Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I'm Loving It--Thanksgiving!

Happy Friday friends! Yes I know it's not really Friday but it feels like a Friday so I'm going with it. I'm glad it isn't Friday because that means we would have skipped Thanksgiving, and that is just unacceptable. I LOVE Thanksgiving, mostly because of the food, truth be told. I always have and will be a big eater and lover of food, so I'm excellent at Thanksgiving. This year my mom is hosting so that means a few days of me going to her house to snack on the leftovers as well, which we all know are just as good if not better than actual Thanksgiving! You might be wondering what I cook on Thanksgiving, considering I love cooking and am always sharing recipes with you. Well, that answer, my friends, would be nothing. Not really. Both of our families have gotten Thanksgiving down to such a science that they don't even need my assistance. Literally one year to my mom's I brought a can of cranberry sauce (which I could eat of of the can with a spoon--I love the stuff--ridges and all) and to Forrest's family's house that same day I brought frozen rolls. One year I made a rice casserole which no one touched because they were committed to their other holiday tried and true favorites. Last year I made 3 different pumpkin pies (thank you pinterest) and I think Forrest and I ended up eating the majority of them, despite the fact they went to 2 houses. If I thought long and hard about that situation I might end up getting my feelings hurt but honestly I can't blame them because I'm the same way. I want Thanksgiving to taste exactly the way it should and the dishes should be made exactly the same way each year by exactly the same person. I cringe every time my aunt in Birmingham suggests that she take on the making of the sweet potatoes. No way--not that she isn't an amazing cook because she is--but sweet potatoes are supposed to be made by mom or my grandmother (who taught my mom) so there really is no need to risk jacking that integral part of Thanksgiving up. I mean what if she got fancy and we didn't like it, you know? Then we would have to wait another whole year for acceptable Thanksgiving sweet potatoes! One year I volunteered to bring the deviled eggs to my mom's because Mrs. Rollins wasn't feeling up to it. I mean really how hard can it be to do deviled eggs? The answer is not hard at all but the reality was they didn't taste the same. I wasn't offended--I understood because I was sad too. It just wasn't the same, you know!!
Despite this straight-craziness, I secretly want to do a fancy pants, breakfast themed Thanksgiving one year. I don't know who would come and it would definitely have to be either before or after Thanksgiving so the fam could enjoy their Thanksgiving favorites, but for some reason I have that in the back of my mind. I'm thinking the menu would go something like this:

Strata
Pumpkin French Toast Bake
Fresh Fruit Salad
Cheese grits
Hashbrown casserole
cranberry sauce
deviled eggs
and maybe some sort of turkey or hame....or both

Man, I'm hungry just thinking about it!!
What are your favorite Thanksgiving foods and traditions? Do you do the same thing every year or do you switch it up?? 

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

On being a girl

Last night we ate with our "Lake Family" to celebrate October, November and December birthdays. This group includes the group of friends we have that all have lake houses near each other. My dad grew up with most of them, and in turn I grew up with their children, so we really are like a family. We get together every few months to celebrate a group of birthdays with dinner out at a restaurant and of course a cake! Last night was no different than any other of our birthday nights but I was very impressed with the conversation revolving around and including the younger girls of the group. My cousin Sara was home from her first semester of college and she was sitting with Hannah, who is a sophomore in high school. While they could have been talking about boys, parties, tv, etc, they were talking about school. What were college classes like, their upcoming finals, choosing majors, and studying in the library. Our friend Joni was also talking about her daughter Emily who couldn't join us because she was on a mission in Mexico for Thanksgiving, and how she would love to be able to continue working there when she graduates college. Wow, right? Wow. Of course, these are fun girls. Sara and Emily are in sororities, Hannah is one of the best tennis players in the state, and they each have plenty of friends and big social lives. It was really refreshing to me to hear this conversation because young girls are inundated with so much "clutter", as Nick Saban would say, that you hardly hear about girls actually doing school work, going to class, thinking about doing mission work in life. TV shows and magazines would have us believe that all teenage girls are shallow, one dimensional humans, interested in are boys, make up, shopping, and reality tv. Are these girls interested in those things? I'm sure they are! However, these things do not have to take over their lives, and I was glad to see that they understood that. I think it is really hard to be a young girl in today's world. Everything is about flash and glam--no meat, no substance. There doesn't seem to be much to encourage young girls to try hard and put in effort into anything. These girls are growing up and forming their identities as adults. Do they want to make themselves like the images of girls they see on tv or do they want to make themselves well rounded, ambitious women, strong enough to do whatever their hearts desire. I hope that they will be smart enough to make their decisions because it's the right decision for themselves and to make educated, well thought out choices and not simply go with the flow or pick a path in life because it seems the most glamorous or what "everyone else" is doing. It's not about boys and make up all the time. Life is about hard work and choices and sacrifices, no matter what path you choose. Girls should want to have fun and be girlie but at the same time, they need to be more than just a "girl".
Am I making sense here? Do you see what I'm getting at?? 
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Monday, November 25, 2013

A Season of Giving?

Hi and happy Monday to all! Who is ready for a 3 day week?? This girl is! I will be taking a blogging vacation beginning on Thursday so I can eat, shop, and hang with the family for a full 5 days! I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend ahead of you as well!
Today I want to discuss an incident that happened to us last night. We stopped to get gas after eating dinner with my parents and a woman came up to the car window. Forrest was on the other side pumping gas so I rolled down the window to speak with her. She asked me if I had any cash and truthfully I told her I didn't. I never have cash on me, and even if I did, I would have felt uncomfortable to open my purse and wallet in front of her. She didn't look scary or anything but that situation always makes me nervous. She said she was trying to get a little gas so she could drive to Anniston, a town about 45 minutes away. That would have been the entirety of the situation, except that Forrest and I knew the lady at the pump next to us and he had been talking with her while I was speaking to the other woman. The woman came around our car and started asking our friend for money. She also told her no because she didn't have any cash. The woman told her that she needed to get to Anniston because her boyfriend had hit her and she showed her a bruise. Our friend then offered to call law enforcement or to carry her to a shelter and the woman refused and said she only needed a little cash. That would have been the end of it at that point, except another man drove up and she asked him for money. He didn't give any either and she got in her car and drove away. I was feeling really badly about the situation until the man told us that he was just at the Sonic, where she was asking customers there for money as well. Of course, the Sonic is not on the way to Anniston, and actually, she had to go away from Anniston to get from Sonic to the gas station. Anyway--the point of rambling about this is to ask you what do you do in this kind of situation? More than likely this lady was lying--she told me and our friend 2 different stories as to why she needed the money, refused going to a battered women's shelter, and apparently had been asking for cash in another location earlier that evening. Situations like these make me hesitate to help others at all. First of all, it's scary. Since I was in the locked car, sitting higher than her, I didn't feel afraid to roll down the window but if I had been in my small car I wouldn't have done that because she could have reached in. I already never loan strangers my phone, open my purse or wallet in front of them, or linger in parking lots. However, what about the person who really does need help--how do you know who they are? Maybe there was a back story as to why she needed money but she didn't want to tell us. Maybe she was embarrassed? I hate to be someone that doesn't generously help others but I also don't want to wind up on the news because I did something stupid. There is a fine line between helping others and helping yourself get hurt/mugged/robbed and I just don't know where it is, so I always err on the side of no. It's during the holidays that I really start thinking about this and feeling badly about it. What do you think? What do you do in this kind of situation? Are there any questions that you ask people to determine if they really need help?
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Friday, November 22, 2013

I'm Loving It!

WHAT A WEEK!! Most people are excited about the weekend because they have wild plans. I'm excited because I get to sleep. My whole month, really, has been nonstop at work and so all I want to do is lay around and do nothing that requires thinking! That being said, I still have lots to love this week!

Dad's birthday


Yes, this weekend was my dad's birthday. Poor guy, all of his special days this year were commandeered by pageants. First, we were at Miss USA on Father's Day and I'm pretty sure no one even got him a gift, and then on his birthday we were coming back from Miss Alabama in the rain. Sad! We did have dinner with him and have a little party with cake. Happy Birthday Daddy! I love you!


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My brother and my cousin Ashley share a birthday and it was this week as well! Happy birthday guys! We will celebrate with you next week for Thanksgiving!

Hunger Games Catching Fire


So I was totally obsessed when I started the Hunger Games series and I've been waiting a whole year for the 2nd movie to come out. My friend Farrah surprised me last night with a ticket to go to the 8pm premiere with some of her teacher friends. I purposely didn't reread the book so I would be surprised about the movie and man was I ever. I was in much distress the entire movie and had terrible nightmares (yes I'm a tiny child) but it was so good! I think it was even better than the first one! Ahhh, and the costumes and make up were dreamy--why can't we dress like the capitol people dress like once a year? Maybe that will be my next Halloween Costume??

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VIA


Sherlock 

So Forrest and I got hooked on Sherlock and just finished it this week. Thank goodness we only have to wait until January for the next season! I didn't think I would like it but MAN was I wrong. I'm not into crime shows at all but this is so much more! Make sure you check it out on Netflix! Any suggestions on what I need to watch next???

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VIA (this site is awesome, btw)

Crock Pot

Without my crock pot Forrest and I would have starved these past few weeks. I've been so busy at work that I have not gone to the store nor have I felt like cooking so my crock pot meals have saved us all! This week I used the Chicken and Brown Rice casserole recipe that's in my recipe tab. Yummy yummy and good for you too! 

Ok--that's all from me friends! Hope you have a fun and relaxing weekend! See you Monday! 
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

We Cordially Invite You...

I LOVE invitations. If I'm helping to host a party, I always try to be in charge of them. I could browse through them all day long! Finding the right invitation is actually very important--it sets the tone of your party and gives your guests a peek into the party. A good invitation should of course tell the time, date, and place of the party, but it also should set the tone and theme of the party. You really should be able to know what to wear to the party just by looking at the invitation (although a good hostess will instruct you on the actual invitation if there is a suggested guest code). Your invitation should be clutter free, meaning the design isn't too busy  and the words shouldn't be squished on top of each other. Therefore, you need to pick a simple design AND a card that can fit all of the words you wish to send. Remember, the invitations set the tone so that should determine what words you actually use. You don't need to "cordially invite" people to your 80's dress up party--that's too formal, unless of course you are being ironic--and you would never tell to people to "Come on down" to celebrate your grandmother's 80th birthday (unless maybe it was a Price is Right theme). Definitely use your best judgement when it comes to wording so your guests understand exactly what the party is for. You also need to consider the font. I hate nothing more than a card with 8 hundred fonts on it. The standard rules say no more than 2 fonts, but you can bold some of those for emphasis. I actually like the 2 font idea because you can make important lines of text stand out from the rest. Again, make sure your fonts are in keeping with the tone of the party. Comic sans is not acceptable for a formal dinner party (or most things, fyi).
I think I can illustrate these points by showing  you some great examples from my favorite invitation site, Paper Style.
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This is slightly blurry because I wanted to enlarge as much as possible so you could see the details I'm going to refer to. Notice the simple design--festive yet not too cluttered. This invitation accomplishes something very difficult--it's fancy/casual. Fancy/causal is my FAVORITE--the best of both worlds! You can tell it's a little fancy because of the background design but then we have the polka dots on the bow--polka dots are nearly always casual. This makes for a perfect in between type of event. The 2 fonts are perfectly balanced and reasonable. The print is all caps, making it casual, and the script is of course fancy. Props to these people on their script--it's totally reasonable.
I like the little rhyme at the top, but BE CAREFUL with these! Don't you hate getting those invitations that are one huge sappy poem? Limit your rhyme to 2 to 4 lines (haha) please! From this invitation I know that I'm supposed to be at a dinner with close friends, dressed nicely (no jeans and sweat shirts) but not formally (leave the prom dress at home). A+ to this invite!

**A word on RSVP--It is 100% rude NOT to rsvp to a party. It's even ruder to RSVP to another guest or to the guest of honor (like, if you are invited to a bridal shower hosted by friends of the bride, do NOT rsvp to the bride herself, rsvp to the hostesses!). It is not their job to handle the guest list! I have started to move away from "Regrets" only to RSVP simply because people today don't feel the need to RSVP at all, so I get no regrets, thinking I will have a full party, and then I only have 10 guests show up. RSVP means to call and let the hostess come if you are coming or not, so at least I know how many to plan for. Don't be mad at the hostess if she runs out of room or if you have no where to sit when in fact you didn't RSVP. It's your own fault! :) (CLEARLY this is a major pet peeve of mine!)
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I LOVE this invitation too! So cute and funky and modern--perfect for this office party! It was very wise of them to include "casual attire" on the invitation, because people get nervous when going to a work event. They don't want to be under or over dressed in front of their bosses!  I really like how they used one font but used the lower case letters for the information and used upper case letters for the business name. Typically changing the colors on your font is a no-no but this works very nicely.

Also, this card doesn't use the word "Christmas" in it. I know a lot of people get up in arms over the whole Christmas v. Holiday issue, so I'm really not going to get into all of that. However, this business is inviting people, including its staff, to an event around the holidays. It was totally savvy of them to say that they were "celebrating the season". I mean, there are lots of holidays in December, so come and celebrate yours!
By picking any of the holidays, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc, they might exclude people, and this seems to be a party for the entire group. Of course, if you are going to be celebrating a particular holiday or if the party is at your home, call it whatever you like! The invitation should again, explain the theme of the party, and as the hostess, you get to pick the theme! Follow me?

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Ok I had to include this because it was adorable even though it breaks lots of the rules. It's a tad busy, the font is hard to read, the poem is longer than 4 lines and none of the important info is clearly visible (I'm guessing it's on the back). What a perfect girls night out invitation though! This is great if you are having a close group of girls over. The invitation does tell you what to wear (sassy party clothes), what you will be doing (drinking like there's no tomorrow), and hopefully on the back, where you will partying it up and when. To make it even better, change the font and put the party info where that poem is--ta da! Fixed it!

My last invitation suggestion is this: if you are throwing a party for someone, like a bridal shower, etc, PLEASE ask the guest of honor what kind of invitation she wants! Some don't care and others really do, so it is always a good idea, and good manners, to check.

Happy planning!

Do you love invitations like me? What are your invitation pet peeves??
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Last Pageant Hurrah

So Montgomery Alabama is no Las Vegas, but we still had a great time at the Miss Alabama pageant. My friend Carla came with me as my date so it was kind of like a Las Vegas mini reunion! While our Miss USA trip might never be topped, EVER, we still had some fun this weekend. You don't mind if I show you, right?


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This would be Carla and I in the front row. We totally owned it.

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My sister doing her farewell walk.

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Hanging at the after party in the Presidential Suite with my sister (left) and the new Miss Alabama USA 2014. Don't they look alike!

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The after after party at the Alley Bar in the ice room. You are supposed to be given shots in glasses made of ice, however, they were out of ice. I'm not sure how that is possible, considering it is the ice room, but whatev. It was still neat, although freezing.

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Hanging out with Matt from Wildgame Nation. He was one of the judges, plus, my sister has been on his hunting show before. I'm serious.

Can't you see why I'm so sad that she is finished with pageants? I'm going to have to find my own glamorous fun now! Plus I probably won't need any of my "pageant watching" clothes any more. Boo.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thoughts on driving...

This weekend on the way to the pageant we nearly had what could have been a terrible wreck. A truck pulling a trailer tried to change lanes, except that there was a Toyota in the lane already. My mom saw it and laid on the horn, which made the truck pull back into their own lane but the Toyota, which was directly in front of us, slammed on their brakes, so we nearly slammed into them. My mom pulled us over into the median and before we knew it we were in the grass, thankfully upright and unharmed. I know it was all an accident but it was very scary. I have been critiquing people's driving the entire time I've been allowed behind the wheel, but good gracious, people are so rude and they seem to care so little about those around them, which is so silly to me considering the fact that they are driving giant machines that people get killed in every single day. Here are some of the things I have noticed in the 48 hours since our ordeal:

1. Texting and driving is a no no. Yes sometimes I have been guilty of this, I have to admit, although  now I only do it when I am stopped. However I see people texting ON THE INTERSTATE, traveling at 80 miles an hour. Are you kidding me? If you do this, sorry but I'm not sorry that I'm calling you out. It's dangerous and to do that shows that whatever random thing you are texting is more important than your life or the lives of those around you. Here is a novel idea---CALL the person you need to text. That was why the phone was invented, fyi. However, see number 2.
2. DO NOT SLOW DOWN because you are on the phone. Seriously, this is dangerous as well! If you know you slow down when you talk, use cruise control, or get into the slow lane please. When you hold traffic up behind you cars try to get around each other and you could be causing all kinds of problems simply because you can't do 2 things at once. It's not just considerate, it's safe.
3. When merging or changing lanes, let's use our blinkers, shall we? That is why they are invented. You don't think anyone is behind you? Well they might be in your blind spot, hence the need for blinkers. Plus again, it's just courteous to use them. Also, it's probably a good idea to actually glance at your blind spot to make sure there really isn't a car there. Mirrors don't show everything. It's better safe than sorry.
4. If it's raining, perhaps you should slow down. It truly baffles me when I see people flying along in the pouring rain. Don't they realize that they are not only endangering themselves, but everyone else as well? If you have to be somewhere and it is raining, just leave a few minutes early so you can drive slower and safer. (I feel crazy that I'm typing these words, but people clearly do not remember this info).
5. This kind of goes along with number 2, but if you are in the far left lane, aka the fast lane or the passing lane, you should be going faster than the people in the slow lane. Plain and simple. The point of the fast lane is for faster moving cars to be able to get around the slower traffic. If you are slower traffic do not fear, as there is a lane all for you. I'm not advocating that every one needs to be speeding, I'm just saying that if you are going 50 and the speed limit is 70,  you need to be in the right lane so all of the people who want to go 70 can do so. See, everyone wins. Again, when you are the slow poke holding everyone up, they feel the need to pass, drive on the shoulder, speed, etc, to get around your very self absorbed self. If anything, traffic is going to slow down, and cars are going to start getting closer together, and that is when wrecks occur. If you are slow, own it, and move over.

Do you agree with me on these? What else would you add to my list? Are you an offensive or defensive driver??



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Monday, November 18, 2013

Giving Up the Crown

It's hard to believe that we watched my sister give up her title and crown the new Miss Alabama USA this weekend. We have been on this pageant journey for the past 3 years and I am honestly sad to let it go. It felt so strange to go to the pageant and NOT be stressed out. I wasn't a bundle of nerves, I was able to eat and sleep, and I actually remember the pageant. Usually before her pageants, I was a complete basket case. You would have thought I was competing with the way I was behaving! While watching the other girls compete this year, I had to feel for their families and friends, because I know what they feel like. I know what it feels like to have your loved one win, and not win. I know the anxiety every time the emcee (Hi Beau!) says, "And the next young lady the judges have selected is.....". I know the thrill of victory and I know the devastation of coming so close you can taste it. I was beyond thrilled for Jessica, the new Miss Alabama USA. Her family was one of the BEST cheering sections at the pageant last year and she was 2nd runner up. When my sister won last year we got to go back stage and there was beautiful Jessica, and I just felt sad for her and sadder maybe for her family, because we had been there the year before, when my sister was first runner up. It's hard, even for the families, not to win. This year we were all behind her and overjoyed that she won! Plus, I'm hoping that she needs some assistance at Miss USA and I'll be happy to lend a hand, of course, as you know how much fun I had there this year! (and if you don't know, click HERE)
The best part about the evening was my sister getting to do her final walk. If you aren't pageant people this may seem a little hokey to you, but it was a moment in MY life that I will never forget, and so I know it will be the same for her. She recorded a speech thanking everyone for their help and support over the year and discussing what her year meant to her. During the voice over, Carrie Underwood's "Ever After" from the movie Enchanted (a favorite of ours) played while she floated around the stage in her Miss USA gown. She was gorgeous, looking just like a princess, while a Disney movie song was playing behind her. It literally was the stuff dreams are made of. I was sitting in the front row, with tears in my eyes, in awe of the woman that my sister has become. This is my baby sister--6 years younger than me--so young that we really didn't have anything in common until we were grown up. To see her out there, to hear her eloquent speech, graciously and humbly thanking everyone that has been a part of her journey, made me so proud, and so sad. She isn't a little girl anymore--she is all grown up. Because she is so much younger than me I have always felt a little bit like her mom as well as her sister, and I can't imagine loving any of my children more than I love her, or being as totally dedicated to their activities, hopes, and dreams, any more so that I was with her and this pageant business. I seriously nearly lost all control when she thanked me specifically in her farewell speech (literally, the Miss Alabama Teen USA's boyfriend had to hug me to make me stop crying). Just knowing that I mattered to her in that way was beyond satisfying.
It has been a wild ride,and I hate to see it all go, but I know that all good things must come to an end, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the world holds for my sister (and me).

 

You can watch her final walk here!

Sami's Shenanigans

Have a great week!
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Friday, November 15, 2013

I'm loving it: working hard for the money

I I'd Dear blog: I am so sorry I have neglected you for the past 2 days. I have been helping plan a seminar for the lawyers in my county and also I've been writing a very important appellate brief. To that end, I have had zero free time at work or at home to ramble along to you. For that I am really sorry because I do I fact enjoy spending time with you and I especially appreciate all of my delightful readers! I will return wil lots of things to discuss on Monday! So writes work has to come first though, and so I hope you understand!! 

I did have time to go to a luncheon at my grandmother's church yesterday. I always love going and spending that special time with her and my aunts! 
Have a great weekend!! I will have pageant pics for you later next week!! 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Game day eatin'

I did this post for my friends Josh and Wendy about a month ago and I hated that you guys had to miss out on my favorite football game party foods and party tips, especially since this was the topic of my latest Gadsden Style article! I hope you enjoy! I've included pictures and recipes below--just click the title link to access my tips for cooking and serving.

 Appetizers 

When I think of a game day party, I think of a variety of appetizers. I love nothing more than a table full of tiny foods that I can graze on for hours! You want to make sure to have a good variety available--some light, some hearty, some hot, and some cold, to ensure that you tickle the fancy of all of your guests! Some of my favorites include:


 Bama Caviar

2 cans black eye peas, drained
1 can white corn, drained
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
4-5 green onions, chopped with tops
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup fresh parsley
2 small cans sliced black olives
1 bottle Italian salad dressing

Mix together and cover to sit over night in the fridge. In the morning, drain and serve.

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1  9 oz package of Three Cheese Tortellini ,(I used Buitoni )cooked to package directions
1 can Medium or Large pitted Black Olives
1 5.75 oz jar Green Olives
2 12 oz containers of marinated mozzarella balls(of course I couldn't find marinated)
15 slices of Salami, cut in half
30 pieces of pepperoni
1 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing (store bought or homemade)
30 Skewers   How ever many you want to make. I had to cut mine in half
Place the cooked tortellini in a bowl or large gallon freeze bag. Pour the salad dressing over the top and marinade in the fridge for a few hours.
Drain the pasta.
Place one of each item onto the skewer using the pointy side.
Can be made a few hours in advance. Just cover tightly and place in the refrigerator.

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Baked Feta
I had this at a restaurant before and then found it in a cookbook. I ended up "cheating" and doing it the easy way!
3 5oz containers of crumbled Feta cheese
1 1/2 jars marinara sauce (I used Garlic and Carmelized onion mixed with half a jar of mushroom)

Stir together in a 9x9 baking dish. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Serve with crostini.

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Brown Sugar Brie

13.2 ounce wheel of Brie
2/3 cup pecans (2.5 ounces), toasted and chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons Kahlua
crackers
1-2 sweet apples (like Honeycrisp or Gala)
directions:
Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Using a knife, score a circle around the top edge of the brie (leave 1/4 inch rim). Take a spoon and scrape the white rind off the center circle of the brie (to the inside of the 1/4" rim). Place brie on the center of and oven safe platter.
Mix the pecans, brown sugar, and Kahlua in a small bowl. Carefully place the mixture in then center of the brie and spread to the edges (staying within the 1/4" rim you left). Bake for 8-15 minutes until brown sugar/pecan mixture begins to bubble. Be careful not to overcook (the brie will literally melt and loose its shape if baked too long). You want it nice a warm.
Serve with crackers and apple slices.

Desserts 

You will of course want to serve some sweets with your appetizers. Cookies and brownies, and I love these Neiman Marcus brownies!

Neiman Marcus Brownies

1 Butter Pecan Cake Mix
1 Stick butter, melted
--Mix these together and press into greased 13x9 pan.
1 8oz cream cheese
1 stick butter, melted (yes, another one)
1 box powdered sugar
2 eggs, beaten
Combine these things with electric mixer and pour over 1st layer. Top with 1 cup chopped pecans if desired (I don't do the pecans because some people are allergic to nuts).
Bake at 300 for 50 min or until golden brown. (mine take about an hour when I use the white dish below)



Game Day Meals

Nothing says "football" like a hearty bowl of chili or soup. I love serving soups during games because they allow me, as the hostess, to set it and forget it while I am enjoying my guests and cheering on my team. I like to serve this Chicken Tortilla Soup from the Pioneer Woman because it is unexpected and actually healthy!

Chicken Tortilla Soup (a la Pioneer Woman)
Ingredients
2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1-1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup Diced Onion
1/4 cup Diced Green Bell Pepper
1/4 cup Red Bell Pepper
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 can (10 Oz. Can) Rotel Tomatoes And Green Chilies
32 ounces, fluid Low Sodium Chicken Stock
3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
4 cups Hot Water
2 cans (15 Oz. Can) Black Beans, Drained
3 Tablespoons Cornmeal Or Masa
5 whole Corn Tortillas, Cut Into Uniform Strips Around 2 To 3 Inches
_____
FOR THE GARNISHES:
Sour Cream
Diced Avocado
Diced Red Onion
Salsa Or Pico De Gallo
Grated Monterey Jack Cheese
Cilantro
Preparation Instructions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cumin, chili pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix.
Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done.
Use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, red pepper, green pepper, and minced garlic.
Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.
Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.
Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Check seasonings, adding more if needed---add more chili powder if it needs more spice, and be sure not to undersalt. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips.









Alcohol


If I'm serving alcohol, I like to go with a team color theme! Since I live in Alabama, you are either a red fan or a blue fan...

Bama Sangria (actually this is Pioneer Woman's sangria)


2 cups pineapple chunks
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into cubes
2 unpeeled lemons, thinly sliced
2 unpeeled limes, thinly sliced
1 cup green seedless grapes
1 cup red seedless grapes
1 small unpeeled orange, thinly sliced
1.5 liter red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot or pinot noir, chilled
1.5 liter dry white wine, such as chardonnay, sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio, chilled
1 cup orange or citrus flavored rum
1 cup orange or citrus flavored vodka
1 cup sugar
Ice, for serving
Directions
Place the fruit in a large vat. Pour in the red wine, white wine, citrus rum and citrus vodka. Next, to add a subtle sweetness, dissolve the sugar in 1 cup water and add it to the mix. Stir well, then cover and refrigerate for several hours, giving the fruit and liquids time to meld. Serve in glasses over ice, and have tongs nearby so guests can help themselves to the fruit.

Tiger Punch (also great for baby boy showers!)

Ingredients:
Blue Curacao
2 bottles Lemonade (I used the bottled kind from the grocery store--it is lighter in color--good for mixing)
Peach Schnapps
Mix until desired color is achieved!


Want to see what else I'm cooking up this football season? You can check out my Game Day Pinterest boards. You can find all of my favorite recipes HERE as well!

Do you have any favorite game day treats/recipes? I'd love it if you'd share them with me! 

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pocket full of sunshine

Adorable Kristin from Crumbs and Curls has nominated me for a Sunshine Award. You are supposed to nominate blogs that always bring sunshine into your life. To me, that's a big honor, because I do try to be positive and upbeat on my blog because that is how I am in person. I think these blogger awards are fun and a great idea because positive encouragement is always a fantastic thing to receive! Of course, as I'm sure you know, there are rules that come into play when you are nominated for this award.

Here are the rules for the Sunshine Award:
1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you for the award.
2. Share eleven random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the eleven questions set by the blogger that nominated you.
4. Post eleven questions for the bloggers you nominate.
5. List and contact the bloggers you've nominated.

I'm going to break the rules and skip number 11, the random facts, simply because this blog is based on random facts about myself. What to know 11 new facts about me? Read this blog for a couple of days in a row and you should be all set!

Ok--here are Kristin's questions for me:

1. What celebrity would play you in a movie about your life? 
Sandra Bullock, for sure. I only say this because this really drunk guy on a plane told me one time that I look just like her. I don't really think that is true but it's my stock answer to this question. I really have no idea otherwise! 

2. What's the background on your phone right now?
It's a picture of my sweet fat kitty Stella Man (yes he is a boy--I didn't know that at first).  photo 1D6682EF-3868-47F8-B859-902ACB10305D-12395-0000061C843899DC.jpg  


3. What is your favorite blog post you've ever done?
Since it's football season I'm going to go with my football etiquette post OR my letter to Johnny Manziel.

4. What's the most creative thing you have ever done?
I really don't see myself as creative at all. I'm not arty and I don't have good vision when it comes to artistic stuff. I know what I want but I can't figure out how to get there, if that makes sense. I do decorate a table each year for the Girlfriend Gala which benefits United Way, and I think that they are always pretty creative. My bff Farrah always helps me in the execution though! 
 photo 5C5EF8FE-3F95-492D-B553-9045CFDDC57C-212-000000189E80F0D1_zps2782582f.jpg
This year's theme was an outdoor tea party

5. What was your dream job when you were a kid?
Boringly enough, I always wanted to be a lawyer, although I remember telling my mom in the grocery store once that I would like to work there because I could eat whatever I wanted. I went to court with my dad when I was about 4 and was instantly hooked. A job where you get to stand up and talk and everyone listens? Sign me up! Granted, I did think the Judge was a king for a while, so at 4 I may have had unrealistic expectations.  photo DSCF3739_zps8f1ebd5c.jpg  

6. If calories (or any other diet/health concerns) didn't count for the day what would you eat?
Party foods--hands down. I am at my eating prime when it comes to small party foods. Receptions? I'm all over it. Football tailgates, sign me up! Anything with dips, small sandwiches, pick up desserts, etc is right up my alley.  

7. What is your favorite season & why?
My favorite month is my own personal made up month, Spring-er. Spring is still too cool and summer is too hot, so I like spring-er, the in between time. Usually in Alabama it's May/June. If you make me commit I will say summer though because I hate being cold. You can always cool down but sometimes it's impossible to warm up! 
 photo null_zps7ee858f1.jpg My happy place

8. What are you majoring in/did you major in in college?
I was a double major in American Studies and Political Science and I had a minor in Spanish. Ole! 

9. What is your favorite dessert?
It's a tie--brownies or gooey chocolate chip cookies. 

10. Where is your favorite place to shop?
Can I say online? I really just got into the whole online shopping thing for Christmas. I mean, I order things online but I wouldn't say I usually "shop" online. If I'm going to the store, I will pick TJ Maxx. I have a love/hate relationship with the Maxx because I really get overwhelmed there, but you can't beat the deals so I try and suck it up. 

11. Is there anything that you've mastered in the kitchen?  What is it?
The fact that I actually use my kitchen baffles me. I college I ate at the sorority house and then in law school I lived off bagged salad and lean cuisine, so when I got married I was sure we would starve. However, I found that I really love cooking and trying out new recipes. I would say I've mastered many dishes and techniques, but I have not mastered the art of chopping. Can't do it--no way. I guess I'm afraid of cutting myself? 

Ok, well that was fun Kristin! Thanks!! Now it's time for me to nominate some of my favorite blogs and I choose: 
Harris Heart to Hearts

And my questions for them are: 
1. Do you ever see yourself stopping blogging? What reasons would lead you to that decision?
2. What was your first car??
3. What show on Netflix do I need to get into next (totally selfish question)
4. What relationship has influenced your life the most?
5. What is the one blog post you have in your mind that you are too afraid to actually write?
6. What is your favorite recipe? Include it if you can!
7. What is your dream vacation?
8.  Discuss your feeling on selfies. 
9. What is your biggest blogging pet peeve?
10. What is your best advice for new bloggers?
11. How often do you check your email?

Ok friends--have at it!
Grab a Friend


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Monday, November 11, 2013

Why I always use hand sanitizer

Hello and happy Veterans Day! A special shout out to all of our Veterans and active military personnel today. Your sacrifice to keep our country safe is truly appreciated! Special love today goes out to our sweet office runner, Clark, who is a veteran!
Ok so it's time to update you on the weekend. I'm sure you know where this is going--Bama football. The LSU game is one of the biggest games we play during the entire regular season. Usually, the fans are whipped into a frenzy on both sides by the time this game rolls around. LSU and Bama are in the same division of the SEC, and usually the winner of this game goes to the SEC Championship, which always has BCS national championship significance. This year was a little different because LSU had 2 losses so they definitely couldn't secure a SEC championship spot with a win, but wouldn't they like to take us down during our undefeated run. Forrest and I stayed in Friday night resting and getting our game faces on for the big game. We didn't have to leave until 1 so we also got to relax all Saturday morning. Of course, the ESPN guys were making me pretty nervous about the game, and on top of that I was watching bootlegged videos of the Miss Universe pageant on my phone, so I was pretty nervous (my sister is the 1st runner up to Miss USA and if she had won Miss Universe, my sister would have bumped up and been Miss USA).
We arrive in Tuscaloosa and went straight to the quad to do some tailgating. It had been YEARS since we were treated to a tailgate by the Heltons and I thought it was a good sign that they brought the tradition back for this big game. I was feeling very nostalgic at the tailgate because we started going to this same tailgate, put on by the family of one of Forrest's fraternity brothers, nearly 10 years ago. It made me feel pretty old, but at the same time, so thankful to have remained friends with everyone for so long!

 photo null_zpsa46d757f.jpg


My brother wanted to come to the game and my friend Carla had an extra ticket, so I gave him mine and sat with her. My sister even got to come to the game, so the fam was all in one place for a change.  photo null_zpsd51c2a76.jpg

When the game started, we looked pretty terrible, I have to admit. I was so frustrated I slapped my leg with my shaker so hard that now I have a bruise. Yes, Nick Saban would be upset by my frustrations, I'm aware. After half time, we apparently got it together because it was a different game all together. We dominated, both the team AND the fans were in tip top fighting conditions. It was SO loud in there and SO much fun. That is my favorite kind of game--the kind where everyone is doing their part to be dominating. We screaming, cheered, danced, hugged strangers, and helped our team come out with a big win! It was great to see the Coach run around the field, waving and thanking the fans for our dedication. I didn't even mind driving us all home, or getting into bed at 2am, simply because the day was well worth it.

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ROLL TIDE! "MHAQ"

Sunday was literally a day of rest. We got some errands done but mostly we looked like this the majority of the day:


 photo null_zps12408237.jpg


Ok--now I need to explain the title of my post. I wanted to get all the good stuff out there before I told this kind of icky story. While I was waiting on Carla to come back to her seats after half time, a girl comes shooting down the stairs from up above me and throws up all over the stairs in front of her and the hand rail. Poor girl keeps on running. Let me say that I couldn't tell how old she was or if she was sick or drunk or what, but she was pretty nimble getting down those stairs so I'm thinking sick. Anyway, I stood in the aisle (above said vomit) waiting for Carla so I could signal her to NOT step in it and to NOT touch the hand rail. The number of people who I saw glide their hand along the entire length of hand rail, vomit and all, was astounding, especially since I was there trying to flag them while waiting for Carla. Ick. Half of them didn't notice and half wiped their hand on their pants and kept going. THIS, my friends, is the reason I always use hand sanitizer--you never know when someone has just vomited on something you may have touched.

Did you watch our game this weekend? Thoughts??
Also, do you sanitize like I do? Surely I'm not the only one!!

Sami's Shenanigans
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Friday, November 8, 2013

I'm Loving It

Happy Friday folks! I thought we might not make it but thankfully, here we are! Let's dive into what I'm loving this week!

Yappy Hour 

Our local brewery, Back Forty, hosted a "yappy hour" in conjunction with the Humane Society. You bring your pet to the event, and a portion of the proceeds went to benefit the sweet babies at the shelter. Of course you know we were there! Ruffles was quite the social butterfly at first and even tried to jump into her "friend's" stroller. That girl knows the way to travel! She got scared when some big dogs arrived so I ended up carrying her the rest of the night. Sonny of course was LOVING every minute of it and made some great doggie friends. The event was such a roaring success that they are going to hold it every first Wednesday of the month! Hooray! 
 photo null_zps17f01225.jpg  photo null_zpsff60ede3.jpg
Sonny and his girlfriend, Bailey Ann, and Ruffles and I with Liz, Louie and Piper and Abbie and Mini

Getting ahead

In the spirit of getting ahead of the Christmas game, I did some more wrapping last night during the ball game. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to put those wrapped gifts away in the closet! Brownie loves helping with wrapping, and by that I mean chewing the tape and boxes. Thanks. 
 photo null_zps3d5468ae.jpg
Why do cats like to chew cardboard? Or more specifically, why do my cats like to chew cardboard?

Crock Pot meals

This week I started using the crock pot meals I froze a few weeks ago. I tried 2 new recipes and boy were they worth it! Of course I didn't take pictures of the finished products (because that would be too helpful) but here are the recipes for your convenience. I got them from Time of My Life

Beef Tips and Gravy (Forrest demolished this)
Label the bag:
"slow cooker; low 6-8 hours"

Throw in Ziploc:
1 1/2 lbs cubed beef (stew meat)
1pkt dry onion soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup (cream of anything works--I used 98% fat free)
1 14oz can beef broth (I used free range, low sodium, organic)
salt and pepper

Squeeze to mix, lay flat, freeze.


CREAMY CHICKEN HOTDISH

Label the bag:
"thaw overnight in fridge; remove 30 minutes prior to cooking; cover and bake @ 350 for 30 min.; uncover and bake 10-15 minutes more"

Throw in Ziploc:
1/2 pkg egg noodles, cooked (I used macaroni noodles)
2 c. cooked chicken (I bought a Rotisserie- remember I made two of these recipes)
1/2 pkg peas and carrots
1 c. milk
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 onion, chopped
1 Tblsp butter, melted
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Squeeze to mix, lay flat, freeze.

Rivalries 

Want to make my stomach flip? Remind me that Bama plays LSU tomorrow. This game is always a season changer and the thought of it makes me sick. Yes, I'm dressed in my houndstooth and red today and yes I'm confident in my teams' abilities to roll all over the tigers, but you just never know with this game! Especially after the beating Stanford laid on Oregon last night, I'm nervous--very nervous. 
 photo BamavLSU2008069_zps33d4be37.jpg
Me and Mt. Cody after Bama beat LSU in 2008 in Baton Rouge! One of my all time favorite games!

Alright loves! That's it for me! Hope you have a great weekend!
What are you loving this week? What am I missing out on???


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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thankful

Kenzie of Chasing Happy is doing a Thankful Project this month and today I'm getting on board. Today's topic is a job for which you are thankful. Well, I will be the first one to say that I'm beyond thankful for my job as an attorney, for several reasons. First of all, I was lucky enough to have a job waiting for me when I got out of law school. I'm extremely proud and blessed to work for my family's law firm and I'm grateful for that opportunity every day. Does this mean that I didn't have to work hard to get here? No. I had to bust my tail in high school to get a good scholarship to college, study like a mad woman to get a high GPA and even higher LSAT score to get into law school, and then really devote my life to studying in order to get out of law school alive and to pass the Bar. Whew--I'm tired just remembering all of that. I am so thankful that my dad and uncle believed in me enough to let me work here, to pay me a salary, and to basically allow me to fulfill my dream of being an attorney. Is it a glamorous job? No--but I love it for many many reasons. I love it because all of my days are different. I love that some days I'm in court, arguing away, and that other days, I'm seeing clients in the office. Most days are a mix of the two, with some paperwork, emails, and phone calls jammed in. I love that I have a profession that allows me to interact with people on a daily basis and that gets me out from behind my desk routinely. I truly appreciate the fact that my clients allow me into their lives when they hire me. Yes, I get stressed out and sometimes tired of putting out fires or hearing sad stories, but there is nothing like the understanding that someone has put their trust in you, in their worst hours. I'm honored to do the work that I do and could not imagine that I would be any more suited for any other job. I also know that I have gained a world of perspective from doing what I do. I think it's easy to think that the world is just as you experience it and that what is normal for you should be and is normal for everyone else. I know, first hand, that this is not the case. Being an attorney exposes you to all different people with varied backgrounds, and honestly, it reminds me that there is more to the world than my little sphere. This has taught me empathy and understanding, and I truly believe it has helped be become a more aware citizen.
I'm also thankful just to have a job at all. I know that there are a lot of people out there without employment and so I know I'm one of the lucky ones. There are also many people who have jobs but they are not in their field, and so again, I know I'm lucky. I hope that everyone out there truly cherishes the fact that they have stable employment, as it is not a given for every person.

 photo DSCF3411_zpsd079dfee.jpg
The day I passed the bar exam! My dad already had some cards printed up for me and a client waiting at the office!

 photo DSCF3739_zps8f1ebd5c.jpg
After I got sworn into the Alabama State Bar! Hooray!

So, in keeping with the project, I'm asking you today:
What makes you thankful for your job? What do you do and why do you like it? Are you well suited for your job or are you working out of your field? If you are no longer working, are you happy in your new role? Why or why not???
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Belated Thoughts on Halloween

So I really didn't get a Halloween this year because of the Service Guild Rummage Sale. After working all day and organizing rummage until 9pm every night, the thought of worrying about Halloween exhausted me. I mean, we don't have kids and no one trick or treats at our house, so I didn't see what the big deal was. I hated to miss the annual Howl-o-Weenie costume party which benefits the local humane society, but sometimes you just can't do it all. I was really sad about not getting to dress up though. It's so much fun to come up with a costume idea and get get to wear something crazy for the night. Last year I was a Toddler in Tiara and I had the best time making my outfit! This year, I ate Mexican with Forrest and my parents and went to be early. Boo. We are having "Famous Couples" dress up at supper club this month so I do get my costume fix after all. Can't wait to show you my outfit in a couple of weeks!


 photo null_zpsf523ce3e.jpg  photo null_zpsf77b4cfc.jpg
I did have this one little buddy come to visit me! Isn't he the most adorable Pooh ever?

The kids, however, were what really got to me this year. The day after Halloween there were all sorts of cute pics of my friends' kids on Facebook and Instagram. Oh my word. The tiny super heroes, princesses, and cartoon characters that I didn't recognize were completely adorable. Halloween is really all about kids, or acting like kids. I may be able to skip Halloween now, but hopefully one day we will have kids and I want to go ALL OUT! Family costumes, trick or treating, carving pumpkins, Halloween carnivals, the works.
I know this is a lot of random rambling, but I just felt like I needed to share my thoughts. I have never been all that hyped up about Halloween but I've always enjoyed it. I guess that's why it was so easy to skip it this year! I would really like to discuss topic so....

What are your thoughts on Halloween? Do you dress up or have any traditions? How have your Halloweens changed since having kids?
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