Sunday, September 30, 2012

Recent Happenings

I have been a bit of a delayed blogger, because our Fall has been off to a busy start. I really hate cliches and I think this is one of the biggest and most redundant, but I cannot believe how quickly time is flying. Really. Tomorrow is October 1. These last three months of the year are my most favorite and I just wish the days would slow down so I could enjoy every minute of them. Here is a glimpse into what we've been up to lately.

We celebrated my friend Heather's birthday with one of our family dinners (minus Chris and Cait- we missed you both!) so we took this slightly awkward picture with the self timer. Excuse the blurriness...

And the "birthday shot"... just noticed the baby bottle by Patrick in the background. Teagan was also in attendance, so no worries there.

This past weekend, our oldest niece, Haley, got to spend the weekend with us as her birthday present. To say she was excited is putting it mildly. She was packed and ready to leave her house by 7am Friday morning (so sweet!) In reality, we picked her up Friday afternoon and made our way to Johnny Rockets and LegoLand Friday evening.

This was supposed to be of Haley singing at the Karaoke stage, but she accidentally picked a song she didn't know- so here is Dustin singing "Hoedown Throwdown".

Because I'm sure you're all wondering it, I should also mention that I colored my hair darker. This decision was a result of needing a change and boredom one afternoon.

This picture is the result of about 30 seconds of awkwardness in trying to figure out a pose. It actually turned out pretty cute.

Our friends, Heather and Matt were also at LegoLand with their youngest nephew and we met up with them while the kiddos were playing. My how our Friday nights have changed... well let's be honest- they really haven't changed all that much. 

On Saturday, husband ran in the Chick-fil-a 5K by our house... dressed in a cow costume with some of the K-Life crew. Haley and I cheered him on from the sideline...

Saturday afternoon, we made our way to the North GA State Fair- yeehaw. Only at the fair can you walk around in cut off jean shorts with an Alan Jackson '97 t-shirt, a confederate flag hat and a tattoo of your children's faces down your arm while eating a fistful of fried oreos and a turkey leg and not even be given a second glance by most people. And if that describes you, I apologize... but seriously.

This picture was before husband rode the "sizzler" with Haley...

And this is on the ride... I may have laughed out loud for 5 minutes straight after I took this.

And lastly, no trip to the fair is complete without a little sparkly face paint and a carnival game prize- that she won on her own!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cool Runnings

When I was little I may have been obsessed with that movie. seriously. But that is not what this post is about. You see, since camp ended and I am part-time, I am noticing that I have a lot of time on my hands (not necessarily a bad thing). Couple that with the b-e-a-utiful fall weather we've been having and I have taken up running... again. I have noticed I am a very committed runner when the weather is pretty, but my goal is to keep it up even when it's not.  I have laced up my kicks, loaded my iPhone with the new Maroon 5 album and hit the pavement almost everyday for the past two weeks. Additionally, I bought a Groupon a week ago for 20 fitness classes at a local gym. This means that I've also been adding weekly pilates, yoga and some cycling into the mix. I haven't been this sore since I fell off of a horse in 8th grade... but I am loving. every. minute. It has made me realize that I've spent the past 4 years pouring myself into my job and our patients... which I do not regret a minute of... but somewhere along the way, I started to neglect myself and what I enjoy due to not having the time and always being tired. I forgot how much I love working out and how good it makes me feel. So... here's to making this a lifestyle now that I have the time to commit to it.

And for a little inspiration...

While not being too serious about myself...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What makes you beautiful

Reason #3,382 why I love my job. We have some pretty amazing kiddos... and our staff is pretty cool too. Check out this video our Aflac Cancer Center made for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Kudos to Brant for putting this together!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cookie Dough Cheesecake

Oh. My. Yum.... I will tell you now that if you're looking for a low-fat dessert, this is not it. BUT, if you're willing to sacrifice some calories- this is totally worth it.

Cookie Dough Cheesecake (originally from here)

- 2 pkg.  (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened

- 1/2 cup  sugar

- 1/2 tsp.  vanilla

- 2 eggs

- 3/4 cup  prepared or refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough (I may have used over half a roll, but I don't really think you can go wrong with too much cookie dough)

- 1 Graham Pie Crust

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.

2. Add eggs; mix just until blended. Remove 1/2 cup of the dough; drop by teaspoonfuls into batter. Stir gently until well blended.
3. Pour into crust. Top with level teaspoonfuls of the remaining 1/4 cup cookie dough. (This is where I just added extra cookie dough on top)

4. Bake 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pumpkins and Cinnamon

I figured it was about time that I do a Fall decorating post given that my house has been decorated since Labor Day. Outside, it may still be 80 degrees, but my house is now a haven of pumpkins, burlap and orange... and it smells like cinnamon. I have discovered that having this blog has challenged my decorating skills, because I always feel the need to change it up so that it's not identical to last year's post. I like to call this decorating accountability. So here we go...

I made the burlap bunting using some burlap, stencils, black paint, and jute string- super easy! 

Free Fall printables found here. I may have gotten a little obsessed and printed two more for the kitchen...

I would post an outdoor shot with pumpkins and mums, except the stores are not carrying pumpkins and mums yet... so stay tuned for part two that is sure to include pumpkins and mums... and lots of pretty orange leaves.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mingle with us Blog Hop!

Happy Go Lucky
 Hosted by Happy Go Lucky, I Heart Crafty Things,Joy in the Jumble and Keeping Up With Kristi. I am this week's guest host, so be sure to enter below and check out some new blogs!

There are no rules to this blog hop. Just link up your blog's main page. Then have fun reading new blogs and making new blog friends. We would love for you to follow the hostesses in the first four spots and our guest host in the fifth spot.

If you are a new follower, please leave a comment so I know to follow you back!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never Forgotten

"It is said that adversity introduces us to ourselves. This is true of a nation as well. In this trial, we have been reminded, and the world has seen, that our fellow Americans are generous and kind, resourceful and brave. We see our national character in rescuers working past exhaustion; in long lines of blood donors; in thousands of citizens who have asked to work and serve in any way possible. And we have seen our national character in eloquent acts of sacrifice. Inside the World Trade Center, one man who could have saved himself stayed until the end at the side of his quadriplegic friend. A beloved priest died giving the last rites to a firefighter. Two office workers, finding a disabled stranger, carried her down sixty-eight floors to safety. A group of men drove through the night from Dallas to Washington to bring skin grafts for burn victims. In these acts, and in many others, Americans showed a deep commitment to one another, and an abiding love for our country. Today, we feel what Franklin Roosevelt called the warm courage of national unity. This is a unity of every faith, and every background. It has joined together political parties in both houses of Congress. It is evident in services of prayer and candlelight vigils, and American flags, which are displayed in pride, and wave in defiance. Our unity is a kinship of grief, and a steadfast resolve to prevail against our enemies. And this unity against terror is now extending across the world. America is a nation full of good fortune, with so much to be grateful for. But we are not spared from suffering. In every generation, the world has produced enemies of human freedom. They have attacked America, because we are freedom's home and defender. And the commitment of our fathers is now the calling of our time. On this national day of prayer and remembrance, we ask almighty God to watch over our nation, and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come. We pray that He will comfort and console those who now walk in sorrow. We thank Him for each life we now must mourn, and the promise of a life to come. As we have been assured, neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, can separate us from God's love. May He bless the souls of the departed. May He comfort our own. And may He always guide our country. God bless America."

- George W. Bush

Monday, September 10, 2012

Skinny Tomato Basil Pasta

In case you haven't noticed recently, one of my new favorite websites for recipes is Gina's recipes are simple, healthy and delicious; three must-haves in my book. If you haven't already, I highly encourage you to check out her site. Tonight's dinner was another winner (the rhyme is not intentional, but I am choosing to leave it there anyway...)

Skinny Tomato Basil Pasta (from here)
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, diced in 1 inch cubes
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 tsp each of dried oregano and dried basil
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper
  • 8 oz thin spaghetti (or the pasta of your choice)
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved (I had Roma on hand, so I cut those up and used those instead)
  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh basil (I have an abundance growing out back, so I used more like 6-7 tbsp and it was delish)
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

2. Season chicken generously with salt, pepper, oregano and dried basil. Heat a large skillet on high heat. When hot, spray with oil and add chicken.

3. Cook about 3-4 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove chicken and set aside.

4. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve about 1/2 cup pasta water before draining.

5. While pasta cooks, add olive oil to skillet on medium heat.

6. Add garlic and sauté until golden brown (do not burn). Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium-low. Sauté about 4-5 minutes.

7. When pasta is drained, add pasta to tomatoes and toss well. If pasta seems too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water. Add fresh basil and chicken and toss well.

8. Serve topped with some grated parmesan- Bon Appetit!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Happy Birthday Haley!

Our smart, sweet, beautiful, first-born niece turned seven on Saturday! Where has the time gone?! Here are some pics from our whirlwind weekend in Greenville to celebrate. Confession: I never made it in front of the camera this weekend.

This was Haley's reaction to our card telling her that one of her birthday gifts is a fun-filled weekend in Atlanta with her super cool aunt and uncle in T minus 3 weeks (that'd be us, folks). It feels good to be loved and looked up to this much. Stay tuned for that super fun post shortly after...

Happy Birthday, sweet girl! It has been such a joy watching you grow into a beautiful young lady and we look forward to many years to come!

Ok, so this picture is actually not from the party, but it is too sweet to not share. Sawyer loves his uncle Dustin more and more everytime he sees him- LOVE.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Buffalo Turkey Burgers

Happy Friday, friends. Here is another recipe that falls into the category of I've been making it for years, so I'm not sure why it's taken this long to make it to the blog. Also, it is so very yummy, I feel the need to apologize for the delay. So here it is...

Buffalo Turkey Burgers (adapted from here)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey breast
  • 1 tbsp McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 4 green onions finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 tablespoons butter
1. Place a healthy drizzle of oil in a mixing bowl. Add the turkey, poultry seasoning, McCormick's seasoning, garlic and green onions.  Mix the burgers and form into 4 1-inch thick patties.

2. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat cook the burgers for 6 minutes on each side (or until cooked through).

3. Remove to a plate.

4. Wipe the pan clean and reduce the heat to low. Melt the butter in the pan. Add the hot sauce to the melted butter.

5. Return the burgers to the skillet and turn to coat in the hot sauce/butter mixture. Let simmer for about 3 minutes until fully coated.

Serve on your choice of bun (or no bun for a low carb option) with your favorite toppings. I love spinach, tomato and light blue cheese dressing. I also served them with sweet potato fries (husband's favorite)- YUM!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tiger Tailgate and Tailgate Treats

On Saturday, husband and I went over to tailgate before the game at our friends, Walt and Emily's house. The afternoon was filled with a little football, outdoor games and good food. We had a good mix of Auburn and Clemson fans just to keep things competitive, but ultimately, our Clemson tigers pulled out the W. Unfortunately, I didn't pull out my camera until the end, but here are a few pictures from the day.

As promised, here are some pinterest-inspired tailgate dishes...

Tiger Stripe Brownies (from here)

- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 5 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons flour
- orange food coloring


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare brownie batter as directed on package; spread into greased 13x9-inch baking pan.
2. Mix cream cheese, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, and flour and mix well.

3.Add food coloring until desired color. Pour over brownie batter; pull through batter with knife several times for marble effect.
4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes depending on how you like your brownies. Mine were actually perfect after 28 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

- 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 can white or yellow corn (drained and rinsed)
- 1 can black-eyed peas (drained and rinsed)
- 4 green onions chopped (or half sweet onion... I actually used both because I love onions)
- handful of chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- a couple shakes of garlic powder
- 3-4 tbsp of sugar (I actually substituted agave nectar for this and it was great)
*Some versions of this recipe call for feta cheese. Husband does not like feta cheese or anything like it... so I left it out.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sugar Doughnut Muffins

This is the morning that husband and I look forward to all year long. That's right, it's gameday folks. And gameday means college football and tailgate treats. While we are heading over to officially tailgate with some friends later today, I started our day off with these little fat free gems and they were delish. I would highly recommend these for a morning tailgate before a noon game, bridal/baby brunch shower or a regular Saturday morning while you're watching Gameday.

Sugar Doughnut Muffins (originally from here)

- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking power
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (I actually used pumpkin pie spice, because I didn't have nutmeg and it worked just fine)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup milk (low fat is fine)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- 1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a muffin tin with cooking spray or vegetable oil.

2. In a large bowl, beat together sugar and egg until light in color.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Pour into egg mixture and stir to combine. Mix in vegetable oil, milk and vanilla extract.

4. Divide batter evenly into 10 muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full.

5. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. (Mine were perfect after 15 minutes.)

6. While muffins are baking, melt butter and pour remaining sugar into a small bowl.

7. When muffins are done, lightly brush the top of each with some melted butter, remove from the pan and roll tops in sugar. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 10 regular muffins or about 24 mini muffins.

Stay tuned for some more tailgate-worthy recipes!