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!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Independence Day...with a bang

I had a lovely time celebrating America's birthday and our independence with my family. We had a fabulous lunch, shared lots of laughs, and enjoyed some time just chillin' and relaxing. What a delight!

One of the very best parts of the day, however, came early in the morning. The University of Alabama had made plans to implode the Rose Towers dorm building to make way for newer, more updated dorms. While it made me sad to think of Rose Towers not towering over the river anymore, I couldn't turn down the opportunity to see a building implode right in front of me. I'm all about experiencing new things and knew this one was a must-see.

*I will add: if this had been a building on Auburn's campus, where I spent four glorious years of my life, I certainly would not have been a spectator. That might actually break my heart into little bitty pieces. I had some sad friends on facebook today and it really made me feel for them. While it was just a building to me, it was home to them and the setting for fun college memories. I hope they don't think I'm insensitive by sharing this here. It's much easier and more fun to watch something like this if you have no attachment to it.*

I made a very early journey into Tuscaloosa so that we could make it to the viewing spot by 7:15. I had great company and enjoyed my time with some of the fam. We were all pumped. Grandad has decades of experience as a construction project manager, so he was little-kid-on-Christmas excited to see something that is directly opposite what he does on a daily basis.

{Mimi describing the details she'd read in the newspaper...I'm pretty sure she now knows enough to implode a building herself}

{I don't remember what they were talking about but I do know that this is one of my favorite pictures I've ever taken. Ever, ever. A keeper for sure.}

{one last shot}

Having never seen an implosion (other than on TV), I didn't quite have a feel for the logistics. There were firetrucks spraying the building to minimize the dust, I learned. Makes sense. I also learned that no charges were placed higher than the eighth floor to ensure that the building fell in on itself instead of exploding from the top. Good to know. Getting hit in the head with a brick-turned-missile would kinda put a damper on the Independence Day festivities. Super glad I'm not in charge of something like this.

We got a one minute warning so I set up my camera (on my tripod). I have a great action setting that enables you to press the shutter once and take 25 consecutive shots in 25 seconds...way faster than you could ever do it manually. I had big dreams of getting spectacular implosion shots.

However, I learned something else yesterday. When you hear the charges start sounding, and you immediately press the shutter on your camera, you've jumped the gun too quickly. You see, the building hovers for a few seconds after the charges fire. THEN it collapses. If you do what I did, you won't get a single picture of the collapse...which is exactly what happened. I have 25 consecutive pictures of the building standing completely upright just BEFORE it fell. Ha! I've laughed and laughed over that. Things like this happen specifically to keep us humble, right? Now that I've told you all this, if you need a photographer for a pivotal, life-changing event such as a wedding, graduation, or championship game, call me :)

Thankfully, I got to see the implosion with my eyeballs and was able to film with my phone. I debated not putting the video on here because, while the implosion is amazing, I sound like an absolute goober. I had no idea I would be that excited seeing such a thing, and it's all caught on video. Thanks for being my friend anyway. And if you have ideas for any suitable alternatives to the word "cool", please let me know ASAP. This is apparently something I need to work on.

Isn't that incredible? Just a poof of dust and an entire massive 12-story building is gone. I am absolutely fascinated by people whose brains think this way, because that is the COMPLETE opposite of how mine functions. I would, without a doubt, make the world's worst engineer. 

{Nothing left but a cloud of dust and a gigantic pile of rubble. Twenty seconds and DONE. Boggles the mind.}

I hope you and yours had a thrilling...or totally relaxing, because that's great of celebration yesterday!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy birthday, America

Happy birthday to my dear America. We think you're pretty wonderful. Know who else is wonderful? The men and women who have served, will serve, or currently are serving our country in the military. This grand ol' flag wouldn't fly without them.

Enjoy this special day, friends!