Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful Thursday (Week 3)

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It's Friday eve! Being crazy and attempting some more of this consistency with weekly thankfuls recap again (week 1 here, week 2 here). What has you feeling warm fuzzy thankfulness?

November 13th: 

61. cold weather (I really love it!)

62. leggings

63. warm tortillas

64. a swanky new coffee tumbler

65. CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS (and the warm fuzzies they give me)

November 14th: 

66. a solo three hour road trip for maximum car singing time

67. Total Woman U (our meeting tonight, our mission, the team aka my family, our goals and dreams, etc)

68. hugs 

69. the Holy Spirit

70. that my phone didn't die when I dropped I in my soup at dinner.

November 15th: 

71. chapstick

72. joggers (trendy name for baggy but somehow cute-ish sweat pants)

73. meeting people who really live for the gospel by doing things like uprooting their comfortable lives to live on mission in an area most people would be fearful of

74. blueberry scones

75. being with non-pretentious amazing friends while encountering pretentious hipsters.

November 16th: 

76. hearing Myles Manuel pray for his future adopted sister and brother at children's church this morning

77. Hazel cuddles

78. help from my roommate in the kitchen for the Thanksgiving dinner for our college girls (as well as company from her and her sister while I did my least favorite chore - hanging clothes)

79. hosting a house full of people (14!)

80. that so many of the college girls we get to hang out with came to Arise this morning and to our Thanksgiving dinner tonight

November 17th: 

81. my red coat

82. She Reads Truth

83. an understanding boss

84. therapeutic tears

85. heated car seats

November 18th: 

(Note: November 18th was the anniversary of my dad's death. I wanted to attempt to be extra thankful on a hard day.)

86. the texts, facebook messages, and prayers of so many friends

87. an amazing department who understands that grief is worthy of a sick day too

88. hot cocoa with peppermint marshmallows (PINK HOT COCOA)

89. a cozy sweatshirt

90. friends who make me plan a dinner to celebrate my dad at the place he always wanted to go when he came to visit me in Clinton, MargaritERs (yep, that's how he said it)

91. how my dad selflessly took care of so many people

92. that my dad gave his life to Jesus and prayed for me and my brother everyday

93. that my dad taught me to save money (even though I just recently put it into practice) and avoid credit cards (I'd be terrible at them)

94. that my dad never gave up on people

95. that I never stop missing my dad regardless of the years that pass by without him

November 19th: 

96. pumpkin donut muffins

97. blogging mojo

98. the warm fuzzies writing provides

99. my new tiny bow necklace, Wednesday nights (Missional community AND friend Nashville watching)

100. unexpected happy mail

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Creamy Kale Dip

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A few "fun" facts: 

1. It's been so long since I've posted a recipe, I had to go in search of the last recipe I posted to remember how I format recipe posts.  

2. (insert dramatic pause with gasps and lots of  exaggerated dot dot dots)...

This is the first recipe I've posted in 2014... 

... (we needed some dramatic extra dot dot dots here)

... IT'S NOVEMBER! And not just November, but November 19th. What the heck?! I AM SORRY!  

3. The last time I even kind of posted a recipe was on September 20th, 2013. Even then, it was just linking to one of my recipes posted somewhere else. 

4. The last real recipe I posted was on July 13th, 2013.

5. That was 1 year and 4 months ago. That was 495 days ago. That was 70 weeks ago. (Who knew the internet had a date calculator to insert dramatic unnecessary facts.) That was several job interviews, another job, another house, hundreds of cupcakes, over a thousand cookies, way too many pictures of food, unimaginable pounds of butter and cartons of eggs, and a feature article in a food magazine ago. 

6. This is a food blog. Apparently food blog is a loose term and doesn't always include food. Or anything. Oops. 

I AM SO SORRY! I know I don't have to apologize to you, but I'm apologizing to me too! I have 16 posts saved in my drafts that I never finished and 500 pictures saved on my phone and on clouds that I never used. Let's call 2014 the year of transition and the year that I got lost. It was a GREAT year, I hope to write more about just how great it was. But it was busy year. A busy busy busy year. A year where I prided myself on not following other people's rules, loved myself more than I ever have, and loved my life more than I ever have. But it was also a year where I felt like blogging had too many rules I thought I had to follow and therefore not enough time to make perfect posts to fit into perfect rules. Not the right backgrounds, not the right lighting, not healthy enough, not decadent enough, not unique enough, too wordy, not enough words, too shallow, too deep, too broad, not broad enough, and so on. 

Today, I just want a recipe. And so I'm going to. 

If you're a post college grad (aka old enough to want to contribute) but still the younger generation in your family like me (aka still the niece/nephew, granddaughter/grandson, daughter/son, etc. and not one of the matriarchs/patriarchs of the family), it's likely all of the staple holiday dishes are claimed with white knuckles and when you ask what you can bring they tell you ice, cups, or canned cranberry sauce. I declare that instead of getting our own white knuckles in a passionate speech about how you're an adult now and want to contribute too (maybe I'm the only one who has such speeches prepared), just bring that ice or those cups, and some non-claimed dish to knock their socks off and do all the talking for you (no speeches required). 

If they assign you cranberry sauce, make your own dang homemade cranberry sauce (I've been using this recipe for years, and now it's MY claimed staple). Bring a seemingly fancy secretly easy fall side dish they've never thought of  (like pumpkin spiced roasted butternut squash or spicy roasted brussel sprouts with cranberries and toasted pecans). Bake a fall flavored dessert that's not pie (I'm bringing pumpkin cobbler this year and giving you a pumpkin spice trifle recipe soon). And my favorite idea, MAKE THE APPS! Appetizers, not to be confused with applications. Appetizers are frequently forgotten for holiday feasts, especially Thanksgiving. But what a great idea! Instead of everyone having to sneak bites of turkey behind Mr. Protector of the Turkey's back while waiting for the Mr. and Mrs. Always Late, be the Miss Thanksgiving Hero with your apps! 


  • 1 16 oz bag chopped kale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (the kind in a jar), divided
  • 1 cup fat free may (It exists! Kraft brand with a red cap. If you are a mayo snob, it's in a recipe mixed with other things and is not the main star, so just try it, or go for full fat if you must.)
  • 1 cup fat free plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fat free sour cream
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat parmesan cheese (the kind you shake on pizza)
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce


Saute kale in two batches. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of garlic, distribute around pan, then add half of the kale. Saute for about 3-5 minutes tossing it with tongs until all the leaves are turning a bright green color. Don't overcook! You just want to bring out the brightness of the kale and infuse it with the garlic and olive oil. Set first batch aside on a baking sheet lined with paper towels and repeat with remaining oil, 1 more teaspoon of garlic, and the rest of the kale. Put the second batch on another baking sheet lined with paper towels to dry.

Mix mayo, greek yogurt, sour cream, parmesan, last teaspoon of garlic, seasonings, and spices together in a large bowl. Set aside. With more paper towels, squeeze out any excess natural waters from the kale. Use a food processor (or a good knife and elbow grease) to chop the kale up finely. Mix finely chopped kale with creamy mixture. Add liquid hot sauce to taste, probably about 2 teaspoons to give it a good kick. Let chill for at least an hour. Hollow out a bread bowl to serve it in for extra fun flare. Serve with carrot chips, celery, bell pepper sticks, crackers, or bread cubes. 

Note: I made this for a friend gathering with girls and guys, and everyone loved it and didn't believe it was healthy!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thankful Thursday (Week 2)

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Happy almost Friday! Just attempting some consistency and my weekly thankfuls recap again (week 1 here). What has you feeling warm fuzzy thankfulness? 

November 6th: 

26. the big truck in front of me on the way to work this morning that stirred up a magical trail of leaves to flutter in front of me all the way to Hinds 

27. technology like myfitnesspal and pedometer apps that make making healthier choices seem less overwhelming

28. project starfish

29. 105.1's 24/7 Christmas music

30. realizing in my blogging absence somehow my page views crossed the 200,000 mark (WHAT?!).

November 7th: 

31. gold glitter pointy toe flats that cost $9

32. crisp air

33. that I live in the real life version of Stars' Hollow

34. the ability to fight lies

35. a cozy bed

November 8th:

36. new dangly earrings


38. house groceries being finished until after thanksgiving

39. cutest picture with Hazel Taylor ever

40.  Harry Potter themed birthday parties

November 9th: 

41. how free I feel to weep on Sundays with my gospel family 

42.  that bath and body works makes candles that smell like hugging attractive men (mahogany teakwood, sparkling icicles, black tie, sweater weather, flannel, etc) AND that they are 2 for $22 right now

43. a roommate teamwork productive afternoon getting our house back together after renovations, 

44. crockpots (and the best/easiest potato soup recipe ever) 

45. God giving me a prayer inspired by the message today to pray through these not so easy grief days and holiday days of missing my dad. "I pray that I would stay in my pain and grief, standing in your glory, clinging to the faith and hope that you are better, instead of running to and back to temptations that entangle, numb, and hide the pain."

November 10th:

46. the cure for most ailments and aches being rest and the luxury of having a job that comes with sick time to partake of healing rest (made my back mad at me, no biggie, it's feeling better now)

47. clean sheets

48. dinner at the table

49. Tyler Florence (he is a beautiful man to watch cook)

50. planning holiday party/meal food offerings

November 11th: 

51. new mercies

52. friends I can reach out to about ugly temptations who never judge but rise up to pray and fight with me

53. positive responses to a cheesy work thanksgiving brunch idea/email

54. an accountability group that's so life giving that even when I think I don't want to go or talk because I'm too emotional and having a heavy grief day, I still go because we love each other in our messes so much that I can talk and cry and they love and give and ask the right questions that make me feel loved and never judged

55. for the patience of amazing roommates who handle my moods and ocd tendencies way more graciously than I deserve!

Side note: I'm quite thankful that so many of my thankfuls are about the amazing people in my life. Today was an unexpectedly emotionally hard day grief day (that I'm actually also thankful for) and precisely the reason why I needed to establish a pattern of focusing on giving thanks for big things, small things, deep things, and silly things.

November 12th: 

56. how beautiful Clinton Raymond road is on my drive to and from work

57. recipe creativity success

58. memories

59. that googling deskercise produced lots of ideas that have now left me a little sore

60. cvs clearance nail polish

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thankful Thursday (Week 1)

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Remember that time I used to post things on my blog? Oops.

Hey y'all, my long lost blog and the few people who didn't give up on me and still read my words. I could say a bunch of things about the lack of posting and make promises I probably can't keep, but I won't. I'm just gonna say...

Hey. I missed you. How are you? Let's be friends again.

Also, remember that time I posted this post about thankfulness last January and had big dreams of being intentionally thankful all year? For the most part that didn't happen guys. I will say that "project" helped me focus on positivity vs. negativity, which is a total victory to celebrate. BUT, as far as intentionally taking time to be consistently thoughtfully thankful for things big and small, it didn't happen.

It's November, so naturally people are on the thankful bandwagon again. At first, I resisted. But, I decided I don't want to miss an opportunity to be intentionally thankful for a month even if it's trendy, cliche, or cheesy. Who the heck cares?! Taking time to shift how we think about life and add positivity is good for us whether it's a bandwagon thing or not. My "make your own rules" mentality tries to skip bandwagons sometimes, but sometimes, it's also just called pride. November is a hard month for me, my hardest (anniversary of my Dad's death + holiday season without him). I started to post ALL of this, and my catching up for the days I resisted, on Facebook. But something about it felt more flashy than genuine and less like an accountability effort to actually do it and more about showing off my list making skills.

Therefore, today I'm sharing my catching up list and my goals with you guys. Somehow this feels more genuine and I'm okay with that. My goal is five thankfuls a day. I will be writing them in my journal and possibly posting them on Facebook most days. Why Facebook? Well, I like sharing and think social media if used correctly (not as a crutch, not as an isolation tool, not as false sense of community/community substitute, not as an addiction, and not to compare or be mean) can make our community richer and help spur one another one. I also might post them as a weekly round up here. Maybe I'll steal the clever and catchy Thankful Thursday. Maybe. Regardless of where I share, or if I share, or if I skip a few days or a week, my goal isn't to check it off my to do list, though I do love a good check mark. My goal is to preach positivity to myself in a month that comes with some pain and heartache. My goal is to be thankful for deep things and shallow things, big things and small things, fun things, silly things, growth things, hard things, ALL THE THINGS! Join me if you wish, but if anytime is a time to intentionally give thanks, November kind of easily sets itself up for that in America, but for me personally, my November needs this. And now, let's catch up! 

November 1st: 

1. new tattoos/tattoo viewing crew 

2. the Babalu burger 

3. the coolest temperatures of fall so far 

4. Mallory and how pleasant and fun she makes getting new tattoos 

5. a working heater 

November 2nd: 

6. a church family that serves together 

7. being in dirty "work clothes" at McAlisters amongst lots of "church clothes" 

8. cast iron skillets 

9. cheap apple season 

10. our growing group of college girls 

November 3rd: 

11. caramel brulee lattes 

12. red cups at Starbucks 

13. meal planning 

14. days of the week notepads 

15. a fun night with my roommates 

November 4th: 

16. colorful fountain pens 

17. my new lunch box 

18. Dollar General lunch breaks (it's the only store I'm not scared to go in in Raymond and I actually love it) 

19. texts from my best friend 

20. my amazing DNA group 

November 5th: 

21. breakfast meetings at Chick-Fil-A 

22. work encouragement/purpose 

23. #fireworkpeople 

24. seeing Arise Church traditions form (2nd Halloween party and 2nd Rake it to the Streets just happened and super pumped about our 2nd Thanksgiving dinner for people in our community) 

25. looking temptation in the face and saying no, you don't win today! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Meal Planning 101: Week 53 and Fresh at Five Week 2

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Decided to put my meal plan and Farmers' Market update in one! I use things I buy from the market in my meal planning, so it made sense. :) I'll note what things I bought at the market or what things you can buy at the market.


Leftover crockpot roast, veggies (take advantage of local fresh veggies from the market), rice, and gravy


French dip sandwiches (using leftover pot roast) with roasted squash and zucchini (can be purchased at the market)


I'm hosting Missional Community this week! We'll be having a taco bar with several ingredients from the market! 


Grilled salmon, grilled corn on the cob, and grilled stuffed peppers (peppers can be purchased at the market)


Salmon mango salsa tacos, spicy black beans, mango salsa avocado salad, and baked tortilla chips 




Buffalo chicken wrap and roasted sweet potato wedges 


Lunches - tuna salad
Baking - summer bread puddings

Every Tuesday (weather permitting) on Jefferson Street in Clinton, MS!

This week's vendors are: 

Love's Hawaiian Shaved Ice and Snacks - shaved ice
Chuck Jones - blueberries
Smoothie King - smoothie samples
Eat Cities - sauces and rubs
Kazery Farm -
T & R Dairy Farm - hormone free beef, milk, artisan cheeses, cheese spreads
Lee Lee's Garden - plants and seedlings
Dad's Disappearing Salsa - salsa and dip mixes
Amber Farms - tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, eggplant
Mississippi Cold Drip - Iced coffee, iced chai, coffee and chai concentrate
Simple Woods and Produce
Kasia's Kitchen - sweet tea and lemonade
Benet Luchion - botanicals
Boyd Farms - squash, zucchini, peppers, eggs, tomatoes
Grumpy Dave's Kettle Corn - kettle corn, caramel corn, local honey
Lilee's Gourmet Bakery - baked goods
LaRose Freshest Produce - kale, squash, zucchini
Pickled Pickin's - pickled things, salsa
The High Heeled Hippie - cherry tomatoes, red, white, and gold potatoes, baby squash, mint and other herbs, beets and carrots

This week's fun extras are: 

Live music by violinist Redin Spann
Canning demonstration by the MSU Extension Service
Cooking demonstration using market ingredients by Marsha Barham, former Viking Cooking School Director
Tote giveaway to Friends of the Market
Best of Sweet Tea with a Flavorful Twist competition

Follow the Mainstreet Clinton Facebook page for more info! 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Meal Planning 101: Week 52

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Okay so I'm officially really late posting this, but I had to post it anyway because I actually did it and it's week 52! I've officially given you a years worth of meal plans. It took me more than a year to get there, but I'll call that a mile stone. I had a fight with some freakish sickness that the doctor never figured out Thursday-Friday and was still weak through Monday. As a result, everything was a bit hectic, and this was late!

I actually made that crockpot meal last night, but ended up having friends come in town. I was scared I didn't have enough to feed all 5 of us! So we went out to eat. Therefore everything is getting bumped down so you'll see that grilled things meal on next weeks too. The meal plan with adjustments is as follows: 


Leftover Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, Salad, and Garlic Bread


Out with friends (we had Hot Bowl Mongolian Grill)


Missional Community Meal (it's the other team's food week)


Crockpot Roast, Carrots, and Green Beans with Rice and Gravy


Leftover Roast and Veggies


French Dip Sandwiches (using leftover roast and au jus) and Roasted Squash and Zucchini 


Leftover French Dip Sandwiches and Veggies


Lunches: veggie heavy chicken salad, avocado halves, crackers, and blueberries
Breakfast: Better Oats oatmeal with a cup of frozen fruit mixed in and a tablespoon of chia seeds
Savory Snacks: fat free cilantro jalapeno ranch dip and assorted veggies
Sweet Snacks: fruit with fat free sweet condensed milk or cool whip

Also, I've been adding frozen fruit to my water and I'm able to drink so much more! I'm up to 96 ounces a day easily! 

I also must confess my meal planning has taken a turn for the... well, I think better, but some non-planners may say worse. I now have a spreadsheet! The new job is once a month pay vs my previouw every other week pay. I wanted to plan monthly, but buy every other week since I share a fridge with two other people. In order to do that and not overspend, planning a month out in the beginning seemed like a good idea to me. And I'll have roommates moving in soon who want to eat meals together. Thus the spreadsheet came about! Helps me plan for dinners, lunches, and be sure I write down all the groceries that correspond. Downside... Google spreadsheets apparently doesn't do spell check yet... Don't judge any major typos. Who can spell zucchini or pancetta without spell check?? If you have Google docs I can share a copy with you, just let me know! :) 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Fresh at Five Week 1

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You've surely heard me talk about my love for my Stars' Hollow-esque town, Clinton, MS. The whole town is great, but by far, the Olde Towne area is the best! In Olde Towne the streets are made of brick, the shops are local and adorable, there is a perfect outdoor courtyard with string lights, the locals are the friendliest, and it truly looks like it could have come from a movie or tv show! Our Main Street Clinton promotions committee plans events to add to the magical feeling of the town. We have outdoor movie nights on the brickstreets in the spring and fall. On Saturdays in spring and fall there are huge outdoor markets with handmade things. I love it all! Buy by far, my favorite thing my lovely little down does is the summer farmers' market, Fresh at Five. It's every Tuesday in June, July, and August from 5:00 - 7:00. As a huge advocate for the market, I volunteered to use my blog to post to promote before the markets! I will very likely be doing a Fresh at Five Finds follow up post. AND, I'm actually a vendor this year, providing sweet tea and lemonade for $1 for the thirsty shoppers! If you live in Clinton or the Jackson-Metro area, join us! 

This week's fun extras are: 
The Fire v. Police Grill-off
Live music by Jason Smith
Dinner options from Garden to Fire Pizza and 303 Jefferson

This week's vendors are: 

*NEW* T&R Dairy Farm: hormone free beef, milk, artisan cheeses, cheese spreads
*NEW* Lee Lee's Garden: strawberry plants, jade plants, purple heart plants, vegetable plant seedlings
*NEW* Kasia's Kitchen: sweet tea, lemonade
*NEW* Love's Hawaiian Ice: shaved ice
*NEW* Amber Farms: tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, eggplant
Garden to Fire: brick oven pizzas
Boyd Farms: squash, zucchini, peppers, eggs, tomatoes
The High Heeled Hippie: heirloom tomato plants, beets, baby carrots, radishes, cabbage, lettuce, mint, parsley, oregano, rosemary, dill
Pickled Pickin's: pickles, salsa
Mississippi Cold Drip: cold brew ice coffee concentrate, flavored sweeteners
Little Leaf Farm: green and red lettuce, beets, chard, pak choi Asian greens, basil, mint, dill, cilantro, cherry tomatoes
Dave Bufkin: kettle korn
Footprint Farms: lettuce, cherry tomatoes, onions, herbs, beets, turnips
Dad's Disappearing Salsa: salsa mix
Lilee's Gourmet Bakery: zucchini bread (gluten free and low calorie available)
LaRose Freshest Produce: kale, squash, zucchini
Benet Luchion: botanicals
Make Mine Fabulous: baked goods

Summer 2014 Market Dates:

June 3, 10, 17, 24
July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
August 5, 12, 19, 26

Meal Planning 101: Week 51

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I tried so hard to get the meal plan posted on Monday for #mealplanmonday! Between working 8:00 - 4:30, having 2 posts posting on 2 other blogs, making 3 gallons of sweet tea and 3 gallons of lemonade, making dinner, hosting an on-line fundraising party for a friend's adoption, cellular data not working, and being determined to get "self pedicure" marked off the to do list, it just didn't happen. BUT, I feel somewhat transitioned now and ready to be blogging again. I promise to TRY and post regularly and get some recipes coming at you soon. I meal plan for every week anyway, so this post should be easy to make happen again. There is also a life update post in the works!

I scored some MAJOR managers special deals that shaped my meal plan a little. I also discovered I have a weakness... Manager special breads. Well, managers special anything really. But my freezer has quite a few bread purchases acquired from managers special deals. I have a multigrain nut loaf and a cranberry walnut loaf that will become a bread pudding concoction very soon! Some wheat rolls will be used for french dip sandwiches next week. AND a sourdough square is becoming some fancy grilled cheeses this week. I don't know if this is a hard and fast rule, but my Kroger marks LOTS down on Sundays. If you live in Clinton, pretend I didn't just reveal my secret to you... But if you live elsewhere, check your stores out!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Birthday Convictions, Reflections, and Transparency

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This started out as a Facebook post and was becoming a VERY long! I decided to post it here in this neglected space instead. In case you didn't know, today is my 31st birthday! Before 8 am I was already blown away by the kindness of the people God has placed in my life. My super awesome Fairy Garden birthday party is taking place on Saturday. I think birthdays should always fall on weekends! Weekday birthdays when you aren't celebrating until the after, or before even, confuse you on how to feel about your real birthday! Okay, maybe it doesn't confuse you, but it confuses me! Some people don't like or care about birthdays. I however love them! So it's always an emotional struggle when my birthday celebration isn't on my birthday. I'm incapable of not caring about either day, real birthday or postponed birthday. Selfish right?? I believe in transparency so I'm all about sharing the ugly sides with you too. And this sinful selfishness is admittedly an ugly side. So all that to say, I have some birthday thoughts/reflections already this morning. 

It's been a great day already and most of that greatness happened before 8 am. I was convinced it wouldn't be a good day, but now I'm convinced it will continue to be. I'll likely share a play by play via social media all day, but first, I really want to be cheesy and attribute this birthday happiness to someone else. I know myself REALLY well! I know my triggers and patterns. I've been praying since Sunday that I wouldn't be a jerk on my birthday. I know I'm sinfully selfish. I know I love birthdays. I knew spending the day at a new job with people who don't know me yet or that it's my birthday had the potential to make me feel lonely and therefore sour. I also knew that postponing birthday celebrations until Saturday meant my actual birthday might not feel special. I also knew if I was a jerk to my friends for not making me feel special (see?? narcissistic, sinful, selfish, being real here!), I'd feel like an even bigger jerk come birthday party day when they would be so kind and supportive and celebratory. I was prepared for a foul day. How silly! 

As I was driving to work praying after spending not nearly as much time as I would have liked to spend with Jesus, the song I'm currently obsessed with, "You Make Me Brave" by Bethel Music, came on as it does every morning so far on my drive. I always am moved by the lyric, "You call me out beyond the shore into the waves." But today I was moved to tears by the lyric, "Your love wave after wave, crashes over me. For you are for us, you are not against us." As I was already overwhelmed with the love of the friends He's given me crashing over me, I was even more overwhelmed with His love! As selfish as I am, and as minor as something like a birthday is, of course He didn't want me to have a bad birthday! 

One of the most meaningful things I learned while at seminary was brought to mind. It wasn't from a lecture or a book, it was from a simple short devotion a professor delivered to our class. He talked about Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding banquet. Of all the miracles He did, a fairly simple one in comparison. But our professor made the very memorable point that it mattered to Mary, so it mattered to Jesus. She cared about that banquet. As a good hostess, she was stressed out about running out of wine to serve her guests (my inner hostess totally understands)! And because it mattered to Mary, it mattered to Jesus. The little things we care about, matter to Him too! I poured my heart out in genuine prayer, not asking for a good day, but just asking that I wouldn't be a sinful selfish jerk to my friends, and He answered! Bring your little things to Him too, He really does care. 

(Disclaimer, I did not irresponsibly type this at work at my new job! I typed it at Starbucks from my phone. I just ran out of time to press send before I had to drive. Therefore, I pressed send from my phone whilst taking a bathroom break. TMI? Oh well.)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Meal Planning 101: Week 50

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Once upon a time... I had the best week ever that was also one of the weirdest weeks ever. From a Saturday to a Saturday I got to lead a girl through making the life changing decision to follow Jesus, I traveled 6 hours in one day, I had the stomach bug for 5 days, my ability to eat and follow through with the meals I planned was shot for about 7 days (due to stomach bug and the recovering from the bug stomach situation), I was offered a job I really wanted (and accepted!), I found out where I'd be living next, AND I was featured in a magazine for this blog! WHAT?! Craziest week ever. So due to that stuff, I didn't bring you a meal plan next week. BUT, since I didn't have a whole meal plan last week, that means this week's meal plan is gonna have some extras! Woo!

For my first meal to cook after that dreaded stomach bug, I came up with a yummy concoction I'm calling Black Bean Enchilada Bake. It was 7 delicious filling points on Weight Watchers per serving and I will be bringing that recipe to you soon (top left picture). I also came up with a equally delicious, super low point dip/sauce/dressing/eat-it-on-everything recipe (also coming soon). We're calling it Cilantro Jalapeno Ranch (top right picture) and it's 1 point for 2 tablespoons or 2 for a whole 1/4 cup! It's pretty much delicious on everything - celery, chips, baked potatoes, tacos, sandwiches, wraps, enchilada bakes, spoons, fingers. I've also been eating avocado on pretty much everything and using every crock pot I own (okay I only have 2, I just like being dramatic for flare) to do easy meal prep. To the meal plan!


salsa chicken stuffed baked sweet potatoes (topped with green onions, avocado, and cilantro jalapeno ranch) and roasted green beans


OWLs Dinner and Prayer Club: bring roasted sweet potatoes


Missional Community meal: making waffles (of the pumpkin and buttermilk varieties)




Friendgroup party: bringing iced sugar cookies (of course) and creamy kale dip with crudites (We start and lunch and stay until after dinner and eat our snacky goods for lunch and dinner. We don't do short gatherings.)


baked salmon, roasted sweet potatoes, and spicy kale chips


Easter goodies somewhere: I'll probably bring deviled eggs

Freebie Meals: 

black bean enchilada bake, roasted kale and tomatoes, and avocado

grilled chicken tenders, baked sweet potatoes, and hummus


breakfast this week - greek yogurt, grape fruit cups, and kiwi

healthy snack option #1 - cilantro jalapeno ranch and celery sticks

healthy snack option #2 - sliced bell pepper and hummus

healthy dessert option - greek yogurt chocolate pudding

What are you eating this week? What's your favorite Easter dish? Post your weekly meal plan in the comment section below! You can also link your meal plan up over at Organizing Junkie and see even more people who are meal planning. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

DIY Beauty

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This post is long overdue! I talk about it all the time. I've told the story of what I do SO many times. But for some reason I couldn't bring myself to type it up and put my official endorsement on it. I think mentally I wanted to REALLY make sure I believed in these beauty methods before I advertised them. I wanted to make it through sweaty months and dry months (those are the two seasons for the South right?) and make sure I still thought it worked. And guess what? I do! August 4th was the last time I used shampoo. Sometime in June or July was the last time I bought shampoo, conditioner, face wash, or scalp treatment. I haven't shampooed my hair in almost 9 months. Sitting here typing this, I haven't washed my hair at all in four days and it looks as fresh as ever. Adopting this DIY beauty routine, I went from NEEDING to wash my hair every day or every other day if I used dry shampoo, to washing it every 5 days. Intrigued? Grossed out? Keep reading! :)

My bathroom sort of looks like a pantry or science experiment these days, but I LOVE it. And let me say, these "methods" aren't just for granola/hippie/hipster people! Not that I don't love me some granola hipsters, I'm just not one of them. I like kale and chia seeds with the best of them, but I can admit when I think it's just as easy and effective to do something the "normal" way. I hate the word normal, by the way, but for lack of a better term it works. For instance, I made DIY laundry soap once. It was fine. It worked okay. But regular store bought laundry soap seemed to get my clothes cleaner! So I went back to buying it. You know I love making things from scratch. I don't believe in most cake mixes (unless you doctor them up) and I make my own chocolate syrup. I don't do these things because of additives and preservatives, I just prefer the taste AND think it's just as simple. However, I made an angel food cake from scratch once, and it was good, but it tasted pretty much exactly the same and was a heck of a lot more time consuming. Therefore, if I make angel food cake, I use a box mix OR I buy it premade (GASP!). I also love a box brownie mix, but that's another story for another day. All that to say, I'm not one of those DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF AND NATURAL people. I love those people, but I'm not one of them. So if you think this is only for those people, it's not! Do you like things that work? Do you like things that save money? Do you hate washing and drying your hair everyday? Well this is for you!     


  • baking soda - baking isle for a smaller box, laundry isle for a big box (Generic brand is fine! I used to get the big box from Wal-mart for $2.50. 1 box lasts 3 months for my long hair. I recently bought a HUGE bag from Sam's. It will probably last me over a year! )
  • regular apple cider vinegar - usually by cooking oils (Generic brand is fine!)
  • raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar - sometimes with regular vinegar, sometimes in the organic section (It will say "with the 'mother'" on it. Don't ask me what that means, but it's not clear like the other kind and a little bit more expensive. I use Bragg's, but Heinz has one too I believe.)
  • organic coconut oil - sometimes on the regular cooking oils isle, but also in the organic section (All brands are pretty much the same, just get organic.)
  • essential oil - usually organic section (I use lavender, but tea tree oil smells good too. I just just have a sensitivity to it.)
  • cornstarch - baking isle (Generic brand is fine!)
  • cocoa powder if you have dark hair - baking isle (Generic brand is fine!)
  • Wilton icing bottles - specialty baking isle (They come in a pack of two, are cheap, and perfect for this! You can also use hair color bottles from Sally's.)
  • miniature spray bottle - travel section (optional)    

I'll talk about what each product can be used for, how I use it, why I think it works, and answer questions people frequently ask.



My fellow blogging, nail polish addict, and make-up loving friend Jessica over at Meet the Magnolias told me about this "no-poo" (short for no shampoo) method by sharing her experience with me! First, I don't like to call it "no-poo" because well, it should be obvious (it sounds gross!). Second, I'm much more likely to try something when someone I know tells me it really works. The link she shared that I base my mixture off of is from Mind Body Green.

Why switch? It works and it's healthier for your hair! Shampoo, though a genius marketing move, is actually really bad for your hair. Without fail when people tell me my hair looks so good and healthy and I announce that I haven't washed in 3-6 days or used shampoo in 8 months the first words out of their mouths are always, "I HAVE to wash mine everyday, it's so oily!" Our hair is oily BECAUSE of the shampoo. I used to HAVE to wash mine every day too. Shampoo strips your scalp of oils it actually needs. As a result, your scalp is constantly trying to rebuild those oils. THUS oily hair. It's a trap. You wash your hair daily because it's oily. Because you wash it daily the scalp works fast to replenish needed oils. Therefore you wash it more and more. Then it gets and feels unhealthy because of all the washing. Therefore you have to spend more money to buy treatments and super strength conditioners. Whew! That makes me tired enough to try something else. And... I don't know very many women who ENJOY blow drying their hair everyday. Which guess what? Blow drying every day is also bad for your hair!

Do note that there is a transition phase! You probably will have to wash more often in the beginning. Give yourself 4 to 6 weeks and then  you'll start to see the benefits -- faster growing hair, healthier hair, less frizzy hair, stronger hair, etc. Just google it! Tons of people have written about it and the benefits. Google baking soda shampoo or no-poo shampoo. My transition phase was about 2 weeks, but I had already trained my hair to go 2 to 3 days without washing. If you are an every day washer, your phase might take longer. Just give it 6 weeks! During the 6 weeks, DO NOT wash your hair every day. This method isn't actually good for you hair if you do it everyday! The point is to not need to wash it daily. Be sure to find a dry shampoo you like because you will need it during transition phase.


The formula that seems to work best for me is 1 part baking soda to 2-3 parts water for my "shampoo" mixture. Different blogs vary for the ratio, but I've tried many and for me this is perfect. For my length hair, which is on the longer side, about mid back, I use 3 tablespoons of baking soda and 7ish tablespoons of water. I keep a tablespoon measuring spoon in my bathroom along with a mason jar of baking soda (and other things you'll hear about later). I keep my mixing bottles in the shower. On the mornings I need to wash my hair, I measure out the baking soda into the bottle, add the water, and shake. It can settle if it takes a long time from the time  mixed to the time of use, so shake it again before application. You can make it the night before as well and just shake it before use in the morning. I wet my hair in the shower first, just like you would for normal shampooing. Then I squeeze the mixture all around my scalp, concentrating first on oilier parts (for me the hair line, front, and crown). I squeeze the rest of the mixture on the back of my scalp and any leftover down my hair. I rub it in and scrub with my fingertips just like I would with shampoo -- just sans foaming. I do this in the beginning of my shower routine so it can sit on my scalp for several minutes and then rinse it out. For most washing days I follow with a vinegar, lavender oil, water mixture for shine and detangling that I'll discuss under the vinegar section. 

-FAQs on Baking Soda as Shampoo-

  • Is it safe for color treated hair? I color my hair every 3-4 months at home. I personally think it makes my color keep longer. I'm a fake red head, red fades the fastest, and mine really doesn't fade all that much. When I color my hair, I DO use all the components of the kit. It doesn't mess me up. I've read suggestions for people who get color in salon to definitely let them wash your hair when you get it colored (necessary!), just request a sulfate free shampoo. Apparently 99.9 % of salons have it. According to my reading, it only sets you back a few days in the training you've done to your hair. 
  • Don't you miss suds? I did at first! I'm used to it now. The benefits outweigh the luscious feeling of a lather. 
  • What if you have a scalp condition? I have scalp psoriasis. It neither makes my scalp better or worse. It burns slightly, but so do expensive shampoos I buy for my scalp. I can't speak for whether it makes dandruff worse. Usually in the winter I get a little normal dandruff along with my scalp psoriasis, but this winter while using this method I did not. 
  • What about working out? I pull my hair up in a no crease hair tie, pin back any bangs and pieces that don't fit, and I'm fine. I know some people get sweaty scalp, but I don't! If I do, it's around the edges, and once I get home I wipe around my face and the face framing portions of my hair with a baby wipe then blow dry any damp pieces. 
  • What about salon visits? Having someone wash my hair and the salon when I go in for a cut is what I miss most! Someone else washing your hair is just a lovely feeling. But I willingly gave it up! If you prefer a wet cut like I do, wash before you go. I wash my hair right before I go, and then I opt for letting them fix it. It feels just as relaxing for someone to dry and style your hair to me as it does for them to wash it. 


When I realized baking soda actually worked for shampooing, I was amazed and wanted to know what else it did. This post and this post convinced me to try DIY beauty full force, and now I'm sold. In a mini mason jar with a plastic lid, I keep a mixture of 1 part baking soda to 1 part water to use for face wash. I'm uncertain on exact measurements of this, but it should be a liquidy paste consistency. Runnier than toothpaste, but not as liquid as your shampoo mixture.It shouldn't feel too gritty. I rub a little between my palms each morning then gently rub my face to cleanse it. I can't answer questions about how this works for problem-prone skin. I was blessed with freckles and clear skin. The most blemishes I've ever had at once are 2. It's perfect and gentle for me. I have combination oily/dry skin and I'm fair, so slightly sensitive skin, and it feels gentle, cleanses my face perfectly, and leaves my skin feeling ridiculously smooth. You can use less water to use it to exfoliate.

There are even more ways you can use it for healthy skin from this site! Apparently it can even be used for sunburn relief or a detox bath!


DON'T do this everyday! I'd do it one time a week at most. I usually do it once or twice a month. That being said, you can dip your wet toothbrush into a little baking soda and gently brush your teeth with it for whiter teeth.


I use the same mixture I use for washing my face mixed with a tiny bit of coconut oil for shaving "lotion" and it works perfectly!



For a conditioning rinse to follow the baking soda shampoo, I use regular (not the organic) apple cider vinegar mixed with water and lavender essential oil. You can use the organic here if you'd like, but I tried both and don't notice a difference and the regular is cheaper! This is also in the Mind Green Body post and the other DIY beauty posts I mentioned. The vinegar rinse helps add shine to hair, and also releases tangles. For my length hair it does not release all tangles, but it definitely helps! Under coconut oil I'll discuss a option for additional detangling help.

One thing to note about this is that if you know for some reason you'll be getting your dry hair wet, you might want to skip the rinse for that washing day. So for instance if it's 100% chance or rain for 3 days and you aren't good at remembering to have your umbrella handy or if you'll be going to the beach or swimming. Once you dry your hair, or once it air dries, the smell is completely gone. But for some reason when it gets wet the smell is slightly reactivated.


Again, I also keep a mason jar full of this in my bathroom. In one of my Wilton bottles, I fill it 1/4th of the way with vinegar. I add 5-6 drops of lavender oil and fill the rest of the bottle with water. For my length hair, I use the entire amount. You might not have to. After rinsing my baking soda shampoo out, I squeeze this mixture all over my hair. I turn the water to as cold as I can handle it, and rinse it out with cool water. Rinsing with cool water also helps with shine.

-FAQs on ACV for Conditioner-

  • What about the smell? As mentioned above, it really does go away when it's dry! With the lavendar oil, the smell left behind is faint. But once it's dry, especially if you blow dry, it's gone. 
  • What if my hair is still tangled? Read below about coconut oil detangler! You can also use a normal detangler, but this is about DIY methods! Be sure to only spray detanglers on the ends of your hair as spraying them on roots can add some extra, unneeded oiliness. 


Use diluted organic apple cider vinegar to spot treat blemishes! If I have one and do this the night before, it's usually gone by morning. You can also dilute it even more and use it as toner. I'd suggest adding some lavender oil with it though for smell. But don't forget to dilute! It will make your face red if you use it all over at full strength. 


TMI here, BUT it works so I'm sharing. I had one of those hideous underskin infections on my leg last summer. I knew it had potential to get worse, and I had read that organic apple cider vinegar and some antibacterial properties. I put some on a cotton ball full strength, spot treated the infection, the next morning it was GONE! NOTE: Do not do this on any sort of open infection or sore. I would imagine that would burn like heck and have no idea if it's good for it.


You can actually drink a little organic apple cider vinegar every day and it's good for your immune system! There is lots of information out there and I am not an expert and can't speak on it. I do it and it seems to help. When I feel a cold coming on I drink 1 tablespoon of organic ACV a couple of times a day mixed with cranberry juice and chased with water (it's nasty, fair warning). There is lots of info and lots of "recipes" for daily elixers to drink. Just google apple cider vinegar drink.



In a travel size spray bottle I mix a little coconut oil, less than 1/4th of a bottle, and fill it with warm water. I spray it on my ends to aid in combing out tangles before blow drying. Coconut oil is a hard oil, so the oil will harden between uses. I hold the bottle under hot water each time I need to use it to dissolve the oil then shake it up and use it. 


Coconut oil is sort of magical and has healing powers (again, I'm not an expert, google it!). Coconut oil can be used in place of neosporin under a bandaid. It can also be used on a burn where the skin isn't broken (I used it on a curling iron burn recently). I also use it when I have sores on my scalp from my psoriasis (how much more TMI can this post get...). To use it in these ways, I scoop some out of the jar I keep in my bathroom, let it sit in my palm for a minute to melt or rub some between my palms to melt it, and then dip a qtip in the melted oil and spot treat the areas in need. 


Coconut oil can be rubbed into cuticles to soften them and push them back. I also always rub my feet down with coconut oil after a pedicure and cover them with socks for a little bit to let it absorb into my skin. 


Rub some into the palm of your hands to get it into liquid form, and use it on any excessively dry areas! 


Rub some into the palm of your hands to melt it, then with a gtip or cotton ball or finger tip, apply to eye area to easily remove mascara and eye liner. 



If you have lighter hair, you can use straight cornstarch as dry shampoo! If you have darker hair, you can mix cocoa powder with it to get your desired color consistency. I use a makeup powder brush to apply it around my hair line, along my part, and at the crown of my head and store it in an emptied, cleaned makeup container.


Okay, that was A LOT of info. Possibly the longest post I've ever written. Whew! Do you understand why it took me so long to write now?? Okay, so now I'll recap JUST the hair part of what I do to not have to wash my hair but every 5-6 days. Some washes last 5 days, some last 6 days. On a 5 day wash my hair starts getting oily a little earlier or it was an exceptionally humid week or I had to use too much hair spray earlier in the week for "fancy" hair. On a 6 day wash the first 3 days are pretty perfect. I'll discuss the routine for both. 

A perfect 6 day wash:

Day 1 - Wash hair with baking soda water shampoo mixture. Rinse hair with apple cider vinegar lavender water mixture. Detangle hair with coconut oil water mixture. Blow dry and style hair. 

Day 2 - Style hair (which usually just involves brushing it, straightening any pieces that got unruly in the night or curling the ends). 

Day 3 - Style hair (which usually just involves brushing it, straightening any pieces that got unruly in the night or curling the ends and sometimes on this day I might pin back my bangs if they are looking a little oily from touching them too much).

Day 4 - Use DIY dry shampoo and style hair (you get the picture of what styling involves).

Day 5 - Use store bought dry shampoo on oily areas and style hair.

Day 6 - Wear hair in an updo or braid.

A little less than perfect 5 day wash: 

Day 1 - Wash hair with baking soda water shampoo mixture. Rinse hair with apple cider vinegar lavender water mixture. Detangle hair with coconut oil water mixture. Blow dry and style hair. 

Day 2 - Style hair (which usually just involves brushing it, straightening any pieces that got unruly in the night or curling the ends). 

Day 3 - Use DIY dry shampoo and style hair (you get the picture of what styling involves).

Day 4 - Use store bought dry shampoo on oily areas and style hair.

Day 5 - Wear hair in an updo or braid.

And for a final note... Many times when I've told someone I only wash my hair every 5 days, they immediately say, "I have to shower every day!" Hair washing does not equal showering! I shower [almost] everyday! I just pull my hair back with a no-crease hair tie, push my bangs back with a loose head band, and shower. PLEASE SHOWER EVERY[ISH] DAY!