Monday, January 31, 2011

a resolutions update!

A lot of people say that they don't make New Year's Resolutions, because what's the point? Nobody ever sticks with them. Well, i think part of the reason they don't "stick" is because a year is a long time! You forget about your goals. All the more reason to write them down & revisit them each month! :)

So...it's January 31st. How am i doing?! I've decided to post monthly reviews at the end of each month in order to stay focused & get back to my resolutions if i realize i'm slipping up! So far, so good, though!

MEL'S 2011 New Year RESOLUTIONS

1. Read the Bible in a Year = A+!!!
RIGHT ON SCHEDULE! I haven't missed a day yet. It is AMAZING that i have kept up with this so far! One night, i went to bed, turned out the light & suddenly remembered i hadn't read my Bible that day! I turned the light on & began to read. Brad said, "just read it tomorrow", but i refused. That's how i get off track! I usually read the old testament, psalms & proverbs in the morning & the new testament portion that evening. I'd read it all in the morning but i usually run out of time!

2. Be Healthy = A+!!!
I have to give myself an A+ on this as well. You can read more details on my weightloss blog, but so far I have exercised 5 days a week EVERY week, I have quit my Sprite ZERO habit, i have switched out my morning snack (veggies now, not carbs) & i have lost 3.4 pounds. That's in 3 weeks because for some reason i didn't get a starting weight January 3rd. I'm pumped! :)

3. Learn my new camera & take a pic a day on Facebook = ehhh, B-
Well, i have been taking a pic a day & putting it on FB. But i missed 2 or 3 days in there, i think. And i honestly haven't finished reading my manual or learned a lot more about photography. I have taken a ton of pics though & i do love my new camera!!! I'll get to it at some point. :)

4. Save Money = D
We, as a couple, are saving quite well. Saving for our future. A large portion of my paycheck goes towards bills, debt, & savings - to the joint account that Brad is in control of. THAT savings is going quite well. However, i have my own account just for gas, spending money, vet/groomer, etc. I was wanting to start saving my Manship money. I haven't much at all. And that is where the D comes in.

5. ORGANIZE = A
Well, i did go through our closets & organize the kitchen cabinets which was enough for January. I need to add on to this each month, though! :)

6. Be on time = B+!!
So excited! Okay, if you saw this post, you know that i've been struggling with making it to work on time. I told Dusty, a coworker that is the first person i see when i come in to work, to make me pay her 50 cents every time i am late. I have only had to pay her 3 times! That is AWESOME! Plus, each of those times, i was only 5 minutes late, not my typical 20 (or more!) minutes late! I am doing awesome with this! YAY!

I feel like i'm doing really well so far! :)

I also had a bucket list for 2011. So far I have accomplished a few of them:
1-attending our church regularly - check!
2- i'll be participating in a blog bible study starting this Wednesday!
3- i'm signed up for a 5k on February 19th!
4- I've had one girl's night out so far this year.
5- I have sent snail mail. :)

YAY! How are you doing with your goals lately?! :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Pioneer Woman's Chicken Pot Pie

Saturday Night I tried my first recipe from The Pioneer Woman cookbook! I tried her Chicken Pot Pie. It was delicious. (Unfortunately i couldn't find it on her website to give you the link. I'm sure it's there. But i couldn't find it.)

I promised myself i would try her Perfect Pie Crust, but in the end I just didn't feel like it. Besides, we like biscuits on our pot pies. :) One day i WILL try her pie crust, though! Pinky swear! 

The pot pie was delicious, and a bit different from others I've tried. Very good, though! I wouldn't call it unhealthy either. Full of veggies. If you change the heavy cream out for skim milk, it'd help with the health factor a great deal. Ooooh, and the butter. And the flour. Okay, nevermind. :)


Chicken Pot Pie
*adapted from The Pioneer Woman

3 celery stalks
3 medium carrots, peeled
1 large yellow onion
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/4 cup white wine (optional - i used it)
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground thyme 
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
black pepper to taste
biscuits (or pioneer woman's perfect pie crust)

1. Preheat oven to 400. (I did 350 because I couldn't find ANYWHERE on the page what to preheat the oven to. I just saw it, clear as day, above her first picture of the recipe. Nice. Haha!)


2. Finely dice the celery, carrots & onions (this is extremely helpful if you have one of these mini-preps. Love.). 

3  Melt the butter in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery & peas. Saute until the veggies start to turn translucent, a couple of minutes. 

4. Add the chicken & stir to combine. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the vegetables & chicken & stir to combine. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring gently. 


 (Sorry. I forgot about taking pictures until this point. I'm sure you know what dicing looks like.) ;)

5. Pour in the chicken broth, stirring constantly. Stir in the bouillon cube & wine, if using. The flour will combine with the chicken to create a delicious gravy. 


6. Pour in the cream & stir. Allow the mixture to cook over low heat, thickening gradually, about four minutes. Season with the thyme, salt & pepper. Remove from heat. Taste & adjust seasonings as needed.

7. Pour chicken mixture into a deep pie pan or small casserole dish. 


8. If you are using Pioneer Woman's perfect pie crust, you will need to put it over the mixture now, press the edges in gently, & bake for 30 minutes. If you are using biscuits, you will go ahead & bake without them for 15 minutes. Take out of the oven, top with biscuits (not frozen ones) & bake 12-15 more minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown. (I did 15 more minutes, but my oven was on 350!)


YUM!


a good weekend...

I had a really good weekend. Yay! I took off of work Friday because I wasn't feeling well, so i assumed I'd be stuck in bed most of Saturday & Sunday. Not so! Though we did do a lot of relaxing, I was still able to get out & about. :) Went to a Mary Kay party Friday night, Body BaYou Bootcamp Saturday morning & church today. Nothing terribly exciting, but i'm just glad i wasn't miserably sick this weekend!

My sis-in-law just started selling Mary Kay & her first party was Friday night. Even though i am a total Clinique girl, i found myself loving the Mary Kay products. I even booked a PJ Party for February 19th. I hope some of my friends come. Even if they don't buy anything, she gets something for doing 30 faces in 30 days. I'm trying to help a sista out!! :) (I wish i had a sales/recruiting bone in my body. But i don't. You can make some good money doing Mary Kay!)

Anyway, the party was fun & I got some facewash, moisturizer & eye makeup remover. I have been looking for the perfect makeup remover for awhile, and Mary Kay's is amazing!!

 Jaimie Lynn gettin' down to business! 

 Jaimie with Amy, her director. She was so cute!

I won a prize. It was a lipstick called "pink passion". I like it. It was so funny because during the party, you'd get 1 ticket for asking something about their products & 2 for asking something about their careers. Whoever had the most tickets would win a prize. Well, i didn't ask anything. I never do. (Probably why i didn't do well in school, i never would ask questions!) I'm just not going to do it for whatever reason! Haha! So Jaimie's mom won. But then they did a drawing & i won! I was like, "and i didn't have to ask a single thing! Ha!"

Saturday I almost missed my workout class! I took Nyquil the night before & I just about slept through my alarm! But i made it! (Barely!) Did bootcamp, came home & relaxed. Watched some more of The Big Bang Theory with Brad. It was a beautiful day. I took these right outside our trailer! (The first 2 are unedited & the other 2 i cropped & that's it. Beautiful day!)





LOVE! :) Saturday night I cooked Pioneer Woman's Chicken Pot Pie, which was most delicious! :) Will blog that next. :) Hope you all had a great weekend!!

Shutterfly rocks!

Okay, so if you haven't figured it out by now...Shutterfly is awesome. :)

Back in October or something, they offered bloggers 50 free photo cards if we blogged about them. I did it & got 50 free Christmas cards! :) Awesome deal!

Well, just for doing this post, they sent me another coupon for $25 to use on their site! And today they have a deal for free shipping....so i ordered some cards today for a very low price!!! I saved $36.98!!

Here are the cards i did today.

The picture on the card below is one i took when our family went to Okaloosa Island in September. I have been wanting to use it in a card or something since then. It was just taken with my point & shoot. I absolutely love this shot. My friend Laura helped me brighten up the blues a bit. I love it!!


Thinking Of You 5x7 folded card

Unique party invitations and announcements by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

This next one I also found on Shutterfly's site under Thank You Cards & i love it. :) It's too cute!


Floral Fancy Thank You Card
Create unique thank you cards with Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.


I really appreciate all the great deals I get from Shutterfly! I highly recommend them! :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mama M's 5QF!

Well, i am just sooo glad it's the weekend! I actually stayed home today. Feeling kinda sickly. Hopefully will knock this out before it gets too bad! I got things to do this weekend! :) 

Time for Five Question Friday. Yay!


1. If you had $1,000 to donate to a charity, which one would you choose?
Hmm...definitely something to do with missions &/or children. Some friends from church recently started Operation 20/20, where they are bringing eyeglasses to those in third world countries. Current project is Haiti. I think this is fantastic as i cannot stand to not be able to see! Contacts & eyeglasses are a gift to someone like me. But what if i couldn't afford them? I think this is a great cause! I also would want to give to the Dreamcenter in LA. I went there for missions in 2005 (or 2004?) & love what they are doing there!

2. Snow Days: Do you welcome them happily or are they a pain in your butt?
I welcome them happily, because they do not happen very often here in south Louisiana. We have had about 5 snow days here in my entire life. We get off work when that happens & it doesn't last long. So i enjoy it while it's here!! Might be another 5 or 10 years before we see it again! 

3. What talent do you wish you had & why?
I wish i was a really good dancer.
Oh, why? Because i am mesmerized by dancers. Watching them move on the stage so beautifully & gracefully. Lovely.

4. Are you a news, politics or celebrity junkie?
Nah...used to be a hardcore celebrity junkie. I could not go to a store without picking up a People magazine. I'll still flip through one if i happen to have one, but i never buy them anymore & i am soo out of the loop these days!

5. What is your favorite cocktail? (Are you a beer person, a kiddie cocktail junkie, or perhaps you're more the "Cosmo" kind?! Anything flies...doesn't hafta be alcoholic!)
You know, i always HATED alcohol. Like, just hated it. My sister & mom always got margaritas & i would taste theirs & always thought it was disgusting. Didn't matter what kind or where they got it. I do like wine & occasionally have a glass at home... but that's it. I thought i was just not a "fruity frozen" alcoholic drink type of girl. Well, in November, Brad's cousin got us a huge strawberry daiquiri to share, & omg! I loved it!!  I hardly ever drink alcoholic beverages...in fact, i've never even been drunk. But,  yeah. I'd have to say the Strawberry Daiquiri is my favorite.

Your turn to link up! :  )

Fill in the blanks!

Time to fill in some blanks. Yay!


1. If my house was on fire & i could only grab 3 things, i would grab (assuming that my husband & our dog are safe!) my laptop/hard drive, my new camera (i would be SO UPSET if that was gone!), & a painting my aunt did for me. It's a big beautiful poppy, one of my favorite flowers. She painted it just for me. I would be very sad if it was in a fire. Though i'm sure she could paint me a new one. Right, aunt paula? :)

2. A smell i really like is the inside of a coffee shop or bakery. Sweet pea body wash. Vanilla. And my hubby's cologne.

3. Something you might not know about me is that i just quit Sprite Zero. Day 5 without it. :)

4. Some of my favorite websites to putter around on are blogger, etsy, and ....i guess facebook.

5. This weekend  I will attend my sister-in-law's Mary Kay party, go to my Body BaYou class, help sell jambalaya for the Race for the Cure, rest, relax, watch some more Big Bang Theory, & go to church.

6. Nothing makes me happier than waking up & seeing that handsome face next to mine. Getting to snuggle & talk before we start our day (on the weekends). Remembering that God brought us back together after too many years apart!

7. A bad habit I have is not flossing enough...i have veneers... i need to floss more than if i didn't....& biting my fingernails.

Your turn! Link up here!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A heart of gold

American Idol was a tearjerker tonight. Things like this get to me. The last guy that sang was Chris Medina. He is engaged. You should have seen his beautiful fiance in the videos before her accident. Beautiful girl who looked like she was a sweetheart. Well, she was in an accident & they thought she would die. He said he knew she wouldn't die. And she didn't. But she was brain damaged. She is in a wheelchair & just...well, her life has totally changed. Chris is a sweetheart. He said, "What kind of guy would i be if i walked out when she needed me most?" So they are together, and i'm thankful for that. But my heart does break for him. And for her. And for their family. I was crying, and when it was over, i said something about how sad it was & Brad said, "i know...so sad...and it could happen to any of us in a split second." 

Just a reminder how precious life is. I know she lived. But the quality of her life has totally changed.

Anyway, i know a lot of that show is just reality crap & sob stories & people making fools of themselves. But that story touched my heart & that guy has a heart of gold. The judges wanted to meet her & he got excited & said that would make her day. She came in & JLo, Steven Tyler & Randy all got up to meet her. They were so sweet to her.

Actually, it's on youtube already. If you wanna see it.



I'm glad he can sing! ;)

Happy Wednesday!


Time for Wee Bit Wednesday. Hooray! :)

{ONE}
How tall are you?
5'6"

{TWO}
Besides bills, what do you spend most of your money on?
I'm thinkin' Groceries.

{THREE}
What are your three favorite websites?
BLOGGER. ETSY. & hmmm GMAIL? These are the main ones I use anyway.
(Oh, and Facebook, but I wouldn't call that my "favorite". It's a love/hate relationship, really.)

{FOUR}
What brand of tennis shoes do you prefer?
I wear Nike's. I like New Balance, too.

{FIVE}
What food can you absolutely not stand to eat?
Sushi.
GAG!!!! (literally. both times i had it, i gagged.)

{SIX}
How many pairs of jeans do you own?
Three

{SEVEN}
If you could have any job, what would it be?
Stay-at-home-mom
& paid actor or stage manager. :)

{EIGHT}
Have you ever ridden in an ambulance?
No, thank God.

{NINE}
How many pillows do you sleep with?
One, now that i got a comfy fat one that i love. :)

{TEN}
On a scale of 1-5, how organized are you?
4

Your turn! Link up here! :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Things I swear by!


Today, Girl Talk is having a blog hop. I LOVE this week's theme:

Things I Swear By.
"We want to know what really works for you. Is there a lotion, cleaning product, baby product, cooking tip, parenting trick...anything that just really works for you? We want to know about it!"

I love this topic. It's fun. And you can read what others swear by & try them out for yourself!

Here are the things I swear by. :)

It's all pretty random, i suppose. Cooking stuff, face stuff, and just miscellaneous stuff!

1. my sharpie pens
I know this is silly, but i am a pen person. I like pens that write well. These make me write so much neater than when i use any other pens. They bug some people because you have to hold them straight up & down, but that doesn't bother me & i LOVE writing with these. I am always needing more so if you feel like sending me a gift, these will do just fine. Ha!

2. my water bottle

Okay, this isn't my exact water bottle, but i spent WAY too long looking for a picture of it! I'm wondering if they discontinued mine? This one is really close. Mine is purple, double walled & looks just like this one does at the top (except in purple). I love that the straw part folds back in. You can hold it like normal or loop your finger thru the top if your arms are full. It doesn't sweat. I carry it EVERYWHERE. I love it. I got it at Walmart & i forget how much it was, but it was less than $10. Maybe $7? WORTH IT.

3. Dove's Deep Moisture facial lotion

I was on the search for awhile for something like this. I get dry hands in cold weather, but my face also gets really dry in spots. I found this facial moisturizer by Dove & i love it. It's wonderful.

4. Maybelline's Great Lash BIG mascara
Okay, i was on the search for a good mascara forEVER. I didn't want anything that cost too much. Just something i could grab at Wal-mart or Walgreens. I didn't try this one for awhile, because the most popular mascara is this same thing (without the word "big" on it). And that one never worked for me. I hate clumpy mascaras. I hate ones that don't wash easily at the end of the day. And i hate ones that smear when you cry or when your eyes water. i basically like a water-resistant one - it won't run when you cry, but it will come off easily when you wash your face at night (the "waterproof" ones do NOT come off easy at night!) Anyway, at some point i tried this one & it is perfect. I like.

5. Bonne Belle's vanilla frosting lip gloss
Silly, maybe. But delicious. My husband always comments if i kiss him when i have this stuff on! Ha! He loves it! It smells like frosting. (It doesn't taste though, a common misconception!) ;) It's clear but has some shine & it's just wonderful. I get it at Target. And i often sneak it into a gift for a friend. It's a fun addition.

But i also wear plain ol' regular chapstick, which i also swear by. Though i like the fun flavors. :)


6. My Cuisinart mini-prepper (i think that's what it's called!)

 I LOVE this thing. LOVE IT! Okay, as you probably know, i didn't get into cooking until i was engaged. I got this for a wedding gift, & i did register for it, but when i discovered i loved cooking, i also discovered i actually LIKE to chop all those veggies. So this mini-prepper patiently sat in my cabinets, waiting for the day i would try it out. But i never did. Because i like chopping. :)

Then one day, Brad's parents were coming for dinner & i was really short on time. Much as i don't mind the chopping, it does take up a lot of time. So i FINALLY got this baby out & chopped away. And...

I fell in love.

It is wonderful. It chops SUPER finely. It's perfect. It's the best thing EVER. I use it all the time now...even when i'm NOT short on time. ;)

7. My calphalon knife
This is the knife that made me fall in love with chopping all those veggies. I got it free from Bed Bath & Beyond because someone bought me something off my registry that got me this free knife. I LOVE IT. It is awesome. Just, be careful. I chopped the VERY TIP of my thumb off once & now there is no doubt in my mind that if my thumb was any closer, it would have chopped off the entire thing.

EW.

6.  Old Navy Tee - (I can't find these anymore. Sad face.)

I got these at least a year ago - maybe more - from Old Navy. I absolutely love them. I could match them with slacks, with jeans or wear them with workout pants for the gym. I have one in black, one in the blue above & one that is gray/lime/navy striped. i am very sad i can't find anymore. I would have bought them in bulk. The longer length makes me comfortable, especially when working out! It can be embarrassing working out at my size - getting on the ground to do push-ups, etc! Don't need to worry about my shirt riding up. For some reason regular t-shirts look terrible on me. It's because one size is too tight in my tummy but fits perfectly everywhere else, but the next size up is WAY TOO BIG everywhere & looks horrible. So this is a great tee for me. :)

Okay, i think i overloaded you with my favorites! What do you swear by?
Let us know in your own post & link up here!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Harvest Chicken & Potatoes

Dinner tonight was absolutely delicious! If i wasn't full i would have another bowl. I mean, REALLY good! I know it's got "harvest" in the title, which makes me think autumn...but i'd say this is perfect for any cold weather day! You cook it in the crockpot, too. I hope you try it...it's a winner!

Harvest Chicken & Potatoes

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast tenderloins, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
24 ounces small potatoes, scrubbed & halved
2 cups baby carrots, cut into thirds
3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 can (4 ounces) mushrooms, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

1. In a medium-size bowl, stir together chicken, 2 tablespoons of the flour, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt & the pepper. Add to slow cooker.

 I know...you really wanted to see a pic of raw chicken mixed with flour. Ew...

2. Stir in the potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, mushrooms, garlic, 1/2 tsp thyme, sage & the broth. Cover & cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 6 hours. 

 The white stuff is the onion. i used my cuisinart mini-chopper & it chops SUPER FINELY. ;)

 The original recipe calls for sliced mushrooms, but because i like the flavor of mushrooms & not the texture, i prefer to chop mine. p.s. the cuisinart mini-chopper is MY FAVORITE. :)

with the chopped mushrooms!


3. When an hour is left, put the butter in a small bowl. Let it sit out for the next hour so it will soften. Once softened, stir it with the remaining tablespoon of flour until a paste forms. Push the chicken and veggies to one side and whisk paste, remaining salt & thyme in slow cooker. Mix it all together. Cook 1 more hour or until thickened.

Well...it's not very photogenic. But it's DELICIOUS. Try it! : )

yesterday & today

I had a great week! Especially Friday. No surprise there, as Friday is always a better day than Monday thru Thursday. It's just that THIS Friday FLEW by! My workday. It just flew. At noon, it felt like 10 am. I was hoping the afternoon would fly by, too (usually the morning goes fast & the afternoon DRAGS). Well, when it hit four o'clock (i get off at 4:30), i was in total shock. Fastest-flying workday EVER! (I wish every workday was like that!)

Yesterday I was in pain from my workout class. No clue what i did, but my left knee & inner thigh (I guess?!) were in such pain! I relaxed most of the day after my workout, took a nap too, and lots of advil! By supper-time i was a lot better! I am so sore today, but the good kind! Exercising is going so well! And i am eating well too...mostly. :) Set some new goals for myself for the upcoming week. :)


Brad's parents & sister came over last night for dinner & a movie. I made my Sausage Potato Soup. Been awhile since i made that, but it was delish!!! Mmmm. :) I used turkey sausage instead of Kielbasa, because my sis-in-law is allergic to beef (which i discovered is in Kielbasa). It turned out very good, though. I took pictures & updated the recipe (since i had a borrowed pic before!). I really should do that with all my recipes. :)


We watched No Country For Old Men, which was NOT at all what i expected. I love Tommy Lee Jones & Josh Brolin both as actors, but the movie was kinda creepy & we all HATED the ending. I like happy endings, is that so terrible?! Anyway, the acting was superb, the dialogue was good, but...i just wish it had ended a bit happier?! 

 Today we are RELAXING. We skipped church...first time to miss in awhile. We missed a LOT of Sundays last year, and i was so glad to get back to it! I missed it. I never thought I'd be someone who got out of the habit of going to church, but i definitely did from late 2009 through 2010! We went back to my old church & are really enjoying it! But Brad's allergies were HORRIBLE yesterday...he was miserable. And i am exhausted & sore! I just needed a day to sleep in & relax! So we are home, but next week we'll be back! :)


I have been blogging, writing snail mail & reading. I am still reading this book by Karen Kingsbury. I am SO GLAD to finally be reading her books! She is so GOOD! Unlocked is the story about an autistic boy, but it's not just about him...it follows his mom, his dad, his childhood best friend Ella, and her mom. It has chapters from each point of view. It's sooo good & i am really enjoying it! 

In fact, i think i'll go read some more now... ;)

A lot of you commented that this is one of the few books by Karen Kingsbury you HAVEN'T read...i think i picked up a recent one (was published in 2010). I hope you get it! I can't compare it to her other books since it is my first one, but it's a touching story. I am loving it!

Have a great week!





found some lovely walking trails...

My friend Ashlie & I went to the Blackwater Conservatory today after our bootcamp class. Our class is 3 days a week, but it is a strength training class & i have to get in some cardio too! I usually do that on Tuesdays & Thursdays. But there may be times where i can't do that (this week i missed thursday), so we decided to walk sometimes after our class. Anyway, she had been wanting to check out this conservatory, which is on my way home anyway...i agreed to join her! 

I really enjoyed it. It's only a mile walk, but you can do it a few times. ;) It is very quiet. We only saw one guy fishing there & a sweet lovey dovey couple there, walking around. I took some pics...it is a beautiful place! Hard to believe it's only 10 minutes from my house (max!).













Beautiful place!