You DON’T Have the Turkey Yet?!

That was a direct (panicked) quote from my mom during our 7AM phone call this morning. My response, ‘You didn’t tell me I needed to!’

Let’s take a few steps back for context. Greg and I have been given the task of hosting Thanksgiving this year for some of our immediate family. New house, new tradition? Probably not. While I am excited and ready to prepare the meal, chat over coffee with family and shamelessly dive into the bowl of mashed potatoes, I need to say I am way out of my comfort zone on this one.

Sure, I have helped with Thanksgiving meals for as long as I can remember. But hosting? That’s a whole new ball game. Honestly, I had no idea I had to purchase the turkey already. Makes total sense, but I hadn’t thought it out. I figured when I went shopping tomorrow for all the other ingredients that would be plenty of time for the bird to thaw. 48 hours, right? Wrong.

With all this being said, before I give my poor mom a heart attack (or send our families to their favorite Chinese restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner), I’m looking for any tips and tricks to help me through this holiday. Also, I’m planning on finalizing our menu today (you can see most of it on this Pinterest board) and would love to hear any ‘must-have’ side dishes that I might have forgotten.

From my family to yours, wishing you a laughter-filled, stomach-stuffing, wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Never have I ever…

I figured after a year of posts and lots of intimate thoughts I have shared, I would spice it up a bit and share a list of things I have yet to do so far in life… this should be fun!

  • Broken a bone- knock on wood
  • Gotten sick after a night of drinking, which is crazy because I can be tipsy after a few sips but I’ve never overdone it to the point of being sick
  • Needed the expiration date on a bag of chips, I mean really who doesn’t finish a bag within a few days anyways?
  • Slept the whole day away without being sick
  • Used one of those ‘perfect bun’ clips, even though I can not seem to make the perfect messy bun on my own
  • Spent more than $100 on a piece of clothing (outside of a prom/wedding dress)… now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t think I could say I have even been on a full out shopping spree before either
  • Binge watched on television for more than 3 episodes consecutively
  • Changed my own car tire, even though I have been wanting someone to teach me for years!
  • Spontaneously gone on a road trip
  • Contoured my makeup, mostly because I don’t know how
  • Been able to stop myself from stuffing my face at the chips and salsa served at any Mexican restaurant
  • ‘Spring Cleaned’….oops
  • Purchased a piece of clothing from Pinterest that I have pinned
  • Dyed my hair an insane color
  • Checked everything off my bucket list- yes I have one and yes one day I will share what is on it!

What are some of the ‘normal’ things a lot of people have done you haven’t?

Class of 2007

Last weekend was my 10 year high school reunion; sickening I know. So. Old. I of course went with an open mind as to how I would feel being around all the people that I spent those four years with, four years that were ultimately pretty influential on me as a teenager, and later as an adult. Still, I was taken aback by the emotions I felt driving home that night, mind full of the past.

I was an overweight teenager and even more overweight young adult. I was insecure, but goodness did I try to hide it. I was the ‘funny friend,’ and often put on a fake face to hide my own insecurities. All I wanted was to be a ‘cool kid,’ to have the cutest guy in school smile at me at my locker. I wanted to not stand out. Suddenly, there I was 10 years later falling back into the very same insecurities. I didn’t stay super close with many from high school (with a few minor exceptions) because life just got busy. I met new friends, and honestly I wanted out of that world.

And yet I felt thankful.

In ten years I have had many milestones to be proud of and yet I felt thankful for much more than that. I found a man who loves me, who would do more than just smile at me while I am at my locker, a man who loves me unconditionally every single day. I have friends who consistently show me that true friendship doesn’t change with any distance or time in between seeing each other. The best thing though? I have a heart and mind change. I dedicated my life to Christ my Sophomore year but goodness the amount of growth has been unceasing. I was so young and immature and while my journey is far from over, being able to look back and actually see my own growth, there is nothing like it. My heart is completely different than it was back then, thank God.

I lived the life that I lived for all of those years to get me right to this place. Right here, right now. New city, new husband, new life. I had many trials, some of which I will eventually share with you readers, and overcome many hard times to become who I am.

This is my story, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. 

Cooking:Kroger Style

Please note I am not paid by Birds Eye or Kroger brands, these are my words and my opinions.

Greg and I eat fairly healthy. We love our chips and our desserts but for the most part I’ll almost always choose a salad, and my sweet husband doesn’t complain when we have chicken for the fourth time in a given week. So it is that I’m always looking for healthier options.

To be completely fair if I am going to share with you all the recipes that I make at home, I feel I also need to share with you when (and from where) I find little cheats, shortcuts to healthy eating.

And right now I feel like I have found a diamond in the freaking rough.

While shopping at my neighborhood Kroger I came across a new product from Birds Eye (a company I already love, and just when I thought I couldn’t love them more): VEGETABLE MADE PASTA!!! While I was slightly nervous, Greg was completely doubtful. But even he became a believer! Kroger had all 4 flavors: Original, Marinara, Cheddar and Alfredo. While I have only tried the three latter ones, let me just tell you I’m sure you won’t go wrong with any!

We paired all of these with chicken and then one other side:

  • Chicken with the Marinara pasta, with salad and corn on the cob (wahhh I already miss summer vegetables)
  • Chicken with Cheddar paired with green beans
  • Chicken Alfredo (duh) going perfectly with steamed broccoli

For under $5 and at 2+ servings (if there are even any leftovers because there hasn’t been for us) I couldn’t beat it!

Now before I start getting the comments about this being ‘frozen and not fresh’ or ‘not as healthy because it isn’t homemade’ let me say: I know there are probably healthier ways but I have never made ‘zoodles’ (heck, I have never even made my own regular pasta) and for my life right now, this is much more feasible.

Never mind the fact that I am not a huge pasta eater, so my husband usually is the one missing it, making this the best of both worlds!

Side note, while also shopping there this past weekend I saw they have Cauliflower rice and now Cauliflower mashed potatoes. While I haven’t tried those yet, let me say if they are anything like the pasta it will be a party in your mouth!

If you try it and love it, let me know! If you try it and hate it, tell me another alternative that you do love!

Enjoy, friends!

Nash to the Ville

I was the tourist walking around the entire city attempting to take in every single second of this awesome city on my phone for you guys but it was just not feasible. If you haven’t been to this town do yourself a favor and go. It will be an unforgettable time.

We got to Nashville mid-Thursday evening, immediately checked into our hotel and headed out for the night. I dressed in jeans, gold jewelry, big hair, and red lips; I was ready to hit up the town. We were told we had to try The Taco Co., but they sadly were closed for the night so we ended up at Taco Mamacita and were not at all disappointed. The margaritas were good, the fresh salsa and tacos…my mouth is watering right now. Greg had heard of this free (what we thought would be low-key) concert downtown that we wanted to check out and then head to the bars…. boy were we wrong. We walked into this lawn covered with 5,000 of our closest (and drunkest) friends, listening to unknown artists trying to make it in Nashville. The atmosphere was insane, the smells were disgusting, people touching you was the worst, and yet I am so happy we went. It really felt like we stepped out of our comfort zone and embraced the chaos.

Friday morning we woke up early to go to a breakfast restaurant I had heard about from another blogger that was her ‘must eat.’ We drive up to this little part of the city, filled with boutiques and small restaurants completely untouched by tourists. We were total locals 😉 The reason we went to Biscuit Love? One word: Bonuts…. That’s right. Homemade biscuit donuts; oh.em.gee.

I now understand why this was a must, and trust me, I agree. Also, how stinking cute is that wall? Ignore the people, I had to show you all!

From there we went to Belle Meade which we accidentally snuck into. We were unaware that the path we followed would take us to the back of the mansion, but we might not have hated it…oops. In our defense there was a side house we wanted to go see and no gates or barriers. We were just suddenly on the plantation. Since we were still out of the city we drove to see the iconic Blue Bird.

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If you have heard of the TV show Nashville you are very familiar with this local bar. If you aren’t familiar with it, you might have heard of the country singer, Taylor Swift, otherwise known as my husband’s biggest crush? This was the bar she was ‘found’ in. Because it was a bar and in the middle of the day it was closed but just being outside was incredible. There is a sign above the door that states ‘The best songwriters in the world pass through this door.’ Just knowing artists walk in there every night hoping to sing in front of some of the biggest agents and maybe someday catch their big break.. that was pretty dang cool.

Insert traffic. Driving anywhere close to downtown will add traffic to your day. It doesn’t matter what time, it doesn’t matter what direction, you will be going under the speed limit into the city. We parked and headed to the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum which in and of itself was incredibly neat. Seeing outfits worn by celebrities, Elvis’ car, and Greg even saw one of Taylor’s microphones! Then we decided to walk… in the heat, in a town we didn’t know, to the next restaurant I had heard about, Hattie B’s. We turned the corner at 12:05 and the line was already around the corner. So after walking over a mile, we stood in line, in the sun/heat for over an hour for this chicken. And oh man, I would do it all over again. This place is a super tiny, hole-in-the-wall joint with amazing hot chicken. Trust me, Nashville knows it’s comfort food.

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I was hoping to go down to the famers market and go to Jeni’s Ice Cream but we ran out of time, besides after a day of walking around town, we were both in desperate need of a shower. As I mentioned before, we came to town for Greg to be in a wedding and this was the rehearsal dinner night. All day Saturday was filled with him doing the groomsman things and me just hanging out around the hotel/pool.

Before leaving Sunday my best friend (who would live in this city if she could) told me there was one more thing I just had to do….Grand Ole Opry. We took a backstage tour, which I would for sure recommend. You see a totally different side of this miracle place that you wouldn’t be able to see during a show. Besides at the end you go on stage and stand on ‘the wood circle’ which is such an iconic piece of wood originally from the old Grand Ole Opry location, restored after the flood and still refurbished for all singers to stand on.

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The air in this space is different; it is special. Hard to convey but you know you are in the same location as incredible people… you can just feel something different being there. It is almost unbelievable.

We walked, we ate, we stood in the same place as many famous people; we loved this town! Can not wait to go back!

Where Do All the People Go?!

Frick! Finding friends is hard!!!

So we’re not ‘bar’ people, we are still looking for a church to plug into, we don’t have kids to talk to other parents about, and our dog only attracts so many people.

HOW THE HECK DO WE MAKE FRIENDS?!

Not rhetorical, totally asking.

We are having a hard time making friends down here. My lovely husband even signed us up for a softball league. Let me tell ya it isn’t the easiest making friends with people you look uncoordinated in front of once a week…

On a quick side note, I am now known by my neighbors as the ‘girl who either runs or walks her dog on her lunch break’ and I have to say I find comfort in that. At least I’m known as something more than ‘one half of the couple.’

😉

Game, no…Life Changer

For those of you who haven’t read the ‘5 Love Languages’ book by Gary Chapman, let me help you out: you can purchase it here. This book has been an absolute game-changer for not just me and Greg in our marriage but also with me and all of my closest friends and families.

To summarize the book in my own words, everyone feels loved in 5 different categories:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Physical Touch
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Quality Time

The way that you are loved is often the way you choose to show love, which makes sense because that is how you feel the most honored. The problem? The person you are trying to love might not feel loved in the same way. MIND. BLOWN. When I tell Greg how appreciated he is, or how proud of him I am, he doesn’t necessarily feel loved. I on the other hand, can get a hand written letter and absolutely melt into a pile of mush on the floor. A quick kiss after a long day might be enough for me, yet for Greg he feels loved by me hugging him, holding his hand, physical touch.

This is incredibly important. The way you love those around you is what strengthens your relationship, grows you, changes you, makes you more like Christ. You might be spending all of your time and energy on loving them the way you feel loved and they might not be feeling it. Not only are you making them feel completely unimportant, you are upset because they aren’t getting it. Guys, listen, this is important. It is also not just something you can forget. Once you read it, it sticks with you.

So what do you do? You keep trying. You keep learning. We change, and then we get to start the process all over again. Greg and I are still trying to figure out how to make the other feel special. Greg is still learning what he could get me for my birthday to make me feel loved. Yes, this is hard and we still argue over it, but we never claimed to be masters.

Last but not least, for those of you not currently married, Gary has written a Love Languages book for singles. While I haven’t read it, I have heard nothing but great things. As I stated earlier, my family and I have talked about this, as well as close friends.

This isn’t ‘just another marriage thing’.

Trust me.