I'd do it differently! I'd still have the church wedding (because I love a church wedding...the hymns, the liturgy, etc.), but I'd skip the reception. I'd choose to have a fun, more casual party after our honeymoon. I just wasn't a fan of all eyes on me, and honestly Rob wasn't either. Plus my dress wasn't comfortable.
29) I read so much as a child and preteen. Like anything I could get my hands on...I so hope my girls have that passion for reading. My love for it is still very much alive, I just don't feel like I have/make the time for it as much as I'd like to anymore.
30) I'd love to own a small I couldn't and wouldn't want to run the business side of things, but I'd love to go to market and choose pretty things that I thought others would adore too.
31) I'd also love to work in interior design. Making a house a home is something I really enjoy.
32) I always wanted 4 (or maybe 5) children! Even after Lily was born, that was still my hope. Rob wasn't on board with 4 or 5 and thought 2 or 3 was more like our number. After Hadley was born, I quickly realized that, yep, 2 was our number. Parents of 3 or more!?!
33) I collect coffee table books. I have an absurd number. Most are related to decorating.
34) I've always loved fashion and have enjoyed picking out clothes and putting outfits together. I couldn't have cared less what I looked like, or what I wore, however, when I was pregnant. I just didn't want to spend the money on things that I knew I could only wear for a short time!
35) I get overwhelmed easily. I really wish I could change this about myself (and maybe I can). When I get overwhelmed I kind of shut down.
36) I feel like this one should be kind of poignant or some big reveal. I think a lot about getting older...truth is, it's a weird feeling to be closer to 40 than to 30. I know the bigger the number gets, the harder it is for many to swallow. But I don't mind the bigger number. I'm thankful for it, for another birthday, for the wisdom and confidence that comes with being a year older. That's not to say that I wouldn't want my 21-year-old skin or body (right!?!), but I'm here. I'm healthy. I have so much love around me, and I'm thankful. I'm so thankful.
And one to grow on...
37) From reading over this list I realize that I use the word "love" a lot. Like a lot a lot. There are worse words to overuse, though, am I right? :)
Cheers, friends. I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Chicken-Horseradish Salad

I love a good chicken salad because it's so diverse. Eat it with some crackers for a snack or put it on a tortilla and make a wrap. It's also perfect for showers or luncheons. This is my absolute favorite recipe for chicken salad. The horseradish adds just enough kick, and I love the addition of salty, crunchy pecans. I don't like grapes in my chicken salad, but if you do I imagine this recipe would do great with that addition!
Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Chicken-Horseradish Salad
{Southern Living magazine}
3 cups chopped cooked chicken (I used a Rotisserie chicken)
1/2 cup minced green onions
2 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 to 3 Tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Stir together all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and chill.
Hope everyone has a happy day!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Dear Women Everywhere

Below is my response to a since-deleted article from The Huffington Post. The post was titled "Young Ladies of the SEC, Cover It Up!" and the author made it her job to school young women for their clothing choices at a recent football game. The article spread like wildfire across social media, and many of the comments were complimentary, which made me both sad and angry. You can read the article here. My response is below.
Dear women everywhere,
Let's agree to do each other a solid (whatever that means) and stop judging one another. Let's stop the slut shaming, the body shaming, and degrading one another in any form or fashion.
I was a college student myself 18 years ago (seriously...18 years?!?!). I have no doubt that some of my fashion choices at that time were questionable, but thankfully social media wasn't around then for women to share open letters to my friends and me, telling us we looked "classless."
I can say with full confidence that I wore some things that others would deem skimpy. But you know what? I was a teenager; I was having fun with fashion and trends; I was still trying to figure life and myself out...a common theme for all college students.
Some of my favorite memories from college revolve around getting ready for a night out with my girlfriends. We'd share clothes or jewelry (hello tattoo chokers); we'd help one another choose our outfits for the night, and most importantly we were together...laughing and just living...enjoying the moment of being young and carefree.
I can imagine that many nights my bra straps were exposed (seriously, is this a big deal?), and I can imagine that many nights I thought my friends and me looked irresistible. And you know what? That's a good thing! To be able, at a young age, to own one's appearance and to walk confidently into a room of your peers? It surely beats the alternative.
Young ladies everywhere, please know this: your clothing choices do not define you. Your amount of class is not measured by what you are (or are not) wearing. Being proud of your body and showing skin does not make you tasteless. You are SO much more than your appearance, and at the same time, it is OK to have fun with embrace this time in your life where you are just trying to figure out who you are. In the words of Madonna: "Express yourself."
To the women who are judging the clothing choices of college kids: to put it simply...get a life. If gossiping about the outfits that young women are wearing to football games is consuming your time, you're doing life wrong.
The author of the original post was worried about these "scantily-clad" women because families attend these games, and "little eyes are watching." And, sorry not sorry, but that's just ridiculous. Yes, families attend football games, but I can assure you that the children there do not care what college girls are or are not wearing. Children are cool like that. In fact, we all need to be more like our children. You know what they are doing? They're running around with their friends; they're laughing; they're getting sweaty and dirty, and they are living life. I know one thing they're not doing: they're not gossiping about others.
To women everywhere: be proud of your body and wear whatever makes you happy. You know the saying, "Those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Believe that.
Make a conscience decision to build one another up rather than tearing one another down. Compliment a fellow female. Embrace your individuality. Most importantly, love yourself; love others. We'll all be better for it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Things Christians Say

I've written before about my belief that maybe everything doesn't happen for a reason. You can read my thoughts on that topic here.
That's a clichéd response that we oftentimes hear fellow Christians utter when someone is going through a tragic time. Intended to be comforting, it most often is not.
I wanted to talk about another thing Christians say that I sometimes think might get misconstrued...especially by those who don't believe in God.
When good things happen in our lives, I many times hear the phrase: "God is good." Or: "God is good all the time, and all the time God is good." And, yes...a million times yes. God IS good. I believe that with every fiber of my being. But here's where I take issue: we only hear this phrase when something good has happened in our lives...when we get good news, whether it be that a lump in your breast is benign and not malignant or something on a much smaller scale such as buying your first home. Many times these statements are followed with #blessed, and don't even get me started on that.
"I bought my first house today! God is so good!"
"My child got a full scholarship! God is so good!"
"My cancer is gone. God is so good."
And yes, y'all. God is so good! Please don't think I'm saying that He is not. we ever hear that sentiment in these instances:
"I wasn't approved for a loan so I'll be living with my parents for another year. God is so good!"
"We just took out a second mortgage so our child can go to college. God is so good."
Or in the most serious of instances: "The cancer that I prayed would be gone has actually spread. God is so good!"
Can you see why this statement uttered when life is going well can seem disingenuous? I know that people who use that phrase do believe that God is good. I know that they are genuine and mean well. But would they say that under the worst circumstances? So the chemo didn't work to cure your cancer, and you're looking at only a few more months here on this Earth: "God is good all the time, and all the time God is good." Hmm. I'd imagine if you said that to someone who had recently received terrible news you might get punched in the face...and rightfully so.
But guess what? God IS good all the time, but sometimes our life circumstances are not. When life throws us curveballs, is God no longer good?
When we only acknowledge God's goodness during the happy times in our lives it makes it seem like God is only good then. And it makes it appear that God is some magician in the sky who grants our wishes if only we pray hard enough and often enough.
We don't need to publicly acknowledge God's goodness only when favorable things happen in our lives. We also need to recognize His presence during the tough times too. God is still good when life seems to be unraveling around us. He is the ONE who has helped me wade through some of the hardest times in this life. He is the reason I was able to keep going. Because of his grace and mercy I was able to move forward. Yes, God is good.

God's goodness is not conditional; it is constant. In fact it's the only constant I know on this Earth.
"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." -- Lamentations 3:22-23


Monday, September 12, 2016

Weekend Update

Hope everyone had a happy weekend. We had a slow few days, and it was just what we needed!
I spent Saturday morning catching up on some emails and did so in my new favorite lounge pants. Seriously, guys, these are the best. They're soft and comfy, but they're also fitted (and tapered at the ankle) so I think they'd even look cute out of the house with a long tee and some fun sneakers. I like them so much I ordered the navy version (which were on sale, but it looks like they've already sold out).
I'm also really loving this fleece pair and the fun tie dye at the ankle.
Saturday afternoon I took Lily to a birthday party, and she had the BEST time. It does my heart good to see her having so much fun with her new classmates. She has especially bonded with one little girl, Averie, and they are two peas in a pod.
Sunday we went to church as a family and spent the rest of the day getting ready for the week. I got some precious pictures of my girls yesterday. They're wearing matching Mississippi State dresses that my grandparents gave them last weekend. The Bulldogs won their game against South Carolina on Saturday night, so we were celebrating a little!

Today I've got some errands to run, and I'm going to *try* to work out...I worked out twice last week, and my goal is to fit it in three times a week. There is really no good reason I can't do that.
I'm also on a mission to get together something fall-ish for a centerpiece on our dining room table. I like simple and not too cheesy, and I'm really liking this picture I found online.
I hope everyone has a great Monday! :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Bootie Love

I think I've made it known that I'm a fall-holic. One reason: I can finally break out my booties again. I'm kind of obsessed, and I'm hoping to add a new pair or two this season. Here are some of my favorites so far!
Can y'all believe these are TOMS? The heel is a little high for me (I'm 5'10" and usually wear lower heels), but I love the color, the peep toe, and the perforations.
TOMS Majorca Suede Bootie


This pair is a favorite. Maybe not the most practical when it gets cold, but for the early fall months they'd be perfect.

I'm kicking myself for not taking the plunge and getting these during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. They also come in black and a pretty grey suede.
Vince Camuto Peera Cutout Bootie


I love the color of this pair and the side zipper is cute too.
Steve Madden Tobii Bootie


A classic bootie that would go with most anything. I'd pair them with jeans and a comfy tee or flannel shirt.
Dolce Vita Tessey Bootie


This color is so pretty, and I just adore the perforations.
Can you tell I have a thing for perforations? Ha! These look a little biker chic to me, which, I'm not going to lie I'm liking. 

Vince Camuto Casha Perforated Bootie


Y'all know the Minnetonka fringe booties that were really popular last season? I have a pair, and they are so comfy...and I plan on wearing them again this fall and winter! I like these because they look a little more streamlined and feminine. I also like the knots at the top of the tassels, and the color is really pretty.
Ugg Shenendoah Fringe Ankle Boot


The olive color of this pair is so pretty, and I also like the scalloped trim at the top of the ankle...which makes them a little more feminine in my book.
Very similar to the Dolce Vita Tessey bootie above...another classic option for your fall wardrobe.
The cutouts on this pair have me swooning. I also love the somewhat Western feel.
Seychelles Waypoint Bootie


I adore this casual pair by Kate Spade. They're on the high end, price-wise, but fingers crossed they'll go on sale. How cute is that side tassel?
Kate Spade Bellamy Tassel Zip Bootie


What do y'all think of my picks? Do you have any others to add? Who else is excited to pull out their booties soon? I hope
 everyone has a happy day!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Life Lately

Hope everyone had a wonderful long weekend! They truly are the best! We've had some really happy times over here, and I wanted to share them all with you!
First things first, we received the world's BEST news last week! We found out in early June that my Dad had relapsed for the second time and was living with mantle cell lymphoma. It was a devastating blow, and the time since there has been a lot of anxiety in the waiting. Dad started chemo again, and thankfully he has done very well on it with minimal side effects. But the what-ifs remained until it was time for his first scan. That first scan was last week, and we got the news Friday that his scan was negative...meaning NO signs of cancer!!!!!! Many tears of joy followed, and we are SO thankful and grateful and ecstatic...and we finally feel like we can breathe again. He'll meet with his doctor in a few weeks to decide the next course of action, which will likely involve continued chemo, especially since he does so well on this regimen. Life can be so hard and can bring you to your knees at for now we are relishing in the good. Thank you to my precious friends and family who have prayed for us. Thank you for reaching out and checking on us. Thank you for reminding us that even during hard times there still remains a lot of good.
It's kind of hard to top that (!!!), but I'll give y'all a run-down of other things that have been going on in our life.
Hadley and I have been busy bees lately, as we've been spending a lot of time at the Magnolia Speech School to get her fully evaluated and to determine the next steps needed to get her up to speed with her articulation. Local folks, that place is a gift...I couldn't recommend it enough. I've met with several of the directors, and I firmly believe they are angels on this earth. I feel the same way about our speech therapist. Right now we're meeting with her two afternoons a week, and she has been a huge blessing. I can already see an improvement in Hadley's speech, and that brings me (and her!) so much joy!
Friday night we did our typical Friday night thing and had Mexican at a local restaurant here. We always go to this restaurant for two reasons: 1) They have gum and peppermint patties at the register, and after dinner Lily loves getting both. 2) There is a water fountain out front, and the girls think throwing coins in it is the best thing ever.

Saturday we woke up early and headed to Starkville. Rob wanted to watch his beloved Bulldogs play, and my grandparents live there. So it was a win-win! Rob dropped the girls and me off at Nana and Grandad's house, and he met up with a friend at the game. We had such a fun time with my grandparents, as always. I feel so fortunate to have the both of them in my life.

And y'all see my Nana in the picture above? Fingers crossed I got her genes...isn't she beautiful?
Sunday we sadly skipped church because our house looked like it had robbed. I am a neat freak, but I've learned (especially lately) that in life something's got to give. And last week it was the house. I may have had my children taken care of and dinner on the table every night, but our house was a hot mess. So we cleaned on Sunday and finally got things back on track! We even pulled out the Halloween decorations (early, I know, but I'm a big believer in #carpediembaby). I'm going to try to finish those up today, and I'll do a Fall House Tour soon. I think it's been said before, but I LOVE this time of year. And cheesy decorations bring both me and my girls a lot of joy. So we went for it.

I picked up the centerpiece below at our local HomeGoods and thought it would be a fun addition for the fall...what do y'all think?
I figured we needed some sweets to keep us going, and it was the perfect excuse to make my favorite sugar cookies, complete with fall icing and sprinkles! **For the icing recipe, check it out here. It takes slice and bake cookies to a whole new level!**

I was in TJ Maxx last week and had a second to browse their Halloween costumes. There were a few I loved for Hadley, but I ended up choosing the one below. I mean, how stinking cute is it?!? She has had no opinion this year on her Halloween costume, so I'm savoring probably the last time I get to choose for her! Lily wants to be Skye from Paw Patrol, so I'm on the lookout for that for her.
And, yes, I am a walking cliché...except I don't like the beloved Pumpkin Spice Lattes. But everything else fall I'm a typical white girl.
We had dinner with my parents on Sunday night, a Labor Day/celebration of Dad's news get-together. That was a lot of fun, as always. Rob's parents had come into town as well, and we visited with them after dinner. I worked yesterday, so Rob and his parents had a full day with the girls. I'll find out more today, but I believe a trip to Build-a-Bear was a big part of their day. I tell ya, I wish I had come up with that genius idea.
Work was busy but good. I had some sweet patients, and one of them told me he was going to miss me today. Made my day. I feel so lucky to get to do what I do.
Today I'm playing catch-up around here, and Hadley and I have another speech appointment this afternoon. Today the thing that's going to give is sadly going to be dinner...not sure I'll have a chance for a grocery run...but there's some bread and a jar of peanut butter in the pantry so we're good!
I hope everyone else has a fabulous start to their week. What do y'all have going on? What's the thing that typically gives in your house? Laundry, dinner, showering (ha!)? I'd love to know! I'll leave y'all with this...please tell me I'm not the only one to whom this happens? :)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Black Bean Burgers

I recently ran across this recipe for The Pioneer Woman's Black Bean Burgers, and I knew I wanted to try them. The reviews were great, and they looked, we're always trying to find ways to add more protein to our diet.
I made these last night, and they were amazing. Rob is a huge carnivore and even he loved them! They were easy to patty up, and the patties kept their shape. I doubled the recipe and came up with 9 patties total. That's two nights worth of meals plus leftovers to freeze. #winning
Hope y'all enjoy them as much as we did!
Black Bean Burgers
{The Pioneer Woman}
2 cups black beans, drained and mashed with a fork
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated white onion
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper
Olive oil, for oiling pan
Mix together the beans, breadcrumbs, onions, chili powder, egg, and some salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Form the mixture into patties.
Preheat a pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Cook the burger 4 minutes per side. Serve on a toasted bun with desired toppings. I spread chipotle mayonnaise on both sides of the bun and let a slice of Havarti cheese melt over the burger. I also added fresh lettuce. It was perfection!!


Hope everyone has a great day! It's September!!