Wednesday, December 21, 2011

14 weeks

I'm 14 weeks 1 day today, and Baby E is the size of a naval orange. S/he jumped from a lemon last week (3.5 inches long) to an orange this week (4.5 inches long) - talk about a growth spurt!
Fun little pregnancy survey: 
  1. How far along?: 14 weeks 1 day
  2. How big is baby?: According to What to Expect, a naval orange (4.5 inches long, 2-3 oz)
  3. Weight gain?: Lost 4 lbs (oops)
  4. Stretch marks?: None yet.
  5. Maternity clothes?: I have one maternity tunic that I've worn a couple times because it's so cute and comfy, but I have no need for maternity clothes yet
  6. Sleep?: Can't sleep in late (any time after 8:30) no matter how late I go to sleep, but naps are very welcomed on the weekend 
  7. Best moment last week?: Always love getting to hear the heartbeat (12/20)
  8. Food cravings?: It changes hourly
  9. Symptoms?: Still vomiting, but feeling crappy less frequently
  10. Exercise?: none (boo)
  11. Gender?: finding out 1/13!!
  12. Movement?: None that I can feel!
  13. Belly button?: Still in
  14. What I miss?: Feeling good, having energy, Jersey Mike's
  15. Labor signs?: Better not have these yet.
  16. What I'm looking forward to?: Christmas!! Last one without kids, I cannot wait until the baby's first Christmas next year
We had a quick check-up yesterday (quick check-up = 40 minutes in the waiting room, 30 seconds of hearing the baby's heartbeat) and everything sounds great. I decided to experiment a little, since we had such a sleepy baby on our hands at the last appt, and had a root beer before our appt - it worked! Baby was moving around "woosh, woosh" and had a nice strong heartbeat.

Mommy, on the other hand, is in trouble. Apparently all this "morning" (again, bullshit) sickness has caught up with me and instead of gaining the 4 lbs I was supposed to at 14 weeks, I've lost 4 lbs from my normal weight. Oops. "Eat More," the doctor says ... I feel like I eat NON-STOP. I'm eating a chocolate chip cookie as we speak. So for the first time in my life, I'm on a quest to gain weight, which I'm certain will be short-lived and they'll probably lecture me for gaining too much at my next appt.

AND SPEAKING OF THE NEXT APPOINTMENT!!! We find out if Baby E is a "man or a woman" on January 13th.

I. Cannot. Be-Lieeeeeeeeve. It.

We're going to have my mom come down and a few friends & family over for a fun "gender reveal" party that evening. I always thought it was so cliche for expectant mothers to say they don't care what they're having, "just as long as it's healthy" ... No, you care. You have a preference. You just don't want the kid to later find out that you wished s/he was something else. Well boys and girls, I was wrong. I genuinely can say I would be thrilled with either a boy or a girl. And (I saw this on another mommy blog) the good news is, the laws of reproduction are in my favor that it'll be one of those two, so I can't lose.

Of course, Ben wants a little boy, so I would be thrilled for him to have a son. Plus I've always loved the idea of having a boy first to be the older brother. But then again, every girl (woman?) wants a little girl of her own I think. Somewhere deep down, I've always dreamt of tutus and bows and pink bedding. So really forreal, I will be 100% thrilled whatever the case. Just so long as our little Bacon keeps growing strong and healthy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pregnancy Confessions: Volume One

Let me just say, being pregnant with Ben Eckerson is frickin' hilarious. Every so often, I freak out on him (I mean, wouldn't YOU freak out if he brought up a pile of laundry that included an unmatched sock?!), but for the most part, my husband makes me laugh to no end. A perfect example was this morning, on the way to work:

A: OW! This kid is killing my uterus today.
B: Is it because your uterus is introverted? Is the baby break-dancing?
A: RETRO-verted sweetheart. It's not upside down, it just leans back.
B: Oh, retro, so it's a retro baby? Like an 80's baby!
A: Sure. Let's just name the baby M.C. Hammer...
B: Or just Hammer?

... I think he was serious. You should hear some of the name suggestions this guy comes up with. Also, I know my husband well enough to know he thought my uterus was upside down, not shy. So when he said "introverted" he meant "inverted". Bless his heart.

Anyway, this isn't about him (too late), it's about me and my pregnancy confession for the week (I reserve the right to have more confessions if I have a particularly embarrassing week).

Whilst laying on my back in bed Saturday evening, procrastinating getting ready for our agency holiday party, I was pressing on my stomach just below my belly button where I *think* my uterus is currently located (because it's a little bit hard there). And then, I felt it! A tiny little kick! I yelled to Ben, "Oh my gosh! Come here and feel this!" just in time to realize it was my own heartbeat.

Real cool, dummy.

Ah well, I'm sure it won't be long before we feel a *real* kick. Can't wait!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Speak now or forever hold your piece

Which could also be called, get out now, while you still can!

What I'm trying to say is, from this point forward, I reserve the right to blog about any portion of this pregnancy that I deem fit to share with my 16 (sigh) followers. Now, I am not necessarily a massive over-sharer, so you shouldn't be too worried, but I just wanted to put it out there in case anyone is offended by ultrasound pictures, morning (read: all-day) sickness, etc. This also means that I'll be very open if anyone wants to ask questions ... without trying to scare you off from ever having children.

Now then, onto the fun stuff! 

The basics

  • I'm currently 13 weeks, 2 days along - in non-parent terms, that relates to about 3.5 months
  • I've just started my 2nd trimester ... still waiting for the symptoms of the 1st trimester to ease up
  • I have, in fact, been sick. For eight weeks now. But I'm not losing weight and the baby is healthy!
  • We are, of course, thrilled. And yes, this was an "anticipated" pregnancy 
    • Side note: why does everyone ask, "Is Ben excited?" - of course he is. What do you expect me to say, "Oh, he's just hoping it's his..." C'mon people
    • Another side note: When did it become appropriate to ask someone if their newly announced pregnancy was planned? Personally, I think that's awkward
  • We are planning to find out the baby's gender, hopefully sometime next month
  • My due date is June 19, 2012 - the day after my sister's birthday

So YAY! Little Baby Eckerson, which I have fondly been referring to as either "Junebug" or "Bacon" will be here before we know it and I'm so excited to share the journey with you gals

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Coming Soon...

You might remember, a few months ago, when I posted that 26 was a big year for me. It was, I still feel that way - strongly even. It was the year of a lot of changes in our lives, and it was a year of a lot of blessings as well. I am so grateful for 26 - for the trials and triumphs we experienced.

But y'all? I think I might be even more grateful for 27...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Recipe: SPICY Chicken Pasta

Ben & I both followed our first bite with a "woah!" but that didn't stop me from chowing down until my eyes were watering, chugging a bottle of water, then going to town again. I have a sensitive palette, so I'm not a huge fan of spicy, but certain flavors are just so good that I can deal with it (wasabi being my absolute favorite). In this particular recipe, it's roasted red pepper flakes that really "kick it up a notch" (I've never actually watched Emeril, but I hear that's something he likes to say). I cut the original recipe in half and it still had a good kick. Also, it's TONS of food. I recommend halving it and freezing - because I'm trying to do that now.

Giving credit where credit is due: Discovered here and inspired by this.


  • 1/8 cup oil
  • 1.5 tsp crushed red pepper (original recipe called for 1/2 tbsp if you REALLY love spicy)
  • 1/8 tsp each salt & pepper
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 lg chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 1/4 cup vodka sauce (or you can mix 3/4 cup marinara & 1/2 cup alfredo)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1 lb rigatoni or ziti pasta
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes for garnish (optional)


1. Cook pasta according to directions on box.
2. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat.
3. Add crushed red pepper, salt, black pepper & garlic. Saute long enough for garlice to brown.
4. Add chicken and saute briefly to coat chicken in spices and garlic, until chicken is no longer pink.
5. Add vodka sauce (or marinara / alfredo) and bring to a simmer. Cook until sauce has thickened slightly and chicken is cooked through.

6. Turn off heat. Add peas & butter. Stir until butter is melted completely.
7. Drain pasta, add into pan with sauce, chicken & vegetables. Toss to coat.
8. Garnish with red pepper (optional) and a tiny bit of parmesan cheese

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Recipe: Mexican Pizza

Found this recipe on Pinterest, duh, courtesy of All Recipes, which is one of my favorite iPhone apps. It's free, download it now. Their dinner spinner is really fun! Anyway, fell in love, because I have a weakness for Taco Bell (I know it's gross, you don't have to tell me) and immediately made it for dinner. Good grief. It's GOOD y'all.


  • 1/3 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 can (16 ounce) fat-free refried beans
  • 4 (10 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 2 cups Mexican-blend shredded cheese
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeno peppers
  • 1/4 cup fat free sour cream (optional) ... yeah right.


1. Preheat the oven to 350. Coat 2 pie plates with non-stick cooking spray - round cake pans will work if you only have one pie pan!
2, Place ground turkey, onion and garlic in a skillet over medium heat. Cook until beef is evenly browned. Season the meat with chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper.
3. Lay one tortilla in each pie plate, and cover with a layer of refried beans. Spread half of the seasoned ground beef over each one, and then cover with a second tortilla. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. 
4. Remove the plates from the oven, and let cool slightly. Spread half of the salsa over each top tortilla. Cover each pizza with half of the Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses. Place half of the tomatoes, half of the green onions, and half of the jalapeno slices onto each one.
5. Return the pizzas to the oven, and bake for 10 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven, and let cool slightly.

6. Slice each one into 4 pieces with a pizza cutter. Top with dollop of sour cream.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Recipe: Jalapeno Poppers

Y'all? I have been so. freakin. lazy in November. It's pathetic. Easy dinners, no crafting, no weddings so no gifts to make ... I mean, man oh man. I wouldn't be surprised if you all stopped following me by now.

What's that? There's still a few of you out there? Oh thank gooooooodnesssssssss!

Well, as a gift for your patience, here is a fun new happy-tizer recipe: jalapeno poppers. Yes, from scratch (well, scratch-ish. They're not frozen at least!). Yes, another pinterest find, from a blog called "From the Aisle to Aloha" (an east coast girl transplanted to Hawaii because of her husband's job ... sounds like a rough life, right?). I made them for our McKinney potluck today and, since they were long gone by the time I got through the line, I'd say they were a hit!


  • (2) cans crescent rolls
  • (1) 8 oz package neufchatel cheese
  • (4) fresh jalapenos
  • (1) package bacon*

*bacon is optional. but who doesn't love bacon?


  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Lay out the crescent rolls  and cut each one in half (should have 32 16 pieces once they're cut)
  3. Slice in half, then de-seed the jalapenos. Then cut them into bite size pieces (should be about 5 slices in a half of a pepper, so 40 slices total)
  4. Cut bacon into bite size pieces and fry (cut slightly larger than you think you might need, because the bacon will shrink up a lot)
  5. Place dollop of cream cheese (neufchatel cheese), jalapeno slice and bacon piece on the larger end of a crescent half (see photo)
  6. Roll the rest of the crescent together, gathering the sides to prevent anything from seeping out while cooking
  7. Repeat with all 31 of the remaining crescent halves
  8. Place the rolled up crescent pockets on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes

Step 5
Hooray! Healthy alternative to a bar-food favorite. And "not too spicy" according to the hus.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Haven't Posted in Awhile

We've had stuff going on every night this week (at least it feels that way) so I have no updates for recipes or crafts for y'all. Sad, I know. However, I plan to remedy that this weekend.

Ben's headed to the NC State / Carolina game tomorrow and the Steelers / Ravens game on Sunday (yes, that's in Pittsburgh) so MY weekend will be filled with cleaning, laundry, shopping, cooking and crafting. Here's hoping, anyway.

I'm really trying to motivate myself to get a few pins done that have been hanging out on my boards for too long. Here are a few of my favorites that are on the to-do list:

What are your weekend plans, bloggies? Any fun craft or recipe suggestions for me?

Monday, October 31, 2011

My first blog award

I check my blog roll religiously a few times throughout the day, and I was thrilled / honored to have been selected as one of Fran's Liebster Blogs.
The Liebster Blog Award is given to an up and coming blogger who has less than 200 followers. 

Liebster is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.To keep this award going, pass the award along to 5 other new deserving bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

The rules for the Liebster Blog Award are:
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love, too!

So I'll start with a huge THANKS to Fran over at The Jenkins Family. Fran was a friend of mine in college whom I very much looked up to, and really still do - I mean, look at her beautiful family!

And now, without further ado, my top five picks (in no particular order):

Leslie at Diary of a Southern Drama Queen 
While we've never actually met, Leslie is my kindred spirit. She's the friend of a friend, and we tweet, facebook & blog with each other. Such a sweet, southern beauty! Her blog lets her relationship with Christ shine through without being preachy, which I just love. 

Page at It's Marvelous
She & her husband Andrew just welcomed their first born, an adorable baby boy named Jack, so she doesn't really look like that anymore, but you get the drift. Page is inspiring and real. She has a lot of grace in her writing and it reminds me to pray, read scripture, and breathe.

Brett at The Bakery
Another writer I've never actually met, Brett is married to an old childhood friend, Nathaniel. She's a beautiful girl, so smart, and her writing is vulnerable and beautiful. Few blogs move me to comment like her's does. 

Rebekah at There Goes the Neighborhood
Becky & I went to church together growing up and I recently started following her blog. I have to say she may be my favorite writer ever. She's snarky without being cynical, wise without being judgmental, and has a beautiful outlook on the world. I can't get enough.

Caroline at Clumsy Crafty Happy
Sweet little Caroline used to work with us at McKinney (briefly) but moved back to FL to be with her love. She is, in a word, hilarious. But you should follow her - if nothing else - for her amazing crafts. Oh, and pin her boards on pinterest. She has amazing taste.

So there you have it! If you were one of my "lucky" top five ... CONGRATS! Just kidding ... kind-of. And please pass the love along - who doesn't like to be loved on a little bit?

PS - I will try to add the award to my blog, but ... as you may have noticed ... I'm not so good with the HTML / formatting / design stuff. I leave that to my oh-so-talented hus!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Recipe: Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Each year we have this great potluck at McKinney (the advertising agency where Ben & I work) to support one of our co-workers. His daughter has a prosthetic leg, and is very active with the Challenged Athletes Foundation, an awesome organization that helps people with disabilities participate in athletic events. Coincidentally, Ben's cousin Alex also has a prosthetic leg and is very active with CAF - Alex, "Papa Bud" (Ben's grandfather) and Brenna (Ben's sister) competed a triathlon last year in San Diego before Papa passed away.

ANYWAY, Megan Wade made these amazing peanut butter chocolate bars for said potluck, and I begged her for the recipe but never got around to making them. Until, of course, I saw them on Pinterest. So thanks Glen & Elena, the reason behind the potluck, and thanks Megan, for bringing them to the potluck, and thanks The Girl Who Ate Everything for Megan's inspiration.


  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (do NOT use store brand, trust me on this one)
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 325
  2. Combine cake mix, melted butter, peanut butter and eggs in a large bowl with a hand mixer
  3. Press the mixture into a 9x13 pan, reserving 1.5 cups to crumble on top later (ATTENTION: that says 1 and 1/2 cup. Not 1/2 cup. Don't make that mistake)
  4. In a small pot, melt chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and butter (don't stop stirring until it's totally melted)
  5. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in vanilla
  6. Spread chocolate mixture over peanut butter mixture in pan
  7. Crumble the 1.5 cups of reserve peanut butter mixture on top, evenly
  8. Bake for 20 minutes
  9. Cool COMPLETELY before cutting into bars
  10. Put on a pair of stretchy pants and call it a day

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Craft Corner: Aubrey's Wedding Gift

I started to post this last week, then remembered that Other Aubrey follows me and I didn't want to ruin the surprise! I made this invitation ornament based on an idea from - you guessed it - pinterest.

The photo was originally pinned by ...from glitter to gumdrops and there's a lot of sweet ideas on there. And they're simple. Y'all know how I need love simple.

So here you have it:

What You'll Need

  • Round, Glass Ornaments that have a removable top (available at Michael's in a 4-pack)
  • The Invitation in question (could be wedding, baby shower, anything!)
  • Scissors
  • Coordinating Ribbon
  • Round Straight Pen

What You'll Do

  1. Remove the top of the Ornament
  2. Cut the invitation into strips; I used each line of the invite as a strip
  3. Curl each strip around the pen
  4. Gently "shove" them into the small hole in the ornament, taking care for special words (their names, the date, etc) to show on the outside glass; you can use the pen to move them around if necessary
  5. Replace the top
  6. Tie a coordinating ribbon through the top of the ornament to hang it and include coordinating charms on ribbon (optional)

Ta Da!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Recipe: Skinny Taco Dip

Yup - Another Pinterest find. After YET ANOTHER weekend of traveling, I was needing some fresh veggies. This dip is a delicious combination of yummy, colorful, healthy vegetables and quasi comfort food. And it's not TOO bad for you ... unless, of course, you eat half the dish like I did. Thanks to for the inspiration on this one!

Also, I halved the recipe, but if you're serving more than 5-6 people, don't!


  • 8 oz fat free sour cream
  • 8 oz 1/3 fat cream cheese (Neufchatel cheese)
  • 16 oz mild salsa
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 2 cups iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 2 avocados, peeled & diced
  • 1 cup skim cheddar cheese
  • 2.5 oz sliced black olives


  1. Mix sour cream, cream cheese, salsa & seasoning in a medium bowl with hand mixer
  2. Spread on the bottom of a large glass dish - 8x12 or 9x13 should do the trick
  3. Layer lettuce, then tomatoes, then avocados, then cheese, then olives
  4. Serve with baked tortilla chips

Step 3
Step 1 - 2

Thursday, October 20, 2011


It's this running joke, between Tyler, Ben, Brenna and myself. There's some girl they went to high school with, who posts hilarious Facebook statuses (stati?) which are not meant to be ironic, but are. Example: My daughter just ate all her broccoli, I AM SO BLESSED! It never ceases to amuse the group when one of us follows up an otherwise inane statement with "I AM SO BLESSSSSSSED!!!!!"

But I just have to tell y'all ... I am. SO blessed.

My husband still gives me butterflies and makes me blush when he kisses me, just like he did six years ago.

 October 2005                                                                            October 2011

Apologies for the double-post, but today was just one of those days, and these thoughts were just too long for Twitter.

Recipe: Kelly's Black Bean Burgers

My best friend Kelly is an awesome *and healthy* cook. When I visit her in Greenville, SC she spoils me with deliciousness and it's so lovely to be cooked for, for a change! Several months ago she made black bean burgers for dinner when I arrived and they. were. amazing! I love black bean burgers already (a discovery I made when I gave up meat for Lent a few years ago), but these have a spicy kick to them that makes them even more delicious. And easy!!

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded & diced (I used a couple slices from a jar, but fresh is better)
  • 1 garlic glove, minced (I used three!)
  • 2 14oz cans black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1/3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I'd cut back to 1/3 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (I'd also cut this back to 1/3 tsp - mine were just a tad spicy)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (I used dried cilantro, 1-2 tbsp)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 4 hamburger buns


  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in large saute pan over medium heat
  2. Add onions and cook, taking care not to brown them, until soft, fragrant and translucent (about 8 minutes)
  3. Stir in garlic and jalapeno, saute for 2 minutes
  4. Meanwhile, pour beans, bread crumbs, spices and cilantro into large mixing bowl
  5. Add onion, garlic, jalapeno mixture
  6. Using your hands, mash and crush the beans until paste-like
  7. Form mixture into 4 patties (this makes for HUGE burgers. you may be able to get away with 5 patties)
  8. Heat 3 tbsp oil in same saute pan over medium-high heat until simmering
  9. Cook burgers until outsides are crisp and slightly browned, turning once (about 4-5 minutes on each side)
  10. Serve on hamburger buns (I topped with guacamole & provolone cheese)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Craft Corner: Hand Painted Wine Glasses

It's a general consensus that Whitney over at The Pink Elephant must never sleep. Somehow, between working 75-hour weeks, hitting the gym, and attending 34 weddings a year, she finds time to craft, paint, cook, create, refurbish and dress up her little dog Olivia in hilarious costumes. I don't know how she does it!

But, lucky for us, she shares her secrets. And lucky for me, I'm a pretty good copy-cat. So here you have Whitney-inspired hand-painted wine glasses, that I made as my secret seashell gift for other Aubrey.

What You'll Need

  • (4) Wine Glasses (I got mine from the dollar store!)
  • Glass Paint & Sealant (available at A.C.Moore)
  • Thin Paint Brush
  • Print out of monogram you wish to paint

  1. Tape the monogram inside the wine glass, with the letters facing out toward you
  2. Using the print-out as a stencil, paint with your desired color of glass paint
  3. Let dry for recommended period (I think it's probably overnight, but the paint should say)
  4. Repaint with sealant
  5. Let dry for 10 days

Whitney used these as a bridal shower favor, mine was a gift for a friend who's about to get married ... either way, it's an inexpensive yet thoughtful - and useful - gift!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Craft Corner: Tressa's Wedding Gift

We spent our 4th anniversary in beautiful Savannah, GA and then headed up north to Hilton Head, SC for my dear friend Tressa's wedding. The whole thing was a blast, but unfortunately my camera was dead when we got there, so photos are limited. Luckily, Tressa hired an amazing photographer (also, our friend Abby's husband) and here's one of my favorite shots that he's posted so far:

More to come on the trip & the wedding, but I wanted to share this gift, as I'm very proud of it and I'm just certain Tressa will love it. She's a travel guru and when I found these prints on pinterest, I just had to do something with them.

So, 3 antique-y ribbon frames + 3 Michael's 40% off coupons later ... here's the result. Ignore the poor picture quality from my sad little iPhone 3G.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Craft Corner: Wine Cork Monogram

Even before I knew it, I loved pinterest. I had girlfriends send me photos, ideas, recipes, etc. from there all the time. The Wine Cork Monogram I made for Aubrey is a perfect example.

Before we go any further, I should mention, in case I haven't already, that yes - my name is Aubrey. And yes, this is a relatively unusual name, especially for women, and especially for women of my general age range. And yes, one of my best friends from age 15 until present is also named Aubrey.

Now then, back to the Wine Cork Monogram. This was a gift from me to other Aubrey for homemade Secret Seashell. And I think it's a-dor-a-ble (and so is other Aubrey) and so easy to make. 

What You'll Need:
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Print-out of letter(s) you wish to make
  • Glue Gun + Glue Sticks
  • A Shit Ton Lot of Wine Corks
  • Picture hanger, available at any craft store
sawtooth picture hanger, should come with 2 nails
  1. Cut the cardboard to fit the template of the letter you want. Hint: The thinnest part of the letter should be slightly thinner than a wine cork, so the cardboard doesn't show.
  2. Place the corks to ensure you have enough
  3. Fire up your hot glue gun and get to work!
  4. Once complete, place a heavy book or other flat object on top to ensure they're drying flush to the cardboard
  5. After they're totally dry (shouldn't take more than 15-20 minutes but you can leave for a few hours just to be sure), nail in the picture hanger to the back
Again, I must give credit to The Elephant's Trunk, the blog that originated the idea for me, put in my field of knowing by Caroline. Also, to Sara Cobaugh who supplied 99% of the wine corks.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Recipe: Chicken Enchilada Soup

Happy Monday, bloggies! I'm up to 10 followers, though I think 1 of those is a duplicate but I'll take it anyway, and I think that warrants a celebration! Pathetic, I know, don't care.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I discovered pinterest. And y'all?


I know, this was news to you guys like 2 years ago, but bear with me. One of my favorite boards is the one I've titled "Foodie <3". I will never be the girl who can make food look like it jumped out of an issue of Real Simple, but I can make it taste good. I'm not the perfectly sliced meat, garnish on the white plate, clean counter kind of cook. I'm the hearty, down-home, casseroles and crockpots and lots of cheese kinda cook. And that is exactly the kind of cook I want to be.

Now, from this lovely board, I found this recipe and as per usual, made it my own.


  • 2 frozen chicken breasts
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can rotel tomatoes (diced tomatoes + chiles)
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 slices of jalapeno peppers (I buy mine in a jar)
  • 6 oz cubed velveeta cheese
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • Tortilla chips or strips
  • Sour cream (optional)


  1. Dump everything (except cheese, chips & sour cream) in the crockpot
  2. Turn it on high for 4-6 hours
  3. Break apart the chicken (should shred easily) with a spoon or fork once it's cooked
  4. Add cheeses and some tortilla chips and let melt / dissolve for about 30 minutes
  5. Spoon into a giant bowl, top with some tortilla chips and a dollop of sour cream
  6. Hibernate

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I have never loved you more

I was starving, craving tacos, yawning incessantly, and sick at the thought of eating leftover meatballs for lunch and then - like my own personal food angel - my husband-of-almost-four-years just brought me this:
And I thought "I have never loved you more than I do right now." But then came a wave of guilt: Is it terrible for the love I have for my husband to increase based on something so superficial as this amazing meal and a brownie and a coke zero? Shouldn't I have an unconditional love for him, as Christ calls us to love?

The answer, of course is yes.

But the answer, to whether or not I've ever loved him more than that moment, is no.

After almost-four-years of marriage, and thirteen months of engagement, and a year of serious dating and a year of talking before that ... I have never loved my husband more. My strongest prayer today, and should always be, that I never stop loving him more than the day before.

I'm a lucky girl. And I love you, B.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"cuz I'm a grown-up"

my dad didn't have to give reasons for the things he did - why should he have to answer to his offspring? - but, as many children are, i was inquisitive. and a control-freak. who, me? a control-freak? i know, this is very hard to believe.

padge's* answers varied depending on the context. some examples:

  • "where are we going?" / "crazy, wanna come?"
  • "what are you doing?" / "nunya" (short for nunya bizness)

... you get the idea.

for whatever reason, there's one that i've held onto in my adult life

"cuz i'm a grown-up." 

which, to me, now means 

"i've survived for multiple decades and i can do what i want" 

i have a few favorite situations for use of this phrase:

  • eating chocolate cake for breakfast
  • buying a new dress even though i already have a closet full
  • having dessert before dinner

sometimes, like on mornings when i hear country songs about sweet little babies, i think that i really am a grown-up and i could handle things like, oh-i-don't-know, producing offspring of my own. but then i begin to second-guess my effectiveness at bearing and caring for a tiny human when i do something like, oh-i-don't-know, drinking until 1am on a wednesday night

just cuz i'm a grown-up

*sidenote: i call my father padge. i have since i was 13, when i started taking spanish and began incorporating the few words i knew into my daily speech. "madre" and "padre" got shortened to "madge" and "padge and for whatever reason, padge stuck. he loves it, seriously.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Recipe: Cracker Barrel* Hashbrown Casserole

*I think  this is the Cracker Barrel recipe. It's at least close. And according to Elizabeth Brown, it's even better than Cracker Barrel's. I'll take it.

This might be the easiest recipe I've ever made. I feel bad to even call it a recipe. The only prep is chopping half an onion. WHAT?! Yes.


  • 2 lbs frozen hashbrowns (don't thaw them)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter or margarine (hint: this is one stick)
  • 1 can fat free cream of chicken soup (the 10ish ounce one)
  • 1 pint sour cream (who knows how much a pint is?! i do. it's 16 ounces. you're welcome)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (about half of a medium sized onion)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (the normal size bags)
  • 1 tsp each salt & pepper (really, as much or as little as you want)
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl
  2. Spread the mixture in a greased 9"x13" pan
    (I use Pam Butter Spray)
  3. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes
The remnants. Yum!

Monday, September 12, 2011

ten years and a day later

friend posted on twitter today: 

"May we never forget a decade ago yesterday, but may we also be the nation of September 12." 

i love this for so many reasons, but i'm only going to share one of them. 

september 11, 2001 was exactly one week after i started my senior year at stonewall jackson high school, located just 32 miles southwest of the pentagon. 

it's funny what i remember about that day. 

i drove my sister to school, only 2 minutes from our house, in my green eagle talon and parked in the "vip" senior class officer parking in time for the start of our day at around 7:30am. i couldn't tell you who my homeroom teacher was, or what class i had first, but i know that i headed to mrs. boley's concert choir - my favorite class that year - with some of my best friends at around 8:45. i remember identical twins alyssa & lucretia dollarhyde, who had graduated the year before, came back to visit mrs. boley as the class started. i remember thinking something must be horribly wrong when they pulled her into the office and all three came out moments later with tears in their eyes. i remember the way she screamed at all 90 of us to be silent as our principal, dr. constantino, came over the announcements to tell his 2200+ students what happened in new york city just minutes before. 

i remember the horror in his voice.

mrs. boley pulled the great big box tv, on a wheeled cart, out in front of the classroom and we watched as the second plane hit. i honestly can't remember if i cried, or if i hugged a classmate, or if i just sat in terrified silence. but i remember when we found out the plane hit the pentagon. i remember a junior named julie who sat behind me and collapsed into sobs of anguish as she wondered whether she'd ever see her dad again.

the next few hours were a blur. i remember hugging my sister, who was a freshman, when we finally saw each other in the cafeteria. there were hoards of security guards and police officers (we normally only had a few) lining the walls as they put the school on lock-down for fear of additional attacks. parents were flooding the school to take their kids home, and tearful embraces filled the halls. i remember that we weren't allowed to have cell phones in the building, but those of us who sneaked them in our backpacks were met with busy signals and dropped calls. i remember squeezing my friend kat evans so tightly as she cried. her father also worked in the pentagon; since her mother had left them to move back to Korea earlier that year, they were extremely close and she hadn't been able to get a hold of him.

i remember my last class of the day was english, and we were told to write in our journals about our feelings. it was silent in the classroom, and throughout the halls. i can't remember a single word i wrote down, but i remember my teacher was just out of college and i thought he must be absolutely terrified. they declared northern virginia a state of emergency and canceled school for the next few days. the typical excitement that would've accompanied that kind of closure was replaced by a somber tone as we all headed home to our families. without even asking, my friends started to gather in my living room one by one. we sat, holding each other, spilling onto the floor, silently watching the news. we watched president bush promise that "they" would pay, and we believed him, but wondered at what cost.

it was late into the evening before kat finally heard from her dad. he was safe, but trapped in his office, which was only one hall over from being destroyed by American Airlines Flight 77. we drove as far into dc as we could and then waited for him as he walked something like 8 miles to get to us. i remember how scared we both were, as 17 and 18 year olds, when he told us that we'd likely see a draft reinstated.

i can't remember what time i went to bed that night, or who stayed at our house, but i remember waking up on september 12, and finding my mom already planted in front of the television. and i remember watching president bush again addressing the nation, but with such a different tone. one that inspired us to band together, take care of each other, make ourselves stronger. one that reminded us what makes our nation so great. one that promised we'd overcome. i remember thinking "what a difference a day makes." it was sunny, calm weather on that first day of rebuilding, of trying to get things back to "normal", or - more aptly - of trying to redefine normal. the fear was still there, but it was being overcome by pride, and passion, and vengeance. we had september 11 to cry and mourn, but september 12 was about reclaiming our nation.

i hope we always remember the lives lost on september 11. but i hope we maintain the spirit of september 12.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

you are STRONGER than you seem

... which could also be called:

the one where I admit I have no idea what's going on

Either of my parents would tell you I came out of the womb headstrong, confident and demanding. My mother was in hard labor with all 9 lbs of me for 24 hours with no drugs - I just didn't feel like coming out yet. I cried if someone other than my mother held me, which they labeled as colic - I just wanted to be with my mom. The point is, I know what I want, and always have. I can remember, as a slightly older child, telling my parents I needed a drink. "Do you NEED it, or do you WANT it?", my father would ask. Hmm: I'm not dehydrated. I'm not in a desert. I don't have to swallow a pill. "I guess I want it." But I got the drink anyway, so I never broke the habit of confusing my wants with needs.

What I'm trying to get at is this: our wants often become so desperate (at least in our minds), we think we need the thing in question. But more times than not, we don't need it. So if I don't need that pair of shoes or a second brownie or a new car (I could go on and on), what do I need? I've come to realize recently

I don't know

That revelation is so scary, as someone who has maintained the "I can take care of myself" attitude so confidently for many years. The admission that I don't know what's going on in my life, in my head, in my body. And then, a moment later, it's not scary. Because the more I find I don't know what I need, the more I find God does. Which is pretty cool, right? 

Yes. It is cool.

A lot of this goes back to the control thing. I'm a Type A personality (or as my best friend Kelly likes to call it, "crazy") and that's basically just a nice way of saying I'm a control freak. I should have a warning label, but this will have to do. In my aforementioned 26 has been a big year note, I should've included the mention that giving up control has been one of the things I've been trying to accomplish, and that can be directly correlated to giving that control to God. I mean, as long as somebody's got a handle on my life, I guess that's ok, right?

Right. It is ok.

The long and the short of it (mostly long, at this point) is this: 
God knows what I need. 
I do not. 
I need to stop pretending that I do. 
I need to start understanding that, if He thinks I need it, I do.
And if He thinks I need it, He'll give me the strength to get through it.

Which is awesome.

So while I might whine or get frustrated or even cry over this lack of understanding what's happened or where I'm headed or what's going to come my way, I'm really focusing to remember the positive, and that is that - whatever it is - I can handle it. And I made THIS to remind myself. I just have to figure out where I'm going to hang it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Recipe: Italian Meatballs

which could also be called "a quasi-italian girl's meatballs"

Several months ago, I saw that a friend's husband had made homemade meatball subs. I thought "I'm part Italian. I am going to Italy soon. I can do this" (again, this was several months ago). So I sat down and I did it. And GUESS WHAT! My father-in-law, who grew up in western Pennsylvania where every woman makes her own meatballs, liked them. Genuinely liked them, even after he found out they were made with ground turkey. If that's not a seal of approval, I don't know what is.

Some friends we had over for dinner a few months later enjoyed them, too. And Ben & I enjoyed them. So, you could say, the meatballs were a great success. In fact, such a success, I swore I wouldn't buy the frozen ones anymore because these homemade babies were soooo much better. 

And that lasted about a month.

But I made them again last night for a potluck at work today to celebrate a co-worker who's having a baby, and they're just as good as I remembered. They're not as pretty as the frozen ones, but they're so much better.

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp parmesan
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper (to taste, about 1 tsp each)
Meat Goo, Gross!
  1. Saute onions in small pan with a little bit of cooking spray until translucent
  2. Mix milk & breadcrumbs in a small bowl, let stand for 20 minutes
  3. Combine turkey & beef in a large bowl
  4. Add eggs, parsley, cooked onion, garlic, parmesan, olive oil, garlic, italian seasoning, cayenne, salt & pepper (I normally add a few ingredients, then mix it all together, then add a few more and so on; makes it easier to get everything combined)
  5. Stir in breadcrumb / milk mixture
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 20 minutes or refrigerate for 1 hr
  7. Cover two cookie sheets with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray
  8. Preheat oven to 425
  9. If you have a small ice cream scoop, use that to ball the meatballs. Otherwise, keep a glass of cold water handy to dip your hand in and begin balling the meat - should be about golf ball size
  10. Line the meatballs 6 rows of 5 (I was able to make exactly 60 from this batch, but I make mine small
    An Army of Meatballs! Oh No!
  11. Bake 20 minutes - there will be some nasty looking greasy stuff on the pan, I normally wipe that off the meatballs with a paper towel but I'm sure it doesn't really matter
  12. You can either add immediately to a sauce pan with tomato sauce, or freeze for later use. OR, do what I do, throw them in the crock pot on low or warm for a few hours
Ta Da! Nom Nom Nom

Monday, August 29, 2011

Craft Corner: Baby Alphabet Book

Not so much a craft as it is a project, but still, a little DIY action never hurt nobody.

Something you should know about me: My design-minded friends be damned, I use the heck out of some Microsoft Publisher.

It started with a welcome banner for my assistant, which evolved into a variety of banner types for every occasion: bridal showers, bachelorette parties, birthdays, baby showers (and births) ... even a welcome-home-dog-who-ran-away banner. I am the go-to girl for party decorations in our department, a title I take very seriously and may be featured on the next iteration of my resume.

But I digress, this post is about the Baby Alphabet Book project we did for Grace's shower. It was specifically requested by the DIY queen herself, Leslie, and I'm happy to make anyone's "job" easier by sharing the documents I already created. Of course, feel free to adapt these templates with font changes or sizes to fit your needs.

What You'll Need:

  • Scrapbook (preferably not the 12x12 books, as that will be a challenge to print)
  • Printer
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • 26 Sheets White Paper (color copy paper is slightly thicker)
  • Art Supplies: Markers, Crayons, Stickers, Stamps, etc.
  • Scissors or Paper Cutter (I have one from scrapbooking) 
  • This Template

So easy, and stuff you already have (minus maybe the scrapbook, I used a pink 8x8 book from Michael's for this baby girl with a 40% off coupon). Just print the sheets, cut them to the size of your book, and let the guests expose their hidden talents. Make sure you ask all the artists to sign the back of their page so Mom can tell Baby who made each letter, and TA DA! you have a personal record of all the shower attendees that will be enjoyed by Mom and Baby alike.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Recipe: Taco Bowls

Another Andrea Shipman-inspired recipe, courtesy of Budget Bytes. It couldn't be an easier recipe - seriously, no prep whatsoever. And the ingredients are probably all things you have in your fridge already!


  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (mine were frozen!)
  • 8 oz frozen corn (if you like corn, you can use the whole 16 oz bag)
  • 1 can black beans, drained (again, if you like black beans, use two cans)
  • 1 jar salsa (I only had a half jar, so I supplemented with a can of Rotel tomatoes & chiles)
  • 1 tbsp each: chili powder, cumin, garlic powder (hint: buy the cumin in a large jar from the ethnic section for major savings. it's one of my favorite spices)
  • 1/4 tsp each: oregano, cayenne pepper, salt & pepper
  • Rice (as you may know, I use boil-in-bag)
  • Optional: Shredded Cheddar, Fat Free Sour Cream, Fresh Cilantro - I used dried because I didn't have any fresh cilantro!

  1. Place everything in a crockpot (except rice, cheese, sour cream, cilantro)
  2. Set on high for 8 hrs
  3. 10 minutes before it's finished, cook rice to directions on bag
  4. Use spoon or fork to shred chicken in crockpot (should be very easy to shred)
  5. Top rice with chicken mixture, cheese, sour cream and cilantro

You can also use the leftovers (this recipe makes a lot!) as tacos - just fill a flour tortilla instead of topping the rice. Lunches for a week, you're welcome.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My first baby shower

(I should note here that this is my first time co-hosting a baby shower, not having one thrown for me. don't get ahead of yourselves, people)

Way back in February, Grace told me she was 10 weeks pregnant. That exact day, we began planning her baby shower. There were excited whispers and emails among our tiny supper club of "we're going to have a baby!" (which Grace loved, by the way, and often responded with "are YOU going to push it out of YOUR vagina?!"). There were tears when she walked off the elevator one spring day with a pink dress on (yes, she color-coded her wardrobe on the day they found out the baby's sex). There have been multiple planning lunches to discuss the finer details of this shower.

And then it was finally here.

We thought we were prepared. We had shopped, spent, crafted, cut, baked, printed and invited. We had activities and games planned, a menu set, decorations made. And somehow we STILL were running around like chickens with our heads cut off the day of. 

Chickens who had frilly pink bathing suits to hang and green whimsical birds to cut out and cakes to ice and punch to make. 

Chickens who had so much fun planning a special day for such a sweet sweet mommy-to-be.
The co-hosts started out just me and Melati. Then sweet Sloan volunteered her house for the event, and she was usurped into our planning committee - and thank goodness she was! She made (MADE?!) these amazing cupcakes and the cake.

We really did have a lovely time planning and executing the shower, and were so excited to see 20 beautiful guests arrive to celebrate Grace and Baby Tarrant.

Beyond the amazing cake & cupcakes, some of my favorite touches included...

two punch varieties I made: "Knocked Up" (non-alcoholic) and "Knocked Out"  (alcoholic). Delicious and adorable!

... Creating an alphabet book for the baby, with each guest coloring a letter

... Utilizing Sloan's boys' easel to welcome and greet the guests

...  "Baby Bingo" to engage the guests while Grace opened all her adorable miniature gifts for Baby T. Lisa won a fabulous hot pink clutch, if I do say so myself ;)

Be on the lookout for a recipe post soon to surround the punches, veggie pizza, fruit tarts and other highlights from the menu. Also, happy to share any of my templates for decorations, signs, games, etc. 

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the gorgeous invitations, designed by Emily Forsberg (seen above on far left). She's a rockstar!