Thursday, August 29, 2013

Labor Day

Happy Pseudo Friday Everyone!

Today is my last day of work before this lovely four day weekend ahead of us, and I can't wait to hit the road tomorrow on our way to Tybee Island, Ga. Four days to relax and unwind without deadline pressure looming. Yes. Please and Thank You!



Obi will be making the trip with us, so I'm hoping to get him on the beach as well. This poor dog has never been near the ocean, which is absolutely pathetic when you consider we live about 45 minutes from the beach ourselves. Poor pup, he's so unloved.


Yeah right.

I'll be sure to take plenty of pictures and share all about the trip when we get back. Cheers to a fun-filled labor day weekend!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Product Review: Michael Todd True Organics Knu Serum

I was recently contacted by Michael Todd True Organics to review their Knu (prounounced “new you”) Anti-Aging Serum. I’ll admit, at first I was a little skeptical. I’m 23. What business do I have reviewing an anti-aging serum? While my skin is far from perfect, it is also far from showing signs of aging. But, you know what they say. It’s never too early to start preventative care, and I know that I still want to look young as the years on the calendar continue to pass. And this product claims to have antioxidants to protect skin against future damage, so you know I took them up on their offer.




The Knu line of anti-aging products was designed to address the challenges of fine lines, wrinkles and other signs of premature skin aging using active ingredients known for their significant skin-healing, regenerating and repairing properties: Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF), second generation tri-peptides, alpha hydroxy acids, DMAE and even South American beauty secret: snail serum, a complex secretion rich in protein, lipids, trace minerals, enzymes, copper peptides, amino acids and more. These actives are synergistically combined with 70% organic ingredients, including soothing organic aloe vera juice and antioxidant cranberry and green tea, to aid skin healing and protect against further damage. Knu has been featured on CBS' The Doctors and co-host Andrew Ordon, M.D. recommended Knu for its "immediate lift and firming combined with long term anti-aging benefits."

When the serum came in the mail, I tested it out on my own face, but the before and afters weren’t significant. Because I have yet to start experiencing any loss of elasticity, or other aging signs, it was difficult to determine if the claims could be proven. However, I could feel the serum firming and toning quickly after application, and because of that, believed that if I did have any more significant facial lines or wrinkles, I may see a difference. So, to really put this product to the test, I decided to take it a step further and called in my 72-year-old nana for her approval.

We applied the serum to what I would consider common problem areas for women: crow’s feet, laugh lines, etc. The result was actually pretty impressive. Below is a before and after (forgive the poor quality of the images.)

Within moments, the crow’s feet around her eyes had begun to fade, and other defined lines had begun to fill in. It was clear that this serum could back up the claims it makes. I was impressed.

You can purchase KNU Anti-Aging Serum here.

Note: The product does say it is recommended for all skin types, but under the ingredients it does list a sunburn alert that people with extremely fair skin like me I think need to take caution with.

Sunburn Alert: This product contains an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that may increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun and particularly the possibility of sunburn. Use a sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and limit sun exposure while using this product and for a week afterwards.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekend Wrap-up and VMA Reactions


Happy Monday everyone! I hope you enjoyed your weekend as much as I did. And I really hope you caught the VMAs last night. Not necessarily the best show they've ever put on, but there were some definite highlights as well as some unfortunately memorable moments. But we'll get to that towards the end of this post. First, a wrap up if the rest of this weekend's fun.

Sami's Shenanigans


Friday night, Anthony and I went to our local second run theater to catch Iron Man 3. It was every bit of the movie I thought it would be and worth the popcorn hangover I had the next morning. The things sodium can do to you...

Saturday we headed to the Orlando Dave and Busters to celebrate with my little brother before he heads back up to Minnesota for his sophomore year of college. I still question why anyone would choose to live in such an icy tundra, but he seems to enjoy it up there and with the Mall of America nearby, I could be persuaded to brave the potential frostbite for a winter trip. The whole family took part in the fun and games, and we left with some fun arcade prizes to show for it.



Sunday was lovely and laidback, everything a Sunday should be. I made a pot of sauce around 11 so that it could simmer all day until dinner. The best sauces cook for at least a couple of hours, giving everything a chance to really meld together. I'll post my easy recipe later this week for anyone who is interested. After dinner, we sat down to watch this year's VMA's. I've listed my top ten reactions below.

Top Ten Reactions to the 2013 VMA's

1. Ariana Grande - Girl can sing. And she is just cute as a button, but I would never have guessed that she's twenty years old. I don't know much about her, so I thought she was the next disney girl, maybe all of 14. Her age shocked me, but with pipes like that, I have a feeling we'll be seeing more of her.

2. Austin Mahone - Poor kid, he really is a baby Justin Bieber. Let's just hope he doesn't make the same choices as his predecessor. We can begin by never wearing that pleather outfit again, k?

3. Lady Gaga - I was not a fan of her performance last night. She was, in typical fashion, very avant garde in style, but I just feel like she missed the mark a little bit. It felt very communtiy theater avant garde, and not to the level of what I would expect from her,

4. Miley Cyrus - Just no.

5.Robin Thicke - I was really disappointed. I love Blurred Lines, song of the summer in my opinion. So why in the world did Mr. Thicke agree to let little miss Cyrus ruin that song? Not okay.

6. T. Swift - I don't know why, but I really liked her last night. She didn't perform, but the reaction shots of her and BFF Selena Gomez reminded me of how me and my best friend would act were we invited to the VMA's(which we weren't, someone get on that please.) And if a crowd were cheering loudly for my ex-bf, I might mouth the same words she did too. All love from me.

7. Justin Timberlake - Holla atcha boy! JT rocked the house down in the bext performance of the evening. Actually, the best performance the VMA's have seen in a long time. I was so impressed, and I would love to see him perform live. Next time he's anywhere near Orlando, I'll be there.

8. The *NSYNC Reunion - Yes. Just Yes. I was like a twelve-year-old girl, and it was epic, if only for 30 seconds.

9. Katy Perry - Loved her performance, and loved what she said pre-show. Her album could've gone a much darker direction but she chose to let the light in, naming her album prism to shine the light right back out to her listeners. You go girl!

10. Overall, I thought the VMAs did a good job of making the show relevant again, though I was still disappointed overall with the quality of the performances (minus my man, JT.) Hopefully, the huge reactions on social media will direct MTV's future direction and allow the VMAs to come back as a powerhouse awards show.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Confidence and Conviction

I was looking for inspiration the other day and came across this piece of scripture.

"I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken." Psalm 16:8 NIV


It really got me thinking about the times when I allow my focus to stray from God. Those times when I allow other, more earthly priorities to take precedence over the strength I have in Him. And when my eyes move away from the purpose He has for me, and they hone in on other, more temporary things, my confidence is inevitably shaken.

You see, when I look for purpose in the fulfillment of material goals, or even just goals that I can achieve on my own, I find more often than not that I stumble in my convictions. It is easy to find my flaws, easy to point out what others can accomplish beyond my own personal means, and easy to allow myself to fail in my insecurities.

But, when I seek my convictions in the purpose God has on my life, and look for fulfillment in the goals that are only achieved through His will, it is easy to walk with confidence in the strength His hand provides. If He has led me to this place, He will not leave me to fail. If I remain focused on his presence, He will guide me in my decisions, allowing me to be confident in my journey.

I will inevitably falter here and there due to my own human weaknesses, but I know that if I remain faithful to the direction He calls me to, I can never stray too far.

Remember whenever doubt sets in, or when your insecurities make you feel wobbly in your convictions, refocus your eyes to the Lord, and trust in His plans for your life.


Catching Up


It's been nearly a week since I've posted. It seems like eternity in blogland, but I'm here and I'm alive, just mostly consumed with everyday business lately. Today, I'm linking up with Sami over at Sami's Shenanigans to share some of the highlights of the past few days. Yes, it is Tuesday, and I am a couple of days removed from the weekend, but I don't care. This is my blog. Whatchu gonna do about it bro?

Sami's Shenanigans

Anthony was out of town last week from Wednesday to Sunday, and I missed that boy like crazy. But, with the husband away, ti meant filling my time with other great people to keep me company while I was all to my lonesome.

Friday night, I ventured over to a friend's house for an adventure in Indian cooking. My regular readers know I love to cook and I love to experiment with food, but Indian cuisine is pretty intimidating if you ask me. Delicious definitely, but I've always been hesitant to attempt to tackle the combination of aromatic spices that make Indian food so special.

Well, we attempted, and we far surpassed my expectations, succeeding in creating a delicious vegetable korma with aloo gobi and homemade naan. Yes, there was naan.


Now that I've tackled Indian cuisine from a predetermined recipe, I think it's experimentation time. Be on the lookout for my take on some traditional Indian favorites. I'm so thankful for friends who will experiment and try new things with me.

Saturday, I took Obi to hang out with his best friend, a miniature Australian Shepherd named Gryff. They played for a good couple of hours, which meant a great night's sleep for them, and in turn, and amazing night's sleep for their owners.


He was thrilled to go see his friend.





 

Sunday, I made a shopping trip to Kohl's for their summer clearance sale. Let me tell you, I don't know that I've ever done so well with a sale, and I'm usually an adept bargain shopper. I bought a week's worth of work clothing, plus some pieces for Anthony, all for under $100. I was thrilled, and Anthony and I are looking sharp this week. If that could happen more often, that would be great. Are you listening retailers of the world? K, thanks!

Anthony came home around 4:00 on Sunday, and the rest of the evening was dedicated to couple time. It was so nice to be back with my other half after nearly a week of being apart. I really don't know how those in long distance relationships do it, because five days was more than I particularly cared for.

I'd love to hear about your weekend in the comments below. Any new recipes tried? Any sales scored? Let me know.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Comparisons

We all do it. We see that the proverbial Jones’s have the next best thing, and we do everything we can to keep up. Or, we make the astute realization that we can’t possible attain such wonderful things, success, etc. and beat ourselves up for not being or doing enough.

In a digital age, the temptation to compare ourselves on a daily, heck hourly, basis is exponentially amplified as our lives are shared for public consumption. What we see on Facebook though are just the highlights, with people sharing maybe 10% of what they actually experience (that 10% being the most beautiful and exciting.) We have a distorted view of reality that doesn’t take into account the humanness behind the screen. A view that doesn’t register that even those with the most gorgeous instagram photos have their downfalls.

We compare our full reality to others’ 10% and come to the conclusion that something is missing from our world. That we are inadequate, we are failures, we are not enough. We can never recreate those beautiful images on Pinterest, no matter how hard we try, and that make us less-than. It’s hard to see everything you have when you’re constantly bombarded by pictures of people who have everything you think you want. Well guys, I’m here to shed some light on the subject.

You are more than enough. Everything you are is a gift, to you and to those around you. Were you any different, your unique contributions to this world would be lost. One of my favorite quotes in all the world comes from Martha Graham. I shared it in last week’s “The ABCs of Me” post, but I think it’s worth sharing again.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”
This is so true. Your experiences, your highs and your lows, they shape who you are. And who you are and who you are meant to become are so important in the grand scheme of things.

If you stop comparing yourself to others and just allow yourself to become the greatest version of you possible, not only do you grant yourself the freedom to just be without the pressure of living up to some made-up societal expectations, you also begin to see just how much you can contribute to others. Your unique ability to impact history can be uncovered, your energy released in such a positive way.

Just do you. Stop worrying about the comparisons.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Taco Shells

Creativity is often born of necessity. When you have limited resources, you’re forced to make do with what you have and be creative in making what you have extraordinary. Well folks, last night’s dinner was no exception.

I had taco ingredients, but no taco shells.

I had shell pasta, but no filling.

But ah, then it clicked. Why not combine the two into one awesome taco pasta extravaganza type of meal. Sounds strange, but I promise it is absolutely delicious. Give it a try. (For the record, I use a lot of fake dairy, and in this recipe, it tastes just as good.)

What you need:
One box of jumbo shells
One pound of ground beef (or turkey)
One packet of taco seasoning
Two jars of salsa
One Cup of grated cheese
A handful of crushed tortilla chips
One diced tomato
A cup or so of shredded lettuce
Sour Cream
Diced Pickled Jalapenos

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta shells until tender but not cooked through
3. Drain and cool shells under cold running water, until safe to handle
4. In a separate pan, brown one pound of ground beef
5. Drain beef and return to pan
6. Add taco seasoning and water as stated on the packet
7. Stir until well blended
8. Cover the bottom of a large baking dish with salsa
9. Using a spoon, fill each pasta shell with ground beef and place into baking dish, open side up
10. Once dish is full, cover the pasta with more salsa
11. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes (I used the end of this baking time to dice my tomatoes, shred my lettuce, grate my cheese, etc.)
12. After twenty minutes, remove the dish from the oven and uncover
13. Crumble tortilla chips over top of the pasta until fully covered, then cover chips with grated cheese evenly across the dish
14. Return to the oven uncovered for five minutes or until cheese is completely melted
15. Remove from the oven, plate and top with lettuce, tomato, sour cream and jalapeno to your liking

And there you have it folks. An easy delicious dinner, certainly worth repeating.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Ugliest Yard on the Block

Yes, I’ll own it. Currently, we have the ugliest yard in our neighborhood. In fact, we can probably account for the ugliest yard in the couple of neighborhoods that surround us as well.

I’ll admit it. I feel a little twinge of guilt every time I drive by a perfectly manicured lawn, only to remember the poor neglected space that is my own. The truth is, I inherited much of what is there now and just haven’t taken the initiative to really redesign the landscaping to something with more curb appeal. But now, over a year into owning this home, I think it’s about time to take my attention outside the front door and into the great outdoors.

One of the things I disliked most about the previous owner’s landscaping choices was the philodendron forest that took up a huge corner of our front yard. There were two reasons for my justified hatred. One, it covered up a good portion of the house, making the property appear much smaller from the street. And two, philodendron roots are a beast to deal with, having the strength to grow through concrete, and these plants were growing right next to the foundation of our home. Not only were they an eyesore, but were a potential hazard to the structure of our property as well.

Soon after moving in, I did a hack job on these babies, going through and cutting down the huge stalks that covered our front room windows and blocked any light from coming in. But, when I got to the roots, I was both tired and at a loss for what to do exactly, so I called it a day.
Horrible Picture, but you get the idea of the forest that was outside our windows.

That was a long time ago, and I haven’t attempted to finish the job since. That is, until this weekend. The other thing you should know about philodendron is that they are resilient plants. So, despite the fact that they had been sawed down, my decision to leave the roots allowed them to come back to life. I was more than unhappy with the situation, and decided now was the time to wage war against everything those little plants are.

It took both me and the hubs, a shovel, a rake, and a hatchet to get the job done, but we’ve removed nearly all of the roots that remained. I say nearly all, because each of the large roots has an exponential number of what I like to refer to as tentacle roots that we think will be better served by a tiller than by hand removal alone.

While pulling roots, an exceptionally fun activity, I’m pretty sure I also managed to pull some other things, namely my back muscles that are all screaming at me today for the work I did two days ago. I swear, at 23 I am getting old.

But all said and done, we are one step closer to the yard of my dreams. We've still got a very long way to go, in both the front and back yards, but just like the little engine that could, I think I can, I think I can.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The ABC's of Me


It’s so wonderful to have a best friend who also blogs. There are multiple reasons for this. You have a built-in commenter, someone always likes your posts, and you also have someone to commiserate with on server issues or writer’s block.

But more than that, it’s so lovely to have a best friend who blogs because you can take their ideas use their ideas for inspiration.

So, thanks Ashten for this lovely idea of doing an alphabet all about me. Here it goes.


A: Attached or Single? Very much attached to this hunky husband of mine.


B: Best Friend? This lovely lady, who lives way too far away for my liking.


C: Cake or pie? Cake all the way. Dark chocolate with chocolate ganache and some sort of strawberry drizzle on top. I’m hungry now.

D: Day of choice? I love my Sundays. Starting the day off at church always makes the world a little more beautiful.

E: Essential item? My wedding ring. (though, my husband would argue that I am lost without my phone which is probably pretty accurate)

F: Favorite color? Pink

G: Gummy bears or worms? Gummy worms of the sour variety

H: Hometown? Kissimmee, Fl

I: Favorite indulgence? Hmm… Not sure I can talk about that here. Lol just kidding. French Fries all the way.

J: January or July? January. New Year, New Goals, I love January.

K: Kids? None yet. We definitely want them eventually. All in God’s good timing.

L: Life isn’t complete without? Jesus

M: Marriage date? April 22, 2012



N: Number of brothers/sisters? One younger brother, who also lives way too far away. Why does everyone leave? Hello, Florida = Paradise

O: Oranges or Apples? Oranges – preferably seedless

P: Phobias/Fears? I don’t think I really have any major ones. I don’t like bridges though. Small bridges sure, but any large bridges I have to drive over, especially over water…yuck.

Q: Quotes? “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it is better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring” – Marilyn Monroe
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” - Martha Graham

R: Reasons to smile? My Hubby, My Puppy, My Amazing Friends, My Family


S: Season of choice? Fall in Florida is really an extension of summer with cooler breezes and that yummy fall smell in the air. What’s not to love?

T: TV Shows? Bones, New Girl, Breaking Pointe, Dance Moms, So You Think You Can Dance, Castle, MasterChef, Once Upon a Time

U: Unknown fact about me? Hmmm… this is a hard one…When I was seven I had a concussion from being kicked in gymnastics class. I had a black eye for a little while and big bump on the back of my head, both of which were broadcast live on national television about a week later when I performed in the Walt Disney World Easter Parade.

V: Vegetable? Brussel Sprouts, roasted with a lemon garlic aioli

W: Worst habit?Biting my finger nails. Worrying about everything.

X: Xray or Ultrasound? Well, since an Xray can have harmful side effects down the line, and typically is associated with a broken bone, I’m gonna have to go with Ultrasound.

Y: Your favorite food? Can I say everything? I love pizza, I love a good Salmon BLT, oooh or maybe the salad bar at Ruby Tuesday’s. Does that count as one food?

Z: Zodiac sign? Scorpio

Well there you have it, the ABC's of Me. Got any fun facts you'd like to share?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Mediterranean Shrimp and Orzo

Um...what? Two recipes in one week? Yes, my friends. And not only that, I've got a third lovely recipe coming your way soon. I've been cooking my little heart out this week and it didn't seem fair not to share the goodness with you.

Today's recipe is a healthier option that is quick, easy and beyond delicious. This recipe serves four easily, up to six if you eat more like me and less like my husband. But no matter how many people you're serving, this is sure to please.

If you've read my blog before, you know that my recipes aren't an exact science. Much of the seasonings are to taste, more than they are exact measurements of what to add. Use this as a guideline to experiment on your own.

What you will need:
One pound of peeled, deveined shrimp
One box of orzo pasta
Two cans of diced tomatoes
Two Tablespoons of minced garlic
1/2 of an onion, chopped roughly to a large dice
One green bell pepper, diced
A block of feta cheese
Salt
Pepper
Basil
Several tablespoons of olive oil

Directions
1) Preheat a stock pot of water to a boil
2) Add your orzo, cooking until tender
3) In a separate pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat
4) Add garlic, onions, and bell peppers, cooking until the onions just turn translucent and soften
5) Add your shrimp, cooking until pink
6) Season to your liking with salt, pepper, and basil
7) When the orzo has finished cooking, drain and return to pot, reducing the burner heat to low
8) Add in two cans of diced tomatoes, as well as your shrimp mixture
9) Stir well, adding up to two tablespoons of olive oil to taste
10) Break up your feta cheese and add 1/2 of the block to your pasta mixture, stirring in well
11) Salt to taste
12) Plate and sprinkle additional feta over the top before serving

There you have it. Only 12 steps to a delicious, healthy meal. If you're not a seafood fan, I imagine you could substitue chicken into this recipe, or even forego meat altogether. Whatever suits your fancy.

Enjoy!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Impatiently Waiting

Impatience. I’m guilty of it. I think we all are. It happens to me the most when I’m stuck in traffic. A justified attitude, annoyed by every inconvenience.

Clearly, my destination is far more important than those of the people around me. Clearly, my frustration is totally warranted. If only people knew how to drive well. If only their rubbernecking tendencies would disappear.

Truth is, while being annoyed is an okay reaction, the slowly building anger that begins to boil inside of me is not. And this distempered impatience is evident in far more aspects of my life than just the occasional road trip.



Clearly Frustrated (Actually just performing recently, but it seemed an appropriate image)
  

I am impatient for results, impatient to see the works God has planned for my life. Impatient to reach certain milestones. Impatient to begin. Impatient for the end. I show impatience to my husband, to my friends, to my family. I can be faulted for my impatience more than I’d like. But this flaw of mine is not unnoticed, and because I have learned to recognize it, I am determined to make a conscious effort to turn it around.

You see, my impatience tends to drive me to the ends of my means. I exhaust every avenue in search of a way to expedite my journey, my cause, my results. I look for opportunities to get done what I feel needs to get done and I exhaust myself and others in the process.

And then it hits me. The point of realization that I can no longer strive on my own. The realization that this exhaustion has a purpose, and that is to draw me nearer to the heart of God and allow him to do his work on my life. When I recognize the impatience boiling up inside me, I turn to prayer, asking instead for me to experience each moment as God intended me too.


Sometimes when we are impatient for things to happen, we miss out on the moments we are living in right now. If you spend all of your time looking for the next big milestone, the next big thing, you neglect the beauty that surrounds you every day. The joy that can stem from the smallest moments can be lost. And thats unfortunately how many of us live.

I'd like to offer up a challenge today, for myself and my readers, to breathe deeper into each moment. When you begin to feel the impatience bubbling up, take a step back and try to see what God is saying to you in that moment. Try to find the opportunities in the stillness, in the waiting, to grow. And to go a step further, I implore each of us to not only experience patience in our own lives individually, but to outwardly exhibit patience to one another. Let us be more understanding of our neighbors and friends, and more compassionate to their circumstances. In those moments, we can really witness to the compassion and patience Jesus has for us in our lives, and what can be better than that?

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Shrimp and Grits


Confession: I may live in the south (if you consider Florida the south,) but my typical cooking genre could never be classified as southern food. This recipe however, feeds the southern boy inside my husband’s soul, and is sure to satisfy every appetite. It is far from healthy, but it is oh-so-good for you. I believe in the power of comfort food, and this recipe certainly applies.

What You Will Need:
One pound of raw peeled, deveined shrimp
Six slices of bacon
1 cup of quick grits (not instant grits, they are two very different things)
4 cups of water
1 cube of chicken bouillon
Salt to taste
½ of an onion, diced
Cajun/Creole Seasoning
1-2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 block of sharp cheddar cheese
Hot Sauce to taste

Shrimp
1) Begin by prepping your bacon, cooking it until crispy on all sides. (If you have a griddle, I’d recommend using this as we will be making use of the drippings later on, and griddles tend to catch them better than other options. If not, just make sure not to toss out all of that bacon grease.)
2) Let your bacon cool on a paper towel lined plate
3) Once cool, dice bacon into small pieces.
4) In a separate bowl, generously coat shrimp with your cajun creole seasoning of choice. Don’t skimp on this step. The spicier, the better.
5) With your shrimp generously coated, heat up approximately two tablespoons of your bacon grease in a separate pan.
6) Add your garlic and onion and begin to sauté until the onion becomes slightly translucent
7) Add your shrimp and cook until they turn pink
8) Add in the chopped bacon and cook another 1-2 minutes

Meanwhile, in a separate stock pot, prepare your

Grits
1) Begin by heating 4 cups of water, salt, bouillon, and butter to a boil
2) Once boiling, add 1 cup of quick grits to your water
3) Lower heat to low and cover, cooking for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally
4) Grate your cheese
5) When the grits reach the desired consistency, add your cheese to the grits and stir until well blended.

I always serve this meal in a bowl with a layer of cheesy grits at the bottom, topped with the Cajun shrimp. Once put together, sprinkle a little bit of hot sauce to your liking. I always prefer Louisiana brand hot sauce, but follow your fancy. As always, my recipes tend to be more of a guideline than a rule, so feel free to tweak where you wish.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Shark Attack

In honor of shark week (which, if you were to infer from Facebook’s news feed, may as well be a weeklong national holiday) I’m sharing an experience unlike any other. I’m talking about that time I went shark fishing. Yes, that happened. This scaredy cat little girl got on a boat with group of friends and set out to wrangle in the ocean’s beastiest. Okay, let’s be honest. We all knew we weren’t going out for great whites, but I still boarded that boat with trepidation, having never been on such an excursion.


Nervous laughter - Clearly

We went for my friend Corrine’s birthday, and at the end of the night, I think we all agreed there was no better way we could’ve celebrated. Everything was taken care of by the crew, from bait and tackle to unlimited beer. Even a small dinner was included if we wanted to eat. As soon as we boarded though and were able to cast our lines, we were ready to get down to business.


The evening’s catch started off slow, but surely picked up as time went on. All in all, our group brought home four shark and a twenty-five pound Cobia, not to mention the smaller fish we caught and threw back in (or the giant stingray that got hooked on my line.) Everything we caught was safe to eat, so we stayed behind to have our haul cleaned by the crew before packing it in for the night.





The next day, our same group got together for a gathering referred to lovingly as Iron Chef: Shark. We each took a batch of the shark and prepared it in our own unique way. When all was said and done, our bellies were stuffed to the brim with shark and grits, shark burgers, Cajun shark bites, and grilled cobia, as well as a few key sides prepared fresh from the lovely birthday girl’s garden. It was all so incredibly delicious.


I contributed the shark and grits, which in the end can really be made with any type of protein, though my typical preparation includes shrimp. I’ll be sharing the recipe on the blog tomorrow, so keep an eye out for that.

In the end, I’ve got to say that this was one of the most fun excursions I’ve been on in a while. Anybody else out there ever been fishing for shark? Anybody else ever cooked with it?

Monday, August 5, 2013

10 Signs You're a Borderline Crazy Dog Lady



Like I mentioned in my last post, Friday was my fur-child’s first birthday. And we had him dressed for the occasion.

He was celebrated with a new toy and new food and water bowls, and was treated to his favorite doggy ice cream later on in the evening. With all of these activities, it’s glaringly obvious that my dog is spoiled. But when is the line between spoiled and crazy dog-lady crossed? I’m not entirely sure, but if I had to guess, I’d say I’m pretty close.

10 Signs you’re a Borderline Crazy Dog-Lady

1) Pictures of your dog comprise at least 60% of your instagram feed.

2) Your morning routine revolves around when your dog will want to eat, play, go outside, etc.

3) Your sleeping habits are severely affected by your dog’s love of the outdoors. (Case in point: My dog woke me up at 2:30 am the otehr night to go outside, I assumed for a potty break. With a fenced-in backyard, I have no qualms about letting him out on his own while I lay back down for a minute. He quite loudly lets me know when he’s ready to come in. I fell asleep only to wake up 2 hours later, realizing I had never let my dog in. I opened the back door to go get him to see him sleeping in the yard, quite comfortable, and not wanting to come back inside. Is it bad that my dog’s preferences take priority over my own sleep?)

4) You consistently refer to your dog as your child.

5) You have made home cooked meals for your dog.

6) You can locate and name all of the closest dog parks to your home.

7) Your dog has best friends.

8) Your dog has a wardrobe. (This is not true of Obi. But we have dressed him up.)

9) Your dog has a social media presence. ( Again, not true of Obi. But I’ve seen it. )

10) You have more pet names for your dog than for your spouse.

I know I can’t be the only one who’s slightly obsessed with their dog. They are of course, man’s best friend right?

Let me know in the comments how you know your pet is taking over your life.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Allow me to re-introduce myself

Hello, my name is Stephanie and I am used to be a blogger. It has been so incredibly long since I’ve graced this little corner of the internet, and I’ve got to tell you, I miss this outlet of mine.

Life has been a whirlwind as of late. Hectic and busy and beautiful and stressful and everything in between. I started a post back in January that I never published. In that post, I shared that I just had a feeling about this year. I just knew that 2013 was going to be incredible and I had the audacity to say I was going to make it happen.

Well, this year so far has certainly lived up to my expectations. Both Anthony and I have had significant career shifts that have given us far more opportunities to grow and be challenged in such positive ways.
When I last posted, we were still very newly wed, and though it’s been less than a year, we are now beginning to settle in to our marriage in such a lovely way. I still get butterflies when I think about him, and it’s nice that over a year in, there is still that honeymoon feeling between us. But we are also falling into a very comfortable stability that makes us feel more and more like a family every day. We are building our legacy as a couple, through our marriage and through Christ, and that has been an incredible thing to witness and be a part of.

Since I last posted, we’ve added another addition to the Koscielecki clan. No, we didn’t have a baby, but we did bring home a little fur baby who we just love to death. His name is Obi (yes, like in Star Wars), he is a purebred Siberian Husky, and he is my child. He is officially a one-year-old today, and we will absolutely be celebrating. Yes, I am that girl.

I’ve been playing a lot in our little home space as well, re-decorating and adding pieces to make it feel more homey. Eventually, I will post some before and afters on this little ‘ol blog, but I still have so much I want to accomplish before I get to that point. I thought by this point, a full year in to homeownership, I would have accomplished all of my to-dos. Unfortunately, projects take time. Lots of time. And tend to take money as well. Lots of money.

Oh well, one day, we will have this house looking exactly like I envision it in my dreams. Until then, we are just grateful to have a beautiful space to call our own. I’m hoping to spend some more time on here, writing about life and scripture and everything else that pops into this brain of mine. So stick around. You’ll be hearing from me soon.