Sunday, September 30, 2012

My 14-day Crock Pot Challenge

Call me crazy, but I'm challenging myself to a new test.  I want to see if I can use my crock pot for 14 straight days.  One meal or snack a day will be made from the slow cooker.  Tomorrow, October 1, will be my first day. Some of the meals will give us a ton of leftovers, especially when there are just two of us eating together, but that should cover our lunches for half the month, too.

We did our grocery shopping this evening so that we have everything we need in-house.  I realized that I missed some ingredients for two of the meals, so those are going towards the end of the challenge so I have time to get back to Publix.  For the 12 meals I did shop for, we spent $140.  The ingredients I'm missing for the other two meals should come to about $10 total so it's safe to say that I will have 14 days of meals for $150.  I'm sure if we had shopped coupons and based meals on what was on sale we could have cut that down a little bit, but at close to $10 a day with a ton of leftovers, I'm not upset about it.  We also bought a few extra things while at the store, so it should take us even further than two weeks.  

Tonight I will cut and prep for meal #1 and I'll throw everything into the crock pot in the morning.  We'll have dinner as soon as we get home.  Hopefully, this will help us kick start our motivation to start working out again.  

To make sure that I wasn't running to Publix every evening or quitting the challenge mid-way through I made my list of meals.  Most are from recipes I found on the Internet, some are from a cookbook I have at home: Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook, Feasting with your Slow Cooker.

Source: Amazon
Here they are, if the recipe is online, I've included the link so you can follow along at home.  I'll blog about the experience along the way and I'll make my notes about the recipes at that time.  
  1. Absent Cook Stew, book page 28
  2. Pork Roast with Apples and Sweet Potatoes
  3. Sugared Pecans
  4. Stuffed Green Peppers, book page 123
  5. Applesauce, book page 245
  6. Egg & Broccoli Casserole, cook page 23
  7. Minestrone Soup
  8. Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
  9. Greek Chicken
  10. French Onion Soup
  11. Mac n Cheese
  12. Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup
  13. Lasagna
  14. Overnight Oats
Wish me luck!  Stephen is super excited about all of the food coming his way.  

Atlanta Braves: Chipper Jones Day

Friday, September 28, 2012 was Chipper Jones Tribute night at Turner Field.  The Atlanta Braves were starting their last, regular season home stand against the NY Mets.  If you read this blog, you already know how important the Braves are to our house.  We wouldn't have a house together without the Braves.  We wouldn't have AMAZING wedding pictures from Turner Field.  We love the Braves.

When you think about the Atlanta Braves, you should automatically think of Chipper Jones.  He was the first round draft pick for the Braves 19 seasons ago and has played every game of his professional career in a Braves uniform.  Since joining the team, the Braves have had one World Series win and the Braves organization has had its most success with Chipper on 3rd base and Bobby Cox as the General Manager.  Two seasons ago we said good-bye to Bobby, now were having to say good-bye to Chipper Jones, too.

In March, during Spring Training in Orlando, Chipper Jones announced that the 2012 season would be his last as he fought back tears when he addressed his teammates.  You can tell from the way the players talk about Chipper and the way Chipper talks about his teammates that what he's going to miss most is his time in the clubhouse and the playing field with his team.  

It was a gorgeous night at Turner Field and the stadium was packed.  Over 51,000 fans turned out to see Chipper's final regular season Friday night. (The Braves will play in the Wild Card game next Friday night and hopefully through the end of October.)

Chipper sitting next to Bobby Cox and Hank Aaron
The regular stage was rolled out to the infield before the start of the game for Braves VIP to give their tribute to Chipper Jones.  On hand we had former and current Braves players, Bobby Cox, two of Chipper's kids and his best friend and agent.  

It was great to see Bobby back in Turner Field.  I just hate that it was because we'll be losing our favorite player.

Teams around the league have been honoring Chipper as he comes to their stadiums for the last time.  In each stop he gets a gift from the team.  These have ranged from a year-long supply of sausages from The Brewers to a surfboard from The Padres.  

 The Braves had their own gifts to give Chipper.  The City of Atlanta officially named the day Chipper Jones Day here in Atlanta.  Not too shabby.  The Braves will be giving him bricks from Turner Field in the shape of Home Plate.  Where those bricks were removed from the stadium there is also a plaque to commemorate Chipper.  Because Turner Field has been Chipper's home away from home for so long, the Braves will also be giving him his actual locker from the locker room.  That's pretty darn cool.  When they told him about that he looked pretty excited.

The Mets stood at the edge of the dugout the entire tribute
Brian McCann spoke on behalf of the current Braves players.  I love that guy.  I didn't notice until Brian mentioned it, but all of the Braves players were wearing a sports performance turtleneck shirt under their uniforms Friday night, a tribute to Chipper and what he wears under his uniform everyday.  They ALL hate turtlenecks.  In the locker room they were calling them "nerdelnecks".  HAHAHA.  The Braves players gave Chipper a gift themselves, a brand new pool table.  It looked pretty damn nice.  There was a little plaque on the side of the table noting that the table was a gift from the 2012 Braves Players. 

We love you, too, Chipper.
Chipper addressed the crowed for more than his allotted 4 minutes and was visibly moved by the entire presentation.  He has been the team's leader for so long, he's going to be very missed. 

At the end of the presentation, the staged was rolled off the field and it was time for the teams to take the field.  Chipper is typically the first one out of the dugout and the rest of the team follows.  Friday night the rest of the team stayed in the dugout and let Chipper take the field alone.  He was not aware of this plan.  I was too caught up in the moment to take a picture of him alone on the field but it was pretty amazing.  He noticed he was the only one out there when he was almost to 3rd base. He was so embarrassed.  In the picture above, Chipper was stepping back off the field until the rest of the team came out.  He's in the red uniform shirt.

As a fan of the Braves my entire life, I can't remember a game that didn't have Chipper Jones.  Thanks for all of the memories, Chipper, and let's take this season all the way to the end.  You deserve to hoist the World Series trophy above your head after your final game in a MLB uniform.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

I'm not sure how I came across this website, but I think it was a Facebook post by a friend.  I'm a huge fan of comedy and I think Jerry Seinfeld is a genius.  Enter Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.  Basically it's a series of shows that are released weekly where you join Jerry for coffee and breakfast with one of his comedian friends.  Episodes are released every Thursday, so there is a new one releasing today with Michael Richards, his co-star on Seinfeld.

source: website
Each week he has a new car to drive and he picks up his friend at their home.  Cameras are in the car with them as they drive to the coffee shop/restaurant and a camera crew joins them for their meal.

You can watch all of the videos on the website or you can watch them on Crackle.  We watch on Crackle because it plays through our Roku at home and into our big screen TV.  The downside of watching on Crackle is that we don't get the bonus footage, what they call Spare Parts. They also have a Facebook page that you can like that will link to new videos.

It's so interesting to see Jerry as himself and the interactions he has with his friends.  You can tell that he genuinely likes these people and I love how easy it seems to make him laugh.  Sometimes I find myself laughing at him laughing more than I'm laughing at the joke.

I think my favorite episode so far is when Carl Reiner is his guest and Carl introduces Jerry to Mel Brooks.  You can see how excited Jerry is to meet Mel and it's great to watch these comedic geniuses discuss the business.

There are 9 episodes so far, this week's will be the 10th, and I've watched every one of them.  I'm fascinated.  So far, Jerry has dined with:

  1. Larry David (they worked together on Seinfeld)
  2. Ricky Gervais (one of the funniest car scenes ever)
  3. Brian Regan (freaking hilarious man)
  4. Alec Baldwin (how crazy would it be to see them eating together)
  5. Joel Hodgson (new comedian to me)
  6. Bob Einstein (LOVE him.  I saw him on Arrested Development but didn't know he was so much more than the small part he played)
  7. Barry Marder
  8. Colin Quinn and Mario Joyner (Colin is beyond funny and Mario was a new introduction to me, but I'm a huge fan now)
  9. Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks

Check it out, sit back and laugh a little bit.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Sister, the Model

My sister, Bonnie, and I are very close.  We turn to each other in times of need to talk about stuff we wouldn't tell another soul and we share the good days and bad days with each other.  It's a good thing we have unlimited texting plans and AT&T mobile-to-mobile calling.

A few months ago she told me she was flying out to Albuquerque to visit a friend.  Random place, I thought, but cool trip.  That's really all she told me and I was so caught up in my own life, sad, that I didn't ask too many questions about her trip.  She never made a big deal about the trip, so I didn't make a big deal it them either.

Today, while I was eating my afternoon snack and I had a few minutes to kill at work I decided to stalk Bonnie on facebook.  I got what I expected, some pictures of her with her NYC friends, some wall posts that I don't understand from some friends I've never met and then one post that was curious.

The post is by someone I've never met, but it thanks Bonnie for being a model.  Weird, Bonnie never mentioned she modeled for anyone, so I clicked on the link.  It brought me to a blog post on the blog of photographer Jennifer B Hudson.  I started scrolling down the pictures and all of a sudden I'm looking at my sister.  On that post she's in 10 photographs.  WHAT!?!  I immediately gchatted her and freaked out.  I can't believe she didn't tell me.

Her first picture is the 3rd photo of a girl with the horse, and she has 2 of the 3 pictures with the tee pee.  
I don't want to post any of the pictures here because I don't know the photographer, so please click on the link to see the photos.

The photos are so much more artsy and unique than anything I've ever seen Bonnie do, I can't stop looking at them.  They are such a drastic difference from the tank top and shorts wearing sister that I've known for almost 28 years.

I'm such a proud big sister.

Alma Cocina - Restaurant Review

Dining in Downtown Atlanta hasn't always been an easy thing to do.  Typically when we someone at work who wants to take us out to lunch we end up driving to the Highlands or into Midtown where we have more options and, honestly, better food.  (We do have our favorite 2 or 3 places we can pick from within walking distance of the office, but they get old if those are your only options.)

This is starting to change and in just my two years working smack in the middle of Downtown Atlanta I've seen new dining options come in and take over some of the vacant spaces that dot the streets.  I'm 100% supportive of new restaurants opening downtown.  I'm supportive of anything new coming into our downtown area with the hopes that it becomes much more of a destination.

Logo from Alma Cocina website

A Fifth Group restaurant (love me some South City Kitchen) and my new favorite Mexican restaurant, Alma Cocina, opened earlier in 2012 in the One Ninety One Peachtree Tower, right on Peachtree Street.  It's just a few blocks from the office and the Peachtree Center MARTA station and food court, a great location for foot traffic.  There are also about 5 giant hotels in a 3 block radius so that should help them, too.

We had lunch at Alma Cocina yesterday right in the middle of lunch hour.  It wasn't super packed and our table of 7 didn't have trouble getting seated.  We were also out of there in exactly one hour, a huge bonus, with time spent chatting after the check came.  For those two reasons alone, this will be added to my short list of Downtown Atlanta lunch restaurants.

The staff was very friendly and helped us with a few odd requests on the menu.  There website says they are introducing "Atlanta to a refreshing new approach to contemporary Mexican cuisine" and I couldn't agree more.  The atmosphere isn't your typical Mexican restaurant and you shouldn't expect the menu to have numbered combo meals for $6.  Those restaurants server their purpose, but I always seem to head home with a tummy ache.

Alma Cocina is definitely different - check out the menu.  We started with two orders of the Salsas & Chips Samplers and devoured them.  The salsas were obviously not from a can and the plantain chips with the tortillas were delicious.  For lunch I ordered the Fried Avocado Taquitos which came with two taquitos and black beans and poblano chile rice.  I may have finished my meal before anyone else at the table.  The tortillas was thick and light so they didn't overpower the flavors inside.  I could have eaten the crispy cotija cheese that was between the fried avocado and the tortilla without anything else on the plate.  Everything worked so well together, I've been thinking about the taquitos for about 24 hours now.  I wish I had taken a picture to share, but that's not really appropriate at a business lunch.

Overall, all 7 of us enjoyed our meal, which is a difficult thing to do, especially at a fancy Mexican place, without margaritas (you know, we had to go back to the office and be productive...)

I've stopped in for a cocktail after work a few months back, but never had their food.  I'm sad I waited this long to make it there.

*Alma Cocina did not provide any compensation for this review.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Shutterfly Photo Book

One of the best parts of our wedding reception was the photo booth.  We purchased a deal on Living Social and it turned out to be one of the most memorable parts of the night - especially for our guests.

We paid for a DVD with digital copies of all of the photo booth images from the evening.  We got hard copies of a few of the images, but the DVD was perfect so we can go back to the pictures over and over again.  The night after the wedding we had my family over after dinner to scroll through the pictures and had a big laugh.  Some of our friends are crazy... and our family, too.

I didn't know what we were going to do with all of the photo booth pictures and one of my friends suggested we put them into a photo book.  On many of the photo printing sites available like Shutterfly or Snapfish there is an option to create your own photo book.

Book cover
To create my photo book of the photo booth pictures I used Shutterfly and found the process was super easy. While book making you get to choose your book size, photo layout and all the text in each book you create.

Inside front cover
We chose to make an 8x10 hardcover book.  Because we had so many pictures to choose from we decided to remove any text in the page layouts and focus on just the pictures of our friends.  I think they speak for themselves.  We ended up with 24 pages of photos.

Props are fun

Photo booths are fun, right?  Almost everyone who came to the reception participated in the photo booth.  For those who didn't take any pictures, I've called them out on being party poopers.

I was able to get nearly all of the pictures into the book.  There were some groups of people who took more than 5 sets of pictures, I chose the best pictures from those groups.

Check out the last page of our book, the right page in the picture above.  That is the photo booth strip, exactly as it is.  He stood perfectly still for all 4 photos.  AMAZING.  It was the last set of pictures on our disc and we about died when we saw it.  Heads up to anyone with the next photo booth we come across - we're doing this.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pumpkin Pancakes

Saturday was the first day of Fall and also one of the first Saturdays that Stephen and I had together without morning plans in MONTHS.  We decided earlier in the week that Saturday would be Pancake Day.  We planned on staying in our pjs until after the Gator game at 12:20pm.  Knowing we had such an awesome Saturday morning planned really helped the last part of last week move by a little faster.

For the pancakes we used this recipe from  There were 1400 positive reviews and over 70 people uploaded pictures of their pancakes so they seemed they'd be a safe bet for such a special morning.

The ingredients from the recipe are as follows, my revisions are in blue.

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (canola oil)
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (whole wheat flour)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice (didn't have any allspice, so we used 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp ground clove)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (didn't have any)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • (added 1 tablespoon of sugar)

  • You know us, we like to change things up.  We also had some bacon and Jamaican coffee with our Pumpkin Pancakes.  The perfect Saturday morning.  The pancakes were dense, so we had to adjust the amount on the pan after the first three went on.  The whole wheat flour gave them a different texture than I assume the all-purpose flour would, but we like it better.  The recipe made about 10 pancakes so we put the leftover 4 in plastic bags in the fridge.  We had cheesy eggs and a pancake on Sunday morning, too.  Just a minute in the microwave and the day-old pancakes were perfect. 

  • PS - don't laugh at our bacon.  We had our panini press out from the night before when we made Cuban Sandwiches and we used it the next morning for the bacon.  It was perfect, but it made the bacon a little flat.  Don't worry, none of the flavor was lost.   

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Small Living Room Solution: Shelf behind the Couch

Our house is teeny tiny.  It was built in 1940.  Apparently back then they liked small rooms, no closets and a lot of fireplaces.  Even in our house, when it was just 900 square feet before the addition of the master suite, there were THREE fireplaces.  One has since been removed to renovate the kitchen but there is still evidence of it in the attic.  

There are 4 of us living in our house, two humans and to very playful dogs.   Mabel always wants to play and Goose is more than willing to join her.  Because our house is so small, they tend to do some furniture rearranging while they play....or we do it for them before something (else) gets broken.  

Mabel and Goose involved in a heated tug-of-war battle
You can see above that when they get going tugging or wrestling, there isn't much room.  Can you imagine if we had been sitting on the couch or in the chair on the right?  We needed a solution to this small living room.

Our first step was to remove the tables you see above.  The black Ikea coffee table was perfect for the size of the room, but every time the dogs wanted to play it had to be pushed to the window so the didn't knock things over with their tails.  The wooden table at the top right of the picture had to go, too.  It was holding our stereo system and Internet router.

We couldn't have a living room without somewhere to put our magazines, cups, remotes, so we decided to put up a shelf behind the sofa.  My inspiration came from the blog Young House Love who build a really amazing console table behind their sectional in their living room.  We don't have the tools, DIY skills or time to build something as elaborate as they were able to put together, but Lowes had exactly what we needed.

We found a long shelf with wall brackets for less than $25.  We love solutions to our problems that don't hurt our wallets.  We centered the shelf behind the couch and attached it to the wall with some pretty serious anchors so we know that baby isn't going anywhere.

Top view of the couch with the new shelf behind it
The shelf is 11 inches wide, so while we had to push the couch a little bit off the wall, the space we lost was far less than if we still had a coffee table in the middle of the floor.  

Look at all the new floor space we have now!  Mabel had to check out what was going on, she loves the camera.
All of the extra space has been amazing so far.  The dogs can play without knocking into something and the room feels so much larger.  To hold all of the equipment for the TV, we hung two shelves on the wall under the TV and took everything off the floor.  Looking at the picture, I need to paint that vent brown...

View of the room from the front door.  This time Goose had to get in the shot.
Above you can see how small our house is.  The blue walls are the kitchen and the brown wall to the left are the dining room walls.  It is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house, but the living space can feel cramped at times.  

The room from the corner of the couch
There is still some work to be done in the room, but we're so happy with how this quick addition has really opened up the space.  For the room, I'd like to:

  • change out the accent pillows - those green ones have seen better days
  • lightening up the room with lighter colored curtains.  The ones hanging now are black out curtains and we definitely want to make sure the room stays dark
  • raise the curtains to give the room more height 
  • add a rug 
  • paint the walls
It's a long list, but as Stephen likes to say - we have forever.  

Added bonus - storage space!
An added bonus to the project was new storage space behind the couch!  I didn't take the best pictures, but in this one you can see two of the storage boxes we've been able to add.  Behind that one are SIX more, larger, plastic bins from Ikea.  We've only filled three of them so far, but have plenty of more stuff to organize and store in our new found space.  I'll probably buy one more of those prettier boxes the next time we're at Ikea since there is still some space.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Puppy Update - Goose is 7 months old!

I had to take both pups to the vet for a booster shot for their K-9 Influenza shot.  (Don't get me started on all the new shots they needed this year in GA.)  I was VERY nervous about having to take both of them to the vet and get them inside alone.  Let's just say that when excited (Mabel) and scared (Goose) trying to control both of them is very difficult.

Goose and Mabel.  They'll both sit still for about 3 seconds for a treat.  I have about 20 out takes trying to get this one shot.  Mabel's smile is my all time favorite smile.
The pups are taken care of by Ark Animal Hospital on 14th Street in Midtown and we love them.  Goose lived there for a few weeks before we found him to adopt, so the staff love him there.  Mabel is happy where ever she is.
This is Sleepy Mabel.  She looks sad, but she's in her spot on the sofa between me and Stephen, she's super happy, just sleepy-face.
After my exciting morning, Goose's leash did slip out of my hands for a quick second and he ran to the car and sat right by the door (God bless), I decided it would be a fun time for a dog update.  Nothing has really changed much with Mable, she's the sweetest, smartest, most mischievous dog I know.  Her muzzle is getting a little bit more grey, but I'll blame her baby brother for that one.  She's the best big sister, always making sure Goose is doing what he should be doing.  She's even started licking his face which he seems to love.

Goose continues to grow, everyday.  There are times when we come home from work and he looks bitter than he did that morning.  I had them weigh him at the vet's office today, he's a solid 54 lbs.  He's a big boy! When we got him he was less than 35 lbs, Mabel's weight.  He may be a big boy, but he's 100% still puppy. He's a total goof and loves to play.  The minute the sun comes up it's play time.  He's started barking at people walking past the house and he sounds pretty scary.  That is until someone looks at him or walks directly in front of the front staircase  - then he takes off running for the back of the house.  He's pretty much a big, puppy wuss.

Look at those beautiful puppy eyes.
Goose is bigger than Mabel now and loves to play with her.  He's also learning to play fetch and how to catch a ball.  He's super quick and very smart.  I'm so proud of my baby boy.

Sitting so pretty.  When Goose wants something he knows he has to sit.  Sometimes we find him just sitting by the water bowl.

Or we find him sitting on the couch to get our attention.  Just before I took this picture he was looking right at me, waiting for a hug.  He loves to hug.

Goose also loves his toys.  All of them, at once.  Mabel must have had the ball, so Goose hoarded the other ones.
 I love my little babies.  Stephen has been out of town for 4 nights and they have loved all the extra room in the bed.  Typically, one of them gets a spot on the bed and the other takes his/her spot on the dog bed in the room.  Sometimes we wake up and their both squished into the bed with us.  They are helping my case for a king size bed.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mae's Bakery: Restaurant Review

Living in Grant Park definitely has it's perks.  I'm close to work, we're close to Braves games and we're super close to the highway so we can get anywhere in the city pretty quick (when there isn't traffic).  One of the downsides is being on the opposite side of town from Mae's Bakery.  The bakery opened just a few weeks ago on Lenox Road, in the shopping center that is home to Roasters.  I wish they were closer to my house, for purely selfish reasons of course. 

Bakery and coffee shops can feel like they're trying too hard to be comfortable, but Mae's hits it right on the nose.  The interior is beyond welcoming and calming, like they are inviting you into their home.  They are still working out what to put on the walls, but even without the added decor, the dining room (is it called that in a bakery?) is a place you want to sit and relax.  I did sit for a few minutes while I was there and the chairs are amazing.  I know it's not something I would normally call out in a restaurant review, but these chairs were awesome.  I said to one of my co-workers who was with me on my visit, "they're so comfortable, they fit your butt!"  I hate sitting in a chair that feels one inch too narrow, right?  

Don't you want to climb behind the counter and join them!
Mae's is open in the morning for breakfast and stays open until 7pm which is perfect for those heading home from work who need that extra pick-me-up cup of coffee (which is DELICIOUS) or a little cupcake treat for dessert.  We visited at lunch time before heading over to Roasters for lunch.  Afternoon snacks purchased, the rest of the work day didn't seem so bad.

I'm in love with the interior decor.  Check out that lamp! 
Now let's talk menu.  I haven't had a chance to try all of their cupcakes or sweets because owner, Beth, is constantly adding to her menu.  Just today while we were there she had added moon pies and was talking about a brand new goodie for the fall that she was going to make for the first time later today.  The cupcakes are perfect every time.  Trust me, try to prove me wrong.  In addition to the cupcakes, Beth serves up cookies, whoopie pies, the new moon pies, chocolate croissants, and muffins.  I bought two muffins, one blueberry and one chocolate banana, for breakfast tomorrow.  It's a test in my will power not to touch them, they are so tempting every time I walk through the kitchen and catch a whiff of them sitting on the counter.

I wish I lived closer to Mae's Bakery.  You're lucky if you do.  Check them out.

*I was not compensated in any way for this post.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Book Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

That's a really long book title.  While I was reading it I just referred to as Mindy Kaling's book but that confused people, so then I said Kelly from The Office and that got everyone with me.  Now I know why some actors use their own name when creating a character on TV, sometimes your character's name is more recognizable than your own.  Does anyone know the actor who played Carlton on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?  If you said it, I wouldn't even know if you were right.

Source: Amazon.  I got the book on my Kindle so I don't have a picture of the cover, again.

When I found out that Mindy wrote for The Office, I had to pick up her book.  I think she's an amazing talent, acting and writing, so I had to support her.  I also thought the book would be perfect for Honeymoon, beach reading.  Oh yes, it was.  The book is quick and because it's really a discussion and stories about different times in her life and different experiences, it was easy to stop and start when I wanted to get into the water to cool off.

I found myself reading several paragraphs here and there out loud to Stephen because they were so funny.  Her time on SNL as a writer and how she feels about fashion had me laughing out loud while sipping on my vodka tonic.  She's done so much more in Hollywood than I was aware of, go Mindy!

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn a little bit more about the world of a writer, a funny person and/or someone of a different ethnicity.  Some of her discussion about her family were hilarious.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

University of Florida Ribbon Wreath

I've seen quite a few Ribbon Wreaths on Pinterest and I'm obsessed.  I could probably have an entire board on just wreaths, I love them.  It's a weird goal of mine to have a wreath for every event/season.

My newest Gator decor!

With the start of football season I started a wreath for my team, the University of Florida.  Over the past few months each time I went to Michael's I bought some orange and/or ribbon.  It feels much cheaper if you spread out the cost of the ribbon over a few trips.  I also tried to get as much as possible while they were on sale.

In total, the wreath took me about 4 hours to complete, over two days.  I'm SO happy how it turned out, I'm not sure I've loved any of my crafts as much as I love this one.  Here is what I used to make my Gator Wreath:
  1. 14" foam circle from any craft store or dollar store.  
  2. Hot glue gun and glue sticks.  I used about 4 sticks on this project
  3. 10 or more spools of ribbon, varying widths, colors and textures.  I used some thick ribbon, some very thin ribbon, some solid colors and some with patterns.  I also used some glitter ribbon (I made sure it didn't shed glitter before I bought it!)  I think the variety is important.  Pick one solid color for your base ribbon, different from any of your other ribbon.
  4. Wood letters from the craft store
  5. Acrylic paint
The first thing I did was to wrap the green foam circle in my base ribbon so all of the green was covered.  I used hot glue to hold it into place.  Then I cut my ribbon in to 4 1/2" to 5" strips.  To cover my wreath I cut 20 strips of each ribbon.  I found that I needed some shorter strips and some a little bit longer.  I measured once and then used that to cut all of the rest, nothing was too exact.  

With all of the ribbon cut I folded each piece of ribbon in half and glued it together.  I didn't make circles because I wanted the ribbon to stand up off of the wreath.  The cutting and gluing of the ribbon might not have taken the longest, but it sure did feel that way.  When all of the ribbon is glued and ready to go, it's time to start placing them on the wreath.  

You can see in the center of the wreath that I used an orange ribbon as my base.
I didn't follow any pattern when putting the ribbon on the wreath, I was only focusing on filling in all of the areas.  I would place the large ribbon first in groups of two then I would fill in with some of the smaller ribbon until it was time to place another large ribbon.  The part of the ribbon that was glued together is the part that I then glued to the foam wreath.  This part of the project took about 3 hours and I have about 5 burnt fingers, but it was worth it.  I also didn't go all the way around the wreath, only the front 2/3 that will show.

While I was finishing ribbon, Stephen was nice enough to paint the UF for me.  When they were dry I glued them to the fatter ribbons where I wanted them to sit and they were set and ready to go.  The last piece was the ribbon that hangs the wreath.  I didn't glue it to the actual wreath because I may use a wreath hook at some point to hang it, so I wanted the option of taking it off.

There you have it!  GO GATORS!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Gone Girl: Book Review

I set at goal for myself that I was going to read 12 books in 2012.  I'm not doing too hot.  I'm at 4.  I'm not going to be too hard on myself, I did plan a wedding in 4 months and it's still only September.  I can get close to 12 by the end of the year, as long as I don't pick up another 1000 page book like, Gone With the Wind or one of the Game of Thrones books.  Smaller books for the rest of the year.

On our Honeymoon I read a hilarious book by Mindy Kaling, Kelly Kapoor and also a writer for The Office.  I'll review that book next, but while Gone Girl is fresh in my mind, I want to talk about it.

Source: Amazon.  I bought the book on my Kindle (LOVE) so I can't take my own picture of the cover for you.

Let's get to it: Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn.   You can click here if you want to read Amazon's review of the book.  Warning:  this review will include some spoilers.  If you haven't read the book, please stop reading now.  The book is full of twists and turns and I'd hate to ruin it for anyone.

The book is told by two different people, Nick and Amy, husband and wife, in alternating chapters.  In the first part of the book we are reading Amy's diary that goes back to when she met Nick and Nick's point of view is told in present day, beginning with their 5th wedding anniversary.   With Nick's story we learn that Amy has gone missing the morning of their anniversary.  Nick doesn't have an alibi and the investigation immediately starts to focus on him.  What frustrated me was that Nick never said, even when we were in his thoughts, that he didn't kill Amy.  Come on man, but that's just a way Gillian Flynn kept us guessing.  We also learn that he's been cheating on Amy for over a year with a 23-year-old student of his.  This pissed me off even more!  Each Amy and Nick like to think back to when they first met and how great their marriage was to one another and I hate that even with something so great, Nick was driven to cheat.  Andie, the young home wrecker, can't stand being away from Nick, even when his wife is missing, and nearly ruins things when she stops by his house for a romp.  She bothers me for so many reasons, besides that she is sleeping with a married man, she never asked Nick about Amy.  Yes, they were secretly together the morning she went missing, but only for an hour.

About halfway through the book changes and now we're hearing from Amy, present day.  Yes, she's alive.  She's a psycho bitch and control freak and loves the spotlight.  We learn right away from her that she's set Nick up for her murder and has been planning his demise for over a year.  WTF lady!   Any woman who could write a 7 year diary, while fact checking, just to make the cops believe your husband killed you is a psycho.  Her ultimate plan to get away from Nick is foiled by some thieves and she's forced to call a friend to help hide her.  When this doesn't go as she had planned, she changes her mind, kills him and then returns home claiming "kidnapping."  Man, no wonder Nick fell out of love with his wife.

The end of the book left me feeling so bad for Nick, but at the same time not pitying him at all.  Amy was such a conniving bitch that she had all of his escape routes blocked and she was forcing him to live as her happy, loving husband, because that's what she wanted.  She didn't want him to leave her and to make sure he never did, she got pregnant using a sperm donation that Nick had made years before.  He was trapped in the marriage as long as he ever wanted to see the baby.

The story was so far out there, I wonder if anything in real life has ever come close.  It makes me think for an extra second about all the wife killers that seem to pop up on the cable news channels these days.

Overall, I loved the book.  It angered me, I hated most of the characters and I hated how quickly their marriage fell apart, but I loved the twists and turns and the writing.  I'll definitely recommend this to my friends.  There is some bad language and some graphic descriptions that some people may not appreciate, but it wasn't enough to bother me.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Gator Football 2012

It's football season, thank God.  Finally.  Eight months is a long time to wait for football.  I try to make it home to at least one football game each year and this year we were able to get tickets to the first game of the season against Bowling Green.

My favorite 1.3 acres
There were a few firsts this game - there were entire sections that were empty, they announced that there are seats available for home games, our seats were actually really good seats and, lastly, there were points in the opening game that I didn't know if we'd come out victorious.  It's a frightening feeling.

It was very, very hot. We loved each and every cloud, especially when they are that pretty.
We're not going to be very good this year, so I have a feeling if I want to go home to another game I won't have a problem finding tickets.  Sad.

Me and my super handsome husband (ignore the sweat)

Me and my Daddy

The who group!  Lots of love in this photo.
Regardless how this season turns out, I'm a Gator fan through and through.  I bleed Orange and Blue.  I'll be there next season, cheering just as loud.  And maybe a bad season means we can get season tickets next year!

Atlanta Radio - Format Changes are the Final Straw

I typically don't use my blog to vent, I'd rather focus on the fun and exciting parts of life, but I've had it at this point.  Atlanta Radio and I are breaking up.  It's been a long time coming and the past week was the final straw.

The good thing about Radio, and I'm in advertising so I know a little bit about what I'm talking about, is that is is free and there is a variety of stations in every market so all demographics have something to listen to.  Things are changing here in Atlanta and I will no longer listen to my radio, I'm switching to Internet radio at all times.  (Which is sad because I'm really only in the car for 10 min in the morning and 10 min in the evening.)

My previous station line up was like this:  Top 40, Top 40, Adult Rock, Rock, 80s/90s.  Those were my presets on my car stereo.  Of those five stations, three have now switched formats - one to news/talk and the other two to Top 40.  I'd list it all out for you, but it's too complicated and really, it doesn't matter - the good stations are gone.

Really Atlanta, we need that may stations playing Nikki Minaj (gross), Justin Beiber (I've never listened to a full song) or Goyte (will he ever go away)?  I really enjoyed my 80s music now and then, I enjoyed some acoustic rock music on a Sunday morning.  And these two stations didn't have an annoying morning show, they actually played music.   When my sister was in town for my wedding we jammed to 80s and 90s music all weekend.

Luckily I have an amazing husband and months ago he fixed my car so I can play music from my iphone through my car stereo.  Pandora and I are great friends.  Nothing like free radio.  And you know what, my Adult Rock or 80s station won't be taken away from me.

I guess there is a reason why people like Country Music, those stations aren't going anywhere.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Every morning I check a bunch of blogs and recipe websites.  On days when I'm too busy to check in with all of my "friends" I really feel like I've missed out on something important.  One of the blogs I check is Spoon Fork Bacon.  I don't like everything that they post, and they don't post new recipes everyday, but there are some amazing gems on the blog.

There seems to be a tradition starting that every time I visit my dad and step-mom or they come to visit us in Atlanta we bring a baked good.  For Thanksgiving last year they brought us homemade carrot cake.  For the wedding my step-sister brought us the most amazing chocolate cake.  Even when we met in Gainesville last year for a homecoming football game we had homemade sugar cookies.  It's a perfect tradition.

After the amazing carrot cake, chocolate cake and sugar cookies, I was under pressure to deliver something just as good.  I put this pressure on myself, of course.  Nobody else knew I would compare my baked good to theirs, but I did.  I'm so glad it measured up!!

On Spoon Fork Bacon I found a Banana Bread that I had to try.  Thankfully we had some overly ripe bananas at home that were perfect.  (Did you see that it has chocolate in it - don't pass it up!)

Source: Spoon Fork Bacon.  I LOVE their photography!!!!
 As always, I made some minor adjustments to the recipe because, let's be honest, that's what I do.  I didn't have three bananas to use in the bread that were overly ripe, so I used the two I had on hand and a perfectly good banana.  I didn't make a difference at all - still super delicious.  I'm also not crazy about coconut so I left that out and added in some chopped pecans and walnuts that we had on hand.  Loved the texture that they added to the bread.

The recipe calls for a 9" pan but I only had an 8" pan so I filled the one I had about 3/4 of the way and then put the rest of the mix into a smaller loaf pan and watched it as it baked so I didn't burn it.

Four of us ate the loaf of bread for two mornings while we were in Florida visiting over the weekend.  I think that qualifies my bread as a success.