Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Good Advertising

I was a marketing major in college and there was once a point in time that I pictured myself as a big time ad executive at a major firm in a big city. At least the big city part is true... Because of this, I have a respect for good advertising. Lately, I've seen a string of great commercials... you know... the ones that actually make you rewind the DVR so you can see the commercial you just fast forwarded through? This made me want to compile a list of some of my favorites.

And I don't even like Pepsi...

I've never met a Publix commercial I didn't like.

Lastly, this one might be my all-time favorite...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Clemson vs. FS Who?

Clemson is..... wait for it..... 4-0. This is something that the modern day Clemson fan is not used to hearing but very excited to say. This past weekend, we beat Florida State in a game that I think a lot of us held our breath during. To say we were on the edge of our seats is putting it lightly...

Dustin and I went back to the lake- except this time to hang out with his parents and my parents. It was just as fun as the previous weekend... but in a quiet kind of way. Here is a quick recap.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


The perfectionist in me never thought I would be so happy to receive a zero on a report. In some ways this summer has come and gone all too quickly, but in others it has dragged on much longer than I would have liked. It has been three months since we lost our "little buddy"and both heartbreak and healing present themselves daily in different ways. For the full story, you can refer back to this post. Shortly after my surgery, I learned that I had what was called a "partial molar pregnancy". I know to most people, this is something you've never heard of before; however, to my knowledge hungry-slightly hypochondriac self, this wasn't a new term. All pregnancy websites have a section on pregnancy loss where "molar pregnancies" are usually mentioned that I would read and think "how awful would that be..." Little did I know, this would quickly become my reality and a part of who I am. The short explanation is this:

Molar Pregnancy- A sperm fertilizes an "empty egg" that has no genetic material. Instead of a fetus, you end up with a growth of abnormal cells that form a cluster which your body treats like a pregnancy until it is detected by ultrasound. Once detected, it needs to be surgically removed (D&C) to ensure that the cells don't spread. Once removed, there is a very slight possibility that the abnormal cells can still remain and spread to other parts of your body and is treated like a very curable form of cancer. Because of this, your hCG level (pregnancy hormone) needs to be monitored to make sure it goes back down to zero. If it rises, it means there are still cells remaining and chemotherapy may be necessary.

Partial Molar Pregnancy- Two sperm fertilize one egg. Normally this ends up in identical twins, but when the egg doesn't divide properly- you end up with one baby that has 69 chromosomes that can only develop so far (in our case, we saw a heartbeat at 7 wks and my miscarriage was detected at 12 wks). Because there is still the presence of abnormal tissue in the placenta, treatment is the same as a complete molar pregnancy.

For a longer explanation, you can read about it here.

Basically, our little buddy that should have really been two little buddies never really had a chance from the beginning. As heartbreaking as this still is, it is reassuring to know that it was nothing to do with me physically but rather a random genetic malformation. The chances of miscarriage with any pregnancy are always around 20-25%, but the chances of this particular kind happening again are only about 1-2%.

This all means that for the past three months, I have been going to my doctor's office for almost weekly blood draws so they can monitor my hCG level. I found out Monday that it has finally reached zero. Praise. The. Lord. I know that any type of miscarriage is heartbreaking in its own way, but after going through this- I think this has to be the worst. When most women miscarry, it happens naturally and it only takes about a month or so for your body to get back to normal. They don't have to go to their OB weekly and see numerous, healthy, pregnant women and there is no risk of cancer developing.

Through this whole process, the Lord has shown Himself to both Dustin and me in ways we've never experienced before. Scripture tells us that "He will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain". I know that God weeps with me, but not because he is helpless like me- but because He knows I don't see the full picture and the great things to come. He is holding our little buddy and loving him or her better than we ever could. We are very thankful that this process is over and placing our hope in God for what is to come.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tiger Paws and Tennis Balls

With football season in full swing, Dustin and I have been making the weekly 128 mile journey to Clemson to cheer on our tigers. Though it can be tiring at times, there is no place we'd rather be on a fall Saturday. This past weekend, we were able to spend time with Dustin's family in addition to going to the game. Here are some fun highlights from the weekend.

On Friday night, we made s'mores in the fire pit- YUM!

On Saturday, we watched Clemson gloriously beat Auburn and got to catch up with some friends.
On Sunday, Uncle Dustin's tennis clinic for tots was open for business and had three very active participants.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall Findings Friday

With the weather getting cooler, it makes me want to stroll along a sidewalk covered in crunchy leaves, wearing this...

or this...

or this...

or possibly this...

all with this...

while sipping one this these...

The above findings are from here. I hope you have a fabulous fall weekend!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

Sounds fancy, doesn't it? Well, this recipe is super easy, quick and delicious! I think I've mentioned before that I'm not a huge red meat fan, so I cook a lot of fish, shrimp and chicken. If you don't like seafood, I would recommend Tilapia because it really doesn't take like fish at all. It takes on the flavor of whatever you're cooking it with. I consider it a great beginner's fish : )

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia
4 Tilapia filets
3/4 cup parmesan cheese (freshly grated is the best)
2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
1 lemon cut into wedges
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) for drizzling

1. Preheat oven to 400. In a shallow dish, combine the cheese with the paprika and parsley and season with salt and pepper.

2. Drizzle the fish on both sides with olive oil and dredge in the cheese mixture on both sides.

3. Bake for 10-12 minutes (or until fish is opaque in the center)

4. Squeeze with lemon and serve!

Easy, delicious and did I mention there are only 6 ingredients? I like to serve it with roasted broccoli and cous cous- YUM-O!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years since September 11, 2001. Both Dustin and I have the same memory from that day... we were in Mrs. Hessalink's Spanish Class at South Aiken when they rolled in a chunker of a TV on a cart. When I look at everything we've done in the past 10 years, it easy to see that it's been that long- sometimes it feels like longer, but when I watch the TV footage of the attacks... it feels like it was just yesterday. I am and will always be a George W. Bush fan. If you haven't read Decision Points, I highly suggest it. He wrote it from his personal prospective and he speaks from his heart. It will give you new insight into this day and how the decisions he made for the rest of his presidency reflect it.

It's funny how every other day of the year, the country is so wrapped up in the economy, our debt, bipartisanship (which will truly never happen), name calling, finger pointing, bashing the war, keeping prayer out of schools and taking "one nation under God" out of our Pledge of Allegiance... but every year on September 11, it all comes to a stop and we remember what it means to really live in this country. I think that all of the above can be resolved by looking at our country through this same lens every day of the year. I'm not running for office... I'm just saying. Here is a video from the July 4th Service at our church, Buckhead Church and I think it also speaks volumes today. Enjoy.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Favorite Things Edition 1

I think I'm going through Oprah withdrawals. All of last season, I knew it was going to be her last season... but a part of me is still in a bit of a shock that the Oprah show will not be starting back this fall. One of my absolute favorite shows that she used to do was her Christmas show called "Favorite Things". You've seen it... the one with grown women hysterically hyperventilating with each new shiny box that comes on stage. She basically features 10-15 different products that she "loves" and each audience member gets one. The products have ranged from beauty products and clothes to ridiculously expensive handbags and electronics. Well I have compiled my own list of favorite things that I would like to share with you.

1. My Neti Pot. I am seriously obsessed with it in an addictive kind of way. I have had seasonal allergies for as long as I can remember to the point where I would take Zyrtec like tic tacs. I tried the Neti Pot and it changed my life. I use it every morning and have not had allergies since I began using it. I haven't even gotten a sinus infection in over a year and a half (I used to get a couple a year). If you can get over the weirdness of it, I promise you will not regret it!

2.  Tom's of Maine Deodorant. Yes, you read that right. I just included a deodorant as one of my favorite things. Reason being? I have read some research studies that link aluminum zirconium (the main ingredient in most deodorants) to breast cancer. Tom's is the only brand I've found that does not contain aluminum and it works and smells great! Do I know for a fact that aluminum zirconium causes breast cancer? No, I really have no idea, but if I can avoid it- then why not? You can buy Tom's just about anywhere, but I've found it at both Target and Publix.

3. Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss. Sticking with the "all natural" theme here, I am so excited about this new creamer from Coffee-Mate! I have been quite the coffee addict since college and have tried pretty much every creamer out there. Coffee-Mate has always been my brand of choice because it blends and tastes the best. The only thing I didn't like was the fact that one of the main ingredients was "partially hydrogenated oil"- yuck. Well, this new creamer is made with REAL milk, cream and sugar! Right now they only have 3 flavors, but I am crossing my fingers they will make their holiday flavors in this brand...

4. Yankee Candle Spiced Pumpkin. My love of fall really deserves its own post, but this will have to do for now. I am mildly obsessed with all things pumpkin. I love Yankee Candles because they burn evenly and smell delicious. I buy all of my candles from TJ Maxx Homegoods because they are usually much cheaper than the store in the mall.

5. Pinterest. If you have never checked out Pinterest before... holy moly... close this page and go there right now. It's basically a way to organize and share ideas about everything.. seriously, everything. You create virtual "pinboards" of everything you could ever think of. It makes my type-a personality heart go pitter patter.

Follow Me on Pinterest

6. The Help. I know that with the movie being out right now, it is incredibly tempting to just go see the movie... but I beg you to read the book first. This book shines a poignant light on race relations in the 1960's. After reading it, it's nice to see how far we've come as a society- but sadly, how much really hasn't changed. If there is one book that you read  this year- read The Help.

7. Helping those with disabilities. This video will warm your heart and make you smile. I think I've always had a special place in my heart for those with disabilities of any kind- both children and adults. In this video, it is "Disability Awareness Day" at Fenway Park and a teen boy with autism got to sing the national anthem. He forgot the words halfway through, so the entire stadium helps him out. This video is just a little reminder that there are still good people out there... and it might just make you a Red Sox fan... okay, I won't go that far, but it will still make you feel good.

Well that's it for my first edition of my favorite things... now everybody look under your chairs. Kidding... but seriously, I hope to do more of these as I come across products, books and videos that I really like.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Slow Cooker Potato Soup

Sometimes I think I could live on soup for the rest of my life... and pasta, but right now my focus is on soup. As the weather gets colder, my crock pot gets hotter from everyday use. I love walking in our house on a cold day to home cooked soup, curling up on the couch with a blanket and sitting by a fire. Today, it's raining and 68. I'll take what I can get. I used it as a good excuse to make another one of my favorites.

Slow Cooker Potato Soup
5 medium sized red potatoes (cubed with skin on)
6 green onions (chopped)
4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 pint of half and half (I use fat free)
1 can of condensed cream of potato soup
8 oz. container of sour cream (I use low fat)
1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese
Milk (I use low fat, but whole milk would give you a thicker consistency)

1. Place potatoes in bottom of crock pot.

2. Toss in the chopped garlic and 4 chopped green onions over the potatoes.

3.  Mix in the half and half, condensed soup and sour cream.

4. Pour in milk until potatoes are covered and desired consistency is reached.

5. Cook on low for 6 hours.

6. Mix in cheddar cheese and let simmer until melted through. Salt and pepper to taste.

I like to top it with a scoop of sour cream, the remaining green onion, cheddar cheese and some crumbled up bacon. YUM!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Where the tigers play

Fall has officially "kicked off" (pun totally intended). We went to the first Clemson game of the season on Saturday. It was well over 100 degrees at game time, but it was well worth it. The tigers got the W and it was a great day seeing friends and family. This is officially the start to my favorite time of year!

These last two pictures were taken with my phone using Instagram. It's a pretty cool app where you can add different photo effects to pictures you take.

Baked Ziti

We had some of our favorite friends over on Friday night for dinner. We have fondly labeled these dinners as "family dinners" and have been doing them monthly for the past year- rotating houses. Each dinner will typically have a theme and ours was Italian- mangia! I made short-cut baked ziti and it was delicious. I am labeling it "short cut", because I did not make homemade sauce. I did not have enough time for the real deal, but it was delizioso! See for yourself...

Baked Ziti
1 box of Ziti pasta
2 jars of pasta sauce (I use Ragu with Sauteed Onions and Garlic)
1-2 lbs of ground turkey (Depends how much meat you like. You can use ground beef, but I'm not the biggest fan of red meat.)
16 oz container Ricotta cheese (I use part-skim)
1 yellow or sweet onion chopped
5 cloves of garlic chopped
1 egg
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1. In a large skillet, thoroughly cook ground turkey.

2. Meanwhile, boil the water for the pasta.

3. Drain the meat and then add the onion and garlic. Saute until fragrant. It's OK if the onions are still a little crunchy- they will thoroughly cook in the oven.

4. Add both jars of sauce to the skillet and mix.

5. Once the water has come to a rolling boil, add the box of pasta and under cook until it's slightly firmer than al dente or about 4 minutes.

6. Combine the ricotta cheese and the egg in a separate bowl until smooth.

7. Drain pasta and return to pot.

8. Mix in the ricotta cheese/egg mixture with the pasta until thoroughly blended.

9. In a large casserole dish (one that is fairly deep), layer the sauce meat mixture on the bottom to prevent sticking. Then add the pasta/cheese mixture. Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella cheese. Add another layer of the sauce/meat mixture, then the pasta/cheese mixture and top with a final layer of mozzarella.

10. If serving immediately, cook in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes covered. Uncover and cook for an additional 5 minutes. If you are refrigerating it before serving, you'll cook it at 350 for an hour covered and an additional 15 minutes uncovered. This is also a great dish to make and freeze. If you're cooking it frozen, it will most likely take 1.5 hours or longer covered followed by 15 minutes uncovered. You can also make "personal pan baked ziti" using mini baking dishes. This another fun way to serve this dish!

Buon Appetito!

Large dish before

Mini dish after

Friday, September 2, 2011

Long weekends are lovely...

Happy Labor Day weekend! I don't know about you, but we will be spending it watching football and relaxing. Whether you're traveling or staying home, I hope you enjoy it! I will leave you with some travel inspiration.


Vintage ORANGE CRUSH Travel Bag by MariesVintage on Etsy

baggage, bags, blue, photography, travel, vintage

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Stop Childhood Obesity

Georgia is number two in the country when it comes to childhood obesity. This means that nearly 40% of Georgia's children are overweight or obese. They are facing the negative health consequences such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease and more as a result of it. Earlier this summer, Children's launched a controversial campaign to get people's attention... and it did. Check out some of the commercials.

The original intention was to get people talking in the state of Georgia, but we ended up getting in the national spotlight in the process.

"The childhood obesity epidemic did not happen overnight—it’s more than 30 years in the making and Children’s is taking a bold step to start to reverse this disturbing trend. Our “Warning” campaign, similar to other public health campaigns, is designed to alert parents about the health crisis and get people talking about the issue. Our research shows kids want to be spoken to directly and overtly, and they don’t see this as bullying. Our intention with the campaign is to alert—not to offend."

Children's believes "the deck is stacked against our kids today. The reality is that they are bombarded with fast food, computers, TV, video games, junk food and splashy advertising for unhealthy behaviors. Not to mention, there are fewer sidewalks and safe, clean places in our communities for kids to play. To improve child wellness and bring awareness of the obesity epidemic in Georgia, Children’s is leading a statewide movement called Strong4Life. It's about bringing attention to the serious health risks threatening overweight and obese children and not sugarcoating it. It’s the right thing to do for Georgia’s kids. In fact, some people ask how we can commit to something this big. Our answer: How can we not?"

Once again, I am incredibly proud to work for Children's and applaud them at their effort to do something and not just sit on the sidelines.