Happy Birthday to Me


I was fine turning 30 without a party.

I even planned to celebrate it in combination with my sister’s birthday in two weeks.

But little did I know that when I showed up at Nancee Lee’s house on Thursday night to “work on Thanksgiving table decorations” that my entire family was waiting inside for me.

Thanks to my sneaky husband, siblings, parents, and grandparents, I was definitely surprised.

We had a BBQ dinner, 30 gifts to celebrate 30 years, and mocha chocolate chip cheesecake (thanks Holly and Mom).

I will be honest. I might have teared up several times. I felt very special.

Frightened and overwhelmed, but special too.




I hope I can still sit cross legged at my next milestone birthday.


 My gift opening assistant, Bailee. :)

The funniest part of the whole event was that before I headed to Nancee Lee’s house I thought “maybe I will just put on my pjs before I go, she won’t care. And then I will be comfortable for our crafting.” But then I got distracted and never put them on.

And boy am I glad that I did not show up for my own surprise party in my pjs.

That would have been a little too memorable for a 30th birthday.

About these ads

Home Improvement: The Dungeon Bedroom

Our house is about 1200 sq ft on the main level and that’s basically where we live.

It’s looks pretty small from the street.

But then there is a surprising additional 1200 sq ft basement.

About half of it is storage space. When we finally are ready to sell it, I am going to make sure the realtor markets it to hoarders.

It would be perfect for a hoarder.

Anyway, the dungeon has a decent sized living area, a full bathroom, walk-in closet and an incredibly large bedroom.

Well if you have been following my blog for a while you might remember when I freshened up the living area and bathroom in this post from last year.

Basement Before 1

And while it definitely made the room less dingy, I didn’t love the wall color (ps I didn’t pick it).

basement 6

But I left it alone for a year…


One of my stepsons usually calls the basement bedroom his but since he is off at college now, I thought it would be a great time to really give the whole space an up-do.

Total cost for the project:

SW 7737 Meadow Trail



Here are the before photos: the room has a desk, futon, king size bed, and dresser.











Tada, the paint helped immensely.

Like my stepson said after seeing it, “Cozy.”

So the dungeon bedroom is no longer a dungeon.

Retail Therapy: My Sensitive Skin Make-up Solution

I am so glad I have gotten over the stage in life that requires me to be shallow or vain about my looks (insert sarcastic tone).

Quite a few weeks ago I put a question out on the blog facebook page asking about make-up for sensitive skin.

I had once again developed eczema on my eye lids from make-up, and I was at my wits-end for a solution.

At that point I had switched make-up three times and nothing was working.

Thankfully several people mentioned Physician’s Formula to me as an alternative.

And do you know what?

It worked.

I have been using it over a month and not one breakout.

Who knew that drugstore makeup would be the solution?


 Organic Wear Tinted Moisturizer

Under eye and Blemish Concealer

Eyeliner  – this also happens to be the best eyeliner I have ever used!!!

Eye Shadow Pack

I did not switch my mascara because I love my old standby too much.

But I did try a new method to improve the look of my lashes. And I think it is actually working. (click on the photo for the full details)


What is your preferred make-up brand?

Monday Randomness: My Weekend Trip All By My Lonesome and All The Things

First of all, I got a new niece this week. She is just as precious as she can be.

Mackendrick Grace. 6lb 5 oz.



In other news, I had 6 inches of hair cut off.


And almost immediately a fog seemed to clear. I think I had been living with a perpetual headache for months because my hair was so heavy.

On to the main point of this extremely long captivating post.

Back in during the summer I read on Melanie Shankle’s blog (BigMama) that she and Sophie Hudson (BooMama) would be speaking at First Baptist of Charlotte. I immediately thought “I want that for my birthday.” To turn 30, go on my own and hear them live in person. I followed them for years and love both of them.

My weekend started off with a bit of shopping in Gaffney on the way. To shop by myself was the greatest thing ever. Apparently I did not realize how in need  I was of some alone time.


And of course because I was on my own it was perfectly acceptable to have a Parmesan soft pretzel and frozen cappuccino from the QT on my way to Gaffney because my love language is bread and cheese.wpid-img_20141107_160613.jpg

Big and Boo were exactly what I expected. They love Jesus and sarcasm, and those kind of people are my kind of people.

Appreciation for sarcasm with a southern accent must also be my love language.

After the conference Friday night, I went back to my hotel and ordered room service.

It was delightful. I enjoyed eating in bed so much I ate breakfast there too:)



During the lunch break on Saturday, I ran up to the South Park Mall.

I have always wanted to go through the Crate and Barrel.

It was amazing. LOVE their product lines and furniture. I wanted to live there.

After the last session, on Saturday afternoon I ran through Ikea with list of things I needed to pick-up.

Let’s just say that was not the wisest plan, because everyone in the Queen’s city had the same idea.

The parking lot was full of cranky people with their cheap goods.

Sunday, we went to church and heard a great message on suffering well, which immediately made me feel slightly guilty for my indulgent weekend.

But only slightly:)

Then we brunched with family at a local restaurant.


Overall it was the best weekend I have had in a long time.

I feel refreshed and no longer want to strangle everyone.

That’s pure honesty right there.

Have a great week.

Happy 2nd Anniversary to Us

(I apologize that this post also posted on Saturday unfinished, apparently the WordPress app hates me and cannot be trusted)

Well we made it another year without killing each other.

And isn’t that what marriage is really all about? :)

Sometimes I think that as long as I don’t end up on an episode of Snapped I have succeeded in life.

But seriously marriage is hard. Not necessarily harder than I thought it would be, but hard nonetheless.

Simplified, its a daily decision to love and serve.

But thankfully its been a great year, with hopefully many more to come.


We  celebrated by (skipped church, don’t tell) spending Sunday hiking in NC and had Taco Bell for dinner because we are high rollers like that.


Pretty Place, YMCA Camp

Tuesday we will go out for an actual anniversary dinner.

Thanks for reading and have a great week.

Meal Planning: Week 3

whats for dinner


Day #1 Baked Chicken topped with Brie and Prosciutto and Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncino (with gluten free pasta) with Peas

If you have never made this Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncino, you need too. Reduce the red pepper if you don’t like spicy food. I love this as a side. It does not look like much, but it is such a perfect accompaniment with some many proteins. So so tasty, CHEAP and I think it’s best served at room temperature.


Day#2 Creamy Tomato Soup with Italian Sausage and Mushrooms (similar to this recipe) and Grilled Cheddar Cheese Sandwiches (gluten free thanks to Great Harvest)

My husband loves this soup. I have made it several different ways depending on what ingredients I have on hand. The base is one box of Tomato Red Pepper Soup, milk (or cream), chicken stock and Italian seasoning. Then I add whatever else I feel like- garlic, onion, mushrooms, sausage, kale, spinach, diced chicken, tortellini etc.

Day#3 Grilled Tuna Steak topped with Sriracha Cream Sauce, Brown Rice and Creamed Spinach

Simple Creamed Spinach

Day#4 Beef Barley Soup with Quick Corn Bread Muffins

I was scared of barley until I tried this recipe. As scared of a whole grain as someone can be. My stepson was home from college over the weekend so I tried out this hearty soup that I thought he would like. The recipe was perfect for a Saturday when I was busy and didn’t have time to stand over the stove.  I ♥ good simple food.

Easy Corn Bread Muffins

Home Improvement: House Funk and Laundry Room Rejuvenation

Have you ever been in a house funk?

Like no matter what you do to your  home it does not seem “good enough,” especially when you compare it to others’ homes?

Ack, comparison is the thief  of joy.

Well no matter how many  books, blog posts, pinterest inspiration quotes I read  in regards to finding contentment and joy in the midst of imperfection, I still get in these funks.

Sometimes the funk lasts two hours and sometimes it lasts weeks.

Well I have been in said funk for several months now, and I am starting to see the light.

And I know the reason why.

When I share my home with others rather than spending time in comparison it gives my home life, dare I say  rejuvenation.

Rejuvenation that does not require a hammer and nails, or even a paint brush.

Rejuvenation that is simply spurred on as I view my home as something I can serve others with, rather than how I feel about the way it serves me.

Here is the before and after of my “far from ideal” laundry area.

For the full “before” post go here. 






Ahh so much better.

And to help get my funk on the move this weekend, I took this photo on Sunday afternoon to compare with the photos from 28 months ago.

PicMonkey Collage

Photo-bomb provided by Joe.

Meal Plan- Week 2

whats for dinnerWell I got off kinda easy this week because 3 nights we had plans after work that included dinner.

But I still managed to cook a good bit.

And this is what I made.

This dinner came together quickly because last time I made this dish I double the sauce and stuck half in the freezer. So I literally had to cook the noodles and brown the chicken. I think it took about 15 minutes total.

I saw this chicken recipe on my Facebook feed on Wednesday, went to the grocery store on my lunch break for the ingredients, and made it for dinner. Talk about (almost) instant gratification. It was delicious. I LOVE incorporating pears into savory dishes. I will be making this one again. I think using bacon and Swiss cheese would be good too (and less expensive).

  • Day #3  Cracked Pepper Pork Tenderloin and Roasted Corn with Sweet Bell Peppers

 Three cheers for marinated pork tenderloin. I bought a seasoned pork tenderloin at Trader Joes and grilled it according to the directions. Added a mix of (frozen) roasted corn and peppers. Perfect for a Saturday since I had been painting ALL day.

I made this for Joe and I after church on Sunday because the kids weren’t around. I used a simple marinade recipe I found on allrecipes.com. It turned out well, especially considering I used frozen tuna steaks.

Monday Randomness: Yard Sale, Painting and Chocolate Cake with Cookie Butter

This whirlwind of a weekend went by so fast.

But my husband and I both agree that it feels as if a burden has been lifted.

We got rid of SO MUCH stuff between the yard sale and donating to Goodwill.

And to top it off we made about $125 on stuff that we never use.

Friday night my mom and sister came over with a bunch of stuff to sell too; we got it all organized and priced by about 9pm.

After they left,  I remember I never went to the bank to get change for our sale, so off to the grocery store I went.

Thankfully my sweet cashier at Publix was able to give me a bunch of ones which made my life easier.

Then Saturday I woke up to find several people at the end of my driveway waiting for me to start my sale.


My niece Bailee sold donuts to our customers, and had everyone laughing.

At one point she told a gentleman that he could have a doughnut, but he had to pay her $50.:)


By 11am we were winding down; so we just threw everything that didn’t sell into our cars and then drove to the donation drop off about about 1 mile from my house.

Then we all headed to Chickfila for a celebratory lunch of chicken and fries.

By about 1pm I felt that if I didn’t take a nap I would be sure to fall asleep in my dinner.

Two hours of comatose sleep later, I felt refreshed.

Then it dawned on me that we were supposed to bring food to church on Sunday for potluck dinner.

So I quickly ran to the store to buy stuff for grilled chicken Ceasar salad, homemade pimento cheese, and chocolate cake.

When I got home Joe was working on the shelving over the washer and dryer. He removed all the old shelves (and I can’t wait to show you the transformation).


I quickly grilled chicken, and made dinner, and whipped up the cake and pimento cheese.


Sunday we served in the children’s program at our church, then had potluck lunch.

Then we came home and tackled the paint of the basement and new light fixtures that I bought for $1 at Goodwill).


And 7 hours later we went to bed.

But the main point of this whole post is that I took my mom’s chocolate cake recipe and swirled 1/2 cup of Trader Joe’s cookie butter into the batter.

If you don’t have Trader Joes in your area this product is similar.

AMAZING! It tasted like a chocolate cake made for fall. Try it!

Meal Plan Review- Week 1

whats for dinner

I always love when I see other’s meal plans because it inspires me to get a little more organized (at least in my dreams) when it comes to cooking.

 So I am going to attempt a new (semi) regular post.

I am going to post my “meal plans.” But I am not going to post what I plan to make, but rather what I made the previous week and why it worked/didn’t work mainly because my meal plan usually gets developed as I push my cart around the grocery store.

Sound okay?

Well here goes.

  • Day #1 Country Fried Steak with gravy, creamed spinach and roasted potatoes

I don’t really have a recipe for this one. I just make it like my mom does. If you need a recipe this one is pretty close.

I totally cheated by using frozen creamed spinach. The roasted potatoes were simply bite-sized potatoes with a little olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Baked at 425 for 25 min.

  • Day #2 Steak Fajitas with grapes and baby carrots

I basically threw some onions and thin steak strips into a skillet with some store bought fajita mix.

Quick easy meal, but nothing to write home about. I forgot how much I dislike prepackaged seasoning mixes.

  • Day #3 Sriarcha Roast Chicken with grapes and romaine salad with Yum Yum dressing

We really liked this meal. It was incredibly easy, and I soaked the chicken in the brine the night before. Beware: this is probably too spicy for kids.


I told my husband he would live a long time after eating this meal because it had so many preservatives. After all was said and done I really did NOT like this meal. It was so rich and cheesy that it actually made me feel ill, even though I reduced the cheese in the sauce. I will stick with my old mac and cheese recipe from now on.

I use this diced ham in so many things ( soups, quiche, pizza etc). The packages frequently goes BOGO at my local store. I always keep an extra package in the freezer.


I make this on a regular basis using whatever veggies are on sale. It is really quick and so tasty.


We love the rice noodles because they are great as a substitute for rice, but they are also great in soups. The noodles cook up SO FAST. I buy them at my local Publix. This one package will cover 2-3 meals for us.