Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My Promise To You

I've talked before about judging others, but this was something that has really been weighing on my mind and heart lately after hearing friends share their stories about how they feel like they don't measure up in comparison. Or how judgmental girls can be towards each other. In the day and age we live in, the only thing judgment accomplishes is making our world a more negative, hateful place.

Photo Credit: Mallory Prewett
So, my promise to you and myself, friends and readers, is:

I promise... to never use your words against you. If you say something I don't agree with, I'll leave it at that and respect you for being gracious enough to share your thoughts with the world.

I promise... to never judge you based on your stories or actions. I may do or say things differently than you, but that doesn't make me any more right than you.

I promise... to encourage you always and offer a listening shoulder whenever you need one. We're all in this community together.

I promise... to never be one of those people who tells you they won't share a secret and then goes ahead and shares it anyway.

I promise... to never go behind your back about anything. If I feel the need to say something to you, I'll say to your face.

I promise... to not judge you based off your appearance, style, etc. Everyone should have the right to be themselves and to express their individuality.

I promise... to understand that everyone makes different decisions in life and to support you in every stage of those different decisions, even if it's not always easy.

I promise... to be there for you at your lowest and celebrate you at your highest points.

I promise... to never think of myself as superior to you or consider anyone to be inferior.

I promise... to not look at another person's life and feel like my life doesn't measure up. Everyone has their own sets of talents, experiences, and an amazing story that should be told.

I promise... to be honest with you no matter what. My opinions are my own, but if I'm sharing them, they're my truest and most honest thoughts.

I promise... to not push my beliefs on yours.

These are my promises to you. Be the person that you are, and don't compare yourself against others. You're unique and an incredible being that's meant to be in this world for a specific purpose. You provide so much for other people by just a smile or your words.

The reason I love blogging so much is because of the encouragement among bloggers. We are a community, and we should all support and lift up each other. And I promise to do the best that I can toward that respect.

"When you judge another, you don't define them. You define yourself." Wayne Dyer

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Monday, September 29, 2014

A Little Patience and Respect

While driving lately, I've been absolutely stunned and outraged at the number of people that I have witnessed that cut people off in traffic, give the bird, yell obscenities, etc. It's made me think about how we treat each other in society and the direction our world is moving. Before I begin this rant post, let me say that I am 100% as guilty or guiltier than the person next to me. I understand that I need to exercise patience and respect much more than I do right now. But, hopefully we will all re-evaluate how we treat others on a daily basis.

Before moving to Utah, I spent three years working in retail. Many days I think that those years were a waste of time, and I couldn't wait to be out of customer service. But others, I thank God for that opportunity because it made me think how I was treating others that worked in a service position. I believe many of us could benefit from this type of experience, i.e. a low-paying job (most of the time) in which we are expected to be nice and patient with everyone and do our best to keep a smile on our face. It teaches us to try and keep calm and collected in even the most frustrating of positions, and possibly to have a little respect for others in the same situations.

We are all guilty of losing our temper or patience. On my 25th birthday, I had one of the worst shifts of my entire life at work. Nothing was going well, and it was a very busy day at the store that I worked in. One of my customers, at the very end of my shift, argued with me for almost a half-hour about a sign that he stated was incorrectly printed. I am the first one to fix something if I think it is wrong at all, and in this case, I even took care of the customer, though I knew the sign was correct (I had walked back to check it), and the customer had just read it wrong. Yet, he kept telling me how ridiculous I was and that I should make sure no signs were ever that confusing again, harassing me for over twenty minutes. It literally left me in tears. My manager and other employees told me that I handled everything very well, and they wouldn't have even taken care of the customer (meaning given them the lower price), and he should have at least thanked me. It was just an annoying situation, but it truly upset me. Later, I found out that this customer was one of my friend's favorite teachers. She claimed he was the nicest guy, but he obviously was frustrated (wrong or right), and he took it out on me. That instance really forced me to look at how I was treating other people.

Many people often tell me I seem to never be upset, always have a smile on my face, but I, just as others, get frustrated and take it out on other people. I am actively trying to not do that anymore. I want to take a few seconds to remind myself, in those tough situations, that this will pass, and the only thing that could make it worse is to inflict judgment and a rude attitude on the person opposite me in the situation. That person could truly be a mean-spirited person, but they could also be someone that is just trying to do their job the best that they can. Rudeness and ill-tempers in one case lead to a ripple effect, affecting many more than just a couple of people. It may not make much of a difference, but if there are ten more people in the world every day that chose to take the higher ground and react with patience, maybe there would be more happiness in the world. Either way, right now, every ill-tempered situation is just leading to more negativity and hatefulness, and I choose to believe little actions can make a big difference on our society.

I'm challenging myself and all of my readers to approach every situation with a little bit of patience and respect for others. Remember that everyone is inherently good, and people can seem unpleasant as an effect of a bad day. Force yourself to have a positive attitude, even when your day is not going the way you would like. It may sound cheesy, but spread a smile. It really is contagious.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Finding Balance

TGIF! Happy Friday, everyone! Sorry for my blogging absence lately. I've been a little under the weather and, also, a little overwhelmed! I sometimes struggle with finding a balance between work, being a wife, taking care of our cat and dog, keeping the house clean, blogging, hanging out with friends, and most importantly, spending time with my husband. Anyone else ever feel like they have too much to do and are not focusing on the most important parts of their life?

Because of this, at times my blogging suffers, and I'm okay with that. I absolutely love writing at New Home, New Name, New Adventure. It's gives me great joy to share some of our life with my readers and to connect with other fellow bloggers. But I don't want my relationship with my husband to suffer, nor my work. I strive to be the best wife I can and have the most successful career that I possibly can. I just don't want blogging to become a "chore." I want it to be something I look forward to. And so far, it has, and I can only imagine it will keep feeling that way if I prioritize.

So, for now, I'm going to get back to work and focus on feeling better. But I've already been working on some posts that I'm very excited about, including: My Hometown, A Day in the Life, Home Organization Project Reveal (and Future Plans), How to Make Two Different & Delicious Meals in 30 Minutes (dinner then lunch with basically the same ingredients!), and Work Wear Outfits.

See you next week, and don't work too hard! Enjoy your life. :)

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

One Year Ago, This Ring Appeared

Happy Tuesday, friends! On Saturday, it was one year since the start of the craziest year of my life (and is only now finally calming down). That was the month that we found out about Randy's job in Utah, and we decided to move here! It was also the month of our engagement, which was September 20th of last year (1 year from Saturday!). Since I wasn't writing for this blog at the time of planning my wedding, I thought I would share recaps of it on the anniversary of when they happened! I just love everything wedding, but I am thankful I don't have to plan one again!

Since we knew we were going to be moving to a new state half-way across the country together, and we had talked a lot about marriage, I was expecting the proposal anytime. My husband (fiance at the time, obviously) knew this, and he used it to his advantage. :) It's a fun but crazy story!

On Thursday the 19th, I went over to my husband's place after work. I was in the kitchen, and he was in the bedroom, and we were just talking about our days. He told me Honey had something to show me, so I walked into the bedroom, and Honey was there with a pretty flower collar on her neck. Hanging from the collar by a ribbon was a box that said "Mommy" on one side, and "I Love You" on the other. Fully expecting this to be the proposal but with the boy no where in sight, I open it up to find a RING POP instead of a ring! Everyone had joked about him proposing with a ring pop first, and so he had even asked me my favorite flavor: watermelon. Sure enough, the ring pop was a watermelon one. Totally had me fooled!!

The next day, I came over after work once again, and this time, Honey met me at the door with another box around her neck that said "Merry Me.... With Biscuits!" I dumped out the whole box thinking again that there might be a ring inside... but there were tons of biscuits instead! And no ring hiding at the bottom. Needless to say, Honey had a good, filling afternoon snack!

All the while I don't even know what to say and my husband is grinning from ear to ear, and I'm not sure what to think! I thought the ideas between the first two "fake" proposals were so cute, and I was already amazed at how much work and thought he had put into it, if this was leading up to the real thing! Shortly after the biscuits were tossed on the floor in hopes of the ring, he told me to get dressed for dinner. He took me to my favorite restaurant, and of course, I'm nervous and expecting something to happen all the time. Other than that, though, it was delicious, and I had a great meal laughing and joking with the one I love. But nothing else happened... until we get in the car after. Then, he hands me a jewelry box. I open it up... and it's full of tie tacks!

Let me tell you, my husband can be quite clever if he wants to be. ;) And he definitely gets points for creativity. A little later, we were back at his apartment, and I was getting something out of my purse when I turn around to see him holding the beautiful, opened ring box. That was when he asked me to marry him, and of course, I said "yes!"

Ignore the wrinkly hands... but this is my pretty ring! :)
I couldn't be happier with our story. It makes me smile every time I think about it, and it is perfect for the kind of couple we are (the kind who gives each other a hard time constantly and just enjoys laughing and joking and being with each other). We knew we didn't have much time to plan if we wanted to be married before moving west, so we immediately sent out save-the-dates and got right to planning! We set the date for less than four months after our engagement began, so we were busy from the very beginning, especially since the move was right around the corner. I'll post more about that later. :)

It's my love story, and I might be biased, but it's the best one I've ever heard. My hope is for the perfect love story for everyone!

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Not Your Life Plan, But His

In a year and a half, it will have been 10 years since I graduated high school. As insane as that is to think about for me, it is even crazier to realize that things didn't turn out the way I had planned them. Not to say things are done changing. I know there are tons of changes that will happen in the future, and maybe some things will work out the way I envisioned they would. But, when I graduated high school and thought about myself almost ten years in the future, I never thought I would be in Utah, living with my husband (that part, though, I did hope for :)), and working as a researcher. I definitely didn't think I would be in research. I always said I would get bored working at a lab bench and wanted to be in patient care. Little did I know...

So, as I think back on the plans and dreams I had, I thought writing a letter to my past self would be fun. I also plan on writing a letter to my future self at 20 years post graduation, so I'll post that soon. Life changes, and you just have to enjoy the ride! God will make sure you get through any challenges you might face, and His plans for you are even better than the ones you had for yourself. I guarantee it. :)

Dear Me, Recent High School Graduate,

Hi there. Right now, you're just excited to be done with high school and can't really believe that those four years of never-ending doctors' appointments while struggling to keep up with your classmates is over. You worked your butt off to have such a high GPA and a good ACT score, so you could go to the college of your dreams and get away from the small town life. Don't be too eager to get away. You'll miss it one day and realize what a great place it was and how lucky you were to be surrounded by amazing family and friends.

You're probably already thinking of how you are going to decorate your dorm room and making a list of all of the doctors you need to shadow in the next few months. Don't worry so much. It's a great dream you have: to be a physician working in pediatric cardiology. But, it's not the only thing that might be out there for you. There's a whole world beyond that in science. You have brains, and who knows, you might realize you want to be developing the concepts that physicians use in their practice. It's God's plan, not yours.

I know you're worried about dating and finding a relationship. It seems like every girl is eager to meet someone or at least have fun dating throughout college. Just enjoy these years. You'll meet some of the best people, and you'll have a great group of friends. Cherish them. Have great nights and days with them. Trust them. Respect them. Soon enough, you'll all go your separate ways, and it's a lot harder to stay in touch than you think. People grow up, get married, and have families. Priorities change, and these days won't last forever, so make sure you enjoy just being a college student. Go to parties and social gatherings. Study hard but not too hard. Stay up late, and enjoy those late-night rides just talking with the girls. The love of your life will come around when you least expect it, so just be yourself and enjoy every day. He'll love you for who you are, and that's the most important thing.

Sometimes you can be a real pain around your family. It's just the typical teenager attitude, and I know you're ready to be out on your own, but with all the medical issues you've been facing, it may not be time, yet. Thank your family because they are the ones that have been there for you through all the hard times. They're the ones that stayed up with you at night when you were so sick to your stomach from one medication or another. They're the ones that drove you to the hospitals, hours away, to make sure you received the finest medical care. They even took you all the way to Houston, TX, so you could have surgery by one of the finest surgeons this country has ever seen. They'd do anything for you, and you should show your appreciation and how much you love them, even if you're not having the best day. It hurts them to see you in pain, so try to be as positive as you can.

You get discouraged with not finding much relief from the pain you're facing, and that's just fine. But know that one day you will understand that you were given this struggle for a reason. You might not know it yet, and it may be many, many years before you know why, but you're strong enough to face it with courage, so keep on keeping on. It'll all make sense someday, and you'll be better off for facing it head on.

Enjoy every moment. Spend time with the ones you love. Work hard but not so hard that you miss out on things. I know you don't always feel well, but try to do fun things and have new experiences. Travel. Have long, meaningful conversations. Get outside and just be grateful for the life you've been given. You're a lucky girl. And just accept that things may not turn out the way you planned, but they will all be for the best, and you'll live a happy life.

Me, Age 26

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

If You Knew Me, You'd Know...

One of my favorite types of posts to check out on other people's blogs is the "get to know me better" posts. I saw one in particular the other day named the same as my title: "If You Knew Me, You'd Know...," and it had a lot of interesting and fun facts! It inspired me to do a post of my own like that for my readers, so...

On my wedding day. :) Photo by Brooke Hamilton.
If You Knew Me, You'd Know...

1. There is nothing in the world I love more than my family, and I love spending time with my "little" family: my husband, me, Honey, and Mickey.

2. I truly value my sleep. I'm cranky without it, and it used to take my mom forever to pry me out of bed in the morning. I sleep like a rock.

3. I want nothing more than to become a mom to a child one day, and adopting is definitely not out of the question to do so.

4. My favorite sport is softball, and I even became certified as an umpire to continue being in the field when I couldn't play anymore. Umpired for three seasons and loved it.

5. I love to make homemade ice cream ever since we received a Kitchen Aid and Ice Cream Attachment for our wedding. I just mastered raspberry ice cream. :) Recipe coming soon!

6. I'm a huge nerd. Give me a journal article or book to read about biochemistry, genetics, or microbiology, and I will be lost in it for a long time. Unless I have to read it for class or something. Then it's a different story.

7. Being instrumental and having my research one day go from "bench to bedside" is my ultimate career goal, meaning from the lab to actually affecting and helping patients.

8.  I also hope to teach at the college level full time someday.

9. Moving from MO to UT with my husband was both the scariest and best decision of my life. It's amazing how much our marriage and relationship has grown just the two of us figuring out this new city together.

10.   My favorite place in the world is sitting in my parents' backyard reading a book, surrounded by family. I took the time I could have been spending out there for granted, and I miss it.

Family pictures, 2012 - Photo by Mallory Prewett
11. I'm one of those "have to take pictures of everything" girls. Love having photos with my friends and family and keeping memories of everyday life. I look back on past photos all the time and treasure them.

12. It drives me crazy for things not to be organized, whether it's the house, plans, etc. It didn't always used to be this way, but now I'm a Type-A, organized, crazy person.

13. I would do anything for the people I love.

14. Steak and potatoes is my absolute favorite meal. It's because of my dad, and if you tried his steak and my mom's mashed potatoes, you'd be a fan, too. :)

15. And pumpkin crunch is my favorite dessert of all time. With cheesecake being a close second. Both specialities of my mom. :)

16. This upcoming holiday season excites me so much but also saddens me since it will be the first Thanksgiving and Christmas I can't be with my family. But, I'm excited for new traditions with my new family. :)

17. Fall is my absolute favorite season, and it always has been. It's mostly because I love to watch the leaves change colors and jump in leaf piles like a little kid. But pumpkin-flavored everything is nice, too.

18. I was always the girl that wore t-shirts and shorts unless I had to dress up until my mid-20's. Now I feel as if I should get dressed up every day and love it (and have to for work obviously). But as soon as I'm home, I'm back in a t-shirt and shorts or pajama pants.

19. I knew the day I met my husband that we were meant to be together forever. If you don't believe me, ask my mom.

20. I want to travel outside of the United States, but the places I am most excited to travel to are the National Parks. I love having it be the thing that my husband and I do and love together.

21. I can't stand the taste of cottage cheese or refried beans, but it could be due to the texture issues that I have.

22. I didn't truly appreciate country music until moving away to Kansas City from my hometown, which is filled with people loving country music. Whereas KC is not filled with people loving country music near as much. Ironic. And now it's my favorite. :)

23. I'm terrified at the idea of publishing a book with my life's story in it. I'm also absolutely thrilled at the idea. There are a lot of things that I could go back and forth on; guess I analyze things too much.

24. Speaking of, I over-think everything.

25. When I am truly down, the only person in the universe that can make me smile is my husband.

26. I always wanted to be a doctor growing up and through college. Due to medical issues, it wasn't in the cards for me, but I'm incredibly happy doingside research along doctors. And hopefully one day, I'll be Dr. P. :)

27. I've had a lot of medical issues, but they've made me who I am. If I could go back and change them, I probably wouldn't. It taught me about myself.

28. When I'm stressed, I clean. Or run. Both help me clear my head.

29. I'm incredibly outgoing when I'm around people, but I'm happiest when I'm home with my family, watching a movie and hanging out. I can be incredibly introverted, but most people wouldn't guess that about me.

30. Writing has become a passion of mine, and I hope to be able to make a career out of it, as well as science.

Uinta Mountains - Photo by my husband!

Hope you weren't too bored with these facts! I challenge you to make your own, so I can learn more about you, too!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tips for Small Trips

I feel like that person that's always going... that travels here and there and can't catch her breath. But, it's also the best feeling in the world to be able to constantly have plans ahead. I still haven't traveled outside of the United States, but I have been to many places within the US, and I can't wait to travel to them all someday hopefully (and of course overseas, as well!). Whether it's a camping, business, plane, or road trip, we often hop in the car and head somewhere, and I've learned some tips that have helped us be able to lead our busy lives and get everything together quickly before it's time to go!

1. Keep all of your necessary travel supplies in one place.

This is simple. Whether it's for a camping trip or luggage you'll need to pack necessary items, keep it all together. That way, when it's time to get ready, you're not having to go back and look around for all of the items you need to get organized. You're already halfway there!

Yellowstone National Park, May 2014
2. Keep a running "to-pack" list on a computer or notepad.

I keep mine in Microsoft Word on the computer, so I can print it off before each trip! It has every item I usually need, including: toothbrush, straightener, hair dryer, ____ shirts, _____ pants (with checkboxes indicating business, casual, etc.). Feel free to use mine (just email me and I'll send it to you) or make your own! I just go through a day or two before we leave and either cross out the things that don't apply on Microsoft Word or with a pen, and then it only takes around 15-20 minutes to go through the list and pack everything together. Voila! :) FYI: Always pack a jacket. You can never predict the weather. :)

3. Ziplock bags are a must!

Keep jewelry, medicine, shampoo, anything that spills in separate ziplock bags. That will keep things from getting tangled together (jewelry can be a pain to untangle and can ruin your nice items!) and keep things from spilling over onto your nice clothes. Learned that the hard way...

4. Roll your clothes.

If you have nice clothes but don't have an option to keep them in a hanging bag, roll them up. This was a life-saver for me when traveling to a wedding across the country. I had three or four nice dresses that I knew I wouldn't have time to iron, so I rolled them and placed at the bottom of the suitcase. They looked like they had just been dry-cleaned. Plus, it saves room!

Chicago, IL, October 2012 - The first trip my husband and I ever took together!
5. Set aside an hour the week before to plan your trip.

Whether you're flying, driving, or whatever, things come crashing down when you're trying to rush. Spend an hour a few days before and print off directions, plane tickets, accommodation emails, etc. It will make life so much easier for those to be printed out and placed in a folder. Make sure to put it by your purse or luggage, and you're set! Checking the weather and having an idea of the forecast will also help you save time in packing. But as I said before, just remember that raincoat/jacket. ;)

Oregon Coast, March 2014
6. Pack food and drinks!

Unless you're flying (then it can't be helped), but packing a few snacks and drinks ahead of time will cut down on both costs and travel time. That way you won't have to stop unless you need gas or bathroom breaks, and you're not paying ridiculous prices for fast food! And everyone gets tired of constantly eating fast food on trips, right?

7. Ask the locals.

If you're in a new place, the people that know the  area best and the best things to do are the locals. In LV with my best friend, we wanted to see the strip, of course, but it was the suggestion of the locals to hit up Fremont Street and try to eat downtown. Best. suggestions. ever. They'll be your best guide, and you may meet some really nice people along the way!

Las Vegas, NV, two weeks ago with my best friend for our girls trip!
8. Bring dryer sheets.

I didn't include this on my travel list, but this is something I learned from the past couple of trips. Static cling is bound to happen when everything is piled together, and dryer sheets will save you. Plus, if your hair has some static electricity bound up from all the traveling, it'll help there, too. :)

9. Keep it to a minimum.

Flying, driving, hopping from cab to cab, try to keep it to two bags. It'll save your life. :)

Alyeska Resort, AK, July 2013- Favorite trip ever!
10. Free wifi does exist.

Rather than paying the ridiculous costs for wifi at the hotel you're staying at (since not all hotels offer free wifi), go to a McDonalds or Starbucks and use theirs. Data adds up quick while traveling, trust me. :)

11. Always pack tennis shoes.

And wear them if you're going to be walking far distances. Your feet will thank you.

Lake Superior, WI, October 2012 - More from the first trip with my husband!
12. Pack a water bottle.

Water costs a ton, and if you're walking a lot, you're bound to get thirsty. A reusable water bottle will save you money and save you from dying of thirst. Ask my best friend who payed $4 for an 8 oz bottle of water in Vegas. We learned to refill our water bottles fast. :)

13. Call the credit card company to alert them you are traveling.

There's nothing that sucks worse than having no money to spend because your credit card company denied your card because it didn't recognize the place you were at. Make sure to alert them, and they'll keep you safe and allow you to keep using it, even 3000+ miles from home. On second thought, make sure to bring cash, too. :) You never know when you'll need it.

Seattle, WA, August, 2013
14. Try new things.

You'll regret eating at all the chain restaurants or only going to places you've heard of before. There's so much more out there, so try it all. Use your resources, ask the locals, and be spontaneous. It may look like a dump of a restaurant but have the best philly cheesesteak sandwhich you've ever had. You'll never know until you try.

15. If flying, never check a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, or prescription medications.

My husband works at an airport, and I can't tell you the number of things that could go wrong with receiving your checked bag. Not even just having it be misplaced. It could literally be stuck on the airplane because of a door that's jammed. (Trust me, it's happened to us.) Thankfully, I had my medications with me, but a fellow passenger wasn't as lucky and had to wait quite a while for his wife to receive her VITAL medications. Plus, having your toothbrush and deodorant handy will help you not feel so gross after all those miles.

Boston, MA, Summer 2005 with my dad and brother. Back again in 2008-2009 (over New Years!) for a conference! :)
16. Pack socks in shoes.

Such a simple concept, but it helps. Seriously. It'll help your shoes to not break (ever have a heel break because they were just tossed in your suitcase?) and retain their structure, and it'll save space.

17. Pack only things in checked bags that you won't mind TSA rifling through.

If there's something that means a lot to you, keep it with you. It stinks that airports are starting to charge for carry-on bags, but sometimes, it's worth it. I've been the recipient of many "random checks" (haven't we all?!), and things get broken very often. Trust me, they won't replace it, so it's better to be safe than sorry and have it with you. Especially those priceless souvenirs that you won't be able to replace until the next time you visit!

Destin, FL, December 2004 - I was maid-of-honor in my cousin's beach wedding. Can't believe it's been almost ten years!
18. Have reading material or try finding a new book at the airport.

There's bound to be delays, so even if you can sleep on the plane, it's not safe to sleep in an airport when you're holding on to your valuable items, so make sure you bring something to keep you occupied. It's the best time to read those books you haven't had time for, or to find something good at the airport newsstand. That last option just may cost a little more.

19. Don't keep anything in your car.

Whether it's a rental or your own, it's bound to get stolen. The last thing you want is to have to worry about it, so make sure you keep it in a safe place. Most hotels have safe boxes that you can lock valuables in. It's worth it to keep your stuff protected!

20. Pack a travel first-aid kit and keep it with you.

Especially ibprophen and Tums. You don't know how much it will come in handy! If you have a headache, sore muscles, or heartburn from a place you ate, it'll make you feel much better fast, and then you won't spend so much of your time trying to feel better in a hotel. Or spend so much money to buy these items. Band-aids are worth it, too. :)

Buffalo River, AR, September 2013
Hope these help you in future adventures! We have many more places we want to go, but we both have traveled quite a bit, and these are some tips that I use before going anywhere. It's saved a lot of heartache and hassle for myself and my family, and I hope it does you, too!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Thai Beef & Peppers Recipe

My husband and I love trying all different types of food. Mediterranean, Thai, Chinese, Hawaiian, etc. You name it, we love it. I never used to be that way, but my tastes have definitely expanded. A couple of weeks ago, we were watching the Food Network (it's commonly on in our house since both of us love to cook, especially me), and we watched Ree Drummond, "The Pioneer Woman," make an incredible Thai dish in her "Around the World" segment! I decided to give it a try and have adapted it a little, mostly because the last time I made it, it was toooo spicy! And that's coming from someone who loves spice! So, here's my version of Thai Beef & Peppers!



1 pkg pad Thai noodles
2/3 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp cooking sherry
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp ginger
1/4 tsp red chili oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lime, halved
1 lb flank steak
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 green bell pepper (or other colors, I used yellow, red, and green), sliced thinly
1/2 tbsp sliced jalapeno
basil for garnish
cilantro for garnish


1. Cook the noodles in pot of boiling hot water.
2. Mix soy sauce, cooking sherry, cornstarch, brown sugar, ginger, chili oil, garlic, and juice of half life in small bowl.
3. Slice flank steak very thinly (about 1/2 inch sections).

4. Pour third of above marinade into bowl with sliced beef and toss to coat. Reserve the rest of the marinade for later.
5. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in large skillet over medium to high heat. When thoroughly heated, cook onions for 1 minute. Add the bell peppers and jalapenos and cook for 1 minute until peppers are slightly browned. Remove the vegetables and place on plate aside.

6. Add 1 tbsp of additional oil into skillet that was used for vegetables. Add the meat mixture, allowing it to cook for 45 seconds. Then, turn the slices of steak and allow to cook for another 30 seconds. Add the vegetables back to skillet and reduce the heat to low. Pour the rest of the marinade into the mixture and stir. After allowing to simmer for 4-6 minutes, the sauce should thicken. If not, add an additional tbsp of cornstarch. When it has reached the consistency desired, turn off heat.
7. Drain the noodles and add to stir fry. Stir in hot water if needed to thin sauce.
8. Top with basil and cilantro and add the juice of lime to top.
9. Enjoy!

Adapted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/thai-beef-with-peppers.html

Hope you love it as much as we do!

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Fall Decor Galore!

It seems like we have something going on every weekend. Every. Single. Weekend. But this past one, my husband and I both desperately needed to have a low-key couple of days where we could just enjoy each other's company and let the day take us where it would. It was amazing. Between Friday night and Sunday, we enjoyed taking several walks, riding bikes, making some delicious food, watching a movie and some of our Netflix series (currently Prison Break), and of course, watching lots of football. We even managed to get our grocery shopping done! We also picked up some craft items from Dollar Tree and Michaels, and I put together a fall wreath, painted some mason jars, and put up all of our fall decorations, so I'm sharing the finished products with you!

Fall decor galore! 
I've been wanting to use mason jars forever to hold some of the flowers that I put out for each season. I saw some great ideas on pinterest to give them an "antique feel." Basically, we picked a couple of them up from Michaels and picked out a color that we thought could transition through each season easily (a sand color--we might paint some others in a fun color later!); then my husband used sand paper to give them some imperfections and give them a rustic look. I love how they turned out!

The painted mason jars and "P's" (for the wreaths)
Finished jars!
And this shows how I'm using them with other fall decor to display the flowers. :)

I also love making wreaths! This one was so easy. We picked up the branch wreath from Michael's for just over 4 dollars (plus they have great 40% off coupons!), and then I picked out a letter I liked from there, as well. I wanted a bigger one, but they are always out of P's... guess our last initial is popular? I thought the sand color would go well with the fall wreath, so I painted that along with the mason jars. I bought the burlap from Michaels, too. I also picked up some fall craft items from Dollar Tree, like these fabric leaves, the mini gourds, and the strands of "Indian corn." At least, that's what they look like to me! I made a huge bow out of the burlap and hot glued that on first. Next were the leaves on the right side and the gourds on the upper left. I added the P on the right side of the bow, and I finally decided that it needed a little more, so that was when I added the Indian corn on top of the bow. There wasn't exactly a plan, but I think it turned out nice!

Ta-da! :)
We have a basket of candles that are placed on our coffee table all year long, so I added some of the fabric leaves under it to give it the fall festive feel, too. The rest are all just decorations I have from previous years! I love the "Harvest Welcome" sign that I used in front of the mason jars and flowers (see above) and the "Blessings" piece. They both came from Walgreens two years ago, and I use them every year!

Hope you are enjoying this time of year. I can't wait for it to get cooler, but I am loving seeing the colors in the mountains change. It's such a beautiful time! :)

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Much Love!

Much Love!