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oh, yeah—another April milestone

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I almost forgot another big moment in April when I was doing my whirlwind month recap


Three years with this guy.

Hard to believe, but Jonathan and I have been dating for (over) three years.


It all started back in 2007 at JSU, where we first *really* met. Emphasis on the really, because we’d had two brief encounters before we actually had a real conversation. Oddly enough, we went to college together for four years, in the same department, and we never met.

167877_583242127509_156801544_32707603_3596102_nWe were a pretty unlikely couple, he and I. To some, we couldn’t be more opposite, our biggest division being political: he, a staunch conservative; I, a tree-hugging liberal.

5611_536395084359_156803730_31533254_3954110_n  But we make it work. Our differences are what bring us together; he is my Mr. Right (Wing).


I never was the relationship girl, and I feel like I’m living proof that love hides in the most unexpected places, and it truly does happen to you when you least expect it.


Because honestly. Who would have put the journal-toting, tree-hugging, can-recycling liberal lady with this straight-laced, clean-cut conservative “fraternity man”?


Well, maybe he’s not as straight-laced as he looks.

155157_576983080689_156803730_32566427_6612795_n Differences or no, it’s been a good three years, never short on surprises and fun times. I love you, babe.


reunited and it feels so good…

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Way back when I was in college, during a time when Facebook was new and reserved only for college kids, there was an option on the burgeoning social network to put in what classes you were taking. And like all the other cool kids, I put in my schedule. Shortly thereafter, I found myself with a handful of new adds from people I’d not yet met but who I’d be having class with that fall. It was actually a pretty clever function; we could set up study groups and such and communicate missed assignments. I remember noticing one girl in particular who added me and who I’d never seen around.

n156803730_30318231_7048 On my first day of PR Writing at JSU, I sat in the back. I saw a vaguely familiar head of hair sitting in front of me. I tapped her on the shoulder. “Excuse me, but are you Kristin?” I asked. The beautiful girl nodded and smiled at me.

And the rest is friendship history!


Kristin and I became fast friends, and as I remember it, that very first week, she invited me out to dinner and drinks with her friends. She was not only the most gorgeous girl I’d ever seen in real life, she was also super down-to-earth and funny. We spent many a late night drinking wine, eating cookie dough and laughing our asses off.


We were study buddies, drinking partners, and karaoke queens. Kristin and I, along with my friends Kevin and Kaitie, became a very close-knit group within the communications department.

In 2007, Kristin moved to New York for a fabulous internship, and it was a big change that soon became semi-permanent. We kept in touch, and no matter how infrequent our conversations may have been, she was still one of my very best friends. I swore I’d come for a visit, but the money and time were never available.

The next year, Kristin moved home for a little while, and we were able to see each other a little more. But before I knew it, she’d found a new job and new place to call home: Washington, D.C. (Virginia, to be more correct). A lot closer, but still so far away. We continued to have sporadic visits as she returned home to see family, including a fantastic whirlwind trip last fall when we attended our alma mater’s homecoming festivities.


This past March, I decided to check out flights on AirTran, on a whim. Kris had told me she’d been able to find reasonable tickets between two smaller airports, and I just had to see. As luck would have it, I found a round-trip ticket over Memorial Day weekend—for just under $150 total.

I bought it immediately.

So in less than 24 hours, I’ll be DC-bound and reunited with my BFF Kristin. We’ve been looking forward to this trip for a very long time, and I foresee a lot more wine and late-night chatting on the agenda.

And if we’re lucky, maybe a little karaoke.


Take a few minutes to make a phone call to someone with whom you might have lost touch. I’m sure it’ll brighten both your days. I hope you all have a fantastic Memorial Day weekend—see ya on the flip side!


happy weekend!

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Hello all! It’s been such a busy week, with work and volunteering and everything else. I’m packing up to head to Huntsville to visit my sister and my mom, and oh yeah—run my first official 5k since I injured my foot back in January. Wish me luck!

Also, for those of you in the Birmingham area: My friend Jason is partnering with Alison Lewis of Ingredients, Inc. to host the 2nd Annual National Food Blogger Bake Sale for the state of Alabama (there are participants from coast to coast). They’ll be offering up delicious treats baked up by area bloggers and local businesses like Urban Standard and Dreamcakes. (OMG, cupcakes!!!1!) Head down to Homewood near Urban Cookhouse (across from Trak Shak) to pick something up and support Share Our Strength, an organization devoted to ending childhood hunger in the U.S.

I’m contributing mint chocolate chip cookies! There was a moment where I freaked out when the mixture didn’t look quite right—it seems that the trouble with making up recipes is when you don’t really write it all down…you think you’ll remember, but alas, that’s not always the case. But a quick sample proved to be pretty darn good (in my humble opinion, that is).

If you’re not in the Birmingham area, check the main page to see if your state is on the list and find a bake sale near you! Whenever I think of bake sales, I’m transported back in time to when we used to fundraise for band trips and church trips, and also when I was so geeked out over 4-H that I entered (and sometimes won, holla) the cooking competition every year.

Check that sweet outfit!

Have a great weekend!

cinco de reago!

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Last Thursday, our friends gathered together to celebrate a very special holiday: Cinco de Reago!

Also known as the anniversary of the birthday of this lovely lady:

181528_588139029079_156801991_32791118_7421141_n Reagan requested angel food cake and strawberries for her birthday (“since it’s healthier than other options”), and I was more than happy to comply. After calling my mom for advice, she told me to just go with a box mix to simplify things; she assured me it would turn out delicious.

She told me I would need a specific type of pan, a tube pan. I couldn’t find one anywhere, so I decided to go with loaf pans. The directions seemed simple. Mix, pour, bake. Easy peasy right?

Sigh. Nothing is ever easy.

DSC09382 Looks can be slightly deceiving. While this may not look that bad, I had some problems. The cakes puffed up beautifully…and continued to puff up until they spilled over and onto the burners in my oven. And consequently caught on fire.

It was all good, though. I managed to get it under control.


  Not so bad, eh? We’ll just ignore the metal tin of disappointment off to the side.



We headed out to Jim ‘N Nick’s for dinner, then to karaoke for drinks and entertainment. Some shots from the evening:


Dresses with pockets rock!

April, where did you go?

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Sheesh, it was a busy, busy month. Let’s see…

I’ve been to three weddings:DSC09023 No good pictures of me from Tyler and Jennifer’s wedding, so here’s a good one of J and his college roommate, Matt. This was the 1st weekend in April.

Then two weeks after that, our friend Juliet said “I do,” too.


Juliet and Mr. Juliet have their first dance.


Me and Jonathan on the left, tasty treats on the right. I was so pleased with the food options! Tons of veggies and fruits (including sugar snap peas and blackberries!) and a delicious pasta salad.


Me and Jonathan with the lady of the hour.

And the this past Saturday, a girlfriend of mine from high school got hitched at Noccalula Falls.


We walked around the falls a bit and snapped some photos.


The legend is that Indian maiden Noccalula was promised (in marriage) to member of another tribe. She was so in love with another and so distraught (and angsty) that she dove off the falls in protest.


No worries, we kept both our feet on the ground.

The same day as the first wedding, Jonathan and I attended a cookout for my Uncle Phil.


He’s in the Guard, and he is being deployed. In addition to giving him a swell sendoff, we also celebrated his birthday and his daughter’s. It was so nice to have the ENTIRE family in town.DSC09001DSC09012

My sister and I with good ol’ Mom.


Left: Me and all the girls (pretty much the whole family) and then J and I, flanked by festive balloons.


The grandest grandparents in all the land. Truth.


Left: My Aunt Alice holding one of the grandbabies—doesn’t she just look like a little doll?

On the right: My Uncle Donnie, my granddad and my Aunt Dolores—siblings!

The second weekend of April, Jonathan and I joined a friend of his, Rachel, to visit another friend from college, Adam.


We drove to Knoxville, TN, to hang out, stopping by Chattanooga to visit more friends on the way home.


This sign tickled me. I felt like it was saying, “Horses: THIS MEANS YOU.” I wondered if they’d had problems with horses trying to get residents to pony up for candy bars and horse scout cookies.


This was so amazing…I went on and on about it for a while. Probably too much. It’s a vegetarian muffuletta from Jason’s Deli (with a side of fruit). SO good.


They’re so sweet.


Beeeeeer. Beer as big as my head and as multitudinous as my fingers.


After a fun night out with the college kids from UT, we headed south towards home and another pair of good friends.


We met up with Brandon and Kristin (newly married this year) to have lunch in the super-cute arts district. From there, we walked over this scary glass pedestrian bridge:


And THEN we walked over this massive bridge:


Just so we could get some of this:

DSC09133 So…there’s most of my April, in a not-so-small nutshell. (Well, there was also a monster brunch on Easter last Sunday, but more on that later.) It was so jam-packed! I don’t think the next month will be nearly as full, but I have some fun things on the sched. What was the most fun thing you did this past month?

thai one on

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Today was rough. It was just a really, really long day, with lots of stuff going on in the office. In fact, this is how I looked most of the day:


And yes, those are phone photos. (Note to any co-workers reading: I did this shortly before lunch, so it wasn’t on company time 😉

Luckily, my buddy Jen came to rescue me for a much-needed lunch away from the office. We decided to cash in her Groupon for Surin, a delicious Thai place downtown.

I started with a cup of coconut tofu soup.


Jen said she doesn’t really care for the soup, but I love it! It’s spicy and sweet, with little chunks of mushroom and tofu. It’s especially good if you have a cold, FYI.

For my entree, I went with the Thai Noodle, with tofu instead of chicken.


It was fantastic. The tofu was a great stand-in for chicken. I love the peanuts in this; they really make the dish for me.

Jen went with the Pad See-U.


Isn’t she adorable?? Just as adorable were her flat egg noodles and broccoli sauteed in soy sauce. Oh, and see that precious sunbeam? While I do think of Jen as my personal ray of sunshine, that was actual sun being reflected off a car hood directly into my for the last half of lunch. Blarg!

Now I’m headed off to bed to dream my little dreams. Question: Do you bring your lunch to work, go home, or go out frequently? I  live really close, so I go home a lot, but I also like to take advantage of lunch hour gym classes and often bring my lunch. I’ll be dining on these leftovers tomorrow for sure.

bean there, done that…

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…ate the burger.

Having been meatless these past few weeks, I’ve been trying to get creative with my meals. One thing I hoped to accomplish over Lent season was not only eliminating meat (save for fish) but also attempting to cut out processed crap. I didn’t want meat-free eatin’ to mean Boca burgers and canned soups (not that those don’t have a place in my diet or my freezer/pantry). I wanted to make more of my own meals and find ways to incorporate more veggies and newer sources of nutrition.

I was able to test out a recipe I’ve had eye on a few weeks ago when I attended a cookout celebrating the engaging of my dear friend Kate. We were roommates in college, and we’ve tried to maintain a good relationship since we’ve both relocated to Bham.

DSC08893 Kate met her lovely match with Alex. In the short amount of time I’ve spent around the two of them together, I can tell that they are perfect for one another. I can’t wait to attend her wedding at the end of the summer!


I do so love that girl 🙂

The happy couple invited us to come to their house and celebrate with them. The only problem? This was dinner:

DSC08879 Meat, meat, and more meat.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. And from what I heard (and smelled) it was delicious. I just knew that if I wanted to eat, I’d need options. (I do have to stop right here and say that Kate was so sweet to pick up some veggie burgers for me to eat! I didn’t realize this before I made my own dinner, but I was very appreciative of her kindness.)

So I took the opportunity to try out a recipe I’ve had my eye on for a while: Vegan Black Bean Burgers from Emily at the Daily Garnish (please take a minute to check out her blog; she’s such a sweetheart AND she’s going to have the healthiest baby around!).

You can check out Daily Garnish for the exact recipe, but here’s the girst of what you’ll need:

    • black beans
    • grated carrots
    • rolled oats
    • pepitas (pumpkin seeds—I bought these on the cheap in the Whole Foods bulk section)

Along with an assortment of seasonings and olive, all of which you will likely have in your cabinet (I did). One thing I didn’t have was ground coriander, which I bought at Whole Foods. Note: A shaker of the spice is kinda pricey, but I found a pretty big tub of it for less than two dollars! And there was way more in the tub that in the shaker. I just put it into a old spice canister when I got home. Score!

Basically, you give it all a whirl in the food processor. Mine is really tiny (that’s hopefully not what she said), so I had to do it in batches.


Then you form it into patties and bake them up.


(I just noticed that they don’t look much different “raw” vs. cooked.”)

These were awesome! Very rich and smoky tasting. The cinnamon really came out, but not in a weird way. This made 6 very big “burgers,” and I froze a few of them. I think one of these would be good crumbled up in a wrap, or even in some sort of sauce, maybe? Bonus: These were not only really filling but also good on nutrition information. I don’t have an exact count on hand, but one big burger was 6 Weight Watchers Points Plus.

We also whipped up some quick appetizers. I made some Cowboy Caviar and Rea made guacamole.


The Cowboy Caviar was super easy and I already had most of things I needed:

  • 2 cans black-eyed peas, drained
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 1  jar chopped pimentos, drained
  • minced black olives
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown  mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt, pepper, sugar and oregano (I used pinches of the first few to taste and about 1/2-1 tsp of oregano)

Dump the first five items into a bowl, then whisk together the remaining ingredients to make a dressing. Pour the dressing over the pea mixture, and stir to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve (with tortilla chips).

While the smell of grilled was distracting, I don’t know that I’d say it was tempting. Not only did my black bean burgers taste awesome, they smelled great, too!

What’s your favorite thing to grill out? I love veggie kabobs, esp when there’s something unexpected hanging out with the veggies, like pineapple. Also…what do you do when you aren’t sure if your tastes/diet will be accommodated at party/cookout? Do you feel awkward BYODinner?