Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

Ok. The picture doesn't really do it justice. Our family has been making this cake forEVER. Mom made it plenty while we were growing up, for church potlucks & stuff like that. I have made it several times while we've been married, so i think it deserves a blog entry! Seriously- it is DELICIOUS!!! It won 1st place at last years family reunion (they have everyone vote on best dessert). And it's SUPER easy to make!!


Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

1 box yellow cake mix (we use Duncan Hines)
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
pecans, chopped (optional - i've never made it with pecans, but i'm sure it's good!)
1 box instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

Mix ingredients well. Stir in chips last. Pour into bundt pan sprayed with Pam or buttered. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. After cooling for 10 minutes, flip over onto plate. It should come out super easily (mine always does!). Allow to cool & sprinkle with powdered sugar. And, speaking of sprinkling with sugar... I feel i should mention a very handy, very favorite product of mine!!! It's a flour/sugar shaker!

Isn't it cute?! Seriously, my sister-in-law had one of these & i remember ooh-ing & ah-ing over it while Brad & I were engaged. It is just so handy & so cute!! And when i made this cake for the family reunion in October 2008, i borrowed hers! So, for one of my shower gifts (i think), she gave me one of my very own! It is a Pampered Chef product & it is just the best thing ever! & they're only $6! So worth it, i think!! Love it!
Click here for Nutritional Info.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fabulous!!

Laura at Life Happens gave me the Fabulous Blog award!! Yipee!

Laura & i met online years ago & became friends quickly! I'm so glad she is into blogging, because I can keep up with her life this way & see pics of her ADORABLE kids! You should definitely check out her blog! It's fun reading about her life as an awesome wife & mom! She is also an amateur photographer & i love looking at her photos! We do not live near each other, but we have decided that one of these days we're going to have to meet in person! 

Now, there are rules that come with this award. So pay attention if i listed you at the bottom!! :) Share the 5 things that you are obsessed with & then pass the award along to your pick for the 5 most fabulous bloggers.

Melissa's Current Obsessions:

1. CHIC LIT. I have always loved to read, but i would read all types of books. I also went through phases where I'd read awhile & then not read anything & then get back into reading. Well, since i read the Twilight series - a year ago - i have been on a NON STOP chic lit fit! It's become a serious addiction. To the point that if i finish a book on my lunch break, i have to go to the bookstore after work to get the next one! If i finish an author, i'm kind of at my wit's end until i find another one. The Twilight series was great, but i wasn't obsessed or anything. But then i just somehow came across Marian Keyes, who writes some very witty stuff! I went through all of her books (except the one that is still in hardback), then found Sophie Kinsella & read all of hers (hilarious! SO enjoyable). I've gone through plenty of authors in between & am now LOVING Emily Giffin. Sadly, she only has 4 books & i'm reading her fourth one now. I am loving Chic Lit. My sister has told me i need to read something more intelligent, but i completely disagree! You watch entertaining movies, right? Not documentaries all the time! Reading is entertainment for me. I suppose i'll eventually get back into mysteries, a good drama, or some serious nonfiction...but for now, Chic Lit is my thing! 

2. Blogging. When i was in 5th grade, my friend Ali gave me a journal for my birthday. It was the first one i ever got & i wrote in it sporadically. I had 2 more sporadically written in journals in middle school, but by high school i got the hang of it & wrote in one ALL the time. I still have them all saved - handwritten journals from age 11 to my early 20's - in a bin underneath my bed. They are my most private thoughts, mostly about boys, my insecurities & fears & frustrations, and about my walk with God. I wish i still journaled by hand. I think of reading these in future years & it's exciting. It's precious. But somehow blogging started & i just can't even think of writing them in a book anymore (no matter how much i'd like to)! I started blogging on myspace, but when i switched to facebook, there really wasn't a good set up for blogging. I had just gotten married and wanted to chronicle our journey of wedded bliss so i started this one. I become more & more obsessed with it! I LOVE it! I am always checking to see if i got comments (so you should comment! it'd totally make my day!) or to see if anyone i am following has posted a new entry! I love writing my own but i also love reading about other's lives! By the way, i have another blog about my weightloss journey called Try Try Again, if you'd like to read that one!

3. A Long Hot Bath. I don't know where this came from. But for awhile now, i've been really stressed out at work & there is nothing that relaxes me like getting in the tub with a novel (yes, i read in the tub- much to my husband's horror (he likes his books to stay in perfect condition.) (Please don't worry if you've loaned me a book- i only do this to my own books!!). Anyway, nothing like a nice long relaxing hot bath to soothe some nerves. (Note: If the day is really bad, this is sometimes accompanied by a small glass of wine!) (Also, a massage afterwards makes your de-stressing tub relaxation time even MORE fantastic!).

4. Theatre. I just can't help it. I'm involved at Baton Rouge Little Theatre & i love it. I love performing. I love stage managing. When I'm taking a break from theatre, i miss stage managing. When i'm stage managing, i miss performing. I auditioned in 2006 for Beauty & the Beast & can't seem to leave. Sometimes when a new person auditions & is cast, at some point their eyes glaze over as they tell everyone how much of a dream it's been & how they will miss it & how great of an experience it is & how cool it is to learn how it all works & at some point someone stops them & says, "you've caught it. You've caught the bug." They call it "the theater bug" & if you've ever been a part of theatre & loved it as much as i do, you know EXACTLY what i am talking about. It just becomes your life. Your passion. Your love. I love the challenge of getting to know your character & growing as a performer when i'm acting. I love the casting process & rehearsal process as a stage manager- watching the actors progress & learn. It's just a fantastic experience.

5. Cooking. This is new for me. I was afraid i wouldn't know how or wouldn't be good at it. But i love it. I am learning new recipes all the time & it's so fun to cook! No matter how tired i am, if i come home & have ingredients for a new meal, i do it. It's fun & feels creative & like a de-stresser. If you look on the sidebar to your right, there's a list of some of the recipes i've tried this year. Delish! Please feel free to send me any of your own recipes as well!

Now, here are 5 people who definitely deserve the Fabulous Blog Award! :)

1. Sharilee at 100togo.
Sharilee found my Try Try Again blog while looking for others blogging about their weightloss efforts. We discovered right away that we have so much in common. I love reading her blog. And i'm so glad i've met her, she's been a huge encouragement to me! You should go on over & give her blog a read!!


2. Breezy Bride at Shine from the Inside.
I found Briana's blog by accident when i was blog surfing- i somehow stumbled upon it. She's a newlywed like me & she is a Christian like me & she is also in school to be a teacher...like i wanna be. :) HAHA. She writes a great blog & i love reading about her adventures in life & love! (Now, i know she's busy with school, but hopefully she'll do this blog anyway!)

3. Ashlee at Blessed Chick.
I actually know Ashlee in person. Our parents live in the same neighborhood & we worked together for a time at a preschool. I have always liked Ashlee! She is so cute & funny! Her blog doesn't disappoint, she is quite witty! & she is a BRAND NEW newlywed. :)


4. Lendie at The McAlister's.
I know Lendie in real life, but it's been so long since i've seen her! We went to church together years ago. I was pleasantly surprised to find her blog one day by accident! Lendie is just as sweet is gorgeous & it's fun to follow her blog. :)


5. Allison at Operation 365.
I only met Allison recently. We both are in a serious struggle to lose weight & keep it off. She has a great blog about her effort to lose 100 pounds in 365 days. She is doing great! You should definitely check out her blog - you can leave her a little encouragement & gain a bit of inspiration!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Newlywed Advice

I recently posted a blog where i encouraged you to Ask Me Anything. My friend Mary asked me a great question on Facebook. Even though she didn't ask me here, she asked just the same, so i think it deserves a response. Actually, I want to answer this one!! :)
The question was,

"If you could list just one thing, what advice would you give to newlyweds about the first year of marriage?"

HAHA- At first i hardly felt like i was experienced enough to answer this question...then realize she is asking specifically about the first year of marriage & not just marriage in general! Hubby & i will celebrate our 1 year anniversary in less than a month (November 14th). I can't believe it! Man, time has flown! On one hand, i feel like we JUST got married. But on the other hand, i feel like we've been married forever. It's wierd. But very cool. Wonderful.

We've laughed a lot about how great the first year of marriage has been. We were told over & over during our engagement "ohhhh, the first year is the hardest! If you can get through that, you can get through the rest of it!" & we'd laugh throughout the beginning of our marriage, like, "if this is the "hardest year" then we've got it pretty good!". Of course, at the time we were only like 3 or 4 months into it, so we couldn't really brag about it to anyone. But now, we're almost 12 months in & we still very much feel that way. This has been the BEST year. I mean, simply the BEST. We have truly enjoyed our time together. It honestly (& i am in no way exaggerating or stretching the truth here!) feels like a DREAM COME TRUE. We're best friends, we laugh all the time, we're seriously two peas in a pod!! I love being with him. There is never a time where i 'need my space' or anything like that. I mean, i'm not saying we have to be sitting side by side every waking moment. But i'm just saying i fully enjoy his company.


But to answer the question...the advice i'd give to any newlyweds is this:

TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING.

Or maybe i should just say: COMMUNICATION! I mean, that's how the therapists say it. That's how preachers or counselors say it. They say that divorces are happening a lot in today's society because of lack of communication. In our language, though, i just say "talk about everything". And i mean- EVERYTHING.

Ok, well, everything important. Even if it's just a little important. Even if you just feel like it's not important now, but maybe will be later. But especially those things that you'd rather sweep under the carpet. Like if he says something that hurts your feelings & you'd rather just not confront the issue. You'd rather just forget about it, forgive him this one little thing, or pretend it didn't happen. But i have learned this is not the way to go. You should just get everything out in the open now.

Please understand that when i say this, i do not mean nitpick. I do not mean constantly nag & whine & pick apart everything he says. I just mean that if, on occasion, he says something - intentionally or not - that hurts you...go ahead & deal with it. And allow him to do the same with you.

And by the way, when i say TALK...i also do not mean YELL. I do not mean FIGHT. I do not mean come at them screaming & cursing!! You would think that would be a given, but i'm always amazed at how many women talk to their husbands this way. I mean, this is supposed to be your best friend. I'm not talking about crazy situations like if you find out he's cheating on you, spending your entire salary on gambling or something like that! I'm just talking about your everday breakdown in communcation.  Dirty looks & mean words is not really the way to approach this. I just mean CALMLY...and kindly...talk to him about it. Give him the benefit of the doubt. For us, it is almost ALWAYS just a simple misunderstanding.

We actually learned this before we got married. For those of you who don't know, Brad & i were a couple long ago. He was my first serious boyfriend. We dated when i was 19 & he was 21. We were best friends then too. We loved each other then too. We had great chemistry then too. But we failed to TALK. He would say something that hurt my feelings & i'd ignore it. He would get mad at me about something but instead of talking to me about it, he'd just let it bottle up inside of him until he exploded at me (which was a huge problem because i had no idea i had been doing anything wrong!).

I don't know why we didn't talk things through. We were both serious about each other, in love & all that, wanting to get married. I know part of it was immaturity. We obviously didn't know the necessity of talking about everything. It was easier to forget about it & move on. But then- he wouldn't know that something hurt my feelings & would do it again. Or i wouldn't know that an action of mine was driving him crazy so i'd continue to do it, simply because i didn't know. We broke up in January of 1998, after 13 months together. In December of 2008 - he contacted me. After all those years- i'd only seen him a handful of times (by accident) in the 10 years between! And so, after his call in 2008, we went out on a couple of dates. But we both just didn't think it was going to work out. Then we started emailing each other. And we got out all kinds of issues from our relationship all those years ago! And that is when we realized that a whole lot of our trouble was just ONE BIG MISUNDERSTANDING! It was crazy! And you can't fully know the extent of what i mean, but i'm talking some serious things that he thought that simply weren't true! & things i thought he'd said that i somehow misunderstood. By the time this period of emailing each other back & forth was over, i knew he was THE ONE. i couldn't believe it! I'd moved on long ago, never imagining that he could still be the one. But he was. We got back together & were engaged pretty quickly. But we knew this time it would be different- because we knew that we simply had to communicate! A happy marriage depended on it!

And so we do. And we've had to talk about some serious things. Especially during our engagement! Things i didn't understand. Things he didn't understand. I mean, just getting to know each other. Meeting the one & falling in love is GREAT- but you're going to LIVE with this person. You're going to know everything about them! Your lives will merge. And no matter how much love you have for each other- there WILL be things you just will disagree on. It's just a part of marriage- coming from two different families, two different backgrounds. We learned that we HAD to talk things out, and we began to put that into practice right away. And we still do this now. Even this past week, he emailed me something that really upset me & offended me. I called him on it. I really didn't want to. Everything was just fine, what was my problem. I thought, "Oh, Melissa, what is your problem? He didn't mean anything by it!" & i wanted to forget about it. But i couldn't. I was really upset. I was angry. i couldn't believe he would say that. So i made myself talk to him about it. And, he totally didn't mean it that way. I mean, guys & girls are so different. We can hurt each other's feelings unintentionally. Ignoring it doesn't help things. You'll end up resenting him for no reason at all!

You may think your guy is perfect, but look- we all make mistakes. We all say things that we do not mean anything by, but someone else takes offense to it. And this isn't that big of a deal when we're talking about our coworker or another acquaintance...but your husband?! Someone you intend to be married to for the rest of your life?!! I'm thinking you should just discuss it. :)

By the way, you should still feel free to go here to ask me another question!! :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wonderful Day.

I had such a wonderful day. Just perfect. I just love Saturdays. My sister had surgery on Thursday, and my mom's been staying with her to take care of her after her surgery (she lives about an hour & a half away). I decided weeks ago that i would go up this morning, to cook her some dinner & spend some time with her. But i assumed it'd be a day just me, mom & my sister. And that would have been fine & all. But you know i love time with my hubby!! My sister has wanted me & hubby to come to visit forEVER now, because we haven't seen where she currently lives (the last time i visited she lived in an apartment, but she recently moved into a house with her friend jenn). Anyway, i wasn't going to have Brad come this time because of Michelle's surgery; we didn't know what kind of shape she'd be in & all.

Closer to this week i found out Dad was going to go up Saturday, too, so i decided to meet at my parent's house Saturday morning & ride with him. Well, talked to my sister Thursday night - her surgery was that morning - & she was already feeling a lot better. (Though not 100%.) So she's like, "Is brad coming, too?" & i'm like "well...no..." & she's like, "Well, tell him he can come!" So i did. And i thought he'd say no b/c he's not a last-minute-plan kinda guy. But he said yes!

And so we had a great day today. We got up & took our time getting ready, finally meeting my dad around 9:30. Then we drove to my sisters & met her & mom there. We brought my dog Fievel too & mom's dog Molly was there (plus my sister's dog Bali), so it was a full house! It was fun, though.

I love being with my family. We just lounge around & enjoy hangin out. We don't have to go anywhere or do anything special. Just talk. Lay around. Eat. HAHA. Just a good ol' time. I also made my Sausage Potato Soup. It was okay. I usually use Kielbasa or Polish sausage, which it calls for, but my sister told me not to get that because they had a lot of sausage they needed to get rid of. Well, the soup just was different. That Kielbasa sausage apparently flavors it really nice! Idk. But they enjoyed it. (It probably didn't help that when i went to put Splenda in my tea- i accidentally put it in my SOUP!!!!?! ONLY ME! HAHAHA!)

Anyway, we finally decided it was time to go. But dad went home with mom, so it was just me & hubby on the way home. We stopped at the bookstore (quickly because we had Fievel in tow! Probably the shortest bookstore trip we've ever managed to make, only because the dog was with us!!) I read Emily Giffin's "Love the One You're With" (a novel) & really enjoyed her writing, & later read her book "Something Borrowed". So i finished that the night before.. so i HAD to stop & get her other book "Something Blue"!!

We came home & had chicken noodle soup & grilled cheese sandwiches. :) (Great day for soup, y'all!) Then we watched the original FAME. It was good. I was surprised Opie was in it!!! & detective Munch from Law & Order! HAHA! It was good & i'm sure it it's much cooler to like the original better than the remake, but i gotta be honest- i like the remake a lot better...just sayin. :)

Anyway- then Brad gave me a long back massage. It was NICE. I love my husband. I swear, i'm more in love with him now than when we got married! & that's saying a lot because we were ridiculously in love THEN! HAHA! :) He's the best.


So that's my day!! Night!


Friday, October 23, 2009

Turkey Pot Pie

Ok, normally, i make Chicken Pot Pie. Not Turkey. But i had a pound or so of Turkey Breast Cutlets in the freezer that i could use. So i found this dish in my "Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook" (truly one of my most used wedding gifts!) & tried it. They call it "One Dish Turkey & Biscuits". I call it "Turkey Pot Pie". Same difference. :)

This was delicious. And really- it'd be a good use of your Thanksgiving Turkey leftovers. :)

One-Dish Turkey & Biscuits

1 cup Chicken Broth
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (1 medium onion)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery (1 stalk)
1 1/2 cups frozen peas & carrots
1 1/2 cups milk
3 T all-purpose flour
2 cups cubed cooked turkey breast
1/2 tsp dried sage, crushed
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 1/4 packaged biscuit mix (i used Grands instead. See my note at the bottom.)
2 tsp dried parsley flakes, crushed

1. In medium saucepan, stir together broth, onion & celery. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Add peas & carrots; return to boiling.

2. In a smal bowl, stir together 1 cup of the milk & flour until smooth; stir into vegetable mixture in saucepan. Cook & stir until thickened & bubbly. Stir in turkey, sage, & pepper. Transfer to a 2-quart casserole dish.

3. In a small bowl, combine biscuit mix, the remaining 1/2 cup milk & the parsley. Stir with a fork until moistened. Spoon biscuit mixture into 8 mounds on top of the hot turkey mixture in the casserole dish. Bake, uncovered, at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.*

*Instead of using a biscuit mix, i used one of those rolls of 8 biscuits. Grands, reduced fat is what i used. You know, over where they keep the cookie dough. :P This eliminates the beginning of step 3. I just put my 8 Grands biscuits on top of the turkey mixture & maked until the biscuits were golden brown, about 15 minutes. The turkey part is already done, so it's okay that you don't do the 20-25 minutes.

Nutritional Info here. Please note that the nutritional info does NOT include the biscuits.


So good!!!! Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Old Timey Coffee

I recently wrote a blog where i told you to Ask Me Anything.

Natalie asked,
"How does Brad make his coffee? I'm dying to know what makes it so special!"


Ahhhhh, Natalie. So glad you asked!!! For those of you who don't know, i am constantly talking about my husband's coffee. Because, I am telling you, it is THE best. coffee. ever.
SO good. And all it is? Is ordinary Community Coffee.


We drink Community Coffee at work, too & it is just NOT that good. Not because it's Community (they rock) but because i really don't think we make it right. Or something. My parents also drink Community & it's good, but it is still nothing compared to the coffee Brad makes. But that's because the secret is not the kind of coffee.


The secret is in the pot.



I personally like to call it: "Old timey coffee". :) Brad uses a good old fashioned drip pot. I've recently become aware that this is called French Drip. I have no idea, but i'm telling you. It's the best!!! His parents & sister make it the same way & it is SO good!! :)

Just to make it clear how much i love his coffee... before marriage, i was pretty into Starbucks. I loved it. I went a lot. I was addicted. Since we've been married - 11 months now- i might have had Starbucks 4 times. (Sorry, Starbucks. I still love you.) By the way, no comments from the peanut gallery about drinking Starbucks & how CC's is so much better! Obviously, i know CC's is delicious or i wouldn't be choosing Community at home every morning!! ;) But i do also love me some Starbucks!

So anyway. If you're ever in the neighborhood, give me a call & i will invite you in & have Brad make a fresh pot! Actually, more than likely we'll already have one ready for you! HAHA! :) Brad is always saying, "I think i'll make some coffee". I've never seen someone drink so much coffee! I've always been a morning coffee drinker myself. But man, this stuff. Addiction. I just love it. Brad doesn't always have time to make it in the morning before work. In which case i have coffee at work & ... it just doesn't do it for me! But if he does make it before work, i pour some in a travel mug & take it along!! :)


Megan having her first taste of Brad's coffee...& me obviously excited about it, too!

By the way, it's not to late to Ask Me Anything!


Appreciation!


Have you ever read Sheila's blog, "To Love Honor and Vaccuum"? I just recently began reading her blog & I love it! It's great! On Wednesdays, Sheila has a segment called "Wifey Wednesdays". Today, she talked about Appreciation. She talked about how, yes, sometimes our hubbies do things we don't like. Sometimes they do things that get on our nerves. Sometimes they come home from work & do nothing but sit in front of the TV. And that sometimes we get resentful about this (& become the nagging wife) because we're the ones cooking, cleaning, washing their clothes, fixing them lunch, bathing the kids, etc. But then she said that nagging, fussing, & criticizing will NOT help things!

Sheila says,
"But people don't thrive on condemnation; they thrive on appreciation. I honestly don't know what we think: do we figure that if we criticize enough, or withhold affection, or complain, that they'll magically change? Or are we trying to punish them for not being what we want them to be? If we do, we simply push them away, and we end up punishing ourselves."

I so agree with this. I remember, years ago, noticing how so many of my friends talked really mean to their husbands. I did not get this at all. I thought, "aren't you supposed to love & cherish your husband? Isn't he supposed to be your best friend?" It really bothered me. After some time, I became friends with a lady who was married with some kids & she & her husband had SUCH a great relationship. They talked to each other about everything. And they really got along. Just like best friends. And i really admired that, because lately, before that, it seemed like all the couples i knew did nothing but fight. I determined that i would NOT be the nagging wife. (& i'm not. & i pray that i never ever become one!)

Anyway, Sheila's assignment for Wifey Wednesday is, "What do you Appreciate about your husband?" And, wow...well, i don't know where to start!

I love my husband. Yes, we're still newlyweds (next month is our 1 year!), but if your first year is supposed to be the hardest, then WOW, what smooth sailing we have in store! HAHA. Oh, yes, i know there are ups & downs in marriages, but we are such a team, such best friends, so on the same page, that i pray we continue in this path.

One thing i appreciate about Brad is that he is so kind & thoughtful. He always listens to me. Even when i'm whining (which, honestly, can be a lot. I do a lot of whining. Luckily, he (usually) thinks it's cute! HAHA!). Even when i'm sad. Even when i'm complaining about work for the 349030th time! He just genuinely loves me & listens to me. He understands & he never tries to "fix" things, something men are known for! He always just listens, usually with his arms wrapped around me or while rubbing my back or playing with my hair. :) He is a total sweetheart.
Another thing he does is wait on me. Not only am a a whiner, but i can also be lazy! Ok, i'm not REALLY...but you know how you'll sit down & forget something you needed? I am constantly like, "Baby, i forgot _______! Could you grab it for me?!" & he always will. No complaints or frowns or stomps. He is always, "SURE!" & does it right away. He always asks if i want anything & then he will get it for me. And he ALWAYS takes the dog out - MY dog - (well, his stepdog!) - even if he doesn't feel like it. I don't even ask. He just does it.

He also talks to me & includes me in everything. If he's considering something about our finances or about the house or anything, he talks to me to see what i think. He truly values my opinion & shares any thoughts with me if they concern me (or if he think it might).

There's so much more that i could include about hubby, but this blog would be too long! Just quickly- He makes me laugh (all the time), he lets me read to him (even if it's chic lit, just because i feel like it), he watches movies with me (even when he's not the biggest movie buff), he goes to plays with me (even when that's time he could be in his studio playing music), & he encourages me in my weightloss efforts (while still making me feel beautiful)! 
He's just such a winner, really. :) & i am so thankful.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lessons for my Kids

I recently wrote a blog titled "Just Ask" where i told you to Ask Me Anything.

Amanda asked,
"In previous blogs you've talked about wanting children. My question is, what lessons in life have you learned that you will pass on to your children in hopes they will learn from your experiences?"

Ok. Four things immediately come to mind. I am sure there are MANY more. I've thought of so many things over the years, but now i'm being put on the spot! But here are four...


1. SELFLESSNESS
One thing i want to teach my kids about is how blessed they are & how so many other people are less fortunate. I know this would seem like a given, but i've watched a lot of kids throughout the years, and i've known a lot of kids who shocked me with their smug attitude, an attitude of complete selfishness that says "you owe me". Kids these days EXPECT to be given EVERYTHING, and I refuse to have children who have that kind of mentality. Telling them "you know, kids in Africa are starving" when they don't want to eat their vegetables is NOT enough. Sometimes the best way to learn is by SEEING it. I believe in taking kids on missions trips. Not necessarily to another country, but definitely to a nearby soup kitchen or orphanage.

2. IMAGINATIVE PLAY
Oh, yes. I will be one of those moms that restricts her kids to a certain amount of time in front of the TV & a certain amount of time in front of any video game devices they may have! I certainly will. Because i remember the days of being in elementary school & playing outside. Playing in the woods. Pretending i was a mom or a teacher or a singer. Pretending i was a vetinarian. Standing in front of the mirror making up choreography, pretending i was a choreographer. Those days were such fun & i'm a big believer in using the imagination. Not sitting in front of a TV for umpteen mindless hours. I mean, of course, they can watch a little TV. I'm not going to be all crazy about it! But i do want my kids to enjoy using their imagination. And to have a lifetime of memories because of it!

3. HEALTH. HEALTH! HEALTH!!!
Ok. So. I'm overweight. I recently began working hard to change this, and so far have lost 7.5 pounds. Not a lot, but a start. (You can read more about my weight loss journey in my other blog). Now, rest assured... this won't be something i shove down their throat. I will not be psycho & end up with kids with horrible self images & eating disorders. I just mean that I will be their example. You may laugh now, but i am working on this. I have not had a coke since 2008 & i have not had fast food in over a month. I am eating more veggies, more fruits, more grilled meats, less carbs, less sugar, less JUNK. By the time i have children i expect to be fit & i expect to have developed some good habits. MOST of this will be leading by example. Even though i am making positive changes, i know that i have missed out on some things because of my weight. There have been a lot tears & frustration & anger over my weight. And even though i have a handle on it now, it will be a year or two before i reach my goal weight! I do not want my children to have to go through life like this! It's much better to go through it fit & healthy, living life as God intended. Another part of this is how you talk to your kids. Telling a tween that she needs to lose her baby fat, or that she is chubby, or that she is big-boned, or that she will never meet a guy if she doesn't get skinny --> these things do NOTHING to make a girl want to lose weight. Ok, I'm wrong. They do make her WANT to lose weight. But instead of motivating her to do something about it, these comments will plunge her into the depths of self-hate & self-destruction & she will turn to food. i know from experience. My kids will hear nothing negative about the way they look. I want them to have positive self-images. So much is lost when you hate yourself. And that makes life extra hard for a teenager (being a teen is already hard enough!).

4. ACCEPTANCE
I love God. I want my kids to have a relationship with God. However, i do NOT want my children to adopt certain attitudes from people in the church. I have to be careful here, because i do not want to get into a discussion of my beliefs. That's just not the point of this blog. But i DO think that there is a LOT of judgement in churches today. Even in those churches that people would call LOVING or FREE. I believe there is a little of this in EVERY church, at least to some degree. And i do not want my child to adopt this kind of attitude. Part of this means that i want my child to accept EVERYONE. This does not mean that they agree with them. This does not mean that we tell them that they are right in how they live. It just means that we treat them with kindness, respect & love. NO MATTER WHAT. No matter how they look or how they behave. The person in question may be into all kinds of sinful behavior. I do not care. I do not believe that ridiculing or shunning people is helpful. Assumptions is another type of judgement that is often found in the church that i do not like. This is hard to explain, but have you ever missed church a few times & people assumed that meant you weren't right with God? That you were somehow backsliding? Or have you ever been sick & people thought maybe there was sin in your life? Or have you been down on your luck financially & people assumed it was because you weren't tithing?! These kinds of thoughts are ridiculous & have nothing to do with Jesus & the way He treated people. And as much as i love people in the church...I want my kids to be a little less like that in this regard!


That's all i've got for now! Thanks, Amanda! Everyone else... please go here to Ask Me Anything!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Moving Around

In a recent blog, I asked you to Ask Me Anything.
100togo asked,


"Did you move growing up, or did you always live in the same place? Did you always live in the same town?"

It took me so long to respond to this because I seriously was going to go snap a picture of the 2 houses i grew up in & post it in my blog! HAHA! Spoken like a true blogger, huh?! ;)

But i just know that i won't get around to driving by the first house i lived in, nor my parent's home, even though neither one is too far from where i live now!

But no. Not a lot of moving when i was growing up. My dad graduated college in engineering & was offered a job here, in Dallas, Texas & in a tiny Mississippi town about an hour from my grandparents (who live in North Mississippi, in a small town called Grenada). I have thought before about how funny it is - how my dad could have made a different decision & i could have had a very different life. I have been so blessed & so happy & have loved my life in Baton Rouge. Funny to think about what might have been different. Crazy! But cool how God orders our steps. :)
Baton Rouge. I am in this exact spot on my way to work every morning!
That building is the state capital building.

I have lived in the same town my whole life. I live in the capital of Louisiana (no, the capital is not New Orleans! You would think everyone knows this!). It is a pretty large city, but has a lot of surrounding suburbs. From the time i was born until I was about 9, i lived on Leadale Drive. Funny, i still remember the address & telephone number! When i was 9, we moved to a house in Central. Central is just a suburb of Baton Rouge. The house we moved into when I was 9 is where I stayed until i moved out on my own at age 21. My parents still live there today.

So, no, not a whole lot of moving in my growing up years. The two houses are just 20 minutes away from each other. After moving out on my own, though, i did a LOT of moving around! My parents are SO TIRED of helping me & my sister move! HAHA!
Just to give you an idea...

  • Age 21 - moved out on my own for the first time with 3 girlfriends. I'll call them A, B & C. We lived in a cute little home near LSU. Such fun!! :)
  • A year or two or three later (no clue- my mind is fuzzy on those details!), me & friend C (who is also my BFF) moved out of that house & into our own apartment.
  • Sometime later, friend C got engaged & friend D moved in with me to take her place!
  • Sometime after that... haha... we met friend E...LOVED her... she needed a place to live & we didn't mind cheaper rent (rent divided by three is better!), so we found a 3 bedroom at a different complex & moved there!
  • Age 26 - ok so i remember this age! At this time, friend D got engaged & friend E decided to move back home because she was starting nursing school full-time, so i moved back home to my parents. Living by yourself is NOT CHEAP & i just couldn't afford it.
  • Age 27 - about all i could take of living back home! (Love you, mom & dad!!) My dear friend (who is actually friend A!!) called me. We were the only ones still single in our age group after all this time!! She was like "will you be my roomie again!?!?" & i was like "YES!" We were BOTH back home because everyone else had gotten married! So we moved out together in a cute apartment.
  • Age 28 - same roomie decided she wanted to buy a place instead of rent. She thought she found a place, so we gave our apartment notice that we were leaving... then the place she bought fell through. So we ended up finding a different apartment just while she was looking for somewhere else. We lived there out of boxes (we didn't unpack because we knew we wouldn't be there long!). We did NOT like that place!! But thankfully, a few months later, Friend A found the cutest condo in the perfect location & bought it. We lived there for about a year i guess....until we both met, dated, & got engaged to our future husbands!

Newlyweds Aimie & Jason with us at our wedding!! :)

It's so funny. We were the last of our friends to get hitched. And we always said, "what will we do if you get married before me?! & i'm still single!? who will be my roomie?!" Well, God was pretty nice about that:) HAHA. She met & started dating her guy, Brad & i got back in touch (we've known each other forever) & started dating, then got engaged. Then, they got engaged. Then they got married! & then we got married! I moved out of that condo about 2 weeks before their wedding date in early October. I moved all my stuff to my fiance's place, except for some clothes, & stayed at his sister's until OUR wedding date, November 14th!

Well, i think i've just about gotten off track here! It's cool thinking about how you got from place to place & why, and seeing how all your steps were ordered by the Lord! I have to end this with a favorite pic of me & Friend A!!

Me & Aimie - Florida vacation in 2007

It's not too late to ask me a question & you know... I would love it if you would!! Anything! Just go here & post a comment with your question!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

On My Island...

I recently wrote a blog telling you to ask me anything.
Ashlee asked,

"If you were on a deserted island, what three items would you bring?"

Er...these questions always stump me. I mean, only three items?! Are you kidding me?! ;)

But, to answer the question, these are my three items:

1. A sleeping bag
Yes, because, you know... I'm not really a sleep-in-the-sand type of girl. I do love a cozy bed. And if i'm on an island, i guess a sleeping bag is the next best thing! This is a funny looking one... I googled women's sleeping bags & they all look like this now. Funny. It's been just that long since i've ordered myself a sleeping bag. Not really any need of one these days. BUT... if i thought i might be landing in a deserted island... I'd make sure to have one of these with me!!

2. The Kindle
Oh, yes. The Kindle. Have you heard of her? Well, she's this nifty little object that holds hundreds...maybe even thousands?... of books. Amazon sells these things & they ARE pretty cool. My coworker has one & i've looked at it & it's really neat. It's lightweight & easy to use. And...you could probably take one in a business meeting & read & they'd never know. But i'm not saying SHE does this! Anyway, I've never bought one of these or have ever really wanted one, simply because i love an actual book in my hand & i love having bookshelves full of books. However... i love to read. And if i were on a deserted island for an extended amount of time, i would have to have some reading material. Sure, there could be lots to do on a deserted island. Surely i'll be busy trying to kill fish & teaching myself how to cook them, swimming, creating my own tents, and maybe, i don't know, a little time travel (sorry...starting to think of my favorite TV show, LOST... i can't help it!) but there has to be quite a bit of down time. So I'm thinking I would definitely need a Kindle. I could have endless books to read. Never get bored! It'd be wonderful! And not only tons of novels, but i could also read about, you know, HOW to kill & cook those fish and HOW to get to safety when on a deserted island... (though i'd have to have downloaded all these books onto my Kindle before my desert island experience. But i'm just saying...)

3. Hubby.
I mean. You didn't think you could send me to a deserted island without HUBBY, did you?! I'm sure this is probably against the rules. But i'm just tellling you. I could not survive on a desert island without my hubby. (Ok, maybe i could SURVIVE. But quite unhappily!) He's just a great person to have around, he is always helping around the house (so of course he'd help around an island!), he protects me, he listens to me whine, he would play with my hair or give me back rubs when i'm sad & tired of being on an island & he would definitely learn how to capture fish so that i could cook them! Most of all, we have a lot of fun together, just being silly or delirious together. It would definitely make time on a desert island go by a bit faster! (Hey, do they make those sleeping bags big enough for two?! Just wondering...)

Coincidentally, this picture of Brad was taken on an island in Cozumel called Passion Island. We went there for an excursion on our honeymoon. :)

So there you have it, folks! My desert island! Doesn't sound too bad, does it?!

By the way, Hubby just said i should put our trailer as one of the three. Just our trailer as is. Now...isn't that brilliant?! Why didn't i think of that?!

Be sure to go here to ask me anything! This has been fun! I think you should ask some more questions! Serious ones, funny ones, it doesn't matter! Anything you want to ask!







in 10 years...

 I recently posted a blog telling you to ask me anything. Brooke asked,

"Where do you see yourself in 10 years?"

Wow. Such a great question. I could go on & on with this one!! I've always been a big daydreamer. In 10 years i'll be 41. We will probably have 3 school age children. We'll definitely still be happily married. :) We will be in better shape, too (as i have completely changed my lifestyle as of the last month & lost 7 pounds so far... this will CONTINUE so in 10 years i definitely see myself in great shape! You can read more about this in my weight loss blog). We will have a house, too, finally! :) But as far as career, there are so many things to think about...

I have mentioned lately that i think i will go back to school to be a teacher. And i still would like to do that. But the thing is, i want to be a GREAT teacher. And i don't know if i would be that good at it... I hope so. But i know it's a lot of work.

I also still think about acting professionally. How crazy is that?! It's not as impossible as you might think. No, I've settled down. I'm not really thinking of going off to NYC or anything. But i could get an agent locally, get headshots done & go on auditions for local stuff. Who knows...

What i actually see happening more likely, though, is getting my degree in teaching & then having the opportunity to teach. And not only teach in a school, but i bet that might give me an opportunity to DIRECT plays. Even without a theatre degree I think i could do some directing in a community theatre setting (with an education degree). I KNOW that i would love that. I KNOW that i could do that. It's something to think about.

But mostly... I want to stay home with my kids. :) My husband, who is a musician, has wanted to own a studio. He works countless hours in his studio now, doing things to get it ready to eventually be a studio where people can come in & record music or make demos or where he can orchestrate film scores or teach piano lessons.... so much he could do! I would LOVE to be a stay-at-home mom & for Brad to be able to own this studio. I could help him with the paperwork aspect of it, help him run it, so that he gets to live his dream... while at the same time living my own dream of being a stay-at-home mom.

I don't know if this at all answered the question... more of a pondering sort of blog! I love to think about the future & what God may have in store! What are your dreams?

Don't forget to go to my "Just Ask" blog & leave a comment asking me a question!

Ok, so maybe THIS house is a little far-fetched!
But i definitely want a house long before 10 years from now! :)


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Greatest Accomplishment

Just today i wrote a blog telling you to just ask me anything. My friend Laura asked this:

"What is your greatest accomplishment so far in life?"

My first thought was to say something super spiritual, like getting baptized at 11 and never getting involved in certain types of behavior, or teaching a bunch of troubled teenage girls the word of God, or waiting until marriage to have sex. But i immediately changed my mind, realizing that, even though those are good things, they have nothing to do with ME. Those are things that I could not have done at all without God's help. Those are things that His grace & mercy & strength ALONE are what helped me. Those accomplishments were soley because of HIM working through me!

So, on a lighter note, but just as important to me, I am going to have to say that my greatest accomplishment would be when i performed as Little Becky Two Shoes in Urinetown, the musical.




Takes a trip down memory lane looking at these pictures. I LOVED every second of every minute of being a part of this show. That was October of 2007 - 2 years ago - & people are still talking about how we wish we could do it just ONE MORE TIME! SUCH a blast.

But the reason i call this my greatest achievement is because it was largely out of my comfort zone! Yes, i LOVE to act & sing & perform, but i am also naturally shy around people i don't know, intimidated by directors i respect & by actors who i feel are better than me or more experienced. I am probably more nervous in auditions than anyone else, but i KNEW for THIS audition, i would really have to let go of all inhibitions & just go for it! And i did it!

Urinetown, the musical is a bit CRAZY (as i'm sure you can tell by its title!). It's fun, quirky, with a really smart (but wacky!) sense of humor. It's about a town that has to start PAYING to pee. They do it, day in & day out until this dorky kid starts a revolution. I know it sounds kind of gross, but it's HILARIOUS. Trust me. Even my super-conservative dad enjoyed it.

I played Little Becky Two Shoes. She was a psycho crazed killer lady - haha- & to do this i had to forget about any shyness! I did NOT want to be the weakest link in the show. People always talk about the weakest link (if there is one) & i did not want to be that person. I knew i had it in me to do the part well, i just had to make myself do it! That makes it sound like a chore, but it's not. It can be hard, but it is SO fun & rewarding! I always wanted to play the sidekick roles. Not the lead, but the fun quirky (or in this case, psycho!) characters. I wanted to BE little becky, inside & out. It was hard work. It was definitely me jumping WAY out of my comfort zone. But i did it.

& i am eternally grateful for the director for casting me in this role. I had a solo. And it was FUN! I remember once doing my solo at a rehearsal & my director said to me, "no don't step back, step all the way downstage" & so i did. But the next time i did it i stepped back again! He was like, "No! You have a tendency to step back when you peform. Come all the way downstage & go for it!" I will never forget that. I didn't even realize i was stepping back but that was definitely showing the way i felt- self-conscious. I began to let go of that & i gave my all in that role, without being timid.

I do not mean to say that God didn't help me in this- He was there all the way rooting for me! I believe He gave me this opportunity so that i could kick off some of my shyness! But I had to actually do it. I had to go for it. I had to force myself to drop the inhibitions & fears & do it. I am so thankful that i did or i truly would have missed out. I hope for more challenging fun roles in the future!

Please be sure to comment on this blog & ask me anything!

Agnes of God

Blanche (Dr. Livingstone), Me (Stage Manager), Leslie (Mother Miriam Ruth), Bill (director), Lauren (Agnes) & Mrs. Kathy (props lady)

Agnes of God is going really well. It is intense & i love watching it. I hope in years to come i have the opportunity to perform in this show. I was a bit too young for the doctor & even MORE too young for the Mother! I didn't feel like i was "right" for Agnes. But oh, how i would love to act in this show!!

For some reason, i like stage managing straight plays more so than musicals. It's just easier. Lot less to worry about. Lot less stress. I like the smaller casts, too. Musicals are great fun, too, just more stress over a longer time period! This cast has been wonderful. I already knew Lauren, who plays Agnes & i love her. Blanche & Leslie are both newcomers to BRLT & they are both very sweet & fun- & did i mention talented!?

Today the review for the show came out! I was so excited! They got a great review!! You can read it here! Or go here to order your tickets! This is the last weekend!!


Just Ask!


Yes, just comment on this blog & ask me anything. Is there anything you've been wondering about me?
My life? My choices? Opinions, favorites, hobbies?! Just ask!


I will write a blog answering your question very soon!


My friend did this recently & I have really enjoyed reading her blogs where she answered questions that were asked!!


So, please do comment & ask me anything! Even if you never ever comment on my blog! (You do not have to have a blog to comment on mine!)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Car Trouble - Fun?

Remember recently when i talked about how everything was falling apart? Well, Saturday, i realized i'm BROKE. I was in tears for a lot of the day, just depressed & upset about money & how all of it was going to repairs. I got an oil change on Saturday & we also decided that Monday we'd get new tires on Brad's car & Tuesday on my car. Then, i left the show Saturday night & my car wouldn't start. I was like...'are you kidding me?! come on!" Thankfully, the cast of Agnes of God was still around, plus Zac & CJ (theatre friends who were in the audience that night). They, in addition to Mrs. Kathy, the props lady, all stayed with me & waited till my husband got there. It was so sweet. I felt bad because they waited with me for awhile & it was late. But, man! I have got to say... i have never had THAT MUCH FUN while having car trouble!! We laughed ourselves silly! (It's because Zac is a comedian. I already knew that. It was my first time meeting CJ, but we were instant friends & he had me rolling laughing!! Thankful for good friends who can turn what would normally be a frustrating situation into a happier one!!

Pics from Saturday night -
Zac & CJ getting out the jumper cables

Zac can't resist a moment to strike a pose!


Me & the cast of Agnes of God: Leslie, Blanche & Lauren


CJ, Mel, Zac & Lauren

Ok. CJ was hilarious. He & Zac were definitely entertainment as we waited for hubby. CJ pretended he was a talk show host & interviewed the actors, the props lady, the stage manager (me) & even Zac to get the audience perspective of the play. He was HILARIOUS! We were howling laughing!!

Finally, my hubby & his dad came to help me!! All my friends left & Brad's dad worked on my car for a bit. We finally got it started & got it home. Today Brad's dad is going to take it to see what's wrong & get it fixed. We are so thankful he volunteered to do this because we both really can't take off of work right now (as we've missed a bit lately & have vacation coming up next month!).

And as far as money goes, i know it will all be alright! Just sucks that it all has happened right before our trip! But i know it will work out. We money manage- so it won't be the same (as bad) as my single days when i had no idea how to handle money!!


Easy & Delish!

Seriously? I'm getting the hang of this cooking thing. Not that the following recipe is anything spectacular. It's just that i've always been paranoid about following a recipe exactly!! I kind of would freak out when i'd ask mom for a recipe & she'd say "oh, you just throw this & this & this in a pan & put it on, oh, about 350, & then if it's not done, you might need to..." No. Must have an exact recipe.

But lately i've been getting over this & have been able to just throw things together. Now, i'm a little embarrassed saying all this, because the following recipe is so simple, you'll probably think, "Seriously? Everyone knows how to do that." But i'm going to blog it anyway. In case it might help you. In case you are clueless like i am was.

Parmesan Chicken & Rosemary Potatoes

Get two casserole type dishes. Spray the bottom of both of them with Pam. Preheat the oven to 375.

In a bowl, mix the following:
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup italian breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic salt

Arrange chicken tenderloins (mine were pre-cut, making this dish SUPER easy) in bottom of baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over them. Pick up one at a time & dip in bread crumb mixture & then place back in the dish.

Cut up red potatoes into quarters. Leave the skins on. Throw in the other casserole dish. Drizzle olive oil on them. Sprinkle dried rosemary & parmesan cheese on the potatoes.

Put both dishes in the oven at the same time & bake for 1 hour.


VOILA!!! An hour to bake is nothing when the prep time takes almost no time at all!! And i am telling you- really yummy. Everytime i've ever made chicken that i had to dip in breadcrumbs or something... it always turned out yucky. Or just okay. But those were on the stove, this was in the oven. And they were SO yummy & tender. =)

ENJOY! :)


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dear Mrs. Helen

Yesterday was the funeral of dear Mrs. Helen (who i already miss).

It was beautiful & sweet, sad but also peaceful. And honestly, it really was good for me or for anyone else she left behind. Talking to so many people who knew & loved her, catching up with people i hadn't seen in awhile! Mrs. Helen was such a God-lover, such a giver, she had such a heart for the poor, the hurting, & the mistreated. She was always reaching out to others. But these last few months were just too much for her, i think. I don't really want to get into theology or anything, but let me just say that i am not one of those who believe that if you commit suicide you go to hell. Never have believed that. The Bible says there is only one unpardonable sin & suicide is not it! & that's as far as i will go with theology. ;) But there is no doubt at all in my mind that Mrs. Helen is now running in heaven, full of the joy & life that cancer & depression took away from her (except even MORE, of course, since she's with Jesus!).

The song i had to sing went well. I had originally been told i was singing first & i was glad. I told hubby - if i can just hold off on any tears until AFTER my song, i will be okay. (Seriously, crying & singing do not at all go well together! & i wanted to make Mrs. Helen proud, you know what i mean?! I mean, this is her favorite song that i was asked to sing). So then we found out i was singing second. & I was like "oh dear. I just cannot cry. i can cry after the song!"). Well, first Mrs. Dory spoke. She has been Mrs. Helen's best friend for 55 years! Since they were in 2nd grade. I met Mrs. Dory through the Funderburks & she is really my role model. Such an awesome woman of God, with a fun & outgoing but very genuine spirit. LOVE HER. She spoke about how the Funderburks were there for her when her son died in 1983 (he was 8) & she said that Mr. Bobby (Mrs. Helen's husband) had written her a poem when her son died. So she read it to us. Very ironic but so sweet. Then, my friend Lizzy sang Amazing Grace. BEAUTIFUL VOICE, that Lizzy!

Amy spoke next. She is my dear friend for 11 years but i've rarely seen her cry. So she spoke about her mom & she read a card she found in Hallmark that said exactly what she wanted to say to her mom. It was a happy birthday card & she said, "I know it may not be mom's earthly birthday, but it is her heavenly birthday". I am telling you that card said exactly what her mom would have wanted to hear from Amy & i know it made her smile! But it made me cry! & so i was like trying not to all out cry & get it under control til after the song! HAHA.

The next thing, Kinley (Amy's 7 year old) went up with her 2 cousins (who are really little, one's maybe a little older than Kinley & one is about 3 or 4). They each sang a song they'd written for Mrs. Helen. I am telling you- it was SUPER cute. And i could just see Mrs. Helen's expression watching that! She would love it! They were adorable! & it kind of made the atmosphere lighthearted. :)

Next, a pastor spoke & he said some very important things that needed to be said. Suicide can be confusing & is definitely heart-wrenching. You never know what goes through someone's heart & mind, where they are & how bad they are hurting. But he said some things that I know meant a lot to the people listening & they definitely meant a lot to me. I started to cry & i looked at Brad & said, "He's going to make me cry right before my song!" I just knew i was next. & sure enough i was. But it was okay. It went well. No tears. Just singing. HAHA. I was really nervous & shaky but i think it was ok. The song is called "LIGHTHOUSE". An OLD country gospel song! SO OLD that i found an ELVIS version! HAHA! Not my favorite style, but it was Mrs. Helen's favorite. :)


We honestly had a good time even though it was emotionally exhausting. I just love that family & am thankful that i know them. I am thankful that i knew Mrs. Helen. She has had many conversations with me & i've just loved her so much. She's a total sweetheart. She always talked about God with me & about her hopes for her daughter & granddaughter. She sometimes jokingly (but lovingly) called me her "other daughter".




Love you, Mrs. Helen. Will miss you.