Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Dear merciful heavens. I just realized it's been nearly a month since I posted, and that makes me a bit sad. Life is unrelentingly busy right now, and while it's mostly a good busy, it's still just a busy busy. I'm working every single day to keep my head above water, some days more successfully than others. Life is so good, but I'm just trying to hang on right now. Maybe things will slow down soon, and then I'll get to complain about being bored. :)

Today I am thankful for...

  • the good Lord and His tremendous patience with me...maybe someday I won't test it so much!
  • my precious family and too-good-to-me friends
  • my sweet, sweet Daddy and the fact that he decided to be born today some years ago...I think you hung the moon, Paw, and I can't wait to celebrate you this weekend! Happy birthday and I love you bunches!
  • my health, and the health of my loved ones
  • some good news from Mom yesterday
  • my job, my absolutely wonderful students (I seriously mean that...they're incredible), coworkers that keep me laughing, and our lovely building
  • a new MARRIAGE to celebrate in exactly one month...I am so excited for Bub and Olivia I can hardly stand it!!!!
  • my (currently...ha) tidy little home
  • a roof over my head, shoes on my feet, clothes in my closet, food in my fridge, clean running water, a paid-off and very dependable car, enough money to take care of my needs
  • eyes that see, ears that hear, a nose that smells, hands and feet and arms and legs that work the way they're supposed to, a brain that thinks like it should
  • words of wisdom from Mimi and Grandad...I love them more than they'll ever know
  • Tuesday afternoon tutoring sessions...they very often make the rest of my week sunshiney 
  • the arrival of glorious fall weather this week...this lifts my spirits like very little else this time of year
  • a fun day planned at school tomorrow...Fun Run...Staff vs. Students volleyball game...water balloon over the head for yours truly
  • the excitement my students have over being able to pop a water balloon over their teacher's head...they have been waiting for this for weeks :)
  • my students wanting to call Daddy today and sing "Happy Birthday" to him...they loved it, and I think he loved it even more
  • the Monday morning prayer group that Renita leads...what a great way to start off the week!
  • being able to open my windows and turn off the AC
  • laughter
  • fun plans over the next handful of weeks
  • peace and contentment
  • grace
  • fun plans this weekend

HAPPY WEEKEND, yall! Get out there and do something fun with it!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I'm back, after a very unintentional hiatus. School has started back and I have an INCREDIBLE class (yay!), but I'm still working to get to the point where my head is above water. I'm not there yet...maybe soon!

Today I am thankful for...
  • the good Lord and His endless love, mercy, grace, wisdom, and patience
  • my family and friends
  • my health, and the health of my loved ones
  • my job, my incredible coworkers, our lovely building, and the fabulous little people I get to spend my days with...I can't describe how much I adore my new class
  • a long weekend coming up
  • clean running water, food in my fridge, a roof over my head, a lovely bed to sleep in, shoes on my feet, clothes in my closet, hot showers and the feeling of being clean
  • my aching feet and legs, because that means I have them
  • the complete and utter exhaustion that has come over me this week, because it means I'm giving all I can to my students
  • a brain that remembers everything I stuff in it, eyes that see, ears that hear, hands and arms that do exactly what I need them to do
  • a long weekend coming up
  • payday tomorrow!
  • all the growing and learning I've done in the last 365 days; I hope to keep growing and learning and to never get back to that place
  • clarity and contentment (working on that one each and every day!)
  • the kickoff of Auburn's football season in TWO days...War Eagle, friends!!!!
  • some really, truly dependable people who swoop in around me when I'm feeling discouraged
  • thoughtfulness...have you done something thoughtful for someone today? If not, get after it!
  • a long weekend coming up
  • getting to tutor an adult learner every week...I've gotten past the nerves and look forward to it every single week...such a blessing to me!
  • early bedtimes...if being in bed by 8:30 is wrong, I sure don't wanna be right
  • the fact that, unlike this time last year, I don't look like Garth Brooks
  • funny church marquee sayings
  • a few chances coming up to celebrate my brother and sister-in-law-to-be...I love them like crazy and I'm so excited for them!
  • the fact that Hurricane Isaac wasn't any worse than it has been...I know the flooding is a huge bummer, but at least it seems like that's all it will be...prayers to those who are in the path
  • my Brita pitcher
  • my commitment to wearing a dress or skirt every day this far, so good...and SO much more comfortable in the 1,000% humidity than pants
  • vitamin C
  • my computer
  • emails and texts that make me smile
  • blog friends who still love me when I disappear for weeks at a time
  • a chance to sit and rest and just BE this weekend...very much-needed...praise the Lord!
  • a long weekend coming up
  • this song, which has earned lots of playtime in my world this week...(Kate, I'm so sorry if this makes you want to pour bleach in your ears. I know you despise Sugarland and I'm not a huge fan myself, but I do like this song. You're gonna have to build a bridge, sweet girl!)


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Whole30 recap

My Whole30 adventure wrapped itself up on Sunday, and I've got lots to share! Thanks so much for all the support, well-wishes, and love during this journey. It means so much to me!

After navigating through the first few "give me carbs before I kill you" days, I really felt the best I have in a long time. I had more energy, and I felt stronger, lighter, and bloat-free. You know how you sometimes feel like you're stuffed to the gills when you eat a carb-heavy meal? I never, ever felt like that when I stuck to meat and veggies. It was much easier to stop eating right before I was completely full. That was a nice surprise! I also noticed that I was better able to concentrate, I felt more productive, and I slept really well. The purpose of this challenge is not to lose weight, but it was a welcome side effect for me :) Over the course of 30 days, I lost 14 pounds...without anything but walking for exercise. This has also completely changed the way I look at food, eating, and preparing meals. I really, really don't miss many of the foods I used to eat, and I'm actually still eating mostly Whole30-approved foods.

I highly recommend the Whole30. I also recommend jumping in absolutely head-first cold turkey. There's no way you'll be successful on this plan if you "ease yourself in" or allow cheats. No way at all. It's only 30 days. Suck it up, buttercup!

Helpful hints:
  • Have a blender handy. Mine got a near-daily workout.
  • You'll be washing lots of dishes. Ready yourself...or your dishwasher.
  • Eat plenty of protein and good fats (avocados, olive oil, nuts). This will keep you from being hungry an hour after you eat.
  • Use lots of spices to jazz up your veggies. My faves were cinnamon, onion powder, salt, and red pepper flakes.
  • Try the Cinnamon Steak. And the Avocado Chicken Salad. And the Ropa Vieja. You won't be sorry.
  • Find and make lots of new recipes. It'll keep you from getting bored.
  • Eat way more veggies than fruit. Fruit is really good for you, but it's gots the sugar. And sugar is sugar, no matter where it comes from.
  • Figure out a way to enjoy the large amount of food prep that goes along with this. You'll be spending a lot of time in the kitchen, so you might as well get a kick out of it!
  • Do your homework before going out to eat. Chipotle was my go-to place during my adventure. I honestly think it's just easier to not eat out while you're eating this way. It may not be fun, but at least you know exactly what you're eating if you prepare it at home!
  • Plan your meals ahead of time. I literally planned out all of my breakfasts, lunches, suppers, and snacks for a week. It made me feel more confident to know exactly what I was going to eat and when, and it took away the fear of that "Oh no, it's time to eat and I'm ravenous and the only thing available is deep-fried mac and cheese with donuts on top!" moment. Not that that moment ever happened, mind you, but it could. Gotta use your noggin. 
  • Keep a journal detailing what you ate and how you felt. That's what I did through my blog. It was interesting to see what I had eaten on the days I didn't feel great. That helped me to make quick and easy changes.
I'm planning to not stray too far from this way of eating in the future.  I have eaten a few non-Whole30 foods this week, and while I haven't gotten sick, I don't feel as light and bouncy as I did during my challenge. I need to get back on track! If you have any questions, PLEASE let me know. I'd love to talk you through all of this. And if you decide to dive in, I'll be there to talk you off the ledge when the fried rice cravings push you to the brink :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for...

  • the good Lord and His never-ending grace
  • my family and friends
  • my health, and the health of my loved ones
  • one last, precious weekend of summer break
  • a wonderful job to return to next week
  • new kiddos headed to my classroom in two weeks!
  • a roof over my head, shoes on my feet, clothes in my closet, food in my fridge, clean running water available any time I want it, a dependable car, electricity, internet, my dishwasher, my phone, enough money to take care of my needs (and every now and then, my wants)
  • the decision to tackle the Whole30
  • a very fun dinner out with Sasha tonight...much-needed, and I'm already looking forward to our next "date night"
  • FriendshipFest'12 right around the corner!!! Excited for a weekend with my friends!
  • a fun, very quick trip to Atlanta with my Mimi at the beginning of the week...this will get its own post soon
  • getting to visit with Cousin Jerry while in Atlanta...he's one of my favorite people on the planet, and I'm so very proud of him
  • the fact that Bub and Olivia were able to find a new venue for their reception after their first one cancelled on them...two months before the wedding...yikes
  • friends that share their joys and their heartaches with me...thinking of you, sweet friend (you know who you are)
  • a comfortable bed to climb in at the end of a long day
  • my Brita pitcher
  • the two tutoring sessions I have under my belt...I never would've guessed how much I would like teaching adults, but I just LOVE it and am already looking forward to next week!
  • clarity and insight
  • summer break
  • an interview for a dear friend tomorrow...I know she'd love some prayers at about 10:00 AM tomorrow!
  • the way the good Lord is moving and shaking in my life these days
  • some reminders to get out of the way and let Him drive :)
  • taking a lunch break in my classroom with Lauren today...I think she's pretty awesome
  • a brain that works like it's supposed to
  • arms and legs that can handle doing what I need to do every day
  • hears that hear, eyes that see, a nose that smells
  • contentment that grows every day
  • summer break, for just a little while longer :)


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Whole30 : Day 22 - 26

Day 22 (8/4):
  • breakfast -- scrambled eggs (1 whole, 2 whites) with spinach and cherry tomatoes, one peach
  • lunch -- Avocado Chicken Salad
  • snack -- four baby carrots (not very hungry)
  • supper -- Ropa Vieja (made it without the cauliflower "rice") with wilted spinach, one peach
Day 23 (8/5):
  • breakfast -- leftover Ropa Vieja with wilted spinach
  • lunch -- family Sunday lunch...steak salad (greens, grilled steak, squash, sliced tomato, homemade red wine vinaigrette), watermelon
  • supper -- leftover Avocado Chicken Salad
Day 24 (8/6):
Day 25 (8/7):
  • breakfast -- Justin's Almond Butter and a Cherry Pie Larabar (This was to avoid having to eat the hotel's continental breakfast. I didn't see anything that fit in my guidelines, so I improvised.)
  • lunch -- grilled chicken breast with pico de gallo and steamed green beans from Lone Star
  • snack -- watermelon
  • supper -- leftover Ropa Vieja with wilted spinach
Day 26 (8/8):
  • breakfast -- scrambled eggs with spinach, baby tomatoes, and baby carrots
  • lunch -- leftover grilled chicken from Lone Star, sliced tomato, watermelon
  • snack -- two handfuls of walnuts/almonds
  • supper -- leftover Ropa Vieja with wilted spinach, one peach

I can't believe I've only got four more days left!! Day 24 and 25 were a bit tough, only because I was out of town. I took a quick, very fun trip to Atlanta with my Mimi, and we did most of our eating at restaurants. Eating out is the only time I feel a bit of despair over my Whole30 commitment. Sometimes it's hard to find meals that you can eat, and even if the description sounds Whole30 compliant, you have no idea how it's being prepared. That led me to some salads with no dressing. Not my favorite in the whole world, but you do what ya gotta do!

The Ropa Vieja is seriously tasty. My only complaint is that the cut of meat called for in the recipe produced more fat at the end than I enjoy eating. I was able to skim much of it off, but I'm going to research leaner cuts of beef that would still work with the recipe. I did LOVE that it's made in the Crockpot. That'll be perfect for when I start work again ( week).

I would like to try the cauliflower "rice" that's part of PaleOMG's Ropa Vieja post, but I couldn't find any fresh cauliflower. I'm thinking that's more of a fall/winter veggie.

I'm still feeling GREAT and I'm actually planning to not stray far from my Whole30 lifestyle when my 30 days are over. I plan to allow myself a few "cheats" every now and then, but I feel so good and don't want to undo all my hard work! Four more days :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Update : Operation Death, Destruction, Gloom, and Doom

I posted Sunday about being completely, totally overrun with ants. Okay, "completely, totally overrun" is a bit dramatic. But I did have ants, and I wanted them gone.

I'm here to report that the Borax/jelly worked like a charm! I set the little baits out Sunday night, went out of town yesterday, and returned today to an ant-free home. Yay! I'm going to put out fresh ones tonight to kill any hardy little survivors, but I'm feeling pretty optimistic that this idea is a keeper. Thanks a bunch, Make It Do!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Death and destruction

I have ants in my kitchen. I don't want them in my kitchen, or in any spot in my little home. Enter: Operation Death, Destruction, Gloom, and Doom. They are industrious, admirable little boogers, but now that they've taken up in my home, they must die. I try really hard not to use toxic chemicals unless absolutely necessary, so I'm trying something natural.

I mixed strawberry jelly and Borax (which comes in WAY handy for cleaning...get some at your earliest convenience) and spread the poisoned goodness on pieces of an index card. Then I sat back and watched while this happened:

And then I did this:

Those ants are positively drunk on strawberry jelly right now. I hope I put in enough Borax and I'm not just providing them a super tasty strawberry dessert! I also hope that it doesn't attract any of those nastier, less industrious, more repulsive creatures whose name starts with an "r" and ends with an "oach". I'd rather keep the ants as pets if that's my other option.

I also spread a little line of Borax out on the counter in hopes that the ants will think it's sugar and will cart it back to their friends and families. Bwahahahahahahaha!

Oh, and I got the idea from Make It Do. She has a really, really great DIY blog if that's your cup of tea.

I'll keep you posted on Operation DDG&D...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Whole30 : Days 18, 19, 20, & 21

Day 18 (7/31):

  • breakfast -- scrambled eggs (1 whole egg, 1 egg white) with wilted spinach, handful of walnuts
  • lunch -- Protein Power Plate from Zoe's (There was some feta cheese in the slaw, so I just picked it out.)
  • snack -- baby carrots
  • supper -- Rosemary Lemon Chicken, sliced tomato, Cherry Pie Larabar
The Rosemary Lemon Chicken was simple and tasty. I didn't have rosemary but I did have Italian seasoning, so I just substituted that. I also must add that the Cherry Pie Larabar is ridiculously good. It is by far the yummiest Larabar I've tried!

Day 19 (8/1):
  • breakfast -- green smoothie
  • lunch -- leftover Rosemary Lemon Chicken, sliced tomato, baby carrots
  • snack -- Justin's Almond Butter (Yup. Straight from the packet.)
  • supper -- Avocado Chicken Salad with leftover green beans
Great day! The Avocado Chicken Salad is a creation from my own little brain. I think it's super tasty. If you try it, let me know what you think!

Avocado Chicken Salad
*2 ripe, soft avocados (Mine were not nearly ripe enough to mash, but they still worked fine.)
*cooked, shredded chicken (I used a package of boneless, skinless breasts.)
*1/2 red bell pepper, diced (Any crunchy vegetable would be a great substitute.)
*2-3 handfuls chopped walnuts
*drizzle of olive oil
*lime juice (from 1-2 limes, depending on your taste)
*seasonings (I used a sprinkle of salt, some onion powder, and a generous few shakes of red pepper flakes.)

Mash avocados, if they're ripe enough to mash. If not, just chop them up. Mix in everything else. Season to taste. Done!

Day 20 (8/2):
  • breakfast -- scrambled eggs (1 whole egg, 2 egg whites) with 1/4 red bell pepper sauteed in the same pan
  • lunch -- leftover Avocado Chicken Salad, watermelon
  • snack -- Pecan Pie Larabar (yum)
  • supper -- leftover Rosemary Lemon Chicken, sliced tomato, roasted carrots
Awesome day. Ten more to go!

Day 21 (8/3):
  • breakfast -- leftover Rosemary Lemon Chicken, leftover roasted carrots, handful of walnuts (Yep, this was my breakfast. I'm trying to eat up the food I have before I make a grocery store trip and I'm just the one to eat it!)
  • lunch -- scrambled eggs with spinach and red bell pepper, the last two spoonfuls of Avocado Chicken Salad, the last 5 roasted carrots (Aren't hodgepodge meals the best?)
  • snack -- Justin's Almond Butter
  • supper -- Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich from Rojo (minus the bun and, uh, the cheese) and a fruit cup, not a drop of anything to drink but water :) at Tin Roof 
FUN night out with lifelong friends. It's really nice to still be friends with people who've known you for 23 of your 27 years on Earth. It's also getting easier to go out on the town and stick to the Whole30. It doesn't bother me now to sip on water while everyone else enjoys an adult beverage or two. I'm proud of myself for sticking with it, even with temptation around every corner! Eight more days...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for...

  • the good Lord, and the endless patience He has with me
  • my family and friends
  • my health, and the health of my loved ones
  • the decision to embark on a Whole30 adventure for myself...I feel incredible and am so happy I'm doing this!
  • quite a bit of rain this week
  • a roof over my head to get me out of the rain, a dependable car with dependable windshield wipers, food in my fridge, clean running water available whenever I want it, clothes in my closet, shoes on my feet, enough money to take care of my needs and a few wants every now and then
  • umbrellas and rain boots
  • summer break, and the fact that I have about nine glorious days left
  • a great job to return to after those nine days are over
  • the new schoolbabies I have the honor of teaching...I have a feeling this is going to be an incredible year!
  • a lovely birthday celebration on Sunday/Monday, and the fact that my family loves me enough to make it a special day for me
  • a sweet phone call and a hysterical YouTube video from Cousin Jerry on my him
  • getting to take my name off the Downton Abbey: Season 2 waiting list at the library...Mom and Daddy gave it to me as one of my birthday presents, and I took great joy in taking my name off the ever-growing waiting list!
  • trips to the library
  • trips to the farmers market
  • Chilton county peaches
  • fun plans with old friends tomorrow
  • an upcoming girls' getaway with my sweet Mimi
  • FriendshipFest'12 right around the corner...can't wait to see my buds!
  • summer break
  • being able to muster up the courage Tuesday to walk into the literacy office to tutor...I was very nervous, but it went really well. I loved it and can't wait to go back!
  • electricity, and being reminded of this when my grand plans to get my classroom finished today were foiled by an hours-long power outage...drats
  • my Auburn family (aka, the Buggs) and the fact that Mama Kathy is celebrating a special birthday today! Happy birthday, Mama Kathy! I hope you know how much you are loved.
  • kind words and encouragement, and people who take the time to share those things
  • legs and arms that do what they're supposed to do
  • the ability to hear, see, smell, feel, and taste
  • a fully-functioning brain
  • 30 days until college football season kicks off!!
  • my phone
  • the Summer Olympics, even though I keep stumbling upon spoilers everywhere I turn...grrr
  • the adorable new shoes I found on the clearance shelf at Target today
  • a nice little visit with Mr. Steele while I was at my parents' house for my birthday...that deserves its own post
  • summer break

HAPPY WEEKEND, yall! Get out there and do something with it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A numbered list

When my brain thinks, it often thinks in numbered lists. Does anybody else's brain do that? I sure hope so.

1. I had a lovely birthday spent with my family. So blessed!

2. Everybody willingly ate my Whole30-friendly birthday supper. Thanks, fam!

3. One of my favorite parts of my birthday supper was my Bubba singing his own special, very high-pitched version of the birthday song while everybody else sang the normal version. Bless him. A priceless moment that still makes me giggle.

4. I wanted to take a family picture, so I propped my camera up on the TV and used the timer. The first picture was absolutely hideous. This one would be perfection, only it looks like it was taken in 1982. Not sure why my camera did that, but the picture makes me smile. I love these cool kids.

5. Every two years, the Olympics make my world go 'round. The Winter Olympics are always fun, but the Summer Olympics make me especially happy.

6. You know what's a bummer? When you're really, really excited about watching the USA women's gymnastics team compete in the team final, and you find out the results on facebook hours before the competition airs on TV. That makes me very grumpy. Anyway, I'm very proud of Team USA's gold medal!

7. I feel very sad for the athletes when they don't do well, especially on such a worldwide stage.

8. I used to want to be an Olympic gymnast. Or a figure skater...I would've been happy with either one. Don't mind the fact that I have no talent in either sport. I was gonna win that gold medal! Maybe it's not too late...

9. I went to tutor for the first time yesterday. I was very nervous about tutoring an adult versus teaching a child, but I loved it. Absolutely loved it!

10. I've got less than eleven more days of summertime left to my name. I'm determined to enjoy the stink out of every single one of them!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Whole30 : Days 15, 16, and 17

Day 15 (7/28):

  • breakfast -- leftover roasted broccoli and carrots (I wasn't very hungry.)
  • lunch -- leftover Cinnamon Steak and the rest of the roasted broccoli/carrots
  • snack -- handful of walnuts, one peach
  • supper -- okra, tomatoes, onion, Cajun seasoning, & one and a half links of nitrite-free, organic chicken sausage, one peach
I got the okra, tomatoes, and onion at the farmers market and just made up this little recipe. It was really, really good (and simple). Very tasty. I'm trying to limit my fruit/Larabar intake for the rest of my Whole30 adventure, but I absolutely had to eat two peaches today. Had to. They came from Chilton county, after all, and were the best peaches I've eaten all summer. Holy moly. So good!

Day 16 (7/29):
  • breakfast -- Justin's Almond Butter with baby carrots (I wasn't very hungry again this morning. Hmmm. This is new.)
  • lunch -- leftover okra-tomato-onion-sausage stuff, one peach
  • supper -- hamburger with mustard but no bun or cheese, green beans, salad, roasted eggplant, watermelon (My birthday supper! Thanks, family, for not complaining too much about a watermelon instead of birthday cake. My determined-not-to-cheat self thanks you for your cooperation!)
Day 17 (7/30):
  • breakfast -- leftover hamburger with mustard and no bun, one peach
  • lunch -- Mom and I met Daddy on his lunch break, and I had half of a salad from Chipotle (lettuce, chicken, green salsa, pico de gallo, a smidge of Mom's guacamole)
  • snack -- watermelon
  • supper -- the rest of my salad from lunch, leftover green beans from yesterday, watermelon (I'm watermelon's biggest fan...can you tell?)
I can't believe I have less than two weeks left...still feeling great! And significantly older and wiser, since today's my birthday :) I'm so glad I decided to do this Whole30, and I'm thinking 27 is going to be a fabulous year!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Whole30 : Days 12, 13, and 14

Day 12 (7/25):

  • breakfast -- green smoothie (water, spinach, flax seeds, frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries...I didn't have any bananas and noticed a huge difference...bleh!...I still drank it but it was no bueno)
  • lunch -- leftover Sweet Potato Hash
  • snack -- Justin's Almond Butter (I squeezed that little packet right into my mouth, because I had no fruit/veggies to put the almond butter on. Do what ya gotta do, folks.)
  • supper -- scrambled eggs (2 whole eggs, 1 egg pepper flakes, dried chives), sauteed kale, Marinated Mushrooms, Ginger Snap Larabar (yum...if the whole season of fall had a taste, it would be a Ginger Snap Larabar!)
I'm starting to really, really like kale. It's been more of an acquired taste for me than spinach (which I consume on the regular), but it's very tasty. I loosely followed the mushroom recipe, but I think hers is probably better. I didn't have any harissa (and I will remedy this soon), so I just improvised with various spices from my cabinet. My mushrooms were pretty good, but my "recipe" has a lot of room for growth. I'll be trying these again, her way. I also didn't use skewers, and just baked them in the same glass dish I marinated them in.

I felt great today; it makes me happy to know that I'm doing something good for my health! I could definitely get used to feeling like this all the time.

Day 13 (7/26):
  • breakfast -- green smoothie (exactly like yesterday, only with a frozen banana added...much better)
  • lunch -- scrambled eggs (1 whole egg, 1 egg white) and leftover Sweet Potato Sausage Hash
  • supper -- spaghetti squash with olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning
This day started off great but I started to feel sick to my stomach about 2:30. I have no idea what caused it, but I really thought I was in danger of losing my lunch. I was feeling a bit better by suppertime, and I had planned to make Spaghetti Squash Carbonara. Instantly, the thought of cooking bacon, smelling it, and then having to eat it put me back in that icky state I spent the whole afternoon in. Bummer. I put the bacon back in the freezer and just freestyled the spaghetti squash. It was pretty good, and thankfully I felt much better after I ate. Strange.

Day 14 (7/27):
  • breakfast -- green smoothie (exactly the same as yesterday)
  • lunch -- Blackened Chicken Salad from Golden Rule (minus the bacon bits, croutons, cheese, and dressing...I made my own dressing out of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and herbs)
  • snack -- Justin's Almond Butter and leftover Marinated Mushrooms (not together, though...ick!)
  • supper -- Cinnamon Steak (ridiculously good...please try this sometime soon) with roasted broccoli and carrots, Cashew Cookie Larabar (bleh)
My tummy was back to normal today...praise the Lord! Today was a stellar day. The Cinnamon Steak (with a smidge of salt and onion powder added) has been my favorite Whole30 meal so far, and I planned it on purpose for tonight. I felt like having a celebratory meal to go along with my little Olympics opening ceremony viewing party tonight. Great day.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for...

  • the good Lord
  • my family and friends
  • my health, and the health of my loved ones
  • a body that heals itself, including the big ol' bruise I gave myself when I stupidly whacked my arm on my pencil sharpener yesterday...apparently I should just walk holding my arms over my head to avoid issues like this
  • much success so far on my Whole30 glad I decided to do this
  • summer break, and the fact that I have a great job to return to next month
  • finding out the students in my newest class...I'm praying that this will be an incredible year!
  • lots of progress in my classroom this week
  • a couple of sweet, 11 year old helpers in my classroom yesterday
  • some really fun new plans for my students that I'm very excited about
  • a roof over my head, food in my fridge, clean running water available whenever I want it, shoes on my feet, clothes in my closet, a dependable and paid-off car, enough money to cover my needs
  • vitamins
  • sunscreen...this pasty white girl would be lost without it!
  • my Brita pitcher
  • Pandora
  • my dishwasher, which has seen much more action because of my Whole30
  • my blender, which still does a great job despite the daily abuse I put it through
  • trips to the library
  • farmers markets and Chilton County peaches
  • some much-needed, glorious rain last week
  • FriendshipFest'12 coming up soon...can't wait for a weekend with my college girls :)
  • one last trip to look forward to...excited for an adventure with my Mimi and my Sarah
  • getting to preview Bub and Olivia's engagement pictures the other day...the pictures are BEAUTIFUL and I'm excited to see the rest of them
  • the new texting while driving law that goes into effect in our fair state next's about time
  • finding something fun in my mailbox yesterday...such a nice change from the endless parade of junk mail!
  • the opening ceremony of the Olympics TOMORROW!! I get so excited about the Olympics :)
  • the fact that I have sight, my hearing, my sense of taste, my sense of smell
  • a brain that functions like it's designed to
  • my ability to read
  • my arms, hands, legs, and feet that allow me to do what I need to do each day
  • the certificate I got in the mail yesterday...I'm officially a literacy tutor for adults!
  • an opportunity next week to meet and work with a potential learner...I've never taught adults before so I'm pretty nervous, but I'm excited for the opportunity!
  • payday coming soooooooon
  • plans to celebrate my birthday with my family this weekend...they're pretty awesome


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Whole30 : Day 10 & 11

Day 10 (7/23):

  • breakfast -- scrambled eggs (2 whole eggs, 1 egg white, red pepper flakes, onion powder) and steamed broccoli
  • lunch -- Avocado Chicken Salad (Super easy and so good! Mix cooked, shredded chicken with two avocados. Add the juice from one lime, and throw in some chopped walnuts. I also put in a bit of olive oil and some red pepper flakes. I think this would be really good with some kind of veggie...maybe chopped bell pepper. Or celery, if you like that sort of thing...I do not.)
  • snack -- Justin's Almond Butter and carrots
  • supper -- green smoothie (water, spinach, flax seeds, avocado half, squeeze of lime juice, leftover almond butter, frozen blueberries, banana) and the last of my leftover green beans
I felt amazing today! Glad to be back in that happy place :) I really think it was lunch that made the difference. I tried to pack as much protein and (good) fat in as possible, and it must've worked! I ate lunch at 12:30 and didn't feel hungry enough for my snack until about 4:30. That's definitely some progress from my previous "full for 30 minutes" routine. Thanks to those who have supplied nutrition advice for me!

The almond butter came in a little squeezable packet, which I bought because I wasn't sure if I'd like it. No sense in buying a whole jar if it's no good! It tasted like sugarless peanut butter, just made with almonds. It'll take some getting used to, but I'm kinda diggin' it! It was so filling with the carrots that I only ate half the packet, so the rest went into my smoothie. 

Day 10 made me happy!

Day 11 (7/24):

  • breakfast -- green smoothie (water, spinach, flax seeds, frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries, frozen banana)
  • lunch -- leftover Avocado Chicken Salad (even better the second day!), 1/4 of a red bell pepper, handful of baby carrots
  • supper -- Sweet Potato Sausage Hash (recipe below)
Today was so good! I can't get over how awesome I've felt these last two days. I had tons of energy and no headaches. Since the whole reason I'm doing this is to get healthier and feel the best I possibly can, this makes me happy! I've also lost five pounds in eleven days. I'm not doing this Whole30 as a diet and a means to lose weight, but that is a welcome side effect :)

I actually didn't even eat a snack today since my lunch was so filling. Plus, I got so busy working in my classroom that by the time I looked at the clock, it was time to go home and fix supper. And I didn't get hungry between lunch and 5:00...VICTORY!!!

Supper was really, really, ridiculously good. I made it up as I went along, and it actually worked really well. Check for the recipe below. Sorry for the less-than-scientific measurements...that's how I roll.

Sweet Potato Sausage Hash
4 small to medium sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
1/2 sweet onion (I may use a whole one next time.)
several stalks of kale, torn or chopped
2 chicken sausages*, sliced

Heat some olive oil in a pan (or even better, a cast iron skillet) on medium-high heat. Throw everything in and cook until potatoes are tender and sausage is brown. This took about 20 minutes for me, stirring every now and then. Taste as you go and season as needed (I used salt, red pepper flakes, onion powder, and cinnamon). Simple, colorful, healthy, tasty. Enjoy! If you try it, let me know what you think!

*The chicken sausages I bought were nitrate-free and all sort of other stuff-free (in order to be Whole30 compliant). There were four in the package and I saved two for another time. Use as many as would float your boat. They were also fully cooked, but make sure to check your package and cook as long as required.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Just Darling...and various other drivel

*I've been hearing a song on my XM (the Highway channel) lately and am pretty hooked. I've never heard of Sarah Darling before this, but I love her voice. I hope she goes on to do something awesome!

*Today was Day 10 of my Whole30 adventure, and it went much, MUCH better than yesterday. Praise the Lord! I'll catch yall up tomorrow.

*I can safely say that this season of the Bachelorette was my all-time favorite. I didn't know if I'd like Emily at the beginning, but she was fabulous. It was nice to see a Bachelorette with morals, class, and good ol' common sense. I'm so excited she picked One F Jef!

*Yes, I'm also planning on watching Bachelor Pad. Yes, it's trash. No, I don't care :)

*I just finished reading Heaven Is for Real and LOVED it!! I remember the buzz when it came out a couple of years ago, but then I got busy and never got around to reading it. What an incredible story! I absolutely believe that little Colton went to Heaven, and his description made me even more excited about what's in store for us someday! I'm on the waiting list at the library for To Heaven and Back. I saw the author on the Today show the other day and am interested to read her account of her experience. Once I read it, I'll report back!

*My sweet friend Angie mentioned a blog on facebook at the beginning of the summer, and I started reading. And then I got hooked. And then I read four years' worth of posts, starting from his very first post in 2008. Yep. Four years. That's a lot of posts.  Matt Logelin and his wife Liz were excitedly expecting their first baby four years ago, and then Liz very suddenly died. Matt uses the blog as an outlet for his grief, and it was amazing seeing the life he;s made for himself and Madeline in the years since Liz died. He wrote a book not long ago, and it's on my birthday list. Check his blog out if you have several weeks to kill, 'cuz you'll probably be hooked.

*Seeing the Aurora movie theater shooter in court on TV today was a stop-me-in-my-tracks experience. Holy moly. There are some scary, scary people in our world.

*Do you consider 27 the end of the mid twenties or the beginning of the late twenties? I'll be there in a week, so this is need-to-know information. Please advise. Thanks.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Whole30 : Day 8 & 9

Day 8 (7/21):
  • breakfast -- leftover Spaghetti Squash Carbonara (Now would be an excellent time to tell yall that I have absolutely no problem eating non-breakfast food for breakfast. No problem whatsoever. Can we still be friends???)
  • lunch -- pork chop bites, wilted kale, roasted green beans (Thanks for the super duper lunch, DennyJ!)
  • snack -- Blueberry Muffin Larabar (This one was way yum!)
  • supper -- sesame stir-fry with pork, zucchini, red bell pepper, and onion (Thanks for feeding me twice today, Paw! I'm a lucky gal.)
I felt good today. I was definitely hungry by the afternoon, but the Larabar kept it under control. Yay!

Day 9 (7/22):
  • breakfast -- scrambled eggs (2 whole eggs, 1 egg white) and leftover green beans
  • lunch -- leftover Spaghetti Squash Carbonara
  • snack -- handful of walnuts, slightly thawed frozen cherries
  • supper -- green smoothie (water, spinach, flax seeds, frozen mango chunks, frozen blueberries)
I didn't feel very good today. The headache was back and my energy was at about -16% by about 2:00. I'm not sure what was going on. I'm wondering if I'm not eating enough, or maybe I'm not getting enough protein/fat. I'm full after all of my meals, but I'm significantly hungry again usually within 2-3 hours. I definitely feel like my food is digesting much faster than back when I was eating the way I used to. I seriously need to work on my lunches/afternoon snacks. They're not keeping me full, and I'm tired of counting down the minutes until I can eat supper. Any ideas?

My goal for this coming week is to eat less fruit and fewer Larabars. I know the sugar in those is natural, but it's still sugar. I'm nervous about cutting back on these tasty treats so think good thoughts for me!

Here's to Week 2 of my adventure!

*A big THANK YOU to Morgan who reminded me that green beans are indeed Whole30 compliant! This makes me happy because I'm in a green bean fan club. Well, not really, but if one existed I might be!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Whole30 : Day 6 & 7

I'm feeling really, really good these days. No more headache (woohoo!) and tons of energy, which is a very nice change from the first days of this adventure! I'm also starting to enjoy the prep work that goes into my meals. All the chopping and cooking is more trouble than opening a box or a bag, but if it helps me feel this good, I think it's worth the trouble. I'm starting to have fun with this!

Day 6 (7/19):
  • breakfast -- green smoothie (water, spinach, flax seeds, half an avocado, one frozen banana, frozen blueberries)
  • lunch -- salad from Chipotle (lettuce, carnitas, green salsa, guacamole)...thanks for buying lunch, Mom!
  • snack -- Key Lime Pie Larabar (I was not a fan of this wasn't bad, but not something I want to eat again)
  • supper -- leftover Cinnamon Steak, leftover roasted sweet potatoes and carrots

Day 7 (7/20):
  • breakfast -- scrambled eggs (2 whole eggs, 1 egg white), leftover roasted sweet potatoes and carrots
  • lunch -- green smoothie (exactly the same as yesterday, but with the juice from half a lime)
  • snack -- red bell pepper strips
  • supper -- Spaghetti Squash Carbonara (minus the Parmesan)
The Spaghetti Squash Carbonara ended up being very good. I wasn't sold when I first started mixing everything together because it needed some serious seasoning. Enter: salt and lots of red pepper flakes. MUCH better. I bought nitrate-free (and lots of other stuff-free) bacon to make sure it was Whole30 compliant. I also used a paper towel to blot as much grease from the cooked bacon as possible to make sure it was Julie-compliant :) I like bacon, but I'm certainly no fan of greasy bacon. I used only half of the bacon in the package. I think one pound like the recipe calls for would be way too much and would overwhelm the squash. The recipe says to leave 3/4 of the bacon grease in the pan to saute the onion/garlic, but I drained as much of it as I could. The onion/garlic cooked fine. When I make this again, I'll probably only use half an onion.

With a few tweaks, I think this one is a keeper!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Deep thoughts by 50 Cent

Remember Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey? I used to smile when I'd see that pop up during SNL reruns. Some of them are very clever, and are also pretty handy. Now I know what to do if my keys fall in a river of lava. That's need-to-know information, folks!

I saw this clip of an interview with 50 Cent and was taken quite aback, in a good way. I don't often think about 50 Cent, but when I do, I've honestly never seen him as a man of faith. The little I know about him led me to be very surprised when I watched this:

Either pray or worry, but don't do both. How true! This is something I've gotten better at in the past few years, but I have plenty of room for improvement. How about you?

Think what you want about him, but what he said is true. Thanks, Fitty, for the words of wisdom.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Whole30 : Day 4 & 5

I'm scared to jinx myself, but I think I may have turned a corner. Woohoo! Yippy skippy! Hallelujah!

Day 4 (7/17):

  • breakfast -- leftover Egg Bake (the recipe made so much that I might be ending this until the end of days)
  • lunch -- leftover grilled chicken with salad (exact same as yesterday)
  • snacks -- one banana, walnuts, baby carrots
  • supper -- Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich from Chick-fil-A (no bun, no sauce...just chicken, lettuce, tomato, and three disappointingly tiny pickles)
I was much hungrier this day than I was on Day 3. I was also much grumpier (not with others, thankfully...just myself!). I actually had this conversation in my head when I sat down to eat lunch:

J: It's time to eat your colorful, healthy, nutritious salad!
Self: There's no frickin' dressing on that salad. No bueno. 
J: I know. I didn't have time to make any and we can't eat bottled dressing anymore.
Self: I repeat...there's. no dressing. on that salad.
J: Suck it up, buttercup. Dive in.

Please assure me that you have conversations with yourself like this. It would make me feel better.

Supper was my first foray into eating out since I've restarted my Whole30. I had tutor training from 5:30-8:00, and while I snacked throughout the meeting (as did everyone else...I'm not a pig!), I knew I needed something for supper. There wasn't too much at Chick-fil-A I could eat, and I'm not a huge fan of their grilled chicken, but it was fine. At least I know now I have options!

The dull headache was still around but never medicine-worthy. The cravings greatly subsided on Day 4 which was a good thing, because on Day 3 I was about to start bashing my head against a wall to distract myself from fried rice thoughts. PS--I don't even remember the last time I ate fried rice. Random.

Day 5 (7/18):

  • breakfast -- leftover Egg Bake (I finally ate it all!)
  • lunch -- Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich from Chick-fil-A (exact same as yesterday, including the missing bun and tiny pickles...I ordered two sandwiches last night because I knew I had nothing else for lunch today), tomato slices
  • snacks -- broccoli florets, Cherry Pie Larabar
  • supper -- Cinnamon Steak with caramelized onions, roasted sweet potatoes and baby carrots (I have half a steak and plenty of veggies left over.)
Today wasn't bad. I felt great this morning but was absolutely ravenous by about 2:30. I've learned that afternoons will be my most challenging time of day, and I've got to start eating more for lunch. Either that, or I've got to start eating more substantial foods for lunch. That's the only way I can see myself making it through the afternoons without endless snacking.

I tried my first Larabar this afternoon, hoping it would end the hunger revolt my body was threatening. Holy manna from heaven. It was SO good, and it talked me back off the ledge this afternoon. As far as I can tell, they are completely Whole30 compliant (except the ones with chocolate chips). I feel pretty good about it because I did lots of research on the computer before I made my purchase. I bought five of them, so I hope the other flavors are just as good.

Also, the cinnamon steak I made for supper was moment-of-silence good. Dear me. I varied a bit from the recipe in the link, so here's what I did. I seasoned the steak with a little bit of salt, cinnamon, and ginger. It went into a baking dish with a bit of olive oil. That's it. I sliced up two sweet potatoes and put them in a baking dish with a few handfuls of baby carrots and some olive oil. I baked both of 'em on 385 degrees for about 25 minutes, stirring the veggies and flipping the steak once. While I was waiting for that to cook in the oven, I caramelized an onion on the stove. I really think it was the caramelized onions that put the steak over the top. Holy moly, I can't even describe the splendor that was this meal. Goodness gracious. You must stop everything you're doing and make this right now.

The headache was still there today, but not very noticeable. I'm hoping that headache mess is on its way out...this girl is officially over it!

Day 5=done! One day at a time...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Whole30 : Day 3

Well, I've been at it for three days now. Yesterday was slightly less than wonderful, and today was downright hard. Here's what I ate today:

Day 3 (July 16th):

  • breakfast -- leftover Egg Bake 
  • lunch -- leftover chicken with salad (spinach, carrots, avocado)
  • snack -- one banana, handful of almonds
  • supper -- green smoothie (water, spinach, flax seeds, avocado half, lime juice, one frozen banana, frozen blueberries, frozen peaches)
That's what I actually consumed. Wanna know what I wanted? Fried rice with shrimp sauce. Hot & Spicy Cheez-Its. A big ol' plate of spaghetti. Cheese toast. A straight-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie...or eight. 

Can we say carb addict? Holy moly. I had no idea I was this hooked. I ate pretty healthy before I started this adventure, but I didn't realize how much I loved carbs. Today was really hard. I helped with registration at school this afternoon, and we were absolutely slammed for the whole three hours. The hoards of people flinging money at me actually helped to distract me from my nearly-debilitating fried rice craving. A fun little gathering this evening also helped to distract me, although it was zero fun to chug water while everyone else sipped wine.

I actually wasn't too hungry today, but was dragging around with not much energy and that dumb ol' headache left over from yesterday. This will get better. This will get better. This will get better...

When I made my green smoothie, I threw in the other half of the avocado I'd cut for lunch. Yes, my fruit smoothie contained both spinach and avocado. Is that gross? Do I still have any friends left? I hope so, at least a few. You know what? I actually really liked it with the avocado in there! It gave it a creamy texture and I couldn't taste it at all. Avocado may be a permanent addition to my green smoothie routine. So good.

As tough as it's been, my resolve to make this work is stronger. So far. And I hope it stays that way! You can do anything for 27 more days, right? ;)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Whole30 : Day 1 and Day 2

After a few missteps earlier this week, I am officially, completely 100% on board my Whole30 adventure. I want to keep track of my adventure here as a record for myself (and in case anybody else is interested). I have jumped in cold turkey and I haven't cheated so far!

Day 1 (July 14th):

  • breakfast -- green smoothie (water, spinach, flax seeds, frozen mango chunks, one frozen banana, frozen strawberries, frozen peaches)
  • lunch -- scrambled eggs with sauteed bell pepper and onion, one banana
  • snack -- walnuts
  • supper -- taco meat with salad, homemade red wine vinegar dressing (via my favorite master chef, aka DennyJ)
Overall, this day was easy. I felt motivated and was excited to make it through the whole day without a single cheat. Yay!

Day 2 (July 15th):
  • breakfast -- green smoothie (exact same as yesterday)
  • lunch --  Egg Bake (one dozen eggs, one chopped red bell pepper, one container baby 'bella mushrooms, one chopped red onion, several handfuls spinach...adapted from
  • snack -- walnuts, frozen cherries (thawed a bit)
  • supper -- grilled chicken with salad, balsamic vinegar reduction (Pour some balsamic in a pot and simmer it until it thickens...10 minutes or so. Easy and SO good.)
Today was not too bad, but a little less rosy than yesterday. I've had a dull headache all day, but I don't know if it's due to the "detox effect" or if it's just a headache. It hasn't been bad enough to take medicine, though. I definitely hit an afternoon slump today. I didn't realize how much I'd come to depend on a carb boost to carry me from lunch to supper. I ate some slightly thawed frozen cherries and walnuts, and that helped get me to supper time, but was still not what I really wanted :)

I have also learned that planning each day's meals in advance is probably one of the keys to being successful with this. I'm not used to planning a whole week's meals out ahead of time, so that's been an adjustment for me. Not a bad adjustment, but something I'll need to get used to. So far (aside from the "blahs" this afternoon), I'm feeling pretty good!

Friday, July 13, 2012

A hodgepodge

Life has been really, really, super busy these days. I've been having the time of my life, but I'm not sad that I've got some wide-open, unscheduled days coming up. I love going and doing, but I also occasionally love not going anywhere and not doing anything!

*I finished my first jury duty adventure this week. My goal going in was to be the least desirable jury candidate ever, and I wasn't picked for a jury, so I consider that a success! I got called to go to a courtroom for jury selection on the first day and after sitting on a rock hard bench for a mind-numbing three hours, was among the 40 jury candidates not chosen. That was fine with me because the case was super boring. The next two days were spent sitting and waiting...and sitting...and waiting. I was in the group called to go to a criminal case Wednesday, but the defendant never showed up. He got a free trip to jail, and we got to go home :)

Overall, it wasn't a bad experience. If you've never served and one day get called, here's some advice. Bring a book (and a newspaper...and a magazine...and another book...and maybe a deck of cards or even Twister, to liven things up a bit). You will spend most (or maybe even all) of your time sitting and waiting. Along with a big bag of stuff to keep you busy, bring your patience. You'll need it, especially when the woman behind you talks on her cell phone for two hours without ceasing and then breathes her nasty peanut butter cracker breath over your shoulder. You'll really need your patience then.

*Have you watched Downton Abbey? I've heard lots of people talking about how great it is, so after being on the waiting list at the library for two months, I finally got my turn. It. Was. Awesome. I watched the entire first season in one day. I'm completely hooked and I dare say that you will be, too. I'm now #48 on the waiting list for Season 2, and I'm hoping that the 47 people in front of me watch it reallyreallyreally fast so that I can have my turn!

*I'm very excited about the Olympics. The opening ceremony is two weeks from today! I'm also really proud that my beloved alma mater, Auburn University, is sending 24 Olympians to London. It truly is great to be an Auburn Tiger!

*I've gotten kinda off track with my Whole30 this week. I didn't really set myself up for success with jury duty being this week. This plan is really tough to carry out while you're "on the go". Plus, there are only a few  food places near the courthouse downtown, and they're all sandwich/hamburger/hot dog kinda places. Not conducive to the Whole30! Bleh. So...I'm making myself restart my journey. I'm hoping that since I can be closer to home over the next few weeks, I'll be more successful. Think happy thoughts for me, and I'll keep ya posted!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for...

  • the good Lord
  • my family and friends
  • my health, and the health of my loved ones
  • actually getting a Thankful Thursday post done this week...I'm a slacker no more! Well, at least for the moment.
  • a roof over my head, clean running water, food in my fridge, shoes on my feet, clothes in my closet, a paid-off car, a dishwasher, air conditioning
  • the fact that I can read
  • trips to the library
  • my job and the lovely breaks it provides me
  • the fact that I have a job to return to next month when this lovely break is over
  • a very productive and FUN is flying by but I've made some great memories
  • getting to jump in some puddles today
  • being halfway done with my literacy tutor training...I'm excited to see who I get matched with!
  • finally getting to watch the first season of Downton Abbey...I've been on the waiting list at the library since the beginning of May, and it was completely worth the wait. I can't wait to get my hands on season 2. If you haven't watched this yet, do yourself a favor and get on it ASAP. I'm hooked.
  • being dismissed early from jury duty...woohoo!
  • making a new friend to keep me company during jury duty
  • several chances to explore and fall in love with downtown Birmingham...I feel like we're pretty tight friends now
  • a wonderful party last week to celebrate Bubba and Olivia's engagement...Mary Meigs, you certainly were the hostess with the mostest!
  • vitamins
  • sunscreen
  • my Brita pitcher
  • people who go to the trouble of encouraging others...the world would be a bummer of a place without people like that
  • the chance to see my class list's exciting to see the names of your new students, even if you don't know who they are yet :)
  • (a little) progress in my classroom
  • some blessed, wonderful, much-needed rain this week


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Charleston is so beautiful.

I have a handful of random pictures from Charleston that didn't fit in any of my other posts, so I'll make a home for them in this one. Even though I've been home for over a week, I'm still marveling at how lovely that city is.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I'm in love with Charleston, part four

The last full day of our trip, July 1st, was a scorcher like the day before. It was so humid by the time we went to breakfast that we opted to eat inside the bed & breakfast instead of on the porch. No sense in sweating all over your church dress before it's absolutely necessary!

One of the things we both really wanted to do while we were in Charleston was attend a church service. We decided on St. Michael's Episcopal Church. Even though neither of us is Episcopal, we very much enjoyed going to church there.

This church is so beautiful. The pews inside are the fabulous old box pews that you only see in very old churches. Pew #43 (the Governor's Pew) has played host to the hineys of both George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Those are some pretty impressive hineys! I so enjoyed all of the gorgeous details and history in the church. 

There was a blurb in the bulletin advertising a tour of the building after the service. Kate and I can't get enough of building tours, so you better believe we were there :) We ended up being the only tour-takers, and got to spend over an hour with our precious WWII veteran, 50-year choir member, Citadel professor tour guide. We talked about the church, of course, but also about love, learning, war, Jesus, torpedoes, and music. He was truly a delight and I'm so glad we got to spend some time with him.

We left the church in time to make our lunch reservation at Husk. There's a lot of buzz about this restaurant these days, and we couldn't wait to see what all the hype was about. We were almost dismayed to learn that Husk serves brunch instead of lunch. Neither of us was in the mood for breakfast food at 1:15 in the afternoon, so we were relieved to find out that the menu looked more like lunch than breakfast. Husk is a farm-to-table concept restaurant, and they are very proud of that. I can't say enough positive things about the service. Our waiter was phenomenal and the managers were very visible, out cleaning tables and delivering meals. Very cool. I had a pulled pork/fried egg Monte Cristo with a potato/sausage hash. Very simple and SO good. Oh my gosh. So good. I absolutely recommend Husk next time you're in Charleston. You won't be sorry!

Our next stop was the Calhoun Mansion, which was nearly indescribable. 

Fun fact: the interior of this house was the interior of Allie's parents' house in The Notebook. The house itself is phenomenal. My favorite was the woodwork inside, which is absolutely exquisite. There was so much attention to detail when the house was being built, and given how much of the house is still original, was built very well.

Since we weren't allowed to take pictures inside, I'll have to do my best to describe it. Really, though, you just need to see it to believe it! The man who currently owns it bought it several years ago. He is an international litigation lawyer, who apparently makes $698 kajillion a year. Or something like that. One of his hobbies is collecting priceless antiques. When I say priceless antiques, I mean a solid gold, two-headed eagle lamp once owned by the Romanov family...a whole room of furniture owned by Napoleon Bonaparte...custom-made lamps crafted by Mr. Tiffany himself. And the craziest part? All of this stuff is just sitting out, all over the house. Kate described it as "Hoarders: Filthy Stinkin' Rich", and that's so accurate. The house is absolutely covered in this stuff! I have never in my whole life been so afraid of breaking something. I just imagined my purse knocking over a vase and the guide saying, "Fantastic! That vase costs $40 million. Will that be cash, check, credit, or first-born child?"

I managed to pull my jaw up off the ground enough to leave the Calhoun Mansion while we spent our last afternoon wandering around. Our very last meal out in Charleston was at Poogan's Porch, and it was perfection. I had a chicken breast stuffed with gouda and collard greens and topped with a pepper jelly sauce, with green beans and mashed potatoes. Bliss.

We capped off our last night by touring the best parts of the city one more time. I loved every, single second of our Charleston getaway and would go back in a heartbeat. Loved it. If' you've never been to Charleston, you need to start planning your trip right now!


I'm only going to do one more Charleston post...I promise! I have a few random pictures that didn't fit in any other post but are just begging to be shared. In the meantime, I'm fulfilling my civic responsibility by doing jury duty this week. Today was actually much more interesting than I anticipated, but I'm still hoping my jury duty adventure will be over sooner rather than later :)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I'm in love with Charleston, part three

On the third day of our trip, June 30th, we walked out of the carriage house headed to breakfast. Ick. It felt like we'd walked into the steam room at the gym. The last two days of our journey had been hot, pretty significantly hot, but it was nothing we weren't used to. This day, though, was different. When the temperature is already 90 degrees by 7:30 AM, you're in for it.

We walked to the weekly Charleston Farmers Market to see what we could see. It was the biggest and most varied farmers market I've ever been to. I absolutely loved it.

After wandering around for over an hour, we purchased beautiful pottery from Kate's favorite pottery guy (River Road Pottery) and gorgeous vintage necklaces from Scarlet Poppy. I adore my new necklace!

I also sweated more than I ever remember sweating...ever. We were literally dripping, along with everyone around us. When the Scarlet Poppy lady was helping me try on my necklace, she was sweating all over me and I was sweating right back on her. Disgusting. While it did get to be about 105 degrees this day, the humidity was what was so awful. It literally felt like we were swimming, with all our clothes on. Our sunglasses fogged up every time we went outside. Our clothes stuck to us. Our skin was clammy. Our curly hair grew bigger by the minute. Our makeup melted away. My camera lens quickly covered in condensation every time I took my lens cap off.

{Hello, condensation. Thanks for ruining my shot.}

After leaving the market, we made our way to the Aiken-Rhett House. Kate worked there while in grad school, and I was excited to see the house that I'd heard so many stories about.


After visiting with one of Kate's old coworkers, she led me on a wonderful private tour of the (un-air conditioned) home. I absolutely loved touring these old homes. It made me a bit sad that pictures weren't allowed inside any of them, but I completely understand why.

We made our way back into the heat and slogged about a mile in the other direction to go eat lunch. Kate really wanted to eat at Jestine's Kitchen, and I'm so glad she made that call. The restaurant is very cute and "down-home", the service was wonderful, and the food was spectacular. I had meatloaf, macaroni & cheese, red rice (yall seriously have to eat you some of's amazing), and banana pudding. So, so good. This was a way more substantial lunch than I'm used to eating, but after looking back on what came next, I'm glad I had some sustenance.

We continued walking/dripping down Meeting Street to make our way to the Nathaniel Russell House

This house is one that has been completely restored, and it looks as if Mr. Russell himself is fixing to come home for supper. Such a beautifully restored home, and I very much enjoyed our visit there.

At this point, we found ourselves with a wide-open afternoon. Kate's friend Jossy had very (VERY) generously allowed us to have access to her employee discount pass, so we went through the list looking for something that appealed to us. We decided on a ferry ride and tour at Fort Sumter.

What was not completely apparent to me at the time was that the ferry landing was nearly two miles away, and we decided to trek on foot. We also had less than an hour before the ferry departed, so there was no time to waste. The temperature at this point was 1,452 degrees, it was 1:00 PM, and it seemed that there was no shade on either side of the street. Awesome. We walked the whole way in near silence because it seemed that talking would take too much effort, and both of us needed to focus all of our attention on staying alive. It was a struggle. By the time we arrived at the port, we were both completely drenched, red-faced, and greatly in need of rehydration. We showed the nice ticket man our pass and headed to the bathroom to survey the damage. I had to laugh when I saw my reflection in the mirror...I was a shell of my former self. Know who wasn't laughing? The Pretty, Pretty Princess washing her hands beside me. She had clearly just emerged from an air-conditioned car and must have lacked sweat glands. And a sense of humor.

You know what seats were left by the time we got on the ferry? The ones in the sun. We reluctantly accepted our fate and sat down. The ride over was actually quite pleasant, despite the fierce sunshine.

{the ruins of Castle Pinckney in Charleston Harbor}

{the site of the first shots of the Civil War...that big black thing in the middle was built in 1898 and I think it's absolutely hideous...just my two cents :)} 

Fun fact: Fort Sumter is built on a natural sandbar, but the sandbar wasn't large enough for a structure this size (the fort used to be three stories tall). There also weren't enough rocks available in the South to supplement the sandbar. So, rocks from the Northeast (Maine, I think) were brought in, plopped on the sandbar, and Fort Sumter was built on top of them. Very technically, this point of Confederate pride is built on Yankee soil. I got the biggest kick out of that.

Kate and I made it back onto the ferry in enough time to nab two shady seats. We quite enjoyed the breeze...and the shade...on the ride back! We hiked the two miles back to our bed & breakfast because we both refused to go out to eat in the shape we were in. After shower #2 for the day, we drove out to Folly Beach to meet Jossy and new friend Becca at Taco Boy. We had tons of fun enjoying the laidback, beachy atmosphere and great food. I had Carnitas Nachos and highly recommend them. We capped off the night by going to the beach, wading out in the water, and enjoying the reflection of the nearly full moon on the ocean. An absolute perfect ending to an exhausting, but wonderful, day!

Friday, July 6, 2012

I'm in love with Charleston, part two

We started our second day, June 29th, with breakfast on the back porch of our bed & breakfast. The Barksdale House Inn cooked up a lovely breakfast every day we were there, and we came to look forward to our early morning meals on the porch.

When we were planning our trip, I told Kate that one thing I really wanted to see was a plantation house somewhere out in the country. I also wanted it to have one of those really impressive drives with a "tree tunnel" dripping with Spanish moss. Drayton Hall proved to be just the place.

Kate's friend Trish works at Drayton Hall and treated us to a private tour. The interesting thing about Drayton Hall is that it's preserved, not restored. I'd never seen a home like this. The preservation team makes sure the home is structurally sound and not falling apart, but they have no plans to "gussy it up". Very cool to see. This is surely one of the most beautiful buildings I've ever seen.

{a signing uncovered on the fireplace surround...the date is July 4, 1824} 

 {all hand-carved}

{hand-carved mahogany swags} 

{Drayton family growth chart...even though the Draytons no longer own the home, they are still able to come in and mark the height of their little Draytons on this chart}

{not sure why this one appeals to me so much, but I absolutely love it}

{In my highly self-critical opinion, this is one of the best pictures I've ever taken. In love.}

 {I was excited to take a picture of this real, Lowcountry swamp. As I turned to walk away, I stepped on what I thought was solid ground...}

{...which led to this...which led to a pit stop at the bathroom where I, while wearing a dress, had to wash my foot in a sink. My middle name should be Grace.}

To escape the 417 degree temperatures for a bit, we ate a wonderful lunch at the Sunflower Cafe. We then drove out to the Angel Oak on Johns Island, another of my "must-sees". I have always wanted to see one of those towering, Southern live oak trees with the branches that seem to go on for miles. Enter, the Angel Oak:

 {the only picture Kate and I took together the entire trip...I need to get WAY better about stepping out from behind the camera and getting in front of it!}

Absolutely spectacular. If you're ever in the Charleston area, you must go see this tree. I promise, it's worth it!

Kate and I drove back to Charleston and met her friends Jossy, Trish, and Amelia for happy hour at Fleet Landing, right on the harbor. I enjoyed getting to spend time with Kate's grad school friends. I'd heard so much about them over the last few years that I felt like I already knew them!

After two pomegranate martinis and nearly three hours of nonstop chatter, we were in need of some food. Jossy, Kate, and I had supper on the porch at Cru Cafe. My goat cheese salad and fried brie with fig compote was ridiculously good. Like, I had to just stop talking for a few minutes to become one with my food...that good.

Since the temperature had dropped 200 degrees after the sun went away, Kate and I opted to walk back to our bed & breakfast. She took me through some of the more quiet residential streets in Charleston, and I was still in awe of the beauty all around me. Simply gorgeous.

Good thing we got plenty of sleep this night, because the next day brought more activity than we had ever envisioned!