Tuesday, January 16, 2018

January Highs and Lows

Here we are, in 2018.  It's hard to believe time has been going by so quickly!  I have to admit to you guys that January is really my least favorite month. The weather is too cold and dreary, and everyone seems to be struggling to get back into the regular swing of things after the chaos of the holidays has died down. So, just to round our bases, let's recap (in quick fashion) on the holiday celebrations.

As usual, my parents threw their annual family Christmas party at their house on December 23rd. As is our tradition, the cousins (and their spouses) in attendance took the obligatory staircase picture.  We're missing several members of the family here, but that seems to be more and more common as we get older and families expand, making it a little more difficult to travel to these events.
Most of the cousins and their spouses

My brother, his fiancé Betty, Will and I all stayed with my parents until Christmas morning, when we all hit the road to celebrate the holiday with other sides of the family. Will and I went to his dad's house for brunch, then headed home for a quick nap before joining his mom's side of the family at her house for dinner that evening.

Beau and his best buddy Boomer (my parents' dog) in Raleigh.

All in all, the holidays were wonderful, but I can't say I'm not glad to have them over and done with. You forget how much work goes into shopping for gifts, cooking, decorating the house, etc. until the season is upon you yet again. Now, I'm just glad to be able to sort of wash my hands of it until next year. Don't get me wrong -- I love Christmas and everything it stands for.  But today the whole thing really just seems like such a huge production, don't you think?

Will and me with his dad and stepmom on Christmas morning.

Let's fast-forward to the New Year. Over the past few years I haven't really been one for resolutions, so I guess I decided to make up for it this year by instituting three big ones -- I started the HCG diet (with homeopathic drops, not the true injections), threw my hat in the ring for Dry January (no booze whatsoever) and decided to make January a "fiscal month" where I stop the relentless spending (I'm looking at you, Amazon) and allocate money towards gas, groceries and bills ONLY.  So far I'm doing really well with all three of these -- I've definitely lost weight on this diet (although I'd be worried if I didn't, because it's essentially 500 calories per day of nothing but vegetables and lean protein), I haven't had a drop of alcohol, and I've only bought one thing on Amazon (a baby shower gift for my cousin and his wife). So that in itself is reason to celebrate, seeing as how the month is almost halfway over!

Ground turkey and cauliflower rice with steamed asparagus.

Oh, and we got snow a couple weeks ago. Not quite even an inch, but it was enough to shut the whole city of Fayetteville down, which is typical.  Either way, I enjoyed the scenery.  And we're due for another storm tonight, so I'm sort of looking forward to that. Maybe after this snow storm we can finish up this winter business and head right into spring.  I do love snow, but I'm ready for the warm weather to reappear. 

I say that now, but it really is so much fun to watch the dogs out in the snow.  They're not quite sure what to make of it, but they sure do have a great time running around like lunatics in it.

Ok, so I guess that's really all I have for now.  I'll round up some of my favorite HCG recipes soon and share them with you guys.  The 500 calorie days last for 24 days total, and I'm on day 16.  So I'm almost there, you guys! Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Our Wedding Day

Will and I got married earlier this summer, on June 24th.  The wedding was at Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh, at 6:00 p.m. and the reception was held at Haywood Hall.  Overall things went smoothly, but the weather refused to cooperate.  Right around the time we were at the altar, being pronounced husband and wife, the skies opened and rain began coming down in sheets. After the ceremony the guests waited around in the church lobby for the storm to pass, but once we figured out the rain wasn't letting up, one by one people spilled out into the evening, making a run for their cars. Will and I loaded up into a van with my bridesmaids under the main church lobby carport and took the quick drive over to the reception site.

By the time we parked at Haywood Hall, the rain had mostly let up. Will led me and one of my bridesmaids, Amanda, up the walkway to the front door, where my mom was waiting anxiously, drink in hand. She immediately informed me that the band's equipment had gotten ruined during the downpour and they were in the process of packing up and heading back home to Richmond. Apparently she had informed them that the wouldn't be receiving the rest of their deposit, and she set about arranging to have a DJ (apparently a cousin of the caterer) to bring his equipment and set up.

Throughout all of this, I remained as calm and collected as I could, given the circumstances.  I had a scotch in hand (my reception was beer and wine only, but I managed to sneak a flask of scotch into my bag just in case of emergencies) and was working to collect myself upstairs with the rest of my bridesmaids before heading down to greet the guests.

Not half an hour later I heard the band begin to play. It's a funny thing, how that "ruined equipment" just sprung right to life the minute the band leader found out he wasn't going to get paid for a nonexistent performance. By that time the DJ had arrived, so my mom went ahead and paid him his hourly rate and asked him to stand by (just in case) and enjoy himself at the reception.

All things considered, things really did turn out just fine. Will and I felt so blessed to have so many of our loved ones in attendance to celebrate our marriage. Once the music got started and the booze was flowing, people were having a blast out on the dance floor, Will and myself being no exception. I've heard several people remark that they'd never seen a bride and groom be able to kick back and enjoy themselves and their guests so much during the reception.  My take on the whole thing was that, since we only had one chance to live out this wonderful evening, I didn't want to be bogged down in too many posed portraits of the two of us or take half an hour to cut the cake -- I wanted to enjoy the moment and spend time with our friends and family!

Will had insisted on burying a bottle of bourbon thirty days prior to the ceremony, which is incredibly funny in hindsight, seeing as how the buried bourbon is an old tradition meant to keep bad weather on the wedding day at bay.  Obviously it didn't work! But Will swears that the rain stopped the moment we dug up the bottle at the reception.  I'm not quite sure I buy into his story, but at least it's a fun memory to have. We'll be taking shots of that bourbon alongside a slice of our (now frozen) wedding cake for our one-year anniversary.  In fact, Will is already insisting we take a shot of the bourbon for our six months anniversary, which happens to be next week! I must say, I'm not opposed to the idea -- after all, the first six months is definitely something to celebrate!

So in celebration of the first half-year of marriage, and in an effort to give y'all a taste of my wedding day, here are some pictures from that day that I'll cherish for the rest of my life.

A New Chapter

Well, here we are yet again.  I've been debating in my head whether or not to bring this blog back to life, and after several months of radio silence on here and a great deal of consideration from me, I've decided to give this thing another go. Blogging has been ultimately a beneficial exercise for me in the past, and I love to go back and read through my daily through process from weeks, months and years ago.  All in all, it's shown me how much I've changed as a person and it's made me appreciate the things I've been through.

For those of you who have been with me through the long haul, you'll probably find this blog to be a bit more sparse than it has been in the past. In an effort to "start new", I've gone through every one of my past blog posts and have deleted several entries that I wasn't completely happy with or those that no longer really have a place on this blog. We're starting anew here, folks. A new chapter, a new life, a new blog.

With all that being said, I'd like to catch everyone up on current events. As you can see from my most recent post this past February, Will and I were engaged when I left you last. We had a beautiful wedding in Raleigh on June 24th, 2017 (more pictures to come in a later post), I quit my job in Raleigh and moved to Fayetteville, North Carolina, where I'm now working as a contracts analyst for the local healthcare system. Leaving everything behind and moving to a small town where I know very few people has obviously been an adjustment for me, and it's still a bit of a learning process. Every day I'm meeting new people, discovering new shops and restaurants, and am learning the ropes bit by bit.

Married life itself has been rewarding and challenging at the same time.  I'm trying to be a better, more consistent cook, but that has proven to be a bit difficult, because my husband is the ultimate picky eater. Picking up after two people (and two destructive dogs) isn't the easiest thing, but Will and I have hired a cleaning company to come once a month to do more of a deep-clean of the house. Without that, I would be in a real mess. God bless my cleaning ladies. Luckily, Will is particular about his laundry, so he tends to do it himself. Which is more than fine by me! The house is in pretty good shape (sans the HVAC unit, which cut off several times this past summer during some of the hottest days of the year and had to be repaired by one of Will's groomsmen) and has ended up being the perfect size for the two of us.

We've established a pretty solid daily routine, and the dogs are happy as little clams in their new house. They've got a big fenced-in backyard to run around and chase squirrels away from. We try to walk them after dinner most nights, which is basically the extent of my exercise program. Will, on the other hand, is an avid golfer, so he spends a lot of time carrying his clubs around the course and burning hundreds of calories in the process. As for me, I'll be joining a gym in January.. (not).

Anyhow, that's all I have for now. I'm going to try to be better about being more consistent with my posts and keeping track of my day-to-day events. Stay posted!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Life Currently..

Good grief. I can’t believe I haven’t touched this blog in almost 8 months. So much has changed that I almost don’t even know where to begin!

I guess I’ll start with the most important news – I’m engaged! That’s right, this girl is going to become a Mrs. in just under five months! So I guess with that being said, you can probably understand where all my extra time has been devoted. Planning a wedding is no easy feat, and it’s more and –- and yet somewhat less -- stressful than I ever imagined.

I’ll try to be a little more specific – the parts that I thought would be stressful, i.e. the actual booking of the vendors, selecting the china/catering/colors, etc.) really aren’t all that bad. In fact, that has been the easiest part of the process. I know exactly what I want, and I’ve worked really hard to stick to my guns and stay true to the image I have in my head of what my wedding day should look like.

On the other hand, the pieces that I assumed would fall into place naturally haven’t really done so in the way I imagined.

One thing they really don't tell you about wedding planning from the outset is that it's actually a pretty lonely process -- it's easy to get overwhelmed with the burden of it all, so it becomes really important to be able to reach out to those who are closest to you and ask for a little assistance. 

In related news, Will and I bought our first house! He was born and raised in Fayetteville, which is where he currently lives and works, so that’s where we decided to start our next chapter. That means I’ll be moving to Fayetteville from Raleigh after the wedding, in July. I’m hoping to keep the same job and work out a schedule where I commute in to the office three days a week and work from home the rest of the time. The drive is about an hour and a half without traffic, so a daily commute isn’t really in the cards. I’ve mentioned it to one of my bosses, and he seemed to be on board with it. At some point I’ll have to sit down with the managing partner and see what his reaction is. As for living in Fayetteville, it’s been a while since I lived in a small town, so there will definitely be an adjustment period.

I guess that brings me to my third piece of news – I’m no longer at the large firm I’d been working for. After three years of hard work and loyalty, I was told that I was being laid off because the firm no longer enough billable hours for me.  As luck would have it, being let go forced me to find a new job, and that new job in turn has made me a much happier person. This new firm is much smaller (only 10 attorneys) and is focused primarily on insurance defense work, which I’ve grown to love. There are still days where I find myself missing my old firm, or rather the people I worked with there, but I remind myself that I’m much better off where I am and that everything happens for a reason.

Alright, that’s the general overview of what I’ve been up to for the past 8 months. I’m still undecided as to whether or not I want to revive this blog, so I’m going to take some time to consider my options. Until then, hoping everyone out there is doing well!

Friday, June 10, 2016

"Just Because" Flowers

On Wednesday I received a call from our receptionist saying I'd received a package. I tried hard to recall what I was expecting in the mail, but couldn't. As it turns out, my sweet man decided to send me flowers, "just because". Is he not the cutest thing?! I sure do love that boy.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Whole 30: One Week Update

Cobb Salad at a restaurant -- no cheese, with oil and vinegar on the side.
Well, I've made it through my first week on Whole30! I still don't feel the amazing boundless energy that so many people talk about while doing this, but I assume that's something that won't happen until farther down the road. Do I have more energy overall? I'd say yes. Am I sleeping better? Well, I don't know. I've always been a pretty good sleeper, but I have noticed that I'm sleeping a little harder than I used to. I haven't had any stomach issues since beginning this, and I've definitely noticed that I'm no longer hungry in between meals. In fact, I usually have to force myself to eat dinner. Some nights I just have no appetite. And I no longer feel the need to eat all the food on my plate.. I'm able to recognize that I'm full much faster.

I've read multiple reviews from people who have done the Whole 30, and they all complain about how hard it is to follow through with. I never thought I'd say this, but this diet really isn't that hard at all. Granted, I've only been doing it for 8 days now, but I haven't had a moment where I really felt like I couldn't continue. The cooking doesn't HAVE to take that much time.. people are so intent on finding fancy recipes that are incredibly involved and time-consuming, but it really doesn't need to be that difficult. I enjoy the simple recipes -- scrambled eggs or vegetables roasted in coconut oil or baked chicken. I think it's easiest to start off slow, and then get into the more complicated recipes once you get a grip on the basics. There are so many things that you can do with the Whole30, so I can see how it would be easy to get a bit overwhelmed. That's why the basics are the best to start with.

Deli turkey w/ avocado, tomatoes and berries on greens.
I know most people read these Whole30 reviews mainly to see how much weight people have lost by following this plan. However, I'm only a week in, and if you know the general guidelines of Whole30 you know that I'm not allowed to weigh myself until the end. That, in itself, is a great thing for me. I'm still in the "don't want to know" camp when it comes to the number on the scale. I'm afraid I'll step up there and see a number that I have no desire to see. Ignorance is bliss, right? So maybe I'll weigh myself after 30 days. I know basically how much I weigh, given my weight at a fairly recent doctor's appointment. I'm more interested in the inches lost than I am pounds lost, but I figure I'll be able to tell best by the way my clothes fit me.

So I may be the most boring Whole30 follower ever, but in addition to the "simple" meals, I really don't have a problem repeating myself. For breakfast most mornings I'll have eggs and fruit, for lunch I'll eat my homemade chicken salad or egg salad with greens, avocado, tomato and/or fruit, and for dinner I seem to be rotating meats -- hamburgers or baked chicken or beef tenderloin with sautéed vegetables and a little fruit on the side. Am I eating too much fruit? That's a good possibility. But I figure for such a drastic change in my diet, I can afford a little more fruit in the beginning. After all, fruit is infinitely better than processed food.

I'll leave y'all with pictures of some of my most recent meals, and I'll be back next week for my next update! Until then, I hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of summer!

Leftover steak with sautéed mushrooms and Trader Joe's vegetable mix.
Scrambled eggs, bacon, and berries on greens.
Baked sweet potato, roasted Brussels sprouts, and beef tenderloin.
Grass fed beef burger with baked pineapple, tomatoes, avocado and sautéed mushrooms and onions.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Whole 30 & Made-From-Scratch Chicken Salad

May is FINALLY over. I'll be sure to post all my pictures from this past month at some point, but for now I really just need to catch my breath. Over the past four weeks Will and I have gone to a golf tournament, birthday dinners, two weddings, and a weekend at Southport with his brother's wife and her family. This will be the first weekend I'm spending in town since April, so I'm looking forward to hanging around the house doing nothing.

Homemade chicken salad with grapes and sliced almonds
At one of the weddings I was in recently, one of the other bridesmaids at the wedding was raving about her experience with the Whole 30. I'd heard of the diet previously, and I decided to do a little research on it. Because let's face it, y'all know how much I love diets.

Once I'd read the books, the reviews and checked out some of the before/after pictures online, I was sold. I'm now embarking on 30 days of no sugar, grains, alcohol, or legumes. I'm eating only fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, nuts and certain fats. So far I'm on Day 1 (technically I guess I could call this Day 2, since I decided to fast yesterday), and I don't hate it. I had scrambled eggs and fruit this morning, and I made up a batch of chicken salad (recipe below) for lunch, and it was pretty tasty. I figure if I keep up with my diet somewhat on the blog (don't worry, it won't be an every day type thing), I'll feel more responsible for making it through this month without quitting.

Chicken Salad:

1 package of chicken breasts
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Primal Kitchen (brand) Mayo
Sliced almonds

Flatten chicken breasts under a sheet of saran wrap, then coat them in olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Cook at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then let them cool for at least another 20 minutes. Then go ahead and slice them up into small pieces, mix in the grapes, almonds and mayo to taste. This will be my go-to recipe in the future!