Retail Therapy: It’s All About the Pants and a GIVEAWAY

I have found some great pants recently that I just had to share.

First of all it you are taller and/or thinner these probably won’t be the best finds ever because I am going to assume that finding pants that fit is not as uncommon than finding a four leaf clover. (√got in my St. Patrick’s Day reference)

But I have a really hard time finding pants that fit and don’t make me feel like a sausage in a casing that is too tight.

Great mental picture right?

I own at least 2 pairs of each of these pants.

I know I have blogged about the leggings before but you all: THEY ARE THE BEST. I have them in every color.

Old Navy just stocked their linen blend pants for the spring. You need these pants. They even come in petite. They fit every shape and size plus as long as you pull them out of the dryer quickly you don’t even have to iron them. They are perfect office-y pants if you have to wear office-y clothes during the (HUMID) southern summer months. Bless our (sweating) hearts.

The workout capri pants were a desparate purchase because I was so tired of washing my workout pants multiple times a week.

But thankfully I actually love them and purchase 2 more. They are light weight but not see through which I love.

Pants

1, 2, 3

Now to the fun part: THE GIVEAWAY.

Giveaway

Two winners will receive a pair of the above pants, your size and choice of color.

To enter: just leave a comment below with your favorite season.

For three additional entries share on facebook, instagram or twitter and then leave a comment below that you did.

A winner will be picked on Tuesday, March 2nd PM via random.org.

International entries welcome.

Happy (almost) Spring!

A Goal to Entertain More And Worry Less Plus a Chili Recipe

In addition to getting healthier (see this post and this post), I wanted to entertain more this year..

And soon as we made that a goal my next thought was, “What in the world will I make for these people I am having over?”

It might just be me but usually that thought causes me to panic.

I know I am a good home cook,  but the thought of producing a Martha Stewart like dinner party causes me to sweat.

But here is what I have learned. Few people like a dinner party-esque type of get together.

People love simple food, prepared well which is why I served chili and grilled cheese at the last “dinner party” I hosted.

I might add that I also had worked a full day, rushed home and had about 20 minutes to prepare before my guests arrive.

You read that right. I made grilled cheese for dinner guests.

And it was the easiest stress-free meal.

But the key to making a simple meal great is quality ingredients, which in total cost me about $15 for 4 people (with leftovers). 

That totally kicks any good restaurant bill in the pants.

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I purchased fresh bakery bread and a nice melting cheese to make the sandwiches, but a day in advance I prepared a simple chili from the recipe my mother always used.

 Then after the guests arrived I threw together an arugula salad with an orange honey mustard dressing which I made by blending a little orange juice, Dijon mustard, honey, olive oil, and s/p.

I am going to make easy entertaining recipes a series this year because if you are like me you need all the encouragement you can get when it comes to hosting people in your home.

Here is my mother’s recipe for basic chili.

Mom’s Slow Cooker Chili

serves 8-10

  • 2 lb ground beef (or venison)
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1- 28 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2- 28 oz cans petite diced tomatoes
  • 3- 14 oz cans beans, drained and rinsed (I prefer black beans)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Brown ground meat in a large skillet. Drain fat from the skillet if using beef. Return meat to the skillet and add onion, spices and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes over low heat.

Add meat mixture and the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve with hot sauce, shredded cheese and sour cream.

Freezes well up to 3 months.

Corn Bread Muffins

6 Things I Wish I Had Not Known Before I Got Married

I am a blog/podcast/self-help book junky.

And I was a Family and Consumer Science major (with a minor in counseling) in college so I took lots of classes based on relationships including marriage.

I try to use good judgement on who/what I listen to or read, but sometimes I can pick up some bad advice.

But because I can be somewhat of a perfectionist, I took all that advice to heart. And then tried to practice it in my new marriage.

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Because I was going to do this marriage thing perfectly.


I wrote a little bit about one of the situations in this post for The Big Fake Wedding (formally The Not Wedding) back in 2013.

And here are six more.

  • The first 4-8 weeks of marriage is just a continuation of the honeymoon. 

Unfortunately, it was not for us. It was awkward. Not the awkward funny Office tv show kinda of awkward. It’s just plain old awkward. Not really funny at all. Mostly because after you get home from the honeymoon you are living with someone new, with his/or her own likes and dislikes. And ways of folding towels. Once we got into more of a rhythm of life it was smooth sailing (except for when he criticizes my dish-washing methods but that is another post for another time:). But I totally did not expect those strange first few weeks.

  • If you and your spouse don’t go to bed at the same time your marriage is doomed to fail.

I am going to be real honest. I totally cried during our second week of marriage when my husband wanted to continue to go to bed at his usual time, 2 hours after my regular bedtime. It meant we were doomed as a couple according to a Christian counselor I heard on a popular radio broadcast.

  • Your spouse should not be your best friend because it’s too much to ask of them. 

I totally stressed about this for approximately 2 months because my husband was my closest friend before we got married. And now I needed to find a new close friend?? Thankfully I got over this quickly when I realized this “advice” was not a hard fast rule. It totally depends on you and your spouses personality. I will say that most women do need girl time. Because your husband can only listen to you talk about your great deal from Nordstrom Rack for so long.

  • Changing to your new last name is one of the greatest things about marriage. It is a great act of submission for a wife.

I was not thrilled about changing my last name. It probably had to do with the fact that I was a little older when I got married. But nonetheless don’t worry if you are in the minority about the changing names thing. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. And it took me about a year to accept the fact that some girls are just not into changing their name, and it does not make them a radial feminist. It just means they really like the name they were born with. :)

  • Your first Christmas as a couple is the most special. Make the most of it. 

While our first Christmas was just fine, I killed it for myself with expectations. Expectation that I put upon myself and my spouse. You can’t do it all, especially when you have only been married for 5 weeks, and you are just figuring out how this normal marriage stuff works.

  • Mistakes you have made in previous relationships will eventually ruin your relationship with your spouse. 

]The idea that I or my spouse were damaged goods because of previous relationships, etc was pounded into my head from several sources. I was sure that we would have a incredibly hard time in our relationship because past mistakes would haunt us forever. Thankfully those sources did not take into account that we have received “grace upon grace.”  And while there are still consequences for past mistakes there is a bright hope for the future.

And a bright Hope for the future is what a new marriage is all about.

Fitbit Update: Six Weeks In

 To read the beginning of this “take better care of myself” series click here.wpid-img_20150202_110453.jpg

Well I am six weeks in:

#1. My clothes fit better.

#2. I gained 3 lbs.

#3. I generally have more energy.

#4. My back pain is almost non-existent now, as long as I do at least one Pilates/yoga workout a week.

I will be honest. When I weighed-in for the first time in 6 weeks, I was REALLY disappointed that after all the work I had done I had GAINED weight rather than losing.

But I am starting to see a lot more muscle definition in my legs and arms.

Plus that means that I made it through most of the holidays only gaining 3 lb most of which I am going to guess is muscle.

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I like the Fitbit as much now as I did 5 weeks ago. It really does make me SO aware of how little or how much I am moving.

Honestly, I almost didn’t give an update because it makes me feel incredibly vulnerable to put this information on the web.

But as Brené Brown says,

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

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Anytime Fitness, Pilates/Yoga Room

Old Door to Desk Tutorial

Door-to-Desk Tutorial- thedomesticlady.com

My husband and I created this DIY project because of a need to provide a handicap accessible desk for Mitchell’s Project (part 1 and part 2).

Because Mitchell already had so much special equipment to make his life easier, I wanted a masculine, sleek but yet rustic desk that also happened to be handicap accessible rather than just going out and buying a handicap desk.

We considered using plexiglass or traditional glass as the top, but both were extremely heavy and very hard to transport.

So instead we decided to go with a clear epoxy finish.

While it was a multi-step process, the finished project was well worth it!

 The first thing you need to know is that this is not a quickie 1 hr DIY project.

Take your time, thoroughly read the epoxy instructions, don’t rush.

The process is not difficult; you just need to understand it before you get started.

Because of some user error, it took about 2 weeks from beginning to end.

Partly because we used several coats of poly on the trim and because we had to reorder more epoxy halfway through.

Here is what you will need:

The door we used was very “rustic.” It had quite a few worn places in it that epoxy would be able to leak through so my husband started by making sure the desk was leak proof. He simply filled the holes with wood filler.

Then we went to the hardware store to purchase 2″ trim to give the desk a nice smooth finished edge.

(depending on the thickness of the door you choose to may need different trim width)

We wanted to have 1/8″ lip above the door so that the epoxy would cover the door entirely.

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He then attached the trim to all four sides of the door with wood screws.

After the trim was in place, he used more wood filler and sandpaper to make it smooth.

Next he carefully stained the trim with Minwax Ebony stain.

Once the stain was dry, he gave the trim four coats of polyurethane.

 After the poly was dry, he removed all the dust and debris from the door top.

And then it was FINALLY time for the epoxy.

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I could give you the detailed play-by-play of the epoxy process, but the videos on bestbartopepoxy.com are so thorough that I suggest you watch them instead.

*****Follow all the instructions for the best results*****

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Once all the layers of epoxy were complete we allowed it to cure for 72 hours at 75°F by using a space heater in our basement.

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Then we simply attached the workbench legs.

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The finished product was better than we even imagined.

I highly recommend this process. The results are amazing!

Mitchell’s Project- Before and After

First of all, I feel very grateful that my husband and I were able to help with the finishing touches.

It was incredibly rewarding to both of us. We found such joy in our exhaustion.:)

If you want to know all the details about the how/why of this project go to the Mitchell’s Project part 1 post.

The challenging part of this project was that I had to focus on making sure there was lots of open space (in order to be wheel chair accessible) rather than filling every space with decor items.

Thanks to Pottery Barn at Haywood Mall Real Deals in Greenville, Pollard Brothers BestBarTopExoxy.com, and KEnzPhotography

for SO generously donating items for me to use in the decor on this project.

This is the basement before:

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So many people help make this new space possible.

During:

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After:

My contribution was the color selections, styling and overall look.

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The kitchen area is fully handicap accessible (once the plumbing fixtures are installed:).

The wall color is SW Sea Salt. 

The cabinet color is SW Iron Ore and the laminate counter-top is Cafe di Pesco by Wilsonart.

All the cabinet hardware is from Ikea.

And the back splash is from Home Depot.

The “hardwood” flooring is actually tile by Florida Tile Berkshire collection.

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This fully handicap accessible desk made from the original door to this basement area was ALL my husband’s doing.

I will write a full post on the how-tos of this project. I can’t get over how gorgeous it is.

The epoxy was donated by bestbartopepoxy.com.

Pollard Brothers donated the custom workbench legs, and the metal cart is from Ikea.

The gallery frames were donated by Pottery Barn, and the original signed photography was donated by KEnz etsy shop.

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This simple grey and white bookcase is from Ikea, $69.

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Although we weren’t able to put the full bedroom together while we were there on Saturday, I was able to hang all the fun posters from comic strips that Mitchell likes, plus a Star Wars poster for good measure.

I found the nightstand at Miracle Hill Thrift store for $20. Solid wood and made in the USA. Can’t beat that deal.

The bedding that will be used in the room are these sheets from Target,

and this duvet from Ikea. 
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Although Mitchell is not able to use the sofa, he did need seating for guests.

This sofa was purchased before I started working on this project.

I just added a couple pillows, end table ($20 Target clearance), a floor lamp, and the large artwork donated by Real Deals.

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The gorgeous linen curtains and hardware were donated by Pottery Barn at Haywood mall.

And my dad’s company donated those huge windows. They let in SO much natural light.

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And thanks to these ladies (Nancee Lee and Becca) for all your help two weekends in a row. I could not have done it without you.

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If you would like to know more about my decorating services go to my business website for details.

What is that Mitchell’s Project all about? Part 1

If you follow me on social media you may have noticed that I have been posting a lot about Mitchell’s Project. 

Back in early December a friend of mine asked if I would be willing to help with paint colors etc on a local construction project for a young man (her brother-in-law, but also my sister-in-law’s cousin- confused yet? :)) with Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

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Mitchell has suffered from a disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) since he was born. This disease does not allow his muscles grow and therefore his condition similar to that of a quadriplegic – someone that is paralyzed from the neck, down.

The house he lives in with his parents is very small and it makes life difficult for Mitchell while trying to get around in his wheelchair. Mundane tasks like preparing a meal, going to the bathroom, showering, or brushing his teeth are overly complicated and take up much of his day.

Despite his limitations, Mitchell is an extremely generous person. He volunteers hours of his time every week to a local organization that helps those with drug addictions overcome their personal obstacles. 

So a group of people got together to help Mitchell overcome some of his own daily obstacles that are due to his debilitating physical condition.
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They have converted the unfinished basement in his parent’s house to a fully handicap-friendly living environment for Mitchell.

The basement is complete with wheelchair-height counters, refrigerator, and remote control doors and windows.

And here is where I come in.

While they had lots of donations for labor and materials, not much had been done in the way of furnishings etc.

After helping with paint colors, counter-tops, tile – I got on the phone to local and online businesses asking for donations or discounts on furniture and accessories.

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Thankfully I had great success. Almost everyone I contacted was so generous.

We are finalizing all the finishing touches on Saturday. Next week I will post the DIY desk project that my husband made and after photos.

They are still short on funds for finishing up some of the construction. If you would like to give click on the photo above for the gofundme site. 

*photos and description taken from the Mitchell’s Project facebook page.

Sneaky Kale Banana Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins | thedomesticlady.com

Sneaky Kale Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I had a bag a kale in the fridge and bananas in the freezer, and I needed a breakfast item for the week.

And that’s about as hard as I thought about creating this recipe.

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 Sneaky Kale Banana Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins
(printer-friendly version→ Sneaky Kale Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins)
Yield: 12 Muffins
Ingredients
  • 3 small bananas, over-ripe
  • 1 cup kale (chopped finely)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (or sub dairy milk)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (or 1/4 tsp table salt)
  • 1-1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup all purpose and 2/3 cup whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Topping

  • brown sugar
  • old fashion oats
  • chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Grease or line 12 muffin cups.
  3. In a large mixing bowl (or electric mixer),  mash the bananas and kale. Add the vanilla, egg, oil and milk. Mix well. Add the sugars and stir again.
  4. Using a spatula, stir in the cocoa powder, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix until the cocoa is completely incorporated. Stir in the salt and baking soda, then gently fold in the flour and chocolate chips, until just combined.
  5. Divide the batter among 12 muffin cups, about 3/4 full. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips, brown sugar, and oats.
  6. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until the muffin tops look set. Remove from the oven and place the muffins on a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room-temperature.
  7. Keeps up to 5 days, refrigerated.

Back Problems, My Undiet, and Fitbit

I started working out again on a semi-consistent basis back in May 2014.

Since then I fell off the bandwagon twice and changed gyms once.

Mid September I hurt my lower back (because I just overdid it at work) but ignored it which is never a good plan.

By mid October, I was in so much pain. I could barely walk for two days, and I missed several days at work.

I am not a wimp when it comes to pain, but it was SO BAD. I cried as I tried to get off the sofa.

After about 5 weeks of therapy I am pretty much back to normal.  (Thank you, Dr. Shride!)

But it was a huge wake up call. I need to take better care of myself.

And at this point it’s not really about losing weight, I just want to feel healthy again.

So since December I have been working out 4x to 5x a week (usually only 30 min).  I mix yoga, Pilates, cardio, and weight machines so I don’t get bored during the week.

And eating wise I am not on any sort of “diet.”

I am simply watching my calorie intake, increasing plant based foods, and reducing animal fats in my diet (dairy and meat).

Some days I do really well and other days we go out to eat for dinner and all the calorie counting goes out the window.

But for the first time in my life I am not stressing about it.

And the reason why is because I am using FitBit.

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It has been life changing.

Instagram: Christmas arm candy #fitbit #citizenecodrive #baublebar

Seriously.

I have used pedometers in the past, but I was never really happy with the ones I owned.

Tracking food/water consumption and exercise has never been easier. All the info downloads to my phone.

And it makes me SUPER aware of how much (or how little) I am moving which I have found is really important when you sit at a desk all day.

I am actually excited to to grocery shopping because I know I will be able to get more steps in:)

It even tracks my sleep habits.

If you are looking for assistance at getting healthier this year, I highly recommend it.

Kudos to my husband for gifting it to me for Christmas!

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I will try to give a monthly update for at least a couple months to let you know how I am doing.

Monday Randomness: The Thing About Vacations

I am still on my social media fast for a few more days, but I thought I would share what I have been up to.

I wish I could say I accomplished lots of home DIY projects during my time off over the holidays.

But let’s be honest: all I wanted to do was eat fudge and binge watch TV in my pajamas.

At one point Joe left for a errand and when he returned at 5pm I had already put my pjs on for the evening. He said, “Isn’t a little early for those?” Don’t worry, I set him straight.

During my time off I did discover two new favorite things.

The Serial Podcast.

And the cooking show Nigellissima (found on Hulu and the Cooking Channel).

The great thing about podcasts is that I can work on cleaning out my pantry while listening which I actually did while eating fudge. 2014-12-15-serialsociallogo

Nigellissima is sorta seductive in it’s production, but I have already made her meatballs with sauce. They were divine! So I will suffer though the lounge-esqe music in order to get those low-maintenance recipes.

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I hope you had a great holiday season.

Have a great week!